We just had a lovely visit with George’s book group from Toronto (including spouses!). We visited the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk in the Everglades, walked Tigertail Beach on Marco Island, visited Goodland and explored our own community’s little walking trail and boardwalk. We enjoyed a wonderful discussion of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (which most of the spouses had already discussed with their own book groups previously). They are a most thoughtful, interesting and interested group of individuals. A genuine pleasure to host.
OK, enough about our real life. Tonight is my Superbowl, the Academy Awards telecast on ABC at 8 pm hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. I will be hosting a group of neighbours, and following my childhood family tradition of Chinese food on Sunday evenings, we are going to have a Chinese buffet from our local Pei Wei (owned by PF Chang and pretty good for takeout!). Can’t wait!! I am watching last night’s Independent Spirit Awards on IFC (often seen as a bellwether for the Oscars), so I am drinking in pre-Oscar atmosphere all day today.
Here are my picks for what I would like to see win, and my predictions for what will win:
The Best Film nominees:
Call Me by your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
What should win Best Film: I loved Lady Bird the most for its very human and touching moments; I found The Shape of Water the most magical and transformative, a true art film.
What will win Best Film award: I anticipate that Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri will probably win many awards as its message of female empowerment seems very timely for the Time’s Up and Me Too movements.
What should win Best Director and what will win will coincide tonight:
Guillermo del Toro has created a work of art in The Shape of Water; it’s beautiful and touching and unlike any other film.
For Best Actress:
What should win – I loved Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird.
What will win – Frances Macdormand has run away with all the other best actress awards, so I think she will continue her streak in Three Billboards.
For Best Actor:
What should win and what will win – I am in total agreement that Gary Oldman should win for Darkest Hour and predict the Academy will also honour him.
For Best Supporting Actress:
What should win – I loved Laurie Metcalf’s performance as the mother Marion in Lady Bird. It moved me to tears.
What will win – However, watch for Allison Janney to have her Oscars moment for playing the amazingly intense mother in I, Tonya.
Best Supporting Actor:
What should win – Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project) gives a totally moving and understated performance as the most understanding welfare motel manager ever in this lovely, surprising and original independent film about life on the margins in Orlando, Florida.
What will win – However, Sam Rockwell is likely to win for his much lauded tragic/comic performance in Three Billboards.
For a great article on how Rotten Tomatoes is skewing the Oscars Best Picture race, here’s a link:
For another perspective on what should win the Oscars race tonight, here’s a great article from Esquire:
Another blogger has helpfully included a link to see trailers of all the nominated shorts:
Wonder is a lovely family film based on the NY Times bestseller. It tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial deformities who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time. Jacob Tremblay (Room) is Auggie, Owen Wilson is Nate the dad, Julia Roberts is Isabel the mom, and Izabela Vidovic is Via the sister in a break-out role where she is incredibly touching as the neglected child.
The Death of Stalin I had high hopes for this very dark comedy from from Armando Iannucci. Iannucci is the creator of political satires Veep, In the Loop, The Thick of It, all hysterically funny. Stalin is much darker as it follows the Soviet dictator’s last days and depicts the chaos of the regime after his death. Not nearly as funny as I had hoped it would be.
The Path was created for Hulu. It is a dark examination of life inside a cult. It stars Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) as the brooding cult leader.
Wind River is a modern day Western. A veteran tracker (played by Jeremy Renner) with the Fish and Wildlife Service helps to investigate the murder of a young Native American woman, and uses the case as a means of seeking redemption for an earlier act of irresponsibility which ended in tragedy. I enjoyed this dark and brooding film.
Mute is an original Netflix film directed by Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie) and stars Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Rudd, and Justin Theroux. A mute bartender goes up against his city’s gangsters in an effort to find out what happened to his missing partner. Skarsgard is the mute who is wonderful to watch; Paul Rudd is cast against type as an evil gangster; Justin Theroux is almost unrecognizable in a blonde wig and delivers a performance that suggests the role was almost tailor-made for Owen Wilson. Intriguing but probably not for everyone.
My recommendations for viewing that you might otherwise miss:
The Good Fight – on CBS All Access Sunday nights and available through streaming; this wonderful spin off from The Good Wife returns for its second season debut tonight; Christine Baranski continues as Diane Lockhart and this year’s storyline is apparently about an attempt to impeach Trump; ooh…
Our Cartoon President Oscars edition- on Showtime on Sundays; this is a Stephen Colbert production, and tonight’s episode apparently shows Trump critiquing the Hollywood community.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – on HBO Sundays; this series has returned after a long hiatus and is often brilliantly funny
Sundays with Alec Baldwin – on ABC debuts tonight after the Oscars and will air regularly on Sunday nights; who knows what the mercurial Baldwin will have up his sleeve; apparently, he is exhausted by his Trump impersonation on SNL and is longing for a change
Arrow – on the CW has returned on Thursday nights and the villains are still intent on destroying Star City; I know this series is aimed at teenagers, but I can’t help watching it for its Canadian star, Stephen Amell
Chicago Fire – has returned to NBC on Thursday nights and I have no excuse for watching this terribly predictable action soap but for the two head firefighters who are awfully easy on the eyes
Real Time with Bill Maher – has returned to HBO on Friday nights; I am finding Maher’s glibness and smarminess to be a little offputting of late, but he does have great panel discussions
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee– on TBS on Wednesdays returns this week with new episodes; Bee is relentless in her attacks on the powers that be; so un-Canadian for a Canadian girl
Designated Survivor– on ABC on Wednesdays returned last week with new episodes; so maudlin now that the President’s wife has met with tragedy in a soapy ending; I can’t look away from this often ludicrous series as it posits a situation where a man totally unqualified to be President is unexpectedly appointed to the position
McMafia – debuted on AMC last week on Mondays; in lieu of a new James Bond or the forthcoming Dan Silva film adaptations that I am still waiting for, this is a great series in the tradition of The Night Manager which aired last year on AMC. Russian mafiosi/oligarchs abound.
Gotham – on Fox returned last week on Thursdays; I love this very gothic look at the Batman origin story
Unreal – returned last week on Lifetime on Mondays; devilish parody of the Bachelor-type reality series (which I have taken a vow never to watch)
Strike Back – completely flew under my radar and returned 5 episodes ago on Cinemax with a brand new cast; I loved the original seasons of this great action series
Riverdale – on the CW returns this Wednesday with new episodes after hiatus; I love this silly show aimed at teenagers; not your grannie’s Archie Comics
My Usual Weekly Picks
Waco – this six episode miniseries is airing on the new Paramount channel; very dark and sad
The Assassination of Gianni Versace – airs on Wednesday on FX; also very dark and sad
Counterpart – this 13 episode series airs on STARZ on Sundays; set in a parallel universe Berlin, it is dark and intriguing
The Chi – on Showtime Sunday nights; the south side of Chicago is the star here; violent and brooding
Homeland – on Showtime Sunday nights; we’re in Washington now and art mirrors life with a demented President seeing enemies of the state in every corner
9-1-1– on Fox Wednesdays is a very enjoyable procedural on the emergency services in LA
The Resident – on Fox Mondays is a very enjoyable medical procedural with a great cast
The Good Doctor – on ABC Mondays is an enjoyable medical procedural with a twist: the lead character is autistic
Divorce – on HBO on Sunday nights; a delightful rom/com with a wonderful cast
Here and Now – on HBO on Sunday nights; it took me 3 episodes to get hooked on this one; sort of like This is Us with a multiracial cast, but much less cloying and maudlin
The Walking Dead– on AMC on Sunday nights; more mayhem, but a very sad ending for Carl last week
i Zombie – on the CW on Mondays; black comedy abounds in this polar opposite of The Walking Dead where zombies are actually the good guys
The Alienist – on TNT on Mondays; this olde time crime series features an incredible cast (Eric Bruhl, Luke Evans, Dakota Fanning) tracking down a serial killer of rent boys in turn of the century NYC
In addition to the comedy stylings of Samantha Bee, Bill Maher and John Oliver, I love to catch the monologues of Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah. Seth Meyers and James Corden are always worth a look on YouTube. Jimmy Kimmel has the unenviable task this evening of hosting The Oscars for his second consecutive year. He has had an outstanding year where he castigated the government for their lack of commitment to universal health care, spoke out on mass shootings and has generally been outspoken on his concerns re the Trump administration. It will be interesting to see how he handles the Me Too/Time’s Up movement along with all the other political undercurrents of the day.
I am currently watching CBS Sunday Morning as I write this morning. The segment on now is about the many generations of the Newman musical dynasty (Alfred, Lionel, Emil, David, Thomas, Randy et al). Truly inspiring and amazing. Watch the feature documentary Score (available through streaming) if you get a chance. It explores the work behind the composition of musical scores for many films and features composers like John Williams and Hans Zimmer among many others. Other shows that inspire me on a regular basis are CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, CBS’s Face the Nation, PBS’s Frontline, Nova, Nature and many others.
Well, you all know what I will be watching tonight. It is another glorious day here in Naples, and I am starting to count down the days before we head back north. Until mid-April or so, I will enjoy every moment here. There’s much bocce, golf, mahjong, book group, etc. to be enjoyed. Please cherish every moment, wherever you are. Hugs to my friends who are facing medical challenges. Carpe diem!