Who Couldn’t Be Romantic About Baseball…And That New Woody Allen Movie?

(source: google images)

Most of you know that I’m OBSESSED with the Academy Awards.  If you didn’t, I’m OBSESSED with the Academy Awards.  There, now you know.  For the past 5 years I’ve hosted elaborate parties (except for that one year where an epic snowstorm ruined my life by barricading all guests from leaving their homes and I was left with an entire bowl of red pepper parmesan dip to eat by myself). 

Where was I?  Oh yes, the parties!  I host one fine swanky soiree!  The food is always gourmet appetizers and deserts with lots and lots of wine.  I’ve made platters of antipasto, bacon wrapped apricots with a honey barbecue sauce, cranberry salsa with green chilies, sundried tomato and pesto hors d’oeuvres, and many more delectable goodies.  And all my guests share one appetizer or dessert as well, so we have a full spread!  Some years we’ve also dressed up in our finest formals, walked a real red carpet to classical music and interviewed guests about “who they’re wearing” tonight!

In fact, the theme for this year’s party hasn’t been totally set.  I’m welcome to ideas!  What would you want to do or see?  We’ve suggested coming dressed for the Oscars as a member of the opposite sex, coming dressed as your favorite Oscar winning actor/actress or character, or dressing like the “Worst Dressed” Oscar attendee.  I’m completely open to more ideas, so do share! 

As the award ceremony draws near, I’m hoping to enlighten you all on what I think of the nominees.  I hope you’ll share with me too!  We’ll start with some of the Best Picture nominees, of which there are nine this year.

Best Picture Nominees for 2012:

  • The Artist
  • The Descendants
  • Hugo
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • The Help
  • Moneyball
  • Midnight in Paris
  • The Tree of Life
  • War Horse

Today I’ll feature Moneyball and Midnight in Paris.  I previously reviewed Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and you can check that post out here.


(source: google images)

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up a copy of Moneyball from the video store.  I don’t think I expected this film to be as fascinating and the story so gripping as it was.  Without seeing the movie, I would’ve told you all convincingly that Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill didn’t stand a chance at the Oscars.  I would’ve been badly mistaken.

Moneyball stars Best Actor Nominee, Brad Pitt, as Billy Beane, the General Manager for the Oakland Athletics baseball team.  The story, however, is more than just a tale of home runs and who beat who.  What Moneyball portrays is the politics and science behind the game.  It is a biography of the unconventional tactics used to change the game of ball forever and what role money plays in this sport.

The Oakland Athletics were one of the worst paid baseball teams, and most likely still are.  After a poor playing season, Beane loses his three best players to trade ups that all provided more money to the player.  Left in a position of zero dollar increase, Beane had to find a solution that would make a whole new team of players, winning players.

A chance partnership with Yale graduate, Peter Brand, played by Supporting Actor Nominee, Jonah Hill, creates a unique approach to drafting players based on statistical data of their playing.  Suddenly, Beane is selecting the players that everyone else in baseball neglects and has written off.  What Billy Beane does in this movie, with great talent from Pitt, is change the way baseball is run.  He did what was right for the team and showed the million dollar moguls of the game that money isn’t everything.

I rate this one a surprise contender because while I LOVED this movie and both actor’s performances, I do think they are up against some “heavy hitters” of their own.  I would be thrilled if any of them did win.  Most of all, Brad Pitt, I think this was a smart role for him and could do what The Blind Side did for Sandra Bullock.  Kudos to this film!

Midnight in Paris

(source: google images)

I never noticed the similarities between Owen Wilson and Woody Allen were so striking until this film.  It’s like Woody attached strings to Owen and danced him around the film like a babbling marionette puppet.  It’s uncanny!

Per usual Woody Allen, this film stars a man who wants greater things in life, is intimidated by others around him, but is really a creative genius.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore a good Allen film.  I’m a big fan of Small Time Crooks, Mighty Aphrodite, and of his book Without Feathers.  I recommend this flick for fans, people in the mood for nostalgia, and anyone who likes a little light-hearted magic.

Owen Wilson plays Gil; he’s engaged to Inez played by Rachel McAdams (the couple’s second film together following Wedding Crashers).  Gil is already a Hollywood writer, but he can’t find his groove when it comes to his novel.  While traveling with Inez’s parents in France, Gil daydreams of a golden age:  Paris in the 20’s, raining.  *swoon*

One night, Inez goes dancing with friends, and Gil decides to take a walk.  Where he’ll find himself is a parallel world of Paris in the 20’s and soon this couple will have to face whether the illusion around them is better than their actual relationship or not.

I already gave kudos to Wilson’s character being a new generation’s introduction to Woody Allen humor.  He really captures an idealist’s heart that we all can understand.  The supporting cast of his Parisian fantasy includes such names as Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and Kathy Bates as well as the First Lady of France herself, Carla Bruni.

While I liked this film, I don’t think it’s a contender for Best Picture.  Allen may be the underdog win for Best Director, but he’s also facing top nominee Martin Scorsese for Hugo.  I can’t help but wonder if this is another case of a nomination come too late.  Should Allen have won last year for his more poignant and stellar casting film, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger*shrug*  Time will tell.  February 26th to be exact.

What say you fellow movie watchers?  Have you seen either of these nominees?  What do you think their chances are?  Who are you rooting for?  And don’t forget to weigh in on the costumes of the evening! 

22 responses

  1. Valerie Biel Johnson | Reply

    I have to admit I haven’t seen all of the movies nominated, but referring back to your earlier post on Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, I was finally brave enough to go to it. All I can say is WOW! So glad I went. This was the young actor’s first role with the exception of a middle school play. Really unbelievable. I loved it and would love for it to receive the award, but maybe one of these other movies IS more deserving. Time to head back to the theatre.

    1. Ooh I’m glad you shared your thoughts on EL & IC! It was awesome. I’m kind of rooting for that one too so far. But like I said, Moneyball blew me away; I wasn’t expecting such thought provoking to come from that one. And Pitt did an awesome job.

  2. Hey Jess! Unfortunately I haven’t seen any of them but the one with George Clooney, The Descendants, looks truly fine. I’m hoping to see it soon. I, too, am an Academy Award maniac. On that night, everyone knows mom does nothing but watch them and don’t anybody bug me! But, then again, everyone else watches also and enjoys it, especially now that they’ve made them less than 4 hours long. Remember that? They used to be obnoxiously long.

    1. Oh I didn’t care! I watched them all! My roommates would all be sleeping on the couches and I’d still be on edge with my ballot in hand. LOL

  3. I’ve seen both movies and enjoyed them equally, though in different ways. Midnight In Paris appealed to the writer, the romantic, the adventurer in me; while Moneyball was just straight-up entertaining and brought back memories of attending A’s games in the 80s and 90s while living in the Bay Area. They were my team back then!

    And…bacon wrapped apricots with honey barbecue sauce?! Be still my heart!

    1. LOL. Ok, I had to take that last line in a little. Those were yummy!

      And I completely agree with your film assessment. The writer in me identified with the idealist of Gil. And Moneyball was straight up awesome.

  4. Very nice post. Saw both films. Really liked them both. Midnight in Paris is great for the romanticist in me. Moneyball appealed to the sports/business/inspirational side. MIP was better overall for me.

    That all said, the best film really is The Artist. So visually interesting with great performances all around. It should win the Oscar.

    Good luck with the party! Always include BACON!!

    1. OOOooh jealous! I want to see The Artist so bad and I don’t know if my town is going to get it. Previews look amazing and I love black and white movies so I’m biased toward it, plus it showcases some newer faces. It is a leading contender of nominations so cross your fingers.

  5. I haven’t seen any of the movies nominated, but if I lived close to you I would dress up to crash your party and get me some of that red pepper dip! 🙂
    I did print out my “who is going to win” list and I will check off who I think will be selected as I watch.

    Fun post!

    1. Darlene!!! I think you’ve given me an idea. What say you all to a blog contest of most wins on the major 6?! I think I may need to do that!

      I could try to mail you some dip…

  6. You must know something I don’t know, Jess. I can’t find any reason to care enough about todays actors and/or movies to watch them or their award programs. I’ll stay home and watch my old John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart movies.

    1. If you’re watching Hatari! I’ll watch it with you anytime. And as for Jimmy Stewart, I’m partial to the Hitchcock films like Rear Window and Vertigo. I’m sensing a movie marathon, David!!! There’s no escaping it!

  7. I haven’t seen any of these movies, I’m ashamed to say. I use to be a once a week movie-goer, but not in the last 4 years. I love Owen Wilson, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, so I’ll have to take my butt over to the theater and see if I can catch one or two.

    I would love to live in your neighborhood this month. I’d be helping you plan this bash! I think you all should dress like the worst dressed list, even the guys. I can see some Lady Gaga or Madonna-type costumes coming through your door.

    By the way, you are really excellent at reviews!

    1. There are indeed some hearthrobs in the nomination pool this year. And I’d love it if you lived here. I’d put you on desert duty cause ya’ll know I feel about baking. 😛

      Thank you for the sweet comment. I love doing them!

  8. Your party sounds like the best! My grandmother, a cousin and I were the only ones in our family who ever really were all that interested in the award shows. It was so exciting to see all the people dressed to the nines, all beautiful and glamorous! Have a wonderful night, when that time comes!

    1. Thanks Lara! The girls at the party do that. We watch some of the pre-show to critique the dresses of the evening. Hope you watch this year; then we can ooh and aah together!

  9. Ashamed to say, I have not seen a single one of these films.

    Don’t hate me.

    I always fall asleep at the movies.

    But I can rock a party. 😉 Seriously.


    1. It’s ok, really, I do that too. But something about the Oscars always makes me excited. I think it’s all the glamour and ceremony. Do you think you and I could jobs as the trophy carriers/escorts? I could wear my Lawrence Welk dress…

  10. I haven’t seen either of these movies, although I will probably eventually see both. I’ve been delaying Money Ball because I can only assume it will make me cry. True stories usually do, and I hate to cry. I will probably have to wait to see the Woody Allen movie until I have a night to myself – it’s not my guy’s cup of tea. But because I haven’t see either, THANK YOU for the break down, Jess! 🙂

    1. Moneyball didn’t make me cry, The Help did. You’ll see that review next week. But Moneyball was an awesome and inspiring story. It’s a true story that makes you think.

  11. I loved Midnight in Paris, too, Jess! It convinced me, too, that Owen Wilson really is the Woody Allen of today. 🙂 Now I know where to go for the best Oscar buzz. Glad we have a resident expert!

    1. LOL. I don’t know about that. But I’ll keep ya posted!

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