Monday, February 27, 2012

Oscars in Review

Alas, the Oscars have come and gone. The annual party was quit the success and by success I mean I got drunk and predicted fifteen out of twenty-four awards correctly. Spike's formal attire was a hit as well as the vege treats I made. After the Oscars, it seems there is a lull in film. You get a few good ones here and there then the shitty summer blockbusters hit. Don't get me started on that. Today I would like to reflect on this years award show.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how swift and smooth things ran. Sure Billy Crystal is ancient and dull, but his flat routine was a joy compared to Franco & Bland Hathaway. I still think Natalie Portman should get her Oscar revoked for her association with Episode 1-3. Even the speeches were pretty short & sweet. I was incredibly disappointed to see PARADISE LOST 3 lose to a Friday Night Lights ripoff. It just proves that middle-aged white men love football way more than uncovering injustices in the legal system. I can't imagine why?

Of course I was unhappy to see Gary Oldman lose Best Actor, but in my heart I already knew he would not win. His talent is not judged by an award, but by his incredible, long-standing career. He built the mold for method acting and paved the way for people like Christian Bale, Guy Pierce, Daniel Day Lewis, Ed Norton, and Adrien Brody. Oldman has an even longer career ahead of him and will undoubtedly be recognized down the line. Remember, Al Pacino only received his Oscar in 1992 for SCENT OF A WOMAN. That is twenty years after his legendary role in THE GODFATHER. He received what they call a "career Oscar" because let's face it, SCENT OF A WOMAN was a terrible film.

Even Meryl Streep is aware of all the player haters out there. In her acceptance speech she noted that:
"When they called my name I’d had this feeling I could hear half of America going 'oh no…oh c’mon…why…her…again?' But whatever."
Yeah she has like fifty nominations and three statues, but the woman earned them. I guarantee most of these naysayers have yet to see SOPHIE'S CHOICE or KRAMER VS KRAMER. She earned those awards and her talent is boundless. I am more impressed that her brilliance has spanned decades. Meryl always chooses hefty roles. It's inspiring to see such a proficient actress consistently be a leading lady without having to compromise her integrity. She's never had to pose for Playboy or Joan Rivers her face to stay relevant in Hollywood which many actresses unfortunately resort to. Haters gonna hate.

I am surprised to see how many people belittle THE ARTIST for all the awards it received. I suspect many of those critics didn't even see it in the first place. THE ARTIST is an incredible film. People complained it was redundant due to the fact that it was a silent film and in black & white. I think it was the absolute opposite! THE ARTIST celebrates film of the past and future. It's a nod to the beginning of cinema by showcasing all the elements of film we often forget about. It reminds us that music, plot, and emotions play a huge role in creating a film. We only remember this when you remove dialogue and color. THE ARTIST also shows us the future of film and where we can take it.

We forget that film is not just entertainment, it is an art form. We've become so used to big budget bullshit with explosions and sparkly vampires, that we dismiss the true elements that make up a film. Why should we settle for mindless dribble? I think Americans are too distracted by reality TV, CGI effects, and 3D glitz to realize the true art of film. Other countries champion those components which is exactly why France swept the Oscars with THE ARTIST while TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON took home the Razzie.

And then there's Uggie! They say never work with animals or children. I read somewhere that the Academy didn't want Uggie to attend the Oscars. Why, you ask!? Because they didn't want a dog to get so much attention. If they can let a couple hacks like JLo and Jonah Hill on the red carpet why not Uggie! They even let Nick Nolte roam around without a leash. Uggie had a huge role in the film and appeared in almost every scene, yet Gloria Stuart was nominated for her role in TITANIC. A role that only entailed a few minutes of screen time. I think we need to recognize the importance of dogs in our lives. They're not just pets, they're companions (as seen in THE ARTIST). Dogs have so much character and charm. I'll admit, I'm a sucker for movies starring dogs and obviously the Academy is not. I must declare the Academy dogist!

Ok, before I go on and on about dogs, I am going to wrap up this post. I hope everyone had a great time watching the Oscars. And if you haven't seen THE ARTIST, I suggest you go to the theater as soon as possible. Watching it on DVD will do no justice to the beautiful score. Also, check out PARADISE LOST 3, A SEPARATION, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, BULLHEAD, THE TREE OF LIFE, and TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY. See you next year!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

2012 Oscar Predictions

It's that time again! I love Oscar season so much. I love it more than Christmas; it's a lot less disappointing. This year offers some interesting nominations. Often times, I think I've really got an idea of who's gonna win and then poof; you get upsets like Heath Ledger or Melissa Leo. Last year, I was certain David Fincher was taking the Oscar for directing THE SOCIAL NETWORK, but it went to David O'Russell for THE KING'S SPEECH. Don't get me wrong, THE KING'S SPEECH was great, but Fincher deserves an Oscar for the incredible catalog he's given us. He might just be the new Scorsese as far as waiting three decades to finally get recognized.

I think my problem is that I get so passionate about my personal favorites, my judgement gets clouded when it comes to how the Academy will vote. I had a near perfect record only once in my Oscar watching career; it was the year CRASH swept the Academy Awards. Since then, my picks have been so so when it comes to the technical awards and screenplays. This year, I will try to put aside my personal opinion and think like a true Academy member. By the way, what does one have to do to become an Academy member? Not to toot my own horn, but I think I'm pretty qualified.

OK, here goes nothing:

Well, this is a no brainer. THE ARTIST will pick this one up as well as a few other categories. It's a wonderful film that I actually saw again this past weekend. The music is outstanding which you would expect since it is a silent film. But, nothing compares to the adorable Jack Russell terrier, Uggie, who has won everyone's heart. Seriously, that dog is amazing and I can't wait to see him in a little tux come Sunday. If you haven't seen this film yet, I suggest to watch it in a theater to really appreciate the score. THE ARTIST is definitely the big contender this season. Too bad Lars Von Trier shot himself in the foot last year and pretty much sealed his fate when it came time to nominate MELANCHOLIA. Such a beautiful film was unfortunately marred by petty controversy which the Academy tends to frown upon. I guarantee you MELANCHOLIA was better than half the nominees in this category. I mean come on, WAR HORSE?

Some people are saying Scorsese has a shot at this one, but I really think it's gonna be THE ARTIST's Michel Hazanavicius who takes the statue. Sure Hazanavicius is a relatively unknown director from France, but THE ARTIST has made such a huge impact in the film world. I'm a big Scorsese fan, yet I still haven't seen HUGO. A family, adventure, dramatic film just doesn't appeal to me even if it came from the mind that brought us GOODFELLAS. I'm sure I will catch it on DVD at some point, but I just don't have any interest in seeing it immediately. I could be wrong, please let me know otherwise! My final answer is still Hazanavicius

It pains me to write this section. I was completely shocked to find out that this was Gary Oldman's first nomination ever! I was certain that he had at least six Oscars by now! How can Anna Paquin have an Oscar at the age of twelve, but one of the greatest actors of our time just now got nominated? I've always loved Oldman. Since the day I saw him on the big screen as Dracula I've been enchanted by his good looks, great hair, and his remarkable acting style. I recently read an interview where he talks about his long career and current nomination. Here's an excerpt from it:

When you read a script, what makes you want to do a film?

It can be many things. It normally is the material and the director. But I can give you a specific example. When I read the script for "Dracula," it had a line in it, he said, "I've crossed oceans of time to find you," I wanted to do the movie for that line. I wanted to say that line to someone. I just thought that was an amazing line, and I thought, Who wouldn't want to say that to someone they loved? And that hooked me.

That line is my absolute favorite line from any film I have ever seen in my life. My cold, little, black, goth heart just melts when he gazes into Winona's eyes and utters that little phrase. You see Gary and I are on the same page, so why can't the Academy get on that page too? All my research so far has led me to believe that Clooney is taking the Oscar even though he already got one in 2006 and this is his seventh nomination. Yeah, the dude from Roseanne has an Oscar. Also, Michael Fassbender was robbed of a nomination in this category for SHAME. The joke is on everyone else because he has his own Oscar that's bigger than any Academy member if you know what I mean.

There's some pretty weak competition when it comes to this category. My research has narrowed it down to Viola Davis for THE HELP or Meryl Streep for THE IRON LADY. I'm gonna go with Meryl even though she gets a fucking Oscar every two years or so. People really like political dramas possibly even more than civil rights films which is why I think Meryl has it this time. However, as much as I despise Kirsten Dunst and her tiny whale teeth she should have been thrown a bone for MELANCHOLIA. I have to admit she showed some serious acting chops in that film.

Kenneth Branagh, Nick Nolte, Christopher Plummer, Max Von Sydow, and Jonah Hill...tell me which one doesn't quite fit in. Another travesty is the fact that Sergio Leone was never even nominated for an Oscar , but the fat kid from SUPERBAD is. Not that he has a chance of winning. This category is going to Christopher Plummer. I would love to see Max Von Sydow, whom I loved in THE EXORCIST and THE SEVENTH SEAL win. Shame on the Academy for nominating Johan Hill! He should be penalized for GET HIM TO THE GREEK and not rewarded for some Brad Pitt movie. If anyone deserved a nomination more than Jonah Hill in this category it was Uggie from THE ARTIST. He was robbed!

All newbies in this category. The reason why I don't think THE HELP will get Best Actress is because I think it will get Best Supporting Actress with Octavia Spencer. I have no personal preference for this category. I'm already bored with this category so I'm moving on.

So much buzz and momentum has built around A SEPARATION that it has to win this category. It's the first Iranian film to win a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. This is definitely a shoe-in. I would love to see Alamo Drafthouse distributed film BULLHEAD win, but that's just not going to happen. By the way, A SEPARATION is currently playing at The Arbor theater if you wanna see it.

Who cares?

I love Woody Allen even though he's a pretentious prick. He makes delightful films that really capture the human spirit whether it be good or bad. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS was really clever and engaging. I really enjoy reading so I just loved all the literary references and characters in this film. Didn't Adrien Brody make a great Dali? And Carla Bruni was absolutely charming. My bet is that MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is taking this one.

Lots of people didn't really get TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY so as much as I'd like to see it take this category, I doubt it will happen. Instead, people want to see Clooney, the self proclaimed bachelor portray a struggling parent. I think THE DESCENDANTS will take the Oscar in this category, but whatever.

At first I thought PARADISE LOST 3didn't stand a chance with all the controversy surrounding the case. Now, I'm beginning to think it has the best odds. Of course I am completely biased since I have closely followed the West Menphis 3 case for several years and I really liked the first two installments of PARADISE LOST. We finally get to see Damien, Jesse, and and Jason on the red carpet instead of behind bars. That's a very surreal thing to think about. I believe PARADISE LOST 3 will win nonetheless.

Again, if MELANCHOLIA was nominated it would have swept this category. That film was just beautifully stunning. Since it was systematically left out, I choose THE TREE OF LIFE. While it was also exquisitely shot, it pales in comparison to MELANCHOLIA. The whole big bang sequence in TREE OF LIFE was pretty astounding.

Well, there you have it folks, there's my predictions. Feel free to tell me what your picks are. We shall find out the results next Sunday. See you at the party!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Deal Breakers

I recently read an article on Badass Digest about movie deal breakers. As in, things that influence a person to never watch a certain film based on these conditions. Feel free to call me a film snob because I have several deal breakers. I have already devoted an entire post to my hatred for remakes. Apparently, this sentiment seems to resound among other film fans.I watch about 15-20 films a month on average so I do not have time to waste on rubbish I have no interest in like the latest romantic comedy (I hate ALL romantic comedies.) starring Katherine Heigl. For me when it comes to film, it's not about quantity, it's about quality. I know what I like & I know what I don't like. If that makes me a snob, then so be it! Here are a few of my deal breakers and examples of those deal breakers. This is all a matter of opinion; I don't expect anyone else to totally agree with me. Like everything else, there's exceptions to the rule. Feel free to air your own grievances.

Fish out of water
The fish out of water theme is a formula that will not die. This film scenario is almost painful for me to watch and I find it a bit offensive because of the stereotypes it perpetuates. Sure it's lighthearted fun, but let's look at the bigger picture. It mostly exists in comedies which means in the end, the metaphorical fish will finally "fit in." Until then, he/she will be a bumbling goof for the audience to have a good laugh at. This theme also plays on society's masochistic need to humiliate nonconformists. Some examples of atrocious fish out of water films include, but are not limited to: CROCODILE DUNDEE, BORAT, BIG, THREE MEN & A BABY, SPLASH, PRETTY WOMAN, and BIG DADDY. Sometimes the fish out of water theme can work with a great script and great directing like LOST IN TRANSLATION or EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. It can even win you an Oscar like MY COUSIN VINNY did for Marisa Tomei.

British Comedy
I know I'm gonna offend some people with this section. I'm sorry, but I hate British Comedy. Actually, I'm not sorry. I've tried at various times in my life to give British Comedy a try and each time I am thoroughly disappointed. I have never like the MONTY PYTHON franchise. I absolutely abhorred SEAN OF THE DEAD and all subsequent films from that team. I just do not find this genre funny or even mildly humorous. To be fair, I am not really a big fan of American Comedies or even Comedies in general. I have trouble with people who are intentionally trying to be clever. It just feels so forced to me. Don't get me started on Saturday Night Live and the films that include SNL cast members. That may have to be a whole other deal breaker!

There's really not much to explaining this deal breaker. I just really fucking hate people breaking out in song. I actually haven't really seen too many musical films; the trailers alone make me cringe. The funny thing is that I don't mind actual musical plays. I've seen a few Broadway shows in New York that were entertaining. However, I'd rather watch paint dry than sit through the PHANTOM OF THE OPERA movie, or CHICAGO, HAIRSPRAY, BURLESQUE, ANNIE, XANADU, MAMA MIA, NINE, SWEENEY TODD (not even Johnny Depp could save that turd) MOULIN ROUGE (actually anything by Baz Luhrmann), FROM JUSTIN TO KELLY, and especially fucking Glee. I do love the Buffy musical episode so I'm a big ball of contradictory.

The Body Swap
Ah, the old body swap formula is another theme that gets tossed around when Hollywood runs out of ideas. It runs pretty parallel to fish out of water themes. With the exception of BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, this idea never works. How often do you hear people walking out of a theater raving about THE HOT CHICK, FACE/OFF, 18 AGAIN, 13 GOING ON 30, VICE VERSA, or THE CHANGE-UP? These movies are usually geared towards children or tweens since they're the only people who don't know any better. Lindsay Lohan's career was founded on the body swap scenario with the FREAKY FRIDAY & PARENT TRAP remakes. The last one she did was JUST MY LUCK and I'd like to have a word with whomever gave the green light to that piece of shit.

Comic books adaptations
I tend to avoid comic book films even if it's a character or story I actually enjoy. There are exceptions to this rule though. Tim Burton's BATMAN films were legendary and IRON MAN (the first one) was better than I expected. Christopher Nolan's DARK KNIGHT (one and two) have been decent. Although, I've already declared a protest on the third installment due to the casting of Bland Hathaway as Catwoman. I guarantee you she will be worse than Halle Berry. Most of you know my stance on the Heath Ledger role ( don't get me started again) and I will argue to the death about how his posthumous Oscar was incredibly undeserving. My main problem with comic book films is the continuity. I have collected comic books on & off since I was ten years old so I am fairly versed in the DC and Marvel universes. I realize decades of storyline is hard to fit into an hour and a half long film, but most attempts I have seen still fall short. The characters have no dept! They were most likely developed by some middle aged asshole screenwriter who's never even picked up a comic book in his life. IRON MAN 2 was a mistake; there was just too much going on and too many characters introduced. They do this to appeal to a large audience, I realize. The worst adaptations have been the SPIDERMAN franchise (shame on you Sam Raimi), X-MEN (all of them), 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, BATMAN & ROBIN, BATMAN FOREVER, CATWOMAN, FANTASTIC FOUR, GHOSTRIDER, THE HULK, JONAH HEX, PUNISHER, DAREDEVIL/ELEKTRA, and let's not forget TANK GIRL. Last year saw an influx in comic book movies which is only building up to one big circle jerk this summer (THE AVENGERS). I recently witnessed a guy viewing the latest trailer for THE AVENGERS. He muttered to himself, "that's gonna be so fucking awesome!" Then he asked, "Who's the chick in the black outfit?" Any moron with an ounce of knowledge in the Marvel world knows who Natasha Romanova is. Why would you be so excited about a movie starring the Black Widow if you can't even recognize her in the fucking trailer?! I presume this is the majority of audience goers which saddens me to no end.

Bottom line, sequels are just unnecessary! They only exist so money hungry studios can squeeze more dough out of the consumer. How often have you been let down by a sequel you had faith in? Come on, let's hear it! It's like expecting dinner at Uchi and getting HEB sushi instead. Let's not even talk about Episode 1-3. Most of the time, the original cast doesn't even appear in the sequel. There's usually a new director and a sub par script to round out this bad idea. Did we really need a sequel to AMERICAN PSYCHO, SPEED, GREASE, THE RING, LOST BOYS, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, THE KARATE KID. JAWS, or SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Even my beloved CADDYSHACK had a sequel with no Murray or Rodney. I can only think of two instances where sequels work and those are THE GODFATHER II and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Remember these examples are about as rare as that albino squirrel on UT campus.

Based on true events
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT made millions on the based on true events idea. Ever since, dozens of other dumbasses in Hollywood have tried to replicate this formula. There's even bigger dumbasses who continue to go see crap like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Based on true events films aren't limited to horror. Let's not forget SOUL SURFER, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, BLACK HAWK DOWN, and the abomination that is TITANIC. The "true events" exist as an outline for a weak script and everything within is unrecognizable or glamorized. Now that I think of it, there's some great based on true events films out there like THE COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER, MOMMIE DEAREST, AMADEUS, GOODFELLAS, CASINO, and ALMOST FAMOUS. I guess my disdain is primarily isolated to found footage horror films. My bad!

Musicians turned actors
Anything starring a musician turned actor is a recipe for disaster. Why do musicians feel like they are entitled to try their hand at acting? You don't often see attorneys who think they can be doctors. The same goes for actors who think they can sing. It usually ends in embarrassment; I'm looking at you Eddie Murphy & Bruce Willis. I think Madonna is the most notorious musician turned actor. She never learned her lesson from WHO'S THAT GIRL, DICK TRACY, or SHANGHAI SURPRISE since she continued on with SWEPT AWAY. Then there's Mariah Carey, Jessica Simpson, J Lo, Britney, Henry Rollins, Whitney Houston, Gene Simmons, and Vanilla Ice. Once in a while someone like Justin Timberlake comes along and gets it right. Also, PURPLE RAIN is the exception to this rule because Prince was basically playing himself.

I also have specific actors and directors that I refuse to patronize. I have come to realize I pretty much hate Judd Apatow and Farrelly Brother films. I am not a big fan of Peter Jackson (except HEAVENLY CREATURES). I also tend to avoid films starring Rachel McAdams (aka the new Meg Ryan), Ryan Reynolds, Jason Stratham (except SNATCH) and Sandra Bullock.

I know I'm forgetting something, but you get the general idea. What are your deal breakers?