Archive for January, 2011

In Honor of John Barry


Apparently you only live once — or so it seems.


Oscar Breakdown by Category: Best Original Song & Best Original Score

These are the categories that are most open to subjectiveness. Maybe this is my film bias, but I feel it’s easier for people to agree on music than it is for people to agree on the nuances of editing and performance. (Also, people are stupid, and when it comes to music, I’m just another one of the idiots.)

Best Song is one of my favorite categories. It’s one I can just pull up with people and we can just listen to the music and be like, “Oh, That won? That’s awesome!” It’s nice, because you don’t really ever know what wins Best Original Song, and then you go look and are like, “Oh shit, Shaft won!” And you can understand why.

So, instead of going through everything, I’ll just put the winners this time. But be warned, there’s a long discourse to come in this category. There’s too much good shit on here to not talk about.

I’m including on these lists, in specific cases, what the winner beat, so that way maybe sometime we can have the discussion of “How the fuck did “Gonna Fly Now” lose?”

I’m also going to highlight the ones I think are perfect decisions. Sometimes things are hit so squarely on the head you have to give respect where respect is due. (Some of them are just for the songs themselves, since nobody remembers the movies they were from. Also, I even highlighted the ones where they beat a song I like better, even though the won that won is also great. Like 1986.) (more…)

So much for that Social Network…

Well, that was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it?

Remember when we all thought Oscar was gonna get cool and give The Social Network Best Picture? Yeah, turns out they don’t like it so much. How do I know this?

Because The Social Network didn’t really win anything. Just critics awards and the Golden Globes. And if there’s anything the Academy can care less about, it’s the critics.

In case you didn’t know, Tom Hooper won the DGA award on Saturday. What that means is, he’s all but assured to win the Oscar in that category. And if that’s not all but assurance that The King’s Speech will take Best Picture, I don’t know what is. Even the biggest expert would have said that even if King’s Speech won, David Fincher would certainly win Best Director. But now, with King’s Speech winning that too, a Best Picture win is all but in the bag. (more…)

Oscar Breakdown by Category: Best Editing & Best Cinmatography

There are two definitions to Best Editing. The Academy usually fluctuates between one or the other.

The official definition is the editing of scenes into a motion picture. This can be interpreted several ways. the two most pertinent to the Academy are — unique or original editing, or specifically editing to make for a thrilling set of scenes or iconic moments that people remember — a starfighter race that leads to a big ass space station blowing up — a dude being chased by a giant fucking boulder — the systematic murder of a dude’s enemies during a baptism — Nicolas Cage staring at iguanas angrily — these are all examples of iconic moments. Editing makes them happen.

However, the more simple definition (that phrasing is appropriate when we’re discussing Hollywood) to this is — the editing is what makes a picture, so the Best Editing is what produces the Best Picture. It can go either way. You can pretty much tell by what wins which way they went. EIther way, a Best Editing nomination is essential to a film having any sort of chance to even think about winning Best Picture. (more…)

Oscar Breakdown by Category: Best Original Screenplay & Best Adapted Screenplay

The trick with screenplay categories is to not think literally. Obviously, with Best Original and Best Adapted, you get that one is for a script not based on any preexisting material and the other is. It’s pretty clear in the description. Like, “Do not keep within reach of children. This will fucking kill them.”

However, you have to understand that the Academy are a lazy bunch when it comes to voting. You’d think that, in order to properly judge what the best screenplay is, they’d actually sit and read all the scripts. What are you, out of your fucking mind? Do you really think they’re gonna read all those scripts? They don’t even read the scripts of the pictures they’re shooting! Hell, half the pictures go into production without a finished script. Iron Man was written between takes. Transformers 2 was written by the director during a writer’s strike and began shooting as soon as said strike was finished. Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t. (more…)

Oscar Breakdown by Category: Best Supporting Actor & Best Supporting Actress

These are two deceptively simple categories. What exactly is a “supporting” performance?

The official names for the categories are Best Actor/Actress “in a supporting role.” What actually constitutes a supporting role is a little dubious.

Take Timothy Hutton, for example. He won Best Supporting Actor in 1980 for Ordinary People. The film is about him dealing with the death of his brother. He attempts suicide, and his well-to-do Illinois family is concerned about what it will look like in front of the neighbors. Sort of. Dad is very supportive and wants to see his son get better. Mom has completely shut herself off from the world and now despises her son because she loved the dead one more. So now she’s cold to everyone and everything, except when she’s in public, where the facade of the happy family is kept up. Meanwhile, Timothy Hutton is seeing a shrink to help get out whatever anger and such he’s feeling. The movie is about him. So why did he go supporting? Because he was 20 at the time and his parents were played by top-billed Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore. By the rationale of the studio, they felt that all actors who are not the top-billed “stars” of the picture, are there merely in support of the stars. That’s bullshit. But, it’s what we put up with.

You have to take the good with the bad here. Take this year. Hailee Steinfeld is nominated supporting for True Grit. She’s the lead of the film. So is Jeff Bridges. This is apparent to anyone watching the film. But, the Academy wasn’t going to vote her Best Actress, because she’s 13. They vote her supporting, because that’s where she’s most likely to get on, and because in star terms, she’s technically there in “support” of Jeff Bridges. So is Matt Damon. But that’s apparent. It doesn’t really make much sense. (more…)

The Box Office Report – January 28-30

Last week in Box Office…

Well, would you look at that? How close was this motherfucker? (Meaning me, not the box office.)

No Strings Attached wins the weekend with $19.7 million. I believe (“believe” in this case means, “I fucking know. I’m about to quote myself”) my exact words were, “I say this movie barely hits $20 million this weekend….$20 million is my number.” The industry had it tracked a bit higher than I did. They all said $20 million, a million or two higher, thereabouts. I said, fuck that, $20 million is your crux, “this movie barely hits $20 million this weekend. It could, but I say high teens.” Hmm…

I also said, “Expect to see on Saturday this movie pulled in a modest $6.7-$7.1 million on Friday”…

“No Strings Attached easily topped the Friday, Jan. 21, box office in North America, taking in $7.31m…”

Hmm. (more…)

Oscar Breakdown by Category: Best Actor & Best Actress

I really don’t have that much history to lay on you for either of these categories. They pick what they feel is the best lead performance by a male and a female each year. That’s all it is. Well, not all, but —

The best thing I can say about the Best Actor category is that in 82 years of handing out statues, I only categorically disagree with about a dozen or so choices (maybe a few more, depending on what I’ve yet to see). So, with the amount of career achievement awards and makeup Oscars and bad decisions, that’s not bad.

Best Actress — well, that’s another story. I probably need to see a lot more performances before I decide on those. Best Actress tends to be the category with the most “lone” nominations. That is, the films that the actresses are nominated for tend to be films that don’t get other major nominations. This doesn’t happen all the time, but there are always one or two per year. That adds up to a lot. Plus, above all, Best Actress is the popularity contest Oscar.

I wonder why more people don’t call the Academy out on that one. Best Actor, it’s about the performance (and sometimes about awarding veterans or whatever), but in Best Actress, it really is the equivalent of, “Look at her, ain’t she cute?” Very 50s workplace. Don’t believe me? Reese Witherspoon. I know she won in a weak year, and I’d probably have voted for her too, but, you can’t really explain why she won. It’s essentially the, “You’re a Classy Dame” award, most years. Or it’s makeup Oscar or veteran award. In fact, on brief glance, only twice in the past decade has the Oscar gone to a performance performance. Everything else wasn’t awarded best primarily on performance. That doesn’t happen with Best Actor. Does it?


Oscar Breakdown by Category: Best Picture & Best Director

We’re gonna start from the top and work down. First, let’s begin with an overview of the category itself:

Best Picture is, quite simply, not quite simple. At first, there was no category. In the 1927-1928 awards ceremony, there were two separate categories for “Production.” The first was “Most Outstaning Production.”

Now MOP, was won by Wings, which is widely considered the first Best Picture winner. It was the Mop. How do you go against the Mop?

However, there was a second award, called “Most Unique and Artistic Production.” That went to Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. I love using the subtitle there. For some reason, the MUAP is not as widely recognized as the MOP. I guess MUAP isn’t as sexy. MUAP is something you get when you have a yeast infection. I’m pretty sure it’s part of the story of Hanukkah.

That first ceremony was very telling about Hollywood and what their priorities are – they separated between artistic storytelling and thrilling, “Hollywood” storytelling. Later on this would just be known as the Oscars. The Oscars are that separation. Usually. I don’t think any of us are still sure what Crash was. (more…)

And the Nominees are…

Well, well, well, it’s Oscar nomination morning. And I feel fine.

Let’s jump right into them, shall we?

Best Picture

Black Swan (Fox Searchlight)

The Fighter (Paramount)

Inception (Warner Bros.)

The Kids are All Right (Focus Features)

The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Company)

127 Hours (Fox Searchlight)

The Social Network (Sony Pictures)

Toy Story 3 (Disney)

True Grit (Paramount)

Winter’s Bone (Roadside Attractions) (more…)

The 2010 Razzie Awards

Oh boy, oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy.

It’s one of my favorite days of the year.

No, not Monday. Actually, I like Monday. As a concept, not so much in execution. One day I will be gainfully employed.

It’s the day they announce Razzie nominations!

It don’t use exclamation points lightly, so that shows you just how much I want you to think I’m excited.

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing how close the organization dedicated to berating piece of shit films gets to your opinions on what the biggest piece of shit films of the year were.

Let’s get right into it. I’m too excited to sit here and bullshit with the likes of you. (more…)

My Oscar Nominations (As Well As What I Think Will Be Nominated)

The Academy Awards are upon us. Don’t put up a struggle, they like it when you try to fight back. Just remember to go to a doctor immediately after and always press charges. We’ll be handing out whistles next week.

Tomorrow, the nominations will be announced for the 83rd Academy Awards. What does this mean? Not a god damn thing. But, I figure, this is as good a time as any to put forth what I think should be nominated in all of the categories. Because you care what I think, don’t you?

Ha ha, this is one-sided, I can’t really hear what you have to say. I’m going to hear what I wanted to hear, which is the sound of a crying Asian child.

So, here’s my list of who I would nominate for every award (followed by who I think the Academy will nominate). I’ll keep it to films that are mostly Oscar-worthy. I won’t put Scott Pilgrim up for Best Picture even though I thought it was the best film of the year. I’ll keep it within the realm of possibility. I will also not be participating in category fraud here. I vote leads as lead and supporting as supporting. So a certain True Grit performance is going lead, even though the Academy will almost certainly nominate it for Supporting. Which, I’m okay with them doing it, because she has a better chance to win by going supporting, but still — I don’t participate in such activities. (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Picture & Best Director – 2001

I say 2001 was a bad year for film, and it’s hard to disagree with that fact. Sure, there were some good movies, but not many Oscar movies. We got our first Harry Potter, we got Monsters, Inc., we got Shrek. But none of these will ever get (well, now…) nominated for Best Picture.

But, here are the good pictures from 2001 that did not get Best Picture nominations (some you may feel aren’t worthy, but, when you look at them, you can see why they would, could or should — rhymes — be in contention):

A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Ali, Amélie, Black Hawk Down, Mulholland Drive, Pearl Har…uhh…never mind, and Training Day.

I actually thought there would be more. That kind of made my argument for me. Sure, this doesn’t absolve the Academy for not nominating some of these, mostly — well, really just Amélie and Mulholland Drive, but we knew Lynch was too much of a mad genius for the Academy. The lack of Amélie love really surprises me because they nominated a foreign film just the year before this.

Also, the reason there’s such a problem with what won is because the film that probably should have won had a caveat to it. (The whole, ‘There are two more of them coming out, and we’d probably be better off just giving them the awards at the end of it as an accomplishment deal instead of giving it to the first one.”) (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Actor & Best Actress – 2001

This is one of those, you knew what they were gonna do like three weeks out. And you couldn’t do anything about it. One was deserving, one wasn’t. But, the one who wasn’t actually didn’t have competition, while the one who was arguably had people nominated that did better than they did. So, I guess we call it a wash. (Certainly not a whitewash though.)

(Get it, because the winners are both black.)

(Yeah, I went there. I know. But how could you not? I mean, wash — the joke practically set itself up.)


And the nominees were…

Russell Crowe, A Beautiful Mind

Sean Penn, I Am Sam

Will Smith, Ali

Denzel Washington, Training Day

Tom Wilkinson, In the Bedroom (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor & Best Supporting Actress – 2001

2001 — the year where nothing happened. This is the year whose only distinction is that it was the one where everyone’s like, “Vote for more black people!” Other than that this was forgettable in almost every way, down to the Best Picture winner which was one of those, “I guess…” decisions.

2001 was a bad year for movies. Something about 1s and 0s must make the movies not good. But at least the Supporting Actor and Lead Actor categories had some interest to them. Along with the once again bad decision-making that plagues most Oscar years.


And the nominees were…

Jim Broadbent, Iris

Ethan Hawke, Training Day

Ben Kingsley, Sexy Beast

Ian McKellen, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Jon Voight, Ali (more…)

The Box Office Report – January 21-23

Oh, here’s where writing a blog gets fun. Rather, more fun. Every week new films come out for me to see. And berate. And love unconditionally. And have the meaningless task of guessing how much they’re going to make for the weekend.

What’s great about picking box office, especially when you’re in a position like mine, it’s really for nothing but sport. You know how rich people go and shoot animals and shit just because? And occasionally vice presidents go and shoot people in the face? This is sort of like that. I’m just doing it purely because I want to see how close I get.

Keep in mind, seriously, that I really am not doing this for any other reason. In fact, I want most films to fail. The more these terrible movies fail at the box office, the sooner better shit can start coming out. You have no idea how happy I was that True Grit outperformed Little Fockers. Or that The Social Network made $100 million. I want to see good films prosper, and bad films fail. The Green Hornet making $40 million last weekend was shameful. Just fucking shameful. But, opinions aside, what I’m doing each week is just throwing out what I think something will make. For better or for worse. (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Picture and Best Director – 2000

2000 was an interesting year for the Oscars. And the industry in general. They were coming off an incredible year for motion pictures in 1999. Just to recap, look at this list of movies that came out in ’99:

  • American Beauty
  • American Pie
  • Analyze This
  • Any Given Sunday
  • Baby Geniuses
  • Being John Malkovich
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • Blue Streak
  • Bowfinger
  • Bringing Out the Dead (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Actor & Best Actress – 2000

These are fun, because, it’s a mix of actor vs. performance. You look at the sheet of winners and be like, “They won for that?” And then your brain starts processing, and you’re like, “Well, that makes sense. But, not for that. Well, they do like them, and they probably deserve something, and…”


Javier Bardem, Before Night Falls

Russell Crowe, Gladiator

Tom Hanks, Cast Away

Ed Haris, Pollock

Geoffrey Rush, Quills (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor & Best Supporting Actress – 2000

Here’s the first entry in our Oscar quest. I say our, because mine started a fuck long time ago. Now it’s ours.

Since the Oscars will be upon us within the next 40 days (and nominations will be announced in exactly 7 days), I figure this is a good time to start gearing up for that wonderful, wonderful night.

How this is gonna work is, from now until Oscar night, I will go over all the major 6 nominees for every year of the past decade, Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress and Director. I will go over who won, what I thought of the performances, who I would have voted for, who I thought should have won, all of it.

The purposes of this are educational (and expository). I want you to be able to know what I think are the worthwhile performances in 83 years worth of films, so that if you should ever come across one of them, maybe you’ll actually give them a chance based on some good things I had to say about it. Maybe you’ll discover something in here that ends up becoming one of your favorite films all because of me. And wouldn’t my ego love to hear that.

My other goal is simple — I’ve watched a shit ton of movies this past year. I want to document my watching them in some way. I want to be able to go back and remember what I thought of certain films, because, eventually, being the DVD hound I am, I will want to buy some of them, and I want to know which ones I liked and want to add to the collection.

So that’s that. Now, let’s start with 2000 and work backwards. (more…)

The Rest of 2011

Here are 30 films that are either completed or soon to be completed that will most likely be released this year. Some are holdovers from last year (for various reasons), while some are being held back until they hit festivals to get some buzz going, while some — well, who the fuck knows.

Keep in mind, there are more than these films coming out (or likely to come out) this year, but these are the ones I am interested enough in and want others to know about and go see. The rest we can discover for ourselves.


The 2010 Golden Globes

Where to begin with these things… I’m not particularly sure how the Golden Globes became this huge awards show, because they really are terribly rigged. (Note: Since I wrote this, people have come out saying so. People that worked there — I like the use of the word payola.)

Let’s just get this out of the way now, so everyone can all be on the same page, if they don’t know how these awards work.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is an organization of journalists who cover the US film industry in countries that aren’t the US. Pretty simple. What the Globes are, are a compilation of these 90 or so people getting together to pick their favorite movies each year. That’s all it is. So saying the awards are rigged isn’t the most accurate, nor the most inaccurate, designation. It’s merely these people picking their favorite movies. How they do so is really up to them. Like last year, when Leo decided to campaign for his buddy Tobey Maguire, and invited the HFPA to a party where they all mysteriously were given free iPhones and shit, and lo-and-behold, Tobey just happened to get nominated come awards time (They had to give the iPhones back, since it’s blatantly against regulations, but the nomination was still there).

Okay, so now we’re both on page two. But it’s the same one. Too bad this is a Choose-Your-Own Adventure. You might die when you turn to page 47.

Of course, somewhere along the way, the show became a big party. Stars attending, a three hour ceremony on TV, kind of like the dress rehearsal for the Oscars. And because of that, there is a certain amount of ringer work that goes into nominations each year. Typically, the HFPA nominates those people they want to see attend their ceremony, for added press, prestige, or whatever. That’s why The Tourist got all those nominations.

We know they’re going to nominate films like The Tourist because that’s how it works. And it’s fine. I’m not going to rail against the nomination because it’s almost a certainty to not win. So it really doesn’t matter if it’s there. Sure, enough nominations and the category becomes extremely weak, but whatever. Say all you want against the Globes, but they’re essentially these people picking their favorite films. They just happen to get to have their picks broadcasted on prime time. We should all be so lucky. (more…)

The 2011 Release Calendar (November & December)

Well, here we are. Normally this is where all the Oscar movies come in. But, unlike this year (or maybe like this year, I don’t know what it looked like back in January. Probably the same.), almost none of them are scheduled yet. They usually pop up after hitting festivals and stuff. So, now we’re left with what is essentially a list of some big budget Oscar potentials (most of which don’t work out) and the big budget movies designed to make money while the Oscar films take prestige.

Also, stay tuned, because tomorrow — or Monday. Actually probably Monday. Tomorrow is Golden Globes day — I’m going to throw up a post right quick about the movies that don’t have release dates that were either pushed from 2010 or are known to be coming out this year. These are the ones that we may or may not see by year’s end, and are the ones I am excited or intrigued enough about (or can’t wait to berate) that I want to tell you about. For now, let’s round out the 2011: (more…)

The 2011 Release Calendar (September & October)

Ah, the fall season. Two months with only two weeks worth of films. September is where they dump all the bad or mediocre shit that they couldn’t fit into March. Those heist movies and action thrillers. Occasionally you’ll get a potential Oscar film that’s dropped in September, but that’s usually when they don’t really know how much of an Oscar film it is. 90% of the time they fall short of nominations. The only film in recent memory released in September that has a shot at significant nominations is The Town. And if that falls short of Best Picture, the September stigma will still be in tact. Oscar films don’t come out until October, alongside all the horror movies. Let me show you: (more…)

The 2011 Release Calendar (July & August)

Wow, this seems fucking light. I like it. Feels like it’s gonna be a limber summer. Not many things I need to pay for. Usually there are multiple studio films packed into the same weekend over the summer. This summer feels like it’ll be nice and – oh, who am I kidding? I know Friedberg and Seltzer have a robot film or some such shit to unleash – but even so, I still think this summer might not be as terrible as summers past. Which is either because the money is more tightly compacted in certain films or (gasp) is put into some end of the year films too.

Whatever. My job here isn’t to think. It’s to berate. Let it begin. (more…)