Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Anne Hathaway really wants an Oscar

For some reason Anne Hathaway's public persona rubs a lot of people - including me - the wrong way. There's something disingenuous about her earnest theatre kid proclamations. Her speeches and interviews make me cringe. She is probably a really nice person.

I like a lot of her performances. She was charming in Prada, revelatory in Rachel Getting Married and the best thing in Les Miserables. Still every time I see her accept an award she just bugs me. Someone has poured these feelings into a genius video. Really well done and so so right. Watch and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Best of 2012 - Supporting Actor

Jason Clarke in Zero Dark Thirty
For being as matter of fact about his character as the movie is.
For  fastidiously driving the plot forward while giving us his character's struggle, ambition and determination,
For the most un-showy performance of the year.

Samuel L Jackson in Django Unchained
For boldly taking on the most un-PC movie character in recent movie history.
For a lively full throttle performance that kept viewers guessing.
For being best in show.

Jude Law in Anna Karenina
For giving us a haunting portrait of weary resignation and dogged duty that cannot abide.
For embracing Karenin's passionless ordinariness while making him sympathetic.

Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike
For being the warmest mot lived in performance in a movie full of them.
For finally melding his public persona into a memorable "star" performance.

Ezra Miller in Perks of Being a Wallflower
For taking on  the stock eccentric sidekick role and making it so much more
For an open honest portrait of first love with all its hope, confusion and despair.

In addition to these performances, I thought Tommy Lee Jones was terrific in Lincoln and Phillip Seymour Hoffman subtle and affecting in The Master.

What are your favorite supporting actors of the year? Did you enjoy any of these performances?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Best of 2012 - Supporting Actress

Conventional wisdom and major award bodies see this as Anne Hathaway's year. However while I think she's the best thing about that movie I still found another 5 performances that I liked more. Here are my top 5 in alphabetical order:

Emily Blunt in Looper
For grounding a most fanciful premise in a simple story about a mother's love for her child.
For showing that love to be scary, tender and fierce all at the same time.

Lizzy Caplan in Bachelorette
For being both new and familiar as the not-ready-to-grow up party girl.
For showing us the hurt and hidden vulnerability behind the smug and awful.
For portraying the hurt of first love so eloquently.

Jennifer Ehle in Zero Dark Thirty
For having lots of spark and personality behind the dogged devotion to her job.
For showing the excitement of the hunt when the prey is near.

Helen Hunt in The Sessions
For shedding all pretense along with her clothes. 
For showing us honesty that love can be conflicting and emotionally dangerous. 

Lorraine Toussaint in Middle of Nowhere
For the most realistic portrait of a mother's simultaneous disappointment and hope in her children.
 For showing years of weariness and knowing-it-all in a simple look.

Thoughts? What were some of your favorites? Did any of these ladies blow you away as they did me?

Thursday, January 17, 2013


For some reason I'm excited by the trailer for Mud, the new movie from Take Shelter's Jeff Nichols and starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon. Maybe its the buzz from last May's Cannes where the film was warmly received, maybe because it continues McConaughey's stellar year into 2013. Maybe I'm just hoping Witherspoon finally made another good movie.Can't really say why.

 Check it out below. Will you be in line April 26?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Amour is my # 1 movie of 2012. Over the next few days I will announce my superlatives for acting, writing and direction. Both Emmanuelle Riva and Jean Louis Trintignant will be included. In the meantime enjoy this lovely picture

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thoughts on the Oscar Nominations

Oldest and Youngest Best Actress Nominees in Oscar History

Hurray for the shorter voting period. It produced many surprises, worthy nominees and less reliance on precursors. I am happier than I usually am on nomination morning. While I was sad to see some of my favorites (Hawkes, Cotillard, Perks of Being a Wallflower) miss out, so many favorites made it.

I was very happy that AMPAS embraced Amour, Beasts of theSouthern Wild and particularly both Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhane Wallis. Look at them, this season still can become a real treat. Helen Hunt was nominated for a fantastic performance, so was Naomi Watts. And can I admit that I was very happy to see both Helen Mirren and Tom Hooper miss out? Mediocre work did not just coast through.

Not all was roses. Just look at the mostly aggravating Supporting Actor category. Waltz over Jackson from Django? Arkin for a fun but unremarkable performance? De Niro for shedding a measly tear after decades of coasting? Color me not impressed.

Let’s dig into the top 8 categories and see how I did with my predictions:

Best Picture
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Very happy that Amour made it here as the first foreign language film in this category since Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon a decade ago. This is a pretty good list, not a dud in here. Now if Amour can continue surprising and actually manage to win. I know, I know but one can dream.

My Predictions : I predicted 8 but got all 8 correct plus Amour which I had as an alternate so I think 9/9.

Best Director
Michael Haneke -  Amour
Ang Lee -  Life of Pi
Ben Zeitlin - Beasts of the Southern Wild
Steven Spielberg - Lincoln
David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook

The most surprising category with Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow missing out. I think there was an abdundance of deserving directors this year and not an intentional snub. Even the controversial Zero Dark Thirty got 5 nominations overall so I'm thinking Bigelow just missed out.

My Predictions : As with most everyone only got 3/5. But I'm happy to have predicted Russell despite DGA snub and to be surprised by Haneke and Zeitlin, directors of two movies that I loved.

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln
Hugh Jackman - Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
Denzel Washington - Flight

Very sad to see Hawkes miss out when he gave such a beautiful and funny performance. Phoenix's thespian Olympics, look at me acting won voters' hearts. I admire but do not love any of these performances. Where are the French guys; Jean Louis Trintingnant, Matthias Schoenaerts and Denis Levant? And is AMPAS really going to give DDL a 3rd Oscar so soon after making Meryl wait almost 30 years. I guess so but I don't like it.

My Predictions : 4/5 Phoenix replaced Hawkes.

Best Actress
Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"
Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour"
Quvenzhané Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Naomi Watts, "The Impossible"

I just love these 5 nominees. Yep Cotillard would’ve been great but she has one and her snub got us the delight that is Riva and Wallis together. And while the 8 noms that Silver Linings got implies that Lawrence is way ahead, I think we got ourselves a real competition here.

My Predictions : 4/5 So happy to be wrong about Riva.

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin - Argo
Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln
Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained

I already dissed this category. But happy to see Jones, he had the most personal and emotional arc in Lincoln. And Hoffman was unusually subtle and as good as ever. All 5 are previous winners so all bets are off.

My Predictions : 4/5 I had Di Caprio instead of Waltz.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams - The Master
Sally Field - Lincoln
Anne Hathaway- Les Misérables
Helen Hunt - The Sessions
Jacki Weaver- Silver Linings Playbook

When I saw Silver Linings Playbook, I left loving Weaver and wishing she had more to do. Apparently it didn’t matter and she is in. Hathaway is way ahead but 6 weeks is a long time and people might tire of her specially if her acceptance speeches are as grating and high faluting as her interviews so far.

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Argo - Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild - Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi - David Magee
Lincoln - Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook - David O. Russell

Very respectable list. I am in the minority that didn’t mind the framing subplot of Life of Pi that many blamed on Magee. Still I had hoped Perks of Being a Wallflower would’ve made it here.

My Predictions : 4/5, went with my heart for Perks.

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
Amour - Michael Haneke
Django Unchained - Quentin Tarantino
Flight - John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom - Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty - Mark Boal

Another good list. Wll Haneke surprise or will Tarantino or Boal win their 2nd Oscar in this category?

My Predictions : 4/5. It’s a pattern. Had The Master instead of Flight.

Finally I really liked the nominations presentation. I was not very happy that they chose Emma Stone and not a recent winner/nominee as per tradition but she was funny and complemented Seth McFarlane well. I also liked doing away with the alphabetical order, that kept it flowing and surprising. While the Hitler joke was a dud Seth was charmingly off kilter and awkward which could work to his advantage at the big show.Hopefully he tested the material he wanted to and now knows what worked and what didn’t.
Are you happy with the nominations? What was your favorite nomination? Let me know in the comments or on twitter @ME_Says.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Final Oscar Predictions

It's strange picture of our dear Oscar, no?

Here are my final predictions in the top seven categories. If it were up to me Amour would win at least 4 of them. However I'm predicting it to just miss nominations in several categories.

Best Picture
1. Argo
2. Zero Dark Thirty
3. Lincoln
4. Life of PI
5. Silver Linings Playbook
6. Les Miserables
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
8. Django Unchained

I am predicting 8 but if there were 10.
9. Amour.
10.Moonrise Kingdom.

Best Director
Tom Hooper has been blamed for all that is wrong with Les Mis. So despite the DGA nomination I'm thinking he will be snubbed. It's between Tarantino and Russell and despite Bafta nod to Tarantino I'm going with Russell. Just a hunch.

1. Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
2. Ben Affleck, Argo
3. Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
4. Ang Lee, Life of Pi
5. David O Russell, Silver Linings Playbook.

Alternate Michael Haneke, Amour.

Best Actress (previous predictions)
As much as it will hurt me if Riva is snubbed I think the lack of precursor love, Amour's late December opening and her being in France (while Wallis, Cotillard and Watts are campaigning hard) will hurt her, it will be the best surprise if I'm proven wrong.

1. Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
2. Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
3. Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
4. Naomi Watts, The Impossible
5. Quevanzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Alt. Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

Best Actor (previous predictions)
I'm going with the SAG five. There is always at least one category that perfectly matches SAG and I'm betting it is Best Actor this year.

1. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
2. Denzel Washington, Flight
3. John Hawkes, The Sessions
4. Bradley Cooper Silver Linings Playbook
5. Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables

Alternate Joaquin Pheonix, The Master

Best Supporting Actor (previous predictions)
The most aggravating category. I don't love any of the front runner performances except for Jones. It looks like he is a lock in addition to Hoffman, De Niro and Arkin. The fifth spot could go to a number of actors. Leo is getting the most buzz of the Django men so he's in.
1. Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
3. Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
4. Alan Arkin, Argo
5. Leonardo Di Caprio, Django Unchained.

Alternate Javier Bardem, Skyfall

Best Supporting Actress
Hathaway , Field and Hunt are locks. I'm betting award bodies love affair with Maggie Smith and AMPAS love of Adams continue this year.
1.Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
2. Sally Field, Lincoln
3. Helen Hunt, The Sessions
4. Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
5. Amy Adams, The Master.

Alternate Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Silver Linings Playbook

Alternate Life of Pi

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
The Master
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty
Django Unchained

Alternate Looper

Monday, January 7, 2013


The most beguiling devastating film of the year. In presenting an unsentimental but moving portrait of the inevitability of life's end, Michael Haneke gave us a most necessary experience. There are so many humanly recognizable moments that had jolts go through my heart and body. This is art in the best sense moving, recognizable and a reflection of life. A masterpiece.

This was the most fun time at the movies in 2012. Not just for the man eye candy, but for the charming Tatum Channing, the on point choreography, Matthew McConaughey revealing his body and soul and surprising acting chops of Olivia Munn. On the other hand the movie didn't shy away from presenting the ugly underbelly of a stripper's life. In a summer full of stock super heroes Magic Mike gave us fully realized characters, and what a gift that was.

Rust And Bone 
A brutal and uncompromising story that rises above the conventional trappings of "two lost souls finding each other'' up until the melodramatic happy ending. Nonetheless Cotillard and Schoenaerts set the screen ablaze with intensity and passion. Cotillard proving that La Vie En Rose was no fluke and Schoenaerts becoming a major star and an actor to watch and idolize.

Previously reviewed.

Absolutely the most gorgeous movie of the year. It's a feast for the eyes with sets and gowns that are vivid and sumptuous. The much talked about theatrical setup works giving the story artifice that resonates and makes it wholly original. Keira Knightley, in the title role, is always best when unlikeable but here shines also when awash with desire and longing. Karenin is surprisingly sympathetic in this version and  Jude Law imbues him  with calm dignity and weary duty alleviating the performance to best in show. 

Controversy aside Kathryn Bigelow has given us a taut thriller that is firmly of our time. In the story of Ussama Bin Laden's hunt we get the most brilliant behind the scenes expose since All the President's Men. The movie presents the story as is, with no judgement, no rah rah triumphs and no emotional manipulation. Just thrilling filmmaking.

A deeply moving simple story. While on the surface it's about a man's quest to lose his virginity, it is really about the need we all have to connect with other people. The movie becomes alive because of two marvellous performances. John Hawkes with wry wit and humor and Helen Hunt, smart, naked, honest give us the ultimate mating dance.

Was there a more original work than Beasts in 2012? I think not. Creating an other worldly world that is firmly rooted in both fact and fable simultaneously and characters like you've never seen before, Benh Zeitlin announced himself a major cinematic promise. He also discovered two promising acting talents in Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry.

Ah teenage years. The 90s. A pixie dream girl. A rebel. A awkward introvert who you know will turn into an accomplished artist. Sounds like a collection of movie cliches. However with Stephen Chbosky adapting his own novel and Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller's beautiful performances this was a lovely rumination of growing up and making life long friends.

What could have been another routine cop movie is instead a visceral portrait of male bonding. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are the couple of the year.

Other movies I enjoyed but didn't quite crack my top ten include The Impossible, Lincoln, Bachelorette, A Royal Affair, Pitch Perfect , On the Road, Life of Pi and Looper. It was a good year for movies. What movies did you like in 2012? Tell all in the comments.