Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January in Movies

Wow, that is the first month of 2012 over, just like that. Hopefully ever month goes as fast as this so it'll be the Christmas holidays again in no time. Because after three months of no school, it is going to be amazingly hard to get back into it. Especially because it'll be impossible for me to watch 44 movies in one month again...

Movies I'd never seen until the month of January...

The Debt (2007) - The original, Israeli version, which I found in the preview drawer. It was actually quite good, if a little dull on the film-making side of things. I liked it though, and I can't wait to finally see the American version!
The Piano Teacher - ...interesting...
Fargo - I do tend to like anything by the Coen brothers, and this one sure didn't disappoint. There is just something so special about the way they make movies that is familiar just like that...and I'm not quite sure what it is.
Repulsion - I got three Roman Polanski movies from Fatso at the exact same time. This was the first that I watched, and I really did like it. It was so creepy and twisted.
Chinatown - I'm not trying to slag off modern cinema in any way, but they honestly couldn't make a film like this nowadays. It was just too brilliant for words.
Colombiana - Did anyone see Zoe Saldana's dress at the SAGs? I saw the body that she has in this movie - and that dress did not do any justice to it at all.
I Love You Phillip Morris - I actually really dug this movie. Jim Carrey and the ever-brilliant Ewan McGregor were beyond excellent in it.
The Muppets - I still need to buy the soundtrack to this.
The Adventures of Tintin - And I still have to buy a little Snowy figurine of some description from this.
Rosemary's Baby - The last of the Polanski films. It was not what I was expecting, at all.
The Smurfs - I worry about kids entertainment nowadays. Especially when it turns out like this.
Bunraku - Ummmm, I've forgotten this movie now. Probably because it bored me so much that I did a colouring competition while 'watching' it.
The Change-Up - 'Twas an alright movie. I loved the heart from Leslie Mann's character, but the excessive excrement turned me off.
Super - Wow, this movie was bloody dark. And rather graphically violent. I was surprised. But it was a pretty good movie...just no Kick-Ass.
Cedar Rapids - An interesting enough movie. Ed Helms kinda annoys me, though.
Drive - I had serious audio problems with this on the plane. I couldn't hear the talking (when there was talking), so I'd turn it up. But then there'd be some car chase or some really loud music so I'd have to turn it down before my eardrums burst. It wasn't cool.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - I have a nagging desire to go and see this movie again. Just for the opening credits and OSCAR NOMINEE ROONEY MARA's badassery.
The Descendants - I believe I am still alone in not liking this movie a lot.
Hugo - Directed by Martin Scorsese (you can take a drink now).
Puss in Boots - I'm so glad that I watched this on the plane, considering it is now an Oscar nominee. But did anyone notice what a total sleaze Puss is? Like, that's not good for kids.
What's Your Number? - Decided to watch this on the plane, too. Surprised that all of the swear words in that one didn't get censored like they did in Drive.
Friends with Benefits - Everytime I think of this movie (which isn't very often) I get that 'Closing Time' song stuck in my head.
Black Narcissus - I do love Powell and Pressburger films, and this one was just excellent. Not as good as The Red Shoes though.
Youth in Revolt - It is weird seeing Rooney Mara pre-Lisbeth...she was so pretty. She still is, obviously, but I do miss her long hair.
Abduction - That "I'll be responsible for the deaths of all your Facebook friends" line gets me every time.
Chalet Girl - How lovely is Felicity Jones? I wish I could see Like Crazy but it is not coming to Palmerston North cinemas (major sadface).
Win Win - Really nice script, but nothing different to what I've seen before.
Jane Eyre - I'm going to marry Michael Fassbender one day. Just as soon as I finish the book. Which will never happen.
War Horse - My horse might be in Dannevirke this weekend and I have to work. I don't care if I need the money, that horse is worth more than everything in this world to me.
Chico & Rita - One of the Animated Oscar nominees. Was a really nice film - but it would have worked better as a live action film.
RocknRolla - People need to give Mark Strong a lead role. Pronto.
Spider - My first David Cronenberg film, would you believe. Was really creepy, and Ralph Fiennes was brilliant like always.
Texas Killing Fields - Only for my darling Jessica Chastain. Who was underused, but really good. Shame that Sam Worthington couldn't decide what accent to do, though.
Footloose (2011) - I admit to some foot-tapping, but it shouldn't have been made.
Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974 - Pure brilliance, but not happy material. Loved Andrew Garfield and Rebecca Hall in it!
Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980 - Literally just finished watching it. What a god-smacking finale. I will be watching the last one soon, so that can go on next month's review.

Movies I've seen before but felt the need to watch again because I'm cool like that...

Inception - Technically watched last year, but I didn't put it in last month's review. First time in Blu-ray, and still as awesome the 17th time around. Mind you, I don't think I'll be rewatching it very often from now on...it is awesome, but I'm growing tired of it.
Sunshine Cleaning - Was on TV on New Years. Amy Adams and Emily Blunt are fantastic in this movie; it is so underrated.
Senna - Someone came into the shop and went on to someone else who was working about how 'awful' this movie was. And then they tried to convince my colleague that my opinion was so wrong and no-one should have read my staff pick. Sure, they're entitled to their opinion, but I wanted to smack them in the face for the way they went about it. And what do you know? After the weekend my staff pick was gone. I'm seriously starting to think everyone at that shop hates me.
The Social Network - I love this movie to death. Apart from every time that I watch it I cry because I can't write a tenth as well as Aaron Sorkin.
Marie Antoinette - This wasn't really a rewatch. I had watched it when I was 11/12 and I 'didn't like it very much'. I decided to give it another go coz I love Sofia Coppola and all, and it seems as if I didn't watch it very well it all, coz I didn't remember any of it at all. It is still Coppola's weakest work, though. But Tom Hardy was in it!
The Tree of Life - Third time. It was so hard to cram my staff pick in for this one. I love this film more and more every time I see it, but I also become more aware of the many flaws that plague it. It could be best described as a flawed masterpiece.
Sarah's Key - Watched it on the plane, which made me a little depressed. Ah well, this is a brilliant movie, even if Kristin Scott Thomas' storyline was almost completely unnecessary.
Beginners - Completely fell in love with this movie the second time around. I need a dog like Arthur.
The Virgin Suicides - I literally scoured all of Melbourne to find this movie, but it was nowhere to be seen. Then I decided to go back to one of the million JB Hi-Fi's they had there (reason #5498901 why I'll be much better off in Melbourne) and there were ten copies sitting there staring me in the face for only $4.98. Upon a rewatch I'm convinced this deserves a place in my top 10.
Quiz Show - When I went to Melbourne this was the first DVD I was looking for. And it was the first DVD I bought there (found it straight away! suck on that, NZ). What a brilliant film - probably one of the most underrated of all time.

Seen anything good this month?

Tuesday Links and Other Stuff #10

What I'm watching tonight...

I kinda cheated and had my Tuesday Movie Night last night with Texas Killing Fields and the remake of Footloose, since all of the DVDs arrived a day early. Tonight, though, I plan to watch the entire Red Riding trilogy since I got them from Fatso last week. My life is becoming overly British, of late.

Video of the week...

I've listened to the entire The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack at least five times now (and hey, that is 15 hours of my life gone to the same album), so I've finally figured out what my favourite songs from it are - apart from Immigrant Song. My favourite of all the favourites is the final song, 'Is Your Love Strong Enough?' by How to Destroy Angels. Such an awesome song - and so fitting with the movie.

A bit of randomness...

On Friday, I completely redesigned the blog. Let me just point out a few new things:
ABOUT/BLOGROLL: This is where most of you are linked. It just looked a bit untidy in the sidebar, and I don't think it would have looked right.
1001: Where the movies from '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die' are listed and where you'll find out what I've seen.
MY FILM JOURNAL: Where the pages from my Moleskine Film Journal have been scanned in so you can have a look at it. This is like reading my diary, yo.
A new rating system should be coming sometime this week...

I'm always happy to see bloggers who love The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Fincher's version) almost as much as I. Mette of Lime Reviews and Nikhat of Being Norma Jeane are now on the bandwagon.

Filling up my RSS feed today were quite a few predictions for the Oscars from Never Too Early Movie Predictions. They look pretty spot on.

Speaking of the Oscars, the LAMB Devours the Oscars is happening now, so check out the posts they have so far. I promise I'll write mine soon, just have to see A Cat in Paris and Kung Fu Panda 2!

I heard whispers that Take Shelter is out on DVD here in March (eeeeeeeeeeeee!). Making me even more anticipated to see it is Sati @ Cinematic Corner, who raves about it.

Another movie which I really want to see (which isn't out in cinemas until March) is The Skin I Live In. Aziza picks this one! (haha, see what I did there?)

One movie I have seen, though, is The Muppets, which I loved. Ruth @ "...let's be splendid about this..." really liked it too. And how could you not?

While The Artist may be getting all the buzz, I hope that some people remember Hugo, too. Tyler @ Southern Vision particularly liked it, a little more than I did.

I still haven't found a way to go and see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy over at the cinemas yet (I'll just wait for the DVD), but Mike's review of it over at Front Room Cinema doesn't make me feel so sad about that.

However, if there is one film that I'm going to see in cinemas even if I have to walk fours to get there is The Artist, if it ever comes to Palmy. Andy at his Film Emporium saw it and despite being disappointed because of expectations, was quite enthused by it.

Final word...
In your honest opinion, what do you think of my new layout?

Monday, January 30, 2012

AAN: Where the Guild Awards Leave the Rest of the Season

With the Screen Actors Guild awards today, all of the guild awards have been given out and now we have a pretty good idea of who is going to win big at the Oscars. Let's start with the Producers Guild Awards, which were held over a week ago...

The Artist took the top award here, over Bridesmaids, The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Help, Hugo, The Ides of March, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball and War Horse. The Producers Guild Awards are essentially what Best Picture is, just with better taste (no Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close here). So I guess you could say that The Artist has Best Picture all locked down. Which is fine. I remember how last year it was this set of awards that took The Social Network's Best Picture chances and shoved them down the toilet. I kinda resent them because of that, but the only Oscar chances that this award is shoving down the toilet is Hugo's, as that is also a front-runner to get the prize. But I doubt it can beat The Artist, because the force has grown too strong behind that one.

The Directors Guild Awards

Held yesterday, Michel Hazanavicius got this award for The Artist. Basically unknown to US audiences, Hazanavicius won over big-hitters Alexander Payne (The Descendants), David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Martin Scorsese (Hugo) and Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris). Isn't it a little bit like Tom Hooper winning last year for The King's Speech, over the likes of Christopher Nolan, Fincher, Darren Aronofsky and David O. Russell? Oh well, it is nice that they are rewarding foreign talent. However, I don't think that Hazanavicius has the Oscar under his beret just yet (I assume all French people wear berets, haha). After Scorsese's Golden Globe win, I wouldn't be too surprised if he took the award for his 'kids film'. His direction is pretty darn good (but what could we expect?) and he actually makes sense of the whole 3D thing. I think it will be a race between Hazanavicius and Scorsese down to the wire, and whoever gets the BAFTA will have the award locked down. But right now, I couldn't possibly pick a winner between them.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards

The first awards show (and probably the only show) I've watched this season in it's entirety provided a couple of fist-pumping moments for me. The first was when Jean Dujardin won Best Actor. No, I haven't yet seen The Artist, but anyone winning over George Clooney is good enough for me. I feel a bit mean for saying that, but in all honesty his performance in The Descendants wasn't what I would consider worthy of winning the awards. Getting nominated, sure, but winning? No. The second was when The Help won Best Ensemble. Unlike everyone else, I actually loved The Help, and thought that the performances in that film were wonderful. Outside of Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain, there were more performances that could have been nominated, like Bryce Dallas Howard's or Sissy Spacek's especially. Apparently it is naive or uneducated to say this, but that film definitely did have the best ensemble of the year, without a doubt.

Anyway, this set of awards have put a couple of things in perspective, but the rest still has a bit of a 'two-horse race' about it. We all know that Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer are going to get the Oscar. About the latter I'm feeling like there might be an upset - if The Artist hits big at the Oscars (which is will), then Berenice Bejo might be in with a chance. I would love to see Jessica Chastain getting something this season, though (just to see her perfect self up on that stage), but she has many years and awards ahead of her so I don't think she'll get much. However, I'm fairly sure that Spencer has it locked down. The leading categories, though, don't have a clear winner yet. Viola Davis may have won the award (as expected), but Meryl Streep could indeed still win - she's overdue for that third Oscar. Jean Dujardin has won a Golden Globe and this award, but let's not forget that George Clooney has got his Golden Globe and the Critics Choice Award. So they're basically neck and neck. I can definitely see Dujardin pulling the win over Clooney, given how much the Academy love The Artist and all. Which would be nice, for me. And let me just reiterate that The Help will not be winning Best Picture after the Ensemble win. Remember, they're rewarding the actors, not the film as a whole. So stop getting so touchy. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close still has the award locked down.

As for the awards show itself, it was just okay, pretty boring. I don't really know how you 'critique' awards show. But here are my favourite moments:

-The clip they showed of Maggie Smith for Downton Abbey (my life at the moment) was perfect. Best example of the Dowager Countess of Grantham.

-Any time in which Jessica Chastain was shown, particularly when Octavia won and when she was 'holding' Cicely Tyson onstage. She is a goddess.
-Owen Wilson's face when The Help won. I think I might have to change my 'Overwhelmed Owen' picture to that one, haha (someone GET ME A PHOTO OF THIS!!!)

-Armie Hammer's photobombing when Meryl Streep was on screen. He is such a loveable goofball, even if he did get arrested.

-The best of the best was when Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy came onstage to present Bridesmaids and their Scorsese drinking game. And then when Tina Fey took part with Steve Buscemi's wine. It is times like those when I wish I was an actor.

Otherwise, only one thing has changed for me today: I've become even further convinced that my life is inadequate because I am not Jessica Chastain.

What say you? Where do the guild awards leave the Oscar race?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

10 Oscar Fails in 2012

Every year, we get a set of Oscar nominations and there's always something to complain about. This year might just be a prime example of that. I did this post at the same time last year, so I figured I could do it again. So here are the snubs in top 10 order, the way I see them...

10. Best Original Score: The Chemical Brothers - Hanna

I may not have been the biggest fan of Hanna, but that score has been on replay on my iPod ever since I bought it in October. It is filled with so many strange sounds that take you to this fantastical place worlds away from here. It really is an out of this world score. Perhaps it is the absence of violins or other orchestral instruments that don't make it an obvious choice, but it was truly the best thing I'd heard since The Social Network's score. And how about 'Container Park'? That song makes me wish I was chasing down some evil people and beating the crap out of them. But then I've got to remember that I'm walking down the main street of Dannevirke.

9. Best Original Screenplay: Mike Mills - Beginners

I must admit, while I liked Beginners, I wasn't the hugest fan of it when I first saw it. Then I bought the DVD and I was completely taken away with it. While the performances at the front are all brilliant (it is so sad that Ewan McGregor is going unnoticed for his work), it is the somewhat personal script by writer/director Mike Mills shines through. It is raw and realistic - in many ways, what The Descendants ultimately failed to do for me. I particularly loved the "this is what .... looks like", and the fractured timeline. Not to mention the dialogue that Arthur got!

8. Best Animated Feature: The Adventures of Tintin

Don't quote me, but I thought that The Adventures of Tintin was all cleared to be eligible for this award. And hey, motion capture is the way of the future, so why wouldn't this be eligible? It may not have been perfect, but it was a bloody fun ride and I'd definitely pick this over Puss in Boots any day. The snub hurts...and it particularly hurts NZ, too. While everyone was crying foul over the more obvious snubs like Fassy, every news program in NZ kept going on about the Tintin snub. It's okay, we in NZ are used to being pushed aside and forgotten...

7. Best Picture: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

There were many deserving films that missed out on a Best Picture nomination - Drive, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo etc etc etc, but no snub hurts as bad as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. Say what you will about the series, but there have been some great films that have come out of it and they sure have a huge fanbase. This film was particularly good, becoming the highest grossing film of the year and one of the most critically acclaimed, too. But the reason that this film should have been nominated is the fact that it is literally the end of an era. The Harry Potter films have had their fair share of technical nominations, but this was the last chance it ever had to be nominated for something more. It seems like such a waste and a little offensive that they wouldn't give this last film an award that the series genuinely deserved. Oh well, the Academy are going to regret it in a few years.

6. Best Original Score: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Sure, they may have won last year and sure, this score isn't as good as The Social Network's, but their just about three hour long score is a beast. Literally. Starting with a cover of 'Immigrant Song' and ending with a brilliant vocal song called 'Is Your Love Strong Enough?', with plenty of dark ambient tones in between, this has the power to be at times either relaxing or terrifying. In some of the songs, I feel like I should be wearing a leather jacket and chasing after an Enya enthusiast, and in others, I feel like walking around like a badass. But just like The Social Network, the soundtrack makes me feel like a total badass when I'm typing. I definitely would have shafted both of the John Williams scores for this one and Hanna. Because with the War Horse one, if I played that whilst walking across a lush green field I wouldn't feel like a badass.

5. Best Actress: Kirsten Dunst - Melancholia

It is a little weird to think that Melancholia didn't get any Oscar recognition (but I think Lars von Trier kinda ruined that for himself), because it did deserve it. Especially deserving was Kirsten Dunst, who delivered my second favourite female performance of the year (the first being Rooney Mara, say what you will, she was amazing) as the depressive Justine who is out to destroy herself and everyone around her. Considering that Dunst went through a similar type of depression not so long ago, you have to praise her for revisiting what was probably a horrible time in her life in crippling fashion. Her performance was absolutely heart-breaking while making me hate her because of her nihilistic views of the world and how she ruins everything. I thought that her Cannes win would have given her some momentum, but alas, a truly great performance is forgotten in favour of mimicry from Meryl Streep.

4. Best Actor: Michael Fassbender - Shame

No, I haven't seen Shame. But I know enough. Michael Fassbender should have been nominated, goddamit. What pisses me off the most about this snub though, is the reason that an Academy voter gave to the LA Times: "He's a guy who's unfamiliar to a lot of people and did a movie that's really intimate. That was a super-brave performance but…perhaps it inspired people to fantasize, and not actually vote." All I have to say is fuck you. That is a bullshit excuse for not voting someone in. You're just too scared to nominate something so explicit and you're jealous because Michael Fassbender's penis is bigger than yours. Assholes.

3. Best Supporting Actor: Alan Rickman - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

I would have loved to have seen either Ralph Fiennes or Alan Rickman nominated for their brilliant work in the Harry Potter movies, but if we were going for just this one film, Alan Rickman deserved some recognition. He was one of the only actors who found consistency in his character right throughout the series. But it is in this particular film where he is given his time to shine (somewhat briefly, though), and he is absolutely heart-breaking. He is beyond amazing as Severus Snape that it makes me wonder why, in such a weak field, he didn't come forth as a proper competitor. Rickman's voice gives me the chills, too.

2. Best Director: Nicolas Winding Refn - Drive 

Give Refn a few years and a few more films like Drive, and I think he'll emerge as one of the best modern directors. Before Drive I saw Bronson, which I really disliked, but I LOVED his directorial style. With Drive, this is more of a Hollywood film with half of the budget, and he delivers with style. Calm, fresh style. The car chases aren't edited to incomprehensibility, and the really violent scenes are directed in slow-mo so they get under your skin. Add in the hand-picked 80s style soundtrack and you have so much badassery it is criminal. I look forward to what Refn has in store for us...he is awesome.

1. Best Editing: Senna

Okay, so it was never going to happen. And I'm still fuming that it didn't make to the Best Documentary shortlist. But let's look at it this way: the films nominated had a few hours of footage to edit into the story from the screenplay and add a bit of style. And for all we know, they did that well. Senna, however? That had footage from a man's entire LIFE to edit down. What it got edited down to was something pretty close to a normal looking narrative, and it doesn't even use interviews from the present day, just archival footage. It features some of the most phenomenal editing I've ever seen, and it would run rings around any of the other films and their editing released in 2011.

What are your Oscar fails of 2012?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

So, When Does Anyone Actually Get Abducted in Abduction?

Film: Abduction
Year: 2011
Director: John Singleton
Written by: Shawn Christensen
Starring: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Maria Bello, Jason Isaacs, Sigourney Weaver, Alfred Molina, Michael Nyqvist.
Running time: Far too long.

Hailing from the halls of all things awful in 2011, Abduction is the fifth film of the year to get the lowest of the low 1/10 from me. It joins such terrible films like The Roommate, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, The Hangover: Part II and Sucker Punch. But the difference that Abduction has is that Taylor Lautner aside, it had a half decent cast. Maria Bello, Jason Isaacs, Sigourney Weaver, Alfred Molina, and poor old Michael Nyqvist in his first big Hollywood role offer their names to Lautner's big post-Twilight debut. Also different is the fact that those four movies have titles that make sense to the story. Here, no-one actually gets abducted. Unless we're talking about the audience. Never before I have I wanted to turn off a movie so much - but no man shall get the better of my 'start watching it, finish watching it' rule.

Friday, January 27, 2012

AAN: SAG predictions w/ Fassy, Loki and Owen

NOTE: I hope you all like the new look. There's a few things that I will tweak tomorrow...I got a bit sick of looking at the template designer. What do you think of it?

Coming right off the back of the surprising Oscar nominations comes the equally surprising SAG awards. These awards are basically the last big Hollywood precursor awards before the Oscars, and usually whatever wins the Best Ensemble manages to get Best Picture too. In fact, whoever wins here will almost certainly go forth to get the little golden man. I'm getting in early to predict the SAGs, which are coming up in three days, with the help of Happy Fassy, Lowkey Loki and Overwhelmed Owen. Here are their meanings for the predictions:
Happy Fassy - Who I want to win. Doesn't mean that they will win, though.
Lowkey Loki - Who will win. The only prediction that should be taken seriously.
Overwhelmed Owen - Who won't win. If they do, it would be one hell of a surprise.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
The Artist / Bridesmaids / The Descendants / The Help / Midnight in Paris 

I know that The Help has no chance of winning Best Picture, especially when The Artist is around. But I think that SAG will go for The Help considering what a strong showing of great performances from women it has. What helps its case further is the fact that it has three individual cast members nominated: Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer. And beyond them, even more of the actresses could have been nominated (especially Bryce Dallas Howard, but I guess she was too mean). The Artist should give it a real run for it's money, so I wouldn't be too shocked if that took the top prize. If Midnight in Paris' 'ensemble' had all of the really great people in it (like Corey Stoll, Tom Hiddleston, Alison Pill...), then I'd be campaigning for that a lot more, but my heart is with The Help. The Descendants and Bridesmaids virtually have no chance.

The rest after the jump!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Will Find You and I Will Bring You Home

Film: War Horse
Year: 2011
Director: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Lee Hall and Richard Curtis
Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Celine Buckens, David Kross.
Running time: 146 min.

As you may remember from this post, I lost a horse who was very dear to me and I would give literally anything to have her back. So right from the start, War Horse was going to be a film which I would love. Which is also quite a bad thing, since whilst watching I failed to look at the movie from a critical, 'the-movie-snob-that-I've-become' standpoint. Instead, I was left in tears more often than not. And these moments of extreme emotion weren't because of the really sad parts. In fact, I found myself in tears right at the beginning when Albert (Jeremy Irvine) was teaching Joey to respond to his whistle. This is because I remember exactly what that was like, to build up a bond with a horse that no-one could possibly ever break. And I miss it. I miss everything about having a horse to call my own, whether it be just to wrap my arms around it's neck or head, or have it rubs it's nuzzle up against my face. It may sound stupid to anyone who has never owned a horse in their life, but when you spent 15 years of your life with them and now you're left with nothing, you would understand why there's a huge void in my heart. That's why the story of Albert having his horse taken off him (in the worst possible way - I know exactly how it feels to arrive home and find that my horse isn't there, and it isn't pretty) resonated with me so much, and why I loved War Horse practically more than anyone else did.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

AAN: My Thoughts on the Oscar Nominations w/ Fassy, Loki and Owen

So, I got up at 2.30am this morning to watch my first Oscar nominations being announced.
This is all I remember:
-Wondering how Max von Sydow came out of nowhere for that nomination.
-Being over the moon about Jessica Chastain's nomination, but getting more excited when I saw her picture was from The Tree of Life than her nomination actually being for The Help. Dunno why.
-Actually squealing when Rooney Mara got nominated. So loud that my puppy came in and barked at me and I woke up the whole house. Awkward.
-Ummmmmmmmmmmmm...Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close? LOL wut.
-Not being able to sleep until 4.30am because I was thinking over how the hell I could write this post, all the snubs and ranting with people on Facebook about it. If I was talking to you after the nominations, I was trying to get to sleep, but I could only count so many sheep (lyrical genius).

I slaved on a post like this ALL DAY last year and no one read it, so I'm a bit hesitant to go into too much detail. But I have waited until the talk has simmered down (and I went to Palmerston North today to see War Horse so that took away most of my day), so hopefully you still might have some interest. Anyway, hopefully you remember what Happy (well, not so happy anymore) Fassy, Lowkey Loki and Overwhelmed Owen mean. If not:
Happy Fassy - I am completely content with these nominations.
Lowkey Loki - Meh. I can't decide whether I'm happy or angry about these.
Overwhelmed Owen - Get. OUT.

Here we go...

Best Motion Picture of the Year

The Artist / The Descendants / Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close / The Help / Hugo / Midnight in Paris / Moneyball / The Tree of Life / War Horse
Predictions right: 6 out of 9. Didn't put War Horse and The Tree of Life in my final prediction of six, but put them in my second tier predictions (if that makes sense). But Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close only existed in my November predictions.

There's one thing I'm happy about here: I've watched six of these movies, which is better than I usually do. Moneyball comes out in three weeks, so I'll be watching that asap. The Artist may not make it to any cinemas near me. And Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close? Guess I'll have to see that now. I remember thinking that The Help and War Horse probably wouldn't get nominated because their RT ratings were in the 70% range. But no, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, with the 48% rating, gets in. Instead of the likes of Drive, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo...anything, really. I'm happy with the other eight nominees (well, not so happy about The Descendants but it was going to happen anyway), but the fact that there are only nine nominees and Extremely Loud was the one to take the ninth spot...it just makes me really peeved off. So that'd be a Lowkey Loki, thanks to that movie dragging things down (although I haven't seen it - I should stop being so mean).
But yay for The Tree of Life!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Demián Bichir for A Better Life / George Clooney for The Descendants / Jean Dujardin for The Artist / Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy / Brad Pitt for Moneyball
Predictions right: 3 out of 5. No Bichir or Oldman (thought he'd miss out by a hair).

I honestly thought they'd nominate Michael Fassbender. In fact, this is much like what happened with Christopher Nolan last year. I put up a Facebook status saying that he got a DGA nod and that he'd obviously get an Oscar nomination. But no. With Fassy, I told someone that if he didn't get nominated I'd go all Magneto on the voters. I only said that half-heartedly, because I didn't expect him to get snubbed. However, it happened, and that makes me extremely sad and incredibly angry. Maybe it is because the voters are just jealous of what he has and they don't. Leonardo DiCaprio also didn't get nominated. If he did, I would have just been like 'meh', but I feel really sorry for him. He tried his little heart out in that movie (I'm guessing), but at least I don't need to make a special point of seeing it in cinemas next week. However, what about Bichir? Talk about a nomination like Javier Bardem in last year's Biutiful. And I'm glad that Gary Oldman FINALLY got a nomination. As for the other three, we knew it was going to happen. Now I just hope George Clooney doesn't win.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs / Viola Davis for The Help / Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo / Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady / Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn
Predictions right: 4 out of 5. Left Rooney out because I wasn't positive it could happen.

I was so so so so happy when Rooney got nominated! But of all people for her to take the place of, I thought it would have been Glenn Close, not Tilda Swinton. Oh well. It is a little sad that Rooney got the nomination while Noomi Rapace got next to nothing for her Lisbeth Salander, but Rooney was freaking awesome so it doesn't matter. Rooney basically makes this category for me...as for the others, well, we knew it was all going to happen. I don't know how you could possibly pick between them. Although I would have loved to have seen some Kirsten Dunst love for Melancholia.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Kenneth Branagh for My Week with Marilyn / Jonah Hill for Moneyball / Nick Nolte for Warrior / Christopher Plummer for Beginners / Max von Sydow for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Predictions right: 4 out of 5. Anyone who predicted Max von Sydow deserves a medal.

I thought it was a risky move putting Nick Nolte into my predictions for Warrior, but it paid off. Max von Sydow, however? I may have seen it back in November when I thought Extremely Loud was going to be a good movie and whatnot, but I thought that Albert Brooks had it locked down. Not to be. No Brooks, which practically shut out the very deserving Drive. I've said time and time again that there were so many great options that everyone was refusing to go with, and the Oscars went that way, too. It is pretty weird that Jonah Hill is now 'Oscar nominee Jonah Hill', but I guess the time had to come. Anyway, we all know that Christopher Plummer is going to win, and it better happen that way.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role 

Bérénice Bejo for The Artist / Jessica Chastain for The Help / Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids / Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs / Octavia Spencer for The Help
Predictions right: 4 out of 5. Honestly didn't think they'd go with Melissa McCarthy.

It all started with that Emmy. And then everyone decided that it would be a great idea to campaign Melissa McCarthy for Best Supporting Actress. I kept telling myself that it wouldn't work because Oscars don't generally go for comedies, but it happened. While I should be happy that the Oscars are making a change, I just can't go along with this nomination. Especially when it came at the expense of Shailene Woodley, who was probably the only thing I really liked about The Descendants. Who also out-acted George Clooney, who is probably going to win the fucking Oscar this year. But at least we have Jessica Chastain, who just so happens to be the definition of perfect. Look at it this way: this is the day when Jessica got her first ever Oscar nomination. We can look back on this day in our old age and she'll probably be like Meryl Streep.

Everything else after the jump!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Shut Up, Katherine Heigl, You Little Liar!

Film: Friends with Benefits
Year: 2011
Director: Will Gluck
Written by: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman and Will Gluck.
Starring: Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Bryan Greenberg, Richard Jenkins, Woody Harrelson, Nolan Gould, Andy Samberg, Emma Stone.
Running time: 109 min.

Remember that movie No Strings Attached, which was released just after Natalie Portman got an Oscar, seemingly undoing all of her good work? Well, Natalie Portman wasn't the only Black Swan star looking for an easy, breezy romantic comedy just after working her ass off on the psycho ballerina horror. Mila Kunis had Friends with Benefits, which incidentally runs along the same lines as No Strings Attached. It is a bit like comparing the original to the remake, but the Oscar-less Mila comes out on top, here. Friends with Benefits is smarter, funnier and it also benefits from the absence of Ashton Kutcher and the presence of Justin Timberlake. Sorry, Natalie - like Nina, your No Strings Attached was much too tame and shy. Friends with Benefits, however, like Lily, was 'not faking it'.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Final Oscar Predictions are Up!

The Oscar nominations are up this week. How is this happening? I still can't get over the fact that we're in 2012 and I have to go back to school soon (major sadface). Anyway, with the nominations just around the corner, I have completed my predictions of them. I'm not confident with the technical awards - they're always so hard to predict properly.

As my Oscar viewing goes, I've seen surprisingly a few of the movies in contention, with War Horse this week and hopefully Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy soon (providing the cinemas put it on at better times). There's still a few to see in February, but some of them probably won't even make it to our cinemas (like The Artist, which seems to be a bit absent from the 'Coming Soon' listings in NZ cinemas). However, hopefully I get the large majority of them down by Oscar time!

Check out my predictions here. Let's see how many of them I get right!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Short Life of an Oscar Hit

When Steven Spielberg got up to present Best Picture at last year's Oscars, he said this: "In a moment, one of these ten movies will join a list that includes On the Waterfront, Midnight Cowboy, The Godfather and The Deer Hunter. The other nine will join a list that includes The Grapes of Wrath, Citizen Kane, The Graduate and Raging Bull!" Among the films that joined the latter list were Inception, The Social Network, and Black Swan. The film that joined the former list was The King's Speech. Anyone remember that film? Does anyone still talk about it today in a conversation about something other than why it shouldn't have won? Has it left a mark on cinematic history? Does it deserve to be in a list that includes The Godfather? If you'd have asked the latter two questions this time last year, lots of people would have said yes. Now, reflecting on last year's Oscar season, most people would have given the award to anything but The King's Speech.

Here's the thing with awards season: everyone gets quite obsessed with a set of movies, and they're all that matters for a long time. The producers and advertising team manipulate you into thinking these are the best movies ever by drowning their TV spots in "WINNER OF..." "★★★★★!" "UP FOR X OSCARS!" They'll play the most epic orchestral music they can find, show you plenty of tears and hugs and sentiment. The posters won't be advertising the movie...they'll be advertising all the awards it has and the awards it is hoping to get. I am one of those people who does get easily manipulated by awards season advertising...I admit, I was taken in by the TV spots of The King's Speech with Colin Firth announcing "because I have a voice!", going as far to Facebook the quote and say that it was a magical movie. I loved seeing the triumphant looking advertisements for The Fighter and probably got more inspiration from them than I did from the actual movie. 127 Hours had me crying at the very mention of it's name amongst all of the Oscar buzz - not because it was bad, but it was exactly the type of human hardship movie that Oscar likes so much and that was manipulative. I spent around two months of last year talking non-stop about these movies. Now, they'd be lucky to get into the conversation.

It isn't because they're bad movies, because, in fact, I liked all of the ten nominees, and held at least five of them in particular high esteem, but there isn't really any burning need for me to keep talking about them now. Basically, my relationship with these movies ended long ago. With the exception of Winter's Bone (I do own it - I actually own all of the nominees - but just haven't got around to watching it again), I've seen each of last year's nominees at least twice. I watched them when they first came out, and then again when they came out on DVD. After their DVD release though, I haven't watched most of them again. In fact, the only ones that I've watched since then are Inception, Black Swan and The Social Network, three films which I loved to death and had their fair share of Oscar success, but didn't get the big prize. These are three films which I feel have lived out past the awards season and people still talk about them a bit today - and why is that? Inception for the multiple questions surrounding the plot and the big debate over the end, Black Swan for it's stirring look at how someone can transform and Darren Aronofsky's freaking awesome direction, and The Social Network for being one of the best modern movies ever, taking a look at the phenomenon that is Facebook. But what is The King's Speech? It tells a nice enough story about a King with a stutter who eventually overcame his fear, featuring splendid performances from Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush. Problem is, while I don't have much of a problem with the odd period biopic, they don't challenge cinema in any way. They're doing what has been done for ages, and yet they still get accolades. But once those accolades are over, people are unlikely to remember them, because they were too safe.

Let's take 2011, for example. With the Oscar nominations just around the corner, there'll be a lot of deserving movies that will be missing out. As I said in my review of The Descendants, it is a film that will be popular during awards season but people will forget about it just like that. I imagine that would be the same case for films like Moneyball or War Horse. However, Hollywood is showing a bit of a change - they're not so keen to support period biopics like The Iron Lady, J. Edgar or My Week with Marilyn unless it is for the performances at the front. There are a few odd films making their way into Oscar contention, like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (even though Fincher and Co. are trying everything they can to stop it from happening), shockingly an R-rated comedy, Bridesmaids, is making some waves and silent film The Artist is the front-runner to win Best Picture. I have to wonder whether this film might become another The King's Speech, even though it is silent and in black and white which provides a bit of difference, but other than that, is it really that special? Who knows?

2011 has been an odd year in cinema, which is most likely what it will be remembered for - and it would be nice if the Oscar nominations could reflect that as they become the first segment of cinematic history that people will look at in the future. Yet, I can't see the Academy showering love upon Terrence Malick's beautiful, polarizing The Tree of Life. Or what about Steve McQueen's NC-17 look at sex addiction in Shame? Or maybe the 'film event of a generation', the wonderful Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2? The wonderful Nikhat mentioned that 2011 was a nostalgia-filled year, with films like Midnight in Paris, Drive, Super 8 and Hugo...these are films that should stand the test of time because they realise times from the past and teach us modern people about them and what we can learn from them. I know it is impossible to accurately predict the future, but the Oscars shouldn't keep rewarding the best movies of the past two months and start thinking about the movies that will factor in as some of the best movies of all time.

I've always wondered how something like An American in Paris won Best Picture over A Streetcar Named Desire. Or Chariots of Fire over Raiders of the Lost Ark. Or Forrest Gump (a good movie) over the better The Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction. Slumdog Millionaire over an un-nominated The Dark Knight. The King's Speech over The Social Network. And definitely Crash over Brokeback Mountain. I wonder which one of those films is remembered the most now.

The Oscars are an interesting thing - they get easily obsessed with one film, whether it be through the manipulative marketing or by the actual film. Then we all wonder how they could be so blind as to not nominate some great films. Of course, the Oscars aren't everything, but to relatively young newcomers to film-loving such as myself, they are the first records of what was good in year X that I'd go to. So I wonder what 2011 films will make it through the Oscars and into a long, prosperous life?

What do you think? Do you think Oscar hits are destined for a long life of being loved by the masses or do they end their lives quickly? Discuss.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Come and Dream with Me.

Film: Hugo
Year: 2011
Director: Martin Scorsese
Written by: John Logan
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Helen McCrory, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jude Law.
Running time: 126 min.

Here it is. Martin Scorsese's first foray into the dreaded world of 3D, which also happens to be a kids movie. But is Hugo really a kids movie? No. Here is a movie that kids could probably watch, but by the several high-pitched murmurs I heard from the few kids at the viewing, I don't think that they were all that enthralled. Yet, between all of the recycled chases through the train station and a villain who is perhaps just there for the sake of  having a villain, we have Martin Scorsese's extremely personal love letter to cinema and all of its magic. It is a movie that could prove enjoyable to the adults, who choose to see through its many flaws and see a passionate look at film shine through. There is nostalgia everywhere, both in the way of going to the cinemas for the first time, or having a nice, family friendly adventure just like they used to make them - without talking animals. But for kids, if they're not enthralled, get them at the right age and they might take something very special away from it: going to the movies is a magical experience, and it always has been. However, that is a message that doesn't even get recognised until the second half of the movie.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Do They Think We're Immune to Life?

Film: The Descendants
Year: 2011
Director: Alexander Payne
Written by: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Patricia Hastie, Beau Bridges, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard.
Running time: 115 min.
This is out in New Zealand cinemas on January 26th.

One of the things I don't like about awards season is that there are films that are big hits, getting lots of nominations and stuff and becoming everyone's favourite movie. Then awards season ends, and those movies are forgotten about. The Descendants is one that I feel will become that way. It is getting a lot of buzz, even winning the Best Motion Picture - Drama award at the Golden Globes and numerous accolades for the lead, George Clooney. Yet, while everyone is quick to shower love upon this movie, I am a little more hesitant. Maybe it is because I haven't seen an Alexander Payne movie before, so I'm unfamiliar with his 'easy breezy style' of making movies. The thing is, I just don't know why this movie didn't do anything for me. I might be unpopular in the blogosphere - but this is what the lady sitting next to me said as soon as it finished: "that was so overrated. If George Clooney gets the Oscar this year, it will be such a disappointment. Now Ryan Gosling was fantastic, he should definitely win. He was way better in his movie." I was going to intervene and give her a lecture on how the Gos is unfortunately going to miss out this year because of all of the competition, but I said the exact same thing to my Dad (minus the Gos part). Which made me feel bad, but since I'd just watched a movie that lives and breathes honesty as a way of combating lies (and maybe all feeling), it only felt fitting.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Some Heroes Are Real.

Film: Drive
Year: 2011
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by: Hossein Amini
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Kaden Leos, Russ Tamblyn.
Running time: 100 min.

With a title like Drive, you'd instantly expect it to be filled with car chases which coincidentally have guns involved and then the cars explode and this is what we call entertainment. Some lady thought that and went as far as to sue the makers because it wasn't like Fast & Furious. She is silly. Drive is the kind of movie that happens slowly, yet realistically. You don't expect one person to possibly go through lots of car chases and explosions just because they're mildly talented at driving a car, right? No. Drive follows the unnamed Driver (Ryan Gosling), who is a Hollywood stunt driver by day, and moonlighting as a getaway driver for robberies by night. He falls for his neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan), who has a son and a husband in jail. Her husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac) gets out of jail, and it turns out that trouble has followed him so he asks the Driver to help him out with a routine robbery. As it goes wrong, the Driver discovers that there's a bag of money at stake and there are some gangsters after Irene and her son, who the Driver is keen to protect.

AAN: The BAFTA nominations w/ Fassy, Loki and Owen

I was going to do a Golden Globes recap, but it didn't make much sense since I never saw the show and every man and his dog has blogged about it. All I have to say is this: if The Descendants wins Best Picture or Best Actor, I'll be fuming. I'm one of the few who wasn't terribly impressed by it or by the Cloon's performance. There, I'm unpopular.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on the BAFTAs and how they'll affect the Oscar race, along with Fassy, Loki and Owen in some of the categories (not all, because there are a lot).

Best Film

The Artist / The Descendants / Drive / The Help / Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

YAY for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy! I haven't seen the film, but I am glad that it is finally getting some love. I thought it would be a huge player in the awards race, but it has been virtually non-existent. Such a shame, as it looks so great. And yay for Drive. I will be reviewing that film later tonight, and it was really good. I'm a bit surprised by The Help's nomination, since there are some far better films than that out there, but I'm happy for the inclusion. The Artist and The Descendants are pretty much locks for Best Picture, and The Artist will definitely win. As for The Descendants, meh. This is a brilliant line-up, so I'll give it the Happy Fassy.

Best Director

Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist / Nicolas Winding Refn - Drive / Martin Scorsese - Hugo / Tomas Alfredson - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy / Lynne Ramsay - We Need to Talk About Kevin

What I love about this category is the fact that these directors are nominated because they created wonderful, visual, atmospheric films, unlike the directors who are just nominated because their films are in the best picture category (you know, like Alexander Payne for The Descendants or Steven Spielberg for War Horse). I've only seen Drive and Hugo, but those two are some of the most well-directed films I've seen from 2011, Drive for the style and Hugo for the pretty visuals. Hazanavicius is nominated because he dared to make a silent film, and Alfredson and Ramsay are probably nominated for the atmosphere they create in their films. These nominations are what the directors category should aspire to be, not the ones where directors become a default nomination just because their film is nominated for Best Picture.

Leading Actor

Brad Pitt - Moneyball / Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy / George Clooney - The Descendants / Jean Dujardin - The Artist / Michael Fassbender - Shame

Even though it doesn't have Leonardo DiCaprio, this is one bloody good line-up. Sure, I'm pretty meh about George Clooney (I mean, he was quite good, but I don't think he quite deserves to be winning all of these awards), but he is lock whether I like it or not. What I'm most glad to see, though, is Gary Oldman getting some love, finally, as I thought that this would be his year. How does he keep missing out?! I have a feeling that Michael Fassbender has a huge chance here, considering the Brits will be more likely to shower love upon Shame than anyone else. But this should be Pitt's year, though that is looking more and more unlikely. Dujardin could be the upset, though. I love this category!

Leading Actress

Berenice Bejo - The Artist / Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady / Michelle Williams - My Week with Marilyn / Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin / Viola Davis - The Help

Interesting to see that Bejo, a Supporting Actress regular, is in this category. The BAFTAs like to do this a lot, though. This is pretty much our average category, with Streep likely to take the award home. I'm a bit sad that Rooney Mara is getting forgotten a lot for her excellent performance in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but there seems to be a slight aversion to young, up-and-coming actresses like her, Felicity Jones or Elizabeth Olsen. I'm pretty 'meh' about this category overall, probably because I have only seen The Help. I could go and see The Iron Lady, but I'm not going to pay to see Meryl Streep be great but everything else not living up to her.

Rest of the nominees after the jump...


Related Posts with Thumbnails