Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Academy Awards: Analyzing Prediction Outcome and Other Thoughts

I have marked the nominees that got nominated in Blue, the other predictions I just left in black. Thoughts are below each catagory.

Best Picture

Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck
Crash
Capote

Walk the Line

runners up: King Kong, The Constant Gardener, Munich

4/5
Thoughts: Many people predicted Munich as a nominee and against my better judgement, I couldn't believe that Walk the Line wouldn't make the cut...especially in the line of Ray making it last year...obviously Speilberg gets a lot of nods, but I thought movies like Syriana and the Constant Gardener would cancel it out...I guess not

Actor

Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Jaoquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
David Straithairn, Good Night, and Good Luck
Russel Crowe, Cinderella Man

runners up: Terrance Howard (Hustle & Flow), Jeff Daniels (the Squid and the Whale)

4/5
Thoughts: This is not surprising...I could have seen it between Howard or Crowe...I bet it was close. Hoffman has got to win this, he was amazing.

Actress

Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
Judi Dench, Miss Henderson Presents
Charlize Theron, North Country
Ziyi Zhang, Memoirs of a Geisha

runners up: Laura Linney (the Squid and the Whale), Joan Allen (the Upside of Anger)
complete miss: Keira Knightley, Pride and Predjudice

4/5
Thoughts: I completly missed Keira...I was hoping she'd get nominated but she didn't seem to have any buzz...but Pride & Predjudice fared well with 4 nominations...and I missed 3 of them. P& P is a great film...totally worth watching.

Supporting Actor:

Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
George Clooney, Syriana
Matt Dillon, Crash
Jake Gylenthall, Brokeback Mountain
William Hurt, A History of Violence

runners up: Don Cheadle (Crash), Terrance Howard (Crash)

5/5
Thoughts: My only catagory with a complete 5 out 5 sweep. I thought I might be dumb with predicting William Hurt, but I kind of figured that the two black Crash men would end up canceling eachother out since different people highlight one or the others performance...and Matt Dillon is just plain creepy.

Supporting Actress:

Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

Maria Bello, A History of Violence
Amy Adams, Junebug
Frances McDormand, North Country


runners up: Catherine Keener (Capote), Scarlett Johanasson (Match Point)

4/5
Thoughts: This was a tight race, I should've known Keener's role as Harper Lee would win her one, but the part is so light...but I really am glad she got the nomination.

Director:

Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck
Paul Haggis, Crash
Steven Speilburg, Munich
Fernando Mierlles, The Constant Gardener

runners up: Bennett Miller, Capote; David Cronenburg, A History of Violence; James Mangold, Walk the Line; Peter Jackson, King Kong

4/5
Thoughts: Congrats to Miller...I thought the directors would give out some Meirlees love like they did with City of God...but Miller deserves the nod too...he showed great directorial skills...I wonder if Clooney could beat Lee here...nah, probably not the Academy has long been waiting to honor Ang Lee...oh well.

Original Screenplay:

Good Night, and Good Luck
Crash
The Squid and the Whale
Match Point
Cinderella Man

runners up: The 40 year-old Virgin, Hustle & Flow
complete miss: Syriana

4/5
Thoughts: I completly thought that Syriana was adapted and had read a little bit where people didn't know what catagory it went into...I was miss directed. How sad, otherwise I think I would have had a perfect score here. I think Crash will win, but I hope Good Night takes home the prize.

Adapted Screenplay:

Brokeback Mountain
Capote
Munich

Walk the Line
The Constant Gardener

runners up: Syriana, A History of Violence, Memoirs of a Geisha

4/5
Thoughts: There's certainly a lack of consensus as to what movies are the "it" movies...sometimes History of Violence is there, sometimes Walk the Line, sometimes Constant Gardener, sometimes Muich, Memoirs, or Syriana..to be honest, I'm really surprised Walk the Line missed the love.

Original Score:

Memoirs of a Geisha (John Williams)
Brokeback Mountain (Santaolla)
Munich (John Williams)
King Kong (James Newton Howard)
Cinderella Man (Thomas Newman)

runners up: The New World (James Horner), Chronicles of Narnia (Gregson-Williams)
complete miss: The Constant Gardener (Alberto Iglesia), Pride & Predjudice (Dario Marrenelli)

3/5

Thoughts: I did poor here...but I knew John Williams would get the nods. Look for Memoirs of a Geisha to win here...Congrats to Iglesia and Marrenelli for breaking in...that's just wonderful! I'm glad Newman didn't get nominated...I'm sick of his boring music. But speaking of boring predictable music, I could have almost believed that War of the Worlds had a chance to get nominated and then John Williams would have 3 noms...thankful for only two!


Original Song:

Travelin' Thru, Transamerica
Same In Any Language, Elizabeth Town
There's Nothing Like a Show on Broadway, The Producers
Can't Take it In, Chronicles of Narnia
Hustle & Flow (It Ain't Over), Hustle & Flow

runners up: One Little Slip, Chicken Little; It's Hard out there for A Pimp, Hustle & Flow complete miss: In the Deep, Crash

1/3

Thoughts: I'm surprised there's only 3 nominations this year...but there's no real standouts...I imagine Dolly Parton's song from Transamerica will win but the academy let Eminem take it home for "Lose Yourself" from 8 mile, so who knows how they'll groove.

Animated Feature:

Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Madagascar
Howl's Moving Castle

runners up: Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, Chicken Little

2/3

Thoughts: Not surprised.


Cinemotography:

Good Night, and Good Luck
Brokeback Mountain

Memoirs of a Geisha
King Kong
Munich

runners up: The New World, The Chronicles of Narnia

complete miss: Batman Begins

3/5

Thoughts: I had a hard time put down New World for any noms b/c it seemed like it just didn't have it this year...although some people thought it would be a real contender...I am excited to see Batman Begins get a nomination, it deserves it, even though I wish it also would have picked up a nomination for Editing, oh well.


Film Editing:

Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck
Walk the Line
King Kong
Munich

runners up: Batman Begins, Syriana

complete miss: Cinderella Man, The Constant Gardener, Crash

2/5

Thoughts: My worse catagory by far. Good Night got robbed. This catagory is one of my favorite ones though...and I shouldn't be surprised that only 2 are best pic nominations...these awards tend to deviate. I have no idea who's going to win...it's a tough race. You'll notice Brokeback did not sweep in the technical catagories.


Art Direction/Set Direction:

King Kong
Chronicles of Narnia
Good Night, and Good Luck
Memoirs of Geisha

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

runners up: Brokeback Mountain, Munich

complete miss: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Pride and Predjudice

3/5

Thoughts: I think this'll be another fun race to see what happens. I'm surprised Kong only got 4 nominations. It's making me lean towards Memoirs of a Giesha winning in this catagory.

Costume Design:

Memoirs of a Geisha
Pride & Predjudice

King Kong
Chronicles of Narnia
Walk the Line

runners up: The New World, The White Contess

complete miss: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mrs. Henderson Presents

3/5

Thoughts: I think the Narnia people were robbed. Tilda Swinton's costumes as the white witch were so cool.

Make Up:

Chronicles of Narnia
Star Wars: Episode III

Mrs. Henderson Presents

runner up: The New World, Cinderella Man

2/3

Thoughts: I put Mrs. Henderson in the wrong places.

Sound:

King Kong
Walk the Line

Munich
Star Wars: Episode III
War of the Worlds

runners up: Good Night and Good Luck, Chronicles of Narnia

complete miss: Memoirs of a Geisha
3/5

Thoughts: I gave Star Wars too much credit and Narnia and Geisha not enough.

Sound Editing:

King Kong
Star Wars: Episode III
War of the Worlds

runners up: Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

complete miss: Memoirs of a Geisha

2/3

Thoughts: Same problem as with sound...too much credit to Star Wars, not enough to Geisha.

Visual Effects:

King Kong
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Star Wars: Episode III

runners up: Batman Begins, Chronicles of Narnia
complete miss: War of the Worlds
1/3

Thoughts: Do you see the trend? Star Wars...ARGH!

Foreign Film:

Paradise Now - Palestine
Tsotsi - South Africa
Sophie Schrolls: The Final Days - Germany

The Promise - China
So Close, So Far - Iran

runners up: Requim for Snow, Iraq; Al Otro Lado, Mexico
complete miss: Don't Tell - Italy; Joyeux Noel - France
3/5

Thoughts: I did what I could. I want to see Paradise Now.

Documentary:

March of the Penguins
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Murderball

Mad Hot Ballroom
Favela Rising

runners up: Rize, Darwin's Nightmare

Complete miss: Street Fight

3/5

Thoughts: Can you believe it? Nothing about WWII.

Documentary Short Subject:

God Lives in Rwanda
Abused
A Note of Triumph

runners up: Dimmer, The Mushroom Club

complete miss: The Death of Kevin Carter: Causalty of the Big Bang Club, The Golden Age of Norman Corwin

2/5 (I thought they'd only choose 3)

Thoughts: I really want to see the short God Lives in Rwanda, the website makes it looks so cool & I love movies about Africa.

I did not make on animated or live action shorts because I know nothing about them.

I scored a 64% accuracy with the awards but many I missed were runners up.

Academy Award Nominations In

Here;s the list of academy award nominations...my thoughts and prediction performance to be shared later today.

List of the 78th annual Oscar nominations announced Tuesday in Beverly Hills, Calif., by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:

1. Best Picture: "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote," "Crash," "Good Night, and Good Luck," "Munich."

2. Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"; Terrence Howard, "Hustle & Flow"; Heath Ledger, "Brokeback Mountain"; Joaquin Phoenix, "Walk the Line"; David Strathairn, "Good Night, and Good Luck."

3. Actress: Judi Dench, "Mrs. Henderson Presents"; Felicity Huffman, "Transamerica"; Keira Knightley, "Pride & Prejudice"; Charlize Theron, "North Country"; Reese Witherspoon, "Walk the Line."

4. Supporting Actor: George Clooney, "Syriana"; Matt Dillon, "Crash"; Paul Giamatti, "Cinderella Man"; Jake Gyllenhaal, "Brokeback Mountain"; William Hurt, "A History of Violence."

5. Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, "Junebug"; Catherine Keener, "Capote"; Frances McDormand, "North Country"; Rachel Weisz, "The Constant Gardener"; Michelle Williams, "Brokeback Mountain."

6. Director: Ang Lee, "Brokeback Mountain"; Bennett Miller, "Capote"; Paul Haggis, "Crash"; George Clooney, "Good Night, and Good Luck."; Steven Spielberg, "Munich."

7. Foreign Film: "Don't Tell," Italy; "Joyeux Noel," France; "Paradise Now," Palestine; "Sophie Scholl - The Final Days," Germany; "Tsotsi," South Africa.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana, "Brokeback Mountain"; Dan Futterman, "Capote"; Jeffrey Caine, "The Constant Gardener"; Josh Olson, "A History of Violence"; Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, "Munich."

9. Original Screenplay: Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco, "Crash"; George Clooney & Grant Heslov, "Good Night, and Good Luck."; Woody Allen, "Match Point"; Noah Baumbach, "The Squid and the Whale"; Stephen Gaghan, "Syriana."

10. Animated Feature Film: "Howl's Moving Castle"; "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride"; "Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit."

11. Art Direction: "Good Night, and Good Luck.," "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," "King Kong," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Pride & Prejudice."

12. Cinematography: "Batman Begins," "Brokeback Mountain," "Good Night, and Good Luck.," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "The New World."

13. Sound Mixing: "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "King Kong," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Walk the Line," "War of the Worlds."

14. Sound Editing: "King Kong," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "War of the Worlds."

15. Original Score: "Brokeback Mountain," Gustavo Santaolalla; "The Constant Gardener," Alberto Iglesias; "Memoirs of a Geisha," John Williams; "Munich," John Williams; "Pride & Prejudice," Dario Marianelli.

16. Original Song: "In the Deep" from "Crash," Kathleen "Bird" York and Michael Becker; "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from "Hustle & Flow," Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard; "Travelin' Thru" from "Transamerica," Dolly Parton.

17. Costume: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Mrs. Henderson Presents," "Pride & Prejudice," "Walk the Line."

18. Documentary Feature: "Darwin's Nightmare," "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," "March of the Penguins," "Murderball," "Street Fight."

19. Documentary (short subject): "The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club," "God Sleeps in Rwanda," "The Mushroom Club," "A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin."

20. Film Editing: "Cinderella Man," "The Constant Gardener," "Crash," "Munich," "Walk the Line."

21. Makeup: "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "Cinderella Man," "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith."

22. Animated Short Film: "Badgered," "The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation," "The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello," "9," "One Man Band."

23. Live Action Short Film: "Ausreisser (The Runaway)," "Cashback," "The Last Farm," "Our Time Is Up," "Six Shooter."

24. Visual Effects: "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "King Kong," "War of the Worlds."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Meet The Afters, Watch the Wave


For all the talk of the contemporary culture losing any sense of moral influence, I would like to bring attention to a reverse situation. The Dallas-based Christian recording artist, The Afters, is the next Christian music group to make ripples in contemporary culture (as we've seen with groups/artists like Mercy Me, Switchfoot, and Hawk Nelson.)

The After's songs "Beautiful Love" (their 1st single from their release I Wish We All Could Win) will be the theme song for MTV's new series 8th and Ocean which is to begins this spring. This is also the same song that you will hear in commercials and bumpers for this new television show.

Connecting with a similar demographic, the song has also been selected to be in the movie Just My Luck, staring Lindsay Lohan.

You can hear portions of this song and others off there album at www.theafters.com, the song has been very successful on Christian radio charts as well as for video awards with MTVu.

As a note: "Beautiful Love" was written by lead vocalist Josh Havens after his new bride left on a short term mission trip to Mexico.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

On Truth in Memoirs


I remember seeing a really funny comic in Newsweek a couple weeks ago after the controversy developed over James Frey's novel A Million Little Pieces. The comic had a man going up to the counter at a book store asking where he could find a copy of the best selling novel. The employee at the book store answers "We have some in fiction and some in non-fiction."

It has been interesting to me to see how many

were so angered by the situation. And as a person who had not yet read the book, I found myself a little apethetic on the issue. But at the same time, I knew people that had read it, and for the most part the readers of the book were okay with the discoveries made by the Smoking Gun and wanted to ignore the fact that much of James Frey's Oprah-endorses memoir was a dramatic embellishment.


Yet, it is interesting to me because I think we are deeply attracted to the concept of "memoir" in our current society. We are desperatly seeking out truth because for many of us, time is too valuable to waste on fiction...unless of course we are looking for escape in fiction...in which case we may find the newest Harry Potter to be our cup of tea.

And it is at this juncture that I realize how thankful I am that I had not yet read Frey's work. I deeply appreciate both fiction and non-fiction. And even when I read or watch a film that is fictional I am curios as to what nuggets of personal truth may be included. (For example, I love Jim Sheridan's film In America, and knowing that he wrote the screenplay with his two daugters, I wonder what details of the story are more personal and real than I can imagine. And that is a magical feeling. Yet I was thinking of my favorite memoir, and have decided to share a little about it, because I think it is wonderfully candid and honest and think it is so wonderful, and I would be sad if significant falsity was exposed.

The memoir is called Chasing the Hawk by Andrew Sheehan. The novels subtitle is "Looking for my Father, finding Myself." And this is such a rich story because it tells a very humanistic story of a boy who grows up in a relationship very distant from his father, falls on hard times, and comes to reconcile much of that relationship with his father, even if much of that reconciliation is internal. Because it is a memoir there are nuggets of truth to digest all through out the book. You learn about family, alcholism (which Andrew Sheehan struggled with tremendously), you learn about New England, and you learn about running (Andrew's father Dr. George Sheehan really created the concept of running as a sport and is created with the old-school New York Times Best Seller Running and Being).

This is an awesome story, and because it is a memoir I read it differently, looking for common relatable experience and to learn about life. I'm not looking for literature devices such as foreshadowing and character arches, I'm looking for truth. And with such feelings it is sad to me that a largely embelished story as James Frey has written could be labeled and marketed as a true story.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Religious Film Festival Experience

Tonight I had a very unique experience as I attended at religious film festival at a good-sized local church in my community. This church was hosting a two day festival where participants could attend a free screening of various films over a two day period which would be followed by facilitated religious discussion.

I attended with a group of friends on the first evening where we screened the film The Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino, pictured left. (The other films available for viewing this first night were Saving Private Ryan, Million Dollar Baby, Millions, Because of Winn-Dixie, and Billy Elliot) The movie was enjoyable, but I was going with my eyes analyzing how a religious-based film festival of this nature might look like, as I have thought before what it might look like to plan an event of this nature.

After myself and group of friends screened the film, and stuck around for the discussion we headed to a local coffee shop for further discussion of the film and the experience we had.

I think it is very positive to look at things and allow ourselves to connect religious understanding to things around us. I often watch a movie or read a book and the scene or dialogue conjures a thought that correlates to some understanding of mine of God or spiritual things. These lessons are often profitable for teaching and creating concrete images to help understand abstract things. The interesting thing is that two people with two drastically different beliefs can watch the same film and walk away seeing how their religion and world understanding is represented in the film that they are watching. This can be a challenge as I discovered because many people in the screening of the film were pointing out thoughts from the film that I did not agree with. And while these were sometimes interesting to here, they were often distracting from the points that I thought were important. But I sat and listened all the same.

Also, there is a unique issue, in that as people are drawing forth different thoughts, many people begin to use the film as the spring board for why there thoughts and individual beliefs are validated. I personally feel like your truth should be measured against the Bible, not against a film, rather the film is just a concrete example. (Otherwise lets call our beliefs doctrines of Shakespeareanism or Spielbergism if we are going to view these films as truth, not just stories). This led to a discussion on the value of "situational ethics" over following the letter of the law, and other such things that I thought were not necessarily valid theological positions.

This film is a challenging one as well to bring towards having a focused religious-themed conversation. It is not because the movie is not rich with religious implications and themes, but rather it is almost too full. Shakespeare is complicated and lends itself well to discussion, but following the film, the conversation often lent itself to literary discussion over religious discussion. (What is the symbolism of rings in this movie? Who are the men on the boats at the end? Why did the director include this? Were there Jews in England when Shakespeare wrote this play? etc.)

If you (or I) were planning a film festival, I think it would be important to be very cautious with your choice of film in terms of how long it lasts and when you are starting. Some people in our group were antsy from sitting for a little over two hours, and they were not in the mood to sit through a religious conversation...I can't imagine what it would feel like to sit through some of the longer movies that were screening over the course of the weekend.

After we left the church our group of film attendees went to a local coffee shop and we snagged some coffee. The religious discussion of the film was much richer and deeper. 8 people can discuss a film together far better than a group of 50. The conversation is more unified, focused and people get a better chance to speak as well as listen, also side conversations are more appropriate.

I think facilitation of conversations with a larger group is a great challenge. I thought that the man who led our session did an okay job leading our session, but there was one thing that really stood out as a great idea. He brought with him a simple handout that had the names of the characters with brief descriptions and a list of seven or so ideas for discussion after the movie. Having the list of characters, especially for this film was very helpful in giving us names with which everyone could comfortably dialogue about (there was no discussion after the movie of "which one was Jessica?" or "The man with the funny hair was a good guy," etc...because we knew there names and a little about them). Also the discussions were a good way to provide breadth to the conversation (although the group size, group dynamics, and time spent discussing gave very little depth).

I am very glad I went because I think I learned a lot about what it is like to do this type of event, and perhaps think about some ways movies can be effective in leading spiritual discussions but also some challenges that are bound to make the time less productive than one may wish Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 27, 2006

My Official Academy Award Nomination Predictions

These are my official academy award predictions. Academy Awards are scheduled to be announced January 31st. I will update with a performance summary and maybe some of my thoughts this week (especially if you have thoughts of your own or a question. The top nomination prediction is also the one that I predict right now to win the big prize. Doing this took a lot of time, so I'd love your thoughts.)

Best Picture

Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck
Crash
Capote
Walk the Line

runners up: King Kong, The Constant Gardener, Munich

Actor

Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Jaoquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
David Straithairn, Good Night, and Good Luck
Russel Crowe, Cinderella Man

runners up: Terrance Howard (Hustle & Flow), Jeff Daniels (the Squid and the Whale)

Actress

Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
Judi Dench, Miss Henderson Presents
Charlize Theron, North Country
Ziyi Zhang, Memoirs of a Geisha

runners up: Laura Linney (the Squid and the Whale), Joan Allen (the Upside of Anger)

Supporting Actor


Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
George Clooney, Syriana
Matt Dillon, Crash
Jake Gylenthall, Brokeback Mountain
William Hurt, A History of Violence

runners up: Don Cheadle (Crash), Terrance Howard (Crash)

Supporting Actress

Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain
Maria Bello, A History of Violence
Amy Adams, Junebug
Frances McDormand, North Country

runners up: Catherine Keener (Capote), Scarlett Johanasson (Match Point)

Director

Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck
Paul Haggis, Crash
Steven Speilburg, Munich
Fernando Mierlles, The Constant Gardener

runners up: Bennett Miller, Capote; David Cronenburg, A History of Violence; James Mangold, Walk the Line; Peter Jackson, King Kong

Original Screenplay:

Good Night, and Good Luck
Crash
The Squid and the Whale
Match Point
Cinderella Man

runners up: The 40 year-old Virgin, Hustle & Flow

Adapted Screenplay:

Brokeback Mountain
Capote
Munich
Walk the Line
The Constant Gardener

runners up: Syriana, A History of Violence, Memoirs of a Geisha

Original Score:

Memoirs of a Geisha (John Williams)
Brokeback Mountain (Santaolla)
Munich (John Williams)
King Kong (James Newton Howard)
Cinderella Man (Thomas Newman)

runners up: The New World (James Horner), Chronicles of Narnia (Gregson-Williams)

Original Song:

Travelin' Thru, Transamerica
Same In Any Language, Elizabeth Town
There's Nothing Like a Show on Broadway, The Producers
Can't Take it In, Chronicles of Narnia
Hustle & Flow (It Ain't Over), Hustle & Flow

runners up: One Little Slip, Chicken Little; It's Hard out there for A Pimp, Hustle & Flow

Animated Feature:

Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Madagascar
Howl's Moving Castle

runners up: Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, Chicken Little

Cinemotography:

Good Night, and Good Luck
Brokeback Mountain
Memoirs of a Geisha
King Kong
Munich

runners up: The New World, The Chronicles of Narnia

Film Editing:

Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck
Walk the Line
King Kong
Munich

runners up: Batman Begins, Syriana

Art Direction/Set Direction:

King Kong
Chronicles of Narnia
Good Night, and Good Luck
Memoirs of Geisha
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

runners up: Brokeback Mountain, Munich

Costume Design:

Memoirs of a Geisha
Pride & Predjudice
King Kong
Chronicles of Narnia
Walk the Line

runners up: The New World, The White Contess

Make Up:

Chronicles of Narnia
Star Wars: Episode III
Mrs. Henderson Presents

runner up: The New World, Cinderella Man

Sound:

King Kong
Walk the Line
Munich
Star Wars: Episode III
War of the Worlds

runners up: Good Night and Good Luck, Chronicles of Narnia

Sound Editing:

King Kong
Star Wars: Episode III
War of the Worlds

runners up: Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Visual Effects:

King Kong
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Star Wars: Episode III

runners up: Batman Begins, Chronicles of Narnia

Foreign Film:

Paradise Now - Palestine
Tsotsi - South Africa
Sophie Schrolls: The Final Days - Germany
The Promise - China
So Close, So Far - Iran

runners up: Requim for Snow, Iraq; Al Otro Lado, Mexico

Documentary:

March of the Penguins
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Murderball
Mad Hot Ballroom
Favela Rising

runners up: Rize, Darwin's Nightmare

Documentary Short Subject:

God Lives in Rwanda
Abused
A Note of Triumph

runners up: Dimmer, The Mushroom Club

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Trying to Understand Disdain for America

In a Spanish class I teach students began discussing on their own initiation why citizens of other countries didn't care for the United States. The discussion got heated and I encouraged them to write on a note card an answer to the question: "Why do citizens of other countries hate the United States and Americans?"

Here were there answers (I have left the answers with their grammar, wordings, & misspellings):

  • "People hate America because we in other countrys affairs" - Garrett, 17
  • "because of Ego" - Eric, 16
  • "Their jelous of our opportunitys, how we have a gov't, our freedom to do almost anything, how we can choose what we want to do. The only reason another country should/could be mad at America is us not discussing with allies more about invading Iraq. Which in my opinion was and is the RIGHT thing to do. Freedom of religion, voting, running for elections are all good things they don't have." -Nash, 16
  • "WALMART & STARBUCKS" - Timothy, 16
  • "Imperialistic foreign policies. Americans tend to think we are supperior. We are to quick to use violence. Religion is different." -Ross, 17
  • "I think other countries dislike america because we are spoiled with technology and have a large ego." -Tim, 17
There was two girls in the class, both of them said they didn't care.

Further thoughts on Kanye West as Jesus

So I've been thinking about how I feel about the rolling stones cover due out tomorrow with Kanye West posing as Jesus...

First off, I think that West is totally one of those celebrities who will probably make a name for himself out of his controversy. This is not unique. Think of someone like Madonna...Madonna has a lot of talent as a musician (especially in her ability to transcend and adapt to current trends)...or there's people like Dennis Rodman...come on, he was frequently more controversy than Basketball.

And so I think we'll hear more from West, as a musician, and as one we can expect to stir things up on a regular basis...

But the 2nd question is whether this act of posing like Jesus goes to far. And as I think about this, I realize that the reason this is more justifily offensive is because it defames and mocks God. It's not that he made himself look like Christ (no one seemed to complain too much about James Caviezel portraying himself as Christ in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ), it's that West thinks that he IS Christ. It is his pride and arrogance that is offensive and that he takes the death of God's son as a symbol of his greatness.

In doing so, this is wrong also in the way that it defrauds Jesus of his name. It is wrong in the same way that people misuse God's name on a daily basis. But you don't hear people in a daily uproar over people throwing around the name of God and Jesus like it was a hot potato. Or how about when people were T-shirts that say "Jesus is my homeboy." Is it any different? Or how about when people were Ashton Kutcher style trucker hats that say "Truckin' for Jesus?" Are these words and symbols any less offensive? I don't think so.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Kanye West just doing his thing


Talented, yet very controversial music artists, Kanye West will turn heads this Friday when the newest edition of Rolling Stones comes out this Friday. The cover portrays West as Jesus with a bloody crown of thorns around his head.

West loves controversy, and in an Entertainment Tonight article he tells them:
"I'm the most controversial artist this year," Kanye tells ET, adding, just to
clarify, "I'm saying that as an observation, not as a stunt; from the outside
looking in, you know?"

West has been known for his controversy when he complained about Bush during the Katrina relief efforts (included in his over-a-minute rant he said: "George Bush doesn't care about Black people"). Another example of West's controversy creating was during Live 8 in Philadelphia he claimed that AIDS was a man-made disease introduced to Africa by the American government.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Soderberg's Stirring Up Some "Bubble" Trouble

"Man I just saw the coolest new movie at the theater, I've got to tell you about it?"
"Oh yea, we just rented a movie that was awesome too, It was so interesting? But what did you see?"
"A new movie called Bubble. What did you rent?"
"You saw Bubble at the theater? We just rented Bubble at Blockbuster...i don't get it?"

Steven Soderberg, academy award director of Traffic (2000) , Erin Brokovich (2000), Oceans 11 (2001) among many, many other films has directed & produced a new movie called Bubble.

Well he did more than Produce it and Direct it...he also shot the picture (under the name Peter Andrews) and edited it (under the name Mary Ann Bernard).

This new movie is a mystery that takes place in a small town in Ohio and the movie is cast completly with locals (there's no George Clooney or Julia Roberts in this film).

On January 27th the movie comes out in theaters as well as will be available on the high-definition TV channel HDnet. Then 4 days later on January 31st the movie will be released on DVD for rental. What's the deal and who in the world is behind this madness...

Well it's Soderberg's doing in conjunction with Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner (Cuban & Wagner with there company HDnet, Landmark Theaters, Magnolia Pictures and 2727 Entertainment), and the reasons people site range from trying to give power to the art film, cut cost, and make a statement to the large theater companies.

Todd Wagner in an article on news.com says:
"This way we can cut through the clutter once, spend the money once and allow
people to buy it however they want to consume it, whenever they want to watch
it," Wagner said. "Imagine that, literally listening to consumers."

But the movie looks intriguing and it will be interesting to see what type of splash a movie like this might make?

(The picture above is a still from the movie, as a large part of the movie, shot in three weeks, takes place in a doll factory).

Monday, January 23, 2006

Monica Pang (Miss Georgia) is my friend!


Monica Pang, the runner up in Saturday Night's Miss America pagent has accepted me as my friend. Still no word back from Jennifer Berry, the crowned Miss America from University of Oklahoma.

So until then, Monica Pang, Miss Georgia, is the real Miss America too me.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Bill O'Reilly a bum? Like he even knows.

Did you know that Bill O'Reilly is just a regular every-day guy making no more than the little guy?

At least for some reason, he wants us to believe that he is just a humble member of the middle class.

I was unaware of this, but according to Bill O'Reilly's show, The Factor, Howard Stern is the highest-paid entertainer in American History. (Which is very surprising to me to be honest, not that I disbelieve his popularity, but it seems like some other stars would make more than him).

And in the third part of a three part interview with Howard Stern on The Factor, minor conflict occurs when Bill and Howard clash over the standard of living that people with money should have...

Here's a transcript of how some of that conversation from Wednesday December 14th, went (following a conversation about Howard Sterns Playboy subscription he had at 13)...

O'REILLY: Now, you are a wealthy guy, now and you have a house in the Hamptons, and you go to Nobu and all these swell places. What's that about? I don't do that.
STERN: What, sure you do.
O'REILLY: No, I don't.
STERN: What do you do? You don't have a nice house now?
O'REILLY: I have an OK house, but it's nothing like yours.
STERN: You don't talk about — I live in an apartment in Manhattan.
O'REILLY: Oh, come on. An apartment. You live in a big high-rise. It's...
(CROSSTALK)
O'REILLY: I live in a nice house but it's a regular house.
STERN: You don't have a nice house?
O'REILLY: I have regular house.
STERN: You're going to paint yourself as some bum.
O'REILLY: My car's five years old. I live in a regular house. You're living large.
STERN: What's wrong with that?
O'REILLY: I didn't say anything was wrong with it. How do you feel about it?
STERN: Here's my problem with my lifestyle. I'm one
of these guys who works so hard that I don't really have the great lifestyle you
might imagine. I go to bed at 8:00 every night. So I don't go out during the
week at all. We cook at home and we eat and we go to bed. Friday and Saturday
night, no matter how broke I was — I made $96.00 a week for a real long time, I
would always find a place to go, whether is was McDonald's or Nobu. It depends
on what you can afford.
O'REILLY: But now you're going to Nobu with the swells.
STERN: Yeah, but that doesn't make a difference to me.
O'REILLY: Do you like to hang out with these pinhead movie stars? I mean, do you like these people?
STERN: There's some movie stars that I've met that have been
tremendously nice people. I don't have celebrity friends. It's not by choice. I
don't have any friends.



Well so this is just a rediculous clash between two celebrities with unique shows geared towards totally different audiences.

Well...then someone at the New York Times heard this and decided to be a little bit of a whistle blower. This is was written in an article in the NY Times:

Last month, BILL O'REILLY interviewed HOWARD STERN on "The O'Reilly
Factor" (or "The Factor," as Mr. O'Reilly likes to call it; and from now on we
would like to be known as " 'Face").

"Now, you are a wealthy guy now," Mr. O'Reilly said, according to the transcript, "and you have a house in the Hamptons and you go to Nobu and all these swell places. What's that about? I don't do that."

Mr. Stern countered that Mr. O'Reilly certainly did do those sorts of things, which Mr. O'Reilly again denied.

Though Mr. O'Reilly said he wasn't saying there was anything wrong with "going to Nobu with the swells," it certainly sounded like disapproval to our unfair and unbalanced ears.

In any event, on Tuesday night, WILLIAM McGOWAN, the veteran news correspondent, was celebrating the birth of Clarity Media Group, a company that coaches TV personalities. The party was in a side room at Per Se, a little joint in the Time Warner Center where you can get a great nine-course meal for just over $200, and it is already too late to get reservations, though you can try to squeeze in your grandchildren.

Well, look who could be seen towering over the party in the corner, sampling some of the delectable hors d'oeuvres!

Mr. O'Reilly was not speaking to the print media, we were told, as he did not think
there was any way he could come out ahead. So there it was.

Oh, he left with a goody bag.

And So On Thursday January 19th O'Reilly responded to this on air in a very whimpy way saying that he was very disappointed with the NY Times because he only attended the posh event because he and William McGowan had been a friend for over 20 years. O'Reilly claimed that this just further proved that the NY Times was a liberal paper that was getting worse and worse.

Now that's a whimpy & pathetic response. He got called out!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Will Miss America Be My Friend?

Jennifer Berry, 22 University of Oklahoma student was crowned Miss America tonight.

And so, I had this thought... most college students across America are members of the online community called "facebook" that allows you to have your own personal page listing your personal hobbies and affiliations. In addition, facebook allows you to designate people as friends through a process of requesting them to be your friend. Upon confirmation they're friendship with you is listed on both of your personal pages (which others can view).

So my top secret challenge this evening is to see if Jennifer Berry, the newly crowned Miss America will be my friend.

On Facebook there are only 29 Jennifer Berry's and only one of those is at the University of Oklahoma. (The picture of her from facebook is to the right).

I will let you know if Jennifer accepts me as her friend (I have also sent her a message through facebook congratulating her.

But in case she doesn't accept me as her friend, you always need a back-up right? Or in this case how about a first-runner-up? That's why I couldn't help but request Monica Pang, alumni from UGA and Miss Georgia to see if she might be my friend. (Her picture from facebook can be seen left).

Friday, January 20, 2006

Prince Caspian Seems to Be Confirmed as a Narnia Go

An article from filmforce.ign.com said in October that writers were hired to write a screenplay for Prince Caspian as the follow-up to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (Prince Caspian is actually the 4th book in the Narnia series...but it has the four Pevensies, Lucy, Edmond, Susan & Peter, in the story...none of which are in the 1st and 3rd book) Apparently, according to NarniaWeb the writer is supposed to be Douglas Gresham (a co-producer of Lion, Witch, Wardrobe and the voice of the radio announcer, and the step son of C.S. Lewis & Joy Gresham).

But...according the article from ign.com it said that Disney wanted to wait until they were able to see whether The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was successful.

Well, that was in October, so since December when the movie came out it's obviously been successful. (According to boxofficemojo the film in its 41st day over 265 million dollars in the US, and a combined 530 million dollars world-wide SO FAR).

Walden Medio CEO Cary Granat said in a January 9th, 2006 article in Variety that the script is still underway, and that they are in the process of securing a director and that production is slated to be started in the 4th quarter of 2006.

Well, according to a brief in the online newspaper The Guardian, Andrew Adamson (director of Shrek, Shrek 2, and Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe) will return to direct Prince Caspian. Which seems like simply great news for Narnia fans and gives further hope to this movie becoming a reality.

"Rize" & "Mad Hot Ballroom"

Two great documentaries came out this past year (2005) that are similar, while at the same time completly different.

Rize directed by famous photographer David LaChapelle tells the story of the dancing of the South Central area of Los Angeles. The movie tells the story behind the dance styles of Clowning and it's off shoot Krumping. The movie shows tons of the dancing and helps explain where this came from, how it adds value to the youth of a poor community protecting them largely from gangs and drugs.

Mad Hot Ballroom also involves dancing as well, but deals with 5th graders in New York Public Schools who take a a few months to learn classic dance styles like the Tango, Swing, etc. And then compete. Like Rize, the children are very poor and face rough life's where gangs and drugs are an obvious part of their culture. In Mad Hot Ballroom the kids also discuss issues of their future, and relationships with the opposite gender.

Both these movies show how dancing can be a very positive factor, and I think more than anything the kids in the impoverished area find value in life in being a part of something, whether that is the elementary dance competition (which is amazing) or if they're learning movies at Tommy the Clowns hip hop studio.

I loved both these movies, there both sad & moving, there both also encouraging and help give a perspective and create high energy emotion as you get a window into some crazy worlds we know nothing about.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Flags of Our Fathers

So maybe the 2005 film scene was less than exciting...even the summer seemed weak (yea, I liked Crash and Cinderella Man...but this is really exciting)

Clint Eastwood is releasing a new movie (in fact pair of movies) that with the Eastwood finesse seem really really exciting.

The movie is called Flags of Our Fathers. This movie tells the story of the 6 marines who raised the American flag in during WWII on the island of Iwo Jima.

The movie is based on a book Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley. This novel/memoir is written by one of the sons of the 6 men who pieced together the story (as pieced together by talking to other children/grandchildren of these men) to tell the story of these mens lives.

The movie directed by Eastwood stars Ryan Phillipe, Jesse Bradford, Paul Walker, Jamie Bell, & Barry Pepper. The screenwriter of the movie is Paul Haggis (screenwriter of Million Dollar Baby and Crash)

Also...and to me this is very cool...this movie is just part 1...he is also set in March to be working on the companion film Red Sun, Black Sand which will tell the story from the Japanese perspective (Eastwood plans to shoot on the island of Iwo Jima and in USA today said "I'll be the only non-Japanese-speaking person within miles"). [USA Today article]

I just think it sounds like a really great project, very few movies tell the opposing sides story of war. (I always wished that the movie Pearl Harbor would have really told the story from the Japanese perspective as well and not just give us an American-White-Picket-Fence love story mess...oh well.)

Top 10: 2005 vs. 2004

I'm not saying 2005 films are worse then 2004 films...in fact there has been some really great films and surprises in 2005...

yet to me, there has been less "ba-bam" movies in 2005...movies that I can't imagine never being made. In fact, so far, I have not seen a single movie in 2005 I would deam a four-star movie.

Here's a fairly concrete 2004 top 10 along with the less invigerating 2005 top 10.

2004
1. Hotel Rwanda - ****
2. Finding Neverland - ***
3. The Motorcycle Diaries - ****
4. The Passion of Jesus Christ - ****
5. Million Dollar Baby - ***1/2
6. Ray - ***1/2
7. Maria Full of Grace - ***1/2
8. Before Sunset - ***1/2
9. Garden State - ***1/2
10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - ***1/2

2005
1. Good Night, and Good Luck - ***1/2
2. Capote - ***1/2
3. The Constant Gardener - ***1/2
4. King Kong - ***1/2
5. Pride and Predjudice - ***1/2
6. Walk the Line - ***1/2
7. Batman Begins - ***
8. Munich - ***
9. Fever Pitch - ***
10. Jarhead - ***

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

chewing gum is healthy?

Relating to Tootsie Rolls and other "treats"...

According to Wrigley, chewing gum is healthy!?!

Here are the "health benefits" listed: (for a further explination of these benefits check out there site at http://www.wrigley.com/wrigley/products/products_benefits.asp)

* Improves Concentration
* Eases Tension
* Freshens Breath
* Provides a Low-calorie Snack
* Helps Fight Tooth Decay

The moral of the story...buy yourself some Juicy Fruit...it's healthy!

Tootsie Roll Licks


For some reason the tootsie roll commercial that we all know and love came up in an earlier conversation today.

The idea of quanitativly figuring out licks is rediculous.

According to the tootsie roll website (http://www.tootsie.com/memoriesLicksMachine.html) there has been at least three studies done including 2 done by university engineering students.

Are engineer students at Purdue and the University of Michigan really bored or kind of stupid.

You can't quantitate licks because tongues would have different moistures, sizes, and pressure applied. Not to mention how do you determine the average length (in terms of time and distance) of a typical lick??

According to the studies the number of licks were 364, 252, 411, 144.

And you would think Jr. High students would have more licks then university students...but there study found only 144...either they're cheating and biting, poor counters, or fantastic lickers.

Under Your Skin

Of course the movie Brokeback Mountain is creating an outrage...it's critical success is enough to drive a lot of people crazy...even if you aren't offended by the homosexual content.

But of course, most people are...so I provide another piece of annoyance to the fuel of Brokeback Mountain disaproval.

Compare these two movie posters...do you see any similarities???

Post Secret

The other day I was exploring books on amazon.com and stumbled across the most interesting book. It is called PostSecret : Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives . This book is very interesting. People send an an annoymous post card to this address in Maryland. The post card is to be designed with a concise secret that no one else knows. They are then posted online or in this case, in the book.

This example is from the post secret website :


There are also a lot of unique examples at there site and on amazon.

This concept says a lot (although I don't really feel compelled to make a trite comment that would stand in contrast to the intriguing art and message that these post cards contain)

The Purpose

The purpose of this blog is for my own personal enjoyment. I'm not responsible for any enjoyment or entertainment you receive fromt his blog .

I am very interested in people because people are strange.

And if you put a lot of strange people together you get our world, a strange culture.

You may feel free to enjoy watching this strange culture through my lens...although if no one ever sees this blog, it's okay because it's for my enjoyment, and as soon as it's no fun for me I'll be done with it.
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