Thursday, December 31, 2009

Online Film Critics Society Nominations


BEST PICTURE
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

BEST DIRECTOR
Kathryn Bigelow (-) The Hurt Locker
Neill Blomkamp (-) District 9
James Cameron (-) Avatar
Joel & Ethan Coen (-) A Serious Man
Quentin Tarantino (-) Inglourious Basterds

BEST ACTOR
Jeff Bridges (-) Crazy Heart
Sharlto Copley (-) District 9
George Clooney (-) Up in the Air
Joaquin Phoenix (-) Two Lovers
Jeremy Renner (-) The Hurt Locker

BEST ACTRESS
Mélanie Laurent (-) Inglourious Basterds
Carey Mulligan (-) An Education
Gabourey Sidibe (-) Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Meryl Streep (-) Julie & Julia
Tilda Swinton (-) Julia

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Peter Capaldi (-) In the Loop
Jackie Earle Haley (-) Watchmen
Woody Harrelson (-) The Messenger
Anthony Mackie (-) The Hurt Locker
Christoph Waltz (-) Inglourious Basterds

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Vera Farmiga (-) Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick (-) Up in the Air
Diane Kruger (-) Inglourious Basterds
Mo'Nique (-) Precious
Julianne Moore (-) A Single Man

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
(500) Days of Summer (-) Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
The Hurt Locker (-) Mark Boal
Inglourious Basterds (-) Quentin Tarantino
A Serious Man (-) Joel & Ethan Coen
Up (-) Bob Peterson

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
District 9 (-) Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell
Fantastic Mr. Fox (-) Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach
In the Loop (-) Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche
Up in the Air (-) Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner
Where the Wild Things Are (-) Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Anvil!: The Story of Anvil
The Beaches of Agnes
Capitalism: A Love Story
The Cove
Food, Inc.

BEST FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Broken Embraces
Police, Adjective
Silent Light
Summer Hours
The White Ribbon

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Coraline
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Ponyo
The Princess and the Frog
Up

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Avatar (-) Mauro Fiore
District 9 (-) Trent Opaloch
The Hurt Locker (-) Barry Ackroyd
Inglourious Basterds (-) Robert Richardson
A Serious Man (-) Roger Deakins

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Fantastic Mr. Fox (-) Alexandre Desplat
The Informant! (-) Marvin Hamlisch
Star Trek (-) Michael Giacchino
Up (-) Michael Giacchino
Where the Wild Things Are (-) Carter Burwell & Karen Orzolek

BEST EDITING
(500) Days of Summer (-) Alan Edward Bell
Avatar (-) Steve R. Moore, John Refoua & Stephen Rivkin
District 9 (-) Julian Clarke
The Hurt Locker (-) Chris Innis & Bob Murawski
Inglourious Basterds (-) Sally Menke

Oscar Meter: Up
- Picture: Up, A Serious Man
- Director: Joel and Ethan Coen, Neill Blomkamp
- Actor: George Clooney, Jeremy Renner
- Actress: Melanie Laurent, Carey Mulligan, Gabourey Sidibe, Meryl Streep
- Supporting Actor: Peter Capaldi (YAY!), Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson
- Supporting Actress: Julianne Moore, Diane Kruger
- Screenplay: In the Loop


Oscar Meter: Down
- All Categories: Nine, The Lovely Bones, The Last Station, Bright Star
- Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis (sorry bud, it's over), Colin Firth
- Actress: Helen Mirren, Sandra Bullock, Abbie Cornish (it's over for you too, m'lady)
- Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Alfred Molina, Stanley Tucci


Extra:
- The In the Loop love (minor as it is) is great to see.
- Tilda Swinton got nominated for Julia? Now THAT is fantastic to see.

"Broken Embraces (Los Abrazos Rotos)" - REVIEW


To call Broken Embraces, the latest from Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, one of his "lesser efforts," is actually to compliment the man and his career enormously. For if this film is to be considered among his lesser works, then it speaks volumes about how magnificent the best of his films can be (2006's sublime Volver). One of Almodovar's strengths is his ability to simply sit down and tell a story, and that's true as ever here is his latest blend of mystery, melodrama, and campy comedy (like the best of his work, the film is filled with moments of noir-ish darkness and side-splitting hilarity alike). As such, to give away too much of the plot would be criminal; what I'll say is that the film resolves around a writer/director (Lluis Homar) trying to decide what to do with his next film, while revisiting a very crucial moment from his past. Played out beautifully by the cast led by Homar, Blanca Portillo, and Penelope Cruz (who is actually a supporting character, albeit a major one), and under Almodovar's guiding hand as both director and writer, Broken Embraces is filled with mystery. And while she may be a supporting player, the film's best moments are when Cruz is on screen. She plays both of her roles (as wannabe actress and actress in a film within the film) wonderfully and looks ravishingly beautiful while doing it. If anything, if Cruz deserves to be nominated for a supporting role in a film about a troubled director, is should be this one. My only issue with the film is that the final act is a hair too long; it's not boring, but there are a few shots and fade outs where Almodovar seems to be setting up for a gentle fade-to-black, but keeps going. That said, when the film does actually end, it feels just right. As per usual, Almodovar's film is filled with beautifully composed images, without feeling overwrought or out of context, the editing remains as sharp as ever, and Alberto Iglesias' intriguing, lush score only heightens the atmosphere.

Grade: B+

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The year sci-fi struck back

The sci-fi genre, like any, has seen quite a few ups and downs. From the early, cheesy B-movies of the 40s and 50s, to the rise of the space opera in Star Wars, to the fusion with horror in the Alien quadrilogy starting in 1979. Now, 30 years later, at the end of the first decade of the 2000s, the film release gods aligned the stars for a spectacular slate of sci-fi films spread across 2009. There were also the Star Wars prequels and two Terminator sequels, which raked in the millions but weren't so satisfying to series fans on many levels. What the sci-fi genre needed was something different, something innovative, something willing to push the conventions of what sci-fi could accomplish as a genre. And thanks to four very different films, that's exactly what happened.

First was JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot, blasting off into theaters in mid-May, and taking in just over $250 million domestically. Add to that the hugely positive response from critics and audiences alike, Abrams reboot became more than just 2009's Iron Man 0f sorts. Boasting snappy editing, and young, fresh-faced cast (with best-in-show honors going to Zachary Quinto as Spock), slick special effects, and quite a few genuinely emotional moments amid the flashing lasers, the film stands as a great achievement not only because it breathed new life into a franchise long on life support, but was also totally accessible to those who have never seen an episode of "Star Trek" before. The humor wasn't always executed sharply, and the final act wasn't as thrilling due to a ho-hum villain, but overall this hip, modern, reboot of the classic franchise deserved every penny and rave it got. Even after seeing it three times, it's still a blast.

Bottom Line: The movie that showed us that not only is sci-fi cool again, but that in the right hands, any franchise can bounce back.

Then we have the midsummer psychological thriller Moon, starring Sam Rockwell. What makes this one different from all of the others? It's *gasp* totally an art house movie. Sci-fi has for decades now been associated the big, the flashy, and the expensive. So for Moon to rank as one of the year's best films, and star the most criminally overlooked performance of the year from Mr. Rockwell, is something special, even if it didn't light up the box office. Duncan Jones' debut feature is an elegant psychological thriller, starring Rockwell and, really, ONLY Rockwell (in dual roles, no less) as an astronaut on contract to oversee a mining station on the moon. In his two roles, Rockwell shines, never leaving the audience begging for something more. It's truly a one man show and Rockwell takes command of it, and the results are excellent. The film itself has a few problems, mostly from hinting at trying to take on something grander, but never actually going there. On the whole, however, Moon stands as a stellar achievement, bolstered by impressive debut direction and Clint Mansell's haunting score.

Bottom Line: The film that showed us that sci-fi could not only work in "art house" territory, but also be driven by performances instead of spectacle.

August isn't exactly the high point of the summer movie season, but along with Inglorious Basterds, August brought us a genuine sci-fi wonder: Neill Blompkamp's District 9. The best part of the film was its premise: aliens have landed on earth not as bringers of peace or destruction, but as lost refugees. Add to the fact that the mothership was stranded over Johannesburg, and not a traditional city like New York, and the parallel's to apartheid, and what you get is a non-stop thrill ride, centered around a surprising performance from unknown Sharlto Copely. Even more impressive is the seamless way in which the effects blend in with the environments, and this is in a film shot for only $30 million. The use of faux documentary and security tape footage throughout helps up the intrigue, and despite the villains being too easily swayed to doing nasty things, the overall result is a charge of energy packed with gritty thrills and a heart-wrenching story.

Bottom Line: The movie that showed us that there are still unique sci-fi ideas out there.

Last is Avatar, which I've already talked about in my review, and still need to see a second time to settle my thoughts on the screenplay and acting (the same is true for Nine). The true star, as I've said, are the special effects, and they are indeed special. The best part of Avatar is simply getting to experience the creatures and vistas all generated from nothing, and how real they feel. The myriad creatures that inhabit Cameron's world are impressive and there were even times when I wished the film had simply been nothing more than a full faux documentary about Pandora. Where Cameron's world comes alive is when the least is said; the epic battle, the soaring flight sequences are all evidence of this. Like a sci-fi equivalent of Moulin Rouge!, sometimes it's not the story you tell, but simply how you tell it, that can make it great.

Bottom Line: The movie that showed us what special effects were capable of, and that motion capture can actually look realistic.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Avatar" - REVIEW


James Cameron can sometimes take forever (case in point, this film right here) to make a movie, but more often than not, it's worthy it. Such is the case with Avatar, Cameron's sci-fi extravaganza that is more of an experience than a movie. Set in the year 2154, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) awakes from deep space slumber aboard an interstellar transport shuttle above Pandora, a moon of the much larger planet Polyphemus. The reason? His twin brother, a scientist participating in an important research effort, has been killed, and Jake has the exact same genome. Once on Pandora, he's introduced to two sides: the military/corporate side (headed by General Quaritch [Stephen Lang]) and the research side (headed by Grace Augustine [Sigourney Weaver]).

The real reason Jake is there, is to participate in the Avatar Program, in which humans plug themselves into the hybrid body of a human and a Na'Vi (the native humanoid population). After a mishap in his first run in his Avatar, Jake encounters Na'Vi princess (sort of) Neytiri (Zoe Saldana, who's having a great year in sci-fi after JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot). From here, the story isn't the most original in the book. Jake grows to know the Na'Vi after initial hostility, the humans' real interest rears its ugly head, conflict escalates, etc... So why does it work for the most part? Well, I'm not really sure, and I'm strongly considering running back to the theater to experience Avatar again, now that I'm over the initial shock of the spectacle. Whatever emotion is felt in Cameron's film seems to come from the sheer intensity of his vision, and not from his characters or performances, which are merely "nice". There seem to be long gaps between the more "cliched" scenes, just to allow Cameron's world to thrive. The romance that thrives between Jake and Neytiri feels like it's barely there, as opposed to Cameron's last monumental blockbuster, Titanic. And as long (yet well paced) as the film is there are a few blips when Cameron seems to cut corners, giving a bad sense of time, or leaving the proceedings feeling rushed. A scene when Jake and Augustine are arrested cuts from a shot of the pair in a cell to Trudy (Michelle Rodriguez) coming in to break them out. It just happens, and feels too sudden. The dialogue, while not cringe inducing like some have suggested, is mostly serviceable. Of course, the real star is the effects work. I saw the film in Real D 3D (not sure how it's different from regular 3D...) and it looked gorgeous. The images are bright, vibrant, and unbelievably sharp. The 3D is a subtle effect, simply giving greater distance between fore-and-background, which keeps it from feeling like a gimmick. Even without the 3D, the effects would still be jaw dropping. Unlike The Lord of the Rings, in which real people interacted with photorealistic creatures, here everything in the Na'Vi world (except the real humans) is built from the ground up using either green screen or motion capture, which is so mind-bogglingly detailed that it doesn't take long before you stop wondering about the images on screen and simply take them as real. This allows many sequences, namely those involving characters flying on Banshees, to really soar with the help of engaging photography and James Horner's big yet somewhat generic "epic" score.

So what does it all boil down to? I'm still scratching my head over it all. The spectacle is awe-inspiring and yet the other elements feel totally ordinary. In spite of how derivative it is, the film is still compelling and exciting, but I can't name a single moment that wowed me on an emotional level; the "wow"'s all come from the grandeur. So where does that leave me?

Grade: B+ (for now)

Monday, December 28, 2009

2nd "Inception" teaser



I'm very excited to see Nolan's first post-Dark-Knight project. This looks like a very fun, twisty ride a la Memento. My only gripe is the absolute lack of Cotillard in the trailer. But that's made up for by that shot of Paris folding in on itself and the brief glimpses of our villains: Ken Watanabe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

"Nine" - REVIEW


Disclaimer: I have never seen the Broadway musical "Nine," I have only seen the very first link in the chain, Federico Fellini's 1963 masterpiece 8 1/2. It's not that I intend to use that classic as a means to judge the hell out of Rob Marshall's film (now excuse me while I take a moment to glare daggers at the critics). But it is in certain areas, unavoidable.

Nine is in some ways a curious film. Though it's most definitely a return to form for Rob Marshall after that gorgeous-but-boring snooze called Memoirs of a Geisha, it's not quite the knockout that his 2002 Best Picture winner Chicago was; maybe that's why Marshall chose to adapt a musical about a man dealing with creative struggle. Regardless, Nine is still a worthy film, albeit not the instant-wowzer that some of the other musicals of this decade have been. I hate to repeat the laziness of my Sherlock Holmes, but this is a film built upon its ensemble of women (plus director, of course). So who do we start with? Hmmm, let's try...

The Wife: Well, the one thing the reviews have nailed is that Marion Cotillard is the best-in-show knockout of the cast. As Guido's long-suffering wife, Cotillard nails both of her songs (one of which is new), as well as her non-singing moments. The pain, the love, and most riveting of all, the hidden fury, are remarkable to watch. If there's anyone who comes close to echoing her role in 8 1/2, it's Cotillard (Anouk Aimee played the wife in Fellini's film), with her finest moment of course being the screen test scene. Cotillard is truly the heart of the film. Now if only Mr. Weinstein would switch her campaign to supporting actress, she might have a better chance.

The Mistress: Slightly downsized from 8 1/2, Penelope Cruz is enormously entertaining, though the role would have benefitted from another scene or two. That said, her rendition of "A Call from the Vatican" is sexy as hell, and she nails both the goofiness of Carla as well as her desperation when Guido grows apart from her.

The Confidant: Dame Judi Dench probably could have done this role in her sleep, which is why we should be thankful that she decides to really put some effort into the role. As Guido's costume designer and no-nonsense adviser, she's not afraid to tell Guido to cut the crap and man-up. But what's really a surprise is her rendition of "Folies Bergere," which starts slow and builds to quite the finish. She also has a key scene with Day-Lewis near the film's end, which adds a degree of heart to the film, just barely balancing the scale between feeling and flash.

The Muse: If there's one role that feels expanded in Marshall's film, it's that of the Guido's muse and favorite actress, Claudia Jennsen (Kidman). Though the role was played by Claudia Cardinale in Fellini's film, Kidman is made to look more like an homage to Anita Eckberg in Fellini's other masterpiece, La Dolce Vita. Regardless, the film gives Kidman more to do as Claudia than Cardinale ever got to do in 8 1/2. Her conversation with him about her role on film and in his life, intercut with Kidman's lovely rendition of "Unusual Way," is another one of those moments keeping the film from being a series of music videos. (Note: Claudia in this film is supposed to be Swedish, which is why Kidman does not even try to have an Italian accent)

The Mother: Making more appearances that I anticipated, Sophia Loren's role is not difficult, but the use of her song is a gentle touch, and her presence is undiminished after all of these years.

The Whore: Fergie's role in the film boils down to an odd split between "role" and "song." To be clear, this isn't an acting role, even in the flashbacks, but my issue with what Marshall shows us is that Saraghina seems too tame. The reason the original character is so memorable is her zany, slightly carnal, slightly deranged, outrageousness. That said, her rendition of "Be Italian" is a knockout, even though I wish the extended audio track (with the same amount of singing but with more music/choreography) had been used.

The Journalist: While Judi Dench's role may not have been in Fellini's film, it was in the stage show. That's not the case with Kate Hudson. Stephanie, an American Vogue journalist obsessed with Guido's films (or maybe just Guido himself) is a totally new character, and at times you can feel it. Stephanie needs more scenes, or at least slightly longer ones, because after her song, her story arc just ends. Like that. No parting words, nothing. She's done. It's a weird moment because her song is extremely lively and Hudson is having a blast. It's a shame the role couldn't have been written to feel less superfluous.

But in the end, these women, ALL of them, are but supporting players. They all revolve around our one and only...

Guido: If there's anyone who's received undeserved flack for this film, it's Day-Lewis. No, he's not the effortless charmer that Marcello Mastroianni was, but why should he be? Yes the role is a shade darker, but to call this new Guido a thoroughly unlikeable misogynist is totally over the top. He's certainly not a perfect individual (and never was), but a despicable character? That's a joke. Of course, Day-Lewis nails the role, although it isn't as typically compelling as his other performances, seeing as the role is meant to be more of a vessel for the director. There's an odd combination of empty vessel and detailing (thanks to Day-Lewis) at play here, which makes for a strange, though ultimately satisfying ending to this film without a traditionally satisfying plot. And besides, the finale is absolutely perfect, which creates a beautiful homage to the end of 8 1/2: a fusion of the artistic and personal, the real and the fantastic. Not the best musical of the decade, but far FAR from the worst.

Grade: B

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Sherlock Holmes" - REVIEW


It's official: Robert Downey Jr. can now add a second franchise to his resurrected career, and luckily, it's a good one. Add in the fact that Iron Man 2 opens a tad less than five months from now, and it's hard to see Downey Jr. slowing down any time soon, which is hardly a bad thing. He's found a new semi-tongue-in-cheek niche that suits him well, especially in his latest cinematic outing, Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, a reinvention of the classic sleuth that is both more faithful to the character designs of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original, with an added, action-oriented twist. Holmes is no longer a perfect, clean, faultless genius, but a bit of a careless eccentric. He's still brilliant, but there are others too. I'm a bit scatterbrained at the moment, so I figure this will work best if I just list a few points to talk about. Hmmm...point number 1...

#1. Holmes and Watson: Downey Jr. is very fun as Holmes, but the real surprise here is the film's (and Jude Law's) treatment of Watson. In prior cinematic versions Watson is reduced to being a sidekick, and nothing more than a foil for the almost irritatingly brilliant Holmes. That's certainly not the case here. Watson is quite an impressive character and more than holds his own in both intelligence and combat (it is revealed early on that he served in the military). In fact, by making Watson a more impressive equal to Holmes, the Holmes character becomes even more bearable and much more fun.

#2. The supporting players: Sadly, the supporting players don't fare as well, for several reasons. Easily the best is Mark Strong as the film's villain, Lord Blackwood, who appears to have risen from the grave. There's also Happy-Go-Lucky's Eddie Marsan, who has a few nice moments but on the whole is terribly underused. Last is Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, Holmes' love interest of sorts. Unfortunately, McAdams feels somewhat miscast, and her delivery feels too light to compete; the role already needed to be fleshed out a hint more, but the simple change to a slightly older actress (maybe Downey Jr.'s Iron Man co-star Gwyneth Paltrow??) would have been a better romantic interest/rival.

#3. The mystery/story: Though it could probably be cut down by 10 minutes, the story is engaging and does evoke genuine suspense as it builds towards its finale, even if the denouement prattles on a bit.

#4. The action: Surprisingly, not really a bad thing. Instead of throwing in the action angle lazily, there are several moments in which we see Holmes methodically running through the process of taking down his opponent in his head, showing him to be a thinking fighter, and not a blunt bruiser.

#5. The other stuff (artistic/techs): It all looks great, though the camera work during the earlier fights could afford to be a bit clearer. Best out of everything is Hans Zimmer's lively score.

One last thought: The film has many similarities to Batman Begins: re-imagining of a classic character, somewhat generic love interest and villain, and an obvious hint at much grander events in the sequel (a very special Holmes villain is set up for throughout the whole film).

Grade: B

Friday, December 25, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

St. Louis Film Critics Winners



Best Film
(500) Days of Summer
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Invictus
Precious
Up
* Up in the Air

Best Foreign-Language Film
The Baader-Meinhof Complex
Coco Before Chanel
The Maid
* Red Cliff
Sin Nombre
Treeless Mountain

Best Documentary
Anvil: The Story of Anvil
* Capitalism: A Love Story
Food, Inc.
Good Hair
Tyson

Best Animated Film
Coraline
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Ponyo
The Princess and the Frog
* Up

Best Director
Wes Anderson – Fantastic Mr. Fox
* Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker
Oren Moverman – The Messenger
Jason Reitman – Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart
* George Clooney – Up in the Air
Ben Foster – The Messenger
Morgan Freeman – Invictus
Patton Oswald – Big Fan
Jeremy Renner – The Hurt Locker

Best Actress
* Carey Mulligan – An Education
Saoirse Ronan – The Lovely Bones
Maya Rudolph – Away We Go
Gabourey Sidibe – Precious
Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall – The Road
Woody Harrelson – The Messenger
Alfred Molina – An Education
Stanley Tucci – The Lovely Bones
* Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress
Marion Cotillard – Nine
Vera Farmiga – Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick – Up in the Air
Melanie Laurent – Inglourious Basterds
* Mo’Nique – Precious
Samantha Morton – The Messenger

Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted)
* (500) Days of Summer – Scott Neustadlter/Michael H. Weber
An Education – Nick Hornby
The Hurt Locker – Mark Boal
Inglourious Basterds – Quentin Tarantino
Up in the Air – Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Best Cinematography
The Hurt Locker – Barry Ackroyd
Inglourious Basterds – Robert Richardson
* Nine – Dion Beebe
Red Cliff – Yue Lü and Li Zhang
A Single Man – Eduard Grau
Where the Wild Things Are – Lance Acord

Best Music
Crazy Heart
* Nine
Pirate Radio
The Princess and the Frog
Up

Best Visual Effects
* Avatar
District 9
The Lovely Bones
Star Trek
Where the Wild Things Are

Best Comedy
(500) Days of Summer
Away We Go
* The Hangover
Pirate Radio
Zombieland

Most Original, Innovative or Creative Film (“Most Artistic Film”)?
(500) Days of Summer
* Avatar
District 9
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Lovely Bones

Special Merit (“Favorite Scene”)
(500) Days of Summer – Expectations vs. reality splitscreen sequence
(500) Days of Summer – Morning after dance number
Inglourious Basterds – The opening farm house scene
Precious – Mo’Nique’s at social worker office scene
* Up – Opening marriage montage at beginning

Oscar Meter: Up
- Best Actor: George Clooney
- Best Picture: Up in the Air
- Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow
- Best Cinematography: Nine
- Best Animated Film: Up

Oscar Meter: Down
- Best Director: Jason Reitman

London Film Critics Nominees


FILM OF THE YEAR
Avatar
The Hurt Locker
A Prophet
The White Ribbon
Up in the Air

THE ATTENBOROUGH AWARD: BRITISH FILM OF THE YEAR
Bright Star
An Education
Fish Tank
In the Loop
Moon

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
The Class
Katyn
Let the Right One In
A Prophet

The White Ribbon
DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Jacques Audiard – A Prophet
Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker
James Cameron – Avatar
Michael Haneke – The White Ribbon
Jason Reitman – Up in the Air

BRITISH DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Andrea Arnold – Fish Tank
Armando Iannucci – In the Loop
Duncan Jones – Moon
Kevin Macdonald – State of Play
Sam Taylor-Wood – Nowhere Boy

ACTOR OF THE YEAR
Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart
George Clooney – Up in the Air
Tahar Rahim – A Prophet
Michael Stuhlbarg – A Serious Man
Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds

ACTRESS OF THE YEAR
Abbie Cornish – Bright Star
Vera Farmiga – Up in the Air
Mo’Nique – Precious
Carey Mulligan – An Education
Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia

(MORE)

BRITISH ACTOR OF THE YEAR
Peter Capaldi – In the Loop
Colin Firth – A Single Man
Tom Hardy – Bronson
Christian MacKay – Me and Orson Welles
Andy Serkis – Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

BRITISH ACTRESS OF THE YEAR
Emily Blunt – The Young Victoria
Helen Mirren – The Last Station
Carey Mulligan – An Education
Katie Jarvis – Fish Tank
Kristin Scott Thomas – Nowhere Boy

BRITISH ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Michael Fassbender* – Fish Tank
John Hurt – 44 Inch Chest
Jason Isaacs – Good
Alfred Molina – An Education
Timothy Spall – The Damned United

BRITISH ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Emily Blunt – Sunshine Cleaning
Anne-Marie Duff – Nowhere Boy
Rosamund Pike – An Education
Kierston Wareing – Fish Tank
Olivia Williams – An Education

SCREENWRITER OF THE YEAR
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche – In the Loop
Thomas Bidegain & Jacques Audiard – A Prophet
Joel & Ethan Coen – A Serious Man
Michael Haneke – The White Ribbon
Nick Hornby – An Education

THE NSPCC AWARD: YOUNG BRITISH PERFORMER OF THE YEAR
Katie Jarvis – Fish Tank
Aaron Johnson – Nowhere Boy and Dummy
George MacKay – The Boys Are Back
Bill Milner – Is Anybody There? and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
Saoirse Ronan* – The Lovely Bones

BREAKTHROUGH BRITISH FILM-MAKER
Daniel Barber – Harry Brown
Armando Ianucci – In the Loop
Duncan Jones – Moon
Peter Strickland – Katalin Varga
Sam Taylor-Wood – Nowhere Boy

DILYS POWELL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN CINEMA
Quentin Tarantino

30TH ANNIVERSARY AWARD: BEST OF OUR WINNERS SINCE 1980
1. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1980)
2. Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1994)
3. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2007)
4. Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992)
5. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
6. Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1990)
7. L.A. Confidential (Curtis Hanson, 1997)
8. Fargo (Joel Coen, 1996)
9. Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies, 1989)
10. The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1983)

Chicago Film Critics Winners


BEST PICTURE: The Hurt Locker

BEST DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow--The Hurt Locker

BEST ACTOR: Jeremy Renner--The Hurt Locker

BEST ACTRESS: Carey Mulligan--An Education

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz--Inglourious Basterds

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mo’nique--Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Mark Boal--The Hurt Locker

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner--Up in the Air

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM: The White Ribbon

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Up

BEST DOCUMENTARY: Anvil: The Story of Anvil

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Barry Ackroyd--The Hurt Locker

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Up--Michael Giacchino

MOST PROMISING PERFORMER: Carey Mulligan--An Education

MOST PROMISING FILMMAKER: Neill Blomkamp--District 9
Oscar Meter: Up
- Best Actor: Jeremy Renner
- Best Actress: Carey Mulligan
- Best Foreign Language Film: The White Ribbon
- Best Documentary: Anvil!

The Satellite Award Winners!

Motion Picture, Drama

* The Hurt Locker

Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

* Nine

Director

* Kathryn Bigelow — The Hurt Locker

Actress In A Motion Picture, Drama

* Shohreh Aghdashloo — The Stoning of Soraya M.

Actor In A Motion Picture, Drama

* Jeremy Renner — The Hurt Locker

Actress In A Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

* Meryl Streep — Julie & Julia

Actor In A Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

* Michael Stuhlbarg — A Serious Man

Actress In A Supporting Role

* Mo’nique — Precious

Actor In A Supporting Role

* Christoph Waltz — Inglourious Basterds

Motion Picture, Foreign Language Film

* The Maid Chile
* Broken Embraces Spain

Screenplay, Original

* Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber — (500) Days of Summer

Screenplay, Adapted

* Geoffrey Fletcher — Precious

Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media

* Fantastic Mr. Fox

Motion Picture, Documentary

* Every Little Step

Original Score

* Rolfe Kent Up in the Air

Original Song

* “The Weary Kind” — Crazy Heart

Cinematography

* Dion Beebe Nine

Visual Effects

* 2012

Film Editing

* The Hurt Locker

Sound (Mixing & Editing)

* 2012

Art Direction & Production Design

* A Single Man

Costume Design

* The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Reactions:
- How cool is it that Rolfe Kent's score actually won something? I forgot that he was even nominated.
- Is The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus even coming out in 2009 at all? It feels like it just disappeared.
- Apparently Nine is our love/hate awards contender of the year.
- Dear Mo'Nique and Christoph Waltz: start writing your acceptance speeches now.
- Hey Jeremy Renner, you know who's awesome? You are!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"Fantastic Mr. Fox" - REVIEW


The problem with having an adjective like "fantastic" in a movie title is obvious; it opens up a easy way for critics to make snarky comments about the film being ineptly named, yada yada yada. Unfortunately, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson's stop motion adaptation of the Roald Dahl book, though not terrible or even bad, is far from fantastic. While it's refreshing to see Anderson do something new, the film as a whole, though well made, is hard to be enthusiastic about. The story is fine, the voice talent superb, but it all feels so hollow. Too many characters with too many quirks weigh the story down and make for an irritating number of non-sequiturs that A) go nowhere and B) aren't terribly funny, or even amusing. Some of it works in a surreal sort of way, but as it goes on, the story starts to crack at the seams, and even an hour and 25 minutes starts to feel too long. Anderson apparently directed the film "from a distance," not actually being present for significant portions of the set-up or even filming of shots (to what degree I don't know) and it shows. The film has a strange disconnected feel to it, with odd changes in tone. The quirks that are meant to provide some form of laughter either fall flat or are too low-key to register, and since most of this comes from dialogue, it makes the characters hard to really feel for. But perhaps the moment that best sums up Anderson's film is the "wolf encounter" scene, which comes right the hell out of nowhere, serves no point despite being well made, well shot, and charmingly scored, and then is never mentioned again or given a moment to have any sort of impact (aka: a big lipped alligator moment). For all its little quirks, some of them generally amusing, there's too little that works for me to recommend it with genuine enthusiasm. You can rent it.

Grade: B-/C+

[Error Fixed] Some good (kind of) news: In the Loop actually eligible for the Oscars!

Thanks to Anonymous for setting the record straight.

A sigh of relief. Apparently IFC scheduled In the Loop's, Armando Iannucci's stellar satire, OnDemand release date at a day that allowed the film the be Oscar-eligible. The film certainly deserves to be recognized, though I'm not sure a last minute campaign will pop up anywhere. It's truly a shame that the studio apparently didn't (or maybe, "couldn't"?) start a campaign for the film, given its acclaim; Peter Capaldi would have had a strong shot at a supporting actor nomination. If Capaldi and the (adapted) screenplay could score nominations, I'd be absolutely ecstatic. If it doesn't happen I won't be surprised; right now I'm just hoping the BAFTAs nominate it.

Full list of films eligible for the Oscars

Houston Film Critics Winners


Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Best Actor: George Clooney, Up in the Air
Best Actress: Carey Mulligan, An Education
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress: Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Best Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
Best Animated Film: Up
Best Cinematography: Barry Ackroyd, The Hurt Locker
Best Documentary: The Cove
Best Foreign Film: Sin Nombre
Best Original Score: Michael Giacchino, Up
Best Original Song: Petey's Song by Jarvis Cocker, Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach, The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Outstanding Achievement Award: Margaret Stratton
Humanitarian of the Year Award: G.W. Bailey
Lifetime Achievement Award: Patrick Swayze

Oscar Meter: Up
- Best Actor: George Clooney
- Best Actress: Carey Mulligan
- Best Supporting Actress: Anna Kendrick

Oscar Meter: Down
- Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, Morgan Freeman

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Up in the Air" - REVIEW


My dry run of movie watching finally came to an end (after almost 3.5 weeks) with Jason Reitman's Up in the Air, and I couldn't have been more pleased. In only his third feature film, Reitman has matured tremendously as a director, writer, and stylist, and has cemented his place as one of the potentially great directors of his generation.

There really couldn't have been a better time for Up in the Air to strike an emotional chord. As the United States trudges through dour economic times, along comes a film that highlights that economic struggle, albeit in some unconventional ways. The film opens with a quick sequence of a group of people (among them The Hangover's Zach Galifianikis) being fired by the smooth talking George Clooney, er, Ryan Bingham. As it turns out, Bingham isn't the boss of any of these people, but rather, "a guy who corporate pussies hire out to fire their own employees." As Ryan narrates his basic routine and lifestyle (spending all but some 40-odd days flying) it's hard to not be impressed by the opening. The writing, pacing, and editing are snappy without being showy or overwritten (as was sometimes the case with Reitman's Juno) and when the film takes its first moment to slow down just a hint, I was hit with the realization that Reitman had already sucked me in; I needed to see where this story was going.

So where exactly does the film "go"? A few surprising places as it turns out. For one, the film, despite its subject matter, is rather light in tone until the last 20 minutes, and even then it never descends into gut-wrenching drama. Instead of grinding to an off-putting halt during the more serious moments, Reitman keeps the pace in forward motion, albeit a bit slower. Even when Natalie (Anna Kendrick, playing a young upstart at Bingham's company) collapses in tears in Ryan's arms, the moment is played off as an awkward comedic moment rather than an attempt to pull heartstrings. Such a decision, which could have been off-putting or annoying, actually feels natural and suits the general flow of the plot. Also aiding move things along are, as mentioned above, Reitman's growth as a stylist. The animated titled cards in Juno were just that. They weren't real footage, or didn't incorporate real footage; they were merely quirky, standstill transition effects. Here, given the great number of location changes, Reitman makes his transition move better (literally) by using birds eye view footage of the cities visited with their names briefly appearing on screen. It's a small touch, but an effective one that helps maintain a visual sense of forward momentum.

But of course we can't forget the performances, and there's certainly nothing forgettable about them. Again, given the surprising amount of levity present, my gut-reaction was to label them as generally light-weight turns, but that's not the case. Clooney's Bingham just barely escapes being overshadowed by Clooney's star-persona, because of the depth that Reitman and co-writer Sheldon Turner give him. It may seem easy enough to label him as a cynical prick from the get-go, but the more time he spends with Natalie, the more me learn about why he does what he does, and even see him change in a moment of emotional crisis. And then there are the two women, both of whom Clooney has excellent, albeit different, chemistry with. One of the film's best scenes (set in the Dallas airport lounge) comes when Ryan Flirts with Alex (Vera Farmiga), and the two sarcastically compare various status cards for travel programs/airlines. In less able hands the scene could have been unintentionally ridiculous, but Reitman is able to steer his stars in the right direction, finding the perfect balance between sarcasm and faux-sincerity. On the other end, there's Kendrick, who unlike Farmiga, probably wants nothing romantic to do with Ryan. Her philosophical clashes with Ryan, though not of the deepest nature, give the story an engaging tension as the two travel and work together. Kendrick's quick, sharp line delivery falls in beautiful contrast to Clooney's more relaxed "cool" tone. In this trio, Reitman has found perhaps his most subtle groups of primary characters to date.

On the technical and artistic level Up in the Air is also Reitman's strongest film. Cinematography is in some scenes lovely in a weird, natural way with nice gliding camera work and zooms. The big surprise here, though, is the effectiveness of Rolfe Kent's engaging score, something I never expected to find memorable about the film. It's just one of many little surprises in one of the best cinematic offerings of the year.

Grade: B+/A-

Detroit Film Critics Winners



Best Film: “Up”
Best Director: Pete Docter, “Up”
Best Actor: Colin Firth, “A Single Man”
Best Actress: Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, “Precious”
Best Ensemble: “The Hangover”
Best Breakthrough Performance: Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”

Oscar Meter: Up
- Best Actor: Colin Firth
- Best Picture: Up
- Best Actress: Gabourey Sidibe

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Houston Film Critics Nominees


BEST PICTURE
(500) Days of Summer
Avatar
District 9
Inglourious Basterds
Invictus
Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
Star Trek
The Hurt Locker
Up
Up in the Air

BEST DIRECTION OF A MOTION PICTURE
Clint Eastwood, Invictus
James Cameron, Avatar
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Lee Daniels, Precious
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Viggo Mortensen, The Road

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Abbie Cornish, Bright Star
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Saoirise Ronan, The Lovely Bones

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Zach Galifianakis, The Hangover

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo’Nique, Precious
Penelope Cruz, Nine
Samantha Morton, The Messenger
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air

BEST SCREENPLAY
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
Jesse Armstrong, In the Loop
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Coraline
9
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
Up

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Andrew Lesnie, The Lovely Bones
Barry Ackroyd, The Hurt Locker
Dion Beebe, Nine
Javier Aguirresarobe, The Road
Mauro Fiore and Vince Pace, Avatar

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Burma VJ
Capitalism: A Love Story
Every Little Step
Food, Inc
The Cove
Tyson

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
35 Shots of Rum
Broken Embraces
Cape No. 7
Red Cliff
Sin Nombre
Summer Hours
The Stoning of Soraya M

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Alexandre Desplat, The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Hans Zimmer, Sherlock Holmes
James Horner, Avatar
Marvin Hamlisch, The Informant
Michael Giacchino, Up

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Almost There by Randy Newman, The Princess and the Frog
Cinema Italiano by Maury Yeston, Nine
Colorblind by Daniel Po, Invictus
Depression Era by Patterson Hood, That Evening Sun
Petey’s Song by Jarvis Cocker, Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach, The Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Weary Kind by Ryan Bingham & T. Bone Burnett, Crazy Heart

Las Vegas Film Critics Awards


Best Picture
“The Hurt Locker”

Best Actor
Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker”

Best Actress
Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”

Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz, “Inglorious Basterds”

Best Supporting Actress
Monique, “Precious”

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”

Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted)
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
“500 Days of Summer”

Best Cinematography
Barry Ackroyd, “The Hurt Locker”

Best Film Editing
Bob Murawski, “The Hurt Locker”

Best Costume Design
Anna B. Sheppard, “Inglorious Basterds”

Best Art Direction
“Avatar”

Best Visual Effects
“Star Trek”

Best Documentary
“Anvil: The Story of Anvil”

Best Foreign Film
“Red Cliff” (China)

Best Song
“The Weary Kind” (Theme from “Crazy Heart)
Music and Lyrics by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Best Score
Michael Giacchino, “Star Trek”

Best Family Film
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”

Best Animated Film
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”

Youth in Film
“Saoirse Ronan, “The Lovely Bones”

Best DVD (Packaging, Design, and Content)
“The Wizard of Oz (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition)

The William Holden Lifetime Achievement Award
Roger Deakins

Oscar Meter: Up
- Best Actress: Gabourey Sidibe (finally a win!)
- Best Actor: Jeremy Renner (see above)
- Best Visual Effects: Star Trek (somewhere James Cameron is getting really pissed)

"Iron Man 2" trailer!



This looks like even more fun than its predecessor. With the "Iron Man" universe now set up, Jon Favreau and crew can really let loose with the good stuff, much like Christopher Nolan did with "The Dark Knight"...though I'm guessing this film won't be nearly as dark.

Screen Actors Guild Nominees (film only)!


Best Ensemble
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglorious Basterds
Nine
Precious


Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabby Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Diane Kruger, Inglorious Basterds
Mo'Nique, Precious

Oscar Meter: Up
- Best Picture: Nine, Precious, Inglourious Basterds, An Education
- Best Actor: Jeremy Renner
- Best Actress: Helen Mirren, Sandra Bullock, Gabourey Sidibe
- Best Supporting Actor: Matt Damon, Christopher Plummer
- Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz

Oscar Meter: Down
- Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Viggo Mortensen, Sam Rockwell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Michael Stuhlbarg (sorry guys, but it's about over)
- Best Actress: Marion Cotillard (this is what happens when you attempt category fraud, Mr. Weinstein!!), Saoirse Ronan
- Best Supporting Actor: Alfred Molina
- Best Supporting Actress: Julianne Moore, Samantha Morton

Extra:
- Diane Kruger!? They could have picked Melanie Laurent, and they picked Kruger!?
- On Nine: I can't judge it whether it deserves it or not (middling reviews or otherwise), but I'm not too surprised that SAG ate this one up.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Alice in Wonderland" theatrical trailer!



At this point, I'd see it just for Helena Bonham Carter, who looks wickedly over-the-top in the best sense. It's certainly cartoony looking, yet very pretty. And besides, aren't you curious to see what happens when Alice puts on silver armor, wields a sword, and dives into combat?

Toronto Critics Awards


Best Picture (tie) – Hunger and Inglourious Basterds

Best Foreign-Language Film – The White Ribbon

Best Documentary – The Cove

Best Animated Feature – Fantastic Mr. Fox

Best First Feature – Hunger directed by Steve McQueen

Best Director – Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Best Performance, Male – Nicolas Cage, Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans

Best Performance, Female – Carey Mulligan, An Education

Best Supporting Performance, Male – Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Performance, Female – Anna Kendrick, Up In The Air

Best Screenplay (tie) – Inglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino and Up In The Air by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Best Canadian Film nominees:
The Necessities Of Life by Benoit Pilon
Polytechnique by Denis Villeneuve
Pontypool by Bruce McDonald

Oscar Meter: Up
- Best Picture: Inglourious Basterds
- Best Actor: Nicholas Cage
- Best Actress: Carey Mulligan
- Best Supporting Actress: Anna Kendrick
- Best Foreign Language Film: The White Ribbon
- Best Animated Film: Fantastic Mr. Fox
- Best Documentary: The Cove

Oscar Meter: Down
- Best Picture: Avatar, Nine, The Last Station, The Lovely Bones
- Best Animated Film: Up

Chicago FIlm Critics Nominees


BEST PICTURE
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
Where the Wild Things Are

BEST DIRECTOR
Kathryn Bigelow (-) The Hurt Locker
Joel & Ethan Coen (-) A Serious Man
Spike Jonze (-) Where the Wild Things Are
Jason Reitman (-) Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino (-) Inglourious Basterds

BEST ACTOR
Jeff Bridges (-) Crazy Heart
George Clooney (-) Up in the Air
Matt Damon (-) The Informant!
Jeremy Renner (-) The Hurt Locker
Michael Stuhlbarg (-) A Serious Man

BEST ACTRESS
Abbie Cornish (-) Bright Star
Carey Mulligan (-) An Education
Maya Rudolph (-) Away We Go
Gabourey Sidibe (-) Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Meryl Streep (-) Julie & Julia

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Peter Capaldi (-) In the Loop
Woody Harrelson (-) The Messenger
Christian McKay (-) Me and Orson Welles
Stanley Tucci (-) The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz (-) Inglourious Basterds

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Vera Farmiga (-) Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick (-) Up in the Air
Mo’Nique (-) Precious
Julianne Moore (-) A Single Man
Natalie Portman (-) Brothers

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Away We Go (-) Dave Eggers & Vendela Vida
The Hurt Locker (-) Mark Boal
Inglourious Basterds (-) Quentin Tarantino
A Serious Man (-) Joel & Ethan Coen
Up (-) Bob Peterson

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
An Education (-) Nick Hornby
In the Loop (-) Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche
The Informant! (-) Scott Z. Burns
Up in the Air (-) Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner
Where the Wild Things Are (-) Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Anvil!: The True Story of Anvil
Capitalism: A Love Story
The Cove
Food, Inc.
Tyson

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
Broken Embraces
Red Cliff
Sin Nombre
Summer Hours
The White Ribbon

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Coraline
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Ponyo
The Princess and the Frog
Up

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Avatar (-) Mauro Fiore
Bright Star (-) Greig Fraser
The Hurt Locker (-) Barry Ackroyd
Inglourious Basterds (-) Robert Richardson
Where the Wild Things Are (-) Lance Acord

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Avatar (-) James Horner
Fantastic Mr. Fox (-) Alexandre Desplat
The Informant! (-) Marvin Hamlisch
Up (-) Michael Giacchino
Where the Wild Things Are (-) Carter Burwell & Karen Orzolek

MOST PROMISING PERFORMER
Sharlto Copley (-) District 9
Christian McKay (-) Me and Orson Welles
Carey Mulligan (-) An Education
Max Records (-) Where the Wild Things Are
Gabourey Sidibe (-) Precious

MOST PROMISING FILMMAKER
Neill Blomkamp (-) District 9
Scott Cooper (-) Crazy Heart
Cary Fukunaga (-) Sin Nombre
Duncan Jones (-) Moon
Marc Webb (-) (500) Days of Summer

Oscar Meter: Up
- Best Picture: A Serious Man
- Best Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
- Best Actor: Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg
- All Categories: Where the Wild Things Are
- Best Supporting Actor: Christian McKay
- Best Actress: Abbie Cornish

Oscar Meter: Down
- All Categories: Nine (not even cinematography??), The Last Station
- Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Colin Firth
- Best Actress: Helen Mirren
- Best Supporting Actor: Alfred Molina, Christopher Plummer

Extra:
- In the Loop and Peter Capaldi actually got nominated for something!!!

Dallas-Fort Worth Critics Award Winners


Best Picture: Up in the Air
Best Director: Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Best Actor: George Clooney, Up in the Air
Best Actress: Carey Mulligan, An Education
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, Precious
Best Screenplay: Up in the Air
Best Foreign-Language Film: Sin Nombre
Best Documentary: The Cove
Best Animated Film: Up
Best Cinematography: The Lovely Bones
Top Ten:
1. Up in the Air
2. The Hurt Locker
3. Precious
4. Up
5. An Education
6. A Serious Man
7. Inglourious Basterds
8. District 9
9. Avatar
10. Fantastic Mr. Fox

Oscar Meter: Up
- Best Picture: Up in the Air
- Best Director: Jason Reitman
- Best Actress: Carey Mulligan
- Best Actor: George Clooney
- Best Supporting Actor/Actress: Christoph Waltz and Mo'Nique (can they be stopped?)
- Best Foreign Language Film: Sin Nombre

Oscar Meter: Down
- Best Supporting Actor: Stanley Tucci
- Best Actress: Helen Mirren

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Prince of Persia" behind the scenes: Dastan

Austin Film Critics Awards


Best Film: The Hurt Locker

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Best Actor: Colin Firth, A Single Man

Best Actress: Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress: Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air

Best Original Screenplay: Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino

Best Adapted Screenplay: Up in the Air, Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Best Cinematography: The Hurt Locker, Barry Ackroyd

Best Original Score: Up, Michael Glacchino

Best Foreign Language Film: Sin Nombre, Cary Fukunaga

Best Documentary: Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Best Animated Feature: Up

Best First Film: District 9, Neill Blomkamp

Breakthrough Artist Award: Christian McKay, Me & Orson Welles

Austin Film Award: Me & Orson Welles


Top 10 Films:

1.The Hurt Locker
2.Star Trek
3.Up
4.A Serious Man
5.Up in the Air
6.Avatar
7.Inglourious Basterds
8.District 9
9.Where the Wild Things Are
10.(tie) Moon, The Messenger



Top 10 Films of the Decade:

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
2. There Will Be Blood (2007)
3. The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
4. The Dark Knight (2008)
5. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
6. Kill Bill (2003/4)
7. No Country for Old Men (2007)
8. The Incredibles (2004)
9. Children of Men (2006)
10. (tie) Memento (2000), The Departed (2006)

Oscar Meter: Up
- Best Actor: Colin Firth
- Best Supporting Actress: Anna Kendrick
- Original Screenplay: Inglourious Basterds

Oscar Meter: Down
- N/A

Extra:
- Easily one of the best Best of the Decade lists I've seen so far.

First poster for "Inception"!

"Robin Hood" teaser trailer



Well aside from the 300-esque rock music, this looks really good. It will be interesting to see a truly gritty, action-oriented version of this classic story. If there's one thing you can count on from Ridley Scott, it's attention to detail coupled with rich production values. Plus, seeing Scott and Crowe work together again on a period action film is bound to have its plusses, even if this only turns out to be fun summer fare and nothing more. Throw in Cate Blanchett as a decidedly de-glam Maid Marion, and you've got a pretty stellar package.

Golden Globe Nominees: Reactions


MOTION PICTURES

_Picture, Drama: "Avatar," "The Hurt Locker," "Inglorious Basterds," "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," "Up in the Air."

Wait, they actually stuck to only five nominees? Madness! Overall, nothing surprising, but these are pretty solid picks, and I'm thrilled to see that the lack of star power didn't hurt The Hurt Locker. It's starting to take some of Up in the Air's momentum, which is pretty huge for a film that grossed about $12 million back in July/August and then vanished until about a week ago. I'm not super crazy about Precious being up for the top prize, mainly because the cast is better than the film or direction; I wouldn't mind seeing it take the SAG award, however. As for Avatar, it looks like the big blockbuster of the year ala The Lord of the Rings, or more obviously, Titanic. And no A Single Man? Ouch.


_Picture, Musical or Comedy: "(500) Days of Summer," "The Hangover," "It's Complicated," "Julie & Julia," "Nine."

A shame to not see A Serious Man or In the Loop here, though the latter snub was expected. The HFPA do have a tendency to go star/box-office crazy, and The Hangover's presence is clear evidence. Don't get me wrong, it's a pretty funny movie, even gut-busting at times, but there were much better choices to be made. Nice to see that (500) Days of Summer made it, as did Nine. Harvey Weinstein must be heaving a HUGE sigh of relief right now. Oh, and It's Complicated = Something's Gotta Give '09???


_Actor, Drama: Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"; George Clooney, "Up in the Air"; Colin Firth, "A Single Man"; Morgan Freeman, "Invictus"; Tobey Maguire, "Brothers."

Oh hi, Jeff Bridges. Oh hi, Colin Firth. Oh hi, Tobey Magui-TOBEY MAGUIRE? I haven't seen Brothers so I'm in no position as to comment on whether he deserves it but...that's one hell of a curve ball right there, HFPA. The other four, not surprising at all. What's going to be surprising is who actually wins the damn thing. And no Jeremy Renner or Sam Rockwell? BOO!

_Actress, Drama: Emily Blunt, "The Young Victoria"; Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side"; Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"; Carey Mulligan, "An Education"; Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire."

I know I predicted Saoirse Ronan, but she was honestly the one I felt least secure about.Bullock got in, which isn't too surprising, but Blunt's nomination comes relatively out of nowhere. I don't expect her to do to well this awards season, and she surely won't win this, but it's a small boost for a film that many were writing off as "TV movie quality." Poor Abbie Cornish, though...that's just cruel HFPA.

_Director: Kathryn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker"; James Cameron, "Avatar"; Clint Eastwood, "Invictus"; Jason Reitman, "Up in the Air"; Quentin Tarantino, "Inglorious Basterds."

A big YAY for Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino. Sadly I haven't seen the other films (expect some new reviews this weekend at long last), but this is certainly a big boost for Cameron. The HFPA do have a big crush on Eastwood, though, so I can't say that this necessarily means that he's a shoo-in for the Oscar nom. Not yet.

_Actor, Musical or Comedy: Matt Damon, "The Informant!"; Daniel Day-Lewis, "Nine"; Robert Downey Jr., "Sherlock Holmes"; Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "(500) Days of Summer"; Michael Stuhlbarg, "A Serious Man."

Great to see Michael Stuhlbarg get some recognition, as well as Gordon-Levitt. I wasn't too crazy about Damon in The Informant, but there were relatively slim pickings this year. Day-Lewis isn't a surprise and will probably win the award, and Downey Jr. looks like he might be the Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean-of the year.

_Actress, Musical or Comedy: Sandra Bullock, "The Proposal"; Marion Cotillard, "Nine"; Julia Roberts, "Duplicity"; Meryl Streep, "It's Complicated"; Meryl Streep, "Julie & Julia."

I would gasp and sputter about Sandra Bullock's second nomination, but I'm too flabbergasted by the presence of Julia Roberts here. Granted, Duplicity was a well made and well acted movie, but I thought everyone (myself included) had basically forgotten about it. The Weinstein's category fraud seems to have paid off for Cotillard, and I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see her win, simply because the HFPA may be split on which Streep performance they want to award.

_Supporting Actor: Matt Damon, "Invictus"; Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger"; Christopher Plummer, "The Last Station"; Stanley Tucci, "The Lovely Bones"; Christoph Waltz, "Inglorious Basterds."

Holy crap...I got a category 100% right. Go me. That's all.

_Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, "Nine"; Vera Farmiga, "Up in the Air"; Anna Kendrick, "Up in the Air"; Mo'Nique, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"; Julianne Moore, "A Single Man."

This is basically the supporting actress lineup people have been predicting for two months, and with this set of nominees, it's coming close to reality (unless the Academy fawns over Cotillard in a supporting way).

_Foreign Language: "Baaria," "Broken Embraces," "The Maid (La Nana)," "A Prophet," "The White Ribbon."

_Animated Film: "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," "Coraline," "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "The Princess and the Frog," "Up."

_Screenplay: Neill Blomkamp, "District 9"; Mark Boal, "The Hurt Locker"; Nancy Meyers, "It's Complicated"; Jason Reitman, "Up in the Air"; Quentin Tarantino, "Inglorious Basterds."

District 9? Really? That's kind of cool, actually.

_Original Score: Michael Giacchino, "Up"; Marvin Hamlisch, "The Informant!"; James Horner, "Avatar"; Abel Korzeniowski, "A Single Man"; Karen O, Carter Burwell, "Where the Wild Things Are."

Why on earth is the score for The Informant! nominated? That's horrifying. Yay for the under appreciated Carter Burwell, however.

_Original Song: "Cinema Italiano" (written by Maury Yeston), "Nine"; "I Want to Come Home" (written by Paul McCartney); "Everybody's Fine"; "I Will See You" (written by James Horner, Simon Franglen, Kuk Harrell); "Avatar"; "The Weary Kind (Theme from 'Crazy Heart')" (written by Ryan Bingham, T Bone Burnett); "Crazy Heart"; "Winter" (written by U2), "Brothers."

That Avatar song is pretty bleh. "Winter" and "Cinema Italiano" are both pretty good, although I would have liked to see "Take It All" instead (haven't seen Nine, but I listened to the soundtrack, and Cotillard KILLS IT).

TELEVISION:

_Series, Drama: "Big Love," HBO; "Dexter," Showtime; "House," Fox; "Mad Men," AMC; "True Blood, HBO.

_Actor, Drama: Simon Baker, "The Mentalist"; Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"; Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"; Hugh Laurie, "House"; Bill Paxton, "Big Love"

_Actress, Drama: Glenn Close, "Damages"; January Jones, "Mad Men"; Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"; Anna Paquin, "True Blood"; Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer."

_Series, Musical or Comedy: "30 Rock," NBC; "Entourage," HBO; "Glee," Fox; "Modern Family," ABC; "The Office," NBC.

_Actor, Musical or Comedy: Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"; Steve Carell, "The Office"; David Duchovny, "Californication"; Thomas Jane, "Hung"; Matthew Morrison, "Glee."

_Actress, Musical or Comedy: Toni Collette, "United States of Tara"; Courteney Cox, "Cougar Town"; Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"; Tina Fey, "30 Rock"; Lea Michele, "Glee."

_Miniseries or Movie: "Georgia O'Keeffe," Lifetime Television; "Grey Gardens," HBO; "Into the Storm," HBO; "Little Dorrit," PBS; "Taking Chance," HBO.

_Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Joan Allen, "Georgia O'Keeffe"; Drew Barrymore, "Grey Gardens"; Jessica Lange, "Grey Gardens"; Anna Paquin, "The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler"; Sigourney Weaver, "Prayers for Bobby."

_Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Kevin Bacon, "Taking Chance"; Kenneth Branagh, "Wallander: One Step Behind"; Chiwetel Ejiofor, "Endgame"; Brendan Gleeson, "Into the Storm"; Jeremy Irons, "Georgia O'Keeffe."

_Supporting Actress, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Jane Adams, "Hung"; Rose Byrne, "Damages"; Jane Lynch, "Glee"; Janet McTeer, "Into the Storm"; Chloe Sevigny, "Big Love,"

_Supporting Actor, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Michael Emerson, "Lost"; Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother"; William Hurt, "Damages"; John Lithgow, "Dexter"; Jeremy Piven, "Entourage."

PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED

Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award: Martin Scorsese.


Oscar Meter: Up

Best Picture: Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Nine, Inglourious Basterds

Best Director: James Cameron, Clint Eastwood

Best Actor: Michael Stuhlbarg

Best Actress: Helen Mirren, Gabourey Sidibe, Sandra Bullock

Best Actress/Supporting Actress: Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Julianne Moore

Oscar Meter: Down

Best Director: Lee Daniels, Rob Marshall

Actor: Viggo Mortensen, Jeremy Renner, Sam Rockwell

Actress: Abbie Cornish, Saoirse Ronan



Monday, December 14, 2009

One more to finish the day: San Francisco Critics Award Winners

Picture: THE HURT LOCKER
Director: KATHERINE BIGELOW - THE HURT LOCKER
Actress: MERYL STREEP - JULIE & JULIA
Actor: COLIN FIRTH - A SINGLE MAN
Supporting Actress: MO'NIQUE - PRECIOUS
Supporting Actor: CHRISTIAN MCKAY - ME AND ORSON WELLES
Original Screenplay: INGLORIOUS BASTERDS
Adapted Screenplay: FANTASTIC MR. FOX
Animated Feature: CORALINE
Foreign Language Film: YOU, THE LIVING
Documentary: ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL
Cinematography: A SINGLE MAN
Special Citation: SITA SINGS THE BLUES


Way to spell Kathryn Bigelow's name wrong, San Francisco...sheesh

Oscar Meter: Up
- Best Actress: Meryl Streep
- Best Actor: Colin Firth
- Best Supporting Actor: Christian McKay
- Best Cinematography: A Single Man
- Best Animated Film: Coraline
- Best Original Screenplay: Inglourious Basterds
- Best Adapted Screenplay: Fantastic Mr. Fox


Oscar Meter: Down
- Best Animated Film: Up