Damien Chazelle

February 27, 2017

2017 Academy Awards: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Biggest Night in Hollywood! The Night The Stars Shine! The Night People Wear Suits and Dresses! The Night White People Dance Awkwardly! The Night That Never Ends! The Night Trump Thinks Is Overrated! The Night, The Night, The Night!

So we close the book on another culmination of cinema, and all the bitching and moaning, and whining and complaining that goes along with it. The 2017 Academy Awards was a decent enough event this year with buffoonery, self-indulgent jokes, a run-time that just wouldn’t quit, and, oh yeah, some pretty nice moments as well. Here are just some of the Blondie, Angle Eyes, and Tuco moments from last night’s BIG EVENT!

  
A good amount of movies got some love last night. While “La La Land” took home six awards (I mean they were up for 14), films like “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Manchester by the Sea,” shoot, even “Suicide Squad,” yes, “SUICIDE SQUAD,” took home an Oscar! Leonardo Dicaprio and “Suicide Squad” now have the same amount of Oscars. Martin Scorsese and “Suicide Squad” now have the same amount of Oscars. Al Pacino…well, you get it…

305 Standup! It was a big night for “Moonlight.” Mahersala Ali took home the award for Best Supporting Actor, Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney took home the Adapted Screenplay Award and after one of the most awkward moment’s in Oscar history, took home the award for Best Picture (more on that later).

The Supporting Actor categories in this year’s show were some of the best in years, and I wouldn’t have been mad about anyone winning, but seeing Ali, and afterwards, Viola Davis winning, it was a sight. This is the first time that I can say I was with the choices 100%. However, there is an argument to be made whether Davis should have been in the Best Actress hunt. She dominated the screen-time in “Fences.” But at that point, who do you bump out of Best Actress. My pick would have been Meryl Streep, who already stole a spot that should have been Amy Adams’. Oh well, either way, I’m okay with the decision.

  
I’m over this notion that an award show has to be an extension of another show. This horrible trend started with Ellen DeGeneres and her selfies, and giving food to celebrities, and just this idea that we have to cater to celebrities who are already being catered to at an awards show. Enough! But this year brought things to a new level where we brought in people off the street with their selfie sticks and just general weirdness. It’s not bad enough that most celebrities don’t know how to act around people who are normal, ie, the general population, and say what you will, but Denzel Washington looked relatively bored and had of the face of “are you fucking kidding me?!” But that’s just me. Stupid skits tack on time to an already over-bloated show.

It’s embarrassing that people who win awards can’t be there to accept an award because of the “President of the United States.” Asghar Farhadi won the award for Best Foreign Language Film but wasn’t attending the Oscars because of what people don’t like to call the “Muslim Ban,” even though it actually is, let’s call it what it really is people. While Roman Polanski can’t attend because he’s a pedophile, Farhadi couldn’t attend because he wasn’t allowed by Donald Trump….YOUR President, America! There were also some shades of 1973’s Ceremony as well.

Me, personally, it’s pretty ugly to keep beating a dead horse. Yes, Hollywood, we know, you don’t like Donald Trump, but it gets to a point where, yes, we get it. The fact that big award shows keep giving this guy, Trump, a platform, and keep bringing him up, over and over again, BY NAME, is just stupid at this point. Tweeting him in the middle of the show with #merylsayshi is just dumb. How about this; concentrate on the actual show, and don’t give this narcissist a platform. The people who accepted the awards did a good enough job bringing up substantive content without our “fearless” host having to stop the show dead in it’s tracks to tweet an idiot. Sheesh!

The bungle that was Best Picture was an ugly clusterfuck of epic proportions. Sure, at the end of the day it made both “La La Land” and “Moonlight” look great, but everyone involved looked stupid, and at the end of the day it looks like it wasn’t Bulworth’s fault. But man, how do you mess that up, especially with tensions already at a boiling point. The knee-jerk reaction was, “oh Warren Beatty is a racist.” No, just no. Other people thought it was a sick joke, and laughed and wrung their hands in the air over Beatty’s screwy excuse (I was one of those people). It was just awkward and ugly, but a few handled it with grace under fire, and at the end of the day, winners emerged, but Jesus, how do you mess that up?!

Overall, still a fun show with some great people winning, and it’s always fun to see people argue about who should have won, and “La La Land” is overrated; stop people, just stop. Being edgy to be edgy is so 2016. 

February 8, 2017

SR and The LAMB Devour The Oscars: Best Director

Check out more posts over at The LAMB as we DEVOUR the Academy Awards!

It’s that time of the year again when every movie blog, podcast, expert, and everything, and one, that falls in between pontificates over who should win and bitches and moans when their favorite art-house film is snubbed or a specific movie just goes in and steamrolls the competition.

In this edition, we take a look at the nominees for Best Director. Unlike previous Oscar seasons, this year’s crop features a wide assortment of talent and comebacks. From Canadians to up-start wunderkinds and throw in a few grizzled veterans, this is one category that is sure to divide as well as surprise when the winner is announced February 26th.

Damien Chazelle – La La Land (WINNER)

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester By the Sea

Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge

This could be a lot tighter than most people think, but I think the smart money is still on Chazelle to win. Again, “La La Land” is about Hollywood and the Hollywood Dream, and I think sentimentality will play a key role in the win. Plus, it takes a lot of coordination and “direction” to make those dance numbers happen and look as perfect as they are.

The one thing that could play in some of the other nominees favor, namely Barry Jenkins, who could steal this one away, is the over saturation of “Land” and the high that “Moonlight” is riding. Would the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences dare make a statement so huge as to award Jenkins, who would be the first African-American to win the award, and the first African-American to be nominated since 2013, and only the 4th since 1991, the Oscar for Best Director? For one, it would be well deserved as “Moonlight” is possibly the greatest film of the year, it just so happened to be released the same year there happened to be revival musical that captured the imagination of millions.

I might also be a little impartial to Jenkins just because of the fact that he’s local to Miami, my hometown, and he created a film about what he experienced growing up in inner-city Miami. Much like John Singleton with “Boyz in the Hood,” Jenkins is covering what the mainstream media likely don’t care to cover and make light of even though it affects thousands in similar situations. It’s master class work.

As for Gibson, Lonergan, and Villeneuve, it’s pretty much better luck next time, but I would like to bring up Gibson’s return to the grand stage. This is Gibson’s first nomination since 1995’s “Braveheart,” which he won for, but also his first nomination since becoming a pariah to the human race, and hey, I’m not excusing anti-Semitic remarks, drunken rants, and just overall disgusting behavior, but hey, those things just might make you the next POTUS. I don’t think there’s ever been an issue with Gibson’s eye for direction. “The Passion of the Christ” might be painful to watch, but it’s still artfully directed. And say what you will about “Apocolypto,” but it’s an exciting and interesting look into a culture that we know so little about. Much like “We Were Soldiers” Gibson takes what he learned from that film, I feel, and injected heart, grit, and soul into a true story that is often looked over.

With all this being said, look for Chazelle to take home the gold, but don’t be surprised if Jenkins is able to strip it away at the last minute.

January 5, 2017

Why ‘La La Land’ is Going to Clean Up this Awards Season

*Post Oscar Update 2-27-17*

*I was partially correct, 14 nominations and six wins isn’t too shabby, and even after the Best Picture snafu, “La La Land” came out in the wash clean as hell.*

Hollywood award season is upon us with the Golden Globes set for this coming Sunday, January 8th, 2017. After the snafu that was #OscarsSoWhite and the conclusion of the drama about Leonardo DiCaprio receiving his first Oscar, we might have an Oscar telecast with a little more diversity, but we’ll see how that goes.

While 2016 provided us some great films with minorities in the lead role such as “Moonlight” and “Lion” and female-driven fare like “Edge of Seventeen” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” there is one film heads and tails above the rest, and it will be heavily rewarded this award season, and that film is “La La Land.”

This is not me saying that “Land” is bad; it’s not; its utterly fantastic, I nearly wept during the opening dance number it was so beautiful, (hopefully Another Day of Sun is up for Best Song at the Oscars). However, if history has anything to do with anything, the deck is stacked in favor of “Land,” and here are some of the reasons:

1) Hollywood loves to pat itself on the back. “Land” for the most part is a throwback to old Hollywood. It’s dancing set-pieces will leave you in awe, the music is infectious, (as I listen to the soundtrack of course) and it’s a classic story of following your dreams, despite the hardships and trials and tribulations. This is the classic Hollywood story.

2)  Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are pure and utter joy. This is their third, and for my money best, collaboration. They are natural fits for one another and play off each other so well it’s a mesmerizing things to watch. Gosling has always had stage presence and after “The Nice Guys” there’s no doubt about his comedy chops. Stone has gone from “hmmm, okay, she might be good one day,” to “oh man, she’s really good.” The more I think about it, Stone is more of the revelation where she carries a greater weight in this film and her story hits harder when it comes to actresses in the Hollywood system. She was good in “Birdman” but she’s great in “Land.”

3) It was a struggle to get this film off the ground. It took Damien Chazelle years to get this film going, and it will be commended when the time for awards comes around. Not to forget to mention the fact that while the film is a classic Hollywood film, making of the film is nearly as classic. It’s about as Hollywood as it gets.

4) The soundtrack is wonderful. If “Hamilton” was the hit soundtrack of Broadway in 2016, “Land” is the hit soundtrack of Hollywood in 2016. “Land’s” soundtrack is an experience and will be awarded as such.

5) The final point is going to piggyback on my first point. In the past seven years at the Oscars the Academy has awarded films well when it comes to films paying homage to Hollywood; “The Artist” in 2011, “Argo” in 2012 and “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) in 2014. While “Birdman” takes more shots at how Hollywood treats actors, nonetheless, it’s a film about Hollywood and all press, is good press.

“The Artist” was at least to me a gimmick film. A silent film made in the day and age of loud Hollywood blockbusters. While I’m not a huge fan, I can understand how people can feel nostalgic for a bygone era.

“Argo” was the ultimate way for Hollywood to fellate themselves. No, I am not saying “Argo” is a bad film, in fact I loved it and it was the catalyst for the re-rising of Ben Affleck’s Q Rating (even though the writing was on the wall with “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town,” previously). However, the film is about Hollywood people saving the lives of people in a foreign country overtaken by “the bad guys.” It’s a whimsical tale of how Hollywood saved the day in a story that seems almost too Hollywood to be real…yet, it was.

“Birdman” did it’s best to shit all over the way that Hollywood tosses out old actors after they are done using them up, but despite that, it was impossible to ignore the painstaking process of making this film. The acting was great, the direction was great, the message, while I’m sure it miffed Hollywood, had to be commended for what it was; a film that was hard to make and a technical achievement.

“Land” fits the bill as the film to beat. In a year that was full of despair and woefulness, “Land” is the silver lining. It’s got comedy, tragedy, dancing, singing, some great acting and it hits on the idea that you can still go to Hollywood and have all of your dreams come true, but it adds that bittersweet touch. It appeals to idealists, dreamers, and pessimists; it appeals to humanity in these unsure times where a dream is still something to hold onto. Thus, “La La Land” will be your big winner come this award season, and for good reason.

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