Monthly Archives: February 2011

Last Post About the Oscars: They Suck (This Year)

Oh, Academy. You could provide us with some amazing set pieces but this year, you couldn’t give us a great show. Too much nostalgia can’t cover a lack of charm. Not to mention, some undeserving winners.

I can’t be too angry about some of the winners tonight; I knew already that there was no way that “Black Swan” could trump “The King’s Speech.” But really, David Fincher still remains Oscarless? Worst of all, was the loss of “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” I have a feeling that the Academy was too afraid of the chaos Banksy would’ve caused if he won. But now, we will never know what could’ve happened. I bet Banksy wouldn’t have revealed his true identity, but whatever he would’ve planned would have probably made the entire show. And it also would’ve been much more entertaining than once again, having to hear someone yell about bankers being criminals. Seriously Hollywood, thanks for telling me something I haven’t heard a million times in the past three years.
While James Franco and Anne Hathaway are always entertaining and pretty to look at, for some reason, their chemistry just didn’t seem to work. I think it was less a reflection on their work and more a reflection on poor writing. Although, Franco didn’t seem totally there. Though, I would say they had a few enjoyable planned sketches. However, their onstage chemistry just did not cut it.
The highlights of the show were the small, spontaneous moments. One of them was Melissa Leo dropping the f-bomb, apparently the first time in Oscar history. The other great spontaneous moment was Kirk Douglas’s prolonged stay on stage. It might have to do with the fact that the man is almost 100 years old and he suffered a stroke, but there was something ridiculously endearing about it. He seemed more enthusiastic to be there than anyone else. He basically had to be dragged off the stage. Kirk Douglas, please come back to the Oscars anytime you’d like.
Perhaps the funniest planned moment of the night was the auto-tuned music video. It seemed a little more like something that would be on the MTV Movie Awards rather than the Academy Awards, but it was executed in such a way that it came off as actually funny rather than just trying to appeal to a younger audience.
There was truly one thing though that made the Oscars slightly more bearable this year, and it’s a little more serious. It was those montages. Now, usually the overlong tributes drive me crazy (and yes, some of them were still very unnecessary this year). This year though, some of them were constructed in a truly amazing way. The final montage of the Best Picture winners is probably the best the Academy has ever done. Setting the final speech of “The King’s Speech” to perfectly match up with clips from every Best Picture nominee was truly extraordinary. The montage was a reminder of the magic that forms when a truly great piece of filmmaking is assembled.
Even though I disagreed with the big winner this year, the montage reminded me why these movies were especially selected as Best Picture nominees: they each displayed something unique, uplifting, or maddening that could be found nowhere else in cinema this year. As Spielberg put it, the winner could go along with movies like “On the Waterfront” and the losers will go along with movies like “The Grapes of Wrath.” Neither seem like bad places to be.
Find the complete list of winners here.
Note: I just had to make Luke Matheny the main picture for this article. That is probably the best Jewfro in Hollywood.

Also, I unfortunately can’t post that great montage. And I also can’t find the Kirk Douglas clip. Thanks a lot, US copyright laws…

The Oscars: Who Will Win

Best Picture: The King’s Speech

For a good portion of 2010, “The Social Network” seemed like the definite frontrunner. Along with sweeping every early award, it was a critic and audience darling. That’s a rare find. Then suddenly, a little indie presented as a classic Best Picture came along and a truly interesting Oscar race was born. While there could be a slim chance of a “Social Network” upset, the royalty-ladden “The King’s Speech,” which took home the Producers Guild Award, will be this year’s Best Picture winner.
Best Director: David Fincher (The Social Network)

Common sense might put Tom Hooper as winner here. He did win the Directors Guild Award, and his debut work on “The King’s Speech” was so impressive that it might as well have been the work of an old prBoldo. Yet, this year will be the rare year where the Picture and Director prize go to two separate films. This will be the year that David Fincher finally picks up his Best DirectBoldor statue for his dark yet incredibly absorbing take on the tale of the creation of Facebook. Maybe now I can finally forgive the Academy for not nominating him for “Se7en” or “Fight Club.”
Best Actor: Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)

BoldAt this point, there’s really no room for an upset. Colin Firth’s moving and inspiring portrayal of the troubled King of England will finally earn this Brit his long deserved Best Actor Oscar.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

There is a small chance that Annette Bening could pull a surprise win here after a series of snubs. Though it looks more likely that once again she’ll lose out to a younger actress (Hilary Swank beat her twice). Natalie Portman’s devastating performance as a young woman going through a psychological breakdown will earn her her first Oscar.
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (The Fighter)

Seriously, does this prediction even need justification? Bale’s spot-on method acting as a crack addict and his climb to redemption are the kind of qualities the Academy always loves. Not to mention, he’s got quite a few precursor awards. And the man actually deserves this honor. Shockingly, this is Bale’s first Oscar nomination ever. It definitely won’t be his last nomination, or win, ever though.

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo (The Fighter)

There is a big chance that Hailee Steinfeld’s stellar work in “True Grit” could make her one of the youngest Oscar winners ever. Though this year, with SAG on her side, and a snub in the past (“Frozen River”), Leo looks like the likely winner for her unforgettable performance as Mickey Warde’s controlling, yet loving, mother. Honestly though, the Academy should’ve just given her a joint nomination with every single of the crazy sisters.

Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler (The King’s Speech)

This is a tough one. “Inception” took the WGA award, though the Academy’s lack of love for Christopher Nolan could be an obstacle here. “The Kids Are All Right” could score this for being funny, warm, and socially groundbreaking. Even the smart character work of “The Fighter” has a nice chance here. Though in the end, it looks most likely that the Academy will also crown its Best Picture winner with the best writing. For making the past seem so alive and entertaining, Seidler deserves a little recognition.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network)

No contest. Aaron Sorkin took the story of Facebook and made it both accessible and entertaining. It has already produced some of the most memorable movie quotes of the young, new decade (“If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you would have invented Facebook.”). One could argue that the real reason that Sorkin is destined to win is that his screenplay has swept the precursors. That may be true. Though actually, anyone who can make an ending somehow comparable to Rosebud in “Citizen Kane” deserves any Oscar imaginable.

The Other Categories:

Best Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Best Foreign Language Film: Biutiful
Editing: The Social Network
Cinematography: Black Swan
Score: The Social Network
Song: “If I Rise”
Art Direction: The King’s Speech
Costume Design: The King’s Speech
Sound Editing: Inception
Sound Mixing: Inception
Visual Effects: Inception
Score: The Social Network
Makeup: The Wolfman

The Oscars: Who Should Win

In the coming weeks, you’ll find out who I think will be taking home the golden statues on February 27. But I would like to do something more important right now. Here now is who would be taking home all the Oscars if I could cast a ballot.

Best Picture: Black Swan

To some, “Black Swan” may seem like the most atypical Best Picture nomination out there. Yet, few other movies could fit the category so perfectly. After all, its story of being obsessed and enveloped into the process of making art mirrors the entire filmmaking process itself. The reason I really want “Black Swan” to win is that even three months after viewing it, I still have no idea what it is. And that makes it all the better. It’s exhilarating, weird, and sometimes even hard to watch and despite all that, it will never leave my head. It reminded me of watching something like “A Clockwork Orange” and “The Deer Hunter” for the first time: like those films, certain images from “Black Swan” will forever be engraved into my memory. It might be rare for us to ever see a movie about psychological deterioration this real, and this good, ever again.

Best Director: Darren Aronofsky

Because shouldn’t the Best Picture also have the best director? “Black Swan” represents a crossroads in Aronofsky’s career. It is a mixture of the distorted reality of “Pi” and “Requiem for a Dream” and the hyper-realism of “The Wrestler.” All of this perfectly formed a view of reality through a damaged psychological mind. Aronofsky is truly a genius at using the camera to put the audience into a certain state of mind and never lets them leave it, even after the end credits have rolled. He succeeds not only at creating a new world and a set of emotions, but letting the viewer live in them and be haunted by them. He may not win the Oscar this year, but if he continues to make movies as good as “Black Swan,” the trophy will one day soon be his.

Best Actor: James Franco/Colin Firth

This was a difficult one. Firth is the frontrunner here, and he has earned his praise by being able to bring so much compassion, warmth, and humor to what could’ve been a stale performance. He is also a year overd
e for the award (he should’ve won for “A Single Man”). Yet Firth’s brilliance this year did not stand as strong as James Franco’s riveting performance in “127 Hours.” Really, what other actor could pull off

a performance that involves them being stuck in a canyon, by themself, for 90 minutes? “127 Hours” was a one man show in the truest sense and if Franco had messed up this performance, this movie would never have worked. He didn’t and alas, “127 Hours” was more than just a great movie: it was a transformative, gut-wrenching experience. Mr. Franco, between earning all those PhDs please, don’t stop acting.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman

Sometimes, in order for an actor to truly show off their abilities, they must play that role
no one ever thought they could pull off, and then pull it off. That emotional girl from “Garden State” has transformed into a disturbed young woman, trying to break free from the chains holding her down. With this role, Portman proved herself an actress who will do literally anything to achieve perfection. Yes, that even includes brutalizing her own body. In the end, her eventual transformation and descent into madness doesn’t feel forced or over-the-top; it just feels so sad and real. Aronofsky made “Black Swan” a visual marvel, and Portman became the big, twisted heart in its center.
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale

Because who the hell else would I choose? Bale didn’t just steal every scene he was in in “The Fighter,” he makes every other character in the movie totally insignificant. Bale’s method acting is comparable to De Niro in his prime. Bale is so good that he is constantly trying to find new ways to act; as he acts with every inch of his body. Even when he isn’t front and center of ac certain scene, he still manages to steal it. For a character who suffers from a serious crack addiction, Bale brings an unexpected quality to the film, something missing from most films of this subject matter: joy. I could probably use this entire blog space to talk about Bale’s performance, but some things are better off left unsaid.

Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld

You’d have to be a pretty talented fourteen-year-old to hold your own against the likes of Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, but Hailee Steinfeld managed to do it. Rather than being some annoying teenage girl, she was instead poised and wise, outshining all of her superiors. In just one role, she has proved herself mature enough to do anything, even firing a rifle. In a world where teen idols include Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, Steinfeld is a nice breath of fresh air.

Best Original Screenplay: The Kids Are All Right

I desperately want to say that my choice is “Inception.” However, that would likely be just because I wish Christopher Nolan was nominated for Best Director. Also, “Black Swan” was criminally snubbed in this category. So instead, I’m going with that comedy I can’t get enough of: “The Kids Are All Right.” Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg’s screenplay found a sense of humor deriving from character, rather than gags and forgettable one-liners. The whole thing has a quality of honesty that is missing from most movies made nowadays. Most importantly, it handled its subject matter with such truth and delicacy. No message was being shoved down our throats, this was simply a movie about a lesbian couple, and a dysfunctional family. In order to make something acceptable, it is best to show how similar, rather than how different, it is from our regular lives.

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network

It takes a lot to be compared to “Citizen Kane” without sounding hyperbolic.
Of course, Aaron Sorkin was able to somehow make this a reality. For

a film about a bunch of court cases, it has a quality of fast-paced humor and entertainment missing from most films based on true stories nowadays. Despite the fact that a lot of this story may be fictionalized, it still managed to capture a moment. That moment is the moment when the internet suddenly became the new driving force of our lives. And then in the end, it made Mark Zuckerberg both a raging anti-hero and a tragic figure, someone to admire and even pity at the same time. Aaron Sorkin, you are the glue that held this fine piece of filmmaking together.