2015 Animated Oscars: Did the Right Film Win?

I’m very excited to announce my next video reviewing the Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature Film is up!  I have reviewed every year from 2001-2015.  Here’s the entire playlist and the Animated Oscars Tag videos people have done.   It’s a long video, so perhaps a good one to listen while doing another task.  If you like it please give it a thumbs up.  Thanks!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7wz447AgL4x2fxnrGhVdu-6ZZa8v18Vl

Here are my base thoughts on each of the nominees.

boy and the world poster2Boy and the World-

A beautiful hand drawn animated film by Ale Abreu that tells the story of a little boy looking for his father.  Using basically no dialogue Abreu creates a kaleidoscope of colors and textures as the boy ventures into the city and confronts war, waste, commercialism and fear.  Sometimes it can be heavy handed and a bit self-indulgent but it’s also bright, colorful and fun.  The music is infectious and will make you smile.

anomalisaAnomalisa-

A somewhat cynical yet thought provoking stop motion animated film from Charlie Kaufman for adults. The animation is fluid and smooth as it focuses on a man named Michael who has become disenfranchised with the people in his life.  Everyone looks, behaves and even sounds the same.  Then he meets Lisa who is different and this excites him.  Some of the adult content I felt was distracting from what really made Lisa special. We could have dug deeper but instead we get superficial differences like a scar or voice. Still, it will definitely make you think and if you can handle the content worth a watch.

inside out3Inside Out-

I don’t know how I could say more about this film.  It was my favorite film of 2015 and it is rapidly becoming one of my favorite animated films of all time.  I have found myself watching it most weeks since I got it on blu-ray.  There’s just something about the dual stories of Riley and Joy that doesn’t age for me.  It improves each time I see it.  I love the humor, visual splendor, and heart.  The end when Riley admits to her parents ‘I miss home’ is perfect.  Joy’s journey when she finally realizes that happiness requires sadness is equally strong.  Perfection from Pixar.

shaun the sheep posterShaun the Sheep-

A delight from the team at Aardman.  A spin off from the TV show (which is great and you can watch on Amazon Prime) Shaun is tired of his boring routine and wants a day off.  So him and his friends go to the big city and have an adventure.  It has the spirit of a silent comedy with minimal dialogue and some great visual jokes.  I loved when the Farmer becomes a barber to the stars.  It’s a sweet, simple, endearing film.  And of course, the animation is wonderful as is usually the case from Aardman.  I wish more people in US saw their great films.

when marnie9When Marnie was There-

This film really impacted me emotionally.  Seeing the journey of Anna as she struggles with deep depression and her family’s effort to save her is very beautiful.  The main message is that we all have love in our lives.  The key is recognizing that love, both here on earth and from those who have passed on.  We all have love, and that love has power to rescue.  The animation is stunning.  I particularly loved the sound mixing and how lush everything felt.  The ending may not work for everyone but I thought it was pure truth. Great way for Studio Ghibli to go out. The music and song by Priscilla Ahn is gorgeous.

————————————

So 5 wonderful films!  It’s funny looking over these 5 nominees I feel 2015 is a bit of a an underrated year.  It certainly was a diverse year especially when you consider 2 very strong films, Peanuts Movie and Good Dinosaur, that were not nominated.  And how amazing is it to have a year with only 1 CG film nominated for Best Animated Feature Film.  2014 only had 2. Take that 2D animation is dead crowd! 😉

Anyway, I think you guys know Inside Out is the clear winner in my books; although, I think all 5 are quality films.  As I said earlier, Inside Out is a game changer for me.  A film I will never forget.

What about you?  What do you think of the nominees and do you think the right film won?

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2016 Oscar Nominated Short Reviews

I’ve been wanting to do this post for some time but I had a hard time finding 2 of the nominated animated shorts for this years Oscars.  I finally was able to watch them all and thought I would give you my thoughts.

animated shorts5Bear Story

Coming out of Chili by director Gabriel Osorio Vargas Bear Story is about a bear who builds diorama’s kind of like what we saw in Hugo.  He is a lonely bear and tells the story of that loneliness through the diorama.  The animation is beautiful with a heavy steampunk feel to it.

Basically the story is the bear is taken from his family to perform in the circus.  You get that sadness mixed in with the fun of the circus. Each scene is layered with movement and details.  It is extremely charming.

Overall Grade B+

animated shorts1Prologue

Animator Richard Williams vision of ancient warfare is definitely a unique nominee.  It is done using a pencil, hand drawn style and the animation is quite striking.  When it focuses on a characters eyes or face it reminded me of a lithograph or an etching.

However, this film is ADULTS ONLY!  I am not being quaint or hesitant when I say that.  It is extremely bloody and  the nudity is graphic and repeated.  For a short that is just over 5 minutes it is kind of astonishing how R rated it could be!

Evidently it is accurate to ancient warriors for them to fight naked (who knew?) but there really isn’t any story here that I could see at least.  It is people brutally killing each other and then at the end a girl stands in shock over the blood.  I guess that is a message about war but not particularly inventive or thought provoking in my opinion.

Maybe we will learn more in future episodes? It is called Prologue after all

Overall Grade- C-

animated shorts44We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos is out of Russia and directed and written by Konstantin Bronzit.  It may not have the most stunning animation but the story makes up for any failings in that department.

It is 2D animation in the style of TV animation like The Simpsons, and tells the story of 2 best friends who dream of becoming cosmonauts.  It starts with them in training and they joyously complete every task.  At one point they even leap off of their beds trying to get a feeling of zero gravity.

I don’t want to spoil it for you but suffice it to say I love stories of friendship and this one had my heart. It is very sweet and lovely.

Overall Grade- A

animated shorts2World of Tomorrow

Oh boy…how do I explain World of Tomorrow?  To be honest Don Hertzfeldt’s sci-fi study of human nature makes me feel kind of dumb.  I’ve seen it a lot and I still don’t really get it.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing but did it need to be quite so obtuse?  I guess for Don’s artistic vision it did.

Basically it is about a little girl named Emily who receives a video transmission of a clone version of herself from the future.  This clone takes Little Emily into her current world where they have a land called ‘the Outernet’.

Clone Emily then takes Little Emily through different memories and then tells her that the earth will be destroyed by a meteoroid. Then Clone Emily reveals she came to see Little Emily to retrieve a memory she had forgotten.  She hopes this memory will be comforting for the end of the world.

So there you have it.  The main message is we should focus on the important stuff. That when the end comes the trivial will dissolve and only the most special memories will remain.  Technology  obscures the hear and now and makes us focus only on the fluff.

Clone Emily says

“Do not lose time on daily trivialities. Do not dwell on petty detail. For all of these things melt away and drift apart within the obscure traffic of time. Live well and live broadly. You are alive and living now. Now is the envy of all of the dead.”

The animation is brilliant and different in World of Tomorrow and I think it will win, and it is probably deserved.  On one hand I like it is layered and tricky to decipher it’s meaning, but I think it goes a little too far in that department, to the point of ostracizing me a bit as a viewer.  It’s great but I still don’t love it like some people do.

That said Overall Grade- A

animated shorts3

Sanjay’s Super Team

I have already done a whole blog post on Sanjay’s Super Team.  This is Pixar’s offering (Lava was actually submitted in 2014).  Everyone seems to think it is shoe-in for Sanjay to win this category but I did some research and Pixar actually doesn’t have a great track record here.  They haven’t won since 2001!  Even something like La Luna (my favorite Pixar short) was beat by Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore which is completely charming so I get it.  The academy seems to like to reward smaller studios in animated short category.

Anyway, Sanjay’s Super Team is directed by Sanjay Patel and it is inspired by his childhood growing up as an American boy with Hindu observant parents.  The story is little Sanjay is watching his favorite superhero show when his father is praying and meditating.  His father insists he join him and Sanjay starts out bored but imagines the Hindu Gods as superheroes.

It is a beautiful film about how a meeting of the minds can occur and generations can understand each other better.  The animation is bright and colorful, some of Pixar’s best, and the lesson Sanjay learns is very sweet.  He see’s that maybe his Dad’s crazy ideas aren’t so bad after all.

Overall Grade- A+

 

My thoughts on all 5.  Prologue is too R rated for me and lacks a good story so it is my least favorite. The other 4 I like a lot, even if World of Tomorrow makes my head hurt.  I would probably order them

  1. Sanjay’s Super Team
  2. We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
  3. World of Tomorrow
  4. Bear Story
  5. Prologue

Have you had a chance to see the animated shorts? I would love your thoughts. Which do you like the best? Do you think World of Tomorrow will win or are you pulling for another choice?

45 Years Review

45 years-4It’s funny I went to the theater tonight and scores of people were coming out of Deadpool with smiles on their faces.  I’m sure they had a great time and that’s awesome. I instead went to see 45 Years and I was alone in the theater and came out literally sobbing.  Quite the contrast! But I wager to say in 10 years my experience will be the more memorable one. Suffice it to say, I have a new entry in my Best Movies of 2015.

45 years-245 Years is a very simple movie.  It tells the story of a week in the life of a couple before they celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.  On day 1 Geoff, the husband, played by Tom Courtenay, gets a letter in German informing him that the body of the love of his youth has been found and he can come and claim it.

Kate, the wife, played brilliantly by Charlotte Rampling, is aware of the relationship but is surprised when the news is so impactful upon her husband.  She starts to wonder if there was a side to this old relationship she never knew about? Has her husband of 45 years been honest with her?  Was she the 2nd choice over his true love? All of these questions are asked by Kate as the days unwind.

45 years-3I think what made this movie so particularly moving for me is Kate reminds me so much of my beloved Grandmother.  She is one of my best friends but in the last 2 years her health has not been well and it is difficult for her to talk on the phone.  This has made talking to her quite difficult since we live in different states.  Watching this movie made me realize how much I miss my Grandma.

45 years-5Even Charlotte Rampling’s look and disposition reminds me of my Grandma. I loved the way she had her life ordered and was a bright light to all in her circle.  When she finds out her husband hasn’t been completely honest with her the devastation is so palatable.  You can see it in Rampling’s whole body not just her face.  I wanted to give her a hug.

If it hadn’t been so late I would have called my Grandma right after and told her I loved her.  I’m going to do it tomorrow. That’s the kind of emotion this movie evoked in me.  I was literally sobbing.  I just love my Grandma so much.

45 yearsI know what it feels like for people you love to come out of nowhere with news and to have to absorb it as best you can,  so I related to that storyline as well.  I related to having to come to grips when you thought the person you loved was one way and turns out to be another.  There is nothing harder than that in my opinion.

Some will probably find this boring.  It’s kind of like Boyhood in the way it is just about a week in the life of this couple.  Some people don’t like that kind of movie.  Some may not like the somewhat ambiguous ending, but I thought it was pure truth.  It may be the best movie I’ve ever seen about marriage.  That’s not hyperbole.  It’s really how I felt.

45 years-6Tom Courtenay is also wonderful in the role.  You want to hate him for the dishonesty and the pain he is causing Kate but you can also see why he left the past in the past. It felt authentic and real to the way such a man would behave. We all know older men like Geoff.

I’m not saying don’t see Deadpool.  Go see it.  Have some laughs if the content is your thing, but make time in your schedule to see a film that something to say about life.  Make time to see 45 Years. It was a stunning film and I’m so glad Charlotte Rampling was nominated for best actress. She is much better than either Cate Blanchett in Carol or Brie Larsen in Room.

The rest of the supporting cast is wonderful and gives the entire experience a lived in feel.  It seems like a real group of friends, a real community that surrounds Geoff and Kate.

Props to director Andrew Haigh for his tremendous achievement.  I loved this movie and I encourage all of you to see it.

As far as content it is rated R but it is a pretty mild R.  There are a few F words and one mild scene of sensuality between the couple.

Overall Grade- A+

My youtube review:

My Oscar Predictions, Snubs and Silly Noms

86th Annual Academy Awards - Red CarpetIt’s like a rite of passage in film community that you’ve got to give your Oscar predictions.  I am also going to note the snubs and nominations I think are nonsense. I will say I a notoriously awful at this so don’t put too much money on my predictions.

Best Picture- I have seen all of the nominees and I  think The Revenant will win. 

Out of this list I think Spotlight is leagues above the rest.  I’d order them like- Spotlight, The Martian, Brooklyn, Mad Max Fury Road, The Big Short, Room, The Revenant, Bridge of Spies. 

I would have nominated Inside Out for best picture as I think it was the most emotional (forgive the pun) and innovative film of the year. I also think Carol and Ex-Machina would have been worthy entries (and of course I love Star Wars: The Force Awakens but who are we kidding.  It didn’t stand a chance of being nominated).

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant (will win)

Room

Spotlight (dark horse)

Best Director- I think Inarritu will win for The Revenant because the academy loves him and the movie was hard to make (so are lots of movies.  That doesn’t mean it deserves to win. I mean Mad Max was a nightmare to make).  

Dark horse is George Miller who would be my pick. 

I would have loved to see Pete Docter in here for Inside Out (no, all my snubs won’t be for Inside Out).  I think Todd Haynes not getting nominated for Carol was a real snub.

Adam McKay, The Big Short

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road- dark horse

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant (will win)

Lenny Abrahamson, Room

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Best Actor- I haven’t seen Danish Girl or Trumbo. I think Leonardo DiCaprio will win for The Revenant and I am fine with that.

I am fine with the list although I loved Michael B Jordan in Creed.

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (will win)

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs (dark horse)

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Best Actress- I haven’t seen 45 Years but the rest are great performances.  It’s a race between Brie Larson and Cate Blanchett.  Oscar loves Blanchett and she is great in Carol. But Oscar also loves to honor new performers in this category so I say Brie Larson will win.  

Charlize Theron in Mad Max Fury Road and Carey Mulligan in Far From the Maddening Crowd would have been nice to see.

Cate Blanchett, Carol- dark horse

Brie Larson, Room (will win)

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Best Supporting Actor- Great list. I think Sylvester Stallone will win. 

Mark Rylance from Bridge of Spies is the dark horse and I’d be ok with him winning even though wasn’t nuts for the film. Mark Ruffalo would be my pick for Spotlight.

Idris Elba from Beasts of No Nation is the snub I’ve heard about but I have not see the film. Also Steve Carrell should have been nominated not Christian Bale for The Big Short.

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies- dark horse

Sylvester Stallone, Creed (will win)

Best Supporting Actress- I have not seen Danish Girl or Hateful Eight.  I’m still going with Kate Winslet for the win with strong chance of Rooney Mara for Carol.  She’s good but it’s not a supporting performance.  Winslet is so good in Steve Jobs.

Only real snub is I think Alicia Vikander should have been nominated for Ex-Machina.

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol- dark horse

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs (will win)

Best Original Screenplay- I haven’t seen Straight Outta Compton. I clearly would pick Inside Out and think Bridge of Spies screenplay was actually really weak.  It drops storylines and only has 2 developed characters, but as I seem to be one of the only one’s who realizes that it gets the nomination.  I think Spotlight will win this one.

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina- dark horse

Inside Out

Spotlight (will win)

Straight Outta Compton

Best Adapted Screenplay- I’ve seen all of these films and I think The Big Short will win with an outside chance for Brooklyn and Carol.  I personally would give it to Brooklyn.

Big snub on this is Steve Jobs; although, if I’m honest I’m kind of glad as I think Aaron Sorkin is a bit overrated and writes mostly one-note characters.

The Big Short (will win)

Brooklyn dark horse

Carol- dark horse

The Martian

Room

Best Animated Feature- I’ve seen all of these films and they are all worthy nominees.  I think Inside Out will win with Anomalisa being the dark horse.

The obvious snub is The Peanuts Movie, which I think is better than Boy and the World.  It is certainly less heavy handed and preachy.  Plus, what it did with hybrid animation should have been recognized. 

I also think Good Dinosaur for it’s stunning animation should have gotten a nomination over Anomalisa although they are such different films it’s hard to compare them.

Anomalisa- dark horse

Boy and the World

Inside Out (will win)

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

Best Foreign Language Film- Haven’t seen any of these but only one I’ve heard any buzz on is Son of Saul and Hollywood loves Holocaust movies.

Embrace of the Serpent

Mustang

Son of Saul (will win)

Theeb

A War

Best Documentary Feature- Only seen Amy but this is between Amy and Cartel Land.  As I find Amy to be very overrated I would love for Cartel Land to win but it probably will go to Amy.

Amy (will win)

Cartel Land- dark horse

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Best Cinematography- The Revenant will win with an outside chance for Sicario to reward Roger Deakins.  I loved the cinematography in Far From the Maddening Crowd and in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant (will win)

Sicario- dark horse

Best Film Editing- This is between The Big Short and Mad Max Fury Road.  I would give it to Mad Max and I think it will win. The editing in that film was amazing.

The Big Short- dark horse

Mad Max: Fury Road (will win)

The Revenant

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Production Design- This one is a tough one to predict.  I think this might be Bridge of Spies win, which I would be ok with as the film looked great.  The fact that The Revenant beat out Brooklyn and Carol in this category is complete nonsense.  I wouldn’t be surprised if The Revenant won for designing great snow and about 15 minutes of set and props.  Nonsense. 

Out of these nominees The Martian is my clear favorite; although I have not seen The Danish Girl.

Bridge of Spies (will win)

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road- dark horse

The Martian- dark horse

The Revenant- dark horse

Best Costume Design- I think Carol will win this one although I could see Cinderella winning. 

Only snub is Far From the Maddening Crowd for costumes.

Carol (will win)

Cinderella- dark horse

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Best Original Score- I think Ennio Morricone will win for the Hateful 8.  He’s a legend and the music is great.  I’m fine with all these nominees although I love the music in When Marnie was There and Inside Out.

Bridge of Spies

Carol

The Hateful Eight (will win)

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens- dark horse (never count out John Williams)

Best Original Song- I think Writing on the Wall will win for Spectre. 

I would have nominated Fine on the Outside from When Marnie was There and When I See You Again from Furious 7.

“Earned It,” 50 Shades Of Grey

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3,” Youth

“Til It Happens to You,” The Hunting Ground-  dark horse

“Writing’s on the Wall,” Spectre (will win)

Best Visual Effects- Great list.  I think this will be Star Wars win and it is deserved.  Ex-Machina or The Revenant could be the dark horse. 

I think Ant-Man could have been nominated but I like all of the nominees in this category.

Ex Machina- dark horse

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant- dark horse

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (will win)

Best Makeup & Hairstyling- Why only 3 nominees? Far from the Maddening Crowd, Cinderella, Carol, Star Wars all had terrific makeup.  If it is the Revenant’s night than it will probably win although between the 2 I’d pick Mad Max.

I actually think for hairstyling Jupiter Ascending should have been nominated.

Mad Max- dark horse

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared

The Revenant (will win)

Best Sound Mixing- These are all pretty good nominees.  Mad Max Fury Road is my best guess but I can see any of them being a dark horse winner.  My favorite would be the sounds created for Star Wars.

Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road (will win)

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens- dark horse

Best Sound Editing- These sound similar but they really aren’t.  I think Mad Max will take this one.  Star Wars or The Revenant could be dark horse.

Mad Max: Fury Road- (will win)

The Martian

The Revenant- dark horse

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens- dark horse

Best Documentary Short- Haven’t seen any of them so just guessing on this one.

Body Team 12

Chau Behind the Lines

Claude Lanzman

A Girl in the River

Last Day of Freedom- will win

Best Live Action Short Film- Haven’t seen any of them so just guessing on this one (wish Academy would make the shorts available to more theaters)

Ave Maria

Day One

Everything Will Be Okay

Shok (will win)

Stutterer

Best Animated Short Film- I have seen all of these films! I think World of Tomorrow will win.  It’s been available on Netflix and the academy actually has been pretty artsy in this category.  Pixar surprisingly hasn’t won that many times.

Bear Story

Prologue

Sanjay’s Super Team- dark horse

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow- (will win)

Oscar Nomination Reactions

Hey guys!  Today the Academy released it’s Oscar nominations and here are my reactions:

If you don’t want to watch the video basically I will sum it up.  I don’t get the love for Bridge of Spies.  It was dull, conventional and average.  Particularly the nomination for best screenplay I find baffling but as I seem to be one of the only people I know who feels that way I can’t say I am surprised. At least it isn’t offensive like last year’s baffling nominee and winner Birdman.

I was surprised to see no nomination for Aaron Sorkin for Steve Jobs– especially with how much the liberal Hollywood love his writing. Steve Jobs was way better written than Bridge of Spies.  Come on?  Nice to see Adam McKay get nominated for Best Director for Big Short and was surprised he took Ridley Scott’s spot for The Martian.  There was little love for Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight and that surprised me a little bit.

I’ve actually seen all 8 of the best picture nominations and aside from Bridge of Spies they are fine.  I would have subbed out Creed or Inside Out for Bridge of Spies but again in minority on that one.

I was glad to see Inside Out get a nomination for best original screenplay and Brooklyn for adapted screenplay.

I think the documentary Amy is overrated and uses too much home video.  I didn’t find out anything I didn’t already know.  To me it was kind of shallow but again in minority on that one.

The most absurd nomination of the night is The Revenant for production design.  The whole thing is basically set in the snow!  Are we giving the team credit for designing the snow, forest and river?  Ridiculous.  Brooklyn, Carol, Cinderella, Star Wars: The Force Awakens all had much better production design than The Revenant.

But expect The Revenant and Spotlight to take home big awards come February.  Sylvester Stallone in Creed and Kate Winslet will win supporting actor trophies.

I was glad to see A Bear’s Story, World of Tomorrow and Sanjay’s Super Team all get nominated for Animated Short.  They are all excellent.  World of Tomorrow should win if enough voters have seen.  I don’t even understand it completely but it should win.

And now for the big snub….

No nomination for the Peanuts Movie.  It is ridiculous.  To me it was exactly what a Peanuts movie should be.  If you think about the specials they are about Charlie Brown trying to gain confidence.  The Great Pumpkin is really the only one that has a complex plot.  Think about the Christmas special it is about Charlie Brown worrying about the holidays.  The Thanksgiving special is about him trying to make a meal for his friends.  What were people expecting storywise? I don’t get it!

I at least got exactly what I wanted.  A story about Charlie Brown gaining confidence to talk to the Red Haired Girl.  It was sweet.  It was emotional, and it was funny.  And even if you don’t love the plot the animation was so great.  The use of the hybrid animation with a flat 2D style combined with CG was brilliant and groundbreaking and deserved a nomination.  It really did.

All I know is Boy and the World better be really great.  That came out of nowhere but maybe it will be 2015’s Song of the Sea and it will all make sense after I see it.

For now I’m sad for Peanuts but in the end it’s the Oscars.  They usually get it wrong (Birdman winning over Boyhood…) so I don’t really care.

And we have to listen to Chris Rock host.  Groan.  But I’m sure there will be a few nice moments and at least this year I’ve seen all 8 nominees, so there’s that.

What did you think of the nominations?  Put in the comments section.  Thanks!