Category Archives: Thought

  • 0

Thought – 2017 Oscar Picks

Category : Thought

Sunday February 26th, 2017, the Academy Awards!  I’ve very excited about this year’s Oscars; there are a ton of excellent films represented, as well as the annual snubs left out.  It should be a great show, with Jimmy Kimmel hosting, and I’m sure I’ll be reacting live during the event on Twitter (@OlieCoen).  You can check out my Oscars page for a complete listing of the nominees in the six major categories, but here are both my predictions and my picks for the best films of 2016:

Best Actor

Best Supporting Actor

Best Actress

  • Winner – Natalie Portman – Jackie
  • Runner-up – Ruth NeggaLoving
  • My choiceNatalie Portman – Jackie

Best Supporting Actress

Best Director

Best Picture

 


  • 0

Thought – 2017 Oscar Update

Category : Thought

Three months ago I posted a list of 30 potential Best Picture Oscar contenders, plus a list of snubbed films that deserved consideration.  Since then, I’ve updated the list with reviews as I’ve seen the movies, including any personal favorites that hadn’t previously made the list.  As the Academy Awards draw closer, let’s take a look at an updated watchlist, a list that has taken into consideration those undervalued films that have risen up the ranks and those overhyped movies that have taken a tumble.

This is the AwardsCircuit.com ranking of top possible Academy Award contenders:

  1. La La Land
  2. Moonlight
  3. Silence
  4. Fences
  5. Manchester by the Sea
  6. Lion
  7. Arrival
  8. Loving
  9. Hacksaw Ridge
  10. Sully
  11. Hell or High Water
  12. 20th Century Woman
  13. Hidden Figures
  14. Jackie
  15. Florence Foster Jenkins
  16. Patriots Day
  17. Passengers
  18. The Jungle Book
  19. Live By Night
  20. Rogue One
  21. Miss Sloane
  22. Rules Don’t Apply
  23. Toni Erdmann
  24. The Birth of a Nation
  25. Nocturnal Animals
  26. 13th
  27. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
  28. The Lobster
  29. Denial
  30. Collateral Beauty

Snubbed: Gold, Bleed For This, Deepwater Horizon, Certain Women, American Honey, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, A Man Called Ove, The Handmaiden, The Dresser, Captain Fantastic, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Swiss Army Man, Kubo and the Two Strings, Finding Dory, Captain America: Civil War, Paterson, The Nice Guys, Complete Unknown, Elvis & Nixon, Indignation, The Neon Demon, Disorder, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Anthropoid, The Shallows, ARQ, Christine, Last Days in the Desert, Tale of Tales, Star Trek Beyond, Tallulah, Hail Caesar, Deadpool, The Fundamentals of Caring, The BFG, Equals, Come What May, The Invitation, Sausage Party, The Edge of Seventeen, Life Animated, My King, Green Room, Hello My Name is Doris.

Bumped offThe Girl on the Train, Allied, Love & Friendship, Moana, Zootopia, American Pastoral, The Light Between Oceans, All Eyez on Me, The Founder.


  • 0

Thought – President Trump

Category : Thought

I truly hope that President Trump is very different from Nominee Trump, that much of what he said on the campaign trail and the way in which he so flippantly insulted so many was just something to rile the crowds, was just over-the-top, doesn’t necessarily represent the kind of leader he will be.

But I refuse to forget his insults, his accusations, and his lies.  Republicans want us to stop whining, to support a fairly elected President, to come together to make America great again? Fuck that.  We aren’t going to forget what happened along the way.

And this is just a sampling, just a few clips from a long line of abuse directed at so many.  This doesn’t even begin to approach the laws that might come into effect under a Trump presidency, or the laws that might be overturned.  Our health insurance deleted, marriage equality removed, Planned Parenthood scrapped, Muslim neighborhoods policed, Mexican families split apart, and an entire government laid at the feet of one party with barely a check.

I for one will not be quiet, admit defeat, and give my support to a man who I have no respect for.  I will show him the same courtesy he showed to so many along the way in order to win, whether or not he attempts to backtrack, change course, wave a Pride flag, and take anti-Muslim talking points off his website.

Too many Democrats & Independents stayed home this election; not me.  Too many Republicans were duped by this man; not me.  And too many people are now calling for us all to stand together, solve problems together, and move on as a country, but I won’t do that.  I can’t forget so quickly what Donald Trump represents, how his supporters feel about those who are different from them, and the enormous step back we will now be taking from the ultimate goal of equal rights & treatment for all.

This person does not represent me, he is not my voice, and no matter how he swivels, I won’t forget this last year.

 


  • 0

Thought – 2017 Oscar Preview

Category : Thought

Of course it’s too early to make Oscar predictions; the nominees are months away from being announced.  Some of what may be the best films of the year haven’t even come out yet.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it anyway and make guesses based on almost nothing.  At the very least, here is a list of movies that deserve a watch, as they might be in the Oscar conversation soon.

This is the AwardsCircuit.com ranking of top possible Academy Award contenders:

  1. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
  2. Fences
  3. Loving
  4. La La Land
  5. Manchester by the Sea
  6. Moonlight
  7. The Birth of a Nation
  8. Lion
  9. Arrival
  10. Hidden Figures
  11. Silence
  12. Passengers
  13. 20th Century Woman
  14. American Pastoral
  15. Nocturnal Animals
  16. Florence Foster Jenkins
  17. Sully
  18. The Girl on the Train
  19. The Lobster
  20. Allied
  21. Hell or High Water
  22. Love & Friendship
  23. Miss Sloane
  24. Moana
  25. Zootopia
  26. Patriots Day
  27. The Light Between Oceans
  28. All Eyez on Me
  29. The Founder
  30. Denial

Snubbed: Gold, Rules Don’t Apply, Collateral Beauty, Bleed For This, Rogue One, Deepwater Horizon, Certain Women, The 13th, Hacksaw Ridge, American Honey, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, A Man Called Ove, The Handmaiden, The Dresser, Captain Fantastic, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Swiss Army Man, Jackie, Kubo and the Two Strings, Finding Dory, Captain America: Civil War, Paterson, The Nice Guys, Complete Unknown, Elvis & Nixon, Indignation, The Neon Demon, Disorder, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Anthropoid, The Shallows, ARQ, Christine, Last Days in the Desert, Tale of Tales, Star Trek Beyond, Tallulah, Hail Caesar, Deadpool, The Fundamentals of Caring, The BFG, Equals, Come What May, The Invitation, Sausage Party, The Edge of Seventeen, Life Animated, My King, Green Room, Hello My Name is Doris.


  • 0

Thought – Black Lives Matter

Category : Thought

All the stupid arguments against the Black Lives Matter movement have officially been nullified.  Yesterday a black man was shot while laying down on the ground with his arms in the air while shouting that he was unarmed, a therapist, trying to help, that his patient was only holding a toy truck, that everything was OK.  And as he lay still, he was shot by a policeman.  When asked why he had been shot, the officer’s response was “I don’t know.”  Look up the incident, there’s a video of it, the man’s name is Charles Kinsey, and decide for yourself if he did anything wrong other than being born black.

Every ignorant auto-response to another case of a cop shooting a black guy has been proven false.  He had a record, he committed a crime, he resisted, he looked suspicious, he was at the wrong place/wrong time.  Charles Kinsey was a therapist from a group home attempting to help a confused, autistic patient out of the middle of the street.  When police arrived, Kinsey did every single thing in his power to show that he was no threat whatsoever.  Yet he was still shot, for absolutely no reason, and was told by the policeman who shot him that he didn’t know why he had done it.

Do you understand the Black Lives Matter movement now?  Does this incident finally prove to you that there is a blatant disregard for black lives in our country, especially by those in power, especially by those in power & holding a gun?  Black lives are being treated as if they are nothing, with those who are actually caught on video shooting unarmed men receiving little to no legal ramifications.  That’s why there are protests.  That’s why there are marches.  That’s why there’s a movement whose very name is something that ought to be intrinsically understood; that black people are people too.

In response, conservatives shout Blue Lives Matter.  Well, yes, yes they do.  But when was the last time someone shot a cop and only received a slap on the wrist?  You kill or shoot a police officer and you are either immediately killed yourself or placed in prison for life.  That’s how we treat cop killers in this country, we protect our policeman because it’s an incredibly difficult job that requires our support.  Whether or not blue lives matter is not in question; they most certainly do and they are protected in every way possible.

But the same cannot be said about the lives of black people.  Said so simply, it should make us all want to vomit immediately.  If this latest case doesn’t prove that sickening fact to you, doesn’t show you that there’s a systemic problem that needs addressed, then I’m not sure what has to happen next to wake you up.  Black Lives Matter is a movement that grew out of necessity, not something that was thought up to give an advantage or to imply that other lives matter less.  It’s sad but true that those in power, usually white men, need to be reminded that every person should be treated equally.  That if you shoot someone in the course of your job you should have exhausted all other options first.  That if you take a life without cause & without accident you should go to jail.

Charles Kinsey was lucky that he was only wounded, not killed.  Perhaps this case won’t start a march due to the simple fact that he’s alive, but I hope it marks the end of the head-in-the-sand policies of so many people, and worse, the clear-eyed denial of countless others.  I can’t convince myself to be too hopeful though, since the fist thing I saw when I turned on the RNC was a man screaming “Blue. Lives. MATTER!” and the last thing I saw was a woman giving a Nazi salute.  But for those in the middle, for those level-headed enough see what’s right in front of them, perhaps Charles Kinsey’s gunshot wound will be what it takes to make them question the rhetoric they’ve been hearing for so long now, to make them see that this isn’t a ploy or complaint or reserve-racism.  What’s happening right now is terribly real; it’s time to stop pretending that it’s not.


  • 0

Thought – Hillary Clinton

Category : Thought

After careful deliberation and much thought, I’ve decided to vote Democrat.  And just in case you didn’t know from other thoughts/posts on this website, that’s a joke, I’ve always been a Democrat.  Actually, when I was young I liked to think of myself as an independent, as someone who would vote for the best candidate regardless of party.  But I soon realized that I couldn’t vote in primaries that way, at least not without much rigmarole, and really, who was I kidding, I was never going to vote Republican.  I began to understand that the Democrats were my party, at least in big elections, that they aligned with my ideals, that they were the people I wanted in charge.  So, yes, as much as my parents never wanted me to be and as much as I’ve skewed from my hometown demographic, I’m a big, tree-hugging liberal, and was always going to be voting for the Democratic candidate for President in the upcoming election.

But this post isn’t about that, not really, it’s about who specifically I will be voting for and why.  My endorsement, if you will, though my opinion holds no sway over …anything …and with the knowledge that my individual vote counts for absolutely nothing this November.  Not only do I represent a miniscule number but then there’s the whole electoral college process, which basically nullifies my importance, unless, and in theory, I could get a large number to change their minds and/or get off their asses & vote my way.  I don’t have that sort of clout, nor am I going out door-to-door, so let’s just say that this endorsement is rather meaningless and I know that, but I’m writing it anyway.  For fun, for posterity, to make it official, who knows, but here it goes.

I’m with her.  And just in case you don’t know what that means, though I assume you do, I’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton to become the next President of the United States.  Just to be fair, she isn’t my first choice.  I actually have more in common with the Green Party than with any other group, though as of right now they’re too small to matter.  I’d vote for Jill Stein were that a viable possibility, if just to get that Party some traction and to get some of those ideas into motion.  But, alas, our country isn’t ready for that right now, so I’ll be a closet Green and just vote Democrat.  Now Bernie, he & his “revolution” had a chance to become something more than just a sideshow.  The word socialism scares some people, but those people forget that we’re already half-socialist anyway, with social programs the backbone of our daily lives.  We’re also a democracy, which Bernie wouldn’t have been doing away with, he’d just have been attempting to put the emphasis back on caring rather than on capitalism, but this democracy seems to have spoken & it looks like we’re not ready to feel the Bern quite yet either.

No, as a liberal I’m left with only one option and that’s Hillary.  I’ll steer clear of talking about Donald Trump too much since he’s been discussed ad nauseam, but let’s just say I wouldn’t vote for him were he the last man on Earth.  Obviously I’d vote for myself, and in that hypothetical case he wouldn’t be the last man since I’d be around too, but I digress.  I might have picked him over Ted Cruz were I forced to choose, but there’s basically no other way I’d vote for a guy who’s decided so firmly never to be politically correct that he’s apparently avoiding being generally correct as well, just to be safe.  He says what he wants, whether it’s true or not, whether it’s insulting or not, with the frightening addendum that a large of number of people find that something they want in a President.  Count me out of that group, I want my figurehead to be as steady as possible, not one racial remark away from successfully stereotyping every group in the country.

Which brings me back to Hillary, in a roundabout & hesitant way, I must admit, but back to her nonetheless.  I’m never going to become excited about my decision to vote for someone who, frankly, rubs me the wrong way.  I’ve attempted to understand whether that’s because I was raised by Republicans and she represents the absolute antithesis of what I was supposed to respect.  Or because she’s a strong woman and I’m secretly a sexist whose own power feels threatened.  Or perhaps because I’m sick of American politics and was actually hopeful that Obama’s election would guide us down a pleasantly divergent path, something that never quite happened the way I imagined that it could.  Whatever the reason, I can’t quite shake the fact that I don’t like, at the most basic level, the person I’m hoping will represent me to the world.

I could care less about Benghazi, about e-mails, about her philandering husband; politicians are crooked, I’ve accepted that, hell I was fully behind John Edwards despite everything he was up to.  These are the leaders we’ve chosen, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so it’s no surprise that professional, life-long politicians get burned; they play with fire every day.  What I want is an intelligent leader who has embraced the monster, tries to steer it in the best direction possible, and actually cares a little about avoiding running over the masses along the way.  That’s Hillary in a nutshell, which is why I’m not ashamed to say that I’ll be voting for her, despite my lack of enthusiasm in the endeavor.

She’s strong & outspoken; something we adore in men but can’t stand in women.  She’s been fire-tested and survived to tell the tale; what else could possibly be thrown at her that she couldn’t bat away?  She legitimately cares about who gets a piece of the pie we all want a bite out of; minorities, women, the poor, the disadvantaged, those we can’t always help themselves whether because of their history or the system.  She’s smart & experienced in the ways of government, and from different angles, putting to shame anyone who wants to compare their track record with hers.  She’s a good face & voice for our nation, showing the world that we treat the idea of equality as a reality, that we speak our minds clearly & respectfully, but never nervously or insultingly.  She stands for what I believe in; social justice for all, shared opportunities regardless of wealth, a government independent of religious control.  For these reason & many others, and even not being able to put all caveats aside, I’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton for President.  I am, officially, with her.


  • 0

Thought – Mommy Guilt 2.0

Category : Thought

I posted this thought a little over three years ago on my old blog site, and it got a great response.  Moms everywhere understood what I was talking about, that inherent & ridiculous guilt they feel when faced with not being perfect, when weighed & found lacking by other mothers.  As a stay-at-home dad, I had a unique opportunity to look at Mommy Guilt from a different perspective, and what I wrote still rings true.  More dads are supporting their families from home, hopefully more moms are understanding their intrinsic value, and perhaps the guilt levels are lowering, but we can all keep in mind the idea that none of us are superhuman, that we all need breaks from our kids, that everyone makes mistakes.  So here’s a look back at what I wrote; share it with the moms in your life if you think it might be a healthy reminder:

My wife posted a link to an article the other day, and it was very interesting.  It was a blog post from one of the Mommy Blogs she reads; a blog about kids, pregnancy, motherhood, parenting, etc.  The post was about Mommy Guilt, which I immediately understood.  It’s something my wife feels for no reason at all other than because she’s a mother.  It’s a feeling that she can’t shake, a mindset in which she thinks she can’t possibly do enough for me or for our kids; guilt over being by herself, guilt over not spending every second with her family, guilt over going to work, guilt over leaving the kids with a grandparent, guilt over getting upset, guilt over not focusing her attention on us every moment of every day.  Basically, Mommy Guilt is feeling guilty for not being superhuman.  And it’s not just women themselves who produce the guilt, it’s society and other moms as well.  It’s a constant pressure to be perfect, to make a perfect choice every time, and to never get distracted, tired, or angry.  Impossible to live up to and impossible to escape.

Now, as a stay-at-home dad, I think I have a unique perspective on this issue.  Not once in my fatherhood have I felt Daddy Guilt.  I know that I work extremely hard for my family and take care of them to the best of my ability.  I love my kids, play with them, teach them, give them what they need, and help to keep them happy, healthy, and secure.  Yes, sometimes I look at my iPhone.  Sometimes I turn on a baseball game in the background.  Sometimes I get mad, make a bad decision, say something I regret, don’t know an answer, or just want to be by myself.  This doesn’t make me a poor father, it makes me human.

After reading that blog post and thinking about my wife’s own guilt, I began to wonder why I don’t feel guilty.  Maybe the root of the problem is something sociological, something about men being taught that dominance and confidence are necessary traits, while women are taught subservience.  But a more immediate answer is that no one tells me I should feel guilty, and therefor I don’t.  I just can’t imagine anyone ever saying that I needed to pay more attention to my kids or that I didn’t deserve time alone.  The only things I ever get are, “What a great dad!” or “Your kids are so lucky!”.  Wouldn’t they be just as lucky if my wife got to stay home instead of me?  Wouldn’t she be doing just as good a job?  Wouldn’t she need a little break from the kids sometimes?  Why am I a hero for doing what women do every day all over the world?  The answer is that I’m not.  I’m just a normal dad who happens to want to stay home with his kids.  No one should make me feel guilty for not being perfect every day.  But, you see, they don’t.  And that’s the point.


  • 2

Thought – Beauty Contests

Category : Thought

To quote Dwayne Hoover from Little Miss Sunshine, “You know what?  Fuck beauty contests.  Life is one fucking beauty contest after another.  School, then college, then work …fuck that.  And fuck the Air Force Academy.  If I want to fly, I’ll find a way to fly.  You do what you love, and fuck the rest.”  Well said, whether you are partial to f-bombs or not.  Dwayne covers a lot of ground in a very short amount of time, ending with perhaps the single most important reminder on how to live a happy life; do what you love.  Do what you love, be with those you love, enjoy the things you love while you have the time, and put the rest in the rear view mirror before you distract yourself with rubbernecking and wreck it all.

Does it get any more simple than that?  Avoid the beauty contests of life, avoid the competition inherent to every day, and avoid making yourself unhappy to please others.  It’s unavoidable that responsibilities will get in the way and sometimes you will have to do what you have to do, not what you want to do, but that’s only a small part of your existence.  Go to the job, make the money, support the family, make the good choice, sure, but don’t forget to do what you love.  Don’t forget that life is fleeting, especially in the universal sense; we are here for a millisecond.  Don’t get caught up in the pageants that parade past, because they sure are attractive, but they’re not actually worth that much in the end.

What’s really worth it?  Family, friends, partners, children.  It might sound cheesy & obvious, but those are the things worth living for, those are the things you’ll miss when they’re gone.  It might take a disaster or death or blow to the head or perfectly timed movie quote to recall it, but we’ve always known what’s important, as long as we’re able to take the time to remember.  We can’t completely stop ourselves from signing up for the beauty contests, voluntarily enrolling to be judged my strangers, but we can sometimes pause long enough to let that beautiful fact hit us; that the contests aren’t what matter, that our real lives start when we surround ourselves with those people/things/hobbies/passions that we truly love, and that all the rest really can simply fuck off.


  • 0

Thought – Donald Trump

Category : Thought

Here is my case for wanting Donald Trump to win the Republican nomination for President of the United States.  First, know that I’m no Republican.  When I was 18 I liked to imagine myself as an independent, someone who would vote for the best candidate, keep an open mind, refuse to be labelled.  Well, I quickly learned that I couldn’t vote in major primaries without a label, and really, let’s be honest, I’ve always been a Democrat at heart.  My parents are still staunch Republicans, hated Bill Clinton, loved both Bushes, and won’t be changing their minds any time soon.  But I chose a different path once I learned that the world wasn’t black & white, that we couldn’t make rules & build economies without considering the actual lives they affect, that you don’t have to be a bleeding-heart to understand that we’re all in this together.  So I’m a Democrat, a liberal, a yea voter for every tax they ask me to pay because I know that I can afford it and, more importantly, that people need it.

Knowing that about me, it might seem strange that I would consider Donald Trump the best option for Republican nominee, and it’s only partly because I think either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders could beat him when push comes to shove.  Despite the spectacle, I think we’re starting to see the man behind the curtain, the windbag behind the words, and I have faith that even those who appreciated his business acumen (which is debatable itself) and were looking for a more capitalist approach to a world that’s quickly leaning left have come to realize that it might not be great to have your President talk about his penis size at state dinners.  So, yes, I think either Democrat will beat him in the general election once he has even more time to prove his pomposity, but that’s not the only reason I hope he makes it that far.

The other is Ted Cruz.  While Trump has been drawing all the attention, bogarting all the headlines, taking all the criticism, Cruz has begun to seem like a level-headed & surprisingly viable option.  Now, that’s only if we’re assuming that Rubio & Kasich eventually drop out of the race, which I believe will happen; their lack of support up to this moment points to that conclusion.  So, for the sake of argument, let’s say that Cruz is the only other option.  He’s the lesser of two evils, right, as far as Democrats are concerned?  We think, well, anyone but Trump, right?  Just in case the Dems lose, at least it won’t be The Donald, right?

But before we get too excited, let’s think about this.  As a country that seems to be glacially sliding toward more social justice, more inclusion, more equality, and a more modern world view, is Cruz the President we want to represent that forward-thinking majority?  Consider his religion.  Cruz is a Southern Baptist, and would bring that faith to the White House.  Now, all presidents claim a denomination and that doesn’t make them snake-handlers, but with Cruz we can expect religion to play a major role in his decisions, even more than with George W. Bush.  Cruz is anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and doesn’t believe in global warming.  He believes in the Patriot Act, gun rights, the death penalty, completely free trade, and the criminalization of marijuana.  He represents the religious right-wing conservative movement that America has been slowly moving away from over the course of the last eight years.  What about that are we desperate to go back to?

Ted Cruz is a dangerous candidate because he seems so sane in comparison to Donald Trump.  Democrats who are looking for a viable Republican, much like we looked upon John McCain, have decided that Cruz is the best choice.  Republicans who are sick of Trump and what he’s done to their party are looking for a level head.  But it would be a great mistake to think we have found these things in Cruz.  His religious zeal and antiquated notions are the past, not the future, with the American majority clearly making its voice heard over the past decade, saying that we want to move forward toward equality, not backward toward Old Testament law.  At the very least, Trump straddles the aisles, changes his mind, won’t pull on religion in order to make decisions, and probably can’t win in the end anyway.  Trump is the candidate we should be hoping succeeds, not Cruz, because, in the small probability that Donald actually becomes President of the United States, at least the country will only be run as a for-profit business, not a theocracy.


  • 0

Thought – 2016 Oscar Picks

Category : Thought

Sunday February 28nd, 2016, the Academy Awards!  I’ve very excited about this year’s Oscars; there are a ton of excellent films represented as well as the annual snubs left out.  It should be a great show, with Chris Rock hosting, and I’ll be live-tweeting the event on Twitter (@OlieCoen).  You can check out my Oscars page for a complete listing of the nominees in the six major categories, but here are both my predictions and my picks for the best films of 2015:

Best Actor

Best Supporting Actor

  • Winner – Sylvester Stallone – Creed
  • Runner-up – Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
  • My choice – Sylvester Stallone – Creed

Best Actress

  • Winner – Brie Larson – Room
  • Runner-up – Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
  • My choice – Cate Blanchett – Carol

Best Supporting Actress

Best Director

Best Picture