Monday, December 13, 2010

And the Oscar Winners Will Be....UPDATED 1/25/11

Have to rush through this one. May edit with commentary later. (Made an edit to Supp. Actress. I wrote this really fast the first time.)

UPDATE: I am merely updating the categories where my pick didn't even get nominated. My original picks got a strike through.Just for the sake of being a good sport, I did not change the categories I no longer think stand a chance, i.e., Annette Bening for Actress or most any Black Swan nomination outside of Natalie Portman.

Best Picture: The Social Network
Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Best Actress: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actress: Helena Bonham-Carter, The King's Speech
Best Original Screenplay: The King's Speech
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Best Film Editing: Inception The Social Network
Best Cinematography: Black Swan
Best Art Direction: The King's Speech
Best Sound Mixing: Inception
Best Sound Editing: Inception
Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
Best Original Score: Black Swan Inception
Best Foreign Language Film: Of Gods and Men Biutiful
Best Documentary: Waiting for Superman Exit Through the Gift Shop
Best Visual Effects: Inception
Best Makeup: Black Swan The Wolfman
Best Song: Waiting for Superman 127 Hours

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Eric Bird Movie Review: Let Me In

Who's In It: Some little kid, the little girl from Kick-Ass and Richard Jenkins (No relation to Leroy).

What It's About: Typical boy meets girl. Girl drinks neighbors' blood. Hilarity ensues.

What I Was Expecting: I loved the Swedish film, "Let the Right One In", of which this is a remake. In fact, the original may make my list of the Ten Best Films of 2001-2010. But, as director Matt Reeves is part of the JJ Abrams circle, I had faith that this would be a quality remake.

What I Got: A solid remake. There were some tweaks that made it interesting for people who've seen the original and they're in all the right places. What I did find interesting is that in some areas of the film, it's less subtle and in other areas, it's even more vague. There's also more focus, if memory serves me correctly, on the details of the relationship between the little girl and her caregiver. I don't recall knowing the details of how their relationship came about in the original. And that is a case of not needing to know that much back story. Does this little girl (boy?) really care about the guy/boy or is she just using them? The original didn't address it. The remake wants to imply she's just using them. All in all, still a good film, if not as classic as the original.

Grade: B+

Oscar Potential: If the rest of the year is slow, it might pull a Best Picture nom. Maybe editing, cinematography, score. But I wouldn't hold your breath on any of them.

Five Random Thoughts:

1. Movies just shouldn't have 12 year olds naked in bed with other 12 year olds. Just creepy. And yes, I realize that was the point.

2. How on earth are they shooting these scenes where the car rolls over and you can see it's not a stunt man inside?

3. The scene near the end where the vampire helps the little boy was kinda terrifying in the original. In the remake, the audience laughed.

4. Is this JJ Abrams crowd becoming the live action Pixar? Even if the movies aren't great, they are at least endlessly watchable.

5. Still not sure why they felt the need to change the title.

Trailer Park:

The Warriors Way: Crouching Cowboy, Hidden Donkey? Kung Fu in the Old West. Very curious.

Burlesque: I cringed. 

Due Date: Trailer still amusing. Nothing new to say though.

Saw 3D: Having only seen the original, I just don't know why anyone should care anymore.

Black Swan: Leave it to Darren Aronofsky to make an interesting looking movie about ballet.

Skyline: I'm always up for an alien invasion flick. They don't even have to good.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Eric Bird Movie Review: The Social Network

Who's In It: Jesse Eisenberg, some other guy and Justin Bleeping Timberlake.

What It's About: Guy decides to create Facebook. No one ever uses it. Hilarity ensues.

What I Was Expecting: I'm indifferent on director David Fincher. He's made more overrated movies than actual great ones. I am, however, a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin. Plus, one critic I respect called it the Citizen Kane of the new millennium. So, I had high expectations.

What I Got: One of the best films in recent memory. I'm writing this review nearly a month after seeing it and I still feel that way. And the Citizen Kane comparison is fair. It's every bit entertaining as it is intelligent. A fascinating story that you would think would be more common knowledge in this era of mass media. Or perhaps, I just wasn't paying attention. And, much like Citizen Kane, the last 15 minutes loses the momentum of everything that's happened up until then. But it doesn't matter. It's as close to a perfect film that we have seen in years.

Grade: A

Oscar Potential: It will be a Best Picture nominee. Fincher could easily win for director. Aaron Sorkin should be a lock to finally win for Adapted Screenplay. It's an ensemble piece, or feels like one, so zero acting noms wouldn't surprise me. Jesse Eisenberg could pull a Best Actor nod and, believe it or not, Justin Timberlake might get a supporting nomination as recognition for the whole cast. (I call this the "Kim Basinger Theory") Editing and Cinematography are likely. And possibly a music nod for Nine Inch Nails' mastermind Trent Reznor. That would be interesting to see.

Five Random Thoughts:

1. Is Jeff Zuckerberg autistic? Or is Eisenberg playing him like he is?

2. I'm beginning to think Justin Timberlake is a dork who's had sex symbol status thrust upon him. Not a bad performance at all.

3. I want a business card like that someday.

4. For those who expect the standard Aaron Sorkin banter, they do it right in the first moments of the film.

5. For events that are taking place so recently, this sure feels like a period piece.

Trailer Park:

The Tourist: Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in... a remake of The Man with One Red Shoe? Umm. Interesting.

True Grit: Typically, I cringe at the idea of remaking a classic. The Coen Brothers have failed at doing this before. Looks like they've learned something. Looks amazing.

Hereafter: I usually appreciate not giving away too much in a trailer. This one is a little too vague however. This is one of my "Calling My Shot" picks for Best Picture back in March. I think I missed on this one.

Love and Other Drugs: Curious looking romantic comedy with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway.

The Dilemma: Standard Vince Vaughn fare. Didn't look any different than his other recent stuff.

The Tourist: Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Funny, I'd SWEAR I've seen this trailer somewhere before.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, September 20, 2010

Capsule Reviews

Dear John - C+

Well, it's no "The Notebook", as desperately as it wants to be. Both are based on books by Nicholas Sparks. But what is seriously missing here is threefold: 1. Anything resembling a sense of humor or even an attempt at it. 2. A much more compelling leading man. 3. Lead actors who have actual chemistry. That said, there were some genuine surprises in the story. Plot twists that you don't see coming, but are true to the story and its characters, so it was refreshing in some aspects.

From Paris with Love - B

A surprisingly entertaining action flick. John Travolta is some sort of spy. CIA? I don't think they made it very clear. Essentially, it's a spy version of Training Day with Travolta showing the ropes to Jonathan Rhys-Myers in what would probably go down as the worst day in Myers' life. But it's exciting. Moments of genuine high tension and a couple of gotcha plot twists I wasn't expecting. I was pleasantly surprised by this one.

Kick-Ass - B-

Fun flick, but not nearly as cool as it thinks it is. And more than a tad over the top with some of the violence. Particularly the fight scene in which a grown man beats the tar out of an 11 year old girl. As a parent, that kind of thing is a little hard to watch. But there are plenty of funny moments and, despite its premise, probably isn't too far off from what it would be like if someone actually tried to make themselves into a superhero today.

The Wolfman - B+

Nearly everything you could possibly want from the Wolfman story. Terrific acting from Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving (although the accents tend to stray). A very moody feel with great special effects. The score and costumes are top notch. Great writing. So why only a B+? Well, I blame director Joe Johnston. I don't know what it is exactly about his movies. "Jurassic Park III" is, let's face it, basically the same as the other Jurassic Parks, but just isn't. "Hidalgo" was an entertaining movie, but just seemed to be missing that certain something. The same is the case here. Some day, I will figure out exactly what Joe Johnston is doing wrong. The really funny thing is that I thought Guillermo Del Toro had directed this and actually said at one point, "It's missing something. I can't explain it. It's like a Joe Johnston movie." Just making a movie nerd joke to myself. So you can imagine my laughter when the words "Directed by Joe Johnston" appeared at the end. Here's to hoping he figures out what's wrong before he's done with Captain America.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Capsule Reviews

The Tooth Fairy - C+

There's a charming movie in here somewhere. The Rock plays a has been hockey player dealing with the issues of dating a single mother, while trying to decide his future and overcome his past. Now, imagine he also must learn how to be the Tooth Fairy. Which part of the story sounds like it doesn't belong?

Oscar Potential: Zero.

Legion - C

Mankind is on the brink of being wiped of the earth and only a guardian angel can save it...from God? Yes, God is the bad guy apparently. So, it's an action thriller remake of the Travolta comedy bomb Two of a Kind, I guess. There's some really creepy moments, mostly at the beginning. The rest is just sort of blah.

Oscar potential - Zero.

Edge of Darkness - C+

Mel Gibson is a detective who's daughter is murdered in front of him. The investigation leads to a convoluted conspiracy involving an evil corporation and government dirty dealing. All the plot takes away from the pain of a father losing his child. Gibson is good, even if his Boston accent wavers frequently.

Oscar potential: Zero.

When in Rome - B-

Charming, sweet romantic comedy that benefits greatly from a strong supporting cast of Danny DeVito, Will Arnett, Angelica Houston and Jon Heder. However, I was greatly distracted by the actor playing Kristin Bell's assistant. I knew I recognized him from somewhere. Couldn't figure out what movie I knew him from. Turns out, I actually know the guy from local theater productions of Fiddler on the Roof and, my all time favorite theater experience, Floyd Collins. Congrats, Brian Golub.

Oscar potential: Golub deserves supporting actor consideration, but I'm a tad biased.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Capsule Reviews

Extraordinary Measures - C-

It's really hard to bash a movie like this. A true story about a father battling a pharmaceutical company, that he also works for, in a race to save his child's life. Despite Brendan Fraser's limitations as an actor, there aren't too many around his age who play loving fathers like he does. Harrison Ford doesn't usually play the scientist type, but he's effective enough. To be honest, I slept through the entire second act of the film. Didn't feel like I'd missed a thing. Seriously, I can't imagine what went on in between. It's odd, but I would suggest taking a nap as well.

Oscar Potential: Zero.

The Spy Next Door - B-

Deciding whether or not you will like this entertaining little movie depends greatly on how entertaining you think Jackie Chan is. It's rare when I don't. His acrobatics are still pretty amazing and the opening credits are practically his greatest hits. He's actually pretty believable as both the spy and the nerd he pretends to be. Not to mention a rare chance to show off his singing voice. Slightly less predictable than you'd expect, but just slightly.

Oscar Potential: That's pretty funny to type.

Clash of the Titans - B

Forget the original. Seriously, you'll enjoy this one more if you block it out of your mind. There are some story changes with the remake that make almost no sense and, in some cases, ruin the fun. Now that I'm writing this, more pop into my head. Hence, why judging it on its own merits is important. The Zeus/Hades storyline is the least effective change. That said, it's solid fun, from start to finish. Although, I would say that if the Kraken were created by the Gods, it would look more like the one in the originals, not like Cloverfield.

Oscar Potential: Visual Effects. That's all.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Eric Bird Capsule Reviews

Leap Year - F

It's supposed to be a romantic comedy. The film's main issue is that it's neither funny nor romantic. What's worse is that it could've easily been both if it weren't for the motivations behind the two leads. Amy Adams' character is colossally stupid (going to Ireland to propose to a rich guy who had no intention of proposing to her) and Matthew Goode, whose original motivation is money, stays with a girl he has no reason to like and, in reality, probably cost him far more money than he needed. And what on earth is John Lithgow doing in this movie?

Oscar Potential: Zero.

The Book of Eli - B-

Call it the result of low expectations, but I enjoyed this film. Denzel Washington is a man motivated solely by his faith. Usually in modern movies, this character would be the bad guy, so it's refreshing. There is a wholly unnecessary and unbelievable twist at the end, which is intended to show the extent of Eli's faith, but mainly succeeded in making me cry "bullish*t!" But it's a solid movie from the Hughes Brothers and rarely dull.

Oscar Potential: Zero.

Youth in Revolt - B

Gee. Michael Cera in a movie about an awkward teenager. Haven't seen enough of those. It's a shame he's played this character so often in a short time because, outside of Juno, this is the best one. And Cera has a terrific supporting cast to work with Zack Galifianikis, Jean Smart, Ray Liotta, M. Emmet Walsh, Fred Willard, Justin Long and a terrific, against-type turn by Michael Cera (see the movie and you'll see that wasn't a mistake on my part.) The film is sometimes too quirky for its own good and never laugh out loud funny, but very watchable.

Oscar Potential: Zero.

Valentine's Day - B

Although it fails to be the American Love Actually it desperately tries to be, it does have some very funny moments and story twists you don't see coming, which is refreshing for a romantic comedy these days. A few story lines too many. Some that don't get fleshed out nearly enough. Some that drag way too long. Some funny play on the celebrity of its mammoth star cast (Taylor Lautner, of all people, has the funniest self-referential joke). If you watch the DVD, check out the deleted scenes. Some very funny cameos (Dwight Howard and Penny Marshall, especially) that landed on the cutting room floor.

Oscar Potential: Zero.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Martin Scorsese Film Festival

Part 8: Boxcar Bertha

Well, if there's one positive thing to say about this film, besides a frequently naked Barbara Hershey in her early 20s, is that it drove Scorsese to make a more personal film, Mean Streets. Another positive is that it's probably a reminder to Scorsese what happens when he's not really in charge. You could not tell this was a Scorsese movie unless someone told you. It looks, feels and sounds like a B movie, or more to the point, a Roger Corman movie, which it is. As far as the "Scorsese" aspects, it's impossible to judge since they aren't here.

One film left to see in the Scorsese Canon. One I'd avoided seeing, not because of any religious beliefs (I'm Catholic and so is Scorsese) but because it just sounded dull. Now that I'm more than accustomed to the Scorsese style, I'm looking forward to it. Next up.... The Last Temptation of Christ.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Eric Bird Movie Review: Inception

Who's In It: Leo, Juno and the Scarecrow.

What It's About: A guy is hired to plant an idea in someone's head via his dreams. Hilarity ensues.

What I Was Expecting: It's been one of the most talked about movies of the summer. I'm a fan of director Christopher Nolan, but not a huge one. I thought Insomnia and The Prestige were just okay.

What I Got: The best movie of the year so far. In fact, it will be pretty tough to beat in my mind. It's a labyrinth of a story. Mazes play a big part of this movie and that's an unlikely coincidence. It is the kind of summer movie you WISH Hollywood would make more often. Everything about it is top notch. The acting, the dialogue, the directing, the special effects, etc. It's a 2 hour plus movie that flies by. At its core, it's a heist movie in reverse. It's a LOT of fun, but I don't want to spoil anything with the plot. I will say this, if you go see this movie, do NOT try and figure out anything ahead of time. I think that's where some people find it confusing. It's our instinct, especially with movies, to attempt to get ahead of the story. We, as humans, like to know where we're going. Don't do that with this film. Let the movie take you. Listen to what's being explained and watch. Everything is made clear ahead of time. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Grade: A

Oscar Potential: It will be a Best Picture nominee. Nolan should pick up a directing nod. Writing, for sure. Leo and, especially, Marion Cotillard could pull nominations. Then just tick off the technical categories on the ballots. It deserves consideration in every one, except Best Song, I suppose.

Five Random Thoughts:

1. There are scenes so amazing, I can't stop grinning. And who'd have thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt would kick ass in what will go down as one of the coolest fight scenes of all time?

2. Is that Tom Berenger? Where on earth has he been? And the plastic surgery on him....eeek.

3. I love a movie where the only villain is time.

4. I cannot BELIEVE how quiet everyone is being in this theater. Kendall Village 16, this is why I love you.

5. Great reaction to the final shot, but again, if you were paying attention earlier in the movie, the "up in the air" ending was explained in one line of dialogue early on.

Trailer Park:

Dinner for Schmucks: My prediction? This movie will be just okay, but the dinner scene itself will be classic.

Tron: Same old trailer we've been seeing for months. With a December release date, we'll see it a lot more.

Wall Street Money Never Sleeps: I thought this came out already. Oh wait, this premiered at Cannes. The reviews ranged from mediocre to really good. I'll be checking this one out.
The Social Network: I'm not sure the audience I was sitting with understood what they were watching. I was expecting a stronger reaction.
Due Date: A road trip, buddy comedy with Robert Downey, Jr., Zach Galifianikis and Jamie Foxx. Has some good laughs with one great sight gag towards the end of the trailer that had the crowd roaring.
The Town: This was an interesting trailer in so many ways. First off, they say "From the acclaimed director of Gone Baby Gone", but never say who that director is. It's Ben Affleck. Curious that they hid that. Secondly, they hint at a plot twist that will happen in the movie. I thought it was pretty obvious what that twist was. Apparently, so did they and reveal it.This tells me there is a lot more to this movie then what they're showing.

Eric Bird Movie Review: The Last Airbender


Who's In It: A couple kids, the Slumdog Millionaire guy and some character actors. And I'm sure M. Night Shyalakalikimaka does a cameo somewhere, but I didn't notice.

What It's About: Couple kids find another kid in a snow globe who turns out to be Neo from the Matrix. Hilarity ensues.

What I Was Expecting: I'd read a couple of the reviews saying how bad it was. That's USUALLY a pretty good sign that I'll go in with really low expectations and wind up loving the movie.

What I Got: A true test of my moviegoing stamina. It was REALLY hard not to walk out. M. Night Shyamalan is getting brutalized for what he did to the Avatar series (Not related to the James Cameron film). In my opinion, it's not really deserved this time. The person responsible is the moron who hired him for the job. I've seen the Lord of the Rings movies. Does that make me qualified to direct The Hobbit? Nope. And that's the problem here. It's simply not the movie Shyamalan knows how to direct. He has an idea of how this kind of film should be done, but doesn't know how to do it well. It's like having A-Rod come in to pitch in the bottom of the 9th. Just because he's a baseball player, doesn't mean he knows how to do everything. Shyamalan is at his best in dark, moody films. To put it more simply, there's a reason Alfred Hitchcock never made a musical. Being a great director doesn't mean you can direct every genre well. Shyamalan, one, has no feel for the material and, two, doesn't know how to direct films on a large scale. The Wachowski Brothers would have been perfect. M. Night Shyamalan was simply out of his comfort zone. If I didn't like the story itself, I would have given it an F.

Grade: D

Oscar Potential: Zero.

Five Random Thoughts:

1. The child actors in this movie make Jake Lloyd (Anakin in Phantom Menace) look like freaking Daniel Day Lewis. There were times where it felt like I was watching an elementary school play.

2.They squeezed 20 episodes of material into 100 minutes. That's a LOT of source material thrown into the garbage.

3. Has Shyamalan even seen the Avatar series? This movie is WAY too darkly lit. In fact, most everything in this film is wrong. The score is inappropriate in a lot of places. The pacing is all wrong. The effects are just okay. The dialogue is so clunky it hurts to listen to. The cinematography is terrible. Just a good story very badly made.

4. They need to not let Shyamalan anywhere near part 2.

5. I wonder if there's a McDonald's near here. I'm craving an Angus Burger. (P.S. It was delicious.)

Trailer Park:

Legend of the Guardians: I trust Zack Snyder's filmmaking instincts. I believe he'll win an Oscar someday. This must be a hell of a story to want to follow Watchmen with, but if you need to come on camera and EXPLAIN why I should like your movie in your trailer, it's not a good sign.

Nanny McPhee Returns: I always feel a twinge of guilt bashing a movie trailer that isn't intended to entice me to see it in the first place. But wow, this looks dumb.

Sorcerer's Apprentice: At first, I was wondering why they are showing a trailer to a movie that's already bombed. It doesn't look half bad. Maybe it's to try and open people's minds a little.
Gulliver's Travels: This is an ODD trailer. It sets itself up like it's going to be one kind of movie and then it turns out to be something else. Hopefully, the title gives you an idea of what that something else is. It's Jack Black being Jack Black in a land of little people. I don't think the original novel was a comedy.
Rango: This has been Johnny Depp's pet project for a long time. An animated film about a lizard in the desert. Looks pretty creative. Can't wait to see more.
Mega Mind: I love this trailer, even though I've seen it several times. This one is going to be great.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Movie Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - A

Who's In It: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace amd a bunch of other Swedish actors you've never heard of. No, Max von Sydow isn't in it.

What It's About: A journalist investigates a 40 year old murder of a girl in Sweden unfolding a labyrinth of secrets among this weird family. Hilarity ensues.

What I Was Expecting: Never read the books. Hadn't heard much about the movie except that Lisbeth Salander is one of the best female roles ever written.

What I Got: The kind of movie I've been waiting a LONG time to see. I'd been griping to friends for years about the lack of a true mystery in movies. Hollywood tends to focus on serial killers being hunted in the middle of their spree. "The Butler Did It" scenario just doesn't happen in films anymore. This is the movie I've been waiting for. And more. The two protagonists, the journalist and the title character, are so well thought out, as are the peripheral characters. The back stories, and present situations, are credible and help you understand their actions in truthful way. Not as an excuse to make up for motives that don't make much sense. There's no figuring out the mystery ahead of the characters. It unfolds for the viewer at the same time it unfolds for them. The same goes for the motivations behind them. It is a truly brilliant film. I must warn you though. It is NOT for the faint of heart.

Grade: A

Oscar Potential: It's not entirely clear if it qualifies for the Oscars this year. It had a run in L.A. in November, but wasn't released in the U.S. until March. To make things more complicated, the sequel, "The Girl Who Played with Fire", opened in limited release last Friday. And, because of the Academy's rather strange rules regarding foreign films, Sweden can only submit one of the two. That said, a nod for Foreign Language film would be a shoo-in. Acting nominations for its two leads are well-deserved. Editing, cinematography and adapted screenplay should also be considered, if not Best Picture and Director as well. It's a classic.

Five Random Thoughts:
1. NOT for the easily disturbed. This film has, not one, but, TWO anal rape scenes.
2. A bisexual, computer hacking, ass kicking, goth chick protagonist? Ain't nothin' wrong with that.
3. I would LOVE to see Michael Emerson in the lead for the U.S. remake. Daniel Craig is rumored to play the lead. I'd like to see someone a little less tough.
4. I dread the thought of the American remake. This film is brutal at times and Hollywood has a tendency to shy away from it. And the casting of a well-known actress (Carey Mulligan is rumored) could really hurt this film unless she goes all out. David Fincher is rumored to direct it. He'll have to return to full-blown "Se7en" mode to pull it off.
5. You know a movie is really good when you are able to pause the film, but STILL refuse to go to the bathroom.

Eric Bird Capsule Reviews

How to Train Your Dragon - A-

A surprisingly funny and touching animated film about acceptance of all kinds. The only thing that kept it from being an A was the deus ex machina ending. But even that didn't take too much away from a wonderful story about family, community and seeing things from all sides.  
Oscar Potential:  It should give Toy Story 3 a run for its money in the Best Animated Feature category.

Daybreakers - B

I knew almost nothing about this film going in. And learning it's about a vampire named Edward didn't give me too much hope. It's a vampire film almost in reverse. Only a few humans are left in a world populated by vampires. Some clunky scenes didn't take away too much from a clever story. (If circumstances are so urgent, does Willem Dafoe really have time to sing an Elvis song?) The logic is a little vague at the end, but for me to explain further would spoil an unusual twist on the rules of vampire movies. Sam Neill makes a great villain, but if you present a villain with a sound argument for his beliefs, you shouldn't have him commit an unspeakable act that no sane person would commit.  
Oscar Potential: Almost none, but the makeup deserves consideration.

 Grown Ups - B

I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Sure, with Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider, there's plenty of gross out and slapstick humor. But it's used sparingly. And, of course, there are certain elements that really could've been left on the cutting room floor or perhaps there was more to the story, but they left the rest out, i.e., Sandler lying to his wife, James being unemployed, etc. But the film does make an solid commentary on modern marriages, putting careers first and child-rearing. The cast, which includes Salma Hayek and Maria Bello, seems to be having a blast making the movie and it's hard not to share their fun.  
Oscar Potential:  Zero.

Martin Scorsese Film Festival Part 7

Part 7: The King of Comedy

During so much of this festival, I've been able to sit back and focus on the Scorsese aspects of these films. The King of Comedy is the first one that I got so caught up in the movie itself, I forgot to pay attention to the Scorsese style. It's truly a great film and belongs on the list with his greatest achievements. At first, I was a little weirded out by the star obsession and found it off-putting. But as the plot progressed, it worked. A lesser filmmaker would spelled everything out a little more at the end, but I found this ending was far better. My favorite of the festival so far.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Martin Scorsese Film Festival Part 6

Part 6: Who's Knocking at My Door

Well, here's a film you don't ever have to worry about being remade. A young Harvey Keitel finds out his girlfriend is not a virgin. And dumps her because of it. Oh, and the reason she's not a virgin was because she was raped. She even gets called a whore because of it. The movie itself is fairly plotless. A lot of the usual Scorsese tangents. But also a lot of the camera work that would become his trademark. Even at mere 90 minutes, it's a stretch. Not necessarily Scorsese's fault since it's basically a student film with footage added later (including a montage sex scene added even later) to get distribution. All in all, it's definitely a sign of things to come. A solid debut despite the actions of the protagonist.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Movie Review: Shutter Island - D+

Who's In It: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Creepy/Sinister TypeCast Villains.

What It's About: Leo goes to an island for the criminally insane to investigate a missing inmate. Hilarity ensues.

What I Was Expecting: It's directed by Martin Scorsese, which elevates any film buff's expectations. I had heard there was a plot twist that you either see coming or you don't.

What I Got: I saw it coming. In the FIRST scene, I saw it coming. Actually said out loud, "Oh...(insert spoiler here)". When that happens in a movie, especially in a film over two hours long, it makes you impatient. You see right through every red herring, every false lead is one you don't follow. It gets pretty excruciating when they don't steer you away from what became obvious at the beginning. That said, it would be a pretty mediocre film without the early tip off. It's dark, it's moody, but that would all serve a better purpose if I gave a rat's ass about any of the characters. And it's a Scorsese film that, frankly, could have been as effective if Brett Ratner were directing (see: "Red Dragon"). And good God, when the twist finally comes, it drags out FOREVER! This movie would have been better doing a reverse twist. You THINK you know one's coming, but it never happens. Might be something for wannabe screenwriters to think about.

Grade: D+

Oscar Potential: Cinematography, editing, nothing else stands a chance. Even in a week year.

Five Random Thoughts:
1. Max von Sydow plays so many German/Nazi Scientist types, I often forget he's Swedish.
2. HEY! It's Jackie Earle Haley playing a person in an asylum. That NEVER happens.
3. One rule this film does play with is The Economy of Characters Rule. Basically, you don't cast a recognizable face in a meaningless role. The audience will expect more from that character. Or maybe I just see too many movies that I expected more from Elias Koteas, Emily Mortimer and Patricia Clarkson.
4. This was a Dennis LeHane novel? I'm going to have to see how they differed. Just doesn't seem like it.
5. Is it too late in the day to make a pot of coffee?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Martin Scorsese Film Festival Part 5

Part 5: Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Interesting piece of trivia. Ellen Burstyn won an Oscar for a terrific performance. Scorsese, in 1974, had already directed more actors to Oscars than Spielberg has as of 2010. Scorsese later directed De Niro, Newman, Pesci and Blanchett to Oscar gold. Spielberg has yet to have anyone win for his films despite winning two Oscars for directing. Just something I like to give to Mr. Scorsese.

"Alice" has a lot of the Scorsese elements he went on to perfect. The tracking shots. The dolly shots were particularly unique in the beginning due to the height, almost looking down on the houses. Like his later work, the film has filler towards the end, delaying the obvious dénouement, but it still works. I don't know if this particular film lost some of its luster due to the long running TV show. It's a great film. The kind of small scale, character and dialogue driven story I'd been saying for years I wished Scorsese would make.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Martin Scorsese Film Festival

Day 4: Shutter Island

A separate review will come separately. This entry is a little shocking. Not the movie itself, which is not good, but the fact that nothing about this film feels like a Scorsese picture. None of his trademarks are here. And the plot itself seems a little mainstream for a film by Scorsese. Other than having the opportunity to direct a Dennis LeHane novel, it's not clear why Scorsese even bothered. Strange choice indeed.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Martin Scorsese Film Festival: Day 3

Day 3: After Hours

A totally unique entry in the Martin Scorsese filmography. It's an amusing film, with a couple laugh out loud moments, especially during the last half hour. It's interesting how the Scorsese style adds to the film, adding a sense of urgency and danger, which is all the fun of the story in the first place. Definitely a case when the movie is better BECAUSE it's Scorsese. And one of the few of his films that could've been longer.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Movie Review: Toy Story 3 - A-

Who's In It: Woody, Buzz, Hamm, basically anything from your toy box as a kid except Star Wars figures.

What It's About: Andy is growing up and heading to college. The toys are mistakenly donated to a daycare. Hilarity ensues.

What I Was Expecting: It's Pixar. They STILL have yet to make a bad movie 15 years running. And, as usual, the trailer made the movie look stupid, but I was not going to fall for it this time.

What I Got: For the first hour, I thought they blew it. I didn't laugh once. I thought it was too self-referential. Recycling jokes constantly from the previous Toy Story films. It doesn't work on Family Guy and it really doesn't work here. The entire opening is a rehash of the beginning of the first Toy Story. Maybe I was different as a kid, but when I was playing make believe, I varied the stories. I digress. About halfway through the movie, something just clicks. It gets a lot funnier. It's exciting. And it's as emotional as any of the Pixar films. I will admit, by the end, tears were streaming down my face. A beautiful ending to the series.

Grade: A-

Oscar Potential: I don't think it will keep up Pixar's streak of doing well outside of the Animation category, but it would be nice to see a Toy Story movie win there. The category did not exist yet for parts 1 & 2.

Five Random Thoughts:

1. It's obvious they are trying to avoid using Slink too much (previously voiced by the late Jim Varney). But whoever is doing the voice is doing a great job.

2. HEY! It's Michael Keaton! Where on earth has HE been?

3. Lottso is the worst villain in the series. And in the end, not all that necessary.

4. Wow! Did NOT recognize Whoopi Goldberg's voice in this. Such a memorable character, I don't even recall who "Stretch" was.

5. I do not see what benefit this movie would have in 3-D. Just see the 2-D version, your brain thinks it's 3-D anyway.

Trailer Park:

Mega Mind: A very funny trailer about an evil mastermind. They WISELY leave off the actual premise of the movie, thus, not giving it all away. Smart, smart move. (Note: the premise is great comedy fodder, but probably better if you don't see it coming.)

Despicable Me: A very funny trailer about an evil mastermind. (Didn't I just say this?) It looks less funny with each trailer. Here's to hoping.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: And the winner of worst movie title of the year is.... No. Let's not pick on this one. Disney will look like a genius for ditching this franchise. I thought the end of the trailer was cute. "Directed by Michael Apted". I don't think many in the Narnia crowd has seen any of the "7 Up" films. His biggest box office hit was "The World Is Not Enough", one of the worst in the Bond franchise. "Directed by Michael Apted" means nothing to this series' core audience. Or any audience for that matter. Maybe if "Gorillas in the Mist" is your favorite movie of all time.
The Smurfs: It's just a teaser trailer. Not much to see really. Thought the mash-up of the Smurfs theme with Tone-Loc's "Wild Thing" was amusing.
Secretariat: Ummm. Okay. It will be hard to separate this film from "Seabiscuit".
Tangled: Hand drawn animation? How novel. Tangled is the story of Rapunzel with a twist (and not just of the hair). An amusing trailer, if a little one-note in its humor. But, I said the same thing about "The Princess and the Frog", which was terrific.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Martin Scorsese Film Festival

For the last 12 years, a friend of mine has argued that Martin Scorsese is our greatest living director. I've changed my counterargument from time to time. For a long time, I argued Spielberg was the greatest, but he's had a mediocre run for most of the last decade. You can make a surprisingly strong case for Clint Eastwood. I think Danny Boyle has entered the argument. The Coen Brothers, for sure. Ang Lee. There are others who I will counter with on occasion, but his answer has always been pat: Martin Scorsese.

I never understood exactly why film buffs love Scorsese so much. Raging Bull is a classic. So is Goodfellas. I'll grant you Taxi Driver. If I'd seen it in its era, I might have liked it more, but now, it's been imitated so much, it's hard to appreciate. Same for Mean Streets. And then.....

I just conceded to four movies considered to be great; two of which, I don't particularly like. Scorsese has been making films for more than 40 years! That's one great film every ten years. Not a great track record for someone who's made 20-plus films. Spielberg made Jaws, Close Encounters, Raiders and E.T. in a span of 8 years. And that's an era that probably won't be considered his best!

Besides the four I mentioned, I've only seen New York, New York, The Color of Money, Cape Fear, Casino, Bringing Out the Dead, Gangs of New York, The Aviator and the Departed. So, of Scorsese's 21 non-documentary features, I've seen 12.

There are elements I find common in almost all of Scorsese's films. For one, Master Martin cannot seem to make a film less than two hours. Even when the film doesn't have enough story to warrant it. The hyperkinetic feel, with the tracking shots and zooms on faces, are there whether the movie requires it or not. Again, there's a lot of his movies I haven't seen yet. Maybe I missed something.

And so, the film festival was born. I decided to watch them in no particular order.

Day 1: Kundun

This is the kind of film Scorsese was born NOT to make. You don't make a movie about the freaking Dalai Lama with the feel of a movie about Henry Hill. It was like he was trying to build a sense of urgency in a film that had none. Nor needed it. Scorsese's style actually got in the way.

Day 2: The Age of Innocence

I'd tried watching this movie in the 90s. Fell asleep. Tried watching it for this blog. Fell asleep. Tried a third time. Stayed awake. It's one of Scorsese's more unusual efforts. Unlike his other movies which have loads of physical violence, the violence in Age is emotional. A very good movie, but his style doesn't work in the early scenes. And there are moments when explaining New York society that feel ripped right out of other Scorsese movies. At least in those cases, it works well, even if it's apparent that he's stealing from himself.

Next up.... Day 3: After Hours

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Post Oscar Bliss

I probably shouldn't write this now. I'm still excited that, for the second year in a row, my #1 film of the year won Best Picture and I'm more than a little drunk. But, as someone who has thought that, while Avatar is a technical marvel NOW, it's not a very good movie. So here's the breakdown:


I don't normally do it in all caps, but I am so excited it won. This is the Platoon for Generation X and whole-heartedly deserved it.


I actually teared up when she won. To be honest, a year ago, I could have made a LONG list of female directors I thought would have been the first and Kathryn Bigelow wouldn't have been on it. Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Jodie Foster, Barbra Streisand, Penny Marshall, Nancy Myers, Amy Heckerling, etc. Either way, it's a great acheivement.


Jeff Bridges has been one of my favorites since I was a kid. He's always been one of those actors who gave phenomenal performances in roles not recognized by the Academy. I couldn't be happier.


I'm glad she won, but it's one of those cases that the person won and not the performance. She's very popular among people in Hollywood and she's not exactly the type of actress who gets nominated. I wouldn't be shocked if this will be her only nomination.


A terrific performance and I'm glad it was honored, but I will always argue that he had no business being in the supporting category. Yes, it's an ensemble piece. But so was Pulp Fiction. The first 15 minutes is almost all Christoph Waltz.


There was no question. It was easily one of the best performances of the year.


Missed this one. I picked Basterds. Don't mind this one.


I picked Up in the Air here. I'm still surprised it lost and I owe Jason Reitman an apology. Sorry, dude.


I argued in another post that Avatar shouldn't have even been nominated. Then I read an article about how hard it was to shoot. More than just CGI and green screen. Yeah, it deserved it.


I picked Avatar, but was hoping for a Hurt Locker upset. I got my wish.


My pick and it deserved it. Congrats to the Academy for finally recognizing the efforts of set decorators, even in a CGI world. Their job is still the same.


I had no clue and went with Nine.


The first Oscar ever for the Star Trek franchise. I believe this makes Harry Potter now the most nominated franchise to never win an Oscar.


I was surprised by this one. The work on The Hurt Locker was amazing and it's wonderful that the Academy recognized the incredible work there.


I thought the Academy would go with Avatar here, but felt the The Hurt Locker was more deserving. Thankfully, the Academy agreed.


If there was EVER a slam dunk in a category, it was here.


One of many slam dunks for this year's awards. The piece called "Married Life" during the montage at the beginning of the movie is one of those pieces that chokes me up just by hearing it. Congrats to Michael Giacchino, who deserved it for his work on The Incredibles and Ratatoiulle. It'll look great next to his Emmy for his work on Lost.


Another gimme.


If Up didn't win, I would've torched my house. For all of the wins Pixar has had in this category, Up was one of its best achievements.


I haven't seen this one. Un Prophete is an amazing film, but I can't fairly judge.


Terrific film. Deserved it. Although Food, Inc. would have also been a fine choice.

Now, what you've all been waiting for....

Last year, my Post Oscar Bliss predictions for 2009 were: Nine, The Informant, Lovely Bones, Invictus, The Boat the Rocked, Inglourious Basterds, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, The Road, Shutter Island, Away We Go. So, I got ONE Best Picture nominee. One movie that never even went into production. One that got bumped to 2010. Four movies that go no nominations whatsoever. And three movies that got just a few nominations. Not my finest moment. So on to this year:


1. Hereafter

Going on a limb here. Clint Eastwood directing a Best Picture nominee. Although Invictus and The Changeling didn't make the cut. But his genre films seem to make it. Throw in that it's written by the writer of Frost/Nixon, The Queen and The Last King of Scotland. It's a pretty safe bet even with supernatural elements.

2. Untitled James Brooks Comedy

James Brooks so rarely does movies anymore. Or ever for that matter. But after Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News and As Good as It Gets (and ignoring I'll Do Anything and Spanglish), he's Oscar bait. Especially when Jack Nicholson is involved (who has won two Oscars for James Brooks movies). Also with Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon.

3. The Tree of Life

Director Terrance Malick also has a pretty good track record with the Academy. Although The New World missed its mark, his previous two films, The Thin Red Line and Days of Heaven, were Best Picture nominees. Oh. And did I mention it stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn?

4. Love and Other Drugs

Have to keep my streak going. Director Ed Zwick makes my list nearly every time he makes a movie and every time, I'm wrong. Be it Blood Diamond, The Last Samurai, etc. And with Judy Greer as his lead (basically best known for repeatedly flashing Jason Bateman on the show Arrested Development), but it also has Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. Just a whim.

5. The Social Network

David Fincher finally got Oscar recognition with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Here, he's bringing the story of the world's most popular social networking site to the big screen. I can't imagine a great story teller like Fincher even considering it without a brilliant script. And since Aaron Sorkin wrote it, I'm assuming it is. Even with a questionable cast that includes Justin Timberlake.

6. Secretariat

Hey! It worked for Seabiscuit. Diane Lane and John Malkovich head a cast directed by Braveheart scribe Randall Wallace.

7. The American

Any movie with George Clooney deserves consideration at this point. World renowned photographer Anton Corbijn pretty much guarantees it will be visually interesting, especially with the Italian location shooting. It's a suspense thriller, but the Academy has gone there before.

8. Eat, Prey Love

I may be reaching here. This will be the second film directed by Ryan Murphy, who is best known for the TV shows Glee and Nip/Tuck. It's with Julia Roberts and if it connects with people, expect it to make the short list.

9. Inception

While Clint Eastwood often gets nominated for genre films, Christopher Nolan has not had as much luck. In fact, it's because of Christopher Nolan that the Academy nominates 10 films for Best Picture, instead of 5. His follow-up to The Dark Knight stars Oscar nominees Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe and Ellen Page, along with Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and Michael Caine. It's a tentpole blockbuster, which don't usually carry over to Oscar glory. But we will see.

10. Debt

While John Madden directed Best Picture winner Shakespeare in Love, he has not fared so well since. This one is a remake of the Israeli film "HaHov" and starts Sam Worthington (and his dog, Spot) and Oscar winner Helen Mirren. The story is Mossad agents chasing a Nazi across Europe 20 years after World War II. Perhaps the voters who chose Spielberg's Munich will like this one too, although I still don't get why they liked Munich.

Until next year.....Cheers!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland B-

Who's In It: Johnny Depp, every British actor who's finished shooting principal for the next Harry Potter, some blonde girl

What It's About: Alice. She goes to Wonderland. Hilarity ensues.

What I Was Expecting: I'm not a huge Tim Burton fan. He seems to just make mediocre films that are visually stunning.

What I Got: A mediocre film that is visually stunning. In 3-D!!! I'm not entirely sure why it's in 3-D. Except for a few moments, it really serves no purpose. Much like the film itself. There are a few moments of classic Tim Burton whimsy. But just a few. A couple of moments where the story is interesting. But just a couple. From a visual standpoint, it's a wonder to behold. I've been making the argument since Avatar debuted that its revolutionary special effects will be passe in a few years and people will see it for what it is. Well, it's not even three months later and I thought this film surpassed Avatar in the special effects department. Scene after scene and I kept trying to figure out whether they were on a set or if it was green screened. You really can't tell. If you're impressed by astonishing filmmaking based on the visuals, by all means, go see this movie. Just ignore the disjointed scenes. I was expecting better from the screenwriter who gave us Beauty & the Beast and The Lion King.

Grade: B-

Oscar Potential: It's very early in the year, but it should still get consideration for the visual effects, art direction and costume design by 8 time nominee, 2 time winner Colleen Atwood.

Five Random Thoughts:

1. For a movie in 3-D, it takes a LONG time to use it to its advantage. In fact, the film takes a long time to do much of anything.

2. Well, "Off with their heads" will be a popular catch phrase for the next ten minutes or so.

3. Oh my God, is that...Crispin Glover?

4. Let's see, there's one Death Eater. Two Death Eaters....and three. Oh and Dolores Umbridge is in this too. It's almost easier to count which British actors HAVEN'T been in a Harry Potter movie. Even Stephen Fry, who is the voice of the Cheshire Cat, is the narrator on the Harry Potter video games.

5. Wait. That's not Crispin Glover. Is it? Has to be. (Yes, it is.)

Trailer Park:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Very funny trailer of a movie about a kid going into junior high. Genius, at least in the sense that there's not an age where kids are more awkward and yet, Hollywood never touches on it.

Prince of Persia: Mike Newell used to make great movies with interesting characters. Four Weddings and a Funeral, Donnie Brasco. Well, I guess he needs to make up for Love in the Time of Cholera and do the paycheck movie.
Despicable Me: I would REALLY like to see a new trailer for this movie. I think this is the fourth time I've had to comment on it. The trailer they showed during the Super Bowl looks nothing like this.
Tron Legacy: Like the original Tron, with cooler graphics....I mean, visual effects.
Toy Story 3: I say this for just about every single trailer for Pixar movies. It looks okay, not great. Of course, I'm always wrong. This time, though, I think I may be right. The humor seems ripped right out of the Shrek movies.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Take on All the Oscar Nominated Films

UPDATE 3/7/10

A Serious Man - Nearly made my Top Ten of 2009. Great film from the Coen Brothers. Both hilarious and sad at times. Should have been nominated for more than Best Picture and Screenplay.

A Single Man - Haven't seen it.

An Education - Another that nearly made my Top Ten. Wonderful story of a high school girl falling in love with an older man. Star-making performance from nominee Carey Mulligan.

Avatar - #10 of my Top Ten of 2009. A movie experience like no other to date. Fails in all of the usual areas that Cameron films are weak, but a film that is a must see in 3-D. In 2-D, everything that's wrong with the film would be that much more obvious.

Bright Star - Surprisingly effective romance from Jane Campion.

Burma VJ - Haven't seen it.

Coco before Chanel - In my NetFlix queue.

Coraline - One of those films that some people rave about and I just don't understand why. Rather macabre animated feature that just felt redundant.

Crazy Heart - Haven't watched it yet. Screener is sitting next to me.

District 9 - Clever, inventive sci-fi film that just felt like it was missing something. The weakest of the Best Picture nominees, in my opinion.

Fantastic Mr. Fox - One of the most fun films of the year. Sly and subversive. Makes you wish George Clooney and Meryl Streep would do a live action movie together.

Food, Inc. - If this film doesn't make you want to become a vegetarian, nothing will. Definitely makes you think twice about the food you're eating.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - Terrific chapter in the series. Like most of the series, repeat viewings makes you realize what all they left out from the book.

Il Divo - Had never heard of it. Only nominated for Makeup. Probably won't ever see it.

In the Loop - #9 film of the year for me. Outside of The Hangover, the funniest film of 2009. The British and American casts are terrific and play well off of each other.

Inglourious Basterds - #2 of the year for me. Only gets better on repeat viewings. Quentin Tarantino's most mature film to date.

Invictus - Inspiring, highly detailed film about the first days of Nelson Mandela's presidency. Amazing performance by nominee Morgan Freeman. Hit or miss, "keeps losing the accent" turn by Matt Damon.

Julie & Julia - Entertaining, if a tad long, story of Julia Child and a woman inspired by her. Meryl Streep as Julia is good at times, but wasn't really Oscar-worthy in my opinion. Felt more like an imitation, rather than a performance.

Nine - I made it about 5 minutes into this film and turned it off. Found those 5 minutes to rival any 5 minute span of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen as far as irritation. Will try to push through another time.

Paris 36 - Had never heard of it. Only nominated for song. Probably won't ever see it.

Precious - Absolutely heartbreaking film. Just when you think things are going to be better, they get worse. And the main character perseveres anyway. #4 in my Top Ten of 2009.

Sherlock Holmes - Haven't seen it yet. Saw the first 10 minutes or so and it seemed pretty fun.

Star Trek - Does for the Star Trek series what Batman Begins did for Batman. May annoy some purists who aren't paying attention to why this Star Trek universe is different.

The Blind Side - Uplifting film, but pretty "by the numbers" overall. Sandra Bullock makes this film better than it should have been.

The Cove - #7 of 2009. Probably the most exciting documentary you will ever see. Could not have been better if it were scripted.

The Hurt Locker - #1. Hands down. Amazing film. Subtle in every place where other war films, like Saving Private Ryan, punched you right in the face.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Haven't watched it yet. Have screener and will hopefully get to it before Oscar night.

The Last Station - Haven't seen it.

The Lovely Bones - Keep meaning to read the book. Have a screener copy. Haven't gotten around to either.

The Messenger - Came very close to being in my Top 10. One of my favorite kinds of film. The kind that show you the life of someone who has a very important job, but one you just don't think about very often. In this case, military personnel who tells families their loved one died in the War of Terror.

The Most Dangerous Man in America - Another documentary I haven't seen.

The Princess and the Frog - The best Disney traditionally animated film in a long time. If not for Up, this could have been a serious contender for the Best Animated Feature category.

The Secret of Kells - Had never even heard of it. Still haven't seen it.

The White Ribbon - Hope to see it soon.

The Young Victoria - Ditto.

Tranformers: Revenge of the Fallen - One of only 3 movies I actually gave F's to last year. (The other two: G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian) I guess if you want to win with me, don't have a colon in your title.

Up - #6 film of 2009. Pixar can seem to do no wrong. At times, both their silliest and most adult film to date. I can't imagine why anyone WOULDN'T love this movie.

Up in the Air - Another near miss for the Top Ten. Funny at times, romantic at times, sad at other times. A mirror to our society at this moment in time.

Which Way Home - Haven't seen it. Way behind (as always) on my documentaries.


#3 Where the Wild Things Are - Costumes, anyone? Turning a book that only had something like 72 words in total into a brilliant 90 minute film? This film has moments of such pure joy that it's amazing it didn't get a single nomination.

#5 The Hangover - The number one R-rated comedy of all time and not even a nod for screenplay. My God, they nominate Beverly Hills Cop, but not The Hangover. This was a travesty.

#8 (500) Days of Summer - Just one of those movies that is VERY good in every aspect, but only outstanding as a whole. Wasn't surprised that it missed out for anything except screenplay.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Who's Going to Win.....

The Hurt Locker

At the beginning of the Oscar race, it seemed like it would be a battle between The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air. Until Avatar came out. Then the box office records started falling to the wayside. There were even articles in major entertainment magazines asking how any film could beat Avatar at the Oscars. And that was only 2 weeks ago. Now? Avatar has fallen by the wayside, as has Up in the Air. Sure, Avatar won the Golden Globe, but that becomes a less reliable indicator every year. The Hurt Locker, on the other hand, recently hit the trifecta: The Producers Guild, The Directors Guild and The American Cinema Editors awards. Slumdog Millionaire did it last year. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won all three. So did Chicago. And Gladiator. BUT, there has been ONE instance where a film won all three and lost Best Picture. In 1998, Saving Private Ryan. Coincidence, that both SPR and The Hurt Locker are war films? We'll see.


Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

There's some talk that Avatar may lose Best Picture, but James Cameron will win here. I would argue that the opposite is more likely. Avatar is no more extraordinary an achievement by a director than Jurassic Park was for Spielberg. Take away all the groundbreaking, 3-D special effects and you have a B-movie. And because so much of the film is CGI, I would argue that James Cameron deserves no more consideration for Best Director than Pete Docter would for Up. At least the performances in Up seemed natural.


Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

I'm giddy at the thought of this. Jeff Bridges has been one of my favorite actors since Starman. Even more so as Jack Lucas in The Fisher King. It's amazing that this is only his 5th nomination and only his 2nd in the last 25 years. AND, he's never won. His first nomination was for The Last Picture Show, where he lost to his costar, Ben Johnson. He was nominated again, four years later, when teamed up with Clint Eastwood in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. He lost to Robert De Niro in The Godfather Part II. Nomination number 3 was Starman. That was the year F. Murray Abraham won as Salieri in Amadeus. His fourth nomination came 16 years later for The Contender. Unfortunately, he was nominated against Benicio Del Toro for Traffic. After almost 30 years of being a bridesmaid, Bridges WILL be heading to the altar. If they took bets on the Oscars, this is about a sure thing as any category.


Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

She's going to win here for several reasons and none having to do with her actual performance. One, she's very popular in Hollywood. Her sweet, nice girl roles are supposedly never far from her own personality. When she plays against that type, it's usually with horrific results. This year will be the proof as Sandra Bullock will likely have the distinction of winning the Oscar and the Golden Raspberry (for All About Steve) in the same year. And she's going to be there to accept both awards. Because she doesn't take herself that seriously. Which leads to point number two. Sandra Bullock rarely gives performances worthy of Oscar consideration. Lord knows she's tried. 28 Days, Crash, Infamous. Just didn't happen. There's a strong possibility this will be the only nomination of Sandra Bullock's career. Which leads to point number three. The other contenders. Meryl Streep was terrific in Julie & Julia. This is her SIXTEENTH nomination. Her fourth in the last 10 years. It's a pretty safe bet she'll be nominated again at some point. Then there's Carey Mulligan who gave a performance in An Education that I would equate to Audrey Hepburn's Oscar winning performance in Roman Holiday. It's one of those where you just know this girl will be around for a long while. It was that belief that cost Kate Winslet the Oscar for Sense and Sensibility. You just knew she would be nominated again soon enough.


Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

I haven't seen the statistic yet, but I'm guessing Christoph Waltz has about as much screen time in the movie as anyone else. But, with Tarantino flicks, who's the lead, who's supporting can be tough to tell. With Pulp Fiction, Samuel L. Jackson had more dialogue that John Travolta, but Travolta was on screen more. So who's the lead? The first 10-15 minutes of Basterds is almost entirely Waltz talking. But then he disappears for a long part of the film only to come back and take over the film again. So, basically, Inglourious Basterds has no lead. But the same could be said about Woody Harrelson. Calling him supporting is like calling Susan Sarandon supporting in Thelma & Louise. Technically she was since the film is a little more about Geena Davis' journey than hers, but they're almost always on screen together. Stanley Tucci is the next contender and the one traditional supporting role. The other two, Matt Damon and Christopher Plummer, are just lucky to be there. Damon sucked in Invictus.

EDIT: I did find the statistic and Christoph Waltz is on screen more than "lead" actor, Brad Pitt. Go figure.


Mo'Nique, Precious

This is another lock. It goes to show you that you can't tell the actor by their role choices. Especially, if they don't have movie star looks and are black. At that point, you take the work you can get because they aren't going to look to you to star in Avatar. Mo'Nique previous three films? Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Beerfest and Phat Girlz. In Precious, she just owns the screen when she's on it. She makes you absolutely hate her and just when want her to just drop dead, she delivers one of the made-for-Oscar speeches that so rarely happens anymore because today's audiences know when they're being manipulated. But Mo'Nique pulls it off so well, that you actually feel sympathy for a character you've hated the whole film.


Inglourious Basterds

Of the Big Eight categories, this one is the toughest. The Academy likes to give an Oscar somewhere to all of the Best Picture nominees, but now that there's 10, it's a little tougher. Especially since the three top contenders will win in other categories. A Serious Man shouldn't be taken very seriously. It's nomination was surprising enough. The Messenger is a brilliant script, but don't expect it to win. That leaves The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds and Up. The Hurt Locker is a stellar film. It just doesn't have a flashy script, which was kind of the point. Up is going to win in other categories and is a brilliant piece from Pixar. I can't think of any film this year that rode that fine line of mixing humor and pathos. If any film beats out Tarantino, this will be it. I just don't think it will. Tarantino shows with this one that he's grown up a bit.


Up in the Air

Another case of "where else are we going to give it something?" This will be Up in the Air's only win all night. An Education is brilliant, but just doesn't carry a lot of excitement with it. Precious falters because an unwittingly racist Academy who probably had never heard of nor read the book and they'll write it off here. District 9 will be the "we were lucky to be nominated" film all night and won't win squat. This is In the Loop's only nomination and those films NEVER win here, despite the fact that it's actually the best script out of either writing category. Nope. It's Up in the Air's category, one hundred percent.


The Hurt Locker

I'm probably wrong here and therefore, defeating the purpose of the title of this blog entry. I'm strictly going with my gut that this will be the one tech category where it beats out Avatar. In my opinion, it's the one technical category where it's actually better than Avatar. The Hurt Locker became what it is in the editing room. The rest of the nominees (District 9, Basterds, Precious) are just filler. Mainly because of having 10 nominations, but this is one of the rare years where all Film Editing nominees are up for Picture. It's also worth mention that NO film has won Best Picture without an Editing nomination since 1980. So, you can rule out any upsets from A Serious Man, An Education, The Blind Side, Up in the Air or Up right here.



I'm just not sold on it. I think we could be reaching a point where CGI will actually starting hurting films come Oscar time. It's not like Mauro Fiore (Avatar's DP) had to figure out how to light the Home Tree. Come to think of it, how often was he even behind a camera? So how much is a DP actually doing in a film like this. It's not like there was a bunch of Na'vi standing around waiting for magic hour. So what did he actually do here? James Cameron's a cinematographer also so I don't think he'd want another one to help decide how to light a CGI rock. That said, I'll go with it anyway. I haven't seen The White Ribbon yet, but I've seen the other four nominees. It really should be The Hurt Locker.



The Art Director, on the other hand, does play a big part, even when it's CGI. And they got so wildly inventive with Avatar that I can't imagine not giving it to them here. They deserve it.



I haven't commented previously on Nine in any blog entry. I would like to say right now what an utter piece of crap it is. Or, what an utter piece of crap the first five minutes are since I turned it off during the opening credits. Or, at least, where the opening credits should have been since it would have justified taking so long to strut the entire cast out one by one. I may try and watch it again and skip those first few minutes. The costumes were nice though. And in large number and that's usually the best indicator of how the Academy will vote. Not by the best costumes, but the most.


Star Trek

Yeah. Let's go with that one.



Some years, they just needn't bother nominating 5.



Could you imagine a bigger travesty in the history of the Academy Awards if Avater DIDN'T win here?


The Door

Because that's what people who've seen them keep saying.


A Matter of Loaf and Death

Two words: Nick Park. Three more words: Wallace and Gromit. Nick Park has only ever lost once at the Oscars. And who did he lose to? Nick Park.


The Cove

This is actually a tough category this year. Food, Inc. is very disturbing. I haven't seen The Most Dangerous Man in America, but it sounds fascinating, although how relevant is a Vietnam War documentary anymore. Burma VJ sounds like a documentary about making documentaries. Which Way Home follows the plight of illegal immigrants into America. The Cove is just one of those stand out films that transcends the documentary style of filmmaking and deserves it.


The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant

Hell if I know. These categories are impossible to predict. The general rule of thumb is: If it sounds Jewish, it'll win. Otherwise, go with the most topical.


The White Ribbon

It's supposed to be good? I have a hard enough time keeping up with American films.



Because it's Up.



Because there's nothing ethnic for the Academy to vote for. I mean that seriously. Avatar's score was too derivative of Titanic's (further proof that James Horner sucks.) I remember the songs from The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Not so much the score. Hans Zimmer never wins unless it's for Disney. The Hurt Locker's score was just okay. Michael Giacchino's score for Up was outstanding. So was his score for Star Trek. Even his score for Land of the Lost was notable. Winning here will make up for not even nominating his electric score for The Incredibles and as a consolation for not awarding his score for Ratatoiulle because the score for Atonement was just that brilliant.


Crazy Heart

I care so little about this category, I can't even be bothered to look up the name of the song. The one category that usually adds nothing to a film. Okay, last year was an exception, but this decade has sucked as far as song nominees go. Thankfully, this year, it's a slam dunk. This will win.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

If They Had Ten Nominees for Best Picture During the 1990s......

To clarify how I'm coming up with these lists: Obviously, the five Best Picture nominees remain. I then go to the Best Director category and look at the nominees that aren't tied to a Best Picture nominee. If the Director nominee's film also received a screenplay or acting nominations, it is automatically included. If not, did the film have multiple nominations in the technical categories? If there were at least two, it makes the list. (Example: Robert Altman was nominated for the film Short Cuts, but that was the film's only nomination and was left off the list.)

Then I skipped to the screenplay nominees. Again, how many other nominations did the film get, with added weight for acting nominations.

Then I went to the acting categories, since most Best Picture nominees get at least one. Were there multiple technical nominations as well?

Most likely, that would cover most years, although, you will see, that I had to cheat in at least one year.

And the Best Picture nominees for 1990 could have been.....

Cyrano de Bergerac
Dances with Wolves**
Dick Tracy
The Godfather Part III*
The Grifters
Reversal of Fortune

Ten nominees would not have looked good for 1990. That Ghost and Awakenings made the top 5 told us that. That forgettable films like Avalon and Cyrano are here just add insult to injury. But it was amusing to look back 20 years later, not realizing Dick Tracy was that well represented at Oscar time with 7 nominations. Eventual winner Dances with Wolves was the only nominee with more noms than Dick Tracy.

And the Best Picture nominees for 1991 could have been.....

Barton Fink
Beauty and the Beast*
Boyz N the Hood
The Fisher King
The Prince of Tides*
The Silence of the Lambs**
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Thelma & Louise

YES! I KNOW! I CHEATED! Terminator 2 was not nominated for ANY of the top 8 categories. I base its inclusion on two factors. One, the only other movie that came close to qualifying under my rules was Fried Green Tomatoes. It was FGT's 2 noms vs. T2's 6. Two, I vividly recall the Oscar night during the acceptance speech of one of T2's FOUR Oscars, the winner exclaiming that James Cameron should be given an Oscar for his film and the thunderous applause the comment received. One thought that keeps recurring in my mind: What if John Singleton had directed a Best Picture nominee? Would his career have turned out differently? It's a thought I have again later with Oliver Stone.

And the Best Picture nominees for 1992 could have been.....

The Crying Game*
Enchanted April
A Few Good Men*
Howards End*
Husbands and Wives
Malcolm X
The Player
Scent of a Woman*

One thing I'm discovering, going back and breaking down the Oscar of the early 1990s: There's just not a lot to choose from. Unforgiven is a classic. As is The Crying Game. I'll even throw in The Player. But good Lord, the drop off after that. Eeek. I can't help but wonder if this era is what gave rise to the independent film boom that hits two years later.

And the Best Picture nominees for 1993 could have been.....

The Age of Innocence
The Fugitive*
In the Line of Fire
In the Name of the Father*
The Piano*
The Remains of the Day*
Schindler's List**
What's Love Got to Do with It

This was another tough year. Films like What's Love.... and Shadowlands scored multiple nominations in major categories but were left out everywhere else. I can't help but wonder if Jurassic Park might have come close to making this list.

And the Best Picture nominees for 1994 could have been.....

Bullets over Broadway
Forrest Gump**
Four Weddings and a Funeral*
Little Women
The Madness of King George
Nobody's Fool
Pulp Fiction*
Quiz Show*
The Shawshank Redemption*

It's funny how one's memory can fail you on trivial things. I TRIPLE-CHECKED to make sure I had my actual Best Picture nominees correct. I totally remember Bullets over Broadway being a nominee. Shocking that it received 7 nominations and not Best Picture. Especially considering that Four Weddings... only had 2 nominations.

And the Best Picture nominees for 1995 could have been.....

Apollo 13*
Dead Man Walking
Il Postino*
Leaving Las Vegas
Mighty Aphrodite
Sense and Sensibility*
The Usual Suspects

I don't buy this list at all. THIS was a crappy year for film. But there wasn't much else to put on the list. Dead Man Walking and Leaving Las Vegas were gimmes. Both had directing and screenplay nominations as well as nominations for the lead acting categories. But after that? Ouch.

And the Best Picture nominees for 1996 could have been.....

The Crucible
The English Patient**
Jerry Maguire*
The People vs. Larry Flynt
Secrets & Lies*
Sling Blade

Another case where once you get past the obvious contenders, there is a HUGE drop off. Evita makes the list for its five nominations, despite none in an major category. Most of the nominees in the Big Eight were either nominated for a Best Picture contender or were its film's only nomination. It didn't make it easy. At least Hamlet was up for screenplay. So was The Crucible, which had the benefit of its only other nomination being for Supporting Actress. But we are talking about a year where Oscars went to films like Independence Day, The Nutty Professor and The Ghost and the Darkness. Not exactly a banner year.

And the Best Picture nominees for 1997 could have been.....

As Good As It Gets*
Boogie Nights
The Full Monty*
Good Will Hunting*
L.A. Confidential*
The Sweet Hereafter
Wag the Dog
The Wings of the Dove

It's years like this one that I'm even doing this research. A lot of people bitched about Boogie Nights being passed over for lighter fare like The Full Monty or As Good As It Gets. But when you look to see where the other nominations landed, it becomes apparent that Boogie Nights probably came really close. Films like Wag the Dog and The Wings of the Dove were also considered strong contenders. The Sweet Hereafter, with only two nominations (Director and screenplay) would have been a nice surprise. I think people would have griped about Amistad making the list, arguing "Of course it's there. It's Spielberg."

And the Best Picture nominees for 1998 could have been.....

Central Station
Gods and Monsters
Life is Beautiful*
Out of Sight
Saving Private Ryan*
Shakespeare in Love**
A Simple Plan
The Thin Red Line*
The Truman Show

I really had to stretch on this one. It's funny to me because it's one of the few years where I really liked all five nominees (although William Goldman's article for Rolling Stone about how much he hated all five is still a classic.) The fact that I had to resort to a film like Out of Sight and it's whopping two nominations (Screenplay and Film Editing) or A Simple Plan (Screenplay and Supporting Actor) shows what a weak year it was overall and makes the argument why there SHOULDN'T be ten nominees.

And the Best Picture nominees for 1999 could have been.....

American Beauty**
Being John Malkovich
Boys Don't Cry
The Cider House Rules*
The Green Mile*
The Insider*
The Sixth Sense*
The Talented Mr. Ripley

This last one would have not made Kevin Smith very happy. But Magnolia aside, the four other add-ons could have replaced a film like The Green Mile. Boys Don't Cry and Topsy-Turvy each won more awards than the Green Mile, The Talented Mr. Ripley had more nominations and Spike Jonze was nominated for Best Director over Frank Darabont. It had to have been close.

Thanks for reading. It was a fun way to kill a dull Saturday waiting for the Super Bowl.

Friday, February 5, 2010

What If The Ten Nominees Rule Came Ten Years Ago.....

There was a fascinating article in USA Today on Friday explaining how the new Best Picture rules could shake things up. I won't go into detail, but they had a valid point. What else is interesting, in particular, were the comments of director Jane Campion (The Piano, Bright Star) who doesn't seem to like the idea of 10 Best Picture nominees. She claimed that it was the major studios who pushed for it since "their movies weren't getting nominated." She also seemed to feel that it somehow diminished the award itself.

I'm not quite sure what beef Ms. Campion has with the studios. They seemed to go out of their way to get her latest film, Bright Star, seen. In theaters, the film was distributed by Warner Bros. In the U.S., the DVD is being distributed by Sony and, in the U.K., by Fox. That's three different studios shelling out money to get her $8 million film seen. (The film grossed $4 million in the U.S.) She might consider that it was a collaborative effort of several studios just so her movie could get out there. It's not like the studios thought there was a huge demand for a movie about John Keats. She had a story to tell. They did what they could to get an audience to see it. And her little movie's whopping ONE nomination (Costumes) makes it seem a little bitter.

Another thing she should consider is that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is its own entity and does not answer to the studios. If the major studios had any say whatsoever, this rule would've gone into effect back in 1996 when the one Best Picture nominee from a major studio was Jerry Maguire. While the argument is valid that having more than 5 nominees allows for more audience friendly films to make the cut, I think they were more likely trying to avoid the discussion that an important film got snubbed and thus, the argument that the Academy is too high brow for the general public. Expanding to ten nominees, in a way, shows how close the more mainstream movie get to being legitimate contenders without showing how many votes each one got. Hence, why "The Dark Knight Rule" went into effect.

When the nominations were announced last year, there was genuine shock among Oscar enthusiasts that The Dark Knight failed to be nominated for Best Picture. It was considered a "sure thing" and a possible contender to win. In particular, I was quite shocked when The Reader was nominated for Picture and Director over Christopher Nolan's masterpiece that set a new standard for the superhero genre. The Reader, which isn't a bad film, didn't resonate with many people and just doesn't stand out in my mind.

But what The Dark Knight Rule has eliminated is the "who got snubbed?" discussion. There has been little talk at all about ANY film that got left out of the Best Picture race. The only film that jumps out to me was the Golden Globe winner for Best Comedy or Musical, The Hangover. Is The Hangover typical Academy material? Hardly. But it is a well made film from an artistic standpoint. Watch the technical aspects of the film and you'll see it is beautifully shot and edited very well, has a nice score and notice how much the costumes tell about each character. The writing is outstanding and even Mike Tyson gives a good performance. But you don't hear anyone crying foul over its snub. In fact, the articles I've read about this year's snubs fail to mention a single one involving Best Picture.

Which brings up the point of this posting: What if they'd made this rule ten years ago? What would the ten nominees have been? What complaints could have been avoided?

Well, I set some ground rules. It will happen eventually, I'm sure, but this year, there weren't any movies nominated for Best Picture as its only nomination. Every film had at least ONE other nomination in one of the other eight major categories. So, the first rule I set was that each of the "bottom five" had to be nominated in at least one other category of the "Big Eight", OR be the winner in another best film category (Animated, Foreign or Documentary.) After that, I noted the presence of a particular film in other categories. The more nominations, the greater the likelihood that a film "just missed" being one of the Best Picture nominees. Basically, I tried to take my own opinion of a film out of the picture and chose movies that looked like they had the nominations that normally go along with Best Picture. So let's see how the first decade of the new millenium could have looked like.

*=Was actually nominated

**=Best Picture Winner

And the Best Picture nominees for 2000 Could Have Been.....

Almost Famous
Billy Elliot
Cast Away
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon*
Erin Brockovich*
The Wonder Boys

2000 was considered a bad slate of Best Picture nominees. But tack on the "The Other Five" and, all of a sudden, that's not such a bad group of films after all. In a group like that, it's hard to imagine a movie like Gladiator even winning. See the difference having ten nominations would've have made when looking back?

Other Possibilities: Quills, You Can Count on Me

And the Best Picture nominees for 2001 Could Have Been.....

A Beautiful Mind**
Black Hawk Down
Gosford Park*
In the Bedroom*
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring*
Moulin Rouge*

Not quite the same effect that the extra nominations of 2000 had. But certainly, films like Black Hawk Down, which was also nominated for Best Director, and Amelie, which had the most nominations that year of any film NOT nominated for Best Picture, deserved to be in the same class as those that did get picked.

Other Possibilities: Ali, Monster's Ball

And the Best Picture nominees for 2002 Could Have Been.....

Far from Heaven
Gangs of New York*
The Hours*
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers*
The Pianist*
Road to Perdition
Talk to Her

Once again, a MUCH more well-rounded group. It certainly has the feel of a more wide open Oscar race.

Other Possibilities: About Schmidt, Bowling for Columbine, Catch Me If You Can

And the Best Picture nominees for 2003 Could Have Been.....

City of God
Cold Mountain
Finding Nemo
In America
The Last Samurai
The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King**
Lost in Translation*
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World*
Mystic River*

One of the downsides of having just 5 Best Picture nominees is when a relatively weak film slips through the cracks. The all-time greatest example was the nomination of The Towering Inferno for Best Picture in a year that also saw Chinatown, The Conversation, Lenny and, the eventual winner, The Godfather Part II nominated. Seabiscuit, while a good film, just didn't feel like it belonged with the rest of the group that was nominated. But when you add the other five, it seems a bit more legit.

Other Possibilities: The Barbarian Invasions, House of Sand and Fog

And the Best Picture nominees for 2004 Could Have Been.....

The Aviator*
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Finding Neverland*
Hotel Rwanda
The Incredibles
Million Dollar Baby**
Vera Drake

Now THAT'S a Best Picture slate! Ten very different films on ten very different subjects. Even the biopics were very different in tone and style. It does go to show what an AMAZING job Pixar does with their films that they would have pulled consecutive Best Picture nominations, even with using the rules for choosing. I do, however, have a hard time believing Closer would have made this list, but it was nominated enough not to presume it wouldn't.

Other Possibilities: The Motorcycle Diaries

And the Best Picture nominees for 2005 Could Have Been.....

Brokeback Mountain*
Cinderella Man
The Constant Gardener
Good Night and Good Luck*
Memoirs of a Geisha
Walk the Line

A more well-rounded race, for sure. The Constant Gardener and Walk the Line had to have come close to getting nominated. In fact, if you had asked me what films were nominated in 2005, I probably would have guessed Walk the Line and not Munich. Cinderella Man and Memoirts of a Geisha, not so much. Syriana is kind of in between.

Other Possibilities: A History of Violence

And the Best Picture nominees for 2006 Could Have Been.....

Blood Diamond
The Departed**
Letters from Iwo Jima*
Little Children
Little Miss Sunshine*
Notes on a Scandal
Pan's Labyrinth
The Queen*

I like that list a lot. And that's assuming other multiple nominees like An Inconvenient Truth or Children of Men didn't sneak in. A very competitive year, for sure.

Other Possibilities: Children of Men, An Inconvenient Truth, United 93

And the Best Picture nominees for 2007 Could Have Been.....

Away from Her
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Into the Wild
Michael Clayton*
No Country for Old Men*
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
There Will Be Blood*

This is one of the years where the ten nominations fail slightly. Not many of the Other Five pulled in more that 2-3 nominations in total. And the five that they did choose were pretty solid. This is definitely one of the years that support the argument of what it would look like if there weren't enough to fill out 10 slots.

Other Possibilities: Away from Her, La Vie en Rose, The Savages

And the Best Picture nominees for 2008 Could Have Been.....

The Changeling
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button*
The Dark Knight
The Reader*
Revolutionary Road
Slumdog Millionaire**

It's easy to write off the ten Best Picture nominee rule as being "The Dark Kinght Rule". But when you consider great films like Doubt (5 noms), Revolutionary Road (3 noms), and Wall-E (6 Noms), along with The Dark Knight (8 noms), one can't help but wonder just how close the voting was last year for Best Picture.

Other Possibilities: The Wrestler

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's Oscar Time Again!


The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

THOUGHTS: I was one of the few who didn't think District 9 would be here. I was wrong. I WAS, however, one who thought The Hangover would be. Again, wrong. Eight of the ten were mortal locks. District 9 and A Serious Man were the toss ups. Crazy Heart, Invictus or The Messenger (judging by their presence in other categories) could have easily filled those slots. I certainly would've taken Invictus or The Messenger (and, of course, The Hangover) over District 9. A Serious Man is the only one I haven't seen yet. I would like to say this: People have said what a crappy year it was for movies. Not for me. Of the 9 nominees I've seen, I gave EIGHT of them an A or A-. (Gave District 9 a B) Not a bad year at all. The Hurt Locker, FTW!!!!!


Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

THOUGHTS: None. Exactly as predicted. Jeff Bridges is a lock.


Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

THOUGHTS: Again, no surprises. Maybe Helen Mirren over Emily Blunt, but not a big surprise. Earlier, I predicted Meryl Streep would win since it's been 25 YEARS and her TWELFTH nomination since she last won. Her FIFTH nom in the last 10 years! But, no. Sandra Bullock is very popular in Hollywood and she just doesn't do "Oscar-worthy" very often. In my opinion, it shouldn't go to either of them. Watching Carey Mulligan in An Education was like watching Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. An enchanting, star making performance.


Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

THOUGHTS: Well, Damon and Plummer were surprises, I guess. I thought Damon sucked and I like Matt Damon as an actor. I was hoping for Anthony Mackie to be nominated for The Hurt Locker. But all the other nominations are irrelevant. Christoph Waltz will win. This is a case of a performance being called "Supporting" even though he's only called that because his name's not Brad Pitt. Practically the entire first 15 minutes are just Waltz talking.


Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo'Nique, Precious

THOUGHTS: No real surprises here. Utter joy that the "Zoe Saldana should be nominated for Avatar" hype was exactly that. I would like to say that this SHOULD have been Vera Farmiga's third nomination. I loved her in The Departed and she stole Nothing but the Truth. Up in the Air was another role that seemed tailor made for her. And she'll lose. This award belongs to Mo'Nique.


Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

THOUGHTS: ZERO surprises. If this had been a five nomination year for Best Picture, these would have been your nominees. Now that the Producers Guild and the Directors Guild have spoken, you will see the first woman to win Best Director. The woman who brought us Point Break. JOHNNY UTAH!!!!


The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The Messenger
A Serious Man

THOUGHTS: Excited to see the love for The Messenger. Terrific film. Won't win. Of the 8 major catergories, this one is the most exciting. It's a three horse race among The Hurt Locker, IB and Up. I think I predicted a Tarantino win here before, so I'll stick with that. It'll be the only chance to give a brilliant film some props.


District 9
An Education
In the Loop
Up in the Air

THOUGHTS: District 9 was a small surprise. In the Loop was a HUGE one. Being the Oscar dork I am, I actually WHOOed in the car when I heard it called out. Props to the Academy for recognizing a movie that was seen by so few people, the MPAA didn't even give it a rating. That said, this will be Up in the Air's only win of the night.


Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The White Ribbon

THOUGHTS: Anyone else remember when there was talk of Harry Potter being nominated for Best Picture? Anyway, the most deserving film of the bunch is The Hurt Locker, although I haven't seen The White Ribbon. This is probably one of the few tech categories where Avatar could lose.


District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds

THOUGHTS: Precious is a shock! Small movies RARELY get nominated here. I could've taken guesses at the nominees for an hour before guessing Precious. I thought Up in the Air was done very well. And a year that also saw Harry Potter, Star Trek and Sherlock Holmes, it's even more surprising. But again, The Hurt Locker deserves it. Avatar will probably get it.


The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
Sherlock Holmes
The Young Victoria



Bright Star
Coco Before Chanel
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
The Young Victoria

THOUGHTS: I hate this category. Unless there's a movie nominated for Best Picture that has thousands of costumes, you never know who will win this. I mean, LOOK at this list! The only movie to even get a wide release was Nine. Screw it. Let's go with Nine. In my "Calling My Shot" posting, I picked Inglourious Basterds.


Il Divo
Star Trek
The Young Victoria

THOUGHTS: None. I usually miss this one. I picked Avatar in the "Calling My Shot". I guess computer generated makeup still doesn't count. They must think it's a computer programmer who comes up with the look.


Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Hurt Locker
Sherlock Holmes

THOUGHTS: Fantastic Mr. Fox was a pleasant surprise. I loved that film. This is the one category I disagree with nominating The Hurt Locker. The score, what little there is, feels like it was lifted right off the There Will Be Blood soundtrack. But I am excited for this category. Michael Giacchino will win the Oscar he should have won for The Incredibles. To go along with the Emmy he won for Lost. In my opinion, he's the best composer in film right now.


Crazy Heart
Paris 36
The Princess and the Frog
The Princess and the Frog

THOUGHTS: I HATE this category. Not because it's hard to pick, but because it shouldn't even exist. There used to be a category called Best Song Score. THAT, to me, made sense. Award a movie for having great songs, not a great song. It's would be like having a separate writing category for Best Line of Dialogue or a sound effect category for Best Use of the Wilhelm Scream (which would go to Up this year. You don't expect a Wilhelm Scream to come from a dog.) Crazy Heart will win this. At least it's easy this year.


The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Transfomers 2

THOUGHTS: Why the face?! ANOTHER year without a nomination for 20-time nominee, never winner Kevin O'Connell?! He hasn't gone this long without being nominated since the Drought of '93-'95. Apparently, the Academy didn't like how Public Enemies sounded. Perhaps he'll be back next year for his work on Prince of Persia. Or not. Avatar deserves this one and will win.


The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek

THOUGHTS: Avatar will win. The Hurt Locker deserves it.


District 9
Star Trek

THOUGHTS: If there was EVER a category that was so unquestionably going to a particular movie, it's this one. 100% to Avatar. The ONLY reason there's even another nominee is because the voters had to pick three. I doubt even the people who worked on the other films would have voted against Avatar.


Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells

THOUGHTS: Gee. Let's see. One of these films was actually nominated for Best Picture. So, I pick the Secret of Kells. Kidding. I'd never actually heard of that one until this morning. I didn't care for Coraline. Haven't seen the P & the F yet. But I will say this: I liked The Fantastic Mr. Fox ALMOST as much as I liked Up. But Up will win and deservedly so.


Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon)
El secreto de sus ojos
Un prophète
La teta asustada

THOUGHTS: It's rare when I've actually seen one of these and 2009 was no exception. When filling out your ballots on Oscar night, go with the one that's been nominated outside of the catergory. I choose the White Ribbon since my pick in "Calling My Shot" wasn't even nominated.


Burma VJ: Reporter i et lukket land
The Cove
Food, Inc.
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Which Way Home

THOUGHTS: Like the foreign language category, it's rare when I've seen one of these, much less two. The Cove and Food, Inc. are the two heavy weights, but I can't imagine The Cove losing, barring some scandal that it was faked in any way. If you haven't seen The Cove, go rent it. It's a documentary that was more exciting to watch than the last Indiana Jones and a VERY important message.

HAPPIEST SURPRISE: In the Loop for Adapted Screenplay


NOM THAT MADE ME YELL "WHY THE FACE?!": Matt Damon for Invictus

MOST BEWILDERING SNUB: An Education for Best Costume Design. Those clothes were just cool.

P.S. I don't actually say "Why the face?" For the purposes of writing a family friendly blog, I just prefer to not actually say WTF?