Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween, I hope everyone has a safe and fun holiday, and is not too hungover in the morning.
Below is a clip from one of my guilty-pleasures at Halloween time. Enjoy!

Hocus Pocus - Master

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Special: Great Horror Movies

In honor of Halloween, here are some of my personal favorite horror movies.

Rosemary's Baby - To this day remains one of the most disturbingly brilliant horror movies of all time thanks to the incredible talents Roman Polanski. It is dark, well-acted, and well-made, something so many horror films never seem grasp.

The Descent - I think the scariest part of this is that you actually care about the characters. Before the madness, and bloodbath and claustrophobia begins, there is a huge chunk of the movie that acutally develops its characters. It is horrifying to actually see a movie where people you like die.

The Shining - This is almost entirely becuase of Jack Nicholson's over the top, yet frightening performance, and the creepy vibe that Kubrick creates within that hotel.

Paranormal Activity - While its sequel is simply a rehashing (see my recent review below), the original Paranormal Activity was a cult-hit that was tense, shocking, and more importantly, stuck to the old Hitchcockian idea that what you can't see is more scary than what you can.

Nightmare on Elm Street - While most of its sequels (and reboots) have been complete trash, the original Nightmare on Elm Street was a terrifying experience that made us afraid to go to sleep.

Se7en - Well-acted, incredibly written, and quite disturbing, David Fincher's Se7en may not be a "horror" movie per say, but it is quite frightening just how good it is.
Dawn of the Dead - Either one really, because both are proof that no one has mastered the art of the zombie movie quite like the great George A. Romero.

The Changeling - Peter Medak's classic The Changeling, takes on the same idea as Paranormal Activity, by providing a tense and creepy atmosphere that keeps you frightened, without showing you the whole shabang until you have been eaten alive with fear and tension.

Pan's Labyrinth - Like Se7en, this one might not be considered a "horror" movie per say, but it was scary, and extremely well-made.

Scream - A perfect of balance of humor and fear, Scream's ironic tone and dissing of horror cliches was one of the best horror movies to ever hit the screen. Hope Scream 4 follows in this films footsteps and not Sream 3's.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Review: Paranormal Activity 2

While it maintains what made the first one such a hit, and its ending is a remarkably scary and creep, and even does a good job of tying it back to Katie and Micah, Paranormal Activity 2 seems to lack the surprise factor that made the first one a cult classic.

The story shifts to a couple of months before Katie's possessed killing of Micah, and focuses on Katie's sister and her family. As weird things begin to happen in their house, they start to wonder if it is because the demon is after their first born son Tucker. As the creepy stuff begins to happen, and the mom even gets possesed, the father starts to take drastic measures to save his family and more importantly, his son.

Paranormal Activty 2 does an incredible job of maintaining the documentary style that made the first one so realistic, and connecting the story back to the original. Even in the description I just wrote, it seems like it would be a fantastic and scary movie, but unfortunately, for me at least, the franchise has already seemed to have lost its allure. Even with the creep-ass ending being incredibly scary and much better than the first, something still seems to be lacking.

For me, the pacing and structure of the first one is lost, as the activities don't build up in momentum, and although you know they are coming the writers have opted for a hurried-along script, unlike the first one, that, although slow-paced, made the anticipation for what was going to happen even more dreadful. Unfortunately, this one throws you right in, and never really gives you a chance to absorb the characters, the activities, and the predicament the family is in. Whoever edited this movie needs to understand that fear is something you have to build, not just throw at the audience.

Paranormal Activity 2 isn't a bad movie, and still remains better than 80% of the horror movies that come out, but the allure of the first one quickly wears off, and it starts to seem as if we are rehashing the same ideas, and doing so in a rushed and formulaic fashion. If you are looking for a good fright, its worth paying the money for, just don't expect a bunch of new ideas.

Oscar Potential: haha

Grade: C+

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Best Show You're Not Watching: Parenthood

Now I normally don't take the time out of this busy Oscar season to plug my favorite TV shows, particularly when there is an entire summer of Emmy coverage waiting on me. But after finally catching up with my DVR this past week, it hit me that there is one particular show on television that every week I can't wait to see. And that show is Parenthood. I want spend endless pages talking about its great qualities, because there is no need. To put it simply, the actors are great, the scripts for each week combine humor, drama, and reality into a way that really works, and together it is one of the most emotional, real, and connecting shows I have seen in a very long time. The ratings this season have been lower than the first, but I hope that NBC ignores those and looks at the quality of its progamming, and see that Parenthood is simply one of the best shows on television...period.

Oh and I am going to update the sidebar a little bit later.

Friday, October 22, 2010

State of the Race: October Edition

Best Picture
Another Year
The Fighter
The Kids are All Right
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
The Way Back
Other Contenders: Black Swan, Made in Dagenham, For Colored Girls, The Town, Secretariat, Winter's Bone, Shutter Island, Blue Valentine, Never Let Me Go, Love & Other Drugs, Morning Glory, Rabbit Hole, How Do You Know, Fair Game
Commentary: Over the last several weeks, this race has started to shape up, as we continue to get more and more predictions that are starting to look the same. For now, it looks like the big battle may come down between The King's Speech and The Social Network, two vastly different films, yet both very popular. After that there are a few films whose stocks are either rising or remaining intact. The summer's three big contenders Inception, The Kids Are All Right, and Toy Story 3 have maintained theri buzz, and still look like strong contenders heading into the Fall. Some film festival favorites have also continued to generate some attention including Another Year and 127 Hours. The newest edition to the race is Peter Weir's The Way Back, which got great reviews, but had yet to find a distributor, then didn't have a release date, but has now been pushed into the race and is a strong contender. The last two contenders have yet to be seen, mostly. True Grit simply looks like a great project, and early word on The Fighter is that it is a good contender for the nomination, but not neccesarily the win. Of course that was from a money side, not a crtical side, so the word is still muted.

Best Director
Mike Leigh "Another Year"
Tom Hooper "The King's Speech"
Danny Boyle "127 Hours"
David Fincher "The Social Network"
Joel & Ethan Coen "True Grit"
Other Contenders: Lisa Cholodenko "The Kids Are All Right", Christopher Nolan "Inception", Darren Aronofsky "Black Swan", David O. Russel "The Fighter", Tyler Perry "For Colored Girls", Ed Zwick "Love & Other Drugs, Martin Scorsese "Shutter Island", James L. Brooks "How Do You Know"
Commentary: This one is still competetive as ever, with many contenders waiting in the wings to steal a spot. David Fincher and Tom Hooper seem like the two biggest contenders, as are their movies. Danny Boyle is popular, and his 127 Hours is getting rave reviews. I'm going with Coen Bros. simply because of their track record, although the movie could bomb, so you never know. The last spot is up in the air. Peter Weir should probably be on this list, but I still need some more word on The Way Back. I think its in for Picture, but Director is more intense. I went instead with previous nominee Mike Leigh who is loved by the Academy.

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges "True Grit"
Robert Duvall "Get Low"
Jesse Eisenberg "The Social Network"
Colin Firth "The King's Speech"
James Franco "127 Hours"
Other Contenders: Javier Bardem "Biutiful", Paul Giamatti "Barney's Version", Mark Whalberg "The Fighter", Kevin Spacey "Casino Jack", Jake Gylenhaal "Love & Other Drugs", Paul Rudd "How Do You Know", Ryan Gosling "Blue Valentine", Sean Penn "Fair Game"
Commentary: This one is surpringsly not as competetive as I think it is, although I could be completely misjudging it. Colin Firth and James Franco are probably the two leading contenders, but Robert Duvall is right behind them. Jeff Bridges is probably a shoo-in, but True Grit has to be good. I went with Jesse Eisenberg for the last spot, he may not be as good as say Sean Penn or Javier Bardem, but the movie's popularity may bring him into the mix.

Best Actress
Annette Benning "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman "Rabbit Hole"
Leslie Manville "Another Year"
Julianne Moore "The Kids Are All Right"
Natalie Portman "Black Swan"
Other Contenders: Naomi Watts "Fair Game", Jennifer Lawrence "Winter's Bone", Sally Hawkins "Made in Dagenham", Anne Hathaway "Love & Other Drugs", Diane Lane "Secretariat", Michelle Williams "Blue Valentine", Carey Mulligan "Never Let Me Go", Hilary Swank "Conviction", Reese Witherspoon "How Do You Know"
Commentary: For the first time, I am moving Julianne Moore and Annette Benning both into the top five. If they let in Benning, they need to let in Moore. Leslie Manville is still in, although I'm convinced that pushing her for supporting would not only guarantee a nod, but maybe a win. Natalie Portman is still the best bet to knock off Bening for the top prize. Finally I went with former winner Nicole Kidman who is supposed to be great in Rabbit Hole.

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale "The Fighter"
Ed Harris "The Way Back"
Andrew Garfield "The Social Network"
Mark Ruffalo "The Kids Are All Right"
Geoffrey Rush "The King's Speech"
Other Contenders: Justin Timberlake "The Social Network, Sam Rockwell "Conviction", John Malkovich "Secretariat", Matt Damon "True Grit", Jeremy Renner "The Town", Colin Farrell "The Way Back", Bill Murray "Get Low", Jack Nicholson "How Do You Know", Dustin Hoffman "Barney's Version"
Commentary: Geoffrey Rush seems to be the only lock so far in the race, but I think that the wonderful Andrew Garfield is safer than most people think. Early word is that Christian Bale is great, as is Melissa Leo (see below), so I kept him in the top five for now. Mark Ruffalo is fantastic in The Kids Are All Right, but he has been snubbed before, so I'm shaky on that prediction. Finally I went with the great Ed Harris, who I am secretly (ok not much of a secret anymore) hoping finally wins an overdue Oscar.

Best Supporting Actress
Helena Bonham Carter "The King's Speech"
Melissa Leo "The Fighter"
Miranda Richardson "Made in Dagenham"
Hailee Steinfeld "True Grit"
Dianne Wiest "Rabbit Hole"
Other Contenders: Jacki Weaver "Animal Kingdom", Saoirse Ronan "The Way Back", Barbara Hershey "Black Swan", Thandie Newton "For Colored Girls", Kimberly Elise "For Colored Girls", Phylicia Rashad "For Colored Girls", Macy Gray "For Colored Girls", Loretta Devine "For Colored Girls", Amy Adams "The Fighter", Sandra Oh "Rabbit Hole", Marion Cotillard "Inception"
Commentary: This is really still a wide open race, particularly if For Colored Girls is really good. I went with Dianne Wiest and Miranda Richardson for being old-school Academy favorites in baity roles. Melissa Leo is getting quite a lot of buzz for The Fighter, and she is personal favorite of mine. We know Helena Bonham Carter is good, and if The King's Speech is a popular as we think it is going to be with the Academy, she will join the ride. Finally I went with newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, because if True Grit is a bad ass as it looks, she is easily in (plus she is the lead pushed as supporting).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gotham Nominees 2010

Great list of nominees, particularly the Let Me In nod, and the love for Blue Valentine. The funny thing is that the five Best Feature nods are all getting a lot of Oscar talk as well. Independent filmmaking at its finest. Enjoy!
Best Feature:

Black Swan
Blue Valentine
The Kids Are All Right
Let Me In (!)
Winter’s Bone

Best Documentary:

12th & Delaware
Inside Job
The Oath
Public Speaking

Best Ensemble Performance:

The Kids Are All Right
Life During Wartime
Please Give
Tiny Furniture
Winter’s Bone

Breakthrough Director:

John Wells for The Company Men
Kevin Asch for Holy Rollers
Glenn Ficarra and John Requa for I Love You Phillip Morris
Tanya Hamilton for Night Catches Us
Lena Dunham for Tiny Furniture

Breakthrough Actor:

Prince Adu in Prince of Broadway
Ronald Bronstein in Daddy Longlegs
Greta Gerwig in Greenberg
Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone
John Ortiz in Jack Goes Boating

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You:

Kati with an i
On Coal River
Summer Pasture
The Wolf Knife

Honorary Awards

Darren Aronofsky
Robert Duvall
Hilary Swank

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Review: Never Let Me Go

After waiting for almost a month for Never Let Me Go to hit a theatre near me,  I finally got to climb into the ghetto, beer/cigarette theatre in my college town (which I love by the way), and take a glimpse at Mark Romanek's brave attempt at adaptating Kazuo Ishiguro's masterful novel.

And in almost every way he clearly succeeds. Never Let Me Go is a solemn and depressing, yet moving, well-acted, and well-made movie that captures the terror, emptiness, and emotional content of its source work.

As the story slowly unravels (I don't want to give any spoilers away, but kind of have to), we start to see that our three protagonists are part of a large scientific experiment that creates clones that are only used as donors to save other individuals from diseases such as cancer and heart disease. That is the science fiction framework that encompasses the story. But this has to be the most subtle sci-fi film I have ever seen.  The point of this story has little to do with the the premise or the ending; we know these characters were built to die. The point is the journey from the yards of the school that bred these individuals to be healthy and be protected for their purpose in life, to the agony of being a teenager, as just when you start to feel love, lust, freedom, you know that your time is almost up. These characters are seemingly stuck in childhood, never really experiencing the real world, and holding on to childish fantasies in the name of hope.

The acting in this picture is absolutely fantastic. Carey Mulligan proves that even in silence she has a star quality that will continue her career as a leading lady in Hollywood. Kiera Knightly was incredible as the jealous, and vindictive Ruth, then remorseful, showing a layered and bruised character. For me though, the real talent her is Andrew Garfield. After seein The Social Network, I questioned whether it was a one-time thing. But his childish, and hopefull Tommy shows emotional depth, curiousity, and the anger and pain of having so little time to live shows just how great an actor he already is, and hopefully he will start to get some bigger roles to showcase his talent (Spiderman is a start).

It is also extremely well made in terms of its technical aspects, particualrly its beautiful cinematography, art direction, and music, which hopefull will get some recognition come Oscar time.

However, it is easy to see why critics and audiences have not fallen in love with this movie. There are no real moments of joy, it is slow-paced, and at times can be distant. However, I feel that these were the effects that Romanek was going for, despite how they can sometimes linger just a little too long, or distance themselves just a little too much for my taste.

Despite that, Never Let Me Go is an emotional and beautiful move that presents some fine performances, and reminds all of how precious life is, particularly when you know it is going to end. It is an important film worth putting on your watch list for this Fall.

Oscar Potential: It will probably get drowned up in the Oscar season, although it definitely could be a contender if some of the bigger, unseen contenders fall. It's technical aspects definitley have a shot no matter what happens in the bigger but Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress/Actor, Cinematography, Original Score, and Art Direction are all possibilties.

Grade: B+

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Sidebar Changes and Updated Predictions

I have finally posted some prediction updates for all the major categories (except Foreign Language). These are preliminary picks and will start to sort themselves out in a few weeks. Here are updated categories:

Best Documentary Feature

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer
Inside Job
Joan Rivers: Piece of Work
The Tillman Story
Waiting for "Superman"

Best Art Direction

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I
The King's Speech
True Grit

Best Cinematography

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
127 Hours
True Grit
The Way Back

Best Costume Design

Alice in Wonderland
Get Low
The King's Speech
True Grit
The Way Back

Best Film Editing

127 Hours
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Best Makeup

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I
The Wolfman

Best Original Score

Alexandre Desplat "The King's Speech"
Randy Newman "Toy Story 3"
Rachel Portman "Never Let Me Go"
A.R. Rahman "127 Hours"
Hans Zimmer "Inception"

Best Original Song

"You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" from Burlesque
"Country Strong" from Country Strong
"I See the Light "Tangled"
"We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3
"Shine" from Waiting For Superman

Best Sound Editing

Iron Man 2
127 Hours
Toy Story 3
TRON Legacy

Best Sound Mixing

Iron Man 2
127 Hours
TRON Legacy

Best Visual Effects

Allice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Iron Man 2
TRON Legacy

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2010 AMA Nominees

I am not going to lie....I saw some of the names of this list and wanted to throw up (really just Justin Bieber), but there were some nice nods for Sade and Train. Hopefully the Grammys are a little more exclusive.

Favorite Male Artist, Pop or Rock

Justin Bieber

Favorite Female Artist, Pop or Rock

Lady Gaga
Katy Perry

Favorite Band, Duo or Group, Pop or Rock

The Black Eyed Peas
Lady Antebellum

Favorite Album, Pop or Rock

Justin Bieber - My World 2.0
Eminem - Recovery
Katy Perry - Teenage Dream

Favorite Male Artist, Country

Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
Brad Paisley

Favorite Female Artist, Country

Miranda Lambert
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

Favorite Band, Duo or Group, Country

Zac Brown Band
Lady Antebellum
Rascal Flatts

Favorite Album, Country

Jason Aldean - Wide Open
Lady Antebellum - Need You Now
Carrie Underwood - Play On
Favorite Male Artist, Rap/Hip-Hop


Favorite Album, Rap/Hip-Hop

B.o.B. - B.o.B. Presents
Drake - Thank Me Later
Eminem - Recovery

Favorite Male Artist - Soul/R&B

Chris Brown
Trey Songz
Favorite Female Artist - Soul/R&B

Alicia Keys

Favorite Album, Soul/R&B

Alicia Keys - The Element of Freedom
Sade - Soldier of Love
Usher - Raymond v. Raymond

Favorite Album, Soundtracks

AC/DC - Iron Man 2
Glee: The Music, Volume 3 Showstoppers
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Favorite Artist, Alternative Rock Music

Vampire Weekend

Favorite Artist, Adult Contemporary Music

Michael Bublé
Lady Antebellum

Favorite Artist, Latin Music

Daddy Yankee
Enrique Iglesias

Favorite Artist, Contemporary Inspirational

Casting Crowns

Artist of the Year

Justin Bieber
Lady Gaga
Katy Perry

T-Mobile Breakthrough Artist Nominations

Justin Bieber
Taio Cruz
Jason Derülo
Lady Antebellum
Travie McCoy
Mike Posner

Monday, October 11, 2010

Forgotten Contenders: Movies That Could Still Make An Impact

Here is a look at a bunch of movies (some seen, some not) that have either lost their buzz (or never really gained it in the first place), yet could be contenders if they get the right push. Basically it is a plug for lost contenders that deserve some recognition.

1. The Company Men - It comes out before the end of this month, so we will know more once we get some reviews, but on paper, this one looked like it would be a sure fire contender. Just the names of Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, and Maria Bello should perk your ears up. Plus, this has been a banner year for Ben Affleck proving that he really can act, and direct, and write with The Town, could he go 2 for 2? I think that sometimes, little buzz can be a good thing, so maybe this one will have a life after all? Plus its got Weinstein behind it.

2. Love & Other Drugs - It will premiere soon at the AFI Film Fest, and it cannot come a moment too soon. After the initial trailer, the buzz for this comedy has slowed muted, and even Anne Hathaway's performance (apparently the best part of the film) has been quietly exiting many predictions for Best Actress as that race gets more and more competetive. When Ed Zwick hits all the right notes, he is a particularly good director, so hopefully some festival time will save this comedy and put Anne back in the derby again.

3. How Do You Know - Sure the trailer was funny, but not exactly looking like Best Picture quality, you should never underestimate the great James L. Brooks. Of course, this could be another Spanglish, but if it is  another As Good As It Gets, the muted buzz will surely see the volume turned up. Plus its got Jack Nicholson, I'll see it.

4. Blue Valentine - Sure its gotten some recent press for its not so hot NC-17 ratings, but overall, the buzz that was so loud for both Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, particularly after being picked up by the Weinsteins seems to have been dampened a little bit. If they can get the movie down to R without losing its integrity, I say that the push will be on, and this is not the last we've heard from this film.

5. Nowhere Boy - Popular with BAFTA, it seems to be lost among the other, more popular British films like The King's Speech and Another Year, but apparently HFPA went nuts for it, so maybe the Golden Globes will give it some recognition that could lead to Oscar, particularly for Anne-Marie Duff and Kristen Scott Thomas.

6. The Whistleblower - After hearing some great things coming out of Toronto, particularly for Rachel Weisz, it has yet to be picked up by a distributer. Maybe there is a life for it, but someone needs to show some interest or it will die fast.

7. Black Swan - While many are still predicting it, all the huzza that came after Venice has been silenced, and despite its incredible reviews, the whole "Academy perception of it" dialogue among pundits has caused its stock to fall, but I think this one will surprise people and end up being a real contender.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Look At: Best Actress

What is shaping up to be the most competetive and interesting categories is the Best Actress category, one that, in recent years, has been less interesting. Annette Bening and Natalie Portman are coming in as the frontrunners, but other than that, the race is really a toss up. We have plenty of former winners and nominees, and some new faces all looking for a shot at the glory. Here is a look at the biggest contenders:

Top Contenders:

1. Annette Bening "The Kids Are All Right"
2. Natalie Portman "Black Swan"

Looking Good:

3. Nicole Kidman "Rabbit Hole"
4. Leslie Manville "Another Year"
5. Diane Lane "Secretariat"
6. Sally Hawkins "Made in Dagenham"
7. Jennifer Lawrence "Winter's Bone"
8. Julianne Moore "The Kids Are All Right"


9. Anne Hathaway "Love and Other Drugs"
10. Carey Mulligan "Never Let Me Go"
11. Hilary Swank "Conviction"
12. Naomi Watts "Fair Game"
13. Michelle Williams "Blue Valentine"

Other Contenders:

14. Gwyneth Paltrow "Country Strong"
15. Rachel Weisz "The Whistleblower"
16. Rachel McAdams "Morning Glory"
17. Emma Stone "Easy A"
18. Helen Mirren "The Debt"

Those are the 18 right now, although you never know who may emerge as the season goes on. This is a really packed field and all of the top 13 are legitimate contenders for five spots. Right now, here are my predictions:

Annette Bening "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman "Rabbit Hole"
Diane Lane "Secretariat"
Leslie Manville "Another Year"
Natalie Portman "Black Swan"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Changes On the Side Bar...

I have changed the Awards Tracker to start predictions. There have been a few updates since the September Edition, and I will do a late October edition in full print. I will also start to add other awards (like tech awards) once I get a handle on all the contenders and have some time to sort all of those out.

Keep Reading!


Monday, October 4, 2010

Why 2010 Is the Year for 10 Nominees

Two months ago, pundits were once again complaining that the Academy was going to have to find less than stellar fill-ins to complete is ten nominees for Best Picture, as only about four summer films left any mark: Winter's Bone, Toy Story 3, The Kids Are All Right, and Inception. But as the festival season swooped upon us, suddenly we were inundated with plenty of contenders, and there are still a few buzzed projects left to be seen. Suddenly, not only did the question of ten become more complicated, but the question of who can actually win has suddenly become a toss up.  

This is great news for the Academy, who took a lot of heat last year, when fill-ins such as A Serious Man and The Blind Side were needed simply to fill out a Best Picture roster. This year the competition will be stiff, and even with ten nominees, I'm sure a great number of excellent films will still be on the outside looking in. So maybe, just maybe, all those doubters of the ten nominee system will change their minds, and enjoy the fact that in a great year for film, there will be plenty of love to go around.

Here is a look at how the category is stacking up:

Locks (ok nothing is a lock yet, but let's rephrase this, The Best Contenders):

1. The Social Network
2. The King's Speech
3. 127 Hours
4. Toy Story 3

Looking Good:

5. True Grit
6. The Fighter
7. Inception
8. The Kids Are All Right
9. Another Year
10. Made in Dagenham
11. Black Swan

Other Contenders:

12. The Way Back
13. Hereafter
14. Rabbit Hole
15. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I
16. Somewhere
17. Love and Other Drugs
18. Fair Game
19. Secretariat
20. Blue Valentine
21. Winter's Bone
22. Conviction
23. For Colored Girls
24. The Town
25. Shutter Island

That's right...count them...25 big time contenders. Guaranteed some of them have not been seen this year, but even if they are not good, there are still at least 19-20 contenders we know are good, and I'm sure I forgot some. This year looks like it is going to be a epic battle to the finish line....I can't wait.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Review: The Social Network

There is such a thing as overhype. I remember last year, I finally popped in The Hurt Locker to see what all the hype was about and why is was apparently the Best Picture of the Year, only to find that while it was well-made (thanks to the great Kathryn Bigelow), that it was completely underwhelming and kind of dissapointing. So when I started reading the reviews for The Social Network, I got kind of nervous. What if this film was underwhelming as well?

Luckily for me, David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin have created a modern masterpiece. There is simply no other way to put it. From its first energetic frame, to its quiet ending, The Social Network is the best picture of the year, and is an entertaining and enthralling ride that should not be missed.

The story is played out as a parallel structure, half of it being the story of how Facebook was created, from every long spelled out logarithum and supposed stealing of the Facebook idea to the drama that ensues when they meet Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, and the splitting up of Mark and Eduardo's friendship. The other half is the legal battle (or two legal battles) that show us the kind of mess that Mark gets into when he screws over the only people who either were his friend, or wanted to be his friends.

In that sense, The Social Network's story (or stories) isn't that complicated, yet the characterizations that are drawn are so intenses, so well done, and so beautifully crafted that it could have been the most one-note story ever written, and it still would have been compared to Citizen Kane. That is thanks to the impeccable and incredible talents of the marvelous Aaron Sorkin (who makes a cameo in the movie by the way). His witty, zippy script perfectly balances humor and drama and moves it along at such a pace that you are kind of sad when the last frame goes black because you wish there could be more. I think it is now time to finally not only give this man a nomination, but give him the Oscar he so richly deserves.

David Fincher also richly deserves an Oscar for his long, awardless career, and for putting together this script with tact, and hiring a director of photography that, while it will most likely be ignored, should be rewarded with a cinematography nod for making a dark drama filmed mostly inside absolutely beautiful to look at.

The actors also prove their worth. Jesse Eisenberg finally finds a balance of nerdy and dark that hopefully means he is officially out of the Michael Cera geek zone. Justin Timberlake is surprisngly funny and lights up the screen. But for me, at least, the true acting prowess shown was by newcomer to American film, Andrew Garfield (ok hes not that new, but my guess is that most people couldn't have pointed him out before this movie). His controlled and emotional performance brought some humanity to the story, especially when the ass-hole bravada that spilled from Eisenberg and Timberlake's characters was stunningly present.

Now, I'm sure some people will read this review and claim that I have over-hyped it, or taken the praise a little to far, to the point of hyperbolic overload, but it was hard for me to hold back. To put it simply, The Social Network is one of the most relevant movies released in the last decade, and is one of the most well-made modern dramas I have seen since the 90's, or even before.

Oscar Potential: Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor (2x), Editing, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound Mixing and Editing (I know this sounds crazy but go watch the scene in the club).

Grade: A+