Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscar Predictions and Stuff

Oscar Picks

Who I think WILL win:
Best Actor: Colin Firth
Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush
Best Actress: Annette Bening
Best Supporting Actress:  Hailee Steinfeld
Director: Tom Hooper
Best Picture: The King's Speech
Best Animated: Toy Story 3
Art Direction:  Inception
Cinematographer:  True Grit
Costume: The King's Speech
Editing: Black Swan
Music (Score):  Social Network
Music (Song): "If I Rise"
Sound Editing: Inception
Sound Mixing:  King's Speech
Visual Effects:  Inception
Adapted Screenplay: Social Network
Original Screenplay:  King's Speech

Who I want to win:
Best Actor:  Colin Firth, James Franco and Jesse Eisenberg are all worthy, but Colin Firth would be my first choice.
Best Supporting Actor:  Christian Bale
Best Actress:  Jennifer Lawrence
Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld
Director: Danny Boyle (not nominated)
Best Picture: Inception 
Cinematographer: 127 Hours  (not nominated)
Editing: 127 Hours
The rest are the same as my picks to win.

My Red Carpet Dress

If I were a celebrity and tall and skinny and ready to take a fashion risk, this is what I would wear to the Oscars:

Reem Acra Spring 2011 Collection

I was going to wear this, but Halle Berry did to an event last week:

Elie Saab - Spring 2011 Couture Collection

Hopefully Tom and Lorenzo would approve!

Best Picture Nominees - 83rd Annual Academy Awards

This was our fourth year attending AMC's Best Picture Showcase.    Like last year, the 10 nominees were split up between 2 Saturdays.   (Some cities do a 24 hour marathon, but Columbus is not one of them.)   This year, instead of unlimited popcorn they gave us $10 AMC gift cards to buy whatever snacks/drinks we wanted.   Great improvement because who can eat that much popcorn anyway...
Thanks again to Eva's grandparents for watching her for us.  It will be at least 16 years before she goes with us!   (More on that later.)

Here was the lineup for the films for the first Saturday:

  • Toy Story 3  (We skipped this one since we had already seen it and actually own it.)

  • 127 Hours

  • The Kids Are All Right

  • True Grit

  • The Fighter

  • Yesterday's lineup was:

  • Winter's Bone

  • Black Swan

  • Inception

  • The Social Network  (We skipped this one, too, since we had already seen it.)

  • The King's Speech

  • I'm struggling with ranking these.   I'm not sure I can rank them 1 thru 10.   I think I'll need to divide them up into 2 categories first.
    Group A - Movies that would have never been nominated if there were still only 5 nominations up for grabs: Toy Story 3, The Kids Are All Right, Black Swan, Winter's Bone.   All are worthy movies which I would recommend to anyone and am so glad I saw them.   No regrets in this bunch.
    Group B - All the rest.    Which gives us 6 movies for only 5 nominations.   But if I rank all of those, and move my 6th favorite to the first category, then a really great movie wouldn't have been nominated.

    So what does this tell me?   2010 was an excellent year for movies.   Who knew?   I have to say, I'm surprised.

    Now for reviews, with letter grades included.   Some spoilers may be included.
    EDIT: I had to go back and add a squeamishness rating to these, because gore seemed to be a theme running throughout most of these.

    Group A

    Toy Story 3:  I'm a big fan of the Toy Story movies.  I'm a big fan of Pixar movies in general.   It amazes me how their movies NEVER seem to disappoint.   How do they do it?  
    Toy Story 3 is definitely the "The Return of the King" of this trilogy.   It's an epic, grand adventure.   It is symbolic of the struggle between good and evil.  The desire to stay young and innocent and facing the inevitable act of Growing Up.  Like Frodo and Sam, Woody and Andy know what must be done and know that sacrifices must be made.
    On a lighter note, one of my favorite parts of this movie is the introduction of Bonnie's toys.  I love, love, LOVE how they were all serious actors playing their roles to their absolute best.   I wish we could have seen more of this and less of the Day Care shenanigans, but then I guess there wouldn't be enough conflict and drama that way.
    And KUDOS to the writers for creating such a great little girl in Bonnie.   As a mother of a little girl who likes to play super-hero and play with trains and balls just as much as her babies and dollies, it was so refreshing to see that portrayed in a movie.   Bonnie was pretty awesome.
    Squeamish Factor: 2 - There are some very intense scenes involving torture of beloved characters.  ;)
    Grade:  A

    The Kids Are All Right:   I really liked this take on the "modern family" and their issues - - which when you get right down to it, aren't all that different than the struggles of the "traditional" family.
    The story was just OK (one could say it was All Right) but what really stood out in this movie was the Actors.   They made this movie.   Annette Bening is an amazing actress.  In one of the movie's best scenes, she doesn't even need to say a word and we know every single thought and detail that is going through her mind.   She really blew me away.
    Mark Ruffalo (I always wondered why people made a big deal out of him) and Julianne Moore are equally great in this movie.   And the young, and so unusually beautiful, Mia Wasikowska holds her own as their teenage daughter, Joni.  (Named after Joni Mitchell.  I'm kind of surprised that my parents didn't name me that.)
    Squeamish Factor: 1 - For uncomfortable mother/child moments.
    Grade: B-

    Black Swan:  This movie is Crazy with a capital C.   Seriously.   There is a lot of buzz and hype around this movie, mainly because Natalie Portman is a Hollywood favorite.   Also because of the "love" scene between her character and Mila Kunis' character.   And it is a good movie.   Very different and creative.   An art film.   Just not a Best Picture nominee, in my opinion.  Natalie Portman IS very good in it and I'm tres impressed with the fact that Natalie and Mila did their own dancing.   I personally love ballet and it's expressionism - so I appreciated that part of it.
    Warning: This film is not for the faint of heart.  Squeamish Factor: 10 - I can't even begin to explain.

    Grade: B

    Winter's Bone:   This was such a weird story.   It was good, but it was as if you were watching people from another country, or another planet even, but they weren't.   They were Americans.   It's just that we are so far removed from this kind of life that it seemed so alien.  And the next time I think my family is full of hillbillies, I'll remind myself of Winter's Bone.   Compared to these people, my family is full of blue bloods.
    Anyway, Jennifer Lawrence is the young lead actress that carries this film.   She is phenomenal!  I can't wait to see more from this (previously "unknown") girl.
    Warning:  This film is not for the faint of heart.  Squeamish Factor: 9 - For dismembered body parts and squirrel guts.
    Grade: A-

    Group B (which i will now attempt to rank from 6 down to 1 - - #1 is the film I felt was most Oscar-worthy.)

    6. True Grit:  Finally!   A Coen Brothers film with a coherent and semi-conclusive ending.   The most satisfied I've been at a Coen Brothers ending in 10 years.
    Hailee Steinfeld, is deserving of the Academy Award for Best Actress.   However, she is nominated for Best Supporting Actress.   What the HECK?   She supported NO ONE.   All of the other actors supported her, including Best Actor nominee Jeff Bridges.   This was HER movie.
    My only complaints are that it was hard to understand Jeff Bridges' character at times, and Matt Damon was not at his best.  But that's just me being nitpickey.
    Warning: This film is not for the faint of heart.  Squeamish Factor: 7 - lots of violence, some snakes, some dismembered body parts - but this was nothing compared to some of the other movies.

    Grade: A+

    5. The Fighter:  I'm a sucker for a true story.   This one is about a boxer (Mark Wahlberg) who is trying to live up to his brother's former glory.   The brother (Christian Bale) was a boxer who once was the hero of their town, and then became a crackhead, enabled by his nutso mom and dysfunctional family.
    Christian Bale is the most underrated actor - possibly the best actor of his generation.   His performance in The Fighter takes my breath away.   He is Good.
    Mark Wahlburg is also underrated, and I think if he keeps doing movies like The Fighter and less movies like The Happening, he'll be better appreciated.   If you're a fan of "Marky Mark's" bod, he is half naked throughout much of the movie.   So that's always a plus.
    Amy Adams plays Mark's girlfriend and this is her best role yet.   She was really able to show her range - - she doesn't always have to play the "good girl."    And in one of my favorite parts of the movie, she gets to kick a little but.
    Also, the Fighter reminded me of how much I love boxing. 
    Great film.
    Squeamish Factor: 5 - Just the basic boxing movie stuff, I guess.

    Grade: A+

    4. 127 Hours:  Another true story.   This is basically a one man show staring James Franco, as Aron Ralston, the hiker who must chop off hack away at his own arm in order to escape from a crevice in which he is stuck for 127 hours.   (Sorry if I spoiled that one for you).
    I am not a huge fan of James Franco, but his performance in 127 Hours is top-notch.  I was so impressed and it has totally changed my opinion of him (and makes up for his awful acting on General Hospital.  Well, almost.)
    And I have to say that director Danny Boyle and cinematographer were totally robbed for not being nominated.   To be fair, the cinematographers job was made easier by the beautiful landscape of the American West.
    Warning: This film is not for the faint of heart.  Squeamish Factor: 10 - I mean, obviously.  Dude cuts off his arm.  And they show all the detail.   Also, he drinks his pee.

    Grade: A+
    3. The Social Network:   Yet another true story.  
    This movie can be best summed up by it's last scene.   Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg is sitting at his computer, he has just sent a friend request to an ex-girlfriend ("the one that got away") and he keeps refreshing the page to see if she accepts.   It's a lonely, pathetic moment.   One in which a lot of us can relate.   It shows that even with his brilliant mind and billions of dollars, he is just as pathetic as the rest of us.
    The Social Network shows how Facebook has leveled the "social" playing field for us anti-social/techie types.   Which might be why I like it so much.
    No gruesomeness in this  movie.   At least not that I can remember.  Squeamish Factor: 1 (unless social awkwardness gives you the heebee-jeebies.)
    Grade: A+
    2. The King's Speech:  True story!  Yay! 
    Immediately after seeing this movie - which was the last one I saw of all the nominees - I ranked it as number 4 or 5.  
    However, after letting it sink for a bit, I came to a realization.  Colin Firth and Geoffery Rush (and everyone else) are such amazing actors, that the ease of their portrayals of King George VI and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue, respectively, made the movie seem like No Big Deal.   But it WAS a big deal.   It was outstanding.  Bravo!
    Squeamish Factor: 1 (although the stuttering can make you anxious.)
    Grade: A+

    1.  Inception:  NOT a true story.  I don't think.   Dan and I might have been the last people on earth to see this movie, so I had heard a lot of opinions on it beforehand, and had tried my hardest to stay away from spoilers.   Inception totally exceeded all expectations and then some.   That anyone could even dream (hahaha) this stuff up is flabbergasting to me.   It blew my mind.
    I LOVE how the movie started in the (seemingly) middle of the story, just like a dream! 
    The scene when the girl from Juno has her first shared dream, and she folds Paris onto itself?   Perfection.  Paris was the perfect city for that scene.
    A couple of inside things that I also loved: 
    • In the 2nd layer of the main dream, Juno Ellen Page is dressed EXACTLY like Kim Novak's character in Vertigo (one of my favorite movies of all time.)  
    • The song they played to help get them out of the dreams was La Vie En Rose, by Edith Piaf.   Co-star Marion Cotillard's Oscar winning portrayal of Edith Piaf in 2007's La Vie En Rose is one of the best performances ever.   Dan and I cracked up every time the played it and wondered if they picked that song on purpose.
    Inception was great all the way through and had one of the most satisfying film endings that I have seen in a long, long, time.   Way to go against the trend!  :)

    Squeamish Rating: 2 - Just some mild violence.
    Grade: A+

    There you have it.   :)

    I'll post my picks in a moment.   I'm almost out of time!!!