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.

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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.


James Bond Re-Watch: The Connery Era

With the release of ‘No Time To Die’ getting pushed back to November 2020 April 2021 October 2021, now seems like a good time to re-watch all 24 official James Bond movies. Might as well do something productive during quarantine, right? So below are my quick thoughts on each movie, rating both the film and the theme song on a 1-10 scale.

Dr. No
Re-watched: April 12, 2020

The first film based on Ian Fleming’s series of novels. It’s hard to watch this objectively without comparing it to all the films that followed. Sure, it introduces us to Bond himself and that theme song. But it’s slowly paced and it’s action sequences are underwhelming even for the time.

Movie: 6/10
Song: n/a

From Russia With Love
Re-watched: April 18, 2020

An improvement on Dr. No in almost every aspect. The plot unfolds in a much more engaging way, and actually has Bond acting as a Cold War-era spy. Enough lighthearted and humorous moments. Well-choreographed fight scenes, especially the brutal one on the train. But Connery’s Bond is still a creep, and can’t be dismissed just because of the time it was made.

Movie: 8/10
Song 6/10

Re-watched: May 7, 2020

Goldfinger is easily the best of the Connery era. Takes everything FRWL got right and adds a memorable villain and a legendary theme song. Bond is still a creep though, and it’s hard to imagine audiences even in 1964 looking past the barn scene. And Bond is still terrible at his job, getting captured at least three different times. But it’s the supporting cast and great action scenes that make this one a classic.

Movie: 9/10
Song: 10/10

Re-watched: May 23, 2020

Thunderball manages to solidify the Bond formula without feeling formulaic. The underwater scenes are the most ambitious action sequences yet. Another classic theme, too. I do have to mention that Connery’s Bond is still a total creep, though.

Movie: 8/10
Song: 8/10

You Only Live Twice
Re-watched: June 7, 2020

A spaceship that eats spaceships, a volcano lair, a secret ninja school, and the world’s least plausible disguise–You Only Live Twice is unrecognizably silly compared to the previous four entries in the Bond franchise. YOLT’s plot is barely anything more than strings connecting random action sequences. Mix in some casual racism with the usual sexism, and you wind up with the weakest entry in the franchise so far. On the plus side, Bond doesn’t sexually assault anyone in this one.

Movie: 3/10
Song: 3/10

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Re-watched: November 30, 2020

Coming off the ridiculousness that was YOLT, the relatively grounded OHMSS is a breath of fresh air, even if the specifics of Blofeld’s plan are still ludicrous. Lazenby holds his own as Bond. Add in some great action and a tragic ending, and it’s no surprise that this is the one the Craig-era movies borrow the most from.

Movie: 7/10
Song: 6/10

Diamonds Are Forever



92nd Academy Award Predictions

Doing it a little differently this year: going to do a “Will Win/Should Win” list. Whatever I have listed as “Will Win” means that’s what I think will win the award (and my pick for my various Oscars pools.). “Should Win” is my personal choice and what I’d have voted for if I was a member of the Academy. I’ll update with the actual winners after the show (★indicates correct prediction).

Best Picture
Will Win: 1917
Should Win: 
Actual Winner: Parasite

1917 is the safe bet: it’s a war movie, gorgeously shot, and has already won plenty of the other major awards this season. Parasite is the one that should win. Easily my favorite movie of last year, and the one that left the biggest impression. I’ve been describing it as a South Korean Coen Brothers’ movie: it’s a perfect blend of heartfelt drama, intense violence, and dark comedy. Though it’s ‘haves vs. have-nots’ theme transcends any cultural or language barriers, I don’t think the Academy is ready to award Best Picture to a non-English film.

Best Director
Will Win: Sam Mendes, 1917
Should Win: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
Actual Winner: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

Same rationale as above. Also, I can’t help but think the Academy voters category take into account the nominee’s full filmography (not just their nominated film) more so than any other category. With that, Mendes is the safe bet.

Best Actress
Will Win: Renée Zellweger, Judy
Should Win: Renée Zellweger, Judy
Actual Winner: Renée Zellweger, Judy

Honestly, I haven’t seen Judy yet. But from the trailers I’ve seen and the articles I’ve read, this should be a shoo-in.

Best Actor
Will Win: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Should Win: Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Actual Winner: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

I liked Joker, I really did. But it’s gotten way too much attention for no good reason. It’s not as controversial as some want you to think: it is an R-rated crime drama after all. Adults can handle moral ambiguity and glorified violence. And it’s not a particularly great take on the character of the Joker, either. It’s just the same angry white guy revenge fantasy we’ve seen in The King of Comedy, Falling DownFight Club, etc.–just dressed up as a clown. No, the real best actor this year was Adam Driver. Between The Rise of SkywalkerThe Report, and Marriage Story, Driver deserves at least an Oscar and a half. The supporting cast might have some of the more memorable moments, but it’s Driver’s performance alone that kept me from tuning out of what would otherwise have been a pretty boring movie.

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Should Win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Actual Winner: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said. Dern steals every scene she’s in. She’s cleaned up at all the other awards, and deservedly so.

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: 
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Should Win: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Actual Winner: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Another one that should be a shoo-in, not necessarily because of Pitt’s performance, but because of the lack of any real competition. Hanks as Fred Rogers is almost so on-the-nose it’s uncomfortable, Pesci and Pacino from The Irishman cancel each other out, and no one actually watched The Two PopesOnce Upon a Time in Hollywood was fun, and Pitt was the center of that fun. He deserves it.

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Yub Nub: A Star Wars Saga Podcast

A couple weeks before Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was released, my good friend Dave invited me to join him for a podcast to discuss all 9 Skywalker Saga films once we’d seen the final one. Barely a week after it’s release, Dave and I sat down for an epic eight-hour conversation about our favorite film franchise.

Dave’s done a great job editing our conversation into four episodes, each of which are streaming now.

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