Thursday, November 30, 2006

NBR predictions actuals and run-down

So I didn't do that well. But the NBR is insane, even moreso than usual this year, and very hard to predict. I did make a few good calls, of which I am proud. Let's see...

My prediction: Little Children
1st alternate: The Queen
2nd alternate: The Departed
Actual winner: Letters from Iwo Jima

Oh my. Well I guess it's getting nominated then. I may not have seen Letters coming, but this I did know: the NBR love to help out a film that needs them and then take credit for its success. When people check back to see when where and when the Letters frenzy started, they'll be seeing it right here.

Blood Diamond
The Departed
The Devil Wears Prada
Flags of Our Fathers
The History Boys
Letters from Iwo Jima (#1)
Little Miss Sunshine
Notes on a Scandal
The Painted Veil

Conspicuously absent: Dreamgirls, The Queen

The ones I predicted are in bold. Both my alternates (the Eastwood films) also made it. It was stupid to leave off the Eastwood films. The reason I did, I guess, is cause I figured if Letters was in their top ten, then it would have to win foreign film, but I thought Volver would win foreign film, so I just left both Flags and Letters off. But they of course gaveLetters best picture instead of best foreign film, so that solves that quandary. Eastwood will be BIG this year again, and Letters will probably win the globe for foreign film, just as Gandhi and Chariots of Fire have previously.

My prediction: Peter O'Toole, Venus
1st alternate: Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond and The Departed
2nd alternate: Matt Damon, The Good Shepherd and The Departed
Actual winner: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

I'm STUPID. I really did know in my brain that if it wasn't O'Toole, it would be Whitaker. But I didn't even have him as an alternate, cause Matt and Leo both had two films to work with, and the NBR likes awarding actors for bodies of work. Er, at least they used to. Anyway, this puts Whitaker in a very good position. He's assured of a nod at this point, and could easily win the globe, too.

My prediction: Helen Mirren, The Queen
1st alternate: Penélope Cruz, Volver
2nd alterate: Kate Winslet, Little Children and The Holiday
Actual winner: Helen Mirren, The Queen

The one major category that I actually got right. But it was easy. Helen Mirren will be sweeping.

My prediction: Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
1st alternate: Jack Nicholson, The Departed
2nd alternate: Ben Affleck, Hollywoodland
Actual winner: Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond

WHOA, so outta nowhere. But good for him. He is quality. This gives him a leg up on an oscar nod. btw, if I hear one more person call this film "The Blood Diamond" I will scream. I hate when people add random articles to titles.

My prediction: Maggie Gyllenhaal, World Trade Center and Stranger Than Fiction
1st alternate: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
2nd alternate: Meryl Streep, A Prairie Home Companion and The Devil Wears Prada
Actual winner: Catherine O'Hara, For Your Consideration

I am not surprised. I'd considered predicting her (and she'd actually have been 4th on my list), but I figured the bad response to FYC would doom her. Not so. I think it may actually be helping her; people are remembering her as the best thing about the otherwise uneven film, and want to give her her due. It'd be great to see her be nominated (crosses fingers). As for Maggie, I was feeling really good about her for this award, but it looks like she won't be as much of an awards factor as I thought... and I think the NBR have now officially dropped their "body of work" preferences.

My prediction: Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat
1st alternate: James McAvoy, The Last King of Scotland
2nd alternate: Patrick Wilson, Little Children
Actual winner: Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson

Goddammit. I WANTED to predict Ryan, but I figured The Notebook in '04 was his breakthrough. I guess it was only Rachel McAdams' breakthrough to the NBR. Stupid NBR. This "breakthrough" award of theirs is meaningless. Anyway, this will help Ryan get that oscar nod. I can't wait to see this film. People I know have really liked it.

My prediction: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
1st alternate: Penélope Cruz, Volver
2nd alternate: Gretchen Mol, The Notorious Bettie Page
Actual winners: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls and Rinko Kikuchi, Babel

Nice, I got this one. Or at least half of it. But my prediction, Jennifer, didn't need this award; it's Rinko who really benefits. Maybe she will edge out Adriana Barraza for that nom. In any case, I'm glad the NBR showed some restraint here and didn't just throw it at Penélope Cruz.

My prediction: Martin Scorcese, The Departed
1st alternate: Clint Eastwood, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima
2nd alternate: Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, Babel
Actual winner: Martin Scorcese, The Departed

Right on the money. Now let's just hope Clint doesn't steal his oscar (note: I'm actually not that attached to the idea of Marty winning for this movie - I didn't love it - but it's just a matter of simple decency; giving it to Clint AGAIN so soon would just be ridiculous).

My prediction: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, Little Miss Sunshine
1st alternate: Ryan Fleck, Half Nelson
2nd alternate: Jason Reitman, Thank You For Smoking
Actual winner: Jason Reitman, Thank You For Smoking

Well, it knew it would be one of these three. I haven't seen Reitman's film, so I have no comment. I guess this helps his bid for a screenplay nod, though.

My prediction: Clint Eastwood
1st alternate: Paul Greengrass
2nd alternate: Oliver Stone
Actual winner: Jonathan Demme


My prediction: Michael Arndt, Little Miss Sunshine
1st alternate: Zach Helm, Stranger Than Fiction
2nd alternate: Pedro Almodóvar, Volver
Actual winner: Zach Helm, Stranger Than Fiction

I kind of knew this would happen. But I let my personal feelings about Helm's screenplay get in the way. The NBR likes to reward very "writerly" screenplays, even if they don't deserve it, so I'm really not surprised at all.

My prediction: Ron Nyswaner, The Painted Veil
1st alternate: Todd Field & Tom Perotta, Little Children
2nd alternate: Patrick Marber, Notes on a Scandal
Actual winner: Ron Nyswaner, The Painted Veil

OK, I'm pretty proud of myself for this one. Everyone was saying Little Children, but I thought this would be the perfect place to honor Veil and help it build momentum. Glad I'm predicting it for a nom at the oscars... looks like it will happen now.

My prediction: Babel
1st alternate: Little Miss Sunshine
2nd alternate: The Departed
Actual winner: The Departed

I said it would win either director or ensemble, and lookie here, it won both. Good for them. There were a lot of good choices in this category (strong year for ensembles), but this is definitely one of the best. Kudos.

My prediction: Children of Men
1st alternate: Marie-Antoinette
2nd alternate: Dreamgirls
Actual winner: none

It seems they didn't give this award this year. Odd. They usually do. NEXT.

My prediction: An Inconvenient Truth
1st alternate: Shut Up and Sing
2nd alternate: This Film is Not Yet Rated
Actual winner: An Inconvenient Truth

Damn straight. Now give it the oscar!

My prediction: Happy Feet
1st alternate: Monster House
2nd alternate: Cars
Actual winner: Cars

Blah. Boring. I guess when there is no big standout animated film of the year, the one with all the $$$ wins. NEXT.

My prediction: Volver
1st alternate: Pan's Labyrinth
2nd alternate: Letters from Iwo Jima
Actual winner: Volver

Volver takes it. Good. But look out for it to lose the globe to Letters.

My prediction: David Lynch for writing, directing, and producting Inland Empire
1st alternate: Sacha Baron Cohen for writing and acting in Borat
2nd alternate: Todd Field for writing, directing and producing Little Children
Actual winner: none

Apparently no one was worthy this year. No one wonder I was having such trouble coming up with viable predictions.

My prediction: Robert Altman
1st alternate: Peter O'Toole
2nd alternate: Oliver Stone
Actual winner: Eli Wallach

Who's that?

One final note: the NBR "Freedom of Expression" award this year goes to Water and World Trade Center. Gag me. I haven't seen Water, but... World Trade Center??? WHAT did it express??? Nothing. There's the NBR for you.

And on that note, I am done. Discuss at your leisure.


favorite Fountain tracks

So, as I may have mentioned in other posts, I am currently obsessed with the soundtrack to The Fountain. Here are my favorite tracks:

(honorable mention) Track 2: Holy Dread!
Cool and trippy. Less traditionally beautiful than the following five tracks, but possessed of a style all its own. Bonus points for leading into "Tree of Life" (see below). Still, I tried to limit myself to five of the disc's ten tracks (much as I love them all), and this one didn't quite make the cut.

#5: Track 6: Xibalba
Lyrical and beautiful. Takes a while to get going, but once it does, the lovely cello, other strings and background chorus just overtake you. Of the disc's ten tracks, this is definitely the mellowest and most traditionally "spiritual" sounding. It stands apart from the others in that it doesn't repeat many of the same central themes, as many of the others seem to do. Anyway, I love it. A strong #5.

#4: Track 7: First Snow
Sort of a prelude to #2 on this list, so it loses points for being basically the same thing, but less... but WHAT a prelude. What a grand theme. This music is so stunningly beautiful. Puts you in a trance, it does.

#3: Track 3: Tree of Life
You might think from it's title that THIS track would be the mellow, spiritual one. Surprise! It's closer to a dance club rhythm. Well, sort of. In any case, it's very intense and drum-laden... just begging for some kind of dance to be choreographed around it. Maybe not club dancing... but modern or west african would fit it just fine. LOVE it.

#2: Track 9: Death is the Road to Awe
OK, the title of this one tells you all you need to know. Well, not really. This one just needs to be heard. A lot. Like, all the time. It's basically the best music I've ever heard - oh wait, nevermind, there's still one track more to go. But regardless, this track is just... well, words fail me. All the accusations of it being "New Age," crazy/electric and whatnot are true, but if you can get past that (or if you just LIKE New Age shit, like me), you will love it like no other. Structured as a theme-and-variation kind of musical "quickening," it consists of several rounds of heightened intensity of the same central theme. Oh, and it's also totally orgasmic. Literally. One of my goals in life is to have sex to this music. Like, seriously. It's THAT amazing. BUT not as amazing as...

#1: Track 10: Together We Will Live Forever
OK, if #2 was the "during sex" music, #1 is the "after sex while smoking a cigarette" music. The diminuendo. The bittersweet remembrance. The wonder. This simple piano rearrangement of the previous themes is strikingly sad and hauntingly beautiful, especially when listened to immediately after all the other music in sequence.

This last track seals the deal on The Fountain being one of the all-time great film scores, in its own unique and trippy way.

Those of you who've heard the music, feel free to comment if you're so inclined. You know who you are ; )

Stranger Than Fiction is... strange.

And not in a good way.

This film's premise just doesn't make sense. I knew that going into it, but I saw it anyway, thinking perhaps the sense would become clear during the film itself. But alas. It just doesn't make sense for a writer to realize that one of her characters just happens to be a real person inhabiting the same world she does. With that premise, any sense of logic - even the film's own sense of internal logic - had no option but to fly out the window.

When Emma Thompson's character, Kay Eiffel, finally meets Will Ferrell's character, Harold Crick (that's not a spoiler, you knew it would happen), it's meant to be this awkward, climatic and emotional moment that makes you feel all these things, but as much as I wanted to FEEL, all I kept thinking was "This is so f***ing ridiculous, what is even happening right now? This is impossible. So is this meeting between them part of her book, too?" etc.

The film just never establishes its own sense of internal logic in terms of what is allowed to happen and why; it just hopes you'll play along, regardless. Contrast this with, say, Being John Malkovich, which had the balls and creative audacity to flesh out a whole mythos around "vessels" and "Malkovich's seed" and whatnot, and even let us see what happens when Malkovich "entered his own portal" (BRILLIANTly), and Stranger Than Fiction starts to seem awfully amateurish in comparison. Other "literary" films Adaptation and The Hours and "people in a bubble" films Truman Show and Malkovich have all done this stuff better before... plus Fiction is overly precious and sentimental, and doesn't exhibit half the wit, pathos or workplace know-how of REAL Charlie Kaufman films.

That said, it was still relatively entertaining. The cast is aces, especially Emma Thompson as the very blocked and very British writer. Maggie G is also great, as usual, as Ferrell's rebellious nemesis-turned-love-interest. And Dustin Hoffman should have a part in every movie I see, thanks. Ferrell himself is also good in the leading role, though I got the impression he was trying a bit too hard to shed his "crazy antics" persona and go all dramatic and deadpan ("look guys, I can be as serious as Jim Carrey!"). Queen Latifah is unfortunately wasted in a throwaway role that basically exists only so Kay Eiffel has someone to talk to... but at least Latifah gives the role what life she can.

Anyway... I think this review was a bit harsh. This wasn't really a BAD movie. It was just terribly average while trying so hard to be so much more. Still, despite its flaws and annoyingly fluffy nature, the film boasts a sharp cast and generally funny script that make it almost recommendable as the trifle it is.

Verdict: "The premise is stupid. But the movie's kinda fun."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

OK, now I've got JACKMAN on the brain...

OK, I know this is usually Glenn's thing, but tonight, I just had to chime in.

And seriously, can we just... take a minute... to savor... the Hugh:

The man has had an amazing year. One bad blockbuster sequel in which he was the highlight (X3), one pretty decent fluffy comedy in which he was delightful (Scoop), one very good genre drama in which he was excellent (Prestige), and one mega-trippy gorgeus art film in which he is PHENOMENAL (Fountain). All that, plus one animated flop, and one animated big hit. Not bad. And all his live action films did pretty well at the box office, except, ironically, for the one with his greatest performance (how typical).

Anyway, I am in love with him this year. It's really not so easy to come out with a million films in a year and actually be good in all of them and have all of them do relatively well artistically or commercially or both. Give-or-take X3's suckiness and Fountain's inability to market itself, Hugh has made nary a misstep. Really, why is the whole world not as obsessed with him as I am? This man is a grade A actor and movie star. Word.

Long live The Jackman. May he rule all, forever.

p.s. Also he appears shirtless, at least for a little bit, in ALL of his films this year. Thank heaven for small favors. Really, thank you, Hugh, love and kisses.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I've got Fountain on the brain...

...'cause I think it might be brilliant. Take, for example, this review. It gives the film a 2.5 star rating, and then basically admits straight out that there is brilliance within, calls it painstakingly crafted and operatic, but then says that, like opera, if the audience isn't on the same wavelength as the artists, it falls flat.

Well... duh.

Any work of art needs the audience/viewer to be able to appreciate it. If they don't, then it doesn't work. That's very basic. But that doesn't mean that films that are too much for the audience to handle are bad. More like, "genius."

I need to try it again. I think I'm ready now.

p.s. I just downloaded the soundtrack and am listening to it right now, and it's totally beautiful and amazing. LOVES it.

Clint Mansell is God.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I love Volver!!!

Grade: A-


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Why have Thanksgiving when you can go to the movies?

So I'm trying to see as many films as possible while I'm at home, since more stuff plays here.

Before I left I saw Casino Royale in Providence. It was too long, but really fun, and maybe the only Bond film I've ever seen, since they usually look dumb to me. Really leaves you on a high. Daniel Craig is stellar. Eva Green (she's one sexy bitch) and Judi Dench (ditto) are great, too. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's really got its shit together.

Verdict: "Impeccable popcorn entertainment. Daniel Craig is sexy."

Then last night I saw The Fountain... and... like, whoa. No film has ever left me so speechless. But that's not necessarily a good thing. I really don't know what to say about it. It's brilliant and visionary, but also kind of boring and flat. When I told my friend I'd just seen it, he told me he heard it was "pretentious crap," and that's not far off the mark, really. Though I think that shortchanges it a bit. I think it's worth seeing; there's a lot of great stuff to admire, even if the whole is kind of... not much. The characters are never really drawn out in any depth, though the actors do much to compensate. The story is kind of jumbled and incoherent, but the images and music are so compelling that it almost doesn't matter. A true perplexity. UPDATE: I have of course seen this again, and now I'm pretty sure I love it. Full review and/or top ten list entry coming soon. But suffice it to say, this film is brilliant. Imperfect, perhaps... but still brilliant.

I didn't love this film on first viewing, but that's okay. It demands patience. You need to meet it on its own terms. But if you do, you'll find ample rewards. Just let it wash over you and prepare to be carried away. You owe it to yourself to try.

Verdict: "Transcendent. Jackman at the peak of his powers. A musical score for the ages. Stunning visuals. SEE IT."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

OK, I'm doing it... the Altmanathon!

So, in light of Robert Altman's recent passing, I've decided to finally start seeing all his old films I've never seen.

Yes, I realize that I'm still only halfway through the Streepathon (not even), but the Altmanathon needs to start anyway. Maybe I'll do both in tandem. In any case, the Altmanathon will be a chronological journey through the highlights of Bob's filmography, consisting of the following films:

1) M*A*S*H
2) McCabe and Mrs. Miller
3) Nashville
4) 3 Women
5) The Player
6) Short Cuts
7) Gosford Park

The only one I've seen from this list is the most recent, Gosford Park. But it's so great that I'm renting it and watching it again.

I'm officially updating my netflix cue... right... NOW. The Altmanathon is on.

Labels: ,

Robert Altman dies

Very sad. Though in a way, the time seems right (is that an evil thing to say?)

A Prairie Home Companion will be the last Robert Altman film. This makes me wish its title had remained The Last Broadcast, as was originally planned. I think Altman knew to some extent that this film would be his true swan song.

In any case, he will be sorely missed. RIP, Robert Altman.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

More chart updates

I now have chart updates for lead and supporting actress, best director and best picture. Enjoy. The next updates will come in december, after we have more info.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Yay, Barbara Boxer is the new Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee!

I love this woman.

So can we start addressing global warming now, please? Thanks.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Oscar chart updates

There are now updates in the lead and supporting male acting charts, as well as the original and adapted screenplay charts. Mostly just category shifting... but the shifting really changes some things.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Which Nicole Kidman character am I?

Which NICOLE KIDMAN Character Are You?

"Ada" in COLD MOUNTAINYou're a girly girl, all swoony romanticism and heartbreaker beauty. But you've probably already learned that life is rough and joy can be fleeting. So get your hands dirty and live life to its fullest.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

And all this time I thought I was Satine.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hello, Madame Speaker...

Thank GOD.

We have a government again.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Yeah, Carrie is awesome.

Whoa, I just rented Carrie on VHS (the first time I've seen a VHS type in, like, years) and I remember now how great it is. Transcends genre. Fantastic comedy/tragedy/horror. Verdict: "Masterpiece."

Also, remember when you'd get to the end of a VHS tape and it would start rewinding on its own? That used to be this amazing technological feat, a huge step up from the old VHS tapes that you had to rewind yourself (at least if I'm remembering correctly). Now when it does that, I'm like "ooh, how quaint."

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Um... yeah.

What can I say? It really does have to be seen to be believed. But do I recommend you see it? Well... that depends. I do think it's rather overrated. 97% fresh!? It was very funny, but it wasn't THAT great a movie. There is such a thing as "too much."

In response to awards questions, I don't think Sacha Baron Cohen could possibly get an oscar nom for this. But given the film's rapturous reception, a globe nom seems like a good bet. And since there seems to be no frontrunner in that category as of yet, it's possible that he could even win. Like, whoa.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Last King of Scotland

Whoa. Think Collateral meets Training Day meets The Devil Wears Prada (and all the category fraud that entails).

White man ventures into strange territory, hoping to do good in the world. Meets black man. Everybody worships black man, cause he's so strong and charismatic. Black man unexpectedly offers white man a job. White man reluctantly accepts. Job turns out to involve killing people and looking the other way while others kill people. White man tries to quit job, but can't; he's been sucked in. Much growth, change and chaos ensue.

OK, so I really liked this film a lot. And unexpectedly so. I came out of it saying to "OMG, that was so f*cking amazing" (and James McAvoy is so f*cking HOT) but then I ended up discussing/arguing with someone afterward whether and how it might have been racist - or at least racially insensitive - since it's told from a white perspective, by white filmmakers, and is about this white man going into a black country and finding it savage and brutal.

But I didn't think it was really about race. On the surface, it was, sure, but it was more about Nick Garrigan's emotional journey. And about crazy Idi Amin. I suppose it must be frustrating as a black person to have to represent on film a white person's discovery of brutal savagery - that is fair enough - but I thought the way it unapolagetically shoved issues in your face (in a real way, not a Crash) way, and offered itself as a venue for discussion, was refreshing and searingly emotional. And it was just SO well done. Racist? Not racist? I dunno, let's discuss. I thought it was really about a man encountering a complex, dictatorial personality from the inside; that dictator just happened to be black.

Yes, Forest Whitaker was amazing as said dictator, but I actually found James McAvoy (the film's true lead) to be equally if not more amazing. Whitaker's part is more showy, against type, a real person, etc. but let us not skim over the fact that McAvoy was stellar in this movie. He is the real deal as an actor. He actually reminds me a lot of Ewan... except less frivolous. I can't quite picture Ewan in a movie like this. But anyway, McAvoy's definitely the hottest thing out of Scotland since Ewan. Charming, adorable, hot, talented - he takes the audience on Nicholas' journey from cocky young med school grad, to frontier doctor, to sobered man, with amazing virtuosity. I kind of love him.

There's even a really hot sex scene between him and one of the women in the film who shall remain nameless - okay, there are actually a couple of sex scenes with him, and he even gets naked - but one is particularly scorching and isn't gratuitous at all. OK I know James McAvoy having hot sex onscreen is not what this movie was about, but it was SUCH a great, unexpected perk.

Anyway. Great acting - Kerry Washington and Gillian Anderson (!) are great in small supporting roles, too - and very savvy writing, directing, editing, and cinematography make this one of the year's best films. Really. I'm glad Whitaker is getting attention, but I think the script, direction, and especially James McAvoy deserve attention, too (and NOT in the supporting category).

Right now I feel like it's the best thing I've seen all year (EDIT: I no longer feel this way). I guess it doesn't quite have that kind of cinematic "magic" exhibited by the very best films, but it's still very good indeed.

Verdict: "Some may not like it, but it's worth seeing for Whitaker and McAvoy... a dynamite pair."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I hate learning lines.

I really do (just thought I'd share). I love performing, but lines, lines, lines! Always more lines. And learning them is SOOOO boring.

Maybe I should just stick to writing and directing? They're harder, but they don't involve lines.

I hate lines.

UPDATE: Everyone in The Departed is supporting.

Weird. According to Kris Tapley at "In Contention," EVERYONE in The Departed is being campaigned for supporting. Including Jack. And Leo.

Leo seems like the lead here, and like he might be able to get a lead nod, but he can't unless they campaign him that way. I think it's a stupid idea to put him in supporting, where Jack (who's REALLY supporting) will overshadow him... but I guess they didn't want him up against himself for Blood Diamond. Whatever. This seems very ScarJo in 2003... just not right... and hence, I'm now predicting Leo gets no nod at all.

Several chart updates are below (in the original posts). Lots of changes, due to the category shuffling.

By the way, if Blood Diamond falls flat, I expect the studio to reverse course again and shift Leo back to lead. But for now, let's assume that won't happen.