Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Globes Surprise..




Prediction: Brokeback, Crash, Goodnight, King Kong, Munich
Score: 2/5
Reaction: Excellent. Just excellent. Two of this year's great films, Violence and Gardener are back in the Oscar mix. I think that realistically, Violence is a little too heavy for Oscar, but it does give the film a great chance at multiple nominations. Brokeback is the obvious frontrunner at this stage, with Goodnight and Good Luck a way behind. Match Point did well here, and will have a chance to build up some buzz before the ballots are posted back.



Prediction: Allen, Huffman, Paltrow, Theron, Watts
Score: 3/5
Reaction: The snub for Allen means she is out of this race. A real shame. But that does open the door for the fifth nominee slot. Theron is on the brink of it but the globes have kept faith with Ziyi, even though they clearly didn't like the film. Maria Bello's nomination for lead is not all that strange, given their history. We'll probably find that SAG will view her as supporting, though I could be wrong. Huffman is the massive frontrunner, with two nominations this year.



Prediction: Bana, Hoffman, Hopkins, Ledger, Strathairn
Score: 3/5
Reaction: Well, the last minute suggestion that Howard would go drama was correct, though I didn't predict him there. If he had gone comedy/musical, he probably would have had a shout at winning, but as it stands its a massive Hoffman Versus Ledger contest. Winner takes all most probably. There's renewed hope for Crowe but he's really acting as a filler nominee. There wasn't a great deal of choice here, though you would think that either Mortensen or Fiennes would have made it considering how their films were adored here.



Prediction: The Family Stone, Mrs Henderson Presents, Pride and Prejudice, The Producers, The Squid and the Whale, Walk The Line
Score: 4/5
Reaction: The Producers has done surprisingly well -- better than Phantom did last year. The category itself was fairly straightforward, though a snub for The Family Stone isn't the end of the world as you'll see further down. Walk The Line is the runaway favourite at this stage.



Prediction: Aniston, Dench, Knightley, Parker, Witherspoon
Score: 4/5
Reaction: Now this is the category! Reese will of course go into this as a pretty solid favourite, but the quality of the line-up is very decent, and Dench and Knightley will probably both still have a chance of winning by the time we get to January. It's a classy five anyway. A nod for Laura Linney also helps her Oscar chances, though to nominate a fourth "comedy" performance is perhaps a little too excessive. Still, there's hope.



Prediction: Carrell, Daniels, Howard, Lane, Phoenix
Score: 3.5/5
Reaction: I'm giving myself a half-point since Howard was nominated, though admittedly not in this category (see above). Carrell and The 40 year-old Virgin was surprisingly left out this year, despite having many ingredients the Globes like. Nominations for Brosnan, whose film is doing very well, and Depp, who can't get away from the Globes it seems, are relative shocks. A nomination for Murphy is nice to see. Lane and Daniels were pretty solid bets. Phoenix is leading but his lack of precursor punch may allow for Daniels, or even Depp (given his outstanding popularity) to emerge victorious.



Prediction: Adams, Bello, Keaton, Johansson, McAdams, Williams
Score: 2.5/5
Reaction: Again, Bello is given lead, so I get a half point :P . A nomination for McDormand is quite a surprise, since the category is very strong this year. MaClaine probably won't last past this stage. Williams and Johansson were pretty solid. Rachel Weisz's nomination could actually turn into a win, if you consider what happened when the Globes got into Closer last year. Just a hint.



Prediction: Clooney, Dillon, Giamatti, Hoskins, Hurt
Score: 4/5
Reaction: Oh I did well here. Hoskins could have gone lead but probably went supporting as a result of Dench totally overshadowing him. Dillon, Giamatti and particularly Clooney will fight it out for the win. A nomination for Ferrell doesn't surprise me actually, given his high-profile celebrity these days. Of course the oscars is very different, this is where his journey ends this year. Again, The Producers has done well though.



Prediction: Allen, Clooney, Frears, Lee, Spielberg
Score: 4/5
Reaction: I'm very disappointed that for all of the Violence love this week, David Cronenberg did not make this five. It's by far the best direction I've seen this year. Mereilles was also good though, and I'm happy for him. Also for Allen, whose film has suddenly emerged as a big contender, Jackson, whose film looks as if it will be too big to be deemed suitable enough. Spielberg's nomination is bittersweet, seen as the film was snubbed. It also means Munich's only major nomination was in a six-person category. Not very encouraging.



Prediction: Brokeback, Capote, The Family Stone, King Kong, The Squid and the Whale
Score: 1/5
Reaction: The oddest category, and that's saying something. I expected Brokeback and maybe Crash but the absence of the two big screenplay winners this week, Noah's Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale, and Dan Futterman's script for Capote is a big shock. I don't expect they'll be snubbed altogether though. A nomination for Match Point means it's one of the most favoured films at the Globes and has now officially enter this year's race.






“A LOVE THAT WILL NEVER GROW OLD” –- BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN Music by: Gustavo SantaolallaLyrics by: Bernie Taupin
“CHRISTMAS IN LOVE” — CHRISTMAS IN LOVE Music by: Tony RenisLyrics by: Marva Jan Marrow “THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A SHOW ON BROADWAY” — THE PRODUCERS Music & Lyrics by: Mel Brooks “TRAVELIN’ THRU” — TRANSAMERICA Music & Lyrics by: Dolly Parton

Thats it! I'll be updating my Oscar predictions this weekend as a result of fierce precursor action this week. Til Then!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Tis The Season To Be Jolly

I love December. Not only because it means christmas but because it also means it's the beginning of Awards Season. With the NBR delayed because of balloting problems, the responsibility of initiating the first critical prizes of the year lies with the Los Angeles Film Critics Assocation. The LAFCA are always viewed as one of the major critics associations, despite recently having a patchy record at matching AMPAS. Still, an indication is an indication and aren't we glad of that early pointer? Here are the winners:

Picture: Brokeback Mountain (Runner Up - A History Of Violence)
Director: Ang Lee (Runner Up - David Cronenberg)
Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman (Surprise Surprise) - (Runner Up - Heath Ledger)
Actress: Vera Farmiga - Down To The Bone (who? interesting.) - (Runner Up - Judi Dench :) )
Supporting Actor: William Hurt (Runner Up - Frank Langella)
Supporting Actress: Catherine Keener (Runner Up - Amy Adams)
Screenplay: Dan Futterman, Capote (Runner Up - Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale)
Cinematography: Robert Elswit, Good Night, and Good Luck (Runner Up - 2046)
Production Design: 2046 (Runner Up - Good Night, and Good Luck)
Music: Joe Hisaishi, Howl's Moving Castle
New Generation Award: Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow
Documentary: Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man (Runner Up - Alex Gibney's Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room)
Animated Feature: Wallce + Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Foreign Film: Michael Haneke's Cache (Runner Up - 2046).

Reaction: Ok, so they went with the critical darlings thus far. It's clear that they LOVED Brokeback, two wins and one runner-up - that's probably a lock for a Best Pic nod. They LOVED A History Of Violence, giving it one win and two runners up. That cements it as a decent contender. They LOVED Capote, giving it three major wins, which gives slight hope for a pic nod, but mainly puts Hoffman as a lock and Keener as a probable, as well as a screenplay lock of course. The inclusion of Vera Farmiga in Down To The Bone (don't worry I haven't heard of her or the film either) is very very interesting, if only because we get another contender in this race. I still believe that a nomination for Farmiga is unlikely, especially as she is a total unknown and the film has only been released in New York and LA thus far. It all depends on whether she gets the hype.

Aside from the LAFCA, the big oscar hints will be given tomorrow at Boston, and especially at the announcement of the Golden Globe Nominations on Tuesday morning (1pm UK Time - live on E! (Sky Digital)). In the spirit of competition and anticipation, I will now attempt to predict the major categories. Please don't laugh at me afterwards when I get it completely wrong:

Brokeback Mountain
Goodnight, and Good Luck
King Kong

BEST PICTURE (Musical/Comedy)
The Family Stone
Mrs. Henderson Presents
Pride and Prejudice
The Producers
Walk The Line

Woody Allen (Match Point)
George Clooney (Goodnight, and Good Luck)
Stephen Frears (Mrs Henderson Presents)
Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain)
Steven Spielberg (Munich)


Eric Bana (Munich)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote)
Anthony Hopkins (The World's Fastest Indian)
Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain)
David Strathairn (Goodnight, and Good Luck)

BEST ACTOR (Musical/Comedy)

Steve Carrell (40 year-old Virgin)
Jeff Daniels (The Squid and the Whale)
Terrence Howard (Hustle and Flow)
Nathan Lane (The Producers)
Joaquin Phoenix (Walk The Line)


Joan Allen (The Upside Of Anger)
Felicity Huffman (Transamerica) Note: I'm not sure at all about whether this will be comedy/drama.
Gwyneth Paltrow (Proof)
Charlize Theron (North Country)
Naomi Watts (King Kong)


Jennifer Aniston (Rumor Has It)
Judi Dench (Mrs Henderson Presents)
Keira Knightley (Pride and Prejudice)
Sarah Jessica Parker (The Family Stone)
Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line)


George Clooney (Syriana)
Matt Dillon (Crash)
Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man)
Bob Hoskins (Mrs Henderson Presents)
William Hurt (A History Of Violence)


Amy Adams (Junebug)
Maria Bello (A History Of Violence)
Scarlett Johansson (Match Point)
Diane Keaton (The Family Stone)
Rachel McAdams (The Family Stone)
Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain)


Brokeback Mountain (Larry McMurtry)
Capote (Dan Futterman)
The Family Stone (Thomas Bezucha)
King Kong (Phillipa Boyens, Peter Jackson)
The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach)

Will be here to announce Boston tomorrow and try and update predictions accordingly. Bye.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Race Officially Starts Here!

So the Oscar race is finally getting into second gear when the NBR is announced tomorrow afternoon. After all, NBR have even more power this year to resurrect films and performers or alternatively, to shatter them. With the picture race totally wide open, and the actress category devoid of many award-worthy performances, it's as unpredictable as ever. Pictures that will have their fate determined by NBR:

  • Cinderella Man - One of the year's early successes faded into the background with little impact overall. But if there's anything you can be sure of, it's that the picture perfectly fits the bill of an Oscar nominee. That's a long shot. But NBR could resurrect the films chances at multiple nominations, either by placing the film in its Top 10, or by giving Howard and/or Giamatti a prize.

  • Crash - Another of the year's early successes, but one which has a number of possible oscar opportunities, and will almost certaintly win the ensemble prize. Crash could be a prominent feature though, should they choose to place the film in the top 10, or give awards to Haggis or Dillon.

  • Pride and Prejudice - The question is whether NBR are head over heels for period costume dramas. Past NBR picture prizes have gone to Quills and last year to Finding Neverland, which would suggest so. It's also been released at a perfect time for this. When all is said and done though, it is a remake, and there are lots of alternatives to choose from.

  • Memoirs Of A Geisha - It's crunch time for Memoirs. Could top the list and could be left out altogether. I think an NBR snub would spell the end. However, wins for Gong Li and Rob Marshall are possible. It could also win screenplay.

Read my NBR Predictions here . Feedback tomorrow night. I can't wait!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Back With Intent

Bonjour! Salut! Guten Tag!

I'm back from a short spell out, having seen many more movies and pondered over many more Oscar hopefuls. The November Oscar predictions are available for all to see now over at The Film Lair

I Will be aiming to achieve some kind of parity, and so are starting here with a couple of blog reviews, which will shortly be followed by a couple of full reviews available tonight.

So here we go. Let's begin with Oscar hopeful Crash, the debut directorial effort from Paul Haggis, the writer of last year's oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby (ugh.. still hate to think about that). The story is about racial issues in Los Angeles and follows a hefty multi-cultural ensemble, featuring the likes of Matt Dillon, Don Cheadle, and Sandra Bullock as they cross paths with one another in the depths of the city. This is only a short review, so I'll try not to delve too much into the film's many sub-plots. What I will say is that if you're looking for a particularly enjoyable time, Crash isn't the movie for you. Haggis' aim was to expose the extent of racial prejudice in LA and cultural misunderstanding, and thus it is incredibly shady and brutally honest.

Matt Dillon has the most impacting role, and the most significant character arc, as a racist cop who picks on a young black couple (Terrence Howard and Thandie Newton). His role is very remeniscent of Billy Bob Thornton's character in Monsters Ball, with a similar belief system, but Dillon brings a subtle depth to the role that borders on revelatory. In truth, Crash's strength lies in its incredible ensemble, with Thandie Newton also giving a breakout performance as a woman losing faith in her boyfriend, and in life, as well as the neutrality of the police force. Newton shines, letting rip at the world with the emanant anger of a woman without prejudice, who can't bear to see it go on any longer. The other noteworthy performance is from Sandra Bullock, not known particularly for her dramatic flair. However, her stunning short turn as a neurotic middle-class housewife leaves a lasting impression. Bullock makes every second of her running time count.

As a whole, Crash is phenomenal, flaunting the similarities of prejudice and exposing a lack of cultural understanding that forms the divide. Led by one of the finest ensembles in recent memory, and one of the most insightful scripts of the year, Crash is a film that simply must be seen to be believed.

From drama on the streets to drama in the air, and Flightplan, starring the ever-brilliant Jodie Foster as Kyle Pratt, a recent widow, who travels with her daughter Julia on a flight from Berlin. When Foster wakes from her sleep to find Julia missing, she trawls the plane looking for her. But when she is told that Julia was never on the plane and that she died several days ago, Pratt goes berserk, tearing anything and everything in her path to find the girl.

Foster is naturally brilliant in a role remeniscent of her Panic Room turn, a wronged and desperate mother seemingly taking on every man and his dog in her quest for answers. It's her that makes it watchable, in an hour-and-a-half-long onslaught that establishes her as a kick-ass heroine. A rebel with a cause. The first hour works very well as a thriller, while it's conspiracy theory Versus emotional instability question remains, to a degree, engaging. There are a lot of hitchcockian elements present here, however, there is something a little odd and profoundly ridiculous about Flightplan's final act that really doesn't hold water. A rapid flurry of information in the final quarter is tough to digest, and the whole thing ends with a dissatisfying whimper. There's promise there, but it sadly fails to deliver.

From one superbly talented actress to another, erm, superbly talented actress. Three-time Oscar nominee Joan Allen stars in The Upside Of Anger, as a wife and mother of three daughters, who is left extremely bitter after her husband leaves her for his secretary.

Terry Ann Wolfmeyer (Allen) begins to drink 24/7, and consequently develops a pessimistic bluntness towards life, making her brutally honest and hilariously dry. Her three daughters are hardly angels, their naivety bringing Terry Ann to despair at times, but there is a soulful spirit about The Upside Of Anger that shows us how people can change their character for little or no reason. It's a movie that proves you need to let go sometimes and tell it how it is. Allen is refreshing, on the verge of a nervous breakdown she ceases to give a fuck, letting rip at whomever is in her path be it with the horrific concern of an unstable mother, or the sexual repression of a middle-aged soon-to-be divorcee, Allen is wickedly entertaining, and eternally resolute.

Realistically, there is always an upside to anger, blatantly present within this film. When we are angry there are things we'd say that we wouldn't otherwise. It embraces how it's ultimately better to let rip than to keep things bottled up, and is therefore very admirable.
Crash - B+ , Flightplan - C, The Upside Of Anger - B

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Björk, Von Trier & Dancer In The Dark

Bjork demands a certain curiosity of a listener/viewer that's hard to rival. There's no doubting she is completely round the bend, suggested by tabloids here, there, and everywhere. But that's her attraction. The wierd, wacky, starkness that's oddly and supremely wonderful. She's musically and physically captivating -- a gift that not many people have.

Most recently, I've given Bjork's album Homogenic a run, and have found its actually rather brilliant. Lyrically, it is very metaphorical, and emotionally, it is quite profound. I'd recommend it to anyone willing to give wierd a chance. Bachelorette is a particular highlight, as is Immature, Joga, and Alarm Call.

Lars Von Trier on the other hand, is not among my most favourite directors. There's wierd, and well then there's just cold. You have to admit, it's hard to warm to someone who constantly looks as if the world is about to end at any second.

This manifests itself into his films, most recently, Dogville, which bordered on tedium for much of the over-long running time. What I will say for it though -- and this is extremely significant -- the ending was one of the most powerful I've encountered in cinema. Von Trier's genius is in the way he makes you think about what you're seeing, and what that tells you about yourself, and the world we live in.

Of course, it's well-known that these two characters combined, creating Dancer In The Dark (2000), of which I've only just recently seen. I feel the need to profess my adoration of this cinematic masterpiece as it ranks amongst my favourite ever films. It brought out in me something that hadn't yet emerged, pulling at my mind, plucking at my heart. Dancer In The Dark has that extraordinary ability to emotionally move and intellectually strain, both to equally substantial degree. It may be divisive and controversial, but that's Von Trier, and there is no clearer nor phsyically shattering way to display his contempt than in Dancer In The Dark. I just can't believe I waited so long to see it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Film Recap: The Blog Reviews (1)

Ok.. so I've been seeing films but not commenting on them. There's too many for me to write full reviews for, so I'm going to write a couple of those, and the rest will be blog notes. I'll try and summarise as much as I can.
Anyway, here's the first batch:

The Jacket
Directed by John Maybury
Starring: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley
Grade: D+

Ok. So time travel has been achieved in film through many different methods: -- most recently, and hilariously, through recounting one's own diary. In the past we've seen everything from cars to phone boxes make the journey through the time/space continuum. It's always been the ultimate adventure to breach into an event that's already happened, or one that will happen, as demonstrated in The Jacket.

Adrien Brody is Jack Starks, a war veteran that's wrongly convicted of murder and sent to a mental institution. Well, I say wrongly. In actual fact, it turns out Jack (or at least his straight jacket) has the power to venture into the future, so insanity is perhaps not the most inaccurate diagnosis. In any case, Jack is shocked to discover that his death is supposed to occur pretty soon, and so seeks to discover what it was that killed him, and how to stop it. In order to do this, he seeks the help of Jackie (Knightley), whom holds the truth of his whereabouts at the supposed murder.

Basically, we're subjected to a back and forth plot, that, while interesting, is a little weak. It rarely varies from its glance into the future, followed by its incremental re-percussions in the past. The Jacket gets the basics right, creating a moody and sinister feel, shaded further by the antics of Brody, and particularly Knightley, who really steals the limelight. I had not been a fan of Knightley, but her presence and painfully lethargic self-loathing as a damaged woman seems so frank, and brutally honest. Nevertheless, the same cannot be said for much of the film, seeming to run out of ideas half-way through. It may be a little different, perhaps even rather fascinating in its moment, but there isn't anywhere near enough clarity or imagination to carry it through, which is rather a shame.

Land Of The Dead
Directed by George A. Romero
Starring: Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo
Grade: B

George A. Romero, director of the original Dawn of the Dead, and its follow-up, Night Of the Living Dead returns to direct this year's Land of the Dead, presumably to show everyone else how a zombie flick should be made. LOTD takes place at a time when zombies are the norm, and people have taken to sheltering in a luxury resort containing countless amenities, so they need never leave. Riley (Baker) is a regular zombie hunter, but is desperate to leave town and take up shelter in the desolation of canada. However, his departure suffers somewhat of a delay, as desperate Cholo (Leguizamo) threatens to destroy the resort with a loaded weapons truck.

The sense of war, and thirst for survival is blindingly evident, conveying more of a humanity for both sides of the argument. Pretty ironic, since the zombies are essentially dead, but this is seen as a conflict of interest rather than good versus evil, which I guess is fair enough. For the zombies to continue to 'live', they must eat humans. This is epitomised by Riley's words: "They're just looking for a place to go like us". What Romero expresses so wonderfully is that good and evil occurs irrespective of whether you're living or whether you're dead.

There's an equality in LOTD, that shows an inner core to zombies never seen before. What humans should fear in a world full of zombies is the greed and desperation of other humans, displayed by the stupidity of self-undoing. Physical change is nothing compared to mental change, indicated by a level of corruption that would never occur in a world where things were worth something again. LOTD teaches us that a price cannot be put on lives.

Directed by Robert Luketic
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda
Grade: D

Oh dear Jane Fonda. Why on earth did you return from retirement for this utter crap? Fonda, playing the viscious mother-in-law, former TV personality Viola Fields, spends most of the film trying to oust her future daughter-in-law (Lopez) out of her precious son, Kevin (Vartan)'s life.

is just an absoloute mess from start to finish. Firstly, it's made up of glaring bits and pieces of various other ideas used before. Not much, if any, of the film is original, which in turn makes it tedious and very predictable. It has enough components to make a decent movie but they are put together in an astoundingly sloppy way, the pacing being a particular problem. It is very superfluous, spending time on events that mean little more than token affection. It's really strange, because some of the antics are quite decent, and if arranged well, would certaintly give the film an added edge that it so badly lacked.

Fonda and Lopez's oneupmanship, though initially fun, soon grows very tired, and the film runs around in circles trying desperately to entertain. But there's no punch to the film, no life in its weary bones. The two leading ladies can't be blamed for this, and neither can their familial link Kevin . Plain and simply, it's just a bad script thats awfully made.

Directed by Chris Wedge
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Amanda Bynes
Grade: C

OK, so Pixar are the aces at animation. That's clear. But Fox had a go, and did a decent, if altogether unsuccessful job. Robots is a story of Rodney Copperbottom, a robot with ambition. Rodney is an inventor, who leaves his parents behind for the big city, seeking to pitch his ideas to his inspiration, inventor Bigweld. However, when he arrives at Robot City, all is not as cut and dry as that, and it soon emerges that there is a plot to weed out outmoded robots and force the others to buy upgrades. Being a natural technician, Rodney attracts the attention of robots who need fixing and soon becomes a hero of the people.

Robots is pretty funny, and has clever and witty references merging robots finely with humanisation. This is especially good at the beginning of the film, when Mr and Mrs Copperbottom are literally delivered an assemble-your-own baby. The script is generally good, continuing the light humour for a decent way into the film.

Alas, you can't help but compare this to other films and feel it falls a little short. Of course, Pixar's Finding Nemo is the pinnacle of animation, but if you look at the standard we've come to expect, Robots just doesn't cut the mustard. The characters are nowhere near as defined, and don't always have the charm and comedy we crave. There is less clarity, less involvement, and significantly less emotion than we're used to seeing. It's a nice little flick, but it just doesn't have that boatload of fun attached to it that's an essential nowadays.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bush Is Back

Ok. You can breathe easy now. George Bush has not found another defenceless country with insane economic benefits to destroy. I'm talking about the return of another Bush, of the Kate variety.

Yes. Kate has made a comeback, and doesn't she look exactly the same as she always did. Some people are just like that, escaping age, damn them. Anyway, the glorious Kate has returned with a new album, the first single of which is titled 'King of the Mountain'. It's brilliant, and refreshing to hear something so different yet vividly appealing.

I've been a fan of the Bush (excuse the political and sexual inuendo) for some time now, ever since I saw the video for Wuthering Heights on one of the music channels. Her voice is so capturing, her presence so efervescent. She adds a welcome mystery. I've heard some of her other songs and like them too, but will have to explore the older albums more. Anyway, if you've got an ipod, download the Bush! Do it now. You won't be disappointed.


P.S. Film Update coming soon, and I've been a busy boy :P

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Adaptability Central

After reading Memoirs of a Geisha, its suitability for adaptation is as follows:

Quality: 9/10

Golden's writing style and story-telling is very easy to follow and should hopefully manifest itself into the screen version.

Tense: 6/10

Inappropriate. Jumps tense a lot and recounts random stories in people's lives. Structure will have to be re-arranged totally.

Detail: 7/10

It's very detailed. Will be hard capturing all of the detail in a motion picture.

Overall Suitability: 7.5/10

Not an easy job but if anyone can do it, it's Marshall. Another showy picture to direct, he will thrive on this. He has his work cut out though.


No.. it's not the Paul Haggis-directed Oscar hopeful of 2005, with such an over-performing ensemble. I actually had a car crash today. Nothing serious.. went into the back of someone, but it shook me up a little. Was actually having a really good day as well, spent a ton of my overdraft lol, so it kinda spoiled it. But I'm high-spirited regardless I suppose.

No use crying over spilt milk.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Yes, a heavy sigh. Why? Two reasons.

1) It's all over. We've found the most snubbed achievement in film ever, and we've found it after months of polling.

2) I'm dismayed by the decision lol... so Cate Blanchett's performance in Elizabeth is the most snubbed performance ever, having lost in 1998 to a radiant Gwyneth Paltrow. Talking of Paltrow, she may get a nomination this year for Proof, if reviews get a little kinder overall. I'm interested to know, do you view her performance in Shakespeare in Love as bad? Or just inferior? Anyway, regardless, the snub polls have ceased.

So let us move on to the next poll (yes that soon), which is based on the directorial master Alfred Hitchcock. To celebrate Hitchock's masterpiece collection, which is released on the 4th of October, we gather to decide which of his films was the greater directorial achievement. I've included the main ones, Vertigo, Psycho, Rear Window. Sorry if your fave isn't on the list but there is an 'other' slot. Fill your boots...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Film Update

Recently Viewed:

· The Ring Two
· Somersault

I had not planned to see The Ring Two. Ever. But circumstances led me to it -- there wasn't much choice. Anyway, I did, and I'm actually glad I did. Even though it was nowhere near as good as the original American remake, it had some good things to report. First of all, its effects have gone up a notch, and are pretty eye-opening, however, I felt this took the focus away from the suspense and more about the shock. The amount of suspense in this sequel was a dramatic reduction, with Watts calling out for her son a little too much. Also, the ending was a little too rounded for me, and the whole thing felt more Hollywood than the first one did, and Hollywood is not good.

Grade: C-

Somersault was less problematic but still a little flawed. I thought it was very good for a debut project. It has lots of psychological insight and the way that people can act in order to mask the painful truth. It's really touching and definitely demonstrates something that I haven't seen before. The thing I found a little disappointing though, was that the background of the main character was shaded over too much. It would've been better to know why she left home in the first place rather than start her psychological journey as a runaway. Doesn't make sense to me. Anyway, it was very well acted, directed, and generally was very engaging.

Grade: B-

Recently Reviewed:

· Constantine
· XXX2: The Next Level

These are the latest reviews, neither of which are generally very favourable although I would like to say that I was pleasantly surprised (or maybe just surprised) by XXX2. It's not all that bad. Constantine was pretty much what I expected -- an average-poor popcorn flick. You can catch my reviews on the main page of the site at the top.

Imminent Viewings:

· It's All Gone Pete Tong
· Monster In Law
· The Wings of the Dove

Hoping to be impressed by Helena Bonham Carter's oscar-nominated turn in The Wings of the Dove. I'm working my way through the nominees of '97 and so far have seen three. Kate Winslet in Titanic, which is good, but hardly a stretch, less so in her case. Helen Hunt, whose performance may be the most overrated in history. Again it's good, but please.. terrible win. And Judi Dench, who is head and shoulders above the other two so far. Maybe Helena can out-do her.

I know Monster In Law has had terrible reviews, and you're probably thinking "Oh dear". In actual fact, I'm slightly thinking the same thing, but I have a rule: If I like the concept of the film I'll see it, no matter how bad the reviews. It rarely ever works though, except with Pay It Forward as a notable exception. It's the same reason I'll see House of Wax next month. I love the concept of the wax corpses etc. even if Hilton and co. are utterly dreadful.

Finally, It's All Gone Pete Tong looks to be good, and it's British, which is always a plus. I like any attempt for British cinema to flourish -- yes, even the dated Pride and Prejudice, which is such a product so to speak, of the unrelenting 80's/90's heritage theme that came out of this tiny lil' country.

Anyway, That's All Folks. Catch you later.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Gods in Alabama

Hey there..

I thought I'd take this moment -- while I'm tired and purposely deterring from achieving my insanely long 'to do' list which lingers ever more annoyingly -- to let you know about this book that I'm reading at the minute. I made a conscious decision a month or so ago that I would read more, I've got a decent amount of time on my hands so why the hell not? Anyway, I was down at TESCO, and decided to look at the book chart and this book, 'Gods in Alabama' kinda caught my fancy. Well, it was the most interesting there, though I really only got it because I wanted to read something. Anyhow, it actually turns out that it's really good, and I'm really enjoying it. It's not very long, 275 pages or so, but I think it's really witty and author Joshilyn Jackson really has a knack of being blunt and deep at the same time. I really think has given me an incentive to keep reading after this one is finished, I'm around 2/3 of the way through it at the moment. I guess that's why I love writing, if it manages to bring something out in people and make them think about things that they had always thought about in a completely different way, or look at life in a completely different outlook, then that's special. And it's powerful. Jackson has that gift. Buy this book.

All for now =)

A Tale of Two Cities

No, not Dickens, just two cities that feature prominently at the moment.

The first of these is the beautiful city of Venice, which I would very much love to visit some time. As you probably know, the Venice Film Festival kicked off a couple of days ago and is currently on-going. The festival is showcasing some Oscar hopefuls, the biggest of which is George Clooney's 2nd Directorial Achievement, 'Goodnight and Good Luck'. Other projects hoping for some kudos to build their Oscar campaigns are Ang Lee's gay cowboy drama 'Brokeback Mountain' and what is looking like Paltrow's big-time comeback, John Madden's screen adaptation of the play 'Proof'.

The other city in question is one of the most high-profile celebrities around at the moment, Sienna Miller. OK maybe that's cheating but what the hell. Anyway, so Sienna, who's had a very intense few weeks -- and I'm telling you now you won't find a tabloid in August with her absence -- made an appearance at the Venice FF for the showing of her film, 'Casanova'. After uttering the words "I've met a few Casanova's" it seems the media have started up again, suggesting that she has dumped Jude. Now I'm sick of this as much as everyone else with half a nerve, but Sienna, for gods sake, DUMP THE NO GOOD SLEAZY CHEAT. There. I've said it. Let's move on.

Indeed, it's difficult to see the press making quite as much fuss over Casanova if the whole 'Jude and the Nanny' thing didn't happen, which begs the question: Will Sienna's career flourish in Life After Jude? It worked for Nicole Kidman, at least to some degree, she clearly always had exceptional talent. But a high profile gives you juicy roles, roles that got Kidman noticed in a way she had been overlooked (e.g. in To Die For) before. I do not think for one second that Miller has even half the acting ability of La Kidman, but what she does have is possibly the most physical attraction of any actress around at the moment. In fact, for natural beauty, there's basically her on one level, and the rest on another. Because everyone knows her name (gettin' a Cheers moment right her), I think we're gonna find Miss (or Mrs?!) Miller gets a lot of Hollywood attention. Watch out Jude. You could be upstaged.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Yesterday I went out and bought myself a copy of Gwen Stefani's debut solo album, 'Love, Angel, Music, Baby'. I've been a fan of Gwen since her No Doubt days with tunes like 'Don't Speak', 'Hey Baby' and 'It's My Life'. Her voice has a recognisable presence and you can really feel that she means what she's saying.

The main reasons I bought it though was a) I liked Gwen's first four tracks that she released from the album (What You Waiting For, Rich Girl, Hollaback Girl, and Cool) and b) because I needed to buy another pop album. The pop industry has been rather dormant lately, and until its crowned Queen Madonna returns to liven the world once again in November, Stefani is doing a great job in filling her boots.

Some of the songs really sound like Madge, and the kinda stuff she used to do. I could never grow tired of it. Tracks like 'Serious', which is god damn amazing, and 'The Real Thing' have that 80's vibe but Gwen still gives it her personal touch. Like Mrs. Ritchie, Ms. Stefani does not have spectacular range of voice -- good but not spectacular -- but it's the charisma and originality that she gives to her songs that distinguish her above all of the pop pretender wannabes of which I won't even grace by placing their name in the same paragraph as these two maestros.
I'd give the album a 9/10, as it's excellent, barring a couple of mistakes, 'Bubble Pop Electric' and 'Long Way To Go'. I urge you to go out and buy it. Trust me.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Vroom Vroom..

"I got a brand new car. Looks like a jaguar. It's got leather seats. It's got a CD player player player player player player player player player player"

Sorry couldn't resist. I passed my driving test today! Absoloutely delighted. Of course this means I can drive into Uni as opposed to taking the [chokes in disgust] b-u-s. I'm not a snob, I just hate buses -- with a passion. My two years as a regular bus-user has included too many reliability issues, usually involving me standing in the freezing cold, and sometimes snowy conditions. I shudder even thinking about it. Anyway, doesn't matter now, as with six minors, I will be let loose on the roads soon -- well, whenever the insurance gets sorted. That's probably not great for any drivers and pedestrians out there but super pour moi.
J'ai fini pour le moment.

Oscar Updates


Newly updated Oscar predictions are now available to browse at your leisure. Some of the categories haven't changed much and some I had to shake up quite a lot. I'm relatively happy them, although buzz for The White Countess is slowly waning, but whatever, it could easily turn out to be the frontrunner come December. So anyway, here are my frontrunners for each of the eight main categories:
  • Best Picture: The Producers, Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Best Director: James Ivory (The White Countess), Sam Mendes (Jarhead)
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line), Ralph Fiennes (The White Countess)
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role: Judi Dench (Mrs. Henderson Presents), Natasha Richardson (The White Countess)
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Peter Sarsgaard (Jarhead), Matthew Broderick (The Producers)
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Uma Thurman (The Producers), Scarlett Johansson (Match Point)
  • Best Original Screenplay: Match Point (Woody Allen), The White Countess (Kazuo Ishiguro)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: The Producers, Memoirs of a Geisha

Feel free to offload your views, either by commenting or emailing me. Take care.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Whatever Happened To... Hollywood's Most Promising #2

OK.. I realise that posts have been very few and far between lately, so I've decided to make up for it (ever so slightly) with a triple post today. The first of these is my merging of the Whatever Happened to... and Hollywood's Most Promising elements, because yes, you've guessed it. They're one in the same.

Hollywood's Most Promising #2: Haley Joel Osment

Now.. I know Mr. Osment hasn't been on the scene for a couple of years now. But that begs the question: why? I got thinking after seeing Haley playing for the USA in the All-Star Cup, a celebrity Ryder Cup-esque golf tournament. I know it's for charity but you have to wonder why he isn't off shooting a film somewhere. Sure, he does have a project called Home of the Giants, scheduled to begin filming in the near future, but this is by directorial debutant Rusty Gorman, and Haley is the only part of the cast as of yet. Can't Osment do better? Especially seen as he was built up to be the greatest child actor ever, receiving an Oscar nomination at the age of 11 for his wonderful turn in The Sixth Sense. Maybe the "curse of the child star" is manifesting itself once again, but Osment seems pretty grounded to me, and has produced no less than three Oscar-worthy performances in my opinion.

I've mentioned his brilliance in The Sixth Sense and so will move on to the vastly underrated Pay It Forward, released in 2000. First I want to say that when looking if a film is manipulative, you have to decide whether the event in question alters your perception of the concept of the film as a whole. I don't believe that the tragic finale in Pay it Forward bears any manipulative qualities bar a tear or too. Its singular concept is monumentally powerful, and serves solely as an eye-opener through the eyes of the incredibly naive, damaged genius of Trevor, played by Osment. It bothers me how so many people can ignore the 110 minutes before its painful conclusion.

As for Osment's best performance, well, this comes in Artificial Intelligence, where he plays a robot searching for a family, a home. Now I'm not all that keen on the last twenty minutes of this film, which is over-sentimental melodramatic trash (ok, got that out the way), but there's no denying that Osment owns the film and the character. I can't imagine how difficult it is to communicate feelings, while remaining essentially static and artificial. Osment may be playing a robot, but it's a robot that has human qualities, led by the desire to love and feel. Nobody in past or present could have done a better job.

To quote Nicole Kidman in Cold Mountain (and what is possibly one of the most powerful lines in film): "[Haley Joel], if you are walking stop walking, if you are marching (down the 11th tee) stop marching, come back, come back is my request"

Friday, August 26, 2005

Hollywood's Most Promising..

"Another feature?" I hear you say. Yes. Indeed. But rest assured, I haven't forgotten about Most Snubbed.. and Whatever Happened To.. there'll be additions to those groups in the next day or two. So anyway, I want to make clear who I think will turn out to be the cream of the crop in Hollywood terms. There are lots of young 'uns promising to be the 'next big thing', but which will make it? I'll give you my view:

Hollywood's Most Promising #1: Natalie Portman

Perhaps a little predictable. My adoration of Portman is clear from my reviews of Closer and Garden State, which I think are the two best supporting performances of the year. I'll tell you a little bit more about why I think she has a future.

Looking at the photo (on the right) just makes me smile straight away, thus the vibrance and warmth she gives to the character of Sam in Garden State. Now I loved Garden State, and she's probably the main reason why. She brings out elements of me that made me think when watching the film, and instills elements of her own personality, while never once going over-the-top. It's incredible how she makes the character appear totally unique to any other character in any other movie, yet be so refreshingly inviting. Never mind Braff, anyone would open up to her if given the chance, it's the face, the innocent but know-it-all free spirit that made me melt at her feet.

Her performance in Closer works to similar effect, revealing her as a beacon of talent, an alluring seductress, and most of all, an immovable presence. While watching Closer, there wasn't a lot to like, in fact, there wasn't anything to like apart from Portman's tearaway/victim character complex that she conquers so utterly brilliantly. You have to see the film to understand the magic behind it, and the famous slow-motion pace up the street that defines her lack of commitment and ultimately fleeting visit that is the only thing worth caring about.

A good supporting performance (better than Renee Zelwegger's) in Cold Mountain also showed off her ability as a dramatic actress, adding background to the character that could have easily been lost, and altogether, Portman is an insanely talented young actress who I'm sure will be around for decades to come.
More Promising Newcomers to Arrive Soon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Oscar Battles: Part VII

And onto the seventh Oscar struggle and actually, the final encounter. Yes, I've decided to cut the battles short at number 7 -- not because 7 is a lucky number (though it's meant to be) but cos it's kind of getting old. After this one we'll put all of the snubbed performers in a big poll to see who you think Hollywood snubbed the most.

As for last week's battle, Morgan Freeman became the only winner to survive, beating out competition from Church and Owen. It was a good performance in a lame movie for me, but then again I don't expect everyone to agree with my
Million Dollar Baby analysis. In fact, you may struggle to find anyone. Oh I love disagreeing with the masses.

Where was I? Oh. Yeah. Number Seven. Forgive me if I'm just a hopeless romantic with a dry and sarcastic outer shell, but I do love to watch something that's well done. Titanic will always be one of my favourite ever films because everything about it is so captivating. Its relentless onslaught of tragedy embedded in blissful romance is stunning. Why? Because they intertwine and flourish as one. You care about Rose and Jack, and you care about the rest. You can't like one and disregard the other. They're all in the same boat after all -- lame joke I know. Still, I have to wonder whether the backlash it has suffered is for people with heartless cynics, weak minds, because no film has ever swept the world like Titanic did, and nor will any piece of cinema have quite the same effect on a population in the future

NB: If you stopped reading when I started to mention romance you can breathe a heavy sigh of relief and say to yourself, "What is that guy talking about?", that's if you haven't given up on my taste in film altogether. I have faith that there are others that adore it too. Somewhere out there anyway.

So Titanic has a lot of haters now, and many (including a lot of critics) feel that L.A. Confidential should have taken home the coveted Best Picture prize in 1997. Why people mention this as the main fault of '97 is beyond me, as Helen Hunt won an Oscar for a role any C-list Actress could have done as well as her. Oh my god I'm off again. Note to self: Back to L.A. Yes indeed, Curtis Hanson's picture is pretty good, if a little dull, especially for a crime thriller. Strange pacing as well, and very cold characters. I gave it a B, but I've only seen it once, and that was a while ago

OK then. Take your pick. Crime or Romance? Epic or Thriller? 10's or 50's? Have fun.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Craving Life

So it's been a boring boring day. There seems to be too many of those nothing days lately, like I'm wasting my life or something. Lifeless even. I'm getting that Garden State feeling (which can't be good) where I wanna stand on top of a big truck thing and yell into the emptiness of the world. I won't reflect too much on the glorious Garden State but I will say that I just bought it on DVD. Perhaps time for a repeat viewing, hmm.. maybe. I also bought Sideways, or should I say, stole Sideways for a meager £5.99 from Blah , and Phantom of the Opera (don't laugh), which I really enjoyed. I think the people who haven't seen it on stage, which includes me, probably like this better. But until I see it on stage, I'll continue to be a fan of Schumacher's adaptation.

I've lost all faith in cinema after seeing Sahara earlier, and believe me, I wasn't expecting it to be good. But I certaintly wasn't expecting it to be that bad. What a pile of crap. So I have Maria, Full Of Grace to finally watch or the tiny Aussie flick Somersault. What to choose. Decisions, decisions. When I go to Blockbuster, I always try and mix it up a little. I don't want to full-on drama, so I try and pick one tame pic (Sahara), one full-on pick (Maria), and one unknown quantity (Somersault). Unless of course there's a couple I just can't resist, which does frequently happen.

I think I'll write a couple of reviews tomorrow and give an update thing before I go to the evening's football match -- Sunderland A.F.C. if you're interested. Bottom of the league after two games but one can only hope.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Whatever Happened To...

And welcome to a brand-spanking new feature, asking "What the hell happened?" about some of film's most promising starlets at one time or another. Without further ado:

#1 : Julia Stiles

One of the most promising young actresses in 2001 was Julia Stiles. Having gained an MTV Breakthrough Award and an award from the Chicago Film Critics Association for her brilliant performance in Ten Things I Hate About You in 1999, Julia was billed as one for the future.

Let's talk about her showing in '10 Things', which, in my opinion was more than worthy of an Oscar nomination. Of course, not as good as frontrunners Swank and Bening, but a deliciously dry performance that made the film for me. It's good to know that Chicago appreciated her excellence, but where were the other accolades? Anyway, regardless, this was more than enough to excite.

Also gaining a couple of awards for her part of the 'State and Main' ensemble in 2000, and moving on to 'Save The Last Dance' in 2001, which received mixed reviews, but general consensus that Stiles was the best part of it. So one would say that she maintained her height of promise by 2001, but since then, things have gone a little ary: A bit part in the Bourne films, the mainstream 'A Guy Thing', and the meh 'Mona Lisa Smile' part of her recent resume.

Julia is unbelievably still only 24, can she make a comeback?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A Timely Update

It's about time I gave you an update ( well on the film front anyway) about what I've been up to. So here it goes:

Recently Viewed:

  • Midnight Cowboy
  • Pooh's Heffalump Movie

I know, lol, two very different films with (absurdly) very similar messages. Midnight Cowboy, starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, was fairly sad, but wonderfully entertaining, led by the characters' apparent naivety but stunning depth of character. With Joe Buck (Voight) looking like he's at some fancy dress party for most of the movie, it's rather odd, but works brilliantly. At least, for me, the first 'Best Picture' I've seen in a while that actually deserves its title.

As for Heffalump, how class is Winnie the Pooh. Even when he's not the lead character he still steals the show! Pure brilliance. On the whole it was sweet, although not a great deal happened to be frank. The Hundred Acre Wood is a boring place full of colourful characters. Still -- admirable morals, don't judge a book by its cover, people are afraid of what they don't know. Ah, you can always rely on Disney to hammer home some fable-esque mentality.

Recently Reviewed:

  • Coach Carter
  • The Interpreter

You can see these on the site as per usual. Overall pretty average. Both had plenty of flaws, The Interpreter just had a lot more to swing it the other way. Anwyay, you'll see what I mean.

Imminent Viewings:

  • The Color of Money

Looking forward to this, if only for Newman. I've seen painfully (and shamefully) little of his filmography, and eagerly anticipate this flick. Expect my thoughts on the matter either tomorrow or Saturday.

Uni Here I Come!


The A Level Results came out today and I got a B Grade in English Language, a C Grade in Media Studies, and a D Grade in History, which got me accepted into Sunderland University Journalism course. Absoloutely delighted. Why was I worried again?

The whole thing was wierd, just like last year. The opening of the envelope is actually very quick, but everything after it is slow. Some people were crying as well, which isn't great to see. Personally though, this is excellent.

Anyone else out there who got their results care to share?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fatigue Attack

Yaaawn! Feelin' so tired tonight. So tired in fact that I had a nap for like an hour and a half. Very unusual for me. I don't like it, not one bit. I prefer my set sleeping patterns. Maybe it's my cutting of breakfast and lunch today that did it, or I was just shattered from work. I just don't like naps -- it's a waste of time to me.

Naps. Good or Bad? And why?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Oscar Battles: Part VI

Week 6 is upon us, and thus the sixth of the Oscar battles. The only battle from 2004 sees eventual Oscar winner Morgan Freeman, battle competition from Thomas Haden Church's comic genius in Sideways, and Clive Owen's sleazy possessive husband in Closer. I myself would go for Church above these two, and by quite a distance, but the choice is yours.

Last week's battle between Burstyn, Linney, and Roberts ended up with Burnstyn edging out the other two. Not a surprise. I would say this is probably the snub that a lot of people mention. Anyway, the Oscar winner still has not survived in five battles thus far. Oh dear. Maybe Morgan will have more luck.

Get Voting!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hollywood's Most Snubbed #2: Alfred Hitchcock

Oh this one had to come sooner or later -- a rant about the fact that one of the greatest ever Directors, the colourful Alfred Hitchcock, managed to finish his career with ZERO oscars, after five times of trying. What's even worse is that he wasn't nominated for Vertigo. Lunacy.

  • Rebecca (1940)
  • Lifeboat (1944)
  • Spellbound (1945)
  • Rear Window (1954)
  • Psycho (1960)

Now, of all of these performances (some of which I haven't seen), the one that illuminates brightest, is his masterful guidance of the 1954 classic (and in my opinion the best of the Hitchcock collection thus far) Rear Window. The amount of sheer drama that AH manages to input into such an essentially static and confined narrative is awe-inspiring. I was with the characters at every moment. I felt involved.

I've mentioned Hitchock's nom snub for Vertigo being shameful, and indeed it is, as it contains some of the most haunting shots. The composition as a whole is incredible. I literally couldn't keep my eyes off the screen. Of course, another nom snub that is difficult to comprehend is 1958's North By Northwest, which is very much more focused on narrative than dramatic effect but still demonstrates the great man's ability highlighted in the plane scene in the middle of the film. Other brilliant directions include Psycho (1960) and Marnie (1965): So where's his Oscar?

Watch out for a poll asking for your favourite Hitchock flick. You've plenty of choice anyway.

'Lost' For Words

So.. ABC's second top show (after Desperate Housewives), Lost, debuted on Channel 4 tonight. The first two episodes of the show, which regularly claims 20 million viewers in the U.S, were sandwiched either side of the special midweek Big Brother eviction. This probably means it will get excellent ratings for C4, maybe 5 or 6 million if Desperate Housewives is anything to go by.

As for the show itself, I was unsure about the first fifteen, but loved it as it went on. Just like Housewives, everybody seems to have a secret, secrets that will be incrementally revealed as it goes along. Wonderful. Just hope it can carry the drama all the way through, I'm already craving the next edition.

Fully deserved of its 12 emmy nominations.
FYC: Lost for Best Drama!

Monday, August 08, 2005

You Scratch My Back..

Ok, so I stumbled upon this offer for a free Ipod. At first I was skeptical, and turns out partially rightly, but it actually costs a meager £10 for it, and if you've got friends, you're all set. Basically, you sign up for an Ipod using this link and you get put through to some great offers, like 2 dvd's for £10. Then you get five friends to sign up, and when that happens you get your free Ipod. It may sound a bit complicated but I kinda need some help with this now. To be honest, if I don't get five people, that's fine, cause I've made a bargain anyway getting Sideways and Phantom of the Opera at £5 a piece.

Something for you to ponder (or dismiss) .

Hollywood's Most Snubbed #1: Reese Witherspoon

Welcome to the first edition of Hollwood's Most Snubbed, which is my excuse to profess my adoration of certain actors/actresses while having a go at the Academy at the same time, which let's face it, needs to be done. Firstly, you may all have different opinions on what consitutes a "snub" so let me make this clear:

Snub (Verb): To dismiss, turn down, or frustrate the expectations of

Not that I'm saying the "snubbed" expected to be nommed -- at least some of them probably didn't anyway. In that way, the academy has frustrated my expectations, so you could say I've been snubbed as well. Anyway, you will certaintly get my drift by the time I've finished speaking my mind on the subject.

So onto the main event, and one of Hollywood's most snubbed leading ladies. The divine Reese Witherspoon, who continues to produce brilliant performances in so-so movies, is also continually snubbed for her good work. Despite receiving a Globe nod and three critics awards (KCFCC, NSFC, OFCS) for her riveting, show-stealing performance in Election, she was snubbed by both SAG and AMPAS. I appreciate that the competition in '99 was decent (Swank, Bening, McTeer) but this is a shameful snub. She also gained a Globe nod in 2001 for her wonderful performance in Legally Blonde. If there wasn't such a comedy bias, she may have been recognised by the Academy, but they didn't go for her in the universally acclaimed Election so it was unlikely they would oblige for such a mainstream comedy. It's a shame, because this tour-de-force epitomises the energy that Witherspoon brings to the screen and her hypnotic nature. Indeed, Witherspoon has a habit of lifting the films she appears in to relatively dizzy heights. As well as carrying Election and Legally Blonde on her insanely talented shoulders, she moved on to another mainstream comedy, Sweet Home Alabama. Personally, the movie was slightly above average, but only because of Witherspoon, only because of the charisma she exudes. She is worth infinitely more than the script is, and has made herself into one of the best comedic actresses around.

The question is: Will she be snubbed this year?

Well, lets review her chances. The Walk the Line trailer looks very good, and she looks a decent bet. If she goes supporting, there is a lot more competition, and they don't have to go along with the whole "babe" pick. If she's leading she'll have a better chance. She's avoiding the comedy bias, even though Walk the Line will undoubtedly be placed in the comedy/musical (this is insanity btw). It's a biopic -- playing a real person has its benefits, especially when you're looking for a nomination. I think she could do it, I hope she will do it, but will she?

Hmm.. any thoughts? What do you think Witherspoon has been 'oscar-worthy' in, and where does she rank on the grand scale of things?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Oscar Battles: Part V

It's that time again -- yes, the latest Oscar battle, and the fifth of ten. An exploratory poll on the most controversial of wins to see if, in actual fact, they were indeed 'wrong'. Before I get onto this weeks faceoff, I'm gonna run through the results of the past two weeks.

In Battle 3, Edward Norton fought off Roberto Benigni to claim at least a bit of pride, and the public vote, even if he failed to gather enough votes from AMPAS. Last week, the titanic four-way battle between a group of great directors, ended with Robert Altman's glorious direction of 30's satire Gosford Park edging out Peter Jackson and David Lynch. Good choice.

So far it's a bit of a two-finger gesture at the academy, with none of the Oscar winners surviving. Here are the results:

  • 1998 Best Actress in a Leading Role: Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love) Vs. Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth) - Winner: Cate Blanchett - Result: No Match
  • 1994 Best Picture: Forrest Gump Vs. Pulp Fiction Vs. The Shawshank Redemption -
    Winner: Pulp Fiction - Result: No Match
  • 1998 Best Actor in a Leading Role: Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful) Vs. Tom Hanks (Saving Private Ryan) Vs. Ian McKellen (Gods and Monsters) Vs. Edward Norton (American History X) -
    Winner: Edward Norton - Result: No Match
  • 2001 Best Director: Robert Altman (Gosford Park) Vs. Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind) Vs. Peter Jackson (LOTR: Fellowship) Vs. David Lynch (Mulholland Drive) -
    Winner: Robert Altman - Result: No Match

At the end of the battles, I'll combine all of the non-matches, and put them all in a poll to see which of these performances you think is the biggest snub.

As for this weeks battle, well, we're venturing into film's year of 2000, which launched one of the fiercest Actress battles. Although the winner was pretty much assured before the ceremony, all three women have critic awards, and all have their supporters. There's no doubting that these are three great performances, but which should have won the Oscar? Fill your boots.

Stay Tuned.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

What I've Been Up To..

Bonjour mes amis!
Letting you know what I've been up to:
Latest Films Seen:
  • Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
  • Unfaithful (2002)

Yeah.. so I got Dynamite off of Sky Box-Office, as admittedly it looked quite cool. Altogether though, it is a bit of a misfire, pretending to be something more than it actually is. Of course, it's quirkier than your average high-school comedy, but we shouldn't forget that it uses the same jokes, and to relatively limited effect. It kinda reminded me of a Harry Enfield sketch as well. I don't know if you've ever seen the Kevin sketch that Enfield does, which also spurned the film Kevin and Perry Go Large. Anyway, essentially it makes the same mistakes, as it basically has the same jokes all the way through. This should never belong as a movie.

As for Unfaithful, where to start? I must concede that overall, I did quite like it, but why I liked it is the most puzzling part. The more I reflect upon the movie, the more I find myself falling in love with Diane Lane. She is just brilliant, and probably the only reason that this film is worth a watch. It definitely works, but I can't help feeling it falls short of what it could have been. Lane is incandescent, and I recommend people see it just to catch a glimpse of her.

Reviews Written:

  • Million Dollar Baby (2004)
  • The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)

I've made clear my contempt for Million Dollar Baby, and its seemingly very shallow underlying premise. As for its Best Picture win, I'm still glad that it won. Mainly because it shows that the academy voted for the one that they liked -- The Aviator, though a better film, would have been the routine Oscar pick. Call it one step forward anyway, even though the rest of the awards put them about ten steps back. Life Aquatic is less problematic, and more disappointing. There isn't anything in this film that I wouldn't mind being universally destroyed, and that's worrying. It's a nothing film, and really it kind of makes it a waste of money. Of course, the question still remains whether any money spent on Bill Murray is wasted money. Ask me after Broken Flowers.

Reviews are up on the site

About to See:

  • Marnie (1965? - Don't quote me on that)
  • The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Continuing my surge through the Hitchock collection, which I fully intend to complete, I prepare to view Marnie, which I believe is one of his more restrained efforts. With Sean Connery and Tippi Hedren I fully expect to enjoy this, but we'll see, one thing I will say is that I've thoroughly enjoyed every Hitchock flick I've seen so far. Hoping this one won't buck the trend. As for Tenenbaums, I realise that I've just totally trashed Life Aquatic in my review, but Wes Anderson's former effort is supposed to be better. It ought to be anyway -- the cast assembled is pretty damn talented. Still.. I can't help reflecting on the pointlessness of the two hours Team Zissou spent trawling the ocean, a couple of hours I would gladly eradicate from my memory. I expect an improvement.

So there you have it. Expect another update tomorrow :)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Decoding Da Vinci

When it comes to fashion, I am not someone you would turn to. I don't incessantly monitor the latest trends. I don't find myself craving something that's 'in', or repelling against something that is 'out'. I guess I'm just very unperturbed by the whole thing. I do have my exceptions though (doesn't everyone?), when the buzz is great I'm inclined to go with the flow so to speak. If there's something people are talking about, I find myself regularly wanting to know why.

So here we are, and Dan Brown's raved-about novel The Da Vinci Code, which I obtained a copy of last Saturday. Almost everyone in my immediate family has read this and really liked it, so I'm giving it a go. I do like a good mystery, usually the whodunit mystery is my favourite. I adore Agatha Christie. Still, halfway into the book I find myself relatively gripped by the prospect of 'the holy grail'. I won't give any of the plot away, but I do really like Brown's style of writing, and the way he moves the narrative forward. It's very very descriptive but, despite being a little superfluous, manages to create a great sense of atmosphere and setting. I'm also contemplating the vast amount of research that must have gone into writing a book of this historical accuracy and detail. Indeed, it almost feels like a history lesson, or a parisian tour, one I can't let go of. It's quite addictive. Not to the point of Harry Potter, but I've been with him for six whole novels, we have a bond. Still -- I'm finding that Da Vinci is a worthy successor.

Monday, August 01, 2005

One Down...Several to Go

OK... I haven't told you about this, but I'm in desperate need of some 'classic' films to watch. You'd be ashamed at the stuff I haven't seen.

Seriously, I'm yet to see the classic romance of Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca, the mafia-style masterclass of Coppola's The Godfather, not to mention Parts 2 & 3 as well. I also haven't seen Citizen Kane, Pulp Fiction -- ohh the list is endless. Anyway, what I did manage this weekend is to strike one of those off the list, a renowned 'classic' that is regularly at the top of a critics all-time list. Surely you've guessed by now?

Yes -- Stanley Kubrick's 1968 Sci-Fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey based on or co-incided with Arthur C Clarke's Book 'The Sentinel'. I've been wanting to see this for some time, and finally managed the two and a bit hours the other day. It is, quite simply, astonishing. It is definitely an epic, but an epic that stands alone as something totally unique. This has never been done before and nor will it ever be done again. Much of it is captivating, some of it is simply too lengthy, but in terms of creativity and context, this is awe-inspiring and leaves you with a hell of a lot to think about.

I don't really know how I'd grade it, I must admit that I do like my endings to have at least some resolve. Am I pathetic? (that was rhetorical btw) Should I challenge myself more? When films leave you thinking as much as this one (i.e. Mulholland Drive), I tend to reflect more positively after mental stimulation. There's just too much intellectual babble to admire it at the time. When I understand it, I can enjoy it. Of course, in 2001 there is a welcome break of operatic beauty, and though the effects are very outdated, there is a sense of wandering into the unknown that Kubrick manages to exert. A great film, but one I shall be thinking about incessantly in the near future.

Off to hunt summore classics down. See ya.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Rants, Rants, Rants

OK.. it's midweek, and time for a rant....

Although I'm nowhere near achieving parity between my films seen and my films reviewed I couldn't resist a rant at War of the Worlds, which I saw three weeks ago. Slow huh? Well, I managed to let it all rip yesterday as I was writing up my review. It's the featured piece for now. Safe to say I was not the film's biggest fan. Anyway -- you can view this very easily at The Film Lair as per usual.

Additionally, the Million Dollar Baby rant (which I saw a month ago, yeah, lazy I know) is coming up shortly. I'm beginning to think everybody is seeing something in Eastwood that I'm not. Or have they been brainwashed? Hmm.. in any case, this is not as good as I was expecting, just as Mystic River wasn't. Alas, it's just another film that doesn't deserve to be anywhere near the Oscar podium in any category -- oh it has its moments, but they're so few and far between. You'll see what I mean pretty soon.

After really liking 4 out of the last 5 films seen, I've been brought back down to earth, and with a bump. I'm really itching to write my Life Aquatic review because I've got a hell of a lot to rant about there. I just hope that Melinda and Melinda has a few more redeeming qualities than these three flaw-ridden flicks. Off to watch that now.

More updates coming soon. Til' then!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bring on Number 7

I've finally finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince after nine days! It was incredible, building suspense as always, but this time its final crescendo was deafening -- it really made me feel sick. Almost like an Empire Strikes Back equivalent, dark, sinister, and sets the scene perfectly for the final installment. Extraordinary.

I won't spoil it for you by saying who dies, but I will say that it's not a total surprise. A lot of it is already geared towards this conclusion. The way it's done though is testament to Miss Rowling's wonderful tempo, and riveting commentary. Apparentely, she has already wrote the ending, which I suspect will be the final showdown between Harry and Lord Voldemort. So hurry up J.K.! Write the rest! I think there's no doubt that Harry will survive through it all -- put it this way, I'd be shocked if he didn't, especially after this book.

These books have much more imagination than the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and if the Harry Potter films had as good a team behind it as the LOTR series, they would be amazing. These books are the height of the fantasy genre and will be for some time to come I'm sure.