Monday, February 28, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
And eventually the novelty of the whole thing wears thin. I wanted to like Drive Angry at a certain level, but found myself anxious for the closing credits as nothing happening really mattered to me eventually. Drive Angry wants to cut out the long years and effort it takes for a film to be a cult hit. It wants to show up with the credentials without doing any of the leg work. And this fundamental issue is the most glaring problem.
Friday, February 25, 2011
* Worst Acceptance Speech: Jennifer Connelly for A Beautiful Mind. Hands down. A robotic, emotionless speech from a piece of paper in her hand, one she stared at without looking up the entire time.
* Weirdest Acceptance Speech: Marlon Brando winning for The Godfather. Accepting the Oscar on his behalf was Sacheen Littlefeather. She spoke on behalf of Brando, who thought awards were unnecessary until the treatment of the Native Americans in this country improved. What? I don’t even think Brando cared one way or another, I think he just threw a dart at his “wheel of political issues.”
* This year is a tipping point for the Academy. Either they can stay the same as they always have, rewarding convention (The King’s Speech). Or they can move into the new progressive America and reward the picture of a new generation (The Social Network).
* I feel like Leonardo Dicaprio is the Academy’s newest Paul Newman. He will continue to rack up countless deserving nominations, some of which he should win. But his lifetime achievement award will come before his actual award.
* Darren Aronofsky is a long way away from winning Best Director. Just saying.
* If you want an upset win in really any category this year, pay close attention early on. The supporting acting awards are usually very soon in the telecast, and Supporting Actress might set the pace for more surprises. But if Melissa Leo wins, expect things to follow the script all night.
* Whoever wins editing this year will win Best Picture.
* I’m not sure how Black Swan didn’t pick up a nomination for Art Direction. This seems like a picture that exists because of the magnificent art direction.
* Whenever I am listing the ten Best Picture nominees, I always rifle through nine of them and forget The Kids Are All Right. I don’t know if that means anything, just something that always happens to me.
* YOU ONLY HAVE TWO DAYS TO FILL OUT YOUR BALLOT FOR THE OSCAR CONTEST. CLICK THE LINK TO THE RIGHT TO FILL OUT YOUR BALLOT… IF YOU LIKE FREE MOVIES AND STUFF.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
THE FIGHTER – I have said repeatedly that The Fighter is barely a sports film. It is a film about the struggles of a very extreme family. Mark Wahlberg is Micky Ward, The Fighter, but I feel he is fighting against his family more than anyone in the boxing ring. Christian Bale plays his brother Dicky, a former boxer himself who has become consumed with crack addiction. As soon as Bale shows up on the screen you know you are about to see an Oscar-winning performance. Not because it is a baiting performance but because Bale is simply that good. The orbiting cast of The Fighter includes Melissa Leo as Micky and Dicky’s managing mother and Amy Adams as Micky’s tough talking girlfriend. The Fighter is an excellent family drama but an average boxing film. Luckily, the family elements are powerful enough to elevate the picture. CHANCES: The Fighter will be rewarded in the Supporting Actor category. I see no scenario where it wins Best Picture.
INCEPTION – The technical wizardry of Inception serves as damnation for the Academy and the huge mistake they’ve made in not nominating Christopher Nolan for Best Director. If there ever was a film to be recognized for structure and creation, it is Inception. This twisting and turning thriller starring Leo Dicaprio as a man in charge of planting an idea in a man’s dream has a structure that is nothing short of mind blowing. Involving layers of dreams, subtle nuances of each level, and an expansive cast of quality actors, Inception is the blockbuster for the thinking person. It is a smart film that also happens to be loaded with action and thrills and a massive box-office haul. CHANCES: Had Christopher Nolan been nominated for Best Director, I would think Inception would have a better chance at winning it all. And if you were to ask me in the summer I would have said nothing would top Inception. But sitting here today, I don’t see it having much of a chance.
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT – Director Lisa Cholodenko had a very clear and concise direction for The Kids Are All Right, and she executed the film masterfully. The film involves a married lesbian couple in California with two children. The children seek out their sperm-donor father, a flaky Bohemian played by Mark Ruffalo. The meeting brings these people together and begins to disrupt a family unit that seemed content at the time. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play the married couple with amazing ease and believability, and Mark Ruffalo’s performance nabbed him a Supporting Actor nomination. The strength here is in the cast in a film that otherwise would not interest me. The subject matter is just a certain distance from me, but Cholodenko does an effective job of making this picture about a family, and not about a gay family. CHANCES: This is another film that has no honest chance due to the fact Cholodenko was not nominated. The nomination is the win.
THE KING’S SPEECH – Okay, here we go. The King’s Speech has the honor of picking up the most nominations with twelve. The film, about King George VI overcoming his debilitating stutter through the help of a speech therapist and the support of his wife, Elizabeth, is a nice film about perseverance and courage in the face of adversity. But what exactly does it have to say that is new or original? The King’s Speech is decidedly British, and by this I mean it is a little cold and distant and intricately detailed. But the film is a bit of a bore. Colin Firth deserves his nomination, and he deserves his inevitable win this Sunday night, but overall The King’s Speech is small and stunted. CHANCES: This is one of a very tight two-horse race, and as we sit The King’s Speech appears to have the momentum and a very good chance at winning. I can only hope the Academy doesn’t play it this safe.
127 HOURS – Danny Boyle’s electric adventure film about Aron Ralston, the weekend warrior trapped behind a boulder and forced to sever his own arm in order to survive, is a compelling and intimate film. If you want to see an interesting film about courage and perseverance in the face of real adversity, then this is the film you should see. James Franco has the honor of being the first host to be nominated for Best Actor. Franco is obviously the most important aspect of a film that focuses on his character the entire time, and he shines in this role. Boyle does some fascinating things with his camera and with the story, showing us the imagination of Ralston and what he does to stay sane. Some people would argue the film is gimmicky, but the gimmicks serve a very specific purpose. CHANCES: 127 Hours won’t win Best Picture. It is too small and will be overwhelmed by much larger, more talked about films.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
2000: 73RD ACADEMY AWARDS
NOMINEES/WINNER: Chocolat * Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon * Erin Brockovich * Traffic / Gladiator
2001: 74TH ACADEMY AWARDS
NOMINEES/WINNER: Gosford Park * In the Bedroom * Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring * Moulin Rouge! / A Beautiful Mind
2002: 75TH ACADEMY AWARDS
NOMINEES/WINNER: Gangs of New York * The Hours * The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers * The Pianist / Chicago
If you were to ask me which film should have won Best Picture over Rob Marshall’s adaptation of Chicago, I would have to say take your pick. In the lowest-rated Oscar telecast in history, one of the weakest films to ever win took home the big prize. Meanwhile, Martin Scorsese’s passion project Gangs of New York is shut out in ten categories. Not that it is Scorsese’s best work, but it is still a better film than Chicago. Other than Gangs, however, The Pianist might be the best film of the bunch. Roman Polanski’s World War II drama had already surprised everyone with Best Director and Actor wins, so I think a Best Picture nod would have completed the night. WINNER: THE PIANIST
2003: 76TH ACADEMY AWARDS
NOMINEES/WINNER: Lost in Translation * Mystic River * Master and Commander * Seasbiscuit / The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004: 77TH ACADEMY AWARDS
NOMINEES/WINNER: The Aviator * Finding Neverland * Ray * Sideways / Million Dollar Baby
This year has to win the award for fewest letters making up the nominees. Too bad the Academy went with the longest one. Million Dollar Baby feels trite and manipulative at this distance. The boxing picture screams overrated, and feels like a makeup award for Mystic River the year before. Ray and Finding Neverland have no business in the pool for me, and The Aviator is missing a few pieces to make it perfect. But Sideways, Alexander Payne’s endearing dramedy, will forever hold up in my opinion. WINNER: SIDEWAYS
2005: 78TH ACADEMY AWARDS
NOMINEES/WINNER: Brokeback Mountain * Capote * Good Night, and Good Luck * Munich / Crash
For all of its posturing and progressive rhetoric, Hollywood still fears certain issues. This was to be the year that a film like Brokeback Mountain would break through a sort of invisible ceiling in Hollywood, where a picture about gay relationships would win the top prize. But alas, lobbying and pressure from the right people swayed enough voters, and Crash shocked the world with a win. Crash is not only one of the worst films to ever win Best Picture, but it is simply a poor film. It is heavy-handed and obvious, without nuance or any semblance of realism regarding race relations. This is one of the biggest misfires in Oscar history. WINNER: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
2006: 79TH ACADEMY AWARDS
NOMINEES/WINNER: Babel * Letters from Iwo Jima * Little Miss Sunshine * The Queen / The Departed
This was Martin Scorsese’s year, finally, and say what you will about the merits of The Departed it was clearly the Best Picture out of the nominees. It may not be Scorsese’s best, but that ship sailed in 1980 with Raging Bull and again in 1990 with Goodfellas. If ever there was a makeup award that deserved to be handed out, it was this year. And to top it off, The Departed holds up as a great crime drama. WINNER: THE DEPARTED
2007: 80TH ACADEMY AWARDS
NOMINEES/WINNER: Atonement * Michael Clayton * Juno * There Will Be Blood / No Country for Old Men
Even though this was another low-rated telecast for the Academy, 2007 was a fantastic year for quality films. Aside from Atonement, each of these pictures stands on its own as a fantastic film. I really have no issue with No Country winning the big award, but this is perhaps my most personal decision. In my opinion, There Will Be Blood will age better than No Country, and is one of three or four best American films ever made. WINNER: THERE WILL BE BLOOD
2008: 81ST ACADEMY AWARDS
NOMINEES/WINNER: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button * Milk * The Reader * Frost/Nixon / Slumdog Millionaire
This was the beginning of what looks like a trend of screwing Christopher Nolan. The Dark Knight not even getting a nomination is criminal. Instead, the fifth and final nomination spot went to The Reader, one of the most drab and forgettable pieces of garbage I can remember being nominated. This year’s nominees were a scattered group, with none of them really registering as unforgettable aside from Danny Boyle’s kinetic, inventive drama Slumdog Millionaire. The Academy made the only choice they could make given the grouping. WINNER: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (THE DARK KNIGHT, really)
2009: 82ND ACADEMY AWARDS
NOMINEES/WINNER: Avatar * The Blind Side * District 9 * An Education * Inglourious Basterds * Precious * A Serious Man * Up * Up in the Air / The Hurt Locker
Let’s see what this year has in store, and if the Academy gets it right…
Monday, February 21, 2011
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
* There has been twelve hours of uncovered audio from a conversation between Francois Truffant and Alfred Hitchcock. This is the film nerd equivalent of finding the Holy Grail. You can check it out here.
* I Am Number Four = Twilight directed by a Michael Bay clone and produced by Michael Bay. No thanks.
* What looked like a very cut-and-dried Oscar year a few months ago is turning out to have several intriguing races. The Supporting Actress race feels tighter and tighter, with Melissa Leo not running away from Hailee Steinfeld or Helena Bonham Carter. And even though The King’s Speech has pulled in front of The Social Network for Best Picture, I feel like it is a shaky lead.
* It seems like there are already some problems with Zack Snyder’s Superman, mainly with the third act of the screenplay. I don’t see good things for this film, but I hope I am wrong.
* I think Liam Neeson is our most underrated actor aside from Ethan Hawke. I’m not sure about this new one, Unknown, but the guy has been on the screen for so long and done so many things, yet he still gets looked past. This is Oskar Schindler we’re talking about!
* Anyone who goes to see Big Momma’s: Like Father, Like Son, should be allowed to see only this movie at the theater for the rest of the year. I don’t want to accidentally run across one of them when I go to the movies.
* I don’t think that made sense, but you get my drift.
* “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while… you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Richard Gere plays Bill, a blue-collar worker who one day gets into an argument with a foreman at the steel mill where he works outside of Chicago. He kills the foreman, purely a mistake, and flees. Bill hears of the wheat harvest in Texas and gathers up his girlfriend, Abby (Brooke Adams), his sister, Linda, and hops on a train. This is where one of the most striking images can be seen in Days of Heaven as the train rolls along a bridge across a deep ravine. The shot took my breath away, and served as a symbol to me of the images to follow. It is a shot that represents these characters’ passage into the Texas plains where the majority of the film lives.
Once the three get a job working the harvest, Bill tells everyone Abby is his sister. I still do not know fully the motivation behind this other than he wants to change his profile from Chicago for fear of being found out as a murderer. The harvest is on the farm of a single man, called simply through the narration of young Linda “the famer.” The Farmer spots Abby and is smitten with her. He wants her to stay with him after the harvest and live with him at his ominous mansion that is almost always in the background of the exterior shots, seemingly watching over the events. Bill overhears a conversation The Farmer has with his doctor where the doctor tells him he has but a year to live, so he persuades Abby to take up with The Farmer because when he dies she could get the money and the three of them would be set. Of course this plan sounds good at first, but becomes complicated once The Farmer and Abby marry and seem to be falling in love.