Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Round-Up. 17-7 Bitches!

So the Oscars were last night and I promised a recap/round-up of my 'picks'.

But, before I begin, I wanted to bring up Steven Speilberg's quote, who presented the Best Picture award last night.

He pointed out that the winning movie would join the Academy as definitely one of the best movies to ever be made (I'm paraphrasing here). But, sent out a gentle reminder the nine other nominated films that do not win, would join such celebrated pictures as Citizen Cane, The Grapes of Wrath, The Graduate and Raging Bull.

Again, judging by my ten best films of all time, you can see that what he speaks is pure truth. That's why I'm not too upset that David Fincher didn't get his just desserts. At the end of they day, people will be talking about The Social Network (i.e. the acting, the score, the screenplay, the history) more than The King's Speech.

It's like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Time Bandits, Aliens, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Evil Dead 2 and all of the other movies that shaped my personal life. Those movies mean something to me. Although probably pretty good, The King's Speech isn't going to do that.

So, how did I do. Well, 17-7 overall. Not too shabby.

A couple quotes on the categories that I missed:

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY - I chose Kids Are All Right. But The King's Speech won. I was happy to see the oldest person to win this Academy Award, which gives me motivation that life isn't over at 40 years old. Hell, it's just beginning.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM - I picked DOGTOOTH. However, IN A BETTER WORLD won. I know nothing about it.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY. I picked ROGER DEAKINS for his work in TRUE GRIT. However, INCEPTION won. This was one of the biggest shockers for me. Deakins is a cinematography god. And has never won this award.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE. I chose RESTREPO. However, INSIDE JOB won. I hear it's a good film and am looking forward to seeing it. Especially now.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING. Another shocker. I've never not picked this award. I chose 127 Hours, but SOCIAL NETWORK won. In hindsight, I think this is a very well deserved win.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM. I thought Pixar's Day & Night would win. THE LOST THING took the prize. Good job.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM. I picked Na Wewe. However, my second choice - GOD OF LOVE took the award. Not surprised.

So, there you have it.

Now, after watching the Oscars, I'm really looking forward to seeing True Grit, Inside Job, The King's Speech and The Fighter.

How about you?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My 2010 Academy Awards Picks

Okay, well the Academy has spoken and I can honestly say - besides John Hawkes getting a nomination for Winter's Bone - the nominations weren't really very surprising.

If you read this blog, you'll know that I pick with my gut, this instance, this instance and this instance, which isn't a very good thing if you've ever watched such a political spectacle as the Academy Awards.

Which reminds me of a story....

About a week ago I was talking to my father-in-law who is also a pretty big movie buff. We got to talking about the Best Picture nominees. He's seen all of them except for Toy Story 3.

I asked him which movie did he think would take home the Oscar.

"King's Speech," he said without hesitation.

"Really," I said. "Seems like Social Network is gaining some steam as well."

"Meh," he said. "It's not going to to win."

"Why not?" I asked.

"Well, let me tell you how it is," he said taking a swig of his Budweiser can. "That Zuckerberg guy was an asshole in the beginning of the movie and he turned out to be a billionaire asshole at the end of the movie."

"Yeah," I asked, wanting more.

"The King's Speech makes you feel good at the end," he said proudly. "It made you happy when you left the theater. It made you feel like you could take on the world."

All was quiet for a couple seconds. Then he spoke up.

"Don't know about you, but I like to feel like I can take on the world when I leave the theater."

So, with that story in mind, I'm going to give it my best shot this year and, this year, not going with my gut but what's going to be probable.

I hope this is Fincher's year. Additionally, with BLACK SWAN, WINTER'S BONE, TRUE GRIT and even TOY STORY 3 up for the honors - it's a tough one. With Hooper being awarded Best Director for KING'S SPEECH, I'm going with the odds and saying this will win Best Picture. But, personally, I felt THE SOCIAL NETWORK was the pick of the litter with BLACK SWAN a strong second.

I just can't see anyone else winning this but Firth.

Bening's performance was flawless (which makes me scratch my head right now), but I think Bening was more of supporting role working of the likes of Mark Ruffalo and Julienne Moore. Portman had to carry the entire movie. I would like to see Lawrence win for WINTER'S BONE. But that's not going to happen. Next.

This will be a salute to Bale's fine catalogue of work in a number of crazy-ass movies from THE DARK KNIGHT all the way to THE MECHANIC - and everything in between.

Now, if Bening was in this category, I'd say it was a no-brainer. That said, I was on the fence. Hailee Steinfeld did a respectable job for her role as the young daughter looking for a little payback to the people who killed her father. However, Melissa Leo will probalby win. She won the Golden Globe and the Screen Actor's Guild Award. I'm picking her.

One of the best movie's of the year. However, How To Train Your Dragon was a helluva film and picked up a shitlod of awards at last week's Annie Awards. This may be a gut pick, but fuck it.

I thought this would be Fincher's year. What's great abouth his direction in this film is that it's so under the radar. Besides Sorkin's screenplay, he created the mood and the tone that made this near-flawless film come to life. However, the Director's Guild already awarded Hooper for his work. The stats don't lie. Only six times, has the DGA winner not won the Academy Award. Bummer.

I'm alwayins hearing good things about ANOTHER YEAR, THE FIGHTER and INCEPTION (the most original story of the year). However, more original screenplay winners are usually acting gems, that's why I think it's a toss-up between the two big guns in THE KING'S SPEECH and THE KIDS. My gut says the Kids!

I think Toy Story 3's screenplay is vastly underrated. But it won't win. Winter's Bone is fantastic as well. But it won't win. Give this one to Sorkin to create a whirlwind of a movie with witty dialogue, flashbacks aplenty and making a movie about a computer program so goddamn intense.

Haven't seen any of these except for DOGTOOTH. But I would say it's a toss-up between BIUTIFUL and DOGTOOTH. I'm going with the latter. DOGTOOTH is one of the craziest most original films I've seen. I hear Biutiful is a sob fest. 

Let's look at some of the highpoints of Roger Deakin's resume shall we...THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, O' BROTHER WHERE ART THOU, THE ASSASINATION OF JESSE JAMES, A BEAUTIFUL MIND, FARGO, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, JARHEAD...among others. It's about time this guy got his just desserts.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE - Restrepo (National Geographic Entertainment) - An Outpost Films Production Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
Loved Exit Through the Gift Shop. Would like to see Banksy show up to win this award. However, in my mind, it wasn't a 100% documentary. More like 50% documentary. 50% Spinal-Tap esque mockumentary. Plus, Restrepo was one of the most powerful movies that I saw last year. Check it out.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT - Strangers No More - A Simon & Goodman Picture Company Production Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
Killing In The Name is about a Muslim speaking out on Terrorism. Poster Girl is a movie about an former soldier speaking out on guns. Strangers No More is about a grade school in Tel Aviv featuring children from 48 different countries.  Sun Come Up is about a group of people who live on an island and are forced to flee their land due to global warming.The Warriors Of Qiugang is like the movie Erin Brokovich but it takes place in China.  I'm going for Strangers because it spreads a message of hope rather than heartache.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING - 127 Hours (Fox Searchlight) Jon Harris
I've never lost in successfully picking this category. Never. That said, I have a feeling it's going to be a three-way between Black Swan, The Social Network and 127 Hours. Due to the subject content and the rapid fire-editing that's been accustomed to Danny Boyle's style, I'm going with 127 HOURS. I mean, how on earth do you make a guy who's arm is stuck to a rock interesting for 2 hours? Boyle, and his editor, succeeded.

ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS - Inception (Warner Bros) - Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
I just can't see anyone else winning this. ALICE IN WONDERLAND was grand, but.....

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION - Alice in Wonderland (Walt Disney) - Production Design: Robert Stromberg, Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara
Although this made some people's 10 worst list (not mine), I think Alice in Wonderland had some strong points, the Art Direction and Costumes were at the very top.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN - Alice in Wonderland (Walt Disney) - Colleen Atwood
See Art Direction above.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP - The Wolfman (Universal) Rick Baker and Dave Elsey
I've been a Rick Baker fan ever since he won his first Academy Award for AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. Finally got to see The Wolfman last week on HBO. Ironic he's going to win another OSCAR for another interpretation of his masterpiece.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SCORE) - The Social Network (Sony Pictures Releasing) - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Just a hunch. Another gut pick because I love Nine Inch Nails.

ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SONG) - “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3 (Walt Disney) - Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
Everyone loves Randy Newman. That's why I think he'll win his second Academy Award for another great Toy Story song.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM - Day & Night (Walt Disney) - A Pixar Animation Studios Production Teddy Newton
I viewed all of the Animated Short Film nominees except for Let's Pollute (which is a cool idea for some sort of online infomercial). In my opinion, it's going to come down to three. Although I loved Let's Pollute, I think Day & Night, The Gruffalo and The Lost Thing are heads and tails above the rest. The Lost Thing, based on a children's book by Shaun Tan, looks like the biggest contender. However, Day & Night was just a great idea, I can't see anyone else winning this. Unless, the Academy is sick of giving awards to Pixar.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM - Na Wewe (Premium Films) - A CUT! Production Ivan Goldschmidt
I thought Na Wewe was the best acted out of all the other shorts (which is what I would go by if I were judging). However, I would also give a nod to God of Love for it's black and white sleek look.

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING - Inception (Warner Bros) - Richard King
Just because.

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING - Inception (Warner Bros) - Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
Just because. (See Sound Editing).

Well, there you have it. Tune in on Monday morning after the Oscars to see how I did. Feel free to use these picks for your ballots. I'm sure you'll win some cash.