Tag Archives: Ben AFfleck

A guest blog from a pretty “meh” night at the Oscars


Hi everyone. In lieu of my normal post-Oscar ranting and raving, my wonderful friend, fellow runner and more importantly, fellow film obsessive Diana D’Abruzzo has graciously accepted my invitation to write a guest blog on last night’s show. Diana and I have been friends for (eek!) 16 years now, since we met as cub reporters at the Wilmington Star-News. She now works in Washington, D.C., loves “The Princess Bride” as much as I do, and is usually hilarious and snarky about awards shows.

So here goes some rambling thoughts from throughout the Oscar telecast.

Take it away, Diana…

** Why didn’t they get Tina and Amy to host?” comment by William Shatner was what everyone was thinking. I’m skeptical about Seth MacFarlane. Don’t care for his humor.
**The cutaway to the socks in the dryer during the “Flight” puppet show was priceless.
**I’m annoyed they are using web articles as samples of tomorrow’s Oscar headlines. Why not newspapers, Academy? Not cool.
**”Hell they’re going to give it Anne,” comment by Sally Field in sketch was fabulous.
**Tommy Lee Jones is smiling so much now, I think someone did something to his face.
**Horrible bit between Melissa McCarthy and Paul Rudd. Not funny.
** The jokes about the “Beasts of the Southern Wild” girl were pretty funny, particularly the “In 16 years, she’ll be too old for Clooney.”
**Not a fan of using the “Jaws” theme to end speeches.
**Jealous Diana is actually a little happy that Jennifer Aniston is looking older.
**Bond tribute now. Guess I can take a nap
**Every time I look at Seth MacFarlane, I think of Peter Brady.
Back to back intros to “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty” means I better be seeing some Kyle Chandler soon.
**Jessica Chastain looks more and more like Jessica Rabbit with every awards show.
**So why isn’t the orchestra allowed in the actual Oscar auditorium? Not famous enough?
**Oscar game: singing or lip syncing?
** The “family Von Trapp” bit was … weird. I laughed but then was like, “That’s it? That’s the whole joke?”
**As soon as Christopher Plummer walked to the mic and said “these talented actress,” I said, “just give it to Anne already.”
**There are a lot of Anne haters out there.
**I thought Jennifer Lawrence was hands down best dressed (especially if you include hair, makeup and jewelry). A close second was Stacy Keibler, unfortunately.
**I could never handle the violence of the movie but that blip from “Django Unchained” with the gunshot sound and blood hitting the cotton was so cool and unique.
**Was in the bathroom during commercial break and heard “Ladies and gentlemen, George Clooney!” Never before have I washed my hands so quickly before skidding into the living room.
**Just saw back-to-back Facebook posts from friends who don’t know each other mentioning Cher in reference to Streisand’s hair.
**Just found out I’m not the only one who hears “Memories” and immediately thinks of “scattered pic-tures” from “Big.”

**See they already knew Adele would win so there was no need to sing the other songs live. 

**Why is every women dressed like an Oscar statue  tonight?

**Dude, Dustin Hoffman is shrinking. 
**Charlize Theron’s hair is so awesome.
**Love the disheveled Quentin Tarantino. I normally would make fun of him, but I won the category in the Oscar pool, so I’m happy for me, er, him.
**Michael Douglas is so amused by Jane Fonda’s dramatics.

**If you direct a tiger you deserve an Oscar.

** Making a joke about how late the Oscars is running is a requirement as a host. Like it was a requirement for Kristin Chenoweth to mention her height during each red-carpet interview.
**Jennifer Lawrence fell… Isn’t that the worst  nightmare come true for an actress? But i have a feeling getting an Oscar probably evens things out.

**I don’t think Streep even opened the envelope before announcing Daniel Day-Lewis’ win!

**Loved Daniel’s speech!
**Awkward camera pause on that guy who was not Steven Spielberg as Daniel was praising Spielberg.
**Jack Nicholson looks like Danny Devito!

** Michelle Obama giving out Best Picture? Seriously? So stupid.

**So proud of Ben Affleck!
** How does Kristen Stewart get to sit behind Steven Spielberg?
** Thought the ceremony was entertaining but between the Obama appearance and the final song, it sure did end on a low note.  But Ben’s speech was great, and I’m so glad he won.

Good News Friday: Oscar nominations come out, whoo-hoo! The L.A. Kings give $1 million to the community. A dance compilation to make you smile.


Always love the day when the Oscar nominations come out, as myself and millions of other movie fans get ready to debate the merits of movies we haven’t seen, movies we’ve seen that got robbed in the nomination fight, and trying to figure out who will win in some of the most competitive categories.

I love all the debate and the silliness, and can’t wait for Oscar night on Feb. 24.

Some quickie thoughts on the nominations:
— I’ve seen three of the nine Best Picture nominees, and hope to see “Django Unchained” pretty soon. If I had to guess right now, I’d say “Lincoln” is the favorite, “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Argo” have an outside chance, and “Life of Pi” and “Silver Linings Playbook” have almost no shot.

— I don’t know why the Academy hates Ben Affleck, but while “Argo” got a Best Picture nod, he didn’t get tabbed for Best Director. Just wrong.

— This may be the most loaded Best Supporting Actor field ever. I mean, how do you choose among Robert De Niro, Alan Arkin, Philip Seymour Hoffman (who was really a co-lead in “The Master”, but the equally-awesome Joaquin Phoenix was up in the Best Actor category), Tommy Lee Jones, and former winner Christoph Waltz? Absolute Murderer’s Row. No idea who’ll win that.
— Love that we have a 9-year-old nominee (Quvenzhané Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”) and an 85-year-old nominee (Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”) going against each other.

**And now, five minutes of a pretty awesome dance compilation mash-up, with every style you can think of. But instead of that famous video where that comedian does “The History of Dance,” this is the real performers. Pretty sweet stuff…

**Finally, a lot of us hockey fans, as we anxiously await the season to finally start (next Saturday, yay!), are wondering what NHL teams are going to do to make it up to us, after blowing four months of a season in a silly lockout.

Well, the L.A. Kings, the current Stanley Cup champs, are off to a good start. They’ve teamed up with McDonald’s to donate $1 million to four local charities, as a thank you to fans for the support.

The money will go to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Ronald McDonald House, the Boys and Girls Club of America, and City Year Los Angeles.

Very nice job, Kings. Very classy.

“Argo” as good as the hype says it is. Halloween lights, Gangnam style. And ESPN’s “Benji” a doc worth your time.

It’s pretty rare that a movie puts you literally on the edge of your seat in the final 15 minutes, and you really don’t know how it’s going to end.
Even more rare when it’s based on a true story.
But I saw “Argo” over the weekend, and it was pretty freaking fabulous. There are so many movies you see after hearing good reviews, and they’re just OK.

But “Argo” lives up to they hype it’s gotten. The script is terrific, the acting and cast are splendid (Ben Affleck’s the star, but John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and a sadly-underused Kyle Chandler are all first-rate), and the plot is too incredible to make up: During the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, a CIA team concocts a story to rescue six U.S. citizens who had escaped on the first day of the crisis and have been hiding in the Canadian embassy.

Their plan? Pretend to be a film crew scouting locations in Iran.
The movie (and the reality) sets this up brilliantly, creating a fake studio, fake script, and fake business cards for the hostages.

Ben Affleck, who’s turning out to be a hell of a director, is the CIA agent who’s the mastermind behind the plan. He does a great job as a director here letting the plot unspool slowly, and giving each of the six hostages a distinct identity.

The final 20 minutes, as the plan unfurls and the hostages go to the airport, is just a terrific piece of filmmaking. I highly, highly recommend you go see this movie.

All three of the flicks Affleck has directed have been stellar. Who knew Banky’s roommate from “Chasing Amy” was this good?

**I have tried as hard as I could to avoid the Gangnam-style craze, because I frankly don’t get why people think it’s so funny and cool. But a few things have slipped through my radar, and this seemed pretty darn cool.

Psy’s famous song set to Halloween light decorations. Kind of mesmerizing if you watch it closely…

**Finally, ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary series, which I wrote about extensively last year, is once again proving to be must-see TV. The first few episodes this year, especially the Ben Johnson 1988 Olympics one (*9.79, it’s called) have been terrific.

But Tuesday night’s was just beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s called “Benji,” and it’s about a former high school basketball star named Ben Wilson, who in 1984 was the No. 1 player in the nation. Out of Chicago’s famous Simeon High program, Wilson was a 6-foot-8 kid who could shoot, pass, and defend as well as anybody. (“He was Magic Johnson with a jump shot,” someone said in the film.)

He had survived and avoided the gangs and street life of Chicago until one day in November of 1984, when on the eve of his senior season, he was killed in a mugging attempt by two teenage hoodlums.

The movie takes you back to that time in Chicago, and shows you Wilson’s impact still today (NBA star Derrick Rose wore his uniform No. in high school, and Fab Five member Juwan Howard chose No. 25 when he got to college).

It’s a really well-researched and well-done movie, with the benefit of one of the convicted killers telling his side of the story as well.

It’s on again tonight at 9 p.m. on ESPN. Skip the World Series for 90 minutes; this is definitely worth it.

The Jets come apart in a horrible end to the season. A Happy New Year starts with yoga. And Ben Affleck, reconsidered

Well, that was just a fine and dandy way for the Jets to finish their season, eh?

As I suffered through most of the game on TV from Southern California (amazingly, it was the local game here yesterday; even when I try to get away from the Jets, they find me), I had very little interest or passion for it, I found. They are so unworthy of making the playoffs, and I knew even a good performance against Miami wouldn’t wipe away the stench of this disappointing season.
But you know, I gotta hand it to the boys, they still managed to tick me off. Mark Sanchez with three more truly brutal interceptions, two by defensive linemen. A sieve-like offensive line allowing the Dolphins to do whatever they wanted.

And a defense that played, once again, just badly enough to lose. More fun continued toward the end of the game, when star receiver/ultimate diva Santonio Holmes yelled at teammates in the huddle and was then benched for the final few minutes. I love Santonio’s production but good Christ he is just such a pain in the ass.

I really don’t have much more to say about this awful team. I expect they’ll fire offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, deservedly so, and I guess you have to give Sanchez one more year before giving up and realizing he’s not the answer at QB (as my smart friend David pointed out, fix the O-line, hire a good coordinator, and then see if Sanchez gets better).
I’ve been spoiled by the boys the last two years, and now this 8-8 season feels so much worse because we really thought the Jets were on the verge of something great.

Maybe it’s because I’m in SoCal, but I seem to have gotten over this loss pretty fast. Maybe I should move out here; the Jets won’t bother me as much.

**A Happy New Year to all of you out there on the Internets. I started mine by doing something completely new: My best friend Clay’s wife Amanda is a certified yoga instructor, and she gave me my first-ever lesson last night. I’ve always been pretty dubious about yoga; I know it helps people, centers you, good for breathing and stretching, all that stuff. But it wasn’t for me, I always thought.
After one session, I’m not a total convert, but I did enjoy it. Stretching muscles in different ways than I normally do was fun and only a little painful. The breathing really did seem to relax me (I almost fell asleep during Savasana  at the end). And challenging yourself in ways you’re not used to is always a good way to start the year.

Don’t sign me up for a yoga class yet, but I definitely am starting to see the appeal.

**Finally, a couple words on Ben Affleck. We watched the movie “The Company Men” last night, and he was really good in it. I don’t think he gets enough credit for being a good actor. He’s always been a pretty boy type, but I think he’s really come a long way. Sure, he still makes stupid movies sometimes, but in serious films like “Gone Baby Gone,” “The Town,” and now this one, he really has grown a huge amount in terms of acting ability.
I think he’s way better as a thespian than Matt Damon, his old buddy.

Anyway, check out “The Company Men” if you haven’t seen it. Depressing for most of the film, it lifts you up at the end. Really good performances from Affleck, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones, too.

The Muppets hit SNL, and soon a movie theater! A disgusting abuse of police power at UC-Davis. And “Sexiest Man Alive” confuses me.

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Yeah, I’m pretty damn excited about the new Muppets movie. More than excited; downright giddy.
Love the Muppets. Always have, always will. My favorite? Sometimes it’s Kermit, usually it’s Fozzie, and in the right moment, it has even been Animal.
I have been very impressed by how much the studio, Disney, has been promoting the movie, and all the trailers look really good, too. (Of course, I already love the Muppets and will see the movie regardless, so I’m probably not the target audience.)
Anyway, the film comes out this week and with star Jason Segel hosting “Saturday Night Live” last weekend, well, this happened. And it was awesome.

**There is a moment in every protest movement that galvanizes a country. I’m not so sure America is able to be moved in one direction anymore. But if we are, well, this ought to do it. At the University of California-Davis last Friday, police pepper sprayed a non-violent student demonstration. Watch as an officer of the law named John Pike calmly sprays dozens of students (11 were treated for injuries, and two went to the hospital) for absolutely no reason. There was no violence, Officer Pike was in no danger, and yet he casually decides to injure protesters who are sitting on the ground.

Disgusting and disgraceful doesn’t even begin to cover it. (Andrew Sullivan has a typically terrific take here.) This kind of behavior, this kind of police brutality, should not happen her in the United States of America. And yet it does. And watch how quickly people forget about this incident, and gloss it over.Please don’t.
Watch this video, and take a look at America.

**Finally, I am once again puzzled while standing in a supermarket checkout line. I see People has named Bradley Cooper the “Sexiest Man Alive. ” First, congrats, Bradley.
But I now am filled with questions. First of all, did all the previous winners die? Or have they been hideously disfigured in some kind of accident? Because I’d like to know what caused them to lose their title. If I’m Ben Affleck or Hugh Jackman (past winners), I’d like to know what’s made me less sexy.

Then I got to wondering about how “Sexiest Man Alive” is chosen. Is there criteria? A secret formula (even more secret than the Coke formula?) Do judges sit around in a conference room for hours, debating the hotness of Colin Farrell vs. Paul Rudd? Are there scores kept? Does it get violent, with one judge arguing for her man and another disagreeing?

These are the things I wonder about.