Monday, February 26, 2007

Yay! I liked the show.

The only thing I'm really pissed about is Children of Men losing cinematography... not just the fact that it lost but the reasons why it lost. I get that Pan's was more typically "pretty" and more loved in general, but I hate that a nominee who won the guild award, BAFTA and every critics award AND who was the most innovative and unique AND who should've won last year too lost to another film just cause it was "prettier" and had the heat. Anyone who was paying any attention would've seen that Children of Men was far and away the superior - indeed, the only - choice. It's always sad when a frontrunner that's actually deserving ends up losing, but alas it seems to happen every year.

But aside from that... yay! I really enjoyed most of the wins. And my three last-minute changes (in song, foreign film and supporting actor) were ALL correct. Go me. Also, Ellen is great and should host this thing every year.

So, I did pretty well, getting a few of the surprises, but missing others. I knew Happy Feet had a shot at the win, but was not courageous enough to predict it. The Departed win in editing surprised me, as did the aforementioned Pan's win cinematography win. Also, HOW did Gustavo Santaolalla win AGAIN for a score that was barely there? They love him. He's the Tom Hanks of the original score category. But you'd think that score would've been disqualified when other highly acclaimed work (Moulin Rouge, The Aviator, etc.) has been in the past.

Anyway, I was sad that Peter O'Toole lost. I think his perf was in the same league as Whitaker's, and it would've been great to see him win. But as it is, he holds the record for most nominated actor never to win, so that's kind of special. I'm also happy for Etheridge and Inconvenient Truth. I know Glenn isn't, but whatever. Here in America where people are stupid, that movie has actually made a huge difference. People in general didn't used to "get" global warming. Now they do. And it's largely this film's fault. Plus, I just thought it was really good... like, as a film. So more power to it.

And yay for Marty. FINALLY. I'm glad The Departed won, cause it proves the academy is still sort of in touch with critics and the public, and spares Little Miss Sunshine the backlash it would've gotten from a win.

I also predicted all top 8 categories correctly. Yay! Even though I kinda died in the techs. I didn't really predict animated short/documentary short/live action short, but of the categories I DID predict, I got 16/21 right. And if I had officially predicted the other three, I'd have gotten two of them, for a total of 18/24 (at my oscar party, I marked down West Bank Story and The Blood from Yingzhou District, but missed the other one... but I have no blog record of that). Oh yeah, and I got 9 out of 13 Spirit Award predictions right. That's not bad, I guess.

Phew. OK, that's it. I have school stuff to do now. I have to learn how to use a film camera and also learn a bunch of piano by tomorrow morning. Maybe.

Check for the continuation of the Streepathon, and the beginning of the Altmanathon and the Almovovaration (yes, another one... with the oscars over, I will have time) in the coming weeks. That, and continued screenings of old 2006 films I never got to.



Saturday, February 24, 2007

Spirit predix and (semi)final Oscar predix

2007 Spirit Award predictions (full list of nominees here)

prediction: Little Miss Sunshine seems like the inevitable winner here. The only oscar nominee in the category, and too big a success to pass up.
alternate: Half Nelson
look out for: Pan's Labyrinth (why isn't this one in foreign?)

prediction: Wow, I have no idea. None of these have a very high profile. But I'll go with The Motel since I just read a story about how great it is that it's nominated.
alternate: Day Night Day Night
look out for: Man Push Cart (whatever, I have no idea)

prediction: Dayton & Faris will most likely be honored along with their film.
alternate: Ryan Fleck, Half Nelson
look out for: Robert Altman, A Prairie Home Companion

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (best feature under $500,000 or some such)
prediction: Quinceanera (I'm not even venturing an alternate guess, cause I haven't heard of any of the other nominees... that's usually a good sign that the one you've heard of will win)

prediction: Tough one. Most of these are relatively high profile scripts, but none really stands out as being the frontrunner. They might want to honor Nicole Holofcener as a makeup award for when they shafted her in 2002 (for The Good Girl... ugh). Or they might go for the classy, restrained script for The Painted Veil. But I'm betting they continue their record of hip/spotty choices in this category and go for the oscar-buzzed (but not necessarily good) screenplay for Thank You For Smoking... it seems right up their alley in many ways.
alternate: The Painted Veil
look out for: Friends with Money

prediction: This one will likely go to oscar frontrunner Michael Arndt, even if Half Nelson's screenplay was better.
alternate: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, Half Nelson

prediction: I find it hard to imagine this award not going to Guest darling Catherine O'Hara for her central role in For Your Consideration...
alternate: ...BUT I could be totally off; it wouldn't shock me to see Shareeka Epps take this.
look out for: Robin Wright Penn & Michelle Williams (they were both just nominated last year, and that momentum thing can work wonders)

prediction: Ain't no way this isn't going to indie darling and oscar nominee Ryan Gosling for Half Nelson.
alternate: Don't need one; Gosling's got it sewn up.

prediction: This is hard, because once again, we have a category without any high profile contenders; this'd be much easier if either Shareeka Epps or Catherine O'Hara had been placed here. As it is, I'll go with Frances McDormand; she's by far the biggest name, and most widely loved, even if her Friends with Money perf's a walk in the park.
alternate: Mary Beth Hurt, The Dead Girl
look out for: Marcia Gay Harden, American Gun

prediction: Common wisdom would seem to point to Arkin here, but it's a different race with Paul Dano also present. I'm guessing they divert and go for it-boy Daniel Craig for his role in Infamous.
alternate: Alan Arkin
look out for: Paul Dano
om(f***ing)g, please no!: Channing Tatum

prediction: Guillermo Navarro, Pan's Labyrinth. Easy.

prediction: My Country, My Country is the only oscar nominee in the bunch, and for that reason, I think it'll win here.

prediction: Sans le presence de Pan's Labyrinth, The Lives of Others should take this in a walk. But why isn't Pan's Labyrinth here?

Alright, I'm not doing these BS "special award" things. Although I hope the producers of Shortbus win the Axiom award. They deserve something for having the balls and ingenuity to produce that film. And how 'bout the "special distinction" prize for David Lynch and Laura Dern? Pretty awesome, says me.

I think my final oscar predictions are the same as in the post below, actually. I'm seriously waffling on Arkin/Murphy and Lives/Labyrinth... I really don't know what to think, except that it'll be close. Obviously other races like best picture, score and editing are close, too, but I've basically settled on my choices there, regardless. But the other two categories are irking me. Thoughts?

UPDATE: Alright, I think I'm actually switching to Arkin, The Lives of Others AND An Inconvenient Truth for best song. Maybe this Dreamgirls vote split theory makes sense. Could Dreamgirls and Pan's each win only 3 oscars? Or even fewer? Dreamgirls is so darn hard to read... it could go home with 6 oscars or 2. Impossible to say how it'll go down.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Oscars, Oscars, Oscars...

So I think I may actually be attending an oscar party this year at school and/or watching the oscars with similarly oscar-obsessed friends. This never happens for me. I always just watch them alone in my room like a nerd. So that's exciting.

Also, I'm thinking of changing some predictions, namely swapping Arkin for Murphy and (gasp!) The Lives of Others for Pan's Labyrinth. People have been saying that the actual voters who have seen all five films will be voting for The Lives of Others, and I could see that happening. Even though you'd think Pan's Labyrinth, with its NSFC award and huge critical following, would not be in danger of this kind of "people who've actually seen all the nominees won't vote for it" downfall. But people are saying it is.

Also, I'd seriously consider predicting Babel or Letters for best picture, but that's just it... I wouldn't know which one to pick. I think they'll BOTH be getting a lot of votes and will thus cancel each other out (as I just explained in a comment on Nat's blog). Both are competing for the same socially conscious/liberal guilt votes. Were those votes all going to one nominee, I think it would win (as Crash did last year... shudders), but with both in the mix, I think the prize will ultimately go to the slow-and-steady awards stalwart that is The Departed.

The Departed = The Silence of the Lambs
Little Miss Sunshine = Beauty and the Beast
Babel + The Queen = Bugsy

I think 1991 is the closest parallel to this year.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Which supervillain are YOU?

I am... Mystique!

Sometimes motherly,
Sometimes a beautiful companion,
But most of the time a deceiving vixen.

I am pretty happy with this... the only other villains I would've liked are Dark Phoenix, Catwoman and Magneto, but I didn't match them at all, apparently. My second, third and fourth matches were all pretty unfortunate and/or boring. So I will take my Mystique and not complain.

Click here to take the Supervillain Personality Quiz

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what I'm inclined to predict right now

Note: These are NOT my final predictions. Well, I guess they might be. But I'm not committing to anything. Many of these are just me flipping a coin. I'm sure I'll waste a lot more time thinking about them before making my final choices.

Picture: The Departed (it just makes the most sense)

Director: Marty (a lock)

Actor: Forest Whitaker (but O'Toole could still take it)

Actress: Helen Mirren (the biggest lock in any category in years)

Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy (by a nose over Arkin)

Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson (a lock, but less so than Mirren)

Original Screenplay: Little Miss Sunshine (pulling away from The Queen)

Adapted Screenplay: The Departed (a lock)

Editing: Babel (or United 93 or The Departed)

Cinematography: Children of Men (a lock)

Art Direction: Pan's Labyrinth (god, I hope so)

Costume Design: Dreamgirls (my heart says Prada, my brain says no)

Makeup: Pan's Labyrinth (a lock)

Visual Effects: Pirates (a lock)

Sound: Dreamgirls (a near-lock)

Sound Editing: Letters from Iwo Jima (its only award of the evening)

Score: Pan's Labyrinth (Pan's is hot hot hot...)

Song: Dreamgirls, "Listen" (it'll be close, but this song screams oscar)

Documentary: An Inconvenient Truth (a lock)

Animated: Cars (NOT a lock... Happy Feet is still in this)

Foreign: Pan's Labyrinth (The Lives of Others is possible, but not likely)

Dreamgirls: 5
Pan's Labyrinth: 4
The Departed: 3
(no other film gets more than one)

That's what I'm thinking right now.


Monday, February 19, 2007


OK, so my computer's hard drive totally died sometime between last night and this morning. Hence the title of this post.

I've had this comp for a little over 3 years now, so this wasn't entirely unexpected, but is sure is a hell of a hassle. I thought I could get access to my users folder at least, but that involves putting a disc in the computer, and I can't do that, because there's already a disc there that is now IMPOSSIBLE to get out, because you can't eject DVDs without having access to the DVD player application, and I don't, cause it died with the rest of my hard drive.

Oh well. At least the blog is basically unaffected, cause I still have Safari on this emergency proxy portable hard drive I'm using. But it's gonna be a while before I'm fully functional again...


Sunday, February 18, 2007

May we all have faith in Children of Men.

Watching this film again really clarified its greatness for me. I'm still unsure of just how great it is, but it's definitely great. It's messy, sure, but that's the point. It ends abruptly, sure, but that's the point. It feels rough and unpolished, but again...

In many ways, this feels like the quintessential Alfonso Cuaron film. His trademark is technical mastery in service of the creation of an overtly messy, organic film poetry, one that doesn't shy away from any of the hiccups and false starts of real life, one that shows humanity for what it is: a fleeting moment of grace built on choas, sex and violence. Here, his skills and style perfectly serve a story about a spark of hope amidst the mess of a dying world, a world where all humanity's worst traits are flung out in the open for all to see, and society's on the verge of collapse. In this film, the moments of transcendence are earned, and no director's better at earning them.

Call me crazy, but in a way, I see this as a companion piece to Little Miss Sunshine. Both are stories in which, due to the whims of fate, a big, dysfunctional family (a literal family in one, all of humanity in the other) finds all its members falling over themselves to further the hope of the baby in the family (the actual family baby in one, humanity's only baby in the other). In a metaphor for the larger historical process of evolution - the way fish lay hundreds of eggs in hopes that will hatch and grow, the way whole species are created in hope that some will prosper - each one in the group finds a special way to contribute to that hope, and they cling to it, because it's all they have. In this way, Little Miss Sunshine and Children of Men are about faith, in the grandest sense.

It struck me seeing the film a second time why so many people were willing to sacrifice themselves rather than go on with Kee and Theo. They actually choose to stay behind when they could've gone along for the ride, and I always wondered why, until I realized: not only do they feel a sense of purpose in contributing to hope, but in many ways it's easier to hope than to know, and to risk the knowledge that it's all been in vain. Julian and Jasper and Miriam and Marichka, and even Theo in the end, all get to end their time with the faith in their life and their actions, assuming that they will have made a difference. Kee of course has the hardest job of all, having to actually give birth and then figure out what to do once she reaches the Human Project, but the others all get to revel in their faith that Kee would be alright. It got me thinking about religion, and how in many ways, faith is wiser than force... certainly wiser than trying to force something to go your way, which is what Luke tried to do. Without people believing in something, that something would never get done. The believers and the doers each have a part in the doing.

There are other feelings Children of Men evoked in me, other films of which it reminded me. It felt a lot like A.I., actually, or what A.I. might've felt like, had it ended before descending into schmaltz. And speaking of endings, Children takes probably the best route in eschewing a typical "ending" altogether. It gives us hope - "a boat!" - but leaves it to us to decide what really happens. Ultimately, it's about faith (more on how Children's ending differs from the LMS ending in my forthcoming review of the latter film).

There were other, more specific pleasures to be had in viewing the film: Seeing Julianne Moore finally in a great film again (however briefly). Seeing Clive Owen used so perfectly in the part of the reluctant hero. Seeing just how long an action scene could be staged without a single cut.

But what I'll take most from Children of Men is its affirmation of faith. It's affirmed my faith in the cinema, and in humanity. We can only see the best in ourselves once we've seen the worst. The wonder is in it all existing together. And in how artfully that existence can be portrayed.

Verdict: "Pretty damn great."

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Common Decency by Ann Marie Healy

The play I was just in (ended last Sunday) was called Common Decency. It was about a little town in Michigan called Calumet (an actual REAL little town in Michigan) and the quirks and pitfalls of living there. I had the glamorous role of "townsperson" (ensemble). My one individual line was: "Oh my god, he's takin' her right now!"

It was a really fun show to do, though. I basically got to sit around and learn things, and watch MFA acting students work, and then not have to do very much actual work myself. Good times. The play was one of three new plays going up this year as part of Brown/Trinity's New Plays Festival. All plays were written by MFA playwrights, directed by MFA directors (except ours, who was directed by a professional), and acted by MFA actors (and undergrad actors, who filled out the casts in smaller roles). The whole thing was great fun.

Our play is centered on the little town of Calumet and its inhabitants, Old Man McCauley (owner of the town general store where all the action took place), Old Man Aggie (the town rabble rouser and owner of a neighboring shop), Old Man Kenghis (a kind old man whose wife has just committed suicide), little Jake-O (McCauley's apprentice, a young man with a stuttering problem and a lot of heart), Minnie Willet (the town outcast, a bookish type who often makes up stories), and Lila & Eleanor Willet (Minnie's selfish cousins). Jake-O and Minnie are the true leads, and they fall in a kind of uncertain, desperate love in the middle of Act 1. Events from then on spin into comedy and then spiral into tragedy via misunderstanding, groupthink, and general intolerance of difference. To say more would spoil the story (and I don't think I'm even allowed to do that, since it's a new and not yet published play), so that's all I'll say.

Anyway, here are some more photos from the show:

Can you pick me out of the crowd?

Hint: I look really stupid (it's the costume).

Hmmm... I guess these photos give you a good idea of what happens later in the play (they're from the big, climatic, penultimate scene). But I still didn't tell the story. For the record. ; )

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

good news & bad news

The good news:

I just saw The Painted Veil at the Avon. It was very, very good in a way you don't see much these days. A little stuffy and too obviously novelistic in its origins, but the visuals were breathtaking and the music was simply gorgous. When a film is that pretty, I don't even care if the story is good (and this one was). Plus Naomi Watts is radiant and nuanced in arguably her best role since Mulholland Dr. Edward Norton is also very good. As is Liev Schriber in his tiny role. All around, this film is a class act. Grade: B+

PLUS I got an added bonus right before the film: the Little Children trailer! Little Children is coming soon to the Avon. I could not be happier about this.

The bad news:

I missed Inland Empire at the Cable Car. Damn. It was actually there for two weeks. But you try finding a whole free evening (friggin 3 hour running time) in the weeks just before and during when your show goes up. It's HARD.

I love the Cable Car, too. I could've actually sat through the whole film on those comfy couches.

The good news:

Brown's Rocky Horror auditions are today and tomorrow. I'm so excited.

The bad news:

I'm SICK. This is very, VERY bad. If I cannot sing by tomorrow evening, there will be hell to pay.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

oh yeah, the BAFTAs...

I don't have much to say about these. Basically, I am through with this year's award season, other than the continued excitement over what will win Best Picture.

But anyway... I was surprised and disappointed that neither Emily Blunt nor Michael Sheen managed to win on their home turf. Instead, Jennifer Hudson cements her "mortal lock" status, and Alan Arkin wins his first big award. Is it a sign of things to come? Perhaps not. Sheen and McAvoy probably split the Brit bias vote, leaving Arkin to win with the oscar-correlate vote. Doesn't mean he'll actually win the oscar over Murphy, who wasn't nominated here. But this award cements him as Murphy's main competition, which helps. More anti-Murphy votes will be thrown his way.

Cool to see Greengrass win the BAFTA. I would've thought United would win Best British Film, but they have him this award instead. Nice.

Also nice to see The Last King of Scotland get some love outside of Forest Whitaker... though I watched it again the other night, and it isn't nearly as great as I thought the first time... oh well. It's still cool that other aspects of the film are being recognized, cause Forest certainly wasn't the only good thing about it.

And of course, The Queen took Best Film, as expected... though it didn't win much else.

Its loss to LMS in the screenplay category is particularly telling. If The Queen can't win the screenplay oscar HERE, of all places, then I doubt it can win the oscar. It seems that to most people, The Queen = the Helen Mirren show. Period.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Now it's back to my busy busy life. Gaaaaaaaaahhhh...


The Departed vs. Little Miss Sunshine

This seems to be what Best Picture is coming down to (though Babel, Letters or even The Queen still wouldn't surprise me much at all).

Departed and Sunshine have shared all the guild love (DGA & WGA for the former, PGA, WGA & SAG for the latter). Everyone likes The Departed, and it's got quite the lock-down on the writing and directing oscars, which says a lot.

But a lot of people LOVE Little Miss Sunshine, and it's now looking likely to edge out The Queen in its own screenplay race, despite the latter's early season dominance of the category (it won LAFCA, NYFCC, NSFC, and the globe... and not just as best original but as THE BEST screenplay of the year).

Really tough call. Right now I'd say The Departed has the edge, only because it has a presence across the board (directing, writing, acting, editing) and is basically a lock to win in writing and directing. But LMS just keeps winning things... I'm feeling a groundswell of love...

We'll see.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

OMG, free books!

Don't worry, I'm not turning into OMGblog (though I do love it).

The story behind this post title is... I just went to the Becker Library at my school (the little library in the theatre building with all the plays), to look at the script and music for Rocky Horror (OMG I have to be in it), and they were totally GIVING AWAY FREE BOOKS. There was a big box of books labeled "give away," and all the books within were up for grabs. Apparently the library had extra copies of all of them, or something. Whatever, I don't care. The point is that I got FREE copies of (in ascending order of awesomeness):

4) the Ibsen play Brand (I had never heard of this, but Ibsen is great)

3) the F. L. Lucas theatre theory book Tragedy (it looks interesting)

2) the Helen Prejean memoir Dead Man Walking (the inspiration for the brilliant film)

1) the Lucille Ball biography Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball (Lucille Ball fascinates me... I was actually thinking of buying this anyway).

Anyway, coming soon to Crumb by Crumb: a post about the play I'm in (maybe), posts about my Devil Wears Prada and Illusionist DVDs (I promised I'd shill), and the beginning of the Altmanathon. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

OMG, it's been a week!

Wow! I've managed to go a whole week without posting. That's amazing. Well, not really, considering I'm busy with school now and I'm in a show that's going up in 2 days. We were in tech aaaaaalllll weekend... insanity. My part is miniscule, but at this point in the game, I still have to be there all the time. It's all fabulous.

Anyway, I just thought I'd drop a line, to confirm that I'm still alive. This is becoming a big week for me: the show is going up, and I finally finished applying to film school. Hopefully I'll hear about that sooner rather than later. I don't like having the next few years of my life be in such limbo.

So yeah, more on the show thing later. I'd link you all to some online material, but I don't think any exists. It's a world premiere! Woo! My school has this New Plays Festival every year showcasing new work by MFA playwrights. Mine is called Common Decency. It's excellent.