My Daily Moment of Zen! Now with More Gloating!

Okay, I’m suffering from my annual post Oscar Night let down, BUT the fact that I "outguessed" a lot of the so-called professionals has eased the pain a bit.

I improved my average from the BAFTAS from 65% to 67%, which means I got 16 of 24 categories right. I didn’t even hazard a guess for the three "shorts" categories, so if I delete them, my average improves further to greater than 76% (16 of 21)  – Sorry my OCD is showing.  I realize this matters to no one else but me, but one takes one’s little victories where one may.

So, I’ve decided it would be easier to discuss where I went wrong (even though I’m very happy to say that I got Tom Hooper right!)

I was absolutely gutted, but not altogether surprised, that John Powell and How to Train Your Dragon did not win for Best Original Score. I was thrilled that it was nominated, and it was, of course, my favorite score, as I’ve loudly proclaimed from this blog and elsewhere for nearly a year now. I’ve also made clear that I could have lived with Alexandre Desplat’s score for The King’s Speech beating HTTYD. I cannot, however, understand the love for the music from The Social Network. I should have seen its Golden Globe win as a portent of things to come, but I naively believed that quality would win over the Academy’s newfound desire to be perceived as "hip".  Perhaps there is a contingent of completist Nine Inch Nails fans that will download Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ neo-emo soundtrack, but I don’t believe they’ll still be listening to it a month from now, let alone long enough for it to deserve to go into the annals of AMPAS.  It remains to be seen whether or not either Reznor or Ross continues to supply the world with beautiful movie music. I think it is a given that Powell, Desplat, Zimmer and even Rahman will do so.

I was a little surprised, although I can’t say I was disappointed, that David Seidler’s original screenplay for The King’s Speech won out over Christopher Nolan’s for Inception. Seidler had the momentum going into last night’s ceremony and there is no doubt that it was a great piece of writing, but I really did think that the Academy would give it to Nolan because 1. His script was original in every sense of the word and 2. to atone for his egregious snub in the Director’s category.  No one thought Inception, despite its merits, would win Best Picture.  Despite the fact that the film won other, richly deserved awards, The Best Original Screenplay category would have been a great way to recognize Nolan. 

For Best Costume Design, I went with The King’s Speech, but was not shocked nor particularly disappointed that the Academy went for all-out fantasy and Alice in Wonderland took the award. That film was all about the visuals, particularly the costumes, which were spectacular, even if the rest of the film was not. It made sense.

I flat out guessed on my pick for Best Foreign Language Film. I went with Biutiful because both the director, Alejandro Gonzales-Inarritu and its star, Javier Bardem, are known to the Academy and its voters. Bardem was even nominated for Best Actor for this film.  Again, I should have paid more attention to the bellwethers of the Hollywood Foreign Press and expected Denmark’s win for In a Better World.

I really thought it was "too soon" for Inside Job to win for Best Documentary Feature.  I was wrong. Its win will ensure that more people see it, which is not a bad thing, although I would have liked for Restrepo to have gotten that kick.

So, those are the five that I got wrong.  My other misses, as I said, were for the three "shorts" – Documentary,  Animated and Live Action- which I didn’t even guess at. (Although if I had, I would have gotten Animated wrong because I’d have gone with Day & Night, but I’d have gotten Live-Action right because I’d have picked God of Love -honest!)

So it’s all over for another 10 months when the madness begins anew. It was a good night for Harvey and The Weinstein Company, and I fully expect to see him back in his seat at the Kodak this time next year in support of another ‘little-film-that-could’…

As always, thanks for reading. Oh and I’ve got TREATS!!


And the bromance continues…


*clicky clicky*

 

edit: (and I stated this elsewhere but felt the need to amend this post) Adding to my surprise (and disappointment) that Gerard Butler wasn’t at the Academy Awards, was my disappointment in the lack of support for How to Train Your Dragon. Is it every day he’s involved with an Academy Award nominated film of any kind?? I realize it was just about a foregone conclusion that Toy Story 3 would win the category, but I don’t think that excuses the complete lack of a showing for HTTYD, (by anyone involved – they ARE doing a sequel- would it have been that difficult for say G and Craig Ferguson, possibly even Jay Baruchel, to show their faces?) especially when it swept the Annies and John Powell’s score had just been named Score of the Year. The appearance of hope would have been nice. The 9 other films nominated for Best Picture, who had to have been at least 75% sure that The King’s Speech would win, still had strong turnouts.

Rant over.

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HTTYD IS NAMED IFMC 2010 FILM SCORE OF THE YEAR!!


JOHN POWELL’S SCORE FOR HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON IS NAMED
INTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS’ 2010 FILM SCORE OF THE YEAR

From their website:

"The International Film Music Critics Association announces the winners of its seventh annual awards for excellence in musical scoring in 2010 with John Powell’s score for the animated film HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON topping the list, winning both Film Score of the Year and Best Score for an Animated Film. Alexandre Desplat receives three awards: Best Score for a Drama Film (THE KING’S SPEECH), Best Score for an Action/Adventure/Thriller Film (THE GHOST WRITER) and Composer of the Year."

 I’m doing the demented poodle dance right now!

I couldn’t be happier or more excited that Powell and HTTYD have been recognized in this way. I love the fact that this organization differentiates between types of scores. I am a little confused, however, how they can decide that HTTYD has the Best Score of the Year and yet Alexandre Desplat is the Composer of the Year.

The seeming disparity actually it reminds me of the Oscar races for Best Director and Best Picture. Many pundits and critics are still predicting David Fincher will take Best Director for The Social Network while also guessing The King’s Speech will win Best Picture. I guess that means that scores can compose themselves just like films can direct themselves.

So what does this win mean for John Powell and HTTYD‘s chances on Sunday night?

Desplat’s last win in which he went head to head with Powell was at the BAFTAs. Not at all surprising given the rout that the ‘veddy British’ The King’s Speech perpetrated on its competitors. The question remains how will either one of them do Sunday night against Golden Globe winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network. I realize there are two other films also nominated and Hans Zimmer can never be counted out, particularly when support for Inception seems to be gaining ground. A.R. Rahmin, who won in 2009 for both score and song for Slumdog Millionaire should probably just be happy to be nominated.

IF Powell has to lose, I’d much rather it be to Desplat, who has been nominated four times for some truly beautiful music, including the score for The Queen, but has never won, than to Reznor and Ross for a score that I don’t think anyone will be listening to nor even remember next year. 

That being said, I really really really want Powell to win.

As always, thanks for reading. Since I can’t give you pics of music…


*click*

Obsessive BAFTA results post w/PICTURES!!

I did pretty well. 13 out of 20 which is 65%.

I stumbled where I have been stumbling this entire awards season. In the Supporting Actor category, if I go with Bale then Rush wins, if I go with Rush, Bale wins. I’m sticking with Bale for the Academy Awards though. (Get your acceptance speech ready Mr. Rush.)

In the Supporting Actress category, my reasoning was sound but I picked the wrong Englishwoman! What was I thinking lol.

And in the directing category, the one time I figured I’d be right about Tom Hooper, David Fincher wins! Who’d a thunk that one, especially after the rout enjoyed by The King’s Speech overall? I think it was a stab at not appearing to be biased. I know the Oscar ballots aren’t due until Friday, but I’m sticking with Hooper after his DGA win. I also have to stick with Christopher Nolan for Original Screenplay despite his BAFTA loss to David Seidler for The King’s Speech.

Can I just say how very disappointed I am that HTTYD did not win in the Music category? I’ve said from the beginning how much I enjoyed Alexandre Desplat’s score for The King’s Speech, but JMHO, there was not another score last year that made me feel like John Powell’s gorgeous, sweeping, transporting score for How to Train Your Dragon.

Oh and just to make myself feel better, even though I called Roger Deakins right at the BAFTAs (because he’s British,) Wally Pfister beat him for the ASC award and I want to reiterate that I am choosing Pfister over Deakins for the Oscar.

Here are the nominees and the results (my predictions are in red, the winner in italics):

BEST FILM

BLACK SWAN – Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver, Scott Franklin
INCEPTION – Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan
THE KING’S SPEECH – Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin
THE SOCIAL NETWORK – Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Cean Chaffin
TRUE GRIT – Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM

127 HOURS – Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy, Christian Colson, John Smithson
ANOTHER YEAR – Mike Leigh, Georgina Lowe
FOUR LIONS – Chris Morris, Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, Mark Herbert, Derrin Schlesinger
THE KING’S SPEECH – Tom Hooper, David Seidler, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin
MADE IN DAGENHAM – Nigel Cole, William Ivory, Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley

OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER

THE ARBOR – Director, Producer – Clio Barnard, Tracy O’Riordan
EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP – Director, Producer – Banksy, Jaimie D’Cruz
FOUR LIONS – Director/Writer – Chris Morris
MONSTERS – Director/Writer – Gareth Edwards
SKELETONS – Director/Writer – Nick Whitfield

DIRECTOR

127 HOURS – Danny Boyle
BLACK SWAN – Darren Aronofsky
INCEPTION – Christopher Nolan
THE KING’S SPEECH – Tom Hooper
THE SOCIAL NETWORK – David Fincher

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

BLACK SWAN – Mark Heyman, Andreas Heinz, John McLaughlin
THE FIGHTER – Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson
INCEPTION – Christopher Nolan
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT – Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
THE KING’S SPEECH – David Seidler

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

127 HOURS – Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO – Rasmus Heisterberg, Nikolaj Arcel
THE SOCIAL NETWORK – Aaron Sorkin
TOY STORY 3 – Michael Arndt
TRUE GRIT – Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

BIUTIFUL – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Jon Kilik, Fernando Bovaira
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO – Soren Stærmose, Niels Arden Oplev
I AM LOVE – Luca Guadagnino, Francesco Melzi D’Eril, Marco Morabito, Massimiliano Violante
OF GODS AND MEN – Xavier Beauvois
THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES – Mariela Besuievsky, Juan José Campanella

ANIMATED FILM

DESPICABLE ME – Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON – Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois * although we know this is where my heart lies
TOY STORY 3 – Lee Unkrich

LEADING ACTOR

JAVIER BARDEM – Biutiful
JEFF BRIDGES – True Grit
JESSE EISENBERG – The Social Network
COLIN FIRTH – The King’s Speech
JAMES FRANCO – 127 Hours

LEADING ACTRESS

ANNETTE BENING – The Kids Are All Right
JULIANNE MOORE – The Kids Are All Right
NATALIE PORTMAN – Black Swan
NOOMI RAPACE – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
HAILEE STEINFELD – True Grit

SUPPORTING ACTOR

CHRISTIAN BALE – The Fighter
ANDREW GARFIELD – The Social Network
PETE POSTLETHWAITE – The Town
MARK RUFFALO – The Kids Are All Right
GEOFFREY RUSH – The King’s Speech

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

AMY ADAMS – The Fighter
HELENA BONHAM CARTER – The King’s Speech
BARBARA HERSHEY – Black Swan
LESLEY MANVILLE – Another Year (because she’s British and they gave her Melissa Leo’s spot)
MIRANDA RICHARDSON – Made in Dagenham

ORIGINAL MUSIC

127 HOURS – AR Rahman
ALICE IN WONDERLAND – Danny Elfman
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON – John Powell COME ON!
INCEPTION – Hans Zimmer
THE KING’S SPEECH – Alexandre Desplat

CINEMATOGRAPHY

127 HOURS – Anthony Dod Mantle, Enrique Chediak
BLACK SWAN – Matthew Libatique
INCEPTION – Wally Pfister
THE KING’S SPEECH – Danny Cohen
TRUE GRIT – Roger Deakins

EDITING

127 HOURS – Jon Harris
BLACK SWAN – Andrew Weisblum
INCEPTION – Lee Smith
THE KING’S SPEECH – Tariq Anwar
THE SOCIAL NETWORK – Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter

PRODUCTION DESIGN

ALICE IN WONDERLAND – Robert Stromberg, Karen O’Hara
BLACK SWAN – Therese DePrez, Tora Peterson
INCEPTION – Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Doug Mowat
THE KING’S SPEECH – Eve Stewart, Judy Farr
TRUE GRIT – Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh

COSTUME DESIGN

ALICE IN WONDERLAND – Colleen Atwood
BLACK SWAN – Amy Westcott
THE KING’S SPEECH – Jenny Beavan
MADE IN DAGENHAM – Louise Stjernsward
TRUE GRIT – Mary Zophres

SOUND

127 HOURS – Glenn Freemantle, Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke, Steven C Laneri, Douglas Cameron
BLACK SWAN – Ken Ishii, Craig Henighan, Dominick Tavella
INCEPTION – Richard King, Lora Hirschberg, Gary A Rizzo, Ed Novick
THE KING’S SPEECH – John Midgley, Lee Walpole, Paul Hamblin
TRUE GRIT – Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, Peter F Kurland, Douglas Axtell

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS

ALICE IN WONDERLAND – Nominees TBD
BLACK SWAN – Dan Schrecker
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 – Tim Burke, John Richardson, Nicolas Ait’Hadi, Christian Manz
INCEPTION – Chris Corbould, Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Peter Bebb
TOY STORY 3 – Nominees TBC

MAKE UP & HAIR

ALICE IN WONDERLAND – Valli O’Reilly, Paul Gooch
BLACK SWAN – Judy Chin, Geordie Sheffer
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 – Amanda Knight, Lisa Tomblin
THE KING’S SPEECH – Frances Hannon
MADE IN DAGENHAM – Lizzie Yianni Georgiou

ORANGE WEDNESDAYS RISING AWARD

GEMMA ARTERTON
ANDREW GARFIELD
TOM HARDY (WOOHOO!)
AARON JOHNSON
EMMA STONE

A pretty good night for The Weinstein Company. Harvey got nearly as many shout-outs as Tom Hooper and Colin Firth.

Okay so now that that’s over, I did promise you some pictures. How about some pics from last night of one of Harvey’s 2012 awards season class*?


*for Coriolanus of course!

SAG Awards Predictions Post

Tonight is the 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony, essentially a big, televised dinner party for actors to congratulate themselves. While I love watching and wouldn’t miss it except in the case of famine, flood, biblical plague or nuclear disaster, ( This show is only 17 years old. I haven’t missed one yet) I do wish the other Guilds got equal face time.

The best part of the SAG telecast, for me, is the opening where the camera pans around the room and stops on seemingly random actors who tell us how and when they got their SAG card and then proclaim proudly,  "I…am an actor!"  (Bit of trivia: This tradition was started when Tom Hanks came onstage and took his worn and battered SAG card from his pocket and told the story of how he’d gotten it, and that the card in his hand was the original. The following year, he told the story of how his wife, Rita Wilson, had gotten hers for an episode of "The Brady Bunch.")

At this awards show, the "winners" take home an attractive bronze statue called "The Actor" and since it is peer recognition, the recipients can get very emotional. Makes for great tv. One thing this guild does right is the category called "Best Ensemble Cast."  It is wonderful that a handful of actors are singled out for what should be singular performances, but all actors deliver their dialogue not to blank walls or in a vacuum, but to other flesh and blood actors (unless they’re working with Muppets, animals, green screens or Megan Fox) whose reactions affect the performance. In other words, they need to work together and as a whole in order for the movie, television show etc etc to be considered a success. JMHO, but this is the most important award of the night since it is the only one of its kind.

They also recently added an award for ensemble STUNT acting which is very, very cool.

The nominees for

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture:

The Black Swan
The Fighter*
The King’s Speech*
The Social Network
The Kid’s Are Alright

I’ve been rooting for The Fighter to win this award since I saw it, simply because I want to see the actresses who played the seven Ward/Eklund sisters on that stage. And while only the principals are named in the nomination,

  • Amy Adams – Charlene Fleming
  • Christian Bale  – Dicky Eklund
  • Melissa Leo –  Alice Ward
  • Jack McGee –  George Ward
  • Mark Wahlberg – Micky Ward

if "the sisters" were invited to come out to support the film, they will make it up onto that stage.  Failing that, I’m rooting for The King’s Speech, because just like The Fighter, the Best Supporting and Best Actor nominees could not have existed one without the other. This award would be a way to show that “they” get that.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role:

Jeff Bridges – Rooster Cogburn, True Grit
Robert Duvall – Felix Bush, Get Low
Jesse Eisenberg – Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth – King George VI, The King’s Speech*
James Franco – Aron Ralston, 127 Hours

Robert Duvall was a surprise, although if more people had seen the film, Get Low, it might not have been. The film was a quirky little hidden gem about a cantankerous, curmudgeonly hermit who plans his own funeral party, while he’s still alive and Duvall IS the movie.  I don’t however, think Colin Firth will be beaten.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role:

Annette Bening – Nic, The Kids Are Alright
Nicole Kidman – Becca, The Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence – Ree Dolly, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman – Nina Sayers, The Black Swan*
Hilary Swank – Betty Ann Waters, Conviction

I fear Annette Bening will go home a bridesmaid yet again since Natalie Portman seems to have this one sewn up. (Both won a Golden Globe, but since the HFPA is the only award giving body that differentiates between Comedy and Drama, Drama almost always trumps Comedy.) 

On the other hand, Bening could spoil the pregnant ballerina’s night. The Santa Barbara Int’l Film Festival honored her this past week with the American Riviera Award. Last year they honored Sandra Bullock with the same award and the year before that, Kate Winslet. Do you see the pattern? Both of those women went on to win SAGs and then Oscars for their respective years. It could be complete coincidence…could be…. (JMHO) (2008 they honored Julie Christie who won the SAG for Away From Her, but lost the Oscar to Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose so maybe it’s only the SAGs they’re in league with.)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role:

Christian Bale – Dicky Eklund, The Fighter*
John Hawkes – Teardrop, Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner – James Coughlan, The Town
Mark Ruffalo – Paul, The Kid’s Are Alright
Geoffrey Rush – Lionel Logue, The King’s Speech

Geoffrey Rush is a SAG favorite; an Actor’s Actor. I wish he and Christian Bale could share this award, but then they’d have to give a leg to Jeremy Renner.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role:

Amy Adams – Charlene Fleming, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter – Queen Elizabeth, The King’s Speech
Mila Kunis – Lily, The Black Swan
Melissa Leo – Alice Ward, The Fighter*
Hailee Steinfeld – Mattie Ross, True Grit

Just as the tide seems to have turned for The Social Network, the awards buzz seems to have cooled for Melissa Leo and is now circling Hailee Steinfeld. I’m sticking with my original choice.

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture:

Green Zone
Inception*
Robin Hood

Okay, I’ve seen all three of these films and I can certainly see why the stunt actors division of the Screen Actors Guild would nominate them. Just watch the credits and you’ll see there are seemingly hundreds of names listed for each.  Think about the climactic battle on the beach in Robin Hood, any number of scenes in Inception. Green Zone was a war zone. Incredible stunts in all three. I’m going with Inception. Again, I have to cite the fight in the hallway that was done without CGI , but with a room that turned and the hotel scenes in zero gravity.

I’m not talking about television here, although since this is actors honoring actors, if Edgar Ramirez does not win for Carlos…well, I don’t know what I’ll do…but I’ll do something! *shakes fist* (Seriously, we all know Al Pacino is a great actor. He’s an All-Star. If they had an Actors Hall of Fame, he’d definitely be in on the first ballot.  In the immortal words of Marty Feldman, "What are you doin’ in there! Give someone else a chance!")

Thanks for reading.

My daily moment of Zen…

old school…for my homies…

Obligatory Oscar Nominations Post…with Gloating

It’s NOMINATIONS DAY!!!

My own personal advent has begun. The nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards were announced this morning. As I’ve said before, Oscar Night has always been my High Holy Day and I’m more excited than I’ve been in years.

Ask me if I feel vindicated (go ahead, ask me) about John Powell’s nomination for Best Original Score for How to Train Your Dragon, not to mention the film’s nomination as Best Animated Feature. I’m not above blowing my own trumpet and saying, once again, that I called this back in April!!  I let out an audible YES! when HTTYD was the first of the three films announced in their category. (Good thing the boss wasn’t in yet.)

Okay, having gotten all of that out, without further ado, here is the complete list of nominations:

Supporting Actor:
Christian Bale – The Fighter

John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner – The Town
Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech

Geoffrey Rush would still be my ultimate pick if I were doing the choosing. Without Rush, (or at least an actor of his caliber) Colin Firth’s performance would not only have existed in a vacuum, but would NOT have had the impact that it did, but I know better than to bet against Bale this time around. That’s not to say he’s undeserving of the honor and I do believe the category is his to lose.  I am very happy Jeremy Renner made the cut, hell I’m happy Mark Ruffalo did, too. John Hawkes was a surprise but not an unwelcome one. While I still maintain that Winter’s Bone rests almost entirely on the shoulders of Jennifer Lawrence, the key word is ‘almost.’ Hawkes’ Teardrop was a menacing scene-stealer and it’s always exciting when journeymen actors (eg: Jacki Weaver) are recognized, especially in little seen films.

Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams – The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter – The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo – The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit
Jacki Weaver – Animal Kingdom

Hailee Steinfeld ( and regardless of one’s opinion on the film itself this little girl gave one hell of a performance,) should have been nominated in the Best Actress category. As I’ve already stated, she has more screen time than Jeff Bridges, but obviously the Academy didn’t see it that way and her spot belonged to Julianne Moore for The Kid’s Are Alright. (JMHO, but) I am beyond thrilled Jacki Weaver was recognized by the Academy for a film ( Animal Kingdom) probably seen less than Winter’s Bone. (Maybe they did watch those screeners after all!) Helena Bonham Carter has long been a favorite of mine and I think she’s simply stunning in The King’s Speech, but I do still think that the category belongs to Melissa Leo, and so far only BAFTA disagrees.

ACTOR:
Javier Bardem – Biutiful
Jeff Bridges – True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network
Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
James Franco – 127 Hours

I’ve already talked about my perceptions of Jesse Eisenberg’s performance in The Social Network. JMHO, but if the Academy just couldn’t bring themselves to nominate Marky Mark (for a performance that was the flip side of Christian Bale’s) then what about Paul Giamatti? Kevin Spacey? Leonardo DiCaprio (for either Inception or Shutter Island, both of which were better, more powerful and more nuanced performances than Eisenberg’s.)  I suppose one could make the argument that it’s a moot point since this is Colin Firth’s year. While I wholeheartedly agree with the latter, the former precludes the notion that it’s the nomination that counts. Again, JMHO, but nominating Eisenberg is a product of the hive mind that anointed The Social Network as the film to beat at this year’s awards.

ACTRESS:
Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman – Black Swan
Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine

I’m happy that Michelle Williams was recognized for Blue Valentine. (I can even understand the omission of Ryan Gosling-her’s was the ‘showier’ role.) The rest of the list offers no real surprises, although it would have been nice if they hadn’t played it safe by giving Kidman the nod and instead made the bolder choice of Lesley Manville for Another Year,  but this night will belong to Natalie Portman.

PICTURE:
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone


A few words about the Producer’s Guild Award and its impact on the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture:
The Guild’s award is generally considered to be a pretty good indicator of strength in the Oscar race because so many of its members are also voting members of the Academy. Last year’s PGA winner, The Hurt Locker, went on to win the Oscar when until then Avatar had been considered a lock.

This year’s "Avatar" is The Social Network, which appeared to be on course for a Best Picture win, and generally considered to be the front-runner, after garnering more than 90 guild and critics association honors, including the Golden Globe.  The PGA win for The King’s Speech, however, has breathed new life into the race and solidified it as a real contender for the Oscar.

Also of note is the fact that the Academy membership skews a little older than the youth driven host picks and other nominated films would seem to indicate. It is in no way out of the realm of possibility that they would go for a ‘feel-good triumph over adversity’ with attractive leads and pretty costumes and sets, over the "Facebook movie."

For these reasons, and because it deserves it, I’m going with The King’s Speech for the win.
 

DIRECTOR:
Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan
David Fincher – The Social Network
Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech
Joel & Ethan Coen – True Grit
David O. Russell – The Fighter

I am as upset as the rest of the bloggisphere about the omission of Christopher Nolan (for Inception) from this list. I will, however, ask the question that I’ve been asking everyone else I’ve talked to about it: Who would you have dropped and why?  The five names on this list are all directors of films with a Best Picture nomination, which is exactly why this category needs to be expanded to ten names, to better correspond with the list of Best Picture nominees.  As I’ve said before, those ten films didn’t direct themselves. If they are worthy of recognition, shouldn’t  those at the helm of those films be worthy of recognition as well? There is also a school of thought that says Inception will spoil as Best Picture to right this wrong. It could happen. Actors vote for actors, directors vote for directors etc, but the entire voting body votes for Best Picture. We’ll see how mad those with a vote really are.

In any case, although it’s rare that a director win without his film winning Best Picture and vice versa, I think David Fincher will win for Best Director.  My heart is obviously with Tom Hooper and The King’s Speech.

**In light of  his DGA win, I’m amending this and unequivocally going with Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech.  edited 1/31/11

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 
Mike Leigh – Another Year
Scott Silver & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson – The Fighter
Christopher Nolan – Inception
Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg – The Kids Are All Right
David Seidler – The King’s Speech

I’m pleased to see Mike Leigh’s Another Year recognized for something and I predicted that it would be in this category. I don’t think anyone can beat Christopher Nolan. Inception was as high-concept as they come and that concept was conceived by Nolan and driven by his multi-layered mind bender of a script and he managed to wrap it around compelling, well fleshed-out characters and made it understandable to the masses with witty dialogue that managed to explain it all without dumbing it down.
 

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy – 127 Hours
Aaron Sorkin – The Social Network
Michael Arndt – Toy Story 3
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen – True Grit
Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini – Winter’s Bone

I’m disappointed for Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard. Having read "The Prince of Thieves," I can appreciate their adapted screenplay for The Town that much more.  I think Winter’s Bone got their spot, but there were more than ten movies made last year and a lot of them had great scripts. I can’t take too much issue with this list, and I still believe, for the same reasons I believe he won the Golden Globe, that Aaron Sorkin has this one.

ANIMATED FEATURE:
How to Train Your Dragon**
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

Again, I’m already on record with my feelings on this category.  While the fact that TS3 has been nominated in the Best Picture category as well as this one might give HTTYD a slight edge, I don’t, unfortunately, think it will be enough to overcome the category’s ‘300 LB Gorilla’. This is one occasion when I’m just happy that my favorite got an invitation to the big dance. (And unlike at the Golden Globes, I hope it has a big show of support walking the red carpet. He’ll probably be asked to present, but it is my hope that when a microphone is stuck in his face, Gerard Butler will be able to talk about his Academy Award nominated film and not just "who he’s wearing." Again, I repeat myself lol.)
 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:
Biutiful (Mexico)
Dogtooth (Greece)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Incendies (Canada)
Outside the Law (Algeria)

One of the toughest categories to call, especially after Denmark’s Golden Globe win. Politically speaking, I think Biutiful will win because Javier Bardem won’t. I’m probably wrong. Don’t worry, I’m used to it.

ART DIRECTION:
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Inception
The King’s Speech
True Grit

Tough category.  I’m gonna go with Alice in Wonderland. Harry Potter will probably get it next year for DH pt 2 since it will be the last of the series (much like LOTR:Return of the King cleaned up).

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Black Swan
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Another tough one. The list of nominees matches that of the American Society of Cinematographers. They offer no clues,however, since they don’t give out their awards until February 13. Roger Deakins, nominated for True Grit, and who consulted on the visuals for How to Train Your Dragon, will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Does that preclude him from winning an ASC award for True Grit?   I only mention it because a lot of the voting members of the cinematographers wing of the Academy are also ASC members, but Roger Deakins is a favorite. Wally Pfister has been nominated three other times for an Academy Award, all for films with Christopher Nolan in the director’s chair. I think I have to go with Inception, although I feel like I’m throwing darts.


DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Gasland
Inside Job
Restrepo
Waste Land

I live in Boston where documentaries often have long theatrical runs and it’s sometimes hard for me to remember that the rest of the country doesn’t have the same opportunities to see them. I’ve seen Restrepo (as well as Inside Job, which is still playing here) and in the absence of The Tillman Story, a big disappointment, JMHO, I have to go with that one. No one’s going to see The Company Men (although I did and I liked it, it’s just too soon) and no one’s going to vote for Inside Job.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT:
Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

ANIMATED SHORT:
Day & Night
The Gruffalo
Let’s Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, carnet de voyage

LIVE-ACTION SHORT:
The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143

All three of the shorts categories are impossible (for me) to call. I’ve never even heard of any of them. I hope to do something about that because they are being released to theaters. Hopefully you’ll have the opportunity to see all of the animated, live-action and documentary shorts when they come to your town in three programs with all of the films in their category for 90 minutes. Pretty good deal. I recommend it if you’re trying to win an office pool. Knowing or guessing the shorts is usually the difference between winning and losing. JMHO

VISUAL EFFECTS:
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Hereafter
Inception
Iron Man 2

For the most part, I am terrible when it comes to handicapping the technical awards. This category would seem to be a no-brainer for Inception, but the other four films wouldn’t be nominated if they weren’t equally as visually stunning. My mind keeps going back, however, to the image of Paris being folded like an Escher staircase and the fight in the collapsing hotel hallway. Inception it is.

COSTUME DESIGN:
Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King’s Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

Do we go with period realism like True Grit or The King’s Speech, or out and out fantasy like Alice in Wonderland or The Tempest? I’m going for The King’s Speech because I really went for Colin Firth in a kilt. (Hey, these are my picks!)

MAKEUP:
Barney’s Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman

I’d love for The Way Back to win just because I want Peter Weir’s beautiful, if bleak, film to be recognized in some way. I wish it had been for cinematography or with a nod to Ed Harris in the Best Supporting Actor category, but I’d take Make-up Design. It’s hard to beat a film where the make-up is almost another character, so I grudgingly have to go with The Wolfman.

FILM EDITING:
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network

SOUND MIXING:
Inception
The King’s Speech
Salt
The Social Network
True Grit

SOUND EDITING:
Inception
Toy Story 3
Tron Legacy
True Grit
Unstoppable

ORIGINAL SCORE:
John Powell – How to Train Your Dragon
Hans Zimmer – Inception
Alexandre Desplat – The King’s Speech
A.R. Rahman – 127 Hours
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – The Social Network

I can’t call this one for Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (actually, I refuse) just because they won the Golden Globe (for so many reasons, but mostly) because the Oscar nomination ballots were due back before the Globes were announced. So just like with the other categories, the winners of the Globes had no bearing on what was nominated by the Academy.  And there is just no way in hell I can pick another score on this list.  I loved Desplat’s score for The King’s Speech. The Academy is already on record for appreciating A. R. Rahman, he won for his score for Slumdog Millionaire and Hans Zimmer always delivers, BUT, I’ve said all along that Powell’s score for HTTYD is the best I’ve heard all year and I stand by that.  If the Academy recognized it as worthy of a nomination, I am putting my faith in the voters to give it the award. JMHO

ORIGINAL SONG:
"Coming Home" from Country Strong
"I See the Light" from Tangled
"If I Rise" from 127 Hours
"We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3

I have no horse in this race and I don’t know if I should be surprised that (the by all accounts dreadful) Burlesque was completely overlooked. Since Jonsi didn’t make the cut, I’m going with perennial favorite Randy Newman.

** If my personal pick differs from what I think will actually win, I’ve highlighted that in pink.

So, we’ll all get the chance to see how much of a crackpot I am on February 27th. Thanks for reading. 

Here’s your treat:

Okay so it’s really my treat. At least I share.

*tip o’ the pin to my tireless editor, Connie, for keeping me on the good sides of Strunk and White

Superfluous Golden Globes Prediction Post-Edited w/Results

Before it’s too late, I figured I should probably get my predictions in for tonight’s Golden Globes, although whether I get any of them right or not matters to no one else but me, I am sure. (But we all know how much I like to be right, so if I am, I want it on record. )

Okay, so on to the nominations and my picks. First, I have to say how excited I am that I have actually seen all five of the films nominated in the Drama category. It represents not only a return to form, but a personal triumph for me since I can’t tell  you the last time that happened.

The nominees for Best Motion Picture – Drama
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association are an odd bunch. There are only 82 members (plus 7 add’l Lifetime Members, which I can only assume is like "emeritus," but I don’t know whether that status includes voting rights, as well as 3 Affiliate Members. I have no idea what that means.) In any case that’s a pretty small group considering how much clout they wield. According to the mission statement on their website, aside from the big bash with the gold plated statuettes, their main raison d’etre is philanthropy. At a luncheon in July 2010, the HFPA "presented a record $1,541,000 in financial grants to 41 film schools and non-profit organizations."

So, with that as background and since this is the Golden Globes we’re discussing here, I suppose anything is possible in any of these categories, particularly BP-Drama. There are too many well-documented instances of the HFPA going off in a completely unexpected direction (more on that in the next category,) so I wouldn’t count any of them out. However, while all five of these films have enormous merit and I couldn’t be unhappy if any of them won, I believe it comes down to The Social Network and The King’s Speech. 

The Social Network
was anointed as the film to beat back in September, upon its release and it continues to clean up with various critics association awards and guild nominations. Its latest victory was the Critics Choice Award. I have seen it (finally) and while there is no question it is a finely crafted movie, borne along by talented wordsmith Aaron Sorkin’s  script, I stand by my initial impression. It belongs in a time capsule, but I’m not convinced it’s the "Best Picture" of the year.  What makes it truly special, and as always, this is JMHO, is that it is a behind the scenes look at the creation of the phenomenon which has come to define the age we live in. Otherwise it’s just the story of a hyper-intelligent computer geek with retarded social skills who wants desperately to be seen as "cool" and who manages to piss off and/or alienate everyone he comes into contact with. None of those things make it a classic or even a movie I want to watch more than once. That may change, but my point is I’ve already seen Inception, The King’s Speech and The Fighter twice and I know I want to see all of them again.

I have to go with The King’s Speech. First, because it is the Hollywood Foreign Press Association doing the voting and second because I still maintain it’s the best film of the year. JMHO

Got this one wrong, because I picked with my heart and not my head,  which doesn’t bode well for my favorite movie come Oscar night.

The Nominees for Best Motion Picture -Musical or Comedy
Alice in Wonderland
Burlesque
The Kids Are All Right
Red
The Tourist

This category is a classic example of HFPA lunacy. At first glance it would appear as if they threw the names of a bunch of movies that vaguely fit the category description into a hat after a kegger at  Phil Berk’s*  place. I wonder who got to draw them out? Johnny Depp or Cher? (The Tourist? Burlesque? Red?? Really???) But, upon closer inspection, and a little digging, it makes ( a little) more sense. The members of the HFPA delivered to their home countries essentially favorable reviews of all of these films. (The releasing studios of some of them are also said to have provided expensive perks to said members, a practice given tacit approval in the past by virtue of the fact that it was largely ignored. Partly because of the wacky choices in this category, however, this year there is controversy swirling around the selection process. There may be changes ahead. But I digress…)

MY pick is The Kids Are All Right. What I think the HFPA went for is Alice in Wonderland.

Okay so I hedged my bet here. See above lol.  I’m glad the one I wanted to win actually did.

 
The Nominees for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network
Colin Firth for The King’s Speech
James Franco for 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine
Mark Wahlberg for The Fighter

Back to The Social Network, I  have to say I don’t understand the kudos that Jesse Eisenberg has been garnering.  I didn’t find his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg to be that different from any other character that Jesse Eisenberg has ever played, he just did it with a straight face. A totally straight face. As in blank. His line delivery reminded me of Rain Man. I don’t think the real Mark Zuckerberg is autistic so why did Eisenberg play him that way? I’d always thought he was cast because he physically resembled the actual person.

I must confess that I am one of those that James Franco’s grandmother called a "pussy" because I didn’t see 127 Hours simply because I didn’t want to watch someone hack their own arm off. I understand there was more to the film and Franco’s performance than that and I’ll rent it some day I’m sure.

I’ve already discussed Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter. This very well may be the role of his career and he deserves the nomination. Ryan Gosling was phenomenal in Blue Valentine. This category is one reason I don’t understand how so many critics and bloggers can complain that 2010 was a crappy year for film.  I’m tired of reading it. If the choices are this tough then there were some truly amazing performances last year and we, as movie goers, win.

Having said that, I’m sticking with Colin Firth, again for reasons I’ve already given in another post. Even with bamboo being shoved under my fingernails, I’d still say his George VI was the best performance of the year. Flawless.

YAY!!!!

The Nominees for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Halle Berry for Frankie and Alice
Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman for Black Swan
Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine

Okay, I have not seen Frankie and Alice nor Rabbit Hole. I can only assume that the former played somewhere prior December 31 of last year in order for Halle Berry to have qualified for this award, but I haven’t heard a thing about it since the pics of her running down the street in a huge Afro wig hit the internet last spring.  The latter I have avoided. I’ll see it when it makes it to dvd. I’m sure Nicole Kidman acts her ass off. 
The remaining three performances are all fantastic and all emotionally raw, none more so than Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine. She is amazing. The scene in the hotel room alone would have earned her a nomination. I’ve said before about Winter’s Bone that without Jennifer Lawrence’s fierce and fearless portrayal of Ree Dolly, there is no movie. These two will definitely be battling it out for the Independent Spirit Award, where Natalie Portman is anything but a lock.

Speaking of Ms. Portman, I do believe, since at this dance she has no competition from Ms. Bening, that the award is hers. The Golden Globes are the first big mainstream awards ceremony of the year and while the announcement of her pregnancy came too late to help her here (the way it is believed it probably will with the Academy,) she has already won once before as a supporting actress(Closer in 2005.) More to the point, her beautiful, fragile, terrified and terrifying ballerina is an exquisite performance.

YAY!

The Nominees for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture -Musical or Comedy
Johnny Depp for The Tourist
Johnny Depp for Alice in Wonderland
Paul Giamatti for Barney’s Version
Jake Gyllenhaal for Love and Other Drugs
Kevin Spacey for Casino Jack

I really don’t feel strongly about any of these nominations. Don’t get me wrong, I looove Kevin Spacey but Casino Jack hasn’t made it to Beantown yet. Neither has Barney’s Version and I’m a huge Paul Giamatti fan. It’s either going to be Johnny Depp or Johnny Depp, so I’m going to flip a coin and say Johnny Depp.

I’m thrilled that I not only got it wrong but that Giamatti won! Huge, but pleasant surprise. Paul Giamatti beat Johnny Depp twice!

The Nominees for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture -Musical or Comedy
Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right
Anne Hathaway for Love and Other Drugs
Angelina Jolie for The Tourist
Julianne Moore for The Kids Are All Right
Emma Stone for Easy A

Unless something truly bizarre happens, Annette Bening should have this. She’s the tough but tender core of her movie and an industry favorite. I’m glad that there are two "Best Actresses" at the Golden Globes because in the almost certain event they are both nominated for an Oscar, Bening will have to go up against Portman, and frankly, I don’t like her chances.

YAY!

The Nominees for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Christian Bale for The Fighter
Michael Douglas for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Andrew Garfield for The Social Network
Jeremy Renner for The Town
Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech

I loved Christian Bale in The Fighter. I adored Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech. I’ve been in Jeremy Renner’s corner for a long time. Michael Douglas could take it because the tabloid press made it seem like he was at death’s door.  Andrew Garfield?  I’d like to say he should be happy to be here, but he has already walked away with some critics’ top honors and frankly, he did make me feel Eduardo Saverin’s pain, but if someone from The Social Network had to be nominated in this category, why no mention of Armie Hammer? He played two roles!

Bale took the Critics Choice award last night, but I’m going to go with Geoffrey Rush for basically the same reason I went with The King’s Speech.

This was basically a coin toss and I am in no way disapppointed that Christian Bale won (and now this is another category that is a virtual sure thing at the Oscars.)

The Nominees for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Amy Adams for The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech
Mila Kunis for Black Swan
Melissa Leo for The Fighter
Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom

Amy Adams played against type which is always good for a nomination. I’ve already sung her praises as well as those of Helena Bonham Carter. Mila Kunis was very good, but The Black Swan belonged to Natalie Portman. I am so happy that Jacki Weaver is even nominated that I won’t be at all disappointed if she doesn’t win. In fact, I don’t believe that she will. I believe the award will go to Melissa Leo, for the performance I compared to Weaver’s when I first discussed The Fighter.  Leo is another actor who’s long been deserving and whose time has come.

YAY!!!!!

Best Director – Motion Picture
Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan
David Fincher for The Social Network
Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech
Christopher Nolan for Inception
David O. Russell for The Fighter

Here’s what I don’t get: The HFPA has wisely chosen to make a distinction in the "Best Picture" category between Comedy (or Musical) and Drama, something a lot of people (myself included) wish that the AMPAS would adopt as well. How then do they lump the directors (and the writers) of these same films into just one category? This makes no sense to me. Now, having said that, apparently this year all of the nominated films in the Comedy category directed themselves. The five gentlemen honored with a nomination for Best Director (and yes, after a brief detour last year, we appear to have returned to the land of misogyny, sorry Lisa Cholodenko,) are all from the Drama category.

I don’t want to say David Fincher just because his movie’s cleaning up all over the place, but whichever film wins Best Picture-Drama, its director will win this category.
I think. In which case, since I’ve thrown my lot in with The King’s Speech, I’ll go with Tom Hooper. Although again, I have to say they are all deserving and I could not quibble about any of them walking away with the award.  Nolan may get it because they have to give the film something. I’m waffling I know. I may edit this post. LOL

Again, intellectually I knew that Fincher would most likely get it, I wanted Tom Hooper to get it (and his movie to take that prize,) but any one of them could have surprised and would have been deserving.

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
127 Hours: Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
Inception: Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right : Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko
The King’s Speech : David Seidler
The Social Network : Aaron Sorkin

I have a similar gripe about this category as I do about the Directors category. At least the Oscars divide it up into Original and Adapted.

I’d love to say I think The King’s Speech will win, or even Inception, but I have to go with The Social Network. Aaron Sorkin managed to write a film in which nearly everyone and everything, including an educational institution with a 250 year history, was completely unlikeable, but was still riveting. I couldn’t turn away. It was like a well crafted train wreck.

But I had to wonder about this: "You’re not an asshole Mark, you’re just trying so hard to be."  WTF? Was that an afterthought by the producers so that they wouldn’t get sued? My first thought was "No! He IS an asshole!" but then Rashida Jones’ next line sums it all up: "Every creation myth needs a devil."

Mark Zuckerberg as written by Aaron Sorkin made me feel sorry for the Winklevoss twins. I’ll bet no one EVER feels sorry for the real Winklevoss twins.

YAY! 

Best Original Score -Motion Picture
127 Hours (2010): A.R. Rahman
Alice in Wonderland (2010): Danny Elfman
Inception (2010): Hans Zimmer
The King’s Speech (2010): Alexandre Desplat
The Social Network (2010): Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

I’m so disappointed that the score for How to Train Your Dragon is not among the nominees here that I’m tempted to just skip the category. I think Danny Elfman got John Powell’s spot just because he’s Danny Elfman. I really didn’t find anything special or memorable about the score for Alice in Wonderland.  Of the scores on this list, the only one I can really say that about is The King’s Speech (which is my pick although I have the sneaking suspicion Hans Zimmer could steal for Inception.)

So not impressed here.

Best Original Song -Motion Picture
Burlesque (2010/I): Samuel Dixon, Christina Aguilera, Sia Furler (“Bound to You”)
Burlesque (2010/I): Diane Warren (“You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me”)
Country Strong (2010): Bob DiPiero, Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges (“Coming Home”)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010): Carrie Underwood, David Hodges, Hillary Lindsey (“There’s A Place For Us”)
Tangled (2010): Alan Menken, Glenn Slater (“I See the Light”)

Again, where is "Sticks and Bones" by Jonsi from HTTYD?? C’mon! People saw that movie! They heard that song! This is another category with questionable choices at best.  I’m going with the song from Tangled simply because the HFPA has shown Alan Mencken some love in the past and they would recognize his name. (Although whoever Hillary Lindsey is, she has a Johnny Depp of a chance to steal)

Should have known. Cher apparently really did a PR blitz on voters. I don’t care.

Best Animated Film
Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Tangled
Toy Story 3

I know what you’re thinking, "Gee, I wonder which one it will be??" she said facetiously. Okay my pick is OBVIOUSLY HTTYD, but unless the HFPA pulls a Marisa Tomei,  ("and the Golden Globe goes to The Illusionist") then the winner will be Toy Story 3.

YAY

It’s not sour grapes that I’m not happy  to be right here. No, I’m  more annoyed about Director Lee Unkrich’s pre-show remarks. He was apparently voicing his disappointment about the fact that his category was a foregone conclusion and how nice it would have been to have "some competition."  I really hope that story gets picked up and there is some TS3 back-lash come Oscar time.  (Okay so maybe THAT’S sour grapes.)

Best Foreign Language Film
Biutiful (Mexico/Spain)
The Concert (France)
The Edge (Russia)
I Am Love (Italy)
In a Better World (Denmark)

Now, this is really a tough category to call. For one thing, I  haven’t seen any of them. For another, I have to wonder how many HFPA members are from each of the submitting countries. I haven’t parsed it out, but if there are a predominant number of members from Spanish speaking countries are they more likely to vote for Biutiful? I’ve at least heard of that one and will see it eventually, although what I’ve  heard is that aside from Javier Bardem’s wonderful performance, the film is only  "meh."
 
The other film I’ve  heard of and have even seen a trailer for is I Am Love.  It looks gorgeous and interesting and I will probably see it. So on that completely subjective basis, I’ve already narrowed it down to two.  Using the names in a hat method of selection: Biutiful is my pick.

Well, I said I had no clue LOL but this was a surprise to most people I think.

Phew! Do I have the wherewithal to do this again in a month?

Now I hope no one seriously thought I was going to continue on to the television categories. If so, then I’m sorry to disappoint, however, I will say this:  I am seriously and strenuously rooting for Edgar Ramirez to win Best Actor in a miniseries for Carlos. I can’t make the case for this film too strongly. It is definitely worth the investment of your time. (FYI-The Sundance Channel is again running the whole thing on Thurs. 20 January 2011. This is what Tivo was invented for.) I’m also rooting for  him to show up on the red carpet, but that’s another story.

I would also be very happy if Idris Elba won for "Luther," a six part BBC series about a flawed, but gifted detective with a fucked up personal life and a temper. (For those who haven’t seen it, BBC America will probably rerun it again before the start of series #2)

Being a realist (most of the time,) I have already accepted that what I want counts for virtually nothing and Al Pacino will take this category anyway.

Okay, got this one right, but I’m not happy about it. Edgar Ramirez was robbed, especially given the very happy surprise of Carlos winning Best Miniseries.  See this movie people!

Final tally: 7 (and a half) right out of 15 picks on this page.   Batting .500 – I predict I’ll do better next month.

Hmm…whatever shall I do to console myself….

Oh I know!


*Don’t forget to click*

*Philip Berk-HFPA President

“Obligatory End of Year Movie List” Post

Well, I can’t bring myself to call it a "Top 10"… or a "Best of"… Just seems rather presumptuous on my part, to weed ten films out from the thousands that were released this year and call them the "top" or the "best." According to whom? Me? And why does it have to be 10? Because David Letterman made the "Top 10 List" a part of the cultural vernacular? Maybe I’ll do eleven. Or nine…just to be contrary.

I sound cranky already, don’t I? I don’t mean to. I love talking about movies. It’s the main reason I started this blog, so that I’d have someplace to do it without boring my friends to tears. It’s just that the idea of doing a list like this is intimidating, for many reasons, not the least of which is that everyone with a movie-related blog (and his brother,) has already done one, so it almost seems like not only an exercise in futility, but just a great big conceit.

Okay, okay, enough of the whining. I think I’ll consider this "my list of my favorite movies that I saw in 2010." So, without further ado…

In order of US release:

Shutter Island
How to Train Your Dragon
The Ghost Writer
The Square
Kick-Ass
Inception
Animal Kingdom
The American
The Town
The Fighter
True Grit
The King’s Speech

(Ha! That’s 12 and I didn’t even plan it.)

Of course I saw more than twelve movies this year, and I liked most of them for one reason or another. I’m no Armand White, but I generally try to find something likeable in anything I’ve bothered to devote two hours of my time to. I had no desire to see Eat Pray Love, but I saw it with my mother and Javier Bardem was, as usual, sex-on-a-stick, so I can’t hate it.
Morning Glory
is another one I wouldn’t have chosen, but that I saw with my mother (we got to spend more time together this year than usual) and, while it was fluff, it was smart and entertaining fluff and perfectly suited to its star, Rachel McAdams.
I enjoyed The Bounty Hunter and I won’t apologize for it. There are scenes in that movie that are well worth the price of admission AND dvd and I don’t care what anyone else says or thinks. Even Jonah Hex had Michael Fassbender using his own Killarney accent going for it. Granted, not nearly enough of him to save the thing, but mercifully the movie was short anyway.

Robin Hood
narrowly missed being included, but I had to stop somewhere. (See that’s why these things are so difficult. I have an irrational fear of offending "someone" by not including "them".) There’s too much there for me to like: the cast, the director, the genre, the production values, the costumes, the score… *sigh* The same could be said of Centurion. It was just plain visceral fun. (And again…Fassbender.)

Then there are films that I’m aware of and have seen, that are well-made and for one reason or another will be remembered during awards season and hence, be given some sort of significance in the annals of film history. (I feel like I’d be remiss in not mentioning them, but they can’t be considered "favorites" for reasons that will hopefully become clear.) Winter’s Bone, for example. Without the fierce and star-making performance of Jennifer Lawrence as Ree Dolly, this might as well have been a Barbara Kopple documentary*. It was bleak and gritty and real, and completely joyless. I feel no need to see it again.

The Kids Are Alright almost made the list as well. It’s a critical darling and may very well earn Annette Bening her first Oscar. (Julianne Moore also deserves a nomination. Any other year I’d say, so does Mark Ruffalo, but there are only five slots in the acting categories.) The film is well-written, well-acted and well-directed, but it’s also so perfectly "in the moment," so completely of the time in which it was produced, that I can see it being considered dated in a few years. It may belong in a time capsule, but it doesn’t belong on my dvd shelf for future viewings.

Toy Story 3 has, upon further reflection, lost some of its luster for me. I know that I enjoyed it immensely when I saw it, but not only do I not feel the need to see it again, I can’t remember what it "felt" like the first time. I seem to recall that the emotional heart of the story was a footnote to what became nothing more than an animated action adventure film. (I may be alone in my thinking on this one, wouldn’t be the first time.)

I would have liked to have included Carlos on this list, but because it was first shown in this country on The Sundance Channel it didn’t seem right. Edgar Ramirez’s performance in the title role is nothing short of mesmerizing and I will end up watching this one again and again. All five and a half hours of it.

There are also films that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to see, that probably would have made this list. I’m more enchanted with the idea of Blue Valentine every time I see the trailer. Hopefully, I will be able to see it prior to the Oscar nominations coming out because from what I’ve read (and the little I’ve seen) both Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams will be among them.

I feel like a fraud because I failed to see Scott Pilgrim vs The World. I even had a free pass to a sneak preview, but I didn’t go. The rest of the blogosphere may think it’s brilliant, (and it may be… Director Edgar Wright is full of potential. I loved Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz,) I just couldn’t do it. Michael Cera was easy to take in small doses on the small screen in "Arrested Development," but I can’t take him for 2 hours, 7 ft high and in Dolby surround sound. I also still have not seenThe Social Network. Again, a conscious decision, (I had a pass for this one, too) and one I would not regret were it not for the fact that it’s made so many lists of so many critics whose opinions I respect. It’s out on dvd in a couple of weeks. I’ll rectify the situation then. If I have to amend my list, I will. (One mustn’t be rigid in one’s thinking, but I’m betting this is another that will belong in a time capsule.)

Now, as I pointed out, the films that do appear on my list are in order of their US release and not in order of preference. I chose my list primarily by looking at my ticket stubs for the year and thinking about which of these that: A. I would want to watch more than once (if I haven’t already), B. which are worth owning on dvd for that purpose? (For the record I already own 8 of the 12 on the above list, 4 aren’t out yet.), and C. which ones have "stuck with me" the most? Which ones can I not stop thinking about? I don’t mean constantly, but even better — which ones have enough resonance that perhaps little snippets of dialogue or an image will come to me at random moments or have situations or characters that I recognize in daily life? etc. etc.

Most of these films aren’t perfect, in fact quite a few are deeply flawed. They might have made my list because they are excellent examples of my favorite genre, like The Square, or because of a performance by a favorite actor, like Kick-Ass.

Shutter Island is a film that, if it had been released in November 2009 as was originally scheduled, probably would have been on the awards/critics favorite lists for that year. I loved the book by Dennis Lehane and, while I’m aware that movie and film are two separate entities, I was eagerly awaiting the adaptation from the moment it was announced. Martin Scorsese again directing Leonardo DiCaprio? I’m there. I wasn’t disappointed either. In addition to DiCaprio, the whole thing was peppered with great performances from Mark Ruffalo, Max von Sydow, Emily Mortimer, Ben Kingsley, et al. Scorsese handled the twists and turns of the dark plot so deftly that, even though I KNEW the secret, I was so caught up that it came as a surprise to me as well as the rest of the audience. It’s also one of those films that reveals a little bit more each time one sees it and so definitely bears repeat viewings. I read somewhere a review that called this Scorsese’s homage to Hitchcock. Not a bad description, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with one master paying tribute to another.

My love for How to Train Your Dragon has been well-documented and I’m not sure I can add anything here that I haven’t already said. It’s a simple story beautifully told. Visually stunning, aurally stimulating, heart-warming and just plain fun. It’s the kind of movie about which one could have said, "they don’t make ’em like that anymore". Except they did.

The Ghost Writer is a well-written, well-acted little thriller that took me completely by surprise. It is essentially about a writer hired to "ghost" a politician’s memoirs, even as the politician seems to be torn as to whether he actually wants them told, and who uncovers layers and layers of secrets. It’s another film that begs for repeat viewings both to catch all the little clues you missed the last time and just because the performances are so good, particularly Pierce Brosnan and Ewan MacGregor.

Made in Australia for next to nothing, directed by Nash Edgerton and written by his brother Joel, who also plays Billy (Gawain in King Arthur, Hugo in Smokin’ Aces, etc.), The Square is a tough and brilliant bare bones neo-noir that reminded me a lot of The Coens’ Blood Simple. It wouldn’t surprise me if most of the people reading this have never heard of this movie. It’s a time honored tale of lovers who devise a plan in order to be together — a plan that sounds so simple until everything goes horribly wrong. Watching it unfold, you know nothing is going to go right for these people, but you can’t look away as each domino knocks down the next. I’d already seen it when I got the dvd for Christmas, and I’ve already watched it twice since then. This is one of those movies that some Hollywood mucky-muck with more money than sense is probably already plotting to remake with a bigger budget and a big name cast. See this one first.

Kick-Ass holds a special place for many reasons, not least of which is that it was just plain fun. Also, it featured a brilliant, comedically menacing (or menacingly comedic) performance by Mark Strong. His Frank D’Amico is kind of like Archy’s** angry American cousin (with better fashion sense.) My further thoughts on this film can be found here: weetiger3.livejournal.com/13926.html, in an earlier post.

I’m not sure anything I could say here could influence someone’s choice to see Inception, if they haven’t already done so. Brilliant is too pale of a word to describe it. It’s everything we go to the cinema to see a movie for. Big, stunning visuals. An original and, yes, complicated plot full of interesting, well-formed characters that we care about. Well-written dialogue spoken by talented actors and an ending that had people talking not only as they left the theater, but for weeks and months after.

Animal Kingdom is another Australian film that you may not have heard of (also with Joel Edgerton). I do intend to talk more fully about it when it’s released on dvd next month. It’s a family drama about some low-rent, but extremely dangerous villains. (I know I’ve hooked some of you already.) I mentioned it in passing when comparing Melissa Leo’s character in The Fighter with Jacki Weaver’s in this film. "Smurf" Cody, a combination of Lucretia Borgia and Ma Barker, has to be experienced to be believed. I can’t wait to see this again.

I only saw The American very recently. Two nights ago as a matter of fact. I felt compelled to put it on the list because I couldn’t stop thinking about it, even as I was watching it. I went out and picked up a copy the next day. I can very clearly envision myself popping this in to watch a Renault wind around the stark Abruzzi countryside and listen to Herbert Gronemeyer’s haunting score. (Not to mention watch "Mr. Butterfly" run around sans shirt.) Anton Corbijn, best known for directing music videos (U2, Metallica, Depeche Mode) and Control (a biopic of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis) has made a small 70’s era European art-house film starring one of the world’s biggest movie stars, George Clooney. Clooney is so good as a burned-out hit man that you forget that he is George Clooney. There are no smug smiles or even smugger line deliveries. In fact there are few lines at all, but he’s fascinating to watch. You can’t look away because from the opening sequence you don’t know what he’ll do.

It probably comes as no surprise that The Town has made my list of favorites. Parts of it were filmed at "the cathedral of Boston," Fenway Park, which is about two blocks from my apartment. Running late for work one morning, I took a cab and we drove right through where they were unloading the trucks to set up for the day’s shooting. It’s a small thing, but it makes me feel connected somehow. Charlestown, the neighborhood where most of the movie takes place, is where my stbex lived when we met. I love seeing Boston on screen. It may be a big metropolitan city to the rest of the world, but to those of us who live here it feels like a small town. And regardless of what anyone thinks of his accent in this film, Ben Affleck’s second foray into directing proved that Gone Baby Gone, another of my favorites (and another based on a Dennis Lehane novel), was no fluke.
I’ve always thought Affleck was a better actor than he was given credit for or that his list of credits could attest to. (For proof, I offer Hollywoodland. He’s fantastic as George Reeves. It’s too bad more people didn’t see it.) In any case, if he’s a good actor, he’s an even better director. I’ve read in several places recently the topic of who will succeed Clint Eastwood. Why there has to be a successor I don’t fully appreciate, but of all of the candidates mentioned I can foresee the mantle falling to Ben Affleck. He’s already taken the idea of actors securing control of their projects to a higher level than mere producing can obtain. He’s been writing good parts for himself since Good Will Hunting, which he co-wrote and famously won an Oscar for with Matt Damon, and he co-wrote The Town as well. He wrote Doug McCray with the intention of playing him, but was not always planning to direct. Apparently, Adrian Lyne was Warner Brothers 1st choice. Frankly, I can’t imagine why and am very happy Affleck stepped up. He directed Amy Ryan to an Oscar nomination his first time out of the gate and I predict he’s done it for Jeremy Renner this time. Renner is perfect as James "Gem" Coughlin. Watch his face right before he says "whose car we takin’?" as he works out what Doug has just asked of him. Everything you need to know about his character, his history with Doug, everything, is right there. (There’s a reason that’s the clip that he takes with him to the chat shows.)

The rest of the cast: Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper (in his one scene), are all brilliant. The only one I didn’t buy was Blake Lively. She tried. The problem was that I could see her trying. I never believed her. Oh well, maybe it’s just me.

It is mere coincidence that the last three films on the list also happen to be my three absolute favorites of the year, although not necessarily in the same order. JMHO, everything you’ve heard about these next movies is true. They are each completely deserving of every superlative that has been used to describe them and of the accolades that are being heaped upon them.

My feelings about The Fighter can be found here:  weetiger3.livejournal.com/21316.html I’ve seen it twice and not only did it hold up well on a second viewing, I came away with an even greater appreciation for Christian Bale’s performance. The only thing that really bugged me was the same thing that bugged me the first time around: The movie starts in 1993. No mention is made of how much time has passed, but it appears to have only been a year at most. We’re never told how long Dicky is in prison. If it is only a year, then there is a glaring anachronism in the climactic fight scene, and frankly, I couldn’t believe the filmmakers hadn’t noticed it. (I’m referring to the logo for a website that appears in the middle of the ring during the Ward v. Neary fight in London.) Well, after some research and if the actual timeline is correct, it turns out it wasn’t an anachronism at all. The Ward/Neary fight took place in 2000, seven years after the start of the film. In no way is this ever made clear. It’s a small thing, but it smacked me between the eyes and took me out of the moment both times I saw it. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t detract from the overall power of the film. I’ll continue to get chills whenever I hear Whitesnake’s "Here I Go Again" and I know I’ll want to watch the movie again when I do.

I enjoyed the Coen Brothers’ True Grit immensely, but it almost didn’t make my list. I’ve written about it recently and my thoughts, in case anyone who is interested missed them, can be found here: weetiger3.livejournal.com/22509.html It was a tough call because I wasn’t sure, if based on my criteria above, that I could call it a "favorite" yet. I was afraid that it was actually the pounding baseline of Johnny Cash’s "God’s Gonna Cut You Down" that plays under the trailer that had continued to move me. I added the film to the list and took it off several times before I decided to sleep on it. I finally realized that not only will I add this to my collection because it’s another fine example of a Coen Brothers spin on a classic genre (no, I do not follow them blindly — I did not like Burn After Reading and I do not own A Serious Man), but that I will want to watch it over and over again because I want to spend more time with those characters, especially Jeff Bridges’ Rooster and Hailee Steinfeld’s Mattie. I know there are still a lot of naysayers out there and I’ve said all I’m going to about why this movie deserves to exist along side the earlier version, but anyone who denies themselves the pleasure of watching this unknown, untested thirteen year old girl go up against an Oscar winning veteran like Bridges is missing out. Ms. Steinfeld may or may not go on to other great parts, but there’ll only ever be one first.

This brings me to the final film on the list, The King’s Speech. I’m such a complete anglophile that I’d been anxiously awaiting this one from the moment I first heard about it. I raced to the theater to see it as soon as it opened here and really, since my expectations were so high, the only real question was whether or not I’d be disappointed. I was not. I loved every minute of it.
Ostensibly, the film is a period drama about a member of the British Royal Family with a speech impediment, but there’s so much more to it than that. I don’t want to do a detailed synopsis, and I’m rarely interested in doing a conventional review. None of the reviews I’ve read do it justice anyway. The direction and the performances, all of which are spectacular, turn what could have been a dull and dry footnote to British history into a completely engrossing emotional experience.

Colin Firth is astounding. It’s as simple as that. Through the course of the film, one literally watches him transform himself from the shy Duke of York into King George VI, the man who symbolically held his country’s hand and led them through the dark days of World War II. What’s truly amazing is that Firth does it mainly through the way he carries himself and the way he composes his face and his jaw, all of which we see closeup. The camera stays tight on his face and sometimes just his mouth, nearly every time he opens it. I believe he’s a lock for an Oscar. He deserved it for A Single Man and he’s just that consistently good, no matter what piece of dreck*** he appears in, but I don’t think they’ll be able to overlook him this time. I could continue to gush, but what would be the point? This performance is indeed award worthy. For that matter, so is Geoffrey Rush’s. Their dynamic is wonderful. They’re so good together. Just like Wahlberg and Bale, I find it hard to differentiate between these two lead and supporting performances. I suppose it comes down to screen time and Firth is onscreen just slightly more than Rush.

There wasn’t a false note in any of the other performances either. Timothy Spall looks nothing like Churchill, but he evokes the man completely. Guy Pearce not only looked like Edward VIII, he sounded like him. It wasn’t just a matter of him adapting his Australian accent to a posh British one, but anyone who has ever heard snippets of the actual "The Woman I Love" speech would find Pearce uncanny. (Bit of trivia: Anthony Andrews who plays Prime Minister Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain’s predecessor, played Edward VIII in a tv miniseries called "The Woman He Loved" and when he appeared on screen my first thought was, I wonder if he gave Guy Pearce any pointers. Oh well, I had to digress at least once…"so they’d know it was me". )

Helena Bonham Carter has never been better. She seems to have taken to heart what Eleanor Roosevelt once said about the Queen Mother, Elizabeth: that she’s "perfect as a Queen, gracious, informed, saying the right thing & kind, but a little self-consciously regal."+

The relationship between George VI and his "commoner" wife is depicted as being very loving and affectionate and in sharp contrast to what "Bertie" grew up with. His mother, Queen Mary, was shown to be cold and emotionally distant and his father, George V, a tyrant to his children. I was struck by how loving and even demonstrative the current Queen Elizabeth’s early life was supposed to have been, considering how detached she’s supposed to have been with her own children. I think it had to do with the idea that she and her "family" were not being groomed for the throne at the time. A shift in tone is hinted at in one scene after George VI became king. Let’s face it, the British monarchy have always been fairly dysfunctional, but it did feel like a telling glimpse into their lives.

I enjoyed everything about this movie. The costumes, the hair and makeup, the set design and decoration are all stunning. Alexandre Desplat’s score is inspirational and moving and makes wonderful use of some well-known classical pieces. The climatic "speech", the famous one that first rallied the British people at the start of the war, was of course incredibly well done and very emotional (which is as it should be since it is the culminating point of the film), but it is because of the journey we’ve taken more than the words that are spoken that makes it so.

I saw this one a second time as well. Until I had, I was vacillating between this and The Fighter as to which one would be my absolute favorite of 2010. Both films certainly hold up under a repeat viewing (something I haven’t done at the theater for any film without Gerard Butler in it in a very long time), packing the same emotional wallop as they did the first time and both will find a place on my dvd shelves. The difference is that I would be hard pressed to find a single flaw in The King’s Speech.

It’s perfect. Just My Humble Opinion.

*for example Harlan County, USA. A doc focusing on a coal miner’s strike in Kentucky, but depicting the same kind of impoverished rural existence as that of Winter’s Bone.
**Mark Strong’s character in RocknRolla
***Take that, Rupert Everett
+ William Shawcross (2009), Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother: The Official Biography, Macmillan