Tuesday, January 31, 2006

My Oscar picks

I'm doing this before I've read too many other opinions, just to see if I still agree when the awards actually come around. I'll put my own vote first, then my guess for the Academy's pick in parentheses if it differs from mine.

Best Picture: Brokeback Mountain.

In a change of pace, I have actually seen all but one (Capote) of the best picture nominees. These are some really phenomenal films, and it is not easy for me to decide. Crash had a fantastic cast and made for an enjoyable and socially conscious experience, but I felt the characters were often cardboard and the film's plot often went for quantity over quality. If not Brokeback, I would have to give the award to Good Night and Good Luck, which was one of the most topical and just plain solid -- in writing, directing, and acting -- movies in years. Munich was an excellent film in my opinion, and also very well-rounded, but it wasn't really a stand out. There was a certain sense of Another Serious Spielberg Film [tm]. Brokeback Mountain has to top them all, though. There was no element that didn't achieve near-perfection. That the decision of which movie deserves to win is hard is not a reflection of mediocrity, but of excellence.

Best Director: Ang Lee

As the picture and director nominees actually line up this year, there isn't really more that I need to say about this one. My feelings about the directing of the movies is pretty much parallel to my feelings about the films themselves. As with the picture category, I do think that George Clooney deserves serious recognition for Good Night and Good Luck, but Ang Lee did one better.

Best Actor: Heath Ledger (Phillip Seymour Hoffman)

I haven't seen three of the performances in this category, so it's between Ledger and David Strathairn. It's really a coin toss for me. I believe that both gave equally compelling performances, but I also think Ledger had a much more difficult role to play, so I'll give it to him. I would bet it's going to Phillip Seymour Hoffman, though. I'm sure he was excellent, as always, in Capote.

Best Actress: unknown (Reese Witherspoon)

Didn't see a single one of these. Just picking which actress I generally like the most, I'd say Felicity Huffman. I am certain Reese Witherspoon is going to win, and she may have been great, but I really don't care for her.

Best Supporting Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal (unknown)

This is interesting. I have seen two of the performances, and frankly Matt Dillon didn't do anything for me, so I'm going with Gyllenhaal. However, I am almost certain he won't win, and he probably doesn't deserve to. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any of the other actors' films, so I couldn't even begin to guess who it's going to be.

Best Supporting Actress: Michelle Williams (unknown)

Brokeback Mountain is the only of the actress' films I've seen. I really have no clue how the others are. I hear Rachel Weisz was good, and I usually like her performances quite a bit, but I don't know what the Academy will think.

So, yeah, I guess it's Brokeback Mountain all the way for me, but that may be as much out of ignorance of some of the other nominees than anything else. I wouldn't mind such a sweep, in any case, if only to stick it to the bigots.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Support the troops?

Warriors and wusses
I don't support our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.


I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country, especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq. I get mad when I'm tricked into clicking on a pop-up ad, so I can only imagine how they feel.

But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it's Vietnam.
It's interesting. It's something I've considered before. I generally say I "support" the troops, and what I mean by that is that I've got no issue with the individuals who are in the military, only the use to which they're put. That said, I do agree with the gist of the article. I have always voiced the opinion that if you join the military during an immoral war, you are willingly volunteering to be put to immoral use. Nobody could sign up after March 2003 and not reasonably expect to be used in the service of the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq.

I would say my "support" is much greater for those who joined before the invasion -- perhaps expecting to actually be fighting al-Qaeda, or perhaps earlier still -- and therefore had no volition in the matter. However, a good friend of mine recently joined the Marines, and I would not hesitate to say that I think that is an utterly immoral decision, and frankly in-fucking-sane at this point.

But some people honestly think bringing violence upon Iraqis can bring peace to us, and I'm not saying that to them they are not acting on a moral obligation for the country, and that is why I would still never wish them harm and hope they all come back in one piece. In that sense, I will always support the troops. I just think that the entire idea of war for any reason other than literally repelling invasion or preventing genocide is morally bankrupt, and cannot understand the mindset that leads some to feel otherwise.

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Friday, January 13, 2006


Whichever editor missed the last line in that article deserves a promotion.

[via Alas, a blog.]

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Steinem likes to say "fuck"

Glora Steinem, Power Geezer
What is Gloria Steinem's advice to young women these days?

To do "whatever they fucking well please," America's foremost feminist said, stabbing into poached eggs at a brunch-mobbed diner on a recent Sunday. "Ha ha ha! Have some fries."
I fancy myself a feminist, and I definitely like Steinem's way of presenting it. I've got a special place in my heart for people who are outspoken and really don't care what anybody thinks about it. Richard Dawkins on religion, for instance. Or Steinem on gender and politics.
She said that her No. 1 priority at the moment is "getting rid of George Bush, by any means necessary, short of violence," because, obviously, it affects everything else. "We are not in his control," Ms. Steinem said, "so I say, fuck him."
[via Feministe]

Sunday, January 8, 2006

Culture of Death

Pope attacks 'culture of death'
Pope Benedict XVI performed the first baptisms of his pontificate on Sunday, using the occasion to launch an impassioned denunciation of irresponsible sex and a "culture of death" that he said pervaded the modern world.
The thing that always gets me about the Catholic position on sex, and that of certain other religious groups, is that they equate responsibility with the willingness to have a child. They say people have irresponsible sex while, in the same breath, say that people shouldn't use any form of birth control or abort unwanted pregnancy. To me, birth control and abortion are the hallmarks of responsible sex! Irresponsible is getting married and then leaving things to random chance. Irresponsible is bringing unwanted children into the world, and bringing children that cannot be financially supported into the world.

When referring to the "culture of death," the Pope equates birth control and abortion with the suffering inflicted on Christians in the Roman arenas. But birth control and abortion prevent suffering! They prevent the physical suffering of women who do not wish to endure pregnancy. They prevent the mental suffering of women and men who are not prepared to raise children. Perhaps most importantly, they prevent the suffering of unwanted children who may have had to live lives of emotional turmoil and economic poverty.

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Catch-up smorgasbord

I seem to have taken an unintentional break from blogging. In review:

I am now the proud owner of the complete Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, and Arrested Development DVD sets, so if you ever hear me claiming to be bored, you know that I am lying.

I had a nice time in Houston visiting family and friends. I even saw a handful of people that I last saw before they had gone through puberty, which was interesting, to say the least.

Brokeback Mountain really is as good as they say it is, and is probably the saddest movie I've ever seen. Certainly the only one that has actually made me want to cry in a long time. And I don't even like romance.

I am back at work after the winter break. Nothing exciting there.