Tag Archives: Rebecca Hall

[Review] – Lay The Favorite

14 Dec

Lay the Favorite

Title: Lay the Favorite
Year: 2012
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: D.V. DeVincentis, based on the memoir by Beth Raymer
Starring: Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hall, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joshua Jackson, Vince Vaughn
MPAA Rating: R, language throughout, some sexual content, brief drug use, and nudity
Runtime: 94 min
IMDb Rating: 4.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 20%
Metacritic: 38

Something’s happening to Stephen Frears, right? I mean, after he gave us The Queen, the one which one Helen Mirren an Oscar and got him a nomination, the stuff he’s been putting out just doesn’t feel like a film of his to me. I mean this is the guy who has given us, in addition to The Queen which is a very good movie, films like Dangerous Liaisons, Snapper, Dirty Pretty Things, The Grifters and, by far my favorite of his, the great High Fidelity. And yet the trio of movies he’s made since The Queen have been so ordinary and subpar that it’s really hard to grasp they’ve all come from the man that gave us such neat little gems.

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[Trailer] – Iron Man 3

23 Oct

The first trailer for Iron Man 3 has just been released, and it looks damn good. Check it out below.

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[Review] – The Awakening

6 Sep

Title: The Awakening
Year: 2012
Director: Nick Murphy
Writers: Stephen Volk and Nick Murphy
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton
MPAA Rating: R, some violence and sexuality/nudity
Runtime: 107 min
IMDb Rating: 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Metacritic: 53

Let me start by saying that I think Rebecca Hall is the real deal. I first saw her in Christopher Nolan‘s The Prestige, were she had a small role, but, like most, the first time I really took notice of her was in Woody Allen‘s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, in which she played one of the three leads and got herself a Golden Globe nomination in the process. I loved what she did in that film, I loved her performance, I loved the aura she exuded and I, of course, thought she was pretty gorgeous.

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Everything Must Go

11 Jun

Title: Everything Must Go
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Dan Rush
Writer: Dan Rush, based on the short story by Raymond Carver
Starring: 
Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Laura Dern, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Michael Peña
MPAA Rating: 
R, language and some sexual content
Runtime: 
97 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 
76%

I like seeing actors known best for their comedic work stretching out of their comfort zones to tackle more serious fare. And I like it because some truly stunning performances have resulted from that. Just take a look at Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love (my sixth favorite film of 2002), or Bill Murray in Lost in Translation (my favorite film of all-time), even Steve Carell has also done his bit of dramatic acting in Little Miss Sunshine (my fourth favorite of 2004) and, most impressively, there’s Jim Carrey a man that has given three pretty much perfect performances in dramatic roles in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Man on the Moon and The Truman Show. So yeah, when comedians decide to go serious, great things sometimes happen, and that has also extended to the work of Will Ferrell. We were witnesses of that in 2006 when he did Stranger than Fiction (my eleventh favorite film of that year), and we are witnesses of that all over again now, when he takes the leading role in Everything Must Go, an adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story that, while it doesn’t do all that much to improve over its source material, does find a role that it seems Mr. Ferrell was just born to play.

I just thought there was honestly a lot of stuff to like about Everything Must Go. Not only is the performance given by Mr. Ferrell a fantastic one, but there are a trio of sincerely wonderful supporting turns by Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace and Laura Dern. But first, a bit of the story, Mr. Ferrell plays Nick, an Arizona-based salesman who’s about to hit rock bottom as he gets fired from his job and his wife leaves him, freezes his bank account and throws all of his possessions in their front lawn. All of that in one day. Oh, and he’s also battling a case of alcoholism, not in the sense that we’ll get a scene of a misery-stricken Nick in bar shouting and being loud, but in the sense that he just likes to drink, in a sense that he’s just a regular guy but one that has drinking as his number one priority, and that’s the worst kind of alcoholic because that’s the one you actually feel very sorry for, the guy that means well, the guy that doesn’t go on violent fits, the guy that quietly and calmly just drinks his life away.

The short story on which the film is based is a pretty damn good one, and even though I ultimately don’t necessarily think this film did all it could have done to make this a truly successful adaptation, I still think it maintained the essence of that Raymond Carver short story, it’s obviously a much more viewer-friendly approach to the narrative than in the story, but the good stuff is all still very much there, it’s all still very personal and feels like a tough and intimate look at a man’s life crumbling down. And you know Mr. Ferrell is going to rock out a role that requires said stuff from him, because he has that big frame and still manages to look and act like a child at the same time, and because he has the charm to make us connect with the character and care for him, and because, much like he did in Step Brothers (though obviously in a much more serious tone) the guy rocks at playing this sort of child in a man’s body who just failed at living in a man’s world.

So we see Nick, just sitting in a chair in his lawn, with a lamp next to him, trying to act as though everything is normal, trying to hide the fact that he’s in full crisis mode from his neighbors who can now see him do everything as there are no more walls between them. And it’s all pretty good, the problems he faces trying to live in his lawn, getting a rude awakening by the sprinklers bright and early in the morning, showering, and just plain trying to figure out what to do next with his life. But I loved this film the most not because of the situations it put Nick in, but because of the characters it put him with.

One of these characters is Frank, a cop who was also Nick’s sponsor in one of his failed attempts to go through A.A. and who comes to his lawn after the neighbors start complaining about the man living there in plain sight, and who tells him the law allows five days for a yard sale and that’s how much time he has. There’s also Laura Dern delivering a gem of a performance in a small role that has her as Nick’s high school crush who he decides to look up. And then there’s Samantha, a pregnant woman who’s just moving in to the street from a whole other city and who’s husband she is waiting for as he’s to arrive later on. Samantha’s played by Rebecca Hall, who I think is just insanely talented and absolutely beautiful, and Ms. Hall just does her thing with Samantha as she does with all of her roles, making her likable and a soul companion to Nick, it’s just truly fantastic to see the relationship between these two develop.

And then there’s Christopher Jordan Wallace as Kenny. And this is the character I just fell in love with, and the relationship between him and Nick, more than the one between Nick and Samantha, is the best part of this film. And Christopher Jordan Wallace, the fourteen year-old son of the late hip-hop great Notorious B.I.G., is pretty much as perfect for this this role as Mr. Ferrell is as Nick. Kenny is just your typical curious kid, he rides up on his bike in front of Nick’s lawn and asks him the questions everyone wants to ask but only a kid will, and instantly becomes Nick’s business partner in his venture to sell all of his stuff in a yard sale because, as Frank and the movie title told us, everything must go. The movie as whole is pretty laid back really, there is heavy stuff going on but there’s never an urge to really tackle that head-on, and even though some further greatness might have come out of doing that, I’m more than fine with this film not going there, because there are still tremendous performances to watch on display here even without the more emotional load, and Will Ferrell proves once again that funnymen doing serious things can often give us something very special.

Grade: B+

Midnight in Paris

6 Jun

Title: Midnight in Paris
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Starring: 
Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Corey Stoll, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni, Marion Cotillard, Michael Sheen, Tom Hiddleston, Alison Pill, Léa Seydoux
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, some sexual references and smoking
Runtime: 
100 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 
92%

The first five months of 2011 have already passed as I write this review on June 5th, and I still haven’t watched a single perfect film with a 2011 release date, not one worthy of an A+. However, I’m an unapologetic fanboy of Woody Allen, I’ve watched every single one of his films and his is one of the most unique voices in modern cinema, and one that really resonates with me, so I had high hopes going into his latest, Midnight in Paris, which was the opening selection for this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

People haven’t been exactly kind towards the films Mr. Allen has made in the past decade, or at least certainly not as embracing as they have been with his past efforts.. And I can definitely see why, even though I have personally loved quite a few of those. I mean, the decade started off with 2000’s Small Time Crooks, which was actually pretty good. Then came 2001’s The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, which was okay at best. 2002 saw Hollywood Ending, which was just as mildly decent. In 2003 he did Anything Else, which I actually sort of loved and was listed by Quentin Tarantino as one of his 20 favorites films since 1992, but that most critics didn’t really embraced. 2004 was Melinda and Melinda which was totally forgettable. So, you see, his first five films of the decade were all just okay, nothing spectacular, and people started wondering if the master had lost his touch.

But then came 2005’s Match Point. This would be the first in his string of collaborations with Scarlett Johansson, and would be his best received film in years, both critically and commercially. I absolutely adored that film, it was actually my fourth favorite film of 2005 (behind Sin City, The Squid and the Whale and V for Vendetta) and it seemed to me as though that film reinvigorated Mr. Allen, and as though changing his beloved New York City for London was a great move for him. It also seemed as though he was of the same opinion, going on record to say that Match Point could arguably be the best film he’s ever made (which it isn’t, but it definitely is pretty perfect) and choosing to venture outside of New York for the most part of his career since.

He stayed in London and with Ms. Johansson for 2006’s Scoop. Now, that film is actually one of the few of his I just don’t seem to get, and I felt it was a huge step down from Match Point. 2007 saw him release Cassandra’s Dream, yet again staying in London and now employing actors mostly from the UK like his leading men, Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell, and even though most critics were lukewarm towards it I actually thought it was excellent, and since I saw it in 2008, when it was released in the U.S., I ranked it in that year-end best-of list and it came in at #47.

But on that very same 2008 list there was another effort by Mr. Allen, his terrific Vicky Cristina Barcelona which was my 12th favorite film of that year and saw Mr. Allen now choosing to go to Barcelona, reteam with Ms. Johansson and add Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz to the mix. The result was superb, I gave it one a perfect A+ and loved absolutely everything about it, as did most of the world, with the film grossing a very respectable $96 million on a $15 million budget, the film getting great reviews, and Ms. Cruz winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as the volatile María Elena. After that was 2009’s Whatever Works, which saw him going back to New York to team up with Larry David and which was unimpressive. And last year saw him release You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, which saw him going back to London and to which I gave a B to.

The above was an exhaustive review of the last decade of Woody Allen films, and if you’re still reading this then thank you for bearing with me on that, it’s just that I wanted to illustrate two things. One is that even if some people have been critical of his last decade, I still think that the guy has turned in two perfect films in that ten year span (Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and another seriously good one (Cassandra’s Dream). And two is that, more importantly, for the last ten years the guy has released a movie a year (and that streak actually goes all the way back to 1982), no matter what, and even if they haven’t been entirely consistent in quality there’s not one in there that’s an all-out disaster. All of this coming from a guy that started directing films in the mid-sixties and that turned 70 during the last decade, it’s just tremendous stuff.

I’ve spent pretty much the usual length of one of my reviews just talking about the past decade or so of Mr. Allen’s films and not saying one word about Midnight in Paris. I started out this reviews saying that I was still looking for my first perfect film of 2011, and saying that I had hopes for Midnight in Paris to become just that. Now, it wasn’t, but it came seriously close. Honestly, if you had been clamoring for another extremely good Woody Allen film, this is the one for you. Even if for some reason you weren’t as huge on Match Point or Vicky Cristina Barcelona as I was, you can count on this one to really win you back. Midnight in Paris is just Woody Allen being Woody Allen and working his usual magic in the best of ways, delivering a film that’s funny and charming and everything you’d want it to be.

And really, what else do you want? Woody Allen is not one of those writer-directors you want going and experimenting new ways, they guy doesn’t have to reinvent himself because he’s still the very best at what he does, and he’s being doing that for over four decades now and if Midnight in Paris shows one thing is that he’s not even close to slowing down. Yes, the font he always uses for his title cards is still there, jazz music is still there, and the main character is still ultimately some sort of version of Mr. Allen himself, but it feels fresher than it has in quite some time.

Owen Wilson plays the Woody Allen role of Gil here, a wealthy screenwriter who actually doesn’t like writing the superficial stuff he does and would much rather be a novelist. He visits Paris with his fiancée, played by the stunning Rachel McAdams, and while she’s totally just all about the shopping and superficial stuff, he falls in love with the city, like anyone would, and wonders about the artistic greats that once walked its streets. What Mr. Wilson does incredibly well is making Gil his own character to play, and not playing him like some sort of Woody Allen imitation like so many have unfortunately done before him, he instead makes Gil a very Owen Wilson character with the Woody sensibilities that were written for him, and it seriously works.

The title of the film comes from the most magical moments in it, when Gil discovers that at midnight he can somehow unexplainably go back to the 1920’s Paris he has loved so much for all of his life. Shot by Darius Khondji (an Oscar-nominee for his brilliant work on Evita) Midnight in Paris feels like a terrific homage to the city of lights, and when you see Mr. Allen go back all those decades you find him producing some of the exquisitely funny and pensive scenes that he’s produced in a while. And when you look at the cast he has lined up for Bop Decameron, his next, you can’t help but smile and think that the master’s back firing on all cylinders.

Grade: A

OscarWatch: Best Picture

24 Jan

Since the Academy Award nominations will be announced bright and early Tuesday morning (!) I thought I’d do seven OscarWatch posts for the main races: Screenplay (encompassing both Original and Adapted), Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Lead Actor, Lead Actress, Director and Picture.

In them I’ll detail my thoughts on the given race and how I think things are starting to shape up considering we have now seen most of the precursor awards and count with BAFTA and SAG nominations. I’ll give my personal Top 20, with a brief paragraph on each, for any given race and detail which I think will be the nominees for the Oscars come Tuesday. And in the very final pre-nominations OscarWatch post we’ll of course tackle…

Best Picture

I’ll give my Top 20 picks for the best films in all of 2010, my brief thoughts on each and then I’ll say how I think the Oscar nominations for the category will look once they’re announced on Tuesday.

As for the state of the race, well, it’s a two-way race here. The precursors gave huge momentum to The Social Network, as did its win and mini-sweep at the Globes last week. However, yesterday The King’s Speech won the Producers Guild Award, and considering it will most certainly win the BAFTA, and will have a very decent shot at the Best Ensemble SAG award this really is a two-horse race, and a very very entertaining one at that.

Personal Top 20

  1. Black Swan – My favorite film of the year by heaps and bounds, a true masterpiece, directed by one of Hollywood’s most ambitious and perfectionists minds, featuring a handful of exceptional performances and just nailing every single frame.This is intense and passionate filmamaking at its very best, and were it up to me it would win absolutely everything.
  2. The Social Network – This is being heralded as the film of a generation. And as huge a statement as that may seem, it’s really kinda sorta on the money. A film about the phenomenon that’s consuming huge amounts of time of our lives, directed to perfection by a guy who can’t seem to do a bad thing and who started directing music videos, bolstering sensational performances by a cast full of up and coming actors, and with a script full of words and witty remarks. This really is the film of a generation.
  3. Inception This was the popcorn film that was actually stimulating, the smartest film of the year directed by the visionary we have all embraced like crazy into our lives. This was the one everyone talked about even months after its release, the one that when released on home video showed us just how awesome a blu-ray can really be, the one that had some seriously amazing performances and a very emotional story in the midst of all its visual spectacle. True innovative filmmaking.
  4. Blue Valentine The rawest, most emotional film experience I had in all last year. Bolstered by two pitch-perfect performances by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, this film showed how quick love can start, and how quick it can all end. It’s portrayal of a crumbling marriage is a very powerful thing to watch, the actors putting everything on the line, masterful stuff all around.
  5. The Kids Are All Right – This one has superb performances around the board, and tells a very contemporary story about family which we can all relate to in one way or another. Beautifully written, directed and acted, The Kids Are All Right was one of the best films of year just because of that, but it became even better when you realized just how much the writers knew their wine.
  6. Somewhere – Sofia Coppola’s back at it again, coming back to the stuff she’s comfortable with, and directing a quiet and gorgeous film. One which takes quite a bit from her own experiences as the daughter of a big star, and has her exploring celebrity like few directors can.
  7. Never Let Me Go – And I’ll say it one final time in these OscarWatch posts, this was, to me, the most underappreciated film of 2010 by a fair amount. Capturing the style and essence of the Kazuo Ishiguro novel it was based on was going to be a tough task for anyone to accomplish, and yet Mark Romanek did so splendidly, directing Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley to beautiful performances.
  8. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – A truly original film, one that captures to perfection the style and flair of the graphic novels I love so much and that found in Edgar Wright the perfect director to convey the precious little life of Scott Pilgrim, and in Michael Cera the perfect guy to bring the character to life. This one goes by really fast, with its stunning visuals and cool one-liners, and every last second of it is pure bliss.
  9. Toy Story 3 There hasn’t been an official confirmation that this will be the last Toy Story film. But if it is, it’s probably the most graceful conclusion to any trilogy ever, coming full circle, full of memorable moments, of huge laughs, of meaningful tears. A beautiful film that ranks amongst Pixar’s best.
  10. 127 Hours A really powerful film, this one is. James Franco delivering the best performance of his career for director Danny Boyle, who entrusted him with portraying Aron Ralston, the real life man who was trapped when a boulder crashed his arm in a Utah canyon. The result is really breathtaking, with a stunning performance by Mr. Franco, sharp directing and writing by Mr. Boyle and some really gorgeous cinematography.
  11. True Grit – The Coen brothers are at it again with True Grit, continuing the ridiculous string of stunning films. They also have a wonderful cast full of amazing veterans in Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin and found in Hailee Steinfeld one of 2010’s coolest new stars, who clearly has a very bright future in front of her. If you liked Intolerable Cruelty, and manage to ignore that underwhelming The Ladykillers then you just might say the have a perfect body of work.
  12. Winter’s Bone – Debra Granik creates a very bleak and somber atmosphere for her film about the Ozarks, and found in Jennifer Lawrence the perfect actress to bring Ree to life, and carry and bring a speck of hope to the film. This is a real starmaking turn from her, and what lies in her future is just amazing to think about.
  13. The Town – The film that proved to us that Ben Affleck really is a fantastic director. A film that was extremely entertaining and full of spot-on performances by a cast that included Mr. Affleck himself, as well as Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Pete Postlethwaite, Blake Lively and Chris Cooper.
  14. The King’s Speech – If you exclude Black Swan this is the best-acted film of all 2010, the sort of thing you can write “Oscar bait” on, everyone delivering some truly masterful performances, directed by Tom Hooper from a fantastic script. If Black Swan was a very polarizing film, this is one I cannot see anyone not really falling in love with, if anything just because of how amazing Colin Firth is in it.
  15. The Fighter – Yes, this is another rather predictable boxing film, but the real-life story and people in it make it a very very compelling family tale. This is not a boxing film with a human story in it, but a human story with boxing in it. The performances here are just amazing, with Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg all doing wonders with their characters.
  16. Let Me In – The fact that this film ended up being nearly as perfect as the original Swedish one is the biggest compliment one could give it. This is the perfect definition of a good remake, one that never once tries to lose the essence of the original, but that adds enough spice of its own to separate itself from it in order to be judged on its own.
  17. Greenberg – Noah Baumbach yet again delivers a darkly comic script and amazing directing chops to a small little film that deals with the intricacies of an offbeat character. That character is played by Ben Stiller in what might be the performance of his career, a nuanced portrayal that was perfect in all the best ways. Not to mention that it was also the film that introduced us to Greta Gerwig, and she’s all sorts of lovely.
  18. Kick-Ass – A very fun film to watch, one that honors its graphic novel roots, isn’t afraid to show a cursing thirteen-year-old or hugely graphic and gnarly violence. This really is a treat for the eyes, one that has Nicolas Cage in full-on spectacle mode being awesome, and in Chloë Moretz one of the best finds of the year.
  19. Animal Kingdom – The stunning portrayal of the Australian criminal underground world. The performances here are just stunning to watch develop, the script is really clever and the film is just intensely plotted and structured to deliver a really thrilling ride.
  20. Biutiful – This is a very powerful film, one that’s many times hard to watch, but one that’s extremely rewarding to watch as well. Bursting to life by a beautifully raw performance by Javier Bardem and confident filmmaking by Alejandro González Iñárritu, it’s strong stuff, but compelling, too, and one that will have you leaving the theater and really thinking deep about what you just saw.

How I Think the Oscar Nominations Will Look Like (in alphabetical order)

  • 127 Hours
  • Black Swan
  • Inception
  • The Fighter
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • The King’s Speech
  • The Social Network
  • The Town
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit

The Town and 127 Hours are the wildcards for me here. The other 8 I think are guaranteed to score an invite to the big race. I named both The Town and 127 Hours as hypothetical candidates, but I could actually see either one of them being bumped off the shortlist in favor of Winter’s Bone, we shall wait and see what happens Tuesday morning.

OscarWatch: Best Lead Actor

21 Jan

Since the Academy Award nominations will be announced bright and early Tuesday morning (!) I thought I’d do seven OscarWatch posts for the main races: Screenplay (encompassing both Original and Adapted), Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Lead Actor, Lead Actress, Director and Picture.

In them I’ll detail my thoughts on the given race and how I think things are starting to shape up considering we have now seen most of the precursor awards and count with BAFTA and SAG nominations. I’ll give my personal Top 20, with a brief paragraph on each, for any given race and detail which I think will be the nominees for the Oscars come Tuesday. In this post I’ll tackle…

Best Lead Actor

I’ll give my Top 20 performances given by actors in a leading role in 2010, my brief thoughts on each and then I’ll say how I think the Oscar nominations for the category will look once they’re announced on Tuesday.

As for the state of the race, it’s all said and done already. There’s really no way in hell Colin Firth isn’t leaving the Kodak Theater without that trophy firmly in his hand, his performance in The King’s Speech is unbeatable, and every other actor who did good stuff in a 2010 film will have to settle for a nomination on Tuesday.

Personal Top 20

  1. Colin Firth (for The King’s Speech) – There really is no other #1 pick in any capacity that isn’t Colin Firth. The stuff on display from him here is just astounding, and considering he’s coming off another Oscar-nominated brilliant performance from A Single Man last year his chances only get bigger, he’s just the best.
  2. James Franco (for 127 Hours) – The buzz surrounding this film seems to have been dying down as of late, but James Franco will still no doubt get a much-deserved nomination for his work as Aron Ralston. His 2010 was amongst the best any actor had, and how he carries the film by himself, delivering a tour de force performance is amazing.
  3. Ryan Gosling (for Blue Valentine) – The film was full of raw emotion and power and honesty, and it’s all because of its two leads. Ryan Gosling is superb here, doing the finest work of his career to date, and if the world was fair then he’d get a nomination.
  4. Jesse Eisenberg (for The Social Network) – Jesse Eisenberg is still the Jesse Eisenberg we all know and love in The Social Network, but reigned in by David Fincher he delivers a fantastic performance, transforming himself into the version of Mark Zuckerberg the movie needed, and helping the film earn its “the movie of a generation” title.
  5. Javier Bardem (for Biutiful) – Much like Ryan Gosling, Javier Bardem sheds every inch of actor vanity for his role in Biutiful, and gives a very open and honest performance in it that has people speaking raves of him. The sheer amount of power and emotional punch he gives here is just unbelievable.
  6. Jeff Bridges (for True Grit) – Last year’s winner will likely be a repeat nominee this year. He tackles a role that won John Wayne his Oscar, and complete does a 180 with it, pitching his own singularities into the character, and making him instantly memorable.
  7. Aaron Eckhart (for Rabbit Hole) – Put him alongside Mr. Gosling and Mr. Bardem, this is the third performance that’s just emotionally sincere, in a film that’s raw and powerful. This is a guy who has been doing stellar work for a number of years now, and he doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.
  8. Leonardo DiCaprio (for Inception) – Casting Leonardo DiCaprio was the smartest thing Christopher Nolan did for his film. He grounds the film with his emotional storyline, not letting us get lost in the mind-bending plot structure, while not taking anything away from it either.
  9. Andrew Garfield (for Never Let Me Go) – Andrew Garfield had an amazing 2010, I had him as my third favorite supporting actor performance for The Social Network, which will likely get him an Oscar nomination, and he’s in my Top 10 here, for his work on what I’ll forever call the most under-appreciated film of all last year, he’s just amazing in it.
  10. Mark Wahlberg (for The Fighter) – Christian Bale, when accepting his Golden Globe for this film, said that in order for a loud performance like his to be effective, one needed an incredibly solid and quiet anchor. And Mark Wahlberg is that anchor, taking the leading role in his passion project, and delivering like crazy.
  11. Ben Stiller (for Greenberg) – Probably the best thing Ben Stiller has done in his career, his turn here is unbelievable, as he makes us feel about Roger Greenberg, feel bad for him, feel angry at him, it’s all just incredibly solid stuff from him.
  12. Robert Duvall (for Get Low) – Robert Duvall can do no wrong. He’s always amazing in anything he’s in, and he’s delivered some of the best acting work probably ever in some of his films. In Get Low he’s at it again, giving one seriously fine work, that only an actor of his caliber and experience would have been able to provide.
  13. Stephen Dorff (for Somewhere) – If this film had gotten more attention and love then we would all be calling Stephen Dorff’s career completely revived and be throwing nominations at him. The movie, however, wasn’t universally embraced. I still loved it though, and thought Mr. Dorff was amazing in it, creating in Johnny Marco a subdued and patient performance which I loved.
  14. Ben Affleck (for The Town) – I gave The Town three shout-outs in my Top 20 for Best Supporting Actor, then gave Rebecca Hall a nod in the Best Supporting Actress rankings, so this here makes it five mentions for that film. Ben Affleck not only directed and co-wrote this amazing heist movie, but also delivered a triumphant performance as the lead character who battles morals and emotions.
  15. Michael Douglas (for Solitary Man) – When people talk Michael Douglas and this awards season they talk about his supporting turn in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and while he’s seriously good in that one, I’d rather have more people notice him in this one, a lesser-seen film in which he gives one of the strongest performances of his career, and definitely the best one since Wonder Boys.
  16. James Franco (for Howl) – Yes, a second mention for my #2 pick. And, even though 127 Hours is of course a much much different film, in this one he also carries the film by himself with a terrific performance. He plays Allen Ginsberg, and his line-readings of the titular poem are a thing of wonder.
  17. Paul Giamatti (for Barney’s Version) – I saw this one this year and will count towards my 2011 rankings, but it classifies for this awards season, so here it goes. Paul Giamatti has already won a Golden Globe for his performance here, and rightfully so, he’s amazing, and even though an Oscar nomination is pretty unlikely it would be awesome to see.
  18. Matt Damon (for Hereafter) – I also named him for Best Supporting Actor in True Grit, and here he is again. I’ve met a lot of people saying they were underwhelmed by Hereafter, but I thought it was a pretty masterful effort by Clint Eastwood, and Mr. Damon was just sensation in it.
  19. Leonardo DiCaprio (for Shutter Island) – Another double-honoree in this category. Leonardo DiCaprio always does wonders when working under the direction of Martin Scorsese, and in Shutter Island he really is amazing. A very different sort of role in a very different sort of movie for him, but he rocks it nevertheless, providing the perfect emotions to his character.
  20. Jake Gyllenhaal (for Love and Other Drugs) – I know there were other picks I could have made for the last spot, but I always give this one to a sentimental favorite. And I thought Love and Other Drugs was underrated, and I thought Jake Gyllenhaal was amazing in it, kudos kudos kudos to him.

How I Think the Oscar Nominations Will Look Like (in alphabetical order)

  • Javier Bardem (for Biutiful)
  • Jeff Bridges (for True Grit)
  • Jesse Eisenberg (for The Social Network)
  • Colin Firth (for The King’s Speech)
  • James Franco (for 127 Hours)

I think Bridges, Eisenberg, Firth and Franco are all locks by now, and I really can’t see any of them not being there picking up nominations. The fifth slot is more of a wildcard, and I think it’s a four-man race between Robert Duvall, Mark Wahlberg, Javier Bardem and Ryan Gosling. Odds-on favorite I would guess is Duvall, Wahlberg may get in because I think The Fighter will get some nice amount of love and Ryan Gosling gives a raw performance the Academy may want to reward. However, I think Javier Bardem has what he needs to pull this one off and be a foreign film competitor in a major race, he has peaked with the BAFTA nod and all the actors love his performance. So yes, I’m going with him for that final slot on Tuesday.