Wednesday, October 31, 2007

For Halloween...Top 5 Horror Movies

Call it cliche, but, in honor of Halloween, I've decided to do a little entry on my top 5 horrors. I'm separating thrillers from the category because I consider the two to be completely different genres. I would consider a "horror" movie to be the kind of film where things jump out at you and you have trouble sleeping at night. A "thriller", in my book, would be a movie that doesn't have a lot of violence or screams, but keeps your heart pounding until the end (almost like a mystery). But my top 5 thrillers would be:

1. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
2. Jaws (1975)
3. Rear Window (1954)
4. North by Northwest (1959)
5. King Kong (1933)

So, here we go with horror:

HORROR
5. Carrie (1976)
If you weren't a bit hoarse the day afterwards because of how loud you screamed during that final graveyard dream sequence, you might want to check your pulse. Like all Stephen King films and novels (except The Shining. Sorry), Carrie is unique in that it is not typical horror film gruel. The film also features some meaningful plot development, insightful observations about high school and fantastic performances from Sissy Spacek and, in a performance snubbed of a statuette (though she did receive a nomination, surprisingly), Piper Laurie.

4. Alien (1979)

I almost categorized this as a thriller, but it is so often referred to as a horror that I kept it here. I suppose I understand why that is, but you need to know what you're getting into before you watch Alien. The majority of this film is a very entertaining thriller. You only see the alien itself once in the famous stomach-burst scene in the first hour and a half. But don't let that fend you off; this is still a fantastic movie that gave me a fear of outer space (don't ask).


3. Misery (1990)
Like with Alien, this could easily be considered a thriller, but it's not quite there. Either way, I love this film. It and "Napoleon Dynamite" are my two most quoted films. Every time someone says the word "Misery", I have to control myself to keep from screaming out "HE DIDN'T GET OUT OF THE COCK-A-DOODLE CAR!" The best part about this film is Carl Reiner's inclusion of humor. Of course it is far from a comedy, but the ultra black comedy in this film makes it all the more enjoyable...and terrifying.

2. Psycho (1960)
Though some would be surprised to hear that this movie is not just about a woman getting stabbed in a shower, "Psycho" is downright creepy. And excellent. Truly Hitchcock's best film, "Psycho" is, contrary to popular belief, about a...well...psycho. Not a shower (but don't get me wrong...the shower scene was by far the best part). It is this movie's well-thought out plotline and compelling characters that make it all the scarier.


1. The Exorcist (1973)
Often referred to as the scariest movie of all time, but rarely as the best horror movie of all time. The fact is, it's both. Never in my life have I been so scared about anything--movie or otherwise. I mean, that face that they flash across the screen...eek. I've seen this film many times before, and I'm watching it again tonight, and I'm sure that I'll be just as mind-numbingly terrified as I have been in the past. Oh, boy...it sure is Halloween.


Stay safe :-)

London Film Festival: I'm Not There & The Savages

Today was my last film, "Juno", but since I'm a day behind on all of my reviews...

I'm Not There: In Review


One of my least favorite feelings while watching is a movie is to WANT to love the film you're seeing but you just can't. Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There" falls in that category for me. I absolutely loved the beginning of the film but as it continued, my attention drifted and I wanted it to end. Quite the opposite of "Bee Movie", I'm almost 100% sure that "I'm Not There" will be loved by many, if not all, but not by me. I may be called unintelligent and I may be accused of not understanding the film but, I assure you, I did understand the film and I was extremely disappointed. While the film did have some strengths, mainly in the acting, there were too many weaknesses for me.

"I'm Not There" was my most anticipated film of the year, which could possibly be the reason why I was so disappointed...my expectations may have been too high. That being said, the film doesn't deliver as a whole. For lack of a better word, there is too much "indie" in this film. Now, hold on. I'm not against indie. "Amelie" is my sixth favorite movie of all time and look how many indie elements are in that particular film. However, I firmly believe that a movie should not be quirky and indie unless the subject matter works with it. Bob Dylan's life, while this is a disagreeable statement, is not material for an indie-fied film. For instance, I felt that some of the transitions between the segments between the actors made no sense. The camera shots of all the actors playing Dylan were used two (or maybe three, to be honest, I can't remember exactly) times instead of just one to introduce us to the images of the actors. That just seems unnecessary to me. Why don't you just skip the "clever" transition and just go straight to the next segment?

The choice to make all of the "Dylans"' stories intertwine rather than in chronological order was a bad idea. Since all of the stories were told on top of each other, it was easy to lose track of what was going on. This brings me to my next point, the six actors aren't playing "Bob Dylan". They are playing different fictional characters ("Jude Quinn", "Billy the Kid", etc.) whose lives are similar to Dylan's, some more abstract than others. While this may look good on paper, it doesn't transition well to film. I loved the idea of six actors for Dylan...but they should have all been named "Bob Dylan" and it should have gone in chronological order. They all get the same screen time and it makes more sense so why didn't they do that? Well, I'm pretty sure it was just to try and be more complex and interesting. This aspect of the film is extremely pretentious. Oh, and some of the dialogue is groan inducing. For instance, after Cate Blanchett's Jude's girlfriend knocks a man out who is threatening to stab their whole party, he, or she rather, says: "Just like a woman". Sorry, but that's just lame.

Now, at this point, the general consensus of a guess for my letter grade for the film would probably be about a "D". But, it isn't. This is because they are still very good qualities of this film. The acting, by every actor, is exceptional. Cate Blanchett is obviously the star. While I didn't necessarily love her segment of the film, Blanchett excels as "Jude". She nails every Bob Dylan character aspect (unlike the other actors, she is pretty much playing Dylan with a different name...same hair, same clothes, mannerisms...) completely. While she won't be my Best Supporting Actress of the year, a nominee rather, she will most likely win the Academy Award. I also really enjoyed Marcus Carl Franklin's performance. His segment was enjoyable. Christian Bale is my favorite male "Dylan". Since, according to me, the "Six Dylan" approach didn't work, I would have much preferred a straight up music biopic of Dylan with Bale in the lead.

While this may come as a surprise, I enjoyed the screenplay. I just didn't like the way Haynes, who also wrote the film strangely enough, tackled it. The screenplay shifts from narrative to mockumentary to concert footage to everything in between. I really admired that. The dialogue was, for the most part, good. The screenplay will almost certainly make an appearance in the Academy's final five choices for Original Screenplay. It may make mine, I haven't decided.

While "I'm Not There" has bucketfuls of flaws, style problems, and some unnecessary material, the magnificent acting from every actor and the highly original screenplay redeem many of it's qualities. That being said, I'm still disappointed. B-

I bet you weren't expecting a bad-ish review on that, were you? Before "The Savages", I got to see Laura Linney (she was on the red carpet) and I got a good picture of that (I'll add it in an edit of this post).

The Savages: In Review

"The Savages" opens with a scene of elderly women cheerleading. We can't help but release a laugh. The beginning continues. We now see seniors doing some sort of aerobics in a pool. Other images of retirement communities come onto the screen. We slowly start to realize that these seemingly comedic moments are actually portraits of what these peoples' lives have become. Not necessarily a bad way of living, they don't think so, but we're introduced to another world in a way. The film deals heavily with old age. In that very subject, we are saddened but Tamara Jenkins, writer and director, also manages to put in oodles of dark humor that makes this, overall, a very good film.

I'll keep this review brief because I think I'll be able to write a better review that way. The real triumph in this movie is the acting. Laura Linney is Oscar-worthy, Philip Seymour Hoffman is fantastic. It is Philip Bosco, though, that really impressed. He is very deserving of an Academy Award nomination. It's a funny, sad, and moving performance. Look for him to make my personal awards at the end of the year. The screenplay is also fantastic for the reason I mentioned earlier, it makes us laugh while being in a sad situation. Well, that's it-plain and simple-"The Savages" is a knockout. A-

Tomorrow, my final London Film Festival review: "Juno".

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

London Film Festival: Bee Movie and No Country for Old Men

First off, sorry for the wait on these. The past two nights I've been getting in from the film festival at around midnight and I have been way too tired to write anything. But I've got the day off, until tomorrow when I'll see my final film of the festival, "Juno". So, here are my delayed reviews of Jerry Seinfeld's entertaining "Bee Movie" and the Coen Bros.' masterpiece.

Bee Movie: In Review


Jerry Seinfeld is one of my favorite comedians. "Seinfeld" is one of my all time favorite television shows. The man is a genius. In "Bee Movie", his new animated comedy, Seinfeld manages to entertain us but we can't help but feel that we expected a little more out of such a comedy god. I enjoyed it, I really enjoyed it, but I still feel like there could have been more for us to feel completely fulfilled.

We've seen one other animated movie this year where the protagonist is of a species that is not well regarded by humans. The first was "Ratatouille", for rats obviously, and now there is "Bee Movie" for bees. Both films did a good job of making us relate to them. However, both do it in a different way. While in "Ratatouille" we were shown that a rat could also have a talent and a hobby similar to humans, "Bee Movie" instead creates a life of its own where it may seem foreign to us but also quite recognizable. The first ten or fifteen minutes of the film are spectacular. The screenplay is very sharp. It integrates aspects of a bee's life (very short lifespan, worker bees, etc.) into ours. For example, Seinfeld's Barry B. Benson, the main bee, graduates high school in the "9:15" class and the one before him graduates in the "9:00" class. I thought that was quite clever.

The animation in the film is quite good. It looks more like a Pixar film than it does a Dreamworks film, or so I thought. In the beginning, we are introduced to the honey factory and the various jobs and I thought it was a quite brilliant work of animation. The animators did a really good job with that particular sequence. All the different jobs and machines in any of the factory scenes were really enjoyable to watch. The animation is very creative.

The film has some very funny moments but it also drags on a little in the middle. While the celebrity cameos are golden, especially Ray Liotta's, it evens out with some bordering-on-gimmicky plot in the middle. I think that the one storyline inside the film about Barry suing the human race because they were stealing the bee's honey was a cool idea but I didn't like some aspects of the way they carried out that plan. That being said, I still think it was a funny idea. There is a lot in the film that is fiction and could not possibly happen so be sure to go in with an open mind and not look for a scientific explanation everywhere.

It's hard to tell how a film like this will do when it goes nationwide and worldwide. One part of me thinks that it will be a huge success and then the other part of me says that it will pretty much bomb. The kids sitting behind me hated it. However, many adults I talked to really enjoyed it. I guess that it could be one that parents love but younger kids do not. Like I said, it's hard to tell. I liked a lot of the jokes intended for older audiences, especially the brilliant homage to "The Graduate", but some were in bad taste such as a suicide pact joke.

While parts of it really entertained me, I left "Bee Movie" feeling that there could have been more and that Seinfeld could have taken out some bits and pieces to make a more cohesive film. But, that being said, I do recommend it and I think it would be only fitting if I gave it a B.

That night, I went to the "Surprise Film". I had several hours in between "Bee Movie" and the "Surprise" so I was waiting that whole time shivering in excitement and anticipation in hopes of it being a great movie.

Even more so, I felt fear of the film being "Margot at the Wedding".

Thankfully, it wasn't.

No Country for Old Men: In Review


Ethan and Joel Coen are rightfully two of the entire film industry's most respected names. With films such as "O Brother Where Art Thou?", "The Big Lebowski", "Barton Fink", "Blood Simple", and my second favorite movie of all time- "Fargo" under their belt, it makes a lot of sense as to why they are so respected. My opinion of the film has been said millions of times. It's probably the phrase I'm least sick of hearing this awards season too. Here it is: "No Country for Old Men" is a masterpiece. It is the Coens' best film since "Fargo". It's an instant classic.

Oh, my friends, but it is so much more too.

I don't know what Kris Tapley was thinking when he gave the film **12/****.

Everything about the film is just plain fantastic. The cinematography is amazing, it reminds me of "Fargo" except in the desert rather than snow. Every single actor in this film is great. Tommy Lee Jones gives his best performance ever, better than in "The Fugitive", for which he won his Oscar. His monologues, which are almost straight from the book, are expertly delivered. Every facial and body movement is exactly in the vein of Ed Tom Bell. Josh Brolin is also great as Moss and it is a performance that I was much more impressed with than I thought I would be. Kelly Macdonald's work as Carla Jean, Moss' wife, is some of the best Supporting Actress work I've seen this year, and I've seen Cate Blanchett for "I'm Not There" (review to come tomorrow or Thursday). She is extremely good and I honestly believe that she holds a chance to getting an Academy Award nomination. Although her screen time is widely spread apart at times, she still manages to make an impact. I absolutely loved this ensemble. The Coens do an inspired job with directing this masterpiece but, to me, that really goes without saying. Every film they direct is directed well.

Oh yeah, and Javier Bardem is the best on screen villain since Hannibal Lecter. Not only is it the best Supporting Actor job of the year (I've seen Wilkinson, Bosco, Mueller-Stahl, and several others) but is the best Supporting Actor performance of the decade. Anton Chigurh is a character that we are absolutely scared to death of but still eagerly anticipate Bardem's screen time and can't help but release a chuckle when we see him following someone we know is about to die on a staircase in the back of the frame. He is truly frightening. I could talk about his performance for hours but I won't. You just need to know this: Javier Bardem gives an unbelievable, incredibly satisfying, scary, haunting, troubled, violent, expertly crafted, superbly acted performance. Not to mention that his haircut just might be one of the contributing factors to why he is so scary yet strangely comedic.

The screenplay is a wonderfully done adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's excellent novel. It is a sure contender at the Academy Awards and will most likely be my winner at the end of the year.

There isn't one bad thing I can say about "No Country for Old Men". The reason this review is so poorly written is because I've run out of ways to express my love for the film and can't help but repeat the same thing over and over again because...I felt that it was fantastic and 'fantastic' SHOULD be used again and again and over and over.

It's a masterpiece, plain and simple. You will see me campaigning this film a lot more once the awards start coming out. A

Tomorrow I should have reviews for the Bob Dylan biopic "I'm Not There" and the extremely intimate, hilarious, and heartbreaking "The Savages".

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

London Film Festival: Quick Update

I sadly don't have much time right now to write out full reviews for "Bee Movie" and the Surprise Film which was...


NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN!!!

But, I'll give a brief letter grade and I assure you that there will be full reviews for both soon.

Bee Movie: B
No Country for Old Men: A
(replaces "Atonement" as my favorite film of the year...it's flawless)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Juno" Takes Best Picture at Rome Film Festival

I am soooo confident in this film (perhaps too confident). I cannot wait!

London Film Festival: Rescue Dawn and Grace is Gone

I thought that today would probably be the day where I was least impressed with the two films I saw. I was pretty incorrect. I saw a brilliant Vietnam (but without the fighting) POW drama, Werner Herzog's "Rescue Dawn", and John Cusack's best performance to date in the extremely moving "Grace is Gone". I've been extremely fortunate that every new film I've seen this month has pleased me (and even more fortunate that the majority of these good movies are at LFF...I'm paying up to 11 pounds for these tickets!).

Rescue Dawn: In Review


My immediate thoughts when coming out of Werner Herzog's latest film, "Rescue Dawn", were about how unbelievably stupid the distributors of this film were when it was released in the United States. This is a quality film and it was completely forgotten about when it was released back in July. I was angry at how such a profound film with two fantastic performances by Christian Bale, turning in great work (as usual), as Lieutenant Dieter Dengler, a German born fighter pilot who crashlands in Laos on his first mission, and a career best performance by Steve Zahn ("That Thing You Do!", "Daddy Day Care", "Sahara", "Saving Silverman"...I'm quite familiar with his work from my preteen years) as Dieter's fellow POW Duane and "one true friend" in Asia, will be completely forgotten by Oscar time. Hopefully this film will get some sort of jumpstart back into the Oscar arena when it is released in the UK (November 23rd) but it isn't likely. Which, once again, is a damn shame.

Although the editing, cinematography, and direction were all exceptional, the acting and writing are really the film's two main highlights. Christian Bale's performance is very good. While Dieter is on the borderline of annoying in the first six or seven minutes, he is a character we learn to like and respect as we are shown his determination to get out of the camp. Bale does this extremely well. Steve Zahn deserves an Oscar nomination but, as I said earlier, he doesn't stand a chance because of the film's distribution. Zahn's Duane is a disturbed and war weary character that we sympathize with but also understand his fear at the same time. Jeremy Davies is also quite good as the paranoid prisoner Gene (short for Eugene, he's from Eugene, Oregon. I thought that was a nice touch). Gene's character is very confident in his belief that the military will rescue him and that also works well as he serves as the foil to Dieter. As for the writing, the screenplay is quite good and it does a very nice job of the conversations between the prisoners. There isn't an abundant amount of dialogue in the film but the dialogue that is used it great.

While it will ultimately be forgotten come Oscar time due to the horrible distribution, "Rescue Dawn" is very worth seeing and it is one of the best films of the year. A-

Grace is Gone: In Review



In the first five minutes of "Grace is Gone" we meet Stan Phillips. He works at a supply store as, although it is never actually stated right out, some sort of a leader to the employees. He leads them in a chant that they do before each work day. This cheer is hilarious. It is at that moment that you realize that not only will this be a great drama but also full of great comedic bits.

In the aforementioned five minutes, we know what is going to happen. It's inevitable. It's in the trailer, it's on the IMDB page, we read about it at Sundance, it's the film's BASIC synopsis...Stanley's wife will die in Iraq. When Stan is informed, at least for me, it does not hit home all the way. What the film does is make that fact hit home as the film progresses. Stan doesn't tell his daughters. Instead he takes them to Dave & Busters and then eventually takes them on a road trip to "Enchanted Gardens" in Florida. While he grieves his wife to himself, he doesn't let anyone else around him know that his is troubled by it and, more importantly, doesn't tell anyone. People know although Stan hasn't told them. The girls' school knows, his friends know...but his daughters do not. That is the central conflict in the story. As time goes on, it becomes harder and harder for Stanley to tell them and it gets worse and worse that he has not. Watching the girls' happiness on the road while knowing they are naive to what is going on is truly heartbreaking. I bawled during this movie and if you didn't at least get a lump in your throat then I honestly think that you should check your pulse. This is a fantastic film.

Obviously, the force to be reckoned with in this film is John Cusack. Cusack's Stan is a conservative, ex-soldier, and an average father who maybe expects a little too much of his daughters. It is a hard character to like in the beginning of the film until we see the other sides to him. The death of his wife affects him in a profound way. He becomes warmer but that is ultimately masking his sorrow. Cusack plays all the layers of Stan to absolute perfection. I'll say it on record: If John Cusack is denied an Academy Award nomination for this work then I will have lost some respect for the AMPAS.

The screenplay is also magnificent. It deals with the mentioned subject of Stan's daughters not knowing and Cusack's internal struggles which include losing his wife and also losing faith in the country that he loves because of the death. It also deals with growing up and childhood. One particular image, that had to have been written in the screenplay, that I particularly liked was in a department store scene. The image is of three children's items. The first if a playset. The penultimate is two toy cars. The third is a toy house. It's an illustration of growing up. There are many different types of characters in the screenplay (ranging from military wives who are fawning over one of the wife's phone sex experience with her husband in Iraq, a truly funny moment, to a failed brother of Stan's) and they are all written extremely well. The mix of comedy and drama in this film is also a strong area. However, the most impressive is that it does a remarkable job of making an anti-war statement by showing an account of the effects of the death of a loved one in Iraq. If every story for everyone who has lost a loved one in a war is like this then that is enough to make someone against any war, no matter what the cause. For all of those reasons, "Grace is Gone"'s screenplay is an absolute triumph.

Led by a triumphant screenplay and a fantastic career-best performance by John Cusack, "Grace is Gone" is surely one of the best films of the year. While some may dislike it for it's subject material (I know one Oscar prediction website that will most likely loath it to the very core because of it's anti-war statement) and extremely sad storyline (I cried my eyes out for the last twenty minutes), I found those to be the film's strengths. It is certainly one of my favorite films of the year. John Cusack is unbelievable. His talent makes you green with envy. A

Tomorrow I will see Jerry Seinfeld's animated "Bee Movie" as well as the ever popular and mysterious "Surprise Film". Past "Surprise Film"s have been "The Prestige", "Sideways", "Mrs. Henderson Presents", and "School of Rock". This leads me to my question to all of you out there...

What do you all think the "Surprise Film" will end up being tomorrow? Comment and we'll see who was right and who was wrong when I post these reviews on Monday. I've got my money on either "No Country for Old Men", "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street", or "There Will Be Blood".

A New Sweeney Todd Trailer

The new "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" trailer can be seen here.

I can't find an official link and although the beginning looks like a trailer that has just been put together by a fan, I'm pretty sure this is a real trailer. Let me know what you think. If it isn't official then someone did an amazing job.

I think it looks a lot more intense than the first trailer (which is a VERY good thing). Depp certainly looked better. Thoughts?

Monday, October 22, 2007

New Predix: Best Supporting Actress

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Cate Blanchett-I'm Not There-Now that The Golden Age is basically out of the picture, this category is basically hers to lose unless an unseen contender arrives (which, considering the lineup, is possible).

2. Romola Garai-Atonement-This category is so weak that it could be a safe haven for newcomers.

3. Jennifer Garner-Juno-Could this be her first serious movie role? The trailer seems to indicate so...

4. Kelly MacDonald-No Country for Old Men-If the film is as successful as I think it will be, the Academy might just honor the entire cast.

5. Julia Roberts-Charlie Wilson's War-I really don't think it's going to happen, but this category needs a space filler.


IN THE RUNNING
6. Saorsie Ronan-Atonement-Her performance has been raved (after all, it is Atonement), but I think that they're only going to honor one Briony. And I doubt that they'll give out two Best Supporting Actress nominations to children two years in a row.

7. Jennifer Jason Leigh-Margot at the Wedding-Her reviews are very good, but the bad reviews for the film itself will probably overpower her.

8. Vanessa Redgrave-Atonement-Like I said, I think that they're only going to reward one Briony, and her role seems small.

9. Meryl Streep-Lions for Lambs-What happened to the buzz for this film?

10. Susan Sarandon-In the Valley of Elah-At this point, the buzz is basically at 0.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Predix: Best Actress

BEST ACTRESS
1. Ellen Page-Juno-I know that The Golden Age and Rendition have taught us not to jump to conclusions just because of a great trailer, but...

2. Marion Cotillard-La Vie en Rose-To my surprise, this film has only increased in buzz as time has passed. I really need to see this.

3. Keria Knightley-Atonement-Because it's Atonement.

4. Laura Linney-The Savages-My confidence in this film is fading, but it is hard to go wrong with Linney.

5. Amy Adams-Enchanted-See #1.

IN THE RUNNING
6. Helena Bonham Carter-Sweeney Todd-She's good in anything she does, but I think that the Academy will pass on Sweeney.

7. Julie Christie-Away From Her-It's impressive and deserved that her buzz has stayed alive throughout the year, but I need precursor attention before I consider her.

8. Angelina Jolie-A Mighty Heart-Like with Christie, it's impressive that people still remember her, but the box office numbers were too weak.

9. Halle Berry-Things We Lost in the Fire-Poor Halle. She finally takes a good script in hopes of another Oscar nomination to regain her respect, and then her co-star steals the show.

10. Cate Blanchett-The Golden Age-Horrible box office and even worse reviews have thrown this once unstoppable vehicle into hopelessness. Oh well. At least she still has I'm Not There.

Goodbye, Margot

Sorry for getting your hopes up, Nicole.

Golden Globe Predix: Best Actor

BEST ACTOR (DRAMA)
It happens to be that all of my predicted Best Actor nominees are in dramas. HFPA friendly dramas, might I add. However, there are a few changes. Watch: DANIEL DAY-LEWIS IN THERE WILL BE BLOOD continues to look very, very strong. I can totally see him pulling off his second kinda-sorta deserved Oscar win, and that would start here. Naturally, JAMES McAVOY IN ATONEMENT will more than likely be nominated, just because of that last bolded word. JOHN CUSACK IN GRACE IS GONE is also looking much stronger, and once we have some more reviews, we'll know for sure. However, I'm pretty confident that he will pull off a GG nod. God knows he's due for some awards attention. BENICIO DEL TORO IN THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE is looking stronger every day, and the reviews are generally saying that the thing that keeps the movie from sucking is his performance (sorry, Halle). Look out for him. And, last but not least, I am sad to say that Denzel Washington in American Gangster has gotten raves. Don't get me wrong; Denzel is one of the best actors of this generation. I just can't stand being wrong about those kinds of things. Still, I'm keeping AG out of my Oscar AND Golden Globe predix until it has a final RT Rating (which is now at 100%. Grr). So, my choice for the fifth spot is EMILE HIRSCH IN INTO THE WILD because I'm already predicting it to get a Best Picture (Drama) nod, and his performance kind of goes hand-in-hand.

BEST ACTOR (MUSICAL OR COMEDY)
JOHNNY DEPP IN SWEENEY TODD
is basically a lock unless the film is a complete bomb, simply because everyone knows that the Golden Globe's can't resist Depp in anything. And in a musical? We might as well do this category over the phone. However, it is still exciting to think of who the other nominees will be, since it has no other serious contenders. STEVE CARREL IN DAN IN REAL LIFE has gotten a fair amount of buzz from critics, and you know how I feel about the film and his performance. I honestly think that it's being severely underestimated. The next three spots are basically up for grabs, but after watching the trailer for Juno for about the 10,000th time, I'm pretty sure that MICHAEL CERA IN JUNO would be considered lead. Thankfully, my second favorite film so far this year (first is Waitress) is finally gaining some buzz; possibly enough to lead GLEN HANSARD IN ONCE to a GG nomination. I actually think the film might have a chance at a Best Picture (M/C) nod, as well. I'm giving the final spot to JACK NICHOLSON IN THE BUCKET LIST simply becasue there are no other real contenders, and they could just choose to honor Jack because he's Jack. But who knows?

Come back tomorrow for Golden Globe Best Actress predix.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dan in Real Life in Review


Wow, we have been blogging a LOT today. Must mean it's almost Oscar season :-). And speaking of Oscar contenders, watch out for Dan in Real Life. I saw it at a sneak preview, and I was unbelievably impressed. I don't want to give anything away, because I loved having a sense of not having any idea what was going to happen when I saw it, so I'll just say that the script was extremely smart, funny and realistic; so rare to find in a big-budget comedy anymore. But, of course, the main attraction here is Steve Carell, who not only showcases his well-known comedic skills here, but also shows some impressive dramatic work that could easily make him into Hollywood's next big leading man--and he's 45 years old. But I have a sense that he'll get the GG nod and maybe even an Oscar nomination if the movie is as successful as it should be. Be sure to catch this one next weekend. A-

London Film Festival: Steve Buscemi Interview and "Enchanted"

I just got home from a weekend at the London Film Festival. On Friday, I saw an exclusive interview with Steve Buscemi and today I saw the newly buzzed "Enchanted" with Amy Adams. Here are my thoughts:


Steve Buscemi Interview

Let me start off by saying that for the last three weeks I have been obsessing over getting tickets to this event. Even with my priority booking (I'm a member of the BFI), it was sold out when I looked for tickets. When more tickets were let out on October 12th, Steve Buscemi tickets were not available. I think went up for sale while I was at "Eastern Promises". This (and "I'm Not There, which I do have tickets to) was the event I wanted to see the most. Well, I took a train in yesterday and got in line for standby tickets. I was about tenth in line but I didn't think my chances were all that good. When I got the tickets...I about fainted.

Steve Buscemi is one of my all time favorite actors. C'mon, it's Steve Buscemi. This is the man who brought Carl Showalter, Mr. Pink, Donny Kerabatsos, and thousands of other character parts to life. He's also, though I haven't actually seen any of his films, a director. He's directed "Trees Lounge", "Animal Factory", "Lonesome Jim", and the new "Interview". He's also directed episodes of "The Sopranos" and "Oz". He's written some stuff too.

While I sat in my seat waiting for the interview to commence, I observed that it was going to be set up very similar to Inside the Actor's Studio, which it was. The interviewer (she actually did quite a bad job) came on stage and said that they were going to screen the trailer for "Interview" before Buscemi came on stage. The lights went down and everyone waiting for the trailer to begin. And waited. And waited. And waited. There were, needless to say, technical difficulties. At this moment, a shadow from the bottom right corner of the room, next to the door, spoke with his nasally and unbelievably recognizable voice:

"We'll just act out the trailer!"

The whole theatre burst into laughter at Buscemi's joke and finally the trailer started. After it had finished, the interview began. Buscemi talked about his thoughts on the industry, his opinion of himself ("I like to think of myself as a tree") and films today, directing, acting (he said that he sees all of his character parts as "normal people" who have to work out problems), and other very interesting topics. Buscemi really came off as a down to Earth professional. He said that in order for him to accept a role in a movie, it isn't about the other stars involved, the director, or any members off the crew...it's about the writing. He said that if he were to ever be in any film about an important cause...it had to be written well. While the questions that he was being asked were not necessarily good questions, Buscemi gave absolutely great answers. The interview as a whole was a very exciting experience and one that I really enjoyed.

After seeing Buscemi's interview, I headed into Leicester Square to see if Brad Pitt was going to show up for "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" gala but he did not. The director, Andrew Dominik, and Robin Tunney both showed up. Dominik came off as unbelievably arrogant...and he's made two films.

Today, I took the train in to see "Enchanted". Before the film, I saw Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, and Alan Menken. The next couple pictures are all ones that I took.




Enchanted: In Review

I don't think I can name the last great movie that Disney has made without the help of the most brilliant animation studio today: Pixar. Well, Disney can now boast "Enchanted" as their last great movie. While the film definitely has some groan inducing moments (but just one or two...it is a modern children's movie so how could it not?), this is still a very pleasing film. Amy Adams, as buzzed about, is absolutely fantastic. She gives the best lead actress role I've seen this year. It is also one of the funniest performances I've seen this decade. If you've seen the trailer then you can probably get a pretty good idea of what her performance will be like during the beginning half. During the second half, Soon-to-be-Princess Giselle receives some major character development that could either make the Academy more favorable of her performance or less. Adams' performance is not one dimensional like many would think. Like I just said, there is some major character development. I hate to repeat myself but I must. Adams is a delight. She is the film's major highlight, obviously, and not only does she merit a nomination but she could be a potential contender for Best Actress considering how weak the category is bound to be this year. The screenplay, I thought, was pretty great. While some may think it is "ripping off classic fairy tale story lines", the film is actually "ripping ON classic fairy tale story lines" (The song "That's How You Know" is directed and choreographed to utter perfection to spoof on Disney musicals. It's one of the funniest scenes I've scene this year). The whole poison apple, true love's kiss, spell breaks at stroke of 12, villain turns into dragon, etc. etc. etc. is in the film and I thought it worked brilliantly. The songs were hilarious and the dance numbers were gut-bustingly funny. While parts were predictable, it is the predictabilities in the script that make it so strong. After all, aren't the films that this film is farcing predictable? So why shouldn't this one be?

As I said before, though, the film does have some flaws. Those flaws are areas in the script. While I said that the script is good, these flawed parts are obviously aimed towards children and kids will love the film even more thanks to these parts but will make adults and teenagers a little annoyed. Still, this film is one that will make you leave the theatre much happier than when you came in. Other Oscar possibilities that the film has, besides the obvious Best Actress, are in Costume Design, Makeup, Original Song, and (not much of a chance at all but still a possibility because of the way it spoofs other Disney films) Original Screenplay.

I must say, this is probably one of the most unlikely contenders for an Oscar in God knows how long. That being said, the film is a true delight and Amy Adams pleases big time. If her unexpected buzz continues to grow for this film, she will most likely receive a nomination and possibly win the Golden Globe. B+

Here's a picture of the program that you got in your seat-


"Lust, Caution" premiered right after "Enchanted" in the same theatre so when I exited back onto the red carpet to go to dinner, I saw someone who some of you may know (I took this picture)...

Seeing Ang Lee was unbelievably exciting.

Well, I'm afraid my next London Film Festival update won't be until a week from today when I'll be seeing one film that probably won't make much of a difference to anyone, "Rescue Dawn", but then I'm seeing one that is indeed on the Oscar radar for a possible Best Actor nomination, "Grace is Gone".

Until then, enjoy your week and I look forward to giving reviews for those two films a week from today.

Wait a Second...

What ever happened to My Blueberry Nights? It got pretty good reviews at Cannes, and for a while, everyone thought that Norah Jones would get a Best Actress nomination. I haven't seen her in anyone's predix since...August? July? What went wrong?

New "I'm Not There" Trailer

The new trailer for Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There" can be seen here.

What do you think? I think it is better than the magnificent first trailer. It highlights all of the Dylans a lot better, that's for sure.

There will be a review up for "I'm Not There" a week from Monday so be sure and look for that.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Golden Globe Predix!

To be totally upfront, I never understood why out of all the other Oscar precursors, the Golden Globes is the only one produced on Network TV. The Hollywood Foreign Press has got to be the most biased board of voters in the industry; if an actor gives a good performance in the type of movie they would like (i.e. a musical, quirky drama or independent comedy), they will nominate them for whatever they touch (a la Johnny Depp, Barbra Streisand, Renee Zellweger...you get the idea). Not only that, but every year their choices have less and less impact on the Oscars. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it is certainly frustrating when people think that if the Best Picture winner did not win the award at the Globes, it is a "surprise."

That said, the fun thing about the Globes is that they honor "lighter" movies, and their selections are usually quite easy to predict. So what will be a hit at the Globes this year? Take a look (titles written in bold are predicted to be nominated):

BEST PICTURE (DRAMA)
Almost purely by coincidence, the (so far) undisputed frontrunner ATONEMENT is a visually impressive love story; the kind of film that the HFPA would want to honor in this category. Consider it in. THERE WILL BE BLOOD also looks strong, what with the Paul Thomas Anderson factor. But it does have some realistic violence in it, which could fend off voters, but I doubt it. The film's reviews have been too strong for even the Globes to ignore. THE KITE RUNNER is looking less strong, but I still think it will have the momentum to pull off a nod in this category (however, probably not at the Oscars). Contrary to popular belief, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is not looking all that strong at the Globes. Yes, it is Coen Brothers, but it's Coen brothers like you've never seen them before. And yet, I have a great deal of confidence in this project. This and There Will be Blood are looking to be the silent threats of the year. As for the fifth spot, it's basically a match between Charlie Wilson's War and Into the Wild, but I'm going with INTO THE WILD simply because it has more Golden Globe appeal than Charlie Wilson's War. But fortunately for the latter, it has a better chance of scoring at the end of the year.

BEST PICTURE (MUSICAL OR COMEDY)
The separation of Comedies and Dramas is the best known difference between the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. This is where those GG trademarks that I was talking about come into play. And nothing fits that trademark better than JUNO, my prediction for sleeper comedy of the year. Well...almost nothing. Even if the reviews are horrible, SWEENEY TODD is basically guaranteed a spot on the lineup. And if it is even a modest hit, it will sweep this category. I mean, it's a musical starring Johnny Depp directed by Tim Burton. Can you say Golden Globe? HAIRSPRAY is actually looking weak, despite its outstanding reviews and HFPA bait galore. However, it still has that John Travolta musical factor, which will probably be enough to drive this to a nomination. THE SAVAGES has an HFPA friendly feel on the surface, but the more I think about it, the less likely I think it will happen. But the reviews continue to be exceptional, and if that continues, it should get the nod. Just as before, I am torn between two films for the fifth spot. This time it is Margot at the Wedding and Enchanted. Believe it or not, I am actually going with ENCHANTED. Margot at the Wedding has gotten lukewarm reviews, and Enchanted looks absolutely fantastic; kids movie or otherwise. You'll probably hate me for this, but I think that Enchanted actually has a shot at getting some awards attention beyond just Best Actress (Best Original Screenplay anyone?).


Stay tuned for acting predix.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

London Film Festival: Opening Night Gala


Last night was the Opening Night Gala of the 51st London Film Festival. I was lucky enough to get tickets last week and the event was unbelievably exciting. "Eastern Promises", it has not yet been released in the United Kingdom, was the film. I saw Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, and David Cronenberg, who may be the classiest living director in person. Stephen Frears and Terry Gilliam were there as well, or so I'm told, but I didn't actually know this until I was reading the newspaper today. The screening took place at the Odeon Leicester Square (the picture above is the theatre although it is obviously not a recent photograph) and the whole red carpet (I got to walk on it) getup was all there. The staff had placed a small program, a bottle of water, and some excellent dark chocolate in each individual seat...which was a very cool touch. Before the film, Anthony Minghella, the Chair of the BFI as well as the Academy Award winning director of The English Patient, and Amanda Nevill, director of the BFI, did a short introduction before the film and then invited Robert Thomson, the Editor of The Times who bears an absolutely striking resemblance to "Ratatouille"'s Anton Ego, onto the stage and then he gave his two cents. Sandra Hepbron, Artistic Director of the LFF, then spoke for a couple minutes and then invited David Cronenberg onto the stage who then, once again, welcomed the producers as well as Vincent Cassel and Naomi Watts onto the stage (Mortensen was in the States filming). Cronenberg talked about the film--like I said, ultra classy and very witty--and then the film started (See review below).

I've got tickets for several other films that I have already mentioned and the next event I have tickets for, but not necessarily the next one I'll see, is Disney's newly buzzed "Enchanted" (weird choice for a film festival...tell me about it) with Amy Adams. I may be seeing Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution" the day I see "Enchanted".


Eastern Promises: In Review


David Cronenberg's newest film, "Eastern Promises", opens with a scene that Sweeney Todd would watch in envy. This scene sets the mood of what will unfold to be one of the best mob movies in recent memory. This is a first class thriller and a very entertaining film. Setting the film in London is one of the film's main strengths. Cronenberg's vision of London is unlike any that has been seen by tourists or most people living in the city. This is a London where you must always be cautious of what is around the corner and if you don't watch out then you might find yourself without teeth, fingers, or toes and thrown in the Thames in a body bag. This new, and terrifying, London adds so much excitement to the film and really seems to become a character in the film as time goes by. The brilliant performances by Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel, and Armin Mueller-Stahl, the fantastic direction by David Cronenberg, and the already mentioned London scenery make "Eastern Promises" one of the best films of the year.

Viggo Mortensen plays Nikolai, a mysterious chauffeur for one of the notorious families in the Russian mafia, the Vory V Zakone. Mortensen's intense performance is, indeed, the actor's best performance to date. It seems that whenever he teams up with David Cronenberg, that phrase is uttered. It is a very physical performance and also one that requires excellent delivery of Steven Knight's dialogue, which he does excellently. Armin Mueller-Stahl is Semyon, the head of the family that Nikolai drives for. Mueller-Stahl's work in this film is captivating. Although this point has been made by numerous reviews, his transitions between the family loving Grandfather and then the violent mob boss are what really make his performance. It is one of my favorite supporting works of the year and, as of now, probably my favorite. Vincent Cassel, best known to the English speaking world as Fran├žois Toulour in "Ocean's Twelve" and "Ocean's Thirteen", plays Kirill, Semyon' son. Cassel delivers an extremely impressive performance that deserves serious Oscar buzz but will probably not gain it. While I think that Mueller-Stahl gives a better performance, Cassel is almost just as good. Just so she is not left out, Naomi Watts does a good job in this film but in her earlier scenes I was, simply put, not impressed. As the film went on, I started to enjoy her performance more but it really is just a solid performance and nothing else (I'm not saying that a solid performance is not a good thing, Watts definitely does a good job).

David Cronenberg's direction, however, is what impressed me the most. The infamous shower scene towards the last third of the film is one of the best directed scenes of the decade. Other notable directorial achievements in this film are all of Nikolai's character developing mannerisms (The best being when he puts a cigarette out on his tongue) and also Armin Mueller-Stahl's already mentioned transitions from good to bad. I can easily see this being my favorite directing job of the year but I don't think the Academy will go for it due to the extreme violence that the film has. Steven Knight's screenplay, while impressive, has some flaws. A lot of these flaws are earlier in the film, like some of Watts' acting, and are later redeemed but I still can't help but remember some of the little details that bugged me.

"Eastern Promises" is one of the year's best films and should be noted especially for the exceptional directorial work by David Cronenberg and also the superb acting by the ensemble. A-

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wow...



I really see why Amy Adams is getting all that buzz now! It looks like the most fun...ever.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

No Country for Old Men: NOVEL in Brief Review


I've just finished Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men"; the novel that the Coen Bros. buzzed film is adapted from. If the Coens do a faithful remake, which they have said on record that they have, then this will be one hell of a film. Llewellyn Moss is an interesting character and it is very entertaining to read about his methods of hiding the money, getting around, staying hidden, etc. The dialogue is quick and well written and the Coens' trailers have shown that their adapted dialogue is in the same vein...if not word for word. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (played by Tommy Lee Jones in the film) provides some of the best monologues I've read in a while. He serves as the moral fiber (while also demonstrating the mistakes that even an admirable man can make) of the novel, sort of like Marge Gunderson in "Fargo" but also completely different. The real star of the novel is Anton Chigurh, one of the best developed characters I've ever read in a novel and Javier Bardem will surely get a nomination if he plays the character right (which he does in the trailer). McCarthy's descriptions of Texas, gunfights, and lack of ethics in the novel are truly captivating. The story goes to places that I would have never thought of from the material that we've been shown. I highly recommend this. A

Here are possible Big 8 nominations that the film could receive from what I gathered from the novel-

Best Picture
Best Director
Best Actor- Tommy Lee Jones
Best Supporting Actor- Javier Bardem (obviously, he looks to be the best villain since Lecter)
Best Supporting Actress- Kelly Macdonald
Best Adapted Screenplay

Saturday, October 13, 2007

New Predix: Best Screenplays/Supporting Actor

Good god, these predix NEED updating! No commentary for now.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
1. Juno
2. I'm Not There
3. The Savages
4. Things We Lost in the Fire
5. Michael Clayton
IN THE RUNNING
6. Eastern Promises
7. Ratatouille
8. Knocked Up
9. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
10. Margot at the Wedding

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
1. No Country for Old Men
2. Atonement
3. There Will be Blood
4. The Kite Runner
5. Charlie Wilson's War
IN THE RUNNING
6. Sweeney Todd
7. Into the Wild
8. American Gangster
9. Hairspray
10. Lust, Caution

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Javier Bardem-No Country for Old Men
2. Paul Dano-There Will be Blood
3. Mark Ruffalo-Reservation Road
4. Philip Bosco-The Savages
5. Casey Affleck-The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

IN THE RUNNING
6. Philip Seymour Hoffman-Charlie Wilson's War
7. Tom Wilkinson-Michael Clayton
8. Shaun Tomb-The Kite Runner
9. John Travolta-Hairspray
10. Alan Rickman-Sweeney Todd

New Predix: Best Picture/Director

BEST PICTURE
1. Atonement-I know everyone is predicting it, but seriously...they've got good reason. Just look at the reviews...

2. There Will be Blood-After a few months, I have a feeling that the buzz will reach the level of the above.

3. No Country for Old Men-Another one to watch out for. I sincerely think that this is the return of the Coen brothers...

4. Juno-...because I need a comedy in the lineup until it's impossible.

5. Charlie Wilson's War-I thought that the trailer was very underrated, and I still forsee this as a hit.
IN THE RUNNING
6. The Kite Runner-I've still got a good feeling, but the buzz is fleeting.

7. Sweeney Todd-My prediction: a hit with audiences and critics, but not the Academy.

8. The Savages-The once sure-thing comedy is now being overshadowed by Juno. And its lack of festival submission is bewildering.

9. Into the Wild-Seriously, where is this buzz coming from?

10. American Gangster-The buzz has vanished. At last.


BEST DIRECTOR
1. Paul Thomas Anderson-There Will be Blood-I have a strong feeling that this will be the film of 2007, but I'm not ready to predict it for BP yet. So we'll go with Best Director.

2. Joe Wright-Atonement-The buzz is really too strong to resist in any way.

3. Joel and Ethan Cohen-No Country for Old Men-Dual directors have it tough, but if this film is as successful as I think it will be...

4. Marc Forster-The Kite Runner-I have a feeling that the loss of buzz is only temporary. Let's hope so, because Forster really deserves a nomination.

5. Mike Nichols-Charlie Wilson's War-Am I the only one that still has confidence in this project?
IN THE RUNNING
6. Tim Burton-Sweeney Todd-Reviews will tell...

7. David Cronenberg-Eastern Promises-Despite the fantastic reviews, the buzz has not lasted.

8. Jason Reitman-Juno-I actually think he has a pretty good chance, but sleeper comedies are rarely rewarded in Best Director.

9. Todd Haynes-I'm Not There-The film will probably be rewarded as a whole in the Best Supporting Actress category.

10. Tamara Jenkins-The Savages-I'm losing my faith quickly...

Friday, October 12, 2007

New Predix: Best Actor

BEST ACTOR
1. Daniel Day-Lewis-There Will be Blood-The reviews have been outstanding, and everyone knows that this man is amazing. Still, does he deserve another statuette yet?

2. James McAvoy-Atonement-His nomination is almost inevitable when you consider how likely it is that Atonement will be a huge hit.

3. Tom Hanks-Charlie Wilson's War-I, for one, liked the trailer, and I think he has a great chance.

4. George Clooney-Michael Clayton-The reviews have been great, but seriously...where is the buzz?

5. John Cusack-Grace is Gone-Just because I have a good feeling about it.


IN THE RUNNING
6. Johnny Depp-Sweeney Todd-The trailer was both horrible and not baity. Still, it's been a hit for fans.

7. Benicio del Toro-Things We Lost in the Fire-The reviews for him have been very positive, but the Academy could just view this as a comeback vehicle for his co-star.

8. Emile Hirch-Into the Wild-The internet buzz has been fantastic, but in reality, it seems unlikely.

9. Tommy Lee Jones-In the Valley of Elah-I seriously do not get why so many people are including him in their predix. The film has been basically forgotten.

10. Joaquin Phoenix-Reservation Road-His chances are looking slimmer every day.

London Film Festival: First Update




As I said before, I'm going to be attending the London Film Festival and I'll be seeing Grace is Gone, Rescue Dawn, I'm Not There, The Savages, Juno, Bee Movie, and (as of about an hour ago) Eastern Promises (the Opening Night gala). Although Rescue Dawn and Eastern Promises have already been released in the United States, I'll still be sure to give the best review possible for those two. The festival officially starts this Wednesday with, as I said earlier, Eastern Promises. After that, my next film that I have tickets for is on the 27th of October so there will be a large gap in between Eastern Promises and my next film, Grace is Gone. I may get to go to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford or an exclusive session with Steve Buscemi on the 19th so, if I do, there will be coverage on those as well.

I'm extremely excited to represent Oscar Obsession at the LFF and I hope you are all looking forward to coverage of this great event.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Official "Charlie Wilson's War" Trailer

The trailer for Charlie Wilson's War can be seen here.

I'm much more optimistic now then I was when I saw the ET exclusive (which, to be completely straightforward, sucked). Philip Seymour Hoffman looks great as does Tom Hanks.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Michael Clayton: In Review

Michael Clayton: In Review


"Michael Clayton" is, certainly, one of the best films that we've seen from 2007 so far. That being said, it is not completely perfect but it isn't too far off either. To keep this brief, the actors are what make this film as great as it was. George Clooney turns a career best performance, surpassing his Academy Award winning role in "Syriana" by at least a mile, that may or may not end up making the cut. Best Actor is pretty open for a new contender and Clooney isn't that bad of a choice. Tom Wilkinson steals the show as Arthur Edens, an attorney who strips naked in a meeting room and professes his love to the plaintiff in the case he has been working on. Wilkinson's performance is one of the best supporting roles of the year. To put this into perspective, if this film were released last year then he would have gotten a nomination for sure. He is spectacular. Tilda Swinton, although gathering lots and lots of buzz, does a great job but it is not necessarily, in my book, worthy of a nomination. That being said, I seem to be alone on this. I wouldn't be disappointed at all if she ended up with one but she won't be making my end of the year list. The screenplay is full of jargon and great diction which proves to work for the better as it creates an undeniably strong screenplay that deserves to be honored. It's a great film that I most definitely recommend, it is very worth seeing. B+

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Atonement: In Review

Atonement: In Review

Fortunately for me, the best film of the year, so far, has been in England since exactly a month ago. I must admit, I was not interested in the film whatsoever when it was first announced and even when the trailer was released. This weekend, I came to the realization that one of the top Oscar buzzed projects of the year was within my grasp and I had not yet taken the liberty to go and see it. So, I decided that this weekend I would go out and see three different films. I saw Ratatouille, finally, at an advanced screening (it doesn't come out in the UK until next week), Michael Clayton (it has been here since the 28th of September, review to come at a later time), and Atonement. Atonement is currently 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and rightfully so. When I saw this figure before I saw the film, I laughed. I couldn't believe that this film that I was so sure would be all visual delight and no depth was getting such outstanding reviews. So, as I walked into the theatre today expecting nothing more than a frivolous period piece, I was very pleasantly surprised. As I said earlier, this is the best film of the year so far. When the film starts, the first five minutes or so resemble a "Pride and Prejudice 2". About ten to fifteen minutes later, I realized that it was anything but. You are thrown into this brilliantly weaved story about lies, deception, misunderstandings, sex, lust, war, violence, love, hate, redemption, and so much more. This is the first film that I've seen in a long time that I have genuinely wished that it would not end.

Keira Knightely and James McAvoy are both fantastic. While I can't say that either of them are likely to win, they are both extremely worthy of at least being nominated for Academy Awards, McAvoy being the more likely for a win. As far as the acting goes, though, the film belongs to Saoirse Ronan and Romola Garai as Briony, at ages 13 and 18 respectively. They both deserve Oscar nominations although the sad reality is that there is a better chance of just one being nominated. I would say that Ronan, who is the better of the two, would get the nomination over Garai. Vanessa Redgrave also has, although it is basically a cameo, a small role as the much older Briony. In her very limited scene(s), she is brilliant. While there aren't really any other possible contenders who could come out of this film, the whole ensemble really is terrific.

The technicalities of the film are just as good. The score used in Atonement is one of the best that I have heard in a very long time...it uses a typewriter as an instrument. That's highly original and also gives the film a very cool tone. I assure you, the score is a major contender at the Oscars. The editing is crisp, the cinematography is wonderful, the sets are gorgeous...every technical aspect of the film is fantastic. One particular scene that is engraved in my mind is, during the portion of the film that deals with Robbie (McAvoy) in the war, a scene at the beach in Dunkirk. There are soldiers all over the beach, some are laughing and playing around on abandoned carnival rides while some others are crying on the beach and miserable. In the background, you see a ferris wheel and a pavilion of soldiers singing. It captures the mood of this part of the film unbelievably well and I was completely moved.

Atonement is a fantastic film in all aspects whether it be the superb direction of Joe Wright, the masterful score, or the exceptional performances from the cast. The film is a triumph and completely deserves the title of Best Picture at the upcoming Academy Awards at the beginning of next year. Congratulations Atonement, you not only exceeded my expectations but went so far beyond what I expected that you might as well be in outer space. A

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Trailer Has Landed!

The trailer for "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" can be seen here

It's about damn time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Predictions: Best Actress

BEST ACTRESS
1. Keira Knightley-Atonement-There is no frontrunner whatsoever so far, so we'll just go with Keira because of Atonement's popularity.

2. Ellen Page-Juno-The support from Ebert and other top critics could be enough.

3. Laura Linney-The Savages-We need at least one dependable actress here, and who is more dependable than Ms. Linney? Well, Cate Blanchett, but...well...you know...

4. Nicole Kidman-Margot at the Wedding-The reviews have been strong enough for her to make the cut...probably.

5. Julianne Moore-Savage Grace-Like Linney, Moore always gives a good performance. However, the film has hardly any buzz.

IN THE RUNNING
6. Cate Blanchett-The Golden Age-Though her performance has been one of the most loved this year, it doesn't overshadow how much critics disliked this film. Still, there is time...

7. Halle Berry-Things We Lost in the Fire-I've had a good feeling about this all year and it's finally getting some buzz, but I need hard evidence before I put Berry in the lineup.

8. Marion Cotillard-La Vie en Rose-The buzz is fading just in time for awards season. Predictable.

9. Julie Christie-Away From Her-See above.

10. Helena Bonham Carter-Sweeney Todd-Again, let's wait until they officially announce that she's supporting. And speaking of Sweeney Todd, are we EVER going to get a trailer??

Monday, October 1, 2007

Poor Cate...

Just look at these raves for her performance:

"Cate Blanchett in the title role lets out so much fury at the Spanish for their invasion, so much envy at her favorite lady-in-waiting."
-Harvey S. Karten, Compuserve

"Her [Blanchett's] Elizabeth is so indisputably flesh-and-blood that no further point need be made of it."
-Todd McCarthy, Variety

"Dominated by bravura, [an] Oscar-caliber turn from Cate Blanchett"
-Emanuel Levy, emanuellevy.com

And look at what the same critics said about the film:

"Bombastic music and lavish costumes cannot disguise the film's coming across as a ho-hum high-school lesson in historical fiction."
-Harvey S. Karten, Compuserve

"Production values most excel in the costume, makeup and hair departments, and least excel in the musical score, which almost never takes a break and bludgeons the ears in the worst modern manner."
-Todd McCarthy, Variety

"Using the same kitschy, hysterical, sensualist approach to the second chapter in what promises to be a multi-saga series, Shekar Kapur again proves that he is a superficial stylist."
-Emanuel Levy, emanuellevy.com

Sigh. Proof, again, that trailers mean nothing. And if that weren't enough, Rendition is flunking with critics, too. Unless The Golden Age's RT rating somehow goes from 33% to 80%, Cate will probably be left out. So sad. Does this not echo something that we heard...oh, say, two weeks ago with The Brave One?