Friday, November 30, 2012

2012 Producer's Guild Documentary Feature Nominees

The Producer's Guild of America has announced its nominees for Best Documentary Feature:

2012 PGA Documentary Feature Nominees
A People Uncounted
The Gatekeepers
The Island President
The Other Dream Team
Searching for Sugar Man

Academy Finalists for Best Live Action Short

Here are the 11 finalists announced for Best Live Action Short. I am not really familiar with any of them, but the names of Ron Howard and Bryce Dallas Howard stand out, and could be their path to Oscar glory, in her case, for the first time, similar to what Terry George did last year with The Shore.

“A Fábrica (The Factory),” Aly Muritiba, director (Grafo Audiovisual)

“Asad,” Bryan Buckley, director, and Mino Jarjoura, producer (Hungry Man)

“Buzkashi Boys,” Sam French, director, and Ariel Nasr, producer (Afghan Film Project)

“Curfew,” Shawn Christensen, director (Fuzzy Logic Pictures)

“Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw),” Tom Van Avermaet, director, and Ellen De Waele,
producer (Serendipity Films)

“Henry,” Yan England, director (Yan England)

“Kiruna-Kigali,” Goran Kapetanovic, director (Hepp Film AB)

“The Night Shift Belongs to the Stars,” Silvia Bizio and Paola Porrini Bisson, producers (Oh! Pen LLC)

“9meter,” Anders Walther, director, and Tivi Magnusson, producer (M & M Productions A/S)

“Salar,” Nicholas Greene, director, and Julie Buck, producer (Nicholas Greene)

“when you find me,” Ron Howard, executive producer, and Bryce Dallas Howard, director
(Freestyle Picture Company)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

10 Finalists for Best Visual Effects

In my opinion there are no real surprises here, and only a few snubs that I can think of including Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Impossible, The Hunger Games and Men in Black III, but really, the big films are all here, now we just have to weed out five for the actual nominations.

The Amazing Spider-Man
The Avengers
Cloud Atlas
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
John Carter
Life of Pi
Snow White and the Huntsman

Current Nomination Predictions
The Avengers
Cloud Atlas
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

State of the Oscar Race: November Predictions - Best Picture

November Predictions
Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
The Master
Django Unchained
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Other Contenders - Flight, Skyfall, The Sessions, Hitchcock, Amour, Moonrise Kingdom, Promised Land, The Impossible, The Dark Knight Rises, Anna Karenina

Commentary - It was just two weeks ago that I thought that Flight was riding high on a wave of buzz that could have ended in a Best Picture nod. A lot has happened during that time, and the buzz for Flight (and several other films) has dwindled and the recent slew of independent themed precursors has brought Beasts of the Southern Wild back to life, and with all these big studio films, there has to be room for a truly independent project and I think that Beasts is that film. In the last week, Les Miserables has screened and is a Oscar hit for sure. Zero Dark Thirty has screened as well, and while most critics are not calling it Oscar bait, they are still saying it is great, and probably a shoo-in for an Oscar nod. Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, and Lincoln are still very much in this race and seem to be the three from the festival circuit that are still real contenders for the win. Life of Pi is still in this as well, but despite it doing well at the box office I get the sense that it is not holding up as well as the previously mentioned three with the onslaught of Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty. The Master is also holding on, but for dear life. It needs critics awards now and soon. Finally, Django Unchained and The Hobbit will soon be seen and soon be known. Considering the pedigree involved in both I am sticking them in slots 9 and 10 until further noticed.

2012 Producer's Guild Award Television Nominees

The Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama:
  • “Breaking Bad” (AMC) Producers: Melissa Bernstein, Sam Catlin, Bryan Cranston, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Mark Johnson, Stewart Lyons, Michelle MacLaren, George Mastras, Diane Mercer, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett
  • “Downton Abbey” (PBS) Producers: Julian Fellowes, Gareth Neame, Liz Trubridge
  • “Game of Thrones” (HBO) Producers: David Benioff, Bernadette Caulfield, Frank Doelger, Carolyn Strauss, D.B. Weis
  • “Homeland” (Showtime) Producers: Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Michael Cuesta, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Michael Klick, Meredith Stiehm
  • “Mad Men” (AMC) Producers: Jon Hamm, Scott Hornbacher, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Victor Levin, Blake McCormick, Matthew Weiner

The Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Comedy:
  • “30 Rock” (NBC) Producers:  Irene Burns, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Vali Chandrasekaran, Luke Del Tredici, Tina Fey, Matt Hubbard, Marci Klein, Jerry Kupfer, Lorne Michaels, David Miner, Dylan Morgan, Jeff Richmond, John Riggi, Josh Siegal, Ron Weiner
  • “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS) Producers:  Chuck Lorre, Steve Molaro, Faye Oshima Belyeu, Bill Prady
  • “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO) Producers: Alec Berg, Larry Charles, Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Tim Gibbons, David Mandel, Erin O’Malley, Jeff Schaffer, Laura Streicher
  • “Louie” (FX) Producers:  Dave Becky, M. Blair Breard, Louis C.K.
  • “Modern Family” (ABC) Producers:  Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Morton, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Chris Smirnoff,  Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker
The Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television:
  • “American Masters” (PBS) Producers: Prudence Glass, Susan Lacy, Julie Sacks
  • “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” (Travel Channel) Producers:  Christopher Collins, Mike Steed, Lydia Tenaglia, Tom Vitale, Sandy Zweig
  • “Deadliest Catch” (Discovery Channel) Producers:  Thom Beers, Jeff Conroy, Sean Dash, John Gray, Sheila McCormack, Bill Pruitt, Decker Watson
  • “Inside the Actors Studio” (Bravo)  Producers: Producer eligibility pendin
  • “Shark Tank” (ABC) Producers: Rhett Bachner, Becky Blitz, Mark Burnett, Bill Gaudsmith, Yun Lingner, Brien Meagher, Clay Newbill, Jim Roush, Laura Skowlund, Paul Sutera, Patrick Wood
The Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television:
  • “The Colbert Report” (Comedy Central) Producers: Meredith Bennett, Stephen Colbert, Richard Dahm, Paul Dinello, Barry Julien, Matt Lappin, Emily Lazar, Tanya Michnevich Bracco, Tom Purcell, Jon Stewart
  • “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC) Producers: David Craig, Ken Crosby, Doug DeLuca, Erin Irwin, Jimmy Kimmel, Jill Leiderman, Jason Schrift, Jennifer Sharron
  •  “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” (NBC) Producers: Hillary Hunn, Lorne Michaels, Gavin Purcell, Michael Shoemaker
  • “Real Time with Bill Maher” (HBO) Producers:  Scott Carter, Sheila Griffiths, Marc Gurvitz, Dean Johnsen, Bill Maher, Billy Martin
  • “Saturday Night Live” (NBC) Producers: Ken Aymong, Steve Higgins, Erik Kenward, Lorne Michaels, John Mulaney
The Award for Outstanding Producer of Competition Television:
  • “The Amazing Race” (CBS) Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer, Elise Doganieri, Jonathan Littman, Bertram van Munster, Mark Vertullo
  • “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC) Producers: Ashley Edens Shaffer, Conrad Green, Joe Sungkur
  • “Project Runway” (Lifetime) Producers: Jane Cha Cutler, Desiree Gruber, Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum, Jonathan Murray, Sara Rea, Colleen Sands
  • “Top Chef” (Bravo) Producers: Daniel Cutforth, Casey Kriley, Jane Lipsitz, Dan Murphy, Nan Strait
  •  “The Voice” (NBC) Producers: Stijn Bakkers, Mark Burnett, John De Mol, Jamie Evans, Chad Hines, Audrey Morrissey, Richard A. Pizante, David Pritikin, Jim Roush, Nicolle Yaron (additional producers eligibility pending)
The Award for Outstanding Sports Program:
  • “24/7” (HBO)
  • “Catching Hell” (ESPN)
  • “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley” (HBO)
  • “On Freddie Roach” (HBO)
  • “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” (HBO)
The Award for Outstanding Children’s Program:
  • “Good Luck Charlie” (Disney Channel)
  • “iCarly” (Nickelodeon)
  • “Phineas and Ferb” (Disney Channel)
  • “Sesame Street” (PBS)
  • “The Weight of the Nation for Kids: The Great Cafeteria Takeover” (HBO)
The nominees of the Award for Outstanding Digital Series are listed below in alphabetical order:

Post Gotham and Indie Spirit Oscar Analysis

Some years, those that do well on the early indie circuit, particularly Gotham and The Independent Spirit awards, end up being nominated, and sometimes winning at the Oscars. This has become more prevalent in recent years, as the lines between mainstream and independent become blurred. This year, we have a great crop of independent films, however, with so many big, studio films doing so well, I think that this set of films is going to have a particularly difficult time breaking into the Oscar field. Here is the list of contenders that got a huge boost going into the critics awards next week, and those that faltered.

  • Beasts of the Southern wild has been consistently on people's Best Picture lists (it just recently got off of mine, but it now may sneak back on to it after its great performance at both Gotham and Indie Spirits). I have said all along that its hope for getting into that race is to have a strong precursor campaign. If it starts racking up critics notices in the coming weeks, I think its hopes continue to rise. The one thing still holding it back is SAG, but we have seen plenty of performances and films overcome lack of SAG, and even if it isn't eligible, that doesn't mean that it doesn't have support among actors.
  • Moonrise Kingdom, in my opinion, while being one of the year's best films is also just a little too quirky for the Academy as a whole. However, with it strong showing here, and maybe with a strong showing in the critics top ten lists, Moonrise can at least convince the writers branch to put it into Original Screenplay.
  • Silver Linings Playbook didn't really need a lot of help, and honestly, I didn't think it met the $20 million threshold, but alas it did in the eyes of the nomination comittee and the film scored several nods including Actor and Actress which are nice nods for two very realistic Oscar nominees, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.
  • Middle of Nowhere has been slowly building buzz from pundits, and after receiving four nominations including all three of its stars. I know that its screenplay did not make the cut this time (which is kind of ridiculous if you ask me), but I think that at the Oscars, this is the nomination it should aim for. Almost every year the writing branch of the Academy has a surprise nomination. That nod usually comes from an independent or foreign film that has received little Oscar buzz like Margin Call, In the Loop, Frozen River, etc. I think that if it makes some top ten lists and keeps up its buzz, it could join that list of surprise screenplay nominees.
  • Ann Dowd has been floated around for months as a Supporting Actress nominee. The category is weak, and is ripe for a surprise nominee. While I still don't think it will happen it is nice to see she hasn't been forgotten.
  • Jack Black has so much to overcome to get an Actor nod, and like Dowd I don't think it will happen, but as long as he keeps getting positive notices, then he stays in the conversation.
  • Matthew McConaughey has had a hell of a year, and next year looks to be pretty damn good as well. He scored not one, but two nominations (is Magic Mike independent? Ah who the hell cares!). I know people are counting him out of Supporting Actor as they don't see Magic Mike as the kind of film that gets looked at by Academy members. But like Dowd and Black ahead of him, he is on the cusp of being a surprise contender, and if not, it may help boost his chances in future projects that look baity.
  • Dwight Henry has so many legendary, big names to go up against this year, but he has still held on as a possibility. But I do have to say this. If they loved Beasts of the Southern Wild so much, how did he not get a nomination? This does not bode well for an Oscar nod, as it seems that all the support will be thrown behind Quvenzhane Wallis.
  • Shirley MacLaine. One again, with such a weak year in Supporting Actress, we have to look for dark horse contenders that could surprise. And while Bernie wasn't exactly the biggest hit in the world, people love Shirley MacLaine, and she is an acting legend. Getting an Indie Spirit nod would have been a nice boost, but alas, it looks like her Oscar hopes, like her character, are dead.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower did manage a First Feature nod, which is nice, but I thought that maybe the cast, especially Lerman and Miller were distinct possibilities.
My final thought is this. Obviously an Indie Spirit nod/win is nice, but it is the upcoming attractions, particularly the guild awards that really matter. As always, we'll have to wait and see what happens, but for now, I am happy to say that the Oscar race has officially begun!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2013 Independent Spirit Award Nominations

Best Feature
"Beasts of the Southern Wild"
"Keep the Lights On"
"Moonrise Kingdom"
"Silver Linings Playbook"

Best Director
Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Ira Sachs, "Keep the Lights On"
Julia Loktev, "The Loneliest Planet"
Wes Anderson, "Moonrise Kingdom"
David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook"

Best Actor
Jack Black, "Bernie"
Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"
John Hawkes, "The Sessions"
Thure Lindhardt, "Keep the Lights On"
Matthew McConaughey, "Killer Joe"
Wendell Pierce, "Four"

Best Actress
Linda Cardellini, "Return"
Emayatzy Corinealdi, "Middle of Nowhere"
Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Quvenzhané Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, "Smashed"

Best Supporting Actor
Matthew McConaughey, "Magic Mike"
David Oyelowo, "Middle of Nowhere"
Michael Peña, "End of Watch"
Sam Rockwell, "Seven Psychopaths"
Bruce Willis, "Moonrise Kingdom"

Best Supporting Actress
Rosemarie DeWitt, "Your Sister's Sister"
Ann Dowd, "Compliance"
Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"
Brit Marling, "Sound of My Voice"
Lorraine Toussaint, "Middle of Nowhere"

Best Screenplay
Ira Sachs, "Keep the Lights On"
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, "Moonrise Kingdom"
Zoe Kazan, "Ruby Sparks"
Martin McDonagh, "Seven Psychopaths"
David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook"

Best First Feature
"Fill the Void"
"Gimme the Loot"
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower"
"Safety Not Guaranteed"
"Sound of My Voice"

Best First Screenplay
Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, "Celeste and Jesse Forever"
Rama Burshtein, "Fill the Void"
Jonathan Lisecki, "Gayby"
Christopher Ford, "Robot and Frank"
Derek Connolly, "Safety Not Guaranteed"

Best Documentary
"The Central Park Five"
"How to Survive a Plague"
"The Invisible War"
"Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present"
"The Waiting Room"

Best Cinematography
Ben Richardson, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Roman Vasyanov, "End of Watch"
Lol Crawley, "Here"
Robert Yeoman, "Moonrise Kingdom"
Yoni Brook, "Valley of Saints"

Best International Film
"Once Upon a Time in Anatolia"
"Rust and Bone"
"War Witch"

John Cassavetes Award
"Breakfast With Curtis"
"The Color Wheel"
"Middle of Nowhere"
"Mosquita y Mari"

Robert Altman Award

Truer Than Fiction Award
"Only the Young"
"The Waiting Room"

Someone to Watch Award
Rebecca Thomas, "Electrick Children"
Adam Leon, "Gimme the Loot"
David Finker, "Pincus"

Producers' Award
"Nobody Walks"
"Prince Avalanche"
"Stones in the Sun"

22nd Annual Gotham Independent Award Winners

Best Feature - "Moonrise Kingdom"

Best Documentary- "How to Survive a Plague"

Best Ensemble Performance- "Your Sister's Sister"

Breakthrough Director - Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Breakthrough Actor - Emayatzy Corinealdi, "Middle of Nowhere"

Best Film Not Playing in a Theater Near You - "An Oversimplification of Her Beauty"

Bingham Ray Award - Benh Zeitlin

Monday, November 26, 2012

State of the Oscar Race: November Predictions - Best Director

Best Director
Ben Affleck "Argo"
Tom Hooper "Les Miserables"
Steven Spielberg "Lincoln"
David O. Russell "Silver Linings Playbook"
Kathryn Bigelow "Zero Dark Thirty"

Other Contenders - Ang Lee "Life of Pi", Paul Thomas Anderson "The Master", Quentin Tarantino "Django Unchained", Peter Jackson "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", Robert Zemeckis "Flight", Benh Zeitlen "Beasts of the Southern Wild", Ben Lewin "The Sessions", Michael Haneke "Amour"
Commentary - Of all the races, Director is probably the tighest and most interesting. At the top of the heap is Tom Hooper, who apparently has another hit on his hands. He could win two Oscars in three years, which is amazing for such a young director. But another young director is vying for his first nomination. Ben Affleck has proven himself a much better director than actor, and Argo is his best yet. Despite the onslaught of new films, I still think Argo will be a big contender, as will Affleck. Steven Spielberg missed the cut for War Horse last year, but with Lincoln he has simply raised the bar. His work is astonishing, and it ranks up there with Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, both of which he won Oscars for. I had taken David O.Russell out, but the more I look at this race, the more I think that Silver Linings will play well. It is the one film that is different than those around it. It is not epic or historical or filled with thousands of cast members. It is the small, emotional dramedy that has Weinstein behind it, and could be the upset candidate this year. If the film does so well, I assume Russell gets in. In the final slot, some may be shocked I moved out Ang Lee. I just get this hunch that while it will get a lot of nominations, Life of Pi will not be as a big of contender now that the other films are swooping in. PTA is still a choice but The Master is slipping, and Tarantino and Jackson are always possibilities if their films are great (which I kind of get the feeling that they are). But in the last slot I am going with Kathryn Bigelow. The film may not be the biggest Oscar bait ever, but she is clearly popular, the film is exceptionally relevant, and I think that it will be a huge critics honoree, and that the directors will recognize the skill involved and push her, and the film, into the mix.

Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty Confirmed Oscar Contenders

This past week/weekend, both Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty have finally be screened for critics and bloggers, and both have so far received enthusiastic responses.

First is Zero Dark Thirty because it has actual offical reviews, while Les Miserables is still embargoed (with Twitter the embargo system is kind of a joke now, but oh well). Apparently, Bigelow and Boal play it very straight on Zero Dark Thirty, they don't over-politicize it, they don't provide psychological backgrounds on their charaters. This is almost a documentary style film that tells the story itself, and that's it. Considering that the story itself is taut, riveting, and interesting enough to stand on its own, I applaud their decision, and am really excited to finally see this film.

According to Todd McCarthy at The Hollywood Reporter, Zero Dark Thirty, "matches form and content to pretty terrific ends. A long-arc account of the search for Osama bin Laden seen from the perspective of an almost insanely focused female CIA officer who never gives up the hunt until the prey ends up in a body bag, Kathryn Bigelow's and Mark Boal's heavily researched successor to Oscar winner The Hurt Locker will be tough for some viewers to take, not only for its early scenes of torture, including waterboarding, but due to its denial of conventional emotionalism and non-gung ho approach to cathartic revenge-taking. Films touching on 9/11, such as United 93, World Trade Center and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, have proved commercially toxic, and while this one has a “happy” ending, its rigorous, unsparing approach will inspire genuine enthusiasm among the serious, hardcore film crowd more than with the wider public." So basically McCarthy recognizes that this is a film for film buffs. Sasha Stone and Kris Tapley both agree that Zero Dark Thirty is one of the years best, but Kris has some reservations similar to those of McCarthy. He thinks that it may be too dark, too gritty, and too dense for some viewers, and maybe even some Oscar voters. My thought is that it will have to fight this year against some strong competition, and probably won't win Best Picture, but from what I can tell, it is still a Best Picture nominee for sure, and let's not forget that The Hurt Locker wasn't exactly an audience or Academy-friendly film either and it won the big prize.

The last thing that keeps popping up regarding Zero Dark Thirty is Jessica Chastain. As I said before, this is not a film that gives background to its characters. So the rave reviews for the depth and magnetism of Chastain's role show that she is, not only the clear star of the film, but is also destined for a Best Actress nomination. She may not be able to overcome the more emotional role of Jennifer Lawrence's Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook, but at least she makes the race a lot more interesting than it has been all season long.

While there are some reservations about Zero Dark Thirty, I have yet to hear any about Tom Hooper's epic musical Les Miserables. Guaranteed, there have been no official reviews yet, but for those who are professional Oscar pundits, they have no doubt that Les Mis will be one of the best films of the year, and one of the biggest Oscar contenders. Not only is it a technical feat (which was expected), it apparently has so many great performances it is going to be hard to pick your favorite. Anne Hathaway apparently confirms her frontrunner status, and may have Helena Bonham Carter and Samantha Barks joining her in the top five. Hugh Jackman has also added his name to the crowded Best Actor race, and I think may bump out lighter roles by Bradley Cooper or Anthony Hopkins. The praise I was happiest to see was for Hooper. I agree he wasn't the Best Director of 2010 (a nice second but no where near Fincher), but I still enjoyed The King's Speech tremendously and liked his creative choices. Despite my praise, most people battered him with hate just because he got more votes, and I am happy to see that many of the comments so far have also mentioned that he succeeds in his artistic vision and basically directs his ass off.

Luckily, I had already included these two films in most of my predictions so I don't have to go back and redo all of them, and even more I love the fact that this is turning into such a competitive year for great films as Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty add to Argo, Lincoln, Life of Pi, and Silver Linings Playbook as top contenders, hopefully making this season more exciting and suspenseful than the last couple of years.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

State of the Oscar Race: November Predictions - Technical/Animated/Foreign

Best Animated Feature
Le Tableau
Wreck-It Ralph

Other Contenders - Rise of the Guardians, The Rabbi's Cat, Zarafa, A Liar's Autobiography, From Up on Poppy Hill, Madagascar 3: Europes Most Wanted

Best Foreign Language Film
Amour (Austria)
Fill the Void (Israel)
The Intouchables (France)
No (Chile)
A Royal Affair (Denmark)

Other Contenders - Lore (Australia), Our Children (Belgium), War Witch (Canada), Barbara (Germany), Sister (Switzerland)

Best Production Design
Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
The Master

Other Contenders - Life of Pi, Cloud Atlas, Django Unchained, Prometheus, The Impossible, The Dark Knight Rises, A Royal Affair, Argo, Mirror Mirror

Best Cinematography
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Life of Pi

Other Contenders - Anna Karenina, Zero Dark Thirty, The Master, Django Unchained, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Cloud Atlas, The Impossible, The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus

Best Costume Design
Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Mirror, Mirror

Other Contenders - A Royal Affair, Django Unchained, Argo, Cloud Atlas, The Master, Snow White and the Huntsman, Hitchcock

Best Film Editing
Les Miserables
Zero Dark Thirty
Silver Linings Playbook

Other Contenders - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Flight, The Master, The Impossible, Anna Karenina, Cloud Atlas, Skyfall, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Dark Knight Rises

Best Makeup and Hair
Cloud Atlas
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Other Contenders - Men In Black III, Les Miserables, Hitchcock, The Impossible, Skyfall, Anna Karenina, Holy Motors, Looper

Best Original Score
Dario Marianelli "Anna Karenina"
Dan Romer and Behn Zeitlen "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Howard Shore "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
Mychael Danna "Life of Pi"
John Williams "Lincoln"

Other Contenders - Argo, Cloud Atlas, The Master, Silver Linings Playbook, Brave, Rise of the Guardians, Moonrise Kingdom, The Impossible, The Sessions

Best Original Song
Song From the Lonely Mountain - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Midnight Run - Lawless
Suddenly - Les Miserables
Still Alive - Paul Williams Still Alive
Skyfall - Skyfall

Other Contenders - Touch the Sky - Brave, Learn Me Right - Brave, From Here to the Moon and Back - Joyful Noise, Still Dream - Rise of the Guardians, Not Enough - Joyful Noise

Best Sound Mixing
The Dark Knight Rises
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Zero Dark Thirty

Other Contenders - The Avengers, Life of Pi, Flight, Prometheus, The Impossible, Argo, Cloud Atlas, Looper, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Brave

Best Sound Editing
The Avengers
Django Unchained
The Dark Knight Rises
Zero Dark Thirty

Other Contenders - Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Flight, Prometheus, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Impossible, Brave

Best Visual Effects
The Avengers
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi

Other Contenders - Cloud Atlas, Prometheus, The Impossible, Looper, Flight

State of the Oscar Race - November Predictions: Best Actor

November Predictions
Daniel Day-Lewis "Lincoln"
John Hawkes "The Sessions"
Hugh Jackman "Les Miserables"
Joaquin Phoenix "The Master"
Denzel Washington "Flight"

Other Contenders - Bradley Cooper "Silver Linings Playbook", Anthony Hopkins "Hitchcock", Christoph Waltz "Django Unchained", Suraj Sharma "Life of Pi", Richard Gere "Arbitrage", Jamie Foxx "Django Unchained", Ben Affleck "Argo", Jean Louis-Trintignant "Amour"
Commentary - The four that seem to be the frontrunners still hold their positions heading into December. Daniel Day-Lewis is a force to be reckoned with in Lincoln, and I honestly don't think there is anyone at the moment that can beat him. Unless the precursors suddenly back say a John Hawkes or a Joaquin Phoenix, I think that Day-Lewis will be the one to beat. While The Sessions as a whole may not make too big of a mark, both Hawkes and Hunt remain very much in both of their respective races. As does Joaquin Phoenix, although if The Master continues to slip, and Phoenix continues to run his mouth, I think that voters may not be so kind to him and he could be the one that surprisingly gets left out come nomination morning. Flight continues to garner buzz, and I think that the film could be a Best Picture contender, and if not, then Denzel still has a slot waiting for it. The final slot is kind of tricky. Bradley Cooper has yet to make my top five this season, and I am starting to wonder if he has enough backing to do so. Weinstein's presence helps, as does the film's Best Picture buzz. But I still think that this race is so stacked that he is going to have to bump someone big (which may be Weinstein's other big guy Phoenix). Anthony Hopkins gets bumped out as Hitchcock's buzz seems to have come and gone very quickly, but an Oscar winner playing a legendary director, in a movie about movies might be hard to pass up, especially for the older Academy crowd. So instead, I am going with Hugh Jackman. I will post very soon about the recent screenings of Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty (once I get a bit more consensus), but word so far is that Les Mis is a hit, and that Jackman and Hathaway are its standouts. And since it is such a big ensemble, I think that actors will like it enough to get in several of its cast members, especially Jackman.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review: Skyfall

So, after all the buzz I have been hearing, and all the speculation about its suddenly increased Oscar chances, I finally got to sit down and see the newest Bond flick Skyfall. Now I have been mixed over the history of Bond. Some of them are awesome classics, and some of them are just bad. Well I am happy to say that not only is Skyfall in the "awesome classics" column, but it is possibly the best Bond film ever made, maybe besides Goldfinger.

The first scene is an action packed chase after an operative in Turkey which leads to Bond being shot due to a call by M. Then we see an awesome title sequence featuring Adele's Skyfall, and finally the story really begins. Bond is no longer the slick agent we have come to know. He is popping pills and drinking like a fish, and while he survived, his abilities and confidence as an agent have been shaken. Meanwhile back at headquarters, M is getting a lot of crap from the beaucratic machine, calls for her resignation and the retirement of the secret agent program. This is particularly true after an explosion at MI-6 headquarters, which does bring Bond back, but also questions the integrity and competence of M and her staff. We find out that the villain this time is going at the heart of the matter. Silva was a former agent who was abandoned by M on a mission and is now out seeking revenge. So Bond not only has to stop the villain from continuing to release top secret information that he has stolen by hacking into MI-6's computers, but he must fight to save the one person who has always been there for him, M.

Skyfall is a dizzy and wildy entertaining combination of classic Bond, with its themes, music and kick-ass cars, and a heartfelt character study that finally gives some depth to any otherwise one-dimensional character that had started to run its course after the disappoting Quantum of Solace. This is thanks to the addition of Sam Mendes at the helm. He never tries to compromise what has made the series one of the most successful in movie history, but he also finds ways to bring to the table the style and depth that have made his films uniquely emotional. First, his portrayal of Bond as a broken man, shows that even our heroes can sometimes be shaken. This is not a new theme in films, but it is for Bond movies, so it has the feel of something refreshing. Second, Mendes choice to include an origin story proved to provide emotional depth. We finally see where he came from, and why M has always remained such an important figure to him in the absence of his parents. And although it too bares a striking resemblance to other films (cough...Batman Begins...cough), it may also serve as a launching pad for future Bond stories as we continue to explore how he came to be 007. The final thing that Mendes does, is pay tribute to the classic Bond. While he celebrates the future (look at Ben Whishaw's Q), he also ends up playing it old school, showing that sometimes the old-fashion way of doing things works a lot better than all the new-fangled technology (which has suddenly been hacked).

Mendes vision combines with a screenplay (thanks in part to the addition of John Logan) that does its part, an incredible technical team including some of the best in the buisness that make this film a treat for the eyes and the ears, and a wonderful cast who all step up their game, particularly Javier Bardem as the deliciously evil Silva, and the always fantastic Judi Dench, who finally gets a Bond film that lets her show off her acting prowless, to create what is the best Bond film in years. It is still slick, edgy, and action-packed, but it also manages to flawlessly insert personal history and emotional depth in a way that never takes away from its entertainment value, but actually manages to enhance it. Skyfall will certaintly end up as one of the year's best, and maybe, just maybe, it can see some Oscar glory. I'm sure Best Picture is a pipe dream, but its cinematography, screenplay, sound, and its supporting cast should all be in the mix, as should Mendes, for making Bond something worth watching again.

Grade: A-

Oscar Potential: Picture, Director, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Production Design, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects.

State of the Race: November Oscar Predictions - Best Actress

November Predictions
Jessica Chastain "Zero Dark Thirty"
Marion Cotillard "Rust & Bone"
Jennifer Lawrence "Silver Linings Playbook"
Emmanuelle Riva "Amour"
Quvenzhane Wallis "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Other Contenders - Helen Mirren "Hitchcock", Kiera Knightley "Anna Karenina", Naomi Watts "The Impossible", Meryl Streep "Hope Springs", Mary Elizabeth Winstead "Smashed", Emayatzi Cornealdi "Middle of Nowhere", Judi Dench "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", Maggie Smith "Quartet"
Commentary - People have been talking about how weak this race is, yet I think that while there aren't a lot of names on the shortlist, those that are will have to play out for a tight spot in the top five. Jennifer Lawrence, whose SLP has finally hit theaters still remains the frontrunner, but in the months since she shot up to number one, a new contender has emerged. Zero Dark Thirty has started to be screened and while it is still early, word is that Jessica Chastain is definitely going to be a force to reckoned with. Two of Hollywood's youngest and brightest stars are going to probably be battling in out on their second nomination each for their first Oscar. Kind of amazing if you ask me. The last three slots though are tricky, and since Chastain is still not a sure thing, this could expand to four. I still think that Naomi Watts or Kiera Knightley could break into the category again, but both need their films to defy expectations and hit the precursor circuit well in order to stay in the race. Helen Mirren shot up with Hitchcock, but upon further examination, and quiet buzz, I don't think she is a sure thing. But she, Meryl Streep (despite lack of any campaign), Judi Dench, and Maggie Smith all have something going for them. They are all legendary, Oscar-winning actress, and while I don't think any of them will get nominated. If all of these young names, or unknown names, scare them then could turn to the old favorites, so they can't be discounted. But for the moment, I am sticking to the buzziest roles. The first is Quvenzhane Wallis, who seems to be holding on to momentum despite the onslaught of new films. The second is Emmanuelle Riva, who I think will also hold in place, despite her foreign status. The last slot for me is shaky. Marion Cotillard is high on most people's lists, and I think she is incredible in Rust & Bone, but she missed the European Film nominations, and the project's buzz as a whole is dead. She has missed the cut for lots of great roles, and I think the thing that is saving her from no buzz is the weaker category. She is still in this thing, but don't be surprised if by the end, she is left off the list.

Friday, November 23, 2012

State of the Race: November Oscar Predictions - Best Supporting Actor

November Predictions
Alan Arkin "Argo"
Robert DeNiro "Silver Linings Playbook"
Leonardo DiCaprio "Django Unchained"
Philip Seymour Hoffman "The Master"
Tommy Lee Jones "Lincoln"

Other Contenders - John Goodman "Flight", John Goodman "Argo", Dwight Henry "Beasts of the Southern Wild", Russell Crowe "Les Miserables", Javier Bardem "Skyfall", Samuel L. Jackson "Django Unchained", Bryan Cranston "Argo", Matthew McConaughey "Magic Mike", William H. Macy "The Sessions", Michael Pena "End of Watch", Ewan McGregor "The Impossible", Tom Holland "The Impossible", Jim Broadbent "Cloud Atlas"
Commentary - This race is filled with so many big names that it seems to good to be true. First and foremost at the moment is Academy Award winner Tommy Lee Jones, who has quietly delivered two of the best performances of the year. The first in, what is sure to be a Golden Globe nominated performance, Hope Springs, and then this brilliant turn as Thaddeus Stevens. But not far behind him is the bravura performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master. He is a co-lead rather than supporting, which definitely helps, but the film continues to slip as the season goes on, so while I still think a nomination is a lock, a win is not so certain. Two old-school legendary actors both deliver great performances, Alan Arkin and Robert DeNiro in Argo and Silver Linings Playbook respectively. Both are Academy favorites in Best Picture favorites, and unless an unseen contender springs up and steals thunder, consider them both in. Now the fifth slot to me is a little tricky. John Goodman should get in for at least one of his roles this year, but vote splitting may hurt him. Hopefully some precursors get behind one film and push him into the race. Dwight Henry is still a possible, but Beasts of the Southern Wild needs a Indie Spirit/critics boost if it wants to get anything outside of Quvenzhane Wallis. Les Miserables just screened, but Crowe has yet to be named as a standout, but if he is, then expect him to do well on the circuit. Javier Bardem is deliciously evil in Skyfall (a review will be posted soon), but the film needs to defy expectations on the circuit, and challenge 50 years of ignoring Bond films to break through in non-technical categories. So where am I going for slot number five? In house reviews say the Leonardo Dicaprio (and Sam Jackson) are awesome in Django Unchained. If the film doesn't hold up, then someone else takes the slot, but for now I am holding on with DiCaprio, who is overdue for an Oscar win.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

State of the Race: November Oscar Predictions - Best Supporting Actress

November Predictions
Amy Adams "The Master"
Samantha Barks "Les Miserables"
Sally Field "Lincoln"
Anne Hathaway "Les Miserables"
Helen Hunt "The Sessions"

Other Contenders - Jacki Weaver "Silver Linings Playbook", Kerry Washington "Django Unchained", Maggie Smith "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", Frances McDormand "Promised Land", Pauline Collins "Quartet", Kelly Reilly "Flight", Judi Dench "Skyfall", Scarlett Johanssen "Hitchcock", Ann Dowd "Compliance", Emily Blunt "Looper", Helena Bonham Carter "Les Miserables", Amanda Seyfried "Les Miserables"
Commentary - This is one of those strange races, where in terms of normal contenders there are simply not enough of them and the category is weak. But when you look at potential winners, there really is a race between the top four ladies. If Les Miserables is good (which we will know as screenings start for critics this weekend), then Anne Hathaway is definitely still in the mix. I am also betting in my fifth slot on Samantha Barks as Eponine is a big role. If Les Mis is not good, then this category is even weaker than people thought. Even if the bottom drops out though there are still some big performances. Helen Hunt may not have been everyone's choice in 1997 for Best Actress, but she is turning heads and getting rave reviews for her role in The Sessions, and since it is basically a lead role, she could be hard to beat. Amy Adams is great in The Master, but she lacks a big Oscar scene and the film is slipping. But she has been nominated several times without a win, and is overdue. Sally Field has never lost an Oscar race and she is tearing it up as Mary Todd Lincoln. She may be a safe choice for the Academy, but not a bad one. There are some performances that are on the cusp, but have some issues facing their campaigns and needs some of the top ladies to slip. One is Maggie Smith. She is an acting legend, but needs a big BAFTA and studio push as Best Exotic is slowly being forgotten. Both Kerry Washington and Jackie Weaver are apparently memorable, but both are very small parts, so they will have to heavily campaign to stay in the fight. The outside shots include Frances McDormand (apparently Promised Land isn't that great), Pauline Collins, Kelly Reilly, Judi Dench, Ann Dowd, and maybe some more of the Les Mis actors.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Staet of the Race: November Oscar Predictions - Best Adapted Screenplay

November Predictions
Chris Terrio "Argo"
Phillippa Boyens, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, & Guillermo del Toro "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
David McGee "Life of Pi"
Tony Kushner, John Logan, and Paul Webb "Lincoln"
David O. Russell "Silver Linings Playbook"

Other Contenders - Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin "Beasts of the Southern Wild", Ben Lewin "The Sessions", Ol Parker "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", Tom Stoppard "Anna Karenina", William Nicholson "Les Miserables", Judd Apatow "This is 40", Jose Rivera "On the Road", John J. McLaughlin "Hitchcock", John Logan Patrick Marber Neal Purvis and Robert Wade "Skyfall", Stephen Chbosky "The Perks of Being a Wallflower", Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan "The Dark Knight Rises"

Commentary - There are three films that I think will end up slinging this out for the prize: Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, and Lincoln. Argo is still the frontrunner, although the recent releases of the other two films have boosted its competition, and until precursors start sorting it out, I think that this could go to either of them. I think the one to watch for is Lincoln, and not just because I loved the film. I think that it is literary and its dialogue is fantastic, and while Terrio's Argo script is taut and tight, some voters may prefer the more melodic and old-school sound and feel of Lincoln more. We'll just have to wait and see. In the last two spots I have decided to exclude something I have included all season. Beasts of the Southern Wild could easily still get in, but it needs some critics support and it needs it soon. As the onslaught of Oscar movies has come upon us, Beasts is being talked about less and less. The Indie Spirit nods on Nov. 27th, will certaintly help its cause, but it actually needs more. Instead I have added Life of Pi. I know I said I didn't think its screenplay would get in, but as it becomes one of the four frontrunners for BP (which could change in about a week or two as the screenings for the big four happen), then its screenplay, especially in a year which is not as strong as normal in this category, is surely a safe bet. The final slot may still surpise people. I know that The Hobbit's buzz is muted at this moment, because most pundits believe that it has a been there done that quality. But I still maintain that it will be a huge hit over the holidays, and that it will also probably be a good film. And while the director's race may be too much for Jackson to get into, I think that it gets at least one big nod, and I think this is the one.

Monday, November 19, 2012

State of the Race: November Oscar Predictions - Best Original Screenplay

November Predictions
Michael Haneke "Amour"
Quentin Tarantino "Django Unchained"
John Gatins "Flight"
Paul Thomas Anderson "The Master"
Mark Boal "Zero Dark Thirty"

Other Contenders - Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola "Moonrise Kingdom", Ava DuVernay "Middle of Nowhere", Matt Damon David Eggars and John Krasinski "Promised Land", Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano "The Intouchables", Reid Carolin "Magic Mike", Sergio G. Sanchez "The Impossible", Vanessa Taylor "Hope Springs", Rian Johnson "Looper", David Chase "Not Fade Away", Brenda Chapman and Irene Mecci "Brave"

Commentary - Before the storm of the critics awards starts up and the screenings of the last few films gets underway, let's take a look at the Oscar race here in the calm before the storm. As always, the screenplays will probably afford some surprises, so the predictions are rocky at best. On the rise is the tiny Sundance hit Middle of Nowhere, which is gaining buzz on the Oscar blogosphere. The writer's branch always seems to throw in one of these indie favorites, so while I am not currently predicting it, I think Middle of Nowhere could be that film this year. Moonrise Kingdom was in my list for a while, but it needs some precursors soon otherwise it is going to be forgotten come January. At the moment it looks like despite slipping in the race and also in need of critics awards, The Master's script by Paul Thomas Anderson is still one of the top contenders. But it also, as a film, needs some help soon, or this might be one of its few nods. Michael Haneke's Amour is still holding up as well, and could be the one foreign language contender to look out for in both screenplay categories. While they have not really been screened yet (people have seen them but not outside studio groups), both Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained and Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty remain in this category as well. While I'm worried that Django Unchained is going to not be an Academy favorite, I still think it could hit here and in Supporting actor with Leo. In the final slot I am going with the newest Oscar contender, Flight. It's gotten rave reviews from critics, and seems to be on people's minds (with a potential screener being sent out today). I think it is definitely in the shaky fifth slot, but with its momentum growing, and possible Best Picture talk, I think it could have an effect down the ballot.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The 40th Annual American Music Award Winners

I will be live blogging the winners throughout the show, so check back to see who took home the trophies! Okay so I have given up. I will update the winners tomorrow:

Artist of the Year - Justin Bieber
New Artist of the Year - Carly Rae Jepsen
Favorite Pop/Rock Album - Justin Bieber "Believe"
Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist - Justin Bieber
Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist - Katy Perry
Favorite Pop/Rock Duo/Group - Maroon 5
Favorite R&B Male Artist - Usher
Favorite R&B Female Artist - Beyonce
Favorite R&B Album - Rihanna "Talk That Talk"
Favorite Country Ablum - Carrie Underwood "Blown Away"
Favorite Country Male Artist - Luke Bryan
Favorite Country Female Artist - Taylor Swift
Favorite Country Duo/Group - Lady Antebellum
Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist - Nicki Minaj
Favorite Hip Hop Album - Nicki Minaj "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded"
Favorite Alternative Rock Music Artist - Linkin Park
Favorite Electronica/Dance Music Artist - David Guetta
Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist - Adele
Favorite Latin Artist - Shakira
Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist - tobyMac

Top 100 Films of the 1990's: Finale

5. Toy Story (1995) - Every once in a while a film comes along that changes the game completely. After reviving themselves in the ten years before Toy Story, Disney, combined with the newly computer-generated company Pixar simply broke the mold with this stunningly animated and incredibly moving tale about a boy and his toys. The story was simple, an old-school toy faces the threat of the new fangled space toy, and together they must face the challenges in front of them to be loyal to the boy that cherishes their companionship. It is a heartbreaking, funny, and moving film that completely redefined animation, made it a player on the big game equal to its live-action counterparts, and started a storied tradition of film excellence by one of the most successful film studios of the last twenty years. On a film level, it is a beautifully written, beautifully voiced, and beautifully rendered film that appeals to kids of all ages, 4-100. But on a greater level, Toy Story remains one of the greatest film of the 1990's, because of the legacy it created, the era of animation that it brought on, and the continued promise of its premise, that a toy is not just a child's plaything, it is something that we all cling to for fun and answers when the world gets tough. It that's not a game changer, I don't know what is.

4. Saving Private Ryan (1998) - I just recently saw Lincoln, and it is Spielberg's best film since this 1998 World War II classic, which still is raved about by WWII veterans who say that Spielberg presented the most realistic depiction of the invasion of D-Day ever seen on the silver screen. But that is just the first part of this film, and while it is the most talked about, it is only a small part of what makes Saving Private RYan such a great film. The rest shows a dedicated army unit braving the war-torn European countryside to find the third son for a grieving mother who has lost her other two. Spielberg manages to make both a beautifully shot, yet harrowing and suspenseful war epic, as well as a quiet and important movie that dissects the relationships that form between soldiers, the lengths they will go to save one of their own, and the bravery and heroism they display while fighting for their country. It is not only a well-acted, well-written, well-directed, and simply well-made film, it is also one of the most important films released in the 1990's. It finally gave us the most realisitic look at the most importnat and defining period in our history. And, as in all of his historical films, Spielberg's attention to detail and passion is evident, and exudes from every frame, turning this into something above the mundane, something extraordinary.

3. Goodfellas (1990) - The 1990's were not the best period for Martin Scorsese in terms of his films, but amongst some of his weaker efforts, lies one of his best and most dynamic films of his long storied career. Since the Godfather films of the 1970's and Scorsese's Mean Streets (excluding Part III which had premeired the year before Goodfellas), no one had been able to capture the mood and essence of gangster films. That was, until 1991, when one of the best directors working today took on the subject and nailed it. While Goodfellas may still lag behind the first two Godfathers (most films do for that matter), It succeeded in reviving the genre and bringing it to a new generation. It also proved that Scorsese had a knack for long gangster epics, making them incredibly gritty and violent, while also having a sheen of mainstream magic. It perfectly captures the rise and fall of a man who started young, and eventually saw his life crumbling around him. Scorsese also manages to blend in long-term characterizations, family life, and some humor the way Coppola did, which makes this a much deeper film and gives life and meaning as to why the mob does what it does. Goodfellas will always be remembered as a gangster classic, but because of the wonderful cast, and Scorsese's keen directing vision, it will also be remembered as one of the best, period.

2. Schindler's List (1993) - Well apparently, this weekend is Spielberg-palooza here at The Awards Psychic. Of course there is a very good reason for this, and that is that within his lifetime, he has created some of the most lasting films, and film images in American culture. Of his major contributions to the American historical dialogue, none have been more lasting and impressionable than his 1993 concentration camp classic Schindler's List which remains today one of the greatest films ever made period. It's black and white noir style enhances its image and power, but it is the story itself, along with some endearing performances, that make this film the classic that it is. It is one of the most emotionally harrowing films to watch, its insistence on bleakness and reality may turn away some viewers, but it is what gives the film its power and substance. Like Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg understands the weight of his material, and treats it with care and passion, that still retains the importance and historical heft of the Holocaust, while also turning it into a visual Hollywood masterpiece that engages. Also like Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List remains one of the most important films of the 1990's, one that should be seen and absorbed by all, to get a truly haunting and substantial image of one of the most horrific genocides of all time.

1. Pulp Fiction (1994) - I have said so much about Pulp Fiction that I will not bore you again with another rambling diatribe about its greatness. It is pulpy, myterious, bloody, ridiculous, funny, and simply put, one of the most entertaining and original films of all time, cementing the unique and wild style of Quentin Tarantino as one to watch. So in the end, the 1990's turned out to be one of the best decades for film, particularly after the 1980's which simply doesn't compare to the ones sandwiching it. And at the of the pile is Tarantino's masterpiece, the best film of the 1990's, Pulp Fiction.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Review: Lincoln

Something occured to me as I was sitting in the theater watching Lincoln unfold before me: Steven Spielberg, after decades of films, continues to grow as a filmmaker, and never in his history has he made a film quite like Lincoln. Sure he has tackled heavy historical issues in films like Schindler's List, War Horse, Munich, and Saving Private Ryan, all Best Picture nominees in their respective years. But Lincoln is something that has broke the mold for Spielberg, and could turn around his film trajectory from now on. This is not another epic historical drama. Instead, Lincoln is a quiet, talky, introspective film about one of the most unassuming and brilliant men to ever hold the highest office in the land. It is wonky, focusing on the internal politics of the White House and its relationship with Congress. It focues on the bribery, the arm-twisting, and the ideals behind probably the most important piece of legislation passed in the 19th century. But while it is so different and so un-Spielberg-like, I am also happy to say that Lincoln is absolutely brilliant, and one of the best films of the year, and Spielberg's best in a long time.

Starting in January of 1865, Lincoln (Daniel-Day Lewis) tells the story of how the president, by the urging of Secretary of State William Seward hires a band of ear-bending roughnecks (brilliantly portrayed by James Spader, John Hawkes, and Tim Blake Nelson) start to persuade Democratic congressmen to change their votes on the 13th Amendment, which has been stalled in the House of Representatives. Throughout this journey to pass it, we see Lincoln come to terms with the Radical wing of his party (led by Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens), as well as compromise with the conservatives (Led by Hal Holbrook as Preston Blair). We also see how he spent his last months in office, his tangled relationship with his wife (Sally Field) and his son (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), how the war affected him, and how he used his extreme wit and surprising political saavy to pull all of it off before his untimely death.

In every way possible, Lincoln is one of those films that simply fires on all cylinders. It is a technical achievement, with great pacing thanks to Michael Kahn's editing, beautifully shot by Janusz Kaminiski despite its mostly interior shots, and wonderfully scored by John Williams, who actually is sparingly used which not only makes his work more appreciated, but enhances the script and oratory of the actors. But what most people will remember is the incredible cast. Sally Field, David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones, and Hal Holbrook are the biggest supporting characters, and all handle their job with passion and careful study, which makes all of them Oscar contenders. But the character actors that fill the screen add so much depth, each one breathing life into every part no matter the size. John Hawkes, James Spader, Lee Pace, Tim Blake Nelson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jared Harris, S. Epatha Merkerson, Joseph Cross, Peter McRobbie, Gulliver McGrath, Gloria Reuben, Bruce McGill, and Jackie Earle Haley are just a smattering of the names of talented actors who lend their voices to this sprawling, yet controlled and wonderfully contributory cast. Then of course, there is Daniel Day-Lewis. There are no great words to describe just how incredible he is as Lincoln. I will say though that he is actually quite surprising. This is not some over-the-top performance where the actor tries to steal every scene. Day-Lewis is quiet, he is funny, he is unassuming, perfectly capturing what we know about Lincoln, and he still manages to steal every scene whether he tries to or not. If he doesn't win an Oscar for this, something is wrong with the world.

But in the end, I am still most surprised by Spielberg. He was given an incredible script by Tony Kushner, who brings a theatrical element that helps pull it off. But this is Spielberg's baby and you can tell. The careful attention to detail, the passion that exudes from every frame shows the audience just how much he cared about this project, why he took so long to get it to us, and I definitely think it was worth the wait. More importantly, Spielberg continues to show how masterful he is as a director, and how diverse and flexible he is as a director. I am entirely convinced that there is no type of movie that he can't pull off, and Lincoln is proof he continues to mature and diversify his resume.

Lincoln is a masterful, talky, funny, and brilliant look at the inside politics of the passage of the 13th Amendment. It is also going to be huge Oscar bait, most likely hitting across the board with a buttload of nominations, all of which are deserved. I do wonder whether it will play well enough to overcome the likes of Argo and Silver Linings Playbook and actually pull off a Best Picture win. The box office count at the of the weekend will indicate how the public received it, and in the coming weeks, the critics groups will sound off. I kind of get the feeling though that this will be bigger than people are assuming and could be the frontrunner come year's end. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Oscar Potential - Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor (x3), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Score, Costume Design, Production Design, Makeup, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing

Grade: A

1st Annual Awards Psychic Music Awards: Nominees

This year, I have decided that instead of just listing my top albums of the year, I would do my own version of awards for the best music of the year. In this case, I am going to stick with the Grammy's eligibility period, although I still think that by the time the Grammys actually roll around in February, are sadly behind the times. But anyway, I digress. Here are my nominees in various genres from October of 2011 through September of 2012:

Album of the Year
Black Keys “El Camino”
Florence + The Machine “Ceremonials”
Bonnie Raitt “Slipstream”
Killer Mike “R.A.P Music”
P!nk “The Truth About Love”

Best Rap Album
Nas “Life is Good”
The Roots “undun”
Killer Mike “R.A.P. Music”
Rick Ross “God Forgives…I Don’t”
Lupe Fiasco “Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1”

Best Pop Album
Kelly Clarkson “Stronger”
P!nk “The Truth About Love”
Bonnie Raitt “Slipstream”
Fiona Apple “The Idler Wheel…”
Santigold “Master of My Make-Believe”
Florence + The Machine “Ceremonials”

Best Rock/Alternative Album
Black Keys “El Camino”
Bruce Springsteen “Wrecking Ball”
Jack White “Blunderbuss”
Bob Dylan “Tempest”
Mumford & Sons “Babel

Best R&B Album
Mary J. Blige “My Life II…The Journey Continues (Act 1)”
Estelle “All of Me”
Monica “New Life”
R. Kelly “Write Me Back”
Frank Ocean “Channel Orange

Best Country Album
Carrie Underwood “Blown Away”
Zac Brown Band “Uncaged”
Willie Nelson “Heroes”
Lionel Richie “Tuskegee”
Ryan Bingham “Tomorrowland”

Single of the Year
Black Keys “Lonely Boy”
Jessie J “Domino”
Florence + The Machine “Shake It Out”
Ellie Golding “Lights”
P!nk “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”

Best New Artist
Frank Ocean
Ellie Golding
Jessie J
Elle Varner
Emeli Sande

Best Pop Performance
Florence + The Machine “Shake It Out”
Fiona Apple “Every Single Night”
Jessie J “Domino”
Ellie Golding “Lights”
P!nk “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)

Best R&B/Rap Performance
Frank Ocean “Thinkin Bout You”
Killer Mike feat. Bun B, T.I.,  and Trouble “Big Beast”
Rick Ross feat. Wale & Drake “Diced Pineapples”
Drake “Take Care”
Estelle feat. Rick Ross “Break My Heart”

Best Country Performance
Carrie Underwood “Good Girl”
Lionel Richie feat. Shania Twain “Endless Love”
Zac Brown Band “The Wind”
Ryan Bingham “Heart of Rhythm”
The Band Perry “All Your Life”

Best Rock Performance
Black Keys “Lonely Boy”
Mumford & Sons “I Will Wait”
Jack White “Freedom at 21”
Green Day “Oh Love”
Bruce Springsteen “We Take Care of Our Own”

Thursday, November 15, 2012

2013 People's Choice Award Nominees

So most of these races are intresting to say the least, but the people have spoken and we must live with it. The one I find the most interesting is the inclusion of Argo in Dramatic Movie, which helps its profile as not only a critical favorite, but a fan one as well.


The Amazing Spider-Man
The Avengers
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hunger Games
Snow White and the Huntsman

Channing Tatum
Johnny Depp
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Robert Downey, Jr.
Will Smith

Anne Hathaway
Emma Stone
Jennifer Lawrence
Mila Kunis
Scarlett Johansson

Emma Thompson
Maggie Smith
Meryl Streep
Michelle Pfeiffer
Susan Sarandon

The Amazing Spider-Man
The Avengers
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hunger Games
Men in Black 3

Chris Evans
Chris Hemsworth
Christian Bale
Robert Downey, Jr.
Will Smith

Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises
Emma Stone, The Amazing Spider-Man
Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games
Kristen Stewart, Snow White and the Huntsman
Scarlett Johansson, The Avengers

21 Jump Street
Dark Shadows
Pitch Perfect
What to Expect When You're Expecting

Adam Sandler
Ben Stiller
Channing Tatum
Will Ferrell
Zach Galifianakis

Cameron Diaz
Emily Blunt
Jennifer Aniston
Mila Kunis
Reese Witherspoon

The Lucky One
Magic Mike
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Vow

Bradley Cooper
Channing Tatum
Jake Gyllenhaal
Liam Neeson
Zac Efron

Charlize Theron
Emma Watson
Keira Knightley
Meryl Streep
Rachel McAdams

The Avengers
The Dark Knight
The Hunger Games

Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man
Chris Evans as Captain America
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Christian Bale as Batman
Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man

Emma Stone / Andrew Garfield, The Amazing Spider-Man
Jennifer Lawrence / Josh Hutcherson / Liam Hemsworth, The Hunger Games
Kristen Stewart / Chris Hemsworth, Snow White and the Huntsman
Rachel McAdams / Channing Tatum, The Vow
Scarlett Johansson / Jeremy Renner, The Avengers

Potterheads, Harry Potter
Ringers, The Lord of the Rings
Rum Runners, Pirates of the Caribbean
Tributes, The Hunger Games
Twihards, Twilight

The Big Bang Theory
How I Met Your Mother
Modern Family
New Girl

Gossip Girl
Grey's Anatomy
Once Upon a Time

Hot in Cleveland
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Melissa & Joey

Burn Notice
Pretty Little Liars
The Walking Dead
White Collar

Game of Thrones
True Blood

Criminal Minds

Doctor Who
Once Upon a Time
The Vampire Diaries
The Walking Dead

Chris Colfer
Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Jim Parsons
Neil Patrick Harris
Ty Burrell

Jane Lynch
Kaley Cuoco
Lea Michele
Sofia Vergara
Zooey Deschanel

Ian Somerhalder
Jared Padalecki
Jensen Ackles
Nathan Fillion
Paul Wesley

Ellen Pompeo
Emily Deschanel
Ginnifer Goodwin
Nina Dobrev
Stana Katic

The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ellen DeGeneres
Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos, Josh Elliott, Lara Spencer, Robin Roberts, Sa
Live with Kelly & Michael, Kelly Ripa & Michael Strahan
The Today Show, Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer, Natalie Morales,
The View, Barbara Walters, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd, Whoopi Goldberg

Chelsea Handler
Conan O'Brien
David Letterman
Jimmy Fallon
Jimmy Kimmel

Jeff Probst
Katie Couric
Michael Strahan
Ricki Lake
Steve Harvey

America's Got Talent
American Idol
Dancing with the Stars
The Voice
The X Factor

Adam Levine
Britney Spears
Christina Aguilera
Demi Lovato
Jennifer Lopez

Gleeks, Glee
Little Liars, Pretty Little Liars
Oncers, Once Upon A Time
SPNFamily, Supernatural
TVDFamily, The Vampire Diaries

Ben & Kate
Go On
Guys With Kids
The Mindy Project
The Neighbors
The New Normal

666 Park Avenue
Beauty & The Beast
Chicago Fire
Emily Owens, M.D.
Last Resort
The Mob Doctor

Blake Shelton
Chris Brown
Jason Mraz
Justin Bieber

Carrie Underwood
Katy Perry
Taylor Swift

Demi Lovato
Justin Bieber
Katy Perry

Flo Rida
Nicki Minaj

Alicia Keys
Bruno Mars

Green Day
Linkin Park
Maroon 5
No Doubt

Blake Shelton
Carrie Underwood
Jason Aldean
Taylor Swift
Tim McGraw

Carly Rae Jepsen
One Direction
The Wanted

"Call Me Maybe," Carly Rae Jepsen
"One More Night," Maroon 5
"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," Taylor Swift
"We Are Young," Fun. ft. Janelle Monáe
"What Makes You Beautiful," One Direction

Believe, Justin Bieber
Blown Away, Carrie Underwood
Overexposed, Maroon 5
Some Nights, Fun.
Up All Night, One Direction

Boyfriend, Justin Bieber
Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen
Gangnam Style, Psy
Part of Me, Katy Perry
Payphone, Maroon 5 ft. Wiz Khalifa

Beliebers, Justin Bieber
Directioners, One Direction
KatyCats, Katy Perry
Lovatics, Demi Lovato
Selenators, Selena Gomez

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

First Golden Globe TV Predictions

Best Drama Series
Downton Abbey
Breaking Bad
Mad Men
The Newsroom

Best Comedy Series
Modern Family
New Girl

Best Actor in a Drama Series
Bryan Cranston "Breaking Bad"
Jeff Daniels "The Newsroom"
Kelsey Grammer "Boss"
Jon Hamm "Mad Men"
Damian Lewis "Homeland"

Best Actress in a Drama Series
Connie Britton "Nashville"
Claire Danes "Homeland"
Michelle Dockery "Downton Abbey"
Julianna Margulies "The Good Wife"
Elisabeth Moss "Mad Men"

Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin "30 Rock"
Don Cheadle "House of Lies"
Matt LeBlanc "Episodes
Jim Parsons "The Big Bang Theory"
Matthew Perry "Go On"

Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Zooey Deschanel "New Girl"
Lena Dunham "Girls"
Tina Fey "30 Rock"
Julia Louis-Dreyfuss "Veep"
Amy Poehler "Parks & Recreation"

Best Miniseries or Television Movie
American Horror Story: Asylum
Game Change
Hatfields & McCoys
Political Animals

Best Actor in a Miniseries/Television Movie
Kevin Costner "Hatfields & McCoys"
Benedict Cumberbatch "Sherlock"
Woody Harrelson "Game Change"
Clive Owen "Hemingway & Gelhorn"
Bill Paxton "Hatfields & McCoys"

Best Actress in a Miniseries/Television Movie
Nicole Kidman "Hemingway and Gelhorn"
Queen Latifah "Steel Magnolias"
Jessica Lange "American Horror Story: Asylum"
Julianne Moore "Game Change"
Sigourney Weaver "Political Animals"

Best Television Supporting Actor
Peter Dinklage "Game of Thrones"
Ed Harris "Game Change"
Aaron Paul "Breaking Bad"
Eric Stonestreet "Modern Family"
Sam Waterston "The Newsroom"

Best Television Supporting Actress
Julie Bowen "Modern Family"
Ellen Burstyn "Political Animals"
Maggie Smith "Downton Abbey"
Sofia Vergara "Modern Family"
Alfre Woodard "Steel Magnolias"