Listen to Part I: Best Actor races

Listen to Part II: Best Picture breakdown

This Sunday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hand out awards like it has each year for the last 86 years. There will be a delightful host ushering along the festivities, beautiful accepting awards from beautiful people and snarky comments from writers and cine-geeks that still cannot believe there movie was slighted. But my question is this: does winning an Academy Award really matter that much?

Contemporary society places a premium on awards and recognition. It’s why sports figures are judged by their MVPs and championships, writers secretly wish to one day win a Pulitzer or AMSE award and physicists work towards a Nobel prize. Yet, in all those instances, there is only one winner: the person that actually takes home the award. Have you ever heard someone introduced on a talk show as a ‘two-time Super Bowl runner-up’ or ‘Nobel Prize nominee’? It’s because the nominees don’t receive the recognition; the winners do. Yet with the Oscars, being nominated seems to be its own award. Actors proudly wear the badge of being ‘Oscar-nominated.’  Studios use nominations to tout the accomplishments of their cast in a trailer. It seems that winning is almost just an ancillary benefit of the real award: begin nominated for an Oscar. So if somehow, Matthew McConaughey or Jared Leto or Lupita Nyong’o do not come away winners (which is incredibly unlikely), they can hang their hat on being nominated. (But screw that, they better win.)

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George Clooney is a movi star. This much I am sure of. Matt Damon? Also a movie star. Combining the two tends to yield a highly enjoyable product. (See: 11, Ocean’s) World War II? A highly bankable subject that his been translated onto the big screen thousands of times. John Goodman and Bill Murray? Comedic icons that have both received acclaim for their parts in dramatic films. Cate Blanchett has won one Oscar, will take home another this year barring a story about her clubbing baby seals, and has been nominated three other times.

So why, then, am I concerned about February’s The Monuments Men? All aforementioned pieces are present in a story I find genuinely compelling. Hitler and Co. are aiming to destroy any evidence that a group of people ever existed. While most WWII movies deal with the physical and literal horrors of Hitler’s regime, this movies appears to tap into a dark, more existential form of derangement. Which is good when you are talking about the subject of a movie.

It’s the release date that has me worried. The movie had buzz as a potential 2014 Oscar nominee but was bumped to the awards graveyard of February, rendering it ineligible for this year’s Academy Awards. Clooney, who directed and stars in the film, told the Los Angeles Times that his production team did not have enough time to complete the visual effects and “If any of the effects looked cheesy, the whole movie would look cheesy.”

So gone too, in all likelihood, are the 2015 Oscar chances for Clooney and friends. There has not been a movie released in February that was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar since Silence of the Lambs was won in 1991. (There have, however, been quite a few notable comedies released over that stretch. Among them, Wayne’s WorldBilly MadisonHappy GilmoreOffice Space and Old School.) Clooney, however, doesn’t seem to share the concern that others may have, worrying that perhaps the movie was not worthy of the acclaim it prematurely received. So perhaps I shouldn’t be either.

In any event, Anthony and I discuss the movie, along with the reboot of Robocop, another offering from Kevin Hart and the bastard Jon Snow taking over the big screen. And at the end, the guys give their thoughts on the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Movies discussed are listed below, in order of when they were discussed. Continue reading