Monday, March 22, 2010

So Many Movies... So Many Reviews

I’m back, baby, and for your reading (and possible future viewing) pleasure I have not one, not two, not three, not four… um, okay, NINE reviews of movies I’ve seen in recent weeks! Ready? GO!

shutter_island SHUTTER ISLAND -- **SPOILER ALERT** Scorcese's latest is an early contender for most misunderstood movie of the year. So much has been said about the "twist" and how it is soooo obvious and soooo lame. But people don't seem to realize that the twist is not meant to be a twist at all -- we're SUPPOSED to figure out early, if not from the very beginning, that Leo DiCaprio is really a patient. I mean, if you’ve ever seen a movie before in your life, you can figure that out. The film's true focus is the journey that his character must take in order to figure this out for himself -- and even more than that, the radical psychological process that is meant to help him along. Fantastic film, tremendous performances, and yet another slice of genius from one of cinema's true masters.

cop_out COP OUT -- *sigh*... and then there’s Kevin Smith. First he pretty much kills the View-Askewniverse with the abysmal CLERKS 2, but then ZACK & MIRI MAKE A PORNO felt like a return to form. And now this unholy turd of a film... granted, he didn’t write it, but still... wow. Part of me hoped that it wouldn’t be as bad as the trailers made it seem. “There has to be more than this,” I prayed. Then I heard that the working title was A COUPLE OF DICKS, which is pretty funny, and I thought, “Maybe THAT is more indicative of the kind of movie this really is.” But no. The movie is bad and powerfully unfunny. Not sure what the heck Kevin Smith should be doing at this point in his career, but this is not it. Maybe give him a comic book superhero and see what happens?

ghost_writer THE GHOST WRITER -- Man, it always infuriates me knowing that I paid good money to see a film made by a guy who should have been strung up by his balls years ago, if only I was in charge of the world. Instead, Roman Polanski is free to live the high life and even has big Hollywood stars rallying to support him. And the worst part of all? He’s still making great movies! His latest, starring Ewan McGregor as a ghost writer who gets more than he bargained for when he signs on to work with a controversial former British Prime Minister, is another one to add to the list -- taut, intense, expertly crafted and deftly acted. One of the better whammy endings I’ve seen in a while, too. Still hope Polanski someday gets what’s coming to him, though!

the_crazies THE CRAZIES -- Disappointing remake of the George Romero ‘70s classic. The original was unique in that it was mainly from the perspective of the bumbling government agents who were trying to contain and cover up the epidemic that turned normal townsfolk into, well, a bunch of crazies. Lots of socio-political commentary there, obviously. The remake takes a far less interesting angle, basically turning it into a run-of-the-mill zombie flick. Some decent scares and kills manage to hold your interest for the most part, but then the ending comes and any semblance of goodwill that may have been generated is washed away. If you thought that the “nuking the fridge” incident in INDY 4 was bad... friends, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

allice_in_wonderland ALICE IN WONDERLAND -- Back to the subject of of filmmakers who are in danger of falling from grace, Tim Burton is just about teetering on the edge of oblivion, himself. His vision of the classic tale is a disaster of epic proportions. I got the impression that he really wanted to make a CHRONICLES OF NARNIA film, or maybe THE HOBBIT, but got stuck with Wonderland, and as a result tried to bizarrely combine them, complete with sword fights and epic battles and such. Mostly lame visuals (even the 3D was lame, thanks to a half-assed conversion from its original 2D; other filmmakers, take note, because we can tell the difference between good and bad 3D now!), plodding story and a complete waste of some tremendous actors -- for fuck’s sake, if you’re gonna have CHRISTOPHER LEE as the voice of the Jabberwocky, how about giving him more than two lines?! Frankly, I think it’s time for Burton and Johnny Depp to break up, because neither of them are doing the other any good anymore. Time to move on. But more than anything, Burton really just needs to do something completely original again -- no more shitty remakes/reboots -- I need another EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and I need it now! Unfortunately, I hear he’s in talks to do a remake of THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Let me guess… Depp as Gomez, Helena Bonham Carter as Morticia… *sigh*

green_zone GREEN ZONE -- I wonder how many people went into this movie thinking that it was the next chapter in the BOURNE saga? You've got the star of Bourne... the director of the last two Bournes... the same gritty, shaky, handheld camera technique as Bourne... yet it is NOT, in fact, Bourne. Seriously, though, this movie is very good. Matt Damon plays a U.S. soldier searching in vain for WMDs in Iraq, who begins to question the entire operation as he uncovers the unfathomable truth. It’s as intense as it is infuriating -- suffice to say, it’s loaded with raging commentary against the Bush administration, and if you weren’t already angry about that whole debacle, you will be after watching this. Of course, it's as much a fictional story as it is based on/inspired by what may or may not be fact... but I bet the truth is not too far off.

repomen REPO MEN -- In the future, if you need a new heart, liver, knee or voice box, the Union will get you one.... but if you can't pay the bills, the repo men will come and take back what's theirs. So when the best repo man in the business becomes one of the hunted, all hell breaks loose. Granted, it's not exactly a good film, and the plot completely rips off the superior REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA, but fine actors (Jude Law, Forrest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber), enjoyable tounge-in-cheekiness, and lots of over-the-top blood & violence make it watchable. There may also be some commentary about the health care situation and... ah, my head hurts.

greenberg GREENBERG -- I’m sure that lots of people will be crushing on indie darling Greta Gerwig after seeing this movie, but guess what, I called dibs a while ago! I discovered her micro-budget, mumblecore work via some random Netflix recommendation and quickly fell in love, despite the fact that the movies themselves (HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS, LOL, BAGHEAD, NIGHTS & WEEKENDS) are kind of hit-or-miss. (The fact that she is very frequently very nude probably didn’t hurt.) Well, she takes her game to a new level in Noah Baumbach’s latest study of the relationships between neurotic, self-absorbed, angst-ridden souls (which I mean in the best possible way), starring Ben Stiller as a forty-something jerk with all kinds of problems. The two of them meet and embark on an awkward courtship that helps them put their own stagnant lives into perspective. Baumbach juggles humor, drama and heartbreak with a kind of detached precision, and the result is one of the better films of the year so far. Fine performance by Rhys Ifans, too, as Stiller’s estranged friend and former bandmate.

the-runaways THE RUNAWAYS -- It's hard to tell if this movie was meant to be a serious biopic of the revolutionary '70s girl band, or a so-bad-it's-good cult favorite. My guess is the former… but it has a much better shot at the latter. From horrible acting to laughable dialogue to atrocious singing, this movie is a massive train wreck. Ironically, the casting is actually pretty spot-on, looks-wise -- Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning really look like a young Joan Jett and Cherrie Curry, respectively. Unfortunately, Stewart continues to prove that she is quite possibly the worst actress alive, and she can't sing either (though I do give her props for learning to play the guitar). Fanning fares a little better, acting-wise, but she can't sing for shit, either. Incidentally, be warned that seeing this movie, which features 15-year-old Dakota Fanning in various states of undress, doing drugs and having all sorts of sex with both genders, will likely put you on several government lists. Creepy. Also, there is NO excuse to have Alia Shawkat (AKA Maeby from ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) in a movie and not give her a single speaking line! All in all, it's a pretty terrible biopic and an even worse porno... though it does have two saving graces: (1) Michael Shannon, who is awesome as producer Kim Fowley, and (2) It is freakin' hilarious!

Monday, March 8, 2010



Hello, everybody, and welcome to my 5th annual moment-by-moment Oscar commentary! After all these weeks of speculation and anticipation and predictions of all kinds, the big day has finally arrived and I AM PSYCHED. Now, I maintain that TEN Best Picture nominees may be overkill, but what’s done is done -- in a few short (or not-so-short) hours, we will finally see which movie emerges victorious from this clusterfuck. Though, really, I think it’s a two-horse race and everyone else is just along for the ride: Will it be the world’s biggest moneymaker and one of the most spectacular cinematic achievements of all time, AVATAR? Or will it be the little war film that could and one of the most intense movie experiences of the year, THE HURT LOCKER? Could go either way, and it will be interesting to see which direction the Academy decides to go (my money is on the blue people). Meanwhile, the acting awards ought to be far less surprising. Jeff Bridges, Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique should have their respective trophies in the bag. The one questionable category is Best Actress, where apparently Sandra Bullock has the inside track, despite winning the Worst Actress Razzie last night -- if she wins, it would be an absolute travesty, so let’s hope the Academy uses common sense and gives the award to the great Meryl Streep or one of the equally-deserving newcomers, Carey Mulligan or Gabey Sidibe. Screenplay categories are also kind of up in the air (pun very much intended), but I am fairly certain that we will see Oscar history tonight when Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win Best Director.

Now, like the obsessive crazy person that I am, I’ve been watching mindless Oscar pre-show stuff on E! for much of the day, so I am ready and rarin’ to go. My LIVE commentary will begin with Red Carpet Madness at 6 p.m., followed by the Oscar telecast at 8:30. I’ll be updating this blog every few minutes throughout the night, so bookmark this page and check back often... or keep your browser right here and click “refresh” constantly... whatever works for you. Be back soon!


6:00 – *tap*tap*… is this thing on? Man, is it just me, or was the E! pre-show stuff even more insipid than usual this year? On the other hand, it also featured a lot more girls in skimpy clothes. Now let’s see what good ol’ Ryan Seacrest & pals have in store for the Red Carpet!

6:03 – Oh man, I hope there’s another Busey moment. Ah, Sam Worthington and his date are the first celebs on the scene. Pretty sure that AVATAR is going to clean up tonight… we shall see!

6:05 – Wow, that was a weird awkward non-hug between Seacrest and Zac Efron. Also, apparently Efron is the biggest movie guru on the carpet. What, does Ryan have a crush on him or something? NEXT!

6:07 – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Giuliana Rancic looks like a damn fish. I wonder if she’s bummed that PONYO didn’t get a Best Animated Film nom?

6:10 – Eh, I dunno, Anna Kendrick looks kinda mousey tonight. And every night. She was very good in UP IN THE AIR, but sorry to say that she doesn’t stand a chance – speaking of which, there’s Mo’Nique, right on cue!

6:13 – Zoe Saldana is hot and all, but personally I think she looks better as a blue alien. Hisssss!

6:17 – Remember when Mariah Carey was in PRECIOUS and she was awesome? That was crazy. Also, remember when my apartment building was in PRECIOUS? That ruled. Mariah is looking quite bodacious tonight, by the way. Hehe, her diamond bracelet got caught on her boobs. “I don’t know what you’re referring to as diamonds, but we do have some best friends here,” Seacrest quips.

6:25 – Did Ryan Seacrest just call the mayor of Los Angeles “brother?” Weird. Lots of love for AVATAR so far on this Red Carpet. Heh, Seacrest is trying so hard to get Zoe to do the Na’vi hiss.

6:29 – Mmm, I love me some Vera Farmiga. I’ve been watching a bunch of her stuff on Netflix recently. Though I agree with Rachel’s observation that she is too pale for this crazy fuchsia dress. Ha, Vera picked Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director over her own director, Jason Reitman! Oops! It’s okay, though, he doesn’t stand a chance.

6:35 – Bah, no point in having Ryan Reynolds here if Scarlett isn’t with him. Ah, there’s the first Sandra Bullock reference. I cannot believe that she is the goddamn FRONTRUNNER for Best Actress. If Eddie Murphy couldn’t win an Oscar because he also made NORBIT in the same year, then Sandra also shouldn’t win for making ALL ABOUT STEVE and THE PROPOSAL in 2009!

6:37 – Crazy that Jason Reitman is a two-time Oscar nominee already. HOLY SHIT, check out James Cameron’s wife, aka the ugly chick from TITANIC for whom he dumped Linda Hamilton! She looks like she’s old enough to be his mother! Dear Lord, that is horrendous! Should be interesting to see what happens in the battles of the exes – Cameron vs. Bigelow – for Best Director!

6:40 – Hehe, I would also like to see the entire Kodak Theatre bust out in a chorus of “Happy Birthday” for Peter Sarsgaard. Also, Maggie G.’s jowels don’t look quite as prominent this evening. Plastic surgery, perhaps? It’s about time!

6:42 – Elizabeth Banks was this year’s hottie to present the tech awards! Good choice! I love her. Rachel is perturbed by her dress, but I think she looks good!

6:44 – Sixteen percent of E! voters think that Anna Kendrick is going to win Best Supporting Actress? Fucking TWILIGHT freaks! Supporting Actress/Actor are the two biggest no-brainer categories of the night.

6:48 – Ooh, I like the color of Sigourney Weaver’s dress. It’s the color of my kitchen & den! Wow, she hasn’t seen AVATAR in IMAX yet? Call me, Sigourney, and I’ll go with you!

6:52 – Sandra Bullock does not deserve Oscar gold, but she looks good tonight. Her lips are so very red! Not too keen on Tina Fey’s dress, though - she totally should have shown up dressed as Sarah Palin. Can’t wait for her upcoming movie, DATE NIGHT, with Steve Carell!

6:56 – Quick, someone ask Amanda Seyfried to check whether or not it’s raining! Hee. OH MY GOD, what the hell is wrong with Carey Mulligan’s head?! I love her and she was amazing in AN EDUCATION, but the blonde pixie look was a bad choice!

7:03 – Amanda Seyfried again. D’gah, she is a hottie. Good chance she’ll be among the top 5 hottest by the end of the night. That’s always a fun list to compile just before bedtime!

7:05 – Whoa, Rachel McAdams and Elizabeth Banks could be twins. Meanwhile, Miley looks really bored. Actually, I kind of agree – this red carpet has not been very exciting so far.

7:13 – Kind of a creepy conversation between Seacrest and Miley. Dude, she’s not 18 yet! Also, Kathryn Bigelow is so much hotter than James Cameron’s current wife! Not to mention that she will likely become the first-ever female Best Director!

7:15 – Hehehe, seeing Sarah Jessica Parker reminds me of this: Best site ever!

7:17 – WHOA, Kathryn Bigelow is tall as hell! Was she James Cameron’s physical inspiration for the ten-foot-tall Na’vi? Heh, nice to see Seacrest try to stir up some animosity between the exes. Ah, and there’s Stanley Tucci – so creepy in THE LOVELY BONES, one of the most underrated films of the year! And there’s Charlize Theron with some kind of flowery targets on her boobs. At last, business is picking up!

7:25 – Matt Damon is another bullshit nominee tonight – INVICTUS sucked and he was just not very good! (He WAS good, however, in THE INFORMANT!)

7:28 – Just saw on the ticker that this is Christopher Plummer’s first oscar nomination. That kind of complicates matters, since we know how much the Academy loves to honor old timers. But I still think that the Dude is the one to beat! (EDIT: Plummer was actually up for Supporting Actor, so despite his age & pedigree, stood no chance vs. Waltz!) Meanwhile, my girlfriend Rachel is swooning big-time over George Clooney. But that’s okay, because I am swooning over George Clooney’s girlfriend!

7:30 – Ahh, Meryl Streep. How the hell can the Academy possibly think that Sandra Bullock’s performance is better than the great Streep? I mean, really. (Granted, by that logic, Streep should win every year because there is none higher.)

7:32 – Oh wow, I didn’t see Rachel McAdams’ full dress earlier – it is multicolored and cool as hell. Love her. J-Lo, on the other hand… yikes. Looks like she has a big tumor growing out of her big booty.

7:37 – Whoa, Keanu’s beard is fucked up. That happened to me once when my friends tackled me to the ground, held me down and savagely shaved my beard off, thus killing some hair follicles. I wonder if that happened to Keanu recently?

7:39 – Holy moley, Gabey Sibide is a whole lotta woman. But guess what? She deserves Best Actress a hell of a lot more than Sandra Bullock… and maybe more than anyone! Also, she is hilarious! “If fashion is porn, this dress is the money shot!” You go girl! Hehe, oh man, she is the most excited to be here by far. Forget everything I said about Streep or Carey Mulligan or whoever - I hope Gabey wins!

7:42 – Robert Downey Jr. is the fucking duke. Can’t wait for IRON MAN 2!

7:45 – Lots of hints from Seacrest as to some changes that will be in store for the Oscar-cast tonight. Hmmmm. Here’s hoping they don’t go too crazy.

7:49 – Christ, that movie THE BOUNTY HUNTER with Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston seriously looks like a contender for Worst Movie of All Time. Jason Bateman in the house now. OOOOH and there’s Kate Winslet, finally! I’ve been waiting for her arrival! God, I love her. And now Jeff Bridges! It’s gonna rule when he wins – he deserves it for CRAZY HEART as well as his body of work. (Which reminds me, TRON LEGACY is going to kick unbelievable amounts of ass.)

7:58 – Oh my God, is Cameron Diaz going down the same botox road as Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger? That would be a damn shame… but she doesn’t look right tonight! (Also, please God, let the next SHREK be the last…)

8:00 – Okay, the E! red carpet show is over. Kind of a lackluster red carpet this year, to be honest. Some nice-looking ladies, but not enough madness. Ah well. I’m going to take a half-hour break and return at 8:30 for the big show! YEAH!


8:30 – And we’re baaaack! Whoa, all of the Best Actor and Actress nominees coming out on stage to open the show? Will they do the can-can? This is weird… but strangely cool.

8:32 – Neil Patrick Harris with a musical number! Showgirls and whatnot. Kinda funny stuff. Even funnier: Showing a reaction shot of someone in the crowd with no light! Actually that was kind of weird, too. Off to a weird start! And for the record, the showgirls DID do the can-can!

8:34 – Okay, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, this should be good in theory. Sixteen nominations for Meryl Streep – which means most losses, heh.

8:37 - “Oh look, there’s that damn Helen Mirren.” “That’s DAME Helen Mirren.” That was funny, but so far this monologue (duologue?) is falling flat – wait, scratch that, threesome joke about Martin, Baldwin & Streep! What’s up with all of Meryl’s Hitler memorabilia? HAHA!

8:40 – Martin & Baldwin put on 3D glasses to find James Cameron in the crowd. Ooh, and the first jibe at the Cameron vs. Bigelow showdown. Seriously, though, this duologue sucks ass. Should’ve been one guy, because the back-and-forth just ain’t workin’. BRING BACK BILLY CRYSTAL OR JON STEWART! Or even Hugh Jackman. Hehe, the Clooney jokes are funny though.

8:44 – Finally, some awards! Penelope Cruz is here to present the award for Best Supporting Actor! She’s looking good, BTW. And the nominees are… well, it doesn’t really matter because Christoph Waltz is going to win. Matt Damon, meh. Woody Harrelson was very good in THE MESSENGER, but the movie just wasn’t very memorable. Surprised to hear that THE LAST STATION marks Christopher Plummer’s first Oscar nomination. Stanley Tucci, so awesomely creepy. And of course, Waltz, who stole INGLORIOUS BASTERDS and is probably the biggest no-brainer of the night. And the Oscar goes to… CHRISTOPH WALTZ! That’s a bingo! Meanwhile, there’s a ticker across the bottom of the screen saying that ABC and Cablevision have reached an agreement in principle and that ABC is coming back on the air for those subscribers! Crap, there’s go my readership!

8:50 – Ryan Reynolds introduces a clip from THE BLIND SIDE, the biggest bullshit Best Picture nominee of the bunch. NEXT!

8:55 – I am now drinking a delicious strawberry mojito courtesy of Rachel and her friend Haven. Yum. Um, what are Steve Carell and Cameron Diaz doing there? Oh, heh, the Best Animated Film nominees talk about what it’s like to be up for an Oscar. This is pretty cool. And the winner is… UP! No surprise there. I was rooting for FANTASTIC MR. FOX, but I can’t argue with this choice – Pixar is God!

9:00 – Um, I feel a little uncomfortable seeing Miley’s boobs spilling out of her dress. Also, why is she always slouching? Best Song time! Two selections from THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, Disney’s triumphant return to traditional animation. Never heard of PARIS 36. The best song from NINE was “Be Italian,” but that was not an original song so they had to nominate this crappy one. And then there’s the song from CRAZY HEART, which is a great song from a great movie. And it wins!

9:05 – Captain Kirk himself, Chris Pine, introduces a clip from DISTRICT 9, one of the best movies of the year and one of the best sci-fi movies in recent memory! I was thrilled when this movie got nominated – probably doesn’t have a shot at gold, but wouldn’t that be something!

9:11 – Robert Downey Jr. and Tina Fey is a pretty potent combination of hilariousness. Rachel and Haven are having a conversation about whether or not RDJ is bisexual. Hey, I’d make out with him. I mean, um… BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY TIME, wooo! THE HURT LOCKER could win, depending upon what was going through the Academy’s mind at the time. INGLORIOUS BASTERDS probably should win, since it’s Tarantino’s boldest and craziest script ever, which is saying something. THE MESSENGER, meh. A SERIOUS MAN is my pick – arguably the Coens’ best film – but it doesn’t stand a chance. Love seeing Pixar films get screenplay noms, which has happened several times in the past, but I doubt UP pulls off the upset. And the winner is… THE HURT LOCKER! Wow! Could this signal a sweep?? Man, Quentin is pissed. Hope he doesn't sic the Bear Jew on the crowd!

9:17 – Holy shit, Molly Ringwald and Matthew Broderick are here for a John Hughes tribute! Man, this is going to be awesome. “Bueller… Bueller.” HOME ALONE. NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION. “Those aren’t pillows!” PRETTY IN PINK. More Ferris. BREAKFAST CLUB. SIXTEEN CANDLES. And it ends with Ferris once again. Dear lord in heaven, I miss John Hughes so much. Wait, it’s not over… HOLY SHIT, a Brat Pack reunion (plus Macaulay Culkin) on the Oscar stage?! This is amazing.

9:23 – Whew, that John Hughes tribute was too much. But now Samuel L. Jackson is here to introduce UP, the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture since BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in 1991! Ironically it’s my least-favorite Pixar film in a while… but still better than 90% of the movies out there. It won’t win, but if it does, I will smile…

9:27 – Carey Mulligan and Zoe Saldana are here. Zoe’s dress is crazy, and Carey’s hair is freaking me out. But, um, she’s got a British accent, so I’ll forgive her. Pretty cool that they’re doing a little tribute to short films – everyone should get their asses to the IFC Center to see this year’s nominees ASAP. Animated short is up first! FRENCH ROAST was funny but meh. GRANNY O’GRIMM was probably my least favorite of the bunch. Love LADY AND THE REAPER, my choice! LOGORAMA is incredible. A MATTER OF LOAF AND DEATH probably wins because Nick Park can’t be stopped in this category – and the winner is LOGORAMA! Whoa! Insane film!

9:33 – Documentary Short is next. I don’t know anything about any of these, but I picked MUSIC BY PRUDENCE, because the title reminds me of the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence.” And the winner is… MUSIC BY PRUDENCE! Score! By the way, anyone else notice that they’ve gone back to saying “And the winner is” instead of “And the Oscar goes to?” I like it! Let’s not pretend like there are no losers here! Wow, kind of a weird speech from these winners… I think the woman stole the dude’s speech time?

9:35 – Live-Action short! THE DOOR was painful. ABRACADBRA was like NAPOLEON DYNAMITE in Sweden. KAVI could win ‘cause it’s like SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE lite. MIRACLE FISH is my pic – it’s like THE NEVERENDING STORY with a crazy twist. But the winner is THE NEW TENANTS, which is a surprise and kind of disappointment for me. It was good, but if I ranked the nominees, it’d probably be third, at best. Ah well. BTW, so far I’m 3-for-6 with my predictions. Eh.

9:38 – Hehehe, Ben Stiller as a Na’vi. “Seemed like a better idea in rehearsal.” Best Makeup time, which is funny because AVATAR wasn’t even nominated for that! HAHA, Ben Stiller’s tail rules. Cursing Cameron out in Na’vi! “I see you!” HAHAHA! I love this. Finally, Cameron laughs! Oh, the noms. Never saw IL DIVO…. um, Italian people wearing suits? STAR TREK is obviously going to win, and rightly so. THE YOUNG VICTORIA, I guess, is just here so they can have the necessary three nominees. And the winner is… HAHA, Stiller’s tail is out of control! “It’s amazing how far technology has come.” Best bit of the night so far. And the winner is STAR TREK! Live long and prosper, bitches!

9:43 – The Dude, Jeff Bridges, arrives to introduce a clip from A SERIOUS MAN, my pick for Best Picture, not to mention my #1 movie of 2009. Unfortunately, it is literally the least-likely winner tonight – every online poll I’ve ever seen has it ranked dead last. Stupid everybody! Such an incredible film.

9:47 – Jake Gyllenhaal and Elizabeth Banks (EDIT: It was actually Rachel McAdams. Told you they could be twins!) introduce the noms for Best Adapted Screenplay. UP IN THE AIR was a fantastic film and has a very good shot at being honored here. PRECIOUS was a great film and not undeserving, but probably gets overshadowed. IN THE LOOP is good stuff – this nom came out of nowhere but I caught it on DVD recently. I love AN EDUCATION and I love Nick Hornby even more. DISTRICT 9 is my pick because it was freaking incredible, but there’s no way it wins… right? Maybe? And the winner is… PRECIOUS?!?!? WOW! That’s a legitimate shocker! Good emotional speech by the screenwriter, though. I just can’t believe that UP IN THE AIR is probably going to walk away empty – this was probably its best shot.

9:52 – Queen Latifah introduces, um, the Governor’s Award winners? They’re showing some cool clips here. Good stuff. Actually, to be honest, I wasn’t paying attention because Rachel, Haven and I were trying to figure out where to order pizza from since our usual place is closed. And the winner is... PAPA JOHN'S!

9:55 – Robin Williams introduces Best Supporting Actress! (EDIT: Originally I was wondering why last year’s winner wasn’t there to present the award, as per the tradition… and then I remembered that Heath Ledger won last year. OOPS!) Ah well. Penelope Cruz is awesome and super hot – hard to believe that I used to hate her. Now she may be in my top 5. Vera Farmiga may have had the single hottest on-screen presence in any movie this year, and she was really good aside from that, too. Maggie G. was fine in CRAZY HEART, but definitely the dark horse here. Mousey Anna Kendrick was also very good, but she wasn’t even the best supporting actress in UP IN THE AIR. And then there’s the obvious winner, Mo’Nique. Unbelievable performance. And the winner is… MO’NIQUE! Obviously… and by far the most deserving. Wow, a standing ovation! That is pretty wild. This ought to be a good speech. She may be the first person ever to thank both Hattie McDaniel and Tyler Perry. Seriously, though, this is good. Surprisingly brief and understated. Man, I wonder if this means that PRECIOUS, of all movies, will pull off a sweep??

10:01 – Colin Firth introduces a clip from AN EDUCATION. Fantastic movie. Carey Mulligan is gorgeous. Nick Hornby is the man. It won’t win, but it’s a great pick. Also, apparently a salute to horror films is coming?! NICE!!

10:05 – Sigourney Weaver talks about ALIEN before introducing the noms for Best Art Director. AVATAR is going to win. DR. PARNASSUS was interesting but surprisinglyu forgettable. NINE, too. SHERLOCK HOLMES has a chance. THE YOUNG VICTORIA is here because you can’t count out British period pieces. And the winner is… AVATAR! The first of many technical awards for this cinematic landmark that has literally changed the way that movies will be made from now on! “Jim Cameron, this Oscar sees you”… oy. Um, how about that guy’s random throwaway remark about being told 13 years ago that he wouldn’t survive?

10:09 – Oh, Sarah Jessica Parker is here again. This would be a good time to plug once again! Best Costume Design time. Never saw BRIGHT STAR, but I guess it looks good? COCO BEFORE CHANEL could win since it’s all about costumes. I’m picking NINE because of all the sexy outfits on the sexy ladies. THE YOUNG VICTORIA for the same reason as before – and the winner is THE YOUNG VICTORIA! Damn British period pieces! “I already have two of these”… that was pretty smug, lady!

10:12 – Charlize Theron and her spiral breast targets introduce PRECIOUS, which suddenly has tremendous momentum. I still think it’s between AVATAR and THE HURT LOCKER… but you never know?

10:16 – Man, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin could be the worst Oscar hosts in recent memory. Though, wait a second, now they’re spoofing PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Mildly amusing. But I still miss, um, pretty much every other Oscar host in recent memory. OH GOD, here come the TWILIGHT kids. Seriously, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner may be the worst actress and actor alive today. They’re the ones who get to introduce the horror tribute?? Ridiculous. Let’s see what we’ve got here. JAWS, yes. Freddy. Chucky. EXORCIST! PSYCHO! All with the Jaws theme, BTW. POLTERGEIST!!! THE SHINING! This fucking rules. SCREAM? I’m THE LEPRECHAUN! This shit is going too fast! I saw HALLOWEEN and Hannibal Lecter in there. ROSEMARY’S BABY, which I just read. MISERY! Old-school Dracula, Mummy, Wolfman, Frankenstein. FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. BEETLEJUIECE. THE BIRDS! Lots of girls screaming! LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS! EXORCIST music kicks in! EDWARD SCISSORHANDS! THE SHINING again! SIXTH SENSE! ALIEN! CARRIE! THE BLOB! BLAIR WITCH! SILENCE OF THE LAMBS! I’m ignoring the fact that TWILIGHT was in there and calling this one of the best Oscar montages ever!

10:23 – Morgan Freeman’s voiceover explains Sound Editing and Sound Mixing in layman’s terms, using last year’s winner, THE DARK KNIGHT, as an example. Cool. Sound editing nominees first. AVATAR probably wins. HURT LOCKER has a good shot. BASTERDS, okay. STAR TREK, nah. UP, maybe. What say you, Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick? Wow, THE HURT LOCKER wins! A bit of a surprise, just because I figured AVATAR would win every technical award. Sound Mixing next. Um, pretty much the same comments as above… except replace UP with TRANSFORMERS 2. And the winner is… THE HURT LOCKER again. Well, all right.

10:33 – Oooooh, a commercial for V! Coming back March 30th! I am so there. Now here comes Sandra Bullock and her shiny fuchsia lips to present Best Cinematography. AVATAR pretty much as to win here, right? It sort of revolutionized cinematography. Pretty cool that HARRY POTTER 6 got some love. Other nominees blah blah blah and AVATAR wins! Nice!

10:37 – Demi Moore is looking mighty fine here, even though her dress is nearly the same color as her skin. OH SHIT!!!! It’s the In Memoriam segment, which should be painful. James Taylor plays the Beatles’ “In My Life” and here we go… get your tissues ready. Patrick Swayze, damn. Jean Simmons. David Carradine died in the most fucked up way of anyone. Dom Deluise, oh yeah. Brittany Murphy was my age. Man, the guy who did the sound for THE GODFATHER II and APOCALYPSE NOW, that sucks. Roy Disney! Jesus Christ, all these writers. Michael Jackson, of course. David Brown, bigtime producer. Karl Malden. Whoa, it’s over? I gotta say, I thought there were a lot more deaths this year. Still… sadness. :(

10:45 – Jennifer Lopez (and her butt tumor) and Sam Worthington are here to present Best Score. Um, whoa, interpretive dance numbers, really? I thought they were supposed to do away with this sort of thing? Actually, I don’t mind, the more time they wanna give to movie scores, the better. SHERLOCK HOLMES actually sounds cooler outside of the context of the movie. THE HURT LOCKER score is pretty underwhelming. FANTASTIC MR. FOX is great and the music is fitting. UP is my pick – the only score from any movie this year to get stuck in my head on multiple occasions – it makes me think of the amazing opening montage and I get misty-eyed. AVATAR is suitably epic, but surprisingly unmemorable for such a memorable film. Great segment… and the winner is… UP! Yay!

10:54 – Gerard Butler and Bradley Cooper introduced Best Visual Effects. Um, yeah, all due respect to DISTRICT 9, and a tip of the cap to STAR TREK, but I think we all know what HAS to win here. And the winner is… AVATAR! And rightly so – it’s a visual feast! “Just remember, the world that we live in is just as great as the one we created for you.” Um, not really.

10:57 – Jason Bateman introduces a clip from UP IN THE AIR. Funny that this movie had all the momentum at one time… and now it has none. That’s the way the cookie crumbles!

10:59 – WAIT A MINUTE, they didn’t mention Farrah Fawcett during the In Memoriam segment, did they?! I realize she was more well-known for TV… but still… WTF?!

11:01 – Matt Damon introduces Best Documentary Feature. BTW, what’s with Damon’s new movie that looks like a Bourne film, and is by the director of one of the Bourne films, and is marketed like a Bourne film… but isn’t a Bourne film? But I digress. I’ve only seen THE COVE and FOOD INC., and the former should absolutely win – tremendously riveting film. And THE COVE wins! Good stuff. Everybody rent it ASAP! And then get on the dolphins’ good side for when they someday develop opposable thumbs and kill us all!

11:05 – This is Tyler Perry’s first time at the Oscars? Go figure. This segment is weird – are the producers listening to him? Ah well, seeing Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin in Snuggies is funny. Best Editing nominees! AVATAR probably shouldn’t win this one. DISTRICT 9 is my pick. ARGH, too fast! THE HURT LOCKER wins, unsurprisingly. Such a taut, intense film.

11:09 – We were wondering why Keanu Reeves was picked to introduce THE HURT LOCKER, and then we remembered that he was in Kathryn Bigelow’s POINT BREAK. Cool.

11:09 – Whoa, Pedro Almodovar and Quentin Tarantino, pretty wild pair. Best Foreign Language Film is next (for which, BTW, Almodovar should have been nominated… awkward!). Sadly, I have seen a grand total of ZERO of these films. I suck. I’m going with THE WHITE RIBBON because it’s the only one I’ve really heard anything about. And the winner is… uh, EL SECRETO DE SUS OJOS. Son of a bitch! HAHAHA, the foreign guy says, “I’d like to thank the Academy for not considering Na’vi a foreign language.” That could be the line of the night!

11:19 – Kathy Bates, aka the Unsinkable Molly Brown, introduces a clip from AVATAR. Y’know, it obviously looks its best on an 80’ x 100’ IMAX 3D screen… but it still looks pretty cool on my humble 42” HDTV.

11:24 – WTF is with this motley crew of actors and actresses? Oh wait, I get it… they’re people who have co-starred in the past with this year’s Best Actor noms. Michelle Pfeiffer talks about her time with Jeff Bridges on THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS (would have preferred to see John Goodman talk about LEBOWSKI). Vera Farmiga discusses Clooney, who finally cracks a smile. Julianne Moore honors Colin Firth for A SINGLE MAN – ironically, she probably would’ve been a more worthy Oscar nominee than him. (She was, of course, also in LEBOWSKI with Bridges.) Tim Robbins talking about Morgan Freeman and SHAWSHANK… that’s pretty awesome. Meanwhile, Rachel and Haven are lamenting the end of Robbins & Susan Sarandon’s relationship. Bummer, man. Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela is pretty awesome casting, but god, INVICTUS was so bad. Lastly, Colin Farrell introduces Jeremy Renner… but wait, Farrell was in a movie with Bridges, too! What is this, the six degrees of Jeff Bridges! Man, Jeremy Renner is nervous as hell. Don’t worry, man, you’re not going to win anyway. And now last year’s Best Actress – and indeed, one of the greatest actresses of all time – Kate Winslet, comes out (to the TITANIC music) to announce the winner. And the Oscar goes to… JEFF BRIDGES! YES! So deserving! Great speech! The Academy abides! That Oscar is really going to tie the room together!

11:39 – Best Actress time! I am ready to be pissed the fuck off when Sandra Bullock wins and washes away whatever integrity the Oscars have left. Forest Whitaker, looking thin and hipsterish with those big ol’ glasses, introduces Sandra for some reason. Michael Sheen gives props to Helen Mirren – they starred together in THE QUEEN a few years ago. Peter Sarsgaard kinda creepily introduces Carey Mulligan. I am still crushing on her big-time despite her crazy Rosemary’s Baby hairdo – and in fact, she is my pick for this award! I realize I am probably sabotaging my own ballot, but I’m voting with my heart, dammit! OPRAH is there to honor Gabourey Sidibe, who was just amazing in PRECIOUS – completely out of nowhere – and I wouldn’t mind seeing her win because I feel like she is the happiest to be sitting in the Kodak Theatre tonight. Lastly, Stanley Tucci pays homage to Meryl Streep, who probably SHOULD win, but whose greatness will, as usual, be taken for granted. And here comes Sean Penn, last year’s winner, to announce the winner. Wait, I zoned out for a second.. what was Penn rambling about? Ah, who cares… the Oscar goes to… please, God, anyone but Sandra… and it is… SANDRA BULLOCK. Fucking hell. I mean, don’t get me wrong… I really like Sandra and I like a lot of her movies and THE BLIND SIDE was fine… but c’mon. “Did I really earn this or did I just wear you all down?” Heh. Aw, okay, her speech is very good and emotional and heartfelt. I just wish she was winning for a more deserving movie.

11:52 – Barbra Streisand is here to present Best Director for some reason! I think we’re about to see history in the making one way or another – either Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win, or Lee Daniels becomes the first African American. But lest we forget, James Cameron is also up there, and you can never count out the King of the World. I don’t think Tarantino has ever won this award, has he? That streak will likely continue. Jason Reitman will be 0-for-2 in a few minutes, but I’m sure he’ll be up there again soon. And the winner is…. KATHRYN BIGELOW! Nice feint by Streisand so that we wouldn’t know whether “the time had come” for the woman or the black man! Deserving win here, though – THE HURT LOCKER was an expertly-crafted film. Good speech, too – she’s clearly in awe of the moment. Girl power!

11:58 – Tom Hanks comes out to introduce Best Picture. First time there have been 10 nominees since 1944 when CASABLANCA won. And… whoa, what the fuck? They didn’t announce each nominee? THE HURT LOCKER wins! Crazy! Wow, look at Bigelow double-fisting those Oscars. That’s pretty cool. Man, I didn’t even get a chance to once again mention that I was rooting for A SERIOUS MAN, which had zero chance to win. Kinda surprised that AVATAR didn’t pull this one out, but then again, STAR WARS didn’t win in 1977, either. Something tells me James Cameron doesn’t really care, seeing as how the movie has made over $2 billion worldwide and stands as a landmark in the history of film, whereas THE HURT LOCKER will probably be forgotten before long. Thought maybe PRECIOUS would have a shot, since it snagged some major awards, but no. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin come out to close the show and we’re all done!

Well, there you have it, folks... another Oscar Night has come and gone. Gotta say that this was one of the more underwhelming Oscar-casts in a while. Most of the winners were to be expected – very few surprises, with the possible exception of PRECIOUS winning Best Adapted Screenplay. Unfortunately, since I voted with my heart, I only got 10 out of 24 categories right – definitely would not have won me any Oscar pools, though I DID tie for the lead in this apartment! Yeah baby! (Granted, there were only three of us… but still!) I’ve got no real problem with THE HURT LOCKER sweep – wouldn’t have gotten my vote, but it was still a tremendous film. Great to see Jeff Bridges win. Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique were no-brainers. AVATAR for Visual Effects, Art Direction and Cinematography makes sense. And so on and so forth… it was just a pretty blah show overall. The John Hughes and horror film tributes were pretty cool, but that's about it. Even Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin kinda sucked as co-hosts. Hell, even the hotties were not very memorable! I was going to list my top 5 favorites and I’ll be damned if I can remember. Ah well. If you managed to make it all the way through this epic blog… I SALUTE YOU!

Goodnight everybody!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Oscar-Nominated Short Film Madness, Part Deux: Animation!

Animation time, bitches! GO!

french_roast FRENCH ROAST (France) -- Amusing little French ditty about a guy who has a cup of coffee at a cafe, only to realize that he forgot his wallet. Instead of owning up to it, he just keeps drinking more coffee. Meanwhile, odd encounters with the waiter, a homeless guy, a policeman and a little old lady thicken the plot.  The animation is good and the story is fun, especially if you are enamoured with Paris, as I am.

lady_and_the_reaper THE LADY AND THE REAPER (Spain) -- It seems that the success of Pixar's UP spawned a number of short films dealing with old people and/or death. Kind of morbid... but in this case, it is in the best possible way.  A lonely old lady awaits death so that she may be with her beloved husband once again... however, when her time comes and the Reaper arrives, she is snatched from his clutches by a pompous surgeon who saves her life.  Not to be outdone, Death fights back and a madcap battle that is reminiscent of Looney Tunes and the Benny Hill Show ensues.  Hilarious, gorgeously animated, touching and dark as hell -- a great little film and my pick for Oscar gold!

loaf A MATTER OF LOAF AND DEATH (UK) -- Wallace and Gromit are back! This time, they're working as bakers, and cousin, business is booming! However, mystery is afoot, as local bakers appear to be disappearing with alarming regularity.  When Wallace meets and fall in love with his longtime bread-related crush, the "Bake-o-Lite Girl," it's up to Gromit to keep them in bread AND make sure that his master doesn't get in over his head.  If you're a fan of Nick Park’s grand creation, this film will not disappoint -- and will undoubtedly win the Oscar (have they ever lost?).  Personally, I like'em fine, but I'm not a rabid fan by any means.  Funny stuff, though!

granny_ogrinn GRANNY O'GRIMM'S SLEEPING BEAUTY (Ireland) -- I have no idea why this one was nominated. It’s about a seemingly-sweet old lady who tells a raging, bitter, warped version of Sleeping Beauty to her terrified granddaughter.  I liked the contrasting animation styles -- CGI for granny & kid; stylized 2D for the story itself -- but the skit is all build-up and shock value with no real payoff.  I realize that I am a bit of a Pixar apologist, but the fact that this forgettable mess was nominated over the far-superior PARTLY CLOUDY is a crime against humanity.

logorama LOGORAMA (France) -- Oh man, this one is CRAZY.  It’s set in a Los Angeles-esque world in which everything is made up of recognizable corporate logos and mascots.  I do mean EVERYTHING, ranging from pedestrians who look like AOL icons, to Michelin Man policemen, to traffic lights modeled after the Stop-and-Shop logo, to the MGM lion in a cage at the zoo (which is run by a flamboyantly gay Mr. Clean), to a murderous, rampaging Ronald McDonald... this film is no-holds-barred, wildly entertaining and I cannot believe it actually got made! Loaded with strong language, violence, car chases and natural disasters, this is truly the ultimate scathing of an over-marketed corporate America as only the French could portray! 

Aaaaand the little gold man should/will go to....

I'M ROOTING FOR: The Lady and the Reaper
WILL PROBABLY WIN: A Matter of Loaf and Death

Oh, before I forget, since the Oscar nominees were so short, we were also treated to three “highly considered” films, as well. They were as follows:

partly-cloudy PARTLY CLOUDY (USA) – Much like Pixar’s feature presentation, this year’s short film is not one of their best efforts -- but it’s still a world better than most other films.  Actually, this film, which tells the story of where the babies come from BEFORE the stork delivers them, has grown on me after re-watching it on Blu-Ray and again on the big screen.  The animation is splendid, the characters are memorable and the story is refreshingly original.  Puzzling that it didn’t get the nomination... would’ve been interesting to see Pixar vs. Nick Park in a battle of the animated short titans!

runaway RUNAWAY (Canada) – Mildly amusing but mostly forgettable piece about a train that hits a cow and careens out of control. The conductor is off gallivanting and it’s up to the lowly coal-pusher to save the day. Meanwhile, a bit of a class struggle occurs between the well-to-do set and the steerage passengers, with surprisingly dark results.  I liked the traditional animation, which was some of the most unique of any of the entries... but overall the film just wasn’t that great.

KINEMATOGRAPH THE KINEMATOGRAPH (Poland) -- Lovely, affecting film about an old inventor who is on the cusp of a major breakthrough that could change the world: moving pictures with color and sound. He works feverishly on his project, neglecting the outside world and his loving wife... and before he knows it, life has passed him by. Profoundly sad, somewhat disjointed, but beautifully animated -- particularly the way that the characters look like they're made of wood, complete with tree rings embedded in their skin.

In conclusion: Oscar Night is still a few days away, so get your sweet asses to the IFC Center immediately and see these films! Totally worth $25 for three solid hours of short film insanity!

P.S. In case you missed it, you can read my reviews of the Live-Action nominees right....... HERE!