Posts Tagged ‘darren aronofsky’

The 8th Annual Edgy Award Nominations

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The time when I get to educate everyone on what this year’s Oscar nominations should have looked like.

To review how these work, while there may only be 7 previous editions of the Edgys available online, the awards are cataloged by yours truly going all the way back to 1940. The recipients’ nomination and win counts are grouped according to each category, with the exception of the two music categories and the four acting categories being linked. So while Martin Scorsese may be getting only his 3rd nomination for producing, that certainly does not include the wealth of nominations he’s accumulated for directing.

Without further ado, here are my nominations for the best craftsmanship and talent on display in 2017:



Mighty River
featured in “Mudbound”
Music and Lyrics by Mary J. Blige (3rd nom), Raphael Saadiq (1st nom) and Taura Stinson (1st nom)

“Mystery of Love”
featured in “Call Me By Your Name”
Music and Lyrics by Sufjan Stevens (2nd nom)

“The Pure and the Damned”
featured in “Good Time”
Music by Daniel Lopatin (1st nom), Lyrics by Iggy Pop (1st nom)

“Visions of Gideon”
featured in “Call Me By Your Name”
Music and Lyrics by Sufjan Stevens (2nd nom)

“World Gone Mad”
featured in “Bright”
Music and Lyrics by Dan Smith (1st nom)



“Blade Runner: 2049”
Benjamin Wallfisch (1st nom) and Hans Zimmer (10th nom, 4 wins – “12 Years a Slave,” “Gladiator,” “The Thin Red Line” and “Rain Man”)

“Phantom Thread”
Jonny Greenwood (4th nom, 2 wins – “The Master” and “Exit Music (for a Film)” from “Romeo and Juliet”

“The Shape of Water”
Alexander Desplat (5th nom)

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
John Williams (29th nom, 10 wins – “Munich,” “Amistad,” “Schindler’s List,” “Empire of the Sun,” “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi,” “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” “Star Wars: A New Hope,” “Jaws”)

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Carter Burwell (5th nom, 2 wins – “Fargo” and “Barton Fink)



Alessandro Bertolazzi (2nd nom, 1 win – “Suicide Squad”) and Christopher Alan Nelson (2nd nom, 1 win – “Suicide Squad”)

“Darkest Hour”
Kazuhiro Tsuji (1st nom), David Malinowski (1st nom) and Lucy Sibbick (1st nom)

“The Disaster Artist”
Thomas Floutz (1st nom), Andy Clement (1st nom) and Molly Tissavary (1st nom)

“I, Tonya”
Deborah La Mia Denaver (2nd nom) and Adruitha Lee (3rd nom, 1 win – “12 Years a Slave”)

“The Shape of Water”
Jeff Derushie (1st nom), Jordan Samuel (1st nom) and Michael J. Walsh (2nd nom)



“Alien: Covenant”
Neil Corbould (5th nom, 2 wins – “Gravity” and “Gladiator”), Charley Henley (2nd nom) and Christian Kaestner (2nd nom)

“Blade Runner: 2049”
John Nelson (4th nom, 1 win – “Gladiator”), Gerd Nefzer (1st nom), Paul Lambert (1st nom) and Richard R. Hoover (3rd nom)

“The Shape of Water”
Dennis Berardi (1st nom), Trey Harrell (1st nom), and Atilla Ceylan (1st nom)

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
Ben Morris (1st nom), Michael Mulholland (1st nom), Neal Scanlan (3rd nom, 2 wins – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Babe”) and Chris Corbould (6th nom, 2 wins – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Inception”)

“War for the Planet of the Apes”
Daniel Barrett (3rd nom, 1 win – “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”), Dan Lemmon (4th nom, 2 wins – “The Jungle Book” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”), Joe Letteri (9th nom, 5 wins – “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” “Avatar,” “LOTR: The Return of the King,” and “LOTR: The Two Towers”) and Joel Whist (1st nom)



“Alien: Covenant”
Michael Fentum (1st nom) and Oliver Tarney (4th nom, 1 win – “United 93”)

“Blade Runner: 2049”
Mark Mangini (5th nom) and Theo Green (1st nom)

Richard King (8th nom, 4 wins – “Inception,” “The Dark Knight,” “War of the Worlds” and “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”)

Paula Fairfield (1st nom) and Jill Purdy (1st nom)

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
Ren Klyce (6th nom, 1 win “The Social Network”) and Matthew Wood (9th nom, 1 win – “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”)



“Baby Driver”
Tim Cavagin (1st nom), Mary H. Ellis (1st nom) and Julian Slater (1st nom)

“Blade Runner: 2049”
Ron Bartlett (1st nom), Doug Hemphill (6th nom) and Mac Ruth (1st nom)

Gregg Landaker (8th nom, 4 wins – “Interstellar,” “Twister,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”), Gary Rizzo (6th nom, 2 wins – “Interstellar” and “Inception”) and Mark Weingarten (4th nom, 2 wins – “Interstellar” and “The Social Network”)

David Giammarco (4th nom, 1 win – “3:10 to Yuma”), Paul Ledford (1st nom) and Paul Massey (6th nom, 1 win – “3:10 to Yuma”)

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
Ren Klyce (6th nom, 1 win “The Social Network”), David Parker (8th nom, 1 win – “The Social Network”), Michael Semanick (9th nom, 2 wins – “The Social Network” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”) and Stuart Wilson (4th nom)



“The Beguiled”
Stacy Battat (1st nom)

“I, Tonya”
Jennifer Johnson (1st nom)

“The Lost City of Z”
Sonia Grande (1st nom)

“Phantom Thread”
Mark Bridges (5th nom, 1 win – “The Artist”)

“Victoria and Abdul”
Consolata Boyle
(2nd nom)



“Blade Runner: 2049”
Dennis Gassner (5th nom) and Alessandra Querzola (1st nom)

Larry Dias (2nd nom, 1 win – “Inception”), Martine Kazemirchuk (1st nom) and Philip Messina (1st nom)

“The Post”
Rick Carter (6th nom, 1 win – “Lincoln”) and Rena DeAngelo (1st nom)

“The Shape of Water”
Paul Austerberry (1st nom), Jeffrey Melvin (2nd nom) and Shane Vieau (2nd nom)

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
Rick Heinrichs (2nd nom, 1 win – “Sleepy Hollow”) and Richard Roberts (1st nom)



Lee Smith (6th nom, 1 win – “The Dark Knight”)

“Get Out”
Gregory Plotkin (1st nom)

“I, Tonya”
Tatiana Riegel (1st nom)

Andrew Weisblum (1st nom)

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Jon Gregory (2nd nom)



“Blade Runner: 2049”
Roger Deakins (15th nom, 5 wins – “Sicario,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” “Fargo,” “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Barton Fink”)

“Call Me By Your Name”
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (1st nom)

Hoyt Van Hoytema (2nd nom)

“It Comes at Night”
Drew Daniels (1st nom)

“The Shape of Water”
Dan Laustsen (1st nom)



“City of Ghosts”
Matthew Heineman (2nd nom)

Dan Cogan (1st nom) and Bryan Fogel (1st nom)

“One of Us”
Heidi Ewing (2nd nom, 1 win – “Jesus Camp”) and Rachel Grady (2nd nom, 1 win – “Jesus Camp”)

“Strong Island”
Joslyn Barnes (1st nom) and Yance Ford (1st nom)

“Whose Streets?”
Damon Davis (1st nom) and Sabaah Folayan (1st nom)



“Call Me By Your Name”
James Ivory (1st nom)

“The Disaster Artist”
Scott Neustadter (2nd nom, 1 win – “500 Days of Summer”) and Michael H. Weber (2nd nom, 1 win – “500 Days of Summer”)

“Molly’s Game”
Aaron Sorkin (6th nom, 3 wins – “Moneyball,” “The Social Network” and “A Few Good Men”)

Dee Rees (1st nom) and Virgil Williams (1st nom)

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
Rian Johnson (3rd nom, 2 wins – “Looper” and “Brick”)



“Get Out”
Jordan Peele (1st nom)

“Lady Bird”
Greta Gerwig (1st nom)

“Phantom Thread”
Paul Thomas Anderson (5th nom, 1 win – “Boogie Nights”)

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Martin McDonagh (2nd nom, 1 win – “In Bruge”)

“Wind River”
Taylor Sheridan (3rd nom)



“Call Me By Your Name”
Vanda Capriolo, Amira Casar, Timothee Chalamet, Victoire Du Bois, Esther Garrel, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg

Steven Bogaert, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Chosen Jacobs, Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, Jackson Robert Scott, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Bill Skarsgaard, Logan Thompson, Finn Wolfhard

Jonathan Banks, Mary J. Blige, Kerry Cahill, Jason Clarke, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Rob Morgan, Carey Mulligan

“The Post”
Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Tom Hanks, Pat Healy, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Jesse Plemons, Matthew Rhys, Meryl Streep, Bradley Whitford, Zach Woods

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Kerry Condon, Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, Woody Harrelson, John Hawkes, Lucas Hedges, Zeljko Ivanek, Caleb Landry Jones, Sandy Martin, Frances McDormand, Kathryn Newton, Sam Rockwell



Allison Janney – “I, Tonya”
1st nom

Lesley Manville – “Phantom Thread”
2nd nom, 1 win – “Another Year”

Tatiana Maslany – “Stronger”
1st nom

Laurie Metcalf – “Lady Bird”
1st nom

Michelle Pfeiffer – “Mother!”
3rd nom



Willem Dafoe – “The Florida Project”
4th nom

Jason Mitchell – “Mudbound”
1st nom

Sam Rockwell – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
2nd nom

Patrick Stewart – “Logan”
1st nom

Michael Stuhlbarg – “Call Me By Your Name”
1st nom



Sally Hawkins – “The Shape of Water”
3rd nom, 1 win – “Happy Go Lucky”

Jennifer Lawrence – “Mother!”
4th nom

Frances McDormand – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
5th nom, 2 wins – “Fargo” and “Mississippi Burning”

Margot Robbie – “I, Tonya”
1st nom

Saoirse Ronan – “Lady Bird”
2nd nom



Timothee Chalamet – “Call Me By Your Name”
1st nom

Daniel Kaluuya – “Get Out”
1st nom

Gary Oldman – “Darkest Hour”
6th nom, 2 wins – “The Contender” and “Sid and Nancy”

Robert Pattinson – “Good Time”
1st nom

Jeremy Renner – “Wind River”
2nd nom



Darren Aronofsky – “Mother!”
2nd nom

Martin McDonagh – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
1st nom

Christopher Nolan – “Dunkirk”
5th nom, 1 win – “The Dark Knight”

Trey Edward Schults – “It Comes at Night”
1st nom

Denis Villeneuve – “Blade Runner: 2049”
4th nom, 1 win – “Arrival”



 “Blade Runner: 2049”

Broderick Johnson (2nd nom) and Andrew Kosgrove (2nd nom)

“Call Me By Your Name”

Emilie Georges (1st nom), Luca Guadagnino (1st nom), Marco Morabito (1st nom) and Peter Spears (1st nom)


Christopher Nolan (4th nom, 1 win – “The Dark Knight”) and Emma Thomas (4th nom, 1 win – “The Dark Knight”)

“Get Out”

Jason Blum (2nd nom), Edward Hamm Jr. (1st nom), Sean McKittrick (1st nom) and Jordan Peele (1st nom)

“It Comes at Night”

David Kaplan (1st nom) and Andrew Roa (1st nom)

“Phantom Thread”

Paul Thomas Anderson (6th nom, 1 win – “There Will Be Blood”), Megan Ellison (5th nom), Daniel Lupi (4th nom, 1 win – “There Will Be Blood”) and JoAnne Sellar (6th nom, 1 win – “There Will Be Blood”)

“The Shape of Water”

J. Miles Dale (1st nom) and Guillermo Del Toro (2nd nom)

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Ram Bergman (3rd nom) and Kathleen Kennedy (10th nom)

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Graham Broadbent (2nd nom), Peter Czernin (2nd nom) and Martin McDonagh (1st nom)

“Wind River”

Elizabeth A. Bell (1st nom), Peter Berg (1st nom) and Wayne L. Rogers (1st nom)



Films with multiple nominations a piece:

Blade Runner: 2049 – 8
Call Me By Your Name – 8
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – 8
The Shape of Water – 7
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – 7
Dunkirk – 6
Mother! – 6
I, Tonya – 5
Phantom Thread – 5
Get Out – 4
Mudbound – 4
It Comes at Night – 3
Lady Bird – 3
Wind River – 3
Alien: Covenant – 2
Bright – 2
Darkest Hour – 2
The Disaster Artist – 2
Good Time – 2
Logan – 2
The Post – 2

Natalie Deserved the Oscar. End of Story.

March 29, 2011 Leave a comment

This story has plagued both publications and the blogosphere alike for the last week, and damn it, it really needs to stop. This is one of the most annoying, ill-founded, and downright inappropriate smear campaigns against a great performer in recent memory. First off, even if Natalie Portman didn’t train for and perform a great deal of dancing in “Black Swan,” that’s not why people do or should win Oscars (unless you’re Jennifer Hudson, who sang her way to an Oscar in ’06 since she sure as hell can’t act worth a damn). People win Oscars for acting, and that’s what Portman did. She acted her ass off.

I mean seriously, people. This is horrible. It’s like saying: “I actually heard a rumor once that Natalie did not do her own makeup for the final scene. Nor did she even design her own costumes. I’m appalled. She didn’t deserve the Oscar.” All of these accusations are nearly as absurd as expecting an actress to somehow cram fifteen to twenty years of dancing experience into one year of film training.

Of course, this all started when Portman’s apparent “dance double,” Sarah Lane, complained that the actress only performed five percent of the dancing in the final cut of the film. I’ve only seen the film once, but running it through my head, something about that figure automatically sounds fishy. Maybe this dancer got a raw deal, simply being credited as a hand double and an extra, but way to go by turning yourself into an international joke by insinuating that Natalie was a fraud in the film.

Meanwhile, director Darren Aronofsky is dancing to a different drumbeat, defending his actress and her career-defining performance to the last stroke. In an interview with the UK Guardian, he claims that Portman did in fact do eighty to ninety percent of her dancing in the film, putting the double to shame. In an excerpt from the piece, he says:

However, Aronofsky has issued a statement claiming Portman performed 80 to 90% of the routines seen in the final cut of his film. “Here is the reality,” he said. “I had my editor count shots. There are 139 dance shots in the film. 111 are Natalie Portman untouched. 28 are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math, that’s 80% Natalie Portman.”

He added: “What about duration? The shots that feature the double are wide shots and rarely play for longer than one second. There are two complicated longer dance sequences that we used face replacement. Even so, if we were judging by time over 90% would be Natalie Portman.”

Aronofsky states that Portman did, in fact, dance on point, a difficult technique which was also said to be played false by Lane. The Guardian article also features costar Mila Kunis defending all of Portman’s performance, as well, stating that she “danced her ass off.”

What it all comes down to is CUT THE S#!T. This plague of defamation must end. I can only hope that in the end, it will only help to bolster the legacy of Portman’s performance when people realize how much she actually worked long and hard for this role. Shame on all who say otherwise.

Check out the opening scene from “Black Swan” below, re-color corrected and cut to a different song. Also, you can view the entire Guardian article, here.

Darren Aronofsky has moved on from “Wolverine”

March 17, 2011 Leave a comment

I guess that one could react to this news in many different ways. I imagine that having an experienced and talented director taking on a comic book franchise would a refreshing change of pace. Jon Favreau aced the first “Iron Man” movie (though that was a surprise, if anything else). Christopher Nolan obviously knocked Batman completely out of the park. Seeing an edgy and dark personality tackle an X-Men film might be interesting.

Hard to believe I’ve been reading numbskulls on IMDB talking about how happy they are because Darren Aronofsky because he’s not talented enough and would have ruined the series. I shall refrain.

Honestly, I am happy about this news, as well. Yet, I am joyed for a different reason. Quite frankly, Aronofsky is too good for this. “Black Swan” is not my favorite movie of his, but it’s definitely a hell of a breakthrough for him. He has the potential to basically do whatever he wants with his career, at this point, and I’m sure he has some better ideas in his head then the sequel to a prequel of a comic book movie. Aronofsky is a brilliant and original mind and he should helm those qualities with pride and “Wolverine” would seem to put them on hold for a year or so. Quite frankly, I can’t wait that long.

Here’s to what hopefully comes instead.

The Nominations – My Thoughts and Reactions

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

The nail-biting is over, at least for a few weeks. The Oscar nominations are here, and I believe that for the first time in years, my joy outweighs my sorrow. I suppose its appropriate to get into the bad news, first.

One thing’s official. As much as the Academy seems to have the most outrageous hard-on for Stephen Daldry (3 films made, 3 Best Director nods), they seem to have an everlasting grudge against Christopher Nolan as a director (3 DGA noms, no Oscar nods for Director). I just don’t understand what the man has to do to get their recognition. You can’t feel completely bad for him, pulling down two nominations for producer and writer, but are those the types of roles that any great director wants to be remembered for? I’m sure it wasn’t good enough for Stanley Kubrick. Honestly, Christopher Nolan is one of the most talented directors in Hollywood. Who else can take a film with such originality, intelligence, grandeur and finesse and bring in 300 million dollars with it or more. And on top of that, do it twice in three years. Nobody since Steven Spielberg, I’ll tell you that much.

The second-most disturbing snub has got be the exclusion of Andrew Garfield in the Supporting Actor category. Ridiculous. Definitely one of the best performances of the year, Garfield’s portrayal of innocence-lost is the soul of “The Social Network.” Though, while I bemoan the lack of Eduardo Savrin, I simply could not be more thrilled about the inclusion of John Hawkes for his turn in “Winter’s Bone.” People who’ve visited this site often must be aware of my penchant for this particular acting job, and this morning’s news of his inclusion is the crowning jewel of almost a year’s worth of supporting him on my part.

Since I’m ever so thrilled about Hawkes, I can’t blame him for the Garfield snub. Therefore, I’m gonna have to just go ahead and blame Jeremy Renner. I never thought that in one year, I could turn so much on this performer. In “The Hurt Locker” he was phenomenal, truly deserving of a lead actor nomination. Here, he is an average performance in an average film. I don’t think I ever considered him a candidate for my supporting actor picks, not even back in October. I was genuinely shocked and confused when accolades and Oscar talk began surfacing a few months ago. It baffled me then and it truly baffles me now.

At least its consolation that Renner was “The Town”‘s only nomination, missing out on that Best Picture nod that everyone was predicting….well almost everyone ;). The fact that “Winter’s Bone” took its place could not be more gratifying, as well. What a glorious film that more than deserves all of its bestowed nominations.

Let’s look at how some films made out on the whole. “127 Hours” defied pundits with a huge 6 nomination comeback, including yet another double category nomination for A.R. Rahman (Best Original Song, Best Original Score). Meanwhile, maybe the biggest shocker of the day, was “Black Swan” achieving only 5 nominations. For a while now, many people have been projecting Aronofsky’s film to be the potential nomination frontrunner, amassing perhaps ten or twelve. Instead, the film missed out on Supporting Actress (for both of its contenders), Original Screenplay, Art Direction, Costume Design and both Sound categories. I didn’t have it predicted in all of those, but it certainly had potential. Perhaps the biggest crime here is its Sound Effects exclusion. The work done on the sound of pattering feet and flapping feathers was phenomenal.

The worst overall snub of a film had to be Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island.” Not an amazing film, by any standards, but certainly one in which at least its technical achievements deserved some recognition. It should have easily made the grade for both Cinematography and Art Direction. Some of the best work of the year. I’m also depressed that Ryan Gosling missed out on a more than deserving nomination for Best Actor in “Blue Valentine.” It’s very nice to see Michelle Williams nominated, but not enough of a consolation. I’m sure that when I see “Biutiful” this weekend, however, Javier Bardem will wow the living shit out of me and I will be able to praise his surprise inclusion.

Let’s move on to some of the brighter aspects of day. The big story in the news is “The King’s Speech” being the nomination leader, but “The Social Network” really did have a pretty damned good day. 8 nominations, tied for the third highest, including four technical nominations, not an easy feat for a contemporary comedy/drama. It’s true that we definitely have ourselves a race now. Yet in terms of the race, “The King’s Speech” may have gained ground, but “The Social Network” hasn’t lost any of its.

One thing that’s really got me happy is the semi-snub of “Alice in Wonderland.” True, it did receive three nominations, yet I call it a snub for the one award it had almost always been not only a lock, but a frontrunner: Best Makeup. It appears that this branch of the Academy really does know the difference between makeup and CGI. Some very interesting choices replaced it, including “Barney’s Version” and “The Way Back.”

Without a doubt, the biggest joy for me, this morning, was seeing the results that the Doc branch rolled out. This has been one of the best years I’ve ever seen for documentary films. Lately, it’s seemed as though the lackluster “Waiting for Superman” was lined up to sweep the Oscar after wins at the BFCA and PGA. However, that belief was certainly swayed when the movie did not even show up among the nominees. The Academy also chose to avoid “The Tillman Story,” a pretentious and jumbled look at the soldier’s tragic story. Instead, among the nominations, are my three favorite documentaries of the year: “Restrepo,” “Inside Job” and the glorious “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” Well done, guys.

My predictions were some of the best of my time doing this gig. out of 109 nominations, I correctly predicted 82. Not bad at all. If you were to ask my girlfriend, I was inches away from predicting Bardem at about 2 o’clock this morning. Oh well. Got to stick to your guns.

This race has gone from being a one trick pony to a cutthroat race to the finish. It is going to be “The Social Network” vs. “The King’s Speech” right to the last note. While, for sure, I have a favorite, it’s refreshing to have a very close race. While last year was a nice David and Goliath battle, looking back, it was always “The Hurt Locker”‘s for the taking. And before that, it was two years of no competition. Now we have a race the likes of “The Departed” vs. “Little Miss Sunshine” or “Million Dollar Baby” vs. “The Aviator.” However, in reality, I don’t think we’ve ever had a race quite like this one before. Should be a good time. Stay tuned.

My FINAL Oscar Predictions – 1/22

January 23, 2011 6 comments

This is it. Last call before closing. Nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards will be announced this Tuesday, January 25th, at 7:30am CST (and you can bet I’ll be up hours before then, pumping myself up). For sure, there is a science behind the whole prediction game. A combination of elements, including what’s been happening with the critics groups awards, the different guild nominations and, in some cases, the film’s box office success. Along with that, there’s likability in each contender, how many times they’ve previously been nominated and won, a pseudo-mathematic question of their overall “due” status. Dozens of factors take shape in hugely methodic process, and this is all before anyone even takes into effect how good each contender is. Crazy, huh?

Well, a year-long process has now come to a close, and it’s time for me to nut up and offer my final predictions. The Best Picture line-up is basically down to 11 contenders, with two films vying for the final slot. It’s possible that either “Shutter Island” or “The Ghost Writer” could stage a massive coup and fight their way in their, but I doubt it. Some predictions that I’m sticking my neck out on? I’m still holding on to my convictions (and hopes) that the incredible John Hawkes can beat out Jeremy Renner in the Best Supporting Actor category. I’m also holding out hope that both of “Blue Valentine”‘s stars will outdo their older competition for leading notices. I’m also really hoping that “Exit Through the Gift Shop” can actually tickle the documentary branch’s funny bone (a feat not easily accomplished). Finally, here’s to “Winter’s Bone” edging out “The Town” for Best Picture. In fact, I’m predicting an across-the-board snub of the film. It’s only a slightly above action feature that has no business in the top ten. I have a strong feeling, though, that it will be this year’s “Blind Side.”

Without further adieu, here are the nominees (and once again, these are ranked in order of their chance of getting nominated, not winning):

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

Alt 1: “The Town”
Alt 2: “Shutter Island”

Click READ MORE to see the rest.

Read more…

Directors Guild Announces Nominees

January 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Finally, the big daddy of the guilds has announced its nominees. This is one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry. Some directors actually see it as a better form of recognition than the Oscar. It is also a very accurate predictor of who will win the eventual Best Director Oscar. The DGA and the Oscar have lined up in this category 54 of the last 62 years since the award’s beginning. It’s also worth noting that all of these films are pretty much guaranteed a Best Picture nomination. Back when there were five nominees, the DGA used to match Best Picture better than they matched the Best Director contenders.

Here is the list of nominees:

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film
Darren Aronofsky – “Black Swan”
David O. Russell – “The Fighter”
Christopher Nolan – “Inception”
Tom Hooper – “The King’s Speech”
David Fincher – “The Social Network”

It’s worth noting that even though I did not publish them, these were my exact predictions. Fincher, Aronofsky and Nolan were all pretty much locks for this nomination. Some expected Tom Hooper to miss here based on his lack of experience and the film being not so much a director’s piece, but rather a writing and acting showcase. But when a film chugs along as well as “The King’s Speech,” there was no reason to believe that he would be absent.

The individual most profiting from this nomination is definitely David O’Russell. Once considered a loose cannon, or even a lunatic in some circles, O’Russell is now DGA nominee and his film locked for a Best Picture nomination, perhaps even a contender for the win. Who did O’Russell oust? The answer is the Coen Brothers, who many were expected to come away with their third nomination (or at least Joel’s third and Ethan’s second, though anyone who’s anyone knows that these two have always been a team even both their names aren’t on the credit).

So will this be the Best Director line-up at the Oscars? It’s hard to say, but I would say: yes. The Coens may continue to gain traction. Their film was released near the end of the DGA balloting so it’s possible some voters did not see it. It’s also very possible that the Academy might try and continue last year’s legacy and nominate one of this year’s talented female directors like Lisa Cholodenko of “The Kids Are All Right” or Debra Granik of “Winter’s Bone” (Granik being the much more deserving).

Perhaps the most hurt by these nominations is Danny Boyle. Like the Coen Brothers, Boyle just won an Oscar within the last 3 years and isn’t considered as due as others. However, “127 Hours” is hanging onto its Best Picture nomination by a thread. and many are already starting to bump it for movies like “The Town,” “Winter’s Bone” or both. Boyle still has a long shot chance of a Best Director nomination, but his chances are becoming quite slim.

Oh, and David Fincher has this award IN THE BAG. He’s had it in the bag for a long time now and he really couldn’t be more deserving. A coronation is more accurate than an awarding.

The winners will be announced on January 29th. Stay tuned.

“Black Swan” Review

December 8, 2010 3 comments

For a thriller about a ballerina having a nervous breakdown, I don’t think it’s possible for “Black Swan” to have accumulated higher expectations prior to its release. Not even counting the immense cult following that a filmmaker like Darren Aronofsky carries with him in his pocket. I’ve been watching the trailer constantly since summer and I can’t seem to turn on the web or even in the grocery store without a glimpse of this film’s publicity. With this much wood fueling the fire, the less of a net it has to work with, and sadly, the film falls a bit short of what it was originally aiming for.

Don’t get me wrong. The film is very good. Aronofsky taps some of the brilliance invoked by Argento, Cronenberg and even Hitchcock to create event of psychosexual madness to add to his to his, for the most part, stellar repetoire. The film uses nearly every available facet of filmmaking to create levels of shock and paranoia to frazzling heights.

Natalie Portman plays Nina Sayers, a young woman who has committed her body, mind and soul completely to the art of ballet dance. Her entire life has become a whirlwind of pressure from her overbearing mother (which is an understatement), her director, for whom she has a confused sexual disposition towards, and an always lurking understudy, for whom we won’t even get into sexual discussion with. However, her greatest opposition may lie in a darker place, one that may very well be unconquerable.

If there is one theme that maverick director Darren Aronofsky has loved to document, it would be that of obssession. No matter how elaborate the stories get or layered his characters become, the driving force behind them always comes in the form of almost rabid fixation of both the tangible and sometimes the intangible, as well. Here, that topic is brought to new depths, perhaps too deep for its own good. The director composes his film much like the violent crescendo of a classical symphony, using Tchaikovsky’s own themes blended with Clint Mansell’s incredible score to raise each scene to be a bit more intense than the last, straight up to the spectacle that is the final note.

The cast is well chosen. Vincent Cassel provides the perfect blend of bravado mixed with sheer creepiness in his unorthodox methods of both teaching and seducing the main character. Barbara Hershey is the perfect embodiment of Portman’s mother, both in appearance and ability, even if at times her domineering manner can feel a bit forced by the situation. Mila Kunis also holds her own as Portman’s dark apprentice, though never really provides a standout scene for which she can compete with the real star of the film.

That aforementioned ray of light is the incomparable Natalie Portman. Her Nina Sayers IS the film, and the reason to go see it, if there be no other. Portman spent nearly a year of her life losing weight, training in the art of ballet, and doing whatever else was in her power to become this role. And even if her physical transformation wasn’t a standout factor, her emotions are spot on in every single moment that she’s on camera. In a scene near the end when a moment of clarity and revelation reaches her during her opening night and she works to cover her rolling tears with snow-white make-up, we literally see her become not only a great actress, but one of the greatest of our time. The Best Actress field is very strong this year, but I would have no doubt that she could bring home the gold, nor have a problem with it, either.

Aronofsky uses an immense amount of mis en scene to enhance the levels of suspense and paranoia in his film. The alternating tones of black and white help emphasize the duality of Portman’s character, and the placement of mirrors in moments of crisis and fear help illustrate her own self-destruction. Massive kudos to Matthew Libateque on the most gorgeous cinematography of Aronofsky’s career. The close-ups on Portman’s feet as they patter and skip across the studio floor are some of the most real and compelling moments of the film. The following-shot is also becoming a signature trademark of Aronofsky’s style.

Yet, alas, the second shoe had to drop at some point. The film, while always gripping, just gets out of hand, especially in the third act. Aronofsky really can’t decide what type of film he’s trying to create. The character-study is a potent selling-point for the audience to  hold on to. However, the director keeps making attempts at B-movie horror to change the pace up with using jump-scares and fake-outs. When these elements begin to appear, they seem out of place, and when they accelerate, they become overwhelming, just as the film does. And while the ending note is one of metaphorical triumph for the director and his film, this viewer wishes that the final jog to the finish didn’t have to be quite so draining.

GRADES:           B+            * * * * / * * * * *           8.2 / 10.0