Pre-Oscar Open Thread: Hurray for Canada!

In the Oscar spirit, Hendrick Hertzberg at the New Yorker reports on Jimmy’s Carter’s Argo review — “a rave with a caveat”:

When I saw the movie, it occurred to me that if the “Argo” mission had crashed and burned—as the Desert One rescue mission crashed and burned, literally, three months later—it would have been a huge political catastrophe for Carter. He did what? He risked the reputation of the United States of America on a ludicrous Hollywood science-fiction slapstick scam that only an idiot would think might work? Typical Carter! What naïveté, what incompetence! If you think Dukakis in a tank looked silly, try Carter dressed up like a Klingon.

We can now see that the political risk Carter took wasn’t quite as great as the movie makes it appear. Yes, the idea for the caper was the C.I.A.’s. Agent Tony Mendez deserves his belated accolades. Carter deserves a few, too, for green-lighting the thing. On the ground, in Tehran, this was overwhelmingly a Canadian caper—the ultimate Worthwhile Canadian Initiative.

If it had turned out to be a public fiasco, Ottawa would have taken the fall—and the fall wouldn’t have been nearly as precipitous, the landing not nearly as hard, as it would have been if, as in the movie, Washington had played the starring role. Plucky little Canada, people would have thought. It didn’t work, but they tried. Good for them.

As it was, Canada got all the credit. Carter and the C.I.A. got almost none—certainly much less than they deserved. That was part of the plan, of course. But Carter and his top aides—Hamilton Jordan, Jody Powell, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Gary Sick, and many more—sat on this incredibly juicy story for nearly twenty years, long after there was any national-security reason to stay silent. There’s nary a word about it in the memoirs they published in the nineteen-eighties. I was there—I was Carter’s chief speechwriter at the time—and I had no idea. Say this for Carter and his confidants, Georgian and not: these guys knew how to keep a secret…

***********

As it happens (I like cartoons, sci-fi, and Ben Affleck) Argo is the only one of the Best Film nominees I’ve seen, so I’m not in the best position to handicap tonight’s choices. Who wants to argue in favor of their choices — or against those of the Academy?

110 replies
  1. 1
    Cacti says:

    Samuel L. Jackson not getting a supporting actor nom for Django Unchained is a crying shame.

  2. 2
    James Gary says:

    Having unfortunately seen “Argo” and “Beasts Of The Southern Wild,” I am in favor of any film BUT either of those two winning Best Picture.

  3. 3
    Gin & Tonic says:

    I saw “Argo” and I’m really not sure why it’s winning all those awards. It’s a good, workmanlike movie, but I see no greatness there.

  4. 4
    TD says:

    Rooting for Lincoln.

    But speaking of Canada, the finest song writer I’ve come across recently is a kanuck.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fhop5VuLDIQ&feature=endscreen&NR=1

  5. 5
    guachi says:

    I don’t watch many movies in theaters. Only nominee I saw was Lincoln and, like just about everyone else, the beginning and end were stupid but the rest of the movie was great.

  6. 6
    Anoniminous says:

    Like to see “The Invisible War” win best Best Feature Documentary. I’ll bet it will be “Looking for Sugar Man.”

  7. 7
    Cacti says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I saw “Argo” and I’m really not sure why it’s winning all those awards. It’s a good, workmanlike movie, but I see no greatness there.

    The Academy loves giving awards for directing to marginally talented actors.

    Kevin Costner has as many Best Director awards as Martin Scorsese, and one more than Stanley Kubrick.

  8. 8
    eemom says:

    May I submit another question for discussion?

    Actually two, because I don’t get either of them — but the second, I REALLY don’t get:

    1. Why does anybody — especially people who are “into” films, give a shit about the Oscars?

    2. HOW, in the name of all the fucks, does anybody voluntarily subject themselves to sitting through that godawful five hour piece of shit circus, even if they DO care who wins??

    Please, someone — teach me, so that I may learn. This is one of several days during the year that I am absolutely convinced I inhabit an alien planet. (See also, superbowl Sunday.)

  9. 9
    Cacti says:

    Leonardo DiCaprio also turned in an Oscar worthy supporting role in Django.

    I think the Academy was nervous about giving nods for roles as a sadistic plantation owner (DiCaprio), and a boot-licking house negro (Jackson).

  10. 10
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    I just saw Lincoln yesterday – finally came out here – and while I enjoyed it greatly, I dearly dearly wish that a director who wasn’t stephen spielburg had directed it. So Much Soaring Music. So many hackish scene transitions. So many cheap feels at the expense of legitimate drama and history. I much preferred Argo and Zero Dark Thirty even more than that.

    Having said that, is it just me or have we hit a new golden age of political films – starting with the fictional Tinker/Tailor remake 2 years ago to now, look at all the lovely things we’ve had to watch!

  11. 11
    srv says:

    Not that Americans care about reality, but if you read the Canadian view of this Our Man in Tehran, the brilliant Carter administration doesn’t come off as so bright.

  12. 12
    efgoldman says:

    @eemom:

    HOW, in the name of all the fucks, does anybody voluntarily subject themselves to sitting through that godawful five hour piece of shit circus

    Last time I watched the Oscars was, I think, the year before Brando sent that native American woman out to accept his award and make a speech.
    Super Bowl? Well, I watch the game, but not one second of pregame or postgame bloviating, and I started muting the halftime show 10-12 years ago.

  13. 13
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    The business likes films that portray the business in a good light.

  14. 14
    Anoniminous says:

    @eemom:

    Why does anybody — especially people who are “into” films, give a shit about the Oscars?

    The industry cares because: Money.

    People who are “into” films generally Don’t Care or they slang the entire process.

    HOW, in the name of all the fucks, does anybody voluntarily subject themselves to sitting through that godawful five hour piece of shit circus, even if they DO care who wins??

    Beats me. If you ever find out, can you let me know?

  15. 15
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @eemom: one of the great things about the internets, if anything funny or interesting actually happens, I can watch it tomorrow without without having to sit through Julia Roberts managing to sound smug and self-congratulatory while explaining why lighting design is so important to all of our lives. I turned on the Emmys for about two minutes b/c I saw in the ‘tubes how funny Amy Poehler and Tina Fey were, and had to sit through some really bad schtick by Will Ferrell and Kristin Wig, both of whom I find incredibly overrated, though he did a great Dumbya and I think she has the potential to be a great young Lucille Bluth.

  16. 16
    gwangung says:

    @eemom:

    HOW, in the name of all the fucks, does anybody voluntarily subject themselves to sitting through that godawful five hour piece of shit circus, even if they DO care who wins??

    If they’re anything like the actors I know, a five hour long snark fest at the highest level just might be enough. Meow.

  17. 17
    WereBear says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): The question doesn’t even need to be asked… I was watching the night Crash won and Brokeback Mountain lost.

    They both made me cry, but one was from frustration!

    But it’s typical… How Green Was My Valley beat out Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, and Suspicion.

  18. 18
    Roger Moore says:

    @eemom:
    I think the Oscars matter a lot to insiders. They’re the most prestigious award within the industry, voted on by a group that more or less reflects the movie industry as a whole. To people who care a lot about public acclaim- which covers a whole lot of actors and directors- that’s a huge deal. And the awards give their recipients an official stamp of approval that often boosts ticket sales, so they also matter to the money people.

    So just about everyone in the industry has to care about them, which means that people who want to act as if they care about the industry have to pretend to care about them, too. That means they want to watch the ceremony so they can find out the results ASAP. Then the ceremony has to get fluffed up into something more exciting than just reading off the names, which also helps to market the movies in general. The whole thing winds up snowballing into something that everyone watches because it’s an institution.

  19. 19
    Ben Franklin says:

    Yep. The Oscars are nothing more than public relations for the most profitable films. Sure, they throw in the occasional sleeper which few see, but it’s usually for costumes, or lighting or somesuch.

    I don’t watch the Superbowl or the Oscars. I can wait until the morning after to find out who ‘won’.

  20. 20
  21. 21
    patroclus says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: If you had read the books or seen the BBC version of Tinker Tailor, the recent movie was very very good. But if you hadn’t – like the people I saw it with – it was unintelligible gibberish that was utterly impossible to explain after hours and hours of trying.

    When I saw Argo, I thought it was really good, but I’m unsure why it is winning so many awards and is the favorite tonight. I’m rooting for upsets, except that I really really like Sally Field and I hope she wins because I want her to give another speech that people will make fun of for decades.

  22. 22
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Woooooooo

    PF37 +5 been drinking Speakeasy Red Rye Ale and Troegs Nugget Nectar all afternoon. Fuck the Oscars and all this superficial acting shit. They’re regular people like everyone else. Don’t put them on a pedestal, where Steve Carrell put the pussay in 40-Year Old Virgin

  23. 23
    The Dangerman says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I saw “Argo” and I’m really not sure why it’s winning all those awards. It’s a good, workmanlike movie…

    I felt the same for Zero Dark Thirty; good, not great (Hurt Locker was great, for example). I don’t think I’ve seen any of the other big nominees this year, but it just may be a shit year for films.

  24. 24
    raven says:

    The Spirit Awards are great but Charter moved IFC so we couldn’t watch.

  25. 25
    Yutsano says:

    @WereBear: I about screamed my head off after that atrocity. Yeah, Brokeback wins just about everything BUT Best Picture? Something smelled really really rotten there. Found out later Crash is basically a Scientology propaganda film. Small wonder.

  26. 26
    Suzanne says:

    @eemom: I spend the entire time snarking on the clothes. I can do that FOREVAH.

  27. 27
    Suzanne says:

    @eemom: I spend the entire time snarking on the clothes. I can do that FOREVAH.

  28. 28
    efgoldman says:

    I also assume most small-market ABC affiliates are using “news” time to promote the living shit out of the broadcast, as ours (Providence) is, in hope of boosting the network’s generally crappy evening ratings. Maybe big markets too, for all I know.

  29. 29
    raven says:

    @efgoldman: Wicked Tuna’s season premier’s at 9!

  30. 30
    The Dangerman says:

    As for predictions, I’m guessing McFarlane crashes and burns. This will be as surprising as Taylor Swift dumping some Dude and singing about it.

    /billy crystal

  31. 31
    raven says:

    So I bought this15 lb turkey at Target because it was only $.69 a lb. I marinated it in my new found Cuban Sour Orange marinade and have half in the oven and half on the water smoker. Now I have to figure out WHAT to do with it all!

  32. 32
    efgoldman says:

    @raven:

    Wicked Tuna’s season premier’s at 9!

    Meh. I’ll wait for Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers. I miss the show with the lumber haulers from Maine. I used to watch it just to listen to the accents, ayup.

  33. 33
    SatanicPanic says:

    I haven’t watched any of the movies that are nominated* AND I don’t have a TV** which makes me both culturally and morally superior to the rest of you.

    *Too busy watching TV shows on Netflix
    **can’t afford one

  34. 34
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @eemom:

    eemom, I’m totally with you on this. I haven’t watched any part of the Oscars in, probably, 20+ years (and have watched only one Super Bowl ever, and that in a pretty desultory way). I also don’t watch the Emmys, Tonys, Grammys, People’s Choice Awards or the Miss America or Miss Universe pageants. I’m not against them, especially — I just don’t see the point. I’m not trying to be an elitist snob (although I’m sure it’s coming across like that) and I always enjoy learning after the fact who won what, and usually manage to pick up the “highlight” moments on late-night or next-day news coverage. But I hate all the “red carpet” crap and the lame scripted “jokes,” and would rather read a book.

  35. 35
    raven says:

    @SatanicPanic: Check out Burke and Wills, it’s a crummy copy on Netflix but a great story of the exploration of Australia by honkies.

  36. 36
    Jay S says:

    @Yutsano:

    Found out later Crash is basically a Scientology propaganda film.

    Wait, what? My Google fu got nothing.

  37. 37
    raven says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: What’s all that other horseshit got to do with a football game?

  38. 38
    Amir Khalid says:

    I’m going to see Lincoln sometime this week. I expect it will be rather more sober than the other Abraham Lincoln movie I saw — you know, the one with the vampires. We’ll see if Amour, Zero Dark Thirty and Argo ever get here.

    @eemom:
    Merit is only one of the things that decide whether you win an Oscar. One Academy voter is reported to have said that Spielberg deserves to win an Oscar every ten years or so just for being Spielberg. (Needless to say, I disagree.)

    In the end, we interact with a movie or a book or a music album one-on-one. What we get from it, or don’t get, is personal to us. If Anne Hathaway doesn’t win the Oscar she’s up for, it doesn’t devalue her performance as Fantine one whit. If someone wins an Oscar for a performance I really didn’t like, I doubt that victory will make me like it any better.

    As for the Oscars show, it could be vastly improved by taking away the lectern at which winners give their speeches. Just give’em the Oscar and show’em back to their seat. The show would become far less tedious and you could show more award-winners.

  39. 39
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Suzanne: You know about GoFugYourself, right? I’ll probably be checking their Vulture liveblog (which starts in just a few minutes) because, yeah, it’s mostly about the outfits & other surprises…

  40. 40
    raven says:

    @Amir Khalid: I heard the skinny broad gets knocked off less than half-way through. What up wit dat?

  41. 41
    SatanicPanic says:

    @raven: That sounds awesome, thanks! I’ve been hooked on Sons of Anarchy lately. My blog partner said it’s white supremacist TV and I felt compelled to watch it and give my own review. I kind of agree, but it’s still an exciting show.

  42. 42
    JPL says:

    @Anne Laurie: This is the first year that I’m going to watch the red carpet show. I’ve decided that it’s never to late to become a fashionista. I’ll be wearing my red jammies and white robe.

  43. 43
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @raven:

    Well, I put the Super Bowl comment in parentheses, so nothing, really. The year I watched was the year the Falcons were in it, whenever that was. But I am not really a football fan at all.

  44. 44
    dmsilev says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    As for the Oscars show, it could be vastly improved by taking away the lectern at which winners give their speeches. Just give’em the Oscar and show’em back to their seat. The show would become far less tedious and you could show more award-winners

    If they did that, I might consider watching. As it is, a seemingly endless parade of people spending two minutes thanking their third grade teacher and pet parakeet is more than I have patience for.

  45. 45
    raven says:

    @Anne Laurie: Reminds me of Jay from Jay and Silent Bob doing a live commentary during the Royal Wedding!

  46. 46
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Fuck the Oscars!

    And in teevee, what is good to watch these days? I am mainly looking forward to “It’s Always Sunny” coming back, as well as the long-awaited return of “Arrested Development”. “The Office” has done an excellent job of turning Jim into a complete douchebag, and “Modern Family” has been slipping quite a bit in recent weeks. Very odd writing and directing going on.

    PF37 +6

  47. 47
    lamh35 says:

    I admit to being a fashion whore. I like to watch the red carpet, but I don’t ever watch the show live. I follow on twitter after the red carpet ends, but that’s about it. The last time I did watch was when I actually felt I had a horse in the race, that was when Dreamgirls was nominated for the awards (Eddie Murphy was robbed, BTW). This year’s Oscars I have no horse in any race, although I always root for Denzel and I looking forward to seeing the Bond tribute with Adele performing the Bond theme and Shirley Bassey!!!! Otherwise, I tend to root for the underdog in most categories, except best actor, I like Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln and Sally Fields as Mary Todd, and I hate all the hype over the Silver Lining folks. So I’m just all about the fashion for me and I actually hope Seth McFarlane does well. If not, then the Academy will once again go back to old fogey hosts and as much as I like Billy Crystal…enough with Crystal as host.

  48. 48
    SatanicPanic says:

    @PsiFighter37: Jesus, +6 on a sunday afternoon? Slow down, I’ll try to catch up

  49. 49
    Schlemizel says:

    The movie guy on CBS Sunday Morning predicted that Argo will win. He bases this on the PR effort. Last year he correctly predicted the winners & says he did it by looking at which were making the largest push. This year he says its Argo, Anne Hathaway, Danial Day Lewis and I forget his other choices.

    Personally I find the show is usually tedious & disappointing no matter who wins.

  50. 50
    Wolfdaughter says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    I don’t agree with you about Kristin Wiig. I thought she was brilliant in “Bridesmaid”.

    I just saw Argo on Friday night. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I understand from a friend that the airport scene was not historically accurate–that the Canadians, rather than Tony Mendez, accompanied the six hostages to the airport and that they boarded without fanfare or white knuckling of any sort. The casters did a brilliant job of finding actors who actually resembled the people they played, especially the young man with the snub nose.

    I also saw Lincoln and enjoyed that. My same friend said that people from Connecticut were offended because the movie portrayed the two senators as voting against the Emancipation Proclamation, whereas they actually voted for it. When movies get that sort of detail wrong, it’s annoying, as this is something that is very easy to get right. But Daniel Day-Lewis was wonderful as Lincoln, and I would like to see Sally Field win best supporting actress.

  51. 51
    CaseyL says:

    I like the Oscars, but then I like the movie biz culture as much as I like movies.

    Waiting to see if the newest host crashes and burns, or not, is fun. The collections and retrospectives can be well done.

    Some years there’s a particular movie I hope wins everything it’s nominated for; or certain actors, directors, I really want to see win. Any year Meryl Streep is nominated is a good year, because she’s a hoot.

    It’s also fun to play the game of “Which movie will live long in memory even though it didn’t win, and which movie will be an Oscar darling only to be scorned and forgotten in a decade.”

    Once upon a time, the Oscars were more unpredictable. Streakers, political proxies, terribly embarrassing speeches, Jack Palance… it’s a pity the Academy has buttoned things down so much those lovely moments of pure WTF-ness have practically vanished.

    ETA: And then there are the scripted moments of pure WTF that shine on and on in memory. Like Rob Lowe dancing with Snow White. Or when Debbie Allen choreographed a long, achingly horrible dance routine to the score of Saving Private Ryan.

  52. 52
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @SatanicPanic: The fiancee left at noon for a business trip out to San Francisco, so I’ve had plenty of time to get my drank on. I did laundry, which is the only pressing cleaning need as of now, so I am home free.

    I should exercise, but fuck that. I’m in good shape for now, and I will be back on the wagon hard tomorrow night.

  53. 53
    JPL says:

    I’m streaming the British version of House of Cards. I’m really not sure what series I like best. Ian Richardson is outstanding but I liked the chemistry between Spacey and Wright.

  54. 54
    SatanicPanic says:

    @PsiFighter37: I was just thinking that laundry and beer would be a good use of this afternoon

  55. 55
    Wolfdaughter says:

    @Suzanne:

    I always buy the People issue which shows the Oscar costumes–good, bad and ugly. I get a kick out of that.

  56. 56
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Oh, and did I mention fuck the Oscars? Maybe it sounds conservative of me, but I hate the self-important shit that goes on at these awards ceremonies. That’s why I loved Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes, pissing in everyone’s face and wine glasses and putting them in their place.

    “The only reason ‘The Tourist’ was nominated was so that they could meet Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp”, indeed. Fuck these screen critics. I wish I could have a sweet life like that.

    I know it’s different (Hollywood Foreign Press v. the members of the guild or some equally self-important self-declarative guild), but the point still stands.

  57. 57
    handsmile says:

    @eemom:

    Well look here, it seems there are more than a few such inhabitants of that alien planet. (a long-time resident myself). How considerate of you to convene an assembly!

    Much like your efforts to organize a DC meet-up, you really are a “people person” aren’t you?

    And since this recommendation was roundly ignored in an earlier thread today (harumph!), let me once again encourage all here to see the unforgettable film, Amour. (Nominations include Best Foreign Language film and Best Actress). Yes, it’s in French with subtitles, but it’s a remarkable movie of profound emotional resonance.

    It should be noted, of course, that this recommendation comes from someone who has absolutely no idea of who Seth McFarlane is.

  58. 58
    SatanicPanic says:

    @PsiFighter37: Fuck the Grammys too, but least the Grammys sometimes has decent musical performances.

  59. 59
    ruemara says:

    May I point out that visual effects artists getting the short end of the fiscal stick are protesting outside? We’re really getting screwed. Case in point, Rhythm & Hues, nominated for Life of PI, has closed it’s doors. They did not get paid enough, workers have no pay and no job and it’s starting to be endemic to the industry.

  60. 60
    Violet says:

    @eemom:

    2. HOW, in the name of all the fucks, does anybody voluntarily subject themselves to sitting through that godawful five hour piece of shit circus, even if they DO care who wins??

    I used to watch the Oscars with a friend before she moved to another city. We’d drink wine, make catty remarks about the actors and speeches and clothes and hairstyles, and if we got bored we’d torture her cats with the laser pointer. It was always a fun night. I think we occasionally picked who we thought would win and see how we did, but mostly we didn’t care all that much.

    As for the Superbowl and the Oscars, they’re part of the cultural currency and, at least in the case of the Superbowl, one of our last national shared experiences. If you watch you can talk with your coworkers about them the next day at work and have a reasonable expectation that people will know what you’re talking about.

    I like watching live events because things can happen that aren’t expected. Like the blackout during this year’s Superbowl. Best. Superbowl. Ever.

  61. 61
    Violet says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    some really bad schtick by Will Ferrell and Kristin Wig, both of whom I find incredibly overrated

    I find Kristin Wiig very tedious. I’m so glad her era on SNL is over. I haven’t seen Bridesmaids, but I saw plenty of her on SNL for years and was not impressed.

  62. 62
    James E. Powell says:

    Remember Michael Moore back when he won the Best Doc Oscar for Bowling for Columbine? Right in the middle of the war fever, he invites all the directors of the nominated docs on stage, says docs are about telling the truth, then calls the president a liar.

    I fucking loved it.

  63. 63
    SuzieC says:

    @lamh35:

    I’m also a fashion ho and I admit to looking forward to Joan Rivers’ expletive filled ripping of Oscar fashions (1 1/2 hour special Monday night) more than the Oscars themselves.

  64. 64
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @WereBear:

    IIRC, City Lights wasn’t even nominated. Go figure.

  65. 65
    cckids says:

    @dmsilev:

    As it is, a seemingly endless parade of people spending two minutes thanking their third grade teacher and pet parakeet is more than I have patience for.

    I have way more patience for those people than the ones who tearfully thank their publicist & God. Makes me tired.

    LOVE snarking on the clothes, tho. It is a bonding ritual with my 18-yr-old daughter. Gotta take those where she’ll give ’em to me.

  66. 66
    gogol's wife says:

    It’s never been the same since David Niven and the streaker. You just can’t top that. I mean, David Niven and a streaker.

  67. 67
    Arclite says:

    Somehow this year, I managed to see most of the best picture nominees, and I’ll say that Argo was my favorite. So well cast, written, and directed, it really is the complete package. And while all of it shines, that script! THAT SCRIPT! So full of wit and drama. Line after line of that movie was so great.

  68. 68
    Robert says:

    I put a lot of time in this season following all the oddsmakers and precursors. I’ve even seen all the narrative nominees, all the docs, and most of the foreign language nominees. I only missed out on the shorts because the doc/live action/animated screenings weren’t going on very regularly near me. My breakdown of the how and why of each Oscar category is a long read but I hope an informative one.

    Here are my thoughts on Best Picture:

    Picture

    I mentioned the five-way race earlier in this post. Here’s a recap: the Best Picture winner will be Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, or Zero Dark Thirty. Argo has the Ben Affleck was robbed narrative that I hate so much. Life of Pi has visual wizardry and technical execution. Lincoln has an almost hypnotic effect on the audience, turning whether or not the 13th Amendment was passed into great suspense. Silver Linings Playbook is considered a strong ensemble comedy with a great, realistic tone for reasons I don’t understand. And Zero Dark Thirty is technically well-executed with a sharp political edge.

    Will Win: Argo
    Spoiler: Lincoln
    My Pick: Beasts of the Southern Wild

  69. 69
    SuzieC says:

    @Arclite:

    Agree. Absolutely loved it. I really like smart political movies, especially if they have a suspenseful, propulsive storyline. There are not very many of them, unfortunately. And I still find it jaw-droppingly unbelievable that the secret of the hostage rescue was kept for so long.

  70. 70
    MikeJ says:

    @Cacti:

    The Academy loves giving awards for directing to marginally talented actors.

    Yeah, but Affleck isn’t up for best director. The film is up for best picture

  71. 71
    Tim I says:

    Anne, I am very surprised to learn that you were Carter’s chief speech writer. I have enjoyed reading your commentary on Balloon Juice for several years. You have always seemed extremely well-informed and you have provided some profound political insights.

    Perhaps your work for Carter is an open secret around here, but it came as a shock to me. I greatly admire the fact that you have kept this as low key as it appears that you have. Were I you, I would probably start every post by saying; “As the former chief speech writer to the President of the United States”. I now admire both your political insight and your profound humility.

    It is remarkable that there was a time, not so long ago, when senior White House Officials would put the security of the United States above their desire to sell more books.

  72. 72
    woodyNYC says:

    @ruemara:

    Ruemara, thanks for bringing that up. I scanned through the whole thread looking for some mention. Here is a link about the protest to call attention to the parlous state of VFX artists ( and companies too)

    If I wasn’t in NYC I would be there….

  73. 73
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Wolfdaughter: See above recommendation for GoFugYourself. Get your catty on tonight, and they will have tons of both Good & Fugly pics up over the next couple days.

  74. 74
    jon says:

    I think I saw four movies last year: The Hobbit (enjoyed it greatly,) Skyfall (liked it a lot,) The Avengers (lots of fun,) and Prometheus (which would have been much better on Netflix.) I’ve finally given up the idea that I should see the Important Cinema, so I just go for the spectacle. I’ll probably catch the end of the Oscars, see whatever highlights youtube and vimeo have before the Academy of MPAS threatens the living shit out of them, and be sure to catch up on the latest incidents of sideboob or upskirtery. And that’s nothing I need to see, but it’s so fun to read about the pearl-clutching lunatics and their overreactions.

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    Anne Laurie says:

    @ruemara: If there’s a link to something I can front page, let me know.

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    WereBear says:

    The Oscars actually flashes me back to childhood; in those days, vaudeville was not yet dead, and it seemed like every show put song & dance numbers in, even sitcoms like The Dick Van Dyke Show.

    I hated it!

  77. 77
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Another year wherein I managed not to see any of the nominated movies. They’ll be on Netflix or Amazon Prime sooner or later and that’s good enough for me.

  78. 78
    SuzieC says:

    @Tim I:

    Henrick Hertzberg, the author of the New Yorker article quoted, was Carter’s speechwriter.

  79. 79
    ruemara says:

    @Anne Laurie: http://www.fxguide.com/quickta.....tatoscars/ There’s a number of sites, but this has the best pics.

  80. 80
    Suzanne says:

    @Anne Laurie: That’s one of my top five blogs. LOVE.

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    lamh35 says:

    @SuzieC: yep, I’ve already put it in my DVR queue. I am a big “Joan-Ranger”…lol

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    Anne Laurie says:

    @Tim I: That was NOT ME, that was a quote from Hendrick Hertzberg!

    (I think Carter is the John Quincy Adams of the 20th century — a good man and a far better president than he got credit for, who’ll be best remembered for what he did other than his presidency.)

  83. 83
    Roger Moore says:

    @Tim I:

    Anne, I am very surprised to learn that you were Carter’s chief speech writer.

    She isn’t; she’s quoting from Hendrick Hertzberg, who was.

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    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @PsiFighter37: WEll, for TV, I’m still watching Big Bang Theory regularly. Finally gave up on 30 Rock — I couldn’t stand any of the characters except for Tina Fey’s and Alec Baldwin’s. A shame, because Baldwin can be LOL funny.

    Other than than, waiting for Game of Thrones to come back.

    Oh, and Firefly. The 8th season is just awesome. /sniff/

  85. 85
    Yutsano says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    Oh, and Firefly. The 8th season is just awesome. /sniff/

    Wow. You know how to wound a dude there. :)

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    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    So…Does this mean that Doug isn’t David Brooks’ sock-puppet?

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    PsiFighter37 says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason: ZOMGERs I cannot wait for GoT. Hooked on that shit.

    As for BBT, I watch the re-runs on TBS…it’s good, but it just basically integrates Jim Parson’s nerd personality into the show. Without it, I think the whole premise collapses.

  88. 88
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Yutsano: Yeah, that was a self-inflicted one, too.

    Watched “Browncoats Unite” the other night, with the cast and crew that met up for Comic Con and the other actors on video. Most interesting thing I learned was that one reason the season they shot was so good was that they knew they were under the gun for cancellation the whole time and everyone gave it everything they had.

    /sniff/ again.

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    JPL says:

    My first time to watch the red carpet and now they want me to hashtag. I’m to old for this …

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    handsmile says:

    @Robert:

    Enjoyed being introduced to your blog; I expect I’ll be poking about it more later.

    The concluding paragraph of your review on Amour (someone else here saw it!) was particularly lovely. Curious that the film received only a 9/10 rating; for comparison, what recent film(s) earned your 10/10?

    I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominations, save Life of Pi and Les Miserables. None were insulting (my sole remaining criterion for an American major release), several were far more than competent, and two (Amour, Lincoln) are masterpieces that will retain critical acclaim in the future. Disheartening to agree with your assessment that Argo will likely claim that Oscar, but these are the prizes of the motion picture industry after all. Beasts of the Southern Wild is a bold choice, but I expect not one shared (or even seen) by most Academy voters.

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    Mike E says:

    @PsiFighter37: Where did you wind up eating lunch in Philly?

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    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @patroclus: The Germans I saw Tinker Tailor with – who hadn’t seen the original film or read any of the books or even knew how the British intelligence service worked – understood it perfectly. They loved it.

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    rikyrah says:

    @raven:

    turkey

    turkey sandwiches

    turkey salad

    turkey soup

    turkey pot pies

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    Ed in NJ says:

    @Cacti:

    The Academy loves giving awards for directing to marginally talented actors.

    I’m sure you felt pretty smug typing that, but alas, Ben Affleck is not nominated for directing Argo.

    I haven’t seen any of the major nominees. But I did see Searching for Sugar Man. I don’t know whether it’s the best documentary this year, but I enjoyed it immensely. Rodriguez is certainly an intriguing character and it’s a fascinating story, although I’m guessing there’s a lot more about Rodriguez that probably wouldn’t fit the warm and fuzzy narrative.

  95. 95
    Robert says:

    @handsmile: Thanks for the kind words. I thought Amour was just a bit too self-indulgent with the pigeon scenes and perhaps lingered a bit too long to be a 10/10.

    My 2012 10/10 viewings were Beasts of the Southern Wild, Cloud Atlas, and The Grey. I make no apologies for my genre bias.

    I also need to update some site info to explain the scoring system anyway. 7/10 or better is a good film. 4-6/10 (like Hitchcock or Killer Joe) is an interesting but flawed film. 3/10 and below (like One for the Money or Bachelorette) is a bad film. Scoring films is entirely subjective, but I needed to institute a numerical system to be included in round-up sites like The LAMB (and now I’m one of their content editors).

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    Jane2 says:

    Argo was a good film with a crap Hollywood (totally made up) ending. Of the nominated films, “Django Unchained” is my favourite, and it’s a mystery why Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo diCaprio weren’t nominated. I will never see “Lincoln”. “Silver Linings Playbook” is, like Argo, a good film with crap Hollywood ending.

  97. 97
    eemom says:

    @handsmile:

    And since this recommendation was roundly ignored in an earlier thread today (harumph!), let me once again encourage all here to see the unforgettable film, Amour.

    Indeed it was NOT ignored. I rarely go to the movies anymore, but I am always looking for quality films to watch at home on weekend evenings with my lovely and talented daughter and/or husband (son’s taste in “quality” has a bit of evolving to do) when they become available on Itunes. I TOTALLY made a mental note to look for that one, as befits the honor of your recommendation.

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    WereBear says:

    @Jane2: Of the nominated films, “Django Unchained” is my favourite, and it’s a mystery why Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo diCaprio weren’t nominated.

    Not really. Oscar isn’t into the ol’ ultra-violence.

  99. 99
    Robert says:

    @Jane2: The issue is how the Django Unchained was campaigned. Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx are the leads. Had Waltz been campaigned as such, Leonardo DiCaprio would have been nominated for Supporting Actor. Waltz would have also gotten in for Lead.

  100. 100
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Violet:

    I used to be a lot more into it back when my friends and I were all single — cocktails and snarking back at the teevee makes the show very bearable.

    The big unscripted Oscar surprise I missed was when Ashley Judd wore a dress cut to the hip and didn’t realize that the low camera angle would reveal that she wasn’t wearing underwear. I heard about it when I got back from getting more chips and dip, but it was in the pre-internet days, so I didn’t get to see it on YouTube.

  101. 101
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    Finally gave up on 30 Rock — I couldn’t stand any of the characters except for Tina Fey’s and Alec Baldwin’s.

    I hate to tell you this …

  102. 102
    handsmile says:

    @eemom:

    That will have to suffice as balm for my pride.

    But do let me strongly suggest that Amour be watched by you and your husband alone, unless your daughter, lovely and talented as she may be, is not unduly discomfited by tear-stricken eeparents.

  103. 103
    hitchhiker says:

    I thought Silver Linings was a hot mess — mostly a vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence to show off her substantial & and wonderful edginess while wearing knockout sexy tight clothes. The movie itself just seemed predictable and ridiculous.

    Lincoln was amazing because of DD Lewis, but they should have cut the first and last 5 minutes or so. Helpful to have that history captured.

    Django gets my vote. Stayed in my head for days after I saw it, and not because of the hyper-bloodiness. Parody of our culture & full of truth that’s hard to tell.

    I enjoyed Argo a lot in spite of the Hollywood ending, which kind of spoils the point of getting so many historical details right. Affleck as a 70’s guy, with the hair and the pants, oh my.

    Zero Dark, well . . . good film-making. I have a family member who did interrogations in Iraq, so for me it’s too close in time and space to be objective about the content.

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    Hawes says:

    I have to say, the tiresome hating on Spielberg and Lincoln feels like Slate style contrarianism.

    Spielberg is a masterful craftsman. Few directors have an expansive a visual vocabulary as he does.

    Yes, he rounds the rough edges of some aspects of history in his “Eat this it’s good for you” films. I’ll take that over Tarantino’s gonzo-alt-history nonsense (and enjoy his work, too).

    If he does win, it will make up for Saving Private Ryan losing to Shakespeare in Love.

  105. 105
    WereBear says:

    @Hawes: Spielberg is a masterful craftsman. Few directors have an expansive a visual vocabulary as he does.

    Oh, he knows what he’s doing. But subtle is not his middle name.

    I’m fully aware that art is all about pressing my buttons, but I really dislike feeling every pore in the big fat fingertips while that is going on.

  106. 106
    opie_jeanne says:

    @patroclus: I went back and read the book again because I didn’t remember it at all when I saw the film, and then realized that what I probably read was “Smiley’s People” and not “Tinker,Tailor”.

  107. 107
    opie_jeanne says:

    @Robert: “One For The Money” was an abomination. I’m angry that I wasted the money on it because it could have been and should have been a terrific comedy. The casting was all so wrong and Katherine Heigl just destroyed the film.

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    Groucho48 says:

    Just switched the Oscars on after a mindless couple hours enjoying Red. Jennifer Garner looks like she is about to burst into tears. Has it been THAT bad?

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    double nickel says:

    @TD: Stan is a Canadian icon, but sadly died in a plane crash caused by someone smoking on board, back in 1983. AS for TV tonight, most Canucks were watching the Scotties Curling.

  110. 110

    @patroclus: I hadn’t read the book or seen the Guiness version but I had not trouble understanding it. The movie demanded undivided attention from the viewer, though, if you blinked you missed something important to the plot. For example, Smiley’s glasses tell you whether the scene on the screen, is a flashback or is unfolding right now.

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