24 February 2008
  some final reflections before the big game
so john and i once again survived the best picture showcase in woodbridge yesterday--all five nominated films in 12 hours. i had already seen all the movies, but i actually enjoyed watching them again. with the exception of juno i think i really enjoyed all the movies more the second time around. (still, i managed to discover about 30 more things to hate about juno). john's fave is still there will be blood, but i think i'll be rooting for atonement tonight, even though it doesn't have a whore's prayer in heaven of winning anything but best score. in any case, as the clock winds down, here are so final reflections on this year's nominated flicks.

1. it's official. "i'll drink your milkshake" has definitely ascended to the throne as this year's most memorable movie line, taking the place of last year's most notable quote from the most quotably movie, dame judi dench's "you are NOT young." still, michael clayton's "i am shiva the god of war" comes in a close second.

2. nothing would make me happier tonight than to see marion cotillard surprise julie christie and walk away with the vesr actress oscar. just because she speaks french, doesn't mean she is a bad person. honest.

3. actually, what would really make me happy tonight would be to see persepolis take the best animated movie award away from ratatouille, but we all know that there is NO fucking way that is going to happen, so i don't even dare to dream.

4. the worst movie this year was without a doubt the unintentionally funny gone baby gone. it is so awful beyond words. i am really glad it got largely ignored (except for the not too terrible amy ryan). still i am hoping she doesn't win if only because i fear an academy award will urge these people to make more movies, and they shouldn't. really they shouldn't. as a matter of fact, i wouldn't normally do this, but just in case you ever have the urge to watch this movie. . . morgan freeman stole the baby. there. i saved you two hours of your life.

5. still, i think i'd rather watch gone baby gone again then away from her. even though gone baby gone sucks, at least it is fun to laugh at. on the other hand, away from her could not be more boring if it tried. sorry sarah polley, but there is almost know way you are going to get me to watch another one of your movies, unless i am really in need of a nap.

6. i can't really pick out any single worst performance of the year, but it is easy to point out the worst casting: casey affleck is 32 years old. the coward robert ford is 19. sorry casey, i don't know what people are telling you, but you sure as fuck can't pass for 19. i don't understand why the people who cast this movie couldn't find an actor who was at least within a decade of the age of the character he was playing. (okay, granted he isn't that bad in the role, but you just kind of have to tell yourself he's playing a 30 year old. otherwise, you will be scratching your head all the way).

7. although marion cotillard definitely gave the best performance of the year, there were quite a few actors who gave really good performances in multiple movies. it seems like this is more the case this year than in past years i can remember. cate blanchett, obviously in the golden age and i'm not there. josh brolin in in the valley of elah, american gangster and no country. tommy lee jones in in the valley of elah and no country. michelle pfeiffer in hairspray and stardust. johnny depp in at world's end and sweeney todd. christian bale in 3:10 to yuma, recue dawn and i'm not there. but for me, the best all around performer of the year was russell crowe. i think that both of his performances in 3:10 to yuma and american gangster should have been nominated for oscars.

8. i really hope that guy who directs the oscars lays off the montages tonight although i imagine there is a fat chance of that happening.

alright, that's it for now. gotta go make our oscar watching dinner. guess what we're having for dessert. . .
22 February 2008
  my oscar predictions

well it's been a pretty boring oscar year really, in spite of the will-it-or-won't-it-happen drama, and i don't expect there to be a whole lot of surprises on sunday. no country for old men will no doubt win almost all of the awards it's been nominated for. it was a fine movie, not my favorite at all, but i don't have any brokeback mountain level animosity towards it or anything. in any case, i am hoping for at least a few mild surprises, most notably in the best actress category. here's my predix:

supporting actor:
will win. . . javier bardem i don't think has lost a single award so far this season, so it would be an absolute shock if he didn't walk away a winner on sunday. it's a fine performance, but i will never understand how every year so much hype seems to surround performances and films that aren't really in any way spectacular. there are lots of performances that could and should challenge him.
should win. . . when i first saw into the wild back in the fall, i walked away just drained by hal holbrook's performance. it kinda irks me when so many people keep calling him the sentimental favorite, rather than focusing on the real reason he is nominated-- a fantastic performance. it is so good, it almost makes me afraid to watch the movie again. too freaking sad. (oh and one other note, i don't know how casey affleck got nominated in this category but he is without a doubt the lead in the assassination of jesse james)
my five. . . hal holbrook, javier bardem, russell crowe (3:10 to yuma), ben foster (3:10 to yuma) and john travolta (hairspray).

supporting actress:
will win. . . this is the only category besides maybe director that hasn't been set in stone for months now. on the one hand everyone seems to love cate blanchett and for a while she would have been the frontrunner, but there seems to be backlash. so that leaves the door open for amy ryan. for the life of me, i can't figure out why anyone liked gone baby gone (the worst i have seen all year), and her performance was really very small left a lot to be desired. tilda swinton seems to gaining speed also, and then there is the sag winner, ruby dee (who really was quite fantastic in american gangster). i think i am going to have to predict amy ryan even though ANYTHING else would make me happy.
should win. . . cate blanchett is one of those actresses that is so good in everything that she does, that i think academy members might assume (correctly) that she doesn't really need this award and give it to someone like ruby dee or amy ryan who would most likely appreciate it a lot more. still, her bob dylan was one of the year's best performances, and it should be rewarded.
my five. . . cate blanchett, ruby dee, saorsie ronan, romola garai (atonement) and michelle pfeiffer (hairspray)

will win. . . daniel day lewis will win this award, but something tells me it isn't as much of a lock as everyone presumes it is. once again, he may be falling into the cate blanchett trap of looking like he doesn't really need it. still, even though most people are saying that george clooney poses the biggest threat here, my gut tells me that johnny depp is giving him a run for his money. the academy really wants to give johnny depp an oscar, and every year he just barely seems to miss out. even though it may be a relatively close race, daniel day lewis can't lose.
should win. . . lewis is fantastic. that goes without saying. he is one of those actors that you really like watching on screen, but you probably wouldn't want to get close to in real life. he is just too intense. the only thing that bothers me just a little bit about lewis' performance is that it is somewhat reminiscent of bill the butcher in gangs of new york. but you know me, i love dramatic, scene chewing, huge performances, and that is what this one is.
my five. . . daniel day lewis, johnny depp, tommy lee jones, russell crowe (american gangster) and denzel washington (american gangster).

will win. . . whether or not this is a close race or not is really anyone's guess. i haven't necessarily been quiet about my confusion over julie christie's nomination here. #1 her role is SUPPORTING. #2 the movie, and her performance are as boring as sin. and #3 she just isn't that good in it. in the back of my mind i think a lot of people want to admit that she isn't spectacular in away from her, but they are afraid to step out of the pack. marion cotillard and ellen page aren't totally out of the picture yet, but it looks like it is christie's to lose.
should win. . . the only reason that marion cotillard won't win this award is that too many academy voters are afraid to watch movies with subtitles. as has become overwhelmingly evident this awards season, when it comes to foreign films, the academy is 100% helpless. cotillard's turn as edith piaf is no doubt the best performance of the year in any category. almost everyone that sees la vie en rose seems to agree on that. this is the one category i am really rooting for an upset.
my five. . . marion cotillard, cate blanchett, keira knightley (atonement), helena bonham carter (sweeney todd) and nikki blonsky (hairspray)

will win. . . this category is a bit of a mystery. on the one hand, the coen brothers are widely assumed to be the best filmmakers of the year, and most people seem to be rooting for them to win. however, the academy has almost never awarded directing duos. so if they follow suit this year, the award is poised to be handed to the diving bell and the butterfly's julian schnabel. as much as i want to predict an upset here and see schnabel win the award, i think it is going to be a historic year for the coen brothers.
should win. . . of the five nominated directors i think i would be most pleased to see there will be blood's paul thomas anderson win this award. i really admire filmmakers that make bold, dramatic choices with their direction. even if there are a few mistakes made along the way, as long as the director took chances i can accept them. i really think the directing oscar should go to tim burton for sweeney todd. nobody but him could have made this movie. it is a great achievement in filmmaking.
my five. . . tim burton, paul thomas anderson, sean penn (into the wild), andrew dominik (the assassination of jesse james by the coward robert ford) and julie taymor (across the universe)

original screenplay:
will win. . . the worst thing about juno (and there are many many bad things to choose from) is the screenplay. it is dull, unfunny and at times almost incomprehensible. there are so many scenes that go nowhere. there are so many characters that should have been excised early in script development. yet for some reason that i will never be able to understand diablo cody will win her oscar this year and everyone will swoon and i will go to the kitchen for a cookie or something.
should win. . . to be completely honest i haven't yet seen any of the nominated screenplays except juno (although i am going to see michael clayton tomorrow). i can't imagine i would like lars and the real girl. it looks mind numbingly stupid. and i am almost certain i would hate ratatouille. so i guess i will be rooting for the savages. my pic for best original screenplay would have been paul haggis' flawless script for in the valley of elah.
my five. . . paul haggis, adrienne shelley (waitress), scott frank (the lookout), olivier dahan (la vie en rose) and matt groening et al. (the simpsons movie)

adapted screenplay:
will win. . . the consensus seems to be that the coen brother's script for no country will take this award along with the boatload of other awards the movie is destined to receive, but i sort of think that if the coens win best pic and best directors, the academy may throw a bone here to paul thomas anderson's blood. i still think the coen brothers will win, but i wouldn't be surprised to see a mild upset here.
should win. . . there are some excellent screenplays nominated in this category. there will be blood is a well written adaptation and i think that this category is where the film is most deserving of a win. atonement is also a great movie and i would be happy to see it win the category even though it has no chance. although i haven't seen it yet, the diving bell and the butterfly sounds like an excellent movie, and i am happy to see it get at least a little attention (for a foreign film). still, the greatest screen adaptation this year without a doubt was sean penn's masterful rewriting of john krakauer's incredible book into the wild.
my five. . . sean penn, paul thomas anderson, christopher hampton (atonement), halsted welles (3:10 to yuma) and marjane satrapi (persepolis)

will win. . . the ratings for the oscars have been down lately, and i think that has something to with how everyone is trying to make this category seem like it isn't all wrapped up. but alas there will be no crash-type upset sunday night. no country for old men will cap off an incredibly successful night with a final feather in their collective cap.
should win. . . of the final nominated films there are some great, some good, and some what-the-hell-are-people-thinking. starting at the bottom of the rung, i will never understand why people are falling all over themselves cheering for the crap-fest that is juno. in the middle is no country, not too great, but certainly not bad. and then there are the truly great atonement and there will be blood. i will be rooting for atonement (is it completely outside the realm of possibility? i think yes, but people are saying no). still, truly the best movie of the year was persepolis. too bad it is in french.
my five. . . persepolis, into the wild, hairspray, atonement and 3:10 to yuma

other categories:
cinematography. . . i think any of the five nominated movies could potentially come out on top in this category. especially after last year's children of men catastrophe, it seems pretty obvious that people voting on this category don't know what cinematography is (pretty landscapes ala brokeback mountain does not equal excellent camera work). it is most likely going to be the assassination of jesse james or there will be blood. i think some of the cinematography in atonement is fantastic, but not quite as great as james. still, my prediction is there will be blood
art direction. . . it shocks me that there is even a chance that sweeney todd won't win this category. burton's art direction here is so fantastic that it really makes the movie. it is just fun to look at. there will be blood is the favorite to win this, and it might be deserving in another year. i am going to go ahead and predict sweeney todd in this category, if only because it seems like a travesty not to.
costumes. . . once again, the costumes in sweeney todd are truly fabulous. it is one of those movies that you watch and think that these actors must have really been living in the scene. i wouldn't even begin to think of how they could get out of bed and walk into the film and seem like such a part of the scenery otherwise. there is a lot of support for atonement here (it's amazing what a little green dress can do), but i am still thinking it is sweeney todd's to lose.
makeup. . . i had never seen marion cotillard before watching this movie, so i didn't really know what she looked like, but now that i know it just makes the makeup in this movie that much more fascinating. in la vie en rose, she goes back in forth in age from her teens to maybe her late 40s. i don't think i have ever seen a movie like that where this shift seems so convincing. la vie en rose will win this category no doubt.
score. . . it's kind of screwed up that johnny greenwood's score for there will be blood was disqualified in this category, but my favorite score for atonement was my favorite. it's so cool how they made the sound of the typewriter dominate the film's music. and it is going to win the category.
song. . . i really don't care too much about this category this year since none of the songs from into the wild or love in the time of cholera made the cut. in short, the best film song will not win this award. but the oscar will probably go to that song from once that everyone seems to be putting over their oscar montages this year.
foreign film. . . what a disaster. here is a list of the best foreign films this year-- the diving bell and the butterfly, 4 months 3 weeks and 2 days, persepolis, lust caution and the orphanage. here's how many of these movies that were nominated in this category-- zero. in fact none of them even made the top 10 shortlist. the five nominated movies are no doubt inferior, nobody has ever seen them, and so i just don't care.
21 February 2008
  2007 top 10

so, it has really been a great year for movies, especially after the past two kind of down years. (remember when crash won best pic in 2006? there was like nothing out that year). there are at least four or five movies that really should have been in this list, that i just couldn't quite fit in. but here's what i've managed to come up with. (and no, i didn't include high school musical 2. . . although maybe i should have. hm.)

10. the lookout. . . i don't know who joseph gordon levitt's manager is, but she should really be given an enthusiastic high five or something. every movie he does is always so fantastic. of all the young male actors, levitt is definitely my favorite. i think the lookout just represents how young hollywood can actually make movies that don't suck (take that lindsay lohan). it is a really intelligent movie, well written, great acting. i can't wait to see what levitt does next.

9. in the valley of elah. . . just as joseph gordon levitt can't seem to make a movie i don't like, paul haggis hasn't yet disappointed me with any of the movies he has written either. i actually didn't expect to like this, but it is really fantastic. haggis' writing is so subtle and nuanced here. there's no clint eastwood or oliver stone-esque dramatic braggadocio here (not that there isn't room for that sometimes). it is just a sad, lonely story with no easy solutions presented in the end. and to top it off, the miracle is that charlize theron didn't bother me nearly as much as she usually does (even though she still sucks).

8. there will be blood. . . i sort of go back and forth on this one. when i first saw it i thought it may have been a little over the top, but the more i think about it, the more it grows on me. obviously daniel day lewis is amazing, even though his performance is a little reminiscent of bill the butcher. the cinematography is really interesting, and the landscapes are definitely beautiful. but i think that the real reason that this movie is one of the year's best is that p.t. anderson made so many risky, gutsy decisions with both the script and his direction. even though the product isn't flawless i respect his work.

7. sweeney todd. . . tim burton is a strange strange man but that's why i love him. this movie is no doubt like nothing you have ever seen. amazingly, i think this movie is even gorier and more violent than no country, and that's an accomplishment. what i love about burton is that he can tell a whole story using just his art direction. i would have probably loved this movie if there had been no music or even no actors at all-- just watching the scenery. but that doesn't mean i didn't love the music too and depp and bonham carter are fantastic. (i wouldn't want to eat their pies though).

6. american gangster. . . see, this is why 2007 was such a great year at the movies. no doubt american gangster was a much better movie than the departed and it didn't even make the best pic list this year. all of the problems i had with the departed were erased here by ridley scott. most notably, this movie really tackles the structural problems at the heart of nyc's drug and organized crime problems, and attempts to engage not only with the glamour of the whole thing, but also with all the tragic aspects. i was so fascinated with the complexity of this story. Scott manages to tie up organized crime, race, poverty, gender, the Vietnam War, drugs, police corruption, media and religion.

5. 3:10 to yuma. . . i really love westerns, and nobody is happier than me that 2007 marked a brief renaissance for them. 3:10 to yuma marks the year's best example of the genre. i think some people were irritated with or confused by the ending, but if it had ended any other way it would have been out of step with the western genre. men in these movies don't always make the most rational decisions. it is about masculinity, family honor, promises and revenge. so what if christian bale risks his life for perhaps specious reasoning. in a fictional outlaw-town in southern arizona, it makes perfect sense.

4. atonement. . . this was definitely the acting movie of the year. keira knightley, james mcavoy, saorsie ronan, romola garai and vanessa redgrave all deserve to be nominated. and then there is the amazing cinematography. the sweeping scene of dunkirk is just awesome. this movie just made me want to scream out at the screen so many times. everyone just makes one mistake after another. i hate that feeling of seeing everyone decend into tragic circumstances, and there's nothing i can do but watch. at the very least, seeing knightley in her green dress made up for it a little.

3. hairspray. . . yeah it was a little too cleaned up from the john waters original for my taste, but who gives a care. how much fun was watching this movie? john and i only own about three or four truly happy movies in our 400+ collection, but this one is at the top of the list (sorry emperor's new groove). john travolta is just hilarious in the divine role, and this was the best performance by michelle pfeiffer in her comeback year. but even though this is a fun, silly, happy movie, it is also just plain good.

2. into the wild. . . krakauer's into the wild is one of my all time favorite books, which would generally mean that these movie would suck big time, but to my surprise it didn't. i actually think sean penn added something to the story. he really emphasized the complicated nature of christopher mcandless' journey, when it would have been so easy to paint him as some sort of thoreau or kerouac character, wise beyond his years. what he ended up showing us was a lonely, conflicted character, confused about a lot of things, learning along the way but also resistant to learning. i think that this movie is one that isn't for everyone. it is really difficult to watch at times. but if you can overcome how overwhelmingly sad it is, i think you can really get a lot out of this.

1. persepolis. . . i wasn't surprised that i liked this movie, but i was surprised by how much i liked it. i am really not a fan of animated movies (especially after hearing lars von trier expound on how shallow they are in the five obstructions) but the animation here is so gorgeous, you just get lost in it. the story itself is set forth much like a comic strip, so there are bits and pieces here and there and a lot left out. the result is that the viewer is challenged to sort of engage with persepolis in a way that you are almost never able to do with movies. i still have a ton of questions after watching this movie, but i think that is why i liked it so much. it is intricate and challenging and just a good movie to watch and talk about for hours afterwards.
18 February 2008
  okay, i'm just gonna say it
so it's oscar week, and i don't really care if it isn't the "in" thing to say, but i am just gonna come out with it-

julie christie really isn't that good in away from her.

first of all, i really think this role was more supporting than lead. she is only in probably less than half of the film. honestly, olympia dukakis is almost as central to the film as christie, and i actually liked her performance better. but really this was gordon pinsent's film. he is really the only lead here.

that being said, the relatively little time christie is on camera, she doesn't really do that much acting. Mostly the camera just watches her as she plays cards on the other side of the room or watches her lie on her bed and stare blankly at the wall. There are probably 3 or 4 scenes where she actually acts.

Now one certainly couldn't call this a "bad" performance, but all i'm saying is that it wasn't really all that "great" either. The movie was as boring as sin and she certainly didn't do much to supplement the excitement. i don't even think this performance can even be put on the same plane as marion cotillard in la vie en rose or cate blanchett in elizabeth.

so, in short, sorry to have to say it but christie = not so good here.
Luke and John talk about movies

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