Thursday, February 28, 2013

In Character: Delroy Lindo

It says something of an actor who can capture the angst of Spike Lee, the vernacular of David Mamet, the humility of Lasse Hallström and the badassery of, well, anyone. But that’s Delroy Lindo. Made famous by delivering three stellar performances in Spike Lee films, Lindo has subtly been adding weight to “bigger” names for the better part of 20 years. Possessed with an undeniable charm, the ability to flex sudden terror, and a smile that can play as so many things, Lindo is one of the finest actors to have been involved in Spike Lee’s troupe. And any other troupe, for that matter.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spike Lee in Person, Part 2: the Q&A

Spike Lee answers questions from students at VCU (photo from
Welcome to Part 2 of Spike Lee’s recent visit to Virginia Commonwealth University. Yesterday, I chronicled the first part of Lee’s two and half hour discussion, in which he lectured the mostly young, black crowd about the importance of motivation, and the necessity of making education “cool” again. Lee’s words were inspiring, informative, and controversial, sometimes all at once. Thankfully, the Q&A portion of the evening allowed Lee to continue speaking his mind.

Plenty of questions were asked during the discussion, so I’ve split them into four distinct topics to help add separation to Lee’s thoughts.

For reference, feel free to check out my write-up about Spike Lee’s lecture at VCU. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spike Lee in Person, Part I: The Lecture

Spike Lee at VCU (photo from
The coolest thing happened to me last week. As I was leaving work last Thursday, I got online and noticed two tweets from Spike Lee, saying he was about to speak at VCU. Pessimistically assuming VCU meant anything other than what it inevitably did, I Googled to confirm, and sure enough, Spike Lee was going to be speaking at my alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University, that evening.

The event was sold out, but at the literal last minute, a very kind professor took pity on me and gave me an extra ticket he had. Genuinely, it was one of the kindest, most random acts I’ve ever been privy too.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar Week: My (Hopefully Not So) Dark Horse Oscar Picks

There’s a funny thing about Oscar Sunday: with every passing year, I seem to grow less and less interested in the crop of films that are nominated for Academy Awards. Don’t get me wrong, there are always some solid entries, but when compared to my personal favorite films of any given year, the Oscars simply don’t reflect my tastes. So here’s the funny thing. Despite my indifference toward the Oscar hopeful films, I’m still overly ecstatic for the big show. Why? Few reasons.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oscar Week: Reasons to Watch the Independent Spirit Awards

I love the hell out of the Independent Spirit Awards. They always take place under a large tent nestled on the California coast, the day directly before the Oscars. And considering attendees are encouraged to dress casually, drink heavily, and basically have a genuine good time, the Spirits are, in many respects, the antithesis of the Academy Awards. Here are a handful of reasons you shouldn’t forget to watch tonight’s broadcast (if it’s available to you), tonight on the Independent Film Channel at 10 p.m. EST.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Oscar Week: Top 20 Oscar Speeches

Want to know why I love the Oscars? Well, there are a few reasons, but certainly the most valuable is watching someone achieve their dreams right before your very eyes. Occasionally, someone involved in the film business wins an Oscar and instead of incoherently listing names or reading a speech they’ve written out of annoying presumption, they dig deep and a take few minutes to unveil who they really are. There’s something I find very moving in that experience. I hope you enjoy my picks and forgive the absence of names like Field, Hanks, Palance, Moore and Gooding, Jr. Their speeches gained notoriety, but the ones below drew on sensitivity.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oscar Week: Top 10 Best Actor Winners

If I learned one thing from my Top 10 Best Actress picks yesterday, it’s that I sincerely appreciate an actress’s ability to play a woman in peril. Similarly, the majority of my favorite Best Actor-winning performances are male characters at their most hopeless. Whether they’re battling revenge, insanity, alcoholism, or AIDS, most of the men below fought to remove themselves from situations they could not control. Some lived, some died, but they all won.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oscar Week: Top 10 Best Actress Winners

It really says something of my personal movie tastes that every single performance below was played an actress conveying a female at their most desperate. Or, at the very least, at their most unwilling. As in, unwilling to bow down and take it. Whether they were fighting the law, themselves, or would-be sexual abusers, the performances below represent my favorite Best Actress Oscar wins. Tomorrow, I’ll rank the fellas.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Oscar Week: Best Director - If I Chose the Winners

The rules for this post are the same as when I picked my personal winners of every Best Picture prize. While I’ve seen all of the respective films that caused filmmakers to win the Best Director Oscar, I certainly haven’t seen all of the nominees. So we’ll start my winners at 1939 and carry on down.

The Academy’s winners are in bold, while my picks are highlighted. And, just for trivia’s sake, I matched the Academy’s choice for Best Director 29 out of the 72 years I’m considering. A little better than my 23/72 Best Pictures. Enjoy!

Oscar Week: Ranking the Best Picture Winners

This post was originally going to list my Top 10 Best Picture Winners of all time, with reasons as to why… but I pretty much did the reasoning yesterday. So here are a few lists that better breakdown where my head’s at in terms of every film that has won Oscar’s top prize. Enjoy!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Oscar Week: Reviews of Every Best Picture Winner

A few years ago, in an amusing little twist of fate, I sat down and watched the final Best Picture winner that I hadn’t seen, which was the first film to ever win the top prize. And in my time of making my way through all of these films, I was privy to many exciting revelations, and a few dozen hours of intense monotony as well. Some of the films below are surprising accomplishments, others do next to nothing for me, while a handful simply speak for themselves. I hope you enjoy my thoughts on all the Best Picture winners, and feel free to share yours in the comments!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Top 10 Agenda Films That Provoke Discussion

Sometimes, the discussion that a film provokes can be more memorable than the film itself. For the purposes of this list, I’m avoiding the philosophical aspect of films, say, in the vein of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece is bound to elicit a discussion in the regard of What’s it all about?, but that’s different from what I’m driving at with this list. Similarly, most any film that spawns an ambiguous ending is going to provoke an inciting post-movie conversation, but, again, that’s separate from what I’m going for.

When I say “agenda film,” I’m talking about movies that pose an obvious moral dilemma, or examine social issues that often divide people. The possibilities here are endless, but below are a handful of films that have triggered memorable discussions with my friends and family after the fact.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Motifs of Cinema: Love

At one point in Billy Wilder’s masterpiece, The Lost Weekend, helpless alcoholic and sometime writer Don Birnam says, “Love is the hardest thing in the world to write about. It’s so simple. You’ve got to catch it through details.”

That couldn’t be more accurate, and it is exactly what Andrew from Encore’s World of Film and TV has tasked a handful of bloggers to do. Or, more specifically, what I tasked myself to do, after Andrew asked me to choose from a list of themes he thought best-encapsulated 2012.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

In Character: Margo Martindale

Margo Martindale’s Texas birthright is as much to thank for her career as anything else. This truly phenomenal actress has been featured in countless films and television shows, won a Primetime Emmy, stolen my heart, and beaten me down, all thanks to two things: southern charm mixed with country angst.

When Martindale plays kind, she can give a look that will bring tears to your eyes. But when she plays mean, she plays mean. I love her honesty, am drawn to her sensitivity, and am continually wowed by her malice. Simply put: Margo Martindale is one of the finest character actors we have working today.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The SONSOFBITCHES Snubathon: A Decade of Oscar Snubs

Mette of Lime Reviews and Strawberry Confessions (what a perfect blog name, by the way) is heading up a blogathon in which she’s asked fellow bloggers to discuss their biggest personal movie awards snubs. Seeing as I’m a huge fan of calling The Academy on their faults, I jumped at the opportunity to partake.

Initially, I was tempted to write about one egregious snub in particular, but I’ve leant enough space to that exclusion on this blog already. Instead, motivated by Mette’s instructions to follow “no guidelines or restrictions” for this post, I’ve drafted a list of the 10 biggest Oscar snubs over the past decade. One snub per year, no matter the category.

I hope you enjoy my picks, and props to Mette for starting such a cool blogathon!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Side Effects

If there’s one thing to say about Steven Soderbergh, it’s that the man never had any interest in making the same film twice. Sure, he made two sequels to Ocean’s Eleven (which are wildly different from one another, to better or worse degrees, I’ll let you decide), split his epic, Che, into two parts, and conveyed his stories in similar fashions, but for all intents and purposes, I’ve never seen Soderbergh repeat himself.

If anything, it is his perfect style and flawless craft that links his films together. You can always tell, within minutes, that you’re watching a Soderbergh film, but, again, I’d argue they all differ in story and plot.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Oscar Reviews: Best Short Film (Live Action)

I’ve learned a few things from watching all of the 2013 Oscar nominated shorts. Most importantly, there are some damn fine short movies competing for Academy Awards this year. (Which makes me wonder how many hundreds of excellent shorts I’ve missed in the past. But oh well.) Unfortunately, the flip side to great is bad, and there are a few of those nominated too.

I hope you enjoy the Live Action reviews, and feel free to catch up on my Documentary and Animated Shorts breakdowns as well!

Oscar Reviews: Best Short Film (Animated)

For the first time in my life, I have officially seen every movie currently nominated for an Academy Award before the actual ceremony. Which is kind of insane, or pathetic, or awesome. I’m not sure. It certainly wasn’t intentional; I just realized one day that if I watched that foreign film and those documentaries and all those shorts, then I’d be set.

I’m lucky enough to live close to a theater currently showing all of the 2013 Oscar nominated short films, and here are my thoughts on the animated films vying for the Academy’s attention this year. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My 2013 Oscar Nominations

I love cooking up this list every year. The game is simple: if I was the sole member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, here’s who I would nominate in each of the major Oscar categories. Winners are in bold, and although it’s a bit of a Rust and Bone lovefest, if gives you a good idea of who’d I’d love to see win come Oscar night. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Oscar Reviews: Best Documentary Short

Over the next few days, I’m going to shed light on Oscar categories that rarely get discussed. If for no other reason than I think it will be fun to give props to a handful of well regarded films that likely won’t get much play from the public.

Today I’m giving mini reviews for the five movies nominated for the Best Documentary Short Oscar. This was my first time watching all of the nominees in this category before the actual show, and damn, this was some heavy shit. I was genuinely and pleasantly surprised by the quality of these docs. So, alphabetically, the nominees are…

Monday, February 4, 2013

House of Cards (and how it will change television)

The new David Fincher-produced Netflix series, House of Cards, is going to change the landscape of television. Or at least that’s the hope of all those involved. In an unprecedented, balls-out move, Netflix co-founder and CEO, Reed Hastings gave Fincher several million dollars to shoot two seasons back-to-back. The kicker: last Friday, Hastings put all 13 episodes of House of Cards online, available for users at their leisure.

I was one of the maniacs who crushed out the entire first season this weekend. The result of which produced some damn fine television, sure, but also a handful of exciting discussions about my general apathy for television. But more on that later.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Top 10 Performances by People Known for Another Profession

It takes a rather unique set of skills to enter into an arena as big as acting and prove that you have something to offer. Acting is difficult enough, but attempting to act when you’re already well known for other reasons, is, more often than not, a lose/lose situation. The 10 performances listed below are rare exceptions. Some of the actors were well known for bucking the system through rap, others were prominent athletes who never really took to the screen again – but no matter, the performances below stepped into the arena and utterly killed it.