crouching tiger, hidden stee

So last night I did about an hour of research, research I normally would have done long before, and made my predictions for me and my friend's annual two-person Oscar Nominations pool. It's for twenty bucks and has been going for ten years now. I won the first six, he won the last three. What we do is try to guess who will be nominated for Oscars in the eight following categories: Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Sup. Actor, Sup. Actress, Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay. Anyway, so after the last three humiliating losses, I was quite nervous and ill-prepared. But we made the phone call (there were years we had to make a cross-Atlantic phone call to do it, and we still did) and announced our picks. And this morning I got into work and logged on to the Oscar site, fingers crossed.

And I won, bitches. 33 to 32. Out of 40. A very good year. (Or a very predictable year.) I would have won by more, but I made a change at the very last minute that turned out to be wrong. The thing is, the years I've lost, I let my heart get involved. I chose people I truly didn't think had much of a chance, but deserved it and thus I felt somehow that if I made the choice, it would karmically help him. Like this year I thought You Can Count On Me was the best film. It was mentioned for Best Picture so it wasn't an insane choice. But did it really have a good chance? No. So I didn't pick it, whereas in prior years I might have.

Anyway, let's take a look at these major categories:


Hm. I have not seen Chocolat or CTHD. Chocolat just looks like another Miramax-pushed wacky-small-town-learns-about-sex-and-passion film. CTHD I just haven't gotten around to see. I'm not a huge kung-fu fan, but I like Ang Lee and by all accounts, I'll like this movie a lot. I think Erin Brockovich is a fine movie but I don't know if it deserves to be here. Traffic is fantastic. My second favorite film of the year. However, were this open in 1999, it would only be number 7 or so. That's how great last year was comparatively. Gladiator. Hoo. Don't get me started. I really disliked this movie. This was a charmless film with characters I really didn't give a crap about. I really don't even remember much detail about it -- that's how effective it was. As I said, You Can Count On Me deserves to be here. I can't think of much else. Wasn't a huge fan of Almost Famous or Cast Away or Wonderboys. Actually, I might put High Fidelity up here. I still have lots of other movies to see like Quills and Billy Elliott and Pollock and Before Night Falls. But here, I would give it to Traffic (having not seen CTHD).


Yeah, how bad-ass is Steven Soderbergh? Seriously. He started out making an extremely personal film, and has always been furiously original and artistically upstanding. I haven't liked all of his movies, but even when he makes an imperfect film like Out Of Sight or Erin Brockovich or The Limey, they are incredibly watchable and visually memorable. I don't know about his whole, "I'm going to operate my own camera from now on" thing -- that seems to diss trained Camera Ops. everywhere, but I'm really glad he's getting recognition like this. It's good to see that you can work the way you want to work, and eventually be recognized for it. I would give it to him for Traffic. Ang Lee is just fantastic, even though I'm still pissed at him for casting Jewel and Skeet Ulrich in his last movie; I blame it on not understanding the culture fully yet. Billy Elliot smacks of other wacky-limies-doing-wacky-things films that I hated, like Brassed Off! and The Englishman Who Went Up Your Mother, etc. I'm sure it's good, though. I would even bet that I'd like it. Just actually getting myself to go and not instead rent Coyote Ugly is another thing. Fuck Gladiator.

Javier Bardem
Russell Crowe
Tom Hanks
Ed Harris
Geoffrey Rush

Shamefully, I have only seen Crowe and Hanks. Tom Hanks was good. I'd like to say he wasn't, but he was. However, I will punish him for that last tacked-on-feeling monologue to his friend. I so much more liked what was said with silence during the first half of the film. Russell Crowe overdid it. He was much better in The Insider, where he was amazing. I usually like Ed Harris and Geoffrey Rush. I don't know, man. I'd rather see Mark Ruffalo, but I bet if nominated he would have been supporting. So I don't know.

Jeff Bridges
Willem Dafoe
Benicio Del Toro
Albert Finney
Joaquin Phoenix

Eh. You know, I've seen four of these. Willem Dafoe I have not seen, but he looks very funny and good. On the total opposite end of the spectrum is Jeff Bridges. He is my favorite actor and got noticed here for not really doing much. Here's an interesting question: would he have been nominated for the same kind of role in the same film were he not playing the President? And really, for an actor, the fact that you're "The President" means very little in terms of what you do and how you do it. Some, but not that much. Hey, I'd love him to win, but I don't know that he deserves it. Del Toro was great. I'd be happy if he won. Likewise Albert Finney. But seriously, if Joaquin Phoenix wins for his yelling, retarded performance, I'll… well, I'll just be kinda pissed and go back to eating my pizza, I'm sure.

Joan Allen
Juliette Binoche
Ellen Burstyn
Laura Linney
Julia Roberts

Joan Allen was great. I had big problems with the movie, but none of them were her fault. Don't know about Binoche. Ellen Burstyn was scary. Incredible and very sad and very scary. Many images of her from that film still haunt him. Laura Linney. Man. I had no feelings about her before, other than she vaguely annoyed me and I thought she was boring. But man, is she good in this movie. Julie Roberts. Eh. It's Julia Roberts. Hard to get excited by her acting. I would give it to Burstyn or Linney, but Joan Allen would be fine. I'm just still a little mad at her for doing Pleasantville.

Judi Dench
Marcia Gay Harden
Kate Hudson
Frances McDormand
Julie Walters

Judy Dench. She doesn't need another award. I mean, but if she's great, give it to her. I don't know yet. Julie Walters. I don't know. Kate Hudson. Oh shit, don't get me started. I hate Kate Hudson. I'm not even sure why. Much of it is the nepotism. And much of it is the ass-kissing job Hollywood and the media are doing on her without her having really earned it, other for the fact that she came from Goldie Hawn's vagina. I would love if either Marcia Gay Harden or Frances McDormand won. I just like Marcia Gay Harden and am sure she's incredible. McDormand impressed me so goddamn much in such a small role.


Wonder Boys was good; not my kinda movie, but good. Have not seen Chocolat or CTHD or O Brother. I love the Coens and Clooney, but I just haven't been that excited by this. I've heard such wildly different things about it. Traffic was a good script, but not one that impressed me that much. I would have given it to High Fidelity, which actually wasn't that easy to adapt. Or Requiem For A Dream, which must have also been difficult.


Almost Famous is very well-written, and there are so many good scenes and good lines, but structurally it's a mess. Which is odd. Crowe is usually so good. Haven't seen Billy Elliott. Brockovich is a good script. Very good. Again: Fuck Gladiator. And without even a thought, I would give this to You Can Count On Me. Kenneth Lonnergan is a New York playwright, which is a different skill in many ways, but one that makes me like him all the more. I just loved this movie. It's talkie and yet engaging and funny and ultimately very moving, without even that much in way of plot.

Well, that's it. I'm a little sad that Minnie Driver monkey heart movie didn't get nominated for Best Picture, but I'll have to learn to live with it. It'll be hard though.

The Robert Downey Jr. Happy Song Corner

I believe in miracles. Where are you from? You sexy thing. I believe in miracles. Since you came along. You sexy thing. Where did you come from baby? How did you know I needed you? How did you know I needed you so badly? How did you know I'd give my heart gladly? Yesterday I was one of the lonely people. Now you're lying close to me, making love to me. I believe in miracles. Where are you from? You sexy thing. I believe in miracles. Since you came along. You sexy thing. Where did you come from, angel? How did you know I'd be the one? Did you know you're everything I prayed for? Did you know every night and day for? Everyday your love has satisfaction. Now you're lying next to me, giving it to me. I believe in miracles. Where are you from? You sexy thing. I believe in miracles. Since you came along. You sexy thing. Kiss me (you sexy thing). Touch me baby (you sexy thing). I love the way you touch me darlin' (you sexy thing). You're sexy (you sexy thing). Yesterday I was one of the lonely people. Now you're lying close to me, making love to me. I believe in miracles. Where are you from? You sexy thing. I believe in miracles. Since you came along. You sexy thing. Touch me. Kiss me darlin'. I love the way you hold me darling. I love the way you kiss me darling. I love the way you hold me darling… speaking of which. Yeah, I used to believe in miracles too. That was until the day I had kitchen duties. I prayed for eight straight hours for some illness or something to befall Jimmy Tossmysalad. But it didn't. No it didn't. He showed up with his guys as promised. That was the worst day. He called me his "sexy thing," too. Thanks for reminding me.
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