Written & Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

It is 1970, Los Angeles, California. Larry “Doc” Sportello is a private detective of the utmost stoner kind. He receives a visit from his ex-girlfriend Shasta and a semi-detective story unravels. A meandering, and I mean that in the most positive of ways, confounding, hilarious, crime-comedy-drama is at play here in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, an adaptation by Anderson, of the novel of the same name, from the wonderfully mysterious Thomas Pynchon. Inherent Vice is another wonderful addition into the great canon of films and environments Anderson has crafted, and a film that is more about the journey than any overall destination. A film that feels as if it is a series of mesmerizing, marijuana-fueled diagrams of a culture that is long gone and a world full of crafty, engaging characters, that are more important than the overall story that is being presented. Inherent Vice is an experience to be had and one that will only grow in stature with age and multiple viewings.

The film is centered on Sportello, played with absolute brilliance and gusto by a mutton chopped Joaquin Phoenix. After that visit from Shasta (Katherine Waterston), he goes on an investigation that leads him to kidnapping plots, sex clubs, spies for/against Richard Nixon, drug dealings and the eventual search for Shasta, who goes missing herself. I am not even going to get into the complexities of the story. I never felt completely lost, but after about 30 to 40 minutes, I gave up and just enjoyed the ride. I lathered in the astonishing performances, the stoner vibe and the slapstick-y feel of the comedy and drama. It has a sense of place and a nod to odd detective films like Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye and The Coen’s The Big Lebowski, but those had a slightly more coherent storyline than this one. This film is out there man. I mean, the more I think about the film, the more it soaks in and the more I love every second of it.

Anderson, who feels like he has gone back to his Altman influenced days, i.e. Boogie Nights and Magnolia, although nowhere near as heavy as either of those films, but with a confounding story, fascinating characters and an impressive, large cast. The first thing that I loved about Inherent Vice was how Anderson has created a world that feels so lived in and a place where you just want to go down near the California beach, smoke a joint, crack open a beer and just laugh your day away. The irony is that the film is saturated with this constant state of paranoia in Sportello’s constant search for people and strange, sometimes serious issues that arise throughout. This is the time when Nixon was the President, Vietnam had everyone on edge and the counterculture was being turned down and fading away. Well, at least the weed kept everyone alive with a level head. Anderson has created a magnificent world in Inherent Vice and one that is fueled by some “out there” performances.

I have to start with the greatness and dedication of Phoenix. There was not one time where I did not believe him as this stoner detective. He is constantly smoking weed and always either utterly relaxed or consistently on the lookout for something. Phoenix has Sportello nailed down perfectly, much like his previous role in Anderson’s The Master and Spike Jonze’s Her. He is on a roll right now. Waterston is a breakout in this films and is completely committed to the attempted shyness of Shasta. A quiet beach girl with a soul and mind that has much more behind those beautiful brown eyes. There are many small roles from some great actors as well, including Benicio del Toro playing Doc’s lawyer, Owen Wilson as a drugged out chameleon of sorts, Reese Witherspoon as D.A. dating Doc and the best in show, Martin Short. He is fucking amazing and I could just watch the film for his super small role. I really wish he had more screen time, but what we get is magical. There is also the bull-headed police detective “Bigfoot,” played by Josh Brolin. Mean, silly and always tailing Doc’s ass, Brolin gives a solid, hilarious performance. The pancake scene is gold.

It is really hard to put Inherent Vice into words. A film that is fueled by setting, place and the characters presented. A film that requires multiple viewings to unravel the hidden, and maybe not hidden, layers situated in its two and a half hour run time. I feel it will grow gracefully and in about 5 to 10 years, it will be another flat-out classic from Paul Thomas Anderson. I actually cannot wait to jump back into this world and soak in the great characters, performances, and attempt to unravel this mysterious, confusing, drug-fueled story that Anderson has presented. I loved it.

Photo credit by IMDB.

2015 Academy Awards Nominations

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Here is the complete list of 2015 Academy Awards nominations. I’ve bee too sick, fighting the flu all week, to write a full on analysis this evening, been in bed all day, but it is safe to say there were a few surprises. A very male-centric, white Oscars this year. I am still very happy that Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood faired very well. Yes, so glad Wes Anderson finally received a Best Director nomination. I will write an analysis piece sometime this weekend. Enjoy.


  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash


  • Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)
  • Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  • Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
  • Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)


  • Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
  • Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
  • Michael Keaton (Birdman)
  • Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)


  • Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)
  • Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
  • Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
  • Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
  • Reese Witherspoon (Wild)


  • Robert Duvall (The Judge)
  • Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
  • Edward Norton (Birdman)
  • Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
  • J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)


  • Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
  • Laura Dern (Wild)
  • Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
  • Emma Stone (Birdman)
  • Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)


  • Jason Dean Hall (American Sniper)
  • Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)
  • Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)
  • Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)


  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo (Birdman)
  • Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  • E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher)
  • Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)


  • Big Hero 6
  • The BoxTrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Song of the Sea
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya


  • CitizenFour
  • Finding Vivian Maier
  • Last Days in Vietnam
  • The Salt of the Earth
  • Virunga


  • Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach (American Sniper)
  • Sandra Adair (Boyhood)
  • Barney Pilling (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • William Goldenberg (The Imitation Game)
  • Tom Cross (Whiplash)


  • Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman)
  • Robert D. Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal (Ida)
  • Dick Pope (Mr. Turner)
  • Roger Deakins (Unbroken)


  • Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game)
  • Hans Zimmer (Interstellar)
  • Johann Johannsson (The Theory of Everything)
  • Gary Yershon (Mr. Turner)


  • “Lost Stars” from Begin Again
  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
  • “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
  • “Glory” from Selma
  • “Grateful” from Beyond the Lights


  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken
  • Whiplash


  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken


  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Interstellar
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past


  • Milena Canonero (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Mark Bridges (Inherent Vice)
  • Colleen Atwood (Into the Woods)
  • Anna B. Sheppard (Maleficent)
  • Jacqueline Durran (Mr. Turner)


  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Into the Woods
  • Mr. Turner


  • Foxcatcher
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Guardians of the Galaxy


  • Tangerines
  • Ida
  • Leviathan
  • Timbuktu
  • Wild Tales


  • The Bigger Picture
  • The Dam Keper
  • Feast
  • Me and My Moulton
  • A Single Life


  • Aya
  • Boogaloo and Graham
  • Butterfly Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak)
  • Parvaneh
  • The Phone Call


  • Crisis Veterans Hotline: Press 1
  • Joanna
  • Our Curse
  • The Reaper (La Parka)
  • White Earth

Photo credits by IMDB.

January 2015 Academy Award Predictions

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And it is getting closer. All of the players are out campaigning, especially at the swanky Palm Springs Film Festival. The year is wide open with a tremendous amount of solid films and great ones — Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood and Gone GirlAmerican Sniper and Unbroken have had successful runs at the box office, so they are very much in the race and Wes Anderson’s March released beauty, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is making a splash everywhere. It is a player and I am fully supporting that film. There is still no frontrunner, but things will slowly fall into place. The Golden Globes (no big deal) and the SAG awards are just around the corner, as well as the DGA, PGA and WGA nominations. The Oscar nominations will be announced on January 15th and I will be updating these predictions a few more times before that big nomination announcement, as well as completing every category. Still sticking with the big ones for now. Here are my predictions and here is a link to last months picks. Enjoy!!!


  1. Boyhood
  2. The Imitation Game
  3. Selma
  4. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  5. The Theory of Everything
  6. Whiplash
  7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  8. Gone Girl
  9. American Sniper
  10. Unbroken
  • Next 5: NightcrawlerFoxcatcherA Most Violent Year, Interstellar, Mr. Turner

These are my top ten as of the beginning of January. I think there will eventually be nine films nominated and Unbroken will be the huge snub. I just think American Sniper has got the legs and Eastwood, well, it is Clint Eastwood. The Grand Budapest Hotel has to be in, and, even if the Academy did not flip out about Gone Girl, it is too good a film and has too many admirers to be left out. The field is wide open and once the nominations are announced on the 15th, the real fun begins.


  1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  2. Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)
  3. Ava DuVernay (Selma)
  4. Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
  5. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Next 3:  Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Clint Eastwood (American Sniper), David Fincher (Gone Girl)

Linklater, Iñárritu, DuVernay and Tyldum are locks in my book. It is that last spot that is up in the air. My love for Budapest and desire to see Anderson finally nominated for Best Director is pushing me that way, but I would not be surprised to see Chazelle for Whiplash get the nod or if they really love American Sniper, go for the legend Eastwood. I think Jolie is on the outside looking in.


  1. Michael Keaton (Birdman)
  2. Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitiation Game)
  3. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
  4. David Oyelowo (Selma)
  5. Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
  • Next 3: Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

It is really that fifth spot that is up for grabs. Keaton, Cumberbatch, Redmayne and Oyelowo are locks, but is it going to be Carell or Gyllenhaal. Right now, I am sticking with Carell because he is really working the circuit and is quite great in the film, but I want it to be Gyllenhaal. He is so magnificent and smirking and dirty in that film. Before the 15th, I will probably change to him.


  1. Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
  2. Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
  3. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
  4. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
  5. Jennifer Aniston (Cake)
  • Next 3: Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Hillary Swank (The Homesman), Amy Adams (Big Eyes)

This is pretty much set, especially with Two Days, One Night not getting into the final nine for Best Foreign Language Film, meaning Cotillard most likely want make it in the final five. Most likely…


  1. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
  2. Edward Norton (Birdman)
  3. Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
  4. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
  5. Robert Duvall (The Judge)
  • Next 3: Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice), Tom Wilkinson (Selma), Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes)

I think this is set as well. Duvall is out there working the circuit and the only one that might take the fifth spot away is Brolin.


  1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
  2. Emma Stone (Birdman)
  3. Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
  4. Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
  5. Keira Knighley (The Imitation Game)
  • Next 3: Rene Russo (Nightcrawler), Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer), Carmen Ejogo (Selma)

Set. Moving on. Although I would love to see Rene Russo get a nod. She is so damn amazing in Nightcrawler. 


  1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  2. Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo (Birdman)
  3. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)
  4. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  5. Ava DuVernay & Paul Webb (Selma)
  • Next 3: Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner), Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year)

This category is little tricky. I am sticking with these five for now, but with some of the questions about historical accuracy with Selma, although, it is a film and not a historical document, I could see Leigh or Gilroy sneaking in and taking that spot. I do not think it will happen, being that Selma has been so well received and will receive many big nominations. Sticking with Selma for now, but really love Gilroy’s script and everything about Nightcrawler.


  1. Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)
  2. Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)
  3. Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
  4. Jason Dean Hall (American Sniper)
  5. Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)
  • Next 3: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson (Unbroken), Nick Hornby (Wild), James Lapine (Into the Woods)

Even though Unbroken did well at the box office, the film has received middling reviews. I really feel that American Sniper is getting a huge push and is right up the Academy’s wheel house. It takes it over Unbroken and this is the main category where Paul Thomas Anderson gets some love for Inherent Vice. Appreciation for adapting a Pynchon novel too!


  1. Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
  2. Roger Deakins (Unbroken)
  3. Dick Pope (Mr. Turner)
  4. Hoyte von Hoytema (Interstellar)
  5. Bradford Young (Selma)
  • Next 3: Robert Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Benoît Delhomme (The Theory of Everything), Jeff Cronenwerth (Gone Girl)

I am going with these five, but the top three are the only locks. Young is the man right now, with Selma and A Most Violent Year out this winter, and Hoytema did absolute wonders with Interstellar. But, I could easily see either one of them missing out in exchange for Yeoman’s career best work on The Grand Budapest Hotel or Delhomme on The Theory of Everything. 


  1. Sandra Adair (Boyhood)
  2. Douglas Crise & Stephen Mirrione (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
  3. William Goldenberg (The Imitation Game)
  4. Tom Cross (Whiplash)
  5. Spencer Averick (Selma)
  • Next 3: Barney Pilling (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Kirk Baxter (Gone Girl), Joel Cox & Gary Roach (American Sniper)

Usually the film that wins Best Film Editing goes on to win Best Picture, although it was split last year between Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave and Editing winner Gravity. I think the top four are close to locks, but it is that last spot that is a bit of a question mark. I would love to see The Grand Budapest Hotel, which just received an Eddie nomination, get that fifth spot and I think it just might. Sticking with Selma for this moment, although it did not get an Eddie nomination.


  1. Ida (Poland)
  2. Force Majeure (Sweden)
  3. Leviathan (Russia)
  4. Wild Tales (Argentina)
  5. Timbuktu (Mauritania)
  • Next 4: Tangerines (Estonia), The Liberator (Venezuela), Accused (The Netherlands), Corn Island (Georgia)


  2. Life Itself
  3. The Overnighters
  4. The Last Days in Vietnam
  5. Virunga


  1. The LEGO Movie
  2. How To Train Your Dragon 2
  3. Big Hero 6
  4. The Boxtrolls
  5. The Tales of Princess Kaguya

Photo credits by IMDB.