Oscar Postpartum 2010

In the happiest moment of the evening, the Dude finally abided.

Well, my biggest prediction this year was that I was going to get more wrong than the last few years and I was right about that. I got 13 of 24 which is pretty poor although I did get all the major categories correct (BEST PICTURE, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST ACTOR, BEST ACTRESS, and both of the SUPPORTING ones). I was way off in all the tech awards but hey it was fun throwing those darts just the same. The ones I got wrong:

AVATAR. What I predicted: SHERLOCK HOLMES. I really thought they’d throw HOLMES a bone. Just one.

COSTUME DESIGN:THE YOUNG VICTORIA. I said COCO BEFORE CHANEL because it seemed like the most costumey. I haven’t seen either movie actually.


ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: PRECIOUS. I said UP IN THE AIR. Seems like a no brainer now.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT: MUSIC BY PRUDENCE. I had picked CHINA’S UNNATURAL DISASTER: THE TEARS OF SICHUAN PROVINCE. This resulted in one of the only surprising moments on the entire telecast: Elinor Burkett pulled what many are calling a “Kanye” Oscar moment mash-up.

MAKEUP: STAR TREK. I thought STAR TREK was going to win one of the 4 awards it was nominated for just not this one. Still it seems deserved.

SOUND MIXING and SOUND EDITING: THE HURT LOCKER won both of these which I really didn’t expect. Last year I also chose wrong but made the statement that I should’ve have known not to vote for the same movie in both sound editing and mixing. Since that’s what happened here I guess I really learned nothing.


BEST FOREIGN FILM: THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (Argentina) Another I haven’t seen. I’m brobably going to see THE WHITE RIBBON, which I wrongly predicted, this week since it just came to my area.

As for the show itself, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin had their moments. I agree with Jon Stewart that Martin had the best line of the evening:

“Anyone who has ever worked with Meryl Streep always ends up saying the exact same thing: ‘Can that woman act? And, ‘What’s up with all the Hitler memorabilia?”

Some other highlights included a tribute to John Hughes by way of a snazzy montage and a bevy of the actors who came of age in his films: Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Macaulay Culkin, Anthony Michael Hall, Jon Cryer, Ally Sheedy, and Matthew Broderick.

Shouldn’t she be wearing pink?

Ben Stiller had a great deadpan presenter bit – he was made up like one of the Na’vis from AVATAR. Pretty funny stuff.

“This seemed like a better idea in rehearsal.”

Okay so I’m pretty Oscar-ed out. Stay tuned for more new movie reviews – a slew of DVD reviews and some major new releases (HOT TUB TIME MACHINE!) that are coming your way.

More later…

IT’S COMPLICATED: The Film Babble Blog Review

(Dir. Nancy Meyers, 2009)

A recent New York Times Magazine profile of the writer/director of this film opened with this set-up: “Nancy Meyers makes movies set in beautifully appointed, but not opulent, houses about attractive, but not perfect looking, people in which the, unintentionally seductive, middle-aged woman always triumphs.” That pretty much nails Meyers’ formula especially her previous work SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE which had Diane Keaton in the “unintentionally seductive middle-aged woman” role now inhabited by Meryl Streep. What’s nice to report is that the formula fits this film much better as it’s a much sharper minded work with less contrived instances of broad comedy.

A bubbly giddy Streep is Myers’ plucky protagonist – she’s been divorced for a decade from the, of course, charming Alec Baldwin, but can muster civility in his presence even when he’s accompanied with his young wife (Lake Bell). Streep runs a bustling bakery and has her business life in order, but her friends (Rita Wilson, Mary Kay Place, and Alexandra Wentworth who all act like giggling school girls) all think her love life needs help. Conveniently a nice, also divorced, architect she hires for an addition to her home played by Steve Martin might make for a promising suitor. What’s not convenient is that Streep has just started an affair with her ex-husband Baldwin.

Baldwin wants to get back together but Streep is filled with doubt – giddy doubt. The giddiness is infectious as the couple hides their fling from their offspring – Hunter Parrish (Weeds), Zoe Gazan, and Caitlin Fitzgerald. John Krasinski (The Office – USA) as Fitzgerald’s husband to be, happens to catch sight of the offending party at a hotel and that sitcom-ish detail almost derails the delivery, but the film still breezes along quite convincingly.

Like a witty stage production, the one-liners and earnest declarations of the characters will be what stays with appropriate audiences. By appropriate I don’t just mean the middle-aged woman market – there is much for most men or women who’ve been around the block a few times to relate to and be amused by. When Streep describes herself as “the kind of person who makes fun of people who get plastic surgery” as she consults a surgeon and later stops in front of a mirror asking out loud: “Is that what I look like?” it’s extremely endearing. She’s one of the biggest movie stars on the planet yet we can sympathize with her aging insecurities like she’s our next door neighbor. Her smiling eyes along with Baldwin’s longing stares and Martin’s sad squinting are warming visages of world weary actors who are still at the top of their game.

“Wow. So that’s how grown-ups talk.” Streep says after Martin puts his feelings on the table when the complications implied by the title come to light, and for the most part that is true of the film. Sure, some predictable comic conventions (like the Krasinski subplot) were inevitable in this scenario, but Meyers has played them well here with restrained pay-offs and the ending pulls off a pleasant plausibility. IT’S COMPLICATED is affectionately drawn and a better than average rom com – for appropriate audiences that is.

Oh yeah – Happy New Year’s from Film Babble Blog!

More later…

The Alphabet Meme

I was tagged by Ibetolis from the great blog Film For The Soul to take part in the Alphabet Meme that has been going around started by Fletch at Blog Cabbins. The basic idea is pretty self explanatory but rules are below anyways.

Here goes:

A is for ABOUT SCHMIDT (Dir. Alexander Payne, 2002)

Just watched it again a few days ago and still love every second. A career best for Jack Nicholson.

B is for BARFLY (Dir. Barbet Schroeder. 1987)

C is for COOLER, THE (Dir. Wayne Kramer, 2003)

D is for DEFENDING YOUR LIFE (Dir. Albert Brooks, 1991)

E is for

F is for FLETCH (Dir. Michael Ritchie, 1985)

G is for GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (James Foley, 1992)

Speaking of a career best, in an incredible cameo Alec Baldwin offers an alphabet meme of his own.

H is for HEAD (Dir. Bob Rafelson, 1968)

I is for I’M NOT THERE (Dir. Todd Haynes, 2007)

J is for JFK (Dir. Oliver Stone, 1991)

K is for KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMEN (Dir. Hectoer Babenco, 1985)

L is for LADY FROM SHANGHAI, THE (Dir. Orson Welles, 1947)

M is for MAGNOLIA (Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)

N is for NETWORK (Dir. Sydney Lumet, 1976)

You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it! – Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty) Guess I’m all about the powerful cameo speeches, huh?

O is for OH, GOD! (Dir. Carl Reiner, 1977) See 10 Reasons The 30th Anniversary Of OH, GOD! Should Be Celebrated (Oct. 3, 2007)

P is for PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO (Dir. Woody Allen, 1986)

Q is for QUADROPHENIA (Dir. Franc Roddam, 1979)

R is for ROMEO IS BLEEDING (Dir. Peter Medak, 1993)

S is for SMOKE
(Dir. Wayne Wang, 1995)

T is for TIME AFTER TIME (Dir. Nicholas Meyer, 1979)

U is for UNREASONABLE MAN, AN (Dirs. Henriette Mantel & Steve Skrovan, 2006)

V is for VISITOR, THE (Dir. Thomas McCarthy, 2008) See A Marvelous Minimalist Movie Before The Blockbuster Bombast Begins May 2, 2008).

W is for WAKING LIFE (Dir. Richard Linklater, 2001)

X is for X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE (Dir. Rob Bowman, 1998) Actually this is far from one of my favorite movies, but as X movies go I like it better than X-MEN and XXX.

Y is for YELLOW SUBMARINE (Dir. George Dunning, 1968)

Z is for ZOOLANDER (Dir. Ben Stiller, 2001)

That’s right. Take that ZELIG!

Now here are the rules for this Alphabet Meme:

1. Pick one film to represent each letter of the alphabet.

2. The letter “A” and the word “The” do not count as the beginning of a film’s title, unless the film is simply titled A or The, and I don’t know of any films with those titles.

3. Return of the Jedi belongs under “R,” not “S” as in Star Wars Episode IV: Return of the Jedi. This rule applies to all films in the original Star Wars trilogy; all that followed start with “S.” Similarly, Raiders of the Lost Ark belongs under “R,” not “I” as in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Conversely, all films in the Lord Of The Rings series belong under “L” and all films in the Chronicles of Narnia series belong under “C,” as that’s what those filmmakers called their films from the start. In other words, movies are stuck with the titles their owners gave them at the time of their theatrical release. Use your better judgement to apply the above rule to any series/films not mentioned.

4. Films that start with a number are filed under the first letter of their number’s word. 12 Monkeys would be filed under “T.”

5. Link back to Blog Cabins in your post so that I can eventually type “alphabet meme” into Google and come up #1, then make a post where I declare that I am the King of Google.

6. If you’re selected, you have to then select 5 more people.

So, these are the folks I’m tagging:

Sara Forbes at SARANOMICS
Dean Treadway at filmicability
::: The Playlist ::: *

Hope they play along.

* D’oh! ::: The Playlist ::: already made their meme – check it out here.

More later…

D’oh! That Damn Bee Overtakes The Gangsta! That And A Couple Of Docs

“Movie? Who’s talkin’ about a movie? This is not a movie – this is my fuckin’ LIFE!!!!”
– Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin) THE COOLER (Dir. Wayne Kramer, 2003)

The news is: BEE MOVIE just hit #1 over not just AMERICAN GANGSTER but even beating out movies that opened last Friday (LIONS FOR LAMBS and FRED CLAUSE). Well that kinda deflates my post from about a week ago. I wanted to see LIONS, which Tom Cruise is already bitchin’ about flopping, but just about every critic is telling me not to – though I probably still will. Looks like the real prestige (or Oscar wannabe) picture season has not yet begun.

I thought I’d clean out my notebook and post a few documentary reviews – a couple of new release DVDs that deserve some words:

CRAZY LOVE (Dirs. Dan Klores & Fisher Stevens, 2007)

The saying “love is blind” has never been so chillingly played out than it is here. A tale torn from old New York Post headlines about prominent lawyer/mogul Bert Pugach’s wooing gone wrong of young beauty Linda Riss is best described by veteran journalist Jimmy Breslin: “It was a big story…3 black guys throw acid in a white girl’s face on behalf of her spurned boyfriend – a white lawyer in the Bronx …sensational! The 3 blacks will go away forever, now we’ll get the white lawyer – he’ll go…and we’ll sympathize with the woman forever.” That sums up the first engrossing amusing half – the second half (which is just as engrossing) is where it gets weird. After 14 years in prison (the prison was Attica – where the titanically tumultuous 1971 riots occurred, mind you) Paguch is released and lo and behold, gets back together and actually marries the blinded bewigged Linda Riss! I can’t say that this scandalous story, told in interviews with Pugach and Riss as well as a bunch of their old acquaintances – all in heavy make-up, is a “you’ve got to see to believe” spectacle because I’ve seen and still don’t believe. Paguch is well spoken and has some charm but not enough charm to pull off this deal – most women would consider hired goons throwing lye in the face to be a deal breaker but what are you going to do? Woody Allen said something once about the heart being a resilient little muscle – I just never have seen it so blatantly displayed as something only about the size of the rock on Linda Riss’s finger.

MANUFACTURING DISSENT (Dirs. Rick Caine & Debbie Melnyk, 2007)

A documentary about a documentarian. There have been many works that have criticized Michael Moore * and his methods, in books like “Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man”, counter-point documentaries like CELSIUS 41.11, MICHAEL MOORE HATES AMERICA, MICHAEL AND ME and FAHRENHYPE 9/11 as well as numerous anti-Moore websites like Moorewatch (which was featured in SiCKO) so what’s another? Well, this sober overview of Moore’s career and the premise of what really is accountable in docu-journalism presented here is far above the before-mentioned mostly manufactured by the right wing product. Many who haved worked with Moore are interviewed and many reputable talking heads (including Roger Ebert, Errol Morris, and Christopher Hitchens) make pretty damning statements while at the same time praising his ideals and his piercing place in pop culture. In the spirit of ROGER AND ME, Debbie Melnyk tries futilely and exhaustingly to get an interview with Moore – she actually corners him a few times in 2004 but he’s elusive, preoccupied with getting Bush out of office, and at one point he smarmingly gets her to hug him for a photo-op, which in her narration she regrets and is obviously embarrassed by. The background on Moore being fired from his Mother Jones magazine editor gig, his famous fudging of the getting a gun at the bank in BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE timeframe, and his dissing of Ralph Nader are seriously things to ponder in this new light.

A lot I can excuse and laugh off because I believe Moore is fighting the good fight – idealistically he’s got the goods but one thing that’s increasingly hard to get over is the account of the backstory of ROGER AND ME. I’ve known since a Premiere Magazine article in 1990 that he actually spoke to Roger Smith (there’s a full transcript of the interview) prior to the film but that he allegedly tried to talk friends into denying it had happened so he could retain the “I could never get to him” premise really gets to me. But then this is just another biased documentary that should be taken like a grain of salt as well. If I believe everything it says – Moore is a backstabbing asshole and I don’t believe that’s true. He seems not to be a film journalist at all – more like a comedian who hi-jacked the documentary format in order to stage his routines. MANUFACTORING DISSENT has many valid statements and necessary views on Moore and his oeuvre – some are revelatory and provoking as Hell – but it’s not nearly as funny or as entertainingly in your face as Michael Moore’s movies are. Therin lies the rub.

* As film babble readers know I’ve written quite a bit about Moore – like last summer’s post The Evolution Of Michael Moore (June 26, 2007) and I went with my family to see him speak in person at the Carolina Theater in Durham – A Night With Michael Moore 4/3/2004 – so yeah, I admit I’m way biased.

More later…