MCC Live-Tweeting: Oscars 2020

Oscars!

Them statuettes.

At a not-too draggy 215 minutes (give or take three), the 92nd Academy Awards once again sped down the same host-free track as last year, but allowed slightly more room for filler. After an intricate, audacious opening number by Janelle Monae and that Billy Porter guy who tends to wear the loudest outfits at any given awards ceremony, the audience was allowed one (1) segment for stand-up comedy, tag-teamed by former hosts Steve Martin and Chris Rock in a joint achievement in short-term blame-shifting, before the rest of the night barreled onward through the 24 aired categories and an offhand shout-out to the four winners whose lesser Oscars were deemed not fit for telecast. Considering those names included Geena Davis and David Lynch, that was one heck of an inconsiderate yadda-yadda.

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Video Scorecard #22: Oscar Quest 2020 Animated Extra Credit

Klaus!

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor facing off against Disney and DreamWorks films for an Academy Award…

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: the recurring feature that’s more like a newsletter in which I’ve jotted down capsule-sized notes about Stuff I Recently Watched at home. As usual I’ve been preoccupied with my annual bout of Oscar-mania to the consternation of MCC readers who show up here for any other reasons.(I promise we have a road trip miniseries coming soon, with some light travel, history, and a tribute to one astronaut. Honest!

Before tonight’s big Academy Awards ceremony on ABC, there’s one last category in which I managed to catch all the entrants thanks to the wonder of today’s sometimes generous streaming services. Thus we present in brief the three nominees for Best Animated Feature that I didn’t see in theaters:

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The MCC 2020 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Film Revue

Hair Love!

This white guy and his retreating hairline kinda wish we had this young lady’s tonsorial problems.

Each year since 2009 my wife Anne and I have paid a visit to Keystone Art Cinema, the only fully dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis (for now), to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not.

We’ve already covered the Live-Action half. Next we present the Animated Short Film nominees, ranked from absolute keenest to mostly keen:

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The MCC 2020 Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Short Film Revue

Nefta Football Club!

From Nefta Football Club, following in the footsteps of Francis the Talking Mule and Disney’s Gus.

Each year since 2009* my wife Anne and I have paid a visit to Keystone Art Cinema, the only fully dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis (for now), to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not.

(* Sadly, Anne missed last year’s appointment, but she returned this year and didn’t seem to regret it.)

As it happens, this year’s live-action lineup is the strongest I’ve seen in years, with nary a clunker or a repulsive moment of graphic sadism among them. (Some years have been better than others in that respect.) And now, we present our ranking of this year’s five nominees from cutest to most heart-rending:

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MCC Live-Tweeting: Oscars 2019

Gaga Cooper!

Each year I usually grab a pic of the host, but since the producers never filled the position, please enjoy this Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper moment that had already been turned into meme fodder before the ceremony ended.

At a lean 199 minutes, the 91st Academy Awards was perhaps among the speediest ceremonies in decades, but the memorable moments may have been fewer than usual because there were simply fewer opportunities for much to happen. A few presenters did their parts to liven things up — e.g., Samuel L. Jackson, Danai Gurira, James McAvoy, Barbra Streisand (a huge fan of Spike Lee, fellow Brooklynite), and a few others. The triple-threat comedy team of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph had a few minutes to fill the night’s joke quota up front, and did so with a flair enviable to those of us who didn’t watch Fey/Poehler host the Golden Globes a few years ago and who wish they could’ve been bribed into taking charge here all night long.

That being said, it was a very entertaining evening for any moviegoers who liked some of the biggest winners a lot more than I did.

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The MCC 2019 Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Short Film Revue

Skin!

When Rated-M video games seem hokey after Daddy’s taught you how to use a sniper rifle.

Each year since 2009 my wife Anne and I have paid a visit to Keystone Art Cinema, the only fully dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis, to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not.

Unfortunately a change in circumstances and an issue of lousy showtimes led to us shaking up our tradition this year. We both attended a showing of the Best Animated Short Film nominees, but Anne missed out on the Best Live-Action Short Film nominees. My son tagged along in her place and share in what he later described as “a day-ruining experience”. Not that the shorts were awful per se, but the nominating committee and/or this year’s filmmakers went super dark. They weren’t quite as appalling as past incidents when Live-Action Short Film nominees have sprung an occasional grueling rape scene on us, but one in particular is more emotionally scarring than any of this year’s eight Best Picture nominees. Fair warning to anyone who decides to casually check these out when they’re available online February 19th.

And now, we present our ranking of this year’s five nominees, four of which center on the subject of children killing or being killed. Um, enjoy?

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The MCC 2019 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Film Revue

One Small Step also!

To infinity and beyond!

Each year since 2009 my wife Anne and I have paid a visit to Keystone Art Cinema, the only fully dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis, to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not.

Once upon a time we would do both sets as a one-day double-feature date, which gives us time between showings to look around the fashion mall connected to the theater. This year we couldn’t accommodate both in our schedule, but kept half the tradition alive. What follows, then, is my rankings of this year’s Animated Short Film nominees, from fine to finest. All five were likable in their own ways and difficult to rank without getting arbitrary. Three were hand-drawn animation. Three featured Asian or Asian-American main characters. Three had their end credits squashed to half-screen to make space for the directors’ “Oscar Nomination Morning Reaction Videos” squeezed into the other half. Three were silent for the sake of “universal appeal”, which I suppose saves them money by not having to pay any top-tier voice actors.

If they’re not showing at a theater near you and/or if don’t mind waiting, the complete set will be available February 19th on assorted streaming services. (Barring any convenient changes in our theater’s schedule next week, we may have to settle for watching the Live-Action Short Films via Google Play.) Links are provided to official sites where available if you’re interested in more info. Enjoy where possible!

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MCC Live-Tweeting: Oscars 2018

Jimmy Kimmel!

Tonight one random winner took home a statuette personally contaminated by the host himself!

The 90th Academy Awards kicked off Sunday night on ABC with a mildly amusing spoof of olde-tyme theatrical newsreels before returning host Jimmy Kimmel threw down an unprecedented gauntlet: winners were encouraged to speak on any topic they wanted to, no matter how political or incendiary, for as long as they wanted. This promise was eventually broken, much to the consternation of The Shape of Water producer J. Miles Dale, who got orchestra’d out of his spotlight moment because everyone had assumed director Guillermo Del Toro should have the last word.

Also intermittently livening up the night was Kimmel’s chief running gag, a promise of a free jet ski to whoever had the shortest speech. Thus began a night of push and pull, of comparison and contrast, of #MeToo and #TimesUp and diversity abounding and white guys still winning lots of things but not all the things.

Kimmel’s contributions and interruptions were kept to a barer minimum than last year, setting aside one segment that once again indulged his addiction to practical jokes on ordinary people. Assorted parties dropped a few wisecracks at the expense of high-ranking politicians as well as accused sex offenders, but a surprising amount of the commentary was kept on the positive side — a celebration of artists and advancement instead of roasting the haters and attackers. In that sense, some speeches were more refreshing than others.

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The MCC 2017 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Film Revue

Lou!

In this Pixar playground, the Lost have come to seek and save you.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Each year since 2009 my wife Anne and I have paid a visit to Keystone Art Cinema, the only fully dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis, to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not. We like to do both sets as a one-day double-feature date, which gives us time between showings to look around the fashion mall connected to the theater, gawk at clothing, grab snacks, and buy a new piece of cookware from Crate & Barrel.

Next up: my rankings of this year’s five Animated Short Film nominees, from keenest to next-level deluxe keenest-of-the-keenest. As with this year’s Live-Action Short Film nominees, I was so impressed with the uniform brilliance on display that the quote-unquote “rankings” are very nearly arbitrary. These may or may not be uploaded to your usual streaming services at the moment, but their availability should widen in the near future. Links are provided to official sites where available if you’re interested in more info. Enjoy where possible!

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The MCC 2017 Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Short Film Revue

The Eleven O'Clock!

Remember: I’m here to treat you!

Each year since 2009 my wife Anne and I have paid a visit to Keystone Art Cinema, the only fully dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis, to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not. We like to do both sets as a one-day double-feature date, which gives us time between showings to look around the fashion mall connected to the theater, gawk at clothing, grab snacks, and buy a new piece of cookware from Crate & Barrel.

First up: my rankings of this year’s five Live-Action Short Film nominees, from pretty-great to extra-greatest. Unlike some years, we didn’t grumble or nitpick a single nominee among the quintet. These may or may not be uploaded to your usual streaming services at the moment, but their availability should widen in the near future. Links are provided to official sites where available if you’re interested in more info. Enjoy where possible!

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MCC Home Video Scorecard #11: Where the Movies Begin or End

MST3K The Return!

Repeat to yourself, “It’s just Netflix, I should really just relax!”

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: the recurring feature that’s me jotting down capsule-sized notes about Stuff I Recently Watched at home. In this batch: frankly, I’ve procrastinated returning to this idea for so long that my list has grown out of control and consumes far too much of my MCC idea back-burner file, so I’m dumping all its current contents here, zipping through whatever recollections have stuck with me, and resetting the counter to zero. Three cheers for fresh starts!

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MCC Live-Tweeting: Oscars 2017

Jimmy Kimmel!

“You want one of these so bad? Go make a movie that doesn’t suck, you lazy bum.”

The 89th Academy Awards began in style with Justin Timberlake singing or possibly lip-syncing his big Trolls single “Can’t Stop the Feeling”, but ended with all the feelings at cross-purposes when final presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty — reunited fifty years after Bonnie & Clyde lost to In the Heat of the Night — made Oscar telecast history by inadvertently announcing La La Land as the winner when in fact the name printed on their card was Moonlight. La La producer Justin Horowitz broke the news when, after their speech time had already begun, he approached the mic and tried to re-announce the award. At first the audience thought he was just being humble and demurring. Then everyone realized he was serious and extremely classy as he held the card up for the cameras to see. Much confusion and Twitter quips about “fake news” ensued till things were confirmed and the Moonlight team tentatively took the stage and took their turn at thank-yous.

Between those memorable moments, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel hosted in an effort to drum up business for his own show by bringing in his own bits such as “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets”, practical jokes, his Matt Damon feud, and I couldn’t tell you what else because I’ve never watched his show unless tonight’s Oscars telecast counted as an episode of it.

Right this way for the list of winners and a running commentary!

The MCC 2016 Oscar-Nominated Short Film Revue

Piper!

Many of you may recognize one of the nominees from last summer…

Each year since 2009 my wife and I have paid a visit to Keystone Art Cinema, the only dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis, to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not. We like to do both sets as a one-day double-feature date, which gives us time between showings to look around the fashion mall connected to the theater and gawk at clothing and cookware with triple-digit prices we could never conscionably pay.

First up: my rankings of this year’s five Animated Short Film nominees, from not-bad to peachiest. They’re probably available on iTunes or other streaming services, but I honestly haven’t checked. Links are provided to official sites where available if you’re interested in more info. Enjoy where possible!

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Oscars 2016: Nonwhite Presenters Present Bright Spots in White Cinema

Chris Rock!

“I counted at least fifteen black people in that montage!”

Thus did emcee Chris Rock kick off the 88th Academy Awards after an animated intro full of lamps with adjectives on them and Oscar statuettes being imbued with all the colors of the rainbow. After the actors and actresses of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences offered up their second consecutive slate of twenty white nominees in a row, the Academy faced an online onslaught of #OscarsSoWhite criticism and went into full damage control mode, enlisting writer/director and former BET CEO Reginald Hudlin as an additional producer and basically giving second-time host Rock a free pass to do whatever came to mind. This served him well for a surprisingly outrageous monologue and a few later comedy bits, until later in the ceremony when he threw away a significant chunk of goodwill on a quick, pointless, unfunny, racist gag that had nothing to do with anything.

It was one surprise in a night full of several, some of them not so tasteless. A few movies I really liked in 2015 came away with bragging rights, so I got that going for me.

Right this way for the list of winners and rundown of memorable moments!

2015 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Films: Best to Not-Best

Bear Story!

Each year since 2009 my wife and I have paid a visit to Keystone Art Cinema, the only dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis, to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not. Usually we do both sets as a one-day double-feature date, but a non-negotiable scheduling conflict cut into our window of opportunity. We saw the live-action shorts two weekends ago, and caught the animated shorts this past weekend.

Presented below are my rankings of this year’s five Animated Short Film nominees, in order from “So Many Feels” to “Had Drawbacks”. They’re probably available on iTunes or other streaming services, but I honestly haven’t checked. Links are provided to official sites where available if you’re interested in more info. Enjoy where possible!

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2015 Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Short Films: Best to Not-Best

Alles Wird Gut.

Local Dad Misreads Calendar, Mistakenly Celebrates “Take Your Daughter Day”

Each year since 2009 my wife and I have paid a visit to Keystone Art Cinema, the only dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis, to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not. Usually we do both sets as a one-day double-feature date, but a non-negotiable scheduling conflict cut into our window of opportunity. We saw the live-action set this week, with hopes to catch the animated shorts next weekend.

This was the first time in years that neither Anne nor I hated any of the five live-action contenders. Oddly, this was also the first year in some time that not a single nominee featured any Hollywood actors we recognized. (I uncovered a few low-level ones after the fact, but they were strangers to us.) We don’t require familiar faces to enjoy a given work, but it’s nifty to have a lineup 100% guaranteed not to have slid in on marquee recognition alone. Presented below are my rankings of this year’s five Live-Action Short Film nominees, from the most Outstanding to the most Needs Improvement, as my old report cards used to label. They’re probably available on iTunes or other streaming services, but I honestly haven’t checked. Links are provided to the official sites if you’re interested in more info. Enjoy where possible!

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The 88th Oscars Nominations: Initial Thoughts, Lists, and Stats

Creed!

Original working title for this entry: “I’m Sorry the Academy Thinks Michael B. Jordan Sucks”.

The Academy Award nominations are in! But you already knew that because chances are you’ve had more time for internet than I have today. You’ve already been surprised at how many of the nominees you’ve seen, not surprised that the theme of the 88th Academy Awards will be the Year of the White Guy, and probably up in arms that Star Wars: The Force Awakens wasn’t nominated in nineteen different categories including Best Foreign Language Film on behalf of the one scene with the two guys from The Raid. Ha! Sorry you got your hopes up, you FOOL. The guys from The Raid weren’t nearly white enough.

(If you had to work today like I did, here’s the complete list in showy poster format, or you can do like I do and skip to the “Printable List” button on the right side of that page for a handy PDF. I have zero interest in copying ‘n’ pasting the entirety from someone else’s site, or in typing every single title from scratch. It’s not like I’m paid by the word.)

Momentary pause here to signify my disappointment that Creed likewise failed to be nominated for all the awards ever. I’m sincerely cool with Stallone’s nomination and expected no less, but much more love needed to go out to Michael B. Jordan, director Ryan Coogler, Ludwig Goransson’s score, screenplay, editing, the works. I already went through this frustration two years ago with Fruitvale Station, and yet here we go again. A few things went my way, but seeing Creed seated at the kiddie table wasn’t one of them.

(Same goes to a certain extent for Inside Out, my favorite film of 2015, but I’m used to Hollywood underrating its animated films. To its credit, it received nods for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Screenplay, which means it got twice as many nominations as Creed did. Congrats?)

The following lists and other thoughts popped into my head throughout the day while I mulled over this year’s honorees:

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Oscars 2015: A Salute to Diversity on Stage (or, Never Mind the Ballots)

Oscars!

87th Academy Awards host Neil Patrick Harris reminds you there are no small winners, only small haters.

“Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest…”

Thus did Neil Patrick Harris kick off the 87th Academy Awards, whose twenty acting nominations failed to impress any onlookers who favor a multicultural viewpoint on everyday life. Much has already been said about this disconcerting coincidence over the past month-plus, but the show’s producers, no doubt in tandem with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, went all-out in assembling a team of celebrity presenters positioned a bit more broadly across the racial spectrum. Big names announcing or handing out awards included Oprah Winfrey, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o (a lock regardless of controversy thanks to last year’s 12 Years a Slave win), Jennifer Lopez, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kerri Washington, Viola Davis, Zoe Saldana, Dwayne Johnson, Terrance Howard, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Hart, Eddie Murphy, and AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs (another lock by virtue of her position).

Their compensation efforts were noticed. And to be fair, not everyone who took home a statue tonight was white. There are other interesting categories besides acting.

Right this way for the winners and special moments!

2014 Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Shorts: From Best to Not-Best

The Phone Call!

Sally Hawkins standing by in “The Phone Call”.

Each year since 2009 my wife and I have made a day-long date of visiting Keystone Art Cinema, the only dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis, to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not. To be honest, this year’s live-action contenders were not my favorite lineup.

Presented below are my rankings of this year’s five Live-Action Short Film nominees, from the most effective to the most not-so-much. One or more of these were formerly streaming online for free, then yanked once they were nominated. It’s my understanding they’re available on iTunes or other such services. Links are provided to the official sites or the next most relevant thing I could locate if you’re interested in more info. Enjoy where possible!

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2014 Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts: From Best to Not-Best

Feast!

Each year since 2009 my wife and I have made a day-long date of visiting Keystone Art Cinema, the only dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis, to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not.

Presented below are my rankings of this year’s five Animated Short Film nominees, from the greatest to the most head-scratching. It’s my understanding all five nominated animated shorts can be viewed on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and other similar sources. Links are provided for official sites or the next relevant thing available. Enjoy!

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