Transparent Judaism

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Transparent is the best Jewish show on television. The premise and goal of the show is not about Judaism at all. Most obviously, it is about Maura, a recently out trans woman and the ramifications of her revelations to her three children. It is also about the three sexually diverse adult children who are extraordinarily selfish (actually all the main characters are pretty self-absorbed) and each engages in different sexual explorations as adults (and also in flashback as teenagers). Brutal, honest, complicated, awkward, and real.

However, the family is also Jewish. And they are real Jews.

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Best Movies So Far in 1 Phrase

As we imageshit the halfway mark in 2014, I already have a Top 10. It won’t stay that way. Likely at least ½ of these films won’t even be on my Top 20 by next Oscar time. But I thought it’d be worth to point out the best and worst of what’s come out so far. I decided to reflect on them with what’s the ONE thing I remember best about the film.

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The Academy Awards – Who Should Win? 2014

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A good controversy makes for a good Oscar year. Sharp disagreements such as The King’s Speech vs. Social Network make for entertaining fodder. But this year has been disappointing. I liked all the movies nominated for the Big 8 awards. Some I like more, but I don’t even dislike any of them. The acting awards, while not always my personal selection, did just fine. It’s not a year of dramatic passions.

So welcome to my picks for who I vote for if I had an Oscar ballot. This is not who WILL win. For that see info on my Oscar pool at the bottom of the post. This is who SHOULD win. Oscar voters are notorious for voting with their heart – for their favorite actors, to reward past performance, and to vote against films and filmmakers. I’m no better.

Unlike some Oscar voters, I have seen the nominees for all 7 of the major awards.

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15 Years of #1s

number-1It occurred to me that this is the 15th year I have been actively keeping a Top 10 movies list. So I did a little number crunching.

Of movies released from 1999-2013, I have seen 1029 (or 68.9 movies a year). Granted I see movies years after they are released and I also see movies released before 1999, so this is not an actual record of how many movies I see a year. But apparently I see quite a lot.

Of the movies I have seen, 144 of them were “not worth seeing” or 14%. Considering I intentionally skip most movies with terrible reviews, this means featured986% of the time I find the movie redeeming.

My picks for the best film of the year stand up as an eclectic collection. Only 1 of the films is not well known (50/50). 3 won the best picture Oscar. Another 7 were nominated (and Gravity might win). 5 were not nominated for best picture.

I can’t say which is the best. I haven’t watched 6 of the 15 a second time. I have seen 6 of them multiple times. One director repeats on the 15 – Ang Lee for two wildly different genres. I have watched other films (ex. Mean Girls) more than any of these films, but that doesn’t make it the “best,” just the most enjoyable.

See my #1 list below.

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Best Films of 2013

top-10-films-2013I wish I’d seen all of them – all the foreign films, documentaries, independents, even the poorly rated blockbusters. But I’m just an arm chair critic and seeing over 70 films in 2013 is a heck of lot anyway.

Another very good, but not outstanding year. Few of these films will be classics in a decade, but they were plenty enjoyable to watch. Of my top 10, 7 were based on real life stories. My tastes also seem to match up to the Academy more and more. Of the 9 best picture nominees, 7 are in my top 10 and the other 2 in my Top 20.  I chalk this up to not seeing enough independent and foreign films.

I’ll share Oscar predictions closer to the show.

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Oscar Stats 2014

I love Oscar Stats.

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  • Meryl Streep breaking her own record for nominations with 18.
  • That we might have to utter the words “Oscar Winner” and add “The Lone Ranger” after it.
  • 49th (!) Oscar nomination for John Williams (Soundtrack to The Book Thief) and he is still 10 shy of Walt Disney.
  • Cinematographer Roger Deakins looking to avoid going 0 for 11.
  • Jennifer Lawrence has her 3rd nomination at age 23 – the youngest to do so. (Teresa Wright was 24).
  • Gravity is only the 5th film to be nominated for all 7 technical awards. Titanic swept all 7. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the WorldHugo, and Life of Pi did not.

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