Monday, November 30, 2009

New "Avatar" TV spots

And they're off! Awards Season officially kicks off (in a minor way) with the Gotham Award Winners!

Best Feature

* The Hurt Locker Kathryn Bigelow, director; Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro, producers (Summit Entertainment)

Best Documentary

* Food, Inc. Robert Kenner, director; Robert Kenner, Elise Pearlstein, producers (Magnolia Pictures)

Best Ensemble Performance

* The Hurt Locker

Breakthrough Director

* Robert Siegel for Big Fan

Breakthrough Actor

* Catalina Saavedra in The Maid

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You

* You Won’t Miss Me; Ry Russo-Young, director/producer

Oscar Meter: Up
- The Hurt Locker for Best Picture and Best Director

Oscar Meter: Down
- nothing

"Iron Man 2" teaser poster...maybe there's a teaser trailer on the way(please)???

New batch of For Your Consideration ads!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

2 new Avatar featurettes

Satellite Award Nominees

Actress In A Motion Picture, Drama
Emily Blunt The Young Victoria Apparition
Abbie Cornish Bright Star Apparition
Carey Mulligan An Education Sony Pictures Classics
Shohreh Aghdashloo The Stoning of Soraya M. Roadside Attractions
Catalina Saavedra The Maid Elephant Eye Films
Penélope Cruz Broken Embraces Sony Pictures Classics
Actor In A Motion Picture, Drama
Johnny Depp Public Enemies Universal
Hugh Dancy Adam Fox Searchlight Pictures
Jeremy Renner The Hurt Locker Summit Entertainment
Jeff Bridges Crazy Heart Fox Searchlight Pictures
Michael Sheen The Damned United Sony Pictures Classics
Colin Firth A Single Man The Weinstein Company
Actress In A Motion Picture, Comedy Or Musical
Meryl Streep Julie & Julia Columbia Pictures
Zooey Deschanel (500) Days of Summer Fox Searchlight
Katherine Heigl The Ugly Truth Columbia Pictures
Sandra Bullock The Proposal Walt Disney Studios
Marion Cotillard Nine The Weinstein Company
Actor In A Motion Picture, Comedy Or Musical
Daniel Day-Lewis Nine The Weinstein Company
Bradley Cooper The Hangover Warner Bros.
Matt Damon The Informant! Warner Bros.
Michael Stuhlbarg A Serious Man Focus Features
George Clooney Up in the Air Paramount Pictures
Actress In A Supporting Role
Emily Blunt Sunshine Cleaning Overture Films
Mozhan Marnò The Stoning of Soraya M. Roadside Attractions
Mo'nique Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire Lionsgate
Anna Kendrick Up in the Air Paramount Pictures
Penélope Cruz Nine The Weinstein Company
Actor In A Supporting Role
Christoph Waltz Inglourious Basterds Universal Pictures / The Weinstein Co.
Alfred Molina An Education Sony Pictures Classics
Woody Harrelson The Messenger Oscilloscope Laboratories
James McAvoy The Last Station Sony Pictures Classics
Timothy Spall The Damned United Sony Pictures Classics
Motion Picture, Drama
The Hurt Locker
Summit Entertainment
Bright Star
An Education
Sony Pictures Classics
The Messenger
Oscilloscope Laboratories
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire Lionsgate
The Stoning of Soraya M.
Roadside Attractions
Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Julie & Julia
Columbia Pictures
The Informant!
Warner Bros.
A Serious Man
Focus Features
It’s Complicated
Universal Pictures
Up in the Air
Paramount Pictures
The Weinstein Company
Motion Picture, Foreign Language Film
Red Cliff China Magnet Releasing
The Maid Chile Elephant Eye Films
The White Ribbon Germany Sony Pictures Classics
Broken Embraces Spain Sony Pictures Classics
I Killed My Mother Canada Here Films
Winter in Wartime Netherlands Benelux Films
Motion Picture, Animated Or Mixed Media
Disney - Pixar
Where the Wild Things Are
Warner Bros. Pictures
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Warner Bros. Pictures
The Princess and the Frog
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Columbia Pictures
Motion Picture, Documentary
Every Little Step
Sony Pictures Classics
The Cove
It Might Get Loud
Sony Pictures Classics
The September Issue
Roadside Attractions
The Beaches of Agnès
Cinema Guild
Valentino: The Last Emperor Truly Indie / Vitagraph Films
Neill Blomkamp District 9 Tristar Pictures
Rob Marshall Nine
Kathryn Bigelow The Hurt Locker
Lee Daniels Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Jane Campion Bright Star
Lone Scherfig An Education
Screenplay, Original
Jane Campion Bright Star
Mark Boal The Hurt Locker
Bob Peterson, Pete Docter Up
Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber (500) Days of Summer
Joel & Ethan Coen A Serious Man
Screenplay, Adapted
Nora Ephron Julie & Julia
Nick Hornby An Education
Geoffrey Fletcher Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell District 9
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner Up in the Air
Original Score
Elliot Goldenthal Public Enemies
Rolfe Kent Up in the Air
Michael Giacchino Up
Carter Burwell, Karen O Where the Wild Things Are
Marvin Hamlisch The Informant!
Gabriel Yared Amelia
”Almost There”
Randy Newman
The Princess and the Frog
"I Can See in Color”
Mary J. Blige
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
"Down in New Orleans”
Randy Newman
The Princess and the Frog
“Cinema Italiano”
Maury Yeston
“The Weary Kind”
Ryan Bingham & T Bone Burnett
Crazy Heart
“We are the Children of the World”
Terry Gilliam
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Sony Pictures Classics
Dion Beebe Nine
Dante Spinotti Public Enemies
Guillermo Navarro, Erich Roland It Might Get Loud
Lu Yue, Zhang Li Red Cliff
Roger Deakins A Serious Man
Robert Richardson Inglourious Basterds
Visual Effects
Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Wayne Billheimer, John Frazier Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Craig Hayes Red Cliff
John Paul Docherty, Richard Bain The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Tim Ledbury Fantastic Mr. Fox
Robert Habros, Charlie Bradbury, Stephen Pepper, Winston Helgason District 9
Volker Engel, Marc Weigert, Mike Vezina 2012
Film Editing
Greg Finton It Might Get Loud
Angie Lam, Yang Hongyu, Robert A. Ferretti Red Cliff
Julian Clarke District 9
David Brenner, Peter S. Elliot 2012
Chris Innis, Bob Murawski The Hurt Locker
Claire Simpson, Wyatt Smith Nine
Sound (Mixing & Editing)
Cameron Frankley, Mark Ulano, Richard Van Dyke, Ron Bartlett Terminator Salvation
Ethan Van Der Ryn, Erik Aadahl, Geoffrey Patterson, Gary Summers, Greg P. Russell Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Joel Dougherty, Chuck Fitzpatrick It Might Get Loud
Steve Burgess Red Cliff
Paul N.J. Ottosson, Michael Mcgee, Rick Kline, Jeffrey J. Haboush, Michael Keller 2012
Margit Pfeiffer, Jim Greenhorn Nine
Art Direction & Production Design
Terry Gilliam, Dave Warren, Anastasia Masaro The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Nathan Crowley, Patrick Lumb, William Ladd Skinner Public Enemies
Eddy Wong Red Cliff
Chris Kennedy The Road
Barry Chusid, Elizabeth Wilcox 2012
Ian Phillips, Dan Bishop A Single Man
Costume Design
Tim Yip Red Cliff
Consolata Boyle Chéri Miramax Films
Monique Prudhomme The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Sandy Powell The Young Victoria
Colleen Atwood Nine

3 photos from "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader"

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"The Road" - REVIEW

When a studio decides to delay the release of a film by a year, it's usually not the best sign. And when it gets pushed back by two months in the weeks before its official release? Not exactly comforting. Such was the case with John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Road." But at last the day has finally come, after more than a year of re-edits and re-shoots. So how does the final package measure up? It's not easy to say. Hillcoat's film, written by Joe Penhall, stays so close to the bare-bones novel that after a certain point the story loses suspense for those who have read the (excellent) book. For the uninitiated there is most likely a more powerful story lying in wait, but for those who have read the novel, after a point it will be difficult for "The Road" to rise above the level of "good," to the level of "great" that it had the potential to achieve.

After a quick flashback involving the Mother (Charlize Theron), the film proper opens just like the book, with the Man (Viggo Mortensen) and Boy (Kodi-Smit McPhee) trekking down the gray landscape of somewhere in the ruined United States, without any explanation of what has caused this situation. And I mean gray. More than anything, Hillcoat has captured the look of McCarthy's post-apocalyptic vision in its limited color scheme, although there are one or two edits where the tone noticeably changes from sepia-brown to ashen gray in the same scene. The film's few inhabitants are made-up well too. No one has a ridiculous set of gleaming white teeth; people are dirty, ragged, and worn. But for a novel as difficult to adapt to the big screen as "The Road," this is one department on which there could be little realistic improvement. But there are areas for improvement. McCarthy's novel had no chapters. There were either paragraph breaks or a line of three asterisks to show the end of a "scene." In the novel, this spacing device gave two distinct feelings: the paragraph breaks seemed to run into each other and almost flow together, to create a distorted sense of how much time had passed, while the asterisks represented a harder, concrete end and beginning. Unfortunately, Hillcoat's somewhat jerky style of pacing, which was effective in his Australian western "The Proposition" (2005) doesn't always match the flow of McCarthy's sparse but generally fluid prose. It's not a devastating flaw, but on occasion it does disrupt the build-up of atmosphere.

As far as the performances go, "The Road" is a tricky one, mostly because I've read the book. The novel was so spare, especially in dialogue that after reading it I remembered thinking that there would have to be a major overhaul in the spoken words to make an impact on film. Yet while Penhall's script is generally brief on dialogue, he does make the wise decision of expanding the dialogue beyond "yes-no-OK" conversations that are effective. There's also some occasional narration from the Man, which is used a handful of times at the beginning, and then sprinkled over some brief portions of the end. There are also flashback scenes involving the Woman, which were as absent as an explanation for what caused the apocalypse (although that's not what this story is about, at its heart, so stop asking). Said flashbacks give Mortensen more material to work with and a little more insight into his generally inflexible personality. Such changes serve the principal actors well and help to give the father-son relationship even more resonance than was contained on the page. In allowing us to see scenes of the Man and Boy fighting more than in the book and with expanded dialogue, we get a better sense of these characters who are quite different in how they want to live their lives in the post-apocalyptic world around them. Mortensen, who has steadily been building himself up as an actor for people to notice after "The Lord of the Rings," has found what is easily one of his best two roles (whether it's better than "Eastern Promises" is hard to say) and he plays it well. There is sternness, and even a bit of shocking cruelty in his desperation to survive, but also love, as shown by the way he speaks to his son, looks at him, or the gentleness with which he touches him in a scene when the two finally get a chance to cut their ragged hair. Smit-McPhee, a total newcomer, is a strong foil, with his innocent, more trusting view of humanity. To listen to the openness with which he talks or asks questions is to feel a pang of horror: no child should ever have to grow up in a world like this. The lightness of his voice and the little quivers within, coupled with some of his lines, are enough to cut straight through the ashen surroundings and go straight to the heart, without being manipulative or mawkish.

But the big question about this film is how does the adaptation work when it comes to literalness. It's sort of a mixed bag in the end. Despite the additions of flashbacks, expanded scenes, or small moments that weren't present, the plot is so faithful that, as I've said, it loses suspense. Not that it isn't interesting or compelling. To be fair, the first half has some moments of tension, and the literalness only helps heighten the horror of what I'll simply refer to as the "basement scene." It's really around the second half of the film where I began to feel a sense of over-familiarity, which is unfortunate because these same events in the novel were still quite compelling. And they are in the film in varying degrees, but because I've read the book and I know how each and every significant even is going to turn out, AND because Penhall at this point puts too much faith in McCarthy's vision so as to give up on his own, that the impact feels slightly muted. "The Road" may not have quite achieved greatness, but in its small changes, and in its performances, it on the whole is a success. And after the long road this film has traveled on to finally be released, it's certainly admirable, though not quite amazing.

On the technical front there's really nothing to fault, save for two brief instances of color-correction shift.The visuals are appropriately bleak and gray, as are the wastelands dotted by wrecked neighborhoods, gas stations, and convenience stores. At times it can even be somewhat beautiful, namely the handful of wide shots where the Man and Boy move across a backdrop of gray sky and clouds. There's also Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' delicate, yet haunting score, which helps propel the film along and fills in some of the cracks in the atmosphere left by some of the edits.

Grade: B

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New "The Lovely Bones" poster

Peter Jackson's film, which opens on December 11th, has over the past few weeks, found itself in a bit of trouble. It's one of the five BIG December movies (along with "Avatar", "Nine", "Invictus", and "Up in the Air"), and the early word from test screenings has been not quite as positive as hoped for. There have been good reviews (or rather, snippets), which is a relief, but the most recent one I read presented an interesting dilemma. The writer said that the film sometimes doesn't know what it wants to be: crime drama or tragedy. However, the writer also said that both aspects are executed strongly, but that it's simply, "odd to be crying one minute and then the next minute be sitting at the edge of your seat screaming for the girl to get out of a room." As far as official reviews go, I've only read those from The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Both give praise to Saoirse Ronan, citing her as the glue that holds the film together, but seem ultimately underwhelmed by the whole package.

Oscar Buzz (I kind of hate this term, but it gets the job done...) Up:
- Saoirse Ronan for Best Actress

Oscar Buzz Down:
- The Lovely Bones for Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay

"The Last Station" trailer

4th poster for "Nine"; Day-Lewis finally gets one to himself

Monday, November 23, 2009

One last poster for "The Road"

"Avatar" clip: Thanador chase

This was one of the scenes I saw at Avatar Day back in August, and I have to say it looks like it has improved a bit. We weren't shown the bit with the waterfall, but those shots with Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) coming out of the water and grabbing onto a branch are actually quite stunning. Granted, the blue avatars still take a little time to get used to, but everything else in the scene is stunningly well done.

Edit: Official "Nine" posterS (third one!)

New poster for "A Single Man"

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Precious" - REVIEW

Though I would advise people to see Lee Daniels' "Precious" on the big screen so as to get the most out of it, I would also advise going at a time when there are likely to be few people in the audience. I'm being dead serious here. Never have I been so thoroughly appalled by an audience's childishness. That's not to say that the film shouldn't provoke any sort of reaction at all - there are some parts that are intentionally funny - but laughing at the stammering of a woman on the verge of a breakdown just because she makes an odd noise while holding back tears is nothing short of immature. Oh, and by the way, who the F*** thought it was a good idea to take KIDS to see this movie?

Now that we have THAT out of the way, let's move on to what this is supposed to be about: "Precious", Lee Daniels' acclaimed film that's been gathering Oscar buzz since it took Sundance by storm in January. Set in Harlem in 1987, the film tells the story of Clarice "Precious" Jones, an overweight, illiterate 16-year-old who is pregnant with her second child. After being kicked out of school, she is forwarded to an alternative school, where she takes a class taught by Ms. Rain (Paula Patton), who helps Precious make progress in her reading and writing, as well as her social life. Precious also fantasizes about being a big singing star, or being featured in "one of them BET videos". But of course, fantasies eventually have to end, and in Precious' case, she's always dragged back to reality by her absolute monster of a mother, played by comedian Mo'Nique.

And yet as much of a monster as she is, Mo'Nique's portrayal, like Daniels' film, does not jump to hyperbole or caricature. These characters do not exist for the sole purpose of hammering home a single point or emotion. Even Mariah Carey's social worker, who has two, maybe three scenes, has a sense of fullness and depth, instead of feeling like a stock character who only advances certain parts of the plot. And then there's Ms. Patton, who has received virtually no attention, which I don't understand at all. Yes, she's lovely to look at, but her performance is lovely too. She gives off a quiet confidence. She can be serious, she can laugh, she can cry, all without ever drawing unnecessary attention to her role in regards to the film's lead. It's a true "supporting" performance. She helps support the film's story and lead character/s(?) while literally supporting Precious, played by the final piece of the ensemble, newcomer Gabourey Sidibe (Gab-or-ay Sih-dih-bay). On the whole, Sidibe's part is a more restrained one than Mo'Nique's, but when it's time for her to shine, she doesn't disappoint. Her quiet smiles, laughs, or even expressions of indifference, mask a horrific past filled with pain, and her disturbing relationship with her mother (which is cleverly juxtaposed in a scene where mother and daughter watch "Two Women", a film built upon a mother and daughter going through tragedy together, instead of apart).

But the real surprise in "Precious" is actually in its humor. Yes, for all of the misery contained in the film, there are also laughs, which keep the film from becoming a constant downward spiral into hell. Some of it works, and some of it feels a little too out of place, but it does keep the film from devolving into "misery porn". Alas, the film is not without other missteps. Though it certainly has a different enough story that rises above what could have been a Lifetime Movie, Daniels and crew make some odd choices along the way. The early scenes are oddly patched together, and there are moments when Mr. Daniels looks like he's trying to use every transition effect in the book. There's also the color red (ok, I actually thought it was orange...) which is sort of used throughout the film but never has any real significance. In a film that is shot in a rather gritty way, the image of an orange scarf billowing in the wind feels oddly abstract and symbolic. And though Daniels does a great job directing his actors, his set up of scenes doesn't always come through. Scenes that should feel more intimate (in a good or bad way) sometimes feel too wide, too broad, to the point where I felt a slight disconnect from the story. The story itself is generally well told, but the ending, like "An Education", comes too soon, and too tidily, especially given the scene that comes before it. There's nothing wrong with ending a film so that it leaves some questions unanswered, but "Precious"'s ending leaves a full survey behind.

Powerful but not sentimental, horrifying but not over-the-top, "Precious" is superbly well-acted and certainly one of the better films to come out this year. However, it's narrative and stylistic missteps take a film that had all the ingredients to be great, but strangely came out as just 'good'. It's a shame Daniels couldn't have given the same effort in his handling of the adaptation, as he did with his cast.

Grade: B

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Avatar" featurette: Human hardware

2009/2010 Awards Season Calendar

And this isn't even including the numerous cities and regions who will give out awards as well. Take a deep breath, because once we hit December 1st, it's awards mania until March 7th.

Tuesday, Dec. 1 – Gotham Awards, Indie Spirit nominations
Thursday, Dec. 3 – National Board of Review Awards announced
Sunday, Dec. 13 – Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards voting (not confirmed), AFI top 10 list unveiled
Monday, Dec. 14 – New York Film Critics Circle voting, Critics Choice Awards noms, WGA TV nominations announced
Tuesday, Dec. 15 – Golden Globe nominations
Thursday, Dec. 17 – SAG Awards nominations
Sunday, Jan. 3 – National Society of Film Critics
Thursday, Jan. 7 – DGA film nominations
Monday, Jan. 11 – WGA film nominations announced
Friday, Jan. 15 – Critics Choice Awards
Sunday, Jan. 17 – Golden Globes
Saturday, Jan. 23 – SAG Awards
Sunday, Jan. 24 – Producers Guild of America Awards
Saturday, Jan. 30 – DGA film awards
Tuesday, Feb. 2 – Oscar nominations
Saturday, Feb. 13 – Art Directors Guild
Saturday, Feb. 20 – WGA Awards
Sunday, Feb. 21 – BAFTA Awards
Friday, March 5 – Indie Spirit Awards
Saturday, March 6 – Razzie Awards
Sunday, March 7 – Academy Awards

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sample from James Horner's score for "Avatar"

French "Avatar" poster

Where we stand: Best Actress in a Leading Role

I'm getting worse and worse when it comes to keeping to personal deadlines. When I finished my post about the Best Actor contenders, I claimed that within a week I would at least move on to one more category. Alas, a week came and went, I've done absolutely nothing...until NOW! No more delays, let's talk about some actresses...

I've read a few brief articles that have posed the question, "is 2009 a weak year for women in film?" I hate to say it, but as of now, I agree, at least in the leading category (supporting actress is a whole different game this year). Historically, women have always struggled in regards to the strength of their roles, and it always stings when one or two women give stellar performances in great roles, while their competition are working their asses off with lesser material. I won't go into an indepth examination of why this is, or whose fault it is, because I don't know enough to give any valuable insight. However, what I will do is echo Nicole Kidman's quip from her acceptance speech when she won the Golden Globe for "The Hours": [paraphrase] "Keep on writing these great roles for [women], because [we're] really quite interesting."
Now, this isn't to say that there haven't been strong female performances, or that there aren't any more coming out this year. From what we've been given so far, there are a few contenders, whether based on hype, politics, reviews, or all three. And who are these women? Let's take a moment to meet them, in no order in regards to their chances of being nominated...

The first performance that comes to mind right now is one of several breakthrough women this year: Carey Mulligan in "An Education". While the comparisons to Audrey Hepburn may be a bit too much, it's still a radiant turn from a relatively fresh face, and is still my Best Actress win so far (I have yet to see "Precious", which we'll get to in a moment). "Maybe If I just randomly speak in French more often..."

Buzz for the film may have died down a little (which is understandable considering that no precursor awards have been given out yet), but Mulligan isn't really at risk at the moment. Consider her a lock for the nomination, and one of the three most likely to take home the statue.
Then we have "Precious"'s Gabourey Sidibe. She's spent a lot of time under co-star Mo'Nique's shadow, but in recent weeks has picked up lots and lots of steam. Hers is (from what I've read) the less showy performance, but equally as powerful. Watch your back, Mo'Nique...

And with no other lead characters, Sidibe doesn't have to worry about internal competition (unlike, say, the "Nine" ladies in supp. actress). Her performance is much weightier than Mulligan's, so if the Best Actress race turns into a showdown between her and Mulligan, expect Sidibe to come out on top, unless a certain veteran sneaks in (let's leave that for...much later).
Staying in the vein of breakthroughs, we shouldn't count out "Bright Star"'s Abbie Cornish. Cornish pretty well owns Jane Campion's film and will probably be the only one to receive a nomination. She deserves it, certainly, but people don't seem to be talking about the film as much. "Let me be remembered for this and not "The Golden Age"...

Again, it's not entirely appropriate to use that as "hard evidence", simply because we're sitting in that lull before the critics awards start pouring in. But until then, consider Cornish a strong possibility, just not a definite.
But there are younger competitors who aren't breakthroughs who have a chance, case in point: Saoirse Ronan in "The Lovely Bones". There seems to be mixed buzz on the film so far, but Ronan's role is quite meaty. "I gave them their happiness...and then Stanley Tucci killed me. FML."

She's already shown us what she can do in "Atonement", and this is her chance to prove herself as a lead (the rest of the cast are being campaigned as supporting). The question is, how many young ladies will the Academy want to nominate in one year? Surely there must be someone older...

We've had a handful of last minute changes in this award season, but they seemed to be primarily concerned with men, until recently. A little film called "The Last Station", which many had figured would be bumped to 2010, has in fact picked up late 09 release dates, and is now in the running. "Let me put on a bikini and THEN we'll see who looks hotter, Dame Judi..."

Though initial buzz was for Christopher Plummer, the attention is now shifted to Helen Mirren, who has earned positive notices and recently won the Best Actress award at the Rome Film Festival. I wouldn't say Mirren has a great chance of getting nominated, but she does have a chance.
Then there's Marion Cotillard from "Nine". Originally, the plan had been for all of the women to be campaigned in Supporting Actress, but that's all changed, and after thinking about it, I'm not too surprised. As far as how "lead" to role is, I can't be sure. I haven't seen the stage show, but in Fellini's "8 1/2", there's no question that all of the women are supporting, albeit in varying degrees. In Marshall's version though, Cotillard is the only woman who sings two songs, the same number that Day-Lewis sings. She also plays his long-suffering wife, a role type that the Academy tends to gravitate towards. And then there's the Penelope Cruz factor. Test screening reports indicate that Cotillard and Cruz, who have the two largest female roles, also run away with the show. "Lead? Mr. Weinstein, you must be joking!"

By moving Cotillard to lead, the film doesn't have to worry about these two ladies fighting against each other in the Supporting Actress category (though it could technically still happen if Cotillard gets in for "Public Enemies"). I know the argument isn't entirely valid, but given Cotillard's recent win in Best Actress, I don't think she has any chance at winning, but if "Nine" goes over really well not just for her performance, but for the film as a whole, don't be surprised if she's back at the ceremony as a nominee. Still not a sure bet, however.
However, Cotillard should be thankful that she isn't one of the women I'm about to mention, because I'm convinced that the following are basically not happening. The first is Hillary Swank in "Amelia". Swank's reviews were solid enough, but the film crashed and burned. "Not getting nominated? Did I not die well enough? Seriously, is that why!?"

There's a slim chance that Swank could pull a Cate Blanchett at be nominated for a critically panned film, but I doubt it. Plus, do you really think the Academy is going to give Swank the slightest chance of winning a third Oscar before Meryl Streep? Not happening.
Then there are performances that were praised but are just too "small", like Tilda Swinton in "Julia". I found the film to be a mess, but even when burdened with irritating dialogue, Swinton managed to shine in this role. Tilda Swinton the day after finding out she has to do another Narnia movie.

The only problem is that the film is simply too damn small. She'll need the campaign of a lifetime (maybe hire the Weinsteins if they aren't overloaded yet?) to get in, no matter how much she deserves the nomination at the moment.
Zooey Deschanel has the opposite problem. People know about "(500) Days of Summer", but there isn't enough praise for her. It's certainly a nice apology after "The Happening", and she's adorable in the film, but the story never focuses on anything from her perspective. "And what makes you think you'll get nominated at all, tough guy?"

It sticks to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is not only more of a lead, but gave the better performance. There's also the debate as to whether she's supporting or not. A Globe nomination isn't too far fetched, but don't even bring up the possibility of an Oscar nom.
There's also Maggie Gyllenhaal in "Crazy Heart". The film looks like Jeff Bridges' show, and unless she gives a mind blowing performance, I don't see her getting recognized at all. Yup, that's all I felt like saying about that.Maggie: Must be nice have four Oscar nominations.
Jeff: It is. What's it like having none at all?
Jeff: The dude abides.

One performance that has surprised me is Sandra Bullock in this week's "The Blind Side". The film looks like typical "based-on-a-true-story" inspirational fluff, but Bullock is actually earning positive notices. Considering that she's done quite a bit of crud, Bullock is capable of giving good, understated performances ("Infamous"). "Just wait and see. If they don't nominate me, I'll make "All About Steve 2"...that'll teach 'em."

I don't see the Oscar nomination happening, but she could be this year's Jodie Foster and get the Globe nomination for an otherwise routine drama. But of course, she's got so much competition, and then there's the veteran factor...
Veteran, you say? Who could I possibly be referring to? If you guessed Meryl Streep, well, no DUH. "Julie and Julia" may not be Streep's greatest work of the decade, but after so many nominations but no wins since "Sophie's Choice" in the mid-80s, the nomination is becoming close to a sure thing. Now that Meryl knows how to cook, don't be surprised if people who don't vote for her come down with "mysterious" food poisoning...

But if the Academy is going to give her a third statue, are they going to want it to be for something so light? Sure, the performance has its more emotional moments, but do they want THIS to be the one? I have mixed feelings. They're certainly more likely to nominate her for this than for "It's Complicated" (since when was there any hype for that performance at all?). This is one that will ultimately be decided, like everything else, in the precursors. "They said I would get nominated for WHAT!? C'mon Steve, quit pullin' my leg!"

However, the precursors are not the Oscars (obvious, much?), and if no one else gives Streep an award, the Academy may feel compelled to give her the big one.
That's all for now. I'd mention Zoe Saldana in "Avatar", but I don't think the film will be an actor's piece. Zoe: It's because I'm black, right?
Audience: You're black?

That, and I'm not entirely clear on the Academy's policy on motion-capture performances. Until next time!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Nine" TV spot...Guido talks at last!

No Christopher Nolan for "Batman 3"???

If this ends up being true, it's really a shame, because Nolan's done such a brilliant job of reinventing the franchise. However, I understand that he must still be a bit exhausted after all of the "Dark Knight" hoopla, and considering that he's still working on "Inception" for a summer 2010 release, could probably use a break. Though it would be cool to have another talented directed come on board for Batman 3, like I said, Nolan's done such a great job, so why not just wait for him (unless he swears off Batman movies forever)?


I feel like we need to really figure out the naming convention for the next Batman film until the official title is revealed. Is it Batman 3? That would indicate there were not four previous Batman movies; it isn't like the James Bond films started over from #1. I like calling it The Dark Knight 2 (or TDK2, since the kids just love acronyms these days), but that's mostly because I feel like Nolan finally figured out how to make a Batman film with TDK. Batman Begins is such a dry run.

Anyway, whatever you want to call it, there's no news about it. And that's possibly news, according to Batman on Film. The site reports that Warner Bros and Christopher Nolan should know what's what with Batman 3 - ie, is Nolan coming back - by January 2010. BoF's source says the longer we don't hear about it, the more likely it is that Nolan is done. BoF has different opinions, saying that Nolan is signed.

Which may be the case! But it doesn't matter. If Nolan wants out of Batman 3/TDK2, Warner Bros is going to let him go. They're not going to force the dude to make the movie. That way lies a terrible film. And even if Nolan didn't want to direct the next movie, he'd definitely be producing it. So even in a situation where Nolan realizes he might have a very hard time following up the second biggest earning movie (unadjusted!) in history, Warner Bros would get to put his name on the TV commercials for the next film.

My guess: Nolan will not direct the next film. He'll be a strong producer but he'll turn over the reins to someone talented but hungry - a name that will make us nerds happy but won't eclipse him. If that's the case, who could it be?

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Crazy Heart" trailer

Audiences to Peter Jackson: "BE DEPRESSING!"

Source: Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Filmmakers trying to satisfy a U.S. movie rating aimed at mostly teenagers often complain that they're forced to cut violent scenes, and those edits compromise the director's vision.

But Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson found he had the exact opposite problem with his eagerly-anticipated new film, "The Lovely Bones," due in theaters on December 11.

Based on the 2002 best-seller by Alice Sebold, "The Lovely Bones" tells the harrowing and intensely emotional story of a raped and murdered 14-year-old girl named Susie (Saoirse Ronan), who watches from her heavenly vantage point while her family on Earth mourns her loss and try to find her killer.

Jackson told Reuters he was taken aback to find that in early screenings audiences "were simply not satisfied" with a scene of one character's death.

"They wanted far more violence," Jackson said, so the "Lord of the Rings" director went back to the editing room to "basically add more violence and suffering."

"Lovely Bones" is among this year's most widely-anticipated films because the book was such a bestseller and because Jackson took the beloved "Lord of the Rings" tales and made films that were both true to their source material and fun for movie fans.

In "Lovely Bones", Stanley Tucci plays the man who rapes and kills Susie, which is no secret. "The mystery is, what's going to happen to him," Jackson said.

The director said it was important the movie receive a PG13 rating in the United States from the industry group that deems the kind of audiences to which films are generally acceptable.

A PG13 rating, which advises that a movie is aimed at over 13 year-olds rather than younger groups, is generally believed by Hollywood studios to appeal to the widest possible audience, and Jackson said he wanted "The Lovely Bones" to generate broad interest.


Yet, with a higher level of violence, it may have earned an "R" rating, meaning it would be seen mostly by adults.

So, when shooting one death scene of a man falling to his death, Jackson chose to simply have him disappear off the edge of a cliff and not show the gruesome details of his fall.

"We got a lot of people telling us that they were disappointed with this death scene, as they wanted him to see (the character) in agony and suffer a lot more," he said. "They just weren't satisfied."

Jackson said he and his filmmakers were perplexed because they had already shot much of the movie. They had to go back to the editing room and use digital effects to add shots where (the character) bounces against the cliff on the way down.

"We had to create a whole suffering death scene just to give people the satisfaction they needed," he said.

Fortunately for Jackson, the movie still retained its more youth-friendly rating for U.S. audiences, and even before its release, it is once again generating Oscar buzz for Jackson.

But the director said that his best director and best picture Academy Awards for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," satisfied his dreams of Oscar glory.

"I do feel I don't need to prove anything anymore. But winning and even being nominated for an Oscar is still an enormous privilege and big thrill," he said.

"The great thing about having won is that you do feel, no matter what happens in your career now, you've always got that Oscar and it's a nice thing to wake up to in the morning and go to the office and see them sitting there on the shelf."

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)