Tuesday, January 22, 2008
R.I.P. Heath Ledger
After the death of Brad Renfro, yet another young actor died before his time. Heath Ledger whose career at this point was JUST beginning to flourish has tragically died at the age of 28. He had an Oscar nomination (for Brokeback Mountain) under his belt and a huge blockbuster movie (The Dark Knight) coming up this summer. He is just reaching his peak when he was tragically taken away. He is, in fact, one of the best actors of his generation. His death was completely shocking since unlike Brad Renfro, I had no idea he had drug or alcohol problems of any kind. Like Brad, he is a true talent and he will be missed.
On the brighter side, the Oscar nominations have been announced. I haven't seen ANY of the Best Picture nominees, believe it or not. They haven't been released in my country yet. Odd, I think this is the first year this ever happened. I usually have seen at least one or two by now. Anyway, I'm just glad Johnny Depp managed to get in for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It's one of my favorite movies of the year and it didn't do well wth the precursor awards so I was worried it would get shutout of the major categories. I'm glad it did well. Kudos too for Amy Ryan who was simply incredible as the white trash mom in Gone Baby Gone. I wish that film would've gotten more nominations. I am, however, disappointed Amy Adams did not get in for her fantastic star-making work in Enchanted.
Monday, January 14, 2008
The Diving Bell and The Butterfly (Miramax/Canal+) Kathleen Kennedy and Jon Kilik, producers.
Into the Wild (Paramount Vantage) Art Linson, Sean Penn and William Pohlad, producers.
Michael Clayton (Castle Rock Entertainment) Jennifer Fox, Sydney Pollack, Kerry Orent and Steve Samuels, producers.
No Country for Old Men (Paramount Vantage) Joel Coen, Ethan Coen and Scott Rudin, producers.
There Will Be Blood (Miramax/Paramount) Paul Thomas Anderson, JoAnne Sellar and Daniel Lupi, producers.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly
Sean Penn, Into the Wild
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Nikki Blonsky, Hairspray
Julie Christie, Away from Her
Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose
Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart
Ellen Page, Juno
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Tommy Lee Jones, No Country for Old Men
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Kelly MacDonald, No Country for Old Men
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
BEST SCREENPLAY WRITTEN DIRECTLY FOR THE SCREEN
American Gangster by Steven Zaillian
Juno by Diablo Cody
Lars and the Real Girl by Nancy Oliver
Michael Clayton by Tony Gilroy
Ratatouille by Brad Bird, Jim Capobianco and Jan Pinkava
BEST SCREENPLAY BASED ON MATERIAL PREVIOUSLY PRODUCED OR PUBLISHED
Atonement by Christopher Hampton
Based on the novel by Ian McEwan
The Diving Bell and The Butterfly by Ronald Harwood
Based on the book by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Into the Wild by Sean Penn
Based on the book by Jon Krakauer
No Country for Old Men by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy
There Will Be Blood by Paul Thomas Anderson
Based on the novel Oil by Upton Sinclair
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Persepolis (Sony Pictures Classics) Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud.
Ratatouille (Disney/PIXAR) Brad Bird
The Simpsons Movie (20th Century Fox) Matt Groening and David Silverman.
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
The Counterfeiters (Austria) Stefan Ruzowitzky, director.
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania) Cristian Mingiu, director.
I Served the King of England (Czech Republic) Jiri Menzel, director.
The Orphanage (Spain) Juan Antonio Bayona, director.
Persepolis (France) Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud, directors.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Roger Deakins, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Janusz Kaminski, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly
Rodrigo Prieto, Lust, Caution
Roger Deakins, No Country for Old Men
Robert Elswitt, There Will Be Blood
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION
Sarah Greenwood (art direction) & Katie Spencer (set decoration), Atonement
Guy Dyas (art direction) & Richard Roberts (set decoration), Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Dennis Gassner (art direction) & Anna Pinnock (set decoration), The Golden Compass
Stuart Craig (art direction) & Stephenie McMillan (set decoration), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Dante Ferreti (art direction) & Francesca LoSchiavo (set decoration), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING
Pietro Scalia, American Gangster
Christopher Rouse, The Bourne Ultimatum
John Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Roderick Jaynes, No Country for Old Men
Dylan Tichenor, There Will Be Blood
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
Jacqueline Durran, Atonement
Alexandra Byrne, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Rita Ryack, Hairspray
Marit Allen, Love in the Time of Cholera
Colleen Atwood, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer and Greg Steele, American Gangster
Randy Thom, Tom Johnson and William B. Kaplan, Beowulf
Gary Summers, Scott Millan, Bob Beemer and David Parker, The Bourne Ultimatum
Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe, 3:10 to Yuma
Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin, Transformers
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
Randy Thom and Dennis Leonard, Beowulf
Perr Hallberg and Karen M. Baker, The Bourne Ultimatum
Randy Thom and Michael Silvers, Ratatouille
Paul N.J. Ottoson, Spider-Man 3
Ethan Van Der Ryn and Mike Hopkins, Transformers
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC - ORIGINAL SCORE
Dario Marianelli, Atonement
Alan Silvestri, Beowulf
Alberto Iglesias, The Kite Runner
Alexandre Desplat, Lust, Caution
Michael Giacchino, Ratatouille
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC - ORIGINAL SONG
"Come So Far (Got So Far To Go)" from Hairspray
Marc Shaiman (music) & Scott Whitman (lyrics)
"Do You Feel Me?" from American Gangster
Diane Warren (music & lyrics)
"Falling Slowly" from Once
Glenn Hansard and Marketa Irglova (music & lyrics)
"Guaranteed" from Into the Wild
Eddie Vedder (music & lyrics)
"That's How You Know" from Enchanted
Alan Menken (music) & Stephen Schwartz (lyrics)
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS
Bryan Grill, Frank Petzold, Robert Stromberg and Trevor Wood, The Golden Compass
John Knoll, Charles Gibson, Hal Hickel and Allen Hall, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Richard Kidd, Scott Farrar, David Prescott and John Frazier, Transformers
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP
Benoit Lestang and Myriam Hottois, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly
Ivana Primorac and Duncan Jarman, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Shaun Smith, 300
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Autism: The Musical (In Effect Films) Tricia Regan
Lake of Fire (Anonymous Content) Tony Kaye
No End in Sight (Red Envelope Entertainment) Charles Ferguson
Sicko (Dog Eat Dog Films) Michael Moore and Meghan O'Hara
War/Dance (Rogue Harbor Studios) Sean Fine and Andrea Nix.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
I love Disney animation. I think many of their animated feature films are superb but I think when it comes to shorts, I think Warner Bros. have them beat. Sure, the Goofy instructional shorts are terrific but the comedic geniuses of Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett, Robert McKimson, Tex Avery, Frank Tashlin, etc. all have them beat. That plus the impeccable voice acting of Mel Blanc and the groundbreaking musical work of Carl Stalling, really makes the Looney Tunes one of the zenith of animated cinema.
Thanks to the wonderful invention that is youtube, here are a few of the shorts I consider to be masterpieces and my thoughts about them:
Duck Amuck (1953)
Three Little Bops (1957)
This one's from Friz Freleng. It is the familiar story of Three Little Pigs but retold as a jazz musical. And it's fantastic. The animation, the music, the re-imagined story where the Big Bad Wolf just wants to be in the band. I remember loving this as a kid and loving it even more when I revisited it recently. This cartoon is guaranteed to put a smile in your face.
Monday, January 7, 2008
"It's for kids!"
"It's just for entertainment."
"You have to turn your brain off to fully enjoy it."
"You're just a snob."
Everytime I criticize a popular movie (oftentimes directed by someone whose name rhymes Gichael May), I often hear these directed at me again and again. I'm getting tired of it, quite frankly. I've done this in other message boards but I'll expound on it here.
I have nothing against mainstream, escapist Hollywood fare and other blockbuster movies designed solely for the purpose of entertaining it's audience. But wishing to entertain should not be an excuse to lower one's standards, be it as a filmmaker or as an audience member. The reason I refuse to accept "it's just for entertainment" as an defense against a crappy is that a lot of great films have been made that were crafted solely for the purpose of entertaining an audience. Escapist, Hollywood money-makers have been made without sacrificing a good story and good filmmaking. It can be done. It should be done. Praising a subpar effort just because it "entertained" you is to lower one's standards. It gives an excuse and a justification for hack filmmakers to undermine an audience to make a buck. For me, a standard for a good film is good filmmaking and a good, interesting story. I don't look for an Oscar winner or a masterpiece in every movie that I see. I always judge a movie by it's own parameters and standards.
More on this in future entries.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
I admit. I was hesistant to see this film at first. It's a 3-hour epic Hollywood love story that spans generations and I've already seen Gone With the Wind. But as it turns out, this film is no Gone With The Wind. It's something superior. Everything that a great Hollywood epic is here: A compelling story, well-drawn characters, great direction, cinematography, etc. The three leads, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean, are all outstanding (and totally makes up for the less-than-satisfactory age makeup they had on in the latter part of the film) and the great supporting cast compliments them well. (10/20)
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Directed by Ritwik Ghatak
Directed by Dziga Vertov
Directed by Robert Bresson
Directed by Brad Bird
The beauty of cinema is that great films come in all shapes and sizes. Therefore we go from the moving yet rather grim cinema of Bresson to a more colorful (and a hell of a lot funnier) vision of Paris from director Brad Bird which further cements PIXAR's reputation as the best source for feature length CGI animated features. The film about a rat who wishes to become a chef is such a joy to watch from start to finish, I couldn't wait to repeat the experience again and again and again. Truly, it's one of the best films of the year. (7/25)