Monday, February 18, 2008

Oscar Time!! 2008 Best Picture Nominees

I love the Oscars, sometimes I think that I'm the only one. All the truly great movies are usually represented there. However, most of the public knows nothing about the top nominees. I blame stupid society. I'm used to travesties such as Adam Sandler grossing more money in the opening weekend of his latest predictable drivel than true filmakers getting the credit and money they deserve. Matthew McCaunahay movies are all shit and thank god to the Oscars for realizing this. Box office numbers don't represent quality films. So we have the Oscars to reward people for not selling out for mass box office draw. True art is recognized for 1 night. The acceptance speeches are lame the music sucks and some Hollywood personality will say something dumb and try to get political. But oh well, I still like 'em. This blog may be used as a tool to let you know a little something about 5 movies that you may have never heard of. The Nominees for best picture are Michael Clayton, Atonement, Juno, There Will Be Blood, and No Country For Old Men.


I am truly in the minority on this one. I really don't see what seperates this movie from so many other films. Oscar nominee!!! Are you kidding? George Clooney plays the same role in every movie and he gets an Oscar nod?? I swear to christ if he took a shit on a cracker, Hollywood would eat it, and tell the world it tastes like heaven. I get it man, you're anti-corporation, anti-war, and really cool. I have already seen him play this character a million times. (Think of him in "Out of Sight", pretty much the same dude with a different profession)I've also seen this plot a million times and it was 10 times better when it was called "The Constant Gardener". Individuals taking down huge corporations with no experience in doing that type of thing. Also multiple plot holes and unrealistic human reactions. Maybe if I went into this film before hype got ahold of it I would have appreciated it more. As it was, I watched this film after the multiple Oscar nominations and just didn't see how it could be a top 5 film of the year. I think the only movie that was more overrated this year was "American Gangster".
The only redeeming part of this movie was the character played by Tilda Swinton as a conflicted CEO of a multi billion dollar corporation. Her character actually had layers upon layers. She moved seemlessly from being an insecure newbie to the job to calling for assassination attempts on people that got in the way of the bottom line of her company. However, we could see her pain when she had to take it to that extreme. Normally i'm a huge Tom Wilkinson fan as well but his character was not believeable at all to me. I'm sure he did the best he could with the subject matter but it didn't translate into any type of sympathy or feeling for me. After this movie I felt like I just walked out of just another movie that was based on a John Grisham novel. Some decent points but overall just more of the same.

Osacar Nominations--
Best Picture
Best Director--
Best Lead Actor-- George Clooney
Best Supporting Actor-- Tom Wilkinson
Best Supporting Actress--Tilda Swinton

ATONEMENT: My grade: 7/10

I was sucked into this movie during the first 45 minutes that take place at the Tallis residence, a very large mansion with loads of property somewhere in England. I was intrigued the way it was shot with lush landscapes, close-ups on perfectly expressed faces, and overall the way the camera just seems to draw your eye in. The soundtrack is also flawless with tear inducing piano and the percussion of a typewriter typing in rythym. (Because most of the harm in the film comes from the letters that are typed) The first 3 scenes of the film are shot twice. The first from the eyes of a talented 13 year old Briony and how she misinterprets events from seeing them from afar, or coming in late on events. The 2nd time around they are shot so we know better the actual truth of the matter. Obviously we get the feel that she is going to confide in others what she has seen which would cause much heartbreak. It all seemed to be building to a wonderful climax with great character developement being the key... Then, bam!! you're hit with an extremely anti climatic arrest and the hero Robbie is taken from from the Tallis house into a life in the military working off a debt for a crime he didn't commit. This period in the film is not shot with the same grace, and the military segments don't really add anything to the actual story. It just draws the film out longer than needed so the last 30 minutes can fit in with the rest of the film. (Even though in many ways they don't) The "true" ending is somewhat of a cop-out but Vannessa Redgrave plays her 5 minutes on camera so well that you can forgive the misleading information. In fact, it's so beautifully tragic that it actually saved me from writing a much more scathing review than I have. I still think this movie is better than most, but since it's Oscar Time, and this is up for Best Picture then I have to be more critical. Keira Knightley also delivers a good performance but I don't blame the academy for leaving her out of the Lead Actress category. I put this movie ahead of Michael Clayton but not above the other 3 nominations.
Major nominations
Best Picture
Supporting Actress-- Saorise Ryan

JUNO: My Rating 9/10

I have to admit when I saw the list of movies for that were up for any of the major awards for the Oscars, Juno was the one that I was dreading. As a general rule, I hate teen comedies (probably because they suck) but I figured a movie directed by Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking) and starring Ellen Page (whom I fell in love with after seeing "Hard Candy"") I figured I'd suck it up and watch it. Imagine my surprise when I not only enjoyed it, but also liked it more than "There will be Blood" which was a movie I liked before I even saw it. The soundtrack is so unique I'm not sure what you'd call it other than "Modern Folk" but it works for the film flawlessly. Juno is the most loveable character that I've ever seen in a movie. She's flawed but she doesn't care, she's transformed into a social outcast but doesn't seem to care, and she has the most unique and interesting dialog and phrases that I've ever heard in a film. 99.9% of the young actresses would have made the words seem forced and lame but Ellen is ahead of the game and blends the overwritten screenplay speech into something that actually sounds like a real conversation. Her relationship with her father and stepmother is complicated but throughout the movie it flourishes into something beautiful, as does her relationship with her ex-boyfriend/best friend/baby's daddy played by Michael Cera.
Teen preganancy isn't a laughing matter but it's also not the end of the world. Christians have spoken out on this movie saying that movies like this are the reason teen pregnancy and abortion rates are so high. I say to them if anything this will decrease abortion rates because she decides to have the child and it in no way glorifies teen pregnancy because it doesn't make sex look fun in any way and it illustrates the complications of being preggers in high school. So to the nay-sayers out there I say "It's a social commentary that makes people think, get over yourselves and let people raise their own children instead of always trying to regulate art".
I can't express how pleased I was with this film. Last year at the Oscars Abigail Breslin was Little miss sunshine but her Olive Hoover character can't hold a candle to Ellen Page's Juno. Hat's off the the screen writer too. Even the usually dull Jennifer Garner played a somewhat interesting role.

Osacar Nominations
Best Lead Actess-- Ellen Page
Best Director- Jason Reitman
Best Picture

THERE WILL BE BLOOD: My rating 8/10

Oh yes, finally after nearly 6 years my favorite director has revealed his true masterpiece. This film starts relatively slow and boring without any dialogue for the first 20 minutes or so, but the mood is definately set with one of the most ominous and evil soundtracks I've ever heard in a movie. The music keeps you forever knowing that bad things are churning. The first time I watched this movie I was wondering why all the hype? I thought maybe Paul Thomas Anderson had lost his knack for being one of the greatest directors in history. But upon the second time of seeing it I realized that the reason for the boredum was to come full circle in the end and make sense.
Daniel Day Lewis plays Daniel Plainview, an "Oil Man" as he likes to say. He talks a good game and by taking his son H.W. around with him everywhere is able to sell people on giving up their land so he can suck it dry. Although he comes across as a shrewd businessman and decent father in the first half, by the midway point the audience realizes how truly sadistic he is. He hates anything and everything. He'll kill and assault anyone that enters his personal space. Honestly, he is the biggest dickhead I've ever seen in a movie, but you know what? You can't take your eyes off the screen anytime D.D. Lewis is on it. We're drawn to him like moths to a flame knowing it will cause only pain but embracing it because we see some of ourselves in his hatred and ambition. If Daniel Day Lewis doesn't win the Oscar for Lead Actor then I will be shocked. Viggo Mortenson from Eastern Promises is the only other role that could come close but even then, Viggo hasn't been a true acting force for long enough to warrant any votes from the academy. Another noteable performance comes from the relative newcomer Paul Dano (You know him as the mute dickhead son from last year's "Little Miss Sunshine") He plays two roles. Twin brothers Eli and Paul Sunday. His Eli character is what makes the movie click. As a passionate minister and champion to his flock. He is constantly bumping heads with Plainview and seems to be the only one that will stand up to him. The whole idea of religion vs. oil isn't shoved down our throats but it is in the foreground. Too many movies try to make a point about greed, government, religion. Thank god this one just tries to be a good movie. Which it pulls off extremely well. I'm not voting for this for best picture, because No Country as I've said many times deserves it more. Plus, as I've said it didn't suck me in until 45 minutes in. The final 2 hours blew me away. I will be voting for this film to win for Best Director because Paul Thomas Anderson has earned it after being snubbed by not winning with Magnolia and Boogie Nights. At least the Coen's (No country directors) have got previous recognition with Fargo.

Oscar nominations (major)
-Best Picture
-Best Director-Paul Thomas Anderson
-Lead actor- Daniel Day Lewis (75% of the votes at the Golden Globes. He's a lock. Take that shit to Vegas Holmes!!)
-Adapted Screenplay
Noteable snub- Best Supporting Actor--Paul Dano

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: My rating 10/10

Rounding out the 5 films nomintaed for best picture is "No Country for Old Men". Believe me when I tell you this one is the best of the lot. If you like action and violence, this movie has it. If you like great dialogue and character developement, it has that too. If you like symbolism and metaphoric story telling, look no further. However, if you don't make the connections with some of the symbolism, the story will not be wasted on you because it speaks to the audience on a linear level too. The 3 main charatcers all represent 3 facets of society. Tommy Lee Jones plays an old timey sherriff that works a small town in Texas. He represents the way things used to be, back when he started his carreer, cops didn't even wear guns and he constantly reminds us how he has no capacity in his mind for the brutallity that humans are capable of doing to each other. He realizes evil is spreading throughout his community and there really isn't a whole lot he can do to keep it in check. This "evil" that he constantly alludes to is represented in it's purest form with the role played by Javier Bardem. His character is named Anton Chiggurgh some might say he has principles that transend money, compassion, and human nature in general. He kills without much thought, usually letting a coin flip decide the fate of the innocent people that stand in his way. He does it with style too, strangling a man with handcuffs, a silenced shotgun and his "cattle gun" which consists of a propane tank hooked to a hose that shoots out a small metal rod and sucks it back in therefore leaving no exit wound or bullet to be traced to him. It also comes in handy for breaking into houses because the power it has can blow dead bolt locks right off the door. He is nominated for best supporting actor but he's in the film enough that he easily could have been nominted for lead actor. As it is this way works out better because he will easily win supporting and that leaves Daniel Day Lewis being a lock for his role in "There Will be Blood". The 3rd and most important role is played by Josh Brolin. His Lewelyn Moss character displays a quiet no nonsense approach to life. While hunting in the desert he tracks some deerish looking animals to a drug deal gone terribly wrong. Dead mexicans, pitbulls, and a whole truckload of heroin. He also finds about 2 Million dollars in cash, providing the catalyst for the plot. He needs to escape from Chiggurgh with the money as Tommy Lee Jones tries to find him alive. Sounds pretty basic, but the Coen Brothers do such a masterful job of directing that we are constantly enthralled in the cat and mouse chase that never relents. This will be the only film of 2007 that will get a perfect 10 out of 10 rating from me. Even the great films this year still had shtortcomings. But not this one, easily the best movie I've seen in a while. I plan on buying the book by Cormac McCarthy. Usually the book is better than the movie, and if that's the case with this one, that'll be a good damn book!!

Major Oscar Nominations
Best Picture
Best Directors-Joel and Ethan Coen
Best Supporting Actor--Javier Bardem
and a shit ton of lesser awards such as editing, sound, adapted screenplay, etc.

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