My Best Picture Ranking for the 87th Academy Awards!

With great pleasure, I’d like to share my ranking of the Best Picture nominees for the 87th Academy Awards. I’m told this is how the real voters do it! They rank the films 1-8 and then “they” do some funky math to find out the winner. Apparently this ends up with some wacky decisions because the film with the most first place votes doesn’t necessarily win. (Remember, it’s always better for something to be average! Then people can’t hate it too much.)

So, this is obvious, but I’ll say it anyways: These are my opinions! The Oscars is just an awards show! I thoroughly enjoyed all these movies (except Boyhood). That being said, here’s what I thought…

8) Boyhood – I’m sorry to say this to anyone who enjoyed this movie but it’s the only nominee that I found to be a struggle to watch. I just wasn’t into it and the gimmick of having people age in real-time didn’t do anything for me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

7) Whiplash – I’ll say this, it’s an impressive feat to keep me engaged in a movie about a jazz drummer for two hours. JK Simmons was as excellent, as I had heard ,in a Full Metal Jacket kind of way.

6) The Theory of Everything – The acting was great, especially for such a difficult role, and it made me way more emotional than I thought it would. Though maybe the main character just lived too long for me (see: the next few movies on my list).

5) Selma – Martin Luther King Jr. is an idol of mine. I find a lot of the things he’s said to be so inspirational. I remember writing a paper on him when I was younger and being so amazed at how young he was when he was killed and how I thought he could do so much more if he had lived a full life (maybe the most obvious thing I’ve ever said). The movie does an excellent job showing one of his most admirable aspects, his views on non-violence, which I feel is so important to any cause.

4) American Sniper – A film that was so much better than I had expected. I went in with a few liberal biases going against it. I had heard it was glorifying war. That it was war propaganda. I found these claims to be unwarranted. At times it even seemed critical of war. To me, this was a movie about PTSD and the suffering it causes. I’m a complete pacifist. I hate the idea of war but I know it exists and I’m glad I’m not personally fighting in them. There were some moments that I thought were a little too corny for my tastes but overall a very compelling movie.

3) The Imitation Game – This movie made me cry. It was, like American Sniper, another movie I wasn’t totally looking forward to. I thought the trailers told the whole story and it wasn’t a story I really cared about. Then I actually saw it and I was so impressed. There was so much more to the movie than I thought there would be. Additionally, Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Alan Turing is my choice for acting performance of the year (though that’s not what this post is about).

2) Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – This could easily have been tied for my favorite film of the year—and the difference between 1 and 2 was my hardest—but I didn’t want to cop-out with my rankings. This movie kept me wondering what was happening in the most magical way. I was engaged in every moment. I think if there was a camera on me as I watched it, I’d be wide-eyed the entire time occasionally mouthing the word “woah.” I can understand why a lot of people didn’t like it. The movie was strange but that’s what made it so interesting. It also, despite some unreal scenes, felt so real to me and had such an honest sense of art. As I was watching this movie, I said to myself, “This is one of the coolest movies I’ve ever seen.” Also, the music, the directing, the acting, and the cinematography, all were amazing.

1) The Grand Budapest Hotel – The most enjoyable of all the movies nominated, which is really why I go to the movies. I’m admittedly biased towards both comedies and Wes Anderson but that’s the way it is. I love the acting, the writing, the scenery, how it was filmed, how it was edited, the use of models, everything. There were so many little details put into the movie, which I expect from directors like Wes Anderson. This is also, amazingly, the first Best Picture nomination for Wes Anderson, which is unbelievable to me. Bonus points from me for coming out as a wide release well before “Oscar season.”

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Agree? Disagree? I'd love to talk about it!Twitter #oscars

A stranger’s opinions on tattoos

Tattoo gunI was on the subway and overheard a conversation between a tattooed woman and a non-tattooed man about tattoos. This is how it went…

Man: I couldn’t get a tattoo.
Man: If I got one it would have to be a tribal.
Man: I don’t like graphic design.
Woman: I got a Gemini in a sun for a henna tattoo.
Man: I would get bored with where it is.
Man: I would like tattoos if you could change them.
Man: If I did get one, it would be a chest piece that goes over the shoulder.

Then they started talking about kinds of piercings and I got off the train.

Stream of consciousness opinions on the matter:

  • Distaste of tattoos is not the best way to hit on a someone with tattoos.
  • Don’t lots of douche bags get Tribal tattoos?
  • There are people who don’t like the concept of “graphic design?”
  • Interesting aside about henna tattoos.
  • I’m a Gemini.
  • Boredom about where a tattoo is before what a tattoo is?
  • The point of tattoos is that they’re permanent right?
  • For non-permanent tattoos, ask more about henna.
  • If decided on getting a tattoo, get the biggest tattoo possible.

photo credit: ~ Business @ ReThink Studio ~ via photopin (license), cropped by Matt Aromando.

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Did I miss something obviously dumb about this conversation?Twitter #tattoos

The Case for Morning Phase for Album of the Year

grammy award statuetteI’m not big into award shows for the pageantry of it all but I do find them interesting for learning about culture I might not otherwise expose myself to. Sometimes I even care who wins, Arcade Fire and The White Stripes both come to mind for artists I was proud of. So, With all due respect to fans of Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams, Sam Smith, and Ed Sheeran, there is only one artist who deserves to win Album of the Year at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. That award should be given to Beck for his album Morning Phase.

Now, good-better-best isn’t a perfect way to rank albums because tastes in music are subjective but I’m going to plead my case for Morning Phase as Album of the Year. A problem with a lot popular artists−and Beck has certainly gone in and out of this categorization−is that their albums tend to be built for clubs, bars, radio play, and I guess music videos. I have a hard time knowing why someone would buy an album by people like Lady Gaga, Eminem, or most of the Album of the Year artists. All the good songs will be singles with the rest of the album used as filler. Morning Phase is not like that. The album, all the way through, is part of the experience. There is no filler, and every song is worth listening to.

Unlike most people who listen to music, I still listen to albums. I dislike skipping around to just a couple of good songs and moving on. I like artists who have created an experience that only comes from a well paced, compete album. I can appreciate singular songs as much as the next person, but it doesn’t connect with me the way an album can. So people can like Beyoncé for her singles and her personality. People can like Pharrell for that Happy song. People can like Sam Smith for shrieking about how much money is on his mind. People can maybe like Ed Sheeran for, well, whatever people like him for.

I’ll take Beck’s Morning Phase, hands down the best and most complete of the albums nominated.

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Let’s Go Patriots!

Go-PatriotsI’ve never sincerely used the phrase “haters gonna hate” before the Patriot’s football deflation scandal—my preferred colloquialism being Ballghazi. The Patriots are a really good team and have been for a pretty long time now. Ballghazi is just an overblown response by people who despise the Patriots and think their fans are a bunch of fake people. Well I’ve rooted for my home team since before they ever won their first Super Bowl:

My brother and me wearing a whole bunch of Patriots gear (and, inexplicably, I’m also wearing a Dallas Cowboys hat but my childhood was full of fashion faux pas but at least the snowman is wearing a hat that says “Boston” on it).

I used to play NFL Quarterback Club ’99 as the Patriots all the time and that was with Drew Bledsoe as quarterback! (A game so unrealistic, I scored most of my touchdowns by just running Bledsoe around the opposing defense.)

One of my favorite childhood memories is watching the Super Bowl in 1997 with my family. It was the Patriots vs the Packers. I didn’t even totally understand the game—too many rules—but I knew which team I wanted to win. The Patriots lost but that didn’t really matter to me because I was a kid and I cheered for the home team. I hung up a pennant in my bedroom touting the AFC Champions and I was happy to have that.

So this Sunday, for Super Bowl XLIX, I’ll be rooting for the New England Patriots, just like I always have.

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Let’s ALL watch a movie

photo credit: BitKeeper82 via photopin cc

photo credit: BitKeeper82 via photopin cc

A man dressed in full subway construction worker gear sits down two seats away from me, with a woman seated in between us, and pulls out a Galaxy Note or some such phone of ridiculous size. He starts up a video player but doesn’t plug-in any headphones. We’re in a subway stop with a train loudly leaving the station. He tries to turn up the volume but it’s already at the max. I guess as soon as this train leaves, we’re all watching this movie.

I glance over, something is walking in the woods. My mind immediately goes to Lord of the Rings. Is this man trying to watch a two-hour long movie in bits and pieces aloud in subway stations?

I get a closer look. It’s not people walking around in the woods—or hobbits—it’s monkeys. The man laughs under his breath, “Heh, they’re just like humans.”

The woman who sits between the man and I says, confused, “I thought they were gonna talk but I guess they’re just gesturing.”

The construction worker says, “It’s, Planet of the Apes.” (Though I think he meant one of the newer ones, which are more specifically, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes but I doubt that distinction was necessary.)

Then the women replies, “I’ve never seen it.”

Well, I haven’t seen Rise/Dawn of the Planet of the Apes either but I’ve sure heard of one of the most famous movie franchises ever. They’ve made four of them, one like fifty years ago and three more this millennium. There’s no excuse for being unaware of this movie.

Now I don’t know who is annoying me more, the guy making me listen to a Planet of the Apes movie while I wait for my train to arrive or the woman who has probably never heard of Star Wars.

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