Oscars 2024

Tuesday, January 30, 2024 0 No tags Permalink

It’s time for the Oscars 2024 review! Nominations have been released in my favorite categories. I’ll continue to watch as films become available for streaming, and will update this until the awards show takes place on Sunday, March 10, 2024. Films available online for free will have hyperlinks in their titles. I will note next to the title where other films are available, or not, as the case may be. The ones I watch, I will review. Please comment below what you’ve seen, what you enjoyed, and what you would like to see win!

Best picture

Oscars 2024 The Holdovers

I find that the nominees for Academy Awards are often quite different than what the American public enjoys seeing at the movie theater. As such, it becomes more difficult for me to discuss the Oscars 2024 with coworkers and friends who are not specifically watching for awards season. And for myself, the nominees are often bleak or challenging to watch. I’ve had to break my viewing into small segments, interspersed with palate-cleansers (the 1980s mini-series North and South for this year). Of the movies I’ve seen over this past year, my favorite viewing was Asteroid City and it wasn’t nominated. As I do not go to theaters to watch movies, the ones I’ve seen are the ones I can stream.

  • “American Fiction” – In theaters
  • “Anatomy of a Fall” – Rent on Amazon. I rated Anatomy of a Fall 3/5 stars in my bullet journal. This film is in French and English, and is one of the shorter films nominated at 2 hours, 31 minutes (which is still a long film). It is a courtroom drama that somehow reminds me of Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton’s plight in being judged by foreigners who don’t necessarily share the same showing of emotions and actions. The bleakness of the scenery and color of the surroundings help to demonstrate the situation at hand. There is a dog scene in there, though the dog does not die, in case you worry about that sort of thing. This film is also nominated for best original screenplay and film editing. Sandra Hüller is nominated for best actress, and Justine Triet for best director.
  • “Barbie” – Stream on Max. I mentioned above that I really loved Asteroid City. Barbie World in the beginning of this film is the same visual delight. The rest of it? Meh. It just didn’t do it for me. I was pretty successful in the box office, and it obviously got a lot of nominations. Ryan Gosling was nominated for best supporting actor as was America Ferrera for best supporting actress. The film was nominated for best adapted screenplay, and songs “I’m Just Ken” and “What Was I Made For?” as well as costume design and production design. Still, I rated it 2/5 stars.
  • “The Holdovers” – Peacock. For most of the Oscars, I can’t say that I really enjoyed watching them for the sake of a good movie. They are noteworthy or thought-provoking or whatever. But The Holdovers, I enjoyed. It made me laugh. Not like last year’s Triangle of Sadness, but still, laughter. There is also a poignant kindness that reaches into your soul. The characters are genuinely likeable. Paul Giamatti is up for best actor and Da’Vine Joy Randolph for best supporting actress. The film is also up for best original screenplay and film editing. It’s not as seemingly destined for Oscar wins, and yet I hope sincerely it wins for each nomination.
  • “Killers of the Flower Moon” – Apple TV. A number of years ago, I attempted to read the book this film was based on. I stopped part way through as I found it just too depressing. The movie is, not surprisingly, just as depressing but it is an important part of American history and good to know the background on. I think the movie is more accessible than the book. It is long, though. Three hours and 26 minutes long. Lily Gladstone was nominated for best actress, and I think she was just amazing in it and absolutely deserves to win. I’d love to see her in future films as well. Robert De Niro is nominated for best supporting actor and Martin Scorsese for best director. It is nominated for best original score and best song for “Wahzhazhe (A Song For My People)” as well as for cinematography, costume design, film editing, and production design. I loved the cinematography, but I also enjoyed Oppenheimer for the same category so I’m not sure which should win. But yes, Lily Gladstone is absolutely amazing. For the overall movie, I rated this 3/5 stars.
  • “Maestro” – Netflix. Goodness. I started this movie and got about 20 minutes in. I will likely go back and finish it? Maybe? Tell me if you enjoyed it and if it’s worth giving it another chance.
  • “Oppenheimer” – Rent on Amazon, stream on Peacock Feb. 16. Bob and I watched Oppenheimer together. It is long. Three hours long, which is shorter than Killers of the Flower Moon. But still really very long. It’s a period piece that goes back and forth in time. Some of it is shot in black and white, some in color. A lot of the actors look a lot the same and I found that it was difficult to keep everyone straight in the beginning. I think this film could be helped out a lot by watching it through a few times, but for me it’s too long to give it that much attention. Cillian Murphy is nominated for best actor and I think he was quite good. Robert Downey Jr. is nominated for best supporting actor and I think he was outstanding. Emily Blunt was nominated for best supporting actress and I just don’t see it. Christopher Nolan is nominated for best director. The film is nominated for best adapted screenplay, best original score, cinematography, film editing, sound, production design, and makeup and hair styling. I think the score is not bad. When I compare it to last year’s All Quiet on the Western Front, it’s not that good, but it may be good enough to win in this year’s grouping of nominees. Anyhow, I rated this 3/5 stars.
  • “Past Lives” – Rent on Amazon. This film is subtitled. The cinematography gets me on this film. It is like another character, one you can fall in love with. The soundscape is similar. It’s an interesting question, of who was meant to be in your life. I found some parts of it uncomfortable to watch. The storyline did remind me of the “Before” trilogy directed by Richard Linklater, so if you enjoyed those I think you will love Past Lives.
  • “Poor Things” – In theaters
  • “The Zone of Interest” – In theaters

Documentary feature film

Second to my love for short docs, I adore full length documentaries.

  • “20 Days in Mariupol” – this film is created by Frontline PBS and the Associated Press. It runs 1:35 and is about Russia’s siege of Mariupol, a coastal resort city in Ukraine. I think if you watch this film, you will have two thoughts. First, Putin and members of the Russian military are barbarians, removed from any humanity. Second, the United States needs to support – financially and militarily – Ukraine. Watch it, and tell me it isn’t more frightening than the worst horror movie you can think of. It’s worse than my nightmares. But watch it, please watch it.
  • “Bobi Wine: The People’s President” – Hulu, Disney
  • “The Eternal Memory” – Paramount
  • “Four Daughters” – Kino Film Collection or purchase through Amazon. One hour, 47 minutes. This is a documentary, but told in a most unusual way. It tells of a family of four daughters who endured a challenging childhood. Two of them became radicalized at a young age and are in prison. The family has difficulty telling the difficult parts of their story, so actors are brought in to help. Together, the actors and family form a bond. In the end, I believe everyone is a bit traumatized. This film has subtitles.
  • “To Kill a Tiger” – not available

Live action short film

Live action short films go hand in hand with animated short films. These small beauties, often foreign-created, leave you feeling fundamentally different than you did before you started viewing.

  • “The After” – Netflix
  • “Invincible” – Not available
  • “Knight of Fortune” – Two older gentlemen happen to meet at a morgue to view their wives. this short film is subtitled into English and runs 25 minutes. It is about making connections in life when you have no one else, but you leave yourself open enough to share a moment or two.
  • “Red, White and Blue” – Not available
  • “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” – Netflix

Documentary short film

Documentary short films are perhaps my favorite category for the Oscars. Getting an entire important story out in a short time frame has got to be one of the biggest challenges of filmmaking. Editors have to be ruthless, while providing enough in the final cut to move us.

  • “The ABCs of Book Banning” – Paramount. I really enjoyed this film, from MTV. It starts with an impassioned plea to stop book burning by a 100 year old woman, who remembered the book burning of the Nazis. Then it moves to a surprising group of interviewees – children. These kids are smart. Smarter than adults. They speak of racism and LGBTQ+ issues like it’s no big deal. It is simply part of their world, to be different. These kids love learning and love reading, and can’t understand why adults in this country would want to stop that. These kids are caring about others. Watching this film gave me hope for the future, because of the kids. Highly recommend.
  • “The Barber of Little Rock” – Another New Yorker documentary, this 35 minute piece explores the racial wealth gap. The film follows Arlo Washington, who opened the Washington Barber College and a nonprofit loan fund. The film discusses ‘banking while black’, something white individuals never have to consider. This is a great documentary, exploring how a group of people can make a real difference in a community to improve equity and create justice.
  • “Island in Between” – The islands of Kinmen, Taiwan are very close, within visual range, of mainland China. This short doc, 19 minutes long, is a reflection on a Taiwanese resident’s growing up and exploring the desire for Taiwan, with the support of the United States, retaking over China from the communists. This early exposure to Taiwanese life is then compared to life after the pandemic when China may be taking a more direct route to retake Taiwan under the One China principle. Through it, you view a beautiful, peaceful island in between two super powers and their desire to remain their own country.
  • “The Last Repair Shop” – Los Angeles schools provides musical instruments to their students. This repair shop repairs them as needed. This fantastic documentary, 39 minutes long, highlights the importance of music in the lives of the repair workers and the students who use the instruments. Make sure you watch the full credits as well. I absolutely loved this film, and encourage everyone to watch it.
  • “Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó” – Disney+

Animated short film

I’m often torn by the animated short film category. If you’re not familiar, these are not generally animated films like Disney would make, only shorter. No, they are animated versions of the live action short films and often have very unsettling, adult themes. You may remember Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar speech about animation as more than just children’s movies.

  • “Letter to a Pig” – not available
  • “Ninety-Five Senses” – This is a very short animated film, noting the order in which the senses shut down when you die. It is thought-provoking and worth a watch.
  • “Our Uniform” – not available
  • “Pachyderme” – This movie clocks in at 11 minutes. It is in French, with subtitles. A nine-year old is afraid of sleeping at her grandparents’ house. There is a dark undertone in this film, which makes you feel unsettled and uncomfortable. The color palette and framing are integral parts of this story. If you watch it, you will be unlikely to let it slip from your mind again.
  • “War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko” – not available

95th Oscars

Tuesday, March 7, 2023 0 No tags Permalink
95th Oscars

It’s time for my annual movie review in preparation for the 95th Oscars. This year had a lot of great movies, and also some that were nominated but I would suggest avoiding. Let me know in the comments what you watched, what you enjoyed, and what movies should be avoided. You can check out my thoughts on last year’s awards here.

Best Picture


All Quiet on the Western Front
Avatar: The Way of Water (didn’t watch)
The Banshees of Inisherin
Elvis (didn’t watch)
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans
Top Gun: Maverick (didn’t watch)
Triangle of Sadness
Women Talking (didn’t watch)

To start it right out, I didn’t watch Avatar (don’t have Disney+), Elvis (I hate Elvis), Top Gun (I hate Tom Cruise), or Women Talking (not available for streaming). For the rest, be prepared to sit for awhile if you are going to watch them. When did the average length of movies become 2+ hours? I don’t go to movie theaters, and so I streamed everything I watched in shorter segments over multiple days. I didn’t necessarily think all of the movies needed to be that long.

The Fabelmans is worth watching to the end, for me at least, due to a cameo appearance in the last five minutes that I really enjoyed. I suspect Everything Everywhere All at Once may win for best picture, as it has won so many awards at the other ceremonies leading up to the Oscars (Golden Globes, SAG Awards, etc.). And it is nice to see an Asian film win for sure. Also, I love Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh. I found the movie itself kind of hard to follow. Interesting concept as well, but not my absolute favorite. Should you watch it? Maybe, if it is streaming on a service you already have.

I thought Tár was excellent, and Cate Blanchett was amazing in it. It’s a movie that would win in another year if it wasn’t up against Everything and I do recommend it. I think I will probably watch it again. I understand that The Banshees of Inisherin is a dark comedy. I just didn’t like it that much. All Quiet on the Western Front is a hard movie to watch. It might win against, Everything, as it did very well in the BAFTAs. It is quite good.

My favorite nominee is Triangle of Sadness. I doubt very much it will win for any award, but I loved it. Loved the concept, loved the acting, loved the humor. Loved it.

Actress in a Leading Role

There was controversy over the category of actress in a leading role with how the film To Leslie scored a nomination of its lead actress Andrea Riseborough. There is a bigger conversation on which films get nominated because they are really good, and which films get nominated because the money is there for promotion, but that’s for another day.

I watched all of the nominees except for Ana De Armas in Blonde. The movie wasn’t interesting to me, so I didn’t watch it. All other actresses put on great performances and I wouldn’t be disappointed in any of them winning. I really did enjoy To Leslie, and thought Andrea Riseborough did a great job.

Documentary Feature Film

All That Breathes (didn’t watch – can’t stand another dead animal film)

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (not available)

Fire of Love (didn’t watch)

A House Made of Splinters


My goodness, I had a hard time this year with documentary feature, and it’s normally one of my favorite categories. Fire of Love is on Disney+, and I’m not springing for another service. I wanted to watch All the Beauty but it won’t be available until March 19 which is after the awards show and honestly by that time I think I’ll be watching gardening shows to cleanse my palate. For that reason, I didn’t watch All That Breathes as I absolutely can’t watch another film where creatures die. I know that it’s about brothers who try to save birds and have a bird hospital, but you know well enough some of them are going to die and I’ve just plain had enough.

A House Made of Splinters is depressing. Navalny is depressing. Both are worth a watch to see what’s going on in the world, and they are both important stories. Watch them, but not back to back, and watch a comedy or two in between.

Documentary Short Film

The Elephant Whisperers (didn’t watch)


How Do You Measure a Year? (not available – didn’t watch)

The Martha Mitchell Effect

Stranger at the Gate

I enjoy a nice documentary short. How Do you Measure a Year is not available for streaming, and I just didn’t feel much like watching The Elephant Whisperers. I get tired of watching sad animal films to be honest. Will some elephants die or be threatened with death? Yes, probably, so I’m not going to risk it. I get enough of it at work, you know? For the films I watched, I would recommend seeing them all. Haulout is quite short and it’s less a walrus film and more an environmental film. I would guess Stranger at the Gate will win, and it deserves it. Martha Mitchell was by far my favorite though. What an amazing woman and a life story that should be more well known. It’s a reminder that what happened to Mary Todd Lincoln was still happening not too long ago in this country. Outspoken women could be institutionalized for being outspoken. You should watch it!

International Feature Film

Argentina, 1985 (Argentina)

Close (Belgium) (didn’t watch)

All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany)

The Quiet Girl (Ireland) (didn’t watch)

EO (Poland)

I would absolutely expect All Quiet to win this category, and it is deserved. I really did like Argentina, 1985 as well. It’s a dub, not sub, so that might be a problem for you. If you put on the sub, it doesn’t match the dub, which is even more irritating. The story is great, the set design is amazing, and it features a speech that will move you to tears. Close and The Quiet Girl are not available for streaming. I regret watching EO. The donkey dies in the end. Yes, I understand the point of the film. Yes, it’s an important issue. But I don’t need to see it to know it.

Misc. Thoughts on Other Categories

I didn’t see enough movies in the categories of Cinematography or Music – Original Score to really be able to comment on who should win the categories. But while I was watching All Quiet on the Western Front, I thought it could absolutely win for these categories. The musical score was haunting and perfect. It was like a character all on its own, just amazing.

I did watch a couple of the animated shorts, which is normally one of my favorite categories. I didn’t like anything I watched. And the live action shorts weren’t available for streaming.

That’s it! That’s my thoughts for this year’s Academy Awards. What, if any, did you watch? What were your thoughts?

Crocheting and Biking


I finished the third of three baby blankets. This was a really soft, fuzzy yarn that was hard to work with, but the nursery color needed is coral and it fit that perfectly. It’s my standard, continuous rows of half double crochet. On this one, I did a border of rows of half double crochet as well because the yarn is so thick and fuzzy you’d never be able to see a scallop pattern. My friend liked it, and I’ve moved on to another blanket, this one using mandala yarn. Expect an update.

As I’ve been crocheting, I’ve also continued watching documentaries. A Secret Love on Netflix was excellent. Such a heartwarming love story. Athlete A on Netflix was a horrific look in to Larry Nassar and the US Women’s Gymnastics program. A good watch just the same. I started watching Dick Johnson is Dead and honestly I couldn’t get past about 12 minutes of it. Life is too short to watch uninspiring tv or movies. Anyhow, I’m making pretty good progress on the available likely nominees for 2021 Best Documentary Oscars. I have also started the next season of Great British Baking Show, which is balm for my sore and aching heart, and the Haunting of Bly Manor which I am enjoying. We’ll watch the West Wing reunion this week, and have one more episode to go of Raised by Wolves.

I’ve put on 954 miles on the bike this year. Over the weekend I pulled my back gardening and it is supposed to get quite cold this week. I’d like to think I can still get out a few more rides and break 1,000 miles. It’s easier to do it on a sunny day, because at least the sun is warming. Coming up with a replacement exercise plan for winter is going to be challenging.

Crochet and TV

Wednesday, September 30, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

I’ve been working away on some crochet projects. One of the employees at work is having twins, so I came up with two baby blankets. The body of both is a variegated baby yarn. Both are half double crochet with an L sized hook. The edging on one is a coordinated yellow with a scallop pattern and the other is the coordinated green with a ruffle edge. It turns out they are both girls, so the gender-neutral colors should be fine. I have one more blanket to go, for a friend. It’s a different yarn than I’ve used before and it is heavy but really very soft. I still have another two skeins to kill on it before it’s done.

You may know that while I’m crocheting, I’m streaming tv shows. This summer I watched the first half of the new Unsolved Mysteries, Tiger King, Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, season 2 of POSE, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, The Devil All the Time, and all three seasons of DARK. That’s a fair amount of tv watching.

Now that we are getting closer to the 2021 Oscar season, and nomination predictions are coming out, I’ve turned my attention to the feature documentaries, short docs, animated shorts and live-action shorts. I never care as much about the main attraction movies. So far, I’ve watched Welcome to Chechnya, Crip Camp, Disclosure, and Circus of Books. Documentaries are amazing. They make you see the world in a new way. You almost get to live a life other than yours for an hour or so. I always wind up being moved to help, or to become a better person, through learning more about others.