Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday morning misty eyes…


So, this is going to be my last post for a while.  I’m heading off for Europe and will be gone for nearly three weeks.  It is a much needed vacation, and I’m beyond excited for it, but it is also bittersweet since I’ve been enjoying blogging so much over the past three months that letting go of the reins seems disheartening at the moment.

Before I go I wanted to blog a bunch of random stuff, so let’s have at it.

First, I want to wrap up the remainder of my October Oscar predictions.  I have a few categories left to update and while I wanted to do more extensive posts on each of the remaining categories, time got away from me.  So, here’s what I’m thinking at the moment.

Makeup:

Hitchcock

Les Miserables

Lincoln

I’m sticking with the three I had predicted from last month.  It looks pretty obvious at this point.  Oscar loves old age makeup and prosthetics and from the trailers alone Hitchcock and Lincoln have everything that Oscar responds to.  Les Miserables is a gamble at this point based solely on some knowledge of the screenplay and some scenes that could really play heavily on the makeup department.  That, that the film is going to be nominated for everything, you know that right?

Sound Editing:

The Dark Knight Rises

The Impossible

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Zero Dark Thirty

I’m letting go of The Avengers (probably stupidly) and throwing in Lincoln, and I’m betting on Zero Dark Thirty (how did I miss that last month) to take the place of Prometheus.  I still think that Life of Pi or The Impossible will take this, and right now I’m hedging my bets on The Impossible.

Sound Mixing:

Argo

The Dark Knight Rises

Les Miserables

Life of Pi

Zero Dark Thirty

Not knowing exactly how these categories work, I’m going with word of mouth by friends who understand the difference between Mixing and Editing more than I.  I’ve been told that Argo and Les Miserables will play heavily here.  Here is my thing though, this category usually rewards the same film that was rewarded in Editing, so could it really be possible that The Impossible wins in Editing and Les Miserables wins in Mixing with neither being even nominated in the opposite category?

Original Score:

Anna Karenina

Brave

Frankenweenie

Life of Pi

The Master

I’m most confident in Anna Karenina, since Marianelli is a god and both of his scores for Wright films have been embraced.  The Master could fail here, since Greenwood failed before, and these more experimental type scores don’t always go over with AMPAS unless the force of the film is undeniable.  Elfman is always a safe bet here, and Doyle’s work on Brave is so nicely orchestrated into the film (and it’s something unique to the film itself) that I could see it snagging a nomination here.

Animated Film:

Brave

Frankenweenie

Paranorman

Le Tableau

Wreck-It Ralph

I just have no clue who is going to win this.  The reviews for Brave and Frankenweenie just don’t constitute wins at this point (and I really thought this was going to Burton in a cakewalk).  I can’t see Paranorman winning, but what if there are only three…and it’s those three?  This is like 2005 (or was it 2006) when Happy Feet won.  Like, that year was so weird in this category (Cars?).  Maybe Wreck-It Ralph could win.  You have to admit, the movie looks amazing!

Foreign Film:

A Royal Affair (Denmark)

Amour (Austria)

The Intouchables (France)

Lore (Australia)

War Witch (Canada)

I’m tossing in Lore here, since I hear nothing but good things for its Oscar chances at this point.  Still, with Wienstien and the whole ‘heartwarming’ aspect in its corner, it’ll take a LOT to unsettle Intouchables chances at the win here.

 

So that’s that for that.

 

Next, check this out!  I saw this trailer the other day and was spellbound.  I’ve heard nothing but great things for Holy Motors, so I’m anticipating this like crazy!  I still have no real clue what this is about, but I’m ok with that.  I’ve heard some rumble about this trailer that it spoils too much because it shows too much, but not knowing much about the storyline I can honestly say that the context here seems ambiguous and so I don’t feel like anything has been spoiled for me.  I just cannot wait to experience this for myself!

 

Lastly, I want to remind everyone of my Blog-a-Thon, to go live on the 12th of November.  Don’t forget about it!  You can read about it here. 

 

And, just for you Josh:

 

 

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Director's Chair Blog-a-Thon: Darren Aronofsky


Nick over at The Cinematic Katzenjammer is hosting the Director’sChair this month, and this is my first time participating so I’m a little all over the place with it.  The director this month was Darren Aronofsky, which was kind of amazing since I really respond to him as a director, but I had no clue what I wanted to write and where I wanted to take this!
When thinking over the approach I wanted to take to this particular write up, I instantly thought of the one thing that makes me appreciate Aronofsky as such a force of nature; his visual prowess.  The fact remains that you could watch any of Darren’s film on silent and still feel compelled and even engaged by every frame.  You can follow his thought process and his manipulative tones just by watching each frame pass by.  The strength in all of his films can be seen and wholly experienced by pouring ourselves into the live frames.
I’ve personally seen none of Darren’s short films, but I’ve seen all of his feature films.  From ‘Pi’ to ‘Black Swan’, Aronofsky has honed his directorial aggression and created a very respectable resume that shows the range he’s developed and the maturity he’s come into.  Watching ‘Pi’ and then watching ‘Black Swan’ is a remarkable swing because you can see all the raw potential actually translate into something truly breathtaking. 
It may seem odd to say that I feel Aronofsky’s career up to this point (excluding but wholly anticipating the upcoming ‘Noah’) is bookmarked by his least successful efforts (as a whole I can only truly appreciate but not love both ‘Pi’ and ‘Black Swan’) and yet ‘Black Swan’ truly marks the peak of his directorial bravado.  Yes, he’s at the top of his game (even if the script he’s working from is not).
So then it comes to reviewing his work.  I questioned myself here.  I didn’t really want to pick just ONE film, because he’s the rare director for which I’ve actually seen all of his work, but I didn’t want to ramble for so long that this post became tiring.  So that brings me back to my initial paragraph.  When thinking about this particular markup, I thought of the visuals more than anything else.  Darren Aronofsky is a visual director and his films soar in that regard.  Why not use screenshots from the film to evaluate their overall impact?
I’ll give this a try.

Hubba Hubba



Good god!  If Kerry Washington can manage an Oscar nomination this year I just...I can't...OH MY GOD.  I love this woman, but early word on the script was that she had NOTHING to do.  Could she have a weightier role than expected.  The recent trailer suggests just that.  I'm waiting to find out, but if I have to chose between pimping a ScarJo nomination and a Kerry one, I'll die.  That's like my Sophie's Choice! 


 



October Oscar Predictions: Production Design

One thing I’m pretty sure of is that Les Miserables is winning this too.  Yeah, I’m so excited for the prospect of a true sweep, and I kind of see that happening with Les Miserables.  I just hope that my expectations are met and it is a deserved one (I fear for my health if this turns out to be a bomb).  Honestly though, from the screenshots and the set designs released on the latest issue of EW, I’m pretty sure that this is going to be an easy win here.
 
After that I’m not entirely sure as to who is going to make it.  Anna Karenina seems highly possible, and most probable thanks to the praise it’s received in the visual department (so lush and pretty to look at) and the idea of staging this on the ‘stage’ could be an interesting ‘gimmick’ that will work in its favor.  Django Unchained also looks completely lush and really strong here.  Then you have some serious contenders in different eras that show replications of more subtle yet authenticated living spaces.  Lincoln, The Master and Argo should all be in the conversation.  They are primed to be serious Oscar players, and that always helps in dragging in a more subtle piece of work.  Argo, for example, could easily get a filler nomination if it winds up being one of the frontrunners for the actual Best Picture Oscar.
 
And then I’m wondering about the fantasy side of things.  While I’ve stated to considering The Hobbit a joke, I’m not sure about its chances here.  The trailer and stills look rather detailed, and Oscar does like their fantasy elements here.  Could it be seen as too much of the same?  That never hurt the Harry Potter films, which regurgitated similar set pieces and still managed multiple nominations here.  What about Dark Shadows.  It seems almost forgotten now, but it is Tim Burton and they cream all over his stuff.  The gaudier the better, right?  No, but whatever.  The Dark Knight Rises could also factor in, if they want to reward the series for fleshing out darkly lit nightmares with complexity (it would be deserved, but I’m not betting on it at the moment).  Prometheus was also mentioned for its art direction, and the original Alien film was nominated in this category, but the category is filling out this year and I don’t know if I see it getting in right now.
And then you have unseen films like Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations, both of which could factor in if they are perceived as truly innovative or at least visual spectacles.
 
One real question mark for me is Moonrise Kingdom.  I haven’t seen the film yet, but the stills are amazing and Wes Anderson movies are always really exciting in this department (yet they are always Oscar snubbed) and I’ve heard by many that this is his most accessible film and so maybe it could actually generate buzz in more fields than a mere screenplay nomination.  I’m skeptical, and I won’t predict it right now, but if it gains momentum over the season thanks to a critical awakening then I could see it becoming a player.  It probably won’t make it in in the end, but I’d love to see it in the conversation.
 
And then we have Cloud Atlas.  Like, this is that one movie that looks so god-awful in my eyes and yet is such a visual spectacle even in trailer form that I’m wondering if it will factor in to all of these tech categories on that basis alone.  Does it need to be a huge success for it to nab nominations across the board here?  I mean, the epic scope of the film itself is so large that it really is a technical wet dream. 
 
I’m thinking, at the moment, of something like this:
1)      Les Miserables
2)      Anna Karenina
3)      Cloud Atlas
4)      Lincoln
5)      Django Unchained

October Oscar Predictions: Original Song


LOL, I hate this category.  I’m glad they made that rule change and there has to be five nominees every year now.  It was embarrassing last year to see only TWO nominees in this category, and two nominees that no one was predicting (I mean, of all the original songs to nominate from The Muppets Movie and they chose…the best one!).  So, this year we have to have five.  Now, I’m wondering if the Globes curse will still live on (win the Globe, fail to get an Oscar nomination) because if that is the case then I fear that Adele is out of the running for her Skyfall tune, no matter how deserving she may be (and who doesn’t want to see Adele at the Oscars).  For now, I’m betting on her though.
1)      “Suddenly” from Les Miserables
2)      “Learn Me Right” from Brave
3)      “Skyfall” from Skyfall
4)      “Celebrate” from Sparkle
5)      “Touch the Sky” from Brave
No, I’m not sure what is going to be eligible by the end of the year.  Things change and we never know what songs are going to get the biggest push.  I’d love to see Snow White and the Huntsman get in here.  It would just be beyond amazing to have Adele, Florence and the Machine and Mumford and Sons all up for Oscar consideration.  I have faith in Sparkle mostly due to the Whitney Houston goodwill, but I could be wrong.  Early word on the placement of the new Les Miserables song could make it a real tearjerker.  My only fear is that it may not actually make the final cut of the film, but if it does it is our frontrunner here.

Gotham Awards Nominations

Awards season has kicked off and the first to announce anything is the Gotham Awards.  These are the most obscure of the awards, next to the Independent Spirit Awards, and they really mean the least in terms of Oscar prognosticating (I still remember getting my hopes up last year when they showered Beginners with love) but they are fun to take a gander at.
Best Picture:
Bernie
The Loneliest Planet
The Master
Middle of Nowhere
Moonrise Kingdom
I’m kind of shocked to see Bernie showing up here.  I guess I really do need to see that.  I had a feeling that The Master would wind up here, and I’m sure this isn’t the last place we’ll see it gracing the Best Picture ballot.  I’m still skeptical of its Oscar chance in that category, but whatever.  It will certainly be a critical darling, and we all know that the Gothams are a good place to gage just what is going to get critical attention.  The Master and Moonrise Kingdom I expect to see gain some steam thanks to the critics’ awards soon to follow.  I’m SHOCKED that Beasts of the Southern Wild didn’t land on this ballot, like REALLY SHOCKED.  I don’t think it means much at all (Silver Linings Playbook also missed) but it’s odd.
Best Documentary:
Detropia
How to Survive a Plague
Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present
Room 237
The Waiting Room
Best Ensemble:
Bernie
Moonrise Kingdom
Safety Not Guaranteed
Silver Linings Playbook
Your Sister’s Sister
It’s nice to see Moonrise Kingdom land here as well.  I have a sneaking suspicion that we could actually see Moonrise Kingdom land on SAGS ballot this year.  It is a very large ensemble and while I don’t see it generating Best Picture buzz at this point, SAG has been known to think outside of the box some of the time (like, 2007 as a whole).  Silver Linings Playbook is a given, and it’ll get that SAG nomination too, but I’m wondering if Moonrise Kingdom can actually win this here, since it also landed on the Best Picture ballot!
Breakthrough Director:
Zal Batmanglij/Sound of My Voice
Brian M. Cassidy & Melanie Shatzky/Francine
Jason Cortlund & Julia Halperin/Now, Forager
Antonio Mendez Esparza/Aqui y Alla (Here and There)
Benh Zeitlin/Beasts of the Southern Wild
The only one here with a smidgen of Oscar potential is Zeitlin, who is still in my top ten despite being bumped.  If Beasts gets a good resurrection with the critics, he could manage a surprise nomination.
Breakthrough Actor:
Mike Birbiglia/Sleepwalk with Me
Emayatzy Corinealdi/Middle of Nowhere
Thure Lindhardt/Keep the Lights On
Melanie Lynskey/Hello, I Must Be Going
Quvenzhane Wallis/Beasts of the Southern Wild
Despite the fact that Wallis is the only nominee here with a shot at Oscar, I don’t know if I see her winning this.  I’d love to see Lynskey win.  I haven’t seen her film, but I’ve loved her for a long time, so I really hope she gains some momentum and snags some critics mentions.  Is a Globe nomination too much to ask for?  Probably.  But, how about an Independent Spirit mention?
Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You:
Kid-Thing
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty
Red Flag
Sun Don’t Shine
Tiger Tail in Blue
So, of all the nominated films here, I’ve seen…NONE.  Wow, I really need to get to watching some films!  The season is upon us, and if last year is any indication I’ll be walking into the Oscar ceremony with having seen roughly five of the nominated films (that’s talking all categories) and by this time next year I’ll be posting my 2012 Fistis.  When you have a full time job and two children you live on Netflix Instant Stream.  I do know this, these Gotham Awards nominations have certainly added a slew of films to my Netflix queue!

October Oscar Predictions: Cinematography

Moving on, let’s talk about cinematography.  This is a tricky one.  AMPAS apparently loves 3D now, so I’m thinking Life of Pi has an easy nomination here.  But they also love lavish spectacles, so Les Miserables and Anna Karenina look likely.  The Master has been singled out for its cinematography, and the stills I’ve seen are simply stunning.  They can tend to go a little nuts for Best Picture nominees and nominate them here even when undeserving, so weighty biopics like Lincoln and early frontrunners like Argo could easily factor in here. 
But there’s more.
They love Malick, and rightfully so, and he has To the Wonder this year which is framed beautifully.  The Hobbit and Cloud Atlas look to be visual stunners, from a more storybook point of view, and they can favor that at times (look at how they gave that win to Hugo, which was also 3D).  Tarantino films are usually visually impactful, and Nolan films are usually nominated here, so many are confident that The Dark Knight Rises is happening.  I’m less confident considering that tepid reaction to the film and the fact that Inception just won here two years ago.
And then there is Beasts of the Southern Wild, which is one of those films that was praised for its cinematography and yet may be too small for an actual nomination here, especially against such heavy contenders.
And I’m considering Zero Dark Thirty as a serious threat in the techs, so I’m thinking that this could really happen.
Here's what I'm thinking ATM: 




1)      Les Miserables
2)      Life of Pi
3)      The Master
4)      Zero Dark Thirty
5)      The Impossible
This is just a hunch.  Counting out Anna Karenina seems odd, but the reviews for the film were less than ecstatic, and there has to be a snubbed contender.  I should probably be banking on Lincoln, but it looked so dark to me.  Then again, they nominated War Horse, but that was also grander in scope (or at least looks so when comparing the trailers).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

October Oscar Predictions: Visual Effects

So, let’s talk Visual Effects for a minute.  This category can be fun and often times underwhelming when it comes to an actual winner.  Like a lot of AMPAS categories, you don’t have to be the most deserving to actually snag the Gold Man.  Look at last year’s Hugo.  How did that beat out Planet of the Apes?  How in the world has the entire Harry Potter series gone without a single Oscar here despite delivering time and time again (I’ve yet to see one of the films, but I can tell by the previews that they are worthy nominees).  They also can be a bitch to predict.  Who in the hell saw the Transformer’s loss coming back in ’07?  No one!  Also the Hugo win this past year was rather bizarre.  Like, I think I had it down at #4 on the list.
So this year we are back to wondering just who is going to get mentions.  Last year was stacked with Superhero bait everywhere and yet not one of those films was nominated.  AMPAS isn’t really that friendly to Superhero movies.
So what of The Dark Knight Rises or The Avengers?  Could they snag a nomination?
Who will be this year’s Real Steel?  Seriously, how did that get nominated?
In looking at the possibilities, I’m thinking that the only real sure things are the two films vying for bigger Oscar prizes, The Impossible and Life of Pi.  The trailers really sell these visuals and make them staples in this category.  I can’t see a scenario where either misses.  In fact, I think that one of them is going to win.
1)      Life of Pi
 
2)      The Impossible
 
Next we have some effects heavy summer films that always blow their load all over the place but wind up being mostly ignored.  Snow White and the Huntsman, Prometheus, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, Amazing Spiderman, Battleship, Total Recall, Dark Shadows.  The list goes on and on.  The Hunger Games was somewhat chastised for the effects, so I don’t see that happening, and the comic like graphics of Dark Shadows should keep it away from this lineup, unless AMPAS keeps those blinders on and votes blindly for Burton.  Also, reviews can matter, and forgettable blockbusters like Battleship and Total Recall, even if deserving (I’ve seen neither, so I can’t weigh in) should automatically be ruled out.  I’m thinking that Snow White and the Huntsman, The Avengers and Prometheus could factor in from this group, and with the prestige behind Prometheus and the previous nominations for BOTH Iron Man films, I’d say that those two will make it over Snow White and the Huntsman, especially since those reviews weren’t the kindest.
3)      The Avengers
 
4)      Prometheus
 
I’m dismissing The Hobbit, since it looks ridiculous, and placing my final bet on Cloud Atlas.  I don’t think the film looks good at all, but the visual grandeur of the trailer is undeniable!
5)      Cloud Atlas

 
One film I'm wondering about is Flight.  Much has been said about the actual plane crash, and if the film proves to be a big player that could easily factor in here since AMPAS does like to nominate more respectable fare here.  I'm not betting on it yet, but I could see it happening.

OMG!!!


Universal has released the script for Les Miserables!

I usually make it a point of NOT reading the scripts to films I'm anticipating simply beacuse I want to be surprised on movie day, but I may have to make an acception, especially since I know this musical nearly by heart and so reading the script won't be much of a shocker.  That being said, I have NOT read the book and from what I'm hearing from friends, this is truly reworking bits of the musical to better reflect the novel. 

So, this has me thinking...could this really get in with Adapted Screenplay?  I mean, I've been skeptical of that happening because of the nature of the beast, being completely sung and basically being a transferance of songs from stage to screen, but if they've really reworked the physicality (and one friend noted there were clever touches on the song lyrics themselves) then this could really be a contender, especially if Les Miserables becomes an unstoppable force come Oscar time.

I'm thinking about tweaking that prediction come next month!

Mother…SHUT YO MOUTH!

 
Seriously, why do actors need to speak?  I’m not being entirely serious, since I certainly appreciate an actor who speaks his mind to a degree.  I mean, it shows that they aren’t mechanical beings in pursuit of fame and fortune.  Yet, when an actor as prickly as Joaquin Phoenix gets ahold of a journalist you can expect him to open his mouth and shove both of his feet in there.  The man is eternally bizarre and has done the same quite a few times.  He often awkward and experiences word vomit a lot.  I mean, I still remember cringing when he accepted his Globe award back in ’05.  The fact that his acceptance speech started with a near diss (“Comedy?”) was kind of off-putting.
Coming off of his bizarre stunt with brother-in-law Casey Affleck, you’d think that Phoenix would be attempting to gain some goodwill and mend some bridges.  I expected his agent to duct tape his mouth shut, but apparently they are just letting him loose.
Bad idea.
So, Phoenix is calling the Oscars “utter bullshit” and basically running his campaign into the ground.  He isn’t going to campaign at all.  Now, there is a classy way of going about this and then there is a trashy way, and Phoenix, always the awkward realist, went trashy.  Look at Mo’Nique back in ’09.  She didn’t campaign, but she classily expressed her desire to win and the reasons why she wasn’t going to self-promote.  Instead of simply saying that ’05 was stressful for him and he really doesn’t like to put himself out there that much, he basically ripped the Oscars a new one. 
Some are debating his Oscar chances now.  Some are even saying a nomination is out of the question, when just like a week ago he was the only real lock.  What do you think?  Maybe prickly actors have received Oscar attention despite being vocal about not really caring about the awards.  Viggo Mortensen even refused to accept membership with the Academy back in ’05 and was still nominated in ’07, so I really don’t think this is going to hurt him TOO much, but his word vomit isn’t doing anything for his reputation, and I have a feeling that a win is going to be a really hard sell now.  I honestly didn’t see him winning without unanimous support from critics and the televised precursors, but I’m even more confident in him losing at this point.
Oscar likes to be respected, not mocked.

October Oscar Predictions: Costume Design

Costume Design can be one of those categories that is really hard to get a true handle on until the guilds start announcing because it is such an entirely different animal than most other categories.  Your acting categories depend on reviews and, to a certain degree, Best Picture status, and really it is that Best Picture aspect that drives a lot of categories, even in the technical side.  Cinematography is one of those categories that favor Best Picture nominees, even when they are clearly undeserving (The King’s Speech).  But, Costume Design isn’t such a horse. 
It nominates whomever the hell it wants to.
It does tend to favor the more lavish period pieces and does tend to completely ignore the contemporary designed films unless they are in a very well received film.  But this is the category that films like ‘W.E.’ and ‘Anonymous’ can get nominations, so really, anything is possible.
This year there are a slew of lavish period films in contention, but all of them cannot be nominated.  I think there are two rather obvious nominees here, and at the end of the day I suspect the win will fall between the two of them.  I mean, just look at them.
 
 
 
 



 

 
After that, it can get a little tricky.  A film like Django Unchained looked really baity here in the first few still, so it could easily factor in.  It has the prestige and the period detail needed to make it stand out.  The Master also looks really well dressed, but maybe a tad too reserved.  This category usually goes for the outrageous or at least the beautifully decorated.  Argo and Lincoln are tough ones because if they truly take off with Oscar in a large way I can see them getting in here, especially Argo which has a more colorful and fun decade to play with, and the costumes look authentic (think ‘Milk’).  ‘Lincoln’ looks good as well, but possibly a tad drab. 
A lot of people have faith in ‘Mirror, Mirror’ pulling off a posthumous nomination here, but I’m skeptical.  I mean, sure it is pretty and has some stunning (and witty) costume design, but is anyone really going to remember this movie come Oscar time?  Does anyone remember it now?  The movie was so terrible!  I’d actually have more faith in ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ here, since the film was taken more seriously (albeit not much) was released later in the year and is also a serious candidate in another category (Visual Effects).  Besides, the costumes were better, in my opinion.
There are a lot of people who want something near impossible to happen here, and that is for a Wes Anderson film to finally be recognized.  I have yet to see ‘Moonrise Kingdom’, but these costumes look fabulous, and I’ve often nominated Anderson’s films at the Fistis, so I’m all for it.





 
One that I’m betting on at the moment, which is kind of a gut feeling at the moment, is ‘Cloud Atlas’.  The film looks to be rather divisive, but that has never been an issue in this category, and the extensive lavishness and period detail that is all over the place here (past, present, future) is pretty impressive.  I’m thinking that it sneaks in after some strong guild support and maybe even a win here or there.
1)      Anna Karenina
2)      Les Miserables
3)      Argo
4)      Cloud Atlas
5)      Django Unchained