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Archive for March, 2006

2006 Oscar Predictions

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Here we go, my official 2006 Oscar Predictions for the major award categories. Please note that these are not the movies that I necessarily think should win these awards, just those that I think will win.

Best Picture: Brokeback Mountain. I don’t think there’s any derailing the Gay Cowboy Hype Train at this point. Not only is the movie, by most accounts, apparently worthy of the praise it’s garnered, but it’s the kind of movie Hollywood thinks should win, the kind of movie that shows how socially conscious and forward-thinking they are. And in a year when there’s no Titanic, no Gladiator, no Chicago, no The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, no massive commercial hit of sufficient quality to give the award to… that counts for a lot.

Best Actor: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Capote. While Hoffman’s not quite into the body-of-work stage of his career yet, he’s close — he’s done work of exceptional quality for ten years without as much as a previous sniff at Oscar to show for it. Further, Hoffman’s an Actor’s Actor, which should help his chances since the Academy gave the award to a Movie Star last year (Jamie Foxx). That said, I won’t be the least little bit surprised if the Gay Cowboy Hype Train steamrolls through and drops Oscar into Heath Ledger’s lap instead.

Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line. I hope the other four nominees have practiced their fake “I’m so happy for Reese!” smiles.

Best Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man. Giamatti’s been criminally shafted out of a Best Actor nomination two years in a row, perhaps because “supporting actor” just seems to fit Giamatti better than “leading actor.” He’s the quintessential second-banana character actor and the Academy would do well to give him his props here. I’m not counting out George Clooney since this category is likely his best shot at a win out of his three nominations.

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Junebug. Just a bizarre hunch. I was starting to write up a paragraph explaining why the Academy wouldn’t give this award to such a complete unknown… and then I remembered that Anna Paquin won it for The Piano. From everything I’ve heard for almost a year, Adams’ performance in Junebug was absolutely charming and terrific. And since most years some award goes to someone completely unexpected (paging Adrien Brody!), I’m going to say the bizarre and shocking happens here.

Best Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain. Whether or not Lee deserves it for this particular movie (and I’m not saying he doesn’t), he damn sure deserves it for helming such a diverse array of movies over the last ten years and bringing quality to each of them: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; The Ice Storm; Sense and Sensibility; Eat Drink Man Woman; even Hulk was a valiant effort at doing something different with the superhero genre. Tonight he picks up the award he should’ve earned for Crouching Tiger five years ago.

Best Original Screenplay: Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco, Crash. Personally, I don’t agree with it — I thought the writing was heavy-handed, obvious and preachy and didn’t actually add anything to the dialogue about race relations — but, again, this is the kind of movie Hollywood loves to show off as proof that they’re Caring and Progressive and Not Shallow At All. And since Crash won’t be winning any of the other major awards its up for, this’ll have to be its one opportunity to let someone give a tearful, impassioned plea for improved race relations during the acceptance speech.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Larry McMurty and Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain. No contest. Even if the Gay Cowboy Hype Train weren’t barreling through L.A. tonight, McMurty and Ossana should get credit for taking an 18-page short story and turning it into such a complex, nuanced full-length screenplay.

Best Animated Feature: Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Because it’s Wallace and Gromit. C’mon.

Written by Allen

March 5th, 2006 at 1:34 pm

Posted in Movies,Pop Culture

BONUS Sunday Photo: Stylin’

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You might have wondered just where the Monday Photo has been the last couple of months. (More likely you didn’t notice it was AWOL, but I’ll try not to take it personally.) Well, truth be told, our old camera died in early January. The old Nikon Coolpix 770, the camera we got shortly before Kelsey was born so that we could record her every waking breath, finally shit the bed after four years and tens of thousands photos. We weren’t surprised — neither of us thought the camera would last forever, and we were both impressed it lasted four years [1] — though we were a bit frustrated by being cameraless.

We’d been itching to replace the camera both because Terry and I both are into the amatuer photography thing but also because of the pain of knowing that there are entire weeks of our children’s lives left undocumented. Someday the girls might look back on the mammoth collection of pictures of their childhoods and wonder just what happened during the early months of 2006… and we won’t be able to tell them. The implications are tragic. Clearly, we couldn’t let this cameralessness stand.

So on Friday night, we bopped down to our local Best Buy and got the new camera — we stayed in the Coolpix family, going with the Coolpix 4600. It’s not a sensational camera by any means (in fact, it’s pretty much bottom-of-the-line for the Coolpix family, and that’s saying something), though it’s still a decent upgrade over the old one. With the 512Mb memory card we got for it, we can store almost a thousand pictures on disk (at 1600×1200, which is the highest resolution we usually need) before having to download them off the camera, and it has better video capabilities and more color and lighting options. We know it’s not The Camera — both of us desperately want a digital SLR — but it’s a fine camera and will get us through until we can drop the money necessary to make photography the more serious hobby we both want it to be.

So in celebration of our newcamerahood, I give you the following picture of Laurel. Terry had put some gunk in Laurel’s hair yesterday to try to keep the static electricity in it to a minimum, and then had put her hair in a little topknot to keep it out of her face while we went to Kids Playground (which was an insane amount of fun for both girls). Afterwards we went to Terry’s mom’s house, where Laurel decided she didn’t need to keep her hair restrained any longer. The combination of hair gunk, static electricity, ponytail removal and extrememly active toddler resulted in the following work of beauty:

Look for the Monday Photo to resume tomorrow!

[1] It feels like there’s a post in there about our disposable culture and planned obsolesence, but that’s more thinking than I’m ready to do on a Sunday morning.

Written by Allen

March 5th, 2006 at 11:41 am

Posted in Photography

Unpimp My Ride

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I don’t have the proper words for these commercials. Just go watch and enjoy. (Totally safe for work!)

(Via Brian, via copyranter.)

Written by Allen

March 3rd, 2006 at 5:30 pm

Posted in Pop Culture

Art vs. Craft vs. Play

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much of my writing I would consider “art” versus how much I would consider “craft.” How, I wonder to myself, do my percentages of inspiration versus perspiration play out? (And yes, these are the kinds of things I set my brain working on so that I don’t have to actually, y’know, write anything.)

My fear is that I’m all craft, no art. I don’t say that to dismiss the importance of craft — in fact, depending on exactly what’s being written and for what purpose, the craft can be even more important than the art. And I know I’m good at the craft. I communicate well via the written (or typed) word. I like to think it’s one of the things I do best. But I don’t want to think that there’s no art behind the craft, that there’s no soul in what I’m writing. And too often, I’m afraid that’s true.

I think it’s related to my ongoing struggles with figuring out exactly what it is I’m supposed to be writing. No, wait, that’s not true; I do know exactly what I’m supposed to be writing. The ongoing struggle is with the fact that I tend to work on what I think I’m supposed to be writing moreso than on what I want to be writing. When I write something that my brain tells me to write rather than when my heart tells me to (ref. aborted YA novel from last fall), I can’t really pretend to be very surprised when my heart’s not really in it, can I?

(The terrible truly thing: I keep having to come to the same conclusion about my passions every few months or so. Staying on point is, apparently, not one of my areas of strength. I think I need one of those reminder bracelets to tell me to keep focused on the things I actually want to write. Anyway.)

I discussed this point with a friend of mine, and she told me that she didn’t really think about her writing in these terms at all. The art grew naturally out of the craft, essentially, and I can certainly see that, even if it hasn’t proven true for me; perhaps I just never stick with anything long enough to let the art truly emerge. But the most important thing she said to me pointed out something I always, always overlook when I’m writing: she tries to focus on her writing as “play.” “Play” is something I so rarely allow myself to do when writing — my perfectionism seems to have robbed me of the ability to just loosen up, to have fun while I’m writing.

And it should be fun for me, shouldn’t it? My writing doesn’t have to support my family. No one (other than me) is pressuring me. There’s no reason to make it this Big Tortured Thing, which of course is exactly what I do every single time I look at a blank document. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t take the writing seriously, but clearly I don’t need to be taking it quite so seriously if it’s crippling my ability to write at all.

Writers in the audience… you have any opinions on the relationships between art, craft and/or play? Do you have fun when you write or is it a chore to be gotten through to get to the shiny finished product on the other side?

Written by Allen

March 2nd, 2006 at 10:25 pm

Posted in Writing