The Academy Awards – Who Should Win? 2016 Oscars

Predicting the Oscars has become a game of one or two major categories (this year Picture and Director surprisingly) and figuring out categories no one really knows (Live Action Short). You can find many “experts” to help with your Oscar pool.

Much more fun is to imagine if you had a voting ballot and select who you would vote for. Not who WILL win, but who SHOULD win.

Having seen all of the nominees for the awards below (except one), here are my choices if I could vote in the Oscars.

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Picture – Room was the best film of the year. I’ve heard it made people claustrophobic or uncomfortable or angry. I’ve heard it might not be better than the book. It was still the best picture of 2015.

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And The Oscar Nominees Should Be…

I have done really well on my annual attempt to see all the big Oscar nominees by show time (Sunday, February 28) – and even better to anticipate them by nomination time (Thursday, January 14). After seeing a great New York Times article listing who Manhola Dargis, A.O. Scott, and Stephen Holden thing the nominees should be, I decided to have a hand at my own list.

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From the Times, I learned how many films I still haven’t seen that are quite notable, even if they will be ignored the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. They cite The Assassin, Experimenter, Results, Clouds of Sils Maria, Tangerine, 99 Homes, James White, The Diary of Teenage Girl, and two films I just never got around two seeing, Magic Mike XXL and Grandma. So for an amateur film buff, I might have done all right, but I have miles to watch.

Here are my thoughts on which Actors should be nominated based on the power and quality of their work. They ignore the Academy’s usual disdain for certain genres. They also don’t accept a lead role being positioned as supporting to help move an actor into a more winnable category.

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Mini-Review: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

R, 122 Minutes, 2015

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About: There was this computer guy who was a jerk, but a genius. You might have heard of him.

Starring: Michael Fassbender, who looks nothing like Jobs (see below), but is brilliant.

Michael Fassbender and Steve Jobs

Directed: Danny Boyle, who has now made a bunch of very different, really solid movies – Transporting, 127 Hours, Millions, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire

Written: Aaron Sorkin in totally Sorkinesque dialogue. Lots of walk and talks. I once interviewed with a rabbi who couldn’t walk and talk. He had to stop whenever he had to talk. I knew I couldn’t work with him.

Best Thing About It: The cast. Kate Winslet would be unrecognizable if I hadn’t just told you Kate Winslet was in it. Seth Rogen is totally recognizable, but is very compelling as Steve Wozniak. Jeff Daniels has found a new role as an older, friendly, but somewhat insufferable boss (see him similarly as the head of NASA in The Martian). Michael Stuhlbarg is once again amazing. In most films it takes a minute to place him (ex. Pawn Sacrifice), but in every film he displays the incredible talent that was on display as the lead in A Serious Man.

Worst Thing About It: I often complain when the lead character is distasteful. I have to spend two hours with someone I really don’t like. Steve Jobs is like The Social Network – socially incompetent asshole who offends everyone around him, but is an absolute genius. Steve Jobs is more distasteful, but more of a genius than Mark Zuckerberg. While I appreciate what Jobs was capable of doing, it was troubling to watch him throughout the film when all I wanted was someone to punch him in the face. Spoiler: No one does.

Notable Thing About It: In a very original structure, the film takes place in 3 separate real time segments in the 30 minutes of so before three major product launches – the Macintosh (1984), NeXT (1988), and the iMac (1998) [Filmed in 16mm, 35mm, and digital respectively**]. Also, truth be told, I owned 3 of these computers and have exclusively used Apple/Macintosh home computers my entire computer life since my family got an Apple II Plus when I was 10.

Overall: This is an extremely well made film. The creative structure gives the film urgency and keeps it moving. The actors are excellent top to bottom. The ending tries to hard to make things work out. Also, if you somehow have never heard of the success of Apple computers, the iPod, iPhone, etc. you would be baffled that anyone thinks Jobs is a genius by what is shown in the film (2 failures, 1 predicted success). It’s a good film, but not great. But if you loved The Social Network, run right out as I wasn’t as high on that film as the rest of the world (I was rooting for The King’s Speech for the Oscar).

**Info added after initial posting of blog fro Christ Nashawaty’s review of the film in Entertainment Weekly.

Rating: 3 RaMaKs (out of 4)

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#BlogElul via the Movies 18 – True Love

Love…exciting and new. Come aboard.  We’re expecting you…

Unlike The Love Boat on Saturday nights when I was a kid, love doesn’t really come up on the High Holy Days. Love of God is a consistently used phrase – just look to the V’ahavta, You shall LOVE Adonai Your God. But we don’t talk about it much. And certainly romantic love is a rare topic on these days.

Love is reserved for people. And in the movies it is idolized: Love conquers all. In the brilliant recent Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom, love between two young teenagers who barely know each other overcomes all difficulties – and the movie is full of wonderful and absurd challenges – to find an ongoing passion. In The Princess Bride, “true love” is enough to bring Wesley back from the dead (thanks to Miracle Max). Or as Wesley himself says, “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.”

Do movie romances last beyond the closing credits? Depends if there is a sequel and the actors sign on for it. An article in Cracked.com argues against some romances surviving. And sometimes they don’t. Poor King Kong died over his unrequited love for Fay Wray. In the wonderful (500) Days of Summer, true love exists, just not between the protaganists. In Titanic, Kate Winslet apparently didn’t understand how to share her life raft with her true love. There was PLENTY of room for both. And then she tossed away an expensive necklace for no reason either. And the love between Ariel and Eric where she gives up everything for him (and she’s a rich princess, so it isn’t money or power) is somewhat disturbing.

But as unrealistic as movie love is, it gives us hope. Perhaps unrealistic hopes of “meet cute” and “love is blind,” but still hope. For those searching for love in this new year, we can still find it the movies tell us. For those in a relationship, go see Hope Springs and find new life in that love. Love is a vital part of our healthy soul. This year, find a way to increase the true love in your life. Doubt it? Just hit the multiplex.

#BlogElul is the brainchild of @imabima who blogs at imabima.blogspot.com. For the 30 days of Elul, the spiritual preparation before the Jewish High Holy Days, many Jews will be reflecting on the themes of the season. My posts will all be through the lens of movies. You can see all the themes in the graphic. Follow all the other excellent postings through Twitter at #BlogElul along with related items #Elulgram and #PopCultureElul.