Pick your movie of the week: Foreign Films! (Mar 3-9/19)

You may or may not have heard that if Roma was to win best picture, it would make history both as the first movie from a streaming service to win the award AND the first foreign film to do so. So this week we’ll take a look at 3 foreign movies that you may have seen, but more than likely not. That’s why I’ve included plot descriptions in the list below. Which one is your choice?

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1973)

An almost accidental romance is kindled between a German woman in her mid-sixties and a Moroccan migrant worker around twenty-five years younger. They abruptly decide to marry, appalling everyone around them.

Amores Perros (2000)

A horrific car accident connects three stories, each involving characters dealing with loss, regret, and life’s harsh realities, all in the name of love.

Oldboy (2003)

After being kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in five days.

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Ranking Best Picture Winners

I checked and it looks like out of 90 movies that have won the Oscar for Best Picture, I have seen 57. For any who would be even remotely interested, here is how I rank those 57 movies:

  1. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
  2. Chariots of Fire (1981)
  3. On the Waterfront (1954)
  4. All About Eve (1950)
  5. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
  6. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  7. The Deer Hunter (1978)
  8. Gone With the Wind (1939)
  9. It Happened One Night (1934)
  10. The Apartment (1960)
  11. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
  12. Chicago (2002)
  13. The Sting (1973)
  14. Annie Hall (1977)
  15. Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
  16. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
  17. The English Patient (1996)
  18. Dances With Wolves (1990)
  19. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
  20. Platoon (1986)
  21. The French Connection (1971)
  22. Rebecca (1940)
  23. Ben-Hur (1959)
  24. Argo (2012)
  25. The Departed (2006)
  26. The Hurt Locker (2009)
  27. The Artist (2011)
  28. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
  29. The Sound of Music (1965)
  30. The Last Emperor (1987)
  31. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
  32. Moonlight (2016)
  33. American Beauty (1999)
  34. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
  35. Gandhi (1982)
  36. Casablanca (1943)
  37. Titanic (1997)
  38. Crash (2005)
  39. The Shape of Water (2017)
  40. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
  41. No Country for Old Men (2007)
  42. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  43. The King’s Speech (2010)
  44. Spotlight (2015)
  45. Unforgiven (1992)
  46. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
  47. Amadeus (1984)
  48. Braveheart (1995)
  49. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  50. Rain Man (1988)
  51. Gladiator (2000)
  52. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
  53. Forrest Gump (1994)
  54. The Godfather (1972)
  55. The Godfather Part II (1974)
  56. Schindler’s List (1993)
  57. Rocky (1976)

Congratulations Bohemian Rhapsody. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Olivia Colman as Queen Anne in The Favourite.

Best Actor: Viggo Mortensen as Tony Lip in Green Book.

Best Quote: “It’s like what your friend the President said, “Ask not… Your country, what you could do for it. Ask what you do for yourself.” Y’know?” — Viggo Mortensen as Tony Lip in Green Book.

And an even more uninteresting list for you, here are the winners I have yet to see:

Wings (1928), The Broadway Melody (1929), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) ,Cimarron (1931), Grand Hotel (1932), Cavalcade (1933), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), The Great Ziegfeld (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), You Can’t Take It With You (1938), How Green Was My Valley (1941), Mrs. Miniver (1942), Going My Way (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945), Gentlemen’s Agreement (1947), Hamlet (1948), All the King’s Men (1949), An American in Paris (1951), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), From Here to Eternity (1953), Marty (1955), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Gigi (1958), West Side Story (1961), Tom Jones (1963), My Fair Lady (1964), A Man for All Seasons (1966), In the Heat of the Night (1967), Oliver! (1968), Patton (1970), Ordinary People (1980), Terms of Endearment (1983), Out of Africa (1985)

CALLED IT! My 2019 Oscar Predictions

I’ve finally seen all 8 nominated for best picture, along with a bunch of other Oscar contenders. Here’s how I think it will all go down:

BEST PICTURE

  • Who I want to win: Roma. Having said that, I really have a kind of 5-way tie in my mind. I absolutely loved BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Green Book, and A Star is Born. But Roma was pretty outstanding. It’s one of the few movies I’ve ever watched twice within a week.
  • Who I think will win: The Favourite. However, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Roma won.

ACTRESS

  • Who I want to win: Olivia Colman, The Favourite.
  • Who I think will win: Glenn Close, The Wife. I guess I only say that because she won at the Golden Globes, because I haven’t seen this movie. If she doesn’t get it I would choose Colman as a backup prediction.

ACTOR

  • Who I want to win: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody.
  • Who I think will win: Rami Malek, though I think Willem Dafoe could pull it off. I also think Viggo Mortensen is more deserving than he’s getting credit for.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Who I want to win: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk. Sweet movie, too.
  • Who I think will win: Emma Stone, The Favourite.

SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Who I want to win: Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
  • Who I think will win: Mahershala Ali, Green Book. However, Ali is definitely my second pick for this award. He was awesome in this movie.

DIRECTOR

  • Who I want to win: Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman. By now he at least deserves the he-deserves-it-and-we-should-have-awarded-him-long-before-now win, not to mention how great this movie is. I really don’t think he’ll get it, though.
  • Who I think will win: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma. Very deserving. I can’t imagine how anyone could beat him in this category this year.

ANIMATED FEATURE

  • Who I want to win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I have to say, I haven’t seen Paddington 2, but from all I’ve heard I’m shocked that it didn’t get nominated. Especially considering that Boss Baby managed to get a nod last year.
  • Who I think will win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  • Who I want to win: RBG. This was actually the only movie in the category I was able to see. I did like it quite a bit, though.
  • Who I think will win: Free Solo. I’ve just heard this title a lot, so I’m going with it.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Who I want to win: Green Book
  • Who I think will win: To me this is a toss-up between Roma and The Favourite. I’m going to go with Roma.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Who I want to win: BlacKkKlansman
  • Who I think will win: BlacKkKlansman. My backup pick is If Beale Street Could Talk.

ORIGINAL SCORE

  • Who I want to win: Black Panther
  • Who I think will win: I have no sweet clue, so I’ll go with the one I want to win: Black Panther

ORIGINAL SONG

  • Who I want to win: “Shallow,” A Star is Born
  • Who I think will win: “Shallow,” A Star is Born

PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • Who I want to win: Roma
  • Who I think will win: The Favourite

FOREIGN FILM

  • Who I want to win: Roma
  • Who I think will win: Roma

CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Who I want to win: Roma
  • Who I think will win: Roma

MAKEUP AND HAIR

  • Who I want to win: Vice
  • Who I think will win: Vice

COSTUME DESIGN

  • Who I want to win: Black Panther
  • Who I think will win: The Favourite

VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Who I want to win: Christopher Robin
  • Who I think will win: Christopher Robin

LIVE ACTION SHORT

  • Who I want to win: Fauve
  • Who I think will win: Skin

ANIMATED SHORT

  • Who I want to win: Animal Behaviour
  • Who I think will win: Bao. I really don’t want this one to win, but Pixar seems to consistently win in this category as well as in the feature-length category. If, by chance, Bao doesn’t win, I’d say One Small Step is deserving. Most of these you can easily find online to watch. Even on YouTube.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT

  • Who I want to win: Lifeboat.
  • Who I think will win: Lifeboat (???). It’s the only one I’d seen, but it was quite amazing.

FILM EDITING

  • Who I want to win: Green Book
  • Who I think will win: The Favourite

SOUND EDITING

  • Who I want to win: A Quiet Place
  • Who I think will win: First Man

SOUND MIXING

  • Who I want to win: Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Who I think will win: Bohemian Rhapsody

I rarely watch more than the first hour of the Oscars, but I love predicting and then hearing the results. Let me know if you have any predictions of your own.

Not sure who I would have picked if I was around in 1939. But this week, we have a winner…

Congratulations Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Betty Field as Mae Jackson in Of Mice and Men.

Best Actor: James Stewart as Jefferson Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Best Quote: “Well, I guess you can’t break out of prison and into society in the same week.” — John Wayne as Ringo Kid in Stagecoach

Again, let me know if you have a prediction, at least for Best Picture or one of the acting categories. I love this stuff!

Pick your movie of the week: 1939 Oscars! (Feb 17-23)

1939 was quite a year for movies. Both timeless classics The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind were nominated for best picture with GWTW winning out. Not only that, three other big classics were also nominated, and they are our nominees. Which Oscar contender in 1939 is your pick?

Stagecoach (1939)

Of Mice and Men (1939)

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

The China I Will Remember

It was 30 years ago in one of the most populous cities in the world. Students living there were concerned about their future in light of inflation, a lack of freedom of speech, a rapidly growing divide between the haves and the have-nots, and a one party political system that lacked any kind of accountability. The students called for democracy. The leaders wouldn’t listen.

Just like we’ve seen in other countries in the last ten years, young protesters in the city square grew in number by the day. In a very short amount of time their number grew to a million. They started a hunger strike that got the attention, and support, of the rest of the country. Considering the dizzyingly high population number of China, this was significant. Still, the politicians and their supreme leader (Deng Xiaoping) would not budge. They had too much to lose.

The students made a large papier-mâché statue of who they called “The Goddess of Democracy and Freedom” and “The Goddess of Liberty.” They propped it up high where it looked directly at the giant portrait of Mao Zedong on the Tiananmen Gate.

The protests were peaceful, but threatening to Xiaoping and his government. The Premier, Li Peng, declared martial law. Soldiers and tanks were deployed. A LOT of them. Watching footage today of the army moving in sends shivers up your spine.

No one can forget (nor should we) the image of the young man risking his life by standing in front of a line of these tanks, refusing to move and allow them to continue. 

They try to go around him so he moves to stay in their way. But his actions were symbolic of countless other Chinese youths who also risked their lives that same day. The soldiers were shooting and beating any students who got in their way. Journalists running alongside them would warn them to leave and save themselves, but many of them would respond with something to the effect of “Let the world see what is going on here.”

In China, this event is called “The June 4th Incident” and is taboo. In China, a Google search will only bring up government-mandated versions of the event. Media are not permitted to report on anything related to it unless they take the Communist Party of China’s view.

I am not Chinese, but I will not allow this event to be forgotten. Ukraine had a similar experience. So did Egypt. And now Venezuela. When things like this happen in other countries it’s easy to feel like there’s not much you can do. And I guess there isn’t, but the least we can do it talk about it—especially to children—and remember it.

Congratulations Empire of the Sun. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Miranda Richardson as Mrs. Victor in Empire of the Sun.

Best Actor: Steve Carell as Mark Baum in The Big Short.

Best Quote: “I have a feeling in a few years people are going to be doing what they always do when the economy tanks. They will be blaming immigrants and poor people.” — Steve Carell as Mark Baumin The Big Short

This movie brought to mind the Tiananmen Square Massacre for me. It’s a young British boy living in Shanghai trying to survive the Japanese occupation there during WWII. It also has the connection of illustrating the tenacity, creativity, and courage that the young display in such crisis situations.

Pick your movie of the week: Christian Bale (Feb 10-16/19)

I’m pretty excited about seeing Vice (2018), the movie in which Bale plays Dick Cheney and is nominated for best actor this year. I kept myself from nominating my own favourites, The Dark Knight (2008) and The Fighter (2010). However, the following are all ones I love very much, and really, there are so many others to choose from. Which one of these three is your choice?

Empire of the Sun (1987)

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

The Big Short (2015)