Category Archives: Entertainment

What more does Leo’s character have to endure to finally win him that Oscar? (SPOILER ALERT)

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Forrest Gump did everything from fighting in the Vietnam War to running a successful shrimping business to being the inspiration for John Lennon’s Imagine to give Tom Hanks one of his two Best Actor awards in 1994. One year later, Ben Sanderson suffered through extreme alcoholism in Leaving Las Vegas, giving Nicolas Cage the honour. King George VI overcame a stutter in The King’s Speech to nab the Best Actor trophy for Colin Firth in 2010. Ron Woodroof was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS at a time when the disease was highly stigmatized in Dallas Buyers Club to give Matthew McConaughey the trophy in 2013.

As for Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant? Yeah, he had to go through just a tad more.

The cries of Give Leo that damn trophy already! have peaked with the release of The Revenant. Award shows, in the grand scheme of things, don’t have a lot of true meaning. Sure, it makes for fun water cooler talk and provides content for trivia nights. But if Leo never wins an Oscar, he’ll still continue to be Leonardo frickin’ DiCaprio. The money, the fame, the women. Yeah, he’ll be alright. So let’s not feel too bad for him if he misses out again.

That being said, can we just give him the damn trophy?! I mean, what more does he have to do? Let’s take a quick look at what Hugh Glass, played by Leo, had to go through. (SPOILER ALERT)

  • In one of the most I want to look away but can’t scenes I’ve ever seen, Leo is viciously attacked by a grizzly bear. He miraculously survives but not by much. He has to be carried around on a stretcher for the next hour of the movie and he’s essentially rendered mute and immobile.
  • He is then abandoned by the majority of his fellow fur trappers, leaving two in charge of getting him home. And to make things worse, before they abandon him, he’s forced to helplessly watch his son get stabbed to death prior to getting half-buried in a makeshift grave. Ugh.
  • He is then forced to escape a group of Arikara by being whisked away by some heavy rapids. He floats down the violent rapids while doing his best to avoid sharp, jutting rocks before being flung down a waterfall. He, once again, miraculously survives.
  • After bravely rescuing a young girl from being raped (allowing her to exact her revenge), Glass steals a horse and races off. After a peaceful night’s sleep, things get difficult again. He’s awakened by another group of Arikara, forced to flee on his horse and (in a scene not unlike Wile E. Coyote), he rides his horse right off a cliff, injuring himself further and killing the horse. The only thing missing was him pausing in the air before plummeting down. This guy just can’t catch a break.
  • After regaining consciousness, in order to make it through the night, he cuts open the horse, pulls out its remains and gets all nice and cozy inside the carcass.
  • When Glass is finally found by his men, the hunting party leader says “Jesus Christ, what happened?” Leo’s line back should have been “You don’t want to know.”

As the movie went on, I found myself watching it through the lens of This is Leo doing whatever he needs to do to finally win that Oscar. He’s leaving it all on the floor. He’s pulling out all the stops. He’s going through all this shit and just daring the Academy to not give him the statue.

Apart from Leo’s performance, which I hope wins him Best Actor, this was a remarkable movie. It was unlike any other movie I’ve seen. And in a world where it’s hard to produce truly original and unique content, this is a difficult task to achieve. Like the first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit or Yeezus, this movie felt groundbreaking. Everything from the score to the sound effects to the spit and blood on the camera lens. I was sucked in from the first frame to the last.

One more thing. From 2007 to 2014, Jon Hamm was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series at the Emmys for his portrayal of Don Draper on Mad Men. That’s eight straight nominations. Last year, he won his first and only. One for eight. When he won that award, there was a sense that an incredible actor had finally got his due for an amazing character.

So come on, Oscars. Let’s let the world breathe a collective sigh of relief and hand the trophy to Leo this time around. This will be his fifth acting nomination at the Oscars. It’s not quite eight but still, let’s give him this one.

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Grantland will be dearly missed but never forgotten

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With the Internet these days, it’s hard for most people to concentrate on one thing for a long time. There’s even an expression for it, TLDR, which stands for “Too long, didn’t read.” There’s too much stimulation online, too many options. Researching dog breeds can turn into Hotline Bling memes minutes later. It’s tough to stay focused online. The result is that we become a jack of all trades but a master of none. We don’t take deep dives anymore. We stay in the shallow end, where it’s safe.

Grantland, which suffered a quick and painful death this past Friday, wasn’t afraid to take deep dives. That’s what made it special. And that’s why I’ll miss it like it was a family member.

If the rest of the Internet was fast food, then Grantland was a slow-cooked beef brisket. Quality over quantity.

From what I’ve heard, Grantland didn’t make ESPN a lot of money. If you think of clicks as monetary values, then this makes sense. The site was split up into two blogs (one sports and one pop culture) and one features section. Off the top of my head, Grantland would publish approximately 8-10 blog posts and 3-4 feature articles per day, in addition to various audio and video content. Oh, and Grantlanders were 9-5ers, never publishing on evenings and weekends.

Given the financial state of online print journalism, this was a ballsy move. While their competitors were going HAM updating their websites to turn clicks into revenue, Grantland stuck to its model. There were no listicles. There was no clickbaiting. Just quality, thoughtful, well-researched long-form journalism.

There was Rembert Browne’s storytelling, whether he was on Air Force interviewing the President or in the middle of it all in Ferguson, Missouri. There was Jonathan Abrams giving us an inside look at Matt Barnes and Joakim Noah. There was Andy Greenwald making me anticipate the recaps almost as much as the episodes themselves for Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. They even invented a word: Precaps! There was Zach Lowe, perhaps the most impressive basketball mind out there, getting us ready for NBA seasons with his crazy predictions and his reads of the league. And there was not much on the Internet more fun than the brackets that Grantland rolled out. To name a few, George Costanza was the top “second banana”, The Empire Strikes Back was the winning sequel, Hey Ya won best song of the millennium and “footage” won 2014.

And then, of course, there’s Bill Simmons, the mind behind Grantland. Bill often talked about the importance of taking risks with the site. To try things out, to push the envelope. And that’s what they did from 2011 until this past Friday. In the end, Grantland felt more like a group of friends than anything else and I believe that, to an extent, that’s what Bill was going for. I’m going to miss this bunch and will consume their content wherever they end up. Given the amount of talent on the team, I don’t see them struggling to find work. So thanks for the memories, Grantland. It was a great run, indeed.

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The Gravity Experience

At times, I felt nauseous. Other times, claustrophobic. Most of the time, I felt downright uncomfortable, like I was struggling to get back to Mother Earth just like George and Sandra. Like I was on a roller coaster where part of me wanted to stay on and the other part wanted to jump ship.

To be honest, I’m not even sure I enjoyed this movie. Enjoyed is not the right word. But I do know that it was all worth it.

In every sense of the word, Gravity was a unique moviegoing experience, experience being a term that gets thrown around a lot undeservedly but undoubtedly belongs here. It sounds corny but I didn’t just watch Gravity; I experienced it. I’ve seen a lot of movies in my day but I had never seen a movie like this. And even if the acting or dialogue was sub-par (Important note: It wasn’t), I would still give it a good review based purely on the ground that it broke.

Alfonso Cuarón seems to have figured out how to feed the hype machine. Basically, it comes down to quality over quantity. When you’re pumping out two movies a year (See Allen, Woody), you don’t leave much time for anticipation to build. But for whatever reason, Cuarón’s movies are few and far between. Y Tu Mamá También was 2001, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was 2004 and Children of Men was 2006. Gravity came out a few weeks ago, meaning seven years came and went without a Cuarón joint.

All of the hype was deserved. The first part of the movie was rather calm but left no doubt that trouble was around the corner. It was the calm before the space storm. And in a place as vast and wide and empty as outer space, trouble becomes that much harder to deal with. Hopelessness becomes the feeling du jour. You can’t call 9-1-1 or your parents when you’re in space. You can’t call an ambulance to your house. Did I mention that gravity doesn’t exist in space? Where in the world (or other worlds) will these people turn to for help? That’s what I was feeling for the refreshingly short one-and-a-half-hour runtime.

I think I know why it all felt so real to me: There were no scenes on Earth. From the very start, we are in space with the characters, and that’s where we stay until the very last moments. There were no flashbacks to Clooney at Mardi Gras or Bullock driving in her car. Space is the only reality Cuarón gives us and that’s what made the whole experience so claustrophobic.

General rule: When a movie makes you wonder how in the world they made this movie, that’s a good thing. It means that it’s new to you. It means that they’re pushing the envelope of what a movie can be. That’s what I liked about Gravity. It wasn’t playing on past conventions. It was unapologetically unique. This was a statement movie. It said “This is where we set the bar, try to top it.”

I’m sure Cuarón knows he’s achieved something special. And I’m almost positive the Oscars will agree. Gravity is almost guaranteed a nomination for Best Picture and Best Director. If they go all the way in one or both categories, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

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An open letter to Jesse Pinkman (SPOILER ALERT!)

Dear Jesse,

How are you holding up, buddy?

These past few years have been pretty rough on you. I mean, you’re still so young yet you’ve experienced a lifetime worth of tragedy. I can’t even begin to comprehend the depths of your despair right now, how entirely hopeless you must feel.

And by the way, I was pulling for you when you tried to escape from the Nazi prison. Really pulling for you. Slick move asking Todd to leave the sheet off so you could see the stars. Sorry it didn’t work out. I still think that guy, unlike his uncle and his buddies, has some empathy left in his body. And doesn’t it seem like he’s totally crushing on Lydia?

Anyway, back to you. You must really have it out for Mr. White right now. I mean, wasn’t this string of tragic events set off when he became a part of your life? It’s not like you were doing great before he came along but it’s fair to say that things have quickly deteriorated since you two went into business together.  What would you do if a defenseless Mr. White was standing in front of you right now? Wait, don’t answer that question. I don’t even want to know.

I mean, the guy made you kill Gale Boetticher even though, deep down, you’re a decent person with a good heart who doesn’t want to hurt, let alone kill, anybody. He could have saved your ex-girlfriend Jane when she was choking on her own vomit but chose to simply walk away and let her die. And what a moment to tell you that little piece of news, right?! Talk about adding insult to injury. And please, don’t even get me started on him poisoning Brock.

And finally, even though it was the Nazis who shot Andrea, isn’t Walt indirectly responsible for that as well? I can still hear your screams, Jesse. Through that mouth gag they tied around you. Oh, those screams will be with me for a while.

And to top it all off, Mr. White was never that nice to you, was he? Treated you more like a punching bag than a partner, you know what I’m saying? In fact, there’s even a YouTube clip devoted to him yelling at you. Being called a junkie and an idiot over and over must not have helped things much. I guess given your current circumstances, you can’t really click on that link. Sorry about that. Consider it something to look forward to.

Yet despite all this, Mr. White still seems to be a hard man to pin down. On one hand, he’s completely evil but on the other, the motivation behind his actions could be considered honourable, right? You’ve heard him say it a million times. He’s doing all this for his family. I bet at one point you might have considered yourself part of his family. Guess not.

All that being said, he did save your life from those drug dealers. And he did bring you into a business that made you a millionaire, even though all that’s gone right now, last I checked. And I genuinely feel that part of him still thinks of you as a son-figure. I think that deep down, he cares about you, Jesse. What he does next will determine to what extent.

But there’s at least one person left in this world who you do still care about, Jesse. One person out there who still needs you. No, I’m not talking about Badger and Skinny Pete though they seem like pretty cool dudes.

I’m talking about Brock. Before Mr. White came in and complicated everything, you seemed to be at your happiest when you were with Andrea (R.I.P.) and Brock. Playing video games and what-not. That Fruit Loops-eating kid may be your last glimmer of hope in a world that must seem like a living hell to you right now. A world you might have even considered leaving.

So hold on to the idea of that kid while you’re trapped down there, buddy. Put him in your thoughts and your dreams. Have him be your inspiration to escape your current, dreadful situation. After all, he’s an orphan now. He’s going to need a father figure in his life. This wasn’t my idea but I think the best-case scenario right now for you is that, somehow, someway, you get to raise that kid. If I had things my way, this would be the ending I would wish for.

I want something good to happen to you, Jesse. Something to put a smile on your face and help you put this whole mess behind you. And here’s some free advice: If you do get out and you do get to raise this kid, stay away from the drugs. This means making them, taking them, or selling them. Put all of your energy into Brock’s future.

This is the ending I hope for you. I can’t wait to see what happens.

Yours sincerely,

Jamie

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On the troubling trend of 3D re-releases and the first one I saw

“Hold on to your butts.”

I never saw Titanic 3D. I never saw The Lion King 3D. In fact, I had never seen any 3D re-releases until this past week.

The whole idea of paying to see a movie that came out years before feels like an admission that Hollywood has finally run out of ideas. And there’s indeed a case to be made that they have.

When it comes to 3D re-releases, I picture a board room meeting where the high-powered studio execs decide that it’s so much easier to just re-release a movie in three dimensions than it is to create a whole new one. And it’ll make boatloads of money! Who needs to produce, direct, cast, film, and edit a new movie when you have a whole collection of classics just waiting to be 3D-ized?

From their perspective, it’s a great business strategy: Continue to make money while significantly slashing your workload. But the danger has always been turning off your audience. After all, we’re a smart bunch. Don’t try to pull a fast one on us. Show some effort and maybe, just maybe, people will shell out $15 to see your piece of work. But the effort just has to be there. People are savvy like that.

Are they running that low on ideas that they need to remake Footloose? Maybe?

Needless to say, I was one of those turned-off people, which helps explain why I hadn’t seen a 3D re-release until now. Just so we’re clear, despite the onslaught of remakes and 3D re-releases, I do feel that great, new movies get released all the time. But the trend towards taking the easy way out still concerns me, a trend that led us to see Jurassic Park 3D in the first place.

Probably the main reason why we decided to see the movie was that there just weren’t many other options. Remember not too long when it was hard to decide what to see at the theatre? Like, what was it, less than a year ago? You had edge-of-the-seat thrillers like Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. You had quality historical fare like Lincoln and Django Unchained. You had films with complicated and troubled lead characters like Flight and Silver Linings Playbook. And you had visually-pleasing offerings like Life of Pi and Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Now? What do we really have? G.I. Joe? Scary Movie V? I remember a few weeks ago, the best bet was something called Identity Thief. I never did make it.

So that’s why Jurassic Park was the choice that was made, more or less by default. Never a good sign. All that being said, I was excited to see it. And going for the 3D was only part of it. I genuinely wanted to see this movie again. A movie I would call the “Titanic of the 90s,” anybody in their mid-20s to mid-30s has a soft spot for Alan and Ellie, Tim and Lex. And don’t forget about the dino-sawus.

With that in mind, here are some scattered thoughts on Jurassic Park, 20 years after its release:

  • This is still a scary movie. If I hadn’t already seen it five-plus times and didn’t know every single surprising moment, I definitely would have jumped out of my seat a few times.
  • It’s a testament to how advanced the visual effects were back in 1993 that they didn’t feel dated in 2013. Sure, maybe the T-Rex looked a tad robotic compared to what they could have done today but people forget just how ahead of its time this movie was when it was first released.
  • Wayne Knight (aka Newman) was faaat. OK, maybe this was  because of the 3D but his moobs were on full display.
  • Two competing theories on Samuel L. Jackson: Either he hates wasting tobacco or he loves the taste of cigarette filters. Please discuss.

  • In the scene where Alan and Tim have to climb down the tree before the Jeep crushes them to bits, why don’t they just climb sideways? This bothered me when I was 11 and it continues to bother me now. I’m 30.
  • Jeff Goldblum definitely wins top prize for the award I just made up called “Most Memorable Lines from Jurassic Park.” Sadly, if it wasn’t for that whole T-Rex thing, maybe more would have been busted in the second half of the movie. Some examples, you say? Sure thing.
    • “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
    • “But again, how do you know they’re all female? Does someone go into the park and, uh … pull up the dinosaurs’ skirts?”
    • “Eventually you plan to have dinosaurs in your dinosaur tour. Right? Hello? (Tap the camera lens) Hello?”
  • Why are Bob Peck’s shorts so short? And why is his gun so big? Well, I guess I know the answer to the second question: Because how could he “have the slightest idea what to expect?”
  • The score to this movie is one of the most epic scores of all time. Listen to the main theme and try to think of something other than dinosaurs. I dare you! Look, I even embedded the link!

 

  • I’m no doctor but Tim survives a 100,000 volt electric shock. Discuss.
  • Speaking of Tim, he is played by Joseph Mazzello, who played Roarke in The River Wild, one of the all-time “I’ll watch this cause it’s on TV” movies. I only included this because I couldn’t remember what other movie I’d seen him in. OK fine, I liked The River Wild.
  • When I was a kid, I didn’t like the scenes where they fed live animals to the dinosaurs. Now , I’m a sort-of adult and I still don’t like them.
  • When I was a kid, I didn’t care that they killed off the blood-sucking lawyer. Now, I’m a sort-of adult and…wait, I still don’t care.

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Sixteen things that technology has made obsolete: Part 1 of 2

If you were born after, let’s say, 1987, then some of these references may mean nothing to you.

Moreover, if you happen to be a post-1987 kid, you may be surprised/shocked/empathetic/downright saddened that your fellow human beings, at one point in time, actually had to suffer through these things.

You may think “Wait, people didn’t always have phones in their pockets that told them absolutely anything about everything?” or “Wait, people actually had to leaf through huge, heavy books with ridiculously thin, cheap paper to find a phone number to order a pizza? You’re talking about that book that I use to prop up the kitchen table?” For the record, the answers to these questions are, respectively, No and Yes.

To put it simply, information is just so damn easy to access these days. It’s in our phones which are in our pockets, which have wires attached to them that connect to our heads. It’s in our fully-charged tablets and laptops lying around our homes, just waiting to be browsed. And it’s now showing up on our TVs and may soon be available on our wristwatches!

In fact, it could be argued that smartphones, smartTVs, smartwatches etc., are actually making us less smart: Too much information can lead to people not absorbing any at all. We (myself included) sit around browsing headlines and looking at gifs, without actually reading any full articles. In journalism school, we were actually taught to lean towards lists when writing for the web because users can’t be bothered to read full paragraphs.

Sad moment: The other day, for a fleeting moment, I was actually too lazy to click on a YouTube link. “Why can’t everything be a gif?” I thought. “Why do I have to take half-a-second of my life to click on something?”

Kids these days (for the record, I’m not thaaat old) could technically go their entire lives without ever having to physically open a book. Scary but true. With that in mind, here are sixteen things that we will never have to do anymore (unless we really want to). For the record, I have done all these things. Some I will miss; some I won’t. Here are the first eight, with the next eight to be posted soon.

Use the phone book

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The eulogy has been written and the casket has been lowered six feet under for the ol’ fashioned phone book for quite some time now. But I remember a time when I had to flip through dozens of pages to find a pizza delivery number. Or maybe to call Consumers Distributing which, coincidentally, is also dead. I remember thinking it was a genius move when they released the book with the White and Yellow Pages in the same issue. I suppose I won’t miss having to look up an electrician or an exterminator in this way, gunking up my fingers in the process. And stalkers must be especially happy that tracking people down has never been quicker.

Look up movie listings in a newspaper

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I remember always having to check what day it was to make sure I didn’t show up for a movie that wasn’t playing. These things always seemed more complicated than they needed to be: Why are Monday movie times different from Tuesday movie times? One of the unsolved mysteries of life, I guess. Thankfully, now we can search online to find out what movies are playing today, and not have to muck up our fingers to find out when American Pie is screening. AND we can find out what movie critics from around the world thought of the movie. AND a computer program was developed to calculate a quality-based percentage for each and every movie out there. Thank you Rotten Tomatoes.

Listen to a walkman or discman

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With the exception of my MacBook Pro, I’m not sure I’ve ever been more excited to get my hands on a piece of machinery as I was when I first acquired one of these. The headphones were huge and heavy but they friggin’ vibrated along with the rhythm of the song! What the hell is VMSS?! I had no idea then and I have no idea now but it seemed like an unimportant detail. Rocking Nevermind and Siamese Dream on this baby was awesome. Sturdy, too. I felt like you could wail it against the wall and it wouldn’t be any worse for wear.

Own a World Book Encyclopedia set

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I still have a vague recollection of the day that these babies arrived at our doorstep. The boxes were heavy as well. The bindings were just a little stiffer when you first opened them than every subsequent time. And the leather-bound editions still had that new book smell. Gone are the days when you had to open up the “A” book to find out just how many people live in Australia or the “P” one to find out the chief exports of Portugal. For the record, I never looked up either of these things, nor do I know them. Nowadays, I think we can all agree that Wikipedia is super awesome. Random thing I learned from this picture: More words begin with “C” and “S” than other letters. Thank you, picture.

Buy CDs

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Remember how the CD was always a little harder to pull out of the case the first time you did so? I always had this fear that the disc would somehow snap right then and there, inevitably leading to deep sobbing. At the time, there was no feeling quite like peeling the plastic off the new Nirvana or Radiohead CD. If a CD costs $14.99, it was a great deal. If it costs $21.99? Fuhgeddaboudit. Never bought ’em. Random fact that may or may not even be a fact: Track 7 was always the best track. Go ahead. Do some research.

Rent movies from Blockbuster

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This is another thing I miss. Sometimes. It always seemed to take at least 30 minutes to come to a consensus on which movie to rent but it was usually a fun 30 minutes. Walking up and down those aisles was an intimidating thing. Even worse was when you finally found the perfect flick only to realize that there’s no smaller case behind the bigger case, meaning of course that all copies were checked out. “Man, I really wanted to watch Face/Off tonight!” Random memory: Browsing through the free movie posters that were being given out. I was always miffed that they’d give these things out! I thought they were stupid. I mean, couldn’t they sell them to some poster store on Yonge Street for 10 bucks a pop? Always felt like Christmas.

Use the VCR to tape shows

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At my place, all our VHS tapes were clearly labeled because nobody would be too happy if our one copy of True Lies got taped over. Notice how the term “taped over” has totally left our vocabulary? As in “Yo, why’d you tape over my show?” When you could set the VCR to tape a show, this was always a frightening idea. You just never completely trusted it, did you?

Use a real map made out of real paper

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I (and apparently this guy) never understood why they made these things so damn hard to fold. I would always venture to do it the “correct” way, then give up and just go ahead and fold where folding should never happen. Just roll it into a ball and call it a day. Like many of the things on this list, compared to how we do things today, map reading was time-intensive. But it was satisfying in the end when you finally figured it out, wasn’t it? I’ve read stories about how GPS is making us directionally-challenged and this doesn’t surprise me one bit. That being said, I kinda like having a map of anywhere in the world in my pocket at all times. How far we’ve come.

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I entered the mind of an old, white guy and made Oscar picks

The Oscars matter to a lot of people for a lot of different reasons, and this isn’t limited to those in “the biz.”

These shiny, little guys help determine an actor's legacy

These shiny, little guys help determine an actor’s legacy

But for those in the filmmaking world, the effects, both positive and negative, are obvious. Whether you directed it, starred in it or make-up’d it (that’s right, I just turned make-up into a verb), the number of Oscar nods and wins your film gets will ultimately play a huge role in determining how much cash your project will pull in, what your next job will look like/whether you get a next job at all, not to mention how your work will hold up historically (i.e., what kind of legacy it will leave behind).

Think about this: When you and your friends are having the inevitable silly debate (one with no clear answer) on whether Denzel Washington had a better career than Leonardo Dicaprio, for example, wouldn’t somebody look up their Oscar records? Isn’t this the closest thing we have to hard evidence? It’s like queuing up Kobe and Jordan’s career numbers to determine who’s better (Spoiler alert: It’s probably Jordan).

For the actors themselves, Oscar nods and wins represent their livelihood. Actually, livelihood might not be the best word: A lot of the time, it’ll help determine whether they’ll be a millionaire movie star or a multi-millionaire movie star. I don’t think their livelihoods are at stake unless someone can find me the Latrell Sprewell of Hollywood. For these guys and gals, more nods and statues means more lucrative offers from movie studios, more freedom to pick and choose passion projects over boring can’t-miss blockbusters, not to mention bragging rights for the rest of their lives.

It’s like winning the NBA championship. You don’t think Kobe invites Shaq to his house to show off his five rings? Or at least tweets at him? You don’t think Jack Nicholson lunches with Tom Hanks to show him his three statues compared to Hanks’ mere two? OK, maybe these things don’t happen but at the very least, there’s a strong sense of self-satisfaction to know you’ve beaten out your rivals. As with any job, career success in the movies has to have some sort of barometer and, for better or worse, that measuring stick is the Academy Awards.

In short, those involved in filmmaking wear nominations and victories like badges of honour, the same way scouts sew those crest things onto their uniforms. It’s the ultimate validation of all the hard work they’ve done. And moviegoers aren’t much different. A hypothetical yet entirely conceivable conversation:

“Let’s go see Movie A. It had six nominations and two wins,” Moviegoer #1

“But this one had 12 nods and three wins!” Moviegoer #2

“OK, sold,” Moviegoer #1

The effects of exchanges such as these should be obvious. Higher success at the Oscars equals a higher level of curiosity in seeing your particular piece of work equals more money earned and so on and so forth. So with all the fame, all the money and all the “livelihoods” at stake, who’s making the decisions here? Who’s helping to seal the fate of a particular actor, director, editor or make-up artist? Well, it turns out, like many who pull the strings in our world, it’s a bunch of old, white guys. According to CBS, the Academy (the 5,000 plus team that decides Oscar nominations and winners) looks something like this:

  • 54% are older than 60 and 2% are younger than 40
  • 94% are white and 6% are something other than white
  • 77% are male and 23% are female

I’m not one to judge but given these stats, is it really that surprising that films such as Brokeback Mountain or The Social Network didn’t pull off the Best Picture category? Gay cowboys and some Internet thingy called Facebook didn’t speak to a bunch of senior citizens? Quelle surprise.

This is all to say that people should take into account the way in which Oscars are decided when making their own picks. One would assume in order to make the most accurate picks, one should  pretend, to the best of one’s ability, that one was born in the 1930s. But because I wasn’t born that long ago, I’ll just divide my Oscar picks into two categories: “What will win” and “What should win.” And I’ll throw in a random thought for fun. Disclaimer: I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees except for Amour and Les Misérables. I swear I have nothing against the French. Here we go.

Best Picture

What will win: Lincoln

You can’t get much more Oscar-friendly than a biopic about an American hero who freed the slaves and one that shows democracy at work.

What should win: Argo

In my opinion, this is the movie of the year. It’s well-paced and suspenseful, with a nice dash of humour thanks to John Goodman and Alan Arkin.

Random thought: Flight should have been nominated at the expense of one of the French ones. Actually, I’d replace both with Flight and Looper. Again: nothing against the French here.

Best Director

Who will win: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln

I believe this will happen for the same reasons it will win Best Picture. Probably not as deserved as his other two Best Director award-winning films (Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan), both of which were vastly superior to Lincoln in my opinion.

Who should win: Ang Lee for Life of Pi

Lee should win for the simple reason that he took a book about a kid and a tiger lost at sea and made it into something highly watchable for, at the very least, aesthetic reasons.

Random thought: David O. Russell will win this category at least once in his career. Just not this year.

Best Actor

Who will win: Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln

Probably well-deserved although it’s hard for me to pick him given that I wasn’t crazy about the movie.

Who should win: I’ll say Bradley Cooper in a squeaker over Denzel Washington.

Both were amazing in their roles but Denzel’s already won two of these things so let’s give the young’un some love.

Random (Denzel) thoughts: Number one: How did he not win for Philadelphia? Number two: It’s a testament to his career that it’s extremely difficult to think of a bad Denzel movie. I even have a soft spot for Unstoppable, which basically involved Denzel trying to stop a train that wouldn’t stop.

Best Actress

Who will win: Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild

The Academy has a tendency to choose winners that will make for the best story. Not only is she nine friggin’ years old but she also put in a great performance in a great movie. Bonus points for the idea of journalists trying to spell her name as they prep their stories for the next day.

Who should win: Probably Quvenzhané actually!

Yes, I just copied and pasted her name. Although Jennifer Lawrence (aka J-Law) may pull off the upset.

Random thought: Although many have pegged Jessica Chastain as the favourite here, there was nothing about her performance that was incredibly Oscar-worthy in my mind.

Best Supporting Actor

Who will win: Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook

One of the best actors of our generation deserves to have a third Best Actor win and I think he gets it here. The fact that he’d win it for playing a fragile father figure after winning his other two playing cold-hearted gangsters speaks to his impressive acting range.

Who should win: Probably De Niro.

I’d say Christoph Waltz but his character felt too much like his role in Inglourious Basterds, just less multilingual.

Random thought: Waltz should send Quentin Tarantino a bouquet of flowers (or whatever guys send guys) for rejuvenating his career. Or should I have said ‘juvenating? Wait, that’s not a word. Moving along…

Best Supporting Actress

Who will win: Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables

I haven’t seen this movie but this is the part of the show where the 2013 Oscars celebrates the musical. And then ceases to for the rest of the night.

Who should win: I’m not really sure I know or care so I’ll go with Sally Field, only because that would make it 29 years since her last Oscar. Almost as long as I’ve been alive.

Random thought: Helen Hunt is still acting? I wonder what Paul Reiser’s up to these days.

That’s it, that’s all. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I like Curfew for Best Live Action Short Film and Fresh Guacamole for Best Animated Short Film. Just kidding. I didn’t even know those categories existed. Mmm guacamole…

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