Monday, February 28, 2011

The 83rd Annual Academy Awards

PICTURE: The King's Speech
DIRECTOR: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
ACTOR: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
ACTRESS: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christian Bale, The Fighter
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: The King's Speech- David Seidler
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Social Network- Aaron Sorkin
ANIMATED FEATURE: Toy Story 3
DOCUMENTARY: Inside Job
FOREIGN FILM: In a Better World
ART DIRECTION: Alice in Wonderland- Robert Stromberg & Karen O'Hara
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Inception- Wally Pfister
COSTUME DESIGN: Alice in Wonderland- Colleen Atwood
FILM EDITING: The Social Network- Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall
ORIGINAL SCORE: The Social Network- Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
ORIGINAL SONG: "We Belong Together," Toy Story 3- Randy Newman
MAKE-UP: The Wolfman- Rick Baker & Dave Elsey
LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: God of Love
ANIMATED SHORT FILM: The Lost Thing
DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM: Strangers No More
SOUND MIXING: Inception
SOUND EDITING: Inception
VISUAL EFFECTS: Inception

The King's Speech- 4 wins
Inception- 4 wins
The Social Network- 3 wins
Alice in Wonderland- 2 wins
The Fighter- 2 wins
Toy Story 3- 2 wins

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Independent Spirit Awards

FEATURE: Black Swan
FIRST FEATURE: Get Low
JOHN CASSAVETTES AWARD: Daddy Longlegs
DIRECTOR: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
ACTOR: James Franco, 127 Hours
ACTRESS: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
SUPPORTING ACTOR: John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Dale Dickey, Winter's Bone
SCREENPLAY: The Kids Are All Right- Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
FIRST SCREENPLAY: Tiny Furniture- Lena Dunham
DOCUMENTARY: Exit Through the Gift Shop
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Black Swan- Matthew Libatique
FOREIGN FILM: The King's Speech
TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD: Marwencol
SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD: Mike Ott, Littlerock
PRODUCER'S AWARD: Anish Savjani, Meek's Cutoff

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
(given to a films director, casting director, and ensemble cast)
Please Give

Is it wrong to be virulently angry that The King's Speech won best foreign language film?  Otherwise a fine slate, especially digging the mention for Dale Dickey, who was my personal favorite performer from Winter's Bone.  This marks her first award this season.

TRIVIA TIME:
  • The Spirits were revisiting 2008 a bit, as that year an Aronofsky film (The Wrestler) took home top honors, and James Franco won for his supporting role in Milk.
  • Aronofsky's director of photography of choice, Matthew Libatique, was previously honored by the Spirits for Requiem for a Dream in 2000.  Black Swan marks his first Oscar nomination; ten years for the Academy to realize his talent...Coincidentally, The Wrestler also won the Spirit's cinematography award, but that was the only film of Aronofsky's not to filmed by Libatique (Maryse Alberti won that award.)
  • This isn't the first time foreign film was won by a film in English...An Education won last year and Once won in 2007; but that movie's a lot more awesome, right?
  • This is only the fourth year of the Robert Altman Award, dedicated to a films ensemble-- past winners are I'm Not There, Synecdoche, New York and A Serious Man.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cesar Awards

France's equivalent to the Oscars.  With the caveat that overlaps are impossible.  Still fun.

FILM: Of Gods & Men
DIRECTOR: Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer
ACTOR: Eric Elmosnino, Gainsbourg
ACTRESS: Sara Forestier, The Names of Love
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Michael Lonsdale, Of Gods & Men
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anne Alvaro, The Clink of Ice
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: The Names of Love- Baya Kasmi & Michel Leclerc
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Ghost Writer- Robert Harris & Roman Polanski
FOREIGN FILM: The Social Network
ANIMATED FEATURE: The Illusionist
DOCUMENTARY: Oceans
NEWCOMER (ACTOR): Edgar Ramirez, Carlos
NEWCOMER (ACTRESS): Leila Bekhti, All That Glitters
FIRST FILM: Gainsbourg
EDITING: The Ghost Writer- Herve de Luze
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Of Gods & Men- Caroline Charpentier
COSTUME DESIGN: The Princess of Montpeniser- Caroline de Vivaise
SET DESIGN: Les Adventures Extraordinaires d'Adele Blanc-Sec
MUSIC: The Ghost Writer- Alexandre Desplat
SHORT FILM: Logorama
SOUND: Gainsbourg

Of Gods & Men is the big winner, the Oscars chose against the film in the foreign language category this year.  The share the love mentality extended to Polanski's The Ghost Writer-- all deserving in film editing and score; that film is tight and crisp as hell, with a lovely and eerie score by Alexandre Desplat (an Oscar hopeful for his less interesting music in The King's Speech.)  Olivier Assayas' epic Carlos got a little shout out, while Logorama was the short film choice, which was an Oscar winner last year.

Foreign film went to The Social Network...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

International Film Music Awards

FILM SCORE OF THE YEAR
How to Train Your Dragon- John Powell

BEST SCORE (Drama)
The King's Speech- Alexandre Desplat

BEST SCORE (Comedy)
The Lightkeepers- Pinar Toprack

BEST SCORE (Animated)
How to Train Your Dragon- John Powell

BEST SCORE (Fantasy\Sci-Fi)
TRON: Legacy- Daft Punk

BEST SCORE (Thriller\Action\Adventure)
The Ghost Writer- Alexandre Desplat

BEST SCORE (Documentary)
Oceans- Bruno Coulais

BEST INDIVIDUAL COMPOSITION
"Alice's Theme," Alice in Wonderland, by Danny Elfman

COMPOSER OF THE YEAR: Alexandre Desplat

Opening This Week

 
WIDE RELEASE
  • Hall Pass- the return of raunch titans Bobby & Peter Farrelly, of There's Something About Mary and Dumb & Dumber fame.  Here Owen Wilson and Jason Sedakis star as married men (their female counterparts of Christina Applegate and Jenna Fischer) who are given a free pass for a week without marriage.  R-rated stuff ensues.  Does anybody else feel the sweetly gross Farrelly Bros. shtick seem a bit passe?
  • Drive Angry- the fifth (?) 3-D film of 2011 is a Nicolas Cage vehicle...he drives a car and stuff.  It marks the second 2011 Cage starrer (the first being Season of the Witch), wake me when he decides to make Leaving Las Vegas 2, or wait that wouldn't work, would it? 

LIMITED RELEASE
  • Heartbeats- the second film of Canadian wunderkund Xavier Dolan, good luck finding his promising first feature, I Killed My Mother, it barely released in this country despite a top prize from Cannes in 2009.  Looks very pretty.
  • Of Gods & Men- Sony Pictures Classics, one of the few saving graces in bringing acclaimed foreign language films to the United States, presents the French contender for the 2010 foreign film Oscar...it alas, wasn't nominated, despite acclaim.  A tale of the French perspective in the combative France\Algeria dispute, conversely Outside the Law, nominated for foreign language film this year outlines similar content, from the Algerian point of view. Winner of the Grand Prix at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Actors

Tuesday, February 23rd marked the official date the ballots were due back to the Academy.  So all is done; pencils down...now we just wait for the magic makers (dread bringers) of PriceWaterhouseCoopers to count.  Unfortunately, recounts have never occurred in Academy history.

BEST ACTOR
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
James Franco, 127 Hours
Colin Firth, The King's Speech

One of the fiercest races this year!  What with the surging momentum of Bardem, juggernaut box office of Bridges' True Grit, hip cool jack of all trades in Franco, and I can't continue.  The race ended last year when Colin Firth nabbed his first Oscar nomination for A Single Man, changed the facet of his Mr. Darcy-plagued career and it was announced his next project was a royalty period flick.  Done, signed, sealed, and statute delivered by Sandra Bullock this coming Sunday.

BEST ACTRESS
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Here there's a race of Bening and Portman, a classic veteran vs. ingenue race, although calling Portman an ingenue would be fairly false-- she's been acting forever, and her pretty, petite self is almost playing against type in Black Swan.  Portman has won the most critical prizes of the year, as well as the Golden Globes, SAG Award, BAFTA, Critic's Choice vs. Bening's Golden Globe prize and NY Film Critics Circle award.  It's Portman's Oscar to lose I believe, and the case for Bening is more online boredom than anything else, and what if scenarios.  However she's a strong second with her Hollywood royalty, and she's gotten better at playing the game-- plopping herself on Jeff Bridges' lap during the Oscar luncheon and name calling her husband- the Golden Globe winner for 1962 Most Promising Newcomer-- Oscar nomination number four is clearly hers.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale, The Fighter
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

A race is brewing between Bale and Rush.  It was moving along swimmingly as Bale won nearly every critics prize, the Golden Globe, Critic's Choice, SAG Award...but then Rush won the BAFTA, cruising along with The King's Speech's royal flush.  What happens now?  Well, the performance itself should lead to Bale all the way, and it would be churlish to bet against him, since he's The Fighter's best hope for a statute, a film that scored 7 nominations, the performance nicely mixes Bale's hardcore physical intensity with a role that's flashy but fundamentally more moving than his previous work.  Plus, Bale has played nice during the awards season; probably helpful that he's been filming throughout.  Though Rush is a close second, and a clearly beloved actor (damn he's already a triple crowner: he's won an Oscar, Emmy and Tony) in the top contender...watch out for a King's Speech sweep, he could float in.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Here's where it gets tough.  The chart shows Leo in the lead-- she's won the Critic's Choice Award, Golden Globe, SAG Award and the most critics prizes, but she's come off a bit loony, and those self-produced FYC ads may have hurt, maybe not.  Carter's won the BAFTA and is in the frontrunner-- supporting actress and best picture have matched often in the past (think: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago and Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind for recent examples), plus she might have a sense of overdue status.  Then there's Steinfeld whose in the most popular film in the group and there might be sense to reward True Grit with a major award.  Adams gives a strong, against type performance (which has worked, she's a movie star on her third nomination), while Weaver is a critical favorite who might prevail, assuming enough voters has watched her small Aussie crime drama.  My point, there's a case for everyone, and this category is the most ripe for surprise.  A betting dude should probably check Leo, since logical awards momentum points her way, but crazy things have happened here before: MARISA TOMEI for My Cousin Vinny.  Carter's win would point a King Speech flush...

Costume Designers Guild Winners

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

PERIOD FILM: The King's Speech- Jenny Beaven
CONTEMPORARY FILM: Black Swan- Amy Westcott
FANTASY FILM: Alice in Wonderland- Colleen Atwood

For what will the Academy prefer: the understated costuming in the years top contender, the over the top, more is more (which they typically prefer in tech categories) for a Tim Burton flick (which they typically prefer in tech categories: see Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd), or the densely crafted, character specific designs in a film wrongfully snubbed! (Write-in campaign for Black Swan!)  Stupid Rodarte controversy...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ACE Eddie Winners

The film editors guild have chosen:

DRAMATIC FEATURE- The Social Network
MUSICAL OR COMEDY- Alice in Wonderland
ANIMATED FEATURE- Toy Story 3
DOCUMENTARY- Exit Through the Gift Shop

The sliced and pristine cutting in The Social Network prevails, which will hopefully (it better be) repeated on Oscar night; re-watching the film has only made it's technical achievements seem that much stronger-- it repeats soooo well.  The garish Alice in Wonderland is considered to be a more stronger put together film than The Kids Are All Right, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Easy A and Made in Dagenham; okay...

Sound Winners

BEST SOUND EDITING (MPSE, or the Motion Picture Sound Editors Guild)

Best Dialogue and ADR- The Social Network
Best Sound Effects and Foley- Inception
Best Music- Inception
Best Music in a Musical Film- Country Strong
Best Sound Effects in an Animated Film- How to Train Your Dragon
Best Sound Effects in a Foreign Film- Micmacs

I have a feeling (a sixth sense) that the sound awards will be an Inception orgy, of course The King's Speech is nominated for best sound, and the sound scape in that film is crazy good!@#


BEST SOUND (CAS, or the Cinema Audio Society)

Best Sound Mixing- True Grit

True Grit saddles it's first guild honor.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

International Cinephile Society Awards

BEST PICTURE
  1. A Prophet
  2. Carlos
  3. Another Year
  4. The Social Network
  5. Everyone Else
  6. I Am Love
  7. Blue Valentine
  8. Black Swan
  9. Exit Through the Gift Shop
  10. Inception 
BEST PICTURE NOT IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE
  1. A Prophet
  2. Carlos
  3. Everyone Else
  4. I Am Love
  5. White Material
  6. Wild Grass
  7. Mother
  8. Dogtooth
  9. Vincere
  10. Secret Sunshine
BEST DIRECTOR
Jacques Audiard, A Prophet
runner-up: Olivier Assayas, Carlos

BEST ACTOR
Edgar Ramirez, Carlos
runner-up: Tahar Rahim, A Prophet

BEST ACTRESS
Lesley Manville, Another Year; Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Vincere
runner-up: Tilda Swinton, I Am Love

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Niels Arestrup, A Prophet
runner-up: John Hawkes, Winter's Bone

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Olivia Williams, The Ghost Writer
runner-up: Elle Fanning, Somewhere

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Another Year- Mike Leigh
runner-up: Everyone Else- Maren Ade

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Social Network- Aaron Sorkin
runner-up: Wild Grass- Alex Reval & Laurent Herbiet

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The Illusionist
runner-up: Summer Wars

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Exit Through the Gift Shop
runner-up: Boxing Gym

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
I Am Love
runner-up: True Grit

BEST FILM EDITING
The Social Network
runner-up: Carlos

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
I Am Love
runner-up: Inception

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
The Social Network
runner-up: The Ghost Writer

BEST ENSEMBLE
Another Year
runner-up: The Kids Are All Right

BEST PICTURE NOT RELEASED IN 2010
The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu
Certified Copy
Film Socialisme
Heartbeats
Honey
I Killed My Mother
Kosmos
Meek's Cutoff
Mysteries of Lisbon
Of Gods & Men
Uncle Boomne Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Opening This Week

WIDE RELEASE
  • Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son- Let's get this out of the way...Martin Lawrence hopes to revive his career with what must be the eighth, twelfth (actually third) incarnation of the his most financially viable character.  Good for him, wish him all the luck.
  • I Am Number Four- An actiony\thriller-ish\teen angst\love story thing.  In truth, I have absolutely no clue what this one's really about, from it's awkward out-of-the-mouth title and odd marketing.  Stars hot new Brit thing Alex Pettyfer and Glee-gal Dianna Agron.  Directed by D.J. Caruso, of Eagle Eye and Disturbia fame.
  • Unknown- Also known as Taken 2; also know as Liam Neeson cashes a paycheck.  Neeson a badass married to Mad Men's January Jones whose identity gets stripped somehow and he goes about to make right.  Perhaps shoddy wide release offerings this third weekend of February, but like it or not, this one's the best reviewed pick of the week.  Think of it as a very low-rent Hitchcock flick, and hope that Neeson gets his groove back sooooooon.


LIMITED RELEASE
  • Even the Rain- The Spanish submission for the 2010 foreign language category (it was shortlisted, however wasn't nominated), which comments of Spanish imperialism separating the past and present through the prism of a movie shoot.  Stars Gael Garcia Bernal.  I, personally, felt it was overly earnest and more than a bit boring, however it has an awesome one-sheet.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Goya Awards

Spain's equivalent to the Oscars:
PICTURE: Black Bread
DIRECTOR: Agusti Villaronga, Black Bread
ACTOR: Javier Bardem, Biutiful
ACTRESS: Nora Navis, Black Bread
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Karra Elejalde, Also the Rain
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Laia Marull, Black Bread
NEW DIRECTOR: David Pinillos, Bon Appetit
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Buried
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Black Bread
EUROPEAN FILM: The King's Speech
full winners here.

___________________________________________________
Just a note on the delight that Buried is receiving a bit of awards love.  It's one of my favorite little-seen treasures of 2010.  Unfairly dumped in the beginning of last fall where is was unfortunately buried.  But there's something special about the trapped-in-a-box thriller that leaves hope for a promising career in director Rodrigo Cortes, who made his feature debut here.  Far from perfect, but a nice and tight style showcase that probably would have made Hitchcock proud.  And the first time, it's star Ryan Reynolds appeared engaged into what he was doing.  The screenwriter, Chris Sparling didn't do himself much favors this award seasons by self endorsing himself via e-mail, but then again, nobody else was putting much of a campaign for him either.  And in other news...The King's Speech picks up another award!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Helena Bonham Carter winning the BAFTA

Bliss...

Is there anything more calming to cinematic eyes that the tease of a new Pedro Almodovar film?  This one, entitled The Skin That I Inhabit, a revenge tale about a plastic surgeon on the hunt for the men who raped his daughter.  Sounds creepy, but then again it's Almodovar reteaming with Antonio Banderas.

Monday, February 14, 2011

American Society of Cinematographers

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Inception- Wally Pfister

Wow, I totally suck at predicting guild winners...totally deserved however.
This marks Wally Pfister's third nomination with the ASC (the other two were for past Nolan enterprises Batman Begins and The Dark Knight), and his first win.  Indelibly, awesome and instantly iconic imagery.  I approve...

BAFTA Winners

PICTURE: The King's Speech
BRITISH PICTURE: The King's Speech
DIRECTOR: David Fincher, The Social Network
ACTOR: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
ACTRESS: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: The King's Speech- David Seidler
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Social Network- Aaron Sorkin
BRITISH DEBUT: Four Lions- Chris Morris
ANIMATED FEATURE: Toy Story 3
FOREIGN FILM: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
CINEMATOGRAPHY: True Grit- Roger Deakins
FILM EDITING: The Social Network- Angus Wall & Kirk Baxter
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Inception- Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias & Doug Mowat
COSTUME DESIGN: Alice in Wonderland- Colleen Atwood
ORIGINAL SCORE: The King's Speech- Alexandre Desplat
SOUND: Inception
MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING: Alice in Wonderland
VISUAL EFFECTS: Inception

The greedy King's Speech tops the British Academy of Film & Television Awards with seven wins, including Picture and British Picture (which just shouldn't be allowed-- this isn't a judgment of the film, but just the unseemly amount of awards it's received here!)  Naturally, of course, it isn't surprising it would win top honors, the real surprises came in the fact that all three principals received prizes as well; Colin Firth was a given, but Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter weren't (especially her, whose countless nominations have yet to merit an actual prize this season.)  Does this portend to Oscar for Rush and Carter, a la the surprise BAFTA momentum that spurned about past Oscar winners like Marion Cotillard (2007 for La Vie en Rose) and Tilda Swinton (2007 for Michael Clayton) or just an indication that they really love this movie.  Both Cotillard and Swinton were arguably in the runner-up slot before the BAFTA bump.  The Social Network claimed three wins, for direction, screenplay and film editing.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cinematography

The cinematographers (ASC) guild announces their award tomorrow night...a look at the guild's past recipients:

In blue is where the guild correlated with Oscar!

2009: The White Ribbon- Christian Berger
2008: Slumdog Millionaire- Anthony Dod Mantle
2007: There Will Be Blood- Robert Elswit
2006: Children of Men- Emmanuel Lebuezki
2005: Memoirs of a Geisha- Dion Beebe
2004: A Very Long Engagement- Bruno Delbonnel
2003: Seabiscuit- John Schwartzman
2002: Road to Perdition- Conrad L. Hall
2001: The Man Who Wasn't There- Roger Deakins
2000: The Patriot- Caleb Deschanel
1999: American Beauty- Conrad L. Hall
1998: The Thin Red Line- John Toll
1997: Titanic- Russell Carpenter
1996: The English Patient- John Seale
1995: Braveheart- John Toll
1994: The Shawshank Redemption- Roger Deakins
1993: Searching for Bobby Fischer- Conrad L. Hall
1992: Hoffa- Stephen H. Burum
1991: Bugsy- Allen Daviau
1990: Dances with Wolves- Dean Semler
1989: Blaze- Haskell Wexler
1988: Tequilla Sunrise- Conrad L. Hall
1987: Empire of the Sun- Allen Daviau
1986: Peggy Sue Got Married- Jordan Cronenweth

So they don't always agree; often it seems the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) tend to go with the more daring, or unconventionally filmed choice rather than just the pretty landscape that typically wins the Oscar.  Lenser\poet Roger Deakins has been honored twice by the guild, and despite a plethora of Oscar nominations to his credit hasn't won the Oscar yet.  He's likely the predicted frontrunner this year for his work in True Grit, which features very pretty landscapes.

2010 NOMINATIONS
  • Black Swan- Matthew Libatique
  • Inception- Wally Pfister
  • The King's Speech- Danny Cohen
  • The Social Network- Jeff Cronenweth
  • True Grit- Roger Deakins
I'm predicting that Libatique will take home the ASC award, since Deakins will be receiving a lifetime achievement award from the guild this year...if they'll embrace an unsettling black and white Michael Hanake (last year's The White Ribbon), then a ballet freakout is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chlotrudis Award Nominations

The Chlotrudis Society is a well-established Massachusetts non-profit that serves to honor and support independent and foreign language films.  The nominations for their 17th annual awards are:

BEST PICTURE
I Killed My Mother
Jack Goes Boating
The King's Speech
Mother
Undertow
Winter's Bone

I Killed My Mother, which won three prizes at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, and was eligible for the foreign language Oscar category last year (Canada's submission; it wasn't nominated) is notably for being the debut of writer\director\star Xavier Dolan, who is only 21.  It received the tiniest US distribution-- I'm not sure if it ever actually played Los Angeles.  I saw the film last year at the film festival, and while far from perfect, definitely showed promise.  His next film is HeartbeatsMother, a South Korean film which did fairly well with the critics prizes was also eligible last year for best foreign film.  Undertow was eligible this year, but not nominated.

BURIED TREASURE
Dogtooth
Down Terrace
Mary & Max
Mine
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
Terribly Happy

BEST DIRECTOR
Tze Chun, Children of Invention
Banksy, Exit Through the Gift Shop
Xavier Dolan, I Killed My Mother
Joon-ho Bong, Mother
John Cameron Mitchell, Rabbit Hole
Debra Granik, Winter's Bone

BEST ACTOR
Vincent Cassel, Mesrine: Killer Instinct
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine 
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jack Goes Boating
Anthony Mackie, Night Catches Us
Alexander Siddig, Cairo Time

BEST ACTRESS
Anne Dorval, I Killed My Mother
Kate Jarvis, Fish Tank
Hye-ja Kim, Mother
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Paprika Steen, Applause

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Michael Fassbender, Fish Tank
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
John Ortiz, Jack Goes Boating
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech
Miles Teller, Rabbit Hole

Teller did wonderful work with Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole-- it's lovely for him to get a small piece of recognition on the sadly underperforming movie.  I understand a film about grieving parents sounds awfully depressing, and that's likely the reason why nobody bothered to see it in the first place, but it's such a rich, beautifully made little chamber piece.  And it wasn't nearly as depressing as art-house alternatives Blue Valentine and Biutiful, both of which have become small success stories with audiences and critical plaudits.  Anyhow, the park bench scenes of Rabbit Hole are some of the most beautifully acting scenes of any movie of 2010!


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Dale Dickey, Winter's Bone
Sissy Spacek, Get Low
Kierston Wareing, Fish Tank
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
Dianne Wiest, Rabbit Hole

BEST ENSEMBLE
Animal Kingdom
Down Terrace
Jack Goes Boating
The Kids Are All Right
Micmacs
Please Give

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Animal Kingdom
Everyone Else
I Killed My Mother
The King's Speech
Mother
Night Catches Us

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Fair Game
The Ghost Writer
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Rabbit Hole
Winter's Bone

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Bunny & the Bull
I Am Love
The King's Speech
Micmacs
The Secret of Kells
Winter's Bone

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Chloe
Get Loe
Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno
I Am Love
Undertow
Winter's Bone

BEST DOCUMENTARY
The Art of the Steal
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
Marwencol
Prodigal Sons

Arthur

 
The trailer for Arthur a redo of the 1981 Dudley Moore-Liza Minnelli flick, about a privileged rich boy who stands to lose his inheritance if he doesn't marry the icy society gal his family has chosen for him.  I know this film reeks of failure on a multitude of levels, mainly the mangy Russell Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek) in the title role, but I'll be there.  I have an affection for the original but no one can really claim it's greatness; it the type of pleasing, gentle movie that harmlessly can be remade, unlike certain cinematic heresies of the greedy studio pasts.  Plus the supporting cast looks fun-- Jennifer Garner, I truly believe is an underrated light comedienne (Juno and The Invention of Lying showed nice variations of iciness and warmth), Helen Mirren, who's clearly enjoying her paycheck these days (why would a woman of such enormous talents choose to coast in films like Red and National Treasure; some brave auteur needs to pluck her up and give her a plum role-- it's been years since she's been nude!) and finally Greta Gerwig, Indie Spirit nominee for last year's Greenberg will be playing the Liza Minnelli role, and while the trailer totally ignores her (I get it, she's not a STAR), she surely one of the more interesting finds in the last few years.

Speaking of Mirren, I came across this clip of her presenting Daniel Day-Lewis the Oscar, and love the slow, meditative and seductive prologue-- she really could read the yellow pages and make it sound epic.  Perhaps that should be next movie!  Love the way she says "cojones."  Some useless trivia-- this marks the second time in two years in which Mirren has played a role that was originated by John Gielgud.  Gielgud famously chaperoned Dudley Moore in the original Arthur and played the title role in Peter Greenway's Prospero's Book, an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest.  Last year, Mirren took the title role in Julie Taymor's version of The Tempest, which co-starred Russell Brand.  To further the six degrees of Mirren, both she and Gielgud were famously featured in the1979 controversy-laded Caligula.

Friday, February 11, 2011

International Online Critics Association Winners

PICTURE:  
The Social Network

DIRECTOR:
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan

ACTOR:
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine

ACTRESS:
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Christian Bale, The Fighter

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lesley Manville, Another Year
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Inception- Christopher Nolan
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Social Network- Aaron Sorkin
ANIMATED FEATURE: Toy Story 3
FOREIGN FILM: A Prophet
ART DIRECTION: Inception
CINEMATOGRAPHY: I Am Love
COSTUME DESIGN: I Am Love
FILM EDITING: The Social Network

Not quite sure what makes up the INOCA, but they are officially the coolest ever based on these choices.

International Film Music Critics Association

Obsessive yes, but it's been a slow week award wise:

FILM SCORE OF THE YEAR
The Ghost Writer- Alexandre Desplat
How to Train Your Dragon- John Powell
Inception- Hans Zimmer
The King's Speech- Alexandre Desplat
TRON: Legacy- Daft Punk

FILM COMPOSER OF THE YEAR
Alexandre Desplat
Danny Elfman
James Newton Howard
John Powell
Hans Zimmer

BREAKOUT COMPOSER OF THE YEAR
Oscar Araujo
Arnau Bataller
Daft Punk
Herbert Gronemeyer
Nuno Malo

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A DRAMATIC FILM
Amalia- Nuno Malo
Black Swan- Clint Mansell
The Karate Kid- James Horner
The King's Speech- Alexandre Desplat
True Grit- Carter Burwell

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A COMEDY FILM
The Lightkeepers- Pinar Toprak
Lo- Scott Glasgow
Nanny McPhee Returns- James Newton Howard
Potiche- Phillippe Rombi
Vampires Suck- Christopher Lennertz

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR AN ACTION\ADVENTURE\THRILLER FILM
Buried- Victor Reyes
The Ghost Writer- Alexandre Desplat
Inception- Hans Zimmer
Robin Hood- Marc Streitenfeld
Salt- James Newton Howard

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A FANTASY\SCI-FI\HORROR
Alice in Wonderland- Danny Elfman
Daybreakers- Christopher Gordon
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part 1- Alexandre Desplat
The Last Airbender- James Newton Howard
TRON: Legacy- Daft Punk

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR AN ANIMATED FEATURE
How to Train Your Dragon- John Powell
The Illusionist- Sylvain Chomet
Legend of the Guardians- David Hirschfelder
Tangled- Alan Menken
Toy Story 3- Randy Newman

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A DOCUMENTARY
The Battle of Britain- Miguel d'Oliveira
Babies- Bruno Coulais
Oceans- Bruno Coulais
Waiting for 'Superman'- Christophe Beck
The Wildest Dream- Joel Douek

FILM COMPOSITION OF THE YEAR
Alice in Wonderland- "Alice's Theme" (Danny Elfman)
The Ghost Writer- "The Truth About Ruth" (Alexandre Desplat)
How to Train Your Dragon- "Test Drive" (John Powell)
How to Train Your Dragon- "Forbidden Friendship" (John Powell)
The Last Airbender- "Flow Like Water" (James Newton Howard)

Or the I Love You Alexandre Desplat Awards, as the master composer received seemingly nineteen nods for ten films!!  2010 was a great year for film scores, I sincerely believe one of the strongest in recent years, with terrific pieces of music that effectively meshed with the tones of the films.  My favorites:
  • The Ghost Writer- with it's clever nod to old school Bernard Herrmann\Hitchcock.  Fun, tense, yet playful.
  • Black Swan- stupid Academy for making Clint Mansell's eerie, yet hypnotic music ineligible-- paranoia hardly felt so aurally blissful.
  • The Social Network- different, yet sublime-- sadly overlooked here...
  • Inception- already feels iconic...follows a grand tradition of music that will be synonymous with it's source like Jaws, Star Wars and The Godfather.
  • I Am Love- like the film itself, just achingly pretty.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

X-Men: First Class


One of the seven thousand sequels or reboots bombarding a movie screen this summer.  The fourth (fifth? sixth? first?-- argh how reboots and prequels and side stories make it difficult to label) film in the X-Men canon goes back to the beginning, and is being directed by Matthew Vaughn, of Kick-Ass, Stardust and Layer Cake fame.  Vaughn famously almost directed by the third flick X-Men: The Last Stand, and was replaced by Brett Ratner, in what must described as the nail in the coffin for that particular aspect of the franchise.  The Wolverine flick that followed didn't help.  However, it's with a certain nod of generosity that the first two Bryan Singer-helmed productions were quite stellar for the superhero genre; Singer shares a writing credit here, so perhaps it will kick back in high gear, aside from my own personal distaste for franchise rebooting so shortly after the last one expired (see: Spider-man!)  The cast includes James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender in the lead roles as young Xavier and Magneto, respectively, and they are fine choices in any production.  Surrounding them is where things get a little odd: Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence, Mad Men gal January Jones, Rose Byrne, Nicolas Hoult (last seen seducing Colin Firth in A Single Man), Zoe Kravitz, and Kevin Bacon.

London Film Critics Circle

FILM OF THE YEAR: The Social Network
DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR: David Fincher, The Social Network
BRITISH FILM OF THE YEAR: The King's Speech
ACTOR: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
ACTRESS: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
BRITISH ACTOR OF THE YEAR: Christian Bale, The Fighter
BRITISH ACTRESS OF THE YEAR: Lesley Manville, Another Year
BRITISH SUPPORTING ACTOR: Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
BRITISH SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
SCREENWRITER OF THE YEAR: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
FOREIGN FILM OF THE YEAR: I Am Love

For possibly the last time this year, The Social Network is named the best picture of the year!

Opening This Week

Ye olde Valentine's Day weekend; time for the first big-budgeted romantic comedy of the year, plus medieval combat if love's not your thing, a second tier Disney flick about gnomes and something about some kid named Bieber!


WIDE RELEASE
  • Just Go With It- Adam Sandler re-teams with master auteur Dennis Dugan (Grown Ups, You Don't Mess With the Zohan, I Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, et al) for extended man boy silliness.  Of course it will easily win the weekend, it's the most critic proof flick out right now (RT: 10%)  For this adventure he tags along Jennifer Aniston.  Bizarrely, Nicole Kidman cameos.
  • The Eagle- Starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell, this period action flick from director Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland) stands as interesting anti-Valentine's counter-programming; too bad the ads for this look so generic. (RT: 52%)  However, it features a supporting role performed by Tahar Rahim, who was so incredible in A Prophet, nominated last year for best foreign film.  He deserves to breakout!
  • Gnomeo & Juliet- 2011's first animated feature, and the third feature this year to be released in the third dimension (damn, it only February!)  Here the often told Shakespearean tale gets shifted to the perspectives of garden gnomes.  Features the voice talents of young and talented Brits like James McAvoy and Emily Blunt.  From Kelly Asbury, the director of Shrek 2. (RT: 62%)
  • Justin Bieber: Never Say Never- 2011's fourth 3-D feature-- has there ever been two opening in the same week before; are there really that many 3-D screens!  This one's about some kid, not particularly famous...


LIMITED RELEASE
  • Carancho- Argentinean thriller about a personal-injury attorney who crossing paths with an idealistic country doctor.  Premiered at last years Cannes Film Festival.
 
  • Cold Weather- From director Aaron Katz, this indie mystery is about a man who tries to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.  Was quite the sensation at last years SXSW Film Festival.
 
  • Cedar Rapids- Hold on tight, but this indie raunchfest is so far at least, the top reviewed film of 2011 (RT: 83%)  Ed Helms (The Hangover; The Office) plays a tightly wound insurance agent whose life is opened up at a convention where he meets oddballs played by John C. Rielly and Anne Heche.  Director by Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl), I'm not sure I can readily admit to wanting to see this, but I do support the strange casting.  Heche is such an incredibly versatile and bizarre actress, I want nothing more for her loopiness is succeed.  Played well at the recent Sundance Film Festival, and championed by indie strategists extraordinaire Fox Searchlight, it might be the first bright spot on an underwhelming year, so far.
 
And for the lucky, the Oscar-nominated shorts will be inconveniently playing this weekend at very few theaters near you.

...and finally, cross your fingers, but by this weekend's close, Black Swan will have crossed the $100 million mark, marking a career best for director\enchanter Darren Aronofsky.  Do yourself a favor and cuddle up this love-filled weekend with an odd and hypnotic ballerina\horror trip...you shan't regret.  It repeats well too for those you've ventured before...and that's absolutely insane when you think about it; sometimes good things happen to good movies!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Oscar Math

Every year, many true to weed out the Oscar playing field with general statistics.  If a movie wins such and such award, it's your best picture; if it doesn't, well it doesn't win best picture.  And so, it in doing my own little research of the past decade's best picture candidates, the consensus really is nothing.  Aside from the best picture Oscar, there isn't another top award that all ten films in the last ten years have won.  Not the DGA, PGA, SAG, British Academy Award.  The critics matter very little when you think about; not just this year, but every year!


Statistically does The Social Network have a chance anymore?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super 8

The Super Bowl teaser of the J.J. Abrams\Steven Spielberg something...what exactly, well I guess were just supposed to wait.  Which is kind of refreshing for a summer film...

Oscaring

Melissa Leo, wonderfully versatile actress, grand character actor whose graceful gravitas that's framed mostly thankless roles, has the role of a lifetime in The Fighter.  For her achievement, she's already garnered the Best Supporting Actress trophy at the Golden Globes, SAGs, Critics Choice Award, and a handful of critics prizes.  Here's her campaign: not the one being put upon by Paramount Pictures, but courtesy of herself.  Hardly the first, but what's the general feeling behind this.  Tacky? Whatever-ness? Acceptable?  I'm not sure, but I like her photos.

The Ones Oscar Choose

Every year a luncheon where all the nominees gather to do press, mingle and bask in the glow of being "chosen."  Here's the group photo.

Bening on Bridges' lap-- does the 1962 winner of the Golden Globe for Best Newcomer know about this?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Win Win


Tom McCarthy, sometimes actor and writer\director of nicely calibrated indies such as The Station Agent and The Visitor returns with a sports themed\tug at your heart type of flick starring Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Melanie Lynskey, Bobby Cannavale and Jeffrey Tambor.  Can't say I overblown by at first glance, but McCarthy's strength has always been at subtle and graceful character development over plot, so it might be something.  It received warm notices at this years 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Writers Guild Winners


ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Inception- Christopher Nolan
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Social Network- Aaron Sorkin
DOCUMENTARY: Inside Job- Chad Beck & Adam Bolt

I was wrong about The Kids Are All Right getting the WGA consolation prize; it went to Inception in a semi-shocker.  The problem is the real winner, The King's Speech, wasn't eligible here.  Nice to see Nolan win something though, right?

Art Directors Guild Awards

CONTEMPORARY FILM: Black Swan- Therese DePrez
FANTASY FILM: Inception- Guy Hendrix Dyas
PERIOD FILM: The King's Speech- Eve Stewart

Very fine choices, both Black Swan and Inception had such great, complex fixtures; it's a real shame DePrez's work was snubbed by the Academy.

Annie Award Winners

The Oscars for animated features, since the Oscars themselves will always have their silly biases.  The Annie's do a bit as well, at least according to some sketchy rules for membership into their academy.  Anyhow, the winners:


ANIMATED FEATURE: How to Train Your Dragon

ANIMATED SHORT: Day & Night (Oscar nominated from Pixar)

DIRECTION: Chris Sanders & Dean Deblois, How to Train Your Dragon

WRITING: William Davies, Chris Sanders & Dean Deblois, How to Train Your Dragon

MUSIC: John Powell, How to Train Your Dragon (Oscar nominated)

STORYBOARDING: How to Train Your Dragon

ANIMATED EFFECTS: How to Train Your Dragon

VOICE ACTING: Jay Barachel, How to Train Your Dragon

CHARACTER ANIMATION: How to Train Your Dragon

CHARACTER DESIGN: How to Train Your Dragon

CHARACTER ANIMATED (Live Action): Alice in Wonderland

And that's a sweep.  Does How to Train Your Dragon have the potential to fend off the giant Toy Story 3 for animated feature at the Oscars?  It is beloved and a fresher story...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Biutiful

A man learns that he has terminal cancer.  How does one cope with that great sadness, especially in circumstances where you have small children, and entire family you support?  There's a quiet poignancy in that story, plus the emotional hook of cancer being sad, all by itself.  A man such as this is the central figure of Biutiful, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's galvanizing Babel-ing Spanish melodrama.  The problem is that, while the central cathartic unraveling of the main character, superbly played with brimming soul and passion by Oscar-nominated Javier Bardem, is the lack of confidence demonstrated by Inarritu being Inarritu.  It's not enough for Bardem's Uxbal to suffer, he must wear the weight of the world upon his broad shoulders, driven down the hard beaten auteurial martyrdom treatment.  The miseries must pile upon each other, trample each other, with competing agendas and different international mouthpieces at work.  What should be a soaring piece of emotional cinema ends up a didactic, self important film too full of itself to beat the heartstrings.

All that leaves is a wonderfully strong, cavernous performance that should be rightly heralded for what it is, sitting off to the side to Inarritu's smug indulgences.  The quiet dignity of Bardem should be enough to sustain a mood, the quiet mundane, and often moving daily trials of a sick man caring and loving his two small children.  But we must also be bogged down by Uxbal's bipolar wife, and obnoxious nut whose baggage, seemingly only added to up the tragic ante, slowly becomes grating and too far outside the real world.  Then there's the business exchanges of Uxbal.  Including a duplicitous Asian man (and his secret gay love), a sweat shop team of sad, exploited Asians, and a black drug dealing illegal immigrant who must have a faithful and lovely wife and a small and lovely child.  The miseries pile up and up, and when the further familial crises of Uxbal's childhood are revealed, I had to call uncle!  Slow, pretentious, depressing art house cinema is usually something I fully support, however this smug, miserable tragedy vexes and irritates to the point of causing nothing but anger and empathy.  D

USC Scripter Awards

The Scripters acknowledge the art of an adapted screenplay as well as it's original source material.  The 2011 award:


The Social Network- written by Aaron Sorkin, based on "The Accidental Millionaires" by Ben Mezrich


Perhaps an easy get; it's razor sharp writing has been universally acknowledged.  Tomorrow night might be a more telling big win for team Social Network with the WGA awards, in which it's main competition The King's Speech will be nowhere in sight.

My WGA predictions:

Best Original Screenplay: The Kids Are All Right
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network

Friday, February 4, 2011

Nearing the End...

Oscar Darwinism:  Survival to the fittest!
Ballots for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards were sent out February 2nd.  They are due to PriceWaterhouse Coopers by February 22nd at 5 PM.  Where does this race stand at this point in time.  It's been eons since The Social Network declares it's mighty premise by capturing nearly all of the critics prizes, and indeed all of the major critics prizes; at last count it lost on 5.5 times-- three times to Inception (all for very small scaled juries), while Austin film critics went gaga for Black Swan, San Diego critics vaulted Winter's Bone, and Utah threw down a tie between The Social Network and 127 Hours.  Now the race has moved onto the realm of the industry, and with PGA, DGA and SAG all screaming The King's Speech, it appears that's the end of the that.  Interestingly The King's Speech only won two top prizes before the guilds weighed in: the not particularly weighted British Independent Film Awards and the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, which in the past has backed such Oscar success as American Beauty and Slumdog Millionaire.  The intoxicating feeling of a traditionalists film taking the top prize, mixed with Harvey Weinstein's unique awards season touch, coupled with a nice movie impeccably acted by a most prestige friendly group of actors. 

There's been a spewing of vitriol in the face of The King's Speech on the online corners of movie mania, and all of that seems not only a tad unfair, but even more it seems like even the less than flattering publicity that surrounds the blogosphere in only helping it's profile.  Claims of the films hero, King George XI having had real life Nazi allegiances is one of the more tacky smear campaigns out there, so tacky, I'll bet Weinstein himself planted the story; that's mere sarcasm, I ensure.  However, there's a point there-- remember in 2002 there were very real claims of the real life hero of the eventual Best Picture champ A Beautiful Mind having anti-Semitic affiliations as well, perhaps to serve a bit to the emotions of a known large Jewish contingent in the Academy.  Of course, none of this should matter; The King's Speech is a personal journey about a man (in this case a man who would become a king) overcoming obstacles and challenges.  Certainly moving and playing up the crowd-pleasing nervous system heart of the Academy.  Claims have also been made that this is simply too much of an old school type of film; that this isn't a 'zeitgeist' movie, a movie of the now that says something about contemporary society.  And that honoring a film like this would possibly feel like a setback to the Academy of new which in the last four years appears to gone outside it's regular wheelhouse-- The Departed (2006), No Country for Old Men (2007), Slumdog Millionaire (2008) and The Hurt Locker (2009) were all Best Picture that appear to suggest a slight shift in Academy taste, however that argument can be and will be debated till the end of the time.

Of course the other story is one the other frontrunner-- I find it odd in a field of ten, we've still managed to really only care about one or two movies a year (last year: The Hurt Locker and Avatar, there rest: immediate also-rans) which is The Social Network, and there's a fair of media spewing on that on as well.  It all started when it came out with a bang and was being touted as, "the movie of a generation."  It's hard, and mighty difficult to sustain that sort of initial reaction for the long haul, it was bound to be called overrated eventually, and throughout the critics awards season, one could read the writings on the wall and suggest that once the critics weighed in, The Social Network would have a slightly more chilly reception.  That's what happens when a film with an anti-establishment vibe enters the establishment.  Contention between the claims of the movie, as well as the real-life Facebook peeps have provided juicy back-and-forth controversy for months-- for now it appears the filmmakers and Mr. Zuckerberg (aka Time's Man of the Year) are willing to play nice; witness his cameo on last week's Saturday Night Live with Jesse Eisenberg.

I feel removed enough at this point in time, and to put my predictive cap on for a second I think picture will be The King's Speech, while The Social Network will win direction for David Fincher.  Either way, I'm already kind of over it.  I feel that The King's Speech will remain a favorite for years to come, becoming a second-tier classic of sorts, and a favorite with actors who I can already sense will go to auditions with David Seidler's writing, while The Social Network will likely be studied and provoked by film classes to the end of time.  Either way, that's a pretty good legacy for both, and don't fear that this years result will be quite the scandal of 1941's How Green Was Your Valley and it's insane upset of Citizen Kane.

What I object too is this best picture top ten madness, which will hopefully die this year.  With the weighted ballot, I fear eventual integrity will be lost with the Academy.  The idea now that members could actively vote against something seems counterproductive and gross.  Vote for the best of the year in filmmaking, that should be all, not to slime the competition.

What the F#&@!

The King's Speech, under the sadly failing and altogether pathetic guidelines of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) was given a R-rating because of one scene where speech therapist Geoffrey Rush advises future king Colin Firth to repeat the F-work in rampant succession.  Under MPAA guidelines, more than one F-work is merit enough for an R-rating despite specificity under which is used.  Now comes news that the mogul, puppeteer, Oscar-strategist extraordinaire Harvey Weinstein is considering re-releasing the Oscar-praised movie for a more family friendly PG-13 rating.  This all strikes me as a tad desperate and greedy.  Especially considering that The King's Speech has become a box office hit (it's current North American tally is $74.8 million), and stands a shot at becoming The Weinstein Company's top grossing film.  It calls to mind when Weinstein, back in his Miramax days released the Oscar-lauded Italian hit Life is Beautiful with an English dubbed version shortly after winning it's awards; as if let's cash in now by pandering and doing away with the marketing gamble (in that case it was pesky subtitles, here it's a few curse words), despite both films breaking out and becoming hits the old fashioned way.  Strangely enough, wouldn't The King's Speech be a likely candidate for G or PG-ratings sans f-bombs, otherwise it's squeaky clean?  But hey, why stop there, why not dig up your collection and re-release all of past R-rated triumphs-- Pulp Fiction, Clerks, The Crying Game (although that one might be confusing without the very nude reveal.)  On another note, even if The King's Speech does get it's phantom edit (one that objected too very heavily by director Tom Hooper after the initial rating call), will it really be more marketable and palatable for a younger crowd; the film is many things, and many good things, but I highly doubt the tweens are crowding the multiplex clamoring to sneak in...

Opening This Week

WIDE RELEASE

  • The Roommate- the next line of rotating genre trash picks up nicely with a college-set thriller about a creepy roommate.  Stars Leighton Meester (of TV's Gossip Girl) and Cam Gigandet, whose bland prettiness occupies most films like this, seriously this dude is in like nine movies a year.
  • Sanctum- for those keeping track this is the second 2011 release in 3-D.  Or better yet, don't keep track, one is bound to lose count in a couple of weeks.  Anyhow this underwater cave spectacle comes from marketable hands of Mr. James Cameron, meaning it will look pretty anyhow.  Could be a nice sub-The Abyss adventure, with an Aussie twist.  Stars Ioan Gruffudd and Richard Roxburgh (the Duke from Moulin Rouge!)


LIMITED RELEASE
  • The Other Woman- Natalie Portman's second of three hundred movies to open in 2011; this one's a old one that's been sitting on a shelf somewhere since in festival debut in 2009, where it received mixed reviews.  Which is sad considering I like the pedigree of the film-- it's written and directed by Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex, Happy Endings), and co-stars Lisa Kudrow.  While the cynic is me knows the film is only creeping out to capitalize on the current Portmania (I stole that from L.A. Weekly, but I couldn't resist), I still think this is the only weekly offering for me.  Portman plays the other woman who struggles to adjust to her new familial role after a tragedy.
  • Waiting for Forever- romantic drama starring Rachel Bilson.  Directed by Jane Seymour's husband for the Dr. Quinn obsessives.
  • Twelve Thirty- an ensemble film centering on the lives of how a family deals with the appearance of Glee and Broadway cutie Jonathon Groff entering their lives.  Also stars Mamie Gummer, daughter of Meryl Streep.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Enter the Void

The infamous freak out flick that's sparked such passion, outrage and perhaps a few bits of epilepsy, from enfant terrible Gaspar Noe (he of the notorious 2002's backwards rape tragedy Irreversible) is definitely an experience.  The psychedelic movement of the camera, the twisted pretzel shape of the narrative, it's mind boggling, and a bit nauseating at the same time.  Clearly Mr. Noe is a one of a kind filmmaker, but again as with his first major provocation, he seems more intent on shock for shock's taste as opposed to infusing genuine pathos with his crazy, mind altering technique.  Which is not to say I don't urge people to see Enter the Void, it's by turns exhilarating and tedious, a true cinematic feast that will differ in the eyes of their beholder.  This one appears to be less of a traditional type of filmmaker, bur a sensory reaction, that Mr. Noe wants to get his audience high; this is probably the closest cinematic resemblance to what taking mushrooms might feel like (I see that without ever digesting the fungus myself.)  And while addiction isn't so much apart of the subject, being high certainly is.  Enter the Void first alienated\transfixed viewers at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

The 'story" focuses on a young American in Tokyo-- Oscar, played by newcomer Nathaniel Brown.  He's a drug dealer\junkie and the film is shot from his experience, literally, the camera blinks and flickers with his dilated pupils.  And what starts out as a sort of basic (if jittery filmed) drug deal gone bad turns into a sort of redemptive, free associative dream scape.  Oscar has a younger sister, Linda (played by Pax de la Huerta, of Boardwalk Empire), and as the story stretches back to the beginning, we're invited in the sad, co-existent lives of these siblings.  Survived by a tragic childhood, and bonded together in pain, it's in the middle act of the film that Enter the Void becomes an intoxicating experience-- painful, yet completely watchable, despite the mediocrity of the performances and often amateur-ish character development.  Noe makes us feel something as opposed to thinking about something.  And for a great while I was almost transfixed by his trick-out visuals.

That is until the film marched in direction of the tedious, and listless.  The first half keeps you going because the pacing hardly falters, even if parts are glaringly grotesque or gratuitous.  Yet after the first hour or so wares you out, it appears that Noe realizes their isn't much point anymore, but somehow keeps the movie going for another ninety minutes.  And as the different color schemes and odd framing tools become more distancing and distracting, one has the realization that Noe is just showing off here.  And while I have no doubt that a cavalcade of cinephiles will proclaim Enter the Void a masterpiece, the jury's still out from my standpoint on Gasper Noe. His talent is altogether illuminating, but sometimes all style, no substance can make a dull movie, and pretentious Euro-trash provocation can get old fairly quickly. C-

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen's 46th feature film, entitled Midnight in Paris, is slated to open this years Cannes Film Festival.  Très approprié!  This marks Allen's first film that he filmed in Paris, in the first decade of his career in which he's voyaged outside his native New York.  The film stars Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Owen Wilson, Kathy Bates and Michael Sheen.  Mr. Allen and myself have had a contentious last years in the auteur vs. fan relationship from the highs of Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona to the lows of Scoop and Whatever Works, however it would feel like sacrilege to call it quits now, especially since his perennials are usually playing in a non-stop loop through my mind.  Recently re-watched Manhattan, and it's aged so sweetly!

This marks Allen's tenth appearance on the Croisette. 

Bridesmaids

 
Call it something I suppose for a Judd Apatow-endorsed comedy to be headlined by a group of women this time, I suppose that accounts for progress.  The ace of the sleeve I suppose is that it's Kristen Wiig at the center here, and she's freaking awesome.  She's the main reasons SNL is sometimes, kinda funny-- and always elevates the material she has.  I've loved her supporting roles of late in films like Knocked Up, Ghost Town, Adventureland and Whip It.  I just hope this one a hell of a lot better than the trailer suggests; with director Paul Feig (co-creator of Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared), it just might be-- the humor of the those fine shows were always full of the smaller, more subtler variety not so easily designed to marketing powers.

Incendies

 
The only real saving grace for foreign language films ever seeing the light of day in the United States is Sony Pictures Classics, who have smartly cornered the market on smart, international fare.  Unfortunately for us, they tend to release their films after they're cultural relevance.  Incendies is an example.  Nominated for foreign language film against Biutiful (Mexico), In a Better World (Denmark), Dogtooth (Greece) and Outside the Law (Algeria.)  I would suggest this, from Canada is probably a threat for the win, alongside the Golden Globe winner In a Better World, another Sony Pictures Classics release.  Both will get released in April.

Visual Effects Society Winners


OUTSTANDING VISUAL EFFECTS (Effects Driven Movie)
Inception

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING VISUAL EFFECTS
Hereafter

OUTSTANDING ANIMATION (Animated Film)
How to Train Your Dragon

OUTSTANDING ANIMATED CHARACTER (Live Action)
Dobby, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

OUTSTANDING ANIMATED CHARACTER (Animated Film)
Toothless, How to Train Your Dragon


OUTSTANDING EFFECTS (Animated Film)
How to Train Your Dragon

OUTSTANDING CREATED ENVIRONMENT
Paris Dreamscape, Inception

OUTSTANDING MODELS & MINIATURES
Hospital Fortress Destruction, Inception

OUTSTANDING COMPOSITING
Inception

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Day & Night

An Inception orgy!  Still miffed that the infectious visual style of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World never got an traction; again with my broken record.
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