I had a friend named Oscar, he was nice. I miss that guy. Nice guy. Real nice guy... yeah.
When You Don’t Sleep Until 5 in the Morning…
Well, since I gave my thoughts on the Razzie Award nominees, the polar opposite side of the spectrum started rattling around in my brain with what people considered to be the best movies of last year. This led me to think about what was nominated for this year’s Oscars, seeing how they’re just around the corner. While my opinions on the nominees for the 2019 Oscars aren’t nearly as filled with irritation as the Razzie noms that I wrote about a few days ago, I still have a few things to say just because I love film so much… and I’m bored. Don’t judge me. Also, I’d like to say before I begin that, yes, I understand that the Oscars have always shown ridiculously biased behavior in their nominations and wins but I figured I’d have some fun opening a discussion on the films, filmmakers, and actors that were chosen out of 2018 to be considered the best and whether or not they deserve to be. And yes, this is pretty much subjective as all art is so I apologize if my opinion doesn’t align with yours. But that’s the beauty here, if you disagree then comment down below and let’s chat about it! Now with that said, let’s get into this.
- My Thoughts on the 2019 Razzie Award Nominees
I have a bone to pick with the Razzie Award nominations for this year and this is my rant on that!
I’m not going to lie, I really dug Black Panther a lot. In terms of Marvel films I’d say that it ranks fairly high for me amongst the rest of the long line-up that they’ve released in the last eleven years now. It’s funny to me how far comic book flicks have come in the last few decades; before being considered as nothing more than light kids fair and now one is up for ‘Best Picture’ at the Academy Awards? Wow. That is certainly quite the accomplishment. But is the Ryan Coogler directed comic book venture worthy of the nomination? That’s difficult to say. On one hand the film brings up important and interesting themes involving, not only race, but foreign aid. In what capacity is a country or government obligated to help people in need outside of own homeland? There are arguments brought up that support both sides on whether it is best to help victims in need no matter where or to keep the focus on the people within your territory. The film even explores how far the support can go before it becomes too far. All wrapped inside this very fun and exciting action packed story with likable heroes as well as one of Marvel’s best villains to date in the form of Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger, who supplies a very human and three dimensional character while still being very intimidating. The cinematography is stunning and the special effects are, for the most part, well done and even creative. However, the film does hold its fair share of flaws; some of the heroes aren’t as deeply developed or entertaining as the villains which resulted in somewhat of an imperfect balance, sometimes making me relatively uninterested in what was going on with the protagonists as I preferred Killmonger’s storyline. There are times where the CGI did not look good, particularly in the third act when it became overwhelmingly filled with computer imagery and it looked pretty cartoonish. Overall, I do enjoy Black Panther and will defend it as probably being one of Marvel Studio’s best even though I personally probably wouldn’t have chosen it as a ‘Best Picture’ contender. Although I will say that I do understand why it was chosen and I honestly am not the least bit upset that it was nominated. It has enough fantastic qualities about it and is a smartly crafted film that I can see the justification for it being in the running. Was it only nominated because it was such a huge success financially and critically while being extremely popular with the general audience? Most likely. Does the film still at least hold its own with containing real substance worthy of ‘Best Picture’? I think it does.
I honestly loved BlacKkKlansman; I thought the film was suspenseful, funny, and held a much needed mirror up about racism. Racism can be a scary and devastating thing, as seen through the true events that transpired in this story taking place in the mid-1970s. But it also shows that racism sadly far from being a thing of the past as what happened back then are still relevant to this day. I thought BlacKkKlansman was a brilliant cop thriller and I routed for these two leads, played by John David Washington and Adam Driver, to make it out of every intensity filled scenario they found themselves in during their undercover investigation. To me, this was like watching a film like Serpico again for the first time because the film is intense and simply cool with its style. But oddly enough I didn’t actually think that it would be nominated for ‘Best Picture’. I can’t exactly say as to why it didn’t cross my mind since this film even made it in my top ten favorites from 2018, but when I saw that most people’s reception of the film was basically “it’s okay” I guess I sort of knocked it out of the running in my mind. But here it is now! Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that it was nominated, but I’m a little surprised too. Maybe the film went over better than I realized. So does the movie deserve the nomination? I like to think so. It has poignant and relevant themes that are intelligently interwoven in a heart pounding suspense thrill ride with terrific lead characters that you route to stay alive. Filmmaking wise, the camera work and editing are ambitious and stylish in a way that was reminiscent of a cool 1970s era approach. The dialog is witty and clever and I was thoroughly entertained the entire runtime. So, yes, I think BlacKkKlansman deserves the Oscar nom.
Oh boy… okay. I don’t know where to start with this. I thought Bohemian Rhapsody was fine. I liked it just fine. Nothing necessarily bad about it. The film served its purpose as a decent enough form of entertainment with a killer soundtrack and a strong performance by Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. But does that mean I think that it deserves to be nominated for ‘Best Picture’… God, no! I’m sorry, I had an alright time with that movie and I don’t regret seeing it at all but that film is so far from perfect that it’s laughable why it’s even in here with the rest. For me, the story was the weakest part about it. There is no story arc, it is simply a point by point biopic. Getting its characters from point A to point B because that’s just what happened in the actually lives of these people. There never feels like any real through line we follow in the film, it is simply ‘and then this happens, and then this happens, and then this happens’ rather than what a good script will do which is craft a story that will create scenarios that cause the next scene to happen which causes the next plot point to happen which causes the next thing to happen, etc. It feels disconnected and never truly matters what happens next because we’ll move onto the next thing regardless of what happens in the last scene. That to me is a major problem that resulted in a film that was simply ‘alright’ rather than anything all that spectacular. I will say that there were good moments scattered throughout the movie and the last twenty minutes that took place at a monumental concert in Queen’s career was certainly really good. But that doesn’t make up for the lack of a story arc. I want to feel like I am on this journey was this guy, not that I’m simply watching a writer make this guy’s life into a series of tally marks. With this same actor (Malek) and a much stronger writer, and maybe less production hell, Bohemian Rhapsody could have been great. As it is, it’s fine. Not terrible, not even bad, just fine. But that doesn’t scream ‘Best Picture’ material to me.
My Review of Bohemian Rhapsody
- Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Movie Review
The story of the legendarily praised band Queen and its lead singer Freddy Mercury... which seems to be relatively generic.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw The Favourite was actually nominated for ‘Best Picture’. In my head I was thinking, “There’s no way, was there coincidentally another movie from 2018 called The Favourite?” I didn’t expect it at all. I mean, I freaking loved The Favourite. Again, it was one of my favorite films to come out of last year, but it was such a bizarrely realized world full of ‘in your face’ sexual debauchery that I didn’t think that it would even be a runner up for ‘Best Picture’. But I am extremely ecstatic over the fact that it was nominated. This a hilarious comedy full of biting satire on government and the privileged life along with sharp dialog that cracked like a whip with every line. The three lead actress (Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, and Olivia Colman) are phenomenal with fantastic chemistry between each other as they deliver some of the greatest insults I’ve ever heard to one another. The costume and set designs were gorgeous, the cinematography was stunning with unique use of the wide angle lens, and the film as a whole was a perfect blend of Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and Tinto Brass’s Caligula. I adored every minute of it and I couldn’t get enough. I supposed it isn’t all that far fetched to see a period piece like The Favourite be included in the roster, however I thought that period piece would have been Mary Queen of Scots instead. While I didn’t get around to seeing that movie, I’m so glad The Favourite was nominated instead. I’m biased here, but I thoroughly would love to see this film win ‘Best Picture’ at the Oscars. It has clever commentary on government and the rich, as well as what it’s worth to get some of that wealth and power. Sex is used to heighten this reality to unpredictable levels and create some pretty fun insanity on screen. I think it is worthy of the nomination and even winning the title.
My Review of The Favourite
- 'The Favourite' (2018) Movie Review
Set in early 18th century England, Abigail enters the Queen's domain to become a servant in assistance to her cousin, Sarah, who is governing the country as the Queen has fallen ill. During Abigail's stay, things between the three grow to be complica
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If Roma wins ‘Best Picture’ I will not be the least bit surprised because it is basically the type of film that every arthouse critic falls head over heels for. A slow moving period piece exploring a ‘slice of life’ story focusing on a year’s worth of time centering on a woman going through her own personal obstacles with a very realistic tone, yet filled with bittersweet poetry in its dialog and is completely shot in black and white with expert photography. Yep. Hell, if Roma doesn’t win I’ll be shocked. From what I’ve said so far, one may be under the impression that I didn’t care for Roma all that much. On the contrary, I rather loved Roma. I’m simply pointing out that this is exactly the kind of movie that is most likely to win is all and I wouldn’t blame anyone for voting on this one. It is a very good film with gorgeous scenery and emotional impactful moments as it feels like we are truly getting a glimpse into this woman’s life for approximately a year. There’s nothing about it that feels like a movie, this was like watching a secret documentary because everything about it feels that authentic and real. The attention to detail in the background is astonishing and there are scenes that made my heart drop because they were so powerful. The look of the film is beyond stunning. This made it on my top twenty favorites of last year and for good reason, because it’s a beautiful story that feels particularly personal. There wasn’t a film quite like Roma released in 2018 and I respect the hell out of it. So yes, I believe it deserves the nomination and I’m fairly positive that it will be most likely to win ‘Best Picture’. Would it be my personal choice to win? Probably not, only because there were other films that were nominated that impacted me more and even some that weren’t nominated. However, I don’t think that should take away from the fact that Roma is a ‘New Hollywood’ era styled epic in some of the best ways. I’ve enjoyed every film director Alfonso Cuarón has done so far and I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Everyone seemed to fall completely in love with Green Book, to an extent I can see why. The two lead characters played by Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are extremely likable and share fantastic chemistry together onscreen with their very humorous back and forth with one another. And the film itself is entirely harmless, supplying a crowd pleasing story that is played safe for general audiences. So I get it, Green Book is wholesome entertainment so pretty much the whole family can get together and have a decent time with. I did like the movie, I thought that it was funny and I had a fine time with it. But I never fell in love with Green Book like the rest of the world. I never considered this to be greatness or even something that should be up for awards, but am I surprised that it was nominated? No, not really. This type of movie has been nominated for years now. I don’t think that it’s necessarily bad that Green Book was nominated since the movie overall is good, I just personally don’t think that it deserves ‘Best Picture’ status recognition. The film plays everything way too safe for me to ever consider this to be one of the best of the year. I feel like a film should push boundaries or perform and execute itself with the highest degree of talent and ambition before I would call it ‘Best Picture’ material. Green Book isn’t bad, but it is just fine. Everything about it is just fine; the writing, direction, acting and cinematography is all completely fine. Nothing groundbreaking or provocative being done here, it is just done competently enough to supply a decent amount of entertainment. That’s totally fine, but I wish that this type of movie would stop being praised as masterpieces when they’re simply ‘good’. I don’t hate this movie and I’m not really upset that it was nominated, because at the end of the day it’s still a decent flick. I simply would have preferred something with a little more teeth and substance to have taken the spotlight instead, something like Blindspotting which I thought dealt with similar themes and story elements way more interestingly and original than Green Book but oh well. Am I going to lose any sleep over this? No. Will I be irritated if it actually wins ‘Best Picture’? Probably, but I’ll get over it in a matter of seconds. So does Green Book deserve the nom, in my opinion? Not really, but I understand as to why it was picked at least.
My Review of Green Book
- 'Green Book' (2018) Movie Review
Tony Lip is a wise guy Italian living in 1960s New York City working as a bouncer. Until Dr. Don Shirley, an African-American classical pianist, hires him as his personal driver to cover a tour in the South where it is not very safe for the black com
A Star Is Born
I was blubbering like a baby after watching A Star Is Born so I am 100% on board with this being a nominee for ‘Best Picture’. Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut proved himself to be one unbelievably talented director by creating one of the best remakes I have ever seen here. What Cooper does in front of and behind the camera is nothing short of inspiring because he gives this movie his all and it definitely shows in every frame. His performance is hypnotic and the romantic chemistry he shares with his co-lead (Lady GaGa) is lightning in a bottle, they are truly electric together as it is completely believable that these two fall madly in love with each other while the audience falls in love with them simultaneously. They are just that good of a duo and the music written for A Star Is Born is utterly fantastic as every song is performed with such passion and progresses the story in unique and clever ways. So, yes, I certainly understand and support this film in its nomination for ‘Best Picture’. If it were to win I would be insanely giddy about it because I do believe that this earns the trophy. Out of all of the nominees here I would say that A Star Is Born is probably my favorite out of them all, but I also won’t be surprised that this won’t win either. Which is sad to me, but given that this is Bradley Cooper’s first ever directed film and with certain other nominees in the running, I feel that there will be an unfair bias that keeps his movie from winning over the Academy. It sucks, but that’s the reality of it. Will I be pissed off if this loses? No. In all honesty, the Oscars have always been questionable at best with their decisions so why would this be a shock that A Star Is Born loses out to another? I love it with all my heart, but unfortunately the quality of a film doesn’t win at the Academy Awards, it’s usually the politics. And I’ve accepted that a long time ago.
My Review of A Star Is Born
- "A Star Is Born" (2018) Movie Review
When a drug addicted and alcoholic musician, Jackson Maine, discovers an up and coming singer, Ally, in a bar one night, he finds a rekindled passion in his music as they slowly fall for one another. From there, he must battle his own demons while sh
Vice was a really good time at the movies, no question. Should this have been nominated though? I’m not sure, but I don’t really have any qualms with it being nominated either. It is smart, funny and the acting is top notch; especially by Christian Bale who does a remarkable job portraying Dick Cheney. Vice does an incredible job humanizing this man while also never shying away from the fact that he is a monster that has done some pretty terrible things in his lifetime, but the movie always makes sure that the viewer understands exactly why Cheney does the things that he does. The film also intelligently breaks down politics so it can discuss it in a much more digestible way for the general audience, which is great since I don’t know the first thing about politics, however in Vice I wasn’t lost once. It’s something I really appreciate about Adam McKay’s direction. The editing is also a blast to witness in its kinetic energy sprinkled throughout. My only gripes with the film would be that sometimes it feels like a little bit of a mess in its story arc since there is so much of this man’s life that needs to be crammed into approximately two hours, yet what they manage to do is impressive for sure. I liked the movie, didn’t love it, but I liked it and I can get behind it enough to say I get why it was nominated for ‘Best Picture’. Would I have given the spot to something else? Maybe. But I wouldn’t say that Vice doesn’t deserve the nom either. Vice does a lot right and merits some positive recognition for that.
My only thing that I feel a need to add about this section is my confusion about how Bradley Cooper was not nominated for ‘Best Director’ while his film was nominated for ‘Best Picture’? That’s partially what I meant earlier while discussing A Star Is Born, that there will be some bias against Cooper since this is his directorial debut, but to snub him on a ‘Best Director’ nomination just seems needlessly cruel. Granted, I did not get a chance to see Pawel Pawlikowski’s work with his latest feature Cold War, so I can’t truly determine whether or not he deserved the pick more than Cooper. However, the fact that Cooper’s film was chosen in the running for ‘Best Picture’ yet someone else who was not nominated in that category took his place for ‘Best Director’ seems rather odd to me. So what you’re telling me is that Cold War was so expertly directed that it didn’t deserve the ‘Best Picture’ nomination, but A Star Is Born didn’t have enough of a strong direction even though it was nominated for ‘Best Picture’? Am I getting this right, Academy? I feel like I’m missing something here. But then again, like I said, politics over quality. So I guess I’ll never understand what happened here. Other than that, I believe the rest of the nominees are perfectly deserving of the title for ‘Best Director’.
All the Rest
Honestly, I don’t have a whole lot to say about the rest of the categories. Either I’ve discussed them enough in my ‘Best Picture’ section or I don’t have much else to add other than, “yes, they did a good job and totally deserve the nomination”. I don’t have much else to contribute to the discussion for ‘Best Actor/Actress/Supporting/Etc.’. I must say that every actor nominated this year did a terrific job and brought their characters to life the best that they could. Even though I have my issues with Bohemian Rhapsody being nominated for ‘Best Picture’, I don’t have any problem with Rami Malek being nominated for ‘Best Actor’ because he did a great job in his efforts to bringing Freddie Mercury back to life in his role. Unfortunately there are some nominations I did miss out on such as Glen Close’s performance in The Wife, Willem Dafoe for At Eternity’s Gate, and Melissa McCarthy and Richard Grant’s work in Can You Ever Forgive Me? to name a few.
I will say that I do have another bit of confusion about some of the nominations for ‘Best Actress’ and ‘Best Supporting Actress’. Not that I don’t believe that these women I’m about to mention deserve to be nominated, in fact I would love to see them win, but it seems to me like in this particular case the nominations are reversed. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were nominated for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ while Olivia Colman was nominated for ‘Best Actress’, which to me seems slightly odd because when I watched their film (The Favourite) it came across as Stone and Weisz were the leads while Colman was the supporting character. Or at the very least they were all equal co-leads. If I remember correctly I think there may be some rule with the Academy that only one actor/actress can be nominated from a movie for the lead role? Maybe they organized the nominations to where the co-leads were listed as supporting and gave the third lead the ‘Best Actress’ nom so they could all be nominated. Maybe? Correct me if I’m wrong on that though. But it just was an odd little thing I had noticed. I’m glad that they were all nominated and I think they even could win, I just had trouble understanding the mindset of what they were nominated for is all.
Also, this will come across as random, but I don’t care. If Sam Elliot does not win for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ then I might lose my sh*t because that man is a national treasure and dammit he made me cry in the last two movies I’ve seen him in! So as God as my witness, Oscars, if you don’t give him that award I will cut you! Nothing against the rest of the men in the category, but Sam Elliot earned the hell out of that award and he deserves to go home with it. Please, please give him the award. I’m begging you… I’ll do things for you… things that I will regret forever, but is for a noble cause. So Sam Elliot can win ‘Best Supporting Actor’… that’s not silly at all.
Alright, I need to get this off of my chest and list what I consider to be some of the best that 2018 had to offer yet was completely snubbed even receiving a nomination for their rightful place in the Oscars this year. I don’t necessarily mean the films that I simply call my favorite from last year and therefore should have been nominated. I completely understand why films like Upgrade, Annihilation, Creed II, Hereditary, or Mission Impossible: Fallout weren’t nominated for ‘Best Picture’. But why not First Man? Seriously, that is sheer ‘New Hollywood’ 1970s epic filmmaking with strong performances from Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy that surprisingly went unnoticed at the Academy. It was ambitiously well made with unbelievable cinematography, the story has a solid three act structure, there were sequences that were bone chilling and emotionally riveting, and the musical score was terrific. Yet First Man was not nominated for ‘Best Picture’ or ‘Best Cinematography’. That to me seems like a crime and I don’t quite understand why it wasn’t nominated to be perfectly honest. It was a faithful biopic that delved into Neil Armstrong’s journey to travel to the moon while getting an personal glimpse into his home life. There isn’t a weak link about the film. Thankfully it was nominated for ‘Best Sound Edited/Mixing’ as well as ‘Best Production Design’ and ‘Best Visual Effects’, which rightfully so. But it’s a shame that a ‘paint by numbers’ biopic like Bohemian Rhapsody somehow manages to snag a nom for ‘Best Picture’ while First Man is given the scraps. Seems unfair to me.
My Review of First Man
- 'First Man' (2018) Movie Review
For many years, we strived to travel to the moon. This is the story of the man who succeeded in that mission and made the first step on the moon's surface. But in order to accomplish that goal, it took many failures to get it all right for Neil Armst
Now in terms of visual effects, I can see the justification for most of what was nominated as the ‘best’ for this year with the exception of Ready Player One. I’m sorry, but what? How did that get in there? Who’s trying to suck off Steven Spielberg with a ‘Best Visual Effects’ nomination since he didn’t come up for ‘Best Picture’ instead? Seriously? I actually think I was one of the few people that enjoyed Ready Player One, but the visual effects were ‘fine’ at best. Just because there’s a lot of special effects in a movie, doesn’t mean that qualifies them as the best. That spot could have easily gone towards a film more deserving, such as Annihilation, that had some breathtaking effects work that could have easily fit inside of the Academy Awards in that section. But they went with Ready Player One, really? Okay. Granted there were some cool sequences in Ready Player One thanks to the CGI work accomplished, but I still don’t think it quite hit the mark to be considered as perfect.
If I were to make a guess for what and who will win at the Oscars this year, these would be my best bets.
Best Picture: Roma
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)
Best Actress: Glen Close (The Wife) [Even though I haven’t seen the film, it’s just a hunch]
Best Actor: Christian Bale (Vice)
Best Supporting Actress: Marina de Tavira (Roma) or Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Green Book) but HOPEFULLY Sam Elliot (A Star Is Born)
Best Original Screenplay: Roma or Vice
Best Adapted Screenplay: BlacKkKlansman
Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Mary Queen of Scots
Best Costume Design: Mary Queen of Scots or The Favourite
Best Cinematography: Roma
Best Original Song: “Shallow” (A Star Is Born)
Best Original Score: Mary Poppins Returns
Best Documentary Feature: I sadly did not get to see any of the nominees here so I can’t really comment on which I think could win.
Best Animated Feature: Incredibles 2 or Isle of Dogs
Best Foreign-Language Film: The only film I saw in this category was Roma so I don’t think it would be fair for me to comment here either.
Best Sound Mixing: First Man
Best Sound Editing: Bohemian Rhapsody
Best Production Design: Black Panther or Mary Poppins Returns
Best Visual Effects: Avengers: Infinity War
Best Film Editing: Vice
Best Animated Short: Bao (Because Pixar)
And the last two categories for ‘Best Live-Action Short’ and ‘Best Documentary Short’ I cannot speak for and so I don’t have an opinion on which could win. But in terms of what I did select, those would be my best guesses on what might win the Oscars. I could totally be wrong, in fact, I probably am on the majority of my choices. Sometimes the Academy throws a curve ball like Bohemian Rhapsody in there and I have no clue where things could go. That’s going to be it for my take on the 2019 Oscar Nominees. So yeah, as usual, the Oscars have missed the mark here and there due to their pretention but that’s nothing new. There were certainly some great hits with what was nominated and there were some disappointments as well. As with any year with the Academy Award runners, but like any year I’m always curious to see what will win and what will be left in the dust.
If you liked what I had to say here then please do me a little favor and share this article around the social media world. Also, please be sure to comment down below to share with me your thoughts on the Oscar contenders for this year and what your favorite films of 2018 were! I’d love to hear what you have to say. Thank you for reading and have yourself a pleasant day.
My Favorite Films of 2018
- Best Films of 2018
My 20 personal favorite picks out of 200 films I saw that were released from 2018.
Did the Academy get it right this year?
© 2019 John Plocar
N B Yomi from Dallas, TX on July 18, 2019:
Finally read this.... I don't know won the nominations, I'mma look that up later. But I'm not shocked that I haven't heard of The Favorites or Roma. But as far as Oscar nominations, that's better than it usually is, since I'm normally unfamiliar or haven't seen four or five of the best picture nominees.
John Plocar (author) from Weatherford on February 06, 2019:
Haha good point, I think because her only roles out of the year were extended cameos at best, the Academy played it safe and didn't nominate her in those. Although one of those movies was nominated for Best Costume Design, so I bet they'll use the hell out of an image of her in her costume for that at the awards.
Royce Proctor Jr from Dallas, Texas on February 06, 2019:
I think the biggest surprise here is that the Academy couldn't find an excuse this year to nominate Meryl Streep.
John Plocar (author) from Weatherford on February 03, 2019:
Thank you! I really appreciate that!! =D I tried lol
Neil Gregory from England on February 03, 2019:
Nice roundup of all the films and good article!
John Plocar (author) from Weatherford on February 02, 2019:
Brian, I'm glad that I could help you out! I saw "If Beale Street Could Talk" and I enjoyed it, I thought it was a pretty good flick. I had some minor issues with it, but overall I would recommend the movie.
I've written some short film scripts, but have only dabbled here and there in the idea of anything feature length.
Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on February 02, 2019:
John, I think this article gives me a pretty good idea of the quality to expect if I see any of the films discussed. I'm most interested in seeing "If Beale Street Could Talk", because I'm a James Baldwin fan.
You seem knowledgeable about screenplay structure. Is writing screenplays an avocation of yours?