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The Academy Awards are about everything but the art of film. So forget the Oscars, or turn it into a game (e.g. drink every time new host Seth MacFarlane tells an offensive joke). Here at EW, we still really love film, without all the spectacle, and thus we proudly present 2012’s Top Movies (many of which were not nominated). We would not like to thank the Academy …

Top 10 Movies of 2012 - Molly Templeton's Top 10

Top 10 Movies of 2012 - Rick Levin's Top 10

Top Documentaries

The Misunderstood and Overlooked

Molly Templeton's pics for the best films of the year.

Rick Levin's pics for the best films of the year.

1. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within 

City of God meets The Wire in this fast-paced political action-thriller set in Rio de Janeiro. An exciting and devastating look at corrupt systems of law enforcement, politics and media, this was the highest-grossing film of all time in Brazil (even out-grossing Avatar).


2. Sound of My Voice

How to Survive A Plague

This harrowing and inspiring doc follows the highly organized activists that demanded medical and social progress for AIDS sufferers during the height of the epidemic in the ’80s and ’90s — a lesson in complacency, compassion and the power of a dedicated group of people.


The Art of Rap

Valentine’s Day. One of the many holidays that started as a mix of a pagan festival (Lupercalia, a fertility festival) blended with a day in honor of some dude (St. Valentine) who died in an unpleasant way for the Catholic Church. No one runs through the streets anymore gently slapping women with the blood-dripping hide of a sacrificed goatskin to ensure fertility, but some of us would probably rather get hit with a dead goat than be subjected to the Hallmark cards and pink candy hearts of our modern Valentine’s Day celebrations. Valentine’s these days is about more than just boy-girl dating. It’s about dating across all types of gender identification; it’s definitely still about sex (and that means it’s a good time to remember safe sex and the importance of speaking out against sexual violence) and it’s also about loving yourself — either emotionally or with an eco-friendly sex toy.

Having “hot animal sex” isn’t always a good thing. Take cats, for example. Male cats have spikes on their penises that bury into the vaginal wall during sex. Cats in heat aren’t yowling because they’re having a great time — it’s because they’re being stabbed by a barbed penis. And in the insect world, after praying mantises have sex, the female skips right past the pillow talk and bites the male’s head off if she’s hungry or stressed. 

If you’ve found yourself single in the past few years, chances are you’ve considered signing up for one of the many online dating websites. And there are plenty to choose from, be it Match.com, eHarmony, OkCupid or one of the million or so others. If you haven’t taken the plunge or are still skirting the “free glances” fringes, allow this e-dating vet to share a little learned wisdom and perhaps ease the nerves.

San Francisco has the Castro, Seattle has Capital Hill, Portland has the Burnside Triangle. In a smaller city with no gay district, center or bar, Eugene is a difficult place for men to date. And for a university town, where the UO was voted number one in Campus Pride’s Climate Index of gay-friendly colleges, it is puzzling that there are no designated queer spaces off campus. Many people will tell you, “Go to G.L.A.M. Night,” the Saturday night dance party at John Henry’s complete with drag queens and go-go dancers, or point you to “gay-friendly” bars downtown, but G.L.A.M. Nights are only held twice monthly and “gay-friendly” bars do not equal gay bars. So where does a young, gay man in Eugene go those 341 other days a year? The answer is, there is no answer.

“I show up and transform their living room into a sex toy store. Lots of samples, lots of testers,” Kim Marks says. Marks is the proprietor of Oregon’s As You Like It – The Pleasure Shop and she devotes many of her evenings to putting on PleasureWare Home Parties, showcasing the store’s many ecofriendly and ethical sex toys and products, from glass dildos to phthalate-free vibrators.

The tried-and-true dinner and a movie formula for dating has gotten scores of us laid, but there’s something to be said for avoiding a rut. So the next time you want to plan a date, try switching it up just a bit.

Valentine’s Day is frustrating. We either spend all of our energy on our beloved partner because society tells us that this is the day to do so, or we wallow in the fact that we don’t have a special someone in our lives. So, don’t stress out and keep it simple, stupid.

Guns are so entrenched in American culture that Vice President Joe Biden warned “there’s no silver bullet” to stop the killing. Lane County has gun lovers, gun haters and everything in between. EW hit the street and a recent gun show at the Lane County Fairgrounds to find out what people think about guns. 

If you buy from a private seller at a gun show or anywhere else, no background check is needed. If you buy a gun from a licensed dealer at a show, you must undergo a background check. A recent gun buy-back in Seattle turned up a missile launcher, and concealed weapons permit applications in Oregon are skyrocketing, but permittees, while required to take a safety class, aren’t required to know how to shoot. Do Oregon and the rest of the U.S. need to tighten up gun laws or is it true that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”?

The UO Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is trying to capture an era, an art movement, a revolution.  When artists use drugs, publications, shelter and lifestyle as tools for expression just as artists preceding them employed cameras, paint and clay; when artworks don’t fit neatly into a gilded frame or beneath a sparkling glass case, museums must adapt and turn the establishment on its head. 

Like the glow of a firefly in a jar, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA) will attempt to capture the light and art of the ’60s and ’70s in the American West. Opening Feb. 8, West of Center: Art and the Countercultural Experiment in America will document and recreate the ephemeral art of an explosive 12-year period in this country’s history, 1965 to 1977. Originally curated by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the exhibit not only explores the relationship between art and activism but also encourages us to explore the legacy of an artistic era whose effects still reverberate in Eugene, seen in local architecture and happenings like Oregon Country Fair and the SLUG Queen pageant. From inflatables to domes, the Cockettes to The Black Panther newspaper, psychedelic light shows to radical feminist lesbian communes, the JSMA is about to become a revolutionary playground.

Dust is everywhere, cords are hanging from the ceiling and the space is buzzing with workers. I stand awestruck. I knew that a real, professional theater was being built in our beleaguered downtown Eugene, but I’ve wanted it too much to believe. Local playwright and retired judge Greg Foote shakes me out of my stupor, yelling, “Hand her a broom!” as he cheerfully mops past me. 

Continuing my tour of the theater, I see state-of-the-art control rooms, sky-lit rehearsal spaces and a well-positioned scene shop. The lobby is stunning with soft colors and beautiful globes of light hanging from the ceiling, their radiance reflected in the polished cement floor. It feels like an honest professional theater, like they have in Portland or Ashland.

Conrad Barney started a hunger strike Dec. 11 to protest the treatment of the homeless. He says he’s been roused by the police while sleeping, and it’s different from waking up housed. “You’re in this state where you’re tired. It’s Oregon, and it’s wet and cold. When you find a place, if you’re uprooted from that place, you have to start from the drawing board to find another place,” he says. “When you’re running on no sleep and still having to be moving around, active, carrying lots of weight — because you have to have your house on your back — it takes its toll.”

Homeless rights advocates created SLEEPS (Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep) in opposition to Eugene’s anti-camping code, which criminalizes taking shelter in a tent or sleeping bag or using a heater or fire on public property. SLEEPS and other activists say it’s inhumane to criminalize sleeping.

“Brave Beatrice” was the first to go down in Lane County’s current battle over free speech. “If we can’t protest in the land of the free and the brave then how can other countries protest?” Beatrice, aka Florence Emily Semple, asks. “I think we take our First Amendment and all our amendment rights for granted. They are so entrenched in our culture that in our complacency we don’t realize what our life would be like if they were not only taken away but curtailed.” 

Semple, Alley Valkyrie, Terry Purvis and some 20 other activists — some associated with Occupy Eugene (OE), some with SLEEPS (Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep) and still others simply interested in their constitutional rights — have been arrested over the last few months in the battle for free speech without a curfew both in the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza and in the Eugene Federal Building plaza. 

More than 130 years after Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote The Brothers Karamazov, UO professor and UNESCO chair Steven Shankman explored the meaning of the Russian novelist’s text within the walls of Salem’s Oregon State Penitentiary. Shankman describes it as “one of the extraordinary moments in class,” or the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, in which Shankman brought students from the UO to discuss literature and ethics with Salem inmates. One passage in particular left a lasting impression on the students:

“Remember especially that you cannot be the judge of anyone. For there can be no judge of a criminal on earth until the judge knows that he, too, is a criminal, exactly the same as the one who stands before him, and that he is perhaps most guilty of all for the crime of the one standing before him.”

“The mountains once were people, our grandfathers used to tell us,” begins a Warm Springs legend of how Eastern Oregon’s Black Butte came to be and how it came to provide the plants and animals used by the Native Americans. Mountains, buttes and knolls seem eternal as they stand sentinel over Oregon’s landscape, but as photographer John Bauguess watched miners dig away at Parvin Butte in the small community of Dexter, he began to wonder what other high places the Willamette Valley might be losing to development. 

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. Or a wigeon, which is also a duck. Ducks are everywhere in Eugene, but they are so much part of our Oregon landscape that we often walk right by them with barely a second glance. But because, through a quirk of history, the University of Oregon’s sports teams compete on the national stage as waterfowl, and through a quirk of Nike the UO has tried to make these spatulate-beaked waddling avians into muscled fighting machines, EW would like to call attention to some of the wonders of Anatidae Anseriformes: the ducks.

Belly’s owner and chef, Brendan Mahaney, a prestigious James Beard Awards semi-finalist, says that getting your hands on duck can be a bit difficult, but in Eugene he’d head straight for Long’s Meat Market. “They’ll carry it — usually frozen, sometimes fresh — and they can order more for you if you need it,” Mahaney says. 

Some might say that you’d have to be pretty stoned to consider a loss a win. Colorado’s and Washington’s creation of alcohol-like statutes for marijuana made Oregon a bronze-at-best state for pot legalization, but marijuana policy reform advocates are riding high. And not (necessarily) from Cheech-and-Chong-like hijinks. 

If there’s one thing EW’s writers like to do it’s read. We’re selfish about it — unabashedly so. We read what we love, and that’s what we offer to you. This year we tried, more than ever, to read Oregon and Eugene authors, including those brave enough to self-publish. This area is awash with rain all winter long, but it’s awash with literary talent and good local bookstores, too. Head over to Tsunami, Black Sun, Smith Family, J. Michaels or the unfortunately named but full of good books UO Duck Store, to name only a few, and support books, local bookstores and those among us willing to put their words and their selves onto page and out into the world.

Just 20 minutes from the heart of Eugene sits Jasper Mountain Center, an internationally recognized nonprofit where kids who are hurt and troubled, often by severe trauma or abuse, can live and attend school in a safe environment while getting the help they need to heal.