Friday, September 16, 2011

Rapid Reviews: Gotta Get Caught Up!

Time to get this thing back on track, don't you think?

We're about to hit Oscar season once again and I've been incredibly remiss in updating this blog. Despite multiple promises to update more this summer, I failed miserably at my task. So hopefully (cross your fingers), this Rapid Reviews post is the beginning of a new, strong season.


I know. If I cry "wolf" one more time, you readers are just gonna stop coming back. But without further ado, let's check out what I saw at the movies this summer.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Oscar Predictions: They're Alive! So Am I!

I know, I've promised that this blog has come off hiatus like three times now, so this promise will probably turn empty anyway. But we're back! And we've got new Oscar predictions ready for you! Check out the reviews page for some new ratings, too (I probably won't get around to reviewing X-Men or its prequel, but I will try to review the fantastic Midnight in Paris). And since we're at mid-year, a quick look at what's topping my list of the year is probably forthcoming.

Stick with us! You guys have boosted us above 15,000 hits and it's much appreciated!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MVM: You Belong with Taylor Swift

Music Video Mondays comes back from its hiatus with possibly the blandest, most inoffensive video to ever become controversial. The controversy behind "You Belong With Me" is, of course, more due to Kanye West than anyone else, but for that reason alone, this video's likely to become the one remembered among all the Beyoncé and Lady Gaga videos of the era.

Really, there's not much plot to this one--girl likes boy, boy has girlfriend--but it poses the same blonde vs. brunette questions that Gwen Stefani's "Cool" did, and like Gwen, Taylor is playing both sides of the coin here. Let's take a closer look and see some of the drama behind the façade.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I'm An Awful Blogger.

...I have no excuse. It's summer. I should have started both Music Video Mondays and Netflix Pix this week. They'll come next week, I promise. (The piece on The Good Wife, however, might forever languish in development issues.)

Revised Oscar predictions post-Cannes will also be up sometime this week.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wild Speculation: Emmy Edition

I'm stalling out on my attempt to write a piece about The Good Wife, so what better time to attempt to predict what will be nominated for the top Emmy awards come...whenever the Emmy nominations are announced? (I think it's July--I really have no idea. This is as random as projects come on Awkward is What We Aim For.) Be forewarned that I suck pretty hard at predicting the Emmys simply because unlike the Oscars, where the pool is fairly small and narrowed down by a bunch of precursors, the Emmys are a bigger pool with more populist swing at times that have only a couple precursors that happen six months before the Emmys even nominate. So this is a bit of a wild goose chase, really. Come take it with me!




Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Glum

The image above is the perfect encapsulation of why this season of FOX's Glee has gone so far off the rails: it has sacrificed everything important about itself to find a happy ending for the character who best represents showrunner Ryan Murphy himself: Kurt Hummel, once a brilliant supporting character with fantastic lines and solo numbers now nothing but a shell, a pariah and martyr who can be almost painful to watch.

Harsh? Maybe. But Glee needs someone to be harsh who isn't a professional critic and isn't a rabid fan who thinks characters are being "mistreated" by the show. It needs a voice of reason. It needs someone to say that this creature, this phenomenon that the little show about a show choir has become isn't beautiful or wonderful. It's ugly, the very essence of glum.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Brilliant Bridesmaids

This one isn't gonna take too much waxing poetic: Bridesmaids is brilliant. A sure-to-be-iconic film that translates all the greatest bits of Apatow-style humor and mixes them with the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) bitchery of Mean Girls. Incredibly quotable and boasting magnificent performances from all six central ladies, from the scene-stealing antics of Melissa McCarthy (thank GOD for this breakout--long time coming since Gilmore Girls) to the sublime divahood of Rose Byrne (her Helen is truly a goddess for bitches-in-training everywhere) to the truly marvelous anchor performances of Saturday Night Live veterans Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, with strong performances from Ellie Kemper (The Office) and Wendi McLendon-Covey (Reno 911!) that have fantastic moments when you're probably too busy laughing over whatever just happened.

The movie is emotional while still being hilarious. It's moving while not getting bogged down by the shmaltz. It's well-written with varying types of humor but doesn't pander. Bridesmaids is here for you to love it and if you don't, it doesn't give a shit. Trust me, there's a million more people laughing out there for every one who doesn't. Truly a fantastic film and one I can't wait to see again.

I honestly have nothing else to write. It was that great. A

Have you seen Bridesmaids? Do you have anything else to say to supplement my breathless, wordless review? Take it to the comments!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Voice: I Don't Love This Cheesy Show

Welcome to The Voice, the latest (yep, arriving to this trend pretty late) and greatest (eh, not so much) talent show brought to you by NBC. The show features country singer Blake Shelton, big-belter diva Christina Aguilera, "Fuck You"-singing phenomenon Cee-Lo Green and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine as "coaches," the friendly alternative to judges, trying to find . In this aspect, it's ripping off The X Factor before it even reaches U.S. shores as well as ripping off American Idol. The Voice was obviously meant to take down the original at its weakest point. (Of course, that didn't work out as expected.)

In all, the show is kind of a big ball of cheese that is saved by the great judges coaches and how much chemistry the panel shares. But is a show that's all about the ju coaches going to work in the long run?


American Idol: Haley and the Rest

 
Here are words I never thought I'd type: Season 10, the first without Simon Cowell as judge, is the best season of American Idol ever.

Take a moment to spit out your arguments. "The judges suck," "The contestants aren't that good," "They're being a bitch to poor Haley Reinhart," etc.

Well, the judges may be inaccurate, but they most certainly do not suck. They're strong enough personalities to sell whatever crap they're offering well--and it's honestly not their mission to provide criticism, it's to be entertaining. Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler have been and continue to be truly entertaining. (We'll forget Randy Jackson exists.)

And yes, they are probably really screwing with poor Haley, but they've also (intentionally or unintentionally) given her the chance of a lifetime, as all the manipulation has led to a final three finish for the Illinois songbird.

But let's talk about those contestants and how "not good" they are. Because let me tell you--they're actually the best bunch this show has seen since Season 5 and possibly the best bunch ever. (Yes, they even beat Season 8!)


Sunday, May 15, 2011

The State of the Blog

Hi, blog. It's good to be writing to you again. Or on you, more specifically.

I know it's been a while. I'm sorry I had to take that hiatus from writing, but school is more important than passion projects. But I'm back! Did you miss me?

Oh, don't be so cruel, blog. I didn't leave you completely alone! I was doing some work behind the scenes, and hey, I wrote that review! I'm here to stay this time...until school forces me to leave you again. Sorry. I know you're a little like the narrator in that Sugarland song but you know what? It's great when we're together. (And no, that video won't be my next Music Video Mondays entry. It's a blonde bitch on a black background. It's no fun to rip apart.)

Speaking of that series, it'll be starting up again come next week. Unlike other series on the site, I'm not gonna formally announce a schedule or even how much it'll come around, but you can expect entries fairly frequently (every other week is sounding reasonable right now, but don't hold me to that) and some great videos are gonna be ripped apart soon. (I'm thinking of doing a weeklong series devoted to Lady Gaga videos, but I don't know if that's not too ambitious...TBD on that one.)

Netflix Pix is gonna start its summer season, though, and I'll have a schedule to follow out soon. Our season premiere is gonna be next Tuesday and we're gonna feature two performances by an underrated, underused actress: Rachel Weisz. (She's also undermarried: poor Darren Aronofsky!)

But blog, since all this is coming next week, along with updated Oscar predictions and more announcements, what will we be doing this week?

Hopefully, we'll have a couple more movie reviews up this week (Bridesmaids and Thor are on tap), but expect an analysis of the current season of American Idol up before Wednesday's performance show.

I'll also get up pieces on the current season of Glee and why I think it's such a failure (this will relate and reference back to my last piece expressing dissatisfaction with Glee, so read up!) as well as on the second season of The Good Wife after the finale on Tuesday. Finally, keeping in the spirit of writing about television, I'll try to get pieces up about The Voice and Happy Endings (one's my new favorite show and the other, um, is not) in the next couple of weeks.

And we're gonna try and start a new series featuring guests called "Awkward Conversations" that could be stellar or could be disastrous--we're gonna take that journey on the tightrope together.

So, blog, I'm really back, and in a big way. I'm here for the long haul, too. So, "why don't you stay?"

The Lincoln Loser

There are movies that you want to be good with all your heart. Maybe they've got a great cast. Maybe they feature the comeback performance from a familiar star who's ventured off their strong career path after early promise. Maybe the source material is strong. And maybe they've got all these things and they still fail, disappointingly.

Sorry, Ryan. This review's gonna be a hard one for you.
The Lincoln Lawyer is exactly that: a sad, disappointing failure.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

An Absolute Scream

There are some movies that you appreciate for their artistic value but don't really enjoy (though I really did like Jane Eyre, I can understand why others might have an "it's good but I wouldn't watch it again" response). Then there are some films which are utter guilty pleasures with no real artistic value (The House Bunny comes to mind--though talking from experience, it is the perfect movie to watch while sick). When a great movie is completely enjoyable from beginning to end, however, you know you've hit the jackpot. This year's greatest jackpot so far is Scream 4.


Monday, April 4, 2011

High Ate Us

A sad bear for a sad occasion: I'm here to announce a bit of a hiatus for Awkward is What We Aim For. The end of my first semester at university has just about killed me (and it's not even done killing me yet!), which has made this blog more of a chore than a joy. Obviously, readership has gone up immensely since things started amping up for the Oscars, and I'm truly appreciative for everyone who reads this as much as they do. But it's time for me to take a break, at least for a month or two.

This means that with very few exceptions, everything's going to be delayed--including Netflix Pix and Music Video Mondays. Chances are I'll do MVM entries every once in a while, but I'm going to end this season of Netflix Pix early and bring it back for a summer mini-season. Movie reviews, however, will still be posted fairly frequently.

But the blog will stay up and running--you can always read any of the entries we have up, including the massively popular premiere of Music Video Mondays, featuring Rebecca Black's "Friday" (viewed almost a thousand times since mid-March), my write-up of Winona Ryder's performance in Black Swan for StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Blog-a-thon 2010, our coverage of Melissa Leo's fabulously bad FYC adsmy send-up of those ads, the Live Blog Bonanza for the Oscars this year (Part I, Part II and Part III), and my favorite piece I've ever written, my review of Black Swan. And of course, I'll be updating the Oscar Predictions regularly with Andrew assisting me throughout the summer and next fall.

Keep your eye here for when we do update (and trust me, I will update--I can't just quit cold turkey!), and keep aiming for awkward!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Inspiringly Insidious

With few exceptions, I am not a fan of the horror genre. Oftentimes it seems to be going for cheap thrills rather than truly entertaining an audience and keeping them on their toes. (For every The Exorcist or the original Nightmare on Elm Street, you get a Final Destination or remake of Nightmare on Elm Street.) So color me totally surprised when I tell you that I loved Insidious not just as a great movie-going experience (though the truly fantastic crowd did make it better), but as a movie individually. One of the best horror films I've ever seen, and I don't give out such hyperbolic praise lightly.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Almost Theyre

More than a few readers have likely read the novel Jane Eyre in school or for pleasure, but film adaptations of the book are hit-and-miss. As a result, I wasn't expecting much of this horror/prestige hybrid telling of the now-classic story of love between the titular Jane and Mr. Rochester. Imagine my surprise when I found myself charmed and fully riveted by this version starring the gorgeous Mia Wasikowska and the drop dead beautiful/talented Michael Fassbender.

The choices made by director Cary Fukunaga are effective ones, from the in media res story structure to the twinges of terror that keep the audience on their toes. The writing is an effective adaptation, though the language sometimes flies over the audience's heads. Large blocks of dialogue are slightly muddled when the actors (Wasikowska specifically) don't deliver them with any real understanding or punch. (One of the reasons True Grit worked so well was because young star Hailee Steinfeld had a dexterity with the wordy dialogue.)

However, the film more than overcomes its shortcomings. It's a captivating tale told with aplomb. The art direction and costume design are particular highlights--look for one or both to be recognized come next year at the Academy Awards. The supporting cast was absolutely phenomenal, from the understated Judi Dench to the fabulously bitchy Sally Hawkins, who I have officially thrown my allegiance behind (all it takes is one bitchy performance...right, Winona Ryder?)

The entire film is effective in ways you'd never expect. Truly a pleasure to watch, if not as effortless as it could have been. You can see the cracks, but you happily ignore them. B+

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Netflix Pix: Funny Girls and Serious Boys

It seems like Netflix Pix features come far too quickly every week--each time I'm done with one it's onto the other. It'll probably go every-other-week in Season Two so I won't feel so drained by it to the point where I miss deadlines by a mile. But I digress.

This week we have two vastly different movies, and that's where this series makes its bread and butter. We'll be taking a look at the film that earned Tommy Lee Jones his last Oscar nomination, In the Valley of Elah, a film I've always considered underrated. Then we'll look at Funny Girl, the Barbra Streisand-starring musical that made popular such anthems as "Funny Girl" and "Don't Rain On My Parade." The theme this week is weak (no pun intended), but it's essentially this: boys are serious and talk about war, girls are divas and sing about things. Sexism! Now available in fantastic films.

Monday, March 28, 2011

MVM: I Know We're Cool

Another installment of Music Video Mondays for you guys! We premiered this series in 2011 with Rebecca Black's magnum opus 'Friday', then took a trip back a decade to talk about a girl named Lucky. Let's land somewhere in the middle this week to talk about our favorite Aughts-era platinum blonde: Gwen Stefani. After breaking up with No Doubt, Stefani released her solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby. in 2004, and launched an incredible five hit singles before finally crashing (on its sixth single, ironically called "Crash").

Preceded by "What You Waiting For?" and "Rich Girl," as well as the massively successful "Hollaback Girl," the song and video this week, "Cool," was the fourth of these singles and the slowest. Truly a shift in tone from the other fast-paced singles, "Cool" was actually quite lovely, a beautifully-performed song with an equally lovely video to accompany it. The whole point is that Stefani and her supposed ex-lover are now 'cool,' but really, you can feel the awkwardness bubbling throughout the video. Let's check it out!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Netflix Pix: Vicky, Cristina, Maria Elena, Hannah and Her Sisters

Apologies for the delay on the new episodes of Netflix Pix! The good news is that the next six weeks will (theoretically, hopefully, God willing) bring an uninterrupted stretch of episodes until the end of the season.

This week, we're taking a quick look at some of the most fabulous women ever to grace Woody Allen's oeuvre. That's right, this week we're looking at the my number one film of 2008, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, starring Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johanssen, Patricia Clarkson and the fiery Oscar winner Penelope Cruz. We'll also take a look at Hannah and Her Sisters, Allen's 1986 box office success that stars Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, Allen himself, and two Oscar winners, Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest.

Monday, March 21, 2011

MVM: She's So Lucky

It's time for the next installment of our new series Music Video Mondays! While I don't think this will be nearly as popular as the premiere of the segment, an analysis of Rebecca Black's "Friday" (thanks to everyone who pushed it to over 500 page views!), we're gonna appeal to early Aughts' nostalgia with a look at a Britney Spears video most college students should remember fondly.

This is a story about a girl named Lucky.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

American Idol 10: Why It's Working (Even Though It Shouldn't)

This really shouldn't have worked. Why is it working?!
America is currently experiencing the closest thing to a television miracle. A ten year-old reality show that saw its ratings hemorrhage in its last season is healing itself by making changes and running a tight ship. It overhauled its judging panel and got great talent to fill the ranks of the final rounds. It reinstated its former executive producer and its host suddenly learned how to host a reality show.

This... is the new American Idol!

Monday, March 14, 2011

MVM: Which Seat Can I Take? The Rebecca Black Story

I'm in the middle of writing about the newest season of American Idol, but let's be honest. No one wants to read about that today. We (we we) want to read about viral sensation Rebecca Black and her unending quest for fun, fun, fun, fun on Fridays (provided she picks the right seat in the car, of course) in our new segment called Music Video Mondays.



Oh, Rebecca, you have no idea.
Inspired by poor unfortunate soul Rebecca Black, Mondays will now host breakdowns of music videos old and new. It's a small way of expanding the scope of Awkward is What We Aim For beyond film reviews. (Speaking of those, I know, I was supposed to have a new Netflix Pix up this week. That's my fault--it'll be back next week.)

Video and commentary follow after the page break.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Almost a Complete Win

I'm on a bit of a Sundance kick right now--tonight I'm attending a preview screening of Like Crazy, a big hit at the independent film festival earlier this year (and one of our predicted Best Picture and Best Actress nominees for 2011), and last night I got the chance to attend an on-campus screening of Fox Searchlight's newest film (and another Sundance darling) Win Win, directed by The Visitor's Tom McCarthy and starring Paul Giamatti.


The former I won't get the chance to write about for many a month--it's not yet been assigned a release date, much less an MPAA rating. The latter, however, is embargo-free, so I'm free to say that it is just short of a total knockout. Well-acted, well-written, and well-paced, the film is nothing short of superb.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Netflix Pix Season 1 Schedule: What's Next?

Everyone doing just fine on this lazy Saturday? Nothing too exciting happening in this neck of the woods--just rewatching Chicago on Netflix. I'd forgotten how much Catherine Zeta-Jones deserved her Oscar considering my love for Meryl Streep's performance in Adaptation. Sometimes too many great performances come in the same year. Michelle Williams and Nicole Kidman learned that lesson quite well this year. Be on the lookout for a pair of pieces about the oh-so-different Chicago and Dreamgirls...sometime. Probably in a few months. We've always got too much going on.

I wanted to share with everyone the schedule for Netflix Pix for the remainder of the season. Like all good series, I'm going to put this one on hiatus for the summer, bringing it back in August. Before then, however, we have six more episodes to look forward to. Check out the schedule for the remaining episodes below. And as always, you can check out these posts here at Awkward is What We Aim For or at our new partner site Reel Artsy!

March 22 -- Woody Allen: Hannah and Her Sisters & Vicky Cristina Barcelona
March 29 -- Funny Girl & In the Valley of Elah
April 5 -- Rachel Weisz: The Constant Gardener & Runaway Jury
April 12 -- I Am Love & Postcards From the Edge
April 19 -- Christopher Guest: Best in Show & For Your Consideration
April 26 (Season Finale!) -- The Devil Wears Prada & Sunset Boulevard

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Extremely Annoying and Incredibly Repetitive

Most of you movie buffs are probably aware that the film adaptation of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is expected out in the next couple of years. (It could theoretically come out this year, but it's slated for 2012, which is why it's missing from Andrew's and my early predictions along with Roman Polanski's Carnage.) It's being directed by Stephen Daldry and will star Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks.

To say I am not looking forward to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the understatement of the century. I cannot stand that book. Maybe it will adapt well, but it's the equivalent of trying to put lipstick on a really artistically-stunted, incoherent pig.

Told you I really hated it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Beyond the Awkward: Take a Trip to Crazytown! Oscar 2011 Predictions



Come on down to Crazytown, folks! It's been a mere couple of days since the last Oscar season ended, and we here at Awkward is What We Aim For are preparing for the 84th Academy Awards--in one year's time.


Why are we doing this, you might ask? Well, call us certifiable, but we always love to be a step ahead. And this is about a thousand steps ahead. As a result, these predictions are sure to fail in a grand fashion (which is why we kept it to the top six categories), but really, they were just fun.

Joining me in this ridiculous venture is AIWWAF contributor Andrew Sheridan, making this both a Beyond the Awkward feature and a Oscar Predictions post. Double the crazy, double the fun!

We made our predictions independently of each other, so you'll see both lists below, followed by some quick analysis. The overall list (both synthesized into the best guess) will appear in the Current Oscar Predictions section. Enjoy our insanely early Oscar picks!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Netflix Pix: Eternal Kramer vs. Up

Sorry for the delay on Netflix Pix entries, everyone. Oscar's annual Month o' Crazy got in the way. But we're back to regular entries, once a week or every two weeks (still not decided just yet).

However, to reward a long wait, as well as to celebrate the first collaboration between Awkward is What We Aim For and Reel Artsy, we have three movies featured today, one regular mail and two Instant Watch. The combination (and the title of this post) is awkward, but that's exactly as it should be, no?

Without further ado, let's get started!


Monday, February 28, 2011

Anne and James' Excellent Adventure

Sure, the title of the post is a stoner joke, but let's be honest, there was only one host on drugs last night.

How else to explain that?

In all seriousness, it is a bit irritating in retrospect to analyze the performances of our two young hosts simply because they were two people performing at completely different shows. Anne Hathaway was young, fun, energetic, good with ad-libs, and seemed genuinely happy to be there. James Franco...not so much.


The King's Gambit

If you were reading the live-blog last night, you'd have noticed at about 7:36 PM how confident I was that The Social Network was going to win Best Picture and Best Director. This was because it won Best Editing, traditionally seen as a lead-up prize to Best Picture, and also stole a Best Original Score win away from The King's Speech which, with under-awarded master composer Alexandre Desplat at the helm, should have easily taken the win over the risky, untraditional score of Network. And then Tom Hooper won Best Director for Speech, and I couldn't quite figure out what the hell was going on.


This is How You Win and Lose Oscars

For fun on this Oscar morning-after... How does one win an Oscar?

Make miniseries that win Emmys, then do the exact same thing with your movie!
Make a trailer with ordinary people talking about your movie!
Make out with an equally hot young actress!
Pose in faux fur next to a swimming pool!
But most importantly...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Disappointing Ending to a Fantastic Season

More thoughts on the Oscars are coming in the next few days, obviously, but I just want to offer up the list of winners and an index of the live blog. Give it a read if you haven't yet, especially if you didn't see the show.

Thanks to everyone who read tonight. I have a jaw-dropping 317 views from the past seven hours, an incredible achievement and one I'm proud to say is all thanks to you. This was my first experience live-blogging: I hope it's been as enjoyable for you all as it was for me.

Soon enough, I'll have my preliminary picks for next year's Oscars up under the Current Predictions tab (it never ends!), and we'll get back into the swing of Netflix Pix and reviewing movies. But this week is Oscar wrap-up. Get ready.

Part I: The Red Carpet
Part II: The Ceremony's Beginning
Part III: The Finale

Overall Score: 14/24, or 58% correct. (Small improvement over last year, actually, but still terrible.)

Best Picture: The King’s Speech
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
Best Director: Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Best Original Screenplay: The King’s Speech
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Editing: The Social Network
Best Cinematography: Inception
Best Original Score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network
Best Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland
Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
Best Visual Effects: Inception
Best Make-Up: The Wolfman
Best Sound Mixing: Inception
Best Sound Editing: Inception
Best Song: "We Belong Together," Toy Story 3
Best Documentary Short: "Strangers No More"
Best Live Action Short: "God of Love"
Best Animated Short: "The Lost Thing"
Best Foreign Language Film: In a Better World
Best Documentary: Inside Job

The Live-Blog Bonanza: Oscars 2011 (Part III: The Finale)

Red carpet coverage can be found here.
First half of the ceremony coverage can be found here.

We're still going strong! Country Strong! Speaking of, Gwyneth Paltrow should be performing soon--can Cee Lo Green stop by?

7:13 PM: The Oscar for Best Documentary Short goes to... "Strangers No More." Damnit. My bet was on "Killing in the Name." It's like Jake Gyllenhaal said: the Short categories are almost impossible to predict.

7:15 PM: Can I miss this one as well? Best Live Action Short is going to "Na Wewe" in my mind, but in real life... it goes to "God of Love." Damn, that's two years in a row I've missed all three shorts categories. Ten for sixteen (the best I can do is 75% at this point, shit).

7:17 PM: Fun with Auto-Tune! And then we hit the Twilight, which they give as much shit as possible. It's much appreciated. And Anne Hathaway's "personal moment" was adorable. Great host.

7:20 PM: OPRAH! She always teaches us how we need to improve our lives, so of course she's presenting Best Documentary Feature. It's boring, sure, but I'm still on a high after that adorable last bit, so I'm okay with Bansky losing this...to Inside Job, naturally. Which I just switched off of. Damn. Ten for seventeen (this is painful).

7:28 PM: I'm not loving this Billy Crystal bit. I feel like this show is all about honoring the history of film, not of the Oscars. This is reading too self-congratulatory.

7:33 PM: Best Visual Effects goes to Inception! Four wins for Christopher Nolan's visual masterpiece.

7:36 PM: Best Editing goes to The Social Network! Twelve for nineteen, and that's the ball game. Get ready to see two more wins for Network tonight: Picture and Director.

7:42 PM: Time for the last two Best Original Song nominees. Jennifer Hudson looks stunning still. I really like "If I Rise"--it reminds me of "In the Deep" from Crash six years ago. Which lost, of course. "Coming Home" is no "Forget You" for Gwyneth, sadly. The winner of Best Original Song is...Randy Newman?! For "We Belong Together"?! (Twelve for twenty.)

7:52 PM: Sad occasion, obviously, but I love "Smile." Hearing Celine sing it is pretty fantastic. And the audience isn't applauding during the "In Memoriam" segment! Amazing! Is this the best Oscar ceremony of the 21st Century?

7:58 PM: We've got just the big four categories left--this ceremony is gonna end on time!

8:02 PM: Hey, Kathryn Bigelow. Love you. Direct more really soon, please. Best Director goes to... Tom Hooper.

WHAT?!

8:11 PM: Okay, using this time to figure this out. So after losing almost every early award that it was supposed to win, The King's Speech wins Best Director. Which means The King's Speech is going to win Best Picture with only four Oscars to its name, just barely beating The Social Network and tying Inception. To say this makes absolutely no sense is an understatement. It's like the Academy couldn't figure out what they liked best. Maybe that's exactly what happened.

8:12 PM: Best Actress is up. I like how they're giving individual tributes to each actor read by the one presenter. It's a streamlined version of the five-actor presentations from the last two years. Natalie Portman has to win. AND SHE DOES! Thirteen for twenty-two!

8:20 PM: Best Actor, to be presented by Sandra Bullock. She's adorable. As is Anne Hathaway.
Anne: "Flub. Sorry. Drank at home."
Sandra: "Javier. Hola...Jeff, dude. Dude...Jesse, I'm still waiting for you to accept my friend request...Colin. So I hear the Queen saw the film and enjoyed it. That's good, since you're going home sometime?...James, you are the number-one reason children are picked up late from school because their mothers are watching General Hospital."
The woman is genius. I take back everything from last year. Love her to death. Enjoy your Oscar, Sandra.

And the Oscar goes to Colin Firth. Of course. Well-earned. Two years of brilliant work. Fourteen for twenty-three.

8:32 PM: Best Picture. Presented by Steven Spielberg (of course). Here we go. It's gonna be The King's Speech.

And it is. Fourteen for twenty-four. The King's Speech wins four Oscars, including Picture, Director, and Actor. Inception also wins four. The Social Network wins three. The Fighter, Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland win two each. One for Black Swan.

Great ceremony, some great winners. But what a disappointing ending. The wrong film won.

The Live-Blog Bonanza: Oscars 2011 (Part II: The Ceremony)

And here...we...go.

5:30 PM: We're introducing all the films nominated for Best Picture in one sequence to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' "In the Hall of the Mountain King." You know, from the score that won't win Best Original Score tonight.

5:34 PM: I'm in love with this sequence. "Alec likes for me to narrate his dreams." Don't we all, Morgan Freeman? Not loving the random Back to the Future scene, though.

5:38 PM: Anne Hathaway looks to be having the time of her life. James Franco...kinda just along for the ride.
"You look very appealing to a younger demographic."
Hee hee. Getting the mom and grandma of the hosts involved was a fun gag too.

5:42 PM: Okay, I get it. We're really keen on honoring the history of film this year. But does the reference to Titanic so early bode well for the comparisons for The King's Speech? Will the wrong film sweep?

5:44 PM: Best Art Direction. My pick just switched from Speech to Alice in Wonderland... and it was a good swap. The win goes to Alice.

5:46 PM: Now we're on to Best Cinematography. Roger Deakins should take this for True Grit...but it goes to Wally Pfister for Inception. Well, this means something...but what?

5:50 PM: Wait. They just aired a Jeff Bridges Hyundai ad--didn't they prohibit that last year because Bridges was up for Best Actor? He is again this year!

5:51 PM: I can't help but feel that bringing Kirk Douglas out wasn't in bad taste. But whatever. Best Supporting Actress. Might I be right? Nope, it's Melissa Leo for The Fighter. Apparently the Academy did "Consider" her. And we should also consider her cursing--well done, Melissa. Keeping it classy. I'm really having a pretty disastrous night so far--one for three.

6:00 PM: "It's the young and hip Oscars!" They're playing with the whole image of it so well. Then they have Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis come out and deliver their lines with zero charm. Bleh. Best Animated Short is up...hoping for "Day & Night" but betting I'm wrong. Yep, it's "The Lost Thing," which I, of course, have never heard of. Oh, well. I'm keeping my record of missing the Short categories alive.

6:05 PM: Best Animated Feature, which I'll get right simply because it's the easiest lock of the night. Toy Story 3 for the win. Yep, Toy Story takes it.

6:10 PM: Let me take this commercial break just to recap how I'm feeling right now.

UGH.

That's all. I'm liking the show overall, though.

6:13 PM: The screenplay categories are up. Aaron Sorkin for Best Adapted Screenplay--of course! The screenplay was the star of The Social Network, after all. Loving this orchestrated version of "Hand Covers Bruise," and loving the callback to Paddy Chayefsky's win for Network thirty-five years ago. Great speech--a well-deserved win.

6:17 PM: We're about to hear David Seidler speak as he wins the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for The King's Speech--it's a gift to hear him speak.
"My father always said to me, I would be a late bloomer. I believe I am the oldest person to win this particular award. I hope that record is broken quickly and often. I'd like to thank my daughter, Maya, my son, Mark, for having faith in their dad as I have faith in you."
Great speaker. Such a talent. I also love how he called it the "Melissa Leo F-word".

6:24 PM: This reworked version of "On My Own" is nothing short of amazing. Anne Hathaway can sing. I'm counting on In a Better World to win Best Foreign Language Film...and it does! Five for eight!

6:29 PM: Best Supporting Actor is up now. If Bale doesn't win this, we'll have a night of surprises ahead of us. But of course it goes to Christian Bale! I don't love the performance, but what a magnificent career.
"Melissa... I'm not going to drop the F-bomb like she did. I've done that enough already."
She's never living this down.

6:36 PM: If Alexandre Desplat loses Best Original Score for The King's Speech after the break, it's over for that movie's Best Picture chances.

6:43 PM: It goes to TRENT REZNOR AND ATTICUS ROSS FOR THE SOCIAL NETWORK! My winner for Best Use of Music wins! YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

6:46 PM: We're on to Best Sound Mixing, but I'm still on a high from the last win. Such a good score. If you don't own it, buy it. The Oscar goes to Inception. With the last three (two wins and a miss), I'm at seven for eleven.

6:49 PM: Best Sound Editing is up--should go to Inception as well. Not a surprise--it does.

6:52 PM: Let's recap. Eight categories called correctly out of the twelve announced so far. We're at the halfway mark. The show is running really efficiently so far, and it looks like The King's Speech is headed for some major losses. Inception has three wins under its belt and it's headed for a fourth. Also: THE SOCIAL NETWORK WON BEST ORIGINAL SCORE! I'm really happy about that.

6:56 PM: Best Makeup is up. I'm betting on The Wolfman. And it wins! Though as Cate Blanchett says:
"That's gross."
Such a funny Oscar winner, she is!

6:58 PM: Colleen Atwood wins her third Oscar out of nine nominations for Alice in Wonderland, tying her record to Sandy Powell's, The Costume Design category doesn't allow many others to win. The King's Speech loses once again--it's done. Ten for fourteen.

7:03 PM: Wow, being on the West Coast makes this ceremony so early. I'm liking this. Randy Newman, go home. You wrote "We Belong Together" in your sleep, didn't you? Not that "I See the Light" is any better--this was rejected from Beauty and the Beast, wasn't it?

We're at a commercial break and we're more than halfway through. Might as well start another post!

The Live-Blog Bonanza: Oscars 2011 (Part I: The Red Carpet)

The day that never feels like it's going to arrive is finally here. The Oscars are being broadcast tonight starting at 5:30 PM, and Awkward is What We Aim For is live-blogging everything, from the Red Carpet to the awards. Keep checking back for more and more coverage.

3:10 PM: Found E! on my channel roll finally. Melissa Leo is talking to Ryan Seacrest about how her dress had to be "built."

That architect needs to go back to the drawing board.

3:16 PM: Armie Hammer and his wife are adorable. Really hoping that J. Edgar becomes a breakout project for Hammer. I didn't love his performance in The Social Network as much as others, but I do think he's got a great natural charm and talent--Clint Eastwood will challenge him. The speed of the shoot alone will be much different than a movie with David Fincher.

3:23 PM: What the hell happened, Hailee? How did we go from that cute orange/pink number you wore a few weeks ago to the cotton candy cloud you're wearing right now? Oh, she helped design it. No wonder. She's fourteen, after all. Awww, she looks touched by her Goodyear Blimp good luck message. You forget when you're hating on a young girl's nomination in the wrong category that it's such a cool opportunity for her.

3:25 PM: Florence Welch is here! She's so cool and OH MY GOD AMY ADAMS SIGHTING. Please let her win just so my crazy-ass theory can be right!

3:27 PM: Mila Kunis was cast over iChat for Black Swan. How dirty was that iChat session?

What'd you do to get this role, Mila? Did you get all cyber with Darren?
I know, I'm horrible.

3:32 PM: Russell Brand's mother is absolutely adorable. You have to wonder what her relationship with Katy Perry is like.

3:34 PM: The E! prediction poll for Best Supporting Actress also predicts Amy Adams to win. So at least I'm not alone. I don't love Michelle Williams' haircut, to be honest. Her accent also sounds strange tonight. A little Aussie/American hybrid, I think.

3:41 PM: Zachary Levi walked to the Oscars. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I'm not sure how I feel about these Best Original Song nominee singers either: Florence (without the Machine), Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi... I'm looking forward to Gwyneth. Sue me.

3:49 PM: "Who is that gorgeous movie star?" asked Giuliana Rancic about Mandy Moore. Then she realized it was Mandy Moore. Whattabitch, Guiliana. Whattabitch.

3:55 PM: Jennifer Hudson looks gorgeous. Kudos to her for really thriving after the tragedy with her family a few years ago. A true star. Her new song is fantastic, too ("Where You At," get it on iTunes).

3:58 PM: JEREMY RENNER! I LOVE. JEREMY. RENNER. I have coherent thoughts about all other celebrities, but when it comes to Jeremy Renner, I literally turn into a 14 year-old schoolgirl.


D'AWWWWW JEREMY. LOVE HIM.

4:01 PM: Kevin Spacey thinks social networking is going to help countries rebel. Not really sure what his train of thought is. I mean, it helped with Egypt, but not really...? I'm not sure about this one.

4:07 PM: A Twilight musical moment? Ugh. Why the obsession with making Twilight at the Oscars happen?

4:10 PM: Justin Timberlake doesn't use Facebook. Well, fine. I didn't want to be his friend anyway. Yes I did. He's wearing Tom Ford, who I love, so he gets points. 

4:20 PM: You know what, I kinda like Hilary Swank. She may not deserve both her Oscars, but she's absolutely delightful.

4:25 PM: Celine is here! And she's going back to Vegas! If anyone just feels the need to buy me an early Christmas present, hit me up.

4:29 PM: Reese Witherspoon just arrived. Maybe someday, she'll be back here as a nominee. The career just died after the Oscar, didn't it?

4:32 PM: That little pest Adam Shankman says Tom Cruise will be in the adaptation of Rock of Ages. Eugh.

4:33 PM: Gwyneth Paltrow looks stunning in Calvin Klein. Simple is best. I'm obsessed with this woman now. Obsessed.

4:36 PM: A preview for Red Riding Hood. Please, someone, tell me I'm not the only one who wants to see this. Christian Bale cut the hair but still kinda looks like cleaned-up Jesus. I wonder if he also talks like a gentleman like you imagined when you were young?

Well. So much for that.

4:40 PM: Sandra Bullock looks amazing in the red Vera Wang she's wearing. I hate red on the red carpet usually (too matchy-matchy!) but I love this dress. Halle Berry in Marchesa is pretty amazing as well.

4:57 PM: Looks like Natalie Portman's gonna be E!'s last interview... I'm gonna take a break before the main show at 5:30. See you guys in another post! 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Day Before Blues: Changing My Mind

We are mere hours away from the Academy Awards, so as one might expect, I've started to rethink my predictions. Ultimately, I realized that Alice in Wonderland wouldn't register such a high nomination count if it weren't going to pick up at least a couple of statuettes. What to give it, though? I went with the consensus opinion that it is going to win Best Costume Design (designer Colleen Atwood is locked in a tumultuous battle with The Tempest costume designer Sandy Powell, and the two always win when the other is nominated--a win for Atwood would match their records) and Best Art Direction (since voters prefer too much to the understated, like The King's Speech).

But here's the issue--if you're gonna expect The King's Speech to win Best Picture, you have to give it at least enough wins to consider it a "sweep". (Movies that get nominated in big numbers like that don't win Best Picture without a lot of other wins as well: see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as an example). With those two trophies going to Alice, I honestly have no idea how to get the overall number of wins for The King's Speech up to six or above. I expect it to lose Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Editing and Sound Mixing, winning only Score, Original Screenplay and Actor. But that's far too many losses (especially losing Editing and Director) to also win Best Picture. The Oscars just don't work that way.

So with literally just 23 hours remaining before the ceremony, I'm switching my Best Picture pick to The Social Network. No idea why I'm doing this. It's incredibly risky. But I'm doing it.

If you wanna check out all my picks, the Current Oscar Predictions has them all. But I'm posting the major eight categories below. See you all tomorrow for live-blogging.

Best Picture
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right 
The King's Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Should Win: Black Swan
Will Win: The Social Network

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
David O. Russell, The Fighter

Should Win: Darren Aronofsky
Will Win: David Fincher

Best Actress
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Should Win and Will Win: Natalie Portman

Best Actor
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
James Franco, 127 Hours
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Should Win: James Franco
Will Win: Colin Firth

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Fighter
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Should Win: Geoffrey Rush
Will Win: Christian Bale

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham-Carter, The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Should Win and Will Win: Amy Adams (no idea why I have so much faith in this prediction)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Simon Beaufoy and Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Various Authors, Toy Story 3
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit
Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini, Winter's Bone

Should Win and Will Win: The Social Network

Best Original Screenplay
Mike Leigh, Another Year
Various Authors, The Fighter
Christopher Nolan, Inception
Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, The Kids Are All Right
David Seidler, The King’s Speech

Should Win: Inception
Will Win: The King's Speech

Friday, February 25, 2011

In a Better (Oscar) World

Time to recap this year's awards season--all of it's ups and lows, its snubs and surprises, its critical darlings and guild favorites, and its former front runners and new dark horses.

Awkward is What We Aim For started blogging the Oscars back in October and, proving once again that you can always be surprised, my stipulations at the beginning of the year all proved somewhat false.

First, I posited the idea that The Social Network would have to hold on to its buzz in order to do well come awards time. It certainly held the buzz, but it also "underwhelmed" (I use quotes because I don't necessarily consider all the early awards and eight Oscar nominations underwhelming) because it is likely to lose Best Picture come Sunday. I never saw the strange, out-of-nowhere turn for The King's Speech coming.

Second, I said that if Black Swan did poorly upon its reception, it would be significantly stunted at the Oscars. Well, there's nothing poor about 86% critical approval on Rotten Tomatoes and a $100 million gross (double that if you factor in foreign grosses as well), but only five Oscar nominations (as opposed to an organization like BAFTA, which gave Swan 12 nominations) is pretty underwhelming. Just because it's popular doesn't mean it's to the Academy's tastes.

Finally, there was my insistence that Love and Other Drugs was better than we were expecting it to be (so much for that), that True Grit was worse than we were expecting it to be (it wound up with over $150 million in box office and I absolutely loved it), and that we had The Fighter pegged as a strong contender (admittedly, I seem to be the only one who has a problem with The Fighter).

So it's clear that what I "knew" earlier on was all nothing but bullshit. C'est la vie.

Todd: "La vie."
Nice, Todd. That was solid.

Looking at my predictions, I actually did much better there than elsewhere. 4/5 on adapted screenplay and original screenplay, 2/5 for supporting actor (I missed Renner, Hawkes and Ruffalo for Garfield, Harris and Brolin), 4/5 for supporting actress (missing Steinfeld, who I thought was lead and didn't place her at all), 3/5 on actress (missed Kidman and Williams for Hawkins and Manville), 4/5 on actor (missing Bardem, but then again, who didn't?), 4/5 on director (missing Aronofsky), and 9/10 on picture (missing Winter's Bone, embarrassingly enough, for For Colored Girls). That's only 9 misses three months ahead of time--not half bad!

We've learned a lot from this Oscar season. We've learned that the critics really don't matter, but the guilds matter plenty. We've learned that the "Oscar movie" may not yet be dead. We've learned that if you're looking for consistency, the Academy is not your friend. And we've learned that as Sasha Stone loves to remind us, we know nothing. "The trick is not minding."

Best of luck to all nominated come Sunday. We'll be here, live-blogging within an inch of our lives.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shameless Plug: My Oscar-Predicting TV Appearance!

Time for another installment of Beyond the Awkward, where we discuss and divulge things that go beyond the scope of this site. Because--did you know?--there are other things out there besides this site. I know, right?!

Since Awkward is What We Aim For is sorely lacking in podcasts and the like, I thought I would share with you guys the latest episode of ROAR Network, LMU's student network's news show, ROAR Dispatch, which features yours truly (normally the Assistant Director of Programming at the network but for one appearance only an on-air talent) predicting the Oscars. That's right--I'm like the next Dave Karger or Ben Lyons. Except not really. At all.
ME! Hi.

My picks are no different than they are on the site, but hey, you can see me in person! Plus, you can check out all of ROAR's content--we're an up-and-coming network, but our website is top-tier and you can see some of our new content. Check out my appearance by following this link. (I come on-screen about twelve minutes in, in the last fifth of the show. I'm the one in the purple shirt!)


  


ROAR Dispatch: Episode 7 from ROAR Network on Vimeo.

Liam Neeson in Taken 2: Starring Bridget Von Hammersmark and Betty Draper

Unknown, starring Liam Neeson, is a film you've seen before.
There’s a lot to like about Unknown, from the completely game performances by stars Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger to the taut, thrilling and actually quite possible screenplay, adapted by Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell from a novel called Out of My Head by Didier van Cauwelaert. There is, in turn, a lot to dislike as well: the underdeveloped characters, the sometimes half-baked action sequences and the high number of twists without much real payoff.

Updated: The Awkwards! Honoring the Best in Film from 2010


UPDATED 2/23/11: With the Oscars just days away, I thought it best to update my individual awards, making some changes for what I now consider premature decisions.

Well, you know what I think will be nominated for the Oscars this year. But if I were running my own awards show, it would look a little different. That's right, fasten your seat belts for a long, long trip, because it's time for the 3rd Annual Awkwards!

Unlike the Oscars, I only have 15 categories, and of those, I only use seven of the Academy's (technically, eight, but I use slightly different criterion for my Best Artistic Direction award). Some are more fun than others, but overall, I want to capture all aspects of a film in these categories that may have not as much to do with the technical work, but what, as an audience, we appreciate.

I also award 5th through 1st, so no one feels left out. After all, these are by far the most important awards given out this season... (*snigger*... did I just snigger at myself?) The only other rule I have is that one performer can't be nominated twice in one category.



A quick note on the graphic: in honor of the award being called the Awkward, I present one of the more awkward moments in Oscar history--the interruption of the Best Documentary Short Music By Prudence winner's acceptance speech by a booted producer from the project--as a representation of how truly awkward awards can be.

Left ineligible originally this year were Barney's Version, Frankie and Alice, Biutiful, Country Strong, The Company Men, Blue Valentine, Another Year and The Way Back due to their limited releases. It's an unwritten (well, now it's written) rule of the Awkwards that one-week "qualifier runs" carry no water here. I took off this restriction for this update, but the only film it benefited was Blue Valentine.

So, without further ado, let's get started...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sticking to My Guns: Why I'm Predicting Amy Adams

I don't fancy myself an Oscar savant of any kind. I realize that most of my high scores in prediction pools are largely because I pay very close attention to the opinions of others. So if I'm predicting something to be nominated or win, it's likely because I saw the prediction elsewhere, thought there was good logic behind it and decided to predict it myself.
"I like my life."
And yet this year, I'm making one screwball prediction that is almost destined to fall short: Amy Adams for Best Supporting Actress. That's right: over her The Fighter co-star Melissa Leo, over BAFTA winner Helena Bonham Carter, over my former personal pick Jacki Weaver (my opinion's shifted a bit in recent weeks), and over wunderkind child actress Hailee Steinfeld. What gives me such faith in the three-time Oscar nominee who's never really come close to the gold before? What makes me think that Adams, who absolutely no one is predicting to win, is such a sure bet to win the gold?

In short, I have no idea. But I'm sticking to my guns.