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Predicting the 2014 Academy Award Nominees PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 09 January 2014 09:55

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a SlaveHeading toward January 16’s announcement of this year’s Academy Award nominees, I think it’s safe to say that we know a few things.

We know, for instance, that it’ll be a big day for 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, and most likely for American Hustle. We know the Best Supporting Actor category (which, last year, was populated entirely with previous Oscar winners) will be top-heavy with relatively new talent, and the Best Actress category (which, last year, was top-heavy with relatively new talent) will be mostly, perhaps entirely, populated with previous Oscar winners. We know members of the Academy’s music branch will throw some loopy, out-of-left-field choice into the Best Original Song lineup, because they always do.

And we know, come January 16, that some incredibly worthy titles are going to get royally screwed.

 
Out of This World: The Most Enjoyable Movies of 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 08 January 2014 06:00

I can’t remember which Web site I read it on, but in prefacing his 10-best list, one movie-reviewing pundit expressed his wish that rankings of this sort be published 10 years after the fact, so he could have a full decade to digest, re-re-view, and potentially re-evaluate what he initially decreed were his favorite films for a particular calendar year. I love that idea, but would also be grateful for a just few extra weeks.

 
The Enthusiast: On Roger Ebert PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Tuesday, 09 April 2013 12:54

Roger EbertIn 2010, at the age of 67, Roger Ebert reviewed The Human Centipede (First Sequence) — a horror flick that seems to exist primarily to make viewers vomit. As a professional movie critic for more than four decades, Ebert could have been forgiven for skipping it altogether. Curt dismissal was another perfectly reasonable option.

A charitable senior-citizen writer might have picked the movie apart on moral, narrative, or aesthetic grounds, or used it as a launching point for a screed against the depravity of contemporary culture or the torture-porn genre.

But Ebert turned in a no-star-rating review that begins with an earnest rumination on the path to mortality: “It’s not death itself that’s so bad. It’s what you might have to go through to get there.” And he says that within the writer/director, Tom Six, “there stirs the soul of a dark artist.”

Ebert was interested in the movie, curious about its method and meaning. Ultimately, he didn’t interpret or judge it — “It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don’t shine” — but it’s clear he thought this film that most people would find inherently repulsive or worthless deserved consideration.

And then there’s his marginally positive 1981 review of Tarzan, the Ape Man, in which Ebert is nakedly smitten with Bo Derek: “The Tarzan-Jane scenes strike a blow for noble savages, for innocent lust, for animal magnetism, and, indeed, for softcore porn, which is ever so much sexier than the hardcore variety. If you do not agree with me, you will probably think Bo’s banana scene is ridiculous. I prefer to think it was inevitable.”

I’m starting with these admittedly odd examples to remember Roger Ebert — who died on April 4 at age 70 — because I think they’re true. They reveal the man and the critic in a way that gets past the vagueness and overreaching of many obituaries and appreciations of him.

 
Gold Men Sunset: Notes on the 2013 Academy Awards Telecast PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 25 February 2013 14:33

Best Actor Daniel Day-LewisSeth MacFarlane, I thought, did a fine job hosting the 85th Academy Awards ceremony. He turned out to be a fine choice for the frequently thankless Oscar-emcee position, tossing in some fine jokes in between the generally fine production numbers and mostly fine acceptance speeches ... .

I’m sorry, but I am alone in thinking that last night’s telecast, in the end, was just a little too “fine”?

 
"Argo" Fête Yourself: 2013 Oscar Predictions PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 06:00

Ben Affleck in ArgoAs I only predicted 15 out of 24 categories correctly for the previous Academy Awards, obviously I have some making up to do for my prognostic abilities to again be taken seriously.

Of all freakin’ times to attempt a comeback ... !

 
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