Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Initial Reaction to the Oscar Nominees

Best Picture this year introduced its new "rubber band" nominees. All of the nominees were a given but the inclusion of EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE just stunk the category up. The Academy seemingly ate up the 9/11 exploitation. After this is all over, that film with be put right next to Stephen Daldry's other horrible film THE READER as one of the worst nominated films.

Best Actor. Wow, just wow. I have no ill will towards Demian Bichir for his purely black horse entry and especially not for Gary Oldman. I get, though not happy, with the no love for Andy Serkis and Ryan Gosling. But the exclusion of Michael Fassbender is just down right wrong. He had a breakout year and now the Academy is going to have to give him a pity Oscar in the years to come.

I predicted it last year and I could have gotten a big payday for it. Rooney Mara gets a well deserved nomination in Best Actress. The rest were the usual expected, though I rather have Williams or Viola Davis win instead of giving it to the two desperate older actresses. I love Streep and Close but their passion projects don't really deserve any special recognition and they can do better.

Best Supporting Male I really have no qualms. I do like Jonah Hill getting a nom though. Nothing for Albert Brooks.

Best Supporting Female finally gives the just desserts to Melissa McCarthy for BRIDESMAIDS. She and Spencer will be the heavy favorites but I expect a Marcia Gay Harden upset, especially with Bejo there.

Best Director is fitted with the old guard. It is either going to Hazanavicius or Malick.

I don't like THE DESCENDANTS being in the script races at all but I do like that Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo are included. Also, props to J.C. Chandor for MARGIN CALL and including A SEPARATION.

Best Animated Film. Again, wow. This category is tougher than ever, with the surprises of A CAT IN PARIS and CHICO & RITA. They have two lame Dreamworks films in but no TINTIN? Really?

Best Foreign Language Film hopefully will be given to A SEPARATION but the Oscars always have lost touch with quality in this often-mishandled category.

Except for some technical awards, HUGO has absolutely no chance. A probable total shut out. Should be given a special award for its film preservation PSA though.


How many did DRIVE, my favorite and best film of last year get? Only one in Sound Editing.

For those who loathed TRANSFORMERS 3: It has three.

Best Original Song sadly only has two nominees. If RIO wins over THE MUPPETS, so help me.

BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK is apparently too happy of a film to be included in Best Documentary, which is just filled with depressing material and pure melancholy.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Best of the Rest of 2011

BEST DIRECTOR: Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive

Honorable Mentions: Steven Spielberg (War Horse, The Adventures of Tintin), Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Terence Malick (The Tree of Life), David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Duncan Jones (Source Code), Takashi Miike (13 Assassins)

BEST SCREENPLAY: Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, & Jonathan Goldstein, Horrible Bosses

Honorable Mentions: Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene), John Logan (Rango), Joe Cornish (Attack the Block), Ben Ripley (Source Code), Park Hoon-jung (I Saw the Devil)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life

Honorable Mentions: Jody Lee Lipes (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Janusz Kaminski (War Horse), Newton Thomas Sigel (Drive), Lee Mo-gae (I Saw the Devil), Jose Maria Civit (Road to Nowhere)

BEST EDITING: Zachary Stuart-Pointer, Martha Marcy May Marlene

Honorable Mentions: Chris King & Gregers Sall (Senna), Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber, & Mark Yoshikawa (The Tree of Life), Anne-Sophie Bion & Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Matthew Newman (Drive)

BEST SCORE: Cliff Martinez, Drive

Honorable Mentions: The Chemical Brothers (Hanna), David Wingo (Take Shelter), Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), John Williams (War Horse), Hans Zimmer (Rango)

BEST SONG: "A Real Hero", Drive

Honorable Mentions: "Life's A Happy Song" (The Muppets), "Nightcall" (Drive), "Man or Muppet" (The Muppets), "Fake I.D." (Footloose), "Star Spangled Man (Captain America: The First Avenger), "It Will Rain" (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I), "Shelter" (Take Shelter)


Honorable Mentions: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Adventures of Tintin, Drive

BEST POSTER ART: The Girl with Dragon Tattoo

Honorable Mentions: Shame, Super 8, Bridesmaids, Young Adult, Super, The Tree of Life, The Mechanic, Hobo with a Shotgun

BEST TRAILER: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Honorable Mentions: The Muppets "Green With Envy" Teaser, The Tree of Life, Battle: Los Angeles


Honorable Mentions: The Adventures of Tintin, Arthur Christmas


Honorable Mentions: Bill Cunningham New York, The Arbor, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest



Films that I feel will grow on me beyond my initial expectations and opinions and become the great films that they sought to be.

The Arbor
Attack the Block
Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest
Hobo with a Shotgun
Road to Nowhere
Take Shelter
Troll Hunter
Win Win


Actors and Actresses that gave great performances in terrible films and/or in roles with little material and screentime.

Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Alison Brie (Scream 4)
Abbie Cornish (Sucker Punch)
Edi Gathegi (X-Men: First Class)
Paul Giamatti (The Hangover: Part II)
James Hong (Kung Fu Panda 2)
Richard Jenkins (Waiting for Forever)
Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Chris Pratt (Moneyball)
Sam Rockwell (Cowboys and Aliens)
Peter Sarsgaard (Green Lantern)
Mark Strong (Green Lantern)
Karl Urban (Priest)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Best Performances of 2011

Best Actor: Ryan Gosling, Drive

Honorable Mentions:

Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life

Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Michael Shannon, Take Shelter

Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Tom Hardy, Warrior

Michael Fassbender, X-Men: First Class

Paul Giamatti, Win Win

Charlie Day, Horrible Bosses

Chris Hemsworth, Thor

Best Actress: Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids

Honorable Mentions:

Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life, Take Shelter

Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene

Berenice Bejo, The Artist

Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Charlize Theron, Young Adult

Elle Fanning, Super 8

Amy Ryan, Win Win

Best Supporting Actor: William Fichtner, Drive Angry

Honorable Mentions:

John Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene

Ben Kingsley, Hugo

Patton Oswalt, Young Adult

Choi Min-sik, I Saw the Devil

Stellan Skarsgard, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Albert Brooks, Drive

John C. Reilly, Terri

Kevin Bacon, Super, X-Men: First Class

Jon Hamm, Bridesmaids

Colin Farrell, Fright Night

Christoph Waltz, The Green Hornet

Bryan Cranston, Drive

Tom Hiddleston, Thor

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Honorable Mentions:

Ellen Page, Super

Isla Fisher, Rango

Cate Blanchett, Hanna

Vera Farmiga, Source Code

Maya Rudolph, Bridesmaids

Christina Hendricks, Drive

Melanie Lynskey, Win Win

Emily Watson, War Horse

Next Up: Best of the Rest of 2011

Worst Performances of 2011

Worst Actor: Adam Sandler, Jack and Jill

Dishonorable Mentions:

Grant Bowler, Atlas Shrugged: Part I

Mickey Rourke, Passion Play

Larry the Cable Guy, Cars 2

Alex Pettyfer, Beastly

Paul Bettany, Priest

Tom Sturridge, Waiting for Forever

Worst Actress: Taylor Schilling, Atlas Shrugged: Part I

Dishonorable Mentions:

Leslie Bibb, Zookeeper

Rachel Bilson, Waiting for Forever

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Megan Fox, Passion Play

Emily Browning, Sucker Punch

Amanda Seyfried, Red Riding Hood

Worst Supporting Actor: Dan Fogler, Mars Needs Moms

Dishonorable Mentions:

Cam Gigandet, Priest

Ken Jeong, Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Bill Murray, Passion Play

Adam Sandler, Zookeeper

Max Irons, Red Riding Hood

Rohan Chand, Jack and Jill

Noah Ringer, Cowboys and Aliens

Worst Supporting Actress: January Jones, X-Men: First Class

Dishonorable Mentions:

Jessica Alba, Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World

Maya Rudolph, Zookeeper

Lisa Gay Hamilton, Beastly

Jodi Foster, The Beaver

Next Up: Best Performances of 2011

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Best Films of 2011

Maybe it was the total allure and true freshness with 2010's outputs, but something I can not grasp made me feel that 2011 wasn't a very good for film in general. Now that the holidays and Oscar month have concluded and we ring in a new year, some of those harsh vibes and cynicism has subsided for myself.

It was a year where the barren landscape of Hollywood entertainment let new voices to be shouted out loud. Film festivals snatched back up their infamy and newsworthy stories and movies. Thanks to stars like Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling, normal people began to notice auteurs that have been around for some time. It was the year of the breakouts, with actors and actresses such as Michael Fassbender, Jessica Chastain, Jean Dujardin, Rooney Mara, Chris Hemsworth, and Elizabeth Olsen making waves over the establishment and their Oscar bait material. Character actors and comedic performers took chances and explored the pains of reality.

The following is the films that I have deemed the best of 2011. Though I put them in a list format, I was equally entertained and moved by these films.

To repeat: This list is of my own opinion, not the general public nor the Internet consensus. If I didn't view the film or watch it in its entirety, than it is ineligible. A few examples of films I wanted to see but couldn't before the mandated deadline were Melancholia, Shame and A Separation.


1. Drive

One of the things that make me enjoy the lights and shadows in a movie theater is the ability to hush up all thoughts once I leave. This film achieved it with ease, balancing high-octane driving and hyper violence with the artfully stylized melodrama of lost souls in Los Angeles. From the fantastic soundtrack to the unflinching nature of Ryan Gosling's character, this was phenomenal and rich in pleasure.

2. Bridesmaids

The movie that I identified with the most, despite being an man. This film captured the zeitgeist of the year, as it showed the battles of the rich vs. the poor, the dreams vs. the individual, all leading up to a wedding. One of the darkest films to be given a bright glow and a potential game-changer to women in modern Hollywood films.

3. Rango

Animation was a bit mixed this year, but there were some that strove on originality and wit to make a name for themselves. This movie fiercely broke away from the pack, thanks to its extensive use of fourth wall breaking meta-humor and its ability to create and flesh out a large number of characters. A very unpretentious film with a lot of great details to everything.

4. The Tree of Life

The most talked about film of the year somehow, despite my misgivings with Terence Malick, became one of the few to completely blow me away in theaters. It was always very breathtaking, even with repeated viewings. It could have lost the dinosaurs though.

5. War Horse

It may seem old-fashioned, it may have those odd Spielbergian moments. However, this film was a nice little cry and a joy, thanks to the titled horse, beautiful score by John Williams, and exquisite camerawork that captures the horrors of World War I.

6. Martha Marcy May Marlene

Never has it been so shocking and exceptional to experience the fragile journey through a damaged mind. With a breakout performance by Elizabeth Olsen plus another great job from John Hawkes, the film definitely had the best finale all year, with an ending surely to linger in everybody.

7. Source Code

Duncan Jones is becoming one of my favorite upstart directors, as he once again makes it to my top ten with another great film. Even with the multiple time and body jumps for the main hero, the movie is always thrilling to watch, shifting from comedy to action to drama. It was one of the best films to explore its own world and make us care for all of its inhabitants.

8. I Saw the Devil

Korean horror has been the white elephant for a lot of critics, but not for myself. Kim Ji-woon made an excellent violent crime thriller that even with chilling brutal moments and diabolical nihilism, makes the expert case that revenge is not worth it for a sane human individual. It is pretty though, thanks to the cinematography of Lee Mo-gae.

9. The Artist

The total artificiality of this movie might turn off some but its great magical qualities warmed my heart. With great performances all around, from star Jean Dujardin to a small dog, and expert direction from Michel Hazanavicius, it was a real old Hollywood treat.

10. Senna

The biggest dark horse of the year. This powerful documentary examines how the thrill of motor-racing and pure faith clashed with international and business politics, and how Ayrton Senna became a legend. Crafted using only found footage with faceless voices, it is a haunting yet exciting little movie.


11. Super

12. Super 8

13. Horrible Bosses

14. The Green Hornet

15. Bill Cunningham New York

16. 13 Assassins

17. Margin Call

18. X-Men: First Class

19. Thor

20. The Muppets

Next Up: The Worst Performances of 2011

Monday, January 9, 2012

Worst Films of 2011

2011 was a year for ambitious and daring works. I didn't have as much fun as 2010, but the rampant uses of originality and/or hyper-stylized direction made for some interesting fare, certainly to help many films on the home video market. Whether on DVD, Blu-ray, or streaming, these movies will grow like fine wine.

However, like the dwindling box office revenue and massive absence of movie-going crowds, the year spewed several abominations and misfires. There were plenty of fiascos throughout the year, most notably during the summer. Once again, Hollywood prefered the dollar over a crisp dollar, producing plenty of sequels where nothing was changed or advanced and where hackneyed ideas were re-purposed for the benefit of nobody. While there were some shockingly awful outputs from the independent circuit, it was largely all about the studios and their pathetic attempts at entertainment.

These are the films I have deemed the worst of 2011.

Now comes the usual disclaimer that sadly everyone forgets to remember: This list is of my own opinion, not the general public nor the Internet consensus. If I didn't see the film at all or in its entirety, than it isn't counted. Thus, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star is unable to be counted. Sadly, I did saw the next twenty films.


1. Jack and Jill

I expected this film to show up on this list somewhere. However, I could not believe how low this movie achieved and actually went. It is purely rotten beyond its core, with so much offensive "comedy", absolutely horrendous direction by Dennis Dugan, and its insulting use of product placement. Shame on you Adam Sandler, shame on you.

2. The Undefeated

This film almost could have been disqualified and given a zero out of five from myself, since it is basically a two hour television political ad instead of an actual film. Even if you are a Tea Party supporter or a fan of Sarah Palin, this is truly a hard sit, especially with director Stephen Bannon's ADD editing and sharp cuts, its universal use of flat stock footage, and the fact we don't learn anything about Palin beyond her politics.

3. Zookeeper

If the dream girl is shown at the beginning to be a horrible creature, why should anyone want to see this romantic comedy commercially spun to be a family film? The animal voices are all terrible, the humor is migraine-inducing and the only chemistry Kevin James has with anyone is not the talented and beautiful Rosario Dawson, but instead a man in a gorilla suit.

4. Mars Needs Moms

One of the biggest fiascos of the year and something to be inscribed in future textbooks. Its nonsensical script somehow brings insulting gender politics, a "Banksy"-like subplot, tons of boy humor, and bleak drama involving humans being sacrificed. Certainly the worst animated film all year and, sadly for the Tintin films, the final nail for motion-capture animation.

5. Waiting for Forever

The new favorite film for stalkers everywhere. Far more damaging than any of the Twilight films, this movie wastes a great performance by Richard Jenkins to make the case that women should fall for the psychotic pajama-wearing men who have followed them everywhere they lived.

6. Red State

Kevin Smith's disasterpiece. No likable characters, slumming character actors, constant tone shifts, with plenty of exposition dumps to go around. This also has one of the most notorious endings of the year, where you think it's about to go gonzo, only to cut to people explaining what happened instead of showing us.

7. Atlas Shrugged: Part I

Another television-like movie. This glorious failed adaptation of Ayn Rand's most popular novel brought robotic performances, turgid and misguided dialogue, and terrible use of mise en scene. If this was a Sunday night miniseries on NBC, it would still suck but at least it would have been free to see how bad it is.

8. Passion Play

Mitch Glazer's dream project should have been lost somewhere in his subconscious. This movie doesn't work at all, whether it is trying to make me believe that Mickey Rourke can play a trumpet or make Bill Murray look threatening. From the continuity issues of Megan Fox's wings to the laughably bad/stone cold awful ending, the greatest sin this film brought is that it made Christopher Doyle's legendary cinematography look amateurish at best.

9. Battle: Los Angeles

Jingoism I can take, only if it is done properly. Unfortunately, this movie does it offensively bad, along with its never-not-shaking shaking camerawork and brain-dead script. Just play the equally bad video game adaptation to experience what the film was like.

10. The Darkest Hour

I wanted stupid genre fare, only to receive no fare but plenty of helpings of stupid. The 3D was abysmal, especially since there are many nighttime scenes, but the rampant douchebaggery, whiny characters, and non-suspense gave this film no hope to enjoy.


11. Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World

12. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

13. Priest

14. Beastly

15. Gnomeo and Juliet

16. Scream 4

17. Season of the Witch

18. The Beaver

19. Rubber

20. The Descendants

Next Up: The Best Films of 2011