Hilarity Ensues

Why…So…Serious?

Working Girl (1988)

Posted by Will on December 17, 2011

Click for Trailer

 Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) is a frustrated secretary, struggling to forge ahead in the world of big business in New York.  She gets her chance when her boss breaks her leg on a skiing holiday. McGill takes advantage of her absence to push ahead with her career. Hilarity ensues when she teams up with investment broker Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford) to work on a big deal. The situation is complicated after the return of her boss.

Trivia: The stuffed rabbit that Tess sets on her desk when she arrives at her new job was made by teddy bear artist Gae Sharp. It was purchased at the Mables in New York. Director Mike Nichols later returned to the store an ordered five more rabbits to give to significant cast members.   Kevin Spacey was brought in as a last-minute replacement for another actor in the part of Bob Speck. On the day the scene was shot, Mike Nichols, who had previously directed Spacey in Heartburn, sent a car to Spacey’s New York apartment, with a copy of the script in the back seat. Spacey learned his lines while on the way to the shoot. Nichols was under pressure to finish the scene so he wouldn’t have to postpone his wedding to Diane Sawyer two days later.

The Characters: Tess is a secretary who is studying to become a broker but she is looked at as just a pretty face and not a serious player at first.  She is exploited and used until she finally decides to play the game, so to speak.  Katherine is your stereotypical ruthless get ahead at any cost not matter who you have to step on business woman in a man’s world.  Jack is the charming ethical broker that works hard but follows his heart.

The Actors:  A trio of Oscar nominated women:  Best Actress Nominee Melanie Griffith as Tess our leading lady, Best Supporting Actress Nominees Sigourney Weaver as Katherine, Tess’ ruthless boss and Joan Cusack as Tess’ best friend.  Cusack stole every scene she was in with her big hair and New York accent.  Her quote when she asked Jack if he wanted, “Coffee, Tea, Me?” was the most memorable line in the movie.  Harrison Ford is the leading man and Alec Baldwin plays Tess’ schuck of a boyfriend.  You will also see Oliver Platt, Kevin Spacey, Olympia Dukakis and Nora Dunn.

The Experience: I promised a friend I would watch this and promptly kind of forgot about it for a while.  Recently it came up and she mentioned I said I would watch it, then mentioned her husband wouldn’t watch it either.    It’s not that I wouldn’t watch it, but that I forgot so here I am.  I have qualify that when I say I hadn’t watched it before I mean that I haven’t watch it from start to finish, I have seen bits and pieces before and basically knew the story line.  Based on this I really noticed something interesting.  I knew about Katherine so I looked at her different then I would if I had never seen anything before.  One scene in particular jumps out at me. [This film came out 24 years ago so I am not really worrying about spoilers at this point.]  Tess first tells Katherine about her idea of having Trask buy a radio station instead of a TV Station and Katherine begins asking Tess if she had heard it somewhere and was just repeating it or if she came up with the idea herself, and then asked if she had told anyone else about the idea.  At this point I knew Katherine was planning on stealing the idea and calling it her own, but I realized that without that knowledge, it would have seemed like Katherine was questioning Tess’ intelligence, as in “Come on, a secretary isn’t smart enough to come up with this on her own.”   I know that I was deprived a little because I didn’t get to come to that conclusion later on in the movie, since I already knew it, but it is cool that a scene can be interpreted both ways.

This movie is very much stuck in the 80’s but I am not saying that is a bad thing.  It is a great microcosm of that decade with the fashions and hairdos and business practices.  I’m not sure this would have been the same movie if it was made today.  I don’t think Tess could have been as innocent and naive as she could be in the 80’s, or that she could have kept her sweet demeanor all the way to the end of the movie.  In the final scene Tess is as innocent as she was in the first scene.  It is a feel good, root for the underdog, 80’s movie.

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Posted in 80s, Comedy, Drama, Romance | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Rio (2011)

Posted by Will on June 19, 2011

Rio

Click to view trailer

Okay, let me get this straight, a blue Spix’s Macaw parrot named, for some odd reason, Blu (Jesse Eisenburg) gets birdnapped as a young hatchling and smuggled from the jungles of Brazil to…Moose Lake, Minnesota? Is that anywhere near Frostbite Falls? Blu happens to fall off the truck and is found by Linda (Leslie Mann) who raises him like a son. One day a Brazilian ornithologist named Túlio tells her that Blu is the last male of his species and it just so happens that Túlio has the last female of his species. It seems Túlio has decided to be matchmaker and set up these two love birds together (get it, they’re birds), but to do that Linda would have to bring Blu back to Rio. Hilarity ensues when Blu finally gets to met Jewel (Anne Hathaway) who is more concerned about escaping then about Blu.  And that’s all before we meet the bad guys.

Trivia: Both Blu and Jewel are Spix’s macaws.  Pedro is a red-crested cardinal.  The user name on Linda’s computer is “Bluebird”.  The first film from Blue Sky Studios since Ice Age to have human characters.  Story art reveals that Nigel had a metal or robotic talon in early versions of the story.

The Characters:  Blu and Jewel are the main birds, but they get plenty of help from the secondary characters: Nico and Pedro, two birds from the streets of Rio, Rafael, a toucan,  and Luiz, a bulldog.  On the other side you have Nigel, a disgruntled cockatoo with a taste for revenge, and a pack of marmoset monkeys that Nigel uses as a secret army.

The Actors:  As is normal these days the voice cast is full of actors being themselves instead of traditional voice actors: Jesse Eisenburg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, George Lopez, Tracey Morgan, Will.i.Am, and Jamie Foxx.  It’s cool to have recognized voices but then again, the truely talented voice actors out there are relegated to tv cartoons and commercials and stuff.

The Experience: I took my nephew to see this movie.  It is a nice fun little movie for kids.  It is bright and colorful with tropical birds and animals plus there is a scene during a Carnival Parade which was even more colorful then the birds.  There is also a great scene around the famous  Christo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue.  It is pretty predictable but fun.  I did like the story between the humans as much as the story between the Macaws.

Posted in 10s, Action, Adventure, Animation | Leave a Comment »

The Alphabet Project: B is for…

Posted by Will on June 10, 2011

Battle Royale

Click to see Trailer

Batoru Rowaiaru (Battle Royale) 2000

Forty-two delinquent students, three days, one deserted Island: Welcome to Battle Royale. A group of delinquent students from a Japanese high school have been forced by legislation to compete in a new forum of reality television.  Hilarity ensues when the students are each given a bag with a randomly selected weapon and a few rations of food and water and sent off to kill each other in a no-holds-barred (with a few minor rules) game to the death, which means that the students have three days to kill each other until one survives–or they all die.

Trivia: Many members of the Japanese Parliament tried to get the novel banned, but to no avail. When the film was released, they attempted to ban it also. Both efforts resulted in the novel and film becoming even more successful as people bought the book and went to the movie to see what the fuss was all about.  The magazine containing bomb-making instructions that is used by Shinji Mimura and his gang is titled “Hara Hara Tokei” (“The Ticking Clock”). This magazine is a real bomb-making magazine published by an anti-Japanese-Government activist group called Higashi Ajia Hannichi Buso Sensen (East Asia Anti-Japanese Armed Front) from the 1970s.  Kiriyama, the film’s main villain, does not utter one word throughout the entire film. He does, however, make a noise through a megaphone at one point.

 The Characters: A bunch of ninth graders who had rioted and generally cause hurt feelings in their school, including stabbing a teacher, a teacher, who happens to be the one who got stabbed, army guards to make sure the students stay on the island, and two mysterious additions to the group of students, former contestants back for another game.

The Actors: I am not familiar enough with Japanese film stars to really comment on this one.  This helps the story along a bit though because I was not sitting there thinking, “Oh, that’s Ellen Page, she’s a star, they won’t kill her, they will kill the unknown extra next to her.”

The Experience: I have seen human target movies before like The Running Man, but this had a different feel.  I don’t think this movie could have been made in America and here is why.  We (as a whole) like the kills, we like explosions, or at least the movie makers think we do.  So they would have 1) made sure every death was on screen (most of the deaths are just mentioned and not shown).  Every death would also have to be spectacular or different.  2) the game has forbidden zones, the longer the game lasts the more zones there are, this is used to drive the players together (if you get caught in a forbidden zone you will be killed).  In an American version, those zones would play a lot larger role. 3) the American filmmakers would hesitate to make the teacher the bad guy who sends these kids to their deaths.  4) and, speaking of the kids, they might have hesitated to pit the kids against each other.   Basically what I am saying is that an American Version would have been totally different.  It is a nice concept.

Posted in 00s, Action, Drama, Thriller | Leave a Comment »

The Alphabet Project 2011: A is for…

Posted by Will on March 14, 2011

Click to see Trailer

Antichrist (2009)

A couple lose their young son when he falls out the window while they have sex in the other room. The mother’s grief consigns her to hospital, but her therapist husband brings her home intent on treating her depression himself. To confront her fears they go to stay at their remote cabin in the woods, “Eden”, where something untold happened the previous summer. Told in four chapters with a prologue and epilogue, the film details acts of lustful cruelty as the man and woman unfold the darker side of nature outside and within. Hilarity ensues when the fox decides he has something to say.

Trivia: The title was the first thing that was written for the film. This movie received a special anti-award from the ecumenical jury at Cannes. The jury, which typically awards a film that promotes spiritual and humanist values, decided to award this film an anti-award for its misogynistic views. However, Lars von Trier did not confirm in a later interview that he was a misogynist, saying he loved women and understood Her better than Him.  According to Lars von Trier, he tried his best to make a horror film but did not succeed and the same happened to him before when he tried to make a musical and the result was Dancer in the Dark. A video game based on the movie has been announced by the movie’s production company Zentropa. The game “Eden” would supposedly be a continuation of the story.  Antichrist was originally scheduled for production in 2005, but its executive producer Peter Aalbæk Jensen accidentally revealed the film’s planned revelation.  Trier was furious and decided to delay the shoot so he could rewrite the script.

The Characters: There are only three of them.  Nick, the child, dies in the first scene from a fall.  He (Willem Defoe) is a emotionally distant husband who happens to be a psychotherapist who decides to take it apon himself to counsel his wife.  She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is a grieving mother, but She not just grieving, She has decided that all women, including herself, are evil.

The Actors: Both actors were good in their respective roles.  Willem Defoe usually seems to play the weird and creepy characters, he was actually the straight man in this movie.  Neither character was very likable.

The Experience: My first inclination after watching this was I can’t blog about this.  After thinking about it though, I can to the conclusion that this is what I am looking for with my Alphabet Project, and that is to see movies I normally would watch, good or bad.  It is easy to go pick up a mainstream movie and watch it, it is something else to search out the movies on the fringe.  I still am not sure what happened, and even if I did understand it, it was a very hard movie to watch.  From the surreal qualities of the forrest to the several cringetasic moments of graphic violence you are left with a bad taste in your mouth.  Whatever Trier was trying to say, he failed.   I wonder how the movie would have been if Trier hadn’t felt like he needed to rewrite it to change the ending.  By the way, the original ending was to show that Satan created the world, not God.  As the movie stands now, it is incredibly misogynistic and cruel.  It also has a snobby arthouse feel to it.  Trier seems to be trying to hard to be clever with nonsensical images.  He ends one scene be zooming in very tightly on the roots and dirty water in a glass vase.  Definitely not a movie for the faint of heart.

A thank you goes out to Tash for suggesting this movie.  Now I need suggestions on a “B” movie to watch.  I want to give everyone a chance to suggest a movie so Tash isn’t eligible for suggestions for B.

Posted in 00s, Alphabet Project, Drama, Fantasy | Leave a Comment »

Oscars: The Aftermath

Posted by Will on February 28, 2011

All in all it was a very good night for The King’s Speech and for me.  I broke my personal best and got myself out of a five year rut.  I correctly predicted 7 of the 8 major categories, 1 better from the last five years where I was 6 for 8.  Before we start, a few thoughts. The opening sequence was great and funny but the Back To The Future bit seemed out of place.  Anne Hathaway was very good but James Franco seemed either sleepy or stoned.  Kirk Douglas is the Man!  Bill Crystal looks old.  Christian Bale needs to get a little closer to his razor.  Oprah looked like a stuff sausage.  All you women take note, Jennifer Lawrence was stunning in here dress, simple can be very elegant.  I’m not sure but I think Natalie Portman might be pregnant.  And so here they are, your 2011 Oscar Winners.

Aaron Sorkin - The Social Network and David Seidler - The King's Speech

It was no surprise that Aaron Sorkin won.   I did not pick David Seidler but his win is well deserved.

And the Oscars go to Melissa Leo, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, and Colin Firth

I am so happy Natalie Portman won.  She is one of my favorites and has been since Leon.  Melissa Leo, Christian Bale and Colin Firth all deserved to win, no upsets this year.

Tom Hooper and the contingent from The King's Speech

The King’s Speech and Tom Hooper took the Oscars.  Now maybe I can go to bed and work on getting rid of this cold.  I’ll try to be more active on this blog this year.  Thanks for reading.

Posted in Oscars | Leave a Comment »

Oscar Predictions!

Posted by Will on February 26, 2011

The wait is over, the theater is being prepared, Hollywood stars are making last minute decisions that could get them praised or panned on the red carpet, and the envelopes are being sealed.  The Oscars are set to begin in less then 30 hours and it is time for me to officially go on the record.  Each year I predict eight categories.  This will be my 6th year to predict the Oscars and in each of the last five years I have been 6 for 8.  Will I break the streak this year?  We shall see.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

Who will win: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Dark Horse: Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit

Sorkin should run away with this category.  Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini with Winter’s Bone should be next but if anyone can unseat Sorkin it would probably be the Coens.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Who will win: Christopher Nolan, Inception

Dark Horse: David Seidler, The King’s Speech

Inception is probably going to get the nod here as a consolation prize.  The only thing that could upset that is if The King’s Speech Juggernaut steamrolls it’s way through, which could also mean good things for Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush.

Best Achievement in Directing

Who Will Win: Tom Hopper, The King’s Speech

Dark Horse: David Fincher, The Social Network

This one scares me, I am very confident on my other picks but this one is hard.  Tom Hopper will ride The King’s Speech to the win but the Academy might decide to award Fincher the Oscar since his movie has been the front runner for so long.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Who Will Win: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Dark Horse: Helena Bonham Carter

Leo was the better of the two actresses from The Fighter and really deserves the Oscar.  Helena Bonham Carter is the next best choice and could benefit from The King’s Speech love.  This is the closest acting category.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Who Will Win: Christian Bale, The Fighter

Dark Horse: Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Rush is a very distant second place in this one, even if The King’s Speech gains a lot of momentum Bale should easily walk away a winner.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Who Will Win: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Dark Horse: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right

Another virtual lock, Portman should have very little concern.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Who Will Win: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Dark Horse: Jeff Bridges, True Grit

I don’t see anyone besides Firth winning this one.  If there was a second place it would be a close battle between Bridges and Jesse Eisenburg.

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Who Will Win: The King’s Speech

Dark Horse: The Social Network

This won’t be as close as it would have been two months ago.  The King’s Speech should be an easy winner here.

I feel very confident in my choices and that scares me a bit.  There always seems to be a surprise or two during the night.  So, how do you think I will do?

Posted in Oscars | Leave a Comment »

Oscar Week: Best Picture

Posted by Will on February 25, 2011

The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is not the general public.  That is good and bad.   If we went by box office receipts to find our Oscar nominations The Twilight Saga: Eclipse  and The Karate Kid would be right up there.  That would be bad.  On the Other hand, the box office winner would be Toy Story 3 (at almost $415 million, it is $80 million dollars over the next closest eligible movie Alice In Wonderland).  That would be good.  By the way, the nominations would have gone to [in order]: 1. Toy Story 3, 2. Alice In Wonderland (since Avatar, in the two spot would not qualify), 3. Iron Man 2, 4. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, 5. Inception, 6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, 7. Despicable Me, 8. Shrek Ever After, 9. How To Train Your Dragon, and 10. The Karate Kid (Besides Toy Story and Inception the next nominated movie was The Social Network at 30).  Notice how much of that is dominated by family movies?  Now think back. When was the last time a true family film won the Best Picture Oscar?  Oliver! In 1968?  The Sound of Music 1965?  This is the second year of the great 10 nominations experiment, but not really, way back in the 30’s and 40’s ten nominations were normal.  If you take a quick look at last year’s and this year’s nominee list you might see a possible pattern emerging.

127 Hours - "The Inspiring Story That Is Freakin' Hard To Watch At Times" (See Precious)

At 94 minutes, this is the only film to come in under 100 minutes but it seemed much longer at times and gave it’s audience the most cringe-worthy moments.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, movies need to make you feel and it will definitely make you feel something.

Black Swan - "The Dark And Depressing One With Good Acting" (See The Reader)

I consider myself a worldly man, a sensitive man, a good man, but sometimes the primal lowest common denominator takes over.  At first I was skeptical about having to watch this movie about a ballerina until six simple words, “Natalie” “Portman” “and” “Mila” “Kunis” “kiss”. I was intrigued.  It happens sometimes (See The Reader).  Yep, I’m a man, but I’m not going to apologize.  Far from it, and it’s not a bad thing.  One of the things I love about the movies is the fantasy that can be created, I don’t care how they get me there, if it’s a good film I am going to tell people about it.  Of course that wasn’t the only reason I wanted to see it.  Luckily the movie is way more then it’s parts and it held me enthralled in the story.  That’s the magic of movie making.

The Fighter - "The Good Sports Story With Little Chance Of Winning" (See The Blind Side)

Boxing films are the most common sports films of all.  Boxing films have even won Best Picture before.  So how do you make your boxing film stand out?  You need a good story and great characters.  This is a good thing.  It forces you to make the film about character and story instead of being able to fall back on the novelty of a sport to carry the film.  That means better films.  On the other hand it’s bad.  There is a specific niche that it fits into and that niche is specific enough that it is hard not to compare it with its predecessors.   No matter what you do you will automatically be compared to Raging Bull, or Million Dollar Baby, or Rocky, so you are not only competing against yourself, but against a whole genre.

Inception - "The Science Fictiony One That Should Win, But Won't" (See District 9)

Then there is the popularity contest aspect of it. One of the things I hate about the Major League Baseball All Star Game is the fan voting.  Let’s see a show of hands, who takes their time to actually consider which player is the best regardless if he plays on your team or not?  And what about the other side of the ballot, the other league?  Doesn’t everyone just vote for who they knew, name recognition?  An interesting thing is happening over at IMDb.com.  They have an Oscar poll.  Users go and pick who they want to win.  Inception is currently doubling up on the amount of votes that the next movie in line The King’s Speech is getting.  But is this a good thing or not?  Last year Avatar would have run away with it if it was up to the fans.  The Hurt Locker was a much better film and so where a few of the others.  But on the other hand, Inception is an awesome film.  Sometimes the fans know what they are talking about.  If I were picking the winner, I would pick Inception.  But I’m not picking, the Academy is, and I hate to say this, but Inception will not win.  The Academy doesn’t have the mettle to pull that trigger.  Above all else, most members still view movies as their art and they just simply won’t stoop to vote for a movie made for the fans.  (See The Dark Knight, by far the best film of the year, but it didn’t even crack the Best Picture nominations)  I know what you are probably saying, “This isn’t the People’s Choice Awards.”  I get that, but a movie like Inception probably won’t get very much consideration and will more then likely fall into the “Just be glad you got nominated” category.

The Kids Are All Right - "The Filler" (See Up In The Air)

In my mind I keep trying to see this movie as anything but filler to take up a space in this new format of ten nominations.  It’s a really good movie with a wonderful cast and solid performances but that is all I see, nothing special.  On the one hand, a nomination will bring it an audience it might not have had before.  Honestly, until the awards season started I had never even heard of this movie.  On the other hand, it just seems to water down the competition, how many votes did this get that could possibly gone to Winter’s Bone or one of the two favorites The King’s Speech or The Social Network that could have changed the outcome?  Back when there were only 5 nominations you always heard about this movie or that one that got “snubbed by the Academy”.  Well, you don’t have that problem any more and because of that there are a few movies that don’t even stand a chance.  You would hope that a movie that is nominated would stand at least a bit of a chance of getting an upset win, I don’t see that happening for this movie.  There are just too many in front of it.

The King's Speech - "The Traditional Oscar Bait" (See There Will Be Blood, The Queen)

At least from the trailer this would look like traditional Oscar bait.  The story of a king.  Period piece.  Staunch British acting.  Pip pip cheerios and all that stuff.  Solid acting by three actors doesn’t hurt either.  Why will it beat The Social Network?  Because not only is it exactly the thing Academy voters love, it is actually a very good movie that is easy to watch even if you are not to fond of the staunchy British movies.  In three words…it’s not boring.  A lot of the other movies styled like this one, The Queen, The Hours, The Remains Of The Day, Howard’s End, A Room With A View are boring as hell.

The Social Network - "The New Fangled Oscar Bait" (See The Hurt Locker, Milk)

And then there is the other favorite.  From just about the time this came out until a few weeks ago this movie has been considered the favorite but recently you are hearing a lot of buzz about The King’s Speech.  Why will it beat The King’s Speech? It is hipper, more up to date and it doesn’t stray to far from it’s center.  Solid from start to finish.  This boiling down is a two horse race and’ it’s gonna be close.

Toy Story 3 - "The Token Animated Movie, Thanks For Coming, You'll Have To Settle For Best Animated Movie Oscar" (See Up)

Let’s face it, it will be a long long time, if ever, before an animated film wins the Best Picture category and I will tell you why.  There is a category called Best Animated Film, plain and simple.  The first thing that will go through an Academy voter is that, “Hey, it’ll get it’s Oscar no need to vote for it here”.  Not to even mention the total bias there is against animation.  To date a total of 485 movies have been nominated for Best Picture, three of them were animated.  And 2 of those nominations have come in this expansion period.  Think about that.  Three movies.  And that is an injustice.  Toy Story 3 is a gem.  It deserves to at least be in contention.

True Grit - "The Token Coen Brother's Movie" (see A Simple Man)

Sometimes the Academy gets Streepitis.  I think a lot of times actors get nominated more for who they are then for what they did.  This is not a bad thing either because you have to have the resume to do it.  I call it Streepitis for a reason.  Otherwise I could call in Sandleritis, or Ferrelitis, or Cageitis.  Meryl Streep keeps getting nominated because she keeps doing get work, but sometimes she does average work for her but since it is Meryl Streep, she gets the benefit of the doubt and the nomination.  The same thing happens to directors, in this case the Coen brothers.   True Grit was a very good film, just not great.

Winter's Bone - "The Token Little Independent Film" (See An Education)

It’s always nice to see an independent film get a nomination and the Academy always seems to do that.  And there is always the possibility it might win (See Slumdog Millionaire), but that possibility is still pretty slim.

Posted in Oscars | Leave a Comment »

Oscar Week: Best Actor

Posted by Will on February 24, 2011

One of the most coveted Oscars is always for the Best Actor.  Can an actor win the Oscar in a foreign film?  It’s been done before.  Can an actor win an Oscar for portraying a drunk U.S. Marshal?  It’s been done before.  Can an actor take an unlikable character all the way to the stage?  It’s been done before.  Can an actor take a character’s disability and turn it to gold?  It’s been done before.  Can an actor completely dominate the screen and win an Oscar?  That’s definitely been done before.  The question is, who can do it this time?

Javier Bardem - Biutiful

Javier Bardem is Uxball, a man in free fall, on the road to redemption.  That’s about all I know about this movie.  It is the only one I was unable to watch.  Very few times has an actor in a foreign film been nominated for best actor and that says a lot about his performance.  Bardem is a three-time nominee and one time Oscar winner for No Country For Old Men.

Jeff Bridges - True Grit

Jeff Bridges plays Rooster Cogburn, the cantankerous U.S. Marshal in search of a killer and a good bottle of Hooch.  Bridges is the reigning Best Actor and this time he tackles the role that John Wayne won his Oscar for.  What I noticed this year is that Jeff Bridges does The Dude most of the time, (See Tron, The Big Lebowski, Men Who Stare At Goats, Tron: Legacy) and he is good at it, but it is the roles where he gets away from The Dude that he does better (See Crazy Heart, True Grit).  This is Bridges’ sixth nomination.

Jesse Eisenberg - The Social Network

Jesse Eisenberg is Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook.  I first noticed Eisenberg in the Land films.  Adventureland and Zombieland.   I only saw the trailer for Adventureland but I loved Zombieland.   My girlfriend says she always gets Eisenberg and Michael Cera mixed up.  I can see her point, they seemed to be in similar roles for a while.  For this role Eisenberg has to make a not very nice guy likable.  He gets close but I don’t think he quite does it.

Colin Firth - The King's Speech

Colin Firth is King George VI and he has a problem with stuttering.  Firth seems to always play normal down to earth guys and someone you would trust your daughter with.  He’s just a nice guy.  This is Firth’s second nomination in consecutive years.  Last year he lost to Jeff Bridges.  This year I don’t think he will.  I am calling this one for Firth.  Sometimes the nice guys do win.

James Franco - 127 Hours

James Franco is Aron Ralston who finds himself in a bad situation, with his arm stuck and miles from any help.  You have to have some pretty good acting chops to be able to carry a film like this.  Just think about it.  90% of this film is James Franco by himself.  Sam Rockwell proved he could do it with Moon, and here Franco proves he can, not many other actors could pull this off.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Oscar Week: Best Actress

Posted by Will on February 23, 2011

With the exception of Jennifer Lawrence, the women nominated for Best Actress are veterans of the Oscars with each receiving at least one prior nomination.  Only Nicole Kidman has previously won an Oscar and that does not bode well for her.  In the past 20 years only Hilary Swank, Jessica Lange and Jodie Foster were able to walk away with their second statuette.  Chances are very good that one of these ladies (*cough* Natalie Portman *cough*) will walk away with her first Oscar.  This year’s crop includes a lesbian mother dealing with the introduction of the sperm donor of her child, a depressed woman trying to deal with the loss of her son, a teenager having to raise her siblings due to a missing father and sick mother, a ballerina dancing on the edge of madness, and a depressed woman on the verge of divorce.  Sounds so cheery, doesn’t it?

Annette Bening - The Kids Are All Right

Annette Bening is Nic, the more grounded member of a loving same sex couple who are raising their two children.  The women went to a sperm donor and now he shows up out of nowhere to screw things up.  I do think acting as the “more controlling” person of a couple is a bit harder to do that acting as the flighty or “more fun” partner,  You don’t get as much leeway to play with.  I was surprised Julianne Moore didn’t get a nomination at all, but I do think the nomination did got to the slightly better performance.  Annette Bening is a four time nominee (The Grifters, American Beauty, Being Julia).  Bening won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for this role and will be up against Natalie Portman, the Golden Globe winner for Drama.

Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole

Nicole Kidman is Becca.  Becca lost her son to a car accident and is dealing with that lost as best she can, but she is starting to alienate her family and friends.  An emotional performance for sure, but she just seemed listless most of the movie.  This is Kidman’s third nomination.  She won for her role in The Hours.

Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone

Jennifer Lawrence is Ree Dolly, a 17 year old who has to take care of her siblings when her father disappears.  She tries to keep the family together while searching for her father.  It’s always refreshing to see a new young actress who is not afraid to take on the hard roles and who didn’t burst on the scene through the awful teen movie done by the Mouse recently.  She really did carry this movie.  You will be seeing a lot more of Lawrence this year.  She is starring with Mel Gibson in The Beaver and is set to play the young Mystique in the upcoming X-Men prequel.  This is her first nomination.

Natalie Portman - Black Swan

Natalie Portman is Nina Sayers, a ballerina challenged with her first starring role as the Swan Queen in The Nutcracker Suite.  She struggles to find her way through the role and it takes a toll on her.  It amazes me that Portman is still a few months shy of her 30th birthday, it seems she has been a fixture on the Hollywood scene for a long long time.  Her first big role was 16 years ago in Leon .  She was Amadala in the Star Wars prequels.  She was Sam in Garden State , Alice in Closer (she was nominated for this one) and Evey in V For Vendetta.  All great roles, all great performances.  She will walk away with the Statuette on Sunday and something gives me the feeling that it won’t be her last.

Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine

Michelle Williams is Cindy.  Cindy is in a marriage that is on the rocks.  The decline of the marriage is contrasted with the days that started out the relationship.  It is a raw, stark performance.  Personally I liked her better this year in Shutter Island .

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Oscar Week: Supporting Actor

Posted by Will on February 22, 2011

A down and out fighter with a crack problem, a man who knows more then he’s saying about the disappearance of his brother, a Boston bank robber, a man who just found out not only that his sperm donation produced a child, but that there are two children and two mothers, and a man asked to help a king speak.  Man, I sound like the speech writers at the Oscars.  Today we meet the Best Supporting Actor nominees.  This is an interesting category.  It is probably a one man race but it also highlights some good actors.

Christian Bale - The Fighter

Christian Bale plays Dicky Eklund a fighter who became a crack addict.  Dicky sets out to help his brother but keeps hitting that wall that is drug addiction.  If you need a method actor for a specific role and you want him to go full immersion into that role there is none better then Daniel Day-Lewis, but if he is busy there is not much drop off it the next person in line, Christian Bale.  Bale is known for his obsessive characters, from The Machinist to American Psycho to the quintessential obsessive superhero, Batman.  Dicky Eklund is that kind of character and Bale goes full tilt into the role, to the point where at times you can’t even recognize him.  He will more than likely walk away with the statuette in this, his first nomination.

John Hawkes - Winter's Bone

John Hawkes plays the uncle of Teardrop, the uncle of Ree (Jennifer Lawrence).  He is quite but has a dangerous side that is palpable.  Here is where it gets hard to judge performances together.  Compared to Hawkes, Bales performance is so far over the top that it is a bit comical.  Dicky Eklund would not fit in this movie and Teardrop wouldn’t fit into the world of Dicky Eklund.  So how do you compare these roles, and the other three for that matter.  So it all boils down to fitting the character into the movie.  And Hawkes does a great job doing just that.  This is Hawkes’ first nomination too.

Jeremy Renner - The Town

Jeremy Renner plays James Coughlin a Bostonian and part of a crew of bank robbers and armored car robbers.  Renner was nominated last year for The Hurt Locker.  Again, he makes his character really fit into the movie.  That is the true ability of good actors.  Not all roles will be as juicy as Dicky Eklund, but all are important to the movie.  Geez that sounds corny.

Mark Ruffalo - The Kids Are All Right

Mark Ruffalo plays Paul.  He was a sperm donor.  One day, out of the blue he meets his daughter, who was curious about him and his son.  The rest of the movie is about how they and their mothers relate to him.  This role is not as crazy as Dicky Eklund, nor as criminal as James Coughlin.  Paul is just a regular Joe.  So how is this considered a worthy performance?  Well, he has to be able to act naturally, as Buck Owens advises, and sometimes that is pretty hard to do.  I have really liked Ruffalo lately.  I loved his performance in Shutter Island.  This is his first nomination.

Geoffrey Rush - The King's Speech

Geoffrey Rush plays Lionel Logue, a speech therapist hired to fix a stutter.   The owner of the stutter is King George.  Only the King of England.  No big deal right?  Geoffrey Rush is by far the old man of this category.  With three other nominations and one win for Shine, Rush should be used to the hoopla that surrounds the Oscars.  In this one he provides the quirky yet wise role of teacher to the hero.

 

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