Saturday, February 27, 2010

Oscar Party Kit

Next Sunday is the 82nd annual Academy Awards, and there's a great Oscar Night Party Kit available at the official site.
I'll post my predictions later this week.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Time Traveller's Alright

Despite the saccrine, rather lame promotional campaign, it turns out that The Time Traveller's Wife, recently released on home video, is actually pretty good. The film doesn't take itself particularily seriously, sidestepping any effort to come up with a realistic explaination for Eric Bana's random time travelling habits, choosing instead to find the humour and genuine emotion from the logistical issues that arise when one half of a couple keeps literally disappearing. One scene in particular - when the pair gets married - stands out as both surprisingly funny and emotionally satisfying. The Time Traveller's Wife may be the year's most underrated picture.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Visit Denmark!

While some people may find parts this kind of disturbing (so be forewarned), here's a great story from The Onion on the new Tourism Denmark campaign directed by Lars Von Trier (Dancer in the Dark, Dogville, Breaking the Waves, Antichrist). Anyone familiar with Von Trier's dark, uncompromisingly challenging work should find it pretty funny.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Oscar Misses

The nominations list for the 82nd Academy Awards (being presented March 7) are available here, and overall it's a pretty predictable, but solid, list. Avatar and The Hurt Locker each got much love, and it'll be interesting to see which comes out on top. And the hosting duo of Steve martin and Alec Baldwin promises to keep things classy & entertaining. Inevitably, though, there are films that the Academy overlooked - here are a few that come to mind:

Moon (Best Actor - Sam Rockwell, Best Original Screenplay, Production Design)
This constrained, ultra-low budget science fiction tale features one of the year's most engaging performances: Sam Rockwell as a blue collar worker finishing up a three-year stint harvesting energy from the moon, all by his lonesome, who starts to question his sanity. Rather than relying on a clever third-act twist, the screenplay plays its cards simply and efficiently to question our relationship to the concept of humanity; and the design of the moon outpost set is endlessly interesting. Seeing Rockwell skipped over was a real surprise to me.

Star Trek (Best Original Score)
Easily the catchiest composition of the year, the substantial impact of this franchise reboot can be largely credited to its driving score. I would've left James Horner's 'Greatest Hits' mash-up that was Avatar off the list in favour of this one.

Away We Go (Best Original Screenplay)
A quiet relationship movie that manages to be both emotionally honest and defiantly upbeat, Away We Go should've caught on more than it did.

The Taking of Pelham 123 (Sound Mixing)
This tight hostage thriller is an audio wonderland, and it deserved a little attention for putting us in the middle of New York's subway system so effectively.

Public Enemies (Best Actor - Johnny Depp, Best Cinematography)
Everyone loves Johnny Depp, so I'm sure no one would've minded his nuanced performance as John Dillinger being recognized by the Academy. More controversial is Public Enemies' digital cinematography - many complained that its edgy look ran in opposition to expectations for a period bank robber movie. Of course, that's the point, and for my money Dante Spinotti deserves at least a nomination for pushing the digital format as far as he did, creating images that simply wouldn't be possible on film and injecting immediacy into a well-tread genre. This ain't Bonnie and Clyde.

More thoughts on the Oscars to come...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Early Oscar Prediction

The Academy Award nominations are out early tomorrow morning, but here's an early prediction: The Hurt Locker takes Best Picture, despite Avatar's unprecedented financial success. Avatar's a great popcorn movie, and is wholly entertaining, but I don't think it'll take home that particular little gold man (although it'll almost certainly earn a handful of other Oscars).

Tougher to predict is Best Director - Kathryn Bigelow did outstanding work with The Hurt Locker, but every element of Avatar has James Cameron's signature on it, and you can't deny how well the picture works; I give the slight edge to Cameron.