Sunday, February 26, 2012

2012 Oscar Ballot!

A little disappointed with the movies I missed this year; especially "Hugo", which just happens to come out on dvd in 2 days. Still, I saw most of the movies (except for that pesky Best Actress category) so here is my oscar ballot ranked from best to worst including only the movies I have seen. I'm also including my prediction, and who I felt should have been nominated. Here goes:

Best Picture
"The Tree of Life"
"The Help"
"War Horse"
"The Descendants"
"Midnight in Paris"
"The Artist"
"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

Prediction: The Artist
Shoulda been here: Beginners

Best Actor
Demian Bichir, "A Better Life"
Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"
George Clooney, "The Descendants"
Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"

Prediction: Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
Shoulda been here: Rhys Ifans, "Anonymous"

Best Actress
Viola Davis, "The Help"

Prediction: Viola Davis, "The Help"
Shoulda been here: Mia Wasikowska, "Jane Eyre"

Best Supporting Actor
Nick Nolte, "Warrior"
Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"
Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"
Max Von Sydow, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

Prediction: Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"
Shoulda been here: Andy Serkis, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"

Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
Octavia Spencer, "The Help"
Berenice Bejo, "The Artist"
Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"

Prediction: Octavia Spencer, "The Help"
Shoulda been here: Jessica Chastain, "The Tree of Life"

Best Director
Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life"
Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"
Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"

Prediction: Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Shoulda been here: Steven Spielberg, "War Horse"

Best Original Screenplay
Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
JC Chandor, "Margin Call"
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, "Bridesmaids"

Prediction: Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
Shoulda been here: Mike Mills, "Beginners"

Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxton, Jim Rash, "The Descendants"
Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, "Moneyball"
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, "The Ides of March"

Prediction: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxton, Jim Rash, "The Descendants"

Best Animated Feature
"Kung Fu Panda 2"
"Puss in Boots"

Prediction: Rango
Shoulda been here: Rio

Original Score
"The Adventures of Tintin," John Williams
"The Artist," Ludovic Bource
"War Horse," John Williams

Prediction: "The Artist", Ludovic Bource
Shoulda been here: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Best Original Song
"Man or Muppet," The Muppets; Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
"Real in Rio," Rio; Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Prediction: Man or Muppet
Shoulda been here: Life's a Happy Song, The Muppets

Best Achievement in Art Direction
"Midnight in Paris"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2"
"War Horse"
"The Artist"

Prediction: Hugo
Shoulda been here: Bellflower

Best Achievement in Cinematography
"The Tree of Life"
"War Horse"
"The Artist"

Prediction: The Tree of Life
Shoulda been here: Bellflower

Best Achievement in Costume Design
"Jane Eyre"
"The Artist"

Prediction: Hugo
Shoulda been here: Drive

Best Achievement in Film Editing
"The Artist"
"The Descendants"

Prediction: The Artist
Shoulda been here: Midnight in Paris

Best Achievement in Makeup
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2"

Prediction: The Iron Lady
Shoulda been here: Warrior

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
"War Horse"
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

Prediction: Hugo
Shoulda been here: The Tree of Life

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

"War Horse"
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

Prediction: Hugo
Shoulda been here: The Tree of Life

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2"
"Real Steel"
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

Prediction: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Shoulda been here: The Tree of Life

So another year down. For the first time since 1984 the Best Picture winner will have also won the same award at the Independent Spirit Awards. Too bad its the worst Spirit winner in the history of the award... Don't get me wrong it is not a bad movie, it's just not a great movie...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2011 Top Ten

Ugh. It took until March 21st to finally have seen enough 2011 movies to feel confident in my top 10 for the year. I've linked to my blog entry if I already talked about a film. For the record, I have seen 59 movies released during 2011. 10 presented here, 21 that probably were pretty close to making this list, 22 good, solid films, 3 pretty bad films, and 3 abysmally awful excuses for film making. Here they are the best films of last year.

10. Bellflower
Check my my blog entry:

9. 50/50
Heartbreaking and hilariously honest look at love, loss, and love all the while battling against the impervious immortality that one feels when they are in their 20s. Also, Seth Rogen should've gotten some supporting actor mentions for this movie. He pulls off a role that is a very delicate balance between annoying and adorable.

8. Take Shelter
A harrowing look at mental illness and the love that can hold any family together.

7. Jane Eyre
I blame Charlotte Bronte for this one. I never new her story was so freakin' awesome until I saw this adaptation. You couldn't come up with a better title Ms. Bronte? Really? Jane Eyre... so bland. If it had been named "The Passionate Feminista", I would have checked it out long ago.

6. Warrior
Blog entry here

5. Beginners
Ewan McGregor's bad luck in love is only made worse by his father's good luck in his new found freedom of living as a gay man, finding a young boyfriend, and laughing death in the face. It doesn't hurt that his father is played by Christopher Plummer in the role of his career.

4. War Horse
Most underrated movie of the year, and Spielberg's best since in the past decade. Check out my review here.

3. Crazy Stupid Love
Ryan Gosling owned this year. Award-worthy performances in this, "Drive", and "The Ides of March". He certainly has completely shed his "the guy from the Notebook" persona. Read all about it here

2. The Help
The Artist may have won all of the awards, but this is what most people will remember as the best film from 2011. A moving story that actually is able to transcend its own content is quite rare. This isn't a movie about journalism, race relations, housekeeping, or even love. This is a movie about how you treat your fellow man in all aspects of life.

1. The Tree of Life
Do you like poetry? Do you like beautiful moving images? Do you desire to tackle the biggest question in the history of mankind? Are you ready to completely give in to the best movie about faith of all time? If so, you should give it a spin. If not, it's okay, Malick's masterpiece will be there when you're ready for it. Read about my first take on it here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) 1/5


You have made a grave mistake...

Offensively bad. That's the best way I can describe this movie. Offensive to Transformers, offensive to action movies, offensive to screenwriters, offensive to robots, offensive to NASA, and (MOST OF ALL!) offensive to viewers valuable time. The first Transformers movie was a fun romp that pretty well captured what it would be like if little boys' play fantasies were given a hundred-million-dollar budget. Revenge of the Fallen was a bad film that completely went off the rails of believability and included the horrible atrocities of a magical transporting Air and Space Museum and metal robot testicles. Still, this movie never took itself too seriously. Dark of the Moon seems like an attempt to make the movies epic while at the same time holding on to the silliness of its predecessors. This makes for a horrible, horrible movie. Sure, the action in the last 45 minutes is pretty impressive, but it in no was excuses the waste of ninety minutes it took to get there. Plain and simple, this movie is an offensive affront to anyone who likes good movies or even those that can muster up the courage to enjoy bad ones.

Project Nim (2011) 3/5


Play, me, Nim.

This is a beautiful portrait of the life of Nim, a chimpanzee who was raised as a human, taught to sign, then abandoned when funds ran out. The movie skimps a little on editorializing, but this allows the viewer to develop a unique view on the sad story of Nim.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bill Cunningham, New York (2011) 4/5


Those who seek beauty, WILL find it!

This is why I love documentaries. If a fictional movie was released about an eighty-year-old man who lives in Carnegie Hall, works as a fashion photographer for the New York Times, spends every waking moment riding his bike around New York snapping photos of interesting fashion, and has never had a romantic relationship, most people would view the film as laughably unrealistic. It is rare that a single person can carry an entire documentary, but Mr. Cunningham is a magically interesting individual. The filmmakers treat him with great respect and kid gloves as they follow him throughout his day pausing for only a couple of questions at a time. Only once the viewer has garnered an interest an connection with the subject are the emotional and moving questions broached. This emotional climax provides a beautiful payoff for the film that broadens its appeal beyond the documentophile such as myself.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Descendants (2011) 4/5


Goodbye, Elizabeth. Goodbye, my love, my friend, my pain, my joy. Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

Tonight thousands of couples are going to share a movie for Valentine's Day. Most of them are probably going to fall into the trap of "The Vow" (a formulaic Nick Sparks knockoff, at best). Even more unfortunate souls are going to trudge through the sickness that is "Breaking Dawn: Part 1" only to get the sleepy first half of a story that is criminal in its medieval treatment of love and feminism. I urge you to make this your Valentine's Day pick, and, if you read this too late, you should at least use it as a rinse to get all the average Hollywood schlock out of your head.

The Descendants is a beautiful story of loss and rebirth. It may be hard to sympathize with a main character who is independently wealthy and making a tough decision on how best to make even more money, but the rich are not immune to matters of the heart. George Clooney is pitch perfect as a soon-to-be widower who's decisions about end-of-life care for his wife and windfall real-estate holdings are overshadowed as he develops true relationships with his two daughters for the first time in their lives. While it may not be your run of the mill Valentine's treat, it will make you love those who are close to you all the more. When it comes down to it, is there anything better than that on Valentine's?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Warrior (2011) 4/5


I'll tell you what: you do that to someone on the street and they'd lock you up and throw away the key! Break out the yellow tape, Sam. Tommy's walking away from the cage like he's leaving a crime scene.

Much like "The Fighter" last year, this movie deals with the trials and tribulations of fighting brothers (both in and out of the ring). The biggest difference is that these brothers have traded in the poofy gloves of the sweet science for the knuckle pads of MMA. Also, much like "The Fighter", the acting performance of the family patriarch steals the show. Instead of an overbearing mother, this time it's Nick Nolte's recovering alcoholic widower who trains his son. The dynamic between the brothers is enough of a change to not cry "rip off" though. This story is much more of a formulaic Davids vs. Goliaths tale, but that is okay. What is does it does with flair and sincere emotion. The one critique I have is that the two Pittsburgh natives are played by an Australian and a Brit. Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy may have the physical look, but their accents broke quite a few times during the movie.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Better Life (2011) 4/5


Promise me you'll come back!

"Maria Full of Grace", "Under the Same Moon", "Fast Food Nation", "Babel" and quite a few others have used the medium of film to attempt to show the American public the plight of illegal Hispanic immigrants in the United States. Most of these have used snapshots or very specific situations to illustrate the problems and move the viewer to action or emotion. This movie excels in that it is able to capture a huge chunk of the illegal worker's experience and at the same time keep the story incredibly personal and relatable. As we follow Carlos Galindo through dealing with police, theft, gangs, and deportation it is impossible to avoid sharing in his joys and (sadly, much more often) his pains. Demian Bichir deserves all the accolades he is getting this award season as he gives one of the most moving and, most of all, believable performances of the year.

There is a huge problem with the way our country treats immigrants (especially those here illegally). The only way it is going to change is if we begin to think of all people as fellow citizens of the world first and then move on to how we can all have "A Better Life".

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

War Horse (2011) 5/5


Can you imagine flying over a war and you know you can never look down? You have to look forward, or you'll never get home. ...What could be braver than that?

Viewing the horrors of war from the point of view of an animal. I'm a little surprised this didn't happen earlier (maybe it did, and I'm forgetting it) because it works perfectly to expose war's absolute needlessness. The beautiful boy gets horse-boy loses horse-boy gets horse story is framed perfectly by amazing cinematography and John Williams indispensable score. The pacifist theme is simply icing on the cake.