Lisa Marie’s Early Oscar Predictions For July


It’s that time of the month again!  It’s time for me to make my early Oscar predictions.

This year, the Cannes Film Festival really didn’t clear much up.  The French Dispatch was acclaimed but, in every review, there was an admission that, for everyone who absolutely loved it, there would probably be someone else who would absolutely hate it.  I did decided to include Red Rocket on my list of predictions, based on the Cannes reaction.  I’m still not a 100% convinced that it’s going to be a contender, of course.  But the idea of a Simon Rex movie being nominated for best picture was just too wonderfully strange for me to ignore.  That’s the same logic that led to me including Pig as a best picture nominee, by the way.

On the Ridely Scott front, the overacting in the trailer for House of Gucci really turned me off so I dropped it from all of my predictions.  The Last Duel looks like it might have a chance, however.

Anyway, the main thing to remember when looking at these predictions is that the majority of them are just random guesses, based on hunches and past Academy behavior.  So, as always, take them with several grains of salt.

If you’re curious to see how my thinking has developed, check out my predictions for March and April and May and June!

Best Picture

Belfast

A Journal For Jordan

The Last Duel

Nightmare Alley

Pig

The Power of the Dog

Red Rocket

Soggy Bottom

The Tragedy of MacBeth

West Side Story

 

Best Director

Pedro Almodovar for Parallel Mothers

Paul Thomas Anderson for Soggy Bottom

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Guillermo Del Toro for Nightmare Alley

Denzel Washington for A Journal For Jordan

Best Actor

Nicolas Cage in Pig

Clifton Collins, Jr. in Jockey

Michael B. Jordan in A Journal For Jordan

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Penelope Cruz in Parallel Mothers

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Nicole Kidman in Being The Ricardos

Tessa Thomspon in Passing

Best Supporting Actor

David Alvarez in West Side Story

Bradley Cooper in Soggy Bottom

Adam Driver in The Last Duel

Simon Helberg in Annette

Jesse Plemons in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Chante Adams in A Journal For Jordan

Ariana DeBose in West Side Story

Ann Dowd in Mass

Marlee Matlin in CODA

Ruth Negga in Passing

Lisa’s Week In Television: 7/25/21 — 7/31/21


My viewing this week was pretty much dominated by Big Brother and the Olympics.

Allo Allo (Sunday Night, BBC)

This week brought us yet another bizarre episode, this one featuring Herr Flick dressing up as a gypsy to uncover a plot to kill Hitler while Rene dressed up as a fireman to steal the plans to invade Great Britain. Trying to keep track of it all proved a bit difficult but at least Crabtree was there wish everyone a “Good Moaning.”

The Bachelorette (Monday Night, ABC)

The men tell all! The Men (or Women) Tell All is one of the franchise’s greatest traditions, a chance for the rejected to have their say before the finale. Often, it’s a highlight of this season. This year, without Chris Harrison or a similarly experienced host around to guide the conversation, it was pretty dull.

The main things that I learned from watching the men tell all is that 1) none of the men were that interesting this season and 2) The Bachelorette needs to hire a real host to replace Chris Harrison because neither Tayshia nor Kaitlyn have proven themselves to be up to the job. Their inexperience when it comes to interviewing people was obvious during this week’s episode. Whenever any of the men said anything that was the slightest bit unexpected, Tayshia and Kaitlyn just giggled and then move on to the next topic, without asking any follow-up questions. It reminded me of those terrible reunion episodes that used to end every season of Dance Moms. When The Bachelorette is remind me more of a low-budget Lifetime show than America’s number one dating show, that’s a problem.

Big Brother (All Week, CBS and Paramount Plus)

You can read my thoughts on Big Brother at the Big Brother Blog!

Dragnet (Weekday Mornings, MeTV)

On Monday morning, Dragnet got started with an episode in which Friday and Gannon investigated a man who was pretending to be a policeman and a fireman. Though the man was doing good deeds, it was still a crime and he still got sentenced to probation. This was followed by an episode in which Friday and Gannon searched for an aspiring starlet who had gotten caught up in the world of …. smutty films! It turns out that the only thing that Friday and Gannon disliked more than marijuana advocates was the adult film business. Unfortunately, it all ended in tragedy.

Tuesday started off with a rather silly episode in which Friday and Gannon investigated two rival gypsy families. One of the families offered Friday a bribe. Oh, that was a mistake! This was followed by a far more dramatic and effective episode, in which Friday and Gannon investigated a case of child abuse. It was an angry episode about an important subject and, for once, Friday’s moralistic outlook felt appropriate as opposed to out-of-touch.

The first of Wednesday’s episodes found Gannon and Friday interrogating a mob associate on a rainy night. The entire episode was just the interrogation and it was actually handled pretty well. Though the 60s Dragnet was best known for its scenes of Friday lecturing hippies, the best episodes were the ones where Friday and Gannon just did police work and avoided commenting on current events. This was followed by an episode where Friday and Gannon attempted to find a man who had threatened to commit suicide. Again, this was a well-handled episode, one that was sympathetic to those who struggle with depression and anxiety.

Thursday, on the other hand, got started with an episode that featured the type of thing for which Dragnet is best remembered. A bunch of smug hippie teenagers wanted to start their own island nation and they were robbing Los Angeles stores in order to get the supplies to do so. Fortunately, Gannon and Friday were on-hand to lecture them about their civic duty and their lack of practical camping experience before sending them all to juvenile hall. This was followed by an episode in which Friday interviewed police academy applicants and then he and Gannon investigated one applicant’s background, mainly to discover why he had gotten a divorce …. wait, what? It should be noted, though, that investigating the divorce did lead to the discovery of evidence that the applicant should be not be allowed the enter the police academy. Anyway, this was one of those Dragnet episodes were the emphasis was meant to be on how professional the LAPD was. Not everyone can join the department, the episode said, especially not divorced people.

The first of Friday’s episodes featured Joe and Gannon investigating a case of embezzlement. It turned out that the embezzler had a gambling problem! Joe and Gannon were not sympathetic. Such are the wages of greed, I guess. This was followed by an episode with Joe attempted to teach patrol officers about the importance of maintaining good community relationships, even with people who don’t like the LAPD. On the one hand, the show made a good point by directly addressing the fact that cops need to treat all people fairly. On the other hand, a large part of the episode centered around a young black activist learning that the cops weren’t so bad after all. In other words, this episode was the epitome of the type of well-intentioned, middle-of-the-road storytelling that tends to drive activists on both sides of an issue crazy. Still, everything worked out in the end. The activist agreed to pay a traffic fine and the cops agreed not to charge him with resisting arrest.

And that was it for this week!

Moone Boy (PBS, Sunday Night)

As the Moones somewhat reluctantly prepare for Fidelma’s wedding, the peace in Boyle is upset by the arrival of Travelers. The Travelers don’t really do much but, because they’re Travelers, everyone gets a bit paranoid about them, regardless. Martin, of course, develops a crush on one of them. Meanwhile, Dessie asks the priest to be his best man, which leads to “Stag Mass.” It was a funny, if somewhat messy, episode.

Open All Hours (PBS, Sunday Night)

Arkwright and Granville got a van, one with a mattress in back, so that they could pick up hitchhikers. It was a disturbing episode. It’s always been pretty obvious that Granville is one step away from losing it and going on a rampage but this week’s episode suggested that Arkwright might be a bit on the unstable side as well.

Tokyo Olympics (All week, Every Chanel)

On Sunday morning, I watched Spain defeat Serbia in water polo! Because I’m rooting for Spain, I was happy to see the win but water polo still seems like an amazingly silly sport. I then watched a bit of the handball match between Norway and South Korea. Who knew handball could be so intense!? After the handball, I surprised myself even further by getting totally caught up in fencing. I think the reason I liked the fencing is because the uniforms made all of the competitors look like characters from The Purge. That said, I definitely cheered a bit when Lee Kiefer won the gold!

While I didn’t get a chance to watch much of the Olympics on Monday, I made up for that on Tuesday morning by tuning in and watching Japan defeat the United States at softball. And I have to admit that it didn’t really bother me, watching the U.S. lose this event. Japan is hosting the Olympics this year. Softball is reportedly a big sport in Japan and, indeed, one reason why softball was an Olympic event this year was because Tokyo already had a softball field. Japan winning the Gold just felt appropriate. After I watched the softball medal ceremony, I found out about Simone Biles withdrawing from the Games. As I said on twitter at the time, “mental issues” can mean any number of things so instead of judging, the proper response from the beginning was to wish Simone the best for whatever she may be dealing with. Of course, most people did the exact opposite and this week has pretty much been dominated by people offering up terrible takes on Simone Biles, the Olympics, and the pressures of competition.

The over-the-top reaction to the Simone Biles news temporarily turned me off of the Olympics so I didn’t watch on Wednesday. However, I returned on Thursday. I watched the U.S. vs. Turkey in Women’s Volleyball and I have to admit that I soon found myself rooting for Turkey, whose team had more natural talent than the American team. That the American team still won felt like it had more to do with luck than anything else. After the indoor volleyball, it was time for Women’s Beach Volleyball, which featured Canada vs. Brazil. I have to admit that, ever since I finally watched Top Gun last year, it’s been impossible for me to take Beach Volleyball seriously. Jeff and I also watched a bit of Olympic golf.

On Friday night, it was time for more running, more swimming, and more medals! There was also some women’s soccer which …. bleh. I really hope we don’t win the gold this year. I’m sick of being expected to care about soccer.

Saturday, I watched a bit of volleyball and a bit of boxing and a little basketball. I have to admit that basetball has never appealed to me so I ended up watching golf instead. I never though it would happen but golf is winning me over. It’s such a refined and, most importantly, quite sport. No squeaky shoes or yelling, just the sound of golf swings and polite applause.

2021 U.S. Senior Women’s Open (Golf Channel, Sunday Afternoon)

I also like watching golf because I like seeing what all of the courses look like. They’re all very nice and green.

Upstart Crow (PBS, Sunday Night)

Shakespeare and the crew (including the “Artist Formerly Known as Marlowe”) tire of the London fog and head up to Stratford. With everyone getting sick of being stuck indoors together, Shakespeare is inspired to write a romantic comedy. When his wife informs him that his idea for the play (featuring mistaken identities and, of course, a wedding at the end) all sounds like “much ado about nothing,” Shakespeare informs her that he’ll soon have another hit on his hands. Yay, Shakespeare!

Music Video of the Day: Paper In Fire by John Mellencamp (1987, directed by ????)


Depending on the source, the “paper in fire” that John Mellencamp sings about in this song either refers to the dreams of those looking to get out of living below the poverty line or a verse in the Bible in which Hell is called “paper in fire.”  One thing that everyone agrees on is that the line “we keep no check on our appetites” is a reference to Hud, which is one of Mellencamp’s favorite movies.

The video was shot outside of a house on a dirt road near Savannah, Georgia.  Mellencamp wanted to highlight the poverty that many Americans were living under.  This video was also shot at a time when Mellencamp was still trying to escape from the “Johnny Cougar” persona that was forced on him early on in his career.  (In fact, at the time this song was recorded, he was still officially known as John Cougar Mellencamp.)

Enjoy!

Music Video of the Day: Love House by Samantha Fox (1988, directed by ????)


Ah, the Page 3 Girls.

The Page 3 Girls were a long-stranding tradition in the UK. In the often cut-throat world of British journalism, certain publishers realized that the best way to beat the competition was to not only offer important news, brilliant editorials, and attention-grabbing headlines but also to offer up naked models. Starting with the Sun in 1970, most British tabloids would include a topless centerfold on the third page of their newspaper. That way, men could discreetly buy the Sun at the newsstand (and perhaps chuckle at headlines like, “”If Neil Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights,”) and then turn to page 3 as soon as they were in the back of a taxi. As a teenager visiting family the UK in the 90s, I always made sure to pick up the new edition of the Sun, The Mirror, and News of the World. Today, of course, the Page 3 Girls are largely a thing of the past and it’s acknowledged that it was all a bit misogynistic. But, back in the day, it was just a part of daily life in the UK.

In the early and mid-80s, Samantha Fox was one of the top Page 3 Girls. She went from modeling to acting and singing. Love House was a single off of her third album. Today, it’s usually listed as being one of the first acid house single to appear on mainstream charts. As with many of Fox’s hits, the songs popularity was aided by a music video that made good use of Fox’s assets. The video for Love House contrasts Fox’s sex appeal with several images that appear to have been lifted from popular horror films.

The song is pretty good too. Because of her background, Samantha Fox was underrated as a singer and she’s never quite gotten the credit that she deserves. However, she is still a cultural icon in the UK, where she’s appeared on editions of Celebrity Big Brother and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, along with remaining an activist for LGBT rights.

Enjoy!

Film Review: Friend of the World (dir by Brian Patrick Butler)


At the start of 2020’s Friend of the World, we know that something bad has happened to the world but we don’t know what. An aspiring filmmaker named Diane (Alexandra Slade) wakes up in what appears to be a room in an underground bunker. Dead bodies surround her. When one turns out to be not quite dead, Diane shoots him in the head. Is it a mercy killing or is it an act of self-defense?

As we soon learn, Diane is not alone in the bunker. There’s a man named Gore (Nick Young), who appears to be some sort of military office and who, on occasion, even sound like he could be a direct descendant of Jack D. Ripper, the paranoid general played by Sterling Hayden in Dr. Strangelove. When we first see Gore, he’s standing directly over Diane, speaking as he shaves. Shaving cream falls from his face, down on Diane. Gore never apologizes, not for that or anything else. And while it quickly become clear that the world is no longer place where apologies and rudeness are anyone’s number one concern, it’s hard not to suspect that Gore probably wasn’t the apologizing type even before the world ended.

Gore leads Diane through the bunker, explaining how and why the world has ended and speaking rather ominously about how it’s going to fall to the survivors to repopulate the world. While Diane worries about the fate of her girlfriend, Gore smokes cigars and randomly fires guns. When they speak to each other, it’s often in somewhat bizarre cadences and phrases, the type that leave us to wonder if they’ve really just met or if we’re watching some sort of ritual develop.

We also discover that the two of them are not alone in the bunker. Others make brief appearances, as the situation grows more claustrophobic and more bizarre. One man bursts out of another, in a scene that will bring to mind the infamous chest bursters from Alien. Another mysterious figure shows up to repair a chair while moving in a herky-jerky fashion that almost suggests he might be an puppet on a string. When a more familiar figure shows up, Diane is forced to not only realize how much the world has changed but also consider her new role within it.

Clocking in at a little under an hour, Friend of the World is a surreal look at the end of the world, one that mixes the body horror of David Cronenberg with the dark humor and circular conversations of Samuel Beckett with just a hint of Kubrickian satire. For all the horror elements that are found in the film (and for all of the memorably gruesome special effects), the ultimate horror of Friend of the World comes from the knowledge that, should you survive the apocalypse, you’ll still have little control over who survives with you.

Director Brian Patrick Butler emphasizes the claustrophobic conditions of the bunker, a version of Hell from which there really is no exit. The scenes in the bunker are shot in harsh black-and-white while Diane’s memories of her girlfriend and a few scenes shot above ground are filmed in almost garish color, a simple technique that pays off surprisingly well. Both Alexandra Slade and Nick Young do a good job of bringing their enigmatic characters to life, with Slade especially capturing Diane’s mix of confusion, fear, and anger. As well, Kathryn Scott makes a strong impression with limited screen time in the small but key role of Diane’s girlfriend.

Friend of the World provides an intriguing look at the end of the world.

Artwork of the Day: This is Elaine (by Paul Rader)


by Paul Rader

This book and cover are from 1966.  According to the cover, it was written by the author of Twice with Julie.  Was Julie a friend of Elaine’s? Maybe that man smoking the cigarette knows Julie too.  What I like about this cover is the use of the mirror.  At first, it appears that Elaine is looking at the reader, inviting them to read the book.  It’s only when you look closely at the cover that you realize she’s sitting in front of a mirror and that, instead of standing behind her and watching her from a distance, the man is actually standing directly in front of her.

This cover was done by the amazingly prolific and talented Paul Rader.

Music Video of the Day: Viva Las Vegas by ZZ Top (1992, directed by ????)


Yesterday, many of us woke up to this sad message from Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard of ZZ Top:

“We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, TX. We, along with legions of ZZ Top fans around the world, will miss your steadfast presence, your good nature and enduring commitment to providing that monumental bottom to the ‘Top’. We will forever be connected to that “Blues Shuffle in C.”

You will be missed greatly, amigo.

Frank & Billy

Dusty Hill was 72 years old and died in his sleep in Houston, Texas.  Though it’s already been announced that ZZ Top will continue with longtime band associate Elwood Francis replacing Hill, it’s still hard not to feel that an era has come to a close.

Today’s music video of the day is ZZ Top’s cover of Viva Las Vegas.  Rest in Peace, Dusty Hill.

Here’s The Trailer for King Richard


After being delayed by the COVID pandemic, King Richard is finally coming out later this year. King Richard is a film about Richard Williams, the father and coach of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams. Richard Williams will be played by Will Smith and that seems like such perfect casting that a lot of forecasters are already predicting that this role might land Will Smith his third Oscar nomination.

Here’s the trailer for King Richard: