Four days till Oscar! In 2010 I saw 45 movies, and by saw I mean paid for a ticket and viewed in a theater. If I were to add the films I watched on DVD or On Demand or HBO or TCM, who knows what the grand total would be? So, as you can see, I come by my Oscar anticipation organically. What kind of person spends close to $600 on movies without an investment in the craft as a whole?
I’ve been a fan since I was a kid and at 16 I learned the great pleasure of going to the movies alone. The film was Now Voyager, in which Bette Davis gets one of the world’s best makeovers after spending what seemed like such a lovely, relaxing time at a tony mental hospital. Whenever I get stressed out, I think of the scene where she’s lying on a chaise, a wool blanket tucked around her legs, looking out onto the beautiful grounds while a nurse tends to her every need. Wouldn’t it be nice if that’s all it took to get over our neuroses? Well, that and a good eyebrow tweezing.
I rarely go to the movies alone anymore because my best friend Rich loves them even more than I do. (And a big shout-out to him for the stellar record keeping that led to my deducing that I’d seen 45 movies—a mere fraction of the four page list he emailed me.) In reviewing my films I was struck by how many were passed over during this seemingly endless awards season. With Hollywood in full spin, emptying so much chatter and clutter into the media over these last few weeks, I’d forgotten about some of the performances. So, in the spirit of saluting the snubbed here are a few of my faves that you now need to rent, download or whatever it takes to enjoy them.
The Ghost Writer—Roman Polanski’s thriller came out exactly a year ago, during the traditional crummy-movie dumping-ground time period. It is a taut, edge-of-your-seat, but subversively funny film with fantastic performances by the always charming Ewan McGregor and the always dreamy Pierce Brosnan. Look for a great cameo by Eli Wallach and get ready to email me with your plot questions. Oh, and try not to think about the fact that it was directed by a fugitive pedophile.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story—Zach Galifianakis is the reason to see this movie. If you only know him from The Hangover you will be completely surprised to see his incredibly moving (but still funny) interpretation of a guy who seems more comfortable within the safe confines of the psych ward than the outside world. (What’s with me and the mental hospital today? Hmmn.) Not to worry, the film isn’t dark and gloomy but irreverent, quirky and poignant. I hope Zach continues to do more demanding stuff outside broad hilarity. That said, his Between Two Ferns on Funny Or Die is hysterical.
Solitary Man—I am not normally a big Michael Douglas fan but his portrayal of a rather unpleasant guy whose successful life begins to unravel is nuanced and, despite the actor’s obvious cosmetic tweaking, lacking in vanity. One little note, Jesse Eisenberg plays yet another college student whom Michael’s character attempts to educate in matters of the heart. Although Jesse’s character bears no resemblance to his take on Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network I feel like the two performances cancel each other out. Maybe I’m being unfair but I don’t care. If Colin Firth doesn’t win Best Actor, well, I can’t even go there.
The Company Men—I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about this movie. A crew of such accomplished actors tell a tale that will strike at the heart of most Americans these days: greed, job loss, downsizing and reinvention. Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper are great, as is Ben Affleck. One odd misstep is the casting of Kevin Costner in a supporting non-role playing the older brother of Ben’s character’s wife played by Rosemarie DeWitt. The age difference between “brother” and “sister?” 20 years!
Fair Game—how could this film have been overlooked? The story of the Valerie Plame Wilson CIA brouhaha was another nail biting thriller which propelled me down the internet rabbit hole, searching for articles on the controversy I should have read during the time it was actually happening. Naomi Watts really shows her acting muscles, which she doesn’t get to flex nearly enough. Sean Penn was excellent as her husband Joe and generously allowed the movie to really be all about her, something that surprised me a bit. Again, you may be left scratching your head but please don’t email me any questions. Do what I did. Google.
These are my top five snubs but there are more to put on your Netflix queue: Client 9 (the Eliot Spitzer documentary), Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Fishtank, and Greenberg are all worth two hours of your time. See why I need to go to the movies so often? There is just so much to see!
The thing about snubs is that often times they are unintentional. (In fact, it took reviewing my movie list for me to remember the films I mentioned above.) Recently I was confronted about why I have yet to make an oatmeal cookie on these pages and really, there isn’t any big explanation or excuse. I’ve said before that I think raisins are idiotic, made to fool us into thinking we’re about to eat a chocolate chip only to learn the hard way that we’ve bitten into a dried-out grape. For many people oatmeal and raisin go hand in hand, maybe that’s why I’ve ignored the cookies thus far. So, although I am happy to share an oatmeal cookie recipe I won’t endorse the raisin. Think of this formula as a base and add your favorite mix-in. I went with chopped dried apricots and some white chocolate chips, giving these chewy treats a nice tart/sweet contrast. But you could use dried cranberries, nuts, chips, or if you must, raisins. As for the Academy Awards, these cookies will definitely be on my dessert snacking plate, to honor those who were unjustly snubbed. Happy Oscars!
Don't Snub the Oatmeal Cookie
Adapted from Everyday Food, November 2003
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1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional-I did not use because I don't love cinnamon but a lot of you do)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups of your favorite mix-ins (any single or combination of white/dark/milk chocolate chip, small diced dried fruit, chopped nuts)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon (if using); set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until incorporated.
With mixer on low, add oat mixture, and mix until just combined. Stir in mix-ins by hand.
Using a two-teaspoon ice cream scoop (or two teaspoons) drop dough onto lined cookies sheets
and bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Yield: 40 cookies