Sunday, January 31, 2010

My List Of Awards For 2009

For this article, I have compiled a list of awards to honor once more what were my favorite things about the cinematic year of 2009. Feel free to share your personal favorites as well, as this will most-likely be my final reflective piece on 2009. If you haven't already, you can browse my favorite films of the year right here (more after the cut):

It's safe to say that the recent filmography of Robin Williams has been dismal at best. Compare films such as RV, Man of the Year, and License to Wed to his Oscar-winning performance in Good Will Hunting, and you'll get an idea about just how far this actor has fallen off the map. With World's Greatest Dad, Williams is given his meatiest and most ambitious role in years, and although he comes through as a performer, the film's premise turned me off from the get go. I might be the wrong person to review a film like this because many people have seemed to enjoy it, but I don't like comedies that make me feel like a bad person when I laugh, and I don't like films that want me to care about repulsive people. Watching this film was inexplicably uncomfortable.

2010 Sundance Film Festival - Blue Valentine Premiere

The Weinstein Company has just purchased one of Sundance's most highly-praised films. It is Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine, and the romantic drama stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a married couple going through a rough patch.

To read my full article, click here. To see all of my news updates for The Film Stage, click here

Friday, January 29, 2010

Movie Review: Moon (2009) - 2 1/2 stars

Moon is the feature debut of Duncan Jones, and while it does offer a glimpse into a possibly bright future, it's certainly not without its flaws. Working with a budget of only $5 million, the visual accomplishments of Jones and his crew are more than noteworthy; they're stunning in fact. However, the story gets the short end of the stick. While the sets are detailed to a remarkable degree, the script is like a bare-bones skeleton. It has an impressive ideal outline, but there is not enough meat to it.

Mo'Nique has already won a Golden Globe, an SAG Award, and many other accolades for playing Mary Jones in Precious, and it will all culminate in an Oscar win on March 7th. And she's earned it. Simply put, it's one of the most powerful supporting female performances I've ever seen. On the surface, her character is a devil of a mother. She abuses her child both physically and emotionally, she did nothing to stop her boyfriend from sexually abusing her daughter, and every day she tries to talk Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) into living off welfare instead of earning an education (more after the jump).

Michael Douglas chats with co-star Shia LeBeouf as they wait to start shooting a scene for Wall Street 2: The Money Never Sleeps

A teaser trailer has appeared online for Oliver Stone's upcoming film Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps. It is the highly-anticipated sequel to his 1987 classic Wall Street, which featured Michael Douglas in an Oscar-winning role, as well as Charlie Sheen playing the naive Bud Fox. Douglas will reprise his role as Gordon Gekko in the sequel just after he gets released from prison, while Sheen will reportedly have a small cameo.

The film also stars Shia LaBeouf as Jacob Moore, the man that is set to marry Gekko's daughter Winnie, played by Carey Mulligan (Brothers, An Education). Rounding out the terrific cast is Susan Sarandon (The Lovely Bones), Josh Brolin (Milk), and Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon).

The film is set for an April 23, 2010 release date. Watch the full teaser below: 

Considering that my film class is studying Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront this week, I thought it would be fitting to share this legendary clip from the film. Marlon Brando (playing Terry Malloy) delivers one of the most quotable monologues in the history of cinema, and Rod Steiger -- who plays his disloyal brother Charley-- matches him note-for-note. Brando won the Oscar for his performance, while Steiger had to settle for a supporting nomination. For those of you who want to see it in writing one more time, here are the famous lines that will forever define Brando's young career:

Charley: Look, kid, I - how much you weigh, son? When you weighed one hundred and sixty-eight pounds you were beautiful. You coulda been another Billy Conn, and that skunk we got you for a manager, he brought you along too fast.
Terry: It wasn't him, Charley, it was you. Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, "Kid, this ain't your night. We're going for the price on Wilson." You remember that? "This ain't your night"! My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money.
Charley: Oh I had some bets down for you. You saw some money.
Terry: You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it. It was you, Charley.

Here is the full scene:

Over the next couple of days and weeks, I will be posting reflective articles on 2009. (I wrote my "Best Films of 2009" article over the weekend, and if you missed that, you can check it out right here). These new articles will cover everything from my favorite scenes (like this one) to the best performances. Here's the first entry (after the jump):

18th Annual Empire State Pride Agenda Fall Dinner

News has just surfaced regarding the unveiling of this year's Oscar nominees. Along with AMPAS President Tom Sherak, Anne Hathaway is set to present the major nominees. Hathaway was Oscar-nominated last year for her impressive turn in Rachel Getting Married. Her upcoming films include Valentine's Day and Alice in Wonderland.

Here is the press release:
"Nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards® will be announced on Tuesday, February 2, by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak and Oscar-nominated actress and Academy member Anne Hathaway. Sherak and Hathaway will unveil the nominations in 10 of the 24 categories at a 5:30 a.m. news conference at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, where hundreds of media representatives from around the world will be gathered."
The Academy Awards will be presented on March 7th. 

Warning: The following article contains major spoilers of both Heat and Up in the Air.  

Every time I see a Jason Reitman film, I am blown away by how well his main characters are developed. His 2009 dramedy Up in the Air is no difference. I could talk about George Clooney's Ryan Bingham for days, but there is an interesting comparison that I would like to explore, and that comparison comes in the form of Robert De Niro's Neil McCauley from Michael Mann's 1995 crime saga Heat (more after the jump).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Best Films of 2009

With 2009 in the bag, it's time for me to reveal my favorite films from what was a very interesting year for the movies. I saw many very good films this past year, but only a few great ones. Although I have been a frequent movie watcher for the past several years, I started this website in 2009, and this was the first year I started writing my full-length reviews. Going back from early August until now, I'm sure you'll see that my writing has improved, and I'd like to think it will continue to improve.

Here are the films I will remember most from 2009 (after the jump):

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Recap of the 2010 SAG Awards

16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Press Room

The 2010 Screen Actors Guild Awards premiered tonight, and while Inglourious Basterds ended up being the most successful film, the biggest story of the evening for me was Sandra Bullock's Best Actress win. It's not that it surprised me a great deal -- especially after her win at the Golden Globes -- but rather it confirmed for me her status as the current Oscar front-runner. It took me quite a while to buy the buzz surrounding her performance, but her likeability, her momentum, and her delightful speech make her seem like the perfect Oscar package at this point.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt films scenes for the new movie Hesher in Van Nuys

I am not one of the lucky people who are currently attending the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, but thanks to all of their Twitter pages, I am being constantly updated on what films are making the most noise. After the first couple of days, the films I am looking forward to the most are Hesher, a dark dramedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a controversial anarchist. The character and the film are being labeled as an immediate cult hit. The other one I'm most excited about is HappyThankYouMorePlease, the directorial debut of Josh Radnor. With that in mind, here are a few videos from the people behind both of these films. 

  • To see the interview with Spencer Susser, the writer/director of Hesher, click here
  • To see the interview with "How I Met Your Mother"'s Josh Radnor, the star, writer, and director of HappyThankYouMorePlease, click here.
For more video and news updates from Sundance 2010, be sure to check out the festival's official website right here

Friday, January 22, 2010

2010 BAFTA Nominations

Avatar, An Education, and The Hurt Locker lead the bunch with eight nominations each. District 9 comes in second with seven total nominations, while Inglourious Basterds and Up in the Air receive six nods each. I will hopefully post more in-depth commentary later, but for now, let me just say that I really, really want to see Nowhere Boy.

Check out the full list of BAFTA nominees after the jump.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2010 Screen Actors Guild Predictions

The Pressroom at the 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards!

The 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards is set to take place this Saturday, January 23rd. It will be broadcast live from the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center at 8 p.m. ET on both TNT and TBS. Be sure to tune in to the show, as well as follow my Twitter page as I will be updating it live during the show.

What follows (after the jump) is the complete list of nominees, with my predicted winners bolded and highlighted in gold. The closest categories seem to be the Best Actress battle between Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock as well as Best Ensemble Cast, which looks to have three possible winners in The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, and Precious.

James Bond Casino Royale Press Conference

In a recent interview, director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Edge of Darkness) described his upcoming comic book adaptation Green Lantern as "more in the tone of Iron Man...Certainly not Batman Begins."

Read my full article over at The Film Stage and check out all of my news updates over at that website right here.

Cinetic Media Party

Just to let everyone know:

I will be doing some "guest blogging" over at The Film Stage over the course of the next couple of months. These will be strictly news updates, and I will post links whenever I finish one. All of my reviews, editorials, etc. will continue to be posted on this website. 

The first news update regards Jason Reitman producing the next project -- titled Jeff Who Lives at Home -- from the Duplass Brothers. Read the full article here

Best Picture:

1. "Avatar" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
2. "Up in the Air" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
3. "The Hurt Locker" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
4. "Inglourious Basterds" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
5. "Precious" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
6. "An Education" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
8. "Invictus" (TrailerRotten Tomatoes)
9. "A Serious Man" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
10. "The Messenger" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
11. "District 9" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
12. "Nine" (TrailerRotten Tomatoes)
13. "The Hangover" (My Review, Trailer, Rotten Tomatoes)
14. "Julie & Julia" (TrailerRotten Tomatoes)
15. "A Single Man" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
16. "Star Trek" (TrailerRotten Tomatoes)
17. "Crazy Heart" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
18. "500 Days of Summer" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
19. "Bright Star" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
20. "The Road" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
21. "The Last Station" (TrailerRotten Tomatoes)

Tom Ford is a fashion designer. In 2008, he decided to try his hand at directing. His masterful debut, called A Single Man, is an adaptation of a 1964 Christopher Isherwood novel. It should come as no surprise why Ford -- who also wrote the adapted screenplay along with David Scearce -- chose this story for his debut feature. With the entire film taking place over the course of a single day, this is an artistic vision that relies on texture and mood more than most films do. We don't have months and months to meet George Falconer, but Ford's direction, along with Firth's unbelievable lead performance, makes you feel for this character more than you ever thought you would.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Recap of the 2010 Golden Globes

The 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards took place tonight, and while I was pleased with the overall telecast, I was disappointed with many of the winners that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) felt the need to honor. Before I get into specifics, let me just start off by saying that I really enjoyed watching Ricky Gervais host this thing. He provided an edge that the show desperately needed, and although I doubt we'll see him again, I think he got in most of the shots he wanted to.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2010 Golden Globe Predictions

On the one hand, the unpredictability of this year's awards season is a welcome change, but on the other, it makes predicting these things an absolute nightmare. After a couple days of reflection, this is what I have come up with. Be sure to tune in to NBC on Sunday night at 8:00 ET to enjoy the show -- I will be tweeting live during the presentations here. Without further ado, here are my predictions for the 2010 Golden Globes (after the jump):

Friday, January 15, 2010

Terrific Teaser for 'The Company Men'

One of the more intriguing projects of 2010 is John Wells' motion picture debut The Company Men. The teaser trailer embedded below, a minute and a half montage with dialogue nowhere to be found, does a lot to peak my interest of the film. It revolves around three men trying to deal with the repercussions of corporate downsizing at a major company. Given the subject matter, I'm sure comparisons will be made to 2009's Up in the Air, although it doesn't seem this film will have the same comedic touch. 

Shot largely in Boston, MA, Wells' film stars Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Maria Bello, Chris Cooper, Craig T. Nelson, and Rosemarie DeWitt. A terrific cast it is, and I've been dying to see a follow-up performance from DeWitt after her stunning turn in Rachel Getting Married

John Wells wrote, produced, and directed this film, which does not currently have an official release date. Here's hoping we get one soon. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Movie Review: Big Fan (2009) - 3 stars

Big Fan is the directorial debut of Robert Siegel, the man who wrote The Wrestler. The story has some issues, but the film undoubtedly confirms his ability to tell intimate, uncompromising character studies. Patton Oswalt stars as Paul Aufiero, a 35-year-old parking garage attendant who -- much like Mickey Rourke's character in The Wrestler -- is a complete loner. He lives with his mother (Marcia Jean Kurtz), a old, cranky woman who reminds Paul every day of the pointlessness of his life. Paul's brother Jeff (Gino Cafarelli) is a hot shot lawyer, fresh off of making his first commercial, and everyone in his family shoves that success in his face.

Geoff Boucher over at the Los Angeles Times' "Hero Complex" blog has posted a tidbit of his interview with director Christopher Nolan. The article had a fascinating quote from Nolan that I just can't help but share with you. If this doesn't get you as jazzed for Inception as I am, then I don't know what will:

"This is the biggest challenge I’ve taken on to this point,” said Nolan, who may return to Gotham City for his next feature. “We’re trying to tell a story on a massive scale, a true blockbuster scale – the biggest I’ve ever been involved with. We tried to make a very large-scale film with ‘The Dark Knight’ and with this one we wanted to push that even further."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Is 'Boring' a Valid Form of Criticism?

A question for the readers / bloggers / film critics: When negatively critiquing a film, is saying the film is "boring" a valid way to support your opinion? Movies are, among other things, a form of entertainment, and if a movie fails to be entertaining, isn't that falling short of one of the main standards of cinema? Then again, I would think that at least some people out there would have a problem with reducing the power of movies to simply a form of entertainment. 

This question is designed to provoke conversation and debate more than anything else, so please speak up with your opinions in the comments section below. I am very interested to see what you all have to say regarding this topic.

Check out Ryan Bingham performing his original song "The Weary Kind" on the Late Show with David Letterman. It's my favorite original song of the year, and you can read up on my entire recap of that category right here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kreativ Bloggers

Something that has jumped onto the Blogger scene over the past couple of days is the "Kreativ Blogger" award, which is simply a way to recognize blogs that you respect and follow on a daily basis. Thanks to several of my readers (linked below), I have been nominated a few times for this award, and I can't say how pleased I am that people seem to be enjoying my blog so much. 

Rather than simply a way to voice your own opinion, the world of blogging is also a method to connect with other people and share and discuss ideas, and this award is a great way to expose people to new and exciting blogs. With that in mind, let's get started with the official process.

The cinematic year of 2009 will be remembered for many things, but the vast amount of impressive original songs is one thing that fascinated me throughout the year. I am a big fan of well-executed montages, and implementing the effectiveness of an original song is something that is highly underrated. Hopefully the many new songs we heard is 2009 is an indicator that this is an asset more and more filmmakers will try to take advantage of. 

It's a shame that the Academy's rules in this category are so picky because several of the year's best have been eliminated from Oscar contention, most notably Sad Brad Smith's "Help Yourself" from Up in the Air. It's a beautiful acoustic melody that plays over the film's important wedding sequence. The powerful melancholy tone might make it something that you don't want to listen to on a daily basis, but within the context of the film, it works to perfection. Considering how much work Jason Reitman puts into the music of his films, it should come as no surprise that he found this gem.

One of the more widely-anticipated movies of 2010 comes in the form of Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass. Vaughn has been more successful as a producer than a director thus far, but this film looks like it could be his most ambitious effort to date. Aaron Johnson stars as a high school misfit named Dave Lizewski. Dave is an avid comic book reader and becomes inspired to the point where he decides to becomes a superhero himself. 

A solid supporting cast surrounds Johnson, including Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Chloe Moretz, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. The film is based upon the comic book written by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. Check out the trailer below or in HD over at Apple

Kick-Ass will be released on April 16, 2010. 

Michael Cera is one of the more interesting actors working today. He has a vast body of work that includes Superbad, Juno, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and his newest film, Youth in Revolt. As impressive as his list of films is, the range of his characters isn't. He has consistently been cast as the nervous, sexually-awkward, socially-challenged teenager. This would be something to complain about if it didn't always work. There is nothing unpleasant about watching him finesse these roles year after year. Now I don't know if Cera is a special actor. I don't know if he will have this kind of success as he gets older. But I do know that this is a smart actor. He knows what projects are good for him, and that's an underrated trait in the world of acting.

A trailer for Joe Carnahan's The A-Team has made its way online. The film is based on a television series of the same name that ran from 1983-1987. This updated version will switch the location from Vietnam to the Middle East. The noteworthy cast includes Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Jessica Biel, and Patrick Wilson. 

The film is produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, Jules Daly, as well as the television series creator Stephen J. Cannell. The film will be released on June 11, 2010.

Best Picture:

1. "Up in the Air" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
2. "Avatar" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
3. "The Hurt Locker" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
4. "Inglourious Basterds" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
5. "Precious" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
6. "Invictus" (TrailerRotten Tomatoes)
7. "An Education" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
9. "A Serious Man" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
10. "The Messenger" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
11. "District 9" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
12. "Nine" (TrailerRotten Tomatoes)
13. "Bright Star" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
14. "A Single Man" (TrailerRotten Tomatoes)
15. "Crazy Heart" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
16. "500 Days of Summer" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
17. "Julie & Julia" (TrailerRotten Tomatoes)
18. "Star Trek" (TrailerRotten Tomatoes)
19. "The Road" (My ReviewTrailerRotten Tomatoes)
20. "The Lovely Bones" (TrailerRotten Tomatoes)
21. "The Last Station" (TrailerRotten Tomatoes)

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