Day Sixty-Five – Oscar Predictions: Acting

6 03 2010

Acting is a weird category. Much like the big categories, Best Director and Best Picture, the awards can often go to people who are “owed” the Oscar rather than to the best performance. There are certain things you can look for to guarantee a win as well. Play a living person. Wear a ton of make-up. Be a drunk or drug addicted person. For the supporting categories specifically, play a villain.

Given that, you can guess pretty safely who is going to win:

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

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

Jeff Bridges hasn’t won an Oscar, but he’s been around for a while. This is his fifth time nominated without a win, so it seems like it’ll probably go to him. Plus, he played a drunk and he actually sang in his movie. I want to say George Clooney or Colin Firth should win, but Jeff Bridges was great as Bad Blake, plus the odds are in his favor.

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Meryl Streep has been here before. Sixteen times before. Yet she hasn’t won since 1982 when she won for Sophie’s Choice. Now, she’s playing a celebrity and does a dead-on impersonation. The person herself, Julia Child, is very much like a cartoon, so someone who doesn’t know of her may not understand how close Streep is to Julia herself. I’d rather see Carey Mulligan take it home for An Education, but it’s very hard to bet against Streep. Still, it could always go to Sandra Bullock.

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

Last year, Heath Ledger won this category for recreating a villain that’ll go down in movie history as one of the creepiest and best ever. In Inglourious Basterds, Waltz creates the happiest and scariest multi-lingual Nazi ever. He was easily the best part of Basterds and the movie was pretty strong all around anyway. I’ve heard Stanley Tucci played an excellent villain in The Lovely Bones as well, and I haven’t seen it myself, but it would be a tragedy not to honor Waltz for this performance.

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

I was not crazy about Mo’Nique in Precious. She screams and yells. A lot. That seems to be enough to be considered great performance, but she’s also the only one that seems to follow the rules to predict this type of thing. Not to mention that every prediction out there seems to have Mo’Nique as a lock. I’d rather see it go to either of the ladies from Up in the Air, but it almost definitely won’t go to them.

Next and finally: Best Director and Best Picture.





Day Twenty-Nine – More Films I’ve Been Watching

29 01 2010

First off, I’d like to thank the people who clicked the link and signed up to Criticker to become my Kumpels. I’d also like to thank Criticker for posting the link to my post on their Twitter. I’m a big fan of the site and I’m happy to do what little I can to spread the word.

Secondly, I have written a bunch of reviews for flick I’ve seen recently. Here they are:

Precious

It’s hard to say bad things about ‘Precious’ out of guilt, but I fail to understand what makes this film so beloved. The film stars a bunch of musicians turned actors who all seem to hold their own. The story heads into ‘Million Dollar Baby’ territory with it’s need to pile-on the melodrama, which gets annoying more than anything. The entire film, Precious is given a million escape routes and you know that she will have to take it. When she finally does, it’s more of a relief than a celebration.

Rating: 25 (1 Star)

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Why is it okay for Nicholas Cage to act like a lunatic in some movies and not in others? I think ‘Bad Lieutenant’ has the answer, but it’s not to its benefit. There’s not much going on in this flick. The characters are all pretty one-dimensional, even though their quirks try to mask it. At the end of the day, Cage’s Terrence is a cop who likes drugs – a lot. It’s not all bad. How he juggles everything to his favour keeps things a little interesting, but even with that, there isn’t much to like.

Rating: 45 (2 Stars)

Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?

‘Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?” did more damage to itself by its title than by anything having to do with the content of the picture. Of course he doesn’t find Osama Bin Laden. It should have been called “Understanding Osama”, but that probably wouldn’t have sold so well. The doc manages to do what its thesis promises, which is to find out more about the people who hate America and why. When it’s locked at in that regard, I think it’s a success, but it does get reality-showish in parts.

Rating: 70 (3.5 Stars)

Tomcats

For some reason, I like ‘Tomcats’ a lot more than it deserves. The story is unoriginal. The gags are mostly gross-out humor, most of which we’ve seen before. There’s nothing redeming about any of the characters, who are a bunch of chauvinistic pigs who risk everything to win a bet. It’s like ‘She’s All That’ without any of the heart. For some reason, I’m willing to buy into Jerry O’ Connell’s Michael. Everything he does is reprehensible, yet you like him anyway because he smiles it all off.

Rating: 50 (2.5 Stars)

Insomnia

Howard Hawks said a good movie needs “three great scenes and no bad ones”. I’ve always loved that quote, as cheesy as it is to reference, but ‘Insomnia’ fits that bill entirely. It hits every beat like it was written right out of a screenplay format book. By-the-numbers as it can be, the scenes between Will and Walter are incredible. The tension mounts each time they gaze at each other. The power juggles between them with each word they utter. Yet, when they are apart, it’s only a good movie.

Rating: 75 (3.5 Stars)

Witness

‘Witness’ does little to maintain the tension it builds so well in the beginning moments. The lingering threat of John’s impending doom doesn’t create nearly as much tension as being on the run should. John resists the Amish culture and they resist him, but it doesn’t do much to shed any light on the characters. Rachel seems like she might be enchanted by life in the city, but that could also be her lust for John. In the end, it becomes a predictable shootout with nothing learned or gained.

Rating: 45 (2 Stars)

Stripes

There’s a scene in the first 10 minutes where John’s girlfriend says she’s leaving him because he has no direction in life. For the same reasons, I just couldn’t get into ‘Stripes’. There’s an annoying smugness to it. There’s very little purpose or consequence to anything that happens. Russell has a permanent grin on his face that doesn’t add to the humor and John is arrogant and annoying. The first half had promise, but as they sing song after song, it goes from cute to irritating. Not fun.

Rating: 15 (1/2 Star)

Sixteen Candles

‘Sixteen Candles’ is the most ’80s of the Hughes movies I’ve seen. The story of the awkward outsider putting on a brave face is timeless, so you get past the odd fashion choices and out-dated technology. Though Jack’s relative ease in trading off his girlfriend for information on a new crush is crazy when put into perspective, yet it somehow makes all involved likeable and human by the end. The only thing I could do without is the sound effects. Gongs, flings and crashes make it too silly at times.

Rating: 80 (4 Stars)

Gattaca

‘Gattaca’ isn’t about genetic engineering, it’s about the American Dream. Like ‘Rocky’, Vincent is the underdog in everyone’s eyes. The big difference being Vincent was born an underdog. The tension on whether people will discover Vincent for all of his genetic faults and the stumbling blocks he hits on the way to his goal has you investing yourself in him as you would Rocky. ‘Gattaca’ is a story of determination and sacrifice masked as a sci-fi epic. It’s impossible not to be motivated by it.

Rating: 100 (5 Stars!)

Clearly I’ve had a bit of time on my hands lately.

If you haven’t signed up to be my Kumpel yet, do it below.

It’s fun – I promise. Even if you don’t want to write reviews, just rank films. It’ll probably bring up some memories of flicks you’ve forgotten.

Why is it okay for Nicholas Cage to act like a lunatic in some movies and not in others? I think ‘Bad Lieutenant’ has the answer, but it’s not to its benefit. There’s not much going on in this flick. The characters are all pretty one-dimensional, even though their quirks try to mask it. At the end of the day, Cage’s Terrence is a cop who likes drugs – a lot. It’s not all bad. How he juggles everything to his favour keeps things a little interesting, but even with that, there isn’t much to like.