Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The 2012 Oscar Nominations are...

A pretty interesting morning! Here's the lineup, with the * denoting the nominations I was predicting (Dang, I wish I would have stayed with TREE OF LIFE in Best Pic and Von Sydow for Supporting Actor). I must mention here the first major Oscar Roundtable show, at MOVIE GEEKS UNITED, which you can hear here! As a result of this, those nominees that are in boldface are the ones I'm predicting to win. Anyway, here we go:

BEST PICTURE
*The Artist Thomas Langmann, Producer
*The Descendants Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Scott Rudin, Producer
*The Help Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
*Hugo Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
*Midnight in Paris Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
*Moneyball Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
The Tree of Life Dede Gardner, Sarah Green, Grant Hill and Bill Pohlad, Producers
*War Horse Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

BEST ACTOR
Demián Bichir, A Better Life
*George Clooney, The Descendants
*Jean Dujardin, The Artist
*Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
*Brad Pitt, Moneyball

BEST ACTRESS
*Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
*Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
*Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
*Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
*Jonah Hill, Moneyball
*Nick Nolte, Warrior
*Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
*Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
*Jessica Chastain, The Help
*Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
*Octavia Spencer, The Help

BEST DIRECTOR
*Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
*Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
*Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
*Alexander Payne, The Descendants
*Martin Scorsese, Hugo

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
*The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius
*Bridesmaids, Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
Margin Call, J.C. Chandor
*Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen
*A Separation, Asghar Farhadi

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
*The Descendants, Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Hugo, John Logan
The Ides of March, George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
*Moneyball, Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Story by Stan Chervin
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
*The Artist, Guillaume Schiffman
*The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Jeff Cronenweth
*Hugo, Robert Richardson
*The Tree of Life, Emmanuel Lubezki
*War Horse, Janusz Kaminski

BEST ART DIRECTION
*The Artist, Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
*Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
*Hugo, Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
Midnight in Paris, Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
War Horse, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
*Anonymous, Lisy Christl
*The Artist, Mark Bridges
*Hugo, Sandy Powell
*Jane Eyre, Michael O’Connor
W.E., Arianne Phillips

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
The Adventures of Tintin, John Williams
*The Artist, Ludovic Bource
*Hugo, Howard Shore
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alberto Iglesias
*War Horse, John Williams

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets, Music and Lyrics by Bret McKenzie
“Real in Rio” from Rio, Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Lyrics by Siedah Garrett

BEST FILM EDITING
*The Artist, Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
The Descendants, Kevin Tent
*The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
*Hugo, Thelma Schoonmaker
*Moneyball, Christopher Tellefsen

BEST SOUND MIXING
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
*Hugo, Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
Moneyball, Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
*War Horse, Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

BEST SOUND (EFFECTS) EDITING
Drive, Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Ren Klyce
Hugo, Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
*Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
*War Horse, Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
*Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
*Hugo, Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
Real Steel, Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
*Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
*Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

BEST MAKEUP
Albert Nobbs, Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
*Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
*The Iron Lady, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
A Cat in Paris, Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
Chico & Rita, Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
*Kung Fu Panda 2, Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Puss in Boots, Chris Miller
*Rango, Gore Verbinski

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Bullhead (Belgium)
*Footnote (Israel)
*In Darkness (Poland)
*Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
*A Separation (Iran)

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Hell and Back Again, Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
*Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
Pina, Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
Undefeated, TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement, Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
*God Is the Bigger Elvis, Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
*Incident in New Baghdad, James Spione
Saving Face, Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
*The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Dimanche/Sunday, Patrick Doyon
*The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
*La Luna, Enrico Casarosa
A Morning Stroll, Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
Wild Life, Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
Pentecost, Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
*Raju, Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
*The Shore, Terry George and Oorlagh George
*Time Freak, Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
Tuba Atlantic, Hallvar Witzø

77 out of 119 nominations guessed correctly. Good luck to all the nominees!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My second go at 2012 Oscar Nomination predictions, with my own personal choices thrown in

With less than a week to go before the 2012 Academy Award nominations are to be announced, I felt I owed myself another chance at rejiggering my original predictions, posted so early on December 13th, 2011, which I refused to go back and change as things changed around me. Sites like Kris Tapley's In Contention, John O'Neil's The Envelope and Sasha Stone's Awards Daily readjust their findings all year round, so I thought I would do so, too, especially seeing as my predix came before any guild or Globe announcements (and seeing as how I don't make my bread and butter out of these). I really don't think anybody knows anything until the movies have been seen, anyway (EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE, anyone?). To make things even more surprising, I'm throwing into the stir my own VERY honest choices regarding what I think SHOULD be nominated this year. The pictures below point to which films I would like to see win. There are lots of surprises coming up (especially in my personal picks), so pay close attention, you awards mavens you:



BEST PICTURE
THE ARTIST, Thomas Langmann, producer
BRIDESMAIDS, Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel and Clayton Townsend, producers
THE DESCENDANTS, Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, producers
THE HELP, Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus and Brunson Green, producers
HUGO, Graham King and Martin Scorsese, producers
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, producers
MONEYBALL, Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, producers
WAR HORSE, Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg, producers

(If there were still only five nominees, it'd be THE ARTIST, THE DESCENDANTS, THE HELP, HUGO and MONEYBALL. But this year, because of the newly-funky Academy rules, I think there'll be eight nominees, so I added BRIDESMAIDS, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and WAR HORSE. Originally, I had THE TREE OF LIFE in the roster, but I wisely began to think that's wishful thinking on my part. I think BRIDESMAIDS will take its place as this year's popular choice, given that it's been so gung-ho with the guilds. DRAGON TATTOO might slip in, but I'm thinking it's a little too raw. Anyway, the moment I saw the trailer for THE ARTIST, back in late August, I knew that it would be the Oscar winner. Just to let you in on something, when I atteneded the NY Film Festival, in the Green Room, I let everyone know that it would be Best Picture via a phone conversation. I remember giggles there...but, face to face, I told Hazanavicius that his film would be the winner and, though I'm an admirer of darker or thinkier fare, I thanked him for such a delightful bit of substantial candy, which I believe we all need at this time.)

MY CHOICES:
THE ARTIST, Thomas Langmann, producer
BRIDESMAIDS, Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel and Clayton Townsend, producers
MELANCHOLIA, Meta Louise Foldager and Louise Vesth, producers
MONEYBALL, Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, producers
PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY, Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky & Jonathan Silberberg, producers
A SEPARATION, Asghar Farhedi and Negar Eskandarfar, producers
THE TREE OF LIFE, Dede Gardner, Sarah Green, Grant Hill, William Pohlad and Brad Pitt, producers



BEST ACTOR
George Clooney, THE DESCENDANTS
Jean Dujardin, THE ARTIST
Michael Fassbender, SHAME
Gary Oldman, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
Brad Pitt, MONEYBALL

(Here, I'm sticking with my original lineup. DiCaprio will have to wait for next year's GREAT GATSBY for his next nomination, I think. Still, I'm really sticking my neck out for Oldman and Fassbender here.)

MY CHOICES:
Dominic Cooper, THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE
Jean Dujardin, THE ARTIST
Mel Gibson, THE BEAVER
Peyman Mouadi, A SEPARATION
Brad Pitt, MONEYBALL



BEST ACTRESS
Glenn Close, ALBERT NOBBS
Viola Davis, THE HELP
Kirsten Dunst, MELANCHOLIA
Meryl Streep, THE IRON LADY
Michelle Williams, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN

(I originally went with Tilda Swinton instead of Close, but now that Close has landed both SAG and Globe noms, I guess she's going to get in, though she doesn't deserve to. By the way, I'm sticking with my no-guts-no-glory choice of Kirsten Dunst, not only because it's the best lead female perf of the year, but because this Palme D'or winner re-entered the conversation late after her victory with the National Society of Film Critics.)

MY CHOICES:
Juliette Binoche, CERTIFIED COPY
Kirsten Dunst, MELANCHOLIA
Tilda Swinton, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
Kristen Wiig, BRIDESMAIDS
Michelle Williams, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN



BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Albert Brooks, DRIVE
Jonah Hill, MONEYBALL
Viggo Mortensen, A DANGEROUS METHOD
Nick Nolte, WARRIOR
Christopher Plummer, BEGINNERS

(When I made my first selections, I hadn't seen MONEYBALL, so I found it hard to believe Jonah Hill would get in there. But now his is my favorite supporting actor perf of the year, and he's gotten SAG and Globe noms, so he's definitely in. My daring choice is Mortensen, who was nommed for the Globe, but not for SAG; he was the very best thing about A DANGEROUS METHOD, so I think this is a suitable surprise. I got rid of Pitt for THE TREE OF LIFE--more wishful thinking--and Max Von Sydow, for the sure-to-be-snubbed EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE. But I'm choosing Von Sydow as my #1 pick for a special Oscar next year, which I think he should receive alongside fellow Special Oscar winner Liv Ullmann. Wouldn't that be wonderful?)

MY CHOICES:
Albert Brooks, DRIVE
Jonah Hill, MONEYBALL
Viggo Mortensen, A DANGEROUS METHOD
Brad Pitt, THE TREE OF LIFE
Kiefer Sutherland, MELANCHOLIA



BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Berenice Bejo, THE ARTIST
Jessica Chastain, THE HELP
Melissa McCarthy, BRIDESMAIDS
Octavia Spencer, THE HELP
Shailene Woodley, THE DESCENDANTS

(I first thought Bejo would be left out of THE ARTIST's mix, but after SAG and the Globes, where she scored, it's hard to leave her off the list. I originally had Carey Mulligan for SHAME, and still think she might get in there, besting Woodley or McCarthy. But I have a couple of other WAY OUTSIDE hopes I'm rooting for...)

MY CHOICES:
Sareh Bayat, A SEPARATION
Jessica Chastain, THE HELP
Jennifer Ehle, CONTAGION
Melissa McCarthy, BRIDESMAIDS
Octavia Spencer, THE HELP



BEST DIRECTOR
Woody Allen, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
Michel Hazanavicius, THE ARTIST
Terrence Malick, THE TREE OF LIFE
Alexander Payne, THE DESCENDANTS
Martin Scorsese, HUGO

(I'm sticking with my picks here, even though Fincher will probably get in there for DRAGON TATTOO. I just can't believe the adventurous Directors branch would snub Malick.)

MY CHOICES:
Michel Hazanavicius, THE ARTIST
Terrence Malick, THE TREE OF LIFE
Bennett Miller, MONEYBALL
Lars Von Trier, MELANCHOLIA
Apiatchapong Weerasethakul, UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES



BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
FOOTNOTE (Israel)
IN DARKNESS (Poland)
MONSUIER LAHZAR (Canada)
PINA (Germany)
A SEPARATION (Iran)

(I originally had Turkey's ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA, pictured above, as an entry here, but it's been eliminated by the Academy (which is a crime), so I'm going with the movie from Canada, just because I love Canadian movies...)

MY CHOICES:
FOOTNOTE (Israel)
MISS BALA (Mexico)
ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA (Turkey)
PINA (Germany)
A SEPARATION (Iran)



BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN
KUNG FU PANDA 2
RANGO
RIO
WINNIE THE POOH


(I'm staying with these, even though PUSS IN BOOTS or CARS 2 might sneak in, probably with one of them replacing TINTIN, which smudges up the animated movie thing with its motion capture--that is, if the Academy doesn't decide to make a giant leap...but if WINNIE THE POOH doesn't make it in here, there are some hard hearts in the Academy.)

MY CHOICES:
PUSS IN BOOTS
RANGO
WINNIE THE POOH




BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Michel Hazanavicius, THE ARTIST
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, BRIDESMAIDS
Woody Allen, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
Asghar Farhedi, A SEPARATION
Tom McCarthy and Joe Tiboni, WIN WIN

(I deleted THE TREE OF LIFE from this race as well, replacing it with what is certainly the best original screenplay of the year, from Farhedi's A SEPARATION (there's always a foreign entry in the screenplay race anyway). I now think WIN WIN is the weak link here, and might get replaced with 50/50 or YOUNG ADULT.)

MY CHOICES:
Michel Hazanavicius, THE ARTIST
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, BRIDESMAIDS
Lars Von Trier, MELANCHOLIA
Asghar Farhedi, A SEPARATION
Alexandru Baciu, Radu Muntean, Razvan Radulescu, TUESDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS



BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, THE DESCENDANTS
Steven Zallian, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
Tate Taylor, THE HELP
Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian and Stan Chervin, MONEYBALL
Lynne Ramsay and Rory Kinnear, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

(I first went with WAR HORSE here, but that's not gonna happen, so I replaced it with Zallian's DRAGON TATTOO script, making him a rare double nominee in this category. I'm being adventurous in sticking with WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, since HUGO is likely to overtake it. But I hated that script so much, I couldn't bring myself to put it amongst my predictions. Hey, the writers are a daredevil bunch, too.)

MY CHOICES:
Christopher Hampton, A DANGEROUS METHOD
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, THE DESCENDANTS
Tate Taylor, THE HELP
Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian and Stan Chervin, MONEYBALL
Lynne Ramsay and Rory Kinnear, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN



BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
THE ARTIST, Guillaume Schiffman
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, Jeff Cronenweth
HUGO, Robert Richardson
THE TREE OF LIFE, Emmanuel Lubezki
WAR HORSE, Janusz Kaminski

(I'm sticking with this bunch, as they look solid to me.)

MY CHOICES:
THE ARTIST, Guillaume Schiffman
GENERAL ORDERS NO. 9, Robert Persons
MELANCHOLIA, Manuel Alberto Claro
THE TREE OF LIFE, Emmanuel Lubezki
UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES, Sayombhu Mukdeeprom



BEST ART DIRECTION
ANONYMOUS, Sebastian T. Krawinkel
THE ARTIST, Lawrence Bennett
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2, Stuart Craig
HUGO, Dante Ferretti
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, Maria Djurkovic

(I see no reason to mess with this bunch, either.)

MY CHOICES:
ANONYMOUS, Sebastian T. Krawinkel
THE ARTIST, Lawrence Bennett
THE DESCENDANTS, Jane Ann Stewart
HUGO, Dante Ferretti
THE TREE OF LIFE, Jack Fisk



BEST COSTUME DESIGN
ANONYMOUS, Lisy Christl
THE ARTIST, Mark Bridges
HUGO, Sandy Powell
IMMORTALS, Eiko Ishioka
JANE EYRE, Michael O'Connor

(I replaced my spiteful choice of MIDNIGHT IN PARIS with Sandy Powell's work in HUGO. Those George Melies sequences became to big to ignore. But PINA was the great costume event of the year.)

MY CHOICES:
ANONYMOUS, Lisy Christl
THE ARTIST, Mark Bridges
HABEMUS PAPUM, Lina Nerli Taviani
IMMORTALS, Eiko Ishioka
PINA, Rolf Börzik and Marion Cito



BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
THE ARTIST, Ludovic Bource
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2, Alexandre Desplat
HUGO, Howard Shore
WAR HORSE, John Williams

(No reason to mess with these choices, but my personal picks are much different...)

MY CHOICES:
THE ARTIST, Ludovic Bource
CARNAGE, Alexandre Desplat
CONTAGION, Cliff Martinez
FOOTNOTE, Amit Poznansky
THE SKIN I LIVE IN, Alberto Iglasias



BEST ORIGINAL SONG
"Hello Hello" from GNOMEO AND JULIET, music by Elton John, lyrics by Bernie Taupin
"The Living Proof" from THE HELP, music by Mary J. Blige, Thomas Newman and Harvey Mason Jr.;
lyrics by Mary J. Blige, Harvey Mason Jr. and Damon Thomas
"Coeur Volant" from HUGO, music by Howard Shore, lyrics by Elizabeth Cotnoir and Isabelle Geffroy
"Life's A Happy Song" from THE MUPPETS, music and lyrics by Bret McKenzie
"So Long" from WINNIE THE POOH, music and lyrics by Zooey Deschanel

(Best Song is such a thorny category to predict that I had to really overhaul my first choices. I originally had only three in there, but it's been a richer year than that. I had to delete "Pictures in My Head" from THE MUPPETS and replaced it with the much more upbeat "Life's a Happy Song." Then I added Elton John and Bernie Taupin's "Hello Hello" from the forgotten GNOMEO AND JULIET, because it sounded good, I like that legendary duo (this will be Taupin's first nom), and it got a Globe nom. Then my surprise choice (other than HUGO's "Coeur Volant") is Zooey Dechanel's "So Long" from WINNIE THE POOH, which I think would be a wonderful choice. But that drek from ALBERT NOBBS could sneak in here...)

MY CHOICES:
"Coeur Volant" from HUGO, music by Howard Shore, lyrics by Elizabeth Cotnoir and Isabelle Geffroy
“Sparkling Day” from ONE DAY, music and lyrics by Elvis Costello
"Life's A Happy Song" from THE MUPPETS, music and lyrics by Bret McKenzie
"Masterpiece" from W.E., music & lyrics By: Madonna, Julie Frost and Jimmy Harry
"So Long" from WINNIE THE POOH, music and lyrics by Zooey Deschanel



BEST EDITING
THE ARTIST, Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
HUGO, Thelma Schoonmaker
MONEYBALL, Christopher Tellefsen
WAR HORSE, Michael Kahn

(No need to fiddle with this lineup.)

MY CHOICES:
THE ARTIST, Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
BRIDESMAIDS, William Kerr and Mike Sale
MONEYBALL, Christopher Tellefsen
PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY, Alyse Ardell Spiegel
THE TREE OF LIFE, Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber and Mark Yoshikawa



BEST SOUND MIXING
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2
HUGO
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL
SUPER 8
WAR HORSE


(I had to add HARRY POTTER and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE in here, deleting THE TREE OF LIFE and TRANSFORMERS)

MY CHOICES:
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
SUPER 8
UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON
THE TREE OF LIFE




BEST SOUND (EFFECTS) EDITING
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
SUPER 8
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON
WAR HORSE


(Here, I deleted HUGO in place of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE)

MY CHOICES:
THE ARTIST
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
SUPER 8
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON
WAR HORSE




BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2
HUGO
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON
THE TREE OF LIFE


(This seems like the ultimate grouping to me. I really hope to see THE TREE OF LIFE's inventivive use of effects on here, as Douglas Trumbull has already been given the Gordon E. Sawyer lifetime achievement award this year.)

MY CHOICES:
HUGO
MELANCHOLIA
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON
THE TREE OF LIFE




BEST MAKEUP
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2
THE IRON LADY
GAINSBOURG: A HEROIC LIFE

(Thankfully, J. EDGAR has been eliminated from the running, as has PIRATES, so I replaced them with the obvious winner THE IRON LADY (the old age makeup here is truly astonishing) and with the wow makeup for the little-seen GAINSBOURG.)


MY CHOICES:
ANONYMOUS
THE IRON LADY
GAINSBOURG: A HEROIC LIFE




BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK
BUCK
PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY
PROJECT NIM
WE WERE HERE


(Sticking with these, and hoping that Berlinger and Sinofsky win for their magnificent, earth-shaking achievement with the PARADISE LOST series.)


MY CHOICES:
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF NICOLAI CEAUCESCU
BUCK
GEORGE HARRISON: LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD
PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY
PROJECT NIM




BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
GOD IS THE BIGGER ELVIS
IN TAHIR SQUARE: 18 DAYS OF EGYPT'S UNFINISHED REVOLUTION
INCIDENT IN NEW BAGHDAD
PIPE DREAMS
THE TSUNAMI AND THE CHERRY BLOSSOM

(And these as well, and no personal choices from me, though the pic is from TAHIR, which looks like the strongest choice to me...)




BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
JE POURRAIS ETRE VOTRE GRAND-MERE (I Could Be Your Grandmother)
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
RAJU
THE SHORE
TIME FREAK

(I've seen all the trailers from the final entries, and these look like the right ones. The first one seems the best. I made no predictions on this category first time around, but after seeing the trailers, JE POURRAIS ETRE VOTRE GRAND-MERE looks like the most vibrant choice; by the way, I think Jordan Vogt-Roberts' SUCCESSFUL ALCOHOLICS should have been included here.)




BEST ANIMATED SHORT
THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE
I TAWT I TAW A PUDDY TAT
LA LUNA
PATHS OF HATE
SPECKY FOUR EYES

(I replaced WILD LIFE with PATHS OF HATE here, for no reason other than PATHS OF HATE seemed like a more fascinating title to me. No personal choices made here. But I think, finally, Pixar
will come out on top this year with LA LUNA, just so we can forget about CARS 2.)

THEY ARE WHAT THEY ARE...now tell me truly...if the movies I picked to win each individual award actually won, would you be mad?? Wouldn't these personal choices of mine electrically enliven the Oscars, which--let's be real here--needs some serious ass goosing??? Be real now...

So now I WILL be real. Though I think THE TREE OF LIFE is the Best Picture of the year, with MELANCHOLIA close behind, I'm totally happy with THE ARTIST capturing everything in its purview. So what does that say about me?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Best Films of 2011

As usual per the year in movies, I started off thinking this was the worst year ever. But, by the fall, I began to see an extraordinary collection of largely contemplative films that were, this year, in one way or another, pining for the past. Nostalgia is the dominant theme in 2011's movies: one could lump Midnight in Paris, The Tree of Life, The Artist, War Horse, Hugo, General Orders No. 9, and George Harrison: Living in the Material World all into a category wanting for bygone eras, presumably because the present is so trying. Also, the prevalence of end-of-the-world scenarios in films like Melancholia, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Another Earth, Contagion, Take Shelter and 4:44: Last Day on Earth is related to worldwide discord being felt by all. But I also found 2011's films also to be filled with a shining love of life, nature and humanity. It was a resolutely extraordinary year in film, and many of these in my top 25 will deserve to be studied again and again in the assured future. By the way, me and my esteemed MOVIE GEEKS UNITED cohorts Jamey Duvall and Jerry Dennis discuss our top ten of 2011 here on the 8 January 2012 podcast, so check it out if you desire more commentary and variety!

My top 25 films from 2011:

1) The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
The universe lives inside us all.

2) Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apiachapong Weerasethakul)
Ghosts of the past revisit the living, with mesmerizing visuals and sound.

3) Melancholia (Lars Von Trier)
Depression, so perfectly portrayed that the end of the world seems like a relief.

4) A Separation (Asghar Farhedi)
A steamroller of a movie that goes in directions you cannot possibly predict, leaving all with impossibly difficult choices.

5) Moneyball (Bennett Miller)
How statistics and economics influence the world of sports.

6) The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
A delightful truffle.

7) General Orders No. 9 (Robert Persons)
Filmed poetry obsessed with our longing for the trappings of the past.

8) We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay)
Horror reimagined.

9) Bridesmaids (Paul Feig)
Female relationships portrayed with feeling and laughter.

10) Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky)
The power, and impotence, of documentary filmmaking.

11) Tuesday After Christmas (Radu Muntean)
A most perfect drama about the implications of adultery.

12) Of Gods and Men (Xavier Beauvois)
Divinity and bravery in the face of terror.

13) George Harrison: Living in the Material World (Martin Scorsese)
An artist's journey through fame and spirituality.

14) Heartbeats (Les Amours Imaginaires) (Xavier Dolan) 
A lovely--and failed--menage a'trois.

15) Pina (Wim Wenders)
Movement and space, exquisitely filmed in 3-D.

16) A Little Help (Michael J. Weithorn)
Life, falling apart and in need of repair.

17) The Future (Miranda July)
Modern self-absorption comes under fire.

18) Contagion (Steven Soderburgh)
Viral terror.

19) Silent Souls (Aleksei Fedorchenko) 
A gloriously photographed trudge towards closure.

20) Buck (Cindy Meehl)
The values of quietude and understanding, seen through one unique artist's eyes.

21) Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin)
A woman scrambled, attempting to re-enter the world.

22) Win Win (Tom McCarthy)
One family's strengthening in crisis.

23) The Autobiography of Nicolai Ceausescu (Andrei Ujica)
So much opulence and power, wasted.

24) The Devil’s Double (Lee Tamahori)
A fascinating, exciting peer into horrifying dictatorial power

25) Aurora (Christi Puiu)
What is this man doing?

OF NOTE: 50/50, Beginners, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Certified Copy, A Dangerous Method, The Descendants, Film Socialisme, The Guard, Hanna, The Help, The Interrupters, Into The Abyss, Jane Eyre, Meek’s Cutoff, Midnight in Paris, My Week With Marilyn, Pariah, Project Nim, Le Quattro Volte, Reagan, The Skin I Live In, Source Code, Successful Alcoholics, Take Shelter, The Trip, Tyrannosaur, War Horse, Warrior, Winnie The Pooh

BEST UNRELEASED MOVIES: 4:44: Last Day on Earth, Corman's World, Disabled but Able to Rock, Footnote, Goodbye First Love, Habemus Papum, The Kid with a Bike, Margaret, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Play, Sleeping Sickness

GUILTY PLEASURES: The Beaver, Crazy Stupid Love, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Muppets, Red State

OKAY, I GUESS: Captain America: The First Avenger, Carnage, Cold Weather, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Page One: Inside the New York Times, Paul, Rango, Texas Killing Fields, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Water for Elephants

OVERRATED: Cinema Verite, Drive, Hugo, The Ides of March, The Iron Lady, Margin Call, Shame, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Rampart, Too Big to Fail

WORST OF THE YEAR: Larry Crowne, We Can't Go Home Again, Chillerama, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, J. Edgar, Bad Teacher, Albert Nobbs, Super 8, Frankie and Alice, 30 Minutes or Less, Horrible Bosses, The Sunset Limited, The Conspirator, Our Idiot Brother, Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, Another Earth

NEED TO SEE: Attack the Block, Immortals, Mildred Pierce, Mysteries of Lisbon, Poetry, Senna, Submarine

FAVORITE NON-2011 FILMS I DISCOVERED THIS YEAR: On The Bowery (Lionel Rogosin, 57), "I Know Where I’m Going!" (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 45), K Street (Steven Soderburgh, 2003), Brewster McCloud (Robert Altman, 70), Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, 2007), A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson, 56), King of New York (Abel Ferrara, 90), The Constant Nymph (Edmund Goulding, 43), The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin, 2007), River of Grass (Kelly Reichardt, 94), Enter the Void (Gaspar Noe, 2009), High School (Frederick Wiseman, 68), Storytime (Terry Gilliam, 68)

Best Picture: The Tree of Life
Best Director: Terrence Malick -- The Tree of Life
Best Actor: Brad Pitt -- Moneyball and The Tree of Life
Best Actress: Kirsten Dunst - Melancholia
Best Supporting Actor: Jonah Hill -- Moneyball
Best Supporting Actress: Sareh Bayat -- A Separation
Best Original Screenplay: Asghar Farhedi -- A Separation
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zallian-- Moneyball
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki -- The Tree of Life
Best Production Design: Jack Fisk -- The Tree of Life
Best Costume Design: Rolf Borzik and Marion Cito -- Pina
Best Editing: Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber, Mark Yoshikawa -- The Tree of Life
Best Sound: Akritchalerm Kalayanamitz -- Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Best Music Score: Ludovic Bource -- The Artist
Best Special Effects: The Tree of Life
Best Thriller: The Devil's Double
Best Comedy: Bridesmaids
Best Documentary: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Best Animation: Winnie The Pooh
Best Action Film: Source Code
Best Entertainment: The Artist
Most Promising New Director:  Aleksei Fedorchenko  -- Silent Souls
Most Promising Actor: Jean Dujardin -- The Artist
Most Promising Actress: Elizabeth Olsen -- Martha Marcy May Marlene
Most Underrated Films: Contagion and General Orders No. 9
Most Neglected Films: A Little Help, Silent Souls and Tuesday After Christmas
Best Re-Discovery: Birth (Jonathan Glazer, 2004)
Most Imaginative Film: The Tree of Life

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Desert Island Choices

You and I know the game. These are my Desert Island choices. I've never definitively done this before, but Salon's Matt Zoller Seitz made me do it, so here it is, and I've taken it very seriously.

TV SEASON: DRAMA: THE SOPRANOS (Season 6, parts 1 & 2): Yes, I'm breaking Matt's rule here, I think, but I need as much of this series as I can manage. David Chase's final season of THE SOPRANOS wraps things up fittingly and yet surprisingly. By the way, the beats that manage TV and movies are resoundingly different. For me, watching TV is supremely quick-paced, and it leads me to break Matt's rules even more deeply by subsecting things down to comedy, drama AND variety. TV comedy, TV variety, and TV drama are very different things, and in saying this, I think evaluating TV versus film is a very difficult thing, so I must break the rules in order to include them all.

SO:

TV SEASON: COMEDY: ALL IN THE FAMILY (Season 8): There's never been a more moving series of 24 comedy episodes. Norman Lear's truly final and radically dark look at familial change is something I could not live without on a desert island. All these episodes---they make me feel everything...and with Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner, I still cannot believe they are any other than Archie, Edith, Gloria and Mike...They always will be so.

TV SEASON: VARIETY: SCTV (Second City Television): I'd need me some laffs on this desert isle, so I'd have to resort to the first and second seasons of NBC's run of SCTV, starring Dave Thomas, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, John Candy, Eugene Levy, and the estimable Joe Flaherty. I'd take Martin Short, Rick Moranis, and Harold Ramis where I could get them, but the core cast (and writers) would be essential. Nothing is finer, or funnier, than this crew.

SHORT: SPECIAL DELIVERY: Oscar winner, 1979 from the National Film Board of Canada. This is the funniest short ever, in my opinion, and that includes all Warner Brothers and National Film Board of Canada efforts...

MOVIES: I chose all of these because they can be viewed many different ways, many different times:

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (Stanley Kubrick, 1968): for the past and the future.

YOU CAN COUNT ON ME (Kenneth Lonergan, 2000): for familial love.

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (Fred Zinnemann, 1966): for words, religion and logic.

A LITTLE ROMANCE (George Roy Hill, 1979): for ultra-pure romance.

THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (Andrew Dominick, 2007): for fame and intrigue.

THE TREE OF LIFE (Terrence Malick, 2011): for memory and mystery (and for being the most recent movie that deserves extra viewings).

LIFE IS SWEET (Mike Leigh, 1990): for laughter and understanding.

ALL THAT JAZZ (Bob Fosse, 1979): for music and eroticism.

GOODFELLAS (Martin Scorsese, 1990): for sheer entertainment.

THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (John Huston, 1948): for the wisdom of the past.

On any given day, I might have chosen different works. But, on this one, I must choose these, because I'm positive I could watch them over and over again. Seriously, I think I could tune in to some weird cable channel that showed each of these pieces 24 hours a day and, stranded on this mythic desert island, I think I'd be fine. Insanity would, of course, eventually ensue. But I think this mix would stave that off for a good while.

PS: Top 10 Also-Rans:

Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1983)
Chilly Scenes of Winter (Joan Micklin Silver, 1979)
It's A Gift (Norman Z. Mcleod, 1934)
There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)
Bigger Than Life (Nicholas Ray, 1956)
The Music Man (Morton De Costa, 1962)
Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols, 1966)
Breaking the Waves (Lars Von Trier, 1996)