Today would normally be a self-absorbed exhibition of passion for the annual Academy Awards presentation, taking place this evening in Hollywood.
However, for the first time in a very long while, I haven’t seen enough of the movies and performances which were nominated in each of the major categories to provide a truly fair assessment. So this year, I’m doing something different.
I went back and looked over all the films released in 2015 and made my own list from top to bottom of those movies I viewed on the big screen. For those interested, here’s the complete catalog of every major film released last year: CLICK HERE.
What follows are the movies I saw in theaters (I’m biased toward the theatrical experience — giving little or no merit to watching on later on video), ranked best to worst, along with my brief comments about each film. I also included a list of movies which were purposely avoided, in addition to those I either missed or chose not to see for other reasons. That way, readers will know I didn’t forget some films, only that I didn’t have time to see them all:
If you were around last year at this time, you witnessed one of the most impressive instances of special events handicapping in quite some time.
Matt Lessinger, who has appeared here frequently as my guest on this site (usually giving out picks on boxing, Mixed-Martial Arts, Oscars, Grammys), successfully rattled off an astoundingly perfect night at the 2015 Grammy Awards, picking several winners including a 10-1 shot as “Album of the Year.” That’s as amazing a feat as you will see on a public forum and is far better analysis than anything which appears on the conventional entertainment programs which tout “expert advice.” This is just one reason Lessinger appeared on National Public Radio (NPR) a few years ago, evaluating all the major categories.
Bernie Sanders unveiled his new television commercial today, which is targeted towards voters in Iowa. I just saw it for the first time. That state will be holding the first party caucuses, now less than two weeks away.
The ad is a major diversion both style and substance from what we’re used to seeing from Sanders’ campaign. Until now, Sanders has mostly deadpanned a deeply serious, some might even say scholarly approach to the major issues, which reveals an unwavering sense of personal conviction. Typically, his campaign speeches are packed with mind-numbing percentages and lots of statistics — which is probably something we need to know and hear — but also frankly, which is not exactly an inspiring vision for the types of voters who just want to feel good about their future. Indeed, Sanders seems to have resisted the notion of “being sold” to the electorate, an unorthodox strategy which likely accounts for his continuing surge in the polls which show he’s now ahead of rival Hillary Clinton in both Iowa and New Hampshire. He also refuses to “go negative.”
If you watch television, you can’t miss the slew of commercials from an online dating site called FarmersOnly.com. The ads are so embarrassingly bad, they’re actually pretty great.
This baffling website claims to help farmers create relationships. It connects “cowboys to cowgirls.” It’s targeted to people who prefer the country lifestyle. The commercials even take a swipe at cynical urbanites, purporting that “city folk just don’t get it.”
They’re absolutely right. I’m city folk, and I don’t fucking get it.
Oh, I’m sure there’s an untapped market out there for desperate damsels attracted to men bruised with mutton chops. Some women tingle inside at the sight of a gun rack filled with loaded shotguns tacked onto the rear window of a Ford F-150 pickup. Come to think of it — kinda’ gives me goosebumps, too. Yeah, real goosebumps.
What I don’t get is how the hell a dating site for “farmers” can run just as many commercial ads as Budweiser or Viagra? Are there really that many lonely country folks out there? And, if indeed there are, would they be paying attention to the commercial break of an Ivy League college basketball game on ESPN between Princeton and Brown? I don’t mean to stereotype anyone, but wouldn’t farmers instead be tending to their livestock, repairing tractors, picking watermelons, starting campfires, taking over federal buildings, or doing whatever farmers usually do?
In case you haven’t seen the ads, here’s one that’s pretty typical of the marketing pitch:
I suppose there’s a genteel charm associated with attractive members of the opposite sex with provincial mannerisms combined with the mirage of life in the country. Lots of unspoiled land and wide-open spaces….the freedom to do your own thing….the right to pretty much be left alone — those romanticized apparitions appeal to millions of people, including those of us stuck living in cities breathing car exhaust fumes.
Nevertheless, judging by my last couple of cross-country road trips across the American heartland, I haven’t noticed too many George Straits and Matthew McConaugheys tending to the fields, living quiet lives of solitary desperation posting ads for mates on a dating site. A girl who signs up at FarmersOnly.com seems far more likely to get stuck on a blind date with the toothless banjo boy from “Deliverance” all grown up and rock-hard ready for mating season.
So, how can we explain the hundreds, if not thousands, of FarmersOnly.com spots popping up on our TV screens on almost every channel? Surely, commercial time costs a shitload of money. There can’t be that much profit in skimming the vig off matches of Bubba Joe in Talladega with Sally Mae in Chattanooga. I can’t imagine farmers forking over hundreds or thousands of dollars to meet single maidens, nor can I envisage a queue of damsels eager to set down roots in a trailer park, as tempting as a double-wide with basic cable might seem.
Actually, the explanation might be something else. First, let’s correct some false assumptions. According to several sources, it turns out that a sizable percentage of FarmersOnly.com members aren’t country folks, at all. Many actually live in the suburbs and even in big cities. I’m not kidding. One female blogger who conducted her own investigation was shocked to discover a high number of matches for “farmers” came up in — now, hold onto your cowboy hats, partner — New York City. [READ MORE HERE]
New York City! Someone, get a rope.
Okay — so it’s not just rural folks and rednecks hanging out on the dating site. People all over the country seek love, sometimes in some mighty strange places. Still, seeing who’s being targeted by all this advertising, my citified cynicism tells me this is one helluva’ supersized crackerbox of conservatives. The site has aired at least a dozen different commercials. I’ve yet to see any man or woman (or those represented by actors portraying “farmers”) of color. Not a single Black person. Not a Latino. Forget Asians — they don’t farm anyways. Of course, there’s no inference of a same-sex dating option at the website. Gee, I guess gay people must not exist outside of New York and San Francisco. The marketing which is overwhelmingly straight and white does beg a serious question. Could FarmersOnly.com be a veiled front for what couldn’t be advertised otherwise, which is — “StraightWhiteDatingOnly.com?”
To give some balance here, minority groups have their own dating websites and advocacy organizations. Some will insist there’s nothing inherently wrong with a website matching people who predominantly happen to prefer dating members of their own race limited to the opposite sex. If that’s what they’re seeking, then so be it. I’m all for it. Actually, I agree that people should be free to choose who they want to date and our advertising will reflect these preferences. But let’s also cut through the cow dung.
There are significant numbers of farmers and ranchers out there who are not White. There are certainly large numbers of people who are gay living in rural America. There’s even an organization called the International Gay Rodeo Association which holds events all over the country. One presumes these “farmers” would also be interested in dating and developing relationships just like “normal” people, right? So, why haven’t we seen anyone from these groups in any ads? Seems odd there hasn’t been a Black, a Latino, a Native-American, an Asian, a Middle-Easterner, nor anyone who’s gay on the dating site for “farmers.”
The evidence is clear as to what’s really going on. Here’s a commercial for FarmerOnly.com which includes 12 females, according to my count (see below). Notice any particular racial similarities about this healthy herd of heifers?
Again, call me a cynical city slicker who “just doesn’t get it.” But something tell me when Bubba Joe logs onto his “free” membership account, this promise of sweet lovelies won’t be awaiting him. If it is — then I need to move to the farm and join the NRA. The equivalent of 72 virgins are calling my name.
Hold down the fort, you Oregon patriots! I’m on my way!