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Boston Society of Film Critics Announces Winners – LIVE

December 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Well I’m stuck at AMC River East waiting for TGWTDT passes to be issued so I’m gonna be doing some mobile blogging. This should be interesting.

The BSFC winners are as follows:

BEST PICTURE: “The Artist”
runner-up: “Hugo” and “Margaret”

BEST DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese – “Hugo”
runner-up: Michael Hazavanicius – “The Artist”

BEST ACTOR: Brad Pitt – “Moneyball”
runner-up: George Clooney – “The Descendants” AND Michael Fassbender – “Shame”

BEST ACTRESS: Michelle Williams – “My Week with Marilyn”
runner-up: ?

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Albert Brooks – “Drive”
runner-up: ?

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Melissa McCarthy – “Bridesmaids”
runner-up: Jeannie Berlin – “Margaret”

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST: “Carnage”
runner-up: “Margaret”

BEST SCREENPLAY: “Moneyball” by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zallian
runner-up: “Margaret” by Kenneth Lonergan

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: “The Tree of Life”
runner-up: “Hugo”

BEST EDITING: “The Clock” wtf??
runner-up: “Hugo”

BEST USE OF MUSIC: TIE: “The Artist” and “Drive”
Runner-Up: “The Descendants”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: “Project Nim”
runner-up: “Bill Cunningham: New York”

BEST NEW FILMMAKER Sean Durkin for “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
runner up: JC Chandor for “Margin Call”

15 Finalists for Best Visual Effects Category

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Just as it did with Best Documentary, and likely will do for Best Makeup, the Academy has shortlisted a selection of 15 finalists that will go on to compete for nominations in the Best Visual Effects category. Unlike last year, in which this category was gift-wrapped for “Inception” from the moment the flick appeared in theaters, 2011 features an assortment of talent that will likely produce some actual competition for the gold.

The following films are on the VFX shortlist:

“Captain America: The First Avenger”
“Cowboys & Aliens”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″
“Hugo”
“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”
“Real Steel”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”
“Sucker Punch”
“Super 8″
“Thor”
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
“The Tree of Life”
“X-Men: First Class”

While the field is more competitive this year, it’s difficult not to give frontrunner status to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Not only did the quality of the film itself utterly drive over everyone’s expectations, but the visual effects are quite astounding. While most buzz around this film is directed towards Andy Serkis’ fine performance, folks can’t forget that he was only half responsible for the character of Ceasar. If the VFX hadn’t been spot on, the film never would have been held in such high esteem.

Perhaps “Apes” biggest competition comes from a duo of films that I have chosen to call the attack of the “H”s, if only for my own amusement. The Harry Potter franchise has already been nominated in this category twice before (while many probably believe that number should be greater). There might be a bit of overdue status surrounding “Deathly Hollows: Part 2” and many voters may find this the best place to honor it. Mostly because the film’s other competitive category of Art Direction will likely get taken down by the other “H” that is Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo.” The 3D effect-ridden world of said film may sway voters towards a win, but people may see through the CGI and remember only the design of it all.

 

One film that I finally viewed recently and really hope makes a splash here is “X-Men: First Class” only the mutant effects, but practically everything featured in the film’s final thirty minutes is more than deserving of a nomination. It will have a tough time outing any of the category’s big guns, though.

From this list, I’d say that the field will probably look something like this:

1. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
2. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2”
3. “Hugo”
4. “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
5. “Super 8”

Alt 1: “X-Men:  First Class”
Alt 2: “Real Steel”

Peter Travers’ and Richard Corliss’ Top Ten Lists of 2011

December 7, 2011 Leave a comment

I know I said something of similar proportions last year, but I’ll say it again. Peter Travers is a phenomenal film critic. Not just in his taste, but more specifically his writing quality. How else would he survive over twenty years as the chief film critic for one of the country’s most legendary and savvy entertainment news magazines?

And yet, again, Travers has issued us a year-end list that,  that while full of good films, is the most unexciting, safest and downright generic offerings one could possibly find. I mean this comes from a man who sees more movies annually then there are days in the year. And yet, every year, his list somehow magically mirrors the Oscar nominees for Best Picture by a margin of one or two. Coincidence?

Gotta give credit to the man for his ballsy choice of “Drive” at the top spot. I’m not even much a fan of the film, but for a list as plain-jane as this one, “Drive” is definitely its diciest facet.

Travers’ List

1. “Drive”
2. “The Artist”
3. “The Descendants”
4. “Moneyball”
5. “Midnight in Paris”
6. “Hugo”
7. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
8. “Margin Call”
9. “The Tree of Life”
10. “War Horse”, “The Help”, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”

Meanwhile, Richard Corliss of TIME Magazine has issued a list that’s horrible in completely different ways. Where Travers’ suffered from a lack of creativity, the TIME reporter’s list suffers from just straight-up bad taste. Yes, at least it differs from the run-of-the-mill choices of Rolling Stone, but naming “Fast Five” among the ten best films of the year makes me question how a man like that even operates this kind of gig? I mean is he kidding? This list reminds me of my own taste in movies when I was about twelve or thirteen.

Corliss:

1. The Artist
2. Hugo
3. Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
4. The Tree of Life
5. War Horse
6. Super 8
7. Cave of Forgotten Dreams
8. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
9. Rango
10. Fast Five

Hopefully, as more lists come out we’ll see some depth, creativity and flair. All try to update you if anything along those lines surfaces.

“2011 Portfolio” Montage

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Oh, how much I love a good montage. They really are the central core of my happiness every once in a while. That’s another reason why I love this time of year, when some young whiz with Final Cut Pro creates a montage of all the films of the past year. I’m not gonna lie, this has got to be one of the best that I’ve ever seen. Credit given to the folks at Awardsdaily for finding this gem. Even though it runs a little long and is a little too action-oriented at times, it honestly makes me wonder why I seem to have such a disdain for this year in film (which has been growing in my mind as of late). In particular, it makes me wish that I hadn’t missed “Like Crazy” when it played only a couple of blocks from where I live.

The montage goes through five rounds of music and never seems to get boring or repetitive. Perhaps the only thing I bemoan is the amount of illegally downloaded content might have been achieved for the success of this. Hopefully, I’m mistaken.

Regardless, enjoy this fantastic montage. It makes even the bad movies look pretty damned fantastic.

Washington D.C. Film Critics Winners

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Like I said, before: early and without warning. Well, the winners were a bit more dispersed and shared than I had imagined. “The Artist” and “The Descendants” were the leaders with two wins apiece, with the former taking down Best Picture. Scorsese made a somewhat surprising takedown of Best Director. I must say that this is the first time in my prognosticating career that I’m disappointed about my fourth favorite director receiving accolades.

George Clooney and Albert Brooks each earn their second wins of the season, respectively. Meanwhile, Michelle Williams and Octavia Spencer each grab the first of probably many, especially for the latter. Spencer’s performance is the very definition of a standout and I hope those honors keep rolling in for her.

The most notable mention here, I have to say, is “50/50” taking down another Best Original Screenplay award. At first, I thought it was just the NBR being the NBR. But for the film to keep beating out such heavy competition as “The Artist” and “Midnight in Paris” (I mean we’re talking about Woody Allen, here, for probably his most popular film since “Crimes and Misdemeanors”), it might be moving up in the field. It’s enough for it to slide into my current predictions and make me regret not catching it in theaters. We’ll see. The proverbial night is young.

Here’s the full list of winners:

Best Picture: “The Artist”

Best Director: Martin Scorsese – “Hugo”

Best Actor: George Clooney – “The Descendants”

Best Actress: Michelle Williams – “My Week with Marilyn”

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks – “Drive”

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer – “The Help”

Best Adapted Screenplay: “The Descendants”

Best Original Screenplay: “50/50”

Best Art Direction: “Hugo”

Best Cinematography: “The Tree of Life”

Best Score: “The Artist”

Best Animated Feature: “Rango”

Best Documentary Feature: “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”

Best Foreign Language Film: “The Skin I Live In”

Updated Oscar Predictions – 12/5

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Thought I’d throw these up real quick before anything has the chance to further throw things off track. With so much going on, it’s almost impossible to do this without live prediction updates with every new announcement. Yet, it’s important to remember that many of the announcements, while notable, are not intensively significant in terms of the Oscar season. When predicting at this point, you almost have to just stick your finger up and see where the wind is blowing.

There are two films that have certainly positioned themselves at the head of the field, and it’s not like we weren’t already aware. “The Descendants” and “The Artist” have dominated the majority of awards announcements thus far and are not likely to stop.”Moneyball” and “The Tree of Life” have definitely shown their still in the game, while “Hugo” has emerged as a candidate and potential frontrunner.

While the guilds will largely decide its fate, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” has yet to receive any notice at all. Neither, to some extent, has “War Horse,” yet Mr. Spielberg’s film is far from leaving contention. Meanwhile, “The Girl with Dragon Tattoo” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” remain shrouded in a fair amount of mystery.

Remember, that while I hope that these predictions are a bit more relevant than my last, things are going to get blown wide open in about ten days when we have the results of the BFCA, the SAG and the Golden Globe nominations. Therefore, enjoy these while they last. Things are about to get messy.

Check out my full list of predictions after the cut:

BEST PICTURE

1. “The Artist”
2. “The Descendants”
3. “War Horse”
4. “Hugo”
5. “Moneyball”
6. “The Help”
7. “Midnight in Paris”
8. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
9. “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
10. “The Tree of Life”

Alt 1: “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”
Alt 2: “Shame”

Read more…

Washington D.C. Film Critics Announce Nominees

December 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I had a feeling that these guys were going to stick their heads up this week. They have a tendency of announcing early and without warning. While the results of their voting is apparently still being tallied and the winners will be announced on Monday, we can take a look at the nominees right now.

Well, there’s not much question as far as what film will likely go all the way here, and that is the emerging critical darling “The Artist.” The film received eight nominations, practically in every category that it was eligible. “Hugo” comes in second with six nominations, continuing to baffle me. I’m sure that I’m going to be saying that a lot this awards season.

The overrated, but still exceptionally cool, “Drive” picked up four nominations, including one for it’s phenomenal director Nicholas Wending Refn. “The Descendants” also continued its string of love with five nominations. Octavia Spencer receives her first of what I’m sure will be a long string of nominations for her work in “The Help,” likewise for Viola Davis. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing both of those ladies with gold in their hands come Oscar night.

A surprisingly absent film from these nods is a little title about a war and a horse. Not sure if you’ve heard of it. For a critics group that largely trends towards the Oscars, it’s highly unusual to find Mr. Spielberg’s latest largely vacant from these nominations. True it picked up a few tech nods, yet this film is believed by many to potentially be the nomination leader next month. One can’t say that the group has a beef with the director, either, for they were the first and one of the only to award “Munich” Best Picture back in 2005.

The big story here is Tom McCarthy’s “Win Win” picking up a nomination for Best Picture, beating out the above mentioned “War Horse” and a number of others. Quite a coup for this little delight of a film. Yet, as intriguing as this nomination is, I doubt it will pan out much for the rest of the year, at least in terms of Best Picture. However, a screenplay nomination for McCarthy is becoming more and more likely.

Some underdog victories abound here that are worth mentioning. Michael Shannon asserts himself as a certifiable contender, getting a nod for his fantastic work in “Take Shelter.” It’s also very refreshing to see Andy Serkis get his first and hopefully not last nomination as a motion captured ape in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” His is certainly the most interesting campaign of the season, and if it succeeds, it will make Oscar history. While I despise the precedent that it will set, I admit that I can’t help feeling proud of Andy Serkis. If it’s going to happen, it should happen to him. From Gollum, to Kong, and now Ceasar, the man has truly put his heart and soul into his work and has ultimately changed the face of cinema in a lot of ways.

Hands down, my favorite pick of the evening has got to be Melissa McCarthy for “Bridesmaids.” A good movie that this lady really took to another level with her incredible comedic skills. Her performance, if it continues down this track, could end up being one of the funnest nominations since Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder.” Kudos to the WAFCA for getting the ball rolling, there.

Check out the full list of nominations after the cut:

Best Film
“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“Drive”
“Hugo”
“Win Win”

Read more…

And the Wheels Started Turning…

December 3, 2011 2 comments

Okay. Take a second. Deep breath…there we go. It’s been a bit of a big week with a lot to take in. However, this is just the opening salvo, and some much heavier ones are soon to come. However, in the last several days, we’ve had two extremely influential critics groups weigh in along with nominations announced by one of the more prestigious awards bodies in the country. So, while the jigsaw puzzle is far from complete, we’re getting a glimpse of the outline through the forming edges.

Let’s start with the antsiest of the lot, who just couldn’t wait their turn in line. The New York Film Critics Circle, being about as bigheaded as a group of big apple critics could be, pushed their awards announcement up by about two weeks. This was in an attempt to better influence the Oscars and separate themselves from the other critics. In case there was a critical darling such as “The Social Network” of yesteryear, they at least wanted to make it seem as though it were their idea. This has, honestly, put a rotten taste in the mouth of the whole awards season. The circle defied convention and tradition, forced movies to hurry their final touches in order to be screened in time, didn’t care to take a moment’s pause to reflect on their decisions and in the end made some really safe and traditional decisions from a group that usually champions the edgy and bold. I really must say…for shame.

For their high honors, the NYFCC went with “The Artist,” the silent film with a heart of gold. I definitely am looking forward to catching this one, though not quite as much as others. Director Michael Hazanavicius also took home high honors. By the time that Best Picture rolled in, I was hoping that “Moneyball” would pull through, after it had already won Best Actor for Brad Pitt and Best Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zallian. “Tree of Life” also had a pretty big day, winning Best Cinematography, sharing in Brad Pitt’s Best Actor award and Best Supporting Actress for Jessica Chastain (who also won for “Take Shelter” and “The Help”).

The other two acting awards were picked up by Albert Brooks for “Drive” and Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady.” I’m straight-up not wild about Brooks who gives a couple of great scenes in only a good performance. Not worthy of any high accolades. As far as Meryl Streep is concerned, I’m on the fence. Whenever La Streep is once again up for her third Oscar, I just can’t decide whether I want it or not. As weird as it sounds, she is more due for an Oscar than practically any other actress, being that she is widely considered to be the greatest living performer and yet hasn’t won gold in nearly thirty years. However, when it comes to critics, Meryl is the safest choice that can be made. It’d be nicer to see some hutzpah with a choice like Tilda Swinton or Olivia Colman.

“The Descendants” turned out to be S.O.L., a surprise considering that Alexander Payne’s previous film, “Sideways,” swept this particular group, taking awards for Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress and Screenplay. George Clooney especially had a bad day, even missing out on a Best Actor nomination from the Spirits. However, he and the film lucked out that the National Board of Review voted differently, so much that it would seem they from a different planet (when really they’re centered out of the same city).

Here, Payne’s festival favorite came up big, taking down the awards for Best Actor (Clooney), Best Supporting Actress (Shailene Woodley) and Best Adapted Screenplay. Sadly, the prizes for Picture and Director went to “Hugo.” While it’s nice to see a wrench thrown in the works, this choice baffles me based on merit. Personally, the immensity of critical love for this film, in general, blows my mind. Pretty and heartwarming, but low on entertainment, conflict and drama. Christopher Plummer received Best Supporting Actor for his career-best performance in “Beginners,” hopefully asserting himself as the man to beat. And where NYFCC dropped the ball, the usually straight-as-an-arrow NBR chose the dicey performance of Tilda Swinton in “We Need to Talk About Kevin” for their Best Lead Actress. God, I can’t wait to see that film.

Quite strangely, the three big winners from the NYFCC went home almost completely empty-handed. “The Tree of Life” and “The Artist” only received spots on the NBR’s top ten, while “Moneyball” disturbingly did not even make that cut. However, they weren’t the unluckiest films of the day. “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” failed to receive even a single nomination from anyone. If it continues to fly under the radar with critics, it will need a massive push from the guilds to stay alive.

Also, there’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene.” The big hit at Sundance failed to even make the NBR’s top ten independent films and received only a pair of acting nominations from the Independent Spirits, an organization many would have thought the film would have championed. It has a giant hole to climb out of if it wants to stay in any kind of Oscar contention. Personally, I’m not too bummed. A great concept that failed to achieve an emotional surge and tries so hard for subtlety, but often comes off as light-handed. I do hope that Elizabeth Olsen is able to pick up some steam for her deeply nuanced performance.

So, barring any surprise announcements from critics, we’re being given a bit of a lull for the next eight days. However, starting on Sunday, December 11th, it’s going to be difficult to find a busier week. Kicking off with honors from the Los Angeles and Boston Film Critics, we’ll then be receiving nominations from the Screen Actors Guild, the Broadcast Film Critics and Golden Globes, one day after another. Until then, I’ll be reporting anything I can and probably re-evaluating my current Oscar predictions. Stay tuned.

National Board of Review Crowns “Hugo”

December 1, 2011 Leave a comment

This is quite a disturbing bit of news this afternoon, at least in my mind. While I’m glad that “The Artist” didn’t take this down and assert itself not only as the critical darling of the year, but also the frontrunner for Best Picture. There’s just way too many more qualified films to give this to.

Plenty of other things to talk about here, including the disturbing snubbage in all categories of “Moneyball,” but I’ll get into all of that in an all-encompassing post of the entire week later.

Here’s the full list of winners, including their Top Ten Lists:

Best Picture: “Hugo”

Best Director: Martin Scorsese – “Hugo”

Best Actor: George Clooney – “The Descendants”

Best Actress: Tilda Swinton – “We Need to Talk About Kevin”

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”

Best Supporting Actress: Shailene Woodley – “The Descendants”

Best Original Screenplay: Will Reiser – “50/50”

Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash – “The Descendants”

Best Animated Feature: “Rango”

Breakthrough Performance: Felicity Jones – “Like Crazy”

Breakthrough Performance: Rooney Mara – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Debut Director: J.C. Chandor – “Margin Call”

Best Ensemble: “The Help”

Spotlight Award: Michael Fassbender (“A Dangerous Method,” “Jane Eyre,” “Shame,” “X-Men: First Class”)

NBR Freedom of Expression: “Crime After Crime”

NBR Freedom of Expression: “Pariah”

Best Foreign Language Film: “A Separation”

Best Documentary: “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”

Special Achievement in Filmmaking: The Harry Potter Franchise – A Distinguished Translation from Book to Film

Top Films (in alphabetical order)
“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“Drive”
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”
“The Ides of March”
“J. Edgar”
“The Tree of Life”
“War Horse”

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order)
“13 Assassins”
“Elite Squad: The Enemy Within”
“Footnote”
“Le Havre”
“Point Blank”

Top 5 Documentaries (in alphabetical order) 
“Born to be Wild”
“Buck”
“George Harrison: Living in the Material World”
“Project Nim”
“Senna”

Top 10 Independent Films (in alphabetical order)
“50/50”
“Another Earth”
“Beginners”
“A Better Life”
“Cedar Rapids”
“Margin Call”
“Shame”
“Take Shelter”
“We Need To Talk About Kevin”
“Win Win”