94th Academy Awards Predictions

Wound up mostly picking the favorites, though almost none of the major awards are a lock for anyone this year. I’m counting on Dune to sweep the technical awards, otherwise I think there’s going to be a big mix of winning films. Maybe my biggest gamble is Best Original Song–looks like No Time to Die is poised to win, but I think the Academy is going to give Lin Manuel his EGOT.

Of the 38 total films nominated (not including the shorts), I wound up seeing only 15 of them before the awards show. And for the first time in years, I didn’t catch all 10 of the Best Picture nominees… only got 8.

Anyway, here’s the full list of my predictions. Correct predictions will be marked with “★”.

Best Motion Picture of the Year
Predicted Winner: Coda
Actual Winner: Coda

Achievement in Directing
Predicted Winner: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Actual Winner: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Predicted Winner: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Actual Winner: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Predicted Winner: Will Smith, King Richard
Actual Winner: Will Smith, King Richard

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Predicted Winner: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Actual Winner: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Predicted Winner: Troy Kotsur, Coda
Actual Winner: Troy Kotsur, Coda

Adapted Screenplay
Predicted Winner: Siân Heder, Coda
Actual Winner: Siân Heder, Coda

Original Screenplay
Predicted Winner: Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
Actual Winner: Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Achievement in Cinematography
Predicted Winner:  Greig Fraser, Dune
Actual Winner: Greig Fraser, Dune

Achievement in Costume Design
Predicted Winner: Jenny Beavan, Cruella
Actual Winner: Jenny Beavan, Cruella

Achievement in Film Editing
Predicted Winner: Joe Walker, Dune
Actual Winner: Joe Walker, Dune

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Predicted Winner: Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram, and Justin Raleigh, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Actual Winner: Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram, and Justin Raleigh, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Achievement in Production Design
Predicted Winner: Patrice Vermette and Zsuzsanna Sipos, Dune
Actual Winner: Patrice Vermette and Zsuzsanna Sipos, Dune

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
Predicted Winner: Hans Zimmer, Dune
Actual Winner: Hans Zimmer, Dune

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)
Predicted Winner: Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Dos Oruguitas,” Encanto
Actual Winner: Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, “No Time to Die,” No Time To Die

Achievement in Sound
Predicted Winner: Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill, and Ron Bartlett, Dune
Actual Winner: Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill, and Ron Bartlett, Dune

Achievement in Visual Effects
Predicted Winner: Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor, and Gerd Nefzer, Dune
Actual Winner: Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor, and Gerd Nefzer, Dune

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Predicted Winner: Encanto
Actual Winner: Encanto

Best Documentary Feature
Predicted Winner: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Actual Winner: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Best International Feature Film of the Year
Predicted Winner: Drive My Car
Actual Winner: Drive My Car

Best Animated Short Film
Predicted Winner: Robin Robin
Actual Winner: The Windshield Wiper

Best Documentary Short Subject
Predicted Winner: The Queen of Basketball
Actual Winner: The Queen of Basketball

Best Live Action Short Film
Predicted Winner: The Long Goodbye
Actual Winner: The Long Goodbye

Continue reading “94th Academy Awards Predictions”
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I got an AI neural network to write the next Foo Fighters album

I fed a neural network the title, track names, and lyrics for all of Foo Fighters’ ten studio albums. Thanks to Max Woolf’s Blog and his handy Google Colaboratory Notebook, getting the network to create new text was pretty easy. I’ll admit I’m very much a beginner, and clearly someone else has done all the programming legwork. But here it is, my AI-generated eleventh Foo Fighters album: These Misplaced Plans.

All text was generated through the tools above, though I have whittled it down to just the best parts and made some formatting changes. The processes were run multiple times with temperatures between 0.8 and 1.8.

Track 1: Whatever Happened To Me?

I have all run out of time
I'm thirsty for wings
I've waited here for you
Bet your life there's something down there
That's not there

You know there's nothing wrong with legs
You know there's something wrong with legs
'Cause you're so clingy
You're not alone
Not one of these days
You're the only one
Who's up in arms
People you've lost

Who you are
Who you are
Who you are
Who you are
Who you are to everyone
Everyone's a piece of shit

We're finished growing old
We're still young
We're not old
We're not even
Track 2: Girl Going Big

I waited out on high street
She doesn't speak
I waited her wind through the river
It faded, like a war wrapped around flowers
She went by a name
She crossed paths with the devil
One day she'll disappear

She's stuck within her will
She's forced to move
She communicates
She's cartoons just waiting for the light

Wish I would open a new line
Advertisements
Well I waited out on a row

I was kind of looking forward to something
Since one day I'll have to hand over the dishes
The dishes don't need turning
I laid back and waited
Wait until the cows are animals
Fame, fame, go away, go away, nothing

I walked by and she was talking about graffiti
Hanging on the wall
A jukebox full of Death Grips
She said she felt she'd been cheated
I said she must have been
Track 3: All I Ever Wanted Was A Hearse

Taught me the secrets I've kept
A jukebox miracle
The world is a pretty bright iron curtain
I'm a race with your arms around me

Find me some rope and I'll let you hang around
Anything can be undone
But here's the thing
If you want to
I'll give it to you
I say get on with your life
And change from inside your head

So when your big sister says you're not fit
She left your world behind and is changing again

Now you're looking for a complication
Someone to blame
I mean there's nothing wrong with that
Just make up your mind
I know you're still getting help
Looking for cause and effect
You don't have to use
You don't have to use
You don't have to use

Head full of evil but oh well
Just lookin' for a martyr
Just to bother you

But you're so considerate
You gave me hope
But there's much to be said

And since I'm beaming
One day I'll have enough to gamble
And bet I'll have enough to lose
Bet I'll have enough to gamble
Track 4: A Leading Role-Playing Game

I like black hole
I'm hanging on
I can see the black widow
I got high because
I'm hanging on

I remember dancing hard
Under the Dead Moon
Howling with you
Howling

Back and forth that singing voice of yours keeps coming back
Heavy metal you're me
Singing farewell
To hear you sang this goodbye

I'm the same as you
I'm the same as you

You're everything
You're everything
I'm everything

Stack dead actors, stacked walls, stacked gravestones
And they sing
They're called
Fame dies behind, fame looms
Trading photographs on the radio
Fake it all away

I'm the same as you
I'm the same as you

You're everything
You're everything
I'm everything

Stack dead actors, stacked walls, stacked gravestones
And they sing
They're called
Fame dies behind, fame looms
Trading photographs on the radio
Fake it all away

My closets are burning now
I want to return to you
I couldn't stay
It took all the space
And wind the ceiling

Stack dead actors, stacked walls, stacked gravestones
And they sing
They're called
Fame dies behind, fame looms
Trading photographs on the radio
Fake it all away
Track 5: Promise Not To Turn

You signed one note
There was your sweet lead
Dancing in the lost phone writer
If tomorrow brought colds and cancellations
You didn't cross my thumb
It's resigned to the much-maligned bruise
Wait until tomorrow to sign a lock of satin
And when they say lock, I double check
Like a spitball
Spit along it's core
Don't tune in
Not yet not yet

But anyway

Want a song even I can sing
It goes 'round and 'round and 'round again
I just hate to break it to you
Pretend there's nothing wrong
With that couldn't be
Comfortably indecent
Track 6: Asteroids

A heaven on fire
And then a Roma on fire
Read through their eyes
Then we sat around and drank ice tea
And read the Aurora pack
Then we sat around and watched the Aurora come and go
Slow watching
And then we shrugged
Wasting another night

We may perceive you
But the truth is, we're nights

We're hungry for war
'Cause both of us
Are mute
Only subjective experiences
Distorting the whole

We will come back
We hit the baubles
We paid the witnesses
We'll lie to get what we need
We were comedy liars

Grinning under the guise of change
Pure delusion
Distraction
So you can laugh at me
I lost my headlamp
And it saved me the trouble of arranging places
Here's a call to all my brain waves
Counting down to zero hour

We may gleefully gather then
Track 7: Era Songwriter

Look out 'cause you know it's there
Make it ring
Like a drug of desire
So synthetically known
If you need help there's something you can turn to

I may be teary in her lights
I may be numb with her songs
She thinks she knows me
But she's listening

Into the smoke to come
Like a plant that's won its punch
Out selfishly
You know what you can do

I can learn to sing
Pray it doesn't always sting
I cursed
Well I exchanged vows
And sat in a firing line
Wasn't stopped for a pronunciation mistake
'Cause I've been doin' it all my life

A little revenge for all the drinks
Wasn't enough to start a fire
But it's a bad cold
When you can take it away
Track 8: Past Rites

Well I've searched for suns vibrating inside them
Standing in the dark
The hardest part is knowing
Everything must die at sea

I approached
I considered
But canceled
I waited my turn
We'll lay low and suffer suffering
One by one, right?

Because tomorrow
I can put myself behind
If everything's erased
I have no regrets
I was wrong
I was right
Just walked through the room
Joining you now
Just change and leave

Because yesterday was a lie
Easy room promptly given
Knowledges all their lives
Now that they learn to live again
It's no use
I created a gigantic window
And sat in it howling mad

Here comes Bill
You unemployed Composer
You gotta make it right
Hey, you poor bastard
We need more, now
Send it through the grapevine

Did you drown me while I was listening
Hate it, hate it
Switch between the sprayed and the bereft
Shame it, shame it

Here were some other potential album titles:
– One Heavy Favor
– ‘Til Everything’s Alright
– Free the Blues
– Fractured Continents Circa 1780
– riffbaby
– Where Are All the Watters?
– 14 Monuments
– Monster Lullaby
– No Editor Remorse
– Yawn Brain

Review – The Tomorrow War

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This review contains spoilers

A few weeks back, Chris Pratt’s Instagram story promised me that The Tomorrow War was going to be my new favorite movie of all time. Now obviously I didn’t really believe him. But given Pratt’s charm, a competent director, and the $200 million price tag, I at least expected a fun Independence Day-esque popcorn flick. Instead, The Tomorrow War is a bland and uneven sci-fi bust.

Boiled down, The Tomorrow War is a time travel movie. 30ish years in the future, Earth is badly losing a war to alien invaders. The future humans’ plan: draft soldiers from the past and–through some barely-explained technolgoy–bring them to the future to fight their war. It’s an interesting concept and the film’s explanation of how they select draftees is actually pretty clever. The only people sent back in time are ones who haven’t been born yet, and the only ones sent to the future are ones who are already dead by then. It’s a pretty clever way to avoid certain time-travel paradoxes and sets up a promising mystery of how Pratt’s character meets an untimely fate.

But that’s about as far as the sensible logic goes. The movie makes it pretty clear that soldiers from the future can come back to the present, a time well before the alien war has started. Yet none of these soldiers seem to have any intention on preventing the war. You know, the most obvious and probably the easiest solution. I wanted to give the movie the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they’ve already tried that, maybe there’s a weird butterfly effect, or maybe the screenwriter just didn’t want to drive through Terminator territory. But no, eventually it’s revealed that bringing an alien poison back to the present day is the secret grand plan after all!

Still, decent action movies can overcome dumb plot logic through interesting character development. The audience learns pretty quickly that Pratt’s family-man character has a strained relationship with his own absent father, a mistake he’s determined not to make. Once he makes the jump to the future, he meets his now adult daughter who informs him that he eventually leaves his wife and daughter, causing another rift in the family. Add in the fact that his character soon dies in his natural timeline, and you’ve got a pretty compelling character-driven drama.

Unfortunately this, the most interesting aspect of the movie, is almost immediately dismissed. As soon as it’s set up, we learn that it was a car accident that kills him. The reasons for leaving his family go unanswered. And his relationship with his father is repaired by teaming up to kick some alien ass. It’s a ton of potential completely undermined by quick, convenient, and incomplete storytelling.

The movie does get a few things right. Chris Pratt continues to show that he has what it takes to be a leading man and grow beyond his goofball persona. The supporting cast makes the most of what they’re given, particularly J.K. Simmons as the estranged father and Sam Richardson as maybe the only one with a complete character arc. And the action is solid, especially in the third act. It’s a shame this big-budget movie was relegated to the small-screen. Sometimes dumb movies are just more fun and forgvable when seen in a loud, crowded theater.

The Tomorrow War is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

93rd Academy Awards Predictions

2020 was a weird year–no need to elaborate further. I think that’s going to translate to a weird, jumbled group of winners and a few notable upsets. Expect the biggest awards of the night to each go to a different movie. As always, my predictions are below and I’ll update with the actual winners as the night goes on.

Best Picture
Predicted Winner: The Trial of the Chicago 7
Actual Winner: Nomadland
Nomadland seems to be the overwhelming favorite to win. It’s garnered the most critical praise and has racked up an impressive list of awards already. And while the Academy has definitely embraced smaller indie pictures recently (see Moonlight and Parasite), Chicago 7 just seems to check off more of the boxes Best Picture winners seem to have. It’s well-crafted; it’s well acted; it’s political but not radical; it’s historical but timely. I think we’re going to see a Chicago 7 win a la Argo, Spotlight, or Green Book.

Best Director
Predicted Winner: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
Actual Winner: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
Considering how many different hands Chicago 7 passed through before it was finally made, there’s no way Best Director is going to my Best Picture prediction. With Nomadland, Chloe Zhao does an incredible job crafting a simple, but elegant film with big emotions. Having won virtually every other director award in the industry this year, she’s getting the Oscar too.

Best Actress
Predicted Winner: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
Actual Winner: Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Continuing my prediction that the biggest awards of the night are all going to different films, this is Promising Young Woman‘s best shot at an Oscar. The main character is both a traumatized, grieving friend and an anti-creep vigilante, while hiding both from those around her. Carey Mulligan is practically playing three different roles simultaneously, and she absolutely pulls it off.

Best Actor
Predicted Winner: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Actual Winner: Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Chadwick Boseman was bound to win an Oscar at some point, but with his tragic death last year, this will be his last chance. It’s certainly not a sympathy vote though, as it’ll be well-earned for his performance in Ma Rainey. But he also deserves it as a cap on an iconic, far-too-short career.

Best Supporting Actress
Predicted Winner: Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari
Actual Winner: Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari
Probably the most memorable performance of any this year.

Best Supporting Actor
Predicted Winner: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Actual Winner: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Rounding out my theory that the top 6 awards are all going to different films, Daniel Kaluuya seems to be the standout among the nominees. Normally two actors nominated in the same category for the same film cancel each other out, and no disrespect to LaKeith Stanfield, but Kaluuya is the star of this movie.

Continue reading “93rd Academy Awards Predictions”

Taco Jamz 2017

The year was 2005, and technology played by different rules. Texts cost a nickel a piece. You had to go to thefacebook.com. And if you wanted to listen to a custom music playlist, you pretty much had to burn a CD. Which is exactly what my then 8-year old brother asked me to do.

The request: to make him a mix with “the James Bond theme, the Pirates of the Caribbean theme, that one song from Shrek 2, and whatever else to fill up the CD. And call it Taco Jamz. With a Z.”

I honestly didn’t think too hard when I filled the remaining 65 minutes of the disc. Just stuff that I liked that was relatively family friendly. Jimmy Eat World, Foo Fighters, and soundbites from Homestar Runner. The CD became the soundtrack for the family road trip when I moved into the freshman dorm later that year. My folks ended up listening to the mix more than my brother did.

Taco Jamz became an annual tradition. While the name stayed the same, the content was more deliberately selected. Each mix became a recap of the year, featuring songs from recent movies, associated with cultural events, obscure references, or from bands someone in the family had just seen. I’d usually round it out with whatever neat stuff I was listening to at the time.

Below, I present the official playlist for Taco Jamz 2017. I’ll post 2018 and 2019 soon enough. And the 2020 mix will be released by Christmas. I never actually kept a copy of the original mixes for myself, but as soon as I can steal them back from my parents, I’ll be posting those as well.

Enjoy!

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