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November 12: Happy Birthday Ryan Gosling and Neil Young


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Two-time Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling is celebrating his 37th birthday today.  The Canadian actor made his screen debut in the early 1990s revival of The Mickey Mouse Club and then worked in Canadian television as a teenager, starring on Breaker High and then on Young Hercules.  He made his first notable film appearance in Remember the Titans in 2000, and in the next few years began to build a solid filmography, with major roles in Murder By Numbers, The United States of Leland, and The Notebook, a romantic drama with Rachel McAdams which was his first major financial success.

Gosling received his first nomination for Best Actor for the 2006 indie film Half Nelson, and his first Golden Globe nomination a year later for Lars and the Real Girl.  He then took a sabbatical from film work, pursuing a music career as part of the indie rock band Dead Man’s Bones.  He returned to film with several starring roles in 2010 and 2011, including the romantic comedy Crazy Stupid Love, his first pairing with Emma Stone, and the contemporary noir thriller Drive.

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Best Actor Oscar Nominees (89th Academy Awards)


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In most years, the Best Actor category is one of the major flash points of Oscars evening. Last year’s win for Leonardo DiCaprio was seen by some as the rightful end to a long-standing wrong (I wasn’t one of those people, but we’re not talking about me here). Both 2009 and 2010 featured Jeff Bridges and Colin Firth as top nominees with each man eventually taking home one statuette. Longtime favorites, unexpected darkhorses, and actual movie stars have made the walk to the stage to be honored over the years and there’s usually a lot of suspense or anticipation over a tight race or a coronation. Despite some uncertainty over who the actual winner will be, I’m not quite getting the same sense of excitement over this race as I have in many other years. No matter who wins, that performance will be seen by most as deserving, but I’m not sure there are a ton of people outside of the productions themselves who are emotionally invested in the outcome. Join me below as i discuss each nominee and maybe offer some hints as to why people might feel this way. Then help us vote for our own favorite to take home Oscar gold in this category!
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Best Original Song Nominees (89th Academy Awards)


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Does anything about that top image look slightly off to you? If so, it’s probably because there are only four films nominated in the Best Original Song category instead of five. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t five nominated songs. It’s just that one of these movies has two. No points for guessing which one.

This is actually not that uncommon. In fact, the Best Original Song category has a history of wonky nomination counts for a variety of reasons. Back in 2013 one of the songs had its nomination revoked. Prior to that, a series of rules changes designed to reduce any perception of the category being “filled out” with unworthy nominees sometimes resulted in fields of three or four. A nomination process that required voters to rate each song, with only those rated higher than a set target gaining a place on the Oscars stage produced a situation in 2011 in which only two songs were nominated (prompting one high-profile singer to accuse the Academy of being “mean”). Over the first eleven years of the category’s existence voters were permitted to nominated as many songs as they liked…and boy did they like! Throughout the early forties no less than nine songs were nominated every single year, topping off at a whopping FOURTEEN in 1945. Obviously that was an out of control situation. People love being honored and they certainly love seeing their projects get free promotion. With no television show to keep on time, why not pile up as many nominations as possible if you can?

For a good long time after that, the Academy put a cap of five nominations on the category and as far as I can tell that was working pretty well. There were a few times when there were a small number of songs which the Academy considered to be qualified, and they would automatically reduce the number of nominated songs to three. This happened in 1988 when Carl Simon’s song from Working Girl took home the gold over Phil Collins’ retro bit of fluff from his otherwise unknown starring vehicle Buster. Considering the well-publicized demographics of the Academy it’s a little hard to swallow when they proclaim that only two or three songs deserve nominations. I’m going to stop short of criticizing them for nominating more than one song from a single movie, though. I personally think it’s pretty great if a particular musical is really that good that they can shower it with praise. Disney’s Beauty & the Beast really is that good, and a lot of people felt the same way about The Lion King. Besides, if they were limited to one song per film, my favorite movie song of the year probably wouldn’t have been nominated this time around.
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Review: The Nice Guys


The Nice Guys

Shane Black may not have invented the buddy movie (Butch And Sundance were there first). But he did create the modern version of it. When Lethal Weapon, made form his script, was released in 1987, the most recent buddy cop movie of that type was 1982’s 48 Hours, which made a movie star of Eddie Murphy. The earlier film was great. But it didn’t develop a whole sub-genre. Lethal Weapon did. It also launched the career of its screenwriter.

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Review: Drive


Drive is one of those movies that benefits from a lack of expectations.  I went into Drive knowing very little about it and I would recommend that you do the same.  If you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading and go out and rent it.  The odds are if you are reading my little blog, you’re the kind of movie-goer who won’t be disappointed.

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