Friday, October 31, 2014

134 Docs will compete for Oscar's attention...


The official list has been released for the films in contention for the Documentary Oscar this year.  134 films, to be exact!  This gives us all a list of docs to keep an eye out for and add to our Netflix queue.  Every year I tell myself that I want to really dig into this category, and last year I actually did a pretty decent job of getting at least a handful in before Oscar's big night (and one of them even wound up in my personal Best Picture ballot).  Let's see how we fare this year.

Here's the list:

Twice a Best Actress Bloggers Roundtable: Hilary Swank


It's Friday, and that means it is time for another episode of Twice a Best Actress!  This week is all about Hilary Swank, which is kind of interesting because she is such a polarizing and controversial presence in film.  Her Oscar wins are met with so much disdain by many because of circumstances surrounding them, but we are here to judge the actual performances and not the races or the actress as a whole.

Oh, this is fun!

And, here is our esteemed panel of awesomeness:

Andrew from The Films the Thing
Drew from A Fistful of Films
Sati from Cinematic Corner

Thursday, October 30, 2014

How many of you have seen an Orson Welles film in the theaters?

You get that last laugh, Orson!

Well, now we all can!  I have to say, there really has been no greater cinematic news in the history of modern day cinematic news that this news right here.  The long lost FINAL film from the GOD that was Orson Welles is finally getting released after years of power trips, disagreements, struggles and desperate pleadings.  Filmed back in the 70's with a cast that included John Huston, Dennis Hopper and Peter Bogdanovich, The Other Side of the Wind looks like a semi-autobiographical story of a temperamental director struggling to put his true vision on the big screen.  In development hell for, what, nearly four decades, this is a film that many thought would never see the light of day.  With so many hands in the pot, fighting over rights and refusing to meet in the middle, cinephiles the world around wept over the fact that they may never get the chance to bask in Welles' glory once again.

Well, next year we bask, because it looks like terms were met, contracts were signed, and The Other Side of the Wind is being completed for a special screening on May 6, 2015 (to coincide with Welles' 100th birthday).

I have chills.  

I HAVE CHILLS!

The only thing that could make this any better than it already is would be if Orson Welles were to somehow win his long (LONG) overdue Directing Oscar next year for this.  Ha, a boy can dream, but seriously...we need to make this happen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

More 1998 Fisti Ballots!

I think this screenplay could win a Fisti, don't you?

Let's keep the discussion going with regards to 1998 and the Fisti Awards!  It's time for the screenplay ballots to go up.  You can see them here.  So, what do you think?  Oscar went with Gods & Monsters in Adapted and Shakespeare in Love in Original.  I nominate both, but only one wins (take a guess).  I only align with Oscar on five nominees, out of the ten slots.  What are your thoughts on my ballots?  Agree with my winners?  Who should have won?  Who did I snub?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Blind Spot Series 2014: Cat People


I'm really pushing it this month!  I don't know how things got away from me so much, and even though I saw this last week I've been mulling over how to review this and so now here I am at the day before the deadline scrambling to get it reviewed.

Yup, I'm talking about my Blind Spot for the month!

You can catch up on my previous reviews here, or you can scroll down and dig in to this month's review.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Twice a Best Actress Bloggers Roundtable: Jane Fonda


This week was amazing!  I couldn't have hoped for a better panel for this because the complete all over the place nature of these reviews and perceptions of performances was just so delicious!  Yup, it's another Friday, which means Twice a Best Actress is delving into yet another pair of Oscar wins, this time for Jane Fonda!  I don't even want to say anything more...just take a gander!

First, our panel:

Andrew from The Films the Thing
Drew from A Fistful of Films
Sati from Cinematic Corner

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ranking the 90's: Oscar's Best Picture Lineups


Alright, so Josh over at The Cinematic Spectacle posted a ranking of the Best Picture Lineups of the 90's, and I thought the idea was a great one, so I copied it.  Be flattered Josh!  Anyways, this was one of those instances where the outcome was not what I expected and I'm kind of baffled at how it happened.  I want to first explain how I went about this.  I started ranking every individual film, which got to be almost exhausting because giving everything an exact order can be hard and quite frankly it always fluctuates.  So then I decided to give each film a grade (I used the same grade system as we do for the Twice a Best Actor/Actress series), and then add the grades for the collective ballot together, giving us our overall ranking.  This gives me a chance to put aside personal preference and just grade each ballot as a whole, because really this is about the entire lineup and NOT individual films.

The result was NOT what I was expecting.

Like, I'm not sure how this happened; at all.

Gotham Award Nominations!


Awards Season is officially getting kicked off with the Gotham Award Nominations this morning!  Yes, these are kind of like the poor man's Spirit Awards, but this is the start of the season, and there have been many smaller films who have carved a successful Awards run, starting with their nominations here.  This is also the place where the beloved performances and films that don't have the legs to carry themselves all the way to Oscar can get some recognition.  So, while we can't learn a whole lot from these nominations, we can at least bask in some of their inspired choices.

Let's take a look:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fisti Awards Update (1998)

Richards and Campbell, waiting to hear their names on nomination morning...

So, I'm slowly getting the 1998 Fisti Awards done and ready for publication, but this may take a little while since I have some other obligations here and elsewhere.  So for now, let's talk about Best Picture, Director and Film Editing!  You can check them out here, but I've also included them below.  As you'll see, I went a little mainstream, MTV Awards here, fawning all over a certain film(s) that the average Oscar watcher/lover may find unworthy of a prestigious accolade, but these are the Fistis and we are not impartial!

So bring on the love for Wild Things!

Off the top of my head, Guy Ritchie's director nom is one of my favorites simply because I feel like he's not given the respect he deserves for what he achieved here.  His filmography as a whole may not be incredible or anything, and he may have resorted to creating nothing but Blockbuster fodder, but his beginnings were rich with real promise, and he started a movement with his stylistic approach to film-making that wasn't really seen in other directors at that time.

So, let's look at these noms:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A not so obvious gem…


I’m just going to be honest here; I was really anxious about seeing this.  Abortion is not a light subject.  It’s not really something I can get behind, at all.  In fact, when that Duggar girl was under fire a few weeks ago for likening abortion to the Holocaust, I was one of the ones who tweeted “she’s right”.  I am unapologetically pro-life and will always, ALWAYS be that way.  Now, I know that many will not find my viewpoint politically correct, but it’s my viewpoint so deal with it.

That being said, I’ve seen films on the subject before.  In fact, my favorite film (favorite being codename for ‘film I think is the best’ and not necessarily a film I would actually desire to be entertained with) of 2007 was the soul-wrecking ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’ which was, you guessed it, about abortion.  For me, that film and it’s detached approach and ambiguous ending made it such a remarkable study on the subject, no matter what side of the debate you are on.  But ‘Obvious Child’ was touted as that comedy about abortion, and quite frankly I don’t think abortion is funny, at all. 

I didn’t want to see this.

All that said, I kind of felt like I needed to see this movie.  The raves were pouring in, and it isn’t the first (and it won’t be the last) where I fight my seeming better judgment to see something that everyone else adores so that I can settle on my own opinion about it.  I’ll either be won over (on the film, not the position it takes) and have nice things to say about it, or I’ll have a nice new film to tear to shreds.

I loved this movie!

Staring into the void…


The trailer for ‘Ida’ had me hooked immediately.  The glassy cinematography, the sullen stares, the instant mood, the subtitles!  This looked like it was going to be right up my alley.  I prayed that it come to a theater near me, but that never happens.  The reviews started to pour in and Oscar buzz was made and every critic was salivating over the film like it was some truly remarkable character study.  The prose was so rich with purpose, so rich with promise.  Finally, I got my hands on this film and rushed to get it into my DVD player.

And then nothing happened.

No, the DVD worked and the movie played, but, like, nothing happened…at all.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Twice a Best Actress Bloggers Roundtable: Luise Rainer


So, we've reached a pretty special week here in Twice a Best Actress; the week of Luise Rainer, the very first actor period (in any category) to win two consecutive Oscars.  The cool thing about this one is that most on the panel had not seen these performances yet, so we were looking at these from VERY fresh eyes (you know, all of us except Fritz, who has seen practically everything!).  

Enough talking, let's get to discussing these two VERY different performances from an iconic actress.

Once again, our panel:

Andrew from The Films the Thing
Drew from A Fistful of Films
Sati from Cinematic Corner

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The 1971 Fisti Awards!

Getting all pretty for my trip to the Fistis...oh, snap...everyone ELSE was nominated!!!
Well, the Fisti Awards for 1971 are up!  The actual Oscar winner for Best Picture only gets two nominations from me (Film Editing and Sound), but whatever.  I've never truly fallen in line with Oscar before.  I went gaga for The Last Picture Show, and pretty much nominate the entire supporting cast.  They were all uniformly amazing.  Anyways, buzz on over, give them a gander and comment away!  I love reading your thoughts.  

1998 is next, so watch for that sooner than later (hopefully).

I've said it once (more like 100 times)...


...and I'll say it again; this is your Oscar Best Picture (and director/screenplay/cinematography/score and probably a slew of others) winner.  

The end.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Oscars found a host!


And it's Neil Patrick Harris!  Thoughts?  Personally, this could be a perfect fit.  He's a showman and he's got a reputation for being a great host.  That being said, this is a thankless job; we all know that, and so you have to be ON IT to walk away unscathed.  If they don't resort to shoving him into a slew of horribly conceived musical numbers, this could be fun.  I can't help but cringe, simply because of the gig and not the man, but I'm hopeful.

Perhaps ‘okay’ will be our ‘always’…


Leaving the parking-lot last night after picking up ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ from Redbox, my wife looks at me and says, “I don’t want to be depressed tonight”.  I understand the idea of not wanting to be depressed, but I just spent the money on a one day rental and you KNEW what movie we were getting so why are you telling me this now?  She says “I’m just warning you now, I may have to make fun of this movie to spare myself depression” and I shrugged and said “well, you know that Woodley forages for food and doesn’t wear deodorant and eats chalk or soap or rocks or something like that” and so I figured we were good; that we were safe.  Besides, my wife never cries.  The long running joke in our family is that I’m the wife since I’m the one who cries at every movie.  In fact, I refuse to sit next to my wife whenever we watch anything that has a reputation for making someone cry, because she’s always stone faced and ridicules me later for uncontrollable sobbing.

We got home, put kids to bed and settled into our respective places in the living room.  The movie started, the movie ended, and not a word was said by either of us throughout the entire film.  When it was over, my wife stood up, said “I don’t ever want to talk about that movie again” and walked upstairs to our bedroom.

She had reached her cinematic breaking point.

Alexander’s day may have sucked, but his movie didn’t!


I don’t get to the movies very often.  I have three kids, a wife who doesn’t share my love of cinema, and a lot of ‘in home’ responsibilities, and so when I do  get to the movies it is usually to see either a cartoon or some big budget blockbuster I was able to convince my wife I needed a ‘guy date’ for.  So far this year I’ve been to the movies eleven times (seriously, that’s it) and while I do enjoy some of the kids movies I take in, it would be nice if I could see a film for ME every once in a while.

So, my eldest daughter is trying to branch out into movies and television shows aimed more for her age group, and this has me anxious because I hate most of them.  She’s been watching those ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ movies and watching those awful Disney shows that pretty much paint adults as complete idiots and encourage obnoxious behavior.  I try and ban them from the house, but there is only so much ‘Dora’ I can force on her before she literally wants to punch me in the face.  She saw the preview for ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’ and begged and begged and then she got my youngest daughter to chime in with  “I’ve wanted to see it my whole life” and then my son stared at me and I knew he wanted to see it too and my wife said “let’s go to the movies” and there I was, sitting in a row of children slobbering over popcorn and anticipating Steve Carell getting kicked by a kangaroo while I was commiserating over my envy of the young couple I saw walking hand in hand into ‘Gone Girl’ at the other side of the theater.

I didn’t hate this.

A visual vampire odyssey, lost a bit in its own vision…


One of the most baffling developments in recent years is the complete obsession that the world in general has undergone with regards to vampires.  I remember when they popped up every now and again in some cult classic not many people even bothered to see.  Now, every movie has them.  Whole franchises are built around them.  Every director wants to play with them.  Teenagers want to look like them.  Tweens swear undying devotion to them. 

They make me sick.

In fact, there is no greater cinematic turn off to me than the presence of a vampire, for at this point I’m burnt out, and the funny thing is that I haven’t watched any of those ‘Twilight’ movies so I really have no reason to be burnt out.  I’m just sick and tired of hearing about them.

Despite all of that, I have to admit that ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ certainly intrigued me.  Tilda Swinton always peaks my interest, for her ability to float from quality project and interesting character to completely diverse yet equally interesting character in yet another quality project is just remarkable.  She gets it, and so whenever I see her name pop up on a marquee (do they even have those anymore?) I’m sold.

A.I.S.

A beautiful portrait of a beautiful woman…


So, after suffering through ‘Blended’ (alright, not truly suffering, but you get my drift) my wife decided that maybe she should give MY movie choice a try and so the other night (no, not last night, which belonged to a very different movie which I’ll be reviewing later) we sat down to watch ‘Belle’.  I didn’t really know a whole lot about this other than the fact that my good friend Ruth had talked this up on her blog when it first opened and she peaked my interest.

Tom Wilkinson having a prominent part was also a HUGE selling point.

For me, ‘Belle’ plays out pretty much like what would have happened had Jane Austen penned ‘Amistad’.  A social commentary on race relations, class designations, love, ideals and family, ‘Belle’ covers a lot of bases in a rather cohesive and eloquent manner that made for a beautifully composed film, one that felt honest and articulate.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I like your beard...


Yes, I just referenced a Ke$ha song, but I shamelessly love her and she did write that line about Zach Galifianakis, since she reportedly gets all hot and bothered around pudgy bears.  Anyways, what the hell happened?  I'm all for people getting fit or staying healthy, but some actors should realize that they LOOK GOOD HEAVIER!  Showing off his shocking body transformation at NYFF, Galifianakis doesn't even look like Galifianakis anymore!  Now, I hope he's happy, but ew.  I kind of hope he winds up getting fat again, ala Jonah Hill.

Thoughts?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jude Law is good, and his film is not...


Jude Law is one of those actors who continue to surprise me.  He’s one of the few actors who I feel is just as adept in comedy as he is in drama, an actor who drips charisma and sex appeal and yet has no problems playing it all down, repulsing an audience or engaging us for our sympathies and not our lusting.  He is a complete package, and his filmography and list of diverse performances speaks for itself.

Jerome Morrow, Dickie Greenleaf, Gigolo Joe, Inman, Brad Stand, John Watson, Alan Krumwiede, Karenin…the list goes on and on.

With the opening monologue to ‘Dom Hemingway’, it became apparent that this was going to be yet another one of those characters that would forever be associated with Law, and a character that would further prove his never ending bounty of talent.  Yes, Dom is unlike anything that Law has done before.  There are no similarities to previous performances, for Dom is a complete originality.  Sadly, the film can’t live up to the passion and bravado that Law brings to every minute of screen time.

Sometimes low expectations can benefit a viewing experience...


Some actor’s serve as their very own warning NOT to watch their movies.  Adam Sandler has become that face.  You see his face, hear his name, whiff the stench of his latest endeavor and you know already that you probably should walk far, far away.  The problem with Sandler is that he hasn’t grown up.  He’s still Billy Maddison or Happy Gilmore and the sad simple fact is that he’s not a young man anymore and when you’re pushing 50, fart jokes and gay humor just isn’t funny anymore; it’s embarrassing.

I have noticed something with regards to Sandler, though.  When he does a film with his buddies, it’s a disaster, but when he gets an actress to anchor his films, to temper his humor, they don’t wind up being the worst films I’ve seen all year.

‘Blended’ is not a good movie, but it’s not awful either.

Friday, October 10, 2014

2014 Oscar's Foreign Film Submissions!


The submissions are official, and the record has been broken!  A record 83 countries have been submitted for consideration, which makes this a whole lot of awesome to dig through.  Some of the obvious choices have been made, and it looks like there are some current frontrunners, but nothing is locked and loaded yet, and this category is notorious for WTF snubs, noms and wins.  So, take a gander and get your Netflix queue saved up, since most likely you will have to wait MONTHS (maybe, sadly, even years) to see most of these.

Twice a Best Actress Bloggers Roundtable: Sally Field


Her acceptance speech went down in history.  "You like me, you really like me!"  Sadly, for Field's second Oscar win, that has become the most memorable aspect.  In fact, it wasn't until doing this project that I even attempted to watch Places in the Heart, and the win (and film) itself is pretty much mostly forgotten.  

Why?

Well, you're about to find out.

Yup, for our third installment in Twice a Best Actress, we're talking about Sally Field!  I don't want to say too much as an intro other than, well, she's Sally and everyone should love her, but you're about to find out if we actually love her Oscar wins.

And here is our panel:

Andrew from The Films the Thing
Drew from A Fistful of Films
Sati from Cinematic Corner

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hollywood Music in Media Awards


Maybe this shouldn't count, but I'm getting antsy and really want to start predicting some actual awards here, so I'm going to make it count.  I just heard about these today, but apparently this is their fifth year, and they may give us an early look at how these Score and Song categories (which are always the hardest to peg down in advance) are going to pan out.  Granted, these look much like the guilds in that they allow for multiple genre categories, so they are pretty much spreading the wealth, but let's give these nominations a gander and see what it could mean for Oscar talk.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

No heaven for this sinner...


It's always sad when these things come out and your perception of someone or even an entire segment of your life is challenged and changed, but there is no ignoring that this is going to blow up and pretty much be everywhere very soon.  We all remember when the allegations towards Woody Allen sparked this debate with regards to his innocence or the separation of business and personal life, but there is no debate as to innocence here, as 7th Heaven star and all around respected actor Stephen Collins has outright admitted to child molestation.

I want to puke.

So, all of my gleeful memories of watching 7th Heaven with my family and absolutely loving the message it presented and pretty much falling in love with everyone involved is completely shattered.

Is it wrong that I really want him to come into close contact with Lisbeth Salander?

Monday, October 6, 2014

The lesser Bridges?


When you hear the name Bridges, who do you think of?  No doubt, you think of Oscar winner Jeff Bridges.  Jeff is, without question, one of the greatest actors of any generation, and his varied and sustained career have only proven his legend status.  He's been a staple in films for five decades and continues to take on challenging and diverse roles that keep us entertained and compelled to bow to his innate acting ability.  He's truly an actor who has grown within the bounds of cinema and has achieved a level of naturalism that many actors never truly achieve.  

But there is another Bridges, one who is often forgotten.

I'm talking about Beau.  It's funny to me how celebrity, fame and the whole nine hits.  There are many families who attempt to enter this game called show-business and it's funny to me how it all pans out.  The same genes, the same talent level even and then the cards fall and one if forgotten while the other is considered a legend and you walk away wondering why.  You find out that Jeff has a brother and that he acts and you think to yourself, really?  Why haven't I heard of him?  Well, you have and you've seen him around, but he doesn't carry the same impact or status as his brother.

In fact, much of Beau's later career has been relegated to television work, where he's been nominated for an Emmy 15 times and even won 3 times, but still, the average movie watcher probably has no idea who he is.

I was thinking this the other night while watching Norma Rae.  In the film, Beau portrays Norma's (played by Sally Field) husband Sonny.  It's a beautiful performance, one that really touched me and made me question why his career as a film actor never really panned out.  Despite having loads of natural talent, much like his brother, and the ability to convey such earthy and organic naturalism, he never really became a big star.  He's the older brother and got his career started first, but most of his resume is filled with TV movies, pilots, and guest spots on television shows, while his brother has been a cinematic staple and Oscar contender since his earliest years on film.

So, anyways, I was just pondering and thought I'd open it up.  There are quite a few examples of this very scenario.  The Quaid brothers are another great example.  Despite being the Oscar nominee of the two (for his breakout work in The Last Detail), Randy doesn't even half half the career his kid brother, Dennis, has had.  In fact, most people forget that Randy even exists until he pops up as the drunk in some tacky action movie.

What other examples can we think of?  Why do we think this happens?  Is it solely a charisma thing (Jeff and Dennis both have a natural charisma, off camera and in front of, that surpass their brothers) or is it just luck?  What do you think of these 'lesser' siblings?  Are they truly lesser?  Personally, I really wish that Beau had a more noteworthy career.  I nominate him for his work in Norma Rae and give him the win (a bit of a spoiler there) in 1989 for his astonishing work alongside his brother in The Fabulous Baker Boys.  It's a shame that the film world never fully embraced him.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Twice a Best Actress Bloggers Roundtable: Jodie Foster


Week two is here!  Are you as excited as I am?  I have been waiting all week to get into this one, and I'm already anticipating next week as well.  

Yup, this is Twice a Best Actress, where I'm accompanied by five amazing bloggers who have graciously devoted their time to watching and analyzing the actresses who  have been crowned Best Actress by Oscar two times (or more, in the case of a certain Hepburn).  Last Friday we discussed Kate the Great's first two Oscar wins, so if you haven't seen that discussion yet, check it out here.

So, this week we're talking about child star turned beloved adult actress, Jodie Foster.  This was an interesting discussion, mostly because the uniformity of the feelings towards this actress and these two particular performances is pretty much torn in half by a certain blogger (cough me cough).

But, before we dig in, meet our panel:

Andrew from The Films the Thing
Sati from Cinematic Corner

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Trailer Break: The Water Diviner


In case you don't know yet, Harvey Weinstein picked this up for US release next year, so be prepared for the year of the Cromeback!  I need this in my life....SO BAD!  This is Russell's directorial debut, and if you're unfamiliar with the story here, just know that it is extremely baity.  A father, in search of his sons lost during the Battle of Gallipoli, sets off on an incredible journey.  This looks glossy, emotional and visually spellbinding.  I'm bias, I know, but I can't wait for this.

Trailer Break: Black Sea


I know what I'm doing this January!  This looks incredible.  Law is rebounding rather well from his disappearing act towards the end of the last decade.  His recent output has been really inspired and varied.  I can't wait to see him pull this one off.  The atmosphere here looks remarkably well captured, and while the overall plot feels a tad 'done', it could really survive with the right direction and attention to performances.  It has a very 'Captain Phillips' tone, which is nice.  I'm really intrigued.  I'm also really surprised that this is getting dumped into a January time slot, which I guess should lessen my expectations, since that is usually a bad sign, but this trailer is cut to perfection and has me gasping for air, literally.

I'm sold; AIS!

October Oscar Predictions!


I'm late.  My determined insistence on having my predictions up on the 1st of every month is a day late.  I blame Disney.  I've been so out of the loop, trying desperately to get back into it, that I've had to play catch up and all of the ideas I had for actual predictions turned out to get tossed on their heads this past week.  So, not all of my ideas and or explanations for my predictions are fully formed (or even present) but here are my predictions for the month with my predicted winner, if things turn out as I have predicted.