Monday, December 27, 2010

Wow, a regularly updated blog

What a concept! I'm working on my year-end wrap up, but I'm hoping to catch 3 more oscar bait films before I settle on my rankings. Until then, enjoy a few odds and ends:

Will Studios Really Learn from the Flops of 2010?

10 Most Beautiful Films of 2010 I want to see Sweetgrass and I agree with Never Let Me Go. However, I'd throw in a lot of the Oscar contenders (Black Swan, Social Network, Inception) and Harry Potter 7. And TRON (it's so shiny!)

Bad science in movies

Is Netflix screwing itself over by focusing on streaming? Well, seeing as my DVD queue has 500 things on it and my instant queue has 275, I'd say yes. At least until the options for streaming are as plentiful, and given the access fees I don't see that happening.

Jon Stewart as Edward R. Murrow
? I feel it overstates his impact, but I liked this; "He so pithily articulated the argument that once it was made, it was really hard to do anything else."

I totally want a skull business card holder now.

Best/Worst in Sci-Fi and Fantasy films of 2010. Love the Crazies and Predators love.

Winter's Bone and the Rural Noir

Speaking of actresses this year

What were your favorite movie scenes of 2010? I agree with the Black Swan dance, the opening of the Social Network, and the hallway fight in Inception. Also the Three Brothers sequence in Harry Potter. And one of my absolute favorites would be Lisbeth's moment of triumph in the courtroom in the Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

THIS is interesting for two reasons. 1 - because it is an interesting analysis and article in its own right and 2 - because the bottom infographic confirms something I had thought for awhile now. Look at what a TINY percentage Blu-ray sales make up compared to DVDs. And now look at this. 5 DVD deals to 15 Blu-ray deals. Okay - maybe the blu-ray deals are because they were too bullish about production. But, man, I want the sales focus to remain on what I actually might buy!

The Daily Mail's Blockbuster Quiz! I got 26.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas!

3 things:

1 - I never listened to the "official" world cup anthem, Waka waka, because a) I wasn't sure why Shakira was singing the anthem for the first African cup and b) it's called waka waka. BUT! I just found out that it is technically Shakira ft. Freshlyground. I saw Freshlyground play at Kirstenbosch my first month living in Cape Town. They are amazing. Waka waka is a ridiculous song, but I highly recommend checking out some of freshlyground's other songs.

2 - TIFF has put out a list of their 100 Essential Films. Check it out. (I only have 74 more to see!)

3 - this made me laugh

The best year end list

Now that my life has settled (for the moment - thank you vacation!), I've been hyperactively scanning the year-end nominations and awards. I'm not going to bother to post and comment on most individual kudos here (it's mostly been a clean sweep for the Social Network, with one or two bones thrown to Black Swan and Winter's Bone). However, each year there is one list I eagerly anticipate; the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, because they have the best categories - even if they don't necessarily help predict the eventual nominees or winners.

Before I repost the nominations, it did also make me think of one other thing. Let's say the best picture nominees for this year shake out in some combination of these 15 films: Social Network, Black Swan, Winter's Bone, Kids are All Right, King's Speech, Blue Valentine, 127 Hours, Fighter, Another Year, Inception, Toy Story 3, True Grit, the Town, Rabbit Hole, Ghost Writer. (Quick digression; whatever happened to The Way Back?).

Of those 15 films, 6 are led by actress performances (Black Swan, Winter's Bone, Kids are All Right, Rabbit Hole, Another Year, Blue Valentine). And True Grit and the Fighter are both there in large part due to supporting actress performances.

Compare that to last year. Three films with a lead actress (An Education, the Blind Side and Push) and one with supporting actresses (Up in the Air). (I'm not including Avatar in that second category, because Zoe Saldana was not what got it a best picture nomination).

Go back further: 2009 - 1 lead, 2007 - 2 leads, 2006 - 1 lead, maybe 2 supporting, 2005 - 0 leads, 1 supporting, 2004 - 2 leads, 1 supporting, 2003 - 1 lead, 2002 - 2 leads, 2001 - 1 lead, 3 supporting, 2000 - 3 leads.

What I'm saying is; this has been a surprisingly good year for actresses.

Onto the AWFJ list. I'm including a few of their bigger nominations, and all the fun ones:

Listed by category and in alphabetical order, the nominees are:

Best Film:
•Black Swan
•The King’s Speech
•The Social Network
•Winter’s Bone

Best Actress:
•Annette Bening - The Kids Are All Right
•Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole
•Jennifer Lawrence - Winter’s Bone
•Lesley Manville - Another Year
•Natalie Portman - Black Swan
•Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
•Amy Adams - The Fighter
•Helena Bonham-Carter - The King’s Speech
•Melissa Leo - The Fighter
•Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit
•Jacki Weaver - Animal Kingdom

Best Ensemble Cast:
•The Fighter
•The Kids Are All Right
•The King’s Speech
•The Social Network
•Winter’s Bone

[Ed. note - The Fighter, Social Network and Winter's Bone are all great ensembles. I keep going back and forth with each one. The Fighter is most likely to see all the supporting cast eventually recognized, Winter's Bone boils down to three unforgettable performances (hopefully 2 will be recognized), with several excellent smaller parts, and Social Network has 3 great supporting parts, only 1 or 2 of which will be recognized. I think with that shake out, I go for Winter's Bone. Then again, I just saw the ensemble list for King's Speech (which I haven't seen yet), and it has some of my all time FAVORITE British (and Aussie) actors in it. Derek Jacobi! Guy Pearce! Timothy Spalls! ANTHONY ANDREWS - WHEN DID YOU COME OUT OF RETIREMENT?!? So I guess what I'm saying is, my opinion could change. Again. Some more. ]

Most Beautiful Film:
•Black Swan
•I Am Love
•Never Let Me Go
•True Grit

[Ed. note - I love this category. We should so, so include this at the Oscars. I also love the inclusion of Never Let Me Go here.]

Best Cinematography:
•Black Swan - Matthew Libatique
•Inception - Wally Pfister
•The Social Network - Jeff Cronenweth
•True Grit - Roger Deakins
•Winter’s Bone - Michael McDonough

[Ed note - of course Roger Deakins did True Grit. One more reason to go see it. I think this is a great group. I'd like to see Wally Pfister win something - he's been so good for so long. And every year, cinematography awards make me sad that there are practically no women in the field.]

Best Film Music Or Score:
•127 Hours - A.R. Rahman
•Black Swan - Clint Mansell
•Inception - Hans Zimmer
•The Social Network - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
•True Grit - Carter Burwell

[Ed. note - awww.... where's Daft Punk? I'll pick Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross in the meantime.]

Best Non-English-Language Film:
•Applause - Martin Zandvliet, Denmark
•Biutiful - Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mexico/Spain
•Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Niels Arden Oplev, Denmark
•I Am Love - Luca Guadagnino, Italy
•Mother - Joon-ho Bong, South Korea
•Un Prophet - Jacques Audiard, France/Italy

[Ed. note - no Uncle Boonmee? Also - I really fell down on my foreign film watching this year. I need to get on some of these. Also also - I'm glad lots of people are including A Prophet in their lists, but it screws with predictions, since it was nominated for the Oscar last year.]

Best Woman Director:
•Andrea Arnold - Fish Tank
•Lisa Cholodenko - The Kids Are All Right
•Sofia Coppola - Somewhere
•Debra Granik - Winter’s Bone
•Nicole Holofcener - Please Give

[Ed. note - Fish Tank!!! Or Winter's Bone.]

Best Woman Screenwriter:
•Andrea Arnold - Fish Tank
•Lisa Cholodenko - The Kids Are All Right
•Sofia Coppola - Somewhere
•Debra Granik - Winter’s Bone
•Nicole Holofcener - Please Give
•Laeta Kalogridis - Shutter Island

Best Female Action Star:
•Angelina Jolie - Salt
•Helen Mirren - Red
•Chloe Moretz - Kick-Ass
•Noomi Rapace - Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
•Hailee Steinfeld - Ture Grit

[Ed. note - Love the category. Noomi Rapace ftw.]

Best Animated Female:
•Astrid - How To Train Your Dragon
•Barbie - Toy Story 3
•Jessie - Toy Story 3
•Margo, Edith and Agnes - Despicable Me
•Mother Gothel - Tangled
•Rapunzel - Tangled

Best Breakthrough Performance:
•Lena Dunham - Tiny Furniture
•Jennifer Lawrence - Winter’s Bone
•Chloe Moretz - Kick-Ass
•Noomi Rapace - Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
•Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit

[Ed. note - WOW. What a tough category! Lena broke into Hollywood, which is a big deal. But Noomi and Jennifer came closest to breaking into mainstream American success. Since Jennifer is up for best actress, I'll pick Noomi here.]

Women’s Image Award
•Annette Bening - The Kids Are All Right
•Sally Hawkins - Made In Dagenham
•Helen Mirren - Red
•Noomi Rapace - Girl With The Dragon Tatoo
•Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit

Perseverance Award:
•Lisa Cholodenko
•Melissa Leo
•Joan Rivers
•Winona Ryder

[Ed. note - CHER. Cher cher cher cher cher. Obviously. And it makes me a little sad to see Winona on this list.]

Actress Defying Age and Ageism:
•Annette Bening
•Patricia Clarkson
•Melissa Leo
•Helen Mirren
•Julianne Moore

Sexist Pig Award:
•Michael Bay
•Mel Gibson
•Michael Patrick King
•Michael Winterbottom
•Mark Zuckerberg (the character in The Social Network)

[Ed. note - Snort.]

This Year’s Outstanding Achievement By A Woman In The Film Industry:
•Lisa Cholodenko for The Kids Are All Right
•Lena Dunham for Tiny Furniture
•Debra Granik for Winter’s Bone
•Tanya Hamilton for Night Catches Us
•Helen Mirren for opening five movies in the US

[Ed. note - I hope I have that much energy at 74.]

Lifetime Achievement Award:
•Annette Bening
•Ruby Dee
•Claire Denis
•Helen Mirren
•Julie Taymor

AWFJ Award For Humanitarian Activism:
•Sandra Bullock
•Angelina Jolie
•Sean Penn
•Oprah Winfrey

AWFJ Hall Of Shame Award:
•Jackass 3D
•Jonah Hex
•Mel Gibson
•Sex and The City 2, Michael Patrick King, Sarah Jessica Parker, cast and crew
•Valentine’s Day and Garry Marshall

[Ed. note - Sex and the City! No, Valentine's Day!]

Actress Most in Need Of A New Agent:
•Jennifer Aniston
•Halle Berry
•Katherine Heigl
•Sarah Jessica Parker
•Reese Witherspoon

[Ed. note - is Jennifer Aniston ever not included in this category? Also, allow Katherine Heigl to strangle herself on her own bad decisions, realize Sarah Jessica Parker has pretty much nothing left, and give this one to Reese Witherspoon - the one with the greatest potential of a continuing career.]

Movie You Wanted To Love But Just Couldn‘t:
•Black Swan
•For Colored Girls
•The Social Network
•Waiting For Superman

[Ed. note - wait, how can you include Black Swan, Inception, and Social Network when they are up for Best Picture? Doesn't that mean you love them? I could see For Colored Girls easily in this category, but obviously for me, it's Conviction, hands down. *sigh*]

Unforgettable Moment Award: [ED. NOTE: SPOILERS!!!!!]
•127 Hours - Aron Ralston (James Franco) cuts off his arm.
•Black Swan - Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) sprouts black wings and final dance performance.
•Inception - Paris folds in on itself
•The Kids Are All Right - Nic (Annette Bening) finds out that Jules (Julianne Moore) is cheating.
•Winter’s Bone - Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) cuts off her dead father’s hands with a chain saw.

[Ed. note - I'm going to go with Black Swan on this one. That performance was indelible.]

Best Depiction Of Nudity, Sexuality, or Seduction:
•Black Swan
•Blue Valentine
•I Am Love
•The Kids Are All Right

[Ed. note - not having seen it yet, I'm going to guess Blue Valentine wins this one.]

Sequel That Shouldn’t Have Been Made Award:
•Iron Man 2
•Little Fockers
•Sex and The City 2
•TRON: Legacy
•Wall Street 2

[Ed. note - Well, Iron Man 2 wins the "Sequel That Should Have Been Better" award and TRON wins "Sequel That Shouldn't Have Been A Sequel". I'd say Sex and the City wins, with Little Fockers in hot pursuit.]

The Remake That Shouldn’t Have Been Made Award:
•Clash of the Titans
•Death At a Funeral
•Let Me In
•Robin Hood

ROBIN HOOD! ROBIN HOOD! ROBIN HOOD! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! (scroll down for Cleolinda's rant.)

Cultural Crossover Award:
•Four Lions
•Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
•The Kids Are All Right
•Waste Land

Bravest Performance Award:
•Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All Right
•James Franco in 127 Hours
•Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass
•Natalie Portman in Black Swan
•Paprika Steen in Applause

Most Egregious Age Difference Between The Leading Man and The Love Interest Award:
•Barney’s Version - Paul Giamatti and Rosamund Pike (12 years)
•Company Men - Tommy Lee Jones and Maria Bello (21 years)
•Machete - Danny Trejo and Jessica Alba (37 years)
•Solitary Man - Michael Douglas and Imogen Poots (45 years)
•You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger - Anthony Hopkins and Lucy Punch (40 years)

Friday, December 24, 2010

December means list time!

Probably my favorite year-end list; The AV Club's Best Films of 2010. Not only is it an interesting list, but be sure to check out page 2, which compiles the individual ballots, complete with categories like the next 5 (with descriptions), overrated, and guilty pleasure.

60 Women Who Define the Year of the Actress.

The 10 Most Overrated Movies of 2010. I completely agree with Shutter Island, Toy Story 3 (those "For Your Consideration" ads are unbelievably nauseating), and I've heard it is true for the Kids Are All Right. Hey, though, I liked Kick Ass! And I still plan on seeing Monsters and 127 Hours.

Poorly Reviewed Films that Deserve Another Chance. Well, I want to see Agora...

Christmas Gifts for Movie Lovers, Bechdel-Style. *sigh* It shouldn't be this hard to come up with 14 films.

The Alternative Awards: Supporting Actresses. I actually really like the Juliette Lewis suggestion. She makes an indelible impact with very little screen time.

Unmerriest Christmas Moments.

Not a list, but interesting in the midst of the awards race, Do the Oscars Have a Double Standard on Horror?

The Alternative Awards: Screenplays. Yay Fish Tank!

What Happens when Americans Travel Overseas... In the Movies?

The Film Society of Lincoln Center's top 50. Fun fact! I've seen 8. Gah. And the unreleased list is just cruel.

Weirdest Holiday art.

The indieWire Critic's Poll, which compiles 125 film critic and blogger opinions. (I've seen 12 of the top 50 here - yay Marwencol!). I also love that Michael Fassbender came in third for supporting performance behind John Hawkes (yay!) and Christian Bale.

The Ten Best Films of 2010, in quiz form!

The 35 Funniest Quotes of 2010.

25 best performances that won't win oscars. Here's to Jim Carrey (I Love You, Philip Morris), Dale Dickey (Winter's Bone), Katie Jarvis (Fish Tank), and Brendan Gleeson (Perrier's Bounty)!

The best movies about theater.

The Weekend Warrior's Top 25. Lots of great picks, and some fun cheating.

The NYT's 3: Manohla Dargis, A. O. Scott, and Stephen Holden.

And John Water's list.

15 TRON Easter Eggs.

The 10 best Scrooges. Um. This writer is on crack.

The Best Geek Outs of 2010. Wow. All of these, except for Fringe and the video games.

The best theater
. *sigh* This is when I miss living in New York.

The best TV character deaths. (spoilers. Obvs.)

8 of the Naughtiest TV Characters of the year. Love the top 2.

This is not a list, but I really liked it: 3 Minutes on 3 Brothers. Oh, and here is King George IV actually speaking, pre-therapy.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

TRON review and update

My internet has been pretty sketchy since getting home, so I'm blaming my lack of a Black Swan review on that. Suffice to say, I really loved it and I highly recommend it. 5/5 stars.

I'd also love to do a comprehensive round up of year-end lists, but we shall see if I get the chance.

So: onto TRON.

To preface my review, I need to say that I've never seen the original Tron. Perhaps those who have would enjoy the film more.

Overall, I'm glad I saw it on the big screen (we opted for IMAX 3-d), but the film had a lot of problems. Like, a LOT of problems. Here are my thoughts:

The good:
-Unexpected Cillian Murphy is unexpected.
-The score is fantastic. I really, really loved it and it was probably the best part of the film. Now, I don't know that I'd pick it over The Social Network, but.... maybe.
-I adore Michael Sheen. His Ziggy Stardust was easily the most entertaining character of the entire film. He had more energy in his performance than everyone else combined.
-I also really liked seeing James Frain, but possibly because every time he came on screen, I thought of this.
-The 3-D was the best that I've seen. There was no weird after-image, no headache. It worked beautifully.
-The production design. It's so shiny!

The bad:
-The plot points weren't just foreshadowed, they were lit up in GIANT NEON SIGNS.
-Seriously, the entire thing was SO predictable. I get that they were on the hook for $250 million, so I guess they decided to make the plot comprehensible to the lowest common denominator of American audiences in the hopes of making the money back. Too bad it ended up coming out after Inception.
-Clu worked occasionally, since he was supposed to be a computer program. But next to real actors and depending on how good the animation was, he often didn't. And every flashback to young Kevin Flynn did not work.

The ugly:
This is really two things, which both stem from one massive error; the techno babble and the second half of the film. The mistake is this: making this film a sequel.

Let me explain. I did not understand what the hell the characters were on about for most of the film. In fact, I really, REALLY would have rather seen this as a silent film. I think it would have worked better. Now, possibly this comes from my not having seen the original movie, but that describes a lot of the potential audience for this one, since the original TRON isn't accessible.

And since I didn't get a lot of the techno babble, the stakes never seemed very high to me. The early disc battle and light cycle races? Awesome. Predictable, sure, but visually cool and fun, and I got that Sam was playing to survive. Programs being reassembled into army programs to escape and slaughtering - I don't know nanotrons or something? I just don't care. Furthermore, I just didn't get the programs. We see them at a club at one point, but I don't really get what they go around doing. Why were some of them picked up early on? Why was one drinking in an alley? What is life on the grid like? We're given this whole world that then never gets explored, so how am I supposed to care about it?

Furthermore - Sam, who was seemingly our protagonist in the first half of the film, is given almost nothing to do after he leaves Castor's club. That was the point at which the film stopped working for me. The writers seem so excited to have had Jeff Bridges, that they focus on him, and the emotional empathy the audience had built up for Sam is sort of left hanging. He really needed to have a larger part towards the end. I don't know what Kevin was like in the first film, so I don't really care if he gets out of the grid or not. Or perhaps I didn't care since I knew EXACTLY WHAT WOULD HAPPEN about an hour and a half before it finally did.

Really, I wish they had taken the idea of Tron - the cool visuals and whatnot - and made an original film. The script may have been less predictable, they wouldn't have been constrained by the logic of the first film, and we would have been given the opportunity to focus on Sam and Quorra. We could have explored the grid through Sam's eyes as he tries to get back to the portal or something. You could even let Kevin pop up in a cameo, just don't end up focusing the film on him. I'd rather go watch the Big Lebowski.

So - should you see it? It depends on your thoughts on Avatar. It's basically the same. Amazing to see visually, but the story sucks. The first hour is fun. And if the spectacle is worth $20 to you, go see it. Unlike the Spiderman musical, no one's going to get hurt.

2/5 stars.

Update: in talking it over with a friend, he reminded me of a couple of things. 1 - Tron's change to bad and back again was given serious short shrift. What happened with him exactly? and 2 - I really hoped Cillian's cameo was to set him up as a villain in a future sequel. A sequel with a more original and interesting plot.

Friday, December 17, 2010

SAG noms, redux

And the tv nominations:

Best Ensemble (Drama): Boardwalk Empire, The Closer, Dexter, The Good Wife and Mad Men.

I'm going for Dexter on this one, since Breaking Bad is oddly absent (what is UP with the total lack of love for Emmy winner Aaron Paul... hmmmm? First the Globes TOTALLY OVERLOOK HIM and now this. Sheesh.)

(I'm also a little annoyed, because I went to watch Dexter on the plane, thinking it was the season finale, and... nope. It was the penultimate episode. So, I'm on a cliff hanger, and the internet here is so molasses slow I haven't been able to watch the finale. I can't watch anything on Hulu, either, and I'm majorly behind on Burn Notice and Glee. My life is so hard.)

Best Male Actor (Drama Series): Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Michael C Hall (Dexter) , Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Hugh Laurie (House)

OH HEY LOOK THEY HAVE SEEN BREAKING BAD. Harumph. I think I might pick Michael C Hall for season 6 of Dexter over Bryan Cranston for season 3 of Breaking Bad (is that what is up, here? Do they nominate individual episodes?) I think Dexter's personal arc this season has been fascinating and surprising. Bryan Cranston is always interesting and compulsively watchable, but I don't know that his character was as surprising this season as he was in season 2. Then again, will there ever be a moment as shocking as with Jane again on that show? (OH RIGHT, JESSE AND GALE).

Best Female Actor (Drama Series): Glenn Close (Damages), Mariska Hargitay (L&O: SVU) , Julianna Marguiles (The Good Wife), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)

I'll go with Mariska Hargitay on this one. Since Christopher Meloni never gets nominated.

Best Ensemble (Comedy): 30 Rock, Glee, Hot in Cleveland, Modern Family, the Office

For entire ensemble? I'd say the Office. That has a lot of supporting players who are key to the show continuing to entertain this far into its run. I'd be okay with Glee or 30 Rock though.

Best Male Actor (Comedy): Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), Ty Burrell (Modern Family), Steve Carell (the Office), Chris Colfer (Glee), Ed O'Neil (Modern Family)

Yay Chris Colfer! It really has been his show so far this season, hasn't it? I'm glad they are recognizing him.

Best Female Actor (Comedy): Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Tina Fey (30 Rock), Jane Lynch (Glee), Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), Betty White (Hot in Cleveland)

Enough already for the Betty White frenzy. What the Hell? I'll vote for Tina Fey on this one.

Best Male Actor (Miniseries/Movie): John Goodman (You Don’t Know Jack), Al Pacino (You Don’t Know Jack), Dennis Quaid (That Special Relationship), Edgar Ramirez (Carlos) and Patrick Stewart (Macbeth)

Aww... John Goodman and Patrick Stewart! I think Al Pacino has this one wrapped up, though. And I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If Edgar Ramirez can be up here for Carlos, then Andrew Garfield should be up for Red Riding.

Best Female Actor (Miniseries/Movie): Claire Danes (Temple Grandin), Catherine O’Hara (Temple Grandin), Julia Ormond (Temple Grandin), Winona Ryder (When Love is Not Enough), and Susan Sarandon (You Don’t Know Jack)

Winona what now? Has anyone heard of that?

And why don't miniseries get best ensemble?

Another Day, another...

move cross-country. That's right, coming at you from foggy Pacifica, CA, it's.... your overdue news roundup!

First off, and very excitingly, I'm ranked 8th for the winter competition in my box office game (and still in the top 50 overall). I rule.

Secondly, and I will try to write this up in an actual, official way, but Black Swan is incredible. I really, really loved it.

And, the most important news of the day... the SAG noms!

Best Ensemble: Black Swan, The Fighter, The Kids are All Right, The King's Speech, The Social Network.

Definitely going to be rooting for the Fighter and the Social Network in this one.

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Robert Duvall (Get Low), Jesse Eisenberg (the Social Network), Colin Firth (The King's Speech), James Franco (127 Hours).

Hmm... no Ryan Gosling or Mark Wahlberg. But also no Johnny Depp.

Best Actress: Annette Bening (Kids Are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Hilary Swank (Conviction).

Wow. Hilary Swank must have the best awards publicist in the biz. Either that, or the guild perversely wants to watch her lose to Annette Bening. Thrilled with the other 3 (I would've put Michelle Williams in over Hilary Swank). I'm glad Nicole Kidman is being welcomed back into critical acclaim now that her forehead moves again. I hope that serves as a life lesson to other actresses.

Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (the Fighter), John Hawkes (Winter's Bone), Jeremy Renner (The Town), Mark Ruffalo (Kids Are All Right), Geoffrey Rush (King's Speech).

THRILLED with John Hawkes being included. He so, so, so deserves it. Jeremy Renner over Andrew Garfield? Was he that much fun to be around last year? What?

Supporting Actress: Amy Adams (the Fighter), Helena Bonham Carter (King's Speech), Mila Kunis (Black Swan), Melissa Leo (the Fighter), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)

Hmmm... the True Grit love pushes Jacki Weaver out. Interesting.

To keep this from getting too long, I'm going to put the SAG tv noms in another post.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Weight Loss and GG noms...

I'm posting this in its own entry because I found it a really well thought out piece looking at the differences in coverage between Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman in Black Swan and Christian Bale in the Fighter. Maybe he isn't being judged as harshly because thank god he didn't go to Machinist levels of extremism again? Then again, I couldn't help but think of the process Natalie Portman herself went through while preparing for the role of Nina and wondering if her own path had any similar echoes of Nina's.

I think pointing out how easily ballet becomes a horror film is worth noting, too.

Monday Morning Discussion: Christian Bale, Natalie Portman and the Body Image Debate

GG Noms!

Right. I haven't been updating with all the Critics lists that have been coming out, since I'm just so swamped, but Social Network has been leading the way, except the Critics Choice, where Black Swan received a record number of nominations.

But, let us set aside these lists for now and look at the just released Golden Globe nominations:

Best Picture — Drama
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

Pretty much what you would expect. Having seen 4 of these, I think they are good picks. (Yes, I will probably see the King's Speech, too...)

Best Picture — Musical or Comedy
Alice in Wonderland
The Kids Are All Right
The Tourist

Wow. The start of the shocking amount of love for the Tourist. Is it because it was filmed in Venice? Probably. Hollywood Foreign Press, you so crazy. I like the inclusion of Red, which is surprising, and calling The Kids Are All Right a comedy gets it included, I guess.

Best Actor — Drama
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine
Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter

Solid. And I am THRILLED Ryan Gosling is up for Blue Valentine. He really needed this to stay alive in the Oscar race. Happy to see Mark Wahlberg and Jesse Eisenberg in there. I have yet to see 127 hours, but I assume that is a good pick and we already knew Colin Firth would be up.

Best Actress — Drama
Halle Berry, Frankie and Alice
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Huh - Halle Berry managed to get herself in there. Interesting. Thrilled with the other 4, although I have only seen Jennifer Lawrence and Natalie Portman so far.

Best Actor — Musical or Comedy
Johnny Depp, Alice in Wonderland
Johnny Depp, The Tourist
Paul Giamatti, Barney’s Version
Jake Gyllenhaal, Love and Other Drugs
Kevin Spacey, Casino Jack

And then we get to a category like this. WTF? Look, I love Johnny Depp. He has done phenomenal, interesting work over the years. But I'm not sure there was enough of a performance under all the makeup and crazy in Alice in Wonderland, and almost no one has had good things to say about the Tourist. Pleasantly surprised to see the other 3, but let's face it. None of these performances hold a candle to the next 5 actors who would be up in the drama category (say, Jeff Bridges, Robert Duvall, Javier Bardem, Ryan Reynolds (yes, I'm being serious), and Andrew Garfield (he should be up for Red Riding!). How about Leonardo DiCaprio for Inception? Jim Broadbent for Another Year?) Sometimes the comedy/musical category is a good way to highlight performances that are too far out of mainstream drama to receive Oscar consideration (see: Richard Gere, Gene Hackman, Jim Carrey). And sometimes you have this year.

Best Actress — Musical or Comedy
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs
Angelina Jolie, The Tourist
Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right
Emma Stone, Easy A

Hey look, the one time Julianne Moore will get included with Annette Bening. Anne Hathaway and Emma Stone are good picks. Could we not have recognized Angelina for, say, A Mighty Heart? What is this Tourist crap?

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Michael Douglas, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Pretty solid, although Michael Douglas feels like a pity inclusion. (sorry. I feel bad saying that.) Christian Bale and Andrew Garfield are a tough choice. They are both so good. For individual roles, Bale might have the edge, but seeing as Garfield has been in 3 excellent performances this year, he'll have the edge if they go with body of work. I heard good things about Jeremy Renner in the Town, so it's nice to see him, although I'm disappointed John Hawkes didn't make it (not surprising, but it would have been nice.) I wonder if this puts a nail in Armie Hammer's campaigning? (I mean, I doubt it'll stop Justin Timberlake from dreaming).

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
Mila Kunis, Black Swan
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Wow, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. The whole Fighter cast gets recognized! You get a nomination! You... okay. I'm done. Thrilled to see Jacki Weaver pull through, and the other 2 are pretty expected (good for Mila Kunis!) I suppose the exclusions here are Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, and possibly Hailee Steinfeld. (Did the HFPA see True Grit?)

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

That's pretty solid. I'd rather have Danny Boyle than Tom Hooper, but oh well.

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

Yup. Pretty much what you'd expect.

Best Original Song
“Bound to You,” Burlesque (performed by Christina Aguilera; written by Samuel Dixon, Christina Aguilera and Sia Furler)
“Coming Home,” Country Strong (performed by Gwyneth Paltrow; written by Bob PiPiero, Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges)
“I See the Light,” Tangled (performed by Mandy Moore & Zachary Levi; written by Alan Menken & Glenn Slater)
“There’s a Place For Us,” The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (performed by Carrie Underwood; written by Carrie Underwood, David Hodges, Hillary Lindsey)
“You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me Yet,” Burlesque (performed by Cher; written by Diane Warren)

Okay. I don't know. Despite the glitter and lashes, I haven't seen Burlesque.

Best Original Score
Inception, Hans Zimmer
The King’s Speech, Alexandre Desplat
The Social Network, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Alice in Wonderland,
Danny Elfman
127 Hours, A.R. Rahman

Yay Trent Reznor.

Best Foreign Language Film
The Concert
The Edge
I Am Love
In a Better World

The Concert - really? Out of all the foreign films out there, we're going with that?

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

Please let the Illusionist upset Toy Story.


Best TV Series — Drama
Boardwalk Empire
The Good Wife
Mad Men
The Walking Dead

Yay Dexter and the Walking Dead.

Best TV Series — Musical or Comedy
30 Rock
The Big Bang Theory
The Big C
Modern Family
Nurse Jackie

Meh. And really, there isn't much else going on here that hasn't been mostly covered by the emmys, so I don't really care until the night when I'll root for my faves.

Best Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie
The Pacific
The Pillars of the Earth
Temple Grandin
You Don’t Know Jack

Best Actor — Drama
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House M.D.

Best Actress — Drama
Elizabeth Moss, Mad Men
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Piper Perabo, Covert Affairs
Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Best Actor — Musical or Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Thomas Jane, Hung
Matthew Morrison, Glee
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Best Actress — Musical or Comedy
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Laura Linney, The Big C
Lea Michele, Glee

Best Actor — Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie
Idris Elba, Luther
Ian McShane, Pillars of the Earth
Al Pacino, You Don’t Know Jack
Dennis Quaid, The Special Relationship
Edgar Ramirez, Carlos

Wait a minute. I'm confused. We're putting Carlos here? Because if so, where the fuck is Red Riding?

Best Actress — Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie
Hayley Atwell, Pillars of the Earth
Claire Danes, Temple Grandin
Judi Dench, Return to Cranford
Romola Garai, Emma
Jennifer Love Hewitt, The Client List

Best Supporting Actor in TV Series, Mini-Series, or Made-for-TV Movie
Scott Caan, Hawaii Five-0
Chris Colfer, Glee
Chris Noth, The Good Wife
David Strathairn, Temple Grandin
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

Best Supporting Actress in TV Series, Mini-Series, or Made-for-TV Movie
Hope Davis, The Special Relationship
Jane Lynch, Glee
Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire
Julia Stiles, Dexter
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

Yay Julia Styles!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2010 Holiday mixes

A few notes on these:
- Usually I try to ensure that the majority of the songs on my holiday mixes come from the year they were made (or the very end of the year before). I didn't for 2010. I ended up listening to a lot of stuff this year that I hadn't discovered before. So I figure that maybe other people haven't discovered some of these either.
-After last year's rock-centric mixes, I went for a lot more dancy music this year.
-There's a running theme in these. 10 points to whoever gets it. ;)

Disc 1
Zero - Yeah Yeah Yeahs Aaaaah - I love this song SO MUCH. I've listened to it practically non-stop all year.
Lovesick Teenagers - Bear in Heaven
Satellite Mind - Metric My favorite new band. Their whole album is fabulous. Check it out.
Lonely for a Lifetime - Dana Fuchs I know. I put one of her songs on last year. But this one is awesome, too.
Percussion Gun - White Rabbits (thanks, Lindsay!)
Underdog - Kasabian
Bloodbuzz Ohio - The National I think this song is perfect.
Pretty Horses - Shirley Manson Another unreleased demo. Unfinished, but gorgeous.
Ill Lit Ships - Blaqk Audio I have no idea if this will be on the forthcoming album, but it leaked (?) earlier in the year
The Mission (M is for Milla Mix) - Puscifer
Glitter Freeze ft. Mark E. Smith - Gorillaz
F**k You - Cee Lo Green
Save Me San Francisco - Train
Kick Ass - Mika I totally understand if Mika isn't your thing, but it makes me happy.
Boom Swagger Boom - Murder City Devils (thanks, Allie!)
Write About Love ft. Carey Mulligan - Belle and Sebastian
Cold War - Janelle Monae So fabulous. The video for this is amazing, too.
Love the Way You Lie ft. Rihanna - Eminem I fall into the 'loving the video' camp for this one, too.
Nothing Else Matters - Metallica & the San Francisco Symphony SO GOOD. I haven't been able to stop listening to this one for months, either.
Jack the Ripper - AFI A Morrisey cover that I (somehow, surprisingly) never heard until this year.
Don't Stop Believing (Giants 2010) - Ashkon WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! Am I over the Giants winning the World Series? Nope, not yet. Probably not ever.
Foxglove - Murder by Death I adore the cellos in this.
Lights - Journey What?

Disc 2 (Electric Boogaloo)
The leftovers.
Still tasty.
The Station - Richie Cunning I love his whole album. It's well worth checking out.
Black & Orange - Bailey Hey? Guess what? The Giants won the World Series! (And the Padres traded Adrian Gonzalez. SUCK IT, PADRES!)
Stupid Girls, Holla if You Hear Me - Garbage vs. 2Pac This is wonderful and makes me really happy.
Only Girl (In the World) - Rihanna
Raise Your Glass - Pink
Feel it in My Bones ft. Tegan and Sara - Tiesto This one got stuck in my brain for, oh, about all of April.
Indestructible - Robyn I've listened to Dancing on My Own more this year, but I'm really into this one right now, and it's more upbeat.
Androgyny (Lee Hermaphrodite Mix) - Garbage This one is not new - I've loved this mix for years, but I could only ever find it as a video on youtube. Anyways, I finally managed to find an MP3 this year, which made me extremely happy.
Acapella (Guetta Extended Mix) - Kelis Awww.... how romantic is this song?
Sex and Violence - Scissor Sisters (I really enjoy the juxtaposition of this one next to Kelis)
Dance the Way I Feel - Ou Est le Swimming Pool
Bay Area Slang Top 100 (The Grinch song) - Rafael Casal This song makes me laugh. Watch the video for the translations.
Don't Make Me Wait - Locksley (thanks, Emily!)
Paris (Ooh La La) - Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
The Boxer - The Gaslight Anthem
Yeah Yeah Yeah - New Politics
Lust for Life - Girls
Laredo - Band of Horses
The Strums - The Dodos (thanks, Chris!)
It's Working - MGMT
100,000 Fireflies - The Magnetic Fields
Never Forget You - The Noisettes
Addicted to Love - Florence & the Machine
The King and All of His Men - Wolf Gang
Rulers, Ruling All Things - Midlake
Babelonia - School of Seven Bells Lindsay also introduced me to this band. Good stuff.
Evelyn, Evelyn - Evelyn Evelyn I saw Evelyn Evelyn perform back in April and they were awesome. I can say that hands down it was one of the most fun shows I've been to. I'm posting their biography below, because they are remarkable. (You can also check out this other great song here. I think that's the back of my head on the bottom left.)
Hand Covers Bruise - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network soundtrack). This is one of the first soundtracks I've downloaded in a while, but I really, really like it. Also - if you haven't seen the film, you really, really should.

The Evelyn Evelyn Biography:
"LYN and EVA NEVILLE are a songwriting duo performing original compositions on piano, ukulele, guitar and accordion. The sisters are parapagus tripus dibrachius twins, sharing three legs, two arms, three lungs, two hearts and a single liver.

Born September 11, 1985 on a small farm on the Kansas-Colorado border, the Evelyns have traveled the greater part of North America performing with “Dillard & Fullerton’s Illusive Traveling Show”.

Their unique musical style is inspired by their many eclectic influences - from 80's music to showtunes, Joy Division to the Andrews Sisters.

The sisters currently reside in Walla Walla, Washington. They are fluent in chicken and their favorite colors are purple and yellow."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Fighter

I got a chance to see a preview screening of the Fighter last night. It's really good, and I bet it will land a best picture nod easily.

The film is based on the true story of Micky Ward (played by Mark Wahlberg), a boxer from Lowell, Mass. Micky's older brother, Dickie (Christian Bale), had once been a promising up-and-coming boxer, but he blew his chances, became addicted to crack and he is Micky's trainer. Their mother (Melissa Leo) manages Micky.

It quickly becomes apparent that although the family is now relying on Micky's talents as a boxer, they don't have his best interests at heart. He is sent into unfair fights simply to get paid (not win) and his chance at an actual boxing career is slipping away. Then he meets Charlene, a bartender and college drop out. Unlike Dickie, she puts Micky's career first and starts to help him distance himself from his family professionally (although one has to wonder if part of that dedication was due to what she might get out of it if Micky made it big). Only when Dickie's last-chance-scheme to stay on as Micky's trainer lands Dickie in prison and ends with a broken hand for Micky, is Micky finally able to break the cycle with his family and concentrate on his training and career.

I'm really not a boxing fan, but the film centers on the drama and conflict in the relationships and the few fights that are included are done well.

Christian Bale is brilliant. While he should have already been up for an Oscar for American Psycho and Rescue Dawn (at least), I'm sincerely hoping he gets nominated for this part. (Whether or not that will happen, since he refuses to campaign, remains to be seen.) But his portrayal of Dickie is remarkable and reconfirms Bale as one of the best, most chameleonic actors working today.

All of the other actors are very good - particularly Melissa Leo who, as Micky's mother, is incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking. The film was surprisingly funny in parts (well, perhaps not, considering it is directed by David O. Russell) and, as I saw it with an *unbelievably* boisterous Boston audience, they certainly responded overwhelmingly to those bits.

I also loved the soundtrack, although I know other reviews have critiqued it for being too modern.

It also seemed like several types of film or differing styles of cinematography were used for different scenes, particularly the matches, and I thought that worked well.

It's not my favorite film of the year. Although I thought Mark Wahlberg did a good job, Micky is a quiet and retiring hero for a film to focus on and the underdog sports achiever plot is predictable (if uplifting).

Really, Christian Bale steals the show as a harrowing portrait of a crack addict trying to do the right thing. I hope he gets all the recognition he deserves for it.

5 out of 5 stars

Monday, December 6, 2010

The San Francisco Mix

Right; I love creating mixes. I don't know that I'm particularly good at it, but I enjoy it. I have a long list of songs about San Francisco and California that I listen to whenever I'm feeling homesick, and I thought I'd see if I could put together an actual CD for friends of mine. These aren't all necessarily my favorites, but I wanted a breadth that would cover both San Francisco's styles and appeal to a wide variety of listeners.

So - here it is. (The runners-up to follow shortly)

  1. Save Me San Francisco – Train
  2. San Francisco – Vanessa Carlton
  3. San Francisco – Scott McKenzie
  4. California Dreamin’ – The Mamas and the Papas
  5. We Built this City – Jefferson Starship (Yes. It's terrible. But I still love it. Shut up.)
  6. Earthquakes and Sharks – Brandston
  7. Don’t Stop Believing (Giants 2010) – Ashkon
  8. The City – Richie Cunning (the video doesn't feature the entire song, unfortunately. I love the shout-out to the 29 bus. That's MY bus!)
  9. San Francisco Rain (Chris Lake Remix) – Lys ft. Mooli
  10. California Stars – Billy Bragg & Wilco
  11. Grace Cathedral Hill – The Decemberists
  12. San Francisco – Jill Sobule
  13. I’m Always Drunk in San Francisco – Carmen McRae
  14. San Francisco Days – Chris Isaak
  15. Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  16. California, Here I Come – I Love Lucy
  17. San Francisco – Judy Garland
  18. I Left My Heart in San Francisco – Tony Bennett (hula what now?)
  19. Lights – Journey

Right, I'm just going to go ahead and embed the Ashkon video here, because it is wonderful:

I'm getting there...

I hope to return to somewhat normal blogging over the next month. I know I'll definitely have thoughts on the oscar-bait releases and the awards race. We shall see how it goes.

I never got around to writing up Paprika (which I saw on the eve of my San Francisco trip). I know of no other way to describe this film than WTF. I basically came away with the impression of a mash-up of Miyazaki and Inception while dropping acid. I liked it. I think. And I'm not sure I could describe it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

NBR Awards!

Ah, the Oscar race is starting in earnest, and I'm so very behind. The satellite noms are fun (yay Noomi Rapace love), as are the gothams, but the NBR awards are the first ones that people take seriously. Whether they should or not. The list below, with my thoughts:

Best Film: The Social Network

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network

Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network

Best Actress: Lesley Manville, Another Year

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter

Best Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

I'm pretty happy with these. Jacki Weaver gets remembered, which keeps her hopes for a nomination alive. I'm thrilled Christian Bale is finally getting some long-deserved recognition. And The Social Network is excellent. I have yet to see Another Year, so... no thoughts there.

Best Foreign Film: Of Gods and Men

Best Documentary: Waiting For “Superman”

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3

Why do the animated films I like never win anything?

Best Ensemble Cast: The Town

Oh yay. This is a good cast. Although I would've picked Winter's Bone, like the Gothams.

Breakthrough Performance: Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone

YAY! Win.

Spotlight Award for Best Directorial Debut: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, Restrepo

Best Original Screenplay: Chris Sparling, Buried

Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network


Special Filmmaking Achievement Award: Sofia Coppola, for for writing, directing, and producing Somewhere

William K. Everson Film History Award: Leonard Maltin

NBR Freedom of Expression: Fair Game, Conviction, Howl

Awww.... Conviction. This is the only award you will win.

Top Eleven Films (In alphabetical order):
Another Year
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
Shutter Island
The Social Network
The Town
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Pretty good. I like having The Fighter and Winter's Bone in here. But Shutter Island, Hereafter and Toy Story 3 over Blue Valentine, Black Swan, and 127 Hours?

Top Ten Independent Films (In alphabetical order):
Animal Kingdom
Fish Tank
The Ghost Writer
Let Me In
Please Give
Youth in Revolt

YAY Fish Tank!!!! SO excited about that. Hmmm.... I'm getting the sense I should see Buried. I read an interesting article that said it should be garnering more notice than 127 hours. Yay Animal Kingdom. And happy Let Me In got a little notice.

Top Six Foreign Films (In alphabetical order):
I Am Love
Life, Above All
Of Gods And Men
Soul Kitchen
White Material

Huh. I think Incendies is going to next year's Sundance. *sigh* I still need to see I Am Love.

Top Six Documentary Films (In alphabetical order):
A Film Unfinished
Inside Job
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
The Tillman Story
Waiting For “Superman"

Another thought on the Satellite noms: "the awards - handed out by International Press Academy - are generally disregarded as a serious Oscar precursor due to their often inexplainable decisions (see this year’s bizarre move to erratically extend most categories to seemingly whatever number of nominees they wanted),"