February 27, 2016

2016 Oscar Predictions

It's that time of the year again - when we all sit around and bitch about what was or was not nominated for awards. And as usual, I'm torn between voting for what I want to win and what I think will win. But as much as I want to take a stance against voting for movies like The Revenant, I like winning more. So here are my picks: feel free to challenge me with your own. I'm undefeated 3 years running.

Best Picture predicted winner: The Revenant

In my perfect world, The Big Short would win. Not because it was the most entertaining or best quality movie necessarily, but because then countless people would be spurred to then watch it. I'm going to make it my life's mission to get every single person to watch this movie until financial reform is enacted in the country. Seriously though, watch The Big Short. For the love of God.

  • The Big Short: It won't win, but it's times like these I'm grateful the Oscars still exist to give exposure to these types of movies.
  • Bridge of Spies: I can guarantee not enough people stayed awake through this whole movie to vote for it.
  • Brooklyn: Pretty sure this got nominated just to make the nominees feel less male-dominated.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: I'll be honest--I just ran out of stamina and I wasn't super looking forward to seeing it, so I just didn't. But I wouldn't pick it to win anyway. I know a lot of people loved it, but it just seems too...unrefined for a Best Picture pick.
  • The Martian: Entertaining? Yes. One of the best 8 movies of the year? Not by a long shot.
  • The Revenant: I refuse to watch this movie. That amount of blood and gore cannot be necessary for anyone to watch. But based on people's ridiculously overhyped reactions to it, I'm picking it as the likely winner this year. 
  • Room: This was actually the best movie of the bunch. 
  • Spotlight: If I could hedge my bets, this would be my second choice.

Best Actor predicted winner: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

This article sums up exactly why Leo shouldn't win (even though I didn't see the movie), but he will.

  • Bryan Cranston, Trumbo: He was good, but the ensemble makes the movie, not Cranston alone. If anything, Helen Mirren outshone him in her limited screen time.
  • Matt Damon, The Martian: The hype surrounding this movie seems to have faded quickly.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant: This is finally the year the Academy rewards Leo for his years of patience. Is it his best role? Probably not, but when does anyone ever win "Best Actor" for their best role? The Academy is constantly playing catch up and it's finally Leo's turn.
  • Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs: Inertia from last year? I'm not seeing an Oscar-worthy performance here. I mean, he has terrible hair in the movie, but you'd think the Academy would have more exacting standards.
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl: He can't possibly win 2 years in a row--even with normally Oscar-winning material like being a transgender male in a period piece.

Best Actress predicted winner: Brie Larson, Room

  • Cate Blanchett, Carol: Always a perennial favorite, but I don't think this movie got the kind of exposure it needed to pull down the big awards.
  • Brie Larson, Room: Give this woman a frickin' Oscar. I haven't cried this much since watching Revolutionary Road
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Joy: The Academy seems to be compelled to nominate her for something every year. It doesn't mean she has to win every time, though.
  • Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years: I don't want to say I'm rooting against her after her comments about the Oscars diversity controversy broke, but without seeing her movie, I'm certainly not hoping she wins. 
  • Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn: Excellent acting, but I think she was edged out by Larson this year. I have no doubt Ronan will be back with another nomination though.

Best Supporting Actor predicted winner: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

It wouldn't be the Oscars if someone wasn't completely snubbed and this year is no different. Enter: Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation. Was it my favorite movie of the year? No. Was he completely overlooked? Yes. Is it all a big conspiracy from the Hollywood studios because they're pissed Netflix put out a movie for basically nothing? I'm not ruling it out. But hey, it clears the way for the Academy to give an Oscar to Sly before he catches the cancer bug that's going around...

And while I'm on the subject of snubs, I'm pretty sure the next best performance of the year was turned in by the little kid in Room.
  • Christian Bale, The Big Short: I feel conflicted about his nomination. He played his part well, as always, but I'm not fully convinced he deserved the nod above Steve Carrell. 
  • Tom Hardy, The Revenant: Since I am boycotting this movie, I have nothing to comment on Hardy's performance.
  • Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight: He was literally the only thing I didn't like about the movie. Literally. The. Only. Thing.
  • Marl Rylance, Bridge of Spies: I loved him. Even though America tells me I should hate a Russian spy in the Cold War Era. If I were a voter, he would be my pick. Aside from writing Elba's name in, of course.
  • Sylvester Stallone, Creed: Let's call it a "Lifetime Achivement" award.

Best Supporting Actress predicted winner: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

I think this category, more than the others, is a crap shoot. I'm giving it to Kate Winslet--not because she deserves it the most--but because I think she will win. Why? I have no clue. Because people like her? Because it was a thin year?
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight: I just can't. Tarantino. Enough said.
  • Rooney Mara, Carol: Uh....this is where my lack of knowledge really starts to hamper my decision-making skills.
  • Rachel McAdams, Spotlight: She's good, but it's an ensemble cast. It's not as if she stands out.
  • Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl: Wasn't she nominated for 2 different performances at the Golden Globes? Maybe that means she had enough of a stellar year to bag the prize here?
  • Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs: Doesn't a movie have to be good to nominate people from it? Did Apple pay for these award nominations? I don't get it.

Best Original Screenplay predicted winner: Spotlight

It's impossible to go through these predictions without at least mentioning the elephant in the room: #OscarsStillSoWhite. Straight Outta Compton was one of the best movies I watched last year and the fact that it was almost completely overlooked throughout the entire awards season is tragic. Anyone arguing a biopic about musicians isn't "Oscar fare" needs to go back and watch Ray. Or La Vie en Rose. Or Walk the Line. All of which, btw, WON. So even though I'm happy to see the guys got a bone thrown toward them, I still don't think Oscar voters are going to go all the way and actually award them anything.

  • Bridge of Spies: It's a remarkable story, but I don't see it going home with anything. In any category.
  • Ex Machina: I didn't see this, but isn't it just about a sci-fi sex doll?
  • Inside Out: Even though this wasn't my favorite Pixar movie by a long shot, I do think it was very creative and I'm happy to see voters branch out and nominate an unexpected choice--like an animated movie--for this category. 
  • Spotlight: I think voters really want this movie to win something, and it's not going to in any other category it's nominated. Not saying it doesn't deserve it, but I think it's going to win by default.
  • Straight Outta Compton: This was one of my favorite movies I saw last year. And if Mad Max: Fury Road can get such love, why not this movie?

Best Adapted Screenplay predicted winner: The Big Short

I have no idea who is considered the "front runner" for this category. I don't think there is one. It could literally go any which way.
  • The Big Short: If you've read this far, you already know how I feel about this movie.
  • Brooklyn: Sweet movie, but not heavyweight enough to compete with the others in this category.
  • Carol: This movie won some awards early on, but seems to have been largely ignored since then.
  • The Martian: I've heard from most people, it's a pretty excellent adaptation from a very beloved book. That must count for something. 
  • Room: This is the most depressing movie I've possibly ever seen. I would choose it to win, except I'm not sure it got the exposure it needed because of the utterly horrifying subject matter. Also, everyone I know that read the book said they couldn't possibly make it through the movie.

Best Original Song predicted winner: "Writing's On The Wall" from Spectre

I'll be honest: I only wanted to highlight this category because it meant Fifty Shades of Grey was nominated. I mean, is this the Academy's way of staying edgy? Three Six Mafia? Nine Inch Nails? Now the Weekend and Lady Gaga? Who's next: One Direction? (Yes, I know they broke up. I was just making a joke. And now I've outed myself as a loser who knows not only who 1D is, but that they broke up. Thanks a lot.)

  • "Earned It" from Fifty Shades of Grey: This was my 4-year-old's favorite song for a spell. It really ruined the mood of the movie for me when it came on.
  • "Manta Ray" from Racing Extinction:  I just read the the artist of this song wasn't even invited to attend the Oscars. What? That's not a good sign...
  • "Simple Song #3" from Youth: I might lean toward this song simply for the fact that it's in a movie about old people (which Academy voters love), but this seems to be the category where more "popular" songs win.
  • "Writing's On The Wall" from Spectre: Two word: Sam Smith. I think his soaring popularity is going to net a win.
  • "Til It Happens To You" from The Hunting Ground: Sure, it's Gaga, but it's from a documentary. I'm not seeing it happen.

Best Animated Feature predicted winner: Inside Out

I probably shouldn't even make comments on this category considering the only movie I actually watched was Inside Out. But I can't resist padding my average by predicting what I think is a likely slam dunk on the part of Pixar.
  • Anomalisa: This is the only other movie in the category that got any press, mostly because it was rated R. It doesn't matter--the award is going home with Pixar.
  • Boy and the World: Um...
  • Inside Out: Honestly, is there really any question this movie won't be walking away with statue?
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie: I really love Wallace and Gromit, but I have been less impressed by their Gromit-less fare. (Think: Chicken Run.)
  • When Marnie Was There: I have literally never heard of this movie. Ever.
    As usual, I only predicted the categories I care about/feel like I can reasonably predict. So make sure to check out the Oscars Page to find my reviews on other Oscar nominated movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Cinderella.

    February 24, 2016

    Suffragette (2015)

    Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham Carter, not Meryl Streep

    Let's be honest: this movie was going to have to screw up big time for me not to like it. I am biased toward women's history--especially women's rights--and I'm not going to try to pretend otherwise.

    This movie did not disappoint me.

    First of all, Carey Mulligan is fantastic. (When is she not?) Despite playing a fictional character in a relatively true story, she makes her somewhat hyperbolic situation feel completely real and visceral. Look, I get why Mulligan's character has every terrible thing happen to her. These things actually happened to women who fought for the right to vote, and no doubt many women experienced many of these horrific abuses. Her character was a vehicle to show these seemingly insurmountable obstacles and the depths of despair many women were driven to in their quest for something most people now take for granted.

    Seriously though, who the hell doesn't vote? I don't want to run off on a tangent (as I've been prone to do lately), but it drives me completely batty to watch something this gritty and heartbreaking, knowing so many women completely squander this opportunity women before them literally gave everything for. Literally. Everything. 

    Watching their course of civil disobedience and frustration at the system so obviously stacked against them, I couldn't help but again be reminded of the current fervor over civil right and the Black Lives Matter movement. How many times must we repeat these same mistakes in our treatment of people who only want equality? (And yes, I see the irony in commenting about Black Lives Matter in relation to this movie, which received a great deal of backlash in regards to its own lack of diversity. But that's a post for another day.)

    Ok, back on topic. I can't believe this movie didn't get more attention. That's not true. I can believe it. But the fact that it was overlooked is a damn shame, because this is the first time I've seen this topic covered and I thought it was more than a little compelling. I mean sure, I like WWII movies as much as the next person, but isn't it refreshing to see something different?

    Also refreshing: seeing Helena Bonham Carter in something other than a Tim Burton movie. Almost the entire movie revolves around Mulligan's character, but Bonham Carter gives solid support--unlike Meryl Streep. I know Hollywood is completely in love with her, but the fact that her performance was the one that got talked about when the movie came out is more ridiculous than Judi Dench winning an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love. If you were to take a long blink or a couple of sneezes you would miss her cameo entirely. I'm not sure what she was doing in this movie, other than lend her name to the billing. (For real, why is she on the movie poster? I'm not exaggerating about her short screen time.)

    What held this movie back from being great was not its melodramatic tone (which I didn't mind), but its unresolved ending. For all the focus paid to Mulligan's character throughout, we are given no resolution to her particular story and instead are just fed printed facts about the progress of the women's suffrage movement. I realize the movement itself is intended to be the star of the movie, but by using Mulligan's character as a vehicle to take us through the struggle, it seems cruel to leave the audience hanging after we've become so invested in her. 

    Final word: A compelling historical film about something other than a war.

    February 23, 2016

    Cinderella (2015)

    Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter

    I'm going to be honest (when am I not, really?): I had low expectations for this movie. After suffering through Maleficent, I wasn't convinced Disney could be trusted to make a live action adaptation of one of its most popular movies.

    I am now eating my own words. This movie is legitimately good. Not just "good for a live action adaptation of a kid's story."

    For one thing, it has Cate Blanchett. And aside from that disastrous Robin Hood remake and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, when has she ever been in a bad movie? She is so good at playing a villian, you almost forget she can also play a good guy too. She's someone no one will argue she didn't deserve her Oscars. (Yes, Renee Zellwegger, I'm talking to you.)

    And unlike the aforementioned Maleficent, Lily James is wonderful for the part of the princess. She is pretty and young and fresh--all the things we believe Cinderella should look like. (Though if I really think about it, the animated Cinderella actually looks quite mature.) The only bothersome character is Helena Bonham Carter, who could play a crazy old witch in her sleep, but has these oddly huge fake teeth that are reminiscent of Michelle Rodriguez's veneers in Furious 7. I'm just not sure why the director thought it necessary to try and make Bonham Carter look more crazy for a part she was clearly born to play.

    The plot follows the animated tale's almost exactly, which is nice because no one is going to watch this movie for new plot twists. You want the familiar and lovable story Disney told and that's exactly what they give you. With the exception of the mice, which could have been excised completely and the movie would have been better for it. They are added digitally and don't talk, so really they are just creepy rodents running around that add no value other than the fact that they are later turned into the horses for the carriage. But even I would have preferred a minor plot change for that part than to watch CGI mice run amok in Cinderella's bedroom for an hour. That's the stuff of nightmares. 

    Final word: Minus the CGI mice and the cheap-y looking gown the fairy godmother cooks up, it's a very good representation of the original animated version.

    February 22, 2016

    Bridge of Spies (2015)

    Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance

    Remember how Million Dollar Baby was basically two halves of different movies but somehow people loved it and it won an Oscar? This movie is kinda like that.

    The first half is riveting. A spy thriller with suspense, intrigue, and my favorite, constitutional law. It's quiet, but brimming with possibilities and the acting by Mark Rylance as an accused Russian spy.

    Then...the second half of the movie happens. It's as if it forgot it was supposed to be a thriller and instead transformed into a series of political meetings where you spend all your brain power remembering who is on what side and what their demands are. It's incredibly boring. In fact, it's almost exactly why people start falling asleep the minute you try to recommend a political thriller to them.

    The only thing that kept me interested was knowing Tom Hanks was portraying an actual person. It is a remarkable story--just buried in an unremarkable movie. It's like Captain Phillips all over again. Except not as bad.

    Final word: Underwhelming.

    February 16, 2016

    Room (2015)

    Brie Larson

    I honestly don't know if I can write this review without bursting into tears again. I went through no less than a half box of tissues while watching it. But I'll try and hold myself together.

    This is, without a doubt, one of the saddest, most depressing, most horrifying movies I've ever seen. Even more so than Amour, which is my go-to "most depressing real life scenario" movie I usually name. Being kidnapped and held in some unknown location for years while your captor has complete control over your life is the worst possible thing that could ever happen to anyone. I would probably rather he just kill me straight away.

    Instead, this movie somehow keeps the focus away from the horror of the situation (while keeping it ever present in case you forgot just how terrible it is) and focuses on the bond between a mom and her son and their persevering spirit through an unimaginable circumstance. It's so hopeful, yet depressing. It's moving.

    I can't discuss the particulars of the plot, but I can rave about how phenomenal Brie Larson was. It could not have been an easy role to play. She basically only interacts with a child for the entire movie (who turned in one of the best child acting performances I've seen) and walks a fine line between being [understandably] hopelessly depressed and upbeat for her kid, who doesn't know any better. You can't help but put yourself in the situation and wonder what you would do. Would you be able to keep a happy life for your kid? Would you risk trying to escape? You can't stop ruminating on the possibilities, all the while wishing you could stop thinking about it because you never, ever want to be put in that situation.

    I don't often say this, but there is not a single thing I would change about the movie. No one's hair or voice bugged me, or wish this scene had been different, etc. I don't have a single negative thought about it. I mean, other than basically never wanting to think about this movie ever again. I think I'm traumatized. And yet, I can't stop obsessing over it. I'm pretty sure that qualifies it as a "must-see" movie.

    Final word: This can give anyone a healthy dose of perspective on their life, no matter their situation.

    February 11, 2016

    Brooklyn (2015)

    Saoirse Ronan

    I must say, it was refreshing to see a historical romance movie that wasn't:

    A. A sweeping epic involving war or other drama, or
    B. Starring British people (as much as I love Keira Knightly and corsets and all)

    Instead, this was more of a coming-of-age tale, secretly disguised as a romance. It's almost sweet to see it nominated for an Oscar, considering it's very low level of drama, special effects, or pretty people made to look ugly (none). I'm almost stumped as to how this movie got nominated in the first place.

    Except that it's enjoyable. (Which, sadly, isn't always an indicator.) I can't say it's one of the best things I've watched (especially after last week's back to back showings of Spotlight and The Big Short), but I do appreciate the recognition of Saoirse Ronan's acting and the inclusion of a movie that seems almost out of the ordinary because it's so normal.

    Speaking of Saoirse Ronan (apparently this is how you pronounce her name)... she was excellent in the role. Not only is she authentically Irish (no complaints about accent this time!), but she has such a wonderfully youthful face that she perfectly fits the role of a quiet, innocent girl setting off for a completely terrifying journey. Or adventure. I guess it really depends on how you look at it. Personally, I think setting off for a foreign country, alone, without knowing anyone there or anything about the place sounds horrifying. But then again, I'm also afraid of hostels. So perhaps that life choice just isn't for me.

    Either way, Ronan (I'm skipping her first name entirely) artfully walks us through the memory of growing up, falling in love, making stupid decisions, and deciding how much distance we want from our families. Who can't relate to that?

    Final word: There is no teeth gritting through this movie, though it's not particularly memorable.

    February 8, 2016

    The Martian (2015)

    Matt Damon

    Gravity, this is not.

    Not that I expect all movies set in space to be the same. But everything Gravity was, this is not. And vice versa. The cinematography doesn't take your breath away. Matt Damon isn't intolerable to watch for a couple hours. And most interestingly, this movie lacks the intensity and drama of Gravity. Not that it's a comedy, as the Golden Globes peculiarly categorized it, but it has a lighthearted feel about it, which is odd for the deadly serious premise.

    All of these people are in the movie. With speaking lines.
    I can understand why Matt Damon is earning accolades for his performance, especially considering how impressed critics and voters continually are with an actor who shows off a significantly altered body for a role (except it turns out that was CGI'ed). What I found odd was the number of supporting characters in the movie. I went in expecting Cast Away and ended up with damn near an ensemble cast. Of course NASA is a complicated organization with many tiers of decision makers, but the number of people in this movie felt superfluous. 

    This is not the face of someone
    I'd trust with my life.
    There's his crew of 5. There is the head of his mission, the head of his department, and the head of NASA itself. Then there is the head of PR for NASA and the specific NASA employee charged with tracking his movements. And of course, the other people in NASA that get pulled into the rescue effort, all played by famous or semi-famous people. It's like you need a damn flowchart to track why each person is even there in the first place. Especially this guy, who can't be trusted to play anything but a bad guy or a bad guy pretending a good guy. Just having him in the movie added an unnecessary level of tension because I was convinced he must be secretly sabotaging the whole mission somehow. 

    At the end of the day, the movie is perfectly fine. It's enjoyable to watch. I probably shouldn't have compared it to Gravity, seeing as I actively disliked that movie, but I could understand how people were blown away by the intensity and scale of Gravity. I'm not seeing it here. On one hand, I appreciate the Oscars giving a nod to something less serious and boring than usual (you could actually give this movie a second watch without falling asleep--I'm looking at you, Lincoln, Nebraska, to name a few)--on the other hand, this just doesn't seem to be anything special. Certainly not one of the best 8 films of the year. But, you know, Matt Damon grew a beard for it!

    Final word: Entertaining, but not worth big adjectives like "amazing" or "memorable" or "Best Picture."

    February 4, 2016

    The Big Short (2015)

    Steve Carrell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt

    Every once in awhile, a movie comes along that can actually make an impact on your life. A movie so insightful or meaningful you can't help but remember it, and feel like every single person you know should watch it. THIS IS THAT MOVIE.

    A little background: Once upon a time, I taught high school Economics. My graduate thesis involved the very housing bubble this movie centers on, and the importance of financial literacy in graduating high school seniors. (It's thrilling stuff.) So I'm already a bit ahead of the curve on this stuff and have a pretty good grasp of exactly what caused the financial crisis and why it matters. I WAS STILL HORRIFIED WATCHING THIS MOVIE.

    John Oliver once made a joke about a company's ability to hide anything sinister within a customer licensing agreement because people are too lazy to through boring documents. There's a lot of truth to that. How many people reading this post right now can tell me about the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act? Anyone? Exactly. And yet, it's policies like those that allowed banks to get - and I'm sure you'll recognize this catch phrase - "too big to fail." DO YOU REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT PHRASE MEANS? Do you understand how that affect YOU? YOU NEED TO.

    This movie should outrage people. Mostly because the financial crisis and the unprecedented irresponsibility of companies (and the government) should outrage people, but they don't seem to fully understand what happened, or the fact that very little was done in the aftermath of the meltdown. SO THEY SHOULD WATCH THIS MOVIE.

    Does this actually help people concentrate,
    or detract them from doing so?
    Let me convince you more fully: If you are afraid this movie will be boring, it's not. If you're afraid it will be too serious, well, get out of your action movie mindset, but also, it's not. If you're afraid this movie will use too much complicated lingo you won't understand, it won't. This is literally the most entertaining possible iteration of explaining what otherwise might be a complicated, boring, dense subject for most people. The story is broken down into digestable pieces by highlighting key players who predicted the crash and occasionally breaking the 4th wall to have random celebrities (like Margot Robbie in a bubble bath) explain the technical language. It's a bit sexist, but I can overlook it in the quest for the greater cause of getting people to pay attention to WTF IS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD AROUND THEM. It's a very unorthodox movie in that it almost doesn't feel like a movie, but might be one of the most important films I've ever seen. If I still taught high school Economics, you'd better believe I'd make every single kid watch it.

    As an aside, I know the Oscars have taken a lot of flak recently for being out of touch, but I do think they still serve an important purpose. Without the widespread recognition from several Oscar nominations, would this movie have ever gotten the exposure it did? I doubt it. So even though I still stand by my #OscarsSoWhite column regarding their history of diversity, I applaud the voters for highlighting this movie that EVERYONE SHOULD SEE.


    February 1, 2016

    Spotlight (2015)

    Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schriber, John Slattery

    Al Jazeera America is shutting down in April. In case you haven't heard of it (and with such low viewership, it's entirely possible you haven't), Al Jazeera America was as close to a nonpartisan news network as we have in the States. It gave unbiased, global news coverage without the circus of constantly covering whatever the latest "big" story was. (Think: airplanes disappearing or whatever Trump said yesterday.) But as it turns out, no matter what the Americans say, the majority don't actually want straightforward, factual news coverage. They want to watch news that matches what they already believe. Coincidentally, that probably explains why The Newsroom only lasted two short seasons. Or the very existence Fox News. *eyeroll*

    This movie is the Al Jazeera America of movies. It's factual, straightforward, and without a lot of fabricated drama or overacting. They let the story shine through. And the story is so compelling, it doesn't matter that that's all there is to it. It's like reading the perfect news story, without all that pesky reading.

    The content of the movie is impeachable. It's a story we all know (or should, anyway), a story we are all horrified by (or again, should be), and a story that people need to be reminded of because of our national tendency to be completely outraged by something before moving onto the next big outrage a minute later. It's a fascinating story to watch unfold, even if you already know how it all turns out.

    Perhaps that's to the credit of the ensemble cast, who truly share the acting load equally. So imagine my surprise that the Academy picked out Ruffalo and McAdams to receive acting nominations! To be honest, the only thing that bothered me about the movie was Ruffalo's acting. Literally. That's the only thing. Michael Keaton assumes this completely authentic-sounding Boston accent and totally pulls it off. Ruffalo, on the other hand, doesn't try out an accent, but instead does this weird crooked lip pursing throughout the entire movie. Was he trying to "get into character?" Maybe that's how his real life counterpart talked, except no one really knows who he is, so it just seems like a weird acting tic. I can't explain it. So besides that, there are two scenes where he has a shouting fit, thereby assuring us of his commitment to the story and his anger at the Catholic church, which is what I'm assuming earned him the nomination. Because you know, shouting makes people seem passionate or something.

    There's not much else I can say about the story, mostly because I am still speechless after watching it. (And again, I already knew the outcome of all this. So the impact really says something.) It doesn't carry the personalized emotional journey of my favorite Catholic-Church-is-evil movie, Philomena, but it actually carries a larger impact because of the timing and the scale of the scandal. This movie makes me wonder why we are all ok about condemning Scientology and their shady methods of silencing dissenters but somehow Catholicism emerges from this scandal with plenty of believers and supporters. If we found out a secular corporation were doing this, it would be boycotted until the attrition of consumers forced it to close. Yet, people put their blinders on--for decades!--because doing otherwise would somehow compromise the church that they *need* in the community. I don't get it. I just don't. And what's more, I'm not sure I want to even try.

    Final word: This is the kind of movie that stays with you long after you've watched it. Particularly if you are Catholic, I would imagine.