Academy Awards – 2016 Best Pictures Review, Matt Kring Style

Where do I begin?  I was absolutely not planning on watching all the best picture nominations, but an impromptu weekend getaway to Chicago (thanks to working in Rockford this past Wed-Fri and only being an hour away from Chicago) allowed me the opportunity to get it done.  I took last year off, and back at again this year.  So my brother came up with a plan to knock off all the best picture noms, so I said lets do it.

I only saw La La Land, Hidden Figures and Manchester By The Sea prior to Friday, SO I saw 6 films this weekend, a major, major, major binge fest.  It was a blast man!

So here are my rankings for this year:

Moonlight – I did not know what this movie was about, all I knew was that it was a best picture nominee, and Ali was up for best supporting actor.  I really liked the transformation and growth of the main character once I saw the entire movie.  At first I was getting a little irritated with how much he was getting picked on, until the scene in the classroom, where he had enough, went APESHIT, and unloaded on the bully!  Great scene changer, and I pumped my right fist after it happened.  I did not expect Ali to be in the film for a brief period.  Janelle Monae  gave another solid performance as Ali’s girlfriend.

Arrival – This is a movie that you need to be locked into, a movie that you to bring your watching movie “A” game to.  This is a well made film that brings together the brilliant mind of Dr. Louise Parks (Amy Adams) and her ability to see the future.  This film does bring the stereotypical hard ass military leader (Forest Whitaker) and the building love story between Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.  Still, well made film, and I liked it.

Hell or High Water – This is the adventure of two brothers from Texas doing what it takes to fight for their Mom’s ranch.  So let’s rob a few small town banks.  Chris Pine’s character is definitely underrated.  He beats the system, gets away with crime, and the sheriff (Jeff Bridges) knows it, but there is nothing he can do about it.  I definitely did not think this should have been a best picture nominee, but I liked the film.

Hacksaw Ridge – I knew that there were going to be some war battles, but they dragged on for more than they should have.  What a great story about Desmond Doss; he proved that one can make a difference without using a firearm, in a WAR.  Even though the battles dragged on for a little bit, the makers of this film did a great job showing the transformation of the respect the other soldiers had for Doss.  Good movie.

Fences – I will not deny the great acting, but I felt like I have seen a movie or two with a similar plot.  Do we feel sorry for Denzel, or don’t we?  Again, I commend the acting of Denzel and Viola Davis; both I would be fine if they won best actor and best supporting actress.

Manchester by the Sea – Casey Affleck warned us on Saturday Night Live (SNL) that this movie would be depressing, and it was, but that is what the story is about.  The everyday life of a man doing his best with what he has, to make it in today’s society.  He does his best to hold it together, but the struggle to make ends meet is what is the strength of this film.  It makes it more real and the possibility of it happening in the real world.  Great story.

Hidden Figures – This is the most feel good best picture nominee of all of them.  Great combination of humor, drama and overall plot.  I wasn’t sure about this film being a January release, but I forget a lot of distinguished films come out in January (The Revenant).  High Rotten Tomatoes score and a best picture nominee; it’s gotta be good, right?  I’m kind of a math geek, but I’m trying not to be biased on my opinions.  Three African-American mathematicians in the 60’s staying strong, not letting the color of their skin stop them from following their dreams.  Plus I didn’t know Janelle Monae was an actress.  If you haven’t seen this film, and you want a feel good historic story, go see Hidden Figures.

La La Land – I’ll start off by saying I’m not the greatest fan of musicals, but the team behind this film pulled it off.  What better way to start off introducing LA by showing us a typical trafffic day on the interstate- by the way the opening song was well done, and it introduced us to Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.  The struggles of Stone’s and Gosling’s character lead them to being an item.  Everything is going well; both of them  are heading in the right direction towards success.  Their communication and chemistry gets stronger and stronger.  So I asked myself, will this be a Scooby Doo ending where they fall in love forever and forever and have made their dreams come true?  NO SIR!  And I liked it, something different.  In a different twist, the ending was Scooby Doo, that is all I will say.  I enjoyed this film a lot.

Lion – This was the last best picture I saw.  Now I’ve seen them all.  This is a very good movie to see for my last.  A young 5 year old boy named Saroo just wanted to be like his older brother, Guddu; he wanted to do everything like him, but Saroo’s life changed when he went with Guddu to find work.  That is when the purpose of the film kicked into high gear.  You began to see Saroo develop into the person he is (when Dev Patel takes over the character), especially when he gets involved with a woman he met at school (played by Rooney Mara).  You want a feel good, warm hearted story, go see this, on my request.

My rankings from worst to first:

9.  Hacksaw Ridge

8.  Hell or High Water

7.  Fences

6.  Arrival

5.  Manchester By The Sea

4.  Moonlight

3.  Lion

2.  La La Land

and #1…

HIDDEN FIGURES!

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MATTHEW KRING

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Wisconsin State Fair, 8/2/2014

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, Wisconsin.  I had three goals when attending the fair:  try the Mac & Cheese Bacon Burger Quesadilla (brand new item this year), have a couple of cream puffs and have two beers.  I achieved every goal, except I fell one beer short.

The quesadilla was at a place called “Mexican Grill”.  It had Mexican-seasoned ground beef, mac & cheese and bacon, all cut into four traditional quesadilla triangles.  It was super delicious.  The cream puffs were as outstanding as I thought they would be.

Here is the rest of what I had.  Drinks wise, I had a pint of Prairie Farms chocolate milk, a 20 ounce bottle of Coke Classic and a large cup of Miller Lite from the tap.  Other than listed before, I had a couple of bites of a three cheese (swiss/american/cheddar) grilled cheese sandwich from a specialty grilled cheese stand.  I had a repeat dish from last year; buffalo chicken dip from the Blue Moon Tavern stand; just as good as I remember.  The big miss of the day, was an order of Barbecue Pulled Pork Nachos from Saz’s.  The restaurant just doesn’t do that much for me, average at best.  Plus they charged $3.50 for a 20 oz bottle of water: I should have paid 2 bucks more to get a beer.  I wish I would have just fought the temptation of the BBQ Nachos, but oh well.

Overall, I think it’s well worth the $10 entry fee.  There are so many damn places to eat. The State Fair is a place where you absolutely cannot worry about your diet.  Feeding frenzy!  The weather was absolutely perfect.  A great scenic environment, where you can just be yourself, hang out with friends/family, and have the time of your life.  8/10

Wisconsin Valley Fair, 8/1/14

I made my return last night at the historic Wausau Fair. I kept it simple. I know what I wanted. I got my cheese curds at the Breakfast Optimists stand. I got my italian food; tried their grilled cheese sandwich with marinara, and it was absolutely scrumptious. I had a tasty cannoli there too. I ended the evening with a cheddar wurst corn dog, which was good, but after the curds and italian food, it was more of a filler. It’s like having a slice of Angelo’s Pizza and then having a slice of Pizza Hut; going from excellent to good.

Overall, I am satisfied with last night’s food experience. Now onto the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis. See you tomorrow! 9/10

Wisconsin Valley Fair, 7/30/14

Let me tell you it’s been a while since I have written a food blog. I thought I’d start again with a special occasion. I went to the Wisconsin Valley Fair in Wausau, Wisconsin. I’ve been going here for 20+ years, and it’s always a special experience. It’s worth the season pass or entry fee because of one signature item, the Cheese Curds at the Breakfast Optimists stand.

They seem to raise the price every year, but so what. Who cares? If they’re that damn good and hot in demand, then they can raise the price. Basic economics. I had 2 orders last night. They’re that special!

Go to the italian specialty stand, located in the wing by the VFW/Grandstand entrance. Try their food, please! They definitely know how to cook. I sampled their meatballs, cheesy bacon bites and cheese garlic bread. Definitely sample their meatballs and cheese bread; bacon bites, not as much. I’m so looking forward to going back there tomorrow. I even told the workers their food is amazing; I don’t do that too often.

After the curds and italian samples, it went kind of downhill. I peaked early, food wise. I had my usual cheesecake on a stick, which was awesome as usual. I sampled a piece of authentic German bratwurst, which I will be going there tomorrow. They no longer have the LT Barbeque Stand, which was very disappointing; I loved their pulled pork nachos! Beware of the subs at Inferno Subs. The sub bun was warm, but the rest of it was cold, not a good combination. The flavor was what I remember though.

If you don’t have a season pass, pay the $9 entry fee and get yourself some cheese curds at the Breakfast Optimists stand, not anywhere else. Go sample the italian stand as well as the authentic German Bratwurst stand. As a major food lover and critic, you won’t be disappointed. Hope to see you there! 8.5/10