Sunday Mornings

I’m spending long days watching film submissions (shorts and doc features) lately. Let’s be clear, most of these films are not comedies. If they are, they aren’t often that funny. So between that and the news lately, eek! Talk about a bleak world. To be sitting and feeling this baby kick during screening or reading the headlines only adds to my anxiety. It’s a rough world out there and finding some sort of escape amongst reality has been tough to say the least.

We’re also in the long stretch of summer and the heat is playing with my head. I’m doing everything I can to not eat ice cream regularly. I’m tempted daily to make a giant peach cobbler (because the yellow peaches here have been ah-mazing lately), but fear of eating it all by myself in one – maybe two – sittings. Something’s gotta give. Today may be the day where I go for it. What do you think?

Grab a piece of juicy fruit and take a break with some Sunday morning reading:

  • A mashup of two of my favorite things: Sesame Street and Beastie Boys.  (And yes those are clips of Follow That Bird (1985), a film that made a HUGE impact on me. Lots of crying when Big Bird is turned blue (still to this day).)
  • NPR Story Lab is looking for great ideas. Jump on it.
  • LA with its lack of left turn signals has driven me bonkers since I moved here. I want a better explanation than this.
  • ICYMI, the Academy invited a TON of new members. A few familiar names on the list which was a thrill to see. Congrats to all.
  • The Louisiana Environmental Apocalypse Road Trip. My home sweet home has always been a dumping ground. I have a love/hate relationship with the State. Curious to read more from this series.
  • Our favorite BBQ joint in Dallas, Pecan Lodge, has teamed up with Williams Sonoma for a new BBQ sauce. IF we do sauce in our house, it’s usually homemade, but may have to make an exception and try this.
  • Give me all the. frozen. drinks.
  • Excited to see Cate Blanchett as Bernadette. Read it before next year’s Mother’s Day release.

Cheers to the weekend! Thanks for reading!

Oscar predictions, 2017

Hello! As you may have noticed, this blog is in a bit of a transition. This spring has been an exciting one. Between a new client and a few personal huddles, life has been a little chaotic and it has kept me away from writing as much as I would like. In an attempt not to burn out on this project, I’m moving to one post a week (Tuesdays), plus the usual every-other-week Sunday. Thanks for sticking with me through this.

 

Awards weekend is this weekend and Los Angeles is abuzz with parties and street-closure traffic (aka avoid Hollywood at all costs). Since I’ve been in screening mode for a couple of clients, I haven’t seen all the award contenders. This is normal and I may or may not get to them over the summer. I still have a few predictions though.

Some will not be surprising if you’ve been reading this blog the last few months, others though are based on the industry-inside thoughts. Most years I am frustrated by the Oscars. Remember, it is big business and often you can see right through the politics and money of ad campaigns to the winners. Then there are those films or performances you think are deserving of the honors, which makes a win money well-spent. Hopefully we’ll see a few surprises and members who are in touch with today’s culture (no guarantee though).

Below are a few of my thoughts and predictions on the Oscars. You can find the full list of nominees here.

Best Picture
My vote: Moonlight
What will probably win: La La Land
Hollywood loves honoring itself. La La Land is also the escapism story that Hollywood always promotes. So don’t be surprised if La La Land wins. Moonlight will win if enough of the new Academy voters (who were added in an attempt for diversity and cultural relevancy after last year’s #OscarsSoWhite) really do make a difference and/or if Hollywood decides to make a statement to the current political climate. I also think Moonlight is a better film. So you know, there’s that.

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Moonlight (2016)

Best Director
My vote: Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Who will win: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Both men came from a festival upbringing. If you’ve made three films about white dudes playing jazz, of course you’re going to get better at directing them. I think Jenkins made the more interesting film this year and it would be wonderful to see him win. Lonergan is also in the mix though.

Actor, Leading Role
Who will win: Denzel Washington (Fences)
Most industry press talk about how this is up between Casey Affleck and Denzel Washington. The only film I’ve seen in this category is La La Land. I’m going with Denzel, because I think the Academy will think this is a safe choice.

Actress, Leading Role
Who will win: Emma Stone (La La Land)
Lionsgate and Stone’s publicity team have been working this for months. She’s the front-runner. If there’s an upset here, that would be fun.

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La La Land (2016)

Actor, Supporting
My vote/Who will win: Mahershala Ali  (Moonlight)
Again, I haven’t seen all the films in this category, but his performance was amazing. And he’s picking up many of the awards that lead to the big night. Another front-runner.

Actress, Supporting
Who will win: Viola Davis (Fences)
Another category where I haven’t seen all the films, but Davis seems to have the publicity train in her favor. Spencer has previously won, but could do a repeat. Williams is competition too.

Best Animated Feature
Who will win: Zootopia
Going with a blockbuster for this pick. Have you seen the DMV scene?

Best Documentary Feature
My vote/who will win: OJ: Made in America
Still my favorite doc of last year, but if you haven’t seen I Am Not Your Negro yet, get thee to a theater!

Best Cinematography
My vote: Bradford Young (Arrival)
Who will win: Linus Sandgren (La La Land)

Best Editing
Who will win: Tom Cross (La La Land)
This is how the Titantic-like sweep happens, but I’d love for an upset in one or two of these categories.

There are many more categories of course (original/adapted screenplay, score, makeup, costume!), but these are my highlights. If you’re interested in reading more predictions, both Indiewire and the Hollywood Reporter have their own lists to help with your party ballot.

What are your picks for the Oscars this year? Will you be throwing an Oscar party? I’m curious to hear your thoughts!

Awards Season: Cinema Eye Honors ’17

Awards season is in full force. The Golden Globes were last night (Yay Moonlight!). Publicists and studios are working their asses off getting their clients and filmmakers in front of the press. The hosts for the Spirit Awards have been announced. Film critics are a buzz with possible Oscar contenders and FYC ads are popping up everywhere here in Los Angeles.

One of my favorite genres of films, documentaries, are often overlooked during awards season. That’s where the Cinema Eye Honors come into play. This week documentary filmmakers and industry leaders gather in New York City for the tenth annual awards. I’m honored to be a part of the nomination committee for Cinema Eye, but sadly I won’t be able to join in the festivities.

Cinema Eye Honors recognizes outstanding accomplishments and innovation in nonfiction filmmaking. The organization was born out of frustration with how documentaries were recognized in the past, how there was an awards emphasis focused solely on the topic of a documentary and not the artistic approach or craft. As filmmaking technology has gotten easier to put in the hands of artists, the documentary genre has boomed and expanded in exciting ways. While this was happening though, nonfiction filmmakers were not getting a proper spotlight on their work. You’d often hear more about social issue films getting all the awards attention. (In recent years, there have been many changes to the Documentary Branch of the Academy Awards to try to fix that. I’ll let you travel down your own rabbit hole there.)

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A collage of “The Unforgettables” nominees, the year’s most notable and significant nonfiction film subjects.

CEH awards include prizes for cinematography, editing and producing – all elements that make or break a great doc film. There are even awards for graphic design/animation and, always a favorite, the Heterodox Award which recognizes narrative films that incorporate nonfiction filmmaking strategies or style in interesting ways (think Boyhood).

Being on the nomination committee, we watched over 100 eligible films. So many amazing stories and voices. Talk about a hard job. Once our votes were counted, the nominees were announced and now we wait to hear the winners announced on Wednesday. You can take a look at all of the nominees on the CEH website. If you are interested in catching the best documentaries of 2016, I highly recommend checking off the films from this list.

Congrats and good luck to all the nominees!