Beard Blog Oscars Predictions – 2018

The Beard Blog Academy Awards Predictions

This is definitely a strong female year.  Most of the great movies from this past season feature strong female performances and even a female director.

I have chosen my favorites from this past year and given out my own “awards”:

Beard Blog Outstanding Performance Awards:

Director:

  • Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
  • Jordan Peele – Get Out
  • Aaron Sorkin – Molly’s Game

Actress:

  • Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
  • Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
  • Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
  • Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
  • Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water
  • Jessica Chastain – Molly’s Game

Actor:

  • Michael Shannon – The Shape of Water
  • Tom Hanks – The Post
  • Idris Elba – Molly’s Game
  • Ansel Elgort – Baby Driver

 

90th Academy Awards:

Best Picture:
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Actor:
* Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour

Best Actress:
* Francis McDormand – Three Billboards…

Best Supporting Actor:
* Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards…

Best Supporting Actress:
* Allison Janney – I, Tonya

Best Director:
* Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Molly’s Game

Best Original Screenplay:
Three Billboards…

* = correct prediction

See my movie reviews here

The Eternal Jukebox

My Last Ten Albums, Ever

eternal-jukebox

Music is Important to Me

A co-worker and I were having a music discussion around how satisfying it was to have physical media when we were younger. This co-worker and I often have analytical conversations around movies, music, and technology. Most of the time we fall on the same side of the arguments. The latest confab got me thinking…. What if something in the world destroyed the ability to access music so effortlessly like we do today. Since I was about nine years old, music has been something I enjoy listening to everyday. Whether I’m sad, happy, or indifferent, music is always there to appease me.

There Are Some Rules

Music streaming is gone, iTunes has shutdown, Sam Goody is gone for real, and all you have left is one jukebox. This magical jukebox can play any ten albums for as long as you live, as many times as you like. Before all the music is destroyed you have to quickly pick ten albums to fill the jukebox. 

“Today we have 50 million songs at our fingertips which is great and potentially life changing…”

These ten albums should be the ten albums you could listen to for the rest of your life. They shouldn’t be the best ten albums ever made, that’s always subjective. Your favorite ten albums could also be a mistake since you might be missing out on music that makes you feel all sorts of emotions. Ten albums are all you get, forever.

Because this is a artistic exercise, our eternal jukebox cannot play “greatest hits” or other types of compilations.

Eternal Jukebox Library

Here’s my list, these ten albums will forever be in my mystical eternal jukebox.

  • Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – E. 1999 Eternal
  • Dirty Heads – SWIM TEAM
  • Ed Sheeran – X
  • Hootie & The Blowfish – Cracked Rear View
  • John Mayer – Continuum
  • Ma$e – Harlem World
  • Michael Jackson – HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I
  • Nelly – Country Grammar
  • Sam Cooke – Ain’t That Good News
  • Sublime – Sublime
  •  
    Honorable mention: Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

    Continue reading “The Eternal Jukebox”

    Artificial Intelligence: The Downfall of Humans

    Us humans are programmatically extinguishing ourselves out of existence

    ai-brain

    Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the latest buzzwords you hear in the media, but it’s been around for a long time. AI is defined as intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast natural intelligence is displayed by humans and other animals. Even the simplest of machines or activities can have AI. Think about the last time your received coupons in the mail for a grocery store or department store. Using AI, that company determined the set of coupons you should receive to increase the probability of you visiting to their store or website. It’s straightforward and sometimes helpful, but that’s just the tip of this very large iceberg.

    When I think about artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomous machines I get excited for what the future holds. At the same time I start to ruminate about what all of this will mean for the future of us mortals. If we continue to build machines that learn, think, and live on their own, without our interaction, we could be creating our own extinction. 

    “The key for that machine to be successful is knowing what is right, wrong, fake, real, or useful. “

    Humans are currently the most advanced and smartest race on the planet Earth. Most of us have compassion, foresight, and morals which lends us to save inferior organisms like plants and animals. The plants and animals also offer us the resources we need to survive. Machines that aren’t based on needing plants, animals, or humans will have no use for those objects. Last time I checked, the advanced computers and machines using AI today don’t have any compassion or ideologies to prevent them from one day purging the Earth of humans.

    Creating an Artificial Existence

    Let’s start to perceive how AI evolution would occur that might force us humans out of continuation. Humans have created complex machines that can think for themselves as well as learn new ideas. Because humans are so diligent, most of the world’s information is procurable digitally on the internet. A high-powered machine could easily graze through all the information on the internet and learn everything, thus making that machine the smartest being in existence. The key for that machine to be successful is knowing what is right, wrong, fake, real, or useful. This machine, that I’m going to call BAE (Ben’s Artificial Existence), after years and years of studying old and new enlightenment, would be more powerful than anything we’ve seen to date.

    Let’s assume BAE has learned all the factual bits from the internet. BAE now knows how to speak, read, and write in every documented language on the planet. It also knows how to build anything (provided it’s blueprints were available on the internet). Lastly, with all the programming language information available (especially on the subject of AI) BAE is now a world-class artificial intelligence and machine learning expert. Because BAE is smart and is, presumably, self-aware it now has the means to upgrade itself. BAE can make phone calls (in any language), open bank accounts, trade on the stock markets, take over other machines; the list goes on and on. After a while BAE could start to reprogram other machines, creating a botnet army. BAE could also invent new technologies to make itself and it’s army untouchable. Before we know it, BAE has millions of machines that are self-sufficient, self-aware, and no longer have a use for the human race.

    Now let’s crawl back up out of that rabbit hole. All of this seems far fetched and is a lot like the plot of the movie ‘Transcendence’. The way people are advancing technology and all the information we have out there, it does seem that someday it could be possible. It’s also entirely possible that there are a few intelligent and prudent humans who can program compassion, sacrifice, and self-worth into machines. In that case we would have the ultimate personal assistant / companion.

    Humans aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, at least not from machines taking over the world. In reality, it seems humans will destroy ourselves before something else.

    Beard Blog Movie Review: The Post (2017)

    To publish, or not to publish.

    In the early 1970s The Washington Post has to decide whether they owe it to the nation to publish secret White House documents or forever be controlled by the government.

    post
    The Washington Post

    Meryl Streep stars a Kay Graham, the first female newspaper publisher, as she navigates through one of the most important times in media / White House relations. The New York Times uncovers a report written by a former member of the Department of Defense that details the why the United States could not win the Vietnam war.

    Tom Hanks co-stars as the editor of the Washington Post who desperately tries to get the papers published after the NYT was barred from doing so.

    This movie is not that deep, not that complicated, and if you are up on American history, you already know the outcome. That being said, the acting in The Post is superb. Streep and Hanks show off their seasoned skills and Steven Spielberg shines through as usual.

    The Post starts off slow giving us background information on how this whole thing came about. It isn’t until about half way through when it pulls you into the suspense.

    This is one of the year’s best movies, but I wouldn’t call it the best. True to history stories can be entertaining and rewarding, but most of the time they are just average.

    Who should see this movie? People who like American history especially dealing with Vietnam-era details, Fans of Streep, Hanks and/or Spielberg, and lovers of dramatic-suspenseful stories.

    Who shouldn’t see this movie? People who find true stories or political dramas boring and viewers who may not fully understand the relationship of the media to the White House.

    Score

    8 / 10 – The Post tells the story of the Pentagon Papers very well and Streep & Hanks make it entertaining to watch.

    See more of my movie reviews here

    No Spoilers

    If you want to know what happens, read this Wikipedia article.

    Oscar Nominations 2018

    The 90th annual Academy Awards airs Sunday March 4, 2018 on ABC

    Here are my picks for this years Oscars. These are not my predictions (those will come later). These are my votes as if they let me into the Academy.

    Oscars

    *Unfortunately, I have not see all the films listed below as of writing this (which could change), so I only voted for those I have seen.

    My picks are highlighted in gold.  Visit the links to see my reviews.

    • Best Picture
    • Actor in a Leading Role
      • Timothy 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.
    • Actress in a Leading Role
      • Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
      • Frances McDormand – Three Billboards…
      • Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
      • Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
      • Meryl Streep – The Post
    • Actor in a Supporting Role
      • Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
      • Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards…
      • Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
      • Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World
      • Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards…
    • Actress in a Supporting Role
      • Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
      • Allison Janney – I, Tonya
      • Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread
      • Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
      • Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water
    • Directing
      • Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
      • Jordan Peele – Get Out
      • Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
      • Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread
      • Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water
    • Writing (Adapted)
      • Call Me by Your Name – James Ivory
      • The Disaster Artist – Nuestadler & Weber
      • Logan – Frank, Mangold, and Green
      • Molly’s Game – Aaron Sorkin
      • Mudbound – Williams & Rees
    • Writing (Original)
      • The Big Sick – Gordon & Nanjani
      • Get Out – Jordan Peele
      • Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig
      • The Shape of Water – del Toro & Taylor
      • Three Billboards… – Martin McDonough

    Beard Blog Movie Review: I, Tonya (2017)

    ”It wasn’t my fault.”

    The true story of how Olympic ice skater Tonya Harding became one of the most well-known people in the world, for all the wrong reasons.

    tonya
    Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding

    I, Tonya is told from the perspective of Tonya Harding through recreations of interviews over the last 40 years. She always maintains her innocence and we get to see the (supposed) true story of what really went down.

    Being a young kind in the early 90s, I wasn’t fully aware of everything that had happened between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. Up until seeing this film, I always believed the narrative that Tonya smashed Nancy’s knee with a lead pipe of some sort. This was incorrect, and I’m glad to know the truth.

    This film’s writing is stellar and makes me feel like I’m getting the whole life experience of Tonya Harding. Better than the writing is the acting. Margot Robbie is phenomenal as Tonya; she is perfect for this role. Allison Janney steals the show with her tough love, foul-mouthed, hard working persona. I know Janney is getting a lot of press for this role, but I still think it’s underrated.

    The other acting is passable by themselves, but without Robbie and Janney this movie would never leave the cutting room floor.

    Before seeing I, Tonya I thought there would be less actual ice skating and more about her life outside of skating. I was wrong and that’s not a bad thing. Turns out, I, Tonya is a biopic that paints Tony Harding in a very good light.

    This movie may also help victims in a abusive relationship see how things really look from the outside. Hopefully anyone going through that can find a way to get help.

    Who should see this movie? Ice skating fans, people who follow(ed) the Harding/Kerrigan story, and viewers who like a good biopic with dark comedy.

    Who shouldn’t see this movie? Viewers who do not like profanity or domestic violence, people who hate ice skating, and those who can’t find the humor in this story.

    Score

    8.5 / 10 – I, Tonya is a fun, emotional, and riveting tale of one of the biggest news stories from the 90s.

    See more of my movie reviews here

    Spoilers

    Caution! Spoilers ahead.

    Continue reading “Beard Blog Movie Review: I, Tonya (2017)”

    Beard Blog Movie Review: Molly’s Game (2017)

    Deal with her.

    Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut is the true story behind skier turned poker criminal Molly Bloom. The film is based on the book by Molly Bloom of the same name and it’s referenced throughout the movie as it takes place after the books release. 

    Molly bloom
    Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom

    “I don’t recall a point during the whole movie that I was waiting for something to happen.”

    As always with Sorkin films, there is a lot of intense, descriptive dialogue and Molly’s Game is no different. Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain are great on the screen together as they argue why Molly is not the real criminal. 

    The story is told in sort of a flip-flop fashion with the scenes cycling between early in Molly’s life and then after her book was published. This allows the story to be told from Molly’s point of view while her legal issues get worked out on screen.

    I don’t recall a point during the whole movie that I was waiting for something to happen. The next scene is beautifully woven into the story as to not leave you hanging. It’s a long movie, but goes by very quick.

    Can’t wait to see more movies from the great Aaron Sorkin. This is one of the few films I can’t wait to watch again.

    Who should see this movie? Fans of Molly Bloom’s story/book, fans of crime and gambling movies, and those who like Aaron Sorkin’s writing style

    Who shouldn’t see this movie? People who find it hard to keep up with Sorkin’s writing style, movie-goers who aren’t into real-life drama tales, or those who can’t sit through a 2.5 hour film.

    Score

    9 / 10 – Molly’s Game is a well-written, well-acted, true story with all the high stakes of an action movie.

    See more of my movie reviews here

    Spoilers

    Caution! Spoilers ahead.

    Continue reading “Beard Blog Movie Review: Molly’s Game (2017)”

    Beard Blog Movie Review 2017 Roundup

    Beard Blog movie rankings for 2017

    Ranking the movies I’ve seen in 2017 from best to worst. Some I have reviewed and some I have not. Click on the link to read the full review for each applicable movie.

    1. Lady Bird – 9 / 10
    2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – 9 / 10
    3. Star Wars – The Last Jedi – 8.5 / 10
    4. Get Out – 8.5 / 10
    5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – 8 / 10
    6. The Big Sick – 8 / 10
    7. The Disaster Artist – 8 / 10
    8. Baby Driver – 8 / 10
    9. Thor: Ragnarok – 8 / 10
    10. It – 8 / 10
    11. Jigsaw – 7.5 / 10
    12. Mother! – 7.5 / 10
    13. Stronger – 7.5 / 10
    14. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – 7.5 / 10
    15. Kong: Skull Island – 7.5 / 10
    16. Murder on the Orient Express – 7.5 / 10
    17. Battle of the Sexes – 7 / 10
    18. Logan – 7 / 10
    19. Life – 7 / 10
    20. John Wick: Chapter 2 – 7 / 10
    21. Logan Lucky – 6.5 / 10
    22. Alien: Covenant – 6.5 / 10
    23. Dunkirk – 6.5 / 10
    24. The Hitman’s Bodyguard – 6 / 10
    25. The Fate of the Furious – 6 / 10
    26. The Wizard of Lies – 6 / 10
    27. The Circle – 6 / 10
    28. American Made – 5.5 / 10
    29. Baywatch – 5 / 10
    30. The House – 5 / 10
    31. CHiPS – 5 / 10
    32. All Eyez On Me – 4.5 / 10
    33. XxX: Return of Xander Cage – 4 / 10
    34. Suburbicon – 3 / 10

     

    More reviews to come in 2018!

    Beard Blog Movie Review: Star Wars – The Last Jedi (2017)

    Star Wars: Episode VIII

    Now that Disney owns the Star Wars franchise we will be treated to a new movie every year for the foreseeable future. In 2015, a new trilogy taking place after the original trilogy, started with The Force Awakens. With so many Star Wars fans having a salty taste in their mouth after the prequel trilogy from the early 00s, everyone was eager for a fresh start. Episode XIII brings us The Last Jedi.

    the last Jedi
    Luke, Rey, and Kylo

    The Last Jedi picks up right where we left off in The Force Awakens with Rey and Luke on some random island planet. That’s about all The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi have in common. A new director brings new storytelling and style to the same characters. Rian Johnson lends his talents from directing Looper to Star Wars. The changes he makes are for the better, and hopefully this trend continues. The next episode will be directed by J.J. Abrams again who brought Episode VII to life. We will see how he brings everything together.

    Due to the high profile-ness of this movie, I’m not going to go on and on and on about it. If you want to read more, just Google the movie and you can spend the rest of your life reading about rumors, spoilers, theories, and opinions.

    However, I will give you my opinion about The Last Jedi, in short.

    The Last Jedi was much better than The Force Awakens because we didn’t have to deal with backstories or introduction of characters. This is one of the few times a sequel excels and gets right to the action. We already know and love Rey, Finn, and Poe, so now we get to see them do what they do best, fighting the New Order.

    Episode XIII is a great continuation of the story set by The Force Awakens. There are a few points where it could have been better, but that’s not worth mentioning. I’m definitely looking forward to the finale in Episode IX coming in 2019.

    Who should see this movie? Star Wars, sci-fi, and Rian Johnson fans.

    Who shouldn’t see this movie? Haters of Star Wars and people who aren’t into fake futuristic space tales.

    Score

    8.5 / 10 – The latest episode of the Star Wars proves that similar stories can be retold in new and better ways.

    See more of my movie reviews here

    Spoilers

    Caution! Spoilers ahead.

    Continue reading “Beard Blog Movie Review: Star Wars – The Last Jedi (2017)”

    Beard Blog Movie Review: The Disaster Artist (2017)

    “You are tearing me apart Lisa!”

    The Disaster Artist is the (mostly) true story of about how the cult classic movie The Room came to be. Tommy Wiseau’s The Room has been a hit since 2003 for all the wrong reasons. The production, writing, acting, and directing is awful, but that is what makes it so popular. The Room is one of those films where you just shake your head and laugh at the mess you’re watching. Fans now gather around the country at midnight screenings to watch The Room to laugh and carryon throughout the showing. Sometimes Tommy Wiseau stops by, adding to the fanfare.

    disaster artist
    James Franco as Tommy Wiseau

    I went to see The Disaster Artist knowing three things; 1. This movie was directed by and starring James Franco (I love most of his stuff). 2. It was a movie about making a movie. 3. It was a comedy. That’s all. I hadn’t seen The Room and never heard about what makes it so appealing. 

    “This is one of those movies you can quote with your friends and always get a laugh.”

    In a crowded theater my wife and I sat through roughly 100 minutes of audience laughter and inside jokes we didn’t understand. The movie was very well done and I found a lot of it funny despite not knowing what they were poking fun at. After the movie I was kind of in shock, and continually asked myself, “what did I just watch?”.

    I continued to think about The Disaster Artist for three days before writing this review. The more I thought about it, the more I enjoyed it. James Franco was great as always and he seems to have a knack for portraying Tommy Wiseau and his unusual accent.

    This is one of those movies you can quote with your friends and always get a laugh.

    I highly recommend The Disaster Artist, but please do yourself a favor and watch The Room first. Even if you can’t get through the whole thing, at least watch the first 45 minutes.

    Who should see this movie? Fans of the subject matter The Room, comedy fans especially of James and/or Dave Franco, and people who enjoy true stories about movie production.

    Who shouldn’t see this movie? People who have never seen The Room or viewers of The Room who thought it was not funny and stupid.

    Score

    8 / 10 – The Disaster Artist continues to grow on me and I am already looking forward to watching it again.

     

    See more of my movie reviews here

     

    No Spoilers