Welcome to the second edition of Ask The LAMB, the only movie advice column you need!
Today’s Guest Contributor is Never Too Early Movie Predictions!
From Yahoo! User #3:
Why do the crappiest movies always seem to win the Oscars?
Take for instance, movies that wanna make me slit my own throat, like The Reader, Benjammin Button, or that awful movie, The English Patient. What gives? Who decides what movies are nominated or win?
There are two traditional responses to your question. The first response tries to portray Oscar voters as clueless and out of touch with the general public. The second response tries desperately to convince you to enjoy films and genres that you aren’t interested in. Unfortunately, both of these responses misunderstand what the Oscars are really about.
The truth is that sometimes movies win the Oscar because the voters know that people like you think they’re crappy.
Confused? Well, perhaps it would help if I borrowed a concept from another famous media event: The Olympics. While some Olympic sports measure winners by speed, distance or goals, there are several others, such as diving, gymnastics and figure skating, that factor in a concept known as “degree of difficulty.”
The Academy is made up of people who have worked in the film industry, and who have an idea of how difficult it is to get a movie made. You can find a partial, but growing, list of them at The Academy Members Project.
The list includes actors, directors, writers and craftspeople, as well as the folks who greenlight, market and profit from all your favorite blockbusters. They aren’t confused about the public’s tastes. They know very well that the Harry Potter series is more popular than The English Patient, and that The Hangover is going to make more money than The Reader. They also aren’t under any illusion that they are going to change your taste in movie genres, which is why The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, 21 Jump Street and Ted are playing in every megaplex in America, while Beasts Of The Southern Wild and Moonrise Kingdom have received considerably more limited releases.
In fact, your outrage at Oscar’s choices may actually be because the Academy understands the public too well. They know that you are going to see sci-fi and action films because of the cool explosions, and they have nominated almost all of your favorites in the categories that honor that: Visual Effects and Sound Editing. Seriously, it’s like a who’s who list of bad-asses and franchises over there. And while it’s not quite as obvious, there are a fair number of comedies that have found their way into the list of screenplay nominees over the years.
But while creating a fantastic explosion is a difficult task that’s worthy of nominating your sound and visual effects artists for, convincing the public to go watch that explosion isn’t difficult at all. And that translates into a relatively easy job for the producers, who are the ones who actually take home those Best Picture statuettes. Investors line up to see their profits doubled, agents beg to have their actors featured, and the theater chains fall over themselves to show the film every half hour.
In contrast, an epic drama about romance during World War II, or a biography about a stuttering king, or a black and white comedy about a silent movie star are a bit harder to sell. They have to open their movie at a film festival and convince someone to pick it up instead of having throngs of people lined up for a preview at ComicCon. And if they are successful, it is because they have overcome a degree of difficulty that people in the film industry understand. They have somehow beaten the odds and gotten audiences to see their film despite the fact that there aren’t any wizards, vampires or superheroes in it. They have, in effect, won the Oscar because people like you think their film is crappy.
By Simon From Screen Insight:
Voters consist of prominent figures in the industry and previous winners and nominees. Interestingly, my weekly-article on fellow LAMB site Flickering Myth has seen me tackle a few of the controversies regarding the Oscars. Issues regarding the voters of the Oscars came to the forefront as the LA Times found that the voters were generally old, white men. You can read much more by clicking here.
But having said that, only recently, the newest members of the Academy were much more diverse (Most likely in response to the article) and included filmmakers such as Wong Kar Wai and Kasi Lemmons, alongside recent winners and nominees Octavia Spencer and Bernice Bejo. I wrote an article on this situation too which you can access here.
So, though history has sometimes swayed the Oscar voters to safer, standard “old-white-man” films/Weinstein-films – it seems there is an up-and-coming group of voters and members who will potentially change the type of winner the Oscars dictate. I personally think it is already happening with a French film, The Artist, winning-out over the other 8 American films and The Hurt Locker – the lowest grossing Oscar-winner and a film directed by a woman – winning-out over the box-office and innovative Avatar. Its a slow change perhaps, but diversity is altering the Academy and it is only a matter of time before the ceremony will become important again.
By Dylan From Man I Love Films:
Little-known fact: this question from “Yahoo User #3” was actually submitted by Jason Soto. To answer your question, YU3, there are these things called “production values.” Now, I haven’t seen The English Patient yet, and it’s the winner of the most Oscars from your small sample given, but I think it’s fair to say that all three share what we “in the biz” like to call “high production values.” So basically, even though you might think them boring or whatever, they are all indisputably well-made from a technical standpoint, and most of the Oscars they won were for such attributes.
Or just blame crazy Hollywood liberals for their, um, super-conservative Oscar tastes.
From Dusty at Dusty On Movies.com:
My wife refuses to watch any film with me if it’s black and white, silent, foreign, or features heavy cursing. Should I get a divorce or kill her? Have doctors invented a cure for this mental defect?
I hate to answer a question with a question, but I must: do you mind that your wife is stupid? If not, then enjoy watching The Island with her for the 43rd time. If so, to borrow from Dan Savage (this is an advice column, right?), DTMFA
Don’t kill her. Unless you’re sure you could get away with it. Divorce is the more humane option, but might be more costly to you.
I don’t know if you can really do anything here, but at the very least, you should attempt to educate your wife about the importance of these movies.
Films were predominantly black & white until the 50’s, when color films were used as a gimmick to lure people away from the insidious new threat to the movies: television. (There were, of course, some color films before that, but the majority of movies were filmed in glorious B&W until TV was perceived as a threat to the industry). A little bit more than a decade later, color TVs were commonplace in American homes, so people needed a better reason to go to the movies. The Hays Code (which was quite stifling and had been used to censor movies since the 30’s), slowly eroded and was replaced by the original incarnation of the MPAA ratings system we’re all familiar with. So all the color and swearing was used as a way to make sure our asses were in the seats and not watching free TV. Oh, and the reason foreign films became popular here was because the Hays Code didn’t apply to non-American films, so these movies could get away with depicting things that Hollywood wouldn’t let movies made in the U.S. show. This also helped break down the archaic Hays Code because it put American movies at a disadvantage. The color, the swearing, the subtitles; it’s all about the money.
Aside from often being historically significant, many b&w, silent, subtitled and profanity-laced movies are just plain awesome. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like your wife feels this way. It sounds like your wife has some sort of attention deficit disorder. Silent movies generally don’t have many title cards, so you actually have to pay attention to what’s happening in order to understand the story. Foreign movies have subtitles, which means her time must be divided between paying attention to what’s happening on the screen and reading what characters are saying. I have no idea why some people don’t like black & white movies, and the swearing thing is a matter of taste. I don’t think all the Ritalin in the world will help get over those things.
If these movies mean that much to you, I’d recommend a compromise. Watch one of her movies and make her watch one of your picks. Be gentle. Start off with movies that might be able to hold her attention. Perhaps, over time she’ll learn to appreciate them. Or she may be a dullard. If that’s the case, find local film fanatics in your area and start a gathering. I’m sure you put up with enough crap, don’t let her steal this away from you!
Good lord that is an incredibly horrifying situation you are in, Dusty. First I would certainly consider taking out a good size life insurance policy. Then book a relaxing cruise to the Caribbean Islands, get your wife nice and “tipsy” and take her out dancing on the deck late into the evening. Gravity should take over from there. Seriously though, I simply don’t know if there’s a plausible answer to help you out with this epic situation you are in. Regardless, I will try to guide you best I can.
Okay, so I think one great way to enhance your wife’s cinematic taste is by easing her in slowly with the right films. Try to get her to watch movies that are easy for her to accept that also have trace elements of some of the things you mentioned. English language films that are either foreign made or have very foreign sensibilities might be a good gateway to guiding her down the path into full fledged foreign cinema. A film such as Luc Besson’s The Professional might be a good place to start. Alternatively, you could try something like Inglourious Basterds. Half of that film is subtitled, but that didn’t seem to bother mainstream audiences (I don’t think they realized they were reading, though).
Another thought is you could show her a foreign film that has a decently synced English language track and just not let her know it’s foreign. If she starts to catch on just tell her that the movie was made in Detroit and Kid Rock was the producer. Who wouldn’t believe that?!
Something else you should try is getting her to watch films that aren’t in her wheelhouse but have received a lot of praise by mainstream audiences. Could you get her to watch a foreign black and white silent film like The Artist when it was the movie that swept the Oscars last year? Would or could that be a selling point? I assume it’s a hard sell, but certainly worth a try. However, if something like The Artist is too much too fast (that’s what she said), and depending on her sense of humor, Tim Burton’s Ed Wood might be a good way to get her to at least watch a black and white film that isn’t “old.” You can tell her that Sarah Jessica Parker is in it. Girls love her.
My last suggestion is to make a deal with the devil. Tell Anastasia (that’s the name I’ve given your wife) she gets to pick one movie, any movie, of her choice, and the following night you get to pick the film you want to watch. Now, doing such a thing could really cause chaos for your mental state if she picks something you absolutely hate, but the pain will be well worth it when the time comes to watch your choice. Also, be aware that this is an opportunity to get her under your control, so don’t fuck it up (sorry about the language Anastasia) by picking the wrong movie. You must cease this chance to pick the perfect film that might just change her mind about “those movies,” so save Seven Samurai for next time.
Best of luck to you, good sir, and know that I believe in you. We all believe in you.
From Yahoo! User #4:
What movies do you recommend as an escape to marriage?
I wanna take wifey to a movie where she’ll forget that she’s even married and therfore be all about getting some.
What movies would fit that category?
Dear Clueless Horny Married Guy,
You’re quite the charmer aren’t you? I’m tempted to call you a dirty old man and recommend a cold shower rather than a trip to the theater. But the truth is that Hollywood is run by dirty old men who are a lot like you, and they’ve gotten pretty good at designing movies that will put your woman in the mood. The only problem, it turns out, is that men like you aren’t as “all about getting some” as you claim to be.
The studios do extensive market research discovering what turns women on, but you flush all that work down the drain every time you label a film as a “chick flick”. They pump millions of dollars into musicals, rom-coms and costume dramas, any one of which would do the trick if you had the good sense to keep your mouth shut. If you really want sex, stop complaining that these films don’t have enough car chases and notice that her engine is already revved up.
Do you know why Shakespeare In Love won the Oscar for best picture? Because all the smart guys took their wives or girlfriends to see it twice, and got lucky both times, while the dumb guys are still complaining that Saving Private Ryan lost. Stop insisting that The English Patient is a crappy movie, and recognize that it’s actually your best chance of getting laid. Even when Hollywood plants the idea of a threeway in her mind, all you do is make fun of the glittery vampire and the shirtless werewolf.
And if you want extra credit, do something radical and let HER choose the film. If she picks something with lots of explosions and silicone breasts, then it’s probably compensation for the fact that you won’t be seeing any explosions or real breasts in the bedroom that night. If, on the other hand, she drags you to a somber character study with subtitles, then hire a sitter and spring for the extra large tub of popcorn. If you put on a brave smile and don’t make it too obvious that you’re faking it, she just might return the favor.
Hello Yahoo user,
My entire movie collection has helped me escape the clutches of marriage for years! But I don’t think that’s what you meant.
So you want a movie to do the dirty work for you and get your wife in the mood?
It looks like slim pickings for theatrical releases. There’s a movie coming out called 30 Beats. It’s a romantic comedy, but it looks like it’s more about the romance than the comedy. It’s all about sex, but in that chick way where there are vaguely attractive people (and some ugmos) hooking up and trying not to fall in love. Because women love the idea of men trying their hardest not to fall for them and failing miserably. There are hints of lesbianism, but not the good type you look at on the internet when your wife is out; more like the obnoxious Liberal Arts majoring barista types who occupy things. It’s a limited release, which basically means New York and maybe Los Angeles will get it.
For home viewing, you can’t miss with 9 1/2 Weeks, Y Tu Mama Tambien, 9 Songs or Secretary. These are time-tested lady pleasers.
Never underestimate the power of porn though. They make a type of porn especially for women. Only women call it “erotica” so they can sleep at night without feeling like dirty porn addicts. The downside to this is that it isn’t available in 3 minute clips on shady websites. You’d have to order it. Check out Femme Productions (they seem like the big name in this racket). Their covers look like trashy romance novels and the plot summaries read like rejected script summaries pulled from the dumpster behind Lifetime. Or google “couples oriented porn” and see what you can find. Good luck!
Uh-oh. You realize what you’re wanting a recommendation of, don’t you – you want a recommendation for a CHICK FLICK. But not just ANY chick flick… you want a chick flick that will make HER hot.
Okay, let’s look at the logic of that statement, shall we? Anyone who has been married for any length of time will tell you that the first thing to go out the door is the sexual thing. Ouch. Yeah, you’ll still love each other, you’ll still spend time with each other, but the attraction for her to want to whip off each others’ clothes and have at it right there in the breakfast nook or mud room is all gone, Pete Tong.
I mean hey, YOU still want it, amirite? Her… it’s all about the mood being right, hormones being balanced, having the right chemicals flowing, the lighting in the room, enough rose petals lying around, Racmaninoff playing, the proper body temperature for both partners….
So, sometimes it will take the right kind of movie too, then. You’ve seen it happen where she’ll have just watched one of those Lifetime Movies and be all warm and happy and slink on over and lick your ear and…
Anyway, there ARE some certain movies that have that desired effect which will make the wifey forget that she’s an old married lady and turn into that vivacious, wanton sexpot you saw twirling her hair by herself in the corner of that college mixer or by that jukebox at the bar waiting for her Manhattan or whatever.
But wait a minute… these have to be movies that won’t make you squirm in your seat, check your watch, want to make you chew off your leg to escape or simply turn you into a Justin Bieber right then and there and start singing four octaves higher. I gotcha covered, pal. I wouldn’t let you down.
I have some suggestions of movies that will not only make the little woman a little vixen, but will also keep you, the willing and waiting hubby, entertained as well.
9 1/2 WEEKS – Duh, that one goes without saying. A man (Mickey Rourke) and a woman (Kim Basinger) meet and have bout after bout after bout of unplanned, ready-for-anything sex at a moment’s notice. So many abandoned alleyways, empty rooms, bedrooms and kitchens host moments of energetic bouts of sex so acrobatic and energetic there should be Olympic judges off to one side. And if you ever wanted to know what to do with all those leftovers in the refrigerator….
BODY HEAT – Now here we have a classic tale that’s as good as those classic film noirs, only with John Hurt and Kathleen Turner as one of those couples who exists to cast smoldering glances, sexually-charged dialogue (by Lawrence Kasdan, no less) and that one moment where Hurt throws a chair through Turner’s glass door has made women melt the world over. I’ve seen it happen. Multiple times. Trust me.
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE – a very good, very funny movie with a script that will make you laugh out loud several times. Joseph Fiennes’ Shakespeare has some sonnet-worthy passionate scenes with actress Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow). And don’t think you have to speed things along just because Geoffrey Rush is in it….
THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING – Yeah, here we have a thought-provoking movie that was even based on a book (by Milan Kundera), directed by Philip Kaufman, and sexual situations and tensions a go-go with plenty of Daniel Day-Lewis for the ladies to get hot-n-bothered over. Plus, guys – if I may direct your attention to Lena Olin and Juliette Binoche? Hmm? Hmmmmmm? Wink-wink, nudge-nudge?
BREATHLESS (either version) – let’s face it, guys; any Richard Gere or Jean-Paul Belmondo flick is gonna get any woman warm. Especially this movie that has a hot sexy guy on the run with an equally hot, sexy lady. And like I said, it doesn’t matter which one. Of course, if you casually ask the wife, “hey, what do you think of Jean-Paul Belmondo?” and she responds”Who?”, go with the Richard Gere version.
So there are five good choices. Have ’em at the ready, take the phone off the hook, put the pink champagne on ice and have those silk sheets ready, Romeo. And remember: whatever she says, tell her she’s right – no need in jinxing it. Now go get ‘er, tiger! ROWWRRR!!
Dear The Droid,
Thank you for bringing up this important issue. I know this matter has been burning in the hearts and minds of our fellow LAMBs, and it’s long past due to put this one to bed.
The Oompa Loompas.
So yes, the Oompa Loompas would beat those Munchkins senseless. It would be as much of a fight as any Mike Tyson fight from 1986 to 1988 — more of a brief thrashing than a fight.
Let’s look at what we know. The Wizard of Oz’s introduction to the munchkins features a parade of many dancing townsfolk (comprised mainly of females) accompanied by their leader and what appears to a small army of sorts. But after some continued pleasant whirling around by some lovely ladies in pink tutus, we are introduced to the bravado-heavy Lollipop Guild. The name sounds all rainbow and sunshine but the boys look a lot more like Leprechauns from the Bronx. Basically you totally get the vibe that these little dudes are frequently getting into scraps and slapping the women around despite their good intentions of delivering sweet treats.
Switching to the world of Willy Wonka, the Oompa Loompa are also noted to be a genial people. With their home land of Loompaland a source of constant struggle for survival (thanks to those pesky Whangdoodles, Hornswogglers and Snozzywangers) the peaceful folk left with Wonka to work in his factory. They aren’t too chatty but they love to belt out a good song and it’s usually at the expense of a bratty kid.
So while both of these height-challenged groups seem to be friendly, I have to try to take a guess at who would win in a slug fest. At first look, those frown-faced Lollipop Guild guys seem to be the obvious answer for Team Munchkin. But we only see 3 representatives of the bunch so who knows how many others there even are. The Munchkins group as a whole a really holding an assortment of delicate flowers and a fat mayor. Team Loompa on the other hand, has a few key things going for them. First, we can assume that they have been in some squabbles before with the vicious creatures of their homeland. They may not want to fight, but I’m betting they have a few tricks up their sleeves. I doubt the Munchkins tyrannical rule of the Wicked Witch involved day to day life-threatening struggles. Plus, you got hundreds of OL’s together 24/7 working in unison with amazing precision. While the Munchkin residents seems to have a host of musical numbers planned and choreographed, the Oompa Loompas can come up with some stellar songs completely on the fly. The ability to improvise, coupled with their previous experience in a savage environment tells me the Oompa Loompas would come out on top.
The world may never know the true answer to this question, unless of course Hollywood finally answers the nations collective prayers and starts production on Wonka vs. The Wizard: The Untold Origin Stories.
By Jason Soto from Invasion of the B-Movies:
I am surprised this is the first time this question has ever popped up. Clearly, the winner is the Oompa-Loompas. Let’s look at the facts.
1. The Oompa-Loompas are cold heartless creatures. They basically assist in the torture and maybe death of several children. Granted, the children deserved it, but still.
2. The Oompa-Loompas have access to all kinds of strange machines that’s candy powered that’ll do all kinds of damage.
3. Their song is a bit catchier. At least in my opinion.
The Munchkins, on the other hand, got enslaved by a witch, doing only god knows what. (I’ll admit I’ve never read or seen “Wicked” because I’m a straight male. OH SNAP OH NO I DINNIT!) And I’m pretty sure this makes them pretty easy push overs.I’m sure if the Oompa-Loompas were to overpower The Munchkins, there would be lots of blood spilt in Oz. And no amount of “no place like home” will save you. More like “no place like your ass getting kicked by small orange people!”
And that’s it for this edition! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE send in some questions or problems of your own to firstname.lastname@example.org
for the next edition of Ask The LAMB! I’d like to thank NeverTooEarly for being our guest! As for everybody who did submit questions, thank you!