Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Look at: Comedy Series

Entourage should simply be happy someone even still watches it. What was once a great and inventive show is now boring and unintelligent, and I don't think it has a shot in hell of winning this category.

Flight of the Conchords is quirky and weird, which may give it a nice minority of voters who enjoy shows like that. However I feel that most of the voters will look right over it for the more popular offerings.

Weeds finally made it into the final cut, and I am very happy about it. However, it took them so long to get into the category, that I feel it may not be as popular as we think.

How I Met Your Mother is a great show, and one of the few sitcoms remaining on TV. Despite the ratings, and the NPH love within the Academy, I don't think it will be enough for this first time nominee, but don't count it out.

Even when it's not acutally on TV, Family Guy tends to stir up controversy wherever it goes. Being the first animated series in over 50 years to get nominated for the top prize is a huge deal, and despite the Bill O'Reillys of the world who hate this show (personally I think he should shove it), it does have a broad popular base, and its campaign strategy has been unusual and effective. History might happen come Emmy night, just wait and see.

The Office is now considered the bridesmaid in this race. While I thought it submitted well, I still think that the power of another particular NBC show is too much for this one to handle.

This brings me to the Juggernaut of them all: 30 Rock. Despite a tough category this year, I think the popularity and favoritism for this show means the streak isn't over yet.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Whitney Houston: Early Word

So early word on I Look to You, Whitney's long-awaited return to music is getting early praise from some reputable critics.

Gail Mitchell of Billboard - speaking of Title song "a simple, inspirational ballad that comes closest to Houston's iconic 'I Will Always Love You."

Ann Powers of LA Times said - "Houston's songwriters and producers provide her with top-notch tools; she wields them cautiously and almost humbly, never falling because she never reaches too high."

While neither of them claim this to be her best album by any means, they are praisising her for sticking to her style, and by understanding her new limitations as an artist.

The question then remains, will Grammy follow? While the album won't have much time to really set into the charts and radio, it doesn't mean she won't receive a plethora of nominations. This has been a weak year for popular music, and she is a legend who they have honored in abundance before. I say she will see her named called out come nomination time, maybe even in major categories.

Whitney Houston

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Updated Predictions

With Shutter Island now moved, I have updated my predictions on the sidebar.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Look At: Guest Actor/Actress in a Comedy Series

Guest Actor – This one is a tough call considering all the nominees did a great job.

Jon Hamm and Alan Alda had respectable turns in 30 Rock, and considering the love for the show, they should not be counted out. However, I think they were not as funny, or didn’t stand out as much as the other nominees

Justin Timberlake had a brilliant turn, and a lot of great scenes, but with the exception of Bobby Cannavale, young actors have not had the best of luck in the Guest categories.

So then it comes down to two. Steve Martin probably had the most laugh out loud moments, and in my gut, I think he will win. But for now I am going with Beau Bridges. His touching and memorable performance on Desperate Housewives may not have been the funniest or the showiest performance, but it sure was good.

Guest Actress - Once again, every name on this list is considered Emmy royalty, so picking just one performance will be tricky.

Gena Rowlands and Jennifer Aniston play great characters, but I think lack the punch of some of the other performances.

Christine Baranski does a great job, but may not stand out enough.

Betty While and Elaine Stritch are legends, and have proven that age doesn’t matter when you’re talented.

However, the whole race is a completely wash because of one person: Tina Fey. Need I say more?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Updates coming soon...

So this weekend was move-in time, so I haven't posted in a while, as I have been swamped for about a week. Once I get resettled into the dorm and such, I will start posting again....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Look At: Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Tony Shaloub should just be happy he still is remembered. I’ll say it again: I forgot Monk was still on the air. Either way, I hate to say this, but you shouldn’t count him out.

Jermaine Clement shocked us all with a nomination, and so did Flight of the Conchords. Despite the surprising love for Conchords, I think that he should just be happy enough people wanted him on the short list.

Charlie Sheen is the one consistent on Two and a Half Men. No matter how the show goes, Sheen is always funny, I just wish he had a better vehicle to finally win a deserved Emmy, and unfortunately I think he’ll sit out another year.

I really wish Jim Parson would win this award, I just think that it is too soon. The Emmys tend to reward experience, so my bet is that he’ll have to wait this year, and he will soon be rewarded for his labors.

So then it comes down to two very familiar faces. Steve Carrell I think has a great shot this year, but unfortunately for him, 30 Rock is on TV. Despite year after year snubs for Carrell, I think this year, once again, goes to Alec Baldwin.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Look At: Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Sarah Silverman should just be thrilled she was nominated. I personally think it was well-deserved, but I think she'll have to wait for this one.

Mary-Louise Parker is one of the most talented actresses around, and year after year she gives an incredible performance in Weeds, and every year she submits poorly, why should this year be any different.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a legend, and always has a shot, since the Emmys tend to over-reward. However Old Christine isn't getting any funnier, let's face it, it's not Seinfeld.

Christina Applegate bubbles in every scene, but with the cancelling of Samantha Who? it is going to be hard for her to to claim a belated trophy. But she definately has a shot though, so don't count her out.

Ok, so then it comes down to two. Toni Collette does a great job in the very baity United States of Tara. However, overall I find the show kind of annoying, and I think that overall show problems could prevent her from winning, despite her personal triumph.

But the real reason she will not win can be summed up in two words: Tina Fey. Need I say more.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Look At: Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Kevin Dillon is a great actor, and it is a shame that with all of those Jeremy Piven years, he couldn’t have snuck in and one at least once. But with Entourage dipping in quality, and poor submission choice, I think we can safely rule him out.

Jon Cryer actually submitted a great episode, but since Two and a Half Men didn’t manage a Comedy Series nomination, I have this feeling that strong episode submission won’t be enough.

Jack McBrayer submitter poorly, and frankly, he should be happy he at least got a nomination. I think the 30 Rock train won’t be enough to push him over the top, plus internal competition from Tracy Morgan doesn’t help.

If Tracy Morgan had been the sole nominee from 30 Rock, I would give him a pretty good shot at winning this. But internal competition splits votes, and I think that the two listed below have been waiting for Jeremy Piven to finally stop winning, and now is their time.

Rainn Wilson’s submission is the best of the bunch. But as we know, humans are not subjective, and will look to outside factors to make their decision.

This means Neil Patrick Harris probably will take home the trophy. He’s too popular, and may not have the best submission, but has the more likeable character, and I think, will soon have an Emmy to prove it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Look at: Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Before we know it, the Emmy Awards will be presented, so it is time to take a look at each main category. Some of my predictions have changed since my initial impressions, some have not, but here is a look at the state of race at this point.

Initially, I predicted Jane Krakowski to win for 30 Rock. But that was simply a state of 30 Rock euphoria after its record-setting nomination total. Now that I have taken some time to really think about it, I feel that, no matter how funny she is, as a first time nominee, they may want to reward a veteran first.

Elizabeth Perkins is constantly good on Weeds, but also constantly submits unfunny episodes. Weeds may be a dramedy, but in order to really have a shot, it needs to exploit its funny side.

Vanessa Williams has deserved an Emmy for her performance as Wilhelmina from day one, but with the downturn in quality of Ugly Betty, and the semi-poor selection of episode submission, I feel that once again, she will sit this one out.

Kristin Wiig is consistently hilarious, but some of her characters are not the most popular, and can be seen as a little bit annoying, which could affect votes. However, I think the real issue stopping her is Amy Poehler.

Then It comes down to two; the first being Kristin Chenoweth. Her episode submission was brilliant, and this once popular show with Emmy voters may get one more chance at snagging a big award.

I think though Emmy voters will respond to the renewed critical and audience response to SNL, most of which can be traced by to the 2008 Election. I think for her last season on SNL, voters will feel sentimental and give a well-deserved Emmy to: Amy Poehler

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Oscar Contender: Invictus

All I have to say is: Clint is back. Sure he never really left, considering he directed two movies last year, but this project has so much more potential than either Changeling or Gran Torino. Just think about this, the last two movies that Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood did together, both won Best Picture.

This time Clint and Morgan return, and the story just screams Oscar. Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mandela during his first term as President of South Africa, and its hosting of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, featuring Matt Damon as one of the athletes, all in an attempt to reunite his divided country. If that doesn’t sound like pure Oscar bait, I don’t know what is.

First, they love Clint Eastwood; they are lovingly referred to as, “The Cult of Clint”. Second, they love when actors play real people, especially and Academy Award winning legend like Morgan Freeman. Add to that one of the most popular and talented actors working today, Matt Damon and you have a winning combination.

The biggest cons are, first, they might have gotten tired of Clint Eastwood, there can easily be too much of a good thing. Second, the screenplay is written by a screenwriter whose most notable work is the crappy thriller, Don’t Say a Word. The final con is the usual one, frontrunners tend to fizzle, or not live up to their expectations, and this one is going to have the bar set very high.

Overall though, I think it will get some positive Oscar contention, especially since Clint Eastwood hasn’t really made a bad film in the last couple of years. Categories for possibilities include: Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup, Costume Design, and Sound Mixing.

Top 50 Films of 1998-2008: Part 8

1. Almost Famous – This quirky, ensemble driven story of rock n’ roll in the early 1970’s captured my attention many years ago, and after watching it literally hundreds of times, I have come to the conclusion that it is truly my favorite movie of the last ten years, and one of my favorite of all time.

First off, the actors all truly bring their A-game, especially Kate Hudson and Frances McDormand. McDormand perfectly captures the overprotective, paranoid mother, whose only dreams are to see her kids happy, and more importantly, safe. Kate on the other hand, did something she had never done before (and hasn’t done since, unfortunately). She perfectly captured the part of the seemingly happy groupie (excuse me, she was a “band-aid”), who only wants to be with the man she loves, but happily and continually puts on the act of a free-spirit without a care in the world. In fact, all of the characters each bring a different, yet somehow coherent personality to the story that provides for an eclectic mix, and a unified storylines. Patrick Fugit, as the young journalist who disguises his voice to write for Rolling Stone, and go on the road with Stillwater, plays perfectly the innocent teenage whose big eyes and quiet demeanor, eagerly soak in the insanity and coolness of the world around him. Billy Crudup hits the right notes as the selfish, too-talented-for-his –own good lead guitarist who thinks he is too good for the people he is with. I also found Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s small role as Lester Bangs to be one of the best of his career (and that is saying something). Overall, everyone contributes nicely, but in my opinion, it all comes back to Kate. She reminded me so much of her mother, the way she brightened up every scene, and perfectly combined comedy and drama in a flawed and effortless effort.

Cameron Crowe should also be commended for writing this incredible story, based on his own life experiences. He perfectly captures the comedic movie, as well as combines the elements of sex, drugs, and rock into a story that never seems contrived, forced, or overused.

For me however, the true reason I love this movie is the lessons it teaches us about life. As a 19 year old college student, the true magic of this movie lies in the subtle messages about growing up. It took a 15 year old who knew nothing about the life of rock stars, to make all of the so-called adults in the story realize that they were hiding from reality, and that the only things that matter are the people that are in your life. That is something we can all learn, and more importantly, this movie was a hell of a good time.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Top 50 Films of 1998-2008: Part 7

4. Finding Nemo – As I have said before, I love animated films, and in the last ten years no animated movie did for me what Finding Nemo did. First of all, the story is adorable, tragic, action-packed, and filled with humor, family, and love. I know what you’re saying…so what, we’ve seen it all before. The difference this time around is the creative motive of which the story was displayed. Only Pixar could take such a story, combine it with the colorful, visually stunning world of ocean creatures, and make it not only work, but make it incredible. The other revelation was Ellen Degeneres. Her character Dori added most of the humor in the movie, and proved to be the perfect companion. It also made me truly appreciate the art of voice acting. This was a true wonder of a film.

3. The Dark Knight – Before this movie, there were some great comic book adaptations, but none that had the cultural, genre bending impact that The Dark Knight did. This was a truly stunning piece of art, and, I believe, the reason we will have ten Best Picture nominees this year. First off, the technicals were impeccable. Brilliant cinematography, great live effects, and crisp sound effects made it a treat for the eyes and the ears. The cast including Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, and Aaron Eckhart really pulled all the stops, and were well placed and adequately directed by the newly discovered talent that is Christopher Nolan. The real triumph here however is the late Heath Ledger. While he has one more performance in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, this pinnacle performance full of terror, insanity, madness, and brilliance will be considered his last great role, and is a wonderful memorial for his incredible life and career.

2. Saving Private Ryan – The best war movie ever…period. I know some will argue the merits, and put Patton and Apocalypse Now ahead of it, but for me, no war movie in history has captured the reality and authenticity of the Normandy invasion, or the whole war for that matter. Boasted by strong performances, led by the always incredible Tom Hanks, in this almost all male cast, is only a small part of why this movie was so successful. The true triumph here revolves around two main aspects: gritty and authentic effects/camera work and of course, Steven Spieldberg. With a dark frame of filming, and the choppy, gritty camera work really capture the mood and time period perfectly. Then of course there is Steven Spieldberg. His incredible historical accuracy and enthusiasm for this project gave him a very deserved Directing Oscar, and made us wondering how any movie, especially Shakespeare In Love, could have won Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan.

Review: Julie & Julia

I came into the Julie & Julia experience expecting a super-light fare, which had too much butter, and wouldn’t stick with me once I left the theater. To my surprise, it did leave me with an impression, and a good one at that. On a personal level, I found this to be one of the funniest movies I have seen in a while, which consisted of great performances, edible comedy, and surprising drama that made a great story for all of us to enjoy.

The real triumph of course was the impeccable Meryl Streep. Her towering, over-the-top performance, not only steals the show, but perfectly captures the brightness, and hidden depth of the great Julia Child. Also, the casting director deserves an A+ for casting the great Stanley Tucci right beside her. Their chemistry in The Devil Wears Prada was uncanny, and really shines through.

Now for the other half. I personally love Amy Adams, and I think that she did a great job with the script that was given her. But that seemed to be the big problem. The story itself couldn’t decide the direction to take her character. Sometimes they made her narcissistic, almost bitchy, and the next minute, she’s the lovable loser having a meltdown. Now, I do believe we all have mood swings, but sometimes they felt forced, and not as coherent with the story.

Overall though, all of the actors did a great job, and played the characters with ease and a lot of heart, and Nora Ephron did an adequate job of connecting the two stories without it being choppy or too long, and the funny, likeable story teaches us life lessons without being too cheesy or forcing it down our throats like so many films do nowadays.

A Side Note: Jane Lynch as Julia’s sister was a great cameo spot, she’s so funny, and never gets the credit she deserves

Oscar Potential: Best Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), Adapted Screenplay (Nora Ephron), and maybe if the race is weak Best Actress (Amy Adams). I do believe though it could easily get a Best Picture nod at the Globes, as well as both women getting nominations.

Grade: B+

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Top 50 Films of 1998-2008: Part 6

7. The Simpson’s Movie – Being the greatest animated television series’ of all time (one of the greatest…period) means that making a movie version, has a lot of high standards to live up to; and boy did it do that. It felt like an extended version of a brilliant episode, and there is nothing wrong with that. The reason The Simpsons has been so popular for years, and why it is not going away anytime soon is three fold: the slap-stick comedy, the political and social undercurrents, and of course, the crazy and beloved characters. The reason the movie worked so well is because it combined and enhance these features, and made us wanting even more. The true tragedy is that Oscar completely missed the boat, and failed to nominate it for Best Animated Feature. If there was ever a chance for Pixar to lose, that would have been it.

6. A History of Violence – This dark, little movie was truly missed in the Best Picture race, and was one of the best movies of this decade. This film was pure thrill and excitement, and kept you on the edge of your seat, all the way till the climatic end, which simply took your breath away. David Cronenberg is a genre masterpiece, and this was the movie that brought him into the spotlight. Another aspect that really worked was the incredible and frightening story which was well written and superbly executed by the superbly talented cast consisting of Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, Maria Bello, and William Hurt. But the real triumph here is Cronenberg. His non-stop, gritty, and suspenseful directing style made all of those pieces really fit together into a shocking, and incredible movie.

5. Crash – I know people are still perturbed that this movie upset Brokeback Mountain, but I personally loved it, no matter what everyone else says. I think the reason I liked it so much, is because I feel that movies that can adequately pull off so many conflicting and interacting storylines with grace, ebb, flow, and consistent excellence deserve lots recognition (maybe this is why I love Robert Altman movies). To me Crash did all of those things and more. Not only was it a great ensemble feat, but within that contained a suspenseful, socially conscience, and entertaining drama, affably put together by the talented Paul Haggis. Before I end this, I think it is once again worthy of mentioning some of the incredible SAG-award-winning cast including: Don Cheadle, Jennifer Esposito, Sandra Bullock, Terrence Howard, Ludacris, Matt Dillon, Loretta Devine, Brendan Fraser, Thandie Newton, and Ryan Philippe. This was one hell of a cast and movie.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

More Meryl Streep with...It's Complicated

The new Nancy Meyer movie not only finally has a name, but it has a trailer to follow. The link is posted below.

I personally think this looks great. If the Academy is still looking for a great comedy to fill out ten, this Christmas Day opener could be the one that does the trick. Looking very similar to Something's Gotta Give, is not bad thing, as it means it will take a used story, put a decent script behind it and stuff it with some of the best actors working today. I forsee yet another two-nomination year at the Globes for Meryl Streep, and a Comedy/Musical Best Picture nomination in its future. We'll have to see if Oscar follows in suite.

Julie & Julia Reviews

So the word is in, and it's looking pretty good for Nora Ephron's new comedy Julie & Julia. As of right now it has a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes (80% for Top Critics), 65 on Metacritic, and an 88/Critic's Choice Honor from the Broadcast Film Critics Association. While these aren't stellar reviews, they are better than last week's comedic venture Funny People. The biggest news in Meryl Streep. While its no suprise, it seems the big reason this movie works is because of her tour-de-France turn as the legendary Julia Childs.

As for Oscar potential, I hate to say the only possibility I see is a nomination for Streep, as Adams seems to be getting less than stellar reviews. As for Golden Globes, a Best Picture possibility is a definite.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Top 50 Films of 1998-2008: Part 5

10. Fight Club – Before David Fincher became an Oscar nominated director, he created one of the most taught, dark, dry, and twisted movies of all time, with the underground hit, Fight Club. While it managed one measly Oscar nomination, it has slowly, over time, worked its way into the hearts of millions and has reached the heights of movie greatness. There are two elements here that truly make this work. The first is the incredible cast. Edward Norton and Brad Pitt play perfectly off of each other as great complements to one crazy person. Then you add in the ever growing talent that is Helen Bonham Carter. Her hilarious and dry portrayal of Marla really gave us a nice break from the insanity of the two main characters (or the one main, depending on how you look at it). The second and most important element is the incredible, choppy, and gritty direction brought on by the underappreciated David Fincher. Combined, these elements created the perfect guy movie, and one that will forever live in movie infamy.

9. Dreamgirls – I know there was a lot of conflict over the greatness of the movie musical Dreamgirls, but on a personal note I thought it was completely robbed of a deserved Best Picture nomination. For me, this did more than most musicals, most of which I find long, loud, and consisting of way to much music. Dreamgirls, to me at least, combined a great story of the trials and tribulations of famous musicians, with a nice balance of Motown-inspired collection of songs. To add to that nice combination, came a cast of some of the finest actors/musicians working today. Eddie Murphy re-launched our faith in his abilities with the conflicted and hilarious character, Jimmy. But the real revelation was the incredible and radiant Jennifer Hudson. While many only thought she was a good singer, I thought some of her best scenes were ones without music. Rounding out the cast were the compatible and talented Beyonce, Keith Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Jamie Foxx, and Danny Glover. With style, pop heaven, great acting, and effective directing by Bill Condon, Dreamgirls was one of the best.

8. Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 – I know that these were separate movies, but I decided to include them as one movie, because I believe it is best to watch them back to back. While they are no Pulp Fiction, the Kill Bill movies were pure kick-ass heaven. Uma Thurman deserved an Oscar nomination for her kick-ass lead roll that made me love her as an actor, and want to do her all night long at the same time. She was sexy, dark, violent, and most importantly, superbly talented. The supporting cast did a great job as well. Vivica A. Fox may have only been in a few scenes, but her character was pretty unforgettable. David Carradine (May he rest in peace) was great as Bill, and defiantly deserved his Golden Globe nomination. But the real reason this movie succeeded was Quentin Tarantino. Like all of his movies, this was pure Tarantino style. No one else in the world could pull off cheesy dialogue, and a strange, almost unbelievable story, and create pure movie magic. I just wish the Oscars had seen it the same way I had.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Top 50 Films of 1998-2008: Part 4

20. Requiem for a Dream – Darren Aronofsky is one of the best directors around, and never gets the love and respect he deserves. This incredibly strange and raw film about drug addiction is a perfect example. Boasted by great performances by Jared Leto and Ellen Burstyn, and Aronofsky’s signature style, Requiem for a Dream goes down as one of the most underappreciated films of all time.

19. Traffic – This film not only exposed mainstream America to the daily lives of those involved in the drug trafficking business, but it also created for us a gritty and realistic expose of the lives of all facets of the business in a Altman-esque style. Great performances from Benicio Del Toro, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Don Cheadle, combined with Steven Soderbergh’s dicey direction, made for an intense and entertaining movie experience.

18. South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut – Because of this piece of animated genius, we are still blaming Canada for all of our problems. Oscar didn’t grasp on to this piece of comedic art, which is a shame. The crudeness and crass that oozed out of the scene, would make even the most calm person squirm a little bit, and we can’t thank them enough for that.

17. The Incredibles – In case you haven’t noticed by now, I love Pixar movies; actually, I love animated films in general. I think it’s because they are supposed to be for kids, but are chocked full of humor and action that really appeals to audience members of all ages. The Incredibles was no exception. This fast-paced, action-packed adventure about washed up super heroes is reminiscent of Watchmen, and if I should say so myself, this one was ten times better.

16. There’s Something About Mary – Once again, In case you didn’t know, I love great comedy films as well, I mean who doesn’t like to laugh? This one is definitely in that category, and will leave you laughing long after it’s over. Cameron Diaz was a revelation in this movie, and it was the only movie, with the exception of Crash that Matt Dillon did that was worth anything in the last ten years. This one is raunchy, yet has a lot of heart, and is definitely worth the rent.

15. Sideways – Now this one wasn’t as funny as it was advertised, but let me tell you, the quality of the movie didn’t suffer at all. A little humor and little darkness combined well with incredible acting talents Paul Giamatti, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh, and Thomas Haden Church, and the well-written script made for a small, yet powerful movie about life, love, and mid-life crises.

14. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – This middle child of an incredible saga didn’t get the reception that it’s old and younger siblings did, and I can’t figure out why. I personally found this one to be the most action-packed, the most fun, and unlike its successor, I didn’t feel that it dragged on and on. It was a little bit shorter, and a whole lot more fun. Andy Serkis and Viggo Mortensen were the standouts in this incredible cast.

13. Toy Story 2 – Before the new wave of Pixar films like Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, there were two of the best movies of the last 25 years: the Toy Story movies. The second movie ended up being better than the first, and this was the movie that solidified Pixar’s animated dominance to this very day. It had to have been one hell of a movie to do that.

12. Election – This little screwball comedy cemented Cameron Crowe’s ability to write great movies forever, and it launched Reese Witherspoon’s string of successful comedic characters. It was quirky, it was high school perfection, and it proved to be one of the best little gems of the 90’s.

11. The Wrestler – Two Words: Mickey Rourke. While I thought his comeback began with Sin City, this movie is the one that really re-launched his career, and gave us the performance of a lifetime. It didn’t hurt that Darren Aronofsky was behind the camera, or that Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood shared the screen, but all in all this is Mickey’s triumph, and one of the best pictures of the decade.

Trailer: The Lovely Bones

While I can't find a way to post the actual video here is the link for The Lovely Bones trailer.

I personally think this movie is going to be great. The style of Peter Jackson shines through clearly, but I think it's going to be the mixture of that style and the crime/murder drama that is going to put it over the edge. I also see five acting nomination potentials in Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Saoirse Ronan, Mark Whalberg, and Rachel Weisz.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Top 50 Movies of 1998-2008: Part 3

30. Hustle & Flow – No only did it teach us that it’s hard out there for a pimp, but it proved that a hip-hop dominated film, about the trials and tribulations of a pimp trying to make it in the grueling world for mainstream black music, could be gripping, and simply terrific. Backed by great performances from Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, and Anthony Anderson, this little gem really proved to be a truly underappreciated diamond in the rough.

29. Wall-E – Only Pixar could take a story with almost no words, about a love story between two robots, and turn it into a fanciful, compelling, and superbly funny, lace it with a great message about the environment, and then turn it into one of the biggest movies of 2008. This, along with the previously mention Ratatouille, were Pixar’s shining stars that would have made the cut if there had been ten nominees, and once again, it’s a shame they missed the mark.

28. City of God – This shocking and sometimes disturbing piece of art, showed how brutal the streets of Rio can be, and just how good of a movie, Academy Awards nominee Fernando Meirelles can make. This film managed four Oscar nominations, but no wins, and missed out on the Best Picture race, which is truly a shame. While it was a hard movie to watch, it was simply brilliant and utterly compelling.

27. Juno – Here we have yet another little comedy that could. With a simply delicious performance from its young leader, Ellen Page, combined with a great script by former stripper Diablo Cody, and a great supporting cast (Especially the hilarious couple of J.K. Simmons and Allison Janey), this proved to be one of the best films of 2007, and one of the best comedies of the decade. Stocked full of quirky mannerisms and hilarious zingers, Juno managed to take teenage pregnancy and turn it into an incredible story about love, acceptance, and growing up.

26. Pleasantville – Before Spider-Man and Legally Blonde, Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon were two teenagers on opposite ends of the social spectrum, who find themselves transported into the plastic, Stepford-esque world of 1950’s television. The best part about this odd movie is that it taught all of us about the dirty skeletons in people’s closets, the need for social change, and most importantly the importance of family. Oh, and it didn’t hurt that it was absolutely hilarious at times.

25. Million Dollar Baby – This film came out of nowhere in 2004, and made Marty wait another two years to finally win his Academy Award. The dark horse of that race, turned out to be a dark, and conflicted movie that, like all Eastwood films, had an unexpected ending, and more importantly, an unexpected emotional effect that lingered long after I left the theater.

24. Iron Man – While The Dark Knight was pure movie greatness, Iron Man was pure movie fun. While not as deep and emotionally complex as most of the recent comic book/graphic novel movies, it definitely was a hell of a lot of fun. Robert Downey Jr. fit perfectly in the lead role, and turned it into the perfect summer blockbuster.

23. Fahrenheit 9/11 – This may just be the liberal in me coming out, but I like Micheal Moore’s movies; Michael Moore the person, not so much. Like Bowling for Columbine before it, Moore took on a controversial subject, and created an interesting, and brutally truthful reality that made conservatives across the country shutter, and me smile.

22. My Big Fat Greek Wedding – I always thought that my family was dysfunctional, and then I saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding. While Nia Vardalos has not been able to repeat after this break out success, at least she has one gem in her collection. This wedding romp, maybe me laugh all night, and taught all of us that no matter how big or crazy your family is, they are always there for you.

21. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl – Like Iron Man, this was pure summer movie magic. While its two successors didn’t amount to their potential, the first part was a lot of fun, and made us all feel like kids again. The real reason for its success was its star Johnny Depp. His hilarious and constantly drunk Jack Sparrow is now one of the most iconic characters of our time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Top 50 Movies of 1998-2008: Part 2

40. Ratatouille – An incredibly entertaining entry into the Pixar arsenal that proved to be one of its most clever films. It took something that no one would have thought could be great: A rat that can cook, and turned it into one of those incredible animated films that would have benefitted from ten Best Picture nominees, and what a shame, this one was truly one of the best.

39. Knocked Up – While the latest Apatow comedy is currently topping the box office, it begs repeating the greatness of his sophomore effort as a director. With the sexiness of Katherine Heigl, and the humor of Seth Rogen, the creation of the most unlikely pair to ever conceive, made Knocked Up one of the funniest movies of the decade.

38. Tropic Thunder – Speaking of great comedies, this gem of a summer blockbuster, came onto the scene with a bang. Making a movie about making a movie, proved to be an incredible formula for another one of the most hilarious movies of the decade. It, combined with Iron Man, also re-launched the career of one of the most talented actors in Hollywood today, Robert Downey Jr. I just hope drugs don’t ruin the second chance he was given, with this great film.

37. March of the Penguins – This little documentary proved to be a bit hit, and a captivating story about one of the most astonishing creatures on this planet. The enchanting, true story of a group of penguins, matched with the grandfatherly voice of Morgan Freeman, proved to be a winning combination of heart, information, and a journey that will not be forgotten any time soon.

36. The Departed – Compared to Raging Bull or GoodFellas, The Departed was a minor entry into the Martin Scorsese collection. However it proved to be the winning ticket that gave the overdue director the honor he so deservingly earned. With an incredible, male-dominated cast, this gangster flick proved to be an entertaining and brutal movie that truly showcased the gift that Scorsese has. No other director could have the f-word repeated several hundred times in one movie, and still win Best Picture other than the great Marty Scorsese.

35. Little Miss Sunshine – This film was the quirky little movie that could. While it failed to win the coveted Best Picture, it set the bar pretty high for all comedies that would follow it. An incredible cast including Steve Carell, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette, Greg Kinear, Abigail Breslin, and Paul Dano, proved to be straw that broke the camel’s back. With that combination of talent, that won the SAG Ensemble award, this was destined for movie greatness.

34. Training Day – The reason this movie is on this list is for one reason and one reason only: It is kick-ass. Denzel Washington should consider playing more villains, after this movie, I can comfortably say it fits him well. His performance combined with the scared, yet talented chops of Ethan Hawke made this gritty crime drama incredibly entertaining.

33. Mulholland Drive – David Lynch is simply brilliant and this piece of cinema history only proves my point. It had drama, mystery, and romance, and a lot of weirdness, which coalesced together into an incredible fantasy drama that earned Lynch a Best Director nod, and became an underground hit reminiscent of Fight Club and Requiem for a Dream.

32. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – The first in a series of three began one of the greatest movie franchises of all time (second only to The Godfather trilogy). Unlike the later two installments, this one starts off in a fanciful world, providing us a suitable base for launching an epic. It then slips into the wonderful story, perfectly setting up the last two movies, and capturing the dark mood of its original source.

31. The Insider – While it’s no Heat, The Insider was a taught and fast-paced drama featuring great performances from Russell Crowe and Al Pacino. What really worked was the mystery and excitement brought on by the screenplay, by the Academy Award Winner, Eric Roth, who recently penned the fanciful The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and the tight direction by the great Micheal Mann. With great performances and a great story, this proved to be a fantastic movie that I feel the Academy missed the mark on: 7 nominations, 0 wins.

Top 50 Movies of 1998-2008 Part 1

While the Oscar season is kind of in limbo between summer blockbusters and the fall contenders, I decided to make a list of the best movies of the last ten years, ending in 2008, seeing as 2009 is not over yet. These are personal picks, and I hope you enjoy the first ten below.

50. No Country For Old Men – I didn’t ooh and ah over the Coen Brothers cat and mouse Best Picture winner like most people did, but I did find it to be surprisingly intense, and more importantly, it kept me on the edge of my seat. While it’s not my favorite movie by the pair, I still thought it deserved a place on this list for one big reason: Javier Bardem. His role as the ruthless Anton, not only scared the s*** out of me, but it will go down as one of the iconic performances of this decade.

49. Primary Colors – I personally think this is one of Mike Nichols’ best, although some may disagree. I found it to be hilarious, especially the always incredible Kathy Bates. I think the real reason is my love of politics. As a political science major, I found this presentation of campaign antics to be very interesting, and it definitely fed my political hunger in the process.

48. Chicago - While I think it’s a bit overrated, I put it on my list because of what it did: revitalized the musical. For many years before 2001, many thought the musical had finally died. However with the critical and box office success of Chicago (Not to mention its 6 Oscars!), it put movie musicals back in the spotlight and since then we have seen numerous pop up; some good (Dreamgirls, Hairspray) and unfortunately, some not so good (Mamma Mia!, Across the Universe). However, the great performances from Renee Zellweger, Queen Latifah, and Catherine-Zeta Jones, and its commanding style, don’t hurt its cause.

47. Big Fish – I know this isn’t the biggest or most important entry in the Tim Burton collection, but it’s one of my favorites. I think that is so because of the wonderful and charming story that had a resonance with me , long after I left the theater. Combine a great story with fine performances by Jessica Lange, Albert Finney, Helen Bonham Carter, and Billy Crudup, and the usual Tim Burton wackiness and you have a fun, fanciful, and quirky movie that won me over.

46. Hairspray – This 2007 movie was one of those musicals that really worked. With an incredible cast featuring Michelle Pfeiffer, John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Zac Efron, Christopher Walken, and newcomer Nikki Blonsky, and solid directing by Adam Shankman, Hairspray proved to be a fast-paced, non-stop musical romp that was one of the best times I have ever had in a movie theater.

45. An Inconvenient Truth – This may just be the liberal in me talking, but I found Al Gore’s environment dissertation to be one of the most fascinating and truthful documentaries of all time. Combining an interesting personal story with humor, science, and urgency, An Inconvenient Truth, proved to be a pop culture phenomenon, and a worthy entry into the environmentalist’s arsenal.

44. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – I decided to include one entry of the Harry Potter saga into my list, and this was my personal favorite. The quirkiness of Alfonso Cuaron could be felt from the first scene, and I have to say it made a world of difference in the quality of the movie. It captured the magic of the story, and created a perfect set and atmosphere that represented the gloom of that magical story, and more importantly, it was a lot of fun.

43. Godsford Park – While it’s no Nashville, Godsford Park proved to be a classic Robert Altman ensemble movie that included a plethora of legendary British actors like Maggie Smith, Emily Watson, Helen Mirren, and Michael Gambon. With that great British charm and wit, Godsford Park, proved to be mysterious, funny, and simply great.

42. The Sixth Sense - Today this remains the only M. Night Shyamalan that was worth anything and with a debut like this into mainstream Hollywood, the future was so bright; too bad it didn’t amount to much. This movie was creepy, shocking, and simply brilliant, and made the phrase “I see dead people…” become the most overused, yet great, phrases in pop culture.

41. Frost/Nixon – I felt that this movie got the shaft last year. Basing an entire movie on an interview was risky, but the combined talents of Ron Howard, Frank Langella, Micheal Sheen, and a plethora of talent in the supporting cast, created a witty and tiger-like battle of two great talents that was superbly entertaining.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Funny People....Maybe Not So Much?

While Funny People just topped the box office with $23.4 million, the reviews for it were no so flattering. While it managed a fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes of 65%, it managed only a mediocre 60 on Metacritic, and seems to not have the critical clout other Apatow films have received. Still, The Reader did even worse and still managed a Best Picture nod with 5 nominees. With 10, don't count out the popularity of newly Academy induced member Judd Apatow. I still think Funny People will make a splash at the Golden Globes, and Leslie Mann and Adam Sandler should not be counted out, as their performances don't seem to be the movie's problem.

Oscar Contender: Precious

Normally, the saga of an overweight, illiterate, pregnant black teenager with an abusive mother wouldn’t scream Best Picture. However, early word out of Sundance (and the three awards it won there), tells us that Precious could be the one to watch out for.

The acting is supposedly terrific, especially Mo’Nique. Now I personally love her for her standup, as I think she is one of the funniest comedians to date. However, Precious apparently proves that she is no one-trick pony. According to early buzz, she is brutal, raw, emotional, and simply outstanding as Precious’ abusive mother, and is the frontrunner for Best Supporting Actress. Newcomer Gabourey Sidibe apparently also carries her own, and could be a contender for Best Actress. The real shocker here is that Mariah Carey is supposed to be excellent as well. Mariah is a musical goddess but if Glitter is still fresh on your minds, you would know her movie career hasn’t been so successful.

So here’s the point, the movie is getting great critical reception, has some big time stars to help boost box office performance, and in only his second motion picture to date, newcomer Lee Daniels seems to have a hit on his hands.

The only problems I foresee are poor box office, and the inability of Americans to watch such a brutal story. With all the abuse the trailer shows, I can’t imagine how rough the whole movie will be, no matter how brilliant it is.

Oscar Potential: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Gabourey Sidibe), Best Supporting Actress (Mariah Carey and Mo’Nique), Film Editing, Cinematography, Adapted Screenplay, Makeup

Saturday, August 1, 2009

First Half Oscar Contenders

Now that I have listed my favorite, here is a more inclusive list of some of the films/actors/technicals from the first half of the year to keep an eye on come Oscar time.

Best Picture
An Education
Star Trek
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Public Enemies
Funny People

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow “The Hurt Locker”
David Yates “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
J.J. Abrams “Star Trek”
Michael Mann “Public Enemies”
Judd Apatow “Funny People”
Pete Docter and Bob Peterson “Up”
Lone Scherfig “An Education”

Best Actor
Johnny Depp “Public Enemies “
Adam Sandler “Funny People”
Jeremy Renner “The Hurt Locker”Sam Rockwell “Moon”
Joaquin Phoenix “Two Lovers”
Peter Sarsgaard “An Education”
Hugh Dancy “Adam”

Best Actress
Carey Mulligan “An Education”
Michelle Pfeiffer “Cheri”
Shohreh Agdashloo “The Stoning of Soraya M.”
Julia Roberts “Duplicity”Gwyneth Paltrow “Two Lovers”

Best Supporting Actor
Anthony Mackie “The Hurt Locker”
Billy Crudup “Public Enemies”
Seth Rogen “Funny People”
Brian Geraghty “The Hurt Locker”
Jamie Foxx “The Soloist”
Jim Broadbent “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
Michael Gambon “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
Alfred Molina “An Education”

Best Supporting Actress
Marion Cotillard “Public Enemies”
Leslie Mann “Funny People”
Rosamund Pike “An Education”
Patricia Clarkson “Whatever Works”
Helen Bonham Carter “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

Technicals/Other Awards

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – Visual Effects, Costume Design, Cinematography, Art Direction, Original Score, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Makeup
Public Enemies – Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction, Costume Design, Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Film Editing, Makeup, Original Score,
The Hurt Locker – Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Film Editing, Cinematography, Original Screenplay,
Star Trek – Costume Design, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Cinematography, Adapted Screenplay, Visual Effects, Original Score, Art Direction
An Education – Film Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Cinematography, Adapted Screenplay
Watchmen – Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Makeup, Sound Editing, Original Score
Up – Animated Feature, Original Score, Original Screenplay, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen – Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects
Cheri – Costume Design, Art Direction, Makeup
Terminator Salvation – Visual Effects
Earth – Documentary
Food, Inc. – Documentary
The Hannah Montana Movie – Best Original Song for “The Climb”
Coraline – Animated Feature
Monsters vs. Aliens – Animated Feature