8 Films That Should Never Have Been Nominated For Best Picture


Sometimes, the Academy gets it wrong.

For instance, these 8 films have two things in common:

  1. They were all nominated for best picture.
  2. They shouldn’t have been.

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  1. American Beauty (1999)

Shallow, pretentious, and more than a little misogynistic, American Beauty was somehow not only nominated but won as well.

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2. Crash (2005)

Oh my God.  How the Hell did this mess of a movie win?

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3. Avatar (2009)

Yawn.  I’ve written at length about my dislike for this film so I’m not going to waste too much more space on it.  It would be nice if James Cameron was capable of writing dialogue that didn’t sound like something that would get a failing grade in a high school creative writing class.

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4. The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Acclaimed when first released, The Kids Are All Right was forgotten fairly quickly.  When seen today, it comes across like a sitcom version of life among the wealthy and out of touch.  I don’t think any film featuring an organic food restaurant is going to age well.

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5. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

In the wake of 9/11, an extremely annoying brat bothers random people in New York.  One of the worst films ever.

The Descendants

6. The Descendants (2011)

Alexander Payne’s comedy of tragedy and infidelity isn’t terrible but it wasn’t that great either.

7. Birdman (2014)

While it’s nice that Michael Keaton made a comeback, this is still one of the most overrated films of all time.  Will anyone care about Birdman in ten more years?

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8. The Big Short (2015)

The worst thing about the economic crash?  It gave us a movie like The Big Short.

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Here’s Who Won At The DGA (or The Unexpected Virtue of Making History)


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The Director’s Guild of America handed out their awards tonight and history was made!  (And the Oscar race got a little bit more complicated.)  First off, Alex Garland won the award for Best First-Time Feature Director for Ex Machina.  Then Cartel Land somehow defeated Amy for Best Documentary Direction.

And then Alejandro G. Inarritu was named Best Director for The Revenant!  This makes Inarritu the first film director to ever win back-to-back awards from the Director’s Guild.  As you may remember, he previously won for Birdman and when was the last time anyone thought about that damn movie?  (For the record, I thought the Revenant was far superior to Birdman.)

So, to recap, the Production Guild gave its top award to The Big Short.

The SAG gave its top award for Spotlight.

And now, the DGA — which is traditionally the most reliable of all the precursors — gave its top award to The Revenant!

In other words, for the first time in my lifetime, there are three films that seem to have a legitimate shot at winning best picture when the Oscars are awarded later this month.

Of the 8 films that were nominated, my personal favorite would be Brooklyn, which realistically has no chance of winning the top prize.  (Carol was my favorite film of the year but it was not nominated.)  However, there’s a part of me that still hopes that — despite not winning at the PGA or the DGA — Mad Max: Fury Road will pull off an upset.  Sadly, that probably won’t happen.  Not only would a Mad Max victory be a nice (and popular) surprise but it would completely redefine the stodgy old assumptions about what type of films qualify for Oscar consideration.

If The Big Short wins, it will be the biggest travesty since the victory of Crash.

My Extremely Late Review of The 87th Oscars


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This did not happen at the Oscars last night.

I really don’t know what’s wrong with me.

As I’ve made it clear many times in the past, I basically build my year around the Oscars.   I always get together with my friends and family and I force them to watch the entire ceremony with me.  Wherever I’ve lived, the Oscars have always been a national holiday.

As with any holiday, there are traditions.  To cite just one example, every year there comes the moment when I suddenly realize that Meryl Streep looks exactly like this stuck-up rich woman from Highland Park who, back in 2oo1, was so rude to my mom that she made her cry and that’s why I’ve never liked Meryl as much as some of my fellow movie bloggers.  And, of course, once I realize that, I have to tell the story to everyone else in the room.  Part of the tradition is to continue telling the story even after everyone says, “We’ve heard this story a million times, Lisa.”

Another part of the tradition is to start out with hope that something unexpected will happen.  “Oh my God,” I’ll say at some point, “maybe such-and-such movie is going to pull an upset!”  Then, an hour later, comes the tradition of realizing that there aren’t going to be any upsets and everything’s going to play out the exact way that everyone said it would.

One of the newer traditions is that, after every Oscar ceremony, I write a review and I post it here on Through the Shattered Lens. But, somehow, this year, I nearly forgot about that tradition.  Perhaps it’s because we got hit by a lot of sleet and ice last night and, as a result, I could neither go to work nor go dancing tonight.  And, don’t get me wrong,  I’ve had a lot of fun hanging around the house and being lazy today.  But it was still a pretty big change from my usual routine.  It threw me off and perhaps that’s why I’m only now getting around to reviewing the Oscar ceremony.

Then again, it could just be that last night’s ceremony was not that interesting.  I thought that Neil Patrick Harris was a good host but, in retrospect, that has more to do with his own natural charisma of a performer than with anything he actually did.  I liked his little bit about getting Octavia Spencer to keep an eye on his predictions but that was mostly because Octavia herself is such a good performer.  (Octavia is also an Oscar winner who has the talent to do a lot more than just playing a supporting role on a TV show.)

I loved Margot Robbie’s dress.  But I have to say that it really bothered me that there weren’t any true fashion disasters to be seen last night.  That’s part of the fun of the Oscars, spotting the celebs that can’t dress themselves.  When everyone looks good, the show’s a lot less interesting.

As far as the acceptance speeches were concerned, some of them were good.  But I have to admit that I always cringe a little when I see a celeb at an awards show give a politically charged speech because, as committed as they may be, they never seem to be quite sincere.  Instead, they come across as if they’re just playing another role.  What I really wish is that, instead of Bustle and Jezebel posting a hundred articles about how much Meryl Streep loved Patricia Arquette’s speech on incoming inequality, those same media outlets would actually give as much attention to the women who actually have to deal with the issue on a daily basis.  My mom had to raise four headstrong daughters on her own.  She knew more about the sad reality of income inequality than Meryl Streep ever will.  But nobody’s ever going to illustrate a story on income inequality with an animated gif of a woman, like my mom, working hard at multiple jobs, getting paid less than her male coworkers, coming home exhausted, and still managing to be there for her daughters.  Instead, we’ll just get a hundred memes of Meryl shouting “Yes,” all used to illustrate stories that insist it was a “perfect” moment.

(Because what better symbol for the fight against wage inequality than a rich white woman at an awards show?)

My question to Hollywood political activists is this: Are you actually going to try to change things or are you just going to pat yourself on the back for giving a speech at an awards show?  Because you people have given a lot of speeches and made a lot of politically-themed movies but the problems are still here.

As far as the awards themselves — I have to admit that I was not as big a fan of Birdman as some people were.  For a few minutes, I was excited because I thought that Whiplash might pull an upset.  But no, in the end, Birdman won.  I liked Alejandro Inarritu’s previous Oscar-nominated film, Babel.  But, beyond respecting it as a technical achievement, Birdman just didn’t do much for me and neither did Inarritu’s acceptance speech.

But you know who really didn’t do anything for me?

Sean Penn.

First off, if you’re going to be presenting best picture, try to take a shower before you go out on stage.  Don’t show up looking like you’re covered in a week’s worth of grime.  Looking at Sean Penn last night, I could only imagine that he probably reeked of stale cigarettes and strong body odor.  Seriously, if the Academy needed someone unwashed to hand out the biggest award of the night, they could have followed the lead of the Golden Globes and called Johnny Depp.

And then, when Penn opened the envelope, he couldn’t just announce that Birdman had won.  Instead, he had to make a joke about Inarritu’s green card.  Inarritu is the first Mexican to direct a best picture winner and Sean Penn, a man who considers himself to be enough of an expert on South America that he actually think he has the right to tell the people of Venezuela how to vote, just had to make that green card joke.  My mom was half-Spanish and had to endure her share of green card jokes (despite being a native-born American citizen).  I know the pain that jokes like that caused her and, when Sean Penn made that joke, it was a slap in the face to Latinos everywhere.  Shame on you, Sean Penn.

As far as pendejos like Sean Penn are concerned — ¡Estoy hasta el coño!

As far as Lady Gaga’s Sound of Music tribute was concerned … well, let’s just be honest.  Lady Gaga was great but The Sound of Music is probably one of the most undeserving best picture winners ever.  The Oscar should have gone to either Darling or Doctor Zhivago.

But, on a happier note, these Oscars also allowed me to make my E! debut!  Check out this screen shot:

B-e7UMLIUAA9a7VSo, the 87th Academy Awards are over with.  Here’s hoping the 88th Academy Awards are a bit more fun!

Here’s What Won At The Oscars Last Night!


Really?

Really?

Because of bad weather, I wasn’t able to post the winners last night.  But, now it’s morning and all of the rain has turned to ice and the internet is working again!

So, here’s what won at the Oscars last night.

Best Picture: Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Birdman or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

Best Actress: Julianne Moore in Still Alice

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

Best Original Screenplay: Birdman or What We Talk About When Talk About Love

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Imitation Game

Best Animated Feature: Big Hero 6

Best Documentary Feature: CitizenFour

Best Foreign Language Film: Ida

Best Cinematography: Birdman based on the novel Push by Sapphire 

Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Editing: Whiplash

Beat Makeup and Hairstyling: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Original Score: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Original Song: “Glory” from Selma

Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Sound Editing: American Sniper

Best Sound Mixing: Whiplash

Best Visual Effects: Interstellar

Best Animated Short: Feast

Best Live Action Short: The Phone Call

Best Documentary Short Film: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

Lisa Tries To Predict The Oscars!


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Well, it’s almost here!

Tomorrow night, the Oscars will be handed out!  Now, I have to admit that, despite all of the time that I spent keeping up with all of the guild awards and the critics award and all the other precursors, I kinda lost interest in the Oscar race after the actual nominations were announced.  I took one look at Jeff Wells claiming to be solely responsible for the success of Birdman and Sasha Stone going on and on about Selma and Ryan Adams doing whatever the Hell it is that he supposedly does over at Awards Daily and I just found myself saying, “Fuck it, who cares?”

Seriously, 2015 will be remembered as the year that Oscar punditry jumped the shark.  Hopefully, within the next few years, new voices will emerge and we’ll be spared from having to deal with Jeff Wells, Sasha Stone, and all the rest.

The Oscar commentary this year has been so negative and so toxic and so predictably strident and so tediously bitter that I did get a little bit burned out.  It just hasn’t been as much fun this year.  When, earlier this week, I was reminded that the Oscars were this Sunday, I have to admit that I was taken a little bit by surprise.  For some reason, I had gotten into my head that the Oscars were next week.

But anyway, they’re not next week.  They’re tomorrow and that means that it is now time for me to try to predict who and what will win tomorrow night.  A lot of people are saying that this is the closest Oscar race in years.  But you know what?  They say that every year.

Remember how there were going to be a lot of upsets last year?

And, in the end, exactly what everyone thought would win did win.

I imagine the same thing will happen this year.

Here are my predictions!  I will be listing both what I think will win and what I think should win.

Need to kill some time?  Look through all the posts since November and count up how many times this picture has appeared on the site!

Need to kill some time? Look through all the posts since November and count up how many times this picture has appeared on the site!

Best Picture: 

Will Win: Birdman

Should Win: Boyhood

Best Director:

Will Win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Birdman

Should Win: Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Best Actor

Will Win: Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything

Should Win: Michael Keaton for Birdman

Best Actress

Will Win: Julianne Moore for Still Alice

Should Win: Reese Witherspoon for Wild

Best Supporting Actor

Will and Should Win: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress

Will and Should Win: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood

Best Original Screenplay

Will Win: Birdman

Should Win: Boyhood

Best Adapted Screenplay

Will and Should Win: Whiplash

Best Animated Feature:

Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Should Win: Big Hero 6

Best Foreign Language Film

Will Win: Leviathan

Should Win: Ida

Best Documentary Feature

Will Win: CitizenFour

Should Win: Finding Vivian Maier

Best Documentary Short Subject:

Will Win (random guess): Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

Should Win: ???

Best Live Action Short Film:

Will Win (random guess): The Phone Call

Should Win: ???

Best Animated Short Film:

Will and Should Win: My Moulton

Best Original Score:

Will and Should Win: The Theory of Everything

Best Original Song:

Will Win: “Glory” from Selma

Should Win: “Hooray for Everything” from The Lego Movie

Best Sound Editing

Will and Should Win: American Sniper

Best Sound Mixing

Will Win: American Sniper

Should Win: Whiplash

Best Production Design

Will and Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Cinematography

Will Win: Unbroken

Should Win: Ida

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Will Win: Foxcatcher

Should Win: Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Costume Design

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Should Win: Inherent Vice

Best Film Editing

Will and Should Win: Boyhood

Best Visual Effects

Will Win: Interstellar

Should Win: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

Well, those are my predictions!  Will I be right or will I be wrong?  We’ll find out tomorrow!

Birdman wins at the DGA!


Need to kill some time?  Look through all the posts since November and count up how many times this picture has appeared on the site!

For those of you following the Oscar race, Birdman‘s director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, won the Director’s Guild Award last night.  Over the past few weeks, Birdman has pretty much swept the guild awards, also winning the PGA and the SAG awards.

(Interestingly enough, Michael Keaton was not named Best Actor at SAG.  That award went to Eddie Redmayne for The Theory Of Everything.)

So, it would appear that — as far as 2014 was concerned — Boyhood was the critics favorite and Birdman was the industry’s favorite.  And, since it’s the industry who votes on the Oscars, Birdman has to be considered the Oscar front-runner as well.  For all the talk about how the Oscar race is wide-open this year, it’s actually proving to be pretty predictable.

(Unless, of course, those rumors of a sudden surge for American Sniper prove to be true…)

Myself, I prefer Boyhood to Birdman and I think that future film students will agree with me.  But, I can understand why the industry would embrace Birdman.  After all, it’s about an artist who is unfairly targeted by a vindictive critic and who is still suffering because he was forced to appear in a mindless blockbuster.  I imagine that’s the way that a lot of Academy voters probably think of themselves.  There’s really not much going on underneath the surface of Birdman but never doubt the value of appealing to the industry’s ego.

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Here Are The Oscar Nominations!


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The Oscar nominations were announced this morning and, judging from the overdramatic reactions on twitter, some people are apparently taking all of this way too seriously.  Listen, I wish The LEGO Movie had been nominated.  I wish Jake Gyllenhaal had been nominated.  I haven’t seen Selma yet but it does seem strange that it was only nominated for one other Oscar.  And, for that matter, how did Foxcatcher get nominated for director, screenplay, actor, and supporting actor without getting a nomination for best picture.

And yes, I do wish that more women had been nominated but, then again, I also wish that more women were being given the opportunity to write and direct films.  If the Oscars are male-dominated, that’s because so is the industry.

AND WHERE’S GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY!?

AND WHAT ABOUT JODOROWSKY’S DUNE!?

*ahem*

But, honestly, I think people are overestimating the importance of the Oscars.  Great films will survive, regardless of awards won and lost.  Believe me, there were a lot of nominations that I did not agree with but I’m not going to have a Sasha Stone-style freak out over it because, ultimately, the Oscars are what they are and if you think they’re anything more than an event, you really need to calm down and get some perspective.

I’m just happy that it was a good morning for Texas filmmaking.  Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson were both nominated for best director.  Boyhood, a Texas film if there ever was on, is the front runner for best picture.  Texas actor Ethan Hawke was nominated for best supporting actor.  Bradley Cooper may not be a Texan but he played one and, judging from the trailer and commercials for American Sniper, he actually got the accent right.

So, I’m happy!

(And, by the way, let’s give this talk about how Laura Dern stole Jessica Chastain’s nomination a rest.  If anything, Meryl Streep stole Chastain’s spot.)

Here are the nominees!

BEST PICTURE
“American Sniper”
“Birdman”
“Boyhood”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Selma”
“The Theory of Everything”
“Whiplash”

BEST DIRECTOR
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”

BEST ACTOR
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

BEST ACTRESS
Marion Cotillard, “Two Days One Night”
Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Edward Norton, “Birdman”
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Laura Dern, “Wild”
Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone, “Birdman”
Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“Birdman”
“Boyhood”
“Foxcatcher”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Nightcrawler”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“American Sniper”
“The Imitation Game”
“Inherent Vice”
“The Theory of Everything”
“Whiplash”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
“Birdman”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Ida”
“Mr. Turner”
“Unbroken”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Inherent Vice”
“Into the Woods”
“Maleficent”
“Mr. Turner”

BEST EDITING
“American Sniper”
“Boyhood”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Whiplash”

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
“Foxcatcher”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Interstellar”
“Into the Woods”
“Mr. Turner”

BEST SCORE
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Interstellar”
“Mr. Turner”
“The Theory of Everything”

BEST SONG
“Everything Is Awesome from “The Lego Movie”
“Glory” from “Selma”
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”
“I’m Not Going to Miss You” from “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me”
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”

BEST SOUND EDITING
“American Sniper”
“Birdman”
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”
“Interstellar”
“Unbroken”

BEST SOUND MIXING
“American Sniper”
“Birdman”
“Interstellar”
“Unbroken”
“Whiplash”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
“Interstellar”
“X-Men: Days of Future Past”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“Big Hero 6”
“The Boxtrolls”
“How to Train Your Dragon 2”
“Song of the Sea”
“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Citizenfour”
“Finding Vivian Maier”
“Last Days in Vietnam”
“The Salt of the Earth”
“Virunga”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“Ida”
“Leviathan”
“Tangerines”
“Timbuktu”
“Wild Tales”

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
“The Bigger Picture”
“The Dam Keeper”
“Feast”
“Me and My Moulton”
“A Single Life”

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”
“Joanna”
“Our Curse”
“The Reaper”
“White Earth”

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
“Aya”
“Boogaloo and Graham”
“Butter Lamp”
“Parvaneh”
“The Phone Call”