Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Is 'Clash of the Titans' Worth Seeing in 3D?

I don't usually make too much of a deal about reviews from critics about a film like this, but the thing that concerns me the most about the reviews of Clash of the Titans is not the talk of the film's quality, but the quality of the 3D. None of the reviews give us a real grasp of just how awful the 3D is. Just that it is awful and preferable to see the film in 2D. I remember seeing How to Train Your Dragon last weekend and I simply loved the use of the 3D much more than I did for Avatar, and I dread the idea of the art form (3D) dying because of a lousy 3D conversion job. I take all of these reviews as necessary warnings, and I still plan on seeing the film in 3D. However if these rumors are true then I'll be sure to check the critics opinions before seeing any 3D film from here on out. What is your stand on the issue? Are critics just being critics, or did Warner Bros. rush Clash of the Titans into 3D conversion too quickly? Please respond in the comments.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Trailer Tuesday: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Only one new trailer this week and it's for Edgar Wright's (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) film adaptation of the graphic novel Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. There's not much to report on the plot, because this trailer is barely any more than a minute long. What we can tell about the plot is that Michael Cera's (Juno, Superbad) character falls in love with a girl who has seven evil exes whom he has to fight and defeat. I love the comedic flavor (There's a hillarious bit with Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick towards the end of the trailer which is enough reason to see the film on its own), and video game action of this film and I can't wait to see it fully realized. It seems like a really sweet love story with an over the top twist. Here's the trailer for the epic of epic epicness:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Box Office Report: 'Dragon' Takes Off

How to Train Your Dragon won the weekend at the box office, but it's kind of a melancholy victory. Where other Dreamworks films like Monsters vs. Aliens and Kung Fu Panda opened to around $60 million, Dragon opened to a modest $43.3 million. I won't say that it kills the film on impact, but if it's going to continue as a franchise the film will have to grow some serious legs over the coming weeks against such competition as Clash of the Titans and Kick-Ass. Alice in Wonderland stood strong over the weekend taking in $17.3 million, despite losing quite a few of its 3D screens to Dragon. Hot Tub Time Machine brought in $13.7 million, which doesn't bode well for its chances over the following weeks. Overall this weekend was down 17% from the same weekend last year.

How to Train Your Dragon Review

If you've read the reviews stating that this film is basically Avatar with dragons instead of aliens then you almost have a good idea of what's in store for you when you go see How to Train Your Dragon. The only thing I would add is that this film is better than Avatar. Dreamworks animation has brought us not only its most frightening, but also its best and most beautiful film to date. The film tells the tale of Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), a young and scrawny viking whom his entire village sees as a nuisance. He's looked down upon by his strong and stubborn father (voiced by Gerard Butler) who believes that his son will never have what it takes to kill a dragon.

And by the way, there are dragons in this movie! The creature design in this movie is fantastic, especially for Toothless, the Night Fury that Hiccup takes down but eventually befriends. The friendship isn't something that just happens quickly and naturally as depicted in the Eragon books and Avatar. Trust actually has to be earned between the two. Hiccup earns Toothless' trust by bringing him food and fixing his tail. Toothless earns Hiccups trust by... not killing him. The forbidden friendship is eventually discovered by the rest of his tribe, throwing Hiccup's life into ruin.

It's hard to see this film and not compare it to Avatar, because in almost every way How to Train Your Dragon is better. The film doesn't spend three hours nailing everything down slowly. It gets straight to the point, and doesn't indulge in any of the bad jokes that animated films from Dreamworks have done so frequently in the past in the Shrek and Madagascar franchises. The film's first and foremost job is to deliver an emotionally satisfying, and thrilling story, and it definitely succeeds in doing just that. The story lags a little bit in the middle while Hiccup and Toothless are bonding, but the emotional and comedic payoff of those sequences are worth it.

The voice talent is perfectly cast to fit the characters, with Craig Ferguson and America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) especially standing out. Other actors who wisely lend their voices to the film are Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Kristen Wiig. The technical credits of the film are to be especially praised. John Powell's score serves as a solid backbone for the entire film and rivals the scores of even some Pixar films. The cinematography is especially beautiful, and it's probably the first to use 3D technology to enhanced the visual wonder on screen without completely relying on it. The action in the film is also presents us with one of the most awesome sequences put on the big screen in a while. In fact the last film I can remember delivering action that amazing was Up.

If you can't afford to pay for 3D then I don't see any reason why the film won't be just as affective in 2D, but if you have a choice then you must see it in 3D while it's still in theatres. 3D screens will be held for the film for at least two weeks so use the opportunity to your advantage. Ultimately this film shows what Dreamworks can accomplish when it takes a few cues from its biggest competitor Pixar, and it ranks as probably the best film to hit theatres so far this year.


Greenberg Review

Noah Baumbach took a great decline after making his first film The Squid and the Whale. After failing with Margo at the Wedding, Baumbach is making a gradual return to greatness with Greenberg. The film isn't great, and at times it is unenjoyable, but it certainly is good. The story chronicles Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller), a shut-in who has recently been released from a mental hospital, and his stay in L.A. while he looks after his brother's house and dog. He begins a rocky relationship with his brother's assistant (Greta Gerwig) that proves unhealthy for the both of them.

The first and biggest problem with this movie is Ben Stiller, who after seeing this movie I can feel no sympathy for. If he were to walk into a dark alley and get beaten and stabbed to death with a trombone, I wouldn't feel sad. On the contrary, I'd feel pretty good. He's not a horrible actor, but his acting style is only adept for unlikable characters, and that leads me to believe he's an unlikable person. If they had any other actor (even Robert Pattinson) play this role I would've liked this film a whole lot more.

The rest of the acting talent is fantastic, especially Rhys Ifans who plays Greenberg's best friend Ivan. He gives a much needed grown up quality that is in stark contrast to Greenberg's childish and juvenile characteristics. Then there's Greta Gerwig who superbly embodies desperation and loneliness after a breakup. There is really nobody else she can throw herself into, and that's really the reason why she is with Greenberg. The film's biggest problem is that it focuses too much on Greenberg and not enough on the more likable people in the picture. Noah Baumbach is almost back to the place where he can make a great film again, and he does his best with what he has.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekend Update: 4th Week of March

After weeks of middling to mediocre films there is an actual reason to go the theatres this weekend. It for the most part takes the form of How to Train Your Dragon. The trailers haven't projected the film in the best light, focusing more on the kid friendly elements to draw in their target audience. Reviews however have been supporting the film as much better than most of the other Dreamworks films. The added cost of 3D will allow opening weekend grosses to skyrocket, landing in the area of $60 million. The other new release this weekend, Hot Tub Time Machine hasn't garnered nearly as much attention, but has gotten a modest amount of critical support. So expect it to take in around $19 million.

Also if you are looking for a more intimate film, seek out Greenberg (Directed by Noah Baumbach) which is expanding to 187 theatres this week. But if you're part of the lowest demographic that has no interest in any of those films, I suggest catching Alice in Wonderland in 3D before it is completely evicerated at the box office next week when Clash of the Titans comes in.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

2 To See in April!

This isn't a terribly great month to go to the movies. I can't suggest more than two movies that are probably worth your time, because odds are there aren't. Feel free to disagree and argue in the comments section. In fact I encourage it. Seriously, I have 121 posts and not a single comment on this blog. I need something to respond to.
2. Kick-AssHot on the heels of another dark, realistic superhero film (The Dark Knight), Kick-Ass has the potential to be not just good, but great. Early reviews dating back 6 months ago placed Kick-Ass among the best of the superhero genre. As a matter of fact this film may be much more deserving of the #1 slot on list, especially if it succeeds. Critics have been raving about it for months, and the trailers support these claims. At this point I can't possibly see this film not being good. The biggest complaints I have heard about this film is that the title character isn't as awesome as the supporting characters played by Chloe Moretz and Nicholas Cage. Depending on how they market the film it could probably open in the range of $35-50 million, and then grow legs to take in as much as $200 million or more.

1. Clash of the TitansAfter spending so much time raving about a film that is possibly more deserving of this space than Clash of the Titans, why is the film still here? Because the trailers have been pushing as an awesome action-packed 3D blockbuster, and we've recently been witness to the overwhelming success of 3D (Alice in Wonderland, Avatar). So far I can't find a reason why this film won't be exactly as advertised. It doesn't worry to me that the film may not have depth or much quality, because in an action film that rarely matters. Look at the fact that I put Transformers 2 in my top 10 list of films last year. The thing that matters most in an action film is that it is enjoyable. This film is going to bring quite a bit opening weekend, even at theatres without 3D screens. Expect $90-105 million opening weekend, and then soaring to the area of 300 million without any other 3D films releasing over the following few weeks.

83rd Annual Academy Awards Date Set

The next Oscar ceremony just got a little bit closer. The date for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards show has been set for February 27th, 2011. It's doesn't change the game at all, and it seems like there will once again be 10 nominations, but if they announce anything of immediate relevance I will be sure to bring it to your attentions.

Brad Bird Being Considered For Directing Mission Impossible 4

Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles) has had a rough year, tirelessly working to get his disaster film 1906 into production. Now it has come to our attention that he is among the directors being considered to direct the fourth installment of the Mission Impossible series. This could be a great project for the director to take on. Perhaps if he gets a solid live-action film under his belt, people will take him more seriously. It might be enough to get 1906 off the ground, and besides that it'd be just another amazing film of a higher class than the rest, and that's reason enough for him to take the job. Other directors being considered are Ruben Fleicher (Zombieland), and Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead). Lets hope they make the right decision.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

3D Trend Growing Too Rapidly?

It's easy to tell that 3D isn't going to go away any time soon. Alice in Wonderland is already the biggest film of the year as a result of the process. This week it's competing with How to Train Your Dragon for theatres. Next week will only be worse, with Clash of the Titans set to release after converting to 3D at the last minute. Now it looks like there won't be enough 3D screens for this fall's slate of movies. November was already packed with Megamind, Tangled, Tron Legacy, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 all releasing in 3D. Now 20th Century Fox is catching up with competing companies and converting Gulliver's Travels and Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 3D.

I love 3D films and am all for the slow transition into 3D, but it should probably be a little slower. Obviously 3D is a big selling point, and a reason for people to catch films in the theatres, but it takes a while for theatres to change their screens into 3D screens. They're doing to best they can to match the supply with the demand, but it's just happening too fast. What is your opinion? I want to know what you think.

Trailer Tuesday: Predators, The Greatest

The new trailer for the latest installment of the Predator franchise was released, and I can't say I'm totally against it. I've trusted this type of Robert Rodriguez film in the past (Sin City, Planet Terror). It's his more family oriented films that make me hate him so much (Shorts, Spy Kids). With this film he's in the producer's chair, with Nimrod Antal (Armored) directing the piece. I can't tell where this film will go, because the editing for the trailer is just so choppy. I also wish the planet they were on looked like more of an alien planet. I'll have to wait for the second trailer to give an opinion on where Predators will go, but they are off to a half decent start. Here's the link for the trailer:

The next trailer is a drama starring Carey Mulligan (An Education), Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, and Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass) called The Greatest. Basically Johnson's character and Mulligan's are a couple, and Johnson dies. Then it turns out Mulligan is pregnant, and apparently the only one she can turn to is her dead boyfriend's family. I don't understand why, but it's supposed to be sweet. I can see this being a feel good film, perhaps in the same vein as The Blind Side, but I'm cautious about it. It very well could be great, but probably not the greatest. Here's the trailer:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Transformers 3 nabs Malkovich and McDormand

The third installment of Michael Bay's succesful Transformers series is finally getting underway. As of yesterday the script for the film has been finished, and Bay is putting together a star cast for the final film. John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich, Burn After Reading) and Frances McDormand (Fargo, Almost Famous) have both been cast in undisclosed roles, as has Ken Jeong. For those who don't know Ken Jeong played the naked asian in The Hangover, so that leaves much to be expected from the film by the man who brought us the robot scrotum. The film will shoot in LA, Chicago, Washington DC, Florida, Texas, Africa, Moscow, and China. Pre-shoots begin in a month, so the only concern I have is if it will be ready in time for its release next July.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Look Us Up On Facebook!

We've finally got our own facebook page completely devoted to this site, so you can just go there and become a fan, and we'll give you updates whenever something is posted on the site. In other relevant news, I've been updating my nominations in the sidebar, so you can just go there to check them out. Here's the link for the facebook page, or you can find the link in the sidebar:!/pages/High-On-Celluloid/102501589785258?ref=nf

High on Nolan: The Prestige Review

People spend so much time and money on the lackluster movies in the theatres they almost forget about these movies that have passed, and gone on unappreciated. So I find it relieving to look back at such films and take the time to fully absorb them. The Prestige is one of the most precise, beautiful, heartbreaking films I've ever seen, and it's a worthy addition to director Christopher Nolans body of work. Its arrival was met with trepidation upon its release, with critics taking both sides of the argument. Some found it too confusing, too long, and incomprehensible, while others loved the intricate story line along with the amazing double sided performances by Hugh Jackman, and Christian Bale. The film's first line is "Are you watching closely?", a warning that the former group of critics should have heeded.

The film is a story of two stage magicians who begin a heated professional rivalry after one of their tricks goes horribly wrong. The film soon focuses Robert Angier's (Jackman) obsession with discovering the secret behind Alfred Borden's (Bale) latest trick. Michael Caine plays Angier's mentor, who is a man who doesn't neccessarily have all the answers, but his heart is always in the right place. Over the course of the film our perceptions of which characters are good and evil blur until we're forced to face the terrifying truth behind each of the magicians respective illusions.

It's an extremely enjoyable ride if you know where it's going, and Nolan's films nearly always merit a second viewing. It's not just because you enjoy the movie (although if you had even half a brain you probably will), but also because you want to understand it. If you've already seen the film then you know that there are more than two main characters, and it's so gratifying to watch the movie and figure out the different characteristics of each of them. It's one of the pleasures that I get from watching Fringe, is that as these secrets are revealed you can look back at the rest of the story and appreciate it a little more. Nolan has often gotten more praise for his installments in the new Batman franchise, but it's always great to see him take on a more personal story like this. My grade for The Prestige is 4 out of 4 stars.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I'm Here Review

There aren't a whole lot of great films in the theatres right now, and with the rising ticket prices it's nice to be able to see a film of exceptional quality without having pay to see it. Spike Jonze, who has been known for creating such bizzarely beautiful films as Being John Malkovich, and Where the Wild Things Are, directs this sweet little science fiction short. The film focuses on the relationship between Sheldon and Francesca, two robots living relatively normal lives in a still relatively normal Los Angeles. There aren't any huge action sequences, or controvercy between humans and robots. It's a quiet, simple romance between robots.

Sheldon is a library assistant who falls for the free spirited Francesca. Throughout the course of their relationship Sheldon learns how to dream, and what it means to love someone else. It's a story about giving all of yourself to the one you love, literally. Spike Jonze often has created intimate stories that strike such a beautiful chord emotionally, and this film is no different. I'd love to see a feature length version of this movie, because it just makes me want to spend more time with Sheldon and Francesca. This is a film you can expect to get Oscar potential next year in the live-action short category, because right now this is the best film released so far this year. Here's the site you have to go to to see the film in its entirety:


Friday, March 19, 2010

Captain America is Going to Suck!

So ever since Iron Man became a box office hit in 2008 Marvel has been fast at work trying to adapt films based on the rest of the members of the superhero team known as The Avengers. The Incredible Hulk was released shortly afterwards, and managed to intigrate smoothly into the mythology already created. Iron Man 2 is released this may, Thor is underway for release next year, and now Captain America is set for release in 2012. It will not turn out well for at least two reasons. The first is that Joe Johnston, who directed Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Jurrasic Park 3, and his most recent failure The Wolfman is at the helm for the film.

The second reason is far worst. They've offered the title role to Chris Evans. For those who don't already know, Chris Evans played the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four series, and more recently starred in the failed superhero movie Push. I would've been fine with the film if it hadn't been for this news. I hold deep in my heart a passionate hate of Chris Evans, and I hope to god that for whatever reason, he declines the offer. I'd rather have Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), or whatever guy from Cloverfield who was being considered for the role take it than him. Now that I've spewed my hate over this project, what is your opinion of this venture that is almost more doomed than the voyage of Titanic.

Weekend Update: 3rd Week of March

This week we get no more inspiring or entertaining films than last week. Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston remind us why we no longer trust them anymore with The Bounty Hunter, and Forrest Whitaker and Jude Law remind us why we don't trust them as much as we used to with Repo Men. Bounty looks like another predictable romantic comedy with a twist, and I hope that there will come a time when actors stop to ask themselves how awful the scripts they're signing on to really are. As for Repo Men, it's just Repo Man: The Genetic Opera without awful music, and without the post-apocalyptic element. So of course it sucks. The best advice I can give this week is to catch Alice in Wonderland in 3D before How to Train Your Dragon takes most of its screens next week. Or if you are looking for something a little more interesting and dramatic you can seek out The Ghost Writer, directed by Roman Polanski which just expanded to over 800 screens.

Showest 2010

For those not in the know, ShoWest is a Las Vegas film convention in the same vein as Comic Con, except it focuses specifically on movies. Among the exhibits (as I'm calling them) were screenings of Toy Story 3, Prince of Persia, trailers for Due Date, Inception, a look at 3D scenes from Clash of the Titans, and finally a 3-5 minute look at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and 2. So lets dive in and find out what people thought of the footage shown at the convention.

Clash of the Titans in 3D- There hasn't really been much talk about the quality of the footage shown from the film, as there has been talk of the quality of the 3D. Slashfilm described the 3D as "...very unnatural. At times the characters stand out like cardboard cutouts, while other times they appeared to be graphed to a computer generated 3D model, and it just looked odd." I was really looking forward to the film being in 3D, but now I'm not quite sure. However the main conflict is whether the film is any good, and the people who saw the featured clips at Showest failed to do that, so we'll just have to wait for reviews to be released.

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time- The general reaction from people who caught the screening is what could have been expected. The film has nice cinematography, visual effects, some good action, but falls flat when it comes to plot, pacing, and characters. I didn't think that having Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) at the helm would do too much for the picture. I guessed from the trailers that it would be much in the same area as the Pirates of the Caribbean films, except without Johnny Depps charms, and with less awesome affects. In fact, considering the film has to deal with time travel, I bet they'll just end with going back in time to before any of it ever happened.

Toy Story 3- I'm actually hoping that one day a Pixar film comes along that is completely awful, with absolutely no redeeming qualities, because I'm tired of using the phrase "It's a Pixar film" to describe how awesome it is. From what I've heard from ShoWest, that day doesn't seem to be coming any time soon. The film was a very rough cut, and wasn't shown in 3D, but that didn't stop it from leaving its mark on people. It's apparently just as funny and touching as the past Pixar films and that's enough to confirm that it'll have good chances at grabbing a Best Picture nomination.

Due Date- The trailer for the next film by Todd Phillips was described intimately by as extremely hillarious, and bound to repeat the success of Todds last film, The Hangover. I'd be more frustrated by Phillips not getting straight to making Hangover 2, if this film didn't star both Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. The jokes sound great, and that's not accounting for the delivery by the two great actors. "For instance, when Peter (Downey Jr.) asks Ethan (Galafianakis) why he carries around his father's ashes in a coffee can, he gets a flat response: 'Because he's dead, Peter.'" I can't wait to see how this film turns out.

Inception- After this being shown at ShoWest, I expect that a new trailer for the film will be coming soon. I've gone on and on over the past few days on how great this film will be, and now I'm just waiting to see more of it. Comingsoon describes the imagery as striking, including shots of a city collapsing into the ocean. I can't go on about the footage because I haven't seen it yet, but based on the description I simply have to see it when it comes out.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- The convention closed on a high note with 3-5 minutes of unfinished footage from the final installment of the acclaimed series. The visual effects weren't finished, but that didn't stop the scenes depicted from leaving an impression on people. Scenes depicted include Harry and Ron getting into a fight, giants tearing apart Hogwarts, the quidditch field on fire, the seven potters escaping from the Dursleys, and the confrontation with Voldemort. When Voldemort asks Harry why he still lives, his response is "Because I have something worth fighting for." I'm skeptical of just how good the film is going to be, but descriptions rarely do a film justice. It has to be seen to leave a lasting impression. It also occurs to me that the film (part 1) is exactly 9 months away from release.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jason Segal Starring in Next "Muppet" Movie

It's been a while since we've seen The Muppets on the big screen, and it looks like it's on its way back. The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time is definitely an ambitious title for a film, and I wouldn't expect anything less from Jason Segal, writer of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, co-star of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother, and now not only the writer of the next Muppet film, but also playing the human lead. The plot is being kept under wraps, but from what we've been told already it consists of Segal's character finding and reuniting the Muppets in order to put on a show to save a dying theatre from being demolished. I can't wait to see what Segal has brought to the table with this film.

Twilight: Big Directors Contacted for Final Installment(s)

The people who have making the Twilight films may have finally realized just how awful their films are. After just being treated to the trailer for the next film in the inexplicably successful Twilight saga, Summit Entertainment has announced that they have started considering directors for the final installment(s). The biggest surprise of the announcement was that they've contacted Sophia Coppola (Lost in Translation), Gus Van Sant (Milk, Good Will Hunting), and Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) for the job. They seem to think that maybe if they hire an Oscar nominated director, Twilight: Breaking Dawn will have a chance at winning the big prize. I'm probably not alone on this, but I can't envision Twilight being nominated for Best Picture. Still it's nice to see the producers taking an initiative to make the films better. It'll most likely fail.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Trailer Tuesday: Robin Hood, Tron Legacy, and More

This weeks trailers are hard enough to sit through once, let alone analyze them to see if they have any actual quality, but I'll do my best. First of all is the trailer for Shrek Forever After the fourth and final installment in the shrek franchise. The best thing about this trailer is that little reminder that after this film, we won't have to deal with this series anymore. One would hope that they would go out big with something amazing. No such luck to be found here. The plot is basically taken from It's a Wonderful Life and most of the jokes are either overused, or simply not funny. This franchise has gone from semi-witty humor to derivative cliched shit, and I advise anybody considering seeing this film, to just not do it. Here's the trailer is you have interest in wasting 2 and 1/2 minutes of your life:

Then there came the trailer for the long awaited Tron Legacy, and I understand why there is a lot of hype going into this. The first film certainly gathered a following and they've been waiting for decades to continue the series. Now they have their chance and people for some reason are expecting the second coming. This trailer offers us a brief look at the not great, but not bad visual effects in the movie. Bad visual effects don't necessarily ruin a movie for me, and at times they can work to better the general effect of the film (Drag Me to Hell), but they succeeded in making the effects better from the first film, and that's good I suppose.

But without a great story to back the film up it's meaningless (Avatar). So how is the story for the film? It's really too early to tell, but I'm getting the feeling that I've seen this film before. Son meets his long lost father? That was already old when they used it in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. And I can't tell who the bad guys are or what they want, and we only get one light cycle sequence, but the film doesn't come out until december so how much can we honestly expect to see of the film this far away from it. My stand on the film hasn't changed since before I saw the trailer. We'll have to wait to see how it turns out. Here's the link for the trailer:

Next is the new trailer for Ridley Scott's remake of Robin Hood. Now people have been thinking that this film has Oscar potential based on the main actor, and the director. I don't believe it to be a very likely possibility. The May release date, used dialogue, and familiar story are bound to prevent the film from attaining much of a critical following. With that said, I really like this trailer. Summer is a great time for big action films, and this really looks like that sort of thing. Sure, most its audience may be occupied with Iron Man 2, but if they continue to market the film this way I think it'll get people in the theatre. This feels very much like Gladiator, and that's probably a good thing seeing as they're both made by the same people. Here's the trailer for the film:
Now we get back to the rotten side of this weeks bunch of movies with the new trailer for Twilight: Eclipse. The Twilight saga has never once been good, and that's not likely to change any time soon. The trailers for New Moon did a decent job of disguising the more awful parts of it, and for a moment I thought that I might be in for a good film. I came down from that really quickly. This trailer doesn't even try. The dialogue is greatly stupid, and for people who haven't heard of the franchise before they will be completely lost. So unless you're interested in seeing another two hours of Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner without shirts on, and Kristen Stewart with a shirt on this probably isn't the film for you. If you want to see Kristen Stewart without a shirt on, see Adventureland. I'll be seeing it, just because I want to know if they managed to make a film funnier than New Moon. I won't post the trailer, because I'm a good person and I don't believe in causing pain to another human being.
So does all the recent news on Chris Nolan's new film Inception mean we're actually going to get a new trailer any time soon? I hope so. We'll have to see over the coming weeks.

The Latest Travesties Orchestrated by James Cameron

It's sad to think that there was once a time when James Cameron actually made amazing, and revolutionary movies. It makes his two most recent projects that much more unbearable. What's even worse is that for some reason he can't seem to walk away from them. It's most likely that James Camerons next film will be the sequel to Avatar, which I am calling Avatwo, and as testament to the films painful predictability they've decided to release the dvd on April 22nd. That's right, the Avatar Blu ray will be released on Earth Day.

To make the transition to his next project even slower, he's announced that he's going to re-release Titanic in 3D. It's not enough that he decided to make the longest, highest costing chick flick ever made. Now he wants to convert it into 3D in an attempt to make more money off of it. But what would the world be like if it ended there. Answer: Better. Cameron has also decided to release a longer version of Avatar in 3D towards the end of this year. So it's safe to say that James Cameron isn't really taking his recent failure at the academy awards well. What do you think? Are you excited about seeing Titanic and an extended edition of Avatar back on the big screen, or do your interests more align with mine in which case you are drawing out plans for Camerons assassination?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Oscar 2011: My Year In Advance Predictions (Part 2 of 2)

Most of the films on the second half of my list are likely to be huge blockbusters, and this past year a few of those actually got in (Avatar, District 9, The Blind Side) mostly because the Academy had room for such films and they wanted to appeal to a wider audience. The goal of this year was to get ratings up, and they succeeded. I wouldn't be surprised if next year's race is similar.
-Toy Story 3 - It feels like common sense that Pixar films are naturally better in every way than any other animated films. 9 out of 10 times Pixar has made films that have been immediately awarded the title of classic. The one exception is Cars, and Toy Story 3 could easily go that way. They are both eggs from the same hen, John Lasseter, one of the co-founders of Pixar. However, over the years Pixar has matured in the way they make their films. WALL-E was arguably the darkest disney film made in the past 25 years, and both Up and Ratatouille had no problems with showing the cold harshness of life. The trailers for this film lead us to believe it's going to be more of a comedic film, but Pixar has tricked us before. They always provide more than the trailers give us, and I believe that this film will keep the honored tradition of Pixar not sucking as much as Dreamworks animation.-Inception - This project has been shrouded in mystery ever since it was announced, and you can expect Chistopher Nolan to keep it that way. Even with something as mainstream as The Dark Knight, he tried to keep the juiciest plot points out of the trailers. That's one thing that makes the director one of the classiest and most acclaimed directors of this century. When it comes to making dark, complex films there are two people whom I trust completely: Christopher Nolan and Lady Gaga. What we can tell from what he's told us about Inception is that it's an international thriller, a story of madness and lost love, and a metaphysical heist movie. That gives us an extremely vague idea of what to expect, and that's all we need to put this film on the list as one of the frontrunners.
-Iron Man 2 - This is the only film I have in these nominations that I'm unsure if it should be on this list. Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of the Iron Man, and of Robert Downey Jr. and I can't wait to see the film. The reasons I have it on this list are because it's opening in the same slot that Star Trek opened to last year and that film would've been nominated this year if it weren't for a certain film that I don't care about (The Blind Side), and besides that the two films are tonally very similar. Some people went as far as saying that Iron Man was better than The Dark Knight. They are wrong, but the point is that the first film could've been nominated were there 10 nominations two years ago. If they up the ante on this film then there's little to argue the point that it will probably be in the cards come awards season. -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 - I've always been willing to take a leap of faith for the Harry Potter franchise to be nominated for best picture, but this is different. The series has definitely had its highs (Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire) and its lows (Chamber of Secrets), but Half-Blood Prince gave us a real feel for what the final installment(s) will be like. David Yates has proved himself a quality director, and the absense of Steve Kloves as screenwriter showed negatively in Order of the Phoenix. Add in cinematography by two time Academy Award nominee Eduardo Serra (Girl with a Pearl Earring), and music composed by three time nominee Alexandre Desplat (The Queen, Fantastic Mr. Fox) and we may have reached a peak in quality for the series. I know how unlikely a chance it is, but I just feel that people sometimes fail to recognize just how likely a possibility it very well could be.-Blue Valentine - The biggest film to debut from Sundance last year went on to take two Academy Awards (Precious). The film that left the Sundance film festival this year with the most hype was Blue Valentine. Much like (500) Days of Summer, it is told out of chronological order and it tells the story of a couple whose relationship begins to decay. The one clip released of the film didn't reveal too much of the plot, but it gave us a feel of what the film will be like. It looks to have a tone more in the area of Once than (500) Days of Summer. This is much sadder and less optimistic portrayal of lost love, and I'm looking forward to its release this december.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Oscar 2011: My Year In Advance Predictions (Part 1 of 2)

So the Oscars are a year away, and it seems unintelligent to put predictions for Best Picture up that early. I just don't care, so I'm going to do them anyway. We'll see in a year how many I got right. -How Do You Know- I realize that you haven't heard of it, but many of the best films nominated this year were films we hadn't heard of a year in advance. That said, I don't think this film is going to be this years The Hurt Locker. Still the fact that it has James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment, As Good as it Gets) behind it puts it out in front. Add onto that Paul Rudd who has yet to star in a film I haven't liked, Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon, and Jack Nicholson and it seems idiotic not to put it up on this list.
-The American- Any year where George Clooney stars in a film is a year where he's an instant frontrunner for the award. What makes this film different is that he plays an assasin which puts it more in the area of his roles in Michael Clayton and Syriana than that of his most recent film Up in the Air. With this type of subject it could easily go the wrong way, but its chances are still considerably high.
-The Social Network- The last time David Fincher brought a film to screen it was nominated for 13 awards (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). For his follow-up he's scaling it down a lot with a film about the creation of one of the most popular social networking sites. Somehow "Facebook: The Movie" doesn't immediately strike one as a film that could get Oscar attention. However, having Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake, two great comedic actors as the leads does make things interesting, and operating off of a script by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) doesn't hurt either.-True Grit- The Coen Brothers have made it into this category this easily this year with A Serious Man, but now they're back in familiar territory with this western based on the John Wayne film. Their last western won Best Picture (No Country For Old Men), and with Jeff Bridges playing the pivotal role I can see this film being successful not only critically but also at the box office. It's a huge possibility.
-Hereafter- At the beginning of every year a Clint Eastwood film is placed as one of the frontruners, and then when they are at last released at the end of the year they either gain huge acclaim (Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby), or as it has been more recently, they don't (Changeling, Gran Torino, Invictus). I think this film will place in the former category for a few reasons. One of them is Peter Morgan's script, and while I know that you don't need a great script to be nominated for Best Picture (Avatar) it does play a big part. A supernatural thriller is something of a first for Eastwood and I'm interested to see how it plays to an audience. Some people believe that Clint may have lost his touch, but the box office success of Gran Torino disputes that. He's as good as he's ever been. He's just had bad luck with screenplays.
Expect the second half of my list by the end of day monday.

Weekend Update: 2nd Week of March

The film market this weekend is a lot quieter than it was a week ago. Alice in Wonderland is still likely to take in a huge gross this weekend, and likely next weekend as well. It needs to get as much money as it can before How To Train Your Dragon steals away most of the 3D screens. The critical reception for most of the new releases this week is mixed. Paul Greengrass' new film Green Zone is something of a companion to United 93. Unfortunately it isn't nearly as compelling, or creative as the previous film. A few creative action sequences should gain this film more of an audience than the other new releases.

She's Out of My League has also gotten middling reviews, praising the film for its great cast and likable characters, but then condemning it for required raunchy jokes that come along with this type of film and its lack of originality. And then there's the film that you should just avoid entirely, Remember Me. Robert Pattinson doesn't seem to be able to walk away from the Edward Cullen from Twilight type of character, or Summit Entertainment. What is really depressing about the film is apparently the ending. I haven't seen the film, but from what I hear it's one of the worst endings in film history. So at this point, even though I don't think I need to, I'd like to place a big SPOILER ALERT!

At the end of the film, Robert Pattinsons character is seen standing inside the world trade center on the morning of 9/11. It'd be really emotional if it had anything to do with the rest of the story, but it just doesn't. They literally just slammed it on the end. So there's your choices for this weekend. You can go see Alice in Wonderland if you haven't yet, Green Zone, She's Out of My League, or Remember Me. Or you can go home and rent some good film like Up in the Air or Precious. I'm just trying to point you in the right direction.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chris Nolan On Superman and Batman

Half a decade ago Christopher Nolan cemented his name in hollywood by reviving the long thought dead Batman franchise with Batman Begins. Over the next few years he made The Prestige, which is a film you need to see about 15 times before you actually understand how amazing it is, and then The Dark Knight which blew open the door for comic book films to be darker and more realistic. Most recently he's been working on Inception, a film that takes place within the construct of the mind, which is an interesting way of saying nobody has a clue what it's about. For all we know Nolan doesn't even know what it's about. Does it matter?

So over the first few months of the new year we've heard little seeds of noise saying that he's being the new "Godfather" of the Superman franchise, and that he's starting to get the ball rolling for a third and seemingly final installment of his Batman saga. He now confirms that it is all true and that puts hope in my heart. When asked about David Goyer's proposition for the Superman film, he replied "He basically told me, 'I have this thought about how you would approach Superman. I immediately got it, loved it and thought: That is a way of approaching the story I've never seen before that makes it incredibly exciting. I wanted to get Emma and I involved in shepherding the project right away and getting it to the studio and getting it going in an exciting way."

Does this mean that he's going to have a hand in writing and directing the film? Perhaps, but my guess is probably not. I think he'll be too busy with that Dark Knight follow-up. He comments on it by saying "Each [film] serves to the internal logic of the story. They have nothing to do with each other. Without getting into specifics, the key thing that makes the third film a great possibility for us is that we want to finish our story, and in viewing it as the finishing of a story rather than infinitely blowing up the balloon and expanding the story. We have a great ensemble, that's one of the attractions of doing another film, since we've been having a great time for years."

So yes, he is making that much anticipated next Batman film. With the approach of closing the story, I can't wait to see what they do with it. I'm still not a fan of David Goyer, but Chris Nolan is nearly a complete remedy to the atrocious writer/director. What's your opinion? Are you as excited as I am to see how these films turn out? How high would you say these films chances are?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Trailer Tuesday: Iron Man 2

The Oscars are over, and now that I've passed the 100 post mark, I can get to my next 100 posts which will likely be much less interesting. It's been a while since we've gotten some trailers for the big films coming out this year, but right after the academy awards on sunday we got a nice look at the sequel to Iron Man. The trailers for this franchise always have a way of dulling down the best parts of it, and instead focusing on their brand of screwball humor. So I have to assure people that there is likely more action in the film than this trailer leads us to believe.

I still love what I see of the film. Mickey Rourke looks brilliant as always and I can't wait to see what his role has in store for us. Will it be the sort of performance that earned Heath Ledger and Oscar two years ago? Too difficult to say at this point, but i'm definitely not against the idea. Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer doesn't really seem to me like it will be as huge and complex a villain, if he is a villain at all and not just a corporate douchebag. They didn't feature Scarlett Johansson enough, and I think that the robot soldiers are perhaps a little too evocative of Iron Monger from the last film, but this is still one of the films I'm most looking forward to this summer. Then again it took me five hours to realize that I'm the only one who knows the characters names and significance so this trailer review is pretty meaningless to anyone who hasn't read the comics. Here's the link for the Iron Man 2 trailer:

Monday, March 8, 2010

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards: My Take

So last night was the big night and I must say that it was much better than the ones in the recent past. It garnered more than 41 million viewers, greater than five million more than last year, and I can see it going in an upward trend. The 10 nominees for Best Picture had its advantages and disadvantages. While it recognized many great box office hits, it also had the back fire of having some films nominated for Best Picture who went home with nothing. Among them was Up in the Air, which is by far one of the best films of the year. It was expected to take Adapted Screenplay, but that prize surprisingly went to Precious: Based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire.

One of the biggest shocks of the evening came from neither The White Ribbon or Un Prophete winning Best Foreign Language Film. Instead it went to some Argentinian film that nobody gives a damn about. For me the most upsetting win of the evening was Sandra Bullock for Best Actress. Nothing against the actress, but there were so many better performances this year that it's dissapointing that they chose her. I swear to god, the only reason it won is because of the box office performance of The Blind Side. However that didn't help Avatar out, leaving the evening with only Visual Effects, Cinematography, and Art Direction trophies which were really the only things it actually deserved.

The Hurt Locker was the big winner last night, taking home Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Film Editing, Original Screenplay, Director, and of course Best Picture. As for the show itself, it did a good job maintaining the sense of occasion that was missing from past years. The segments they showed from nominated films were all very enjoyable, and should bring up attendance for some of the lesser known nominees. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were very planned out in their stint as hosts, but seeing as many of the jokes were genuinely funny I'm not complaining at all. The Best Original Score dancers were a particular highlight of the show, as was the opening number by Neil Patrick Harris. I have a hope inside me that he hosts next year, because he is just phenomenal in everything he does.

The show got a little bit slow towards the end, with the friends of the nominees for Best Actor and Actress presenting the awards. At the end however it happened far too quickly. I'm disappointed that Tom Hanks didn't announce the nominees for Best Picture, after they took all that time with the Best Actor and Actress categories. Still for the most part the show was brilliant. Robert Downey Jr. and Tina Fey prove once again why they are two of the funniest people in hollywood. The horror montage was a welcome surprise, but I'm dismayed that they left out the best horror film of the past year, Drag Me to Hell and somehow found a place for Twilight: New Moon. Nothing was more priceless than the look on James Cameron's face when The Hurt Locker won Best Picture. Overall I have few problems with last nights ceremony. I hope that they do it like this again in the coming years. Congratulations Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, and executive producer Adam Shankman. You pulled it off.

So now that the Oscars are over, what the hell am I going to do with this blog? Ideas?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Find Out The Oscar Winners As They Are Announced!

As soon as the show gets underway, I'm going to start updating the site live with the winners as they are announced. The Oscars start at 8:30. Enjoy!

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds
Best Animated Feature: Up
Best Original Song: The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart
Best Original Screenplay: The Hurt Locker
Best Animated Short Film: Logorama
Best Documentary Short Film: Music by Prudence
Best Live-Action Short Film: The New Tenants
Best Make-Up: Star Trek
Best Adapted Screenplay: Precious: Based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire
Best Supporting Actress: Monique in Precious
Best Art Direction: Avatar
Best Costume Design: The Young Victoria
Best Sound Editing: The Hurt Locker
Best Sound Mixing: The Hurt Locker
Best Cinematography: Avatar
Best Original Score: Michael Giacchino for Up
Best Visual Effects: Avatar
Best Documentary Feature: The Cove
Best Film Editing: The Hurt Locker
Best Foreign Language Film: The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentina)
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart
Best Actress: Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Best Picture: The Hurt Locker

Well that was a long show and I have only a short time before I have to be awake again so I'll post up my reactions to the winners tomorrow night.

Best Picture: Ranking the Ten

10. The Blind Side- I was pretty shocked the morning of nominations when I saw this film on the list. It's not outstandingly great, nor is it the type of film that challenges people in the way that Precious or The Hurt Locker did. This film is only nominated because of Sandra Bullocks hype for Best Actress, and the impressive box office haul. It would give me a heart attack if it took this award. Fortunately it has no chance, so we don't have to worry about it.
9. Avatar- I'm going to get shouts of hate over this if I don't explain my decision so here it goes: Avatar isn't a great movie. It's fun at some points, and pretty to look at, but the script is cliched and derivetive. You've seen this film before only it was better written. Yes, the visual effects are stunning, but District 9 made more realistic looking aliens on a $35 million budget. Does it have a considerable chance at winning the prize? Unfortunately yes, but I doubt that the academy will really rank this as their favorite film. I guess we'll see.
8. A Serious Man- The Coen Brothers have had great success in the past, but this just isn't their year. Being nominated is enough of a reward. That's what you'll hear me saying for quite a few of the nominees. Ten nominations is too much for any category because many of the films obviously don't have a chance. In the years to come the brothers may look back on this film and love it because of their own personal attachment to it, but not because of the awards they won from it. Perhaps they'll have better luck next year with their remake of the John Wayne film True Grit. I guess we'll see. 7. Up- It's nice to see Pixar being rewarded for its many great films with a nomination for Best Picture. Up represents the best things about the company's films. It's emotional, realistic, funny, and (literally this time) miles above all the rest. Saddly, it has its own category to win. Pixar films have the privelege of having a special place reserved for them in the living room. As long as Fantastic Mr. Fox doesn't pull an upset, Up won't walk away empty handed, and that's more than one could say for some of the other films nominated for Best Picture. I guess we'll see.
6. District 9- This is the film that Avatar aspired to be but wasn't. First time director Neill Blomkamp took the alien invasion concept and completely flipped it. The aliens are at our mercy, and discriminated against in a kind of twist on apartheid. Sharlto Copley's performance as Wikus Van Der Merwe ranges from darkly comic to powerfully emotional. It's still very much on the outskirts of the race and doesn't really have a chance, but it deserves the honorable mention. The film may not have gotten the same attention Avatar did, but it certainly has a better chance at wooing the academy voters. I guess we'll see.
5. An Education- This british drama may have had a chance at one point, but not winning the BAFTA award for best picture doesn't look too good for it. It doesn't look to have too much of a chance in its other categories either. Carey Mulligan might win Best Actress, and I still back her up, but the odds are slightly against it. It's almost one of the top contenders but it just didn't make the cut. Sad to say it'll probably go home empty handed. I guess we'll see.
4. Inglourious Basterds- I've made my point clear on this film by now. It has quite a bit of potential and it may indeed walk off with a few awards tonight. The best picture race however is the pivotal category, and in order to win it would have to be better than all, or most of the other films this year and it just isn't. It's still a gut-wrenchingly intense film, and one of Quentin Tarantinos few real masterpieces, so it may still win. I guess we'll see.3. Up in the Air- This film hit the height of its hype early on. In late October after it debuted in Toronto critics were all talking about its chances and how it was the film to beat at this year's competition. Then time passed, and so did the buzz. The film just stopped winning guild and critics awards. Somewhere along the line it just vanished. The film didn't display the legs that The Hurt Locker did to make it all the way through the awards circuit. Jason Reitman will just have to wait for something else to come along and maybe then he'll get his trophy. I guess we'll see.2. Precious: Based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire- Today I have belonged completely to this film. While talking about all of the films nominated, and even while watching a few of them, I haven't been able to get this film out of my head. It's really something amazing, and I can't stop thinking about the characters and wishing that Sapphire had made a series of books about these characters. For me this feels like the film with the greatest chance at upsetting the current favorite in the category. I wouldn't be sad at all if it came to pass that this film took it all. I guess we'll see.1. The Hurt Locker- Nearly every other person has said this, so it just seems foolish not to say it myself. The Hurt Locker had the best chance of winning it all eight months ago, and it still does. Despite the odds this little film faced, it has kept its loyal voters over that long period to come to this night. There are people who think that Avatar might walk away with the award, but I just can't think of anybody who would list that film as their favorite. The Hurt Locker was powerful enough to remind people I know who served in wars in the past of some of the bad memories. That is how realistic the film is, and at this point in our history I think that's what Academy voters are going to go with. I guess we'll see.
I'd like to know what you think will win, so please post comments for once in your sad pathetic life!!!! Insulting my readers is a good idea. I should do it more often.

Oscar Predictions: Director and Foreign Language Film

The nominees for this years best director race are especially important because they represent what the best picture race would look like if they only had five nominations. Jason Reitman showed such a connection with the material for Up in the Air that at one point it didn't seem to strange to think that he could take the honor. Quentin Tarantino delivered one of his funniest and most climactic films to date (Inglourious Basterds) with the balance between film lover and film master that only he can maintain. I have no love for Avatar, and I'm a little worried that James Cameron may be all spent on creativity.

Having just seen Precious I may be in too much a state of heightened love for the film to make a logical opinion of Lee Daniels' chances. However, I think I can come down from that to say that Kathryn Bigelow should take this award for her work on The Hurt Locker. It's interested to see her display how much knowledge she has of how to create an intense, gritty action sequence that goes for a realistic approach rather than a frenetic execution like that of the action from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Any other outcome tonight and I will publicly defame the Academy as sexist.

I can't say too much about the Foreign Film category because I haven't seen any of them, but from what I know it's a battle between The White Ribbon and Un Prophete. I personally think Un Prophete has a better chance tonight, but I won't be surprised if The White Ribbon comes out the victor. Expect my analysis of the Best Picture nominees by 2 this afternoon.

Precious Review

I've been waiting three months for the chance to see this film. I was really worried that I'd miss my chance, but it was perhaps divine providence that it happened to be playing last night, the night before the Oscars. After seeing it I can proudly say that this is one of the best films of the year, and has a better shot at Best Picture than most of the other films nominated. It's a grim, emotional masterpiece set within the world we live. It's a film that reduced me to tears on multiple occasions during and after the film, which is no easy feat.

Precious: Based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire is about Claireece Precious Jones (Portrayed by Gabourey Sidibe), an overweight, illiterate, and abused african-american girl who is pregnant for the second time by her father. She has big dreams like any teenage girl, but is constantly told by her endlessly abusive mother, Mary Jones (played by Monique) that she is worthless, and meaningless. Through the help of a teacher at an alternative school (Paula Patton), her fellow classmates, and a social worker (Mariah Carey) she starts down a road to improving her life for herself and her children.
Precious herself is a fascinating person, who despite the hardships of life tries to look on the brighter side. Arguably the best visual motif in the film is of the title character looking in the mirror at a skinny, blonde, white version of herself. It's one of the saddest moments in the film, and it's the moment you really start to get what kind of person she is. She looks in the mirror at the beauty she wishes she could have, and as the film moves forward that vision washes away until by the end she sees the beauty in herself.

The acting in the film is of an extremely high class. There wasn't a moment in the film in which I thought that the characters weren't real. Gabourey Sidibe makes you fall into an unconditional love with Precious that you usually reserve to your best friends and family members. Mariah Carey takes off the makeup and more than shows her prowess as an actress. As for Monique's performance, it really is all that it's been hyped up to be. She puts up enough raw emotion in the final scene to halfway make you forgive half the horrible things she's done. Mary Jones is ultimately not a villain. She's a flawed person; a victim of circumstance and she doesn't deal with it very well. Every way of man is right in his own eyes, and in the final scene, though we may not agree with her, she provides the honest reason why she did what she did. My Grade for this film is A.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oscar Predictions: Lead Actor and Actress

As we vault into the final stretch of Oscar week, I'm starting to feel the pressure to fill out my opinions on the rest of the races. The lead acting races have had many frontrunners over the past few months and we seem to have reached a final consensus on who will win. The first actor to get Oscar buzz was Jeremy Renner for his performance in The Hurt Locker. I was at first a little reluctant to let the film in but it really grew on me since my initial viewing last August. In October two well known faces dived head first into the race, with people leaning a little more in favor of George Clooney in Up in the Air than Morgan Freeman in Invictus.

Colin Firth came into the race in November and ground out enough buzz for his role in A Single Man to earn a BAFTA award in his home country of the United Kingdom. The most recent actor to get in on the race was Jeff Bridges who did a great job in his performance from the movie Crazy Heart. There's only one thing that lingers in my mind that would be a significant reason for him not to win. His role in the film was really similar to Mickey Rourke's in last year's The Wrestler. However that hasn't stopped him yet, and I believe that sunday he will recieve his long deserved Oscar statue for his great body of work.
The Best Actress race took a different road because it went a kind of downward direction. Helen Mirren (The Last Station) never had a chance, I'm sorry to say. Meryl Streep got a minimal amount of buzz in august when Julie and Julia came out to much acclaim, and since then it has slowly been gaining momentum. In that time the category was being dominated by two fresh faces, Carey Mulligan from An Education and Gabourey Sidibe from Precious. They were both neck and neck for quite some time, and still would be if it hadn't been for one unforseeable wild card.

Sandra Bullock came into the race late with her performance from The Blind Side and she gained buzz quickly. It frankly doesn't matter that her performance pales in comparison to the rest. Sandra Bullock is the Avatar of the Best Actress race. She's not truly deserving of the award for this role and there are people who have done better, but she propelled a film past the $200 million mark based purely on her own star power. It's been a good year for her, aside from her quick stint in All About Steve. But I'm going to side with Carey Mulligan on this one. I think she has a shot, and am willing to put myself out there for her. I'll be back later tonight with my analysis of the Best Director race and my predictions on Best Foreign Film.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oscar Predictions: Supp. Actor and Actress

These are probably the easiest categories to predict in the whole race, especially the supporting acting races. In the supporting actor categories there are a few little actors (Matt Damon, Christopher Plummer) who'd like to think that playing nice little characters will get them an award someday. They'd be wrong. For the past two years the supporting actor award has gone to a sociopathic murderer, and this year should show no change in that trend. Woody Harrelson (The Messenger) doesn't go so far as becoming a psychopath, but his body of work over the entire year has earned him this recognition.

Stanley Tucci might have a considerable shot for his tense portrayal as the town rapist, if it hadn't been in such a bad movie (The Lovely Bones). There's really no argument to the matter that Christoph Waltz will take the award for his amazing performance as Hans Landa, the endlessly intelligent Nazy colonel who works his way into all five chapters of Inglourious Basterds. The film survives without him on screen, which is a testament to Quentin Tarantino's prowess as a filmmaker. But it's Waltz's dead on accuracy of each line of dialogue that makes you love his character.

In the supporting actress race, Up in the Air has two nominations. Neither of them are going to win. Don't get me wrong. I love Vera Farmiga's sexy love girlfriend, and I'm glad that Anna Kendrick was able to claw her way out of becoming just another girl in the Twilight franchise. I also love Maggie Gylenhaal in Crazy Heart, despite the fact that there wasn't a single time that I felt that the relationship wasn't awkward and wierd. As for Penelope Cruz, if it was for a character in any movie other than Nine then I'd say yes. They all fail in comparison to Mo'nique's performance as the abusive mother in Precious. I haven't seen it yet, but as soon as I do I'll give you details.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Oscar Predictions: Original and Adapted Screenplay

The Hurt Locker has a good chance at grabbing quite a few of the awards it's nominated for. I don't think Original Screenplay is one of them. The Messenger just edged it's way into the list a few weeks before nominations were announced. Up's nomination came from the long following that Pixar has amassed over the years and its subsequent Best Picture nomination. Sad to say its chances aren't too likely. The Coen Brothers' film A Serious Man only got two nomination so it doesn't have much to back up the decision.

The film I believe has the best chance is Inglourious Basterds. The Hurt Locker is pretty inventive and all, but Tarantino's script is so exact and meticulous. Where other writers would give simple instructions, Quentin adds his own emotionally invested touch. He needs to know how it's happening and what affect it has. His knack for knowing what works on an audience in a packed theatre puts him ahead of Mark Boal's Hurt Locker script.

There's quite a bit of originality in the Adapted Screenplay race, in some ways more than the Original Screenplay category. District 9, though based on the director's short film Alive in Joburg, sports one of the most original science fiction story lines in years. In the Loop had me rolling on the floor laughing multiple times at some of its jokes. Jason Reitman took Walter Kirn's novel Up in the Air and made it completely his own film, adding whole new subplots and much more emotion that couldn't be found in the book it's based on.

An Education and Precious obviously had great screenplays, but I can't comment on either of those because I haven't seen them yet (I'm catching the last showing of Precious in my area before the Academy Awards on saturday). It won't matter though because if all of the precursors' choices hold up then Up in the Air will leave the night with that award, and perhaps only that award.

Monday, March 1, 2010

5 Movies to Rent Before the Oscars!

An awful lot of the films in the race are still in theatres, and there are quite a few you've already seen, but here's a few films that you may not have and should before the show on monday.

District 9 (Nominated for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Visual Effects, and Film Editing)- Avatar's surprise surgence in the past few months may have stolen recognition away from this film, but it's still by far the best science fiction film of the year. One of the striking aspects of the genre is originality, and this film delivers that in a swift gritty runtime of less than two hours.

A Serious Man (Nominated for Best Picture, and Original Screenplay)- The notorious jew film that's snuck into nearly every big awards show, the Coen Brothers' new film showed what they can do when they throw caution to the wind and tell a good story without fear of being judged on their risky, but hillarious screenplay.

Coraline (Nominated for Best Animated Feature)- Before Avatar swept the 3D market with its jump off the screen visuals, there was this humble little stop-motion film that spread the (as some percieve it) gimmick into new areas. Without being in your face, Coraline was able to add depth to an equally deep and haunting story that you could only expect from a master storyteller like Neil Gaiman.

In The Loop (Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay)- We've always had an open place in our hearts for the british sense of humor and this movie is full of it. Some of the most hillarious lines of dialogue of the year come from this clever little film that didn't get a huge theatrical release, but that didn't stop it from siezing a spot in the Oscar race.

Honorable Mention: Ponyo- Hayao Miyazaki is one of the greatest cinematic artists of the current age. Even his most recent and as some believe it his worst film stands miles higher than most of the other cliche's globs in the film market. It was regrettably snubbed for the Animated Feature race, which is a shame. I highly recommend this film for it's whimsical, and underlyingly dark take on the classic Little Mermaid story.

Shutter Island Review

Martin Scorcese can't do any wrong, and I stand by that statement. With that I have to say that this year he came dangerously close. Shutter Island is the story of U.S. Deputy Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his journey to a mental institution where a patient has mysteriously vanished. Nobody has any idea how the prisoner, Rachel Solando got out of her room, and it doesn't really seem possible. To add to the intrigue the hospital staff are refusing to fully cooperate with the investigation. This leads Teddy to believe that the doctors are plotting against him to make sure that he's never let off the island.

At first the film seems on solid ground, but it soon becomes apparent what the big secret that they are waiting until the end of the film to reveal is. I'm not going to spoil it because the film is good. The cinematography, editing, and choice of music is reflective of Scorcese's genius. I don't think that in the hands of anybody other than Martin Scorcese this film would be any good at all. He's able to bring so much about the characters to the surface that nobody else would be able to.

The performances are all solid, especially considering some of the characters are only hallucinations and have no secrets. Leo DiCaprio is amazing as always and he goes a ways toward fooling us about the twist ending. Ben Kingsley does a great job as the head physician at the hospital who has his own secret mission that he is very attentive to. The best performance in the film is definitely Mark Ruffalo as Teddy Daniels' partner Chuck, and it may not seem so at first but by the end you willing be marveling at his powers of deception. The film may run a little long and is certainly ranked far below Scorcese's other films but it is still a worthy relief from the derivative junk we've been dealing with so far this year. My grade for Shutter Island is B.