2012 Oscar Predictions (Part One)

BEST PICTURE – THE ARTIST

Thanks to changes in the voting system, the Best Picture category only has nine nominees this year, not the ten we’ve all been accustomed to since 2010.  Nevertheless, dramas remain the most prevalent genre singled out, as usual.

Right away, you can eliminate the World War I-era War Horse.  Director Steven Spielberg isn’t going to get a make-good for Saving Private Ryan’s snub in 1999.  (The overrated Shakespeare In Love pulled the big Best Picture upset that year.)  Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life, which received mostly enthusiastic critical praise back in the spring, is a real long shot, as well.

Many have complained about the inclusion of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, the Tom Hanks drama about a son who loses his father on 9/11.  Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, critics were divided in their assessments.  It doesn’t stand a chance.

The Descendants may have won a Golden Globe for Best Picture Drama but so did Avatar in 2010 and The Social Network in 2011.  Did either of them go on to win the Best Picture Oscar?  Nope and nope.  (The Hurt Locker and The King’s Speech were the actual victors in those respective years.)  George Clooney and company will have to be content with the nomination and their meaningless bowling trophy.

A Woody Allen film hasn’t won Best Picture since Annie Hall in 1978.  The well-reviewed and surprisingly popular Midnight In Paris (the most commercially successful feature in the neurotic one’s long career with nearly 60 million in domestic revenue) had a good run back in the summer but the nomination will be its sole reward.

That leaves us with The Artist, The Help, Moneyball and Hugo, the real contenders for the top gong.

Moneyball got tremendous reviews (a 95% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes) and made over 100 million in international ticket sales doubling its original budget.  (It also boasts a script co-written by Oscar winners Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network).)

Despite receiving a 94% fresh rating from RT, Hugo has been an enormous commercial flop thus far.  (Made for almost 200 million, it’s only earned back 86 million worldwide.)  On the other hand, The Help had a lower approval rating from critics (only 76% fresh) and earned more than 200 million worldwide.

But as Roger Ebert as pointed out on more than one occasion over the years, academy members vote for the Best Picture of the year with their hearts.  On that criteria alone, it’s hard to see Moneyball swooping in and making the steal.  Martin Scorsese’s The Departed won this category five years ago (having finally screened it last year, I understand why) and while it would be tempting to give him another BP trophy to make up for all those snubs he had to endure before 2007, I don’t see lightning striking twice.

Made for just 25 million dollars, The Help went on to become an enormous summer blockbuster and despite some controversy, was mostly loved by audiences and reviewers.  It has a very good chance of taking the prize.

But I believe the academy will choose The Artist instead.  Of all the nominated films, it got the best reviews (a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes).  Although it’s only playing on roughly 900 screens at the moment, it’s already made 16 million in North America (21 million more overseas), a decent amount for an old-school art film.  And it’s the most unique entry on this list:  a silent film mostly shot in black and white.

It’s done very well on the awards circuit already and it likely has a stronger nostalgia factor about the early days of cinema going for it than Hugo.  For the first time in 83 years and the second time in history, a silent film is going to snag the top Academy Award.

The Artist for Best Picture.

BEST DIRECTOR – Michel Hazanavicius (THE ARTIST)

Last year, I made a colossal fuck-up.  I picked David Fincher to win this category for The Social Network.  Shortly after making this prediction public, I realized too late that Tom Hooper had won the Directors Guild Of America prize for helming The King’s Speech.  Why does this matter?  Because roughly 90% of the time you win a DGA gong, you go on to win the Oscar.  Sure enough, Hooper beat Fincher at last year’s Academy Awards and I felt like an ass.

I won’t let that happen again.  At the 2012 DGA ceremony, Michel Hazanavicius won for making The Artist.  That means previous Best Director winners Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen shouldn’t expect their names to be called.  That also means two-time nominees Alexander Payne and Terrence Malick will continue their losing streaks.

Michel Hazanavicius for Best Director.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Man Or Muppet (THE MUPPETS)

Has there ever been a year where this category was literally a coin flip?  On one side, you have the heavily percussive Real In Rio from the animated Rio.  On the other, the 70s-style Elton Johnesque ballad Man Or Muppet from The Muppets.  While the former has high energy and wouldn’t be out of place in a Carabana festival, it’s hard to imagine the academy not being simultaneously amused and moved by the latter.  Ideally, the winner of this category should best represent a key plot point or overall summary of the film it appears in through pure emotion.  That’s why Man Or Muppet, written by one of the guys in Flight Of The Conchords, is the preferable choice this year.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – RANGO

When the nominations for this category were announced, one immediate question came to mind:  where is The Adventures Of Tintin?  The other late December offering from Steven Spielberg (War Horse) shockingly didn’t make the cut despite mostly good reviews.  Nevertheless, a number of well-liked films did make the short list.

The popular Kung Fu Panda 2 will meet the same fate as Kung Fu Panda did three years ago.  It won’t win.  Neither will the Shrek spin-off, Puss In Boots.  The French feature, A Cat In Paris, is a curious selection considering it’s never been issued in a North American cinema for a proper commercial run.  And the Spanish offering, Chico And Rita, despite garnering a 94% fresh rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, is so unknown compared to most of the other nominees here it doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.

That leaves Rango which benefits not only from strong reviews (an 88% fresh rating) and not being a sequel or a spin-off but also plenty of familiarity (it made over 120 million in theatres last spring).  Unless there’s a late surge of votes for Kung Fu Panda 2 (which I can’t see happening), the cowardly chameleon will have his day.

Rango for Best Animated Feature.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, January 30, 2012
4:42 p.m.

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Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 4:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

The 1% President

Speaking the language of the common man
While overseeing the destruction of Afghanistan
Laughing off the competition knowing full well
That cowardly liberals are still under his spell

He talks a good game, he always has
When you lack substance you have to jack up the pizzazz
What else can he do to appease those disappointed faces
Other than assassinate “terrorists” in Middle Eastern places

He’s mainstreamed hatred for a single group
While allowing his minions to illegally snoop
But because the victims of war are mostly brown
The lack of outrage makes the loudest sound

The silence drowns out the millions crying in pain
So much wasted energy that’s all in vain
They’re still isolated in cages like beaten rats
A policy endorsed by Republicans and Democrats

He misleads the hopeful, especially the young
Selling them the equivalent of a pile of dung
Behind the fake smile is a ruthless John Gotti
There isn’t a liberal bone in his paranoid body

He forgot about openness as he hides behind walls
Thankfully the leakers have got him right by the balls
They must not be allowed to hold him to account
Or their years in prison will be the highest amount

He fears all the exposure will tarnish his brand
Unlike the atrocities he condones in the Persian sand
So he targets the weak and the defiantly outspoken
Threatening their freedom by making their lives utterly broken

He offers tough talk about taxing the rich
And prosecuting Wall Street for their bait and switch
But after three years in office he hasn’t followed through
That’s just his way of telling the law, “Fuck you!”

All the while pretending that he’s just one of us
Foolishly believing that we just got off the bus
But our memories are long and our patience spent
One day he might admit he’s The 1% President

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
11:26 p.m.

Published in: on January 25, 2012 at 11:26 pm  Comments (1)  

Availability Of 2012 Oscar-Nominated Films On DVD

The nominations for the 84th annual Academy Awards were announced this morning and, as always, only one question really needs to be asked:  how many of the nominated movies are available on DVD?

Right now, you can see Moneyball, The Help, Midnight In Paris, The Tree Of Life, Bridesmaids, Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2, Beginners, the 2011 version of Jane Eyre, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hollows Part 2, Rio, The Ides Of March, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Real Steel, Hell And Back Again, A Better Life, If A Tree Falls: A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front, Warrior, and Margin Call by making a trip to a retailer or rental outlet near you.

As for Hugo, A Separation, The Artist, Pina, War Horse, The Adventures Of Tintin, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, The Iron Lady, My Week With Marilyn and the remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, you can currently catch them all in theatres.  As of this writing, no DVD release dates have been scheduled for any of these titles.

Also coming soon to a theatre near you:  Albert Nobbs (going wide January 27), W.E. (February 3), Undefeated (February 10), In Darkness (February 10), Chico & Rita (February 10 re-release), Footnote (March 9) and Monsieur Lazhar (April).  Please note:  the last six titles listed are only getting a limited release.

The following films are headed to DVD in the near future:  Drive (January 31), Anonymous (February 7), Puss In Boots (February 24), The Descendants (March 13), The Muppets (March 20), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (March 20).

The only nominated features not scheduled for release in a North American cinema or on home video are Bullhorn, A Cat In Paris and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory.  (However, that last title can currently be seen on HBO.)

As in past years, if new information becomes available I’ll do my best to update this piece.  The 84th annual Academy Awards are handed out Sunday, February 26.  Let the prognosticating begin!

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
3:31 p.m.

UPDATE:  Martin Scorsese’s Hugo will be available in three different DVD editions on February 28.  There’s the standard DVD, the 2D Blu-ray combo pack and the 3D Blu-ray combo pack.  The Adventures Of Tintin will offer the same options when it comes out on March 13.  Also out that day are My Week With Marilyn (Blu-ray combo only) and Canadian Best Foreign Film nominee Monsieur Lazhar (both the Blu-ray version and standard edition).  The Iron Lady arrives April 10 and The Artist drops May 8.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, February 9, 2012
2:05 p.m.

UPDATE 2:  The release date for The Artist has changed.  It will now drop April 24.  Meanwhile, David Fincher’s acclaimed remake, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, is out March 20 and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is due March 27.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, February 19, 2012
1:59 p.m.

UPDATE 3:  War Horse arrives on DVD in multiple versions April 3 and Albert Nobbs will be released May 15, according to comingsoon.net.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, February 25, 2012
1:47 p.m.

UPDATE 4:  Madonna’s directorial debut, W.E., will be arriving on DVD on May 1.  Best Foreign Film nominee In Darkness is out on June 12.  Once again, The Artist’s release date has changed.  The 2012 Best Picture winner is now scheduled to drop on June 26, the very same day that Pina surfaces.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, April 13, 2012
11:38 p.m.

UPDATE 5:  Best Foreign Film nominee Footnote is scheduled to be released on DVD on July 24.  Chico & Rita, which was nominated for Best Animated Feature, finally drops on September 18.  Meanwhile, George over at the Remote Access Blog is wondering when A Separation, the highly acclaimed Iranian picture that won the Best Foreign Film gong, is finally going to be available on DVD in North America.  Right now, the only way to see it on home video is if you have a Blu-Ray player that plays Region 2 DVDs (which are released domestically in the UK).  As of this writing, there is still no official Region 1 release date scheduled.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
12:48 a.m.

UPDATE 6:  Best Documentary Feature nominee Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory drops on August 14th.  (The entire trilogy will be repackaged in a box set for release on November 6th.)  Meanwhile, A Separation finally arrives in North American video stores on August 21st.  George will be happy.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, July 28, 2012
1:37 a.m.

Published in: on January 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm  Comments (2)  

What Happened To America?

What happened to America?
Once the land of the free
Now the creeping stench of fascism
Has exposed its hypocrisy
The mass media and the government
Co-conspirators deeply embedded
Human rights don’t matter anymore
The constitution’s shredded

What happened to America?
Once the home of the brave
Now it hides its real agenda
To make the world its obedient slave
With violence and paranoia
It rules with an iron fist
The innocent can only take so much
Before becoming extremely pissed

What happened to America?
Formerly the land of milk and honey
It’s been raped by politicians
And corrupted by Big Money
The middle class continually squeezed
The poor left out in the cold
By inhumane public policies
That treat them like mold

What happened to America?
Once the land of opportunity
There’s too much bipartisanship
Masquerading as incongruity
The parties agree too much
On breaking the law
They don’t bother to make their case
Their “evidence” made of straw

What happened to America
And its legendary dream?
Its hopes for progress
Once supplied in a steady stream
Now abandoned for the few
Who selfishly want it all
Haven’t they forgotten
That pride comes before the fall?

What happened to America
And its world famous creed?
“Of the people, for the people”
We once all agreed
Now the system is rigged
For those with the cash
While those less fortunate
Lose their homes in a flash

What happened to America
And its reputation worldwide?
We were promised transparency
How quickly that died
Propping up regimes
That loath freedom of choice
Thanks to Wikileaks
The oppressed now have a voice

What happened to America?
Will it ever come back?
Why does the current President
Cut the last one so much slack?
He vigourously campaigned against him
Vowing to be more lawful
But he refused to seek justice
He’s even more awful

What happened to America?
Will it ever be restored?
Will its laws be respected again
Or will they continue to be ignored?
Can it truly make peace
With a humiliated yet proud people
Or will it continue to prey
Upon the defiant and the feeble?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, January 22, 2012
7:21 p.m.

Published in: on January 22, 2012 at 7:21 pm  Comments (3)  

Vultures

Disrespecting ancient cultures
Like domineering, know-nothing vultures
Seizing control of broken dreams
Further poisoning depleted streams

Invading their homes in the middle of the night
Just to cage them in spaces that are far too tight
Denying loud cries to honour their basic needs
Reopening an old wound so hard it still bleeds

They round them all up like profitable cattle
Hoping just one will break down enough to tattle
But they have no valuable information to share
This mass denigration remains their cross to bear

Cruel enforcers of criminal plans
No one can satiate their bloodthirsty demands
Celebrating humiliation at their expense
Abandoning all hope of preserving common sense

Out come the cameras to capture their despair
Permanent evidence of a situation so unfair
Desecrating the murdered for a cheap thrill
Hearing them applauded by the fools on the hill

Patrolling the suburbs in every sector
They’re as warmly welcomed as Hannibal Lecter
Continuing the madness with no end in sight
Forever cloaked in darkness, there is no light

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, January 19, 2012
3:42 p.m.

Published in: on January 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm  Comments (1)  

Mena Suvari, I’m Here For You

You made two trips to the matrimonial plate and struck out both times.  First, there was the much older cinematographer, Robert Brinkmann.  You ended that five-year marriage in the spring of 2005.  Then, you got hitched to Simone Sestito, a concert promoter you met at The Toronto International Film Festival.  Despite a reportedly lavish 2010 ceremony in Vatican City of all places, you recently decided this arrangement wasn’t working for you, either.

Mena Suvari, I’m here for you.  Why keep all that heartbreak to yourself when you can confide in a gentle Canadian who’ll hang on your every word?  Why wallow in sadness when we could share many laughs together?  Why be alone when you can ride the bony express?

If your self-esteem has taken a hit, let me build it back up for you.  I was mesmerized by your very sexy performance in American Beauty, the Academy Award-winning blockbuster from 1999.  You played Thora Birch’s seemingly free-spirited girlfriend who becomes a symbol of lost happiness for her troubled dad, Kevin Spacey.  When your secret is revealed very late in the picture, I was genuinely surprised.  You talked a good game as Angela.

I also enjoyed your work in the first two American Pies, two of the funnier movies I’ve seen in the last couple of decades.  Your portrayal of Heather, the glee club cutie who falls for sensitive jock Chris Klein, is sweet and charming, a complete 180 from American Beauty’s Angela.

Even though it was an inconsistent mess, the romance you inevitably have with Pie co-star Jason Biggs in Loser was the best thing about it (not to forget David Spade’s hilariously unbilled cameo as a video clerk).  It’s too bad your character wastes so much time with sleazy (and married) professor Greg Kinnear and there aren’t as many laughs as there should be.  Whenever you share screen time with that piefucker, you can feel the chemistry.

Speaking of that, good luck with the fourth Pie feature, American Reunion, which is scheduled for release this coming April.  Even though you’re not in American Wedding, I’ll need to see that one before moving on in the franchise.  I’ve had a copy for years and still have not screened it.  (I know.  I’m terrible.)

I’d love to hear you tell old war stories about your modelling days and early acting gigs like the Rice-A-Roni commercial you did as a teen, and the TV work you’ve done on shows like Six Feet Under, Chicago Hope, ER, Boy Meets World, Psych and the recently acclaimed American Horror Story.  I’m also interested in your charity work.  Why are Africa and feminism your primary causes?

Did you really think about becoming an archeologist when you were a kid?  Surely, Indiana Jones played a major role in that.  And how long have you been playing poker?  Texas Hold ‘Em’s my game, as well.  I’ll take you on any time, anywhere, young lady.  Playing heads-up against you would be a real treat.  Since I don’t have any money, we’ll play for clothing.

No matter what, I hope you’ll feel better soon.  Even though this is a difficult time for you personally, I’m sure you’ll pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back to business.

And with that, I leave you with this:

Looking for the cure for your emotional flu?
Mena Suvari, I’m here for you.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, January 15, 2012
3:57 p.m.

Published in: on January 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm  Comments (1)  

Sounds Of Pleasure

You turn it on
It comes to life
Nothing but skin
Fills the screen
Free of blemishes
And self-consciousness
Sounds of pleasure
Reverberate throughout
An audience of one
Takes it all in

But you’re not alone
Hands enter the picture
Slowly sliding
Into undeniable focus
Taking advantage
Of your vulnerability
Lightly grazing
Over your tenderness
Releasing chemical reactions
Not felt in years

Witnessing sensation
On an intimate scale
Exclusive broadcast
Of forbidden sights
Intense spectacle
For the uninitiated
Renewed vigor
For the bored veteran
Exhausting all ideas
Of powerful release

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, January 7, 2012
6:45 p.m.

Published in: on January 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Goodbye, Hello

Goodbye screaming hellions
Hello inner peace

Goodbye pointless rebellions
Hello welcome release

Goodbye wasted years
Hello time well spent

Goodbye useless fears
Hello calm temperament

Goodbye false starts
Hello untapped promise

Goodbye deceitful hearts
Hello Doubting Thomas

Goodbye unrelenting rage
Hello immaculate health

Goodbye minimum wage
Hello hard-earned wealth

Goodbye sad disposition
Hello long-missed smile

Goodbye scary imposition
Hello original style

Goodbye passive existence
Hello outspoken truth

Goodbye stubborn resistence
Hello intrepid sleuth

Goodbye lingering past
Hello resignation

Goodbye suffocating cast
Hello new designation

Goodbye status quo
Hello meticulous scaling

Goodbye interrupted flow
Hello smooth sailing

Goodbye hurtful mistakes
Hello peaceful resolution

Goodbye sarcastic piss-takes
Hello absolution

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, January 7, 2012
6:36 p.m.

Published in: on January 7, 2012 at 6:36 pm  Leave a Comment