Tuesday, April 20, 2010

These Men Are Unpleasant to Look At

I want you to soak this in. Not for too long! I don't want you to go blind from ugly:

This is the production team behind what is known currently as Project X. The first man is Todd Phillips, of Old School, Starsky and Hutch and The Hangover fame. The beardiest man is Joel Silver, who produced The Matrix, Fred Claus and what kind of looks like every shitty action film since 1976. Wow. The last man, with his strange maw and terrible squints, is Nima Nourizadeh. I guess he's made commercials? His IMDb page is about as bare as they come, with an editing job and Project X the only two listed.

I could harp on about how little good these men have contributed to the world. Phillips is almost the definition of 'hack,' tackling films with giant comedy banners draped over them, working with talented comedic actors, and ending up unveiling meandering stories with very little humor. And this Joel Silver guy impresses the hell out of me with how many just awful movies he's produced. But none of this is the issue. The issue is how unbearable it is to try and look at the above picture.

Look at those slobs! How did they get anywhere in the state they're in? Isn't filmmaking a profession? Shouldn't you have an ounce of self respect to even get yourself into a job like that? Is there any possibility these men aren't actually human, but are part of some horrible mole-man species released into the wild after a lab experiment gone awry?

That picture is of the worst looking trio I've ever seen. Please take it away from me.

- Eric T. Voigt

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sex and the City 2 Trailer!?

It feels like just yesterday we were throwing on our Carrie Bradshaw costumes and rushing off to the theater to catch the first "Sex and the City" movie. The two hours and twenty-five minutes felt like mere seconds, but for that glorious period of time we were back with our dearest friends: sassy Samantha, sweet little Charlotte, gentle Miranda and the star, Carrie. The credits rolled, and it hurt to be separated. "First with the series cancellation in 2004, and now this?"

Luckily that separation will end once more, on May 28th, with "Sex and the City 2." Even luckier: the first full length trailer has just debuted. What does it have in store for us? Just what could be expected. The entire cast is back, picking up right where we left them: Carrie's enjoying life with Mr. Big, Charlotte's grappling with motherhood, Samantha's defying all odds with her sex life, Miranda's basically holding down the fort. There's lavish fashion, hunky men and exciting vacation destinations. Sounds a lot like another "Sex and the City" movie you may have seen.

Details on the story are scant, but we know the film will be taking place in both New York City and Abu Dhabi. The girls will be dealing with their lives as wives, mothers and cougars and it appears a faithfulness story line has been introduced, revealing Carrie flirting with the idea of betraying Big. Could she return from the Middle East with a new man?

Michael Patrick King, the writer, director and producer of the first film is reprising all of his roles as well. Guest stars include Liza Minelli, Penelope Cruz, and even Miley Cyrus. The main draw, as always, are the leading ladies: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon. Go get 'em, girls.

- Eric T. Voigt

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"The Terminator" Was Boring and I Didn't Like It One Bit

James Cameron isn't the sort of director I take the time to learn much about. I know he has a history of making action movies, which is a genre I don't understand and don't want to understand. I'd delve into Cameron's back catalog if I'd be compensated for my time, and as the chances of that happening are like 1 in 4 it doesn't feel like something I'll do. Lucky for me I have a professor who wanted to help me give Cameron a chance. He screened The Terminator in class today. It felt like I was watching the fight sequences in Transformers 2 all over again, shot on older film stock and starring less sympathetic actors.

I'm grateful to Cameron for keeping the first twenty-five minutes mostly dialogue free. If a character opened their mouth to do something other than shout for help I was either holding back laughter, failing to hold back my laughter and chuckling audibly or staring at the screen hoping I could rewrite the speech as it exited their waste holes. Those lines I've been unable to avoid since childhood were nothing like I expected them to be. "I'll be back" and "come with me if you want to live" have the ring of memorable lines when everyone goes around adding their own clever spin, but in the movie they were kinda just there. "Come with me..." was especially poorly delivered, half-squawked and all embarrassing. I assumed people quoted these lines to honor the movie. I forgot people quote for all sorts of irreverent reasons. I wish people would say "I was dreaming about dogs" more often. That one's a winner.

For every last practical reason I would label The Terminator as an action film. There are explosions, guns and chases. All three can be immensely thrilling. I could watch people shooting at an exploding chase all day long and never get bored. I could not watch the way Cameron employs them for more than a few minutes without rolling my terrible eyes and yawning my terrible yawns. Innocent people getting mowed down by a terminator was barely cool the first time it happens, yet it happens over and over. Unstoppable forces aren't exciting unless they have something deeper backing them up, or something that may impossibly stop them to counter. Car chases can be thrilling, too, if people aren't constantly spinning out or slowly scraping against the opposition. That's all that happens, with plenty of exposition on top. And if there are going to be explosions how about showing some damage? I want to know what's at stake when a pipe bomb bursts in a busy tunnel. A frame of reference would be nice.

Linda Hamilton's Sarah Conner was so much the victim in a slasher movie I couldn't agree with her more through all her many, many complaints and cries that she couldn't be the mother of a powerful future rebel leader. Michael Biehn's Kyle Reese was a poor warrior, and a huge creep for falling madly in love with a photograph of a woman living 40 years in his past. The police force had a few interesting characters, and are shot dead, because The Terminator doesn't deal with likability, it deals with mind-numbing line after blah-level action scene.

How The Terminator ranks in as one of anybody's favorite films is a question that makes me verbally angry. I'm verbalizing my anger at this. It doesn't hold up at all if it was even worth watching for effects back in 1984. It's a movie like this that causes me to make sweeping generalizations directed at 80s cinema. What a waste of everyone involved's time, and I hope they all used the money it made to wash away their memories connected to the project. Ugh. Ugh minus.

- Eric T. Voigt, "We use them to spot Terminators/Your world is pretty terrifying." ~ Kyle and Sarah, The Terminator

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Wanted To Be Right (But I Was Dead Wrong and You Knew It'd Happen)

I was very, very wrong about the Oscars this year. Back in 2007, when everything about the Oscars was fun, I could have swept house. Last year I didn't even try, because there if ever was an Oscars devoid of fun. Dead Oscars. This Oscars was kind of interesting. Kind of political in the speeches, kind of surprising in the winners. Here's who won, how wrong I was, and what it was like to see it all go down:

Best Picture

I thought it would be Avatar. I was wrong. It was The Hurt Locker.

Now, I really thought it was going to be Avatar. Why wouldn't it be? Well, because it wasn't a very good movie. The voters knew this, and with astounding logic decided The Hurt Locker was the worthy movie. Nah, it wasn't my favorite of the year, but it would have been in top fifteen, so I hold no grudge, and am honestly pleased by the turn of event. Huzzah, young Hurt Locker. Huzzah forever.

Best Director

I thought it would be James Cameron. I was wrong. It was Kathryn Bigelow.

Kathryn Bigelow, you lucky dog! Not only was she the first woman to win the award, she was the first giant to win the award. She is so huge. Full of talent, I guess. She makes her first respectable film, and gets an Oscar. A true Cinderella story. More of a Little Engine That Could, really. I guessed Cameron because I guessed Avatar. I take it he's probably one of societies worst men, so I thank the Academy for keeping the statue out of his grubby grasp.

Best Actor

I thought it would be Colin Firth. I was wrong. It was Jeff Bridges.

After hearing over and over everywhere but in my own head how much of a chance Jeff Bridges had at winning I wanted to change my guess. I stuck with it, and was met with crushing defeat. Colin Firth deserved it. Jeff Bridges deserved it for The Big Lebowski and The Last Picture Show. Congratulations on getting a long overdue award, Jeff Bridges. You're this year's Kate Winslet.

Best Supporting Actor

I thought it would be Christoph Waltz. I was right. It was Christoph Waltz.

His acceptance speech was so humble. It was like a gentle caress. The Academy doesn't deserve that level of sweetness, but if we get more like him it could change us all for the better. I hope his rising star keeps on rising and he blows up in the sun. In a good way. Lets see if The Green Hornet shows him giving us a complete loop away from The Jew Hunter.

Best Actress

I thought it would be Gabourey Sidibe. I was wrong. It was... ugh... it was Sandra Bullock.

She called Gabourey GAH-BOO-RAY! She shouted it just like that. What a speech. What a speech from an undeserving actress who knew she didn't deserve that award. Not that she was up against any greats. Meryl sure, but not for that. Here comes Sandra Bullock, fresh off winning a Razzie of all things, and she gets an Oscar, too? That's the sickest joke you can tell me.

Best Supporting Actress

I thought it would be Mo'Nique. I was right. It was Mo'Nique.

This lady has an open relationship with her third husband. She's never taken advantage of this, but she would in a flash because that's how much she trusts her husband, and that's how much they understand each other. And for another thing: they're childhood sweethearts. Who wouldn't become an actress with that?

Best Animated Feature

I thought it would be Up. I was right. It was Up.

Like anyone thought Fantastic Mr. Fox would win. Like I didn't dream about it. They were the wildest. Even bloggers dream.

Best Art Direction

I thought it would be Nine. I was wrong. It was Avatar.

What a fantasy nerd's love affair. Avatar got all the nerd awards and it knows it. Dorky nerds wanted Avatar to win Best Picture and they seriously thought their respect for it would force it into the winner's circle. I thought it'd win Best Picture because I have no faith in humanity. My pessimism lost for a good reason. Their optimism lost for a good reason they can't understand. Eat your heart out, Avatar. You earned this..

Best Cinematography

I thought it would be The Hurt Locker. I was wrong. It was Avatar.

Winner of the worst win. Computers can't film movies, even if they come from Columbia College.

Best Costume Design

I thought it would be Bright Star. I was wrong. It was The Young Victorian.

How could I know? I feel like Ebert over here, trying to cover my shame for not understanding these categories. I didn't see the movies. I'm sorry. I'll try and adjust that in the coming years. Nah. Probably not. These are movies to see on DVD. This is how I operate.

Best Documentary Feature

I thought it would be The Cove. I was right. It was The Cove.

This weekend I'll watch The Cove, so I can see how enjoyable and/or Oscar deserving it is then. For now I'll stick with assuming the Academy went with the most popular, viewer friendly choice, and be on my cynical way.

Best Documentary Short

I thought it would be Rabbit a la Berlin. I was wrong. It was Music by Prudence.

Who the hell cares? The dumb ol' uplifting movie got the dumb ol' award and the cool black-and-white rabbit short about the Berlin wall got shafted. No big deal. I'll watch it later.

Best Foreign Feature

I thought it would be A Prophet. I was wrong. It was El Secreto de sus Ojos.

I'm no expert on these immigrant pictures, but I know the El Secreto de sus Ojos clips made it look like the worst film nominated. The White Ribbon is great, A Prophet looks as great or better, The Milk of Sorrow looked really cool, and even Ajami looks cutely joy inspiring. None of those got it, and the gross looker did. I'll never see it. I might see it, but I'm not going out of my way to find it. Close-minded maybe. Bitter-minded definitely.

Best Make-Up

I thought it would be The Young Victorian. I was wrong. It was Star Trek.

Hey! That's kind of cool. I thought Star Trek was more fun than most of the other big Summertime movies. I'm glad it got something.

Best Original Score

I thought it would be Michael Giacchino. I was right. It was Michael Giacchino.

Knew it.

Best Original Song

I thought it would be "The Weary Kind." I was right. It was "The Weary Kind."

And I don't care.

Best Animated Short

I thought it would be Logorama. I was right. It was Logorama.

Proving some of my wins were my boldest guesses. Takes the fun out of guessing when your serious bets are wrong.

Best Live-Action Short

I thought it would be Miracle Fish. I was wrong. It was The New Tenants.

It looks really good. I want to see it, myself.

Best Sounding Editing

I thought it would be The Hurt Locker. I was right. It was The Hurt Locker.

Oh, and by the way

Best Sound Mixing

I thought it would be The Hurt Locker. I was right. It was The Hurt Locker.

The only film worth its weight in sounds. Well chosen.

Best Visual Effects

I thought it would be Avatar. I was right. It was Avatar.

Who the hell cares, and I mean it this time.

Best Film Editing

I thought it would be The Hurt Locker. I don't remember covering it earlier, but I thought it would be. I was right. It was The Hurt Locker.

Lockin' things up.

Best Adapted Screenplay

I thought it would be Up in the Air. I was wrong. It was Precious.


Best Original Screenplay

I thought it would be Up. I was wrong. It was The Hurt Locker.

Kinda cool that The Hurt Locker was so full of wins that night. I'm looking forward to next year's Academy Awards, and that freaks me out. Maybe I'll guess with a surer foot. How many did I end up getting? Well, it breaks down like so:

Right: 11. Wrong: 13. There are 24 categories to worry about? Jeez. I lost. Have a good night.

- Eric T. Voigt, She Does Spend a Lot of Time Here

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shutter Island: A Place Where Miracles Happen

People are going to tell you Shutter Island has a ridiculous plot. They're going to say it amounts to quick entertainment for the culturally inert Saturday afternoon audiences. Maybe they'll tell you things were too predictable, or to the opposite side of the spectrum too confusing. Don't believe it.

I'm not saying Shutter Island is one hundred perfect goofy-proof. There are some downright laughable moments, and the script doesn't lend itself to subtle filmmaking. Luckily for us Scorsese doesn't need that to make a great movie. If Shutter Island can be damned for letting dangerously violent criminals roam dark hallways unsupervised it can be rewarded triply for Leonardo DiCaprio's powerful, pulling-on-heartstrings performance, the creepy, stylized world of the Ashecliffe Institution and a conclusion that elevates everything leading up to it, especially the nearly farfetched moments. For every minor unsatisfaction there are a handful of more noteworthy positives.

It's probably unfair to claim only someone like Scorsese could take a story like Shutter Island's and turn it into the gold it was, but I think it's fair enough. Every aspect of the film is handled with such sincerity that the sillier parts aren't just glanced over, but willingly accepted. Sincerity and expertise. Everyone working on the film was clearly a master at their craft. Scorsese directed a team of crack movie-makers, and the results speak for themselves. I'll speak on their behalf. Take Leonardo. I consider him a fine actor. His past work with Scorsese has been good, and sometimes great. As Federal Marshall Daniels he outdoes himself, giving one of the most evocative performances I've had the pleasure of watching this year.

My formality is bogging me down. What I want to say is that Shutter Island was a fun, well-paced adventure thriller. It's long, but it's well worth it. I've heard complaints that too much time is spent on what in the end could possibly have been done away with. I think this would have jeopardized the emotional impact. The tone would have lost its eerie, the style would have been stripped of its dazzle. The scenes feel so nuanced, and like so much care has gone into them that having seen the brunt of the beast I can't imagine what could be stripped off for time's sake.

When I like just about everything in a movie I find jumping off on points like cinematography or editing to be kind of moot. Giving the film as a whole a standing ovation seems a more apt approach. Shutter Island gets a quadruple-ovation from me. It's Scorsese at his near best, fit snugly in the middle of his greatest achievements, and his good achievements. There is no bad with Martin Scorsese.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Perfectly Reasonable Oscar Win Guesses

Hang on to your hats everybody, the Oscar train is pulling in, along with a strong wind which could remove the caps from your heads. Last year I did what some could call a meagerly terrible job guessing who would win which titles. This year is gonna be different. This year I have a feeling my guesses will be rock solid.

If I'm not right about ten of these nominees I'll eat one of those hats I mentioned earlier on.

With ten potential Best Pictures to choose from the title's esteem could be seen as getting stretched a bit thin. What's the point in even trying for an award nine other shmucks are being considered for? But pictures do not nominate themselves, and Inglourious Basterds is going to be seated on a pedestal right next to The Blind Side, and the animated Up is going to have two chances at best. Who do I think is going to win Best Picture?

I've given it a lot of thought, and spent restless nights pondering the matter. I really hate to say Avatar, and I'm not even sure I'm saying Avatar. Should I say Avatar? The chance that Avatar is going to win feels like a strong one. Is it that far fetched of an idea? Titanic was just as much of a long shot, and there isn't as strong a romance in Avatar, but there is the massive amounts of money raked in, plus industry people in the industry who have the right to vote on the matter are the ones calling the film a "game changer." That's my new favorite buzz phrase. My official word on the matter is...

Best Picture will go to Avatar. If not Avatar I would put The Hurt Locker as the second most likely, but almost tied with Up in the Air. If neither of those three win I will assume Hell has frozen over, and Lake Michigan has dried up. And pigs will fly. People aren't necessarily looking for a story about our failing economy and our fruitless war efforts to define our time. They're looking for someone flashy. Avatar can provide that.

Now that I've gotten the big one out of the way I really don't have a reason to keep writing this. Turns out I'm going to anyway! What Best Picture could be made without a Best Director? If past award ceremonies have taught me anything it's that the greatest directors do not indeed have to be responsible for the best film of the year. Kathryn Bigelow is getting much love from critics, and I wouldn't be shocked if she won the title this year. I just don't think she will. I will be happy enough if she does, and think she's deserving, but who will probably take home the little golden man is...

James Cameron to coincide with the Best Picture win. It might not be fair for Avatar to sweep house, but there's really no reason it won't. It has the main stream support, it has quite a critical backing, and it was insanely expensive while still getting all that money back with interest. Only a real award winner could pull something like that off, and that's James Cameron. Jimmy Cam. The father of all blue cats. He'll take his award, go home and watch dailies of Zoe Saldana while drifting off to sleep in a puddle of drool. Mostly drool.

Do the 82nd Academy Awards seem like a rip-off yet? That's okay. This isn't really the 82nd Academy Awards. This is speculation about how they could end up playing out. Here's where my speculation is going to get even shakier than it already is. I've saw three of the five performances in the Best Actor category. I've heard mixed remarks on Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart although he did take the win at the Golden Globes. Morgan Freeman looked fine in the trailer for Invictus, but he didn't look any more or less like his past Morgan Freemans, and I've read his take on Nelson Mandela was nice and expected. Nothing superb. George Clooney was a derivative of many of his past roles. Jeremy Renner looks like he's growing into a fine young actor, and I hope to see even more maturity brought to the table when he stars in The Town. All those guys aside, the winner as I predict will be...

Colin Firth for A Single Man. The Academy Awards seem like a much friendly place for him to be nominated than the Globes, and with Julianne Moore taking a hard snubbing there's no other way A Single Man can get its supposedly due recognition. I'd consider it this year's Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. A solid performance in a somewhat unseen film. Worth talking about, placed in a group with a bunch of good, but not great hopefuls. If not Firth I'd have to guess Jeff Bridges would get a reprise.

Best Supporting Actor gives even fewer performances for me to have born witness to. I hear Woody Harrelson is great in The Messenger, I haven't even heard of The Last Station, let alone know how Christopher Plummer was in it. Ohhh. Wait. The one about Tolstoy? Ohhh. Weird. Okay, no, he's not going to win. I highly doubt Damon will get anything out of Invictus past a nomination, and really? Stanley Tucci as the kidnapper in The Lovely Bones? Was this category made for me not to care? I'm not going to remember any of them were nominated after the worthy winner takes the crown, and he will take it in the shape of...

Christoph Waltz! The best performance in Inglourious Basterds, and one of my favorite of 2009, Waltz made Nazi Colonel Hans Landa bristle with intensity. He was great. A blood-chilling villain who keeps a steady tongue in cheek. I hope he wins, and if one of the others gets it I'll probably go ahead and stop watching. If I even do watch. I might just check up on the results when they come in at The Playlist or Slashfilm. Christoph Waltz for the win. Disregard that I haven't given the other nominees a chance. I don't think I need to on this matter.

Great... I didn't think I could get any less informed after Best Supporting Actors. Turns out I didn't see any of the five films the Best Actresses were pulled from. I think I can safely say Sandra Bullock is not going to win for The Blind Side. Was that movie really that good? Really? I understand Carey Mulligan being there because people can't shut up about her role in An Education. Guessing with the help of word of mouth and reviews I've perused I'm going to blindly hand the award to...

Gabourey Sidibe. Streep won at the Golden Globes, but that's... that's not even right. Sandra Bullock was nominated for her performance in The Proposal at the Globes, so I'm thinking I shouldn't bother taking them into any serious account. If there was one leading female performance I heard about more than Mulligan's last year it was Sidibe's as Precious. Go get 'em. I never had faith in that film, but I have faith she's going to win.

Neither Anna Kendrick or Vera Farmiga were anything above average in Up in the Air, so I'm trusting they were nominated because nobody could think up any leading ladies they'd seen prior to December once the other three slots were filled. Melanie Laurent, anybody? Guess not. So maybe I was wrong and I will trust the Globes to steer me right on this one...

Mo'Nique for Precious. Probably. Penelope Cruz didn't look like she was stretching anyones imagination in Nine, and Maggie Gyllenhaal has never acted outside an range of 'standard.' A comedian turned abusive mother shouts Award worthy performance. Hooray for two shots in the dark.

Finally we're back in familiar territory with Best Animated Feature. I haven't seen The Secret of Kells, but who has? Am I right? Up top! Shoot... I didn't see The Princess and The Frog, either. I did see Coraline in glorious 3D, though. In fact, I saw Fantastic Mr. Fox twice. That'll count toward one of the movies I didn't see. The final animated nominee I caught in theater, and the assumed winner, is...

Up. Why? Because Pixar made it. Not that I didn't like Up. I liked it quite a bit. I just don't think it's fair to pit other animated films against a Pixar film. It will trounce every other animated film each and every single opportunity it gets. Pixar films are like unstoppable forces. Consider Up a pitbull that hasn't been fed in a week or two. What that dog would do is what Up will do to its competition.

Maybe writing this was a mistake. I mean, the next category is Art Direction, and once again I'm finding myself only familiar with a single nominee. That nominee is Avatar, and I'm getting pretty sick of feeling like I'm vouching for Avatar. I'm sick of not having enough information to base my judges on too, don't get me wrong, but that coupled with potentially giving Avatar another win bugs me. So here I go, with a near complete in the dark...

Best Art Direction will go to John Myhre, with Gordon Sim as set decorator, for Nine. It's a supposed train wreck, and I'm betting art direction was one of its only strong suits. Myhre has won in the past, and the art direction in Avatar is potentially the worst thing about the movie next to the dialogue. If there's a definite anti-trend with the Oscars picking odd ducks like Nine I guess it will just go to show I'm not the analyst I claimed to be. And if Nine doesn't win I don't have any more credible guesses to give.

This could have been an easy category, Best Cinematography. Being a veritable wonder nut when it comes to cinematography I figured I could pinpoint the clear winner no problems. Avatar and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince are in the running beside The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds and The White Ribbon. The most intentional loop has been thrown. I didn't realize any of Avatar could be considered to have 'cinematography' what with everything happening inside a computer, and the Harry Potter nomination is eyebrow raising, then overlook-able. The other three nominees are all very worthy. The loopy thing is that each has such a different style. Vastly different styles. Three way ties need be accepted.

Since we've seen the color film stripped of its color routine before from films like The Man Who Wasn't There and Prince's Under the Cherry Moon I think the academy is unlikely to go for the black-and-white option. Sorry, Berger. Robert Richardson's work on Inglourious Basterds was wonderful, but his past wins may have convinced voters to look somewhere else. In keeping with the flavor of the month the academy may think handheld and gritty is the way to go and give the Slumdog-ian work of Barry Ackroyd the honor. The Hurt Locker for the win?

Now to costumes. I don't know anything about costuming. Half of me wants to believe everyone brings their clothes from home to the set. The dumb half of me. Assisting the dumb part make a choice is the part of me that didn't see a single nominee in this category. My success rate staying about 50 percent will be quite a sight. Winner:

Bright Star? I hear it's really good. I hear it's considered snubbed. I'll confirm when I see it.

Writing is nice. The more I write the more enjoyment I'm getting out of it. For this article writing less might be writing more. My points are threadbare now. This is the dregs. Two categories in a row where I haven't seen the slightest bit of any nominee. I could fake it up with the actresses. I know enough about their work to make deluded guesses. Documentaries aren't the same breed as actresses. They're each as different from each other as the cinematography options. In keeping with the "if I've heard buzz it must be gold" method I dub the winner...

... The Cove. I'm interested in seeing this. Bright Star, too. Where were all these movies in 2009?

Now I have to choose a documentary short film, too? Ugh. Alright. Rabbit a la Berlin sounds good. Not to knock short documentaries, by the way. This is coming from being uninformed.

I'm also uninformed with what constitutes a well-edited film. If the story is cohesive and the images aren't detrimentally jarring hasn't the editing done its job? I know what most of the editing in these films looked like and none of them are standing out. Why not The Hurt Locker again?

The foreign category I wish I was familiar with. I saw The White Ribbon, and it was great. It's somewhere near the top of my top films of 2009 list. It won the Grand Prize at Cannes, and has made plenty of people very proud of their cinematic achievement with the film. I don't think the academy will give it the win. I think the award will go to...

Un Prophete. Call it a hunch. Only call it a hunch. It isn't anything more than a hunch. For some reason. They missed their chance to give the award to last years foreign crime film with Gomorra, so that could play a role. Something about the cold violence in The White Ribbon being more unsettling than the blatant prison violence is playing a role, too. I really want to see A Prophet. Itching to, really. A win could push it closer to my grasp.

Now for more mindless guessing: Best Makeup will go to The Young Victorian because period pieces seem to have a knack for snagging makeup wins; Best Original Score will be given to Michael Giacchino for Up when the deserving winner is Alexandre Desplat for Fantastic Mr. Fox; "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart will win Best Original Song, because T Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham wrote it; Logorama wins Best Short Animated film without batting an eye; Instead of Abracadabra would be a good choice for Best Short with Living Humans, but I only say that because it's the only one I've seen. Perhaps Miracle Fish will be the winner; The Hurt Locker will possibly narrowly avoid being beaten by Star Trek for Best Sound Editing, and will go on to take Best Sound Mixing as well; finally, Avatar will get a statue for visual effects because it's not fair, life.

I was thinking I could stop with the frivolous guessing when it got down to the writing nominees, but once again I'm baffled by the options. Since I haven't been very fair on Up in the Air through this post I'll claim it can take home the Best Adapted Screenplay win. People seem to enjoy Jason Reitman, and even if I'm in the minority with thinking it was a lousy movie it was indeed adapted from a novel. He managed to do that. That takes eyes.

Original screenplay would go to A Serious Man or Inglourious Basterds if I was the one deciding between nominees, but since I'm not I think Up is going to win. Pixar is always going on and on about how they put the story first, animation second. I thought Up's story was full of flaws, especially when it came to the villain, but I think they should be able to coast by and take a win home even if I think it undeserved.

How many of these am I going to guess correctly? If Avatar isn't Best Picture I think I can safely say I'm going to have chosen completely wrong for the rest of them. I'll cross my fingers.

- Eric T. Voigt

Sunday, January 24, 2010

2010 Will Be Great? Part One

I have only lived through one great year in film. That year was 2007, a year in which I had no trouble coming up with a truly top top 10 list: Gone Baby Gone, Knocked Up, There Will Be Blood, The Darjeeling Limited, No Country for Old Men, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Zodiac, Michael Clayton, Superbad, and last but not least 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. That was a mouthful. A mouth-watering mouthful. I think of every last one of those films as exquisite little babies. I'd watch them all this very moment without a moments question. Or a moments notice. Unfortunately for 2008 it didn't live up to the previous year's might, and while 2009 had maybe five top tops it was mostly bushels of good. 

Can 2010 vanquish 2007? Of course it can, but will it? I'm not so sure. There are a lot of movies I'm interested in seeing, but out of these fifty or so will any astound me like I was three years ago? I'll do a little rundown of what I think I'll want to see, with explanations and reservations.

1. Mystery Team. Derrick Comedy's first feature film. I've heard favorable talk and unfavorable talk around it, and have enough faith in them from what they've delivered in the internet shorts to trek on over to a theater and see what they can accomplish on a grander scale. Officially a 2009 film, but it won't be in Chicago until the 4th of February. 

2. I Love You Phillip Morris. Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor as a convict couple. The story sounds like it has plenty of room for hilarity and poignancy. Its two trailers made me laugh out loud. Both. I want to see Jim Carrey funny once more, and this feels like it'll deliver. 

3. Shutter Island. October was very nearly ruined when Scorsese's latest film was pushed a full four months back, all the way into a new decade. I took the high road and complained to no end. Finally, in three weeks? I'll be able to sink my teeth into this bad boy. It's getting positive reviews, but I hear it has weak story points. Of his 18 features I've watched I've been let down by none of them, and why should this disappoint? His priors are nearly too good to be true. I wish it could have hung out in my Top 2009 list, but it should do nicely filling a '10 slot.

4. The Ghost Writer. Roman Polanski is sadly all over the map with his filmmaking. For every Chinatown there's a Death and the Maiden. If he makes Rosemary's Baby he also has to make Oliver Twist. There isn't a rhyme or reason to when he'll make a dud or craft a masterpiece, it just sort of seems to happen. Luckily for him his track record hasn't shown him become as inert as a Francis Ford Coppola, and The Pianist, which was fairly recent, was fantastic. This could be one of his greatest, but could also be a failure. I bet it'll be... one of those. I'm tentatively excited. Solid trailer bolsters this. 

5. Cop Out. Kevin Smith has never been one of my favorite directors, I didn't bother seeing his Zach and Miri movie after lousy trailers and poor word of mouth and I haven't felt he's lived up to the potential he put on display with Clerks in any of his later works. The probability I'll see this in theaters kind of counts on a better trailer coming out, because it just doesn't look good. It's on this list because I'm not ready to write Smith off entirely, but I'm damn close. 

6. Greenberg. I'm even less excited for this movie than Cop Out. Normally I like Noah Baumbach. I think The Squid and the Whale is his best, and hold Kicking and Screaming dear to my liver. The trailer for Greenberg doesn't share any of the wit and none of the humanity of his previous few films. I expect more from him than it looks like he's giving. Sure it's just the trailer, but if there was not one interesting moment in a series of supposedly enticing trailer-ready moments what hope does the full film have at entertaining me? I would see it if it somehow presented itself with a 180 degree turn, but it's doubtful. 

7. The Runaways. (see post below)

8. Kick-Ass. I almost wrote it off after the first miserable excuse for a trailer. But a few character-centric clips and another trailer later and I'm feeling quite optimistic about Kick-Ass. It feels like there's a strong cast, a mildly funny script to work off of, and the red band trailer shows quite a bit of balls-out action that I wouldn't mind wrapping my eyes around. The production design is a bit cartoony, and a few jokes do fall flat, but the good will hopefully outweigh the lamer aspects, and I plan on giving it a chance. 

9. MacGruber. SNL needs help. There hasn't been a worthwhile character based movie from SNL since Wayne's World. Now, I like the current SNL cast, and thing writing is one of their strong suits, but the first trailer did not do very well to sell the thing, and the second trailer relieved this worries by a miniscule fraction. I might not bother with it, but positive talk could turn that around. 

10. Get Him to the Greek. Nicholas Stoller directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall, my favorite comedy of 2008, and has now directed Greek, the spin-off to Marshall. Comedy sequels often find themselves to be failures, but I have a feeling this can avoid similar doom. It could even be my favorite comedy of 2010. That's probably ridiculous. I don't really believe it. But maybe...

11. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Technically I don't expect this to even be half good. The idea of David Slade's take on the Twilight series is too wild to pass up, though. I expect a healthy mix of Hard Candy and 30 Days of Night, with no similarities to the first two. It may even be the series' Prisoner of Azkaban. If only. 

12. Knight and Day. Tom Cruise looks adorable. What else can I say?

13. Inception. Christopher Nolan hasn't made guessing what Inception could be about easy after decidedly keeping most of the plot points hidden. What he has made easy is getting me pumped for it. What a great cast. What a pretty good director. What fantastic looking effects. If this turns out to be a documentary on the creation of socks I would still gladly watch. I'm not saying it will be that, and I don't mean to say that couldn't be interesting, but I'm all out of logical comparisons.

14. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Edgar Wright made Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. That's a wonderful series and two basically flawless genre-smashing comedies. I've read comments from early screeners saying it was unlike anything ever seen before, and that it's also very funny. I don't doubt either statement, and can't wait to see it in theaters. 

 - Eric T. Voigt