Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On watching the 2011 Academy awards & Oscar Nominations for 2011 Academy Awards

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On Watching the Academy Awards on February 27, 2011

January 25, 2011

They announced the nominations for the 2011 Academy Awards show and I was surprised to find that I have already watched 5 of the 10 movies nominated for Best Picture.  It's a big year for Lesbians being portrayed in film with "The Kids are Alright" getting nominated for four Oscars.  I'm glad that Annette Bening won a Golden Globe for playing a married lesbian couple in "The Kids are Alright."  "Kids" is one of my favorite movies of the year.  I was surprised to find that Mark Ruffalo was nominated for "Best Supporting Actor."  He was snubbed at the Golden Globes.

Another film in the Best Picture category that has lesbian themes is "Black Swan."  I had a little trouble with Black Swan.  Although I thought it was a brilliant concept and original too for taking an obscure Dostoevsky novel called "The Double" and turning it into a contemporary adaptation, the lead character does not get any treatment for her personality disorder in the film.  Movies about mental illness are very interesting to me, but leaving the audience hanging without an explanation of her condition left me wondering what exactly was wrong with Nina.  I did like the music in the film and thought that it had a powerful message about talented people with obsessions who achieve great things despite having a disability.  My partner Mike and I had trouble decided what was real and what was hallucination or delusion in that film.  My friend Mary thinks the whole film was a delusion and she was never a famous dancer in the first place. It's hard to decide.

I'm not completely sure who will win the Oscar for Best Actress this year, they were all excellent performances.  Natalie Portman and Annette Bening seem like a tie to me.

I still haven't seen "The King's Speech," "True Grit," and "Inception." But I just might after reading that "The King's Speech" has the most nominations with 12 this year, followed by "True Grit's" ten nominations.  "The Social Network," and "Inception" both received 8 nominations.  Mike and Mary think that the praise for "The Social Network" was a bit over-rated, but anyone on Facebook feels obligated to like it.  Mike thinks that Mark Zuckerberg was selfish and mean in the movie, and didn't think he was a "hero for our times" as some critics claim.  I was surprised to find that Justin Timberlake was not very annoying as an actor.  In the end, "The Social Network" is another one of those "Yuppie-redemption films that were so popular in the eighties.  I didn't like that Mark Zuckerberg had to give millions of dollars to those yuppie creeps who claim Mark stole the idea for Facebook from them.  I did like that Mark is trying to good with some of the billions of dollars that he made from Facebook, but I guess all millionaires are obligated to be philanthropists.

Movies that I thought were ignored this year that deserve recognition are "Letters To Juliet" and "Somewhere."  "Letters to Juliet" was partially written by Puerto Rican playwright Jose Rivera, who I find interesting.  Vanessa Redgrave deserves some justice for warming our hearts in that film.  The critics liked movies like "Somewhere," "Please Give," "Morning Glory," and "Easy A" but they are nowhere to be seem on the list of nominations.   That's why I like the Golden Globes, because comedies and musicals are giving some poetic justice when they win on of those awards.  A comedy that was nominated for Best Picture this year is Toy Story 3.  "Toy Story 3" was intelligently written, and makes you feel camaraderie with plastic action figures being threatened with the incinerator.  More Pixar films should be in the Best Picture category.  But, then again, the more movies get nominated for best picture the more we have to spend as an audience.  It can be very costly.

Two action-fantasy-adventure films that deserve a little more recognition are "Alice In Wonderland," and "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part I."  Both are excellent and imaginative films based on great books.  I was at least slightly appeased by seeing that they received a couple or so nominations each.

I still have to see "The Fighter," although Roger Ebert's review(http://www.rogerebert.com/) turned me off to it.  My brother Juan, who is living at my parents now without a job, liked it. 

A movie that was nominated that is out on video right now is "Winter's Bone." Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of a impoverished girl looking after her family in a small cabin in the Ozarks moved me.  There should be more involvement and concern for people living in extreme states of poverty. 

I'll update this blog later after I see more of the nominated films.

Peace and Best Wishes,

Mike and I stayed in again to watch the Oscars, and we’re glad we did because it started to rain cold sleet in Chicago.  We made homemade bruschetta this time, from a recipe we found online, and it was delicious. Mike’s friends Betsy and her parents in California, who try to find homes for Catahoula dogs, sent us a nice present of Francis Ford Coppola products from the Coppola winery in wine country California.  We used the delicious grape seed oil in the bruschetta.  They also sent us “blood red” hot sauce that I like to use on everything including fajitas and tostadas and homemade pizza.  Also, she sent a Coppola’s Director’s Cut wine, pasta, pasta sauce and Coppola‘s favorite pasta bowl that was made in Italy (We mixed the Bruschetta in it.)  A perfect gift for movie fanatics like us, even if we tend to avoid some films because we are too squeamish about violence.

Mike decided not to drink alcohol this time, because last year he fell asleep during the long show.  He ended up liking this year’s ceremony, flaws and all.  James Franco and Anne Hathaway were very sweet and charming hosts, but the jokes written for them—by gay comedian Bruce Vilanch--were a little dry or weird.  Mike and I liked the opening film montage comedic scene with Franco and Hathaway pretending they had scenes in this year’s films.  Franco looked very sexy in a white full body ballet leotard like he was Nureyev.  Those ballet outfits make you keep staring at dancers’ bulges, which distract you from the ballet.  I couldn’t stop looking at Franco’s butt!!  Franco played Allen Ginsberg in a movie last year that Mike and I saw at the Music Box Theater, and thought Franco was great.  He gave me new found forgiveness and respect for Ginsberg’s famous “indecent” poem “Howl.”  I checked out Ginsberg books at the public library and started to like his not-so-explicit, more obscure personal poems like Kaddish, A Supermarket in California, and Fall of America, which won the National Book Award.  My friends Andrea and Larry liked “Howl” too, for creatively animating a poem with no-so-“degenerate” art.  I can’t help that Ginsberg was mocking Nazis when he wrote that poem and others like it.

Anyway, Mike and I liked the digital screens with arches that flickered different backdrops on the stage at the Eastman/Kodiak Theater in Los Angeles.  The video of people being asked their favorite film songs was interesting to me.  I was glad that Randy Newman sang “We Belong Together” and won the Oscar for that song.  Last year’s show was more boring without the song performances.  I’m glad they didn’t introduce every single best picture nominee, which made last year’s show drag on and on.
Mike and I went to www.Mubi.com where we posted our “Outguess Ebert” Oscar picks.  Overall, I did better than Mike this year.   I picked 15 of the winners and Mike picked 11, out of the 25 categories.  Roger Ebert got 11 right this year.  Mike and I like Ebert.  We met Chaz and Ebert at a Border’s book signing last year, and they were polite and sweet.  Ebert signed sweet comments in my Great Movies I, II, and III books and shook my hand.  On Friday, February 25, 2011, Mike and I went to a sold out show at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra that was a Tribute to Roger Ebert’s favorite film music.  It was deeply moving.  The orchestra beautifully played Moon River, As Time Goes By—Obama’s favorite, the theme to Romeo and Juliet(1968), and a surprise performance of E.T.!!  I love the soundtrack to E.T.  Next season the CSO will perform the music to West Side Story and Casablanca while playing the films.  We all gave Ebert and standing ovation when he walked on stage with his wife Chaz.  It was a wonderfully touching moment.  Richard Kaufman’s arrangements were amazing!!

Overall, no one movie swept the awards.  Inception, a movie Mike and I haven’t seen yet, won the most Oscars—five, yet mostly in the technical categories.  King’s speech didn’t win as many awards as people thought it would.  Maybe because there is controversy surrounded King George VI and his anti-Semitic brother Edward who met Hitler and hated Jewish people immigrating into Palestine.  A lot of Jewish people were annoyed by “King’s Speech” for that.  It wasn’t until Churchill’s speeches and the bombings of Britain by the Nazis that the U.K. was rallied against fascism.  Mike and I just saw the Diary of Anne Frank on stage after watching the Oscar winning documentary “Anne Frank Remembered.”  We learned that Anne had pictures of King George VI’s daughters, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret on her wall in her hiding place in Amsterdam.  I suppose history and Queen Elizabeth tried to compensate for that when she became queen by fighting racism.   Why would the Weinstein brothers—being Jewish-- make a film about such a complicated king? Maybe, it was to show that time compensates for some things?  Geoffrey Rush, who we thought would win, said at the Screen Actors Guild Awards that the movie should have been called “The King’s Speech Therapist.”
Tom Hooper thanked his mother for giving him the idea for the “King’s Speech” when he won for Best Director.  Mike and I and Ebert and even my neighbor Yolanda all thought King’s Speech should win Best Picture and it did.  Although, we liked “The Kids are Alright” better, because it was about a married Lesbian couple, and we believe in gay marriage. Write to www.Congress.org saying “Yes, to Gay Marriage and GBLT Civil Unions!”

I thought Melissa Leo and Christian Bale would win for “The Fighter,” and they did.  Mike and Ebert wanted Rush to win.  Hailee Steinfeld was very good in “True Grit,” which made Ebert want her to win.
It didn’t bother me so much at Leo said the “f” word when she won.
It would have been more interesting if Colin Firth did break into a little jig during his speech as he was afraid he might.

It was good to see “Alice in Wonderland” win two Academy Awards for Costume and Art Direction.  Mike and I and Andrea—www.AndreaKaspryk.com—liked Tim Burton’s film version.
The weirdest moment of the night was when Trent Reznor, who wrote psychotic music in the nineties, won an Oscar for Original Score.  I guess there’s a time for many to redeem themselves.   Should we forgive him?  After the 911 tragedies, I stopped listening to a lot of nineties music, like Nine Inch Nails.  What was all that rage in music leading up too?  A lot of needed therapy and mental health treatment most likely.  We are glad Natalie Portman won for “Black Swan,” a film about talent and untreated mental illness.

The most touching moment of the night came when Oprah came on stage to announce Best Documentary, knowing that “Waiting For Superman” did not get nominated. She tried to get everyone to watch “Waiting For Superman” about improving the American public school system.  We do need to give home to public school students!!  Public schools were given poetic justice at the Oscars this year by the performance of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by Public School 22 kid’s chorus group.
  In the end, Mike and I were glad “Toy Story 3” won best animated film, even though Mike and I like Jacques Tati’s story for “The Illusionist.”  "M. Hulot’s Holiday" is one of our favorite films.
Mike liked this year’s ceremony, including Kirk Douglas’ appearance and the music.  The dresses we saw were not to bizarre this year.  Maybe people’s tastes are improving?
I wondered where Bansky was during this show.  Franco made me look forward to seeing his up and coming film about the gay, American poet Hart Crane called “The Broken Tower.”  I love movies about poets.  Why hasn’t someone made a movie about Emily Dickinson?

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Read my blog about watching Oscar nominated films at: www.RubenandMike.Blogspot.com

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