Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Ides of March: Venice Reviews

So far so good. This is a film that will polarize people due to its political nature, but even the least enthusiastic reviews so far have still been pretty damn good. That being said, I don't know if the reviews are as enthusiastic as they need to be to launch an automatic Oscar campaign. But the pedigree alone could take it to the bank, it will probably be a decent box office hit, and so far we only have a handful of reviews, so its hard to determine how a more general consensus will see it. Although intial impressions say that the cast members, particularly Gosling, Hoffman, Giamatti, and Wood, should get their campaigns reved up for some potential acting slots. That being said here are some early Venice reviews for The Ides of March:

Deborah Young from The Hollywood Reporter:

"Poised between politics and thriller, this morality tale from Clooney & Co. is illuminated by a terrific ensemble cast....Classy and professional throughout, the technical work gracefully holds all the threads together"

Derek Malcolm of This Is London was particularly impressed with Clooney's work both behind and in front of the camera:

"There are wheels within wheels in this intelligently written tale of political chicanery which vies with Clooney's Good Night, And Good Luck as the kind of relevant film Hollywood should make but seldom does these days. To direct, write and act in such a film proves Clooney to be a good deal more than the Clark Gable of his generation."

Dave Calhoun of Time Out was a little less enthusiastic, but appreciated the cast's work:

"‘The Ides of March’ is solid enough as a minor moral tale about politics – but its teeth are not as sharp as its ponderous title, overplayed final scene of co-star Ryan Gosling staring into a television camera or more flat noir-ish elements would all like to suggest. However, taken as a diverting aside on our world and with its more awkward pretensions forgiven, it’s captivating enough and well-performed by a strong cast, even down to the smaller ensemble roles. There’s a pleasing sense of a cast working together for the cause."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Venice Film Festival Preview

Over the next week or so, we will finally get a look at some of the biggest Oscar contenders this year. Here are the ones I am looking most forward to:

1. The Ides Of March - George Clooney + Political storyline of a presidential elections + Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Wright, and Evan Rachel Wood = Political film heaven. The Oscars routinely nominate really good political films, and if the hype on this one holds up, it is definitely in the equation.

2. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - Gary Oldman has been on the cusp of Oscar contention for way too long, and the intriguing trailer makes this look like it could be a stellar adaptation of the best selling novel. Plus you add in some Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and a rather capable crew, and this could be the Brits big movie this year in America.

3. Carnage - The trailer for Carnage is interesting to say the least, and while I'm sure some people will shy away from the storyline, and from the fact that Polanski's name is attached, I think that this could be a dark-horse contender in the big categories, particularly with the pedigree of the four main actors, all of whom have found their way into Oscar limelight (3 winners, 1 nominee).

4. A Dangerous Method - A lot of people are doubting this one, but Cronenberg is consistently good, as are these main cast members, so until I start hearing naysayers, I am going to continue to have a high opinion of the chances of this film to do well this Oscar season. At least a nod for Michael Fassbender and Kiera Knightley are possibilities probably no matter what.

5. Shame - Steve McQueen's films have the trouble of not playing to big enough audiences, but with names like Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender, I hope that this one can at least have a decent enough indie release, and maybe people will start to appreciate McQueen's unnatural style of film. Although it needs a good premeire here to get all of that launched.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

2011 MTV VMA Winners

So I learned a few things: 1) I really miss Amy Winehouse, may she rest in peace. 2) I cannot predict these awards, 3) I forget that this is MTV, because only on MTV would Britney Spears and Justin Bieber, beat out Adele and Kanye West. Here is a list of all the winners:

Video of the Year - Katy Perry "Firework"
Best Female Video - Lady Gaga "Born This Way"
Best New Artist - Tyler the Creator "Yonkers"
Best Pop Video - Britney Spears "Til The World Ends"
Best Rock Video - Foo Fighters "Walk"
Best Hip Hop Video - Nicki Minaj "Super Bass"
Best Collaboration - Katy Perry & Kanye West "E.T."
Best Male Video - Justin Bieber "U Smile"
Best Video With a Message - Lady Gaga "Born This Way"
Best Choreography - Beyonce "Run the World (Girls)"
Best Visual Effects - Katy Perry feat. Kanye West "E.T."
Best Art Direction - Adele "Rolling in the Deep"
Best Editing - Adele "Rolling in the Deep"
Best Cinematography - Adele "Rolling in the Deep"

MTV VMA Predictions

Here are my personal predictions for the VMA's. This is not saying much, as it is hard to judge how these will pan out,  but here is my best shot.

Video of the Year - Katy Perry "Firework"
Best Male Video - Cee-Lo "Fuck You"
Best Female Video - Lady Gaga "Born This Way"
Best New Artist - Tyler the Creator "Yonkers"
Best Pop Video - Adele "Rolling in the Deep"
Best Rock Video - Mumford & Sons "The Cave"
Best Hip-Hop Video - Kanye West feat. Rihanna and Kid Cudi "All of the Lights"
Best Collaboration - Katy Perry feat. Kanye West "E.T."
Best Message Video - Lady Gaga "Born This Way"
Best Direction - Rolling in the Deep (Adele)
Best Art Direction - Rolling in the Deep (Adele)
Best Choreography -  Run the World (Beyonce)
Best Cinematography - Rolling in the Deep (Adele)
Best Editing - Rolling in the Deep (Adele)
Best Special Effects - Firework (Katy Perry feat. Kanye West)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

In the opening scene of Guillermo Del Toro and Troy Nixey's Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, we are introduced to the lingering creatures at the mansion of a famous local artist, and their hunger for human bones and teeth, particularly those of children. It is a bone-chilling scene that sets the stage for the modern day, where a young girl Sally (Bailee Madison) comes to live with her father (Guy Pearce), and his girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes), who have been renovating the mansion to make it look like the original. When they stumble upon the basement where the creatures had taken the artist, and previously his beloved son, the monsters that lie beneath began to go after Sally, a lonely, over-medicated girl, who doesn't feel welcome. By offering her friendship, the creatures lure her to open up the grate that keeps them down, therefore unleashing them back into the house after many years. Once Sally realizes these monsters are not really there to be her friend, she begans to warn her father, Kim, and other adults, none of whom believe her. As the film goes on, the creatures get feistier, and more in numbers, and began to result to tricks and attacks in order to capture Sally and fulfill their bloodthirsty hunger.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark may have not been directed by Guillermo Del Toro, but his presence as screenwriter and producer are immensely felt throughout, particularly in terms of the incredibly creepy atmosphere, the references back to old stories of horror and mythology, the beautiful art direction and cinematography, and the reverence for its original source material (and 1973 television movie). However, while del Toro and Nixey may try there best, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark does not excited nor thrill as much as its predecessor, and while there are a few jumps and screams to be had, in the end it turns out simply not to be that scary.

There are however some nice elements, many of which are mentioned above. But there are others. Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, and Bailee Madison all give solid performances that are neither too over the top, nor too understated, and the screenplay is definitely a lot better than 90% of the hackneyed horror films that grace us with their presence every year, although that is not saying much. And as mentioned, the technical aspects of this film are top notch.

But Don't Be Afraid of the Dark suffers from the fact that while it is not a bad movie, it is not a great horror. The creatures are revealed way to early, and then the fear of them quickly disappears. Furthermore, while it initially does well of avoiding horror pitfalls, it quickly starts to embrace some of the overplayed and cliche elements. And while the climax of the film definitely has the markings of a classic horror climax, its effects quickly wear off, and it simply doesn't have enough punch to really make a substantial statement.  Simply put, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark has all the right elements, but its execution of the thrills simply falls flat. The original was horrifying for those who saw it in the 1970's, the remake will not have the same effect.

Grade - C+

Oscar Potential: Some of the technical elements are nice, but I really don't think it has any shot at all.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Rum Diary Trailer

So the new trailer makes The Rum Diary look like a lot of fun, but I'm not sure it is Oscar material or a more modern Pirates. Check it out for yourself, and let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tyrannosaur Trailer

Has really good reviews out of Sundance. Looks intriguing. Check out the trailer below:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Emmy Polls in Sidebar

This week you can vote for Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series, next week I will do all four Drama acting categories, and then in the final week, the series. Enjoy voting! And don't forget to tune in starting September 1st for my Emmy predictions, category by category.

The Artist: Poster

I think this could be a huge contender, if the Academy can get on board with an almost silent film. Here is a beautiful and classy poster:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Carnage Trailer

It looks interesting to say the least, particularly with the incredible cast. But I'm not sure how it will play on screen. Polanski is a creep who deserves jail time, but he makes damn good movies, so I will continue to have high hopes for this film until I hear otherwise.

New Emmy Polls in Sidebar

I apologize for the lack of posts the last couple days. I am in transition going back to school, so I will be off a little longer. For the meantime, enjoy the posts I do get up, as well as the Emmy polls in the sidebar. As previously mentioned, I will start my winner predictions September 1st.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

TIFF 2011 - New Films Enter the Race

There are a couple new films that were announced as additions to the Toronto International Film Festival in a couple of weeks.
  • Winnie, starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard about Winnie Mandela will premeire here. I am not sure how this one will play out. The trailer was less than enthusiastic, and if the filmmakers are afraid to delve into Mandela's dark side, this may not please critics or audiences. Or it could be an epic historical drama that is right up the Academy's alley. We'll have to wait and see.
  • Violet & Davis is the directorial debut for Geoffrey Fletcher who recently won an Oscar for his Precious screenplay. The film stars Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel, as well as James Gandolfini. The cast is great, but being a directorial debut, I am going to caution too much enthusiasm.
  • Also The Awakening, a thriller starring Rebecca Hall, Imelda Staunton, and Dominic West is coming, as well as another British entry, Page Eight starring Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon, and Rachel Weisz, which will close the festival on September 18th.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Top 100 Films of the Last 50 Years (1960-2010): Part VII

40. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) - It is hard to make a film about a cyborg. It is even harder to make a good film about that particular subject. Finally, it is incredibly difficult, to reboot a classic, and then surpass the predecessor in terms of fascination and entertainment. So it is a true testament to the talent and tenacity of the cast and crew of Teriminator 2: Judgment Day that they were able to pull of this impossible task. The real prize or trophy, if you will,  goes to James Cameron. People can hate on him for only doing one movie per decade, or for resulting to schmaltzy and overusing visual effects. But like him or not, Cameron is a master at creating big, bright blockbusters that bend genres, push the technology of film into uncharted territories, and create everlasting screen gems that are just as good twenty years later as they were the first time you saw them. And Terminator 2 is a prime example of what Cameron was great at. It was gritty, exorbantly entertaining, and one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time.

39. Blue Velvet (1986) - David Lynch is quite possibly the strangest and most terrifying director working today (besides maybe Terry Gilliam), but the funny thing is that Lynch doesn't make horror films, well not classified as that anyway, but instead confusing, yet intriguing and dirty films that bend the mind, screw with the audiences' heads, and create a brilliant mess in the process. And there is no better example of Lynch's brilliance than the terrifying 1986 cult classic, Blue Velvet. In a perfect Desperate Housewives-esque suburban world, an underworld of sex and crime shocks a small town, particularly the villanous and incredibly creepy Frank Booth, played to perfection by the late, great Dennis Hopper. But he is not the only member of this uberly talented cast that gives there all, others being Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rosellini, Laura Dern, Dean Stockwell, and many others. But this really boils down to Lynch's vision, which is frightening and yet somehow, this seething and unsettling film manages to stay with you, and makes you think twice about the comforts and safety of our homes and quiet suburban lives.

38. Finding Nemo (2003) - Pixar has made so many incredible films it is hard to narrow them down and put them in order. But 2003's Finding Nemo surely has to be towards the top of the list. It is a vibrant and delightful film, filled with laugh out loud humor, frantic action sequences, and a heart so big, you could probably see it from space. What makes Finding Nemo such a classic is how it can touch people of all ages, sexes, races, etc. It is a film that drew incredibly diverse crowds of people who love Pixar, and love the fact that they can take their kids to a movie that they themselves will also enjoy. Plus it has all the Pixar touches, incredible animation, some wonderful voice acting, and an Academy Award nominated screenplay that is better than 95% of most live action films. People can scoff at animation, claim that it is childish. But I think that films like Finding Nemo prove to all of those naysayers that animation can play hardball in the big leagues, and it brings a pretty heavy bat. Also, on a personal note, Ellen Degeneres' performance as Dori was touching, funny, and yes, worthy of an Oscar nomination.

37. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)- A film set in a mental institution doesn't sound like it would be a completely engrossing and touching, but the story of a young rebel who leads his fellow patients against the brutal dictatorship of Nurse Ratched, is exactly that. Milos Forman's 1975 Academy Award winning classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was definitely worthy of its awards loot, and more importantly is worthy of the eternal place it has in the grand spectrum of American movies. Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher are the perfect winning combo, and their feisty, and energetic battle throughout the whole film sparks a level of acting ability rarely seen in films today. But really, it is the storyline, the underdogs who rise up, the supposedly bad guys turning into the good ones and vice versa, the warmth and touching scenes of friendship that make this one worth your time.

36. Blazing Saddles (1974) - If you are ever in a bad mood, and are looking for a couple of hours of comedic relief, then look no further than Mel Brooks 1974 classic, the wild and hilarious Blazing Saddles. Blazing Saddles is probably one of the rudest, crassest, most wild and crude films that has ever graced the silver screen. And yet, every single time I pop this into my DVD player, I laugh so hard that roll over with stomach pains and wipe my face due to the tears that are streaming down it. Between Mel Brooks as Governor Lepetomane, Gene Wilder's Jim, Cleavon Little's Bart, Alex Karras' Mongo, Slim Picks, Harvey Korman, and most importantly Madeline Kahn, this fanastic and epic comedy is populated with some of the most ridiculous and classic characters that only grow better with time. You add in the zany and wild antics of the unpredictable direction of Mel Brooks, and what you have is a perfect comedy.

35. Alien/Aliens (1979/1986) - I know that putting these two films together is probably not smart considering that on their own they are incredible sci-fi adventures, and that each has its own director. That being said, I find that it is best to watch these films back to back. So I put them together, not because I don't recognize the merits of each, but because it is simply too damn hard to separate them and determine which one is better, so in my infinite wisdom, they tie for the 35th spot. Alien and Aliens are both techinically horror films, but unlike so many today which resort to cheap thrills and gross out gags. Instead, these films engage the viewers with characters that are worthy of actually killing off, and true thrills that shock us, send chills up our spine, but are never trying to hard. In the 1970's and 1980's there were so many great science fiction films that have become forever engrained into American memory. The fact that these two films are still standing and including with others on that great list (like say Star Wars for example) shows just how memorable and thrilling they truly were.

34. Fanny & Alexander (1982) - I'll be completely honest with you, foreign films are not heavy on this list, as you probably have already noticed. It is not that I have a thing against them, I just have a limited access to them in my current hometown, especially older ones. But every video store does us all a favor by housing some of the classics of the great Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. Nominated for nine Academy Awards during his lifetime, Bergman is quite possibly the most influential foreign director on American cinema during the Twentieth Century. And throughout his long and prosperous career, his films, from Wild Strawberries to Cries and Whispers, were thoughtful, intelligent, and pillars of cinematic achievement. But, in my humble opinion, his last film to get an Oscar nod, Fanny and Alexander, which is probably the best example of his talent, and a wonderful film to say the least. It is epic, it is unashamed of its artistic intent, and it works tremendously hard to draw deep and meaningful characters that sharpen and enhance its impeccable story. While I work harder to catch up on my foreign film list, I think ya'll should find a way to see this film. I promise, it will be worth your time.

33. The Wild Bunch (1969) - Westerns range from incredible (The Searchers) to awful (Wild Wild West). Within the last fifty years though there have been some incredible titles, some you have already seen in this list. But none reach the heights of pure Western heaven as Sam Peckinpah's 1969 classic, The Wild Bunch. In many ways, this Western is a lot more fun and interesting than many out there, as the bunch consist of a group of middle-aged men trying to recapture their glory with one last score on the old frontier. It is populated with tons of interesting and deep characters and actors, particularly the stellar performances of William Holden and Ernest Borgnine. But what I like about The Wild Bunch is its message. Its values revolving around friendship, holding on to your history and the past which is why we are all here. More importantly, it represents an easier time, before the turmoil of the Twentieth Century, where these cowboys were able to roam the wild west and do what they please. I am not suggesting anarchy by any means, but it is so much more interesting to see people trying to recapture it, than those that are simply entrenched in it. A winning film indeed.

32. Goodfellas (1990) - Well, its no Godfather, but then again, every crime film that came before and after it has yet to reach its stunning heights. That being said, Goodfellas is still one of the best crime films every created, and represents what makes Martin Scorsese so great extremely well. Featuring the dealings of a mob family, and young boy who rises through the ranks, Goodfellas is a good old-fashioned crime thriller, with all the typical crude and blunt Scorsese-esque dialogue that makes his films so in-your-face and memorable. Plus it is populated with some top notch performances including Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, Lorraine Braco, Paul Sorvino, Frank Vincent, and many many others. But this is Scorsese's baby. It is epic, winding yet comes full circle, full of twists and turns, and with an ending that leaves you only wanting more, yet manages to wrap up the varying storylines like a bow on top of a really great present. And Scorsese giving us this particular adventure into the crime world is a gift indeed.

31. Rosemary's Baby (1968) - I know that some people find Roman Polanski so disgusting that they refuse to watch any of his films. But if you are willing to put aside his personal indiscretions, and are looking for a truly frightening and good old school horror time, then look no further than Polanski's 1968 classic Rosemary's Baby. Unlike some films like The Amityville Horror, which never deliver the thrills they proclaim, this story of a frightening pregnancy delivers the creepy mood and the scares, mostly by relying on its Hitchcock roots. But the reason that this film has received and will continue to receive praise for years to come is not because it managed to be creepy, but instead because it is simply one of the best made films of the last half-century. That is because it has some stunning performances, especially Mia Farrow, and also because the film manages to hit deep, striking a chord of fear in all who dare to view it that stays with them long after they leave the theater. If that isn't a success, I don't know what is.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: The Help

When Meryl Streep won a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2008 for her role in Doubt, she prophetically exclaimed to the audience, "My God! Somebody give her a movie!" She was of course speaking about the magnificently talented Viola Davis. Well, three years later, Davis finally got her movie. And I think I speak for audiences everywhere when I say, it was worth the wait.

Set in 1961 in Jackson, Mississippi, a young college graduate named Skeeter (Emma Stone), defies her overbearing mother (Allison Janey) and gets a job at the Jackson Journal writing an advice column. After talking to a Harper & Row publisher in New York, as well as seeing the injustices that surround her, Skeeter seeks out the advice of a wise maid Aibileen (Viola Davis), who works for her friend Elizabeth (Ahna O' Reilly), and who Skeeter hopes will help her write a book about the maids in Jackson, and their point of views regarding the white folks they work for. Another maid Minny (Octavia Spencer) gets roped in after being fired by the neighborhood debutante, and Skeeter's childhood friend, Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard), and her senile mother (Sissy Spacek), and being hired by a social outcast Celia Foote (Jessica Chastain), who is married to Hilly's ex-boyfriend. When Hilly drafts an initiative to build a colored bathroom in each house, she comes into conflict with Skeeter, who is dealing with the loss of her own childhood maid Constantine (Cicely Tyson). When the book is published, especially with the awful, terrible thing that Minny did hidden within its pages, all hell breaks loose, and the fabric of a quiet, segregated town starts to change.

The Help is quite possibly one of the most inviting, entertaining, and emotional films of the year. Anchored by steady direction, a faithful adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's hit book, and an incredible cast, The Help is also one of the best films of the summer. Tate Taylor and Kathryn Stockett are good friends, and the respect that Taylor has for Stockett's work is on display throughout the entire film, as he has captured not only the story, but the heart and soul of her work to a tee.

However, the reason The Help was such a satisfying film experience is the wonderful and talented cast. The three leads, Emma Stone, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer carry the weight of the film, and Stone and Spencer's humor provides plenty of laughs. But the real revelation is Davis, who is steady, emotional, and simply stunning as Aibileen, and if there is any justice in this world, she will be nominated for an Academy Award. For that matter, Spencer and Stone should get looks from AMPAS as well. But they are not the only characters that provide depth and passion to this project. Bryce Dallas Howard is vicious as Hilly, and Jessica Chastain is simply perfect and perky as Celia Foote. Veterans Allison Janey and Sissy Spacek also add humor, and make their few scenes worth it, Janney playing a protective mother perfectly, and Spacek making the crowd roar with laughter every scene she is in.

But despite my praise, I could see how some people may not be the biggest fans of The Help, as it can be pat in moments, and its resolution, like the book's is far from clear. However, those critics who have bashed it as another white-people-saving-black-people kind of book, I think are sorely mistaken. As much as Skeeter helps put their views on paper, it is the maids that show the true courage, that stand up in a time of injustice, and who end up helping Skeeter as much as she helps them. The black female characters in this movie were so strong and so brave, that I find it hard to believe that some people are bashing their characters as stereotypes, or bashing the actors for supposedly belittiling black achievement by playing maids.

Criticisms and controversy aside, The Help overcomes any potential issues to become a truly winning film, that literally had the members of the audience cheering and rolling in the aisles with laughter. As I walked out of the theater I had this warm feeling of joy, mostly due to the talented cast and the passion that was put into this film. Simply put, I loved it, I was completely entertained, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to take a break from loud sci-fi adventures or raunchy comedies, and simply wants to enjoy an empowering and wonderful film.

Grade: A

Oscar Potential - I truly think that even though critics will dodge it, the Producers and the Actors will probably love it, and if it gets placed in the Comedy/Musical category at the Globes, it could win a lot of support - Picture, Director, Actress (Stone), Supporting Actress (Davis), Supporting Actress (Spencer), Supporting Actress (Chastain), Supporting Actress (Howard), Supporting Actress (Spacek), Supporting Actress (Janney), Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Costume Design, Art Direction, Makeup, Cinematography.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

We Need to Talk About Kevin Poster

I'm not going to lie, this poster scares the crap out of me. It is eerie, creepy, and superbly effective. This could be an interesting contender as this season plays out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Emmy Polls in Sidebar

This week's polls are for Best Guest Actor and Actress in a Drama Series. Take your best shot at a prediction, these two are particularly tough to pick!

Take This Waltz Teaser Trailers

Here are some teaser trailers for Sarah Polley's latest Take This Waltz. A couple of thoughts. I love Michelle Williams, but need to see a lot more from Seth Rogen for his to prove that he is worthy of starring opposite such a fantastic actress. Sarah Silverman looks great as well, and the film definitely has a nice indie drama vibe that makes me think it could be an underground dark horse contender this year. Here are the clips:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

J. Edgar Skips Toronto and New York Film Festivals

One of the most buzzed projects of the year is J. Edgar, Clint Eastwoods biopic starring Leonardo Dicaprio, Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas, Armie Hammer, Judi Dench, and others. Most films with this amount of buzz hit Toronto, or NY Film Festival or both. However, apparently J. Edgar's team has decided to skip both of them and go straight to wide release (well limited release two days before). Either they think that it is not going to be as good as it is proposed to be, or they think it is going to do well enough at the box office that it doesn't need the festivals to get a boost. Either way, we'll have to wait until October to see how this one does. It could be another Invictus, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it means that it might not have staying power. Eastwood is hit and miss, so we'll simply have to see.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Teen Choice Awards 2011: Winners

Ultimate Choice Award: Taylor Swift
Choice Sci-Fi Actor: Taylor Lautner
Choice Movie Actor (Comedy): Ashton Kutcher
Choice Comedian: Ellen DeGeneres
Choice Sci-Fi Movie Actor: Taylor Lautner
Choice TV Actress (Drama): Blake Lively
Choice TV Drama: "Gossip Girl"
Choice Movie Scene Stealers: Kellan Lutz and Ashley Greene
Choice Actress in a Romantic Comedy: Emma Stone ("Easy A")
Choice Athlete: Shaun White
Choice Hottie, Choice TV Actress (Comedy), Choice Music Group, Choice Music Single, Choice Love Song: Selena Gomez
Choice TV Actress (Comedy): Miley Cyrus
Choice Movie Hissy Fit: Ed Helms ("Hangover 2″)
Choice Sci-Fi TV Show: "Vampire Diaries"
Choice TV Show (Comedy): "Glee"
Choice TV Comedy Actor: Cory Monteith
Choice TV Comedy Breakout Star: Darren Criss
Choice Action Movie: "Fast Five"
Choice Action Stars: Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie ("The Tourist")
Choice Music Stars of the Summer: Bruno Mars and Katy Perry
Choice Reality Show: "Jersey Shore"
Choice Reality Star: Pauly D
Choice Country Star, Choice Female Artist, Choice Country Single, Choice Break-up Song, Choice
Fashion Icon: Taylor Swift
Choice Movie Actress (Comedy): Cameron Diaz ("Bad Teacher")
Choice Web Star: Rebecca Black
Choice "Inspire" Award, Choice Song of the Summer: Demi Lovato
Choice Male Artist, Choice TV Villain, Choice Twit: Justin Bieber ("CSI")
Choice Vampire: Robert Pattinson
Choice Movie Actor (Drama): Robert Pattinson
Choice Movie Liplock: Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson ("Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows Part 1")

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The King's Speech is Coming to Broadway

So I'm not going to say that this is 100% sure, but rumor has it from many sources that the recent Best Picture winner, The King's Speech is coming to Broadway in the Fall of 2012. I don't know how they will replace Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, or Helena Bonham Carter, but it could be an interesting saga to say the least.

Television Critics Association Award Winners

Some of the picks are whatever, but the love for Friday Night Lights made me extremely giddy. Check out all the winners below:

Individual Achievement in Drama: Jon Hamm (“Mad Men,” AMC)
Individual Achievement in Comedy: Ty Burrell (“Modern Family,” ABC) and Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation,” NBC)
Outstanding Achievement in News and Information:“Restrepo” (National Geographic Channel)
Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming: “Amazing Race” (CBS)
Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming: “Sesame Street” (PBS)
Outstanding New Program: “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials: “Masterpiece: Sherlock” (PBS)
Outstanding Achievement in Drama: “Mad Men” (AMC)
Outstanding Achievement in Comedy: “Modern Family” (ABC)
Career Achievement Award: Oprah Winfrey
Heritage Award: “The Dick Van Dyke Show"
Program of the Year: “Friday Night Lights” (DirecTV/NBC)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Desperate Housewives to End in May

I know that most people have given up on Desperate Housewives. It started off with such promise, and while it has a few twists each year which still work, it has mostly become an exercise in futility. Well, instead of continuing to drag on and watch its ratings dip, Marc Cherry and ABC have decided that this season, the show's eighth, will in fact be its last. I hope they make it worth their time, and more importantly, I hope the uberly talented cast will continue to find work in television.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Week With Marilyn to Debit at NYFF

We already knew that Carnage would be opening the New York Film Festival. But the festival just got a lot more interesting. On October 9th, at the festival, My Week With Marilyn, the new biopic directed by Simon Curtis (who is making his film debut, but has some nice television credits), and starring Michelle Williams as Monroe, and others including Emma Watson, Toby Jones, Kenneth Branagh, Dominic Cooper, and Judi Dench, will make its debut. I am intrigued by this project and think it could be an Oscar nominated performance for Williams.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Emmy Polls in Sidebar

I will be posting a new poll (or polls) each week in the sidebar leading up to Emmys, so that all of you have a chance to voice your opinions regarding who you think will win this year's Emmy Awards. Check them out!

GLAAD's Annual Network Responsbility Ratings

This is an interesting index that measures the amount of gay and transgendered characters on their programs. This year the CW came out on top, and A&E and TBS got failing grades. Here is the entire list:

Ranking of the Broadcast Networks, 2010-2011
1. The CW, 33 percent – Good
2. Fox, 29 percent – Good
3. ABC, 23 percent – Good
4. NBC, 15 percent – Adequate
5. CBS, 10 percent – Adequate

Ranking of Cable Networks
1. ABC Family, 55 percent – Excellent
2. Showtime, 37 percent – Good
3. TNT, 33 percent – Good
4. HBO, 31 percent – Good
5. AMC, 29 percent – Good
6. Syfy, 22 percent – Good
7. FX, 19 percent – Adequate
8. USA, 18 percent – Adequate
9. A&E, 5 percent – Failing
10. TBS, 5 percent – Failing

Honorary Oscars Announced

This is the official announcement from the Academy:

"The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted tonight to present Honorary Awards to actor James Earl Jones and makeup artist Dick Smith and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to philanthropist Oprah Winfrey. All three awards will be presented at the Academy’s 3rd Annual Governors Awards dinner on Saturday, November 12, at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center®."

So the rumors of Oprah hosting are probably mute, but at least the hunch that they had something planned for her was correct. I am pretty excited about James Earl Jones finally getting some Academy recognition.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Coppola's Twixt: Trailer

Francis Ford Coppola is back on the scene with his latest film festival entry Twixt. So far it is the strangest and most uncovential trailer I have seen all year, and I'm not sure what to make of it. I appreciate that Coppola is still pushing the boundaries of film with experimental ideas, and while this trailer is slow and odd, I'm still intrigued. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

The Good Wife Season 3 Poster

First of all thanks to Entertainment Weekly for posting this new poster for the third season of The Good Wife. As Emmy voters are making their decision, this may boost the series with its sexiness. Furthermore, it hypes up the anticipation to see what will happen between Alicia and Will.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Like Crazy Trailer

This Sundance hit got good reviews and strong buzz for both Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin, as well as the film as a whole. Could be the sleeper hit of the season. Check out the trailer below:

Top 100 Films of the Last 50 Years (1960-2010): Part VI

50. Forrest Gump (1994)- Some say this film is too schmaltzy, some say its too long, and even more say it is the most unrealistic look at the second half of the twentieth century ever put on the silver screen. But while haters were out there bashing it, it quickly became an American classic, that beautifully tells the story of one of the most inspirational characters in film history. Tom Hanks had already won an Oscar (the year before) when Forrest Gump was released, but it was this film that truly cemented his status as a bonafide movie star with talent, charisma, and the ability to transport an audience to a different time. But Hanks wasn't alone. Robert Zemeckis and Eric Roth craft a beautiful story, which was wonderfully shot, and makes us forget that the film is three hours long. Combine into that a hunk of emotion and humor, some wonderful supporting actors such as Sally Field, Gary Sinise, and Robin Wright, and Forrest Gump is an epic journey of love and life which has become forever cemented in film history as one of the greats.

49. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) - To this day, Hannibal Lecter remains one of the scariest and most vile villians that has ever graced the silver screen, and ironically in this iconic film, he is in a jail cell the whole time. This shows the endearing power of Anthony Hopkins' Oscar-winning performance that he could convey an unbelievable amount of fear simply through his stories. But Hopkins was not the only revelation in this modern horror classic, which cleaned up five Academy Awards including Best Picture. Jodie Foster was phenomenal, and Jonathan Demme's direction was clear, consise, and perfectly captured the mood and suspense, all the while allowing the cast to do its thing without interruptions. Another part that is often forgotten is Ted Levine who was sadistic and mean as Buffalo Bill and held his own ground against Hopkins. It takes a lot for the Academy to swoon over what is basically a horror film, which says a lot about the quality of this film.

48. Terms of Endearment (1983) - James L. Brooks is a master at comedy, but in 1983, his Academy Award winning film Terms of Endearment showed all of us, that not only could be make us laugh, but more importantly, could pull at our heartstrings and make us all bawl like a baby. The tender and emotional script, combined with Brooks minimalistic direction allowed the incredible cast to develop these well-drawn real human characters. Jack Nicholson is quiet and emotional, a side that is not often seen from him, but one that was welcomed. Debra Winger held her own against veterans, and was emotional and played a cancer-stricken mother with power and strength. But the real revelation here was Shirley MacLaine. She was funny at the right moments, and powerful and shockingly emotional at others, creating a perfect balance and a well-drawn character that showcases the fear and the strength that all mothers must go through when facing the death of their child.

47. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) - Indiana Jones is one of the most important and memorable characters in film history, and that is thanks to the creation of this professor with some ass-kicking abilities by none other than the legends themselves: Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford. And while all of the Indiana Jones have been thrilling adventures, none have matched the soaring heights that were reached with the 1981 classic, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Action-adventure movies tend to be too heavy on thrills, and lacking on story and quality acting, but Raiders of the Lost Ark fortunately does not fall into that already too filled category. Instead it is a fast-paced adventure ride that fully develops its characters, features a winning performance from Ford and the entire cast, and it proved that Steven Spielberg was not simply a science-fiction nerd, but could make quality movies of many different genres. Plus it launched a film series which has become one of the most popular and celebrated of all time.

46. No Country For Old Men (2007) - This is the film that the Academy chose to finally honor the Coens with the awards glory they so richly deserve, even though it its their second best film (See below). Featuring zinging performances, beautiful direction, and a taut script, No Country For Old Men was a winning and thrilling cat and mouse game that kept the audience on the edge of their seats for the entire run time. Of course one of the true revelations here was the incredible Javier Bardem, whose Anton instantly became one of the most evil and fascinating villains in movie history. He was quiet, serene, and just when you least expect, deadly, a chilling profile for an unstoppable killer. However, the reason that the film worked was its simplicity. Yes it had broader metaphors layered underneath its exterior, but in terms of the action, the script, the storyline, there wasn't a lot of dialogue or fancy editing that shifted scenes wildly back and forth like most action films. Instead the Coens opted for a quiet yet tense film that never overstayed its welcome. A winning idea to say the least.

45. Wall-E (2008) - Silent movies were all the rage in the early days of film, then in 1927, The Jazz Singer revolutioned sound, and silent movies became a thing of the past. Then in 2008, the adventurous and visionary studio Pixar created another film which was almost silent (not quite but for a a good portion it was), about a tiny robot in a furturistic world. Despite a lack of much dialogue, Wall-E became not only an instant Pixar classic, but an instant classic period. It captivated audiences of all ages, engaged them with intelligence and wit, and also made a broader importnat statement about the human impact on the environment. Maybe the best part however, was how simple it was, how ingenous it was to push the boundaries of what people thought was possible in terms of film. Who would have thought that an almost silent movie would be popular in 2008? Apparently Pixar did, and we are all happier that they took the risk.

44. Fight Club (1999) - I like the new David Fincher, but I am happy he is tackling The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, because it could be an opportunity for him to get back to his roots as a dark and twisted film director whose intensity is only matched by his talent. If you are looking for an example of what I am talking about, then look no further than his 1999 cult classic, Fight Club. When two guys (well sort of), decide to start an underground fight club in order to escape from the droll reality they live in, chaos ensues, and a world of sex, violence, and crime escalates to a stunning and shocking climax. Fincher definitely showcases his talent as a director, perfectly creating his two alter egos, capturing the dark mood, yet still moving at a quick enough pace to keep the movie going. Ed Norton and Brad Pitt, who share most of the screen time give electrifying performances, particularly Norton, who seems to have a knack for playing crazy. But beyond all that, Fight Club is today considered one of the greatest cult classics not because of good performances or excelled directing, but because it has a fervent fan base that recognized its genius before the rest of the world, and helped propel this movie to eternal life.

43. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) - In the aftermath of World War II, the Nuremberg trials were some of the most intense acts of judicial process that had ever occured. And thanks to the talent of the great Stanley Kramer, these trials were brilliantly placed on the screen in the 1961 classic, Judgment at Nuremberg. Featuring the trials of four Nazi judges in the aftermath of the war, this film was probably one of the important and eye opening to come out in the 1960's. It is beautifully shot, incredibly intense, and more importantly displays the horrors (in some cases the actual footage), which allowed many viewers to not only go back to that horrific time, but see the mad men who carried out Hitler's orders get the judgment they deserved. But it is not simply a film of importance, it is also an incredible dramatic exercise featuring  turns from the likes of Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Judy Garland, Maximilian Schell, Marlene Dietrich, and Montgomery Clift, and a wildly entertaining and shocking story that made people think and reflect. A true feat indeed.

42. Brazil (1985) - Terry Gilliam is weird. There is really no other way to put it other than weird. His films are a blurry mix of reality and fantasy, making broader statements while wowing us with strange, yet vibrant visuals. And in 1985, Gilliam's Brazil showed how he was never been weirder, or better. Based in a retrofuture world, brilliantly shot in black and white for a contrast, Gilliam's story of bureaucratic revenge and an all-powerful state was an almost perfect vision of what George Orwell had predicted so many years ago. While not appreciated much upon its release, in hindsight, we can all look back and praise Gilliam for bending the mold, for being a visionary. It didn't hurt that he had Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Bob Hoskins, and others in his corner, all going along for the ride. But in the end this is Gilliam's baby, and his creation is one that will not soon be forgotten.

41. Fargo (1996)- I am still befuddled at the fact that the weepy overrated English Patient beat out this dark classic for Best Picture. Sure it is a little chaotic, and some of the hacked dialogue appears clunky, but that is exactly what the Coens had in mind. None of their films are perfectly laid out with smooth transitions and perfect endings. They are messy, the good guys are not that likeable and the bad guys are not that hated, and that is exactly what they had in mind. That is also why we love Fargo so much, because it is probably the most chaotic, the most insane, and definitely the best the Coens have ever offered their audiences. What I liked best about Fargo is just how funny it was. Layred underneath levels of darkness, murder, and crime, lies a comedy that takes a lot of attention and a lot careful digging to find hidden beneath its exterior. Thanks to the talents of Steve Buscemi, William H. Macy, and especially Frances McDormand, the Coens vision comes alive, and we can't thank them enough.