erik lundegaard

Saturday January 25, 2020

Twins Hall of Fame: Where's Cesar Tovar?

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported yesterday that former AL MVP Justin Morneau had been elected to the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. Good for him.

Afterwards, I went to the Twins site and checked out their other Hall of Famers. Apparently they began the Hall in 2000 and this was their inaugural class:

  • Harmon Killebrew
  • Rod Carew
  • Tony Oliva
  • Kent Hrbek
  • Kirby Puckett
  • Calvin Griffith

It's basically who you'd expect, give or take a Calvin.

Who votes for the Twins Hall? The Strib article doesn't say but Betsy Helfand over at the St. Paul Pioneer Press does. Quoting Twins president Dave St. Peter, she writes that Morneau was elected “by a 71-member voting committee which consisted of Upper Midwest media, living Twins hall of famers, team historians and members of the organization.”

They‘ve added to the Hall just about every year, but no more than two a year, although they seemed to have taken a break this decade. Just four guys after 2014? No. They’d just taken a break from updating their Hall of Fame page. Johan Santana was actually added in 2018, and Joe Nathan and former Twins president Jerry Bell (1987-2002) joined in 2019. Morneau is the Hall's 34th member and 23rd player.

All well and good. Except for this: Where's Cesar Tovar? 

Plenty of his teammates are in. Not just Killebrew and Oliva but Earl Battey, Jim Perry, Zoilo Versalles and Camilo Pascual.

Plenty of non-players made it. Some are no-brainers like longtime broadcaster Herb Carneal (2001), manager Tom Kelly (2002) and longtime PA announcer Bob Casey (2003). There's also two farm-system directors (George Brophy, Jim Rantz), a media relations director (Tom Mee), a general manager (Andy MacPhail). 

But no Cesar Tovar.

Turns out I was late to this fight. Fans were making the case years ago. Longtime local sports scribe Patrick Reusse has been making it even longer. 

Should he go in? This is what Mr. Twin himself, Harmon Killebrew, once said of Tovar: “The man was a dream to hit behind. A truly great leadoff man who always seemed to be on base and who distracted the pitcher enough to benefit everyone who batted behind him.” He added that Tovar was the teammate who never got enough credit. Plus ca change

He got credit from former Twins manager Billy Martin. ”Tovar was my little leader,“ Martin wrote in his 1981 autobiography. ”He was the guy who got everyone going. When I wanted him to push Leo [Cárdenas] a little bit or if Rod [Carew] was getting down and I needed someone to give him a boost, I'd get César to do it.“ Martin kept trading for him. When he became manager of the Rangers, he told ownership, ”Get me César Tovar. The little guy can beat you so many ways—his bat, his feet, his brains, his hustle.“

As a Twin, over seven full seasons (1966-72), Tovar hit .281 with a .337 OBP. He got MVP votes five of those seasons. He led the league in hits in 1971, and in doubles and triples in 1970. He's the last Major League player to lead the league in doubles and triples in the same season. In 1969, he broke up two no-hitters against the Orioles in the 9th inning. In 1968, he played all nine positions in a single game. Bert Campaneris had done it a few years earlier for the A's and was rewarded with a car. Calvin gave Tovar a TV set. 

What about advanced stats? How does he do there? Not poorly, it turns out. Here's the list of players who made the Twins Hall, ranked by the bWAR they earned while they played for Minnesota, and where Tovar would place on that list:

Player Year  bWAR
Rod Carew 2000 63.8
Harmon Killebrew 2000 60.5
Kirby Puckett 2000 51.1
Bert Blyleven 2002 48.9
Brad Radke 2009 45.4
Tony Oliva 2000 43.1
Kent Hrbek 2000 38.6
Camilo Pascual 2012 36.0
Johan Santana 2018 36.0
Jim Kaat 2001 35.6
Bob Allison 2003 34.0
Jim Perry 2011 28.8
Gary Gaetti 2007 27.2
Frank Viola 2005 27.0
Torii Hunter 2016 26.4
Cesar Tovar ?? 25.9
Justin Morneau 2020 23.3
Joe Nathan  2019 18.4
Greg Gagne 2010 17.9
Earl Battey 2004 17.5
Rick Aguilera 2008 15.5
Zoilo Versalles 2006 14.7
Michael Cuddyer 2017 12.8
Eddie Guadardo 2013 9.5

Tovar is already in the Venezuelan Hall of Fame (ind. 2003) and the Latino Hall of Fame (ind. 2014). Twins Hall-of-Fame voters should consider making it a trifecta.

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Posted at 08:55 AM on Jan 25, 2020 in category Baseball   |   Permalink  
Thursday January 23, 2020

Terry Jones (1942-2020)

Mr. Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson (left)

He was the member of “Monty Python's Flying Circus” that was most often overlooked. Maybe that's why I liked him. Cleese was loud, Idle cute, Palin happily nonsensical. Cleese and Palin often teamed up on the show's most famous sketches: “Dead Parrot” and “Cheese,” for example. Cleese did his silly walks and cutting voice, Palin did the “lumberjack song.” Jones? I think he did drag better than any of them. I still remember his dowdy housewife coquetteishly picking the next sketch: “Ooh, a Scotsman on a horse.” I think he was the lead granny from the granny gangs that imperiled the town.

He was often the victim—and often to Eric Idle. He was the poor man getting nudge-nudged, for example. One of my favorite sketches was Idle interviewing Jones' Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson, a composer who only wanted to talk about his music but was forever doomed to be asked about his nickname. “Then you'd be Arthur ‘No Sheds’ Jackson” is one of the funniest lines I‘ve ever heard. 

“Python” was on the air in Britain from 1969 to 1974 but didn’t wind up in the states until the mid-1970s. It was PBS. Was it a Sunday night ritual Chris, Dad and me? It was definitely a ritual. We seemed to agree on nothing, emotionally, but we agreed on what was funny. We knew what was funny: Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, SCTV, Reginald Perrin, and Monty Python.

The Times has a nice write-up. Jones was a Chaucer scholar. He co-directed “Holy Grail” and “Meaning of Life, and directed ”Life of Brian,“ their most controversial. His most famous character is probably Mr. Creosote, the disgustingly fat man who explodes after a ”waffer-thin“ mint in ”Meaning of Life.“ Sure. But he'll always be ”Two Sheds" to me.

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Posted at 12:57 PM on Jan 23, 2020 in category TV   |   Permalink  
Tuesday January 21, 2020

Larry Walker Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame!

Oh right. Also Derek Somethingorother.

It figures the day after my birthday, Jeter would be elected to the Hall of Fame. The only present I got from the Baseball Writers Association of America is that unlike teammate Mariano Rivera last year he didn't go in unanimously. He came one vote shy. Bravo, one member of the BBWAA. He still goes in with the second-most votes ever. His 99.7% is a tidge better than Ken Griffey Jr.'s 99.32%. Because Yankees. Suck. 

Meanwhile, Larry Walker, in his 10th and final year on the ballot, pulled an Edgar: he eked in with 76.6%. Good for him. I believe he's the first guy to go in wearing a Colorado Rockies uni.

Overall, 32 guys were on the ballot and half of those didn't get the 5% necessary to stay on next year. And of those, four were ex-Mariners: Cliff Lee (half a season with the Ms); Raul Ibanez (three stints, about seven full seasons); J.J. Putz (five seasons) and Chone Figgins (three disastrous seasons). I'm surprised Lee didn't last longer, to be hoenst; he was a helluva pitcher. The only ex-Mariner to remain on the ballot is Omar Vizquel, who, in his third year, nudged over 50% of the vote for the first time. Advanced stats guys are probably howling in protest but I‘ve got a fondness: He’s still the most beautiful-fielding shortstop I‘ve ever seen. Plus this

Here’s the totals, along with career WAR numbers:

PLAYER VOTES YRS bWAR
Derek Jeter 396 (99.7) 1 72.4
Larry Walker 304 (76.6) 10 72.7
Curt Schilling 278 (70.0) 8 79.5
Roger Clemens 242 (61.0) 8 139.2
Barry Bonds 241 (60.7) 8 162.8
Omar Vizquel* 209 (52.6) 3 45.6
Scott Rolen 140 (35.3) 3 70.2
Billy Wagner 126 (31.7) 5 27.7
Gary Sheffield 121 (30.5) 6 60.5
Todd Helton 116 (29.2) 2 61.2
Manny Ramírez 112 (28.2) 4 69.4
Jeff Kent 109 (27.5) 7 55.4
Andruw Jones 77 (19.4) 3 62.8
Sammy Sosa 55 (13.9) 8 58.6
Andy Pettitte 45 (11.3) 2 60.2
Bobby Abreu 22 (5.5) 1 60.0
PLAYER VOTES YRS bWAR
Paul Konerko 10 (2.5) 1 27.7
Jason Giambi 6 (1.5) 1 50.5
Alfonso Soriano 6 (1.5) 1 28.2
Eric Chávez 2 (0.5) 1 37.5
Cliff Lee* 2 (0.5) 1 43.5
Adam Dunn 1 (0.3) 1 17.4
Brad Penny 1 (0.3) 1 18.8
Raúl Ibañez* 1 (0.3) 1 20.4
J.J. Putz* 1 (0.3) 1 13.1
Josh Beckett 0 1 35.6
Heath Bell 0 1 7.2
Chone Figgins* 0 1 22.2
Rafael Furcal 0 1 39.4
Carlos Peña 0 1 25.1
Brian Roberts 0 1 30.4
José Valverde 0 1 11.4

* Ex-Mariners

I assume Schilling gets in next year, when the newbie candidates aren't first-ballot guys: Tim Hudson, Torii Hunter, Mark Buehrle. Do Clemens and Bonds finally get in as well, despite everything? A year later, in 2022, A-Rod becomes eligible. Interesting times.

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Posted at 06:26 PM on Jan 21, 2020 in category Baseball   |   Permalink  
Sunday January 19, 2020

‘1917’ Wins PGA, ‘Parasite’ Gets SAG

Last night the Producers Guild of America chose its best for 2019, and for feature film they went Sam Mendes' WWI drama “1917.” Mark Harris tweeted this morning that “1917” must have a real chance at Oscar now, considering how much it's being attacked. Truer words.

But how much of a harbinger is it? Well, since the Academy went to the preferential ballot in 2009, this has been the PGA's track record:

Year PGA Oscar
2019 1917 ??
2018 Green Book Green Book
2017 The Shape of Water The Shape of Water
2016 La La Land Moonlight
2015 The Big Short Spotlight
2014 Birdman Birdman
2013 Gravity/12 Years a Slave 12 Years a Slave
2012 Argo Argo
2011 The Artist The Artist
2010 The King's Speech The King's Speech
2009 The Hurt Locker The Hurt Locker

For the first few years of this, there was a lockstep between PGA, DGA and Oscar. They all chose the same. Since 2013, divergence. In that divergence, though, PGA has been the more accurate indicator of best picture than DGA, SAG-cast, or even the Golden Globes, which, with both drama and comedy/musical, has two chances to get it right.  

Overall, in the 10 years since preferential ballots began, the harbinger count favors PGA: 

  • PGA: 7.5
  • DGA: 6
  • GGs: 6
  • SAG-Cast: 4

I still say it's down to three movies: “1917,” “Once Upon a Time...” and “Irishman.” Wouldn't be surprised if we got another split: Tarantino for director, “1917” for picture.

UPDATE: Tonight, the Screen Actors Guild gave its cast award to “Parasite.” I think it's the first time a guild award has gone to a foreign film. Congrats all around. That said, as per above, it doesn't mean much for the best picture Oscar race. Last year, SAG cast went to “Black Panther.” The year before, it was “Three Billobards,” and the year before that, “Hidden Figures.” None came close to best picture. 

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Posted at 04:36 PM on Jan 19, 2020 in category Movies - Awards   |   Permalink  

Joe's Top 100: 71-80

After the first 30, Poz has 11 new players that weren't on his early 2010s list. Interesting note? With the exception of Carlos Beltran (No. 98) and Larry Walker (No. 96), they‘re all pitchers and catchers. 

Maybe someone pointed out his first list was short on backstops? From 100 to 32, where he stopped, he’d only picked two (Roy Campanella and Yogi Berra), and there were probably only two more in his top 31 (Johnny Bench and Josh Gibson). On this list, he's added three: Piazza, Gary Carter, and Carlton Fisk. They probably should‘ve been on his first list. Anyway, that evens it out a bit. 

Here’s #s 71-80:

No.  PLAYER CHANGE bWAR ALL-TIME
80 Carlton Fisk NEW 68.5 115
79 Derek Jeter -22 72.4 88
78 Clayton Kershaw NEW 68 120
77 Miguel Cabrera 9 69.6 103
76 Willie McCovey -2 64.5 144
75 Justin Verlander NEW 70.9 93
74 Frank Thomas -13 73.9 81
73 Brooks Robinson -13 78.4 67
72 Robin Roberts 19 85.9 50
71 Bert Blyleven -3 94.4 40

I should take pride, as a Twins fan, that Blyleven is so high up. But if you'd asked 10-year-old me whether you'd want the likes of Willie McCovey/Brooks Robinson or Bert Blyleven on your team, it wouldn't have been a question. But Bert's got the gaudy advanced SABR numbers. He pitched well forever and that matters in WAR. WAR has him the 12th-best pitcher in baseball history. 

Joe's #79 was a bit of a controversy. Most thought he should be higher. Me, I keep wondering which 11 players from his previous list won't make the cut of this one. Six guys who ranked in the 90s on that list haven't been mentioned yet and I assume they‘re gone: Ron Santo, Lou Whitaker, Paul Waner, Craig Biggio, Old Hoss Rabourn and Mark McGwire. Is Tim Raines gone? I can’t believe he'd cut Nolan Ryan, who was 87 previously. My great fear is he‘ll cut Harmon Killebrew, who was 67th on the previous list but who doesn’t have gaudy advanced numbers (WAR: 60.4). It‘ll break my heart. 

I do think the guys he’s ranked in the 80s are better than the guys in the 90s, while the guys ranked in the 70s are better than the 80s. So he seems to be doing something right.  

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Posted at 04:11 PM on Jan 19, 2020 in category Baseball   |   Permalink  
Saturday January 18, 2020

‘Or Something’

“Sure, that might lead to a dystopian future or something, but...”

— David Scalzo, an early investor in Clearview, which has created a facial-recognition app that it's shared with more than 600 law-enforcement agencies, according to Kashmir Hill's article, “The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It,” in The New York Times. 

According to Hill, “The tool could identify activists at a protest or an attractive stranger on the subway, revealing not just their names but where they lived, what they did and whom they knew.” According to Hill, too, Clearview monitored her as she did research for the article. “At my request,” she writes, “a number of police officers had run my photo through the Clearview app. They soon received phone calls from company representatives asking if they were talking to the media — a sign that Clearview has the ability and, in this case, the appetite to monitor whom law enforcement is searching for.”

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Posted at 10:09 AM on Jan 18, 2020 in category Technology   |   Permalink  
Friday January 17, 2020

Movie Review: Ip Man 4 (2019)

WARNING: SPOILERS

Bummer. I was psyched for this. I mean, Ip Man in America. 

And yes, in my head, I was thinking “Kung Fu,” the TV series about the Shaolin priest wandering the American West in the 19th century kicking racist ass, before I realized, wait, it’s gotta be, what, the 1960s at this point? Exactly. 1964 to be precise. But I was still psyched.

And there would be more of Chan Kwok-Kwan’s perfect Bruce Lee in it? Yes! And he actually gets into an alleyway fight with a superbeefy, chest-thumping karate champion (Mark Strange) and says a variation of the “Boards don’t hit back—but I do” line from “Enter the Dragon”? Yes again! A good antidote to the lame Bruce Lee portrayed in Quentin Tarantino’s otherwise stellar “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.”

But overall “Ip Man 4” is too similar to, and not as good as, the other three. The most interesting aspect—to me—is how much of today’s xenophobic politics infuse the story. Even the lesson is one aimed at today’s more affluent, educated Chinese: Sometimes, the happiness you’re seeking can be found in your own backyard.

不乖孩子
As we open in Hong Kong, Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is dealing with a son who’s ignoring his studies, getting into fights, and not listening to his father. Ah, but the doctor treating his son’s injuries recently returned from getting his degree in the U.S.; and while before he’d been a bit of a rebel, now he’s polite, handsome and successful. Ip Man sees the answer.

(Of course, at that time, in the country now making the movie, such a move would‘ve gotten you reeducated or worse. But onward.)

All of this dovetails with an invitation from Bruce Lee to attend Lee’s famous appearance at the 1964 International Karate Championships; Lee even buys Ip Man a planet ticket. So he goes, less to see Lee than to search for a school for his son.

Most “Ip Man” movies are basically this: For the first half, fight local Chinese (who disparage wushu); for the second half, take on racist foreigners (who disparage kung fu/Chinese generally). Here, it’s once more with feeling.

The Chinese Benevolent Society of Sacramento is supposed to help Ip Man, but, led by president Wong Zong Hua (Wu Yue), they offer a cold, decidedly un-Confucian greeting to the grandmaster. They don’t like that Ip’s student, Bruce Lee, is teaching foreigners Chinese kung fu. Chinese kung fu is for Chinese, they say.

Sans the necessary introduction, Ip Man makes little headway trying to get his son into a prestigious school. (The idea of attending a public school, for free, doesn’t seem to enter into it.) Meanwhile, I was wondering who Ip Man would fight for and protect here; Bruce Lee seemed covered. Ah, but at one school, Ip runs into Wong’s daughter, Yonah (Vanda Margraf), who, in becoming a cheerleader, makes an enemy of Becky (Grace Englert), your typical mean girl with racist overtones. Becky terrorizes Yonah with like 6-8 jocks, so it’s Ip to the rescue. A not-bad scene.

Ip next fights Wang, who thinks Ip helped Becky only to get that letter, and they go toe-to-toe before an earthquake strikes and they have to help the residents of Chinatown. Then ... ? Oh right. A subplot—which really turns out to be the plot—involving a student of Lee’s, a Chinese-American staff sergeant in the Marines, Hartman Wu (Vanness Wu of the Taiwanese boyband F4), who is trying to get his outfit to take kung fu seriously. Problem? Gunnery Sergeant Barton Geddes (Scott Adkins), a pumped-up, roid-rage machine, thinks Chinese kung fu is weak, hates foreigners generally, but also, oddly, prefers Japanese karate. We see his favorite toady, Colin Frater (former U.S. Marine and martial artist Chris Collins), bullying people in the ring and breaking arms. Because Hartman Wu has the audacity to bring a Wing Chun dummy into the Marine gym, he has to fight Frater, loses, and while running extra laps sees a smiling Geddes set the Wing Chun dummy aflame. As often happens in the Marines. 

The movie’s view of America—and the Marines in particular—is kind of amusing. That Hartman would bring the wing chun dummy on his own onto base? And then convince a general into considering Chinese martial arts? Going over how many heads? To prevent this, Geddes sends Frater to dispense with the Chinese martial artists at Chinatown’s Mid-Autumn Festival, where Hartman will be filming the demonstration. But Frater goes a brutal step too far and Ip Man steps into the ring. Previously, Hartman had lowered his camera in shame; but once Ip Man takes a pose, he starts filming again. Another good scene. 

There’s a second subplot—ripped straight from the Trumpian headlines—in which Becky’s father turns out to be INS, and he gets revenge by arresting Wang with intent to deport. Then our subplots clang together in an odd way. Sgt. Geddes shows up at the detention facility and demands custody of Wang just so he can fight him. And Becky’s dad says sure. Because that’s how things work in the U.S.

This pretty much sets up our end. Geddes clobbers Wang so it’s up to Ip Man again. Ip Man wins. 

回去中国
The fight scenes are good—choreographed by Yuen Woo Ping—if a bit over the top; but I still love the stillness and balance Donnie Yen brings to every fight. I guess I'm just tired of the roided-out, racist, rage machines: Twister in “2”; Big Daddy in “Wolf Warrior II”; three more here. They’re all the same—without anything close to nuance. All of them disparage Chinese gongfu, too. With reason? Everyone sucks at defending it except for one guy.

I’m curious: Did the success of “Wolf Warrior II” lead to this storyline? Hero travels abroad, takes on the racist Caucasian, preserves Chinese honor. And what’s with the Chinese fixation with the U.S. Marines? Leng Feng keeps talking about them in “Wolf Warrior II" while in Yen’s previous movie, “Big Brother,” he was a former U.S. Marine. Now this. Look at that Chinese poster. Tell me they’re not selling something. (Mouse over for the U.S. version.)

After Ip defeats Sgt. Geddes, Wang finally offers him the letter of recommendation but he decides “the grass isn’t always greener.” (Surely a message from the current Chinese government to educated Chinese living abroad.) Ip returns home, reconciles with his son, teaches him wushu, dies. The end. For this story. But may I suggest—yet again—Donnie Yen as Kwai-chang Caine in “Kung Fu: The Movie”? A joint Chinese-U.S. production? Wandering the American West in the 19th century and kicking racist ass? Seriously, people, how hard is it to make that happen?

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Posted at 08:34 AM on Jan 17, 2020 in category Movie Reviews - 2019   |   Permalink  
Thursday January 16, 2020

The 2019 Oscar Nominations: Thelma and the First-Timers, That '90s Show, and Bringing a Rock to a Bomb Fight

Oh right. The Oscar nominations.

Remember when I used to get up early on those Tuesday mornings—wasn't it always Tuesday mornings?—to be ready when whichever supporting star or stars strode to the podium to announce the year's nominees? Good times. Remember when I used to be outraged by Oscars' choices? Better times. Now I'm just bored with those who are.

The outrage today almost completely revolves around identity politics—#OscarsSoWhite, #OscarsSoMale—but you also got your hipster film fans who trash longtime character actors like Rami Malek because they don't want them to win in a particular year. And sure, Rami probably shouldn't have for “Bohemian Rhapsody”; but don't trash the man. I remember when he sprang off the screen in 2010 in “The Pacific.” His career is more than your petty animosity.  

This year's Rami seems to be Joaquin Phoenix, which is even more insane to me, because he's fucking amazing in “Joker.” Plus he has the longer, more storied career. Still, idiots/trolls keep trashing his performance. Not sure who they‘re pulling for at this point. Antonio maybe? Anyway I’m tired of it all. I'm tired of the Twitter of it all. It feels like Bernie bros all over again. 

Stephen King had the temerity to weigh in the day after. Here's what he said over two tweets: 

As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay. For me, the diversity issue—as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway—did not come up. That said...

...I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.

Of course the knives came out. He was attacked, maligned; his name trended. Two hours later, he tried to clarify:

The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts.

Howls. It was as if he'd killed MLK rather than stated a version of judging people not by the color of their skin but by the conscience of their character.

I suppose it's in the general that this conversation doesn't interest me. In the specific, I'm fine with it. 

Example: Some thought J Lo should‘ve gotten nominated for “Hustlers,” which they think a great movie. I think she was fine in a lousy movie so don’t see it as a big loss. But not nominating Zhao Shuzhen from “The Farewell”? 不好意思!

Some thought Awkwafina was a cinch for lead actress in “The Farewell.” Again, eh. But Lupita Nyong'o in “Us”? C‘mon, Academy. That shit blazed. 

The main thing I was disappointed in was the complete lack of anything for LuLu Wang’s “The Farewell,” which I think one of the best movies of the year. But I didn't even have time to get that complaint out. I picked up my rock only to see everyone around me tossing bombs. Classic Erik: bringing a rock to a bomb fight. 

Here are the nominees. With thoughts/factoids. Some of the latter come from Nathaniel.

BEST PICTURE

  • Ford v Ferrari <— If you'd told me when this opened it would get nominated, I would‘ve shaken my head. Need to see it. Mangold has about as solid a track record as a director can have (“Logan,” “3:10 to Yuma,” “Walk the Line”) without ever blowing me away.
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker <— The most nominations this year, 11, making it the most-nominated film to ever come out of the superhero realm. But of course it’s not really a superhero film. It's “Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy” with clown makeup. “From the director who brought you ‘The Hangover Part III’”
  • Little Women <— Sixth time this has been made into a feature film. Previous: 1918, 1933, 1949, 1994, and last year. Oprah lists all the other versions, too. It's the second time the film has been nominated best picture. The first was the ‘33 with Katherine Hepburn; it lost to “Cavalcade.”
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917
  • Once upon a Time...in Hollywood <— My early pick to win: a Hollywood movie about Hollywood movies. Generally, Hollywood can’t resist. Plus it's the most poignant movie from a long-time celebrated auteur whose films have never won best picture.
  • Parasite <— It's the 10th foreign film to be nominated for best picture, and the first from Korea. The others: Grand Illusion (1938), Z (1969), The Emigrants (1972), Cries and Whispers (1973), Il Postino (1995), Life is Beautiful (1998), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Amour (2012), Roma (2018). None won. Oddly unsatisfying list, isn't it? I mean, considering all the great foreign films that could‘ve been nominated? Nary a Kurosawa, to begin.

DIRECTING <— Though attacked for leaving off Greta Gerwig, the directing award, in terms of winners, has gone from least diverse (always white men) to most (always with the Mexicans). Among the last 10 winners: one woman (American), and then this veritable UN of men: France, Britain, Taiwan, U.S., and three Mexicans sharing five awards. The last American man to win the award was Damien Chazelle for “La La Land.” Before him? The Coen Brothers for “No Country.” 

  • Bong Joon-ho, Parasite <— First Korean ever in this category
  • Sam Mendes, 1917 <— His first nomination since he won for “American Beauty” 20 years ago. That’s right: 20 years ago.
  • Todd Phillips, Joker <— Some are trying to Rami Malek him, but I was impressed.
  • Martin Scorsese, The Irishman <— His 9th directing nomination. What was his first? Nope, not that. It was “Raging Bull.” Interesting what was passed over when he was young.  
  • Quentin Tarantino, Once upon a Time...in Hollywood <— His year? Or do they keep the UN going and choose Bong?

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory < The indie choice; the gay film Twitter choice. His first nom, btw. He's had five Golden Globe noms and six Goyas. Zorro lives. 
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Once upon a Time...in Hollywood <— Not enough people are talking about how good he was in this.
  • Adam Driver, Marriage Story 
  • Joaquin Phoenix, Joker <— His speech will be magnificent.
  • Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes <— His first! And least memorable! Maybe. I still need to see it. Or do I?

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Cynthia Erivo, Harriet <— She goes from never nominated to twice nominated: here, and in original song (“Stand Up” from “Harriet”)
  • Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story <— Her, too! She goes from never nom‘ed to two in one year: here and supporting (“JoJo”). Of course she’s been attacked for taking up all those acting spots. It's like there's shame in it now. 
  • Saoirse Ronan, Little Women <— She's 25 and this is her fourth acting nomination (“Atonement,” “Brooklyn,” “Lady Bird”). Only Jennifer Lawrence got to four faster—also at age 25. Fastest to five is Kate Winslet, who was 31. 
  • Charlize Theron, Bombshell <— I'd have gone Lupita. She should‘ve gotten nom’ed for “Young Adult” seven years ago. 
  • Renée Zellweger, Judy <— Welcome back. Stop messing with your face. Do I have to see this movie? Do I hafta?

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE <— AKA That ‘90s Show

  • Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood <— I still think of him getting nominated every year but this is his first since “Castaway” in 2000. Also his first in a supporting role. Way to go, Kip!
  • Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes <— Another ’90s perennial (“Silence,” “Remains,” “Nixon,” “Amistad”). His first since ‘97.
  • Al Pacino, The Irishman <— His ninth nomination and first since he won for lead in “Scent of a Woman” in ’93. It's ‘90s reunion week. 
  • Joe Pesci, The Irishman <— And again! Third overall, first since he won for “Goodfellas” in ’90.
  • Brad Pitt, Once upon a Time...in Hollywood <— First nominated in ‘95 (“Twelve Monkeys”) and last nominated in acting in 2012 (“Moneyball”), he’s apparently the shoo-in. He's also the youngest of the five: My age, 56. He's about eight months younger than me. 

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell <— Fourth overall, first since “About Schmidt” in 2002. Won't see this unless I need to do a piece on later Eastwood. He's increasingly problematic. 
  • Laura Dern, Marriage Story <— Third nom, no wins. Likely winner here. 
  • Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
  • Florence Pugh, Little Women <— Still need to see “Midsommar.”
  • Margot Robbie, Bombshell <— Her second nom after “I, Tonya.” She‘ll win soon. She’s too good and too hot not to. 

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story <— Second screenplay nom. The other was also about divorce (“Squid”).
  • Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin Won, Parasite
  • Rian Johnson, Knives Out <— QT spoiler? Only nom for a popular film that adults can enjoy. Particulary Trump-hating adults. 
  • Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, 1917
  • Quentin Tarantino, Once upon a Time...in Hollywood <— His fourth screenwriting nom; he's won twice (“Pulp”; “Django”). Didn't win for killing Hitler. 

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Greta Gerwig, Little Women <— Her third nom, second in screenplay
  • Anthony McCarten, The Two Popes <— He's the one I know least about in this category. Turns out he's written some of the flattest British biopics of the last 10 years that keep getting honored: “Theory of Everything,” “Darkest Hour” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And this. 
  • Todd Phillips & Scott Silver, Joker
  • Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit
  • Steven Zaillian, The Irishman <— The Old Hand. Fifth nomination. Won for “Schindler's List.” 

CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Jarin Blaschke, The Lighthouse <— First timer. Did “The Witch” in 2015.
  • Roger Deakins, 1917 <— 15th nom in 25 years! I still think of him as the guy who never wins, but he won last time out, for, of all things, “Blade Runner 2049.” So never with Scorsese (“Kundun”), or the Coens (“Fargo,” “O Brother,” “No Country,” “True Grit”), or stellar work like “The Assassination of Jesse James...” 
  • Rodrigo Prieto, The Irishman <— Storied career, third nom (“Brokeback,” “Silence”).
  • Robert Richardson, Once upon a Time...in Hollywood <— With Deakins, the other Old Hand: 10th nom, 2 wins. Was Oliver Stone's guy (“Platoon,” “JFK”), sometime Scorsese (“Aviator,” “Hugo”), now QT‘s.
  • Lawrence Sher, Joker <— “From the DP of ’The Chumscrubber.'” His first. Other 2019 credit: “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” 

FILM EDITING —> AKA Thelma and the First Timers

  • Tom Eagles, Jojo Rabbit <— His first. He's still editing TV shows in NZ. 
  • Jeff Groth, Joker <— His first.
  • Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland, Ford v Ferrari <— Buckland's first, McCusker's second (“Walk the Line”). Only the second film Buckland has been editor on, after 2016's abyssmal “The Girl on the Train.”
  • Thelma Schoonmaker, The Irishman <— Longtime Scorsese collaborator with her 8th nom. Three wins: “Raging Bull,” “Aviator,” “The Departed.” How her editing of “Goodfellas” lost to the editing in “Dances with Wolves” is a true crime that needs investigating.
  • Yang Jinmo, Parasite <— His first. Only Hollywood credit: “Assistant to Mr. Kim,” the director of the 2013 Schwarzenegger flick “The Last Stand.” 

PRODUCTION DESIGN <— Is there a good doc about production design? Would love to see it.

  • Dennis Gassner and Lee Sandales, 1917
  • Ra Vincent and Nora Sopková, JoJo Rabbit
  • Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
  • Ha-jun Lee and Won-Woo Cho, Parasite
  • Bob Shaw and Regina Graves, The Irishman

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
  • I Lost My Body
  • Klaus
  • Missing Link
  • Toy Story 4 <— Saw  this one

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE <— Saw none of them, but many are now streaming on the usual suspects (Neflix, Hulu). 

  • American Factory
  • The Cave
  • The Edge of Democracy
  • For Sama
  • Honeyland

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

  • Corpus Christi, Poland
  • Honeyland, North Macedonia
  • Les Misérables, France
  • Pain and Glory, Spain
  • Parasite, South Korea <— Saw this one.

The rest of the categories are here. The broadcast is early this year: Sunday, Feb. 9, 5 PM PST. BYOP. Popcorn. Kidding. We pop. But no bombs allowed. 

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Posted at 12:34 PM on Jan 16, 2020 in category Movies - The Oscars   |   Permalink  
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