Tag Archives: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

[Review] – Wrath Of The Titans

15 Apr

Title: Wrath of the Titans
Year: 2012
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Writers: Dan Mazeau and David Johnson, based on a story by Mr. Mazeau, Mr. Johnson and Greg Berlanti, based on the original 1981 screenplay by Beverley Cross
Starring: Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, Édgar Ramírez, Toby Kebbell, Danny Huston, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson
MPAA Rating: PG-13, intense sequences of fantasy violence and action
Runtime: 99 min
IMDb Rating: 6.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 23%
Metacritic: 37

I remember watching Clash of the Titans in 2010 and not really liking it at all (I gave it a C-), thinking that while director Louis Leterrier certainly seemed to really like the original film he was remaking, he paid no mind whatsoever to any sort of storyline and just dedicated himself to crafting these huge action set pieces, not to mention that it was converted to 3D in post-production which is just a really shameless way to try to get more money. And money it got, bringing in over $490 million at the worldwide box office, which meant of course that a sequel to it was fast-tracked, which in turn resulted in us getting Wrath of the Titans, which, even though sees an improvement in the 3D department, is just as crappy in every other aspect.

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Oscar Predictions

25 Feb

The 84th Academy Awards are coming up some forty-something hours from now, so I thought I should post my predictions right now and not wait until the actual day, so I can enjoy Oscar weekend (and the NBA All-Star weekend) fully and without distractions knowing that my (hypothetical and irrelevant) votes have been cast. I know there’s bound to be a surprise or two (and hopefully it’ll be a welcome one and not a Crash-like one) but a general consensus seems to have been reached, and of course The Artist is poised to be the night’s massive winner. Now, below I will list all of the categories except the three shorts categories (because I haven’t seen most of those films) and offer up my prediction for both who I think will win and who I think should win. Without further ado:

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)
Were this an old-school five-nominee race the nominees would most likely be The Artist, Hugo, The Help, The Descendants and Midnight in Paris, so you have to assume those are the only films with a shot at this one. However, while the other four do have a shot at it, it’s a very small one, as The Artist is bound to win the big one.
Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: Hugo
BEST DIRECTOR
  • Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
  • Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
  • Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)
  • Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
  • Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
Two master directors who aren’t expected to actually attend the ceremony. One of the best American directors continuing his masterful streak. The best of all-time (in my opinion) delivering a really different, and personal, film. And a Frenchman who a few months ago was unknown this side of the Atlantic. And, guess what? The unknown French is bound to win this one over the proven masters. Some people are saying that maybe there will be a split, The Artist taking Picture, Hugo taking Director. I would love to see that, but I doubt it’s happening.
Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius
Should Win: Martin Scorsese
BEST ACTOR
  • Demián Bichir (A Better Life)
  • George Clooney (The Descendants)
  • Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
  • Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
  • Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
It’s Clooney vs. Dujardin all the way here, with maybe Brad Pitt having a thing or two to say about this. But the big wins have been all Dujardin pretty much, so expect him to triumph here. Still, the real travesty is that Fassbender isn’t here.
Will Win: Jean Dujardin
Should Win: George Clooney
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)
Meryl or Viola? Viola or Meryl? That’s the question that lingers through the minds of Oscar aficionados. It’s probably going to be Viola though, she’s hasn’t won before (I know Meryl hasn’t won in like three decades but she’s won before, and twice) and she’s a black actress so it means the Oscars can claim diversity (which will be for naught after this week’s profiling of its members, all old white men) and, more importantly, even Meryl wants Viola to win. So yes, seems like Ms. Streep, the best that ever lived, will have to wait until August: Osage County for that extremely deserved and ellusive third golden man.
Will Win: Viola Davis
Should Win: Rooney Mara
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)
Some people are of the opinion that von Sydow could maybe make a run for it. Well, he could, but it’s not happening. This one’s Plummer’s all the way, as well as it should be.
Will Win: Christopher Plummer
Should Win: Christopher Plummer
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
  • Bérénice Bejo (The Artist)
  • Jessica Chastain (The Help)
  • Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
  • Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
  • Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Another Oscar that probably already has the name engraved on it. Considering Chastain is here for the wrong role and Mulligan and Woodley are absent from the shortlist, I’d actually give this one to McCarthy for shitting on a sink.
Will Win: Octavia Spencer
Should Win: Melissa McCarthy
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)
Will The Artist take this one as part of its big sweep, or will this be the category in which they honor Woody by giving him his third Oscar for writing (and fourth overall)? I’m going with Woody, because his screenplay was the best of the year, original or adapted.
Will Win: Midnight in Paris
Should Win: Midnight in Paris
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)
This will probably be the category in which they choose to honor The Descendants which at one point in the race was the front-runner for Best Picture. And rightfully so, since the script is brilliant, even if I did personally like Moneyball‘s better.
Will Win: The Descendants
Should Win: Moneyball
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
  • Bullhead (Belgium)
  • Footnote (Israel)
  • In Darkness (Poland)
  • Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
  • A Separation (Iran)
If the Iranian film doesn’t fin this one it would be one of the biggest upsets of the night, for sure.
Will Win: A Separation
Should Win: A Separation
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)
It’s a travesty that neither Senna nor Project Nim are here, let’s just hope that Pina can take this, even though I’m afraid it won’t.
Will Win: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Should Win: Pina
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)
I just saw Chico & Rita and it’s fantastic, but no animated film came even close to achieving the greatness that Rango did.
Will Win: Rango
Should Win: Rango
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)
The Artist should take this one as part of its sweep, though maybe Hugo can sneak in and take it from them. I would very much like to see last year’s winning team come in for the repeat, though.
Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
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)
I guess The Artist could potentially take this one, too. But the Academy gave some love to The Tree of Life in major categories, which means they’ve seen it and liked it quite a lot, and even those who didn’t must have been left in awe of the work Emmanuel Lubezki in crafting the year’s most visually stunning film.
Will Win: The Tree of Life
Should Win: The Tree of Life
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)
Well this one has to be Hugo‘s for sure, doesn’t it?
Will Win: Hugo
Should Win: Hugo
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)
The big thing here is the fact that neither Drive nor The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo were nominated, and that really sucks. Now, The Artist is a silent film so the score narrates the whole thing and keeps it moving, and that’s seriously a tremendous accomplishment.
Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: The Artist
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)
Only two nominees and the songs won’t be performed at the telecast, a real pity of you ask me. Still that means the odds improve so that we can say “Bret McKenzie, Oscar Winner” in the very near future.
Will Win: “Man or Muppet”
Should Win: “Man or Muppet”

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)
Right, if they didn’t Andy Serkis with an acting nod for his revolutionary motion-capture performance as Caesar the ape, they might as well reward the special effects team that made that happen. Though maybe this will be the Academy’s chance to reward the Harry Potter franchise, although they would be doing so in a smaller category than they should.
Will Win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Should Win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

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 how to predict these pesky sound categories but Hugo has won these awards at the other awards shows so might as well go with that pick for both as it will probably win at least one.
Will Win: Hugo
Should Win: Hugo

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)
Again, tough to predict these sound categories, though nothing would be more awesome than for Drive to pick up an Oscar.
Will Win: Hugo
Should Win: Drive
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
  • Anonymous (Lisy Christl)
  • The Artist (Mark Bridges)
  • Hugo (Sandy Powell)
  • Jane Eyre (Michael O’Connor)
  • W.E. (Arianne Phillips)
It’s probably, as per usual, a battle between The Artist and Hugo.
Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: Jane Eyre

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)
I think this is a toss-up between all three of them, or maybe just Potter and Iron Lady.
Will Win: The Iron Lady
Should Win: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
So that’s it for my predictions. Check back on Monday to see the full list of winners and how I did with these predictions!

Best of 2011: 20 Supporting Actors

6 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. For the fifth entry in the series of posts we have my Top 20 Performances by Supporting Actors of 2011:

20. GEORGE CLOONEY as Governor Mike Morris in The Ides of March

The Ides of March has been widely represented in my rankings (18th Film, 18th Screenplay, 13th Director, 13th Supporting Actress) and now George Clooney, after also getting mentions for his film, screenplay and directing, gets a shout-out for his performance as Governor Mike Morris, the idealistic and eco-friendly candidate of the political campaign at the center of the film. Mr. Clooney’s performance is great, because he knows what to do and don’t do with the role, and he’s just great at sparring with the rest of the insanely talented ensemble this film counts with, just having so many great actors around to play with is enough to make any performance be much better.

19. BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH as Peter Guillam in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy so far has been my #9 Film, #10 Director and #8 Screenplay, and in all three of those mentions I’ve said it was probably the smartest film of all 2011. I could have really chosen some other actors from this film, like Tom Hardy or Colin Firth, but I went with Benedict Cumberbatch, the star of BBC’s Sherlock who’s headed for great things, the stuff he does here with the role of Peter Guillam, the one agent at Circus the Gary Oldman’s Smiley can trust in, is just wonderful, bringing a lot of presence and magnetism to the screen.

18. ZACHARY QUINTO as Peter Sullivan in Margin Call

After making my Screenplay rankings (at #9) Margin Call gets a nod in this ranking because its whole ensemble is just supremely talented and brings a lot to the table. Zachary Quinto, best known for his role in Heroes and as Spock in the J.J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek, is Peter Sullivan here, a young analyst at a financial services firm that gets given a USB drive with data that anticipates the financial meltdown and kicks off the whole film. I think Quinto is a damn fine actor, and in a cast full of really great actors and performances, he managed to stand out because of what he brought to Peter.

17. PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN as Paul Zara in The Ides of March

Another mention for one of the Ides men, and you just know that Philip Seymour Hoffman in a politically-charged film surrounded with great actors would just throw it out of the park. And that’s exactly what he does in this film, especially since the source material was a stage play, and parts of the screenplay behave like a play as well, which means you have Mr. Hoffman as Paul Zara, the veteran campaign manager for Mr. Clooney’s character, delivering some lines that sound just like monologues taken right from the stage, and you can’t ask for much more than that, this whole film is a terrific showcase for actors.

16. VIGGO MORTENSEN as Sigmund Freud in A Dangerous Method

Viggo Mortensen is a hugely talented actor, we know that by now, and in David Cronenberg’s latest he goes against type to play Sigmund Freud. I say it’s going against type because when we think of him as Aragorn or fighting Russian mobsters while naked in a steam room, in here he’s engaging in really intellectual conversations and puffing cigars while portraying the father of psychoanalysis. I thought this unexpected casting really paid off though, with Mortensen bringing a charm and a humor to him, looking older and more refined than what he usually looks like in film; just great.

15. SETH ROGEN as Kyle in 50/50

My 19th Film, 6th Screenplay and 10th Supporting Actress performance (Anna Kednrick). Now Seth Rogen gets in this ranking thanks to a performance by him that saw him take quite a lot from his personal life: His best friend Will Reiser was diagnosed with cancer and he was with him every step of the way, he then wrote a script about his experience and Mr. Rogen stars as the character inspired by him. This is a career-best performance by Seth Rogen, the best performance he’s ever given by a clear mile, and the chemistry he has with Jonathan Gordon-Levitt is amazing, their rapport awesomely helping the film achieve the balance between funny and serious.

14. JOHN C. REILLY as Mr. Fitzgerald in Terri

John C. Reilly is one of the most incredibly versatile actors working today, and in Terri he’s working alongside Jacob Wysocki, a terrific new star, and the scenes they share with each other are a thing of awe, scenes that actually require some real communication between two characters, something easier said than done in today’s films. Mr. Reilly has nailed down this very unique brand of sad comedy in a way, and he uses that to perfection here to represent a huge range of emotion in his character.

13. ALAN RICKMAN as Professor Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

My 13th favorite film of the year, and a performance that for a while fanboys like me were trying to campaign all the way to an Oscar nomination, to finally get the most profitable film franchise of all-time an Oscar nomination outside of the technical categories. That campaign may have failed, but after seven films in which his character was just shrouded in mystery and secrecy, that veil is finally lifted in this conclusion, Snape’s real agenda revealed, and that meant we got some moments of spectacular emotion from him, and Alan Rickman just nails every last one of them, getting us teary-eyed in a film that did just that more than once for me.

12. EZRA MILLER as Kevin in We Need to Talk About Kevin

There’s something about Ezra Miller’s performance here that is just simply chilling to watch as the demonic spawn, as the horrible son to Tilda Swinton’s Eva, as the kid that goes on to commit a horrible shooting spree at his school. What the young Mr. Miller brings to the table is terrific, getting to the deepest of layers of Kevin and just portraying this antagonistic relationship with his mother, going toe-to-toe with Ms. Swinton, that’s amazing to watch for all its intensity. This guy is headed for some really great things.

11. KENNETH BRANAGH as Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn

Kenneth Branagh was pretty much born to play Sir Laurence Olivier. You get the sense that the guy had been preparing for this role his whole life, and the little details he brings to his impersonation of him show that he indeed probably spent quite a lot of time studying the acting great. It’s obviously never easy stepping into the shoes of such an icon, but Mr. Branagh manages to show the more human and vulnerable side of him, doing it in a way that’s both funny and heartbreaking, holding your attention every second he’s on screen and just going at it with the insuperable Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe.

10. JEREMY IRONS as John Tuld in Margin Call

The second member of the terrific Margin Call ensemble in my rankings. And it’s Jeremy Irons, a great actor who hadn’t really been this good in quite some time, he gives such an overpowering performance that just eats up whoever else is on-screen with him as he plays John Tuld, the C.E.O. of the financial firm that’s headed for the crapper. You need a guy as experienced as Mr. Irons to play a guy like him, carrying himself with a coolness under dire straits, calmly assessing what he has to do in order to survive; and he’ll do anything. Just a brilliant performance.

9. NICK NOLTE as Paddy Conlon in Warrior

The main beef people are having with Nick Nolte’s performance in Warrior, which got him an Oscar nomination, is that it’s a typical Nick Nolte performance that he could do in his sleep by this point in a career that spans nearly four decades. But, so what? It’s also an undeniably great performance, and one that, alongside his role in HBO’s new TV show, Luck, seems to be injecting new blood into that career that seemed to be slowly and quietly dying. It’s a role that he could rock, for sure, his gravelly voice adding a lot to a man who’s broken; you just know that Mr. Nolte took a lot from his own life experience to portray the guilt that consumes Paddy, battling an old alcoholic past he can’t turn to now to find solace.

8. JOHN HAWKES as Patrick in Martha Marcy May Marlene

From my #10 Film with my #14 Director and #13 Screenplay of the year, comes the supporting turn by the great John Hawkes also making a ranking of mine. After finally breaking out big with his Oscar-nominated turn in Winter’s Bone, here he gives yet another chilling performance as Patrick, the leader of a cult in upstate New York. He brings a lot to this role, just his eyes give this role a magnetism it needed, because you can see how this character is someone that you could grow to love and trust, how he’d seduce you into following him and joining his cult, Mr. Hawkes is such a tremendous actor that you believe him of being, both emotionally and intellectually, able to carry of such a psychological manipulation.

7. ANDY SERKIS as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Yes, that’s right, I’m firmly in the Andy Serkis bandwagon. People were trying a lot to campaign him to an Oscar nod for his role in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, with the one catch being that Mr. Serkis doesn’t actually appear in the flesh in the entire film. Instead, he gives a motion-capture performance, showing how amazing the technology he helped pioneer in The Lord of the Rings movies and King Kong can really be. And this is acting no matter what purists may say, his performance as Caesar steals the show from every human actor here, how he plays out the evolution of Caesar, from a small chimp to an ape that leads a revolution against humans, is amazing, and how convincing and moving his facial expressions and movements can be is a wonder to behold. Welcome to the future.

6. COREY STOLL as Ernest Hemingway in Midnight in Paris

Another film with mentions in all my rankings so far (#14 Film, #8 Director, #9 Supporting Actress and #1 Screenplay) and the performance by Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway is just sheer genius, it’s just an insanely memorable and effective performance from Mr. Stoll as the literary legend. Woody Allen obviously did an amazing job at bringing to life lots of legendary icons, but Hemingway stands out, speaking just like he writes and acted by Mr. Stoll with an unbelievable intensity. Just take a look at the scene in which he explains to Gil why he won’t read his manuscript and try not to be in love by this role and this performance.

5. BEN KINGSLEY as Georges Méliès in Hugo

Another film making it into all of my rankings (#1 Film, #1 Director, #11 Supporting Actress and #11 Screenplay). The performance by Ben Kingsley really should have gotten him an Oscar nomination, as Méliès he brings to life a legend of film history, now as a grumpy old man, pretty much broke, running a toy shop at a Paris train station, under the impression that all of the brilliant work he left behind to the world has been forgotten with him. This whole film is bursting through the seams with passion and love by Martin Scorsese, and the job Mr. Kingsley does is spectacular, there some scenes in which he’s just heartbreakingly good.

4. JONAH HILL as Peter Brand in Moneyball

Yes, the words “Academy Award nominee” now go before the name of Jonah Hill, and it’s actually a deserved recognition. His performance in Moneyball (my #7 Film, #9 Director and #4 Screenplay) is just outstanding, kind of groundbreaking inasmuch as that he has never done anything even remotely like this before, and he shows he really does have some dramatic chops in him as Peter Brand, the numbers guy brought in to help save the Oakland A’s. Going toe-to-toe with Brad Pitt and creating some really awesome chemistry between the two of them to make for a masterful film. I really didn’t know Mr. Hill had this in him.

3. PATTON OSWALT as Matt Freehauf in Young Adult

The only good thing about Patton Oswalt having been stupidly snubbed out of an Oscar nomination is the made-up story he started telling on Twitter about him and the other snub-ees forming a club and partying. Because honestly, he really deserved a nomination for his role in Young Adult (my #12 Film, #15 Director and #3 Screenplay) as Matt Freehauf the old classmate of Charlize Theron’s Mavis Gary whom she unexpectedly strikes up a connection with. Considering our lead character is a pretty unlikable woman, the film actually depends on Mr. Oswalt quite a bit because we as an audience need some we can sympathize to and relate to, and he just nails every single frame he’s in.

2. CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER as Hal Fields in Beginners

Christopher Plummer is an absolute lock to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar unless Max von Sydow stupidly manages to deny him of his long overdue right to call himself an Academy Award winner. His work on Beginners (also appearing on my rankings as my #15 Supporting Actress and #5 Screenplay) is just a sheer joy to watch, as an old man who, after the death of his wife, comes out of the closet and decides to live the twilight of his life as an active gay man. The bond that forms between him and his son (played by Ewan McGregor) during this stage of his life is amazing, and just how carefully Mr. Plummer crafts this role is amazing, bring a lot of presence to the screen and stealing every scene he’s in with his charm and iconic voice.

1. ALBERT BROOKS as Bernie Rose in Drive

Another film that’s been in all my rankings so far (#4 Film, #2 Director, #6 Supporting Actress and #16 Screenplay), and this time it gets a #1 nod for one of the most horrible and unforgivable Oscar snubs in recent memory. He plays a role that’s unlike anything you’d imagine from him, a bad guy in a movie full of them, but he gives Bernie Rose this sense of charisma and empathy that really gets you to be enthralled by this guy who you know means no good. This is an absolutely perfect performance, I really mean that, and I’m still mad about him not getting an Oscar nod.

Those are my Top 20 performances by actors in supporting roles. 4 of the Oscar nominees made it into my rankings (Max von Sydow was the one that didn’t), but were I to ran the actual Oscars only Plummer and Hill would’ve gotten nominations. Hopefully Plummer will continue his road to the golden man with as much as ease as he’s had in the precursor awards, which should be especially easy now that he (somehow, stupidly) doesn’t have to contend against Brooks.

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.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

1 Sep

Title: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Rupert Wyatt
Writers: Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, based on a premise suggested by the novel by Pierre Boulle
Starring: 
Andy Serkis, James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, intense and frightening sequences of action and violence
Runtime: 
105 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 
83%

 

My level of expectations for Rise of the Planet of the Apes has been sort of like a rollercoaster ride ever since the film was announced, with more lows than highs. I mean, I’m a huge fan of the original franchise, which is a must for every sci-fi geek out there and spawned five movies from the early 60’s to the early 70’s, but the 2001 remake spearheaded by Tim Burton and starring Mark Wahlberg did absolutely nothing for me and I think we would have been better off without it. So my feelings toward yet another stab at reviving the series were ambivalent at best. However, this film was meant to be more of a reboot than a remake, with director Rupert Wyatt stating that it was meant to satisfy old fans but also to bring in some new ones, much like Christopher Nolan did with Batman Begins, so I thought that was a much more reasonable approach, but still wasn’t sold on it, not even close.

As the talent started assembling, though, there wasn’t really much for me to get seriously excited about. I mean, the director was Rupert Wyatt, who’s debut film was 2009’s The Escapist, which was a rather smart prison break film which showed the guy certainly had some chops, but many directors have surprised with a small solid debut only to then crumble when given a big Hollywood studio budget for their second outing. The team of writers had my hopes in a huge downfall, as Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa had done only two other films prior to this one, and they were both done some fifteen years ago, one was Eye for an Eye, a very crappy thriller with Sally Fields, and the other was The Relic, an only slightly better horror thriller with sci-fi qualities. So yeah, not much to go on with the director and writers, I was seriously worried. The cast was led by James Franco, which was of course coming out of his Oscar-nominated turn in the masterful 127 Hours (though also out of the decidedly disappointing Your Highness, not to mention his horrid role as the latest Oscars host), and co-starred Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox and Tom Felton in his first post-Harry Potter role, which are all good but certainly not bulletproof.

However, there was a light at the end of the tunnel though, and that was Weta Digital was doing the special effects on the apes using their performance capture technology, anchored by the genius Andy Serkis, the pioneer in that technology. That gave me hope, but even though the apes seemed awesome when the first trailers and clips started arriving, I thought the acting looked horrible and we were in for a very mediocre end-of-summer film. However, the reviews that came out were quite positive, and my friends who have seen were all raving about it, so that had to count for something. And I have given this long rundown about how I wasn’t really expecting much from this film only because I like nothing better than being proven wrong when it’s for the best, which was certainly the case here as Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a truly outstanding film which actually stands as not only one the summer’s best blockbusters, but one of the year’s best films overall.

The direction by Mr. Wyatt is just incredible, full of visual flare that gives this film a tremendous style that benefits its intentions and really warrants for a full-on franchise revival, the script was actually pretty damn efficient for what it was trying to do, and the performances were all solid, though none of them really shined. And it’s fine that there was no real stand-out performances, because Mr. Serkis as the ape Caesar totally stole the show. And if you have heard all the discussion about there being an option for a motion capture performance to get an Oscar nomination because of what Mr. Serkis did here, all I can say is that it’s a discussion worth having, because the fact that we can connect so much with Caesar is all thanks to the outstanding job of the man who was on-hand at the birth of this technology and has since perfected its use.

Seriously, this is so much more than your usual blockbuster cash-grab, because it feels like it doesn’t have the volume and limitations of them, it’s just a summer blockbuster that’s thoroughly fun, but then again many of them are, what really sets Rise of the Planet of the Apes apart is the fact that it’s also incredibly smart, and that’s very rare, a summer film made for mass consumption that manages to fully entertain while at the same time acknowledging your intelligence is something of a rarity these days. This is the film that answers the questions, that takes us back to the beginning to show us how it all started to go bad for us and great for them, and how they, well, rose.

We have this massive drug company where Mr. Franco’s character, Will, works developing a new drug that could cure Alzheimer’s. He of course tests it on apes, because that’s how these films go, and the apes’ intelligence starts gearing up like crazy as they develop all new sort of communicative skills to go with it. The ape goes mad at a board meeting, though, and the experiment is cancelled, a huge blow to Will, not only because he has invested over half a decade in its development, but because his own father is suffering from dementia. What happens next is that Will breaks the son of the ape he tested the drug on out of the lab, and that would be Caesar, and decides to raise him at home, where he has some of the drug that he’ll use to inject on both the ape and his father.

If you think you can tell where this all goes next, you may be right, but knowing doesn’t make it any less exhilarating, as Mr. Wyatt and his team of editors and cinematographers have managed to embed in this film a truly outstanding pacing and look, working with the geniuses over at Weta to craft a film in which you really can’t tell where reality ends and the effects begin, as the special effects team headed by Joe Leterri (a four-time Oscar winner for his work on the last two Lord of the Rings films as well as King Kong and Avatar) does a revolutionary job, including the first time performance capture has been achieved outside a sound stage, that will probably get him a fifth statuette.

At first I was wary of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I will be the first to admit to that, and if you are as well I can only urge you to go see it because chances are you will be proven as wrong as I was. This is a sensationally well done film, from a script that was effective in crafting some real nice moments to reboot a franchise, with some stunning and stylish direction, human performances that were solid, and computer-generated ones that were unlike anything we have every seen before, especially that of Andy Serkis. You watch how he plays out the evolution of Caesar from a cuddly baby chimp to the ape boss that leads a revolution, you watch that, you watch how incredibly moving and convincing his facial expressions and body movements can be, you watch that, you watch that and then we can argue about the merits of a motion capture performance having no claim to be up for awards glory.

Grade: A-