Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2012 Grammy Nominations

Album of the Year
Adele "21"
Foo Fighters "Wasting Light"
Lady Gaga "Born this Way"
Bruno Mars "Doo Wops and Hooligans"
Rihanna "Loud"

Record of the Year
Adele "Rolling in the Deep"
Bon Iver "Holocene"
Bruno Mars "Grenade"
Katy Perry "Firework"
Mumford & Sons "The Cave"

Song of the Year
Adele "Rolling in the Deep"
Bon Iver "Holocene"
Bruno Mars "Grenade"
Mumford & Sons "The Cave"
Kanye West "All of the Lights"

Best New Artist
The Band Perry
Bon Iver
J. Cole
Nicki Minaj

Best Pop Solo Performance
Adele "Someone Like You"
Lady Gaga "You and I"
Bruno Mars "Grenade"
Katy Perry "Firework"
P!nk "Fuckin' Perfect"

Best Pop/Duo Group Performance
Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse "Body and Soul"
The Black Keys "Dearest"
Coldplay "Paradise"
Foster the People "Pumped Up Kicks"
Maroon 5 & Christina Aguilera "Moves Like Jagger"

Best Pop Vocal Album
Adele "21"
Cee Lo Green "The Lady Killer"
Lady Gaga "Born This Way"
Bruno Mars "Doo-Wops & Hooligans"
Rihanna "Loud"

Best Rock Performance
Coldplay "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall"
The Decemberists "Down By the Water"
Foo Fighters "Walk"
Mumford & Sons "The Cave"
Radiohead "Lotus Flower"

Best Rock Song
Mumford & Sons "The Cave"
Colin Meloy "Down By the Water"
Coldplay "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall"
Radiohead "Lotus Flower"
Foo Fighters "Walk"

Best Rock Album
Jeff Beck "Rock 'N' Roll Party Honoring Les Paul"
Kings of Leon "Come Around Sundown"
Red Hot Chili Peppers "I'm With You"
Foo Fighters "Wasting Light"
Wilco "The Whole Love"

Best Alternative Music Album
Bon Iver "Bon Iver"
Death Cab for Cutie "Codes and Keys"
Foster the People "Torches"
My Morning Jacket "Circuital"
Radiohead "The King of Limbs"

Best R&B Performance
Marsha Ambrosius "Far Away"
Ledisi "Pieces of Me"
Kelly Price & Stokley "Not My Daddy"
Corinne Bailey Rae "In This Love"
Charlie Wilson "You Are"

Best R&B Song
Marsha Ambrosius "Far Away"
Cee Lo Green "Fool For You"
Kelly Price "Not My Daddy"
Ledisi "Pieces of Me"
Charlie Wilson "You Are"

Best R&B Album
Chris Brown "F.A.M.E."
El Debarge "Second Chance"
R. Kelly "Love Letter"
Ledisi "Pieces of Me"
Kelly Price "Kelly"

Best Rap Performance
Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, & Busta Rhymes "Look At Me Now"
Jay-Z & Kanye West "Otis"
Lupe Fiasco "The Show Goes On"
Nicki Minaj & Drake "Moment 4 Life"
Wiz Khalifa "Black and Yellow"

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
Beyonce & Andre 3000 "Party"
DJ Khaled, Drake, Rick Ross, & Lil Wayne "I'm On One"
Dr. Dre, Eminem, & Skylar Grey "I Need a Doctor"
Rihanna & Drake "What's My Name?"
Kelly Rowland & Lil Wayne "Motivation"
Kanye West, Rihanna, & Kid Cudi "All of the Lights"

Best Rap Song
All of the Lights
Black and Yellow
I Need a Doctor
Look At Me Now
The Show Goes On

Best Rap Album
Jay-Z & Kanye West "Watch the Throne"
Lil Wayne "Tha Carter IV"
Lupe Fiasco "Lasers"
Nicki Minaj "Pink Friday"
Kanye West "My Beautiful Dark and Twisted Fantasy"

Best Country Solo Performance
Jason Aldean "Dirt Road Anthem"
Martina McBride "I'm Gonna Love You Through It"
Blake Shelton "Honey Bee"
Taylor Swift "Mean"
Carrie Underwood "Mama's Song"

Best Country/Duo Performance
Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson "Don't You Wanna Stay"
Kenny Chesney feat. Grace Potter "You and Tequila"
The Civil Wars "Barton Hollow"
Thompson Square "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not"

Best Country Song
Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not (Thompson Square)
God Gave Me You (Blake Shelton)
Just Fishin (Trace Atkins)
Mean (Taylor Swift)
Threaten Me With Heaven (Vince Gill)
You and Tequilla (Kenny Chesney feat. Grace Potter)

Best Country Album
Jason Aldean "My Kinda Party"
Eric Church "Chief"
Lady Antebellum "Own the Night"
George Strait "Here For a Good Time"
Blake Shelton "Red River Blue"
Taylor Swift "Speak Now"

Final Grammy Predictions

Album of the Year
Adele "21"
Tony Bennett "Duets II"
Lady Gaga "Born This Way"
Taylor Swift "Back to December"
Kanye West "My Beautiful Dark and Twisted Fantasy"

Commentary - I would say that Tony Bennett could be replaced by Paul Simon, Taylor Swift by Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, or Brad Paisley, and Bruno Mars, Foo Fighters and other previous Grammy winners are ones to watch out for. But honestly, these five seem to be the growing consensus, which means probably only 3 or 4 will actually get it. The one to look for a drop is Kanye West. There is still a lot bad taste after some of his indiscretions, but hopefully the Grammys see past this and give him a deserved nomination, or at least get Watch the Throne, a lesser ,but still deserving work. Also watch out for Nicki Minaj, good reviews, great sales, and enough radio play to outshine even the best, she could be completely embraced by the Recording Academy.

Record of the Year
Adele "Rolling in the Deep"
Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson "Don't You Wanna Stay"
Tony Bennet and Lady Gaga "The Lady is a Tramp"
Nicki Minaj "Super Bass"
Katy Perry "Firework"

Commentary - I know that Bruno Mars will probably get in here, but I am personally excluding him because Grenade is such a cringe-worthy song, I hope the Grammys notice and exclude him. I also think that Foster the People could easily get in, but it's hard to predict whether the Grammys will embrace a new artist or not. So we know that Adele and Perry are the top two contenders for their mammoth hits. Lady Gaga did not submit Born This Way, and will regret it, but there is a possibility that the Recording Academy kills two birds with one stone and gets Tony in the mix with Lady is a Tramp. There is usually a country nominee, and Aldean is performing, so expect him to come away with at least one big nomination, a duo with Kelly Clarkson seems like a good possibility. Finally, there has been a rap nominee most years, and with some strong entries in the Album of the Year category from top rap artists, there is probably going to be at least one Record of the Year nod. Watch the Throne never took off with any singles (The album did well as a whole though), and while I would personally like All of the Lights to be nominated,  I am going out on a limb to say that the infectious monster-hit Super Bass, by newcomer Nicki Minaj steals the spotlight.

Song of the Year
Adele "Rolling in the Deep"
Bruno Mars "Grenade"
Mumford & Sons "The Cave"
Taylor Swift "Back to December"
Kanye West "All of the Lights"

Commentary - Let's be honest, I never get Song of the Year right, and there is always an oddball choice that throws everyone off. I know what I said about Mars, but people think he is a good songwriter, as they do about Swift, so probably both get in here, even if neither get Record of the Year nominations. My outside choice is Mumford & Sons, which I am personally rooting for. I think You and I, and All of the Lights should be in there. So while because I think Gaga should have submitted a different song, I am going with All of the Lights. Watch out for Katy Perry though. Oh and of course, Adele is in.

Best New Artist
The Band Perry
Bon Iver
Foster the People
Jessie J
Nicki Minaj

Commentary - This one is also always so tough, but this year, I think it is safe to say that Nicki, Foster, Band Perry, and Bon Iver all have really good shots. Civil Wars and Tyler the Creator are top picks, but they have bigger acts in their own categories ahead of them. Also, there is usually a British act in the mix, so I am going with Jessie J, who had bigger hits than Ellie Golding, who could still get in though. Also watch out for Hot Chelle Rae, J. Cole, and Christina Perri.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

State of the Race: Post NYFCC and Indie Spirit Nods

Today a lot of information was thrown at us with the NYFCC winners and Indie Spirit Nods. So what did we learn from all this as the Oscar race proceeds?

They just had to jump the gun. Then they had to push back to see Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Then it won nothing. I pretty sure that even if they had done the same for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close that it too would have been an exercise in futility. But alas, they did get their opinions in first, and to be honest, there was nothing surprising or shocking about the winners, although there were some nice notices. I think that the NYFCC wanted to get in first, in the hopes that their picks, all big time Oscar contenders this year, will start the slow march towards Oscar. They wanted to be trendsetters. And their choices are so far in the box, that they all could legitimately win. That being said,  I was very happy with the acting/screenplay awards. Meryl winning wasn't too big of a shock, as they love her. But Brad Pitt getting the lead actor over Jean Dujardin and George Clooney shows that he is a force to be reckoned with. Then when Moneyball won the screenplay award, it was proof that despite being quiet since its release, that people have not forgotten about the film, and it could be a dark horse this year. The supporting races put two people who were on the map, really on the map as Albert Brooks and Jessica Chastain took home the prizes. For Chastain, she won for three films, which is going to be her problem all season (She also got an Indie Spirit Nod for Take Shelter). I still think that The Help is her best shot as it has a perfect blend of both drama and comedy. The Tree of Life (which included Chastain and Pitt, as well as cinematography) also had a nice showing, but I still think the Academy will shy away from it. Then The Artist, not surprisingly, won Director and Picture, as it begins what I believe will be a very rewarding journey through the critics circuit. While The Descendants struck out here compeltely, I think that it, and maybe Moneyball will be the big three in terms of critics awards, with The Tree of Life hot on their heels. These awards of course are the first of many, but they prove that some of our suspicions regarding the films and performances on the Oscar track are true.

Indie Spirit Nominations
I personally love these nominations, although the exclusion of Clooney is shocking, but he will still get an Oscar nomination. But I personally love the nods for Drive, 50/50, Rachel Harris, Corey Stoll, Angelica Huston, and Jessica Chastain. Midnight in Paris and Glenn Close were also excluded, which may be surprising to some, but Albert Nobbs is not getting great reception. But the Academy will love the power of Close, where as Indie Spirits are more selective based on the quality of the film. Honestly, the Indie Spirits purposely don't try to influence the Oscars, but the press from them does keep films in the minds of voters. So all the recognition for these films looking for Oscar should appreciate the exposure.

Indepedent Spirit Award Nominations

Best Film
The Artist
The Descendants
Take Shelter

Best Director
Mike Mills, Beginners
Nichols Winding Refn, Drive
Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter
Michael Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Best First Feature
Another Earth
In the Family
Margin Call
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Natural Selection

Best Actor
Demian Bichar, A Better Life
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Ryan Gosling, Drive
Woody Harrelson, Rampart
Michael Shannon, Take Shelter

Best Actress
Lauren Ambrose, Think of Me
Rachel Harris, Natural Selection
Adepero Oduye, Pariah
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Best Supporting Actor
Albert Brooks, Drive
John Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
John C. Reilly, Cedar Rapids
Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris

Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter
Anjelica Huston, 50/50
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Harmony Santana, Gun Hill Road
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

Best Screenplay
Joseph Cedar, Footnote
Michael Hazanvicius, The Artist
Tom McCarthy, Win Win
Mike Mills, Beginners
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rasch, The Descendants

Best First Screenplay
Mike Cahill and Brit Marling, Another Earth
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Patrick DeWitt, Terri
Phil Jonhston, Cedar Rapids
Will Reiser, 50/50

Best International Film
A Separation
The Kid With a Bike

Best Documentary Feature
An African Selection
Bill Cunningham New York
The Interrupters
The Redemption of General Butt Naked
We Were Here

Best Cinematography
Joel Hodge, Bellflower
Benjamin Kuh-Sulk, The Off Hours
Darius Kond-Jee, Midnight in Paris
Guillamme Shiffman, The Artist
Jeffrey Waldron, The Dynamiter

John Cassavettes Award (Made For Under $500,000)
Hello Lonesome
The Dynamiter

New York Film Critics Circle - Winners

Well after hours of anticipation, the NFYCC has finally announced all of its winners. I will write a post-game anaylsis from this and the Indie Spirit Nominations (in the post above), and its affect on the Oscar Race.

Best Picture - The Artist
Best Director - Michel Hazanavicius "The Artist"
Best Screenplay - Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin "Moneyball"
Best Actor - Brad Pitt "Moneyball" and "The Tree of Life"
Best Actress - Meryl Streep "The Iron Lady"
Best Supporting Actor - Albert Brooks "Drive"
Best Supporting Actress - Jessica Chastain for "The Tree of Life", "The Help", and "Take Shelter"
Best Nonfiction Film - Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Best Foreign Language Film - A Separation
Best First Feature - Margin Call
Best Cinematography - Emmanuel Lubezki for "Tree of Life"
Special Award - Raoul Ruiz

Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 Gotham Award Winners

The Tree of Life winning was not surprising at all, but the love for Beginners gives me hope that Christopher Plummer can really ride the wave all the way to the Oscars. Tomorrow we have the NYFCC!

Best Feature - TIE The Tree of Life and Beginners
Best Documentary - Better This World, directed by Kelly Duane and Katie Galloway
Best Ensemble Performance - Beginners
Breakthrough Actor - Felicity Jones "Like Crazy"
Best Film Not Playing in a Theater Near You - Scenes of a Crime, directed by Blue Hadaegh & Grover Babcock
Audience Choice Award - Girlfriend, directed by Justin Lerner
Breakthrough Director - Dee Rees "Pariah"

New Golden Globe Poll in Sidebar

First, I have continually updated by Oscar Predictions in the sidebar. Also, check out the new poll for the packed race for Best Motion Picture - Drama at the Golden Globes and make your picks for who you think will be nominated!

State of the Race - First Winner Predictions

It occured to me that all this talk about who will be nominated, and never any thought of who could actually win this race. So here is my first shot in the dark at who I think will win at this point. This is of course is really an exercise in futility, as things can change at any moment, but still an interesting look at the race.

Best Picture
The Descendants

Best Director
Alexander Payne "The Descendants"

Best Actor
George Clooney "The Descendants"

Best Actress
Viola Davis "The Help"

Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer "Beginners"

Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer "The Help"

Best Original Screenplay
Woody Allen "Midnight in Paris"

Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash "The Descendants"

Best Animated Feature

Best Art Direction

Best Cinematography
War Horse

Best Costume Design
The Artist

Best Film Editing
War Horse

Best Makeup
The Iron Lady

Best Original Score
John Williams "War Horse"

Best Original Song
"Star Spangled Man" from Captain America

Best Sound Mixing
War Horse

Best Sound Editing
The Adventures of Tintin

Best Visual Effects
Rise of the Planet of the Apes

State of the Race: November Predictions - Best Picture

November Predictions
The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
War Horse

Other Contenders - Young Adult, The Tree of Life, The Ides of March, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, J. Edgar, Rango, My Week With Marilyn, We Bought a Zoo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Shame, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Take Shelter, The Adventures of Tintin,  A Dangerous Method, Super 8

Commentary - Well, I held out on Young Adult for as long as I could, but unless it gets some big critical boosts, I think it will be on the outside looking in this year. A shame to say the least. That being said, I am currently going with 8 nominees, thinking that that will be the maximum number this year (and any subsequent years with this new system). War Horse has finally been screened, and while some cynical critics will be against it, but all indicators suggest that the Academy will go head over heels for it. Extremely Loud is the last big film (Dragon Tattoo is being screened today by NYFCC), to be screened by any critics, and I will not doubt Stephen Daldry until the nominations are announced (I learned my lesson with The Reader). Optimism seems to be a big hit this year (See Award Daily article), and just looking at feel-good films like The Help, The Artist, and Moneyball all still holding steady. Another feel-good movie has shot up the rankings, as Hugo's critical response means it could be a huge factor in this year's race. The Descendants is heartbreaking and funny, and could be this year's critical favorite, along the The Artist. Finally, I am sticking with Midnight in Paris, as it seems to a film that has not been quickly forgotten among Academy members.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

State of the Race: November Predictions - Best Director

November Predictions
Stephen Daldry "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
Michel Hazanavicius "The Arist"
Bennett Miller "Moneyball"
Alexander Payne "The Descendants"
Steven Spielberg "War Horse"

Other Contenders - Woody Allen "Midnight in Paris", Terrence Malick "The Tree of Life",  Martin Scorsese "Hugo", Tate Taylor "The Help", David Fincher "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", George Clooney "The Ides of March", Tomas Alfredson "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", Jason Reitman "Young Adult", Steve McQueen "Shame"

Commentary - If the top three films at this point are Moneyball, The Artist, and The Descendants, then surely Michel Hazanavicius, Bennett Miller, and Alexander Payne are sure to be in contention for the director's race. And since War Horse has finally hit the circuit, it seems as if the heartstrings of the Academy will be pulled by Steven Spielberg once again. It is that last slot at this moment that is a little tricky. Woody Allen has a sure-fire hit with Midnight in Paris, but his refusal to campaign may make him get lost in the shuffle. Terrence Malick will have a lot of support but in this stacked category, I don't think he can make the cut. Martin Scorsese has zoomed up the rankings with Hugo being so popular, and I think he is a serious threat. David Fincher, Jason Reitman, and George Clooney all need boosts for their films. So I am going with Stephen Daldry, as he has yet to not be nominated. It is hard to argue with that track record.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

State of the Race: November Predictions - Best Actor

Best Actor
George Clooney "The Descendants"
Jean DuJardin "The Artist"
Michael Fassbender "Shame"
Gary Oldman "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
Brad Pitt "Moneyball"

Other Contenders - Woody Harrelson "Rampart", Leonardo Dicaprio "J. Edgar", Michael Shannon "Take Shelter", Ryan Gosling "The Ides of March", Ryan Gosling "Drive", Tom Hardy "Warrior", Paul Giamatti "Win Win", Ralph Fiennes "Coriolanus", Demian Bichir "A Better Life", Asa Butterfield "Hugo", Thomas Horn "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", Joseph Gordon-Levitt "50/50", Owen Wilson "Midnight in Paris"

Commentary - This race has less competition than some of the other races, but there are still a couple of top contenders emerging. George Clooney seems to be in the lead as he is getting the best reviews of his career, and what couldn't put him over the edge with Up in the Air was his lack of emotion, and The Descandants certaintly can fix that problem. Right on his heels is the star of the underdog The Artist, Jean Dujardin who is simply fantastic in the film. Finally, I think Brad Pitt is in a solid third for his incredible performance in Moneyball, like his friend Clooney, he seems to be getting career-best reviews. Beyond those though there seems to be some confusion. I will firmly keep Gary Oldman in this race until precursors tell me otherwise, but the film needs to get some new buzz in order for it to really happen. In the final slot, I had kept Leonardo Dicaprio. But J. Edgar is simply not getting any better in terms of it Academy prospects, and the more its buzz continues to die, so do its chances of even getting Dicaprio in. So who gets the fifth slot? Despite still being uneasy about the NC-17 rating, I think there is enough support to get Michael Fassbender in for Shame, but watch out, Woody Harrelson, Michael Shannon, and Ryan Gosling are hot on in heels, as is Dicaprio, and he will have to work hard to make it happen.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Review: Hugo

I had the pleasure this afternoon, to be taken on a journey through the life of an extraordinary boy who discovers the wonder of film, the perils and sadness of life, and the adventures and inventions that await us all.

Hugo, a shortened, and to be frank, less magical title, is the first family film from the cinema master Martin Scorsese. And while it has some story/screenplay related issues, Scorsese manages to capture the innocence and imagination of child, showcase his love of cinema, and take the audience on a quite magical ride.

Hugo is the story of a young orhan named Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), who lives in a train station working on the clocks after his inventor/clockmaker father (Jude Law) dies, and his drunk uncle (Ray Winstone) is nowhere to be found. After months of stealing from a local toy shop owner in the station (Sir Ben Kingsley), his father's notebook is stolen. In order to get it back, and work on his father's incredible machine that was left to him, Hugo tries to get the notebook back by befriending the goddaugther of the shopowner named Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), whose necklace unlocks the key to a world of magic, cinema, and invention, and forever links the two. Along the way, there are a host of colorful characters played by a variety of talented British actors including Christopher Lee, Richard Griffiths, Frances de la Tour, and Emily Mortimer), and a particularly villanous station manager played by Sacha Baron Cohen.

Hugo is a magical film experience thanks mostly to the talents of Martin Scorsese. His attention to detail, his passion for both the story, and cinema as an art form, and his incredible collaborations with some of the best technical teams working today, make Hugo a visual and auditory wonder, and along with Avatar, the best use of 3-D I have seen. The film really pops, with wonderful art direction, cinematography, and costume design, all worthy of Oscar consideration, as it Howard Shore's wonderful and fanicful score. The acting is also top notch, and even the child actors manage to pull emotional and dramatic heft. Asa Butterfield has a bright future, and Chloe Grace Moretz proves why she is one of the best young talents working today. It doesn't hurt that Scorsese casted some incredible adult actors, Ben Kingsley, and the woman who plays his wife, Helen McCrory are particularly good, and even Sacha Baron Cohen, who normally annoys me, manages to be a lot more tame, and it really works for him.

Hugo however has two glaring problems. The first is John Logan's script, which has some structural problems, including repeating lines when they are not appropriate, and some scenes that could have simply been left out. Of course, the normally reliable Thelma Schoonmaker, doesn't take enough time to go back and edit out these scenes that should have been left out, and in response there are moments where the film is too slow, and actually drags a little, something I normally don't say about Scorsese films.

But despite its flaws, Scorsese still manages to create a magical experience, especially in the second half, which is almost entirely about early cinema, and it is simply fascinating. While this is supposed to be a family film, it requires a lot of patience. But if you are passionate about film, love a good story with some wonderful acting and incredible technical elements, then I suggest you go and see Hugo. Because when the last frame faded to credits, I was smiling, and if that isn't movie magic, I don't know what is.

Oscar Potential: I definitely think with its great reviews that Hugo could easily get a Best Picture nod, and tons of technical awards are sure to be in its near future. Picture, Director, Actor (Butterfield), Supporting Actor (Kingsley), Supporting Actress (Moretz), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Visual Effects, Film Editing (even though it is honestly not deserved), Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Makeup

State of the Race: November Predictions - Best Actress

November Predictions
Glenn Close "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis "The Help"
Meryl Streep "The Iron Lady"
Charlize Theron "Young Adult"
Michelle Williams "My Week With Marilyn"

Other Contenders - Rooney Mara "The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo", Elizabeth Olsen "Martha Marcy May Marlene", Felicity Jones "Like Crazy", Tilda Swinton "We Need to Talk About Kevin", Olivia Colman "Tyrannosaur", Kirsten Dunst "Melancholia", Kiera Knightley "A Dangerous Method",  Vera Farmiga "Higher Ground", Emily Watson "Oranges and Sunshine", Kristen Scott Thomas "Sarah's Key", Kirsten Wiig "Bridemaids", Mia Wasikowska "Jane Eyre", Emma Stone "The Help"

Commentary - In my opinion there are four ladies that seem to be soldifying their nominations, one that is getting there, and a handful of young star waiting in the wings. Viola Davis is still out front, but the incredible Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams are hot on her heels. All three are great in their respective roles, but Davis has a few things going for her that the other two do not. The Help is a contender for Best Picture, and has other incredible performances out there. With Streep and Williams, they may have other cast members in the mix, but really it is mostly about their two performances, and neither of their films live up to their performances. The popularity of The Help, may be the push Davis needs to win the Oscar. Glenn Close is also still in this, but her film is really unpopular as a whole, and I think of all these contenders, she is most vulnerable. Charlize Theron is quickly landing on lists, as Young Adult gets good reviews. Plus I think people are underestimating the film, and if it hits big, she will solidfy her spot on this list. But she and Close need to watch out for the newcomers, as Rooney Mara, Elizabeth Olsen, and Felicity Jones all could grab a Jennifer Lawrence, Gabourey Sidibe, or Carey Mulligan-esque spot. Also watch out for Tilda Swinton. She could be a critical favorite, and as more people see her movie, more were realize just how good she is.  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

State of the Race: November Predictions - Best Supporting Actor

November Predictions
Kenneth Branagh "My Week With Marilyn"
Albert Brooks "Drive"
Patton Oswalt "Young Adult"
Christopher Plummer "Beginners"
Max von Sydow "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"

Other Contenders - Stanley Tucci "Margin Call", Kevin Spacey "Margin Call", Ben Kingsley "Hugo", Armie Hammer "J. Edgar", Jim Broadbent "The Iron Lady", Ezra Miller "We Need to Talk About Kevin", Christoph Waltz "Carnage", Brad Pitt "The Tree of Life", Jonah Hill "Moneyball", Philip Seymour Hoffman "Moneyball", Philip Seymour Hoffman "The Ides of March", George Clooney "The Ides of March", Tom Hanks "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", Nick Nolte "Warrior", Niels Astrup "War Horse", John Hawkes "Martha Marcy May Marlene"

Commentary - This one is really confusing me at the moment, with so many names, and no consensus emerging as in the other categories. The only one I am certain of is Christopher Plummer, and since Beginners may not get any other nominations and is an early release, even he is not certain. Another veteran, Max von Sydow is popping up on lists across the blogosphere, but no one has seen the movie, so were merely speculating, and it may turn out that Hanks is the star supporting performance in the film. I initially including the Margin Call guys in the mix, but I can't decide which performance is stronger, and so I am currently including neither, although that is not to say that they are not both stronger contenders, and capable of getting a nod. One of the people in their place is Albert Brooks, who seems to have survived the onslaught of new films to maintain some nice buzz, and I think he is going to survive the long run. Patton Oswalt is a name that many of you don't know, but I think Young Adult is a bigger threat than most, and apparently he is simply wonderful in the film, expect him to be a dark horse contender all season long. In the final slot I am going with Branagh. Many have him up higher, but I think that the movie may all be about Michelle Williams, and with so many big names below him, he's going to need some big precursor support. For now he is in. But don't forget George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jim Broadbent, and Ben Kingsley, all previous Oscar winners, as well as newcomers Armie Hammer and Ezra Miller who are making an impression.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

State of the Race: November Predictions - Best Supporting Actress

November Predictions
Berenice Bojo "The Artist"
Jessica Chastain "The Help"
Vanessa Redgrave "Coriolanus"
Octavia Spencer "The Help"
Shailene Woodley "The Descendants"

Other Contenders - Sandra Bullock "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", Melissa McCarthy "Bridesmaids", Janet McTeer "Albert Nobbs", Carey Mulligan "Shame", Jessica Chastain "The Tree of Life", Jessica Chastain "Take Shelter", Judy Greer "The Descendants", Evan Rachel Wood "The Ides of March", Marion Cotillard "Midnight in Paris", Emily Watson "War Horse", Jodie Foster "Carnage", Kate Winslet "Carnage", Angelica Huston "50/50", Bryce Dallas Howard "The Help", Judi Dench "J. Edgar"

Commentary - There seems to be a growing consesus around 8-10 names, with 5-6 really heading the pack. But as the critics awards pour in this could change, especially since I think there is no true frontrunner. But if I were to guess, Octavia Spencer is definitely leading the pack with her star making turn in The Help. I also am standing my ground that Jessica Chastain will get in for something, and I think she will join Spencer with The Help. Spencer's biggest competitor at this point is Vanessa Redgrave, but I think the movie as a whole has some problems (a plague affecting a lot of acting contenders this year), and some of her personal politics have turned off people in recent years (an idiotic reason to not nominate some one), so I am not 100% she can beat her fellow nominees, or get nominated at all. Berenice Bojo has quickly risen up the charts as The Artist seems to be charming the pants off of people, and I think if it can sustain its buzz, then she will be a formidable contender, and a dark horse for the win as it is a borderline lead performance. Finally, I am going with newcomer Shailene Woodley (ok she's not that new, but new to the race), as I think The Descendants has a lot of steam going into the big race, and apparently she holds her own against George Clooney ala Anna Kendrick.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

State of the Race: November Predictions - Screenplays

Best Original Screenplay - November Predictions
Michel Hazanvicius "The Artist"
Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig "Bridesmaids"
Sean Durkin "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Woody Allen "Midnight in Paris"
Diablo Cody "Young Adult"
Other Possibilites - Dustin Lance Black "J. Edgar", Terrence Malick "The Tree of Life", Thomas McCarthy and Joe Tibani "Win Win", James Ward Byrkitt and John Logan and Gore Verbinski "Rango", Soctt Z. Burns "Contagion", Abi Morgan "The Iron Lady", Steve McQueen and Abi Morgan "Shame", Will Reiser "50/50", Jeff Nichols "Take Shelter", Mike Mills "Beginners"

Commentary - Unlike in recent years, this category actually has a plethora of great contenders, and a lot of unknown factors. I think it is safe to say that The Artist, the great Woody Allen, and Jason Reitman re-teaming up with Diablo Cody will all be hard to ignore, as all three are also big time Best Picture contenders. But beyond that, there are some big comedies, indies, and biopics all fighting for the last two slots. J. Edgar drops from contention with its bad reviews, but who takes its place. I think that one smaller indie, ala Another Year, will get in. The Tree of Life may be too abstract, and the more comedic films like Beginners, and Win Win may not have enough heft, as they were early films. So in that spot I am going with the psychological thriller Martha Marcy May Marlene. If Olsen gets left out because Best Actress is so crowded then this is a way to honor the film. Finally, I am going out on a limb and saying that Bridesmaids will get a well-deserved Original Screenplay nod. I know it probably won't happen, like 40-Year Old Virgin. But I have hope the Academy will embrace a big raunchy comedy which was fresh and original. If not, watch out for the animated slot that usually gets filled, this year by Rango.

Best Adapted Screenplay - November Predictions
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash "The Descendants"
Eric Roth "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
Grant Heslov and George Clooney "The Ides of March"
Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillan "Moneyball"
Richard Curtis and Lee Hall "War Horse"

Other Contenders - Briget O' Connor and Peter Strong "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", Tate Taylor "The Help", Steve Zaillan "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", John Logan "Hugo", Christopher Hampton "A Dangerous Method", Steve Kloves "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2", Rory Kinnear and Lynne Ramsey "We Need to Talk About Kevin", Glenn Close and John Manville "Albert Nobbs", Pedro Almodovar "The Skin I Live In", Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller "The Muppets", Cameron Crowe and Alina Brosh McKenna "We Bought a Zoo"

Commentary - This is category with a lot of contenders, but something seems off about it, and I can't really put my finger on it. The Descendants is the current frontrunner, but Moneyball is hot on its heels. Once again, we seem to be in the dilemma of not seeing Extremely Loud and War Horse, but both have top notch writers, and also both could be more about the direction, the technicals, or the performances, and not as much about the script. The Final spot at this moment is tricky. Tinker has no buzz, and needs a boost at its release date here in the U.S. The Help could get in, but its most likely all about the performances, and Girl With the Dragon Tattoo doesn't seem like Oscar bait, plus Steve will definitely get in for Moneyball. Hugo is on the rise, but the story seems to be the one problem people have, so Scorsese probably has a better shot. So I am going with The Ides of March. It has been struggling since its Venice premeire, but there will be those out there that like it, and while Best Picture seems out of reach (unless it gets a huge critical boost), maybe its supporters can at least get this one on the ballot.

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Golden Globe Poll in Sidebar

Check out the new poll in the sidebar for Best Picture Comedy/Musical at the Golden Globes. Also stay tuned for updated Oscar Predictions!

State of the Race: November Predictions - Best Animated Feature

November Predictions
The Adventures of Tintin
Arthur Christmas
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots

Other Contenders - Rio, Winnie the Pooh, Cars 2, Happy Feet 2, Chico & Rita, Gnomeo and Juliet, Wrinkles

Commentary - With the announcement that The Adventures of Tintin was in, I think it has solidified itself as a potential nominee. While some will not vote for it simply because they may not see it as a true animated film, I think that Spielberg's name, and some decent reviews will be enough. However, I think that the only lock in this race is Rango, which has withstood this whole year to remain one of the best animated films of the year. However, coming on its heels is the well-reviewed Arthur Christmas, which may wear off after the holiday, but its from the people that brought us Wallace & Gromit, and in this weak year, it could vie for the win. In the last two spots however, I have shaky predictions. I am currently going with Kung Fu Panda 2, which got decent reviews/box office, and the new edition of Puss in Boots, which improved on the last two Shrek movies and managed to get some good reviews. However, Cars 2 and Happy Feet 2, are on their heels, despite getting bad reviews, good will left over from their previous outings may be enough to get them in again. Also don't forget Winnie the Pooh which got rave reviews and is whimsical and nostalgic, or Rio, which is a fun film that has some Oscar nominee and winner voices that could boost it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Review: Like Crazy

Like Crazy, from writer/director Drake Doremus, is  a winding and sad tale of two lovers who face the difficulties of life and reality, as they attempt to hold their relationship together. Anna and Jacob meet and fall in love during their last year in college in California. Anna is a British citizen, whose student visa is set to expire. Instead of leaving at her expiration day, she stays throughout the summer before heading home, and upon returning to the United States she is stopped by Immigration agents, and is promptly sent back. From this initial plotting, we see a story unfolding over the next couple of years, as they travel back and forth to visit each other, they deal with problems associated with long-distance relationships, and long for each other as they move on to other relationships.

Like Crazy has a lot of wonderful elements, especially the plethora of well-drawn out characters and performances. The two leads are definitely engaging, and truly have an impeccable chemistry between the two. However, it is Felicity Jones that truly shines with her emotional and raw performance that is natural and real, never overacted, striking a perfect tone. Also, in limited roles, the two individuals that Anna and Jacob get involved with, Sam and Simon, are unfortunately underused, because both make the most of their limited roles. Of particular interest is the stunning Jennifer Lawrence who manages to break your heart in a few scenes. She continually shows how she is one of the best young talents in Hollywood. Also, I really enjoyed Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead as Anna's parents who bring welcomed humor to an otherwise sad tale.

However, beyond the nice performances, I had some major problems with the direction, the story, and the complete lack of sympathy I feel for these characters after a while. The first half of the film is great, but the last half, with its back and forth nature, and it overuse of "jump-ahead" scenes get incredibly monotonous and repetitive, and despite only being about 90 minutes long, it plods along in its last half and makes it seem so much longer than it acutally is.

Furthermore, I have a hard time sympathizing with these characters after a while. First, the whole situation could have been avoided has she simply gone home when her visa ran out ,and she could have had a more permanent status within a few months, and this whole back and forth would have never had to happen. Plus, by the end these characters become so self-absorbed, that they lead two seemingly wonderful and attractive people on, only to dump them in a heartbeat when they ahve a chance to be together again. Maybe Doremus menat this as a way to show the hardships of moving on, and the lasting connection we have to our first loves, but it makes them seem selfish and incredibly hurtful. Finally, while I sometimes appreciate ambiguous endings, I felt that a more decisive finale would ahve been appropriate considering how long and drawn out this relationship is. I know there was a purpose to it, and I get it (to thwart those that claim that critics "don't get it"), but I didn't feel like it was appropriate considering the rest of the story.

So overall, Like Crazy is not a bad movie, it has some nice moments, and some wonderful moments, especially Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence. But it has some seriously deep flaws, particularly the fact that by the end you have lost all sympathy for what seem like incredibly selfish characters. I can see why some critics and fans have fallen in love with this film: it is easy to get lost in its romantic trappings, but for me, these glaring holes in its cohesiveness and message are too hard to overlook

Oscar Potential: Jones is surely in the Best Actress discussion, but with other breakout performances coming form Elizabeth Olsen and Rooney Mara, she will most likely get lost in the shuffle.

Grade: C+

2011 American Music Awards - Winners

While I find these awards somewhat obnoxious, here is an update list of winners, which I will continue to update throughout the night.

Favorite Duo or Group: Maroon 5
Female Country Artist: Taylor Swift
Favorite Hip Hop Artist: Nicki Minaj
Favorite Soul/R&B Album: Rihanna  "Loud"
Favorite Country Band: Lady Antebellum
Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album: Nicki Minaj "Pink Friday"
Special Award (for being the first woman to have five #1 singles from one album) : Katy Perry
Favorite New Artist: Hot Chelle Rae
Favorite Latin Artist: Jennifer Lopez
Favorite Soul/R&B Female: Beyonce
Favorite Pop/Rock Male: Bruno Mars
Favorite Country Album: Taylor Swift, Speak Now
Favorite Pop/Rock Album: Adele
Artist of the Year: Taylor Swift

State of the Race: November Predictions - Technical Awards

Best Art Direction
The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
War Horse

Other Possibilites - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Anonymous, J. Edgar, A Dangerous Method, Midnight in Paris, The Help, Jane Eyre, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Captain America, Tree of Life

Best Cinematography
The Artist
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Other Contenders - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Moneyball, The Ides of March, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Drive, A Dangerous Method, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Help, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Best Costume Design
The Artist
The Help
War Horse

Other Contenders - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, My Week With Marilyn, Jane Eyre, Anonymous, Coriolanus, A Dangerous Method, Albert Nobbs, Captain America, J. Edgar, Midnight in Paris, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Best Film Editing
The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
War Horse

Other Contenders - Hugo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Tree of Life, The Help, Midnight in Paris, The Ides of March, The Adventures of Tintin, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Super 8

Best Makeup
The Iron Lady
J. Edgar
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Other Categories - Green Lantern, War Horse, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Hugo, Anonymous, Coriolanus, The Artist, My Week With Marilyn, Jane Eyre, A Dangerous Method, X-Men First Class, Albert Nobbs

Best Original Score
John Williams "The Adventures of Tintin"
Ludovic Bource "The Artist"
Alexandre Desplat 'Extremely Loud and Inredibly Close"
Howard Shore "Hugo"
John Williams "War Horse"

Other Contenders - Alberto Iglesias "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", Mychael Danna "Moneyball", Alexandre Desplat "The Ides of March", Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", Thomas Newman "The Help", Jonsi "We Bought a Zoo", Alexandre Desplat "The Tree of Life", Alexandre Desplat "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2",

Best Sound Mixing
The Advetures of Tintin
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Super 8
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Other Contenders - Hugo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Rango, Captain America, The Artist, The Tree of Life, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cars 2, Drive, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocal

Best Sound Editing
The Advetures of Tintin
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Other Contenders - Hugo, Super 8, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Real Steel, Cars 2, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Captain America, Happy Feet Two

Best Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Other Contenders - The Tree of Life, Captain America, Thor, Super 8, X-Men: First Class, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Adventures of Tintin, Anonymous, Green Lantern, War Horse.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

State of the Race: November Predictions - Best Original Song

November Predictions
Captain America: The First Avenger - "Star Spangled Man" by Alan Menken and David Zippel
Footloose - "Where the River Goes" by Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, Drew Pearson, and Anne Preven
The Help - "The Living Proof" by Mary J. Blige
The Muppets - "Pictures in My Head" by Jeannie Lurie, Aris Archontis, and Chen Neeman
The Muppets - "Life's a Happy Song" by Bret McKenzie

Other Contenders
Albert Nobbs - "Lay Your Head Down" by Glenn Close and Sinead O'Connor
The Muppets - "Man or Muppet" by Bret McKenzie
We Bought a Zoo - "Gathering Stories" by Jonsi? (Not Sure"
Cars 2 - "Collision of Worlds" by Brad Paisley and Robbie Williams
Winnie the Pooh - "The Backson Song" by Robert and Kristen Lopez
Winnie the Pooh - "So Long" by Zooey Deschanel
Gnomeo & Juliet - "Hello Hello" by Elton John
Gnomeo & Juliet - "Love Builds a Garden" by Elton John
Rio - "Real in Rio" by Sergio Mendes, John Powell, Carlinhos Brown, Mikael Mudi, and Siedah Garret

Commentary - I have been letting this category sort itself out, and these predictions are far off probably. There are, as usual, a plethora of animated films with potential songs, but none of them are really standing out, and in their place, The Muppets could get in a couple of songs, especially with its good reviews (see previous post). I also think that the well-received remake of Footloose has a couple of options, the Zac Brown one being its best bet. Mary J. Blige's song The Living Proof is wonderful, and this is a place to give The Help another nomination on its march to a Best Picture one. Finally, I am going with Alan Menken, because it is not a good idea to bet against him, and his song Star Spangled Man could be a winner for Captain America.

The Muppets - Globe and....Oscar Contender?

I am kind of surprised with some of the first reviews of The Muppets. Not that I didn't think it was going to be good, but these reviews aren't just good, by God they are great. I think it definitely has some potential in categories like Best Original Song, and maybe some technical nods, but I am starting to wonder, is The Muppets a Best Picture contender? At the Oscars, my guess would be no, but what about the Globes? It is not currently in my predictions, and there are a lot of film vying for five, maybe six, spots in the Comedy/Musical category, but I think that we should watch out for The Muppets, a semi-musical, very funny set of characters that may inspire nostalgia, and may get a nomination. Here are some of its reviews:

Justin Chang from Variety:

"Effortlessly blending wised-up, self-reflexive humor with old-fashioned let's-put-on-a-show pizzazz, "The Muppets" is an unexpected treat. Bright and perky, cheeky but never mean-spirited... Charming musical elements, a cluster of celebrity cameos and a thoroughgoing sense of creative resurgence engendered by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller's smart script should ensure that happy outcome; hecklers will be few."

Todd McCarthy from Hollywood Reporter:

"The first bigscreen outing for the colorful crew since Muppets from Space in 1999 and since Disney acquired the franchise from the Jim Henson estate in 2004, this perfectly enjoyable family comedy is disarmingly upfront about its raison d'etre—to reboot the Muppets for a new generation of moppets. In this it should succeed, while also entertaining old fans inclined to a bit of childhood nostalgia."

So the verdict...a fun family romp...can it cash in on awards glory? We'll have guessed it....wait and see.

Friday, November 18, 2011

15 Documentary Feature Finalists

Some glaring omissions, such as Senna and The Interrupters, and of course the Academy doesn't appreciate Werner Herzog as Into the Abyss was too left off. That being said here are the 15 finalists for Best Documentary Feature. I will soon update with my nomination predictions in the sidebar.

"Battle for Brooklyn" (RUMER Inc.)
"Bill Cunningham New York" (First Thought Films)
"Buck" (Cedar Creek Productions)
"Hell and Back Again" (Roast Beef Productions Limited)
"If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" (Marshall Curry Productions, LLC)
"Jane's Journey" (NEOS Film GmbH & Co. KG)
"The Loving Story" (Augusta Films)
"Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" (
"Pina" (Neue Road Movies GmbH)
"Project Nim" (Red Box Films)
"Semper Fi: Always Faithful" (Tied to the Tracks Films, Inc.)
"Sing Your Song" (S2BN Belafonte Productions, LLC)
"Undefeated" (Spitfire Pictures)
"Under Fire: Journalists in Combat" (JUF Pictures, Inc.)
"We Were Here" (Weissman Projects, LLC)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Emerging Contender: Margin Call

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been hearing the rumblings of a gem of a film called Margin Call. If you look at the cast you would think this would be a huge hit, but it was in limited release and hasn't made much of a mark on the box office. For the record it stars Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Demi Moore, Mary McDonnell, and Simon Baker. Despite its intial buzz, recently the blogosphere and pundits have begun to rumble about the possibility of some award recogniton particularly in the Supporting Actor and Original Screenplay. Stanley Tucci and Kevin Spacey in particular are names being thrown around, Tucci getting the most talk as serious supporting contenders, and first time director/writer J.C. Chandor could get into Original Screenplay if he gets some precursors. I currently put Tucci in my predictions, because I am still not sure about Kenneth Branagh (It's all about Williams), and there really is some room for a respectable and well-liked actor like Tucci or Spacey. This of course could all be a waste of breath, but for now, just make sure you keep this one on your radar.  

HFPA Moves "The Help" to Drama - Updated Comedy/Musical Golden Globe Predictions

So The Help submitted itself as a comedy, and I included it in my initial Comedy predictions, but I had this inkling that the HFPA would move it to Drama, which it promptly did. So now here my "Help"-less Comedy/Musical predictions. Later this weekend/week I will do the Drama/General predictions, which I'm sure will include The Help across the board.

Best Picture - Comedy/Musical
The Artist
Midnight in Paris
Young Adult
We Bought a Zoo

Best Actor - Comedy/Musical
Steve Carell "Crazy, Stupid Love"
Johnny Depp "The Rum Diary"
Jean Dujardin "The Artist"
Joseph Gordon-Levitt "50/50"
Owen Wilson "Midnight in Paris"

Best Actress- Comedy/Musical
Berenice Bojo "The Artist"
Emma Stone "Crazy, Stupid Love"
Charlize Theron "Young Adult"
Kristen Wiig "Bridesmaids"
Michelle Williams "My Week With Marilyn"

45 Finalists for Best Animated Short

I always get these wrong, and to be honest I don't think I've seen any of them, but for those out there who are interested, here are the 45 finalists (yes 45) for Best Animated Short at this year's Oscars.

"A Morning Stroll," Grant Orchard
"A Shadow of Blue," Carlos Lascano
"Birdboy," Alberto Vasquez
"Chopin’s Drawings," Dorota Kobiela
"Correspondence," Zach Hyer
"Daisy Cutter," Enrique Garcia and Rubin Salazar
"Dimanche (Sunday)," Patrick Doyon
"El Salon Mexico," Paul Glickman and Tamarind King
"Enrique Wrecks the World," David Chai
"Ente Tod Und Tulipe (Duck Death and the Tulip)," Matthias Bruhn
"Fat Hamster," Adam Wyrwas
"Grandpa Looked Like William Powell," David Levy
"Hamster Heaven," Paul Bolger
"I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat," Matt O’Callaghan
"I Was the Child of Holocaust Survivors," Anne Marie Fleming
"Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest," Kevin Sean Michaels
"Kahanikar," Nandita Jain
"La Luna," Enrico Casarosa
"Little Postman," Dorota Kobiela
"Luminaris," Juan Pablo Zaramella
"Luna," Donna Brockopp
"Maska," Timothy and Stephen Quay
"Muybridge’s Strings," Koji Yamamura
"My Hometown," Jerry Levitan
"Night Island," Salvador Maldonado
"Nullarbor," Alister Lockhart
"Papa’s Boy," Leevi Lemmetty
"Paths of Hate," Damien Nenow
"Romance," George Schwizgebel
"Specky Four-Eyes," Jean Claude Rozec
"Spirits of the Piano," Magdalena Osinska
"Thank You," Thomas Herpich
"The Ballad of Nessie," Stevie Wermers
"The External World," David O’ Reilly
"The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
"The Gloaming," Nobrain
"The Lost Town of Switez," Kamil Polak
"The Magic Piano," Martin Clapp
"The Monster of Nix," Rosto
"The Renter," Jason Carpenter
"The Smurf’s A Christmas Carol," Troy Quane
"The Tannery," Iain Gardner
"The Vermeers," Tal S. Shamir
"Vicenta," Samuel Orti Marti
"Wild Life," Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pixar's Brave New Trailer

After the disaster that was Cars 2, I am highly looking for to this one, which I hope will boost Pixar back to the level of excellence it should be at.

Dueling Snow White Trailers

Next Year, we will see two different live-action updates of the classic tale of Snow White. Both seem to be going for completely different tones, which I think will play in their favor.

The first is Snow White and the Huntsman, which is dark, doesn't have dwarves, and is an action epic, with a dark-evil queen played by Charlize Theron. I think this one will go along the lines of Robin Hood, okay but not great, Theron playing her part well, Kristen Stewart underwhelming as usual.

The second is trying to capture the humor and charm of the Disney and Grimm originals. Julia Roberts plays the humorous and lively queen with Armie Hammer and Lily Collins playing the lovers. I actually think this looks better than the other, which I fear will turn out to take itself too seriously. To be honest this one looks like a hell of a lot of fun, which I think is the purpose of Snow White.

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Oscar Poll in Sidebar

Check out the new poll for Best Actor in the sidebar, and vote for your top five! Also keep checking for Golden Globe/Grammy Predictions, as well as updated State of the Race for November.

The Iron Lady UK Trailer

We finally get a better look at The Iron Lady which has been mysteriously absent this whole season. While I don't like some of the editing choices of the trailer, I will say that both Meryl and Jim Broadbent look great, and I think both could see their names this season. However, the overall structuring looks slightly conventional (although so did The King's Speech and it was glorious). We'll simply have to wait and see.

Golden Globe Preview: Film Comedy/Musical Categories

Here are my first predictions for the Comedy/Musical Film categories at the Golden Globes

Best Picture - Comedy/Musical
The Artist
The Help
Midnight in Paris
Young Adult

Other Contenders - My Week With Marilyn, We Bought a Zoo, Carnage, 50/50, The Hangover Part II, Rango, The Rum Diary, Crazy Stupid Love, Beginners, The Muppets, Tower Heist, Win Win, Footloose 

Commentary - With the recently announced news that The Help was campaigning in the Comedy/Musical category that has shifted my initial thoughts. I think that it could have racked up nods in the Drama category, but maybe being in the C/M category guarantees the film and Davis a win, to push forward towards Oscar glory. Of course the HFPA can decide to put it where it chooses, and in its infinite wisdom it may put it back where it belongs. That being said, it enters an already stacked race with a lot of great contenders. Young Adult is Jason Reitman's latest, and it is getting good reviews. Some think it is not in the Best Picture race at the Oscars, but I think we all can agree it's in here. Midnight in Paris is probably the frontrunner, considering it is Woody's comeback, and a huge summer hit (for its release it was). They gave it to Vicky Cristina Barcelona, why not an even better film? The Artist is a film, like The Help which could go either way. It is mostly music, but not a musical. It is lighthearted, but not an outright comedy, so while I think they will place it here, I could see it going to the Drama category, once again throwing this category for a loop. Finally, I am going with the biggest comedy of the year, Bridemaids. It is right up the Globes alley, big comedy, big stars, lots of positive feedback, and it allows them to be populist without having terrible nominations. If for some reason The Artist and The Help get put elsewhere, watch out for: Carnage, Crazy Stupid Love, My Week With Marilyn, 50/50, The Muppets, and We Bought a Zoo. Also, I know its crazy to think this, but the Globes love musicals, so yes, Footloose could surprise here.

Best Actor - Comedy/Musical
Steve Carell "Crazy, Stupid Love"
Johnny Depp "The Rum Diary"
Jean Dujardin "The Artist" 
Joseph Gordon-Levitt "50/50"
Owen Wilson "Midnight in Paris"

Other Contenders - Matt Damon "We Bought a Zoo", Christoph Waltz "Carnage", John C. Reilly "Carnage", Paul Giamatti "Win Win", Tom Hanks "Larry Crowne", Ewan McGregor "Beginners", Eddie Murphy "Tower Heist", Robert Downey Jr. "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows", Eddie Redmayne "My Week With Marilyn", Johnny Depp "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"

Commentary - Thre are so many deserving performances that I think will be left out like the Carnage fellows, and Paul Giamatti, but both are small films that will have to have a good amount of HFPA support to break the barrier over bigger names. That being said, performances like Jean Dujardin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Owen Wilson all from great films, are certaintly great choices, and I think are the frontrunner for the win. Steve Carell is also in the mix, with his funny and touching performance in Crazy Stupid Love. Finally, I am going with a typical Globes choice. The Rum Diary was less than stellar to say the least, but they love Johnny Depp, and Pirates seems to have worn thin. So my guess is that instead of rewarding a far superior performance and movie, they will bring Depp to the Globes, yet again.

Best Actress - Comedy/Musical
Berenice Bojo "The Artist"
Viola Davis "The Help"
Charlize Theron "Young Adult"
Michelle Williams "My Week With Marilyn"
Kristen Wiig "Bridesmaids"

Other Contenders - Kate Winslet "Carnage", Cameron Diaz "Bad Teacher", Emma Stone "The Help", Julianne Moore "Crazy, Stupid Love", Scarlett Johansson "We Bought a Zoo",  Julianne Hough "Footloose", Rachel McAdams "Midnight in Paris", Jodie Foster "Carnage", Amy Adams "The Muppets", Julia Roberts "Larry Crowne", Penelope Cruz "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"

Commentary - Now this trult is a competitive category, with tons of Oscar contenders vying. Since The Help could go here, Viola Davis is in, as is the brazen performance of Charlize Theron in Young Adult. Both are currently in my predictions for the Oscars. As is the wonderful Michelle Williams, who managed a surprise nod for Blue Valentine and is sure to get in for this high profile piece. Kristen Wiig is actually vulnerable, but I think that the pure power of Bridesmaids will be enough to get her and Melissa McCarthy in. Finally I think that a supporting performance in Berenice Bojo, will get enough votes to bump up to Lead for the Globes. This is a common occurence, but it is just as likely she gets the Supporting nod instead.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Review: Take Shelter

Curtis is a hardoworking guy with a beautiful wife Samantha, and their daughter who has recently become deaf Hanna. Curtis begins to have foreboding nightmares, that all begin with a storm, and end with violence towards him and his family, and in some cases violence committed by those he loves. In order to protect his family from these visions of a storm coming to ravage the land, he becomes obsessed with adding on to his tornado shelter. He begins to think he is inflicted with a mental disorder and seeks out help. The more he finds out about his problems, and the more he builds, the more vivid and personal the dreams, all brewing into a storm unlike any other.

Take Shelter, the second film from writer/director Jeff Nichols, is a masterful work of suspense and dread that utilizes realism and a slow buildup to pack an emotional and satisfying punch. Despite it being his second film, Nichols shows control behind the camera, perfectly manipulating and calculating every scene in a linear trajectory towards madness. I expect this from veteran directors who have control and ease with their work, but at his early stage in his career it says a lot about the talent and potential of this artist.

It doesn't hurt that two stunning lead performances help anchor the story, and bring life to these deep and emotional characters. Jessica Chastain proves time and time again why she is destined to be a star, and why she deserves an Oscar nomination for something this year. She holds herself up as the supporting wife and mother, but we can see her vulnerability, her confusion, and her pain as she deals with her husband's increasing insanity and visions. She is graceful and emotional (and given a lot more material than The Tree of Life). But the real revelation here is Michael Shannon. His control as an actor, and his eventual breakdown are brilliantly portrayed. His powerhouse performance is enhanced by the subtle and slow storytelling, allowing Shannon to flourish with an emotional performance that is easily one of the best performances of the year.

There is something about Take Shelter that simply makes it work. Sure it could have used a little more pace, but Nichols, Shannon, and Chastain, embrace the slow, steady climb to insanity in a foreboding terror. It is particularly terrifying because it strikes so deep into the hearts of its viewers. We see a normal hardworking family man brought to the breaking point by his own mental faculties. This is a frightening thing to think about, especially after we become so connected with him and his family. His story is heartbreaking, his visions terrifying, and his story completley absorbing.

While this is not a film for most casual viewers, and those that are truly interested will still need patience, Take Shelter manages to create a building sense of dread and heartbreak through its impeccable direction and stunning lead performances.

Grade: A-

Oscar Potential: Actor (Shannon), Supporting Actress (Chastain), Original Screenplay (Nichols). In this crowded year most likely none of these will come true, but if there is some critical support, them maybe these three categories will at least be in consideration.

Friday, November 11, 2011

November Grammy Predictions: Pop Categories

Best Pop Solo Vocal Performance
Adele "Rolling in the Deep"
Beyonce "Best Thing I Never Had"
Lady Gaga "The Edge of Glory"
Bruno Mars "Grenade"
Katy Perry "Firework"

Best Pop Vocal Album
Adele "21"
Lady Gaga "Born This Way"
Elton John and Leon Russell "The Union"
Bruno Mars "Doo Wops & Hooligans"
Paul Simon "So Beautiful or What"

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
Foster the People "Pumped Up Kicks"
Glee Cast "Loser Like Me" or "Teenage Dream"
Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera "Moves Like Jagger"
Nicki Minaj feat. Rihanna "Fly"
Katy Perry feat. Kanye West "E.T."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Billy Crystal to Host Oscars

While there has been no official release from AMPAS, LA Times has verbally confirmed that Billy Crystal will be replacing outgoing host Eddie Murphy for this year's Academy Awards. This is welcome sigh of relief for the whole film community, as we have all been caught up in the turmoil and controversy of the Brett Ratner drama. Crysal brings stability and experience to the ceremony, and I am personally thrilled with the choice, as he is so damn good at it.

Top 100 Films of the Last 50 Years (1960-2010) - Finale

1. The Godfather (1972) - Well it has been a long journey since May to countdown my personal 100 favortie films of the last half century. But we have made it to the grand finale. Of all the films in the last half century, there are very few that have even been close to perfect movies, with the exception of one. The Godfather wasn't just close to perfect, it was the perfect movie. Now for some of you this will be seen as a conventional choice, plucked from multiple lists of every critic, organization, or blogger who has taken on a similar task to mine. And it is completely understandable that some of you will roll your eyes and make the ever-popular statement, "Of course!" But I will not let your sighs of discontent make me waiver. Love it or hate it The Godfather truly is the best of the them all. True, when watching it patience is truly a virtue,  but if you are willing to hold on, willing to commit the time and effort to watch every move, hear every line, see every facial expression and long gaze, it will be well worth your wait, because you will be greatly rewarded with a timeless crime epic. The lengths that Coppola goes to in order to characterize these individuals is stunning, and something that is simply not seen in cinema nowadays. He takes us on a jorney of transformation, of family, of revenge, and we see the clash of the the old-fashioned way and the new way of living your life. We see cultures collide, and we see characters who deal with the consequences of their actions and of these changes in their own way. It doesn't hurt that some of the greatest actors of all time, including Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Diane Keaton, populate the screen, because it takes a disciplined and talented individual to create one of these dynamic and complicated characters. So I hope that if you haven't yet seen The Godfather that you will take a patience pill, sit down with some popcorn and a lot of caffeine and take the time to view this classic, to absorb this masterful creation. I think that once you do, you too will realize that this movie is quite simply the best.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2011 CMA Winners

Here is a live update of the winners from this nights CMA Awards. Here are the winners so far:

Music Video: Kenny Chesney feat. Grace Potter, “You and Tequila”
Musical Event of the Year: Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”
Song of the Year: Kimberly Perry (songwriter), “If I Die Young”
Single of the Year: The Band Perry, “If I Die Young”
Album of the Year: Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party
Vocal Group: Lady Antebellum
Vocal Duo: Sugarland
New Artist: The Band Perry
Male Vocalist: Blake Shelton
Female Vocalist: Miranda Lambert
Entertainer of the Year: Taylor Swift

Eddie Murphy - Out as Oscar Host

Well, I know that Brett Ratner brought in Eddie Murphy, but I thought that maybe he would stick around despite all the controversy. But Murphy for some God knows what reason has stayed loyal to his buddy Ratner, and without him producing, Murphy decided to quit as well. Here's to hoping that means Billy Crystal gets a call. On a more broad note, this has truly been an embarrassing experience for the Academy. Murphy as hot wasn't a bad idea, he's a great stand-up comedian and a veteran (after last year's amateur outing), but they should have known that someone as brazen and outspoken as Ratner was going to cause trouble, and that trying to reach out the masses with a populist choice doesn't always work. I hope that a new production team can bring some class and grace back to the ceremony.

Morgan Freeman to Receive Cecille B. DeMille Award

It was recently announced that the great Morgan Freeman will receive the Cecille B. DeMille Award at this year's Golden Globe Awards. After years of honoring all white actors/directors, it is nice to see a distinguished actor of color receive such a high honor (same for James Earl Jones at the Oscars this year). He is an outstanding actor, a humanitartian, and a screen legend. A well deserved honor. Can't wait till the Globes!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

People's Choice Awards Nominees

Favorite Movie
  • Bridesmaids
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  • The Help
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Favorite Movie Actor
  • Daniel Radcliffe
  • Hugh Jackman
  • Johnny Depp
  • Robert Pattinson
  • Ryan Reynolds
Favorite Movie Actress
  • Anne Hathaway
  • Emma Stone
  • Jennifer Aniston
  • Julia Roberts
  • Reese Witherspoon
Favorite Movie Icon
  • George Clooney
  • Harrison Ford
  • Morgan Freeman
  • Robert DeNiro
  • Tom Hanks
Favorite Action Movie
  • Fast Five
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  • Thor
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • X-Men: First Class
Favorite Action Movie Star
  • Hugh Jackman
  • Ryan Reynolds
  • Shia LaBeouf
  • Taylor Lautner
  • Vin Diesel
Favorite Drama Movie
  • The Adjustment Bureau
  • The Help
  • Limitless
  • Moneyball
  • Water for Elephants
Favorite Comedy Movie
  • Bad Teacher
  • Bridesmaids
  • Crazy Stupid Love
  • Friends With Benefits
  • The Hangover Part II
Favorite Comedic Movie Actor
  • Adam Sandler
  • Ashton Kutcher
  • Bradley Cooper
  • Ryan Reynolds
  • Steve Carell
Favorite Comedic Movie Actress
  • Cameron Diaz
  • Emma Stone
  • Jennifer Aniston
  • Mila Kunis
  • Natalie Portman
Favorite Movie Star Under 25
  • Chloe Moretz
  • Daniel Radcliffe
  • Emma Watson
  • Rupert Grint
  • Tom Felton
Favorite Ensemble Movie Cast
  • Bridesmaids
  • The Hangover Part II
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  • X-Men: First Class
Favorite Animated Movie Voice
  • Anne Hathaway as Jewel
  • Jack Black as Po
    Kung Fu Panda 2
  • Johnny Depp as Rango
  • Katy Perry as Smurfette
    The Smurfs
  • Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen
    Cars 2
Favorite Movie Superhero
  • Chris Evans as
    Captain America
  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor
  • James McAvoy as Professor X
  • Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique
  • Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern
Favorite Book Adaptation
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  • The Help
  • I Am Number Four
  • Soul Surfer
  • Water For Elephants
Favorite Network TV Drama
  • The Good Wife
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • House
  • Supernatural
  • The Vampire Diaries
Favorite TV Drama Actor
  • David Boreanz
  • Hugh Laurie
  • Ian Somerhalder
  • Nathan Fillion
  • Patrick Dempsey
Favorite TV Drama Actress
  • Blake Lively
  • Ellen Pompeo
  • Emily Deschanel
  • Eva Longoria
  • Nina Dobrev
Favorite Cable TV Drama
  • Dexter
  • Game of Thrones
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • True Blood
  • White Collar
Favorite Network TV Comedy
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Glee
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • Modern Family
  • Two and a Half Men
Favorite TV Comedy Actor
  • Alec Baldwin
  • Chris Colfer
  • Cory Monteith
  • Jim Parsons
  • Neil Patrick Harris
Favorite TV Comedy Actress
  • Courteney Cox
  • Jane Lynch
  • Kaley Cuoco
  • Lea Michele
  • Tina Fey
Favorite Cable TV Comedy
  • Hot In Cleveland
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • Nurse Jackie
  • Royal Pains
  • Weeds
Favorite TV Competition Show
  • American Idol
  • America's Got Talent
  • Dancing With The Stars
  • So You Think You Can Dance
  • The Voice
Favorite TV Crime Drama
  • Bones
  • Castle
  • Criminal Minds
  • CSI
  • NCIS
Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show
  • Fringe
  • Supernatural
  • True Blood
  • The Vampire Diaries
  • The Walking Dead
Favorite Daytime TV Host
  • Al Roker, Ann Curry, Matt Lauer, Natalie Morales, Savannah Guthrie
    The Today Show
  • Anderson Cooper
  • Ellen DeGeneres
    The Ellen DeGeneres Show
  • Kelly Ripa, Regis Philbin
    Live with Regis & Kelly
  • Rachael Ray
    Rachael Ray Show
Favorite Late Night TV Host
  • Conan O'Brien
  • David Letterman
    Late Show with David Letterman
  • Jay Leno
    The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
  • Jimmy Fallon
    Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
  • Jimmy Kimmel
    Jimmy Kimmel Live
Favorite TV Guest Star
  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Jim Carrey
    The Office
  • Katy Perry
    How I Met Your Mother
  • Kristin Chenoweth
  • Michael J. Fox
    The Good Wife
Favorite TV CelebReality Star
  • Gene Simmons
  • Giuliana Rancic
  • Kathy Griffin
  • Kim Kardashian
  • Tia & Tamera Mowry
Favorite New TV Drama
  • A Gifted Man
  • Grimm
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Once Upon A Time
  • Pan Am
  • Person of Interest
  • Prime Suspect
  • Revenge
  • Ringer
  • The Secret Circle
  • Terra Nova
  • Unforgettable
Favorite New TV Comedy
  • 2 Broke Girls
  • Allen Gregory
  • Last Man Standing
  • Man Up!
  • New Girl
  • Suburgatory
  • Up All Night
  • Whitney
Favorite Male Artist
  • Blake Shelton
  • Bruno Mars
  • Eminem
  • Enrique Iglesias
  • Justin Bieber
Favorite Female Artist
  • Adele
  • Beyoncé
  • Katy Perry
  • Lady Gaga
  • Taylor Swift
Favorite Song of the Year
  • The Edge Of Glory
    Lady Gaga
  • E.T
    Katy Perry featuring Kanye West
  • Moves Like Jagger
    Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera
  • Party Rock Anthem
    LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennet & GoonRock
  • Rolling in the Deep
Favorite Album of the Year
  • 21
  • 4
  • Born This Way
    Lady Gaga
  • Femme Fatale
    Britney Spears
  • Own The Night
    Lady Antebellum
Favorite Pop Artist
  • Beyoncé
  • Demi Lovato
  • Katy Perry
  • Lady Gaga
  • Rihanna
Favorite Hip Hop Artist
  • B.o.B.
  • Eminem
  • Jay-Z
  • Nicki Minaj
  • Pitbull
Favorite R&B Artist
  • Beyoncé
  • Bruno Mars
  • Chris Brown
  • Ne-Yo
  • Rihanna
Favorite Band
  • Coldplay
  • Foo Fighters
  • Linkin Park
  • Maroon 5
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
Favorite Country Artist
  • Blake Shelton
  • Keith Urban
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Taylor Swift
Favorite Music Video
  • Judas
    Lady Gaga
  • Last Friday Night(T.G.I.F.)
    Katy Perry
  • Party Rock Anthem
    LMFAO featuring Goonrock & Lauren Bennett
  • Rolling in the Deep
  • Run The World (Girls)
Favorite Tour Headliner
  • Bon Jovi
  • Katy Perry
  • Taylor Swift
  • U2
  • Usher