Friday, August 31, 2012

2012 Telluride Film Festival: Argo Reviews

So Argo, Ben Affleck's latest film venture, which was hotly anticipated after his last two outings Gone Baby Gone and The Town, has surprisingly debuted at this year's Telluride Film Festival. I am happy to say, that according to early reviews, Argo lives up to the hype, and has put itself squarely in the Oscar race. It apparently is entertaining, and sells an importnat message with a great cast. Here is a look at some of the early reviews:

Gregory Ellwood at HitFix gave it an A- stating:

"With one of the better ensembles in recent memory, Affleck purposely gives his cast room to shine while not diminishing the risks Mendez took. Arkin plays the schmaltzy producer with enough heart to make him three-dimensional and Cranston finally gets a supporting role he can really sink his teeth into. McNairy is extremely believable as the stressed out Stafford and Tate Donovan, Chris Messina, Kyle Chandler, Richard Dillane and Goodman all deliver strong performances even if their screentime is brief."

Eric Kohn from Indiewire gave it a sold B+ saying it is both fun and historically serious:

"Equally a slick political thriller, intelligent period piece and sly Hollywood satire, Ben Affleck's "Argo" maintains a careful balance between commentary and entertainment value. Stepping beyond the raw thriller qualities that distinguished his first two directing efforts, "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town," the actor-director successfully broadens those skills with a historical scope. This tense and frequently amusing reenactment of a covert 1979 CIA operation to smuggle assailed American political operatives out of Iran amid revolutionary chaos by disguising them as a film crew takes the material seriously while still having fun with it."

Scott Feinberg basically spells it out (and he is good at it) that Argo is officially an Oscar contender:

"When the lights in the Chuck Jones Theatre went down for the annual patrons screening here, festival co-director Julie Huntsinger quickly introduced Oscar winner Ben Affleck, who in turn introduced his new dramatic thriller Argo, the third feature he has directed. Two hours later, the audience gave a rousing ovation to the movie, which appears to me to be a very solid contender to score a best picture Oscar nomination. ...The film manages to be an edge-of-your-seat thriller ("We did suicide missions in the Army that had better odds than this"), a laugh-out-loud comedy ("You're worried about the Ayatollah? Try the WGA!") and a genuine tearjerker. This is in large part because of the strong work of everyone in its large ensemble. The audience also separately applauded when Affleck's credit appeared -- he also stars in the film -- and when the names of Oscar winner Alan Arkin and John Goodman, who play key supporting characters, flashed on the screen"

2012 Emmy Predictions: Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Will Win/Should Win - Melissa McCarthy "Saturday Night Live"
Could Win - Maya Rudolph "Saturday Night Live"
Commentary - While many don't expect Melissa McCarthy to repeat in her Comedy Actress race, I think that she will win another Emmy this year, for her outstanding turn hosting Saturday Night Live. She was electrifying, laugh out loud funny, and proved that her sensibility for physical comedy is another attribute that makes her so talented. Her Bridesmaids co-star Maya Rudolph also had a great run as an SNL host, but I think that her episode wasn't quite as strong. Plus Melissa now has the Oscar nominee label attached to her, and with a new movie coming out this winter as well already being promoted, she is everywhere. I think she wins pretty handidly.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012 Emmy Predictions: Best Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win - Idris Elba "Luther"
Could Win - Woody Harrelson "Game Change", Clive Owen "Hemingway & Gelhorn", Benedict Cumberbatch "Sherlock", Kevin Coster "Hatfields & McCoys"
Should Win - Idris Elba or Woody Harrelson
Commentary - This has built itself to be a five way race with no clear frontrunner. Almost no one is making the same pick as me, but I think it is okay to take a race. Woody Harrelson was my first pick, but I think that while he was great in Game Change, that three acting wins is a little presumptious, and that he may be drowned out by his co-stars Ed Harris and Julianne Moore. Benedict Cumberbatch is a star in Sherlock, but he may not be recognizable to many of the voters, despite his rising stardom. Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton will probably cancel each other out, although that didn't stop Barry White last year, so maybe Costner (the stronger of the two) could easily win. Clive Owen was at one point my leading position, but Hemingway and Gelhorn, despite its huge nomination haul, was not very good, but he still is very much in contention. I think that instead, Luther's leading man, Idris Elba, who won the Golden Globe will surprise many viewers and take the award. Luther was a surprise nominee for the big prize, and I think his tape will be hard to ignore.

39th Annual Telluride Film Festival - Lineup

I am particularly excited about Hyde Park on the Hudson, because I can't wait to see how Murray, Williams, and Linney shake up the Oscar race, since I am currently predicting all three.

THE ACT OF KILLING (d. Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark, 2012)

AMOUR (d. Michael Haneke, Austria, 2012)

AT ANY PRICE (d. Ramin Bahrani, U.S., 2012)

THE ATTACK (d. Ziad Doueiri, Lebanon-France, 2012)

BARBARA (d. Christian Petzold, Germany, 2012)

THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE (d. Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon, U.S., 2012)

EVERYDAY (d. Michael Winterbottom, U.K., 2012)

FRANCES HA (d. Noah Baumbach, U.S., 2012)

THE GATEKEEPERS (d. Dror Moreh, Israel, 2012)

GINGER AND ROSA (d. Sally Potter, England, 2012)

THE HUNT (d. Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark, 2012)

HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (d. Roger Michell, U.S., 2012)

THE ICEMAN (d. Ariel Vromen, U.S., 2012)

LOVE, MARILYN (d. Liz Garbus, U.S., 2012)

MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN (d. Deepa Mehta, Canada-Sri Lanka, 2012)

NO(Pablo Larraín, Chile, 2012)

PARADISE: LOVE (d. Ulrich Seidl, Austria, 2012)

PIAZZA FONTANA (d. Marco Tullio Giordana, Italy, 2012)

A ROYAL AFFAIR (d. Nikolaj Arcel, Denmark, 2012)

RUST & BONE (d. Jacques Audiard, France, 2012)

THE SAPPHIRES (d. Wayne Blair, Australia, 2012)

STORIES WE TELL (d. Sarah Polley, Canada, 2012)

SUPERSTAR (d. Xavier Giannoli, France, 2012)

WADJDA (d. Haifaa Al-Mansour, Saudi Arabia, 2012)

WHAT IS THIS FILM CALLED LOVE? (d. Mark Cousins, Ireland-Mexico, 2012)

Best Original Song Fixed - For Now....

The Academy has announced new rules for the Best Original Song category which was shoved aside with only two nominees last year. It is a real travesty, and I am glad that the Academy has, at least for now, fixed part of the old system. Instead of the scoring system, members of the music branch will simply list their preferences, up to five, and the top five vote getters will be our nominees. It is so simple, yet hopefully will restore some sanity to the category, and put back into play more songs, such as those that play over end credits. Last year there were some great songs that were incredible snubbed. We'll have to wait and see how this effects the nominees, but I think it will be for the better.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2012 Emmy Contenders: Best Reality-Competition Series

Will Win - The Amazing Race
Could Win - The Voice or Top Chef
Should Win -  A few things that are not nominated
Commentary - Well, there was that one year where Top Chef was able to upset The Amazing Race, and this year, it, or the upstart The Voice, which is praised by critics and fans could, just maybe, upset the juggernaut. But just cause lightning struck once, doesn't mean that it will happen again, and in this race, it is not safe to bet against The Amazing Race. I do hope that the Emmy voters find some diversity in this category soon, or it needs to be retired, because it, like the Variety Series race, has become a huge bore, and a complete waste of time. But until then, The Amazing Race should win again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Top 100 Films of the 1990s: Part VII

40. Groundhog Day (1993) - This year, Bill Murray tries his lot with a dramatic turn, playing Franklin Roosevelt in Hyde Park on Hudson coming out this December. But I hope that people, particularly the younger generation take a chance to go back and reflect on Murray's entire career, and realize that while he can nail dramatic roles, his true genius comes in comedy. And he was never better than in 1993's comedy classic, Groundhog Day. The set up is one that has repeated itself many times. A supernatural event causes the main character, in this case, Murray's Phil, to live in some alternate world. In this case, he plays a weatherman who keeps living the same day over and over again. But Groundhog Day separates itself from the pack. It manages to keep being fresh, despite its repetition, and it also delves interestingly into its characters, instead of maintaining superficiality liek so many comedies. But what really makes it work is Murray. His ability to only perpetuate physical comedy, but also allow for some subtlety is a rare gift that is simply magical to watch.

39. Boogie Nights (1997) - Paul Thomas Anderson is tackling an interesting subject in The Master this fall. But if you want to get a feel for the kind of director he is, one should start with his intense and funny look at the 1970's porn industry, 1997's Boogie Nights. It is darkly funny, impeccably pulled together with a unique vision like only Anderson can forsee, and draws itself some of the most interesting characters with their own individual characteristics better than most films of the modern era. It also features great performances from Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Mark Wahlberg, John C. Reilly, Heather Graham, and many others, including his new leading man, Philip Seymour Hoffman. All of whom embrace the wonderful script and breathe life into these well-drawn characters. But what makes Boogie Nights one of the best cult classics of the 1990's is its direct filmmaking, tackling a controversial subject head on, and embracing the nostalgia, and spirit of the 1970's in a way that both celebrates and criticizes its subject. Now that is great filmmaking.

38. Reservoir Dogs (1992) - Quentin Tarantino is one of my favorite directors, in case you haven't figure that out by now, and while 1992's Reservoir Dogs wasn't his greatest film to date, it certaintly was still one of his best. It tackles the subject of a group of criminals who began to question one another's loyalty after a jewelry robbery goes wrong. This is not an unusual subject in film, as almost every crime or gangster movie has a mole and a rat, or a snitch (some have all of them like The Departed). But Tarantino, as usual, dares to go where few directors are willing to. The action is brutually violent, and at times unexpected, basically Tarantino found his inner Scorsese when filming this movie. But beyond the in-your-face violence, Tarantino actually shows some restraint, by sticking with character actors, and not trying to commercialize the film which could have ruined its purity and integrity. Instead, Tarantino dives into a deep psychological character study about group dynamics, and brilliantly protrays the complexity, violence, and hard realities of a life of crime, making Reservoir Dogs one of the hardest and most fascinating to watch films of the 1990's.

37. The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) - I started my journey into Abbas Kiarostami's film repertouire with last year's Certified Copy, which if you recall, I initially thought was more of a film exericise, than an actual film experience. Upon a second viewing I still think it is not as good as his previous efforts, but after I had seen some of his other films, I began to embrace his style a lot more, and also began to recognize his utter brilliance. The film that really did it fro me was 1999's The Wind Will Carry Us. It tells the story of a rude man who moves to an Iranian village to take care of a dying relative. After this initial setup however, Kiarostami doesn't plan huge plot twists or grand revelations. Instead, he shows us the quiet change of a man as he feels out his new surroundings and faces his own issues. It is a quiet character study that tackles huge metaphysical subjects such as the meaning of life, and the changes we face. It is done so delicately, and so masterfully, full of style and quiet moments that while some may get hazy and bored, those that open their mind to it, are bound to get wrapped up in its subtle beauty.

36. JFK (1991) - Oliver Stone's revision of the Kennedy assassination has been labelled everything from a liberal nutbag conspiracy, to a brilliant look at what could have possibly happened. While I openly admit that most of what Stone presents about the event is crap, I do agree that it is brilliantly constructed, incredibly entertaining, and at moments even incredibly believeable story. That is thanks to the stunning performances, particularly Kevin Costner, whose paranoia is at times shockingly frightening, and even more scary, sometimes utterly convincing. Sissy Spacek plays his wife with a sadness and love that is passionate and brilliant. Add in names like Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon, Donald Sutherland, Tommy Lee Jones, and a whole host of others, and JFK is one of the best acted films of the 1990's. But what has made JFK such a pop culture icon is Stone's vision. We see all the conspiracies, we see the psychological damage of paranoia, and more importantly, whether you are a right wing conservative or a left wing liberal, all of us who appreciate Stone's brilliant portrayal of one of the most important events of the 20th Century, increasing its legendary status, and giving us history lovers one more weapon in our film arsenal.

35. Princess Mononoke (1997) - Hayao Miyazaki is probably the best animinator in the world that is not working for Pixar. And throughout his career he has delivered brilliant effort after brilliant effort, and has even been awarded an Academy Award for his efforts in 2001. If there had been a Best Animated Feature Oscar in 1997, my guess is that he would have won one a lot earlier, with his effort Princess Mononoke. The film features a wonderful combination of Japanese animation, war, romance, and fantasy, and has even been called the "Star Wars of animated features" by the New York Post, and its not hard to see why. It goes so far beyond most live action films by finding great actors for its voices, beautifully translating it into English while maintaining the dignity and culture of the original version, and featuring a wonderful script and visionary direction that is the combination of all great films, whether they are live action or not. It is also thoroughly entertaining and engaging, never have a dull moment, while also tackling the issues of our human interactions with Mother Nature. It is one of those films that most people don't know, but they definitely should.

34. Unforgiven (1992) - Throughout most of American film history, the western was one of the most popular genres, with names like John Wayne forever engrained in the American conscience. But in the 1970's and 1980's the western took a back seat to historical epics, science fiction and action blockbusters, and teenager movies. But in 1992, one of the classic Western stars, the undeniable Clint Eastwood, brought back his once passionate genre with his Best Picture winning Unforgiven. The stoyr is like one we have seen times before, an old gunslinger goes on one last job, with the help of some of his cowboy friends. But Eastwood managed to elevate it beyond the formula, but digging deep into the brutality of the American west, as well as diving into the psyche of these cowboys. His throughtful character study is brilliant acted by himself, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, and others, and perfectly layered with good ole-fashioned western violence. Unforgiven may not have completely revived the Western genre, although we have seen more since its success, but it go a long way to adding to its greatness, by showing us the complexity of supposedly bad man, and maintaining a realistic and honest portrayal.

33. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - Frank Darabont's 1994 classic The Shawshank Redemption remains IMDB's number one film among its users, and to this day remains one of this passionate films that is beloved by its supporters, and one that people can't seem to forget. Shawshank Redemption is one of those emotionally charged films that is thoroughly entertaining, a great lesson on life and friendships, and buoyed by its stunning lead performances. The chemistry between Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman is stunning, creating one of the great onscreen relationships in American film history. More importanttly, The Shawshank Redemption is a soul-stirring film that is at times funning, dramatic, emotional, and incredibly moving. It is about the American hopes and dreams, and it also is incredibly simplistic, it required no special effects, no gimicks, and no fancy movie tricks to be great. It is a straightforward narrative about human relationships that is quite simply, one of the best movies made in the 1990's.

32. Toy Story 2 (1999) - So many times, sequels are poured out by studios without thought, without care. by Pixar is not one of those studios (excluding Cars 2), as its first attempt at a sequel to one of its classics was a slam dunk. Toy Story 2 is a sweet, funny, and well-made action adventure, that really is something that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It doesn't just rehash the same old story, but continues it with ease, adding depth, darkness, and humor all at the same time. The details on both the animation and the story are take with such care, a rare sight in modern cinema. More importantly, it is one of those films that lingers with you, a film that hits you directly in the heart. So many of the films that are considered great, are also those that have lost their humanity. It is so nice to see a film that has a lot of heart, a film that teaches people about loyalty, family and love, and does so in a fun way. Toy Story 2 isn't just one of the best, if not the best sequel of the 1990's, it also happens to be one of the best films period.

31. American History X (1998) - American History X has to be one of the most disturbing movies ever made. The story of the innerworkings of the white supremacist movement, and the struggle of an older brother trying to prevent the spiral of his younger one, is full of emtion, grit, and images that are simply haunting and frightening. It is even more frightening, because of its deep psychological look at the mind of individuals who spend their lives hating someone because of the color of their skin. Not only is the script and direction taut and gritty, but the stunning, snubbed of an Oscar performace by Edward Norton is one of the most jaw-dropping, electrifying acting performances in the history of American film. He delves so deep into his character Derek Vinyard, that you sometimes forget that underneath all of that, there is the quiet Edward Norton. If actors in school are looking for the perfect performance to model, look no further than Edward Nortion in American History X. All of these elements combine for one of the most terrifying, brilliant films of the whole decade.

2012 Emmy Predictions: Best Reality Host

Will Win/Should Win - Cat Deeley "So You Think You Can Dance?"
Could Win - Betty White "Off Their Rockers", Ryan Seacrest "American Idol", Phil Keoghan "The Amazing Race", Tom Bergeron "Dancing With the Stars"
Commentary - This is one of those categories that was thrown into a tailspin in the aftermath of the nomination annoucement. No one had won this category except Jeff Probst. But shockingly, he was left off the list, turning the category into a dog fight. Ryan Seacrest has been helming AI for years, and it still, despite its ratings drop this year, remains a television and ratings juggernaut that has never won either top award at the Emmys. Tom Bergeron is charming, and Phil Keoghan helms the perennial winner of the Compeititon category, The Amazing Race. But I think it comes down to the women. Betty White is an easy choice because of her popularity. But she was left off the list for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Hot in Cleveland, and I get the feeling this was a consolation nomination. So while she could hear her name called again. I am going out on a limb for Cat Deeley, who is really a star on So You Think You Can Dance, and will have a good episode to look at for voters.

Monday, August 27, 2012

2012 Emmy Predictions: Best Variety Series

Will Win - The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Could Win/Should Win - The Colbert Report or Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Commentary - I love Jon Stewart, seriously. He is one of the funniest guys out there and the Daily Show is consistently fresh and relevant. That being said, it is time for Emmy voters to move on. I look at shows like Jimmy Fallon, The Colbert Report, and even Real Time, and think how wonderful it would be if the Variety category love could be spread around a little bit. But alas, until Emmy voters prove me wrong, I will continue to predict The Daily Show, because I know if I tried, it would be futile.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

2012 Emmy Predictions: Best Reality Program

Will Win - Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution
Could Win - Who Do You Think You Are?
Should Win - MythBusters
Commentary - I personally think that Mythbusters is one of the most clever shows on TV, but alas, it looks like it will once again miss the boat. This battle for Reality Series, which has sadly taken a backseat to its Competition counterpart, is a two-horse race. Who Do You Think You Are? is the newcomer to the race, and features celebrities, which could boost its status. However, I think that Jamie Oliver's show Food Revolution, which features a big social issue, and is uplifting and informational, will win again.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

2012 Emmy Predictions: Best Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win/Should Win - Julianne Moore "Game Change"
Could Win - Nicole Kidman "Hemingway and Gelhorn"
Commentary - Nicole Kidman could get an Emmy for her role in Hemingway and Gelhorn, but my guess is that her former Hours co-star Julianne Moore is going to sail to Emmy gold. She is playing a controversial public figure, Sarah Palin (which won Tina Fey an Emmy as well), and even those that didn't like Game Change were complimentary of her electrifying performance. Plus she is a genuine movie star, and well-liked within the industry. I think she takes the prize easily.

Friday, August 24, 2012

New Emmy Poll in Sidebar

Check out and vote in the new Emmy polls in the sidebar for Best Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series!!!

TV Review: Bunheads

Let me put out a disclaimer: I don't give a crap about ballet. It is not a subject that makes me giddy, and it is not something I personally seek out as entertainment. Despite that fact, I have become wrapped up in Amy Sherman-Palladino's, the creator of one of the most under-awarded shows of the last decade Gilmore Girls, newest series Bunheads. The initial setup is a little kooky, a Las Vegas showgirl drunkenly marries a big fan of hers, and ends up in Paradise, CA, a sleepy little town where Hubbell's mother Fanny (Kelly Bishop) runs a dance studio. When Hubbell is unexpectedly killed in a car accident, Michelle (Sutton Foster) and Fanny are left to pick up the pieces, and more importantly, Michelle must find a purpose for the rest of her life. Along the way we learn the lives of four of Fanny's best students as they grow up, and face the changes of a teenage life.

Bunheads is a sharp, funny, and original series that has been a perfect delight for summer television. And luckily, for those of us who don't get ballet, there is not so much of it that I ever get bored or annoyed. Even more lucky is that this wonderful set of wacky charaters, not unlike those we saw in Gilmore Girls (heck some are even the same actors, ps - I missed Kirk!), are beautifully portrayed by some great actors, young and old. At the top of the pack are Kelly Bishop and Sutton Foster. Kelly plays a hippie version of Emily Gilmore, and is still a scene-stealer, a constant reminder that she was robbed for seven straight years of a well-deserved Emmy nomination. But the real revelation is Sutton Foster. Like Lorelei Gilmore before her, Michelle Simms is witty, all-knowning, strong, and at times vulernable, and she whizzes through the pop-culture references, and sarcastic comments with ease. But make no mistake, Sutton Foster is not trying to be Lauren Graham. She has created her own unique character that proves that Foster can make the move from Broadway star to television star.

Despite my praise, I hope that as Bunheads takes a break before its winter return, that Sherman-Palladino and her team make a few changes. First, Foster is an incredible singer and dancer, and we never get enough of it. Second, and probably the most glaring problem the series has faced so far, is what to do with Hubbell. After his death they sort of ignored him for about a month. And as the big break was coming up, they decided to bring him back, but the move felt awkward. I want to see them use Hubbell's death more efficiently, and tie up Michelle's two possible romances, or at least continue them so as they make sense for the continuing storyline.

Beyond those few points, Bunheads has been a refreshing site on summer cable TV. It is not a show based on action, but on characters, and their relationships with one another. While its ratings may not guarantee another renewal, which is a huge shame, its team should be proud of the work they have done. And I do hope that ABC gives it another chance, because it is not often that a TV show takes such care of its characters, without sacrificing its integrity or its entertainment value. Its season finale was a nice Dead Poets Society cliffhanger, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Grade - B+

2012 Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win/Should Win - Ed Harris "Game Change"
Could Win - David Strathairn "Hemingway and Gelhorn", Tom Berenger "Hatfields & McCoys", Martin Freeman "Sherlock"
Commentary - This race is not as air tight as its female counterpart, but I still think there is a clear frontrunner. David Strathairn has recently won this category, is a previous Oscar nominee, and has a big role coming up in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. But despite its haul, I don't think Hemingway and Gelhorn will rack up on the winning front due to its mixed reaction. Martin Freeman is also a possibility, and since I doubted Sherlock in terms of nominations, I am not going to forget him come September 23rd. Plus he is the star of The Hobbit coming this winter. But I think that there are bigger names ahead of him that will just be too much to overcome. If Hatfields and McCoys is as  popular with Emmy voters as it was with viewers, then all of its nominated cast members are possibilites, including Tom Berenger. But I think that Ed Harris, a well-respected veteran actor, a previous nominee, and is playing a very popular political figure. With the election heat currently going on, and the political vibe and popularity of the film, I think that it is a perfect combination for Harris to win his first Emmy award.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

2012 Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win/Should Win - Jessica Lange "American Horror Story"
Could Win - Judy Davis "Page Eight", Sarah Paulson "Game Change", Mare Winningham "Hatfields & McCoys", Frances Conroy "American Horror Story"
Commentary - Well I decided to start a day early!! This really is a great lineup of actress, and if one particular actress were left out of the mix, then this would be a huge toss-up with lots of potential surprises. But when American Horror Story annoucned that its second season would be a completely new story, therefore moving to the Miniseries categories, the once exciting race became a rather dull one, although I'm not mad about it. Jessica Lange was American Horror Story, she was deliciously evil and simply incredible, and definitely stole the show. While the other four ladies are all worthy, I don't think Lange is going to have a hard time winning. She is a previous Emmy winner, an Oscar winner, and a living acting legend at this point. She most likely wins in a landslide.

Lincoln Poster

Classy, old-school, and stoic, this poster may not be incredibly exciting for most people, but I think it looks great and I cannot wait till Nov. 9th.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2011-2012 Casting Society of America Award Nominees

With the big exception of The Hunger Games, most of these are just hangovers from last year, so aren't that exciting, and at this point seem redundant. Nonetheless, here are the nominees:

Big Budget Feature: ­Drama
"The Descendants," John Jackson, John McAlary (Associate), Andy Henry (Associate), Yesi Ramirez (Associate)
"The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," Laray Mayfield
"The Help," Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee
"The Hunger Games," Debra Zane, Jackie Burch (Location Casting)
"Moneyball," Francine Maisler, Lauren Grey (Associate)

Big Budget Feature:­ Comedy
"21 Jump Street," Jeanne McCarthy, Nicole Abellera, Elizabeth Coulon, (Location Casting), Yesi Ramirez(Associate)
"Crazy, Stupid, Love," Mindy Marin, Kara Lipson (Associate)
"Horrible Bosses," Lisa Beach, Sarah Katzman
"The Muppets," Marcia Ross, Gail Goldberg, Brittainy Roberts (Associate)
"The Rum Diary," Denise Chamian, Angela Demo (Associate)

Studio or Independent Feature: Drama
"Drive," Mindy Marin, Kara Lipson (Associate)
"The Ides of March," Ellen Chenoweth, Amelia McCarthy (Associate),
"Margin Call," Bernard Telsey, Tiffany Little Canfield
"My Week With Marilyn," Deborah Aquila, Tricia Wood, Nina Gold (Location Casting)
"Shame," Avy Kaufman

­Studio or Independent Feature: Comedy
"50/50," Francine Maisler,
"The Artist," Heidi Levitt, Michael Sanford (Associate)
"Friends With Kids," Bernard Telsey, Tiffany Little Canfield, David Vaccari
"The Guard," Jina Jay
"Hysteria," Gaby Kester

Low Budget Feature:­ Comedy or Drama
"A Bag of Hammers," Brad Gilmore
"Higher Ground," Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee
"Like Crazy," Eyde Belasco
"Martha Marcy May Marlene," Susan Shopmaker
"Pariah," Eyde Belasco

Animated Feature
"The Adventures of Tintin," Jina Jay
"Cars 2," Kevin Reher, Natalie Lyon
"Happy Feet Two," Kristy Carlson

Dick Van Dyke to Receive SAG Lifetime Achievement Award

Last year, the Screen Actor's Guild honored television legend Mary Tyler Moore. This year, in a bit of nepotism, will be honoring her husband, another TV legend, Dick Van Dyke. He is definitely worthy of this honor with five Emmys, a Tony and a Grammy under his belt, and decades of roles across various mediums. This year's SAG Awards will be presented on Jan. 20, 2013.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 24th - Emmy Countdown Begins

As of August 24th, this coming Friday, The Awards Psychic will begin posting its Emmy winner predictions category by category, leading up to the big night, September 23rd at 7 pm Eastern time. I am thoroughly excited about this year's nominees, and I think that there are going to be some interesting surprises and upsets come the 23rd. Be sure to tune in throughout the next couple of weeks for not only in-depth Emmy coverage, but for continued updates on the upcoming film festival and Oscar season, and Part VII of the Top 100 Films of the 1990s!

Top 100 Films of the 1990's: Part VI

50. Edward Scissorhands (1990) - Tim Burton may have had a few duds in a row, I mean seriously, Dark Shadows was just awful. But in the 1990's, and through most of the last decade, Tim Burton remianed one of the most inventive and fun directors working in Hollywood. And he was never better than in 1990's Edward Scissorhands. Making a film, whose main character has scissors for hands is a risky choice indeed, and only certain directors could pull it off and make the love story believable. Luckily Burton happens to be one of those directors. His unique vision, combined with his surprising sentimentality make Edward Scissorhands not only an engaging film, but a compassionate one as well. Combined with a stunning performance from a young Johnny Depp, and Edward Scissorhands is a wonderful endeavor. It also brings an important message about being true to yourself, a message, that like this film, will always stand the test of time.

49. The Iron Giant (1999) - Before Brad Bird was an Oscar-winning animator, one of the brilliant members of the incredible Pixar team, he created one of the most endearing and underrated animated films of all time, 1999's The Iron Giant. The story of a young boy who befriends an alien giant who is being hunted by the government, is definitely not just kids stuff despite being fun for the whole family (sorry for the really bad cliche). It is a beautifully written by Bird and his team, which makes it enjoyable for adults, and helps it rise above a lot of the standard animated fare. It is a perfect combination of science fiction, comedy, action, and most importantly, nostalgia, which teaches kids great lessons about life and about being themselves, and also proves to be an incredibly entertaining, engaging, timeless film that should make its way into everyone's DVD player.

48. The Truman Show (1998) - Peter Weir has directed all kinds of films from daring epics, to inspirational dramas. But being the chameleon that he is, Weir also tackled an intricate character study about a guy who doesn't realize his life is a fictious television show, in 1998's The Truman Show. While most people in the world would categorize this film as a comedy, and in part they are right, this is not just a straightforward comedy. It is filled, not only with great performances, particularly the shining Jim Carrey and Ed Harris , but also with layers of character and moral depth. It parodies the sometimes destructive power of the modern media, and does so with an intense sense of humor that is slightly dark, and incredibly powerful. This is not a movie for those who want mindless entertainment. This film is for moviegoers who want to reflect on our current society, and like to think when they watch movies.

47. American Beauty (1999) - After uears of rewarding period pieces and movie epics like Braveheart, The English Patient, Titanic, and Shakespeare in Love, the Academy diverged when they awarded Sam Mende's hautingly beautiful study of a crumbling American family, 1999's American Beauty. It is stylistically beautiful, creatively weird, and incredibly frightening in so many ways. Mendes carefully crafts a web of screwed-up characters all desperately trying to live the American Dream, despite their inability to do so. While some have recently scoffed at the Academy's choice, I personally think it is one of their boldest in recent memory. American Beauty is one of those films that lingers with you, that really makes you think about the futility of life, and about the seemingly perfect suburban world so many of us claim to live in. It doesn't hurt that Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening give some of the best performances of their careers, which considering their bodies of work is quite impressive. Furthermore, in the year of movies that was 1999, it is saying something that this is a standout.

46. Dazed and Confused (1993) - 1976 was an important year in American history (and in my personal life, that was the year my parents graduated from high school). It was the bicentinnal, Rocky, Network, Taxi Driver, and All the President's Men were all released, and a new president was elected. It also was the setting for one of the 1990's most laid back, nostalgic, and surprisingly wonderful films of the 1990's. Richard Linklater is one of those few directors who really captures American humanism (Thomas McCarthy really is the new Richard Linklater). And furthermore, he has the ability to reach surprisingly dramatic depths. On the surface, Dazed and Confused is a stoner comedy. And in many ways it would appeal to those who seek out those type of movies. But it is also a perfect picture of high school life in the late 1970's. The combination of promiscuity, the incredible music, and the times of celebration as America turned 200 were all perfectly combined into a nostalgic masterpiece that never gets old, and reminds us of a simpler time.

45. Titanic (1997) - Ill have to admit, after being forced to see Titanic like 10 times in theaters, I was not a huge fan of this film. But a recent viewing helped me realize something very important. While it is still not my personal favorite film, it is a bold and stunning piece of cinema that despite my personal misgivings, deserves a spot on this list. I don't really need to spend a lot of time explaining why people loved Titanic so much, considering every human being on the planet has seen this movie multiple times. It was a visual feat, and winning love story, and really paid tribute to one of the most horrific and infamous events of the Twentieth Century. It also had some knockout performances, especially Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart, and Kathy Bates. It is one of those films that was critically acclaimed, while managing to be a successfully blockbuster, the most successful of all time. Futhermore, it cemented the power if James Cameron directing abilities. No working director has been able to accomplish what Cameron has, and he has done so in so few films. A feat indeed.

44. Pleasantville (1998) - This one is definitely a personal favorite of mine, and remains one of those films that always gets watched all the way through any time I stumble across in on TV. It is the of a young boy and his snobby, preppy sister who get sucked into the fictional world of a perfect 1950's small-town, similar to Leave it to Beaver. The set up makes you think of a lesser-known Disney flop, but as they enter this seemingly perfect world, they began to have an amazing impact on it, throwing the place into a tailspin, and bringing in sexual and social change to a quiet world. Pleasantville is one of those pitch-perfect satirical films that brilliantly comments on our changing world, and on the upheavel of the social revolutions that changed American society in the latter half of the Twentieth Century. Its performances, perky and bitchy Witherspoon, wide-eyed Maguire, stubborn Macy, sad and tortured Daniels, and confused Allen, all fit into the American story, of those that faced these changes in different ways. It is also incredibly funny, and sweet, and leaves you pondering the changes in your own life. An surprisingly deep concept and execution, of an otherwise surface-level 90's comedy.

43. Malcolm X (1992) - Spike Lee is one of the most prolific and interesting filmmakers working today. And apparently, after some editing changes, his latest Red Hook Summer will make up for some of his more recent flops. And in the aftermath of its almost prequel Do the Right Thing, many were wondering what controversial and brilliant move Lee was going to make next. 1991's Jungle Fever was an interesting film to say the least, but it was 1992's Malcolm X that proved that Lee was the real deal. The biopic of one of the most controversial and boldest figures of the Civil Rights Movement, was incredibly authentic, impeccably shot, and wonderfully acted, particularly by Denzel Washington and Angela Bassett. More importantly, it was a film that needed to be made, and important entry into the American film canon that gives us a look at one of the most tumultous decades in American history. Lee also proved that sometimes being uncompromising and honest is so much better than sugar coating, because instead of mediocre, the film resulted in unflinching brilliance, and made an incredible impression on American film.

42. The Big Lebowski (1998) - The more you dive into the Coen Bro's film collection, the more you realize that it is their comedies that tend to be the standouts. And 1998's The Big Lebowski is probably the most prolifically funny, and legendary of their repertoire. Like most of their comedies, it features strange characters put into odd situations, that can't help but be funny. But what make The Big Lebowski become such a cult-classic were the stunning performances of its three leads, Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, and Steve Buscemi. They were perfectly cast in their odd-ball roles, and added so much depth and chemistry to the film that you can't help but keep watching just to see what kind of mess they are going to get into. Of course at the center is Jeff Bridge's infamous dude (which was lovingly referenced by Sandra Bullock when Jeff was nominated for True Grit). His ridiculousness is layered with humanity, as are all the characters in a wonderfully written and acted 90's classic.

41. When We Were Kings (1996) - Most documentaries are not given a second thought by the general American population. But every once in a while, one of these nonfiction spectacles becomes so popular and is so well-made that people really remember it, and it becomes a classic in its own right. Two such documentaries in the 1990's really made an impact on me. One will be mentioned much later, but the first one was 1996's boxing classic about the 1974 match between George Foreman and his challenger Muhammad Ali. It is documentary film making at its finest. It is incredibly insightful, impeccably edited to really showcase the fight and the fighters, and also does what so many documentaries forget to do: it entertains. It is a wonderful movie-going experience that is as rousing and engaging as any fictional sports drama out there. It also brings character and humanity to two of sports' most endearing legends. It helps us remember that they are also humans, and that their struggles and triumphs in the ring, were only half the story. A winning film indeed.

Friday, August 17, 2012

New Emmy Polls in Sidebar

So, another week, another poll! Check out the new polls for Best Supporting Actor and Actress in a Drama Series, and make your picks!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

2012 New York Film Festival (NYFF) Lineup

We already know the opening and closing acts, and there are some lingering films from other fests, but some fresh faces. Check out the full list below:

Opening Night Gala Selection
LIFE OF PI
Director: Ang Lee

Centerpiece Gala Selection
NOT FADE AWAY
Director: David Chase

Closing Night Gala Selection
FLIGHT
Director: Robert Zemeckis

AMOUR
Director: Michael Haneke

ARAF – SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN
Director: Ye?im Ustao?lu

BARBARA
Director: Christian Petzold

BEYOND THE HILLS (Dup? dealuri)
Director: Cristian Mungiu

BWAKAW
Director: Jun Robles Lana

CAESAR MUST DIE (Cesare deve morire)
Directors: Paolo and Vittorio Taviani

CAMILLE REWINDS (Camille redouble)
Director: Noémie Lvovsky

THE DEAD MAN AND BEING HAPPY (El muerto y ser feliz)
Director: Javier Rebello

FILL THE VOID (Lemale et ha'halal)
Director: Rama Burshtein

FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED
Director: Alan Berliner

FRANCES HA
Director: Noah Baumbach

THE GATEKEEPERS (Shomerei Ha’saf)
Director: Dror Moreh

GINGER AND ROSA
Director: Sally Potter

HERE AND THERE (Aquí y Allá)
Director: Antonio Mendez Esparza

HOLY MOTORS
Director: Leos Carax

HYDE PARK ON HUDSON
Director: Roger Michell

KINSHASA KIDS
Director: Marc-Henri Wajnberg

THE LAST TIME I SAW MACAO (A Última Vez Que Vi Macau)
Director: João Pedro Rodrigues

LEVIATHAN
Directors: Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel

LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE
Director: Abbas Kiarostami

LINES OF WELLINGTON (Linhas de Wellington)
Director: Valeria Sarmiento

MEMORIES LOOK AT ME (Ji Yi Wang Zhe Wo)
Director: Song Fang

NIGHT ACROSS THE STREET (La Noche de enfrente)
Director: Raul Ruiz

NO
Director: Pablo Larrain

OUR CHILDREN (À perdre la raison)
Director: Joachim Lafosse

PASSION
Director: Brian De Palma

SOMETHING IN THE AIR (Après Mai)
Director: Olivier Assayas

TABU
Director: Miguel Gomes

YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET (Vous n'avez encore rien vu)
Director: Alain Resnais

Sight & Sounds Top 250 Films of All Time: Full List

So we've posted the top ten, but here are the top 250, aka the full list. I will go back and look at these later and hopefully post my reactions to it. But for now, scan through the list and see whether your favorites were included! For the record, the top 100, thanks to The Playlist, are listed below, and this link, will take you through the whole list: http://explore.bfi.org.uk/sightandsoundpolls/2012

1. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
2. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
3. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)
4. La Règle du jeu (Renoir, 1939)
5. Sunrise: a Song for Two Humans (Murnau, 1927)
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
7. The Searchers (Ford, 1956)
8. Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1927)
10. 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)
11. Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)
12. L’Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934)
13. Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)
14. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
15. Late Spring (Ozu Yasujiro, 1949)
16. Au hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966)
17. Seven Samurai (Kurosawa Akira, 1954)
17. Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
19. Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1974)
19. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, 1951)
21. L’avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960)
21. Le Mépris (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963)
21. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
24. Ordet (Carl Dreyer, 1955)
24. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai, 2000)
26. Rashomon (Kurosawa Akira, 1950)
26. Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966)
28. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)
29. Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
29. Shoah (Claude Lanzmann, 1985)
31. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
31. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
33. Bicycle Thieves (Vittoria De Sica, 1948)
34. The General (Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman, 1926)
35. Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)
35. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
35. Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975)
35. Sátántangó (Béla Tarr, 1994)
39. The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959)
39. La dolce vita (Federico Fellini, 1960)
41. Journey to Italy (Roberto Rossellini, 1954)
42. Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955)
42. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
42. Gertrud (Carl Dreyer, 1964)
42. Pierrot le fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965)
42. Play Time (Jacques Tati, 1967)
42. Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)
48. The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966)
48. Histoire(s) du cinéma (Jean-Luc Godard, 1998)
50. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
50. Ugetsu monogatari (Mizoguchi Kenji, 1953)
50. La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962)
53=
“Rear Window” (1954)
“North By Northwest” (1959)
“Raging Bull” (1980)
56=
“M” (1931)
“Touch Of Evil” (1958)
“The Leopard” (1963)
59=
“Sherlock Jr” (1924)
“Sansho dayu” (1954)
“La Maman et la Putain” (1973)
“Barry Lyndon” (1975)
63 =
“Modern Times” (1936)
“Sunset Blvd.” (1950)
“The Night Of The Hunter” (1955)
“Wild Strawberries” (1957)
“Rio Bravo” (1958)
“Pickpocket” (1959)
69=
“A Man Escaped” (1956)
“Blade Runner” (1982)
“Sans soleil” (1982)
“Blue Velvet” (1986)
73=
“La Grande Illusion” (1937)
“Les Enfants du Paradis” (1945)
“The Third Man” (1949)
“L’eclisse” (1962)
“Nashville” (1975)
78=
“Once Upon A Time In The West” (1968)
“Chinatown” (1974)
“Beau Travail” (1998)
81=
“The Magnificent Ambersons” (1942)
“Lawrence Of Arabia” (1962)
“The Spirit Of The Beehive” (1973)
84=
“Greed” (1925)
“Casablanca” (1942)
“The Colour Of Pomegranates” (1968)
“The Wild Bunch” (1969)
“Fanny And Alexander” (1984)
“A Brighter Summer Day” (1991)
90=
“Partie De Campagne” (1936)
“A Matter Of Life And Death” (1946)
“Aguirre, Wrath Of God” (1972)
93=
“Intolerance” (1916)
“Un chien andalou” (1928)
“The Life & Death Of Colonel Blimp” (1943)
“Madame de…” (1953)
“The Seventh Seal” (1957)
“Imitation Of Life” (1959)
“Touki-Bouki” (1973)
“A One And A Two” (2000)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Great Expectations International Trailer

Coming to Toronto next month, Mike Newell tackles this Dicken's classic with some huge star power on screen including Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter. It looks dark, and seems like a great period piece with great performances, but these types of adaptations routinely come out every couple of years. Sometimes they are great, sometimes they have a been-there, done-that quality. I will say that Helena Bonham Carter is definitely going to be in the conversation for Best Supporting Actress unless the film is a huge bomb.

Monday, August 13, 2012

NYFF: Life of Pi to Open, Flight to Close

The New York Film Festival, which is from September 28 to October 14, will feature at least two major Oscar contenders, and probably many more. What we do know is that Ang Lee will make his third appearence at NYFF after The Ice Storm and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, with his latest Life of Pi. Some scenes of the film have already been screened, and word is that it is a beautiful film.
Already announced, but not on this site, is that on the tailend of the festival, Robert Zemeckis' latest Flight will be closing the fest. I am pretty excited about this one. The trailer look incredibly entertaining, and when Denzel is on, he is one of the best, hell so is Zemeckis when he is on. This could be a surprise Oscar contender, and the fact that it is closing such a big fest means that others agree with me. Can't wait till September!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Review: Hope Springs

Before seeing the film Hope Springs, I had ready two very different reviews regarding its quality. One set of reviews said that it was another schmaltzy romantic comedy heaped with so much sugar that it would make your teeth fall out. The other set of reviews said that it was in fact a surprisingly dramatic affair, sprinkled with comedy, and incredibly honest. After seeing it yesterday, I man happy to say that it is definitely more of the latter, despite a few moments of schmaltzy.

The story revolves around Kay and Arnold, who after 31 years of marriage, have gotten stuck in a deep rut, and have stopped having sex as well as sleeping in the same room. Their gifts have been reduced to household upgrades, and Kay, fed up and depressed with her existence decides to risk everything and save her marriage before its too late. So she pleads with Arnold to follow her to Maine where Dr. Bernie Feld has made a reputation as a successful psychiatrist who specializes in intensive couple's counseling. And this is where most of the film takes place, as Kay and Arnold deal with incredibly tough and awkward counseling session, as well as tough exercises which attempt to break the barriers that have been put up in their marriage. As hurtful truths and important realizations come to the fold, Kay and Arnold must overcome the biggest hurdle in their marriage to find the love and passion they once had, or kindle in themselves that which they never did.

If you were to only go by its trailer, Hope Springs looks like a light romantic comedy, as some reviewers still think it is. But make no mistake, this is not a feel-good comedy. It is an intense and sometimes hard-to-watch drama about the rebuilding of a marriage that is impeccably real, brutally honest, and one of the most refreshing adult dramas to come out in years. That is not to say that there aren't laughs, but they serve more as accents and breaks in the painful sessions, than as huge plot points. But while some people may feel misled or disappointed, I personally found it a refreshing change from a well-worn genre.

It doesn't hurt that you have two of the best actors working today giving top-notch performances. Meryl Streep is excellent as always, and plays Kay with a painful vulnerability which is a drastic change from her Oscar-winning role as Maggie Thatcher, but still manages to pack a punch. But the real revelation here is Tommy Lee Jones. On one end, he plays a cranky accountant, which is an offset of some of his other roles. But when he starts to dive into his marital problems, the combination of pain, anger, and vulnerability that he portrays is quite stunning, and one of his best performances in years. Even if this had been lesser material, these two performances would have made it worthwhile. But combine them with a refreshingly honest portrayal of marriage, and Hope Springs is a winner.

One exception to his otherwise wonderful film experience, was the lack of lines for Elisabeth Shue and Jean Smart, both of whom are talented actors, and both of which are featured in the trailer. They each have about two or three lines, and that's it. Kind of disappointing. The other main issue is the ending. I never doubted that it would wrap up its story nicely. But after such a fresh beginning and middle, the ending felt a little two forced, a little too wrapped-up.

But despite a few flaws, Hope Springs is still a winning film. And while it, as a whole, will probably not be tearing up the awards circuit any time soon, its two leads are definitely in this Oscar race. Furthermore, it is a great end-of-summer movie that has broken up the monotony of loud, action-packed, blockbusters, and proves to be one of the most enlightening adult dramas of the year.

Grade:  B+

Oscar Potential: Best Actor (Tommy Lee Jones), Best Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Original Screenplay (Vanessa Taylor).

Two New Emmy Polls in Sidebar

In the weeks leading up to the Emmys, I will be putting up polls of the nominees for as many categories as I can fit! It is your time to sound off on who you think will win, so keep on the lookout for polls and don't forget to vote!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Top 100 Films of the 1990's: Part V

60. Raise the Red Lantern (1991) - In the last couple of years, I have dived into some of the foreign films of the past which made an impact. One of those films was the 1991's Raise the Red Lantern. Set in 1920's China, Yimou Zhang's film tells the story of a woman forced to marry a man who already has three lives. The film, which has an almost silence simplicity on its surface, is an in-depth look at the struggle of women at this time, and continuing struggles that women in China face, as they fight to push themselves ahead, in a sexist world. It also had anti-Communist undertones that remain relevant twenty years later. Most importantly, Raise the Red Lantern is a beatifully shot modern masterpiece that showcases how the art and beauty of film can combine with reserved, yet stunning performances, particularly Gong-Li, and surprisingly deep themes to create an all-around film experience which is entertaining, stunning, and leaves you only wanting more.

59. The Insider (1999) - Michael Mann has shown his knack for potent thrillers, in various subgenres. In 1999, Mann tackled the dirtiness of corporate America in yet another film triumph, The Insider. Part whistle-blowing thriller, part political message about the corruptness of corporate america, in this case the tobacco industry, The Insider is an in-depth, thinking-man's film that provides an interesting and scary expose, while remaining both intelligent, as well as entertaining. It is full of clever, cat-and-mouse dialogue, and never wastes a moment or a frame, all perfectly placed for a specific reason. It doesn't hurt that it has deft pacing, perfectly shot scenes, and some scene-stealing performances from the likes of Al Pacino, Christopher Plummer, and particularly Russell Crowe. It was the 1990's version of All the President' Men, and although some would argue it pales in comparison, I would say it was a nice followup instead.

58. The Sweet Hereafter (1997) - Some films are beautiful, some films are gloomy, but the combined sensibility of the depression following aftermath of a bus accident, and the signature style of director Atom Egoyan, makes 1997's The Sweet Hereafter a wonderful combination of both. The Sweet Hereafter is one of those films that is hard to get over. It is so real and raw, yet poignant that it stays with you long after its final frame goes black. It is sad, sweet, and even at times hard to watch, but it dives into human emotions and the true effects of a tragedy, like few films are bold enough to do. It also is chocked full of stunning performances Sarah Polley and Ian Holm, and Egoyan vision was rightly award with two Academy Award nominations for both his emotional screenplay, and his brilliant direction. This is a not a film for everyone, and some may be so overcome by it, that it may be one they can't finish, but if they can, they will be greatly rewarded.

57. Chungking Express (1994) - In case you can't tell, I have now fully discovered the brilliant of Wong Kar-Wai, especially since he has now graced this list for the second time. And in with all of his great films that came out during this decade, Chungking Express is probably his crowning achievement. Like Days of Being Wild, Chungking Express is an intimate look into the human experience. In this film, Kar-Wai tells the story of two cops who are struggling with the emptiness of ending relationships. It has two diverging stories that somehow fit perfectly together in a melancholy and emotional film that while, at times, hard to watch, is also incredibly human. It is also stylistically beautiful with splashes of directorial flourishes and color palates, that in some films would be distracting, or taking away from an otherwise great story line, but in Chungking Express, the stylistic elements only help enhance the heartbreak that exudes from its beautiful frames.

56. The Sixth Sense (1999) - The career of M. Night Shyamalan, is probably one of the saddest and most disappointing scenes to witness in Hollywood in the last decade, because, while each film he makes gets worse and worse, we are constantly reminded that at one point, he was one of the hottest young directors with one of the most promising careers. In 1999, he was nominated for an Oscar for his modern thriller masterpiece, The Sixth Sense. On the surface it is a psychological ghost story, with lots of one liners, the most famous of which is of course, "I see dead people." But underneath that surface, which was used to bring people to the theater, there is a real sense of emotion, as a mother struggles with her son, and a psychologist struggles with his own fate. Shyamalan manages to find depths in an otherwise well-tread genre to explore the realities and fantasies that humans have about depth, in a way that has rarely been seen on film.

55. 12 Monkeys (1995) - I am a huge Terry Gilliam film, and while his 1995 sci-fi adventure 12 Monkeys may not be quite as memorable as its semi-thematic predecessor Brazil, it manages to cleverly expand on similar themes, and continues to show the talent and vision of one of the best modern directors. What I love about this film is the way that it doesn't quite fit into any specific category. It is one of those films with a timeless message about the future of our world, but manages to combine action, dark humor, romance, science-fiction, drama, and almost every other genre into its frames without feeling overstuffed. It is impeccably acted by Stowe, Pitt, Willis, and the entire cast, and remains one of those films that stays with you, and not just because it is slightly unsettling, but because it is incredibly well-made, and so perfectly situated by Gilliam and his crewed, that it simply deserves undeniable admiration.

54. A Taste of Cherry (1997) - Something about this past year's Certified Copy still sits with me slightly off, although upon a second viewing I would bump up my initial reviewing letter grade. But despite my lack of enthusiasm for his latest project, I have recently become a huge admirer of Abbas Kiarostami's films, and 1997's A Taste of Cherry is a beautiful representation of his enormous talent. Unlike Certified Copy, A Taste of Cherry has a level of emotion that feels so real, that it would never be compared to an exercise for a film class. The story about a man who plans to commit suicide, and continues to drive around until he finds someone who will bury him afterwards under a cherry tree might sound like a stretch, but it is a beautiful story about a journey of one man trying to find a real reason to live. It is a film that tests human emotion, and makes us look a little more closely at our own lives, and in many ways appreciate them so much more. It is beautifully directed, well-acted, and packs an emotional wallop that will stay will you for weeks.

53. Jackie Brown (1997) - In an unfortunate turn of events, Quentin Tarantino's 1997 film noir classic Jackie Brown has always seemed to be pushed to the bottom of the director's pile in favor of other films like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. And while those who do the pushing may have a point, they also forget that Jackie Brown still remains one of the most inventive and entertaining films of Tarantino's repertoire, and of the 1990's. It was received initially with mixed reactions, but 15 years later, Jackie Brown needs to be reexamined. It may not be as stylish and noir as Pulp Fiction or as upfront as Dogs, but it is also slightly more mature than his previous efforts. It is a bit more traditional, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as it makes the story a little more easily translated, and allows for character development which is greatly appreciated and enhances the entertaining story line. Sure its no Pulp Fiction, but Jackie Brown is still one of the best films of the decade, and deserves recognition. 

52. The Player (1992) - Before 2006's For Your Consideration made a lot of fun about the politics of winning an Oscar, Robert Altman's 1992 classic The Player, was avid moviegoers little joke, and while many people may not get the inside jokes for us cinephiles, it remains one of the most self-mocking, and incredibly hilarious films about film every made, and one of the most charming of the 1990's. Tim Robbin's infectious performance (much better than his Oscar winning one in Mystic River), leads an all-star cast, perfectly assembled like only Robert Altman can, to make fun of and make satire of the same industry of all they are all a part of. And only a director with as much finesse as Robert Altman could pull it off with deftness and class. Basically put, it is a great modern day follow-up reminiscent of other satirical works like Sunset Boulevard and A Star is Born. And that is one hell of a compliment.

51. Casino (1995) - Once again, like Jackie Brown before it, Casino is usually relegated as one of the lesser Scorsese efforts behind Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, and The Departed, and while it may not reach the cinematic heights of those efforts, it still remains an excellent film that is signature Scorsese and wildly entertaining. Featuring great performances from Joe Pesci, Robert DeNiro, and particularly Sharon Stone, Casino is a sprawling crime epic about the rise and fall of a gambling empire. It is  violent, visionary, and a fascinating story that will have you glued to the screen the entire time. Basically it showcases all of the qualities that have made Martin Scorsese one of the best directors of the last half century. His ability to combine stylistic film brilliance, with popular crime sensibility, is reminiscent of Coppola and other gangster classics, and also shows us all about how organized crime can be deceptive and powerfully depicted. A wonderfully underrated film that is worth a second look. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Trouble With the Curve Trailer

So I'm not sure about this one. Clint's recent endorsement of Romney could turn off the Hollywood types, although the broken-down, rusted legend looking for one last break, trying to mend fences with his family, all looks like something the Academy could wrap their minds around. Plus Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood, along with John Goodman gives it some star power. I am a little concerned about the tone, which seems a little off balanced between the funny and serious moments, and with Timberlake who seems like he is trying from hard just from the trailer. We'll have to wait and see. Check out the trailer below:

RIP Marvin Hamlisch

A sad bit of news. At the age of 68, Marvin Hamlisch, one of the few EGOT winners, passed away from an unknown illness. It is interesting to think about the impact that Hamlisch had on music in film. As the Original Song category unjustly becomes a joke, its nice to look at the the way things were (pun intended), when greats like Marvin Hamlisch composed scores and songs that were as memorable, or sometimes even more so, than the films in which they were featured. He was a legendary talent who will be forever irreplaceable. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family. Rest in peace old friend.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Zero Dark Thirty Trailer

It doesn't show us enough yet to really get a feel for its quality, but Bigelow is a talented action director, and the material is certainly juicy enough to make an extremely entertaining experience. Here is the teaser below:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hope Springs: Oscar Contender?

I was reading some early reviews of Hope Springs, the lastest film from director David Frankel, starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell, and I can honestly say I am pleasantly surprised. 11 reviews in on Rotten Tomatoes, and it is at 100% and a 8.3 out of 10. Most of the reviewers seemed surprised as well. Not one of them, and I surely didn't, deny that there was a lot of talent involved, but it is not just the acting which is receiving praise (a lot I might add, Meryl may be on her way to nomination number 20), but also the script by Vanessa Taylor, and the direction by Frankel. Most importantly, they all seem to agree it is better than its trailer suggests, and is much more dramedy than raunchy comedy, and delves into the struggles facing a 31 year marriage that needs some spark. I personally am excited to see it (as well as finally see TDKR), and see whether it has enough potential to be a real Oscar contender. Here are some of the early reviews:

Lisa Schwartzbaum from EW:

"The movie provides a master lesson in great American character acting, but viewers are also invited to just kick back and enjoy the fun of watching famous, aging movie stars pretend to have difficulties in the sack."

Justin Chang from Variety:

"An altogether pleasant surprise: a mainstream dramedy that frankly and intelligently addresses the challenges facing a couple after 31 years of marriage."

And Justin Lowe from The Hollywood Reporter:

"More comedic drama than midlife romantic comedy, rather literally titled Hope Springs holds few surprises but delivers plenty of warmth."

Friday, August 3, 2012

2012 Sight & Sound Greatest Films of All Time

Always a fun list, if for anything just to see the changes, including Vertigo leaping in front of Citizen Kane. Here is the list:

The Critics Top Ten
1. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
2. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
3. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)
4. La Règle du jeu (Renoir, 1939)
5. Sunrise: A Song for Two Humans (Murnau, 1927)
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
7. The Searchers (Ford, 1956)
8. Man With a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1927)
10. 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)

The Director's Top Ten
1. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)
2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
3. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
4. 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)
5. Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1980)
6. Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979)
7. The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)
8. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
9. Mirror (Tarkovsky, 1974)
10. Bicycle Thieves (De Sica, 1948)

2012 Emmy Episode Submissions: Comedy and Drama Series

I realized that in my post from yesterday, I forgot to post the episode for the Drama and Comedy Series:

Best Comedy Series
THE BIG BANG THEORY - "The Hawking Excitation", "The Countdown Reflection", "The Russian Rocket Reaction" & "The Beta Test Initiation", "The Ornithophobia Diffusion" & "The Shiny Trinket Maneuver"

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM - "Vow of Silence", "The Hero", "Palestinian Chicken", "Car Periscope", "Mister Softee", "Larry vs. Michael J. Fox"
GIRLS - "Pilot", "Vagina Panic", "Hannah's Diary", "Hard Being Easy", "Leave Me Alone", "She Did"

MODERN FAMILY - "Door to Door", "Aunt Mommy", "Leap Day", "Baby on Board", "Punkin' Chunkin'", "Egg Drop"

30 ROCK - "Idiots Are People Two!", "Idiots Are People Three!", "The Tuxedo Begins", "St. Patrick's Day", "Meet the Woggels!", "Murphy Brown Lied to Us"

VEEP- "Pilot", "Catherine", "Nicknames", "Baseball", "Full Disclosure", "Tears"

Best Drama Series
BOARDWALK EMPIRE- “21”, “Ourselves Alone”, "Peg of Old”, “Two Boats and a Lifeguard”, "Under God's Power She Flourishes”, “To the Lost”

BREAKING BAD - "Box Cutter", "Salud", "Problem Dog", "Crawl Space", "End Times", "Face Off"

DOWNTON ABBEY - "Episode 1", "Episode 6", "Episode 7 Christmas"

GAME OF THRONES - “What is Dead May Never Die”, “Garden of Bones”, “The Old Gods and the New”, “A Man Without Honor", "Blackwater", “Valar Morghulis”

HOMELAND - "Pilot", "Grace", "The Good Soldier", "The Weekend", "Marine One" (extended episode)

MAD MEN - TBA