Friday, September 28, 2012

September is over!

Yes, September is through and it has been yet another wonderful month over here at A Fistful of Films.  These past two months have been a real blessing, and I can only hope that it will continue.  This month saw some Oscar Prediction updates (it feels like I need to make more) and the posting of the 2008 Fistis.  The next two months are going to be somewhat short for me, sadly.  I’m taking a much needed vacation and will be gone right as the awards season truly kicks off.  This is bittersweet for me (I need this vacation and yet three weeks is a long time to stay away in the heat of Oscarwatching).  Still, I hope to come home to new followers and a lot of blogging to be done!
I’ll leave the month with a few thoughts on the race. 
First, here is yet another ‘insider’s look’at Les Miserables.  Seriously, this is going to be an Oscar powerhouse.  I just want to be clear that I called the Hugh Jackman Oscar win first (and have been calling for months now, whether outright or in the vein of ‘one of two’).  This guy is taking it home in a BIG way, and these promos are pimping the hell out of his performance.  He’s going to become a total force in the next few months; just you wait and see.
Next, I heard something interesting today.  There is going to be a test screening for Alfonso Cuarón's ‘Gravity’ on Tuesday.  I don’t have a link because the source was a friend at Awards Daily Forums who is going.  I’m wondering what this is going to mean for the film and possibly the race this year.  When it was announced that the film was being pushed back until 2013, I heard rumblings that maybe this was a way to deter the film from becoming too hyped and that maybe they were going to work out the kinks and fix up the CGI and then blow us all away in December, completely taking the Oscarwatching public by surprise.  I entertained that notion because it seemed odd to push it off back in May (or whenever it was that it was officially delayed) especially when the film was finished and just basically needed to be ‘prettied up’.  I get this feeling that ‘Gravity’ may get a limited Oscar eligible run in December.  I think we should be keeping our eyes open for this one.
Did someone say Oscars?
This would especially be benificial to Sandra Bullock.  The Lead Actress race this year is pretty open.  Jennifer Lawrence is the only lock in the category, and while I don't think Sandra would beat her (she doesn't seem like a TWO Oscar kind of girl) she could easily pick up a nomination in a category that is as wide open as this one.  Early reception of the film back mid-year was really possitive, with ink dedicated towards Bullock's performance.  The questionmark hovering over that fifth spot (Mirren/Streep/Smith/Dench?) could be wrapped up in four words (OSCAR WINNER SANDRA BULLOCK) if this movie gets a December release date.
Also, ‘Life of Pi’ is getting quite the reaction.  Those tweets and reviews (catch them here) are rolling in and it is becoming a solidified contender.  I had a feeling (as you can see from my predictions bar to the right) that this was going to make it into quite a few categories, including Best Picture, and I had it pegged as one of the technical winners.  This reaction is only further proof that this is going to hit well with Oscar.  My only wonder at the moment is whether or not this will be a technical giant that sneaks in with Best Picture or if this will be another Hugo, storming the gates and coming scarily close to taking top prizes.
And…that is all for now.  The month is through and I am ecstatic to get October underway!  I’ll talk to you on Monday!

Small Roles...Big Performances

Yes Ruth, I stole your banner ;-)

Ruth over at FlixChatter has petitioned all who can to participate in an interesting little blog-a-thon intended on bringing some fresh faces to the forefront.  I don’t say this to mean ‘newbies’ but more or less, spark some interest on actors who have delivered standout work and yet don’t have the recognition that others in the industry have.  She called this ‘Small Roles…Big Performances’ and I must say, I’m so happy I stumbled across this today so that I could participate (since today is the deadline!).

I spent all morning debating this one, but at the end of it all, the decision was quite clear.

For me, there are few opening scenes that pack the punch that ‘Inglourious Basterds’ does.  In fact, I can really only think of ‘The Social Network’, and I debated highlighting Rooney Mara’s supporting role in that film as well.  Still, the impact brought on by Denis Menochet’s eyes in this solitary scene is remarkable and incredibly difficult to shake.  It is for that reason that I chose his performance for this blog-a-thon.  I love the idea of highlighting obscure actors who steal our attention in a big way.  Menochet is just one player in a vast ensemble that features an Oscar winning turn by Christoph Waltz, not to mention a body of charismatic players like Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Diane Kruger.  And yet, I continually go back to this one scene and Menochet’s piercing stare.

I wish I could have found the entire scene, because the impact is only heightened when you see it in full, but this particular ‘climax’ really sums up the phrase ‘less is more’ to devastating effect.  Watch his eyes.  They are shaking.  You can feel the tremendous guilt flooding his body, seeping out of his pores in tiny fragments as he takes in all that he is condemning this family to.  He knows that he is murdering them, and yet…what can he do?  What is so moving about this performance is the ability in Menochet to give this man an entire history, an entire backstory with less than ten minutes of screen time.  We feel the full weight of the complexities within his decision.  We understand his hurt, his devastation.  We see his options, as bleak as they are, and know that he has no option that will leave him a whole man.  He will be crushed for the remainder of his days because of this decision and yet, had he made another it would have crushed him equally.

With barely a word, Denis Menochet stole the entire film for me and single handedly created the most ‘real’ and ‘honest’ portrait in a film filled to the brim with characters of all sorts.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fisti Awards Update...

Just a heads up that the visual categories for the 2008 Fistis have been posted.  The aural categories should be up by Friday and then we're on to 1991 and 2009.  I'm having a little bit of a delema at the moment with 2011, which I want to finish but am desperate to see a particular film first.  The problem is, the film hasn't been released yet and there is no date listed on Netflix.  The film is Pina, one that has been on my MOST ANTICIPATED list since I first heard of it back in early 2011.  I missed it when it hit the arthouse theater near me, but I stupidly assumed it would make it to DVD.  Now here it is nearly 2013 and it hasn't been released yet.  It has been released on DVD overseas, and they have it avaliable on Amazon for purchase, but some reviews note that the regions are different and that it won't play on all DVD players.  WHAT TO DO?!?!?!  Part of me is wanting to take the chance and just buy the damn thing.  If anyone knows where I can find this, even if it's a download, please let me know.  I must see this ASAP!!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I've got goosebumps!!!!

Here it is folks, a new pic off the set of Noah.  This was tweeted by cinematographer Matthew Libatique, who is working on Aronofsky's 2014 Biblical epic.


King of the hill...

Whenever someone asks me what my favorite animated film is, I often respond with ‘The Lion King’.  It’s far easier than saying ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ and having them ask me about it and then having them call me to tell me they hate me for recommending it, and it is far less embarrassing than saying ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and having them give me this weird look while they inform me that it is a ‘little girl’s movie’.  I’m not ashamed to say that ‘The Lion King’ probably ranks in at #3 for me and so it is easy for me to use it in that instance.

It really is a worthy contender for the throne, and few other animated films have had such a giant impact on the world in general.  I mean, everyone has seen this film and very few contest to its greatness.  Sure, it has its detractors and there has been backlash over the years (probably due to the fact that very few other animated films have attempted to milk their success and adoration as much as this one has) but at the end of the day, ‘The Lion King’ is still ahead of the pack; so-to-speak.

When looking back on this film I’m actually pretty shocked that it didn’t follow in the footsteps of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and rack up a deserved Best Picture nomination.  In fact, it towers over many films in that field and is a far better film than the Oscar winner that year.  How a film like ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ got a Best Picture nomination over the likes of ‘The Lion King’ is bizarre to me.  The film was a massive success and even went on to win two of the four Oscars it was nominated for.  I’m pretty sure it was close to a nomination, and we all know that it would have been a shoe in with the current rules regarding Best Picture nominees.
The reason ‘The Lion King’ is so beloved and the reason it stands the test of time (it is nearly twenty years old) is that it takes those clichéd or regurgitated themes and gives them a new life.  What is also commendable is that it understands how to make something organic and human out of something completely the opposite.  We’re talking about a film about talking animals in the African desert and yet these characters are so human and so relatable.  The rich animation captures the emotional complexities of the story itself, and the fearless way in which themes such as murder, guilt and redemption are tackled was shocking (I remember the newspaper articles attacking the film for being too violent).  At the heart of this film is a story of family and the strength and triumph of spirit.  It is uplifting and soulful and filled to the brim with moments to remember and keep with us.  When one reflects on the relationship that is created between Mufasa and his young son Simba, we become entangled in this beautiful web of emotions.  This is the story of a boy who needed his father, but who ultimately found his father within himself and thus survived a tumultuous childhood to become a hero.

So, when someone asks me what my favorite animated film is, I lie, but only a smidgen.

Silly, silly boys...

Last year, Iran presented the world with A Separation, a global sensation that took critics by storm, landing on nearly all Top Ten lists and winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, not to mention snagging a nomination for Best Original Screenplay.  It is highly regarded by many to be a masterpiece of modern cinema.  I'm just really happy that film was released last year and not this year. 

Why, you may ask?  Well, Iran has made a bold move in the name of personal integrity.  They have decided to boycott the Oscars in the wake of personal embarassment an shame over the release of a little film called Innocence of Muslims.  Yes, this film depicts their beloved Muhammad as a false prophet and sexual deviant.  They have taken this jab seriously and have decided that they are going to withhold their Oscar submission, A Cube of Sugar, this year instead of going through with submitting it into the Oscar Foreign Film race. 

I understand integrity and honor and all that mumbo-jumbo, but seriously; this is just stupid.  I'm scratching my head trying to understand how on Earth this little film they deem offensive has anything to do with AMPAS.  AMPAS wasn't involved in the making of the this film.  According to the Wikipedia page, this film was only shown once to like eight people or something.  Apparently a slew of videos were posted on YouTube with regard to the film, but outside of that, it's not like this is widely circulated.  I never even heard of it until today, and I doubt many are taking this seriously. 

If you read the article on The Wrap you'll see that the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is furious.  He is quoted as saying: "Offending the Holy Prophet is quite ugly.  This has very little or nothing to do with freedom and freedom of speech.  This is the weakness of and the abuse of freedom, and in many places it is a crime.  It shouldn't take place, and I do hope the day will come in which politicians will not seek to offend those whom others hold holy."

I'm not saying that I disagree with his particular sentements entirely.  I have come to view film as pure expression of one's self and really think that it should be viewed by all as such.  Film isn't always pretty, just like life isn't always pretty, and no one can expect to react to film in the same manner.  With that in mind, I remember the feelings I had while watching Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ and thinking it was tacky, exploitive, sacrilegious and insulting.  BUT, I wouldn't go so far as to deem it as forbidden or criminal in nature.  It is an artistic approach to a controversal subject. 

Those things happen all the time.

Anyways, if you're interested, here is the video (from YouTube).

I personally haven't watched this and am not even sure that I want to.  Maybe I will thanks to it being brought to my attention and the obvious curiosity that springs to mind thanks to Iran's bizarre decision to boycott Oscar because of this. 

What do you think?  Is Iran overreacting?  Have you seen this?  Should I bother watching it?

What a disaster...

Ok, so the other night I reluctantly finished 2012, one of the worst disaster films ever released in my opinion, and it got me thinking.  When we think of disaster films, what names come to mind?  For me, there are three and yet when looking at their filmography I question why the third popped up at all.  I instantly think of Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich and Joel Schumacher.  In looking over Schumacher’s filmography though, I see more disasters than actual disaster films.  In fact, I don’t see any disaster films, so the fact that his name is often linked or associated or mentioned alongside the other two is telling to his talent.
Yeah, he’s certainly tried more than the other two, but then again maybe that only accentuates his failures.
So, I don’t know why but I thought about criticizing their careers for a minute.  These guys make a lot of money for Hollywood, and their names pop up quite often on trashy posters all over the place sucking in the masses like plague to an Indian Village (yes, my wife watches too much Dr. Quinn).  Still, what do their filmographies say about their careers?  Now, thankfully, I haven’t seen everything these guys have produced, but I have sadly seen quite a bit.  In fact, combined I’ve seen 26 of their films.  I’m not even sure how to begin dissecting these directors, or quite frankly if I even want to, and then I thought…why not make this all about Oscars and awards and personal awards and…

This should be fun; right?
We’ll start with Oscar notices.  How many times have these three ‘directors’ found Oscar attention?
Michael Bay’s The Rock started off his Oscar traction by netting a nomination in Sound back in 1996.  Armageddon followed in 1998 with four nominations; Effects, Sound Effects Editing, Original Song and Sound.  Pearl Harbor also got four nominations (Sound, Effects, Sound Editing and Original Song) and actually won the Sound Editing Oscar.  Then you have the Transformers Trilogy, which garnered seven nominations in total, with no wins (although the Visual Effects loss in 07 was quite shocking). 
So, that’s six films, sixteen nominations and one win.
Emmerich directed Independence Day to two Oscar nominations (for Sound and Special Effects) and it actually won the Effects Oscar.  That was in 1996.  His next brush with Oscar was in 2000 when he directed The Patriot and nabbed three nominations for his film; Sound, Score and Cinematography.  Lastly, his latest effort, Anonymous, raked in a Costume Design nomination at last year’s ceremony. 
So, that’s three films, six Oscar nominations and one win. 
Schumacher started his Oscar run with Flatliners in 1990, which nabbed a nomination for Effects Editing.  Then, in 1994, Schumacher became the only director in this group to have his film nominated in a major category.  Susan Sarandon was nominated for Best Lead Actress for her work in The Client.  It is lesser Sarandon, and this was a WEAK field, but still, that’s quite the accomplishment for a director like Schumacher.  Next, Schumacher took over and gradually killed the Batman Franchise, but managed to snag three nominations for Batman Forever (Cinematography, Effects Editing and Sound).  His last brush with Oscar was in 2004 when he directed The Phantom of the Opera, which largely underperformed (it was assumed at year’s beginning to be an Oscar juggernaut) and walked away with three nominations for Art Direction, Cinematography and Original Song. 
So that’s four films, eight nominations and zero wins.
Please note that NONE of these Oscar nominations went to these directors themselves, but merely to the films they directed.  They have all been nominated for Razzies, but never Oscars.
So, I guess Michael Bay would win this war. 
But does Oscar really matter?  It’s all so subjective anyways.  Of the three, Schumacher has certainly stretched himself more than the other two will every dream of.  That isn’t to say that he has really succeeded much (he has a few times, but he’s not consistent at all) but at least he tries.  Emmerich tries more than Bay, but he also desperately wants to get out of Michael Bay’s shadow, which is really hard to do when Bay is pretty much considered the King of Action Films.  So that brings me to Personal Ballots.  Who gets their films noticed the most with the Fistis?  That’s difficult to ascertain, considering that most years outside of the aughts are not complete yet. 
But I’ll give this a shot.
Bad Boys (Sound / Original Song)
The Rock (Film Editing / Sound / Special Effects)
Armageddon (Special Effects* / Sound* / Original Song)
Pearl Harbor (Visual Effects / Sound)
Bad Boys II (Sound)
Transformers (Visual Effects*)
That is twelve nominations from six films with three wins.  All of this, especially those pre-2000, are tentative and subject to change, but off the top of my head this looks about right.
The Incredible Shrinking Woman (Special Effects)
Flatliners (Art Direction)               
The Client (Adapted Screenplay)
Batman Forever (Art Direction / Costume Design / Special Effects / Original Song / Makeup)
A Time to Kill (Supporting Actor-Samuel L. Jackson)
The Phantom of the Opera (Art Direction)
That’s six films, ten nominations and zero wins.
Stargate (Special Effects, Costume Design)
Independence Day (Special Effects*, Sound)
Godzilla (Special Effects, Sound, Original Song)
The Patriot (Score)
The Day After Tomorrow (Visual Effects)
That’s nine nominations from five films with one win.
I guess that means Michael Bay wins this one too.  Eh, I have a hard time saying that he’s the best here, but then again maybe he is.  He is probably the most consistent and then again, he’s had some awful lows (especially the last Transformer’s film).  I think that Schumacher is probably the King of mediocre straining, because he tries so hard to produce Oscar fare and yet winds up falling short every time.  I mean, I know that on paper films like A Time to Kill and Flawless seemed like shoe ins, and I will always forgive him his transgressions for delivering Tigerland to us all (possibly the best film out of all mentioned in this group and yet it couldn’t get a Fisti nomination in 2000), but really, he just can’t mold his films enough to give us something special.  Emmerich is kind of a joke.  I mean, he wants to be better than Michael Bay and yet all he does is recycle Bay’s visuals with the cheap illusion of grandeur. 
LOL, I spent all morning working this up (between work) and I’m wondering what the point was.  I mean, why are we discussing these guys when Luc Besson obviously OWNS this genre.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Because I can't resist.

Monday morning mumblings…

Happy Monday to all.  How was your weekend?  Mine was decent.  I had a chance to catch up on some movies I’d been waiting to see.  What did you watch this weekend?  I had the chance to see a pretty big one, ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’.  I’m kind of ashamed that it took me this long to see the film.  I don’t know why, but I always had this preconceived notion that it was going to be one of those Oscar winning films I didn’t agree with.  It just looked rather stuffy and dated.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  In fact, I wish that I had waited a few weeks to write up that article on the best Best Picture Oscar winners (that I had seen).  ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’ has a pitch perfect ensemble and a very moving story that is far more layered than I expected.  It has a very effortless way of developing complex themes.  It never feels overwrought but always keeps us hooked, despite its near three hour running length.

Oh, and Harold Russell was a total inspiration and, for a first time actor, blew me away.
This brings me to a question for all.  Has there even been a film that you really enjoyed but that was tarnished by an individual scene that you just couldn’t look passed?  That happened to me this weekend while I was watching a little known (I say that because I had never heard anyone ever talk about it before) 1962 film called ‘Pressure Point’.  The film as a whole was rather compelling.  It stars Sidney Poitier as a psychologist who is trying to help a Nazi with insomnia.  The Nazi is played by Bobby Darin (in a riveting performance).  Overall, I really liked the film, despite Poitier’s wooden performance (am I the only one who feels that, as a whole, he was a very limited actor?) but there was one scene that just struck me as dumb and took away from the entire film for me.
The ‘Tic-Tac-Toe’ scene was so overboard and exaggerated that it made it hard to take seriously, and it’s intent is to shock and disturb and add this layer to Darin’s performance and instead it came across laughable and campy and just plain silly.  So, how about you?  Any film you really liked that was brought down a peg by a ridiculous ‘moment’?
Also, while I don’t watch TV I do watch The Emmys (awards slut that I am) and watching Julianne Moore actually win a televised award was delicious.  I haven’t seen ‘Game Change’ but I could care less.  I’m just so happy for that moment.
Also, I never wanted to gif a film more than when watching ‘A Handful of Dust’ yesterday.  If I could get my hands on a gif of Anjelica Huston having her fur removed or of Alec Guinness saying “yes, you will read to me” I would pay someone a large sum of money.  The film was good, but those scenes were hilarious and really made the experience what it was.  Guinness made a delightful psycho, and Huston was a pitch perfect lesbian (if that’s what she was supposed to be).  She was, in all honesty, the manliest creature in that film.
And lastly, Saturday was the legendary Anna Karina’s birthday (not to be confused with the literary classic Anna Karenina).  Considering that she’s best known for her collaborations (and relationship) with Jean-Luc Godard (who’ve I’ve openly admitted to be my favorite director, ever) it’s no surprise that I worship this legendary actress.  Check out this short yet sweet homage to the beauty herself over at Film Flare.                                
Well that’s it for me right now.  Time to watch more movies!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Some words on The Master...

Sadly, not from me since I haven't seen it yet (next to Les Miserables, this is my most anticipated of the year).  Instead, I bring you words from Mark Rathbun, a former Scientologist enforcer. I found his take on Anderson's film to be quite interesting, and for all of us interested in the core of this film (and it's obvious inspiration from Scientology), this is a must read!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Trailer Drop: The Promised Land

You can't watch the trailer here.

I want to want to anticipate this, and yet I'm not entirely sold yet.  This looked extremely tonally challenged.  I'm not sure what it wants to be.  The first part of the trailer looked dark and brooding, like we want our 'end of year Oscar fare' to be and then it started to look like a comedy (a black one, obviously) before it started looking somewhat...inspirational.  Could this be one of those 'man without a soul gets one by nearly destroying a town filled with people he learns to love' type films?  Spare me.  I really like (er, liked) Damon but that Krasinski creature makes me want to punch my computer screen.  I'm on the fence here.  I took this out of my predictions yesterday (I had it in for Original Screenplay) and this trailer makes me feel like my decision was a smart one. 

Hal Holbrook does nothing here, but his face is endearing so I'll be happy to see him get some awards traction for this, but like I said, I'm not confident in anything here at this point.

Fisti Awards Update

AND...the acting categories for 2008 are up!!!  Check them out on the awards page.  Let me know what you think.  Who am I snubbing (Penn, Hawkins...yup, I know what you're going to say) and which nomination shocks you the most (Reilly, or maybe Butterfield)?  I'm in love with these nominations, and yet there were so many I wished I could have nominated.  This was one of those years where I wished that I had stuck with my original idea of 6 nominees per category instead of the typical 5.

I'll be expounding on these categories next week.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Oscar Updates

Ok, so this week has been crazy with awards news, or film news that can be interpreted as awards news.  I really felt like I needed to do an overhaul on my predictions from last week, and I wasn’t planning on doing that for at least another month.  Still, it’s almost silly not to make some corrections since, well, I’m posting them on the sidebar for all to see.

So, a couple of things I’ve been thinking about this week that I’m going to tweak include a few core movies:
The Impossible, Hitchcock, Intouchables, Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook.
First of all, I think that The Impossible is going to make a bigger impact than initially expected.  The core of this film is a really emotional one and one that I think will resonate hard with voters.  It is a biopic of sorts and is based on a tragedy that is fresh on a lot of people’s minds.  Also, the reviews out of TIFF have been really strong.  I’m thinking that this gets in with Best Picture at the moment, and with the waning possibility of Naomi Watts actually winning the Drama Globe and possibly something as weighty as BAFTA, I say that if the film gets a BP nomination she gets the Oscar and NOT Jennifer Lawrence.  Lawrence’s raves are stronger, for sure, but she is also ONLY 22 and has a slew of baity projects coming up over the next few years.  It is between the two of them, no question, but right now I’m leaning towards Watts, as long as her film gets in.
Hitchcock is currently being switched to a Nov. 23rd release.  This is big news.  I was ready for this to nab a slew of Oscar mentions next year, but with so many thinning fields I see this making a serious splash here as well, especially with the Globes, which I think will eat this up.  I suspect that Scarlett Johansson could be a contender, and Hopkins as well, but most certain is the Makeup Oscar that this will probably win.  Just look at Hopkins! 
I’m back on the Les Mis train.  I said this two posts back and the thought is growing more rapidly as the day progresses.  That clip was amazing.  I pretty much had it up for all the right nominations (no changes there) but my faith in Argo winning has dwindled.  I honestly think that Hooper and company are going to pull a Return of the King style sweep and take EVERYTHING.
Now we come to Supporting Actor, where I’m dropping Goodman from my lineup and ushering in De Niro.  In thinking this over, his narrative is too strong.  He is getting the best reviews he’s had in over a decade, and the kicker is that these reviews are coming from a film that is getting a ton of Oscar buzz.  This isn’t like when he got great ink for Everybody’s Fine but the film was too small and too vanilla to go anywhere.  Silver Lining’s Playbook is going to hit in a big way and the fact that De Niro is a LEGEND is going to play in his favor.  Double  nominees in the Supporting Actor category are few anyways, and I was leaning towards shifting Goodman’s nomination to his Flight performance, for I’ve heard that it is even baitier than the one in Argo, but De Niro sounds like a really safe bet.  I’m convinced he’s getting in with SAG, and if the Actress win shifts in Watt’s favor, I could see Silver Linings Playbook being rewarded here instead.
I also want to speak of Crowe right now.  A lot of people seem to be underestimating him right now, which I find really odd.  Even Nathanial over at The Film Experience went as far as to say that Javert’s arc wasn’t that strong.

Don’t read this if you’ve never seen the stageplay or read the book or just plain don’t know what happens to Javert, but how in the world is his arc not that strong?  He plays the primary antagonist, he is a conflicted villain who seeks an almost unnatural vengeance against the protagonist.  He has one of the shows biggest numbers and most importantly, his character is plagued by a past he won’t admit to (but you can feel it) and ultimately let’s his man go so-to-speak, and then COMMITS SUICIDE!  I’d actually say that his arc is the best in the whole show.  He has the fullest character.  I’d almost say that his nomination is the most assured of all in contention based on the role and the film.  Philip Seymour Hoffman has the reviews and the Volpi Cup, but his film is also extremely divisive and has no shot at a Best Picture win.  Doubt all you want, but Crowe is getting the nomination this year.
Set that gaze on Oscar my's calling you!
Oh yeah, and Intouchables is probably going to WIN the Foreign Language Film Oscar.  I wash my hands of it.  Poor Haneke.  Even if he gets in with the Directors branch (and the Original Screenplay nomination is happening), his film with lose to Intouchables, which has the crowd pleasing narrative going for it in a VERY large way.
So, I’m making the updates and will have the sidebar refreshed probably before you read this.


Alright, so I was all ready to have this plastered all over my 2013 predictions, since the few stills I've seen for it look really good and the cast is TO DIE FOR, but now it is being moved to this year and I'm wondering if it will factor into the race at all.  I sure hope so, and with the dying fields as of late, I'm thinking it could squeeze into a few spots. 

My biggest worry is Scarlett Johansson.  I really figured that she could pull off a Supporting Actress win next year if buzz grew for the film and for her.  I mean, she's playing Janet Leigh, who recieved an Oscar nomination for her performance in the very film they are documenting, 'Psycho'.  This year is a tad vacant in this category, and I was looking for someone to fill in a spot or two (since I'm losing faith in Williams and we really need another newbee) but could this be too little to late?  I'm not so sure of that since it'll be opening during prime awards consideration and the field is thinning thanks to underwhelming performances.

I'm seriously thinking of overhauling my predictions already (lol, it's only been a week since I re-worked them) thanks to this tidbit, the Intouchables news and that recent clip of Les Mis completely overtaking my brain.

Yes, I'm crying right now...

For some reason I can't embed this at the moment, but watch this now!

HOLY CRAP!  I've been all over this since year's beginning and talked about how this was the one to beat, and only recently have I switched to the Argo train, but this inside look has me back to thinking that this year is ALL ABOUT LES MISERABLES.  Just watch that sneak peak.  I have chills.  I'm completely confident that this is getting nominated everywhere and it'll probably rake in the techs like crazy (those shots are beautiful).

Oh, and this is probably going to win everything at the Globes...and I'm talking Picture/Director/Sup. Actress/Lead Actor/Song...EVERYTHING. 

I'm even getting more and more excited for the prospect of Crowe gaining WIN traction, but I'll reign that in until later.

This is like the greatest day ever.


Marion on the rise...

In more news about Marion Cotillard (you'd think I was obsessed), she's going to recieve the Hollywood Film Award for Lead Actress this year, which is the first award given out of the season.  As a whole, the Hollywood Film Award doesn't really mean a whole lot, but it is at least keeping Marion in the conversation, which is important at this stage in the race.  Of the winners over the past decade, Kidman (for Moulin Rouge!), Bening (for both Being Julia and The Kids are All Right), Theron (for North Country), Cruz (for Volver) and Williams (for My Week With Marilyn) have all gone on to Oscar nominations.  Cotillard herself won this in 2007 and went on the win the Oscar.  Still, for every Oscar nominee, there is a Hilary Swank in Amelia or Jennifer Aniston in The Good Girl.  Looking over these stats though, the odds are in her favor, and in such a weak year (for Oscar potentials) this could really prove to be the jump start to a solid awards season for her.

After the heartbreaking news the other day with regard to the French Oscar player, this comes as a nice counterbalance to the odds against this amazing actress.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Closer Look: 1974 Supporting Actor

So, for the next installment in the ‘Closer Look’ series, I’m tackling the 1974 Supporting Actor race.  As a refresher, here is what AMPAS nominated:


I love looking back at these earlier years and seeing that there really was no consensus, which makes Oscar watching (or Oscar discussion) so much more enjoyable.  If you take the BAFTA lineup, the Globes lineup and Oscar’s lineup you only have ONE actor that appears on all three ballots; Fred Astaire.  I’m not sure how the hell that happened (he even won the Globe and the BAFTA) since his performance is about as vapid and uninteresting as they come, but regardless, he made it.  After him, the love was spread pretty thin. 

Because of BAFTA’s weird eligibility rules and whatnot, they didn’t even nominate eligible 1974 contenders until 1975, where they only nominated Astaire and Balsam (for ‘The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three’) amidst 1975 releases.  While Balsam doesn’t quite make my ballot, it would have been an inspired win compared to Astaire.  He certainly works in far more layers in a similarly styled film (they are both action type thrillers).  De Niro was nominated for a BAFTA, but in another category (most promising new actor) so he doesn’t really count. 

Lee Strasberg was nominated in that category at the Globes (why did they ever do away with that category?) but outside of him, there really wasn’t much Godfather love at the Globes.  They snubbed all contenders (outside of Pacino in Lead) and instead nominated The Great Gatsby boys, Dern and Waterston, as well as Huston’s riveting performance in ‘Chinatown’ and a really bland and clichéd performance by Eddie Albert in ‘The Longest Yard’.  I LOVE Huston and think that both Dern and Waterston were inspired nominations, but you can lump in Albert with Astaire in the “what the hell were you thinking” pile.

So, Oscar went Godfather crazy and nominated THREE of their supporting (labels are subjective) men.  De Niro obviously came out the champ here.  Astaire probably thought he had this after that Globe win (since the BAFTA came over a year later).  Really, who could blame him?  Bridges and Gazzo hadn’t won anything of note (or anything period) and the best De Niro and Strasberg had come up with were second and third mentions by NYFCC.  I’m sure MANY thought that Astaire was winning, but I’m thrilled that he didn’t since ANY of the other contenders would have made a far better winner.

De Niro made the best.

So that brings me to the ranking of these nominees.  Like I stated, De Niro was the best performance.  I personally place him in the leading category.  This is for a whole other discussion (one I plan on having here soon) because I feel that category fraud and category placement is just a huge beast to tackle but one that should be discussed.  Like I said, that is for another post altogether.  De Niro was a total force in The Godfather, Part II, taking on the youthful Vito Corleone with a ferocity that was unmatched in 1974.  He may not have had as much screen time as Pacino, but like Marlon Brando in The Godfather, he permeates the film, filling it with his presence.   This is a major feat when you are in a film with such a strong ensemble.  Oscar also noticed and nominated Strasberg and Gazzo (although I’m shocked Cazale was ignored) and both of them put in strong work as well.  Gazzo is probably the weakest link in the ensemble, although he makes a scene and steals attention.  He’s loud and abrasive and aggressive and certainly fills the screen.  He also only has a few short scenes to make an impact, and he does so adequately.  Strasberg, on the other hand, doesn’t rely on theatrics but simply haunts the viewer.  He delivers a calculated performance that simmers under the surface to hide his character’s true intentions.  I still remember that scene where he tells Michael Corleone the story of Las Vegas’s birth.  His delivery is chilling to say the least.

Outside of the Godfather boys we have more category fraud and one of the most ridiculous nominations in the history of Oscar.  Seriously, Astaire’s nomination is about as pointless as Mary McDonnell’s ‘Dances With Wolves’ nomination, but maybe even more ridiculous since ‘The Towering Inferno’ wasn’t the Oscar juggernaut ‘Dances With Wolves’ was.  Astaire basically stands in a room for two hours, dances an awkward dance as the camera passes him by, declares his love for Jennifer Jones and hugs her cat.  There is nothing more to his performance.  He doesn’t convey any real emotions.  I’m shocked he managed the nomination (which was obvious a career recognition type of thing) when they could have easily nominated Chamberlain or Holden or even McQueen, all of who delivered far better performances in the same film.

Bridges is amazing in ‘Thunderbolt and Lightfoot’, but he is in no way shape or form Supporting.  Who is he supporting?  He is the obvious co-star, shares all of Eastwood’s scenes and carries the film’s greatest arc.  He makes the film work.  He steals all of the attention from Eastwood and so just because Eastwood was the bigger name should have meant nothing.  I mean, HE PLAYS LIGHTFOOT!  Whatever.  His performance is sensational.  He is fun and boisterous and personifies the everyman with bigger dreams.  He layers his drama with the right pinch of comedy and makes a giant impact.

So, to recap:

1)      De Niro

2)      Bridges

3)      Strasberg

4)      Gazzo

5)      Astaire

Now comes that part where I evaluate their careers.  Strasberg can kind of get delegated to last place based on the fact that he was only in a handful of films and was predominantly an acting teacher for most of his life.  That, and I’ve only seen him in this one film.  BUT, before I do that I need to discuss the fact that Gazzo doesn’t fare much better considering that he mostly worked in television, and what I have seen of his doesn’t come up to what Strasberg does in this one film, so maybe Gazzo takes the last spot due to the strength of Strasberg’s performance.  Fred Astaire was HUGE in his day.  I personally never cared a whole lot for his acting ability.  He was a great entertainer, but he was very much the same in a lot of what he did.  He couldn’t compete with the likes of Grace Kelly, who could balance out entertainment with pure convictions.  That being said, Astaire’s contribution to film is undeniable, and he did have some nice moments under his belt, especially in the beginning of his career.

But really, who are we kidding?  These three aforementioned actors can’t even compete in the same field as the two greatest actors of their generation; Jeff Bridges and Robert De Niro.  There just isn’t a comparison to be made.

Selecting a better career from these two actors is harder than one may think.  Robert De Niro had the strongest run, for it is hard to compete with his string of 70’s performances.  Jeff Bridges has had the most successful career though.  When you look at Robert De Niro as a whole, you see that he burnt out where Bridges merely faced a lull before picking up and coming back with an almost stronger resurgence than his youthful heyday.  Bridges’ lows were also never as low as De Niro’s.  You can’t compare Bridges’ phoning in a stock villain in ‘Iron Man’ to De Niro basically forsaking his calling in trash like ‘Godsend’.  Still, De Niro’s 70’s and 80’s work is really hard to dethrone, so he edges out Bridges (ever so slightly) because of that.

So, my ranking:

1)      De Niro

2)      Bridges

3)      Astaire

4)      Strasberg

5)      Gazzo

But, we all know what you’ve been waiting for…the Fisti nominees for this category.  Well, here you go!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A French fuck-up?

I am going to say this in pure bias and blind ranting since I have seen NEITHER of these films, but I’m a little stunned that France chose ‘Intouchables’to be their Oscar horse this year and not ‘Rust + Bone’.  Yes, ‘Intouchables’ is a surprise hit overseas and managed to rake up some serious awards attention last year when it beat out ‘The Artist’ in the Lead Actor category at The Cesar Awards, but ‘Rust + Bone’ just seems so much more prestigious, and the reviews for it this year have been rather impressive.  I know that Harvey Weinstein is behind this, and so it should be expected (and it is rather popular to hate on him) but I really thought that ‘Rust + Bone’ had a serious chance at getting in with Oscar this year.  It reminds me a little bit of when Italy opted NOT to go with ‘I Am Love’ for their Oscar submission back in 2010, but then again, the audience reception of ‘Intouchables’ has been extremely good.  This is one of those generic heartwarming feel good movies, and the United States of A have already greenlit the remake with Colin Firth (originally rumored to be Dustin Hoffman) in the starring role. 

And this brings me once again to the lavish Marion Cotillard.  Does this hurt her Oscar chances this year?  I know that she is still in a good position, but I was also banking on overall reception of the film to bolster her chances, and a Foreign Language Film nomination would have given her a boost for sure.  That said, Penelope Cruz managed a nomination in 2006 despite ‘Volver’ being snubbed in the Foreign Language Film category, so it could happen.  This may make Riva a bigger threat, and I may be underestimating her impact on the race (we’ll see once the critics’ awards roll in) but for now I’m keeping Cotillard in my predictions. 


She has to make it, right?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday morning ramblings…

So I had a long weekend away from the blog and missed a ton of movie related stuff and am ready to get back into the swing of things.

First off, Thursday brought us the official trailer for ‘Lincoln’.  This is one of the big end of year Oscar movies that had as of yet to show us anything more than a promotional picture of DDL and that already iconic poster (yes, I love it) and so cinephiles around the world waiting eagerly on Thursday morning to catch a glimpse of the obvious Oscar winner (all except myself, who was crammed in a car with the family headed towards Sea World) and then we were shown this:


I know I’m not the only one who is extremely underwhelmed by this mess.  First of all, everyone looks ridiculous.  I have this predicted as the makeup Oscar winner at this point, and I’m not quick to change it based on this trailer alone, but is it just me or does everyone look like they are working at one of those Civil War Reenactment things?  That poster instilled so much confidence in DDL as at least an Oscar nominee, but the trailer underuses him (we only hear him talk like once) that I’m worried he underperforms.  Are they afraid to show us this performance?  The trailer makes it seem like they are ashamed of it.  Field looks like she’s back to overacting, and all that we thought about Strathairn being the standout supporting player could be wrong, since I didn’t even see him in this and Tommy Lee Jones is the one mentioned in the roll call. 

But that really isn’t the worst of it.  Watch the trailer again.  Is it just me or does it resembled this:


What is wrong with Spielberg?  Can’t we have a biopic that isn’t this…obvious?  I mean, the score is basically the same score used in all these motivational heartwarming films and the feel of this trailer was so sappy and manipulating that I wanted to throw up.  In all honesty, I wasn’t anticipating this all that much outside of its obvious Oscar chances, but I did want something a little ‘earthier’ and instead I got more schmaltz.  Come on Steven.  You did Munich.  We all know that you still have some grit, but this looks like a Ron Howard film without Russell Crowe, who is like the only reason to watch a Ron Howard film.

On another note, Silver Linings Playbook won TIFF, so I think it’s safe to say that it is getting in with Oscar in a big way.  TIFF doesn’t always have the best track record with Oscar (of the past 34 winners, only 10 have gone on to be Best Picture nominees), the general consensus of Silver Linings Playbook and the critical reception mixed with the fact that O. Russell is a newly inducted director and that Lawrence is a major threat to win the Best Actress Oscar all work in the film’s favor and pretty much assure it a spot in the final Best Picture ballot.  I don’t think it will win, especially with a film like Argo (more socially important and politically relevant) or Les Miserables (big, epic, nostalgic) in the race, but it’ll get the nomination.

Lastly (for the moment), being at Sea World made me think of Marion Cotillard and her Oscar chances this year and, well, just her in general since she’s like one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet and so I wanted to take a few moments to bask in her beauty.