Friday, November 5, 2010

Hello Clarice

The new Modern Classics column is up over at Film Misery. In it I discuss The Silence of the Lambs, one of favourite movies. It contains what I think is the strongest most heroic female screen character in Clarice Starling.

I also think Jodie Foster was right in turning down the sequel. Clarice was not as strong nor as fascinating and behaved rather out of character.

I build the case for both arguments. Check it out and let me know if you agree.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Love Letter to Kurt Hummel

Is there a more important character on network TV today than Kurt Hummel? I think not. In this time where many gay teenagers are finding themselves alone and confused, Glee offers this positive inspirational character.

Kurt is young, gay, out, proud, defiant, and above all completely and utterly himself. He might not always do the right thing, or feel comfortable in all situations. But he goes on living. Goes on trying things. Goes on being true to himself.

I wish there was a character like this in popular culture when I was growing up. We all know that being a teenager, and particularly a gay teenager, can be very lonely. I sought refuge in the writings of James Baldwin at that age. But I hope young gay men and women today can see themselves in Kurt. He's out there. On the most popular show on TV. He's is definitely and definitively part of the cultural conversation. Hopefully he's forcing teachers and parents and young adults to confront the sexuality question that looms large at that age.

But back to Kurt himself. I just love him. Love his relationships. Whether the tender and loving one that he has with his dad. The awkward and sometimes stalkerish crush he had on Finn. His rivalry with Rachel, his love and "us against the world" friendship with Mercedes. I love that he examines his surroundings and makes informed opinions about religion, high school and of course Lady Gaga.I love that he always tries new things and is never afraid. Whether demanding the right to sing "Defying Gravity", trying out for the football team and of course the right to dance to "Single Ladies' in a unitard.

And don't you just love his dad. He always stands up to him. Always with love and protection. He has no judgement, no disappointment. And above all he is wise and guides him. I teared up up in the scenes that accompanied 'I Want to Hold Your Hand" when they showed the tea party little Kurt had for this dad. How great is that? To encourage and love your kid that way at that age, forgetting how you thought they'd turn up, what you wanted them to become. Not a lot of parents are up to that challenge.

Chris Colfer is a most talented young man. I was so happy that he was nominated for an Emmy this year for season one. He gives Kurt such charm and appeal. And what a singer. What other 20 year old can give such pizazz to "Le Jazz Hot'' and such heartache to his version of 'I want to Hold Your Hand". And what an arc have the writers given him. Coming out, confronting his dad about his sexuality, having a crush on his straight friend, facing the uncertainty of a very sick parent. And all those songs, not just what I mentioned but he also covered John Mellancamp and did 'Rose's Turn" from Gypsy and Judy Garland's part in "Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy".

My favourite Glee cover is "I Want to Hold Your Hand". You can't tell, right? I only mentioned it here 4 times. Beautiful and full of emotion. It is on constant loop on my iPod.

Kurt, just as Rachel told you last week. "You might be lonely but you are not alone". I love you and I'm so happy that I get to spend time with you every week. Keep the faith, my friend.

Sorry for the Silence

The past couple of months have been very busy. At work, travelling out of New York City. But the main reason that I have not been able to update the blog is because I started contributing to Film Misery.

It's a great opportunity to be part of that site and to interact with its readers. You will find all my articles here. Please check them out and I'll be back here soon.

In fact the "Silence' in this title inspired me to write about a favorite movie of mine, The Silence of the Lambs. That will be my next article at Film Misey.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Best Actress is getting crowded

Black Swan premiered early today at the Venice Film Festival. Early reaction is very good. Almost unanimous praise. The more interesting question to me is whether Natalie Portman is now a front runner for Best Actress. The trippy trailer proved that this movie is a great showcase for her. Now the reviews are following, even the ones that had problems with the movie liked her performance. If she wins an award in Venice she could become unstoppable. After all Helen Mirren's march to Oscar 4 years ago started with a win in Venice.

Not so fast. This year's roster is already crowded. There's the new ingenue in Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone. The multiple nominated veterans from a bonafide art house hit in Julianne Moore and Annette Bening from The Kids Are Alright. Not mention movies being released later in the year for Oscar darlings like Anne Hathaway (Love and Other Drugs), Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go), indie stalwarts with confirmed festival buzz Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine) and Lesley Manville (Another Year).

I say Portman, a former nominee for Closer, is very close to locking up the nomination not the win. Not yet anyway. But a bit of advise for Bening, the front runner now in my opinion, go out and rock the vote, play the Jeff Bridges card from last year and you might just win. So far she's been laying low, which might be a good strategy but not for long.

Who do you think will win? Vote in the poll:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Makes A Modern Classic?

I have news. I will be contributing part time to one of my fave movie blogs - Film Misery. I am really excited about that.

I will contribute a feature called 'Modern Classics" that would look at recent classics. Check my intro of the feature and my 6 suggestions for my first columns and let me know what you think and would you'd like to read about first here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Are you going to movies this weekend?

I have been too occupied with good TV to bother with movies recently. Completely obsessed with Mad Men. We even dressed as the characters for a work event. Have been checking Dexter's season 4 on DVD. Not to mention the trashy Bachelor Pad, I mean who doesn't like to watch stupid people be stupid and mean to each other.

So I've negated movies for Hulu, instant Netflix and reality TV. I would like to change that. Tell me in the comments what I should see this weekend. Here are the choices :

1. Cyrus
2. The Other Guys
3. Salt
4. Agora
5. Get Low

Eat Pray Love is still not an option.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Black Swan? It's a trippy trip.

I am a couple of days late to the party. The trailer for Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan" was released late afternoon on Tuesday. Within minutes the Internet was abuzz and going gaga over it. Twitter, facebook, blogs ..... everyone was talking about it. And I became as excited as everyone is.

Why? Because it's a fantastic trailer and now I can't wait for the movie. It was not on my radar mainly because I never cared for Natalie Portman. He filmography is thin on good movies with exception of The Professional (Leon).But this trailer sold me big time.

Its mood, its music, that gorgeous cinematography, sells the movie. You get the feeling you'll be in for a trippy ride. And in those few minutes you can see that the movie will be a good showcase for multiple actresses. From the blink and you miss her Winona Ryder who's looking good in what I assume must be a tiny part. To Mila Kunis who looks to be in completely new territory. And Barbra Hershey is enjoying herself in what appears to be a juicy "crazy" mother role.

But of course the best showcase this trailer provides is for Portman. And boy does she look good going unhinged. This could be great because as my favourite blogger Nathaniel says " Women Who Lie To Themselves™ is the greatest of film genres". I am beside myself with excitement and I hope the movie lives up to the hype now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Short Virtual Affair with Sal Romano

Are you obsessed with Mad Men? I am. Season 4 is on and it's very good. I've also been revisiting Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD. This show is a gem. The best thing about it are these vividly drawn characters. Even the ones with limited screen time are very real and relatable.

Almost all characters have twitter accounts. I thought they must be managed by the show cause their tweets are very well written and completely in character. But I read online that they are not. Whoever is behind them did a fantastic job.

Being on twitter means of course that I can chat to them. I engaged Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway. But I was surprised when one of my favourite characters, Sal Romano, started responding back. It was innocuous enough at the beginning. Those who watch know that he is no longer on the show since he was fired by Don Draper last season. So I asked what he was doing these days.And before I knew it, back and forth we went and set up a fictitious date to meet on Christopher Street for a drink. It was the most fun I had on twitter. Sadly when I tried to secure a second date, he didn't bite. Gay men, always fickle even fictional online ones.

Check out our exchange in the picture or start your own by chatting to these characters. You can find them all here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Anything to Avoid that Megawatt Smile!

When Julia Roberts first appeared as a new ascending movie star, I liked her. Like the rest of the world did. I think I was OK with her through "Erin Brockovich", which is not only her greatest performance but also a fantastic showcase of her charisma. Since then though I've been just blah about her. The 'Ocean' movies did not help. And I have skipped her last two movies despite the somewhat positive buzz for "Duplicity".

I think I have "the underdog syndrome". Once stars become big, I avoid them. These days I can't stand watching any movie with Tom Hanks. And I loved Splash, way back in the day. Similarly I will be avoiding that huge smile this weekend. I am hoping I will not see coming at me from every channel on TV and every magazine cover on the racks. Hide!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

ME_Says Must List

Those who know me, know that I'm addicted to my iPhone. Almost always on it, checking facebook, checking-in using foursquare, updating my twitter feed through tweetdeck. But for these great apps that I use, there wasn't one I could write about in the blog. Until now. Entertainment Weekly just released a new app, based on their weekly column, Must List. All the pop culture that they are obsessed with weekly. Of course I got it immediately and added my own twist on their must list. Here is mine:

- The World Cup. It's been over for 2 weeks now, but it was so all consuming for a month that I think it still bears a mention. My pre tournament pick, Spain, won so I'm a very happy camper. Better is Kickette, a site that obsesses about sexy footballers. Thanks for keeping the world cup alive!

- The Kids Are All Right. Gets my vote for best movie of the year so far. I've said it all before.

- One Day by David Nicholls. What a great book. Compulsively readable.You just want to know what happens next for Dex and Em, who meet on their graduation day and we follow them for the next 20 years. The perfect summer book.

- Joan Rivers' A Piece of Work. Who knew the directors of the heavy drama documentaries "The Devil Came on Horseback" and 'The Trials of Darryl Hunt" had this funny movie in them? It follows Rivers for a year and it's a fascinating journey and a sobering look at the relentless drive and despair behind the glamour of show business. And it has my favourite line from a movie this year, uttered by Joan herself. "I live like Marie Antoinette.... if she were rich".

- The Bachelorette. Completely ridiculous. Absolutely unreal. But oh so dramatic and I'm hooked. I can't help but watch every week.

- The Daily Show. Smartest show on TV. Enough said.

- Somewhere trailer. Moody and surreal. It's like a dream that I'd like to be in. Certainly a better dream than the over hyped and so what Inception. And after "Marie Antoinette" and "Lost in Translation", I want to see what Sofia Coppola does next. I know it will look gorgeous. But beware great trailers sometimes lead to bad movies, last year "A Single Man" had the best trailer but we ended with a vile movie.

- Mad Men. Everyone knows it's the best show on TV now. The 3rd season was almost perfect. I might even get cable to watch it with the rest of the world instead of waiting for the DVDs on netflix.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Kids Are All right is right on!

Proceed with caution, this entry contains minor spoilers.

The Kids Are All Right is the kind of movie I like best. A contemporary American comedy that comments on the way we are living today. It tells the story of a couple (Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) whose teenage kids (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) decide to contact their sperm donor biological father (Mark Ruffalo). What follows is a charming, funny, thoughtful and touching comedy. And it's a perfect gem of a movie. Full of real characters and relateable situations.

The script by Lisa Cholodenko (who also directed) and Stuart Blumberg is so spot on. There are elements of the story that I was apprehensive of (one of the gay mom's affair with the straight donor dad), but they felt right and were real. The writing is so good that all five main performances are almost perfect. Ruffalo is charming and sexy and makes you realize why people would be attracted to his basically overgrown kid. Wasikowska and Hutcherson are very believable and offbeat in different ways. And it's almost always hard to play a 'real" teenager, but they pull it off.

Moore plays the flighty underachiever with warmth and wit. She has a fantastic comedy moment reacting to a surprise kiss. Fantastically funny. And she gets a big scene where she explains her character, and she nails it. While I love Julianne, Bening was amazing in this. The way she butched it up in her walk and her voice. Plus she gets the best lines and the best scenes. And it's all subtext, just how she reacts. Watch a lifetime of marriage reflected on her face when Moore is talking about her "career". And in another scene towards the end, she punches the audience in the stomach with the authenticity of her feelings of betrayal. I loved how it got all quiet and it was all about Benning's acting and her Not to mention her mini breakdown in the restaurant scene where she unravels and comes clean about being threatened. She may finally win that elusive Oscar.

Great great movie. The minute it ended, I wanted to see it again immediately. Best of 2010 so far.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Toy Story 3 is actually really good!!

I don't like animated movies. Don't know who Dorie nor Nemo are. Thought the Lion King was terrible, but the Incredibles were pretty fly.Last year I succumbed to peer pressure and ecstatic reviews and saw Up. Boring and predictable except for those wonderful 4 minutes that told a story of a lifetime of love and marriage with poetry and efficiency. I don't remember seeing the first two Toy Story movies but I must've seen at least one because the characters were familiar this time around.

Anyhow Toy Story 3 was enjoyable. It had a simple but funny and engaging story. Time flew by, I only looked at my phone a couple of times. And it had this one fantastic scene towards the end that tugs at the heartstrings. I found myself clutching my friend's arm with tears in my eyes. It was so moving and in a moment said a whole lot about life and one's mortality. Can't remember the last time a movie made me feel like this. Which could be a curious comment on my cynical heart. But I think it's because this movie is just good.

Full disclosure : It was not my first choice. I really wanted to see Cyrus, but it was sold out. And it was so hot that I was craving the A/C of the theatre. I would've seen anything.

Chris Colfer is an Emmy Nominee!

Are you a Gleek? I totally am. Love the show. It dominated with 19 nominations at this year's Emmys. But the one nomination that I absolutely love is Chris Colfer for playing Kurt. Very deserved. It is great to see on TV a young adult gay man portrayed with such subtlety and truth. His character arc was so moving dealing with coming out, his crush on a straight friend and his relationship with his dad. And Colfer was in turns heartbreaking, defiant, lost and triumphant in his characterization. Who else could bring such charm and laughs to a scene where he comes out to the whole world while singing Beyonce's "Single Ladies" in a football field in full gear!

Congrats Chris.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

2010 Movies

Is this the worst year for movies in a long time? Feels like it. It is very hard to find a movie to go these. And even upcoming movies are not exciting me, only a handful.

I did manage to see some movies in the last few months. Very few though and I only really really liked two:

A Prophet -a masterpiece. Believe the critics and the hype. Fascinating character study of what makes a criminal. Circumstance or upbringing or are they just born criminals? It could also be viewed as an allegory to corporate success and how one climbs the ranks or rather obliterates the competition. The ultimate killer instinct story.

Splice - the best horror movie I've seen in years. It was smart and edge of your seat thrilling. Plus it tried to explore a long-term romantic relationship. Not entirely successfully but I appreciate the effort. What made this movie different is the fascinating character at the center of it, called "Dren". Not fully human, but a DNA-mix. You watch as "she" grows up and goes through different stages : childhood, love and even sex.

Other movies I've seen :

Sex and the City 2 - This was very disappointing, particularly because I loved the series which was so smart and funny while addressing real relationship issues. This was just dumb and unnecessary. However most of the audience I was with loved it. What I didn't understand was why the reviews were so harsh? Why all the hate? It's not a good movie but not worse than 80% of what comes out every summer. Certainly not worse than The Proposal from last year which started Sandra Bullock fantastic year. Is it SJP? She is a polarising figure and seems to elicit very strong feelings, particularly from movie critics.

Please Give - I remember tearing up a couple of times watching this story about neurotic New Yorkers and their messy lives. However I don't remember why, and a few weeks later nothing has stayed with me from it. Apparently forgettable.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer Movies?

For me this summer looks like a big snooze. There are hardly any movies that I'm anticipating. SATC2 is totally unnecessary although I guess I'll see it. Cruise and Diaz in an action rom-com, snooze. Another movie from the pretentinous M Night Shyamalan, please what is this 1999?

However I admit to looking forward to these 3 movies:

Splice : a sci-fi horror mystery about a newly created species/monster. Could be the worst movie ever made. Or could be so so great. With art house darling Sarah Polley involved I'm betting on the latter.

Inception : Chris Nolan and Leo DiCaprio. Not to mention Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ken Watanabe and Marion Cotilliard. {Plus the premise sounds trippy. I'm there.

The Kids Are Alright : Benning and Moore. Plus Ruffalo. Looks delightful. And it a major movie from a queer filmmaker. And deafening buzz from Sundance. I'm so there.

So slim pickings for me this summer season.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Cate!

The luminous Cate Blanchett is 41 today. She bedazzeled at the Cannes Film Festival in a tribute gown to Alexander Mcqueen.

I love her so much, as Fergie says, like a kid loves their blanket. But do I love her enough to sit through Robin Hood this weekend? Crowe has become unwatchable and Scott has not made a good movie since Black Hawk Dawn.

Oh Cate why can't you make better choices. I know working with Scott and before that Steven Spielberg sounded like good ideas. But as a result you were in the lamest Indiana Jones movie and the reviews for Robin Hood so far have not really been that good.

Still love you, though.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Just because it's a joyful picture

Oscar Oscar - How was it?

Well first things first, my predictions. I got 19 out of 24 correct. Not bad, I won the pool at the my party.The short films totally tripped me. I was happy to be wrong about Adapted Screenplay and for Geoffrey Fletcher to be the first African American to win a writing Oscar. Hopefully in a few years race and gender won't matter but first they have to start winning. Which they did this year.

The show itself was not that entertaining. Neil Patrick Harris, who was fantastic at the Tonys and Emmys, was only so-so here. Martin and Baldwin brought a retro vibe back to the Oscars, particularly after Jackman last year totally pushed it forward. They had a couple funny jokes (...that damn Helen Mirren, and the snuggles) but mostly predictable and not funny enough. And the show felt like it went forever.

The emotional highlight for me was Oprah's intro of Gabourey Sidibe, calling her "a new American Cinderella" while Gabby was moved to tears. If only that was followed by her actually winning. Alas the Sandy train could not be stopped, but she gave the best speech of the night. Funny, emotional, humble...hit all the right notes. And while Mon'Nique was criticized for not being humble enough, I liked that she paid a tribute to Hattie McDaniel, both in her speech and her outfit. While I see why she mentioned the politics of campaigning, in winning she should've risen above that. But so happy to see her win, if one person deserved an Oscar this year, it was Mo'Nique.

The Hurt Locker won 6. I think the last time my favourite film of the year won was back in 1996 with The English Patient. Happy for Bigelow, Boal and all the other winners. As Nathaniel Rogers from Film Experience called it "The Sexy Locker", everyone's so damn hot! The best film of the year won. Still I was surprised by how poorly "Avatar" did. I guess you can't win without acting and writing nominations.
Just a quick note about the fashion. It was not that interesting. Most people (except Charlize Theron and SJP) looked good. Loved the outrageousness of the mullet dress that Zoe Salanda wore. Hot! Carey Mulligan wore another mullet and I applaud them both for not being boring. Of the men Jake Gyllenhaal looked the best. But the Sexy Locker guys were up there too.

Another year, another Oscar. When the next one? February 2011, here we come. Maybe the kids will be alright, then.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

3 Surprises I'd like to see tonight

It feels kinda odd to be behind the favorite at the Oscars. The last time was Brokeback's year and we know what heartache that brought. But it was hard to come up with 3 surprises I'd like to see tonight. Here's hoping Hurt Locker prevails.

- Gabourey Sidibe winning over Bullock and Streep. You know she'll give a giggly warm and funny speech. It will be a breath of fresh air. Plus she gave the best performance of the year.

- Jeremy Renner over Bridges. Again because he was so good. And because it will a moment full of joy.

- And if not Gabby, please give it to Meryl. Nothing against Sandra but Meryl has been fantastic for 35 years. And yes she has 2, but it's not enough. She deserves a 3rd.

That's it folks enjoy the show.

ME_Says Awards

A couple of weeks ago I announced my nominations for the best in 2009 movies. On the eve of the Oscars, it is time to announce the winners. No surprises if you've been following.

On another note, my picks are not that different from the Oscars. That's because there was consensus on the best this year, and the academy got it right.

Best Picture of the year:

1. The Hurt Locker.
2. (500) Days of Summer.
3. Precious.
4. Valentino: The Last Emperor.
5. An Education.
6. Up in the Air.
7. Inglorious Basterds.
8. District 9.
9. Avatar.
10. Every Little Step.

Best Director:
1. Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker.
2. Neil Bloomkamp - District 9.
3. James Cameron - Avatar.
4. Lee Daniels - Precious.
5.Quentin Tarantino - Inglorious Basterds.

Best Actor;
1. George Clooney - Up in the Air.
2. Sharlto Copley - District 9.
3. Matt Damon - The Informant
4. Joseph Gordon Levitt - (500) Days of Summer.
5. Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker.

Best Actress:
1. Zoey Deschanel - (500) Days of Summer.
2. Carey Mulligan - An Education.
3. Maya Rudolph - Away We Go.
4. Gabourey Sidibe - Precious.
5. Meryl Streep - Julie and Julia.

Best Supporting Actor:
1. Brian Gerety - The Hurt Locker.
2. Anthony Mackie - The Hurt Locker.
3. Peter Sarsgaard - An Education.
4. Stanley Tucci - Julie and Julia.
5. Christoph Waltz - Inglorious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress:
1. Vera Farmiga - Up in the Air
2. Melanie Laurent - Inglorious Basterds.
3. Mo'Nique - Precious.
4. Rosamund Pike - An Education.
5. Blanca Portillo - Broken Embraces.

Best Original Screenplay:
1.(500) Days of Summer. Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Webber
2.Inglorious Basters. Quentin Tarantino.
3.The Hurt Locker. Mark Boal.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
1.An Education - Nick Hornby.
2.Julie and Julia - Nora Ephron.
3.Precious - Geoffrey Fletcher.
4.Up in the Air - Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

5 Random Thoughts about Shutter Island

A Scorcese movie is always reason for very high expectations. However in the last decade he only really delivered with "The Departed". Both "The Aviator" and "Gangs of New York" had fantastic elements but did not get even close to his masterpieces of yesteryear. And this one did not either.

1. It is a very well done movie. Of course you'd expect that from a master like Scorecese. Editing, music, cinematography - all great.

2. Lots of very accomplished actors who are really fun to watch. Patricia Clarkson, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Emily Mortimer, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams. They were all good and compelling.

3. Leo is great. He and Scorcese must have a shorthand by now. He keeps getting better and better. This coming post his best performance in "Revolutionary Road" and in it he is again an older, wiser, haggard family man. So good.

4. I figured out the twist ending very early on. So I spent 2 hours bored waiting for it to end. The story is not that great. And the movie was so long. Note to all filmmakers two and half hours is a long time. Being long does not make a movie great.

5. Why was this movie made? It takes at least 2 years and millions of dollars to make a movie these days. Did Scorcese really have the passion for this story? It's just so blah.

6 out of 10. And I think I'm being generous.

Final Oscar Predictions

It's 3 days away. This has been the longest Oscar season ever. But there's light at the end of the tunnel. Here are my final predictions. I'm making them based on precursors and what I read online for the big categories, as for the rest just guess work.

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges

Best Actress: Sandra Bullock

Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz

Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique

Original Screenplay: The Hurt Locker
Adapted Screenplay: Up in the Air

Art Direction: Avatar

Cinematography: Avatar

Editing: The Hurt Locker

Sound Mixing: The Hurt Locker

Sound Editing: Avatar

Costumes: The Young Victoria

Makeup: Star Trek

Documentary Feature : The Cove

Foreign Language: El Secreto de Sus Ojos (Argentina)

Music (Original Score) : Up

Animated Feature: Up

Visual Effects: Avatar

Song: The Weary Kind

Live Action Short: The Door

Animated Short: A Matter of Loaf and Death

Documentary Short: China's Unnatural Disaster
So Hurt Locker will win 5 and Avatar 4. And there will be no surprises in the acting categories.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Academy Got It Right!

The Oscars are only 9 days away. It took a while for the nominations to sink in for me. Once I got over the crazy nomination for The Blind Side for best film, the terrible Best Supporting actor category and the snubs of Anthony Mackie, Peter Sarsgaard and (500) Days of Summer, I think the Academy should be proud. They did well this year. And here is why:

- All the love for "The Hurt Locker" is absolutely deserved. It is the best war movie, the best movie about the Iraq war and a contemporary thrilling ride that is fantastic to watch. Happy that Bigelow, Renner and Boal made it to the nominees list. Even it's score was a surprising nominee.

- Mo'Nique gave the best performance of the year. Period. So gut wrenching, emotional, and full of bravado. She completely dominated her movie. And Gabourey Sidibe as Precious was heart breaking yet so full of life. They were nominated. And so was the movie, Lee Daniels' direction and Geoffrey Fletcher's screenplay. Because such performances could only be great if they had a script to work with and a director with a wise eye to cast them and guide them through. So powerful were the performances they elevated the movie and made it one of the year's best.

- For a while there I thought Anna Kendrik's overrated performance was going to overshadow Vera Farmiga's far superior turn in "Up in the Air". But she was noticed and nominated. And finally the whole world can see her charms and hopefully make her the movie star she deserves to be.

- And Meryl. I can't say more. So full of joy as Julia Child. She does it again. Far better than anything I'd say check out how NYTimes explains the "Streepness" of it all.

- And their 10 best pictures nominees aren't too bad. Besides the movies I mentioned above they acknowledged District 9, An Education, Avatar and Inglorious Basterds. They liked, really liked the profane and hilarious script for "In the Loop", the sumptuous beautiful threads of "Bright Star" and the music of "Up".

Congrats AMPAS. This year you did not embarrass yourself.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Favorite Moment in 2009 Film

Here is my favourite moment in 2009 movies. And the line " There's enough bang in there to blow us all to Jesus. If I'm gonna die, I want to die comfortable", is my quote of the year. Click here to see it.

Other great quotes:

"Hi, I'm Joann, my favorite color is fluorescent beige".
"It's love, it's not Santa Claus".

Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Oscar Predictions

OK, this is a very exciting Oscar race. A few of the big categories are still with no clear front runner, Avatar vs Hurt Locker, Bigelow vs Cameron and Bullock vs Streep. Mo'Nique and Christoph Waltz look like sure fire winners, but at least one spot is up for grabs in each of their categories. Here's who I think will be nominated Tuesday morning in the 8 big categories:

Best Picture
Invictus should make it although it baffles me why. I'm thinking The Messenger and A Serious Man will just miss out and District 9 and Star Trek make it as they did at the PGA. The other 7 are shoo-ins.

An Education
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglorious Basterds
Star Trek
Up in the Air

Best Director:
Love this category. Love these movies. Love these 5. So different yet each one a game changer.

Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker
James Cameron - Avatar
Lee Daniels - Precious
Jason Reitman - Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino - Inglorious Basterds

Best Actress:
Easiest category to guess. The SAG 5 will repeat. Only spoiler could be Emily Blunt instead of Mirren.

Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side
Helen Mirren - The Last Station
Carey Mulligan - An Education
Gabourey Sidibe - Precious
Meryl Streep - Julie and Julia

Best Actor:
Another easy one, the SAG 5 should repeat here too. Although Viggo Mortensen or Ben Foster might surprise. Remember Tommy Lee Jones nom out of left field 2 years ago with no precursors? Even Sharlto Copley could get in. Freeman looking vulnerable but will slide in.

Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart
George Clooney - Up in the Air
Colin Firth - A Single Man
Morgan Freeman - Invictus
Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker

Best Supporting Actress:
Does it matter who the other four are? Mo'Nique is deservedly going to win this. The ladies of Nine will be completely shut out and I'm betting that those who voted Inglorious for best ensemble at the SAG awards are going to reward Laurent with a nom in place of Julianne Moore.

Vera Farmiga - Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick - Up in the Air
Melanie Laurent - Inglorious Basterds
Samantha Morton - The Messenger
Mo'Nique - Precious

Best Supporting Actor:
All those folks who have been discovering and falling in love with The Hurt Locker are going to vote for Mackie. Sorry Matt, you should've been nominated for The Informant! anyway.

Woody Harrelson - The Messenger
Anthony Mackie - The Hurt Locker
Christopher Plummer - The Last Station
Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz - Inglorious Basterds

Best Adapted Screenplay
Crazy Heart will prove more than just the Bridges show in this category. The other 4 will be best pic nominees.

An Education - Nick Hornby
Crazy Heart - Scott Cooper
Disctrict 9 - Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
Precious - Geoffrey Fletcher
Up in the Air - Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Best Original Screenplay
This is where those passionate lovers of (500) Days will reward it. The Hangover could surprise big time in this category but I'm betting no.

(500) Days of Summer - Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Webber
The Hurt Locker - Mark Boal
Inglorious Basterds - Quentin Tarantino
A Serious Man - Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Up - Pete Docter and Bob Peterson

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Oscar ballot......

.... or the ME_Says Awards. These are the movies and artists I responded to the most in 2009.

2009 was not a very good year for movies. There were a few movies that were entertaining but in general movies sucked this year. It was hard to come up with a top 10 list. So anyway here's my attempt at that. A la the Academy they are in order of preference.

Future Classics

I think 2 movies stood head and shoulders above the rest this year. These two will probably stand the test of time and remain beloved and admired for years to come.

1. The Hurt Locker. (review).
2. (500) Days of Summer. (review).

And the rest: you'll notice that I responded to a couple of documentaries this year. Both had a fascinating narrative. The rest are full of nuanced performances; in particular An Education, and Inglorious Basterds. I admit I was slow to get on the love wagon for Basterds, only a second viewing cemented it in my top 10. Avatar is here because it's unlike any other movie, a true experience. Precious is the one movie that stayed with me long after I saw it. The performances of Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique are still vivid in my memory.

3. Precious. (review).
4. Valentino: The Last Emperor.
5. An Education.
6. Up in the Air. (review).
7. Inglorious Basterds.
8. District 9.
9. Avatar.
10. Every Little Step. (review).

The rest are in alphabetical order. I will announce the "winners" before the Oscars.

Best Director: Very close to the Oscar list. I think they mostly got it right. Bloomkamp is in instead of Reitman for me.
1. Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker.
2. Neil Bloomkamp - District 9.
3. James Cameron - Avatar.
4. Lee Daniels - Precious.
5.Quentin Tarantino - Inglorious Basterds.

Best Actor; I think Damon was nominated for the wrong performance. Go see The Infor
mant! today. It doesn't always work but he's pretty great in it.
1. George Clooney - Up in the Air.
2. Sharlto Copley - District 9.
3. Matt Damon - The Informant
4. Joseph Gordon Levitt - (500) Days of Summer.
5. Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker.

Best Actress: Who would've thought SNL alum Rudoloph had this in her? Fantastic. And Deschanel turned a cipher into a flesh and blood character.
1. Zoey Deschanel - (500) Days of Summer.
2. Carey Mulligan - An Education.
3. Maya Rudolph - Away We Go.
4. Gabourey Sidibe - Precious.
5. Meryl Streep - Julie and Julia.

Best Supporting Actor: The Hurt guys are so good, all of them. Sarsgaard made what could have easily become a creep into someone relatable. And Tucci so nominated for the wrong performance, Mr Charming to Ms Joy.
1. Brian Gerety - The Hurt Locker.
2. Anthony Mackie - The Hurt Locker.
3. Peter Sarsgaard - An Education.
4. Stanley Tucci - Julie and Julia.
5. Christoph Waltz - Inglorious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique is the performance of the year. So powerful, so emotional, so moving. Pike is fantastic at playing dumb and makes her character so indelible and memorable. Almodovar stalwart Portillo was the best thing about his latest. Farmiga and Laurent were the heart of their movies, what I responded to the most.
1. Vera Farmiga - Up in the Air
2. Melanie Laurent - Inglorious Basterds.
3. Mo'Nique - Precious.
4. Rosamund Pike - An Education.
5. Blanca Portillo - Broken Embraces.

Best Original Screenplay:Only 3 in this category. Told you it wasn't a good year.
1.(500) days of Summer. Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Webber
2.Inglorious Basters. Quentin Tarantino.
3.The Hurt Locker. Mark Boal.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Could barely come up with four here.
1.An Education - Nick Hornby.
2.Julie and Julia - Nora Ephron.
3.Precious - Geoffrey Fletcher.
4.Up in the Air - Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sandra Bullock : Oscar Winner?????

WTF. I guess we'll all have to get used to that now. She may actually win the Oscar. Just won another precursor, the SAG. And worse I might have to see The Blind side now.

I have nothing else to say.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Brief Holiday Movie Review

During the break I spent time with friends and explored the city a little. But I also saw a bunch of movies. This was a rather disappointing Christmas movie season. Almost nothing popped out. There were a couple of very good movies, but that's it.

Avatar - the winner of this season according to the whole world who went out in droves to see, talk about it, blog about it, argue about it and then see it again. To quote a friend it was "spectacular". Uninspired narrative though. Like everybody said the it was a weak story and screenplay, a mash-up of "Pocahontas" and "Dances with Wolves". But doesn't matter, it was the cinematic experience of the year. I bow to Cameron and the world he created.

It's Complicated. Lots of fun, exactly what I expected to see, no surprises but immensely enjoyable. What a joy watching Meryl is.

Sherlock Holmes
. Why was this movie so long? It's a popcorn movie, so why does it take two and half hours? Robert Downey Jr was charming and his banter with Jude Law was coy and cute. However the plot was convoluted and made no sense. My head hurt from following all the twists and turns.

Crazy Heart
. Predictable, predictable, predictable. "The Wrestler" as a country western song. But it also a lot better than I expected. Both Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal were fantastic. And the story and how it was told was moving and poignant in so many ways.

The Messenger
. Very good, full of emotional scenes. While there were so many great scenes and an a very contemporary story that is truly moving, something was missing. It didn't completely grip me. Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster & particularly Samantha Morton though, are in fine form.

Fantastic Mr Fox. Meh, oh well. Why was this movie made? It had fun scenes but was not very interesting. Maybe I just don't like animation.

Another disappointment in a year full of them. It just didn't work. It had no plot and made no sense. Daniel Day Lewis was completely miscast. He was humourless, I kept wondering why all these women were in love with him. We needed someone charming, maybe Clooney or Hugh Jackman. Nicole Kidman's role oh so brief and Kate Hudson was terrible and as my friend said "extraneous". Even Judi Dench could not pull off her big number. And while Marion Cotillard and Penelope Cruz were very good, they couldn't save this stinker.

The Lovely Bones.
Terrible. I was bored. Even Stanley Tucci, who is getting a lot of accolades, was way over the top. Skip this one.

Broken Embraces
. Quintessential Almodovar. Lesser Almodovar. Very recognizable story, style and images. Could not be mistaken for any other auteur. I enjoyed it a lot. Penelope Cruz was very good but I loved Blanca Portillo, wow what a performance. If you love Almodovar, see it immediately.