Live Blogging the Golden Globes

January 16, 2011 Leave a comment

5:03 – Nice Tourist jab; Hint hint at Travolta’s fruitiness

5:07 – Christian Bale, looking my Charles Manson, wins Best Supporting Actor. Can’t disagree.

5:09 – Best Actress TV Drama, who gives a shit?

5:11 – Still nice to see Peggy Bundy win

5:19 – Nice to see Carlos win best miniseries or movie. Cut away to Tom Hanks clapping and talking very angrily. He’s not use to losing. All those World War Two HBO shows usually win everything.

5:23 – Best Supporting Actor in a TV Series, Made for TV Movie or Miniseries. WTF?

5:25 – There is a woman in that man.

5:34 – Odd colored beard on Dexter there.

5:35 – Buscemi!

5:39 – Shot of Jolie helping Pitt put his tie on. Yeah, that wasn’t perfectly timed for the camera.

5:49 – The Social Network wins for best score. Pretty fucking good for the Globes for calling that one right.

5:55 – That’s nice a little lesbian presenting best animated film.

6:00 – Downey needs to relapse again.

6:05 – Al Pacino scares me.

6:10 – Stallone has a massive human head and a small tiny body.

6:15 – Tilda Swinton and Geoffrey Rush make for an odd, fantastic couple.

6:25 – Tina Fey and Steve Carel were funnier presenting Best Screenplay than they were in Date Night

6:41 – Thank God Laura Linney isn’t there so I don’t have endure another boring ass speech

6:47 – Jane Fonda looks good for an old broad.

6:52 – Yeah, looks like Melissa Leo is gonna win the Oscar. Still think Jacki Weaver gave the better crazy mother performance of the year for Animal Kingdom.

7:03 – Yes let us all applaud for De Niro’s body of work except for Little Fockers and his last sixteen pictures

7:10- Enjoyed the hell out of De Niro channeling Rupert Pupkin during his acceptance speech.

7:15 – Best Director goes to David Fincher. Well deserved. Why isnt this show over yet?

7:16 – “A bitter man with lots of opinions” sounds a lot like me and every other douche who has a web site.

7:33 – Here comes Natalie Portman for Best Actress.

7:39 – Ricky Gervais doing a bang up job of insulting Tim Allen.

7:41 – Sad that they cut off Lisa Cholodenko. Nobody cares what the producer has to say.

7:47 – Weinstein finally wins something!

7:54 – Lets all get up and clap that Michael Douglas didn’t die from cancer! Is that all he did?

7:57 – I’m surprised that the most deserving movie, The Social Network won.

7:58 – Ricky Gervais line: “Thank you to God for making me an Athiest” literally made me laugh out loud. Great line to end the night.

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The Best Films of 2010

January 13, 2011 Leave a comment

With 2010 behind us, it’s time for my list of the ten best films released in the year 2010. All lists are subjective, and you will probably disagree with some of my choices. But who really cares what you think? Kidding. Without further ado, here are the best films of 2010:

1. The Social Network

Honestly, I had a hard time deciding my number one film of 2010. It could have easily been “Shutter Island.” Why “The Social Network” makes my number one slot is simple enough. I put the blu ray of the movie on and was only prepared to watch a bit of it, and suddenly I just couldn’t turn it off. The film is made with such mastery, that I couldn’t resist watching it again. I remember when this project was first announced in the Fall of 2008, many people thought a film about the founding of Facebook couldn’t possibly be good. Those nay sayers were dead wrong. David Fincher’s direction and Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay make for a dynamite combination. The actors are all on the top of their game. Jesse Eisenberg, as Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, is an enigma of a character who we simultaneously hate and feel sympathy for. Andrew Garfield is also good as the moral center of the film, and Justin Timberlake conveys the right amount of arrogance and charisma as the man who breaks up the Eisenberg Garfield friendship. Armie Hammer delivers a career making role playing the Winklevoss twins who sue Zuckerberg over Facebook. The film moves at a lightning pace; the editing and fast talking dialogue never deliver a false note. If any film this year could be called perfect, this film could be it.

2. Shutter Island

I named Martin Scorsese’s film the best film I had seen so far back in August of 2010, and it only falls down one slot months later. The film, about a U.S. Marshal who searches for an escaped mental patient, divided audiences and critics alike when it came out last February. Many discounted the film because of the false narrative of the story. Others, including myself, may have found the narrative false, but the emotions and truth behind it, to be incredibly moving. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the U.S. Marshal, who is deeply haunted by the death of his wife, while he searches the island for the escape mental patient. When his character finally confronts his haunted past, it felt like an emotional punch to the stomach. I literally left the theatre in a trance like state after the film’ s resolution. There is wonderful filmmaking on display from Scorsese and his regular crew composed of Thelma Schoonmaker, Robert Richardson and Dante Ferretti. This is the kind of picture that you can watch multiple times and find new meanings in each scene.

3. Animal Kingdom

This is a terrific feature film debut from Australian writer-director David Michod. A young seventeen old boy, played by James Frechville, gets caught in the middle of a war between his criminal family of Uncles and a group of corrupt Australian police. The title of the movie is appropriate because Frechville is literally struggling for his own survival between the two. The film features great performances from Ben Mendelsohn as Frechville’s insane Uncle Pope, and Jacki Weaver, as the matriarch of the family. I can’t begin to say too many great things about Weaver. She is terrifying, but she underplays it. She comes across as simply a mother who will do ANYTHING to protect her sons. I was on edge watching this film because just when you thought it was going one place, it goes in another direction. The film doesn’t glorify the criminal lifestyle, but it shows us the terrifying consequences that everyone in this family must pay. I can’t wait to see what Michod has to offer next.

4. Somewhere

Sofia Coppola has been one of my favorite filmmakers ever since her sophomore feature, “Lost In Translation” came out in 2003. What I loved about that film and her new film, “Somewhere,” is how she is completely a visual filmmaker. She uses the image to tell us everything about the characters and the atmosphere of the story. In her latest film, Stephen Dorff plays Johnny Marco, a Hollywood action film star who lives an empty life of excess at the Chateau Marmont. His lifestyle is changed when his eleven year old daughter, played by Elle Fanning, arrives. Both lead actors are pretty damn great here. Dorff easily conveys a real sense of emptiness and loss in just his body behavior. Elle Fanning as Cleo, is a remarkably smart young lady, who managed to grow up normal within the crazy atmosphere of the Hollywood lifestyle. Coppola doesn’t condemn the celebrity lifestyle outright, instead she shows us the ridiculousness and appeal of it. This film is Coppola’s most minimalis to date. There is no real traditional story line present in the picture. Coppola simply uses the visuals to tell the story of a man who is able to find some measure of truth amidst his empty life.

5. Inception

Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” was the lone standout in the shit storm of big budget, disappointing tent pole films released in summer 2010. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a con man who is able to enter people’s dreams and steals their ideas. The plot at first glance, may seem confusing, but it’s rather quite simply. The film simply demands the audience be an active participant, which is something that most mainstream Hollywood blockbusters never ask of their audience. Nolan raises the stakes of the film as we go deeper and deeper into the layers of dreams that DiCaprio and his crew dwell into. Though structured as a heist film, the film’s emotional core of DiCaprio reeling over his dead wife, played by Marion Cotillard, is what makes the film memorable. The picture’s incredibly level of craftsmanship, the terrific musical score by Hans Zimmer and the boldness of the screenplay’s originality make this one of the most exciting films to come out of a major studio in some time.

6. True Grit

This film is probably Joel and Ethan Coen’s most sincere film to date. This story centers on thirteen year old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), who searches for the man that killed her father, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Mattie is assisted in her journey by a U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and a Texas Ranger named La Beouf (Matt Damon). Among the great level of A-list talent in the film, the film is really held together by the performance of Steinfeld. She more than holds her own against Bridges, Damon and Brolin. She isn’t the rambunctious little girl we sometimes see in films, but she is a hardened person who has experienced a lot despite her youth. Bridges perfectly inhabits the role of the drunken, rough Cogburn and Damon is the perfect comic foil to Cogburn. This movie feels like a traditional Western we would have seen from Ford or Hawks. The last fifteen minutes of the film is just bravura filmmaking. The Western imagery captured by cinematographer Roger Deakins is breathtaking. The Coen’s always fill their films with interesting faces, and I love all the character that we meet in this film. A mysterious, strange encounter with a doctor wearing a bear suit comes to mind. I left the theatre wanting to spend a lot more time these characters.

7. A Prophet

I was not going to list this film on my top ten of 2010 because I originally counted it as a 2009 release. But since the film didn’t get a U.S. theatrical release until 2010, I’ve decided to put it on my list. This French film from director Jacques Audiard, is about a half French, half Arab man who is sent to a French prison and slowly rises up the ranks inside to become a mafia kingpin. Tahar Rahim, who plays the young man, Malik, is terrific here. He has a magnetic movie star quality to him. He has the potential to become a big movie star that can actually act. That’s a deadly combination. Audiard does a very good job of showing us the life and death stakes that Rahim encounters inside the prison. I’m specifically thinking of the scene where Rahim has to commit his first murder using a strategically placed razor blade. That scene is so masterfully constructed that it leaves you on the edge of your seat. The film has been compared to “The Godfather” and after watching it, you’re going to understand why people are comparing it to that great film.

8. Black Swan

It took me a second viewing to take in everything that this film had to offer. During my first viewing, I was impressed technically with the picture, but I was a bit turned off by some of the fake scares that occur during the film. On my second viewing, my appreciation of the film grew even more and I was even more impressed with the performance of Natalie Portman. The film is an examination of Portman’s descent into madness as she prepares for the lead role in the ballet production of Swan Lake. This is without a doubt the most intense, fearless performance that Portman has ever given. You feel the pressure literally pounding down on her, it’s all present in her body and face. Director Darren Aronfosky shoots the film with a gritty realism that flies in the face of the psychological fantasy elements present in the story. The climax of the film occurs during the production of the “Swan Lake” ballet and when Portman transforms into the black swan, it’s quite extraordinary to see. I love how the camera glides during the ballet and allows us to see Portman let go of all her inhibitions. The cinematography in the film by Matthew Libatique is quite extraordinary here.

9. Catfish

There was a lot of buzz surrounding this documentary when it premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. People who saw the film at Sundance recommended that people should go into the film knowing as little as possible. I took that advice and was really surprised at the griping story this documentary told. The documentary follows a young New York photographer, Nev Schulman,who develops a romantic relationship with a girl through Facebook. Schulaman begins to develop suspicions that something is not quite right with the young woman. Nev, along the films directors, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, document the journey the three of them take to meet the girl in person. There has been alot of controversy surrounding whether this film is a complete fake. Regardless of that issue, there is no denying that this is a great story. The film builds a lot of suspense building up the Nev’s meeting with the girl. When the story’s truth is revealed, it is sad, uncomfortable and touching at the same time.

10. The American

This film, directed by Anton Corbijn, stars George Clooney as a professional assassin that specializes in building weapons intended for death. He lives a solitary, empty life in the shadows and Clooney soon finds his own life threatened by a mysterious figure. I really enjoyed the hell out of this picture. I was immensely impressed with what is essentially an art film that could have come out of the 1970’s. The crowd I saw the film with seemed very unimpressed. It wasn’t the movie they were expecting. This probably has to do with the film’s marketing that emphasized the action. The film is very minimalist and not every story detail is neatly explained to the audience. There are long stretches of silence that do an excellent job of building suspense. Give the film a fair chance and you might come out being totally impressed at the level of craft and expertise that went into this film.

Rounding out my top 25:

11) The Kids Are Alright 12) 127 Hours 13) Exit Through The Gift Shop 14) I Am Love 15) Rabbit Hole 16) The Tillman Story 17) The King’s Speech 18) Restrepo 19) Cyrus 20) Blue Valentine 21) Toy Story 3 22) The Fighter 23) Winter’s Bone 24) Inside Job 25) Never Let Me Go

2010 in review

January 2, 2011 Leave a comment

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2010. That’s about 31 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 47 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 63 posts. There were 156 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 10mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was December 9th with 289 views. The most popular post that day was AFI Fest 2010 Review: The Fighter.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were imdb.com, twitter.com, pro.imdb.com, boxxet.com, and en.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for nine film, precious movie, crazy heart, marion cotillard nine, and roger ebert.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

AFI Fest 2010 Review: The Fighter November 2010

2

Review Roundup: Brothers, A Single Man, Nine January 2010
1 comment

3

Best Lead Performances of 2009 January 2010

4

Top 10 Films of 2009 December 2009
1 comment

5

Best Supporting Performances of 2009 January 2010
1 comment

Categories: News

Golden Globe Nomination Reactions

December 15, 2010 Leave a comment

“The King’s Speech” took home the most Golden Globe nominations with seven. “The Fighter” and “The Social Network” both came in second, with six nominations each.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which are responsible for the Globes, have long been considered a joke because it is made up of 90 foreign journalists, who are not really journalists. A lot of people, including myself, don’t treat the Globes very seriously.

It’s no surprise that “The King’s Speech” led the way in nominations, it’s just the type of film that the Globes would go for. The surprise showing for “The Fighter” could mean that it has a bigger presence in the awards season than I first thought. I was surprised to see Mark Wahlberg and David O. Russell each get a nomination.

The Golden Globes split best picture into a drama and comedy/musical category. “The Kids Are All Right” should easily win the best comedy/musical award. It’s competition, including the terribly reviewed “The Tourist,” really has no shot of winning. I haven’t seen “The Tourist,” but I heard it was a horrible, and the nominations for Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie for their performances in the film, seems like a play for high profile celebrities to attend the event.

I think that “The King’s Speech” will win the best drama award. There is a small chance that “The Social Network” could eak out a victory. I still think that a Social Network loss would not stop its march to the best picture Oscar. Last year, “Avatar” beat “The Hurt Locker,” but we all know how that turned out when Oscar night came.

Some noticeable exclusions from the Golden Globes include “True Grit.” I wouldn’t be too worried about this snub being a forecast for the film’s Oscar chances. I’ve heard speculation that since “True Grit” and “The Fighter” are both from Paramount, the Globes simply threw its weight behind “The Fighter” and that it left nothing for “True Grit.”

Speaking of noticeable exclusions, Robert Duvall didn’t get nominated for “Get Low” and Leonardo DiCaprio was snubbed for both “Shutter Island” and “Inception.” “Winter’s Bone,” and “127 Hours” were also ignored for a best picture nomination.

Other noticeable things that I enjoyed seeing were Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams getting nominated for best actor and actress for “Blue Valentine.” I was also extremely happy to see Jacki Weaver get nominated for her terrific performance in “Animal Kingdom.”

Here is a list of the films nominated for Golden Globes. I’m not listing the TV side because I don’t give a damn. This is a film blog.

Best Picture (Drama)
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“Inception”
“The King’s Speech”
“The Social Network”

Best Picture (Musical/Comedy)
“Alice in Wonderland”
“Burlesque”
“The Kids Are All Right”
“Red”
“The Tourist”

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”
David O. Russell, “The Fighter”
Christopher Nolan, “Inception”
Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”
David Fincher, “The Social Network”

Best Actor (Drama)
Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
James Franco, “127 Hours”
Ryan Gosling, “Blue Valentine”
Mark Wahlberg, “The Fighter”

Best Actress (Drama)
Halle Berry, “Frankie and Alice”
Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine”

Best Actor (Musical/Comedy)
Johnny Depp, “Alice in Wonderland”
Johnny Depp, “The Tourist”
Paul Giamatti, “Barney’s Version”
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Love and Other Drugs”
Kevin Spacey, “Casino Jack”

Best Actress (Musical/Comedy)
Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”
Anne Hathaway, “Love and Other Drugs”
Angelina Jolie, “The Tourist”
Julianne Moore, “The Kids Are All Right”
Emma Stone, “Easy A”

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
Michael Douglas, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”
Andrew Garfield, “The Social Network”
Jeremy Renner, “The Town”
Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”
Mila Kunis, “Black Swan”
Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”

Best Screenplay
Christopher Nolan, “Inception”
Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, “The Kids Are All Right”
David Seidler, “The King’s Speech”
Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, “127 Hours”
Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”

Best Foreign Language Film
“Biutiful”
“The Concert”
“The Edge”
“I Am Love”
“In a Better World”

Best Animated Feature
“Despicable Me”
“How to Train Your Dragon”
“The Illusionist”
“Tangled”
“Toy Story 3”

Best Original Score
Danny Elfman, “Alice in Wonderland”
Hans Zimmer, “Inception”
Alexandre Desplat, “The King’s Speech”
A.R. Rahman, “127 Hours”
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, “The Social Network”

Best Original Song
“Bound to You” from “Burlesque”
“You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” from “Burlesque”
“There’s a Place for Us” from “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”
“Coming Home” from “Country Strong”
“I See the Light” from “Tangled”

The Social Network Keeps Racking up the Critics Awards

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

As I correctly predicted, “The Social Network,” swept the best picture awards from the Los Angeles and New York film critic groups. The film also racked up best picture honors from critics groups in Toronto, San Diego, Boston, Washington D.C. and the Southeastern Film Critics, whatever the hell that group consists of.

All of these critical wins helps propel “The Social Network” to the front-runner position at the Oscars. Last year, “The Hurt Locker” nearly swept all the major film critic awards and that helped it win the best picture Oscar over the highest grossing movie of all time, “Avatar.” The general consensus among award sites was that “The King’s Speech” would win best picture. I still think that “The King’s Speech” will be a formidable contender and it should do well when the Golden Globes are announced. Now that “The Social Network” is racking up these wins, expect a backlash against the film to begin.

Other than “The Social Network” and David Fincher winning the critics awards for picture and director, there isn’t much of a consensus in the other categories. We will have to wait until the Golden Globes and the guild awards announce their winners next year to get a clearer picture of where things stand. Colin Firth is probably the front-runner for best actor. Natalie Portman hasn’t emerged as the front-runner for best actress, and Annette Benning, and “The Kids Are All Right” received a much-needed boost from the New York Film Critics Circle. The best supporting actor contest appears to be a two-way race between Christian Bale from “The Fighter” and Geoffrey Rush from “The King’s Speech.” The best supporting actress contest is a wide open field with Jackie Weaver from “Animal Kingdom,” Hailee Stanfield from “True Grit,” and Amy Adams and Melissa Leo from “The Fighter,” all competing for the Oscar.

This site from Incontention.com is a great resource for keeping up with all the award mania occurring at the moment.

The National Board of Review Likes The Social Network

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

“The Social Network” was the big winner at The National Board of Review today. It won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The National Board of Review is seen as the “official” start of awards season. The group usually faces criticism because it is made up of people who are not critics. Last year’s winner for Best Picture was “Up in the Air,” but the film fizzled at the Oscars, losing Best Picture to “The Hurt Locker.” In 2007 and 2008, the group awarded Best Picture to “No Country for Old Men” and “Slumdog Millionaire,” both films won the top Oscar.

I’m glad that “The Social Network” won big and I think this could possibly be the start of a string of victories. The New York and Los Angeles film critics announce their award winners on Sunday, and I think there is a strong possibility that “The Social Network” could win Best Picture at both those critics’ groups. I’m still skeptical of calling “The Social Network” the front runner for the Oscars. It’s main competition is “The King’s Speech,” which got shut out of by the Board.

Lesley Manville winning Best Actress for Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” was a complete surprise. Presumed front runners Natalie Portman and Annette Bening were expected to win. I haven’t seen “Another Year,” but I suspect that Portman and Bening remain the front runners for the Best Actress Oscar.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Christian Bale win Best Supporting Actor for “The Fighter” and Jacki Weaver win Best Supporting Actress for “Animal Kingdom.” Both gave great performances in their respected film and deserved the victory. I’m only surprised because sometimes great work is overlooked.

Speaking of overlooked, “Black Swan,” “The Kids Are All Right,” and “127 Hours,” didn’t receive a single notice from The National Board of Review.

Here is a full list of all the winners:

Best Film: “The Social Network”
Best Director: David Fincher, “The Social Network”
Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
Best Actress: Lesley Manville, “Another Year”
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
Best Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”
Best Foreign Film: “Of Gods and Men”
Best Documentary: “Waiting For Superman”
Best Animated Feature: “Toy Story 3″
Best Ensemble Cast: “The Town”
Breakthrough Performance: Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
Spotlight Award for Best Directorial Debut: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, “Restrepo”
Best Original Screenplay: Chris Sparling, “Buried”
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”
Special Filmmaking Achievement Award: Sofia Coppola, for for writing, directing, and producing “Somewhere”
William K. Everson Film History Award: Leonard Maltin
NBR Freedom of Expression: “Fair Game,” “Conviction,” “Howl”
Top Ten Films (In alphabetical order): “Another Year,” “The Fighter,” “Hereafter,” “Inception,” “The King’s Speech,” “Shutter Island,” “The Town,” “Toy Story 3,” “True Grit,” “Winter’s Bone”
Top Ten Independent Films (In alphabetical order): “Animal Kingdom,” “Buried,” “Fish Tank,” “The Ghost Writer,” “Greenberg,” “Let Me In,” “Monsters,” “Please Give,” “Somewhere,” “Youth in Revolt”
Top Five Foreign Films (In alphabetical order): “I Am Love,” “Incendies,” “Life, Above All,” “Soul Kitchen,” “White Material”
Top Five Documentary Films (In alphabetical order): “A Film Unfinished,” “Inside Job,” “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” “Restrepo,” “The Tillman Story”

James Franco & Anne Hathaway to Host The 83rd Annual Academy Awards

November 29, 2010 Leave a comment

The big news today was that James Franco and Anne Hathaway have been chosen to host the 83rd Annual Academy Awards.

Deadline broke the news this morning and the Academy later confirmed the news. This is definitely an out of left field choice, and an obvious play by the Academy to reach out to younger viewers. I’m not sure that Franco and Hathaway are big enough stars to attract a youthful viewership. Regardless, I’m looking forward to see what the two of them can bring to the hosting gig.

Franco and Hathaway are both incredibly talented performers and at least one of them, Franco, has a real shot of being nominated. Franco, in my opinion, is a lock for a Best Actor nomination for “127 Hours.” It would certainly be an interesting dynamic to see a nominated actor host the show itself. The last time an Oscar nominee hosted the show was Paul Hogan, for co-writing “Crocodile Dundee” in 1986.

I just hope that this upcoming Oscars telecast is a better put together show than last year’s debacle.