"Everything is as it should be."

                                                                                  - Benjamin Purcell Morris

 

 

© all material on this website is written by Michael McCaffrey, is copyrighted, and may not be republished without consent

2018 Mid-Term Elections

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Ever since Trump was elected president in 2016, the media have declared that he would face a comeuppance in the form of vast Democrat victories, or as they call it, a “blue wave”, come the 2018 mid-term elections. While I would like to think that would happen…I don’t think that will happen.

As long time readers know, I was one of “those people” who, in the face of a cavalcade of opposite opinion in the media and in my social circles, accurately predicted Trump’s victory in 2016. As I said in my writing from that time, I didn’t want Trump to win (nor was I a Hillary supporter), I just thought he would. I ended up being right and we have all had to suffer through the never ending reality show that is Trump TV ever since.

The formula I used to predict Trump’s 2016 victory is my McCaffrey Wave Theory, which again, I am sure long-time readers are sick of hearing about…but what can you do? My wave theory uses, among other things, popular culture, most specifically, at least currently, film and television, as indicators of the mood in the collective unconscious. The formula of the McCaffrey Wave Theory is actually very complex and complicated, and takes into account numerous cultural and historical “waves” or “cycles” that are all simultaneously in motion.

Interpreting the data from these waves/cycles and measuring their relationship to one another is how the McCaffrey Wave Theory is able to “predict” certain turn of events. And to be clear, this is not about being Nostradamus and saying planes will fly into buildings on 9-11, but rather about understanding the ebbs and flows of the collective unconscious and knowing when both big and small shifts will occur when portions of the collective unconscious become conscious.

The key elements of the McCaffrey Wave Theory are the archetypes, narratives and sub-texts prominent in films/tv along with their color scheme and visual/cinematic tendencies. These data points are how my wave/cycle theory is able to discern which films and/or television shows are leading indicators and which are lagging indicators of the collective unconscious. Leading indicator films are the ones that express the unconscious desires/fears of the collective, while lagging indicator films are the ones that express conscious fears or desires of the collective.

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Some examples of leading indicator film and tv were pretty obvious in 2017 when HULU’s A Handmaid’s Tale (its narrative and vibrant red and green color scheme) and the DC film Wonder Woman (its narrative and red and blue color scheme) jumped to the fore of our culture in the early summer. These two successful projects accurately foretold of the coming feminist outcry and the rise of the #MeToo movement in the wake of the Weinstein revelations that came out in October of 2017.

A good example of a lagging indicator film was in 2017 as well, when Steven Spielberg rushed into production his thinly veiled anti-Trump/pro-Hillary film, The Post, that underwhelmed both at the box office and come awards time. The Post failed both artistically and financially because it was little more than wish fulfillment that attempted to give the audience what it wanted, not what the collective sub-conscious needed.

In the years leading up to the rise of Trump in 2016, there were numerous films and television shows that were ominous signs of a very dark impulse coming to the fore in American life and across the globe.

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Two glaring examples were HBO’s Game of Thrones with its marketing campaign which for years was warning us all with their ice-blue billboards proclaiming that “Winter is Coming”. The other was Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, a show about what America would be like if the Nazi’s and Japanese won World War II, which hit the airwaves in 2015 accompanied by a prodigious marketing campaign which had the Nazi Eagle on the American flag and the Imperial Japanese flag plastered all over the New York subway and elsewhere. Both of those shows resonated within the culture because they accurately gave voice to what was lurking in our collective unconscious. On some level we knew what was coming…a horrible “winter” and the Nazi’s/Not Sees…and these shows knew it before we were even conscious of it. (and don’t kid yourself, the Nazi/Not See impulse is not solely of the right, the left has a strong Not See impulse too).

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In 2015 there were many films that were also giving us warning signs of big trouble ahead. The Martian, The Hateful Eight, The Revenant and Star Wars: The Force Awakens were all through their narratives, color schemes (Martian - Red, Hateful 8 - Blue, Revenant - Blue, Star Wars - Red and Blue) and cinematic visuals (shots of foreboding vast expanses) the equivalent of a flashing red sign that a gigantic storm was coming.

In 2016 things got even clearer, as the blockbusters Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, Deadpool, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and even La La Land all revealed through their narratives (internecine warfare), sub-text and color schemes (all of them with vibrant clashes of red and blue) that our cultural train was headed off the track if not the cliff.

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As I have previously written, last year cinema gave us some signs of what to expect going forward. The big archetype of the year in 2017 was Winston Churchill…with the films Dunkirk, Darkest Hour and the Netflix show The Crown. The Churchill archetype can be interpreted in numerous ways, but when seen in conjunction with other wave/cycles, it strikes me that the Churchill archetype is manifesting in the Trump’s of the world…in other words…it is actually the Churchill shadow archetype that is taking center stage.

Which brings us to this year and the mid-terms. As I said, there has been incessant talk of a blue wave and in its jubilant wake the possibility of a Democratic House and maybe even Senate where, like a scene out of The Godfather where Michael settles all family business, liberals exact revenge by impeaching not only of Trump but Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh. As entertaining as that liberal porn may be…I don’t think it is going to happen.

According to my wave theory, there will be no blue wave. Not only will the Democrats not win the Senate, I don’t think they will win the House either, and if they do it will be by the skin of their teeth. Now…before you stick your head in the oven…to be very, very clear…I could certainly be wrong about this, God knows it wouldn’t be the first time. For starters, I have never used my wave theory to predict a mid-term before, and it could be I am interpreting the data entirely incorrectly, this is a distinct possibility. But with that said, ever since last June, when I wrote a piece for CounterPunch on the topic, along with a follow up posting on this blog in July, I have thought that this blue wave was a mirage.

As I stated in my CounterPunch piece, the big warning signs for me were the prominence and success of both Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War, both of which had narratives, sub-text and color scheme that spoke clearly of the failure of the opposition to Trump to succeed in toppling him.

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Other films, such as A Quiet Place, Hereditary and even A Star is Born, that have all resonated deeply within the culture this year, are also leading indicators of a Democratic failure come the mid-terms because of their narratives and sub-text. Believe it or not, A Star is Born is remarkably insightful sub-textually and that sub-text very clearly (once you crack the code of it) states that if not Trump, then at least Trumpism, is here to stay as a replacement for the old paradigm, as indicated by the song in the film “Maybe it’s time we let the old ways die”. (I hope to have a full analysis of A Star is Born done soon).

Just as importantly, there are lagging indicator films that are, just like Spielberg’s The Post in 2017, falling flat, which highlight what isn’t resonating in the collective unconscious. Films with similar narratives, like the “aggrieved and under-appreciated genius wife/power behind the throne” stories of The Wife and Colette, or the “police shooting/racism” films The Hate U Give, Monsters and Men and Blindspotting, have all fallen flat in the broader culture. Even the colossal failure of the cinematic celebration of multi-culturalism and female empowerment, A Wrinkle in Time, is telling us what is going on in our collective unconscious, and it isn’t good news.

Now…maybe I am dead wrong about all this…maybe I am misreading and misinterpreting the data, that is a distinct possibility. Maybe the Democrats win a huge majority in the House and even get one in the Senate…but neither of those things will lead to a return to “normal”…only an escalation of the clash for civilization that is currently taking place.

Even if Democrats win, the intensity of the political turmoil here in America will not recede but proceed at an even quicker pace. Two more years of impeachment talk and congressional hearings will only heighten the tensions that are already near a boil. If you thought Trump was awful these last two years, wait until he faces an existential threat to his presidency from a Democratically controlled House and possibly Senate.

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On the other hand, if, as I have been predicting since June, there is not blue wave, don’t expect tensions to lessen. If Democrats fail to gain the House, Trump will turn his obnoxiousness up to 11 and liberals and the media will ratchet up the crazy to unseen heights. And on top of that, if Mueller ends his investigation with no bombshells or smoking gun of “Russian collusion”, the liberal and Democratic meltdown will make Chernobyl look like a cookout.

In other words…no matter the outcome on November 6th, the conflagration that is American politics will only grow bigger, hotter and much more dangerous.

The reality is that there is no stopping the collapse of the institutions of western civilizations. Trust me, we have a very, very bumpy road ahead. That means more authoritarianism across the globe (Bolsonaro will win in Brazil) and more shocks to the system, like economic earthquakes, natural disasters and war.

The good news is that this current wave/cycle of collapse and destruction will not last forever. Eventually, after maybe a decade or so (or God help us a decade or two), this collapse and destruction wave/cycle will transform into a more optimistic wave/cycle of growth, stability, relative peace and prosperity. Remember, destruction is the first act of creation, and we will create, hopefully, a more just, localized, thoughtful and sustainable civilization in the crater where this one once stood.

As for the bad news…we are still in the destruction phase…and come November 7th there are going to be a lot of really pissed off Democrats, liberals and anti-Trumpers, who will still have no power in Washington with which to vent their rage. And if you thought things have been bad the last two years, what ‘til you get a load of what comes next because you ain’t seen nothing yet.


©2018

90th Academy Awards: The 2018 Oscars Prediction Post

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Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes 66 seconds

As February has come and gone without the Academy Awards happening, March now roars in like a hungry Oscar lion. Due to the Winter Olympics monopolizing Sunday night television for the last two weeks, the Oscars were pushed back to the first week of March, and now our interminable wait for the most important night of the year is finally over. 

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The Oscars are the most Holy of all the High Holy Days here in the People's Republic of Hollywood and are the culmination of thousands and thousands of years of human evolution which will reach its apex this Sunday night. From the first time a million years ago when ape-men tossed their animal bone weapons into the sky in the shadow of giant black monolith, to Steve Guttenberg inventing movable type and printing the first bible in 1450 to Andy Kaufman being the first Man on the Moon, we have been hurtling towards the evolutionary perfection of Sunday night's Oscar ceremony.

The anticipation for this year's Oscar's is palpable, especially after last year's Moonlight - La La Land Best Picture fiasco, everyone is tingling with anticipation over what will happen this year. It is my duty as a card carrying member of the People's Party of Hollywood to express my thoughts, feelings and beliefs regarding this most glorious of events, the Oscars, so I have written my predictions for the awards below.

Last year I had an uncharacteristically bad time in predicting the awards. The reason for my off year was because last year was the first year of the "New Academy"…you see after the #OscarsSoWhite nonsense of 2016, the Academy exiled a plethora of older White members and brought in a cavalcade of younger members who were non-White and female. With no history and voting trend data for me to analyze and base my predictions upon, I struggled to keep up my usual stellar prediction standards (I have never lost an Oscar pool…ever, including last year…although I did tie with somebody once in the dark year of 1998). 

This year I have the benefit of one year New Academy data under my belt, so hopefully I won't be as dreadful as I was last year…but old habits die hard and I am no doubt prone to falling back into the ways of the traditionalist thinking of the Old Academy. We'll see. 

Back in the dark days of the Old Academy, the rule of thumb regarding categories that you had no idea about like best documentary, documentary short or short films was a cynical formula that everyone knew about but no one was comfortable saying out loud. The formula was basically this…if any film dealt with the Holocaust, pick it to win. If there were no Holocaust movie to choose, then the Oscar winners would be, in descending order of likelihood, films about gay issues, particularly the AIDS epidemic, or films dealing with civil rights/race issues.

In this current era of identity politics, the New Academy has a formula to its choices as well, the hard part is figuring out what it is. For instance, does the New Academy lean toward Black films and gay films over other issue movies, and therefore if you have a Black-gay film like Moonlight...you can win Best Picture?

Due to the powerful sway of identity politics in the New Academy, I have decided to make a new and somewhat uncomfortable addition to my Oscars predictions article, I will not only tell you who should win, and who will win, but also will handicap the "New Academy" and how they may see the Oscar race. Some may deem my blunt talk of the harsh reality of identity politics in the New Academy as insensitive or "racist" but I feel if I were to ignore this blatantly obvious issue I would be doing my readers a disservice. 

It is important to remember that these new Academy members who are mostly people of color and women (or women of color!!), were brought in to nip #OscarsSoWhite in the bud, and so last year they did just that by giving Best Picture to Moonlight and awarding two African-American actors statuettes. The New Academy people understand that the only reason they are in the Academy is to reward artists of color and women, and that is important to keep in mind when trying to guess how they will vote. My "Handicapping the New Academy" sections may seem terribly cynical, and they are, but that doesn't mean they aren't based on the reality of Hollywood in general and the New Academy in particular.

With all that said…it is time…are you ready? I hope so! I ask that you please sit back, relax…and remember that The Oscars are a Holy endeavor so no wagering please…now dive head first into the shitshow that are my blind guesses as to who will win the most coveted prize in the history of the universe…THE OSCAR!!

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Mary J. Blige - Mudbound: I have bad news for you…I haven't seen Mudbound. I think this may mean I am a racist, I'm not sure…but I hope not. I promise I will see it though…soon. You know who else probably hasn't seen Mudbound…Oscar voters. 

Allison Janney - I, Tonya : Allison Janney devours every scene she inhabits in I, Tonya. Her performance is not all flash and no bash though, as she crafts a genuine human being out of what could have been a caricature in lesser artistic hands.

Lesley Manville - Phantom Thread: Leslie Manville's work is simply stunning in Phantom Thread. Her mastery of stillness and specificity of intention is staggering and her performance a marvel to behold. Young actors would be wise to study Ms. Manville's Phantom Thread performance and steal as much of it as they can carry.

Laurie Metcalf - Lady Bird: Metcalf has received many accolades for her work as Lady Bird's mom, but I felt her performance was one note and rather shallow. A lot of the problems with the character are probably due to the script, but I felt Metcalf was a bit underwhleming in the role regardless.

Octavia Spencer - The Shape of Water: Octavia Spencer is as solid and reliable an actress as you'll find working these days. She has the innate ability to create genuine and grounded characters of multi-dimensions and deep humanity that never fail to enhance any film in which she appears.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Lesley Manville - I think Manville's work is technically superior to every other actress nominated. Manville's work is less showy, but more technically proficient and precise than any of the competition and it isn't even close. 

HANDICAPPING THE NEW ACADEMY: The New Academy would want to reward Mary J. Blige or Octavia Spencer, but Ms. Spencer has already won the award and Ms. Blige appears in a Netflix film, which is something even the New Academy hasn't figured out how to properly judge. 

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WHO WILL WIN: Allison Janney: Ms. Janney has won all the other awards leading up to the Oscars, and her performance is crowd pleasing…so I think she walks away with the easy win here. It also helps that Ms. Janney is very highly regarded and well liked out here in Hollywood. 

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Willem Dafoe - The Florida Project: I really like Dafoe as an actor, but I thought his role in The Florida Project was not Oscar worthy. It is not that he does a bad job, just that there isn't much for him to do in the movie. 

Woody Harrelson - Three Billboards: I thought Woody Harrelson was fantastic in Three Billboards, or as I keep calling it Three Dildos, creating a complex character of real depth. Harrelson has matured into a top-notch actor in his middle age and Three Dildos is proof of his undeniable skill and talent. That said, he was even better in War for the Planet of the Apes this year

Richard Jenkins - The Shape of Water: Jenkins is phenomenal in The Shape of Water, as he never falls into the trap of caricature or maudlin preening. Jenkins is always a terrific actor, and The Shape of Water may be the best work of his stellar career.

Christopher Plummer - All the Money in the World: I haven't seen All the Money in the World…I know, I know, I am a terrible person. Plummer is an old pro and he no doubt got this nomination simply because the Academy wanted to send a signal of disgust to Kevin Spacey who originally shot the role but was disappeared down the memory hole by director Ridley Scott. 

Sam Rockwell- Three Billboards: Rockwell makes lemonade out of the one dimensional lemons the script hands him. Rockwell plays his racist, dim bulb character with aplomb and is able to subtly turn a shallow potential caricature into more than just a punch line. 

WHO SHOULD WIN: Richard Jenkins - Jenkins work in The Shape of Water is simply superb and far and away the best in this category. 

HANDICAPPING THE NEW ACADEMY: This is a weird category as there are no minorities nominated, that said Jenkins does play a gay man, which in the Old Academy would have given him a leg up on the competition, but not now. Rockwell has gotten some heat because his character is an irredeemable racist, which could spell trouble for him even though he is the front runner. 

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WHO WILL WIN: Sam Rockwell - Rockwell has won all of the other awards leading up to the Oscars, and I think the campaign against him revolving around his character being a racist will ultimately fail. I think the biggest reason it will fail is because there are no minority actors who could potentially supplant him. 

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The Big Sick - I haven't seen the Big Sick…and yes, I am well-aware that makes me a really bad person. It is funny as I have gotten more marketing material in the mail from the Big Sick than any other film this past year, including a screener of the film, and still haven't watched it. Just more proof that I need to budget my time much better. 

Get Out - I finally saw Get Out about a month ago and was entirely and totally underwhelmed by it. The idea that this movie, script, director and lead actor are nominated for an Oscar is a joke. It is a moderately entertaining horror-comedy…like Scream…not exactly the stuff of Oscar gold. 

Lady Bird - Lady Bird is a poorly written film that is more akin to a CBS sitcom along the lines of The Big Bang Theory, than an Oscar worthy movie. But the Academy loves their manic pixie dream girl Greta Gerwig for some mysterious reason…so she has a real chance. Hell, Woody Allen has won numerous Oscars and he sucks…so Greta has a good chance. 

The Shape of Water - Del Toro's script is a masterfully layered piece of work that never diminishes it's characters by going down the road of the simple and easy. Del Toro also successfully weaves political and religious themes throughout his unconventional love story, proving his skill as a screenwriter.

Three Billboards - Three Dildos is a script that shows a foreigners distorted view of what they think America is, filled with caricatures and one dimensional, simplistic characters. It has all the nuance and subtlety of a Kid Rock song about France. 

WHO SHOULD WIN: The Shape of Water is the best script in the bunch and it isn't even close. 

HANDICAPPING THE NEW ACADEMY: In the old days, Three Dildos would be the favorite because it is written by a successful playwright and the Old Academy loved them some playwrights. But the new academy is either going to go with Jordan Peele for Get Out or Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird. The question becomes will gender trump race or race trump gender…hmmmm…it'll be a nail biter. 

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WHO WILL WIN: Get Out - I think Peele will get the trophy as a sort of condolence prize since they won't give him Best Director…but that said…don't be shocked if Gerwig gets the win because unlike Jordan Peele, she has been out beating the bushes and campaigning hard for votes.

 

 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Call Me by Your Name - A dreadful movie and a dreadful script that is at the very least morally questionable…but Hollywood never considers morals in the moment, only in hindsight, i.e. #MeToo.

The Disaster Artist - Not a great script, and the fact that James Franco is on the #MeToo shitlist means that this movie is persona non grata on Oscar night. 

Logan - A terrific adaptation of a graphic novel. Logan was a terribly under appreciated last year but was one of the better films of the year and the script is the major reason why. A truly fantastic piece of writing.

Molly's Game - I haven't seen Molly's Game, but it is written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin's writing is difficult to direct, and frankly, I am willing to bet that ironically, he is not a good enough director to master directing his own script.

Mudbound - I haven't seen Mudbound…yeah, yeah, I'm an incorrigible racist…but I do look forward to seeing it, so there's hope for me yet.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Logan - The best script of this bunch by a mile. Logan turned the moribund X-Men franchise on its head and created a dark, grounded and stunning world in which Wolverine becomes a fully fleshed out character and not just a simple super hero. 

HANDICAPPING THE NEW ACADEMY: Mudbound should appeal to the New Academy because the writer, Dee Rees, is an African-American lesbian woman, but the problem is that it is a Netflix film and even the New Academy is struggling to embrace the Netflix model. Call Me By Your Name is the next best option for the identity politics of the New Academy though, as it is a story of homosexual love written by an older gay man. 

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WHO WILL WIN: Call Me by Your Name - I think Call Me by Your Name ekes out a win over Mudbound here. I think the Netflix thing hurts Mudbound, and the fact that James Ivory has such a stellar resume filled with prestige films will put him over the top. 

 

 

BEST DIRECTOR

Christopher Nolan - Dunkirk: Nolan's Dunkirk is a master class in technical proficiency in the art of filmmaking. Dunkirk was inarguably the most difficult film to make of all the nominees and Nolan proved himself a brilliant craftsman. Sadly, I think Dunkirk will be overlooked in the more popular categories, but I think it will win multiple technical awards, most specifically the sound awards.

Jordan Peele - Get Out: This nomination is a complete mystery to me. Get Out is a decent if unremarkable directorial debut for Peele, but the film and his direction are so below the classic standard for Oscar material that it is absurd. 

Greta Gerwig - Lady Bird: Greta Gerwig's direction and writing on Lady Bird are the two worst things about the film…which is a pretty big deal. Manic Pixie Dream Girl Gerwig is adored by the New Academy though and so she is poised to potentially win big on Oscar night. Gerwig has won points with the New Academy by being so vocal against Woody Allen, which is ironic because she is a quirky, female version of Allen…and that is not a compliment.

Paul Thomas Anderson - Phantom Thread: Anderson is far and away the greatest auteur of his generation and the greatest filmmaker working today. Phantom Thread is a staggeringly fantastic piece of cinema. I fear though that PT Anderson, like fellow genius of cinema Stanley Kubrick, is destined to be one of the greatest filmmakers of all-time who will not win an Oscar.

Guillermo del Toro - The Shape of Water: Del Toro is a true visionary, and his work on The Shape of Water is a testament to his originality and his unique artistic vision. 

WHO SHOULD WIN: Anderson/Nolan- If either PT Anderson or Christopher Nolan won, it would be sweet justice, since neither of them have ever won an Oscar for directing, which is a crime. 

HANDICAPPING THE NEW ACADEMY: In the Old Academy, Nolan would be a slam dunk here because they loved them some intricate war movies. But the New Academy has zero interest in Nolan, or PT Anderson. Del Toro would, in theory, satiate the identity politics thirst of the New Academy, but oddly enough, Latino men winning the directing Oscar is something that is commonplace, they have won three of the last four awards, and that doesn't seem to quell the cries of Oscar favoritism to White men. Peele and Gerwig are not worthy of their nominations, but they are serious threats to win, Peele because he is African-American, and Gerwig because she is a woman. The fact that Gerwig has been very vocal about the #MeToo issue and has spoken out about Woody Allen, give her an advantage on Peele in this category. 

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WHO WILL WIN: Del Toro. I know I am being foolish, traditionalist and hopelessly optimistic, but I think that talent wins out and del Toro gets the win. There is a very good chance though that Peele and Gerwig split the Best Screenplay and Best Director awards…stranger things have happened, and with the New Academy, anything is possible. Do not be shocked though if Gerwig wins for, ironically, being a female Woody Allen. Yuck.

 

BEST ACTRESS

Sally Hawkins - The Shape of Water: Hawkins is stunning as the mute cleaning lady at the center of The Shape of Water. An intricate and detailed performance that us a testament to Hawkins talent. 

Frances McDormand - Three Billboards: I found McDormand's work in Three Dildos to be rather shallow, vapid and one-note. Her perpetual anger may resonate with women at the moment, but artistically it is a vacant and foolish performance. 

Margot Robbie - I, Tonya: Robbie crushes it as Tonya Harding in this unique bio-pic. Robbie proves she is much, much more than just a pretty face as she dives into the deep end of a character that in lesser hands would have been vacuous at best. 

Saoirse Ronan - Lady Bird: Saoirse Ronan is a good an actress as we have working in film at the moment. She is virtually the only thing worth watching in the otherwise mundane Lady Bird. Her work in the film is a monument to her extraordinary mastery of craft, skill and enormous talent. 

Meryl Streep - The Post: It is old hat that Meryl Streep is nominated for an Oscar, but the truth is that she is spectacularly good in Spielberg's limp, piece of crap movie about the Pentagon Papers. Streep is the one and only reason to see this movie at all because she proves herself to be the real deal and still one of the greatest actresses to have ever lived. 

WHO SHOULD WIN: Sally Hawkins - Hawkins should win as she carries The Shape of Water without ever speaking a single word, which is an amazing achievement. 

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HANDICAPPING THE NEW ACADEMY: Frances McDormand gets the leg up in the New Academy because she embodies the angry, fighting woman that the #MeToo movement in Hollywood perceives itself to be. 

WHO WILL WIN: Frances McDormand walks away with it…undeservingly so. 

 

BEST ACTOR

Timothee Chalamet - Call Me by Your Name: I have no idea why this kid is nominated. None. The film is awful, the performance unremarkable in every way. 

Daniel Day-Lewis - Phantom Thread: Daniel Day Lewis is allegedly retiring from acting and this is his final performance. What a way to leave the stage! Lewis is at his very best in PT Anderson's enigmatic film about fashion and love. Lewis imbues his character with a specific internal intentionality that radiates off the screen. An undeniable master gives a masterful performance. 

Daniel Kaluuya - Get Out: Another mystery nomination. Kaluuya isn't bad in Get Out, but he isn't noteworthy either. Kaluuya's nomination, along with the film's other nominations, is a testament to how low the New Academy has sunk in their quest for the holy grail of diversity in the age of identity politics. 

Gary Oldman - Darkest Hour: Oldman is one of the great actors we've had over the course of his career. Oldman defies stereotype and plays Churchill as a man plagued by self-doubt and ruled by fear. A truly terrific performance that is undermined by a rather lackluster film. 

Denzel Washington - Roman J. Israel, Esq. : I have not seen Roman J. Israel, Esq., but you can never go wrong with Denzel Washington, who is maybe the Best Actor/Movie Star we have had in Hollywood over the last thirty years or so. 

WHO SHOULD WIN: Daniel Day Lewis/Oldman- If either of these guys win then you cannot complain as they are great in these films but have also been great over the course of their esteemed careers. 

HANDICAPPING THE NEW ACADEMY: The New Academy is definitely leaning towards Kaluuya in this category. He is young, new blood and he is Black, all things they are desperate to reward. Kaluuya has a legit shot at winning, but I think the fact that he is a total newcomer may end up scuttling his attempt at Oscar gold. 

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WHO WILL WIN: Gary Oldman - I admit that I am falling into the trap of traditionalism again, just as I did with the Best Director category. I could be wrong here, but I think Oldman is rewarded not just for his work in Darkest Hour but also for his long and outstanding career. I think Kaluuya is a legitimate threat to take the crown though, but in the end the campaign against Oldman will fall short. 

 

BEST PICTURE

Cal Me by Your Name: A boring and morally questionable mess of a movie. If this were the Old Academy, it might have a chance…but no way, no how, this year. 

Darkest Hour: In the Old academy Darkest Hour would be a serious threat, but the film is simply not good enough or original enough to hold the interest of the New Academy. 

Dunkirk: A staggering achievement in filmmaking, that sadly has been forgotten this awards season because it has nothing to do with identity politics. 

Get Out: A beneficiary of the "Leg Up" program of the New Academy that judges on a curve when it comes to minority films. Get Out is a mildly entertaining popcorn movie that has no business being nominated for anything. The greatest irony of all is that Get Out is a movie about White Liberal Guilt and the film is only nominated for so many Oscars simply because of White Liberal Guilt. Pretty funny. 

Lady Bird: Another beneficiary of the "Leg Up" program, Lady Bird is simply not a good movie. As my friend, a famous Hollywood big shot filmmaker dubbed Mr. X said to me, "Lady Bird is a watered down Napolean Dynamite for women". Ouch! 

Phantom Thread: Another of PT Anderson's masterpieces. Phantom Thread is a remarkable film  that is a monument to the undeniable talent of its director. 

The Post: Spielberg's usual shitty "serious" movie that is more proof that Spielberg can't make a real movie unless there are aliens or dinosaurs in it. It is unbelievable how poorly made this movie is. 

The Shape of Water: A fantastic and original piece of art that is mesmerizing from start to finish. A complex and complicated religious and political metaphor that says more than most other films without ever opening its mouth. 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: If you want to see what foreigners think America is like, watch Three Dildos. It is inaccurate, cheap and one dimensional. A dark comedy that isn't funny, and a comedic drama that has no drama. 

WHO SHOULD WIN: Dunkirk, Phantom Thread - If either of these movies win it will be a miracle, but they richly deserve it as they are far superior to any of the other films except for maybe The Shape of Water

HANDICAPPING THE NEW ACADEMY: The Shape of Water in old times would runaway with it without question as its subtle politics are what would usually be embraced by the Old Academy. But the Old Academy is gone, and the New Academy is an unpredictable beast. I think in the New Academy it is a battle between Get Out (race) and Lady Bird (gender). In conversations out here in Hollywood all I ever hear people say is that they want Get Out to win and the film seems to have serious momentum. I think Get Out, because it is more overtly political than Lady Bird, is the favorite in the New Academy.

WHO WILL WIN: Get Out - The Shape of Water?

I have gone back and forth on this one over the last few days. Old habits are hard to break and so my traditionalist, Old Academy side keeps pulling me to The Shape of Water, while the clues from the New Academy/Identity politics crowd all seem to be pointing to Get Out. This reminds me of the lead up to the 2016 presidential election where Hillary was presumed to be the winner and yet I saw something completely different happening. I followed my instincts back then and was right. But that was just a stupid presidential election…THIS IS THE OSCARS!!

As much as I want The Shape of Water to win because it is a superior film and is much more deserving of the award than the fool's gold of Get Out, that doesn't mean The Shape of Water will win. As my father used to say, "wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which fills up faster".  Moonlight's upset win last year has to teach me something…and if I don't learn from it I will be no better than the Hillary Dead Enders who have learned nothing from Trump's win in 2016. 

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Therefore…as much as it pains me to say it…my pick for Best Picture is…The Shape of Water!!! No…no…no…I'm so sorry, I typed the wrong title…the actual winner is Get Out

I am not going to be happy when Get Out wins because I think it will diminish the meaning and prestige of the Oscars, as dumb as that sounds…but if, as some are predicting, Three Dildos wins, I might just chop my own head off and throw it in the Ocean.

And one final note regarding the New Academy and #MeToo and all the rest. The proof that the New Academy and Hollywood is full of shit is that in the Animated Short category, Kobe Bryant has a film that is a self-serving, homage to himself titled, Dear Basketball, which is going to win the award. Hollywood loves Kobe…Kobe can do no wrong. Apparently Kobe's rape of a woman in Colorado and his treatment of that woman and others by his legal team, doesn't count in the eyes of the #MeToo gang. I always found it intriguing that OJ is so universally hated out here in Hollywood, just utterly despised, but when Kobe was accused of rape everyone came to his defense. Kobe is OJ in training…and is further proof of the rank hypocrisy of Hollywood and the New Academy. That is the end of my rant. 

And thus concludes yet another glorious Oscar prediction piece. I think that for the second year in a row the New Academy will, for good or for ill, shake things up. Get Out doesn't deserve any Oscars, but I believe it could be primed to have a big night this Sunday. Maybe…or hopefully…I am wrong and The Shape of Water or Dunkirk or Phantom Thread has a big night…one can dream…this is Hollywood after all.

Just think, a year from now we'll be having this same argument over another shitty movie that is getting too many accolades just because it satiates the New Academy's thirst for identity politics…ladies and gentlemen your front runner for the 2019 Best Picture Oscar is…Black Panther! Yuck. 

 

UPDATE: 3/2/18

I got an email from a reader asking me to expand my Oscar picks into the technical and lesser known categories. Here are my very brief picks for other Oscar categories...

Foreign Language Film - A Fantastic Woman or UPSET PICK: The Square

Cinematography - Roger Deakins Blade Runner 2049

Animated Film -  Coco

Documentary - Icarus

Animated Short - Dear Basketball

Original Score - Phantom Thread

Sound Editing and Sound Mixing - Dunkirk

Hair and Makeup - Darkest Hour

Production Design - The Shape of Water

Costume Design - Phantom Thread

Editing - Dunkirk

Visual Effects - War for the Planet of the Apes

Those are my best guesses…good luck!!

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©2018

Dunkirk : Random Thoughts

****THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SOME MINOR SPOILERS****

Estimated Reading Time : 6 minutes 39 seconds

After seeing Dunkirk I exited the theatre and sat in the lobby at an isolated table next to a big window that gave me a nice view of most of Los Angeles. I sat there and jotted down my thoughts on the film and once that was done, I kept on jotting. In a near stream of consciousness, I scribbled down everything that came flooding into my mind. These thoughts may be completely incoherent, totally random and not make a lick of sense, but if you think that means I'm not going to share them with you then you don't know me very well. So sit back, relax and enjoy unfettered access to the dark corners of my post-Dunkirk mind.

BREXIT STAGE LEFT

Director Christopher Nolan's politics are always difficult to read, but it strikes me that his newest tour-de-force, Dunkirk, is an unabashed metaphor for modern-day Britain escaping the EU before that whole enterprise goes under.

One supporting clue to that thesis is that the first civilian small boat that crosses the channel and lands on France's shore to save and extract British soldiers from Europe is named "New Britannia". Add to that the films overall underlying premise that Brits are palpably and desperately yearning for "home", and Kenneth Branagh's Henry V-esque role/performance, and it seems pretty clear.

This is obviously an interesting time for Dunkirk to be hitting the theaters. In Britain, the tumultuous uncertainty of the impending Brexit (along with the fact that Theresa May's government is teetering) hovers over the nation like a dense fog. To many this is a catastrophe on par with the British armies defeat at Dunkirk. At this darkest hour comes Dunkirk, a film, and a story, that highlights the very best of Britishness, their resilience, resourcefulness and stiff-upper lip and all that. That Britishness was on full display in 1940 at Dunkirk when the Brits had their back against the wall and all, including the war and the world, seemed lost, but they rose to the occasion back then for their finest hour. 

Love it or loathe it, the British will now have to withdraw back to the their island fortress and work together in order to survive the coming inevitable post-Brexit winter. I happen to think that Brexit will be revealed to be a prescient decision by the Brits once the financial troubles and civilizational clashes in the EU boil over and chaos ensues. The UK will then have a head start in localization and in rebuilding their nation, traditional national identity and economy well before the other EU nations are forced to do the same by economic and political forces well beyond their control or knowledge. The movie Dunkirk also gives some not so subtle signs as to what it believes will happen to the French (and the rest of Europe) in the coming years, as there is one major French character in the film and he ends up at the bottom of the channel, unable to escape the rising tide that is destined to engulf the EU.

The film Dunkirk can be a roadmap for the British to follow in their flight from Europe and return to "home". They must change course by jettisoning the historic shackles of their own imperialism and colonialism and prioritizing their own national interests and the interests of their native and traditional peoples. Many folks will get hurt, some will be left behind and some will die. But it all MUST happen if Britain, the nation and culture, is to live to see another day. Similar to how after the actual evacuation of Dunkirk the Brits, my Scottish grandmother and her children among them, had to suffer through the blitz by seeking refuge in tube stations as the German bombardment raged overhead, so it will be with post-Brexit Britain. As the world order tumbles, and the EU crumbles, Britain will have to hunker down in order to avoid and survive the external onslaught.  

THE OLD ORDER IS DEAD

The U.S. global empire is over. Neo-liberalism is dead. China and Russia are potentially ascendant because they will be able to withstand hardships and instability much better than their counter-parts in the west due to their more recent experience with calamity and their less diverse make-up. Having a more homogeneous population will make for less ethnic competition and confrontation as resources dwindle and power consolidates especially in cultures that are not born of a melting pot. Also to the Sino-Russian advantage, is that they are beginning to work much more closely together in regards to their economies, resources and militaries in order to ascend to power and eclipse the fading star that is U.S. global hegemony. 

From the rubble of neo-liberalism and the old world order, post-Brexit Britain will have a chance to rise from the ashes and will benefit from having a head start on most of the rest of the Europe. "Dunkirk" will be the first step in Britain's grand Brexit maneuver. First comes consolidation (Dunkirk), then comes resilience and localization (the Blitz), then comes intelligent re-ordering of priorities and the world order.

In world war two, Britain allied with the hated Soviets in order to defeat Nazism. And regardless of what you've been taught in school, it was the Soviets who defeated Hitler, not the British and Americans. And so it will be in post-Brexit and "Blitz" Britain, where the Brits will realize that the U.S. has become a global albatross around their necks, and that Russia and China and others are the most rational choice for allies and very limited partnerships, regardless of their obvious flaws.

THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT

Look, I understand that these thoughts will be unpopular and deemed unpleasant at best. I am not endorsing this inevitable trajectory, only acknowledging it. The writing is on the wall and to ignore it would not only be the height of folly but perilous. Understanding where the collective unconscious is leading humanity is vital in order to prepare for and respond to the black swan events that sneak up on us but are all too obvious in hindsight. My Isaiah Wave Theory®© shows that film, in conjunction with other social/economic/historical/political trends, can be a very critical element in getting a glimpse into the collective unconscious to see what lies ahead for us. Just like 2016 when the story lines, color schemes and visuals of Captain America: Civil WarBatman v. Superman: Dawn of JusticeX-Men: Apocalypse, Rogue One and even La La Land  were telling us of the disastrous clash awaiting us later in the year (2015 films The Revenant, The Martian, The Hateful Eight, Avengers : Age of Ultron and Star Wars : A Force Awakens portended the same exact thing), so it is with Dunkirk, War for the Planet of the Apes, Logan and Wonder Woman this year. As the Game of Thrones has been telling us over the last few years, "Winter is Coming"…well...I have bad news for you, "Winter is Here". Or more accurately, "The Long, Cold Winter of our Discontent has just Begun".

THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD

There has been a lot of talk about how the Brexit vote and Trump's victory in America are actually outliers, and that the right-wing or the alt-right trends are receding worldwide. People often point to Geert Wilders defeat in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen's loss to Macron in France's last election as proof of this fact. There are many things wrong about not only that interpretation of those election results but the premise of an alt-right ascendancy or decline.

Let's start with the former. What is really happening now with Trump and Brexit as examples, is not an alt-right/right wing rise, but rather the collapse of the center and the establishment. Yeats, as a million writers (myself included) remind us ad nauseum, tells us that "the center cannot hold", and that is where we are now. This is why it is so vital for the democrats to jettison the centrist, neo-liberal, "Clinton-way" and embrace a far left economic ideology. Many democrats keep telling me that to defeat Trump they must position themselves as the centrist and "rational" party. I understand the sentiment as Trump seems so outrageous that by going to the center democrats believe they will flourish. This could not be further from the truth. A leftist, not liberal, but leftist, economic agenda is the only thing that will defeat Trumpism. More of the same Wall Street corporate ass kissing will be punished by voters because the establishment, media included, is in a credibility death spiral. Trump won by out flanking democrats to their left economically, democrats simply must go further out on the flank to defeat him and the republicans next time. And it is important to note that what is vital is a leftist economic message, not a culturally liberal message. A culturally liberal agenda with its accompanying substance-free identity politics will be doomed to fail and will scuttle the entire progressive ship right along with it. 

Jeremy Corbyn's powerful rise in the last British snap election, despite constant attacks on him by the media and the Blairites in his own party, is proof of the current vitality of this old school leftist ideology. Labour's showing in that election was stunning, but not for those who can properly read the tea leaves. I saw it coming just as I saw Trump's victory coming, and could not understand how others didn't see it coming. 

There are democrats who have poo-pooed Corbyn and Labour's stunning election showing by saying, "they didn't actually win". This is myopic analysis at best. Corbyn is actually better positioned now because he didn't win and become Prime Minister. He can sit back and prepare for his ascent to 10 Downing Street while Theresa May is on the hook for all of the failures of her makeshift coalition government. Corbyn is a shadow Prime Minister, which means power with no responsibility…in other words, the catbird seat. And of those establishmentarians diminishing Corbyn's election results, imagine if the entire mainstream media and a good number of his own party hadn't attacked him relentlessly and mercilessly at every turn…he and Labour might actually have won outright.

As for the election in the Netherlands and Geet Wilders, people terribly misread that result in regard to a wider trend. Wilders is a one man gang and it was impossible for him to actually ascend to power. What he was able to do though is push the center right party out towards him at the far right, as they fully embraced his stances on immigration, for example, and won the election. This was an electoral loss for Wilders, but a resounding ideological victory

APRES MACRON - LE DELUGE

As for France, democrats and the establishment media in America have been touting Macron as the second coming who will save centrism and neo-liberalism from the populist hordes. Guess again. This is just another mis-reading of the trend. All of the mainstream, traditional parties in France were decimated and didn't even make it to the final round of the presidential election. Macron ran and won as an outsider (even though he is a consummate insider). His victory over Le Pen  and the more baser instincts of the populace, will only be temporary as he is not only terribly ill-equipped to deal with the existential threats to France, he is completely blind to them. He, like Trump, is wrapping the same old turd in a different type of bread, but it will still taste like a shit sandwich once everyone has to take a bite of it. 

Macron will fail in France because the ground he stands on is quicksand. There will be more terror attacks which will stoke the fires of ethnic nationalism even further. At some point, probably after a particularly nasty attack and/or an economic earthquake, people will say enough, and it won't matter what your passport says, the French will brutally evict or restrict anyone who doesn't look "traditionally French". Many think this is an impossibility and tell me so. This makes me laugh as France and a whole bunch of other European countries have, in living memory, been ruthlessly efficient in removing a population they deem troublesome. If you don't think it can happen again, you are fooling yourself.

ONCE MORE UPON THE BREACH, DEAR FRIENDS, ONCE MORE; OR CLOSE THE WALL UP WITH OUR ENGLISH DEAD!

The same will happen in Britain. Citizenship will not matter as much as tribalism once the heat of civilizational clash and economic instability rises to an unbearable level. Just this year England has suffered through multiple terror attacks that are like logs on a camels back. At some point, the camels back will shatter and the Islamists will get the blowback they want, but it won't go quite as well as they expect. In a clash of civilizations, always bet on the home team…in the middle east bet the Islamists, in Europe/UK bet the natives. Britain will probably recede back into England, with Northern Ireland, Scotland and maybe even Wales being jettisoned to independence in order for the English to survive the coming storm. 

Unlike America, all of these European countries are not built upon a culture of immigration. The English, French and German cultures (not nations) are thousands of years old. Those countries were built upon their cultures, and are now trying to transform into multi-cultural utopias that at their core they simply are not. These countries immigration issues stem from the evils of colonialism, and are in many ways are due punishment for those sins. But that doesn't mean the native culture will embrace change so easily or willingly. That is what is bubbling up from the collective unconscious in Europe and America right now, resistance to the other and a yearning for the tribally traditional and familiar.

THE #WOKE ARE #SOUNDASLEEP

The coming "winter" will bring with it a desolation that can be transformative, but only by those insightful enough to recognize it as an opportunity and not a catastrophe. This is why I find it so frustrating watching the democrats try and "resist" Trump with their nonsensical #staywoke idiocy and "A Better Deal" bullshit. The democrats I know are so desperate to hold onto the ideological corpse of neo-liberalism and American capitalism that their politics resembles little more than a stale Weekend at Bernie's sequel. These allegedly liberal democrats have fully embraced our nefarious intelligence community, neo-conservatives and their foreign policy, and unabashed corporatism while they cry racism, misogyny and xenophobia to anyone who points out their political hypocrisy and intellectual vacuity and vapidity. These dupes and dopes have absolutely no clue for what they fighting. Are they even aware that by protesting FOR Obamacare they are protesting for a right-wing, republican health care plan that is a corporate handout and are insuring that universal coverage/single-payer will never happen? And are these same fools even remotely aware that they are substantially diminishing the impact of the once devastating words racist, misogynist and xenophobe every single time they utter them. They use those words like Americans use antibiotics, as a first option, too frequently and when it is entirely unnecessary and inappropriate, and just like with antibiotics, overuse of those words greatly diminishes their potency.

You cannot "resist" Trump and Trumpism with Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. If you do you will fail. You cannot have the neo-liberal, corporate, holy trinity of Wall Street whores, Hillary, Nancy and Chuck roll out the "Better Deal" and have anyone take them seriously. The longer they are the face of the democratic party, the deeper the hole of credibility gets…so deep it might just be a grave. But try telling that to members of the Clinton cult and watch them shriek and scream with emotionalist abandon. This sorry group of people are so ill-prepared to do battle and succeed they should have "Born to Lose" tattooed across their chests.

OUR LAST, BEST HOPE

In contrast, Sanders and Corbyn are certainly not perfect, but they are exactly the way to counter the decomposing old order, even though they themselves are as old as dirt. Just like the billionaire plutocrat Trump was able to win as a populist, so can these two old timers win as a new wave of populist. Austerity has failed, not just in America but across the globe. "American capitalism" has failed. Imperialism has failed. You cannot try and prop them back up or re-inflate the bubble just one more time. An alternative solution must be presented, and when it is, if it is genuine, people will embrace it. Sanders and Corbyn are some of the alternate solutions, and they can fill the vacuum left by the collapsing center. But know this, if leftists do not fill that leadership void created in the wake of the disintegrating center, than a far right demagogue will. Trump did it this time but he is an ineffective fool. But next time, what if we get a ruthlessly effective and disciplined right wing demagogue…which in the post-Trump era is a very distinct and frightening possibility. This is why democrats and the Clinton cult better really "get woke", forget the luxury of culturally liberal politics and get on the economically progressive agenda or they will find themselves exiled to the wilderness at best, or blindfolded  and against the wall at worst . 

The cycle of history we are on is a perilous one, and it is fraught with many many dangers. The world will look considerably different in ten years than it does now, and it won't be because of technology, but rather ideology and economic seismology. The neo-liberal ideology is proven fraudulent and the coming economic/political seismological event that buries it forever will re-shape the world in ways which we can either shape to our benefit, or to our destruction. The first step is, with clear eyes and full heart, seeing and understanding what is happening and what is coming, and then strategically and tactically preparing for it so that what comes next is much better than what is left behind.

Ladies and gentlemen…thank you for enduring my post-Dunkirk rant. Maybe I was just shell-shocked by the film or maybe I am just a full-time maniac, or maybe, just maybe, I am on to something. Who knows? If I am wrong, it sure wouldn't be the first time…and if I am right, it wouldn't be the first time either. Only time will tell...don't forget to place your bets…and please tip the doorman on your way into the bunker.

©2017