Sunday, February 26, 2012

2012 Oscar Picks

It's that time of year again. Tonight is the 84th annual Academy Awards. I will be giving my picks for certain categories, as well as what I think will actually win in said categories. Note: some key movies I haven't seen so far include The Tree of Life, Beginners, Iron Lady, A Separation and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I tried to see as many as I could, but my son Harry was born this year. I'll take him over movies anytime.

Best Picture:
My pick: The Descendants
Prediction: The Artist

Best Director:
My pick and Prediction: Michel Hazanavicius
(The Artist)

Best Actor:
My pick: George Clooney
Prediction: Jean Dujardin

Best Actress:
My pick and Prediction: Viola Davis

Best Supporting Actor:
My pick: Max von Sydow
Prediction: Christopher Plummer

Best Supporting Actress:
My pick and Prediction: Octavia Spencer

Animated Film:
My pick and Prediction:

Best Adapted Screenplay:
My pick and Prediction:
The Descendants

Best Original Screenplay:
My pick and Prediction:
Midnight in Paris

There are just the major categories. I don't feel I've seen enough of the other categories to make an informed decision. Now, here's my ranking for the Best Picture nominees. Only the 8th spot wouldn't get a passing grade from me. I still have a few more movies to watch before I officially name my Top Ten of 2011.

Best Picture (My Rank):
  1. The Descendants
  2. Hugo
  3. The Artist
  4. Moneyball
  5. The Help
  6. Midnight in Paris
  7. War Horse
  8. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
There you go. Enjoy the show

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Brace yourselves, I liked a Woody Allen movie. A lot. I haven't been able to say that for a long time. For the longest time, his writing has felt so stilted that I couldn't find myself interested at all. And yes, that goes for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I don't care how many people tell me how good it was.

Hollywood screenwriter Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) and his fiance Inez (Rachel McAdams) are vacationing in Paris with Inez's wealthy parents. Gil is distraught with the state of his writing and wants to move to Paris. But Inez is too uptight and well-do-to and refuses to play along. After disheartening dinners with Inez's parents and some of her friends, Gil takes a midnight stroll in the City of Light. While walking, a car pulls up asks Gil to hop in. Because he's drunk, he agrees. He's whisked away to a party that seems odd to him. Gil soon comes to realize he's somehow transported to the 1920s. He's partying with some of his idols. Ernest Hemingway and Cole Porter, along with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Every night after, Gil continues the midnight strolls and starts to fall for Adriana (Marion Cotillard). But he has to figure out how that could possibly happen, and what impact it could have on Inez. More to the point, does he really care?

I was surprised by how much I like Midnight in Paris. The screener was just sitting on my table for months, and I was putting it off. I'm really happy I finally watched. Even Owen Wilson worked in this. But my personal favorite parts involved either Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll) or Salvador Dali (Adrian Brody). They were both hilarious and kept me waiting for when they'd appear on screen again. As much as I liked this film, one part knocked this down at least half a grade. It was toward the end, when Wilson just blatantly states the moral of the film. Almost like the audience is too slow to figure it out on our own. But I got past that, and so can you. This will surely win an Oscar for screenwriting. Grade: A-

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super 8 (2011)

Who likes lens flares? Ending aside, this may have been the best action movie of 2011. J.J. Abrams is a great director who knows how to keep the story going and the audience involved. And if you have "Friday Night Lights" star Kyle Chandler in one of the leads, I'm in.

Circa 1979, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) and his father, Deputy Jack Lamb (Chandler) have suffered a tragedy. Jack's wife has died in an accident at the factory where she worked. After some time has past, Joe turns to making films with his friends as a way to cope. While making a low-budget zombie movie, the gang witness a horrific train accident caused by one of their teachers. The teacher briefly survives and tells them to never talk about what they've seen or they will be killed. They all agree, but strange things soon start to occur around town. Animals and people start disappearing, and now Deputy Jack wants answers from the Air Force, who is conducting the "cleanup." Without giving too much away to those who haven't seen this, it's a sci-fi movie. Take what you will from that.

My favorite aspect of Super 8 was that it's equal parts action flick and conspiracy film. The action was well-balanced throughout with the more dramatic scenes involving Joe's family and love interest. For being a sci-fi movie, the scenes felt believable. Like they could happen in real life, if this was at all possible. The last 25-30 minutes or so kind of lost the tone of the movie. It wasn't bad, it just didn't totally fit. I still highly recommend this movie, but the grade for the first half of the film would've been higher than the grade for the full film. Grade: B+