The Porn Prez

Everything about Donald J. Trump is pornographic – his language, his actions, his lifestyle and even his appearance.

This is not so much a judgment as an observation.

Personally, I have nothing against pornography. It can be fun to observe or even to actively indulge in – but with moderation. Much like a great bottle of wine, a pitcher of margaritas, or an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. 

Me, but with trashy reality shows #sorrynotsorry

But to indulge in any one of them on an endless loop daily would profoundly affect one’s psyche – not to mention one’s physical self – and ultimately not in a good way.

For instance, I know I’d put a gun to my head in you strapped me in a chair for hours at a time seven days a week and forced me to stay current (kurrent?) with Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kylie, Kendall and mom Kris.

Still never gets old #momager

The fact that I even know all of their names makes me want to shoot myself.

This is what Trump is doing to the country. Well, half the country.

Okay, 3 million more than half.

Maybe 4 million at this point. Though I might be overestimating. A diet of pornography will do that to you. Everything feels…well, bigger. Or at least more orange.

The point is, the majority of us do want to shoot ourselves. Or someone.

Don’t deny it. The thought has crossed your mind and more than once. Where the (metaphorical?) bullet goes depends on whether you are a masochist or a sadist, a pessimist or an optimist. But the perverse urge to misbehave in some very, very VERY obscene way is there. How could it not be when every day we’re treated to a new episode of Donald Does _____XXXXX_____.

well we know the storm is coming…





The FBI?

The Dreamers?

The Justice Department?

High School students?

Or just any Woman in his way or with whom he has had his way? Or not.

Who will be eliminated next? #staytuned #dowehaveto?

Though certainly not the NRA. That much we can take to the bank(s). Which are doing just fine, and probably financing a whole new group of American made steel and aluminum McMansions even as we speak.

Do I sound bitter? Certainly, not! Why would I be? I have health insurance, a job, a 401-K and better interest rates than my parents ever dreamed of. And I’m in the top percentage of earners in the country. What more could I possibly want?   And, have you listened to yourself lately???

Okay, I will admit to some rage.

Nothing to see here

I carry it with me in traffic as I curse the person with Arizona plates driving in front of me in beautiful urban Los Angeles, sure that they voted for Donald Does while living in their own aluminum and steel faux McMansion – which is nestled on the corner of a golf course that doesn’t let in Jews or Black people.

I’m not proud of this. But at least I’m aware. Though I’m not sure if that means anything. Certainly not that I’m even close to being fully #woke. Or want to be.

More than one person in the last year and a half has told me the Trump presidency feels like a dream – either in the sweet or nightmare scenario, depending on what their political stance was at any given moment.

so like.. when can I move to Mars? #hurryupElonMusk

Well, that makes sense. There have been studies that say pornography can greatly increase and/or influence our dreams – even boost our fantasy libidos – because it stimulates dopamine in our brain.  That’s the neurotransmitter responsible for giving us a high. Like a good bottle of wine or a pitcher of margaritas or….

Okay, I wont say it. But I will say this —

In some cases this is a good high and in others this high is WAY TOO GOOD and makes us an addict.

You may say: But Chair, this doesn’t make any sense. Donald Does gives me no pleasure. He doesn’t make me high. He makes me angry. It’s not the same.

Really??? So you never…hate watch???


Now I’m not saying our/my addiction to hate watching every move on Donald Does is making us/me into what we/I have become. (Note: And oh yes, reading episode and/or weekly recaps counts too).

Nor am I saying hate watching Keeping Up with Donald Does is NOT making us into just that..

I am only observing/actively indulging in the idea that the Opioid epidemic is not the only insidious addiction currently ripping apart the fabric of our country.

And that we might consider in this newest class of Opioids, the only solution is to refuse to buy it. And then come together to take the damn thing off the market, at which time it will be destroyed (Note: Either by us or by self-immolation) and/or put under lock and key for good

Think of it as a human assault weapon, not a toxic reality show, that has somehow managed to cleverly masquerade itself as porn.

Florence + The Machine – “Kiss With a Fist”


My Second Coming Out

It wasn’t easy to come out the first time.

I was so nervous my friends would hate me, my peers would shun me and my family would either not understand or just decide not to deal with IT or me at all.

That was the late 1970s and though times have changed quite a bit for the LGBTQ+ community, nothing about coming out – then or now – is particularly easy.

Most of us say we enjoy being different and perhaps we do, but it is also human nature to want to belong and not feel like or be like…well, my favorite expression is the cheese stands alone.

Think of me as this sad cheese while you read on…

Still, we all need to live in our truths in order to be truly happy.

That is why I find that all these decades later I need to come out for yet a second time. It’s painful because I’m afraid this time you will hate me and shun me. At the very least, I am absolutely certain you will lose respect for me and behind my back call me all kinds of names.

It’s about to happen…

But I can’t pretend anymore.

The truth is ––

I didn’t like Get Out.


I know, I know, I know!!!

I’ve tried so hard to listen and to get on the bandwagon. Yes, I’m a white guy of a certain age so OF COURSE I benefit from the WHITE PIRVILEGE the film is lampooning. But that’s NOT why I don’t get it!!! Seriously!!!

I mean, you’d be hard pressed to find ANYONE who DISLIKES WHITE PEOPLE more at this point in our history than I do.   Even though my 401-K profits from what’s going on in Washington, I live in a deep, dark blue state (in so many ways) and sometimes back away from telling off one of the far right crazies the way I used to for fear of being arrested for strangulation, I still DO side with the values of JUSTICE AND TRUTH for everyone.

It’s just, well…..

It didn’t work for me.

Or maybe I should say.. sorry not sorry?! #donthateme

I loved what it was ultimately saying and I wanted to see THAT film.   Strap me in MY chair and play me that movie – that everyone’s writing about. I want to see an original seamless screenplay that constantly has me laughing and intrigued by characters and a plot that keep me on the edge of my seat – or even far back into my seat, nodding my head at how the inevitable will happen based on the people and events the filmmaker has unfolded.

What I don’t enjoy in my movies are deus ex machina explanations of characters I’ve been watching for three quarters of a film do bad things. Who thought I would ever yearn for a Michael Myers-like reason?

stay with me here!!!

The opening was sick, fun and promising. The act one set up was creepy and believable. The end of the first act worked. I mean, something was up, right?

Then there was:

– The Second Act boredom. A series of sometimes amusing events and set pieces – some clever set pieces but too many other perplexing scenes that didn’t move the story forward with any discernable dramatic purpose – for me, Okay? For me! At least throw me a slightly more than microscopic breadcrumb so I can play along– or two or three – and I would’ve been satisfied, thrilled even, to join the crowd. #DontDunkirkMe.

Having a sinking feeling here

–Catherine Keener spinning that effing silver spoon in that teacup and ice tea glass and… Arghhh, don’t me make relive it for the 1000th time. I crave to see the queen of indie movies pre and post millennium play this kind of character – if I had any sense of who that character was during most of the narrative.

— That reveal at the beginning of act 3 that I had to wait for-EVAH for to make any sense of why, or how or for what reason can I care when no one is making any sense to me for so long. Even when what was really going on was revealed it felt imposed and cheap, reminiscent of a device from some low budget 1950s horror flick I might have watched long before I came out on Million Dollar Movie but turned off before the end (Note: Million Dollar Movie — A showcase for old, often n.s.g films on NYC television in the 1960s).

Sorry but not even a Keith Haring style homage to the movie is going to do it for me.

You might reject all of the above as ill-informed but just know at least I’ve stopped making silly, ridiculous arguments for my case like the one I made just yesterday on social media — Hey, I really enjoyed Black Panther!

Um, right – So because you liked A Black movie that proves…what exactly? It’s like DJT telling a rally in Pittsburgh he’s the least racist person you know because Don King is one of his best friends and he gave Omarosa…her career?

It plays to no one in possession of their own brain, #GetOut pun not intended.


Oh, And just know it really doesn’t help to add, I liked Mudbound, too!

Or give a laundry list of your fave POC films starting with Sounder and then going on through Cleopatra Jones, Lady Sings the Blues, Mahogany (yes, Deal with it!), Do the Right Thing, Boyz n The Hood, Bamboozled, Malcolm X or I Am Not Your Negro.

NO ONE CARES. And a case could be made for every one that I only responded to them because they didn’t challenge MY white privilege.

I suppose that may be right. Who are we but an amalgamation of our lived privileges and denials when you come right down to it?

On the other hand, it could just be that it wasn’t my cup of….tea?


Childish Gambino – “Red Bone” (Get Out Movie Soundtrack)

Two Words

It’s not enough to say this year’s Academy Awards was all about diversity or representation or #TimesUp.

Because what it really was all about was the inclusion rider.

This is a provision in an actor’s contract that can ensure casting in films be more diverse and provide percentages by which to achieve it (e.g. gender parity, people of color, LGBTQ, disabled). It may also extend to ALL CREW MEMBERS on any given film.

In an electric speech near the end of the ceremony, Frances McDormand did many things but the most interesting among them had nothing to do with her best actress win or performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri.

her moment

It was the I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen – inclusion ridera line that went from getting a blank stare from tens of millions of viewers to almost instantly becoming not only the #1 trending topic on Twitter but the Merriam-Webster dictionary website’s top search for the night.

There are ribbons and there are movements but at the end of the day there are really only CONTRACTS.

This is not a Hollywood thing. This is a business thing. ALL BUSINESSES.

Ms. McDormand makes it clear with each public appearance that it’s no accident she’s gained her greatest acclaim playing no-nonsense, complicated women.   But with that last line, specifically those two words, she’s not playing. She’s instead employing an extremely savvy use of a very public platform towards a really specific CONTRACTUAL REQUIREMENT to diversify.

It’s the iteration that follows the movement, which followed the ribbons, which channeled the marches – but this time on paper and in a court of law, if it comes to that.

Or put another way – the less kind and gentler version of you are the change you’ve been waiting for.

Her second most interesting moment was that, after thanking her family, she requested EVERY FEMALE NOMINEE in EVERY CATEGORY stand up for the world, and more importantly, the Hollywood patriarchy in attendance or watching, to see. She then admonished all those in power (aka many of the straight white guys of a certain age who claimed to be shocked by actions of guys like Harvey Weinstein – my editorial comment, not hers) that each and every one of these women have stories to tell and projects we need financed and instead of talking to them at a party that night to meet with them in an OFFICE (Note: We’ll go to yours or you can come to OURS) in a few days where we’ll tell you about them.

Who run the world?

This was not just the actors and the female writers and directors and producers she was pointing to. This was the female cinematographers, songwriters, composers, designers… Well, you get the picture.

Sure, there were other MOMENTS. Jimmy Kimmel was funny, charming really. Presenter Sandra Bullock made some hilarious remarks about dimming the lights so she could look 35 again, and 89-year-old James Ivory finally got the Oscar that eluded him as director of such classic films as Howard’s End, Maurice and Remains of the Day for his brilliant screenplay adaptation of Call Me By Your Name.

Oh and that shirt! #legend

Not to mention cinematographer Roger Deakins actually winning an Oscar after FOURTEEN nominations for his work on Blade Runner 2049 and Mexican-born Guillermo Del Toro’s two heartfelt acceptance speeches about the value of youth, art and American immigration as the best director and producer of this year’s best picture, The Shape of Water.

All of them were good, if not great. In fact, so were all the musical numbers. (Note: Yes, we were surprised too!).

But nothing captured the desire and mood of what’s really going on in the industry like the inclusion rider. Nothing.

Let the buyer beware.

Frances McDormand Oscar 2018 Acceptance Speech

Call me Chair, and I’ll Call You Oscar

Decades of working inside and outside, around and through the entertainment industry has taught me one thing:

NO ONE can reliably predict the Oscar winners each year.

Oh sure, the odd person can get lucky every once in a while and ace the whole thing, even the bonus questions in your local online poll. But maintaining that accuracy every year would mean there is some secret formula to understanding Hollywood.

Trust me, there isn’t.

The only secret is that, at the end of the day, there is no secret.

That’s because Hollywood is more of an idea than a location with an overriding opinion. And that’s coming from someone like me who actually lives IN Hollywood.

Oh.. and about my Oscar party

Oh there are lots of opinions here, too many, but there is no guiding principal to any one school of thinking when it comes to awards.

Not money, not artistic merit. Not dues-paying, good looks or familial connections.

Any one or two or three of those can help but they are no guarantee of anything.

Hollywood is more a state of mind in a particular moment where someone with power makes a decision based on – well – an opinion. Put 6000 or so of those together and what comes out are the annual list of Oscar winners – about as elusive of figuring in advance as receiving the shiny gold plated 8 ½ lb. statuette itself. (Note: And a mere 13.5 inches high. Though it does FEEL taller and HEAVIER in person).

Are you saying size doesn’t matter?

So, in that spirit, let’s get started on an online cheat sheet that can maybe help you gain an edge in the categories where you have doubts. (Note: The kind word for that is a consensus of informed opinions. The cynical one: guesswork). We’ll also include the Chair Choice (what we would vote for among the list of nominees) because…well….we want to and we can.

Best Picture

Who’s it gonna be?

Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Winner: The Shape of Water

Chair Choice: Lady Bird

The toughest category this year. The Shape of Water is singularly the most original and yet the one that most reflects the best of the mainstream movie industry as it now stands in that it combines dazzling visual effects with an emotional story. A case can be made for Three Billboards but its odds are a bit lowered since it received no director nomination. Sadly, we haven’t gotten to the cultural moment where a gay love story like Call Me By Your Name, beautiful as it is, could win best film. Some think we will hit a different cultural moment with Get Out but I don’t think so – The Shape of Water is probably the safer genre choice – not to mention the better film. As for Chair Choice, try making a truly great coming-of-age movie (aka Lady Bird) in the age of cynicism and see how far you get.


Lead Actor

Elio… Oliver… Sigh

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name              

Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Winner: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name

Chair Choice: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name

Yup, you read right. We’re going far out on a limb here because Gary Oldman is the odds-on favorite. But Chalamet’s performance was so unusual, raw and riveting for even those most cynical about his film, that it just feels like he could be rewarded. Also, there are three words in his favor – the crying scene. Yes, the Oldman/Churchill turn was hard to turn away from – for SO many reasons. And he did win the SAG Award, a good predictor here since the actors are the largest voting branch. It doesn’t matter. We’re NOT going with the favorite here. EVER.


Lead Actress

American Badass

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Meryl Streep, The Post

Winner: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards

Chair Choice: Saioirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Seriously, FM is gonna win. Though we prefer Saioirse Ronan’s feat of so many colors in Lady Bird the idea of hearing a McDormand acceptance speech televised LIVE internationally to tens of millions of people is just too tempting not to simultaneously root for.


Supporting Actor

No comment.

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World

Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Winner: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards

Chair Choice: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards

It’s Sam Rockwell’s year. He’s a character actor everyone in the industry respects and it’s the kind of emotionally showy performance that wins supporting acting awards. Many of us have issues with the film (ahem, the performances, the tone and even the writing), but there is something about Rockwell’s work here that ultimately rises above the naysaying. Perhaps…talent?


Supporting Actress

Lady (with a) Bird

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Winner: Allison Janney, I Tonya

Chair Choice: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

This will be the most UNJUST award of the evening. Allison Janney, an often brilliant actress, will win for an over-the-top turn in an over-the-top film despite Laurie Metcalf being nothing short of brilliant as the hate her/love her Mom in Lady Bird. There were literal scenes with that fictional mother that I actually recall living through as a teenager in 197___. Now how can that be????



His time

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Jordan Peele, Get Out

Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Winner & Chair Choice: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

He’s going to win. Del Toro was innovative, unusual and Hollywood. It’s not Nolan’s year. Give it up.


Animated Feature

No brainer

The Boss Baby, Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito

The Breadwinner, Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo

Coco, Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson

Ferdinand, Carlos Saldanha

Loving Vincent, Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman

Winner & Chair Choice: Coco

It’s a sure thing. Nothing to discuss.


Animated Short

Kobe’s got it

Dear Basketball, Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant

Garden Party, Victor Caire, Gabriel Grapperon

Lou, Dave Mullins, Dana Murray

Negative Space, Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata

Revolting Rhymes, Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer

Winner: Dear Basketball

Chair Choice: Lou

I’ve actually seen all of these. Not being a sports fan, I guess I didn’t at all get Dear Basketball. But watching a drawing of a young would-be Kobe Bryant acting to the words spoken by the actual Kobe Bryant of what basketball meant to him in a film produced by the real Kobe Bryant has gotten to ALMOST everyone who wants to see the live Kobe Bryant accept an Oscar in the flesh. I myself prefer Pixar’s Lou, the story of how and why a young bully gets reformed because I guess I’m still working through my childhood issues.


Adapted Screenplay

Can I just say.. SIGH… again

Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory

The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber

Logan, Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green

Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin

Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Winner & Chair Choice: Call Me By Your Name, James Ivory

It’s the very definition of brilliant screen adaptation of a novel that was made into one of the most unique films of the year. Plus, it was written by the guy who directed and produced such classic movies as Howard’s End, Remains of The Day, and Maurice.   James Ivory has never won an Oscar, was robbed off it too many times to count and is now 89 years old. You do the math.


Original Screenplay

The Academy’s cup of tea

The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani

Get Out, Jordan Peele

Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig

The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh

Winner: Get Out, Jordan Peele

Chair Choice: Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig

The idea for Get Out is brilliant, as is the script and film that everyone is writing about. Sadly, that’s not the film I saw – at an actual movie theatre early on – and not at a screening and not on DVD. But the screenplay for the movie that’s getting talked about is the one that I WANT to see. Still, who cares what I think? Certainly, not anyone in the Academy. So we’ll just sit home and sulk, knowing Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird was the far more accomplished and nuanced achievement in storytelling.



Is it his time?

Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins

Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel

Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema

Mudbound, Rachel Morrison

The Shape of Water, Dan Laustsen

Winner & Chair Choice: Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins

This is Roger Deakins’ FOURTEENTH nomination for best cinematography WITHOUT A WIN. While it is possible the brilliant work in Mudbound or The Shape of Water or Dunkirk could win, we won’t be responsible for it.


Best Documentary Feature


Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Steve James, Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman

Faces Places, JR, Agnès Varda, Rosalie Varda

Icarus, Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan

Last Men in Aleppo, Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Soren Steen Jepersen

Strong Island, Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes

Winner & Chair Choice: Last Men In Aleppo

It was near impossible to get through. Can you imagine making it? To do that you’d have to slog through thousands of dead bodies in Syria, side by side with the ordinary citizens of Syria, searching for survivors, and then relive it all again and again and again in the editing. For bringing the unendurable and unimaginable into the light, this one should and will win.


Best Documentary Short Subject

Edith+Eddie, Laura Checkoway, Thomas Lee Wright

Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Frank Stiefel

Heroin(e), Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Kerrin Sheldon

Knife Skills, Thomas Lennon

Traffic Stop, Kate Davis, David Heilbroner

Winner & Chair Choice: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Frank Stiefel

I saw all of these. A lot of wonderful stories but nothing has stayed with me like Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405. You MUST watch this woman’s story. Then think about art. And what it means to survive. That’s all we’ll say.


Best Live Action Short Film

DeKalb Elementary, Reed Van Dyk

The Eleven O’Clock, Derin Seale, Josh Lawson

My Nephew Emmett, Kevin Wilson, Jr.

The Silent Child, Chris Overton, Rachel Shenton

Watu Wote/All of Us, Katja Benrath, Tobias Rosen

Winner & Chair Choice: DeKalb Elementary, Reed Van Dyk

After watching these DeKalb Elementary left me speechless, even though I had read all about the real story it is based on right after it happened. And that was prior to the recent school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, FL, which happened just prior to the date Academy’s final voting ballots were due.


Best Foreign Language Film

Oscar sparkle

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)

The Insult (Lebanon)

Loveless (Russia)

On Body and Soul (Hungary)

The Square (Sweden)

Winner & Chair Choice: A Fantastic Woman (Chile)

This is a guess based on speaking to people and the one film in the bunch I experienced. That film, A Fantastic Woman was a slow build around a trans actress who always appeared to be living, and not acting, a trans woman not unlike herself onscreen. It’s the likely winner.


Film Editing

Baby Driver, Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss

Dunkirk, Lee Smith

I, Tonya, Tatiana S. Riegel

The Shape of Water, Sidney Wolinsky

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Jon Gregory

Winner: Dunkirk, Lee Smith

Chair Choice: Baby Driver, Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss

It’s hard to understand how a movie that many of us couldn’t follow could win the Oscar for editing. Isn’t coherence part of good editing? Isn’t that common sense? Of course, in Oscar polls and award giving, sense is not always the ultimate deciding factor, common or not. And who are we to talk when we’re advocating for a movie starring Kevin Spacey?


Sound Editing

you guessed it

Baby Driver, Julian Slater

Blade Runner 2049, Mark Mangini, Theo Green

Dunkirk, Alex Gibson, Richard King

The Shape of Water, Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira

Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood

Winner & Chair Choice: Dunkirk, Alex Gibson, Richard King

It’s the only thing I liked in the film. I don’t care what you think.


Sound Mixing

one more time!

Baby Driver, Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin

Blade Runner 2049, Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill

Dunkirk, Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo

The Shape of Water, Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern

Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michae l Semanick

Winner & Chair Choice: Dunkirk, Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo

See above. And I still don’t care. At all.


Production Design

I preferred the fish man

Beauty and the Beast, Sarah Greenwood; Katie Spencer

Blade Runner 2049, Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola

Darkest Hour, Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer

Dunkirk, Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis

The Shape of Water, Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau

Winner: Blade Runner 2049, Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola

Chair Choice: The Shape of Water, Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau

One of my dearest friends is a big time production designer and he says it’s Blade Runner. I, myself, loved the fish man, the marquee lights and the largest bathroom a tenement building has ever seen in The Shape of Water.


Original Score

Dunkirk, Hans Zimmer

Phantom Thread, Jonny Greenwood

The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat

Star Wars: The Last Jedi, John Williams

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carter Burwell

Winner: The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat

Chair Choice: Phantom Thread, Jonny Greenwood

The score for The Shape of Water was wonderful but The Phantom Thread score was brilliant and made it the movie it was. Either could win but the edge goes to the fish man.


Original Song


“Mighty River” from Mudbound, Mary J. Blige

“Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name, Sufjan Stevens

“Remember Me” from Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez

“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall, Diane Warren, Common

“This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Winner & Chair Choice: “Remember Me” from Coco

This song provided THE central motif of the movie. That’s what the best original song is supposed to do. Plus, it’s a good song. Okay, perhaps not as memorable as such other Oscar winners as “(The Theme from) Shaft” but you can’t have everything.


Makeup and Hair

Darkest Hour, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick

Victoria and Abdul, Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard

Wonder, Arjen Tuiten

Winner: The Darkest Hour

Chair Choice: Either of the other two.

The latex, the bald cap and the insistence that this was a HISTORICAL CHARACTER and we have to get CHURCHILL right!! Lawd.


Costume Design

I see you

Beauty and the Beast, Jacqueline Durran

Darkest Hour, Jacqueline Durran

Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges

The Shape of Water, Luis Sequeira

Victoria and Abdul, Consolata Boyle

Winner & Chair Choice: Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges

Phantom Thread is a movie about a CLOTHING DESIGNER and it received SIX nominations.   Get it? Not to take anything away from the accuracy and beauty of its costumes or some of the other nominees. But this is another sure thing.


Visual Effects

Blade Runner 2049, John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick

Kong: Skull Island, Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus

Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlan

War for the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist

Winner & Chair Choice: War for the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist

Things have come a long way since the original Planet of the Apes – at least visual effects-wise. The CG apes, the real apes – who knew? Still, it’s a crime the Fish Man in Shape of Water will go unrecognized – and went un-nominated.

Best Original Songs 2000-2017 


We all have our tribes, be it by race, religion, sexual orientation or even…hair color.   It’s often nice to be a part of something larger than oneself but if you’re at all curious (or just get bored easily) you can’t help but be intrigued by the OTHER. For example, I for one have always wondered – DO blondes really have more fun?

OK Marilyn…we get it

Those of a certain generation might remember that old ad slogan while anyone under 30 probably has no idea. That’s another tribe – the over/under 30, 40, 50 and….so on.

What I can also personally attest to is that once you do indeed become a “so on” the ranks begin to thin a bit and your tribe often needs to expand – if for no other reason than practicality. The alternative is being left entirely alone or slowly driven crazy by the very same people who at one point provided you comfort, excitement and the fuel to simultaneously remake and/or bend the world to your will.

In America we call that – living your best life. Not sure what it is in other cultures but I’ll wager that as an expression it translates pretty well – not unlike one of those universal traffic signs.

I caught up with the movie Black Panther this weekend and enjoyed it far more than I expected to for any number of reasons. But principal among them was that it chose to use the superhero genre to look at what it means to stay a member of one’s own tribe to the practical exclusion of much of everything else.

Deserving of the (box office) throne

NO SPOILERS HERE, don’t worry.

Still, what is fascinating about the film is that it manages to advocate extending a hand to outsiders by sharing your wealth and gifts AND staying especially loyal to the very tribe who nurtured you through the years. The latter is especially the case to members you may never have met and who may be far less fortunate or classy than you and applies even if you think you don’t have much to offer.

What a concept. If I were a religious person I might say that sounds like the teachings of Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Allah or…God? But being a heathen I define it simply as decency. A no-brainer. After all, no tribe has the market cornered on morality. Except mine.

I’m joking. I think.

for that over [age redacted] crew

The very fact I really liked Black Panther was yet one more small step away from my natural state of tribalism.   To whit, I don’t generally care for superhero films. I mean, they’re okay – sometimes fun. But, well, I was a kid who didn’t get the appeal of superhero comic books. They seemed silly, unreal and unlikely.

Except the 1960s Batman TV series – the bane of most superhero comic book fans’ existence (I think?). But the 12 year old me could never turn away from Tallulah Bankhead as the Black Widow – not to mention Adam West or Burt Ward. Which should tell you all you need to know about my childhood.   Or me.

Allow me to present… the Batusi Dance #thisisreal #ilovedit

Yet here I am all these decades espousing the virtues of Black Panther.   And asking questions like:

  • How is it that there has never been a major studio movie about a superhero of color?
  • Why is this one of the few, if only, movies of its kind to directly tackle contemporary issues of race and ethnicity with a fully coherent story AND have cool action scenes and more than a few witty lines – while still being entertaining?
  • How can so many really good actors be that f’n good-looking?

I mean…. #hott

Speaking of good-looking and living your best life, after getting home from Black Panther, and probably looking inwards for some contact with something from own tribe, I decided to watch a few episodes of Netflix’s new Queer Eye – a reboot of that early aughts Bravo series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

You know the one. It’s where a bunch of gays saunter, macho walk and/or swish into another guy’s mess of an outer and inner life and make him over. Well, to be fair, they more try to make him the best of himself within budget, reason, time constraints and what raw material there is to work with.

Oh hello honey

If that sounds snide chalk it up to my Queer way of putting things because truly, I don’t mean it to be. Many of us gay guys in general have been doing it on ourselves for years, especially those of my generation who as teenagers didn’t really have a discernable tribe and were often left to blend in – usually badly – and out of necessity had to self-teach ourselves a way to blossom into our true selves without our tribal elders.

So why not have a show where we use our talents for the greater good and, in doing so, show people we aren’t so damned…scary? Threatening? Different? Satanic? Unacceptable? I never could really figure it out.

Every episode would end like this

At least that was the overriding subtext of the original series. Times have thankfully changed a bit since then and the new one no longer seems intent on trying to prove anything. It more seems like a romp where they don’t necessarily change an uptight straight guy’s life but can also help an aesthetically challenged gay guy clean up his outer and/or inner act.

Even when the subject is a Southern, redneck, overweight, older straight guy (the subject’s self-characterization, not mine), it’s not about the queer quintet subliminally getting acceptance from the heterosexual world. The redneck wasn’t uncomfortable with the Fab 5 (he seemed to adore them from the outset), he was hopelessly uncomfortable with himself and spent most of his time sad and by himself, watching TV from an old, stained barcalounger.

One of these is not like the other

So within the settling of reality television, it seemed perfectly normal – if not downright formulaic – to watch a group of experts using their pooled tribal talents to transform yet another human life for the better. The fact that they were queer – substitute any other OTHER you like – seemed almost beside the point. Like choosing a red color palette instead of one that was blue or green.

(Note: Hopefully the subjects will evolve and extend to women, senior citizens of either sex or those of any age landing anywhere on the continuum of gender identity).

Sure, it’s staged and yeah, it’s not saving the world. And no, not all gay guys know about clothes, home design, hair, food, or culture (Note: Certainly not culture, I mean check out your neighborhood gay restaurant or bar and see just how delicious and relationship ready your selections seem).

I’m sorry… what did you say? I got distracted by Antoni the food guy #imean

It is merely one part of a tribe showing the rest of THE WORLD who they are, how they roll and just how fabulous IT and THEY can be. But instead of keeping the knowledge or fun (or whatever) to the like-minded, it’s inviting them into your party and morphing said world forward in some small way.

Immigration can achieve similar results. It happens in the theatre, where people sit together and watch a show live. I see it in the classroom everyday – or, well, at least every other day.

Blondes don’t have the market cornered on fun. That was just an old Madison Avenue ad line – a come on that left out all the other colors. Though it was thought of by one of the first female advertising executives in the 1950s. Who also happened to be Jewish. And the daughter of Russian immigrants.

Think about it.

The Weeknd & Kendrick Lamar – “Pray For Me (from Black Panther)”

17 More

I’ll keep this short.

There were 17 people gunned down this week in the latest mass shooting at a U.S. high school. Among them were 14 high school students – many too young to vote and all of them teenagers.

These kids – and three more adults – were murdered by yet another mentally unbalanced young man with yet another AR-15 semi-automatic style weapon.

This was the same gun used to murder 27 more people – most of them between the ages of 6 and 7 – at an elementary school six years ago by yet another mentally unbalanced young man.

The most recent shooting took place in a quiet community in Florida and the one in 2012 occurred in a quiet Connecticut community.   The shooter of the very little kids was only 20 and our latest gunman was 19. Both had long histories of mental illness and there were countless times where neighbors and friends expressed concern about them to local law enforcement agencies.

As for their AR-15s, it is THE gun of choice for young assassins in mass shootings these days because it’s a military style weapon that can a) fire in excess of 45 -100 rounds per minute without reloading and b) inflict lethal damage to all its targets far more effectively due to the high velocity in which its bullets travel.


That is to say, a bullet shot from a handgun imbeds into your victim’s liver um, maybe 1-2 inches.   While an AR-15 will “pulverize it”, say experts, who use the metaphor of what happens when you drop a watermelon from a distance high above onto a concrete surface far below – much like David Letterman used to do in one of his comedy bits on The Late Show.

But here are some links (this and this) where you can read more specifically about it:

If you have a gun enthusiast friend, neighbor, or family member, you might ask them why anyone not in the military needs a military style weapon and why in many states anyone over 18 can walk into a store and buy one in a matter of minutes.

If they answer with phrases like guns don’t kill people, people kill people, or with statistics on how many more of those guns are available illegally, or admonish you as un-American because you don’t understand the 2nd Amendment (the right to bear arms) – tell them you’ll get to that in a minute. Right now you just want them to be kind enough to answer the first question you posed.

God help me if someone tries to say rap music did this. #dontgothere

I, myself, have tried this with numerous people in the last few days but have thus far been unable to get a straight answer that doesn’t stray into one of those three tributaries.   Perhaps it’s my tone. Okay, more than likely.   But also, just perhaps, there is no adequate answer to that question other than – why not?

Well, there are a whole lot of why nots but, sadly, every one of them is dead. Of course, if we knew who the future why nots were going to be that might be a tad more convincing. Though I’m not 100% sure.

Congress 2018.

The closest we have in the meantime are the voices of a whole lot of surviving almost why nots. These would be the voices of the many teenagers from that Florida high school who managed to survive the latest installment from the all-too familiar American loop of The Hunger Games.

True American Heroes #dontbackdown

Here is a story and videos of their intellectually eloquent and painfully raw, heartfelt responses to our decades long American gridlock surrounding the school shootings/gun issue.

These kids aren’t having it and – shout out to their local educational system, or their parents, or what happens when any older generation callously and continuously puts their younger generation in harm’s way – whether via war overseas or terror at home – they are not backing down.

In an odd way, it reminds me of what the older brothers and sisters of my generation did when a bunch of goons thought it might be a good idea to ship them overseas to fight in Vietnam because it was just too difficult for the elders in power to admit they had made a mistake and were killing their young people for no real discernible reason other than…well, I never understood that either.

Their grandparents marched, and now, so will they.

What I do remember is that in that case it didn’t end well but thanks in large part to the voices of the young being sent to their deaths, it did eventually end.

I fully expect that to be the case here. It’s just a shame to have to wait that long. Or even one more second.

Buffalo Springfield – “For What’s It’s Worth”

I (Don’t) Love a Parade

U.S. Electoral College Vice President Mike Pence and his wife were seated in a box next to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea this weekend and when everyone stood and cheered as the North Korea and South Korea delegations historically entered as one Korea, Pence and his wife chose to remain seated.

Of course, this is their prerogative. There is inherently nothing wrong with not cheering at a show of national unity when other people are cheering out of either support or respect.

Except if you believe one is required to stand when everyone else does so during a ritual at a sports stadium. Or if you believe that protesting a fervent show of nationalism towards a regime with whom you disagree with by remaining seated is abhorrent and offensive to the country in which said event is taking place.

uh oh

Gavin Newsom, California’s Lt. Governor and soon the be gubernatorial candidate, said it best, and even provided a gif and accompanying article and image to illustrate this point:

I, for one, have never been big on national anthems or ceremonial deference.

My earliest experiences saluting a flag or being required to sing a song in order to display my loyalty – to a system of religion, of government or of some moral law –always felt not only silly but ill-advised.

What does singing this dumb song or saluting like an idiot along with everyone else prove, my younger self thought and sometimes verbalized, much to the chagrin of several adults around me. Either I liked the thing I was being forced to respect or didn’t – making me do it along with everyone else doesn’t prove ANYTHING.

Pretty sure this was my face for much of my childhood #sass

As for parades, my feeling is have at it if it floats your boat – or, um, float – but don’t make me do it. That said, I have attended events like the annual Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood over the years – but usually as a means of strength and protest AGAINST people like Pence or our current US Electoral College POTUS – not as an oath of loyalty or respect to either a particular system of belief or any single individual or group.

This is why the Oval Office/right wing hysteria over the #TakeAKnee movement spurred by Colin Kaepernick always perplexed me. In the same way the protocol of bowing, curtsying or whatever you’re supposed to do to royalty in the last two centuries has always left me secretly laughing and not so secretly rolling my eyes.

Watch it, Chairy #kween

Really? A song, a crown, a scepter and a flag? Those are items that in your culture or mind REPRESENT an overarching IDEA. They are not the IDEAS themselves. Better to show in your ACTIONS that you are LIVING the IDEA than show your deference with some world worn SYMBOL. A salute or a couple of bars of a chorus is a ceremonial cheat. It’s like having your spouse or boyfriend/ girlfriend pledge their fidelity to you during the day and then be allowed to rendezvous with their secret lover that very same night.

maybe I’m overcompensating

And speaking of the Electoral College POTUS currently in the Oval Office, the latest is that he wants a military parade down Pennsylvania Ave. because, well, he can.   Oh, sure he can. Think of it as part of the discretionary powers of the job, supported by a kind of mad money fund of millions of taxpayer/governmental dollars one gets to spend when one determines one’s country/employees/subjects are in need of a celebration.   Though it could be that it’s only the ONE who fancies an impromptu blowout, which in essence is the same thing since the ONE is the defacto leader of everyone else and, in essence, speaks for EVERYONE.

Snicker, snicker #toogood #ihadto

The last time we did this type of thing was 27 years ago after the Persian Gulf War and it cost between $8-$12 million. So, with rising expenses and inflation, by today’s standards it could be… oh well, let’s not think about that when it comes a ceremony of patriotism. It might LOOK like we don’t support the troops. To whom, I don’t know

As I often say to my screenwriting students, you can’t film an absence. Who a character is, is what he or she actually does. Or pretends to do. It’s then up to the audience to decide what actions are real and whether to get onboard the journey.

Of course, that’s movie talk. Which has little to do with reality. Unless one chooses to live life like a movie. Or worse, a reality TV show.

“Don’t Rain on My Parade” – Barbra Streisand (from Funny Girl)