Monday, February 27, 2012
Anyway, expect a very delayed reaction from me in regards to the Oscars. I also have a movie review coming up soon so stay on your toes.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
- Best Picture: The Artist
- Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
- Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
- Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
- Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
- Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
- Best Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
- Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne & Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants
- Best Foreign Language Film: Iran, A Separation
- Best Documentary Feature: TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay & Richard Middlemas, Undefeated
- Best Animated Feature: Gore Verbinski, Rango
- Best Cinematography: Robert Richardson, Hugo
- Best Film Editing: Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- Best Art Direction: Dante Ferretti & Francesca Lo Schiavo, Hugo
- Best Costume Design: Mark Bridges, The Artist
- Best Original Score: Ludovic Bource, The Artist
- Best Sound Editing: Philip Stockton & Eugene Gearty, Hugo
- Best Sound Mixing: Tom Fleischman & John Midgley, Hugo
- Best Visual Effects: Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman & Alex Henning, Hugo
- Best Makeup: Mark Coulier & J. Roy Helland, The Iron Lady
- Best Documentary Short: Daniel Junge & Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Saving Face
- Best Animated Short: William Joyce & Brandon Oldenburg, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
- Best Live Action Short: Terry George & Oorlagh George, The Shore
- Best Original Song: Bret McKenzie, Man or Muppet
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Hugo will probably win a great amount of technical awards, as it should. While some bloggers and critics have championed it, it's a real shame that it's been virtually ignored and misunderstood by mainstream audiences. It's such a visual delight, a personal film on a grand scale, a wonderfully insightful tale about a once forgotten visionary. In many ways, it is a masterpiece. How is The Artist being championed over Hugo?
The Tree of Life's awards plight is more understandable and I'm just happy it has been nominated in the best picture and director category. I proclaimed it the best film of 2011 and I stand by that. No film in 2011 came close to matching the Tree of Life in terms of vision, editing, scope. It does everything, it goes way beyond films have ever gone. It's not afraid to throw all of its ideas at you without worrying whether or not it will stick. It's the most imperfect film of the best picture nominees, but it's also nothing like any film that's been made this year.
Obviously though, The Artist is nothing like any film that's been made this year as well. It's a silent film. It's difference compared to other films in 2011 is pretty obvious. I like what 2011 had to offer us when it comes to movies because we've had many films that are so different from each other visually and artistically. Unfortunately, almost none of those films have been a huge success in the box office. The Descendants has been slowly racking up the box office numbers, but considering it's the most accessible film this year, it's kind of a joke that it hasn't raked it in as much as it should have.
People complaining about the Oscars choices not reflecting the thoughts and minds of the people need to silence themselves. It's not the movie industry's fault that it's best films have largely been shunned by American audiences and it's great that the Oscars chose to recognize them. It's just a shame the Oscars will ultimately be awarding the most self-aggrandizing film of all the movies nominated. The Artist is a film about Hollywood, presumably loved by Hollywood and yet audiences are more-or-less indifferent. Audiences don't care about silent movies and it's a shame. At the very least, they don't care about any film, it seems, that challenges them in anyway. 2010 was such an anomaly with Inception, Black Swan, and The Social Network becoming big successes that year. But look at the marketable aspects of those films: Christopher Nolan's follow up to The Dark Knight, a movie that promises lesbian sex scenes, and a movie about facebook. They were great films but they also had a big thing that Hollywood could market. 2011 films, as great as they are, are too complex and too different for Hollywood to be able to market to American audiences. It's ironic that The Artist is being so championed by Hollywood as it represents a time in Hollywood that simply no longer exists. The movie industry isn't dying, it's stronger than ever. But it's strong because the movies that are the most successful are the most recognizable, most easy-to-swallow brand name type movies. And even some of the most recognizable brand names did little business in 2011, including The Muppets, which proves that parents have fucking lost it when it comes to taking their kids to the movies. Alvin and the Chipmunks 3 does great business but The Muppets just does ok. I don't blame some Hollywood execs for giving up on audiences, they've given up on themselves.
So enjoy the silence, America. Enjoy sitting behind the tv screen, watching the Oscars with a puzzled expression on your face. "Hey, I haven't seen any of these movies nominated, what's the deal?" Don't worry, just go back to watching your Transformers 3 Blu-Ray and continue to dumb yourself down because the movies nominated for the Oscars just don't make any sense to you. We live in a world where people actually get pissed off via social networking sites when a band like Bon Iver wins Best New Artist. "Who the fuck is Bon Iver?!" I don't know, maybe try googling him. You know how to use the internet, all of his songs are on the internet. Why must you watch an awards show where only the people that you recognize wins awards? Or only movies you recognize? It's Hollywood's fault that you didn't see those movies? Maybe Hollywood and the Academy are picking The Artist because it's their way of saying "Fuck you" to American audiences. You don't like that a black and white silent film won best picture? You don't like that it's filled with a mostly unrecognizable cast? Fuck you. You couldn't even watch movies starring Brad Pitt or George Clooney this year. You don't care about the people who act in the movies or the people who make the movies. You'd rather watch a movie you recognize because it's a sequel to a movie you've seen. Or a movie you recognize because it's a remake of a movie that came out 10 years ago. Or a movie you recognize because it's a 3D animated version of a great cartoon tv show even though the 3D animated version is a complete bastardization of the cartoon show. There have been plenty of great movies to see this year. Hollywood gave you dozens of visual gifts and you threw them away. They're not gonna just stop awarding them because you don't feel like seeing them anymore.
Don't we like good movies? Don't we care about quality? Or do we just care about watching robots exploding and fighting with each other? Completely CGI-filled visually chaotic masturbatory clusterfucks. That's what we've been relegated to. A movie like The Dark Knight Rises is a true anomaly and once it has come and gone, the plight of the summer blockbuster will be as dim and unfortunate as ever.
Or maybe not, maybe people will get their act together. Maybe we can find a happy marriage between what the audience wants and what a great filmmaker can make. Maybe audiences are just confused right now. Either way, for now, all you can do this weekend is enjoy the silence.
BEST FEATURE (Award given to the Producer)
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
"Margin Call," Director: J.C. Chandor; Producers: Robert Ogden Barnum, Michael Benaroya, Neal Dodson, Joe Jenckes, Corey Moosa, Zachary Quinto
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
(Given to the best feature made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director, and producer)
"The Descendants," Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
"50/50," Will Reiser
BEST FEMALE LEAD
Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn"
BEST MALE LEAD
Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants"
BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"
"The Artist," Guillaume Schifmann
BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director)
"The Interrupters," Steve James
BEST FOREIGN FILM (Award given to the director)
"A Separation," Asghar Farhadi
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
(Given to one film’s director, casting director, and its ensemble cast)
"Margin Call," Director: J.C. Chandor; Casting Director: Tiffany Little Canfield, Bernard Telsey; Ensemble Cast: Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
Sophia Linn - "Take Shelter"
SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Mark Jackson - "Without"
TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Heather Courtney – "Where Soldiers Come From"
Sunday, February 12, 2012
The British Oscars, basically. Aaaaand the Artist wins almost every major award that it was nominated for. Yawn.
WINNER: "The Artist"
"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
George Clooney - "The Descendants"
WINNER: Jean Dujardin - "The Artist"
Michael Fassbender - "Shame
Brad Pitt - "Moneyball"
Gary Oldman - "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
Bérénice Bejo - "The Artist"
Viola Davis - "The Help"
WINNER: Meryl Streep - "The Iron Lady"
Tilda Swinton - "We Need To Talk About Kevin"
Michelle Williams - "My Week With Marilyn"
WINNER: Michel Hazanavicius - "The Artist"
Nicolas Winding Refn - "Drive"
Martin Scorsese - "Hugo"
Tomas Alfredson - "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
Lynne Ramsay - "We Need To Talk About Kevin"
Best Animated Film
"The Adventures of Tintin"
Best Adapted Screenplay
Jim Rash, Nat Faxon, Alexander Payne - "The Descendants"
Tate Taylor - "The Help"
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon - "The Ides of March"
Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin - "Moneyball"
WINNER: Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan - "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
"George Harrison: Living In A Material World"
Rising Star Award
WINNER: Adam Deacon
Outstanding British Contribution To Film
Best Original Screenplay
WINNER: Michel Hazanavicius - "The Artist"
Kristin Wiig, Annie Mumolo - "Bridesmaids"
John Michael McDonagh - "The Guard"
Abi Morgan - "The Iron Lady"
Woody Allen - "Midnight In Paris"
Best Supporting Actress
Carey Mulligan - "Drive"
Jessica Chastain - "The Help"
Judi Dench - "My Week With Marilyn"
Melissa McCarthy - "Bridesmaids"
WINNER: Octavia Spencer - "The Help"
Outstanding British Film
"My Week With Marilyn"
WINNER: "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
"We Need To Talk About Kevin"
Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh - "My Week With Marilyn"
Jim Broadbent - "The Iron Lady"
Jonah Hill - "Moneyball"
Philip Seymour Hoffman - "The Ides of March"
WINNER: Christopher Plummer - "Beginners"
Best Production Design
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
Best Debut by a British Director, Writer or Producer
Richard Ayoade - "Submarine"
WINNER: Paddy Considine, Diarmid Scrimshaw - "Tyrannosaur"
Joe Cornish - "Attack the Block"
Ralph Fiennes - "Coriolanus"
Will Sharpe, Tom Kingsley, Sarah Brocklehurst - "Black Pond"
Best Film Not in the English Language
WINNER: "The Skin I Live In"
Best Costume Design
WINNER: "The Artist"
"My Week With Marilyn"
"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
Best Makeup & Hair
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
WINNER: "The Iron Lady"
"My Week With Marilyn"
WINNER: "The Artist"
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
Best Film Editing
"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
Best Original Music
WINNER: Ludovic Bource - "The Artist"
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
Howard Shore - "Hugo"
Alberto Iglesias - "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
John Williams - "War Horse"
Best Visual Effects
"The Adventures of Tintin"
WINNER: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
Best Animated Short
WINNER: "A Morning Stroll"
Best Short Film
"Mwansa The Great"
"Only Sound Remains"
WINNER: "Pitch Black Heist"
"Two And Two"
Thursday, February 9, 2012
I'm ashamed to say that Melancholia is only the second Lars von Trier film that I've seen. For those who don't know, Lars von Trier is pretty well-known Danish filmmaker who is often labeled an "enfant terrible." For me, he's been a shell that I've been sort of afraid to crack, but I have seen and immensely enjoyed "Breaking the Waves." Still, that's not nearly enough for me to feel familiar and comfortable with von Trier's work (although, you can never really get too comfortable) so I wonder if that lack of familiarity affected my viewing of Melancholia because, honestly, I wasn't all too taken by the film.
The film stars Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Kiefer Sutherland and it's broken up in two parts. Basically, it's a look into the lives of two sisters Justine (Dunst) and Claire (Gainsbourg) days before a mysterious new planet collides into Earth. Since von Trier decides to give you a glimpse of what's going to happen at the end with some breath-taking extreme slow-motion shots of the characters in the film that are shown in the very beginning. The combination of those shots and the opening title card made me feel really excited for the rest of the movie.
However, the rest of the movie feels a little uneven especially in the first-half which I feel is marred by the hand-held camerawork aesthetic that von Trier chooses to employ. That said, you get a pretty good sense of who Justine is in the first half as the film does a great job of exploring a character going through a stage of depression whilst trying to enjoy herself and blend in during her own wedding. Justine's flaky, odd behavior comes much to the slight annoyance of her new husband and especially annoys John (Kiefer Sutherland) who paid a great deal of money to make the wedding reception possible. There's a lot of great, slightly humorous little moments in the first half but ultimately, it doesn't really amount to much.
The second half of the film is most definitely the better half as it gets right to the essentials of what the movie is all about: the psyche of these two sisters as planet Melancholia moves closer and closer to planet Earth. The whole second part of the movie just contains John, Claire, Justine, and Leo (John and Claire's son). In fact, the second half of the film is often quite brilliant and intense, especially when you know what's about to happen. Justine appears to become more and more relaxed and happy despite the feeling of this being the last days of human existence whereas Claire reacts the way I'm sure most would react: sheer, utter despair.
There is definitely something very jarring about watching the film's final moments unfold. The two sisters and young Leo sitting together in a "magic cave" as they wait for the end to come and then watching the planets collide is both beautifully bleak and quite disturbing. Couple that with the fact that film just fades to black and the end credits appear in total silence and... yeah, holy shit.
It's refreshing to see a film come along that is unapologetic in its approach to depict the last days of Earth. I especially enjoyed the way it was just about these four characters whereas Hollywood would have scenes with the government clamoring to find an answer or a solution and depictions of news media covering it all. But no, keeping the film about these characters makes it feel that much more personal and relatable.
Still, one has to wonder what "Melancholia" really amounts to, at the end. Lars von Trier's personality and intent is just all too clear and the movie really just feels like an F U to its audience. Of course this might delight fans of von Trier's work, but ultimately, it winds up leaving the entire audience feeling cold, too cold. There's nothing left, literally. It just happens. While there are some great performances here and the film really picks itself up for the second half, I ultimately feel nothing for this movie. For an end-of-the-world movie, it didn't feel powerful enough. It didn't leave a strong impression on me. When the characters die at the end, it just made me laugh and shrug my shoulders. Should I be disappointed in myself for feeling that way? I don't know, perhaps I'm already too much of a cynic to really be moved by a movie of this nature.
Then again, I was also very taken by the film's opening moments and maybe it was because I was so moved by the film's opening, that the ending ultimately just did not compare. Perhaps I expected too much and felt let down. Again, actually seeing planet Melancholia collide with the Earth was definitely something else, but after it happened, it just didn't leave any impact on me whatsoever.
Ultimately, Melancholia is an interesting film from Lars von Trier and maybe I'll revisit it after seeing more of his work. I don't really know if I can fully recommend it, but if you're looking for something interesting, something new, something artsy, then you should go out and see it. If you're looking to have a nice evening and want to watch something uplifting, this is not the film for you.
Monday, February 6, 2012
- “The Artist” Thomas Langmann, Producer
- “The Descendants” Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
- “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” Scott Rudin, Producer
- “The Help” Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
- “Hugo” Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
- “Midnight in Paris” Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
- “Moneyball” Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
- “The Tree of Life” Nominees to be determined
- “War Horse“ Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
Best Picture: The Artist - I'm picking The Artist because all signs point to The Artist for the win. I can't say I'm too comfortable with that pick, but it's for my own personal reasons. I think it's just a weird year and that The Artist is just too slight, way too slight. Of course it makes great use of the silent film gimmick, it's very well-made, but... I don't know, man. Best picture winner? Really? Oh well, better get used to the idea because I'm 95% sure it's happening.
- “The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius
- “The Descendants” Alexander Payne
- “Hugo” Martin Scorsese
- “Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen
- “The Tree of Life” Terrence Malick
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius. There's a lot of great directors on this list, the one with the least experience is the front-runner. Michel Hazanavicius has made the film that's gotten the most awards attention. They had no problems giving this award to Tom Hooper last year. It's crazy to think Hazanavicius will beat out Scorsese and Malick and Woody Allen, but when you're hot, you're hot. I'm 75% sure Hazanavicius will win.
Actor in a Leading Role
- Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”
- George Clooney in “The Descendants”
- Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
- Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
- Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”
Best Actor: George Clooney. Both Clooney and Pitt gave career-best performances in 2011, but Clooney has been getting the most attention for his performance. I could see voters feeling torn between the two and Jean Dujardin winding up on top, but ultimately, I'm 80% sure Clooney wins.
Actress in a Leading Role
- Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”
- Viola Davis in “The Help”
- Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
- Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
- Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”
Best Actress: Viola Davis - I'm only about 52% sure on this one. I think it's either between her or Meryl Streep but I think Davis has the edge right now. Streep gets nominated like every year but always seems to lose out to someone else (Streep does have two Oscars, last one came in 1982). Viola Davis seems like the one she most likely would lose too. Even though everyone seemed to think Streep knocked it out of the park with Margaret Thatcher, Viola Davis has been getting just as much attention. If Viola were to win, she'd be only the second black actress to win the Best Actress award.
Actor in a Supporting Role
- Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”
- Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”
- Nick Nolte in “Warrior”
- Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
- Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer. Christopher Plummer has got this one in the bag. I love Max von Sydow and he's just as deserving, but Plummer simply had the better role and performance. 100% sure on this one.
Actress in a Supporting Role
- Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”
- Jessica Chastain in “The Help”
- Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
- Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”
- Octavia Spencer in “The Help”
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer. Melissa McCarthy is the dark horse here, but it's been Octavia that's been getting all the attention. I'd give Octavia 60% of a chance, McCarthy has a 30% chance, and then 10% between Chastain and Bejo.
Animated Feature Film
- “A Cat in Paris” Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
- “Chico & Rita” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
- “Kung Fu Panda 2″ Jennifer Yuh Nelson
- “Puss in Boots” Chris Miller
- “Rango” Gore Verbinski
Best Animated Film: Rango. Considering they snubbed Tintin, Rango looks to be the most likely chance here. 90% confident it will be Rango.
- “The Artist”
Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
- “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2“
Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
- “Midnight in Paris”
Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
- “War Horse”
Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales
Hugo deserves it the most, it looks gorgeous. But The Artist also does a great job of looking authentic. I'm giving Hugo the edge here though, I think Hugo will pick up a lot of technical awards.
- “The Artist” Guillaume Schiffman
- “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Jeff Cronenweth
- “Hugo” Robert Richardson
- “The Tree of Life” Emmanuel Lubezki
- “War Horse” Janusz Kaminski
I think Hugo gets this one too.
- “Anonymous” Lisy Christl
- “The Artist” Mark Bridges
- “Hugo” Sandy Powell
- “Jane Eyre” Michael O’Connor
- “W.E.” Arianne Phillips
They generally like to go with period piece/costume drama. I'm giving the edge to Jane Eyre here, but I could also see it going to The Artist.
- “Hell and Back Again”
Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
- “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”
Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
- “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”
Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas
I haven't really been paying attention to documentaries. I only recognize Pina, but it'll probably go to... um... damn, I really don't know what to pick. Ok, If a Tree Falls. That's who is winning.
Documentary (Short Subject)
- “The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement”
Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
- “God Is the Bigger Elvis”
Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
- “Incident in New Baghdad”
- “Saving Face”
Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
- “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom”
Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen
The Tsnuami and the Cherry Blossom... I guess
- “The Artist” Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
- “The Descendants” Kevin Tent
- “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
- “Hugo” Thelma Schoonmaker
- “Moneyball” Christopher Tellefsen
Again, I really see Hugo winning a lot of technical awards, but if The Artist is indeed the frontrunner for Best Picture and Director, it'll have to win a few technical awards. I'm giving this one to The Artist, but I wouldn't be surprised if Hugo won. 51% sure about The Artist, 49% sure about Hugo.
Foreign Language Film
- “Bullhead” Belgium
- “Footnote” Israel
- “In Darkness” Poland
- “Monsieur Lazhar” Canada
- “A Separation” Iran
A Separation looks like the obvious choice, but the foreign language voters have surprised before.
- “Albert Nobbs”
Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
- “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″
Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
- “The Iron Lady”
Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland
Tough one. Meryl Streep really looked convincing as Thatcher, but Harry Potter could also get the award.
Music (Original Score)
- “The Adventures of Tintin” John Williams
- “The Artist” Ludovic Bource
- “Hugo” Howard Shore
- “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Alberto Iglesias
- “War Horse” John Williams
This one has to go to The Artist. The Artist largely worked because of its score.
Music (Original Song)
- “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
- “Real in Rio” from “Rio” Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett
Man or Muppet all the way. It's embarrassing that there's only two nominations in this category.
Short Film (Animated)
- “Dimanche/Sunday” Patrick Doyon
- “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
- “La Luna” Enrico Casarosa
- “A Morning Stroll” Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
- “Wild Life” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
Short Film (Live Action)
- “Pentecost” Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
- “Raju” Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
- “The Shore” Terry George and Oorlagh George
- “Time Freak” Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
- “Tuba Atlantic” Hallvar Witzø
- “Drive” Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
- “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Ren Klyce
- “Hugo” Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
- “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
- “War Horse” Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom
I would like Drive to win here, I think it deserves it the most. I could also see Dragon Tattoo grabbing this award. But I said Hugo would win a lot of technical awards and I meant it. Hugo gets sound editing.
- “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
- “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
- “War Horse”
Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson
I don't think, however, that Hugo will win both sound awards. I think this goes to Dragon Tattoo.
- “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″
Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
- “Real Steel”
Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
- “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
- “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier
This has to go to Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
- “The Descendants” Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
- “Hugo” Screenplay by John Logan
- “The Ides of March” Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
- “Moneyball” Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin Story by Stan Chervin
- “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan
I think The Descendants gets this one. If it weren't for The Artist, I think The Descendants would be getting the most awards. Only thing is that Payne has already won a screenplay Oscar before, but it's been enough years since then that I think he'll get the win again. Moneyball could also win, but Sorkin would just last year. I'm sticking with The Descendants.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
- “The Artist” Written by Michel Hazanavicius
- “Bridesmaids” Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
- “Margin Call” Written by J.C. Chandor
- “Midnight in Paris” Written by Woody Allen
- “A Separation” Written by Asghar Farhadir
The Artist might win this, but I also think Midnight in Paris could win this one. Even though Woody doesn't care about the Oscars, the Oscars love to reward him when they can. I say it's a 50/50 between The Artist or Midnight in Paris, I'll give the edge to The Artist, though.
So, I have a pretty good spread of awards going to some key films:
5 Oscars to The Artist
3 Oscars to Hugo
2 Oscars to The Descendants
2 Oscars to The Help
And 1 to a bunch of others.
To sum up my feelings in one word: meh
2. The Skin I Live In
4. The Adventures of Tintin
10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
11. The Descendants
13. X-Men: First Class
14. Margin Call
15. The Muppets
16. The Artist
17. The Ides of March
18. Source Code
20. Win Win
And then Super 8 and Midnight in Paris would be like 21/22. Other than that, I'd pretty much call that an official list. Complaints? Problems? Tell it to the judge.
A pretty strong year, but I can't wait to move onto 2012. With the Tree of Life, I just find the persistence and boldness of Malick's vision to be such an incredible achievement in itself and there are moments in that film that definitely go beyond anything else I've seen in 2011. The Skin I Live In is a close second though, I'm surprised not as many people were as wowed by that film as I was. I found it to be deliciously perverse and one of the most original stories conceived all year. I have a feeling Shame will move up higher and higher as the next few months/years go on, there's a lot to like about that film. Drive and Moneyball are really great too, though. I keep reading more and more Drive backlash but I don't care if people merely look at it as a 90 minute music video. There is no film of recent years that's quite like it.
Martha Marcy May Marlene -
A fairly strong debut from director Sean Durkin. About a young girl trying to readjust herself into a normal life after being involved in an abusive cult in upstate New York. Martha Marcy May Marlene succeeds in being very atmospheric without using too many camera tricks. One perceived flaw of the film is the way that it's structured as the film goes back and forth going into Martha's past with the cult and her present. Aside from cleverly trying to blend the timelines, it ultimately just confuses the story a little bit. Elizabeth Olsen is something to watch here, don't be surprised to see her name pop up more in the future. Overall, a very good film, although not as effective as it could've been. Rating: 7.5/10
Margin Call -
Another newcomer, JC Chandor, shows remarkable control of his craft on his first time out. A great script with a really strong cast makes Margin Call a fun film to watch on a couple of levels. The film is about a investment bank on the verge of an economic collapse. Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Zachary Quinto, Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker, and Demi Moore all fit quite nicely into this low budget drama. Rating: 8/10
I was surprised by how enamored I was with this film even though it also goes back and forth from past to present at a dizzying rate. About a man trying to strike a romance with a young woman while coping with his father's recent death. The film also goes into the man's father coming out of the closet at age 75. The subject matter is dealt with in a very quirky, albeit melancholic way, but there's a sweetness and an earnestness to how the material is portrayed and what results is a very affecting drama. Rating: 8.5/10
The Artist -
Perhaps I should give this a bigger review since this is nominated for so many Oscars, but there's really not all too much to say about it, at least in my view. It's hard not to be charmed by this excellently made homage to silent film (the film is about 98% silent as well). It's constantly entertaining, but the story feels slight and it all feels too much like an homage without really attempting to be something different on its own. Having said that, I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy this film a lot. It will probably win a lot of major Oscars and I've already expressed my ambivalence to the whole Oscars this year anyway. This is a really cute film. Rating: 8/10
Now onto the 2012 movie (and my first usage of a letter grade):
Steven Soderbergh latest film ultimately feels like another exercise in style, but his style is pretty off the hook all throughout, if I may say so. MMA fighter Gina Carano stars as the badass private contractor who was employed by the government for a covert operation. Some crossing and double crossing ensues and people get their asses kicked, mainly by Gina's character Mallory Kane. There's a great cast here (Michael Fassbender, Ewen McGregor, Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas) and Gina gives a pretty charismatic performance but you can see that acting isn't really her strong suit. Kicking ass is a strong suit of hers, though, and she does a lot of that here. The action scenes are also shot in a very refreshing way. Come see the film for a few kickass scenes, but don't expect to be much more entertained by it unless you like watching Steven Soderbergh show you how awesome he is working with the camera. Grade: B-
Thursday, February 2, 2012
1. Once Upon a Time in America, 1984
Director: Sergio Leone
Once Upon a Time in America is number 1 on this list because it's a masterpiece and among the greatest films ever made, in my humble opinion. My opinion isn't all that humble though, I feel pretty strongly about this and I don't think you could possibly disagree after one viewing. Everything about this film is art. The combination of music and imagery is a masterstroke. You want to talk about a filmmaker going out with a bang, Sergio Leone should've had the loudest bang. The 229 minute version of the film, the only version that should be seen (unless a longer version ever gets released) was not what initially came out in theaters in 1984. The studio completely butchered it, put it all in chronologically order, and left out some key plot elements in a way-too-short 139 minutes. Even the Godfather films are at least 3 hours long or more, what the fuck were they thinking? This was Sergio Leone's version of an epic crime film and, dammit, he may just have outdone Coppola himself. Why? Because the 229 minute version, the version that would eventually be released on home video and would come to be the version most people know today, does what Godfather parts I and II do... but it does it in one movie.
Once Upon a Time in America has very lengthy scenes of these Jewish mobsters when they were kids and they are among the most beautiful scenes ever caught on film. It moves so gracefully topped with Ennio Morricone's score. Watching young Noodles fawn over young Deborah (young: Jennifer Connelly, old: Elizabeth McGovern). Watching the four mobsters: Noodles (Deniro), Max (James Woods), Patsy, and Cockeye run around together as kids and petty thieves is just a marvel. The scenes make the brutal violence that these boys commit as adults feel even more brutal and terrible than it otherwise would feel. None of these characters are forgivable people, they are ultimately very unlikable characters. They have colorful personalities, but Sergio Leone never allows them to get away with what they've done. While some are allowed to grow old, like Noodles, he's ultimately a fraction of a man and you'll never look at him the same ever again after what he does to Deborah, the love of his life.
If it looked like before that I was disparaging The Godfather movies, do not get me wrong. When I do my '70s list, they will get their proper due, believe me. Besides, you can't go against a filmmaker like Sergio Leone who is a legend in his own right having made Clint Eastwood a star in the '60s with his Dollars trilogy. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is among the best of its genre. He's as legendary of a director as they get and he's no better represented as an artist and filmmaker than with this film. Once Upon a Time in America is a much different story than The Godfather saga. The Godfather Saga is also ultimately about an unforgivable man in Michael Corleone, but Noodles never had a transformation. At least Michael was trying to do what was in the best interest of his family, at least initially. There's no honor in the things that Noodles does, he's a killer, best exemplified when he went to prison at a young age for stabbing a police officer. He had a propensity for violence ever since he was a pre-teen, much more than his friends ever did, especially Max who often talked a big game. But Noodles did the dirty work because, deep inside, he is a violent man. What I feel Leone was trying to say is that this is the type of person you have to be in order to succeed in this business. People like Vito Corleone are a dime a dozen. Most mobsters are cold-blooded criminals like Noodles.
Despite its four hour plus running time, this is a film that moves with ease. It's very easy to get caught up in this movie because it's such a big story. It literally goes into everything, how the gang came to be, the time period they were living, the scores they were trying to settle, the women they were seeing. It's all there. Being able to characterize them as kids is crucial because when they are the men they eventually come to be, you can still see the kid that they used to be. That innocence they once might have had is completely stripped away by the time you see them as grown men. Every single scene has added weight and significance when they're adults. You feel like you've known them for years.
Beside all this, Once Upon a Time in America has some really well-done action sequences. There is plenty of violence and chaos in this film and when it happens, it's as vicious as any other mafia movie. This film does not hold back for a second, but what it does do is allow time to build and for suspense to grow. It's a movie that takes its time but it's always worth it. Everything about this movie is beautiful even at its ugliest. The sequence where adult Noodles takes Deborah out to an elegant dinner could rival any romance movie and the subsequent scene will send shivers down your spine and will constantly make you question yourself and the whole movie. I couldn't handle that scene the first time I saw it. I loved the rest of that movie, but that scene I despised. Well of course I despised it, I was supposed to. I don't want to spoil it because I feel so few have seen this film and I wouldn't ruin it for a second, but it will shock and disgust you too. It's not even what the film shows, there's nothing completely graphic about it. It's just shocking because of everything that happens in the movie before that moment.
Like Raging Bull, Once Upon a Time in America is at the top of the list because of how timeless it is and how it differs from anything the rest of the '80s had to offer. It's a true anomaly: an epic art crime film that is a truly and solely dictated by its director, Sergio Leone. It's a film that for so long has deserved its placing next to all other films that are typically placed among the best films of all-time. It's about time more people acknowledged this. With his final film, Sergio Leone left us a gift of a film that will forever be cherished and adored to the lucky people who discover this film. I know I have been touched by it because I feel it's the one gangster film that truly gets its characters right. They aren't antiheroes, they don't deserve our affection or admiration. They're cold, detestable people. That Sergio Leone was still able to make such a beautiful film despite this fact is a testament to his brilliance.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
2. Raging Bull, 1980
Director: Martin Scorsese
In retrospect, what really makes Raging Bull stand out from almost all other '80s movies was what it ultimately represented. 1980 was officially the end of an era, the end of the New Hollywood movement. Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate would cast a dark cloud over all other filmmakers from the '70s and very few came out unscathed. Martin Scorsese was one of the few who would survive and continue to thrive in the '80s and Raging Bull is what ultimately separates him from his contemporaries. Making a movie like that, making it that good at that time would ultimately be very important for his legacy. Fact is, none of his contemporaries of the New Hollywood movement were making movies as good as Raging Bull around that time. Apocalypse Now came out in August of 1979, but filming stopped two years earlier. By 1980, Francis Ford Coppola had already begun his decline.
When Raging Bull came out, there was mixed reactions. The positive reviews were really positive, but others were turned off by a lot of aspects of the film. It wasn't long, however, until people started hailing Raging Bull as a classic. My point is, if Raging Bull didn't wind up being a classic, it could've marked the end of Scorsese as well. Scorsese had so much going against him when he was making the film, he was at the end of his rope. He had a serious cocaine problem before Deniro forced him to make the movie. Raging Bull saved his life.
It also marked the beginning of a burgeoning movie career for Joe Pesci who plays Jake LaMotta's brother, Joey. Robert Deniro, of course, plays Jake. Cathy Moriarty played Vicky, Jake's tortured love interest. The acting in this film is key to the film's success, but what puts Raging Bull over the top is Martin Scrosese's utter commitment to bring this story to life in every way he possibly can. Raging Bull is Scorsese's finest work from a technical standpoint. This is Martin Scorsese at his most artistically sound, having a complete control over his craft while still being able to indulge in stylistic flourishes. The different ways he uses the boxing ring, the way sound is used, the way black and white was used. From the opening shot of Jake LaMotta in the ring to the somewhat abrupt ending, Raging Bull has this poetic realism to it that really highlights the love Martin Scorsese has for the movies.
The subject matter initially wasn't something Scorsese went for. Robert Deniro pushed and pushed for Scorsese to make the film and he definitely knew something about Scorsese that Scorsese didn't know about himself. The filmmaker finally relented, read the book, and finally realized that this wasn't just a boxing picture. Boxing was a metaphor for Jake LaMotta's tempestuous life. The whole world was the boxing ring. Jake LaMotta used everything he could in real life to fuel himself to be able to box his opponents. He tortured himself, his wife, his brother until they all walked away from him. At the end, Joey couldn't even look him in the eye anymore after what Jake did to him. You can't blame Joey, you hate Jake for what he did, but Jake is also a human being. That's what I feel some people miss when seeing Raging Bull. Jake is definitely human, just a very tortured one.
Marty Scorsese could relate because he was just as tortured at the time. He was hooked on cocaine, he obsessed over his career, alienating others in the process. His films were to ultimately represent the pain and the turmoil that laid inside Scorsese's soul. Raging Bull was the culmination of that. Just like Jake LaMotta let out his demons in the boxing ring, Scorsese let it out in every frame of that film. I've talked about seeing a filmmaker putting his heart and soul into a film, well, that's what Raging Bull is all about to me. I got that from the first time I saw it. I saw the passion, I saw the utter devotion to the material. Raging Bull made me want to make movies, made me want to write about movies. Raging Bull was what made me want to major in Film in college. It was no longer just a hobby, it was a goal, it was something I had to do. I have passion inside my heart too and I feel I intrinsically understand everything Martin Scorsese had to say with this film. We may come up with our own interpretations and it may mean something different to us, obviously. But I wouldn't be here typing up on this blog and writing so much about all my favorite movies if it wasn't for this film. That Raging Bull is still #2 on my '80s list should tell you how strongly I feel about #1. Don't let the #2 placing fool you. I still consider Raging Bull to be among the greatest films ever made, at least in the last 40 years. Number 1 just happens to be included on that list as well (but more on that later, huh?).
What makes Raging Bull forever watchable for me would be character motivations. The three main characters are so deeply layered that you can have multiple interpretations as to why they do the things they do. Did Joey really have an affair with Vicky? Why did Joey viciously attack Salvy at the Copacabana? Why did Vicky admit to having an affair to Jake? Why did she go back to him? What made Jake LaMotta tick? Why is he the man that he is? I ask myself these things everytime I watch the film and I'm not sure I ever come closer to having an answer. It's the type of thing that just makes these characters feel that much more human to me. I have that feeling as well when we initially meet Vicky and Jake LaMotta slowly, quietly manages to have Vicky fall for him. He doesn't say much when they first meet and yet Vicky became so taken by him and decided she had to be with him. There was something unspoken between them initially and that was more than enough. Scenes like that are why Deniro won the Best Actor Oscar, it's not because of all the weight he gained.
Raging Bull is probably the only American film from the '80s that has become an indisputable classic since its release. AFI's first 100 movies list had the film at #24, the highest rated '80s film on the list. When they revised the list ten years later, Raging Bull was at #4. It's been listed on Time magazine as one of the best movies of all-time. It was on Sight and Sound's 2002 top ten list of one of the greatest films of all-time. Raging Bull is a movie too big to ignore and yet for such a classic, it's so violent, it's so volatile. It's filled with Catholic guilt and imagery. It's filled with anger and a feeling of there being nothing left to lose. Of all the types of films that often makes those best of all-time lists, Raging Bull is the one that has the most heart.
3. Fanny and Alexander, 1982
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Watching Fanny and Alexander early on, watching this wonderfully elaborate, meticulously detailed Christmas celebration unfold in the early 1900's is truly something to behold. The beginning of the film depicts this family, the Ekdahls, at their happiest. The kids are happy, the adults are lively, making love. The theatre they run is going on successfully. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, the house is so gorgeous and so detailed, everything about this family is so well-established. Then the father, the patriarch of the family, dies suddenly. The mother, Emilie is devastated. The kids, Fanny and Alexander, are stricken with grief.
Before they can fully get over their grief, their mother, weakened by this tragedy, accepts a proposal of marriage from a local bishop. The Bishop at first appears kind enough, willing to take in Emilie's kids, wanting to raise them. But almost immediately, there's this sense of dread both within the Ekdahl family (except for Emilie) and with the kids. The bishop wants Emilie and the kids but doesn't want the rest of her family involved... at all. He practically forbids them from seeing any of them and the kids are subsequently forced to live virtually as prisoners in the bishop's cold, desolate place. Along the way, the film really starts to focus on the little boy, Alexander who is so naturally portrayed by the child actor, Bertil Guve, it's really easy to get involved and feel sympathy for the kid. But credit, obviously, must also go to Ingmar Bergman who characterizes everybody so well, especially Alexander, that by the time the film is almost exclusively about Alexander, you can feel everything the poor kid is feeling. Obviously it's very easy to feel sorry for a kid, any kid, but the bishop really turns out to be such a cold son of a bitch, you can't help but wish something terrible would happen to him.
Fanny and Alexander is a long, sprawling drama and it works so brilliantly because right away you basically get a sense of its pacing. It's very easy to get involved with the film because it just so happens to be one of the most gorgeous looking films ever made. This is not a surprise since Bergman's longtime collaborator Sven Nykvist is well-renown for his excellent work on previous Bergman films (he also did Crimes and Misdemeanors with Woody Allen). First renown for his work with black and white, once Bergman switched to color, Nykvist made great use of it. Making great uses of sharp contrasts of blood red and angelic white. The film even won Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards in 1984, which rarely happens with a foreign language film.
But Fanny and Alexander, much like Au revoir les enfants, is so defiantly great that it could not be ignored by critics and audiences worldwide. It wasn't a big hit in the US because it's so damn long, but it was well-respected and critically lauded all across the world. It's one of the premiere examples of great world cinema. Plus, it's Ingmar Bergman, a legend of the craft. He transformed the fictional drama into deep meditations of life and death, a theme he would explore again and again and would always find a new hidden layer of truth to everything. He wasn't a filmmaker, he was a philosopher who made films. He influenced so many who came after him, he even influenced his own contemporaries. And sure, the majority of his films were bleak, dark, and often melancholy, but Fanny and Alexander is like the end-all, be-all of all Bergman films.
When I say that, I mean it literally. After all, Fanny and Alexander would turn out to be Ingmar Bergman's last major work as a filmmaker. He would go on to make some tv films in Sweden and wrote some screenplays, but Fanny and Alexander was basically his swan song and he put everything into this film, you can tell. He put everything into all his films, really, but Fanny and Alexander is the culmination of years of great filmmaking. Bergman never had a peak, never had a bad period in his entire filmography, always worked at a high level churning out classics left and right, but his filmography definitely ended with a triumphant bang. A final film that any filmmaker would hang his hat on.
Many suspected that the young boy, Alexander, was much like Ingmar Bergman himself. Bergman grew up in a strict household. His father was a Lutheran minister, Ingmar lost his faith at the age of 8. It's no wonder why Alexander is so well-characterized for such a young boy. He represents all of what Ingmar Bergman was feeling as a child and perhaps still felt at the age of 64 when he made this film.
Much like Blue Velvet is both Lynch's best film and best way to be introduced to the man's work, Fanny and Alexander is the same way for me. It's my favorite Bergman film (although, there's still quite a bit of Bergman films that I've yet to see) and it made me appreciate him as a filmmaker moreso than I ever had before. I enjoyed other films I saw by him, but Fanny and Alexander put it all into perspective. It put Bergman into perspective for me, it made me understand what was so great about him because the film represents all of the themes that Bergman had explored in his career and it all unfolds in such a wonderful, formalist manner. It's as if he was saying, "if you still don't understand me after watching this film, you'll never understand me."
There are so many wonderful characters in Fanny and Alexander, so many great moments. It can't just be relegated to being classified as an '80s film. It's so timeless and could've been made at anytime. The fact that it was made at the end of Bergman's career gives it an added weight and sense of importance. This is an extraordinary film by one of cinema's most celebrated filmmakers.