Day Sixty-Seven – 82nd Academy Award Results: I’m 13 of 24

8 03 2010

Well, I guess this is old news now that I’ve taken a bit of a break from putting up a post a day. I’m going to give myself a pass based on a technicality and say it’s a post “representing” every day.

Given that poorly formed excuse, let’s see how I did with my predictions for the Oscars.

Best Picture

The seating arrangement was so cruel, forcing Cameron watch Bigelow get up and pick up an Oscar he, and I, thought would be his.

My Guess: Avatar
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
WINNER: The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

I truly believed that Avatar would win this category. Given that it’s the highest grossing film ever and the Oscars wants to seem like it’s “in touch”, I thought they had to go this way. I’m glad they didn’t. I was happy to see The Hurt Locker take this category, but I still think Up in the Air or An Education deserved it more so.

Best Actor
My Guess and WINNER: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Best Actress
WINNER: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
My Guess: Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

I took a risk guessing Streep and I know that. I felt like it would be her and clearly my feeling were wrong. I haven’t seen Bullock’s performance so I can’t argue whether it was worthy or not. What I can say is she did have the best speech of the night, by far.

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
My Guess and WINNER: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress
Penélope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
My Guess and WINNER: Mo’Nique, Precious

Mo’Nique upsets me. The first thing she says is that she’s happy that the Academy can focus on the work rather than the politics then immediately thanks Oprah and Tyler Perry for helping “get the word out”. It’s so beyond hypocritical it drove me nuts and I fast-forwarded through the rest of her acceptance speech in anger.

Best Director
My Guess and WINNER: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

No surprise here at all, but Barbara Streisand’s “the time has come” was much too corny for my tastes.

Best Original Screenplay
WINNER: Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker

Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman, The Messenger
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
Pete Docter, Bob Peterson & Tom McCarthy, Up
My Guess: Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

This was shocking, but I guess The Hurt Locker has to win in order to get the Best Picture.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche, In the Loop
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9
WINNER: Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Nick Hornby, An Education
My Guess: Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

This upset me for a couple of reasons. Up in the Air truly deserved to win. If not that, An Education. The shock of the loss for those screenplays was enough, but the fact that a writer, whose job it is to put words in peoples’ mouths had the worst speech of the night. Even Steve Martin had to take a jab at it.

Best Animated Film
Coraline
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells
My Guess and WINNER: Up

The streak continues.

Best Foreign Language Film
WINNER: El Secreto do Sus Ojos (Argentina)

My Guess: Un Prophete (France)
The White Ribbon (Germany)
Ajami (Israel)
The Milk of Sorrow (Peru)

Best Art Direction
WINNER: Avatar
My Guess: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Nine
Sherlock Holmes
The Young Victoria

Best Cinematography
WINNER:
Avatar
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
My Guess: Inglourious Basterds
The White Ribbon

The cinematography in Avatar reminds me of a scene from Entourage where Billy Walsh is upset that the colors look washed out. “It looks like somebody came on the lens!”

Best Costume Design
Bright Star
Coco Before Chanel
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Nine
My Guess and WINNER: The Young Victoria

Best Documentary
Burma VJ
My Guess and WINNER: The Cove
Food, Inc.
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Which Way Home

Best Editing
Avatar
District 9
My Guess and WINNER: The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious

Best Makeup
Il Divo
My Guess and WINNER: Star Trek
The Young Victoria

Best Score
Avatar
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Hurt Locker
Sherlock Holmes
My Guess and WINNER: Up

Best Song
“Almost There,” The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman
“Down in New Orleans,” The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman
“Loin de Paname,” Paris 36, Reinhardt Wagner & Frank Thomas
“Take It All,” Nine, Maury Yeston
My Guess and WINNER: “The Weary Kind,” Crazy Heart, T-Bone Burnett & Ryan Bingham

I love this song.

Best Sound Editing
My Guess: Avatar
WINNER: The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Up

Best Sound Mixing
Avatar
My Guess and WINNER: The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Best Visual Effects
My Guess and WINNER: Avatar
District 9
Star Trek

Best Documentary Short
China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
My Guess: The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant
WINNER: Music by Prudence
Rabbit à la Berlin

What’s been dubbed “the Kanye moment” wasn’t as interesting while watching it as it was finding out the back story to it all. Career suicide for her – one would hope.

Best Animated Short
My Guess:
French Roast
Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty
The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)
WINNER: Logorama
A Matter of Loaf and Death

I am so disappointed by this win. Logorama has no good qualities to it and completely drops the ball in regards to its gimmick. Why is Ronald McDonald a robber? Why not the Hamburglar? Not to mention how annoying the swearing is in this short. It’s clumsy and sounds much too forced. Not a fan of the flick and not a fan of its win.

Best Live-Action Short
My Guess: The Door
Instead of Abracadabra
Kavi
Miracle Fish
WINNER: The New Tenants

I wasn’t a fan of The New Tenants. I thought all the films were great except for Tenants, so I wasn’t so happy to see it win. It’s aching to be a Tarantino movie, but it isn’t. It feels like what Tarantino may write had he suffered a stroke. Really not very clever or entertaining, but not nearly as unenjoyable as Logorama.

That was the Oscars. I think I’ll relax on the movie talk for a little bit now.

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Day Sixty-Six – Oscar Predictions: Best Picture and Director

7 03 2010

It’s the big night. The Oscars are mere hours away and it’s time for the Best Picture and Best Director to be decided.

This year has been interesting. They included an extra 5 nominees for Best Picture to make sure that a snub, like The Dark Knight from last year, wouldn’t happen again. Instead, even with all the extra nominations, it has become a three picture race. I think the Best Director category is a good signal of what would have made the cut had the extra five slots not been introduced.

Without stalling any further, here are my predictions for Best Director and Best Picture:

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Jim Cameron said it himself that the Academy wouldn’t be able to resist giving the Best Director to a woman for the very first time in the Oscars’ 82 year history. Though the fact that she’s a woman had very little to do with the influence on the movie, which is as macho a film as you can get, it will have something to do with the voting. Sadly, the Oscars isn’t always about the merits of the films, but what voting for certain films can symbolize. In this case, it’s a sign of “equality”, which is kind of a joke when the purpose of an award is setting something above all others. Much like a member’s Facebook page, they put a lot of thought into the image they’ll have as much as, if not more than, the actual films themselves. Given that, Bigelow is a safe bet to win.

Best Picture
Avatar
The Blind Side

District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

Although I wasn’t its biggest fan, Avatar will likely win Best Picture. This year, particularly, is trying to get a mainstream audience to watch the Oscars get handed out. You don’t get much more mainstream than Avatar. Many have said it “changed the way films are made”. I don’t believe that statement to be true, but I think the Academy will. Also, if you win the box office, you’ll likely win Best Picture. That is, unless you’re Star Wars.

Those are my picks. I’ll post all my picks and the Academy’s picks tomorrow and tally them up. Any predictions of your own? Feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Enjoy the show and see you tomorrow.





Day Sixty-Two – Oscar Predictions: Music

3 03 2010

Music is a category that everyone can make a reasonable guess for. The problem with the category is it’s probably the most subjective of them all. There are agreed upon qualities that make a film a good film, but for music, there are so many different tastes and attributes that it’s hard to determine what the Academy will look for when thinking about the Best Score and Best Original Song.

My criteria is the most “hum-able” song and score.

Not that it has to be catchy or even “hum-able” in a literal sense, but what do I find myself humming when I’m doing menial tasks. Last year, I found myself humming the theme from The Dark Knight more often than not.

Though there isn’t a score that I find myself humming quite as much as that one, there is one clear winner…

Best Score
Avatar
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Hurt Locker
Sherlock Holmes
Up

I don’t even remember the Score from the other nominees. Avatar‘s was a little over-bearing at times, trying to fill in the gaps for character-development that the script didn’t provide. I didn’t even realize there was a score for The Hurt Locker, which is probably a good thing for the tone of the movie.

Up easily takes it as it conveys every emotion it needs to without ever trying to be the star of the show.

Download or sample the score to Up here.

Best Song
“Almost There,” The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman
“Down in New Orleans,” The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman
“Loin de Paname,” Paris 36, Reinhardt Wagner & Frank Thomas
“Take It All,” Nine, Maury Yeston
“The Weary Kind,” Crazy Heart, T-Bone Burnett & Ryan Bingham

Crazy Heart‘s “The Weary Kind” made the film. Aside from how important it is to the plot, it’s the song that got people into the theatre to watch the movie. The music was good all around, but “The Weary Kind” carries most of the weight and does so very well. Though I believe the producers of the Oscars made a good decision in dropping the five seperate performances for each nominated song, this is one I would have enjoyed seeing on the telecast.

Listen to a sample or download the single for Crazy Heart here.

This was one of the easier categories to predict and I’m pretty confident in my choices. Anything other than this would be a shock.

Tomorrow, we guess the Genre categories – Documentary, Animated and Foreign.





Day Sixty – Oscar Predictions: Technical Awards

1 03 2010

It’s a cliché to say “It’s an honor just to be nominated”. That’s usually reserved for those who aren’t voted as Best in their category, but for the technical awards, it holds true.

These awards are voted on by Academy members who don’t necessarily know what goes into good costume design or editing, where the nominations are voted on by their peers within the craft. That results in awards going to anyone who uses their craft in excess, making the artist’s influence on the piece very clear for the voter.

Here are my predictions:

Best Art Direction
Avatar
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Nine
Sherlock Holmes
The Young Victoria

My guess is Imaginarium based in my theory that the most apparent will win. You could also make the case for Avatar and Nine in that respect, but the Imaginarium has so much going on in one single frame that laymen will believe that to be better work than something a little more sublte like The Informant!, which wasn’t nominated.

Best Cinematography
Avatar
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The White Ribbon

Inglourious Basterds is a choice that I believe deserves to win and I predict that it will. Basterds had a glow to it that was reserved for the movies of Old Hollywood, when most of the films where shot on soundstages exclusively. For a film just as much about film as it was about the Second World War, cinematography becomes a part of the story telling.

Best Costume Design
Bright Star
Coco Before Chanel
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Nine
The Young Victoria

This category follows the theory more than any other. I’m usually able to pick a winner without ever seeing the film. Basically, the film with the most frilly and/or Victorian dresses win. This is a hard year to pick, since the choices are similar in style, but Victoria is just as much a fashion show as it is a film.

Best Visual Effects
Avatar

District 9
Star Trek

Whoever uses the most CG wins this category. Based on that alone, it goes to Avatar, which deserves it. The quality of the environments in Pixar-level good. If it doesn’t win this category, than I wouldn’t expect Avatar to win Best Picture either, since the CG was the main selling point. I’m a little upset that District 9 won’t get it, because the way that the humans interacted with the prawns hasn’t been so spot on since Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Best Editing
Avatar
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious

The most cuts wins. Action films tend to steal this category based on that and this year will be no different with The Hurt Locker. Avatar could surprise and collect another win here, but the film was a bit long to credit it for being able to cut stuff.

Best Makeup
Il Divo
Star Trek
The Young Victoria

The characters in Star Trek really packed on the make-up, as they always have in the series, and will likely be rewarded for doing so. The make-up was definitely the best of the series so far. Not as obvious as before and didn’t give everyone that vinyl look they have on the TV show.

Best Sound Editing
Avatar
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Up

Best Sound Mixing
Avatar
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

I’m going to admit, I have no idea why I’m voting for what I voted for here. I don’t understand why these categories are on the big show at all, but they’re here and I’m forced to make a choice. I basically split them between the front runners, but really I have nothing to back it up outside of a blind guess.

Now with the technical awards out of the way, we can jump into the categories where I can make an educated prediction, having seen much of the pictures up for awards this year.

Tomorrow, the Short Category. I’ve already posted my reviews and threw a prediction in for the Animated category. I’m hoping to see the Live-Action shorts tonight and will post my prediction for those tomorrow, along with the Short Documentary, which I’ve only seen a couple of.

Agree or disagree? Feel free to comment.





Day Fifty-Five – A Matter of Timing

24 02 2010

Timing is an important thing. I’m posting this post a day late, and clearly it won’t get the time it probably deserves when I post today’s post. It gets squeezed out.

The same logic could be used for movie releases.

Last year, the tubes of the internet were flabbergasted when Paramount announced that they were pushing the release of Shutter Island to February, effectively taking it out of the running for this year’s Oscars. Having seen the film, I don’t think it would have been nominated anyway, but that’s not why the move was such a good idea.

Shutter Island had the advantage of coming out in February, a time that is generally barren of high-thinking thrillers or prestige films.

Shutter Island opened with a $40 million dollar weekend. The highest on record for Scorsese or DiCaprio. Could this have happened in the “prestige” season of the fall?

I don’t think so. With so many other films coming out, week after week, jockeying for position, Shutter Island could have very well been lost in the shuffle. Given the choices in movies I had every weekend, watching a so-so reviewed thriller would have probably been the last of my concerns with films like Up in the Air and Brothers coming out around the same time.

Instead, Shutter Island is up against When in Rome and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Not to mention, Shutter Island came out unchallenged, being the only wide release of the weekend.

Not to mention, it had a couple of months to build hype, with people waiting for something they could once again sink their teeth into as they wade through the garbage that is January. Shutter Island had the identity of an Oscar quality movie, without any of the pressures that identity would have. Shutter Island is an okay movie. It definitely has its flaws (like not starting until an hour into the movie), but for February, it’s acceptable.

Avatar could be given the same credit. Would it have broken all the records it did if it was wedged in between Transformers 2 and Harry Potter? I doubt it. People who were missing the summer blockbuster in the cold of winter has their escape, and given the numbers, they did so multiple times at the same movie.

Cop Out is coming out this Friday, but the reviews aren’t looking pretty. They don’t usually for any film by Kevin Smith, so I take it all with a grain of salt. His brand of humor is definitely for a niche market, but what Warner Bros is doing right is releasing it now. Given the cast and the subject matter, an homage to the ’80s buddy cop movie, Cop Out sounds a lot more like a summer release, but would probably get lost in the shuffle. Releasing it now just gives it that much more of a chance to flourish.

Zach and Miri, Smith’s last film, is the perfect example of mis-scheduling. It came out on Halloween; a weekend that people were more interested in seeing Saw V. We’ll see if Cop Out can follow this record of excellent scheduling, but so far I’m impressed by Hollywood’s willingness to finally let go of the release system and just releasing a film when it’s right.





Day Thirty-Eight – It Finally Happened

7 02 2010

Finally, Avatar has been displaced from its #1 spot.

Dear John took the #1 spot for the weekend with $32.4 million overtaking Avatar’s still impressive $23.6 million in its eight weekend.

I’ve only seen Avatar once, but I’m in the minority. Even friends of mine who weren’t into it in their first visit have seen it twice, allowing it to maintain the run it has. Not to mention, those who have a friend who hasn’t seen it are going to watch it again with their one friend. It’s just insane how such a medicore movie has had such support behind it.

'Dear John' got the ladies to the theatre to take the throne from 'Avatar'...finally.

Another factor you can contribute to Avatar‘s success is that this is the first 3D movie a lot of people have been to, at least with this generation of 3D. People are attracted to the spectacle of Avatar and not its merits as a film. I’ve heard “it’s beautiful” by so many people that I’m worried that good, complex screenplays will have to fight even harder to get attention.

From what I hear, Dear John is not much better. I haven’t seen it, so I’ll stop any criticism there.

It does bring up an interesting factor that movie studios have just begun exploiting in recent years – young female audiences. They managed to come out to stop the teenaged boys and potheads from winning Avatar another #1 weekend at the box office. Young females can expect to see a lot more pushed their way in coming years.

I’m completely okay with that. As much as I like my big, action blockbusters, I’d much rather see Dear John than Transformers 3. If they give me some sort of story, I’m all for it. Sadly, summer blockbusters aimed at me have forgotten to do this, but the young ladies get some kind of story, regardless of how sappy or silly it may be.

Still, this is all just distraction until the summer begins. My hands have been tied, as far as helping stop Avatar‘s dominance at the box office. There just hasn’t been anything worth putting my support behind. I’ve been going to the theatre to watch Oscar contenders, rather than the week’s new releases.

At least until Shutter Island and Cop Out come out.





Day Thirty-One – One Month Later…

31 01 2010

I’ve made it thirty-one days so far, keeping my promise of posting new content every day. Out of it, I’ve had a few talking points. For many of which, there have been a few developments.

Here’s a handful:

Day Seven – Why Does Everyone Love “Avatar”?

After watching Avatar the week it came out, I wasn’t much of a fan. I knew it was going to make money, that was without question, but I didn’t think it had the legs to push as far as it has. Not only has it surpassed Cameron’s other record-setting blockbuster, Titanic, in the world-wide grosses, but it’s making a run for the domestic title.

It begs the question, who is still watching Avatar. I know a bunch of people who haven’t seen it and don’t intend to, yet they were there to partake the mammoth run of Titanic. Still, it manages to top the box office every single weekend. This one included, with a $30 million that a first-run movie would be happy to take home. There’s going to be a push to give Avatar the Oscar for Best Picture. I’m hoping they don’t give into the pressure after passing on The Dark Knight last year.

Day Nine – It’s About Time, But It Still Won’t Work

It took until the day of posting this for the Toronto Maple Leafs to make a move to bring them out of the rut they have put themselves in. Dion Phaneuf and J. S. Giguere will definitely bring some people back to the TV broadcasts and maybe keep the ticket holders in their seats, but it’s just one step in an eventual run to the Cup. They are still far from it, but at least there’s progress. Shocking progress, at that.

Day Eleven – 3D is a Gimmick!

I’m not the only one who thinks so. A bunch of people turned on 3D after the buzz at CES died off. Roger Ebert has always been against it and G4’s Adam Sessler joined the chorus when they threatened to gimmick-up his beloved games.

Day Twelve – Can’t Go Home Again

Jay did the clichéd thing that everyone does when they have a nice guy image to restore: he went on Oprah.

Still no telling if it’ll work, but he’ll have until at least September before Conan comes back.

Day Thirteen – Why Isn’t MMA Legal Here Yet?

I got some insight into why MMA is having such a hard time coming into the city, by way of The John Downs Show on AM 640. (January 25th)

Basically, people think violence is bad, even in the form of sport. They insist that the UFC is vile and the martial arts teach you respect. That just goes to show the lack of education in the subject people have.

My problem isn’t that people don’t like it. It’s not for everyone, but to prevent me from watching it because you think it’s disgusting is just sad.

Day Seventeen – Movie Theatre Etiquette

Sadly, nothing has changed on this front. I went to the theatre the following week and one of the employees walked in and toyed with his phone in the front row, holding it up so he, and I, could see better. How will movie-goers learn the etiquette if the employees don’t follow it themselves?

Day Twenty-One – I Hate the Evening News

This video says it all, and much better than I ever could:

Day Twenty-Three – I Miss the Drive-In

I still really miss the drive-in.

Day Twenty-Five – Movies I’ve Seen Recently and Why Criticker Makes Them Fun

This was my most popular post of all-time, thanks to a link-back from Criticker’s twitter. Thanks again.

Day Twenty-Eight – Over-Hype

Everyone seems to think they’re completely original when they mention that the iPad sounds like a maxi-pad.

It’s not.

I’m looking forward to next month. Hopefully I can still find something to write about.