Thank You For Smoking

“I love this movie. Jason Reitman’s feature writing/directing debut that started an incredible career, making him one of my favorites, even if he is skating on thin ice with me after his last two films that were uh let’s just say not up to standard. But here he comes out swinging with an original and clever comedy and a cast that included Aaron Eckhart, William H Macy, JK Simmons, Katie Holmes, Rob Lowe, Robert DuVall. I loved it so much, I took it home to show my Daddy one school break. “”I don’t want to see anything that’s going to try to convince me to stop smoking”” he adamently protested. He was a stubborn man, and smoking was the one vice he was stubborn about. “”Daddy, it’s called Thank You For Smoking, not Thank You For NOT Smoking””. I remember I convinced him to watch, but I don’t remember if he liked it or not.

As is often the case for me, what really wins this film in my eyes is the dialog. But it’s not just the clever jokes. It’s how smart and unexpected all the arguments are. It’s a movie about a tobacco lobbyist, so all he does in his professional and personal life is argue. Not the yelling screaming I’m mad at you type of arguing. It’s calm and calculated and impossible to win against. In real life, I’d probably be frustrated by him, but on film, I’m fascinated. I wish I could talk the way he does, until I see the toll that this lifestyle takes on him. Then I’m okay being more amenable.

The great state of Vermont will not apologize for its cheese.”

Kingsman: The Secret Service

“I hesitate to say that action comedy is my favorite genre. The truth is, it’s incredibly difficult to pull off, and very rare to find one that gets the balance right. Usually the ones that are great are more of one than the other (Die Hard is more action, Zombieland is more comedy). Still, when it’s mixed just right, you get a little taste of an indescribable and blissful heaven. Kingsman didn’t quite get there, but it was one of the most valiant efforts I’ve seen in a long time.

I shouldn’t be surprised that it worked, seeing as how it came from director Matthew Vaughn who knocked it out of the park with Kick-Ass. This time, instead of subverting the superhero genre, he’s going after the superspy. Colin Firth is a dashing gentleman of a secret agent, mentoring a young potential agent (newbie Taron Egerton). Samuel L Jackson’s baddie has a plot to take over the world using cell phones or something, and the recruits are left to save civilization.

It was a perfectly fun movie, but I felt like something was missing. Maybe Firth was too restrained. Maybe it was all too absurd and needed a bit more grounding. Maybe Jackson was a bit too much. I don’t know. Doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy myself. I do love James Bond and Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer and any other superspy this film was meant to pay tribute to, and this was a genius way to do so. I especially loved all of the training challenges the newbies were put thru.

I’d be very interested to see this progress as a franchise. The framework is there for it to be great. Just needs a little more polish.

Kingsman: The Secret Service – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

AMC Best Picture Marathon

“My Oscar obsession reached a new peak this year. Besides the traditional 2 day marathons of the year’s best picture nominees, this year AMC theaters offered 24 hour marathons by demand. Right at the wire, Boston reached the minimum signups, making Assembly Row one of 8 theaters offering it. Sure, I’d seen all these movies before, but this is a really good year. Besides, 24 hours locked in a movie theater? That sounds kinda fun to me.

Okay, so maybe the marathon was actually more like 20 hours than 24, but I did spend a full 24 away from my cozy bed. Here’s how the day went. BTW, I’m kinda OCD about multiples of five. You’ll understand what I mean shortly. Oh and I’m writing this while watching the Oscars.

6:50 – Wake up, ten min before my alarm. My normal weekend wake up time has shifted earlier since I’m usually up at 6:00 or 6:30 during the week. I’m not even fighting it any more.

7:10 – Leggo my eggo.

7:15 – Walk the block and a half to my beloved yoga studio. This may be the most walking I do in the day.

7:30 – Yoga class. Getting all nice and stretchy before I go and sit on my butt for 20 hours. I’m starting to have second thoughts about this whole marathon thing. It’s either the best or the worst idea ever.

8:25 – Savasana. Corpse pose. Enjoying some last few deep peaceful breaths before my day gets crazy.

8:45 – Quick shower. I can’t be stinking up the theater.

9:00 – I’d been previously torn between wearing pajama pants or real pants. Compromised with yoga pants

9:05 – Cereal and a tv dinner.

9:10 – Decide the yoga pants might still be pushing it, especially if there’s a chance of grabbing a bite at a nearby restaurant. Pull on some strange knit pants that feel like pajamas but look more socially acceptable, as long as I ignore the elastic ankles.

9:15 – Figure I won’t be dealing with the snow, so I can put on a real pair of Chucks for the first time in weeks

9:20 – Pull up Uber on my phone and try to signal my ride.

9:23 – Uber isn’t finding any cars. Google Maps tells me taking the T will take 45 min, assuming it’s running well. Panic starts. I need to get to the theater early. It’s one thing to be stuck with bad seats for one movie, but I don’t even wanna think about being stuck with bad seats for 8 movies….

9:25 – Use Uber to find me a taxi. It’ll cost more, but I’ll get there on time.

9:40 – Taxi driver takes a couple wrong turns and gets lost. Heartbeat quickens.

9:50 – Finally arrive at the theater. Run inside. Eavesdrop on the employees telling other attendees what the seating deal is. Run into the auditorium. I’ve only been to this theater once before, and the film was in the same room.

9:53 – By some miracle, my favorite row is completely empty. Most attendees have chosen to occupy the front section with the reclining seats. I put my jackets on aisle seats on the front row of the main section, right behind the safety bar/footrest.

9:55 – My movie buddy shows up. Show him our seats. We spend the next five minutes debating how far in to move. Center has a better view, but aisles won’t disturb the potential people who aren’t there. Spoiler alert: we end up having the entire row to ourselves (and the row behind is empty too). We obsesed over nothing, but did end up right in the center afterall.

10:00 – Buddy and I are rushing thru our catch up chatting (we haven’t seen each other in a while). At the same time, I’m frantically posting a FB status to kick things off. Trying to get it all done before the movie starts.

10:05 – Obsessively stare at the schedule on my bowtie lanyard, planning out food breaks and catnaps. Inventory food rations: water bottle, honey bbq cracker chips, 7-11 cheese Danish, 2 packs of peanut butter cracker thingies, 5 granola bars, 1 possible emergency granola bar that lives in my purse, 2-3 fun size Hersheys which I’m only allowed to eat as dessert after a meal.

10:10 – Boyhood starts 10 min late. NBD. Whoever planned this was smart to start the day off with the longest and slowest film. One of two that I am absolutely not allowed to fall asleep thru. Reason this one makes the list is that I first saw it in the summer, so it’s been a while. Also, I don’t really intend to buy the DVD anytime soon, so I should try and pay attention. I actually liked it a bit more this time around, probably because I knew what to expect. The film still lost some of my interest by the time our boy hits high school. He just kinda gets on my nerves, and the vignettes just aren’t as interesting any more. Movie buddy later commented that he thought Ethan Hawke had the best character in the film. I’ve been much said exactly that before, and it still held true this time. I still find the film absolutely beautiful as a work of art, and it was the perfect choice for kickstarting the day.

12:55 – Boyhood ends, and we have the first run thru of what will become routine for the rest of the day. Pick up phone. Check email. Check Facebook notifications. Bathroom run. Fill up water bottle at fountain. Optional snack run (not this time, as I ate the cheese Danish). Check the time on the door, and it’s been updated to show a 1:10 start time instead of 1:05. Good to know.

1:00 – Meet movie buddy at concessions. I hold my hands up alongside my eyes so I don’t see what myriad of options I have available, otherwise I will spend the whole movie anticipating whatever I decided on. Buddy gets nachos. I intend to mooch a few.

1:05 – Refuse to sit down until the film starts. Try to stretch and keep standing as long as I can. Check AMC app on my phone (which I’d only downloaded because they gave me $5 rewards). I have $20 rewards to spend, 10 specifically from the marathon, and 10 awarded for hitting yet another $100 threshold (it does help when my $65 marathon ticket was applied to my account). Decide it will be spent on lunch during the next intermmission.

1:10 – Theory of Everything Starts. Somewhere around the 45 min mark, I doze off for 20 or so. The BluRay is waiting for me at home, and I’ve seen this before, so I let it happen. The film is just as beautiful as I remember it. I study Eddie Redmayne’s performance closely. He starts running up alongside Michael Keaton as my choice for best actor. I really don’t know anymore who I want to win.

3:20 (maybe) – Movie ends. Bathroom. Water. Lunch. Was hoping for a cheeseburger, leaned towards chicken tenders. Instead, I see an offer of nachos or fries with “”the works””. Buddy and I agree to go halfsies on the waffle fries with chili, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream. Curiosity leads me to decide on the philly steak sandwich.

3:27 – I notice the desert counter. They have froyo. I begin recalculating my food schedule to accomodate dessert.

3:32 – OMG THESE FRIES ARE AMAZINGGGGGG. I’m in heaven. The cheesesteak, not so much. Oh well, less calories for me if I don’t eat it all, but the fries.

3:40 – Birdman starts. Sort of. Something’s off with the color, and it’s basically strobing.

3:45 – Birdman re-starts. Issue fixed. A lady somewhere behind me didn’t realize that color effect wasn’t part of the movie. True, it’s a weird enough film as it is, wouldn’t be hard to believe. I’d previously pegged it as a nap-able movie. Even though it’s my favorite, I’ve seen it twice, and the BluRay is also waiting for me at home. But once it starts, I’m hooked. I can’t possibly try and nap thru this. I watch Edward Norton’s first scene in a mix of awe at his performance, and sadness that he won’t likely win the statue he so deserves (granted JK Simmons equally deserves it, but we’ll get to him) (Also, as I’m writing this, best supporting actor is being announced and they used the exact clip of Norton in that first scene where I think he best knocks it out of the park). I catch little details I missed the first two times around. I still don’t really know what happens at the end, and I still don’t care. Every few minutes, my focus broke just long enough for me to start thinking about chocolate froyo with rainbow sprinkles.

5:50 – Bathroom. Water. Snacks. Must get the froyo, must get the froyo. Oh hey look they have red velvet cake. Oh now I’m conflicted. I start trying to think when I could fit both in. I was committed to the froyo, so that’s what I’m asking for. While waiting, I look over at the toppings bar and it looks kinda empty. Okay so maybe no sprinkles. I ask for my froyo. And the machine’s down. It doesn’t even take me a second to quickly counter with “”Red velvet cake!””

5:56 – While talking to the cashier who notices our lanyards, we realize we’re not even halfway yet. Oh dear. Cashier cheers us on.

5:57 – Starting to realize that if I didn’t nap during Birdman, it’s gonna be harder to stay awake for Selma, which is at the top of my stay awake list, since I kinda slept thru the middle when I saw it before. I steal a few big gulps of buddy’s coke, hoping the small dose of caffeine will be enough for this usually caffeine free me to stay awake.

6:00 – We start doing the math on the times and realize that as scheduled, there should be an hour break afterwards. I immediately regret the cake. But the schedule’s tracking late, so it’s unclear if the schedule will be adjusted accordingly. We’ll figure it out, but for now I’m enjoying this cake dammit! And oh hey, free posters outside. I grab a couple that I don’t intend to put up, but have people in mind I could give them to. As I write this, I realize I have become my mother.

6:15 – Or somewhere around there. I already forgot how far off we were. Selma starts. Before long, we start getting to scenes that are unfamiliar to me. Oh my God, I missed some very important stuff! I still felt a lot of impact the first time around, but this time I sat there with my hand over my gaping mouth during some really intense and powerful scenes. By the time MLK gave his speech in Montgomery, I had chills. Maybe the theater was cold. I start getting a little sleepy by the third act. Must stay awake. Must stay awake. I realize I’m more sleepy than hungry, and I start fantasizing about napping during the break.

8:25 – Movie lets out. That time I’m sure of. The parade out the door and to various stations begins. We check the door, and the time for American Sniper is saying 9:00. All previous ones had gotten adjusted times posted, so maybe no hour long break? Neither of us feel hungry. We haven’t seen the outside world, but there’s no more light from the windows in the lobby. Facebook tells us there’s snow.

8:35 – I decide to seize the nap! I move all the crap I’ve got on the seat next to me down to the floor, and I raise the armrests on all seats to the right of mine. Using my puffy warm jacket as a pillow, I try to nap, but mostly end up eavesdropping on conversations. I hear someone say something about free coffee for marathon-ers. I contemplate this option. I think there might have been a few min of sleep.

9:05 – People start filing in. What time are we starting at?

9:10 – AMC employee comes in and starts asking trivia questions, giving away prizes for correct answers. Except his first few are super easy and everyone is yelling out answers. Then he asks “”When Emma Stone filmed Birdman, she was in New York on break from filming what movie?”” “”Spiderman!”” half the crowd (mostly the kids in the front section) yells. “”Not quite”” The crowd quickly adjusts to “”The Amazing Spider-Man””. I see him starting to say no, and I put it together quickly first. I yell from my spot further back “”The Amazing Spider-man 2!”” I win an Unbroken dogtag keychain. I think it’s still in my purse. I try feeding my buddy an answer to a later question, not wanting to seem too greedy. He’s oblivious to what I’m doing, and misses out on a Safe Haven BluRay that he would have likely just given his sister. That’s what the guy who knew that when Stephen Hawking typed out “”Daisy Daisy give me your answer do”” he was quoting the song “”Bicycle Built For Two””.

9:20 – American Sniper starts. Between the excitement of trivia (yes, movie trivia gets me very excited, even if most of the questions are stupid simple) and the catnap, I’m feeling energized. I’m ready for this movie and excited to watch it again. I’m so into it, watching with such respect and admiration…And then when Chris Kyle hits his fourth tour, I’m down for the count and doze off until the trumpet music plays thru the start of the end credits. Oops. It’s okay. I still love this movie (I’ll be saying that about most of them, btw) and I know I’ll be getting the BluRay and watching that soon.

11:30 – Movie ends. The door says the next one starts at 11:30. We’ve given up all hope of a schedule. Unsure of what the concession schedule is, I decide to grab my free decaf coffee (not knowing if and how it will affect me) and some chicken sliders with fries. Right as I’m handed my sliders, I hear the other concession guy tell someone they’ll be open until 6 AM. Okay, so I could have waited.

11:50 – Another round of trivia. This time, he’s more strict about hand raising, and I’m less shy about repeat answering. For knowing that Lee Daniels was the original director of Selma I get an Interstellar tee, knowing Meryl Streep has been nominated 19 times got me an Inherent Vice poster, and knowing that Silence of the Lambs was the last film to sweep the big five awards got me a Baymax pin and the awe of most of the auditorium for knowing that off the top of my head so quickly. I resisted the urge to really show off and say that the only others to ever do so were One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and It Happened one night.

12:00 – Shouldn’t the movie have started?

12:05 – Someone goes to ask and comes back saying that they thought they had started it

12:10 – Theater goes dark

12:15 – Lights come back up, then The Imitation Game starts, and the lights go back down. Since I’d seen this one twice (once in Nov and again earlier that week when plans to see Jupiter Ascending were thwarted by a leaky auditorium) I decided that I would nap thru the whole thing. I spent the first few minutes debating whether it was worth clearing off the seat again to stretch out. I compromise my just throwing my jacket over my pile o’things instead of moving them. Luckily, my favorite scenes are early on. I watch Turing’s job interview, and I close my eyes but still hear the lunch confusion. From there, I’m pretty much out, except occassionally roused by the sound of gears on the Turing machine turning. It kinda breaks my heart to miss this one, but I had to sacrifice one if I was gonna get thru the night, and I really wanted to stay awake for Whiplash.

2:00 – Run thru the post movie routine yet again. Take a sip of the now cold coffee, and decide it’ll do. I don’t know if it tastes bad because it’s bad coffee, because I’ve never had decaf, or because I’ve lost the taste for it. Doesn’t matter. I chug like half the cup. I really hope I’m making the right decision (spoiler alert: I think so. No caffeine withdrawal headaches today and I did stay awake thru Whiplash as hoped).

2:16 – Post a very incoherent update on Facebook. I’d posted before at the start and at the halfway point, but felt the need to commemorate Whiplash and coffee. And I know this time is right because FB has timestamps. Science!

2:20 – Movie starts. I’m totally jazzed (pun intended after not originally intending). I think this is the single film I’m most excited to rewatch, and it’s just as intense as it was the first time. At key moments, movie buddy would take loud deep breaths in anticipation. I could only answer “”I know right?! AWESOME!”” so many times. I’d recently heard someone describe it as an action movie, and it makes so much sense. I’m an action junkie, and I’ve never gotten the rush from a shoot ’em up that compares to the one I got here. I’d also heard that it was supposed to be a clear frontrunner for Editing, so I paid really close attention to that. I don’t know much about editing, but I feel like I learned a full courseload from this film. Fast paced, but beautifully timed (Michael Bay, take note if you are going to keep insisting on your music video like cuts). Reaction shots, extreme close ups, quick whiplash-inducing pans, so so good.

3:55 – Whiplash ends. The dwindling audience applauds vigorously. Now think about it. We’ve just sat thru 7 movies. No other movie got applause. It’s now 4 AM. You’d think everyone would be passed out. I’d originally been bummed that this was on the schedule so late, fearing I wouldn’t be awake, but I realized it was perfect. Just the jolt of energy to get us thru the rest of the night. C’mon. Almost there.

3:57 – Thankfully I’d decided that I prolly didn’t need to fill my water because that side of the theater has now been blocked off for cleaning. Crew members cheer us on as the bathroom parade begins for the final time.

4:05 – Here we go. Last one. I’m actually feeling pretty good, but since this is my least favorite of the bunch, I’m totally fine with sleeping thru it. I assume the stretched out position. I actually manage to stay awake for a bit, just long enough to appreciate the charm of the film. I have so much respect for Wes Anderson, for how he creates his own special worlds and stays true to his unique style. I just always find his screenplays fall flat. I’m with it until soon after Gustav H and Zero arrive at Tilda Swinton’s place. Before I nod off, I hear rustling across the row. Buddy has copied my strategy and has stretched out across his side. I chuckle as I drift off to sleep. I wake up during the prison break, and watch until Bill Murray’s obligatory appearance.

5:50 – It’s over! I grab my pile o’stuff, realizing that except for the danish, I didn’t eat any of my snack stash. The pile has grown with all the swag I snagged and/or won. The final bathroom parade goes past the cleaning lady who has just finished mopping up the bathroom that had been slowly degrading throughout the day. I feel bad as I see my Chuck print tracks. There’s a larger parade behind me, so at least I’m not the only one messing it up.

6:00 – Get in buddy’s car and fire up the GPS

6:15 – Home!

6:16 – ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz

Fifty Shades of Grey

“Curious? That’s got to be the most apt publicity tagline for a me for a movie ever. It’s not that I was curious about the content, per say. I was curious as to what the fuss was all about. Why are so many people so rabidly into this story? I had to know. No way on Earth would this ever be my kind of movie, but a phenomenon this big is hard for me to ignore. Plus, I had a coupon!

I don’t need to explain the very thin plot to you, do I? No? Okay, moving on. I’ll admit, there was a lot that fascinated and intrigued me about this film. It raised many questions about relationship roles as well as trust and expectations. A lot of it had me really thinking, in a way that stuck with me most of the rest of the day. Let me set things straight, I was pondering things, not fantasizing. Philosphically different. What part of their relationship was okay vs what should have been a red flag to send Anastasia running out the door. What would I be willing to put up with vs what’s going too far?

Because for such a highly coveted romance, they really don’t have a lot of substance there. Like any other movie relationship, the two inexplicably fall desperately in love immediately. They can’t even bear to go a couple hours from each other. Gag. And for someone who claimed to be so devoted to his girl, Mr Grey really does put a lot of unfair and arguably abusive and manipulative pressure on her. Those are the sorts of things I was thinking about.

As far as the kink, it’s my understanding that it’s not a very accurate representation of the culture. I’ve been told that it should be based on trust, and that the open honesty and communication necessary to make it work make for a very solid relationship. That was not here whatsoever. Would I ever wanna read the book? Umm, no. Besides the fact that it’s amateurishly written, I feel if I really wanted to know about such things, there’d be much better sources. Still though, I’d rather re-read LOTR.

I’m coming off pretty negative, there was some fun to it. Yes, Jamie Dornan was incredibly hot. And while Dakota Johnson is a little green as an actress, she did have a likability. It’s my understanding that the screenplay smartened things up a bit, although much came off as very dumb. Without having read it, though, I could always tell when a line of dialogue must have been taken verbatum from the source. It was usually the really silly sounding lines that were meant to be sexy, often delivered in a fairly deadpan manner. Inappropriate giggles broke out in the audience. It was a fun fantasy to escape to, as long as you didn’t pay too much attention to the details.

Would I see it again? Not any time soon. A couple days after I was at the movies with a friend. Our intended flick was cancelled due to a leaky roof in the auditorium. Her first suggestion “”Would you see Fifty Shades?”” “”Again?! No”” I resounded quite forcefully. We saw Imitation Game instead. Much better choice.

Fifty Shades of Grey – \m/ \m/ \m/”

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

“Back around high school, I used to really really like Spongebob. My Dad, LOVED Spongebob. We had this routine every Sunday morning for a few years. Spongebob would be on from 9-10, and we’d usually have just woken up somewhere in the 8 o’clock hour. We’d watch those two back to back eps of the Bob. Then we’d get ready for Church and get there by 11. I don’t know how many times my Mom would come and yell at us about why we weren’t getting ready yet, and we’d always assure her we would as soon as Spongebob was over.

One time (and this is one of my favorite stories about my Daddy) I just wasn’t feeling it for whatever reason. Simply didn’t wanna watch Spongebob that day. After I woke up, I stayed in my room and put on a movie or something. Soon after 9 there’s a light knock on my door. “”Spongebob?”” “”Nah, not today”” “”But…Spongebob?!”” “”I don’t feel like it”” “”Spongebob!”” At which point the then 55 year old man on the other side of my door who never makes a fuss over anything starts whining and fake crying. We watched Spongebob that morning.

When I started seeing the trailers for the new Spongebob movie, I wasn’t sure what to make of em. Something just didn’t seem right. Maybe he lost his charm. Maybe it was too long since I’d watched him regularly. Maybe this whole live action mess wouldn’t work. I decided I’d only see it if I really had no other options. But then, as the opening weekend drew nearer and I realized that there weren’t may alternatives, I thought of my Daddy. And I remembered how excited he was for the first Spongebob movie. I was already in college. The film opened around Thanksgiving, but I wouldn’t be home until Christmas. We both prayed it would last that long in the theater. And it did, and we went, and much fun was had. I couldn’t help but think that I had to see the new one for him. In a way, he’d be watching this one with me too.

In the week leading up to the film, while I was still on the fence, I checked out a couple of reviews, to see what the general feeling was. A lot of it was pretty positive. The consensus seemed to be that if you like Spongebob, you’ll enjoy the movie. If you don’t like him, then you ain’t gonna be doing yourself any favors by going. I have to agree with the consensus.

Once things got going (and we got past the framework setting scene), I was transported back to Sunday mornings in high school. I’d forgotten why I’d fallen in love with that absorbent little sea creature. Suddenly, before my eyes, it came back to me. He’s so cute and innocent and funny and good hearted. There were so many throwbacks and references to things lost in the inner most spaces of my memory. I was happy to reconnect with this old friend.

I’ll admit, once we got to the out of water part, it did lose me some. In part, it had all just gone on too long (again, I wasn’t used to more than an hour of my porous little buddy), and also at that point the plot kind of stalled in favor for a big action sequence, playing with the new environment. Still, it was otherwise a very happily spent hour and a half, and I left with a smile on my face and a theme song in my head.”

Oscars 2015

“That time of year again. As per usual, I have lots of thoughts and I’m not shy about sharing them. These are more about how I’d vote than what I predict (but that’ll be in here a bit too). I’m going in the order the official Oscar website lists the nominees possibly skipping some of the lesser categories. Letsa go!

Best Picture
Ranked roughly in the order I would vote for them.

Birdman – No big secret this was my favorite movie last year. Yet for a little while, I was conflicted between this and Boyhood as best picture. But then I saw Edward Norton comment about how in fifteen years, film students will be picking apart this movie and studying it intensely. I don’t see that same fate for Boyhood. Birdman is simply a perfect film. Every element (screenplay, cast, direction, cinemtography, score) is spot on and a technical achievement in itself. That level of excellence deserves reward.

Boyhood – While it is not the most entertaining of the films, I find it to be the most beautiful as a work of art. The gimmick used is not likely to be replicated again, or at least not to the same effect. Once the fake trailers for things like Boy Meets World and Harry Potter done in the style of Boyhood came along, I did realize that the idea isn’t as rare as it’s made out to be, just the thought of combining it all into one film. I wouldn’t begrudge the film if it wins, because it is worthy of acclaim. I just think Birdman is worthier.

Theory of Everything – As far as traditional Oscar bait films go, this is the one that I would back. This film was beautifully done, expertly acted, and truly inspirational.

Whiplash – As far as personal enjoyment, I would have ranked this one higher. As far as Academy worth, I think the nomination is it’s big win. While the film is incredible and provoked an incredibly visceral response from me, it feels a bit narrow for the big prize.

American Sniper – I’ve never been moved by a film quite like the way this one did. It’s incredibly worthy subject matter, and was treated with the utmost respect. In a weaker year, this could have taken it all.

The Imitation Game – This also fits the traditional Oscar bait decription to a t, and it’s another important film about someone who should be celebrated. For me, it doesn’t stand out as much as the aforementioned films, but that doesn’t make it any less of one.

Selma – Simply put, I just liked the others way better. Yes this is an important film, and yes it’s very well done. It’s just a very strong year with tough competition.

The Grand Budapest Hotel – I enjoyed the first half of this one, and then it fell flat. I love the world that Wes Anderson was able to create, and how picturesque it all is. I just wish the story stood up to its ambitions

Best Actor
Such a tough race this year. All of them deserve very much to be on this list, edging out several other worthy opponents. The battle seems to be mainly between Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne. Going off the performance alone, I’d side with Redmayne. But I like to take in career and Oscar history as well, and Keaton gives the performance of a lifetime and has a long legacy behind him. Also, Redmayne loses points for the role being such obvious Oscar bait, and Keaton gains points for it being my favorite film this year. Next on the list I’d probably place Bradley Cooper. Besides the fact that he’s due soon, this role was completely transformative and unlike anything we’ve seen from him before. He conveyed so much by doing so little. Speaking of transformative, next we’ve got Steve Carrell. At the beginning of the race a few months ago, I was in his corner. I love when actors go way against type and succeed with such flying colors. But by now, I didn’t care for his film as much as I thought I would, and I just thought the others were a little bit stronger. That leaves us at Bennedict Cumberbatch. Yes, he was truly incredible, but I feel he’s eclipsed by his competition. Missing from the list, first I’d say David Oyelowo. I’ll admit I was kind of upset Cooper stole his spot, simply due to the fact that otherwise we’d have a pool full of first timers. Trivia aside, he did give a powerful performance. I’d also like to throw Bill Murray’s name into the ring for St Vincent. If you’ve just seen the trailer, then you have no idea of the depth and range that he gave in that film. Such a treat to watch.

Best Actress
Julianne Moore no question. No only is she overdue (as she’s on nod number 5), her performance was powerful and important. She gave such heart and dignity to her character, it’s truly a must see. Next, I think I’d go with Felicity Jones. Her understated and restrained performance really anchored Theory. Next to such a flashy costar’s performance, she could have faded into the background, but instead she stood her ground and showed the strength of her real life character. From there, I’d say Rosamund Pike. She has the unfair advantage of being in my second most favorite movie of the year (Gone Girl), and I just love the thought that this role was deemed awards worthy. She is such a conniving chameleon and is incredible to watch. Reese Witherspoon is being viewed as the possible upset, but her previous win knocks her down in my ranks. Wild was incredible and unexpected, but I’d choose the other ladies first. Marion Cotillard should just be happy to have made the cut. She gave a masterful performance, as always, but she had her time already. As for who’s missing, some would argue Jennifer Aniston, but something wasn’t quite there for me. Others would say Amy Adams, but Big Eyes was not her strongest, and the next time she is nominated, I’d really like to see it be the one she finally wins. Who I will say I would have liked to see here, longshot as it may have been, is Emily Blunt for Into the Woods. She should start earning some accolades soon, especially after this strong year she had (she OWNED Edge of Tomorrow), and she ruled the Woods kingdom.

Best Supporting Actor
This is the category that most truly breaks my heart. I am beyond torn between Edward Norton and JK Simmons. Norton is my favorite actor, Birdman gave him his best role in years, and he absolutely should have won for American History X some time back. Simmons is a hardworking actor worthy of recognition, playing against type in HIS best role possibly ever. One of these guys will win, and no matter which it is, I’ll be sad for the other. Although it’s looking more like Simmons, but my heart leans more towards Norton. After them Mark Ruffalo would get my vote for Foxcatcher. He’s such a versatile and emotional actor, showing off those skillz yet again. Ethan Hawke would probably come next for me. I lived for his scenes in Boyhood, and like all the other characters, he too grew thru such a great arc over the course of the film. And we all know that Robert Duvall is mostly nominated out of respect for him and his career.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette has been cleaning up here, and she deserves it. She could have even given lead actress a solid run, as Boyhood is as much about her as it is her child. Being able to connect so strongly to the same role intermittently over such a long time takes incredible talent and dedication. I never really cared too much for her as an actress until this film. I adore Emma Stone and was elated she got the nod. And we already know I loved everything about Birdman. Keira Knightly is also deserving of being on this list, but it’s not her year. That day will come. I loved Laura Dern in Wild, and am happy to see her here, but the role feels less substantial than her competition. And then similarly to Mr Duvall, Meryl Streep is mostly just here out of respect. No less deserved, but she’s the last I’d expect to see walk up to that podium.

Animated Feature
How on Earth is Lego movie not on here???!!!!?!!! UGGGGHHHH
I don’t even know what I’m rooting for otherwise. Probably Big Hero 6 but I wouldn’t mind seeing How to Train Your Dragon 2 take it. If we’re just talking animation technique and forget the sleepy plot The Boxtrolls excels. I haven’t seen the other two, less mainstream nominees.

Cinematography
I know this dude just won last year, but hands down it’s gotta go to Birdman.

Costume design
I think Maleficent would be a fun win. Colleen Atwood proved why she’s the master with Into the Woods but I’m kinda over her winning so much. Grand Budapest has some fun and quirky designs, or you could go with Mr Turner for your obligatory old time-y period piece. Inherent Vice should just be honored to be here, especially since it’s a tricky time period

Best Director
I think you’ve figured out the pattern by now, so I don’t need to continue gushing over Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman. Richard Linklater also had a difficult job of maintaining coherence over such a long stretch of time. Then there’s Wes Anderson. Actually I may even rank him one higher. Even if I don’t always enjoy his films (the writing has a strange tone to it) he has a very consistent and quirky style. You’d recognize one of his films from a mile away.

Original Score
I have to go with Theory of Everything. It’s the only score I noticed while watching that I did feel enhance the mood. While I can’t remember it now, I could remember upon leaving, and I’m sure I’ll instantly recognize it when I hear it later. I noticed the score for Mr Turner but I _really_ didn’t like it.

Original Song
I’m torn. Last year, as soon as I saw The Lego Movie, I asked if “”Everything is Awesome”” could please win best song. I freaking love that song and still want it to win, but I also absolutely adore “”Lost Stars””. I think Stars is the better stand alone song, and the better linked to it’s film. But Awesome is so much fun and different. Frontrunner seems to be “”Glory”” which is pretty strong too. The other two songs I haven’t heard. Indiewire’s predictions have Glory as Will Win, Awesome as Could Win, and Stars as Should Win. Out of all their predictions, I think that’s the one I most align with.

Production Design
Grand Budapest Hotel looks like a living dollhouse. So bright and toy-like.

Writing
I’d like Whiplash for adapted and Birdman for original. I also wouldn’t mind American Sniper or Nightcrawler for those respective categories.

And that’s all I have to say about that.”

Jupiter Ascending

“I will always defend the Wachowski siblings, the genius duo responsible for The Matrix and V For Vendetta. If we forget that the Matrix sequels existence (I prefer to live my life that way), then even their less appreciated films have incredible merit. Speed Racer had some amazing and ahead of its time visuals, and Cloud Atlas raised lots of philosphical questions. The one thing that no one could ever deny about Andy and Lana is that they are unparalleled when it comes to creating beautiful and unique worlds and spaces for their films, regardless of genre. It’s truly what they excel at and if nothing else, Jupiter Ascending was a chance to show off that skill.

The story, eh. Much of it felt rushed, although I’ll take a rushed story over a film that’s longer than it needs to be any day. Details were explained quickly. Characters inexplicably declared their love without having had much interaction. And it felt like an interesting idea that wasn’t fully fleshed out that was wrapped around a really good concept. Story’s never really been their strong suit though. That’s what killed the ma—those movies that don’t exist.

But there was so much pretty on the screen, the scenery and the cast. Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum did their best with characters that weren’t fully realized on paper. Eddie Redmayne would like you to forget this movie, and his strange old man croak, were a thing while you’re casting your Oscar ballots. He’s praying this role doesn’t Norbit him. And as far as the non-human (or in this case alien) pretty, it wasn’t just the cool backdrops and interesting costumes (although those were fantastic). The Wachowski’s are brilliant when it comes to choreographing action sequences. Remember, this is the team that brought us bullet time. Granted, by the time it was over done for the millionth copy cat film, you kinda wished they hadn’t brought it to us, but it was still groundbreaking and breath taking. This time, thanks to Channing Tatum’s flying roller skates or whatever they are, we had some great midair break neck speed chases. So. Freaking. Cool.

At some point, it doesn’t really matter anymore that the screenplay is weak.

Jupiter Ascending – \m/ \m/ \m/”

The Pianist

“I’d been avoiding the movie wall because I knew this was the next one I should choose. It seemed daunting. Long run time, heavy subject matter, previous unsuccessful attempt at watching. But being snowbound, and having caught up on yet another one of my shows and also having had plenty of time for gaming, I had no excuses. As fate would have it, this film really was worth a second look.

In the role that won him an out of nowhere Oscar, making him the youngest best actor to date, Adrian Brody plays Wladyslaw Szpilman, a real life Holocaust survivor. The film tells the tale of his journey and his survival. Very powerful stuff. Sure, its yet another take on a period in history that is often seen in movies, but the reason it’s often seen is that it’s very effective. This film was no exception. Something I found interesting (according to IMDB trivia) is that many of the small details and stories were actually drawn from director Roman Polanski’s own experiences during the war.

So I chose well for tonight, and I’ve gotten past what was blocking my progress on the wall. Go me.”

Enemy

“Here’s a Jake Gyllenhaal film that was released under the radar within the past year or two. I’d heard it was supposta be good, and I’m starting to really like him again, so here we are. Here he plays the dual roles of Adam, a history professor who is bored with his life, and Anthony, a struggling actor trying to make something of his. Adam sees Anthony in a movie and given their uncanny resemblance, he tries to track them down. THen things get weird.

Or at least they’re supposed to. The movie sort of lost me. It’s meant to be a thriller, but it had such a slow pace and minimal action (not that I was expecting shoot ’em up action, I mean events happening) I got bored. By the time we reached what I assume as the thrilling conclusion, I’d already fallen down the rabbit hole of Candy Crush and Fail Blog, so I really don’t know how it ended.

Better luck next time, Jake”

Mr Turner

“I didn’t have much interest in this to begin with, other than it’s place in the awards conversation. Timothy Spall had made it into some early predictions, but as the nominations neared, he was losing ground. I was mostly thankful that it meant that I probably wouldn’t have to see this movie that didn’t seem like it’d do it for me. The morning that nominations came out, I heard this called for a below the line award. Then another. And another. Huh, this really racked them up, with a total of 4. Crap, I’m gonna hafta go see this now am I?

It actually took some doing. I tried to go on MLK day, dashed out from my yoga class and ran as fast as I could in the very very cold (picking up a power bar on the way) only to arrive ten minutes late to a sold out show, and then had to trek back another 25 min in the cold to go home. Scheduling constraints and higher priority films pushed it out, until finally I made it.

My suspicions proved correct. I didn’t like this movie at all. Visually, sure it was pretty. Yes, Spall gave a great performance (anyone else feel like God purposely placed him in the wrong time period, specifically so that he could act in period films?). But there was really no plot (which is a lot to ask your audience to sit thru for 2.5 hours) and our title character really isn’t very likeable (again, not something ideal for 2.5 hours).

There were some side characters I liked, although for everyone that I liked (such as his maid) there was another that annoyed me (such as his over talkative hotel owner lady friend). It’s up for cinematography, production design, costumes, and score. The first I didn’t notice too much. The next two make total sense (period piece with lots of bright colors). The fourth, ugh, I did not like that score at all. It sounded dismal.

Let’s just be real here. This was never gonna be my movie. While it may have impressed those that go for your prestige art house pics, it didn’t fit with this entertainment driven viewer.

Mr Turner – \m/ \n”