Category Archives: 21 Days of Oscar

My 2011 OSCAR Picks

So, today is the biggest day in Hollywood, a day which will change the lives of a few forever while the rest of us watch on in awe or contempt. Luckily, I enjoy watching the Oscars every year and am generally happy for the winners. Earlier I posted who I would’ve nominated in some of the major Oscar categories and today I will reveal who I hope to win in each category. For those of you who love the Oscars I wish you all a fantastic Oscar night surrounded by good food, great friends and filled with a magic that only films can provide! Without further ado, here are my picks:

Best Cinematography

1. Harry Potter 7 Part 1

2. The King’s Speech

3. True Grit

4. Inception

My pick: Black Swan

Black Swan looks stunning. The lighting is intense, the darkness is captured perfectly and the images you see are iconic.

Best Score

1. Inception

2. The King’s Speech

3. Tron: Legacy

4. How to Train Your Dragon

My pick: The Social Network

This is a tough category. I thought the scores for How to Train Your Dragon and The King’s Speech were terrific and classic. I loved the intensity of the Inception score and I loved what Daft Punk did with Tron: Legacy but ultimately I chose Trent Reznor’s Social Network score for its uniqueness and its ability to evoke emotion from its blend of techno and classical.

Best Supporting Actor

1. Andrew Garfield, The Social Network

2. Armie Hammer, The Social Network

3. Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

4. Jeremy Renner, The Town

My pick: Christian Bale, The Fighter

For me, this performance ranks up there with Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose and Sean Penn in Milk as a model for how to play a real life person. Bale is tremendous here. He transforms completely into another person and his authenticity is magnetic.

Best Supporting Actress

1. Amy Adams, The Fighter

2. Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech

3. Elle Fanning, Somewhere

4. Mila Kunis, Black Swan

My pick: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Some people think that good acting is when you are unaware of the acting. I agree with this statement in most cases but there are times when a performance is so great that it transcends this sentiment. Like with some of Meryl Streep’s performances, in The Fighter I can see Melissa Leo’s acting. This is a good thing. I believed her 100 percent, so what I saw was not fakery, it was art.

Best Actor

1. Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine

2. James Franco, 127 Hours

3. Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception

4. Jeff Bridges, True Grit

My pick: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

What a strong category this is! Ultimately my two favorite performances came from Firth and Gosling (who wasn’t even nominated!) Ryan Gosling bears everything he has in Blue Valentine. Every moment he has on screen is so raw and personal you almost don’t feel like you should be watching him. As terrific as he is in the film though, it is Colin Firth’s year. His performance in The King’s Speech is wonderful. He uses every color of the acting rainbow and paints a portrait that is alive.

Best Actress

1. Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone

2. Natalie Portman, Black Swan

3. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

4. Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

My pick: Annette Bening, The Kids are all Right

This is such a strong category and hopefully a sign that roles for women are becoming better and more complex. Michelle Williams gives a performance as raw as her costar Ryan Gosling’s but on top of that she makes us feel her pain in such a painful way. I mean this in the best way possible, the acting in Blue Valentine is impossible to forget. Natalie Portman in Black Swan is simply stunning. Her performance required so much physical and psychological training I’m surprised she didn’t have a panic attack on set. As much as I loved Michelle and Natalie’s performances though I just think Annette Bening gave an incredibly subtle, realistic performance in The Kids Are All Right. While watching the film, I saw a real person, every little glance she makes, every tiny gesture she makes with her eyebrows or mouth is so effortless yet so calculated. Bening is a master at her craft, she really knows acting. Nevertheless, I’m quite sure Portman will win, which I am still very happy about because her performance was terrific as well.

Best Director

1. Christopher Nolan, Inception

2. Sofia Coppola, Somewhere

3. Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan

4. Derek Cianfrance, Blue Valentine

My pick: David Fincher, The Social Network

When I first told my friends that a movie about Facebook was being made they all told me they thought that sounded absolutely horrible. Fincher makes what could of been a terrible movie into a story that grips us, comments on our present and harkens back to the past. I was actually an extra in this film and watching Fincher work his magic on set was extremely interesting. He is infamous for filming up to 100 takes of a shot but there is a method to his madness. Each take is like a rehearsal, bringing his actors to a state where they feel they know their environment and their situation. He is a director that knows how to extract greatness.

BEST PICTURE (in descending order)

10. The Kids are All Right

9. 127 Hours

8. Toy Story 3

7. The Fighter

6. The King’s Speech

5. Black Swan

What a bizarre and fascinating film this is. My top 5 picks for this year all lingered in my mind for days and this certainly sowed seeds in my mind. It has a relatively simple plot and a story that we’ve all heard before but it  makes up for all of this with absolute madness. It is one of the strangest films to come out in years, with a fantastic cast and strong artistic elements all around.

4. Blue Valentine

The most depressing, heartbreaking movie of the year is also one of the best. Its a small movie with a really big heart despite how much pain is depicted on screen. Put simply its a movie about the deterioration of a loving relationship but it is much more than that, it is a reminder that a film can shock and move us with just 2 characters at its core and those little, intimate moments between them.

3. Somewhere

This movie has been very unjustly maligned. There is a reason it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It is a very slow burn but one filled with small details and intimate moments that add up into something that fits somewhere. Some viewers may have been waiting for the movie to go somewhere and I tell them that it certainly does. Just think about the beginning of the film when Johnny Marco is driving in circles, in a state of stasis, going nowhere. At the end of the film he is driving in one direction, progressing, he has gone somewhere and leaving the theater I too felt like I had arrived somewhere new.

2. Inception

Inception manages to move us despite all of its visual effects and action. Yes, the visuals are breathtaking, yes the zero gravity fight scene is mesmerizing but the fantastic cast brings the unique story to life and moves us with their portrayals of love and redemption. This is ultimately a movie about confronting our deepest fears and learning to move on from our darkest days.

1. The Social Network

Only one film this year has been compared to both Rashomon and Citizen Kane, that movie is The Social Network. I once wrote that this film reminded me of Shakespeare and I stand by that feeling. Its a movie about power in today’s day and age. The script is fantastic, the direction is uncompromising, the cinematography is beautiful and the cast is great. Most importantly it moved me and profoundly commented on our ability and inability to make friends and connect. The Social Network shows us that having meaningful relationships has always been difficult and Facebook just gives us the illusion that they are easier to maintain. Here are 2 of my favorite scenes:

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If I Could Vote for the Oscars

I feel like 2010 has been a rather underwhelming year for Hollywood films. There were no destined to be classics like Lord of the Rings or There Will Be Blood or even technological breakthroughs like Avatar or The Matrix but some glimmers of excellence still shined through. Some exciting trends also began this year. According to at least one critic, the American art film is making a comeback (http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/01/02/the-return-of-the-american-art-film/) and if we are to consider Black Swan an “art film” it seems that audiences are getting hungry for some art. Some Hollywood actors, writers and directors are fighting back against the studio heads and are trying to create new, perhaps un-bankable visions of our world. Actors like Ryan Gosling and James Franco are redefining what a Hollywood leading man can be and meanwhile are resurrecting the elusive movie star by keeping a sense of mystery about themselves (http://nymag.com/arts/cultureawards/2010/69907/). Ever more hopeful though is that it seems that movie goers are now a bit less likely to go see universally panned movies. In a very compelling article for Vanity Fair, John Lopez writes that, “L.A. is starting to feel a little like France circa 1968, when Jean-Luc Godard was tooling around Paris with a 16-mm camera and Anna Karina” and “all the marketing muscle and focus-group strategies mean nothing if you can’t connect with your audience in ways they haven’t seen before.” The article can be found here: http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2010/12/2010-at-the-movies-what-hollywood-can-do-better-next-year.html

I hope it is not hyperbole to say that an exciting change may have already begun in Hollywood and that audience members are hungry for new scripts, new actors, new ideas and new perspectives. Here are my nominees for some of the major categories in this year’s Oscars. Some films like True Grit, Winter’s Bone and The Town I liked but not enough to put them into my top 10 favorite films of the year. I also found that there were so many great performances this year that I had to leave out the likes of Stephen Dorff for Somewhere and Julianne Moore for The Kids Are All Right. Nevertheless here are some films and performances that made 2010 memorable for me. I will name the winners later.

Best Cinematography

1. Harry Potter 7 Part 1

2. Black Swan

3. The King’s Speech

4. True Grit

5. Inception

Best Score

1. The Social Network

2. Inception

3. The King’s Speech

4. Tron: Legacy

5. How to Train Your Dragon

Best Supporting Actor

1. Andrew Garfield, The Social Network

2. Armie Hammer, The Social Network

3. Christian Bale, The Fighter

4. Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

5. Jeremy Renner, The Town

Best Supporting Actress

1. Melissa Leo, The Fighter

2. Amy Adams, The Fighter

3. Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech

4. Elle Fanning, Somewhere

5. Mila Kunis, Black Swan

Best Actor

1. Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine

2. James Franco, 127 Hours

3. Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception

5. Jeff Bridges, True Grit

Best Actress

1. Annette Bening, The Kids are all Right

2. Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone

3. Natalie Portman, Black Swan

4. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

5. Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Best Director

1. David Fincher, The Social Network

2. Christopher Nolan, Inception

3. Sofia Coppola, Somewhere

4. Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan

5. Derek Cianfrance, Blue Valentine

Best Picture (in alphabetical order)

1. 127 Hours

2. Black Swan

3. Blue Valentine

4. The Fighter

5. Inception

6. The Kids Are All Right

7. The King’s Speech

8. The Social Network

9. Somewhere

Sofia Coppola's Somewhere stars Stephen Dorff as Johnny, a lost movie star, and Elle Fanning as Cleo, his daughter.

10. Toy Story 3

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2010 Oscars – Thoughts

Oscar Stage

So the biggest night in Hollywood has come to an end and overall I thought the show was missing a little something. I just didn’t feel like it really captured the magic of movies that well. After last year’s fantastic telecast I was a bit disappointed with this year’s. There were some great highlights however. Here are some thoughts.

– Neil Patrick Harris’ song and dance routine was boring and pointless.

– I enjoyed Martin and Baldwin’s opening.  They were funny and totally bizarre and a bit awkward. They weren’t amazing but totally competent. I wish they had more of a presence throughout the show.

Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010

– Christoph Waltz wins! So happy, he seems like a totally down to earth guy.

– Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr. were hysterical when presenting the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay!

– I loved the John Hughes tribute. I’m so happy the Academy recognized how big of an impact he had on teen movie-goers everywhere.

Actor | Musician | RolesClass | Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010 | Individual | Matthew Broderick | Molly Ringwald

– I actually really enjoyed the dance number to the Best Score nominees. The dancers were pretty incredible.

– I loved it when Elinor Burkett crashed the stage when Roger Ross Williams was accepting his Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject. That’s live TV for ya, if the Oscars had more spontaneous moments like this more people would watch.

Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010

– Congrats to Mo’Nique!

– Ben Stiller was fantastic as a Na’vi. Totally hilarious and ridiculous.

– James Taylor sounded great as he sang “In My Life” to a tribute to those in the entertainment business who passed in the last year. The Academy made a huge and disrespectful mistake though when it failed to include Farrah Fawcett (and others) in its tribute.

– The horror tribute seemed out of place.

– Please Academy stop having young Disney stars present awards. Taylor Lautner looked terrified on stage and Miley Cyrus was just obnoxious. Please however continue to invite young, talented actors like Amanda Seyfried.

Actor | RolesClass | Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010 | Individual | Kristen Stewart | Taylor Lautner

– I loved the tributes to the Best Actor and Best Actress nominees. This was my favorite thing about last year’s Oscars. Highlights from this year were Tim Robbin’s tribute to Morgan Freeman, Julianne Moore’s to Colin Firth, Oprah’s to Gabourey Sidibe, Stanley Tucci’s to Meryl Streep, aw heck I liked all of them. Hopefully this will become an annual tradition.

Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010

– Ahhh, Kate Winslet.

– Jeff Bridges’ acceptance speech was like totally groovy dude. Loved how he talked about his parents.

Actor | Authors | RolesClass | Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010 | Individual | Jeff Bridges

– Does Sean Penn ever make sense when he goes up on stage? It doesn’t matter I love him anyway.

– Sandra Bullock gave a terrific acceptance speech. The best of the night, unfortunately she did not give the best performance of the year – not by a long shot. Meryl, Carey, Gabourey and Helen all gave truly amazing acting performances and it’s sad that Sandra is getting an award because people like her not because she gave an outstanding performance. Oh well, Meryl still has 2 Oscars, an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, a BAFTA, 2 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, a Cannes Film Festival Award, 2 Emmy’s, 7 Golden Globe Awards and 2 SAG Awards.

Actor | Producers | RolesClass | Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010 | Individual | Sandra Bullock

-Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman to win Best Director! Awesome job!

Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010

– The Hurt Locker wins Best Picture. Okay, definitely not my favorite picture of the year but I liked it and can appreciate the fact that it’s technically a very well made movie.

-Up In the Air won no awards and Inglourious Basterds only took home one! What a shame.

– Avatar did not win Best Picture, that’s okay. Remember, James Cameron, The Wizard of Oz did not win the year it was nominated either. What did win that year? Gone With the Wind. So now the question is will people one day look at The Hurt Locker like we now do at Gone With the Wind? I highly, highly doubt it. One last suggestion to Cameron, if you really want another Oscar please spend a bit more time on the script for the sequel to Avatar. Hire a fantastic writer and write scenes in which the actors can truly emote and surprise us. Do that and you’ll make something both visually and emotionally spectacular.

Thoughts for Next Year

I would love to see Tina Fey host, or Ellen Degeneres or Hugh Jackman, perhaps even Robert Downey Jr.

– Academy, please stop trying to be entertaining by turning the Oscars into the MTV Movie Awards. This is a classy event.

– Try your best to capture the magic of Hollywood, that’s all I ask.

Click on the link to watch the beautiful people celebrate at the Vanity Fair Oscar party.

http://www.vanityfair.com/services/lookup?videoId=70811113001&defaultPath=/video%3FvideoID%3D70811113001

What did you think?

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21 Days of Oscar – My Picks!

Here are my picks for some of this year’s major Oscar categories. These are not who I think will win but who I think should win.

Best Original Screenplay

Inglourious Basterds

Best Adapted Screenplay

Up In The Air

Best Art Direction

Avatar

Best Cinematography

Avatar

Best Score

Avatar

Best Supporting Actor

Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress

Mo’Nique, Precious

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

Best Actress

Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Best Picture (in ranking order)

10. Where the Wild Things Are

9. District 9

8. Precious

7. A Single Man

6. An Education

5. (500) Days of Summer

4. The Hurt Locker

3. Up in the Air

2. Avatar

1. Inglourious Basterds

It has been very hard for me to choose my best picture of the year. It seems like every week it changes. I loved Up in the Air and it hit me emotionally but it almost felt too “ordinary” which is a quality that I don’t really associate with my favorite films of each year. I also loved Avatar, I know it’s incredibly easy to make fun of the film but it’s also a movie experience like no other and I felt more exhilarated after seeing it than perhaps any other film I’ve seen in a theatre. I even found a couple of its scenes moving but unfortunately the writing was just too poor and its acting while totally adequate was not exactly ground breaking. Which brings me to Inglourious Basterds. Quentin Tarantino’s latest film was highly engrossing, superbly written, ferociously well-acted and showed us a new side of Tarantino. Though Inglourious Basterds did not move me emotionally, except for  a couple of scenes, every aspect of the film was brilliantly executed.

Tonight it looks like either Avatar or The Hurt Locker will win Best Picture and even though I liked Avatar more than The Hurt Locker I will be happy with whichever film wins. I hope you all have a wonderful Oscar night tonight and it’s been a great pleasure writing to you all in the last 21 days! Check back in a couple days when I will post my thoughts on the show. Thanks for reading!

Here’s a nice look back at the year in film:


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21 Days of Oscar – My Nominations

Tomorrow night is the Academy Awards so I’ve decided to celebrate the night by revealing the films I would have nominated in some of the top categories if I were an Academy member. I have only nominated films I have seen, so I have not nominated Helen Mirren for Best Actress for example, because I have not seen The Last Station not because I think she gave a bad performance. Tomorrow I will reveal my top choices in each category. I wish you all a lovely Oscar Eve!

Best Original Screenplay

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

(500) Days of Summer

A Serious Man

The Brothers Bloom

Best Adapted Screenplay

An Education

A Single Man

Up In The Air

Precious

Where the Wild Things Are

Art Direction

Avatar

Inglourious Basterds

Nine

Where the Wild Things Are

A Single Man

Cinematography

Inglourious Basterds

The Hurt Locker

Avatar

A Single Man

Where the Wild Things Are

Score

Avatar

District 9

Where the Wild Things Are

A Single Man

Up

Supporting Actor

Alfred Molina, An Education

Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Matt Damon, Invictus

Zach Galifianakis, The Hangover

Brad Pitt, Inglourious Basterds

Supporting Actress

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart

Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air

Mo’Nique, Precious

Julianne Moore, A Single Man

Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air

Actor

Morgan Freeman, Invictus

Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man

George Clooney, Up in the Air

Colin Firth, A Single Man

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

Actress

Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Rachel Weisz, The Brothers Bloom

Carey Mulligan, An Education

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

Gabourey Sidibe, Precious

Director

Quentin Tarantino, Inglorious Basterds

Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Lee Daniels, Precious

James Cameron, Avatar

Picture

An Education

Avatar

District 9

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

Precious

A Single Man

Up In the Air

Where the Wild Things Are

(500) Days of Summer

Check back here tomorrow when I will reveal the winners! What would you have nominated if you were an Academy member? Discuss!


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21 Days of Oscar – Your Hosts for the Evening

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or simply don’t pay much attention to the Oscars you will know that this year Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin will be hosting the awards ceremony. Now I have to say that I love and respect both Martin and Baldwin but am not entirely sure what the show will be like with two hosts. I hope that having two hosts will help the show run smoother rather than make it feel disjointed.

Martin has hosted twice before and I’m confident that he will bring some of his signature, totally absurd comedy to the show once again. On the other hand, Baldwin has never hosted an awards show I believe but he has hosted Saturday Night Live 14 times. Both Martin and Baldwin are hilarious and I predict they will be quite entertaining.

Here are 2 videos of Martin’s monologue when he hosted in 2003

Here is a hilarious scene of Alec Baldwin from 30 Rock.

Lastly here’s a promo for Sunday’s show.

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21 Days of Oscar – Do the Academy Awards actually matter?

Well yes and no.

Obviously winning an Oscar is one of the highlights if not the highlight of one’s career. Winning an Oscar can skyrocket one to fame and make an actor or director a household name. This recognition can also translate to higher salaries and an increase in box office for the nominated and winning films. An Oscar equals respect, power and fame. Imagine how few people had heard of Melissa Leo before she was nominated last year for Frozen River. Had you heard of Lee Daniels before he and his film, Precious got nominated this year? Probably not.

So while I would definitely agree that the Oscars matter to people working within the entertainment industry to the regular viewer watching at home the outcome hardly affects him or her. I’ll put it to you this way: No matter what film wins the award for Best Picture, the outcome will not change what your favorite film of the year was. Put another way, just because Gone with the Wind won Best Picture in 1939 that should not change the fact that your favorite film happened to be say, The Wizard of Oz for example.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I obviously love the Oscars and I root for certain films and people to win but at the end of the day the opinions of 5,000 Academy members do not fundamentally change my views of what is or isn’t a great film. So as you watch the Oscars this Sunday, sit back, relax and try not to drunkenly yell at the screen when Carey Mulligan loses Best Actress.

Only 3 days until the Oscars! Here’s a video about winning an Oscar:

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