I try my hand at writing an Oscar Winner

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So, the Oscars were last night. Moonlight took home Best Picture, and it was inspirational and emotional and all that jazz. That’s all well and good, but it’s time to look ahead, and the 2018 Best Picture race is wide open. Well, I think it’s time I throw my hat in the ring. To give myself the greatest chance to win and Oscar (because that’s all that matters), I’ve studied previous winners and found some common plot points and themes that many share. Let’s see, the Academy usually gravitates towards unfortunate people. Mob movies typically do well. Musicals always have a shot. A tragic fall can help. I’m on the phone with Jennifer Hudson to get a powerhouse original song. Hmmm, I think I’ve got something here. Because I appreciate you, I’ll reveal some here to get the buzz going. So, I present a few select scenes from the upcoming film Carmine’s. I’ve already started writing my acceptance speech, and I’ll be sure to mention each and every one of you*.

(*I’m only going to thank myself for coming up with such a good idea).

 

CARMINE’S

Written by

Brian

EXT. CITY STREET-NIGHT

CHRIS and HEATHER are walking on the sidewalk, looking for a place to eat. They’ve been searching for a while now, and tensions are running high. A dimly lit Italian restaurant is on the horizon.

CHRIS

Alright, you’ve shot down the last five places we’ve walked by. So either you pick a place or we’re going to KFC.

HEATHER

Alright, sassy, jeez. Well if you want to eat so bad, let’s just go there.

CHRIS

Carmine’s? Seriously?

HEATHER

So I’m the one being picky? What’s the problem? It looks nice and cozy.

CHRIS

That’s because no one’s inside. No one’s ever been inside. That place has been open for like, 20 years and never had one customer.

HEATHER

Well, there must be a reason they’ve been open 20 years. I’m tired of walking around, so I’m going to eat there.

CHRIS

(rolls eyes) Fine. I’ll join you. We better get a free meal for being the first customers.

FADE OUT

MAIN TITLE SEQUENCE

EXT. SUBURB STREET-DAY

Pan downwards on a two story colonial as Smash Mouth’s “Story of my Life” plays. Sprinklers are going off as paperboy throws newspaper at house.

Cut to kitchen table. MARCO, a late 20s/early 30s Italian American, is glumly eating cereal. VALENTINA, his mother, is busily cleaning the kitchen.

VALENTINA

Marco, look at the time! You’ll be late for work!

MARCO

Mom, I got laid off. Again.

VALENTINA

(stops what she’s doing) From Waste Management?

MARCO

Mom, I haven’t worked for Waste Management in two years. I was at the hospital, remember?

VALENTINA

Oh, I’m sorry sweetheart. How many times is this, now?

MARCO

(mumbling) Five in the last five years.

VALENTINA

You’ve just had some bad luck is all. You know, this is why I say–

MARCO

I should have finished college, I know. It’s hard to finish when you get kicked out because someone with the same name got caught in a plagiarism scandal and the school expels you by accident.

VALENTINA

You could have gone somewhere else–

MARCO looks at his mother with sad eyes, and she gets the hint to back off

VALENTINA

Why don’t I ask your Uncle Dino if he can get you a job? You know he’s got the shipping company. And soft drink distribution company. And that restaurant–

MARCO

Please don’t. I don’t want to work for Uncle Dino. You know I hate being around him.

VALENTINA

You just hate all his body guards, is all. Here, I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll ask your Uncle Dino. You go out and look for a job. And we’ll see who gets one first.

MARCO

But–

VALENTINA

Listen, Marco, you know I love you with all my heart. But you’ve been living at home for a while now. Say what you will about him, but Dino knows how to be successful. I think you might learn something from him. Who knows, you make a little bit of money, too.

MARCO sighs and accepts his fate.

.

.

.

INT. CARMINE’S RESTAURANT-DAY

MARCO walks into an empty restaurant. DINO and three GOONS are sitting at a table near the kitchen doors in the back.

DINO

Marco, my boy, so good to see you!

DINO gets up to meet MARCO. DINO hugs an uncomfortable MARCO and gives him a kiss on the cheek.

DINO

Sit down, sit down. Anything I can get you? Food? Drink? I know you like the pasta fagioli.

MARCO

(sitting) No, thanks. I ate on the way over.

DINO

Nonsense. Paul, get him some soup.

MARCO

Oh, okay–

One of the GOONS goes to the kitchen.

DINO

I’m glad you came, Marco. Your mother told me you’ve been down on your luck lately.

MARCO

I’m just kind of…in between jobs right now.

DINO

Either way, it’s good you came to me. You’re my blood, and it’s time I start looking out for you. I didn’t think you had any interest in joining the family business, though.

MARCO

Yeah, I never really wanted to work at a restaurant before…

PAUL puts bowl of soup in front of MARCO

DINO

(looking sideways at GOONS) Err, right… Good news is, you won’t be busing tables or any of that nonsense. I want you to be the new manager of Carmine’s.

MARCO

(stunned) Did you say manager? But-but I don’t have any experience–

DINO

Ahh, this place practically runs itself, don’t worry. Listen, our family’s run this restaurant for as long as it’s been here. I’ve got a lot on my plate, and I am getting older. I think it’s time someone else takes over the place.

MARCO

Obviously I appreciate this, but I wouldn’t even know where to start. I can hardly do my own taxes, how am I going to run a restaurant?

DINO

You won’t be alone, Marco. Alfonso is still here to run the books. I’ll have my guys write up some instructions on the do’s and don’ts. You’ll be fine.

MARCO

If you really trust me to do it. I mean, Carmine’s has been around a while…

DINO

Marco, it’s an easy job. You sign a few papers, you talk to some guests, you take home a check. I think you’ll find this to be a very low-stress environment.

MARCO

I don’t want to mess up, though. I mean, I hardly see anyone in here anymore. How can I get business back up? What if we have to close?

DINO

(laughing) Marco, don’t you worry about that. Business is fine just the way it is, and as long as I’m around, this place’ll never shut down.

.

.

.

INT. CARMINE’S-NIGHT

MARCO has been on the job for a little over a week, and he’s starting to get the hang of it. Every night the same three or four regulars come in. Tonight, he’s making his rounds and comes to LUKA, an intimidating mob-boss looking older guy.

LUKA

Marco, how are you?

MARCO

(shaking hands) I’m doing well, Luka, how about yourself?

LUKA

I can’t complain. It was good of your uncle to give you Carmine’s. He’s a good man, your uncle.

MARCO

Oh, I know. I’m very grateful.

LUKA

So, how’re you liking it so far?

MARCO

I gotta tell you, it’s easier than I expected. I’m worried about the bottom line, though. We get deliveries all day long, and we only get a few customers a day.

LUKA

(chokes on his meal a little) I wouldn’t worry too much about those shipments, Marco. I’m sure Alfonso’s got them covered. And there’s something to be said for creating a family–

The door opens and two mid 20s WOMEN come inside. The REGULARS look immediately uncomfortable with the new faces. MARCO, on the other hand, is excited

MARCO

(walking over to greet them) Welcome to Carmine’s! Table for two?

WOMAN #1

Yes, please.

WOMAN #2

We’ve been looking forward to coming here all week. Our friend Heather told us about this place and we can’t wait to try it!

MARCO

Well, we’re thrilled to have you. Here, right this way.

CUT TO: Success montage. Word of mouth and Yelp reviews spread like wildfire as Carmine’s exploded in popularity. The dining room is full every night and, soon enough, there’s a waiting list to get in. It’s place to go to be seen. The REGULARS still get their usual tables, but don’t like the added attention one bit. Newspapers and local TV interview MARCO, who stays humble but still accepts all the credit for the newfound success.

.

.

.

INT. DIMLY LIT ROOM-NIGHT

DINO, LUKA, and many other high-ranking MAFIOSOS are sitting around a table. A few bottles of scotch are being passed around and at least half of them are smoking cigars.

LUKA

Dino, what are we gonna do about this? We can’t have this many people at Carmine’s! The TV station was there the other day, for crying out loud! What if they start poking around?

DINO

I understand your concern, but there’s really no need to worry yet. We’ve got plenty of time before we need to make any kind of move.

MAFIOSO #1

That nephew of yours is going to bring down the entire operation! Doesn’t he know what we’ve got stored in there?

DINO

No, he doesn’t. My sister asked me not to get him involved with our real business.

MAFIOSO #2

Then why is he running Carmine’s?!?!

MAFIOSO #3

Should I send my guys after him?

DINO

(defensive) Listen, the kid’s a screw up, alright! He’s a good kid but a screw up. I thought it’d be an easy thing for him to do. How was I supposed to know he’d do something good for once?

DINO’S goon PAUL runs into the room.

PAUL

Apologies, sirs, but we may have a problem. The boys from the 83rd Precinct just pulled up to Carmine’s for dinner. I can’t be certain, but Officer Smith almost always brings his dog with him everywhere he goes.

All eyes turn to DINO. LUKA slams his fist on the table.

LUKA

(growling) Dino you’d better find a solution to this right fuc–

DINO

It’s okay, Luka. (sighs) I don’t think he realizes it, but he’s the legal owner of Carmine’s. His dearly departed father was the original owner, and when he passed, his will gave Carmine’s to Marco. I never changed it because I figured it’d be a good out to have. Now that he’s officially both the manager and owner, he’ll take the fall. It pains me to throw the boy under the bus, but we should be able to skate by on this.

MAFIOSO #1

What about all the money we’ll lose?

DINO

We’ll make it back. Besides, this might be a good thing. It was always foolish to have such an important part of the operation be in a place where this could happen. We’ll come out of this fine in the long run.

.

.

.

INT. HOLDING CELL-DAY

MARCO and his LAWYER are sitting in a holding cell at the 83rd Precinct. Officer Smith did, in fact, bring his drug sniffing dog with him, and he started barking the second they pulled up. Thirty minutes later, the police had found the multiple tons of cocaine in Carmine’s kitchen and apprehended MARCO. The trial moved quickly.

LAWYER

It’s not looking good, Marco. I can’t get you out of prison time–

MARCO

How can this happen? I had no idea what was going on! Why don’t they believe me?

LAWYER

Well, it’s tough when you’ve been the legal owner for a few years, now. And they’ll never believe you didn’t know anything.

MARCO

But I didn’t! I knew Uncle Dino had some shady business, but I didn’t think it was a massive drug front. I can’t believe he’d sell me out like this.

LAWYER

I mean, he is a mob boss. Did you think he’d take the fall for you or something?

MARCO

I don’t know. I just can’t believe this is happening.

LAWYER

Well, as I was saying, I can’t save you from prison, but I might be able to get you to a white collar prison upstate. But you’ll have to start off in a real prison. I was able to save you from maximum security, at least.

MARCO

Gee, thanks. God, I’ve got to be the most unlucky guy of all time.

.

.

.

INT. PRISON CAFETIERIA-DAY

It’s MARCO’S first day in jail, and he just got first first tray of food. He finds an empty table and sits down. Across the room, BIG ED and his BOYS are watching intently. When MARCO is almost done eating, BIG ED approaches with a couple BOYS.

BIG ED

(sitting down across from MARCO) Haven’t seen you here before.

MARCO

Yeah, it’s my first day.

BIG ED

Ha! Some fresh meat, then! So what’d you do?

MARCO

I got framed for my uncle’s drug running operation.

BIG ED

Framed, eh? Well, we were all framed, too. Right boys?

BOYS all boisterously agree.

BIG ED

I can tell you’re a little lost. I’d be happy to take you under my wing and show you the ropes. Even offer you protection from some of the more…aggressive inmates.

MARCO

Really? What’s the catch?

BIG ED gives BOY #1 a nod. BOY #1 picks up some utensils and starts hitting them against the table to the tune of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.”

BIG ED

(singing) The club isn’t the best place to find a lover
So the bar is where I go
Me and my friends at the table doing shots
Drinking fast and then we talk slow

BOYS

Mmmm

BIG ED

(singing) You come over and start up a conversation with just me
And trust me I’ll give it a chance now
Take my hand, stop
Put Van The Man on the jukebox
And then we start to dance
And now I’m singing like

Boy, you know I want your love
Your love was handmade for somebody like me
Come on now, follow my lead
I may be crazy, don’t mind me
Say, boy, let’s not talk too much
Grab on my waist and put that body on me
Come on now, follow my lead
Come, come on now, follow my lead

BOYS

Mmmm

BIG ED

(singing) I’m in love with the shape of you
We push and pull like a magnet do
Although my heart is falling too
I’m in love with your body
And last night you were in my room
And now my bedsheets smell like you
Every day discovering something brand new
I’m in love with your body

BOYS

(singing) Oh I oh I oh I oh I

BIG ED

(singing) I’m in love with your body

BOYS

(singing) Oh I oh I oh I oh I

BIG ED

(singing) I’m in love with your body

BOYS and MARCO

(singing) Oh I oh I oh I oh I

BIG ED

(singing) I’m in love with your body
Every day discovering something brand new
I’m in love with the shape of you

That’s all I’ll give you for now. I haven’t quite worked out the ending yet, but it’s gonna be big. The studios are all lining up to get the rights, and Joe Pesci agreed to be in it in some way the second I said the word mob. Oscars 2018, here I come!

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MLB Preview: NL West

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Back for round 2 of the Brian’s Den MLB preview, this time taking a look at the National League West. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Traditional logic would dictate that the second division I break down would be either the AL Central or NL East. Well, I don’t really care about conventional logic. I’m going to talk about the divisions in the order I want. So, sorry AL Central, but I’m going to delay talking about you for as long as humanly possible. Here’s my AL East preview if you need a refresher. All projected win totals taken from Atlantis Casino Resort.

Los Angeles Dodgers

512px-los_angeles_dodgers_logo-svgThe Dodgers have probably been the most consistent team in the league the last few years, winning over 90 games every season since 2013. I don’t really see that changing this year. After staying afloat during an extended absence from the best pitcher in the game, the Dodgers bring back every important member of one of the best pitching staffs in the game. Last season they lead the league in strikeouts per 9, strikeout percentage, strikeout-to-walk percentage, and finished third in fielding independent pitching +. This year they’ll (hopefully) get a full season out of Kershaw, a full season out of midseason acquisition Rich Hill, and a full season from top prospect Julio Urias, who looks to build on a very good second half of the season. They had a top 10 defense last season, as well, another staple of the Dodgers’ recent run of success.

It’s their mediocre offense that’s kept them from becoming a truly great team. They finished in the middle of the pack in pretty every statistic. They don’t do anything particularly well or poorly. They could improve this year, though, if Rookie of the Year and budding superstar Corey Seager takes another step forward. Just 22, he had the 5th highest WAR in the National League last season and finished 3rd in MVP voting. He has the ability to cover up the limitations in the rest of the lineup, and if one of my favorite players Joc Pederson can continue to add consistency and power, the Dodgers should rack up the wins again this year.

Over/Under 91.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Resigning Rich Hill and Justin Turner

Burning Question: Now that famed baseball mind Magic Johnson is making all the key decisions for both the Dodgers and Lakers, how long until Kobe takes over as Dodgers manager?

Bold Prediction: This year, Clayton Kershaw’s postseason ERA will only be 4.50

San Francisco Giants

300px-san_francisco_giants_logo-svgLast year’s Giants team was just so…Giants. A bunch of no names who aren’t great at anything, but there they were in the playoffs. Like the Dodgers, they rode their excellent starting pitching and defense (which was second only to the Cubs in ultimate zone rating). Unlike the Dodgers, they had a nearly disastrous second-half collapse spearheaded by their abomination of a bullpen that lead the league in blown saves. Signing free agent closer Mark Melancon was one of the better offseason moves, and he should add much needed stability to last season’s comically unstable late game pitching.

The rest of the roster is all typical Giants. The stars (Bumgarner, Cueto, Posey, Pence, Crawford, Belt) will do what they do every year. There’s almost no point talking about the rest of the lineup, since whoever they put out there on Opening Day is probably gonna be completely different come September, with random bench guys and unheralded rookies becoming key contributors. They’ll win between 86-90 games, finish in the bottom half in runs scored, and finish near the top of the league in fewest runs allowed. I’ve figured out the football and baseball Giants, and they’ll have the exact same season every year until Bruce Boche retires.

Over/Under 87.5: Under (barely)

Key Offseason Move: Signing Mark Melancon

Burning Question: If the Giants win another championship will anyone really care?

Bold Prediction: They’ll make the playoffs and everyone will get scared of them then they’ll lose in the NLDS.

Colorado Rockies

201px-colorado_rockies_logo-svgI don’t know why, but I’ve always been in love with the Rockies. Maybe it’s their beautiful stadium (Stadium power ranking: 1. Wrigley Field 2. Fenway Park 3. Camden Yards 4. Coors Field 5. PNC Park) that I’ve dreamed of going to since the first time I heard the name. Maybe it’s the fact that they always have high-octane, powerful offenses that mash home runs and rip doubles all day long. Maybe it’s the fact that they always give up just as many homers and doubles as they hit, keeping every game high scoring and exciting. Maybe it’s because my favorite color is purple and I love their jerseys. Maybe it’s because the best Little League team in my district was the Rockies, and it drove me crazy that I was never on the roster, despite the fact that I lived in the same town and was always the best player on my team (I peaked athletically earlier than most) and it became my obsession (No, I’m not bitter, why do you ask?). No matter the reason, the Rockies have long been my favorite non-Red Sox team, and I try and watch them as often as possible. I almost always try to wind up on the Rockies in my MLB The Show careers, too. But does any of that make them a good team? Maybe?

As you would expect, this was the most prolific offense in the National League last season, leading the Senior Circuit in runs scored. They even added Ian Desmond and will get rookie sensation Trevor Story back from injury. Here’s where you say “but they’re just a product of Coors Field.” That may be true. After all, they scored about 150 more runs at home than on the road. But last time I checked, they still get to play 81 games at home, so what does it really matter? They’re going to score a million runs at home again this year, and new manager Bud Black getting them playing better on the road might lead to some true Rocky Mountain Highs, especially since their pitching isn’t as bad as you think.

They finished with the third worst team ERA in the league, but, just like the offense, that’s largely a product of the stadium they play in. They had the 15th best road ERA in the majors, and had a league average overall ERA+, which takes the Coors Effect into account. The bullpen was bad, but if new addition Greg Holland can get back to his 2014 form, or close to it, it should improve. If their crappy defense gets a little better and they can take the Coors fireworks on the road, the Banquet Beer could flow in celebration.

Over/Under 79.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Signing Ian Desmond

Burning Question: With Coors Field so close to noted secret society hotspot Denver International Airport, why haven’t steps been taken to ensure the Rockies success?

Bold Prediction: They’ll win the Wild Card game, then…who knows?

Arizona Diamondbacks

156px-arizona_diamondbacks_logo-svgDbacks were complete trash last year. Much like the Padres from two years ago and the Marlins from a few years before that, their get-rich-quick scheme didn’t work. At all. But is there any hope for this year? There’s a glimmer. Bringing in a new manager in Torey Lovullo can always raise a team’s spirits. Getting AJ Pollock back from injury is huge, especially if he can perform like he did in 2015 when he was a legitimate MVP candidate. They traded for pitcher Taijuan Walker, who has shown flashes of his true ability but hasn’t been able to put it all together. Still, he’s only 24. They also can’t possibly be as bad as they were last year. Judging by ERA+, this was the worst pitching staff in the league. Judging by ultimate zone rating this was the second worst defense in the National League. They did score the 10th most runs in the league, though. This lineup has some talent. Paul Goldschmidt is still a stud. Yasmany Tomas and Jake Lamb have 30 home run power. Zack Greinke probably won’t have his worst career season again. Shelby Miller can’t really be that bad, can he? They signed Fernando Rodney, which reeks of desperation. They tweaked their jerseys after last year, but I was in the minority that liked the bold new design. Might be some bad karma. Still, I think they’ll be better this year. Not too much better, though.

Over/Under 78.5 Wins: Under

Key Offseason Move: Trading for Taijuan Walker

Burning Question: Why hasn’t Luis Gonzalez introduced the team to his steroid guy yet?

Bold Prediction: Fernando Rodney brings a live snake into the bullpen as a prank and it winds up biting someone

San Diego Padres

278px-sdpadres_logo-svgPadres suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. They’re so boring and irrelevant. They’re almost not even worth talking about. I mean, go look at their roster. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Recognize more than five names? I didn’t. Jhoulys Chacin is their number one starter, for crying out loud! Their projected starting outfield is Travis Jankowski, Manuel Margot, and Hunter Renfroe (not the football player). None of those names are made up. Their manager is Andy Green, the most boring name of all time. And, to complete their total dedication to being the most boring team in all of pro sports, they went back to their strictly navy and white jerseys and ditched the navy and yellow jerseys that looked awfully sharp. I don’t even think bringing back the brown and yellow jerseys would get me to care about this team. Every night I weep for Don Orsillo.

Over/Under 64.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Not moving to Los Angeles

Burning Question: How can the Padres’ front office live with themselves knowing what they’re forcing Don Orsillo to watch? And how can Red Sox ownership live with themselves knowing what they did to him? Why am I not listening to Don and Jerry every night anymore?

Bold Prediction: They will play in 162 baseball games in 2017

2017 Oscar Predictions

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

The Oscars. The ultimate night of glitz and glamor. The biggest gathering of established Hollywood elites and breakout stars you can find. For a true cinematic savant like myself, watching the Academy Awards is always a highlight of the year, despite how boring the show usually is and how often they get it wrong. Still, I’ll always love the Oscars, because I know it’s only a matter of when, not if, I’m invited (right now I’m aiming for a Best Supporting Actor nomination for my performance in Expendables 4).

As always, you’ve come to the right place for all things prescient. I’ve got a firm grasp on this year’s Oscars, and have decided to share my omniscience with all of you. Feel free to use these picks to make some money, impress at this year’s Oscars viewing party that I know you’re going to, or just to make yourself feel smarter. Now, have I “seen” all these movies? That’s up for debate. But, my silver screen bona fides are not. So, let’s go through every single category and predict the winner. To get you in the mood, here’s the best original song to never win an Oscar.

RIP Paul Walker

Best Supporting Actor

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Dev Patel, Lion (Isn’t the whole movie about him? How is he supporting?)

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight (WINNER)- Yeah, I’ll admit I didn’t see Moonlight. In fact, the only movie out of all of these I saw was Manchester. But I know he’s gonna win. Trust me, I’m an expert.

Best Supporting Actress

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Viola Davis, Fences (WINNER)- Pretty stacked category here. Powerhouse performances all around. You could probably flip a coin between Viola and Naomi Harris. I will neither confirm nor deny that’s how I made my choice. Still, she’s deserving, and you’ll probably be seeing the 18 years scene in every acting montage from now on.

Naomi Harris, Moonlight

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Best Cinematography

La La Land

Lion

Silence

Arrival (WINNER)- I kind of just want Arrival to get some love, because that movie was awesome and I don’t want La La Land to win everything (even though I liked it). Pretty much every scene in the space ship was shot perfectly.

Moonlight

Best Animated Feature

My Life as a Zucchini

Moana

Zootopia

The Red Turtle

Kubo and the Two Strings (WINNER)- Kubo was awesome. Almost gave it to Red Turtle, but couldn’t do it.

Best Costume Design

Allied

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Florence Foster Jenkins

Jackie (WINNER)- Let’s go with this.

La La Land

Best Makeup

A Man Called Ove

Star Trek Beyond (WINNER) All I know is that I’m not giving anything to Suicide Squad.

Suicide Squad

Production Design

Passengers

La La Land (WINNER)- I can only deny the fact that La La Land is going to win every award for so long. The sets were excellent, though.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arrival

Hail, Caesar!

Best Adapted Screenplay

Eric Heisserer, Arrival

August Wilson, Fences

Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures

Luke Davies, Lion

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (WINNER)- Been a while since there’s been a good movie with crack as a main plot point. I’m thinking the Academy shares my nostalgia.

Best Original Screenplay

Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou, The Lobster (WINNER)- Most underrated movie of the year. Colin Farrell was snubbed in Best Actor and the movie itself was snubbed in Best Picture. This doesn’t totally make up for it, but it’s a start.

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Mike Mills, 20th Century Women

Best Documentary (Short Subject)

Extremis

4.1 Miles

Joe’s Violin

Watani: My Homeland (WINNER)- This has to be some kind of refugee story. That’s a surefire victory.

The White Helmets

Best Documentary (Feature)

Fire at Sea

Life, Animated

O.J.: Made in America (What is the audience that’s still clamoring for more O.J. material? Pretty much every year there’s a new book or a new show or something about him. Why? Whose O.J. appetite isn’t yet sated? What possible new information is out there? I’m pretty sure I can give an accurate and in-depth play-by-play of the trial at this point, and I never watch any of this things.)

13th

I Am Not Your Negro (WINNER)- Shocking titles are always in good shape to win. I’ll be worried if Life, Animated turns out to be a Holocaust movie, though.

Best Film Editing

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

La La Land (WINNER)- I honestly have no real clue how to judge editing anymore. Pretty much every cut and transition is perfect nowadays. Considering how important it is, I just judge it by what I thought the best movie I saw was.

Moonlight

Best Foreign Film

Land of Mine, Denmark

A Man Called Ove, Sweden

Toni Erdmann, Germany

The Salesman, Iran

Tanna, Australia (WINNER)- The poster for this looks like it could be about some Aborigines. If it’s not, this could easily become my worst pick.

Best Original Score

Jackie

La La Land (WINNER)- I wish Arrival got nominated, but since it didn’t, figured I’d give the best music award to the musical.

Moonlight

Passengers (This piece of shit got two nominations?)

Lion

Best Original Song

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land

“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls (God, I want to pick this so bad. Need Timberlake/Trolls to win an Oscar)

“City of Stars,” La La Land (WINNER)- Probably the safest call of all.

“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story (Is this a real movie?)

“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

Best Sound Editing

Arrival (WINNER)- Sure.

Deepwater Horizon

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Sully

Best Sound Mixing

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (WINNER)- Why not?

Best Visual Effects

Deepwater Horizon

Doctor Strange (WINNER)- Legit some of the craziest, trippiest, and best effects ever.

The Jungle Book

Kubo and the Two Strings

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Best Animated Short Film

Blind Vaysha

Borrowed Time

Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Pearl

Piper (WINNER)- Hey, I’ve actually seen one of these! As usual, Pixar delivers the goods.

Best Live Action Short Film

Ennemis Intérieurs

La Femme et la TGV

Silent Nights (WINNER)- ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Sing (Not starring Matthew McConaughey)

Timecode

Best Director

Denis Villenueve, Arrival

Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Damien Chazelle, La La Land (WINNER)- No better way to pad your Oscar stats than by making a good movie about the Magic of Hollywood.

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Actress

Ruth Negga, Loving

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins (I’m so goddamn sick of Meryl Streep)

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land (WINNER)- I’ve heard Natalie Portman was excellent in Jackie (I wouldn’t know), but I’ll take Emma Stone, and not just because it’s the only movie of these I’ve seen. I always give out points for singing, and quality singing gets super bonus points. Add that to good acting and you’ve got yourself an Oscar winner, folks.

Best Actor

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge (I don’t really have a concrete reason, but I’ve deeply despised Andrew Garfield since the second I saw him. He just seems like such a pussy hipster douche. If I could have a real life feud with anybody, it’d be him. I’m not condoning bullying, but I wish I could bully Andrew Garfield.)

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Denzel Washington, Fences

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic (WINNER)- I’ve been #teamAffleck for as long as I can remember, but I will ride or die with Viggo. I’ve seen the Lord of the Rings movies about 1,000 times each, and Viggo gets the adrenaline pumping every time. Wouldn’t have minded if he put some of sword skills to use in this movie, since most of the kids were pretty annoying. Plus, my #teamAffleck membership is mostly for Ben, because Casey is a weirdo vegan hippy. Denzel could easily win, too.

Best Picture

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

Fences

Moonlight

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

La La Land (WINNER)- Personally, I though Manchester was better. But, the Brian’s Den is totally unbiased, and cold, hard reality takes precedence over my own desires. La La Land is winning, whether you like it or not (I’m a sucker for musicals, so I loved it). Don’t rule out a surprise John Wick 2 win.

NBA Trade Deadline Wrap-up

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As usual, today’s NBA Trade Deadline was such a flurry of activity that I’m left panting and gasping for breath after a long day of NBA action. It’s safe to say the balance of power in the NBA has officially shifted with names like Ilyasova, Scott, Ennis, and Hibbert all on the move. We won’t fully be able to appreciate the impact of some of these moves until we watch the playoffs lottery results show, so it seems foolish to make snap judgments on trades before seeing the teams take the court. But, we’re going to do it anyway.

BEST MOVE: Boston Celtics trade nothing and acquire My Sanity

Obviously the splashiest move was the DeMarcus Cousins heist, but that was on Sunday. That’s pretty much last season at this point, so the best move, in my (biased) opinion, was the Celtics keeping the Nets picks. I certainly wasn’t anti-trade unilaterally. In fact, seeing and hearing this rumor pretty much sent all my blood rushing to my lower body (to use hockey anatomy terms):

Oh, what might have been. While I highly doubt acquiring my favorite NBA player ever would have required parting with one of the Nets picks, I’d rather them do nothing than part with that theoretical gold. GM Danny Ainge finally took a cold shower, watched some Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball highlights, and decided that adding a likely All Star (and more-than-likely superstar) to one of the best teams in the East was a better plan than mortgaging the farm on a rental who only wants to play for the Lakers (Paul George) or a player that is essentially a higher level version of players they already have (Jimmy Butler). Thank you, Danny, for using your brain.

BEST ACTUAL MOVE: Thunder add Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott in exchange for all the leftover Kevin Durant gear they had

This is exactly the kind of boring, pragmatic trade that can turn a team from an also-ran into a legitimate contender. The Thunder add badly needed shooting, scoring, and front court depth. Now, am I predicting the Thunder to beat the Warriors? No. But they went from a one-man-show on the periphery of the West playoffs to a team that could possibly make the Western Conference Finals (It’s really a shame that Durant, the first player to ever leave a team via this new fangled “free agency” thing, just so happened to have been on the same team as the pettiest, most vindictive asshole to hit the NBA since Michael Jordan). All they had to give up was Cam Payne, Anthony Morrow, and Joffrey Lauvergne? Were the Kings involved in this somehow?

WORST TRADE: Sixers give up Nerlens Noel for Season 5 of Shark Tank on DVD

Someone get Sam Hinkie on the phone! What were the Sixers doing here? Before the season they had the Celtics considering parting with the Nets picks for Noel, and they wind up getting Andrew Bogut (immediately bought out), Justin Anderson (solid player), and the Mavs top 18(!!) protected first round pick this year, which becomes two second round picks if they don’t get it. Have the Sixers looked at the standings? Mavs have one more win than they do! This was really all they could get for him? And they finished the trade deadline with Jahlil Okafor on the roster, which would have propelled any team to the “worst move” award. After somehow coming out on top of a trade they weren’t involved in (they can swap picks with the Kings this year), they threw all those good vibes away with this. The Colangelos ruin everything.

ULTIMATE WINNER: Raptors

Getting Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker probably make them the second best team in the East on paper. Doesn’t make them any less boring, though.

ULTIMATE LOSERS: Kings and Knicks (still have Melo and D-Rose on their roster)

What else is new?

But yeah, this year’s trade deadline sucked.

Migos beat up Sean Kingston?

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TMZ– Sean Kingston was cuffed by Vegas cops shortly after he was allegedly beaten up bad by Migos.

As we reported, Sean got into verbal altercation with Migos at the Sands Expo and Convention Center Tuesday afternoon and the group allegedly pummeled him to the ground. We’re told someone in Sean’s camp fired a shot in the air but no one was hit.

Sean bolted from the scene, as did Migos. The video (above) shows cops questioning Sean and a passenger after cops stopped his car. We’re told he was questioned but not arrested.

(I know I’m a day late to this story, but it’s so important I had to weigh in.)

Listen, Migos, I you’re hot right now. Number one song. Number one album. Throwing money with Ellen. But you guys better check yo’selves before you wreck yo’selves and keep your hands off Sean Kingston.

Stories like this make me sympathize a little with the Millennial-hating older folks who claim young people have no respect anymore. Sean Kingston is a legend of the game. He was massive as recently as 2010. And he’s already getting disrespected by this brash new generation. SMH. Do Migos not know how important Sean Kingston was in the late 2000s? Look at all the hits: Beautiful Girls, Take You There, Love Like This, Ennie Meenie, FIRE BURNING? Fire Burning alone is enough to get lifelong Prince treatment. And some young guns have the nerve to beat him up? And then he gets stopped by the cops? What planet am I on? I remember when multiple hit singles got you some social cachet, but I guess those days are long gone. I really thought all the predictions that our society would fall apart now that Trump is president were just overreaction, but now I’m not so sure. Sean Kingston should be under the same protection as rhinos are. Not beaten to a pulp and left for dead. What is he, a 15 year NFL vet we just throw to the wolves after he retires? It’s time we start looking out for legends. #PrayForSean #FreeKingston #whatagwan

Kings and Pelicans pull off one of the most lopsided trades in NBA History

Mere moments after the conclusion of last night’s NBA All Star Game, news hit Twitter of a blockbuster trade so monumentally one sided people everywhere mocked the intelligence of the owners involved and questioned how the league could let it happen. I mean, look at this:

The Kings were able to get Tyreke Evans back, and all they had to give up was DeMarcus Cousins. The most dynamic player in franchise history is coming home, poised to take the Kings deep into the playoffs. Check out these highlights and tell me the Kings didn’t just commit highway robbery.

In all seriousness, this is embarrassing for the Kings. DeMarcus better have personally promised he’d kill everyone in the Kings front office with his bare hands if he wasn’t traded ASAP. I’ve never seen a worse return for a star player. This roster is now borderline Nets-level of ineptitude. I’d be surprised if they won another five games. And, in true Kings fashion, the 76ers have the rights to swap first round picks with them this season. Odds are the Kings are gonna wind up with a pretty high draft pick. I can’t wrap my mind around how the Kings thought this offer of a bag of basketballs and a couple tubes of floor wax was good enough for arguably the best center in the league. And what were the Celtics doing? You couldn’t top that? What were you thinking? All this team needs is a dominant rebounder and interior scorer. Gee, I wonder if any recently traded for nothing player fits that description? What are they saving it for? Don’t tell me Jimmy Butler. Please, for the love of God don’t tell me they’re going to trade the next two Nets picks for Jimmy Butler. He’s just a much more skilled version of Marcus Smart. That’s not gonna suddenly make them good enough to beat Cleveland. At this point I’ll be very upset if they trade any of these picks. They’re not winning the title in the next two years. Big deal. Keep the Nets picks, both of which are virtually guaranteed to be top 3. The top 3 of this draft is crazy good. Take a franchise player this year. Take a top end talent next year. By the time the those players are mature, LeBron won’t be LeBron anymore (hopefully) and the Warriors will have broken up. What’s the problem with patience? Cousins was the only player that would have made it interesting with the Cavs. What does Jimmy Butler do? Make them lose in 6 games instead of 5? No thanks. Danny Ainge gets propped up a lot for the Nets trade, but in my mind, he’ll lose a lot of that credit if he turns those picks and a couple of players already on the roster into only Jimmy Butler.