Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Oscars are here again, and I've got the scoop . . .

. . . and a most interesting scoop it is. There are two categories that I think can be effectively "called." The rest is actually fairly open. I mean, we who make these predictions always think that some things are surer bets than others, but, sometimes, we're proven to be very wrong. One thing that's very important to remember whenever you're discussing Oscar predictions is that the Academy has a mind that is very much its own. Despite the usual indicators that point out who has the edge, such as the nominees/winners of the major guild awards, as well as the Golden Globe nominees/winners, all too often the Academy essentially says "screw you," and picks a completely different winner. I cannot overemphasize this point. Need I remind you of my picks from last year? So, without further ado, here are my picks in the major categories.

Best Picture

The nominees:

Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Breakdown: This category is a bit contradictory. One one hand, it's a no-brainer. No Country For Old Men has won almost all of the major awards going into Oscar night and has all of the momentum. It's been acclaimed as one of the strongest films of the Coen's already stellar filmography. But here's where it gets tricky. I think that There Will Be Blood might be the dark horse of this category. It received a ton of critical acclaim and I wouldn't be completely surprised if it pulls out a win on Oscar night. Personally, I'd be happy if this happened, as I picked this film as the best film of 2007. However, even if No Country For Old Men does get the win, I won't be that disappointed, because it's a great film and is, I think, also very deserving. Despite this, another scenario is completely possible. If the two aforementioned films (both of which are very similar in tone) split the vote between them, Juno just might squeak through and take the big one. I will be mad if this happens, because it's not so often that you have two knockout movies in the running. To see Juno win out over either one of them would be quite tragic.

Predicted Winner: No Country For Old Men
If I was voting: There Will Be Blood
Possible upsets: Juno, There Will Be Blood

Best Actor

The nominees:

George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones - In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises

Breakdown: This is one of the aforementioned "sure things." Daniel Day-Lewis turned in of the greatest performances of his already storied career. There are performances and then there are performances. This is one of the latter. No one else stands a chance.

Predicted Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis.
If I was voting: Daniel Day-Lewis.
Possible upsets: None.

Best Actress

The nominees:

Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie - Away from Her
Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney - The Savages
Ellen Page - Juno

Breakdown: Julie Christie is easily the front-runner in this category. So far, she's got a lot of momentum that may well carry her all the way to the podium. However, Marion Cotillard has received a lot of critical acclaim for her performance. I'm not sure if she will be able to overcome the fact that not a lot of people have seen La Vie en Rose. Ellen Page is also a dark horse in this category and might ride the tidal wave of goodwill that people have for her over-rated little film all the way to the victory.

Predicted Winner: Julie Christie.
If I was voting: Laura Linney.
Possible upsets: Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page.

Best Supporting Actor

The nominees:

Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson’s War
Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton

The Breakdown: Javier Bardem has won every award under the sun for his performance, and I don't think that anyone really has a serious chance of catching him. However, if anyone has any chance at all, I think that Casey Affleck would be the guy. I really don't think that will happen though.

Predicted Winner: Javier Bardem
If I was voting: Javier Bardem
Possible upsets: Casey Affleck.

Best Supporting Actress

The nominees:

Cate Blanchett - I’m Not There
Ruby Dee - American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan - Atonement
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton

The Breakdown: This is a fairly tricky category to pick. Cate Blanchett's had the most steady buzz so far, but Ruby Dee has picked up steam, particularly as a result of her SAG win. Amy Ryan is somewhat of a dark horse, due to the early buzz that she generated, but it's died down a LOT. I think that it will most definitely be either Cate Blanchett or Ruby Dee, and I'm going with Cate.

Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett.
If I was voting: Cate Blanchett.
Possible upsets: Ruby Dee, Amy Ryan.

Best Director

The nominees:

Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men
Tony Gilroy - Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman - Juno
Julian Schnabel - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Breakdown: This award is Joel and Ethan Coen's to win or lose. These guys have some of the most original voices in cinema today. A lot of people felt that they should have received their due back in 1997 with Fargo, but I think that, this year, they've got this one in the bag. However, there are a few dark horses. Paul Thomas Anderson's work was astounding, and Julian Schnabel has generated a lot of buzz. Despite this, I really don't see Joel and Ethan losing this time.

Predicted Winner: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
If I was voting: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
Possible upsets: Paul Thomas Anderson, Julian Schnabel.

Well, that's all, folks. Here's hoping that:

1. I'm able to rebound from doing such a poor job of predicting last year's Oscars.
2. Jon Stewart is actually funny this time around.
3. We get a great show.
4. We're not left scratching our heads too much.
5. Against all odds, Diablo Cody actually doesn't win Best Original Screenplay.
6. "Falling Slowly" wins Best Original Song.

. . . and, most importantly. . .

7. In such a strong year, Juno does NOT win Best Picture.

Enjoy the show.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Kaddish, Part 1

Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on
the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.
downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I've been up all night, talking,
talking, reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues
shout blind on the phonograph
the rhythm the rhythm--and your memory in my head three years after--
And read Adonais' last triumphant stanzas aloud--wept, realizing
how we suffer--
And how Death is that remedy all singers dream of, sing, remember,
prophesy as in the Hebrew Anthem, or the Buddhist Book of An-
swers--and my own imagination of a withered leaf--at dawn--
Dreaming back thru life, Your time--and mine accelerating toward Apoca-
the final moment--the flower burning in the Day--and what comes after,
looking back on the mind itself that saw an American city
a flash away, and the great dream of Me or China, or you and a phantom
Russia, or a crumpled bed that never existed--
like a poem in the dark--escaped back to Oblivion--
No more to say, and nothing to weep for but the Beings in the Dream,
trapped in its disappearance,
sighing, screaming with it, buying and selling pieces of phantom, worship-
ping each other,
worshipping the God included in it all--longing or inevitability?--while it
lasts, a Vision--anything more?
It leaps about me, as I go out and walk the street, look back over my shoulder,
Seventh Avenue, the battlements of window office buildings shoul-
dering each other high, under a cloud, tall as the sky an instant--and
the sky above--an old blue place.
or down the Avenue to the south, to--as I walk toward the Lower East Side
--where you walked 50 years ago, little girl--from Russia, eating the
first poisonous tomatoes of America frightened on the dock
then struggling in the crowds of Orchard Street toward what?--toward
toward candy store, first home-made sodas of the century, hand-churned ice
cream in backroom on musty brownfloor boards--
Toward education marriage nervous breakdown, operation, teaching school,
and learning to be mad, in a dream--what is this life?
Toward the Key in the window--and the great Key lays its head of light
on top of Manhattan, and over the floor, and lays down on the
sidewalk--in a single vast beam, moving, as I walk down First toward
the Yiddish Theater--and the place of poverty
you knew, and I know, but without caring now--Strange to have moved
thru Paterson, and the West, and Europe and here again,
with the cries of Spaniards now in the doorstops doors and dark boys on
the street, firs escapes old as you
--Tho you're not old now, that's left here with me--
Myself, anyhow, maybe as old as the universe--and I guess that dies with
us--enough to cancel all that comes--What came is gone forever
every time--
That's good!That leaves it open for no regret--no fear radiators, lacklove,
torture even toothache in the end--
Though while it comes it is a lion that eats the soul--and the lamb, the soul,
in us, alas, offering itself in sacrifice to change's fierce hunger--hair
and teeth--and the roar of bonepain, skull bare, break rib, rot-skin,
braintricked Implacability.
Ai! ai!we do worse! We are in a fix!And you're out, Death let you out,
Death had the Mercy, you're done with your century, done with
God, done with the path thru it--Done with yourself at last--Pure
--Back to the Babe dark before your Father, before us all--before the
There, rest.No more suffering for you.I know where you've gone, it's good.
No more flowers in the summer fields of New York, no joy now, no more
fear of Louis,
and no more of his sweetness and glasses, his high school decades, debts,
loves, frightened telephone calls, conception beds, relatives, hands--
No more of sister Elanor,--she gone before you--we kept it secret you
killed her--or she killed herself to bear with you--an arthritic heart
--But Death's killed you both--No matter--
Nor your memory of your mother, 1915 tears in silent movies weeks and
weeks--forgetting, agrieve watching Marie Dressler address human-
ity, Chaplin dance in youth,
or Boris Godunov, Chaliapin's at the Met, halling his voice of a weeping Czar
--by standing room with Elanor & Max--watching also the Capital
ists take seats in Orchestra, white furs, diamonds,
with the YPSL's hitch-hiking thru Pennsylvania, in black baggy gym skirts
pants, photograph of 4 girls holding each other round the waste, and
laughing eye, too coy, virginal solitude of 1920
all girls grown old, or dead now, and that long hair in the grave--lucky to
have husbands later--
You made it--I came too--Eugene my brother before (still grieving now and
will gream on to his last stiff hand, as he goes thru his cancer--or kill
--later perhaps--soon he will think--)
And it's the last moment I remember, which I see them all, thru myself, now
--tho not you
I didn't foresee what you felt--what more hideous gape of bad mouth came
first--to you--and were you prepared?
To go where?In that Dark--that--in that God? a radiance? A Lord in the
Void?Like an eye in the black cloud in a dream?Adonoi at last, with
Beyond my remembrance! Incapable to guess! Not merely the yellow skull
in the grave, or a box of worm dust, and a stained ribbon--Deaths-
head with Halo?can you believe it?
Is it only the sun that shines once for the mind, only the flash of existence,
than none ever was?
Nothing beyond what we have--what you had--that so pitiful--yet Tri-
to have been here, and changed, like a tree, broken, or flower--fed to the
ground--but made, with its petals, colored, thinking Great Universe,
shaken, cut in the head, leaf stript, hid in an egg crate hospital, cloth
wrapped, sore--freaked in the moon brain, Naughtless.
No flower like that flower, which knew itself in the garden, and fought the
Cut down by an idiot Snowman's icy--even in the Spring--strange ghost
thought some--Death--Sharp icicle in his hand--crowned with old
roses--a dog for his eyes--cock of a sweatshop--heart of electric
All the accumulations of life, that wear us out--clocks, bodies, consciousness,
shoes, breasts--begotten sons--your Communism--'Paranoia' into
You once kicked Elanor in the leg, she died of heart failure later.You of
stroke.Asleep?within a year, the two of you, sisters in death.Is
Elanor happy?
Max grieves alive in an office on Lower Broadway, lone large mustache over
midnight Accountings, not sure.His life passes--as he sees--and
what does he doubt now?Still dream of making money, or that might
have made money, hired nurse, had children, found even your Im-
mortality, Naomi?
I'll see him soon.Now I've got to cut through to talk to you as I didn't
when you had a mouth.
Forever.And we're bound for that, Forever like Emily Dickinson's horses
--headed to the End.
They know the way--These Steeds--run faster than we think--it's our own
life they cross--and take with them.

Magnificent, mourned no more, marred of heart, mind behind, mar-
ried dreamed, mortal changed--Ass and face done with murder.
In the world, given, flower maddened, made no Utopia, shut under
pine, almed in Earth, blamed in Lone, Jehovah, accept.
Nameless, One Faced, Forever beyond me, beginningless, endless,
Father in death.Tho I am not there for this Prophecy, I am unmarried, I'm
hymnless, I'm Heavenless, headless in blisshood I would still adore
Thee, Heaven, after Death, only One blessed in Nothingness, not
light or darkness, Dayless Eternity--
Take this, this Psalm, from me, burst from my hand in a day, some
of my Time, now given to Nothing--to praise Thee--But Death
This is the end, the redemption from Wilderness, way for the Won-
derer, House sought for All, black handkerchief washed clean by weeping
--page beyond Psalm--Last change of mine and Naomi--to God's perfect
Darkness--Death, stay thy phantoms!

-Allen Ginsberg

Sunday, February 17, 2008

You go girl!

I've been meaning to post something about how glad I am that my girl Amy Winehouse cleaned up at the Grammys, but just haven't done it yet. She should have gotten Album of the Year too. I have respect for Herbie Hancock, to be sure, but come on. Album of the Year? I think not . . . I think that the whole thing about her not being "worthy" of getting awards because of her personal problems is ridiculous. She made one of the best soul albums in recent memory and deserved to be recognized.

In other news, I've been working on a new poem. It's sort of mostly finished, I guess. I'm really not sure. I'm going back and forth between thinking that it's done and thinking that it needs to be a lot longer. I'll post it here once I decide it's finished.

I'll be posting my Oscar predictions here probably at the end of the week, so don't forget to check to see if I can rebound after the debacle that was my set of predictions for last year.