As reported in the The New York Times' Carpetbagger blog -
When it comes to opinions, Anthony Bourdain, the chef, Travel Channel host (“No Reservations” and “The Layover”) and author, does not beat around the bush. “I loathed ‘Midnight in Paris,’ he said by phone as he drove home from a television shoot in Manhattan. “I beyond loathed ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Twee,’ I mean, ‘Incredibly Close.’ I just hated those films so deeply.” And don’t even think about suggesting Meryl Streep for best actress.
But his admiration for “The Tree of Life,” was equally as strong. “It was just head and shoulders more ambitious than anything else on the list,” he said.
Mr. Bourdain comes from a family of “huge, huge, huge film nerds,” he said. “I grew up in a house with lush picture books about films; my parents were both very serious about them. Foreign, art, everything.” Full disclosure: Mr. Bourdain’s mother was a staff editor at The New York Times for many years.
You may ask yourself "why would The Kentucky Center care about a chef/author's Oscar picks?" Because this month, Bourdain and co-hort Eric Ripert appear in Whitney Hall for a discussion on food and culture. The event takes place Saturday night, February 18 and seats are still available. Click here for ticketing information.
2012 Oscar Ballot: Cast your votes, create your own Oscars pool and challenge your friends.
Bourdain's father worked early on at Willoughby’s Camera Emporium and “was able to rent a 16-millimeter projector and show us 16-millimeter classic films,” Mr. Bourdain recalled. “I’d seen the entire Janus Film collection by the time I was 10 or 11. François Truffaut was a hero in my house.”
He will put that knowledge to good use on April 10 as a guest programmer for Turner Classic Movies, discussing “The Searchers,” “Eyes Without a Face” and other films with Robert Osborne.
As for more modern fare, like this year’s Oscar contenders, check out Mr. Bourdain’s ballot, then read more about his preferences below in excerpts from the conversation.
Why such animosity for “Midnight in Paris”?
I just think if you’re into Djuna Barnes jokes, then this is the film for you. It’s everything bad about Woody Allen. It panders to a tiny, tiny minority. It is characters that don’t exist in real life, speaking dialogue like no one has ever spoken except in a Woody Allen film. It looked good and I guess the little History, Literature and Art 101 was impressive to somebody. If the word “elitist” didn’t exist before, now it would. I hated everything about it.
Do you tend to like more realistic stories?
You chose it for best picture.
I am seriously rooting for it. I just think it’s such a technical and ambitious film. It sends a message. Attempting something like this should be rewarded. It’s such a beautiful film by a guy who’s got it coming. It’s a transcendent film even if it’s a difficult one.
And so you picked Terrence Malick for best director.
Please, Terrence Malick. He deserves it. He should be encouraged. And I hope that if he does win, it will drive fear, terror and be an inspiration to less ambitious directors.
No Brad or George, or even Jean, for best actor? You went with a dark horse on this one.
I’d like to see Gary Oldman take this one. He’s had it coming for past great works and talk about a big job, following the footsteps of Alec Guinness.
You picked Nick Nolte, another dark horse in this race, for best supporting actor.
I’m really rooting for Nick Nolte. I thought “Warrior” was a criminally overlooked, under-attended film. I thought that there were some terrific performances in there and I thought he did really great work. The British guy, Tom Hardy, was frighteningly good. He totally transformed himself, his body. You don’t believe for one second that he’s British. He inhabits the character. You absolutely believe him.
You picked Viola Davis for best actress and Octavia Spencer for supporting actress. Are you impressed by the substantial roles for women this year?
I haven’t noticed any appreciable improvement in the general attitude. I think we had a film with a lot of great women in it but unfortunately that’s still an anomaly. I mean, look who’s nominated again: its Meryl Streep; Glenn Close. Gee, great leap forward there.
What did you think about the cooking in “The Help”?
It was good stuff. It wasn’t professional cooking. It didn’t make that much of an impression on me, honestly. I was caught up in the story.
Does watching people make food in films distract you?
I have two reactions. I’m either nodding appreciatively, as with “Eat Drink Man Woman,” where its just dead-on, beautifully staged, paced, timed preparation of meals; or move to spluttering outrage when its false or fake, like with “Frankie and Johnny.”
Do you see a lot of foreign films?
Generally, if we’re shooting in Japan, as a stylistic note for the camera crew and editors and just to kind of get into it, I will load up on films that either take place in that area or were made by filmmakers from that area.
What’s your favorite movie snack?
I’m one of these guys that’s like, don’t eat anywhere near me during a film. Do not miss the coming attractions. God, please don’t talk. But if anything, I’m a traditionalist: popcorn. And not good popcorn. I want bad popcorn with nasty grease and non-buttery butter on it.
Correction: Feb. 3, 2012
An earlier version of this post referred to Mr. Bourdain as the chef at Les Halles. He has not been active at Les Halles for several years but retains the title “chef at large.”