…and All That Jazz: Miles Ahead and an Oscar Prediction

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rev 1Miles Ahead is the new biopic of Miles Davis, one of the great, if not the greatest, jazz trumpeter and composer of all times. It’s written by Steven Baigelman and the director and star Don Cheadle.  The filmmakers do everything they can, from non-linear storytelling to all sorts of directorial flourishes, to keep the audience enthralled.
And they succeed, at least for a while.  Flashbacks, jump cuts and various stylistic juxtapositions that feel inspired by jazz music, give the film a certain electric immediacy.
But it’s not long before it feels that all this tinsel and sawdust is, well, not a lot more than tinsel and sawdust, there to hide the fact that in the end, the movie, though often entertaining, is really just another, as I and a friend like to call it, typical Warner Brothers biopic, the reference being the prestige pictures of the studios made in their heydays, like The Story of Louis Pasteur, The Life of Emil Zola and even more recently, Gandhi.  All worthy, but all still somewhat bland. Continue reading

My Oscar Predictions

Tomorrow is the big day for movie nerds as the nominations for the next Academy Awards are revealed. As usual, I will try to predict the nominees in the top eight categories. I don’t expect to do that well this year. Usually I end up with an average of one wrong in each category, but this year has become more difficult as no one seems sure as to what will make the finals. But I will do my best.


However, I do think the winners are still more or less set. Best Picture and Director should still be Spotlight; Best Actor will be Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant; Best Actress will be Brie Larson for The Room; Best Supporting Actor will be Sylvester Stallone for Creed; Best Supporting Actress will be Rooney Mara for Carol; Best original screenplay is between Ex Machina and Spotlight; and Best Adapted Screenplay will be The Martian or Steve Jobs.


What do you think?


And The Nominees Are:


Best Picture:

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies



Mad Max

The Martian

The Revenant


Straight Outta Compton


Best Director:

Todd Haynes, Carol

George Miller, Mad Max

Ridley Scott, The Martian

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

(If not Haynes, then Adam McKay for The Big Short)



Best Actor:

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl



Best Actress:

Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Lily Tomlin, Grandma

(Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl could replace Rampling or Tomlin)



Best Supporting Actor:

Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

(Christian Bale for the Big Short could get in, but I don’t know who he’d replace)


Best Supporting Actress:

Jane Fonda, Youth

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

(Helen Mirren could get in, but I don’t know who’d she replace; maybe Alicia Vikander if she gets a Best Actress nom and not a Supporting one)


Best Original Screenplay:

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

The Hateful Eight

Inside Out



Best Adapted Screenplay:

The Big Short


The Martian


Steve Jobs


I think this will be my last thoughts on the Oscars this year in regard to the lack of nominations for Selma.  It’s a bit longer than the others, but hopefully I’ve gotten everything out I need to say.
I remember when I first saw For Your Consideration, the latest of Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy’s satires in the vein of Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. For Your Consideration, a story about a group of people involved in an independent film who get the idea they may be headed for Oscar glory, was not, shall we say, the most praised of their series of films.
There were people who found it funny, but for me, all I could think while watching it was that for people who are inside the movie industry, I’m astounded at how little they seemed to know as to how films become front runners or even considered in any way for the Academy. Continue reading


I have, yet, an additional thought on the issue of Selma not getting more screenplay nominations.  Everyone’s anger is focused on the Academy, and they have their problems and issues that need to be addressed when it comes to minorities, God knows.  But the Academy, as a whole, is the one that gave the movie a best picture nomination.  But Selma did not get a single PGA, DGA, WGA, or SAG nomination.  So instead of focusing the anger on the Academy, shouldn’t as much or even more anger be put on the various unions and guilds?  Isn’t this as much an issue, if not more, than the Academy as a whole?  In fact, in some ways, isn’t the Academy being used somewhat as a scapegoat when it comes to the real problem? Just asking.


I have an addition thought to share on the non Oscar nominations for the movie Selma.  I think many people are sort of missing the really important issue that this situation demonstrates. No one seems to be mentioning that this year, to get diversity into the Oscars, it all depended on one film and one film only. No other films with black actors or subject matter that revolved around people of color were in any way close to being considered for possible inclusion here. Selma didn’t get nominations for a number of reasons, not just because it was niche subject matter and made by artists of color (other reasons include the lackluster campaign and the not getting out screeners and opening late, etc.). But there is also a lack of diversity in the Oscars this year because we are dependent on getting diversity only through one or two films a year. The problem isn’t necessarily that Selma didn’t get the nominations, but that there was only one Selma this year and until we have a larger number of “Selmas” in a year, we may never ultimately resolve the diversity issue in film and awards.