Best Picture Profile: Bridge of Spies

Mark Rylance plays Rudolf Abel, a Soviet spy arrested in the U.S. in the dramatic thriller BRIDGE OF SPIES, directed by Steven Spielberg.

As we come closer to the Academy Awards, we’ll be posting short profiles of each Best Picture nominee, attempting, in our own ways, to not only sum up what the movie is about, but why we believe it scored one of the eight coveted nominations, and why it could possibly take home the big prize come Oscar night. Enjoy!

In 1975, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws was released, and it’s pretty magnificent that more than forty years later, Spielberg is still delivering high quality films, or at the very least, films that can hold an audience’s attention. Bridge of Spies aims to achieve something higher than what it actually attains. It ain’t Lincoln, but it sure ain’t Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It’s a respectably made, well-acted historical thriller, with a few key elements that make it Oscar worthy.

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Best Picture Profile: Spotlight

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As we come closer to the Academy Awards, we’ll be posting short profiles of each Best Picture nominee, attempting, in our own ways, to not only sum up what the movie is about, but why we believe it scored one of the eight coveted nominations, and why it could possibly take home the big prize come Oscar night. Enjoy!

Of all of this year’s eight nominees, Spotlight is your Best Picture.  I don’t mean that it’s the best movie of the bunch, no (We’ll get to that one in a few columns from now). I don’t even think it’s a sure-lock for the award either (It’s something of a three-way tie with The Big Short and The Revenant right now). But of all eight of the films nominated, Spotlight is the one that most easily fits the Best Picture Oscar model. It’s an all-around great film, completely inoffensive in construction, and generally pleasing to the movie-going audience. In any other year, Spotlight would be a sure thing.

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Best Picture Profile: The Revenant

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As we come closer to the Academy Awards , we’ll be posting short profiles of each Best Picture nominee, attempting, in our own ways, to not only sum up what the movie is about, but why we believe it scored one of the eight coveted nominations, and why it could possibly take home the big prize come Oscar night. Enjoy!

Nina and I like to try and find a “theme” to unite the Best Picture nominees every year, for no reason other than (a) it’s fun and cute and such, and (b) it’s nice to maybe see if there’s a unifying direction the world of the Academy is going. Obviously, much of the discussion around this year’s Oscars has been about those not included in the nominee list (and rightly so), and with recent changes in Academy membership policy, we look forward to a more diverse Academy Awards in years to come.

With this year’s nominees, though, there is still an underlying theme of the mysterious, those yet-to-be-explored terrains. To us, to our film’s protagonists, to all of the above. A “Journey to the Unknown,” as we’re dubbing it. And no film dares to go to that most unknown of unknowns, hell and back again, than The Revenant, our first Best Picture Profile entry.

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Oscars 2016: First Reactions!

 

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N: Well, the Oscar nominations were released today, and now that the Golden Globes dust has settled, we can see what made it to the final tally and what didn’t. Are you feeling good, Ben?

B: Just like every Oscar morning, I’m feeling wonderfully “meh.” The films I expected to see get in, did. The films I thought could slip in through the cracks, didn’t. And as always, any movies about a non-white protagonist are nowhere to be seen. Just like every Oscar morning.

N: The Academy was dreaming of a White Oscars? Too soon?

B: Never too soon, just too bad. So, what are you most excited about with this morning’s nominee list?

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THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN MOVIES THAT MAKE ME HATE MOVIES

  • A shot of the protagonist doing something stupid/embarrassing with a voiceover of them saying “This is me. I know, right?”
  • Employing a voiceover device, and then dropping it halfway through the movie.
  • Most voiceovers, to be honest.
  • A movie set in the past with characters speculating about “future” technology, ultimately saying something like “Yeah, like THAT will ever happen.”
  • That moment 2/3rds of the way through the movie where two characters have a rift in their relationship, and they wallow in sadness via a montage set to a fucking Ben Folds song.
  • Farts. Just…farts.
  • When a dog/baby does that thing where they are somehow embarrassed for the protagonist so they cover their face up as if they understand the concept of shame. They don’t. They are a dog/baby.

Make Your Case: Best Variety Sketch Series

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It’s taken them long enough, but the Emmys have finally created a separate category for Sketch Shows! Usually shows like Portlandia and SNL would be lumped together with shows like The Daily Show and The Tonight Show. But by gosh it’s 2015, and it’s time to give sketch series the respect they deserve. And of the five nominees we have here today, who better to bestow this premiere award to than the sole nominee that has just finished it’s run. Yes, dear readers, I say it’s time we reward the valiant efforts of Key & Peele.

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AV Club Festival (Limited) Recap: These Are Not The “Simpsons” You’re Looking For

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I sadly was not able to attend the majority of events in this year’s 2nd Annual 26th Annual Comedy Festival presented by The AV Club & The Onion. These included screenings of Weird Al Yankovic’s classic UHF (with “Al” in attendance), stand up from Eric Andre, Kyle Kinane, and John Mulaney, plus seeing the comedic goings-on of Ellie Kemper, Vanessa Bayer, and rising-star Ian Abramson. However, I was fortunate enough to attend the “Simpsons Writers Vs The Onion Writers” panel, as it was called. Despite what the title suggests, there was no such comedy brawl on the stage of the Athenaeum Theatre, nor were either set of writers even on stage at the same time. However, if there were to be a “winner” in this pop culture battle of sorts, there would be no question that The Onion “won” on this rainy Saturday afternoon.

Before getting into the specifics of the Simpsons portion of the panel, I will say that it was super wonderful to hear a small portion of writers from The Onion (& Clickhole) talk about their creative process, and their favorite parts of working to create some of the sharpest pieces of satire in today’s world. It was a fantastic portion of creative goodness, which I suppose served as the perfect ironic precursor for what was to come.

To be a Simpsons fan attending a panel made up of current Simpsons writers is practically it’s own death sentence. For those who are not currently watching The Simpsons these days (and why would you?), the show is no longer the Comedy Behemoth of its glory days. It’s a mere husk of the same characters thrown into painfully unfunny scenarios. So to hear a panel of writers applauding their “success” is a punishment in itself. And you could feel that energy in the room too, the fans in the audience desperately wanting to engage in facts and jokes from previous seasons of their favorite TV family.

Maybe someday soon we’ll see a reunion panel of class writers from the shows heyday. Until then, D’ohs all around.