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State of the Blog – March 2016 and Oscars Recap

The extra-long February has told all the stories that it ever will, and it is time for the rest of us to move on towards the lion / lamb chimera known as March.  That particular proverb is generally reserved for March weather, but I think we might be able to rework it for the slate of March theatrical releases, as we’ve definitely got a couple of lions this month. Along the way, I’ll also go through a brief Oscars recap and talk a little about the things I am planning here on Plot and Theme.

Let’s start with the recent past, and talk about the 88th Academy Awards. From the get-go, it was clear that the #OscarsSoWhite movement was going to be the focus of Chris Rock’s rhetoric. But, I don’t think anyone expected lynching jokes on primetime network TV! Say what you will about Chris Rock (and Oscars hosting in general), but I don’t think there is another human being on the planet that could have performed that opening monologue. Some jokes and sketches hit nicely, and others didn’t, but I think overall the night was a success from a hosting perspective.

Similarly, I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone who wasn’t generally happy with how the awards were doled out. The closest thing to a “snub” was probably in the Best Original Song category, where not only did Lady Gaga give the best performance, but the song was much better than that weird Bond song. The acting awards all fell pretty much into place, though many would have preferred seeing Stallone win for his supporting role in Creed, but few will go so far to claim this is an outright “snub”. Ditto for Best Director and Cinematography, which both ended up going to The Revenant team, Alejadro G. Iñarritu and Emmanuel Lubezki. This makes Iñarritu the second director to win back-to-back Oscars ever, joining John Ford who won for Grapes of Wrath and How Green Was My Valley in 1940 and 1941. It was Lubezki’s third straight Cinematography Oscar (he also won for Gravity in 2014), a feat for which he stands alone. Best Picture went to Spotlight, which I had from the beginning!

If you care to look back and judge my predictive abilities, you’ll find that I was 12/20 for all the categories which I actually made a prediction (with four abstentions). Mostly, I nailed Mad Max crushing the technical awards, and actually called Ex Machina winning best special effects (which was ridiculously awesome). Overall, it wasn’t great – but I also didn’t make a lot of the “safe” picks in the acting categories.

Moving on from the Oscars talk, February was a solid month for the blog. I published a pair of multi-film essays, one looking at the big films from the Sundance Film Festival, and one looking at the economics of horror films. I am especially proud of the work that went into the horror piece, so if you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to give it a shot. I’ve got a couple more of these longer pieces in the works, and I have particularly high hopes for one focusing on failed film documentaries, so look out for that.

I also published full-length reviews on Anomalisa, Deadpool, Dope, Bone Tomahawk, Hail, Caesar! and The VVitch. Such production was possible because I explicitly set out to write a certain number of words each day. The target was 1000 words/day, but that proved to be a little too ambitious, as I ended the month of February having written 14,648 words for the blog. You math-enthusiasts out there may realize that this averages to just over 500 words/day, so I got about halfway there. My plan moving forward will be to bump that up to 750 words/day for March, so make sure to check back to see how I am doing.

It may be hard to write so many reviews of so many awesome movies in March (seriously, look at all of those for February – that is like a B+ average over 6 films!). But, there are going to be some fantastic offerings over the next four weeks. First, I finally saw Room just before the Oscars, so that will be incoming immediately. I see Eddie the Eagle tonight, and expect to write a review on that as well. For the rest of the month, I’m focused mostly on two huge films: Zootopia and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Those are non-negotiable, but there are other fun things that I will be looking for as well. The Lobster enters limited release around mid-month, so I’ll try to see that one, and something weird always pops up on VOD sometime during the month. For example, Amazon Prime now has Macbeth, which I am dying to finally see!

As I mentioned last month, I have decided that at the end of March, Plot and Theme will be a year old. There are posts which date back to March of 2015, but they were test posts. The first full posts date to April 24th, and that is when people first started looking at the blog. I would love to hit 50K views by the one-year anniversary, but at current averages I will be a little short. I am going to try to promote the blog more this month to make up the difference, and I would love if any of my readers would help out with this, too. Retweets, shares on Facebook, and all of that good stuff can go a long way, so make sure to promote the things that you really dig!

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Derek Jacobs

Chicago,IL 60606

A website

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