Monday, 30 January 2012

Kramer vs. Kramer

Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979
Directed by Robert Benton
Nominated for 9 Oscars, Won 5
Won BP Over: All That Jazz, Apocalypse Now, Breaking Away and Norma Rae

Synopsis: Ted Kramer is caught off guard when his wife, Joanna, announces she's leaving him, and leaving their 5 year old son. Ted is a career man, and while he likes to think he has a clue about his son, he doesn't really. Slowly, he grows to know his son well, and become a better father than he ever was. And once he settles into that role, his son loving him and he loving his son, Joanna returns and wants their son, Billy, back.

This film won a lot of the big awards that year. Dustin Hoffman won Best Actor, Meryl Streep won Best Supporting Actress, Robert Benton won Best Director, It won best adapted screenplay, as well as Best Picture. While it was a little bit cliche, here 33 years later, I know at the time the idea was quite original. The father a workaholic, seeing divorce from (kind of) equal sides. It was a moving story about the pain of divorce, and just how selfish it is, especially when there's a child in the picture.

I thought this was an emotional piece about a father who's able to turn his life around for his kids and about how divorce ruins lives. Ted Kramer hardly knows his child when his wife leaves him (not unlike Matt King in this year's The Descendants), but after working hard, getting to know his son, and realizing just what it takes to not just be a father, but to be a "daddy" to his little son, changed their relationship. It shows just how much parenthood changes you, and just how much family matters in your life, whether you want it to or not. It's the age-old idea that while career is important, don't make it the most important thing.

Dustin Hoffman played Ted Kramer perfectly. He was able to bring out so many sides of Ted, and make him such a real person. We saw the angry sides of Ted, telling his son he hates him, angry his wife left him, and angry the lawyers in court won't listen to him when he's trying to say his son is everything to him. We see him become the better parent, supporting his son, listening to him, and realizing all his son wants is love from his father. He doesn't care if his father is doing all the "right things" a father should do, he just wants his daddy to love him. With that being said, Billy, played by Justin Henry, was also nominated for his acting. He played Billy so well, really bringing him to life, and really seeming to understand the character. We see his immense sadness, and his pure joy, and his anger. He is still, currently, the youngest nominee in Academy History, being 8 years old.

Continuing on the acting note, this was Meryl Streep's first Oscar win, and second nomination. While she didn't have a very large part in the film, she was really good. She was such an unsympathetic character, yet at the same time, you almost did sympathize her. She brought the perfect balance of vulnerability to the role, yet a fierceness of a mother wanting her child back. She captured who Joanna Kramer was so well, and, again, brought her to life. But did I expect anything less of Meryl? I did not.

Overall, I liked the film very much. It was moving, and heartbreaking, and endearing. It may me ponder the idea of marriage, and just how sad it is nobody seems to be able to keep their promises anymore. And this film showed the consequences of that. People's lives are ruined, and they are very hard to fix. So many things in marriages can be fixed if one only tries. Had Joanna sought help for her marriage, things would've been very different. But the vows say "for better or for worse". So when the worse comes, why do people use it as an excuse to divorce? If anything, that's the time to stand firm in your relationship, and really try. Because marriage isn't easy. Feelings are easy, commitment takes effort.

Acting- 8.5/10     
Directing- 8/10     
Screenplay- 8/10     
Music – 7.5/10    
Visuals- 7.5/10     
Entertaining- 8/10    
Emotional Connection- 8/10     
Rewatchability- 7.5/10     
Overall Enjoyment- 8/10     
Overall Package- 7.5/10      

Total: 78.5/100

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Oscar Nominees- How did I do!?

Well, the list of nominations are up! I'll post both the nominees and I'll let you know how I did with my predictions in each category!

Best Picture:
- The Artist
- Descendants
- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
- The Help
- Hugo
- Midnight in Paris
- Moneyball
- Tree of Life
- War Horse

Well, I was surprised to see 9 nominees this year. Especially the presence of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. That movie wasn't well-received at all, and has gotten hardly any nominations! Of my top 7, all of them were in there, and The Tree of Life was my number 8 choice. The only one I didn't predict at all was ELaIC, not even my top 20. But I did well, considering.
8/9= 88%

Best Animated Feature:
- A Cat in Paris
- Chico & Rita
- Kung Fu Panda 2
- Puss in Boots
- Rango

I must say, the notable absence here is the Adventures of Tin-Tin. Well if got mediocre reviews, it won the Golden Globe for Animated Feature. But, I'm very very excited to see Kung-Fu Panda 2 up for the award, which was my favourite animated film this year! I didn't predict it though it was my 8th choice.
3/5= 60%

Best Actor:
- Demian Bichir (A Better Life)
- George Clooney (The Descendants)
- Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
- Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)
- Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

This category also had some big surprises. Michael Fassbender and Leonardo DiCaprio were both left out, but Demian Bichir and Gary Oldman snuck in! Oldman has never received a nomination before, and after being snubbed by many awards, I'm happy to see him in here, though would've liked to see Fassbender in here as well! While I didn't predict Bichir and Oldman, there were my 6th and 8th choice.
3/5= 60%

Best Actress:
- Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs)
- Viola Davis (The Help)
- Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
- Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
- Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)

The big surprise here is Rooney Mara sneaking into the nominations, leaving Tilda Swinton out. I'm happy to see Mara in here. While I haven't see TGWTDT she looks pretty incredible in it. While she wasn't predicted, she was my 6th choice.

Best Supporting Actor:
- Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
- Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
- Nick Nolte (Warrior)
- Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
- Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

Another surprising omission here is Albert Brooks, and Max von Sydow being included. But really, does it even matter, because Christopher Plummer has already won the award... While von Sydow wasn't in my top 5, he made the 6th spot
4/5= 80%

Best Supporting Actress:
- Berenice Bejo (The Artist)
- Jessica Chastain (The Help)
- Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
- Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
- Octavia Spencer (The Help)

I'm really, really sad to see Melissa McCarthy here over Shailene Woodley. I felt she gave a way better performance, but there you go. I didn't predict Janet McTeer but she was my 8th choice.
4/5= 80%

Best Director:
- Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
- Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
- Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
- Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
- Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)

There have been several directors battling out for the 5th directing spot (Spielburg, Fincher, Malik) and I'm happy to see Malik get in here. He wasn't on my predictions list, but he did take my 7th spot.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay):
- The Descendants
- Hugo
- The Ides of March
- Moneyball
- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

I'm happy to see all this Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy love! Well, it's not a lot, but it's getting tons, but it's gotten more than it has anywhere else! While I had predicted the Help & the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo over Ides and Tinker, Tailor, they were both my 6th and 7th positions.

Writing (Original Screenplay):
- The Artist
- Bridesmaids
- Margin Call
- Midnight in Paris
- A Separation

I did pretty terribly in this category, having only predicted The Artist and Midnight in Paris. While Bridesmaids was my 7th spot, Margin Call and A Separation weren't on my list.

Art Direction:
- The Artist
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
- Hugo
- Midnight in Paris
- War Horse

I'm happy to see HP here. I'd really love for it to win this one, having been deserving the entire 7 films. Additionally, I predicted The Artist and Hugo, with The Help and Tinker Tailor in here instead of Midnight in Paris and War Horse. Though WH was my 6th spot, and Midnight in Paris didn't make the list.

Best Visual Effects:
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
- Hugo
- Real Steel
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon

The largest omission here is the Tree of Life. Most expected it to be a shoe-in, but it looks like it got snubbed here. The movie to take it's place was Real Steel (which was my 7th spot). All the others, I got correctly.

- Albert Nobbs
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
- The Iron Lady

Again, really happy to see Harry Potter up for this. Truly deserving, and I'd say it's only slightly more the frontrunner over the Iron Lady. Would like to see HP win this one. I had predicted The Artist over Albert Nobbs, but got the other 2 correct.
2/3= 66%

- The Artist
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- Hugo
- The Tree of Life
- War Horse

The only one I got incorrect was putting HP over TGWTDT. I guess lots of HP nominations was wishful thinking. I'm still rooting for War Horse in this category.However, Dragon Tattoo was my 6th spot.

Costume Design:
- Anonymous
- The Artist
- Hugo
- Jane Eyre
- W.E.

I'm surprised to see W.E. here. It hasn't picked up many nominations anywhere, but managed to sneak into the Costume Design category. Additionally, Anonymous was able to sneak in too. While I predicted War Horse and My Week With Marilyn over them, they were my 6th and 9th choice. 

Film Editing:
- The Artist
- The Descendants
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- Hugo
- Moneyball

While I had predicted War Horse and The Tree of Life over The Descendants and Moneyball, I'm happy to see both of them here, especially Moneyball. They were my 6th and 8th spot.

Music (Original Score):
- The Adventures of Tintin (John Williams)
- The Artist (Ludovic Bource)
- Hugo (Howard Shore)
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Albert Iglesias)
- War Horse (John Williams)

The biggest shock here, for me, is the complete lack of Alexandre Desplat. He had a fantastically busy year scoring things like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Harry Potter, Carnage, The Ides of March, but didn't manage to make it in. Instead was see some more love for TTSS, with Albert Iglesias getting nominated for his work. Additionally, we have double John Williams, getting in for both Tin-Tin (making up for lack of Animated Feature nomination?), and for War Horse. While I had predicted HP and TGWTDT in here, Tin-Tin was my 10th choice, while TTSS didn't make the list.

Music (Original Song):
- Man or Muppet (The Muppets)
- Real in Rio (Rio)

Only 2 songs up for Best Original Song. One was in my top 10 (the Muppets) and one didn't make my list at all, though I loved Rio and love seeing it here!

Sound Editing:
- Drive
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- Hugo
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon
- War Horse

h, I didn't do too badly here, considering I didn't know what I was doing. I got Hugo, the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and War horse correct, while I wrongly predicted Tin-Tin and Super 8 over Drive and Transformers. Neither of them were in my top 10.
3/5= 60%

Sound Mixing:
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- Hugo
- Moneyball
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon
- War horse

Again, I wasn't too sure what I was doing, though I didn't do as well this time around. I correctly predicted Hugo & Transformers, while I predicted Pirates, Apes and Tin-Tin over Dragon Tattoo, Moneyball and War Horse. I'm happy to see the inclusion of Moneyball though, having said the other day I liked it's mixing (inexpertly).

Overall, I got a 69%, 64/91 predictions correct, all in my top 5 (or 3 for some categories). However, 91% of the nominees were in my top 10 list. I'd say I didn't fair too badly.

Hugo leads the nominations with 11, the Artist in second with 10, and War Horse and Moneyball in 3rd with 6.

I'll make winners predictions in a few weeks. Until then, happy awards season!

(Below are the other categories I didn't make predictions in)
Foreign Language Film:
- Bullhead
- Footnote
- In Darkness
- Monsieur Lazhar
- A Separation

Documentary (Feature):
- Hell and Back Again
- If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth LIberation Front
-Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
- Pina
- Undefeated
Documentary (Short Subject):
- The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
- God Is the Bigger Elvis
- Incident in New Baghdad
- Saving Face
- The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom
Short Film (Animated):
- Dimanche/Sunday
- The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
- La Luna
- A Morning Stroll
- Wild Life

Short Film (Live Action)
- Pentecost
- Raju
- The Shore
- Time Freak
- Tuba Atlantic

Monday, 23 January 2012

Heather's Oscar Picks

Now, Oscar nominations are being released tomorrow morning, and I thought I'd share my picks for Best Picture/Director/Acting, the things I'd choose if I were choosing the nominees.

Best Picture
War Horse
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part II
Like Crazy
Kung-Fu Panda 2
The Descendants
The Help
The Artist

Best Director
Bennett Miller- Moneyball
Steven Spielburg- War Horse
Drake Doremus- Like Crazy
Michel Hazanavicius- The Artist
Alexander Payne- The Descendants

Best Actor
George Clooney- The Descendants
Brad Pitt- Moneyball
Jean Dujardin- The Artist
Jeremy Irvine- War Horse
Anton Yelchin- Like Crazy

Best Actress
Felicity Jones- Like Crazy
Viola Davis- The Help
Kirsten Dunst- Melancholia
Michelle Williams- My Week With Marilyn
Rooney Mara- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Rickman- Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part II
Jonah Hill- Moneyball
Andy Serkis- Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Brad Pitt- The Tree of Life
Albert Brooks- Drive

Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spender- the Help
Jessica Chastain- The Help
Shailene Woodley- The Descendants
Chloe Moretz- Hugo
Berenice Bejo- The Artist

Yes, I was a big Harry Potter, Moneyball, Like Crazy fan. These would be my choices, would I be in charge of the nominations! Oscar predictions out tomorrow!


Moneyball, 2011
Directed by Bennett Miller
Potential Nominations Include: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Cinematography

Synopsis: It's 2001, and the Oakland A's is the lowest salary team in the league. Billy Beane, the General Manager is fed up with losing, and losing good players to richer teams. How can you make a good team when you're running on $40 million, when the Yankees are running on $120 million? When Billy meets Peter Brand, a player analysis, he introduces Billy into a new way of thinking about baseball that could change everything anyone's ever thought baseball was about, and change it forever.

Before you start thinking, I'm a little late on reviewing it, just like Midnight in Paris, this is my review after watching it a second time. I went and saw it in theatres a few weeks after it's release in September, and loved it. Now, I'm no baseball fan. Sure, I've been to a few games. I've seen the Jays several times over the years, and went and saw the Yankees in NYC last April, but overall, baseball is not my thing at all. It doesn't really captivate me, nor interest me. It's a little slow-running for me, personally. However, this film really invited me right in. It was a film about baseball, but there wasn't a whole lot of baseball in it.

The film consists of the behind-the-scenes of baseball. Billy Beane is trying to figure out how to build a successful team from a tiny budget. Peter Brand tells him you aren't buying players, you're buying wins. And by buying wins you're buying runs, meaning you have to get people "who get on base". So many players are overlooked for a variety of different reasons. And we see that there is value in different ways than people think.

The story was really well told, with a really honest screenplay. It was well-paced, and introduced enough that non-baseball fans could follow it, but it wasn't too simplistic, it was just right. Additionally, the cinematography of this film is completely underrated, as is the sound mixing. The cinematography on the big screen was pretty dazzling in a subtle way. The green of the field was surrounding, and the montage scenes were beautifully shot, as were the everyday things, such as the dressing room and stands at night, the empty fields, everything. It probably won't be nominated, but I loved it anyways.

Along with that, the score by Mychael Dana is perfect for this film. It's slow-paced, and just so inspirational sounding. It's simple, and is so effective. The sound mixing for this film is great. So many times we have silence, and it's so effective. Silence, except for the sound of a ball hitting a bat, or just the low notes of the cello. While the score isn't thrilling by itself, it's extremely effective paired with the film.

I'd also like the mention the acting. Brad Pitt was really good in this film. He played all the different sides of Billy Beane so well, going from father, to GM, anger, love, pride, and competitiveness, and teacher. He was very convincing in his role, and expect him to receive a nomination, though I felt Clooney will likely steal the win, having given a slightly better performance. I've become a big fan of Brad Pitt lately. Not just the looks or whatever, but find him to be a really good actor, and always makes really good choices. Would love to see him win an Oscar, but sadly, it won't be this time. Additionally, like Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris, it's nice to see an actor who is usually in terrible movies (Superbad just being one of them) do a serious role, and show some potential. This especially paid off for Jonah Hill, having been great as Peter Brand, the awkward, statistics whiz kid that Billy befriends. He really showed some good potential, and he has a good shot at making the Supporting Actor cut on Tuesday.

Honestly, if this film won Best Picture, I wouldn't be disappointed. It was my favourite film of the awards season, and the year, before War Horse strolled along, and I still enjoyed it very much. It was incredibly well done, looks, story, acting, etc. While the Artist was a great film, I'd love to see this film win the Big Prize, but frankly, it's not going to happen, though I'd love to see it happen.


Sunday, 22 January 2012

Going My Way

Going My Way, 1944
Directed by Leo McCarey
Nominated for 10 Oscars, Won 7
Won BP over: Double Indemnity, Gaslight, Wilson, Since You Went Away

Synopsis: Father Fitzgibbon has been with St. Dominics Parish for 45 years ("46 this October!") and is getting older. When he meets Father Chuck O'Malley, the new assistant, he isn't too keen on him. He's young, and very different from Fitzgibbon. He has a different way of doing so many things. But the church is in trouble, financially, and they need to find a way to turn it around. Though Father O'Malley may just be what the church needs. He connects with the trouble-making youth gang, but also handle the business and the busy-bodies of the church. But can he win over the trust and adoration of the superior Fitzgibbon?

This film won Bing Crosby his first and only Oscar. However, this film wasn't exactly Oscar material. It was a collection of stories, surrounding the church, and the two Fathers, O'Malley and Fitzgibbon. It's a humorous story, but not exactly the most deep of films. It's light-hearted, but it doesn't go a whole lot deeper than that.

The story is cliche at best. The old man not so welcoming of the younger guy, and the new way he's heading, and while the younger guy tries to appeal to him, it can't be done. But eventually it does, through his showing of potential, and his general charm and how much he cares.

The acting is well done, though, I must say. Bing was great, and the Oscar was well-deserved. He was light-hearted and charming, though was solemn and serious when he needed to be. Barry Fitzgerald (Father Fitzgibbon) was also quite charming. In an interesting circumstance, Fitzgerald was nominated for Both Lead and Supporting Actor, for the same role. However, being more of a supporting role, it was more fitting he should win for that. He was so cute and funny, and just charming as the old Father, and played his part so well.

That being put aside, this film was average at best, filled with cliche story lines, and while it made a nice film to watch once and appreciate Bing Crosby and the films he made, this was certainly not his best, nor was it Best Picture worthy. There were random smatterings of stories that were unnecessary, and storylines that could've and should've been played up more but weren't (the taming of the local troublemaker children, the forming of their choir, etc). Though, undeniably, the chemistry between Crosby and Fitzgerald was great.

Overall, the film wasn't that great, was a little too long for the subject it was about, and was just an okay film. There were a handful of good songs, and Bing Crosby is undeniably a very good actor, as is Barry Fitzgerald, but it didn't have much to it other than that.

Acting- 7.5/10     
Directing- 7/10     
Screenplay- 6/10     
Music – 7.5/10    
Visuals- 7.5/10     
Entertaining- 5/10    
Emotional Connection- 5/10     
Rewatchability- 6/10     
Overall Enjoyment- 6/10     
Overall Package- 7/10      

Total: 64.5/100 

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris, 2011
Directed by Woody Allen
Potential Nominations Include: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay

Synopsis: Engaged couple, Gil and Inez have come to Paris with Inez's parents as tag-alongs on her parent's business trip. Gil instantly falls in love with the city, ready to give up his life as Hollywood screenwriter, his life in California to live in Paris and finish his novel he's been labouring over. Inez feels differently, and see's it as a tourist trip, and more looks forward to going out dancing with her friends, than taking in the city like Gil. But after midnight, Gil experiences something very strange on the streets or Paris. Suddenly it's Paris 1920, he gets invited into an old car, taken about the city and meets people like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso. But while he seems to be discovering himself, and where his heart truly lies, he's also discovering where his heart doesn't lie.

Ironically, this is probably the last potential Best Picture nominee I'll need to see, but it was the first one released, making it's debut in theatres in June. I've heard so many good things about it since then, it having been nominated for all 4 Guild Awards (SAG, PGA, DGA, WGA), making it a lock for a Best Picture nomination. Also, it's Woody Allen, who is extremely well known and loved. So, naturally, I've been waiting a while to see this film.

Knowing the concept I was wondering how it would pan out without seeming cheesy, or simple, or just plain generic. But it was done very well, and I could see the moral of it The idea of nostalgia is brought up very early on and we can see where this film is headed. Gil is determined 1920's is the Golden Age, between the writing and the art, and the music.

Overall, I didn't find the movie ah-mazing, but I did enjoy it. It was nice to see Owen Wilson in a different type of role, and seeing that he actually does have some talent, hidden behind those awful movies he usually does was nice. He was well-acted, funny, and just so human. He was star-struck, but at the same time retrospective as well as introspective. While it wasn't an Oscar winning performance, or even worth a nomination, I enjoyed him as Gil. We saw Marion Cottilard as Adriana, the alluring French woman that has captured the hearts of Picasso, a variety of famous painters, and, finally, Gil. Marion was completely alluring, yet seemingly innocent, and played her part well. Everyone in the cast did a great job, and it was a hefty cast indeed including Rachel McAdams as Inez, Tom Hiddleston as Fitzgerald, Kathy Bates are Gertrude Stein, Michael Sheen as Paul, the intelligent man that Inez adores. The casting was great, and made it star-studded, but not overly so, though well-done.

Owen really carried the film on his shoulders. We really understood Gil, where he was coming from, and his aggrevation at Paul being a know it all, Inez shushing him and adoring Paul, and just trying to finish his novel, looking for better life than his shallow one in California. The story was just told in a way that we so believed. We were able to put off our sense of disbelief and just accept everything, and we couldn't understand why Inez didn't see it, or why she didn't understand. Gil was a very likable character, and was told so honestly.

Additionally, the shots of Paris really were beautiful. I felt like I saw so much of the city, though I've never been to it. We understood Gil's love for the city, and we see what he sees, the beauty in everything. Also, the costumes were great, and were just so 1920's (obviously), but they were just so well done. The hair, the dresses, the suits, everything just looked so great, but in a subtle way. We could see it was still the same Paris that Gil and Inez are in, but it's also the one Hemingway and Fitzgerald lived in. The same, yet subtly different. The screenplay was also well-written. As I mentioned, Gil is such a believable character, but yet so are so many of the others, including Inez, and Hemingway, and Adriana. It had touches or humor, but it was also touching, and intelligent.

Overall, again, I thought it was a good movie. It was a nice, humorous story about a couple who are clearly not right for each other, and the idea of never being satisfied with where and who we are. Had people not known the references in the film it wouldn't be appreciated, and I only picked up on about 75%, enough to appreciate, but also just a little too much I didn't know that I felt slightly left out. I liked it, I'd watch it again, and I'd recommend it, but it's not my top film of the year. Didn't hate it, didn't die over it. It was a nice film, with a nice story.


Friday, 20 January 2012

How Green Was My Valley

How Green Was My Valley, 1941
Directed by John Ford
Nominated for 10 Oscars, Won 5
Won BP Over Blossoms in the Dust, Citizen Kane, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Hold Back the Dawn, The Little Foxes, The Maltese Falcon, One Foot in Heaven, Sergeant York, Suspicion.

Synopsis: We see the story of The Morgan family, living in a Welsh mining town, through the eyes of the youngest son, Huw.

Overall, this film didn't really have a structured plot line, and was more a series of anecdotes, and smaller subplots. We have the subplot of Huw's father and brothers working in the mines, pay getting cut, going on strike, etc. We have the story of Huw's only sister, Angharad, the prettiest girl in the town, who's in love with the preacher, but she cannot be with him. And then we have Huw, who is trying to become a man, we see him learn to walk after an accident, and going to school, and working in the mines.

I was a big fan of the acting in this film, specifically, the little boy who played Huw (Roddy McDowall). He was natural, didn't overact, and was charming as the young boy telling the story. While he didn't really carry the film, he gave off the innocence of a little boy so well, from when we first see him, to the very end, and we're on his side all the way. I thought he was the most interesting character overall, and wasn't too interested in the scenes without him (there were many). Additionally, both his parents were quite good (the father, Donald Crisp, who Best Supporting Actor), as well as his sister.

Also the film looked very good, as it had won Best Cinematography. And the Original Score was quite good, too. Fun fact about the score: Alfred Newman is the most nominated composer in Best Original Score (He was 43 Nominations, John Williams has 40 (many saw JW has more, but I'm not including best original song, this is score only), is the 2nd most Oscar nominated individual (lost to Disney, tied with JW), scored the 20th Century Fox, then 20th Century Pictures, theme that's still in use today, and he is father to famous composer Thomas Newman (Finding Nemo, American Beauty) and uncle to Randy Newman (Toy Story, Monsters Inc, etc), and is considered one of the three Godfathers of film music, and is still considered one of the greatest composers to work with film. That being said, he didn't win an Oscar for this film, but the music was fantastic anyway.

The set design was also very good. The Welsh city looked great, and had a small, homey feel to it. The small stone houses, the church, the little shops, everything was quaint, and fit the story very well. 

Overall, I didn't find the story all that interesting, and found myself quickly bored with it. While everything concerning Huw was interesting (his accident, going to school, etc), everything else wasn't that remarkable. The stories were realistic, and so honest, but at the same time, they didn't quite capture me. It was a bland story, and so many of the characters you didn't get to know enough. I hardly knew the names, much less the character of all of Huw's brothers, and we only kind of know the sister, and only really in the aspect that she loves the new preacher.

Unpopular opinion, but this is my least favourite Best Picture winner yet. Many complain it beat out Citizen Kane, which is a classic. Frankly, it was an okay film, but I don't see what made it the best film of the year. It was a boring story about a Welsh mining family, and in the end, I felt no impact or emotional connection from it.

Acting- 9.5/10     
Directing- 8/10     
Screenplay- 6/10     
Music – 7/10    
Visuals- 7/10     
Entertaining- 2/10    
Emotional Connection- 4/10     
Rewatchability- 2/10     
Overall Enjoyment- 4/10     
Overall Package- 5.5/10      

Total: 55/100 

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Complete Oscars Nominations Breakdown Part 3

Best Original Score
It seems every year, the score I want to win is nominated, though loses. Last year How to Train Your Dragon lost to the boring Social Network, Slumdog Millionaire won over the brilliant Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Brokeback Mountain won over Pride and Prejudice. Okay, it happens less than I thought, but this is one of the trickiest categories to judge. Music is so subjective, and everyone has different tastes. But for this category, many are agreeing on The Artist, by Ludovic Bource. Is it because it carries the film? Probably? Is it good? Yes, but not brilliant, but it captures the era well. Other locks are John Williams War Horse and Howard Shore's Hugo. Other's in contention are Alexandre Desplat (for either the Ides of March, Harry Potter or Extremely Loud). He's one of the busiest composers right now, and hasn't won as Oscar yet. I'm not sure which of his scores will win, but I'm going with HP because it was Grammy nominated. And we have last year's winners, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross who did the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I'd say they're your nominees right there.

Nominated: The Artist, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part II, War Horse, Hugo, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Close but Not Quite: The Ides of March, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Super 8

Best Original Song 
Again, I don't know much of this category. Obviously, the Muppets are a shoe-in having so many songs from the movie. Also, the Mary J Blidge song from the Help has been getting attention. Madonna has a song for W.E., Elton John wrote a few for Gnomeo and Juliet, Zooey Deschanel wrote some for Winnie the Pooh, and there were songs for Captain America and Albert Nobbs. Going off what the Globes and Critics Choice had, here are my nominees:

Nominated: Picture in My Head (Muppets), The Living Proof (The Help), Hello Hello (Gnomeo and Juliet), Life's A Happy Song (The Muppets), Star-Spangled Man (Captain America)
Close, but Not Quite: Songs for Albert Nobbs, Winnie the Pooh

Best Sound Editing
Today I finally understood the difference between Sound Editing and Mixing! But it doesn't help so much with my predictions because I simply didn't notice this when watching the films. I'll skip straight to nominations

Nominated: Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part II, Hugo, War Horse, Transformers 3, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Close but not Quite: ??

Best Sound Mixing
Again, I know what it is, yet I didn't notice is so much, though I noticed this more than the Sound Editing. So here we go:

Nominated: Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part II, Hugo, Super 8, Transformers 3, Pirates 4
Close, but not Quite: ??

So, I made predictions for 19 categories. Come Tuesday, I'll post how well I did in all of them! Good luck to all who made predictions!

Complete Oscar Nominations Breakdown Part 2

Here we go, the Visual Tech awards, those I'm most interested in, personally.

Best Art Direction
In my opinion, the art awards have some tough competition this year, specificially Art Direction and Cinematography. For Art Direction, we have the obvious ones like Hugo and The Artist. Then we have other very strong contenders like Harry Potter, War Horse, The Tree of Life, Anonymous, Drive, The Help, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Drive, all of which were nominated for the Art Directors Guild nominations in the several categories offered. To narrow it down to 5... Hugo and The Artist are shoe in's and I'm going to put my money on an HP nod. It's always had fabulous AD and was nominated for Part I. Additionally, The Help and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy will also make the cut.

Nominated: Hugo, The Artist, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part II, The Help, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Close, but not quite: Drive, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, War Horse, The Tree of Life, Anonymous.

Best Cinematography
Locks are War Horse and The Tree of Life. Both were incredibly beautiful (WH being slightly more deserving in my opinion) and they tied for the award at the Critics Choice Awards. Other potentials are The Artist, with the black and white 1920's looking film style, Hugo, with it's marvelous 3D landscaping of Paris, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with it's cold, bleak view of Sweden, Harry Potter with it's battle scenes, as well as Moneyball and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. For now I'm going to put my money on:

Nominated: War Horse, The Tree of Life, The Artist, Hugo, and Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part II
Close, but not quite: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Moneyball

Best Costume Design
The obvious choices would be films like Jane Eyre, Hugo, War Horse, The Artist, and My Week with Marilyn. Oh, look, 5 nominees. Other contenders are Anonymous, W.E, the Help, and a Dangerous Method. The 5 obvious, are obvious, are are getting the nominations. I'll stick with those.

Nominated: Jane Eyre, Hugo, War Horse, The Artist, My Week With Marilyn
Close, but not Quite: Anonymous, W.E., The Help, A Dangerous Method

Best Makeup
The short list, of 7 titles came out a few weeks ago, making this guessing job much easier, though there's only 3 nominees. The short-list is comprised of Harry Potter, The Artist, the Iron Lady, My week with Marilyn, Albert Nobbs, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, Anonymous and Hugo. Personally, I think The Iron Lady and Harry Potter are shoe in's. Both had the "aging" make-up, and HP had the boost from doing makeup for the elves, Voldemort, battle wounds, etc. The third slot, I think, will either go to The Artist or My Week With Marilyn. With the Artist sweeping the nominations, I'll slate that film for this last spot here too.

Nominated: Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part II, The Iron Lady, The Artist
Close, but not Quite: My Week with Marilyn, Anonymous, Hugo, Albert Nobbs, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life

Best Visual Effects
Again, the short list was released a few weeks or a month ago, making, again, this much easier. The 2 locks are Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part II, also following closely are Hugo and the Tree of Life. That leaves a 5th spot open. It could go to either Real Steel, MI4, X-Men, Transformers, Captain America and Pirates 4. All  Pirates films have been nominated (the 2nd one winning), as well as the first Transformers being nominated, although I think it'll go to Transformers this time.

Nominated: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2, Hugo, The Tree of Life, Transformers: The Dark of the Moon
Close but not quite: Pirates of the Caribbean, Captain America, Real Steel, MI4, X-Men

Best Film Editing
Personally, I know very little about film editing, and this is based on pure speculation of what other's have been saying. Additionally, I've read, and seen, the Film Editing Award is general very close with the Best Picture, so I'll base my predictions on that, and what has been nominated already. So far I'm going to say The Artist and Hugo will be up for this. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo won this at the Critics Choice, and War Horse and Drive were also nominated. I'll throw The Descendants in there as a contender because of it's BP status, as well as Moneyball.

Nominated: The Artist, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Drive and War Horse
Close, but not quite: Moneyball, the Descendants.

Up next: Sound Tech Awards!

Complete Oscar Nomination Predictions Breakdown (Part 1)

With the nominations being released on Tuesday, only 6 days away, I thought I'd update my predictions one last time, and give a full break down! So here we go!

Best Picture
The only real locks we really have right now in this category are 'The Artist' and 'The Descendants'. Pretty much everything else is up for grabs. I'm going to wager that Midnight in Paris gets in (due to it getting nominated by all 4 guild awards + the original screenplay shoe-in), Moneyball (acting + adapted screenplay lock), Hugo (directing + visual/tech locks) and The Help (acting locks/wins), which leaves us with 6 pictures. Should the field extend wider (which it very well could), it'll be War Horse next in, followed by The Tree of Life, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Nominated: The Artist, The Descendants, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, Hugo, The Help
Close/Potential: War Horse, The Tree of Life, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Almost, but not quite: The Ides of March, Drive, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Bridesmaids

Best Lead Actor 
The current frontrunner right now would be George Clooney. Having scooped up both the Critics Choice Award and the Golden Globe, Clooney is definitely a lock. As is Jean Dujardin, who won the Globe for Comedy/Musical, and have a very strong performance in the Artist. Next, we have Brad Pitt, who was solid in Moneyball and is looking good to get in, having been nominated all places. All 3 are locks there, but the other 2 spots are up for grabs. We have Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edger), Michael Fassbender (Shame) and Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). It's a tough toss up, but it'll probably go to DiCap, and Fassbender. Both have been nominated in several different places, with Oldman having been snubbed a lot.

Nominated: George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Fassbender
Close, but not quite: Gary Oldman, Ryan Gosling, Demain Bichir

Best Lead Actress
Right now, Viola Davis and Meryl Streep are completely locked in, if not battling it out for the win already. Michelle Williams as her portrayal as Marilyn Monroe is a close third, leaving, again, the 4th and 5th spots quite open. Both Tilda Swinton and Glen Close are looking good, but the likes of Elizabeth Olsen, Felicity Jones and Rooney Mara follow quite close behind. I'm going to go with the seasoned veterans other the newcomers on this one, and say Swinton and Close are in.

Nominated: Viola Davis, Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams, Tilda Swinton, Glen Close
Close, but Not Quite: Elizabeth Olsen, Rooney Mara, Felicity Jones

Best Supporting Actor
Personally, I think this is the weakest of any category this year. The last few years saw the likes of Christian Bale, Christoph Waltz, Heath Ledger and Javier Bardem, all who gave powerhouse performances. This year, not so much. We have Christopher Plummer who is the only front-runner (or even a runner at all), and is already going to win. This category is pretty up in the air, and we could see anyone nominated on Tuesday. Jonah Hill, who's been getting some attention will likely be nominated, along with Kenneth Branagh, Albert Brooks and Nick Nolte. But I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see them called. The only one I"m sure about is Christopher Plummer, right now.

Nominated: Christopher Plummer
Other People Who Have Slight Potential: Jonah Hill, Kenneth Branagh, Albert Brooks, Nick Nolte

Best Supporting Actress
Have I mentioned that though this year was overall pretty weak for films, it was a really strong year for women. The Help and Bridesmaids were very prominent movies this year, and were helmed by females. And there's the Iron Lady, and My Week With Marilyn. It's the year of the woman, in film. That being said, the supporting actress slots are filled and overflowing. The frontrunner right now is Octavia Spencer, for her role in the Help. She's been picking up awards all over the places, and very deservedly so. Coming up behind her, costar Jessica Chastain. She's had a brilliant year, and will most likely be nominated for her role in the Help. Then there's Berenice Bejo, who was charming in the Artist, Shailene Woodley who was potty-mouthed and snarky in the Descendants, Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs, Melissa McCarthy's dirty attitude in Bridesmaids, Carey Mulligan in Shame, and Jessica Chastain's other 5 performances this year. This is a tough one, ladies and gentleman.

Nominated: Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Berenice Bejo, Shailene Woodley Janet McTeer
Close, but Not Quite: Melissa McCarthy, Jessica Chastain's other roles, Carey Mulligan

Best Director
For Best Director, we seem to have about 4 locks. We have Michel Hazanavicius, who helmed the Artist, the front-runner for Best Picture. We have Alexander Payne, the man behind the Descendants, the picture most likely to be a contender against the Artist. We have Woody Allen, who wrote and directed Midnight in Paris, the seasoned veteran. And a second veteran, being Martin Scorsese, who won the Golden Globe for directing. But the fifth spot has several people vying for attention. We have Steven Spielburg for War Horse (Spielburg is much-loved, but his movie received mediocre reviews), David Fincher for The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo (which is getting some awards attention, though not a lot), Terrence Malik who's masterpiece was the Tree of Life, and Bennett Miller, the man behind Moneyball. And Tate Taylor, though a long shot, for directing the fan-favourite, the Help. It's a tough call, but I'm going to put my money on Fincher for this one, who received a DGA nomination.

Nominated: Michel Hazanavicius, Alexander Payne, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher
Close, but Not Quite: Steven Spielburg, Terrence Malik, Bennett Miller and Tate Taylor

Best Adapted Screenplay
This year we've seen several films being adapted from novels. So far, locks would be Moneyball and The Descendants. But who after that? We have, again, many possibilities. We have War Horse, The Help, The Ides of March, Hugo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Drive. This is tough competition if you ask me. While Moneyball and The Descendants are "for sures", I'm going to go with The Help, Hugo and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo up next. The Ides of March and Drive are not getting as much attention as they were previously, War Horse isn't high enough reviewed and could be snubbed, while Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is getting hardly any attention at all.

Nominated: Moneyball, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Close, but not quite: The Ides of March, Drive, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, War Horse

Best Original Screenplay
While this category is still strong, it's not quite as competitive as Adapted Screenplay is. For locks, we have Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, which received the award at both the Critics Choice and Golden Globe awards. Also, The Artist is in contention, being a front-runner for Best Picture. After that, we have several choices, mostly comedies. We have 50/50, Young Adult, Bridesmaids and Win Win. All of these have all received nominations several places, so here are my predictions:

Nominated: Midnight in Paris, The Artist, 50/50, Win Win, Young Adult
Close, but not quite: Bridesmaids, Beginners, The Tree of Life

Best Animated Feature
Having seen very few Animated films this year, these predictions are all based on other's predictions. Right now, Rango has won a few awards, and so has The Adventures of Tin-Tin. Both are locked. What else? Well, people have been saying films like Arthur Christmas, Chico and Rita, Winnie the Pooh, Kung-Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, etc. So I'm just going to guess on this one.

Nominated: Rango, Tin-Tin, Arthur Christmas, Chico & Rita, Puss in Boots
Close, but not Quite: Kung-Fu Panda 2, Winnie the Pooh

Part 2 (Art and Technical Predictions) coming up soon!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Departed

The Departed, 2006
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Nominated for 5 Oscars, Won 4
Won BP over Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine and The Queen

Synopsis: Billy Costigan wants to be a cop. But with his family history of crime, no one will hire him. Until they need a man to go undercover, to be the mole in Frank Costello's crime ring. Costello's been avoiding the law, and being arrested for a long, long time, and Billy is the perfect spy. His family was friends with Frank Costello and his partners, and Billy gains Costello's trust very easily. Meanwhile, Colin Sullivan is an up-and-coming cop, rising in the Special Investigations Unit. He's brilliant, and has a pitch perfect past. And that makes him the perfect mole in the SIU. Being a friend and worker for Frank Costello since childhood, Sullivan is the perfect mole in the Boston Police force. But when both sides suspect a mole, Billy and Colin race to uncover the other, to save their own skins.

Before I write this review, I must say, Cop/Mafia/Gangster/Lots of swearing films aren't really my thing. This is going to gain the most positive review from me simply because I don't generally enjoy these types of films, and I can't appreciate films where the character have extremely limited and dirty vocabulary.

That being said, we move on. This film had an interesting premise, even if it sounded a tad bit cliche. The seemingly rough guy is the good guy, while the guy with the spotless past and the up-and-comer being the bad guy. But we know that right away. But the two sides don't, and the moles themselves don't know who the other one is.

The performances in this film were great. I thought Leonardo DiCaprio rocked the whole show and was surprised to see he wasn't nominated for the role (only to see he was nominated for Blood Diamond instead...I'm assuming he was fantastic in that role, I still haven't seen it.) Additionally, Matt Damon is pretty much always great, in my opinion. He played the good guy/bad guy really well (even if a lot of the movie he had a dopey-gaping look on his face). I was surprised to see Mark Walhberg nominated for his Supporting Role, having had very little screen time. I'd have liked him to have been in it more. (Though is it only me that thinks Matt Damon and Mark Walhberg could be twins? During the opening I was having trouble figuring out if Colin was Damon or Walhberg, until we saw Walhberg had thick dark hair. Good thing he did, or they'd have been indistinguishable)

The film was well told, if not a little long for my taste. We see both sides trying to weed out who the mole is. Colin Sullivan is near the top and is quickly able to conceal himself, while Billy Costigan is a little more exposed. Personally, I couldn't understand why Costello didn't figure it out. It was blatantly obvious to me, and I don't know why he didn't pick up on it.

Anyway, the film had lots of twists and turns, and was well told. We feel for both characters, both living double lives, trying to make their way through.

Overall, I thought it was just an okay film. I found nothing about it that was incredible, or amazing. While Leonardo DiCaprio was really good in it, it was otherwise just an average film. At least, those are my thoughts.

(short review, but I honestly don't have much to say about it. It was kind of whatever. Not bad, but not brilliant.)

Acting- 8.5/10     
Directing- 8/10     
Screenplay- 8/10     
Music – 7/10    
Visuals- 7/10     
Entertaining- 8/10    
Emotional Connection- 7/10     
Rewatchability- 7/10     
Overall Enjoyment- 7.5/10     
Overall Package- 8/10      

Total: 76/100 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Golden Globe Winners

Well, well, another awards show come and gone, and just  another step closer to the Oscars! Last post I made predictions for the Film Section of the Golden Globes, and here I'll post the winners and we'll see how well I did.

Best Motion Picture Drama-
Prediction: The Descendants
Winner: The Descendants

While I was really rooting for War Horse, I had a feeling The Descendants would come out on top though felt Hugo was the biggest contender, seeing as it won Best Director. However, I'm happy about this win, it was very deserving.

Best Actress-Drama
Prediction: Viola Davis (The Help)
Winner: Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)

I'm not quite sure why I predicted Viola, when I had such a huge hunch that Meryl would win the Golden Globe. I was sad to see Viola lose out this round, but still feel, in the end, she'll be taking home the Oscar.
(Half a point for me?)

Best Actor- Drama
Prediction: George Clooney (The Descendants)
Winner: George Clooney (The Descendants)

I've read so many places that they felt Brad Pitt was better this year, but I disagree. Brad was great in Moneyball, but George was just fantastic in The Descendants, and I'm really happy to see him win. Officially the Oscar frontrunner.

Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical
Prediction: The Artist
Winner: The Artist

Is anyone surprised? Really? This one was a complete shoe in and there was very little competition in this arena. Well deserved, well deserved.

Best Actress- Comedy or Musical
Prediction: Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)
Winner: Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)

Having not seen the film yet (though currently reading the book), Michelle is almost a shoe-in for an Oscar nomination, making her the obvious frontrunner in this category. I'm sure she's brilliant.

Best Actor- Comedy or Musical
Prediction: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Winner: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)

He was so brilliant in this film, though George was slightly better in the Descendants, it's nice to see Jean get some recognition for his wonderful silent acting. Congrats!

Best Animated Film
Prediction: Rango
Winner: The Adventures of Tin-Tin

I was slightly surprised at this. Rango had recently won the Critics Choice Award, and Tin-Tin had only received mediocre reviews from critics. Having seen 0 of the films, I've heard the best about Rango. No opinion, really. Though I still think Kung-Fu Panda 2 was the best animated film of the year (alongside Rio)

Best Foreign Film
Prediction: A Separation
Winner: A Separation

Having not seen any of the foreign films, only having heard such good reviews of this one, I'm just glad I got it right!

Best Supporting Actress
Prediction: Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Winner: Octavia Spencer (The Help)

I am so totally on the Octavia/Davis boat this year, and was so happy to see Octavia win it. She's so sweet and funny, and so totally deserving.

Best Supporting Actor
Prediction: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Winner: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)

Again, are any of us surprised? In what feels like, to me, a weak year in the men's acting category (specifically supporting actors) Christopher Plummer has been sweeping the awards this year. Will we be surprised to hear his name called come Oscar night? nope.

Best Director
Prediction: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Winner: Martin Scorsese (Hugo)

I was slightly surprised for this win. Having though Hazanavicius did such a terrific directing job (and I don't usually notice directing) I thought he was a shoe-in. But Martin Scorsese is a seasoned veteran for this well-loved not-all-that-kid friendly-as-they-say film, Hugo.

Best Screenplay
Prediction: Moneyball (Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin)
Winner: Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)

It's funny, while watching the show I was like, blah blah, it'll probably be like Midnight in Paris (not remembering my predictions) and then was happy thinking I HAD predicted Midnight in Paris. But I didn't. While I haven't seen it yet (I will on Saturday!) I'm sure it was good.

Best Original Score
Prediction: The Artist (Ludovic Bource)
Winner: The Artist (Ludovic Bource)

Again, rooting my heart out for War Horse, but knew The Artist would steal this one away.

Best Original Song
Prediction: The Living Proof (The Help- Mary J. Blidge)
Winner: Masterpiece (W.E.- Madonna)

Was anyone else really surprised? I was scoffing at Madonna the whole evening, and having read terrible reviews for the film, I thought The Living Proof would be a shoe-in, seeing as it's one of the front-runners for the Academy Awards, but Madonna won. Honestly, not happy.

So there we have it, folks! I got 9.5/14, totally a 67%, which isn't that great. Hopefully I do better come SAGs.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Golden Globe Nominations

Well, the Golden Globes are up next, airing tomorrow, and I thought I'd post my predictions, for the film section only. I don't know a whole lot about TV, nor do I watch much of it, so I'll stick to this area only. Here we go!

Best Motion Picture Drama- The Descendants
Best Actress-Drama- Viola Davis (The Help)
Best Actor- Drama- George Clooney (The Descendants)
Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical- The Artist
Best Actress- Comedy or Musical- Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)
Best Actor- Comedy or Musical- Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Best Animated Film- Rango
Best Foreign Film- A Separation
Best Supporting Actress- Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Best Supporting Actor- Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Best Director- Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Best Screenplay- Moneyball (Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin)
Best Original Score- The Artist (Ludovic Bource)
Best Original Song- The Living Proof (The Help- Mary J. Blidge)

I'll be posting the winners after the show tomorrow, and how well I did with my predictions!

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Artist

The Artist, 2011
Directed by Michel Hazanavicus
Possible nominations include: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Score.

Synopsis: George Valentin is the top star in Hollywood. It's 1927, and he's a silent film star, incredibly hansome, and completely dashing. And then there's Peppy Miller. She's a starstruck fan of George, and an aspiring actress of her own. She briefly meets George, but starts to rise to fame after she is an extra in George's new film. They are interested in each other, but both go their own ways as she's rising to fame in silent films and, eventually talkies, and George Valentin is wondered how to stay afloat as a silent actor while talking films are rising and the public wants "new meat" and "fresh faces"

Knowing only the synopsis of the film, I wondered if this was basically going to be the silent, black & white, dramatic version of Singin' In the Rain. It sounded similar, a silent film star, the rise of talking films, an aspiring actress, etc. Even the opening of the film was quite similar. We see the opening of George Valentin's new film, we see him out on stage, wooing the crowds, and how much he is loved. We see Peppy Miller as an extra on set, as a good dancer (though admittedly, Peppy loves George, whereas Kathy hated Don in SitR), and we see the studio view a talking movie (a short clip), and George scoffing at it. But the similarities stop between the two films there.

Admittedly, I thought this was going to be a light, fluffy film, as I'd read those words in a few reviews. Though that's not exactly how I'd describe this movie. In fact, some of the movie was really quite sad. We see a man refusing to go along with the times, to become more "modern", and loosing everything around him. While it didn't  have a hugely complex story, it wasn't rainbows and butterflies either.

What I really enjoyed about this film was how legitimately "old" looking it was! Everything from the ratio (it wasn't wide screen, but was almost square, since there wasn't wide screen back in the day), to the beginning credits with the old type face, the score, and the title cards rather than subtitles, like they used to use. Knowing a little bit about silent film from the film class I took last semester, I was impressed. It didn't look modern in any way, it had a really amateur 1920's look and feel to it, and I loved that. Michel Hazanavicius went the whole nine yards on the silent film thing, and I'm glad he did.

Additionally, Jean Dujardin was very, very impressive in this film. He really expressed himself so well, without using words. He had so much passion, and was very into his character and you can tell. Especially the last scene (the one before the tap-dancing one) was especially impressive as well as the fire scene. Trying not to spoil, but all his best work came later on in the film. Also, Berenice Bejo, wife of the director who didn't audition for the part was extremely charming. She was over-dramatic and charming and silly, just like actors and actresses were then. She didn't go too overboard, nor did she hold back. She's a very skillful woman, and between the two of them, I would forget the film was silent because they can both communicate so well by their expressions and body language. I would put Dujardin higher up on my list of Best Actor, having had just as good a performance as Brad Pitt, though still not as good as Clooney. However, he was very impressive, and I really enjoyed him. And the dog. The dog was so cute, and so good.

What I also thought was so neat was the use of shadows and reflects in the film. We see lots of shadows play a part, and lots of scene showing reflections. Both of those are a huge part of George Valentin. The shadow of who he used to be, and the reflection of who he is now. It was subtle, the use of both, but were extremely effective, and added so much to the film.

(spoiler paragraph)
Another metaphor, was the use of silence itself. It represented, once again, so much of how George Valentin was. He's a silent film star, and that's who he wants to stay being. He is scared of "talking" and that reflects in the first of the two scenes with sound used in the film. The one mentioned, being his nightmare, in which the world around him is filled with noise but he remains silent. He is a prideful man, wanting not to change for anyone, being vain enough to think he himself will draw fans, but is scared he is losing his star quality, his "voice". But what fans really want are the new and exciting. He is living a dull home life, and is loosing everything around him. The second use of sound was the ending, when he finally accepts what is happening, and agrees to take a chance on it, and dance with Peppy in their new film together. George has accepted this new step in his life, has lost all his pride and is no longer so independent that he pushes people away, he has found his "voice" again, and he has become happier. He has sound in his life. And I thought that was a very effective way of putting it. It was well thought-out, and an effective metaphorical tool. (end spoiler)

The only complain I had was that the music wasn't always well placed. Several times it lingered too long before starting up again, or the music just didn't go with what was happening in the scene. Many times it would've been better suited to have a more sad and melancholy piece than an angry, loud piece, but that's just my musical opinion. The score was quite enchanting, and I enjoyed it overall, even if it wasn't 100% perfectly used.

Overall, I enjoyed the film. It was really, really well done, and certainly deserved a Best Directing award, no doubt. Will it win best picture? Most likely, yes. It's the front-runner right now, with only The Descendants as it's biggest challenger. It was a well-done, perfect homage to the silent film era, and was so genuine. Was it my favourite film? No, it wasn't. It was very good, but I still preferred War Horse and Moneyball over it, though I thought it was quite on par with The Descendants and The Help, and definitely better than Hugo. Still, I see the appeal for Best Picture winner (which I predict it will be). It's different, it's homage, it's old-fashioned, and it's a nice movie. It's not deep and loaded with serious issues and heavy stuff (like the Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionarie, etc). It can, and most likely will sweep the awards circuit this year. Don't be surprised if they call it out for the Last Prize come Oscar night.

Acting- 8/10
Directing- 8/10
Screenplay- 7/10
Music- 9/10
"The look"- 8.5/10
Entertaining- 8/10
Emotional Connection- 7/10
Rewatchability- 7/10
Did I Like It?- 8/10
"Total Package"- 8.5/10

Total: 79/100

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Critics Choice Awards- Live Blogging

Winners not announced at the show (live)
Best Original Score- The Artist- Ludovic Bource 
was rooting for JW for WH, but alas

Best Cinematography- The Tree of Life and War Horse
Double winner. Previously, I'd heard War Horse won, which I was pleased about, but others wanted the Tree of Life. Happy medium, I'd say. 

Best Art Direction- Hugo
duh, though I was rooting for HP

Best Editing- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Best Costume Design- The Artist
again, obvious.

Best Makeup- Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part II
I was rooting for it, but was surprised it actually won. I've been considering it a front-runner while many others have been picking The Iron Lady or Albert Nobbs for the win. Glad to see some HP love!

Best Visual Effects- Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Again, another no brainer

Best Sound- Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part II
Hm, a bit surprised! I don't think many were expecting HP to win in this category, but I'm glad for any win it gets nonetheless (:

Live Winners

Best Picture- The Artist
Not surprise there. While I was cheering my heart out for War Horse, I knew it wasn't going to be picked, especially after the Best Director awards. Won't be seeing this film until tomorrow, but I'm sure it's quite deserving. 

Best Actor- George Clooney
Again, I'm very happy with the pick. I've been predicting George for the win, and think he's incredibly deserving. He was really really good in the Descendants. 

Best Actress- Viola Davis
I am actually so incredibly stoked. While everyone thought Meryl was a shoe-in for all the acting awards, I`ve been on the Viola boat. 

Best Director- Michel Hazanavicius - "The Artist"
After the Special Award for Martin Scorsese, I quite expected him to win, but was surprised (but not completely) that Michel won. This most likely leads in The Artist winning the top prize.

Best Original Screenplay- "Midnight In Paris"
Once again, I haven't seen it (will next week! but i'm staring to feel behind on movies...), but I'm glad it won

Best Adapted Screenplay - "Moneyball" 
Hmmm! I wasn't expecting this. I had thought The Desccendants was a shoe-in, but I loooved Moneyball, so I'm happy (:

Best Young Actor/Actress- "Thomas Horn"
I was rooting for Shailene Woodley and Asa Butterfield. Sad to see they didn't win. 

Best Foreign Language Film -"A Separation"
Once again, haven't seen. 

Best Comedy- "Bridesmaids"
I honestly don't understand why this film is winning anything. It was slightly funny, but definitely not as funny as it's hyping up to be...

Best Animated Feature- "Rango"
I liked Kung-Fu Panda 2 best...

Best Supporting Actor- Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"
Again, haven't seen, but I'm not surprised.

Best Supporting Actress -Octavia Spencer, "The Help"
Once again, very happy. I would've been happy with either her or Jessica Chastain winning, but was glad it was Octavia.

Best Acting Ensemble - "The Help"
Wholeheartedly deserved. The whole ensemble was fantastic and is hogging the female acting categories. 

Best Action Movie -"Drive"
Haven't seen it yet, but sounds good to me :P

Best Song - "Life's a Happy Song" from "The Muppets"
Happy with that. The Muppets deserve it. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Lost Weekend

The Lost Weekend, 1945
Directed by Billy Wilder
Nominated for 7 Oscars, Won 4

Synopsis: Don Birnam is an alcoholic. He's been clean for 10 days, while under strict supervision from his brother, Wick, and girlfriend, Helen. But when Wick plans a weekend for them in the country, he evades it last minute, while his brother goes on. Leaving him alone for 4 days. Needless to say, he goes on a drinking rampage. Told in flashbacks of his past, and living in the present, we get a sense of who Don Birnam really is, and wonder if he'll ever stop.

This movie was quite a depressing one, I must say. We are first introduced to Don, packing away for his country weekend vacation and we immediately know something isn't quite right with him. Wick, his brother, seems to be keeping a close eye, and they keep mentioning "his current state" and "the last few days". And suddenly we realize it. We see Don luring up a bottle of alcohol that's been dangling out the window, while his brother goes to answer the door. We're dealing with an alcoholic.

Immediately, we are staring to see who Don is. He's a smooth talker, persuading his brother to go to the orchestra with his (Don's) girlfriend Helen, on account of wanting time to himself after "all he's been through". He persuades the cleaning lady to tell him where Wick hides the money he pays her with. And he's a smart dresser. He's a writer, and he's living in New York.

Throughout the film we see Don take many trips to the bar just down from his apartment, buying beer wherever he can, all the while the bartenders being warned about him, though Don is able to pay, so they can't deny him. We see Wick quickly give up on Don. He's been looking after him for far too long, and decides to go on the trip without him. He states it would be better for them all if Don were dead, which was brought up as a possibility if Wick leaves him alone for days at a time. Only Helen cares for him, and tries to look out for him. Throughout the film, we see flashbacks of how Don and Helen met, how he was an alcoholic even then, and just how much alcohol screws up your life. You steal, you blow off friends, parties and socializing to drink. It consumes you as you consume it.

What I found interesting about this film, is that Don was a very real person. We understood him, in a funny way, knew that he would steal money from a lady's purse to pay his drinking bills, not be able to resist the urge to buy more drinks, and to not call Helen back. In a weird way, this made sense to the watcher. Don wasn't being shown as the stereotypical alcoholic, who is messy and smelly and disgusting. But he was shown as a real man, who suffered, though it may not always show on the outside. We knew he would blow off time with people to drink, and we almost understood why. He knew he was going to steal, and once again, we understood that too. It brought alcoholism down to a very real level, which is incredible, since it was made so long ago, when addictions were still a touchy subject.

 Billy Wilder, the director, brought us down to the same level as Don, making the film so believable. And during the 40's, addictions like alcoholism weren't things that were talked about. They were closet issues, and never brought up. This was a controversial thing, to bring to the theatre. But without a doubt, it is an incredibly made film.

Ray Milland, who plays Don, is truly incredible, and rightly won Best Actor for the role. He transforms from put together man, to drunkard so well and so believably. He tiptoes the line between both and shows just how much alcohol can ruin your life, without being preachy about it, but showing alcohol addiction as it truly is.

I was impressed by this film. Black and white films and just old films in general never seem to really capture my attention, but this film I was concentrated in. I watched every minute, and truly believed it all. A better film from the "golden olden days".

Acting- 9/10 
Directing- 8/10 
Screenplay- 7.5/10 
Visuals- 8/10 
Music- 7.5/10 
Rewatchability- 7/10 
Emotional Connection 7/10 
Entertainment- 7.5/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 8.5/10 
Overall Package- 8/10       

Total: 78/100