The Bounty Hunter does not reinvent the wheel.

Nor does it cure global warming or explain cold fusion. I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that it will put a smile on your face, if you let it.

I think this looks funny. It also appears that the two leads have great chemistry. (Something the tabloids seem to agree with since they’re still trying turn them into an off-screen couple; something they’ve been attempting to do on and off since TIFF ’08.)Great chemistry between the two impossibly good-looking co-stars is what one typically looks for in a romance, be it a full on sap fest like The Notebook or Dear John or a romantic comedy like most of the films made by Jennifer Aniston in the last twelve years or any of the films made by Katherine Heigl, such as The Ugly Truth. (Here’s a question: If audiences and critics recognized Clueless as an updated version of Emma and 10 Things I Hate About You as The Taming of the Shrew, why didn’t they recognize The Ugly Truth as an updated version of Cyrano de Bergerac? But I digress…) My point is, you know going in what you’re going to get. You buy your ticket for the RIDE. And the ride goes nowhere without chemistry between the pretty leads, which brings me back to my original assertion that Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston appear to have great chemistry.

The Bounty Hunter is hedging its bets by calling itself an “Action-Comedy”, leaving out the word romantic altogether. While it is true that the lead characters are a divorced couple, I think we all expect some sparks to fly. (There better be at least one good, genuine “snog” or there may be rioting in the streets, right Hol?) I can only assume this move is to pull in the all-important 18-25 yr old male demographic, although it’s been proven that romcoms can do that if they put the emphasis on “comedy” rather than romance, as in the wildly successful Knocked Up (starring the aforementioned Ms. Heigl.)

Before the first trailer had been released, comparisons were being made to films like Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Midnight Run, both of which are well written and hugely entertaining (helped not a little by the chemistry of the leads I might add.) The comparisons are meant to be derogatory, as if The Bounty Hunter not only has no business emulating these films but could not possibly be as good as either of them. Now, I can definitely see the comparison to Midnight Run; as far as the other, it’s only being bandied about because of the inclusion of the ex-Mrs. Pitt. (In my humble opinion, The Bounty Hunter does not aspire to be another take on Mr. & Mrs. Smith-a film that is already on its way to being remade, by the way. The cynic in me thinks these things are linked…to get people talking about it again.) I have no idea whether any of this is justified because I haven’t seen the movie yet. My point is that neither has anyone else who has already dismissed it as a “been there, done that” yawn fest.

I’ll admit there is probably nothing new here, but that’s okay. If I buy a ticket to a movie like this, all I’m asking of it is that I be entertained for 90 to 120 minutes. Again, it all comes down to the leads. I happen to like Jennifer Aniston (although if you believe the blogosphere, it is more hip to hate her.) She’s spent the last twelve years or so making little gems like Picture Perfect that still merit repeat viewings, even if those viewings are on a rainy Saturday curled up on the couch with the sniffles. I’ve also liked her in light drama like The Good Girl and “dramadies” like Friends with Money, Management and Marley & Me. Would I go see her in Medea or as Lady MacBeth? Probably not. (Me thinks she’s smart enough to know better anyway.)

My affinity (love, lust, obsession, whatever) for Gerard Butler is well documented and if I’m being honest, and I hadn’t already planned to see this, they’d have had me with this trailer; the deep-throated growl/laugh as he says “Buh bye!”, the leaping tackle, the handcuffs… and last but certainly not least…the appearance, after an eight year drought, of Gerard Butler wrapped in a towel. Sigh….

It’s Nominations Day!!

I’m sure I’ll be blasted for this somewhere but I always think of today as my personal first day of Advent leading up to my High Holy Day…The Academy Awards.

I watched the live stream of the announcements at 8:38 EST this morning, at my desk at work, earbud firmly in place.

Most of the critics and the bigger bloggers are lamenting that there were few surprises.

My theory on the Matt Damon nomination (since Actors nominate Actors yes?) is that he, much like Christopher Plummer, was not nominated for this particular performance. In Plummer’s case, he was nominated for his body of work and to right an untenable slight. In Damon’s, perhaps because there wasn’t room for him in the Best Actor category, for which he’d have been nominated for The Informant, he was therefore nominated in the Supporting Category for a lesser, blonder performance. Just my humble opinion.

Stanley Tucci was probably nominated for his body of work too, although by all accounts he was the best thing about The Lovely Bones. It’s too bad that in years where the winner is virtually a foregone conclusion (Christoph Waltz, who was annointed as soon as Inglourious Basterds was released) that there are always performances that would have been rewarded in any other year, like Tucci’s. I know, the nomination is its own reward yada yada yada. That being said, then the Academy should adopt the BAFTA system. First you have to make the long list and then make it to the short list, the winners being chosen from the latter. In that case, wouldn’t it really seem to be more of an honor? And having said THAT, I’m thrilled that Colin Firth has finally been nominated as Best Actor, again after a body of impeccable work.

The Best Actress category was extremely predictable. No one doubted the well deserved nomination of Gaboury Sidibe, for her first film no less, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the Meryl Streep side of Julie and Julia, how about a bold choice by nominating Abbie Cornish, in a another career making performance, in Bright Star? A beautiful film and deserving of recognition despite the fact that only a handful of people saw it. At least it bagged a nomination for Costume Design (Fanny Brawne was a seamstress who also designed her own clothes and the costumes for the film were indeed sumptuous.) Carey Mulligan has been as lauded in Britain as she has in the US, also for a barely seen film. It’s comes to DVD next week and I plan to remedy my own remission. And then there’s the front runner, *insert eyeroll* Sandra Bullock… but speaking of being nominated for having blond hair (and an accent) …

Mo’nique (did I put the apostrophe in the right place?) has pretty much got a lock on Best Supporting Actress. Penelope Cruz, last year’s winner, was no surprise. Maggie Gyllenhaal was. If they were going to go for an “out there” selection, why not Diane Kruger. Too pretty? Yeah, she’ll have to wait until she gets her “ugly role.”

The new expansion of the Best Picture category to ten nominations has made room for films like District 9, but of course the blogosphere is agog at the fact that that film was nominated at the expense of Star Trek (which was inarguably the best of the franchise, Best Picture? eh.) However, as Roger Ebert has suggested, if you want to see the “real” nominees (read:the ones who have a hope in hell of actually winning) then pair up the films with the nominees for Best Director. (And yes, I think Avatar will win just because it’s biggest bully on the block. Give it the technical awards. I have no doubt it deserves those. Remember Transformers 2 made a pile of money too. Might doesn’t make right.)

I know I’m not alone in believing that the Best Director’s race comes down to Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron. And while I’ve been a fan since Blue Steel and had been rooting for her, not until her upset win for the Directors Guild award did I think she stood a chance. If anyone could be a spoiler, in my opinion, it would be Jason Reitman. At 33, he’s made three feature length films, all of which have been critically well received, and has earned Best Director and Best Picture nominations for two of them. He also got both of his leading ladies for those two films nominated as well (Ellen Page for Juno and Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air, despite the fact that she’s in the Supporting Category) His biggest achievement, as far as actors go, however, may have been earning a Golden Globe nomination for Aaron Eckhart. I’m sure it surprised no one that George Clooney was nominated. (Probably more for the fact that he gets more gorgeous every year and does good works. In which case, hang in there Mr. Butler) If by some cruel twist Jeff Bridges does not win (Crazy Heart is just a wonderful film,) then I believe he will probably win, over the more deserving Jeremy Renner.

Although it is possible the Coen Brothers will upset (for A Serious Man,) I believe Quentin Tarantino will once again win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and once again it will be so the Academy doesn’t have to give him Best Director or God forbid, Best Picture, just as when he won it the first time for Pulp Fiction.

The adapted screenplay will probably go to Jason Reitman for Up in the Air for the same reason, but I am thrilled that In the Loop was recognized. This film is available on dvd and if you are a reader and appreciator of this blog, you MUST see this film. Peter Capaldi deserved a Best Actor nom. (but at least it was universal. The BAFTAs went with Andy Serkis for playing Ian Drury in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, a film that was just released there, and I am glad the movie wasn’t completely left “out of the loop”. Sorry-it was right there, I had to.)

Best Animated Feature will go to Up (because it deserves it and because it won’t win Best Picture) although I’m a fan of Neil Gaiman so I won’t be horrified if Coraline pulls off an upset.

Best Score belongs to Sherlock Holmes (perfect, fun and memorable-what more can you ask) but frankly it’s anybody’s guess. The “experts” are all thrilled that Alexandre Desplat has been recognized for The Fantastic Mr. Fox. – didn’t see it.

Best Song will be “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart. And it should be. Great song and it captures the heart of the movie. I have no idea if that can be said of the other nominees since I’ve not heard them, but I know the song from Nine was only added to snag a nomination, just like all the other “original songs” added to the film versions of Broadway shows, in order to boost sales of the soundtrack album. (I’m looking at you Andrew Lloyd Webber.)

Best Foreign Language Film will probably be The White Ribbon. It’s a foreign film that is actually being talked about and seen BEFORE it wins an Academy Award, which could mean it deserves it. (And for the record, I want to see it and may make the schlep to the hard to reach art house theater in Cambridge.)It’s also been nominated for a cinematography award.

As for the docs, feature length will probably go to The Cove because of the reasons cited above. In any case, Michael Moore was denied, so whoever wins is okay with me.

As for the shorts, I have no clue. I suspect no one but the small group of Academy members who vote for them have heard, or will ever hear, of almost all of them.

Anyway, I’m counting the days until March 7.

And on that note…I still refuse to see The Blindside. BEST PICTURE?? Really?

(a portion of this post was submitted as a comment to an entry on…then I thought to myself “you do have your own blog you know!”)