Saturday, 6 March 2010

'Precious' sweeps spirit awards

Best Feature: 'Precious'

Best Director: Lee Daniels ('Precious')

Best First Feature: Scott Cooper, Robert Duvall, Rob Carliner, Judy
Cairo, T-Bone Burnett ('Crazy Heart')

John Cassavetes Award: Lynn Shelton ('Humpday')

Best Screenplay: Scott Neustader, Michael H. Weber ('500 Days of Summer')

Best First Screenplay: Geoffrey Fletcher ('Precious')

Best Female Lead: Gabourey Sidibe ('Precious)'

Best Male Lead: Jeff Bridges ('Crazy Heart')

Best Supporting Male: Woody Harrelson ('The Messenger')

Best Supporting Female: Mo'Nique ('Precious')

Best Foreign Film: ('An Education')

Best Documentary: ('Anvil! The Story of Anvil')

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins ('A Serious Man')

Robert Altman Award: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Ellen Chenoweth, Rachel
Tenner, Richard Kind, Sari Lennick, Jessica McManus, Fred Melamed,
Michael Stuhlbarg, Aaron Wolff ('A Serious Man')

Piaget Producers Award: Karen Chien ('The Exploding Girl', 'Santa Mesa')

Acura Someone to Watch Award: Kyle Patrick Alvarez ('Easier With Practice')

Chaz and Roger Ebert Truer than Fiction Award: Bill Ross and Turner Ross (45365)

Friday, 5 March 2010

Ohhh colourful

Thursday, 4 March 2010

'Precious' at home

Out on DVD in the US today! Yippeeeee!

Not only do you get Lee Daniels harrowing and stirring triumph of a film, but you get some wonderful extras including Gabourey Sidibe's awesome audition, and some other extras.

Buy it today.

Also, for those of you who are hotly anticipating Daniels next project 'Selma' which is based on the US civil rights march in 1965, there is casting news. Not Robert DeNiro was circling the project (perhaps to play president Lyndon B. Johnson or Alabama Governor George "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" Wallace) but the only official casting new is that Hugh Jackman has joined the project - no matter what IMDB says.

Now the only role I can see him playing is that of George Wallace (evil, racist = Oscar bait) or civil rights campaigner and Unitarian Universal minister from Boston, James Reeb who was beaten to death while marching (saintly martyr = Oscar bait).

The roles of Johnson (DeNiro would be a good fit physically), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (please say no to Jamie Foxx and yes to Jeffrey Wright - he was born in 1965 so it is fitting), Coretta Scott King (Viola Davis (born same year) or Regina King please!) are yet to be cast.

Anticipating this one very much!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

IS James Cameron really that scary?

I mean after reading this I was beginning to worry that Mr. Cameron will really freak out if 'Avatar' does not win best picture.

Wouldn't that be fantastic. A giant celebrity hissy fit. I mean the man must be able to laugh at himself. Everyone has been going on and on that he looks like an old lesbian with his hair cut, and he has yet to change it.

Unless Miranda Priestly actually directed 'Avatar'.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Love and Hate

I am so having the above relationship with the Oscars.

I always think "What would I do if I were an Academy voter?" when the season comes around. And it is for this reason that I constantly really hate the Academy Awards. Every year they get so much wrong, even when they are getting some things right.

I was in shock in 2007 when they managed to award what I thought were the best (or close to) in each category.
Tilda Swinton, Javier Bardem, Marion Cotillard, Daniel Day Lewis, The Coen brothers x 2 and Diablo Cody all went home with an award and I could not deny any of them, based on the performances given. But that is indeed extremely rare - I can barely remember when it has happened before.

Now of course it could just be my opinion that casts this fog over ever Oscar year.
Just because what I think is the best hasn't won should not mean me going into a little sulk.
Yet that is exactly what I am doing right now.
I have hardly posted on the blog. I have not even gotten close to doing the MAFFE awards, and I really do not care.
What fuels this Oscar depression is reading the constant bloggers going on and on about the 'Avatar' vs 'The Hurt Locker' scandal. Apparently emails have been sent and everyone is up in a tizzy.
Who cares?
Well I care.
The Academy Awards want to be the gold medal of the movie year, and in fact they are.
However they constantly embarrass themselves by nominating films and performances that are many times less than great.
Did they not see Tilda Swinton in 'Julia' this year? *
Or more disturbingly, did they honestly think Sandra Bullock gave a more impressive performance than Swinton?
When the presenters come out, do they not say "The nominees for best performance by an Actress in a leading role are.."? Perhaps they should change it to "The people you have decided to include in the Best Actress category are...". At least it would be honest and not make a mockery of the craft of acting.
Did Bullock really give the best performance by an Actress in a leading role for 'The Blind Side'?
Not by a long shot.
Did she give the best performance of the nominated five? I would have to say no, yet she will still likely win the award.
Mainly because people think she is due, they want to reward her for her career. Funny, as one of the highest paid actresses working today I would think the gazillions of dollars are reward enough for her career.
It is not like she has been an awards bait actress before. Her nomination is mainly due to the fact her film was a hit, and the fact her performance was a good (not great) one, adds to this need to give her an Oscar.
This is a constant with the actress categories - which is rather depressing.
You are rewarded for being due, popular, sexy, making yourself physically unattractive for the performance and sometimes, very rarely, for giving the best performance of the year.
When that happens, it is usually because no one can deny the performance - this is something that only comes along once or twice in a decade.

This year it is Mo'Nique for 'Precious'.
She is winning an Oscar because no one can possibly deny the performance.

But what about 'Best performance by an Actress in a leading role'?
Well there are only really two nominees who are there solely because of the strength of their performance - Carey Mulligan for 'An Education' and Gabourey Sidibe for 'Precious'.
Meryl Streep is here because she is the greatest living actress and is still turning out wonderful work. The performance is great, but on a Meryl scale it is merely a good one.
Helen Mirren is here because she is another actress who has managed to stay on top of her game for many years, plus she is great in the film, even if she can do that in her sleep.
And we know why Bullock is here.
Yet when these members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences come to vote, most of them will not do so based on the performance. And they wonder why, as an institution, they are losing respect with the public. And they wonder why their ratings are so low.
Treat the voting power you have with the respect you feel your craft deserves! How else will the younger generation know what to strive for if they think Bullock gave the greatest female performance by a lead actress in 2009?
They will strive for mediocrity.

Of course I will be watching the awards. I want to see Mo'Nique come out victorious more than anything.
It will break my heart to see Gabby again ignored, but here is hoping she gets the Spirit Award the night before.

And in case anyone was wondering, my own personal ballot would look like this:
Best Picture - “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
Actor in a Leading Role - Colin Firth in “A Single Man”
Actor in a Supporting Role - Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”
Actress in a Leading Role - Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
Actress in a Supporting Role - Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
Animated Feature Film - “Up”
Art Direction - “Avatar”
Cinematography - “The White Ribbon”
Costume Design - “Bright Star”
Directing - “Inglourious Basterds” - Quentin Tarantino
Documentary (Feature) - “The Cove” Nominees to be determined
Film Editing - “Inglourious Basterds” Sally Menke
Foreign Language Film - “The White Ribbon”
Makeup - “The Young Victoria”
Music (Original Score) - “Up” Michael Giacchino
Music (Original Song) - “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart”
Short Film (Animated) - “A Matter of Loaf and Death” Nick Park
Sound Editing - “Avatar”
Sound Mixing - “The Hurt Locker”
Visual Effects - “District 9”
Writing (Adapted Screenplay) - “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
Writing (Original Screenplay) - “Inglourious Basterds” Written by Quentin Tarantino

* To be a member of the Academy you really should have seen every film and performance of note for the year.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Mini Review - 'Das Weiße Band' (The White Ribbon)

So much has already been said about Michael Haneke's dark and disturbing look at a small village in North Germany in the years before World War II that you almost feel as though you have seen it before you actually have. Still, all those reviews do not prepare you for the lasting power of the film.
For over 2 hours we live in a world ruled by men. The Baron, who runs the village, and who most of the villagers need for work, treats his wife poorly as well as the female members of staff. The local doctor treats the midwife like shit while he abuses his own daughter, and the local pastor punishes his children for trivial matters, while forcing them to wear a white ribbon to remind them of the purity of which they have strayed.
As the film moves on, layers are peeled away like an onion. The pristine and wholesome outer layer hinds something darker beneath, and as we spend more time in the company of this village, and it inhabitants we see the world we currently live in.

This film is set up and a possible explanation to why the Germans were susceptible to Nazism, and it is true that the children do learn moral absolutism, sternness and emotional violence from the men of the village, but is could just was well be pointing the finger at the Middle East of today, or us and the hate mongering of war.

The tension evoked keeps the viewer glued to the screen, even thought the pacing is deliberately slow and purposeful. The is hardly any violence on screen, but you want to cover your eyes all the same.
The cast is uniformly excellent, especially the put upon women in the film, and of course the cinematorgraphy is stunning. However the last effect is the screenplay and the direction of Haneke.
A sharp intelligent film, from one of the masters of social commentary.

Grade - A-