Episode 27: Pwnerthinking It

The Overthinkers tackle new year’s resolutions, “reality” TV, quantum mechanics, selected Oscar® contenders, and give picks for the new year

Matthew Wrather hosts a panel including Matthew Belinkie, Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, Jordan Stokes, and David Schechner to Overthink™:

  • Our New Theme Song
  • New Year’s Resolutions
  • Reality Television
  • Quantum Mechanics (including a pretty detailed explanation of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle)
  • Oscar® Contenders
  • and, the return of…

Overthink This
Our occasional listing of things you should buy. And if you use these links, we’ll even make a few pennies off you.

As always, email us at podcast AT overthinkingit DOT com with your comments, or call 20-EAT-LOG-01 (that’s (203) 285-6401) to leave a voicemail.

Download Episode 27 (MP3)

14 Comments on “Episode 27: Pwnerthinking It”

  1. Gab #

    Yes, Shana, join the effing podcast!

    I greatly enjoy _Deadliest Catch_.

    _Secret Millionaire_: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Millionaire

    I also saw _Doubt_ and _Slumdog Millionaire_, as well as _Frost/Nixon_ and _The Spirit_ during my vacation. While it probably wasn’t the best, _Frost/Nixon_ was my favorite. And having seen a number of “best-picture Oscar buzz” movies this year (_TDK_, _Changeling_, _Doubt_, _Frost/Nixon_, and _Slumdog Millionaire_), I don’t think I’d be disappointed if _Slumdog Millionaire_ took home the prize. Again, this doesn’t mean it’s my personal favorite, but reviewing films is sooo subjective, though, so there really is no point arguing about it.

    Speaking of “Oscar Buzz,” though. A question I can’t wrap my finger around: Robert Downey, Jr. in _Tropic Thunder_ v. Heath Ledger in _TDK_. If both get nominated, who deserves it based on performance; and would Heath get it because he died? We all know how the Oscars are totally political and stuff, but both roles come from genres that usually don’t win the big awards: comedy and action. So what if?


  2. Gab #

    Oh my God I just watched the “trailer.” I nearly wet myself.


  3. fenzel #

    I wrote a longer comment about this that failed to post, but, basically, I think that, if Robert Downey Jr. is nominated for an Oscar this year, it will be Best Actor for _Iron Man_, not for _Tropic Thunder_.

    And the reasons he’d be nominated would be:

    – Overall craft (being a Hollywood actor involves more skills than just creating an emotionally believable character. It also involves things like fitting into the project and doing blue-screen work)

    – The studio has campaigned for it aggressively.

    – The Oscars tanked in ratings last year because they only nominated films nobody watched, and the Academy doesn’t want that to happen again. The era of “Oscar bait” might be changing

    In _Iron Man_, RDJ does a really, really good job. I know I’m in the minority, but I like _Iron Man_ a bit better than _The Dark Knight_ (mostly for sentimental reasons, but, other than Heath Ledger, it has better acting, and I’m an actor, so I respond to that).

    It’s just that _Iron Man_ isn’t usually the kind of movie that would get considered for non-technical Oscars (or maybe if it had really great music, which it doesn’t). It’s in the ballpark, but it’s a pretty big ballpark.

    _Tropic Thunder_, by all rights, shouldn’t even be in the same country as the Oscars. I mean, it’s not terrible, and it was fun and successful, but it was a pretty mediocre movie in a lot of ways (much less ambitious than _Pineapple Express_). I’d put it on about the same level as a mid-level John Candy movie in its overall quality (Like _Summer Rental_).

    Yes, RDJ does a good job in _Tropic Thunder_, but his role is also not the kind of thing the Academy wants to draw attention to when it gets burned pretty frequently for not giving awards to black people. And Tom Cruise was the best supporting actor in that movie anyway. He pretty much made the movie to the extent that it was made.

    Heath Ledger’s performance in _The Dark Knight_ is pretty freaking transcendant. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had been nominated for that if he were still alive. He wouldn’t have won for it if he were still alive – they would have noted it and then rewarded him later when he played a mathematician or a handicapped person or something more admirable – but since they’re not getting that chance with him, I’d say that he’ll probably win.

    I can’t even think of other supporting actors who were even close to him. It wasn’t a particularly good year for character actors. The “serious” movies tended to be very lead-centric.

    But, in general, it’s not unheard of for pure comic performances to win Best Supporting Actor Oscars. There have been a few in the last decade. Best Actor, no, Best Actress, no, Best Supporting Actress, no, Best Picture, definitely not – but funnymen sidekicks ar still allowed to win statues.


  4. Matthew Wrather #

    I dunno, I think that if Heath Ledger were alive AND he were nominated for the Joker AND he won (I realize this is a large hypothetical rathole to go down), it would probably be more in recognition of Brokeback Mountain. The Academy does that all the time — award work in a relatively mediocre context in order to recognize older work in a much better context. Like Martin Scorsese.


  5. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    What did Jack Palance REALLY win for?


  6. fenzel #

    Actually though, he won it for _Shane_.


  7. Gab #

    Fenzel: Who else would RDJ be competing with for Best Actor, then? Langella, Pitt, and Penn? Oh, and Rourke? If what you say is accurate, which I don’t doubt it is, I’m sorry to say he probably won’t win anything this year- but then he’ll get some token win next year for something that isn’t as good. (Re: Russel Crowe and _The Insider_ v. _Gladiator_) And really, given the genre of his own performance, as well as the strength I’m hearing about with the performances I haven’t personally seen, yet (all of the men I mentioned except Langella’s, which I DID see) (and his was AMAZING), I don’t think the Academy would nominate RDJ for _Iron Man_. Politics, politics, politics.

    Here’s my two cents: I don’t think Heath, if he gets nominated, has any chance at losing. Between his loss for _Brokeback Mountain_ and his death, I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t be given the Oscar. I think Phillip Seymore-Hoffman could get nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in _Doubt_; and since he’s already won a Best Actor award, the Academy wouldn’t feel too terrible about snuffing him there in favor of Heath, even though _Doubt_ is definitely in a genre they’re more comfortable with giving awards too. Michael Sheen MAY get a nod in the category, too, for his role in _Frost/Nixon_- or at least I hope so, since I think that was just an amazing ensemble and it deserves lots of props. Dev Patel from _Slumdog Millionaire_ got the SAG nomination, but I honestly don’t think he deserves it- I’d rather see John Malkovich for _Changeling_ get nominated.

    But, overall, again, I don’t think anyone else has a chance against Heath in that category.


  8. fenzel #

    I think Mickey Rourke is a good chance best actor at this point – if only because his acting performance specifically has drawn such huge critical acclaim – even people who haven’t really judged it as a great acting performance will have internalized some of the hype to vote for him.

    And I loved _The Wrestler_, so I wouldn’t mind that,

    but Sean Penn has a better chance, I think, if only because the part he played is so closely politically aligned with most of Hollywood, and Hollywood has been really really politically minded for a few years now – like, to a kind of bonkers degree.

    I mean, if Rourke wins, it’ll be mostly about acting but somewhat about hype. If RDJ wins, it’ll be mostly about acting but somewhat about good business. But if Sean Penn wins or the Slumdog Millionaire guy wins (is there a Slumdog Millionaire guy worth nominating?), it’s mostly about acting, but somewhat because of politics – Hollywood trying to reinforce to the world that it is antagonistic to President and the cultural presumptions he represents.


  9. fenzel #

    Oh, sorry, I haven’t seen Frost/Nixon, but that’s obviously also politics. From what I hear about it, that might be the dark horse. If I were a betting man, I’d put some money on Frost/Nixon in various Oscar categories, if largely because you’d probably get good odds.


  10. fenzel #

    Also, I’m calling it right now — Phillip Seymour Hoffman is the new Tommy Lee Jones. If ever there’s a year where you can’t fill out five solid best supporting actor nominations, PSH gets the nomination for something he did.


  11. Gab #

    Fenzel: Penn getting it for _Milk_ would also be a slap in the face to the people in California, Arizona, and Florida that voted for their constitutions to define marriage as between a man and a woman, too. Is it just a coincidence the movie came out this year, or is that irony?

    _Slumdog Millionaire_ I suppose had Dev Patel, but again, the SAG gave him a best SUPPORTING nomination, and I don’t really know the “criteria” for the Academy and how it differentiates between a lead and a supporting role versus how the SAG does. I mean, Judi Dench WON Best Supporting Actress for _Shakespeare in Love_, and she was onscreen for what, only eight minutes total? Is eight minutes REALLY worth a whole nomination (especially when it was for the kind of role she’s often cast as, a caricature of herself almost)? Dev was onscreen for more than eight minutes, yes, but most of the movie is flashbacks, so if you’re going by screentime and hours of work put in, he probably had less to do than the two kids playing his younger self.

    But how is _Slumdog Millionaire_ antagonistic to Bush? I can see why, but I’m curious why YOU think- political commentary is not the first, second, or even third kind of commentary popping into my head when I think of the movie.


  12. fenzel #

    I have not seen _Slumdog Millionaire_, but giving prestigious awards to movies from emerging economies is antagonistic to Bush because so much of Bush’s cultural cache comes from American exceptionalism, and Bush’s legacy and core support is pretty hostile to the idea of deferring to foreigners on most things.


  13. Gab #

    Oh, I disagree a bit, Fenzel, in that Bush’s policy has been QUITE favorable to emerging and foreign economies- but through the backdoor. Our relationships with the OPEC countries, especially Saudi Arabia and Dubai, for example. I don’t know the exact number, but I know the U.S. owes something grotesquely large to China. And we’ve been practicing extraordinary rendition with the cooperation of the Egyptian government since the program first started (admittedly under Clinton, but it certainly hasn’t been STOPPED by the Bush Administration). The twist is how it doesn’t get talked about much because the Republicans want it that way (as in for the business to continue and to be kept secret) and the Democrats are a bunch of pansies. Openly, yes, American exceptionalism is the mantra, but under that is a layer of inclusion involving shady bedfellows and allies.

    Would the recent hotel bombings have any impact on the votes?


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