Category Archives: Inglourious Basterds

Top 10: Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Favorite Movies

Also, footballs should not be thrown on roofs.

Movies get a lot wrong. And when I say a lot I mean a lot

Jumping off of my piece from the other day, what you make of those mistakes is up to you. I try to avoid them because while they are probably better to know, they can also ruin the movie. However, they can also be hilarious depending on how wrong they are. I decided to do some research on IMDB, and I compiled ten of my favorite mistakes, and another list of five “mistakes.” Did I just ruin your favorite movie for you? Well good, it’s ruined for me, too. Let’s bond over sadness. 

Read the list below: 

21 Jump Street-  In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that if a cop neglects to read your Miranda rights, that is not necessarily grounds for release from charges. So the cops’ mistake at the beginning is not accurate.” (IMDB)

Casablanca: There was never any such thing as a “letter of transit.” (IMDB)

Django Unchained: “Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) uses the word “motherfucker” four times throughout the film, This is a linguistic anachronism as the word didn’t exist until the WWI era (the Oxford English dictionary lists the earliest use in 1918).” (IMDB)

No Country for Old Men: “In the scene where Anton is chasing Llewelyn through the streets at night, a modern day Dominos Pizza sign can be seen in the background.” (IMDB) [Note: I would pay lots of money for a scene where Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem eat Domino's together while in character.]

The Big Lebowski: “The first sex offender laws, like those which would require Jesus Quintana to notify his neighbors of his paedophilic record, weren’t implemented in California until 1996.” (IMDB)

The Room: “Johnny claims that he couldn’t cash a check because it was “out of state.” However, it is entirely possible to cash an out of state check. Johnny, a banker, should know this.” (IMDB)

The Room: “Mark asks Lisa “what’s going on” with “the candles [and] the music”, but neither music nor candles are present.” (IMDB)

Braveheart: “Primae noctis has never been used in the entire history of the British Isles.” (IMDB)

Braveheart: “In reality most of the Irish fought against Wallace.” (IMDB)

Braveheart: “At the funeral of Wallace’s father, the child Murron plucks a thistle, the national flower of Scotland, and gives it to the boy Wallace. This is both physically impossible (every species of thistle in the British Isles is so prickly and so tough-stemmed that you could only wrench one from its stem wearing protective gloves) and symbolically absurd (the toughness and prickliness of the thistle is its whole point as a symbol of Scottishness).” (IMDB) [Note: I really wanted to put "Braveheart" in its place. And I guess "The Room" needed to be, too.]

And Five “Mistakes”

Elysium: There are actually no machines that exist in real life that can cure both cancer and paralyzed legs. 

Inception: When traveling through other people’s dreams, people do not actually yell confusing lines of exposition at each other. 

Inglourious Basterds: Hitler was not actually shot hundreds of times in the face by a man named the Bear Jew. In fact, Bears are legally not allowed to be Jewish.

Taxi Driver: Robert De Niro is not actually a taxi driver. He is, in fact, a very talented actor. 

There Will Be Blood: In one scene, Daniel Plainview tells Eli Sunday that he is going to bury him underground. In fact, the practice of burying the dead underground did not exist until Warren G. Harding passed it into international law on July 17, 1923. Before that, bodies were stacked up in wheelbarrows, similar to what is seen in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” 

What are some of your favorite mistakes in movies? 

Eight Nights of Hanukkah, Eight Nights of Movies: Night #2

Eight Nights of Hanukkah, Eight Nights of Movies is a new series in which for each night of Hanukkah I will recommend a new movie to watch. Each movie might have been made by a prominent Jewish filmmaker, or embodies a prominent part of Jewish culture. Because I missed the first night, as I was embarking on a great Florida migration, I will recommend two for the second night.

Inglourious Basterds 

Here is a movie that needs no introduction, as I can barely go a day (or a blog post) without talking about it. With “Inglourious Basterds,” Quentin Tarantino earned the title of Honorary Jew for fulfilling any little Jewish boy’s childhood fantasy of getting vengeance on the Nazis. But it is not just a violent, one-dimensional revenge fantasy but rather a morality tale that dares us to ask whether or not our enemies can actually be human. This might be the only movie of its kind that will actually make you feel like a more enlightened human being. The movie also includes moments of gripping suspense and utterly insane hilarity. Despite the newfound enlightenment you may have found, it will not stop you from standing up and cheering after the movie’s history-bending twist (most people probably know what it is at this point but if not, I will spare the spoiler). No movie will make you feel prouder to light the menorah tonight.

Leaves of Grass

I didn’t really think “Leaves of Grass” was as brilliant as some believed (Ebert called it a “masterpiece”). It is flawed and its narrative probably made more sense in novel form, but it is certainly “whacky” and inventive enough for me to recommend to the more adventurous cinephile. Edward Norton is brilliant as always, this time giving two performances in one movie, one as a philosophy professor and the other as a drug dealer. Most shocking about “Leaves of Grass” is that it reveals that there is indeed a Jewish community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That is, in case you were the kind of person who likes to track down Jews in random parts of America. It is partly based on writer-director Tim Blake Nelson’s life growing up in a Jewish family in Tulsa. “Leaves of Grass” is not just a crime-thriller-satire but an examination on Jewish identity. I can’t say I “get” the whole thing but if one of you does, please feel free to explain it to me.

Minimalism: The New Way to Market a Movie

Today, I want to talk not about a movie, but about a poster. Well actually, many posters.

The art form known as Minimalism has become a phenomenon on the interweb. It’s not new; artists have been using it for years. However, it’s been given a new use: movie posters.
The idea behind Minimalism is to create a work of art that takes a concept and strips it down to its most basic form. When something is stripped down to its most basic element, there is something strangely deeper that can be found in it. It would basically be saying so much by showing so little.
Some of the posters make a lot of sense. A lot of them involve a great knowledge of the film involved to truly understand. Take for example, one poster for “Inception.” It simply shows an outline of four of the main characters’ faces and their totem placed inside each of them. It is simple and effective. It also shows how each totem is psychologically linked to each character, objects of how their brains work.
Others are confusing, yet portray something so important to the movie. One of my favorites is the one for “The Deer Hunter.” It shows six circles. Five are empty, and one is shaded red. Even people who love the movie will be confused at first. Think. Think very hard. Yes, it is portraying a gun with one bullet in it, loaded for Russian Roulette. With this image, such a deep and complex film is boiled down to its most basic, yet most important idea. Who needs an image of helicopters flying through Vietnam when you can just have a picture of the barrel of a gun?
There are others in the spirit of the “Inception” poster. The “Blade Runner” poster has no epic image of futuristic Los Angeles. All it has is that little origami unicorn. The poster for “Inglourious Basterds” shows two hands holding up three fingers in different ways. It’s the German three and the English three. It’s yet another small detail that made a very big difference in this movie.
Some posters are even more thought provoking and even more creative. The pattern on “The Shining” poster is the carpeting of The Overlook Hotel. The “Titanic” poster is not just a white triangle, it’s that deadly iceberg. Some add on to certain movies as well. “The Godfather” poster shows the rest of the horse’s body without the head. That is, if you really wanted to know what a headless horse looked like.
At the moment, Minimalist posters are fan art. They are made by and for people who truly appreciate movies. Yet, I feel like this new art form has a bigger potential. Why not actually use Minimalist posters to market movies? They’re better and more original than most of the generic crap passed off as posters nowadays. As a marketing tool, movie posters should draw people into a movie with a curiosity factor. If someone sees a “Kill Bill” poster with nothing but footsteps, they might wonder, where do those footsteps lead?
But posters shouldn’t just be for marketing. A movie poster should serve the same purpose as an album cover. They should converse with the art, and emphasize a central purpose behind it. A poster of the incredible futuristic Los Angeles from “Blade Runner” might draw more attention, but that unicorn is much more important to the story. You could compare that to the cover of “London Calling.” It could’ve just been an image of London being caught in the middle of the apocalypse. While the simple image of Joe Strummer smashing a guitar may seem out of place, it’s really there to show the raw, unbridled power of true rock and roll that the album is partially a metaphor for.
That simple image of a mythical creature, or the inside of a gun are not the first things you’d expect to see on a good movie poster. But like that album cover, they show the strange, mesmerizing magic of truly amazing cinema. The poster is meant to encapsulate an entire film in one image. In so simple an image, so much more can be said.
I couldn’t find the “Inception” poster I was referring to earlier, but here is another cool one.

The Oscars: Who Should Win

You’ll find out later in the week who I think will actually win the Awards. But for now, I’d like to share the directors, writers, and actors who would win if only I could hand out the trophies. A few you won’t surprised by, and a few you just might be.

Best Picture: Inglourious Basterds
It was the best movie of 2009 when it came out in August, and it’s still the best movie today. While this is a strong year for Best Picture nominees (for the most part), “Basterds” is more movie than any of these movies. It was almost even a magnum opus. It probably won’t pick up the Best Picture statue, but history certainly will be kind to these “Basterds.”
Best Director: Quentin Tarantino or Kathryn Bigelow
How could this be? Am I really rooting against Tarantino? While I’d love seeing him earn the first Best Director Oscar of his career, Bigelow did something special with “The Hurt Locker.” I don’t root for her solely because her win would make history, but because she directed the action so elegantly, and so ingeniously found suspense not in the moment the bomb blows up, but rather the moment before it could potentially blow our hero away.
Best Actor: Colin Firth (A Single Man)
Jeff Bridges gave a fine performance in “Crazy Heart.” I root for him in a way because, well, he’s the Dude, man. But the more I think about it, the more I find it impossible to neglect my admiration for Firth. Throughout the flawed “A Single Man,” he was so perfectly understated. His reaction to his lover’s death is one that has been engrained into my memory. Simply, he showed he showed he had amazing talent I didn’t even know existed.
Best Actress: Carey Mulligan (An Education)
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what about Mulligan’s performance was so Oscar worthy. Maybe it was just that simply through her emotions and expressions, she turned Jenny from a cardboard figure into a three dimensional human being. Her looks have often been compared to that of Audrey Hepburn. Her acting should be, as well.
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Am I a horrible Jew for saying I was charmed by a Nazi? Probably. I don’t care, because Waltz created possibly the most interesting and complex Nazi ever put on screen. At times, his performance is as terrifying and manipulative as it is breezy and funny. He created a character who single-handedly defines what it means to be “Tarantinoesque.” May you have a long and prosperous future of fine work ahead of you, Mr. Waltz.
Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique (Precious)
I still remember the day I walked out of “Precious” (then “Push”) at Sundance. Even though the whole film had made an impression on me, Mo’Nique’s performance stole the entire show. She gives the horrible Mary very few redeeming qualities, but she never neglects to make her feel human, whether that means good or bad. But then, there’s that final, heart-wrenching monologue, in which she inspires a sort of pathetic sympathy. In January 2009 I said, this performance deserves an Oscar. In March 2010, it will win one.
Best Original Screenplay: Inglourious Basterds
There’s not much more that can be said about “Basterds” that I haven’t said already, but I’ll give it a try. Tarantino’s writing deserves to win because it’s written so eloquently, and so flawlessly. Despite the fact that the time period limits Tarantino from much of his pop culture references, this script still shows his amazing ability to make long stretches of dialogue both utterly intense and extremely fascinating. We don’t get any conversations about “Like a Virgin” or cheeseburgers, but we do get an explanation for the war put in the terms of rodents. Also, we get some conversations about cinema that only a true cinephile would be able to give us.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Up in the Air
I debated giving this one to “In the Loop,” for its overly creative cursing. But the script of “Up in the Air” works both in completed film form, and on its own. In Jason Reitman’s script, he stayed loosely faithful to the book he was adapting and added his own story in. He also kept that fine balance between relevant tragedy and light-hearted yet smart humor. Simply, this script flows like water and never seems to hit a false note. There would be no great movie without this great script.
Best Animated Film: Fantastic Mr. Fox
It might be blasphemous to pass over a Pixar film. However, they’ve had their moment in the sun for countless years. The true best animated film of the year was from the mind of both Wes Anderson and Roald Dahl. It ignored CGI animation and instead stuck with traditional models. Strangely, in that sense, it seemed all the more real. It’s a witty labor of love that criminally did not receive all of the love it deserved.

That One Scene: Inglourious Basterds

“That One Scene” is a recurring series on The Reel Deal where I examine that one scene in a certain movie that sets it apart from all others.
First off, we have a major dilemma. When I first created “That One Scene” back in August, I promised to write about one remarkable movie scene every week. Obviously, this didn’t happen.
However, now that I am a second semester senior and certain responsibilities don’t exist for me anymore, I believe now is the perfect time to bring this post back. And now, I’m going to bring it back by discussing a movie I’ve talked about way too much recently: “Inglourious Basterds.” My incessant chatter though is for good reason, as this was a film made to be broken down piece by piece to be fully admired. Also, I hope this serves to show you why this film truly deserves to take home Best Screenplay this year.
There are a multitude of great scenes to break down in this film. I could’ve discussed the stretched out, tension-filled opening scene. I could’ve discussed the audaciously long tavern scene. I also could’ve had some fun and discussed the Bear Jew beating a Nazi with a bat. However, I’ve opted for one of the more subtlety beautiful and less appreciated scenes in the film. It’s a tour-de-force of fine writing, acting, and directing.
The scene occurs after our hero Shosanna (Melanie Laurent), a Jew hiding as a French movie theater owner in Nazi-Occupied Paris, manages to sit through an entire meal with Joseph Goebbels. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), the SS Officer responsible for the slaughter of Shosanna’s entire family walks into the room. Quentin Tarantino doesn’t skip a beat going into this scene. The banging drums seem out of place in a WWII epic, but it serves well in sending chills down the viewer’s spine.
As Landa greets her, Shosanna’s skin turns white as a skeleton. Laurent shows her as someone vulnerable enough to crack at any moment. Tarantino spends an awful long time focusing on Shosanna’s facial expressions, basically making the conversations occurring right above her shoulder seem insignificant. Laurent’s acting shows more fear, vulnerability, and ultimate strength in just a few smacks of her lips than any amount of words ever could. For a director so enamored by conversation, this seems like an interesting, and even welcome, change.
This entire scene contains an incredible amount of ambiguity around it. From the beginning, we are nervous of whether or not Landa will recognize Shosanna. By the end, it’s still impossible to tell if he did or not. For someone known as “The Jew Hunter,” Landa maintains a jovial demeanor throughout the scene.
Landa says the purpose of their meeting is to discuss security matters. At times, it seems less for information and more as a means of torture. He even orders Shosanna a glass of milk, the very thing he drank the last time they were acquainted.
Meanwhile, there is a great focus on the strudels. It seems unnecessary, but Tarantino seems to have a great love of shaping human interaction around the things we eat. That lovingly shot close up of Shosanna ripping off a piece of strudel, then piling a little cream onto it, reminds me of watching Samuel L. Jackson devour a Big Kahuna Burger in “Pulp Fiction.” Tarantino seems to think a lot can be said about a person by how they eat their food. In this instance, Shosanna is someone who is careful, and will never miss a detail. Landa, meanwhile, shoves the pastry in his face. This is consistent with much of the humor arising from this character; he seems to be funniest in how outlandish he is in just about everything he does.
It’s strange also to see the weird chemistry between Landa and Shosanna. While one is a Nazi and the other is a secret Jew, they seem quite good in listening to each other and responding to each other’s comments. At times, they chat almost as if they are old friends.
Of course, while parts of this scene may seem very light-hearted, one can forget its extremely serious undertones. After all, this is a film about the topic of genocide. The most serious moment comes as Landa states, “I did have something else I wanted to ask you.” His smile so quickly turns into a frown, showing how his character can go so quickly from kind to cruel. Shosanna of course, tries to stand her ground. Tarantino takes no hesitation in lingering on this long, frightful silence.
Suddenly, Landa’s deathly stare turns into an all-out smile. He states, “But right now, for the life of me, I can’t remember what it is. Oh well, must not have been important.” This reveals something very important about Landa. Throughout the film, he seems to constantly be on the line between very serious man, and cartoonishly over-the-top. He is a villain so frightening in his insane self-centered principles. Yet, here, he is as clueless as the conventional Hollywood villain who’s too underwritten to stop his foe.
In this case, it’s not poor writing, but some form of satire. That, and it reveals Landa as the most complex Nazi we may ever see on film.
If we look at it from the possibility that he did know it was her, why wouldn’t Landa try and stop her? Well, maybe he didn’t want to because he enjoys torturing her with mystery better. Also, Landa is always fixated on the idea of survival. He seems to hold great respect for those who will do anything to survive. This is why many believe he let Shosanna run away at the beginning. Now, he sees that she is not only surviving, but thriving (like the rats he discusses earlier in the film). He may be simply amazed at how she overcame so much to come this far, and that she deserves to remain in secret.
After Landa leaves, we get to see why Laurent deserved an Oscar nomination this year. After Landa leaves, her feigned smile quickly turns into a frown. When she sees she is completely alone, she lets out a giant gasp and begins crying. It seems almost as if she’s been under the identity of Emmanuelle for so long that she forgot how to feel like Shosanna. It’s strange how she turns around to see if it’s okay to cry; as this makes it seem like her reaction is almost mechanical. However, Laurent manages to make it the most emotionally realistic moment in the entire film. It could also be that she, like the audience, can’t believe she’s made it this far. In this way, Laurent turns Shosanna perhaps into the film’s most relatable character.
Overall, this scene seems to be an embodiment of what “Inglourious Basterds” is truly about: a celebration of the finer things in culture. This ranges from good cinema to good Scotch, good cigarettes, and of course, a fine dessert. Here is a scene that represents why Tarantino is the auteur of our generation: he has an incredible understanding of humanity, timing, and detail.

Oscars ’09: The Snubs

Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds)- In a film powered by raw, unforgiving violence, Laurent was the true heart of “Basterds.” Her emotional performance as a Jew hiding in Nazi-Occupied France truly brought sympathy for this lady vengeance. By the end, when she’s become nothing but a hovering, etherial cloud of smoke, her human presence is never gone. No, it’ll live on in “Too Good for the Oscars” immortality.

Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man)- If voters were actually paying attention, Stuhlbarg would be the frontrunner for Best Actor. Of course, they weren’t, because his brilliant performance was layered in deep, hilarious subtlety. For example, look closely as he waddles down his roof like a chicken as he spies on the woman of his dreams. The Coen Brothers couldn’t have found a more perfect man to portray awkward, Jewish angst.
(500) Days of Summer- How could one of the most inventive comedies in years be totally snubbed, not even scoring in the Best Original Screenplay category? You know you’ve got a special romantic comedy when it seems easier to compare it to “Memento” than “It’s Complicated.”
Peter Capaldi (In the Loop)- Here is a man who deserves to be one of the most famous actors in the world. Capaldi let comedic sparks fly high with the handling of his character’s incessant cursing. While his character is far from a joyous one, he doesn’t seem to curse out of anger, but rather out of involuntary obligation. His impeccable line delivery helped make this dark comedy as dark and funny as a dark comedy can be.
Lance Acord (Where the Wild Things Are)- Technical work saves a tepid screenplay. Acord’s cinematography, deeply observing the beauty of nature, becomes a story of its own. It’s one of those films where you could turn down the volume, and just enjoy the incredible imagery.
Other Glaring Snubs: Matt Damon (The Informant!), Fantastic Mr. Fox (Best Adapted Screenplay), Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds), Neil Blompkamp (District 9), Alfred Molina (An Education), “Stu’s Song” (The Hangover)

The Hurt Locker: A New Frontrunner?

Well, I guess was wrong.

Just one week ago, all of the Oscar buzz was in favor of “Avatar.” After dominating the box office for over a month, the film picked up the Golden Globes for Best Picture and Director. From reporters to ordinary moviegoers, no one would stop talking about “Avatar.” It was riding an unstoppable wave to the top.
Then, one of the most important precursors to the Oscars, the Producers Guild of America, announced its pick for Best Picture: “The Hurt Locker.” While “The Hurt Locker” picked up nearly every major critics’ award, it went home empty handed at the Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Now, just one award might not mean “Avatar” is a total goner. However, the Globes are not known as a very good predictor for the Oscars (sorry, “Hangover” fans). The Guild Awards are usually much more accurate, as much of the voting body for the Guilds also vote for the Oscars. Meanwhile, the HFPA, who vote for the Globes, are an entirely separate voting body.
This news still stuns me. While “The Hurt Locker” is one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, its box office can’t help it much. “The Hurt Locker” made about $12 million domestically. That’s less than half of what “Avatar” made on its opening day.
Now, Best Picture winners don’t necessarily need to be blockbusters like “Avatar,” however I do recall people saying that the $54 million gross was too low.
Going beyond money, “The Hurt Locker” makes sense as a Best Picture winner. Not only is it a masterpiece, but it’s a defining film of our time. It is by far the best film made yet about the Iraq War. It’s a film that combines brilliant directing and technical mastery with fantastic performances and solid writing. Not to mention, it can go down as one of the most suspenseful films I’ve ever seen.
Also, awarding “The Hurt Locker” would be something of a brilliant move on the Academy’s part. In a year where the Academy extended the field to 10 movies in order to attract bigger movies (and more viewers), nominating a little seen independent film like “The Hurt Locker” would be a hilarious screw you to the American public. Well, at least I’ll be laughing.
“The Hurt Locker” might even have a bigger shot in the Best Director category. Kathryn Bigelow did an outstanding job giving her film a documentary feel and bringing out the highest level of tension in situations that involved absolutely no blood shed. This is the kind of work someone should win Awards for, and depending on which direction the DGA goes, I have a strong feeling that this could end up being the first year a woman picks up the prize for Best Director.
Then again, the Oscar nominations have yet to even come out. Who knows, maybe voters will shock us all and nominate neither. That’s highly unlikely. One thing is for sure though: after years of easily predicted frontrunners (“No Country for Old Men,” “Slumdog Millionaire”), we finally have little clue who is going to win. This could turn out to be one of the more exciting Oscar years in our lifetime.
Side Note: I can’t forget to mention that “Inglourious Basterds,” still my favorite movie of the year, one the SAG Award for Best Ensemble. Actors make up the largest portion of the Academy, and there is always a possibility that “Basterds” could pull of an upset like “Crash” did after it beat out “Brokeback Mountain” for the Best Ensemble prize. I can dream, can’t I?

Golden Globes: A Night for Blue Aliens. And Mike Tyson

Well, mainstream comedy certainly has something to celebrate.

2010 marked the first time in years that the winner of the Best Musical/Comedy category at the Golden Globes was not a musical or a sophisticated indie black comedy. Rather, it was “The Hangover,” a comedy that worked so well and basically earned* its award because it was just so refreshingly funny.
This might mean little for “The Hangover”‘s Oscar chances. It probably has a slim shot at Best Picture, but a Best Screenplay nomination is likely its best shot.
Still, I don’t see the Golden Globes as much of a predictor for the Oscars. I think it’s more of a way of seeing what people in the inner film circles are excited about at the moment. In that case my thinking was confirmed, “Avatar” is the official frontrunner for Best Picture. Yes, voters walked onto Pandora, and now they simply can’t seem to get away. Hopefully, they’re not as crazy as these people. I’m not necessarily happy that “Avatar” is stealing the thunder from several other more worthy films, but I have to hand it to James Cameron: never in a million years did I think the entire world would fall in love with a three hour movie about ten foot tall blue-cat-monkey people.
The other film I suspected as a spoiler for “Avatar,” “Up in the Air,” faired only decently tonight. It took home a well deserved Best Screenplay award, solidifying it as by far the front runner for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Meanwhile, the two best supporting actors were officially confirmed as the front runners. Christoph Waltz was the first thing on everyone’s mind from the second audiences first saw him ask for a glass of milk. Meanwhile, I knew Mo’Nique was the only imaginable winner from the minute I saw what was then called “Push” at Sundance.
Another big film, “The Hurt Locker,” went home totally empt handed. However, it has been gaining much momentum lately so I do expect it to do much better at the Oscars. Plus, it’s sweeping of the Critics Choice Awards were a very promising sign. That $12 million at the box office though, really isn’t.
The lead acting categories are a whole other story. Robert Downey Jr. should be happy with his win for “Sherlock Holmes” and expect nothing further. While George Clooney still has something of a shot, Jeff Bridges seems like the real man to beat right now. I haven’t seen Bridges’ performance in “Crazy Heart” yet, but to Bridges’ awards success I say: Dude Abides.
The most unpredictable category this year is the Best Actress category. There are four very possible candidates right now, and two who equally have a clear shot at winning. Meryl Streep has a good shot for “Julie & Julia” simply because, she’s Meryl Streep. Plus, her performance has gotten nothing but absolute raves. Sandra Bullock’s performance in “The Blind Side” also has a very good shot. Not only has she been lauded for her performance, but the film itself has become something of an underdog. Its amazing box office success was expected by no one. Perhaps this could play into votes.
Unfortunately, there still seems like little hope for “Inglourious Basterds” besides Christoph Waltz. I have a good feeling “Basterds” might’ve won Best Screenplay tonight if the Globes split it up into two separate categories. Only the WGA Awards will be able to answer that. In the mean time, Tarantino will have to wait another few years for his long deserved Best Director Oscar. If Scorsese (who was honored tonight) could wait 40 years, then so can he.
On a side note: am I the only one bothered by the fact that Best Drama always seems to be more significant to analysts than Best Comedy? Seriously, when will people start taking Comedies more seriously.
*I would’ve voted for “(500) Days of Summer.” “The Hangover” might’ve been the funniest comedy of the year, but it wasn’t the most brilliantly made.
Full List of Winners Here.

Why Avatar Could Win Best Picture

I know, the nominations won’t be out for another few weeks, but I think I already see a winner emerging.

Even if it’s too early to tell, “Avatar,” which has basically rewritten the book on blockbuster filmmaking, will be the Oscar champion this year. Maybe voters will choose it because this year, there are 10 nominees for Best Picture. This is a throwback to the early days of the Oscars, and selecting “Avatar” might be the voters’ way of saying they missed the good old days when a studio could make a lavish blockbuster that was actually, well…good.
Even if it does contain a radically new style of filmmaking, “Avatar” has everything a voter would look for in a movie: action, romance, humor, and drama. Mostly though, Academy members seem to favor the film freshest in their minds (with the rare exception of “Crash” in 2005), and “Avatar” is all anyone is talking about. This factor seems likely what propelled “Slumdog Millionaire” to be the little-film-that-could last year.
However, as great as “Avatar” was, does it even deserve the trophy? While “Avatar” was a milestone in special effects, its story and characters lacked in certain places. A film should win Best Picture for its quality, not just its importance.
However, “Avatar” does face some tough competition. As Owen Gleiberman points out, this year’s race is mainly between the big budgeted “Avatar” and the smaller, character study of “Up in the Air.” Both films are fresh in our minds and excellent for very different reasons. One film chronicles a shift in how films are made, while another represents how a good story on film should be told.
“Avatar” could loose out to “Up in the Air” the same way the film “Avatar” is so often compared to, “Star Wars,” did. “Star Wars” lost to “Annie Hall,” another classic black comedy heavy on character and light on action.
From the way I see it, Academy voters select winners using three different techniques: their heart, their brain, and hype. If voters decide to vote with their hearts, “Up in the Air” will be the likely winner. If they vote with their brains (highly unlikely), the winner would be either “Inglourious Basterds” or “The Hurt Locker.”
This year, they’ll go with the hype and select “Avatar.” I’m not saying this because of a dislike of “Avatar,” nor am I trying to start a backlash. I have remained just as wowed by “Avatar” as everyone else has. With “Avatar,” James Cameron captured one of the most vividly amazing worlds ever created by the human imagination. This film will usher in a new era of fine filmmaking. However, without the groundbreaking special effects, the story would not have been strong enough to support “Avatar.”
Also, I don’t believe the greatness of “Avatar” is all hype. All I’m saying is that “Avatar” represents what voters think a Best Picture film should look like, rather than what a Best Picture film actually should be. That is precisely why you can count “Avatar” as this year’s frontrunner.

The Top 10 Movies of 2009

In a recent tweet, Roger Ebert proclaimed 2009 as “one of those magic movie years like 1939 or 1976.” Some might say that’s a bold statement, but I say it’s not too far off. Of all the movie years this decade, 2009 ranks second only to 2007 (the year of “There Will Be Blood,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Michael Clayton,” “Knocked Up,” etc.).
Yes, there was much trash this year. From toy commercials like “Transformers 2″ and “G.I. Joe” to death porn like “The Final Destination” and the ugliness of “The Ugly Truth,” 2009 indeed showed just how low Hollywood was willing to go just to make a buck. But beyond much preposterousness, creativity abounded.
There was something many filmmakers this year, both mainstream and independent, showed that set 2009 apart: bravery. Filmmakers were so willing to be bold that the best films were beyond great. Some of the boldest moves included the changing of history, the willingness to not make simple conclusions, and an inclination to show that the world is unfair and sometimes, the hero just can’t win. Oh, and add some CGI blue cat monkey people to the mix.
This year gave us some amazing new talents (Marc Webb, Neil Blomkamp) and some old pros doing what they do best (Quentin Tarantino, The Coen Brothers, James Cameron).
2009 gave us an eclectic mix of Basterds and aliens and corporate a-holes. Here now, are the ten best films of the year 2009:
1. Inglourious Basterds- It’s been almost half a year since “Inglourious Basterds” came out, and I still can’t think of a better movie that has come out since. “Basterds” is a World War II movie that only Quentin Tarantino could ever pull off: philosophical, extremely violent, and funnier than you could ever imagine. Tarantino shows off a rare ability to make vast stretches of dialogue as exciting as epic battle sequences. Brad Pitt, Eli Roth and Diane Kruger give career best performances while Melanie Laurent proves herself as a worthy leading woman. The real scene stealer, though, is Christoph Waltz, who portrays a Nazi as calm and casual as he is sadistic. In the end, “Basterds” amazes me in its audacity to both change history and turn such serious subject matter into a fun B-movie. This is a medium for Tarantino to show us both his love of movies and the insane universe in which he inhabits. It’s a universe that, in a perfect world, would truly exist. Read Review
2. A Serious Man- Some films just grow on you. “A Serious Man” is one of them. “A Serious Man” is both the most mature and the meanest film Joel & Ethan Coen have made to date. It tells the story of the suffering but well intentioned patriarch of a 1960s middle class Jewish family. “A Serious Man” is the most personal film of the Coen Brothers’ career and it shows in the perfection of every little detail of the era and culture. Michael Stuhlbarg is perfect in the role of Larry Gopnik, flawlessly portraying the character’s flawed nature and vulnerability to an almost hilarious effect. The Coen Brothers have created a film that offers no easy conclusions and will keep you talking and talking about it. It will one day be looked as the quintessential film about the Jewish American experience. Read Review ; Extra Analysis
3. Up in the Air- “Up in the Air” is one of those rare films that strikes the perfect balance between comedy and tragedy. Jason Reitman managed to create a film about a man so far disconnected from other human beings that is both relevant social commentary and a future classic. “Up in the Air” shows the downside of a corporate life, and that even though flying solo can satisfy some people, nothing compares to the feeling of being (and remaining) connected to others. Read Review
up_in_the_air_1.jpg image by The_Playlist
4. (500) Days of Summer- Far and away the best romantic comedy to come out in years. “(500) Days of Summer” is a standout in its genre for its willingness to bend the rules and be unpredictable. It’s not necessarily a love story, but a story about love between Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel). It’s told completely out of order because whichever way the story is told, this relationship will inevitably head toward disaster. “(500) Days of Summer” scores on creativity and on having the best use of a Hall & Oates song you’ll ever see. Read Review; Extra Analysis

5. The Hurt Locker- To date, most films about the Iraq War have tried and failed. That is, until “The Hurt Locker” came about, a film that connected quite simply because it offered a truthful, apolitical view of a war nobody quite understands. The film has an eerie documentary feel, and Kathryn Bigelow directs each action sequence with the utmost care and precision missing from most mainstream action films today. “The Hurt Locker” is not so much a film about Iraq, or a film about the hell of war, but rather about why men fight. Read Review
6. Precious- As so many before me have said, “Precious” tells the story of the girl you might walk by on the street and completely ignore. “Precious” is at times one of the toughest films to watch for its raw realism. However, sitting through it is almost a revelation for exactly that reason. Lee Daniels has created a film that will open your eyes to a world you knew existed, but like to pretend it didn’t. Amazingly, “Precious” also provides a bright ray of hope in such a dark world. Gabourey Sidibe gives a fine breakout performance as the titular lead. However, Mo’Nique truly steals the show as Precious’ abusive mother. She gives off the kind of brutal hatred that is at times too painful to watch, but too powerful to ever look away from.
 GET ON THE BUS Gabourey Sidibe delivers a powerful performance in Precious Precious: Based on the Novel \'Push\' by Sapphire, Gabourey \'Gabby\' Sidibe
7. Fantastic Mr. Fox- What kind of world do we live in where a movie made for kids, but is even more suitable for adults, fairs so poorly at the box office? Forget ticket sales, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is a marvel, and proof of Wes Anderson’s wide range in directing ability. Anderson opts for old fashion stop-capture animation which quite ironically, makes its animal characters seem even more human. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” shows Anderson as the master of mise-en-scene. While kids won’t get the deeply existential questions Mr. Fox poses, make no mistake, this is the perfect movie for every member of the family. Read Review
8. Avatar- James Cameron, the most ambitious director of this generation, created what is quite possibly the most ambitious sci-fi epic to date. What set this film apart is its landmark special effects and use of motion capture technology which turns the Na’vi into creatures with a tangible, human quality. But what amazes me most about “Avatar” is the new world Cameron created for it. Each detail of Pandora is so vividly realized that it might as well be a real place. This is the kind of imagination missing from blockbusters nowadays, and the reason why I hail “Avatar” the “Star Wars” of our time. Read Review
9. District 9- Watch out, because the moderate-sized country at the southernmost tip of Africa has just given birth to a new filmmaking force to be reckoned with. Neil Blomkamp’s film is a thrilling and sometimes even funny sci-fi mockumentary about aliens landing in Johannesburg, and then being segregated by frightened humans. It works as both social commentary and awesome sci-fi entertainment. This new classic boldly sets an anti-Apartheid theme in a country scarred by Apartheid and uses its aliens to convey the theme. While “Avatar” is the best sci-fi film of the year, “District 9″ is the most original. Read Review
10. The Hangover- I needed one legitimate comedy for my list. After much thinking, I decided I’d go with what was the most hilarious and surprising film of the year. “The Hangover” is a great comedy because nearly every line is funny. The characters are beyond funny, and are enhanced by the believable chemistry between the actors. What makes “The Hangover” worthy of the top 10 is how it manages to be both a gross-out comedy and a mystery at the same time. “The Hangover” at first seems like it’s going to be the typical bachelor party in Vegas flick, but in the end, it’s a perfectly tuned satire of the idea of Vegas and the reality of it. That and tigers. And babies in sunglasses. Read Review
Other Contenders: Up, Adventureland, Invictus, Bruno, Star Trek, I Love You, Man, Dare, We Live in Public
Worst Movie: The Final Destination (3D)
Still Need to See: In the Loop, An Education, Moon, The Blind Side, Paranormal Activity, Big Fan, A Single Man, Observe and Report
Most Underrated: Adventureland
Most Overrated: 2012
Biggest Disappointments: Public Enemies, Where the Wild Things Are