Monday, January 31, 2011

Kill the troll...

Yesterday was beyond depressing.  At about six in the afternoon I pulled up Awardsdailyforums.com to check the outcome of the DGA and found out that my beloved David Fincher LOST to that troll Tom Hooper.  How the hell did that happen?  I understand that the disgusting PGA win for The King’s Speech gave it a seemingly small lead on The Social Network for Oscar’s big prize, but I was certain that David Fincher had the directing Oscar IN THE BAG.  Then the DGA happened.  Feeling sick to my stomach I went home and mentally prepared myself for the SAG awards, psyching myself out for a win for The Social Network in Best Ensemble, sealing its frontrunner status with Oscar.  Then, the worst possible thing in the world happened.  The King’s Speech won the big prize.

What is with all this sudden support for this King’s movie?

Now listen, I have nothing against The King’s Speech.  It is an enjoyable film that works well within the bounds of the genre it’s a part of and I liked it, BUT it has NOTHING on The Social Network.  Let’s not even address the fact that The Social Network has performed near total domination over the precursors and snagged nearly every top honor with the critics across the board, but the film itself is everything everyone says it is.  I mean, honestly, the more I think about it the more I’m convinced that this film IS the film of its generation.  It captures all of the essential elements of a memorable cinematic experience, but it takes it up a notch by remaining surprisingly poignant in a modern and relatable setting.  Maybe that is the drawback with Oscar.  Maybe the older Academy voters are turned off by the blatantly modernized setting of it all.  This isn’t your typical Oscar winner.  It isn’t a war film.  It isn’t a period film.  It isn’t even a film about middle aged couples (another Oscar favorite).  This is a film about a bunch of self-centered teenage entrepreneurs. 

I can’t think of anything LESS Oscar than that.

So, this weekend gave me the opportunity to come to terms with Oscar’s inevitable Best Picture choice.  Harvey Weinstein will buy himself another Oscar and we’re looking at another Shakespeare in Love surprise victory.  Or, maybe it’s more like what Crash did to Brokeback Mountain, considering a similar critics sweep between Brokeback Mountain and The Social Network.  But, here’s the thing; in both of those incidences the right man won the directing Oscar.

If David Fincher loses I’ll break my freaking TV.
Honestly, I don’t understand this DGA win for Hooper.  I mean, I’ve been a longstanding fan of David Fincher for years.  He’s a brilliant auteur that is finally getting the recognition he deserves.  Personally, I’d have nominated him a few times now, coming close to giving him a win in 95 for his remarkably toned work in Se7en.  As much as I kind of hated The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and as much as I felt that Fincher’s directorial efforts were some of the least effective of his career, I was so happy to see Oscar FINALLY nominate him.  The fact of the matter is, what David Fincher accomplished in The Social Network is the best of his career and is, without question, the best directorial accomplishment this year.  This should easily be his golden ticket.  I’m getting nervous. 

I’ll wait and see, and as of now I’m still putting my money on Fincher for the win, but I’m getting my middle fingers ready for Oscar’s big flub.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

OSCAR NOMINEES!!!

The Oscar nominations are in (as of forever ago but I’m at work and thus taking the entire day to construct this post), and it looks like I did ‘decent’ at best.  How in the world did this happen?  LOL, that’s what you get for sticking your nose where it don’t belong.  My last post was a ‘pre-nomination morning’ ode to the snub I saw coming; that of Leonardo DiCaprio, but I feel like I need to write a whole new write up on the ridiculous Andrew Garfield snub!  Sure, many will say that Christopher Nolan’s snub is far more erroneous (I mean, what does this guy have to do to get an Oscar nomination?!?!?!) but I personal wouldn’t have nominated him either, so I’m alright with the snub (sort of).  ANDREW GARFIELD ON THE OTHER HAND gives my favorite supporting performance of the year.  I must say that I’m thrilled John Hawkes was nomination (such a richly detailed performance amidst a sea of stereotypes) but I wish that his nomination had come at Jeremy Renner’s expense instead.

ALAS, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The nominees for BEST PICTURE are:

I got 9/10 here, missing ‘127 Hours’ in favor of ‘The Town’.  It just appeared that the support for Boyle’s film was waning, but the BAFTA love showered on it should have been an indicator that it was gaining the small amount of momentum needed to push it over the top.  It saddens me that with a 10-wide field the nominees were all so ‘expected’.  Even though I missed ‘127 Hours’, even I knew it was the ONLY other possibility.  Personally, I don’t nominate 10 films (it just seems to demean the elitist feeling derived from being called ‘the best’) but I have to admit that none of these films are bad (overrated, yes…but not bad).  For me, the notable snubs would be ‘Animal Kingdom’ and ‘Blue Valentine’ (FINALLY SAW THAT THIS PAST WEEKEND!!!), both of which should have found their way into a 10-wide race.  ANYWAYS, we all know that ‘The Social Network’ is going to win this (and deservedly so).  Yes, it lost the PGA to ‘The King’s Speech’, but Fincher is a LOCK for director, and I can’t see the constant surge of passion for the film being derailed so suddenly by such a ‘safe choice’.

The nominees for BEST DIRECTOR are:


I’m in shock.  I went 4/5 here but if anyone was going to get the shaft I assumed it would have been O. Russell.  Nolan seemed about as locked as anyone, and certainly more locked up than Aranofsky and O. Russell.  Seeing him snubbed again saddens me, despite the fact that I personally wouldn’t have nominated him anyways.  This is coming from the guy who gives him the Directing WIN in 08.  Oh well, we all know that Fincher is taking this in a cakewalk, which may be the most deserving Oscar win of the evening!

The nominees for LEAD ACTOR are:


I went 4/5 here.  I saw Bardem coming, but I had this hunch that Bridges, who just won last year, would get the shaft in favor of Robert Duvall.  I was really hoping for a Ryan Gosling upset here, but that didn’t happen.  Why didn’t more people see ‘Blue Valentine’ or at least blind vote for it?  Alas, there are snubs all over the place here.  I love Jeff Bridges, and I am all for this current resurgence of his career and the appreciation for it, but remind me again why his performance in ‘True Grit’ is Oscar worthy?  What about Leonardo DiCaprio or Jim Carrey?  Of the nominated five, I’d say that Jesse Eisenberg should win this HANDS DOWN, but we all know that Oscar loves royalty porn and Colin Firth won this Oscar last year when it was announced that this film was being released for Oscar consideration.

The nominees for LEAD ACTRESS are:


I actually got 5/5 here.  That fifth nominee was up in the air, but I had faith in Michelle and I’m so glad she nabbed that much deserved nomination (now, how about a surprise win!).  We all know that Portman and Bening are really the only two names to watch out for come Oscar night, and the closer we get the worse it looks for Bening.  Besides the fact that her performance is just ‘better’, she is so DUE it’s pathetic.  Anyways, I’m settling into the fact that Portman is winning the Oscar, and I must say that it wouldn’t be a bad win.  She was very good in the film (in fact, all of these nominees were good) and so I can’t fault her.  Still, she takes a backseat to not only Bening, but also Kidman and Williams (who should win).  I can’t really claim anyone snubbed here, especially since these actresses have been the ones to ‘hope for’ for a while now, but I will say that Julianne Moore stomps all over everyone here (minus Michelle Williams) and that Tilda Swinton NEEDS to get a second nomination soon.

The nominees for SUPPORTING ACTOR are:


I feel sick, and it’s not because I only got 3/5 here.  Yes, my big Rockwell surprise didn’t quite pan out, but we did get John Hawkes, and he was BRILLIANT in ‘Winter’s Bone’ so I’m really happy about that…but NO GARFIELD!!!  Honestly, Andrew Garfield gives my favorite supporting performance this year and he was royally screwed here.  I will say that I’m really happy to see both Bale and Ruffalo FINALLY get Oscar nominations, and I will be so ecstatic when Bale wins (even though I think Ruffalo should win this).

The nominees for SUPPORTING ACTRESS are:


I went 4/5 here, and I really should have swapped Steinfeld back in for Kunis.  I just had this feeling that the category confusion could harm her, especially since she wasn’t out front and center like Melissa Leo was.  I mean, can someone explain to me how Steinfeld is supporting?  Anyways, there are a slew of snubs in this category, especially since the only worthy contender here is Jacki Weaver, the one with the smallest chance of actually winning.  Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning…even Marion Cotillard were all better than these nominees…and yet, it should be noted that not one of these performances were bad.  Oh well, we all know that it will be one of ‘The Fighter’ girls who actually wins the gold, and my money is on Amy Adams, unless Leo takes the SAG.  Leo is winning everything now, but she wasn’t shortlisted at BAFTA, and so if Amy takes that over Bonham Carter I think we have our winner.

The nominees for ANIMATED FILM are:


I got 2/3 here.  I really thought that the ‘Tangled’ adoration would sweet Disney into the mix, but I was wrong.  I should have gone with the more obscure, but even I would have put ‘Despicable Me’ in as my #4 guess.  It doesn’t matter in the end, since there is no way that ‘Toy Story 3’ is going to lose.

The nominees for ART DIRECTION are:


I went 3/5 here.  I really though that ‘Black Swan’ would show up more in these technical categories (not embraced like I imagined) and the ‘Shutter Island’ snub is horrific!  If the more is more mentality prevails, then ‘Alice in Wonderland’ may actually take this one home…BOOOO.

The nominees for CINEMATOGRAPHY are:


I went 4/5 here, missing ‘The King’s Speech’ in favor of ‘127 Hours’.  I should have known that the big prestige drama would sneak into any category it could, but I tried to ignore instincts and go for guild appreciation, which I thought ’127 Hours’ had, at least in this category.  I think that ‘Inception’ or ‘Black Swan’ will take this; but a Deakins win is certainly due, so ‘True Grit’ may squeeze a solitary win in this category come Oscar night.














The nominees for COSTUME DESIGN are:


I went 3/5 here.  Wow, I totally underestimated ‘The Tempest’ beings that I never heard anything about the film (obscure films do get random nominations in these technical categories, even if they never win).  I also underestimated ‘I Am Love’ but I am OVERJOYED that it showed up here since it is currently my personal winner!  I really thought ‘Black Swan’ had this nomination in the bag, but I was very wrong.  I would have also liked to see ‘Inception’ up here, as the costumes in that films were very well executed.  I have this horrible feeling that ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is going to win this thing.


























The nominees for DOCUMENTARY FEATURE are:


Talk about a major shock; I was under the impression that ‘Waiting for Superman’ was winning this in a cakewalk and it wasn’t even nomination!  I got 3/5 here.  This could go anyway, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be a battle between ‘Inside Job’ and ‘Restrepo’.

The nominees for FILM EDITING are:


I went 4/5 here.  The lack of ‘Inception’ here (OF ALL CATEGORIES) is ridiculous, especially since that film was all about those sharp edits.  I thought that ‘Inception’ was the frontrunner here and now it isn’t even nominated.  I guess this will be another notch in ‘The Social Network’s belt.  Deserved, but ‘Inception’ would have been a better winner here.

The nominees for FOREIGN FILM are:


I went 3/5 here.  The biggest shock is ‘Dogtooth’, which I really thought had ZERO chance of getting in.  I hear it’s totally deserving in all its twistedness, but I can’t comment since I haven’t seen it.  I wholly expect Denmark to repeat their Golden Globe success, but then again, if there is ever a WTF upset on Oscar night, you know it is in this category.

The nominees for MAKEUP are:


Ha, I bombed here.  I went 1/3, only getting The Wolfman.  This seemed like an easy nomination (and win) for that Alice in Wonderland trainwreck, but it didn’t show here.  I assume The Wolfman will win this, but wouldn’t that be…weird?

The nominees for ORIGINAL SCORE are:

127 Hours
How To Train Your Dragon
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

I went 4/5 here, missing ‘127 Hours’ for ‘Never Let Me Go’.  I should have known better.  I was hoping for a surprise.  I really hope that ‘The Social Network’ can nab this, but I have a feeling that ‘Inception’ might swoop in for the kill.

The nominees for ORIGINAL SONG are:

127 Hours/If I Rise
Country Strong/Coming Home
Tangled/I See the Light
Toy Story 3/We Belong Together

I only got 2/4 here, and I even predicted 5 nominees.  What was with the ‘Burlesque’ shut out?  That was just weird.  Alas, ‘If I Rise’ may take this, but A.R. Rahman just won.  Maybe ‘Toy Story 3’ will get to add another win to their tally!

The nominees for VISUAL EFFECTS are:

I went 3/5, missing Harry Potter and Hereafter for Tron and Scott Pilgrim.  Eh, I knew Scott Pilgrim was a risky prediction, but I really thought Tron was locked up here.  Inception has this in the bag; so their really needn’t be 4 other nominees.

The nominees for SOUND EDITING are:

Inception
Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit
Unstoppable

OMG, I’m so embarrassed.  1/5.  LOL, um…Inception will win though, so at least I got that right.

The nominees for SOUND MIXING are:

Inception
The King’s Speech
Salt
The Social Network
True Grit

At least I got 2/5 here, but still…this was pathetic.  Again, Inception should have this.

The nominees for ADAPTED SCREENPLAY are:

I got 4/5 here, choosing to ignore logic and predict The Ghost Writer as a surprise nominee.  I guess the Academy really like 127 Hours, far more than I gave them credit for.  Still, there is no way ‘The Social Network’ loses this.

The nominees for ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY are:


YAY, I got 5/5 here!  I had a feeling that Leigh’s film wouldn’t get the complete shaft; he’s always good for a screenplay nod, if nothing else (which is what happened to him here).  I think that ‘The King’s Speech’ will take this, but they may hand it to ‘Inception’ as a make up for snubbing Nolan in director.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Crimes in Oscar Snubbery...

You ever sit down to watch a film, mainly because someone has raved a particular performance and you really want to see what all the hype was about, only to find yourself scratching your head over that said performance, wondering how it is that anyone found it ‘rave-worthy’?  You’re sitting there staring at the screen waiting for that moment when it all comes together, you know…that ‘ah ha’ moment, but the movie is nearly over and you still haven’t seen it yet.  You’re just about to give up all hope and then it happens.  You’re awestruck but what you’re witnessing, and suddenly it all makes sense and you realize just how GENIUS the performance was from start to finish.

I had one of those this year.

With Oscar nominations due to be announce next week, I’ve given a lot of thought to performances that are NOT going to be nominated but damn well should.  Colin Farrell’s subtle yet moving work in ‘Ondine’, Kirsten Dunst’s stunning work in the train-wreck of a movie ‘All Good Things’, JULIANNE MOORE IN ‘THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT’…and right up there is a brilliantly crafted performance by Mr. Oscarless himself; Leonardo DiCaprio.

Shutter Island’, the film, is a little uneven for me to completely rave.  It has its moments, and when Scorsese does it right he nearly nails it, but the films textures are a tad mismatched for me to buy it completely.  The whole noir vibe seems to overlap the horror aspects of the film without meeting them for a full mesh; and the films overall construction is far too revealing to be fully effective (those flashback sequences were just a total mess).  I had previously read the novel, and so I knew the ending (which is pretty clichéd, if you ask me) but the film doesn’t try and shield you from the truth at all.  It basically hits you over the head with the eventualities which take away from the sting.

That said; it is within that ending that Leonardo DiCaprio does something remarkable.

Throughout most of the film I found Leonardo to be serviceable at best; but to be honest I kind of leaned towards ‘this performance is downright bad’.  He was a poor mans Humphrey Bogart and it showed.  His accent work was a tad spotty (no where near as consistent as in ‘The Departed’ yet no where near as dreadful as in ‘Blood Diamond’) but overall he just came across like a bad actor.  His reactions to situations played too heavily on the ‘amateurish’ side of things.  You could see right through him.  He seemed so out of place.  As the film continued to delude into preposterous scenarios (it is pretty faithful to the novel, which was also too obvious for its own good), DiCaprio continued to strip away any credibility to his character.  Granted, I knew the eventual outcome and so maybe that’s why DiCaprio was so ‘obvious’ to me, but it still bothered me.

And then there was that moment, in the lighthouse, where Teddy’s world came crashing down.

In a gutting sequence of raw human abandonment, Leonardo transforms Teddy into Andrew and delivers enough shocking reality to the screen to mask the fact that we saw this coming a mile (two miles even) away.  Yes, the shtick is gone; the scared, confused man pretending to be something he’s not is thrown completely out the window and instead we have replaced him with a man very much inside his own private hell.  The anguish on his face as the falsified tremors start to take on a more honest tone is ever reaching.  And then comes the dreaded flashback that has been hinted at from the moment the film started, when the ‘truth’ is revealed.  In that moment, DiCaprio ‘goes there’ in every sense of the word.  His gut reactions are pure and understandable.  His complete collapse is everything it needed to be to sell the moment. 

His sobbing mirrored mine, so I knew it was legit.

And here is the most remarkable part of all.  As I watched him completely flip his character and the way he was approaching him it shed so much light on the character he had created, the character that Andrew had created.  Every moment of the film where I felt Leonardo was phoning it in or where I felt he was in over his head were now moments where I felt he was, without question, flawless. 

He built a character within a character within a character; take that ‘Inception’.

In the end, I wish I could pimp this out for the Oscar this year, but my opinion carried no weight.  If DiCaprio could just pull out a surprise nomination; oh how wonderful that would be.  What he accomplished here was no easy task, for his character shifts create tonal shifts in the entire film.  He controls where this film goes, for the better.  He understands that only he can elevate this film, and he does it with an ease that is undeniable.

“So, what’s our next move?”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oscar Predictions

The Oscar nominees are announced next week and so I wanted to hurry up and post my current predictions (you'll find them on the right sidebar).  There may be a few changes before the big reveal, but at the moment I'm happy with my guess work.  Best Actor is giving me trouble, since I only consider Eisenberg, Franco and Firth as locks with Bardem, Duvall, Bridges and Gosling all vying for a nomination.  I went with my gut and not my head (I really think Gosling will show up there) so let's see what that does for me.  Also, I know it was risky, but I kind of shafted Steinfeld (category confusion has done worse to an actress) and I threw Rockwell in Supporting Actor despite very poor precursor showing.  It just seems like the type of performance that gets a surprise nomination.  I've been saying that for a while now, and I'm not going to stop until Oscar proves me wrong.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Weekend of Awards Watching and Fist Pumping...

Well, not exactly...but sort of.  Just a few thoughts to rattle off until I have time to fully develop a new post.  So, it looks like the Oscars are really going to go to Supporting Actors from the same film...and I'm pleased with that.  Bale is just so freaking due it is pathetic.  I prefer Garfield's performance, but I would much rather see Christian Bale winning that Oscar, so I'm totally fine with the 'dueness' playing in here.  Really though, why in the world is Leo steamrolling towards that Oscar and not Adams?  Personally, Amy Adams was MUCH better in the film.  I liked them both, and Leo's win will be deserving, but Adams should win (not that I'd nominate either of them...since Kirsten Dunst SHOULD win).  Anyways...this isn't film related, but the best part of the Globes last night was watching Chris Colfer's reaction to his surprise win.

I wish I could find a photo...he was too cute.

Anyways, the usual suspects took home awards, paving the way for Oscar glory.  I wish the year end awards would become a little more exciting.  I mean, does Colin Firth's 'royalty porn' have to win everything?  What about Ryan Gosling.  I mean, they nominated him and yet they still thought that Firth gave the better performance?  I find that, odd.

I don't care as long as The Social Network wins the damn thing.  If it loses (ala Brokeback Mountain) to a safe and conservitive choice I'm going to be PISSED OFF!

Friday, January 14, 2011

OMGred

Childhood is a beautiful thing.  It is full of excitement and wonderment and an innocence that is a shame to see slip through a child’s plush little fingers.  When I look at my eldest daughter, now three, and her lavish lust for life I can’t help but wish it would linger longer than I know it will.  That seems harsh, I’m sure, since adolescence does take its time (she’s only three for Christ sake) but I’m only twenty-five and my life is already a bowl of exasperation.  Gone are the days of spinning in circles and curious stares at nature and endless storytelling huddled in the closet of my room surrounded by countless stuffed animals.  Gone are the days of reckless imagination and boundless curiosity. 

I’m an adult.

Yuck.

I’m often fascinated by theatrical depictions of childhood, good and bad, since there are so many layers to the mind of a child and it is impressive to me when a film understands how to capture and cultivate those layers.  In recent years I have been moved, quite emphatically, by a few films; most notably ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ (for so many reasons it’s pathetic).  The other night I happened to catch a film barely over thirty minutes in length that spoke so vividly about the world of a child with barely a whisper (the dialog in the film is so limited that it was classified a silent film by TCM).  That film was ‘The Red Balloon’ or ‘Le Ballon Rouge’.  This thirty-four minute short film by Albert Lamorisse starring none other than his very own son Pascal is a beautifully intoxicating film that navigates the rich innocence (birth and death) of a child with stark significance.

The film simply tells the story of a boy who finds a balloon and spends the day protecting it.  It follows him around and listens to him.  The other boys in his neighborhood want to destroy the balloon and the adults in his life want to discipline him for having it.

Pascal loves the balloon.

As I mentioned earlier, childhood is so layered.  There is no real cut and dry answer as to the meaning of this film, for life is rarely that black and white.  Some have noted they felt the film spoke of escape from the loneliness of childhood; mean parents and bullies and the like.  I understand that viewpoint completely. 

For me though, ‘Le Ballon Rouge’ is more about growing up and leaving childhood behind.  That balloon is a representation of all the dreams and aspirations we have in our youth.  When you are young everything seems possible.  You can be anything you want to be, and most parents try to enforce that idea in the minds of their children.  How often though, does life work out that way?  Having those ideals is a beautiful thing, but a certain air of realism comes into play as we age, and before we know it we have completely disregarded the life we once dreamed we’d live and settle into the more realistic, the more attainable; the more ‘normal’ life.  Look at the way the slightly older children regard the balloon.  The pawn over it, chase after it, seek to destroy it.  The adults in Pascal’s life look down on the balloon and it’s presence as a burden, going as far as to discipline Pascal for entertaining the idea of ‘the balloon’.  It is almost as if the people around him will stop at nothing to destroy his dreams.

And then the dream is killed.

‘Le Ballon Rouge’ offers us a glimmer of hope though, as we watch Pascal find new dreams shortly after his balloon is deflated.  In a flurry, balloons from all over rush to the aid of their dying friend and then surround young Pascal, adopting him as their own and causing him to soar to new heights (quite literally).

The beauty of ‘Le Ballon Rouge’ comes in the resolve that dreams don’t HAVE to die.  As I mentioned, all too often we give up on those dreams, shucking them aside to live a more acceptable life.  That isn’t to say that adulthood is a series of painful moments and a swell of regret.  In fact, I wouldn’t trade my life for anything (despite the frustrated responsibilities that dull my enjoyment of everyday).  Still, as parents we feel obligated to put our children’s futures on a pedestal, desiring them to become something more than we ever could dream of becoming.  In a way, I feel that this is what Lamorisse was doing with this film.  Youth is beautiful.  It is exciting and charming and new and daring.  Youth is inspiring, and Lamorisse didn’t want Pascal to lose that part of himself.  ‘Le Ballon Rouge’ broaches the realities of youthful dreams with the hopefulness that those dreams don’t have to leave us entirely as we get older.  It's a mindset; an approach we take to life. 

Maybe we need to broaden our understanding of what a 'dream' really is.

We may let go of our balloon, or we may have it shot down and trampled by those around us…but if that happens we need to find ourselves another balloon.

I found two, my daughters, and they are the most beautiful balloons I’ve ever seen.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Random Embarrassing Cinematic Confession #1…

So, the other night for like the thirty-somethingth time I watched ‘The Princess Diaries’.  Yes, totally clichéd and generic but wholly enjoyable and watchable.  This is, in large part, thanks to the stars; Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews.  I simply worship Dame Andrews (can I deem her a Dame?) and I’ve always been enamored by the gorgeous creature that is Anne Hathaway.  Anyways, just curious, but who else agrees that Hathaway looks like the love child of Julia Roberts and Angelina Jolie?
Anjulia Hathaway?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Five Years of Swinton

Is it bizarre that before 2007 I didn’t even really know and or care who Tilda Swinton is?  I mean, seriously; until ‘Michael Clayton’ I hadn’t seen her in anything noteworthy (I barely remember her in ‘Adaptation’ and I have no recollection of her at all in ‘Vanilla Sky’).  Once seeing ‘Michael Clayton’, and witnessing her justly deserved Oscar win, I have become kind of obsessed with her.  She’s quickly rising in my eyes as one of the (if not THE) greatest actress of her generation.

I’m not really exaggerating here.

Anyways; I had just finished watching ‘I Am Love’ for a second time (I’m still not in love with it entirely) and I couldn’t help but think to myself that Tilda Swinton is like the definition of ‘Actress of the Aughts’ and so I decided to dissect the reasons I love her so much. 

So, in keeping with my theme…

Year One:  Michael Clayton

Yes, the birth of Swinton’s mass appeal and collective recognition.  With just a few small scenes and endless heaps of character development (you feel like you know so much about this woman who is barely in the film) Swinton was able to create a super-villain while maintaining a level of understated sympathies.  Her character is malicious and deceitful and greedy and yet she is human to the bone.  She is uncomfortable and nervous and unsure of her own measures.  You feel her skin crawling all over your own as she contemplates her next move with an air of recklessness.  When she collapses, her body just a blur behind the face of George Clooney, your eyes are drawn to her because you feel her heart hit her gut.

Honestly, she was brilliant.

Year Two:  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button



For a film that is, as a whole, rather void of any emotional relevance (the film is so numb it’s pathetic), there is a small segment in the films center that bleeds with so much emotional warmth it is almost as if it were derived from another film entirely.  A small affair, lightly elaborated on, between Benjamin Button and a married woman at a creaky old hotel is the films sole highlight.  What Swinton brings to this character is simply beautiful.  She is so human, so organic.  You can feel the loneliness in her soul, deeply entrenched in the contours of her face.  You can see her trying to find a future in anything she can get a hold of.  You can feel her desperation, despite the mask she uses to cover over her own fears.  It’s a stunningly effective performance, cutting the ‘cool’ exterior of the film with the sharpness of her skill.

Year Three:  Julia
One of the most insanely engaging and ravishingly fearless performances of the past decade, Swinton bares all her teeth (and then some) and the self centered alcoholic Julia.  Every word out of her mouth is a lie, or at least a manipulated truth used with the sole purpose of getting what she wants; which is money and booze.  She is a reckless and savagely destructive person, unlikable to the letter, and Swinton is not afraid to exploit that.  I was not a fan of the clichéd ending with which the film was saddled (why give Julia a character arc when it was so unnecessary?) but I respect Swinton for finding a way to make it believable.  She goes for it with so much gusto and reaches in ways that many actresses would be afraid to go. 

Year Four:  I Am Love

Like I mentioned, I am not totally in love with ‘I Am Love’, but Swinton’s performance is simply divine.  The film is so vibrant and loud (visually) and so Swinton layers her performance with such subtlety that it helps elevate the progression of her character.  You can sense restraint in her eyes, two orbs that portray the inner workings of a woman repressed by her own past and her eventual future.  When she gives herself over to carnal abandon, you can see this lustful passion, not for a man but for a part of herself that she hasn’t known for so long.  She forgot about herself years ago, and this doomed affair has given her a glimpse into her own soul.  When she finally confronts the consequences of her decisions, you can see the torture in her face, the complete acceptance of her ‘truth’ and then that frantic decision to hold onto her newfound identity.  I hate the soap opera ending, but the way Swinton plays her cards is effortless and increasingly heart wrenching. 

Year Five:  We Need to Talk about Kevin

So, over the last four years Swinton has delivered diverse and engaging work that rivals some of the very best in her field; and next year looks to be just as rewarding.  Her next project is Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation of ‘We Need to Talk about Kevin’, and I have feeling it could net her a second Oscar nomination.  The film revolves around a mother who, in a way to cope with feeling of guilt over her son’s violent actions (he shoots up his school), begins writing to her estranged husband (played by John C. Reilly).  It sounds devastatingly watchable and totally up my ally; and its Tilda, so I have to see it!  I am not really familiar with Lynne Ramsay’s work, but I hear wonderful things about ‘Morvern Callar’ and ‘Ratcatcher’ so I really should see them soon. 
Lord knows I’ll be seeing this one.

Erroneous Exclusion!

Last night I tossed and turned over the fact that I forgot all about Naomi Watts while compiling that list of actors and actresses I want to see win an Oscar over the next decade.  Maybe it's because she starred in MULHOLLAND FREAKING DRIVE and my mind won't allow me to accept that she doesn't already have one!

Anyways, when she finally wins her Oscar (because you know she will) I will jump for joy!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Decade of Acting Oscars

So I was going through some paperwork on my computer over the weekend and I found this list I had done mid-last year with 20 actors and actresses that I would love to see win an Oscar over the next decade.  Now, I already know that there is no chance in hell all 40 of my picks will win the golden bad-boy, but three of my picks are HUGE possibilities this very year, so that makes me REALLY happy.  Anyways, I only selected actors and actresses who have yet to win, since who needs TWO Oscars (outside of, maybe, Russell Crowe) and I tried to select actors who are either so overdue it’s pathetic or actors on the rise in Hollywood who have proven their worth and stand a good chance of achieving gold in the next ten years. 

And I threw in Blythe Danner because I kind of heart her and think the whole ‘mother/daughter’ aspect would be touching.

  1. Amy Adams*
  2. Annette Bening*
  3. Glenn Close
  4. Blythe Danner
  5. Cameron Diaz
  6. Kirsten Dunst
  7. Vera Farmiga*
  8. Maggie Gyllenhaal*
  9. Scarlett Johansson
  10. Catherine Keener
  11. Gong Li
  12. Laura Linney*
  13. Julianne Moore*
  14. Samantha Morton*
  15. Carey Mulligan
  16. Chloe Sevigny*
  17. Kristen Scott-Thomas*
  18. Kerry Washington
  19. Sigourney Weaver
  20. Michelle Williams*

  1. Christian Bale*
  2. Leonardo DiCaprio
  3. Colin Farrell
  4. Ralph Fiennes*
  5. Albert Finney*
  6. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  7. Ryan Gosling*
  8. Bob Hoskins*
  9. Bill Murray*
  10. Liam Neeson
  11. Gary Oldman
  12. Brad Pitt
  13. Mickey Rourke
  14. Paul Rudd
  15. Mark Ruffalo*
  16. Peter Sarsgaard*
  17. Paul Schneider
  18. Tom Wilkinson*
  19. Bruce Willis*
  20. Ray Winstone


I want to be clear that Jeff Bridges is not on this list because I was pretty confident he was going to win last year and so he didn’t need to be included.  Had he lost last year he would have been included in this posted list at the expense of someone else, like Paul Rudd. 

I also know that there are a ton of deserving ones left off this list, but this wasn’t a thoroughly thought out process.  It was mainly my ‘spur of the moment’ need to list something.  I am happy with it though, since I love everyone listed and think they are all deserving of the gold eventually.  I put asterisks next to the top ten for me in each category.

And no, Natalie Portman is NOT on the list and I still stand by that, despite the fact that I have on occasion adored her.

And Johnny Depp is gross...

Weekend Withdrawals!

Good lord, I try and I try to keep my weekends separate from, well, my weekdays, but I have a feeling that this blog is going to put an end to all of that.  While I continually strive to make my weekends 'internet free', so that I have more time for the wife and kids, I found that this weekend I was aching to BLOG BLOG BLOG!  Now I'm stuck with a million and one ideas for posts I need to crack down and write and I can't decide, for the life of me, which one I want to go with first.  UGH...just UGH!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The BAFTA Longlist is Here!!!!

This is probably going to be a work in progress, since I need to to react to these nominations before I post any comments; but here is the list for now...

Best Film
127 Hours
Another Year
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
Made In Dagenham
Shutter Island
The Social Network
The Town
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Right off I'm kind of baffled by the lack of 'Brighton Rock', 'The Ghost Writer' and 'Never Let Me Go' here.  I really thought that those films would score high here, but this list looks awfully conventional for BAFTA.  I mean, you basically have Oscar's top ten here as well, and that just seems wrong to me. 

Predicted Nominees:

Another Year
Black Swan
Inception
The King's Speech
The Social Network

Director
Danny Boyle/127 Hours *
Tim Burton/Alice In Wonderland
Mike Leigh/Another Year
Darren Aranofsky/Black Swan *
David O. Russell/The Fighter
Niels Arden Oplev/The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Christopher Nolan/Inception *
Lisa Cholodenko/The Kids Are All Right
Tom Hooper/The King’s Speech *
Nigel Cole/Made In Dagenham
Martin Scorsese/Shutter Island
David Fincher/The Social Network *
Ben Affleck/The Town
Lee Unkrich/Toy Story 3
The Coen Brothers/True Grit

Two things kind of blow my mind here; the lack of Roman Polanski and the inclusion of Tim Burton.  I mean, WTF, seriously?  Looking over the Best Picture longlist, one could say that 'The Ghost Writer' isn't up there so Polanski had no chance, but neither was 'Alice in Wonderland' and yet they nominated TIM BURTON!!!  That's just kind of disgusting.  Looks like Oscar's shortlist is here as well (unless Granik surprises) so I'm kind of assuming that that is the lineup we'll get here as well.

Predicted Nominees:

Aranofsky
Fincher
Hooper
Nolan
O. Russell

Adapted Screenplay
127 Hours *
Alice In Wonderland
Barney’s Version
Brighton Rock
Despicable Me
The Ghost
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Never Let Me Go
Rabbit Hole
Shutter Island
The Social Network *
The Town
Toy Story 3 *
True Grit *
Winter’s Bone *

Now this is a nice collective list, although the it's most likely that the nominees will consist of the major Oscar players.  Still, it's nice to see 'The Ghost Writer' (known in these parts as 'The Ghost'), 'Shutter Island' and 'Never Let Me Go' up for attention.  I kind of suspect that 'True Grit' will miss here, but I could be totally wrong.  It got a 'top five' mention in their first round of voting, but now that the voting field is expanded I can see another film getting a bigger push.  Even '127 Hours' is vulnerable; while I see EASY nominations for 'Winter's Bone', 'Toy Story 3' and 'The Social Network'.

Predicted Nominees:

The Ghost (Writer)
Shutter Island
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
Winter's Bone

Original Screenplay
Another Year
Biutiful
Black Swan *
Blue Valentine
The Disappearance Of Alice Creed
The Fighter *
Four Lions
Get Low
Hereafter
I Am Love
Inception *
The Kids Are All Right *
The King’s Speech *
Made In Dagenham
Of Gods and Men

Some nice mentions here, more obscure than I expected (especially after seeing their longlist for Best Picture).  It looks like Oscar's eventual shortlist got the bulk of the votes this last go around, but I suspect a few changes.  I think this will be an easy nomination for Mike Leigh.

Predicted Nominees:

Another Year
Black Swan
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech

Make Up & Hair 
127 Hours
Alice In Wonderland *
Black Swan *
Brighton Rock
The Fighter
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 *
I Am Love
Inception
The King’s Speech *
Made In Dagenham *
Never Let Me Go
Shutter Island
The Social Network
True Grit

I'm just really glad that 'I Am Love' is up here, since that was like the one thing I remember most (outside of the brilliance that is Tilda Swinton).  I don't think it'll get the nomination, but it's nice that it was recognized here.  I don't know how many nominees this branch alots for, but Oscar is only three, so that is what i'm predicting.

Predicted Nominees:

Alice in Wonderland
Black Swan
The King's Speech

Editing  
127 Hours *
Alice In Wonderland
Black Swan *
The Fighter
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1
Inception *
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech *
Made In Dagenham
Shutter Island
The Social Network *
The Town
Toy Story 3
True Grit

This category usually swoons all over the eventual Best Picture nominees, unless you're editing is so amazing but your film is not 'Best Picture' worthy (or at least not the usual criteria).  The obvious shoe-ins are Oscar big boys 'Inception', 'Black Swan' and 'The Social Network', and there is no way 'The King's Speech' won't score here.  It's just that pesky fifth spot.

Predicted Nominees:

Black Swan
Inception
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Special Visual Effects       
127 Hours
Alice In Wonderland *
Black Swan
Chronicles Of Narnia: Voyage Of The Dawn Treader
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 *
Hereafter
How To Train Your Dragon
Inception *
Iron Man 2 *
Kick-Ass
The King’s Speech
Monsters
Shutter Island
Toy Story 3
Tron Legacy *

I want to puke all over the eventual nomination for 'Alice in Wonderland'.  I mean, it's just so...messy.  I guess messy automatically garners you a nomination here.  With Oscar expanding their nominees to five this year, I'm doing the same here; but they may go with three in the end.  Also, what is 'The King's Speech' doing here?

Predicted Nominees:

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Pt. 1
Inception
Monsters
Tron Legacy

Sound   
127 Hours *
Alice In Wonderland
Black Swan *
Brighton Rock
The Fighter
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1
Inception *
The King’s Speech *
Made In Dagenham
Shutter Island
The Social Network
The Town
Toy Story 3 *
True Grit *

Predicted Nominees:

Alice in Wonderland
Black Swan
Inception
The Social Network
True Grit

Costume Design
Alice In Wonderland *
Black Swan *
Brighton Rock
Chronicles Of Narnia: Voyage Of The Dawn Treader
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1
I Am Love
Inception
Kick-Ass
The King’s Speech *
Made In Dagenham *
Never Let Me Go
Shutter Island
The Social Network
True Grit *

Predicted Nominees:

Alice in Wonderland
Black Swan
The King's Speech
Made in Dagenham
True Grit

Production Design            
127 Hours
Alice In Wonderland *
Black Swan *
Brighton Rock
The Fighter
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 *
I Am Love
Inception *
The King’s Speech *
Made In Dagenham
Never Let Me Go
Shutter Island *
The Social Network
True Grit *

Again with the whole 'more is more' thing and that 'Alice in Wonderland' nomination.  That movie, and the disgusting awards reception it has received, has just irritated me to no end.

Predicted Nominees:

Alice in Wonderland
Black Swan
Inception
The King's Speech
Shutter Island



Cinematography
127 Hours
Alice In Wonderland
Black Swan *
The Fighter
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1
I Am Love
Inception *
The King’s Speech *
Never Let Me Go
Shutter Island *
The Social Network
The Town
True Grit *
Winter’s Bone

Predicted Nominees:

Black Swan
Inception
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Original Music
127 Hours
Alice In Wonderland *
Biutiful
Brighton Rock
Despicable Me
The Ghost
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1
How To Train Your Dragon *
Inception *
The King’s Speech *
Made In Dagenham
Never Let Me Go
The Social Network *
The Town

Predicted Nominees:

How To Train Your Dragon
Inception
The King's Speech
Never Let Me Go
The Social Network

Animated Film
Chico & Rita
Despicable Me *
How To Train Your Dragon *
Illusionist, The
Toy Story 3 *
Predicted Nominees:

Despicable Me
How To Train Your Dragon
Toy Story 3

Supporting Actress           
Amy Adams (Charlene Fleming) – The Fighter *
Barbara Hershey (Erica Sayers / The Queen) – Black Swan *
Ellen Page (Ariadne) – Inception
Geraldine James (Connie) – Made In Dagenham
Helena Bonham Carter (Queen Elizabeth) – The King’s Speech *
Helena Bonham Carter (Red Queen) – Alice In Wonderland
Lesley Manville (Mary) – Another Year *
Marion Cotillard (Mal) – Inception
Melissa Leo (Alice Ward) – The Fighter
Mila Kunis (Lily / The Black Swan) – Black Swan
Miranda Richardson (Barbara Castle) – Made In Dagenham *
Olivia Williams (Ruth Lang) – The Ghost
Rebecca Hall (Claire Keesey) – The Town
Rosamund Pike (Lisa Hopkins) – Made In Dagenham
Winona Ryder (Beth Macintyre / The Dying Swan) – Black Swan

'Black Swan' is all over the place here (I mean, Winona Ryder???), but it's really cool to see Olivia Williams show up here (but where was Brosnan?!?!).  I hope she makes the eventual shortlist, and the word of mouth about her performance is certainly spreading, so she might.  Oh, and Manville is in supporting now?  Why couldn't this have been more clear all year?  Anyways, she's most likely going to get in, so I assume that 'Black Swan' may get nothing here (although that Kunis nomination seems likely).

Predicted Nominees:

Adams/The Fighter
Bonham Carter/The King's Speech
Manville/Another Year
Richardson/Made in Dagenham
Williams/The Ghost (Writer)


Leading Actor    
Aaron Eckhart (Howie) – Rabbit Hole
Ben Affleck (Doug MacRay) – The Town
Colin Firth (King George VI) – The King’s Speech *
James Franco (Aron Ralston) – 127 Hours *
Javier Bardem (Uxbal) – Biutiful *
Jeff Bridges (Marshal Reuben J Cogburn) – True Grit *
Jesse Eisenberg (Mark Zuckerberg) – The Social Network *
Jim Broadbent (Tom) – Another Year
Johnny Depp (Mad Hatter) – Alice In Wonderland
Leonardo DiCaprio (Cobb) – Inception
Leonardo DiCaprio (Teddy Daniels) – Shutter Island
Mark Wahlberg (Micky Ward) – The Fighter
Paul Giamatti (Barney Panofsky) – Barney’s Version
Robert Duvall (Felix Bush) – Get Low
Ryan Gosling (Dean) – Blue Valentine

I think it's kind of gross that Depp is here, but yay for Leo being recognized (and twice at that) and I'm really happy for Gosling too!!!  From what the first round would have you suspect, it looks like Bardem, Bridges, Eisenberg, Firth and Franco are our top five, but I don't see that completely translating.  I have unwavering faith in Gosling making it in, and I refuse to let go of that notion (he IS getting that Oscar nomination)!

Predicted Nominees:

DiCaprio/Shutter Island
Eisenberg/The Social Network
Firth/The King's Speech
Franco/127 Hours
Gosling/Blue Valentine

Leading Actress
Andrea Riseborough (Rose) – Brighton Rock
Annette Bening (Nic) – The Kids Are All Right *
Carey Mulligan (Kathy) – Never Let Me Go *
Gemma Arterton (Alice) – The Disappearance Of Alice Creed
Gemma Arterton (Tamara Drewe) – Tamara Drewe
Hailee Steinfeld (Mattie Ross) – True Grit
Jennifer Lawrence (Ree) – Winter’s Bone
Julianne Moore (Jules) – The Kids Are All Right *
Michelle Williams (Cindy) – Blue Valentine *
Natalie Portman (Nina Sayers / The Swan Queen) – Black Swan *
Nicole Kidman (Becca) – Rabbit Hole
Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander) – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Rosamund Pike (Miriam Grant-Panofsky) – Barney’s Version
Sally Hawkins (Rita O’Grady) – Made In Dagenham
Tilda Swinton (Emma Recchi) – I Am Love

I find it hilarious that last years Oscar winner, who was eligible for the BAFTA this year, is not even on the longlist (that's a major BOO on you Academy for choosing the WRONG girl).  I'm happy to see Gemma Arterton up twice, even though I've seen neither of her films (but she is so going to be a star) and I'm really, REALLY happy that Moore is in the top five for the first vote.  I predicted early on that she would make it in, and this looks promising.  I also see no way that Mulligan, Portman or Bening is missing out...so who for number five?  I'm hoping the first round represents the consensus here because I want Williams nominated!  It doesn't always pan out that way (poor Abbie Cornish), but I'm crossing my fingers for this year.

Predicted Nominees:

Benning/The Kids Are All Right
Moore/The Kids Are All Right
Mulligan/Never Let Me Go
Portman/Black Swan
Williams/Blue Valentine


Supporting Actor               
Andrew Garfield (Eduardo Saverin) – The Social Network *
Andrew Garfield (Tommy) – Never Let Me Go
Ben Kingsley (Dr Cawley) – Shutter Island
Bill Murray (Frank Quinn) – Get Low
Bob Hoskins (Albert) – Made In Dagenham*
Christian Bale (Dicky Eklund) – The Fighter *
Dustin Hoffman (Izzy Panofsky) – Barney’s Version
Geoffrey Rush (Lionel Logue) – The King’s Speech *
Guy Pearce (King Edward VIII) – The King’s Speech
Jeremy Renner (James Coughlin) – The Town
Justin Timberlake (Sean Parker) – The Social Network
Mark Ruffalo (Paul) – The Kids Are All Right *
Matt Damon (La Boeuf) – True Grit
Pete Postlethwaite (Fergus ‘Fergie’ Colm) – The Town
Vincent Cassel (Thomas Leroy / The Gentleman) – Black Swan

With the year that Garfield is having, I wouldn't be surprised if he showed up twice on their final ballot.  Lord knows he deserves it!  Outside of that, there are some interesting mentions here.  I think it's safe to assume that Postlethwaite's mention was due to his recent passing, but then again, I'm not sure when ballots were due in so that assumtion could be way off.  They really gobbled up 'Black Swan', as is more evident in the Supporting Actress category.  Still, I think this will be tilted towards Oscar's taste in the end.

Predicted Nominees:

Bale/The Fighter
Garfield/Never Let Me Go
Garfield/The Social Network
Ruffalo/The Kids Are All Right
Rush/The King's Speech