An Early Oscar Prediction…

That’s right, I said Oscar Prediction.

It is April 25, 2010 and I, Weetiger3, do hereby predict that nine months from today, when two stars get up unconscionably early to sit for hair and makeup in order to announce the nominations at 5:30am PST on January 25, 2011, How To Train Your Dragon (HTTYD) will be nominated for Best Animated Feature (which it will win) as well as Best Picture (which it won’t) and Best Original Score (which unless something truly monumental is released between now and then-and I realize it could happen-it SHOULD win.)

A friend, who has taken her two young sons to see it multiple times (that’s her excuse anyway,) inspired me to go back for another viewing today. This film deserves multiple viewings (yeah that’s right, the FILM.) It’s visually stunning and that’s true if you see it in 2 or 3D. And while it may be animated, there’s a reason a lot of the shots can only be described as “cinematic.” That reason is Roger Deakins. Yes, that Roger Deakins. Director of Photography on four Oscar nominated films last year and on the winner for Best Picture in 2008 (No Country for Old Men.) He was brought in as a “visual consultant” on HTTYD just as he had been on Wall-E (which won Best Animated Feature, also in 2008)

It’s not my intention to write a review. There are enough of those out there and you can certainly find more than one if that’s what you’re after. I think the fact that the movie will win the weekend box office yet again, after a month in release speaks for itself. The story itself is told in such a way that avoids some of the usual cliched pitfalls that usually hobble a film trying to please young and old alike. It’s simple and timeless. The voice cast is spot on and imbues their animated characters with life and real emotion.

HTTYD Trailer in HD

What really prompted this post was the music. I absolutely loved it.

The composer, John Powell, is no stranger to awards, having been nominated multiple times for BAFTAs, Grammys, Saturns and Annies, as well as having won the ASCAP award (given by his peers, fellow composers) eight times. Surprisingly though, his CV (which includes both The Italian Job and P.S. I Love You-for trivia fans) lists no Oscar nominations. I really believe his first will be for HTTYD.

I don’t know enough about music to speak intelligently about it except to say that I found it beautiful, stirring and in all senses of the word, appropriate. It moved me. It moved me while I was watching the film, it has haunted me since. Compared to the number of movies I’ve seen in my lifetime, the number of soundtracks I own is a tiny fraction. I have to feel compelled to buy it. I own this one. Click on the video below for a sample. When you do, the window also leads you to the rest of the tracks.

HTTYD Soundtrack 11 “Test Drive”

So in summary, I predict that when this guy

walks the red carpet in front on the Kodak Theater on February 27, 2011, it may be that he’s been asked to present again, but it will also be in support of his movie, a multiple award nominee. JMHO. We’ll see.

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Kick-Ass…My Impressions

It’s been a week since I saw Kick-Ass. I was trying to find a way, as I often do with much anticipated movies, to talk about it and say something that hasn’t already been repeated ad nauseum out in the blogosphere.

How many times does one need to read that "Kick-Ass kicks ass!"?? It does. In spades, it does.

It’s funny and violent and colorful and over-the-top. The kind of movie that makes you really glad you’re sitting in a crowded movie theater with 200 people all sharing the experience, rather than at home in your darkened living room.

Kick-Ass is not only a movie based on a comic book (sorry…graphic novel) but it is a comic book of a movie. If it is a "super hero movie" it’s one that doesn’t take itself seriously.  Unlike Spiderman and the Dark Knight films, which seem to aspire to no more than using their source material as a jumping off point, Kick-Ass is a live action version of the source material, a comic book come to life. Its big, bold primary colors harken back to the ’60s tv version of Batman (which may have inspired Nicolas Cage’s spot on impression of Adam West. Ironically, most of those who will line up to buy a ticket to Kick-Ass will not get the reference, though as it’s almost a given they are fans of Family Guy, they will recognize the speech patterns.) One can almost see each scene as a panel in a comic strip, complete with thought/speech balloons and Pow! Bam! and Socko! every time someone gets hit.

The young cast was terrific. I’m not sure I’d call Dave Lizewski Aaron Johnson’s break-out role. He was good, but I fear he’ll become more famous for impregnating his 42 yr old Nowhere Boy director at 19, than any part he ever plays. (I really want to see Nowhere Boy at some point.) Christopher Mintz-Plasse was also good but the only time one will not be reminded of "McLovin’" is when he’s doing voice-work, as in How to Train Your Dragon when the appearance of the character he voiced is as far from Christopher Mintz-Plasse as one could get.

I’m sure Matthew Vaughn despaired of ever finding a young girl who could carry off a character like Hit Girl. Boy, did he get lucky with Chloe Moretz. This kid has drawn comparisons to a young Jodie Foster, and rightly so; comparisons that have also been made with Dakota Fanning and Abigail Breslin. Both of those actresses are extremely talented and will hopefully be around as long as Jodie has, but neither of them has on their already impressive resumes a character as dark as Hit Girl/Mindy McCready. If Scorcese were making Taxi Driver today, I think Mindy and Iris would have a lot to talk about. (Speaking of Scorcese, Moretz has the lead in his new film "The Invention of Hugo Cabret", currently in post and due out next year)

By now, everyone interested knows about the infamous use of the "c" word. I am personally not a fan of this word. While it may stem from middle English and its use goes back to at least Chaucer, its modern connotation is nothing but derogatory. If I had seen this movie before all of the hype surrounding the one fleeting utterance of this word, I may have been a little bit more outraged. As it was, I was waiting for it. And while it is a manifestation of the wacky mindset of this 11 yr old girl, it’s really not that big a deal, IMHO. This kid is a miniature adult, a violent and aggressive adult. Everything one sees her do or say is shocking.

As for the actual adults, Matthew Vaughn has filled in the edges of his movie with some really good character actors. Some he’s worked with in the past, like Dexter Fletcher and Jason Flemyng, others equally recognizable like Michael Rispoli, all playing variations on mob goons.

I haven’t liked Nicolas Cage in years and he’s terrific as Big Daddy, (see above) but for me, however, the highlight of the film was Mark Strong’s Frank D’Amico. I don’t know what I can say here that hasn’t already been said elsewhere. A lot of superlatives have been heaped on this performance and I would only be redundant if I repeated them all now. Oh wait… here’s one…SEXY AS ALL HELL! Long and lean, stalking cat like through the film in those perfectly draped suits and expertly tailored trousers (Hell, I should be writing for ClothesOnFilm) all tightly coiled menace… One of his best villains yet, and with a canon of villains like his, that’s saying something.

God bless and keep Sammy Sheldon, the BAFTA award winning costume designer who also did Stardust among others, who put this man in those fantastic colors. It should be written into every contract for every role he ever takes in the future that he must wear a red shirt at least once.


(would that I had a pic of the red shirt…*swoon*…)

Matthew Vaughn has made three movies. Three. Each better than the last. Personally I can’t wait to see what he’s on to next.

(Oh and memo to self: Write Matthew Vaughn and ask him to talk his good friend Guy Ritchie out of casting Brad Pitt as Moriarty.)

Dueling Centurions, pt. 1

Centurion ArtworkSee More Centurion Artwork at IGN.com

From Pathe Studios: AD 117. The Roman Empire stretches from Egypt to Spain, and East as far as the Black Sea. But in northern Britain, the relentless onslaught of conquest has ground to a halt in face of the guerrilla tactics of an elusive enemy: the savage and terrifying Picts. Quintus Dias (Fassbender), sole survivor of a Pictish raid on a Roman frontier fort, marches north with General Virilus’ (West) legendary Ninth Legion, under orders to wipe the Picts from the face of the earth and destroy their leader Gorlacon. But when the legion is ambushed on unfamiliar ground, and Virilus taken captive, Quintus faces a desperate struggle to keep his small platoon alive behind enemy lines. Enduring the harsh terrain and evading their remorseless Pict pursuers led by revenge-hungry Pict Warrior Etain (Kurylenko), the band of soldiers race to rescue their General and to reach the safety of the Roman frontier

Trailer

(Thank you HeyUGuys and IGN)

IGN Video: Centurion Movie Interview – Behind-the-Scenes
Red Band Behind the Scenes Featurette w/Fassbender, Kurylenko, West and dir. Neil Marshall. (Click on the link. For some reason I can’t seem to get the embed code to work.)

This looks like a down and dirty action flick with plenty of blood and guts and all manner of other bodily fluids, all set in 2nd century Scotland. *SWOON*

I’m a big Neil Marshall fan (since Dog Soldiers-I even liked Doomsday with its Warriors/Escape from New York vibe), as well as Michael Fassbender (who’s been an actor on the verge for so long I hope he doesn’t fall off.) The film also stars Domenic West and David Morrissey. They had me at Fassbender and swords. These two equally terrific actors are just icing.

I’ve been waiting for this for what feels like forever. "Centurion" opened in the UK this weekend and was JUST given a US release date of August 27. (Why we have to wait four months is beyond me, but just last week there was no date at all. I suspect that the enthusiastic reception at last weekend’s “ActionFest” played a part. In any case, I’ll take it. imdb also lists July 23 as the “Video On Demand” release date. Not sure what’s up with that.)

Empire Magazine Interview with Neil Marshall in which he mentions “Eagle of the Ninth”, the subject of “Dueling Centurions, pt. 2” (as soon as we get a trailer…)