Thursday, March 31, 2011

The State of the Race - First Predictions: Best Actress

Glenn Close "Albert Knobbs"
Rooney Mara "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
Meryl Streep "The Iron Lady"
Tilda Swinton "We Need to Talk About Kevin"
Charlize Theron "Young Adult"

Other Possibilties - Sandra Bullock "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", Emma Stone "The Help", Michelle Williams "My Week With Marilyn", Anne Hathaway "One Day", Scarlett Johansson "We Bought A Zoo", Carey Mulligan "Shame",

Commentary - So apparently, according to IMDB, Stephen Daldry's next project Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is not coming out till 2012, which throws off some of my other predictions, but I'll see Sandra Bullock as an Other Possibilty just in case. That being said, I think that this is going to be a tight race with plenty of contenders. Meryl Streep is surely set to get her, yep count it, 17th Oscar nomination. I also think that another veteran Glenn Close could get some recognition for playing a man in Albert Knobbs. Tilda Swinton has already won an Oscar, but has yet to be nominated since despite year after year churning out great roles. Here's to hoping that We Need To Talk About Kevin becomes her next Oscar vehicle. Charlize Theron is the lead in a Jason Reitman movie, and the last two got Oscar nods (Ellen Page and George Clooney), plus she is a hell of an actress, who has been here before. I think she's in. Finally, I am going with Rooney Mara, as Noomi Rapace got a lot of attention for the same role, and this time the film will have American audiences behind it, and David Fincher behind the camera. The question is, will she pull it off?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

If I Had Been An Academy Voter - 2003 Part 1

Best Picture
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Commentary - Out of these five, I think ROTK is definitely the best, although I much preferred the first two of the saga. Lost in Translation would be a close second, but it definitely deserve Best Picture, even though it was a good film. The other three are ok, but not fantastic. Without Finding Nemo, City of God, or American Splendor, this award doesn't mean much to me.

Best Director
Academy Winner - Peter Jackson "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"
My Pick - Fernando Meirelles "City of God"
Commentary - Jackson should have won for the first installment, then the brilliant Fernando Meirelles could have won a most deserving Oscar for his gritty, yet brilliant vision in City of God.

Best Actor
Academy Winner - Sean Penn "Milk"
My Pick - Bill Murray "Lost in Translation"
Commentary - I had a hard time choosing between Murray and Depp, but since Depp seems destined to eventually win an Oscar, and Murray's performance was a once in a lifetime performance, and he was the veteran who deserved, I went with good old Bill. Penn should have won for Dead Man Walking.

Best Actress
Academy Winner/My Pick - Charlize Theron "Monster"
Commentary - Theron was absolutely brilliant as Aileen Wuornos, was vunerable, tough, and completely transformed herself into her character. An acting feat that deserved all the praise it received.

Best Supporting Actor
Academy Winner - Tim Robbins "Mystic River"
My Pick - Benicio Del Toro "21 Grams"
Commentary - I always thought that Robbin's performance in Mystic River was overrated. And since I wanted someone different to win in 2000 (as you shall see), I think that this would have been a nice year to honor the wonderful Benicio Del Toro, who was brilliant in 21 Grams.

Best Supporting Actress
Academy Winner - Renee Zellweger "Cold Mountain"
My Pick - Patricia Clarkson "Pieces of April"
Commentary - Renee Zellweger won this award I think out of default, because it was not her best performance, or the best of the bunch by any means. So I am going with the always incredible Patricia Clarkson who gave a powerful performance in Pieces of April.

Best Animated Feature
Academy Winner/My Pick - Finding Nemo
Commentary - I think this was the best film of 2003, besides City of God, and it was an animated masterpiece with vivid colors, a wonderful script, and a brilliant idea that was executed perfectly.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Academy Winner - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
My Pick - Shari Springer Berman & Robet Pulcini "American Splendor"
Commentary - In terms of the screenplay, American Splendor was definitely the best of the bunch, a well translated story that was funny and brilliant.

Best Original Screenplay
Academy Winner- Sofia Coppola "Lost in Translation"
My Pick - Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, and David Reynolds "Finding Nemo"
Commentary - This one was tough, but in my opinion there was no better script than that of Finding Nemo, although I do enjoy Sofia Coppola, so no insult intended.

Best Documentary Feature
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Fog of War
Commentary - As a political person, this was a fascinating and gripping documentary, that was extremely well made.

Best Foreign Language Film
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Barbarian Invasions
Commentary - Canada always makes great films, and they usually get ignored, so I was happy when this gem picked up an Academy Award. An excellent film.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II - Poster

Well, the new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II poster is here (it was here yesterday, but I'm a little behind the times). It gives me cold chills, and looks to be an epic masterpiece.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Midnight in Paris Trailer

It looks more Vicky Cristina Barcelona than You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. Let's hope so at least.

State of the Race - First Predictions: Best Actor

George Clooney "The Descendants"
Johnny Depp "The Rum Diary"
Leonardo DiCaprio "J. Edgar"
Tom Hanks "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" or "Larry Crowne"
Brad Pitt "The Tree of Life"

Other Possibilties - Viggo Mortensen "A Dangerous Method", Michael Fassbender "A Dangerous Method", Paul Giamatti "Win Win", Mel Gibson "The Beaver", Matt Damon "Contagion", Antonio Banderas "The Skin I Live In", George Clooney "The Ides of March", Ryan Gosling "The Ides of March", Patrick Wilson "Young Adult", Daniel Craig "The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo"

Commentary - This race has some tough contenders, as you can see that greats like Viggo Mortensen, Paul Giamatti, Matt Damon, and Ryan Gosling are in the Other Possibilities section. As I see it, Brad Pitt seems to be in the lead if The Tree of Life is as good as it should be. I am also going with Leonardo Dicaprio, as J. Edgar Hoover, as the Academy loves biopics. Tom Hanks has two serious contenders coming out this year, but I think that Stephen Daldry's film looks like the stronger contender. Johnny Depp is always a contender, and The Rum Diary could be a really great movie. Finally, I went with George Clooney in Alexander Payne's latest The Descendants as Clooney is liked by the Academy, and The Descendants is a very baity project.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Review: Certified Copy

A local owner of an antique art store plans a meeting with a British writer, whose book "Cerified Copy" is about whether art is authentic or simply a fake. After meeting in her small Tuscany village, they decided to go to the countryside, as they have similar interests. Along the way they discuss the importance of different things, from art to her sister, and her supposedly authentic husband. Once they get to the village, and are mistaken for married couple by a local owner of a coffee shop, they continue to  keep up the charade, and throughout the rest of the film, it grows and grows until the point where you can't tell whether they are still faking it, or whether they truly are an original.

Certified Copy isn't a bad movie, in fact it has an incredible number of redeeming qualities. First of all, the two leads Juliette Binoche and William Shimell, are engaging, easily diving through a dense, yet intellectual script, and making us believe both the fact that they are strangers, but in the end making us believe that they truly are married. Furthermore, director Abbas Kiarostami, beautifully shoots the Tuscan countryside, utilizes long gazes on his actors faces so that you can see their emotion, and also lets the scenes play out without too much interruption, so as to let his actors truly dissect the script, and be themselves at the same time.

In many ways, Certified Copy is absolutely brilliant, however, it failed to really impress me that much. I get the point that it is a charade, but the ending leaves so much to be desired that you wonder why even pay the $6.50 (Matinee) to get into the theater at all. It is not that I do not understand its premises, its deep metaphors about human relations, and the comparisons between his book, the painting in the museum, his sister's husband and their so-called "marriage". However, I also want the movie to engage me, and leave me wanting more, neither were true of this film. Furthermore, while I am all for ambiguous endings, as they make the viewer think, I am only to a certain point, where the end point is not as important as this one should have been. I understand that Kiarostami probably meant to end it that way, as he has always been a talented director, but this particular one made us feel cold and unsure of great questions revolving around most films, why? Certified Copy, while emotional, feels like it is meant for a sociology class in order to dive into the complexity of human relations, and not for movie goers who want to become engaged with the story. The problem is that there is little storyline, and it is hard to care for characters who are simply pretending the entire time. In the end, while I understand the film's praise, and would love some Oscar attention for it's two leads, I left feeling empty and unsatisfied.

Grade - C+

Saturday, March 26, 2011

If I Were An Academy Voter - 2004 Part II

Best Art Direction
Academy Winner - The Aviator
My Pick - Finding Neverland
Commentary - Finding Neverland's set directors and designers perfectly captured the time period, as well as the quaitness and colloquialism of J.M Barrie's world. While The Aviator was good, I did not think its sets were anything special.

Best Cinematography
Academy Winner - The Aviator
My Pick - A Very Long Engagement
Commentary - This was a tough one for me, but A Very Long Engagement was so beautifully shot, that even The Aviator could beat it, in my humble at least.

Best Costume Design
Academy Winner - The Aviator
My Pick - Finding Neverland
Commentary - Damn, it must really seem like I hate The Aviator. I acutally did appreciate the movie, but found that all of these technical awards seemed to have better competitors. For me, I thought that the classical, but not over the top costumes of Finding Neverland made more of an impact, than the 20th c. garb of The Aviator.

Best Film Editing
Academy Winner - The Aviator
My Pick - Million Dollar Baby
Commentary - Ok, so I may be getting a little ridiculous, but even though I love me some Thelma, I don't see how that overlong, repetitive (yes I know there was a purpose for it, but it got on my nerves) film managed to win film editing. I would have gone with Sideways, but alas, I guess I'll go for my second place vote of Million Dollar Baby, which never lingered, which I think helped provide the emotional knockout (pun intended).

Best Makeup
Academy Winner/My Pick - Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Commentary - Out of these three nominees, I think the Academy got it right for the excellent makeup job of an otherwise eh? movie.

Best Original Score
Academy Winner/My Pick - Jan A.P. Kaczmarek "Finding Neverland"
Commentary - The other four movies are complete crap, so I think the Academy made the right choice with this buoyant and effective score.

Best Original Song
Academy Winner - "al otro lado del rio" from The Motorcycle Diaries
My Pick - "Accidentally In Love" from "Shrek 2"
Commentary - Ok, this is a personal vote because for me and my friends, Accidentally in Love is a great sing-along song that is fun to belt out at the top of your lungs. It may not be an informed or quality based choice, but I like it anyway.

Best Sound Mixing
Academy Winner - Ray
My Pick - The Incredibles
Commentary - I understand why Ray won this award, but the sound, the crispness and clarity that filled the theater during The Incredibles, was state of the art in sound design.

Best Sound Editing
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Incredibles
Commentary See Above

Best Visual Effects
Academy Winner/My Pick - Spider-Man 2 
Commentary -  Definitely the best of the franchise to date, the arms of Doc Oc were cool enough to win the award, not including all of Spider-Man's cool, high flying tricks.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Review: Sucker Punch

I had the unfortunate displeasure of sitting through two of the most miserable hours I have ever spent in a movie theatre, when I was forced to go with a couple of friends to see Zach Snyder's lastest stinker Sucker Punch.

When Baby Doll's mother's dies, she is vengefully framed by her stepfather for the murder of her young sister (I want to make a note that this all takes place in like ten minutes), and is sent to an insane asylum for female prsioner's. There Baby undergoes psychological treatment from a Polish psychiatrist, but is scheduled to undergo a procedure to eliminate her memory, after her stepfather paid off a prison guard. The film goes into a subconscious within a subconcious as Baby Doll views the prison as a strip joint, where the many incredibly sexy girls dance for the many clients of the prison guard/pimp. Then when you least expect it, as Baby Doll begins to dance, she slips into a fantasy world, where she must detroy the monsters that are thrown at her in order to obtain the real life objects she needs in order to plan her escape before the inevitable happens. When she gets the other girls involved, they began to kick ass in their various levels of subconscious in order to get their items, and ultimately their freedom.

Sucker Punch tries to be like Inception, except where Inception exceeded expectations, Sucker Punch fails to hit any right notes throughout most of the film. Despite all of the action, I was completely bored throughout the entire film, and Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jena Malone, all young talents fail to make any mark in terms of acting ability, and Browning in the lead stares blankly at the screen. Furthermore, where the various levels of Inception work, the screenwriters of Sucker Punch have 1/3 of the talent of Christopher Nolan, and simply cannot handle the muti-layered story, or deliver any dialogue that isn't tired, worn out, or just plain lame.

The only redeeming qualities of Sucker Punch are Abbie Cornish and the special effects. As in all Zach Snyder films the visual effects are always up to par, although sometimes, its a little too much. Besides the effects, the only actor in the entire film that even remotely tries is the wonderful Abbie Cornish, who isn't even that great, which is a crock, because she was fantastic in Bright Star. Seriously, I still have yet to figure out why she would lower herself to such slop.

Sucker Punch is neither exciting nor sexy, and is just plain trash, whose few redeeming qualities are not enough to make up for its many many many many flaws. My suggestion is that you take the time to go see something else. Tomorrow, I will be seeing Certified Copy, in the hopes that it will restore my faith in the craft of cinema.

Grade: D-

Tom Hooper's Next Project: Les Miserables

While apparently it is not official yet, it has been confirmed by various sources that recent Oscar Winner Tom Hooper has set up his next big project, and is tackling Les Miserables. I do wonder if he is going to be tackling the book, or whether he is going for the jugular and trying the musical. While nothing is set in stone, it would be cool to see if he could bring in some of The King's Speech cast for a second time around. Anyway, until we get more official news, it is mostly speculation, and all we can do is wait and see. Despite the incredible backlash against Hooper, he is a very capable and talented director, both on television, and in the two films he has directed (The Damned United being the other one), so with a talented cast in front of the screen, I don't see why this couldn't be a success.

The State of The Race - First Predictions: Best Director

Stephen Daldry "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
Terrence Malick "The Tree of Life"
Alexander Payne "The Descendants"
Jason Reitman "Young Adult"
Steven Spielberg "War Horse"

Other Possibilties - Cameron Crowe "We Bought a Zoo", Martin Scorsese "Hugo Cabret", David Fincher "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", Clint Eastwood "J. Edgar", Steven Soderbergh "Contagion", Lynne Ramsay "We Need to Talk About Kevin", Thomas McCarthy "Win Win", George Clooney "The Ides of March", Bennet Miller "Moneyball", Pedro Almodovar "The Skin I Live In"

Commentary - The list of past winners and nominees that have movies coming out this year is incredible, and my guess is that many of these big names won't make the cut for maybe more unknown individuals. But for now I am going with who I think are the strongest contenders. Jason Reitman has gotten a Best Director nod for the last two films he directed, and Steven Soderbergh for every movie he's directed, so my guess is that they are top contenders. Steven Spielberg and Terrence Malick are legends, and if their projects are as good as they look, then they are definitely in the running. Finally, I went with Alexander Payne, because if The Descendants is even half as good as Sideways, then he deserves a nod. If you look at the Other Possibilties section, the current five means I am leaving out some huge names including Eastwood, Scorsee, Fincher, Soderbergh, etc. This means that this race will most likely be as contested as it was this year, and also that someone that deserves a nod will have to be snubbed at year's end.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

If I Were An Academy Voter - 2004 Part 1

Best Picture
Academy Winner - Million Dollar Baby
My Pick - Sideways
Commentary - I know this race was between Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator, but if I had been voting, I would have gone with the absolutely hilarious and brilliant Sideways, which unfortunately took home just one measly award.

Best Director
Academy Winner - Clint Eastwood "Million Dollar Baby"
My Pick -Alexander Payne "Sideways"
Commentary - Clint won, and should have won in 1992, for his brutal and unforgettable Unforgiven, so in order to spread the love around, I would have stuck with the Director of my favorite movie from 2004, Alexander Payne.

Best Actor
Academy Winner/My Pick - Jamie Foxx "Ray"
Commentary - I know many thought that Dicaprio should have won, and maybe that's true, but I think the Academy recognized the brilliance of Jamie Foxx's role, as he became Ray Charles, and made that movie what it was.

Best Actress
Academy Winner/My Pick - Hilary Swank "Million Dollar Baby"
Commentary - Bening should have won in 1999, that way Swank could have won only once in 2004 for her brilliant role as a female boxer, she was tough yet vulnerable, and reminded us why we appreciate her talent so much.

Best Supporting Actor
Academy Winner/My Pick - Morgan Freeman "Million Dollar Baby"
Commentary - Everytime Morgan got nominated before, he faced incredibly stiff competition, and that is why he lost. But in 2004, with the exception of Thomas Haden Church, there was very little competition, so it was a nice way to finally honor one of the best.

Best Supporting Actress
Academy Winner - Cate Blanchett "The Aviator"
My Pick - Virginia Madsen "Sideways"
Commentary - Blanchett should have reigned supreme in 1998 for Elizabeth over Paltrow, so instead, I would have voted for one of my favorite performances of the year (behind Foxx and Giamatti). Virginia Madsen was ethereal, vulnerable, and incredible in Sideways, and should have taken home the gold.

Best Animated Feature
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Incredibles
Commentary - The Incredibles was well....incredible.

Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Winner/My Pick - Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor "Sideways"
Commentary - Witty, sharp, intelligent, everything you would want from an incredibly well adapted screenplay.

Best Original Screenplay
Academy Winner/My Pick - Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, and Pierre Bismuth "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
Commentary - I was thrilled when this quirky film got some recognition. It was strange to say the least, but original and funny, and somehow managed to work incredibly well.

Best Foreign Language Film
Academy Winner -  The Sea Inside
My Pick - The Chorus
Commentary - I think I would have gone with The Chorus over The Sea Inside, although both were incredible films, so it is hard to pick

Best Documentary Feature
Academy Winner - Born Into Brothels
My Pick - Super Size Me
Commentary - Born into Brothels was a typical Academy doc, but I would have loved to have seen the hilarious and scarily real Morgan Spurlock McDonald's doc, Super Size Me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

State of the Race: First Predictions - Best Picture

Predicted Nominees
The Descendants 
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 
Hugo Cabaret 
The Ides of March
J. Edgar
The Tree of Life
War Horse
We Bought a Zoo
Young Adult 

Other Possibilities - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Moneyball, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, A Dangerous Method, Twixt Now and Sunrise, Win Win, The Skin I Live In, The Help, and tons of others

Commentary - So here it goes, the first State of the Race. Now that the dust has settled on an exciting 2010 Oscar season, it is time to start looking ahead. So here my first predictions of the year. (I will do other categories as well within the next week or so, so stay tuned). First, The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick's long-delayed film still has the potential to be a huge Oscar contender, if only it would be released. Next I am going with Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody's re-team in Young Adult, which stars Patrick Wilson and Charlize Theron, and is sure to be a hit. Some big time past Best Directors have projects including Steven Spielberg (War Horse), Steven Soderbergh (Contagion), Clint Eastwood (J. Edgar) and Martin Scorsese (Hugo Cabaret), and all of them have bait attached to it, if they can come through on their promising premises (say that five times fast). George Clooney returns with The Ides of March, and could also get an acting nod for Alexander Payne's The Descendants, both looking baity. Stephen Daldry's movies, good (The Hours) or bad (The Reader) have been popular with the Academy, so even if Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is half decent, it will most likely get nominated. Finally, I am going with Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo, hoping that it is more like Almost Famous, and less like Elizabethtown.

RIP Elizabeth Taylor

Some incredibly sad news, the great Elizabeth Taylor passed away today at the age of 79 due to complications of congestive heart failure. She was a film icon, winning two Academy Awards, and was known for her many marriages, her incredible screen presence, and her impeccable style. She is survived by four children and nine grandchildren. This is shocking news, and an incredible loss. Elizabeth Taylor was truly one of a kind. I think Elton John put it best when he sang, "You're candle burned out long before, your legend ever will". Rest in peace old friend.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

If I Were An Academy Voter - 2005 Part II

Best Art Direction
Academy Winner - Memoirs of a Geisha
My Pick - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Commentary - The Harry Potter series deserves something, and the creation of some of the coolest fantasy sets should be enough to gain some recognition from the Academy.

Best Cinematography
Academy Winner - Memoirs of a Geisha
My Pick - Brokeback Mountain
Commentary - Memoirs of a Geisha was beautifully shot, but I would have gone with the Western wilderness of the scenic Brokeback Mountain instead.

Best Costume Design
Academy Winner/My Pick - Memoirs of a Geisha
Commentary - The costumes in Geisha were the best of the bunch, vivid, historical, and a treat for the eyes. Also helped enhance an otherwise eh storyline.

Best Film Editing
Academy Winner/My Pick - Crash
Commentary - The makers of Crash did an excellent job of weaving the various characters together, thanks to an excellent editing job, that gave each main character enough screen time, yet still managed to keep the movie on a zippy pace.

Best Makeup
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Commentary - In this category, I went with the Academy's pick because I really didn't know. I am a huge Star Wars fan, but was thoroughly disappointed by the last trilogy, so I avoided it, and went with the other fantasy, simple to fill a vote.

Best Original Score
Academy Winner/My Pick - Gustavo Santaolalla "Brokeback Mountain"
Commentary - A great pick for a great score that perfectly captured the different moods of the story.

Best Original Song
Academy Winner - It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp from Hustle & Flow
My Pick - Travelin' Thru from Transamerica
Commentary - I thought it was great that the Academy stepped outside the box with this pick from Hustle & Flow. That being said, I loved Dolly Parton's Travelin Thru, and would have loved to have seen her win that long overdue Oscar.

Best Sound Mixing
Academy Winner/My Pick - King Kong
Commentary - While long, and sometimes redundant, King Kong was a treat for the eyes (see below) and the ears, making intricate sounds in large fight sequences.

Best Sound Editing
Academy Winner/My Pick - King Kong
Commentary - See Above

Best Visual Effects
Academy Winner/My Pick - King Kong
Commentary - Just creating the ape itself was a visual feat, not to mention the rest of the awesome effects in this epic.

Monday, March 21, 2011

If I Were An Academy Voter - 2005 Part 1

Best Picture
Academy Winner - Crash
My Pick - Brokeback Mountain
Commentary - I actually liked Crash, and although I was shocked it won Best Picture, I wasn't all up in arms over its victory, just more surprised than anything else. That being said, I still would have voted for the epic western love story Brokeback Mountain, simply because in terms of acutal filmmaking, it was the best of the year.

Best Director
Academy Winner/My Pick - Ang Lee "Brokeback Mountain"
Commentary - The Academy really surprised me, especially since Lee had just won director, an award he was overdue for, and richly deserved.

Best Actor
Academy Winner/My Pick - Philip Seymour Hoffman "Capote"
Commentary - I knew that Hoffman was talented, but I never thought in a million years that such a laid back, gruff guy could play someone so eccentric as Truman Capote. But damn did he pull it off, and gave us one of the best film performances of the last decade.

Best Actress
Academy Winner - Reese Witherspoon "Walk the Line"
My Pick - Felicity Huffman "Transamerica"
Commentary - This was a tough race for me, because I really do love Reese Witherspoon, and am thrilled that she won. However, I think I would have gone with the transformative performance of Felicity Huffman, who shocked and awed me with her charaterization and jaw-dropping role.

Best Supporting Actor
Academy Winner - George Clooney "Syriana"
My Pick - Paul Giamatti "Cinderella Man"
Commentary - Clooney was much better in Michael Clayton and Up in the Air then the bloated Syriana. So instead I would have gone with Giamatti. Not only did he do a great job, but it helped make up for his huge snub for Sideways the year before.

Best Supporting Actress
Academy Winner - Rachel Weisz "The Constant Gardener"
My Pick - Michelle Williams "Brokeback Mountain"
Commentary - This was another tough category, because Weisz was brilliant in The Constant Gardener. But the devastation and emotion that Michelle Williams brought to Brokeback Mountain was too incredible for me to ignore.

Best Animated Feature
Academy Winner - Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit
My Pick - Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
Commentary - I think that if I had picked this category, I actually would have gone for the darker Corpse Bride over the funnier Wallace & Gromit. It is hard to say exactly why, other than saying that I just personally preferred Tim Burton's piece.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Academy Winner/My Pick - Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana "Brokeback Mountain"
Commentary - A well translated movie that was emotion, romantic, hit all the right notes, and managed to avoid annoying cliches, gay puns, or too much politics. A feat to say the least.

Best Original Screenplay
Academy Winner - Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco "Crash"
My Pick - Noah Baumbach "The Squid and the Whale"
Commentary - I was impressed that Haggis and Moresco were able to weave their web of characters in the short time that they were given, but I most likely would have voted for the hilarious, yet deep dramedy The Squid and the Whale, one of the most underrated movies of 2005.

Best Foreign Language Film
Academy Winner - Tsotsi
My Pick - Paradise Now
Commentary - Both are great movies, but the realism that was brought to Paradise Now, and the importance of its topic (Israel/Palestine conflict) proved to be the tie-breaker for the vote.

Best Documentary Feature
Academy Winner/My Pick - March of the Penguins
Commentary - I truly enjoyed this fluffy movie about the migration of penguins. It was touching, informational, and had Morgan Freeman's voice. Check, Check, and Check.

New Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Trailer

I saw eariler today that there was an update trailer for the new POTC: On Stranger Tides. I know that trailers can be deceiving, but it looks like it has one central storyline, and lots of colorful characters to fill in that one trajectory, like the first film, and not so many different lines that even those that made the movie couldn't follow it. Hopefully, this cleaning up of complicated messes and new casting will reboot a franchise that had such a promising start. Here is the trailer:

Genesis Award Winners

For the last 25 years, The Humane Society of the United States has annually presented the Genesis Awards which "pays tribute to the major news and entertainment media for producing outstanding works that raise public awareness of animal issues." Here are this year's winners from Saturday night:

The Wyler Award



THE COLBERT REPORT zoos, bullfighting Comedy Central

TRUE BLOOD Hitting the Ground HBO


KTLA NEWS AT 10 (Los Angeles) Puppy Mills Exclusive Investigation; Dogfighting Investigation; Hatchery Hell – Investigative Report

WOIO TV 19 ACTION NEWS (Cleveland) Ohio Dairy Farm Animal Abuse


THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW Oprah's Earth Day Mom Swap—An Eye-Opening Intervention; Ultimate Amazing Animals Syndicated

 MY CHILD IS A MONKEY National Geographic Channel

LAST CHANCE HIGHWAY The Great Escape Animal Planet

60 MINUTES AUSTRALIA Natural Born Killers Nine Network Australia



ISTHMUS (Wisconsin) animal research by Bill Lueders

LOS ANGELES TIMES Where Captives Put on a Show by Steve Lopez

DAILY MAIL (UK) multiple articles by Danny Penman

CHRISTIANITY TODAY A Feast Fit for the King: Returning the growing fields and kitchen table to God. by Leslie Leyland Fields

Sunday, March 20, 2011

If I Were An Academy Voter - 2006 Part II

Best Art Direction
Academy Winner/My Pick - Pan's Labyrinth
Commentary -A visually stunning movie, that deserves as many tech awards as it could get.

Best Cinematography
Academy Winner/My Pick - Pan's Labyrinth
Commentary -One of its greatest strengths was how beautifully it was shot, and I could not be happier that the Academy recognized its brilliance.

Best Costume Design
Academy Winner - Marie Antoinette
My Pick - Dreamgirls
Commentary - I thought the costumes were so over-the-top to the point of ridiculous. So instead I would have gone with the more subtle 1960's garb of the Dreamgirls, plus it was a ten times better movie.

Best Film Editing
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Departed
Commentary - While it looks like I am going for a Pan's Labyrinth sweep, I have to give a nod to the highly energetic, twisty turning tale of Martin Scorsese's The Departed. Plus Thelma Schoonmaker is a legend.

Best Makeup
Academy Winner/My Pick - Pan's Labyrinth
Commentary - The Academy definitely got it right, as the other two choices were not even in the running. That being said the makeup effects of Pan's Labyrinth were fantastic, so I guess it was a win/win.

Best Original Score
Academy Winner - Gustavo Santaolalla "Babel"
My Pick - Javier Navarette "Pan's Labyrinth"
Commentary - I found Babel overlong, stretching its themes to the point of exhaustion, only buoyed by its incredible performances. That being said, I went with the score for Pan's Labyrinth, not only because I liked it better, but because I don't think Babel deserves anything outside of potential acting categories.

Best Sound Mixing
Academy Winner/My Pick - Dreamgirls
Commentary - The flashy, upbeat, and crystal clear sound of Dreamgirls really helped those incredible songs really pop.

Best Sound Editing
Academy Winner - Letters From Iwo Jima
My Pick - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Commentary - I thought that the swashbuckling and intricate sound detail that was a staple of the Pirates saga deserved some recognition.

Best Visual Effects
Academy Winner/My Pick - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Commentary - Since Poseidon and Superman Returns were not even in the same league of Bill Nighy's Davie Jones in terms of visual effects, this was a pretty easy choice .

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Alfred and Darren Aronofsky

Two sad/disappointing pieces of news today.

  • First, the actor who Alfred in Tim Burton's Batman movies, actor Michael Gough, died at the age of 94 today. He had a career that spanned six decades and included many popular television and film projects. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
  • In a disappointing turn of events, Darren Aronofsky has declined to work on the Wolverine sequel due to the time commitment away from his family. While I completely understand the decision, and think it is probably the right one, considering his son is very young, I hate that he is no longer on the project. The first film was eh, and I was hoping that Aronofsky could save it. Here was his public statement: 
    • "As I talked more about the film with my collaborators at Fox, it became clear that the production of 'The Wolverine' would keep me out of the country for almost a year. I was not comfortable being away from my family for that length of time. I am sad that I won't be able to see the project through, as it is a terrific script and I was very much looking forward to working with my friend, Hugh Jackman, again."

If I Were An Academy Voter - 2006 Part I

Best Picture
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Departed
Commentary - Since my top two favorites from 2006, Pan's Labyrinth and Children of Men did not get nominated, I went with number three in The Departed. It was an excellent crime drama, and definitely one of my all-time favorites (there were some great movies in 2006), and although it seemed like an uh-oh we screwed up Marty year, I'm still happy it won, and it would have gotten my vote.

Best Director
Academy Winner/My Pick - Martin Scorsese "The Departed"
Commentary - This should have been his third Academy Award, and he would have deserved all three, had he been properly rewarded. This was a nice consolation prize either way.

Best Actor
Academy Winner - Forest Whitaker "The Last King of Scotland"
My Pick - Peter O'Toole "Venus"
Commentary - Forest Whitaker was incredible in The Last King of Scotland, and was easily the winner, despite the fact that he probably should have won for Best Supporting Actor instead. However, knowing how many times Peter O'Toole had lost at the Oscars, my heart probably would have overtaken my brain, and he would have gotten my vote.

Best Actress
Academy Winner/My Pick - Helen Mirren "The Queen"
Commentary - All hail the Queen! Mirren nailed her role as Elizabeth II, and raised what would have been decent TV movie to Oscar material.

Best Supporting Actor
Academy Winner - Alan Arkin "Little Miss Sunshine"
My Pick - Eddie Murphy "Dreamgirls"
Commentary - I liked Alan Arkin, but Eddie Murphy's transformation into Jimmy was not only the best of his career, but was one of the best parts of Dreamgirls.

Best Supporting Actress
Academy Winner/My Pick - Jennifer Hudson "Dreamgirls"
Commentary - Say what you will, but Jennifer Hudson blew me away in Dreamgirls. Maybe it was her emotion, her incredible voice, or her devastated appeal to all those that kept her down. Either way, she won me over.

Best Animated Feature
Academy Winner - Happy Feet
My Pick - Cars
Commentary - I thought Happy Feet was long and convulted, and while Cars is the weakest entry into the Pixar arsenal, I still would have voted for it.
Best Original Screenplay
Academy Winner/My Pick - Michael Arndt "Little Miss Sunshine"
Commentary - I was going back and forth between this and Pan's Labyrinth, but I stuck with the Academy's winner, because Little Miss Sunshine had the better story, whereas Pan's Labyrinth was more stylish and a directorial feat.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Academy Winner - William Monahan "The Departed"
My Pick - Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby "Children of Men"
Commentary - I like the departed, but I thought the script for the underappreciated Children of Men was much better, and it deserves some sort of award for being one of the most powerful and well-made movies of the last ten years.

Best Documentary Feature
Academy Winner/My Pick - An Inconvienent Truth
Commentary - I know some people hate Al Gore, don't believe in global warming, and think that it is all liberal propaganda. But whether you like it or not, I still suggest you see this funny, informational, and entertaining documentary.

Best Foreign Language Film
Academy Winner - The Lives of Others
My Pick - Pan's Labyrinth
Commentary - This one had two great choices, but I find it weird that for all the Pan's Labyrinth love from the Academy that it couldn't win this award. It was my favorite of the two, although the decision was a tough one as The Lives of Others is also incredible.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Larry Crowne Trailer

I am a sucker for Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, and I think no matter what it will be funny and charming. Check it out below:

If I Were An Academy Voter - 2007 Part II

Best Art Direction
Academy Winner/My Pick - Sweeney Todd
Commentary - The beautifully dreary sets of Sweeney Todd were great, and to be honest, I'm kind of surprised the Academy went for it, since it practically ignored it.

Best Cinematography
Academy Winner - Robert Elswit "There Will Be Blood"
My Pick - Roger Deakins "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Commentary - Roger Deakins should have more than one Oscar, and his work in the incredibly boring Assassination of Jesse James was beautiful, and was the best part of the film.

Best Costume Design
Academy Winner - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
My Pick - Atonement
Commentary - The green dress alone should have been enough for Atonement to win, and I find it hard to vote for Elizabeth, as the movie was simply terrible.

Best Film Editing
Academy Winner - The Bourne Ultimatum
My Pick - No Country For Old Men
Commentary - I liked the Bourne Ultimatum, but the editing was a little bit too jerky for me. No Country For Me managed to let scenes linger, yet still keep you in suspense the entire film, which may me more subtle, but still incredible editing job.

Best Makeup
Academy Winner/My Pick - La Vie En Rose
Commentary - Norbit? seriously? Oh well, the aging makeup of Marion Cotillard was fantastic, so it would have gotten my vote, but seriously, Norbit?!

Best Original Score 
Academy Winner/My Pick - Dario Marianelli "Atonement" 
Commentary - I enjoyed the classical score of Atonement ,and thought it enhanced the film tremendously.

Best Original Song
Academy Winner/My Pick - "Falling Slowly" from "Once"
Commentary - I never thought in a million years that the Academy would have actually given the Oscar to this amazing song. It was definitely moment of that night.

Best Sound Mixing
Academy Winner - The Bourne Ultimatum
My Pick - Transformers
Commentary - My vote rests on Kevin O'Connell who has 20 nominations and no wins, and Greg P. Russell who has 14 wins and no wins. How the Academy has ignored them for so long is a shame, and they should have won.

Best Sound Editing
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Bourne Ultimatum
Commentary - Ok, in terms of quality, The Bourne Ulimatum's intricate sound was amazing, so I probably would have split the sound awards to spread around the love.

Best Visual Effects
Academy Winner - The Golden Compass
My Pick - Transformers
Commentary - The Academy really screwed this one up. Love or hate Transformers (I find it kind of annoying personally), no one can deny the incredible effects, and the fact that it was completely snubbed for a less than stellar effects job in The Golden Compass.

2011 SXSW Film Festival Award Winners

More to come later:

Feature Film Jury Awards

Winner: Natural Selection
Director: Robbie Pickering

Grand Jury Winner: Natural Selection
Director: Robbie Pickering
Breakthrough Performances: Evan Ross – 96 Minutes, Rachael Harris – Natural Selection, and Matt O’Leary – Natural Selection
Best Screenplay: Natural Selection
Writer: Robbie Pickering
Best Editing: Natural Selection
Editor: Michelle Tesoro
Best Cinematography: A Year in Mooring
Director of Photography: Elliot Davis
Best Score/Music: Natural Selection
Music by: iZLER, Curt Schneider

Grand Jury Winner: Dragonslayer
Director: Tristan Patterson
Best Editing: Where Soldiers Come From
Editors: Kyle Henry & Heather Courtney
Best Cinematography: Dragonslayer
Director of Photography: Eric Koretz
Best Score/Music: The City Dark
Music by: The Fishermen Three, Ben Fries

Feature Film Audience Awards

Winner: Kumaré
Director: Vikram Gandhi

Winner: Becoming Santa
Director: Jeff Myers

Winner: Weekend
Director: Andrew Haigh

Short Film Jury Awards

Winner: Pioneer
Director: David Lowery

Winner: Mothersbane
Director: Jason Jakaitis

Director: Beomsik Shimbe Shim

Winner: Hollerado, “Americanarama”
Director: Greg Jardin

Winner: 8
Director: Julie Gould & Daniel Laabs

Winner: Silver Bullets
Designer: Yann Legendre
Audience Award Winner: Green
Designer: Adrian Kolarczyk

Winner: Blue Valentine
Designer: Jim Helton
Audience Award Winner: Blue Valentine
Designer: Jim Helton

SXSW Special Awards

Winner: The Eagleman Stag
Director: Mikey Please

Winner: Sophia Takal for Green

Winner: INCENDIARY: The Willingham Case
Directors: Steve Mims & Joe Bailey, Jr.

Presented to: Erin Casper

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, SXSW, and Fran Drescher

A few news, and notes about the entertainment world:
  • Last night, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted eight new members including Tom Waits, Alice Cooper, and Neil Diamond. They were announced last year, but as of last night, it is official.
  • Second stayed tuned for SXSW coverage, I am a little behind I know, but once some of the big movies come out and we get reactions, then we can start really thinking about the 2011 Oscar Season!
  • Finally, this is a personal thing, but I used to love Fran Drescher and The Nanny, and EW reports:
    • "Here’s one the populace has been clamoring for: The patented whine of Fran Drescher returning to series TV. The actress’ comedy pilot Happily Divorced is nearing a series order at TV Land. It’s about a woman who re-enters the dating scene and finds a new boyfriend after discovering her husband is gay. Now if that sounds an uninspired logline for a sitcom, it’s actually autobiographical. Drescher revealed last year that ex-husband Peter Marc Jacobson is gay and that she didn’t know his true orientation throughout their 21 years of marriage. Marc is also her collaborative partner who produced their previous comedy The Nanny and is on board for Happily Divorced."
      • This may annoy some people, but as someone who still hits up Nick at Nite, and sees all these great 90's shows, I never complain when one of my favorites gets a second chance at TV gold.

Monday, March 14, 2011

If I Were An Academy Voter - 2007 Part I

Best Picture
Academy Winner/My Pick - No Country For Old Men
Commentary - The Academy really got these awards right in 2007 (as you will see below), and their picking of No Country For Old Men showed me that they were not afraid to step outside the box. It didn't hurt that it simply was the best movie of 2007, and it would have easily gotten my vote.

Best Director
Academy Winner/My Pick - Joel and Ethan Coen "No Country For Old Men"
Commentary - The Coens not only deserved this for No Country, but for their incredible careers up to that point, as some of their classics like Fargo, were snubbed in the past.

Best Actor
Academy Winner/My Pick - Daniel Day-Lewis "There Will Be Blood"
Commentary - Daniel Day-Lewis is probably the greatest working actor, and in 2007 he was miles above his other competition in There Will Be Blood. While the movie as a whole was not my favorite, no one can deny the power of his performance.

Best Actress
Academy Winner/My Pick - Marion Cotillard "La Vie En Rose"
Commentary - I was so thrilled when this (at the time) unknown French actress upset her competitors and took home the gold. I love Julie Christie, but Marion Cotillard's devastatingly beautiful performance as Edif Piaf was one of the best performances of the decade. I am so glad that the Academy took notice

Best Supporting Actor
Academy Winner/My Pick - Javier Bardem "No Country For Old Men"
Commentary - Despite the haircut, Javier Bardem's Anton remains one of the greatest movie villains of all time, and all of the credit goes to the actor himself, for giving an hauting portrayal of a mad man with no conscience.

Best Supporting Actress
Academy Winner - Tilda Swinton "Michael Clayton"
My Pick - Amy Ryan "Gone Baby Gone"
Commentary - Tilda Swinton should be an Academy Award winner, but for other movies (like last year's Julia). I liked her in Michael Clayton, but it was definitely not her best performance. My heart wanted me to vote for the great Ruby Dee, but if I had to cast my ballot, it would have gone to the wonderful Amy Ryan, who plays trashy mother to a tee.

Best Animated Feature
Academy Winner/My Pick - Ratatouille
Commentary - Pixar once again struck gold with what today remains one of my favorite Pixar films, Ratatouille. It was miles above its competition.

Best Original Screenplay
Academy Winner - Diablo Cody "Juno"
My Pick - Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava, and Jim Capobianco "Ratatouille"
Commentary - This was a tough category, as I loved Juno, but in my heart, I know that I would have cast my vote for the uber-original Ratatouille.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Academy Winner/My Pick - Joel and Ethan Coen "No Country For Old Men"
Commentary - It takes a lot of work to write a script with very little dialogue, and the Coens pulled off a coup with a taut, suspenseful script that never let the audience have even one moment to breath from the terror of Anton, a true feat.

Best Documentary Feature
Academy Winner - Taxi to the Dark Side
My Pick - Sicko
Commentary - I know that Michael Moore can be an ass, but he makes damn good documentaries, and should have won his second Oscar for this look at our healthcare system.

Best Foreign Language Film
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Counterfeiters (Austria)
Commentary - Simply put, a great movie, and the best of the bunch.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sidebar Changes

While Jane Eyre is not getting the most stellar reviews, I went ahead and added it to the Oscar tracker, in order to rather be safe than sorry. I also added Win Win, a quirky comedy starring two previous Oscar nominees Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan, that looks to be a contender if it can retain its steam throughout the long season. Finally, while Battle: LA is getting terrible reviews, that will not stop it from being a contender in the Sound categories and Visual Effects, so I added it as well to those categories.

If I Were An Academy Voter - 2008 Part II

Best Art Direction
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Commentary - Curious Case was not as entertaining as Slumdog Millionaire, but was beautifully done, including its incredible sets. The Academy definitely got this one right.

Best Cinematography
Academy Winner - Slumdog Millionaire
My Pick - The Dark Knight
Commentary - As I mentioned in my first part, The Dark Knight should have been nominated for Best Picture, and the cinematography in it was dark, gritty, and beautifully done. Slumdog's may have been more vibrant, but I'm going with Batman.

Best Costume Design
Academy Winner - The Duchess
My Pick - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Commentary - This vote is simply because I thought The Duchess was terrible, and the costumes were so over the top that it was almost ridiculous. So instead I went with the more subtle Benjamin Button costumes which make a statement without being overwhelming.

Best Film Editing
Academy Winner - Slumdog Millionaire
My Pick - The Dark Knight
Commentary - The Dark Knight may have been long, but it was action-packed and thrilling all the way until the end, thanks to the incredible directing job and editing job. It would have gotten my vote.

Best Makeup
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Commentary - Besides the Joker's face, the best makeup job of 2008 was definitely in Benjamin Button. While The Dark Knight was nominated, I am going with the overall quality, and BB is the definite winner.

Best Original Score
Academy Winner/My Pick - A.R. Rahman "Slumdog Millionaire"
Commentary - The music in Slumdog was exhilarating and matched the tone and pace of Danny Boyle's direction perfectly. It was the least traditional of the bunch, but the also the best.

Best Original Song
Academy Winner/My Pick - Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire
Commentary - Of the three songs, the Academy definitely got it right with this energetic anthem from Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Sound Editing
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Dark Knight
Commentary - The Academy finally gave some recognition to The Dark Knight in a well-deserved win for a movie that, while it did not use many special effects (many of the scenes were done with acutal explosions and such), the sound was absolutely terrific.

Best Sound Mixing
Academy Winner - Slumdog Millionaire
My Pick - The Dark Knight
Commentary - See above.

Best Visual Effects
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Commentary - While it is probably the most subtle pick in this category, it is also the most intricate and lifelike special effects, and without them, there would have not been a movie, so it gets my vote.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

If I Were An Academy Voter - 2008 Part I

Best Picture
Academy Winner/My Pick - Slumdog Millionaire
Commentary - My pick would have been either The Dark Knight or WALL-E had they not be snubbed. So out of the bunch it came down to Slumdog Millionaire, a highly flying romance that, while it wasn't as revolutionary as it was claimed, definitely the best film of the five.

Best Director
Academy Winner/My Pick - Danny Boyle "Slumdog Millionaire"
Commentary - The reason that Slumdog Millionaire worked was because of the recently discovered visionary Danny Boyle. I also would have been happy with Fincher, but I prefered Slumdog to Curious Case, so Boyle gets my support.

Best Actor
Academy Winner - Sean Penn "Milk"
My Pick - Mickey Rourke "The Wrestler"
Commentary - Sean Penn should have won in 1995 (as you will see in a few weeks), so that in 2003, and in this year, another worthy performance could have been recognized. The realism, and honesty that Mickey Rourke brought to the completely underrated The Wrestler, was bar none the best performance of the year, although Penn was incredibly close. Plus this would have been a vote in recognition at the revival of Rourke's career.

Best Actress
Academy Winner - Kate Winslet "The Reader"
My Pick - Anne Hathaway "Rachel Getting Married"
Commentary - Kate Winslet should have won in 1997, (See Sean Penn above for a similar diatribe), then she wouldn't need this redemption win for a less-than-stellar Academy vehicle. While I love Meryl Streep, I think my vote would have gone to Anne Hathaway. It wasn't just the shock factor of the sweet Anne playing a druggie, but she showed that he was versatile, and it truly was an amazing performance.

Best Supporting Actor
Academy Winner/My Pick - Heath Ledger "The Dark Knight"
Commentary - See my Top Ten Performances of the Decade to see all of the reasons why Heath Ledger should have one, simply put he was amazing. Some people claim that he won because he had died, and that is a load of shit. Heath won this because he was the best.

Best Supporting Actress
Academy Winner - Penelope Cruz "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
My Pick - Viola Davis "Doubt"
Commentary - Vicky Cristina Barcelona was definitely one of Allen's better efforts of the last decade, and Cruz was hilarious, but Viola Davis packed so much emotion into her small screen time, that I remembered her performance hours after leaving the theatre.

Best Original Screenplay
Academy Winner - Dustin Lance Black "Milk"
My Pick - Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, & Pete Docter "Wall-E"
Commentary - Milk was definitely an excellent movie, but Wall-E was a revolutionary film. Who would have thought that an almost completely silent movie could be so endearing? That is because of its incredible script, and it would have gotten my vote.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Academy Winner - Simon Beaufoy "Slumdog Millionaire"
My Pick - Eric Roth and Robin Swicord "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Commentary - I loved Slumdog Millionaire, but it was on the back of Danny Boyle. In terms of the better story, the nod has to be given to the Curious Case writers that took a short story and turned it into an epic. That takes skill, and it was the strongest part of the film.

Best Animated Feature
Academy Winner/My Pick - Wall-E
Commentary - Duh!

Best Documentary Feature
Academy Winner/My Pick - Man on Wire
Commentary - It takes a lot for a documentary to not only be informational but also extremely entertaining, and Man on Wire was as high-flying as its acrobatic muse.

Monday, March 7, 2011

If I Were An Academy Voter - 2009 Part II

Best Art Direction
Academy Winner/My Pick - Avatar
Commentary - I know what I said about futuristic sets, but I didn't care for Sherlock Holmes or Nine, The Young Victoria was boring as hell, and The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, was cool, but the Art Direction looks like something a four year old drew, so I am going with Avatar out of default.

Best Cinematography
Academy Winner/My Pick - Avatar
Commentary - Well, since Avatar visually revolutionized film, I was happy to see the Academy award what is sure to be the future of filmmaking.

Best Costume Design
Academy Winner - The Young Victoria
My Pick - Bright Star
Commentary - Bright Star was snubbed in the since that it only got one measly nod. So, not only does it deserve this award for its vibrant costumes, but it deserves some recognition for being one of the most underrated films of 2009.

Best Film Editing
Academy Winner - The Hurt Locker
My Pick - Avatar
Commentary - The Hurt Locker was well put together, but the moments of intensity, didn't feel as intense as they should have, and I blame the film editor. However, despite being such a long movie, it never felt long, as I was completely enthralled and engrossed in this fast-paced epic. When I walked out of the theatre, I couldn't believe I had been sitting there for three hours, and that is all due to the film editor.

Best Makeup
Academy Winner/My Pick - Star Trek
Commentary - Not only is it the only film of the three I would consider even checking off on an Oscar ballot, but it really did have the best makeup of the bunch (okay I'll admit I did not see Il Divo, but my guess is that most Academy voters didn't either). Plus it was simply an awesome film that deserves some Academy recognition, and this would have been the place to do so.

Best Original Score
Academy Winner/My Pick - Michael Giacchino "Up"
Commentary - I was going to go with James Horner, but he's won before, and the music in Up was devine, plus it is always nice to see Pixar win other awards, hopefully, a sign of future award possibilities to come.

Best Original Song
Academy Winner/My Pick - "The Weary Kind" from "Crazy Heart"
Commentary - The Weary Kind was a hauntingly beautiful song, and perfectly captured the tone and beauty of the film. Definitely the best of the bunch, and my clear voting favorite.

Best Sound Editing
Academy Winner - The Hurt Locker
My Pick - Avatar
Commentary - Avatar was not just a treat for the eye, but for the ears as well. Capturing all the intricate sounds of Pandora, the creatures, the battles, everything. Definitely got my vote, and was snubbed.

Best Sound Mixing
Academy Winner - The Hurt Locker
My Pick - Avatar
Commentary - See Above.

Best Visual Effects
Academy Winner/My Pick - Avatar
Commentary - Duh?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sidebar Changes

So far there is only one contender, but on the sidebar, I will keep a running tally of any potential contenders that come out, as I did last year. Right now there is Rango for Best Animated Feature. The Oscar 2012 Race is on!

If I Were An Academy Voter - 2009 Part I

Best Picture
1. Avatar
2. Up in the Air
3. Up
4. Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire
5. Inglourious Basterds
6. An Education
7. The Hurt Locker
8. District 9
9. The Blind Side
10. A Serious Man
Academy Winner - The Hurt Locker
Commentary - I liked The Hurt Locker, as a directorial feat, but overall, I had to go with Avatar. I know there are a lot of haters out there about this movie, but like it or not, it got rave reviews, lots of nominations, made tons of money, and completely revolutionized the art of filmmaking. Let's face it, five years from now, no one is going to remember The Hurt Locker. It will be referred to as: "What's that movie that beat Avatar?" Next in line was the excellent Up in the Air, which was robbed and completely snubbed with no wins. This year, I was happy with ten nods, because there were so many great films, but in 2009, there weren't really enough to fill the slots, as less than stellar films like A Serious Man and The Blind Side managed to get nods, so once you get past number 6, I didn't really care how they were ordered.

Best Director
Academy Winner/My Pick - Kathryn Bigelow "The Hurt Locker"
Commentary - I appreciated Bigelow's work in The Hurt Locker, considering its budget. It was a well put together film, and Cameron has already won, so I would have voted for Bigelow. My next pick would have been Tarantino, as he is one of the greatest working directors out there.

Best Actor
Academy Winner/My Pick - Jeff Bridges "Crazy Heart"
Commentary - Maybe it is because I know in hindsight that Colin Firth was going to win this year, but I think either way, I would have gone with Bridges. Not only was he overdue, but he was absolutely fantastic in Crazy Heart, which I think should have gotten one of those ten spots for Best Picture.

Best Actress
Academy Winner - Sandra Bullock "The Blind Side"
My Pick - Gabourey Sidibe "Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire"
Commentary - I love Sandra Bullock, and was genuinely happy that she finally got some recognition. That being said, I was completely stunned by Gabby Sidibe's performance in Precious. To see her in an interview, being vibrant and vivacious, to then seeing her heart-breaking, jaw-dropping work, that was gritty, honest, and emotional shows me that she is a talent we should be watching in the next couple of years. She would have gotten my vote.

Best Supporting Actor
Academy Winner - Christoph Waltz "Inglourious Basterds"
My Pick - Christopher Plummer "The Last Station"
Commentary - Christoph Waltz definitely deserved this Oscar. But I consider Christopher Plummer to be one of the greatest actors in the English language, and the fact that this is his first Oscar nomination is an absolute travesty, and a black mark on the Academy's record. So my vote would have gone to Plummer, out of pure recognition for one of the best.

Best Supporting Actress
Academy Winner/My Pick - Mo'Nique "Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire"
Commentary - Up until the last scene, I thought Mo'Nique was great, but wasn't sure why she was so far ahead in this race. Then I saw here break down, and I realized just how talented Mo'Nique really is, and just how powerful this performance was. Plus I admire her snubbing of too much campaigning and relying in the performance itself. By God, it worked.

Best Original Screenplay
Academy Winner - Mark Boal "The Hurt Locker"
My Pick - Quentin Tarantino "Inglourious Basterds"
Commentary - Bigelow deserved to win, but Boal did not. Tarantino's script was miles above Boals, as Inglourious Basterds was it's script. I've decided that everytime Tarantino got nominated for Screenplay, I would have voted for him.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Academy Winner - Geoffrey Fletcher "Precious"
My Pick - Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner "Up in the Air"
Commentary - I was happy that a long-overdue barrier was broken with Fletcher's win. But the best script of the bunch was Up in the Air, and it was my number 2 movie of the year, so it would have gotten my vote.

Best Animated Feature
Academy Winner/My Pick - Up
Commentary - In a jam-packed year for Animation with Fantastic Mr. Fox, Princess and the Frog, and Coraline, Pixar once again proved to be ahead of the pack, and Up was definitely one of their best.

Best Documentary Feature
Academy Winner/My Pick - The Cove
Commentary - No doubt the best of the bunch, plain and simple.

Best Foreign Language Film
Academy Winner - El Secreto De Sus Ojos
My Pick - Un Prophete
Commentary - No offense to El Secreto De Sus Ojos which was a nice film from Argentina, but there was no better film in any language that Un Prophete, and it was robbed of a well-deserved Oscar.