Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Random Notes: The Nominations

The Academy Award nominations were announced today. They are as follows:

Best Picture
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

--I am very sad to see Juno up here. For some reason, people have eaten up this sassy and pretentious teen-pregnancy comedy. I do not think it was the best picture of the year, not by far. However, three of my favorite pictures of the year--Atonement, No Country and There Will be Blood--are nominated. I'm hoping it's at least between those three. Of the selection, Atonement has the best chance, because that's just the kind of movie it is, although I think it should be No Country for Old Men, but hey, that's just me.

Best Actor
George Clooney-Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis- There Will be Blood
Johnny Depp-Sweeney Todd
Tommy Lee Jones-In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen-Eastern Promises

--I think there's no question- Daniel Day-Lewis has been the favorite for months and months before TWBB even came out. I've always been a big Johnny Depp backer, but I honestly don't care at all that he's nominated. He won the golden globe, much to my surprise (and delight), but in this pool of actors, he's nearly last for me. I can't say a whole lot, though, because this competition is (hopefully) all wrapped up for Day-Lewis.

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett-Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie-Away from Her
Marion Cotillard- La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney-The Savages
Ellen Page-Juno

--Curse Ellen Page. Everyone knew she would get nominated, but if she wins I will burn buildings. Anyway, I have only seen two of the 5 movies on this list, so I can't provide speculation, but from what I hear, Marion Cotillard gives a spectacular performance, and she did win the Golden Globe and I also *hear* that she's a lock for the trophy, and has been for a long long time.

Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck-The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem-No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman- Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook-Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson- Michael Clayton

--It's nice to see PSH get a nod, after all he did 3 movies this year, he was bound to get noticed for one of them. I can't say for definite who might win this one. Javier Bardem won a Golden Globe but Hal Holbrook has been a favorite for a long time and he was pretty spectacular in Into the Wild. If I was putting money on it, I'd say it was between those two.

Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett-I'm Not There
Ruby Dee-American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan-Atonement
Amy Ryan-Gone baby Gone
Tilda Swinton-Michael Clayton

--Apparently Michael Clayton has great acting performances and I still haven't seen it. Damn. Anyway, I think Cate Blanchett is the favorite in this category (she's always mine), so she'll probably win, but I hear Amy Ryan is great in Gone Baby Gone...But I haven't seen it.. I actually thought that Ruby Dee's performance was amazing, but I believe in this race she's a true underdog. Like, seriously. I think it's unfortunate that Saoirse Ronan is nominated for Atonement but James McAvoy is not. Because he truly delivered.

Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson-There Will Be Blood
Ethan and Joel Coen-No Country for Old Men
Tony Gilroy-Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman-Juno
Julian Schnabel-The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

--Juno again?? I understand that people like this film, but seriously, why?? Anyway, I don't know who to root for here. I think PT Anderson did a really fantastic job but I also loved No Country... I suppose we could just give it to Julian Schnabel. I loved TDBATBF (jeez...) a whole lot. Yes. A whole lot. 

Best Original Screenplay
Juno- Diablo Cody
Lars and the Real Girl-Nancy Oliver
Michael Clayton-Tony Gilroy
Rataouille- Brad Bird
The Savages-Tamara Jenkins

--Fuck it. Just give it to Diablo Cody.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Atonement-Chris Hampton
Away from Her- Sarah Polley
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly-Ronald Harwood
No Country for Old Men- Joel and Ethan Coen
There Will be Blood- Paul Thomas Anderson

--Hm... Well, I haven't read any of these books, and I haven't seen one of these movies, so I have nothing on this category. My mom is reading Atonement and says that it's exactly like the movie..So maybe that should win?

Best Cinematography
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
No Country for Old Men
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
There Will be Blood

--I would've said The Diving Bell but after I saw There Will be Blood that sold me for best cinematography. Really striking landscapes and colors. Superb frame work.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Bourne Ultimatum
Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood

--No Country and TWBB are against each other in nearly everything, it seems. I love them both, which one do I want to win? Uh, Into the Wild, no. Because you had shitty, shitty graphics. I would have to say the Diving Bell for this one. Really interesting look. Good.. Arty.

Art Direction
American Gangster
The Golden Compass
Sweeney Todd
There Will be Blood

--I didn't see The Golden Compass, but I heard cool things about the look of it. But I would say that this is between Sweeney Todd and TWBB.

Costume Design
Across the Universe
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
La Vie En Rose
Sweeney Todd

--Across the Universe didn't have costumes. Atonement had very pretty ones, La Vie en Rose probably won't win, neither will Sweeney Todd. So, Elizabeth it is. I never saw this, but some of the only good things I heard were how amazing the costumes where, so why wouldn't it win? Oscar is predictable like that.

Pirates of the Caribbean 3
La Vie En Rose

--Oh my God. How amazing would it be if Norbit won an oscar? That's incredible. Anyway, I would say that Norbit doesn't have a shot against the other two, and I think that La Vie en Rose might actually win.

Original Score
The Kite Runner
Michael Clayton
3:10 to Yuma

--WHAT. No Original Score nomination for There Will Be Blood?? It was absolutely brilliant. I quit this blog.

Best Song
August Rush
Enchanted (3)

--I'm not putting the song titles up because it's not important. Once must win. It simply must. It breaks the rules for musicals. It's incredible. If you haven't seen it, you must. Besides, the song that's up for the award is really beautiful.


That's all I shall touch upon for this. I must say that I'm pretty disappointed by a lot of these. I don't think that the Oscars are for people who are true lovers of film. If I was running the show, Juno wouldn't even be allowed to compete. 

But, I'll still watch them anyway. 

Monday, January 21, 2008

Review: Cloverfield (2008)

I had extremely high hopes for Cloverfield. I don't know why, but I did.

While they weren't all met, I still think that the movie was pretty entertaining.

I'm not well educated in monster movies so I have nothing to compare it to. I think the film was an interesting concept, and I'm glad that I didn't recognize anyone in it. While I think it's pretty unbelievable that someone would actually run around a crumbling city, being chased by a monster while holding a video camera. Not only holding it but actually shooting it. That would be exhausting. 

But...The whole movie is unrealistic, right? 

I think showing the monster too much ruined it a bit for me. It was better when it was more mysterious. I just figured that a group of people on the ground wouldn't get much of a glimpse of the monster but they did, so I guess anything is possible.

Speaking of anything is possible. I hated how invincible the main characters were. Nobody can be impaled on a structuring rod, get pulled off it, then run down flights of stairs and subsequently, the rest of New York. 

Also, I don't think anybody can survive a helicopter crash. Especially of that magnitude.

Well, you get the idea.

Nitpicking aside, I thought it was really entertaining and scary. 

And tense. Ooh boy it's tense.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Review: The Savages (2007)

This movies follows the lives of two siblings who have to figure out what to do with their elderly father when he's forced out of his Arizona retirement home. 

Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman play the siblings. I want to say that I really hated Laura Linney's character. She's selfish and neurotic and annoying. However, I loved Philip Seymour Hoffman. He very quietly made the movie for me. The film focuses more on relationships and how the characters deal with life while circulating around this dramatic sub-plot. Moving the father from home to home isn't what it's about. We see the characters evolve in their struggles with ego and jealousy. Maybe a relationship not often touched on is the one between two adult siblings. One brother and sister. I found this movie sad and moving and at times inappropriately funny. Although, I think this would've been too sad if not for the comedy. 

Still reading this?


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Review: The Orphanage (2007)

There's something about Foreign films. They seem so much more sophisticated than American ones. I have passed many times on American horror because I believe they focus more on who's in the movie than what they can do more to scare the living bejeezus out of you. Tonight I saw The Orphanage. And that theory was most handsomely confirmed.

I must admit that most of the plot was predictable, but it's so impossibly eerie that none of that matters. Never have I actually been shaken by fear. This also confirms a notion that nothing is scarier than children. 

I think this film succeeded on a few levels: There was a mystery aspect, so it wasn't just a horror film, it was a pure thriller too. There's plenty of tension, emotion and even a tiny bit of comedy. I think the shock value is what is most important. Especially for a horror film.

Plus, it's Spanish, so that automatically makes it stand out. 

If you like to be scared, please see this movie. It is excellent.

Grade: A

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Favorite Films of 2007

Here's my first post of the year, and I decided to start out with a look at the year that was: 2007.

I saw 44 films this year, which is a record for me. However I didn't see every one I wanted to, some of which might've made this list more difficult to put together. I'm not saying these are the best of the year, but they were my favorite, so here they are:

This film was nothing short of a masterpiece. I thought the execution of it was flawless, the story was great, and the acting was pitch-perfect. Un-doubtedly the best thing the Coens have done in years. There was no contest here. A tremendous accomplishment.

This film starts out from the literal point of view of a man who has been completely paralyzed save for his left eye. I thought that this whole film came with a complete package that includes good acting, good music, and beautiful photography. Emotional and always different. I was never bored.

This film did not get all the recognition it deserved. A truly original love story with music as the driving force--and what music. The soundtrack is obviously what stands out here, but also the performances from the two leads are phenomenal. Just goes to show that a low budget film can still do amazing things.

A sometimes brutal look into relationships and how we're betrayed by what's on the surface. Even so, this movie was smart and funny as hell. A unique drama that disguises itself as a comedy, so almost anyone can enjoy it. Great ensemble acting.

I didn't know much about Bob Dylan going into this film. Still, it didn't matter, because it's not really a biopic. I thought that having 6 actors play the same person, all for different stages of his life or different personalities of his was ingenius. Each character had a different setting and a different look. The film was innovative and fresh and new.

What an abstract, ambient piece of art. I think that for a film to succeed without dialogue is something not often seen, but this delivers. Gorgeous cinematography, and an awesome soundtrack. Daft Punk created an experience that was fascinating and surreal.

On the surface, it's a spoof movie. It's so much more, though, underneath. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright are the kings of visual references, even though some are hidden. A movie for geeks by geeks. Outstanding writing. I still catch new things the more I watch it.

I had no expectations going into this and was very pleasantly surprised. I think that Viggo Mortensen is an invaluable asset to the world of acting. He does what an actor is supposed to; make yourself vulnerable. An intriguing story and good supporting acting from Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassel

I'm going to get a beating for this one. I knew Atonement wasn't going to impress me but I saw it anyway, and I was amazed and blown away. What I thought was going to be a flimsy love story with sappy music attached was the complete opposite. The first 40 minutes are perfectly constructed around meticulous shots that match sharp but lovely music. The eternal romantic inside of me loved the last 40 minutes, which was full of sap and tears that I'm sure any fan of titanic will enjoy.

The minute I first heard of this film I loved it already. When two directors are so bold as to recreate an experience such as double-feature exploitation pics, my skin tingles at the thought. After viewing the movies, I was even more captivated. Rodriguez and Tarrantino are smart. These are movies that are based heavily around the experience of watching it in a movie theater. I only wish I could've seen it on the big screen (it's the only one on here I haven't), because I'm sure it would've hit me 10 times harder.