Tuesday, January 31, 2012

For Your Anticipation: Come On, Lady

I know that "Dolphin Tale" wasn't really about whales, but... no, it actually is about whales. Is there any sense in "Big Miracle" being made at all? They're practically the same movie, be it with different casts who are only there to raise awareness about the plight of whales and dolphins. Except... neither of these films are about the plight of whales and dolphins. One is about a single dolphin's tail, and the other is about getting a family of whales back to see. Yeah, it's sweet, but it doesn't address the real problems. No, that would lose them their family audiences if they showed all those dolphin slaughters. They couldn't do that.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Another year goes by, and we get another slate of easy throwaways for the squandered makeup category. At this point, I don't really know what they're qualifying as strong makeup, or if they even have any knowledge towards such. I can get this out of the way in one paragraph. Somebody explain to me where the skill is in the useless and purposeless plastering on "The Iron Lady" or "Albert Nobbs". The former will win, almost certainly, but with no real reason for such. "Harry Potter" is there just as a little bit of merit for their series finale. It could win, as having the strongest work there, but it's too hard to care in a category with this little real skill.

Will Win: "The Iron Lady"
Should Win: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
Should Really Win: "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"

Films to See in 2012: February

How did we get slammed with practically nothing for two months in a row? I mean, I'm sure that the media glut is going to be happy with the films coming out in February, and those of us who ask for something more will probably be busy indulging in the films heading for Oscar. Myself, I'm very easily bored and I kind of expected that the world would finally be able to keep me entertained. Not so. Second month in a row where I can't satisfy you with three films I'd suggest. First weekend, you get a movie about whales, as if we didn't have enough of those already. I was fine after "The Cove", which actually meant something. "Big Miracle" does not, beyond the inexplicable drive for audiences to see a movie about nature.

There's also the mockumentary superhero film, "Chronicle", which is just another mark crossed off on the we-haven't-done-a-found-footage-film-about-this list. Cap it off with "The Woman in Black", which is only mildly relevant as it's Daniel Radcliffe's first role outside "Harry Potter". Let's see how quickly he fades. Heading into the following week, we have the action-nothing "Safe House", the pointless romance "The Vow", 3D jizz-fest "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island", and the 3D re-release of "The Phantom Menace". Is anybody else already deeply pissed off that we're given a trilogy of some of the worst films ever made before we get to the original trilogy?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

OSCAR 2011 PREDICTIONS: Visual Effects

In spite of everyone's deep angers usually incurred by the Oscar nominations, mostly involving films that we didn't want to see and now must out of obligation, things still operate in a forward motion as we hurtle towards the eventually depressing ceremony. And what safer way to head into the predictions than with visual effects, which seems set predictably in stone months in advance. The fact that "The Tree of Life" isn't here clears up competition to a predictable fit for what it always has been. What are the flashiest, showiest, and most obnoxiously sparkly films in play? They don't really care about technique so much until they really have to make a decision.

The inclusion of "Hugo" just seems to be riding on a wave of buzz for it to clean up house entirely. I have considerable doubts about it, but it could very well take this and many others if it proves to be an inexplicable sweep. "Real Steel" is only here for flash points, and it does have some admittedly stylish moments, but they are amongst a great deal of nonsense going on. Even though the film would be nothing without it, it doesn't feel like they really fuel the film. It would go on without them, though not nearly as convincingly. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" is a mixed bag, as there are times when it is kind of pretty, but the rest of the time it just looks utterly stale and lifeless. It's not a manifestation of magic so much and computer engineering, and you can feel that.

For Your Anticipation: Tip the Numbers

Isn't it just typical of us at this point to discount the action film that Liam Neeson stars in around this time of year? Is there a chance that "The Grey" is actually a good time? Well, yes. Though I would never in a million years call "Taken" or "Unknown" good movies, I'm not going to deny that they were pretty damn good times. And in fact "The Grey" seems to have some kind of atmosphere to it. Maybe not, but I think this stands a chance of actually working, but only a mild one.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

OSCAR 2011: If I Chose the Nominees

I've been fuming ever since the Oscar Nominations were announced just yesterday. I think we all have been, as we knew we'd be disappointed, but we had no idea exactly how disappointed we eventually would be. That's been the tone of the entire season, with very few things truly certain about the eventual endgame of the Oscars, the ceremony included. It is currently looking to be a dull and absolutely unmotivating affair, so why care? The films we loved all still exist, so why not celebrate them as they still lay. I had arrayed this list as my dream ballot for release before the nominations announcement, but it is just as appropriate now as it was then. So here are my nominations for 2011.

  • "Certified Copy"
  • "Drive"
  • "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
  • "Meek's Cutoff"
  • "A Separation"
  • "Shame"
  • "Sleeping Beauty"
  • "Tomboy"
  • "Weekend"
  • "We Need to Talk About Kevin" 
    Second Tier: "The Artist", "Cold Weather", "Melancholia", "Midnight in Paris", "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol", "The Muppets", "Rango","Senna", "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", "Tyrannosaur"

    Further Thoughts: I dispatched with the Foreign Language Film and Animated Feature races for two reasons. One is that there aren't enough good toons out there this past year to warrant the latter, and secondly because there are three films that could be deemed Foreign Language in my Best Picture list. There is no way in hell any of my ten were going to be reciprocated by the Academy. "Martha Marcy May Marlene", "Meek's Cutoff", "Sleeping Beauty", and "Weekend" all skew too low key. "Shame", "Drive", and "We Need to Talk About Kevin" are all too hard edge for them. They'll constantly make excuses for why they don't belong, but none of them really hold up.

    For Your Anticipation: Jumpers Jump

    I don't have the capacity to care about anything, I've deducted. I don't care enough to dig for a clip from "One for the Money", the aptly named comedy from Katherine Heigl. So now we get to this, "Man on a Ledge", with a title that couldn't be less imaginative, and speaks of the function of the film itself. The fact that he's on a ledge doesn't add tension to the situation. The only purpose of it is as a publicity stunt for some kind of heist situation, for some reason. I don't really care, though. I am willing to align my attention for something that might at least be fun. This isn't that.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    OSCAR 2011: My Reaction to the Academy Nods

    Consider this your epic good-news-bad-news session, because a lot of people are salting their wounds with small nuggets of good tidings in this morning's Oscar nominations. We'll start from the bottom and work our way up to a crescendo of violence and anger, as per usual. As far as the shorts categories go, the only thing worth mentioning is that "La Luna", Pixar's latest short and sole nomination this year. It's nice to see that they haven't completely lost touch with their heart. However, I have no idea what got into the Doc branch's heads. I haven't even heard of most of them, and while I heard good things about "Pina", what dingus' gave the pass to "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory"?

    The Animated Feature nods embellished what I wouldn't have much of a problem catching up with, like films such as "Chico and Rita" and "A Cat in Paris". "The Adventures of Tintin" was the biggest surprise omission, as the Academy clearly doesn't consider it animation, nor should they. And I'd just like to give them a hand for not nominating "Cars 2". They could have gone wrong a great deal there, but they steered clear of that bullet. Unfortunately they also took a detour straight into a bomb. Nothing greater to report beyond "A Separation" in Foreign Language, as most worth mentioning were already discounted last week with the shortlist of nine.

    AWARDS 2011: "Hugo" Leads the Oscar Nods

    Well, that could have gone a great deal better, couldn't it. I'm not happy about the Oscar nominations, but I'll save the endless rant till much later today. There's much work be done here. Until then, grind out your own grievances against this slate of nods while I go off in the corner and cry for an hour.

    Best Picture
    "The Artist"
    "The Descendants"
    "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
    "The Help"
    "Midnight in Paris"
    "The Tree of Life"
    "War Horse"

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    For Your Anticipation: Look at the Chocolates

    How do you determine what films looks the worst? Think of everything you like about a movie, and find the film that has absolutely none of that. I can confidently say that "Albert Nobbs" has absolutely nothing that I find good in a film. An unbelievable hack at the as-it-stands unbelievable premise, though one which was done to much greater skill with "Tomboy". Bland and old style British setting, with absolutely no flair or sense of wonder. Gross sentimentality, and all this along with the fact that you would never believe for a second that Glenn Close is a man. I simply could not be desiring this less, and I'm very glad decided against seeing it back at Telluride by the Sea.

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    AWARDS 2011: "Artist" & "Tintin" Share PGA Glory

    I can't say I'm truly excited for this awards season, or at least not yet. I don't have a single thing against "The Artist", but I don't feel nearly as much enthusiasm as I have in previous years. I suppose "The King's Speech" effectively snuffed that out when it pulled a dreaded sweep of the Guild and Academy Awards. Still, it's nice to see that I'm not in complete hatred of the film that's leading surge for the 2011-2012 awards season. It's less nice to see "The Adventures of Tintin" take the Animated honors away from films that are actually animated, such as the anyways superior "Rango". Nothing much enthusiastic, but what can you expect of a year like 2011?

    Producer of the Year in Theatrical Motion Pictures: "The Artist"
    Producer of the Year in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures: "The Adventures of Tintin"
    Producer of the Year in Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures: "Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest"

    Box Office Update: Surge from the "Underworld"

    This was a weekend of massive drops that somehow managed to keep up with the pace last weekend had set. The returning films undertook massive drops, as to be expected after a holiday weekend. The greater wealth was spread amongst the films on the opening slate. "Underworld: Awakening" was quite obviously the strongest debut, benefiting from the critics being away at Sundance, and therefore not coming in on a wave of hate. Same can be said for "Red Tails" as well, which did not fare well with critics, but did solidly with audiences. "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"s expansion yielded some small gains, but if the film fades out of mind by next week, don't be surprised. It could turn out to get a surprise heap of Oscar nods that push it to greater success, but don't count on it.

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    My Humblest Apologies

    Obviously settling back into a new environment takes its toll, and as somebody who doesn't have the added and necessary stress of calling this an actual job, it's difficult to keep up. This week certainly did nothing in the way of motivating me. Three films that are more or less throwaway efforts, and a bit of mild trepidation about the incoming Oscar heat to come with Tuesday's nominations. I suppose I've been sorting other things out so I can work hard enough for the incoming rush of speculation and awards coverage. Apologies for the extreme lack of activity recently. Things will get right back to the normal pace around here come tomorrow. At times it seems like I'm apologizing more often than I am writing about film here.

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    For Your Anticipation: Thank You

    Steven Soderbergh is one of those directors who has nothing really brilliant to give anymore. He is more or less going through the motions at this point, pushing out films at a clip that doesn't allow for deep study. That's not necessarily a bad thing. The man has a very noticeable style about how he does things, but you would think that that would go towards something more. "Haywire" isn't going to last in memory beyond March, but I don't deny my interest in it as nothing more than a solid action piece, but why all the stars. Michael Fassbender seems to have more important things to do with his time then... you know... die.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    AWARDS 2011: BAFTA Nods

    Sorry for the holdup, but I've been busy attending to other things. I know I say that a lot, but the day of the SOPA/PIPA internet protest is different. It's odd for them to be considering a piece of legislation that is so vague in its description. But enough of the heat of the moment. I am rather happy about the nominations for the BAFTA awards, though they are exactly what we expected. Probably the only thing that saddens me is that Olivia Colman is not nominated for Best Actress. Overall, I have few qualms with the nods.

    Best Film
    • "The Artist"
    • "The Descendants"
    • "Drive"
    • "The Help"
    • "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
    Best British Film
    • "My Week With Marilyn"
    • "Senna"
    • "Shame"
    • "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
    • "We Need to Talk About Kevin"

    For Your Anticipation: Take Us Somewhere Safe

    I know that there is no reason to believe in anything involving "Underworld: Awakening", but I was forcibly raised on this series. I hated every second of it that my dad made me and my brother watch, but it's more of a traditional awful film series. It's a terrible film series that has almost a cult standing for most people. They don't believe in quality, and they don't even laugh at it's poor taste. It just is.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Box Office Update: People Remembered About "Contraband"?

    Well it doesn't quite look like "Beauty and the Beast 3D" put up the same numbers as "The Lion King 3D" did back in September. To its credit, the 3D Bluray for for "Beauty and the Beast" was already out, while "The Lion King" still had a few weeks to go. That's probably what stunted the income of it a bit, but it still managed to bring in quite a tasty sum. In number one, quite unexpectedly, was "Contraband". It's interesting, because I didn't think a lot of people really knew what "Contraband" was, but apparently they did. I suppose that's what happens when the dumb trailer plays at every single screening you go to. I wouldn't say to expect it to hold well in the future. You know how these things go. They're big on opening, and then they just evaporate.

    "Joyful Noise" seemed to evaporate before it was even released, though now that it's out I can easily imagine family audiences returning to it for weeks to come. I hope not, but that's the way it's likely to occur. "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" continue to surge towards their benchmarks of $200 million and $100 million, respectively. As a matter of fact, they should reach that point by this time next week. "Sherlock Holmes" may even take $200 million, if just barely. Overall, this weekend was about exactly in line with the same weekend last year, when "The Green Hornet" was the massive debut of the weekend.

    1. "Contraband" (First Weekend; $28.8 million)
    2. "Beauty and the Beast 3D" (First Weekend; $23.5 million)
    3. "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (Fifth Weekend; $14.2 million)
    4. "Joyful Noise" (First Weekend; $13.8 million)
    5. "Sherlock Holmes" (Fifth Weekend; $10.5 million)
    6. "The Devil Inside" (Second Weekend: $9.2 million)
    7. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (Fourth Weekend; $8.1 million)
    8. "Alvin and the Chipmunks 3" (Fifth Weekend; $7.8 million)
    9. "War Horse" (Fourth Weekend; $7.2 million)
    10. "We Bought A Zoo" (Fourth Weekend; $6.8 million)

    For Your Anticipation: From the Front

    Hard choice to say exactly which film this week I'm least anticipating, but I have to go with "Red Tails", which looks like all sorts of distracting and annoying. Fun Fact: Director Anthony Hemingway directed an episode of this season of "Fringe", so it really disappoints me that he's not as reserved in everything he does. This looks typical, annoying, and... I don't want to talk about it, really.

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    "Fringe" Review: "Back to Where You've Never Been" (***1/2)

    That is a rather fantastic title for an episode that is quintessentially about trust. Peter has realized that there's no chance of Walter helping him out on this side, so he asks for Olivia and Lincoln to help him cross to the alternate universe. Why can't he use the bridge? Because Broyles doesn't trust Peter enough. Why doesn't Walter's portal device rip apart the universes like it did 28 years ago? Because the link between the universes seems to have halted the degradation and diminished the impact of holes in the universes. The writers aren't stepping around these plot points, but accommodating them for a much more exciting story.

    With a layer of distrust still existing between the two sides, the only thing to do is to step around each other deceptively. Of course that doesn't work out, and Lincoln and Peter are caught rather quickly, and their story would be stopped right if there wasn't a shapeshifter driving their transport. Of course we don't see that he's a shapeshifter, but at this point it's assumed. The two split, Lincoln is apprehended by Alt-Lincoln and Bolivia, and Peter heads off to ask his mother for help, as you do. But this show has never been about the events, but about the specificities of the exchanges between characters. You wonder how the two Lincolns can exist in the same scene together believably, and against all odds they do, and quite hilariously as it turns out. Peanut Butter & Jam.

    "Descendants" and Michelle Williams Rock the Golden Globes!

    Apologies for massively dropping the ball on the Critics Choice Movie Awards, but I honestly got to a point of not caring in the slightest. The Golden Globes are different. I don't at all care who wins, but I do care about the glamorous dresses, and above all else, Ricky Gervais as host. Worst part of the proceedings? The fact that he was given so little time. Were they just too cared to let him off the leash? You could see clearly that they were concerned about him this time. Still, he managed to make me break down in tears of hilarity in the little time that he did have. And besides that, there were plenty of little moments that managed to make the show worth it.

    Like what? Well, for one thing there was the brilliant stream of hilariously hateful tweets when Madonna won Best Original Song ("You're right, Madonna...you have NO excuse. @JustinJagoe"). There's the sweet gesture by George Clooney to hand Meryl Streep's glasses up to the front, which was confronted by a reluctant David Fincher. Seth Rogen's nicely sneaked in jab at the fact that "My Week with Marilyn" is totally not a comedy, and without passing judgment either. Myself, I was overcome with joy at two unexpected moments. 1) When Michelle Williams won, regardless of the fact that she didn't deserve to win for that performance. 2) When Claire Danes won for "Homeland", as I just absolutely love her and want to see whatever else she has to offer.

    Saturday, January 14, 2012

    My 2011 Top 20 in Posters

    I gave a kind of allusion to the year's great poster work in my "Nitrate Awards" post, but then I saw one of my friends post this fantastic writeup, and it got me to think about which posters I'd most go for. And then I left that notion behind and got to thinking about my own top 20 and how their posters really live up, if they do at all. If found that some of them were positive, and others were just very sad and typical. So what is not worth posting something for you guys? Here are my top 20 films of 2011, but with their posters.

    20. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

    I opted for this one instead of the one with Rooney Mara's tits, though they were very much appreciated in the film. This poster seems to know what the film is better than the opening titles do, and though it doesn't hold a candle to the impact, it does remind one of the film's own merits, of which there are plenty to partake in on revisiting. I will however mention the fact that part of the concept is taken from the poster for "Jane Eyre", though it's not much of a distraction. Also, it's a lot more transparently interesting than the poster for the Swedish version

    Friday, January 13, 2012

    Weekend Report: Tale as Old as Yesterday

    It's kind of odd to have absolutely no horror films coming out on Friday the 13th, unless you count the few theaters "We Need to Talk About Kevin" is hitting up. Instead we have a fairly simple array of typicality, from action to faux-inspirational, but the film that's really going to make a hit this weekend is "Beauty and the Beast 3D". Disney made a massive mint on "The Lion King 3D", and they're in place to do it again with a similar margin of success. Keep in mind, this one does have a touch less adoration going its way than the last one, but the amount of people I've spoken to who plan to see it this weekend give me just as much reason to believe it'll be the top hit this weekend.

    And then you have the side players, which are going to make their own share from their respective demographics. Mark Wahlberg is a steady enough draw for action-oriented viewers, and I wouldn't doubt "Contraband" hauling close to $20 million these next three days. "Joyful Noise" too, which consistently irritates me whenever the trailer plays in front of something I'm seeing, is still going to get its share of people looking for a good time with the family. No way in hell I'm suggesting it, and if there's a film that's liable to not meet expectations, I'd bet on this one.

    "Fringe" Preview: Against the Flow

    This season of "Fringe" has been odd kind of animal, and I think a great deal of the confrontation to it has been out of simple misunderstanding. The first seven episodes of this season have been of a slower and contemplative pace, much like Season 1. That is mostly because we are establishing a new set of characters, and also a new universe. The writers have made a gamble to tell a season long story about this fixed group of people, using Peter as the conduit for such, and the story that will take up the remainder of this season really kicks off tonight. But there is one question that holds my interest for future season(s) of the show, if there is even one. If Peter is here, what is going on back where HE is from?

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    For Your Anticipation: I Am the Context

    I'm not entirely sure if I posted something back in its initial run in December, but "We Need to Talk About Kevin" is being "officially released" this weekend, whatever that means. I'm not entirely sure why they couldn't have officially released it back in December, but I'll quell my own frustration. You're no doubt aware by now of my deep love for Lynne Ramsay's domestic-horror flick that paints the crevices of Tilda Swinton's tormented mother as she deals with guilt, fear, and frigid loneliness as a by-product of her son. If there is a "Black Swan" of 2011, I'd be willing to make a case for this film. It made me feel very much similar to the way Aronofsky's film haunted me last year.

    "Moonrise Kingdom" Trailer

    It's becoming rather difficult not to look at these trailers for films that I'm interested in just enough to want to know if I should be interested in it. Wes Anderson's latest is enough reason to align one's interest, though I admit that the fullest extent of my knowledge of his work is "Fantastic Mr. Fox", and I'll probably change that in the weeks leading up to "Moonrise Kingdom". Anyway, comment below on your thoughts of the trailer. Is this something I should keep on my radar?


    Wednesday, January 11, 2012


    I'm not sure what's going on with the "Prometheus" trailer, but this is pretty cool, and makes me wonder what's going on with that Ridley Scott film.

    2012 Nitrate Awards

    Consider this my personal superlatives list, but I need to nail the coffin on 2011 beyond any reasonable doubt before moving on to the task at hand of Oscar coverage. It's been a long first week of this year, and that's not been hastened by any piece of news. I don't quite feel the progression of this year yet, but that may be what happens when a film like "The Devil Inside" premieres at the start of the year. So I have no hesitation in going back to more pleasant times as the end of last year.

    BEST PICTURE: "Meek's Cutoff"

    BEST DIRECTOR: Nicolas Winding Refn ("Drive")
    Further Thoughts: I think there's little debating the directorial power that Refn had over this vehicle, having been given the keys to the kingdom by Ryan Gosling. This could have easily turned out any number of ways, and if it weren't for Nicolas Winding Refn at the lead, it wouldn't have become the beautiful, creative, shocking being it is now. You can't chock that up to any other director this year.

    BEST ACTOR: Tom Cullen & Chris New ("Weekend")
    Further Thoughts: Even if some miracle were to occur that put both these actors in this Oscar category this year, it'd be damn near impossible for either of them to win, because it's impossible to choose between either one of them. Both display copious amounts pent up vigor and expressiveness, despite being as new to the circuit as they are, and I couldn't hand that to any one actor in this category. The only one that comes close is Gary Oldman, who takes shotgun this time around.

    BEST ACTRESS: Juliette Binoche ("Certified Copy")
    Further Thoughts: I'm not sure what I could say for Binoche at this point. She's already won an Oscar, be it for a performance that was cuter than it was fascinating. Indeed she still has all that cuteness here, but she is working well overtime on the layers and specificities in this character as enigmatic as Ryan Gosling's similarly nameless protagonist this year. It's a role anybody would kill for, and Binoche both strives to understand and manages to have fun with it.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    My Final Plea on Behalf of "Fringe"

    I'm not going to start out this saying that you may know of my advocacy for "Fringe", as I've said it way too many times to make that assumption. You know I've been pushing for this show for some time, even if I've been rendered silent by the two month hiatus the show has been on since November. And I'm still sick of hearing people recount stories of how they gave up on the show midway through its first season. Everyone did. I did, as a matter of fact, and then I went back to it on the tail end of the first season. It got better towards the end of season 2, and throughout season 3, even if the ratings don't quite show it. If anybody's to blame for the show's dramatic downturn, it's the Fox execs who placed it on Thursdays, and then Fridays.

    I'll continue to say that people should attempt catching up with the show, starting at Season 2 (skip episodes 3, 5-7, 11-13 and then skip none at all), but I've reached the point of understanding why people won't. They'll assume it's too confusing, and it's not. It's rather simple if you follow along. It's no great mystery, and the reason I'm urging it so fervently now is because the show is most definitely and undeniably on its final stretch. Not this season, because if you've been watching, you'd never say that this is what finale seasons are made out of. It's strong, but it's only now getting to the most motivating part of its season.

    For Your Anticipation: Nothing Else To Do

    It's the first clip post of the new year, since I wasn't motivated enough to turn one out for "The Devil Inside", and I'm still not feeling it for "Joyful Noise". So why not give it to Mark Wahlberg? The man is mildly competent, and he's moderately good at playing a certain character, like the one he played in "The Fighter". Action protagonists, not so much. "Contraband" looks rather predictable, and will probably do a fair amount of business this weekend. It is not doing anything new, or purposeful for that matter, so don't expect to hear much beyond box office prospects on this one.

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    AWARDS 2011: DGA Does Directors Good

    I haven't done too well to keep up with the pace of the Guild awards, and in fact this awards season has been an uncharacteristically weak one for me. I guess I'm just not that invested in it. I rather respect all of the directors on the list of Directors Guild nominations, but two of them just don't deserve to be here. I'm not at all talking about Woody Allen or David Fincher, as both earned their stripes pretty well this year by my standards. I'm talking about Martin Scorsese and Alexander Payne, who are both rather fine directors who misfired drastically this year. Payne seemed to lose any strong and dramatic bone in his body with "The Descendants", and Scorsese's passion was diluted by a supremely lacking story in "Hugo". This is quite a strong list of directors, but they just shouldn't be here now.
    • Woody Allen ("Midnight in Paris")
    • David Fincher ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo")
    • Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist")
    • Alexander Payne ("The Descendants")
    • Martin Scorsese ("Hugo")

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    Box Office Update: "Devil" Brings in the New Year

    And cue the hordes of analysts trying to figure out the secret behind the surprise success of "The Devil Inside" this weekend. You rarely expect a new release on the first weekend of the year to bring in the business that the recent horror disaster has. Never mind the fact that it grossed more in its first weekend than any film in my top 20 of 2011, save "Rango". There was no buzz going for the film, or at least none that I saw. Is it maybe that this is the only horror film in the market that drove people to see it? Frankly, I don't care. In the one sense, it brings up the box office heading into this year. In the other, it's an abysmal film, and it's become clear very quickly that nobody here cares about filmmaking.

    In holdovers, "Mission: Impossible" continued its victory loop on the way to $200 million and its inevitable sequel pickup. "Sherlock Holmes" is still doing quite well, despite the relatively soft opening it had. It's a kind of reminder of how prosperous the January frame can be for films coming out of the holiday fray, as well as Oscar pics. "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" expanded well, hopefully making the Academy regret not paying as much attention to it before. Overall, this weekend was a strong 37.2% above the same frame last year, when "Season of the Witch" produced an equal product as "The Devil Inside", but yielded much weaker results.

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    AWARDS 2011: WGA Nominations Skew Disaffected

    The WGA has had a notorious penchant for nominating inaccurate films for screenwriting, as they cancel out so many films on strict rules. Therefore, the little interest I usually muster for awards isn't even available now. It's a slow crawl to nomination morning, when all the silliness finally fades from the world and we can start talking not-really-that-seriously.

    Best Adapted Screenplay:
    • "The Descendants"
    • "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
    • "The Help"
    • "Hugo"
    • "Moneyball"
    Best Original Screenplay:
    • "Bridesmaids"
    • "50/50"
    • "Midnight in Paris"
    • "Win Win"
    • "Young Adult"
    Best Documentary Screenplay:
    • "Better This World"
    • "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front"
    • "Nostalgia for the Light"
    • "Pina"
    • "Position Among the Stars"
    • "Senna"

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Films to See in 2012: January

    We're now straight out of 2011, and you know exactly what that means. It means we're stuck with a month of January, which is the most pathetic month of the year. People just stop trying to make good movies, and that's sad. I suppose they're making room for people to catch up with the Oscar films of this year, but for us film addicts, it's not a fun time for new releases. The first weekend of the year always provides us something in the way of awful horror thrillers, this year being in the form of "The Devil Inside". I'm worried that people might actually see it. This seems to have the exact same plot as "The Rite" from last year, except without Anthony Hopkins. I wouldn't know for sure, as I try to keep a general distance from either film.

    Is it worth noting that one of the best films coming out this month is a 3D re-release of "Beauty and the Beast"? Not the Jean Cocteau film. The Disney version that was inexplicably nominated for Best Picture. Also releasing that week is Queen Latifah's "inspirational family film", as it's described in the trailers, "Joyful Noise", or more appropriately titled "Just Noise". Add to that a Mark Wahlberg action film called "Contraband" and you might be able to expect a half decent weekend at the box office this month. And I would be prone to saying it drops off from there, but it doesn't quite.

    AWARDS 2011: PGA go for regulars, plus "Dragon Tattoo"

    The producers guild are down to their dirty deeds once more, continuing to officially endorse the films which we all know will be nominated for Best Picture. There's little straying from the course at this point. It's probably going to be a seven film race this year, and if there's three below that are probably not going to make it, they're "Bridesmaids", "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", and "The Ides of March". The rest are just cruising towards nomination day. I would like to see eight films make the cut, and who's to count out that possibility? If there's a film of the three discounted that could likely make it, it would be "Ides of March", which would be a nice capper to a decidedly dicey road it's been on.

    Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures
    • "The Artist"
    • "Bridesmaids"
    • "The Descendants"
    • "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
    • "The Help"

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    Box Office Update: "Impossible" End to the Year

    At this point, I'm just sick of the negativity surrounding the analysis of the box office. Not the box office itself, as it's doing pretty damn well. I can see the top ten of this weekend doing well in the coming month, and an obvious surge for "The Artist" is coming when the nominations eventually do come. It's wise of the Weinstein Company to hold that back just long enough for it to really bring audiences in later on. For now, the box office gold is being spread pretty evenly, since there's nothing to really hog the spotlight. I don't think that'll change in December of this year either, but it's still an honest earnings.

    "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" overtook "Sherlock Holmes" as far as total box office goes, with it likely heading to finish at or above $200 million. That seals the deal for a fifth film, after all the work this franchise has done. "Alvin and the Chipmunks" continues to do well, as we knew it would, and the same almost goes for "War Horse". I have an equal interest in seeing either of them in theaters, or ever for that matter. And in spite of some perceived-to-be-poor opening numbers for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", it bounced back properly to bring its total up to $60 million, on its way to +$100 million. I'd consider that a success for a franchise starter based on a Swedish novel. And the rest is the rest, but it's still an more than modest improvement on last weekend.

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    Dance on our Graves: Duncan's Top 20 Films of 2011

    I have said, and will continue to say for some time, I'm certain, that I was not too happy in 2011. Of course the fact that I could not make a proper list of just ten films this year seems to dispute that, and there were even some films that I felt pretty good about that nonetheless got shoved off by the time I finalized it. So why the persistent attitude? It's mostly that I had my eye set on presents that I did not get, even though what I received was more than fine. Of course when we get around to Oscar time, it's more likely than not that nobody will notice the best there is to notice. There are precious few on this list that will gain such attention.

    As per usual, the first several months of the year were as despairing as you'd expect them to be. It was a poor reminder of how little most people care about cinema, and it's a pathetic dropoff from where we left off at the end of the year. The only real comfort was the mild entertainments of films like "Source Code" and "Hanna", as well as the festival films from the previous year beginning to trickle out. And it's a just portrait of the times that when we did get to the summer, so much of what we found was as unsavory as could be predicted, for me anyway. For some reason, I just didn't get the excitement people felt behind "Super 8", "Harry Potter", and "X-Men: First Class".

    Even "The Tree of Life", a recurring figure in the top ten lists of this year, left me cold outside of the performances of Hunter McCracken and Brad Pitt. Truth is, most of the films out this year were good, but few really reached the potential that they had set for themselves, and that's a lot of where I came off ill. The year didn't really kick in until the last trimester, as it usually does. But I'm obviously not speaking of most of the Oscar heavyweights this year. Films like "The Help" and "Moneyball", while not terrible, were severely lacking in spark or spunk. I fail to see the passion invested behind "Hugo", a soulless automaton in itself. And I could so easily live without ever seeing "The Descendants" and "War Horse", though I'm inevitably doomed to sit down to them eventually.