86th Academy Awards Picks and Predictions (2014)

Once again, it’s time for Oscar predictions.  I did pretty well last year, getting 16 correct, but this year will be more of a challenge.  Not only is this year one of the most up in the air group of nominees in recent memory, but I’ve seen very few of the major nominees. (There are a variety of reasons for that.) So this year’s predictions might be way off.

Best Short Film, Live Action:
Prediction: Aquel no era yo (That Wasn’t Me)
My Pick: N/A

Best Short Film, Animated:
Prediction: Get a Horse!
My Pick: Get a Horse!
Get a Horse! may not have been the most beautiful or deep or meaningful or profound animated short in recent years, but it was fun, clever and creative, and being attached to Frozen probably doesn’t hurt.

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86th Academy Award Nominations (2014)

The Academy Award nominations for 2014 were announced this morning.  Read on for my thoughts and for the full list. Continue reading

What I want to see from tomorrow’s Oscar nominations

The Oscar nominations will be announced tomorrow morning, and while I try every year to predict the winners I won’t even attempt to try to guess the nominees.  However, I do have some things I would like to see when the nominations are announced tomorrow.  I’ve divided these into two categories: actual, genuine “Possibilities” and “Not a Chance”.  I may be hopeful, but I try to keep things at least moderately realistic.  I’ve left out some of the more obvious ones, like Gravity for Best Picture, Director, Actress and all of the technical categories, simply because I think that they’re foregone conclusions and I’m not really sweating them.  Come back later tomorrow after the nominations have been announced (and I’ve gotten home and can actually write about them) for some quick thoughts on who made the cut and who was left out.  In the meantime, read on for the names and films I would like to hear Chris Hemsworth read outtomorrow. Continue reading

My Top 10 (and Bottom 3) at the Movies in 2013

Now that 2014 is well under way it’s a good time to look back at the movies of 2013.  I went to the movies 40 times in 2013, a pretty low number for me, seeing 32 new films (the other 8 were either movies I saw more than once or classics I got the chance to see on the big screen).  Through a variety of reasons, I’ve managed to miss most of the big awards contenders including 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Her, Philomena and The Wolf of Wall Street, unlike last year when I had seen most of them.  Instead of simply ranking my favorite films from the past year, however, I prefer to highlight my top 10 (and bottom 3) movie-related things from 2013.  Some of these will be particular movies or performances, some will be scenes or aspects of production, and some are bits of news or interpretations.  I hope you enjoy it, and remember to let me know your favorite (or least favorite) film-related things from 2013! Continue reading

Analysis: Saving Mr. Banks and Disney Ideology

Saving Mr. Banks is an interesting film, and one that’s deeper than it may appear at first glance.  The story of P. L. Travers and Walt Disney and the making of the 1964 film Mary Poppins is used as a way to examine how we deal with the harsh realities of the world in which we live and also what responsibilities we have towards preparing children for those realities.  It examines how the events of our youth shape our lives as adults and presents some of the choices we can make about how to live our lives.  It offers a critique of the pre-judgments that people have a tendency to make, particularly as it pertains to Disney as a man, a company, a brand and an ideology.  It defends that ideology specifically, without invalidating other methods of thought.  And it has done all of this while facing some surprisingly harsh criticism and claims that the film is nothing but propaganda.  I feel like that makes it ripe for some analysis.  (Spoilers Below!)

*Disclaimer:  For those who regularly read this blog, it’s fairly obvious that I’m a Disney fanatic.  I’m a stock-owning, fanclub-card-carrying, happy-to-take-every-vacation-to-the-parks obsessive.  I seek out every Disney experience I can find, but more than that I buy into the ideology.  Whether that makes me a mindless drone or a corporate stooge (I promise I’m not getting paid by Disney, though I’d love to be) is for someone else to decide.  The short of it is that I am in no way unbiased when it comes to Disney, and I’ve defended the company before.  And while it hurts whenever something we love is criticized, my goal here is not for this to simply be one more “Disney is awesome and how dare you say otherwise!” post, but instead an examination of the film and what it has to say about varying worldviews and the Disney ideology in particular.  Take from it what you will.  You can read my review of the film here.

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Review: Saving Mr. Banks

Mary Poppins is a legendary figure in 20th century pop culture.  From the eight books written by P. L. Travers to the 1964 Disney musical (and the 1984 Soviet version), to the 2004 stage version, to the 30 Mary Poppins’ who showed up at the 2012 London Olympics to vanquish the villains of British literature, there are probably very few people who are not at least familiar with the famous nanny.  But while Travers’ books were famous decades beforehand, most people probably know Mary Poppins through the Disney film, which is one of the most famous and successful films of its time, garnering 13 Oscar nominations (and 5 wins), launching the film career of Julie Andrews, and filling our heads with memorable music.  In fact, I would guess that these days far more people have seen the film than have read the books, and those who have read them most likely did so after seeing the movie.  But what most people probably don’t know, and what Saving Mr. Banks sets out to tell, is the story of how the film was made, and the struggle of Walt Disney and P. L. Travers to find a way to understand each other.

It’s 1961 and Mrs. Travers (as she likes to be called) is having some financial difficulties.  Continue reading

D23 Movie News Roundup

This year’s D23, a conference every two years exclusively for members of the D23 fan club, was full of news about upcoming projects, but unfortunately it wasn’t the news that people were expecting to hear.  There was no Star Wars casting announcement, no surprises from Marvel or Pixar, no Pirates of the Caribbean sequel.  What there was, however, was lots of smaller casting announcements, plus an in-depth look at some films which we previously only knew the title of.  I’m a D23 member, but I wasn’t at the conference this year, but read on for the highlights of what was announced and shown, along with some of my opinions. Continue reading

Poster: Saving Mr. Banks

I love movie posters, I even have a frame in my office at home that I use to rotate posters that catch my eye (it currently is displaying one from Skyfall).  Today, the Disney Parks Blog exclusively debuted the new poster for Saving Mr. Banks.  I looked at the trailer just last week, but check out the poster: Continue reading

Trailer Tuesday: Saving Mr. Banks

Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies, since I’ve always found them to be endlessly fascinating.

It’s been torture, having to wait until today to share this trailer with you.  I’ll save my thoughts for after, so go ahead and watch:

My obsession with all things Disney should be well know by this point to anyone who regularly reads this blog. Continue reading