Award shows are a total shitfest of idiocy and and I've never given them much credit for anything. Crap movies can win (and often do). Truly great movies get completely ignored (and often do). It's always been about which movies and TV shows can promote and buy their way into winning shit.
For years I tried to counter this by making my own Oscar picks, but even that seems senseless and stupid since I don't see every movie that ever comes out in a given year and many of the movies I love are never nominated. So I stopped. My annual year-end wrap-up of the favorite stuff I saw is good enough, and I don't give a shit about the Oscars enough to comment any more.
Last week my stance was totally vindicated when wwriter/director Eliza Hittman received an email from an Academy voter which told her that they would not be watching the screener for her film Never Rarely Sometimes Always because "As a Christian, the father of 8 children and 39 grandchildren, AND a pro-life advocate, they have ZERO interest in watching a woman cross state lines so someone can murder her unborn child. 75,000,000 of us recognize abortion for the atrocity it is. There is nothing heroic about a mother working so hard to kill her child. Think about it!" And its like... okay... but then you're not doing your job, asshole. Recuse yourself from voting AT. ALL. if you're not going to see every film in consideration. What's even more infuriating is that Never Rarely Sometimes Always tells the story of a woman WHO WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED trying to get an abortion. It's not like she's getting an abortion for fun and then celebrates it or some stupid shit.
And while I haven't watched the Oscars telecast in nearly a decade, I haven't watched The Golden Globes telecast ever. The closest I get is watching the opening or YouTube highlights when somebody I like is hosting. My position has always been "Who gives a fuck what the Hollywood Foreign Press thinks? Who the fuck ARE the Hollywood Foreign Press anyway?" I never cared enough to Google That Shit, so whatever. Apparently there's few to none Persons of Color in the Hollywood Foreign Press, which means that their voting is skewed, non-representational, and irrelevant anyway.
But I did read that Jason Sudekis won a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy or musical television series for his exceptional work in Ted Lasso.
Except not exactly.
What I actually read was that Jason Sudekis was high and wore a tie-dye hoodie when accpeting his award. Because of course that's what superficial news organizations looking for clicks is going to latch onto...
And my immediate reaction to this news was "Lord, who gives a fuck? If I had to participate in this bullshit in order to promote my work and try to get it seen, I would be high, AND NAKED, AND DRUNK! If anything this just made my opinion of Jason Sudekis jump several stories, because wearing a hoodie instead of a tuxedo reflects exactly the amount of respect these awards deserve.
Ted Lasso was the best show of 2020 or any other year, so I'm glad that these stupid-as-shit award shows with their non-representational voters at least managed to see that much.
Or maybe they didn't bother to watch the show at all, but instead picked him to win because he wasn't Black like Don Cheadle, Jewish like Eugene Levy, Muslim like Ramy Youssef, or joked about being in a gay relationship like Nicholas Hoult. Which seems about white.
Don't let Oscar-mania get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Oscar! I stopped watching the Oscars and other award shows years ago. The movies I like best rarely win anything and, given how little weight awards seem to carry in casting, it seems like pointless endeavor anyway. Just an excuse for Hollywood to congratulate itself in a pricey spectacle that seems to award based on factors outside of actual talent. Suffice to say I want Black Panther to win as many awards as possible (even though it will be passed over for Best Picture by The Favourite or (more likely) yet another white savior tale with Green Book. I am also pulling for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to win for Best Animated Feature. Other than that? =yawn=.
• WAKANDA FOREVER! One bit I did see from The Oscars was this hilarious intro of Black Panther by Trevor Noah...
But it gets better. Not soon after the video was posted, I ran across this...
Xhosa is a fascinating language. And every time I hear it, I think of this video I saw years ago which attempts to explain the sounds...
Things like this makes me love this planet. How exciting is it that there's so much incredible diversity out there waiting to be discovered?
• Whiskey! While I did not watch The Oscars, I most certainly watched Whiskey Cavalier which followed The Oscars...
I was not disappointed. It's kinda a James-Bond-ish spy show with some humor and a darn good cast. Time will tell if they fall into the trap of having to two lead characters fall in love (which is always when things go terribly, terribly wrong). Hopefully if they do jump that shark, it will happen later rather than sooner, because I'd like to enjoy it for a while longer.
• Oh Captain! While I am absolutely dying to see Avengers: Endgame on April 26th, I think I'm even more excited for Captain Marvel to be released next month. Everything about it looks amazing, and the fact that Carol Danvers will play a big part in Endgame is interesting to me. And speaking of Captain Marvel... I really wanted the original one-sheet movie poster that was released, but couldn't find it available for a sane price anywhere. It was Wonder Woman all over again, where I wanted the gorgeous pre-release poster but could only find it second-market for obscene amounts of money. I think they were under printed because "women super-heroes won't sell," which is really a shame. But then I was looking to see if there were any pre-orders available for Spider-Man: Far From Home when I saw that both posters had gotten a second printing! Sweet! Now they're both hanging in my upstairs hallway where they belong...
Such amazing colors in both of them! So happy that they were reprinted at something I could afford.
• Curiosity! The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity were incredible feats of engineering that exceeded their projected lifespan or two years by quite a wide margin. Spirit ran for 6 years and traveled nearly 5 miles. Opportunity ran for 14 years and traveled nearly 28 miles. And then there's Curiosity, which landed in August 2012 and is still running. Or so NASA thinks. On its most recent reboot, the poor thing went into an unexpected "safe mode" and engineers had to get that straightened out...
Personally? I think it was a moment of silence to honor the end of Opportunity's mission, which NASA called on February 12th after it had gone silent since June 10th last year. Great job, buddy. Hopefully humans will get to visit you one day.
• Pika! I've never been into Pokémon that much (despite enjoying Pokémon Let's Go on the Switch), but I gotta say... I'm looking forward to Detective Pikachu on May 10th...
Probably because they gave him Ryan Reynold's voice and rendered all the Pokémon so brilliantly. One more interesting-looking movies in a string of interesting-looking movies for 2019. With some exceptions, of course...
Absolutely no idea how Disney's Aladdin is going to pan out. By and large I haven't been enjoying the live-action remakes that much, but this one looks like the diciest translation yet.
And the award for best bullets goes to...
There's some irony that my copy of the Kickstarter-backed book project I wonder what it's like to be dyslexic shows up the day after John Travolta transformed "Idina Menzel" into "Adele Dazeem" while introducing the singer at the Oscars.
I, for one, don't know whether or not John Travolta has dyslexia. It doesn't show up in his Wikipedia profile, and a cursory Google search doesn't reveal an interview where he discusses it. When people talk about John Travolta having dyslexia, I think they are confusing him with fellow Scientologist Tom Cruise, who has stated that Scientology helped him to overcome his dyslexia. Honest mistake, I guess.
However... as somebody who lives with a mild form of dyslexia, I can say that mangling "Idina Menzel" into "Adele Dazeem" certainly feels like something which can be attributed to dyslexia. But not everybody with dyslexia experiences it the same way, so the only person who can say for sure whether it was a factor is... John Travolta.
All I can do is speculate based on my experience, which would go something like this...
For the most part, seeing words as being made up of letters is not how I read. The Roman alphabet upon which English writing is based has letterforms that easily transform or flipped around when viewed individually. Thus my mind can play havoc with "p" and "q" and "d" and "b"... all of which can be mistaken for each other. And that's just the beginning. English has numerous complexities that make understanding words from letters no easy chore.
Nope. How I seem to read is to recognize words by their shape... as most people do, to a certain extent. But since I ignore the letters, which can be confusing, the shape alone is critical to comprehension. Which is why there are many factors that lead to how easily and how quickly I can absorb something. The contrast between letter color and the background color... the size of the text... how far apart the letters are... how wide the letters are... how tired I am... etc. etc. etc. But the biggest factor by far? The typeface (or font) used. If things get too fancy or deviate too far from the standard letterforms I read 96% of the time, my reading speed takes a dive and things get a bit difficult...
As illustrated above, cursive fonts are the worst. Unlike "standard" serif and sans-serif fonts which maintain a distinct shape... cursive writing just degenerate into a mess of lines to me. There's no "form" for me to pull out of the words, so I have to struggle through the actual letters to try and figure out what I'm reading. As you can imagine, things like wedding invitations, fancy poetry journals, and the like can be a real bitch.
Which brings us to Adele Dazeem.
Reading by shape pretty much requires that most of the words you're reading are words you're familiar with and can recognize.
"Idina" and "Menzel" are not such words. Beautiful as it is, John Smith it ain't. Enter the dyslexic swapity-do, where syllables get shuffled in your head as you strugle to make sense of the letters and what they're spelling to you...
Now, I'm not making excuses here. I don't even know for sure if Travolta is dyslexic. If he is though... the pressure of presenting an unfamiliar and difficult name live in front of a bazillion Oscar viewers is going to be rough-going no matter how much you've prepared. Even if he memorized the intro, it's not a guarantee of success when words are a struggle for you. All I can say for sure is this: If John Travolta is dyslexic, I very much admire the guts it takes to put yourself in a high-pressure situation (like live television) where words are involved.
And while I think it's a bit harsh to make fun of someone who is challenged with something as fundamental as reading... having a sense of humor over stuff like this is kinda essential.
Thus I, Dawid Shunter, give you... The Adele Dazeem Name Generator!
Here's hoping your Monday was better than John Travolta's.
Unless you ARE John Travolta, in which case... I LOVED YOU IN PULP FICTION!
The Oscars are on Sunday. Here are my picks.
BEST PICTURE: My pick is Django Unchained, which I enjoyed more than all the other films combined (excluding Beasts of the Southern Wild and Les Misérables, neither of which I wanted to see). It won't win, of course, but it completely deserves to (like Inglourious Basterds before it).
BEST ANIMATED PICTURE: Heaven only knows that I wanted Pixar's Brave to blow me away... but, while it was jaw-dropping beautiful to look at, the story just didn't measure up. ParaNorman, Wreck-It Ralph, and The Pirates! Band of Misfits were all good films, but it's Frankenweenie that was my favorite.
BEST SHORT FILM: John Kahrs' Paperman is haunting and beautiful and has Disney magic all over it. The other nominations are great, sure, but Paperman is genius.
BEST DIRECTOR: Ang Lee's absolutely masterful handling of Life of Pi makes him my clear favorite. But who doesn't think Spielberg will take it for Lincoln? But the bigger question... how in the heck did Quentin Tarantino get overlooked for Django Unchained?
BEST ACTOR: While I thought Bradley Coooper gave a winning performance, it's pretty hard not to pick Daniel Day-Lewis for his amazing turn as Lincoln.
BEST ACTRESS: This was a toughie, but I give the nod to Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook. She just seemed more necessary to the success of her film.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Yeah, Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln with Christoph Waltz a close second for Django Unchained.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Hated The Master so Amy Adams is out. Didn't think Sally Field disappeared into her role enough in Lincoln. Refused to watch Les Misérables for Anne Hathaway. Thought Helen Hunt was "okay" in The Sessions, but not remarkable. So I guess that leaves Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook... although Anne Hathaway is almost certain to take it.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: The easy choice would be Life of Pi, but I think too much of what made it cinematically amazing was the special effects. Django Unchained would be a solid choice, but I'm going to have to go with Roger Deakins for Skyfall. A big part of what made it such a good film was the stunning cinematography, and the film is definitely Oscar-worthy.
BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS: For all the reasons I think Life of Pi should not get "Best Cinematography," I think it probably deserves the Oscar for "Best Special Effects." That being said, the incredible visuals of The Battle for New York in The Avengers (not to mention the hundreds of other effects plus Hulk and Iron Man) make me wish a tie could happen here.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: I'm not a fan of Adele's music, but have always liked her as a person in interviews and stuff. And yet... Skyfall was about as good a theme as James Bond movies get, and Adele blew the doors off it.
BEST WRITING, ORIGINAL: I have gone round and round on this, trying to decide between Django Unchained and Moonrise Kingdom, and can't decide. I would be equally thrilled if either won, though Zero Dark Thirty probably has the edge.
BEST WRITING, ADAPTED: Just about everyone (including me) thought that Life of Pi was unfilmable... and yet, here it is. It would be hard not to reward that ingenuity.
Don't touch that mouse, Bullet Sunday starts... now.
• Higgs Boson. For science geeks like myself, Saturday was kind of a special day, as we were granted an audience with Professor Peter Higgs via a rare interview in The Scotsman. Fresh off of winning the Edinburgh Award, he made the bold prediction that the stupidly nicknamed "God Particle" that bears his name will finally be found this summer after 48 years. Bring on the Nobel Prize.
• Joke. Really? Attacking President Kennedy now? I gotta hand it to Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum, he's got balls the size of watermelons to be trash-talking one of this country's most beloved presidents. Especially when Santorum is so petty and insignificant in the grand scheme of things...
Santorum's tiny, insignificant, flea-like body from Ambro
How embarrassing. At some point even the craziest of crazies who are supporting this moron are going to wake up and say "What the fuck?!?"
• Astronomical. Apparently there was a spectacular alignment of planets happening in the heavens this weekend. Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon are all lining up to some kind of cool visual. I wouldn't know, of course, as the sky was totally overcast...
I swear, no astronomical events ever happen here. I get screwed by the weather every time.
• Finally. One of my favorite actors ever, James Earl Jones, was finally given his due with a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award...
Photo from Luke Macgregor/Reuters
Can you imagine any of his movie appearances with somebody else in the role? Field of Dreams? The Lion King? Sneakers? The voice of CNN? THE VOICE OF DARTH VADER?!? No. No you can't. He's and incredible talent, and seeing him get an Oscar makes the award almost relevant again.
• Oscar. I am not a fan of the Academy Awards. They so rarely get it right when it comes to those deserving of a win. Case in point?
Captain America: The First Avenger — Best Picture.
Robert Downey Jr — Best Actor for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
David Fincher — Best Director for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Stanley Tucci — Best Supporting Actor for Captain America: The First Avenger.
Meryl Streep — Best Actress for The Iron Lady.
Jennifer Aniston — Best Supporting Actress for Horrible Bosses.
And how many of those trophies were correctly awarded? One. Congratulations Meryl. You're amazing as always.
And now... I've got to pack a suitcase...
Welcome to a fabulous OSCARS EDITION of Bullet Sunday!
• Intro! This new tradition of inserting Oscar hosts into scenes from the nominated films just keeps getting better and better. Using technology from Inception, James Franco and Anne Hathaway go into the mind of former Oscar host Alec Baldwin to learn the secrets of hosting the show. The fact that they managed to work in Back to the Future at the end was just the icing on the cake...
Oscar telecast ©2011 by ABC Television
• The Winners! Not surprisingly, there were a few awards passed out that I felt could have gone elsewhere, but overall I was happy with the winners. Here's my break-down...
• Wrap-Up! Though James Franco faltered a bit at times, overall he and Anne Hathaway did a surprisingly good job hosting the show. The musical performances were mercifully short and half-way decent (including Gwyneth Paltrow, who I thought did a pretty good job considering she's not a professional singer... it was crazy seeing all the online haters unload on her while she performed). I also thought the presentations went very well. It will be interesting to see who hosts next year.
Annnnd... I've got a long day ahead of me tomorrow, so I guess that's all she wrote. See you at the movies.
I can't help myself. I love Crasher Squirrel!
I don't understand why somebody hasn't him to a picture development deal... he's Oscar gold!
Blergh. Muh head is assploding on Buwett Swunday! Sinus infections suck.
• Oscar. Look, I liked The Hurt Locker as much as anybody (I saw it twice in theaters and bought the Blu-Ray), but winning Best Original Screenplay over Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds? What the hell? I can see The Hurt Locker taking Best Picture over Basterds, I'm right there with that... but Screenplay?? Seriously? It's things like this that makes me want to swear off ever watching the Academy Awards each year.
• Can't. I have had at least a dozen people tell me that I need to see The Cove which just won Best Documentary. I love films of all kinds and am a huge fan of documentaries, but I cannot watch anything where dolphins are slaughtered. That's a weakness I'm perfectly willing to live with...
• Strange. Katheryn Bigelow was well-known to me long before she directed The Hurt Locker. Mostly because of this poster which has hung on my bedroom wall for the past 13 years...
Her movie Strange Days is one of my all-time favorite films. Written by (her then husband?) James Cameron, it's just cool entertainment. It has a great cast (I fell hopelessly in love with Angela Bassett after this performance), a really good story, an intriguing premise, and most everything else I love about the movies. The fact that it was so beautifully directed was just icing on the cake. All I can do is hope that the Oscar win for Kathryn Bigelow will mean we finally get a release of Strange Days on Blu-Ray.
As an added bonus, Kathryn Bigelow also directed a movie in 2000 called The Weight of Water starring the incomparable Elizabeth Hurley... TOPLESS!! I owe Kathryn Bigelow a massive debt for that astounding moment of brilliance in cinematic history, so congratulations on your Academy Awards!
• Teaser. The stupid-ass "teasers" that television news shows do during commercial breaks are getting more and more asinine. Shows like "Entertainment Tonight" always waste time before taking a break telling you what's coming up after the break. It's stupid, but nobody cares because it's not like you'll die if you miss anything on "Entertainment Tonight." You can, however, die from missing something on the news...
"And this just in... another big auto-maker launching a recall. We'll show you what cars pose a risk for your safety this time! It's eleven minutes of uninterrupted news at 11:00 on KIRO 7... tonight!"
Yes, let's not just come out and say which cars might kill you as a public service in the name of safety... instead let's keep it a secret so we can whore out our shitty local news program. Whatever.
And now my sinuses are smooshing into my brain, so I should probably go to bed.
My head-cold only lasted 24 hours, but the resulting sinus infection is ongoing. Yesterday the pain was so bad that I had to leave work early, which meant that my planned half-day of work today turned into a full-day of work. I wouldn't have minded so much, except the weather outside was so beautiful. It makes me miss my motorcycle.
Of course, right now what I really miss is having the energy to stay out of bed all day. The antibiotics really wipe me out, so pretty much all I can do is work and sleep. This is a darn shame, because I've got a to-do list a mile long before I start traveling again in two weeks.
Hopefully I'll have the energy to make it through The Oscars tomorrow night...
In general, I find The Oscars to be a load of crap, but it still makes for an interesting evening of television.
My "best movie" last year was Star Trek. For sheer entertainment value, I just can't seem to get enough of it. But it wasn't nominated for Best Picture, so I'd probably have to go with Inglourious Basterds, followed closely by District 9 and The Hurt Locker which were all amazing films. So was Moon but it wasn't nominated either. The odds of Inglourious Basterds winning Best Picture are slim, but I think it's a lock for Best Original Screenplay (and deservedly so).
As far as Best Director, I think that Kathryn Bigelow nailed it with Hurt Locker, but I wouldn't be unhappy if James Cameron got it, because his fingerprints are on every frame of Avatar, which is a magnificient achievement in filmmaking. And, of course, I'm not going to have any complaints if Quentin Tarantino wins. Ever.
I don't care about any of the actor categories except Best Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz. His incredible performance in Inglourious Basterds is about as Oscar-worthy a role as you will ever see.
Speaking of Inglourious Basterds, it's my pick for Best Editing. Quentin's films are always paced impeccably, and the way the various storylines are so perfectly woven together in the editing room is a testament to Tarantino's vision.
The Best Animated Feature Film I saw last year was probably Up, which had a really good story behind it (though I thought the actual "traditional" animation on either Ponyo or The Secret of Kells was the best of the lot). That being said, I also enjoyed Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline, and Princess and the Frog so I'd be happy with any of them winning. As for Best Animated Short, that clearly has to go to Nick Park for his Wallace & Gromit short A Matter of Loaf and Death.
Art Direction and Visual Effects are clearly Avatar's to win. This is the future of filmmaking, and has opened entirely new worlds in movies.
I'd give Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Makeup to Star Trek on principle.
The other categories I don't have enough information to make an opinion on.
Of course, this is The Oscars, so I'll be lucky if even one of my picks is actually a winner. But there you have it.