The RunPee Family Chats Pre-Event on the 2019 Oscars

oscars statue for the awards ceremony
The big one: this year’s Oscar Awards Ceremony

Here’s a list of every Oscar movie nominee for 2019, and the RunPee Family‘s thoughts about who might and should win, and who we think will be snubbed this year. All links go to RunPee’s reviews if we have one, and the (post-Oscar) winners are listed in bold.

Best Picture

Black Panther: RunPee Mom  – Excellent Oscar-worthy movie. RunPee Jilly – I just want to see Black Panther win, because I’m a die hard geek and I don’t think anything has won Best Picture in my genres since The Return of the King. This winning would make me deeply happy.

BlacKkKlansman: Mom –  Haven’t seen this one, but I’ve read excellent reviews. I’m sure it’s Oscar-worthy. Jilly – I remember RunPee Dan really liking this one, but I haven’t seen it.

Bohemian Rhapsody: Mom – Nor have I seen this movie, but according to second-hand information, it’s also Oscar-worthy. Jilly – I know this is the big one, but I found it more sad than I was ready for. It’s not enjoyable to watch people be sad and suffer that much.

The Favourite: Mom –  It would make me happy for Queen Anne of Brittany if a movie made about her won an Oscar. Anne was one of the more colorful monarchs of the past, and should have her own movie.

Green Book:  Mom –  Nope, haven’t seen this one either, but this is my daughter’s number one pick and that’s good enough for me. I’ll see it soon. RunPee Sis – This is the best film ever and you feel really good after seeing it.

Roma: Mom –  Good grief, why oh why, was this nominated for Best movie and Best Foreign Film? One or the other Academy, not both.  Also, this isn’t really a movie I could even finish watching when I downloaded it last night.

A Star is Born: Mom – My favorite, my very, very favorite. This is why I want Roma taken out of the mix. If my movie doesn’t win, then I’m pretty sure my anger, along with millions of other fans, will cause a polar shift. Jilly – Like Bohemian Rhapsody, too sad for me. I prefer pulse-pounding excitement in a fantastical story. Why are Dramas always selected for Best Picture?

Vice: Mom – A great movie, but I question if it’s Oscar-worthy. Granted, Christian Bale did an outstanding job of capturing the essence of Dick Cheney, but I don’t think Dick’s essence made for an outstanding movie.

 

Best Actor in A Leading Role

Christian Bale: Mom –  It was no great stretch for Bale to play Dick Cheney. He doesn’t deserve an Oscar for simply looking like Dick Cheney. That award should go to the makeup department.

Bradley Cooper: Mom – My favorite. Brad went way out of his comfort zone to not only act and sing in this movie, but direct it as well. Jilly – Brad did a great job, but I don’t think it was better than other movies he’s acted in. I’d call his role here ‘regular good’, not “blow-my-mind good.”

Willem Dafoe: Mom – A multi-talented actor for sure, but he’s up against some stiff competition.

Rami Malek: Mom –  He just may walk away with the Oscar, and even though Bradley is my favorite, my money is on Rami for the win. Jilly – Rami became Freddie in my eyes. I think this is the clear winner.

Viggo Mortenson: Mom –  Again, the competition is stiff and I don’t see the Academy recognizing him with an Oscar. Jilly – Viggo has a reputation for becoming the role he’s tasked with.  Green Book really shows off his skills.

 

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Yalitza Aparicio: Mom –  Okay Academy, are you really going to award the Oscar to an actress with only one movie in her filmography, and snub seven-time nominee Glenn Close?

Glenn Close: Mom –  My favorite. This lovely lady has given us some of the best movies we’ve seen, and that’s validated by the fact that she’s been nominated seven times for an Oscar, but never taken one home. The time is now Academy, to right that wrong.

Olivia Colman: Mom –  A superior actress, but I don’t think the Academy will find her performance as great as her fans did.

Lady Gaga: Mom –  I think this amazing woman will take home the gold, and even though I’d like to see Glenn finally become a winner if only for sentimental reasons, Lady Gaga deserves every eight and a half pounds of the Best Actress award. Jilly – I think Gaga and her movie, along with Bohemian Rhapsody, will sweep the awards.  Regardless, the Lady did a truly fine job in her big role debut.

Melissa McCarthy: Mom – The Academy will snub Melissa; it’s just what they do. It doesn’t matter that this funny lady cranked out some great drama for the movie, the Academy will not award her gravitas. Jilly – I’d be shocked if Melissa won this.  She’s not be taken seriously as an actor before, and this film never went to wide release, so the support might not be there for ‘comic’ actor.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali: Mom – I think Ali will walk away a winner.

Adam Driver: Jilly – A promising young actor. He’s worth watching.

Sam Elliot: Mom – Probably won’t take home the gold, but it’s great the Academy gave him a small pat on the back. Jilly – This was a relatively small role in a big film, and his arc wasn’t very satisfying, so this nom surprised me.

Richard E. Grant:  We’ll add something if we think of it. 🙂  No thoughts yet (hereafter to be called NTY).

Sam Rockwell: Mom – Sam did the best job portraying George W Bush than any other actor in Hollywood, however his role was so small it would be hard to screw it up. On the other hand, where the hell is Steve Carell‘s nomination? Jilly – I agree with Mom: this should have gone to Steve Carell.

 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams: Mom – She played the wife of Dick Cheney; how hard could that be for an actress of her caliber?

Marina de Tavira: Mom – Most likely she’ll take home the gold.

Regina King: NTY

Emma Stone: Jilly – A versatile young actress who gets better every year.

Rachael Weisz: NTY

 

Best Animated Feature Film

Incredibles 2: Jilly – If Into the Spider-Verse hadn’t come out this year, Incredibles 2 would clearly take the win. It was as good, and in some ways better than the first Incredibles film, was funny, completely enjoyable, and a sure crowd-pleaser.  Pixar usually pulls out the win, but in this case I’m going with the Sony Spiderman nominee.

Isle of Dogs: Mom – I loved everything about this movie, but it won’t take home the gold. Jilly – I very much enjoyed this film, but I think it’s a little too quirky, and a bit unrelatable for the Academy. It’s a small film, compared to Incredibles 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet, and the best one: Into the Spider-Verse.

Mirai: Jilly – A small movie, and I’m not sure how this could compete with the others.

Ralph Breaks The Internet: Jilly – I very much enjoyed this film, and I hadn’t even seen the original. Like Incredibles 2, it’s a big crowd-pleaser that still won’t take the win from Into the Spider-Verse.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Mom – Even though my favorite is Isle of Dogs, the Spidey movie is the clear winner. Jilly – The hands-down Oscar win. This is nothing short of an amazing achievement in animated film. The look, the story, the voice acting, the plot, the EVERYTHING. I don’t have enough pluses to give to this A+ film.

Best Cinematography

Cold War:  Not seen.

The Favorite: NTY

Never Look Away:  Not seen.

Roma: NTY

A Star Is Born: Mom – With Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in the ‘photograph’, why are we even talking about this? Jilly – Most of the shooting was very straightforward, so I’m not sure why this was nominated.  It’s not a fantasy, it’s not a period piece, and most of the big scenes were two people on a stage. There were so many other interestingly filmed movies this year, so what gives?

Best Costume Design

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: Mom – This quirky little movie probably won’t take Oscar home, but it was great fun watching it anyway.

Black Panther: Mom – The obvious winner. Jilly – Now we’re talking.  This epic film created an entire futurist nation’s worth of fabulous garments and sparked an entire design movement. I don’t think a lot of films in the history of ever can boast this. (Read more: Dress like a Wakandan from Black Panther.)

The Favourite: Jilly – A period piece with many gorgeous dresses. The Academy likes this kind of thing.

Mary Poppins Returns: Jilly – The costumes were okay, as this is a period piece that seamlessly picks up a generation after the first Mary Poppins leaves off. It looked good. But the costumes weren’t exactly

Mary Queen of Scots: Mom – This is my favorite movie of the category, however, it can’t win against Black Panther. Jilly –  Another great-looking period piece; this is worth having on the list. But Black Panther should leave this category in the dust.

Best Director

BlacKkKansman: Mom – Spike Lee is the obvious choice here. The other five can stay home. Jilly – The Academy likes Spike Lee, and the movie’s a meaty one. This should be the winner.

Cold War:  Not seen.

The Favourite: NTY

Roma: NTY

Vice: NTY

Best Documentary

Free Solo: Jilly – I’m the rock climber in the family, so I should have seen this. However, we don’t tend to cover documentaries, so unfortunately I have no option on Free Solo. I’ve heard good things, though, and look forward to seeing movie snippits  at the Oscars.

Hale County This Morning, This Evening: Not seen.

Minding the Gap: Not seen.

Of Fathers and Sons: Not seen.

RBG: Mom – My choice. Jilly – Agreed.

Documentary (Short Subject)

Black Sheep: Not seen.

End Game: Not seen.

Lifeboat: Not seen. (Jilly – I’d like to see this one.)

A Night at The Garden: Not seen.

Period. End of Sentence: Not seen.

Film Editing

BlacKkKlansman: NTY

Bohemian Rhapsody: Mom –  My choice, this could not have been an easy film to edit.

The Favourite: NTY

Green Book: NTY

Vice: NTY

Foreign Language Film

Capernaum: Not seen (Jilly – we don’t see many foreign films.)

Cold War:  Not seen.

Never Look Away: Not seen.

Roma: Mom – Not my choice, but it’ll win anyway.

Shoplifters: Not seen.

Makeup and Hair Styling

Border: Not seen.

Mary Queen of Scots: Mom – Definitely the clear choice. Jilly – Of the three listed, this one is the shoe-in. Good period work.

Vice: Mom – Turning Christian Bale into Dick Cheney was nothing short of a miracle, but is it enough to take home the gold? Jilly – Yes, Christian was converted into an older, heavier man, but where is Black Panther for this category? One actor in heavy makeup shouldn’t take the gold, no matter how well acted it was. Have you SEEN the amazing hair and makeup in Black Panther?

Music (Original Score)

Black Panther: Mom – The obvious winner. Jilly – There should be no competition  with the fabulousness of this score. It paints a magical picture and carries the view along the story with finesse.

BlacKkKlansman: NTY

If Beale Street Could Talk: NTY

Isle of Dogs: Jilly – Honestly, I really enjoyed this film, but I cannot remember the score. It was a little bombastic, I think. Kind of out there? That kind of thing can be noticed by the academy, but I doubt it will win, compared to Black Panther.

Mary Poppins Returns: Jilly – like the costuming, the music fits on perfectly as a sequel to the original. It’s not my favorite choice, however.

Music (Original Song)

‘All The Stars’ from Black Panther: Jilly – I do enjoy this song, but I don’t think it’s good enough to win, and certainly not against Shallow. I wish this song was going to be playing live during the Oscars, like the others.

‘I’ll Fight’ from RBG:  Jilly – This will be playing during the night of the Oscars, like all the other nominated songs except for Black Panther.

‘The Place Where Lost Things Go’ from Mary Poppins Returns: Jilly – This is a sad and sweet lullaby, but nothing I find outstanding. If I had to pick a song from Mary Poppins Returns it would  be the “Light Fantastic” song with the Lamp Lighters, as a callback to the showstopping Chimney Sweep passage from the original Mary Poppins.

Shallow‘ from A Star Is Born: Mom – I can assure you that if this song doesn’t win, there will be blood. Jilly – The best part of A Star is Born  is this song. It should bring down the house when they perform it live at the Oscars, even though Brad Cooper will not perform it as himself and not his character.

‘When A Cowboy Trades his Spurs For Wings’ from The Ballad of Buster: Scruggs – NTY

Production Design

Black Panther: Mom – Why is anyone else nominated? Jilly – The win, I’m sure.

The Favourite: NTY

First Man: Jilly – Except for the brief moon scene, everything was just set on  1950s and 60s Earth. I see this movie has several noms, but it was so understated and underwhelming that I’m not sure why.

Mary Poppins Returns: Jilly – Nice, but not outstanding. It could have been a stage play for the production quality evident here. I don’t think a single scene looked like it was filmed on location.

Roma: NTY

Short Film (Animated)

Animal Behaviour: Not seen. Jilly – We don’t see a lot of shorts, since they don’t need Peetimes.  😉 

Bao: Jilly – This is the only one I watched, coming as it did before The Incredibles 2.  I found it creepy. I know it means a  lot to some cultures and it’s probably the only one most people have seen. It will probably win.

Late Afternoon: Not seen.

One Small Step: Not seen.

Weekends: Not seen.

Short Film (Live Action)

Detainment: Not seen. Jilly – We don’t see a lot of shorts, since they don’t need Peetimes.  😉 

Fauve: Not seen.

Marguerite: Not seen.

Mother: Not seen.

Skin: Not seen.

Sound Editing

Black Panther: NTY

Bohemian Rhapsody: Mom – A clear winner.

First Man: NTY.

A Quiet Place: Jilly – Although I love this movie, I was struck by the seeming irony of this movie about silence getting nominated for sound. Then I thought about it, and looked a few things about A Quiet Place up, and I’d like to see this take the win. It’s a great lesson in less being more and I can’t wait to see the clips for this during the Oscars.

Roma: NTY.

Sound Mixing

Black Panther: Jilly – If Black Panther doesn’t get the bigger awards, like Best Picture, then I expect it to sweep the smaller Oscars like this one.

Bohemian Rhapsody: Jilly – Great as the Queen songs are in Bohemian Rhapsody, I’m not sure this film has significant sound mixing effects.

First Man:  Jilly – Besides playing period-appropriate golden oldies tunes, I don’t remember much sound in First Man. I suppose the mixing from the experimental jets and rockets is what they have in mind for amazing award-worthy sounds. We will see during the Oscar night clips.

Roma: NTY

A Star Is Born: Mom – My favorite and it better win.

Visual Effects

Avengers: Infinity War: Mom – Oh for god’s (no pun intended) sake, how can you even put more than one film in this category. Jilly – WIN WIN WIN, in my book. I don’t think it gets any better than this.

Christopher Robin: Jilly – Christopher Robin was lovely, but I don’t expect it to win.

First Man: Jilly – I only thought the few moments on the moon looked interesting, but it wasn’t all that and a bag of chips.

Ready Player One: Jilly – This was certainly a visual feast, but the movie underwhelmed and really has no chance to win this.

Solo: A Star Wars Story: Jilly – I enjoyed Solo a lot, and it looked as good as a Star Wars film can but it can’t win against the well-deserved Avengers: Infinity War.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: NTY

BlacKkKlansman: Mom – Brilliant writing; should take home the gold.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Not seen.

If Beale Street Could Talk: NTY

A Star Is Born: Mom – An incredible story, but not an entirely new story.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

The Favorite: NTY

First Reformed: Not seen.

Green Book: NTY

Roma: Mom – Of course it’ll win.

Vice: Mom – There were some really great lines in this movie, but not enough to skate past Roma.

Black Panther – Does Killmonger Have a Point?

black panther and king T'Challa
If you can help, are you morally obligated to do so?  What is better: peaceful existence with a whiff of moral cowardice, or committing purposeful acts of brutality, to achieve real cultural equality?

[Spoilers ahead for everything Black Panther but not Infinity War]

For Black Panther Week, and before the 2019 Oscars, I’d like to give this gorgeous and exciting film a shoutout. Black Panther is up for no less than SEVEN Academy Awards, so beyond being yet another fantastic Marvel Universe superhero film, the tone struck a cord with audiences everywhere. And the more you dig into the narrative, the more story layers are revealed.

From the website Shadow and Act comes this thoughtful and possibly inflammatory piece (depending on your point of view). Do you believe the ends justifies the means? Can we ethically pursue freedom while co-signing on acts of inhumanity, in order to arrive at a more enlightened state?

Here’s the aforementioned article, which goes into some detail on Killmonger’s anti-heroic, yet not entirely misguided journey:

If you don’t agree with anything here, that’s fine too.  But it’s clear within Black Panther that some of our ostensible heroes are either committing their own foul acts (at worst), or turning a blind eye to them (at best).

(Remember, spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Black Panther, but you are safe if you haven’t seen Avengers: Infinity War.)

Who’s Right? Who’s Wrong?

It’s really only T’Challa’s (Chadwick Boseman) spy girlfriend Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o )who takes a strong stance on this issue. The entire royal family is otherwise quite comfortable in their position of prestige and luxury in the hidden Utopia of Wakanda.

I would say T’Chaka  — the kingly father of T’Challa — in his seemingly casual decision to abandon young Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) to the streets of Los Angeles, and by extension, the rest of the children lost from the diaspora, is cowardly and wrong-thinking (especially after killing his brother/Erik’s father!). But even the most noble kings have flaws. The movie takes great pains to point this out. Killmonger is beyond awful in his methods, yet is full of righteous rage, worthy of consideration.

In the above linked article, this line seems to stand out: “Swirling in constant reminders of worthlessness, of the specific anti-Black-American toxicity experienced by Black folk in the U.S.A., Killmonger is angry—not just at white supremacist oppressors or systemic racism, but also the Black Elite who left him behind. And he has every right to want vengeance.”

It’s a little risky to place your eponymous superhero in a morally questionable stance, but the movie and T’Challa himself (eventually) rise to the challenge. After the events of Avengers: Infinity War, we are forced to see how this might play out between Wakanda and the outside world.

All the Stars song and end credit image from black panther
What is the true role of a leader? Are you responsible for a nation, a race, a world, or even (within the MCU) the galaxy?

What Can We Take Away From Killmonger and His End Goal for Wakanda?

I asked our RunPeep Shani Ogilve  (see her previous post on A Black Perspective On Black Panther) for a few words about the Forgotten Children of Wakanda, and how sympathetically we can view Killmonger, his mission, and the central lesson of the Black Panther film:

Ogilve writes: “This is a great piece. To start, #TeamKilmonger with a caveat — there is no other team to be on. Killmonger can be compared to other figures in fiction and history — Malcolm X and Magneto come to mind. Though their methods also are extreme, they are justified. I usually go for the MLK and Professor X route, but in Black Panther’s case T’Challa wasn’t even any type of activist. Maybe Killmonger was the martyr for the diaspora. His hurt brought enlightenment to T’Challa, to hopefully step up and make meaningful changes to other black communities.

“I also would say that the blame doesn’t fall on Wakanda or T’Challa completely. Though Wakandans aren’t completely ignorant of how Black people outside of Wakanda are living, they aren’t all-knowing of the Black experience in America or elsewhere. That is honestly an experience that you must experience yourself to actually understand.

“Additionally, it’s not fair to say that because they are doing better than other Black communities, they should be the ones to help them. I don’t hate Wakanda for not helping, because I don’t actually believe that anything they do will make an impact big enough to change systematic injustices. I believe the only way to fix the injustice in our society — and hopefully prevent future Killmongers —  is for the colonizing bodies of the world to do what they must, to reverse the effects of colonization and slavery. By any means necessary.”

Things Black Panther Still Makes Us Think About

Who is really a true villain in the MCU, and who is better termed an ‘anti-villain’? Would you say you understand and sympathize with Killmonger in some way, or his stance? Are all methods fair — even through deliberate murder, casual brutality, and the possibility of inciting a world war — in the name of the greater good?

And on the other hand, as with T’Challa’s choice, if you CAN help others, are you morally obliged to do so? These aren’t easy questions. Feel free to sound off in the comments below. I won’t rip your heads off for your opinion. 🙂

#BlackPantherWeek #WakandaForever #IHaveADream

More RunPee Posts About Black Panther:

A Black Perspective on Marvel’s Black Panther

All The Stars – End Credits Song from Black Panther – Video and Lyrics

Movie Review – Black Panther – One Incredible Party

The 5 Movies You Need To Watch Before Infinity War

How to Dress Like You’re From Wakanda in Black Panther

New Black Panther Trailer is Fantastic – Watch the Video Show Off Wakanda

RunPee and the 2019 Oscars – Predictions for the 2018 Movie Awards

oscars statue for the awards ceremony
The big one: this year’s Oscar Awards Ceremony

The 2019 Oscar nominees will be announced on Tuesday, January 22.  It has been a wild awards season full of uncertainty, surprises, upsets, and scandal.  The nominations from the 2018 movies may bring their own share of upsets and surprises. Here are my predictions for what Tuesday morning will bring. (NOTE: All links go to RunPee’s movie reviews. If there is no link, we didn’t review it.)

Best Picture  – Under the current rules, there can be up to ten Best Picture nominees.  I’m predicting nine for this year. These are my choices in no particular order.  

  1. Black Panther

Black Panther has been preordained as a Best Picture nominee since it came out last year.  Like Straight Outta Compton was, this is one of the most successful movies of the year, both financially and critically.  If it does not get nominated, the Academy needs to take a long, hard look at itself. After Straight Outta Compton‘s snub, the Academy has done a lot of work to increase the diversity of its membership.  This is an exciting year, because there may be multiple films by people of color eligible for a Best Picture nomination including BlacKkKlansman, Crazy Rich Asians, If Beale Street Could Talk, and my beloved dark horses The Hate U Give and Sorry to Bother You (go watch them!). 

 

  1. A Star Is Born

The belle of the ball.  The early front runner.  As RuPaul might say, “You are safe.  Step to the back of the stage.”  Everyone knows this one is getting nominated.  It doesn’t make it any less of an achievement for Bradley Cooper, who struck gold with his directorial debut. 

 

  1. Green Book

This is the crowd pleaser.  From the first screenings at film festivals, audiences have been in love with this comedy about reconciliation, based on a true story.  There’s no way this doesn’t get nominated.

 

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody

Whatever plays for 2-3 weeks at Thanksgiving at the local arthouse ALWAYS goes to the Oscars.  This year, it was Bohemian Rhapsody and Boy Erased.  If it weren’t for Mary Poppins opening, they would have played Bohemian Rhapsody for an extra month probably.  A Golden Globes win for Best Picture has guaranteed this nomination. 

 

  1. Boy Erased

See above.  Strong performances by Lucas Hedges and Nicole Kidman make this one of the most powerful films of the year. 

 

  1. Vice

With a Best Actor and Best Director nomination likely, a Best Picture nomination is a lock for this Dick Cheney biopic.

 

  1. The Favourite

Living up to its title, this has been a critical and Hollywood favorite, racking up praise, awards, and nominations.  It truly is a “favorite.”  While I personally am not a fan, I’d be surprised if it doesn’t make the list. 

 

  1. BlacKkKlansman

Spike Lee’s masterpiece is one of the few summer films that’s so undeniable Oscar still remembers it, come winter.  The epilogue is a punch in the gut I can still feel. 

 

  1. A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place is this year’s Get Out.  It’s not a socially conscious satire.  However, A Quiet Place is the most talked about (and least talked during) horror movie of the year.  Sorry, Hereditary.  It did well at the box office, and it’s been shortlisted for at least one Oscar: Best Original Score. 

 

If there is a rare tenth slot this year, it goes to Crazy Rich Asians.  It is the first major film to feature an Asian-American cast since The Joy Luck Club twenty-five years ago.  That’s something worth celebrating.   

 

Sadly, this leaves First Man, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and If Beale Street Could Talk on the sidelines.  

 

Best Actress

Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

Glenn Close, The Wife

Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots

 

Everyone has been whispering about an Oscar for Lady Gaga since A Star Is Born came out.  Glenn Close was a personal favorite before she won the Golden Globe. Just saying.  The Wife is a career highlight.  Melissa McCarthy showed the range of what she can do, from comedy to drama, in Can You Ever Forgive Me?  Olivia Colman will ride the praise for The Favourite to a nomination.  Mary Queen of Scots has been playing for over a month at the arthouse.  I’m going to go out on a limb, and say that audiences know something the odds makers don’t.  Maybe I’m blinded by my admiration for her, but I predict Saoirse Ronan is going to pull an upset and fill the fifth slot.  It’s not like she’s a stranger to the red carpet. 

 

Best Actor

Christian Bale, Vice

Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased

Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

 

Bale and Malek embody the men they are playing to a degree you forget you aren’t watching the real thing.  It would be a major upset if Bradley Cooper does not get a nomination for A Star is Born.  Lucas Hedges followed up Manchester By the Sea with another heartbreaking performance.  Viggo Mortensen makes it here by good will.  I like Green Book.  I liked Ryan Gosling in First Man, and Jonathan Pryce in The Wife better. 

 

Best Supporting Actress

Nicole Kidman , Boy Erased

Emma Stone, The Favourite

Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Amy Adams, Vice

 

Kidman excels at sentimental mother roles.  And she has at least one great scene in Boy Erased.  Stone and Weisz have been seen as competitors in this race, much like they were on-screen.  For all the pairs that publicists hoped would get nominated together this year (Ali and Mortensen for Green Book, Carell and Chalamet for Beautiful Boy), these two are the surest thing this side of A Star is Born. Regina King is a character actress that is loved by her peers.  She won the Golden Globe.  She may well win the Oscar.  Amy Adams has one of the best scenes of the year early on in Vice.  She’s also an Oscar favorite with several nominations. 

 

Best Supporting Actor

Sam Elliott, A Star is Born

Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Timothy Chalamet, Beautiful Boy

Steve Carell, Vice

 

Despite being snubbed by the Globes, I’m confident Sam Elliott is going to get a nomination.  (Isn’t it time?)  Ali’s nomination is similarly a foregone conclusion.  Grant is a respected British character actor with a decent amount of buzz behind his performance.  Chalamet gave a powerful portrayal of drug addiction and recovery.  I’m going to throw a monkey wrench into the works by predicting it will be Steve Carell rather than Sam Rockwell who gets nominated for the movie Vice.  Rockwell’s portrayal of George W. Bush is featured in the trailer and has garnered more attention.  But it’s Carell as Donald Rumsfeld who really steals the movie.  This makes the race a bit awkward by pitting Carell against his Beautiful Boy co-star Chalamet.  I’m still holding out hope though that the Academy will surprise me though, and fill one of these slots (not Sam’s!) with Russell Hornsby from The Hate U Give or Josh Hamilton from Eighth Grade (Best. Dads. Ever.).

 

Best Director

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman

Peter Farrelly, Green Book

Adam McKay, Vice

 

Bradley Cooper nailed it with his first feature.  Not only did he make an entertaining film, he made a love story that feels authentic.  Alfonso Cuaron dug into his childhood memories to bring to life a similarly authentic story.  Spike Lee made a humorous, suspenseful, moving meditation about race in America.  Peter Farrelly took us on a road trip that changed the lives of two men.  Adam McKay made a brave film about politics and power.  There are no real surprises in my choices.  This is the same lineup as the Globes and the Directors Guild nominations.  If I had my druthers, Bo Burnham (Eighth Grade) or Damien Chazelle (First Man) would take Peter Farrelly’s slot. 

 

Best Original Song

Shallow,” A Star is Born

“A Place Called Slaughter Race,” Ralph Breaks the Internet

“Trip a Little Light Fantastic,” Mary Poppins Returns

“The Place Where Lost Things Go,” Mary Poppins Returns

“All the Stars,” Black Panther

 

Shallow” is a lock.  Of course, A Star Is Born is going to get a Best Song nomination.  If Ralph Breaks the Internet‘s side-splittingly funny, “A Place Called Slaughter Race” doesn’t get nominated, there is no justice.  It’s a send up of the classic Disney princess “I Want” song (“Part of Your World”, etc.) And I’m dying for a Randy Newman cover version.  Who do you think they’ll get to sing it at the Oscars? 

It’s not unusual for Disney to have more than one song nominated from the same film (The Lion King had three).  So I think both shortlisted Mary Poppins songs could make it through, though “Light Fantastic” is the ear worm.  I’m giving the final slot to “All the Stars” though it could go to “Girl in the Movies” by Dolly Parton from Dumplin’.  She has been nominated twice before.

 

Best Original Screenplay

Green Book, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly

Vice, Adam McKay

Eighth Grade, Bo Burnham

First Reformed, Paul Schrader

A Quiet Place, Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and John Krasinski

 

Green Book: how do you not nominate the crowd-pleaser?  For Vice, McKay not only had to do exhaustive research, he employs several unique narrative devices.  Bo Burnham managed to capture not only the awkwardness of middle school, but to tell it from the point of view of a teenage girl.  Paul Schrader wrote one of the two best movies about faith this year.  (Disobedience was the other one.  Watch them both.)  A Quiet Place was one of the most unique theatrical experiences of the year.  The first sequence is its own horror short film that should be used to teach would-be screenwriters how to tell a story visually. 

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins

Can You Ever Forgive Me?,  Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty

Black Panther, Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole

A Star Is Born, Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters

BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott

 

Barry Jenkins didn’t just tell a story.  He found ways to add power to James Baldwin’s words through imagery.  Can You Ever Forgive Me? found the humanity in two hard to love people. 

Out of the comic books (Black Panther) came one of the most empowering films of all time.  The fourth version of A Star Is Born made us fall in love again.  BlacKkKlansman delivered a necessary message through an entertaining story. 

 

Best Animated Film

Incredibles 2

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Mirai

Isle of Dogs

 

This is the same lineup as the Globes, but these are simply the five best animated films that came out this year.  If I could find anything artier or weirder to put in Mirai‘s spot, I would have, because Oscar would too.  (See My Life As a Zuchini.)

 

Incredibles 2 was the sequel that goes bigger than the original.  It was huge summer fun and everything I love about Pixar.  Ralph Breaks the Internet was…a little less fun but still had lots of laughs and lots of heart and the ultimate song (see above).  Spider-Man was an unexpected roller-coaster ride full of surprises.  I’m pulling for it to win.  Mirai was a sweet anime about family and heritage.  Isle of Dogs was Wes Anderson’s tale of a boy in search of his dog, in a world where dogs have been banned. 

 

I’m predicting Mirai in the fifth slot but the Academy could go more commercial and choose Teen Titans Go to the Movies, Hotel Transylvania 3 (such a let-down after 2!), Sherlock Gnomes, or Smallfoot instead. 


 

Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick—amazing rom com!) and Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) will announce the nominees live on Tuesday, January 22 at 8:20 am ET/5:20 am PT.  

You can live stream it at Oscar.com or watch the Oscars live on TV Sunday, Feb 24th. Check my predictions then, and find out if I was way off base or right on the money!  Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments below. Check back here for more awards coverage! And don’t forget to use the Run Pee app for those lengthy, bladder-busting awards bait movies.  

Highlights, Comments, and Acceptance Videos for the 76th Annual Golden Globes

Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody

Movie Review – Black Panther – One Incredible Party

Movie Review – A Star Is Born

Movie Review – BlacKkKlansman

Ring in the New Year With Harry and Sally

when harry met sally is a perfect news years even film
Harry, meeting Sally again, just in time. Darn it, there’s something in my eye. 😉

I know there’s more than one movie associated with New Year’s Eve than When Harry Met Sally, but at the moment I can’t think of anything better. And on a re-watch, it still stands up beautifully through time. Ever meet someone you can’t stand at one point in your life, but grow on you through time? That’s kind of the lovely premise at work between Harry and Sally.

It happens with movies too. All the time, especially in the business of RunPee (we’ve seen around 1500 movies over the last ten years): I’ll see something I wasn’t impressed with, then it will come around my radar later, and I’ll be surprised at how good that film really is. Sometimes it’s something nuts, like Monty Python’s Holy Grail (once I memorized the lines, things took on a whole new world of fun), or something with action or sci-fi (like Pacific Rim or Independence Day). [pullquote]Sometimes I’m too young to appreciate a great movie, like I finally noticed on this year’s rewatch of Jaws and Rocky. If you haven’t seen those in a while, give them another watch.[/pullquote] There are moments in each that are pure gold, never completely replicated since.

But it’s New Year’s Eve, so back to Harry & Sally. They took most of a lifetime to become ready for each other.  Their enmity was almost instant as they left college to begin their adult lives. [pullquote position=”right”]They kept bumping into each other, with a visceral reaction every time. That should have told them something right there. Even bad chemistry is chemistry.[/pullquote] Eventually they worked it into friendship, then screwed that up because the timing with people is rarely right, and finally we’ve got the scene at the very end with Harry tearing across New York City to be there for his obvious life partner before the clock hits midnight.

I always tear up a bit at the end. Those crazy kids. I love the bookend ‘interviews’ with the couples. It’s a sweet little film.

If you’re not heading out on the town to drink and dance (and hopefully not drive), consider sticking When Harry Met Sally back in the DVD player.

We’re running a poll on Best New Year’s Eve movies on Twitter right now. Get your vote in this week, or wait to see how the results turn out. And to you and your family, have a safe and joyous New Year! Auld Lang Syne — whatever that means. Sally tells us it’s something about old friends. Awwwww.

Movie Rewatch — Jaws

A Novice Rocky Review

Best Non-Christmas Christmas Movies

Best Non-Christmas Christmas Movies

Gremlins is a genuine Christmas movie.
Never let your Mogwai wear a Christmas hat. No good can come of this.

What is a non-Christmas Christmas movie, you ask? I’m happy to explain. It’s a story that takes place over the holiday season, but isn’t a Christmas film. The plot isn’t about Santa, reindeer, snowmen, elves, Scroogey Grinches, or magical stockings. Christmas might help the plot along, but these movies stake their tent in the camp of another genre. Savvy? We begin.

Note: most of these movies are DECADES old. So there might be a few spoilers. We’re going to assume you’ve seen most of these. Consider this a Christmas warning, just in case.

Die Hard: This  is the main one, the real biggie of non-Christmas Christmas films. Ask around about people’s favorite Christmas movies and someone will happily shout DIE HARD!

I’m one of those people.[pullquote] This is  in the best feel-good holiday tradition that just happens to have a high body count.[/pullquote] Bruce Willis was on top of his game, as the only man to stop the Grinch — I mean Gruber — from stealing Christmas. It’s such a successful outing that even Die Hard 2 is set over Christmas (this time it’s “Die Hard in an airport”).

Here are two good scenes in the holiday spirit:

Remember kids, it’s not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls off the Nakatomi building.

Lethal Weapon: This movie is just as great as Die Hard, and just as Christmasy. It slips into the number two spot only because Die Hard is a bit more iconic. Bruce Willis is more fun than Mel Gibson, and Alan Rickman (RIP) can do anything. ANYTHING. He’s Snape, ya’ll. Okay, now I’m sad.

[pullquote position=”right”]Lethal Weapon is the start of a run of  Shane Black films that take place over the Christmas holiday season. It’s not a coincidence.[/pullquote] He’s even quoted on it, saying, “Christmas represents a little stutter in the march of days, a hush in which we have a chance to assess and retrospect our lives. I tend to think also that it just informs as a backdrop.”

Here’s the heartwarming holiday end scene:

Iron Man 3: I have trouble remembering which plot is which between Iron Man 2 and 3. The second is the one with Mickey Rourke and the magical whips and the fake Mandarin. The third…um: it has a little boy he befriends (way before he mentors Peter Parker. Sniff), and the many, many Iron Man Mark suits flying around a high-rise construction zone. (I should turn in my geek card, or at least see this again.) Also Tony Stark suffers from PTSD. How much more Christmasy can this be?

I’m going to let this video tell us why Iron Man 3 is a Christmas movie:

Oh, and it’s a Shane Black film.

The Long Kiss Goodnight: The actual plot: a woman who has rebuilt her life after getting amnesia begins to recover her memories, when trouble from her past finds her again. It takes place over Christmas. There’s a Christmas party, Christmas parade, etc. And yes, this too is a Shane Black film.

Kiss Kiss Bang  Bang: Oh, hello there Shane Black. Nice of you to drop in again. Obsessed much? 🙂

Read why Kiss, Kiss is a Christmas Movie.

Gremlins: Man, is this ever a strange film. I don’t even know how to describe it, except to firmly and authoritatively tell you to NOT feed  your Mogwai after midnight, and never give him water. This movie also taught me what happens when you put an animal in the microwave. It’s set in someone’s nice suburban home, decked out for the holidays. [pullquote]This is kind of a feel-good, feel-weird film.[/pullquote]

These Gremlins know how to party on Christmas Eve:

Trading Places: I just saw this. Like, last night. I can’t believe I missed it the first time — it’s corny but excellent, and I laughed a whole lot. I mean, really? The plot of rich people betting on who’s a criminal and who’s a business man?You have to sit back and let the laughs roll in. And speaking of which, this all happens over a few weeks over the Christmas season. The biggest laughs come from Dan Aykroyd, posing as the filthiest, creepiest Santa imaginable, stealing food at a Christmas gala. He hides a whole salmon under his dingy gray beard. It doesn’t get better than this.

I love this whole segment:

Mean Girls: This one requires a bit of fudging, since it takes place over the course of a whole school year. But the Christmas segment is fun and memorable: the Plastics don sexy Santa dresses and sing Jingle Bell Rock. It’s so fetch. You know, I’m going to just give you a link so you can watch it:

There you have it. I know there’s a lot more, like Edward Scissorhands and possibly Batman Returns. Let me know your favorite and what I missed in the comments below. Do you think these qualify as Christmas movies?

I’ll be cuddling onto the couch watching Die Hard and Lethal Weapon for my Christmas Eve double feature. It’s all about tradition. 😉

Want to know the favorite Christmas Movies of the members of the RunPee Family? Read about it here, and Happy Holidays from ours to yours. <3

A Merry Movie Christmas – The RunPee Family’s Favorite Holiday Films

The Weirdest Moments in Classic Christmas Specials

The Deadpool Before Christmas

 

 

The Weirdest Moments in Classic Christmas Specials

abominable snowman on the year without a santa claus
Turns out he’s not a bad guy. But still kind of strange.

Old Christmas TV specials can be downright bizarre. I grew up watching the animated cartoons like  Frosty the Snowman and The Grinch, and eagerly lapped up the clay stop-motions like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, and The Year Without a Santa Claus. Joyous holiday fun, right?

Yes. And no. They’re enjoyable shorts, but as an adult I’m noticing really strange beats, weirdo songs, and odd, almost off-putting characters. Some of these things resonate through the years: we’ve learned to use the term Reindeer Games to signify human pack behavior that’s intended to be more clique-ish than inclusive. And among those experiencing “outsider status” alienation, the concept of The Island of Misfit Toys really hits home.

Here are some of the best wacked-out characters and songs from decades ago that we still love, probably because of their strangeness.

The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974):

Remember the Heat Miser? There’s also a Snow Miser, but nobody remembers him. The Snow guy seems too nice, but the “Heat Blister” is the king of strange. If you’ve ever seen this, the lyrics come flooding back. (He’s too much…da da da duh…)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966):

I can’t go any further without mentioning the beloved song, You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch. What great about this song is there are so many additional lyrics as the song reprises over the course of 26 minutes of cartoon runtime. It’s really creative and each set gets wilder and weirder. I love this. Between The Grinch and the Heat Miser, it’s like grumpy geek nirvana.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964):

This is the cutest one in the holiday lineup, with a whole lot of adorableness and a great message about tolerance, compassion for others who don’t fit the societal role, and the kind of understanding that leads (if we’re really lucky) to friendship. Everyone in this special is damaged goods in some way, even Santa himself, who has to stuff himself unhealthily to fit the “image” of a fat old man. But the real strangeness award has to go to the Abominable Snowman, who’s only cranky because his teeth hurt. Enter the elf who wants to be a — gasp! —  dentist. It all comes around, and Rudolph’s deformity saves Christmas. I hope the other reindeer invite him to play their games and he tells them off. Although, I guess, that’s defeating the spirit of the message.

The Island of Misfit Toys also qualifies as weird. There’s a birdfish, a crying dolly, a Charlie in the Box, a train with square wheels…all toys probably made by elves on crack. The toys believe no child would ever want them. In reality — our reality — there are kids who’d love them instead of getting the boring same-old toys: these are unique. And remember, even in this day there are children who’s families can’t afford any gifts. They would CHERISH these toys.

Those who are different don’t have to be outcasts, or think of themselves as broken. Apparently Santa doesn’t even bother to save the toys in the original, as LifeNews reports in an excellent article (well worth a read — angry letters from children saved the day).

And that’s all I’m going to say as I put my soapbox away. Here’s the brightly, sprightly song the lonely toys sing, at strange odds with their predicament — they truly have no hope for themselves. It’s remarkably subversive, and I love it:

In sum, I’d posit that strange is memorable and fun, sticking to the nooks and crannies of the brain moreso than taking more expected  route. Look at the new (1918) Grinch movie. It’ a marvel of animation, but boring. Really, really boring.

Have I missed something noteworthy and odd from your favorite holiday specials? Do you prefer the Grinch song or the Heat Miser? Please add your comments below!

In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

Movie Review – The Grinch (2018)

 

 

 

Dune – What is the Litany Against Fear (and why should we care)?

dune and the litany against fear
I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer.

Can an old science fiction book from the 60s offer modern man any surfeit from pain? Do we allow fears — both great and small — to rule our lives? Can  we train ourselves to be greater than our anxieties?

I’d say yes, although I’ve yet to achieve this enlightened state myself. But, there’s this: courage is NOT being unafraid. Get that out of your mind now. [pullquote]Courage is about being afraid and going forth anyway.[/pullquote] If we can gain mastery of our fears, we can live our lives more aware, more gracefully, and accomplish great things perhaps against great odds. People through history have done it. [pullquote position=”right”]Wisdom from not so long ago in our literary past can absolutely help us today. [/pullquote]And while Dune’s author Frank Herbert might have had a lesson in mind more about planetary politics or the future of humanity than the test of one young human, the Litany he penned resonates now, as it did then, and will continue to touch people newly discovering this great tome of a book. (And yes, there have been several attempts to turn this into film…we’re still waiting for the one to do it right.)

Here is the Litany Against Fear, directly from the (1965) Dune novel, by Frank Herbert:

“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Is this the kind of thing anyone should care about? Or use? And why would we?

Well, has fear gone away since 1965? I’d even posit we’ve found more things to be afraid of with the ease we now devour world news and calamitous global misery.

In my college years, the Litany was something I’d scrawled on a Post-it and pasted to my mirror.  I made a best friend after those days, in my old town of Flagstaff, AZ, who I learned kept a copy of the Litany on a note in his wallet. I’d ended up more impressed with him than before: you can have a lot of fun with someone, but also find unplumbed depths together in the strangest moments.

When I got married later on, I found someone who may not have kept the Litany on his person, but for whom the book Dune is his favorite science-fiction touchstone of all time. [pullquote position=”right”]The Spice must flow, after all.  :-)[/pullquote]

I might have forgotten the Litany’s usefulness as the years slipped by, but in my current re-read it’s come to my attention again. It was a pleasant shock to have it re-spool into my neurons; now it’s written on a note in my own wallet, like my friend kept his, long ago.

My paperback copy of Dune was re-published in 1971 and is tattered and torn, with a broken spine. I don’t care — it smells like a real book, and it’s a great reading copy, with the early cover artwork. I want to put it in an archival bag, and probably will when my re-read is done. I’ve also got copies of Dune Messiah and Children of Dune that are older than me. At age 50, finding a 53 year-old novel at a garage sale or thrift store is like finding something precious and rare.

Dune keeps me doing regular re-reads over the decades, and I find something new and exciting every time, stuff I scrawl in my journal and try to remember when times get tough. I’m not really a fearful person (I love things like rock climbing and solo backpacking), but stupid small anxieties master me every day. [pullquote]The Litany is a good balm for the soul, a salve to one’s agitation, and simply a soothing chant to memorize for times of emotional turmoil.[/pullquote]

Has Dune affected you? Do you think you can learn from the Litany Against Fear?  Add your insights to the comments below. I won’t judge. We’re all in this together.

Can Dune be done? Should Dune be done? Bringing Long Books to the Screen

Yes, it’s about Dune – The Lyrics to Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice

In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

To start with, the Grinch doesn’t seem all that bad. He doesn’t like a lot of dissonant noise. That’s hardly a crime. I don’t know why he seems to hate Roast Beast, but maybe he’s on a diet. And he’s never directly mean to anyone. Look how sweet he was to Cindy Lou Who. He gave her a cup of water and patted her head and practically tucked the tot into bed.

He’s also a pet owner.  He owns a dog! This is a creature he feeds and looks out for, and probably gives him company while he schemes in his lonely cave. Honestly, I think this guy has probably a big history with rejection.

I didn’t like him whipping Max all the way up to the top of Mount Crumpet, but this was in the 60s, and people might have been less sensitive about this kind of thing then.

I also noticed he’s quite domestic. He sewed up a nice red Santa coat with a treadle sewing machine, and hand stitched white cotton onto his hat.

His stealing techniques were masterly creative. He used a cane like a pool cue on the Christmas balls, walked the wind-up toys into his sack, and drove the choo choo train off its rails. He was having a lot of fun. He’s probably be a hoot to hang around with a few beers in him.

And he comes through in the end. He hears the Whos singing,  realizes that one’s thoughts determine their reality, and saves the day he worked so hard to steal. He goes from loser to hero over the course of one life-affirming moment, and best of all: the Whos accept him to their hearts and their table without fuss or complaint. In this moment, everyone who’s been damaged by rejection can also heal, even a tiny bit, and feel hope again.

Not bad for 1966 children’s cartoon special.

Fact or Fiction – First Man and Neil Armstrong

Hi. My name is Neil Armstrong, and that’s all you’re going to know about me.

First Man is a surprising film. It’s surprisingly devoid of excitement, I mean. Instead of a rousing tale of man’s journey to the moon, it focuses narrowly on life through the eyes of the taciturn and insular Neil Armstrong.

He’s a strange choice to be awarded the honor of the first person to set foot on another world. Buzz Aldrin was right behind him, but I guess being the second  man lacks cache. Even in Apollo 13, Jim Lovell and crew joke around, saying, “Armstrong? Really?”

Laying aside the fact that this man is very personal, I’d have thought he would have gone home and met with colleges, children, UN Summits, or otherwise directed his limelight to the service of NASA’s educational promotion. Nope. Not his gig.

This is a man that after an entire bladder-busting 2 & 1/2 hour movie, remains a cipher to the audience. Clearly, the had the Right Stuff to be a test pilot and astronaut, but had the personality of a Stoic.  And, well, the movie reflects this. Who was Armstrong? Did he even care about his wife…or the moon, even? All I can tell is he deeply loved his daughter, who sadly died as a toddler from brain cancer.

First Man spoilers ahead!

If you’ve seen the film, you’re probably wondering about Karen’s baby bracelet. Did he leave it on the moon? Is it still there, a testament to loving and grieving and family? It’s been a topic of some speculation. [pullquote]It’s known Armstrong deviated a bit from his walk plan, and stood over the Little West Crater for a few minutes. [/pullquote]The movie chooses to show him definitively tossing the precious bracelet into the crater. If he did this, I hope he was able to excoriate some of his demons and find a measure of personal peace. Because, well, walking on the FREAKING moon seemed, to him, a casual matter. Compare his still introspection on the Sea of Tranquility, versus Aldrin hopping joyfully along the surface. Sometimes I think singularly amazing moments are wasted on some people.  I don’t dislike Armstrong, but have to still wonder, like Lovell and crew:  WHY HIM?

So. Does First Man hew closely to what we do know of Armstrong’s life and vision? This excellent article from History Vs Hollywood covers the issue in a very readable fashion — no need for me to repeat it here.

[pullquote position=”right”]Suffice to say the director kept the biography as rigorously accurate as possible. We can feel the authenticity and sincerity bursting through the film. [/pullquote]The science was spot on, but the characterizations of the astronauts were a bit one-sided (ie — how Armstrong saw them), making for a possibly unreliable narrator. For example, Aldrin comes across as a somewhat offensive jerk in the film. Was he really? I imagine these things are in the eye of the beholder.

But back to the bracelet commentary — James Hanson, author of Armstrong’s autobiography First Man, reports that after many hours of personally interviewing him, he’s sure Armstrong left something behind.  He never said what, or admitted to it, but it’s known he did report his personal manifest list as missing to NASA. Then, he later donated his manifest to Purdue University, so it wasn’t so missing after all. There’s a lineage for astronauts leaving things behind. According to this article:

“For instance, Charlie Duke, who in 1972 became the tenth person to walk on the moon, left a photo of his family there, according to Singer. Buzz Aldrin brought a pouch that belonged to the Apollo 1 astronauts as a memorial to them.”

Armstrong’s manifest will be sealed until 2020, so we don’t have too long to know if Karen’s bracelet was on the list. [pullquote]His family hopes and believes he did leave that memento behind. We’ll see. It seems like a logical choice to me. But it did make for a nice bookmark to the movie, either way.[/pullquote]

Last thoughts for First Man: It doesn’t feel like a prequel to the (IMO) far superior Apollo 13 at all: keep in mind it’s NOT an adventure film. There are exciting moments for sure, but most of the runtime is silent and clouded with grief. I did enjoy the space scenes, what we got of them. But we also had to endure a lot of sorrow, silence, and unpleasantness between the space action. That might have highlighted the power of the rocket scenes, which were undeniably cool. I wish the movie had more of that powerful imagery.

Should you see First Man in the theater? I saw it in IMAX, which made the rocket scenes rumble, and the quiet scenes more tense. If you’re a real fan of NASA and the space program, it’s a must-see,  just to experience it properly. For everyone else, wait for the DVD.

 

Opinion: Racism, Dogs, and Our Primitive Brains

We can be better.

I love this article RunPee Dan wrote about how bigotry used to have an evolutionary advantage for early man. This discussion was sparked by The Hate U Give,  a movie out just this week, delving into the timely topics of race, bigotry, and prejudice in our culture. [pullquote]Racism has been a frequent topic in film for many long years, and unfortunately, it’s still something society grapples with.  [/pullquote]

I was talking to the RunPee family yesterday about just this: something a lot of people don’t know is that we’re not the only racist animals. Dogs and chimps have demonstrated this too, and even more ancient creatures. Watch any school of fish, or what happens in your own aquarium. There’s safely among one’s own kind.

When I worked with dogs, I noticed in person something I’d read about previously — that in a group/pack situation, dogs will seek out firstly others of their breed, and, failing that, will seek out dogs of its own color. So a black lab would look for other labs, or at least other black dogs. Eventually a dog would make its own ‘friends’ outside those boundaries, but those friendships still come with unassailable hierarchical positions. Dogs respect hierarchy above all else (the reason they obey us — if they do — is because they see us as higher in the pack scale as their Alpha, hopefully).

We see different as scary. We feel uneasy in a very primitive part of the brain when confronted with other. Fear and anxiety – and decision-making — are controlled in the amigdala, and that’s buried deeply in the brain’s cortex. [pullquote position=”right”]Our primal limbic system tries to protect us with knee-jerk responses to a variety of potentially dangerous stimuli. Run! Fight! Hide! Bark![/pullquote] This worked for a long time and got us where we are today, with cities, surplus food for most, and even leisure time to pursue learning, creative endeavors, and the pursuit of happiness.

Hopefully, we’ve had enough cultural evolution by now to think mindfully instead of reactively to every new encounter. This kind of mindfulness is a major reason I treasure Star Trek so much. [pullquote]Star Trek shows an enlightened society where greed, racism, hunger, and war-like qualities are mostly eradicated, replaced with a Humanist outlook on life.[/pullquote] Look at someone like Captain Jean-Luc Picard for the finest example of a Renaissance-level human ever in entertainment. The reason so many fans are pumped he has a  new Picard show in development is so we can watch our role model again, and feel inspired to be BETTER. (Also, Sir Patrick Stewart can read recipes out loud and make them sound like epic literature. ) So, yes, Star Trek FTW: I love this kind of positive outlook on the future. Not all entertainment has to be dark and gritty to be good.

I think my favorite part of Dan’s opinion article is about taking our racist brain parts out for a walk — to pet them, to tell them “different is okay”, and to let go of old, outmoded, instinctive fears. Yes, avoiding different was once a source of support and longevity. We in H. sapiens have had enough cycles of comfort and prosperity by now that we can TEACH ourselves to be more tolerant, less judgmental. (Which includes being tolerant of ourselves when we make the inevitable mistakes. There’s a learning curve.)

This is my hope. And, right, we have to work at it.  It does get easier, with practice. Constant vigilance! I believe we’ll get there in time, before the inevitable alien invasion arrives to MAKE us play well together.  😉

Through the Wormhole – Are We All Bigots?

Movie Review – The Hate U Give

Movie Review – BlacKkKlansman