Tag Archives: Academy Awards

Lame Adventure 456: Milton’s Academy Award Predictions

As Lame Adventures’ dedicated following knows, all of you in the ones of tens, my dear friend, Milton, is the consummate cinemaniac. I don’t know anyone else who spends as many hours as he sitting in the dark, watching movies while chowing popcorn and quaffing gallons of diet Coke. Because Milton saw 168 films in 2014, including every picture in every category that received an Oscar nomination, I know that he is highly qualified to predict how tonight will unfold. Therefore, I asked him to compile a list for Lame Adventures of the films that he thinks will win the Academy Award as well as a second list of the films that he thinks deserve to take home the shiny naked gold guy. The middle column is comprised of the films/actors that Milton would reward. The column on the right is how he thinks the Academy will vote.

Predictions based on 14 days of solid filmgoing in 2014.

Predictions based on 14 days (336 hours) of film-going fueled by 3.5 days (84 hours) of refreshment imbibing in calendar year 2014.

For all of you rooting for Eddie Redmayne who stars in The Theory of Everything, Milton has a message:

Milton: Redmayne’s schmaltzy turn as Stephen Hawking will be hard for the Academy to resist. But Keaton deserves this one!

I enthusiastically agree.

Milton has an impressive track record of determining how the Academy voters will cast their ballot. For fans of Boyhood, he thinks you will be disappointed. For fans of Birdman (Milton, My Boss and me), he thinks we’ll be pleased.

One last bit of Milton Academy Award-time madness that is now tradition: at his workplace he treats his colleagues to a chocolate layer cake inscribed with a message to an actor or actress he’s cheering.

Go Birdman!

Go Birdman!

Milton is a one very popular guy.

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Lame Adventure 454: The Black Hole of Film-going

My friend Milton saw 168 films in 2014. I barely saw 35. My film-going energy is not what it was when I would see two or three films every week. In recent years, I have developed film-going apathy. So many movies are disappointing and tickets here in New York cost about $15. Some theaters offer discounts before noon, but I’d rather power sleep on my weekend than watch Selma at 9 am for $8.49.

Great cast. Zero interest in this.

Great cast. Zero interest in this.

The Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, February 22nd. Thus far, I have seen half of the films nominated for Best Picture: The Grand Budapest Hotel (on a plane for free), The Imitation Game at a test screening (also for free), Birdman and this past weekend, The Theory of Everything. Milton has told me that if I set up my DVD player, he will order the Best Picture nominee, Boyhood, using his Netflix account. We have been having this conversation for a month, but I have yet to set up my player. Why I have been dragging my heels on doing this, when I purchased a flat screen TV last July, confounds him. When I think about figuring out what plug goes where, I want to take a nap.

Last week, a fairly new friend wanted to get together with me this weekend. She suggested that we play ping-pong. Clearly, she does not know me that well yet. Because I sorely lack any ping in my pong, I suggested that we see a film instead and listed several nominated for Academy Awards. We settled on The Theory of Everything that has five nominations: Best Picture, Actor (Eddie Redmayne), Best Actress (Felicity Jones), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score.

We decided to go on Saturday, when it was frigid cold.

It felt much colder than 24 degrees.

It felt much colder than 24 degrees.

The multiplex we were seeing it at, the AMC Lincoln Square 13, is near my sanctum sanctorum. I hightailed down to the theater to buy our tickets in advance. The first thing I noticed was a tent outside the theater indicating that there was going to be a premier screening.

Tent city.

Tent city.

When I entered the theater, the lobby was so crowded, it posed a challenge to find the end of the ticket buying line. Two older women appeared to be standing at the end of the line, so I approached them. They insisted that the end was at another line. I moved to the end of that line. As I’m standing in this other line, they gesture at me.

Women: Come back! You’re in the wrong line!

I return to where I was first standing. They explain that the line they directed me to was for customers who had bought their tickets on the web. What incited that revelation eluded me, but I thanked them for realizing their mistake. A guy they’re with, who has a head similar to a packing crate, scowls.

Women: People behind us are mad that you’re cutting the line.

The only person who is mad is Cratehead, who surfaced after they insisted that I move. Was I cutting when I returned? These dingbats misguided me into losing my place. But I can tell that steaming Cratehead is the type who if he were a car, he’d be a Ford Pinto i.e., you rear-end him and he explodes. This was not a battle I wanted to fight. Once again I left the line in search of the end. When I finally purchased my tickets, the clerk rings up $29.98. I hand her $40.

Me: Why doesn’t the theater just charge $15 a ticket?

Clerk: I’d like to know that, too. Sometimes, it’s a pain making change.

She hands me a ten and two pennies. I figure that it’s retail psychology: charging that penny less to fool the buyer into thinking that the ticket price is $14, instead of the inflated $15. If anything, that 99 cents makes me more aware of the ruse.

As I’m leaving the theater, I notice a clerk with the crew setting up for the event. I ask what’s being screened tonight. She explains that the crew is breaking down.

Clerk: The screening was last night.

Me: What film was that?

Gala screening with Spongebob. Glad I missed it.

Gala screening with Spongebob. Glad I missed it.

This does explain why the red carpet was yellow.

This does explain why the red carpet was yellow.

The Theory of Everything reminded me of why I see so few films. It’s a standard uplifting paint-by-numbers biopic. The subject is acclaimed theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, who was stricken with motor neuron disease while a graduate student at Cambridge, but he beats the odds of succumbing to his plight through his marriage to Jane, who was instrumental to his survival and his success. Whenever the film strayed from the travails of Jane bolstering Stephen and tried to explain Hawking’s work, discovering the origin of time, I had difficulty grasping what any of that was about or why it matters to my existence when I have to struggle to simply find the end of a ticket buying line. I left the theater feeling dumber than when I entered, but the acting was good.

I will never spend my shekels on this.

I will never spend my shekels on this.

Lame Adventure 284: Handicapping the Oscars Lame Adventures-style

The buff guy's back.

First thing this morning (I was still in bed in a semi-coma), my four-days-shy-of-85 year-old father called.

Me (groggy):  Hey Dad.

Dad (enthusiastic): Who’s gonna win the Oscars tonight?  Don’t tell me you were sleeping – get the hell up!

Me: Probably The Artist.

Dad:  I saw The Artist.  I liked it!  I’m okay with that.  I also liked The Descendants and I liked Hugo; didn’t think I’d like that one, but I did!  It was damn good!  Did you see it?  Did you like it?

Me: Yes and no.

My father, as usual, ignores my response.

Dad: Did you see Iron Lady?  Meryl Streep was terrific!  But I hated that movie!  She should win it, but if you ask me, I’d also give it to that one that played in The Maid.  She was terrific, too!  And that was a damn good film!

Me (perking up):  You mean Viola Davis in The Help, right?

Dad: Yes!  The Help!  Did I call it The Maid?  [Insert aging male growling sound before getting second wind.] I like her!  Give it to her and the other one.

My buddy Milton shows his support for Viola with cake!

Me:  Octavia Spencer?

Dad:  Who?!  I’m talking about the other maid – the one that baked that pie!

Me:  I know who you’re referring to!  That actress’s name is Octavia Spencer!  She’s up for Supporting Actress.

Dad:  Oh!  Good.  Yeah, give it to her.  That way they both get one.  They deserve it.

Me:  Let’s hope our memo reaches the Academy in time.

Again, my father ignores me.

Dad:  Do you think George Clooney’s gonna get it?  I thought he was great!

Me:  It might go to Jean Dujardin, the guy in The Artist.

Dad:  You know what?  I’m okay with that!  I liked him, too.

Me: It’s between them [murmuring] and Uggie.

My father ignores me and changes the subject.

Classy lassie flaunting her unique brand of Oscar fever.

Post-script: For you serious Oscar-types, my dear buddy, Milton, sitting in his East Side man cave, has wrapped his noggin around this subject in a big way.  Check out his site and see if you agree with his opining.  Start an argument or send him cake!

Lame Adventure 17: Shiny Naked Gold Guys

The only major television event that regularly excites me is the Academy Awards.  This is a bit perverse since I am seldom excited by most mainstream movies and that is the predominant fare that rules this extended tribute the film industry pays itself annually.  Yet, I am what I am, a film-whore.  Although I’ve seen nine of the ten Best Picture nominees (only missed District 9), no commercial films released in 2009 blew me away including Avatar (but I will admit a soft spot for Up since it made me think of my widower father, plus I liked the chubby Asian Boy Scout and the dogs).  I am not such a snob that I failed to recognize this box office titan as highly entertaining and worthy of its nominations, but as the ending credits rolled, I wondered, “Huh, what will the kids look like?”  Since it sounds like James Cameron is going to create a sequel, I guess I’ll get to find out.  Woo hoo.

Every so often, a fluke that annoys the masses, but impresses me, does get award-winning recognition.  In recent years, friendo, it was No Country for Old Men.  Usually, I’m apoplectic about some poor choice, like Crash stealing Best Picture from the far more worthy Brokeback Mountain.  I can feel my blood pressure rise just typing that sentence. Even my father and boss were scratching their heads over that one.  Yet, if Avatar is the big winner on Sunday, I do not anticipate anyone needing to call 9-1-1 for an ambulance on my behalf.  Ideally, I would like to see Kathryn Bigelow win Best Director for The Hurt Locker.  She’s the first woman nominated for directing that deserves the victory since Lina Wertmuller for directing the Nazi concentration camp dramatic comedy, Seven Beauties, back in 1977.  Wertmuller lost to John G. Avildsen who directed that year’s (allow me to access my air sickness bag) crowd-pleaser, Rocky.  Should Bigelow lose as her predecessor did, I will think that she got robbed, but I will be able to function in-between screaming fits.

Bigelow with her Directors Guild award.

My first lame adventure that I can recall was film-related.  It occurred in my San Francisco-based tot-hood when my parents announced that they were taking me to see my first film, Best Picture winner, West Side Story.  I was no more than 4, maybe as young as 3.  It was one of the best days of my life (ever).  I also got my first pair of sneakers that afternoon.  They were PF Flyers and marketed as allowing the wearer to run faster, jump higher and a third thing, maybe kill yourself sooner.  My mother also allowed me to select the color I wanted.  I shrieked, “Red!” at the top of my lungs and almost deafened the salesman.  That evening, after seeing my first movie in my first pair of sneakers, I went out of my mind.  I HAD to move to New York.  I wanted to be a shark.  I wanted to be a jet.  I wanted to dance in the street.  I wanted a girl named Maria.  I had so much energy after seeing that film in my brand new sneakers, I did a somersault, and threw out my neck.  That instantly slowed me down.  During my recovery, my father offered me a compromise solution to appease my delirium.  He taught me how to snap my fingers, a safer alternative to channeling my non-existent inner Cirque du Soleil.

The film that started it all.

Now, that I am some years older, I am more tranquil when expressing my film-inspired enthusiasm.  Last October, I was eating a roast beef sandwich as I waited for Milton in the seating area outside Alice Tully Hall to attend a screening of Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon at the New York Film Festival.  Haneke walked right in front of me, and stopped to talk to a small cluster of people, clearly friends or family.  This thrilled me beyond belief and I could feel my heart race.  I may have even had a beef shred protruding from my mouth momentarily before quickly accessing my toad-skills to suck it in.  I considered taking a photograph of one of the most talented filmmakers currently working, but I decided to feign cool New Yorker-dom and remain in the closet about my consummate film nerdia.  I so wanted to pee myself.

Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall

When Milton joined me, oblivious to walking past Haneke, he said, “Hi.”  I pointed with my eyes and replied sotto voce, “Haneke.”  Milton turned, and looked nonchalantly in the direction of my visual cue.  He looked back at me nodding his head slightly and smiling wryly in approval, equally aware that we were in the aura of filmmaking genius.  After Haneke entered the building, I gushed my guts out to my friend about aching to take a photograph of this great cinema artist, possibly the most interesting filmmaker working today since Ingmar Bergman retired from directing.  <sigh>  Milton thought that ignoring my inner paparazzo was the preferred course.  I agreed and then pounded my head against the pavement in agony before following my companion into the theater.  When will I ever be this near cinema greatness again?

Michael Haneke, filmmaking jesus.

The White Ribbon is nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Achievement in Cinematography, and Best Foreign Language Film.  Avatar is also nominated for cinematography and I anticipate it could dominate, but The White Ribbon was spectacularly shot, so I was delighted when I heard that it received a deserved nomination in this category.  I have only seen two of the other Foreign Film nominees, Ajami from Israel and The Prophet from France.  The competition from those two is stiff, but if I were a voter, I’d stick with The White Ribbon.  I will be dismayed if it loses, but not so dismayed that I will end up on life support …  Famous last words.