Hollywood’s Super Bowl: Could It Possibly Be Better Than The Real Thing?

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My, how fast a monthlong writing hiatus goes by.

When I last left you, I was picking the Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl. A fitting end to a season of football picks that hit rock bottom about five times and never hovered much above it.

Since my last post was about the real Super Bowl, I figure I’ll kick off my comeback tour with a running timeline of the Super Bowl of Entertainment…The Oscars of course.

And who wouldn’t want to read all about Hollywood’s favorite self-congratulatory night from someone who’s actually in the industry?

As with any Super Bowl viewing, the action doesn’t begin at kickoff. It starts with an unforgettable pregame show to get the juices flowing. Let’s see what went on during ABC’s 90-minute Red Carpet broadcast:

  • 4:02-4:06pm (PST): We begin with three interviews that all land on the bizarre scale: Sidney Poitier can’t hear a damn thing the interviewer is asking so he vaguely tells us how “things are different than they used to be;” then Viola Davis and her husband tell ABC that they don’t do date night at the movies…they do date night by getting freaky in the hot tub (paraphrasing); and finally, June Squibb, the 84-year-old Best Supporting Actress nominee, tells us about her days as a stripper…or her days playing the role of a stripper. I can’t remember which it was. All I know is this event is giving off a strong elderly sex vibe already.
  • 4:12-4:14pm: ABC apparently gets the ship back on course as they do back-to-back interviews with people we’d much rather associate with a hot tub, Amy Adams and Anna Kendrick. Adams made the crucial mistake of not continuing her side boob dominance over the rest of the female population, opting instead for a dress that shows off only the standard top boob.
  • 4:15pm: Sally Hawkins, a nominee I’ve never heard of, shows up in what I’m guessing is the same dress my grandmother wore at her wedding in the late 1940s. You couldn’t cover more skin with ugly lace if you were trying to win a bet.
  • 4:20pm: A very pregnant Kerry Washington reminds me that as luck would have it, roughly 27 of mine and my girlfriend’s friends are currently expecting a baby. This is particularly insane and if it’s this year’s version of “everyone’s getting married,” consider me not on board. It’s just difficult to keep up with. So I’m proposing that from now own, my friends whose last name begins with A-M are allowed to have a baby only on even years, and my friends whose last name begins with N-Z have dibs on the odd years.
  • 4:23pm: You know why DVR exists? So I can skip over a taped piece called “how a handbag became such an important character in the movie Blue Jasmine.” Seriously.
  • 4:30pm: ABC runs a slow motion replay/montage of all the people who have been interviewed over the first 30 minutes of the broadcast. Why? We already need to be reminded of those four atrocious Q&A’s?
  • 4:31pm: Ahh, and finally we’ve reached the portion of the show titled “People I’ve told my girlfriend I’d leave her for.” Enter Jennifer Lawrence.
  • 4:33pm: ABC shows a clip of actors talking about their first time getting nominated. Wait, thee only explanation for Christopher Walken’s appearance is that the producers literally just dug him out of a grave, slightly brushed him off and stuck him in front of a camera. Don’t believe me? See for yourself:

Christopher Walken

  • 4:51pm: Thank god, I thought the awkward interviews were over after the first half hour. But here’s Jamie Foxx telling the world that his daughter, who he’s here with, is 20 years old and showing a lot of leg. Thanks for pointing that out, Jamie.
  • 4:53pm: Jared Leto is maybe the most naturally beautiful woman to walk the red carpet so far tonight (I just want everyone to know I made this joke roughly 40 minutes before Ellen did).
  • 4:55pm: I’m pretty sure Tyson Beckford is doing a horrible job as ABC’s fashion correspondent, and it’s confirmed when my girlfriend finally starts paying attention to the broadcast and rips him to shreds. Can’t blame her considering Beckford’s most insightful statement so far is “We’ve got Matthew McConaughey’s wife in a nice pink dress, and we’ve got Sandra Bullock in nice blue dress.” Groundbreaking work.
  • 5:17pm: This is so boring. Why would anyone watch this? Now they’re showing a montage of how this area of Hollywood was made ready during the rainy LA weekend. Which reminds me, I’d be willing to bet my prize-winning dog on Ellen’s opening joke being a poke at how everyone in LA is reacting to this rare monsoon.
  • 5:19pm: Here’s a good idea, let’s interview the guy who’s singlehandedly responsible for tonight’s ceremony about five minutes before it starts. I’m sure he’ll be nice & relaxed, casual, natural…as a single stream of urine slowly drips down his leg.

So basically, this pregame show was just as compelling as every sports pregame show. What a waste.

Let’s blast through the timeline during the three-hour broadcast of the actual awards ceremony:

  • 5:32pm: Aaaand we’re off…and ChaChing! As expected, the very first thing Ellen jokes about is the rain. We celebrities are a predictable people.
  • 5:39pm: Ellen finishes her seven-minute opening monologue with this killer line: “Possibility #1 is that 12 Years A Slave Wins. Possibility #2 is that you’re all racists.” She might earn herself permanent Oscar hosting duties tonight.
  • 5:41pm: Jared Leto is our first winner (Supporting Actor), and makes every other winner not want to give a speech the rest of the night because he gives the greatest “thank you, Mom “speech ever.
  • 5:43pm: ….And he’s still going, moving over to politics (thanking people in Ukraine & Venezuela) and then to actual thank you’s for his colleagues.
  • 5:44pm: ….And he’s wrapping it up with a political stand on AIDS. He really covered everything he cares about in this world, apparently.
  • 5:48pm: Jim Carrey makes a good LSD joke, the camera catches Bono laughing, he realizes the camera’s on him, he abruptly stops laughing. How dare we think he has a sense of humor.
  • 5:50pm: Brief aside: During the animation montage, there’s a quick clip of Fantasia. Listen, how could you sleep at night if you made that movie? A children’s movie featuring the most famous cartoon character in history and not a single word is uttered the entire time??? I’m still stewing over the time my Mom let me rent this at Blockbuster and I cried for 75 straight minutes while waiting for Minnie Mouse, Goofy and others to show up and start interacting with Mickey. That movie will haunt me for life.
  • 5:58pm: Seeing these celebrities not be able to connect on the single cheek kiss or the double cheek kiss makes me so happy. I thought I was the only one who could never read that situation properly.
  • 6:50pm: That 60-minute gap in my timeline is due to the producers running through 11 categories that no one could possibly care about. Would it kill them to mix in one popular category every 30 minutes or so?
  • 6:52pm: This seems like a good time to clarify my “read about The Oscars from someone who’s in the industry” comment, especially to new readers. I should have written “from someone who lives in the city where the industry is headquartered.”
  • 6:57pm: U2  performs and it’s not very exciting. How could The Oscars get this wrong? You elevate any bad awards show musical performance by planting Taylor Swift in the audience and panning to her overdancing repeatedly.
  • 7:47pm: This installment of The Oscars is dedicated/themed around Heroes In Movies…and by definition, every single movie ever made has a hero. So The Oscars were dedicated to movies? Way to go out on a limb with the theme.
  • 8:30pm: Turns out a run on relevant categories isn’t that much more exciting than the irrelevant categories.
  • 8:58pm: The night ends with 12 Years A Slave winning the coveted Best Picture category.

I think we need to split up the Best Picture category. One award should be for “the movie we enjoyed so much that we’ll probably watch it over & over for the next few years” (That’s my definition of Best Picture, which is why American Hustle got my vote). The other award should be: “The best ‘well done yet difficult to watch’ film.” Pretty self-explanatory. I think most Best Pictures land in this latter category and I hate it.

It turns out Hollywood’s version of the Super Bowl is about as entertaining as watching Peyton Manning compete in the real Super Bowl. Not sure which Super Bowl over this past month was the bigger waste of time.

Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Movies: Handicapping the Oscars & Your Guide to the Best Movies of 2012

It’s February 15th and that means The 2013 Oscars are looming. It’s that time of year when all you people who didn’t see a single movie in the last 12 months—because you were too busy holding down a job, raising your kids, spending your time and money on something more fulfilling than “sitting in a theater while consuming 4,700 calories of grease, butter and sugar”—start scrambling to watch as many Oscar-nominated films as possible.

If you’re someone who thinks “Life of Pi” is a movie about the mathematician who came up with that confusing 3.14 number, or you think “Amour” is a romantic comedy about a man and a woman falling in love at a yard sale where they both tried to buy an antique piece of furniture, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

With so many different films and actors nominated it’s impractical to try to see it all. So which movies do you prioritize? Lucky for you this article includes a worst-to-best ranking of the 19 movies I saw in 2012. I have great taste in movies so just follow my list blindly and you won’t be disappointed.

But Oscar season isn’t just about seeing as many good movies as possible. It’s about predicting who will win each major award even though none of us know the first thing about acting, directing, adapting or costume designing. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun to argue with a friend that “Tommy Lee Jones should never win any award because he’s such an asshole in real life.”

For the readers who are gamblers at heart, you’ll be happy to know that many betting websites allow you to bet on who will win each of the major Oscar awards. So of course in this article I’ll provide you the odds of the favorite in each category as well as a long shot that I like.

So let’s rip through the important Oscar categories real quick so you know what films to see in the next nine days, either by going to the movie theater or re-organizing your Netflix queue. I’ll make some very subjective comments next to the movies I’ve seen, and perhaps next to some of the movies I haven’t seen. (Disclaimer: I haven’t seen all the movies that are relevant to the Oscars. I’ve only seen the ones I thought I might actually enjoy.)

BEST PICTURE

  • Amour: I haven’t seen it. When “elderly” and “love story” are used in a movie’s synopsis, you can just about guarantee that I’ll never watch it.
  • Argo: A great movie where the story is a lot more memorable than the acting. Awesome job mixing in some light, humorous moments in an otherwise very serious plot. If there was a “fan favorite” Oscar award, this would probably win (or be a close runner-up to “Silver Linings Playbook”).
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild: This movie arrived via Netflix over a week ago and it’s been sitting on my coffee table gathering dust ever since. I just don’t think I’m going to like it very much. I hear the little girl who’s nominated for Best Actress is incredible, but I don’t typically watch movies for just one individual acting performance.
  • Django Unchained: During the first 30 minutes of this movie, I was worried it was going to be one of Quentin Tarantino’s worst films. It turned out to be one of his best. There’s no other way to describe it other than to say “it was just a fun movie to watch.” Such an enjoyable movie with some awesome acting performances (which we’ll talk about it in a minute). I’m rooting for this one to win even though I know it won’t.
  • Les Miserables: I can’t even correctly pronounce this movie’s name, and I heard a crazy rumor that it’s a musical. I doubt I’ll ever see it.
  • Life of Pi: Another movie I haven’t seen, mostly because in the previews the tiger on the raft didn’t look real enough to me.
  • Lincoln: I heard that the Academy would only allow one Lincoln film into the Best Picture category this year, and Spielberg’s “Lincoln” only narrowly beat out “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” All jokes aside, this movie was surprisingly great. I say surprisingly because it’s essentially 150 minutes of 19th century politicians blathering on about amendments and slavery. The fact that this film held my attention should automatically put it in the lead for Best Picture.
  • Silver Linings Playbook: Loved it. It might be the movie I re-watch the most out of all the Best Picture nominations. But it’s pretty much a romantic comedy (even if it is a well-disguised romantic comedy). I don’t want “Silver Linings” to win and set the precedent that if all of Jennifer Aniston and Kate Hudson’s future movies just include a few more plot twists, they’ll suddenly be Oscar worthy.
  • Zero Dark Thirty: Better than “The Hurt Locker,” which was Kathryn Bigelow’s previous movie that won Best Picture. But up against much tougher competition than “Locker” faced in 2010. Best edge-of-your-seat, hold-your-breath story of all the nominees. And c’mon, it ends with the killing of bin Laden.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Argo (1/5 odds)

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Amour (100/1 odds)…Because the Oscars love picking the boring, stuffy, old people-bait movies. Just like “The Artist” did last year, an “Amour” win will set movies back 100 years.

(A quick side note: How interesting that this year featured three movies where the audience knew the ending of the story with 100% certainty before walking into the theater (Lincoln, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty). And yet, they were three of the best movies, and one of them is probably winning Best Picture. Somehow these movies were able to keep me in suspense the entire time even though there was zero chance for a surprise ending. Incredible work by everyone who made these three films.)

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Michael Haneke (Amour): I don’t have a goddamn clue if he did a good job directing.
  • Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild): I’m going to assume he did a good job because he coaxed a Best Actress performance out of a nine-year-old.
  • Ang Lee (Life of Pi): Apparently there’s an unspoken rule in Hollywood that says you should stay away from using children, animals and large bodies of water in your movie. Something about any of those three variables making things much more difficult. And yet all three were major players in “Life of Pi.” I haven’t seen it yet, but if people voted in this category based on “biggest headaches overcome,” I bet Lee has a great chance to win.
  • Steven Spielberg (Lincoln): Spielberg isn’t quite the lock for directing as his lead actor is for that category, but he’s probably going to win his 3rd Best Director Award on February 24th. Regardless of “Argo” being the frontrunner for Best Picture, Spielberg has the inside track here because Ben Affleck somehow didn’t get nominated for the directing category.
  • David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook): Adding to my “this movie is just a dressed-up rom com” comments from before…anybody who can mask a romantic comedy as well as Russell did with “Silver Linings” deserves a ton of credit. Trickery or not, the movie was still an A+.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Steven Spielberg (1/4 odds)

Long shot that I might put a bet on: David O. Russell (14/1 odds)…If this really is a “fan favorite” year and “Argo” wins the Best Picture, then it makes sense for David O. to win for directing. I promise you it’ll be the movie you stop the channel surfing on most often when you see it pop up on HBO or Cinemax over the next few years.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook): In 12 years this guy has gone from playing the gay dude in “Wet Hot American Summer” and the asshole villain boyfriend in “Wedding Crashers” to a bona fide A-list actor who can carry a movie. He’s legit and deserves to be recognized for that. Unfortunately this year he’s up against a guy who seriously made me question whether Abraham Lincoln had actually risen from the dead to play himself in a movie. Thinking Cooper will get his Oscar due eventually. I don’t think this will be his last nomination.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln): Just the man I was talking about. The Lead Actor category is not a competition this year. If ever there was a situation where someone shouldn’t bother preparing an acceptance speech, it’s the other four men in this category. I’m pretty sure Day-Lewis could murder the head of the Academy tomorrow and they’d still feel obligated to give him this award. I wasn’t alive when Abraham Lincoln was doing his thing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a recording of the big man Presidenting it up, but I honestly believe he looked and sounded exactly like what Day-Lewis brought to this movie. This is one of those movies that’s worth watching purely for one man’s performance.
  • Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables): Didn’t see it so I have no idea about his performance.
  • Joaquin Phoenix (The Master): Ditto.
  • Denzel Washington (Flight): I actually watched this today. It was my first ever rental from a Red Box machine because I really wanted to see if there was any chance Denzel could unseat Mr. Lincoln. It was a solid, dramatic performance, but I thought the movie was a little boring. Washington had some very memorable scenes, but I knew I’d never take this movie seriously when I saw the trailer for it months ago and a plane was flying upside down.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Daniel Day-Lewis (1/50 odds)…That means you have to bet $50 just to make $1 of profit. Normally I wouldn’t recommend this, but if you’ve got $50,000 to spare, I guarantee you’ll make the $1,000 profit off of it.

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Bradley Cooper (40/1 odds)…It’s a waste of money, but maybe the Academy has a lot more white supremacists who are still irked by Lincoln’s freeing the slaves than we imagined.

 ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty): Not to take anything away from her performance, but I think the intense storyline and the emotional appeal of hunting Osama bin Laden carried this movie much more than any single actor did. She was damn good, don’t get me wrong. But if you threw Heather Graham into Chastain’s role as the CIA Agent in this movie, I don’t know if the film would take that big of a hit…and Heather Graham is an awful, awful actress.
  • Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook): She would certainly win if we were voting for which actress we most want to see up on stage on Oscar night. But I don’t know how she wins Best Actress without Bradley Cooper winning Best Actor. He was a bigger piece of the movie and probably carried a lot more scenes than her.
  • Emmanuelle Riva (Amour): Didn’t see it.
  • Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild): Didn’t see it, but hopefully I will by Oscar night.
  • Naomi Watts (The Impossible): Didn’t see it.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Jennifer Lawrence (4/7 odds)

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Quvenzhane Wallis (50/1 odds)…Because I’m lukewarm about the two performances I saw, and it would be awesome for someone this young to win while watching whoever presents the award try to pronounce her name.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • Alan Arkin (Argo): Basically him and John Goodman should have been co-nominated for “Argo” because they were in the movie almost equally and both were hysterical. Good performances from both guys, but not Oscar worthy in my opinion.
  • Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook): The problem here is that De Niro’s character is supposed to be a bookie in the movie, and I know far too much about sports to buy into his performance as that bookie.
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master): Didn’t see it so let’s just assume he won’t win.
  • Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln): I came out of the theater after seeing “Lincoln” and all I could remember was Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance. Everything else in this movie seemed like background noise. TLJ was actually really good in his role as Thaddeus Stevens (especially with the twist at the end of him wearing a wig!), but I’d only be rooting for him if he’d never won an Oscar before. Oh, and I hear he’s a real asshole.
  • Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained): Just like Waltz steals the show in Quentin Tarantino’s last film, “Inglourious Basterds,” so too does he steal the show in “Django.” In “Basterds” he was opposite Brad Pitt. This time he shared the screen with Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio. Quite a feat to overshadow all of those guys. He might have given my favorite performance of the year in the non-Daniel Day-Lewis category.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Tommy Lee Jones (+110)

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Christoph Waltz (+140)…OK so it’s not really a “long shot” in the traditional sense, but I don’t care. He’s not the favorite and he should be.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • Amy Adams (The Master): Didn’t see it, but I like her moxie.
  • Sally Field (Lincoln): If you can win an award like this based on one scene, then Sally Field should win for the scene in “Lincoln” when she talks circles around Tommy Lee Jones’ Thaddeus Stevens as she’s welcoming him to a dinner party. Great scene, but that’s all I really remember from her performance.
  • Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables): You already know I didn’t see it. I assume she’s going to win, but I hate her new short haircut.
  • Helen Hunt (The Sessions): Is this a real movie? Haven’t heard of it.
  • Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook): I saw this movie so long ago now that I barely remember her role as the Mom. I know she tried to break up the fights between Bradley Cooper’s character and Robert De Niro’s character, but I’m struggling to recall any other pertinent details.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Anne Hathaway (1/50 odds)…Apparently she’s as much of a shoo-in as Daniel Day-Lewis is.

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Jacki Weaver (50/1 odds)…Because it’s one of only two supporting actress performances I’ve seen and I’m a sucker for the big long shot.

And now, here’s my arbitrary, subjective and illogical ranking of the 19 movies I saw that came out in 2012:

19). Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

18). Snow White & The Huntsman

17). Wanderlust

16). The Campaign

15). Men In Black III

14). Prometheus

13). The Amazing Spiderman

12). The Hunger Games

11). Flight

10). This is 40

9). Ted

8). The Avengers

7). Dark Knight Rises

6). Lincoln

5). Moonrise Kingdom

4). Zero Dark Thirty

3). Argo

2). Silver Linings Playbook

1). Django Unchained