Wednesday, December 11, 2013

SAG Award Nominees

Simply the Best

STUNT ENSEMBLE
All is Lost
Fast & Furious 6
Lone Survivor
Rush
The Wolverine

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

High-fives all around. Perfect.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels' The Butler

Look, Squibb's fine in the movie, don't get me wrong, but who's voting this as Best of the Year? I don't think she fully succeeds in overcoming the inconsistencies Payne has her play.

ACTOR
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels' The Butler

No Redford? Have we all gone mad? I figured Whitaker was getting in, but I had thought maybe McConaughey, maybe Hanks, would be swept out in favor of the Sundance Kid's effective solo performance. I'm glad they weren't, of course -- McConaughey's pretty good, and Hanks is giving one of the best performances in his career. But Redford, man....they should have kicked out Whitaker.

ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

I've yet to see the Streep and the Thompson, and they're two of my favorite actresses, so I'm optimistic. That being said, I do not get the hosannas over Bullock's performance. She does a good job anchoring the film, I guess, but when I look at the quietly gutting Rooney Mara in Ain't Them Bodies Saints, the layered warmth and panic of Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Enough Said, the relatable cycle of renewal and defeat Greta Gerwig portrayed in Frances Ha; when I look at all that, I can't help but feel we can do a hell of a lot better than Sandra Bullock in Gravity.

ENSEMBLE
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
August: Osage County
Dallas Buyers Club
Lee Daniels' The Butler

Dallas Buyers Club! Now there's a surprise! Honestly, I was hoping they'd come through for Prisoners here, but I think I'm one of a handful of people who knows what that movie was all about -- and adores it. That's a true ensemble with across-the-board greatness -- and while I like an all-star cast as much as the next fella, Lee Daniels' The Butler is hardly across-the-board in its merits. I mean, Jesus, Forest Whitaker?

I don't want to sound like I'm beyond disappointed with these results. I'm just not exactly thrilled by them. Like, OK, bully for Lee Daniels' The Butler and 12 Years a Slave - I loved both of them. But other than Dallas Buyers Club in Ensemble, the omission of Redford, and All is Lost in Stunt, there was nothing thrilling about this lineup. I'm sure I'll have a better handle on these by Christmas -- by then, American Hustle and August: Osage County will be out. You know, for US MORTALS.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Sincerest Form of Experimentation


Well, it took long enough but I finally finally started to watch some flicks for Shocktoberfest! The first film was one I'd never seen before, a divisive film that's been praised and damned equally, though one can't say it didn't take risks. From 1998, I give you...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The 1993 Retro Hollmann Awards: Part 3 (of 3!)

Finally, the third and final section of my 1993 Retro Hollmann Awards!

I took a lot more time than I usually do with these -- blame it on the rare quality of films we got this year. Some of my choices changed up to the moment I hit "PUBLISH", and I reserve the right to feel differently in the morning. It says something about this year, though, that my winner kept changing, that my nominees were so difficult to choose, that I still feel like I slighted worthy choices -- Christina Ricci in Supporting Actress, say, or Richard Linklater in Director. Still, as they say: it is what it is.

The final awards for 1993 honor Cinematography, Sound, Song, both Lead Acting categories, and of course...Picture:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The 1993 Retro Hollmann Awards: Part 2 (of 3)!

Finally, Part Two of my 1993 Retro Hollmann Awards! Last time, each of the six categories went to a different film. Will that incredible feat be repeated here? Who knows? (I do)

Keep it mind, today we're covering Best Visual Effects (three nominees!), Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Supporting Actress (prepare for some surprises!), Best Original Score and Best Original Screenplay. Winners are encased in gold. There's a lot of YouTubery ahead, so get ready for that loading time!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The 1993 Retro Hollmann Awards: Part 1 (of 3)

Oh, finally! One week later, and I finally have the first of my Retro Hollmann Awards for 1993 up! It was difficult to whittle everything down to these nominees, and then to actually choose a winner for each? Mercy! 

Yet I did just that, because that is what one does. Today, we're looking at six categories: Best Supporting Actor, Best Makeup, Best Ensemble, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director. Out of the 29 nominees here, only five were also nominated in these categories at the Oscars.

And, naturally, the winners are encased in gold.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

1993 Retro Hollmann Awards: The Longlists

Trying to at least get this in before midnight on the East Coast.

As is tradition, the precursor to my Hollmann Awards are the longlists. There are, at most, 15 finalists in each of the 18 categories. Some categories didn't make it to 15; those that fall under this umbrella have the number of finalists in parentheses.

BEST PICTURE
Carlito's Way
Dazed and Confused
Farewell My Concubine
Groundhog Day
Jurassic Park 
Manhattan Murder Mystery
Orlando
The Remains of the Day
Ruby in Paradise
Schindler's List
Searching for Bobby Fischer 
Six Degrees of Separation
Three Colors: Blue 
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
Wrestling Ernest Hemingway 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ignore the Big Picture: Art Direction, 1993

One of my favorite categories is Art Direction-Set Decoration (or, as of last Oscars, Production Design).

The team of Starski/Braun takes it for....Schindler's List!

Monday, August 26, 2013

More Than Mere Noise: Score, 1993

And we're back! I hope you had a loverly weekend, that you caught up with our 1993 Retrospective, that you took a look at Andrew's contributions to our time travelling activities, and that you watched at least some of the flicks written about here.

You've seen Schindler's List, right? John Williams won for it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Banner Year: Supporting Actor, 1993

Usually, Best Supporting Actor is a playground for overdue veterans, previously-nominated favorites, and perpetrators of category fraud. Like 1975, though, 1993 is a great example of actoring at the edges, with two transcendent perfs, two sublime ones, and one that's pretty damn great.

And that one, won! Tommy Lee Jones for The Fugitive!

Monday, August 19, 2013

No Nightmare? No Problem!: Original Song, 1993

It seems like it's been a while, yet it was only May when we last stepped into the Wayback Machine. This time, our journey takes us into the more recent past, a past that I was actually alive for: 1993.

A past where this happened

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Forthcoming 90s; Past 70s

If you follow me on Twitter, perhaps you saw the conversation between Andrew and I about our next trip down Oscar Memory Lane: the year 1993. That is, the year Steven Spielberg finally got his Oscar, for a film AFI twice considered to be among the Ten Greatest Films of All Time, and a Best Picture winner that even Nick Davis had to call "For the Ages". And I've never even seen Schindler's List! I'm saving it to be among the last I see, both to savor it, and because, who's in a hurry to watch a Holocaust film?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On Violence: A Peek at Only God Forgives

Over at The Film Experience, Michael C of Serious Film has posted his thoughts on Only God Forgives, the latest from Nicolas Winding Refn. While I agree that it's no Drive, the general reaction against the film has me concerned, particularly the consensus concern Michael voices regarding the
violence. As he puts it:

There are no human beings to be found in Only God Forgives. Only meat bags, useful as far as they can be posed in bullshit macho scenarios and then eviscerated. The film opens with child prostitution, rape, bludgeoning, and mutilation and that is only warm up for the various stabbings, beatings, scaldings, and eye gougings that follow. I should point out that any of these things I’ve listed can be redeemed in the execution. Context matters. Here they are thrown out haphazardly, in the hopes that the potency of the violence will obscure the fact that the film has not a thought in its head, nor any viewpoint on the material beyond “Isn’t this cool?”  

And here is where I disagree with him and other critics (though, please, read his comments -- I think they are reasonable ones, and we definitely agree on the problem of Kristin Scott Thomas). I commented on the page itself, but just so I have my thoughts on my own space, here it goes:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cinemaniacs: PACIFIC RIM

So, Ben and I saw Pacific Rim, and reviewed it for our review show, Cinemaniacs. Here's the video, and another link in case you're having trouble here:

   

I'm not at my most articulate here, I know, but I really, really enjoyed the movie. It's a lot of fun, but also took its time to establish a believable world, so much so that it could hardly be seen as a dismissable wank. Great care was taken in developing this grand spectacle, and it's so sincere that to wave it off exposes you as a killjoy. I bet you hate DeMille and Avatar, too, don't you?

Best in show was Rinko Kikuchi, although Mana Ashida almost walked away with the whole thing. She plays young Rinko in a short but vital segment, and goddam if you don't believe every moment! What a talent!


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Monday, July 1, 2013

Halfway Mark: 2013 Edition

It's July 1st, and you know what that means (or maybe you don't; either way, keep reading!): a First-Half Review!

Last year, I managed to catch 40 films,  and devote two posts to all of them. This year, I caught 40 again, but I ain't about all that work. Instead, here are my six least favorite experiences, two guilty pleasures, five enjoyable confections, and eight I really loved. But first...


The Fence
I have no idea yet where these two will fall, as I just saw them this weekend, but I really enjoyed both The Bling Ring and The Heat, although there were one or two caveats with each. Still, I'd probably see them again. Katie Chang!

Now for the rest. Many of these were reviewed on Cinemaniacs, my show on BiteSize TV with Ben Mekler, so I've linked those title, for further persual. Onward.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The 1973 Hollmann Awards: Part Two!

And, finally, after much waiting, the conclusion of my 1973 Hollmann Awards! Once again, all categories are presented in the exact order of the original Oscar Ceremony, held on April 2, 1974. There's only one category here not awarded by Oscar: Ensemble, awarded to the casting director, and here in place of the Honorary Oscar awarded to Groucho Marx.

Winners are encased in Gold. And now, with no more ado.....

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

At Least the Title's Appropriate


I'm not exactly married to the Kenneth Branagh version of Shakespeare's popular comedy, since I first saw it in middle school and haven't watched it since -- though I do remember the razor-sharp delivery courtesy Branagh and the incredible Emma Thompson (also, Emma's slow-mo bounce as she hey-nonny-nonnies 'cross the fields). So please please please don't assume that I could not get on board with Joss Whedon's contemporary take because I think Branagh is the master interpreter of the Bard. And do not think me anti-Joss, either: of his shows, I've only seen Roseanne, which is incredible; and I quite enjoy Toy Story, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Serenity, The Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The 1973 Longlists!

All right, you late-night fans of cinema and the Silver Screening Room. Here it is: the long-awaited (?) longlists for the 1973 Retro Hollmann Awards!


And So It Ends: Best Picture, 1973

Here it is: the last of my look back at the 1973 Oscars. And, of course, I'm ending as they did, with Best Picture of the Year.

"Oh, I'm so glad. The winner is The Sting." Can you spot the winner?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Single Ladies, Married or Not: Actress, 1973

Studies show that this category is most popular amongst my followers. Well, ok, not really studies. And not really followers (although, if you do have a favorite category, let me know!). I guess me. This category is most popular amongst me.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Two Uniforms, a Con Man, and a Pair of Middle-Aged Sadsacks: Actor, 1973

The five men nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role all walked away with an Oscar -- in different years, of course, and some in different categories. Only for Jack Lemmon was it this year, this category.



Sunday, May 26, 2013

Road to Farewell

Three more Oscar categories to report on, then two days of Retro Hollmann Awards. And then the flashback to 1973 will be...done.

I cut myself off after 64 films, a number I finally hit today. At first, I thought, "No, go for 70," but illness robbed me of two days' viewing, then there were work obligations and parties to attend, and I didn't want to bleed into June. Oh, I know -- many busier than I have watched more films in even less time. But they're not me, nor I them, so here we are -- 64 films from 1973:

...And Now the Screaming Starts! 
Ash Wednesday
Black Caesar
Black Mama, White Mama
The Candy Snatchers
Charley Varrick
Chloe in the Afternoon (aka Love in the Afternoon and L'Amour l'apres-midi)
Cleopatra Jones 
Coffy
The Day of the Jackal
A Delicate Balance
The Devil in Miss Jones
Dillinger
A Doll's House 
Don't Look Now
Electra Glide in Blue
Enter the Dragon
Executive Action
Five on the Black Hand Side
The Friends of Eddie Coyle
Goodbye, Uncle Tom (aka Farewell, Uncle Tom and Addio, Zio Tom)
The Gospel Road 
Heavy Traffic
The Hireling
Jeremy
The Last American Hero 
The Last of Sheila
The Long Goodbye
Magnum Force
Mean Streets
Night Watch 
O Lucky Man!
Scarecrow 
The Seven-Ups
Sisters 
Sleeper 
Soylent Green
Sssssss!
Theatre of Blood
Trick Baby 
Wattstax

Tune in all week long as complete our journey through time...and reveal our next blast to the past at the end.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

You Spoil Us, Really: Director, 1973

What the hell, 1973? Is this why we get nominees like Alejandro Gonsalez Inarritu and Paul Haggis and Alexander Payne? Did 1973's vortex of visionaries spoil the rest of the Academy Awards for all time?

The winner, George Roy Hill

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Not My Cuppa: Supporting Actor, 1973

In order to be nominated for an Academy Award, you have to show up on enough ballots in a Number One slot. Number One. As in, win or lose, you have to be someone's favorite of the year. I always have to remind myself of this when I look at the Supporting Actor fields. I especially have to think about it when I see some of the winners.

Grr....

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Moving About, Looking Good: Cinematography, 1973

My marathoning the films of 1973 tells me at least one thing: Cinematography was rarely flashy back then.

Cries and Whispers cinematographer Sven Nykvist

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tell It Again: Adapted Screenplay, 1973

I find this to be one of the hardest categories to adjudicate. Since we're talking previously-published works, there's reasonable doubt as to what belongs to the original author, and what belongs to the adaptor. I'm familiar with none of these books, so I have no inkling of the writers' fidelity to their source materials. How much is their own dialogue? What plot twists did they invent? What was thrown out to accommodate the world of cinema?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Teens, Swedes, Adulterers and Thieves: Original Screenplay, 1973

What a rare treat is this category, that it should include four of the five nominees for Best Picture!

David S. Ward, who won the Oscar this year for The Sting

Friday, May 10, 2013

70s Prom!: Original Song, 1973

On Twitter recently, I characterized the nominees of Best Original Song for 1973 as being selected by a high school prom committee. In the case of "The Way We Were", this was obviously true: I mentioned that it was the "theme" of my parents' prom. Which, come on, high schoolers of 1977. You're eighteen years old. What the hell memories could possibly be lighting the corners of your mind? Nookie behind the bleachers? Buying beer for your freshman buddies because you're eighteen, it's the 70s, and things are CAH-RAZY? Let's get real here.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Heads Up!

At the end of the week, I'm beginning another edition of my Oscar Flashback series, followed by my Retro Hollmann Awards. We've previously looked at 1964, 1974 and 1975. This year, I'm hoping to try a few more of these (possibly three?), in an attempt to celebrate significant anniversaries. We're starting with the 40th Anniversary of The Exorcist, Live and Let Die, The Way We Were, and more as we take an Oscar Flashback to...

1973

Join me this Thursday as we begin our journey with the nominees for Best Original Score.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Better Than Amyl Nitrate: Multiple Maniacs, 1970


Confession: the only John Waters movie I've ever seen is Cry-Baby, but I've been faking it for years. Even in sixth or seventh grade, I told my dance teacher I loved Divine (when, in reality, I had just read about him in a book of cult film reviews my dad owned; also, A&E Biography). Finally, Monday, John's 67th birthday, I ventured forth and OH MY LORD, was I definitely NOT PREPARED. This is the kind of ghoulish, sleazy cinema I live for; from the title to the grisly gratuities, you can tell Waters is a student of Herschell Gordon Lewis, Andy Milligan, and whoever made the Olga series (God forgive me for not remembering, but I'm faking it there, too).

Anyway, Multiple Maniacs. It more than lives up to that title's promise, even if there's only one thrill-killer in the ensemble; we also get junkies, blasphemers, fetishists, even a Weatherman (of the Underground variety, don't ya know?), and with the then-recent Manson murders hovering over all. In Lady Divine, Waters finds a compelling anti-heroine whose violent outbursts mirrors the confused anger of a nation whose Summer of Love proved to be all too tenuous, shattered by the Hollywood Hills murders, the ongoing war in Vietnam, the election of conservative, crooked Tricky Dick. It would take another six years for Paddy Chayefsky to filter that lost rage into Network's famous "Mad as hell" speech; Waters' images pack just as much punch, giving a face to Beale's description of "Punks...running wild in the street...nobody anywhere...seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it."

As Divine the character, Divine the actor is a perfect embodiment of these emotions. Make no mistake: Lady Divine is cuckoo, hurling rapid-fire abuse at her boyfriend, gang members and victims with equal venom; almost breathless in her fantasies of mass murder; literally frothing at the mouth in her climactic rampage. Yet do we not also feel for this Catholic girl who still finds some sort of fascination with the Gospel, who cares for her little girl Cookie with genuine heart, who almost achieves a sort of emotional fulfillment with lesbian church fetishist Mink? Of course we do! Lady Divine seems like a former housewife whose boredom with her life gave way to seeking restitution against a society that's blocked her ambitions and fantasies. She takes it too far, of course, but emotionally, we're on her side. We're definitely not rooting for boyfriend David, who convinces his broad Bonnie -- who only wants "to perform acts" with him -- to off Divine for him (it's a gender-swapped Double Indemnity!). Not only is he whiny, self-deluded, unreliable and unfaithful -- but he's just not as much fun. David gets a dildo in the ass; Divine gets a frickin' ROSARY.



Oh, yes, I suppose we must discuss such things in a John Waters film: his famous Shock Value and Bad Taste. After all that "deep reading" above, what can I say about the street rape, rosary anal beads, puke eating, cannibalism, and Lobstora? This is what I'm gonna go with: there is an almost unhealthy obsession with Christ's suffering on the way to Calvary, and anyone shocked by a "sexual deviant's" fetishization of this needs to take a closer look at the paintings and stained-glass windows...or just Passion of the Christ. Repression breeds necessity -- take away the sex, emphasize the violence, and someone's going to feel sexy about the violence. As for Lobstora, I like to think it's The Beast copulating with his earthly equal.

It has the wonderful, slapdash quality of the best underground efforts. Dialogue and sound bleeds from one scene into another, actors wait for cues before starting lines, or look for help off screen when they forget something. What of it? That's part of the charm of Multiple Maniacs; besides, you can't accuse those performers of insincerity, or sleepwalking, or being noncommittal. Divine and Mink Stole are actually quite natural and convincing in their roles, and I can't imagine a pair like, say, Shelley Winters and Agnes Moorehead, would play their respective roles any differently. Personally, I give a tip o' the hat to Cookie Mueller, who I found just mesmerizing as Divine's devoted, stoned, perpetually topless outlaw daughter. That face! Those line readings! Hypnotic!


Multiple Maniacs is required viewing for camp connoisseurs and sleaze specialists alike. It's shocking, funny, raw, and unforgettable.

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Follies of 2013!; or, Predicting Next Year's Oscars

Inspired by Nathaniel of The Film Experience,  every April, I -- and probably many other like-minded obsessives -- try to predict the Oscar nominees for next season. You may recall, I was the first to predict Bradley Cooper for a Best Actor nomination, something I cling to since (a) I mean, holy shit, I was right and people had doubts all the way to nomination morn, and (b) I was so very, very wrong about almost every other category.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Roundy: The Great and Powerful

So I saw Oz: The Great and Powerful last night. Thoughts on that forthcoming, but like most people, I scanned the Internet to see what others had to say, and in the comments section of Hollywood-Elsewhere, I found this little gem:



Which of course got me to thinking about Shampoo and my own Casting Coup of it, in which I finally decided on Matthew McConaughey in the Beatty role even though I was also considering Bradley Cooper, and suddenly I thought, "Geez, why didn't I think of Franco?" Because he's got that great hair and the whole casual sexy player vibe. Maybe he's too young for the role? Was that why I didn't think of him? I don't know but here got me thinking of this:


Oz -> George

Theodora -> Jill

Glinda -> Jackie, though the finale is a little different

Evanora -> Felicia, not a perfect comparison but go with me on this

China Girl -> Lorna, and I know how that sounds but it's a minor vying for his attention 
(and besides, that fanfic is gonna come up soon, you just know it (oh god, what would that even look like?))

Silliness, I know, but don't you love seeing the parallels between disparate films?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Top Ten and Hollmann Awards: The Finale

Ah, once again, I've bitten off more than I can chew. It's already March, the Oscars are over, so there's no reason to stay in 2012 for much longer. My Top Three are reviewed below in the Best Picture column, but let's gaze first at Makeup, Supporting Actress and Art Direction:


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar Predictions

Yes, I've still got my Hollmann Awards, but: BUSY DAY AHEAD!

I'm behind on the blog because I got a new job, a writing gig, and we've been working double-time for the Oscars. Tonight, I am part of a LIVE broadcast at the W Hollywood Hotel in, yes, HOLLYWOOD. This is just down the street from the Dolby Theater where my beloved Meryl will be presenting an Oscar and will feature some party shenanigans, so it's all very exciting. If you like to supplement your Oscar experience with commentary, do take a peek at bitesizetv.com. We'll be going up along with the red carpet coverage....

Meanwhile. I have to make predictions, so here they are:

PICTURE: Argo
DIRECTOR: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
ACTOR: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
ACTRESS: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Amour
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Argo
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Life of Pi
SCORE: Life of Pi
SONG: "Skyfall", Skyfall
EDITING: Argo
COSTUME DESIGN: Anna Karenina
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Les Miserables
SOUND MIXING: Life of Pi
SOUND EDITING: Life of Pi
MAKEUP: Les Miserables
VISUAL EFFECTS: Life of Pi
DOCUMENTARY: Searching for Sugar Man
DOCUMENTARY SHORT: "Mondays with Racine"
ANIMATED SHORT: "Adam and Dog"
LIVE-ACTION SHORT: "Buzkashi Boys"
FOREIGN FILM: Amour

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Top Ten: Django Unchained

This year for the Hollmann Awards, we're counting down my Top Ten of the Year -- one entry per day, coupled with two categories -- leading up the naming of Best Picture of the Year.

#4. Django Unchained 
dir: Quentin Tarantino
wr: Quentin Tarantino
cin: Robert Richardson

Django Unchained caught a lot of controversy since before its release. It's Quentin Tarantino giving the spaghetti western treatment to slavery in pre-Civil War America, sooooo yeah. Things were going to get testy. There's the constant use of THAT WORD, the near-silence of Django's apparently exceptional wife, the appearance of the white guys getting more to say and do than the supposed hero*. And there have been some good arguments made against the movie, but...well, obviously, I disagree.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Top Ten: Zero Dark Thirty

This year for the Hollmann Awards, we're counting down my Top Ten of the Year -- one entry per day, coupled with two categories -- leading up the naming of Best Picture of the Year.

#5. Zero Dark Thirty
dir: Kathryn Bigelow
wr: Mark Boal
cin: Greig Fraser

Let's get this out of the way. I am not someone who regularly judges a film's merits based on whether or not I can gel with it politically. I don't think Nixon was some sad-sack boogeyman, and I ain't sure about the second shooter question re: JFK, but you better believe I'm an Oliver Stone fan. Simply put, his movies are masterfully edited, audaciously shot, ambitiously written, and fucking entertaining. If a movie turns me off and I cite the stance it takes as a reason, it's probably more to do with a failure to comfortably integrate said point-of-view within the context of the narrative.

Which is all a long way of saying that I have no idea what Zero Dark Thirty's stance is on torture, and really, I find that it doesn't matter all that much. All I know is that I saw a thriller that had me engrossed from beginning to end, even through the slower, middle section.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Top Ten: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This year for the Hollmann Awards, we're counting down my Top Ten of the Year -- one entry per day, coupled with two categories -- leading up the naming of Best Picture of the Year.

#6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
dir: Stephen Chbosky
wr: Stephen Chbosky, from his novel
cin: Andrew Dunn  

The surprise of the year for me was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I didn't think much of the trailer, which had some good music looked like it was selling every high school movie I could think of ("we accept the love we think we deserve"? who says that?!). But I went to see it because my best friend recommended it and because I see everything. And I swear to you those tears started coming when titular wallflower Charlie got off that wall and joined in a dance to "Come On, Eileen". This movie got me, and we were only fifteen minutes in. Maybe less, I don't know.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Top Ten: 21 Jump Street

This year for the Hollmann Awards, we're counting down my Top Ten of the Year -- one entry per day, coupled with two categories -- leading up the naming of Best Picture of the Year.

#7. 21 Jump Street
dir: Phil Lord/Chris Miller
wr: Michael Bacall, story by Bacall/Jonah Hill, from the television series
cin: Barry Peterson

I have never seen an episode of the original "21 Jump Street", but I knew I liked Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill enough to be excited for the film adaptation. The trailer promised an action comedy in which two young men who went to high school in the early 00s return as undercover cops, only to undergo a culture shock when it turns out smart, sensitive guys are in and overlord jocks are out.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Top Ten: Moonrise Kingdom

This year for the Hollmann Awards, we're counting down my Top Ten of the Year -- one entry per day, coupled with two categories -- leading up the naming of Best Picture of the Year.

#8. Moonrise Kingdom
dir: Wes Anderson
wr: Wes Anderson/Roman Coppola
cin: Robert D. Yeoman

Moonrise Kingdom, like many of the films on this list, came with a lot on its shoulders. In this case, it wasn't festival hype or a franchise anniversary, but merely the fact that every new film by a respected auteur is met with baited breath, apologists and schadenfreude enthusiasts. Wes Anderson is especially prone to these, I feel, because his films come prepackaged with an upfront artifice that can come off as "twee", if not a way of holding real emotions and conflicts at arm's length. It's understandable to fear that the lost-in-time aesthetic utilized so beautifully in The Royal Tenenbaums would wear thin eventually.

And yet, Moonrise Kingdom may be the best film he's ever made. This time around, the retro designs and stylized miniatures add further depth to the story of a summer romance between an orphaned boy scout (Jared Gilman) and a lonely local girl (Kara Hayward). They're in that bizarre stage of pre-adolescence where they're having these feelings and puttering around with the physical aspect, yet still maintaining a degree of innocence and naivete that leads to fish-hook earrings and packing late library books as survival supplies. Anderson wisely guides the child actors into very serious performances, never overplaying the kid aspects, but treating them as mini-adults -- which, of course, all kids think they are. They are confident even when caught.


Top Ten: Skyfall

This year for the Hollmann Awards, we're counting down my Top Ten of the Year -- one entry per day, coupled with two categories -- leading up the naming of Best Picture of the Year.

#9. Skyfall
dir: Sam Mendes
wr: John Logan/Neal Purvis/Robert Wade, from characters created by Ian Fleming
cin: Roger Deakins
I love James Bond. It's a love affair that's entering its 10th Anniversary, and for their part, EON gave me one of the best films of the year, 007-based or otherwise.