My predictions for the 89th Academy Awards

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As in recent years, I contributed some Oscar picks along with Jared Mobarak and Bill Altreuter for Buffalo Vibe. Here are the rest of my predictions. Please note this is what I THINK will win, not what I WANT to win. (My predictions are italicized.)

 

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BEST PICTURE

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

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ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

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ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Ruth Negga, Loving

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

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ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Viola Davis, Fences

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Kubo and the Two Strings

Moana

My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle

Zootopia

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CINEMATOGRAPHY

Arrival

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Silence

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COSTUME DESIGN

Allied

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Florence Foster Jenkins

Jackie

La La Land

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DIRECTING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

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DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

Fire at Sea

I Am Not Your Negro

Life, Animated

O.J.: Made in America

13th

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DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

Extremis

4.1 Miles

Joe’s Violin

Watani: My Homeland

The White Helmets

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FILM EDITING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

La La Land

Moonlight

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FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Land of Mine

A Man Called Ove

The Salesman

Tanna

Toni Erdmann

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MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

A Man Called Ove

Star Trek Beyond

Suicide Squad

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Jackie

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Passengers

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land

Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

“Can’t Stop The Feeling” from Trolls

Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster

“City Of Stars” from La La Land

Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

“The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story

Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting

“How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

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PRODUCTION DESIGN

Arrival

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Hail, Caesar!

La La Land

Passengers

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SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Blind Vaysha

Borrowed Time

Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Pearl

Piper

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SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Ennemis Intérieurs

La Femme et le TGV

Silent Nights

Sing

Timecode

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SOUND EDITING

Arrival

Deepwater Horizon

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Sully

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SOUND MIXING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

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VISUAL EFFECTS

Deepwater Horizon

Doctor Strange

The Jungle Book

Kubo and the Two Strings

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

Arrival

Fences

Hidden Figures

Lion

Moonlight

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WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Hell or High Water

La La Land

The Lobster

Manchester by the Sea

20th Century Women

Buffalo’s Peter Vullo zeroes in on our national mood — and it goes viral (for BuffaloSpree.com)

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This was kind of fun. My friend Peter Vullo saw a post of his go viral, and spoke to me about how it happened for BuffaloSpree.com.

So this is how a viral post happens: At 1:42 p.m. on Sunday, January 29, Buffalo native Peter Vullo made a Facebook post that nicely summarized the mindset of a great many residents of Donald Trump’s America. Captioned “2017 starter pack,” the simple but hugely effective image displayed three books — George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 — along with a Blu-ray of John Carpenter’s mind-bending cult classic, They Live

As of 12:00 p.m. on February 1, the post had been shared … more than 19,000 times. Yes, more than 19,000 times in three days. Meanwhile, the post continues to make waves on Twitter and Instagram, as well.

Vullo, an assistant manager at the Amherst Dipson Theater and curator of the popular Thursday Night Terrors screening series, is still reeling from what’s transpired in such a short period of time. Here, he talks about how the post came together, and why he chose these books and this film.

 

So … what are you thinking right now? This is crazy.

I’m in disbelief, honestly. I don’t think anyone ever expects one of their posts to go viral. At least, I didn’t. It’s a weird thing to watch unfold. I was having a regular day at work while this post was getting thousands of shares, and I’m wondering, “What in the world is happening?” It’s one thing to witness it happen to someone else, but to be in the middle of it is something else entirely. It’s hard to process. At a certain point, you feel as though it doesn’t belong to you anymore.

You can’t plan it. It just happens, and social media does the rest. It also says a lot about the zeitgeist of our current time — what people are thinking, what people are feeling. It’s strange.

 

You really nailed the four picks. Did they come to you right away? And was this any kind of planned photo, or just a quick idea?

Well, They Live has been on my mind a lot lately because of the Thursday Night Terrors screening of the film we did a few days ago. It felt like exactly the right movie at the right time.  John Hurt passed away recently, so the film version of 1984 in which he starred came to mind as well. It was a combination of those and just keeping up on current events. Without getting too explicitly political, it feels like a strange and important time in our culture. There’s a feeling that we’re living in history at the moment — that books will be written about this particular time.

1984Animal FarmFahrenheit 451, and They Live have all been culturally significant for decades and decades, of course. They’re always relevant. Sometimes we just need a reminder. I think 2016 into 2017 was that reminder.

I post photos of movies and whatnot all the time on social media. I didn’t think anything of it. It’s just something I do. So, I gathered up those books and the movie, which were front and center on my shelf, and took a picture. It just caught fire, inexplicably, and gained momentum.

 

What kind of responses have you received?

People have given me lots of other titles to add to the list: Brave New WorldThe Handmaid’s TaleV for Vendetta,Idiocracy. Perhaps a second photo is in order.

 

Has anyone asked if your starter pack is for sale? Because I think there’s a real market for it…

I believe 1984Animal Farm, and Fahrenheit 451 are all back on the top sellers list! Amazon and other outlets can’t seem to keep them in stock either. It’s great to see people interested in reading again.

I do have some plans for something involving one of the books in the stack. It’s hush-hush at the moment, but it could be very interesting. It will have some things in common with They Live …

Sugar-free Treats for Movie Lovers (from Forever Young)

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I enjoyed writing my first feature in years for Forever Young, Buffalo Spree’s ancillary publication for readers over 50.

For couples, finding a unique Valentine’s Day gift can be an extremely difficult task. One idea? Zero in on one of your partner’s passions. If those include cinema, consider one of the books, soundtracks, or DVDs/Blu-ray discs listed here.

 

Books for Cinephiles

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (Blue Rider Press)

Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist, a hilarious and touching look at her life as Star Wars icon Princess Leia, was a must-read even before the sudden, shocking passing of its author in December. (Fisher’s death, of course, was followed by the equally tragic loss of her mother, Debbie Reynolds.) It is even more poignant now.

Buy it at all major bookstores and amazon.com.

The Art of Selling Movies by John McElwee (GoodKnight Books)

Anyone with an interest in classic cinema will adore The Art of Selling Movies, a 300-page treat packed with photos and vintage advertisements. Featuring everyone from Valentino and Pickford to Bardot and Hitchcock, this is a wonderfully entertaining and insightful coffee table tome.

Buy it at amazon.com.

Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers on Stage by Robert S. Bader (Northwestern University Press)

Bader’s book highlights a fascinating, little-known segment of the Marx Brothers’ career, the twenty-five years the foursome spent on stage. He traces the comic legends’ road from live performance (Groucho made his debut in 1905) to big-screen successes.

Buy it at marxbrothers.net.

Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe by Robert Matzen (GoodKnight Books)

It’s hard to find new ground to cover when discussing the personal life of a legendary figure like Jimmy Stewart, but author Robert Matzen pulls it off in Mission. This thoroughly researched text explores the actor’s wartime exploits, and the effect these experiences had on his later life and career.

Buy it at amazon.com or goodknightbooks.com.

 

DVD/Blu-ray Delights

His Girl Friday (Criterion)

Howard Hawks’s His Girl Friday still holds up, and then some. This comic adaptation of The Front Page starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell is as funny today as it was upon release, and with this high-definition restoration, it has never looked or sounded better.

Buy it at criterion.com or amazon.com.

Jerry Maguire: 20th Anniversary Edition (Sony)

Tom Cruise gave his best performance in Jerry Maguire, the sports-agent romantic comedy that that gave the world the phrase, “Show me the money!” It remains a surprisingly poignant film, and this Best Buy exclusive Blu-ray limited edition offers a fine reason to revisit.

Buy it at Best Buy or bestbuy.com.

 

Must-Own Soundtracks

La La Land (Interscope)

La La Land might have been 2016’s most purely enjoyable film, and the music is a key element of its appeal. Stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone acquit themselves nicely in this witty, moving homage to Hollywood musicals. The songs by Justin Hurwitz are smart and satisfying, especially “City of Stars” and the anthemic “Another Day of Sun.”

Buy it in stores and on amazon.com.

Jackie (Milan Records)
The musical score for this Natalie Portman-starring film about Jackie Kennedy is strange, haunting, and fascinating—just like the film itself. Composer Mica Levi’s work here is astoundingly original.

Buy it on amazon.com.

 

Looking for a Rental?

Looking for something a bit less expensive? Consider one of the following films now available to rent from iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, or Redbox.

Deepwater Horizon

Mark Wahlberg and Kurt Russell star in this surprisingly involving action film about the biggest oil spill in US history. It’s a disaster film done right, and Russell, especially, is masterful

Florence Foster Jenkins

Meryl Streep is predictably wonderful as painfully awful opera singing-heiress Florence Foster Jenkins. However, costars Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg are equally strong in this modest, satisfying film.

Sully
While Sully is no classic, Clint Eastwood’s biography of hero pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger is quite involving and often thrilling. It’s a reminder that there is no actor more capable than Tom Hanks.