Friday, August 5, 2016

4 Months, 3 Continents, and No Idea What I'm Doing

I have sometimes been known to make massive, impulsive decisions. On the surface, it may seem like I'm a bit of a fickle bitch who changes his life on a whim (and that's probably a totally fair accusation), but in retrospect, all of the monumental, life-altering things I've decided to do on a moment's notice were things that I had, in fact, thought about for ages--deciding to do them was more of a process of admitting to myself that I already knew what I was going to do.

So when, last September, one of my jumbled, half-realized shower thoughts was "hey, I wonder what it would be like to travel on the Trans-Siberian railroad?", I probably ought to have known what was coming--something large and perhaps very silly.

And this is how it started--I hopped out of the shower, searched 'Trans-Siberian Railroad' on google images, and got this:
Image: The Man in Seat 61
Check this site out if you want to lose literal hours from your day.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Final Oscar Predictions: Jackson Pollock Would Throw Up His Hands in Despair, or: Wait, Seriously, What?

In honor of the anarchic, footloose and fancy-free spirit the Oscars have been so sassily slipping into our drinks this season, I'm just going to spin in mad circles around my room for a few minutes instead of typing up predictions. It'll be like that scene from The Fall, except in this version everyone ends up on the floor crying.

I was lying. I'm not going to do that. I'm so sorry. The point, however, is this--this awards season has plunged forward like a well-intentioned but woefully under-qualified golden retriever trying to pilot a nuclear submarine. It's fun in theory, but in reality is going to destroy the lives of so, so many people. So instead of trying to plot where Karl Barx (the captain of said nuclear submarine) is going to end up, we're going to just sort of ramble for a few pages. Fun for the whole family!

(Once more, without snark--I honestly have no idea what I'm doing here. Dat Academy be wack.)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Best of 2015, part 5: My Dream Oscar Ballot

And here's the *actual* end of lists for the year--not for posts (still one more doozy careening down the pike), but for tossing superlatives at movies like confetti out of a malfunctioning cannon. So here's the deal--just for posterity, I'll list my nominees in each category in alphabetical order, sans commentary, with the winners in bold. For extra amusement and education, I'll put an asterisk next to the movies that the Academy also nominated. As always, there's not too much overlap: the most similar categories were Visual Effects, Cinematography, and Sound Editing (both 4/5), and neither Supporting Actor nor Original Song had any nominees in common.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Best of 2015, part 4: Craft Categories

And as quickly as we found each other, now we have to let go. I know. It's hard. I'm going to cry in a train station, David Lean style, as soon as I'm done writing this, and I only hope you're going to stare moodily out your window and listen to John Grant crooning at you. (Those were Brief Encounter and Weekend jokes, by the way.) (Because they're both about people who--. You know what? Just go watch those movies. Seriously. Do that right now. I'll wait right here.) This is my last big list post until I slither back into the shadows until February 2017. Wackiness. Today, I'm going to tackle all of the most fun categories, aka the categories no casual movie goer enjoys! Oh happy day! So before I whisper something into your ear and then get in a taxi, leaving you to wander Tokyo (Lost in Translation. Keep up.), let's spend a few more happy moments together while I try and come up with exciting new ways to describe sound editing.

(I've included definitions for a few categories, in case you're not too positive to which craft each is referring.)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Best of 2015, part 3: Directing/Screenplays

Here's the deal, fellow humans: I understand that by asking you read this I am tacitly agreeing to being generally funny and entertaining, and I want to try very hard to do that, but it's been a long, long, long day. So I will do my best to be funny, but I might end up breaking down halfway through and just burying my sleepy little eyes in cupcakes instead. I probably ought to just write this tomorrow when my eyes aren't literally falling out of my head, but this list series is like a shark; it keeps moving forward or else Henry Winkler sneaks up and jumps it with a jet-ski. (That was a Happy Days joke, because nothing is more topical than talking about the Fonz.)

So we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into lists of movies I liked. (That was Gatsby. I think for my next trick I'll make a Gilgamesh joke.) Today I'm just going to deal with three categories (see above, re: eyes, falling out of head), the three which I am contractually obligated to say are the ones I've always dreamed about failing at: directing and screenplays!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Best of 2015, part 2: Acting Categories

Actors are weird. Funny, I just had this conversation today, and it's worth re-hashing--actors are weird. They flounce around and toss breakaway glass at fake walls and sometimes they pretend to bugs into their ears or something. And then we all gather around and watch and say catty things about how you can totally see the pregnancy she's hiding, the filthy trollop. And then I have to come here and write things about pretty people, and life is so hard you guys. So let's do our best to write about pretty people. It's a rough job, but someone's gotta do it. Y'know, instead of doing my *actual* job today. I too make sacrifices for my art. Which means I should probably win an Oscar next weekend (I am so sick of The Revenant's Oscar campaign. If Elizabeth Taylor could see this she'd never stop throwing up.)

Anyhow, I will attempt to wax effusive about a gaggle of interesting pretty people who made funny faces in a movie once, and we'll all be better for it. I'll link to Youtube videos when possible so as to prove that the movies I'm talking about aren't ones I made up.

Check it all out after the jump!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Best of 2015, Part 1: Top 20, Zen Awards

I have a rule about tattoos. I'd love to get one, but I'm always terrified that the idea I have in the moment is never one I'll want to have on my body in 10 years. And as such, I stick to the following standard--if I come up with a tattoo idea I love, I'll allow myself to get it if I still think it's a great idea in five years' time. And as of yet I remain tattoo-less.

Well perhaps I ought to be tattooing a numbers and titles and silly awards onto my forehead, because this season marks the 10th anniversary of tossing Oscar predictions and best of the year lists out into the gaping internet abyss. Which is kind of astounding, really--I'm not sure there's anything else in my entire life I've been able to manage to do consistently for a decade. There's something wonderfully cathartic about taking all of my favorite (and not so favorite) movie memories from the past year, hashing them out in an hours-long frenzy of tenuous metaphors and breathtaking abuse of adverbs, and then placing them all carefully in my past. It's a lovely little thing to do, and I love that I get to do it. And I'm also perplexed that you all click on these links to slog through the giant wall of text I'm about to inflict on you. So thanks for that. I'm not going to try and improve on my rant from last year in which I extolled the various virtues of watching slasher movies with strangers (here it is in case you're curious), but I stand by the sentiment--to bastardize a Truffaut quote, I'm interested in either the joy or the agony of loving the movies; there's no in-between. And I hope that I'm still writing these silly little lists 10 years into the future, because for better or worse, this combination of movie love and neurosis is probably my personality's defining element. So hooray!

Now let me tell you about my favorite butts in the movies this year. (You think I'm joking? Stay tuned. The suspense will figuratively kill you.)

So here's the tried and true format: I'll kick things off with a joe (Joe?)-average top 20 list, followed by the annual Zen awards (themselves followed by my annual 'oh God I desperately need a new title for my Awards' awards). So if you can stay hearty and slog through 20 blurbs about movies you may or may not have seen, I will reward you the movie-blogging equivalent of flips, cartwheels, and throwing fruit at passers-by. Oh happy day! See it in glorious 70 mm after the jump.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Oscar Nominations: What a Day! What a Lovely Day!

I know, I know, who wants to read about these four days after they came out, but I was traveling, and I picked up a pretty nasty cold while I was out, so I spent the past day and a half lolling around in a dayquil-tinted fever dream. ...Which I'll probably do today as well.
What a strange, silly year it's been for the Oscars--and that's mostly reflected by this year's crop of strange, silly nominees. Sure, there are dull moments, poor choices, and default votes, but there's also a guy in a bright red suit playing a flamethrower guitar, so we take what we get. And what we got was actually pretty good, at least by Academy standards. So let's see what exactly it is we got!

Note: I'll put an asterisk next to the nominees I predicted, so you can see how I did.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Oscar Predictions 2015, part 5: summing it up

Alright boys and girls, here's how it is: the Academy announces their nominees in two days time, but I'm going to be on the road for those two days, so I've got to speak now, or forever hold my peace. (See it's funny because I'm driving to a wedding.) This means that there are a couple last sign-posts I'm missing--the Directors Guild nominations come out later today, which are probably the most important precursor of all, but oh well. So if I'm a little less accurate than usual, that could be why. Or it could just be because this year for Oscar has been insane and silly and I've loved it. So here we go: these will be my super serious final predictions, sans commentary, allowing myself one alternate.

As far as big changes are concerned, I've moved Steve Carell into best actor for The Big Short, which meant bumping Johnny Depp in Black Mass out, pushed The Danish Girl out of production design for Mad Max: Fury Road (which was very, very silly), and changed my visual effects alternate from Avengers to Ant-Man, and followed a hunch I've had since October, moving Bridge of Spies into Sound Mixing and kicking Straight Outta Compton straight outta the category. So not much, which is surprising considering how very not sure of all of these that I am. Oh well. Accuracy is for losers.

And I know it's silly to go on for five days about the Oscars without offering (mostly) any opinions of my own about what should get nominated, but chalk it up to the annoying release schedules we deal with in the middle of the country. Given how long it takes some movies to ooze their way into states other than New York and California, I really can't put together a respectable top ten list until at least mid-February. But rest assured, top ten lists are coming! Rejoice! Just know for now that if I could guarantee one nomination, it'd be George Miller for best director for Mad Max: Fury Road, and if I could prevent any nomination, it would be a toss-up between Helen Mirren's supporting actress bid for Trumbo, Eddie Redmayne for best actor for The Danish Girl, and Christian Bale for supporting actor for The Big Short.

So here we go!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Oscar Predictions 2015, Part 4: Craft Categories

Welcome back for another salvo of movie-related words! If you're still here on day four, then you're a stronger person than I. For day four, we're jumping into the categories that build movies from the ground up, the ones that really ought to get more attention--the ones that most people kind of tune out. Which is a shame, because year in and year out some of the best artistic work in movies come from these categories. Now, because there are 10 categories, because the people involved (and sometimes even the work they do) are fairly unknown, and because trying to predict these categories can be like trying to pin a tail on a drunken toddler, I'll probably keep the commentary fairly brief. So let's get to it!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Oscar Predictions 2015, part 3: Directing/Screenplays

Funny, I don't know why this happens every year, but it turns out I'm writing my director/screenplay categories on a day when I'm kind of tired and/or busy and/or my fingers have literally fallen off. So, once again, I'm going to try to slay the brevity dragon, if only so I can go do something mindless and silly like play with kittens or lose a land war in Asia. So let's just jump into directing and screenplays--and tradition makes me honor-bound to tell you that I pair these two categories because they're the two categories for which I am gonna totally get not nominated in 10-100 years.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Oscar Predictions 2014, part 2: acting categories

Hello again! I'm back after an eventful day of movies yesterday (I saw The Revenant and The Hateful Eight, and, spoiler alert, neither will really be featuring in my best of the year lists. Yeesh.) to yammer on about pretty famous people for a bit. And why are we even on this good green Earth if not to yammer about the rich and fancy? So today will talk about the acting categories, aka the categories with people who regular moviegoers recognize (but for those of you who don't say things like "you go Sandy Powell" or "get some, Edward Lachmann!" or "Aw HELLS yes Jack Fisk!" on Oscar morning, just know that you're missing out).

Friday, January 8, 2016

Oscar Predictions 2015, Part 1: Picture

And just like that a year has passed, which means it's once again time for me to toss my silly obsession mindlessly into the void and wait like a crazy person for the inevitable, echoing emptiness that awaits! But see, it's not just any wild-eyed, furiously typed little cry of madness this year--this just so happens to be my tenth straight year of writing up Oscar predictions and determinedly pasting them somewhere for public consumption. That's right--I've been doing this ten years. I'm so old my grandkids have been doing Oscar predictions for a decade. Madness. And yet, for whatever reason (and that reason probably is "because the inside of my head is horrifying and nonsensical"), I'm glad I've been throwing up into your internet spaces for a decade. And I hope that I'll still be doing it in a decade, and in a decade after that (if we still have internet), and a decade after that (if the radioactive spiders haven't gotten to my computer yet) and so on and so forth.

So here's how it'll go: today I'll do best picture plus a few throwaway categories, tomorrow will be acting categories, Sunday will be directing, Monday will be craft categories, and I'll wrap it all up and put a little bow on it Tuesday. Note that I'm doing things a little early this year--I'll be on the road and internet-less from the 12th (after my little bow post) to the night of the 15th--and as the Oscars are announced the morning of the 14th, that means my reactions will be a little delayed as well. Somehow I'm sure we'll all manage together.

So here we go!