The 2011 Spirit awards come on tonight at 10:00pm on Independent Film Channel. Although I love the Academy Awards for sheer tradition, these awards usually reward the BEST movies instead of the ones with the best advertising campaigns. Just like my Oscar picks, I am ranking the nominees from most favorite to least and only including the movies I have seen:
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
127 Hours (2010)
Winter's Bone (2010)
Black Swan (2010)
Best Female Lead
Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone (2010)
Greta Gerwig for Greenberg (2010)
Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole (2010)
Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010)
Best Male Lead
James Franco for 127 Hours (2010)
Aaron Eckhart for Rabbit Hole (2010)
Ben Stiller for Greenberg (2010)
Best Supporting Female
Ashley Bell for The Last Exorcism (2010)
Naomi Watts for Mother and Child (2009)
Dale Dickey for Winter's Bone (2010)
Best Supporting Male
John Hawkes for Winter's Bone (2010)
Samuel L. Jackson for Mother and Child (2009)
Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
John Cameron Mitchell for Rabbit Hole (2010)
Debra Granik for Winter's Bone (2010)
Danny Boyle for 127 Hours (2010)
Lisa Cholodenko for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (2010)
The Kids Are All Right (2010): Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko
Winter's Bone (2010): Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini
Rabbit Hole (2010): David Lindsay-Abaire
Please Give (2010): Nicole Holofcener
Best First Screenplay
Lovely, Still (2008): Nicholas Fackler
Winter's Bone (2010): Michael McDonough
Black Swan (2010): Matthew Libatique
Greenberg (2010): Harris Savides
Best First Feature
The Last Exorcism (2010)
Best Foreign Film
The King's Speech (2010)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life. So you might say, that we are encouraged to love.
I know, I know, this is probably the most hated of the prequels, but I love it! Most criticism stems from the annoying performance of Hayden Christensen, and I get that. Still, I find the whiny emo kid a perfect base to build a monster who's power comes from his complete and utter hatred of everything (including himself). I absolutely love Natalie Portman's Padme. She is fragile and beautiful and, at the same time, tough and powerful. The best draw of this film, though, is the fanboy joy that burst in my heart at seeing tons of Jedi with lightsabers drawn kicking butt. When Yoda drops his cane and proceeds to unfurl a green fireball of fury, I still turn into a 10-year-old!
Friday, February 25, 2011
Champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends.
Regardless of how you feel about Mr. Spike Lee, a movie like this is an absolute reminder that he is a doggone good filmmaker. The combination of Lee's direction and a movie rooted in the emotion of real-life father and son actors Edward Norton and Brian Cox makes this one near perfect movie. I thought quite a while about whether to include this movies soliloqy, but then I figured it would be a pretty fun one to edit.
Reader beware, offensive monologue coming up:
Okay, I changed my mind... Half way through editing the F-bombs out, I realize that it really didn't make it any less offensive. So, I offered up the secondary quote above, but I urge you to look up Norton's "F*#& You" speech if you want to be shocked and amazed.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Lesbian? Her birthday's in March. I thought she was a Pisces.
It is not often that a movie can deal with as many hot-button issues as this and remain entertaining while avoiding preachiness. This film covers teenage angst, sports, friendship, sexuality, religion, and cultural diversity without missing a single beat. It is a shame that Kiera Knightley became the big star out of this movie though, because Parminder Nigra, in my humble opinion, is a much more talented actress. Also, I am secure enough in my manhood to say that Johnathan Rhys Meyers is one sexy beast!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Risk leads to greatness.
You probably haven't seen this movie. I credit that to its unfortunate title. It conjures up images of molestation instead of coming of age adventure and comraderie. The movie follows a group of young boys as they rebel against their strict nun principal (played by Jodie Foster). One of the most original elements that is introduced is intercutting the boys plans of revenge and mischief with animated comic-book style visualizations of their fantasies. Bottom line: More people should see this movie!
When my brothers and I played cowboys and Indians, I was always the Chinese railroad worker.
I usually don't like dark comedies, but hear me out on this one. Robin Williams and Edward Norton portray Rainbow Randolph and Smoochy the proud purple rhino respectively. They also just happen to be feuding hosts of kid's shows. If that doesn't get you interested then I'm not sure what will. This is another one on my list that is reviled by many, but, in the right frame of mind, I'm pretty sure anyone will get a least a few chuckles out of it.
A moving romantic comedy with a pretty obvious twist, but still smarter than most. You aren't going to here the following soliliquoy in a Jennifer Aniston romcom:
You don't appreciate the chaos and absurdity of life on this planet. You don't understand irony, or ethnicity, or eccentricity, or poetry, or the simple joy of being a regular at the diner on your block. I love that. You don't drink coffee or alcohol. You don't over eat. You don't cry when you're alone. You don't understand sarcasm. You plod through life in a neat, colorless, caffeine free, dairy free, conflict free way. I'm bold and angry and tortured and tremendous and I notice when someone has changed their hair part, or when someone is wearing two very distinctly different shades of black or when someone changes the natural temperment of their voice on the phone. I don't give out empty praise. I'm not complacent or well-adjusted. I can't spend fifteen minutes breathing and stretching and getting in touch with myself. I can't spend three minutes finishing an article. I check my answering machine nine times every day and I can't sleep at night because I feel that there is so much to do and fix and change in the world, and I wonder every day if I am making a difference and if I will ever express the greatness within me, or if I will remain forever paralyzed by muddled madness inside my head. I've wept on every birthday I've ever had because life is huge and fleeting and I hate certain people and certain shoes and I feel that life is terribly unfair and sometimes beautiful and wonderful and extraordinary but also numbing and horrifying and insurmountable and I hate myself a lot of the time. The rest of the time I adore myself and I adore my life in this city and in this world we live in. This huge and wondrous, bewildering, brilliant, horrible world.
Monday, February 21, 2011
This is my family. I found it, all on my own. Is little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good.
As much as I love what Pixar has done for animated films, there is something refreshing about traditional animation over watercolor backgrounds. A whimsical story, a fun score, and simply beautiful animation combine to make this the last great Disney movie before Pixar completely took over.
Lena. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I left you at the hospital. I called a phone-sex line... I called a phone-sex line before I met you, and four blond brothers came after me and they hurt you, and I'm sorry. Then I had to leave again because I wanted to make sure you never got hurt again. And I have a lot of puddings, and in six to eight weeks it can be redeemed. So if you could just give me that much time, I think I can get enough mileage to go with you wherever you go if you have to travel for your work. Because I don't ever want to be anywhere without you. So could you just let me redeem the mileage?
One of the oddest, quirkiest romances of all time. It also just so happens to be my favorite Adam Sandler movie. Note to Sandler fans: You will probably not like this movie! I honestly don't know many other people who do like this movie, but, once again, that's why this is my blog. The extreme, sometimes painful, honesty that Sandler's Barry exudes during this film make it feel very real. Jon Brion's score has a hauntingly beautiful quality that is very rarely heard in movies that adds to the uncomfortable level of tension as the viewer isn't sure whether to laugh, gasp, or cry throughout the movie.
See that bird? That's the spirit bird. He will always look after you.
Wow, I've gotten pretty lazy with the blog.... Catch up day today! 4 posts to follow...
This is one of the most moving true stories I have ever seen dramatized in a movie. Three young Aboriginal girls are torn from their families in an attempt to "civilize" them and introduce them to "normal" families where they can blend in to proper Australian society. The young girls will have none of this though and set out on a trek across the Aussie outback to return home. They must fend for themselves against the elements and the authorities as they follow the "rabbit-proof fence" 1500 miles back to their families.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Like my grandmother used to say, "There's no better dressing than meat on bones."
I'm not going to spoil any of this movie except to say that if you are female (or are a guy who truly loves a female) you should see this immediately. With this film in mind I will deliver the following message. This is for the ladies:
Dear Women of the World,
You are beautiful. Plain and simple. And I don't mean in that "on the inside" way that people always like to tag on the end of that statement. I mean, you are perfect. Your body is a gift from heaven above. Every nook and cranny is a blessing to the men of the world. If a man ever tells you different, dump him, you deserve better. If you want to lose weight or tone your body, do it for yourself alone. Just like you can't change your sorry and lazy deadbeat man, if you change your body for a man, he won't look at you any different.
PS: I know it goes against everything that I just said above, but, who cares, it's my blog... Skinny women are ugly.
I could tell you that what you think of as your personality is nothing but a collection of Vanity Fair articles. I could tell you your choice of sexual partners this evening was decided months ago by some account executive at Young & Rubicam. I could tell you that given a week to study your father and the ways in which he ignores you I could come up with a schtick you'd be helpless to resist. Helpless.
Love. Sex. Innocence. Most of the time these themes are dealt with in the normal Hollywood manner: with a formulaic "boy meets girl" romance. This movie dares to be different. A then unknown Jesse Eisenberg portrays a teenage boy who is completely at a loss when it comes to women. For advice he turns to his uncle who, by all appearances, is a successful womanizer and living the life of the young boy's dreams. The two spend an evening wondering the streets of New York as they both learn that it is not always in the simple pursuit of females that one finds happiness. Campbell Scott is absolutely divine delivering the fast-talking words of of wisdom of the uncle, and a post-Showgirls Elizabeth Berkley also makes a pretty strong appearance.
Monday, February 14, 2011
I only had sex with her because I'm in love with you.
The hype around this movie before its release was pretty big. It was to combine the adult themes of "Pulp Fiction" and "American Psycho" with young college students. It originally received an NC-17, but was edited to an R (which is the only version that is now available). Upon its release, critics found its content to be surprisingly tame compared to other gross-out comedies of the day and the nearly all of the characters are pretty darn unlikable. This led to a pretty colossal box-office bomb. That being said, man, do I love this movie...
The story follows a handful of college students unsuccessfully looking for love. A gay student is in love with a straight student who thinks that a hot girl is his secret admirer when it actually is a lonely stalker. The hot girl is saving herself for her one true love who is vacationing in Europe and not thinking about her at all. In one of the single greatest moments in the history of movies, this character's entire trip to Europe is exhaustively told in a span of about 60 seconds. Also, this movie is probably the origin of my now ubiquitous catchphrase "rock-n-roll", which is used by James van der Beek's character as a sign of approval and agreement.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
We're not bad people, Mac... just underachievers who have to make up for lost time.
Shakespeare's "Macbeth" retold in the setting of a 1970's fast food restaurant that discovers the power of "drive-thru". If that sentence doesn't get you interested, then you probably wouldn't like it anyway. Christopher Walken is awesome as Macduff, a vegetarian whose distaste for the greasy burgers only rivals his distaste for murder, the three witches are replaced by three supernatural hippies (one of which is Andy Dick), and the film is accompanied by an ever present soundtrack of '70s classic rock which surprisingly fit the themes of Macbeth to a tee.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
-I wonder what was going through Custer's mind when he realized that he'd led his men into a slaughter?
-Sir, Custer was a (#*@#. You ain't.
My distaste for war movies is pretty well documented on this blog, and I'm also not a huge Mel Gibson fan (especially considering recent escapades). Still, this is one awesome movie. It does an amazing job of balancing the truth of war with the truth of the men that are caught up fighting it. It also deals with the early days of Vietnam which is also a period of history that usually gets overlooked.
Hi it's cold in Japan, so were going to warm ourselves up with some fireworks.
This is a pretty novel concept. Get a few funny guys together and do stupid things that most people only think about doing. The results can be hit-and-miss, but usually it's just plain awesome. I must admit though, I think I prefer the television show. My face simply hurts from the laughter after 90 straight minutes of this stuff!
-Ethan, what is this, is this a hair doll?
-I didn't make that! It fell out of your hair that way!
This movie seems to be universally hated by critics (10% on the Tomatometer) and no one really saw it in the theater, but I really don't know why. I found it to be quite a funny movie. You can't really go too wrong with Laura Prepon, Jason Schwartzman, and Jason Segal in a "gross-out" comedy about love, cheating, and revenge in college, but I guess most disagree with me...
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
That was the everlasting moment he had been waiting for. And the moment had passed, for Monica was sound asleep. More than merely asleep. Should he shake her she would never rouse. So David went to sleep too. And for the first time in his life, he went to that place where dreams are born.
I respect the work of Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick. I say this because I don't really "love" either of their bodies of work. They both make (made) good movies, but I feel both sometimes can be overshadowed by the greatness of their source content. Think about it. The Shining, Jurassic Park, A Clockwork Orange, Schindler's List all were great books before being made into classic movies. That being said, this collaboration contains the perfect amount of epic beauty from Kubrick and fairy-tale magic from Spielberg that it overshadows both of them (and the short-story/poem source material).
I know quite a few people who despise the ending of this movie, but I think it is one of the most carefully plotted, meticulous works of beauty to grace the screen. Also, before it comes up from the peanut gallery: they are robots, not aliens...
Nino is late. Amelie can only see two explanations. 1 - he didn't get the photo. 2 - before he could assemble it, a gang of bank robbers took him hostage. The cops gave chase. They got away... but he caused a crash. When he came to, he'd lost his memory. An ex-con picked him up, mistook him for a fugitive, and shipped him to Istanbul. There he met some Afghan raiders who too him to steal some Russian warheads. But their truck hit a mine in Tajikistan. He survived, took to the hills, and became a Mujaheddin. Amelie refuses to get upset for a guy who'll eat borscht all his life in a hat like a tea cozy.
The imagination and visual mastery of Jean-Pierre Jeunet combine with the overwhelming adorableness of Audrey Tautou to create one of the most mind-blowing, original pieces of film art of the twenty-first century. I usually say, "if you don't like this film, then you just don't like movies", but for this one it goes a little more like this: If you don't like this film then you either can't read, are you are just a sad, lonely person and I'll wish on the next shooting star that I see that love enters your heart so that you can appreciate how beautiful life can be.
Monday, February 7, 2011
-I don't know. Kate's a special lady.
-Kate is an iceberg waiting for the Titanic.
Like the great majority of movies I saw in the theater from 1997-2003, I saw this one with my friend Brian. We shared the same love of bank-robbin' movies, so couldn't resist when this was released. About half way through, we began to see some uncanny coincidences. Bruce Willis played an extroverted, smooth-talking leader much like myself, while Billy Bob Thornton was a quirky, glasses-wearing, "brains of the operation" introvert much like Brian. When the pair picked up an emotionally fragile redhead whose sole ambition was to be a singer, we were absolutely awestruck (I had been dating Angie for a couple of years and she pretty much fits that bill). The three of us have never had quite the level of adventure and lawlessness as is found with the characters in this movie, but the personal connection makes this one of my favorites.
Dear Roberta Sparrow, I have reached the end of your book and... there are so many things that I need to ask you. Sometimes I'm afraid of what you might tell me. Sometimes I'm afraid that you'll tell me that this is not a work of fiction. I can only hope that the answers will come to me in my sleep. I hope that when the world comes to an end, I can breathe a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to.
A movie that is at once entertaining, mind-bending, and serves as a solid philosophy lesson is a rare treat. If you are into '80s music, time travel, teenage angst, or just like evil-looking bunnies, then boy have I got the film for you!
Saturday, February 5, 2011
It is clear that I must find my other half. But is it a he or a she? What does this person look like? Identical to me? Or somehow complementary? Does my other half have what I don't? Did he get the looks? The luck? The love? Were we really separated forceably or did he just run off with the good stuff? Or did I? Will this person embarrass me? What about sex? Is that how we put ourselves back together again? Or can two people actually become one again?
A Rock Opera about a transgendered person with a botched sex change who is trying to find love all the while playing live shows at restuarants and following around his/her famous ex. If that sentence doesn't interest you, then you won't like the movie. I seriously watched this movie four times the day I rented it from East Coast.
Friday, February 4, 2011
-If the buzz is any indicator, that movie's gonna make some huge bank.
-The Internet buzz.
-What the #*@) is the Internet?
-The Internet is a communication tool used the world over where people can come together to %$*#@ about movies and share pornography with one another.
This is what happens when a director makes a movie simply as an inside joke to his fans, but oh what a hilarious joke it is if you are a fan! Kevin Smith literally cast his family in this movie with his daughter playing the younger version of Silent Bob and his wife playing one of the sexy jewel thieves. Like the movie or not, I'm not sure there is any movie in the past decade with a more impressive cast: Will Ferrell, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Jason Lee, Mark Hamill, Chris Rock, Jason Biggs, James van der Beek, Carrie Fisher, George Carlin, Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter, Shannon Elizabeth, Judd Nelson, Sean William Scott, Jon Stewart, Tracy Morgan, and Jamie Kennedy.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
I don't know where I'm being taken. I don't know what I'll find, beyond the earth and sky. But I'm not afraid to go. Maybe the things I don't understand will be clearer there, like when a fog blows away. Maybe Doris will be there. And maybe there I can tell her all those things they don't have words for here.
I've said it before on this blog, and it will surely come up again, but the Coen brothers simply make flawless movies. That being said, this is my favorite. It is absolute proof that you don't need drastic special effects or even the luxury of color to make an absolutely beautiful movie. This movie is criminally underseen, so I won't waste your time any more... go see it, if for nothing else then for the UFO-inspired lighting that is persistent throughout.
It's hard to believe, but just 10 short years ago Pixar had not completely solidified itself as the greatest animation studio in history. Sure, the Toy Stories were both pretty amazing and "A Bug's Life" wasn't half bad, but it wasn't to the point it is today. That is, today the name Pixar alone can assure the viewer of a perfect feature film. All of this being said, I went to the opening showing of "Monster's Inc." on a Friday afternoon. I'd like to say it was my bourgeoning confidence in the Pixar brand, but in all honesty it was the first movie with an "Attack of the Clones" trailer attached. After my fanboy excitement had died down, I was treated to an absolutely amazing movie. John Goodman and Billy Crystal were pitch perfect for the roles of Mike and Sully and Steve Buscemi gave the evil Randall a sinister life that perfectly walked the border of scary and too scary. This movie also contains one of my favorite final shots of all time. I get chills just thinking about it:
The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.
A beautiful tragedy about forbidden love between an inoccent young bohemian and a singing and dancing courtesan with a heart of gold. If it had stopped right there, I would have been hooked, but nooooo, they had to go on and add Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman as the couple. Still, director Baz Luhrmann felt that wasn't quite enough to thoroughly win my heart so he cast John Leguizamo as (real-life artist) Toulouse-Lautrec and added a wonderful subtheme about artists claiming their place in society. Just when you thought it couldn't be any more of a movie made for me, it is all set to a wonderful musical soundtrack that freely samples popular music including everything from Nirvana to Elton John to Donna Summer. This movie honestly has everything I could ever want in a movie and that is why it is (by far) my favorite romance of the 21st century.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
-I wrote a suicide note.
-Yeah, right after I regained conciousness.
-Well what does it say? Is it dark?
-Of course it's dark, it's a suicide note.
-Can I read it?
-Well could you at least summarize it for us?
This movie is about the Tenenbaum family: an estranged mother (Angelica Huston) and father (Gene Hackman), their two sons (Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson), their adopted daughter (Gwyneth Paltrow), and their "sorta" adopted next door neighbor (Owen Wilson). This seems like a pretty big group of characters but the director Wes Anderson masterfully introduces each one of them in the opening scenes of the movie. These beautiful scenes not only give an exhaustive background of each character, they foreshadow the problems that the characters will face during the film, and it is all narrated by Alec Baldwin. The genius of Wes Anderson is his ability to tell a story through quirky visuals, seemingly random occurences, and music that is just familiar enough to be recognizable (but not popular enough to be uncool). I know quite a few people who absolutely despised this movie. Although I don't get their hatred, I can say that if you aren't absolutely hooked by time you hear the strains of the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday", then you aren't going to get it.
On a semi-morbid side note, this movie has my favorite suicide scene of all time, which gives me a chance to present a "High Fidelity"-esque top 5 suicides in movies of all time:
5. Alien 3
4. Boogie Nights
3. The Shawshank Redemption
2. The Rules of Attraction
1. The Royal Tenenbaums