Oscar Postpartum 2011

It was far from the most exciting Academy Awards broadcast. The most surprising thing that happened was that Kirk Douglas stole the show from hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

As for my Oscar picks I got exactly the same amount right that I did last year – 13 out of 24.

Here are the ones I got wrong:

BEST PICTURE: THE KING’S SPEECH. For the first time in 4 years I got this one wrong. I picked THE SOCIAL NETWORK because that was what I was feeling, but the Academy voters felt differently. THE KING’S SPEECH is excellent and deserving so I’m not disapointed.

Funnily enough last September Bill Maher joked on his HBO show (Real Time With Bill Maher):

“New rule: If they are going to make a historic epic full of British actors in period costumes about Queen Elizabeth helping her father get over his speech impediment, why bother having the Oscars at all? You win.”

He didn’t get the plot right exactly, but he was dead on there.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Melissa Leo won for THE FIGHTER. I really thought Haileed Steinfeld would take it. Sigh.

BEST DIRECTOR: Tom Hooper for THE KING’S SPEECH. I picked David Fincher for THE SOCIAL NETWORK – I really should’ve seen THE KING’S SPEECH sweep coming.

These were pretty much stabs in the dark:

BEST FOREIGN FILM: IN A BETTER WORLD. Honestly can’t remember why I went with INCENDIES.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Wally Pfister for INCEPTION. Was pulling for Roger Deakins for TRUE GRIT because he’s been nominated 9 times and I thought it was his time. It wasn’t.

BEST SCORE: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for THE SOCIAL NETWORK. The Academy got this one right, but I didn’t with my pick of Alexandre Desplat for THE KING’S SPEECH.

BEST SONG: Randy Newman for TOY STORY 3. Another I was happy to be wrong about. I had choosen A.R. Rahman, Rollo Armstrong, and Dido for 127 HOURS which didn’t win anything.

BEST DOCUMENTARY: INSIDE JOB – Man, I so wanted Banksy to win for EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP. However INSIDE JOB was a great flick too so I’m fine with it.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: STRANGERS NO MORE. My pick – KILLING IN THE NAME is another that I can’t remember why I picked it.

Ditto on these 2:

BEST SHORT (ANIMATED): THE LOST THING.

BEST SHORT (LIVE ACTION): GOD OF LOVE.

My favorite line of the entire broadcast: “You’ve just been Inceptioned!” – as spoken by Alec Baldwin.

More later…

The Film Babble Blog Top 10 Movies Of 2010

Although there is still a slew of 2010 films I have yet to catch up on (films such as CARLOS, BLUE VALENTINE, SOMEWHERE, etc. have yet to come to my area) I decided to go ahead and make my list of the best of the year.

Though in many ways a lackluster year, there were still a smattering of excellent films by film makers and actors at the top of their game.

Here are my favorites:

1. THE SOCIAL NETWORK (Dir. David Fincher)

Time Magazine’s 2010 Man of the Year: Mark Zuckerberg – computer nerd visionary or just an arrogant asshole who ripped off his best friends? Whether Zuckerberg (played here by Jesse Eisenberg) is really Man of the Year or not, this scrupulous Aaron Sorkin scripted comic drama is my movie of the year because of its snappy narrative take of the phenomenon of Facebook. Read my review here.

2. TOY STORY 3 (Dir. Lee Unkrich) Pixar holds the #2 spot on my top 10 for the third year in a row and that’s fine by me. This funny, exciting, and genuinely touching trilogy topper is a supremely satisfying sequel and another entry in the annual Pixar blows every other animated movie away sweepstakes. Take that HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, DESPICABLE ME, MEGAMIND, and TANGLED! Though some of those films had their moments. Read my review here.

3. TRUE GRIT (Dirs. Joel & Ethan Coen)

Enlisting “the Dude” to take on the role made famous by “the Duke”, the Coen Brothers make a Western epic that does grand justice to the genre. Jeff Bridges along with an ace supporting cast including Hallie Steinfeld, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin handle the humor and powerful pathos of this material mightily. Read my review here.

4. INCEPTION (Christopher Nolan)


I called this film “an incredible mind bender of a movie” in my rave review last summer and still stand by that. I also wrote “what wins out is that this film threatens to burst out of the screen into real life – just like the most lucid dreams.” Read the rest of my review here.

For my reviews of the rest of the movies on the list please click on the highlighted titles.

5. 127 HOURS (Dir. Danny Boyle)

6. BLACK SWAN (Dir. Darren Aronofsky)

7. THE KING’S SPEECH (Dir. Tom Hooper)

8. EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP (Dir. Banksy)

9. THE AMERICAN (Dir. Anton Corbijn)

10. THE GHOST WRITER (Dir. Roman Polanski)

I may make a revised list later if I get to a film from 2010 that warrants inclusion.


More later…

INCEPTION: The Film Babble Blog Review

INCEPTION
(Dir. Christopher Nolan, 2010)


The buzz has been building for Christopher Nolan’s followup to the THE DARK KNIGHT for some time now, and it’s certainly going to get bigger as audiences see for themselves what this incredible mind bender of a movie is all about. What it’s all about I’m still working out, but I can say that it’s a vivid visual feast that’s one of the best films of the year so far.

It’s a difficult film to describe without giving away some of the pure pleasures of the plot so beware of Spoilers! Leo DiCaprio is a dream extractor – an expert in mind manipulation who deals in the underworld thievery of, well, parts of men’s minds when they are asleep and dreaming. DiCaprio works with a team including Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a “point-man” and a dream “architect” played by Lukas Haas. We meet them in the middle of a job inside of the dream state of Saito (Ken Watanabe) – a powerful Japanese business magnate.


Turns out Watanabe is auditioning DiCaprio and his crew for a bigger job involving “inception” -that is the planting of an idea into somebody’s head through the dream world. For the job they need a new architect so through DiCaprio’s professor father (the always welcome Sir Michael Caine) they are joined by a snark-free Ellen Page. DiCaprio also recruits the slick Tom Hardy to act as “forger” for the team. Dileep Rao rounds out the team as their chemist.

The target for their mind crime caper is Cillian Murphy as Watanabe’s corporate rival who has the fate of his family’s fortune in his hands upon his father’s (Pete Postlethwaite) death. Much like in his last film, Martin Scorsese’s SHUTTER ISLAND, DiCaprio is haunted by memories of his dead wife (here Marion Cotillard). Unlike SHUTTER ISLAND however here it’s impossible to guess where it’s all going.

Despite that it’s crammed with a lot of action movie clich├ęs – shoot-outs, automobile crashes, explosions, and there’s even a sci-chase with machine guns – it never feels contrived. Its endlessly inventive dream inside of a dream inside of a dream scenarios are spell binding, and genuinely scary at times, and the towering worlds of the CGI crafted dream set pieces are overwhelmingly beautiful. Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister really outdid themselves on every frame. Likewise for Hans Zimmer who provides one of his most solid scores, one that swells and swoons at just the right moments.

I’ll leave other critics to make comparisons to everything from METROPOLIS to the THE MATRIX because it’s obvious that the decade it took to finish the screenplay Nolan has woven many influences and ideas into the framework. What wins out is the film threatens to burst out of the screen into real life – just like the most lucid dreams.

DiCaprio skillfully maneuvers through the action with a layered performance that’s nearly as complex as the movie that’s surrounding him.. Gordon-Levitt has a lot of screen time in his secondary role and he owns it – especially in the stressful yet seriously fun second half. In one of the best bits of acting I’ve seen from the actress, Page makes us feel the wonder of being able to create an entire world with intricate acrchitecture and the thrill of manipulating it to your own desires. At one point when she is learning how to structure a cityscape with thought, I really thought she was going to say: “Wow! This is awesome!” Because, well, it really is.

More later…