Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Oscar Nominations - My Predictions!

Well the nominations are out so it's time to make some (mostly) unfounded predictions so we can laugh at how many I get wrong in a few weeks.

I actually love the Oscars.  Yes I know they favour a certain 'type' of film. And yes it's a shame Christopher Nolan hasn't been nominated again. And I know comic book/fantasy films are enjoyed by the mainstream but not recognised by the establishment at awards time and that's rubbish.  But I honestly don't think I care that much. I want to watch a bunch of people in nice dresses prentend to have a good time and be happy for each other while they make ridiculous self-important speeches. It's fun! There are some great films, actors, directors and the rest of them nominated this year... and James Franco's presenting, so roll on the 27th February.

Best motion picture of the year

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

I really think The Social Network will get this one.  I know that the film with the most nominations is usually the favourite in this category but I'm bucking the trend.  It's great to see Toy Story 3 on the list.  I loved 127, Black Swan, Inception and The King's Speech. True Grit hasn't been released in the UK, I think Winter's bone got a tiny release and I can't help but think that The Fighter looks a bit crappy... has anyone seen it?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

Best Director

Darren Aronofsky - Black Swan
David O'Russell - The Fighter
Tom Hooper - The King's Speech
David Fincher - The Social Network
Joes & Ethan Coen - True Grit

I think it's Fincher's time... He missed out in 2009 with Benjamin Button, the Coens have won loads and I don't think The King's Speech will get many of the big awards. I think I secretly wish Aronofsky would win though, just because his film is so totally mental. But no, it's Fincher's time plus, look at his little face!

I'm gonna stop typing the other nominees now...

Best Actor

Colin Firth.  See that was easy. No point in writing the other guys down bless 'em. Jesse Eisenberg was great, James Franco was awesome and I'm sure the other two were great too but they've no chance.  I really do think Firth deserves it though. Yes he's playing a King with a stutter and a lisp - it's got 'Oscar' written all over it - but he does it brilliantly, never going too far.

Best Actress

Natalie Portman. Another easy one!  It doesn't help that I've not seen any of the other films in this category but Nina Sayers was the role of a lifetime and she didn't waste it.

Best Supporting Actor

Geoffrey Rush - I know the smart money is on Christian Bale for this one but every time I've watched The Fighter's trailer he looks like he's playing 'the wayward brother' stock character in a pretty over-the-top way.  I'd love to be wrong about that though.

Best Supporting Actress

I don't know!  Helena Bonham-Carter won't get it; although she's excellent, she doesn't have too much to do.  I've got to pick though so I'm going with Hailee Steinfeld. She looks like a good little actress, plus she's teeny she's got a chance. Love Amy Adams though.

Best Foriegn Language Film - Biutiful
Best Original Screenplay - The King's Speech

Best Animation

Aaargh!  I LOVE all the Toy Story films so I'm torn but I'm going with How to Train Your Dragon. It's funny, gorgeous too look at and incredibly moving. Pixar have enough already! 

Best Adapted Screenplay - The Social Network (I'm a Sorkin nerd - plus he's the best)
Best Art Direction - Inception
Best Cinematography - Black Swan
Best Sound Mixing - Inception
Best Sound Editing - Inception

Best Original Song - Just tracked these down and had a listen.  The thought of  having to watch Gwyneth Paltrow sing makes me feel a bit ill. I nearly went for the one from Tangled because I've got an irrational love for Mandy Moore but it's got to be We Belong Together from Toy Story 3. Randy Newman's voice makes me happy ok!

Best Original Score - AR Rahman for 127 Hours
Best Costumes -The King's Speech (If Alice in Wonderland gets it I'll be mad)
Best Documentary Feature - Restrepo (not seen it but Kermode says it's good)
Best Film Editing - 127 Hours (maybe??)

Best Animated Short - The Gruffalo!! A little British cartoon featuring the voices of Rob Brydon, James Corden would be pretty funny.  And now that's 3 nominated things with Helena B-C in...

Best Visual Effects - Inception

So that's it. A month till we find out how many I got right.

Apologies if this became less and less coherent towards the end. Do you agree, disagree, think I've gone mental? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Black Swan - Holy crap!

So it's about 24 hours since I settled down into the front row of a lovely, quiet cinema screen to enjoy Black Swan.  2 hours later I staggered out, feeling as though I needed a nice lie down.  I just about feel ready to try and organise my thoughts.  I hope they make sense!

Ballet is all about balance. You must be sure-footed. Darren Aronofsky makes sure his audience is the opposite, throwing us off balance and out of our comfort zone at every opportunity.  The result is a stunning, satisfying and unexpectedly funny film.


Natalie Portman is Nina Sayers; a ballerina with the determination to be 'perfect'.  Portman apparently trained for 10 months for this role and it shows.  She has always been graceful and fragile-looking but now she looks as though she could snap at any moment. Every bone protrudes, every muscle is lean.  Right or wrong, this is what dancers go through and the commitment she has shown to get there really shouldn't be underestimated.  She should win the Oscar. It'd be a crime if she didn't.  Her performance is the thing which grounds Black Swan. It gives it it's realism. It stops it from leaping, head first,  over the top of plausible.

So Nina is cast in Swan Lake, playing the White Swan Odette and the Black Swan Odile. She's great at dancing Odette cos she's all boring and sexless but Odile is more of a challenge... Enter Vincent Cassell!

He's the slimy French choreographer and he's brilliant.  Smarmy and calculated. Nina falls for every line.

Barbara Hershey plays Nina's mother and this relationship is the most interesting in the film.  Hershey switches brilliantly between Erica's attempts to be pally; all sorority girl sharing and hair brushing; and an ultra-controlling matriarch.

Nina's real-life opposite is Lily, a new dancer from (gasp) California!  She is everything Nina isn't; relaxed, sexy and independent. An uneasy friendship is formed, with the undercurrent of competition never too far away.  Mila Kunis seems to relish this role and she can do sexy with her eyes closed.  Lily is the catalyst for Nina finally losing her cool. Kunis is, on the face of it, the opposite of Portman but they are facially at least, similar enough for us to be freaked out now and then!

As the film progresses Aronofsky really starts to have fun.  Throwing the audience completley off balance with Cronenberg-esque body horror to make you (well me anyway) squirm in your seats. The omnipresent mirrors become more and more integral to Nina's crumbling psychosis and are the basis of some great shocks. And how do you not see the cameramen?!  And a scene involving Winona Ryder (who's pretty good) will have you wondering if you've wandered into an actual horror film.

Sound is used to great effect and the realism of the film stock and camera work really offsets the seeming unreality of the events of the final act. The dance scenes are excellent.  Filmed close to show the agony and the effort rather than the grace and elegance of the finished product.

And what of the ending?  I really can't tell you about it cos it's a pretty massive spoiler which is a shame cos I had some good clever words lined up but join me in comments and we'll argue it out!

I can't recommend Black Swan highly enough. It won't be everyone's cup of tea and I'm not sure I found it totally satisfying but it's the most exciting and thrilling films I've seen in a while. The performances really do make it.

Also... aren't these posters gorgeous?  The designers hadn't seen the film when they made them but they've really captured the tone I think. I'd happily hang all of them in my house.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Pete Postlethwaite

He died over a week ago now but it's never too late to think about somebody awesome.

I remember how amazing he was in In The Name of The Father when we watched it in Law class at college.

I remember when I saw Romeo & Juliet 3 times at the cinema...and all the times I've watched it with my classes since.

I remember how lucky I felt to see him play Prospero in The Tempest at the Royal Exchange in Manchester a few years ago.

This is how I think I'll always remember him though. If you've never seen Brassed Off it's worth a look. It's very British - think of The Full Monty with brass bands - but how can you resist a performance like this...

He'll be missed.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Happy New Year!

I know, I know, I've been gone for a really long time.  No excuses, just a gift by way of an apology.

See, that's better! You can't beat a good Inception/Mean Girls combo.
I've made a blog resolution for the New Year - AT LEAST one post per week.  Promise.

So I thought I'd do a mini-recap on 2010 and look forward to the new year a little bit.

Favorite film of the year - The Social Network

I should confess first that I am a bit of an Aaron Sorkin groupie - and that David Fincher's not bad either, so this isn't a very surprising choice. I loved the script (obviously). I loved the momentum of it - you get the sense that in the hands of another creative pair it could have been incredibly boring. But the thing I think I really liked the most were the performances. Jesse Eisenberg's Mark Zuckerberg could just be an unsympathetic arse, but he's not. Andrew Garfield's Eduardo Saverin could be a whiney sore loser, but he's not.  The Winklevoss twins could become the comic relief, but they don't.  It's fab.

Honourable Mentions
Toy Story 3
Kick Ass

Worst film of the year - Sex and The City 2

This really shouldn't come as a surprise to you if you've read my review here. The first film wasn't great but I was unprepared for the level of awfulness that occurred during what felt like the 7 hour running time. And the most depressing thing is that it made so much money that a 3rd film is inevitable. Great.

Favorite performance - Nicholas Cage in Bad Lieutenant

I really enjoyed this film. Review is here.  It's a pitch black comedy that's just brilliant fun to watch and that's mostly because of Mr Cage. Check out the video below for some of his 'best' moments!

Now let's look ahead to 2011...

Already it's shaping up to be a pretty exciting January.  I've seen 127 Hours and The King's Speech this week (reviews to come!) and with Black Swan and True Grit on the horizon, things are looking good.

The year in which I'm excited about a film featuring an animated lizard

What's not to love about this?

The year in which Andrew Garfield becomes a household name

I saw Andrew Garfield playing Romeo at The Royal Exchange in Manchester in 2005. I was on the front row and he was a pretty shouty Romeo.  Yep, Spiderman once spat on me.  That's a pretty good claim to fame.  He was brilliant and I spent the next few years wondering when he'd appear as I'd told everyone I knew how great he was.  I think he's chosen really good roles, starting small and working up to The Social Network.  Who knows what the new Spiderman film will be like but I'm pretty sure he'll be great in it.

The year in which we worry about Clint Eastwood's sanity...

Clint Eastwood & Matt Damon team up - it's got to be great right?

Erm... maybe not.  What was that?!  Is it a character piece or an action film?  Whatever it is, that trailer is terrible!  Here's hoping it's just some unfortunate editing...

The year in which Harry Potter ends

Ending the post on a sombre note... Harry!  Sob!  I make no apologies for how dramatic I seem here.  It's the end.  And that is pretty sad. The only thing sadder is if the end turns out to be a little bit rubbish.  But that can't happen right?  It's going to be the best film ever right? Oh god.

What films are you most excited for in 2011?