Tag Archives: Film

The 82nd Academy Awards- Thoughts and Predictions

Here are my thoughts on who should win what (a whole 6 days before the big night). I have highlighted my pics with  pictures. The text predicts who will probably win despite my picks.


Should win: Instead of Abracadabra

The Door by Juanita Wilson and James Flynn

Its about Chernobyl. Like Indiana Jones 4: No Nazis so how good can it be? It really is too intense and too much for a short piece. It’s well executed and appropriately heavily emotional, but for me it’s like a million other this should have been a feature pieces.

Kavi by Gregg Helvey

It’s about a boy and his parents who work as slave labor in India. Sorry folks Slumdog Millionaire was last year. Probably no singing at the end either. It follows the formula of find a kid, put em in danger, and then somehow that’s more compelling for judges and audiences. Doesn’t work on me. Maybe because I had a rotten childhood, so you really have to have Mo’Nique throw a television at a kid to make it feel authentic to me. Pass.

The New Tenants by Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson

Uhh… its a horror movie about 2 guys in an apartment. I like 80s horror where you get to see some naked bimbo and then she gets killed for being a tramp. I don’t see a Hard 10 in the cast on imdb. I don’t even see an ugly chick in the cast. It has star appeal. It has talent. It is a compelling story. I found myself unaffected emotionally. It’s strange because usually the experience in a theatre is amplified, but my pick was much better even though I first saw it on a computer screen.

Miracle Fish by Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey

I saw this at BIFF. It was… ahhh hate to say it was awful. I’ve seen better shorts at my film school and I go to a shitty film school. Luke (the producer) even said they slapped the Miracle Fish title on at the last minute and that shows due to it’s relative importance in the story. It’s meant to be used as a hook, but really it could have been a magic eight-ball or any other object. It is very predictable and slow. It has SOME nice cinematography, but any time they move the camera they border on the jutter limit and it looks like video. All in all it was very boring fair. Maybe we live too close to Columbine or something.

Instead of Abracadabra by Patrik Eklund and Mathias Fjellstrom

This is the northern european Napolean Dynamite meets Pixar’s Presto. It is very very good. It has great multi layer hooks. It has a meta-plot. It has great character. Nothing is lost in translation. The dark humor is laugh out loud humor. I hope beyond hope the penchant for dismissing comedy that critics and the Academy voters doesn’t manifest in this category. Comedies are an incredible art form that are sorely under-appreciated at the Oscars. This is one short that deserves the statue.

Sound Editing

Star TrekWho should win: Star Trek. Just listening to JJ’s commentary on the Blu-ray they really did try to push the envelope and incorporate new ideas to a franchise who’s sounds are iconic and part of our everyday culture. Who doesn’t know what the chirp of a communicator sounds like, or when the transporter powers up. They took something legendary to a new level in an original way with the use of dead space. Maybe that’s the mix, maybe its the edit. But I’d grant the honor to Star Trek.

Who will win? It will likely be Avatar because it is such an achievement in film. Did the sound team do anything more than they were expected to? I was in fact lost in the movie the first couple of times I saw it. It will likely win.

Sound Mixing

Wait a sec… Transformer’s 2? No.

My pick is still Star Trek… fuck off.

Again probably Avatar.

Visual Effects

I don’t think it’s any secret that the greatest achievement in visual effects comes in the form of Avatar. District 9 may have just as much bang for its buck/time. Star Trek is there just to round out the ballot, because having a ballot with just Avatar on it would cause people to bitch, even if its really this obvious.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Who’s gonna win? Up In The Air. Hollywood has a hard on the size of Texas for Jason Reitman. Don’t get me wrong- he’s made a few movies. But then again so did John Hughes. I think the majority of John Hughes’ movies were way better than Up In The Air. The script seemed lost to me, particularly with the Frequent Flier miles scene. It really felt clunky to me. It’s a minority opinion, and I find it’s not very popular to boot.

Who should win? I would like to see District 9 take something home. That movie made me feel something. It’s was mostly uncomfortable anxiety, but that was the point. Precious made me feel violated. UITA made me feel like I was missing something everyone else got.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

As mentioned in my previous post- Tarantino is well liked for his writing. But the golden rule for me is that even if you are good enough to do it against my will- you wont get my endorsement if you pull me out of the story. Period. I think he has an actual shot. It would be better if had been snubbed for Pulp Fiction, but this entry into his filmography is better than his usual fair.

A Serious Man will get the writers all excited, but like the movie- no one else.

Hurt Locker will probably take this one because of the gotta love the little scrappy movie that is taking on Avatar.

Who should win: Up truly deserves this nod. They took chances, they make you cry every time you watch it. Yes even manly men, on a horse. Again a minority opinion since Hurt Locker looks like a lock.

Short Film (Animated)

Animated greatness died with Mel Blanc. Uh… Wallace and Gromit are well beloved but I hear good things about the Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty. Didn’t get to see anything but the Wallace and Gromit.

Music (Original Song)

“The Weary Kind” in Crazy Heart. I wasn’t a fan of The Princess and the Frog this year… which is sad because I loved the Little Mermaid.

Music (Original Score)

*throws dart* Avatar… I like James Horner.

Make Up

Many critics are saying Star Trek. I have to disagree, due to a couple of small details. The crustacean sidekick of Scotty was really their best opportunity to show their stuff and he looked very foam latex based. Secondly, the signature eye brow raise of Spock, made it look like his skin was attached to a line underneath a wig.

I’ll give it to Young Victoria because I am a fan of the period. It’s a tragedy that District 9 isn’t in this category.

Foreign Language Film

What? No cute asian filmmaker for the best speech ever? The White Ribbon. It stays with you. I’m now becoming a huge fan of German Cinema because of the recent Oscar nominees.

Documentary Short

I’m gonna play some 3OH3 and Katy Perry if we don’t move a long soon. Nice legs, Daisy Dukes, Makes a man go *whistle*.

Shouldn’t be a category, unless my friend gets nominated next year.

Documentary Feature

I’ve actually caught a couple of these movies this year. Food, Inc. took a VERY smart tactic with their material. They didn’t beat you over the head with it. They just presented their material cleanly. They had great graphics and I was really pleased with the experience. It is having an effect on how my wife and I are choosing our food sources in a positive way. We’ve even gone so far as to try to see one of the farmers featured in the documentary speak live in our state.

It is likely that The Cove will take the prize. They did a wonderful job of promoting the film. I got very excited to see it, and when I finally sat down and watched it, the movie was mostly about the final scene. There wasn’t enough of a payoff for the amount of hype. In the end, both The Cove and Food, Inc. have been effective. I like Food, Inc as a re-watchable informative piece, and The Cove shut down that practice in that particular town in Japan.

Best Actor

Slam dunk and I love it. Jeff Bridges. I’ve grown up on him. King Kong! Tron! Fabulous Baker Boys! The Fisher King! The Vanishing! all that improv on Iron Man.

Best Supporting Actor

Christoph Waltz. German television actor. He’s superb. Lovely Bones wasn’t a stretch for Tucci, Plummer’s performance was lost in obscurity. Harrelson has been working is tuckus off as of late, and is deserving of the nod. Waltz carries his movie, and gave an iconic performance.

Actress in a Supporting Role

I liked Vera Farmiga, there wasn’t much in UITA that I found award worthy but she pulled it off in the sea of contradictions that make up that movie.

I thought Maggie Gyllenhaal a little overwhelmed in Crazy Heart. She won me over with her role in Batman, so here’s to next year.

Anna Kendrick, lets just put it this way- she might have hit all the marks for some critics, but for me it was all to safe and without risk. I liked her better in Twilight. Yeah I said it.

Who has to win- Mo’Nique. Not because she’s a comedic actress and went for the ‘monster’ role. It’s because she breathed not only life, but heart into an evil character. She played an antagonist on the level of Anthony Hopkin’s award winning Hannibal Lector.

Zoe Saldana should have been nominated for Star Trek. Shame on you all.

Best Animated Feature Film

Up is likely to win this and rightfully so. It makes me cry every time I watch it. Yeah I said it, but I’m on a horse backwards now.

Secret of Kells is really deserving of this honor as well. Perhaps its an honor to be nominated, but Pixar will be here again and again. Tomm Moore may or may not even though he earned it just as well.


Hurt Locker vs Avatar. I vote Avatar.

Art Direction

Hurt Locker vs Avatar. I vote Avatar.

Costume Design

*throws dart* Coco Before Chanel


Slam dunk- Kathryn Bigelow for Hurt Locker. Even James (Cameron) wants it this way. Like Kathryn herself, I think her gender should be a non-issue.

Precious was good, it was an incredible piece, just not quite in the same league. I think the honor is in the nomination.

Quentin, well I thought it was good, just not Pulp Fiction good, and that’s gotta be hard having your greatest achievement behind you.

It’s a shame Neil Blomkamp wasn’t nominated. Truly is.

Actress In A Leading Role

First Zoe Saldana should have been nominated for Neytiri in Avatar. Double shame on you all. Anyway-

I loved Julie and Julia. I was so very surprised by it. I’ve said before that if you have to put a part of the story that almost distracts from the main narrative, it’s best to put Meryl up there because she is always phenomenal.

This year I think and in fact hope it goes to Sandra Bullock. I wanted to see The Blind Side the second the trailer ended. It was a guilty pleasure sort of desire. But when I sat down and there was the girl I fell in love with from Love Potion #9. Then… she, the movie star, faded away and was replaced by this spitfire of a woman that reminded me off all the wonderful people I met when I lived in the south. It barely registered emotionally that the actual real life footage from The NFL Draft was a different person than the one who played her through the entire movie.

Best Picture

I think it’s a complete travesty that The Hangover didn’t get the nod. It deserved a nomination more than several pieces that were nominated.

Who’s going to win: Hurt Locker.

Avatar made me sit in my seat and feel truly humbled. I haven’t experienced awe like that since the original run of Star Wars. Its commercial and technological success is second to NONE. In fact I’d go so far as to say it’s the best movie of the last three decades. But now the country wants an upset. They want the little guy (little girl just sounds too naughty) to win one.

Tarantino Baby!

I’m not sure who the hot filmmaker that every fan boy wants to emulate is today, but a couple of years ago it was QT. Guy Ritchie, Donnie Darko you know the drill.

We're too cool for film school.

You have a bunch of obnoxious proto-hipsters who love these movies, quote these movies, dress like they’re in Reservoir Dogs. It was always a script with two twenty-something’s in black suits with black ties and guns pointed at each other quipping not very witty crap and saying “fuck” a lot for no better reason than to be maverick filmmakers. Between that and all the film school clichés it can be excruciating to try to try discover your own voice. For my own sanity, I hold his work and his public persona at arms length. I’m always on the look out for a way to disarm a QT fan boy.

Reitman & Cody

The current darling of all aspiring filmmakers, and evidently Hollywood at large is Jason Reitman.

I like his movies, but it just appears as though he’s being lauded as the second coming of Orson Welles or something.  I was listening to Elvis Mitchell’s The Treatment and Jason was discussing being a director, and he is as humble as can be. One of the things he said that I often hear in my editing classes is what makes a director (or editor) good is if what they are doing does not get in front of the story. If the cuts of the movie are super cool, you are paying attention to the edit not the story. It takes you out of it. Jason echoed this, directing is a series of binary decisions, and if they put the director in front of the story the audience is taken out of it. Good advice from multiple sources.

I happened to find QT’s Treatment episode and I gave it a listen. That’s when it occurred to me. Tarantino isn’t a director at heart. He’s first and foremost a writer. He’s a PhD dissertation of film genre and technique. That guy is SUH-mart. But he’s not a director that gets in the way of the story he’s telling. See it clicked in when I remembered the episode of Alias where he played a spy that took over Sydney’s (Jennifer Garner’s) base. He was supposed to be this hyper-cool spy in the vein of Tarantino’s Madonna-Virgin speech. Problem was he didn’t write it, and he’s not a great actor. So the episode flubbed as far as I was concerned.


That’s when I realized that the parts of Tarantino’s movies where I feel like he’s getting the way of the story isn’t from his directing- it’s what he’s writing.

Specifically in Inglorious Bastards when Hans Landa is interviewing the French farmer, and he pulls this deus-ex-machina with the character’s language to bring the dialogue from subtitled French to English… it bugged the crap out of me. He literally reached out of the movie screen, tapped my chin, bopped me on the nose for looking down and then smiled smugly at how clever he was. He makes up for it by being a dialogue writer who is insanely creative and original. But the multitude of choices he made as a director… none of those distracted me from the story.

Yesterday I heard someone say that they wouldn’t watch the World of Warcraft Movie unless they got a good director like Quentin Tarantino to direct it. Well I realized that QT has gone up a couple of notches in my book but I’m not sure the world is ready for an Elven Mr. Pink, or a Dwarven Mr. White.

Do not get in the way of the story. Directing is a series of decisions that add up into the story you are telling. If you find yourself concentrating on putting your mark on the piece- you are not doing it right. You probably chose the piece for the wrong reason. It is a creatively fatal mistake.