Predicting the 87th Academy Awards

86th Oscars®, Governors Ball Preview

(UPDATE: 02/22/15, 9:26 p.m.: I went 19/24 this year, which is about my average when it comes to predicting the Oscars over the years. The categories I got wrong were Director, Animated Feature, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, and Sound Mixing. Of these, Director, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, and Sound Mixing were really tricky categories to predict. Here’s to better luck next year!)

The time has come to take my annual psychic test, and I find myself both excited and unsure. The Oscars ceremony is set to televise in less than 24 hours, and I’ll be second-guessing my predictions down to the wire. This is the most competitive Oscar race in recent memory (even with this year’s snubs in mind – I cry for thee, A Most Violent Year), and for those who have been following this race for years, we’re in for a treat. There’s only a handful of guaranteed wins, and it’s so close for a good number of categories that only one in as many as three films can win that coveted statuette. This is going to be a nail-biter, and I find it humorous and somewhat sad how I’m using that word to describe an awards event that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

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REVIEW: A Most Violent Year

CityscapeWatching A Most Violent Year is a blast from the past. It hearkens back to the brooding crime drama films from the ’70s and ’80s, which were irresistibly good ol’ fashioned adult entertainment. When was the last time we saw those types of films? Those were films that weren’t afraid to dive into dark territory yet packed nourishing food for thought – the films that showcased decent and sympathetic characters driven to making decisions that determine who they will be. This is a film that has all these goodies on full display, and what a grand show it is.

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I Need a Beer: My Top 10 of 2014

Just another evening of drinking...

Just another evening of drinking…

It’s now a month into 2015 and it’s time to reflect on all the delicious beer that was had in 2014. That’s right people, welcome to my 10 Favorite Beers of the year! Any of these beers would certainly be good enough for me in a moment of brew-neediness.

But before I get to it, I want to at least acknowledge some really great beers that just missed the cut. Some of these are probably better than the beers that made the list but again, these are my favorite beers, not the beers I think are the most well-made or objectively the best. So to these beers, y’all were awesome, you just weren’t my favorites…

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We’re Halfway There: A mid-season look at the new TV offerings

bannerA little delayed but I wanted to take a quick (fair warning, it should be looooooong look with quick touches on each show) look at the halfway point of this season’s TV run. This year, there have been a lot of interesting new options for my television dance card and in case some of you were thinking about adding some new shows to your watchlist, I thought I’d take the opportunity to give you some highlights, lowlights, and general information about each show at the halfway point. Additionally I’ll share my list of things I like and don’t like about this Fall’s run of television for shits and giggles. Disclaimer: I am by no means a critic. As I have shared in the past, I am easily entertained and appreciate most movies and TV shows. I do recognize crap but sometimes, crap is fun. Also, spoilers ahead. Continue reading

REVIEW: American Sniper

Sandstorm

What the best way to portray a controversial figure onscreen? I’m sure that the common answer many will give is to stick to the truth. As admirable as that is, you can’t expect films to be completely factual. Facts are a product of objectivity, which is certainly not a word that applies to any film. At the end of the day, films are films, not history textbooks (this goes for documentaries as well, by the way). A film’s chief goal should be to tell a good story, and that transcends an obligation to portray events and people accurately. When the story is about someone contentious, the best way to deal with that is to make said person human.

Enter Chris Kyle, proclaimed to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills. American Sniper, adapted from Kyle’s autobiography of the same film, depicts his service in Iraq and his struggle to balance his commitments to his country and his family. The man himself is a divisive figure; many see him as a caring and good soldier, others call him a murderer and a pathological liar. What the film should do is to portray him as a human being like everyone else: flawed yet sympathetic. Unfortunately, the picture keeps its distance from its subject, and while it’s a solid film, it ultimately doesn’t give both Kyle’s story and Kyle himself the treatment they need.

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REVIEW: Inherent Vice

StonedNothing will prepare you for Inherent Vice, the latest film to come from the celebrated Paul Thomas Anderson. I tried to prepare myself for it in whatever way I could, but – after watching it – was left scratching my head but also quite engaged in a trippy way. What is Inherent Vice? People will respond to that question with varying answers. Some may say it’s pretentious or self-serving. Some may say it’s an homage to film noir. Some may say it’s overrated. Some may say it’s a love letter to California. Some may say it’s a masterpiece. Me, I say it’s mesmerizing.

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REVIEW: The Imitation Game

ChristopherIncredible stories need the treatment they deserve. It’s not just about telling the story in a way that’s not a paint-by-numbers treatment, nor is it about giving it weight; it’s also about bringing to light certain aspects of the story that are compelling and play a great role, even if they are challenging or uneasy to stomach. In other words, it’s about doing justice to the story.

On a surface level, the Imitation Game possesses an incredible story, and a true one to boot: Alan Turing, a brilliant British mathematician, helped crack the Nazi Germany’s top-secret Enigma Code during World War II, only to be criminally prosecuted for his homosexuality years later. With this story, the film is entertaining enough and at times emotionally affecting, but its disjointed narrative and treatment of compelling material neuter it, thus making the picture itself fall short of memorable.

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