Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pre and Post Oscar Commentary

Everyone who knows me has seen that I can get a little excited on Oscar night. I've been known to throw parties and Oscar pools. Well with three hours until go live I thought I would add my comments about who I think will win and who I think should win. I will admit upfront that I have not seen every picture and performance nominated. There are films and stars in the acting category that I had no interest seeing. So save your criticism of my picks, I openly admit that I have stayed clear of the the Annette Bening performance. BTW, excuse the look of this post as I am experimenting with emailing in my post to see how it automatically translates into the website.
Getting down to business.
My first comment is that there are too many best picture nominees. I guess the Academy did not want to snub anyone this time.

Inception: Because of the passage of time people are going to forget how mind-blowing this movie was. The story line and visuals were numbing. If effort translated into success this movie is perhaps most deserving.
The Fighter: Inspirational, well acted and a great true story. Its hard to find any weaknesses in this film.
Black Swan: Nice suspense piece filmed in a Polanski style, hijacked by an amazing performance from Portman.
The King's Speech: A beautiful thing to listen to and solidly supported with two great performances from Firth and Rush. It was something special to hang on every word out of these two reserved stars. To make it accessible the director (Hooper) gave us a fine balance of background scenes to explain the character conflict to the tutoring scenes that we all waited for.
127 Hours: I sadly will not get to see this before the awards. I did see the opening sequences and loved the unique story telling style. I have heard great things about Franco's performance and I am not surprised as he has hit the mark in everything that I have seen him in.
True Grit: Uninspiring and held together with two great performances from Bridges and the young Hailee Steinfeld.
The Social Network: Really well written, acted and entertaining. See my earlier review. I would be quite satisfied to see this win, but I suspect that because of the fine script it will instead get the adapted screenplay award thus permitting the more artsy The King's Speech to claim the top prize.

Verdict: The King's Speech will win however for all around accessibility The Fighter or The Social Network should win.
Best Actor: Bridges or Firth? I will fall out of my chair if Franco wins, although I understand he should get serious consideration.
Verdict: From what I witnessed Firth deserves it and I am guessing he will. With The King's speech being a favourite for best picture, it should weakens his chances a bit as the alternative True Grit will be shut out otherwise. Unless..... the Academy pulls off a big surprise and gives best supporting actress to Steinfeld (ala Tatum O'Neal and Ana Paquin) which all but would ensure that Firth gets the nod.
Male Supporting Role: This is between Geoffrey Rush and Christian Bale. Love both of these guys. Arguably either of these two would have won best actor if the Academy had the foresight to put them in the category. When either of these two are on the screen they steal the spotlight. Thus I think the Lead leabel should follow. Bale will have many more chances to win Oscars, yet Rush has already won his.
Verdict: Bale should and will win.
Best Actress: No competition, Natalie Portman gave the farthest reaching performance in any category.
Best Supporting Actress: Some good performances here but no one took the roof off. I believe this is between Amy Adams and Hailee Steinfeld. I would argue that Steinfeld had a leading role in True Grit. And for that reason I think she should win. Adams on the other hand has been nominated before and is a great actress. She may have other chances, but I don't believe the Academy is brave enough to stay away from her.
Verdict: Adams will win, Steinfeld should win.
Now for the other categories that I care about.
Best Director: This is a tough tough category. All but the Coen brothers are deserving. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of the Coen brothers, but True Grit is a bit uninspiring. As a fan, I would love for Fincher to upset everyone, however I believe that this is between Tom Hooper and David O. Russell. Tom Hooper managed the power house of Firth/Rush scenes, while Russell had a much bigger cast and fight scenes to stage.
Verdict: Russell should and will win.
Outrage: I am stunned that Christopher Nolan has been neglected again. The ability necessary to pull off a visual masterpiece like Inception is immeasurable. And lets not forget that Inception was more than just a visual spectacle. He wasn't even nominated for his resurrection of the Batman franchise. Even James Cameron get more respect from this.
Film Editing: Just kidding this is not a big category for me, but I have to mention that Inception got snubbed here. If you see the list you'll wonder what the Academy was thinking.
All the visual and technical categories should go to Inception, but they will almost certainly not. I won't be surprised if Inception even gets shut out. See Nolan curse/boycott above.
Now I like to mention the writing categories as I often feel these categories do not get the respect they deserve.
Adapted Screenplay: I will be quite perturbed if Aaron Sorkin doesn't win this category. I strongly believe that it was his cerebral writing that lured audiences to this movie. Sure the Facebook phenomenon helped open the doors, but people spread the word because they felt smart going to this movie. Lets face it sharp dialogue like this doesn't often draw audiences, so hats off to Facebook for bringing Sorkin into the mainstream.
Original Screenplay: There are three deserving stories here. The Fighter, The King's Speech and Inception. Both The Fighter and Inception are story driven. My experience is that dialogue driven movies get the nod.
Verdict: The King's Speech should and will win. However, if The Kids Are Alright gets shut out in other categories, I could see the Academy throwing the audiences who liked this movie a bone.

Stay tuned to my post show remarks.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards

Once again I was either indifferent in most categories or praying for what I thought was the only obvious option in each category. And in all the cases but one I found myself totally unsatisfied with the winner. However, this year's Grammys totally redeemed themselves with that last Award. See my highlights.

In my opinion these are the Highlights:
Performances by:
Believe it or not the Justin Bieber/Usher performance was pretty good. Apparently a Canadian can make it.
Dylan, with the Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons. A reminder that the Grammys is sometimes about the music.
Eminen. Yes that's right I like him.

And for the last award of the night, Canadian group arcade Fire took home best album for their 2010 album The Suburbs. This is a brave move by the Academy, as I am guessing that a bunch of people in the room have never heard of them. Clearly it deserved the reward and thank god some people with taste gave it a listen.

Are you kidding me moments:
Train winning Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals. Not that the competition was tough, but their performance might not even be the best one that I heard while on a train.
Song of the Year going to Need You Now by Lady Antebellum.
Highlight if I had dropped acid earlier in the night:
Cee Lo Green, Gwyneth Paltrow and a bunch of Muppets singing F---You.

Surprise of the night:

Best New Artist: Although Esperanza Spalding is clearly more talented then Bieber, I can't help but think that if this kid is not just a flash in the pan and he grows into an artist of significance, the Academy may look back and say what were we thinking for snubbing him. Think back to Elvis Costello's Best New Artist loss (we hardly knew ye, long-forgotten disco band A Taste of Honey). OK , he's not Elvis Costello but its unlikely we will remember Esperanza in years to come as her style will more than likely keep her clear of the mainstream. But like I said early, sometimes its just about the music and Spalding is at this time better at her craft.

Functional Dysfunction

I smell Oscar (male supporting) for Christian Bale. Just look at him, he kills himself for every role. He really steals every scene he is in. Yet The Fighter, in all its parts, works very well. Wahlberg's commitment as a fighter (Micky Ward) from the wrong side of the tracks is only outweighed by his family loyalty. To think this is a true story only added to my buy-in. It was also nice to know that as the story and his fight results are based on fact I was not victim to the cornball Hollywood ending. More to come as I watch all the Oscar hopefuls.