Hey there, dorks. We review “Ready Player One,” based on the Ernest Cline novel and directed by Steven Spielberg.
Hey there, dorks. BFF of the show Peter Brown, associate editor of Assignment X, joins us to talk about 1984’s “Sixteen Candles.” Written and directed by John Hughes and starring Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall, this movie was a teen movie staple back in the day. We talk about it with our nostalgia glasses on and off. It’s an interesting discussion about what was acceptable then and now.
Hey there, dorks. Chris Taylor, author of “How Stars Wars Conquered the Universe” joins us to talk about the current state of fandom. It’s a golden age for nerds! We discuss where fandom started, how it is evolving and where it is headed.
Hey there, dorks. Friend of the show Margo D. from Book vs. Movie and Best Neighbors Podcast joins us to talk about 2000’s “The Contender,” starring Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Gary Goldman and a mustache-less Sam Elliott.
Hey there, dorks. What did you think of this year’s Oscars? We check in on our Oscar predictions (spoiler alert: we tied!), and we share our thoughts and feelings about the winners, losers, Jimmy Kimmel, the red carpet interviews, and the acceptance speeches. Oh, and Sonia maybe had a little wine during her Oscar Party … consider yourself warned.
Oh, and can Tiffany Haddish and Maya Ruldolpf host next year?
Hey there, dorks. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s Oscar time! As forever fans of the Academy Awards, we’ve got a respectable track record with our Oscar predictions, and we want to share our god-given talent with you, our favorite people. We offer up our best guesses for all 24 categories, not just the big acting categories.
Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the Academy Awards are Sunday, March 4 at 5 p.m. on ABC. After the show, we will record our thoughts and feelings about what we just saw, and go through our ballots to see how we did. You should join us! It’s fun!
Hey there, dorks. We’re talking about the Oscars in this week’s podcast. FYI: We’ve totally fixed them. Our Oscars are waaaay better. We have three blog posts up detailing the new and improved Academy Awards to go along with the podcast.
Part 3: The 2018 Oscars Winners If the Oscars Did It Right
So, what would the 2018 Oscars look like if we had our way?
As things happen now every year in the last week of January, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announces the nominees for that year’s Oscars, honoring the movies of the previous year.
What follows is a month of speculation and talk about who’s why these people and films were nominated, why those were not, who’s going to win, who should win, and who’s going to be robbed.
Then somewhere in the first week of March (March 4 this year) the Oscars are broadcast and we see who won.
A reasonable question is how do you provide an suspenseful, enjoyable show if everyone nominated gets an award? Where’s the drama of seeing who wins? We do it like this:
In January when nominations are revealed the AMPAS would have their usual announcement but not one person’s name would be mentioned. The only thing unveiled from the podium would be the list of films nominated for SOMETHING.
As we know from 2018’s nominations, Consolata Boyle is nominated for best costume design for “Victoria and Abdul.” So in our scenario the public would know “Victoria and Abdul” is on the list, but not know for what. Boyle’s name would be unmentioned. People seeing the “Victoria and Abdul” entry would naturally wonder does that mean Judy Dench’s performance as Victoria is in the Best Actress Category? Did the great dresses get Consolata Boyle a nomination? Best score? What?! TELL US!
Better watch March 4 to see. Then, it would be revealed “Victoria and Abdul” was only honored for costumes and make-up.
In 2018’s current nominations, “Blade Runner 2049” is up for special effects. In our Oscars, the public would only see “Blade Runner 2049” is on the list and was nominated for SOMETHING. Special effects? Harrison Ford as an old Rick Deckard? Is Roger Deakins finally going to get his richly deserved cinematography award? Who knows.
Better watch March 4 to see.
Hey look, “Get Out” is on the list. Think it was for make-up or sound design? Probably, because when was the last time a writer or director was nominated for a horror film? Jordan Peele probably got shut out.
But better watch March 4 because… who knows?
Under these guidelines, the 2018 Oscar Nominees would be these. We’re including documentary and short films because they’re filmmaking too damnit show some respect you celebrity chasing click-monsters!… And now the nominees for the 2018 Oscars Done Right:
All the Money in the World Baby Driver Beauty and the Beast Blade Runner 2049 Call Me by Your Name Coco Darkest Hour Dear Basketball DeKalb Elementary Dunkirk Edith+Eddie Faces Places A Fantastic Woman Ferdinand Garden Party Get Out Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 Heroin(e) I Tonya Icarus Knife Skills Kong: Skull Island Lady Bird Last Men in Aleppo Logan Lou Loveless Loving Vincent
All the Money in the World
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Call Me by Your Name
A Fantastic Woman
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Kong: Skull Island
Last Men in Aleppo
My Nephew Emmett
On Body and Soul
Roman J. Israel Esq.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Big Sick, The
Boss Baby, The
Disaster Artist, The
Eleven O’Clock, The
Florida Project, The
Greatest Showman, The
Shape of Water, The
Silent Child, The
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Victoria and Abdul
War for the Planet of the Apes
Watu Wote/All of Us
Who would win? You HAVE TO WATCH. And for Hollywood, there would be NO way for actors, directors and directors to know if they had won except for simply showing up.
In a town full of fabulous egos, Oscar night would go from an occasion where 20 actors show up because they know they’re nominated to a night where thousands actors show up because that tiny ego voice in their head told them maybe, possibly, probably they’re going to get an Oscar.
The drama of revealing the five best actors or five best actresses would be like watching the ‘…And the Oscar goes to …” moment times 20. This year, Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan would win.
In three hours Jordan Peele would go from half of a comedy duo with a cancelled Comedy Central show to an Oscar-winning writer and director in one evening.
It would be pandemonium. It would wash all politics off Twitter for a few hours. It would be fantastic TV.
So, after all this, what might the Oscars look like if they did it our way?
The Dorking Out-Style 2018 Oscar Award Winners:
Get Out Retro Oscar: Zodiac Action/Adventure: Baby Driver Dunkirk John Wick 2 Children’s films: Coco Paddington 2 Comedy: The Big Sick The Disaster Artist Logan Lucky Comic Book Films: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Logan Spiderman: Homecoming Thor: Ragnarok Wonder Woman Drama: Call Me By Your Name I, Tonya Lady Bird The Phantom Thread Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
John Wick 2
The Big Sick
The Disaster Artist
Comic Book Films:
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Call Me By Your Name
The Phantom Thread
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Last Men in Aleppo
Battle of the Sexes
The Darkest Hour
The Disaster Artist
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
The Greatest Showman
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes
As you can see, this method honors the best movies, but also produces useful lists for both casual and ardent moviegoers of movies they may enjoy but missed.
How would the other major categories shake out? Well, we wouldn’t be limited to five nominees per category. Ten years ago, the Academy expanded their nominees in the Best Picture category, but instead of including a variety of movies, they just nominate more of the same Oscar-bait movies they always nominate.
Our categories are flexible. Maybe there’s just one performance, maybe there’s five. Maybe there’s six directors, maybe even more.
And, we’d recognize more performance such as Bob Odenkirk from “The Post” or Algee Smith in “Detroit.”
It would look like this:
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out Lead Actor (Historical Character): Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour Tom Hanks, The Post Algee Smith, Detroit Lead Actress (Fictional Character): Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird Lead Actress (Historical Character): Margot Robbie, I, Tonya Meryl Streep, The Post Supporting Actor (Fictional Character): Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Mark Hamill, Star Wars: The Last Jedi Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Lead Actor (Historical Character):
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Tom Hanks, The Post
Algee Smith, Detroit
Lead Actress (Fictional Character):
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Lead Actress (Historical Character):
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Meryl Streep, The Post
Supporting Actor (Fictional Character):
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Mark Hamill, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Bob Odenkirk, The Post
Supporting Actress (Fictional Character):
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
Supporting Actress (Historical Character):
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro
Kathryn Bigelow, Detroit
Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman
We think that about covers it. We could dive into each category, but as things shape up now, we feel confident the nominees-get-oscars system is perfect for the all the technical awards, the costumes, music, etc. For some reason, those categories are usually pretty spot-on anyway.
Let’s also wrap up by acknowledging our changes don’t fix the disparate appearance of women and filmmakers of color. That’s because Hollywood is famously AWFUL at hiring woman and filmmakers of color. The Oscars can only nominate what movies get released.
The studios and production houses decide who gets the opportunity to make a movie. Go yell at them (2017 especially has revealed MANY of them have it coming).
We’ll be discussing this on an episode of our podcast. You can find the show HERE and the episode HERE.
Now go tell the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and thanks for reading.
Tease them as we like, critics are great because they call out bullshit.
One of the best arguments they have against the Oscars is the absurd spectacle of so many movies with different goals, methods, audiences and tones being shoved into one category: Best Picture.
How are we supposed to choose between “Pulp Fiction” and “Forrest Gump?” What aspect of filmmaking or human experience helps you choose between “Hidden Figures” and “The Arrival?” “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity?”
The critics are right. We just can’t, so let’s stop.
According to the film data researcher Stephen Fellow’s great blog in 2016, there were 736 films released in U.S. theaters. That’s TWICE what it was just in 2000.
So if a drama or comedy or horror or science fiction film finds itself in the best picture category, chances are they’re the best drama or comedy or horror or science fiction film of the year. They’re in the literal top 1 percent.
That brings us to our first big change:
It might sound strange at first, but if a movie is good enough to be nominated for best picture, it’s good enough for an Oscar. Being nominated really would be the honor.
Yes, yes, this sounds like the worst kind of “everyone gets a prize” mentality, but consider this: There are great years where multiple classics get nominated. They shouldn’t be penalized for some random act of release date.
This is why “Gone with the Wind” has a Best Picture Award but “The Wizard of Oz” does not. What movie had given more to the culture?
This would also stop the ridiculous faux-fights between movies because they both can’t win. If “Moonlight” moved you and you want it to win, how does that make “La La Land” an unforgivable travesty against film? “Unforgiven” and “A Few Good Men” are both the best Hollywood can produce. But because of a quirk of release dates, only Clint Eastwood got the Oscar that year.
And take this year. For my money, “Get Out,” “Lady Bird” and “The Shape of Water” highlight the best film has to offer. They showcase the strange, the touching, the disparate and the bizarre possibilities in film. There is no rational or even emotional way to choose the merits of one over the other.
So let’s just stop. They all deserve to be cherished and if they earn that, they should get a shiny statue if we’re already giving them out.
In Part 1 we’ve established (thanks for the help, Tim) the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has, because of toxic levels of self-importance, narrowed most of film “greatness” to dramas, often about British people. Let’s just stop that too.
So in addition to the best picture category let’s swipe a few items from the Golden Globes, Academy Awards of decades past, and keep just a bit from how the Oscars currently do things.
The Academy already recognizes the meaningful differences between animated films, documentaries, foreign films and English-speaking live action films. In the first Oscars, there was a category for best director of a comedy picture. There was once also best dance direction. The Golden Globes already have the good sense to have a best picture-drama and a best picture-comedy.
Let’s just take these good starts and do what needs to be done. The top five movies in each of these genres would get Oscar recognition:
Children’s Films Comedy Comic Book Drama Documentary
Obviously, some years a few of these categories don’t produce enough watchable movies to justify our wider level of recognition. I suspect the fourth best Western on 2016 or the third best musical of 2017 might not be that great. So, as in years past the Academy could trim those out or have fewer than five nominees. And some might quibble with a full Western or Comic Book category, but these are major American cinema genres which have both shaped the course of this whole industry. They deserve to be recognized.
This set-up would also allow the Academy voters bestow gold on the stuffy British dramas they love so much while the rest of us would get to see worthy entries from the whole kingdom of film recognized.
Now if Oscar traditionalist still want one uber category where films from different genres compete, we suggest this:
Change Best Picture to Film of the Year.
It might seem like a small difference, but films do have their moments. At the time it was released, setting off a wave of enthusiasm and passion, “Titanic” seemed like a film or the ages. While we still defend “Titanic,” it’s safe to say “L.A. Confidential” is a better, more meaningful film. But that’ doesn’t change the reality “Titanic” was THE movie of 1997.
If past Oscars had played along these rules, enduring classics like “Citizen Kane,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Airplane!,” “The Exorcist,” “Star Wars,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “ET: The Extra Terrestrial,” “Gaslight,” “L.A. Confidential” and a bazillion others would have been honored as they should.
Warren Beatty, writer/director/actor, said this about making movies: “I think you don’t really know what you’ve done until 10 or 15 years after a movie.”
We think that’s true, which is why we would like introduce the Retro Oscar, which revisits the movies and performances from a decade earlier.
Like a fine wine, some movies just age better. Best Picture winning “Crash” (2006), for example, has not aged well. “Brokeback Mountain” is a movie that people still talk about. It’s still relevant. Nobody talks about “Crash,” other than “Remember that bullshit when ‘Crash’ beat ‘Brokeback Mountain’ for Best Picture?”
In years past, it’s safe to say “The Wizard of Oz” would have been recognized for the achievement it was in 1949, “Citizen Kane” in 1952, “The Ten Commandments” in 1967, “2001: A Space Odyssey” in 1979, “Raging Bull” in 1990, “Blade Runner” in 1992, “Godfellas” in 2000, L.A. Confidential in 2007, and “The Dark Knight” (not even NOMINATED!) next year.
Let’s go back 10 years …
The Coen Brothers’ terrific “No Country For Old Men” won Best Picture in 2008. That’s a pretty great movie. You know what else was nominated that year: “There Will Be Blood!” So was “Atonement,” “Juno” and “Michael Clayton” (?!) — No one is talking about those movies anymore. Not nominated: “Zodiac,” which has only seen admiration grow for it throughout the decade.
This year’s Retro Oscar would go to “Zodiac.”
One of the reasons we’ve thought so much about this, and invented the Retro Oscar, is because movies age and change and rise in different ways. So let’s take it a step further: The Deca Oscar.
The year after a decade has ended, all the nominees from that decade’s Film of the Year nominees would compete for the Deca Oscar. Different eras are defined by different movies, and this would recognize that in an interesting way. Also, and this is a entertainment industry trade secret, the 100-nominee list for the Deca Oscar would generate more argument and comment, more revisiting and re-evaluating than we can shake Walt Disney’s Oscars at.
Obviously “Gone with the Wind” would take the Deca Oscar at the 1941 Awards. But what film best defined the 1940s? “Casablanca” or “Citizen Kane”? The 1970s is awash in towering classics. Did“Star Wars” epitomize the new direction of film, or “The Godfather” embody the corrupt darkness of the Nixon era?
Let’s look an era closer to us. When the 2001 Oscars rolled around, what film should be honored for the 1990s? In many ways, it was Quentin Tarantino’s decade. Should “Pulp Fiction,” with all its influence, get the Deca Oscar? Of course, “Pulp Fiction” stood on the shoulders of Martin Scorsese, so what about his movie “Goodfellas?” Pixar began its magical run. What about “Toy Story?” Or what about a movie not nominated at all in its year, the legit classic “Groundhog’s Day.”
In 2011, we would the massive spectacle of James Cameron’s “Avatar” exert itself for the movie of the 2000s? Or would the pop culture mixed with terrorism allegory of “The Dark Knight” best embody that time? Would “There Will Be Blood” be recognized, or the superhero movie as family drama “The Incredibles?” And then there’s the next 96 nominees to think about.
That brings us to actors.
While we feel the “top five get awards” change would go a long way to reforming the Oscars into something meaningful, any discussion on fixing all this must include an idea from Stephen Thompson (@idislikestephen), one of the hosts of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour.
As he astutely laid out in their February 9 discussion of Gary Oldman in “The Darkest Hour,” “the Oscars overweigh the art of imitation. When you have an actor come in and do a spot on and heavily prostheticed, perfect imitation of a historic figure, it tends to get treated as more acting instead of what I think it is which is less acting. It’s impersonation. We just had the Grammys. They did not give a Grammy Award for best cover band.”
Think about the absurdity our current five-actors-fight-it-out has led to in the past. In 2012 Meryl Streep won for playing Margret Thatcher in the platonically forgettable “The Iron Lady” while Rooney Mara created an electric and unique performance as Lisbeth Salander in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” How does this look just five years later?
While of course it’s not Streep’s fault for being nominated, of her 21 nominations, almost 30 percent are for playing real people.
This year, what sense does it make to see Margot Robbie’s Tonya Harding performance go up against Sally Hawkins’s mute and lyrical “Shape of Water” turn. Then answer is none.
So rather than dig into the writing/directing/music categories, you an see the idea here. Directors don’t have to fight it out. Scorsese can win for “GoodFellas” and Kevin Costner can win for “Dances with Wolves.”
And look at this: Of the 450 or so people nominated for best directors, women would have five whole Oscars instead of just the one they have now! (Kathryn Bigelow won for “The Hurt Locker” in 2010… that’s the whole winner’s list).
Look, we can’t solve all of Hollywood’s problems in three blog posts.
Now while these changes might make things more fair and reasonable, wouldn’t it make an already boring show thoroughly intolerable and excruciatingly long?
No. If you do it as we suggest, Hollywood tear itself apart with wonder, fear, anticipation, bonkers celebrity excess AND legit artistic achievement. Who doesn’t like that?
How, you ask? That comes in Part 3.