May 3, 2017

Podcast Portal: "Top Shelf - Oscars Best Picture Winner"

Welcome to Podcast Portal: a spontaneous column that will highlight podcasts of all genres that are lesser known or new shows that are worth giving a listen. With the medium continuing to grow, it is hard to acknowledge all of them. However, I am going to try and find as many noteworthy titles as possible to share and hopefully expand your mind to the greatest growing medium out there. If you have any podcast that you feel is worth adding to the Podcast Portal, please make sure to inform me whether through the comments or through an e-mail (information in sidebar). 

SHOW: Top Shelf - Oscars Best Picture Winner
HOSTS:  Lindsay Shank, Colin Kirchner
NETWORK: Ghost-Hat Media
EPISODE BEING DISCUSSED: "#1. Moonlight (2016) "

In the history of cinema, there have been few awards as prestigious and considered as culturally relevant as the Academy Award. Many fine films have won top honors over its 89 year existence, and it has also spawned its fair share of controversy in the process. For an award that still occasionally gets debated as being useless, it's fascinating to note how much conversation each year brings. It only seems right then that a passionate group of fans would take on the challenge to watch and discuss every last one of them. It only seems right that it would be done by the people who also created shows dedicated to A.F.I.'s Top 100 and Disney's Animation Library over at Top Shelf.

Enter Lindsay Shank and Colin Kirchner. They have taken on the great task of watching every Best Picture winner. Instead of going in order from the very first order, they have decided to travel backwards, starting with 2016's winner Moonlight. Their plan, along with discussing everything, is to answer the question "Did this deserve to win Best Picture?" It only seems right that their first episode would be lobbied with one of the most fascinating years for Oscar history in recent memory. It's a story that has already become a meme. It was the year that La La Land won and then didn't win Best Picture, creating one of the most iconic moments in broadcast history, possibly ever.
It is here that the series finds its first promising feature. There's open discussion about how much the hosts loved La La Land. There was no ill will to the film. The dissection as to why it lost provides deeper truths about how the Oscars are perceived. La La Land was flashy, but Moonlight had heart. It had a story that was moving and connected with people outside of protagonist's Chiron's black and gay lifestyle. Even trivia about the filming helps to add weight as to why the film has more merit than initially perceived. Along with a brief tangent on why limited releases are annoying, the show has plenty of great energy at the start of its run.
But the question is only part of the first episode. The duo take on the task of discussing Moonlight's plot (albeit without spoilers) before diving into trivia. While the critique remains a little vague, it is understandable considering that the show also services as a primer for what's to come. The hosts spend time splitting between review and podcast information to the point that neither stand out. Still, it's promising to see Lindsay back after a two year hiatus from the A.F.I. Top 100 show where she was a delightful sidekick who gave honest opinions, regardless on how good or bad the movie was. While she falls in line with general consensus on Moonlight, she has alluded that there will be some episodes very soon where the question "Did this deserve to win Best Picture?" will lead to some tense arguing.
It should be noted that the show's first episode does have some misleading information. It has been made public since that the show will cover the subject in reverse order. For those following along, the next will be Spotlight, not How Green Was My Valley. Beyond this, the show has a solid start with plenty to offer in the way of entertaining Oscar talk. It will be fun to hear them cover the obscure winners that time has forgot, if just because their best moments come in discovery. Beyond that, the show's a welcome addition to the Top Shelf catalog, and here's hoping that the rest of the episodes continue to make for an interesting listen.




OVERALL RATING: 3.5 out of 5
WORTH A SECOND GO?: If you like discussing the Oscars, it would be a good idea to pop in whenever a movie that grabs your interest comes up. Speaking as the majority of the post-1950's winners are generally memorable, it should be quite often.

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