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BEST PICTURE
Will Win: Argo --- It has picked up nearly every other Best Pic award in Tinseltown
Should Win: Silver Linings Playbook --- The best picture of the year. Despite the top-heavy noms, it will likely fall to Argo.
Could Win: Amour --- A critical favorite, pulls the heartstrings. But not a memorable here-and-now kind of movie.
Other nominees:
‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’
‘Django Unchained’
‘Les Misérables’
‘Life of Pi’
‘Lincoln’
‘Zero Dark Thirty’



BEST DIRECTOR
Will Win: Steven Spielberg --- How can the Academy go against their living legend.
Should Win: Ang Lee ---  He filmed the unfilmable.
Could Win: Michael Haneke --- Again, the Academy adores this film and may give it this extra statue.
Other Nominees:
Benh Zeitlin, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’
David O. Russell, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

BEST ACTOR
Will Win: Daneil Day-Lewis --- The man became Lincoln. Enough said.
Should Win: Bradley Cooper --- The performance of the year.
Could Win: Joaquin Phoenix --- He is mesmerizing, but his dislike of the award circuit doomed his real chance.
Other Nominees:
Hugh Jackman, ‘Les Misérables’
Denzel Washington, ‘Flight’

BEST ACTRESS
Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence --- She was amazing, amazing, amazing.
Should Win: Naomi Watts --- Her performance as a mother swept away in the Indonesian tsunami was breathtaking.
Could Win: Emmanuelle Riva --- Oldest nominee. Birthday is Oscar night. Just won a BAFTA. Could spoil the evening.
Other Nominees:
Jessica Chastain, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’
Quvenzhané Wallis, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Will Win: Robert De Niro --- Heartbreakingly hilarious.
Should Win: Alan Arkin --- He plays the Hollywood insider too well.
Could Win: Tommy Lee Jones --- It's TLJ for crying out loud.
Other Nominees:
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, ‘The Master’
Christoph Waltz, ‘Django Unchained’


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Will Win: Anne Hathaway --- Someone calculated the votes wrong if she loses.
Should Win: Amy Adams --- She is brilliant as the outsider.
Could Win: Helen Hunt --- An Academy favorite in a very sexual performance.
Other Nominees:
Sally Field, ‘Lincoln’
Jacki Weaver, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Will Win: Wreck-It Ralph --- A hilarious and spot-on feature.
Should Win: Frankenweenie --- Touching beyond words.
Could Win: Brave -- It's Pixar. So, yeah...
Other Nominees:
‘ParaNorman’
‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’


BEST FOREIGN FILM
Will Win: Amour ---  No chance for anything else to win
Should Win: Amour --- See above
Could Win: Nothing --- See above
Other Nominees:
‘Kon-Tiki’, Norway
‘No’, Chile
‘A Royal Affair’, Denmark
‘War Witch’, Canada

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Will Win: Amour --- The Academy loves this kind of script.
Should Win: Moonrise Kingdom --- A touching script.
Could Win: Django Unchained --- Tarantinto always has a shot
Other Nominees:
‘Flight’
‘Zero Dark Thirty’

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Will Win: Argo --- Has won nearly every script award so far and it comes in as a fave for the big award.
Should Win: Silver Linings Playbook --- Will go down as a classic script. Trust me.
Could Win: Lincoln --- The Academy loves historical scripts.
Other Nominees:
‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’
‘Life of Pi’


BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Will Win: Anna Karenina --- No other period film to match its grandeur.
Should Win: Anna Karenina -- See above
Could Win: Les Miserables --- A chance for this flick to sneak in here.
Other Nominees:
‘Lincoln’
‘Mirror Mirror’
‘Snow White and the Huntsman’

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Will Win: Skyfall --- Adele. That is all you need to know.
Should Win: Skyfall --- See above.
Could Win: Nothing else stands a shot.
Other Nominees:
“Before My Time” from ‘Chasing Ice’
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from ‘Ted’
“Pi’s Lullaby” from ‘Life of Pi’
“Suddenly” from ‘Les Misérables’

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Will Win: Life of Pi --- Has picked up virtually every score award so far.
Should Win: Skyfall --- Breathless action music. Amazing.
Could Win: Anna Karenina --- Period piece with classical taste.
Other Nominees:
‘Argo’
‘Lincoln’


BEST DOCUMENTARY
Will Win: Searching for Sugar Man --- Amazing Detroit doc.
Should Win: Searching for Sugar Man -- See above.
Could Win: How to Survive a Plague --- Liberal Hollywood might want to give another doc award to conservative bashing.
Other Nominees:
‘5 Broken Cameras’
‘The Gatekeepers’
‘The Invisible War’


BEST DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

Will Win: Inocente --- Cute, but serious.
Should Win: Redemption --- Very serious.
Could Win: King's Point --- Doc about retirement community issues.
Other Nominees:
‘Kings Point’
‘Mondays at Racine’

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
Will Win: The Hobbit --- Did you see those beards?
Should Win: The Hobbit --- See above.
Could Win: Les Miserables --- Period piece makeup.
Other Nominees:
‘Hitchcock’


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Will Win: Anna Karenina --- The theatre-as-a-set thing was brilliant.
Should Win: Anna Karenina --- See above.
Could Win: Les Miserables --- Again, a period piece.
Other Nominees:
‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’
‘Life of Pi’
‘Lincoln’

BEST FILM EDITING
Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Could Win: Argo
Other Nominees:
‘Lincoln’
‘Silver Linings Playbook’

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Will Win: Life of Pi --- Beautifully shot.
Should Win: Life of Pi -- See above.
Could Win: Lincoln
Other Nominees:
‘Anna Karenina’
‘Django Unchained’
‘Skyfall’

BEST SOUND EDITING
Will Win: Argo
Should Win: Life of Pi
Could Win: Skyfall
Other Nominees:
‘Django Unchained’
‘Zero Dark Thirty’

BEST SOUND MIXING
Will Win: Les Miserables
Should Win: Life of Pi
Could Win: Argo
Other Nominees:
‘Lincoln’
‘Skyfall’

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Will Win: Life of Pi --- Astonishing effects
Should Win: Prometheus --- the 3D was beyond amazing
Could Win: The Hobbit --- They love Peter Jackson's WETA
Other Nominees:
‘Marvel’s The Avengers’
‘Snow White and the Huntsman’


BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Will Win: Paperman --- Nearly perfect, though very saccharine
Should Win: Paperman --- See above
Could Win: Adam and Dog
Other Nominees:
‘Fresh Guacamole’
‘Head over Heels’
‘Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”’


BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Will Win: Curfew
Should Win: Curfew
Could Win: Asad
Other Nominees:
‘Buzkashi Boys’
‘Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)’
‘Henry’
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Yep, it is THAT time of year again. Time for the Hollywood elite and their addiction therapists to step out from the shadows and into a primetime telecast!

Like last year's Oscars, there are again 10 nominees for Best Picture. But this year the Academy is using a variation of "preferential voting" to determine winners. That means the most number one rankings do not a winner make. In fact, the winning picture could, mathematically, be ranked as low as sixth on a majority of ballots and still come away a winner. I am sure that puts a lot of faith in the Academy!

Anywho, here is a list of nominees for each category followed by who SHOULD win and who is LIKELY to win. Because of the preferential voting, it is beyond impossible to say who will win, just who is most likely.

Oh, and I will also be live blogging the Oscars beginning anywhere from 4 to 7 (when the show starts), depending on my setup. So, here it goes:

BEST PICTURE
"127 Hours"
"Black Swan"
"The Fighter"
"Inception"
"The Kids Are All Right"
"The King's Speech"
"The Social Network"
"Toy Story 3"
"True Grit"
"Winter's Bone"

SHOULD WIN:  Inception
LIKELY TO WIN: The King's Speech


BEST ACTOR

Javier Bardem, "Biutiful"
Jeff Bridges, "True Grit"
Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"
Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"
James Franco, "127 Hours"

SHOULD WIN:  Jesse Eisenberg
LIKELY TO WIN: Colin Firth


BEST ACTRESS
Annette Bening, "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman, "Rabbit Hole"
Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"
Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
Michelle Williams, "Blue Valentine"

SHOULD WIN: 
Jennifer Lawrence
LIKELY TO WIN: Natalie Portman


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale, "The Fighter"
John Hawkes, "Winter's Bone"
Jeremy Renner, "The Town"
Mark Ruffalo, "The Kids Are All Right"
Geoffrey Rush, "The King's Speech"

SHOULD WIN:  John Hawkes
LIKELY TO WIN: Christian Bale


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, "The Fighter"
Helena Bonham Carter, "The King's Speech"
Melissa Leo, "The Fighter"
Hailee Steinfeld, "True Grit"
Jacki Weaver, "Animal Kingdom"

SHOULD WIN:  Jacki Weaver
LIKELY TO WIN: Melissa Leo


BEST DIRECTOR

Darren Aronofsky, "Black Swan"
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, "True Grit"
David Fincher, "The Social Network"
Tom Hooper, "The King's Speech"
David O. Russell, "The Fighter"

SHOULD WIN: David Fincher
LIKELY TO WIN: David Fincher


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

"Another Year," Mike Leigh
"The Fighter," Paul Attanasio, Lewis Colich, Eric Johnson, Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy
"Inception," Christopher Nolan
"The Kids Are All Right," Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko
"The King's Speech," David Speidler

SHOULD WIN:  Inception
LIKELY TO WIN: The King's Speech


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
"127 Hours," Simon Beaufoy, Danny Boyle
"The Social Network," Aaron Sorkin
"Toy Story 3," Michael Arndt
"True Grit," Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
"Winter's Bone," Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini

SHOULD WIN:  Winter's Bone
LIKELY TO WIN: The Social Network


BEST ART DIRECTION
"Alice in Wonderland," Robert Stromberg; Karen O’Hara, Peter Young
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I," Stuart Craig; Stephanie McMillan
"Inception," Guy Dyas; Lisa Chugg, Paul Healy, Douglas A. Mowat
"The King’s Speech," Eve Stewart; Judy Farr
"True Grit," Jess Gonchor; Nancy Haigh

SHOULD WIN:  Alice in Wonderland
LIKELY TO WIN: The King's Speech


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHER

"Black Swan," Matthew Libatique
"Inception," Wally Pfister
"The King’s Speech," Danny Cohen
"The Social Network," Jeff Cronenweth
"True Grit," Roger Deakins

SHOULD WIN:  Inception
LIKELY TO WIN: True Grit


BEST COSTUME DESIGN
"Alice in Wonderland," Colleen Atwood
"I Am Love," Antonella Cannarozzi
"The King’s Speech," Jenny Beaven
"The Tempest," Sandy Powell
"True Grit," Mary Zophres

SHOULD WIN:  Alice in Wonderland
LIKELY TO WIN: The King's Speech


BEST EDITING
"127 Hours," Jon Harris
"Black Swan," Andrew Weisblum
"The Fighter," Pamela Martin
"The King’s Speech," Tariq Anwar
"The Social Network," Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall

SHOULD WIN:  Black Swan
LIKELY TO WIN: The Social Network


BEST MAKEUP

"Barney’s Version"
"The Way Back"
"The Wolfman"

SHOULD WIN:  The Wolfman
LIKELY TO WIN: The Wolfman


BEST SCORE
"127 Hours," A.R. Rahman
"Inception," Hans Zimmer
"The Social Network," Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
"The King’s Speech," Alexandre Desplat
"How to Train Your Dragon," John Powell

SHOULD WIN:  Inception
LIKELY TO WIN: The Social Network


BEST SONG
"If I Rise" from "127 Hours"
"Coming Home" from "Country Strong"
"I See the Light" from "Tangled"
"We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3″

SHOULD WIN:  "If I Rise" (127 Hours)
LIKELY TO WIN: "We Belong Together" (Toy Story 3)


BEST SOUND
"Inception"
"The King's Speech"
"Salt"
"The Social Network"
"True Grit"

SHOULD WIN:  Inception
LIKELY TO WIN: Inception


BEST SOUND EDITING
"Inception"
"Toy Story 3"
"TRON Legacy"
"True Grit"
"Unstoppable"

SHOULD WIN:  Inception
LIKELY TO WIN: Inception


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
"Alice in Wonderland"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I"
"Hereafter"
"Inception"
"Iron Man 2"

SHOULD WIN:  Inception
LIKELY TO WIN: Inception


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

"Biutiful" (Mexico)
"Dogtooth" (Greece)
"In a Better World" (Denmark)
"Incendies" (Canada)
"Outside the Law" (Algeria)

SHOULD WIN:  In a Better World
LIKELY TO WIN: In a Better World


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
"How to Train Your Dragon"
"The Illusionist"
"Toy Story 3"

SHOULD WIN:  Toy Story 3
LIKELY TO WIN: Toy Story 3


BEST ANIMATED SHORT
"Day & Night"
"The Gruffalo",
"Let’s Pollute"
"The Lost Thing"
"Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)"

SHOULD WIN:  The Lost Thing
LIKELY TO WIN: Madagascar...


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
"Exit through the Gift Shop"
"Inside Job"
"Gasland"
"Waste Land"
"Restrepo"

SHOULD WIN:  Exit through the Gift Shop
LIKELY TO WIN: Inside Job


BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT

"Killing in the Name"
"Poster Girl"
"Strangers No More"
"Sun Come Up"
"The Warriors of Qiugang"

SHOULD WIN:  Killing in the Name
LIKELY TO WIN: Strangers No More


BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
"The Confession"
"The Crush"
"God of Love"
"Na Wewe"
"Wish 143"

SHOULD WIN:  Wish 143
LIKELY TO WIN: God's of Love

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Tonight I will live blog along with the Golden Globes. This annual affair, put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, is a freewheeling preview of the Oscars. But, there is a caveat. The HFPA is a very small group of "press" from small outlets around the world. There has been a deal of controversy as of late, with the HFPA declining membership to mainstream critics from larger papers and outlets in Australia, Europe and Asia. In fact, there have been some whispers of nomination and vote buying.

Still, the award show is a lot of fun. Tonight's host, Ricky Gervais, will have plenty of time to jab modern Hollywood. Of course, this evening is mostly about film. Winners get a "boost" going into Oscar season. But tonight is also about TV, as the Globes present awards to actors and shows.

So, tune in with me tonight starting just before 7 PM Central for all the fun.
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Here are my top 10 films from 2010...

10. Black Swan --- Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis star in Darren Aronofsky's "thriller"/psychological caper about rival dancers. More than a ballet movie, thankfully.

9. The Fighter --- Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg star as half-brothers in this drama from David O. Russell. More than a boxing movie, thankfully.

8. The King's Speech --- Colin Firth stars as King George VI who seeks the council of a speech therapist, played by Geoffrey Rush. More than a stuttering film, thankfully.

7. Easy A --- Emma Stone knocks it out of the park as a teen who lets a little lie turn into a high school nightmare. More than a sex comedy, thankfully.

6. Never Let Me Go ---  A British drama based on the novel of the same name about the inhabitants and secrets of a "special" school. More than a period piece, thankfully.

5. Four Lions --- An insightful and funny look at terrorism. Yes, I just wrote that. More than bomb and jihad jokes, thankfully.

4. Winter's Bone --- A drama set in the Ozarks about a teen girl responsible for her impoverished family and felonious father. More than depressing scenery, thankfully.

3. Inception --- An all-star cast, including  the awesome Tom Hardy, star in Christopher Nolan's dream within a dream within a dream. More than a dream, thankfully.

2. The Kids Are All Right --- A surprisingly deft flick starring Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as same-sex parents whose teens want to meet their biological father. More than lesbian jokes, thankfully.

1. The Social Network --- After some serious back and forth, I have decided that the critics have nailed it: The Social Network, starring Jessee Eisenberg, about the founding days of Facebook is, in fact, the best film of 2010. With the sharp writing of Aaron Sorkin and the perfect direction of David Fincher, this film stands out from the crowd. More than just a self-centered billionaire, thankfully.
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Here are the ten films with the best chances of being one of the ten best picture nominees, according to the Oscar BuzzMeter. I have included a quick link to each film's IMDB page for reference...

- The Town
- HereAfter
- The Social Network
- Inception
- Shutter Island
- The King's Speech
- The Fighter
- Country Strong
- True Grit
- Conviction


Others that just missed the top ten include Black Swan, Toy Story 3, The Kids Are Alright, Love and Other Drugs, Never Let Me Go, 127 Hours, Blue Valentine, and Catfish.
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THE GHOST WRITER (Summit - Feb 17) Roman Polanski earned strong reviews for this Hitchcock-style drama in which Ewan MacGregor ghostwrites the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister played by Pierce Brosnan. It has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 84% fresh  and did well by indie film standards. Oscar Chance: Summit will have to step up to the plate in order to revive it. Insiders at the distrib have special hopes for a Brosnan supporting bid.

SHUTTER ISLAND (Paramount - Feb 19) Paramount had initially penciled in this fine Martin Scorsese thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio for last season’s awards race. But financial considerations led them to move to the very unfriendly Oscar territory of February. Yet it became the legendary director’s most successful film ever at the box office, earning $292 million worldwide and receiving good critical notice. Oscar Chance: The studio intends to campaign it and has already sent out screening notices to Guilds and Academy members. But it will be competing with Par’s two year-end entries True Grit and The Fighter for attention from the front office.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Walt Disney Pictures - March 5) Tim Burton’s take on the classic tale remains one of the biggest success stories of the year with a whopping billion dollar take at the worldwide boxoffice. Critical response was right down the middle with a 51% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Oscar Chance: This would seem a natural  bet for the Golden Globes Comedy/Musical categories and lots of technical nods at the Academy, too.

CITY ISLAND (Anchor Bay - March 19) Andy Garcia’s finely-honed comic turn in this New York-centric family comedy could -- and should -- be remembered at Golden Globe time. Oscar Chance: Slim, but the tiny distributor has hired a PR firm to make sure it’s not forgotten. Awards pundits got a DVD in the mail this week.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Music Box - March 19) The first in the Swedish trilogy became the most successful foreign language release of the year and has created Best Actress buzz for star Noomi Rapace. Oscar Chance: Music Box will have to spend to reap rewards.  Problem is, Rapace has become so hot that she’s now filming the Sherlock Holmes sequel in England and likely won’t be around to promote the final chapter, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest when it opens at the end of the month. She'll miss valuable face time in front of voters.

GREENBERG (Focus Features - March 19)  Focus has set up some screenings and includes it in their Academy ads. But it's not likely to give much support beyond that to this Ben Stiller/Noah Baumbach  passion project which never quite caught on the way they hoped. Oscar Chance: Uh, probably not.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR  DRAGON (Dreamworks Animation - March 26) Rapturous reviews gave it a 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes placing it between Toy Story 3 and The Social Network for bragging rights. Top box office  doesn’t hurt, either. Oscar Chance: An animated feature nod is a given. But Dreamworks is aggressively going for the gold with this one, starting with a big DVD launch party next week to renew the fire. Suggestions of not only an animated  category nom but also Best Picture mean they dream big there. But is there room for two toons on that list of 10 which will include Disney's Toy Story 3?

PLEASE GIVE (Sony Pictures Classics - April 30) Writer/Director Nicole Holofcener’s quirky comedy was well received and sparked buzz of an Original Screenplay nomination upon its release last spring. But that seems to have faded. Oscar Chance: It’s still deserving as is Ann Morgan Guilbert’s nifty supporting turn as the tenant who just won’t die. SPC will be asking members to please give the DVD a play.

MOTHER AND CHILD (Sony Pictures Classics - May 7) Rodrigo Garcia’s multi-character drama came and went in theatres, so wisely SPC made sure the screener was the very first one Academy voters got this season. Oscar Chance: On the DVD box, they are suggesting Annette Bening for Best Actress but, great as she is here, there’s no way she gets it for this over the higher profile The Kids Are All Right.

IRON MAN 2 (Paramount - May 7) The first Iron Man in 2008 only landed nominations for Visual Effects and Sound Editing. Oscar Chance: Visual Effects and Sound Editing.

LETTERS TO JULIET (Summit - May 14) This chick flick did pretty well at the box office. Oscar Chance: Vanessa Redgrave was terrific in a supporting role. And, in a 14 month span during which she lost her daughter, sister, and brother, she could use some good news. Long shot.

ROBIN HOOD (Universal - May 14) Ridley Scott’s take on the legendary Robin Hood tale starring Russell Crowe opened Cannes and did better internationally than in the U.S. where it just barely crossed $100 million. Oscar Chance: Even Universal doesn’t think it has one. Maybe a tech category or two.

SOLITARY MAN (Anchor Bay – May 21) Michael Douglas received some of the best reviews of his career in this highly unsympathetic  role. Oscar Chance: There is a lot of good will for the cancer-stricken star. And Anchor Bay is making sure the DVD gets circulated to press who can remind voters of this performance. An indie spirit nomination is a definite possibility.

WINTER’S BONE (Roadside Attractions – June 11) A critical darling and surprise indie hit at $6 million and counting, this could be the sleeper awards success of the season. Oscar Chance: Roadside needs to do everything it can to put it front and center with critics groups who could champion it. Could be forced into the Best Picture race this year a la The Hurt Locker. With some precursor awards, newcomer Jennifer Lawrence could crack the tough Best Actress group.

I AM LOVE (Magnolia Pictures - June 18) A sumptuous showcase for Scottish Oscar winner Tilda Swinton who speaks Italian with a Russian accent and gets to wear great clothes. Oscar Chance: Italy killed the film’s chances for a Best Foreign Language nod by submitting something else. But Magnolia is going to try to put it into other races like Cinematography, Art Direction, Costumes, and Actress where Tilda’s awesome language feat could gain traction with her fellow actors.

TOY STORY 3 (Disney/Pixar - June 18) A worldwide smash and, with 99% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, it's the highest rated movie of the year that isn’t a French documentary about Henri-Georges Clouzot. Oscar Chance: The frontrunner for animated feature and on just about everyone’s list for a Best Picture nomination as well. Is 3 the charm? Neither of the other two Toy Story's were around when the animated category was created. But the first one got a special Oscar for John Lasseter.

DESPICABLE ME (Universal - July 9) Call it the toon that saved Universal this year. It had strong reviews and great box office. Oscar Chance: In a field of five animated nominees, it’s a given. But if there are only three, its chances become one in a minion.

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (Focus Features – July 9) It's THE focus for Focus this year. They hope to turn this $20 million grossing movie about lesbian parents who encounter the birth father of their kids into that rare comedy that cracks Best Picture. Oscar Chance: Parlaying a Golden Globe Comedy/Musical win into a Best Picture nomination seems doable with screenplay. And acting nominations for Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo very likely. The deserving Julianne Moore competing with Bening for Best Actress recognition could be a tougher sell in that overcrowded field. Both women are overdue.

INCEPTION (Warner Bros – July 16) Christopher Nolan was snubbed for The Dark Knight so will the Academy make it up to him for this audacious and original fever dream of a movie that has made three-quarters of a billion  at the worldwide boxoffice and inspired love letters from critics? Oscar Chance: How can voters deny this achievement even if they don’t quite get it? Best Picture and loads of tech noms while iffier is the always great Leonardo DiCaprio who has to compete with himself in Shutter Island for a Best Actor nod. Hey, he can dream can’t he?

THE CONCERT (The Weinstein Company – July 30) This French comedy sleeper surprised and delighted members who saw it at the official Academy screening. And they've been talking about it ever since. Oscar Chance: Not eligible for Foreign film, plus it didn’t hang around long and Harvey’s got bigger fish to fry. But it could turn up some place where you least expect it. Golden Globes, for sure.

GET LOW (Sony Pictures Classics - July 30) Nice-sized indie hit for SPC is now going strong in its third month and has special appeal for older voters. Oscar Chance: Robert Duvall is a good bet in the Best Actor race and Sissy Spacek might squeak into Best Supporting Actress.  Original Screenplay is possible together with a long shot shot for Picture if later entries fizzle.

CAIRO TIME (IFC Films - August 6) This quiet adult drama received nice notices for its talented star, Patricia Clarkson, in a romance about an ill-fated brief encounter set in Egypt. Oscar Chance: In a weaker year for actresses, Clarkson could have scored. But the competition is too tough and the film is just too small. Indie Spirits, anyone?

ANIMAL KINGDOM (Sony Pictures Classics - August 13) This tough Australian crime drama joined Mother and Child as the first DVD screener sent to Academy members this season, but its box office has been spotty. Oscar Chance: If those voters pop this thing in their DVD player, they will see a classic supporting actress turn from Jacki Weaver who deserves the recognition. (And the T-shirt SPC sent to bloggers promoting her performance.)

EAT PRAY LOVE (Sony Pictures – August 13) A bestselling book, some decent if not spectacular box office, and a starring role for Julia Roberts on global locations should add up to something worth awards attention, right? Well, she did get a Golden Globe nomination last year for the flop Duplictiy so... Oscar Chance: Pray.

LOVELY, STILL (Monterey Media - September 10) A small little gem of a drama about two old people who find romance near the end of their lives features brilliant performances from Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn. They both deserve awards recognition even though the movie came and went without a whimper and has little hope of being seen by voters. Oscar Chance: Fortunately  Landau and Burstyn already have one.

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WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS (Twentieth Century Fox - 9/24) On paper, with its timely theme, this is exactly the kind of popular drama with an Oscar-heavy cast and director that the 10 Best Picture nominations would tend to favor. Well-received in Cannes last May, it still  hasn’t generated  the kind of serious buzz which fall fest entries like Social Network, The King’s Speech, and Black Swan all managed. Oscar Chance:  Bearish, since sequels rarely compete and Oliver Stone’s 1987 original received just a single nomination -- and won Best Actor for Michael Douglas. His bigger-than-life Gekko remains its best chance to jump in the race, particularly with goodwill for the actor running high due to his cancer and memories of his acclaimed work in the indie Solitary Man still fresh from earlier this year. Never-nominated Eli Wallach, 95, might have had a shot for his small but indelible role. But he’s already getting an Honorary Oscar in November.

NOWHERE BOY (The Weinstein Co - 10/8) This story of the young John Lennon opened last Christmas in England and has already hit British Airways and Blu-ray but is craftily timed for U.S. release the day before what would have been the musician’s 70th birthday. Oscar Chance:  Both female co-stars Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff were BAFTA nominatees last season and might have a long shot in the Supporting Actress category if Weinstein does any sort of serious campaign for this.

SECRETARIAT (Walt Disney Pictures - 10/8) This emotion stirring crowd-pleasing story of the 1973 Triple Crown winner and the woman who wouldn’t give up on him could appeal to the same feel-good contingent that made The Blind Side such a player last year. Oscar Chance: Diane Lane and John Malkovich could figure in acting races. While sound, cinematography, music, and Best Picture nominations are not out of the question. If 2003’s Seabiscuit, which landed 7 nominations including the big one back when there were only five slots, could do it, then it should be a breeze for this horse. But Disney has to campaign just as aggressively as Universal did back then.

COMPANY MEN (The Weinstein Co - 10/22) There hasn’t been a whole lot of buzz on this John Well written and directed title since it debuted to mixed reviews in Sundance. But this of-the-moment drama about the effect of corporate downsizing on three men has a strong cast that includes past Oscar winners Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, and Chris Cooper. Oscar Chance: A longshot that needs to step up its awards game or risk downsizing to also-ran status against stiff competition.

WELCOME TO THE RILEYS (Samuel Goldwyn - 10/29) Fine acting from James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, and Kristen Stewart highlight this drama about the effect that a young runaway has on a married couple. Oscar Chance: This quiet and effective drama was a Sundance success. But it's likely to be more prominent at the Spirits than the Oscars.

FAIR GAME (Summit - 11/5)  The hot button Valerie Plame/CIA leak story gets the cinematic treatment from director Doug Liman. It played well to critics in competition at Cannes in May but has been dormant on the Fall Festival circuit. Oscar Chance: It has two stars, Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, who are usually Academy bait. But so far neither is generating much heat in the highly competitive lead actor and actress races. Perhaps that will change when the film gets its second shot at glory just after election day. Of course, Penn already has a couple of Oscars.

FOR COLORED GIRLS (Lionsgate - 11/5) Except for the trailer, no one’s really yet seen this Tyler Perry adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s 1975 play with the longer title For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf. But apparently Lionsgate has enuf confidence to push the release right up to the start date of the film industry’s official holiday movie season. Oscar Chance: Perry’s a cash cow for Lionsgate but he’s got no Oscar cred yet except for an AMPAS membership card. Last year, this distributor scored 6 nominations and 2 Oscars with  Precious (which Perry supported by lending his name). But can lightning strike twice?

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 (Warner Bros - 11/19) The mega-box office Harry Potter series begins its wrap party with the first of a 2-part finale. Oscar Chance: These films are usually good for one or two technical nods but haven’t broken through into the marquee categories. If Harry has any shot at pulling a Lord Of The Rings-style victory lap, it’s probably with the more emotionally potent Part 2 which gets a July release.

THE NEXT THREE DAYS (Lionsgate - 11/19) Oscar-winner Paul Haggis co-wrote and directed this thriller about the turmoil in a couple’s life after the wife is accused of murder. Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson, and Elizabeth Banks star. Oscar Chance: Although Haggis and Lionsgate last struck Oscar gold together with Crash, this one is said to be a strictly commercial bet with no similar awards trajectory.

BURLESQUE (Sony/Screen Gems - 11/24) The trailer for this showbiz tale of a young singer (Christina Aguilera) who arrives in town and winds up working in some sort of burlesque club run by Cher looks like the movie wants to be Chicago. Well, that’s a lot better than trying to be another Showgirls, right? Oscar Chance: Let’s hope Cher and Christina have a duet.

LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS (Twentieth Century Fox - 11/24) This rare adult comedy from a major studio centers around a womanizing pharmaceutical salesman who falls hard for a free-spirited girl with early onset of Parkinsons disease. Director Ed Zwick delivers sex, drugs, nudity, and smart dialogue in a film that will do for Viagra what Social Network does for Facebook. Oscar Chance: A winning Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway in career-best performances should be high on any list. And the film is sophisticated and different enough to become a strong possibility in Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay, too.

TANGLED (Walt Disney Pictures - 11/24) A throwback to the style of Disney animated musicals like The Little Mermaid and Pochahantas. This tale of Rapunzel with all that blonde hair is given a contemporary twist and new Alan Menken songs. Oscar Chance: Eight-time winner Menken could go for a record-tying 9 with “I See The Light”. An animated feature nod is definitely possible if there are 5 slots this year. But it will be fighting for holiday season attention with MEGAMIND (DreamWorks Animation - 11/5).

I LOVE YOU, PHILIP MORRIS (Roadside Attractions - 12/3) Once embroiled in a nasty distribution battle, this Jim Carrey/Ewan McGregor comedy based on a true story was originally bought at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival  and already has  been  played out internationally. It is finally getting a long delayed U.S. release through its new indie savior Roadside Attractions. Oscar Chance: Start with a  musical/comedy Golden Globe nod and hope the never Oscar-nominated Carrey can then gain traction at last with the more difficult-to-please Academy.  

THE FIGHTER (Paramount - 12/10) This long time passion project for Mark Wahlberg chronicles the relationship between boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and the brother who helped train him (Christian Bale). Oscar Chance:  Could be a strong Best Picture prospect with both Wahlberg and Christian Bale prime prospects for lead and supporting actor respectively. Melissa Leo is said to be to rising to the top of supporting actress lists for her performance here.

THE TOURIST (Sony Pictures - 12/10) A thriller set in Venice with the superstar teaming of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp should spell a huge holiday hit for Sony. Oscar Chance: Probably too much of a popcorn flick for much awards consideration, even though it reps the English language directorial debut of Oscar winning Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck whose The Lives Of Others won Best Foreign Language Film in 2006.

HOW DO YOU KNOW? (Sony Pictures - 12/17) Writer/Director James Brooks delivers this relationship comedy with an all-star cast, including Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson, Paul Rudd, and Owen Wilson. Oscar Chance: Despite Oscar winners Witherspoon's and Nicholson’s presence, I am told Paul Rudd is the standout here. Best chance for the movie is likely at the Globes where it may duke it out with The Kids Are All Right and Love And Other Drugs for Best Picture Comedy or Musical.

COUNTRY STRONG (Sony/Screen Gems - 12/22) This dramatic country musical shows off the considerable singing skills of Gwyneth Paltrow, who stars opposite Nashville favorite Tim Mc Graw as a fallen star out to make a comeback professionally and personally. Oscar Chance:  Past Oscar-winner Gwyneth shows a different side of her talents here. But this year's overcrowded Best Actress race really doesn’t need any more applicants this year.

TRUE GRIT (Paramount - 12/25) The Coen Brothers' remake of 1969’s western hit is said to adhere more to Charles Portis’ original book than the John Wayne version. But it’s still the same story: a determined young woman enlists Rooster J Cogburn to track down her father’s killer. Oscar Chance: Wayne won an Oscar. But it’s really Mattie’s tale, so look for a possible supporting actress in newcomer Hailie Steinfeld.  Thankfully, the La Beouf role which Glen Campbell screwed up 40 years ago is now in Matt Damon’s hands. And reigning Best Actor winner Jeff Bridges takes on Cogburn. Never, but never, underestimate what the Coens are up to. So this could also be the rare western to make the Best Picture honor roll. No one has seen it yet, though.

ANYTHING WITH HELEN MIRREN IN IT: Helen Mirren stars in 3 more upcoming 2010 releases, so take your choice. RED (Summit -10/15) Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman join with Mirren as an Over The Hill gang who do one last job. THE TEMPEST (Touchstone - 12/10) Prospero has made a gender switch to Prospera in director Julie Taymor’s wild take on Shakespeare’s classic. THE DEBT (Miramax - 12/29) Post-WWII thriller in the Munich mode co-starring Sam Worthington, Ciaran Hinds, and Tom Wilkinson. Oscar Chances:  Nice to see the great Dame is a workaholic. But based on festival buzz, don’t expect a return to the Kodak stage this year.
 

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The movies have been unveiled, the reviews are in, the bloggers have blogged, so what’s the verdict? Who’s in, who’s out, who’s hoping for a recount? With a surprisingly active Toronto Film Festival winding down to a halt, and Venice and Telluride becoming distant memories, let’s see where the movies that came in with Oscar ambition and hit one, two, or all three award contender-centric fests now stand at this key early juncture. 

THE SOCIAL NETWORK - Ironically, the one movie that perhaps generated the biggest buzz this week wasn’t at any of the Big Three. The Social Network stole the thunder from Toronto by beginning screenings for onliners in New York and Los Angeles before it opens the New York Film Festival on September 24th. Oscar Chance: It instantly became anointed a frontrunner for Best Picture.

THE BLACK SWAN - It took Venice by storm with one of the most enthusiastic opening night ovations in years. But at award time on the Lido it was virtually overlooked (except for a breakthrough honor for Mila Kunis). Top reviews and lots of awards talk followed at Telluride and Toronto, especially for Natalie Portman. Oscar Chance: Very much alive in key races including newfound frontrunner status for Portman in Best Actress. Big question is how will older voters react to film’s kinkier aspects?

SOMEWHERE - Sofia Coppola’s quiet character study won the top prize in Venice despite mixed reviews and some cries that jury president and Coppola intimate Quentin Tarantino played favorites. (Tarantino vehemently dismissed the criticism.) The film sat out Telluride and Toronto by design and will likely be held back from screenings until closer to its late December release. Oscar Chance: Still a bit of a mystery but may be too soft to make a dent. Coppola though is well-liked by her fellow writers and directors and Stephen Dorff is said to be quite good in it.

127 HOURS - Danny Boyle’s first effort since sweeping the Oscars with Slumdog Millionaire two years ago was generally met with favorable reviews and good buzz in Telluride followed by at least one standing ovation in Toronto. Oscar Chance: Strongest bet in Best Actor for James Franco. A longer shot in Best Picture as "Farewell to Arm" scene may be too much for some at the Academy.

CONVICTION - Middling reviews and lack of strong buzz in Toronto make this true story a long shot. Oscar Chance: Hillary Swank has a shot in Best Actress but she’s down the list in an exceptionally tough field. Sam Rockwell has film’s best shot in Supporting Actor. Juliette Lewis is also possible but role may be too small.

THE KING’S SPEECH - Strong outstanding period piece puts Harvey Weinstein back in the Oscar game big-time. Triumphed over all comers in Telluride with subsequent buzz seeing hundreds turned away in Toronto. Great reviews and a real crowd pleaser. Oscar Chance: A slam dunk for major nominations across the board and an instant frontrunner that should play right into Academy’s lap.

MADE IN DAGENHAM - Another British period piece that debuted in Toronto to good results and sweet reviews. Story about a group of female factory workers fighting for equal pay is very accessible entertainment. Oscar Chance: This may be Sony Classics' best shot to get into Best Picture, very Academy friendly film with acting noms possible for star Sally Hawkins and supporters Miranda Richardson and Bob Hoskins.

ANOTHER YEAR - Mike Leigh’s best film since Secrets And Lies didn’t win anything in Cannes in May and seemed to get mixed to excellent reactions in North American premieres in Telluride and Toronto. Those who like it love it. Oscar Chance: Leigh films usually go over well with the Academy but surest thing is the acclaimed performance of Lesley Manville. She should go for supporting where she'd have a better chance than in the overcrowded lead actress category.

THE TOWN - Ben Affleck drew pretty good reviews as an actor and especially director out of Venice and Toronto. Depending on how it does at the box office starting this weekend, it could follow a similar trajectory as its producer Graham King’s Oscar winning The Departed. Or not. Oscar Chance: Pedigree is fine but may be too much in the violent action genre. Strong performances could crack one of the acting categories, with Jeremy Renner the most likely possibility in support.

HEREAFTER - Clint Eastwood ‘s latest got mixed reviews out of Toronto. But Ebert and Corliss dug it and this likely will play better with the older-skewing Academy members who may relate to its themes of afterlife. The 4-time Oscar winner and Acad favorite is now 80 and, even though his most recent two films Gran Torino and Invictus got a grand total of just two noms between them, you can never count Clint out. Oscar Chance: Clint is still a force. May have an ‘afterlife’ following Toronto and upcoming closing night spot at the New York Film Festival.

RABBIT HOLE - Glowing reviews, especially for its three main actors -- Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart and Dianne Wiest. Thursday’s news of Lionsgate’s quick pickup following Monday night’s Toronto World Premiere, and a planned 2010 Oscar campaign, make this biggest award season news to come out of Toronto. Oscar Chance: With a savvy push by Lionsgate and top notch performances and writing, this is suddenly a player in the marquee categories.

BURIED - Ryan Reynolds' tour-de-force turn as a man-trapped-in-a-coffin has been overshadowed by James Franco’s similar guy-trapped-in-a-cave in 127 Hours. But look for Ryan to catch up when this opens next week. Oscar Chance: Funny guy Reynolds going dramatic could be irresistible to his fellow actors if Lionsgate decides to spend some money campaigning for him.

CASINO JACK - Its on-again/off-again release is now on again courtesy of an ATO pickup at Toronto. Two-time winner Kevin Spacey has a new opportunity for top honors playing disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff with flair and humor. Oscar Chance: Indie film needs to grab attention against higher profile competition in December if Spacey is to squeeze into the race.

LET ME IN - Superb gloriously reviewed American remake of Sweden’s 2008 cult vampire coming-of-age flick Let The Right One In, this is actually better than the original. Oscar Chance: Reviews could help. But good as it is, this type of movie is not really Oscar fodder and Relativity probably knows that.

MIRAL - In its Venice and Toronto screenings, Julian Schnabel’s first film since his award magnet, The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, failed to excite. Oscar Chance: Dimming since Venice.

STONE - Entertaining but odd mix of styles make this movie difficult to peg. But the actors are enormously watchable. Oscar Chance: Long shot even though Milla Jovovich is seductively appealing. Robert DeNiro turns in his best work in a while but probably has as much chance of a Best Actor nod for this as he does for Machete and Little Fockers.

NEVER LET ME GO - Audiences in Telluride and Toronto liked this one better the more they thought about it. So all that lingering in the mind could improve it awards prospects. Oscar Chance: If it were a weaker year for actresses, Carey Mulligan would be way up there again. Andrew Garfield will likely be recognized for The Social Network instead of his equally fine work here. Rachel Portman’s haunting score should be a shoo-in nominee though.

BARNEY’S VERSION - Sony Pictures Classics' Toronto pickup of this Venice hit is a smart move and could result in some nominations. Oscar Chance: With a decent campaign, Paul Giamatti can make a Best Actor play and Dustin Hoffman is possible in support.

BIUTIFUL - Javier Bardem’s Cannes Festival-winning performance lost none of its power in Telluride or Toronto where the American reviews improved from their mixed bag status on the Riviera. Oscar Chance: Bardem for sure. Foreign film if Mexico submits it. Dark horse in Best Picture if voters don’t turn it off because its “too depressing”.

JACK GOES BOATING - Philip Seymour Hoffman makes his directorial debut and stars as a plain lonely guy who hooks up with a plain lonely girl in this quirkly comedy/drama reminiscent of 1955’s Best Picture and Actor winner, Marty. Oscar Chance: This isn’t 1955 and sorry Jack, but you’re no Marty. Strictly indie (as in Spirit Awards).

BLUE VALENTINE - Continuing its marathon festival journey from Sundance to Cannes (where it was 7 minutes shorter) to Toronto, Blue Valentine and its lead actors are still generating plenty of awards heat. Oscar Chance: Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are definite contenders.

TAMARA DREWE - Sony Classics would love this in-house production to get some traction. But no matter how you slice it, it’s pure comedy and that usually has its best shot at the limelight at the Globes. Oscar Chance: Writers like to laugh, so maybe screenplay.

THE WAY BACK - Newmarket picked up this classically made Peter Weir adventure just as it hit its one and only festival, Telluride. They still haven’t announced an Oscar qualifying run for December. But it would seem a no-brainer for this January 21st pretty wide release. Oscar Chance: Fellow directors could go for overdue 4-time nominee Weir. And the cinematography is right up there with anything released this year.

Inception

Jul. 20th, 2010 01:59 pm
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Simply put, Inception is a brilliant mind-fuck. A clusterfuck of genius, if you will. A fucking great movie.

At its heart, the film is about Dom Cobb, a man who is a "dream thief." His character completes extractions in which he and his team steal valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious of his marks during the dream state. The key here is that the dream may not be that of the mark, but instead may be the dream of a member of his team (where they have more control) making the mark more vulnerable. Cobb’s talent has made him and his team the best in the world of corporate espionage. It has also, we learn, made him a fugitive, keeping Cobb from his children.

After failing an initial extraction of intel from the mind of the opening mark, Saito, Cobb is offered a chance at redemption by Saito himself. He wants Cobb to perform inception --- the action of placing an idea in the mind of a target rather than stealing an idea. Saito promises that this job could give Cobb his life back but only if he can accomplish the task.

Cobb and his team retreat to Paris where a new architect is found. The architect literally creates the dreams. Meanwhile, Cobb exits to Africa to search for Eames, the forger. The forger is the person who can emulate any subconscious projection, basically becoming someone the mark trusts.

During preparation, we learn that Cobb has a deep, dark secret. Literally. Team members discover Mal, Cobb's dead wife, lurking in the dream world and causing chaos at every turn.  We eventually discover that the dream world of Cobb's is actually a set of memories, something Cobb urges the others to avoid.

Eventually, the team hits the mark and begins to go through multiple levels of the dream world, building up to a crescendo of brain-pounding scenes --- anti-gravity fights, "kicks," armed members of the subconscious, explosions, shoot-outs, you name it. We also learn Cobb's true secret about his wife and her death.

In the end we are left with a big question, though, as to the reality of the final scene. After two and a half hours of pulse-pounding action and riveting discoveries, the blank canvas we see just before the credits is brilliant. Audience, interpret!

So, what was the best thing about the film? The acting. DiCaprio and Gordon-Levitt hit it out of the park. Ellen Page is also very noteworthy. This movie is deep so we are introduced to these completely foreign concepts via her character. As things are explained to her, they are explained to us. Perhaps my favorite actor was Tom Hardy, playing Eames, the forger.  He is the comic-relief, so to say. But it's his scenes where he and Joseph Gordon-Levitt riff off one another that capture a fun, adventurous spirit.

Another amazing aspect of this film are the effects. The trailer let us see a lot of amazing sprinkles of CGI goodness, but it was just the beginning. The city folding in on itself was inspired. But it was the zero-gravity hotel fight that will live on for most viewers.

The screenplay is also top-notch. It wasn't just a color-by-numbers plot.  Inception was a carefully crafted masterpiece of time-honored thematic elements woven together to make a complete story. Every character has a purpose. Every shot has a rhyme. Every cut has a reason.After some reflection, it is clear to me that Inception is a masterpiece of storytelling.

Overall, this is a top-notch, high-caliber film. In fact, I dare say Inception is the best film I have seen since There Will Be Blood, more than two years ago.

I give Inception an A. Fucking A! (10/10)

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That's about as interesting as life will be for the remainder of the day. Sorry...
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So...

Today I saw Toy Story 3. It was pretty good. Not the best. Not the worst. Worth the 6.50.

And then there's this:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Part 2


Watch it in HD if you can!

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I cannot wrap my head around the fact that Sony is going to be making a "re-boot" of the Spiderman franchise. Just seems like a terrible idea. But now it appears that Sony has found the new SpiderTeen --- the titular teen from Percy Jackson (ATLT).

Linkage.


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Just thought I would share this gem of a film, "Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill!"

It's time to dye. After all, he's hopping mad.




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It is that time of year again --- time to predict this year's Oscar winners. In each category I will list who will win and who should win. Enjoy:

Best motion picture of the year

Will Win: The Hurt Locker
Should Win: Precious
 

Performance by an actor in a leading role

Will Win: Jeff Bridges in "Crazy Heart"
Should Win: Jeff Bridges in "Crazy Heart"

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Will Win: Christoph Waltz in "Inglourious Basterds"
Should Win: Christoph Waltz in "Inglourious Basterds"

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Will Win: Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side"
Should Win: Gabourey Sidibe in "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Will Win: Mo'Nique in "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
Should Win: Mo'Nique in "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"

Achievement in directing

Will Win: Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker"
Should Win: James Cameron for "Avatar"

Best animated feature film of the year

Will Win: Up
Should Win: Up

Achievement in art direction

Will Win: Avatar
Should Win: The Young Victoria

Achievement in cinematography

Will Win: Avatar
Should Win: Inglourious Basterds

Achievement in costume design

Will Win: The Young Victoria
Should Win: Nine

Best documentary feature

Will Win: The Cove
Should Win: Burma VJ

Best documentary short subject

Will Win: Music by Prudence
Should Win: China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province

Achievement in film editing

Will Win: The Hurt Locker
Should Win: District 9

Best foreign language film of the year

Will Win: The Secret in Their Eyes
Should Win: The White Ribbon

Achievement in makeup

Will Win:Star Trek
Should Win: Star Trek

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

Will Win: Up
Should Win: Up

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

Will Win: "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" from "Crazy Heart"
Should Win: "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" from "Crazy Heart"

Best animated short film

Will Win: Logorama
Should Win: Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty

Best live action short film

Will Win: The New Tenants
Should Win: Instead of Abracadabra

Achievement in sound editing

Will Win: The Hurt Locker
Should Win: Avatar

Achievement in sound mixing

Will Win: The Hurt Locker
Should Win: Avatar

Achievement in visual effects

Will Win: Avatar
Should Win: Avatar

Adapted screenplay

Will Win: "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
Should Win: "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"

Original screenplay

Will Win: "The Hurt Locker"
Should Win: "Inglourious Basterds"
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Well, it is that time of year again. Time for the 2010 Oscar nominations.  Early Tuesday morning the AMPAS will make their announcements, so I am making my predictions today. How bold!

Below you will find my thoughts on what the Academy will likely nominate for the eight biggest categories. Note: These are NOT my personal picks, but rather my prediction about what the Academy will nominate.

This year there is one huge change -- making the biggest category even bigger by going from five Best Picture nominees to ten. That will really open things up, so making a final pick for the award show in March will be much harder.

On to the picks:

Best Picture:
Avatar
An Education
The Hangover
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Invictus
Precious
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

Best Director:
Kathryn Bigelow, for The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, for Avatar
Lee Daniels, for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Jason Reitman, for Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, for Inglourious Basterds

Best Actor:
Jeff Bridges, for Crazy Heart
George Clooney, for Up in the Air
Colin Firth, for A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, for Invictus
Jeremy Renner, for The Hurt Locker

Best Actress:
Sandra Bullock, for The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, for The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, for An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Meryl Streep, for Julie & Julia

Best Supporting Actor:
Matt Damon, for Invictus
Woody Harrelson, for The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, for The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, for The Lovely Bones
Christopher Waltz, for Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress:

Penelope Cruz, for Nine
Vera Farmiga, for Up in the Air
Ana Kendrick, for Up in the Air
Diane Kruger, for Inglourious Basterds
Mo’Nique, for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

Best Screenplay (Original):

(500) Days of Summer, by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Avatar, by James Cameron
The Hangover, by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
The Hurt Locker, by Mark Boal
A Serious Man, by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Best Screenplay (Adapted):
Crazy Heart, by Scott Cooper
Julie & Julia, by Nora Ephron
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, by Geoffrey Fletcher
Star Trek, by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
Up in the Air, by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Legion

Jan. 25th, 2010 05:06 pm
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I will write about the film Legion at length at some point. But right now I can only say a few words.

Legion was terrible. Awful. Seriously, it was bad.

Avoid it at all costs. See it at your own peril.

Did I mention it was horrible?

A 1 out of 10 (the 1 point for the kick-ass old woman).

Avatar

Jan. 21st, 2010 07:03 am
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Where do I begin?

How about what I liked about the film...

I enjoyed the artistry of Avatar. The scenery was beautiful and awe-inspiring. It combined what we know about our own surroundings and filled it in with alien flora and fauna. Kudos to the designers of the planet Pandora.

I also enjoyed the tech of the film. While there were many times when the "reality" of the Na'vi was lost on me, there were some moments when the blue people felt real. Looked real. Were real. And that means a lot. Too often, CGI characters feel out of place. But in a film like Avatar where CGI characters are not just in the film but rather the focus of the film, the characters were real enough to not be distracting. Again, kudos to those who developed the tech of the film.

Lastly, and that should let you know where I am going in this review, I enjoyed the use of 3-D. All too often, 3-D is used as a gimmick. But Avatar used 3-D to create a larger world, a Pandora that needs more than the big screen. The images did not just pop, they exploded at moments. Plus, the glasses did not bother me (a guy who already wears glasses).

But that is all the good I can say about Avatar.

The story was radical.

The big, bad, militaristic white man took on the defenseless natives. Boring. Been there, done that. How many more anti-white, anti-man films do I need to sit through. I get it Hollywood! I should be ashamed I am who I am.

Worse, though, was the extreme radical view of environmentalism that the film pushes. The Na'vi aren't just tree-huggers (that would have been a little more tolerable). No, the Na'vi worship nature. Literally. Nature takes on the roles of deity and power. Nature and the environment take on the tones and aspects of religion. And, in today's world where a cadre of scientists, politicians, and the extreme arm of the Left view environmentalism as a psuedo-religion, this radical view was out of place.  (Note: This is not a knock on those who do worship nature, rather a knock on the pushy thematic slant of the film.)

But the negatives did not stop there. The story was not original. The whole movie  had a deja vu feel.

There was also the issue with the stupidity of the flick.

Unobtanium? Really?
Being able to train the ONE critter on the planet that can save them all? Really?
Having the Na'vi think the limp, un-manned bodies of the avatars were just an inconvenience? Really?
The same ruthless military dude we've seen a million other times? Really?
Hey, let's pick up a pod and go somewhere else without being noticed? Really?

It was all infuriating.

Overall,  I give Avatar a 2 out of 10.

Sadly, Avatar is on its way to being the biggest film of all-time. And worse, it may very well be on its way to winning a huge number of Oscars (including Best Pic). Grr,,,

DAMN THE NA'VI.
DAMN AVATAR!
 

chrisbrad: Red Sox (Default)

How do I even begin?

I finally caught a screening of Sherlock Homes the other day. I had been eagerly awaiting this since I learned that director Guy Ritchie (of Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels fame) was attached to the project. Add Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law to this mix and, well, how could it be a miss?

But it was more than a miss. It was a mess.

The film was downright boring. I nearly dozed off more than once.

The story fell flat. The mystery was bland at best.

I give kudos to the actors. They did an amazing job with such a lackluster source material. But color me unimpressed with everything else.

The worst part had to be the set-up for the inevitable sequel. When the set-up for the next film in the series is more interesting than the film you just saw, that is a red flag. And Sherlock Holmes had plenty of those.

I give it a 4 out of 10. And I am being nice.

Here's to hoping the boredom is erased and the mess is fixed for Sherlock Homes 2: Moriarty.

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February 2013

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