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In going through yesterday's announced Oscar nominations, I was pleased that I've seen more than half the nominees in every major category. The worst category for me, ironically, is Best Picture; I still need to see half the nominees: American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Selma.

The other moves I need to see, spread out among the various categories, are Still Alice, Two Days, One Night, Into The Woods, Nightcrawler and Inherent Vice. I ought to be able to get most of these done by Oscar night, February 22, but it'll be a push...

If I had to guess who the big winners will be, just based on momentum, I'd probably bet on Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and Boyhood, but that only a moderately informed guess. I'll know a lot more in a few weeks.



Of course, timing is everything ... and this week one of the movies I saw ended up being snubbed by Oscar voters - Unbroken.

In retrospect, I must admit, I'm not surprised. Unbroken is one of those movies that is loaded with good intentions and loaded with talent ...but loaded to the point that it never takes flight and captures the viewer's imagination. The story is about Louis "Louie" Zamperini, the son of Italian immigrants who found his way out of a troubled childhood by running, and eventually went to the 1936 Olympics. Later, during World War II, he endured enormous psychological and physical torture in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, which is where most of the movie takes place.

I've not read the source material by Laura Hillenbrand, but Mrs. Content Guy has and loved it, so I'm inclined to blame the movie's faults on director Angelina Jolie. For reasons I cannot quite put my finger on, she is unable to establish - beyond obvious physical courage and enormous character - the transcendent nature of Zamperini's personality. Jack O'Connell is very good as Zamperini, but I don't think he's served well by the script and direction; they tell things that we ought to see, and we see things we ought to feel. In the hands of a more accomplished director, this could have been powerful stuff. But in Jolie's hands, it is a movie biography that paints b the numbers. Disappointing.



The other movie I saw this week was Taken 3, which they are telling us the third and final installment in the enormously successful series of old-guy-beats-up-young-guys movies that have turned Liam Neeson into an action star in his sixties. Neeson is fine, but the movie sort of hits the expected notes and never offers any real twists on the formula. That said, I enjoyed the movie for what it was .... but it is time for Neeson, who is a legitimately great actor, to do a movie that challenges him. And us.



I had a terrific red wine the other night - the 2011 laMaialina Gertrude Rosso Toscana, a fabulously rich Italian wine that is wonderful with any tomato or pasta dish. Get it, and thank me later.




That's it for this week. Have a great weekend ... and I'll see you Monday.

Slàinte!
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