The Academy & I: 2008

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After the exceptional year in film that was 2007, to see a fall-off in the quality of motion pictures the following year wasn’t all that unexpected. While 2008 certainly had its fair share of great films, you’d be hard-pressed to find many that were fairly represented at the following year’s Oscar ceremony. What the Academy did give us that year, however, was the last truly great Oscar host in Hugh Jackman. He took what is often-times an incredibly lackluster show and made it quite simply, great entertainment. It was, however, magic that we unfortunately haven’t seen in the ceremonies since. 2008 would also mark a notable shift in the Academy’s nomination process, as it would be the last year in which they would only get to nominate five films for Best Picture, but more on that in the next entry.

2008 was a year in which the Academy chose to frustrate my inner-cinephile like no other. Sure, there were many nominees and winners who were very deserving, but there were just as many head-scratching nominees and victors who would have been left out in the cold in any other year. It was a year that heralded the comeback of a once great screen actor, but also saw the loss of one of the industry’s most promising young thespians. It was a year that saw The Dark Knight take the critics and box office by storm, only to be shunned in most of the major categories by Hollywood’s greatest institution.

As I take a look back on the year in film that was 2008, I will delve into those films that I personally felt best represented the year, as opposed to those that were actually represented come Oscar night.

Best Cinematography

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2008, for all intensive purposes, was the year of Slumdog Millionaire. One of the film’s many wins on Oscar night was for the bright color-infused work by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle. Known for his collaborations with not only Slumdog helmer Danny Boyle, but the crazy Dane himself Lars von Trier, there is no doubt Dod Mantle does solid work here, but it’s certainly not a career-best. Other nominees in the category included Wally Pfister’s work in The Dark Knight as well as that of Claudio Miranda in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. While my thoughts on the film itself may not exactly match up with my declaration here, there is no doubt Miranda’s work with David Fincher on Button is exceptional. It’s interesting to note then that Miranda’s nomination was the first ever awarded by the Academy to a film shot entirely digitally. Although I am very much on the side of film stock when it comes to the raging cinematography debate, Fincher’s films continue to be the best example of digital cinematography, highlighted by Miranda’s work here. He would go on to win the Oscar for lensing Life of Pi just this past year, but it’s safe to say it doesn’t top his timeless work on Button.

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The Academy & I: 2007

 

 

Writers-strike

On November 5th 2007, the Writer’s Strike began and took Hollywood by storm. Fighting for increased compensation for their work, the members of the Writers Guild of America had officially decided to take a stand against the studios in town that had been turning a heavy profit from DVD releases, the Internet and other multi-media forms that used the writers’ works. Many feared the impending Academy Awards ceremony, set for February 24th 2008, would not go off as planned and without any of the individuals who they planned on awarding. These fears were all for naught, however, as the writers struck a deal on February 12th and the strike became a thing of the past.

While many remember this particular awards season for the strike, other cinephiles remember 2007 for being one of the finest years for film in recent memory. Not only did the year give us an exceptional new Coen brothers film, but it also marked the return of one of America’s infrequently seen auteurs, Paul Thomas Anderson, whose There Will Be Blood was about as bombastic a return-film as one gets. The year also saw the arrival of a new writing voice in Diablo Cody, while also sporting some of the finest acting performances many had seen in quite some time.

As I delve into this particular year in film, I will highlight nine of the categories of this particular Academy Awards ceremony and discuss how differently (or similarly) I saw the very same year in film.

Best Cinematography

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2007 was one of those years where film-goers were treated to such an embarrassment of riches when it came to cinematography. From the hauntingly barren old fields of Robert Elswit’s work in There Will Be Blood to the double-bill of visual splendor Roger Deakins provided in No Country for Old Men and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, you’d be hard-pressed to find a flaw in any of the Academy’s nominations. While Elswit deservedly won the Oscar for his work, seeing Deakins be the bridesmaid yet again on awards night was certainly a tough pill to swallow. Many would argue that his work in Jesse James is a career-best, and I wouldn’t disagree. For such a renowned artist as Deakins, it’s hard to believe he has yet to win an Oscar. Here’s hoping that changes sooner rather than later.

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The Academy & I: An Introduction

<> on October 19, 2009 in Santa Clarita, California.

Film buffs like myself live for this time of the year. Awards season contenders hit movie theaters every week and we scramble to see as many as possible in anticipation of compiling our year-end lists in order to hail our favorite films of the year and to impress our fellow cinephiles. It just so happens that today marks the occasion that we are officially just three months away from The Academy Awards, or as they call themselves now in an attempt to seem hip, The Oscars.

March 2nd is that fateful day when a group of industry folk pat themselves on the back by awarding little golden man statues to those they feel represented the best in film over the course of the previous year. With the nominations set to be announced on January 16th, it of course has gotten me thinking about those films and actors I want to be represented by their peers come March.

As is often the case when it comes to my particular taste, I rarely agree with the Academy’s choices. Sure, there are many worthy nominations handed out every year, but in my lifetime there has never been a Best Picture winner that was also my favorite film of the year.

Now among cinephiles, this is not a rare occurrence. That’s not to say that those winners of the most coveted Best Picture Oscar are not deserving, it’s just that within such an expansive industry and with such varied tastes it’s impossible to find one film or performance that every film buff agrees is the best.

So, its got me thinking. How exactly does my taste in film stack up against that of the hallowed Academy’s? Well, that is what I intend to explore.

Through a look at the Academy Awards’ recent history, from 2007 (the best year in film in recent memory IMO) to present day, I intend to compare my taste with that of the Academy’s in various categories. Essentially, I will take my favorite Cinematography, Film, Lead Actor, etc. from each year and compare it to those films and performances the Academy chose to award that same year.

So, if you’re interested in this incredibly self-involved experiment in which a film buff will put his taste up against that of the Academy’s, this series of blog posts is for you. This is The Academy & I.

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The Puppy Play: My Video for the Doritos Crash the Superbowl Contest

Friends! Lend me your shares!

I just entered the Doritos Crash the Superbowl ad contest and need your help. Views, votes (preferably 5 stars- *nudge nudge*), and shares will get my commercial noticed. Sure there’s the million dollar prize, but I’m keen to go work on the next Avengers movie with Joss Whedon in a little town called London, England. Please take just a moment of your time to pass it along to your friends. It’s pretty cute, so they’ll probably thank you. I know I will!

-Fallon

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The List: Ashley’s Critera for Finding the Perfect TV Series

Happy Holidays!

About a month left now until Christmas and that means cooking, shopping, and family time.Not to sound like a Scrooge, but during the holiday break I actually look forward to the stay-cation rather than the food and presents. All of my shows are on hiatus and after the holiday movies and specials have been aired about 100 times I find myself getting restless. To beat the boredom, I try to catch up on a new television series. This quest has led me to discover such shows as: Friday Night Lights, The Office, and Sons of Anarchy. I have a criterion that I follow to find the perfect show.

1. It has to be a current show on air. I made this mistake with Arrested Development. I had no
one to share in my excitement when I finished the series. Lucky for me, Netflix heard my cry
(and the rest of the world’s) and showed pity on us by giving us more.

2. The show must be 3 seasons in or less. I’m ambitious and want to watch a whole series in
two weeks but I don’t like setting anyone up for disappointment.

3. It has to be broad. Not to be confused with mainstream. I don’t mind spoiler alerts, especially
if I’m newly invested. I just don’t want to choose something so obscure that I can only connect
with fans though cryptic fan sites that require a comprehensive exam of the show’s backstory to
enter.

4. The show has to be accessible through Netflix, Hulu, or even on the networks website. I’m
not looking to sink $40 plus into a show that I might not continue to follow in the New Year.

Now that I shared my guidelines, here are some shows I’ve got in mind for this holiday season:
Mike and Molly, Dracula, Betrayal, Justified (I know this breaks #2). What do you recommend?

-Ashley

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Catching Fire: A Quick Review

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Yeah, it was good. Jennifer Lawrence nailed it, but did we ever doubt she would? I was immersed in Panem immediately, and I could literally feel the hope of an uprising in every scene! It was so powerful! The additional characters were well casted and have such intriguing back stories and motivations. And I was so excited to finally see some chemistry taking place between Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. I mean, it wasn’t bad in the first movie — I just wasn’t that invested. In this film, you can really see them beginning to feel for each other in a truly selfless way. Yeah, I’m a fan. Go see it.

– Hillari

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The List: Andrew’s Favorite Current Musical Acts

As it’s already been made abundantly clear by my posting history on this blog, it’s safe to say that I have my fair share of obsessions in both the film and television mediums. This post, however, will focus on yet another one of my obsessions and to say it’s been a long time coming would certainly be an understatement. This obsession is of course music.

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I grew up in a household obsessed with music, only highlighted by the fact that my father rarely went a week without purchasing a new album to add to his already exorbitant collection. From The Beatles to The Beach Boys to Eric Clapton on a seemingly endless loop, it’s safe to say that my knowledge of rock music from the 60s and 70s grew with each passing day. For the record, The Beatles are still my favorite band of all-time and that will never change. It may be a cliche answer, but it’s also the right answer. Trust me.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because for as long as I can remember, the music of the decades preceding my birth (1986) was all I knew. While my fellow classmates were obsessing over Green Day and frontman Billy Joe, I was obsessing over Billy Joel’s The Stranger. Eventually as I got into high school and subsequently college, my music taste became more varied as I began to realize that the music of my lifetime wasn’t too shabby itself. Although my film obsession always came first, I started to branch out when it came to music and would spend endless hours of the day just listening to the albums that I had missed out on. With these hours spent came many new obsessions, most of which I am still very much in the thick of.

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The List: Ashley’s Favorite Ben Affleck Movies

Last month it was revealed that our favorite Boston boy will soon be moving into Wayne Manor. Don’t worry, this post is not a list of reasons why Affleck will make a great Batman. In fact, I will agree that Affleck seems to be more successful at writing and directing than he is at acting (see numerous nominations and wins). With his newest film Runner Runner released this month, I thought it might be fun to list my favorite Ben Affleck movies. Continue reading

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A Quick Review: Edenbrooke and Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

Hello Friends,

In case the cold weather is keeping you in the house these days and
you want to further procrastinate your housecleaning or Christmas
shopping — join the slacker club with me! I have two wonderful books
to keep you entertained: Edenbrooke and Blackmoore, both
“A Proper Romance” by Julianne Donaldson.
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Okay, so let me just say — swoon. I could not put these two great,
fun, delightfully romantic books down. They both left me grinning
like an idiot, and also feeling very concerned that I might never find
a man that suited me as well as a fictional character (scary, I
know.) Donaldson definitely delivers that Regency romance that I
can’t get enough of, but her writing speaks more to the modern world,
while not becoming it. So for those of you who love Austen movies,
but have trouble getting into the books — these novels will not
disappoint.

Truly, I had such a great time with these stories, and they really are
good “clean” fun — and who of us can’t use some of that these days.
So put on a pot of chili, curl up in your Snuggie, and let Philip
Wyndham keep you warm!

— Hillari

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Once Upon a Time: Season Three- Starts this Sunday!

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Honestly, I wasn’t interested in watching this show for the first couple of seasons. With all of the remakes and reboots out there of superheroes and fairytale characters, I was weary of watching another. It wasn’t until I saw a promo for its new spinoff, Wonderland, that I thought maybe I should give Once Upon a Time a chance.

I have to say I am pretty impressed with how well they’ve stayed true to each character’s original story and yet, strayed far enough away for it to seem fresh. Season three looks to be no exception, with an unlikely team of characters en route to Neverland in an attempt to rescue a young boy.

So, after binge watching two seasons last week I am fully prepared for Once Upon A Time’s season three premiere this Sunday.

Where we left off… Continue reading

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