Friday, February 20, 2015

Oscar Movies Checklist


The nominations tell me which movies are worth seeing so I try and catch up to see those top nominated films. What surprised me about the Best Picture nominees this year is that many were pre-releases and none made much revenue at the box office (as in little-seen).  Compared to last year where the Best Picture nominees were all big box office films. American Sniper was released in theaters the day after the Oscar nomination announcement. Did you hear that poop got nominated for an Oscar? lol During the nomination ceremony the Academy President called Dick Pope (Mr. Turner) Dick Poop! lol

Gone Girl only got a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. I thought it was one of the best movies I've seen last year, so suspenseful! I watched one foreign film this year – the Polish film Ida. It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year and Best Achievement in Cinematography. 

I really enjoyed reading the book Wild whose movie was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role and a Supporting Role. Maleficent with Angelina Jolie was nominated for Best Achievement in Costume Design. The Lego movie was only nominated for the music category, so co-director Philip Lord made his own lego Oscar that he posted on twitter. lol  

From the Best Picture category I've seen the following movies:

American Sniper was nominated for 6 Oscars and Bradley Cooper was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, the third year in a row he's been nominated for this award. There has been a lot of controversy around this film, former Governor and Navy vet Jesse Ventura accused Chris Kyle of lying about punching him in the face. Kyle's book publisher had to remove it from his book after Ventura won the defamation lawsuit for $1.845 million. So a clothing company of American Sniper merchandise raised more than $1 million in donations in a week to cover part of what his widow owes Ventura.

That aside, Chris Kyle was a hero during his four tours and once out the military dedicated his life to helping vets deal with PTSD. This was a powerful movie that reminded me of how lucky I am to live in this country, not born somewhere unstable. When the movie ended everyone walked out in silence. His widow, Tara is releasing her book later this year while being embroiled in two lawsuits. 

When Chris Kyle was alive he told people that any profits from his memoir is blood money and that he didn't publish it to be famous or for an income and that he wanted all profits to go to two families of fallen SEAL members (Job and Lee). Job is the one that is blinded in the movie and later dies in surgery. Kyle did not have a will and his wife has not given those families any money. Tara responded strongly in a court filing that she owed no such obligation Although days before Kyle was killed he donated about $56,000 to the Lee and Job families as well as to a charity supporting veterans. The company that Chris Kyle co-owned to help veterans had bought his house for him and allowed his family to live in it rent free. But due to a legal battle between the company and Tara, where the company claims the house was a conditional gift on Tara giving proceeds from the book and movie to the Lee and Job families, they are now asking her to either move out or buy the home from them for $314K. Right now the trial for the man who killed Chris Kyle is taking place, so his widow really has a lot on her plate in addition to raising two kids. Speaking of kids, there was one funny part to the movie, Bradly Cooper holding a fake baby.

Boyhood was nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Performance by an Actor and Actress in a Supporting Role. The movie was filmed over the course of 12 years! This is the kind of movie I've always thought someone should do. They had to find a week each year that all the actors were available and the script was written each year before the shooting. It's incredible to see actors age 12 years over the course of three hours.  Patricia Arquette also matures over that time from age 33 to 46, plus she had a baby in real life so you see her weight fluctuate in the movie along with her haircuts. What I found really distracting was the on screen daughter of Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke played by the director's daughter Lorelei Linklater who does not look Caucasian and thus didn't make sense to be cast as their kid. While the concept of this movie was innovative, this 2 hour and 45 min long movie is incredibly slow and boring with little character development and no ending. 


The Grand Budapest Hotel was nominated for 9 Oscars. The premise for the movie is that in the 1930s the Grand Budapest Hotel was a popular European ski resort, presided over by concierge Gustave H. and Zero, a junior lobby boy who becomes Gustave's friend and protege. Gustave prides himself on providing first-class service to the hotel's guests, including satisfying the intimate needs of the many elderly women who stay there. When one of Gustave's lovers dies mysteriously, Gustave finds himself the recipient of a priceless painting and the chief suspect in her murder. The film was shot in Berlin and Görlitz, Germany but in the film the hotel is located in a fictional place– the Republic of Zubrowka, an Eastern European nation ravaged by war and poverty in the 1960s when the movie ends. It's a quirky and charming movie with beautiful imagery, a massive cast of talented actors - Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson.


Selma is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and (current) Congressman John Lewis among others. The movie was produced by Brad Pitt and Oprah and directed by Ava DuVernay. The movie included four British actors, one being David Oyelowo who played MLK. He said that when he spoke in his British accent on set it would startle people so he decided to stay in character for the entire filming off camera. The musician Common also acted in the movie and produced a song for the soundtrack.  Oprah Winfrey played the part of Annie Lee Cooper, a 54-year-old woman who tried to register to vote but was denied by Sheriff Clark. The movie is an important history lesson as it showed  how even after segregation was outlawed black people would illegally be prevented from voting in the South. And it showed President Lyndon Johnson's as a racist who wouldn't help  the civil rights movement. It was a powerful movie and I liked how they showed a more human side of MLK with him smoking, his wife talking to him about his adultery, and other civil rights leaders who did not like him. There wasn't much diversity in the Oscar nominations as Selma was expecting to be nominated for Best Actor and Best Director. I thought it was a fantastic movie that every American should see.  

Lyndon Johnson’s condolence letter to MLK’s widow heads to auction soon. Coretta Scott King gave it to Harry Belafonte, and when he originally try to auction it her children took him to court and Belafonte won. He said "It’s been a very painful experience. I've been anguished at how they behaved and what they did to me." If you didn't know his children are also suing each other and the King Center in Atlanta could be stripped of its name because of their antics.  Obama had a special screening of the movie at the White House last month and for his second swearing in as President he used the Bible which MLK took on the road with him during his days as a preacher. But now Dexter King wants to sell it but Beatrice King is hiding it so they are in the middle of a legal battle. You won't hear any actual MLK speeches in the movie because MLK's estate (children) wouldn't give them the license for the originals. Maybe Congress will put his speeches in public domain soon since it's been 50 years because his children are ruining his legacy. Random fact, did you know that Rev. Jesse Jackson was on the balcony in Memphis with MLK when he was assassinated. Another random fact, while MLK and Coretta had  four children, they only have one grandchild. If you want to learn more about MLK (and his family), my college professor wrote a fascinating book on him, a side the public knows little about, his complex human side that the movie lightly touch on: I May Not Get There with You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr  by Michael Eric Dyson. I will end by saying that my father walked in the March on Washington in 1963 where MLK delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

I read that this year's Academy Awards gift bag contains a train ride through the Rockies, a year's worth of Audi A4 rentals, and a session for mind reading techniques worth $20K. Here are some funny pics from last year's show:











5 comments:

  1. I don't usually watch the awards - just the red carpet. I did see a few of the films this year though, so maybe I'll leave it on a little longer!

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  2. I always set out to watch the movies and then never get around to it...some year it will happen.

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  3. I haven't seen ANY of these movies... might have to make a list of 'must watch' movies!

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  4. I loved reading your recap. The only movie I really want to see on the list is American sniper. I didn't know any of those little tidbits you shared. Enjoy the show!

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  5. Loved reading this!! Honestly didn't see any of the movies this year which is weird for me but now with this in the back of my mind, I know which ones to see!! Thanks!!

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