Category Archives: Academy Award

What Designer are you wearing? Who cares?! 2012 Oscar Selections!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the Oscars, I hate the Oscars. It is like the Super Bowl at my house. I come back every year and dig in deep and see as many of the films as I can, that is the great part; expanding my mind through the education of a wide range of films. The thing I hate is the stupidity of the Academy and its predictable and political motives. I can get over it easy, because I love films, actors, writers, set designers, etc., etc.

This year I am taking a different approach. Instead of actually predicting who I think will win, I will just tell you my choice in these selected categories. I am typically 50% wrong, it is not because I do not know what I am talking about, it is because I cannot set aside my personal taste and preference when it comes to these “art” films.

Also, follow me on twitter @jwfyler as I “live-tweet” the show. Because you really care about my opinion. I will try to be funny, I make no promises.

 

Sound Mixing

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hugo

Moneyball

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

War Horse

I am not exactly sure how they actually choose the winner in this category. Of the five, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo had the best mix of all the sounds in it. Haha.

 

Sound Editing

Drive

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hugo

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

War Horse

This is the only thing that Drive is nominated for, thus, it should win.

 

Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Hugo

Real Steel

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Rise of the Planet of the Apes did a great honor to the original movies by keeping the same level excellence. CG, backgrounds, all of it was fantastic.

 

Film Editing

The Artist

The Descendants

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hugo

Moneyball

David Fincher’s team knows how to pace a movie, editing is the key to his success. Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall are true wizards.

 

Makeup

Albert Nobbs

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The Iron Lady

Old ladies, women as men, done before. I think this category is a joke this year. The original Planet of the Apes should just hold this honor for all time.

 

Art Direction

The Artist

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

War Horse

More so than the other films on the list, it felt exactly like the time period. Not just as a movie, but the atmosphere, acting, and color were all perfect.

 

Cinematography

The Artist

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hugo

The Tree of Life

War Horse

Back to Fincher’s team. Angles, speed, focus, these things matter more than people ever realize. Jeff Cronenweth started with Fight Club and has kept that level of greatness in all his work.

 

Costume Design

Anonymous

The Artist

Hugo

Jane Eyre

W.E.

I hate the Jane Eyre story, it is so boring. I find that I am of a small percentage here. The film did have great casting and costumes. A classic British tale, it is kind of a shoe in. Michael O’Connor has already won for The Duchess.

 

Foreign Language Film

Bullhead

Footnote

In Darkness

Monsieur Lazhar

A Separation

Sadly, this is the only one I have any experience with. I make a promise do to better in this category next year.

 

Documentary Feature

Hell and Back Again

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Pina

Undefeated

Again, the only one that I actually saw. It was so good though. The story of the Memphis Three, this film is one of three that have been a major factor in bringing this case to light across the whole country.

 

Animated Feature Film

A Cat in Paris

Chico & Rita

Kung Fu Panda 2

Puss in Boots

Rango

Down year for animation. A Gore Verbinski/Johnny Depp film has the best shot in a year when Pixar put out a turd.

 

Music (Original Score)

The Adventures of Tintin

The Artist

Hugo

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

War Horse

John Williams holds the record for most Academy Awards nominations of any living person. He has two in the fight, and I preferred War Horse. This is a situation where I cannot set aside body of work.

 

Music (Original Song)

Man or Muppet

Real in Rio

Only two nominated. Bret McKenzie, of Flight of the Concords fame, wrote a song worthy of The Muppets I grew up with.

 

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

The Descendants

Hugo

The Ides of March

Moneyball

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

I have not read the original material, but of these five films, The Descendants felt the most honest and real. It was an interesting family tail that had depth without being too depressing.

 

Writing (Original Screenplay)

The Artist

Bridesmaids

Margin Call

Midnight in Paris

A Separation

Woody Allen either nails it, or bores me with the same old game. Midnight in Paris was funny, witty, and not over the top. Plus I love the 20s.

 

Actress in a Supporting Role

Berenice Bejo: The Artist

Jessica Chastain: The Help

Melissa McCarthy: Bridesmaids

Janet McTeer: Albert Nobbs

Octavia Spencer: The Help

No stand outs here, in my opinion. That said, Octavia stole the show in The Help and I really hope she wins.

 

Actor in a Supporting Role

Kenneth Branagh: My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill: Moneyball

Nick Nolte: Warrior

Christopher Plummer: Beginners

Max von Sydow: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

This is really tough. Nick Nolte gave his best performance since Blue Chips and I have a soft spot for Christopher Plummer (General Chang). My final decision came down to the fact the Plummer played more out of his element and was marvelous. Nolte was extremely believable, but not an unexpected role.

 

Actress in a Leading Role

Glenn Close: Albert Nobbs

Viola Davis: The Help

Rooney Mara: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Meryl Streep: The Iron Lady

Michelle Williams: My Week with Marilyn

Another hard one. Rooney Mara took over a role that was done very well by Noomi Rapace, but she did it all better. She was brutal, mean, sexy, vulnerable, all the stuff the Academy looks for. Michelle Williams was the perfect Marilyn Monroe, which is a great feat. I loathe Meryl Streep and Glenn Close; they very seldom evoke any emotion in me. I will call a tie between Williams and Mara, loved them both…Oh, I can’t do that? Ok, Michelle Williams, there.

 

Actor in a Leading Role

Demian Bichir: A Better Life

George Clooney: The Descendants

Jean Dujardin: The Artist

Gary Oldman: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Brad Pitt: Moneyball

Most of the time the person who wins this category is an anti-hero of sorts, or an addict, or dying, etc. George Clooney showed me his great acting talent by pulling off a completely normal and real human being in a somewhat unusual circumstance. When I “buy” an actor, is when I no longer see that person, and I can imagine it would be hard to fully commit to someone who has no great conflict, disease, or war and completely “sell” it.

That being said, I think Michael Fassbender should have been nominated for Shame, and should win. He did four movies this year; his body of work is incomparable this year. I know, “the Oscar’s aren’t about body of work”. Really? Scorsese won for The Departed and not Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, or Goodfellas?

Someone else who had a great body of work this year was Ryan Gosling, three great films. Drive is crazy-awesome.

 

Directing

The Artist: Michel Hazanavicius

The Descendants: Alexander Payne

Hugo: Martin Scorsese

Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen

The Tree of Life: Terrance Malick

I think this was the best movie of the year, and in turn Martin Scorsese the best director. Malick’s The Tree of Life was too much of an art piece for me to think that he/it was the best. The other three are on the next level of good.

 

Best Picture

The Artist

The Descendants

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The Help

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

Moneyball

The Tree of Life

War Horse

The most heart, the most interesting, and the most entertaining. A great film about a boy who has fallen in love with film and technology before Hollywood and before computers and smart phones controlled our lives. The awe and wonder of this film struck a chord because I remember falling in love with motion pictures at a young age. I related to this film, thus my choice for Best Picture.

Top 5 Movies of 2010

To round out the first series of Top 5, I have saved the best for last. My Top 5 favorite films of 2010. These may not be the very best films, they may not be recognized by the Academy or Rotten Tomatoes, but I have seen a lot of movies and these accomplished their goal as well as entertained me.

5. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

A movie about a guy in love dealing with his girlfriend’s exes has never been so funny and “epic”. Witty comedy and splashy special effects let you know you are at the movies, this film hides nothing. It gives audiences what they want, nerdy bass players kicking the crap out of Brandon Routh.

This movie is directed by Edgar Wright of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame. Stars Michael Cera in the title role, with a supporting cast that includes Chris Evans, Kieran Culkin, Jason Schwartzman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Anna Kendrick. This ensemble made for great cameos as well as awesome villains; no one steals the show while they all do.

For a generation of boys and girls obsessed with getting to the next boss and winning all the coins, this movie nails it. At the same time funny and awesome. It is Rom-Com meets Capcom.

4. Toy Story 3

I may be partial to this movie, seeing as how I was 9 when the first in the trilogy was released. My timeline fits very neatly with Andy’s, I have my X-Men and Star Wars action figures in the attic waiting for my son. I cried in this movie multiple times, Pixar can do that to grown men.

Directed by Lee Unkrich, written by the Pixar team lead by John Lasseter, this is my favorite Pixar film since Toy Story was released in 1995. This film, as with any good sequel, has matured out of the original story. Woody has grown more laid back; Buzz and Jessie are less adventurous. They all still hold hope that one day they will be played with again. It is a theme I first saw in the John Lasseter original idea of The Brave Little Toaster (1987). What if the things we cherish so much as a child have personalities and life, and what if we outgrow them?

Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, and Ned Beatty top of the cast of the masterful animated adventure. See any Disney Pixar film you can, but most definitely see the Toy Story Trilogy.

3. Black Swan

Hauntingly real and insane at the same time. Having little interest in ballet, this film made me scared of ballerinas. This movie is about a young girl who receives the part of the swan princess in Swan Lake. She performs her version of the white swan flawlessly, it is her black swan that she has trouble letting go of. In an effort to set free her inner darkness for the performance of a lifetime she opens up a side of herself she had been hiding for many years. Obsession is an understatement in this film.

Directed immaculately by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman in the title role, with Vincent Cassel and Mila Kunis. As much as I love Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain, I firmly believe this is Aronofsky’s best work. It is simple and to the point, yet you still leave somewhat baffled by what you just witnessed.

Natalie Portman will win the Oscar. This story of the depth of the human mind reaches a part of you that you may be aware of but do not understand. It is portrayed to perfection by an incredible cast. If you don’t like ballet, go see this movie, you may learn to fear it.

2. Inception

This was the movie I most anticipated this year. After hearing about Christopher Nolan’s idea for this film after The Dark Knight, I knew it would be incredible. A large blockbuster that is crazy-awesome that really boils down to love and loved lost.

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who first bent our minds with Memento (2000). A great ensemble cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, and Cillian Murphy. The best group of actors in a movie since Ocean’s Eleven.

The wonder of this movie is that it is a tragic love story hidden as a heist movie, hidden as a science fiction film, hidden as a summer action smash. You have to watch it over and over again to through all the levels, but they are there. This one didn’t surprise, but it did exceed expectations.

1. The Social Network

600 million people use Facebook, that is a BIG number. This is a dramatic retelling of how that came to be. How a self proclaimed nerd got pissed off one night and started a revolution with a friend. There can be an argument made that this may be the most relevant movie made for its time. I think so. I have a Facebook, chances are you do to. Mark Zuckerberg can be thanked for that. In the film it is balanced between loving him and hating him, but if you stop and think, you will somewhat understand him. He is a genius, he made money on it, anyone else would do the same if given the opportunity.

David Fincher makes great movies that make people think. All the way back to Se7en up to the Oscar darling The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, he loves his craft. He saturates his films with a blurry vision reality, of heightened versions of characters that we want to follow into project mayhem. The young and untested cast sold this film. The three players are Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg, Andrew Garfield as Eduardo, and Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker. These three young men are guaranteed bright futures (Timberlake as an actor). The honesty they each gave to their characters made you forget you were watching actors. That is a sign of a great film.

On a philosophical, emotional, intellectual level, this movie connected with me and obviously many others. Great pace, great vision, great acting. The most perfect film of 2010.

Honorable mentions

6. True Grit

7. The King’s Speech

8. Kick-Ass

9. The Town

10. Tron: Legacy

Top 5 Performances 2010

The first part of this inaugural 3-part series is Top 5 Performances by actors (actresses) in 2010.

5. Jeff Bridges is suddenly very popular. Again. Most people who have recent memory of Bridges think of him as “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski, a masterpiece by the Coen Brothers. This year, after winning an Academy Award, he returns as the great-great-great grandfather of the dude, Rooster Cogburn. Another Coen Brothers film, True Grit is more an adaptation of the novel by Charles Portis, then a remake of the John Wayne classic. In the film a young girl is out for revenge for her father’s murder and she hires Marshal Cogburn to help her in this, despite is unkempt appearance, foul attitude, and willingness to bend to rules, he is a man with “True Grit”. While the character is from a novel and not an original, Bridges makes it feel new and add that to the dialogue, pace, and tone of the Joel and Ethan Coen, you get a wonderfully true performance. This is what Jeff Bridges does best, honest and heartfelt acting, true to form; he nails nearly every performance he ever does. This is no exception.

I will also mention his performance in Tron: Legacy, a perfect sequel to the Disney classic. In this movie Bridges returns as the hero, Flynn, who is now stuck in digital frontier he helped create. His son must come to his rescue some 20 years later. The moment you realize that Bridges gives his all is in the end when you see his face and his pain and love are perfectly mixed as he must save his son and destroy his creation. Even in this “popcorn” movie, Bridges goes all out.

4. Jesse Eisenberg has been in three movies I have seen. These are Adventureland, Zombieland, and The Social Network. Except for the last one, he was easily written off, good, funny, and not memorable by any means. Then this year we waited for yet another David Fincher film that would touch a nerve. The Social Network did just that, being part of a generation who barely remembers before we could check a girl’s “relationship status”, it was amazing to see where that very idea was born. This film, which takes many liberties with the story of Mark Zuckerberg and the birth of Facebook, seems the most modern of films in recent memory. Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg with a pace and tone of the genius that he obviously is. While the attitude may be a bit contrived, I believed every second of story, from being broken up with and blogging about it, to the lack of interest in breaking one million users. You never hate the character, you barely feel sorry for him either, you simply understand him, somewhat, and because you have Facebook and you now appreciate how it came to be. Eisenberg will not win an Academy Award, but being cast in a Fincher film is a major step in the right direction. I applaud his performance, and continue to watch this movie over and over again.

3. Hailee Steinfeld came out of nowhere. Of all the performances this year, this one was unexpected. In True Grit, Mattie Ross is narrator, heroine, and driving force behind the chase for justice. This 14 year old girl fits perfectly into this western world of Arkansas and the Oklahoma Territory; she stands her ground with Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper. As good as Bridges is in the film, Steinfeld is better. Having read the book a week before seeing this film, she embodies what Portis wrote. She is not whining, but determined and driven to get the revenge that will not satisfy her after her father’s death. Steinfeld has a bright future and like so many of the young actors this year, she has benefited from working with great directors and will hopefully continue to do so.

2. Colin Firth is King George VI. Having little knowledge of the British monarchy during World War II, I found this piece of historical fiction both entertaining and very interesting. Firth is the Duke of York, second son of King George V, he has a severe speech impediment which has embarrassed him most of his life. In an age of radio broadcasts across the country and the world, the prince is at a great disadvantage when it comes to public speaking. His old brother abdicates the thrown due to marrying a divorced woman, and Albert (his birth name) is forced to be crowned King of England. Firth plays this out smoothly, as do his peers Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush, this film shows a modern king who is in the shadow of his father and brother and who’s only friend is an eccentric linguist, Firth embodies this king and shows his humanity. He is funny, noble, brave, and angry and you believe Firth has a real fear of speaking and has a hard time handling emotions of any sort. By far the best performance by any actor in a leading role, obviously the critics and the Hollywood Foreign Press agree.

1. Natalie Portman has dedication and heart, so much so, it is scary in Black Swan. Portman portrays a young ballerina who competes to be the swan princess, her white swan is clean and perfect, and it is her black swan that is not sensual, devious, and dark enough. The greatest performance by any actor is when you completely forget that they are acting and you believe you are seeing something completely different. This is nearly impossible to do, but Portman does it so flawlessly. We believe she is insecure, obsessive, and that she is going crazy. Darren Aronofsky sets the tone, the lighting, the angle, and Portman takes you into the psyche of young woman who will give everything for the greatest performance of her life. It is apparent that Portman will win all the awards, and I rightly agree. Her performance is the best performance by any actor, male or female.