Posts in 2014
MOVIE CLASSROOM: Updated archive on YouTube channel

In returning to my "Movie Classroom" series of interactive whiteboard video reviews with new vigor, new skills, and new tools, I wanted to bring back and upload my old video attempts to my Every Movie Has a Lesson YouTube channel.  In a massive file drop, I recently uploaded 29 of my past Movie Classroom videos from 2014, including winners like Whiplash and Birdman.  Head over and reminisce on some fine films and commentary by yours truly.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bete)

All eyes are on the hotly anticipated live-action "re-imagining" of Walt Disney Pictures' enormously successful "Beauty and the Beast" from 1991.  That March 2017 sure-fire blockbuster will garner tremendous attention in its attempt to honor the animated Best Picture Oscar nominee and double Academy Award winner.  In the meantime, the fairy tale's home country of France throws down its own gauntlet to give Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve's 1740 original story and Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's abridged 1756 standard the grand, epic big-screen treatment it warrants.  Let's just say the French sure know what they are doing.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: The New Girlfriend

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the most basic two-part definition of the word "identity" is "who someone is" and "the qualities, beliefs, etc. that make a particular person or group different from others."  That notion of identity speaks to both our distinguishing physical appearance and persona on the outside as well as our internal soul, thoughts, preferences, and desires.  In 2015, a captivating year where our own country has legalized same sex marriage and the introduction of Caitlyn Jenner set off shockwaves, our society is coming around to learning and understanding that not all identities fit into the usual two check-boxes of "male" and "female."  We are witnessing the emerging battle for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) equality right before our eyes.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: Shaun the Sheep

In the current cinematic landscape filled with modern technology and instant gratification, there is a lost appreciation for hand-done work.  Traditional animation, stop-motion, and claymation have become a dying art form with the advent of computer animation and modern tools.  It's easy to look past the old and simple in favor of the new and shiny toy, but sometimes the old and simple can show up the new and pretty with ease.  That's the beauty of something like "Shaun the Sheep."  

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MOVIE REVIEW: Welcome to Me

"Welcome to Me" is a Mobius strip of a trainwreck.  The film is a trainwreck... of a trainwreck.  Starring an extremely invested Kristen Wiig, the film is, to its credit, a bold character piece and black comedy that seeks to put a trainwreck of a person on display in an effort to preach larger moral questions.  As bold as it is in that intention, "Welcome to Me" doesn't achieve that and overshoots every landing possible.  It's that really well planned gag or stunt that can't match the real thing because it's been too manufactured to where the unpredictability is taken away or feels forced.  It's the second coming of "Dinner for Schmucks," in terms of cringe comedy, and that film was bad but at least funnier.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Clouds of Sils Maria

The new foreign-backed "Clouds of Sils Maria" is the latest film to challenge the parallels of a performer channeling what may or not be a version of themselves.  Written and directed by Olivier Assayas, "Clouds of Sils Maria" premiered in competition at last year's Cannes Film Festival and worked the film festival circuit last winter, including stops in Toronto, New York, and the 50th Chicago International Film Festival.  The film finally makes its limited U.S. theatrical release on April 10th.  Honed down to a serious scale far smaller and more intimate than the likes of "Notting Hill," the cinematic star in the center of this solar system microcosm is Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche.  As a gracefully aging actress of peripheral prominence playing a fictional one of the same sort in a different situation, we are taken inside a phenomenal character study.  "Clouds of Sils Maria" is a fascinating actor's showcase that deserves and earns your attention for the behind-the-scenes tribulations of acting and the livelihood attached to that career. 

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Salvation

American Westerns have become a lost art and a dying breed.  So much has been done that it's hard to find a fresh take.  If you have felt that loss and need a jolt, an extremely taut and good homage to the American Western has emerged in "The Salvation," playing now in limited release and Video on Demand, from Danish filmmaker Kristian Levring.  Headlined by Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Jonathan Pryce, the film moved the needle a bit during the 2014 film festival circuit, including a pair of screenings at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival last October (where yours truly caught the ride).

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EDITORIAL: Final 2015 Awards Tracker and Oscar Reactions

Let's put a bow on the 2014 Oscar race.  Last night, I correctly predicted 16 of the 24 winners.   In my final update of this year's Awards Tracker, here are the final tallies, Oscar winners, and my reactions.  The Oscar winners in each category are in bold.  See you next year for another data session and awards season!

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OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2015: The race for Best Picture

In this seventh and final post, we've come to the big one, folks.  Here's my analysis and breakdown of the race for Best Picture.  This is a close one, so read on!  Let's do this!  I've said it all season.  Stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool.

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OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2015: The male acting awards

It's time to begin making my formal and official Oscar predictions.  In this sixth post, we climb into the acting areas of "The Big 8" Oscar categories.  Here, we look at the male acting awards of Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.  Let's do this and pick some winners!  I've said it all season.  Stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool.

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OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2015: The female acting awards

It's time to begin making my formal and official Oscar predictions.  In this fifth post, we start to get the acting areas of "The Big 8" Oscar categories.  Here, we look at the female acting awards of Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.  Let's do this and pick some winners!  I've said it all season.  Stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool.

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OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2015: The writing and directing categories

It's time to begin making my formal and official Oscar predictions.  In this fourth post, we start to get the beginning three of "The Big 8" Oscar categories.  Here, we look at the writing and directing awards for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Adapted Screenplay.  Let's do this and pick some winners!  I've said it all season.  Stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool.

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OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2015: The minor film categories

It's time to begin making my formal and official Oscar predictions.  In this third post, we look at the minor film categories that include animation, documentary, and shorts.  Let's do this!

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OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2015: The music and sound categories

It's time to begin making my formal and official Oscar predictions.  In this second post, we look at the musical and sound categories that include original score, original song, sound editing, and sound mixing.  Let's do this!

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OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2015: The visual and artistic categories

It's time to begin making my formal and official Oscar predictions.  In this first post, we look at the visual and artistic technical categories that include cinematography, production design, costumes, makeup/hairstyling, editing, and visual effects.  Let's do this!

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Last Five Years

When a strikingly and surprisingly good movie musical does comes around and impress, the only thing to do is shout and sing its praises from the proverbial mountaintops, just as the main characters would have the proclivity to do.  Well, we've got one right here, so cover your ears, and hear me roar!  "The Last Five Years," the adaptation of Jason Robert Brown's Off-Broadway hit, is a new movie musical that makes this website's handful list of true gems and delightful keepers.  This is the real film the date movie crowd should be seeking out this Valentine's Day weekend instead of the whips-and-chains-handcuffs of some certain monochromatic thriller.  This film simply soars in every way!

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COLUMN: Five snubs and five surprises from the 87th Academy Award nominations

The Oscar nominations for the 87th Academy Awards were announced this morning.  Directors J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron mapped out the little categories and then actor Chris Pine and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs drops some bombs this morning.  As always, there are plenty of surprises and plenty of snubs.  Through it all, the frontrunners have already emerged and this race is taking shape, so much so that I could probably name the eventual winners already today.

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COLUMN: Who will win/should win the 2015 Golden Globes?

More and more each year, the Golden Globes have become more an a popularity contest than a true precursor to the Academy Awards.  What you're watching on TV is a party thrown by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in an effort to be loved and share some love.  To its credit, the awards show still garners legitimate attention and ratings.  The winners do get a pretty positive rub and the marketers gain a few more "Winner of..." graphics to put in the newspapers next to their films.  Let's take a look at the film categories and pick some winners.

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