Sunday, February 22, 2009

Egregious Sins of the Academy



We're not sure why people get so into the Academy Awards. It has five times the prestige of any other award shows, but it's not clear that they get it right more than 50% of the time. I mean, any purportedly cinematic organization that would have the producer of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo as it's president should pretty much be a tip-off that maybe they'll get it wrong from time to time. They're kind of like sports writers voting for the MVP in that regard.

The difference between MVP voters and the academy is this: with MVP voters, there's no rhyme or reason; with the Academy, you can pretty much figure out who's going to win as soon as the nominations are revealed. It's why Nate Silver can say with 99.7% certainty that Slumdog Millionare is going to win Best Picture: the Academy is so predictable.

It doesn't matter what the actual best picture/actor/director was, it simply matters (A) how long it was, and (B) how much money it made. Bonus points are awarded for historical pieces.

Anyway, here's a list of awards that we think the Academy would like to have a "do-over" for over the last 15 years. Or at least, the ones that most of the public now realize were bo-o-o-o-o-gus.

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1996. Best Picture.
What won: The English Patient.
What didn't win: Fargo.
Actually, we're kind of surprised that Fargo even got nominated. We suppose some sort of kudos for the Academy is in order for that. But still, find me one person that enjoyed the English Patient more than Fargo. Actually, find me one person that enjoyed the English Patient.

1997. Best Picture.
What won: Titanic.
What didn't win: As Good As it Gets. L.A. Confidential. Good Will Hunting.
A pretty strong group, aside from the movie that won it. Ten years later, Titanic is a punch line and Celene Dion is the joke. Thankfully, Leo and Kate were able to pick up the pieces and make respectable actors out of themselves. No thanks to James Cameron.

1997. Best Director.
Who won: James Cameron.
Who didn't win: Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential).
My guess is the academy regretted this decision about 30 seconds after he won it with the ridiculous "I'm the king of the world!" acceptance speech. Now it looks even more ridiculous. Side note: James Cameron's Aliens of the Deep is the worst nature documentary you'll ever see. In fact, I'm not sure how you'd make a worse nature documentary. And we're total suckers for nature docs.

1998. Best Picture.
What won: Shakespeare in Love.
What didn't win: Life is Beautiful. Saving Private Ryan. American History X (not nominated).
Maybe the most confusing winner of all time. Saving Private Ryan had all the ingredients: really long, period piece, tangentially related to the Holocaust, starred Tom Hanks. We think this might have been an accident. Like the most incredible typo of all time.



1999. Best Actress.
Who won: Hilary Swank (Boys Don't Cry).
Who didn't win: Annette Benning (American Beauty).
Who hasn't reenacted the scene where Annette Benning slaps herself because she can't sell that house? OK, probably a lot of people. But at least you know what scene we're talking about.
Side note: this was the year Magnolia came out. Only nomination was for Tom Cruise, Best Supporting Actor. The omission of Magnolia being nominated is unsurprising, but probably the most egregious sin on this list.

2000. Best Picture.
What won: Gladiator.
What didn't win: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Traffic.
Gladiator wasn't that egregious, but we'll never figure out why it would win Best Picture while Traffic took Best Director. Oh wait, stop me if you've heard it before: super-long, historical setting, made lots of money.

2002. Best Picture.
What won: Chicago.
What didn't win: Gangs of New York. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Adaptation (not nominated).
Simply ridiculous. And at least a LOTR victory might have saved us from 2003's travesty.



2002. Best Actor.
Who won: Adrian Brody (The Pianist).
Who didn't win: Daniel Day Lewis (Gangs of New York). Nic Cage (Adaptation). Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt).
Actually a really strong category. Can't argue too much with Brody, but...

2002. Best Director.
Who won: Roman Polanski (The Pianist).
Who didn't win: Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York). Spike Jones (Adaptation, not nominated).
So let me get this straight: The Pianist wins best Director, and best Actor, but Chicago is the best film of the year? Was Catherine Zeta-Jones that spectacular?? It doesn't matter, the neglect of Adaptation is criminal. Seriously, why are congressmen hauling in baseball players for steroids but no one is investigating the 2002 Oscars?

2003. Best Picture.
What won: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
What didn't win: Lost in Translation.
Once again, we beseech you. LOTR was essentially filmed as one long movie. Then they split it into three more still-long movies. The point is, there's nothing really that distinguishes the LOTR films from each other. Yet, all of a sudden Return of the King, the most superfluous of the three, is the Oscar winner. That makes total sense considering the movie was about an hour too long.


2004. Best Actress.

Who won: Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby)
Who didn't win: Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine...). Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace). Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake).
You could have thrown a dart and found a more deserving performance. In fact, maybe that's how they decided this one.

2005. Best Picture.
What won: Crash.
What didn't win: Brokeback Mountain. Capote. Good Night and Good Luck. Munich.
Probably the worst Academy decision since Titanic. If you're going to get it wrong that's one thing. If you're going to get it wrong because you want to look like you're being all race-relation-y, that's much much worse. This movie didn't win anything of importance besides best picture. So it didn't have the best actor, actress, supporting actress, supporting actor, screenplay, or director, but somehow it's the best picture out there? Makes no sense. At least, it doesn't until you see the immense liberal guilt just oozing from the uber-wealthy Hollywood class.

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We didn't see many any of the movies nominated for this years' awards, so we have no comment, but rest assured, when we have one, you'll be the first to know it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

DMS Fatherly Advice: Supermarket Edition

We here at Dear Mr. Supercomputer are always trying to think of ways we can give back to the community. And, much like cable news programming, we feel the best way to make this world a better place is to tell you how it should be run. Or in the absence of that, try to give you a few pointers along the way. We also like to yell real loudly about it. Maybe we're more like CNBC's Jim Cramer in that regard.

Anyway, we know a few things, in particular about fatherhood. In fact, we don't want to give away any Oscar spoilers, but we think we're in line for a World's Greatest Dad lifetime achievement award.

So today, and in the future, we'll be dishing out the fatherly advice for those wayward or future paterfamilias.

Today's edition: Trip to the supermarket.




OK, hot shot. You have two small kids to haul around and a shopping list that gets longer each time you look at it. Let's hear some pointers:

-- Make a map. Seriously, make a fucking map of the store. If not actually on paper, then know the store inside and out. And stick with that store. Never ever change (you've been warned). Why is this so critical and fatherly advice #1?

Cookies. Ice cream. Kids books. Popsicles. And even the occasional seasonal display of stuffed animals. Or worse: one of those crane games. Try explaining to a three year old that it's fucking impossible to actually win a stuffed animal from one of those things.

Long story short: the grocery store is a land mine. You need to know your route, otherwise on of these proverbial land mines will blow up in your face in the form of a screaming child.

-- Gum. You know how the kid always wants to eat everything that is in your damned cart? "No, really Daddy! I'm soooo hungry! I want to eat this!" "It's a box of detergent." And then you get to the checkout line and half the stuff is already opened up and 3% eaten? And you have to keep explaining to the checkout person that you don't need a replacement: we're the ones that opened it. Yeah, we hate that. It's embarrassing: "Can't you carnivorous vultures at least wait until you're in the car??!" the person thinks.

Solution: gum. Give some to your kid and they'll be fine the whole time. Or at least it'll give you a good 15 minutes of silence with which you can run from aisle to aisle tossing things in your cart like those old supermarket giveaway game shows.

-- Practice your "Oh my gosh, don't my kids say the darndest things?! I have no idea where she gets it!" laugh. This comes in handy when you're walking down the aisle and your child yells at the top of her lungs, "DADDY ARE YOU GOING TO GET SOME BEER??!!!" "Ha ha!" I say as the people around me write a note to call CPS later.

-- Park next to the cart return. Not the closest spot to the store. HUGE rookie mistake. It may be a few extra spots further, but nothing sucks worse than unloading your groceries into your car, hoisting in your kids and strapping them into their seats, then having the cart left over with no cart return in sight. Leave the cart there, and you're a dick. Go return the cart somewhere, and someone will jump in to your car and kidnap your kids and you won't have a ride home. It sucks both ways. So make sure you park next to the CART RETURN, not the store itself.

-- Don't get those stupid shitty carts that are dressed up as cars. Seriously, those things are a waste of everyone's time and space. Have you ever tried steering one of those things. It's like an 18-wheeler trying to navigate Lombard Avenue. Don't even bother.

Well, that's all the advice we have for you in regards to the dreaded supermarket trip. It's worth noting a conversation we once had with a friend who had two kids - at the time we just had the one:

Me: Man. Having two kids must be crazy. How do you take them to the store?
Her: Don't. Just don't do it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

MP3 of the Week: "Watching NBA Basketball With the Elderly" Edition

Have you ever watched an NBA game with someone over the age of 50?

Ex. Cru. Ti. A. Ting.

(Note: We're assuming the aforementioned 50+ year old doesn't regularly watch NBA games.)

It doesn't matter who's playing, the importance of the game, what time of day it is, or what cycle the moon is currently in: you're guaranteed to hear the following comments:

"Why don't they call traveling anymore?"

"It's no longer a team sport. It's about the individual."

"I don't watch basketball anymore because they're all showboats."

"What's with all the tattoos!"

"Just look at those baggy pants! How do they not trip over them?"

"I hate how they yell after a dunk."

"They dunk too much."

"Why do they have to play so much rap music?"

"You know who knew how to play the game? Bob Cousey."

"No one plays defense anymore."

"The score of the game is too low."

(*after traveling is called*) "Oh I can't believe they called traveling!"

"They don't even try anymore."

"Buncha thugs."

In fact, you're lucky if you can escape a two hour match without hearing anything overtly racist. (Ed. Note: Actually, by the time it gets to this point, it's already probably too late.)

The weird thing is, the same 50+ year old will sit in silence for a three-and-a-half hour football game and not make a single comment. Never mind the fact that NFL players get into about 150 times as much law-trouble as NBA players. And serious shit too. Like, murder.

What other comments have we missed? We're sure there's a few more.

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MP3 of the Week:

Filter - "Hey Man Nice Shot"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

From Thomas Friedman's 2/11/09 column

"The Open Door Bailout"

"Leave it to a brainy Indian to come up with the cheapest and surest way to stimulate our economy: immigration.

'All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.'”



And,

"We live in a technological age where every study shows that the more knowledge you have as a worker and the more knowledge workers you have as an economy, the faster your incomes will rise. Therefore, the centerpiece of our stimulus, the core driving principle, should be to stimulate everything that makes us smarter and attracts more smart people to our shores. That is the best way to create good jobs."



At this point, we're really not sure why Thomas Friedman doesn't have a high level cabinet post. Energy, labor, technology, foreign affairs. He's probably twice as smart and thrice as worldly as anyone in the Obama administration except perhaps Obama himself.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Charged With "Lying?"



In a related story, Chris Brown was charged with "being a big meanie" and Jamal Anderson was charged with "doing icky stuff."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I Wish Democrats Said "Renewable Energy" With the Same Slobbering, Fanaticism Say, "Tax Cuts."

(Ed. Note: The following essay contains views which aren't necessarily the views of Dear Mr. Supercomputer, it's parent company, Dear Mr. Supercomputer Inc., and it's parent company, Merck.

For this reason, we are switching to the first person singular, "I," instead of the usual first person plural, "We.")

This is why I could never really disparage anyone who voted for Nader in 2000 (or 2004, dear).

Say what you will about Republicans (I often do), they stick to their guns. In the face of two straight elections where they had their asses handed to them, in the face of the popular vote going Democrat in four of the past five elections, in the face of becoming a regional party, they aren't ceding one bit of ground.

In fact, they're doing the opposite. Last week, zero house Republicans voted for the stimulus bill. Perhaps more stunning, only three out of one hundred seventy eight (178) house Republicans voted for the Ledbetter Equal Pay Act. This was a piece of legislation that allows female (or male, I suppose) employees to sue their employer for up to (but not exceeding) $300,000 if they are discriminated against vis-a-vis their pay. That means that 175 house Republicans voted against a piece of legislation would ensure equal pay for equal work.

It's the 2009 and a large swath of Republicans feel that equal pay for equal work shouldn't be a part of U.S. law.

But anyway, this is supposed to be an essay praising Republicans. Yes, praising them.

You see, Democrats, unlike Republicans, are big pussies.

I mean, as soon as Obama's elected and Democrats achieve a sizable majority in the House and the Senate, they start capitulating to the Republicans. I mean, if we hadn't seen the election results, we would have thought the Republicans had just beaten down the Democrats for two straight election cycles.

Give credit to Republicans: they don't give a fuck whether or not they come back to power. It's almost like they like being in the minority, causing trouble, and making Democrats look like douchebags (Mission Accomplished!). And Republicans certainly don't give a shit whether or not they appear "bi-partisan."

Democrats are currently in the process of going back on everything in the stimulus bill. What were among the first few things to get cut? STD prevention, education, and Science ($1 billion for National Science Foundation cut out today). And the Democrats let that happened because they're afraid of a fillibuster. Or afraid of the "P-Word."

Sex! Science! Education!!!!! Not to my kid you don't!!!

My God, we're back to the 18th century.

Obama was elected on the ambiguous "Change" theme. I suppose that meant a lot of things to a lot of people. To many, I suppose that meant, "bi-partisanship." I, however, was certainly hoping for a liberal mandate (which it was, just few are willing to pick up the flag and charge). We have a lot to make up for after eight years of bullshit and it's going to take a ton of investment to make up for all the shit that's been kicked down the road.

Thankfully, it appears as if Democrats are starting to wise up. And it only took them a few weeks to realize, "Holy shit! We've got a massive fucking majority and we can do what the fuck we want! Suck it bitches!!!!!!!" It's about time.

I suppose that's what I was hoping for vis-a-vis, "Change."