90th Academy Awards: Big B’s Predictions

the shape of water
Best Picture
Honorable Mention: All Best Picture nominees, especially Call Me By Your Name and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. This is an impressive list of films. (To see my ranking of all nine Best Picture nominees, click here.)
Should have been nominated: Logan  
Best Actress
Frances McDormandThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Actor
Will win: Gary OldmanDarkest Hour
Should win: Daniel Day-LewisPhantom Thread
Best Supporting Actress
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Honorable Mention: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Best Supporting Actor
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Director
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Best Animated Feature Film
Best Cinematography
Blade Runner 2049
Best Costume Design
Phantom Thread
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Darkest Hour
Best Film Editing
Honorable MentionThe Shape of Water
Honorable MentionBaby Driver
Best Original Score
Honorable Mention: Phantom Thread
Best Original Song
“This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman
Best Sound Editing
Blade Runner 2049
Best Sound Mixing
Will winDunkirk
Should winBaby Driver
Best Visual Effects
Blade Runner 2049
Best Screenplay – Original
Get Out
Honorable MentionThe Shape of Water
Should have been nominatedCoco
Should have been nominatedThe Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Best Screenplay – Adapted
Call Me By Your Name
Honorable MentionLogan
Best Documentary
Faces Places
~Big B

Brilliant Short Films You Can Watch Right Now

Don HertzfeldDon Hertzfeldt is an impressive artist. Hertzfeldt is a two-time Oscar nominee, and a 2012 Indiewire Best Director poll placed Hertzfeldt above filmmakers like Richard Linklater and Steven Spielberg. While the short film genre has always been an artistic platform for profound ideas, few short films have captured the public’s attention more than Hertzfeldt’s. Rejected, for example, has gained a cult following. Rejected was first screened at the San Diego Comic Con and has since been viewed by Cartoon Network audiences and Sundance Film Festival attendees. Rejected is a simple, absurd animated short film that tackles big concepts. In about nine minutes, Hertzfeldt introduces audiences to an assortment of supposedly rejected cartoon clips. Though the characters seem basic and the narrative seems fractured, the short film as a whole shines a somber light on the plights of the forgotten.

Hertzfeldt’s latest short film, World of Tomorrow, is now on Netflix. Of World of Tomorrow, culture commentator David Sims writes:

The idea of the copy-pasted brain, and the moral quandaries that could stem from it, has enjoyed a quiet revival in sci-fi recently, with World of Tomorrow as the must-see standard-bearer. Hertzfeldt, whose work always tends towards the absurd, had never experimented with the genre before making this short, which was his first digitally produced film. As Emily and her clone drift through the “outernet,” the virtual reality through which all people in the future apparently communicate, the environment pops and crackles around them. But for all of his fantastical imagery, Hertzfeldt triumphs by focusing tightly on his protagonist’s emotions, which are seemingly haywire thanks to their being a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox. “I am very proud of my sadness, because it means I am more alive,” the clone proclaims, while acknowledging that she has occasionally fallen in love with inanimate objects in the past.

As World of Tomorrow proves, short films can wrinkle your brain as much as feature films can. Below are some short films (some by Hertzfeldt) that you can watch right now. Enjoy!

Everything Will Be Ok (2006) dir. Don Hertzfeldt

Created after Rejected and before World of Tomorrow, this animated short film is the first portion of a three-part story about Bill, a passive, thoughtful stick-figure man. Everything Will Be Ok is seventeen minutes of social commentary that slowly transitions from amusing and relatable to unsettling and poignant.

Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody? (2005) dir. Miguel Arteta

Written by Miranda July (The Future) and starring John C. Reilly (Step Brothers), this short film features three different responses to a seemingly simple question. Bob Davidson calls it a “profoundly simple short.” (Warning: Film may be a trigger for those with depression.)

Continue reading

88th Academy Awards: Big B’s Predictions

Best PictureThe Big Short
The Revenant
Should Win: The Big Short
Disappointment: Bridge of Spies
Should Have Been Nominated: Straight Outta Compton
Should Have Been Nominated: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Best Director
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant
Honorable Mention: Adam McKay, The Big ShortStraight Outta Compton
Best Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Best Actress
Brie Larson, Room
Honorable Mention: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Should Have Been Nominated: Alicia VikanderEx Machina
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Honorable Mention: Tom Hardy, The RevenantThe Revenant
Honorable Mention: Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Should Not Have Been Nominated: Christian Bale, The Big Short
Should Have Been Nominated: Oscar IsaacEx Machina
Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Continue reading

The 87th Academy Awards: Big B’s Oscar Predictions


Best ActressEmma Stone

Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

Honorable Mention: Emma Stone, “Birdman”

Should not have been nominated: Keira Knightly, “The Imitation Game”

Should have been nominated: Tilda Swinton, “Snowpiercer”

Best ActorBirdman

Michael Keaton, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Should have been nominated: Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Best Supporting Actor

J. K. Simmons, “Whiplash” Continue reading

The 86th Academy Awards: Big B’s Oscar Predictions

Oscars SITEBest Actress

Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

Best Supporting Actress

Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”

Honorable Mention: Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”

Best Actor

12-years-a-slaveChiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”

Honorable Mention: Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”

Honorable Mention: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Should have been nominated: Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”

Best Supporting Actor Continue reading

The 85th Academy Awards: Big B’s Oscar Predictions

Oscar PosterBest Actress

Should win: Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”

Will win: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Supporting Actress

Anne Hathaway, “Les Misérables”

Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”

Best Supporting Actor

Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”

Honorable Mention: Robert Di Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Picture

Should win: “Zero Dark Thirty”Zero Dark Thirty

Will win: “Argo”

Honorable Mention:Les Misérables”

Best Director

Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”

Best Animated Feature FilmWreck-It Ralph

Should win: “Wreck-It Ralph”

Will win: “Brave”

Best Production Design Continue reading

The 84th Academy Awards: Big B’s Oscar Predictions

Best Actress

Viola Davis, “The Help”

Honorable Mention: Rooney Mara, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Best Supporting Actress

Should win: Bérénice Bejo, “The Artist”

Will win: Octavia Spencer, “The Help”

Best Actor

Jean Dujardin, “The Artist

Honorable Mention: George Clooney, “The Descendants”

Best Supporting Actor

Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”

Honorable Mention: Jonah Hill, “Moneyball”

Best Picture

“The Artist”

Best Director

Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”

Honorable MentionTerrence Malick, “The Tree of Life”

Best Animated Film

Should win: “Kung Fu Panda 2”

Will win: “Rango”

Honorable Mention: “A Cat in Paris”

Best Art Direction Continue reading

Big B’s Oscar Picks and Predictions (with some offal artwork)

Best Actress

Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”

Best Supporting Actress

Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”

Honorable Mention: Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”

Best Actor

Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”

Honorable Mention: James Franco, “127 Hours”

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale, “The Fighter”

Honorable Mention: John Hawkes, “Winter’s Bone”

Best Picture

“The King’s Speech”

Best Director

Should win: Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”

Will win: David Fincher, “The Social Network”

Best Animated Film

“Toy Story 3”

Best Art Direction

Should win: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1”

Will win: “Alice in Wonderland”

Best Cinematography

Should win: “Black Swan”

Will win: “True Grit” Continue reading

Review: Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Film picture via Oscar.go.com

Prior to seeing Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010), I knew very little about the world of graffiti and street art. After seeing Banky’s film, I still know little about this world, but I now have a growing appreciation for those who can climb about rooftops late at night with large sheets of personalized paper and buckets of paste. And I have an even bigger appreciation for those who can do so with grace and style.

The film outlines the evolution of Thierry Guetta (later known as Mr. Brainwash), a hopelessly enthusiastic videographer and aspiring street artist. The film’s juxtaposition of Guetta with the suave, laid-back Banksy offers viewers a comedic introduction to a number of street art subtleties, not the least of which is the existence of street art imitators. Guetta, though endearing, is (spray-)painted as a somewhat annoying copycat of established street artists such as Shepard Fairey and Banksy. After discovering the world of street art, Guetta follows Fairey, Space Invader, and others as they make and share street art. Guetta documents the entire process, occasionally offering odd commentaries to otherwise stunning scenes. Guetta later tries his hand at beautifying cities with his own street art and eventually hosts his own high-profile art show as Mr. Brainwash. The transformation of Thierry Guetta into Mr. Brainwash challenges many assumptions about art and graffiti. Even Banksy himself wonders aloud (with perfect comedic timing) if art is truly accessible: “I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don’t do that anymore.”

Exit Through the Gift Shop via IMDB.com

Some speculate that Exit Through the Gift Shop is another elaborate Banksy hoax. Perhaps Banksy hired Thierry Guetta. Or, maybe, Guetta and Banksy are one and the same. As a recent convert to the wonders of street art, including the works and character of Bansky, I have no guess as to how the film came to be. Hoax or not, Banksy’s film is wickedly entertaining and offers a commentary on some genuine issues within the world of street art. The film, despite its aggressive satire, is surprisingly inspirational. Were my drawings anything more than oddly high-brow stick figures, I’d be tempted to share them with the world. For those, like me, who don’t have great artistic abilities, Exit Through the Gift Shop is an entertaining reminder that beauty can be found (and put) anywhere. Amidst this often misunderstood counter-cultural movement, true art can emerge.

Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy’s directorial debut, received a Oscar nomination in the Documentary Feature category, and Banksy was nominated for an award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer. In the Oscar race, I’m rooting for Exit Through the Gift Shop. I have nothing against the other Documentary Feature nominees (Gasland, Inside Job, Restrepo, and Waste Land), but I’m curious if Banksy would show up to accept his award.