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Wally Pfister Wins the ASC for “Inception”

February 14, 2011 Leave a comment

One of the two major guilds left to announce their winners has made their decision. The American Society of Cinematographers awarded Wally Pfister last night for his outstanding work on “Inception.” Pfister is a longtime (and by longtime you could say career) collaborator with writer/director Christopher Nolan. The pair have worked together as director and DP for six films thus far. Out of those, Pfister has netted three ASC nods, as well as four Oscar nominations, and now his first ASC victory. Not a terrible track record.

While Roger Deakins is much more overdue for an Oscar victory, and despite this win, I am still predicting him, I do not feel about this victory in the least. Pfister is one incredibly talented gentleman. It’s hard to imagine Christopher Nolan being considered anywhere near the visual genius that he is without the help of his brilliant cinematographer. And with “Inception,” he produces some of the most imagery of his career.

In terms of the Oscar race, I don’t think that this changes much. While Pfister still remains the biggest competition, I believe that the statue is still Roger Deakins’ to lose. While both are talented DPs, Pfister hasn’t half the gorgeous career that Deakins has. With nine nominations under his belt and no victories yet, it’s hard to imagine this not being his year. And while he has yet to win an Oscar, Deakins has already taken two ASC awards for “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” as well as being awarded the lifetime achievement, last night.  It’s hard to imagine them giving him both awards in the same night.

Next up, the American Cinema Editors which should announce by this weekend.

 

Arcade Fire and Muse Win at The Grammys!

February 14, 2011 1 comment

Okay, I know that this is a film site, and normally, I could give a flying crap about the Grammy Awards. Not exactly my cup of tea. However, I just had to post this in congratulations. I’d say that I have about a three-way tie for what I would call my favorite band, and tonight two of those bands took home big awards. Muse won Best Rock Album and The Arcade Fire somehow managed to take down BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR, beating out much more popular (and dare I say unimpressive) artists Lady Antebellum, Eminem, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. What a hell of a great night.

Muse fans aren’t that hard to come by anymore, but if you haven’t heard any of Arcade Fire’s three CDs, then you should do yourself a favor and listen to them, now. I’ve provided a couple of videos to make the job easier.

This is one of my personal favorites from their 2nd CD, “Neon Bible”:

And here is a song off of their now Grammy Award-winning album “The Suburbs”:

All right. Now back to movies.

NEW – X-Men: First Class Trailer

February 10, 2011 2 comments

Okay, I know it feels like this site is simply turning into a website for trailers, but what can I say? They pump me up. Now while the last two X-Men installments left a terrible taste in my mouth, I am excited for this one for a simple reason: Michael Fassbender. This dude is perhaps one of the most exciting up-and-comers in the industry. I simply cannot get enough of him, from his scene-stealing performance as the undercover British major in “Inglourious Basterds” to his award-winning turn as an Irish hunger striker in “Hunger.” He is a sight to behold on the screen, and how he gets to chew it up as a young Magneto. It’s also worth noting that the highly talented, and even more highly gorgeous Jennifer Lawrence will have a role in this, as well.

We’ll see if this film will pull its weight as well as the first two films did. View the new trailer, below:

NEW “Trust” Trailer

February 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Little do people know that David Schwimmer, best known for his role as Ross on TV’s “Friends, is more than just a geeky/charming actor in sitcoms. He spends a lot of time acting and directing for the Chicago theater district, and most recently, adding his creative touch behind the camera as well. His new film, “Trust,” has been working the festival circuit for months now and is getting ready for its release to the general public. This is following yet another ratings battle with the MPAA. Schwimmer fought as hard as he could for a PG-13 rating, but could not get anything below an R. Considering the film’s subject matter, it’s hard to imagine anything less.

The plot revolves around a teenage girl who is tricked via the internet and then seduced, photographed and raped by a middle-aged man. Sounds very PG-13esque, no? The parents of the girl then must face the consequences and aftermath and try to pick up the pieces of their shattered family. The film does not look like one for the faint of heart, seeing that Schwimmer does not seem to sugarcoat the realities of the film. However, I’m more than a little intrigued to see how this movie plays out/ Having Clive Owen and Catherine Keener in the lead, with supporting performances by Viola Davis, Noah Emmerich and Tom McCarthy, doesn’t hurt. I believe that Clive Owen is one of the most exciting actors working in cinema today. When he picks up the right role, he can be absolutely brilliant and electrifying to watch. And after seeing this, I believe that this might be his meatiest role since “Children of Men.” Can’t wait to find out.

Check out the new trailer, below:

Academy Award Nominee Luncheon

February 8, 2011 Leave a comment

For those of you who don’t know, every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences holds a special luncheon for all of the nominees. They get together, pose for pictures, answer questions, eat food and congratulate each other on how awesome they are (which, let’s face it, some of them are). Every year they all pose for a big group picture. I always love to set aside a few minutes and take a long look at it, examining who’s who, who’s there, who’s looking the happiest to be there, and hopefully one day, finding Waldo.

Looking it over this time, I can’t help but notice that David Fincher isn’t here. I understand that’s he’s busy in Sweden filming the remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” but he’s got to put a little more spirit into this thing. As Steve Pond noted, “The Social Network” might have a much better chance at winning should Fincher act as though he actually wants it. This is probably the best movie you’ll ever make, David. Try and act like you’re proud of it.

Click on the photo above to see the ultra-high resolution version and look for your favorites.

Best Super Bowl Movie Previews

February 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m not always a loyal Super Bowl watcher, but for this time around, I had an even greater sense of malaise towards it than normal. I live in Chicago and grew up in Cleveland. Therefore, seeing the arch rivals of both of my teams battle it out wasn’t exactly generating any huge interest in my mind. No matter who won, I would be pissed. Therefore, I found my refuge in the ads of the night, in particular, the film previews.

Aside from “Battle: Los Angeles” (which I’ve already posted quite a bit of footage for, already), there were three teasers that I had me pretty stoked. “Cowboys vs. Aliens” upped their amount of footage on display from the teaser released last year. Still looks as fun as ever. We also got our first look at J.J. Abrams incredibly secret project “Super 8.” The film literally looks like a direct crossover between “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” and “The Iron Giant,” and that’s not a bad get. Having Steven Spielberg’s name plastered on it didn’t alter that perception.

However, there was one teaser that absolutely stood above the rest. Unbelievably, and I mean UNBELIEVABLY, it is “Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon.” Let’s face it, that spot was awesome. Maybe it was the press release a few weeks back in which Michael Bay, himself, admitted that “Revenge of the Fallen” was a giant turd and he promised that this one would get it right. Maybe it’s the news that “The Dark Knight Rises” production might be pulling completely out of Chicago and it was amazing to see the second city featured so strongly in a film. Maybe it’s the fact that my girlfriend and about twenty of my friends worked on the film. Whatever it is, I have surprisingly, and possibly shamefully, become incredibly excited for this film. God help us all.

Check out the spots for all 3 films below:

Does “The Social Network” Still Have a Chance?

February 5, 2011 Leave a comment

I recently read an article written by Steve Pond over at The Wrap, who is in the same boat as 95% of awards pundits in believing that this race is pretty much called for “The King’s Speech.” However, he outlines that there still are some outs left for “The Social Network,” particularly if it changes and ups its campaign in these last few weeks.

The film is having a great weekend, having won the USC Scripter Award last night and all but locked to win the WGA award for Best Adapted Screenplay tonight. What’s better for it is that since “The King’s Speech” wasn’t eligible for the WGA awards (even though its the best bet to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay), it will be a weekend in which “The King’s Speech” will actually be out of the news.

Pond’s article makes some good points. I’ve highlighted a small section of it below where he discusses how “The Social Network” might have a shot in the balloting:

“The question that’ll face “The Social Network” on Sunday morning is whether it can capitalize on the small shot of momentum that comes from a pair of expected victories – and if so, how.

Columnists have been offering scenarios in recent days, ranging from S.T. Van Airsdale’s suggestion that David Fincher show that he actually wants the award to John Lopez’s theorythat the preferential system of ballot-counting – in which a film can win if it picks up enough number two and three votes from movies that are eliminated from contention – will help a critical favorite like “TSN.”

In fact, I’d guess that the preferential count will help “TKS” or even “The Fighter” or “Toy Story 3” more than “TSN.” The question to ask: among voters whose first choices are “Winter’s Bone,” “127 Hours,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “Inception” and “True Grit,” which film is likely to be ranked second? If the majority of those voters go for “Social Network,” it can pull off an upset; if they split their votes or rally behind something else, the Facebook flick is in trouble.”

You can read the full article here. And here’s to holding out hope:

First Oscar Winner Predictions

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s time for phase 2, ladies and gentleman. Things aren’t going as well as I would have liked, but they almost never do. As Sasha Stone at Awardsdaily quotes “All the President’s Men,” in regards to the Oscar race, “The trick is not minding.” You’ve got to roll with the punches and accept that even if the deserving film doesn’t win, hopefully your predictions are still right. Therefore, at least your pride is still intact.

I have “The King’s Speech” down for the big win, sadly. Maybe later on, if there’s a potential change in vibe, I might make an alteration back. But for now, one has to put the money where the money’s gonna win. I have, meanwhile, kept David Fincher in the frontrunner position for Best Director. I simply cannot imagine a world in which Tom Hooper wins that trophy from him. It’s simply unnatural that the Academy could be that ridiculous.

You can pretty much take all of the acting wins to the bank. Melissa Leo is the only one who’s kind of flimsy, at this point, but I have a feeling her age and fantastic personality will help her beat out the unworthy newcomer.

Going over this, it still boggles me that Lee Smith missed an editing nomination for “Inception.” It really makes no sense. I have the “The Social Network” down, and my God, it deserves it. Yet, the nomination feels flimsy, and yet I can’t figure out what could possibly take it down.

With that, here are my first winner predictions for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, complete with all of the nominees ranked in order of their chances. I will keep them posted and, hopefully, updated in the “PREDICTIONS” tab at the top of the homepage.

Click “Read More” to see the full list and tally.

BEST PICTURE
1. “The King’s Speech”
2. “The Social Network”
3. “The Fighter”
4. “True Grit”
5. “Black Swan”
6. “Toy Story 3”
7. “Inception”
8. “127 Hours”
9. “Winter’s Bone”
10. “The Kids Are All Right”

Read more…

FYC Roger Deakins – “True Grit”

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

So, I’m not the biggest fan of this film. I’m not even sure if Roger Deakins will top my list of Best Cinematography of 2010. One thing’s for sure, however. Roger Deakins is probably one of the top five greatest cinematographers of all time and easily the best DP to never win an Oscar. His career first took off after shooting the independent feature “Sid and Nancy” which also launched Gary Oldman’s career. After taking the role of the Coen Brothers’ official DP, his talents went straight to the top of the list.

On top of his NINE Oscar nominations, including “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Fargo,” “O Brother Where Art Thou,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (the first three of which earned him wins from my personal awards), Deakins also did phenomenal work on “Revolutionary Road” “Dead Man Walking” and the visually astounding “Jarhead.” His work has had a truly lasting impact on the contemporary world of cinema, and from a film student’s perspective, there are not many people in today’s film industry who are more admired and revered.

When asked how he felt about receiving the American Society of Cinematographers’ Lifetime Achievement Award this month, he said he was slightly disappointed. He states that he likes to think of his career only halfway over and hopes to still do better work in the future. One can only hope that Roger keeps creating incredible visuals until the day he dies. But in the meantime, can we please just give the man an Oscar, already?

Check out this short video showing Roger Deakins work on the film “True Grit,” for which, if there’s any justice in the world, he will finally bring home a statue for:

The DGA and the SAG: Now It’s Time to Vent…

February 1, 2011 1 comment

Well folks, Tom Hooper has just won the DGA and the cast he directed took home Best Ensemble at the SAG. Coupled with the PGA win last week, “The King’s Speech” has now emerged as not only the frontrunner, but pretty much the inevitable winner of the Best Picture award at the Oscars. As this film has picked up speed in the last few weeks, I’ve tried to keep an open mind. I’ve tried to tell myself that this kind of healthy competition will make for a better Oscars and would make “The Social Network”‘s eventual victory all the more sweet. However, now that the race has shifted from a neck and neck dogfight to a potential sweep for “The King’s Speech,” it has become impossible to suppress my rage.

This situation is, more or less, a travesty for American cinema. For the last half of the previous decade, the AMPAS showed that they had the potential to change with the times. By awarding films like “The Departed,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “The Hurt Locker,” the Academy has proven that they have the ability to not only award phenomenal films, but ones that represent a shift in the balance of power. These are films that show a new Hollywood, emerging from the ashes, making art for a new generation and ultimately changing movies for the better. With “The Social Network,” the AMPAS were given an opportunity to crystalize this new reputation by awarding not only the best movie of the year, but one that is an absolute game-changer in the world of filmmaking. Instead, they are willing to flush it all down the drain.

“The King’s Speech” is not a bad film. It is simply a good film. It has good acting, good writing, good direction, good production quality and good music. In case you haven’t noticed, “good” is the key word, here. I don’t think there is a single aspect of this film that achieves a level of “greatness.” It is an iconic example of middle-of-the-road filmmaking, directed straight at a block of people yearning for that warm and fuzzy feeling in their stomachs. It’s “triumph of the human spirit” pornography. More than anything else, however, it is straight-up Oscar fodder, and they are eating it up, hook, line and sinker. They’re all too willing to vote their souls away for a chance to award this heart-warming work of mediocrity.

“The Social Network” is the best film of the year. Even if people’s opinions cannot agree with or grasp this concept, the title still pretty much remains the same. Never in history has a film garnered so much recognition and awards. Never has the population of this nation’s film critics solidified so strong and unanimous an opinion about a single film. However, it’s more than just a critical tally or mantlepiece full of statues. This is a film that resonates so strongly with this societal climate, much in the same way did “Network” in 1976, “Bonnie and Clyde” in 1967, and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” in 1939. When looking down the road, it is a film that will be remembered, not only for it’s cultural impact, but for the flawless nature of its filmmaking prowess. And since I am one such person who can actually make this statement from a position of age and experience (I started college only a year after “The Facebook” was created, back when it was just a college thing), this is, in fact, the movie that defines my generation.

The Academy Award is called that for one reason: it is awarded upon the voted decision of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It’s their award and they can technically do whatever they want with it. However, I really have to ask just what the hell is wrong with these people? Are they really that much an organization of pure saps? Are they really that cynical that they would deliberately snub the frontrunner for an inferior underdog just because their sick of the unanimous praise? Have they really not gotten tired of having Harvey Weinstein’s lips wrapped around their you-know-whats?Can they really not look beyond four weeks from now and consider what history will judge as the more educated and lasting decision? Most importantly, has the Academy really gone back to its old ways? God, let us hope not.

So is the race over? The answer is no. Even when things get to their bleakest point of flat-out certainty, the race is never over until the last envelope is opened. However, it’s really not looking good for David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s masterpiece. With the combined weight of the SAG, PGA, and DGA, anyone who has spent any time in the industry of awards prognostication would be a fool to not call it for “The King’s Speech.” After all, the actors and producers, put together, make up nearly half of the Academy’s voting block. Hope is not lost, completely, but I would now peg “The Social Network”‘s chances at around twenty to twenty-five percent.

At points like these, one can only find comfort by constantly reminding themselves of the most important lesson the awards season has ever taught us: as many fantastic films have won the Oscar for Best Picture, there are exponentially more amazing films that have lost it. “The Social Network” may soon join the ranks of films like “Fargo” and “Saving Private Ryan,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Goodfellas,” “Raging Bull” and “Apocalypse Now,” “Taxi Driver” and “All the President’s Men,” “Chinatown,” and “Jaws,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?” and “The Graduate,” “Vertigo” and “Rear Window,” “Double Indemnity,” and, yes, “Citizen Kane.” Coupled with the movies I mentioned previously in this article, this is not exactly bad company to be kept with. However, if you listen very closely, you can clearly hear Orson Welles rolling over in his grave, that after seventy years of history, lessons have yet to be learned.