Monday, February 28, 2011

Thoughts and Feelings on the Oscars


-James Franco and Anne Hathaway were an uncomfortable pair. She had energy, and I liked that she was off-the-cuff genuinely excited about being there and seeing everyone and everything. Franco, though, just stood there. I don't think he was acting "too cool for school", I think he genuinely didn't know what to do. Maybe he got nervous?

-Christian Bale referencing his Terminator: Salvation on-set rant was awesome, as was Melissa Leo's entire speech. That both of them won makes me extremely happy.

-Btw the category of Best Supporting Actress has been on fire since 2007, hasn't it? Swinton, Cruz, Mo'Nique, and now Leo. Damn! That's a good streak!

That's how you set a bar, baby!

-I came back home from work just as Best Picture was announced. Thank goodness, because my recording stopped right before Spielberg took to the stage, so I still got to see The King's Speech get its Oscar before rushing to catch up. I knew it was only a matter of time before that g-damned announcer spoiled everything for me.

-When I went back to watch the whole show, I could see actual suspense when, 3/4 through, The King's Speech had one Oscar and The Social Network had three -- including Best Original Score! Ya-hooooo!!!

It looks good on you.

-I wish Colin Firth had given in to his desires and danced. I really do. God, he's amazing. My personal pick may have been Eisenberg, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't rooting for Firth

-I scored 16/24 on my Oscar predictions. I missed all the shorts (you're right, Jake Gyllenhaal, they do make or break a ballot), Lead Actress (play it safe, Walter, play it safe), Art Direction, Cinematography, Score and Song.

-Alice in Wonderland has two Oscars; The Wolfman has one. And people are bitching about The King's Speech?

-There was a moment when Bardem and Brolin went out on stage in white tuxes, and it looked like they were about to dance. Suddenly, we cut away to Penelope Cruz for an interminable yet sexy length of time. Still, did they cut away from two dudes dancing because it was two dudes dancing? I can't imagine they'd shy away from that, what with Franco in drag and all.

-This is the first year ever in which all the acting Oscars went to Hollmann Award Nominees! Hooray!

My opinion roooocks!
The winners:
 [bold indicates correct predictions, * indicates Hollmann Award Nominee]

PICTURE: The King's Speech
DIRECTOR: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
*ACTOR: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
*ACTRESS: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
*SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christian Bale, The Fighter
*SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: David Seidler, The King's Speech
*ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Wally Pfister, Inception
*EDITING: Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall, The Social Network
COSTUME DESIGN: Colleen Atwood, Alice in Wonderland
ART DIRECTION: Alice in Wonderland
*SOUND MIXING: Inception
*ORIGINAL SCORE: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, The Social Network
ORIGINAL SONG: We Belong Together, Toy Story 3
FOREIGN FILM: In a Better World
DOC SHORT: Strangers No More

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Final Predictions, Sad News

Friends, I have a job! Yes, having dinked around since graduation, I am officially employed at the local arthouse theater, my favorite in the area. I will soon be ripping ticket stubs and providing popcorn for fans of Oscar flicks, foreign cinema, and documentaries. It's the place where I first saw Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, The King's Speech, Biutiful, and many things in between. The flip side? I'm working until 11:00 Sunday night, thirty minutes from home, which means I will be missing the Oscars....for the first time since 1997.

Fortunately, I'm going to record them, so I will still get to experience the shock and surprise of the show, albeit late...and I'll get to FF through commercials. Alas, I will have to by-pass Twitter coverage and my own live stream of the show, but it's worth it. I wouldn't be this involved in the Oscars were it not for this theater. I owe them big time.

This also means you'll know how I did on my predictions looong before I do. And what a great segue -- for here they are:

By the way: great Oscar moment

Will the war between The King's Speech and The Social Network cause a split and allow a third film to rise? No. This might be one of those split years, or all of this lead-up could be meaningless. Who's to say? Smart money is on The King's Speech, of course, since it cleaned up at BAFTA, PGA, SAG and DGA. Myself, I think it sounds weird to hear that title coming after "Best Picture", even though I think it's a worthy contender...then again, it's just as weird to hear The Social Network in that role. Hm...
WILL WIN: The King's Speech
SHOULD WIN: Black Swan
WHAT'S MISSING: I Am Love (instead of True Grit)

Again, it's a battle between Tom Hooper, who actually seems to want it, and David Fincher, who apparently could care less. Maybe the Academy will give it to Fincher's superior work, since people who love him, really love him. Yet I can't help but think that I may be disappointed...though certainly Hooper's unconventional direction is a fine choice for the category.
WILL WIN: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
SHOULD WIN: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
WHO'S MISSING: Luca Guadagnino, I Am Love (instead of the Coens)

Portman's been cleaning up, but haven't we seen this before? A chance to award a respected veteran (Bening/Arkin) over the frontrunner with a January comedy (Portman/Murphy)? Hm... The difference, though, is that Norbit was reviled, whereas No Strings Attached is considered quite harmless. Then again, The Bening... There's nothing but opportunities for surprise this year (except for actor), and this would be the category for it.
WILL WIN: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
SHOULD WIN: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
WHO'S MISSING: Kim Hye-ja, Mother (instead of Jennifer Lawrence)

Despite Leo's three wins in this category at the Critics Choice Awards, Golden Globes, and SAGs, this category isn't locked down yet. Or, at least, that's what some people are saying. Perhaps Leo's "Consider" ads did leave a bad taste in people's mouths, but I feel like there's nowhere else to go. The anti-Leos will, I suspect, split each other, leaving us with...Leo.
WILL WIN: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
SHOULD WIN: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
WHO'S MISSING: Sissy Spacek, Get Low (instead of Hailee Steinfeld)

No contest.
I'd like to thank the Academy...
WILL WIN: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
SHOULD WIN: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
WHO'S MISSING: Robert Duvall, Get Low

I want to say this is Christiane Bale's. I probably will say it's Christian Bale's. But I can easily see Geoffrey Rush sneaking in at the last moment for a grand triumph. I almost want to predict that, but I already predicted a Bening upset, and two upsets seems a little extreme.
WILL WIN: Christian Bale, The Fighter
SHOULD WIN: Christian Bale, The Fighter
WHO'S MISSING: Michael Shannon, The Runaways (instead of Jeremy Renner)

From the beginning, I've known there was only one film that could win this. Maybe -- MAYBE -- Cholodenko and Blumberg or Nolan could surprise, but the win for The King's Speech in Picture starts here.
WILL WIN: David Seidler, The King's Speech
SHOULD WIN: Scott Silver/Paul Tamasy/Eric Johnson/Keith Dorrington, The Fighter
WHAT'S MISSING: Andres Heinz/Mark Heyman/John McLaughlin, Black Swan (instead of Another Year, but only because I haven't seen it)

From the beginning, I've known there was only one film that could win this. It probably would've won the WGA even if it wasn't eligible!
WILL WIN: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
SHOULD WIN: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
WHAT'S MISSING: Edgar Wright & Michael Bacall, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (instead of 127 Hours)
This is tougher. Conventional wisdom would tell you Roger Deakins will get his career award for deserving work in True Grit. ASC would tell you Wally Pfister is getting it for his incredible work for Inception. I tell you it deserves to go to Matthew Libatique for Black Swan. Hell, love for The King's Speech could get Danny Cohen a win! The only thing I'm certain won't win here is Jeff Cronenweth for The Social Network. Maybe it's best to go with conventional wisdom.
WILL WIN: Roger Deakins, True Grit
SHOULD WIN: Matthew Libatique, Black Swan
WHAT'S MISSING: Benoit Debie, The Runaways (instead of The Social Network)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Alexandre Desplat, The King's Speech
BEST EDITING: Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall, The Social Network
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Alice in Wonderland
BEST ART DIRECTION:  The King's Speech
BEST MAKEUP: The Wolfman
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: "If I Rise", 127 Hours
BEST SHORT DOC: "Poster Girl"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Hollmann Awards: The Sexy Categories

The awards you've all been waiting for.... are after the jump. Click Read More if you want to explore my opinion....

The Gold Rush: An Oscar Discussion - Part 2

If you may recall, my friend The March King and I are waxing verbose on the Oscars (thsi Sunday on ABC!) Yesterday, I hosted Part One of our discussion, in which we addressed makeup nominees, Jacki Weaver, and nice surprises. Today, The March King presents thoughts on animated film, song, and of course, Best Picture of the Year.

And by the way, give March King's blog a read. It's not purely cinema-focused, offering some self-reflection, thoughts on current events, and examples of his own work as an actor in Los Angeles. Besides, I grew up with him, and don't you want to know what kind of people I regularly hang out with? Hm? Anyone?

The Hollmann Awards: The Technicals

Let the Hollmann Awards begin!

Sound, VFX, Score, Editing: all vital components of a film, all taking place long after the cast has gone home and the First AD is on to the next job. Post-Production workers amaze me with their patience and fortitude, and without them, we would have no movie.

But of course they have to have something to work with, and it wasn't until Film School that I realized just what goes into all the work on-set. Costume, makeup and art direction all came from the same person on our student films, and it's a challenge, truly. Creating a consistent look that enhances the film rather than just detailing it -- yet never skimping on said details -- is a bitch, and everyone had to take on that role at least twice. I like to think I was pretty good at the costumes, but props, set design, etc., fascinates and bewilders me. Cinematography I fell in love with, meanwhile, and even though I'm no great shakes at it, I admire anyone who is.

Though I won't master these crafts or post-production categories myself, one should always applaud the ones that know what they're doing, and do it well. Enough with the talk, let's get to the winners of the technical categories for The Hollmann Awards. Oh, and if you need a refresher on how I'm ranking these, refer to this chart.

The Fighter
Hoyt von Hoytema
The handheld work in Lowell is appropriately gritty and fly-on-the-wall. Then we have those moments with Dickie in jail, or with Micky backstage just before the final fight. Real beauties.

I Am Love
Yorick le Saux 
Guh. Le Saux knows how to emphasize his colors (and when), and gets the most out of his daytime exteriors and nighttime interiors.

Black Swan
Matthew Libatique
In third place - changes between the theatrical and the natural keep us on our toes and Nina off her rocker: Matthew Libatique, Black Swan.

Get Low
David Boyd
It's awfully cool on that hermit's property, but it seems warmer when Spacek enters the picture.

The Runaways
Benoit Debie
Clubs, roller rinks, concerts, green rooms, trailers, recording studios, all have a distinct feel. Dreamy and scary.

Quite simply, movies would be a muddled mess without the editor. Each scene has multiple set-ups, each set-up has multiple takes; the editor makes sense of it all.
127 Hours
Jon Harris
Crawl into the head of a man trapped, dehydrated, close to death.
Black Swan
Andrew Weisblum
It starts out with a beautifully-done dream sequence, continues in an orderly fashion with the auditions, but once the heroine loses it, it's all on Weisblum to make sure we feel it. And do we ever.

Blue Valentine
Jim Helton, Ron Patane
Witness a marriage crumbling, and a romance the same time.

I Am Love
Walter Fasano
Three scenes of note: the prawns, the sex in the field, and the finale. A masterpiece of emotional highs.

The Social Network
Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall
Rapid-fire dialogue, multiple depositions, and the rise of Facebook. We'd be lost without an expert cutter.

Black Swan
Amy Westcott
Well, kudos of course to Rodarte's work with the ballet costumes. But you know there's no way I'm not going to mention Winona Ryder's gala dress. Or Natalie Portman's protective, pink day wear (scarves, sweaters, coats: that girl is frigid). Or Barbara Hershey's black beauty.

Michael Kaplan

The green dress in "Bound to You" should be iconic, right? Right up there with that dress made of pearls.

For Colored Girls
Johnetta Boone
Yes! Gets everything about its characters right. Anika Noni Rose (Yellow) in loose but beautiful skirts, Loretta Devine (Green) with so many earrings and ensembles, Janet Jackson (Red) in tight, constricting business suits (even her lingerie looks tight!), Whoopi Goldberg (White) in her one outfit. Everyone has a specific look.

The Runaways
Carol Beadle
Character-appropriate, period-conscious, and damn do I want Michael Shannon's wardrobe.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Laura Jean Shannon
From Scott's lazy t-shirt and jeans to Gideon's spotless white suit, no detail is lost. Ramona's hipster dreamgirl outfits would win Best in Show, but Roxie's torn, dominatrixy ensemble is too cool. Especially for school. Seriously, the dress code probably wouldn't allow it.

Black Swan
Therese DePrez, production design
Tora Peterson, set decoration
Hey there creepy paintings, dingy apartment, well-placed mirrors, and busy dressing rooms! You're looking good, all while maintaining the color palette and claustrophobia.

For Colored Girls
Ina Mayhew, production design
C. Lance Totten, set decoration

Gets its characters. Best examples: the sterility of Janet Jackson's penthouse, the creepy hoarding of Whoopi Goldberg's basement apartment. And then there's that colorful career center, matching Loretta Devine...divinely.

I Am Love
Francesca Balestra Di Mottola, production design
Monica Sironi, set decoration

Recall you the Eastern influence of the grandmother's house? The cluttered mess of the young chef's? The opulence of the Recchi clan's? Oh, for Heaven's sake, that plate of prawns!

The Runaways
Eugenio Caballero, production design
Fontaine Beauchamp Hebb & Mark Walker, set decoration

You know how I know it nails it? The sets look like photos of my parents in high school: Wood paneling, questionable color schemes, and big blocky telephones. Those motel rooms look like dens of iniquity, don't they?

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Marcus Rowland, production design
Odetta Stoddard, set decoration

Heh. The emptiness of Scott's apartment (poverty) versus that of the Chaos Theatre (minimalist!) is clever enough. Love the glass interior during the Roxie Richter fight (is that my favorite sequence? I didn't think so, but the crafts! The crafts!).


127 Hours
Gina Homan, Stephanie Scott
I will never get over those peeling, dehydrated lips and sunken eyes. Ugh.

Black Swan
Marjorie Durand, Geordie Sheffer
Necessarily theatrical in the finale, of course, but dare we forget those red eyes and the scratched back? Dare we forget Beth's legs? Oh my God, and do you remember the necessary theatricality of the finale?

Piranha 3D
Katherine James, Gregory Nicotero, Jeffrey Sacino
People holding on to their guts! Men staring at their half-eaten corpses! Hair being ripped off someone's scalp! This movie was all kinds of wrong, beginning and ending with the gore effects.

The Runaways
Robin Matthews, Terri Velasquez
The right amount of smear after a sweat-soaked stage performance and all-night bender. Kim Fowley is his makeup and clothes, and the former hits it as often as the latter. Stage makeup? Bowie tributes? Darling, it's grand!

Saw 3D
Colin Penman
These movies always make me cringe with their gore. It always looks like it hurts, and you know why? Believable makeup effects. Ripping off the skin of your back because it's super-glued to the leather interior of a car? BLEEEECCCCCCHHHH. Am I the only one here who loves these movies?


127 Hours
Douglas Cameron; Steven C. Laneri, mixers
Niv Adiri, Andrew Caller, Richard Pryke; Ian Tapp, re-recording mixers
Glenn Freemantle, supervising editor/designer

We're in Aron Ralston's head, with every movement of an ant amplified, every drop of water significant.

Black Swan
Ken Ishii, mixer
Craig Henighan & Dominick Tavella, re-recording mixers
Henighan, editor
Henighan & Brian Emrich, designer
Every cracking toe, every warped noise, every note of music, every subtle swan sound.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Chris Burdon & Doug Cooper, re-recording mixer
Greg Chapman, mixer
Julian Slater, supervising editor
James Boyle, designer
Music and action blending together in a world influenced by video games.

The Town
Aaron Glascock & Curt Schulkey, supervising editors
David J. Schwartz, mixer
Steve Maslow & Gregg Landaker, re-recording mixers
The climactic shoot-out at Fenway is enough to warrant its inclusion.

TRON: Legacy
Christopher Boyes & Gary Rizzo, re-recording mixers
Michael McGee, mixer
Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, supervising editor
Addison Teague, supervising editor/designer

Mixing the sounds of a computer world with the music of Daft Punk, giving character to each lightcycle and airship.

Black Swan
Dan Schrecker, Henrik Fett

It utilizes head-replacement technology, but also plays a vital part in Nina's transformation into the Black Swan. The mirror scenes are creeeeeepy.

Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Peter Bebb

Hello? Whole dream worlds. Cities, beaches, apartment buildings. And that shot where the city folds in on itself: outstanding.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Frazer Churchill, Dennis Berardi, Aaron Weintraub, Arthur Langevin

About 95% green-screen effects, which helped with the editing. But let's not forget the extra life, the digital swords, the psychic powers, and the rock gorilla battling the electronic snakes.

The Social Network
Adam Howard, Charlie Iturriaga, Shahana Khan, James Pastorius, Fred Pienkos

There was obviously more done: cold breath, CG'd backgrounds, some digital clean-up. But really, the Winklevoss head-replacement thing is awesome.

TRON: Legacy
Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Karl Denham, Nikos Kalaitzidis

This was an entire freeking world! Plus creepy Plastic Jeff Bridges, which worked fine for CLU and nothing else.

Hans Zimmer
Already iconic. It's epic, but it also has its haunting moments.

Lee Byeong-woo
Playful and suspenseful, supporting the dark humor of the film.

Never Let Me Go
Rachel Portman
Its violins are as tender as Cathy's heart; beautiful, elegiac.

Rabbit Hole
Anton Sanko
Works best as a salve. You don't hear it in some the film's rougher moments, but it's ever-present when Becca needs it most: the flutes of the garden, the strings of Sotheby's, the piano of the memory...

The Social Network
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
The opening composition sends me. Let the electronic sounds of Zuckerberg's kingdom soothe you into submission.

"Bound to You" from Burlesque
Christina Aguilera, Samuel Dixon, Sia Furler

Aguilera sells this torch song, a declaration of devotion that serves as the background to scenes of post- and pre-coitus.

"But I Am a Good Girl" from Burlesque
Alain Bernardini, Jacques Morali, Steven Antin 

Sublimely cheeky!

"You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" from Burlesque
Diane Warren

Cher sells it. A power ballad that ranks with the best. Having a bad day? Let this song talk you through it, baby.

"Pimps Don't Cry" from The Other Guys
Jon Brion, Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, Orr Ravhon, Erica Weis 


"Ramona" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Beck Hansen

Perfectly captures Scott's romanticism, and isn't that what it should do? Beautiful lyrics, haunting melody.