Tag Archives: Annie Mumolo

[Review] – This Is 40

6 Jan

This Is 40

Title: This Is 40
Year: 2012
Director: Judd Apatow
Writer: Judd Apatow, based on characters by himself
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Jason Segel, Charlyne Yi, Tim Bagley, Melissa McCarthy, Lena Dunham, Chris O’Dowd, Rob Smigel, Annie Mumolo
MPAA Rating: R, sexual content, crude humor, pervasive language and some drug material
Runtime: 134 min
IMDb Rating: 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Metacritic: 58

I am, like so many others, a devout member of the church of Judd Apatow. What the man has done to change the comedic landscape of our time during the last decade or so really is amazing. From having his hand in some of the most adored cult TV shows in recent memory, from The Ben Stiller Show to The Larry Sanders Show to, of course, the short-lived masterpiece that was Freaks and Geeks, to revolutionizing comedy in the mid 00’s with films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad.

Continue reading

Best of 2011: 20 Screenplays

3 Feb

A whole month after 2011 ended I have wrapped up my yearly rankings, having seen 256 films released in 2011, granting 13 perfect A+ scores and a really superb 76 scores in the A range. To remember the year that was I thought I should start a feature that will hopefully become a yearly thing for me and do a few Best of 2011 posts, choosing my Top 20 films, directing efforts, screenplays, and performances (separated by lead male, lead female, supporting male and supporting female) and doing a post honoring them with a brief paragraph explaining what made each of those 20 options so remarkable and memorable and thus made 2011 a great year for films. The second entry will be my Top 20 Screenplays of 2011:

20. TAKE SHELTER written by Jeff Nichols

Jeff Nichols wrote and directed the magnificent Take Shelter, and he shows such a great confidence as a filmmaker that it’s just astonishing, and this film in particular is one of those that the second it finishes you’ll be wanting to see again. And even though the performances by Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, as well as Mr. Nichols’ direction, take a lot of credit for this film being so good, so too does its screenplay. You never once really know where this film is headed, and what’s best is that it’s created such a great sense of tension that you get a bit scared about where it’ll end up. I thought it was a brilliant script that took its time to create a slowburn effect and gradually reveal its many intricate layers.

19. THE TREE OF LIFE written by Terrence Malick

This film held the 6th spot on my Top 20 Films of 2011, and its screenplay gets a mention in this ranking as well. What’s so impressive about this screenplay is that it could easily also be released as a novel, it’s just so extremely descriptive, going into lengths about those many little details Terrence Malick is know to be a perfectionist over, describing exactly how he wanted the many breathtakingly gorgeous images in his film to look. It’s so immensely rich, full of some really fascinating ideas that demonstrate just how complex and ambitious this film was, good thing for us that they translated to perfection on screen.

18. THE IDES OF MARCH written by George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, based on the play by Beau Willimon

Another film that also cracked my Top 20 Films ranking (at 18th) and that gets that same spot in my Screenplay rankings. The script, which got an Oscar nod, shows why the film was an entertaining, dialogue-driven film. It starts off setting the stage really well, delivering great dialogue and pacing, giving us a great inside look at how political campaigns are ran. The Ides of March is a movie made for actors, certainly, with just quite a lot of character development and more than a few scenes that are all about snappy banter that the film has a hugely talented ensemble deliver. The one thing that’s a bit off and why I didn’t rank it higher is that, for the same reason and the fact that it’s based on a play, it actually feels sometimes like a piece that belongs in a stage. But still, this is a pretty damn good screenplay.

17. A SEPARATION written by Asghar Farhadi

The film that was 15th on my Film rankings gets a mention in the Screenplay one as well, thanks to a seriously powerful script that managed to snag an Oscar nomination, which is rare for a foreign language film. And it’s honestly a terrific screenplay, one that brings forth a lot of seriously powerful ethical questions to be asked by both characters and audiences alike, and that in the domestic drama that it presents it’s tremendously structured to create a really tense environment. So far all 4 of my mentions in this ranking have been written or co-written by the film’s director, which shows how great the writer-director’s visions were in 2011.

16. DRIVE written by Hossein Amini, based on the book by James Sallis

The script for Drive, my fourth favorite film of the year, is great as it is, but what actually elevates it to a category of greatness is what director Nicolas Winding Refn does with it, he kind of strips it down, leaving pretty much just the naked essence of it for us to see. What we then get is a pretty quiet film, in which the imagery says more than words ever could, but in which the words that are actually used just phenomenal. Not to mention that, by not having long explanatory scenes or huge displays of dialogue, the film actually manages to get in quite a lot of plot into its 100 minute running time, which was tremendously well done.

15. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO written by Steve Zaillian, based on the novel by Stieg Larsson

My #3 film of the year had a script by Oscar-winner Steve Zaillian (he won for Schindler’s List), who had the tough task to not only adapt a hugely popular book that was in everyone’s hands not that long ago, but also one that had already been successfully adapted into a great film just a bit over a year ago. Thankfully, the fact that this was being made for big bucks, by a studio, to be consumed by a wider audience, didn’t mean the screenplay was like a sanitized version of the novel, this was as gritty as you could imagine, and the tough scenes are tremendously brought to life by director David Fincher and a hugely talented cast.

14. SHAME written by Steve McQueen and Abi Morgan

Shame is my second favorite film of the year, and Michael Fassbender said that he read the script over 300 times in order to really get immersed in his character, so you can be sure the script dealt a lot with its characters. Written by director Steve McQueen with Abi Morgan the script is much more straightforward narratively than Mr. McQueen’s previous film, which was the excellent Hunger, and much more plot-driven too. Which is good, but still, it’s a tough script to get through because of its very graphic nature and harsh look at addiction, but just how perfectly it delves into the day-to-day routine of Brandon, the lead character, and the inner hell he goes through because of his sex addiction, is incredible.

13. MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE written by Sean Durkin

Yet another film written by its director, and another script from a film that was in my personal Top 20 (it landed at number 10). The script is sensationally well-structured, the back-and-forth technique it uses to go between the memories of Martha about her time in a cult to the present day is impeccable done, because it gets to the point in which, much like the character herself does, the line between past and present gets a bit blurry, which helps us get to feel her mental state. The film had great performances and direction, but a lot of it came from the script too, that scene in which John Hawkes’ character sings a song at the cult’s ceremony is incredible in how much narrative momentum it achieves. Just an impeccable debut, both writing and directing-wise, from Sean Durkin.

12. THE ARTIST written by Michel Hazanavicius

Yes, it’s a screenplay for a silent film, with title cards to indicate dialogue, with actors moving their lips even though nothing is coming out of them. And yet it’s so magical and enchanting and fresh and unique and unlike anything we’ve ever seen before; it’s a screenplay that pays homage to a great era of Hollywood by creating some really memorable scenarios and characters that don’t really need words to come alive and for us to connect with them. Michel Hazanavicius also directed the film, so he knew exactly what he wanted to get; and boy did he get it, I ranked the film as the 8th best of 2011.

11. HUGO written by John Logan, based on the book by Brian Selznick

Yes this was my favorite film of the year and the screenplay for it doesn’t even crack the Top 10. Which is not to say it’s bad, not at all, and it deservedly got an Oscar nod for John Logan, but it just wasn’t as masterful as the film itself. Still, how it managed to get George Méliés’ story within the frame of Hugo’s actually made this a much more emotional film than if it had been a straightforward biopic of Méliés. I loved this, I loved how great a love letter to cinema it was and how great an innocent a kids movie it was at the same time.

10. WIN WIN written by Thomas McCarthy, story by Thomas McCarthy and Joe Tiboni

Win Win is a beautiful little film, one that just makes you want to experience it again after you finish it, and it all comes from the fact that Tom McCarthy is the kind of writer-director that is genius at portraying real people and real emotions. The tone throughout the entire film is so firmly grounded in its screenplay, one that tells a story that’s actually quite easy for you to read and guess where it’s going next, which is good because it enables you to get a glimpse at all the perfectly nuanced aspects of the film. Funny, low-key and, most importantly, terrifically honest, Win Win is a brilliant example of screenwriting.

9. MARGIN CALL written by J.C. Chandor

One of the biggest and most welcome surprises on Nomination morning was to sound of J.C. Chandor’s name being called out when they nominated this screenplay, his debut feature as both a writer and director. It’s the first script that actually knows how to tackle the subject of our most recent economic depression, a script about the power of money and greedy men. It starts off tremendously strong and follows through with a huge array of characters and situations that are really tightly written by a guy that certainly knows a lot about the stuff he’s writing about. Subject matter aside, this is a script done by a writer who knows that good characters in high stakes situations are exactly what makes for good drama, and he gave us the timeliest and most high stake situation of recent times. Just a job really well done.

8. TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY written by Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan, based on the novel by John le Carré

I’ve said that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy may just have been the smartest film of all 2011, it has a lot of moving pieces and it works like a puzzle full of paranoia, just so intricately plotted. The fact that the script got an Oscar nomination is just really well deserved, because balancing all the facts and events and characters is not easy at all, and you’ll have to pay close attention while you see the film to really get it, but it successfully manages to balance it all out, just a seriously fantastic adaptation of a classic of espionage literature. And yes, Gary Oldman as Smiley is the shit.

7. THE DESCENDANTS written by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Alexander Payne already has an Oscar for writing Sideways, a hugely deserved one, and he may be getting another one soon for the adaptation of the Kaui Hart Hemmings novel he did alongside Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, which became the fifth best film I saw all of last year. What’s so amazing about how this script works is that it takes all the time it needs to slowly, and beautifully, unfold. From the very get-go there’s something about these characters that feels incredibly human, and when the people, the places and the emotions on-screen feel real it’s just incredibly easy to lose yourself in them. How the screenplay manages to so perfectly mix comedy and drama is truly outstanding, achieving a balance that makes every laugh and every tear feel earned.

6. 50/50 written by Will Reiser

I think this script is terrific; I think the tone it achieves, the structure of it, the characters it crafts, everything I thought was just sensationally achieved. Will Reiser of course wrote this basing it on his own experience with cancer, and I guess it takes a person who has actually gone through something like to be able to achieve this mix between the funny and the serious, to walk such a fine tightrope and come out so successfully. This was just a seriously smart screenplay that never once went for the sort of clichés you might think fitting for this kind of story, it never once wanted to leave you crying, and it’s because of that, because it wasn’t manipulating, that it earns your tears, just as greatly as it earns your laughs.

5. BEGINNERS written by Mike Mills

I saw Beginners for the first time back in June, and I’ve seen it I think three extra times since then, and every single one of those times I feel like it’s this extremely awesome kind of surprise. Even though I’ve seen it before and know exactly what’s coming next, it manages to surprise me, it manages to put a smile on my face. And that all starts with the impressive script by Mike Mills, who makes even familiar moments feel truly fresh, and he achieves that because every feeling on screen from his characters, every exchange, feels spectacularly honest. From the great structure, going from the past to the present, to the great voiceover, to the subtitled musings of the adorable Jack Russell terrier, Beginners is a treat. And if you haven’t done so yet, I urge you to experience it.

4. MONEYBALL written by Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, with story by Stan Chervin, based on the book by Michael Lewis

In 2010 Aaron Sorkin adapted a book about Facebook into the masterpiece that was The Social Network and rightfully won an Oscar for his work, it was by far the best script of that year. Now he had the task to yet again adapt a book that would seem unadaptable, one about baseball statistics, collaborating on a screenplay by Steve Zaillian (who also wrote the #15 on this list), and penning out one that would result in the film that I named the seventh best of last year. The screenplay is just so tightly-written, and it’s typical Sorkin, where people just really intelligently talk really fast and about fascinating stuff. I love the fact that films this smart are being made, ones that rely just on solid words and actors being pitch-perfect at delivering them.

3. YOUNG ADULT written by Diablo Cody

Diablo Cody wrote one of my favorite screenplays of the past decade with the one she did for Juno, the name of this blog “artfully bedraggled” even comes from a description she makes at the beginning of it, so you can say that I’m a bit of sucker for her style of writing. Though I still prefer Juno to this one, I do believe that this may be her most mature effort to date, a story that’s really funny, but that’s also considerably dark and more than a little bit messed up. Mavis Gary is an unlikable character and Cody never once feels compelled to make us sympathetic towards her, but instead never once lets her off the hook, and crafts a really piercing character study. This woman is one of my favorite screenwriters right now, I now she has her detractors, and so be it, I just think she has a knack for this, and this new effort of hers shows she’s moving forward in all the right directions.

2. BRIDESMAIDS written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo

In a year when The Hangover Part II was expected by everyone to be the most hilarious film in the world, a week before it I got to see Bridesmaids, which was being seen by some as the female equivalent to it. Well, we know how The Hangover Part II turned out, and we know how it was Bridesmaids that had everyone roaring with laughter. With a script by SNL MVP Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, which got them an Oscar nod, this was just an expert mix of hilarious raunchy comedy, one that was actually done the right way, with a lot of heart at the same time, a film that at its heart is all about friendship. I loved this film from beginning to end, and even though the cast had a lot to do with it, it would have been nowhere as great without this screenplay.

1. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS written by Woody Allen

My favorite screenplay of the year belongs to my 14th favorite film of the year. It’s the one that saw the return of Woody Allen, writing a film reminiscent of his classic films from decades ago, and one that will, if there’s any justice in this world, earn him his fourth Oscar (his third for writing). Woody Allen is the kind of writer-director that you don’t want to see experimenting and veering off in different directions, because he’s already the best at what he does, and he’s been the best at what he does for four decades now, and Midnight in Paris shows that he’s not slowing down, even though his detractors of late had been suggesting as much. Out of my Top 20 Screenplays, 13 are originals and 7 are adapted. But the real interesting thing, I thought, was that 12 out of the 20 were either written or co-written by the film’s director, showing how great the writer-director vision is nowadays. And my Top 20 included all 10 of the Oscar nominees.

Oscar Nominations

24 Jan

Early this morning, the nominees for the 84th Academy Awards were announced and, as it’s usually the case with these things, there were some good things, some bad things, and some truly horrible ones too. Below I’ll post the entire slew of nominees announced this morning, a brief commentary on how that category panned out this morning and how I personally did with my nomination predictions I posted yesterday.

BEST PICTURE

  • The Artist (Thomas Langmann)
  • The Descendants (Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor)
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Scott Rudin)
  • The Help (Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan)
  • Hugo (Graham King and Martin Scorsese)
  • Midnight in Paris (Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum)
  • Moneyball (Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt)
  • The Tree of Life (Nominees to be determined)
  • War Horse (Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy)

Most people were predicting six or seven nominees in this category. I predicted eight, though one of my eight, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, was left out, which is one of the snubs that pained me the most this morning. In its place was The Tree of Life, showing how many people love Terrence Malick’s masterpiece. And grabbing that last spot is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which had been pretty much shut out this awards season but got some Oscar love, getting a ninth slot that people were predicting, if it happened, would go to Bridesmaids. I went 7 of 9 here.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
  • Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
  • Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)
  • Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
  • Martin Scorsese (Hugo)

Much like in Best Picture, here again is The Tree of Life presumably taking the slot that should have gone to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘s David Fincher. 4 out of 5 predicted correctly here for me.

BEST ACTOR

  • Demián Bichir (A Better Life)
  • George Clooney (The Descendants)
  • Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
  • Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
  • Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

Here was the thing I hated the most about the Oscar nominations. The Academy failed to nominate the best male performance of the year by leaving out Michael Fassbender for Shame, proving that they are prudes that don’t mind female nudity but cringe at the sight of male nakedness. This was the one snub that got me mad this morning. It’s cool to see Oldman get his due, and a name like Bichir’s included, but all I think is how mad I am about Fassbender’s snub. 4 out of 5 here.

BEST ACTRESS

  • 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)

In my predictions yesterday, I said that either Glenn Close or Tilda Swinton, the presumed fourth and fifth slots of this rarce would fall off thanks to an upset at the hands of Rooney Mara. I was half-right since that indeed happened but the one that fell off was Swinton and not Close, like I had predicted. Still, super happy to see Mara here. 4 out of 5 in this one, too.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
  • Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
  • Nick Nolte (Warrior)
  • Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
  • Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

One of the biggest upsets of the morning happened here, as Albert Brooks for Drive, the presumed second-place by many, was snubbed in favor of Max von Sydow, riding the wave of support that also got Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close into the Best Pic category. Still, this category at least got the best Twitter interventions from Patton Oswalt, another snubbee. Yet another 4 for 5 for me here.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Bérénice Bejo (The Artist)
  • Jessica Chastain (The Help)
  • Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
  • Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
  • Octavia Spencer (The Help)

4 out 5 correctly predicted here, as Janet McTeer gets in instead of The Descendants‘ Shailene Woodley. Still, nothing too unexpected here.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
  • Bridesmaids (Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig)
  • Margin Call (J.C. Chandor)
  • Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
  • A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)

I went 3 for 5 here. Artist, Midnight and Bridesmaids were locks. And the final two slots I thought were down to about six films, Margin Call and A Separation included, I just predicted the wrong ones. Still, pretty happy about J.C. Chandor’s name being called out here, he’s an incredibly promising talent.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • The Descendants (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash)
  • Hugo (John Logan)
  • The Ides of March (George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon)
  • Moneyball (Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin)
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan)

3 for 5 in this category. In my predictions I said that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Ides of March could take the fifth slot which I had predicted for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which was again snubbed, the fact that both got in, at the expense of The Help, doesn’t spell great things for the chances of Tate Taylor’s film at the Best Pic trophy.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • Bullhead (Belgium)
  • Footnote (Israel)
  • In Darkness (Poland)
  • Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
  • A Separation (Iran)

4 for 5 here. Sad about the lack of Pina here, but at least it got into the Docu race (about which I’m really mad about for another reason).

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • Hell and Back Again (Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner)
  • If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman)
  • Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs)
  • Pina (Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel)
  • Undefeated (TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas)

Just 2 out of 5 here. The fact that Project Nim wasn’t included in the shortlist is absolutely atrocious to me, one of the most horrible things the Academy announced this morning. At least Pina got in.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  • A Cat in Paris (Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli)
  • Chico & Rita (Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal)
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 (Jennifer Yuh Nelson)
  • Puss in Boots (Chris Miller)
  • Rango (Gore Verbinski)

3 out of 5 here. Really shocked about not seeing The Adventures of Tintin here. Ditto for Cars 2, which I really don’t mind not being here, but thought it would sneak in just for being a Pixar film (this is the first time a Pixar film isn’t up for the award and isn’t nominated for any kind of Oscar). Hoping this means this award is Rango‘s already.

BEST EDITING

  • The Artist (Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius)
  • The Descendants (Kevin Tent)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall)
  • Hugo (Thelma Schoonmaker)
  • Moneyball (Christopher Tellefsen)

I was awfully close to getting my first 5-for-5 category here. But in my predictions I went with my fanboy heart and predicted Drive instead of Moneyball. Still, good to see Thelma Schoonmaker here as well as last year’s winning team of Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • The Artist (Guillaume Schiffman)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Jeff Cronenwerth)
  • Hugo (Robert Richardson)
  • The Tree of Life (Emmanuel Lubezki)
  • War Horse (Janusz Kaminski)

Finally I predicted all five of the nominees here correctly. Probably a battle all the way between Schiffman and Lubezki.

BEST ART DIRECTION

  • The Artist (Laurence Bennet, production designer; Robert Gould, set decorator)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Stuart Craig, production designer; Stephanie McMillan, set decorator)
  • Hugo (Dante Ferretti, production designer; Francesca Lo Schiavo, set decorator)
  • Midnight in Paris (Anne Seibel, production designer; Hélène Dubreuil, set decorator)
  • War Horse (Rick Carter, production designer; Lee Sandales, set decorator)

3 for 5 here. I thought Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was an absolute lock in this category, and I also predicted The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but was quite unsure about that one. War Horse I could see here, but Midnight in Paris was more of a surprise to me, though a very welcome one.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • The Adventures of Tintin (John Williams)
  • The Artist (Ludovic Bource)
  • Hugo (Howard Shore)
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Alberto Iglesias)
  • War Horse (John Williams)

Double-dip by John Williams here. Still, all I can think about here is how infuriating the lack of Reznor and Ross for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson)
  • Hugo (Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning)
  • Real Steel (Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg)
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier)

3 for 5 here. Kind of surprised to see Real Steel pop in instead of The Tree of Life, especially considering how much love the Malick film had managed to score in more important categories.

BEST SOUND MIXING

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson)
  • Hugo (Tom Fleischman and John Midgley)
  • Moneyball (Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin)
  • War Horse (Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson)

I never know what I’m doing predicting these categories, so a 2-for-5 showing isn’t that shocking. Good to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo here though.

BEST SOUND EDITING

  • Drive (Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Ren Klyce)
  • Hugo (Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl)
  • War Horse (Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom)

4 for 5 here, I don’t know why I was so sure Super 8 was the front-runner here. Just insanely happy about Drive.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • Anonymous (Lisy Christl)
  • The Artist (Mark Bridges)
  • Hugo (Sandy Powell)
  • Jane Eyre (Michael O’Connor)
  • W.E. (Arianne Phillips)

4 for 5 again here, strange not seeing The Help here, I guess it means its support isn’t as strong as we once thought.

BEST MAKEUP

  • Albert Nobbs (Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng)
  • The Iron Lady (Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland)

2 for 3 here, I was super sure Albert Nobbs wasn’t going to get in here, but after the love thrown at Close and McTeer I guess this was expected.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  • “Man or Muppet” (The Muppets; Music and Lyrics by Bret McKenzie)
  • “Real in Rio” (Rio; Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Lyrics by Siedah Garrett)

Don’t know why there were only 2 and not 5 nominees here, so I’m not really counting it for my predictions.

And that’s it for the Oscar nominations. I went 72 for 102 in the predictions I made, which I guess isn’t all that bad, as the date comes closer I’ll make my actual predictions for who I think will win, but for now let us just think about these nominations. Here are my picks for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly:

The Good:

  • Hugo leading all nominees with 11 (the film with the most nominations has won Best Picture 15 of the last 20 years).
  • Woody in for Best Director.
  • Gary Oldman finally getting his nomination.
  • Rooney Mara in for Best Actress.
  • J.C. Chandor getting a nod.
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes getting a nod somewhere.

The Bad:

  • No extra Dragon Tattoo. I mean, Mara getting in there and a slew of technical nods is awesome indeed, but no Fincher for Director or the film not getting into the big race was hurtful. But those categories were crowded. The one that really stung was the omission of its score. I’m putting this under Bad and not Ugly because at least Rooney got her due.
  • Tilda Swinton out of Best Actress. True, it was to give a spot to Mara (who gave a better performance), but Swinton’s performance was better than Glenn Close’s who did get in and should have been the one scrapped in order to make room for the youngster of the bunch.
  • Pina not included in the Best Foreign Language race. Bad and not Ugly because at least it’s in the Best Docu category.
  • No The Adventures of Tintin in the Best Animated Feature race.

The Ugly:

  • No Fassbender!!!
  • No Project Nim.
  • No Drive (except for a sole technical nod).
  • No more (Muppets) Original Song nominations.

Predicting the Oscar Nominations

24 Jan

I still have a handful of 2011 releases to catch up with (namely: Submarine, Daydream Nation, Kaboom, Crazy Stupid Love, Arthur Christmas and Hugo) and while I wanted to make my Oscar nominations predictions post having seen all of them (especially Hugo since its poised to be a major Oscar player) the nominations come out tomorrow so I’ll have to post them now. Below is how I think the categories announced tomorrow morning will shape up (in order of likelihood of having their names called out), with a brief paragraph following them stating how I think that race is shaping up. Please let it be known that this not my personal preference of films, performances or technical achievements, just how I think the Academy will cast their votes (which, as we know, is something they get wrong probably more than they do right), and my personal Best of 2011 posts will come as soon as I watch those six 2011 releases I’m still waiting to catch up with. This will probabyl be a really long post but, without further ado, here are my predictions of tomorrow’s Oscar nominations:

BEST PICTURE

  1. The Artist
  2. The Descendants
  3. Hugo
  4. Midnight in Paris
  5. The Help
  6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  7. Moneyball
  8. War Horse

The first 5 films are absolute locks, and the actual trophy will be fought over by the handful of them alone. It’s beyond that that it gets tricky, since under the new Oscar rules anywhere from 5 to 10 Best Picture nominees can arise, depending on the percentage of the votes they get on the nomination ballots. The contenders for those potential five other slots are known, but how many slots there will actually be is too tough to call. I’m predicting an extra three slots, though maybe War Horse will fall off and there will be only 7 nominees, or maybe the eighth slot will go to The Tree of Life or Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, or a fun pick like Bridesmaids or an edgy one like Drive. Who knows.

BEST DIRECTOR

  1. Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
  2. Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
  3. Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
  4. Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
  5. David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

The first three names are all locks, and I’m guessing so is Woody. The fifth slot is trickier, I’m going with Fincher because I love him and I think he should be there, but don’t be surprised if the name called out is Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life), Tate Taylor (The Help) or Steven Spielberg (War Horse)

BEST ACTOR

  1. George Clooney (The Descendants)
  2. Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
  3. Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
  4. Michael Fassbender (Shame)
  5. Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)

The first four slots, I think, are pretty much locked. The fifth one is a bit tricker, with Oldman and DiCaprio (for J. Edgar) battling it out, and even Demián Bichir (for A Better Life) and Michael Shannon (for Take Shelter) trying to get in there. I’m predicting Oldman because his is the better performance, the better film, and he’s incredibly overdue.

BEST ACTRESS

  1. Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
  2. Viola Davis (The Help)
  3. Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
  4. Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin)
  5. Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

The first three are absolute locks, and the general consensus is that the final two slots will go to Swinton and Glenn Close (for Albert Nobbs). I’m guessing one of them will be snubbed, probably Close, and Mara will get in and be the fresh face in the competition (though don’t count out Charlize Theron for Young Adult to maybe pull off that upset).

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  1. Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
  2. Albert Brooks (Drive)
  3. Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
  4. Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
  5. Nick Nolte (Warrior)

This is pretty much the general consensus for this category (which has already been won by Plummer, so whatever). If there’s an upset look for it to be at the expense of either Hill or Nolte, and by the hands of either Patton Oswalt for Young Adult (which would be insanely awesome), Ben Kingsley for Hugo (which would make the film a huge threat for the Best Picture crown) or Max von Sydow for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  1. Octavia Spencer (The Help)
  2. Berenice Bejo (The Artist)
  3. Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
  4. Jessica Chastain (The Help)
  5. Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)

Much like the male equivalent of this award, this one already has a name engraved in the golden man. Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) is the only name I could forsee getting in here, though I would kill for a Carey Mulligan mention (for either Shame or Drive).

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  1. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
  2. The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
  3. Bridesmaids (Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo)
  4. Young Adult (Diablo Cody)
  5. Beginners (Mike Mills)

I’m torn here for the final two slots, Thomas McCarthy for Win Win could easily be there, ditto for Will Reiser for 50/50, Asghar Farhadi for A Separation and J.C. Chandor for Margin Call. I always love this category.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  1. The Descendants (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash)
  2. Moneyball (Aaron Sorkin, Steve Zaillian and Stan Chervin)
  3. Hugo (John Logan)
  4. The Help (Tate Taylor)
  5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Steve Zaillian)

I think the four first slots are in for sure, but the fifth could also go to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or The Ides of March.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  1. A Separation (Iran)
  2. In Darkness (Poland)
  3. Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
  4. Pina (Germany)
  5. Footnote (Israel)

Other than A Separation (which I gave an A to) and Pina (A-) I haven’t seen any of the other remaning seven films fighting for the five available slots here, so this is pretty much guesswork.

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  1. Project Nim
  2. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
  3. Pina
  4. We Were Here
  5. Bill Cunningham New York

This is also pretty much guesswork in this category, but so long as both Pina and Project Nim get in here (and one of them wins the whole enchilada) I’ll be good with this.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  1. Rango
  2. The Adventures of Tintin
  3. Puss in Boots
  4. Cars 2
  5. Kung Fu Panda 2

Cars 2 shouldn’t get in here, but its Pixar so it probably will. Instead, a nod for Winnie the Pooh would be quite nice to see.

BEST EDITING

  1. The Artist
  2. Hugo
  3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  4. The Descendants
  5. Drive

I’m really hoping the Academy shows Drive some love tomorrow, and this would be a really nice nomination to do it with if they can’t go for the Best Pic nod. War Horse or Moneyball, though, are probably safer bets here.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  1. The Artist
  2. The Tree of Life
  3. Hugo
  4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  5. War Horse

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Moneyball could get in here if the love for War Horse is even weaker than it already seems to be.

BEST ART DIRECTION

  1. Hugo
  2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  3. The Artist
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The first three films are total locks here. The rest is me just guessing, though it would make sense to see those other two films here, though War Horse, Jane Eyre, Anonymous and The Tree of Life could show up just as easily.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  1. The Artist
  2. Hugo
  3. War Horse
  4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  5. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Artist has this one in the bag since the score helps narrate the silent film. The rest of the field is quite tough to predict, I’m guessing Hugo and War Horse are definitely in there, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has the best score of the year so I’m hoping it’ll get in there too, and for the last slot I picked Desplat’s score for the 9/11 film over Dario Marianelli’s for Jane Eyre.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  2. Hugo
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  4. The Tree of Life
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger

Transformers: Dark of the Moon or X-Men: First Class could get in here as well, but I’m predicting a trio of really good blockbusters to go along with a couple of serious awards contenders.

BEST SOUND MIXING

  1. Hugo
  2. Super 8
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  5. War Horse

This is where the big, loud summer blockbusters get recognized, so don’t be surprised if Transformers: Dark of the Moon or Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides get in here.

BEST SOUND EDITING

  1. Super 8
  2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  3. Hugo
  4. War Horse
  5. Drive

I have really no idea how this one will go, I just want Drive nominations.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  1. The Artist
  2. Hugo
  3. Jane Eyre
  4. The Help
  5. W.E.

I’m pretty confident in the first four films I have predicted here. The fifth slot I’m giving to Madonna’s film because the costumes were the only great thing about it, though maybe Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 will also be here or, a personal favorite of mine, Midnight in Paris which combined contemporary and period costumes splendidly.

BEST MAKEUP

  1. The Iron Lady
  2. Hugo
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

I’m not predicting The Artist here. If anything Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life would be more deserving of an upset nod.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  1. “The Living Proof”  (The Help)
  2. “Life’s a Happy Song” (The Muppets)
  3. “Lay Your Head Down” (Albert Nobbs)
  4. “Pictures in My Head” (The Muppets)
  5. “Hello Hello” (Gnomeo and Juliet)
Two songs from The Muppets for sure, and I’m guessing they won’t snub Elton John.

Bridesmaids

25 May

Title: Bridesmaids
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Paul Feig
Writers: Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo
Starring: 
Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Wendy McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Jill Clayburgh, Matt Lucas, Jon Hamm
MPAA Rating: 
R, some strong sexuality and language throughout
Runtime: 
125 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 
89%

Bridesmaids is, without a doubt, the funniest movie I’ve seen all year. A lot is being made about it being the first real R-rated comedy for women, and it just may be, look at the cast and you’ll see some of the funniest women working today, and yes, women will, I’d imagine, definitely dig this on more than they have the most recent R-rated laughfests which have been unashamedly targeted at men, but that’s not to say us men won’t love every second of this film. Because we absolutely will, one that’s produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Paul Feig (who with Mr. Apatow created the classic TV show Freaks and Geeks), but that’s written by the exquisite Kristen Wiig with Annie Mumolo and that puts funny women in the forefront, and boy was that a long time coming.

It’s with good reason that a lot is being made out of Bridesmaids finally giving female comedians a shot, and the success it has had so far, both critically and commercially, will hopefully get this trend to continue, maybe even to the point in which we may get an R-rated comedy that’s also directed by a woman. Because Bridesmaids I already consider to be somewhat of a contemporary comedy classic. I knew I would like it because I’m a huge fan of Ms. Wiig from Saturday Night Live and because the women she recruited to star alongside her in the film are all just as awesome, but that it was this good I just wasn’t expecting, and if this weekend’s The Hangover Part II doesn’t live up to its hype then that’s just fine, because we already have our incredible summer comedy right here.

Ms. Wiig is the MVP of the immensely talented SNL cast, she’s the one getting nominated for Emmy’s for her work there and it’s for a reason, she’s just hugely likable and even more talented, and Bridesmaids shows that she’s an actress that should be getting offered leading roles in comedies by the dozen. Other than Tina Fey she’s probably the funniest woman in showbiz right now, and she has co-written a film so full of her impeccable style of mischievous comedy and crafted for herself a role so perfect for her that you can’t watch Bridesmaids and not be amazed by her talents.

And I love that this is a film about women, because people have long thought and said that R-rated comedies are definitely a males-only sort of thing, but here these women prove that it’s really not. We thought it was because the more racy subjects were definitely things for men, the crass humor or the fart jokes, but we mostly thought that it was because R-rated comedies dealt quite a lot with anxieties men had about women, and obviously women would never really get this point of view as successfully as men could. But then came Bridesmaids, and proved to all of us that women are just as adept about writing and presenting vulgarity, just as good at being openly funny with sex and drinks and, most importantly, every bit has as insecure as men. If Judd Apatow changed how men in comedies are perceived in the last decade, he may just have helped Ms. Wiig to do the same for women with this one.

If you’ve seen the trailer for Bridesmaids or the clips shown by the ladies as they made the promotional rounds then you’ll know the film has a scene in a plane when all the ladies are together. And the time we spend on the plane is what sets the tone for the rest of the movie, not only is everything that happens in the plane sensationally hilarious, but it also serves to show us the dynamic that will develop between these ladies throughout the film, and it helps to really win us over. We have already met the characters prior to the plane ride to Vegas for the bachelorette party, and we know that they all have very different personalities that are bound to be used to create insanely funny situations, and that’s even more true because they don’t know each other, just there because they’re all independently friends with the bride-to-be, Lillian, played by Maya Rudolph, another SNL vet.

But what’s best about Bridesmaids is that Ms. Wiig and Ms. Mumolo haven’t taken the easy way out and given us a collection of fairly predictable but still inherently funny incidents, instead they have devised a screenplay with such a sharp wit that it doesn’t play like that. Yes, the film is packed to the seams with moments that will have you laughing like crazy, but they don’t feel like they have been crafted separately, thought only to make us laugh, but rather they also serve a story, one that’s phenomenal and that will have you connecting to this group of ladies and not only laughing with them.

And this group of ladies, I’ll say it again, is truly a joy to watch. Ms. Wiig plays Annie, Lillian’s best friend and the one chosen to be maid of honor, and she’s perfect at playing this woman who’s suffering from failures both in her professional life, as her small business failed and now has to work at a job she hates, and in her personal life, as her boyfriend left her and now Annie is in a sex-only relationship with Ted who’s an asshole she hates and yet goes to get affection from. Ted, by the way, is played by the incomparable Jon Hamm, who continues to show that when he’s not rocking out the suits in Mad Men he can be extremely funny.

I urge you to see Bridesmaids, I know the posters and the title and the fact that every single character is a female will probably have a part of the male audience thinking that it’s probably more targeted to their girlfriends than to them, but trust me when I say that’s not true. This is just like any other Judd Apatow comedy, and one of the best ones at that, but this one for once gives female characters dimension, and shows us that they can be just as obscene and witty and funny as their male counterparts. I guarantee you that you’ll be laughing hard and often when you go see Bridesmaids, and you’ll enjoy how much heart this film has as well, because this film in the end is about the friendships that form between these women, and they’re portrayed by a terrific cast that have more than proven that women should be leading comedies just as much as men do.

Grade: A-