Monday, January 31, 2011

Awards 2010: Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) Winners

It's amazing how the entire Oscar race can take a complete U-turn in the matter of only six days, not to mention how it could so totally head for calamity. The King's Speech woefully won Best Ensemble at last night's Screen Actor's Guild Awards, and I am just as despondent as I was when it was the DGA on Friday. That was the sole suprise and upset of the night, and I'm only happy about in the slightest way possible. Firth, Rush, Pierce, and Gambon deserve it, but there were so many better ensemble casts this year. It just feels like nobody is thinking logically about who deserves these awards, and they're just handing them out to The King's Speech for no reason. I didn't actually watch the telecast, so I can't really comment on it at all.

Best Ensemble: The King's Speech
Best Actor: Colin Firth (The King's Speech)
Best Actress: Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo (The Fighter)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Box Office Update: In the Depths of Hell

As grim as the outlook may be for the next month, take solace in the fact that it could never be as underwhelming as January 2011 was. We have some heavy catching up to do for the rest of the year. I know that many perceive the weekend of Season of the Witch to be the lowest our year has ever sunk, but I beg to differ, offering this weekend as a substitute. I'm just so underwhelmed by the box office performances that we've endured. Obviously the Oscar prevalent contenders are doing as well as always, with Black Swan looking to be the next film to break the $100 million barrier. The new releases of this year could use some improvement.

This week's new releases were The Rite and The Mechanic, but I honestly didn't notice until I had to comment on my expectations for them this weekend. Based on reviews, you'd expect the Jason Statham vehicle to do better in the box office, but that doesn't seem to be the way the world works. Instead, Anthony Hopkins garnered a short opening of $15 million, which should be easily overtaken next weekend. At this point, I still need to see No Strings Attached, but it's been doing fine enough for itself in the paltry competition it's had thus far. The only real question I have is why Yogi Bear is still in the top ten. Is the world really that pathetic?

1. The Rite (First Weekend; $15 million)
2. No Strings Attached (Second Weekend; $13.7 million)
3. The Mechanic (First Weekend; $11.5 million)
4. The Green Hornet (Third Weekend; $11.5 million)
5. The King's Speech (Tenth Weekend; $11.1 million)

6. True Grit (Sixth Weekend; $7.6 million)

7. The Dilemma (Third Weekend; $5.5 million)

8. Black Swan (Ninth Weekend; $5.1 million)
9. The Fighter (Eighth Weekend; $4.1 million)
10. Yogi Bear (Seventh Weekend; $3.2 million)

Awards 2010: Director's Guild of America (DGA) Winner

I don't know why, but the world is just collapsing all around me right now. I am so confused by the awards season right now, because it doesn't make even the slightest bit of sense to me. The DGA Award winners were announced last night, and to everyone's surprise, Tom Hooper ended up winning for directing The King's Speech. I am about to go on a bit of an enraged tangent, so if you just wanted to know who won, then you've been satisfied by now. However, if you want to read me going into how ridiculous this recent turn of events is, by all means continue on.

What is behind the fascination that the Academy and the Guilds have for The King's Speech? Before the Oscar nominations were announced on Tuesday, I was in genuine favor with Tom Hooper's film, and I appreciated it for the inspirational musings of a not necessarily original work. Then the nominations came out, and all that I could be thinking about was how it was unworthy. Twelve nominations is far more than anybody expected, and far more than it deserves. I could've pegged better supporting actresses this year than Helena Bonham Carter's performance. The cinematography is the film was occasionally so plainly straightforward that it a bit distracting. I haven't the slightest clue why it garnered a nod for sound mixing. As much as I love Alexandre Desplat's scores, his least impressive work this year, besides Tamara Drewe, was with The King's Speech.

Even the directing race seems like a bit of a stretch. If asking the overwhelming majority if Tom Hooper's direction defined the film, most would say no. It barely had an impact on how I felt, and certainly not as much as Colin Firth or Geoffrey Rush. I always expected that David Fincher would win Best Director for The Social Network, and now that's going to be a bit of a struggle. If you were to ask me who most deserved to win the category, I would say Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan. He's never quite astounded with his directorial work until now. Still, this is a fight between Hooper and Fincher, and I can't help but believe that the wrong person will win.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Television Breakdown: The Big Reveal

Fringe: Reciprocity


Last week's Fringe had a certain feeling of dread about it, and that lingered over the entirety of the episode. Right from the start, we felt that something terrible was going to happen, or some major reveal was on its way. The latter turned out to be right, and while I had already suspected it, having a mild piece of confirmation made it so much more impacting. If you didn't pick up on the revelation, you should in an episode or two. Every episode since we got back from break has been leading up to a big reveal at the end, and that adds some enticing confusion to everything up until that point. It makes repeat viewing even more necessary than before.

It helps that this was a particularly exciting episode, and it didn't have to do with any case-of-the-week scenario. Right from the beginning, this episode was about Walternate's machine and its relationship to Peter. The device itself has such a menacing look to it, borrowing most prominently from the device Mewtwo was hooked up to towards the beginning of the first Pokemon movie. It's ridiculous parallel, but it's a fascinating one as well. This episode was another analysis of the state of the situation, much like 6955 kHz. Suddenly it felt as if a completely new case was butting heads with the initial conflict of the episode, as somebody has been hunting down and killing shapeshifters.

From that moment on, the episode is an intense hunt for whatever mole has infiltrated Massive Dynamic or Fringe Division. I was so worried for most of the episode that Astrid was the mole, seeing as everything started going down after she started tackling Fauxlivia's computer files. Instead, the truth turned out to be far simpler, yet unexpected. I think that everybody picked up on the doctor being more than what he seemed, but even though I knew that Peter was going out at night for some mysterious reason, I could never have guessed that he was the one killing off those shapeshifters.

Olivia continued to recover from the emotional trauma of returning home, but it was such a meaningful episode for her because she started to see the humanity in her doppelganger. The two think in similar manners, so it allows for Olivia to in some ways empathize with the woman who stole her life. It's horrible, but that was the job that Fauxlivia was meant to fulfill, and she reacted as emotionally to it as we would expect our Olivia to. There are differences between the two, one having not been subject to Walter and William Bell's drug trials, but they're just alternate versions of the same person. However, this episode was far more about Peter than anyone else. The reveal at the end that the machine had "weaponized" him was equal in shock to when Olivia became convinced that she was Fauxlivia. It's frightening to think that he might be changing for the worst, and it's some strange foreshadowing of the events still to come. As for what I didn't like, Josh Singer remains my least favorite writer on the show in terms of dialogue, and that showed a bit this week. However, the execution of the story along with the outstanding performance from Joshua Jackson made it a powerful experience. That final scene is absolutely to die for, not in terms of revelation, but in terms of execution. Ultimately, this episode managed more impact and thrills than last week's Observer piece.

9.5 out of 10

Cougar Town: Lost Children



I've tried not to take up writing on half hour shows, but just because they don't have the same amount of content doesn't mean they deserve to be ignored. I'm not going to lie and say that I don't absolutely love Cougar Town, because the moment I got started on it, I was hooked. It has such a wonderful flavor to it, and I just hope that it someday earns Courtney Cox the Emmy nomination she never got from her work on Friends. The show never indulges in mythological arcs, but it's just as necessary and enjoyable as a good modern comedy like Easy A.

The episode really focused around an adult version of hide and seek, which was mostly just Jules looking desperately around for Ellie, and everyone else doing their own thing. On top of that, Grayson's friendship with Andy had a bit of trouble this week, which grew rather funny when Grayson decided to tie Andy to a tree. However, the hilarity of the episode mostly came from the search for Ellie, and was mostly concerning Travis. Why isn't he at college? There's also a wonderful shout-out to Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. "Give me back my son!"

9.2 out of 10

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sundance 2011: Best of the Fest

I guess my attempts at keeping up with the Sundance Film Festival have been something of a failure, but this has been a very busy week, and nobody is in the same place at the same time. It's rather difficult to get much done, but I've already gotten around to the bulk of really quality films like Martha Marcy May Marlene, Win Win, Like Crazy, Rebirth, and Pariah. So if the rest of the films feel like we're simply going through the rounds, then it's because we are. I display some kind of confidence that a great deal of the films on the first list could be nominated for next year's Academy Awards, because some of my favorite films of 2010 came from Sundance. I absolutely loved Winter's Bone and The Kids Are All Right, and the further we go into this year, the more my original Best of 2010 list continues to shift. It serves as a bit of a lesson not to announce my list so quickly.

Moving on to the here and the now, let me start off with the only film of the festival that I did have the opportunity to see, and that was the YouTube sponsored documentary Life in a Day. This is certainly something that's never been tried before, and that's an intriguing notion in and of itself. What struck me, and probably struck most people who watched it, was how it didn't feel too much like a bunch of people dorking around with their cameras, as well as how it never had any narrative string to it. It was a digital preservation of that one day, and not only the positive aspects of it, but the negative and occasionally disgusting aspects. It includes some of the most beautiful images this year, but also one of the most disturbing things ever caught on camera. A man opens up the egg of a mostly developed baby chick that died, sprinkles some salt on it, and puts it in his mouth. The fact that there's actually somebody who did that shocks me, and that's one of the images I couldn't get out of my head. It's not meant to be a critical masterpiece, but it's a lovely piece of work nonetheless.

Moving on to what was probably the most talked about premiere going into the festival, Kevin Smith's religious horror film Red State had quite a bit of controversy surrounding it. However, when you make a film where the antagonistic force is a radical priest who is harsh even by Nazi standards, you're surely going to butt heads with the Vatican. When have they ever turned down an opportunity to destroy the ambitious creativity of modern filmmakers? It goes without saying that people went to see the film anyway, mostly out of curiosity, and the response was as mixed as possible. I would never go ahead and call Kevin Smith a great filmmaker, but the man certainly has balls, and that's perhaps the most that people are saying of his latest film. It's brave, but not the work of an accomplished artist. I may still check it out when it comes around, but I'll be waiting a rather long wait for that to happen, seeing as Smith is planning to distribute Red State all by himself. On the long list of kindhearted, but ultimately stupid ideas, Smith is matched by none.

Transitioning from dark to dark, one of the early hits of the festival was Brendan Gleeson showcase The Guard. I've always gotten enjoyment from Gleeson's supporting performances, so him taking the lead role in a crime drama immediately interests me. When a generally unlikable character is put in the center of a story, you need the perfect actor for the audience not to completely despise him. It worked for George Clooney in Up in the Air. It didn't work for Ben Stiller in Greenberg. Hopefully, it works for Gleeson in The Guard. Another dark treasure that caught my eye was The Details, starring Elizabeth Banks and Tobey Maguire as a married couple. I feel shy from mentioning any reviews because they reveal far too much of the story, and though it is fantastically dark, it sounds like something I'd have rather experienced for myself. All I can say is that the response has been generally favorable, and it strikes me as a companion to American Beauty, at least from the premise of it.

One of the films at the festival that struck me as potentially being this year's The Social Network was Margin Call, set on the eve of the 2008 stock market drop. It supposedly tackles the collapse of a company, and does it with some of the greatest actors out there. Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Paul Bettany, and the wonderful Zachary Quinto are all in the film, and even though it's been made clear by reviews that this isn't a popcorn flick, that cast has me eagerly awaiting this film, no matter the quality. That's the sort of cast that so rarely comes around, and while I have my doubts that it will deliver the same emotional drama as David Fincher's recent success, it does have a certain critical weight to it.

The last film I'll talk about, and this is a very potent contender for Best Picture next year, is Vera Farmiga's directorial debut, Higher Ground. If there was any film I expected to disappoint at the festival, it was this one. It's not because I doubt the actress' wealth as an actress, but because it's rare that they can hold as much attention behind the camera as in front of it. Reviews have been fantastic, painting this religiously conscious film in a far more favorite light than Kevin Smith's more sinister look at fundamentalists. It hasn't gotten a distributor yet, but I eagerly await the moment it does. Higher Ground could earn Farmiga her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress, and maybe people will stop making jokes about her name being hard to pronounce. Her name is Vera Farmiga. It's as simple a name as Clint Eastwood.

So, to wrap everything up, here are the top ten films of the festival that I am most anticipating, not including Life in a Day.


10. Win Win
9. Pariah
8. Rebirth
7. Margin Call
6. Higher Ground
5. Like Crazy
4. The Details
3. The Guard
2. Tyrannosaur
1. Martha Marcy May Marlene




Images (In Order): Vera Farmiga in Higher Ground; Red State;
Kevin Spacey in Margin Call; Martha Marcy May Marlene

Oscar 2010: The World vs. "King's Speech" vs. "Social Network"

Now that it's not been nominated for any Academy Awards and was completely ignored in the box office, I'm going to say that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is the outcast gem of 2010. However, I'm clearly not here to discuss the several awards that Edgar Wright's action-comedy deserved by didn't get. This Tuesday morning's Oscar nominations drew quite a lot of debate and distractions, mostly from Christopher Nolan's disheartening snub from the Best Director field. It's the category Inception most deserved to snag a nomination in, and yet it didn't. It all serves to draw attention away from the real matter at hand, and that is the completely changed Best Picture race.

First off, I'd like to take the time to comment on something that I did not comment on when the nominations were announced on Tuesday, and that is my predictions from a year ago. There more than a few that I obviously got wrong, because some films just failed to deliver on their promise. I thought that
The American would add another nomination to George Clooney's resume, How Do You Know would be a return to form for James L. Brooks, and Hereafter would be Clint Eastwood's most widely adored film since Million Dollar Baby. I don't have to say it for everyone to know I was wrong, because I even expected Iron Man 2 to be nominated. The first one was so surprising in a great way, but the second proved to be surprising in a negative fashion. I'm not going to blame myself for supporting Harry Potter and Blue Valentine, because in an ideal world they would've been nominated this year. However, I was right about Inception, True Grit, Toy Story 3, and The Social Network, so four out of ten isn't anything to wine about.

Back to the present, or rather the more recent past, months ago we thought that there was no excitement left in this year's Oscar race. It seems we were wrong, and painfully so. The King's Speech came out with 12 Oscar nominations this Tuesday, a rather astounding total for a British period drama. I'm n
ot going to start pretending that it deserved all those nominations, because it didn't. The cinematography for the film, well done as it may have been, wasn't as good as other contenders like Let Me In and Deathly Hallows: Part 1. I don't even know what to say about Sound Mixing, but even though Tom Hooper did an honest job of directing, he lacked the unique creative vision of some of the other contenders. This is coming from somebody who absolutely adored the film, so don't lose sight of that.

For Your Anticipation: I've Conned People

Last week might've been a mild success for Fringe in terms of writing, but it was an outstanding success in terms of ratings. It looks like the gamble that FOX has taken in placing their best show on Friday nights has ultimately payed off. Keep in mind, the numbers are still nowhere near the tally of shows like Glee or American Idol, but they are surely on the rise. Tonight's episode is a promising one, with two major problems for the Fringe team to deal with. First, Massive Dynamic has constructed Walternate's device, and we may start to learn more about its relationship to Peter. Second, there may be a mole in the Fringe Division, and that is a frightening notion to think over. Though Fringe may have done well last Friday, I still suggest that if you haven't tuned in yet, tonight is as good a time as any to start!


Theatrical Trailer: Beginners

The blank splotches on the chart of films releasing in 2011 are beginning to fill in, some less favorably than others. Beginners, from director Mike Mills, is one of the others, and it's amongst my most anticipated films of the year. The first six months of this year are so brimming with quality films lying below the surface, and we can't be sure what will be nominated for Best Picture this time next year. However, at this current moment, the dramedy starring Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, and Melanie Laurent has a spot reserved on my year-in-advance list. It looks like a sweet romance, an emotional story of father and son, and a deep tale of the choices we make in life and love. On top of that, that dog is just so cutely off-kilter and oddly realistic. I can't wait to see Beginners. Checkout the trailer, and let me know if you feel the same.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Potter-Watch (36-43 of 77): Spoken Like A True Politician

It has been some time hasn't it. It just becomes so damn hard to keep up with the news on the final film in the epic saga of Harry Potter, and we've had so few of these posts in the past two months that it only seems right to cram the many notable events in one post. Of course, this could just be me trying to justify poor planning and neglecting my self-set requirements, but so what? Let's get right into it.

36. David Yates and Tom Felton on
Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Very high emphasis on the fact that this is the last film, and I think we're all in agreement that we want them to do it right.


37.
Tale of the Three Brothers Concept Art
One of the most visually striking scenes of the film, and probably part of the reason the film was nominated for Art Direction.


38. Notable Death Scene from
Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Changed
I feel too shy about giving away whose it is, but if you don't care about spoilers than continue on.


39. Deathly Hallows: Part 1 DVD Releasing April 11th
It always seems a bit soon for them to release the DVD, but the film didn't really stay in theaters too long.


40. 10 Minutes of Deleted Scenes on
Part 1 DVD
This should surely satiate a few fans who were so ravenous they weren't even pleased with the scenes that made it into the film.


41. Kelly Macdonald cast as Grey Lady

I can't begin to explain how excited I am about about Yates reuniting with one of his collaborators in the past...

42. Kelly Macdonald Originally Supposed to Play Tonks

...and I can't even start to describe how disappointed I am that she wasn't able to play Tonks instead of the dreadful actress they eventually went with.


43. First Image from
Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Eduardo Serra wasn't nominated for his stunning cinematography on
Part 1, but he does have another shot with the epic finale of the epic finale. The image can be seen at the top of the page.

Oscar 2010: WARDROBE MALFUNCTION!!!!

Two little things to report today, the first being this stunning and sexy promotional image of this year's Oscar hosts, James Franco and Anne Hathaway.


Second, a nice little promotional spot for the two hosts and this year's Academy Awards! I place the emphasis on the "little".


What's Next?: Best Supporting Actress

The Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday, and they brought the same serving of unusual surprises that we expect from them. I've already gone over what I happy and disappointed about, so that's not what this series is about. This is looking beyond the night of the ceremony and into the horizon at what the actors, actresses, writers, and directors will be doing in the coming months. It's a tad bit difficult, because the actors don't always make plans right away. For the most part, however, they usually have one or two films already down the pike for that year.

Amy Adams, nominated for the role of Charlene in The Fighter, has two films ahead of her this year, but both radically different in approach. One is a supporting role in On the Road, a film about a young man setting out on the roads and railways of America. The film is directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries), and written by Jose Rivera (Letter to Juliet). Without having seen any footage from the film, I doubt that I'll be standing in line to see it. On the other hand, Adams is also starring alongside Jason Segal (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) in the highly-anticipated family film, The Muppets. She's not likely to grab another nomination anytime soon, but she's got a pretty solid post-Oscar plan ahead of her.

Helena Bonham Carter has only one film to look forward to this year, but seeing as it's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, I don't think she'll be too torn up over it. Melissa Leo always keeps a packed schedule of films each year, which could potentially aid in her getting another nomination this year. For one thing, she's got the Kevin Smith horror feature Red State on the way, even if it'll take a hell of a long time to get here. She's appearing in the title role of a mystery project called Francine, and taking a starring role in another mystery project called Seven Days in Utopia from first time director Matt Russell. No word on if there's any relation whatsoever to The Fighter director David O. Russell, but I wouldn't count on it

The other two actresses in the category don't yet have anything on the table in the foreseeable future, although I suspect Hailee Steinfeld should be getting an offer or two once she wins the Academy Award next month. The fifth slot was a competition between Mila Kunis and Jacki Weaver, and the latter was the ultimate victor. Though it's not quite related, Kunis is next slotted to appear in Friends with Benefits, the Black Swan twin of Portman's No Strings Attached. As for Jacki Weaver, we have no idea what she's doing next, but there are some ideas out there.



Images (In Order): Melissa Leo in Red State; Amy Adams in The Muppets

For Your Anticipation: Pure and Simple

If you even try asking me what The Mechanic is about, I'll have absolutely no idea what to say. I honestly stopped keeping track of what Jason Statham films are about after Transporter 3. There just ceased to be any reason to know the subtle differences in plot, because they're all practically the same. Somebody did something that Jason didn't agree with, and now Statham is tracking them down in order to kill him. It varies between whether he is working for the law or against it, but it's usually against it. Corruption, and all that good stuff. Saddest thing is that this is the film you should see if you head out to the theaters this weekend, but I still discourage it.


Theatrical Trailer: The Conspirator

Somewhere during the Telluride, Venice, and Toronto Film Festivals, Robert Redford was shopping off his historical courtroom drama, The Conspirator. It has the long tread over surroundings of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, so I entered into the trailer largely hesitant. It's edited in a rather rushed fashion, so I had to go over it twice in order to get the actual plot of it. It stars so many people that you wanted to see in a film together, such as James McAvoy, Tom Wilkinson, and apparently Johnathon Groff. It's an odd bunch, and the music heard in this trailer has been heard a million times before. Still, I might see The Conspirator for the solid cast.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Films To See In 2011: February

So what could possibly be worst than January in terms of theatrical enjoyment? It seems like that's February in terms of this year, because we are definitely stepping down in terms of quality. I've had a hard time picking out three films I actually want to see, because there are so few. At the same time, I had a hard time figuring out three bad films for you to vote for me to see, because there are so many. I'm obviously not looking forward to The Roommate, Gnomeo and Juliet, and Drive Angry, but I'm also not terribly excited to see Sanctum, The Eagle, I Am Number Four, or Hall Pass. There are probably only three films I'm truly pumped to see this February, and there's no guarantee that any of them will be good in the slightest. On the other hand, both The Rite and The Mechanic have been getting slightly good reviews, so maybe things aren't as bad as they seem.

#3.
"Unknown"
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

It's never a bad thing to release an action-thriller starring Liam Neeson early in the year. The man makes films playing these normal sorts of characters that turn out to be total bad-asses. He proved that with Taken, and it's impossible to tell if his latest thriller will be anything like that in terms of entertainment. It also has Frank Langella, January Jones and Diane Kruger taking supporting roles, so I'm in the seat on opening night, no questions asked. Why isn't this film higher up on my list? Because you know it's never going to be as awesome as it seems from the trailer. There is always going to be some corny plot twist ruining the entire thing, which happened with The Tourist (among other things), or the script is just not going to be entertaining. That's the constant fear for any film, but I'm willing to take the risk fo
r Unknown.

#2.
"Cedar Rapids"
Directed by Miguel Arteta

I am ever puzzled by my own choices for what I'm most anticipating this month, because somehow a quirky and raunchy comedy using a storyline we've probably already seen before is making its way to second place. It might just be because the film is playing at Sundance, but I feel like there's a bit of indie classiness attached to this film. It features Ed Helms in the main role, which I always take as g
ood thing because Helms isn't really known for leading man status. He's known as that guy from The Office or part of the ensemble cast of The Hangover. He doesn't need to be any more popular than that, and that makes this project a little more endearing. Besides, it just looks like a more entertaining film than your average pathetic comedy.

#1.
"The Other Woman"
Directed by Don Roos

The second film in Natalie Portman's post-Black Swan victory lap finds its way to the top spot on my list, perhaps because I so immensely trust the actress after what she's given us. It's a peculiar series of films she's got releasing between now and June. The ones that people are most aware of are obviously Thor and Your Highness, but the personal nature of The Other Woman really hits me. It's probably not going to be anything special, and I'm preparing myself for that possibility. The film was originally called Love & Other Impossible Pursuits, and that was only changed because of Love and Other Drugs. I trust this one to tread on a steadier emotional string than the Jake Gyllenhaal rom-com. The fact of the matter is that I think this could be another strong showcase for Portman's acting capabilities, and probably the only this year. If the film holds up, all the better.

For Your Anticipation: An Old Friend

I really need to learn appropriately which films are guaranteed failures and which films are total failures. I was right on the money saying that The Dilemma would be a complete waste, but No Strings Attached turned out to be smarter than the title, and The Rite seems to be a bit more interesting than the trailer lets on. Don't get me wrong, because I still have little to no intention of actually seeing the film. When Anthony Hopkins takes on a worthy role again, then I'll be reserving my tickets. As it is, The Rite seems like it'll be half decent, if outlandishly ridiculous. If I'm not paying for the ticket, then I might give it a shot. Probably not, though.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Source Code" and "Hanna" Posters

I know today has been all about the Oscar nominations, and that's all anybody can talk about. I'm holding off my next analysis of the Best Picture race until Friday, just so we can take some time to let it sink in. In the meantime, lets head back into what films will be releasing this year, and hope to god they are actually good films. Source Code has the same tagline as 127 Hours, and I don't even know what to make of Hanna yet. Fingers crossed!



Oscar 2010: Nomination Reactions, Surprises, and Snubs

The dust hasn't really settled, and I'll say it'll be up in the air for a few days since these nominations were announced. We knew there were going to be a few surprises, but we hadn't the foggiest idea what they were. Now we do, so lets start at the bottom with my reactions and work our way up. The short film categories don't grab much attention, and they never have. We'll have to seek them out in order know more, but I'm glad Day and Night snagged a nod. I never saw what people didn't like about that one. TRON Legacy was snubbed for Visual Effects, most likely due to that distracting Jeff Bridges doppelganger, so that left a place open for a film to sneak in. Unfortunately, it wasn't Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as I predicted, but Hereafter for that one tsunami scene. I'm alright, if alright means despondent.

I hadn't an idea at all of what would be nominated for Best Sound Editing and Mixing, so I all the surprises are a bit negated by that. Salt and Unstoppable making it in was mildly surprising, but even more shocking was that Black Swan was snubbed for both. I thought it had some heat going in those categories, but it seems I was wrong. A few of my friends will be disappointed that Burlesque went home with absolutely no nominations, specifically in the Original Song category. I'm glad Toy Story 3 and Tangled made it in for "We Belong Together" and "I See The Light", respectively. Only four nominations is also a bit surprising, without a doubt.

No doubles for Desplat for Original Score, but he did get in for The King's Speech, so count that for what it is. Only real surprise in that race is that A.R. Rahman made it in for 127 Hours, a score which I wasn't really too taken with. My first big victory lap is in the Makeup category where, even though The Wolfman was horribly nominated, Alice in Wonderland was snubbed and The Way Back and Barney's Version made it in! You cannot believe how happy that makes me. I would be so much happier if it weren't for the next news, which is the first blow against Christopher Nolan's most recent success. Inception was snubbed for Film Editing! This was the first sign that this wasn't going to be Nolan's year. Perhaps they're pushing him to do better with The Dark Knight Rises. I can't know for sure.

Oscar 2010: 83rd Annual Academy Award Nominations

Here we are, right up in the morning for the hectic awesomeness of the Academy Award nominations, and they didn't skimp on more than a few surprises. I'll comment on those later on this morning, but for now, here are the nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards!

BEST PICTURE
"Black Swan"
"The Fighter"
"Inception"
"The Kids Are All Right"
"The King's Speech"
"127 Hours"
"The Social Network"
"Toy Story 3"
"True Grit"
"Winter's Bone"

BEST DIRECTOR
Darren Aronofsky ("Black Swan")
David O. Russell ("The Fighter")
Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech")
David Fincher ("The Social Network")
Joel & Ethan Coen ("True Grit")

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

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oscar 2010: Final Oscar Predictions (Part 3: Films, Writers, and Directors)

The nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards are announced early tomorrow morning, and seeing as I don't have to be up early tomorrow morning, expect me to report on those around noon. There's bound to be more than a few surprises, omissions, and upsets, but I can't say I'm really planning for those. I'm predicting what I think has the greatest chance at being nominated, so it's probably easiest to start at the top, because the nominations are pretty much locked in for Best Picture. Black Swan, Inception, The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, and True Grit are all sturdy bets in terms of nominations. It's that tenth spot you have to worry about, and anything other than The Town or Winter's Bone would be a surprise. I'm betting on the latter, leaving Ben Affleck out in the cold.

The easiest category to predict is animated feature, seeing as there will only be three nominees.
Toy Story 3 will make it in without a doubt, and How to Train Your Dragon still has some heat going towards a nomination. That leaves the final slot up to The Illusionist and Tangled, and I'd expect Sylvain Chomet's silent traditionally animated film to make the cut. Tangled seems just a bit too modern and new age for the Academy, and I expect them to go for something a bit more authentic. I'd really like for Megamind to be nominated, but the horrible choice of songs in the film kind of alienates those chances. As for Foreign Language Film, do you honestly expect me to make an informed decision on this one? I haven't seen any of these films, so that's truly impossible. Therefore, I'm just going to make a wild guess and say that Incendies, In A Better World, Dogtooth, Biutiful and Life, Above All will be nominated. It's going to be really funny if those all end up being nominated.

The documentary race is especially competitive this year, and yet I still haven't seen most of the films that have been shortlisted. It's pretty straightforward that Waiting for "Superman" and Inside Job will make it in, although I realize that any prediction I make in this case will be slightly off. I'm going to take a guess that the Academy reacted to Exit Through the Gift Shop the same way I did. I hardly believe it to be close to the best film of the year, despite how true it may be, so I'm going to say that Gasland, Restrepo, and The Tillman Story fill out my list. I'm keeping Waste Land in the back of my mind as an alternate, but I'm not counting on it.

The race for Best Director is a little more clear cut, because it wa
s obvious this year which films had a powerful vision. Technically speaking, Tom Hooper shouldn't even be nominated for this, because he barely had any presence in The King's Speech. The ones that should be locks are David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky, Danny Boyle, and Christopher Nolan. David O' Russell could be an alternate, but everything in The Fighter lacks that uniqueness that is required to make it in this category. I'm pulling for Aronofsky to come out on top with the win for Black Swan, but there's quite some unlikelihood of that actually happening. The last two races are for the screenplay categories, and though that seems like a less climactic end than Best Picture, this year's nominations for that category aren't all that climactic.

In the Original Screenplay race, the two films fighting for the win are Inception and The King's Speech, so they are both reasonable locks. Black Swan may have less to go with in terms of dialogue, but the ideas presented in the screenplay are spectacular enough to merit a nod. The Kids Are All Right should make it in for the authentic and fun dialogue, as well as the sprightly and unconventional narrative. I'd like to say that Another Year should fill out this category, but that film has been disappearing at an alarming rate. The next film after that would be The Fighter, so I'm sticking to my guns in hope that Mike Leigh's British drama makes the cut. As for Adapted Screenplay, it's pretty impossible for any other film to beat out Aaron Sorkin's flawless screenplay for The Social Network, but those slots nonetheless need to be filled. Toy Story 3, True Grit, and Winter's Bone are all practically locks for the category, which leaves that much maligned fifth slot. Even though most expect 127 Hours to come through with that nomination, I expect Rabbit Hole to surprisingly end up making the cut, or at least I'm hoping it does. We'll just have to wait until tomorrow to see if I'm right.

For Your Anticipation: What Are You?

The film that you should completely and absolutely avoid this week is from Prada to nada, and the reasons should be obvious. I don't know anybody in the cast list, and I don't know the director. I haven't seen the trailer, and I've only seen ten seconds of the clip below. All I can tell is from the title, and I can probably see exactly where it's going from there. The day I see this film is the day that I shoot myself in the face and survive, which would be a bit awkward because then I'd be walking around with a hole in my head. I'd have to start wearing some stupid hat.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Oscar 2010: Final Nomination Predictions (Part 2: Acting Categories)

Sorry I didn't get this to you guys yesterday, but I had a lot more on my plate than I anticipated. Nonetheless, we have plenty to discuss today in terms of the acting categories, which are often the vital organs of the Academy Awards. The technical awards can be slid over, but the acting races are so closely observed. There's bound to be more than one disappointment in the books. The Supporting Actor category is perhaps the least competitive of the bunch, because everybody knows at this point that Christian Bale is going to take the award for The Fighter. It's almost unnecessary to have anyone else be nominated, and yet those slots still have to be filled.

Geoffrey Rush was the original frontrunner in the category for his work in The King's Speech, but once Bale entered the ring, there was little hope for Rush taking the win, but he should still get a nod. Mark Ruffalo was never anything more than a contender looking for a nomination for his work in The Kids Are All Right, and by that standard he should get it. This is where things get really tricky. Jeremy Renner entered the game later in the year for his work in The Town, and that's really the only outstanding aspect of that film, so he deserves a nod. That leaves only one major slot to fill, and in most ways it's the major battle between Andrew Garfield's work in The Social Network and John Hawkes' bravura performance in Winter's Bone. Personally, I'd go for John Hawkes to win the category in a second, but that's not going to happen. I shudder at the idea of him not taking a nomination at all. As much as I love Garfield's sentimental and appealing work as Eduardo Saverin, he's just outside the arena in this case.

One of the less predictable races, Supporting Actress, the entire race and its outcome depends on who is nominated. Amy Adams and Helena Bonham Carter are pretty solid bets to get nominations for The Fighter and The King's Speech respectively. Melissa Leo is in a major fight to win the award, but could so easily be thwarted by Hailee Steinfeld. It all depends on whether Steinfeld will be nominated in the lead or supporting race for True Grit, because that's still up for debate. If nominated in the supporting race, Leo has some major competition to go up against, a sad statement for such an esteemed actress. If nominated for lead, Leo should take the win, and Steinfeld walks away with some sort of consolation prize for her effort. As for who will round out the category, it's between Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom and Mila Kunis for Black Swan. I'd prefer the latter, and that's who I'm going to bet on. Of course, if Steinfeld makes the cut for lead, they could both make it in.

Box Office Update: Where's Our "Way Back"?

I didn't end up seeing No Strings Attached this weekend, much to my dismay and disappointment. It still managed to do well enough this weekend, raking in reasonable total for a film sporting a man who I hate. The foursome of major Oscar contenders, The King's Speech, Black Swan, True Grit, and The Fighter, brought in a grand total of $28 million altogether, and that shouldn't drop much after the Oscar nominations are announced on Tuesday, which I'm very excited about. I have no idea how and Little Fockers, and Yogi Bear are still raking in money, but I know they should stop right now. The box office was down about 26.6% from the same weekend last year, so we've got a lot of improvement to make. Does it eeem like anything's missing? If not, I don't necessarily blame you, because The Way Back opened on quiet buzz, and it has nobody to blame but itself for the poor box office results it took in.

1. No Strings Attached (First Weekend; $20.3 million)
2. The Green Hornet (Second Weekend; $18.1 million)
3. The Dilemma (Second Weekend; $9.7 million)
4. The King's Speech (Ninth Weekend; $9.2 million)
5. True Grit (Fifth Weekend; $8 million)
6. Black Swan (Eighth Weekend; $6.2 million)
7. The Fighter (Seventh Weekend; $4.5 million)
8. Little Fockers (Fifth Weekend; $4.4 million)
9. Yogi Bear (Sixth Weekend; $4 million)
10. TRON Legacy (Sixth Weekend; $3.7 million)