Okay, so just before the Oscars are going to announce who is nominated, I figured that I should take a stab at guessing what the top ten pictures of the year will be, considering this is the first time in quite a long time that ten films will be nominated.
So, here’s the gimmes, in my mind:
The Hurt Locker
Up in the Air
And here are my guesses as to what the other five will be:
A Serious Man
A Single Man
Who could bust this up though? Easily the first answer is “The Hangover.” Although the Academy tends to trend art, it loves making people believe that they actually are PULLING for the popular films to win. After all, award shows are on TV and they have to obtain a viewership. No wants to watch an awards show about obscure films (which of course, is a huge dilemma for people like me, who kind of believe that the Oscars are still a big deal).
Secondly, Julie & Julia could sneak in, simply because Meryl Streep is in it (The only reason Nine is in my top ten is because Day-Lewis is in. I’ve seen it, it’s not worthy). Considering I really feel like “Invictus” and “Nine” are unworthy films (but will be there due to Lewis and Eastwood), I’d love to see District 9 pull a huge surprise, considering it has actually gained some ground and at least been nominated on several occasions this season.
Finally, and probably most doubtful, I look to the Critics Choice Awards and am pondering a possible animated film in the top ten. I see this possible, again, very unlikely, but possible simply because the Academy is bringing back their “top 10” best picture deal to gain more viewership. They’re doing this in a year when there really weren’t a lot of tremendous films. What did shine this year was animated film, and “Up,” like most Pixar films, is at the level of greatness that a great live action movie is. So why not put it in both Best Picture and Best Animated feature categories? Unlikely, but, wow, that’d really be saying something.
Now one must make a decision. Returning to the beginning of this essay, I stated that the Academy Awards has trended “Art” pics, and gone with film that tackles issues in our world today, and, most importantly, doing so in an effective and entertaining way. This trend, however, ended last year. It was a pivotal year for the oscars. Obama had won the election, and as theorists say, “all film is political film.” If this is the case, the grandest of grand award ceremonies must award what they feel is the best ideological film of the year. That film was “Slumdog Millionaire.”
While I could argue it wasn’t the best film of the year (and it wasn’t, “Revolutionary Road” was, which got the biggest snub I’ve seen in years…which is important to this year), it was certainly a political film of a different world when comparing “Slumdog” to the rest of the potential best pictures. What “Slumdog” winning said to me was that Hollywood had embraced the era of hope. We are looking to smile, and “Slumdog Millionaire” was the film to do that.
Now, this may have been a fluke, but, perhaps it is not. Maybe today, even though the era of hope has deflated, we are still looking for something to take us away from it all. If this is the case, then it is pretty impossible to argue against “Avatar” taking best picture this year.
It also must be noted that the last picture Cameron got a shit-ton of buzz on was “Titanic,” which swept the Oscars. It was a populist year. It may very well be one this year.
However, there has been quite a lot of buzz surrounding “The Hurt Locker,” (which I plan to see within the week, damn it.) especially around Kathryn Bigelow. Cameron even said during his Golden Globes speech that the award should have gone to her, his ex-wife (funny, no?). And while people claim the Best Picture and Best Director category can be split in this day and age, it still happens irregularly. (4 out of the past 10 years).
Then I return to “Revolutionary Road.” Critics loved this film, yet it was snubbed. Easily the best directed film, with tremendous acting and a wonderful script. What turned the voters at the Academy Away? Was it subject matter? While the film was marketed very well, this was a film primarily about women’s issues in the 50’s and 60’s, issues that we have sadly not come to terms with. Is this the reason the Academy turned away?
Possibly so. But, as much as it’d be wonderful to see a woman finally win best director, she most likely will not. However, Bigelow has the best chance to upset her former hubby.
Which finally brings us to possible upsets for Best Picture. Again, despite the thousands of “Will nots” against “The Hurt Locker,” it has the best chance to upset “Avatar,” a film, were it by any other director, would merely sweep the technical awards. Let’s face it, Hollywood loves the idea of a white male nobody becoming something. James Cameron, despite his age, is still that false vision of anyone and everyone making it.
If neither “Avatar” or “Hurt Locker” win Best Picture, the next in line is “Up in the Air,” another mediocre picture. Hollywood is developing a crush on Reitman, who I personally think really phoned in this work. It’s a beautiful film, but it’s without a heart. However, it made people “feel good,” and would be this years “Slumdog,” were “Avatar” not already the front runner.
Finally, there are “Precious” and “Inglorious Basterds,” the final two guys at the bottom (And at the very end of the upset line “A Serious Man.” Coens are gold in the Academy’s eyes). Both wonder films all around, it’s a shame that they aren’t getting more attention.
We’ll wait and see, but, while many of my own film projects are on hold, expect me to bring this kind of stuff up from time to time. Also, feel free to put in your two sense. I love over theorizing with people.
I write too much, and I feel like a dick writing lengthy posts when no one else does. I just love the layout of tumblr. That’s why I do it. That being said, this one is going to be too long. Not done with it, but I can already tell. So here’s part one.
I Obsess over the Academy Awards
I shouldn’t, but I do. Why is that? Well, it seems that as I’ve gotten older, the Oscars have trended towards awarding “art” films rather than “popcorn” films. They have, in recent years, awarded films that seem to, or actually do, touch upon situations that exist within our world, often confronting them in ways that are uniquely filmic.
Why not be all giddy over the Golden Globes? Well, as long as I can remember, the Golden Globes, while a “predictor” of the Oscars, were never really extremely accredited. The Globes were always about good times, and awarded the said “popcorn” films. The Golden Globes are ran by the Hollywood Foreign Press, which has always been compared to the nerdy foreign kid that just wants to be cool (Appropriate time for a film stereotype, no?). While this is quite the case, The HFP certainly does trend “popcorn” films, and this year was no different, with awarding the highest grossing R rated film of all time, “The Hangover” (Or as I like to call it, “The Incredibly Overrated and Incredibly Passively Sexist Comedy Film That has Zach Galifinakis in It, I Wonder how He Feels About That?” Probably not a good alternative title.) and James Cameron’s “Avatar,” which, inflation be damned, is already the highest grossing film of all time (beating a younger white dude in the process…I think his name was James, too.)
I really can’t argue that “Avatar” was a poor choice, because I haven’t seen it. I do, however, feel that “The Hangover,” while enjoyable, was far from the best comedy this year. But, that’s the way it goes. I do, however, ponder why successful films should get awards. Isn’t earning unbelievable amounts of money that could probably end world hunger reward enough? I feel like it is, in a way (a conceded way, I’m sure it sounds), more important to honor films that aren’t monetarily successful, because they have no reward.
But, that is of course not to say that films that makes money aren’t good. They certainly can be, and the market rewards them.
This wasn’t where I was going…instead of a debate on what is “good film,” I will return with my guessing and theories that no one cares about relating to this year’s Academy Awards, or as someone in Hollywood probably calls it, “Let’s give ourselves oral pleasure.”
Things have been busy for me lately. I’ve promised to myself that I was going to put my filming into the highest gear possible and start making as many films as I possibly can.
Sadly, School is getting in the way. Words cannot describe how much time reading for my Minority Politics and Contemporary Film Media Theory courses takes up. Granted I dig both classes, they’ve gotten in the way.
Not to mention that I also am trying incredibly hard to get into one of two film specializations offered at MSU; one in fiction film production, the other in documentary production. My chances getting in are pretty damn slim as every day I meet more people applying, and only 20 students are let in. Fierce.
And the deadline for the applications is creeping up on me. I didn’t realize how quickly they are coming. I’m most likely doomed. But, that’s not stopping me. And, one of the things I wanted to turn in with my application was a project that I did with a couple of friends my senior year in High school. I have fully completed very few films, but there are none that I hold in a higher light than “Eternal Return.”
Going through my files, I’ve realized that I deleted the files that I need to re-edit through the material (it’s too long to turn in at it’s current completed form). Total bummer. However, this hasn’t stopped me from posting it on youtube…finally.
Now, going through the film one more time, yes, I do realize there are tremendous flaws in this film, but I still can’t help being impressed with what me and Amy, Tom, and Marinko pulled off in probably less than five hours. We made a film. And that’s something pretty special. Now looking back at the film, it is more than just a film for me, personally. It represents a moment of time in my life that has become idolized in my mind. This film only furthers that unhealthy idolization in my head. But, hey, that’s what good film does.
So please, enjoy and share with your friends my first film, “Eternal Return.”
(Good Grief, does the Freep site suck these days.)
What I find incredibly interesting about this article is that although it states that the toxic jewelry is sold by stores like Wal-Mart and Claire’s, they aren’t putting these stores, or the producers of the jewelry, at fault. The blame is solely on Chinese manufacturers.
How can this be the case when some of the toxic jewelry happened to be, sadly, pieces from “The Princess and the Frog” collection? It is quite depressing that the products from arguably the most socially important Disney cartoon in history happen to contain hazardous chemicals (sending some sort of bizarre subconscious statement…or not.), but I think that it is equally upsetting that the writer of this article doesn’t put Disney at fault whatsoever. In the article, the toxic chemicals are from factories in China, and is therefore the fault of the Chinese.
But, they are Disney products, based on an American film, being sold to Americans. Now, I’m sure they’re being sold elsewhere, but would it be factual to claim that the Disney affiliates over here in the US had nothing to do with approving where this jewelry was made?
We want things cheap. We like cheap. It makes living easier. But, cheap things result in cheap labor. Cheap labor often results in mishaps due to poor working conditions. This isn’t a Chinese problem, it’s a globalization problem. Though, we could even argue that it’s simply an American problem.
Is toxic jewelry and tainted dolls similar to WMDs? I hope not.
This concludes the post where I get upset at minute details.
This article gets me thinking about a lot of issues that I think about as a filmmaker as far as the concept of “representation” goes. Not just in films themselves, representation is a seriously complicated issue even when it comes to how a film is marketed. I was interested in “Jennifer’s Body” because I am a Diablo Cody fan. But, to me, the advertisements looked pretty typical.
Typical how? Typical in that “here’s a main character. She is a woman. She has sex, and men like that, BUT OH NO, she’s getting revenge in a very sexy way.” There wasn’t a lot of dimension to the trailer. It seemed to be in the vein of a teen sex-romp with some violence. And that sort of hybrid has been done. Once the critics bashed it (Yes, sadly I sometimes refuse to think for myself…but we are all lazy at times with thought.), the final nail had been put in the coffin.
Even so, regardless of my views, I think of where my idea of “typical” comes from. To me, typical is a genre film such as an Adventure film, a Comedy film, Drama, Action, Horror, etc. The exceptions to genre films are the niche films, which generally are films for women and black audiences.
So, then, I must ask myself, why is it that there are “typical” films, and then films geared for women and blacks (among other minorities)? Why can’t their be film for all people? Many would argue that genre films are the films for all people, but that is simply not true, because if this were the case, we wouldn’t have the terms “chick flick” and “Tyler Perry presents.”
As a filmmaker, I want my films to appeal to everyone. I don’t want to limit my audience, and I don’t want to insult my audience. Clearly, Diablo had little control over the marketing of “Jennifer’s Body.” So, hey, I just have to think, Hollywood system, what’s up with the “typical?”
Even though we’re already 12 days into 2010, I’m still compelled to construct some sort of “top ten” music list. Of course, this being the internet, there are thousands of them, and mine simply is not one that will be noteworthy. What I thought of, however, was trying to give the simple system a little bit of a twist. I thought that my idea had been spoiled when I found a Huffington Post writer post his top 11 movies of 2009 because “top 10 lists are so over done,” or something.
Why not do a top 9, though? I mean, it was the year two thousand and nine, was it not? What’s more hip and trendy than that! I’m sure it’s been done…but, as I’ve acquired more music in the past year than any year previous, I found it incredibly, incredibly difficult to whittle down a list of best records to nine. Am I satisfied? Somewhat. I would have been happier with a top 15, and I’m very bummed not to show you my favorites of what barely made the list (Neko Case probably would have been at 10, Andrew Bird’s “Useless Creatures” somewhere in the lower teens…) but, since this will already inevitably be another long post, here are my silly little lists.
9. Deastro- Moondagger
8. Grizzly Bear- Veckatimest
7. Flaming Lips- Embryonic
6. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart- S/T
5. Russian Circles- Geneva
I bought this record less than a month ago, but holy cow did this record surprise me. I first heard of this band when I was a DJ on Radio X in Marquette last year. I played some Red Sparowes for the DJ that followed my show and she told me I’d really like them. I can’t recall accurately, but I vaguely remember trying them out and just feeling meh-merized. “Geneva” is a whole other beast. It is heavy up front and slowly evolves into an incredibly beautiful record. Masculine and feminine all at once, “Geneva” blends the best of what Post-rock has given us.
4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Its Blitz!
The big thing in music this year was returning to drum machines and other electronic lore that had been abandoned once the 90’s sluggishly rolled in. Yeah Yeah Yeahs made a wonderfully enjoyable record using synths in the way that a traditional rock band would use a guitar. Rather than change their sound to the machine, they changed the machine for the band, and made what is quite possibly the best Yeah Yeah Yeahs record to date. If that’s arguable, it’s pretty damn hard to deny the amazing cover, one that will be on many college dorm room walls for years to come.
3. Animal Collective- Merriweather Post Pavilion
It kind of goes unsaid that this record is going to be on top 10 lists. From its release date in January, I wondered if this record would be forgotten, but it’s simply too good to be forgotten. The music spoke to everything that was popular in mainstream music at the time. This was important to what “underground” music would do in ’09, which is embrace Pop music, while creating something far from what is usually digested. It is AC’s most accessible record, but also one of the most experimental. Many may argue this, but how difficult is it to give up the instruments that you’ve learned to make music with? Embracing the synth to a degree even greater than YYY’s and doing something equally important—creating something new—It is hard to deny this glorious record.
2. St. Vincent- Actor
This was the year that Annie Clark was found. Going back to her debut, “Marry Me,” it’s hard to understand how we all didn’t notice her then. But, perhaps it was because of the timing of “Actor.” In a year where rock bands were making electronic music, St. Vincent put together a record that sounds alien and human, real and inauthentic. The feeling this record instills in a listener is even more profound when knowing that these tracks are meditations following Clark’s viewing of classic Disney cartoons. Not only is the music ground breaking, but it is powerful and incredibly focused. These are not summaries of fairy tales, but horrifying depictions of what fairy tales can translate to in the modern world. A commentary on youth and the state of music and much, much, more, Annie Clark and her St.Vincent work will be remember for some time to come. Just ask Andrew Bird and Grizzly Bear.
1. Fuck Buttons- Tarot Sport
This year, rock bands were making electronic records. Fuck Buttons make electronic records. More than that, they are doing what Animal Collective was doing years ago, which is creating the music of the future. Animal Collective seemed to define the year, or at least most of it, with their incredible record. What are they left to do? Fuck Buttons seem to have filled the void of what is possible with a truly emotional yet simultaneously distant record.
Static noise is a focal point in the music, and on their debut record, “Street Horrrsing,” it was a barrier between the listener and the music. On “Tarot Sport,” it becomes the climatic moment of many of the tracks, possibly speaking to the feeling of the times, a world when we are not sure if success is possible, and perhaps that questioning has become the ultimate success today.
“Sport” not only speaks to our times, but the state of music. Fuck Buttons are a spectacular combination of what electronic music has been and what it’s becoming, and they are also somehow grounded in the noise and experimental rock that is suddenly breaking new ground in today’s music scene. For these reasons, and the simple fact that Fuck Buttons have made a record that is engaging yet distant in a way that is not alienating to the listener, it is my favorite record of the year.
Most Disappointing Record:
Dodos- Time to Die
Dodos have been promising for quite some time. Using their simple guitar and drums setup that are almost tribal in nature, Dodos have made two records of manic, pulsating beauty. It was hard and it was soft. It took you up to the point of no return and then put you calmly back in your seat. The beauty of Dodos was the roller-coaster that they put you on. It wasn’t the addition of vibraphones that ruined that…that could have been incredibly exciting. Instead, Dodos take their new ideas and gloss them over onto a record that takes away all the edge from their past music. Instead, we have a mediocre Death Cab record. Devastatingly boring and even more so disappointing.
Top Songs (Too hard…):
My Girls by Animal Collective
Marrow by St. Vincent
Two Weeks by Grizzly Bear
Young Adult Friction by Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Lion in a Coma by Animal Collective
This Tornado Loves You by Neko Case
While You Wait for the Others by Grizzly Bear
Skeletons by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Something is Squeezing my Skull by Morrissey
Nobody Loves Me and Neither do I by Them Crooked Vultures
Titles are strange things. We often define each other through them, yet, what do they really represent? What can they truly mean? How does a title make an individual and, more importantly, how does a self-imposed title define an individual?
I think of this because I think about myself a lot. Not about my hair or how big my penis is (Or why it is that men fear having a small penis. Is it simply a animalistic thing, or is it created by media?), but about my position in the world. My position in my circle of friends. My family. Whether we realize it or not, we tend to say “We are this.” When we say “I am this,” what does that do to my position? Well, obviously, it creates walls. I begin to live in a house that I built for myself.
But can this house of titles really hold?
(Man, that metaphor got a little out of hand…)
I ask these questions because I often refer to myself as a person that carries two titles—Liberal and Elitist—two terms that are synonymous yet highly contradictory. As a “liberal,” I think that we should be all as equal as humanly possible (or, as many argue, “socialists.”). As an “elitist,” I think that I am of a certain status. As a “liberal,” I believe that we should all have access to the best quality products possible, whether it be health care or bananas (although, maybe not bananas. You can’t really grow bananas everywhere). As an “elitist,” I recognize the good and the bad, and I critique the shit I find disgusting.
Maybe these aren’t good examples, but I’m finding it hard to come to terms with these titles. Truthfully, I hate them. But, still, I must ask, why do I call myself these things? The easiest answer is that I’m “taking them back.” Society defines my beliefs as “liberal,” and most people that are liberal are “elitist.”
This is where I make the joke about being called an “elitist” because I have fancy schmancy* books and that I value education. I’m an “elitist” because I believe it’s wrong to pirate music, and I feel guilt for stealing someone’s art, a personal reflection of who they are. I’m an “elitist” because I drink certain coffee that happens to be more expensive than Folgers crystals because Folgers isn’t “real coffee.”**
All of that may or may not be true, but does it make me an “elitist” if I buy more expensive coffee because I prefer it? Am I “elitist” because I spend my money on things others don’t? No, I simply have different priorities than others. That’s okay. However, this doesn’t really connect elitism to liberalism. How do these two titles intersect?
As someone who identifies as “liberal” (but would much rather identify as a human, or something even more hippie sounding), I want to say the connection is bogus. But, like all titles and categories, they are shaped by public opinion (or a very vocal minority). What is it that makes wanting equality “elitist”? What makes valuing education “liberal”?
They secret is that wanting equality does not make me “elitist.” Valuing education is not a “liberal” trait. But what I’ve realized is that they’re not supposed to. What makes the term “liberal” become associated with the term “elitist” is the fact that the “liberal elitist” is an individual that recognizes disparities in our world and also recognizes that he or she, like myself, really doesn’t have it that bad and that I can do something to change the way the world works.
But still, where does the elitism come in? How is it that I’m “elitist” for not buying from certain companies because they may or may not use child slave labor?** Why is it that caring is “elitist”?
Because, as a whole, society doesn’t think about these things. That doesn’t put me above society, and I certainly don’t think that way. I am, however, probably more conscious of these disparities. And because it’s hard to care about the little things, anger arises. Why would someone want to change their way of life just because it hurts others? If you don’t see it, it doesn’t matter. A tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, or something to that effect. It’s easier that way. It’s happier. I understand that, so I guess I’ll take the name “elitist.”
Maybe one day our society will encourage us to consume responsibly and be educated rather than do what earns you personal gain and money, money, money, money, money, money, money, money…
*For all of you curious about where the term “Schmancy” comes from, it’s a combination of the words “Schmuck” and “Nancy.” Why, do you ask? If you met Nancy, you’d know.
**As far as I know, Folgers is actually real coffee. Nescafe, however, probably is, too, but Nestle is a terrible company.
***Pick your favorite candy. They may or may not use child slave labor. Depressing right?