Sunday, November 29, 2009

One Last Thing...

Ah, but I forgot to list the Golden Satellites' choices for the Top Ten Films of 2009! They are, in alphabetical order:

(500) Days of Summer
I'm glad it's not just giddiness from seeing this with Marc Webb and Geoffrey Gilmore: the movie really is that great. Hopefully, it will continue to get screenplay honors, but a nod for Joseph Gordon-Levitt -- or even Best Picture -- would not be unwelcome.

Bright Star
Again, something I got to see because of one professor's connection to Apparition. Beautiful piece of work, and I'm glad the Golden Satellites have recognized it.

An Education
Yes, undoubtedly among the best that the first eleven months of 2009 had to offer. Carey Mulligan is transplendent.

The Hurt Locker
So far, still good. One of those movies that I wish was on DVD right now. Definitely approve.

Inglourious Basterds
Oh, yeah, I enjoyed it. But I still feel a movie that doesn't lose me even though I missed seven minutes near the end is a movie with too much fat. But I guess until it leaves my own Top Ten, I have no room to complain.

In theaters December 18.

Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Hm...Great movie, but I have to do some thinking before I declare among my Top Ten of Right Now.

A Serious Man
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! The Coen Brothers' best film, in my opinion, leaps and bounds above No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowksi and Fargo. The only question: Why aren't more people talking about supporting actor Fred Melamed?

The Stoning of Soraya M.
I don't think this even came out in Tallahassee. Anyone know how I can get hold of a copy?

Up in the Air
In theaters December 4.

Let the Great Experiment Begin!

Oh, thank God, an awards body has announced its nominations. The Golden Satellites are the crazies who nominate people like Lisa Kudrow (Kabluey) and Beyonce Knowles (Cadillac Records) while actually handing out awards to movies like Ghost Town (for Ricky Gervais) and Quantum of Solace (for original song, of all things). I love them to pieces, because they actually vote their favorites instead of trying to guess the Academy's tastes (BAFTA, I'm looking at you). That said, I rarely see half the movies they nominate due to financial difficulties or their absence from area theaters. Nevertheless, we must plunge head-first, like Pete Rose.

Neill Blomkamp/Terri Tatchell, District 9
Nora Ephron, Julie & Julia
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Nick Hornby, An Education
Jason Reitman/Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
REACTION: Ooh, Up in the Air needs to come out so I can properly judge. I need to read the Lynn Barber memoir that inspired An Education and see that short film District 9 is based on. Fletcher will probably get it. Ephron's inclusion excites me most.
FLASHBACK: Last year, seven competed in this category: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Doubt, Elegy, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Revolutionary Road and Slumdog Millionaire. Only Elegy and Revolutionary Road failed to make the final cut at the Oscars (though both were superior screenplays to The Reader -- and I hated Rev Road). Frost/Nixon won, but would lose to the juggernaut that was Slumdog Millionaire at the Oscars.

Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Jane Campion, Bright Star
Ethan Coen/Joel Coen, A Serious Man
Pete Docter/Bob Peterson, Up
Scott Neustadter/Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer
REACTION: Man, substitute Up for something like -- OK, I admit, Jennifer's Body -- and this would probably be my own line-up for this category. As of now, I mean. But a strong field. I'm gonna say it's between Campion and Boal, and I give the edge to Jane Campion.
FLASHBACK: Australia, Frozen River, Milk, Seven Pounds and The Visitor were the nominees. That just looks hilarious now. Did anybody even see Seven Pounds? The Visitor won here, but only Frozen River and Milk made it to the Oscars; the latter won.

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Neill Blomkamp, District 9
Jane Campion, Bright Star
Lee Daniels, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Rob Marshall, Nine
Lone Scherfig, An Education
REACTION: Well, Nine has yet to be released. And the directing was bizarre in Precious. But a strong group, otherwise. I expect Marshall to take this.
FLASHBACK: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), Stephen Daldry (The Reader), Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon), Thomas McCarthy (The Visitor), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) and Gus Van Sant (Milk) were nominated; David Fincher (Benjamin Button) was not. Boyle won this and every other award, including the Oscar.

Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
James McAvoy, The Last Station
Alfred Molina, An Education
Timothy Spall, The Damned United
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
REACTION: Oh-ho, so they ignore Sony Pictures Classics declaring McAvoy lead, do they? Very wily, Sats. Waltz wins this, the Globe, the SAG, the Oscar, everyone goes home happy.
FLASHBACK: Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder), James Franco (Milk), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt), Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight), Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) and Rade Sherbedgia (Fugitive Pieces[??]) were the nominees. Shannon upset the Ledger train and won the Golden Satellite, but the Oscar still belonged to the Joker. Franco and Sherbedgia were skipped over to allow Josh Brolin (Milk) into the club.

Emily Blunt, Sunshine Cleaning
Penelope Cruz, Nine
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mozhan Marno, The Stoning of Soraya M.
Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
REACTION: See, it's unexpected nominations for actors like Blunt and Marno (whose performance I've yet to see) that makes these worthwhile. Mo'Nique will probably win the Oscar, but why do I suspect Kendrick gets this one?
FLASHBACK: Penelope Cruz (Elegy), Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married), Anjelica Huston (Choke), Beyonce Knowles (Cadillac Records), Sophie Okonedo (The Secret Life of Bees) and Emma Thompson (Brideshead Revisited) were the nominees here, but only one of them was invited to the other awards shows...and for a different movie. DeWitt won, and deservedly so.

George Clooney, Up in the Air
Bradley Cooper, The Hangover
Matt Damon, The Informant!
Daniel Day-Lewis, Nine
Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man
REACTION: Stuhlbarg! Stuhlbarg! Stuhlbarg!
FLASHBACK: Josh Brolin (W.), Michael Cera (Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist), Ricky Gervais (Ghost Town), Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges), Sam Rockwell (Choke) and Mark Ruffalo (The Brothers Bloom) were contenders, with Gervais taking the win! None of them saw Oscar noms, though I consider Gleeson and Ruffalo supporting turns.

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Hugh Dancy, Adam
Johnny Depp, Public Enemies
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
Michael Sheen, The Damned United
REACTION: I wish they could keep the number of nominees consistent. I've only seen the performances from Dancy, Depp and Renner, but I wouldn't be surprised if this went to Firth.
FLASHBACK: Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road) and Mark Ruffalo (What Doesn't Kill You) are the odd men out, especially since Ruffalo's movie was released almost straight to DVD after Yari Film Group went bankrupt. The others included Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon), Golden Globe Winner Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) and Oscar Winner Sean Penn (Milk). Jenkins won here, though, because the Sats doesn't play by your rules.

Sandra Bullock, The Proposal
Marion Cotillard, Nine
Zooey Deschanel, (500) Days of Summer
Katherine Heigl, The Ugly Truth
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
REACTION: Ha. A friend of mine's mother says that anyone who laughs at The Ugly Truth is an asshole. Ladies and gentlemen, the assholes have spoken. Some would predict Streep, probably, but a bee in my bonnet tells me Cotillard.
FLASHBACK: All bridesmaids in this category. Catherine Deneuve (A Christmas Tale), Kat Dennings (Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist), Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky), Lisa Kudrow (Kabluey), Debra Messing (Nothing Like the Holidays) and Meryl Streep (Mamma Mia!) were all on board, but none of them even made it to the SAGs. A pity, since Hawkins not only won the Globe and the Satellite for this category...she was also the Best Actress in any category for the whole year.

Shohreh Aghdashloo, The Stoning of Soraya M.
Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria
Abbie Cornish, Bright Star
Penelope Cruz, Broken Embraces
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Catalina Saavedra, The Maid
REACTION: Quite the indie crowd, this lot. Blunt gets it, because why not?
FLASHBACK: Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Angelina Jolie (Changeling), Melissa Leo (Frozen River), Meryl Streep (Doubt) and Kate Winslet (The Reader) would all do repeat business at the Oscars, making Kristin Scott Thomas (I've Loved You So Long) the odd gal out. Jolie won here (!!) but Winslet would go on to claim the Oscar.

Julie & Julia
The Informant!
It's Complicated
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
REACTION: By the way, we all know Up in the Air is competing as a drama for the Globes, right? Interestink. Methinks A Serious Man gets it here.
FLASHBACK: Choke, Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Tropic Thunder and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, though Choke, Nick and Norah and Tropic Thunder were not even invited to the Globes. None of these films went on to get a Best Picture nom (hello? comedy?). Happy-Go-Lucky won here, but lost the Globe to Vicky Cristina.

Bright Star
An Education
The Hurt Locker
The Messenger
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
The Stoning of Soraya M.
REACTION: The two male-driven films, The Hurt Locker and The Messenger, also happen to deal with war. Also, one of them (The Hurt Locker) is directed by a woman. Let the Goddess reign supreme this Oscar Season! Oh, and winner will be, uh...The Hurt Locker?
FLASHBACK: Slumdog Millionaire won (of course), competing against Frost/Nixon, Frozen River, Milk, The Reader and Revolutionary Road. Although River and Road never ran through Best Picture Blvd., their absence did make room for one of the best films of the decade, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

For more nominees, check out their official site.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

An Education

When I saw An Education with my roommate, he declared that in the last three days, "We've seen all the acting Hollywood has to offer." And although we've yet to see Nine, The Lovely Bones, Avatar, Up in the Air or Invictus, I am inclined to agree.

An Education, based upon Lynn Barber's memoirs, follows 16-year-old Jenny in pre-swinging 60s England as her parents push her towards Oxford and an older man begins courting her. We see hints of the youthful attitude that would spark The Sixties as we now know them, as Jenny questions the why and the wherefore of her uptight lifestyle. At the same time, the glamorous life of her suitor and his friends has a dark side that she is not ready for, making life quite difficult.

Carey Mulligan has been getting enough raves for her breakout performance. Must I really add fuel to this fire? Well--yeah! Yeah, of course I must! Mulligan gives a mature performance, utterly believable as an intelligent girl on the brink of womanhood. I am always most impressed with performances that remind me of people I know, and Mulligan reminds me of several. She's like Audrey Hepburn with a Daria-esque edge to her. It's a stunning performance that I can't do justice to, really. Suffice to say, she's among the year's best performances.

The female-heavy supporting cast is awesome. Cara Seymour is suitably loving yet a little distant as Jenny's pensive mum Marjorie. Rosamund Pike, who I love more and more, is tragic as the dim Helen, a woman desperately clinging to her ignorance as she becomes more aware of it. Sally Hawkins has only one scene and a few lines, but my God she's good. Emma Thompson and Olivia Williams are the teachers, and it is shocking to see the former so unlovable and the latter so plain. The men are represented by Alfred Molina, Peter Sarsgaard and Dominic Cooper. Molina is great as Jenny's exasperated, pushy father, and his monologue about the Oxford Tree is hilarious in both its writing and delivery. Sarsgaard is the older suitor, both charming and skeevy. Cooper is his bored friend, a more dastardly role than his turn in Mamma Mia!.

It's all good, really. Screenwriter Nick Hornby has crafted everyone believably enough, with the right dollops of humor, intelligence, and gravitas to make it all work. And director Lone Scherfig is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I love the way she moves the camera and arranges her actors and executes her scenes. It's perfect, just perfect. Music from the era complements the fine score by Paul Englishby. Cinematography by John Borman is subtle yet effective. And this is the 60s, which means costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux has a field day with the women's gowns and the men's suits. Gorgeous.

An Education is a genius film that you would be foolish to miss out on. You might as well have missed Juno in 2007. There's no reason for it: it's one of the best films of the year, and all ages can appreciate it. Grand.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pros/Cons: Fantastic Mr. Fox, State of Play


Pros: Clever/funny screenplay, stellar voice work, great score (Alexandre Desplat) and soundtrack, a funny and catchy original song that actually progresses the plot, great production design/costumes

Cons: Too short

Comments: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Michael Gambon and Wally Wolodarsky (as opossum Kylie) are the true stand-outs. For the first time since The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson's oddly anachronistic touches fit naturally. I have to see this again.


Pros: Great chemistry between Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams, majority of actors bring their A-game, suspenseful and thrilling without resorting to car chases, actually had me at the edge of my seat, Robin Wright Penn

Cons: Final "twist" trifle annoying and out of nowhere, Helen Mirren plays one note, intrusive score, story needs more room to breathe

Comments: I feel like there was so much that wound up on the cutting-room floor, especially for poor Jeff Daniels. When is that guy going to get a break? I do think Russell Crowe is one of the most consistently watchable actors working today. I would have liked to see this done with Ed Norton in the Ben Affleck role, though. That would have been interesting.


It's not just the hype. Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire is a damn good movie. In adapting the novel for cinema, Geoffrey Fletcher manages to flesh out and add characters without compromising either the despair or the hope of Sapphire's work. Mario Grigorov's score, when we do hear it, has a sort of ethereal quality, reminding me of the work of Dominik Scherrer (PBS/ITV's Marple). Andrew Dunn's cinematography is appropriately gritty and "real".

And yet...Director Lee Daniels, though commendable as far as his work with actors goes, is a flashy director. And this, to me, is not a flashy story. Slow-mo, overlays, excessive dissolves...what's it all for? This movie works so well for the majority of the time, yet it is just distracting when Daniels adds his "flourishes". It's a shame, really, that what could have been a four-star film must instead be relegated to a mere three-and-one-half.

But yes, yes, we must talk about the actors. The ensemble of girls Precious meets at the alternative school is incredible. The easy chemistry between the six or seven girls we meet help get us (and Precious, of course) through the tougher parts of the film. The real stand-out among them is the talkative, jocular Joann, played by Xosha Roquemore. I know this girl. I went to school with this girl. When a character this small becomes this relatable, someone's doing something right. The actress? The writer? The director? The answer is yes. Paula Patton's Ms. Rain is almost saintly, the teacher trying to help these girls get by. She is as excellent as she is beautiful. Sherri Shepherd, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz have small roles, with Kravitz's Nurse John clearly written in as an example of a good man (there's no such thing in the original novel). Shepherd is just fine, of course, and Carey reveals an acting ability that we never even suspected. So good on her.

And then there are the Joneses. Gabourey Sidibe is the titular Precious; Mo'Nique is her mother Mary. Ho. Ly. Crap. Sidibe will break your heart and warm your soul in this movie, and if you don't want to reach out and hug her -- not piteously, but to claim as a bestie for the restie -- then something must be wrong with you. Patton's character says at one point, "People do love you, Precious." And I heard several people in my theater claim their love for her under their breath. Mo'Nique, meanwhile, is the mom from Hell. I had chills. Her first monologue, raw and abusive, dropped my jaw. Her final monologue gave me goosebumps. Mark these two on your ballots, people; they're in.

A fine film, with commendable production values and an amazing ensemble. I just wish Daniels could have calmed down the style and trusted the substance.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Getting to the Gold?

At Universal's Oscar campaign site, they've finally given a listing to It's Complicated. And for now, they're only pushing four actors. Meryl Streep in lead, of course. Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin in supporting. But there's one other supporting actor campaignee on their roster.

Neato. I wonder how big a role he actually plays, though, Or just who he is, exactly. Still, once again, I am totally looking forward to this movie.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Christmas in November


The Box is such an odd little movie. I mean, it's a Richard Kelly film, so head-scratching is inevitable. This is, after all, the guy whose previous films are giant bunny flick Donnie Darko and clusterfuck Southland Tales. The Box fits snugly in between, for while it at least has a story (take that, Southland Tales), it is not as consistently brilliant as Kelly's debut.

Another Virginia-set period piece, The Box revolved around a middle-class couple played by James Marsden and Cameron Diaz, and the Mysterious Arlington Steward (Frank Langella) who makes them a curious offer: they will receive one million dollars for pushing a button on a hollow box...but someone they do not know will die. And that's the first ten minutes of the film. The rest is the unraveling of the mystery. What is the Box? Who is this Mysterious Arlington Steward with half a face? What's it all about, Alfie?

Kelly's film is an uneven one. While I could not help snickering at some lines at the beginning, I was breathless by film's end. It's a brilliant finale, preceded by both genuinely chilling moments and head-shakingly cheesy ones. Marsden and Langella are consistently great, but Diaz teeter-totters between exquisite and just OK. I don't think Kelly's script is any big help, of course, as the role of Norma Lewis is too saintly for the film's premise to work. The cinematography by Steven B. Poster is oddly bright, and at times looks a little soft. It gives the whole movie a weird, dreamy effect that is appropriately uncomfortable.

I wish they had done more with the setting. Christmas 1976 looks awesome, but there's no real reason for it. Christmas matters not, except to give us a creepy Santa; at least give me some holiday-themed dialogue like William Hootkins in Hardware. The 1970s aspect is cool, but man do they beat you ober the head with it. Many scenes begin with a popular 1970s something on TV, someone switches it off, begin dialogue. This happens multiple times. Johnny Carson! The crying Indian! Alice's Restaurant! It's the SEVENTIES! But...why the seventies? Because of the references to the Mars Viking project? I don't understand its relevance to the plot, really -- though this may be due to the typical density of Kelly's stories.

The best part of the film? The score by Win Butler, Regine Chassagne and Owen Pallett, members of the Canadian band Arcade Fire. Eerie, beautiful, period-perfect. The violins, the piano, it's all very atmospheric. That's a guarantee in a Richard Kelly movie: the music will always be phenomenal.

At the end of the day, I know I would buy and re-watch this movie over and over. It's great fun, it's outrageous, and sometimes it's a damn masterpiece. It ain't perfect, but it's got spirit!


This is how all weekends should start: with a 3D spectacular that's determined to be a MAJOR FREEKING EPIC!!! God Bless Robert Zemeckis and team for not pulling any punches in what is sure to become a holiday tradition! Yes, yes, we all know the story by now. Scrooge and the ghosts and Cratchit and Tiny Tim and all that. And certainly, nothing will ever equal the 1951 version starring Alaistir Sim , easily the most atmospheric and darkly funny of all the films. But damn if this one doesn't come close.

This movie gets it. The gallows humor, the horror aspect, the spiritual LIFT that is achieved by journey's end. The Ghosts are horrifying, even the one of Christmas Present, to an extent. The figures of Ignorance and Want -- shit, I don't want no part of them. And it's truly the first version of this timeless tale that I felt that fear of either. The Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come is cleverly interpreted, though it must be said that a "harrowing" chase scene in his segment is awkward, a curious misstep for this production.

Alan Silvestri's score is made up of boisterous renditions of holiday hymns such as "Good King Wenceslas" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". Andrea Bocelli sings an original song with a huge chorus of children over the closing credits. The effects are eye-popping and grand. A truly miraculous production, it demands hyperbole and multiple exclamation points!!!

Yet it also has its intimate moments. The Cratchit home during the Christmas Yet to Come sequence is heart-wrenching, and the breakup scene between young Ebenezer and his fiancee is almost uncomfortably quiet. Jim Carrey and Robin Wright Penn really sell this scene, of course. Indeed, Carrey does a wonderful job in a number of roles, including Scrooge through the years and the Three Ghosts. His eyes are not "dead", as is the regular complaint with mo-cap movies, but full of the bitterness or jocularity required. Zemeckis's pet etchnology is improving every year. Only Colin Firth's character, nephew Fred, was beset with emotionless eyes, but everyone else was surprisingly full of life.

Besides Firth and the chase scene, the only real problem with the film is a strange shoving-aside of Tiny Tim. When Scrooge pleads for Tiny Tim's life, all I could think was, "Why? What was he seen about this kid that makes him so sympathetic?" It's one of the most important aspects of the story, and it hardly seems relevant here. Bizarre.

I wish I had the money for the soundtrack. It's what Christmas should be.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oh, Hi, Christmas, You're Early!

Dear God,

I heard that Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin will be co-hosting the Oscars. Now, I know you and I have had our disagreements in the past, but I just want to apologize. If this kind of team-up is happening, then you must be real! You must exist! Thank you!


Sunday, November 1, 2009


As October waned, I made the effort to see some 2009 releases when not working on other people's films. And I did it! But first, some news:

Because of my actual Film School activities and some last minute rigmarole concerning ticketing, I was unable to attend the Ian McKellen thing. That will teach me to brag prematurely. The absolute worse part? I overheard this conversation at Borders two days later:

MAN: I saw Ian McKellen speak the other day at the theatre school.
MAN: You know, the guy from Harry Potter?
WOMAN: Oh, yeah...
MAN: Yeah, he was interesting. He sure could talk, though. After two hours, I was like, "Come on, already."

You, sir, did not deserve to see Ian McKellen, and not just because you think he's Michael Gambon. You got tired of watching him speak. You can take whatever Armistead Maupin book you picked out and shove it up your ass, for while you may be able to read, you are certainly illiterate in the realm of theatre and all that is holy. Shithead.

And now the reviews:


So, Matthew Perry's life is going down the tubes, and Brian Doyle Murray magics him into his younger self, who happens to be Zac Efron. Now he gets to help his HIGH SCHOOL. I remember laughing out loud and finding it perfectly charming. Yet I cannot really remember the movie itself. Zefron and Perry do a surprisingly good job of playing different ages of the same man, so that was neat. Zefron got Perry's mannerisms down to a T. And I liked the romance between Zefron and Leslie Mann -- that they sold it as uncreepily as they did says a lot about their abilities as actors. Other than that, and an odd date scene between Lt. Dangle and Jan Levinson-Gould...meh.


Holy crap, is this really the first movie I saw in theaters since Jennifer's Body? A good way to end October, surely. It's probably the smartest in the series since Saw II (which I love), and even gets to be relevant by taking on the Vice President of a Health Insurance Company! The challenges in this game are actually pretty suspenseful, and I cared a LOT about what happened to the characters this time around. It was nice to finally care again. The editing was also a lot less ADD this time around. Great fun, if you're into it. But if you don't like Saw to begin with, you won't see this anyway. That's OK, but you'll be missing some great entertainment.


Some movies get better and better upon reflection. This is one of those. True, I only just saw it Sunday night, but even now, I'm thinking it's probably one of the best movies of the year. It's basic plot: Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) goes through a week of crises in a mostly Jewish community in 1967 Minnesota. You would think a movie that basically tells you God doesn't care and religion won't help would be a downer. Ok, it is in a way, but it is uproariously funny at the same time. The Coen Brothers may have won their Oscar in 2007, but this film is their true masterpiece. Stuhlbarg's performance should be generating more discussion, but for me, it was all about Fred Melamed as Sy Ableman, a pompous intellectual whose eloquent phraseology is hilarious in its pretentiousness. A gem of a comedy -- but DARK.


Despite the pacing issues -- the middle portion is QUITE padded -- I really enjoyed Where the Wild Things Are. I wasn't ready to be hurled into the darker, more complicated second half of the film, but I liked that it took me there. There's some real genius in the expansion of Maurice Sendak's universe, as written by Spike Jonze (also director) and Dave Eggers (who co-wrote the disappointing Away We Go earlier this year). Some deep, disturbing shit goes down in this movie, and it hits hard. Catherine Keener's teeny tiny role as the mom is great (as always), but let us not forget the Wild Things. Although they are not in the costumes, James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara, Chris Cooper, etc., bring a lot to their table in their performances. And of course, Max Records, playing Max (appropriately enough), is just as talented as he is adorable. Can't wait for this kid to get more work.

Ack, but that Karen O score! Distracting, cacophonous, irritating! Yes, yes, it is appropriately "wild", but it was not my cuppa, thank you very much. Such a shame; "Maps" is my second favorite song of all of ever.

[Pic from AwardsDaily]