The 4th Annual “Countdown to the Oscars” – #WeAllDreamInGold

chris-rock-oscar-art

Welcome back to the Reel Countdown, movie fans! The stage is now set for my 4th annual “Countdown to the Oscars” blog, and I could not be more excited to share with each of you my take on the year in film from 2015. Now that the nominations have officially been announced by the Academy for the 88th Oscars (the full list of nominations is located at the bottom of this post), there are some major storylines. Will Leo finally receive his first Oscar? Can director Alejandro G. Iñárritu repeat for Best Director and/or Best Picture?

I will spend a bit of time seeing any last-minute movies that I need to before releasing any posts. Throughout the next six weeks, I will reveal a variety of such posts that will include both my “Top 15 Films of the Year” list and my own personal Oscars ballot for this year’s major categories. Last year I saw enough films to cast a ballot in 14 of 24 categories, but this year I hope to fill up the sheet on even more! Additionally, I will again be posting a review about the actual ceremony the day after the show.

2005 OscarsThis year, Chris Rock will be hosting the Oscars ceremony. The 50-year-old comedian/actor previously hosted the 77th Academy Awards in 2005. Chris Rock has long been one of the funniest people in Hollywood, and after a rather mediocre performance from last year’s host Neil Patrick Harris, I believe Rock will bring the boom back to the show! Much like during Ellen’s gold-standard hosting performance in 2014, I expect to be laughing throughout the broadcast.

This year, the Oscars will be broadcasted live from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on February 28th, 2016—that is just 45 days away!

To all of my returning readers, welcome back! To all of my new readers, thank you for joining me during my favorite time of the year! I truly appreciate each and every one of you that takes the time to make my blog part of your day during this awards season. Without further adieu, IT’S OSCAR TIME! #WeAllDreamInGold

88th Academy Awards Nominations

Best Picture

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)

Matt Damon (The Martian)

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)

Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett (Carol)

Brie Larson (Room)

Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)

Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale (The Big Short)

Tom Hardy (The Revenant)

Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

Rooney Mara (Carol)

Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Best Director

Adam McKay (The Big Short)

George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant)

Lenny Abrahamson (Room)

Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

Best Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out

Spotlight

Straight Outta Compton

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Big Short

Brooklyn

Carol

The Martian

Room

Best Animated Feature

Anomalisa

Boy and the World

Inside Out

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

Best Documentary Feature

Amy

Cartel Land

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Best Foreign Language Film

Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia)

Mustang (France)

Son of Saul (Hungary)

Theeb (Jordan)

A War (Denmark)

Best Original Score

Bridge of Spies

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Original Song

“Earned It” (Fifty Shades of Grey)

“Manta Ray” (Racing Extinction)

“Simple Song #3” (Youth)

“Til It Happens to You” (The Hunting Ground)

“Writing’s On the Wall” (Spectre)

Best Cinematography

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Sicario

Best Film Editing

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Production Design

Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Mad Max: Fury Road

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared

The Revenant

Best Costume Design

Carol

Cinderella

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Best Animated Short

Bear Story

Prologue

Sanjay’s Super Team

We Can’t Live without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow

Best Visual Effects

Ex Machina

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Editing

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Mixing

Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Documentary Short

Body Team 12

Chau, beyond the Lines

Claude Lanzmann: Specters of the Shoah

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

Last Day of Freedom

Best Live Action Short

Ave Maria

Day One

Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)

Shok

Stutterer

Countdown to the Oscars — Round Three!

Imagine What's Possible - Oscars

Welcome back to the red carpet, movie fans! The stage is now set for my 3rd annual “Countdown to the Oscars” blog!  Each year it gets more and more exciting to delve deep into the newest additions in film history, and again I am thrilled to get back to commentating on this year’s fantastic cinematic achievements.

Starting today and continuing right up until the ceremony, I will post regularly about the Oscars.  These posts will include both my “Top 15 Films of the Year” list and my own personal Oscars ballot for this year’s major categories (14 of the 24 categories, to be exact).  I will also again be posting a review about the actual ceremony in late February. In addition to these perennial posts, I will also include a new post—tomorrow morning I will release my “Top 3 Most Disappointing Films of the Year.”

NPH OscarsThis year, Neil Patrick Harris will be hosting the Oscars ceremony. NPH is a decently humorous actor, but in my opinion, he has some massively large shoes to fill. Last year, Ellen DeGeneres absolutely killed it, and I would have loved to see her return to the stage. DeGeneres’s performance last year garnered universal acclaim, provided a wealth of memorable moments, and even included a “celebrity selfie” that went on to become the most retweeted tweet of all time. Needless to say, NPH will have to elevate his game to meet the new “Ellen” standard. But ultimately I think he will come through—he is a veteran awards show host, with a résumé that includes hosting four Tony Awards and two Primetime Emmy Awards. I imagine his performance will include musical numbers, mirroring the performances of Billy Crystal and Hugh Jackman in their years as hosts; obviously, this is because NPH is a talented performer, adding a Tony in 2014 for his role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch to his long list of accolades.

This year, the Oscars will be broadcasted live from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on February 22nd, 2015—that is just 23 days away!!

Many thanks to all of you that are back again this year, and I look forward to any new readers—I really do appreciate the support.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show—it’s OSCAR TIME!

My Review of the 86th Academy Awards

Oscars Selfie

Well, this year’s Oscars have officially come and gone, and at this point, I am already excited for next year’s show.  But before I start preparing for another amazing year in film, I wanted to share my reactions of last night’s broadcast with all of you.  The Academy Awards has been known in the past to be utterly long and boring.  Although the show was still long (about 3 ½ hours), it was far from boring.  Ellen DeGeneres was an absolutely, hysterically entertaining host, and I would have zero problem if she was asked to host the show from here on out—her monologue this year was uproarious!  With the exception of only a couple, each of her jokes throughout the show were quite humorous and suitable for the Oscars, and even when she did toe the line of appropriateness, it still worked because it was done with Ellen’s trademark repartee.

This year’s Oscars had some tremendous moments, some not-so-tremendous moments, and some downright unforgettable moments, and I am pleased to share my reactions to all of the major highlights from a successful Academy Awards ceremony:

Best Moment: (12 Years A Slave wins Best Picture)

McQueen JumpingAs you all probably already know from my blog, 12 Years A Slave was by far my favorite film from 2013.  I have been hoping and praying that it would win Best Picture, and last night, it did!  In a night where Gravity took home seven Oscars, including Best Director for Alfonso Cuarón, it was gratifying that the Academy awarded its most prestigious honor to a film that I believe is one of the greatest of all time.  Both Brad Pitt and director Steve McQueen were graciously humble in accepting the award, and after the Academy flubbed last year by giving Argo the award, it was great to see them getting it right this time around. The best part of the acceptance speech, though, was when Steve McQueen began jumping around on stage in celebration of the victory.  Well deserved, Mr. McQueen.

Worst Moment: (John Travolta’s mispronunciation of Idina Menzel’s name)

Adele DazeemEvery presenter at the Oscars is presented with a guide to help them master the names of anyone they must introduce.  Despite this, Idina Menzel’s name is not all that hard to pronounce in the first place—it sounds just like it looks.  However, John Travolta found some way possible to dastardly butcher the Let It Go-singer’s name as she was introduced to perform.  His pronunciation for “Idina Menzel” was as follows: Adele Dah-zeem.  HUH????

Most Endearing Moment: (Acceptance Speech for The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life)

Clarke OscarsThe subject matter of this Short Documentary winner is Alice Herz-Sommer, the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor, and how music had given her optimism in life.  Ms. Herz-Sommer passed away at 110 years old, just one week ago.  While accepting the award, director Malcolm Clarke gave an undeniably endearing acceptance speech about this strong-willed, positive-minded woman and the impact she had on the entire filmmaking crew.  It was definitely a special moment last night.

Most Boring Moment (Bette Midler’s performance)

86th Annual Academy Awards - ShowLast year, my “Most Boring Moment” went to Barbara Streisand for her musical performance following the “In Memoriam” presentation.  Once again, this musical slot takes the cake for the most absolutely boring moment of the entire Academy Awards.  Bette Midler performed “Wind Beneath My Wings” following the “In Memoriam” slideshow, and it nearly put me to sleep.  For starters, Bette Midler simply does not have it anymore as a singer, at least not last night.  She was flat, unengaged, and dreadful, and the best part of her performance was when the music ended and she walked off of the stage.

WTF Moment: (Kim Novak presenting with Matthew McConaughey)

Kim NovakKim Novak is one of the most well known actresses of her generation, starring in incredible films like Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Joshua Logan’s Picnic.  Now, I understand Novak is in her early eighties, but her appearance last night was simply awkward in every sense of the word.  She rambled on and on in an extraordinarily incoherent manner, and she clearly was not on the same page with McConaughey; he had to continually pull her closer to the microphone, as well.  Also, when they attempted to announce the category for “Best Animated Short Film” in sync, it was a disaster—McConaughey said, “Best Animated Short Film,” while Novak said, “Best Short Animated Feature.”

Best Monologue Joke: (Poking fun at Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar “fall” last year)

J-Law TripsAs everyone may know, last year, while walking to the stage to accept the “Best Actress” award, Jennifer Lawrence tripped and fell (pictured on the right).  This year, while exiting her car for the Red Carpet, Lawrence again tripped and fell.  Ellen started the joke off by saying that she was not going to bring up either fall or poke fun because it is embarrassing when people bring those sorts of things up in public—she then went on to bring each of them up in greater detail, and it was hilarious.  The best part was when Ellen followed up by saying, “if you win tonight, I think we should bring you the Oscar.”  Jennifer Lawrence seemed to get a good kick out of it, and it was most definitely the funniest of Ellen’s many entertaining monologue jokes.

Worst Monologue Joke (the Liza Minnelli diss)

lizaLiza Minnelli was in attendance with her siblings to honor the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, a film their mother, Judy Garland, starred in.  Ellen’s worst joke came when she pointed out that one of the best Liza Minnelli impersonators she had ever seen was in attendance (referring to Minnelli herself).  Then Ellen said, “good job, sir.”  Liza Minnelli did NOT look impressed.

Best Ellen Moment of the Night: (Tie: Celebrity Selfie and Pizza Delivery)

Ellen definitely brought a hip new aspect to the Oscars, and the show’s entertainment value benefited significantly from this.  At one point in the show, Ellen rounded up some of Hollywood’s most famous movie stars (and Lupita Nyong’o’s brother) to tweet a selfie in an attempt to break the record for most retweets, which the picture did indeed accomplish.  Ellen PizzaLater in the show, Ellen had a few boxes of pizza delivered to the Dolby Theater, and she spent a few minutes passing out slices to everyone.  Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kevin Spacey, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Jared Leto, Harrison Ford, Kerry Washington, Martin Scorsese, and many others indulged in the Italian treat—Brad Pitt was actually extremely stoked for the occasion, loudly voicing to the pizza guy that he wanted pepperoni!  It was a hilarious interlude during the ceremony, and it was one that has never been seen before.

Best Acceptance Speech: (Lupita Nyong’o for Best Supporting Actress)

Lupita SpeechIn her film debut, Lupita Nyong’o won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role as Patsey in 12 Years A Slave.  She gracefully thanked the real-life Patsey and Solomon Northup for his amazing story.  She then, tearfully, thanked director Steve McQueen for the role, saying that being cast in this film was “the joy of [her] life.”  With every appreciative comment about the many people that helped her reach this milestone, she spoke kindly and eloquently, and her heartfelt acceptance speech was truly remarkable.

Best Musical Performance: (Pink singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”)

Pink OscarsDuring the Oscars, the Academy paid tribute to the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz,” and Pink performed a beautiful rendition of the infamous “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  Pink is by far one of the most talented singers in the music industry today, and her vocals were incredible during this cover of Judy Garland’s signature song.  If it were not for Pink’s amazing performance, this award would go to Pharrell Williams for his “Happy” routine earlier in the broadcast, but Pink’s breathtaking command of the stage during this earnest performance is absolutely undeniable.

Welcome Back: It’s OSCAR TIME!

Ellen

Hello, movie fans! And welcome back to my 2nd annual “Countdown to the Oscars” blog!  After a very successful campaign last year, I am more than excited to get back to work on commenting about the many wonderful films and performances from 2013.  This past year was a fantastic year for movies, and it is clearly evidenced in the fact that some of my favorite movies and acting performances were snubbed this year for the Oscars—this just means that we have a really, really competitive field this year in nearly every category, and each race is sure to be a showdown.

Starting today and continuing right up until the big day, I will once again be posting regularly about the Oscars.  These posts will include both my “Top 15 Films of the Year” list and my own personal Oscars ballot for this year’s major categories.  I will also be posting a review about the actual ceremony in March, and this year, I will follow that up with a preview of the films that are sure to make a big splash in 2014.  I am including a new feature on many of my posts this year—there will be a poll for all of my viewers to participate in, so make sure to take advantage of this to get involved this Oscars season.

Ellen DeGeneres will be hosting this year, and I could not be more excited.  Her daytime show is universally loved, and I look for her to translate that success to the Oscars from the moment she takes the stage.  This is Ellen’s second time hosting the Oscars, as she previously hosted the 79th Academy Awards in February 2007.  This year, the Oscars will be broadcasted live from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on March 2nd, 2014—that is just 23 days away!!

Thank you to all of you that are back again this year, and I look forward to any new viewers—I really do appreciate the support.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show—it’s OSCAR TIME!