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The 1st Annual Edgy Award Nominations

February 17, 2011 1 comment

I have now been watching the Oscars, consecutively, for the last fourteen years. I love it. Even when I end up screaming at the television and throwing chairs around the room, I love the experience. Oscar night is like the Super Bowl, the World Series and Christmas all rolled into one night. However, if there’s one thing I enjoy more than watching the biggest awards of the year, it’s choosing my own.

I’ve been picking my own personal nominees and winners since before I can remember. Obviously, these particular honors don’t get as much attention as the actual Academy Awards, but they’ve always been amusing to me. Now, my awards not only get a home, but a name, as well. Welcome to the 1st Annual Edgy Award Nominations. They include all of the usual categories that the AMPAS offer. The final presentation will also contain a few other awards that tickle my fancy. Below, the nominees are listed in alphabetical order, not preferential. Expect my decision on the final winners some time next week. Hope that everyone enjoys them.

NOTE: Even though these are the first “published” Edgy Awards, I do have a solid, written record of them going back to 1940. Therefore, I’ve included a feature of noting how many nominations and wins that each individual has received from me in the past. This gives some extra input as to my own tastes in the nominees, how they’ve surprised me or continue to impress me. The connotations refer, however to how many mentions each person has had in each individual category, aside from all the acting categories included together. Once again, enjoy!

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Bred and Buttered”
featured in “Winter’s Bone”
Music and Lyrics by John Hawkes (1st Nom)

“If I Rise”
featured in “127 Hours”
Music by A.R. Rahman (3rd Nom)
Lyrics by Dido and Rollo Armstrong (1st Nom)

“Shine”
featured in “Waiting for Superman”
Music and Lyrics by John Legend (1st Nom)

“We Belong Together”
featured in “Toy Story 3”
Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman (3rd Nom)

 

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My Top Ten List – 2010

February 15, 2011 1 comment

Last year, I can remember the huge uproar against the AMPAS extending the amount of Best Picture nominees to ten. I can also remember, that through it all, I was one of this notion’s strongest supporters. I recognize the faults in the logic. It allows for lesser films that have no business being considered one of the year’s best to fight their way in due to endless campaigning and the votes of stupid people. This flaw took shape last year in the form of “The Blind Side” getting nominated for Best Picture.

However, the upsides of the expansion are far greater. It gives the field a more diverse look, for one. It’s nice to see films from a wide range of directors and collaborators. If allows also a mix of both intelligent box office hits and scrappy indy favorites. More than anything else, however, is that five films is just two few to sum up a year in cinema. Had the Academy enacted this ruling ten years ago, one would look back on certain films and think it a crime had they not been nominated, which they haven’t. Imagine a world if films like “The Wrestler,” “The Dark Knight,” “WALL-E,” “Into the Wild,” “Once,” “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” “United 93,” “Little Children,” “Children of Men” and “Pan’s Labyrinth” could have been Best Picture nominees, and that’s only the last five years.

It must be for that reason that critics, for over fifty years, have been issuing top ten lists of their favorite films, rather than top five lists. It’s about that time, therefore, for The Edge of the Frame to release its own list for the 2010 year. I have now seen sixty films from 2010, which is low for me and not quite an respectable amount. Over the years, I’m sure that this list will change a spot or two as I see more, but for now, I believe that I’ve seen an acceptable sum to create an adequate list.

This has been a good year for film, but not really a great one. Out of sixty films, I gave only two films “A” grades. The year has had its high points and low points. For instance, it has been a great year for lead acting performances, but a rotten year for cinematography. For sure, I will always remember 2010 as the year that the Oscars snubbed its nose at great film and went home to their comfort zones. More than anything else, however, 2010 has been the year of the documentary. Never have I seen a year in cinema in which so many documentaries have captured my interest, let alone made it into my top ten.

As always there are a few stragglers that, even though they don’t qualify for my top ten, they still deserve an honorable mention. Therefore, this next selection of films are all very good, but just not good enough. They may be packed with amazing moments, but there’s also one too many flaws that have kept them down. So without further adieu, here are the films that just didn’t quite make it:

THE RUNNERS-UP


“127 Hours”

Directed by Danny Boyle
Written by Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy

Click HERE to see the rest of the list

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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):

BEST PICTURE
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.

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The Cinematographers Guild Announces Nominees

January 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Yet more guild nominations have been released. I’m a little late to report this one, but it’s definitely worth reporting. This is certainly one of the more exciting branches of the film industry: the guys who make the film look good, gorgeous even, in the case of some of these films. While the American Society of Cinematographers is widely considered to be a labor union, it is not. Instead, it is a prestigious society of DPs made up of about 350 individuals and membership is by invitation only. Their awards have been handed down for 25 years, recent winners including Christian Berger for “The White Ribbon,” Anthony Dod Mantle for “Slumdog Millionaire,” Robert Elswit for “There Will Be Blood” and Emmanuel Lubezki for “Children of Men.”

This year, the ASC’s nominations seem a little bit more geared towards Best Picture hopefuls then films that are very much driven by camera and lighting. Yet, the choices are still stellar, for the most part.

Here are the nominees:

“Black Swan” (Matthew Libatique)
“Inception” (Wally Pfister)
“The King’s Speech” (Danny Cohen)
“The Social Network” (Jeff Cronenweth)
“True Grit” (Roger Deakins)

It’s certainly no surprise to see veterans like Wally Pfister and the almighty Roger Deakins here. Considering the amount of critical attention that “Black Swan” has been getting, it was certainly a guaranteed spot on this list. The two moderate surprises are “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network.”

Now, in regard to Jeff Cronenweth’s work on “The Social Network,” I emphasize that this is a surprise, not a disappointment. This is some of the most beautiful, understated and, most of all, under-appreciated cinematography of the year. Congratulations at the same time to the RED One Camera for truly advancing the art of digital cinematography. I’m fairly certain that this is the first film shot on the RED to be nominated for an ASC award. Hopefully, soon, it will be the first of its kind to be nominated for an Oscar.

“The King’s Speech,” on the other hand, I can take or leave. The quality of soft lighting makes the film look quite pretty and the one foggy exterior scene definitely looked gorgeous. However, there are certain shots used through the course of the film that either completely eliminate nose room or use spatially abhorrent angles. Obviously these were conscious choices by the director and DP, however, they put off the idea that the filmmakers were simply trying too hard. The ASC could have done a lot better by nominating either “127 Hours” for it’s stellar use of close-ups or “Shutter Island” for it’s gorgeous contrasty lighting.

For the win, one would think that Deakins is a shoo-in. However, unlike the Academy, the ASC has already awarded Roger on two different occasions (“The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Man Who Wasn’t There”). On top of that, he’s already receiving their 2011 Lifetime Achievement award, so I’m not sure that they’ll be that willing to award him twice in one night. Therefore, I would bank on Matthew Libateque taking this down due to the enormous amount of praise that his work has already garnered for this film.

Cinema Audio Society Announces Nominees

January 6, 2011 Leave a comment

A new guild nomination, today. The Cinema Audio Society have released their annual short list of the five best audio mixes in film from 2010. Some strange choices here, or at least unexpected ones. This year, nearly every single nominee is a surefire contender for a Best Picture nomination at the Oscar. One has to wonder where films like “TRON: Legacy” or “Iron Man 2” are, or for that matter, certain animated films such as “How to Train Your Dragon” or “Toy Story 3.”

Here are the nominees:

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing
“Black Swan” (Ken Ishii; Dominick Tavella, Craig Henighan)
“Inception” (Ed Novick; Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo)
“Shutter Island” (Petur Hliddal; Tom Fleishman)
“The Social Network” (Mark Weingarten; Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick)
“True Grit” (Peter F. Kurland; Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff)

For sure, the most pleasant surprises are “Shutter Island” and “The Social Network.” While the sound design in “The Social Network” is phenomenal (especially in in opening bar scene with Rooney Mara and the later club scene with Justin Timberlake), I am mostly just glad that it has hit every guild thus far, showing that it has a lot of support headed into the Oscars. For sure, the most disappointing nomination here, in my opinion is “True Grit.” The action scenes just didn’t pop well enough for me and the music  became highly distracting. While I haven’t seen “TRON Legacy,” yet, I have heard nothing but raves over its sound design and is surely far more deserving than the Coen Brothers’ film.

While “Inception” is definitely the likely favorite here for the win (deservedly), I would not be surprised if “Black Swan” swooped in and stole this one away.

Art Directors Guild Announces Nominees

January 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Tis the season for the guilds. After two of the biggest guns announced their slates yesterday (we’re still waiting on the biggest gun of them all, the DGA), it’s now time for the tech guilds to start rolling out their picks. The first is the ADG, or Art Directors Guild. After years of not being able to settle on a short list, the ADG expanded to three categories a few years back, bringing their amount of nominees up to fifteen. I’m all for it, and why not. It’s the Art Directors’ union. They should have their day in the sun for bringing out a different array of talents.

Here are the nominees:

Period Film
“Get Low”
“The King’s Speech”
“Robin Hood”
“Shutter Island”
“True Grit”

Fantasy Film
“Alice in Wonderland”
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I”
“Inception”
“TRON Legacy”

Contemporary Film
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“127 Hours”
“The Social Network”
“The Town”

Unlike most years, there should actually be some pretty good competition in all of these ranks. Period Film is stocked full of potential Oscar nominees, as is Fantasy (the eventual nominees for the Best Art Direction Oscar is usually prone to choices from these two fields, and for an obvious reason: they’re much showier). I’d say that Period Film is going to be a battle between “The King’s Speech” and “True Grit,” with “Shutter Island” putting up some resistance. Personally, I would love for “Shutter Island” to take this down. The different sets, including the lavish rooms that doctors spend their leisure (featured above) and the dank and gritty halls housing the most horrid prisoners, are all a real treat.

I would call nearly every film in the Fantasy Category a fairly strong contender, except for “The Chronicles of Narnia.” The final duel will probably be between “Alice in Wonderland” and “Inception.” I pray that the guild will look beyond the indulgent free-for-all that is “Alice” and award the gorgeous, subtle and masterfully inventive sets of Christopher Nolan’s film, a prime contender for my own award for Best Art Direction.

“The Town” is a filler nominee in Contemporary. It’s possible some might vote for “127 Hours” if they’re able to look beyond the fact that it’s just one cramped set the whole time. I’d say that “Black Swan” definitely has an edge to win here, and it’s deserving enough. However, I hope that some voters give credence to the phenomenal work done in both “The Fighter” and “The Social Network.”

My big question? Where in the world is “Winter’s Bone” in contemporary? Some very meticulously crafted sets in that film that deserve a spot much more than “The Town.”

Next up on the guild line-up is the CAS (Cinema Audio Society) and the ACE (American Cinema Editors). The latter of the two pull some heavy weight in the industry, and therefore, the Oscars, so we shall wait with anticipation.

 

National Board of Review Announces Winners!

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

AND SO IT BEGINS…….

Best Film: The Social Network
Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Best Actress: Lesley Manville, Another Year
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
Best Foreign Language Film: Of Gods and Men
Best Documentary: Waiting for “Superman”
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Best Ensemble Cast: The Town
Breakthrough Performance: Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Debut Directors: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, Restrepo
Spotlight Award: Sylvain Chomet and Jacques Tati, The Illusionist
Best Original Screenplay: Chris Sparling, Buried
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Special Filmmaking Achievement Award: Sofia Coppola for writing, directing, and producing Somewhere
William K. Everson Film History Award: Leonard Maltin

NBR Freedom of Expression: Fair Game, Conviction, Howl
Production Design Award: Dante Ferretti, Shutter Island

Ten Best Films
(in alphabetical order)
Another Year
The Fighter
Hereafter
Inception
The King’s Speech
Shutter Island
The Town
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Five Best Foreign-Language Films
(in alphabetical order)
I Am Love
Incendies
Life, Above All
Soul Kitchen
White Material

Five Best Documentaries
(in alphabetical order)
A Film Unfinished
Inside Job
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
Restrepo
The Tillman Story

My comments on these wins to come later this evening. But I believe the mood summed up here at Camp Social Network would be…well…..yippee.