82nd Annual Academy Awards Predictions and Drinking Game

We're three wild and crazy guys!

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards aired Sunday Night, March 7th, 2010.  Below were my predictions for the winners in the major categories.  The actual winners were filled in after the Oscars are announced.

Well, I scored a personal worst of only 11/24 this year (after a record shattering personal best score of 18/24 last year), but I’ve never been happier to have been so wrong.  The right film actually won for the first time since, well, I don’t know when!

Highlights of the evening included:

  • A few genuine surprises in the screenplay categories and for foreign language film.
  • Hosts (Baldwin and Martin) who were actually funny.
  • No musical numbers spare for the humorous opening! (Though there was an annoying dance number for the best score nominees)
  • The humility, humor, and quiet heartbreak of Sandra Bullock who knew she did not deserve to win but was so sincerely thankful.
  • The humility of Kathryn Bigelow who knew she deserved to win (and made history in doing so) but also knew there are more important things and more important people to honor than films and filmmakers. 

Continue reading

82nd Annual Academy Award Nominations

And here are your nominees...

Well, as expected the new 10 Best Picture Nominees format allowed for such popular films like District 9, Up and The Blind Side to compete against the usual suspects…but the biggest surprise was the inclusion of the Coen Brothers’ unfairly little seen (and the ‘Spin’s Best Picture of the Year at The Davies) A Serious Man.  Had any “man” film made it to the dance, I would’ve bet money on A Single Man instead.  It’s nice to be surprised sometimes.

Here are your 10 Best Picture Nominees:

  • Avatar
  • The Blind Side
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • Up in the Air

Click here for the IMDB’s complete list of nominees.

And what were the biggest snubs?  No love for Emily Blunt?  No love for Abbie Cornish?

Oh well, girls…at least you are young and have years ahead of you to get your eventual just “reward”.

Feel free to share your predictions on who you think will take home the big prize!

The 4th Annual Davies Awards in Film

A Look Back at 2009:

Once upon a time…

…in 2008, while the world economy went into a tailspin, Hollywood delved into super-depressing, self-important mode and the Davies Awards asked sourly, “Why So Serious?”

But then the Brothers Coen and Quentin Tarantino looked around with their impish grins and wondered, “Why can’t we be a little serious but have fun, too?”  Meanwhile, The King of the World, James Cameron awoke from a decade long hibernation to deliver us into a fantastic world we had never seen and finally made a film where 3D technology rose above gimmick status.  All the while, his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow masterminded the ultimate coup-d’etat.  Will a woman director finally take home Oscar…for a war film?

But these golden days seemed so far far away back in January…

2009 began ominously. The multiplexes seemed a dark abyss. Continue reading

The Summer of War

Superfluous slasher sequels and Labor Day mean one thing for filmgoers: the long summer movie season is finally coming to a close.  Though I did my fair share of grumbling and there were alarmingly more “Colon: Movies” than ever before, the summer of 2009 ended up being a fairly solid season.  The year as a whole has been eerily reminiscent of 1999 in that there have been a slew of top-of-the-line “niche” films and both art-house and multiplex offerings have been more thoughtful than usual by delivering subtext and social commentary with their cliches, laughter, violence and gore.  Whether any of these films will matter ten years from now is hard to tell.  Looking back on the summer trends, I think I’ll always remember this 2009 season as the summer Hollywood went to war. Continue reading

A Review of Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker”

Kathryn Bigelow creates imagery in THE HURT LOCKER that invokes the iconography of science fiction films as a way to diffuse viewers conflicted emotions over the harsh realities of war.

Kathryn Bigelow creates imagery in THE HURT LOCKER that invokes the iconography of science fiction films as a way to diffuse viewers' conflicted feelings over the harsh realities of war.

 Bigelow Detonates All the Right Marks
9/10
Author: David H. Schleicher

Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) is the “wild man” team leader who has defused more than eight hundred bombs and has built his reputation on being an adrenaline junkie in order to mask his inability to cope with the emotional connections he feebly tries to make at home and on the job.  Sergeant JT Sandborn (Anthony Mackie) approaches his work with a by-the-book stoicism that can’t comprehend the recklessness of James.  Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) is highly trained but still feels overwhelmed by his morbid thoughts on war and his role in it.  These are the members of the EOD Army bomb squad stationed in Baghdad in 2004, and The Hurt Locker is their story.

After failing to do so with the depressingly somber and obvious In The Valley of Elah, screenwriter Mark Boal wisely places politics and moralizing aside this time to give us an intimate look into one squad with a highly specialized job to do.  Hollywood has always loved to play with the grunt’s-eye-view-of-war-as-hell theme, but The Hurt Locker spins that volatile cocktail on its head and blows it up all over the screen by focusing on an elite team and proposes the notion that maybe war is a drug…for some.

Director Kathryn Bigelow hits all the right detonators with her fascinating presentation of modern warfare in the Middle East.  Bigelow hasn’t really made anything memorable since her 1987 breakthrough, the cult vampire/western Near Dark, but she has always managed to make interesting failures —  just take a look at her attempt to do a literary adaptation with the superficially obtuse The Weight of Water.  Often living under the shadow of ex-husband James Cameron or having to share the title of “that female action director” with Mimi Leder — until Mimi murdered her film career with the abominable Pay it Forward — Bigelow, determined to finally leave her mark, displays an astounding technical prowess with The Hurt Locker that can only come from the wisdom of experience.   Close-ups, slow-mo’s, quick cuts and inventive plays with the camera’s point-of-view are used sparingly and with pin-point precision to heighten tension.  Here she shows the “good ol’ boys” she once emulated but has now trounced that style can be used for dramatic effect but need not be excessive.  Her sense of space allows us to be right there with the bomb squad as they are faced with unimaginable danger.  We always know where each character is positioned in relation to the bomb, and we always find in turn our stomachs have hit the floor.  Her technique is brilliant and delivers a picture that is so taut it might be the most intense experience this side of Clouzot’s Wages of Fear.  Now knowing all the moves, however, I wonder how the film will hold up on return viewing.

The Hurt Locker  is not for those seeking generic thrills or anyone currently on medication for emotional problems.  It gets deep down into the gritty nature of bomb defusing by offering us lessons on suicide bombers, IED’s and body-bombs that will make your gut churn.  There are also some fantastically rendered sniper scenarios that are used not just for a visceral jolt, but also as a way to explore character development.  Soldiers are not only put in precarious situations during combat but also in their day-to-day life dealing with their own conflicted emotions on top of a moody Iraqi populace that includes people treating them as tourists and looking to make a quick buck, people looking at the carnage as a spectator sport, people suffering as innocent bystanders, and people who wish to kill the soldiers and any one else in any way possible.

While there are a few details one could quibble with — for instance, the title is never explained — The Hurt Locker is impossible to dismiss and sometimes hard to digest.  It paints a picture of war that shows there are no politics when it comes to the daily experiences of soldiers in the field.  Their everyday heroism is painted in varying shades of moral ambiguity, while their internal struggles are shown to receive no emotional closure.  As in real life, the story arcs of the fictional characters seen here are left open-ended, and the possibility of redeployment looms not just as an act of cruel fate but as a conscious and determined choice.

Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database.