Swiatek-Hawkins picks contest continues

For nearly 40 years, writer Jeff Swiatek and Ronald Hawkins have shared competing picks regarding the upcoming Major League Baseball season. The person with the most correct picks is the beneficiary of a dinner from his opponent.

An opening day in Cincinnati. Photo by Ronald Hawkins.

This tradition began when the writers were working at a daily newspaper in Carlisle, Pa. Hawkins has moved many times and Swiatek a few times with both somehow ending up in Indiana. Despite the moves, the competition has continued unabated.

Hawkins has completed his 2019 predictions and has agreed to post them here. He confesses to being a lifelong Cincinnati Reds fan, but isn’t blinded to the challenges the team faces in the 150 anniversary of Cincinnati claiming the first all-professional team.

The predictions:

2019 Major League Baseball Predictions

Division/Pennant/world series winners

National League

East: Philadelphia Phillies

Central: Milwaukee Brewers

West: Los Angeles Dodgers

Wild Card: St. Louis Cardinals

Wild Card: Atlanta Braves

Playoffs

National League

Braves over Cardinals

Dodgers over Braves

Phillies over Brewers

Phillies over Dodgers

American League

East: New York Yankees

Central: Cleveland Indians

West: Houston Astros

Wild Card: Boston Red Sox

Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays

Playoffs

Red Sox over Rays

Houston over Red Sox

Yankees over Cleveland

Houston over Yankees

World Series

Phillies over Astros

Individual Honors

National League

Average: Jesse Winker

Home Runs: Christian Yelich

Wins: Max Scherzer

American League

Average: Mookie Betts

Home Runs: Aaron Judge

Wins: Corey Kluber

ODDITIES

Reds win 87 games and barely miss the playoffs

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado each miss 26 games

Machado benched for failing to hustle.

Christian Yelich hits for the cycle again, the third time in two years, but this time it isn’t against the Reds.

Winker has a six hit game.

Harper hits six homers over two games.

Ten games are showed out in March and the first week of April

Reds beat the Pirates in a snowball fight

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing wins top British Academy awards

BAFTA
LONDON — “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” has won the top 2018  EE British Academy Film Awards honors. The awards were announced Sunday at a ceremony in Royal Albert Hall, London, on Sunday.

Three Billboards Outside Hibbing
Frances McDermond in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” the winner of the top British film award for 2018.

As announced by BAFTA in its press release here’s the rundown on the winners:

Five BAFTAs for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri:” Best Film, Outstanding British Film, Leading Actress (Frances McDermond), Supporting Actor and Original Screenplay
Gary Oldman wins Leading Actor for “Darkest Hour.”
Guillermo del Toro wins Director for “The Shape of Water>”
Daniel Kaluuya wins the EE Rising Star Award.

Sam Rockwell for supporting actor for “Three Billboards. …”

Martin McDonagh for Original Screenplay,  for  “Three Billboards….”

Supporting Actress went to Allison Janney for her role as Tonya Harding’s mother in “I, Tonya.”

“The Shape of Water” won three awards. In addition to director, the Original Music Award went to composer Alexandre Desplat, and the film also won Production Design.

Roger Deakins won his fourth BAFTA for Cinematography for “Blade Runner 2049,”which also won for Special Visual Effects.

Raoul Peck won the Documentary award for “I Am Not Your Negro.” ”

Film Not in the English Language was won by South Korean drama “The Handmaiden.”

“Coco” took the BAFTA for Animated Film.

Writer/director Rungano Nyoni and producer Emily Morgan received the award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer for “I Am Not a Witch.”

“Baby Driver” received the BAFTA for Editing; “Phantom Thread” won for Costume Design;. James Ivory won for Adapted Screenplay for “Call Me by Your Name;” “Dunkirk”for Sound;. “Cowboy Dave” won the British Short Film award.

The Special Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema was presented to the National Film and Television School (NFTS). The school has trained generations of BAFTA-nominated film talent; this year’s British Short Animation award was won by Poles Apart, which is the 13th NFTS graduation film to win a BAFTA.

The Fellowship, the highest honor the Academy can bestow, was presented to director and producer Sir Ridley Scott by HRH The Duke of Cambridge, president of BAFTA, and Sir Kenneth Branagh.

The ceremony featured performances by Cirque du Soleil and the Kanneh-Mason family.

In addition, all of the nominated short films are now available online at  https://www.curzonhomecinema.com/.

About BAFTA
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is a world-leading independent arts charity that brings the very best work in film, games and television to public attention and supports the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. Through its Awards ceremonies and year-round programme of learning events and initiatives – which includes workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes in the UK, USA and Asia – BAFTA identifies and celebrates excellence, discovers, inspires and nurtures new talent, and enables learning and creative collaboration.  For more, visit www.bafta.org.

1958-1962: Musicals, comedy, a religious drama plus a spectacular adventure win

Four of the five best picture Oscar winners between 1958-1962 were big picture productions, including two musicals. The fifth was a comedy.

Gigi, 1958, directed by Vincente Minnelli.

Thank heaven for musicals like “Gigi,” the 1958 winner of the Oscar for best  picture.

And for director Vincente Minnelli  it meant another Oscar for best picture.

The story surrounds young a Parisian girl being trained to be a “courtesan,” but finds herself drawn to a man known to be a womanizer.

The New York Times reviewer in 1958 wrote, “There won’t be much point in anybody trying to produce a film of ‘My Fair Lady’ for awhile because  (producer) Arthur Freed has virtually done it with ‘Gigi.'” Actually, “My Fa Lady” became a film and won an Oscar for best picture in 1964. More about that movie in a future post.

Aside from the similarity to “My Fair Lady,” “Gigi” was one of the first MGM films to be shot on location. The film is filled with tributes to the French lifestyle.

The memorable songs for this movie include “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” “I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore” and “I Remember It Well.”

The cast includes Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, Hermione Gingold and Eva Gabor. The screenplay’s music by Frederick Loewe and lyrics and screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner.

Other competitors for the 1958 Oscar included “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and the Defiant Ones.”

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Charlton Heston in Ben Hur

Ben Hur, 1959, directed by William Wyler

Though many watch this just for the chariot race or watch it as their Easter weekend tradition, “Ben Hur” also is a powerful, deeply religious, nearly four-hour long movie that is rich enough in detail to merit several viewings.

Although this movie is largely a Christian movie, agnostics, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, and others can find meaning in this William Wyler-directed extravaganza. It’s about learning to forgive, being loyal to one’s family, the healing power of belief and, of course, about the story of Jesus Christ as viewed by the author, and about the clashes between the Jews and the occupying Romans.

Although based on Civil War Gen. Lew Wallace’s novel, the story had previously been produced on stage (no kidding) and in films. But this version was the most spectacular yet.

For this writer growing up in Louisville, Ky., this move was such a spectacular for our family that we had to see it in one of the fancy downtown movie theaters, not one of the usual drive-ins where we could bring our beverages and homemade popcorn.  If we wanted popcorn, we would have to buy it at the Brown Theater concession stand.

The outstanding cast for this movie included Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins, Sam Jaffee, Haya Harareet, and Hugh Griffith.

Other 1959 competitors for the honor included “Anatomy of a Murder,” “The Diary of  Anne Frank” and “Room at the Top.”

The Apartment, 1960, directed by Billy Wilder.

“The Apartment,” the 1960 Academy best picture is both a comedy and a morality tale about assisting others’ infidelity.

Under the direction of “all-star” director Billy Wilder, the film involves a bachelor (Jack Lemmon) who turns over the key to his apartment to the hierarchy of his employers,  a situation he doesn’t like. When gives the key to one boss (Fred MacMurray), he finds that the woman (Shirley MacLaine) he brings is someone Lemmon’s character knows and is attracted to.

Lemmon drew high praise for his performance in this part, following his starring role in “Some Like it Hot.” A New York Times critic wrote Lemmon “takes precedence as our top comedian by virtue of his work in this film.”

This was quite a different role for MacMurray, whom some of us were just getting to know as the dad in “My Three Sons.”

Other contenders for best picture in 1960 included “The Alamo,” “Elmer Gantry” and “The Sundowners.”

West Side Story, 1961, directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins.

Academy Award winning best picture “West Side Story” is one of the best-loved musicals even by those shaking their heads at ballet-style dancing gang members.

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Loosely based on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the story is about gang and ethnic conflicts on New York City’s West Side. A ground-breaking musical, the story follows the Jets and the Sharks as they fight for their turf while Maria and Tony fight for love.

The magnificent music is by Leonard Bernstein and  Stephen Sondheim. The cast includes Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno and Russ Tamblyn.

Other films nominated for the 1916 best picture Oscar were “Fanny,” “The Hustler,” and “Judgment at Nuremberg.”

Lawrence of Arabia, 1962, David Lean

While based on a true story, David Lean’s Academy Award best-picture winning “Lawrence of Arabia” is about a descent into madness even though the basic story is a action-filled tale regarding how Brit T. E. Lawrence helped Bedouins in their battle  against the Turks during World. War I.

This spectacular movie needs to be seen on a big screen. The cinematography by David Lean’s crew is spectacular showing the beauty and terrors of the desert. It’s truly one of my favorite movies to watch, an intelligent and visual delight as nearly all of David Lean’s films were.

The descent into madness by Lawrence is exemplified by his increasingly dangerous tactics and even his seeming loss of identity. The movie is loosely based on T. E. Lawrence’s “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.” Although Lawrence is very heroic, he eventually starts to lose his British identity, takes more and more chances, wears Arab garb and takes on action in the desert that few would chance.

Lawrence is played marvelously by Peter O’Toole in his first major film. Others in this great cast include Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Omar Shariff, Anthony Quinn, Claude Rains

Films competing with this Lean masterpiece for the 1962 best picture honor included “The Longest Day,” “The Music Man” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

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Coming soon: 1963-1967, the age of “They call me Mr. Tibbs,” “The Rain in Spain” and much more.