Monday, February 20, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Oscar Predictions

The Academy Awards are given out in less than a week. Now, seems like a good time to make my predictions. Honestly, this is a pretty predictable year. Last year, we had The King's Speech vs. The Social Network which gave us a little uncertainty to make the night interesting. This year, there will be no surprise as 23 of the 24 awards will go to Footloose and Best Supporting Actor will go to Uggie from The Artist. I jest.

Just because I did not really care for War Horse does not mean I don't think it is gorgeous. This is the only award that the movie will pick up.

Art Direction
Harry Potter. Because I think the last movie deserves something.

Original Song
"Man or Muppet." It is a fun song that is a pivotal point in the movie. It is a shame that there will not be a performance at the ceremony.

Original Score
The Artist. The movie is all score. How could they not give the award to it?

Best Adapted Screenplay
I guess The Descendants is the favorite in this category but my gut is going with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. There are a few reasons I'm going with TTSS. Co-writer Bridget O'Connor died before the film was completed. Her co-writer/husband gave a wonderful speech at the BAFTAs (the Academy awards people who give the best speeches). Also, this would be the only award that the movie would pick up.

Best Original Screenplay
I went to look up the nominees and then went, "Oh, duh." While Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris seems to be the favorite, I think this one is going to get swept up by The Artist. The Academy is going to throw awards at The Artist all night.

Best Supporting Actress
Both supporting categories have already been decided. Octavia Spencer is winning.

Best Supporting Actor
My personal choice for this one is Uggie but I guess there is some rule about only giving awards to humans or something. Anyway, Christopher Plummer will take this home. Some people are trying to pretend that Max von Sydow might win, but that's not happening.

Best Actress
Most people will tell you that Meryl Streep is the front runner. But, really, Viola Davis is the one to expect to win. I think if Viola Davis does not win, Michelle Williams will score a surprise win. I repeat, Meryl Streep is not going to win this one.

Best Actor
Jean Dujardin is taking this one. Expect an adorable speech.

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist.

Best Picture
The Artist. No question. I think, of the nine nominees, The Artist is the only one that will be remembered years from now.

The 84th Academy Awards are going to be the most predictable in a while.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Five Stages of Loss

Last week, ABC announced that they would be cancelling two of their three soap operas: One Life to Live and All My Children. The writing was on the wall when ABC announced they were discontinuing SoapNet. Then, the cast of Dancing With the Stars was announced and not a single soap actor. Still, I did not see it coming.

I waited to post anything about it because, to be perfectly honest, I was grief stricken. This may sound silly to anyone who does not watch soap operas. Soap operas have been a big part of my life for 12 years. Soap operas are where my obsessive fandom began. I am the person I am because of soap operas. These cancellations essentially mean the end of soap operas. Hearing about them, I began the five stages of grief.

Step One: Denial
When I talked to my aunt on the day it was announced, we were both in denial. "Maybe it's a publicity stunt." My aunt likened it to the day Elvis died. "That was shocking," she said, "but this is going to take longer to get over." My aunt has watched AMC since day one. She has been present for all 10 of Erica Kane's weddings. I imagine that she is having a tougher time trying to cope with this.

Step Two: Anger
I saw an online petition by fans to fire Brian Frons, the head of ABC Daytime. That seems very unnecessary and fueled by anger. I am extremely angry and will probably send an angry email, letter and may participate in protests to save the soaps, but trying to get people fired is taking it too far. Fans anger turned to Oprah for not stepping up to save AMC and OLTL. Even my aunt suggested that Oprah should buy the shows for OWN. My response was that it is Oprah's network and if that's not the direction she wants to take her network in, I completely understand.

Step Three: Bargaining
In my head, I've gone over and over all the plans I would pitch to ABC to save AMC and OLTL. Maybe they should go back to half an hour. Maybe they should cut down the number of days each week that they broadcast. They could combine AMC and OLTL into one soap. And then, I've also thought, "Dear God, why didn't you cancel Bold and the Beautiful instead?" I've done my fair share of bargaining this week.

Step Four: Depression
I have been super sad this week while watching One Life to Live. It has been really good and to think about it being cancelled is extremely disappointing. One current storyline is about teen bullying at school and on the internet. So far, it has been so well done because it involves two prominent teen characters, an attempted suicide and therapy sessions. I absolutely adore this storyline. This is why soaps are great and soon they won't be around anymore. I am extremely sad.

Step Five: Acceptance
The final step has been the hardest for me. I've gotten so close to getting there, but it's just not happening. Today, I heard about Oprah's official response to soap fans. Oprah said,
"If there was a dime left to be made from them on broadcast television, it would still be happening…. All good things come to an end. All things have their time…. I will not be taking on the responsibility of trying to revive an institution that, for all intent and all purpose, indicates that that time has come for it to be over."
This is extremely simplistic and a slap in the face to the soap opera industry. I had defended Oprah's decision to not buy AMC and OLTL because that was her choice, but she is eulogizing a piece of radio and tv history that is not yet dead. She could fix it if she wanted, but she does not want to. That is her choice. But this statement makes me angry. Maybe I haven't gotten out of Step Two yet.

The Problems
The soap opera industry is stuck in a rut. There are a hand full of head writers that have run the soaps into the ground and continue to work in the industry. The writers recycle plot lines such as the Tess/Jess/Bess multiple personality storyline which has been done 3 times in the last 5 years and is also just a retelling of the Viki/Niki/Jean multiple personality storyline. Soap operas used to be "love in the afternoon." Writers used to take time to invest the audience in a couple. That is how so many supercouples were created. Now, writers go the Romeo and Juliet route. They throw two people together who after one meeting decide they are in love and every conversation they have after that is about being in love. The writers want and expect them to become a super couple without investing any time into building the relationship. Even most sitcoms nowadays invest time in their couples. Soap operas have gotten away from what made them great and that is well crafted romances.

A major problem for soap operas is the fact that they have become the butt of jokes. People like continuing story lines. People like romance. But most people feel they are above soap operas. I took many media studies classes in college and people often looked down on soap operas and then said that Grey's Anatomy was their favorite tv show. The powers that be continue to market soap operas to housewives even though they should market it to a wider audience. Soap operas are not that different from comic books. Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars are very popular space operas but soap operas would never be marketed to those crowds.

Oprah said that not enough people are home during the day to watch soap operas, but if she bought them for her network, she could put them on at any time she wanted. But no. She would rather tell me the soap opera is a dying genre. I have to say that Oprah is just plain wrong. Soap operas are not dead yet and they could be revived. But the truth is no one who can wants to do that.

But I'm not going to give up on AMC and OLTL. And I'm certainly not giving up on the soap opera genre. It's been around for nearly 80 years. I know in my heart that these shows could be saved.

Maybe I haven't gotten out of Step One.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


For anyone who has managed to avoid me for the past month, I'll inform you now: the Academy Awards are on Sunday. Everyone who has talked to me already knows this since I won't shut up about them. It's been a couple years since I have been this invested in the Oscars. I don't know why I care so much this year especially since many people think this is one of the most predictable years. I have made some predictions but now I'm going to blog about them so it makes them official.

The Makeup prize will go to The Wolfman because that is how the Academy thinks: "So much makeup therefore it must be the best!"

Alice in Wonderland will pick up awards for Art Direction and Costume Design. Again, this is how the Academy thinks: "So colorful! Must be awarded!"

Inception will win for Sound Editing and Visual Effects. An entire city folded in on itself. The Academy will give Inception the Visual Effects award for the commercial alone.

But The Social Network will win Sound Mixing. The Social Network will also win for Film Editing.

Day and Night will win Animated Short Film because it's Pixar.

Toy Story 3 will win Animated Film to no one's surprise because it's brilliant (and it's Pixar).

Original Screenplay is going to David Seidler for The King's Speech. Now, I'm very unclear on the Academy's rules for what is an "original" screenplay and what is an "adapted" screenplay. David Seidler had to do research for this screenplay. I mean, he didn't create the character of King George VI. But it's an "original" screenplay? At least it isn't competing against The Social Network...

Because Aaron Sorkin is winning Adapted Screenplay for The Social Network. He's won just about every award he could (and has professed his love for Mark Zuckerberg in every acceptance speech). I think the best part of The Social Network was the script and if it wins nothing else, it will win this...

But I think The Social Network will also pick up Original Score. It's score is "new" and "innovative" and the Academy likes to prove that they're hip every once and a while.

Original Song is going to "We Belong Together" by Randy Newman from Toy Story 3. Randy Newman has one Oscar for Monsters, Inc. He should have won for Toy Story and the Academy knows it. They will make up for that by giving him an Oscar for Toy Story 3.

True Grit was absolutely gorgeous and will win for Cinematography. Whenever someone asks me about True Grit, that's what I tell them. It's simply gorgeous. This will be the only award for True Grit.

Despite her personal For Your Consideration campaign, Melissa Leo will win Supporting Actress for The Fighter. The Academy loves nothing more than an overbearing mother.

The Fighter will win one other award. That one will be Supporting Actor for Christian Bale. The Fighter definitely feels like his film more than Mark Wahlberg's film. Christian Bale plays a sympathetic drug addict. That screams Oscar.

Everyone in the Kodak Theatre is going to pretend to be surprised when Best Actor goes to Colin Firth for The King's Speech. He's going to win and that's that.

If there is any surprise of the night, it will be in the Best Actress race. This one is going to Annette Bening. Now, I despised The Kids Are All Right but Annette Bening is way overdue for an Oscar. The Academy knows this and will add her to the list of people who received "we're sorry we didn't give this to you sooner" Oscars.

The Social Network's David Fincher was a sure thing for Best Director, but then The King's Speech's Tom Hooper won the Director's Guild Award. But then David Fincher won the BAFTA for Best Director and he's back to being a sure thing. I mean, if the British give the award to David Fincher, surely the Americans will too.

And finally, the Best Picture race. The consensus seems to be that this is a two horse race between The King's Speech (the sure thing) and The Social Network (the former sure thing). The King's Speech became the sure thing after a backlash against The Social Network. I predict a backlash against The King's Speech leaving The Social Network to take the top prize. A real shock would be a third film winning it, but that seems unlikely (but if it does happen it will be True Grit because the Academy loves the Coen brothers).

For anyone keeping score, here's how my predictions break down:
The Social Network: 6
The King's Speech: 2
The Fighter: 2
Toy Story 3: 2
Inception: 2
Alice in Wonderland: 2
True Grit: 1
The Kids Are All Right: 1

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Calm down, Buffy fans!

Full disclosure: I'm a fairly new Buffy fan. My mom and I started watching the DVDs a few years ago and loved it. I'll admit that we have stalled and have to finish the 6th and 7th season. But I do love what I have watched. Besides Buffy, I'm a fan of Joss Whedon. Firefly was fantastic. Dr. Horrible was awesome. I never really got into Dollhouse, but I'm not sure that was Joss Whedon's fault. What I'm saying is Joss Whedon is great at what he does. I can't wait to see what he gives us next. There I got that off my chest, so let's talk about the Buffy reboot now.

I kinda thought we were over talking about this but then I saw this post. I know reboots are a sensitive topic and most people are predisposed to hate them but let's look at this rationally.

1. I thought Joss Whedon was using irony in his statement and being very classy about it. Maybe I was wrong.
2. Don't we want Buffy to beat Edward? As a community, Buffy fans have been pretty hard on Twilight fans. A Buffy reboot would be the way to show them the error of their ways and get them interested in the Buffy TV show.
3. As much as I would love a Buffy movie starring the cast from the TV show, aren't some of them getting a little old. I think it's time to let go.

I do see the point that Hollywood has run out of ideas and just keeps using established ideas that are not that old. It's fair to be upset about that, but let's also remember the recent reboots of Batman and Star Trek that were pretty good. I'm not saying the movie is going to be good. Just wait until it's actually made before declaring it a terrible movie.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I regret that I have but one night to spend at w00tstock

I've been trying to find a single word that can express my experience at w00tstock (which was over a month and a half ago but I'm a procrastinator) other than "awesome" because that's a pretty obvious choice. Since I can't find one word to express my w00tstock experience, I will use many words. Many, many words.

A few months ago, right around the time that I was thinking "I wish w00tstock would come to Chicago," I read on Wil Wheaton's blog that w00tstock would be coming to Chicago and I let out a high pitched scream. If you know me, then you probably know that I am not one to let out a high pitched scream, but I assure you that on that day I did. I told Carrie she should go with me. She had no clue what w00tstock was so I told her that Adam Savage would be there and then sent her a link to the first part of The Captain's Wife's Lament from one of the v1.x w00tstocks. After watching the video, she agreed to go with me. Tickets were bought. Expectations were high.

It truly was an awesome night. In every sense of the word. Have you ever had one of those experiences when you are watching something and you know that what you are watching is special. That other people are going to be jealous of you because you witnessed this live. This was one of those experiences for me. It was beautiful. I'm not sure that I can appropriately describe what was beautiful about the night. This might be one of those "you had to be there" times, but I'll try.

Carrie and I arrived at Park West at about 6:45. It had started pouring rain at about 6:30 so we took refuge in a Subway down the block. We were also hungry so that worked out very well. When we arrived at Park West, we promptly found seats sufficiently close to the stage. I bought a shirt. It made me happy.

At approximately 7:30 Wil Wheaton gave his introduction that I wish I had recorded with my brand new camcorder but I didn't know how long the battery would last and I assumed there would be lots of things that I needed to record later (spoiler warning: I was right). Anyway, Wil Wheaton said a little bit about every guest for the night and then introduced the opening band Paul and Storm who also happened to be the closing band. They sang Opening Band. When they got to the line "And, sad to say, as of today no panties have been thrown," someone threw a pair of underwear onstage. I'm pretty sure it was the guy who was sitting behind me or someone not to far away. So Paul and Storm had to do a quick rewrite of that line.

Everything else blends together so I'm not really sure what order it all happened in. Pay no attention to the order of events as they are laid out here. This will be a nonlinear blog post.

A custom poster was being drawn onstage by Len Peralta. It was extra fun to watch his reactions to all the performers. I didn't buy the poster that night but I ended up suffering from non-buyer's remorse and ordered it. I think I made the right choice.

Molly Lewis was absolutely adorable. She sang a songs about being a surrogate mother for Stephen Fry and breaking up with wikipedia. Also, she plays the ukulele. She had a theory about the weather that night and how it did not start raining until all the nerds were gathered in one place. She vowed to do further testing on the theory and then use it to take over the world. Did I mention that she is adorable.

Tim Cavanaugh sang some very hilarious songs. My personal favorite was the commercial jingle for a Bible Outlet (which makes sense since I am an advocate for commercial jingles and I love Catholic humor).

Foxtrot creator Bill Amend showed us a bunch of his awesome comics as well as geeky parodies of other comic strips. He talked about Wil Wheaton crashing his website. Wil Wheaton tried to crash his website again. I realize it doesn't really sound funny but it was hysterical.

I'm not going to lie to you, Marge: Wil Wheaton was the reason that I bought a ticket to w00tstock. Wil Wheaton is usually the reason that I do a lot of things. Wil Wheaton read the story from Happiest Days of Our Lives (one of the few Wil Wheaton books that I do not own) about losing his Rocky Horror Picture Show virginity. It's such an appropriate story to tell at an event like w00tstock. It's about a shared experience among people who dress up like their favorite characters and know all the lines to the movie. Yeah, that kind of sounds like us. If you want to see it, it is all over YouTube.

Peter Sagal delivered a legendary performance. I apparently was the only person that took video or at least was the only person who shared my video on YouTube. I'll admit that I may have not taken the video except that Paul loves Peter Sagal and could not go to w00tstock so whatever Peter Sagal was going to do, I was going to film it for Paul. It was a wise decision. One of the reasons that it was so fantastic is that Peter Sagal never once acknowledged that he was Peter Sagal from Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me. He was just a henchman at an open mic night. It was awesome.

Adam Savage told a very NSFW story about his first time in Chicago. He also sang I Will Survive as Gollum which you can find all over YouTube.

The opening band returned. Paul and Storm closed out the night. They sang Nunfight. I do love Catholic humor. They also sang Frogger!: The Frogger Musical which is a personal favorite of mine.

At the very end, Adam Savage and Wil Wheaton returned to the stage to sing The Captain's Wife's Lament which was epic. Carrie and I really only could stay for what I call the pre-game show of the song. I laughed so hard. But, alas, we needed to catch a train at 12:40 which seemed reasonable when the show started at 7:30 and was billed as 3 hours of geeks and music. As it was approaching 4 and 1/2 hours, Carrie and I left but thanks to the wonders of the internet I have been able to see the end of the song. It was so funny that I wept.

Eternal Arr from Dan Coulter on Vimeo.

The night was amazing. I do wish that I could have gotten Wil Wheaton to sign my paper that I wrote on Stand By Me as a road movie. I guess I just need to go to PAX.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Because Gummy Bears and Dr. Pepper Aren't Spilling Out Into the Ocean or Why I Won't Boycott My Local BP

Over the past few days on Twitter, I have seen many calls for boycotts of BP due to the oil spill. There are some boycotts that are necessary to change the world. This BP boycott is not one of them.

All I've heard is that I'm supposed to boycott BP. So, should I not buy gas from BP or should I not buy anything at all from them? Is buying a 2 liter of Dr. Pepper going to kill sea life on the Gulf coast?

I've also seen a list of other gas stations that I'm supposed to boycott because they buy oil from BP. I have not seen any big movement to stop using gas because it is harmful to the Earth. All I have seen is a call for boycotts of BP oil and that's not really helping the Earth if you're just going to get it from somewhere else.

Hearing about all these calls for boycotts only makes me want to spend more money at my local BP. Why? Because it's my local BP. It's just a franchise which someone, who does not have anything to do with the oil spill, owns. This is the person who is going to lose money from a boycott not the CEO of BP. So all the big deal people at BP lose a couple million dollars while the local franchise owners go bankrupt because the idealistic people out there believe that they can make BP pay for this disaster by boycotting their gas stations.

What it comes down to is this: The damage has already been done. BP has to fix the situation. Boycotting BP is not going to get it done any faster and its only going to hurt small business owners.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bea Arthur!

On this day in 1922, Bea Arthur was born.

Did you know that Bea Arthur was the original Yente the Matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof. The role that I tend to think of as being played by a short, stumpy lady was originated by the tall, skinny Bea Arthur. What couldn't that woman do?

As today should be a day of celebration in honor of Bea Arthur, I suggest celebrating by watching these videos.

Bosom Buddies from Mame

The Star Wars Holiday Special

I Got You Babe from Golden Girls

Sex and the City parody from TV Land

Golden Girls Theme

A Tribute to Bea Arthur using the final scene from Golden Girls

The Best of Bea

Don't Rain on My Parade

And then there's Maude

Do the Urkel! (Thank you, YouTube, from the bottom of my heart).

Bea Arthur reads from Pam Anderson's book (NSFW)