Oscar Noms 2012 — Analysis Forthcoming

SHOCK OF THE DAY: No Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director

Lead Actress: Naomi Watts, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Emmanuelle Riva, Quvenzhane Wallis

Lead Actor: Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Hugh Jackman, Joaquin Phoenix, Denzel Washington

Best Picture: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Silver Linings, Zero Dark 30, Lincoln, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Amour, Django, Argo

Best Director: David O. Russell, Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg, Michael Haneke, Benh Zeitlin

Adapted Screenplay: Beasts, Argo, Lincoln, Silver Linings, Life of Pi

Original Screenplay: Flight, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, Amour, Moonrise Kingdom

Best Foreign Film: Amour, No, War Witch, A Royal Affair, Kon-Tiki

Supporting Actress: Helen Hunt, Amy Adams, Sally Field, Jackie Weaver, Anne Hathaway

Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Alan Arkin, Tommy Lee Jones

2012 Movies, Part 1: Top 5 Films

djangoblueThe Extraordinary
Fantastic movies of 2012

I’ve seen a lot of movies this year and wanted to discuss all of them in-depth, but realized that was way too much for one post.  So, to start with, this is a list of my ten favorite films of the year and a discussion of the problematic aspects of many of them.  It is possible, of course, to love a movie that has issues, and many of my favorite films of the year focus on the privileged.  So without further ado, my top 10 films and their strengths and weaknesses.

1. Django Unchained: The story of a slave and an enlightened German bounty hunting and seeking revenge in antebellum South.  This is my favorite movie of the year.  It deserves nods for Best Directing, Best Screenplay, Best Soundtrack, Best Original Music, Best Ensemble, Best Western Since Blazing Saddles, Most Brilliant Unnecessary Carnage, and Best Conversation Starter.

Representation: Bechdel Test: Fails. The beautiful and awesome Kerry Washington is the damsel in distress who, unfortunately, doesn’t do anything proactive.  Zoe Bell has a brief appearance, unrecognizable and badass as a villainess.  There are also several slave women who are there to be eye candy or Mammy and Leonardo DiCaprio’s character has a sister, who meets a wonderfully horrific end.  And, with the loss of Tarantino’s brilliant editor Sally Menke, there aren’t any women in above-the-line positions on the film.  On the other hand, the film makes strong use of African-American characters, who have complex interactions with the Institution, making it a surprisingly nuanced portrayal of slaves.

2. Hitchcock: The story of the making of Psycho and the relationship between Alma Reville and Alfred HItchcock.  I love Helen Mirren so much I would go see her in anything and she has some wonderful moments here.  Anthony Hopkins is good as Hitchcock, but it is really Mirren who steals the show, especially since so few know the story of the woman behind the man.

Representation: Bechdel Test: Pass, I think.  It’s a biopic about Hitchcock, who is a man, and nearly every conversation is about him.  But I’m fairly certain his secretary, played by the wonderful Toni Collette, and Alma discuss the script, which Alma rewrites for her husband.  The story is not strictly historically accurate, but it is fascinating, especially as an attempt to give credit to the woman who was so instrumental to Hitchcock’s success.  In a way, the film is very empowering in as much as it reveals just how much Alma contributed. There are, of course, no people of color in the film, arguably because that’s what Hollywood and Hitchcock’s circle looked like in 1960.

Great interview with Helen Mirren:

3. Silver Linings Playbook: The story of a man trying to overcome his bipolar disorder so that he can reunite with his wife who meets a young woman struggling with her grief from her husband’s death.  The trailer did not make me think that this movie was going to be particularly special, but the reviews were so positive that I went to see it anyway.  Although I have some issues with the end, it is an incredibly well-made movie and both Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are perfect in their roles.  The scene-stealer of the movie, however, is Robert DeNiro, who I would give best supporting actor to in a heartbeat.

Representation: Bechdel Test: Fail.  Chris Tucker, John Ortiz, and Anupam Kher offer faces of color and interesting, complicated characters.  While they are not the leads, they have meaty roles that offer them more to do than most films give their secondary characters.  All three of them are incredibly charming and funny.  Lawrence is, of course, a fantastic and fun woman who is complex and, while she needs a little rescuing, she is also rescuing Cooper from his life as well.  She is strong and vicious and sweet in turns.  Jacki Weaver is also great as the mother.

Not the spitting image of Ben Affleck

Not the spitting image of Ben Affleck

4. Argo: The true story of a CIA agent pretending to be a Hollywood Sci-Fi movie’s location scouter to rescue 6 Americans from Iran.  I normally can’t stand Ben Affleck as an actor, but I love real-life intrigue stories and, it turns out, he was actually really good in this film.  Roger Ebert named this as his number one film of the year, and while it didn’t quite reach that for me, I understand why it did.  It is, as he says, the most “movie” movie of the year and, like Ebert, I am very much interested in popular movies as much as I am in high film, if not more.  John Goodman and Alan Arkin are brilliant as ever.

Representation: Bechdel Test: Pass.  This is very much the story of tricking the Iranians and Iranians hating Americans, so there’s not a lot of positive feelings given their way.  Affleck is also playing a person of Mexican heritage — on the one hand, it’s awesome that a movie got made with someone named “Mendez” as the hero and it never would have gotten made without Affleck, on the other hand it’s a shame that the movie plays down his heritage and didn’t have the ability to give the opportunity to someone who is Mexican American.

beasts

5. Beasts of the Southern Wild: The story of a little black girl living outside the levees in New Orleans and how she survives a big storm and her father’s illness.  I was fully expecting this to be my favorite movie of the year — I love magical realism stories about children.  Plus, Obama recommended it to Oprah, who named it her favorite film of the year — if that’s not endorsement, what is?  It didn’t make it to number one, but it is an incredible movie.  Quvenzhané Wallis is incredible in the lead.

Representation: Bechdel Test: Pass.  While I found this movie empowering and meaningful as a depiction of rural, Southern life, there has been substantial disagreement from others.  While Obama and Oprah loved it, bell hooks thought it was a portrayal of the noble savage and black matriarch stereotypes.  I personally think the entire movie subverts those stereotypes with a strong black single father who is fiercely devoted to his daughter, if not affectionate, juxtaposed against the strong teacher figure who helps her with her father’s illness but doesn’t ever take care of her — and I don’t see how a six-year old who is dependent on others to survive is a “matriarch”.

Honorable mentions: Brave (Bechdel Pass, no people of color); The Hunger Games (Bechdel Pass, strong secondary characters were people of color); Rise of the Guardians (Bechdel Fail, no people of color); Wreck-it Ralph (Bechdel Pass, no people of color); Zero Dark Thirty (Bechdel Pass, one minor character and bad guys were people of color)

Films on other people’s lists that I haven’t seen: The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spiderman, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Oranges, Moonrise Kingdom, Safety not Guaranteed, Take this Waltz, Life of Pi, Amour

Election Liveblog

I give up on trying to get real work done, I’m just going to have to give in to the election addiction. Updates will be here!

12AM Some are too close to call, but it appears right now that all the pot and gay things are going the right way.

11:38 Colorado legalizes pot yeyah

11:17 There are other races I care about — the pot and gay stuff — but i feel safe walking away from the race now.  <3

Fox News is calling it.

11:13 NBC called Ohio, Obama has won the election.

11:11 “Where Cubans go to live, and Jews go to die.” – Florida according to TDS

11:10 McCaskill to audience: “you wanted nothing more complicated than your government to reflect your values”

Iowa to Obama — in my opinion, that’s the election.

11:08 Kyrsten Sinema (atheist from AZ) has a slight lead

11:06 Right now gay marriage, pot initiatives across country all winning (for now)

I wonder how horrified Dick Morris is at how wrong he was.  Oh wait, he’s always wrong.

11:03 Denver Post calls CO for Obama, one more state and he’s got it.

11PM CA, Hawaii, WA going to Obama; ID and Montana to Rmoney.

10:57 NC finally going to Rmoney; Tim Kaine (D) wins VA

10:56 Elizabeth Warren acceptance speech.  So happy for her.

10:54 11PM is going to make this look better.

10:50 David Axelrod gets to keep his mustache.  This is important.

10:43 Obama in Minnesota official.

10:39 Rape publicans have all lost their seats. I would feel sorry for them but they kind of asked for it.

10:37 zefrank ‏@zefrank

you know what would be a funny prank? if romney wins we should all go on unemployment…right?

10:36 FOX still talking about how it seems the Dems focusing on women seems to have worked.

10:34 AZ officially to Rmoney

10:30 Megyn Kelly: “Is this just math you do as a Republican to make you feel better, or is it real?”

NOW FOX news reporting illegal voting in Ohio

With 88 percent of precincts reporting, petition candidate Katrina Shealy is holding onto her 51-44 percent lead over incumbent S.C. Sen. Jakie Knotts (R-SC).

10:25 New Hampshire elects America’s only female Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan

10:23 If I understand this map correctly, if Obama wins Ohio, where he’s ahead, he will be at 269 in electoral college.  Meaning tie at worst.

10:18 A Scientologist is interviewing Sarah Palin on Fox News right now. Their conversation is as rational as you might expect. – Guy Adams

10:16 

Dear Todd Akin, don’t worry, your state has ways of shutting you down in a legitimate election. #ThankYouMissouri

Some great exit polling on ending marijuana Prohibition in Colorado 57 – 43. Yay! http://thebea.st/U7LdNo

10:14 Emmett:

FOX: There are a lot of liberal moderates in this country and people overplay the idea of Obama as a Socialist/Marxist.
Sarah Palin on FOX: Bain Capital / auto bailout ads seem to have been bad for Romney
my McCaskill post the most popular of the night
Sarah Palin is so so sad.

10:07 FUCK YOU TODD AKIN CLAIRE MCCASKILL YOU DA BEST GARL

(MSNBC projecting her win)

10:05 Massachusetts approves Medical Marijuana!

10:04  FOX saying 246 – 187 to Obama and then map out how Romney can come back and win #fairandbalanced?

Lieberman loss. HA.

10:02 Utah, Montana, to Mitt.  FL, OH, NC, VA, CO, AZ, MN, MO too early/close to call

9:58  FOX literally just said….”sure Elizabeth Warren won but you can’t compare her to some of the rising stars in the Republican Party like Rubio and Paul Ryan”

wow.

9:55

9:53 Favorite FB friend update: 10,000 people in Florida voted for Roseanne Barr. Wat.

9:50 NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTHER FUCKER

9:48 Twitter touching my heart a little here.

9:47 FOX calling Tammy Baldwin. Say she comes out of liberal stronghold of Madison. Then quickly talk about Republicans keeping control of House.

FOX: Big night for Dems in the Senate

9:45 Ohio still up in Ohio.  John Courson beating Robert Rikard handily (59-38).

Fits: BREAKING. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has just been elected the second president of the Confederate States of America.

9:41 Nate Silver: On The Wall, The Writing.

Nate Silver: In every presidential election since 1960, the candidate who prevailed in Florida’s Hillsborough County, home to Tampa, has also prevailed in Florida. More than 80 percent of the vote has been reported in Hillsborough, and President Obama leads Mitt Romney by five percentage points.

Best I’ve felt all night.

9:39 From Palmetto Public Record

Voters returned approximately 400,000 absentee ballots this year, surpassing the 2008 record of 342,000 absentee ballots. Voters showed the same enthusiasm at the polls today, with anecdotal reports from across the state indicating heavy turnout. The State Election Commission expects total voter turnout to be similar to the record-setting 76 percent turnout of 2008.  Participation may even surpass the 2008 record.

“The passion and dedication of South Carolina citizen for the electoral process was on display at the polls today,” said Marci Andino, executive director of the South Carolina State Election Commission. “We’re grateful to voters for their patience as they waited to cast their ballots, and we want to thank the 20,000 poll workers and election officials across the state for their tireless work to ensure that every vote counts.”

9:36 With Wisconsin going to Obama, Romney has 24 ways left to win. Obama has 230. Romney-Ryan becomes first presidential ticket to lose both candidates’ home states since McGovern-Shriver, 1972.

9:30 Really good news out of Florida regarding separating church and state

9:28 O’Reilly be racist: “Obama wins because it’s not a traditional America anymore. The white establishment is the minority. People want things.”

9:27 AP miscalled Baldwin, Warren still not called by NBC is the current update.

Megyn Kelly: Auto industry bailout “apparently important to some folks there.” In Michigan, she’s saying. You see.

9:25 People are still in line to vote in the already called state of South Carolina.  I’m just a little bit proud of the people in my state right now.  Now that is news.

9:24 Twitter tells me we have our first LGBT Senator: Tammy Baldwin.

9:23 New favorite tweet of the night:

9:22 Nate Silver saying that, if Obama wins in Florida, it will be largely due to the fact that Cubans and Hispanics generally like him better than they did in 2008.

9:20 The state of disenfranchisement in the state of Florida is horrific, according to HuffPo:

A stunning 23 percent of African Americans, the highest figure in the nation, cannot vote due to laws on felon disenfranchisement in Florida. Gov. Rick Scott (R) has made it harder for ex-felons to restore their eligibility and in 2011 signed a law cutting early voting days nearly in half. The result has been chaos during early voting in places like Miami-Dade County, where people have waited in line for as many as eight hours. Florida also has a photo ID law.

9:18 Emmett says we are going to win Florida.  He is confident.  That is why I love him.

9:16 11 point lead for O in OH

Ohio polling places ran out of provisional ballots

9:15 PA is officially Obama’s. Electoral college avenues closing for Rmoney.

9:14 Home states Massachusetts and Michigan go Obama instantly. To know Mitt Romney is to dislike Mitt Romney. – pourmecoffee

9:13 I’m hearing that Massachusetts called for Elizabeth Warren. SOOO EXCITED

9:12 Think it’s bad news for Rmoney that NC hasn’t been called.  I was *certain* he would win that handily.

9:11 Obama up to 85 percent on InTrade. http://bit.ly/e5QnYA  Romney 7/1 Betfair http://bit.ly/RfyrhA

9:10 FOX now talking about how married women and religious people vote for Romney and single women and heathens vote for Obama. This is making my heart hurt. I want to change the channel.

FOX PEOPLE STILL TALKING ABOUT ABORTION AND HOW THEY CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE CARE!!!

9:08 FOX talking about how Romney needs more white male voters than he’s getting!!

NJ officially projected for Menendez and Obama.

9:07 Chris Matthews excited about the accuracy of polls and the fact that those still in line in VA may well decide the election.  Rachel Maddow telling people they HAVE TO STAY IN LINE.

Fox can’t understand why abortion is an issue for anyone when some people aren’t employed. -_-

9:04 Wisconsin ran out of ballots.  WHAT

9:03 NBC officially projecting the House will be controlled by Republicans.  Boehner continues.

9:01 MI to O; WI, MN, CO too close to call on FOX

8:54 In Maryland, same-sex marriage referendum is currently up 58-42!!!

8:52 Laura Ingraham: the Republican Party should be beating Obama handily, and if not, WE need to take a long look at ourselves.

8:46 Florida writer and blogger Joy Reid tweets: “Long lines and poor management of all three South Florida counties will be a major storyline in this election. #election2012″

FOX: Exit polls are often turned around by actual vote which will be great for Romney

8:39 Arkansas going Republican in both houses for first time since Reconstruction. FOX lady seriously talking about how white people voting for MItt, all people of color for Obama…Huckabee saying Rebublicans have not reached out well enough to people of color

FOX saying that Romney crushing amongst people who go to church. Huckabee saying Obama is trampling over Americans religious liberties
8:34 All reports are saying that Bill O’Reilly is near tears.

Exit polls show 74 percent of Asian-Americans voting for Barack Obama

8:33 Former mayor of Miami emails BBC and says Miami Dade County margin for Obama has exceeded what he won the state with in 2008.

8:28 Nicol: There is an app for the Washington State election results, I just downloaded it. It is called “Washington State Election Results”.  There you go.

8:26 Nicol: electoral votes getting closer. Btw, electoral votes are still dumb.

Local news is interviewing Jim Clyburn (who won 96% of the vote) who says the Obama camp is fairly comfortable right now.

8:23 Huge turnout in Virginia. Bigger than 2008.

8:22 Emmett: Joe Donnely crushing Mourdock!!! Donnelly winning the not-dick vote

8:21 Angus King wins Maine = good news for Dems; Bill Nelson Senator in FL wins

Friends on Facebook claim there’s nothing on TV tonight and/or they’re stress-baking.

8:20 Mitt Romney says he didn’t write a concession speech.  Interesting.  Does he write any of his speeches though, I mean really.

8:17 Obama has taken an early lead in Ohio with a strong showing with early voters. Romney will need a very strong showing with election day voters. by Nate Cohn 8:12 PM

8:15

Erin Burnett saying this about OH…..
Obama leading early voters in OH by 100k
CNN Official: GA to Rmoney

8:13 Twitter keeping it real.

Rocky Anderson posting sweet and futile updates on FB.

8:10 Andrew Sullivan is now officially liveblogging.  Life is good again.

8:08  Emmett: FL making me feel very very good. As does the late voters in VA who are mostly in Northern VA…might as well be in DC.  Obama people seem to be very worried about the popular vote

My old ward, at Dreher High School, had 75% turnout!

8:06 Nicol: I feel like if I had nails to bite, I would be biting them.

Mom: I don’t even think it’s going to be close.

Stepdad: I still think Romney’s going to win, unfortunately.

8:04 CNN saying Obama people saying O doing very well in Pennsylvania and Candy Crowley’s hair looks great!! O still crushing in FL. CNN projection wall is all Obama!!! all predictable… right now 64-40 Obama from CNN exit polls….. O 50-49 in FL MO 53-44 R New Hampshire 50-48 O NJ 53-45 O PA 52-47 O

Wolf Blitzer is required to remind us that exit polls mean nothing after every exit poll number he gives. (Update courtesy Emmett)

8 PM Rachel Maddow’s calls: Illinois, Massachusets for Obama; TN for Romney; Maryland for Obama; Alabama for Romney; Oklahoma for Romney; Conn. for Obama; Miss. for Romney; Maine for Obama (interesting); Rhode Island for Obama, also Delaware; DC for Obama; Jersey too early to call, because of extenuating circumstances, won’t call until Friday (what?!); Ohio and Missouri also too early (poor Ohio); (Update courtesy of Blog Reporter Nicol)

7:58 From NPR: Virginia elections officials say they’ve paused releasing vote results because “many voters remain in lines in certain areas of the Commonwealth.”

7:53 Tweet of the night

7:51 Pete Strom, former US Attorney for SC, “I have been made privy to national exit polling from a Republican. If they are accurate, Obama is going to win the electoral college decisively…but exit polling has been wrong before.”

7:47 HuffPo fixes it’s prediction without changing the numbers. Oh Huffpo.

7:45

Huffington Post is calling SC for Obama… what?

7:44 Emmett: “51-48 O in FL with 29% in.”

Even though Virginia is reddish right now, Obama looks to be outperforming in the counties compared to 2008.

7:39 Ohio, NC, and WV are now closed.  AHHHHH AHHHH. I think I should have more insightful comments, but I’m pretty much just freaking out right now.

Record voting turnout is exciting at least.

7:36 They’ve called SC to Rmoney, even though it’s currently at 75% for Obama here.  Lulz.

7:33 According to blog reporter Emmett Williams, CNN has NC as dead heat, OH and FL leaning Obama

7:30 Latino vote is up in Florida, white vote is down.  Interesting.

7:27 LOOK AT THIS LOOK AT THIS

7:26 Dick Harpootlian (real name) is the head of the dem party in South Carolina — right now they’re reporting 86% OBAMA – 13% in South Carolina.  Got to be the place that is reporting, but holy hell that’s awesome.

7:25 I’ve gotten votes all over the country from my half-hearted digital campaign against Joe Wilson.  It’s kind of amazing.

I love Rachel Maddow.  That’s not strictly related.

My stepdad is calling it for Rmoney.

5 mins til the end of Ohio.

7:20 Virginia is the focus on MSNBC, where they are currently putting it at 3 – 19.  Some people are more willing to call based on exit polls and state history than others.  As much as I dream of a day of a blue SC and Georgia, I don’t think calling them for Rmoney is particularly risky.

7:15 They are starting to count the votes and calling them for people based on exit polls.  Weirdly, people are still in line and they’re calling already.

NPR has it 3 – 44, Romney leading.

7:00 PANIC PANIC PANIC OH GOD ELECTION OH GOD

6:50 More Exit Poll info:

On immigration, AP reports, 3 in 10 voters surveyed in early exit polls “said that most illegal immigrants working in the U.S. should be deported. Nearly two-thirds said such people should be offered a chance to apply for legal status.

“Six in 10 voters said that taxes should be increased. … Just over one-third said taxes should not be increased for anyone.”

And I appear in this local news story about how much SC has flubbed the election process!  Hurray I’m in the FreeTimes!

6:45 Stole this from local SC right-wing libertarian site Fitsnews liveblog:

Looking for a place to follow tonight’s returns/ results?  Here’s a comprehensive listcourtesy of our friends at Gigaom …

6:40 Interesting information here at CBS: more voters want to keep/expand Obamacare than repeal it, majority of voters think that Romney’s policies favor the rich.

I am going to have to change locales, so I will be offline for more than 10 minutes in the near future.  Meanwhile, results slowly trickling in from Indiana and Kentucky.  At 7pm we’ll start getting Virginia and Florida.  And my home state of South Carolina — which no one is concerned about doing anything but going red.  I wonder if I’ll ever be able to find out how many people wrote me in?

6:30 Why early voting news is often more harmful than good, look at how many votes they’re counting:

6:25 Fact of the day: 22 percent of African-American adults in Kentucky cannot vote because of felon disenfranchisement laws.

JT is doing a live-blog as well, over on Patheos.

In other interesting fact news, The New York Times reported that, on Monday, 20% of the traffic was to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight

6:20 Virginia turnout is higher than in 2008, and the counties Obama depended on for his win then are seeing high turnout as well.  Not great news for Romney, Virginia is not a must win necessarily, but as a bellwether for the rest of the election it is grim.

6:15 Here is my favorite liveblog that I am following: Policymic.

Two images here, early exit polling and a picture of what Mitt will look like if he loses.

6:10 Lindsey Graham (Sen, SC, R) recognizes the problem his party has is due to demographics more than anything else.  Sometimes I find myself tempted to really like Butters.

We’re not losing 95 percent of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we’re not being hard-ass enough.

6:05 Terrible news — Rachel Maddow is sounding a bit hoarse.  Palmetto Public Record did an excellent job covering the election debacle in South Carolina, where people were waiting in lines so long you’d think we were a swing state.  I’m quoted throughout.

6:02 To start with, this is Nate Silver’s prediction for the day, which is in our favor…