Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2012 Oscars

2012 Oscars: Sunday, Feb 26th on ABC - Host Billy Crystal returns once again.

Not an overly exciting year, but a few good ones out there.

Biggest snubs in my opinion: Take Shelter (one of my favorites of the year for both picture and Michael Shannon as actor) and Michael Fassbender getting no acting nod for Shame. Gary Oldman as best actor for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is awesome, but the movie got no other nods, so unlikely for him to win.

I'll probably update closer to the show with thoughts on who I think will win, but for now just some brief notes made throughout:



Best actress in a supporting role

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist - she was great, but shouldn't win here
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids - An obvious attempt to appeal to a wider audience
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs - Haven't seen it
Octavia Spencer, The Help - Even splitting the vote with Chastain I think she gets it. I guess with this list I give it to her as well, though I think Chastain should have been nominated for Tree of Life.

Best actor in a supporting role

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn - Haven't seen it
Jonah Hill, Moneyball - no chance, happy to be nominated I'm sure
Nick Nolte, Warrior - Haven't seen it, but I don't think he gets it
Christopher Plummer, Beginners - Haven't seen it, but I think it is his based on previous wins
Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Haven't seen it

Best actress in a leading role Haven't seen 3 of these so can't really pick my favorite

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 actor in a leading role

Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist He carried this film and it looks like it will get lots of love from the Academy
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Surprising - I love it, but didn't expect it, and don't think he can win
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Best director

Michel Hazavanicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo - I like him to win and I would be happy if he did.
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life - Happy to see it, but I'm not sure it can win against this year's nominees

Best original Screenplay

The Artist
Margin Call
Midnight in Paris I didn't see A Separation but it is going to win Foreign film, so I think Woody gets this one, and I just happened to love the film.
A Separation

Best adapted screenplay

The Descendants
Ides of March
Moneyball - Just a gut feeling
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Best foreign language film Can't really comment, just on what I have heard A Separation will win easily

In Darkness
Monsieur Lazhar
A Separation

Best animated film - I have absolutely no idea

A Cat in Paris
Chico And Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots

Best picture Not a great year in my opinion but some really good ones and some laughable ones.

War Horse - Lol at a Best picture nomination. If this wins it will be worse than Shakespeare in Love or Crash.
The Artist - Maybe the favorite?
Moneyball - Not gonna do it
The Descendants - Strong contender
The Tree of Life - I don't think it can win here
Midnight in Paris - Loved it, but not gonna take it
The Help - Outside dark horse, but not for me
Hugo - One of 3 I think has a chance
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - LOL... All I have heard is how shitty this.. haven't seen it though

Art direction

The Artist - Probably this or Hugo
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Midnight in Paris
War Horse


The Artist
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Tree of Life
War Horse - Possibly the correct one for this, though I prefer Tree of Life

Costume design I don't know enough here so I'm guessing

The Artist
Jane Eyre

Documentary feature - Didn't see enough so I'm guessing

Hell and Back Again
If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Documentary short subject Can't even guess

The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
God is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Saving Face
The Tsumani and the Cherry Blossom

Film editing

The Artist - I'm guessing
The Descendants
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Sound editing

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Sound mixing

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - I hope
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Visual effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes - My guess
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Make up Can't even guess

Albert Nobbs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
The Iron Lady

Music (original score) I'm not sure on this one

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
The Artist
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
War Horse

Music (original song)

The Muppets

Short film (animated) Can't even guess

Dimanche / Sunday
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life

Short film (live action) Can't even guess

The Shore
Time Freak
Tuba Atlantic

Monday, January 16, 2012

Just 12 really terrible movies

I'm not qualified to make a definitive 'worst of' list for films, because I generally avoid seeing them.

There is no point to this post, just like there is no point to the movies I am about to mention.  There are some movies that are just plain terrible because they have a horrible director, actors, script, vision or budget, but that isn't necessarily what I am talking about here.  What really makes a movie truly terrible goes beyond all that criteria and crosses a line that is difficult to define.  We will never all agree on what is good and what is bad, but these are all terrible wastes of space in the history of mankind.

In my life I consider myself fortunate to have been selective in the movies I choose to watch, because I tend to see so many I do my best to avoid those that appear to have that certain horrible quality to them.  With that said, some fall through the cracks and I suffer the consequences. Just a note because I have probably failed to see so so so many terrible ones, I can only go off what I know.

I'm going to break my own self-imposed rule that no truly terrible film can include hot chicks with or without clothes, a belief I have long held onto with a vice grip because I have been delusional and I am a straight male.  Yes they make the movie slightly less repulsive to watch, but even their lovely skin cannot stop the cringe inducing feelings that wash over you upon viewing.

Showgirls (1995)

The girl from Saved By The Bell who was 'so excited!...so excited!..so...scared!' after popping those nasty caffeine pills in order to study decided to not only break free of her good girl teen typecast but to break free of all that is holy, including her clothes and dignity.  Containing some of the absolute worst dialogue ever scripted, this movie about a mysterious young woman who comes to Las Vegas and works a pole like none other can only be considered one of the laughably worst movies ever made, even after seeing about 50 times, which I have.

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

Any Michael Bay film is sure to be horrific, but this one trumps them all.  With a reported budget of $200,000,000 the film has grossed over $800,000,000 worldwide, and all I can say is, WHAT THE FUCK?  Bay has given us his best use of the 'Screw you' to everyone with this piece of trash sequel to an already bad movie.  Not only does Megan Fox have absolutely zero reason to be in the film, other than running in white pants in slow motion (thank you Michael Bay, for that) but there are horrific scenes of robot like things smashing metal together with neck-hair raising sounds that make it all but impossible to actually watch anything that is happening.  Even a teenage boy should realize quickly that this is a giant load of crap.  Thankfully for Bay, he makes tons of cash off these things, so even though his soul will rot in hell, he will have a fun time getting there.

The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

The original film was unique in many ways, and though I am not a big fan of it in general, I appreciate it for what it was and understand the appeal.  The sequels, and especially this one, are just so laughably bad that I actually lack the command of language to describe why.  If you've never seen this one, forget it exists, for how a team of people could screw up so badly for so much money is beyond me.

Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)

Hey! They're on a boat! A slow, slow boat.  Not a bus.  Way to phone it in for a paycheck everyone involved in the making of this thing, whatever you want to call it.

Wild Wild West (1999)

I can't say for certain if this deserves to be in the worst of ever list, because I couldn't stand to watch any more of it than I did, which may have only been about 1/3 of the film.  Do yourself a favor and forget I ever mentioned it.  It doesn't exist.

Nothing But Trouble (1991)

I remember seeing this movie with a star studded cast the year it was released, when I was 13 years old, and I have never seen it again, but that fact that Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd, Demi Moore and John Candy could make a movie that has left a lifelong stain in my memory is a testament to just how awful a movie this must have been, since I have blocked out all memory of it.

Caddyshack 2 (1988)

Never in all the history of all of cinema has a sequel gone so wrong.  I don't even know where to begin with this one, but 8 years after one of the greatest comedy films ever made, we were given Jackie Mason as Jack Hartounian, a loud mouth outsider trying to fit into a country club setting.  Every single thing that made the original film so wonderful is gone and turned into nothing short of eye-stabbing attempts at typical late 80s comedy.  I want to hit myself in the nuts with an 8 iron just thinking about this one.

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999)

There was never a doubt in my mind that these 3 'prequels' by George 'fuck you fans' Lucas were going to suck.  I knew it from the first leaked shots and the first trailers.  And then we get Jar Jar Binks and Jake Lloyd.  Now there is a case to be made that the second one, Attack of the Clones or whatever, is the worst of the 3, but this is the one that started it all, so I think it sucks the worst.  I have absolutely nothing positive to say about anything to do with anything to do with this entire film.  All the actors, even the 'good ones', sucked.  The dialogue is laughable at best.  The CGI is so lame it made me want to puke.  The great chase scenes?  I mean, how can anyone who has seen the original trilogy think anything about these films is even remotely watchable is beyond me.  This was George Lucas making money, period.  He says he always had a vision for these, always wanted to complete them as 6 or 9 parts.  When he finally had a chance to complete his masterpiece what does he do with it? He bends us all over and goes to work.  Fuck you Lucas and your Me Sir Jar Jar Binks!

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Somehow somebody convinced Harrison Ford to follow up his previous 3 decent films (I mean, Raiders of the Lost Ark was awesome and the other two were watchable) with this tremendous piece of crap.  Not only is the plot beyond absurd, but the editing is choppy and any attempt at special effects is lol-tastic.  Shia Labeouf is simply a terrible actor, and this film highlights everything that is wrong with him, in every way possible.  Nice paychecks for everyone I assume, but I can't believe Spielberg attached his name as a director to this project.

2012 (2009)

I generally like John Cusack, but this action movie about the impending doom of the world is so absurdly bad that I found myself dreaming about Better Off Dead during the middle of it.  You know, when times were good for John.  The greatest part of this movie is when the step dad sacrifices himself to not only save the world in general, but allowing John to get back with his family, in a nice and convenient wrap up to a totally lame and long ass movie.

Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987)

I can't do any better than this write up I found online:

Talk about a weird one This feels like a movie from the '70s, but it came out in 1987. Chuck is a little kid living in Montana. He tours a nuclear silo one day, and decides that he's not going to pitch for his Little League team until nuclear weapons are disarmed.
He's joined by Boston Celtics star "Amazing Grace" Smith (NBA player Alex English), and several other professional athletes. 
For having such heavyweights as Gregory Peck and Jamie Lee Curtis in it, Chuck misses the mark in a big way. Even English looks bored during the basketball scenes. 
The original film is a classic, a simply amazing achievement in film.  The follow up is good, and it leaves us with satisfaction.  The 3rd film is funny and has Mr T.  The 4th film blows pretty much, but we get a nice montage of training in the Russian woods.  Even the 6th Rocky film is watchable.  But Rocky V? With Tommy Morrison as Tommy 'Machine' Gunn?  This is up there with Caddyshack 2 as the worst sports themed sequel of all time, and I'm only saying it isn't quite as bad because of the hilarious portrayal of promoter George 'Washington' Duke, played by Richard Grant.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Six! Quick 2011 Movie Reviews (MI6;Tinker;WarHorse;Tattoo;Artist;Shelter)

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)

Pretty much the best popcorn adventure movie I saw all year, though I don't see many of them, but I did see a few including the awful Pirates 4 and Captain America, so at least I have something off which to base my opinions.  Tom Cruise is good here as the lead and his supporting cast gets the job done.  Obviously you have to suspend reality to watch this type of movie, but my major complaint comes from the absurdly over-the-top sequences when people get hit int he head multiple times by concrete and metal and seemingly never have so much as a headache.  I am willing to enjoy an action movie for what it is, but when a guy drops 40 feet off a moving car parking machine and slams into a substance that looks harder than diamond and gets up and keeps fighting, it is slightly off putting.

**** out of 5

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

*Note: I have a full length review of this film available if you are interested (email me at mattsci@hotmail.com if you'd like me to send it to you, otherwise it will be posted in full at a later date on a different website)

Gary Oldman is simply awesome as an aging MI6 agent forced out of his position only to be called back, unofficially a year later to help dig up info about a potential mole at the top of The Circus working for the Russians.  A bit difficult to follow at times but beautifully shot and one not to be missed.

**** and 1/2 out of 5

War Horse (2011)

I suppose if you are a girl of any age or a sentimentally prone to crying guy you'll enjoy this over the top Spielberg production.  I contend this film was shot specifically to pull at your heart strings and see if you will fall in love with the story of a boy and his horse, as preposterous as the story can be and as long winded and plot-lessly defined as it is... Try not to fall asleep because the cinematography is actually amazing!

** out of 5

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

*Note: I have a full length review of this film available if you are interested (email me at mattsci@hotmail.com if you'd like me to send it to you, otherwise it will be posted in full at a later date on a different website)

David Fincher remakes a Swedish film from 2 years ago based on a series of popular novels and doesn't quite make as good a production of it as the original, but he comes close.  A trippy opening sequence is worth the price of admission as Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross give us a very cool score throughout.  Daniel Craig doesn't quite work for me as Michael Blomkvist and Roony Mara is no Noomi Rapace from the original, but Fincher is a gifted director and he is able to make this a solid experience.

**** out of 5

The Artist (2011)

How many silent films have you seen? I suggest you make this your first, then.  It takes about 15 minutes to adjust your brain but once you fall in line you'll find a truly wonderful picture which will certainly win awards this year, even though it is obvious Oscar bait, and that's ok, because the performances in here are far and away top notch.  You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll do it all while trying to be silent so as not to disturb those around you.

***** out of 5

Take Shelter (2011)

*Note - I intend to do a long review of this film in the near future.  Email me at mattsci@hotmail.com if you are interested in receiving the final piece.

Michael Shannon is amazing.  He really is one of the best actors of our generation and I love that he takes on so many smaller projects.  Take Shelter is the story of a man slipping into madness, but trying to keep it together and keep his family together.  In small town mid-America the impending doom of storms haunts this man, whether real or imagined, and in building out a storm shelter in the back yard he pushes his career and his family to the brink of insanity.  A truly remarkable performance in a very realistic setting, this is one of the very best films of the year.

***** out of 5

Monday, January 9, 2012

My 20 favorite films of 2011 (the lazy version)

This would be my 20 best of list for 2011, by release date – I think I saw (45) 2011 releases either in theater or on netflix/redbox – and since I tend to avoid most films I know wouldn’t interest me I’d say that really liking about 40% of what I see is a decent percentage.  I may update this or send out a more detailed version, but I am already behind on writing up 4 films so figured I'd send this out - if you see any of these on netflix/redbox do not hesitate:

Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Jane Eyre
Midnight In Paris
The Tree of Life
Another Earth
Harry Potter
The Guard
The Debt
The Descendants
Margin Call
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Take Shelter
Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (I prefer the original, but it was good)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Artist