Monday, 27 February 2012

A Couple Post-Oscar Thoughts

-Overall, I thought this awards season was a little blah. It was predictable, and things that were really good didn't make the cut. Sure, most of the BP nominees were good, but overall there weren't really any amazing movies this year. 2012, be a solid year!

-Billy Crystal was pretty whatever, to be honest. But the fashion was great this year. Jessica Chastain looked aaamazing, along with Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone, Michelle Williams and Ellie Kemper.

-The whole Dictator thing with Ryan Seacrest was NOT funny. I found it offensive. And I don't get why people hate on Ryan Seacrest either. I think he's a pretty solid guy.

-Ellie Kemper just needs to be in more movies. Can she play some sort of Disney character? Please?

-My 2013 predictions are up! Check them out at the side. They feel like shots in the dark, but it'll be interesting to see how different they looked 8 months or more, from now. This is my 2nd year predicting, but the 1st year being in this early.

Oscar Winners Breakdown!

So the Oscars had it's fair share of upsets, surprises, and obvious 
winners. Here I'll go through all the winners (minus the documentary/animated feature/shorts) in the order announced. 

"Hugo"- Robert Richardson. 
The very first award of the night, and I knew it was off to an interesting start. The Tree of Life was supposed to be the obvious winner here, having picked up several awards, including the American Cinematographer's Association Award. This came as a big shock to me. Plus I was already 0/1. I knew this wasn't going to be a good night. 

"Hugo" Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
While I had predicted Hugo for this win. I was a) disappointed Harry Potter didn't steal it and b) already tired of Hugo winning. Winning the first 2 awards, announced beside each other, I knew where this was going. I wasn't the biggest fan of Hugo, obviously, but was hoping the surprising wins were over. 1/2. 

"The Artist" Mark Bridges
While I also predicted Hugo for this one, it was nice to see the Artist win something early on. There were some great costumes here, and it was a deserved win. 1/3. 

"The Iron Lady" Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland
Arguably the only award Harry Potter had a true shot on, and it lost. While I felt HP's makeup work for goblins and Voldemort were fantastic, Meryl's makeup as an old Thatcher was fantastic as well. I wrongly predicted HP to win. Why? I don't know. Silly me. 1/4. 

"A Separation" Iran
While I know nothing of foreign films, I did get this one right! 2/5. 

Octavia Spencer in "The Help"
While this was no surprise at all, I was still extraordinarily happy. Octavia looked great, and was so great in the Help. She truly deserved every award she got for the role, including this one. 3/6. 

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
A bit of a surprise, really. Most people (including myself) predicted either Hugo or the Artist to win it when The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo really took it. In a way, I'm not too surprised. While it wasn't up for BP it looked like a well edited film. Still, I didn't get this one right. 3/7. 

"Hugo" Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
Surprisingly, I did get this one correct! I figured it was going to be either Hugo or War Horse that would either win both, or just one, so I predicted Hugo for this and War Horse for Mixing, figuring I'd get at least one right, since I'm by no means a sound expert. And I got this one correct! Besides that I have no comments. 4/8. 

"Hugo" Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
And, well, Hugo ended up taking both, so I got one of them correct. 4/9. 

"Rango" Gore Verbinski
While I figured Rango would win, and predicted rightly so, I still secretly hoped Kung-Fu Panda 2 would win. Sadly it didn't, but I predicted correctly. 5/10. 

"Hugo" Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
Well, this was a huge, huge shocker, in my opinion. Rise of the Planet of the Apes has been a big winner this season. The apes were completely made via motion capture and visual effects, and while I didn't think they looked that great with people around them, it was pretty darn good. My second place was Harry Potter. I hadn't thought past that because I assumed they were the only 2 contenders (HP barely being one). But Hugo stole it away for it's "cool" use of 3D. Dangit. 5/11. 

Christopher Plummer in "Beginners"
Was anyone really surprised? 6/12. 

"The Artist" Ludovic Bource
At the rate things had been going, I was worried Howard Shore's work for Hugo would steal this too. Thankfully, Bource's charming score and backbone of the film prevailed. 7/13. 

"Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets" Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
Again, obviously. 8/14. 

"The Descendants" Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Everyone predicted this to win, while I predicted an upset of Zaillian and Sorkin winning for Moneyball. Sadly, I was wrong. 8/15. 

"Midnight in Paris" Written by Woody Allen
Thank goodness for obvious winners. I thought I had known what I was predicting. Clearly I'm a rookie. 9/16. 

"The Artist" Michel Hazanavicius
Honestly so excited. He was fantastic, and his direction really showed through in this film. Glad to see him win. Very touching moment. 10/17. 

Jean Dujardin in "The Artist"
I was very torn on who to win. Initially I was hardcore Clooney, but Dujardin ended up stealing my heart as the time came closer and I found myself rooting for him, though I loved both performances. The first Frenchman to win Best Actor. And a very deserving win, too. 11/18. 

Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady"
While Meryl Streep is fab, this movie really was not. She's been long overdue for a win, but this shouldn't have been her year. I'd have rather seen her win for an amazing role in an amazing film. This win felt slightly underwhelming as she was the only good part in the film. I was truly rooting for Viola, and she really deserved it. Meryl should've won over Bullock for her portrayal as Julia Child. Disappointed, though Meryl is fab. 11/19. 

"The Artist"
As the night progressed, I felt myself liking this movie more and more as I was getting a little worried Hugo had more backing from the Academy than I thought. I was utterly relieved to see this win, and was very glad it had. It was such a well made film, and it is so utterly deserving. 12/20. 

Overall, I got 12/20 (and then 2/4 for the Documentary/Animated area, in which were blind guesses based on others guesses). Giving me a total of  60% on the 20 I did breakdowns for. I didn't do so well, but this was my first year of getting into things, and only really got into it around September. It was a fun award season, though I hope next year is a lot better (:

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Winner Breakdown: Best Picture

Best Picture

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

And here we are! Best Picture. I thought I'd give a little, tiny, mini review of each film, just a couple of thoughts, and then tell you who I think is going to/could/possibly/who I want to win is. 

Hugo: I wasn't a huge fan of Hugo. I think that was mostly because I couldn't stand the 3D. While I know a lot of others found it revolutionary, I felt like I was watching a motion capture film for the first little bit, and was confused at the beginning, because I knew it was supposed to be live action. I'm picky, so this bothered me a lot, because it was excessive 3D, and made everything look unrealistic. However, the acting was great. Asa Butterfield was very strong, and held his own as Hugo. And of course, Ben Kingsley was great. The pacing of the story I found to be a little off. The last 45 minutes or so were very strong, while the first hour or so were a little weak. Not my favourite, but very willing to give it a 2nd chance. 

Moneyball: Moneyball was my absolute favourite film of the year. And I do not like baseball. Wittily wrote by Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, with fantastic performances from Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, this movie is not a typical underdog movie. I went into this movie not expecting much, but I came out adoring it. Brad Pitt's work was subtle but just great. Jonah Hill did extremely well in his first drama, and rightfully nominated. It was a great story, different, but had a good point to it, and didn't go overboard on the underdog thing. Well paced, well told, well acted. I would NOT mind it winning at all. 

The Descendants: Honestly, I really, really enjoyed this movie. It was the very first R-rated film I saw in theaters (no, The King's Speech was not rated R in Canada), and I thought it was great. It's a sad, yet comedic story, and I found myself laughing one moment and tearing up the next. Clooney does so well as the clueless father, and Shailene Woodley steps up to the plate and really owns all the material she's written. Another well told story, with lots of emotions, but it never tries too hard like....

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: I went and saw this one with one of my best friends who has read the book. So naturally I felt bad telling her I didn't enjoy the movie much. Granted, I feel it would work a lot better as a book, and am willing to read it. I just felt everyone making this movie tried way too hard to make it emotional, and sad, but didn't follow through with a lot of things Oskar told us about himself. There were inconsistencies, and it was just an okay movie. 

War Horse: I adored War Horse. I'd read the book before seeing the movie, and recently went and saw the stage production in Toronto. It was a really well done movie. While most people thought it was a little choppy, the beginning too long, and just very sappy, I'd disagree. While I agree the beginning was long, I loved every second of it. I would've been happy watching 2 hours of Albert and Joey bonding on the farm, to be honest. I like character development the best. But this film I just genuinely really enjoyed. WWI is so hopeless, and while they didn't touch on it as much as they did in the book/play, I can't help feeling sad and emotionally attached to films about WWI. All the performances were great, and you saw a lot of different sides to the war. (However, after watching the play, which was a lot more war focused, I'd have loved to seen the movie version of that. Which was gritty, and sad, and just so.. war sucks). 

Midnight in Paris: I didn't love this movie the same way other people did. It was quite good, and charming, but it wasn't my favourite movie of the year. It was a clever idea, and really talked about nostalgia in a clever way. Owen Wilson surprised me as being a decent actor. Rachel McAdams was as adorable as ever (even though she was a stupid character). And of course, Marion Cottilard was great. Along with a huge list of cameos, including those of Allison Pill, Tom Hiddleston, Kathy Bates, etc. A cute movie, that I felt I would've enjoyed more had I picked up on a lot more of the literary references. 

The Help: I read the book before seeing the film. The book was just so good, and the movie was too. I'm a sucker for enjoying these movies. Things like the Blindside, and Dolphin Tale, and The Help. The Help had a truly magnificent cast, and they were all brilliant in their own. It was a great story, with fantastic performances from all the cast; Emma Stone (though her accent wasn't great all the time), Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, etc. A good girly movie. 

The Tree of Life: Reading reviews before this movie, I saw 95% of the reviews either looooved the film, or despised it with all their hearts. Wondering which box I was going to be in after watching, I found it was neither. I enjoyed the movie, yes, but it wasn't my favourite of the year, nor did I lurrrve it. It was an interesting story, with Jessica Chastain being awesome, Brad Pitt being boss, and lots of lovely cinematography. it was  a very good picture, but certainly not for everyone. 

The Artist: And this movie, ladies and gentlemen, it our very clear winner. The Artist has been winning everything in sight since it debuted at Cannes last year. Sure, many saw it as a gimmick, but most agree that even if there had been talking in the film, it still put out the 2 most charming performances of the year. Jean Dujardin was fabulous as George Valentin. He has the most expressive face, and carried the story so well. Berenice Bejo was equally charming, overacting the way they did in silent films, but still giving us a cute and powerful performance. This movie was simply a charming, charming movie, which was incredibly well done. While Moneyball was my favourite film of the year, I'm not unhappy to see the Artist take this. These newcomers to Hollywood were fantastic, and truly deserve recognition for their film. Any film that could take this from The Artist, is most likely Hugo. Hugo is up for the most nominations this year (11), and has won a Best Picture here and there (though not very often), it's another homage to silent films, and it's helmed by Scorsese. Others film to make a little competition (though not very much), are The Descendants and The Help. But count on The Artist winning. Really. 

Will Win: The Artist
Could Win: Hugo
Dark Horse: The Descendants/The Help
Who I Want to Win: Moneyball

Friday, 24 February 2012

Winner Breakdown: Best Actor

Oscar Predictions

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

And here we are, with another big showdown. This time, Jean Dujardin vs George Clooney. Jean Dujardin is a star over in France, having worked with Artist director Michel Hazanavicius many times. But this year is his "American" debut (really worldwide). He stars as the silent film star being left behind while talking pictures are on the rise, and he truly gives the most charming performance of this year. He has such an expressive face, which is so essential to silent films. He is extraordinarily charming, but also gives a very moving performance, in the latter half of the film, dealing with his fall from fame, and loss of fortune. The second to last scene (spoiler: the potential suicide scene) is really amazing. Spoiler: the scene with the gun in his mouth is just so perfect, and so well done. End spoiler. On the other hand we have George Clooney. George has been around for sometime, has 3 (now 4) Acting Nominations, 2 writing nominations and a directing nomination. He won for his first acting nomination, Supporting Actor in Syriana back in 2006. This year's The Descendants brings a much subtler piece for Clooney. He plays a clueless father who needs to look after and get to know his children after their mother is in a coma and will be taken off life support, but also discovers his wife was cheating on him. Clooney was quite brilliant in this role too. It was a much subtler role than Dujardin's was, but he played it so well. We have comedic moments where he shines (when Matt King confronts his wife's lover), and emotional moments where he is his best (saying goodbye to his wife). And I'd say George and Jean are pretty neck in neck. George won the Critics Choice, The Golden Globe (Drama), National Board of Review, while Jean won the BAFTA, The Cannes Best Actor, Golden Globe (Comedy), and the SAG. Dujardin has recently been picking up steam, having won 2 awards in a row (BAFTA and SAG). But either of them could really win it. I'm going to predict Jean Dujardin for the win right now. He's a big newcomer, and isn't likely to return to the Oscar race next year, while Clooney might. Clooney already has 1 statute, and very few Frenchman have won this award. Dujardin's role was also in the Artist, which is the frontrunner, giving him an edge over Clooney. So Dujardin it is. And really, I'm happy either either winning. They both had great performances, and both deserve awards. I'm happy either way!

Will Win: Jean Dujardin
Could Win: George Clooney
Dark Horse: Brad Pitt
Who I Want to Win: George Clooney/Jean Dujardin

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Social Network

The Social Network, 2010
Directed by David Fincher
Won 3 Oscars: Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score
Lost BP To: The King's Speech
Up Against: The King's Speech, Black Swan, The Kid's Are Alright, Winter's Bone, True Grit, 127 Hours, Toy Story 3, The Fighter, Inception

Last year, I was a huge huge fan of the King's Speech, and rooted for it all the way. After the nominees came out for Best Picture, I decided I should probably see what the big fuss was about for The Social Network, it's biggest competitor. Whether it was bias, or because it truly didn't strike my fancy, I wasn't a fan. I didn't see why it was getting attention, though it was an average, kind of dull movie, and completely dismissed it.

Now, about a year later, I've decided to give it another chance. Why? Because I've become a fan of Andrew Garfield, having watched him in Never Let Me Go and the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, both of which he was fantastic. Also, having dismissed the Original Score as well, thinking How to Train Your Dragon should've won, I also picked that up again, and while I knew it was just okay on it's own, it probably rocked with the movie. Thus, I picked it up from the library and settled down and watched it tonight.

This is the story of Facebook, and the people behind it. Mark Zuckerburg is a computer genius, even before he started Facebook. He was going to Harvard, and was able to create websites in an evening, while drunk, that would gain 22,000 hits in one night, and crash the Harvard network. That's the kind of guy he is. When he's approached by the Winklevoss twins to program a website for them, Harvard Connection. It's an exclusive facebook/social network for Harvard University students. Mark initially says he's in, but then he deems their idea lame, doesn't tell them he's out for 6 weeks, and starts up his own social networking site, TheFacebook, for Harvard students with his best friend Eduardo Saverin.

The story revolves around Mark, obviously, and just how he rolls to the beat of his own drum. Doing things with Eduardo's money before asking him for said money, teaming up with Napster-creator gone broke, Sean Parker, moving to California to set up his business, and eventually betraying Eduardo. Mark is given to us a cold-hearted college student. The only person he really cares about is himself. And that shines through in every moment we see Mark. Though we know at the heart of the matter, Mark wants acceptance. And he does this through creating Facebook. It's an interest flip-flop, seeing this in the opening scene with Erica, and then the lawsuit scenes. In the end, you can't have worldwide acceptance, and keep your best friends, it seems.

This movie moves back and forth from the past (creation of Facebook/Harvard) and the present (lawsuits). It's almost as though this film is a supplement and evidence in the cases. We see the scenes as they come up in the suits, sometimes with description and narration from Mark or Eduardo. And we are taken, linearly through the process of the creation of Facebook. The "stealing" from the Winklevoss's, the creation and programming of TheFacebook, with Mark and Eduardo, the college celebrity phase, the move to LA and teaming with Sean Parker, and the Business Deal. It's well told, with not too much narration (but a sufficient amount), and not too much back and forth between the two (though, again, sufficient, that we don't forget about it, and it keeps us wondering what went wrong with Mark and Eduardo).

The screenplay, written by Aaron Sorkin, is whip-smart, witty, and just so geeky. It is said that the opening scene between Erica and Mark was 8 script pages long, and took 99 takes to get right. And I believe both those facts. Aaron Sorkin's screenplay was really great. He has such a talent for turning okay subject into really great movies (see Moneyball).

Additionally, the movie was well acted, and it garnered Jesse Eisenberg a Lead Actor nomination. Though, if anyone should've been nominated, it should've been Andrew Garfield. He's a really strong actor, and that's also true for this film. He has so much passion, and you can see it in every line he speaks in this film (with a wonderful American accent to boot). Of all the acting in this film, I'd say he was definitely the strongest, especially with his moment of confrontation, at the end, with Mark. He plays that so perfectly.

Overall, the film was good, but not Best Picture worthy. I understand the nomination, but still agree it shouldn't have won. It was a well told film, with an interesting(ish) story, but I don't think it'll stand the test of time well, since it's such a modern piece. Not that modern is bad, or that Best Picture's need to stand the test of time, but it's a very here-and-now movie, and while it was good, it wasn't amazing.


All Quiet on The Western Front

All Quiet On The Western Front, 1930
Directed by Lewis Milestone
Nominated for 4 Oscars, Won 2

All Quiet On The Western Front is the first Oscar winning film about war. There have been tons and tons of films that have won Best Picture that either take place in war, or have a war theme. Even more have been nominated. But this was the first one to win (albeit it was the third movie to win ever).

All Quiet was made in the year 1930. It's about a young German man, Paul, who, after a rousing speech from his teacher, him and his friends, and all his classmates enlist in WWI, thinking it would be a great adventure, and would bring them honor. Of course, now, we know how wrong they all were.

The film looks spectacular for a movie made 82 years ago. Wow, 82 years ago. It seems so crazy that they were making films, and they looked as good as this one. For a movie made in 1930, where there was no CGI, no computers, or special effects, this movie looked pretty real. The graphics weren't as horrible as I expected them to be. In fact, they looked quite good from what I could tell, though I am hardly an expert. The film looked great, and was decently acted, though slightly melodramatic, but melodrama is forgiven in a 1930's WWI film.

Overall, the film was a little dry. There are very few character we connect to, really. We only really get to know Paul the last half hour or so of the movie after (spoiler) almost everyone he knows dies. The film has very little plot, and merely follows Paul and the 2nd Company through the war. While this sort of thing works for movies like The Hurt Locker (yes, I loved that movie), it didn't work so much for the movie here. Had there been strong character connection, or development, this film would've been a lot better than it had.

Still, it's an impressive film for being so old, and I kind of liked it. I'm surprised there hasn't been any sort of remake yet (it was remade as a TV movie in the 70s, which hardly counts). While I know there were rumors of Daniel Radcliffe being attached to a remake some years ago, this seems unlikely. It'd be interesting to see what they'd do with it, and it has the most potential for a really good remake of the very early winners.

Overall, the film had more novelty to it than it did the actual story. It was an interesting angle, coming at it from the side of the Germans, which I found interesting. WWI is so depressing, something I've been learning from book/stage production of War Horse, and was even more reinforced with this film. WWI was a war to bring home honor, when it never really brought anyone home. Thousands, upon thousands of people died, and most didn't know what they were fighting for. There was an interesting conversation between some of the troops in this film, discussing why they thought the war had started. They said that 1 country had offended another. Was it the Brits? The French? They weren't sure. One man noted that he wasn't offended by anything, so why should he have to fight? He went on to say that his solution for war would be to have the government people of each country entering a ring in a roped off field in their underwear, be handed clubs and fight it out there. It's an interesting idea. Why should there be a war when this is really the government's idea, or about something that doesn't concern the people, or if they don't know why? And that was a strong message throughout the film. And it really is true.

Acting- 7.5/10     
Directing- 7/10     
Screenplay- 7.5/10     
Music – 7.5/10    
Visuals- 8/10     
Entertaining- 6.5/10    
Emotional Connection- 6.5/10     
Rewatchability- 6/10     
Overall Enjoyment- 7/10     
Overall Package- 7/10      

Total: 70.5/100

Winner Breakdown: Best Actress

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 competition is in these 2 top acting categories. It's Meryl vs Viola for Best Actress, and Jean vs George in Best Actor, but I'll cover the latter tomorrow. Meryl Streep played Margaret Thatcher, both as a young(ish) woman, a woman in her 60's and an Alzheimer-riddled 90 year old. She was great as the younger Thatcher, speaking very regally and saying these inspirational quotes, I didn't completely buy it. Something about it reminded me of her role in Julie and Julia, and some other films. It was great (because its Meryl) but I was always thinking Meryl rather than Margaret. However, Meryl as the 90 year old woman is where she completely shines. She looks, acts, talks like an old woman. She completely nails it, from the shaky hands, to the slow hunched walk, and even in the makeup. Then we have Viola. Viola played Aibileen, a black maid in Mississippi in the 1950's (or 60s?). She is a woman she is sick and tired of how her and the other maids are being treated, how Hilly Holbrook is making things even worse by making them have their own toilets, and how the children love her but when they grow up, they become their mamas. She teams up with a young woman named Skeeter, who's writing a book from the point of view of the Help. Viola Davis was fantastic in this role, through and through. We can see in her face how worn she is, and how broken. But there is a power behind her too, and Viola is able to carry off both parts of Aibileen. But who will win? Right now Viola and Meryl are pretty neck in neck. Viola has the Critics Choice Award and the SAG, while Meryl has the BAFTA and the Golden Globe. Many people say Meryl is overdue for her 3rd Oscar, having not won in 29 years. Viola Davis has been nominated before, in 2009, without a win. Will the Academy choose the honor Viola, making her only the 2nd Black Woman to win Best Actress? Or will they go with Meryl, finally giving her her 3rd Oscar (Honestly, she should've won for Julia Child, that was just fantastic). I'm leaning towards Viola taking the win, here. She had a strong performance, and Meryl already holding 2 Oscars might be against her. However, it's anyone's race, although as much as I love Meryl Streep, I'm rooting hardcore for Viola, and will be really upset if she doesn't win. 

Will Win: Viola Davis
Could Win: Meryl Streep
Dark Horse: Rooney Mara
Who I Want to Win: Viola Davis

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Gentleman's Agreement

Gentleman's Agreement, 1947
Directed by Elia Kazan
Nominated for 8 Oscars, Won 3
Up Against: The Bishop's Wife, Crossfire, Great Expectations, Miracle on 34th Street

The Gentleman's Agreement is the story of a widowed father, who goes "undercover" as a Jew for research on an article he's writing on Antisemitism. I was really interested in this movie when I picked it up from the library and read the back cover (yes, I order them, not knowing anything about them), and hoped it was going to be a good one! And I was not disappointed.

Gregory Peck plays Phillip Skyler Green (Skyler Green is his writing name, Phil Green his normal name), the writer and widowed father living with his son and grandmother, having just arrived in New York City. Upon arriving he meets his new boss's (and head of the magazine) niece, Kathy. Kathy is a lovely girl, beautiful, and smart, and she and Phil are instantly attracted to each other, and find themselves quickly engaged. But when Phil's boss tells him he wants him to write a piece on antisemitism, Phil is hesitant, but takes the piece on. While mulling over how to go about it, he realizes he must declare himself as a Jew and see the results for himself. Nobody knows him in New York, he's only just arrived. And he quickly starts to see things he didn't quite imagine.

The story gets more complicated as Phil starts to realize what he can and can't do. He can't go to the hotel he wants for his Honeymoon because it's "restricted", he see's the way people react when he mentions he's Jewish, and the assumptions people make of him. All of this seems a little naive of Phil, considering his best friend growing up was a Jew, and antisemitism seems to be everywhere. Eventually, even Phil's son Tom gets targeted with name-calling.

The story is well told, a double plot concerning Phil and Kathy, and Phil's research on antisemitism. And what I really appreciated about the movie is that it didn't focus on the outwardly antisemitics and how horrible they are, but how the people who dislike it so much but don't do anything to change anything, let comments and jokes slip by, etc, are just as bad. And they're the ones who could make a difference if they spoke up. You can't change the world by hating something and knowing what's wrong. It's knowing what's wrong and doing something about it. It was a well-told message, and something most people forget. About any issue.

Gregory Peck is great as Phil. He's serious, he's troubled, he's a caring father, and a romantic lover, and he's a serious writer. While the topic of antisemitism stays within the upper-class only (would've been more interesting to expand it wider than that), it was an interesting insight. Whether it's because it doesn't happen much anymore, or because it just doesn't happen here in Canada, I thought this film was interesting and I learned a lot. Sure, I knew about the goings on in the States, but not really to the extent of this movie showed.

In general the acting was very good. It scored 3 nominations, with Celeste Holm, who played Phil's flirty friend Anne, taking home the Supporting Actress Oscar. The pacing was really good, the music good, and it was just a really interesting and intriguing film. I can imagine it was quite controversial when it came out, being released in the 40s, right after WWII.

Overall, I liked it, learned a lot, and appreciated the strong message it gave. The only way to change the world is to get up and do something about it.

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

Total: 78.5/100 

Winner Breakdown: Supporting Actor

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)

Once again, we have a very obvious winner. Christopher Plummer has lost very few awards. He's lost to Albert Brooks (not nominated) 5 times, though all in Film Critics awards (Washington, Chicago, New York, Phoenix) and at the NSFC and Satallite Awards. So his only competition should be Albert Brooks, though he was surprisingly snubbed. Plummer has already won the SAG, Golden Globe, Critics Choice and the BAFTA. Previously he hasn't won any of these awards, which is shocking since he's been working in film for so long. But it's fantastic seeing him win this many thigns after so long. And I'm sure the Academy already has his Little Gold Man ready for him, and has for some time. Additionally, none of these nominees have won an Oscar. Kenneth has had 5 Nominations (2 for acting, 1 for director, 1 for writing, and 1 for short film). This is Nick Nolte's 3rd nomination, Max Von Sydow's 2nd nomination, and Jonah Hill's first. Nevertheless, Plummer has virtually no competition in this category. It will be no shock to see him win, and should be expected, in fact. In what is a terribly weak year for Supporting Actors, it's sad to see some decent performances excluded, namely Albert Brooks (Drive) and Alan Rickman (Harry Potter). Both had strong performances and were surprisingly snubbed. This makes the year of Supporting Actors non-exciting and with no competition.

Will Win: Christopher Plummer
Could Win: Max von Sydow
Dark Horse: Jonah Hill
Who I Want to Win: Christopher Plummer/Jonah Hill

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Winner Breakdown: Best Supporting Actress

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

I'd say this is another category with a very obvious winner. Octavia Spencer has won every major award in this category. The BAFTA, the Golden Globe, the SAG, the Critics Choice, etc, etc. And she completely deserves this award, in all honesty. She was hilarious in the Help, and really stole every scene. The only one who would give her a run for her money is Jessica Chastain- also from the Help. She had an amazing breakout year, and while she was much more amazing in The Tree of Life, she could be awarded simply because she was amazing in all the films she did this year (which was roughly 6). Berenice Bejo could also make an upset, being from The Artist, but this seems quite unlikely. Snubs include Shailene Woodley from the Descendants, and Jessica Chastain in a different role.

Will Win: Octavia Spencer
Could Win: Jessica Chastain
Dark Horse: Berenice Bejo
Who I Want to Win: Octavia Spencer

Monday, 20 February 2012


Oliver!, 1968
Directed by Carol Reed
Nominated for 11 Oscars, Won 5
Up Against: Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter, Rachel, Rachel, Romeo and Juliet

This musical was one of my favourite musicals growing up. My grandparents owned it, and whenever we traveled north and stayed at their house for the weekend, we frequently would watch this movie. So naturally, I was excited when I read that it had won Best Picture. It's funny, realizing movies that you liked as a child or even a teen turned out to be Best Picture nominees/winners.

This musical is "freely based" on the classic book, Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens. It's about a young boy, named Oliver Twist. He's an orphan, and after asking for more gruel (he lost at drawing straw rope), he is sold to an Undertaker. After a short while of being abused and living miserable still, he escapes and heads to London to "seek his fortune" as he so puts it. Upon his arrival, he means Jack Dodger (The Artful Dodger- or just Dodger). Dodger is a young boy also, maybe Oliver's age or a bit older. He tells him he knows where he can get lodgings, and Oliver follows. But Dodger doesn't seem as innocent as he is. He's part of a band of crooks, run by a man named Fagan. Fagan lodges dozens of young boys, who pick-pockets for him. And with this group is a few adults, namely Bill Sykes (the crook everyone aspires to be), and Nancy (Bill's girlfriend, and friend to all the children in the ring).

Like I've stated before, this movie is a personal favourite, as I've grown up with it. So I've got a bit of a bias but I'll try to be good.

I've got to say, this film is pretty underrated in terms of Movie Musicals. Nowhere will you see it on top 10 lists, or hear people covering these songs. Yet this is probably my number 2 favourite musical. This song has some fantastic numbers. The opening, "Food, Glorious Food" is just so fantastic, and really shows the desperation of these orphans. And then Consider Yourself, and Who Will Buy? really show London as it was for Dodger, Oliver, and simply how it was back in the 1800's. It captured the different jobs and lifestyles people had so well, and showed just how different the rich and the poor/middle class were. And anything with Ron Moody (Fagan) was just brilliant. He has such incredible charisma, and just likeability (yet you hate him too), and he just is so crazy. Things like "Be Back Soon", "Pick a Pocket or Two", "Be Back Soon" and "Reviewing the Situation" are all so great too.

The story is really well done, pairing the story about a young, innocent boy escaping his miserable life, alongside the story of Bill Sykes, Nancy and Fagan's ring of young crooks. It is by no means a "children's musical" though it is about children. The story is a bit complex, which is what makes it such a winner. It's not overly complicated and dramatic and serious, but brings a bit of complexity and seriousness without losing the humour and the innocence of Oliver.

There were 2 acting nominations for this film. The first was for Lead Actor, for Ron Moody (Fagan). The second was a supporting actor nomination for Jack Wild (Dodger). Again, having grown up with the movie, it seems so funny to me that these 2 were Oscar nominated. But having watched it again today (after several years) I can completely see why. Ron Moody totally lights up the screen in all of his musical numbers, and is great as the not-so-tough crook. As for Jack Wild, he was also great as Dodger. He carried the air of a young child, though not innocent whatsoever, and a bonified crook. He was demanding, and tried hard to impress. He was the perfect choice for Dodger and he played him so well.

Overall I don't have anything negative to say about this movie. It's always been a favourite, and continues still to be. And currently has the top spot on my favourite Best Picture winner's that I've reviewed so far.

Update (1/17/14)
I recently rewatched the movie, and while I still love it, I would not rate it nearly as high as previously. While it formerly had a 82.5/100, I have now adjusted it to be 79.5/100. While the acting of Jack Wild and Ron Moody were great, that of Mark Lester was very weak.

Acting- 8/10     
Directing- 7.5/10     
Screenplay- 7.5/10     
Music – 10/10    
Visuals- 8.5/10     
Entertaining- 7.5/10    
Emotional Connection- 7/10     
Rewatchability- 7/10     
Overall Enjoyment- 7.75/10     
Overall Package- 7.5/10      

Total: 78.25/100

The Broadway Melody

The Broadway Melody, 1929
Directed by Harry Beaumont
Nominated for 3 Oscars, Won 1

The 2nd annual Academy Awards were interesting. It was the only year that there were no official nominees. Only after research by the AMPAs was there an unofficial nominees list composed (based on seeing what films the Academy had evaluated). The Broadway Melody is the 2nd Best Picture winner (some argue the 1st. The 1st Oscars having honoured Best Picture- Production and Best Picture-Unique and Artistic Production, with Wings winning Best Picture- Production, and is listed on as the first winner).

Anyway, I was interested in what this movie would be like. Knowing virtually nothing about it, I was interested to see what a movie from 1929, one of the first all-talkie musicals.

This film was about 2 sisters who have come to New York to perform their act (singing and dancing). The one sister, Hank, is dating (almost engaged) to a man who's in with some music executives for Broadway shows and is a leading singer and dancer in Mr Zenfield's (music executive) show. But after an audition, the executives are only interested in Hanks beautiful sister, Queenie, but Queenie persuades them to take on Hank too. But Hank's boyfriend, Eddie, is falling in love with Queenie. But after Queenie subs in for a woman in very little clothes in one of Eddie's number, she attracts the attention of an older man, someone who Hank and Eddie don't trust.

This movie wasn't all that great. It was cliche and not terribly original, probably even for that time period of 82 years ago. At the same time, it was not bad for a movie that is, 82 years old. The acting was quite good (Bessie Love, who played Hank, had an unofficial nomination) and was a cute, fun film about sisterly bonds, sacrificing for love, and some good music. Funny enough, I didn't think I'd recognize any of it, but I did. One of which was used in Singin' In The Rain.

Overall, I thought it was an okay movie. It wasn't terribly interesting and found myself frequently checking to see how much time is left. But I was impressed in how good it was for it's time. I was expecting a lot less than what I got.

Acting- 7/10 
Directing- 7/10 
Screenplay- 6.5/10 
Visuals- 7/10 
Music- 8/10 
Emotional Connection- 5/10 
Entertainment- 5/10 
Rewatchability- 5/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 5/10 
Overall Package- 6/10       

Total: 61.5/100

Winner Breakdown: Best Director

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

Honestly, this is a pretty straightforward category when it comes to who'll win. This award usually goes right along with the Best Picture winner, so we're looking at first-time nominee Michel Hazanavicius to take home this prize, as he will with Best Picture. I thought Hazanavicius's film was great, and the direction of it was so magnetic. The focus on lighting/shadows, silence vs sound, and just everything about the film was great. Even if it hadn't have been silent, the film still would've been completely captivating, and that's because of Jean Dujardin and Michel Hazanavicius. Hazanavicius won the DGA Award, the Critics Choice Award and several Film Critics awards. However, Martin Scorsese would be the only competition in this category. He won the Golden Globe and National Board of Review. However, Hugo will likely win several technical awards, and Hugo doesn't stand too much of a chance at Best Picture, taking away from the chances at Director. Hazanavicius seems the clear winner here.  

Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius
Could Win: Martin Scorsese
Dark Horse: Woody Allen
Who I Want to Win: Michel Hazanavicius


Gigi, 1958
Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Nominated for 9 Oscars, Won 9
Up Against: Auntie Mame, Cat on A Hot Tin Roof, The Defiant Ones, Separate Tables

Gigi is a young girl living in Paris in the year 1900. She lives with her mother (who is too busy with her singing "career" to look after her), and her grandmother, and takes lessons (manners, posture, eating habits, etc) with her Aunt. They are all trying to mold her into the perfect lady. But Gigi is different. She is wild, and silly, and speaks her mind.

On the other hand, there is Gaston Lachaille, a Parisian socialite who dates many women, is extremely rich, and world famous, but finds everything "a bore". He is tired of all the girls being the same, and the city being the same, and everything being the same. He is looking for something new. Gaston is friends with Gigi and her grandmother, and has been for a long time, and loves to play cards with Gigi, talk, and spoil her. But Gigi is starting to grow up, and become a lady, and Gaston realizes she is not a little girl after all... and he may just be in love with her.

This film won all 9 Oscars it was nominated for, making it the movie with the most wins in Oscar history, at that point. It was a well done film indeed, and was a good light-hearted musical. Leslie Caron, who has previously starred in An American in Paris (another BP, and starring alongside Gene Kelly), was great as Gigi. While I found her to be so-so in American (which was her first film), she was fun and wild in this one. While it wasn't Oscar worthy (she wasn't nominated), she pulled off playing a 16-18 year old with ease and was believable.

While the music was fun, and the story was nice, it wasn't a very compelling film, and was just a 'cute' film. Not that I have anything against that. Singin' In The Rain is one of my very favourite movies, and it isn't deep, and is more cute and fun than anything.

The songs, however, were very good. The movies wasn't overloaded with singing (which I liked) and the song were catchy and appropriate for the story (which I like even more). "Thank heaven, for little girls" is still whirling around my head, French accent included.

Overall, I enjoy musicals. Not so much ones from this day and age, but love those from the 50's and 60's. Things like Sound of Music, Oliver!, Singin' In The Rain, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, etc. So I was hoping for something really good out of this one too, and I really did enjoy (though not as much as any of the above listed). Gigi was a very likable character, which reminded me very much of Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables), and the others characters were quite fun. Gaston was funny, yet a playboy. Honore was cute and charming, and even her grandmother and Aunt Alicia were funny. The script was well written, and was funny and witty, which I love in a film.

There's not too much else I can say. I enjoyed it, it was a nice film, though probably not something I would pick for Best Picture. But it was still a fun film. And musicals from the 50's and 60's are the best ones.

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

Total: 75.5/100 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Winner Breakdown: Screenplays

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

This year was very much composed of book adaptations in the best picture category. Of the 9 nominees, 6 are based upon books, though surprisingly only 3 of those made it in (Moneyball, Descendants and Hugo). So far, it looks like the competition will be between the 3 Best Picture nominees. Behind The Descendants we have Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon. Payne previously won an Oscar (his only) for his writing for Sideways. Behind Hugo is John Logan, who hasn't won an Oscar yet, but was previously nominated for Gladiator and The Aviator. And for Moneyball we have Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Zaillian has been nominated 4 times and won for Schindler's List, and Sorkin has been nominated twice, winning for his work on last year's The Social Network. (Ides writers both have been nominated for 1 other film, and TTSS are first time nominees). So we're really looking at the BP nominees. But personally, I feel the award will go to Moneyball. Zaillian and Sorkin made a smart baseball film, with some humour, but also with some wit, and passion. It's a well-written script, and may be Moneyball's best shot at anything. It's won lots of Film Critics awards (Toronto, San Diago, etc), and it has the powerhouse's of Zaillian and Sorkin. If anything is to upset this award, it'll be The Descendants, which just won the WGA Award for Best Adapted. Payne has previously won for Sideways, and both films will be duking it out for (possibly) the only awards they have shots at. But I'm going to have to put Moneyball as the winner, just over The Descendants, though I wouldn't be shocked if The Descendants took it.

Will Win: Moneyball
Could Win: The Descendants
Dark Horse: The Ides of March
Who I Want to Win: Moneyball

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

This category was interesting since there weren't too many Original Screenplay's this year. This is Margin Call's only nomination, and it's not likely to win. The clear winner here is Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. It won the Golden Globe and the Writers Guild Award. I'd say it's pretty much a lock-in, with Allen previously winning 2 Writing Awards, and being nominated a total of 15 times (just for writing). This one is a pretty clear winner. However, The Artist could make an upset (as could Bridesmaids), but I wouldn't seriously think on it, as it's not at all likely. 

Will Win: Midnight in Paris
Could Win: The Artist
Dark Horse: Bridesmaids 
Who I Want to Win: Midnight in Paris

Friday, 17 February 2012

Winner Breakdown: Best Animated Feature

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

Of these 5 nominees, I've seen a total of 1.5. I've seen Kung-Fu Panda 2 twice (which I loved, though I couldn't remember anything about the original). And I've watched half of Rango. Why half? I was with friends, we were in a funny mood, and couldn't get over the fact of how ugly the creatures were and wondering why the proportions were so off (some of those animals should've been way bigger than they were). These nominees were funny this year. I was surprised at the lack of Tin-Tin, Winnie The Pooh and Rio. However, I think Rango is the front-runner here. It's an animated movie with Johnny Depp, and it's a wonky western. Different from everything else. And it's been picking up all the awards (or the ones Tin-Tin hasn't won). However, I'm in Camp Kung-Fu Panda. I thought it was incredibly hilarious, and you didn't really need to know the story of the 1st film to enjoy it. But expect Rango to pick up this award.

Will Win: Rango
Could Win: Puss in Boots
Dark Horse: Kung-Fu Panda 2
What I Want to Win: Kung-Fu Panda 2

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Annie Hall

Annie Hall, 1977
Directed by Woody Allen
Up Against: The Goodbye Girl, Julia, The Turning Point, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Woody Allen directs and stars in this film. While it's only the second Woody Allen film I've seen (the first being Midnight in Paris- yes I'm behind on things), it's the first film I've seen him act in.

Allen plays a wonderfully dorky, intelluctual, neurotic comedian, living in New York City. He's been married twice already, and opens up the film telling us that life is full of loneliness and it's over too quickly, and that he'd never be a part of a club that has a member like himself. Right off the bat we get an idea about who Alvy Singer is and what he's about. He's not like most guys.

Alvy is in love with a woman named Annie Hall. She's slightly ditsy, and a different kind of neurotic. She's flighty and simple-minded, while Alvy is a deep-thinker who's always pinned as being slightly hostile, obsessed with death and paranoid. The story of their love is told in a narrative that jumps back and forth between present and past, and is riddled with captions stating what they're thinking, their present selves visiting their past selves, and frequently addressing the audience with their thoughts. It's a quirky love story, but it's utterly charming.

The film tells us about how Alvy and Annie were introduced (playing tennis), how they got together, the good times, the bad times, the break-ups, the other one-night stands and the getting back together. And the circle continues. While the story doesn't have too much of a plot, it's interesting. It's more of a documentary of 2 lovers in New York, living life.

In a way this film reminded me of (500) Days of Summer. Not so much what the film was about, but more how they were both told in quirky, unique ways, and focused on how different they both were (Tom and Summer, and Alvy and Annie). Had this film been told how regular movies are told, with little voice-over narrative, few flashbacks and a definitie plot, this film would've been a lot less charming than it was. Alvy is cooky but you feel for him, and you love his quirks. Annie is erratic, but you come to love and care about her too.

I loved Woody Allen playing Alvy. Yes I know he wrote the screenplay, but I thought he was perfectly dorky, and carried the part so well. He really understand Alvy (duh), but really portrayed him well too, with great timing and perfect awkwardness. Diane Keaton was also great as Annie. She was the perfect balance between being erratic and simple-minded. She brought passion into the part, and played Annie well. Hence her winning the Oscar for the role.

Of course, the screenplay was great. Woody Allen seems strongest suit really seems to be writing. Many times I wished he'd write novels, while watching this movie. They would be incredibly interesting.

The only few flaws of the film was many-a-times, a flashback scene would be shown, and I'm never really sure if it's ended, or if we're back in the present. It's easy when we're seeing flashbacks of Alvy and his ex-wives, but his flashbacks with Annie are less defined, and the scene at the beginning of the movie, I'm never sure if after that we went completely to the beginning and went chronologically, or if we came back to that point and did present time then flashbacks, alternating.

But overall, I really enjoyed the film. It's so different from other Best Picture's I've watched so far. It was a cute movie, it was funny and sarcastic, and it was enjoyable to watch!

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

Total: 83/100 

Winner Breakdown: Best Visual Effects

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

Here comes a really unpopular opinion. The apes in Rise of the Planet of the Apes didn't like as good as everyone said. Sure, when you looked at them by themselves, or when they interact with each other, the look good. But they look so blatantly fake when they're next to humans that it was kind of silly. I had thought maybe I was the only one who thought this, but my dad sat down and watched the movie with me last week, and said the same thing. Anyone else? Sure, they looked amazing when you saw this: , but looked silly here: 

However, I don't think my opinion will chance the outcome of the winners. Rise of the Planet of the Apes will likely win, since it did do a good job, and it's from the same people who did Avatar. But I'd really love to see Harry Potter win here. It had some fantastic Visual Effects (as always), this film being the big showcase for that. If anyone upsets Apes win, it'll be Potter. However, don't count out Scorsese favourite Hugo, though I feel it very less likely to win in this category. 

Will Win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Could Win: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part II
Dark Horse: Hugo
Who I Want to Win: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part II

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

2012 Anticipated Films

Here are some trailers from upcoming movies I'm looking forward to. Taking a break from the Awardsy movies, and sharing some films I'm looking forward to this year!

The Hunger Games- March 23rd 2012

The Amazing Spiderman- July 3rd 2012

The Dark Knight Rises- July 20th 2012

Brave- June 22nd 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
December 14th 2012

Special mentions: Les Miserables, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The 5 Year Engagement, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, The Great Gatsby, Gangster Squad, Gravity