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The 84th Oscars: Aftermath and Postgame Coverage

March 1, 2012 2 comments

As I watched the telecast of Sunday’s awards, going over the mixture of predictably safe choices, three words kept circling through my head, like scrolling text on the side of a blimp: BUSINESS AS USUAL. It’s been known for a while that the French silent film “The Artist” was scheduled to take home many of the top awards including Best Picture and Best Director. However, what was not expected was that the sweep would be split between it and Martin Scorsese’s family film (I feel like my hatred towards it spawns mostly from having to join those four words together), “Hugo,” which matched “The Artist’s” total of five wins. In simplest terms, I’d describe these wins as safe, mundane and boring, but honestly, what else is new? Read more…

My FINAL 2012 Oscar Predictions

February 26, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s time, folks. The time is come. No more second-guessing. No more procrastinating. This is it. I think I’ve provided enough commentary over the last few months (and I’ve got to start helping my girlfriend get our place ready for our Oscar party), so I’ll just let my predictions speak for themselves.

Here goes nothing:

BEST PICTURE
WINNER: “The Artist”
(runner-up: “Hugo”)

BEST DIRECTOR
WINNER: Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist
(runner-up: “Martin Scorsese – “Hugo”)

BEST ACTOR in a LEADING ROLE
WINNER: George Clooney – “The Descendants”
(runner-up: Jean Dujardin – “The Artist”)

BEST ACTRESS in a LEADING ROLE
WINNER: Viola Davis – “The Help”
(runner-up: Meryl Streep – “The Iron Lady”)

BEST ACTOR in a SUPPORTING ROLE
WINNER: Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”
(runner-up: Max von Sydow – “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”)

BEST ACTRESS in a SUPPORTING ROLE
WINNER: Octavia Spencer – “The Help”
(runner-up: Berenice Bejo – “The Artist”)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
WINNER: “The Descendants”
(runner-up: “Moneyball”)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
WINNER: “Midnight in Paris”
(runner-up: “The Artist”)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
WINNER: “Rango”
(runner-up: “Puss in Boots”)

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
WINNER: “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”
(runner-up: “Undefeated”)

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
WINNER: “A Separation”
(runner-up: “In Darkness”)

BEST ART DIRECTION
WINNER: “Hugo”
(runner-up: “The Artist”)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
WINNER: “The Tree of Life”
(runner-up: “The Artist”)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
WINNER: “The Artist”
(runner-up: “Hugo”)

BEST EDITING
WINNER: “The Artist”
(runner-up: “Hugo”)

BEST SOUND MIXING
WINNER: “Hugo”
(runner-up: “War Horse”)

BEST SOUND EDITING
WINNER: “War Horse”
runner-up: “Hugo”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
WINNER: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
(runner-up: “Hugo”)

BEST MAKEUP
WINNER: “The Iron Lady”
(runner-up: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2”)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
WINNER: “The Artist”
(runner-up: “Hugo”)

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
WINNER: “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”
(runner-up: “Real in Rio” from “Rio”)

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
WINNER: “Tuba Atlantic”
(runner-up: “The Shore”)

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
WINNER: “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”
(runner-up: “A Morning Stroll”)

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM
WINNER: “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom”
(runner-up: “Saving Face”)

Well there you have it. I’m gonna go make some dip. I’ll try not to get my hair in it, since pulling it out will be all I do for the next two hours.

Have fun everyone, and remember that there will be live updates on The Edge of the Frame for each win. Also, follow me on Twitter (@edgeoftheframe) for some good old snarkyness.

2012 Independent Spirit Award Winners

February 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Happy Oscar morning, everyone! It’s obviously a pretty busy day. I’ve got to finalize my predictions, prepare for my night of live-blogging and tweeting, and help my girlfriend get our place ready for our Oscar party. Therefore, I’ll keep this brief. Needless to say, anyone not predicting “The Artist” for a Best Picture win, tonight…you know what, I’m not even going to go there. It may be just another one of the Academy’s heart-warming, middle-of-the-road, de facto winners. However, after a nearly unprecedented sweep of the Indy Sprits, last night, following victories in almost everything else, there’s no reason not to bet everything you have on tonight to follow suit.

Interestingly enough, as much as both last night’s and tonight’s victories have been expected, “The Artist” will break a long-standing curse. In the twenty-six year existence of the Indy Spirits, it’s been twenty-five since the last time their Best Picture choice lined up with Oscar (“Platoon”). The last films to come close were “Pulp Fiction,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “Little Miss Sunshine.” Yet, alas, “The Artist” will be the one to finally bust down that barrier.

The highlights of the night? “Margin Call” picking up two awards for Best First Feature and the Robert Altman Award was a nice touch. Meanwhile, I am thrilled to see Steve James’ “The Interrupters” win Best Documentary. The Academy not even adding that film to its shortlist was a grievous mistake. Thank you to the Spirits for helping to rectify that wrong.

On one more note, following Jean Dujardin’s victory last night, it’s become too difficult to continue predicting George Clooney for the Best Actor win. I’d always hoped that if someone were to upset the longtime frontrunner, it would have been Brad Pitt. But with three straight victories with the SAG, the BAFTA and now the Spirit, Dujardin has ultimately transformed himself into the frontrunner. Granted these were some weird awards, with both Clooney and Michael Shannon failing to pick up nominations, despite their films getting Best Picture noms. Boy, I tell ya, if Clooney still wins after I’ve waited this long to change my mind, I will not be a happy camper. But, as Aaron Sorkin would say, that’s life in the NFL…

Here are the winners of the 2012 Independent Spirit Awards:

BEST PICTURE: “The Artist”

BEST DIRECTOR: Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist”

BEST MALE LEAD: Jean Dujardin – “The Artist”

BEST FEMALE LEAD: Michelle Williams – “My Week with Marilyn”

BEST SUPPORTING MALE: Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE: Shailene Woodley – “The Descendants”

BEST SCREENPLAY: “The Descendants”

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY: “50/50”

BEST FIRST FEATURE: “Margin Call”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: “The Artist”

BEST DOCUMENTARY: “The Interrupters”

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD: “Margin Call”

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD: “Pariah”

Stay tuned for my last minute Oscar predictions sometime this evening. It should be an interesting night…

2nd Annual Edgy Award Winners

February 25, 2012 2 comments

At last, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. After a lot of work and, actually, a lot more deliberation than I had originally imagined, it’s now time to announce the winners of the 2nd Annual Edgy Awards. If you missed the original nominations, you can find the full list here. These winners encompass what I believe to be the best work put forth in each respective category. Now, I’m sure there’s a few that people are sure to disagree with, so, in addition to posting video clips that showcase the work, I’ll also provide a bit of commentary that will help to defend my decisions.

This year shows a very different distribution than the 1st Edgy Awards. Last year, nearly fifty percent of the awards were collected by only two films (“The Social Network” – 7 and “Inception” – 4). This year has seemed to take on a more “spread the wealth” fashion. For example, last year, there were only six films taking home one award apiece (and that was with an extra category). This year, there are thirteen. This might also be the first time in my history of giving awards that a different film has won each of the eight technical categories (Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, and Makeup). I guess that shows the diversity of filmmaking that this year brought to the table.

It’s time to sit back and enjoy. Here are your Edgy winners:

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Think You Can Wait”

Music and Lyrics by “The National

RUNNER-UP: “Shelter” from “Take Shelter”

Aside from just being a straight-up beautiful and enjoyable song to listen to, over and over, “Think You Can Wait” is a phenomenal companion piece to Thomas McCarthy’s “Win Win.” The longing melody and wistfully fluid lyrics encompass both the woes and lingering hopes of the suburban life experienced by the film’s characters. This winner was never a question in my mind. A fantastic song.

Read more…

The 2nd Annual Edgy Award Nominations

February 21, 2012 2 comments

One of the primary focuses of this site is to analyze and report on each year’s film awards race, and many of you know this to be my true passion in life. However, if there’s one thing I enjoy more than following the Oscars, it’s making my own. Therefore, it has become a tradition of mine to gather up all my favorite aspects of the year’s filmmaking, break them down into nominations and then award what I believe to be the best of the year. And while I’ve been doing this for a long time, The Edge of the Frame gave me a chance to name them. Therefore, I present to you fine readers the 2nd Annual Edgy Award Nominations.

This year has certainly delivered a mixed bag of finalists. A total of 39 films received nominations, although 19 of those only garnered a single nomination apiece. While some categories may have some resemblance to the Academy’s choices (sometimes, they do actually make wise decisions), there are some striking differences. Thank goodness for that, for as a film critic, if my picks matched up with the Oscars, I wouldn’t be able to respect myself in the morning. Many of you have already seen my choices for Best Picture, what with my Top Ten List being released earlier in the week, and you’ll have noticed that only three films also find themselves in Oscar’s top nine ballot. Also, for the first time in my long history of doing this, not a single one of my Best Director nominees overlaps with the Academy’s.

A few notes to cover before we get started. I’ve used a similar format as last year’s nominations, listing out each nominee by name, instead of just the films themselves. Now, some of you will be bound to wonder how, if these are only the 2ND Annual Edgy Nominations, some individuals will have more than 2 mentions under their belts. The answer is because I have a slate of personal awards for each year going back over seven decades. I’ve got endless spreadsheets cataloging my choices for film winners from long before I was even born, I just don’t have the means (yet) to make those available to the public. The annotations refer to the amount of past nominations each individual has had in their respective category, except for performers who’s mentions overlap with all the other acting categories.

Now, for any readers who need more info, don’t understand or just think I’m full of it, I’ve provided a link to a separate document which holds a complete list of every single one of this year’s nominees, coupled with a complete record of their Edgy nominations and wins. Have I gone overboard with these things? Absolutely, but I have an anal retentive need to be comprehensive, not to mention that I have a devotion to all things statistical. Hope at least one person gives it a look.

One other thing to point out is that, this year, I have refrained from creating categories for both Best Foreign Language Film and Best Animated Film. To be honest, I just haven’t seen enough foreign fare to make up an accurate barometer of the year’s best. As far as animation goes, I honestly just avoided this year, practically, all together. Just a weak field that I didn’t bother focusing my income towards. I did, however, add a full category for Best Ensemble Cast. I do believe that when a film pulls off an effective ensemble performance, it’s worth taking note of because it help’s define the film and its quality. If only the Oscars shared this opinion.

So, without further ado, here are the 2011 nominations:

 

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“The Living Proof”
featured in “The Help”
Music and Lyrics by Mary J. Blige (2nd Nom)

“Marcy’s Song”
featured in “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
Music and Lyrics by Jackson C. Frank (1st nom)

“Never Be Daunted”
featured in “Happythankyoumoreplease”
Music and Lyrics by Jaymay (1st nom)

“Shelter”
featured in “Take Shelter”
Music and Lyrics by Ben Nichols (1 nom)

“Think You Can Wait”
featured in “Win Win”
Music and Lyrics by The National (1st nom)

Read more…

The ACE, CAS and Scripter…Oh, my!

February 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Seven days left, folks. It’s the deep breath before the plunge. The last of the ballots are being finalized and pundits are making their final predictions. And while most of the race seems like a done deal, sealed and locked, there’s always the chance of a few upsets around the bend.

Aside from what I already mentioned, another event occurring in this final week is the rush for precursors to get their awards out before last call of the year. This weekend is a hornets nest of accolades being dished out almost faster than I can report them. While the Writers Guild is set to announce tonight, the other major screenplay award declared its winner yesterday evening. The USC Library Scripter, awarded each year to the finest example of adapting a film from another medium, went to Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash and novelist Kaui Hart Hemmings for “The Descendants.” Not at all a surprise, given the quality of the work. Personally I was predicting “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” to take this down. Also, the Scripter has absolutely no affiliation with the Academy or any other guild, so aside from common taste, this win has no impact on the Oscar outcome.

While “The Descendants” winning the Scripter was fairly expected, what was not was it’s simultaneous win with the American Cinema Editors. Forgive me, but this has to be one of the more outrageous and, more or less, absurd victories of the year. Going up against “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Hugo,” “War Horse” and, for god’s sake, “Moneyball,” the actual winner was the least deserving of any of the dramatic nominees. It’s the only film in which the editing really adds no level of complexity or character. I really have no idea what this group was thinking. In the musical/comedy category, “The Artist” very expectantly took home the prize. Originally, this award seemed like a tight race between said frontrunner and either “Hugo” or “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Yet, with this turn of events, it seems as though “The Artist” has a huge advantage next weekend. Add it to the pile.

The final award issued last night was the Cinema Audio Society, the guild equivalent of the Best Sound Mixing Oscar. As was largely expected, “Hugo” took this award home. This year presented a fairly odd situation, with the CAS and Oscar nominees only lining up 2/5 (only the second time in the CAS’ existence that their opinions differed so radically). However, going with statistics, NEVER since the formation of the CAS has a film won Best Sound Mixing without even being nominated by the guild. That would leave “Moneyball” and “Hugo.” With the latter winning the support from the guild, it has more than confirmed its frontrunner status. In fact a sweep of both sound categories is becoming more and more likely, but we’ll wait on the Motion Picture Sound Editors to announce, tonight.

With the WGA hours away, weighing extremely on the adapted screenplay field, I’ll make a prediction. However, my choice is definitely a lot more wishful thinking than common sense. If “Moneyball” takes this award down, it will reassert itself at the head of the pack (making me one happy pundit), although “The Descendants” is a steep wall to climb and the odds are definitely in its corner. I’ll stick with my favorite horse, though, but whatever wins here, will likely go on to Oscar gold.

Interestingly, while the adapted field will likely be decided tonight, the WGA’s Best Original Screenplay award will have little to no impact on the Oscar’s equivalent, barring any unforeseen upset. “Midnight in Paris” will likely take this award in a walk, but still move on to a dogfight next Sunday. That’s because the film’s stiffest opposition will not even be competing tonight. “The Artist,” which has basically become either the frontrunner or a threat in all of its categories, fell victim to the WGA’s strict eligibility rules. Therefore, even if Woody the Great is the winner tonight, “The Artist” just might be the odds-on favorite in seven days. It will be one of the night’s closest races for sure.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for updates from tonight’s awards, as well as the announcement of the 2nd Annual Edgy nominations. It’s about to get interesting.

My 2011 Top Ten List

February 16, 2012 2 comments

My favorite time of the year has finally come. It’s the time when I can finally take a break from reporting on other individuals and groups choices for best of the year and actually focus on my own. If any of you missed last year’s, here’s a link to last year’s big list. Over the next week, leading up to the Oscars, I’ll be writing a series of posts that will encompass my feelings on the 2011 year in films. I’ll start things out with my Top Ten List, featured here, followed by two posts chronicling the nominations and winners of the 2nd Annual Edgy Awards. Hopefully, I can maintain concentration and get all of this done before the entire awards season comes to a head.

To be quite honest, this is probably my least favored year of films in terms of quality in at least a decade. I’m not sure what exactly went wrong or rubbed me the wrong way, but there was something lacking in the overall caliber of releases. Disappointing to say the least. Perhaps, it’s not even the overall batch of films, but rather some favorites of the film critic and connoisseur community just did not register in my book. Yet, even with the diminished standard, I still feel compelled to give a shout out of recognition to the films that were more than respectable. The following seven films, listed alphabetically, are some examples of damn fine filmmaking, but had just a few too many flaws that kept them out the final ten.

Here we go. The runners-up are as follows:

“The Artist”

Written and Directed by
Michel Hazanavicius

A delightful and sometimes intriguing romp into the throwback world of silent filmmaking, highlighted by some great design qualities and a stellar lead performance by Jean Dujardin. Yet, the film really suffers from having…well…nothing really important to say or leave us with.

Read more…

“Tree of Life” Wins the ASC

February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

The American Society of Cinematographers held their gala and awards ceremony, celebrating the greatest achievements in cinematography from the 2011 film season. Of all the nominees, this year, one film has singled itself as the frontrunner by taking home nearly every honor for camera and lighting that it’s had the opportunity to. After being endlessly praised and awarded for his work on “The Tree of Life,” some believed that his peers in the ASC would throw Emmanuel Lubezki (and all of us) for a loop and go with something else. Yet, Malick and “El Chivo” fans can rejoice for the ASC’s grand prize did in fact go into said film’s pocket.

As far as my opinion is concerned, “The Tree of Life” may not have been my favorite work of the year, but certainly worth recognition. Working with such little light (and little story, if I want to be snarky), Lubezki took such small and seemingly insignificant events of a person’s life and crafted them into series upon series of gorgeous imagery that will be talked about for decades.

What does this all mean for Oscar? Well after “The Artist” managed to take down the cinematography prize at the British Academy Awards (also yesterday) and considering the potential “sweep” status of the film, I’d say that it is “The Tree of Life”‘s only real competition at this point. However, you have to consider that the Brits were not offered an official chance to screen “The Tree of Life,” so it’s impossible to gauge how that would have played out. Personally, I honestly can’t imagine that voters would not see how stupid they would look snubbing El Chivo again after his egregious loss for “Children of Men.” Yet, then again…Deakins.

Oh well. I stand by what I said two months ago. Next Sunday is going to be Emmanuel’s coronation as one of the finest cinematographers in the game. If not, I’ll have egg on my face, as will many, many more.

2012 Oscars Winner Predictions – Round One

January 29, 2012 2 comments

Well, there’s no turning back now. There’s no more debating to be done on the Academy Award nominees. No more discussion of who’s too young or too old, too white or too black, too new or two powerful, and no more weighing out each person’s clout within their particular groups of peers. The nominations are in, and it’s a whole new ballgame. Some frontrunners have fallen and others still sit at the top. Yet, I fully believe that barely a single category is the same as it was three days ago.

Instead of just highlighting a few select categories and offering my thoughts, I’m going to go through each award, one by one, and discuss how things have shaped up.

See the full list after the jump:

BEST PICTURE

Despite a couple shifts in the power balance a few days ago, this is an award whose frontrunner hasn’t shifted at all. “Hugo” may have beat it out by one to become the nomination leader (and thus the only competition for the award), but “The Artist” has a massive lead. It will take a whole lot to knock it from the top of the ladder. “The Help,” once considered a possible underdog upset, showed up little support, including a lack of the crucial Best Editing nomination. Meanwhile, “The Descendants” has lost this battle in the guilds. “Hugo” is the only film that really holds any kind of chance, but only in theory.
MY PREDICTION: “The Artist”
SPOILER: “Hugo” Read more…

My Reaction: The Good, the Meh, and the Ugly, Part 2

January 24, 2012 Leave a comment

When writing the last post, I had realized that it would be too difficult to boil these nomination down into two categories of “good” and “bad,” because, honestly, so much of this morning’s announcement was just vanilla, to me. I don’t love them, I don’t hate them. They’re just kind of there. I wish they weren’t, but they could be worse. Some may say that this is kind of a useless post, but for me, this post pretty much defines the 2011 movie season. I don’t hate it, I’m just ready to move on.

THE MEH

 

Without a doubt, this year’s best picture line-up was the most mediocre I think I’ve ever seen. I look back at the sorts of ballsy, edgy choices that the AMPAS were putting on the table no more than few years ago, with nominees like “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote” and “There Will Be Blood,” and on top of that, winners such as “The Departed,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “The Hurt Locker.”

Then I see this year, and I am BORED. “Hugo?” “War Horse?” And of course everyone’s favorite that’s rife with controversy, “The Artist?” Now, okay, I’m not saying that all of the year’s movies have to piss people off or twist people’s minds. My favorite on the year definitely doesn’t (though it makes up for it with astounding quality). Yet, as artists, filmmakers have a responsibility, to shake things up. To be bold. I don’t see a lot of that, here.

What could have shaken things up, you ask? Plenty. What about “Shame?” Steve McQueen’s quiet, yet somehow epic tale of sex addiction and deprivation is already probably better than anything else in the line-up. Then there’s Nicholas Winding Refn’s hardcore crime study, “Drive,” which isn’t exactly one of my favorites on the year, but it’s a nomination I could certainly respect the Academy for putting up. This should prove that there’s no accounting for taste with what I’m talking about. Hell, some of my least favorite nominations today were those surrounding Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” because at least that decision had some audacity to it. It’s films like that, whether I like them or not, that are going to be talked about and discussed, decades from now.

Then there’s the Christmas turkey. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” which received more guild nominations than half of the other nominees (obviously popular within the industry), was left off, and it might be the most important of the bunch. That’s because the viewers can’t get through it’s gritty and uncompromising demeanor and see through to the beautiful and vital message it presents of sexism and the triumph of diversity in a quiet and unoffensive world. This film deserves to be in the conversation and should be on the Best Picture ballot.

When “The King’s Speech” won Best Picture, last year, I believed that that particular nightmare was over. I thought that the Academy had gotten it out of their system. This year, I was proven wrong. The Oscars, it seems, will never fully evolve into a body that respects style, nuance, and, more than anything else, change. The Academy needs to move out of the twentieth century and into a new era. Yet, more than any of these things, it needs to understand that sometimes, feeling bad is feeling good. Sappiness, melodrama and things that warm your heart are not necessarily tools of good filmmaking, at least not good enough to clog the higher ranks of these nominations with them.

Grow up, Oscars. As Billy Beane so eloquently put it, “Adapt or die,” before it’s too late, and nobody gives a crap, anymore.

Wow, look at that. I got all hot and bothered and I haven’t even gotten to “The Ugly” segment of this article, yet. I will try to have that part of the article done by tonight.