Monday, September 29, 2014

The Missing Scarf

Well, well, well. Nearly seven months after I published my piece on the animated short film field, The Missing Scarf is finally available. Here's what I wrote at the time:
Apparently some venues didn't show the animated shorts in conjunction with the live action shorts as the Detroit Film Theater did. Instead, the animated shorts presentation was padded by three other films there were all supposed also-rans. One of which has apparently stuck out to people. I do hope I can find a copy of The Missing Scarf soon as I've heard it's the best of the bunch.
The Missing Scarf follows a formulaic rote that is common in children's books and fellow animated short contender Room on the Broom. From the beginning, though, it seems like it deals with more adult problems than a squirrel in search of a scarf might beget. Indeed, as the short develops, it feels like it would be more at home in Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Animation Festival than your niece's Sunday school. Don't get me wrong, it isn't deranged or perverse in any sense, but it is a bit despairing.

The story isn't the interesting bit here, though. The animation is perfect for 2014 in maybe the same way that ReBoot was perfect for 1994. The character designs, settings, and effects were simple and bold in a really refreshing way for CGI. It was almost like watching a really enjoyable, crisp infographic, which still sounds way worse than it is. It's all hard edges, smooth curves, solid colors, and high contrast. The Missing Scarf is a real treat to watch.

All of that said, I absolutely understand why The Missing Scarf wasn't included. There were simply other shorts that were either more fun or more affecting. I wouldn't begrudge it nudging out a film, but neither can I begrudge those films nudging this out. Furthermore, it isn't a short that I think ranks above either Tsukumo or Get a Horse! (neither of which ended up winning), so the lack of inclusion for The Missing Scarf I really don't think had an impact on the award.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Guest spot!

Some of you might now I was asked to be an expert witness co-host on an episode of The Projection Booth some months ago as they talked about Myra Breckinridge. Apparently they thought I was clever enough to have me back, so tune in as they bring me in again as co-host for my first John Waters' film Female Trouble.

To those of you coming in from TPB, thanks for swinging by. If my opinions should make you sick, please at least let someone know, so they can mop up the carpet.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Postshow Recap

Based off my pageviews, can you tell when Oscar Season is?

So how'd I do? Five times I both liked and correctly picked the winner. Another four times I agreed with the academy voters but predicted incorrectly while eight times I predicted correctly while disagreeing.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Best Picture

Well this is it, the last major article before the Oscars are presented tonight. I've already talked at length about these films as even the least nominated film Philomena snagged three other nominations. At the other end of the spectrum I've gone on about American Hustle and Gravity a whole mess of nine times already. To note, there are only eighteen categories possible (seventeen for American films), so ten nominations is pretty hefty. Only two films have ever pulled in fourteen: Titanic and All About Eve. Ten isn't terribly uncommon as thirty-two other films have reached that mark with poor, poor Gangs of New York not winning a single one of them. That's not the record, though! Both The Turning Point and The Color Purple put up goose eggs with their eleven tries.

Now, I know I said I'd stop saying this, but since I've talked about these all ad nauseum, maybe I can get through them pretty quickly*. Later today I'll be putting up a total list of my hopes and predictions.

On to the nominees!
  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Nebraska
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

Preshow Recap

The show's just about to start, so let's take a quick overview of my thoughts on which nominees should be and will be winners. I do have a couple changes and a case where I don't think I had submitted a decision.

Enjoy the production, and if you really need something Oscar-related to fill your time, The Hollywood Reporter has an excellent "Brutally Honest Oscar Voter Ballot" series you should check out. After, you know, reading everything I've posted. Obviously.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Animated Short and Feature Films

This is the last genre article and the last article at all before best picture talk! I'm excited. I also just have to finish Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom because - in the interest of full disclosure - no, I didn't actually watch it before writing about its original song (nor had I watched Despicable Me 2). After that, I may or may not watch Alone Yet Not Alone whose nomination was rescinded and The Missing Picture which won't be available for a couple weeks yet. The end is so close I can taste it! Wait, no, that's the lingering taste of candy and energy drinks I've been consuming in high quantities to get through Oscar Quest 2014.

Short Film, Animated:
  • Feral
  • Get a Horse!
  • Mr. Hublot
  • Tsukumo (Possessions)
  • Room on the Broom

Friday, February 28, 2014

Writing: Adapted and Original Screenplay

Taking a step away from the best films in their genres for a moment, I'll take a look at screenplays. The delay is largely due to Before Midnight which presented a couple of logistical issues. The first being that it was the third film in a trilogy of which I'd not been exposed as of yet. The second being that I had roped someone into watching them with me, so scheduling was a bit trickier. We finished just in time, though, so let's take a look at the screenplay nominees.

Adapted Screenplay:
  • Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke for Before Midnight
  • Billy Ray for Captain Phillips
  • Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for Philomena
  • John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave
  • Terence Winter for The Wolf of Wall Street

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Foreign Film and Live Action Short

I'm literally beginning to write this post in tears as I deleted over 2,200 words on my two favorite categories. With any luck, analyzing these another time will be more productive than the first time.


Anyway, that puts me behind on my already overfull schedule, but I think I can still make it. I had decided to put the short form live action films with the foreign films for a few reasons. Firstly, they're almost all foreign (one is English and from the UK). Secondly, I didn't want to pair them with the best picture nominees as that'd be both a really long post and slightly distracting from the grand finale. So let's get to it. I had the pleasure of catching the short films at the Detroit Film Theater and supposedly you can now see them on demand from iTunes and Amazon. That's not quite as true as they'd have you believe, so you'll have to do a bit of scrounging to find what you may.

The short film nominees:
  • Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)
  • Avant Que de Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)
  • Helium
  • Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
  • The Voorman Problem

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Documentaries: Feature and Short Subject

I start a serious bout of writing that will optimally conclude with the Best Picture article on Saturday. I'm doubling up the short films with their closest feature length category, so, while I'll still be putting out an article a day, I'll be covering ten films instead of five. I'm also going to combine adapted and original screenplay, and best picture of course has nine nominees. Over the next five days, I should be writing about forty-nine films.

What was I thinking when I wrote this schedule?

I had the pleasure of catching the short films in the theater, but many of them are available as of today online, so you're not too late. Maybe.

The nominees for documentary short subject are

  • CaveDigger
  • Facing Fear
  • Karama Has No Walls
  • The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
  • Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Directing is a category I thought I maybe knew a fair bit about before I started really delving into the technical categories. Now, I feel like I either know way more or way less as I see just how much all those other things are under other players' control. Let's see how this goes. The nominees up are:

  • David O. Russell for American Hustle
  • Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity
  • Alexander Payne for Nebraska
  • Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
  • Martin Scorsese for  The Wolf of Wall Street 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Lead Actress

Let's not use the Android app for blogger anymore. It evidently doesn't like me and deleted the beginnings of this post twice. It seems sad to me that for both the men and the women, there's so much overlap in the films that carry lead acting nominations with those that carry supporting acting. I'm more upset here because I saw some roles I definitely thought should be nominated over at least some in the current batch. So who was nominated?
  • Amy Adams in American Hustle
  • Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine
  • Sandra Bullock in Gravity
  • Judi Dench in Philomena
  • Meryl Streep in August: Osage County

Friday, February 21, 2014

Supporting Actress

I had a beautiful little write-up going along, but the Blogger Android app doesn't save as you go, so bye bye. I have a really hard time writing things twice, but we'll try. It's better than trying to go out to eat in a city that doesn't know what a frickle is! Now that we have the boys out of the way, onto the ladies.

  • Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine
  • Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle
  • Lupita Nyong'o in 12 Years a Slave
  • Julia Roberts in August: Osage County
  • June Squibb in Nebraska

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lead Actor

I've had some technical difficulties over here involving massive data loss that has precluded my watching of Blue Jasmine. As such, supporting actress will have to wait, and instead, we'll wrap up the men today. If you're wondering why I'm writing up the acting before other awards, I think it's pretty simple: while each actor is massively important, I think that they're simply not the most important category behind best picture. I'd rather see a movie written by an amazing screenplay author or a film to which a great director is attached than I would a movie starring a really good actor. Beyond that, I think that, like best picture, the animated, documentary and foreign films are all more important than single actors; so, too, are the shorts.

Or maybe I just haven't gotten to seeing everything else yet. You decide.

So who's up?

  • Christian Bale in American Hustle
  • Bruce Dern in Nebraska
  • Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave
  • Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club

Monday, February 17, 2014

Supporting Actor

I can't even begin to say how disappointed I am in this year's supporting actor nominees. Last year was a quite solid year with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones and Christoph Waltz and a couple other good nominees. Two years prior to that Christian Bale and Geoffrey Rush delivered amazing performances.

And here we go again nominating Jonah Hill again. Ugh. Stop it.

  • Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips
  • Bradley Cooper in American Hustle
  • Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave
  • Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Music: Original Score and Original Song

I like to listen to music. I date musicians. I have gone to the symphony and to concerts. For that, I don't know a thing about music in a technical or professional sense. I have not predisposition, inclination, or aptitude.

But I'm going to write anyway. How's that for selling it?

The films with nominations

Original Score

  • The Book Thief 
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Philomena 
  • Saving Mr. Banks
Original Song
  • Alone Yet Not Alone (nomination revoked
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Frozen
  • Her
  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Friday, February 14, 2014

Costume Design

I can only write so many posts ahead of time, so now I'm writing from the road.  I hope you'll forgive the greater amount of mistakes, fewer sceencaptures, and perhaps shorter form. Time will tell just how much I enjoy writing on a tablet; my current feeling is that I don't.

Today I'm going to look at costume design which I took some delight in. The films garnering nominations are

  • American Hustle
  • The Grandmaster
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Invisible Woman 
  • 12 Years a Slave

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sound Editing and Sound Mixing

Hah! I finished that last article about film editing at 723 words. Remind me never to say I don't know anything and won't have much to talk about again!

Since I don't know anything about sound editing or sound mixing, I'm going to lump them together. Even still, it shouldn't take too long. As you'll see, there's a lot of overlap.

Sound Editing:
  • All is Lost
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Lone Survivor
Sound Mixing
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Lone Survivor

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Film Editing

Keeping in line with cinematography and the visual arts we'll go straight into Film Editing. I always start off saying that I don't know much about what I'm talking about and that the post will be short. I'm not going to do that here, though, because then the posts seem to spiral out of control. I'd like to not write a thousand words on this category. The nominated films are:
  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • 12 Years a Slave
There are a number of films I'm surprised didn't get a nomination here: Her, Nebraska, Prisoners, and Wolf of Wall Street. In the end, though, none of them deserve to take home the award, so it isn't terribly important.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


When I did my first Oscar Quest in 2011, I had zero idea of what cinematography entailed, and I wish I had stumbled across this before the awards rather than after. My understanding of cinematography has certainly grown in the years since as I've linked it more and more to my still photography knowledge. As such, I'm excited to take a stronger (if still critically underinformed) look at the category than I've been able to in the past.

The nominated films:
  • The Grandmaster
  • Gravity
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Nebraska
  • Prisoners

Monday, February 10, 2014

Visual Effects

The films carrying nominations for the Visual Effects category are
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
  • Iron Man 3
  • The Lone Ranger
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness
These films can be roughly categorized into a few different ways. Here I'm going to separate them into realism (Gravity), high-gloss fantasy (Iron Man 3, Star Trek), and rugged fantasy (The Hobbit, The Lone Ranger).

Friday, February 7, 2014

Makeup and Hairstyling

Between finally watching Dallas Buyers Club and Inside Llewyn Davis, I have finished a good number of categories and will hopefully have something daily from here until the awards show. Today, we start this run with Makeup and Hairstyling for which the nominees worked on
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
  • The Lone Ranger
This is certainly no class like last year's which carried Les Misérables, the critically overlooked Hitchcock, and that year's Hobbit film. I'm not even sure where to start with this year's selections as each film feels rather narrowly focused and not terribly impressive.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Production Design

I'm progressing along at a pretty decent clip having seen a dozen films* since the Academy Award nominations were announced and seven in the past seven days. I've also tracked down the dates to see the animated and live action short films as well as the documentary shorts that are nominated this year. I always love the shorts I get to see and highly recommend finding your own location and making the time to see them. If you're completely unwilling to do that, at least go see Frozen both because it is great as well as for the short Get a Horse! which is itself fantastic and thoroughly deserves to be seen in a theater setting. Honestly, the theater experience is more necessary for the short film than for the feature.

In seeing all these films, I've finally finished off some categories and thus get to talk about them. Today, I start with the production design nominees which are
  • American Hustle
  • Gravity
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Her
  • 12 Years a Slave

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On Captain Phillips

I don't plan to write about every film I see. However, I just finished watching Captain Phillips, and I feel mostly awful about it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hollywood doesn't value women, duh

If you don't know anything about how we value women in Hollywood, compare the Best Performance Academy Award Nominees with the Best Picture nominees.

Nominated for Actor/Actress/SuppActor/SuppActress: American Hustle
Nominated for Actor/SuppActor/SuppActress: 12 Years a Slave
Nominated for Actor/SuppActor: Dallas Buyers Club, Wolf of Wall Street
Nominated for Actor/SuppActress: Nebraska
Nominated for SuppActor: Captain Phillips

Nominated for Actress/SuppActress: Blue Jasmine, August Osage County
Nominated for Actress: Gravity, Philomena

Every film nominated (6) for Actor or Supporting Actor was also nominated for Best Picture. Of those, One carried a nomination for Actress and three for Supporting Actress with it.

Oscar Quest 2014

Well, the 86th Academy Award nominees have been presented and I'm doing it again: trying to watch a ton of Academy Award nominated films. Last year I didn't pace myself very well and ended up not having access to the documentaries and otherwise falling one film short (The Master) from completion. Even still, I went on vacation shortly before the Oscars and didn't make time to do any writeups. I got nearly all the personal value I was seeking from watching the films, but I got none of the value of sharing my thoughts.
Not counting the categories of Original Song, Documentary Short Subject, Short Film Animated, or Short Film Live action (because they're really hard to find, often), there are 40 films to watch - 43 if you count the prequels I hadn't seen when I started this undertaking.
I have seen 8 films plus one prequel (Despicable Me) which leaves me with 35* films and 2 prequels (Before Sunrise and Before Sunset) as well as the short films. I'm updating this as I go, so those numbers won't be reflected below.

Academy Award nominated films I have seen:
The Act of Killing (watched 02-24)
All is Lost (watched 02-12)
American Hustle
August: Osage County (watched 02-04)
Before Midnight (watched 02-26)
(Before Sunrise watched 01-23)
(Before Sunset watched 02-01)
Blue Jasmine (watched 02-20)
The Book Thief (watched 02-15)
The Broken Circle Breakdown (watched 02-21)
Captain Phillips (watched 01-21)
The Croods (watched 02-01)
Cutie and the Boxer (watched 01-27)
Dallas Buyers Club (watched 02-05)
(Despicable Me watched 01-16)
Despicable Me 2 (watched 02-28)
Dirty Wars (watched 02-23)
Documentary Short Subject (watched 02-08)
Ernest et Célestine (Ernest and Celestine watched 03-01)
Frozen (watched 01-25)
La grande bellezza (AKA The Great Beauty Watched 02-25)
The Great Gatsby (watched 2013-05-12)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (watched 01-22)
Inside Llewyn Davis (watched 02-06)
The Invisible Woman (watched 01-29)
Iron Man 3 (watched 2013-06-16)
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (watched 01-29)
Jagten (The Hunt watched 02-09)
Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises watched 02-28)
The Lone Ranger (watched 02-07)
Lone Survivor (watched 02-03)
Nebraska (watched 01-27)
Omar (watched 02-23)
Philomena (watched 02-03)
Prisoners (watched 01-30)
Saving Mr. Banks (watched 02-14)
Short films: animated (watched 02-06)
Short films: live action (watched 02-06)
The Square (watched 02-05)
Star Trek Into Darkness
12 Years a Slave
20 Feet from Stardom  (watched 02-24)
The Wolf of Wall Street
Yi dai zong shi (AKA The Grandmaster watched 01-24)

Academy Award nominated films I have yet to see:
Alone Yet Not Alone
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
The Missing Picture

*Alone Yet Not Alone's nomination was redacted, and it saw an extremely limited release. I doubt I'll even get the chance to see it, so this number is more accurately 34.