A Best Picture Challenge

The Academy Award nominations have been announced. Now it is time for some fun.

There are 10 films nominated for Best Picture. Can you include all of their titles in one sentence? This is my attempt:

In the 127 Hours before the Inception of The King’s Speech, The Fighter learned that The Kids Are All Right because they had True Grit during Winter’s Bone when the Black Swan joined The Social Network to watch Toy Story 3.

The rules are simple: it can only be one sentence and you have to include all ten.

Ready, go!

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The 2011 Academy Award Nominations

The Oscar nominations are in!

The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper masterful period film about King George VI and his st-st-stammer scored 12 nominations. After being shut out at the Golden Globes, Joel and Ethan Coen’s revamped True Grit followed with 10 nods. The Social Network received just eight nominations, as did Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Toy Story 3 became the third animated feature nominated for Best Picture. The complete list of nominations is available here.

After The King’s Speech topped the Producer’s Guild Awards this weekend  and the Academy’s  lack of showering The Social Network with accolades, skeptics are questioning whether or not 2010’s critical darling will win big on Oscar night. (Deep breath, TSN fans. The Facebook-saga will do just fine.)

Other notable omissions are Julianne Moore for The Kids Are All Right and Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine. Their on-screen spouse (Annette Bening and Michelle Williams, respectively) both received best actress nominations. For performances that are so symbiotic, it is a shame the other half was left off the ballot.

I was also secretely hoping Barbara Hershey’s performance as the wonderfully creepy arand manic stage mother in Black Swan would score a supporting actress nomination.

Are you satisfied with the Oscar nominations? What do you see as the biggest Oscar snubs? Sound off below.

Continue reading “The 2011 Academy Award Nominations”

Review: True Grit (2010)

Time Just Gets Away From Us

Rooster Cogburn is a real son-of-a-bitch. He’s overweight, drunk, and lives by his own code.

Thanks to two widely disparate screen adaptations of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel True Grit, Marshal Cogburn is also one of the most iconic characters of the western genre. In 1969, Marshall Cogburn was portrayed by John Wayne. It was the performance that won the screen icon his lone Oscar as his career was winding down and at time when Hollywood was changing. In 2010, he is played by Jeff Bridges. After winning an Oscar for Crazy Heart last year, Bridges is experiencing a career resurgence.

John Wayne and Jeff Bridges: The two Rooster Cogburns

Both men are screen icons and they bring their own personas to the character. You cannot find two screen personas further apart than the Duke and the Dude. If anything their performances, given the respective time periods, directors, supporting cast, and script, are exactly on par. Bridges stands out because he is more of an actor than Wayne ever was. And Wayne stands out because he is the very definition of a Hollywood star.

By now the two versions of True Grit have been thoroughly discussed and dissected.  What distinguishes Joel and Ethan Coen’s adaptation of True Grit is that all the pieces – performance, script, visuals – seamlessly fit together. The Coens’ True Grit is proof that when done right the western, which was once the greatest of the Hollywood genres, can still shine above the competition. True Grit still has some of that Coen flair. It’s not as flashy or quirky as the other Coens’ movies, but it is there. Beginning with an advertising campaign that evoked the image of Johnny Cash, the Coens have made sure that this western stands out.

Hailee Steinfeld is Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl determined to avenge her father’s death. She needs a man with “true grit” to catch the coward Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) and she quite stubbornly hires the aforementioned Rooster Cogburn (Bridges). Texas Ranger LeBoeuf (Matt Damon) is also tracking Chaney and he is less than keen to be joined by a teenage girl on their hunt for Chaney. The unorthodox trio eventually catches up with Chaney who has teamed up Ned Pepper (Barry Pepper, who needs to be in more movies, stat) and his gang, leading to the showdown of all showdowns.

Steinfeld, who was 13 during filming, plays the part of precocious, stubborn yet still naive Mattie perfectly. She holds her own in scenes with Hollywood veterans Bridges, Damon, Brolin, and Pepper. You could even say that she steals scene after scene from them with the right amount of grit herself. The film is told from Mattie’s point of view and never leaves it, a that only adds to the realism that defines this True Grit. There is no sugarcoating this world; the violence is there and the film ends with on a somber note about the passing of time.

Credit for this perfect realism can almost single-handedly be given to cinematographer Roger Deakins. This is how a western should look.

Five Awesome Things About the Golden Globe Nods

The Golden Globe nominations have been announced and as always, there are hits and misses. Continue reading “Five Awesome Things About the Golden Globe Nods”

Black Swan Leads 2010 Critics Choice Nominations

Black Swan received 12 Critics Choice

Another day, more nominations and awards announcements. The New York Film Critics Circle is currently voting. Will they pick The Social Network like every other critics group?

Black Swan, meanwhile, received a record 12 nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association. True Grit and The King’s Speech received 11 nominations each, Inception received 10 and The Social Network received nine.

What is worth mentioning here is that The Kids Are All Right was nominated in four categories (Actress, Actor, Ensemble, and Original Screenplay) but not for Best Picture. Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right) and Tilda Swinton (I Am Love) are also noticeably absent from the nominations.  And despite its two lead actors being nominated, Blue Valentine did not receive a Best Picture nomination.

Like practically every other critics group, the BFCA is a decent predictor of the Academy Awards. The complete list of nominations is available here. The Critics Choice Awards are January 14 on VH1.

BEST PICTURE
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
The Town
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

BEST ACTOR
Jeff Bridges — True Grit
Robert Duvall — Get Low
Jesse Eisenberg — The Social Network
Colin Firth — The King’s Speech
James Franco — 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling — Blue Valentine

BEST ACTRESS
Annette Bening — The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman — Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence — Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman — Black Swan
Noomi Rapace — The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Michelle Williams — Blue Valentine

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale — The Fighter
Andrew Garfield — The Social Network
Jeremy Renner — The Town
Sam Rockwell — Conviction
Mark Ruffalo — The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush — The King’s Speech

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams — The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter — The King’s Speech
Mila Kunis — Black Swan
Melissa Leo — The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld — True Grit
Jacki Weaver — Animal Kingdom

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Elle Fanning — Somewhere
Jennifer Lawrence — Winter’s Bone
Chloe Grace Moretz — Let Me In
Chloe Grace Moretz — Kick-Ass
Kodi Smit-McPhee — Let Me In
Hailee Steinfeld — True Grit

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
The Town

BEST DIRECTOR
Darren Aronofsky — Black Swan
Danny Boyle — 127 Hours
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen — True Grit
David Fincher — The Social Network
Tom Hooper — The King’s Speech
Christopher Nolan — Inception

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Another Year — Mike Leigh
Black Swan — Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin
The Fighter — Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson (Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson)
Inception — Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right — Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech — David Seidler

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
127 Hours — Simon Beaufoy and Danny Boyle
The Social Network — Aaron Sorkin
The Town — Ben Affleck, Peter Craig and Sheldon Turner
Toy Story 3 — Michael Arndt (Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich)
True Grit — Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Winter’s Bone — Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Tangled
Toy Story 3

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Biutiful
I Am Love
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Restrepo
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
The Tillman Story
Waiting for Superman