Academy Award predictions

22 02 2015

I discussed the top 5 in Thursday’s Bowling Green Daily News

To recap
Birdman picture
Julianne Moore actress
Eddie Redmayne actor
J.K. Simmoms supporting actor
Patricia Arquette supporting actress

Now the rest of my picks

Best Director: Richard Linklater
It’s probably Innaritu for Birdman, but I’ll take the upset and the split which most experts believe is coming

Best Adapted screenplay: The Imitation Game
I stick with consensus, although Whiplash or American Sniper would not surprise

Best Original screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best way to honor a film the Academy clearly liked

Animated Feature: How to Train Your Dragon 2
It should have been the Leggo Movie

Documentary: Citizenfour
Finding Vivan Maier is the dark horse though

Foreign Film: Ida
Leviathan is the strongest contender

Animated short: Feast
It’s Disney. It wins.

Live Action short: Phone Call
Documentary short: Crisis Hot Line

Just taking wild guesses here

Cinematography: Birdman
Grand Budapest could win here, but man I’d love to see Ida win it.

Costumes: Grand Budapest Hotel
No real threat here

Editing: Boyhood
seems to be the favorite, but that final scene of Whiplash could be enough to give it the win.

Makeup: Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of Galaxy has a shot

Production design: Grand Budapest Hotel
maybe Into the Woods, but likely not

Score: Theory of Everything
Even if the music was one of the faults in the film

Song: Glory
Although I’d like Everything is Awesome just for some Lego love.

Sound editing: American Sniper
Sound mixing: Whiplash

Sniper could sweep both, probably best chances at Oscars

Visual effects: Interstellar
Should be Guardians of the Galaxy


Academy Award nomination predictions

14 01 2015

The Oscar frenzy reaches a fever pitch Thursday morning, when the nominations are revealed.
Nomination morning always seems to provide some surprises, both good or bad, and also tends to present a clearer picture of where most frontrunners stand.
This season seems to be one of the more predictable in recent memory, which could set up for a surprising morning.
Then again it might not, leading to a predictable Oscar night.
Here is where I think everything stands less than 24 hours until nominations are announced.

Best Picture
American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

Also in running: Gone Girl, Into the Woods, Nightcrawler, Wild

I think there are six firmly locked in, with Selma, Foxcatcher, Whiplash, Gone Girl, Into the Woods and perhaps Nightcrawler competing for the final three slots.
Selma’s backlash and lack of guild support is alarming, but I think it might slip in. Foxcatcher has some support so it might slide in too, along with Whiplash. I think Gone Girl is first one out.

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
Michael Keaton (Birdman)
David Oyelowo (Selma)
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

Also in the running: Steve Carrell (Foxcatcher), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)

Cooper and Oyelowo were omitted from the Screen Actors Guild nominations in favor of Carrel and Gyllenhaal. Cooper should ride the late momentum of American Sniper. Carrell and Gyllenhaal are both unlikable characters that might cancel each other out, opening the door for the very deserving Oyelowo. Fiennes is the true wild card, especially if Budapest gets universal love.

Best Actress
Jennifer Ansiton (Cake)
Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

Also in the running: Amy Adams (Big Eyes), Marion Cotillard (Two Days/One Night)

This looks to be the most locked in category. Maybe the Aniston train peaked too soon, which would allow Adams or Cotillard to sneak in. If the Academy really hates Gone Girl, as some pundits have suggested, then Pike could be in trouble. I will stick with the SAG five here.

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall (The Judge)
Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
Edward Norton (Birdman)
Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Also in the running: Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice)

Like best actress, I think the SAG five remain in tact. Brolin is the only real threat to break in, but Inherent Vice doesn’t have much momentum.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
Kiera Knightley (The Imitation Game)
Emma Stone (Birdman)
Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

Also in the running:
Laura Dern (Wild), Tilda Swinton (The Grand Budapest Hotel or Snowpiercer), Naomi Watts (St. Vincent)

Chastain didn’t get a SAG nod, but will likely crack the final five – perhaps bumping Watts. Dern would be my personal choice, but I think she gets snubbed. Swinton is a wildcard.

Best Director
Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Clint Eastwood (American Sniper)
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman)
Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Also in the running: Ava DuVernay (Selma), David Fincher (Gone Girl)

I’ll take the Director’s Guild five here since directors represent a large part of the voting body. If that happens than a very deserving DuVernay gets left out along with the very talented Fincher.

Five things to take away from the Golden Globes

12 01 2015

The Oscar season officially kicked off with Sunday’s Golden Globes, which is a good precursor for next month’s Academy Awards.
While the Globes won’t influence nominations, which are already in and will be announced on Thursday, it can help shape the winners.
Here is what to take away from tonight’s awards.

1. The Frontrunners are cemented

The major six categories had clear front runners heading into night and their front runner status was validated with wins. I thought Patricia Arquette for “Boyhood” was most vulnerable with Meryl Streep in the category with her, but she passed with flying colors.

2. Boyhood is the clear best picture front runner

Coming into Sunday the feeling was “Boyhood” and “Birdman” were the two main Best Picture contenders, but with “Grand Budapest Hotel” winning best comedy/musical then “Birdman” takes a backseat to “Boyhood.” “The Theory of Everything” likely moves up, but “Boyhood” seems firmly entrenched now.
As for “Budapest,” I think a best picture nomination is coming.

3. Julianne Moore’s time has come
I’ve been a huge fan of Julianne Moore since 1993’s “Short Cuts” and consider her the best actor/actress working to not have an Oscar. That appears to be coming to an end with her work in “Still Alice,” which gave Moore her first Globes win in eight tries on the movie side. Her speech, even pressed for time, was elegant and was a nice audition for next month.

4. Michael Keaton vs. Eddie Redmayne for best actor
It’s now a two man race for best actor. Redmayne’s role is showier, but Keaton has a long career that is respected among industry circles. Add his amazing speech at the Globes and I think Keaton may be closing in on the Oscar.

5. No Common speech
The best speech of the night goes to Common, who along with John Legend won best original song “Glory” from “Selma.” It was touching, inspirational, and elegant. A graceful statement that is an extension of a beautiful film.

The year in movies

1 01 2015

My picks for the best and worst of 2014 is in today’s Bowling Green Daily News

Here are a few more unofficial awards to put a bow on 2014

Best male performances (lead or supporting)
1. J.K. Simmons Whiplash
2. Edward Norton Birdman
3. Steve Carrell Foxcatcher
4. Channing Tatum Foxcatcher
5. Chadwick Boseman Get on Up

Best female performances (lead or supporting)
1. Reese Witherspoon Wild
2. Agata Kulesza Ida
3. Rosamund Pike Gone Girl
4. Patricia Arquette Boyhood
5. Tilda Swinton Snowpiercer

Movies I didn’t like, but everyone else did
1. Nightcrawler
2. Interstellar
3. Maleficent
4. The Equalizer

Movies I liked, but not as much as everyone else
1. Under the Skin
2. The Theory of Everything

Movies I liked that no one got to see (until Netflix or DVD)
1. The Skeleton Twins
2. Snowpiercer
3. Ida

Movies I liked that no one seemed to have heard of
1. The Babadook
2. The Disapperance of Elanor Rigby
3. Love is Strange

Movies I didn’t hate as much as everyone else

1. The Other Woman
2. Blended

Guilty pleasures
1. The Interview
2. Pompeii
3. Dumb and Dumber To

Biggest surprises
1. About Last Night
2. Veronica Mars

Best of the chick flicks

1. The Fault in Our Stars
2. If I Stay
3. Gimme Shelter

Hot Rods walk off with win

5 04 2014

The Bowling Green Hot Rods blew a ninth inning lead before rallying for a 5-4 walk-off win South Bend (Ind.) on Friday at Bowling Green Ballpark.
South Bend rallied from 3-1 down, before Granden Goetzman tripled – his second of the night – to tie the game, then scored on a wild pitch to win it.
Here are post game comments from manager Michael Johns and Goetzman.

On reliever Ian Kendall limiting the damage after South Bend scored three in ninth
“To me that was the difference in the game. You look back and we had bases loaded and only scratched across one. We had first and third with one out in the next inning and didn’t get a run. You always worry about it as a manager that those runs will come back to haunt you. Fortunately, we did have fight in the ninth and were able to scratch two across.”

On getting the win
“We felt like we had the game in hand, I think everybody did, for eight or nine innings. They made a run at it in the ninth. They have a good team, I think a lot better team that what we have made them look like the last few nights.”

On starter Jordan Harrison, who allowed 1 run on two hits in five innings
“Harrison did a really nice job moving the ball in and out. He had his off speed (pitches) working. To get five innings (was nice).”

On Brad Schreiber’s tough ninth allowing three runs
“Schreiber is better than that. He’s been better than that. He is going to be fine. He is kind of getting his feet wet.”

On Goetzman’s hot start (4-for-9 in two games)
“He’s got everything you need in a player. He’s got foot speed. He’s got bat speed. He’s a really good baseball players. His numbers just haven’t been there, where we think they will be. To have him get off to a hot start like this…is really fun to watch.”

On three scoreless innings of relief from Andrew Hanse
“He made it look easy. He keeps the ball down, throws his slider for a strike. He doesn’t get fazed or rattled. He’s got good stuff and a good rapport. He did a really nice job.”

“We stayed in the game the entire thing. Obviously that was not how we wanted it to end, but it was an exciting finish. Everybody on the team stayed in it. Everybody did their job and everybody contributed.”

On the game tying triple
“I’m coming up thinking, ‘Don’t try to do too much. Get him in scoring position and the guys behind me will drive him in. The pitcher left a slider up and I was able to execute on it.”

On scoring on the wild pitch
“(Johns) put it in my head to be ready for it and sure enough there it was. I just hustled in and slid.”

On his quick start
“I’m just trying not to do too much. That’s the biggest thing. It’s going well for everybody. We’re going to keep this rolling.
“Every at-bat is a new at-bat. Every game is a new game. I’m just trying to live in the moment.”

Hot Rods win opener

4 04 2014

The Bowling Green Hot Rods opened the season with a 5-2 win over South Bend (Ind.) on Thursday at Bowling Green Ballpark.
It was the fifth opening day win in six seasons for the Hot Rods, who used a grand slam from catcher Oscar Hernandez to get the win.
Starter Jake Faria and two relievers combined to scatter five hits.
Here are post game comments from manager Michael Johns and Hernandez

“It was a fun game to watch. Whether it is the first game of the season or the 100th game of the season, I thought we played well. Defensively, I thought we played really well. Faria did a really nice job pitching with his fast ball. Our bullpen was really good tonight throwing strikes. It was fun to watch and play tonight.”

On Faria’s performance
“I thought his fast ball was really good tonight. His off speed stuff is usually better than that. He threw enough in the strike zone to set up his fast ball. Once he got out of the first inning I felt pretty comfortable. For me the first inning was the tell-tail sign for him. He really looked comfortable and looked like he had been there for the whole year. It was fun to watch him.”

On lifting Faria two outs shy of qualifying for a win
“It stinks because you want him in to get the win. He certainly deserved it. But with his first outing and his first year at this level there was really no debate. Once he hit 75 we had to get him out of there. Maybe if there was a runner on first and a chance of a ground ball double play maybe we give him another batter. For him to go two more batters it certainly would have been stretching the limits to get him a win.”

On the team going hitless after Hernandez’s third inning slam
“I think both pitchers settled in. Their starter had really good stuff. The guy they brought in after him was really good too. We struggled a little bit later in the game, but luckily that big pop was enough.”

“We have good pitchers in Bowling Green right now. We have a nice team. When I hit the home run I told the pitchers to keep the ball down, throw it in the zone, and get ground balls.”

On the grand slam
“I was looking for a good pitch to make good contact. I got a home run. That was good. I was excited.
That was a nice start. It’s a new league for me. I was excited to play good with a lot of fans.”

Bowling Green Hot Rods media day

2 04 2014

Had a chance to speak with manager Michael Johns and several players before Thursday’s season opener against South Bend (Ind.).
Here are few highlights from today’s media day.

on opening day
“I don’t care how long you have been in this, opening day is always special no matter how old you are. I can’t say enough about the people and the town, the way they have embraced us the last few days. Everybody has been great. There is a lot of support here. We’re really excited to get going and see what this team can do.”

On the mix of returning players and players new to a full season
“It’s kind of two fold. Some of these guys have been in this league before and then we’ve had some guys that I have been with the last year, some of them the last two years. We have guys that have been through the league and know what to expect and guys that are bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to go.”

On what fans can expect from the Hot Rods in 2014

“We run a lot. We like to steal bases. I’ve been fortunate enough to have teams that can run and they like to run. You are going to see some good pitching, some good arms, and guys that like to play defense and take pride in it. It’s something the Rays stress, fundamental baseball. There are going to be nights when it might get ugly. Just like any level of baseball guys get nervous and they make rookie mistakes. For the most part we are going to be aggressive.”

“Sometimes it just takes guys a couple of years to get their feet wet. A lot of guys that have that are big picks didn’t come out the gate hot, but there is a reason why they got picked where they did. They certainly have the skill set. They need to translate it at 7 o’clock every night.”

On the starting rotation

“We have a good mix of lefty-righty, a good mix of some older guys and younger guys. It’s really exciting to see these guys pitch in April.”

On Aaron Griffin starting in the bullpen

“He’s built up like a starter, so he can go four or five innings. He gives me a lot of flexibility to go long out of the bullpen. He can go one inning and obviously he was very good last year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was starting by the end of the year.”

On Juniel Querecuto coming back to Hot Rods after missing 2013 with a season
“We had really good shortstops at every level and we need for him to play every day. That’s the reason he is back here. It’s kind of a catch-22. You have a lot of shortstops that are good and he’s the one that missed a year. He’s doing really well. He’s healthy. He’s good to go. He’s worked his but off to get to where he is.”

On getting off to a good start with the four game home stand against South Bend
“You always want to start at home. From a logistics standpoint, it is a nightmare to start on the road. It makes it a lot easier. You can get a lot more work done. There is a lot of work you need to do early in the year, so it is tough when you are on the road.”

Pitcher Jake Faria

On starting the season
“It’s pretty exciting. The big league guys are just starting and we’re gonna start right behind them. Getting ready for a full season is pretty sweet, knowing you are going to get 140 games. It’s a good challenge.”

On knowing what to expect from Johns
“It helps a lot, knowing how he likes things to be run. We know how to handle ourselves on and off the field. We know what he expects from us on a daily basis.”

On being named the opening day starter

“It’s a honor, knowing they have that trust in me to go out and pretty much set the tone for early on in the season. It’s a challenge, but it is a great honor.”

Pitcher Blake Snell
on having new teammates in his second season with Hot Rods
“It’s a new group of guys and a new coaching staff. I’m excited to be playing baseball again, getting it go and throwing again. I’m ready to play with these guys and have a good time.”

On not getting to start opening night because of a blister
“It’s disappointing, but my health comes first.”

On being the ‘old guy’ on the pitching staff

“I feel like I know everything about the town. I can help the guys out with what to do, what’s going on, how to get set up with an apartment. I wouldn’t say I’m the older guy, but that is what comes with the experience of being here before.”

On how he approaches this season after a disappointing year last season
“It’s one of those years. You have to roll with it and move forward. I’m excited for this year, excited to get it going. I’m not really worried about what I did last year. I’m focused on this year and do what I can to make myself and the team better.”

On team expectations
“We have a real good team here. I think we can do the same thing we did last year. Everyone is upbeat and excited to be here. Let’s see where this thing can go.”

“I feel like it is easier for us to win at home, just with the crowd that we have and the way that it is when we are home. We work real well together. I’m excited to see what he can do on the road and at home.”

On Hot Rods recent success at home
“It sets the tone. If you can start off hot, hopefully you can ride a streak for a while and see whee it can take us. We are definitely going to come out here and try to win these four in a row.”

Outfielder Grandon Goetzman
On how being here briefly last season will help
“Being here for a little bit, I got to experience a bit of the league. I feel a little more comfortable coming back. For some of the new guys that haven’t been here I will be able to do the best that I can to make them comfortable.”

On his disappointing 2013

“Last year is in the past. This is a new year and a new team. I’ve worked really hard in off season. I am excited for the year and to be with this great group of guys.”

On playing with a lot of familiar faces
“We have pretty solid team chemistry right now. A lot of us have played together two or three years. We know a lot about each other. A lot of us have head (Johns), so we know his style as well.”

On the Hot Rods success at home
“I was only here for a bit, but I was here to experience the great fans. There is a lot of energy. We are just going to play to win. It’s going to be great to be welcomed by the fans. We are going to do our best to show them a good time.”

Oscar Predictions

1 03 2014

I covered the main categories in Thursday’s Bowling Green Daily News. You can read it at this link
Here is how I see the entire night shaping up

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave (although the Gravity train seems to be picking up steam)
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Screenplay: Her
Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
Production Design: The Great Gatsby
Cinematography: Gravity
Costumes: American Hustle
Foreign Film: The Great Beauty
Sound mixing: Gravity
Sound editing: Gravity
Documentary feature: 20 Feet from Stardom
Documentary short: Room 106
Animated feature: Frozen
Animated short: Get a Horse
Live Action short: Helium
Special effects: Gravity
Editing: Captain Phillips
Score: Gravity
Song: Let it Go
Make-up: Dallas Buyers Club

Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman

2 02 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman was the greatest actor of his generation.
Don’t believe me? Look at his resume on IMDb.
There isn’t one bad performance on his resume. Sure he was in some bad movies, but Hoffman always brought an intensity and passion to his character that helped elevate the material.
He was a chameleon, an actor capable of taking any role.
From “Scent of a Woman” to “Catching Fire,” Hoffman was everything from the dynamic leading man that demanded your attention to the essential supporting role that made everyone else around him better.
Hoffman’s range of roles is incredible to think about.
He was in everything from “Twister” and “Along Came Polly” to little seen gems like “Before the Devil Knows Your Dead” and “A Late Quartet.” There were memorable supporting roles in “Almost Famous,” “Moneyball,” and a handful of Paul Thomas Anderson films – including “Boogie Nights” and “The Master.”
Then there was his crowning achievement, his Oscar winning turn in “Capote.” It was a performance in which Hoffman morphed into Truman Capote. This large and intense man managed to make himself smaller and meeker to perfect the mannerisms of the 5-foot-3 Capote. It’s one of the great performances of the last 15 years.
Then again, I came to expect nothing more from Hoffman.
Even in his missteps, which included a directorial gig in the adaptation of “Jack Goes Boating,” Hoffman brought the same intensity and passion that not many other actors could match.
But as word of his death leaked, we all learned that Hoffman’s larger than life persona wasn’t without some demons. A battle with drug addiction ended tragically with reports that the 46-year-old died of an overdose.
It’s a sad final chapter to a career that still seemed to be in its prime.
He was a memorable actor, who will now be immortalized forever in some of the best films of the last 20 years. He will also serve as a cautionary tale on the tragedies of addiction, and how it can tear apart even the strongest of people.
He will now be known as a great actor who left us all way too soon.

2014 Oscar nomination predictions

15 01 2014

The Oscar race hits a fever pitch on Thursday with the announcement of the 2014 nominees.
It is a list that is sure to include a few surprises, especially in a year when most races seem to be wide open.
Here is how I see the six major categories shaking out:

American Hustle
12 Years a Slave
Captain Phillips
Saving Mr. Banks
Dallas Buyers Club

It could be up to 10 nominees and as few as five, but I think eight seems to be the likely number. The Wolf of Wall Street and Her are the two films I could see breaking through, while Saving Mr. Banks and Nebraska may be the ones on the list most in danger.

Christian Bale, American Hustler
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Someone is going to be left out in arguably the deepest category this year. Dern, Ejiofor, Hanks, and McConaughey are all likely locked in, leaving Bale, Robert Redford for All is Lost (my personal favorite) and Leonardo DiCaprio for the Wolf of Wall Street to fight for that final spot. I’ll take Bale because Hustle seems to have the momentum. Wolf may be too divisive, while Redford’s momentum has faded away.

Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

Like actor, this has four sure things with Blanchett, Bullock, Dench, and Thompson. The fifth spot comes down to Adams versus Meryl Streep for August:Osage County. Streep is an Academy darling, but Adams and Hustle has momentum. If Adams sneaks in she is a major contender to win. If Streep gets in Blanchett could have the most to benefit because her path to a victory gets a lot easier.

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

This is one category where I could see a big shake-up. Daniel Bruhl and James Gandolfini could both be on the outside looking in, with everyone from Bradley Cooper in American Hustle, Jonah Hill in the Wolf of Wall Street, Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks, and yes even James Franco in Spring Breakers capable of breaking into the final five.

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

This could be the easiest category to call, with perhaps Sally Hawkins from Blue Jasmine replacing Julia Roberts.

Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O. Russell, American Hustle

Depending on what happens with best picture, you could see Martin Scorsese and Spike Jonze break through. Cuaron, McQueen, and Russell seemed to be the most sure things of the bunch.