Saturday, February 25, 2012

Oscar Predictions

-Tonight is game time. All the prognostication and "expert" opinions come to a close and the winners names are announced tonight. This year is unlike other recent years in that a majority of the categories feel wide open with several nominees capable of winning. That means that it is also one of the harder years to put together a list of predictions as I am sure that tonight will bring many surprises with it. However, filling out a ballot is a necessity, so I will give it my best shot in the hopes of having some bragging rights come Monday morning. Enjoy the show.

Best Picture:

Prediction- The Artist
My Vote- The Artist

Best Director:

Prediction- Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
My Vote- Michel Hazanivicius (The Artist)

Best Actor:

Prediction- Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
My Vote- Ryan Gosling (Drive- Not Nominated)

Best Actress:

Prediction- Viola Davis (The Help)
My Vote- Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)

Best Supporting Actor:

Prediction- Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
My Vote- Albert Brooks (Drive- Not Nominated)

Best Supporting Actress:

Prediction- Octavia Spencer (The Help)
My Vote- Jessica Chastain (The Help)

Best Original Screenplay:

Prediction- Midnight in Paris
My Vote- Midnight in Paris

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Prediction- The Descendants
My Vote- Moneyball

Best Art Direction:

Prediction- Hugo
My Vote- Hugo

Best Cinematography:

Prediction- Tree of Life
My Vote- War Horse

Best Costume Design:

Prediction- The Artist
My Vote- The Artist

Best Editing:

Prediction- The Artist
My Vote- The Artist

Best Makeup:

Prediction- The Iron Lady
My Vote- The Iron Lady

Best Score:

Prediction- War Horse
My Vote- War Horse

Best Song:

Prediction- Man or Muppet (The Muppets)
My Vote- No Idea

Sound Mixing:

Prediction- Hugo
My Vote- Hugo

Sound Editing:

Prediction- Hugo
My Vote- Hugo

Visual Effects:

Prediction- Rise of the Planet of the Apes
My Vote- Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Best Animated Film:

Prediction- Rango
My Vote- Abstain

Best Foreign Film:

Prediction- A Separation (Iran)
My Vote- Abstain

Best Documentary Film:

Prediction- Pina
My Vote- Abstain

Best Live Action Short:

Prediction-Time Freak
My Vote- Don't Care

Best Animated Short:

Prediction- La Luna
My Vote- Don't Care

Best Documentary Short:

Prediction- God is Bigger than Elvis
My Vote- Don't Care

Final Prediction Tally:
The Artist- 5 wins
Hugo- 3 wins
The Help- 2 wins
The Descendants- 1 win
Midnight in Paris- 1 win
Tree of Life- 1 win
Beginners- 1 win
The Iron Lady- 1 win
War Horse- 1 win
Rise of the Planet of the Apes- 1 win
The Muppets- 1 win
Rango- 1 win
A Separation- 1 win
Pina- 1 win
La Luna- 1 win
God is Bigger than Elvis- 1 win
Time Freak- 1 win

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Break From the Oscars: A Look at 2012

-During Oscar season it is easy to lose sight of what has happened in the world of film since December 31st. Since it is already mid February, and the fact that I saw two very good movies this past week that are 2012 entries, it got me thinking about what movies there are to look forward to in the coming year. So after doing a little research, I wanted to share some upcoming releases for 2012 that I am excited about along with my expected Top 10. It is entirely possible or even probably that some of these movies won't even make it into theaters this year, and it is a guaranteed certainty that some of them will just be bad movies. There will also be great films that will emerge that aren't on the radar right now, but it is always fun to look ahead and see what the coming year has to offer.

Must See Movies of 2012:


Haywire- (Dir- Steven Soderberg: Starring- Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton and Michael Douglas) Looks a lot like the female version of the Bourne series. A female government agent is set up and betrayed, and then goes on a revenge spree to find answers. Typically movies like this that are released in January are very formulaic and cliched, but I have heard a lot of good things about this one. It also doesn't hurt that there are so many talented people involved. Trailer

Red Tails- (Dir- Anthony Hemingway: Starring- Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrance Howard and Bryan Cranston) Documents some of the history and missions of the Tuskegee airmen during WWII. A group of African American fighter pilots try to gain respect as they bravely fought for their country in a military that didn't view them as equals. The rumor is that the dogfight scenes are visually stunning, but the movie falls flat with a weak plot and plodding dialogue when the movie is on the ground. Trailer

The Grey (Already Saw)- (Dir-Joe Carnahan: Starring- Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo and Dermot Mulroney) One of the best survival movies I have ever seen. This movie is so much more than the action adventure movie the previews make it out to be. The psychology of the human will to live and the dynamic between a group of men struggling for survival is as interesting as the stark contrast between the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness and the deadly reality it presents. Neeson's performance pulls it from a good movie to a great one, and I would not be surprised if this movie sticks in my top 10 for the entirety of the year. Trailer

Other January Releases of Note- Contraband, Man on a Ledge, Underworld: Awakenings, One for the Money


Safe House- (Dir-Daniel Espinosa: Starring- Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Sam Shepard, Brendon Gleeson and Vera Farmiga) After the integrity of a government safehouse is compromised the agent on duty must take the high profile detainee on a wild ride to escape the people that want them dead. I have to admit that I would see just about anything with Denzel Washington in it, but this movie does look like it could be pretty formulaic. Trailer

The Vow (Already Saw)- (Dir-Michael Sucsy: Starring- Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) Following a tragic accident that leaves Paige with brain trauma and loss of memory, her husband attempts to reconnect with her and make her fall back in love with him even though she has no memory of their life together. Based on a real life couple it was somewhat encouraging to see a chick-flick based on real love and committment as opposed to lust and emotions. A perfect date night movie that feels original and touching instead of corny and cookie-cutter. Trailer

Act of Valor- (Dir- Mouse McCoy and Scott Waugh: Starring- Active Duty Navy SEALs, Roselyn Sanchez and Alex Veadov) I am really excited to take in this movie that uses real life active duty Navy SEALs to play their parts in a Hollywood story based on real world SEAL missions. Trailer

Other February Releases of Note- Big Miracle, Chronicle, The Woman in Black, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Secret World of Arrietty, This Means War, Gone, Wanderlust, Good Deeds


Being Flynn- (Dir- Paul Weitz: Starring- Robert DeNiro, Paul Dano, Olivia Thrilby and Julianne Moore) A struggling young writer comes face to face with his con man father who also fancies himself a writer. As they struggle to reconnect they learn a lot about each other and themselves. Trailer

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen- (Dir- Lasse Hallstrom: Starring- Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor and Kristin Scott Thomas) In order to fulfill his dream, a wealthy shiek enlist the help of his representative and a fisheries expert to create a salmon fishing farm in the middle of the Yemenese desert. Trailer

The Hunger Games (Top 10)- (Dir- Gary Ross: Starring- Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Toby Jones and Donald Sutherland) It is always a risky proposition to bring a beloved book series to the movie screen, but if there was ever a novel tailor made for film treatment it is The Hunger Games. Set in a dystopian future where a majority of population works to provide for The Capital, a young girl unwittingly starts a revolution based on her defiance in the gladiatorial Hunger Games. Trailer

Other March Releases of Note- Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, John Carter, Jeff Who Lives at Home, Casa de mi Padre, Mirror Mirror, Wrath of the Titans, The Deep Blue Sea.


Lock Out- (Dir- James Mather and Stephen St. Leger: Starring- Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace) A government agent is tasked with rescuing the President's daughter from a space station prison that has been taken over by the convicts. This basically seems like a futuristic remake of Escape from New York. Trailer

The Five Year Engagement- (Dir- Nicholas Stoller: Starring- Jason Segel and Emily Blunt) A romantic comedy that has the potential to exceed the expectations of the genre. An engaged couple experience the ups and downs of relationships as they continually postpone their engagement so the bride to be can focus on her career. Trailer

The Raven- (James McTeigue: Starring- John Cusack and Brendan Gleeson) A thriller based on the life of Edgar Allen Poe, and who better to cast as Poe than John Cusack? Trailer

Other April Releases of Note- The Lucky Ones, American Reunion, The Cold Light of Day, The Three Stooges, Cabin in the Woods.


The Avengers- (Dir- Josh Whedon: Starring- Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremey Renner, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Hiddleston). This summer the gang is all together. Paramount has spent the last 5 years giving us solo movies to introduce these characters and now they will all have to vie for screen time. Hopefully the movie is as good as the sum of its parts and doesn't get lost in trying to be too much. Trailer

Dark Shadows- (Dir- Tim Burton: Starring- Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jackie Earle Haley, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green and Chloe Grace Moretz). I'll always give a Burton/Depp collaboration a chance because occasionally they find gold. This one is a horror/adventure as a vampire played by Depp encounters monsters and other supernatural beings.

Battleship- (Dir- Peter Berg: Starring- Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna and Liam Neeson). Loosely based on the popular board game. A naval armada is unwittingly drawn into a deadly game against an alien enemy on the high seas. Trailer

Moonrise Kingdom- (Dir-Wes Anderson: Starring- Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton and Harvey Keitel). A quick look at Wes Anderson's filmography leaves little doubt at his affinity for quirky, eccentric storylines, and this film appears no different. At its core it is a story about boy and girl who run away together while the inept adults search for them. Trailer

Other May Releases of Note- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Dictator, What to Expect When You are Expecting, Men in Black 3.


Snow White and the Huntsman- (Dir- Rupert Sanders: Starring- Kirsten Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth and Toby Jones). Snow White is getting the movie treatment twice this year, and this one looks to be the far superior take. An epic version of the classic fairy tale that portrays Snow White as a warrior princess attempting to vanquish the evil witch. Trailer

Prometheus (Top 10)- (Dir- Ridley Scott: Starring- Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce and and Charlize Theron). Ridley Scott returns to his sci-fi roots to bring what many people are describing as the prequel to his masterpiece Alien. A group of space explorers set out to find the origins of life only to discover something far more sinister. The visuals alone in the film should be worth the price of admission. Trailer

Rock of Ages (Top 10)- (Dir- Adam Shankman: Starring- Tom Cruise, Mary J. Blige, Julianne Hough, Alec Baldwin, Paul Giamatti, Russell Brand, Malin Akerman and Catherine Zeta Jones). I have to admit that I am beyond excited for this fun loving musical. Set in LA during the heyday of rocknroll as it explores the cultural and social implications of rocknroll from a variety of angles. Trailer

Brave- (Dir- Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman). 2011 was the first year in almost a decade that didn't have a critically acclaimed animated movie from the geniuses at Pixar. They are looking to get back on track in 2012 with this animated adventure which will introduce the studios first heroine. Trailer

GI Joe Retaliation- (Dir- John Chu: Starring- Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis). Despite the fact that the first GI Joe movie was largely hated by critics, I will always have a soft spot for these characters that I grew up with. Here's hoping that the second installment provides a little more depth to go along with fun. Trailer

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World- (Dir- Lorene Scarfaria: Starring- Steve Carrell, Keira Knightley and Adam Brody). As an asteroid hurtles toward Earth and mankind comes to grasp with its impending demise, a man and his neighbor set out on a road trip to connect with lost loves. Trailer

Other June Releases of Note- That's My Boy, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer, Magic Mike.


The Amazing Spider Man- (Dir- Marc Webb: Starring- Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifan, Martin Sheen, Denis Leary and Sally Field). Some will argue that it is way to soon for a reboot of this franchise given that Tobey Maguire portrayed Spidey just a few years ago. However, based on the talent level involved here and the promise for a darker take on the tale (Similar to Nolan's take on Batman), I for one can't wait to give it a chance. Trailer

Savages- (Dir- Oliver Stone: Starring- Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Torre, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch and Demian Bichir). Despite the fact that Oliver Stone is a controversial figure and has a hard time keeping his politics out of his movies, occasionally he makes a great movie. This film will deal with a pair of "entrepreneur" pot growers who go to war with the Mexican drug cartels after their girlfriend is kidnapped.

The Dark Knight Rises (Top 10)- (Dir-Christopher Nolan: Starring- Christian Bale, Michale Caine, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Marion Cotillard). Easily the movie I am looking forward to the most this year. Nolan completely changed the way action movies are made and thought about critically. If the trailer has anything to say it appears this installment will have a lot of political undertones given the current state of the country and upcoming election. It will be hard to match the success of his first two takes on the Caped Crusader, but considering he has already said this will be his last Batman, I am guessing it will go out with a huge bang. Trailer

Other July Releases of Note- Ted, Ice Age Continental Drift, The Marriage Counselor.


The Bourne Legacy- (Dir- Tony Gilroy: Starring- Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton and Joan Allen). Tony Gilroy will attempt to continue the successful action series without Matt Damon as the story shifts to a different agent played by rising superstar Jeremy Renner. Trailer

Great Hope Springs- (Dir- David Frankel: Starring- Meryl Streep, Steve Carell and Tommy Lee Jones). A married couple of 30 years decides to undergo intense marriage counseling to save their relationship.

Premium Rush- (Dir- David Koepp: Starring- Joseph Gordon Levitt and Michael Shannon). I feel like Joseph Gordon Levitt is in about a dozen movies this year. This one involves him as a bike messenger being chased by a dirty cop trying to retrieve one of his packages. Trailer

The Wettest County- (Dir- John Hillcoat: Starring- Shia LeBeouf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain). Set in Depression era Virginia, a bootlegging gang battles the local authorities.

Other August Releases of Note- Total Recall, Dog Fight, The Odd Life of Timothy Green.


Argo (Top 10)- (Dir- Ben Affleck: Starring- Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Taylor Schilling). Ben Affleck is back for his third directing project, and considering the success of the first two I can't wait. A look at the CIA exfiltration mission to rescue American citizens from Iran during the revolution that was disguised as a Hollywood film project.

Cogan's Trade- (Dir- Andrew Dominik: Starring- Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Sam Rockwell, Richard Jenkins and Sam Shepard). A mob enforcer is tasked with investigating the circumstances surrounding a heist of a family protected poker game.

Looper- (Dir- Rian Johnson: Starring- Joseph Gordon Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt and Paul Dano). A futuristic sci-fi movie where a mob assassin travels back in time to dispatch his targets.

Trouble with the Curve- (Dir- Robert Lorenz: Starring- Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman). An aging baseball scout attempts to reconnect with his daughter on one last recruiting road trip.

Other September Releases of Note- Resident Evil Retribution, Dredd, Won't Back Down.


Gangster Squad (Top 10)- (Dir- Ruben Fleischer: Starring- Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi, Nick Nolte and Anthony Mackie). It doesn't get more exciting than this. Set in LA during the 1940s, the LAPD goes to war with the east coast gangster families to keep them out of the City of Angels.

Of Men and Mavericks- (Dir- Curtis Hansen: Starring- Gerard Butler). A surfer sets out to find the huge waves of Northern California known as mavericks.

Atlast Shrugged Pt 2- (Dir-Unknown: Starring- Unknown). This is the second part of three of the popular Ayn Rand novel. The first part was a little seen film from last year that I really enjoyed especially with how small a budget it had given it didn't have a studio backing it. The grass roots popularity of the first one led to the interest of some studios and reports are the next two will have much larger budgets and marketing campaigns.

Other October Releases of Note- Butter, The Big Wedding, Alex Cross, Cloud Atlas


Red Dawn- (Dir- Dan Bradley: Starring- Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson and Jeffrey Dean Morgan). A remake of the 1980s classic about a group of young friends who band together to fight off the North Koreans (Not the Russians this time around) who have invaded the USA.

Skyfall- (Dir- Sam Mendes: Starring- Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Javier Bardem and Albert Finney). Bond, James Bond is back.

Gravity- (Dir- Alfonso Cuaron: Starring- Sandra Bullock and George Clooney). Cuaron is known for his artistic mastery of cinematography and set design and this movie looks like it could be a great canvas for him to play on. A space mission to repair the Hubble telescope goes wrong and the lone survivor attempts to make it back home.

The Silver Linings Playbook- (Dir- David O. Russell: Starring- Bradley Cooper, Julia Stiles and Robert DeNiro). Upon his recent release from a mental institution, an ex-teacher attempts to reconnect with his past.

Other November Releases of Note- Three Mississippi, My Mother's Curse, The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Pt. 2, Rise of the Guardians, Ronin 47, Parental Guidance.


Lincoln (Top 10)- (Dir- Steven Spielberg: Starring- Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Jackie Earl Haley and John Hawkes) The greatest American President is brought to life by the greatest American film director. This movie is easily the frontrunner for Best Picture of 2012 on paper, hopefully it lives up to the potential

Les Miserables- (Dir- Tom Hooper: Starring- Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter) Fresh off his Best Director for A King's Speech, Hopper will next try to bring the classic stage play to the big screen. Given the who's who list of actors this could be a major player come awards time.

The Hobbit an Unexpected Journey (Top 10)- (Dir- Peter Jackson: Starring- Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett and Andy Serkis) 9 years after the release of Lord of the Rings, the much anticipated return of Peter Jackson to middle earth is here. Split into two movies, the first half of The Hobbit will reunite Jackson with some of his former cast to bring the prequel of The Lord of the Rings to the big screen. Trailer

Killing Osama Bin Laden- (Dir- Kathryn Bigelow: Starring- Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgarton, Christ Pratt and Mark Strong). Kathryn Bigelow jumps back into the War on Terror after she struck gold with The Hurt Locker. This time she is examining the hunt for Bin Laden and the mission that led to his death.

This is Forty- (Dir- Judd Apatow: Starring- Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Albert Brooks, Jason Segel, Megan Fox and Melissa McCarthy). A spin off of his best film (In my opinion) Knocked Up, Apatow returns to the lives of Pete and Debbie a few years after the events of the last movie as they try to raise a family and cope with getting older.

World War Z- (Dir- Marc Forster: Starring- Brad Pitt, David Morse and Matthew Fox). Based on the best selling novel, a UN representative travels the globe trying to stop a zombie pandemic.

Django Unchained (Top 10)- (Dir- Quentin Tarantino: Starring- Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Samuel L. Jackson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Christopher Waltz, Kurt Russell, Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington). After diving into a Jewish group of soldiers fighting Nazi's in WWII, Tarantino will next take on the topic of slavery in the deep south. A slave turned bounty hunter attempts to rescue his wife from a Mississippi plantation owner. Its a Tarantino movie so expect graphic violence and political incorrectness... Can't wait.

The Great Gatsby (Top 10)- (Dir- Baz Luhrmann: Starring- Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgarton, Isla Fisher and Tobey Maguire). The F. Scott Fitzgerald classic about the aristocratic lifestyle of New York wealthy during the roaring 20's. Look for this one to cash in on the Oscar nominations next year.

Other December Releases of Note- Hunter Killer, Life of Pi, Playing the Field

Enjoy your year at the movies!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nomination Thoughts (The Big 8)

- With the announcement of the Oscar nominees for 2011 released last Tuesday it is officially Oscar season. A lot of the categories went mostly as anticipated but there were several surprises and of course perceived snubs. Lets dig into the list of nominees:

Best Picture:

-The Artist
-The Descendants
-The Help
-Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
-War Horse
-Tree of Life
-Midnight in Paris

Thoughts- 8 of the 9 nominees were in my predicted 10. The only one that made it in that I didn't predict was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close which was in my personal top 10 so I was pretty happy about that one. The only flaw here is the exclusion of Drive which I consider a huge snub. Drive was one of the slickest, retro-cool movies of the year and has already developed a large cult following which will probably make it one of the more remembered films of the year. With the way the other nominations came out The Artist is the prohibitive favorite trailed closely by Hugo with The Descendants, Moneyball, Midnight in Paris and The Help as long shots. Tree of Life, War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will have to be happy with their nominations because they have no shot.

Best Director:

-Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) (1st Nomination)
-Alexander Payne (The Descendants) (2nd Nomination for Directing)
-Martin Scorsese (Hugo) (7th Nomination for Directing/ 1 Previous win for The Departed)
-Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris) (7th Nomination for Directing/ 1 Previous win for Annie Hall)
-Terence Malick (Tree of Life) (2nd Nomination for Directing)

Thoughts- It is the 4 highly thought of veterans against the newcomer. I had 3 of the 5 right in my predictions, with Allen and Malick sneaking in ahead of Spielberg and Fincher. Once again I don't have any problems with this group of nominees although I would have liked to see Refn for Drive (This is going to be a theme). The major surprise here is the exclusion of Spielberg who is maybe the most highly thought of director in Hollywood. It is very interesting that War Horse got nominated for Best Picture and Spielberg missed out, as I would have thought they would have been a package deal with either both missing or both making it. Most years the favorite for for Best Picture carries over to the director but this year could definitely be different because any of the 5 nominees have a legitimate shot at winning. My money right now is that the Artist will sweep the first two categories but that could change very fast.

Best Actor:

-Brad Pitt (Moneyball) (3rd Nomination for Acting)
-George Clooney (The Descendants) (4th Nomination for Acting/ 1 Previous win for Supporting Actor in Syriana)
-Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) (1st Nomination)
-Demian Bichir (A Better Life) (1st Nomination)
-Jean Dujardin (The Artist) (1st Nomination)

Thoughts- Again got 3 out of the 5. Very surprised that Bichir got in ahead of Gosling (Drive or Ides of March), DiCaprio (J. Edgar) and Fassbender (Shame). I love Gary Oldman as an actor, and it is unbelievable that he has never been nominated before with his track record, but it is disappointing that he is nominated for his role in an almost unwatchable movie. This topic will come up again later when I have a bigger problem, so suffice it to say for now that I hated Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. This is the battle between Pitt and Clooney to see who will nab their first win as a lead actor, however Oldman definitely falls into the category of getting a "career" win, and if the votes get split and dispersed enough that brings Dujardin into the mix. My thought right now is that Pitt's name gets called but like most of the categories this year there is not a lot of certainty which could make for a very interesting and surprising night.

Best Actress:

-Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs) (6th Nomination for Acting) (Haven't Seen)
-Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn) (3rd Nomination for Acting)
-Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) (1st Nomination)
-Viola Davis (The Help) (2nd Nomination for Acting)
-Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) (17th Nomination for Acting-not a typo/ 2 Previous wins for Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie's Choice) (Haven't Seen)

Thoughts- I got 5 out of 5 in the category. A very strong lineup and once again I can see this categoy going several different ways. A strong case could be made for Close, Williams, Davis and Streep while Mara is the only nominee I can't see winning. I have yet to see Albert Nobbs but everything I have heard is that it is a terrible movie but Close is outstanding in it, and this is probably the last time the Academy will be able to reward Close with a win. A strong case could also be made that it is ridiculous that Streep has 17 nominations and only 2 wins, with the last one coming in 1983, and a push could be made to reward her with a 3rd win. Side note- Streep has been nominated in each of the last 5 decades (70s-1, 80s-7, 90s-3, 00s-4, 10s-2) that is unbelievable. With both of those cases being said, most people tend to think (myself included) that the 2 best performances this year belong to Williams (my pick) and Davis, so this category is far from an easy pick this year.

Best Supporting Actor:

-Christopher Plummer (Beginners) (2nd Nomination for Acting)
-Jonah Hill (Moneyball) (1st Nomination)
-Nick Nolte (Warrior) (3rd Nomination for Acting)
-Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn) (2nd Nomination for Acting)
-Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) (2nd Nomination for Acting)

Thoughts- Only got 2 out of 5 here. Very happy to see that Sydow got a nod for his emotional turn in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I was a little surprised that Hill and Nolte both received nominations. While Hill is very good in Moneyball, that movie is carried by Pitt's performance and the outstanding screenplay. It is also unusual for the Academy to nominate someone whose career had previously consisted of raunchy humor that the Academy usually turns a disdainful look at. Nolte is a respected veteran actor but I didn't think he had enough screen time in an underseen movie that didn't generate buzz in any other categories, so that one was a little surprising. The glaring omission and possibly the biggest surprise of the nomination morning was the exclusion of Albert Brooks for turn as a cold, heartless mob boss in Drive. Brooks was easily my favorite supporting role of the year and topped the list for several other respected critics. The frontrunner here appears to be Plummer for his turn as the gay father of the protagonist in Beginners. He is the respected veteran without a win and he gave the performance that has been the most heralded of the year for the group, so it is his award to lose coming down the homestretch.

Best Supporting Actress:

-Berenice Bejo (The Artist) (1st Nomination)
-Jessica Chastain (The Help) (1st Nomination)
-Octavia Spencer (The Help) (1st Nomination)
-Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) (1st Nomination)
-Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) (2nd Nomination for Acting)(Haven't Seen)

Thoughts- Nailed 3 out of 5 predictions in this category. This is another category where I am disappointed at the exclusion of Carey Mulligan for either Shame or Drive, as both performances deserved to be recognized. I know there is group of supporters for McCarthy and Bridesmaids, but I just didn't get it and can't do anything but shake my head when I think about her being nominated. Spencer and Chastain both made it in for The Help and rightfully so. It is looking like one of them will take home the award and the precursors all suggest that it is going to be Spencer, although I would personally vote for Chastain. The upset could happen if The Help ladies split the vote which would leave a pathway for Bejo to win, especially if The Artist continues to gain momentum and push votes in all of its categories. McTeer will have to just be happy about a nomination because I doubt enough people have even seen Albert Nobbs to vote for her.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

-Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian and Stan Chervin for Moneyball (1st Nomination for Chervin, 2nd Nomination for Sorkin/1 win for The Social Network, 4th Nomination for Zaillian/1 win for Schindler's List)
-John Logan for Hugo (3rd Nomination)
-Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for The Descendants (3rd Nomination for Payne in Writing/1 win for Sideways, 1st Nomination for Faxon, 1st Nomination for Rash)
-George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon for Ides of March (2nd Nomination for Clooney in Writing, 2nd Nomination for Heslov, 1st Nomination for Willimon)
-Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1st Nomination for O'Connor, 1st Nomination for Straughan)

Thoughts- Another 3 for 5 category, and another disappointing snub for Drive. This category is really a 3 way race between Moneyball, The Descendants and Hugo, and by declaring a winner this category is in essence eliminating the other 2 from any hopes of winning Best Picture. The screenwriting marvel of turning a dry economics of baseball book into a compelling and entertaining movie is a huge feat and should land Moneyball a win in this category in my opinion. The Descendants and Hugo would also be deserving winners and definitely have shown the support and acclaim to pull off the win. Clooney will have to be happy with his nomination in this category for Ides of March. That brings me to the part where I get to rant a little as I mentioned a few categories previously. How in the world can you take an acclaimed novel about cold war era spies and make an almost unwatchably boring and incoherent movie and it be considered an Oscar nominee... Yes i'm talking about you Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Best Original Screenplay:

-Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris (15th Nomination in Writing/2 wins for Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters)
-Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist (1st Nomination)
-Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumolo for Bridesmaids (1st Nomination for both)
-Asghar Farhadi for A Separation (1st Nomination) (Haven't Seen)
-J.C. Chandhor for Margin Call (1st Nomination) (Haven't Seen)

Thoughts: Usually one of the hard categories to predict, and this year was no exception with surprise nominations for both the Iranian foreign film A Separation and little seen political movie Margin Call. It is a shame that 50/50 was excluded here as it really was one of the most well writting movies this year in my opinion as it seamlessly walked the line between comedy and drama while dealing with a topic as heavy as cancer. There is also another nomination for Bridesmaids that makes me cringe but it has no shot at winning along with A Separation (It will probably win Foreign Picture) and Margin Call. So this category is a two way shoot out between the break out star Michel Hazanavicius and tidal wave that is The Artist and the consumate veteran in Woody Allen who has written one of the most touching and entertaining works of his distinguished career in Midnight in Paris.

Monday, January 23, 2012

2011 Cinematic Courier Awards

In lieu of the official Oscar nominations being announced tomorrow morning, it is time to unveil the Cinematic Courier awards for 2011.

BEST PICTURE- The rules for the Oscars have changed slightly this year in the Best Picture category in that a film must secure at least 5% of the first place votes on the ballots to be eligible for a nomination. So instead of previous years where there were either 5 or 10 spots, this year there will be somewhere between 5-10 nominees based on how many films qualify. In keeping with the rule change the Cinematic Courier's list for Best Picture is relegated to films that were given either an A or A- which happened to come out to 9 for the year.

The Nominees:

-The Artist
-J. Edgar
-Midnight in Paris
-Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
-War Horse
-My Week With Marilyn

Winner- The Artist

Predicted Oscar Nominees:

-The Artist
-Midnight in Paris
-War Horse
-The Descendants
-The Help
-The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo**
-Tree of Life**

**- Depending on how many qualify


-Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist
-Martin Scorsese for Hugo
-Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris
-Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive
-Steven Spielberg for War Horse

Winner- Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist

Predicted Oscar Nominees:

-Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist
-Martin Scorsese for Hugo
-Steven Spielberg for War Horse
-Alexander Payne for The Descendants
-David Fincher for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


-Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover in J. Edgar
-Jean Dujardin as George Valentine in The Artist
-Ryan Gosling as The Driver in Drive
-Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50
-Brad Pitt as Billy Beane in Moneyball

Winner- Ryan Gosling as The Driver in Drive

Predicted Oscar Nominees:

-Brad Pitt as Billy Beane in Moneyball
-Jean Dujardin as George Valentine in The Artist
-George Clooney as Matt King in The Descendants
-Ryan Gosling as Stephen Meyers in Ides of March
-Michael Fassbender as Brandon Sullivan in Shame


-Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark in The Help
-Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn
-Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
-Felicity Jones as Anna in Like Crazy
-Elizabeth Olsen as Martha in Martha Marcy May Marlene

Winner- Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn

Predicted Oscar Nominees:

-Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark in The Help
-Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn
-Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
-Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in Iron Lady
-Glenn Close as Albert Nobbs in Albert Nobbs


-Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose in Drive
-Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn
-Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson in J. Edgar
-Brad Pitt as Mr. O'Brien in Tree of Life
-Max Von Sydow as The Renter in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Winner- Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose in Drive

Predicted Oscar Nominees:

-Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose in Drive
-Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn
-Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson in J. Edgar
-Christopher Plummer as Hal Fields in Beginners
-Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud in A Dangerous Method


-Jessica Chastain as Celia Foote in The Help
-Jessica Chastain as Mrs. O'Brien in Tree of Life (Technically against Oscar rules that you can't be nominated twice in the same category... don't care)
-Carey Mulligan as Irene in Drive
-Carey Mulligan as Sissy Sullivan in Shame (See above)
-Berenice Bejo as Peppy Miller in The Artist

The Winner- Jessica Chastain as Celia Foote in The Help

Predicted Oscar Nominees:

-Jessica Chastain as Celia Foote in The Help
-Carey Mulligan as Sissy Sullivan in Shame
-Berenice Bejo as Peppy Miller in The Artist
-Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson in The Help
-Shailene Woodley as Alexandra King in The Descendants


-Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillan, Stan Chervin for Moneyball
-John Logan for Hugo
-Hossein Amini for Drive
-Eric Roth for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
-Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Alexander Payne for The Descendants

The Winner- Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillan and Stan Chervin for Moneyball

Predicted Oscar Nominees:

-Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillan, Stan Chervin for Moneyball
-John Logan for Hugo
-Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Alexander Payne for The Descendants
-Tate Taylor for The Help
-Steven Zaillan for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


-Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris
-Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist
-Will Reiser for 50/50
-Terence Malick for Tree of Life
-Dustin Lance Black for J. Edgar

Winner- Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris

Predicted Oscar Nominees:

-Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris
-Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist
-Will Reiser for 50/50
-Mike Mills for Beginners
-Diablo Cody for Young Adult

-There you have the official 2011 Cinematic Courier Awards. I am going to forego the awards for the technical categories so that I can talk some more about them once the real nominees are announced. I am also going to wait for the Animated/Foreign/Documentary categories simply because I have not seen enough of the potential nominees to have an informed opinion.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Year to Remember

At the end of every year the talk centers around the the best that the year had to offer. This applies to many different aspects of life including films. Everyone wants to know what was the best movie, the best performance and so on. With the scope and size of Hollywood, and the seemingly infinite number of movies that are released in any given year, I think many people forget the amount of time, personel and money that it takes to write, film, produce and market a movie. It can take a full year (sometimes multiple years) of work by an individual director, actor or producer to make one movie. Sometimes lightning strikes and an individual is able to be a part of multiple movies in a given year. This post is an acknowledgement of the people of Hollywood who went over and beyond for 2011 and gave us both quality and quantity. Here is a top 5 list of men and women who gave exceptional performances in multiple movies for 2011.


George Clooney: Clooney proved once again in 2011 that he is a man of many talents. The year saw him give two great performances as well as showcased his talents in the writing, directing and producing roles.
The Descendants (Acting)- A man who seems to have everything in the paradise of Hawaii has to face the difficulties of a family on the brink as Hawaiian land owner Matt King. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Best Actor)
The Ides of March(Acting, Writing, Directing, Producing)- Helped write the screenplay while also stepping behind the camera to direct and produce. Also showed up in front of the camera playing Presidential hopeful Mike Morris. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture)

Michael Fassbender: Say hello to a soon to be superstar in Hollywood. 2011 was the coming out party for one of the most talented young actors in the business. Relegated to supporting roles and independent movies in previous years, Fassbender was finally given a chance to shine in the spotlight in 2011 and he definitly made the most of it.
Jane Eyre (Acting)- Playing the high class love interest Edward Rochester.
X-Men: First Class(Acting)- An integral part of breathing new life into the franchise by capturing the humanity and consuming hatred of Erik Lehnsherr that resulted in the creation of Magneto.
A Dangerous Method(have not seen) (Acting)- Played the contemporary to Sigmund Frued and founder of Analytical Psychology Carl Jung. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Best Actor)
Shame (Acting)- Courageous and heartbreaking depiction of the lonliness and depression of a sex addict as Brandon Sullivan. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Best Actor)

Ryan Gosling: Continues to prove he is in the top echelon of young Hollywood. Gosling proved in 2011 that he can play the cool anti-hero, as well as showcased his comedic chops.
Crazy,Stupid,Love (Acting)- Showed he has a funny side as the slick womanizer trying to change his ways Jacob Palmer.
The Ides of March (Acting)- The lynchpin to showcasing the dirty side of politics, as campaign manager Stephen Meyers. (Possible Oscar nominee- Best Actor)
Drive (Acting)- Showed he has the cool confidence to be this generation's Paul Newman. A slick, violent turn as a wheelman caught up in the mob known only as The Driver. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Best Actor)

Brad Pitt: So often, people consider Brad Pitt as a good looks movie star that they forget he is one of the more talented actors in Tinseltown. 2011 showcased those talents in two very different yet effective roles.
Tree of Life (Acting)- Shined in a difficult role as a hard working disciplinarian father Mr. O'Brien, who during the 1960s wanted the best for his family but was not always able to effectively communicate that desire. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Best Supporting Actor)
Moneyball (Acting)- Infused life and entertainment into the numbers behind the business of baseball as the charismatic leader and GM of the Oakland A's Billy Beane. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Best Actor)

Steven Spielberg: Arguably the greatest movie making director of all time burst back onto the scene in 2011. What is even more interesting is he did it following the same recipe that he created by making heartwarming, epic movies that bridge the gap between critical success and entertainment value. Not only did he direct 2 movies in 2011, in his "spare time" he produced 6 movies and 2 successful TV series.
War Horse (Director and Producer)- Brought his classic approach of epic visuals and sweeping scores to WWI seen from the eyes of a horse who touches the lives of countless people on both sides of the war. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Director and Best Picture)
The Adventures of TinTin (have not seen) (Director and Producer)- One of Spielberg's greatest accomplishments is his ability to make movies that cross generation gaps. In the same year he directs a movie about WWI, he also is able to direct an animated adventure story that appeals to all generations. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Best Animated Picture)
Super 8/ Transformers:Dark Side of the Moon/ Cowboys and Aliens/ Real Steel (Executive Producer)
TV- Falling Skies and Terranova (Executive Producer)


Jessica Chastain: Talk about a coming out party. Chastain may have had one of the greatest years in acting history. Not only did she set the bar with 6 movies released in 2011, she was outstanding in all of them while taking on very different roles and characters.
The Debt (Acting)- Showcased her action talent as a member of Israeli special forces sent to capture a Nazi war criminal following WWII.
Take Shelter (have not seen)(Acting)- Played Samantha, a mother and wife trying to understand her husband as he prepares the family for his perceived coming of dooomsday. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Best Supporting Actress)
Coriolanus (have not seen) (Acting)- Plays Coriolanus's wife Virgilia in the modern take on the play of the same name by Shakespeare.
Texas Killing Fields (have not seen) (Acting)- Plays Detective Pam Stall as part of the team investigating unsolved murders in the bayous of East Texas.
Tree of Life (Acting)- Provided the contrast to Pitt's disciplinarian parent as the ethereal version of a soft spoken, loving and nurturing mother figure. She was able to speak volumes despite saying very little as Mrs. O'Brien. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Best Supporting Actress)
The Help (Acting)- In my opinion, the best part of the movie. Plays the secluded outcast of high society Celia Foote, who is trying desperately to fit in. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Best Supporting Actress)

Viola Davis: Another example of a talented actress who has served her time playing small character roles only to finally be given the opportunity to shine as the star.
Trust (Acting)- Small but pivotal role as the compassionate social worker Gail Friedman who is trying to break through to a damaged young girl.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Acting)- Another small but impactful role as Abby Black who holds the key to a young boy's search for answers following his father's death on 9/11.
The Help (Acting)- Gave the performance of a lifetime as Aibileen Clark who is the central voice in the expose of the relationship between the white aristocracy of the deep south and the black maids who worked in their homes and raised their children. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Best Actress)

Jennifer Lawrence: A young actress who burst onto the scene last year with her Oscar nominated performance in the little seen movie Winter's Bone, took that momentum and really capitalized on it. She had a successful follow up year by giving two strong supporting roles, as well as contributing to the ensemble of the franchise reboot X-Men. Her biggest moment of 2011 however is undoubtedly landing the role of Katniss Everdeen in the upcoming Hunger Games series which will undoubtedly turn her into a household name the same way the Twilight series did for Kristen Stewart, with the only difference being that Lawrence can actually act.
The Beaver (Acting)- A successful role as the high school valedictorian with a rebelious side Norah.
Like Crazy (Acting)- Her second movie acting opposite Anton Yelchin, however this time she gives a heartbreaking performance as the "replacement" girlfriend Sam, who just isn't enough.
X-Men: First Class (Acting)- One of the central characters to the reboot was the blossoming of the insecure and self consious Raven into the alluring and sensuous Mystique.

Carey Mulligan: Ever since she emerged with her Oscar nominated turn in An Education, Mulligan has proven that she can play the naive, innocent role. This year she succesfully broadened her acting chops with more risque and vulnerable roles that proved she will be at the top of a lot of director's list when looking to cast dramatic female characters. She will get her first shot this year with the role of Daisy in The Great Gatsby opposite Leonardo DiCaprio (Be sure to put that one on the Must See List).
Drive (Acting)- Irene is a lonely mother who is longing and desparate for meaning and security in life both for herself and her child as she allows herself to become more vulnerable with the enigmatic Driver. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Best Supporting Actress)
Shame (Acting)- As Sissy Sullivan she captivates as the lonely sister searching for acceptance and meaning by reaching out to her sex addicted brother. A raw and deep performance of sadness and despair, with a haunting scene in which she sings New York, New York which is one of the most touching scenes of the year. (Possible Oscar Nominee- Best Supporting Actress)

Emma Watson: Cast as a young girl for the role of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, no one could have imagined the actress she would turn out to be. She constantly matured with the character taking on bigger challenges along the way, and now is positioned to parlay what could have become a classic child actor fading into obscurity into a successful film career.
Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 (Acting)- Brought a stubborn yet adoring know-it-all likeability to the character of Hermione Granger that became one of the best parts about the series.
My Week with Marilyn (Acting)- Watson's first foray into the world beyond Harry Potter and she showed that she can hold her own outside of the series. She takes a simple role as the costume tech Lucy and makes it memorable.

Coming Soon:
-Tuesday morning is the official announcement of this years Oscar nominees. My predictions as well as the 2011 Cinematic Courier Awards will be posted tomorrow evening.