Monday, January 13, 2014

In Which I Predict The Oscars

So this is my thing. Whereas some people collect stamps, pimp out their Dungeons and Dragons characters, re-design their house, or otherwise do something useful, it seems I have found a talent in predicting an awards show that doesn't really matter and is often quite infuriating. But it's fun to do it, so why not?

While watching last night's Golden Globes, I found that most of my predictions were just slightly off (I called more acting wins for 12 Years a Slave that Dallas Buyer's Club). So my whole "I was 100 percent accurate last year" brag might soon be going down the toilet, but it's still worth a shot.

Small reminder that we don't even have any nominees yet. Once we do, I'll revise this post or maybe make another one.

I'm seeing 12 Years A Slave vs. Gravity, but I'd bet money, albeit a small amount on 12 Years. Steve McQueen has thus far not made much of a splash with the Academy, but this movie pretty much blew everybody away with it's accurate and brutal depiction of slavery in Lousiana. Gravity however was not only very well recieved critically, but also a special effects tour de force from a well loved director that also made all the monies at the box office. It's a tight race this year. The only possible upset is American Hustle.

Best Actor
Chiwetel Ejiofor is so far the forerunner, but you could see LEONARDO DICAPRIO FINALLY GET HIS OSCAR, but this might not be a thing because Wolf of Wall Street's explicit and excessive scenes, which to be fair, was the point the movie was trying to make. If it's not Leo or Chiwetel, definitely Oscar Issac for Inside Llewyn Davis (WHICH I HAVE STILL NOT SEEN AND THIS MAKES ME IRRATIONALLY ANGRY). Also, I know that fact that it came out in April kind of kills it's Oscar chances, but I'm hoping Chadwick Boseman from "42" might get a nom.

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett has been the forerunner ever since she played a downtrodden socialite in Blue Jasmine, but Amy Adams also might get away with this one. And if it's not either of them, it will be Sandra Bullock for (an absolutely stunning performance in) Gravity, or Judi Dench for Philomena.

Best Supporting Actress
It looks like Jennifer Lawrence might win yet another award, but I'm honestly not too enthralled with that, because American Hustle wasn't even that good, and pales in comparison to Lupita N'yongo's performance in 12 Years A Slave (and y'all know I love Jennifer. It's just that she played this samek kind of character last year in Silver Linings Playbook too). Side note: I don't know if this would in leading actress, but Scarlett Johansson just might garner a nomination for her voice acting in Spike Jonze's "her", where she plays an operating system that (understandably) Joaquin Pheonix falls in love with. It's next on my to-watch list.

Best Supporting Actor
This one is definitely a toss up. You've got Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave, Jared Leto playing a trasgendered person in Dallas Buyer's Club, Bradley Cooper in American Hustle (One of the best performances in a mediocre movie all about good performances),  and some others.

Best Song
Probably "Let It Go" from Frozen. It's basically Idina Menzel's lost Wicked track, a fresh version of Defying Gravity for a new generation. Although U2's song for Mandela might sneak in, especially due to their long partnership and Mandela's recent death. I would also like to see if Inside Llewyn Davis can get past the guidelines for Best Song, but considering that it won't, it's more than likely it won't even get the nomination.

Best Score
I'm hoping for The Book Thief to pick up something (ANYTHING), and it's soundtrack is John Williams at his non-blockbuster best. Soft, moving, and still listenable. Hans Zimmer for 12 Years a Slave or the soundtrack to All Is Lost are other possible contenders.

Best Special Effects
PACIFIC RIM PLEASE PLEASE, but on the other hand, Gravity won this year for it's groundbreaking (ahahahaha) zero gravity work, so this one is pretty much a shut out.

Best Original Screenplay/Adapted Screenplay
This one is a pretty tight two way as well, with 'her' and Inside Llewyn Davis being my top two. The academy always likes to give this one to the slightly offbeat movies that probably won't win any acting awards. That being sad, the guidelines on these things are so confusing that I'll just put in the best shots here.Wolf of Wallstreet and American Hustle could probably get in too.

Best Directing
Again, it's McQueen vs. Cuaron (sorry, my accent marks aren't working with me today). Although I'm a little more inclined towards Gravity simply because it was a much technically harder movie to make that still packs an emotional punch, whereas 12 Years A Slave called for a lot more emotion and some pretty excruciating scenes. Both have excellent merits.

So that's it for now, if I didn't mention something or you think I'm dead wrong, please let me know, because this looks to be a year of upsets.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Randi's Favorite Things From 2013

So I realize I didn't make a lot of posts in 2013, so I think I'm just going to do a nice little round up of things you should know about that were awesome.

1. Paramore by Paramore- After losing founding Farro brothers, it was questionable whether or not Paramore could continue as a band. Not only did they continue, they excelled past any of their previous works. This album manages to use sounds from all of their past albums while still adding new textures and styles. Not to mention the ukulele interludes are pretty cool too.
Key Tracks: Ain't It Fun, Fast in My Car, Anklebiters, Part II, Grow Up, and (One of Those) Crazy Girls.

2. Thor: The Dark World- If I had to pick between Marvel's two big releases this year, this one beats Iron Man 3 by a long shot. Which is not a slight, they're both great blockbuster flicks (although I will say I like IM3's after-credits scene better). But character development, Christopher Eccleston as Malekith (spelling is a weird thing in the comic book world, friends. Forgive any errors), Kat Denning's side stealing sass, and the incomparable Tom Hiddleston as the even more incomparable Loki made this movie completely amazing. May the Marvel gods smile upon the Thor franchise, and grant us another movie, especially if it was as much fun as this one.
Best Scene: Loki's backseat driving, or the ending.

3. Catching Fire. This is literally the most perfect book to movie adaptation there had ever been. The dialog is accurate, and if the best nitpick the fans can come up with is about a watch, you know you've done good. Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely amazing as Katniss, and newcomers Jena Malone and Jeffery Wright shine as well. And of course, Woody Harrelson steals scenes as inebriated yet whip smart mentor Haymitch. Everything about this movie is way better than the first, and a pitch perfect adaptation of it's source material. Director Francis Lawrence is signed on for the two part finale of Mockingjay, and I'm ready and willing to see what he's got in store for us.
Best Scene: Johanna stripping down in the elevator or anything containing Jennifer Lawrence.

4. Pure Heroine by Lorde. And the most clever album name of the year goes to this New Zealand singer whose dubious beginnings in the recording industry have nonetheless paid off in this mesmerizing debut. It's a very sparse album, usually just a pulse and some synths with layers of her voice, and it deals with the themes of corruption and the upper crust better than most of the artists who have attempted such a thing (Looking at you, Lana Del Rey). The tone of the album is the same most of the time, making it a bit monotonous towards the middle, and none of it is as commercially friendly as radio hit "Royals", but it is a very promising start.
Key Tracks: Team, Ribs, Glory and Gore, A World Alone, and of course, Royals.

5. Kinky Boots. Based on a little seen 2006 Brit-com movie about a shoe factory, on the edge of bankruptcy, turning to making boots for drag queens to stay afloat. It's a funny, emotional, and groovy story with even groovier music and the performance of a lifetime by Billy Porter, playing drag queen Lola. The score (written by Cyndi Lauper) is very pop and a lot of fun, but also packs the emotional punch needed for the story. It manages to be fun and be a sort of "moral of the story" type of show without being preachy. Also, the choreography is particularly good (when it involves conveyor belts, I'm in) and the set design is very clever. Stark Sands and Analeigh Ash also play a great couple, and their respective character solos are pretty much amazing. Find the bootleg on youtube, and prepare to be amazed, although the show will be doing a tour soon.
Key Tracks: Not My Father's Son, The History of Wrong Guys, Soul of A Man,  Land of Lola, Raise You Up/Just Be

6. Pacific Rim. I'm amazed I managed to restrain myself for this long. Pacific Rim was pretty much my favorite thing that happened this year at the movie's, and if you want to read more about all my feelings about it and such, I have a review here. But in short, a great female hero, a wonderfully diverse and skilled cast, and GIANT MONSTERS EATING THINGS.

7. Welcome to Night Vale. A podcast that takes after H.P. Lovecraft and makes you feel like you're part of this small desert community, where a giant glow cloud runs the school board, interns die like red shirts in Star Trek, the dog park is unknown territory, librarians are evil, and nobody really knows who owns this radio station. Our narrator Cecil gives us the scoop on everything in this whacky little town. Combining witty satire, flat out weirdness, and an indie music spot, Welcome To Night Vale is one of the coolest, and weirdest, things I've ever had the fortune to listen to.

There are probably a lot more things that should go on this list, but this is just a taste. Here's to 2014!