Posted in Movies

Oscar Reactions

So it isn’t my day to blog, but this one wouldn’t fit next weekend. Last night, they completely remade the show, making it a little less formal and yet still entertaining. Jackman did a surprisingly good job as host, but I have to say, I still like Stewart and Crystal better. Another thing I didn’t like was the way they did the acting awards, making it seem like they were the biggest things of the night, while skipping quickly over the others. Acting is good, but the Oscars are supposed to celebrate all the elements of the movie together, and not just pander to the general public who don’t know anything about editing or cinematography. So, what about the winners?

I was fine for the most part, no big surprises last night. Slumdog Millionaire was easily the biggest winner, and they deserved most of those awards. My main problems are in the Original Screenplay, Supporting Actress, and Actor categories. Milk had a decent screenplay, but no where near as original and good as In Bruges. Bruges was Pulp Fictiony in a way, making it easily the best in that category. Cruz did a good job as always, but I think Marisa Tomei did an excellent job in The Wrestler, which should have been nominated for and won some of the awards. Best actor was also a little disappointing, with Penn winning yet another Oscar. While he did do a great job, I think that we kind of expect that from him, and Rourke came by surprise with the role of a lifetime, and one that is so much different from the rest of his movies.

So what do you guys think of it?

Posted in Movies

My Oscar Picks

So the Oscars are tonight, and the academy has already made some horrible nominations, but lets hope they get SOME of these right. These aren’t what I think will win, these are what I think should win.

Best Picture- Slumdog Millionaire

It should be everything I hate. A cliche story, a happy ending, characters that don’t get too deep. But a movie has to be this good to have me rooting so much for the cliche ending and for the two characters to fall in love.

Best Actor- Mickey Rourke:

The Wrestler I do have to admit, this is a tough field right here, with Penn, Langella, and Pitt all giving great performances, but Rourke easily wins this in my book. Every moment, he IS Randy the Ram, for no second did I think of him as an actor, or this as a movie, but just like we were watching his life.

Best Actress- Kate Winslet: The Reader

While I haven’t seen two of the nominees in this category, I didn’t see too much from the trailers to make me doubt this choice. Winslet was great as the Nazi, and was believable the whole time. She went out of her comfort zone and still came out believable, and that’s what I think makes an Oscar winning performance.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role- Heath Ledger: The Dark Knight

Do I really have to explain myself? Only Brolin in this category has a chance at taking this from Heath, but I don’t think that will happen.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role- Marisa Tomei: The Wrestler

Again, just like Rourke, Tomei WAS Cassidy the stripper. This was easily the best performance in this category, and one of the best of the year as well. But, Cruz will probably get the Oscar.

Best Directing- David Fincher: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

While Boyle did a good job as well with Slumdog, Fincher has not made a bad movie from what I’ve seen. Button is just as good as these, and this is through the eyes of a true film genius, being able to make some of the most tense thrillers and still making this great drama.

Best Original Screenplay- In Bruges

It should win, and hopefully, it will win. The dialogue is excellent, and story interesting from beginning to end. Nothing else in this category is close to what Bruges has done.

Best Adapted Screenplay- Slumdog Millionaire

What can I say? It had me hooked until the end. This is a tough category though, and I wouldn’t be too sad if Nixon or Doubt took this one away.

Best Cinematography- Slumdog Millionaire

This was tough between Benjamin Button and Slumdog, but I had to give it to the latter. The images were beautiful in every shot, and just amazed me how well it could be done.

Best Editing- The Dark Knight

To keep a 2 1/2 hour movie go by as fast as The Dark Knight is an amazing accomplishment.

Best Art Direction- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

If you see the movie, you’ll see what I mean. Each set is meticulously done, and sets up for the cinematography.

Best Costume Design- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Again, Button is a huge feat in the production of it, and the costumes are all so realistic for the time. Duchess I haven’t seen though, but it will probably win.

Best Makeup- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Making an actor age like this is part makeup, part special effects. And both these elements worked together so well to make Pitt and Blanchett age.

Best Music- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I had the score stuck in my head for the next 3 hours, and I loved it.

Best Original Song- Slumdog Millionaire: Jai Ho

Ugh, NO “THE WRESTLER” BY BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN??!? THAT was easily the best song of the year, and instead, they choose 3 mediocre ones. This is just unforgivable…

Best Sound- The Dark Knight

They did such a great job with the Batpod, explosions, and everything.

Best Sound Editing- Iron Man

This should have been nominated in both sound categories and win both.

Best Visual Effects- Iron Man

Sure, Button was good in the more subtle effects, but some of the characters looked fake (young Daisy). But Iron Man looked just as real as any of the other actors in the movie.

Best Animated Feature- Wall-E

Sure, Kung Fu Panda was more enjoyable, but Wall-E was more of an achievement in film. With little dialogue, we still knew what was going on and felt for the characters. The animation was also so great, bringing the movie to life.

The rest I haven’t seen enough of the contenders to make an accurate judgement, so I’d like to know what you guys think about them.

Posted in Movies

Pacing and Length in Movies

What I don’t understand about some people, is their short attention spans when it comes to movies. Sometimes, they aren’t meant to be fast paced like EVERY OTHER HOLLYWOOD MOVIE. Same goes for long ones, where most go “It’s three hours? That sounds boring”. But What I’ve found, is sometimes these are the best types, and that deviation lets you fully explore the movie’s scope. So first, let’s talk pacing.

So for each of these explanations, I’ll be using two more recent movies to show good and bad examples of these properties. 10,000 B.C. and Benjamin Button (which I’ll use again) are both excellent examples of this. 10,000 B.C. is what people dread when it comes to boring movies. With all the cliches they try to throw at you, and the horribly done action make this seem like it goes on forever. Don’t forget the play by numbers action script, and we have a wanna be epic that just goes ON AND ON. Its the type that we just wish it could speed up, and move faster than a slug. More examples of this are The Last Legion, License to Wed, and The Astronaut Farmer. Then, we have Benjamin Button, which is the story of a man who ages in reverse. It’s slow, but if you can appreciate what its about, then that just lets you think of how Benjamin is about life as a whole. But this one has a reason for the pacing, it spans 70 years, and those really don’t go by too quickly, so this gives the sense that we did watch his whole life. Some of these are Assassination of Jesse James, The Wrestler, and Apocalypse Now.

Now, we have the lengthy ones. Most of my favorite movies are those that exceed 2 hours, and this is because most long movies have a larger meaning that couldn’t fit into the usual one and a half hours. These examples will be Australia and, again, Benjamin Button. Australia could have been much better, if they had kept to one storyline. From the beginning to the half-way point, its all about Kidman and Jackman’s blooming love, which was, actually pretty enjoyable. These scenes were funny, dramatic, and the usual chick-flick. But then, when it could have just ended, they had to start the movie up again just as we were winding down, and make it go on for another 1 and a half hours or so. From then on, most of the audience wasn’t very happy, and when the ending came, everyone winded up in the same exact spot, leaving us wondering why they couldn’t have just left it as it was. Some other bad examples are the last two Pirates of the Caribbean, and Star Wars Attack of the Clones. Then again, Benjamin Button needed these 3 hours, and could have used more if you asked me. This is a whole man’s life, and to get all the struggles, and moments of it was to keep it going. I’m fine with a short movie for a film that spans 10 days, but one that goes at least 70 years has got to have this length to capture most of the time periods. And unlike Australia, it doesn’t just tack on scenes to make it seem epic, it didn’t need to. From what I’ve seen, most movies that are over two and a half hours are excellent, and here are just a few. Once Upon a Time in America (4 hours), The Godfather (3 hours), Lord of the Rings Return of the King (3 and a half hours), and Braveheart (3 hours).

Posted in Movies

Top 5 Sports Movies

So, hopefully, on Tuesday, Scarface, our local sports writer, will write one of these blogs too, seeing the difference between what a movie fan likes and what a sports nut likes. While making this list, I also made some changes where the movies were technically better, so a few predictable movies I liked, I took off. So, here’s my number 5.

5. Million Dollar Baby: Boxing

One of the two Best Picture winners on this list, its hard not to like one of Eastwood’s best. This is the story of a female boxer who gets help from an old trainer. I promise you, Million Dollar Baby will bring tears to your eyes after seeing it. The acting and story are strongest here, bringing a memorable story that may change your views on… something.

4. Rocky: Boxing

Rocky is the second Best Picture winner. While the last 5 in the series are more about the action in boxing, this is on the character. The whole story is completely predictable, but it works. Rocky will get cheering during the ending boxing match and most everyone should be satisfied with it after the end. Its cliche to a T, but still a classic sports movie.

3. The Hustler: Pool

Now, we start getting from the mostly predictable to the greats of any genre. The Hustler is about a pool hustler that is one of the best. He challenges another guy, Minnesota Fats, also one of the best, to play. For a 40 year old movie, the pool scenes still keep you excited, and the editing is also still great. Paul Newman did an excellent job bringing this character to life. The sequel is not quite as good, but a more fun watch.

2. The Wrestler: Wrestling

Especially these top two, they are not about the sport. The Wrestler is mainly about those who have nothing else but a body for work. Mickey Rourke, a wrestler, and Marisa Tomei, a stripper, did excellent jobs bringing these people to life, and show that they don’t have too much outside of what they do. As hard as Rourke tries, he just can’t live a “normal” life like the rest of us, and all he has is wrestling. Everything comes together perfectly in Aronofsky’s latest, and the pain that the characters feel, we feel.

1. Raging Bull: Boxing

Hardly any sports list, or even all time greatest movies list, can come without Raging Bull near the top. I see no flaws in this portrait of Jake La Motta, and Scorsese made a masterpiece while he was still getting over his drug addiction. This was his rehab, and actor Robert De Niro gave his all in the part, and on the side to help out Scorsese. The beginning and end are amazing, while the whole way through we see how brutal boxing really is. It also brought back the use of black and white coloring for an artistic purpose. Raging Bull is far and away the best sports movie I’ve ever seen.

Posted in Movies

Last Week Oscar Predictions

Well, I haven’t seen all the movies that are contenders, but I have seen the ones that have come to the areas I have been in. So this week, I’ll wrap this series up with Gran Torino and some others that aren’t as major as it.

Gran Torino, I thought, was a solid film. Clint did a great job acting (I’m thinking he’ll get a nomination), and the story was also pretty good. I’m thinking that it won’t get the oscars that it was hyped for though, and for good reason. While it was good, there have been much better movies this year like Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, and Changeling. If Torino did get in for Best Picture above any of those movies, it would be a shame. The directing was ok, but Clint did better with his other movie this year, Changeling. The writing also isn’t too great, and won’t get anything. Personally, I didn’t like the original song Eastwood wrote with his son for the movie, but it’ll be nominated anyway. Also, the rest of the acting was either average to terrible at times. I really couldn’t care as much for the characters since it just took too much away for me. So, if you can see it, and none of those other movies I mentioned are out also, then watch it, it should at least be an interesting watch.

Best Picture- No chance
Best Director- Maybe…
Best Actor- Good chance, but no win
Best Original Song- Good chance, but no win

Some other movies I’ve seen have also been getting some hype, such as Burn After Reading, In Bruges, and Changeling. Burn After Reading will probably only be nominated for Best Original Screenplay, but won’t win. In Bruges will also be nominated for the same category, but again, won’t win. Changeling has gotten some new hype though since the BAFTA awards have been released. It could get Best Actress, Best Director, Best Art Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Sound nominations. I don’t think it would win any of them though.

One more thing, if you get the chance to see The Wrestler, I suggest you go see it. I haven’t seen it myself since its been avoiding me like the plague, but it will probably get some nominations and even wins at the Oscars, and I’ve heard great things about it.

I hope you enjoyed these blogs, and next week I’ll be reviewing the nominations and what I think of them. After that, I’ll talk about my favorite movies of last year, then, just back to regular blogging.