Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My OTHER favorite moment of the night:
Oscar-winning (!!!) "Falling Slowly" live

Look how much applause the film gets in the intro. I'm so glad the film has lots of fans.

I think the acoustics gave Markéta a little too much volume (sorry Mar... I love you, but this particular song just works better when you're supporting Glen... though your piano was gorgeous). I also don't like how the song was shortened for the broadcast (it's longer in the film).

But look at Glen during his close-ups. He clearly knows millions of people are watching him, and its very endearing. Luv ya Glen (and other Glenn, too!). How wonderful for them to have gotten this opportunity.

But the best thing about this song (I think) is that it actually works better in an intimate setting, without all the pomp, and lights, and cameras. It's about the connection between the two musicians (note how they put all those guitars in the background, in some kind of weird attempt to evoke and/or imitate the music store scene).

Still, I loved this performance. In fact, one of my friends at my oscar party was converted on the spot. She'd never heard of Once, but after hearing this, she said, "that music is beautiful, they should win." And they did.

Labels: ,

Monday, February 25, 2008

And now for the most deserving winners, and the best moment of the night, bar none:

I love them! The crowd loves them! Look how happy the audience is! Look how cute and appreciative Laura Linney is! This is like the happiest oscar moment ever. I just had to get it up here to share, before it gets taken down.

And for balance:

I still prefer her BAFTA speech (and outfit), but this was classic. Go, Tilda, Go!

Look how shocked Cate Blanchett is when Cotillard wins the oscar. And what is going on with Julie Christie?

I realize that for some, this clip only reopens wounds that are better off left to heal. You guys don't have to watch it.

But for those who ARE watching, pay special attention to Cate Blanchett. Isn't it funny how she's even more shocked and elated than Cotillard is? Also, Julie Christie seems not to react at all until after the whole name is read out. Just after "Marion", she sort of freezes, before acting happy a moment later. Cynics would say she's pissed, and needs a moment to calculate before putting on her game face. But I think she probably just didn't hear the name. Marion, of course, displays the requisite shock and awe, while classy Linney and Page are subdued and gracious.

I wasn't a big fan of the speech, to be honest. It was a bit too "OMG, I'm SO shocked and happy and girly I don't even know what to say!" for my taste (shades of Halle Berry). I prefer winners who know the game, know the award doesn't mean ALL that much, and are a little bit above it, while still showing class and gratidute. Go ahead, Cotillard fans, come at me with your pitchforks.

I guess I should really check out that performance, huh?

Don't worry, I will.

Guy meets Girl, and beautiful music ensues:
why Once is more than enough

I'll just come right out and say it: Once was my favorite film of last year.

I'm saying this now cause I don't know when the hell I'll ever get around to making a top ten list. Hell, I still haven't made one for '06. But I wanted to get this out there while people still cared.

For the record, I didn't think Once was #1 material when I first saw it. I thought it'd be sitting somewhere in my top five, but with writing, directing and acting that I still can't justify as nomination-worthy, could I really justify calling it the year's best film?

The answer turned out to be a resounding "yes", for it has lingered in my heart like no other. Or at least, like no other film last year. I of course haven't seen all I plan to see, but I don't expect anything to overtake it. It's just got that special magic (yes, Glenn, IT REALLY DOES). Getting to know this film was like falling in love... the first time I saw it, something caught my eye... I wasn't quite expecting it, and didn't know what to do with it, but I saw enough there to get me interested... so I saw it again... and again... and though we've had our rough spots, I always go back to loving it, more and more all the time. Falling slowly, indeed.

Maybe it's because I'm a musician... or at least, I wanna be. My parents are musicians. My dad still plays and teaches for a living. My mom gave up piano for medicine. But they met in music school and are musicians through and through. I owe my very existence, quite literally, to music. But I stupidly quit piano when I was still young, because I hadn't yet grasped music's significance... and I never picked up any other instrument... so now all I have is my voice. Music is in my blood, but not in my hands.

Thankfully, my voice is almost enough. I've been blessed with an instrument I'm proud of. I have a lot of work to do on it, but I'm convinced it can take me somewhere. Unfortunately, a voice on its own can't take me far. I can't write, or even perform very much, with just my voice. I'm trying, but it's hard. I'm actually considering taking up guitar JUST so I can play and sing "Falling Slowly." There are, of course, other perks to knowing guitar, but this song is what might push me over the hump to actually picking up the instrument and learning it.

But anyway, enough about me; back to the film. Even beyond the music, which is reason enough to love it, it has a distinct magic about that's hard to describe. It boasts no impressive production values or technical virtuosity, but it's one of the most heartfelt films I've ever seen. And isn't "heart" the most important thing? Isn't that why we make films and tell stories in the first place? I'd like to think so.

The trendier, more universally "critically acclaimed" films this year pride themselves on their stark nihilism. No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood (probably my #2 and #3, respectively) are impressive indeed, and disturbing to the core, but Once offers more than that. It doesn't shy away from the unpleasantness in the world - it's touted as a "feel-good film" but it's a stretch to call it "happy" - but it offers a brief respite from said unpleasantness. In many ways, it's a cute little Irish Dancer in the Dark, without the bludgeoning.

When Glen and Marketa discover each other in the music store, something happens. I see in this scene a metaphor for creation, and indeed, for life itself. Out of the mess of madness and disorder and senselessness (notice the curious emptiness before guy meets girl), order is imposed, connections are made... between notes, moments, and hearts. The backsliding of the modern world is reversed for an instant. The sinking boat points back toward home. Life becomes worth living again. While these two make music, they feel alive, and so do we.

That they must eventually part is made all the more painful by the beauty they share so fleetingly. But thankfully, on film (or maybe video, this time), that beauty can last forever.

Labels: , ,

wrap-up of various oscar things

So, overall, YAY. What a fun show. And I went to a party for once, too. I got 17 predictions correct, which is pretty much average on the online obsessive oscar nut meter, but very very good in lamens' world. My score of 17 was more than enough to win my party's oscar pool, where the next highest score was 14. Yay! I actually won a prize! A $20 gift certificate to AMC theaters. Awesome. My friends say I should gamble on the oscars for money.

Also, my #1 dream came true!!! And it was WONDERFUL. I love Tilda Swinton and that performance so much. Of course now, since they always show the one clip where her American accent is muddy and her Britishness shows, I am questioning her complete worthiness, due to accent issues. But I just tell myself Karen Crowder spent her early childhood across the pond and hasn't entirely lost the dialect and is trying to hide it. And anyway, 80% of the time, her accent's spot on.

And my #1 nightmare did not happen! Once won!!! And not only that, but the performance was fab - a sort of hush came over the party as "Falling Slowly" played, such is its power - and then Marketa first tried to say thank you and failed (which was totally cute, if frustrating) and then was allowed back onstage to give her speech later! SO incredibly cute. Has that EVER happened before? I have never seen it happen. So cute. I almost died. And her speech was so lovely. Makes me wanna be a singer/songwriter, it does.

Julie Christie's loss saddened me slightly, since I'd been defending her chances so vigorously over in Nat's comments. But I haven't even seen La Vie En Rose, so I can't comment (even though I did, repeatedly... hardy har har), and I also wasn't quite as crazy in love with Christie as some people. It just would've been cool to see her with bookend oscars 42 years apart.

So yeah, yay for Bardem (always sexy) and Day-Lewis (always endearing). Yay for Diablo Cody's dress and tattoo. Yay for Once's song win (and all the songs, really... I was one of those who thought that all the performances were good). Yay for random surprises like Golden Compass winning visual effects (I was not a fan of the film, but the effects were choice), Sweeney Todd winning art direction, Bourne Ultimatum sweeping, etc.

And most of all, yay for movies. I'd been feeling a bit lost in film school lately, and this helped me remember why I'm there. I'll figure out my niche someday... for now, at least I know I'm in the right field. Show business forever.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

OMG, can this PLEASE happen again?

"Proof that I'm astonished, I would never have worn this skirt."


I love how on the surface, this speech makes very little sense, and yet it is somehow perfect. I wouldn't change a word.

"make some semblance of gainful employment gesture"


UPDATE: OMG, something I'd never noticed before: when Tilda wins, just before she gets up, you can see her mouth the word "fuck." It's amazing.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Independent Spirit Award predictions

I wish I could watch these, but it seems they're only on the IFC channel, which I don't get. Meh.

BEST FEATURE: Juno (alt. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
Early on, this seemed to be I'm Not There's award to lose (at least in my mind), but Haynes' last film won here, and his new one hasn't broken into the mainstream (which is what a film really needs to win here, despite all the pomp about being independent and "edgy"). I say it goes to this year's breakout indie hit Juno, though a Diving Bell win is certainly possible.

BEST DIRECTOR: Julian Schnabel (alt. Jason Reitman)
I'm predicting a split decision on feature/director. Reitman could win along with his film, but then again, Schnabel could win with OR without his film. He's maintained a high profile all season, and has won the globe, though he can't win the oscar. That seems like a perfect recipe for a spirit win.

BEST FIRST FEATURE: The Lookout (alt. 2 Days in Paris)
The Lookout is the only one I've heard of, hence my prediction. But who doesn't love Julie Deply? Hence, my alternate choice.

BEST SCREENPLAY: Ronald Harwood (alt. Tamara Jenkins)
At first I thought they'd give it to Jenkins, who's also nominated for directing. After all, she should win something, shouldn't she? But then I remembered how they shafted Nicole Holofcener in this category when she was also nominated for directing. So let's say this goes to Ronald Harwood for his acclaimed Diving Bell script... which means he'll lose the oscar tomorrow.
WRONG! My alternate won. Shoulda stuck with my first instinct...

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY: Diablo Cody (alt. Kelly Masterson)
Easiest call of the night. Though I suppose they might throw Masterson a bone after her oscar snub... but really, no. This is all Juno's. And it's not even an oscar kiss of death, since it's best FIRST screenplay, and not the full-fledged screenplay category (Crash, I believe, won this award, too).
RIGHT! (duh)

BEST FEMALE LEAD: Ellen Page (alt. Angelina Jolie)
I think Page has this all wrapped up for anchoring the big indie hit of the year (plus look, she's EDGY!). But a Tang Wei win would be really cool. And a Jolie win nice consolation, after her oscar snub. Still, Page will win. So kiss her oscar chances goodbye.

BEST MALE LEAD: Frank Langella (alt. Don Cheadle)
This one's hard. None of these are up for the oscar, or were even considered, really. Hoffman had a globe nom, and somehow managed to be nominated here without Laura Linney. But I'm not feeling him for the win. Leung or Cheadle could take it, I suppose, but I'm going with Langella, who seems to have a combo of sentiment + "look he's slumming in a little indie", which could win it for him.
WRONG! Shoulda gone with the obvious choice. What was I thinking?

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE: Cate Blanchett (alt. Jennifer Jason Lee)
This one will go to Blanchett, which I guess means she won't win the oscar? That's the most persuasive argument I can think of for why her oscar chances aren't good. Meanwhile, JJL and Tomei jockey for runner-up positioning, but I think it's a moot point, really. Blanchett has it sewn up.
RIGHT! (another "duh")

BEST SUPPORTING MALE: Irfan Zahn (alt. Marcus Carl Franklin)
I really wanna predict Marcus Carl Franklin here, but I think it's more likely to go to the acclaimed performance of Irfan Kahn (Film Bitch nomination), who's had quite a year.
WRONG! Chiwitel Ejiofor won for Talk to Me. Maybe if I'd seen that film, I would've seen this coming.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Janusz Kaminski (alt. Rodrigo Prieto)
...for Diving Bell and Lust, Caution respectively. I want to predict Lust, Caution here, but my brain is telling me this goes to the showy, oscar-nominated work on Diving Bell.
RIGHT! (duh #3)

BEST FOREIGN FILM: Once (alt. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days)
For this one, I'm just going with my heart. Once MUST win something here. It's about as indy as they come. I was really bummed that it didn't qualify for the John Cassavetes (i.e. dirt cheap production) award because it was considered foreign. So please let it win in foreign. This category has a history of awarding english language productions (I believe Dancer in the Dark won here in the year of Crouching Tiger), so I'm crossing my fingers.
RIGHT! (and boy am I happy)

p.s. Did Diving Bell not qualify or what? Since it's up for Best Feature? Could they be a little less transparent about how this is really just a ghetto category for films they don't find worthy of the big awards? Ugh.

8 right, 3 wrong... not bad for the crazy spirits. I should've gotten actor and screenplay, though. For some reason I felt compelled not to go with the obvious choices. Meh.


Final Oscar predictions

PICTURE: No Country for Old Men (alt. Juno)
RIGHT! Duh. But can I just say that I loved when Scott Rudin thanked his partner and called him "honey." That was totally cute.

DIRECTOR: The Coen Bros (alt. Paul Thomas Anderson)
RIGHT! Double duh.

LEAD ACTOR: Daniel Day-Lewis (alt. Johnny Depp)
RIGHT! Triple duh.

LEAD ACTRESS: Julie Christie (alt. Marion Cotillard)
WRONG! It was Cotillard after all. Oh well. Color me stupid. Looks like deglam and biopics still carry the day. If you've got both, you're unbeatable.

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Javier Bardem (alt. Hal Holbrook)
RIGHT! He's such a sexy, sexy man.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Tilda Swinton (alt. Ruby Dee)
RIGHT! And oh how sweet it feels. Can I just say that I was predicting her even before the BAFTA win? I knew they'd look to her as a token win for Clayton. But whatever man, she still won.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Juno (alt. Ratatouille)
RIGHT! Easy. Though I do actually feel that Ratatouille may have been in second place, what with Tilda providing the token win for Clayton.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: No Country for Old Men (alt. There Will Be Blood)
RIGHT! Making my "big 8" stat 7/8, as usual. Anyway, this was a good script. Good for them.

ANIMATED FEATURE: Ratatouille (alt. Persepolis)
RIGHT! Well deserved. Not much else to say.

ANIMATED SHORT: Peter and the Wolf (alt. I Met the Walrus)
RIGHT! I must confess, I just copied this one from Kris Tapley... and I should've copied his documentary feaure prediction, too, cause it was right.

LIVE ACTION SHORT: The Tonto Woman (alt. At Night)
Ummm... I honestly don't remember what won this one, so I don't know if I was right. I think I missed it, though.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: No End in Sight (alt. Sicko)
WRONG! And my alternate was wrong, too. Taxi to the Dark Side just sounded like too random a title for a winning film... and No End in Sight had a lot of buzz... but oh well.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT: Freeheld (alt. Salim Baba)
RIGHT! I think I also copied this one from Kris Tapley.

FOREIGN FILM: The Counterfeiters (alt. 12)
RIGHT! Just went with the consensus here.

EDITING: The Bourne Ultimatum (alt. No Country for Old Men)
RIGHT! The one Bourne win I actually saw coming. I knew they'd feel awkward giving an oscar to Roderick Jaynes.

ART DIRECTION: There Will Be Blood (alt. Atonement)
WRONG! Sweeney Todd takes it. I totally didn't see that coming. But good for it, I guess.

COSTUME DESIGN: Elizabeth: The Golden Age (alt. Atonement)
RIGHT! This one I did see coming. Marie Antoinette's win last year proved that non-acclaimed films can win here if they've got pretty period clothes on their side (bonus points for dressing queens). I mean, I loved, Marie, but you know... most didn't. And also, boy were those Elizabeth costumes intense. Yikes.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: There Will Be Blood (alt. No Country for Old Men)
RIGHT! The Deakins split gives it to Elswit. Go me.

ORIGINAL SCORE: Atonement (alt. Ratatouille)
RIGHT! Atonement's token win comes here, just as I thought.

ORIGINAL SONG: Once (alt. August Rush)
RIGHT! YEEEEEESSSSSS. I love this song very very much.

SOUND MIXING: Transformers (alt. No Country for Old Men)
WRONG! Kevin whatshisname goes emptyhanded for a 21st time. Ouch.

SOUND EDITING: Transformers (alt. No Country for Old Men)
WRONG! So it's Bourne, not the robots, that sweeps the board in the techs. I guess that's good, since it got better reviews (I didn't see either).

VISUAL EFFECTS: Transformers (alt. Pirates: At World's End)
WRONG! How very random for Golden Compass to triumph here over Transformers. Did ANYONE see this coming? But I guess it's good that films with good effects can win here despite critical and commercial indifference. The F/X people did great work, even if the film around them didn't hold together.

MAKEUP: La Vie En Rose (alt. Pirates: At World's End)
RIGHT! Nice to see people realizing that Cotillard didn't do it all herself.

My #1 dream: Swinton takes the stage.

My #1 nightmare: Once loses best song.



Monday, February 18, 2008

Which Eric Bana is your favorite?






















It's official. Eric Bana takes the gold.

I gave it a lot of time, and nothing budged. This man is your choice. In what can no longer really be called an upset, Eric Banadinovich slides past James Dean to become the hottest of them all. Stunning.

Back in the early days of the tournament, I'd never have guessed this as the outcome. I watched incredulously as The Bana beat Viggo (!), then Hugh (!!), then Russell (well...), but not until he beat Jake did I really take notice. He was starting to look unbeatable. Whereas Dean had trouble picking off Paul Rudd. So there you have it: Eric Bana is our winner.

I gotta admit, he does have pretty amazing hair. And that body... mmm... and yeah, you can't really quibble with that chiseled face either. So I'm not complaining.

GOLD: Eric Bana
SILVER: James Dean
BRONZE: Ralph Fiennes

...with Ewan finally finding himself in 4th.

Not how I expected it to go down.

But wanna know something funny? I'm actually now seeing a boy named Eric. Crazy, right? No, he's not as hot as Bana. But the timing and parallel names smack of cosmic connections.

Anyway, for all you Bana lovers, a treat: 10 new Bana pics, each demonstrating a new trait of his. He may be boring to some, but his biggest fans tout his great range. We'll now be exploring it through pictures.

And finally, thanks for playing! This was fun. But I'm glad it's over.

Labels: ,


TOTALLY RANDOM: Top Five Films of the Decade

I was just thinking about this for some reason, and the five I came up with without thinking too hard are:

Brokeback Mountain
Dancer in the Dark
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Far From Heaven
Moulin Rouge!

There were other great films, but these five are just sticking with me as the most innovative, memorable, unique, ambitious, and just eminently watchable (i.e. true modern classics). I'd give an honorable mention (and general shout out) to the whole LOTR trilogy. But none of them on their own can quite crack this list of five, in my mind. Mulholland Dr. is also really something, but I rarely get the urge to watch it again, and whole stretches of it kinda bore me, so I can't quite include it.

Notice that Dancer is in bold, because I think it's still the winner in any "best of the decade" contest. That part's easy. That film is pure divinity. But I can't really rank the other four... it's just too hard. No order makes sense to me. So let's just call this my nominee list for film of the decade. I'm starting to wonder if any of these will be toppled by decade's end. The last few years have reminded me not to take great years like 2001 and 2002 for granted; they're not all that way. But I hope that by the end of the decade this list could include ten and still have no weak link.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tilda Swinton is FORTY-SEVEN!?!?

WHOA, that is shocking to me. I totally thought she was in her late 30s, maybe 40 (and looked great for that age, too). Just goes to show you that actresses are (almost) always older than you think they are, and somehow look stunningly amazing when by all laws of nature, they shouldn't.

It's not just Michelle Pfeiffer and Julianne Moore. It's all of 'em.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The polls are still open...

...and the outcome still in doubt. Am I talking about the Maine primary? Of course not. Obama wrapped that one up hours ago. I'm talking about the WHO'S HOTTER finals.

I'm pretty sure there are still some regulars who haven't voted, so I'll give them a while longer. The vote totals are close. I don't think I should declare a winner. I'll give it a few more days.

Sunday, February 03, 2008



WHO'S HOTTER: (the finals)
Eric Bana or James Dean?


This is for the gold, y'all. THE final test. The matchup that ends all matchups. The hottest of the hot.

And one of those hottest is this man right here. Eric Bana. The tournament's had more than its share of big, burly men - Viggo, Daniel Craig, Hugh Jackman - but in the end, Eric is the only one left standing.

I think what gives him the edge is that gorgeous sensitivity that shows through. Even when he looks like he'll beat you brains out, the Bana's really just a big teddy bear. He's got the best of both worlds: strength and softness. What fun that could lead to in the bedroom, you say...


...until you set your eyes on this one. Yowza. What more is there to say about James Dean? Thick toussled hair, deep brooding eyes, a face for the ages... he's got it all. Impenetrable cool. Swoon-worthy vulnerability. Legend status.

But is that enough against The Bana? He's done an awful lot better than I thought he would, until know. But now, I don't know what to think. Bana... Dean... it's up to you.

I don't have much else to say on the matter. There have been many posts leading up to this one, so everything's kinda been said. Strange to think it's all almost over. But let's send it out with a bang. VOTE!

Labels: , ,

WHO'S HOTTER: (for the bronze)
Ewan McGregor or Ralph Fiennes?


One of these men will be given the bronze medal for hotness. The contrasts could not be more stark. Ralph (left) is known for villians and anti-heroes. He's a brooder. He offers the choice of a dark, tortured, intellectual, unattainable man. It's a definite "type." He's also British. That adds its own layer of mystique and intrigue (at least for those of us who aren't). And he has an old-fashioned, classical sensibility. If you like 'em brooding, stewing, contained and mysterious, Fiennes is your man.


If, however, you prefer a boyish effervescence, Ewan McGregor is your boy. The polar opposite of Fiennes, Ewan offers a more heart-on-his-sleeve sort of appeal, with a grin on his face and a glint in his eye that could melt even the coldest of hearts. Fearless and versatile, Ewan's just as at home playing with lightsabers as he is being drawn on in the nude. His playful Scottish lilt offers a striking contrast to Fiennes' harsh British cadence. Ewan may not be able to quite pull off the brooding thing (though he tried his damnedest in Young Adam), but he can sing, dance, laugh and fight with the best of 'em.

Interestingly enough, each of these actors' most famous roles saw them in doomed affairs with conflicted women. Fall in love with one of them, and you die... the bliss just can't last. Who'd you die for? Almasy or Christian? Ralph or Ewan?

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 02, 2008

last year's April Fools oscar predictions

So, I only guessed 1 of 5 in most major categories. In picture & director, that one was There Will Be Blood (I knew it would be Anderson's time), and in actor, it was Daniel Day-Lewis, in said film. In original screenplay, it was The Savages (I didn't see Clayton coming, and didn't expect Ratatouille to be as hugely acclaimed as it was... though in retrospect that seems like a "duh"). In supporting actress, the one was Cate Blanchett (very strong bait that could be smelled a whole year away).

Interestingly, the no-brainer double nod for Blanchett came true after all, after many months of looking locked, followed by a few months looking unlikely, and then this latest month being an annoying, foreboding spectre (WHY???).

I got two actress noms correct (Blanchett and Cotillard... it would've been three if Jolie hadn't JUST missed). I also got two adapted screenplay nominees (Blood and Atonement). But I didn't get ANY of the supporting actor contenders, which is a bit of a disappointment for me.

I wish I hadn't so vastly overestimated Golden Age, I'm Not There and Youth Without Youth (was that even released??). I was also blind to the inevitabilty of Atonement in the big category (sigh).

I don't think I'll be doing these next year. They only make me feel inadequate. It's crazy that Nathaniel can guess two or three nominees in each category... I don't know how he does it.