Current Cinema

2017 Oscar Movie Week


I think it’s a fun challenge to be able to see all of the films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar every year–and I also think it helps me with my Oscar night predictions, which I really love to fill out in a knowledgeable way. I bought an “Oscar Movie Week” pass from my local Cinemark this year in preparation for the 2017 Academy Awards. The pass provided access to see all nine feature films nominated for Best Picture this year along with a screening of the nominated short films in the Best Live Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film categories–all for $35.00 plus tax. Cinemark scheduled all nine films and the short compilation to show at least twice during the week of February 20-26. Since there were five of the nominated films I still hadn’t seen, the pass seemed like a good deal and I decided to go for it.

The experience was fun and, frankly, a bit exhausting (as ridiculous as that sounds), still I persevered with the hope that knowledge would be power when it came to my Oscar picks. Since I prefer to watch films on the big screen, it really was great to see some of these films that either came to our market late or films that I missed during their first theatrical run, even if they were films that I didn’t really want to see. (And thank goodness for the spendy but helpful Coca-Cola Freestyle machines at the refreshment stand to help keep me awake…)

The shorts categories always kill my Oscar picks. For years, I’ve been wanting to go to one of these Oscar-nominated short compilations that different theaters run, so I was glad to finally take advantage of that as part of my Oscar Movie Week pass. I was thinking that all of the shorts would be 10 minutes or less, but was I wrong. The running time to show the 10 shorts (five in each category) was four hours–no lie (with a three-minute break two-thirds of the way through). Four of the shorts clocked in at over 30 minutes each (when is a “short film” 30+ minutes?). So, while it was a fun idea, I think I will just try to catch the shorts on YouTube or in some other way next year rather than sitting through another marathon compilation. 

And after all of that film going and stewing over my Oscar picks, my picks still sucked (I only got 14 out of 24 correct…bleh). Not that I made any really bad choices; but it is just so difficult to predict what other people (in this case, The Academy) are going to do.

So, memo to me–don’t worry about any of this trying to outsmart my Oscar picks next year. Just enjoy going to the movies and take in the art and artistry that makes you love film in the first place.

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Current Cinema

“Cars 3” Press Event at the 2017 North American International Auto Show

I attended the Pixar Animation StudiosCars 3 press event held at the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) last week. John Lasseter was there (in one of his cool custom Reyn Spooner shirts) along with Cars Creative Director Jay Ward and Pixar Production Designer Jay Shuster. They set up the story of the film and talked about the design of two new characters–Jackson Storm and Cruz Ramirez. 

Here are some pics from the event. A full video of the presentation (courtesy of NAIAS) is hereCars 3 is coming to theaters on June 16, 2017.

Arrived at Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan

The stage where the press event took place

John Lasseter in the house!

The “Jays” (Jay Ward is on the left)

Concept art for Jackson Storm by automobile designer J Mays

The Jays talk about designs for Cruz Ramirez

John Lasseter came back on the stage along with a lifesize, driveable Lightning McQueen

A lame attempt at a selfie


One more shot


And, finally, here’s an “extended look” (or “almost a trailer”) with some footage shown during the presentation, along with some other snippets from the upcoming film:

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Current Cinema

My Favorite Films of 2016

While I saw a bunch of movies this year, I didn’t get to see everything. So, here’s a list of my ten favorite films from 2016 from the films that I was able to see (list is in alphabetical order). Happy New Year and hope to see you at the movies in 2017!

“Captain America: Civil War”

(© Marvel Studios)

With so many super heroes (including Spider-Man’s first appearance in a Marvel Studios film) and so many plot lines, this film could have really fallen on its face. Instead, Captain America: Civil War shines. Expertly directed by the Russo Brothers, this film is action-packed and compelling from start to finish.

“Doctor Strange”

(© Marvel Studios)

Another entry from Marvel Studios, Doctor Strange is an absolute trip. Mind bending visual effects, a cool story, and great performances make this one of the year’s most entertaining films.

“Kubo and the Two Strings”

(© LAIKA)

Hearbreaking and gorgeous, Kubo and the Two Strings raised the bar for stop-motion animation storytelling.

“La La Land”

(© Summit/Lionsgate)

I was so taken by everything in La La Land. Emma Stone is luminous in this bittersweet and original modern interpretation of the classic Hollywood musical.

“Love and Friendship”

(© Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions)

Kate Beckinsale delivers a show-stopping performance as a conniving, opportunistic widow in this filmed adaptation of a Jane Austen story. Biting, witty, and terrific.

“Moana”

(© Disney)

Longtime Disney Animation directors Ron Clements and John Musker hit another home run with this delightful, original story set in ancient Polynesia. Such an entertaining, beautiful film.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

(© Lucasfilm Ltd.)

The first of the new Star Wars standalone/anthology films, Rogue One absolutely delivers the goods. Made with tremendous TLC by director Gareth Edwards and team, this is the Star Wars prequel that I always wanted.

“Sing Street”

(© The Weinstein Company)

Long live the 1980s in this fun and touching coming-of-age pic from Irish director John Carney.

“Sully”

(© Warner Bros.)

Clint Eastwood directed this methodical yet gripping biopic about Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who in 2009 miraculously landed a U.S. Airways passenger jet in the Hudson River after a flock of geese severely damanged the plane at takeoff. Patriotic, dramatic, and touching. Tom Hanks is brilliant as always.

“Zootopia”

(© Disney)

Walt Disney Animation Studios continues its roll of knockout films with this thought-provoking and hilarious animated comedy. Directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, the anti-bigotry message so expertly delivered in the film could not be more timely.

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