John Otteni

Oscars Fortnight Day 9: Mystic River

Mystic River (2003)

The 76th Academy Awards (2004)
Wins: 2

It’s funny seeing what films at what times resonate with the Academy. Apart from the prestige of Mystic River being a Clint Eastwood film, I’m not sure what else it brings to the table. It has big performances that border on laughable. The story makes no sense. The mystery is shaky at best. Yet, it is n engaging thriller at times. Like an airport novel. Which makes sense considering it was adapted from what was essentially an airport novel. Some people just like a good time. Also, didn’t it seem like there was unusual interest in Boston in the mid-2000s? The Departed, anyone? Is it just me? Well, let’s get into it ya wicked pissas.

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Oscars Fortnight Day 8: The Insider

The Insider (1999)

The 72nd Academy Awards (2000)
Wins: 0

It’s weird to think there was a time when cigarettes were deemed equally dangerous as fast food. Joe Camel was in ads all the way up to 1997. People knew cigarettes were addictive but not how addictive. The story behind The Insider is an important building block in the campaign for the truth behind cigarettes. This is the story of Dr. Jeffery Wigand (Russell Crowe) who in real life was a whistleblower after revealing that his company, Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company, was tampering with cigarettes to make them more addictive. It’s also the story of Al Pacino with big hair yelling a lot.

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Oscars Fortnight Day 5: Barry Lyndon

Barry Lyndon (1975)

The 48th Academy Awards (1976)
Nominations: 7
Wins: 4

I should hate this movie. It’s an English-period piece. It’s 3 hours long. It has Ryan “Oh God, Oh Man, Oh God” O’Neal. Yet against all odds, I loved it! It’s kind of a boring take to say it’s because Stanley Kubrick is a genius but there is a magic touch he brings to everything he touches.

What I like about Barry Lyndon is that it’s a scrappy American take on an English story. It’s engaging and exciting and funny. It’s beautiful to look at. It’s a great story with a great character (even with Ryan O’Neal playing him). Kubrick knew how to bring out the best in any actor. And even though it’s a 3-hour movie. I’d watch it again.

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Oscars Fortnight Day 4: Ben-Hur

Ben-Hur (1959)

32nd Academy Awards (1960)
Nominations: 12
Wins: 11

I’m gonna level with you, I wrote a big chunk of this review earlier this week before accidentally closing my document without saving it. So just like Judah Ben-Hur had to endure years of slavery and hardship, I had to endure writing this again, and you have to endure reading it. Let me see if I can remember the anecdote I initially started with.

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John’s Top Ten Movies of 2021

2021 was a good year for movies… I think. I didn’t see a lot of ‘em. There was a window where I felt safe going to the movies. Heck, there was a day last summer where I went to a mall to see a movie and neither the theater or mall required a mask. Not because they were being negligent, because people thought masks weren’t necessary anymore. It always feels like two steps forward and one step back with COVID. Or maybe that’s one step forward, two steps back?

Fortunately, there were solid releases on streaming. How fun was that HBO Max same-day release stunt? I’m missing that already. How else would I have had the opportunity to see such classic as Space Jam: New Legacy or Mortal Kombat (in my underwear.)

There’s a lot I haven’t seen yet that I know would be on this list. Licorice Pizza and West Side Story for sure. A few others on streaming I wish I’d made time for like CODA and Summit of the Gods. And a couple I have no idea how to watch, The Worst Person in the World and Petite Maman.

Because this list feels incomplete to me, I decided to at least make it fun for myself. Instead of the usual paragraph after paragraph of plot recap and half-assed analysis, I’ve made checklists for each movie. Bite size pieces of plot recap and half-assed analysis for each movie. Did I devise this plan out of laziness? Sort of. But I think it’ll be fun. Let’s give it a shot.

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John’s Top 10 Shows of 2021

There were great shows this year. Seems like there are great shows every year. Did the Golden Age of TV ever end? Are we forever doomed to be subjected to too much good TV? Why god?! WHY? Anyways, I spent a good chunk of this year only watching The Sopranos. So by the time October rolled around, I had to haul ass and catch up. That being said I’m happy with my list. Though there are definitely shows I wish I’d caught up with.
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John’s Top Ten Albums of 2021

I listened to a lot of cool music in 2021. The problem is all the “new” artists I got into were artists who had released albums in 2020. So not only did it fuck this year’s list, it fucked last year’s list too. If you’re curious those bands were Beach Bunny, Vulfpeck, and Khurangbin. Thanks a lot 2020.

The hard part of listmaking this year was I had no road map. I gave up on Pitchfork about a year ago cuz they think they’re so big. YouTube turned out to be helpful. I follow a couple of indie record labels and try to keep tabs on up and coming artists. KEXP’s YouTube channel is incredibly helpful. Those guys r kewl.

And I’m not embarrassed to admit I still check the Billboard Hot 100. Well, maybe a little embarrassed. I say all this and I didn’t end up with that crazy of a list. At least it’s not crazy to me. I’m not crazy. Anyways, here’s my not crazy list.

Honorable Mention
I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you.

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