We Won Best Picture.

moonlight-best-picture-oscars-jordan-horowitz-2017-academy-awards-abcWhat a night!

Leave it to a telecast celebrating the films of 2016 to have a shocking surprise in store at the end. Last year, the modest Spotlight bested the bombastic The Revenant in the Best Picture race, even after Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu won Best Director. This wasn’t a total shocker, because The Revenant was a more divisive film than Spotlight, which everyone pretty much agreed was at least good. But I predicted The Revenant in my Oscar pool because I was being a realist — and also because I convinced myself that predicting the movie I wanted to win would mean it wasn’t going to.

This year, like most prognosticators, I predicted La La Land, taking the same strategy. Again, the film I actually wanted and hoped would win did.

Apparently, there is something to my theory after all.

You’re welcome, Moonlight.

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Love In A Hopeless Place: ‘Jackie’ Is A Requiem For The American Dream

jackie-natalie-portman-caspar-phillipson She remembers how hot the sun was in Dallas, and the crowds — greater and wilder than the crowds in Mexico or in Vienna. The sun was blinding, streaming down; yet she could not put on sunglasses for she had to wave to the crowd.

And up ahead she remembers seeing a tunnel around a turn and thinking that there would be a moment of coolness under the tunnel. There was the sound of motorcycles, as always in a parade, and the occasional backfire of a motorcycle. The sound of the shot came, at that moment, like the sound of a backfire, and she remembers Connally saying, “No, no, no, no, no…”

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The Perils Of Being A Wallflower: Outcasts Pay The Price In ‘Indignation’

Indignation-Sarah-Gadon-logan-lerman-carForgive me. I know it seems much too early to talk about the Oscars, but we’re getting into that time of year now. So far, 2016 has been all but entirely barren of buzzworthy performances. I have a small handful of favorites, but only one or two that are certain to make the cut on my “Not Oscars” list next year.

The new film Indignation is one of those “wait and see” films, released in spring or summer or early fall, which most people agree has some noteworthy work, but no one’s quite willing to bet on it yet. After all, we know there are bigger, flashier things in the pipeline — Tom Hanks, Viola Davis, Casey Affleck, Denzel Washington, and other familiar faces are attracting plenty of early chatter about their awards chances in forthcoming releases. Nothing in Indignation is quite striking enough to challenge them, but you never quite know how things will pan out. The film has made over $2 million in a smallish release and is playing well with critics and audiences. It’s the kind of film that just might have staying power.

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Hard.in.the.City’s 2015 Oscars Drinking Game

SANDRA-BULLOCK-ENVELOPENo, Academy Awards drinking games are nothing new or novel, and yes, every other more reputable pop culture website has already posted one.

But if I’m going to be watching the Oscars, and I’m going to be drinking, and I’m going to be playing a game, I may as well be playing my own Oscars drinking game, so here it is.

I tried to avoid some of the most obvious ones, because I know me some Oscars, and if I wanted to, I could seriously get you drunk before 6 PM.

Have fun, everyone!

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The Not-Oscars 2014

not-oscars-2014-pelon-mommy-russo-nightcrawler-gyllenhaal-force-majeur.jpgOnce again, it’s Oscar time.

This year’s race is gearing up to be one of the least predictable in recent memory. For every race that has an all-but-guaranteed winner (Julianne Moore, Best Actress; J.K. Simmons, Best Supporting Actor), there are as many that are truly up in the air — some with not only two possible winners, but several. Best Actor? It’s anybody’s guess whether it goes to Eddie Redmayne or Michael Keaton, and an upset by Bradley Cooper isn’t out of the question. Will the Academy reward Richard Linklater’s assured hand at shepherding Boyhood, a 12-year-in-the-making indie that’s full of genuine emotion and about as naturalistic as film can be, or Alejandro Inarritu’s brash, attention-grabbing stylings in the seemingly editless celebration of artistic ego Birdman? We’ll have to wait and see.

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History Boys: The Brilliant British Lads Of ‘Theory,’ ‘Pride’ & ‘Imitation’

ben-schnetzer-mark-ashton-pride It happens every year. That handsomely produced movie, often British, usually a period piece. It’s a perfectly fine film — unchallenging, uncomplicated, more or less forgettable. It has the right stars, the right tone, the right credentials, the right subject matter, and most importantly, the right budget for an awards campaign. (It helps if the Weinsteins are involved.)

Every year, one or two of these titles sneak their way into the Oscar race. Occasionally, they gain such steam that they actually win the big prizes. The most notable example in recent years? The King’s Speech, which won Best Picture shortly before no one ever spoke of it again. Seriously, when was the last time you heard someone mention The King’s Speech in conversation? Does it stick out in your mind as one of the strongest films of the past decade? The King’s Speech defeated Black Swan, Toy Story 3, Inception, and most shamefully, The Social Network, all movies I’ve heard people talk about over the past few years.

The King’s Speech is fine. But it didn’t deserve an Academy Award for Best Picture. It’s just that sometimes, the safest choice is the choice that takes home the big prize.

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