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 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.


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.


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.


6:46 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.


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
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.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Oscar Predictions: One Week Out

Sorry for the quiet on the blog recently--burnout from awards talk added to a ridiculous workload this week prevented most updates. Two quick updates--first, the obvious: we're one week away from the Oscars, so final predictions are up. As always, you can find them (with all 24 categories!) by clicking on the Current Oscar Predictions tab. (Sorry for any graphical hiccups.)

I'm predicting a near-sweep for The King's Speech, though a small one--only six statuettes. I also have The Social Network and Inception picking up three Oscars, while Black Swan, Tangled, True Grit and Toy Story 3 each get one.

The second update is a very exciting one--things are gonna get a lot more awkward! Awkward is What We Aim For is now a partner of Reel Artsy, another film blog that loves to feature the awkward. You'll be able to read my Netflix Pix features on that site as well as here very soon, and we hope to get more collaborations working as soon as possible. Exciting times!

As far as next Sunday's festivities are concerned, I plan to live-blog, and I'll probably have a few more pieces up this week about specific races that I think are still contended, etc. And you can bet I'll be back on Monday morning to praise and bitch the ceremony, the winners, and the dresses.

It's kinda like Christmas week for all us Oscar watchers. Let's hope we get something good and not a big lump of coal.

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's an Adjustment, But a Good One

The reviews have been coming slowly but surely recently (sorry, blame work piling up), but after seeing Rabbit Hole a second time yesterday (still a great movie, still wouldn't make my Top Ten simply because its strength is in the performances, not the overall film) and seeing the trailer for the new film The Adjustment Bureau attached, I realized I had to write a review of the new thriller just to talk about what the movie really is, as opposed to what it's being marketed as.

Wow, this movie looks so serious! Too bad it kinda isn't!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Oscar Predictions Revised: Fincher Up, Leo Down

The Oscar Predictions tab has been updated to reflect new predictions. My current bet is The King's Speech/Fincher/Firth/Portman/Bale/Adams, but we'll have to see exactly what turns this race takes. I'm probably going to add the other 12 categories sometime soon--all depends on time and effort I can put in.

Am I overestimating how Leo will be affected by her rogue FYC campaign? If she loses, will it be to Steinfeld instead of Adams? Is there any drama in any of these races other than Best Supporting Actress? Take it to the comments!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Consider: Melissa Leo is Really Screwing Up

Melissa Leo is asking us to consider her, but all I'm considering is how Amy Adams will look accepting her Oscar come February 27th.

If you haven't yet heard about the new, self-funded For Your Consideration ads Melissa Leo has in circulation right now, let me get you up to speed. These:

are the infamous ads that Leo decided to purchase and produce to supplement her For Your Consideration campaign. Leo is nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars to be held later this month, and apparently she doesn't think the general ads for her film, The Fighter, are good enough. In fact, she doesn't even think her performance as bad mother Alice Ecklund is good enough. No, she wants you to consider Melissa Leo, the actress. And I think we should consider exactly how stupid this is.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Why The King's Speech Winning Best Picture Does Not Matter

Now that I've voiced exactly why a Best Picture win for The King's Speech is kind of a bonkers idea, I'm going to explain exactly why that event wouldn't really affect anything.

"But Kevin," you ask, "why doesn't it matter? Didn't you just say Speech shouldn't win Best Picture?" Well, yes, I did say that. And I certainly haven't recanted my position on that matter. If it wins on the 27th of this month, I will be annoyed, probably even angry, with the idea that the Academy has failed once again to recognize the best film made this year.

And it is that statement that makes me realize exactly why a win for The King's Speech doesn't matter. Because depending on your school of criticism, the "Best" could be completely different. Because as much as we pretend "Best" is objective, it is, at least partially, subjective. And there are so many great things about Speech that it is an acceptable Best Picture winner, if not a great one.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Netflix Pix: Of Clubs Both Fight and the Moulin Rouge!

It's Netflix Pix time once again--apologies for the delay! My intention was to make this a regular Sunday series but it seems more likely that once every two weeks is a better aim.

This week, we have two regular-mail picks, both centered around the ideas of clubs--albeit entirely different clubs. Today, we'll visit Tyler Durden's Fight Club and Harold Zeigler's Moulin Rouge!