Saturday, February 25, 2006

My Oscar memories...

I suppose I should probably discuss something that hasn't been nearly as engaging for me as it has in year's past: The Oscars. It seems like every other year has at least had one major nominee that I wanted to root for, including three years of "Lord of the Rings" love. But this year, for the first time in a while, not only have I not seen a single nominee for Best Picture, I have almost no desire to see any of them. That apathy towards the nominees has carried over into my favorite element of the Oscar season...the Oscar Party, which will not take place for the first time in five years. But instead of whining over how corrupt and political Hollywood is, I'd rather reflect on some pleasant Oscar memories of years gone by....

I can't really explain my interest in the Academy Awards--it probably dates back to the year when "Beauty and the Beast" was nominated for Best Picture, and I hoped in vain that it would beat out "The Silence of the Lambs." While I was a teenager, it seemed like the hometeachers always wanted to come on Oscar night, and since the internet and Tivo were still brewing in Al Gore's imagination, I was forced to tape the ceremony and try to catch up what I missed during the commercial breaks.

My first "Oscar Party" took place back in 2001, when my invitees included me, my brother Jon (more interested in his popcorn), and Lindsay Arnett. It was a wild party, and we were sad when our favorite nominee ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") had to settle for Best Foreign Film rather than Best Picture (no thanks to "Gladiator"). Lindsay and I sat on my parents' floor downstairs and marked our guesses along with the winners. I can't remember who won, but I know it wasn't Devry....

The following year was a banner year for the Oscar Party: it marked the first year when our guests necessitated a move upstairs where there was more room for visiting, predicting, and watching Devry sweep the game (which she did for the next three years...). Sometimes the party included special visits from Legolas and Gimli, and always included lots of food. They were probably more fun for me to host than for people to attend, but everyone was a good sport and occasionally won a prize (if Devry didn't show up).

I can't say I've ever agreed with a majority of Oscar nominees/winners--so often the Academy honors the political choices (this year being a perfect example) over the actual best films. But yes, I will still be watching, and will still be making predictions as to who I think will win the awards. It will be interesting to see which movies win this year, although I expect that some friendly cowboys and bigmouthed celebrity activists will probably run away with the biggies. So on Sunday when George Clooney decries the war in Iraq and Heath Ledger talks about how stupid Mormons are, we can curse our TVs in the privacy of our own homes and laugh the following day when we find that this year's Oscar telecast was the least watched in recent history. Here's hoping at least...until then, we have one more year to brush up our skills before we're back in competition with Devry all over again.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Cowboys, elves, and dogs, oh my!

And on to the movies...I think that maybe it's time for a quick note about some movies Wendy and I checked out on DVD recently:

  • "Elizabethtown": I can't blame this "fiasco" on Orlando Bloom, since the handsome elf gave it his best (and made us forget, temporarily, that he's not American). Kirsten Dunst adopts a southern accent, and occasionally remembers to stick to it from one scene to the next. She plays a character who is so annoyingly bubbly and ambitious that she actually causes motion sickness in anyone who watches her. But the biggest blame belongs with director Cameron Crowe--so spot-on with his "Jerry Macquire"--who can't seem to decide on a focus for this comedy-drama-romance-roadtrip-family-tragedy-coming-of-age two-hour snoozer. (** out of four)
  • "Must Love Dogs"--Must not see. Bad jokes, bad acting, bad script, no chemistry between leads, and one of the most awkward and contrived car-chase scenes ever captured on film. (*1/2 out of four)
  • "Serenity"--Wendy and I actually enjoyed this sci-fi adventure, once we figured out that the characters were talking like cowboys for a reason. I know, it sounds strange--people on spaceships talking like cowboys. That said, it was also pretty clever, thrilling, and actually made us interested in the cancelled TV show that it is based on ("Firefly"). Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night, especially if you are not allergic to sci-fi. (*** out of four)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

For my first blog posting, I think it is appropriate to honor the television shows that have brought me so much joy over the past several months. These are the shows that are making me seriously consider an investment in Tivo, in no particular order (here come the bullets...):

  • "24"--What can I say about Jack Bauer, Chloe, Rudy Rutiger, and terrorists? That they give us an automatic FHE activity, and make our own jobs seem like a breeze. I'm not saying I wouldn't like to do a commando-roll from time to time, though...
  • "Lost"--Our most fascinating and frustrating addiction. And will they ever run out of deodorant? For everyone's sake I hope their next discovery is a boatload of Right Guard.
  • "The Office"--the best pseudo-documentary this side of Blaine, Missouri.
  • "The Amazing Race"--counting down the days until my next trip around the world.
  • "Gilmore Girls"--if anyone can find a more charming TV character than Lorelai Gilmore, I'd like to know about it. She's equally witty and silly, vulnerable and tough. And can anyone watch that annoying theme-song intro without giggling at the little dance she does?

Did I miss any Tivo-worthy shows?