Upcoming TFO Awards Editions

Hello, TFO readers!

As you can notice, my blog only comes to life during Oscar season. As of the ongoing features of this blog, well, they’re not really that ongoing.

The last post for Beyond the Ballot was way back in July of last year. I loved that semi-project of mine, but there’s a lot that happened (and did not happen) to me last year that I lost any drive continuing. Not the project, but writing as well as in my other endeavors.

The last edition of the TFO Awards, honoring excellence in film for the year 2015, was finished June of last year. That was a thrilling, if exhausting ordeal to go through 234 films to look for the best of 2015. I don’t think I could do that herculean task again, given that I’m also fighting with time. Who would care about 2016 in film if I do it in 2019?

But I do that for self-closure. I also need to accept the fact that films are not my top priority anymore, and if I want to continue loving it, I need to not turn my film watching experience into a chore. That’s a passion killer.

I also cannot commit anymore to complicated video presentations like what I did during the 6th TFO Awards; it takes A LOT of time and effort.

With that, I’ve set up a long-term viewing plan that would help me close the gap between the year in film celebrated in the TFO Awards and the actual year. It is going to involve non-hectic but careful strategy so that I could finish 2016 soon and then move on with the other years in film.

Here’s what’s going to be the plan:

  • 8th TFO Awards (2016): around December 2019
  • 9th TFO Awards (2017): around June 2020
  • 10th TFO Awards (2018): around December 2020
  • 11th TFO Awards (2019): around June 2021
  • 12th TFO Awards (2020): around December 2021
  • 13th TFO Awards (2021): around August 2022

So basically, I have four years to wrap up six years in film without the unhealthy cramming of films to watch. The estimated number of films to be watched are kept at a relatively logical level so as not to interrupt the more important things in life (work, figure skating, mental health, etc.).

This 2019, the plan will involve watching mostly 2016 films but also giving time to films of 2017 and 2018 for an easier transition. The plan will also allow any interruptions in the viewing plan due to films from other years, urgent matters, among others.

If you’re still reading, I’m so sorry that this drought in my blog happened. Sucks that this blog will be celebrating its tenth anniversary to sparse and usually unattended blog posts.

I have apologized to you a lot of times now and will continue to do so.

This blog has become an integral part of my growth as an avid filmgoer to becoming a film student to actually graduating.

I hope this is not the final post of The Final Oscar.

Are you still there? Anyone?

.


Juan Carlos Ojano
The Final Oscar

Advertisements

2018 in Film Watching

2018 was not the best year I’ve had, and same goes with my film watching.

This year, I have watched 167 films.

Here are the number of films I have watched throughout the years:

2018: 167
2017: 195
2016: 149
2015: 171
2014: 255

Here are the best and worst films I have watched during the past year:

BEST: Call Me by Your Name (2017) [A] – watched on January 22

“Relaxed yet thrilling. Organic yet incisive. Meandering yet controlled. Felt every emotional beat. Hammer mystifying, Stuhlbarg touching, Chalamet heart-shattering. Sensual, tangible, complete. Ending cornered me, and then broke me. Feels perfect.”

 

WORST: Spectre (2015) [C-] – watched on January 1

“How to make James Bond boring? Drab visuals, insipid characters, distant narrative. Had a brilliant opening, but I reached a point where I just stopped caring. There’s seriously a problem when Sam Smith’s less-than-thrilling theme is not the worst part of it.”

 

What are your favorite film viewing experiences this past years? Share your thoughts below. Have a wonderful new year of more film watching!

69 Years of Meryl Streep

It’s Queen Meryl’s birthday!

If you know me, you know how much she means to me. One of the biggest inspirations in my life. An artist that has continually raised the standards of her craft.

I couldn’t articulate enough how much she means to me, as much as she does to millions of filmgoers around the world.

I am happy to be living in a time when she is still continues give her life to film.

I would love to meet her someday.

Meanwhile, to celebrate her birthday, here is a rundown of her 21 Academy Award nominations. (She has the most nominations for an actor, by the way).

##Ha

The Deer Hunter (1978) as LindaKramer vs. Kramer (1979) as Joanna Kramer

The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981) as Sarah/Anna

Sophie’s Choice (1982) as Sophie Zawitowski

Silkwood (1983) as Karen Silkwood

Out of Africa (1985) as Karen Blixen

Ironweed (1987) as Helen Archer

A Cry in the Dark (1988) as Lindy Chamberlain

Postcards from the Edge (1990) as Suzanne Vale

The Bridges of Madison County (1995) as Francesca Johnson

One True Thing (1998) as Kate Gulden

Music of the Heart (1999) as Roberta Guaspari

Adaptation. (2002) as Susan Orlean

The Devil Wears Prada (2006) as Miranda Priestly

Doubt (2008) as Sister Aloysius Beauvier

Julie & Julia (2009) as Julia Child

The Iron Lady (2011) as Margaret Thatcher

August: Osage County (2013) as Violet Weston

Into the Woods (2014) as The Witch

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) as Florence Foster Jenkins

The Post (2017) as Katherine Graham

.

Which Meryl Streep performance is your favorite?

Nine Years of Blogging

Yep, that’s me now, nine years after I first started this blog.

Back then, I was a sophomore in high school, watching films almost every day after school. With all the films I’ve been watching, I found it necessary to look online for other cinephiles as I was not contented with writing on my own journals about the films I’ve watched.

In this search, some of the first blogs I discovered were The Film Experience (whose comprehensive discussion of the Oscar race that time really interested me), Nick’s Flick Picks (whose coverage of film and actresses is something to aspire), and Alex in Movieland (whose discussion of different Best Actress years tapped into my love for acting and actresses).

Also, something happened around that time: Meryl Streep delivered her two-punch performances that forever changed things. Her work in Doubt and Julie & Julia made me realize that wow, I think this actress is fantastic. Playing characters distinctively different from each other – one a guarded depiction of traditionalist paradigm, one a joyous celebration of life and love – Queen Meryl has opened a wide array of possibilities of what film and film acting can do. She has set the standards of excellence for me, and she still continues to do so.

Feeling the need to join the discussion, I decided to put up my own blog. With no clear vision on what to do, I just started writing random posts (reviews, predictions, etc). And with the sea of bloggers discussing Best Actress around that time period (there were a lot), I felt I wasn’t alone in my love for film.

I hosted two Smackdowns (with the idea originating from Stinkylulu), pitting Best Picture nominees per year and having different bloggers vote, and then coming up with a consensus on what was the eventual winner. I did two of those: 2008 and 1995. I was so happy being able to host two, but school caught up, and I had to do less hassle things for my blog.

Then came the Best Picture Project: a seemingly deranged attempt to watch the Best Picture nominees per year and then ranking them, in the style of Alex in Movieland‘s discussion of Best Actress. I admit originality was not by strongest suit, and since I didn’t know how to do things, I just emulated what other bloggers were doing. But while almost all did Best Actress, I was doing Best Picture. It lasted for a long time: I was able to do twelve Best Picture years (you can find the link at the sidebar).

While this is all happening in my blog, I’ve started making short films in high school, and then perhaps the biggest step in my love for film happened: I applied (and eventually got in) to a film school. I got to meet so many people, became a part of a student film organization, and was able to make ‘serious’ short films, including my thesis film that I’m still very proud of.

As the rest of this are all happening, the Best Picture project waned. I’ve become more interested in doing the TFO Awards, honoring excellence in film for a specific year. This one was the most interesting for me since it forced me to watch films that I wouldn’t have normally seen. Driven by my strong opinions of shoulda been nominated, I challenged myself saying go ahead, watch more films and then you make your own awards. I’ve been doing this now for seven years, with the recently concluded 7th TFO Awards honoring 2015 in film.

Imagine that: awarding 2015 films in 2018.

The backlog was insane. Truthfully, it’s an insane task to even try watch all the best of a specific year. There is not enough time to even watch the best of a year, let alone all the best films of all time. And look at what I said:

This one was the most interesting for me since
it forced me to watch films that I wouldn’t have normally seen.

Yes, there were moments when I do feel I’m just forced to watch films since it’s for the blog. And there aren’t even a lot of readers here. But I was doing it as personal closure for years in film. Now, I’m on to hopefully finishing 2016 in film by December. But just imagine the daunting task.

Truth be told, it’s taxing to do it anymore. I mean I love film and I always will, but I miss those younger years when I was watching films because I want to and not because I have to. And no one’s even forcing me: it’s all self-inflicted responsibilities for this blog.

Add to that the fact that I’ve fallen out of my love for filmmaking and film in general due to burnout after making my thesis film. Basically, the latter half of 2016 was confusing times for my relationship with film.

Something happened in January 2017 that reignited my love for film(making): watching La La Land on the big screen.

So for the big part of 2017, I felt recharged. I got a full-time job for the first time, and it has afforded me to watch films on the big screen when I want to. I started writing scripts again, I’ve met with my friends from film school semi-regularly. Basically, just to bring the spark back to my dream while keeping it all grounded in reality.

My thesis film got minimal film festival exposure, which was nice (and it still does). But at that point, filmmaking wasn’t the biggest dream anymore. How ironic for someone who cannot dream of anything to do except making films when I was still in high school.

However, after more than a year, something happened again. In February of 2018, I:

  • watched I, Tonya on the big screen and discovered this thing called figure skating and it just thrilled me;
  • watched the 2018 Canadian Nationals free skate of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to the soundtrack of Moulin Rouge!, and;
  • watched the 2018 US Nationals short program of Adam Rippon. You know, just owning the ice and being out and proud.

You do get to watch a lot of things when you are unemployed. I discovered something that I really love now: figure skating.

I even enrolled in figure skating lessons, and I intend to pursue doing the higher levels. It’s taking most of my time now, and I’d rather do off-ice exercises than watch a film.

I’ve even done this just for fun.

And we go back to the 7th TFO Awards: just like its previous edition, it was supposed to have video presentations, just like the Academy Awards. However, I grew tired of it. Was my love of film starting to dissipate?

I don’t think so, but now I’m starting to prioritize more.

Obviously, I think I’m over the phase of doing the Best Picture Project. Watching the pantheon of Best Picture nominees at the Oscars doesn’t interest me that much anymore (even if I memorized all the nominees just for fun).

Do I still want to watch films per year to determine my personal choices, hence the TFO Awards? Yes, although I won’t be as crazy as watching 200+ films, I hope.

I found myself asking this question: what’s something in film that still has my passion and interest?

There are two categories at the Academy Awards that has interested me the most: Best Foreign Language Film and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.

The former because there is so much cinema has to offer rather than just sticking yourself to Hollywood. Representation matters, and in this world we live in right now where there is so much divisiveness and othering, it’s important to know and discover how multi-faceted the human experience is.

Human experience is not just the white American experience.

There is the European experience, the Latino experience, the Asian experience, the African experience, the Australian experience, the indigenous peoples’ experience. And cinema has the capability to do that. And while the Best Foreign Language Film category is not without its flaws, it’s a great starting point to explore what is going on around the world in relation to world cinema. Special mention also to the Best Documentary Feature category.

Now, the latter. Best Actress.

Again, representation matters. With the colossal shift caused by the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, we are having conversations about women now more than ever. Lack of (leading) roles for women, gender pay gap, sexual harassment allegations – issues of women, LGBTQ+, and minorities have been put to the center of spotlight for the first time in Hollywood, and let’s do our best to keep the conversation going and the change coming.

That leads me to what I’m about to do in this blog.

I’m tracking the Best Actress contenders per year, starting back from 2009 (the first year I blogged) all the way to 1927/28, the first year of the Academy Awards. Yes, from the supposed snubs, runners-up, long shots, up to the longer shots with eligible films.

And no, I’m not attempting to watch them all. Of course, I cannot. However, I want to take a look at how the roles of women in film have evolved. And I’m talking about the quality, quantity, and diversity of roles eligible for the Academy Awards.

From the years called the strongest (1950, 1962, 1969, 1974, 1987, 1995, 2006) to the weakest (1953, 1970, 1975, 1984, 1994, 2003, 2005), I would like to see how far we have come in terms of representation of women in film vis-à-vis the Academy Awards.

And I would want to see: are those “weak years” a result of lack of good performances of women in film? Or perhaps good roles for women? Or perhaps it’s the laziness of the Academy to look for outside-the-box choices to fill the final five? Or perhaps the laziness of Hollywood to even make films with women at the center? Or maybe the critical reception at time affected it (remember: majority of film critics are white male)?

Part of me thinks there is a smidge of sexism in these claims, but we’ll see. With that, I’ll try doing something

I’m calling this non-committal project (of sorts):

Best Actress nominees as well as contenders will be reviewed and given performance profiles. I’m still thinking whether it would be a written blog post (normal, easier) or a video essay (time and effort consuming; I haven’t tried it).

Performances will then be rated, with increments of 0.5 (if only necessary), but here’s the general grading system (with some random rambling about the rating):

5
FOR THE AGES/FANTASTIC
achieves high level of excellence in film acting
with skill and over-all emotional impact

4
GREAT
my enthusiasm isn’t as sky high as the ones above,
but distinctive and remarkable in its own right

3
VERY GOOD
there is so much to respect and even like with
the work despite noticeable flaws and/or limitations

2
OKAY
major problems exist, but okay to good OR
lacking but with shining moments

1
BAD
either squandered potential with objectionable acting choices
or not even trying to elevate awful material; despicable

I’m not really hard to please, so you may notice if I would get too generous, but I’ll do my best to keep things in perspective. (Objectivity in film criticism is almost a myth).

I’d want to watch films because I want to, not because I need to. And that is how I would roll with this endeavor. I’ve seen myself getting exhausted of the rigid per year thing (and I’ve seen other blogs struggle with that as well), and I’d just want to do something that I would like to do.

Props to the wonderful blog Oscargasms who does diligent Oscar coverage, starting from the 1920s as he works his way to the present years. I have come across his blog during my blogging drought and has truly inspired me to write again (I hope).

So I’m hoping to revive this blog. Yikes, I wouldn’t even be able to regularly post here (I’ve tried to do that several times since this blog went dormant).

And just to quote the legendary film critic Roger Ebert, another inspiring figure of film criticism:

I’ll see you at the movies.

.


Juan Carlos Ojano

The Final Oscar

Coming soon on The Final Oscar…

Hello! Are you still there?

I am.

Aside from a few posts about the first Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino and some film reviews, I haven’t been able to post anything post-6th TFO Awards.

In the film world, the awards season for #Oscars2018 is fast approaching. This is one of the most exciting Best Picture, and especially, Best Actress races ever, loaded with a large amount of solid contenders. The 90th Academy Awards will take place on March 4, 2018.

Meanwhile, something’s happening at this blog come March-April next year. I want to keep it a surprise until then.

For now, let’s get back to watching more films (and TV series, if you please).

How about you? How are you?

.

Juan Carlos Ojano
Writer, The Final Oscar

Meryl @ 68 – Happy Birthday, My Love

meryl.jpgPhoto from Variety.

I started becoming so passionate about film around 2008. I was thirteen years old.

I watched all the Best Picture nominees at the Oscars. I tried to watch as many Oscar nominees as possible.

That year, one film really stuck with me like no other, and I think it’s still my most watched film from that year. It was Doubt.

The entire cast was excellent – from Amy Adams’ delicately balancing nun, to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s emotionally charged priest, to Viola Davis’ rapturous one-scene wonder.

But of course, my eyes were on that nun, Sister Aloysius Beauvier.

Meryl Streep played her. Or to say it better, Meryl was Sister Aloysius.

I was just so attached on her quiet ferocity, that determination that simmers as she fights for what she believes is the right thing to do. And on repeated viewings, Meryl just stuck with me as, for lack of the better word, the definition of ‘great’.

When I say a performance is ‘great’, I always go back to Meryl and see if “has this person met her standards?”.

I know it’s not fair to do that to other actors, but that’s how she struck me. And then 2009 came – Julie and Julia and It’s Complicated. I loved her in both.

By that time, I was just fascinated by how she always does her best in acting but not seeming as if she was trying to hard.

She came at a crucial moment in my life – as my love for film was about to become serious (which eventually led me to taking Bachelor of Arts in Film as my course), she was there, reminding me of what excellence is and how a person can convey so much, can portray life within the limited time of a film.

Meryl Streep, in other words, was a godsend for me.

And I couldn’t be more thankful for her existence.

She’s a trailblazer – she showed through her work how her willingness to bare herself in camera can help us understand more about other people.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this. Meryl has influenced generations of actors, filmmakers, and artists not just in acting and in film, but also in life.

I haven’t met her yet. I don’t know if I ever will.

I really wish I could meet her one day and give her a big hug for everything she has done.

I know she’s just trying to do her best in her craft, but in doing so, she has touched so many lives.

And I’m no exception.

To (probably) my first true love in film.

I love you, Meryl.

And I thank you for what you have done to us.

Here’s looking forward to your future work (and Oscar nominations) while I also go back to your earlier works.

Here’s an altar of her twenty Oscar nominated roles, an all-time record (and I seriously doubt someone will break that anytime soon).

meryl @ 20.png

Just for the fun of ranking stuff, here’s how I’d rank her Oscar-nominated works (performances, not the films; all good-to-all-time-great; purely subjective):

  1. Sophie’s Choice (1982) as Sophie Zawistowski
  2. The Iron Lady (2011) as Margaret Thatcher
  3. Doubt (2008) as Sister Aloysius Beauvier
  4. Ironweed (1987) as Helen Archer
  5. A Cry in the Dark (1988) as Lindy Chamberlain
  6. Silkwood (1983) as Karen Silkwood
  7. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) as Joanna Kramer
  8. The Devil Wears Prada (2006) as Miranda Priestly
  9. Postcards from the Edge (1990) as Suzanne Vale
  10. August: Osage County (2013) as Violet Weston
  11. Julie and Julia (2009) as Julia Child
  12. Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) as Florence Foster Jenkins
  13. One True Thing (1998) as Kate Gulden
  14. Adaptation. (2002) as Susan Orlean
  15. Music of the Heart (1999) as Roberta Guaspari
  16. The Deer Hunter (1978) as Linda
  17. Out of Africa (1985) as Karen Blixen
  18. The Bridges of Madison County (1995) as Francesca Johnson
  19. The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981) as Sarah/Anna
  20. Into the Woods (2014) as The Witch

Plus, her non-Oscar nominated performances:

  1. The Hours (2002) as Clarissa Vaughan
  2. Ricki and the Flash (2015) as Linda Brummel/Ricki Rendazzo
  3. Hope Springs (2012) as Kay Soames
  4. The River Wild (1994) as Gail Hartman
  5. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) as Mrs. Fox
  6. It’s Complicated (2009) as Jane Adler
  7. Suffragette (2015) as Emmeline Pankhurst
  8. The Homesman (2014) as Altha Carter
  9. Mamma Mia! (2008) as Donna Sheridan

There you go. Looking forward to more years to come for you.

Always wishing you the success you deserve and the health that you need to do great work, on and off-screen.

Happy birthday, My Love.

Love you, Meryl.

Best Picture Nominees (2009-2016), RANKED

Since the Academy Awards reinstated the expanded Best Picture field in the 82nd Academy Awards (2009 in film), a system implemented during from 1930s to mid-1940s, the Academy has nominated 72 films for the awards’ highest honor.

Now in its eighth year, this new system has produced some of the most out-there choices, films that would not have gone anywhere near the Best Picture race had it stayed the traditional five nominees, as well as some stinkers that benefitted from the increased number of slots in the category.

Here is my ranking of the 72 Best Picture nominees from 2009 to 2016:

Gravity (2013) and Spotlight (2015) – the best nominee and the best winner of this category since the expanded category began in 2009.

BEST OF THE BEST
1. Gravity (2013)
2. Spotlight (2015) – WINNER
3. La La Land (2016)
4. Arrival (2016)
5. Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) – WINNER
6. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
7. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)
8. Amour (2012)
9. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
10. The Tree of Life (2011)
11. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
12. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
13. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
14. Inception (2010)
15. Black Swan (2010)
16. Whiplash (2014)
17. The Artist (2011) – WINNER
18. The Hurt Locker (2009) – WINNER
19. Up (2009)
20. Hell or High Water (2016)
21. 12 Years a Slave (2013) – WINNER
22. Les Miserables (2012)
23. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
24. The Revenant (2015)
25. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
26. Selma (2014)
27. Up in the Air (2009)

Relatively young production/distribution company A24 scored back-to-back nominations with Room (2015) and Moonlight (2016), with the latter becoming a landmark Best Picture winner.

GREAT CHOICES
28. The King’s Speech (2010) – WINNER
29. Room (2015)
30. Moonlight (2016) – WINNER
31. The Martian (2015)
32. The Fighter (2010)
33. Her (2013)
34. The Social Network (2010)
35. Toy Story 3 (2010)
36. Brooklyn (2015)
37. Hugo (2011)
38. Midnight in Paris (2011)
39. Nebraska (2013)
40. District 9 (2009)
41. Captain Phillips (2013)
42. Lincoln (2012)
43. Lion (2015)
44. An Education (2009)
45. True Grit (2010)

EARNED THOSE BEST PICTURE NOMINATIONS
46. Life of Pi (2012)
47. Boyhood (2014)
48. Hidden Figures (2016)
49. Manchester by the Sea (2016)
50. A Serious Man (2009)
51. Winter’s Bone (2010)
52. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
53. Fences (2016)
54. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
55. Philomena (2013)
56. The Imitation Game (2014)
57. Moneyball (2011)
58. The Kids are All Right (2010)
59. The Help (2011)
60. 127 Hours (2010)
61. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
62. American Hustle (2013)

STRIKING MERITS DESPITE MY INDIFFERENCE (ON VARYING LEVELS)
63. Argo (2012) – WINNER
64. The Big Short (2015)
65. American Sniper (2014)
66. Django Unchained (2012)
67. Avatar (2009)
68. War Horse (2011)

I WON’T CHOOSE THEM, BUT I UNDERSTAND THE MENTION
69. The Theory of Everything (2014)
70. The Descendants (2011)

THOSE BAD APPLES FROM THE BUNCH – WHY?
71. Bridge of Spies (2015)
72. The Blind Side (2009)