January 31st, 2006

books

Books 2006: Small Steps

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Some people have referred to Small Steps as a sequel to the Newbery Medal- and National Book Award-winning novel Holes, but it isn't, at least not in the way I define the term. I would describe it as a companion to Holes, since it doesn't continue the narrative from the earlier novel but does feature two of its peripheral players. The reason I bring it up is that if you read Small Steps expecting it to be a sequel to Holes, you may come away disappointed, which would be a pity because Small Steps is a good book that deserves to be judged on its own merits. The real strength of the book comes from its characters. Sachar does a good job expanding on Armpit and X-Ray's personalities, and the new characters, Ginny and Kaira, are likewise well-drawn. The plot is a little far-fetched, but it gets the job done and effectively carries Sachar's theme of personal responsibility.

See all the books I've read this year

  • Current Mood
    Otis Redding - Try a Little Tenderness
movies, oscars

Oscars!

So, hows about them Oscar nominations? As usual, I watched the nominations live this morning, and as usual I have some thoughts on them, presented here in the order I have the nominations written on the sheet of paper I used to take notes during the announcement:

  • Yay, Reese!
     
  • Maybe I'll feel different after I see Good Night and Good Luck, but I'm not sure I'll ever be able to think of David Strathairn as anyone but Whistler from Sneakers. And speaking of which, this nomination means that Strathairn no longer has to bear the shame of being the only top-billed actor in Sneakers not to have been nominated for an Academy Award.
     
  • Nice to see Paul Giamatti finally get a nomination. Should have been at least his third, but whatever.
     
  • Amy Adams joins Joel Gray and Lindsay Crouse in the ultra-exclusive "Academy Award nominees who guest-starred on Buffy the Vampire Slayer" club. But she was so mean to Tara! And on a related note, I'm sure Katie Holmes is very disappointed that she was not the first former Dawson's Creek cast member to earn an Academy Award nomination. Well, at least she still has Tom.
     
  • Bizarrely, I've seen fewer Best Picture nominees (I've only seen Crash) than Best Documentary Feature nominees (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and March of the Penguins).
     
  • I'm not sure what seemed more unlikely one year ago today: "three-time Academy Award nominee George Clooney" or "Academy Award nominee Dan Futterman."
     
  • It strikes me as a little odd that two of the three Best Animated Film nominees employ stop-motion animation. And no computer-animated films at all this year. Perhaps people are finally coming to the realization that computer animation is not inherently superior to other forms of animation. I suppose we have Chicken Little to thank for that.
     
  • I haven't looked into this yet, but it seems to me that it's been quite some time since the directors of all five Best Picture nominees were nominated for Best Director. Clooney is probably disappointed that Martin Scorsese wasn't nominated this year.

A couple of things I noticed among the nominees not announced live this morning:

  • You know why Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire received only one nomination? No Susan Bones, that's why.
     
  • I'm surprised there were only three Best Original Song nominees this year. I don't remember that ever happening before.

The ceremony is March 5. Can't wait!

movies, oscars

Ten random things: January 31

Ten Academy Award-nominated films directed by Woody Allen:

  1. Deconstructing Harry (Woody Allen, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen)
  2. Match Point (Woody Allen, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen)
  3. Mighty Aphrodite (Mira Sorvino, Best Actress in a Supporting Role; Woody Allen, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen)
  4. Hannah and Her Sisters (Michael Caine, Best Actor in a Supporting Role; Dianne Wiest, Best Actress in a Supporting Role; Woody Allen, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen; Stuart Wurtzel and Carol Joffe, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration; Woody Allen, Best Director; Susan E. Morse, Best Film Editing; Robert Greenhut, Best Picture)
  5. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Martin Landau, Best Actor in a Supporting Role; Woody Allen, Best Director; Woody Allen, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen)
  6. Interiors (Geraldine Page, Best Actress in a Leading Role; Maureen Stapleton, Best Actress in a Supporting Role; Mel Bourne and Daniel Robert, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration; Woody Allen, Best Director; Woody Allen, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen)
  7. Bullets Over Broadway (Dianne Wiest, Best Actress in a Supporting Role; Chazz Palminteri, Best Actor in a Supporting Role; Jennifer Tilly, Best Actress in a Supporting Role; Santo Loquasto and Susan Bode, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration; Jeffrey Kurland, Best Costume Design; Woody Allen, Best Director; Woody Allen and Douglas McGrath, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen)
  8. Broadway Danny Rose (Woody Allen, Best Director; Woody Allen, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen)
  9. Husbands and Wives (Judy Davis, Best Actress in a Supporting Role; Woody Allen, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen)
  10. Radio Days (Santo Loquasto, Carol Joffe, Leslie Bloom, and George DeTitta Jr., Best Art Direction-Set Decoration; Woody Allen, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen)

Woody Allen received his twenty-first Academy Award nomination this morning (his fourteenth for Best Original Screenplay, a record). That's less than half as many as John Williams (who picked up his forty-fourth and forty-fifth nominations today, for Munich and Memoirs of a Geisha), but is still pretty darn impressive.

books

Books 2006: Teen Titans/Outsiders: The Insiders

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This is a perfectly adequate comic, reasonably well written and competently drawn, but it there's nothing about it to make it interesting or, for that matter, comprehensible to anyone who isn't already thoroughly familiar with the current incarnations of both the Teen Titans and the Outsiders.

Something I find more interesting than anything that happened in this book is that there's a mistake in the promotional text I pulled off the DC Comics website. It was actually Arsenal who figured out there was a traitor, not Speedy. Back in the day, when he was Green Arrow's sidekick, Arsenal used to be known as Speedy, but he hasn't used that name in some years. Tsk tsk.

See all the books I've read this year