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The Righteous Prick 2012 Oscar Breakdown

The 2012 Oscar Nominations were announced for what I believe was the worst year in movies since 2005 (Crash beat Brokeback Mountain while Munich, my favorite movie of that year, never had a shot despite being nominated).  Well this year has been the movie of the overrated and the boring.  I have some positive things to say about some of this year’s nominees, but that wouldn’t be as much fun so I will try to keep the positivity to a minimum.  For reference here is my recap of 2011 films (before I saw the excellent We Need To Talk About Kevin):

https://jlcauvin.com/?p=3180

BEST PICTURE

In my movie wrap up of 2011 I rated Hugo as the most overrated film of the year and The Tree of Life in the top 5 most overrated films of the year, as well as the most pretentious film of all time.  Both nominated for best picture.  Awful.  And Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is nominated.  It is the only film of the ten nominated that I have not seen.  And I have no intention of seeing it.  Not because of any 9/11 movie fear or discomfort (United 93 is one of the greatest movies I have ever seen, but the academy only had the courage to nominate it for Best Director back in 2006, not best picture), but because I find the child actor so irritating in the commercials and previews that I am glad he lost his fictional father.  That is how annoying I find him.

Wake me up when this horsesh*t is over.

I have no problem with the other nominees and generally found the films to range from adequate to enjoyable.  However here are the movies I think are clear snubs: The Ides of March, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, 50/50, We Need To Talk About Kevin and my long shot, but personal favorite Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  The fact that WNTTAK and 50/50 were completely shut out is a travesty.

We Need To Talk About Kevin was original, thought provoking and incredibly creepy. And snubbed.

But thank goodness Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Drive were not nominated for Best Picture.

BEST ACTOR

When is Joseph Gordon-Levitt going to get some goddamn respect?!  500 Days of Summer shut out in 2009 and then 50/50 shut out this year.  It makes me like JGL more to think that he is being stiffed by the industry because he does not play politics.

The nominees are fine I guess with that one omission.  And I am surprised Michael Fassbender did not get nominated for Shame. Or that his penis was not nominated for best supporting actor.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Jonah Hill gets nominated for playing a fat quiet guy.  The fu*k out of here!

Kenneth Branagh should win this, but Christopher Plummer has earned it (and his performance as Mike Wallace in The Insider was not nominated at all in 1999 – my top snub I can remember)

BEST ACTRESS

To quote Bill Burr, “Rooney Mara had to be fu*king Daniel Craig and if she wasn’t she deserves an award for best pantomiming of fu*king a guy.”  Agreed.  She looked great, she was great. I think she should win.  Normally I bet Meryl Streep against the field because she is better than everyone, but The Iron Lady was not good.  Like not good enough to tear her chances down.

She should win. Sorry Meryl, I have rooted for you in every other race.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain was in 147 movies this year so she deserves this. And she was great in The Help. And I think it would be funny if the only award for the The Help went to a white woman.

BEST ANIMATED FILM

They all sucked this year.  Seriously, every animated movie I saw this year sucked. What a disappointment. Shame on you Pixar and shame on you Kung Fu Panda 2. I expect better from you guys.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Rise of the Planet of The Apes – it needs to win something dammit!

Caesar is home and his ass should get an effects Oscar.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Really good category except Tinker Tailor is nominated.  Really – a good adaptation? Was the book long, boring and dreary also or was that the gift of the screenwriter?  Hugo can go fu*k itself.  I think Moneyball wins simply because it was a great book about statistics that was made into a solid (but not great in my opinion) film.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Bridesmaids got nominated for best original screenplay?  So I guess making a slightly less funny Old School/Hangover (I, not the lazy II) is now original!  I’d like to see The Artist win because it would be weird to have a film with 10 words of dialogue win a screenwriting award.

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My Favorite Movies of 2011 (with some hateful comments…

Before the official awards get announced, and between New Year’s Day and the annual January release of a Liam Neeson-against-the-world-action-movie it is time for me to summarize thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours I spent on movies last year with my top 10 favorite movies and assorted other comments.  Per usual, let’s start with the bad news.

The Most Overrated Movies of 2011 (overrated and by coincidence they actually suck as well)

1) Hugo – I fell asleep for five minutes in the middle of this movie (2nd time in my life I have ever fallen asleep in a movie). Critics are gushing over this film that has a plot for children, but a high minded, boredom-inducing style that seems suited for pretentious senior citizens.

2) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – If Colin Firth is involved, being overrated is always a threat (I’m sorry, the “handsome Colin Firth” – this guy is the male Cate Blanchett who is “beautiful”).  But this movie outdoes itself.  The first spy thriller to not have a single thrill.  The conclusion of the film packs the punch of a 4 year old girl.  A major cast, a major disappointment.

3) Drive – We get it ladies Ryan Gosling is wonderful.  He talks like he’s from Brooklyn, despite being Canadian, he looks sleepy and before his abs developed, liking this art house favorite made you feel less shallow than your old feelings for Paul Walker.  And he had a huge year in 2011 (two of his films made the top 10), but Drive was as Adam Carolla so eloquently put it, “a highly stylized piece of sh*t.   The reviews for this film set the bar high.  The opening sequence was so cool it managed to exceed the reviews.  The remaining 90 minutes were a mess of awkward smiles by Gosling (seriously it was a weird performance at best, and an unintentional portrayal of a special needs human being at worst), an awful attempt at a love story and violence that was so gruesome and out of the blue that it seemed to simply be there to evoke a stomach turning reaction.  A weird and dumb movie.

Vacant expression and weird smiles got him a Golden Globe nomination.

4) Meloncholia – This movie about the possible end of the world and the end of a marriage is part two of the highly stylized piece of sh*t triumvirate.  On the plus side Kirsten Dunst looks incredible naked.  On the negative side the movie is odd and relatively plotless.  And I can still never forgive Lars Von Trier for the film Antichrist. And the Dunst love is for her breasts.  They may say her performance was amazing, but it was one note misery – my blog has more nuance of misery than her performance.  They just were impressed by her rack.  That’s it.

5) The Tree of Life – (the third in the stylized piece of sh*t trio) the only reason this is not the most overrated film of the year is because some critics had the good sense to call it nonsense.  Terrence Malick is nothing short of a cinematic villain.  His movies suck.  I made the mistake of thinking “Oh Brad Pitt and Sean Penn are good actors so maybe this movie will be different,” ignoring the fact that Pitt and Penn are incredibly self-important artists of “the craft” and actually heightened the chances that this movie would be pretentious garbage.  No point in describing this movie because it had no point or plot.

Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and Terrence Malick have raised the bar of pretentious film-making to new heights

The Movie I Was Most Surprised to Like

Warrior – I actually highlighted this movie’s trailer on my blog as a sure fire crap bucket.  The preview was cheesy and was clearly making a ploy to be the “Rocky of MMA,” which to me is like trying to be “the Rocky of prison rape (see my podcast on January 17th)”  But the movie turned out to be really solid.  Well acted and largely void of sports movie cheese, not to mention it featured the best set of traps in Hollywood history, courtesy of the clearly ‘roided up Tom Hardy.  No movie this year forced me to acknowledge that my pre-conceived notions were wrong more than Warrior.

Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2011

I saw a lot of movies this year and these were my favorites.   I feel no need to justify my choices and I do not care what yours are.  If they are vastly different than mine you are wrong.  So without further adieu:

1) Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Nothing makes me happier than a high-minded, patiently-crafted popcorn movie.

My favorite character from my favorite movie of 2011.

2) The Ides of March – Nothing new in terms of revelations of how scummy politics is, but I thought this was a brisk, tense, extremely well-acted film.

3) War Horse – if you can look past the (intentional) old school, Hollywood cheesiness you should leave the theater with a smile on your face.

4) Crazy Stupid Love – best romantic comedy since 500 Days of Summer

5) 50/50 – All the humor and sadness you’d expect from a cancer movie.  Joseph Gordon Levitt is going to be 2012’s less ripped, more versatile Ryan Gosling – it is his time to break out big time.

6) The Descendants – Another Clooney flick on the list (Ides was the first).  Really enjoyed just about every minute of this movie.

7) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – might have made the list simply for Rooney Mara’s performance (and her acting was good too), but I really enjoyed the movie – shortest 2 hours and 40 minutes I have spent in a theater.  I think David Fincher is the best director working right now not named Christopher Nolan.

The Girl With The Oscar Ambition

8. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – let it be known that I never abandoned my fandom of Tom Cruise and I was rewarded well with this excellent action movie.  See it on IMAX also – some really great shots.

For the 10th time this year I will tell you - TC is the best sprinter in Hollywood history and MI4 uses that skill to the fullest.

9) X Men: First Class – The first comic book movie post-The Dark Knight that I felt brought gravitas and high quality to the comic book genre.

10) The Artist – A silent movie that almost turns silence into a foreign language.  If not for War Horse, this would have been my feel-good movie of the year.

Thanks for reading – I hope to have my movie review show up and running by the end of this month (www.YouTube.com/JLMovieLife) – you can subscribe now if you like.  So my reviews will hopefully be funny videos this year, or at least videos.  Great news for you anti-readers!

Have a nice weekend.

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Movie Review – The Descendants

For a while I was thinking that the Oscar race had begun and ended with Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Crazy Stupid Love this summer and The Ides of March this fall.  J Edgar, though not bad, was disappointing and I just have not seen too many movies that I would call “great.”  However, The Descendants is the first movie I have seen since the usual start of Oscar rush that I think has a rightful place to be an awards contender.

The movie focuses on Matt King (George Clooney), a successful attorney, and trustee of a $500 million track of Hawaiian real estate who is dealing with a tragic boating accident involving his wife.  Her prospects of a recovery seem slim and King’s problems are compounded by a bitchy 17 year old daughter and the revelation that his wife was having an affair.

This movie combines great everyday humor with end-of-life, gut-wrenching, soul searching.  It never lets you forget the tragedy through excessive comedy, but it never gets you too sad without inserting some levity, which for the most part feels fairly realistic.  Clooney is terrific, but so are the actresses that play his daughters and the actor that plays his older daughter’s friend and travelling companion (think of a dumber, surfing over football, less brooding version of Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights).

I was wary of the movie simply because too often these types of films tend to fall in love with their own quirkiness and “realness,” while in the process forsaking plot and dialogue.  This is not one of those movies.  It is well done and thoroughly entertaining.

Final Grade – A-

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Movie of the Week: The Ides of March

There was a lot riding on the movie of the week this week.  First it represented a critical tiebreaker in the 2011 Ryan Gosling competition.  I loved Crazy Stupid Love and he was funny and charming in it, despite the presence of his nasaly, quasi-Brooklyn, Marlon-Brando-in-The-Godfather-despite-being-only-30-years-old-voice.  Then came Drive, the critically-acclaimed, artistic piece of sh*t.  It had a great opening sequence and then was as if someone took the movie Faster starring The Rock, reduced the muscles, kept the minimal dialogue and plot and added a European director with a love of himself.  So The Ides of March would be the final vote in a split decision loss or victory for Ryan Gosling’s 2011.

No less important was the movie for George Clooney.  For me George Clooney, as I have said many times before, is the high school quarterback that does math club and a capella.  Girls love him, guys can’t hate him because he is good at football, but the losers really love him because he is the rare cool kid who uses some of his cool capital to do activities with them, rather than bully them.  Hollywood is largely the math club and a capella group.  They love that Clooney has not squandered his Ocean’s 11 mass appeal on starring in only big blockbusters, but he has passion projects and intellectual works and other giant bags of over-indulgent boring films.  Loved Clooney in Out of Sight, loved him in Oceans 11 and really enjoyed, more recently, Up In The Air.  These were football films for Clooney.  Sleek, cool and fun to watch (and Up In The Air had a dose of math club in it too).  But in between those movies were a heavy load of self-important crap.

Good Night and Good Luck – overrated and boring, but the fact that the cool kid was doing them required the geeks to support it, or risk losing Clooney to football entirely.

Syriana – not bad, never should have won an Oscar (he grew a beard – what is this a comedy festival or the Oscars) and the film was adequate.

And then there was Michael Clayton, his biggest critical success, which was the most average of corporate thrillers (it cannot hold the jock of Michael Mann’s The Insider, for example, but garnered the equivalent nominations and praise 11 years apart).

And this is without mentioning one of the worst film’s of 2010 The American which was all Clooney all the time and terrible, but somehow escaped with mediocre reviews instead of Bucky Larson reviews.

Together Clooney and Gosling seemed very poised to enter the “J-L Debonair Overrated Hall of Fame” joining current inductees Colin Firth and the television show Mad Men.

So Gosling Brando and Clooney Christ had a lot to deliver with The Ides of March.  And in my opinion, they did.

I think it is an Oscar contender, but what do I know.

This movie is a brisk and tight 100 minute experience (its sharpness is probably due to the fact that it is based on a play, Farragut North).  Unlike Moneyball, for example, I could not complain of any fat needing to be trimmed.  The cast is strong, with the four main characters played by Gosling, Clooney, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti.  Jeffrey Wright, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood handle the remainder and between those seven actors you have some serious chops carrying the film.

It follows an Obama-esque candidate (Clooney – all white, not half-white) on the campaign trail, specifically their fight to win the critical Ohio delegates for the Democratic nomination.  Gosling is the whiz kid, who probably has an Ivy League pedigree, based on his position and yet still sounds like a mush-mouthed Brooklynite.  Don Corleone-ing aside, Gosling is quite strong as the character that undergoes the most development throughout the film, from idealistic whiz kid to hardened, cynical political operative.  The whole cast is great  and I could not ask for much more from a movie.  It is lean, well cast, well acted with a story and themes that are very current.

Final Grade – A

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The Ten Worst Movies of 2010 (that I saw)

Another year is coming to a close, which means I have once again seen a lot of movies.  This year, unlike last year, I made an attempt to avoid awful movies (for example I did not see or rent Grown Ups because Adam Sandler and Kevin James are the closest thing to crack-cocaine in terms of brain cell destruction, nor did I see Saw VI because I believe it is wrong for a film franchise to have three consecutive films that claim to be “the final one”).

Sidenote- seriously does Kevin James ever wake up and think, “Man if I sucked di*k for drug money on live television I would be less of a disgrace to my family. I have made three of the worst films ever recorded – Chuck and Larry, Paul Blart and Grown Ups.  And I know it.  And I have tons of money, but I don’t care.  I want to make dumb Americans even dumber and profit off of them mercilessly.”  And can we stop treating Adam Sandler like he is some beloved entertainer?  I know he reminds you of that moderately cute and cool kid in your Hebrew School class, but the dude is done.  Mr Deeds, Chuck and Larry, Grown Ups, Little Nicky, Big Daddy, etc.  The guy has done everything he can to kill good taste.  Enough – please collect your cash and go away.   

So naturally, despite moderate efforts I was unable to avoid bad movies for several reasons.  Travelling to comedy clubs around the country and having spare time, Oprah Winfrey and wanting to see if Samantha Jones finally gets AIDS were all contributing factors to the several terrible films I saw this year.  Before I get to the Bottom 10 I want to share a special note of two movies that were not worthy of the “worst,” but based on critical praise and box office success, are the two most overrated films of the year:

Box Office Overrated Film of the Year

ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Over $300 million is what this film pulled in.  Weird is the best way to describe it.  Boring is a very accurate way to describe it.  Johnny Depp – you were cool and talented the first eight times you played a weird character, but now it feels redundant.  For a change, try playing a male with genitals who does not talk like a pretentious college student who has returned from a study abroad semester and now pronounces Barcelona as Barthelona. 

Overrated Movie of the Year – Critics

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT

For me, the reason to give gay people all the rights they deserve is selfish: I am tired of Hollywood patting itself on the back for showing gays as regular people and then acting like they re-invented the wheel.  But that was ok for me with Brokeback Mountain, which I thought was pretty damn good, but what really gets me is when a mediocre movie that is lathering itself in every indi-film cliche is praised as a great film.  Enter The Kids Are All Right.  Granted there were other movies that will be nominated for best picture like The King’s Speech (will be this year’s “we have to nominate at least one movie with British people and one movie related to the Holocaust, so why not nominate this one which has both?) and Black Swan (dark artsy-fartsy, but interesting in parts), which were interesting, but incredibly overrated, but the Kids Are All Right really stands out.  It just is not that good.  The movie is a B- at best, but critics have treated it like The Godfather fu*ked Amadeus while Goodfellas watched.  If you have not seen this or have and thought it pretentious enjoy this brief cinematic interlude:

But none of those movies were worthy of being on:

J-L CAUVIN’S TEN WORST FILMS OF 2010

10. The Deuce – (tie)

Sex and The City 2 and Iron Man 2

Two sequels – two bowel movements.  Iron Man 2 is shameless in what is becoming a Hollywood trend – we have a hit, we want at least three films and everyone will pay for the second so we can make it a huge bag of sh*t and make half of the movie about setting up and establishing things for the third film.  It is literally the middle child before there is a third child.  The movie was just mediocre, but because of how shameless it was and how much worse than the first it was – it earned a spot on the list.

Sex and the City 2: It was good to see these old bags who have influenced a generation of emotionally and spiritually lost women go out like Brett Favre – with a cinematic equivalent of an interception.  Here is the summary of the Carrie Bradshaw saga: she finally gets her man (women will give a good guy one chance, good penis a few chances and a super wealthy guy almost infinite chances – see “Mr. Big”).  And what does she do when she gets her better looking Trump?  She complains about the monotony of married life, makes out with an ex boyfriend in a foreign country and complains to her hubby when they eat dinner in for…wait for it… two consecutive nights!  The lesson for all the women who wanted to be Carrie, thought Carrie was fabulous, came to NYC to have a “Sex ad the City experience:”  Carrie was a bitch.

Ugggh, what's the point of being married to a billionaire if I cannot be constantly spending money and travelling so I can forget how empty my own life is?

9. Black People Besides Tyler Perry Can Make Bad Movies (tie) –

Lottery Ticket & Copout

When I saw Lottery Ticket I was hoping for something in the vein of Barber Shop and when I saw Copout I was hoping that Tina Fey was writing Tracy Morgan’s material.  I was wrong on both.  Lottery Ticket, starring fully grown Bow Wow produced the unthinkable – it offered a movie where Mike Epps, an incredibly unfunny human being, was the funniest thing in the movie.

Copout, combined with his deplorable HBO comedy special, proved that Tracy Morgan is completely unfunny when Tina Fey is not writing his words.  I was harsh on Fey when she was the head writer of SNL, but this chick has apparently worked miracles to make Tracy Morgan appear funny every week on 30 Rock.

Probably the least funny person of 2010.

8. The Worst Thing Clooney Has Ever Done –

The American

Even George Clooney can go to far.  Here is how I think this boring movie was made: George Clooney spends time in Italy fu*king models so he said, what if you filmed me driving and looking thoughtful while I was on vacation in Italy?  And maybe throwin a few conversations, some guns that we barely use but just show me putting them together?  And what if this was all so boring and self-indulgent that when I do a sex scene with a woman who is off the charts hot, it still cannot save the movie?  What, Hollywood – you love me so much, like a quarterback who is also in an A Capella group, that you are afraid to tell me no?  Let’s do it! 

The review for this film can be summed up by the young black woman who was siting in front of me while watching it.  With about 15 minutes left in the movie she just, “Damn, this movie SUCKS.”  Sometimes talking at movies is OK and this was one of those times.

7. They lost me when Adrien Brody fu*ked a lab creature –

Splice

I thought this was going to be a tense sci-fi thriller.  Instead about one hour in to a relatively mediocre movie Adrien Brody fu*ks a creature he created in a laboratory.  From then on it became one of the worst films of the year and the most awkward moment I saw in a movie since Willem Dafoe ejaculated blood in Antichrist (last years #3 worst movie on my blog).

6. I think it is time to admit that The Rundown was accidentally entertaining –

Faster

The Rock was the most entertaining WWF/WWE star of all time.   Then his first starring movie not associated with a Brendan Fraser franchise was the very enjoyable The Rundown.  Seemed like he was destined to do great things – maybe not Oscar great, but legitimately solid entertainment.  Faster is the death of that optimism for me.  When I saw previews for Faster I thought – “Man, that looks like Taken, but on steroids!”  What it was was Taken on creatine with a lobotomy.  How they managed to make a movie about a dude travelling the country murdering people for revenge somewhat boring is beyond my intellectual capacity.

5. Even low expectations could not save these bad westerns (tie) –

Jonah Hex and The Warrior’s Way

Jonah Hex I saw while on the road.  I would have been better off lying in the middle of a road.  I think it was written in about 14 hours because it felt like it had potential if someone had just written a story.

The Warrior’s Way I saw with a buddy because I had already seen everything that he had not promised to see with his girlfriend.  The Warrior’s Way is honestly one of the 20 worst films I have ever seen, but since I had no interest in it and my expectations were zero I did not think it deserved a higher spot on the list.

4. I really hated this fu*king movie and its awful 3-D –

Clash of the Titans

I am sort of shocked that this was not the worst film of the year but it is close.  Between Avatar, Clash of the Titans and Terminator Salvation it is obvious that Sam Worthington is unable to act with actual people.  And after Clash of the Titans, maybe he shouldn’t be allowed to.  A giant bag of crap (shame on you Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson) and the poster child for the other cinema scam – 3-D.  I actually was able to watch half of the movie clearly without 3-D glasses and the 3-D was terrible (James Cameron rightly criticized the filmmakers for scamming people for extra ticket money, but not providing legitimate upgrade in quality).  I hate 3-D and I hate how it is becoming an automatic surcharge on every other movie now.  No one likes watching movie with special glasses.  It is annoying and when it is accompanied by a giant piece of crap like Clash of the Titans it really sucks.  And yes, a sequel is being made.

How did Liam Neeson look at this and say, "Get my agent on the phone - I LOVE IT!"

3. Like Mexican sex shows – only the horse was entertaining –

Secretariat

If the horse in Secretariat only had two film credits – sex with Mexican prostitutes and Secretariat, he should leave Secretariat off of his resume.  Schmaltzy to the point that the entire dialogue could have consisted of Jon Favreau screaming “who’s the wild man now?!” from Rudy and it would not have been as corny and embarrassing.  The only thing that was good in the movie were the 15 minutes of horse racing.  Everything else was awful.  I wanted Seabiscuit (but about the greatest horse of all time), but instead got a terrible ABC Family made-for-TV movie.

2. Even when he tries, Tyler Perry sucks –

For Colored Girls

This year Tyler Perry finally got to show off his diversity as a filmmaker.  For so long he was known as the creator of shi*ty comedies.  Now we all know he can make a shi*ty drama.  This movie actually has several good performances, but it is a TERRIBLE movie.  One dude kills his own kids, one guy gives his wife HIV, one guy rapes his date, one (unseen character) abused his daughters.  The one good guy is a cop, but his wife cannot have kids because… wait for it… a man gave her an STD when she was younger.  I think the movie is for colored girls by default because it is definitely not for colored men.  It is also a lazy movie, because rather than adapt the original text to w workable film script he just has the character inexplicably delivering long, poetic monologues which do not work in a movie.  Tyler – just stick to your day job of making shi*ty “comedies.”

For the emotional scenes, Tyler Perry showed the cast footage they had already shot for the movie. So those tears are real.

1. When steroid abuse doesn’t kill who it’s supposed to (and your 2010 champion) –

The Expendables

A tremendously awful film.  Just like when white women feel like they need some fulfillment they open a cupcake store with family money and pretend to be serious entrepreneurs; when old white men feel unfulfilled they make movies like this.  An absolute embarrassment for even half-decent action movies, men and decent taste this is your champion for 2010.

The steroids should have killed Stallone before he made The Expendables.

I could not say it any better than I did in August on my blog – so enjoy:

https://jlcauvin.com/?p=1798

Tomorrow – Top 10 movies of 2010.

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Oscar Breakdown & Predictions

If you read this blog regularly you should know that the first thing I hope (and certainly expect) from the 2010 Oscars is a prominent role for the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling ” in the pre-show hype fueled montage. 

When can we stop having a feeling? Sometime after the Oscars is my guess.

My biggest hope is that during the Oscars someone comes out and says, “By the way, The Blind Side is actually not nominated for Best Picture.  That was a big joke.  And also, An Education was extremely boring and we apologize for nominating that so congratulations 500 Days of Summer and The Messenger – you are actually nominated for Best Picture.”  Not going to happen, but here are my predictions for the major awards and what should occur (within the realm of possibility):

BEST PICTURE

I would be OK withany of the following winning in descending order of preference: District 9, Up In The Air, Inglourious Basterds, Up, Precious, Avatar, The Hurt Locker. 

I think Inglorious Basterds is going to win in what I will call the “Norah Jones Strategy.”  In 2002, the Best Album Grammy went to Norah Jones despite The Rising by Bruce Springsteen and The Eminem Show being nominated.  I think voters split on Eminem and Sprinsgteen leaving a plurality to Norah Jones.

I like Basterds' chances.

The Hurt Locker has a lot of momentum and Avatar is the most financially successful film of all time.  But I think people who put The Hurt locker first would not have Avatar second and I do not think people that vote Avatar first would have The Hurt Locker second.  But those voters who put either of those first could very well put Basterds as their second choice.  And since Quentin Tarantino is a Hollywood favorite and an original I think he could pick up some small percentage that think it is time he won a big prize so I am putting my money on Inglorious Basterds to edge out Avatar and The Hurt Locker.

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges is going to win the Oscar that Mickey Rourke should have won last year.  Jeff Bridges is a really good actor and it will be nice for him to win. 

 I would vote for Clooney for Up In The Air.  It was his best acting job yet and finally fulfilled all the love that Hollywood had bestowed prematurely on his high brow films (which were generally sort of boring  -Michael Clayton, Good Night and Good Luck and Syriana were all overrated, relatively boring movies, but Hollywood loves the high school quarterback who also hangs out with the geeks and that has been Clooney for the past decade).  And the look that Clooney gives his lady friend when he meets her at her house was one of my favorite acting moments of the year.

Best Actress

This is a two horse race.  Meryl Streep was great in Julie and Julia and this is her 134th nomination. She has won twice, but I think it is time she get another win.  She is like the Michael Jordan of actresses – she should win the MVP every year, but doesn’t because some obscure actress did something obscure and artsy or some pretty actress got fat, or naked, or sassy. And with that let’s discuss the other best actress front runner – Sandra Bullock.

The Meryl Streep of basketball.

Sandra Bullock was a B+ in The Blind Side, which was good because the movie was a C/C-.  But other than a benign racism that is sweeping the country (“Hey, we voted for a black guy, we like movies where white people save black people – damn we are awesome white folk!”) I do not understand why Meryl Streep is not guaranteed a third Oscar.  If you need ant other reasons not to root for Sandra Bullock and/or The Blind Side please watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_oK6EPc6QA

So I am going to go with what is right and say Meryl Streep over Bullock.

Best Supporting Actor

Christopher Waltz from Inglourious Basterds might be an even bigger favorite than Heath Ledger last year.  What a great performance – he is the front runner and deserves to be.  He was so good that the Academy is considering granting him a Polanski (“a pass for a rape of a minor based on high quality work”).  I enjoyed Woody Harrelson in The Messenger and must admit I did not see The Last Station yet, but am glad to see Christopher Plummer nominated (in my mind his lack of a nomination for The Insider is still the biggest snub I can remember).

Best Supporting Actress

Mo’Nique in Precious. Also a no-brainer.  The most raw performance I think I have ever seen.  Her motivation may have come from the fact that Mo’Nique’s husband has a hairy leg fetish, which probably means he is on the down low.  That would make most women pretty angry, but Mo’Nique took it to another level. The only thing that may detract from this for Academy voters is that the film is very black in both mood and casting.  It is sort of the Anti-Blind Side.

She has an "open relationship" with her hairy leg-loving husband. Keep it on the down low and go win your Oscar Mo'Nique!

Best Director

Without ten nominees to thin the voting, this will be between James Cameron (Avatar) and Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker).  I enjoy the fact that they were married and that I think James Cameron bounced.  That will make it even more painful if she has to lose to him, which I think she will.  The breadth and technological advancements and sheer volume of time spent on Avatar should give it to Cameron.

I might go for Tarantino or Reitman (Up In The Air) with my vote. Which I don’t have.  But Avatar is pretty hard to deny.

Best Animated Feature

Up. 

The only thing that would make me madder than a Blind Side victory in any category would be Fantastic Mr. Fox winning here.  I think Wes Anderson films are incredibly irritating, though Mr. Fox was relatively enjoyable.  But Up’s first 15 minutes alone crush the competition.

A moment of silence for Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, which was ignored and not even nominated.

Best Adapted Screenplay

I think Precious should and will win here because form what I have heard the original text is written in the first person and might pose a challenge to make into a quality film, which they did.  However, the hilarious and extremely clever In The Loop, as well as the most original film of the year, District 9 would make me happy as well.  Fu-k An Education.

Best Original Screenplay

Inglourious Basters should win and almost definitely will win.  Part of me is rooting for Up though. It is about time Pixar got recognized for being the most consistently original and great film studio.

Best Score

I genuinely can’t remember any of the scores, so here is my list of my favorite scores of all time (shut up Star Wars fans):

1) The Last of The Mohicans

2) Brokeback Mountain (the score literally could have been called “sad and lonely cowboy”)

3) Chariots of Fire

4) Hoosiers

5) Rudy

Alright – there it is a comprehensive list of the categories you care about.  If you want incessant humorous commentary by me during the Oscars – check out www.twitter.com/JLCauvin

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Blind Sided By The Oscars & Some Early Predictions

When I looked at the Oscar nominations only a couple of things startled me. One was Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs not being nominated for Best Animated Feature.  Another was seeing Christopher Plummer getting nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Last Station.  I have not seen the movie (one of the very few among nominees that I can say that about), but it just brings up angry thoughts of 10 years ago when he was snubbed for a nomination for his portrayal of Mike Wallace in The Insider.  And there was good news – District 9 was nominated for Best Picture.  However, besides the excruciatingly mundane An Education getting nominated, there is an egregious error among the best picture nominees.  The Blind Side.

There can be many debates about who should win what, but one thing is for sure: The Blind Side is the worst movie nominated for Best Picture in my lifetime. (But An Education was pretty lame as well.)

The Blind Side is an average movie. It has some good moments for sure, but it abounds in awful old and new Hollywood cliches.  It has the sassy southern white woman, which is now the female Oscar equivalent of a man playing a mentally handicapped person – automatic Oscar nomination.  She has a reticent daughter, but a spunky and fun son who says such cute and witty things for a little kid!  And most importantly it has a poor black person in dire need of white people’s help.  Now I know this is based on a true story, but even the subject of the film, Baltimore Ravens lineman Michael Oher said in a NYT article, “I wish they hadn’t made me look so dumb.”  His coaches also remarked on how bright he is and h did make the Dean’s List at Ole Miss.  But perhaps if Michael had been portrayed smarter at first it might have looked more like… gulp.. affirmative action – and that is not as feel good for America.

I have seen almost every best picture nominee in the last 30 years and unequivocally The Blind Side is the worst by a lot.  I am not saying it’s terrible.  Most movie critics already did that.  I am saying it is like seeing a C+ student make the Honor Roll.  I have received some comments about how opening up the Best Picture category to 10 nominees led to this.  I disagree.  Although I think they should have stayed at 5, there were better movies than The Blind Side.  That is like saying if there had been ten nominations a few years ago then Coach Carter would have been nominated (that was a trick- of course it would not have been.  not only was it a mediocre film, but that was a black man – Samuel L Jackson helping minority kids – not a white woman!). 

Perhaps this was the Academy’s concession for nominating Precious, a gritty, depressing book at the plight of inner city African Americans.  They watched Precious and were like, “Wow that was good, but sort of sad – quick nominate a feel-good, whites-helping-Negros-movie before we feel compelled to actually do something constructive.  Quick do we have anything?  The Blind Side? FINE!”

Predictions:

Mo’Nique and Christopher Waltz in the supporting actor categories.  No one else should even show up.

Best Actor – Jeff Bridges.   I would vote for Clooney if I had a vote (I thought his performance was finally the one that Hollywood has pretended for the last ten years that he has delivered.  In Up In The Air he actually delivered it – funny, subtle and awesome).  But Jeff Bridges has all the momentum and has had a quality and varied career.

Best Actress – I’d take Meryl Streep, Precious (she was really good) or even Helen Mirren because she’s very good looking for an old lady, but Sandra Bullock seems to be a lock. Yikes.  I think I’d pick Precious.

Adapted Screenplay – District 9 was the most original film of the year (barring technical originality of Avatar), but I will accept all (included In The Loop which is hysterical) except for An Education – what a fu-king bore, except when it seemed to inject bizarre out of place humor.

Original Screenplay – I think I’d go with The Hurt Locker or Inglorious Basterds, but I will guess that Basterds takes it.

Best Director – James Cameron or Quentin Tarantino – I think Cameron just for the scope and technical achievement of Avatar.

Best Picture – I’d pick District 9, but would be ok with Inglorious Basterds or Up In The Air.  However I feel that it will be between The Hurt Locker or Avatar.  Avatar in a close one.

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The Top Ten Movies of 2009 (and the decade)

I thought this year was a really good year for movies, despite the garbage that was listed on this site yesterday.  Before getting to the top 10 movies of 2009 (and the decade) here are some special (mostly positive) awards for movies in 2009.

SPECIAL AWARDS

Most Surprisingly Good Movies (in no particular order)

1) This Is it– Thoroughly enjoyed the concert (rehearsal) documentary about Michael Jackson.  Great music and a worthy tribute to the fallen icon and aficionado of play dates with tweens.

2) Taken– The Liam Neeson film is a perfect example of how a movie that has no ambition, only one star and a simple plot can still deliver if it just tries to do the simple things well.  And the scene where he shoots his friend’s wife to show that he means business was one of the best this year.

3) Crank 2– Either the most ingenious quasi-spoof of action movies ever or just a ridiculously entertaining goof.  Either way I had no idea that I would enjoy this movie as much as I did.  It now validates Jason Statham’s work visa to me, though his films have only grossed slightly more than my YouTube videos.

4) Drag Me To Hell – This Movie almost made the top 10.  Funny, creepy, gross, and all on purpose.  A good, but not great movie.  However, there were very few movies I enjoyed more than this one.

Take My Wife, please.
Take My Wife, please.

The Any Given Sunday Award For Most Disappointing Movie Based On Awesome Trailer

Watchmen.  Blue genitals and a waste of time is all I remember from this movie.  The trailer, however, was perfection.

The Two Towers Award For Great Trailer That Delivered Great Movie

Nothing.  But The Men Who Stare At Goats was my favorite trailer of the year and the movie was solid, but still did not meet expectations. 

2009 Honorable Mention (A/K/A The Unpaid Guestspot of Movie Awards)

Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Two Lovers, Food Inc., State of Play

2009 Top Ten Movies

10) (tie) Sugar, The Messenger

Sugar is the story of a Dominican immigrant seeking to become a baseball star.  Came out early this year to rave reviews, but has long been forgotten.  Anyone who is a baseball fan or interested in the immigrant experience should see this.  Or just hang out by Yankee Stadium.

The Messenger is the best war movie this year.  It is about two soldiers who report to next of kin of the loss of loved ones.  The things people do for work in this economy.  Really strong and simple movie.

9)Capitalism: A Love Story. 

This movie is a reminder that America used to be a place where a middle class person could thrive (middle class meaning one blue collar job with could salary and benefits, not $5 million dollars or less like John McCain seemed to think).  Now thanks to a selfish, never too rich mindset the wealth is more concentrated at the top than ever before.  Sadly for working Americans and Michael Moore, America is one big casino and the house always wins.

Michael Moore was right America - these guys are stealing your pensions, your country and your daughters - actually if you live In NYC you know that the daughters are mostly willing participants in the, "profiting off the misery of most Americans is such a turn on" industry, like less forthright versions of Ashley Dupre
Michael Moore was right America - these guys are stealing your pensions, your country and your daughters - actually if you live In NYC you know that the daughters are mostly willing participants in the, "profiting off the misery of most Americans is such a turn on" industry, like less forthright versions of Ashley Dupre

8) 500 Days of Summer

The fact that Music and Lyrics was my favorite romantic comedy before this movie came out (yes I have seen Love Actually, but have not seen When Harry Met Sally yet – gasp!) may diminish my credibility in this genre,  but I am probably not the only person telling you how great this movie is.  Funny, heartfelt and thoroughly enjoyable.  And the lesson of the film couldn’t be more optimistic: if you find yourself in a relationship with a cu-t, don’t worry because eventually you may go out with Derek Jeter’s girlfriend.

7) Bruno

The selection most likely to anger people.  First, yes I thought it was funnier than Borat.  Second, the best opening of any film since The Dark Knight.  As the techno music began blaring and the words “black guys” and “taint” flashed on screen I could not stop laughing.  For many the film was too crude.  Other complaints I heard was that Borat had a point in showing some ignorance in funny ways, whereas this just went for cheap laughs.  Probably true.  Perhaps it was easier to embrace a character who was exposing racism and sexism and, most flagrantly, anti-Semitism in Borat and feel good about laughing than in Bruno, where you are just laughing at the absurdity of a gay character’s libido on steroids.  My advice to the self-righteous – take the champagne bottle out of your ass and watch Bruno pour some champagne out of his boyfriend’s.

"Throw your shoulders back, this is a fashion show, not a slave auction!"
"Throw your shoulders back, this is a fashion show, not a slave auction!"

6) Precious Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire

Fat, pregnant by her father (again – fool me once shame on him, fool you twice… shame on him again in this rare exception to that saying), illiterate and Mariah Carey as your social worker.  And I thought being a comedian was tough.  This movie is a powerhouse and Mo’nique’s performance is one of my three favorite this year (Christopher Waltz in Inglorious Basterds and Paul Rudd in I Love You Man being the other two).  And I would like this movie to win Best Adapted Screenplay so that Sapphire, who probably negotiated the self-indulgent title has to hear the dumbest phrase ever uttered at an awards show: The winner is Precious Based on The Novel Push By Sapphire Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire.

You look like my career.
You look like my career.

5) Up

The opening to this movie may be the most touching sequence in movies this year.  It is just another great movie from Pixar.  Normally stories of old men hanging out with young fat kids is awkward (think Herbert the Pervert and Chris Griffin from Family Guy as one such pairing), but this movie is nothing of the sort.  Plus it has a talking golden retriever, which will always get support from me.

This is not the plot of Up, but I bet even Pixar could make it work.  MMMMMMMMMM
This is not the plot of Up, but I bet even Pixar could make it work. MMMMMMMMMM

4) Inglorious Basterds

Christopher Waltz was amazing, but surprising to me was how good Brad Pitt was.  A funny, intense, enjoyable movie about Nazis and the Jews that hunted them.  It was also a welcome relief from the usual parade of mediocre, maudlin films about the Holocaust that are raised to critical praise because of the subject matter.  After Schindler’s List I think Hollywood could have just waited for this one .  After all slavery has had what, Roots and Amistad?  I think 6 Holocaust movies come out last year alone.  But I digress.  Basterds is awesome (and my favorite Tarantino film – that is what I think, but I am also writing it because I want to anger those who worship at the altar of Pulp Fiction).

3) Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs

Even more than Bruno, this choice is likely to bring on some WTFs.  I did not even want to see this movie, but then reviews kept talking about how much fun it was.  The biggest shock of the year for me was this movie.  It was hysterical from start to finish.  It was like the humor of Family Guy, but not as crude or easy.  I flirted with putting this #1, but the last two choices, upon reflection, were the two best movies of the year.

2) Up In The Air

 I am tired of the “this is the movie that defines our times” type quotes, but besides that this is a great movie.  George Clooney’s best (unlike his win for Syriana, no complaints if he gets Best Actor) and a movie that is so good that I cannot exactly explain why it is so good.  Perhaps it is because it is a movie that defines our times… oops.

1) District 9

The most original movie I have seen in a long time.  The biggest crime of the Oscars could be if Avatar gets a best picture nomination and this does not (if they only feel like honoring once sci-fi-ish film).  Since it is #1 I don’t think it needs any explaining, other than the fact that it comes out on DVD today so you should rent it if you have not seen it.

After thinking again about the 4,558 movies I saw this year, District 9 is #1.
After thinking again about the 4,558 movies I saw this year, District 9 is #1.

TOP TEN MOVIES OF THE DECADE

10) School Of Rock – Along with The Wrestler, no movie has matched an actor better this decade than Jack Black and SOR.

9) The Departed – I hate the Boston accent, but that was the only thing I hated about this movie.

8) Eastern Promises– Russian mob in London and the best fight scene in any movie ever.  Sorry Bourne Ultimatum.  You were second.

7) Million Dollar Baby – The only movie that made me cry this decade (joining E.T., Glory and Dead Poets’ Society on the career list).  Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank all at their best.

6) Traffic – A decade later the violence in Mexico is worse and the liberal pot smokers who abhor the violence of war or the treatment of chickens that are not free-range, but still help fund the cartels that propagate massive bloodshed in and around the border.  This movie would go under the category of wake up calls unheeded.  Great movie.

5) Finding Nemo– My favorite movie from the most consistently great movie studio.

4) 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days – I am not a big foreign film guy, but this was so intense and so good I regretted not speaking (Romanian if my recollection is correct) the language because even checking the subtitles was too much attention away from the acting.

3) The Dark Knight – I have never seen a movie in the theaters more than this one.  And it’s not even close.  Die Hard, The Matrix and The Dark Knight are the three films that changed and elevated action movies higher than any others in the last 20 years.  To me, it was even more impressive to take action, the way Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger did, and turn it into art.

2) The Lord Of The Rings – Because of The Godfather III’s mediocrity this is the greatest trilogy of all time.  Shut up Star Wars people. (and if I had to pick just one – The Two Towers).

1) United 93 – I have only seen two perfect movies in my lifetime.  One was Amadeus, my favorite movie of all time.  The other was United 93.  I am not saying it is my favorite movie of all time; it would be hard to make that claim about a film focused on 9/11.  But the realism, the intensity, the respectful rendering of an incredibly sensitive subject and the overall product was second to none this decade for me.  In a sad way I guess it is fitting that the decade’s defining event yielded the decade’s best movie. Besides, a movie about our collective self-indulgence and self absorption called Twitter v. 3.05 would not be nearly as riveting.

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The Good, The Bad and the Mo’Nique of the…

The Golden Globe Nominations (voted by the Hollywood Foreign Press) were announced today, which displayed some good judgment in parts and in others displayed why Jerry Lewis and David Hasselhoff were such international superstars.  As a movie addict who has seen or will see all or nearly all of the films nominated (I’m already close) here’s my recap of the good and bad of today’s nominations.  Contrary to my usual I will start with the good:

The Good

1) Meryl Streep is a beast.  2 more nominations bringing her total up to 1,895 career nominations.  She proves that in Hollywood if you are talented, dignified and your name is Meryl Streep you will not be forgotten as an actress after 38 years old.

2) Matt Damon getting nominated for Best Comedy Actor in The Informant.  He was incredibly funny in this movie without being a goofy caricature.  Between the Bourne series, The Informant, The Departed and his cameo on Entourage he has completely erased my annoyance with him from the late 90s as a Masshole in Good Will Hunting (great movie, but I blame the Red Sox and Williams college for my aversion to that accent).

Not sure how to quantify something like this, but Matt Damon is the best Hollywood star.  Can do comedy, drama and seems like he's grounded.  He's like George Clooney's half brother (Clooney had the better looking mother).
Not sure how to quantify something like this, but Matt Damon is the best Hollywood star. Can do comedy, drama and seems like he's grounded. He's like George Clooney's half brother (Clooney had the better looking mother).

3) Woody Harrelson for best supporting actor.  He was a beast in The Messenger.  But he should lose to Christopher Waltz from Inglorious Basterds.  That dude’s performance was the Heath Ledger of 2009.  Minus the Olsen twins fu-king and overdose.

4) Jeff Bridges nominated for best actor in a drama.  I have not seen Crazy Heart yet, but it looks like The Wrestler, but instead of wrestling, he plays country music.  Sort of like in 30 years when I star in a movie called The Comedian.  Jeff Bridges is a really underrated and versatile actor and although I think he will finally win for playing some racist grandfather when he is 80 years old (think “Driving Mr. Daisy”) it is nice to see him nominated.

5) 500 Days of Summer and Up In The Air getting lots of nominations.  2 of my top 10 movies of the year.  The best Clooney movie ever (finally all the love struck geeks in Hollywood have a legit reason to praise him instead of “loving” his dramatic (boring) movies of the last few years – Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana, Michael Clayton – all good, all overrated).  500 days of Summer is the best romantic comedy/drama I’ve seen.

6) Animated movies.  Really strong category.  2 of my top ten of the year are in this category – Up and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.

Really really great stuff in the animated category - and how long til a porn spoof title: Slutty with a Chance of Tiger's Balls? Really really great stuff in the animated category – and how long til a porn spoof title: Slutty with a Chance of Tiger’s Balls?

 

The Bad

1) Eastbound and Down shutout.  I shouldn’t be surprised that the foreign press didn’t nominate it if the American Emmys didn’t, but to see shows like Entourage and Glee (that show has been on a steady decline – with the exceptions of Matthew Morrison and Jane Lynch – from the first episode.  However it has found it’s niche market – gays and girls – sort of like Britney Spears, so it plays to them, but to an annoyingly goofy level that its first few episodes did not have).

Like Picasso and Milli, Kenny Powers' artisitc greatness may not be recognized in life.
Like Picasso and Milli, Kenny Powers' artisitc greatness may not be recognized in life.

2) Two nominations for Sandra Bullock is  two too many.   One for The Proposal – one of the worst films of the year and one for the Blind Side where she combines two of Hollywood’s favorite shallow things – Julia Roberts (an impression of her from Erin Brockovitch) and the benevolence of whites helping blacks be their best.  Admittedly I did not see this movie, but that is because I could not stop puking during the preview.

And this is the story about how Mommy pandered for a white guilt Oscar and the foreign press fell for it!
And this is the story about how Mommy pandered for a white guilt Oscar and the foreign press fell for it!

3) The Messenger is not nominated for best picture.  I thought it was the better of the two war dramas (The Hurt Locker was very good, but I thought the Messenger was better).  Brothers is melodramatic and simple and uses musical score the way one would if they were walking a child through what emotions should be felt during different situations.  Not in the discussion.  But Tobey McGuire’s over-the-top bug eyed performance got an undeserved nomination (speaking of which, why didn’t Bill Paxton get nominated for his hilariously paranoid performance in Aliens back in 1986?)

4) Hung.  Thomas Jane got nominated for best actor in a comedy, making it the first time anyone could consider Hung a comedy.  This was the most disappointing show of 2009 and generated approximately .4 laughs per episode. 

5) No nomination for Paul Rudd.  Since the Golden Globes have a specific category for musical/comedy it is extra disappointing that his hilarious, seemingly effortless and incredibly realistic performance in I Love You Man was not recognized.

The Ugly

1) Mo’nique – I don’t like her very much and I can see her being a real diva (just look at the unnecessary apostrophe in her name for starters) once she wins an Oscar, but her performance in Precious on a scale of 1-10 was a 12, to quote one of Tiger Woods’ skanks.

2) Television Actress Nominee Anna Paquin – she’s just not that pretty and I want you to know that I know that.  For God’s sake when Michael Strahan watches True Blood and even he goes, “Damn she needs to fix those teeth.”

To quote Jacobim Mugatu - "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" I like True Blood and I don't mind Anna Paquin naked, but she really is not that attractive.
To quote Jacobim Mugatu - "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" I like True Blood and I don't mind Anna Paquin naked, but she really is not that attractive.