Sunday, February 27, 2011

OSCAR DAY!

It's the biggest day of the year, and it feels like this Oscar season flew right by!  Most of them seem to saunter on for awhile but this one just came and went.  I think it's probably because so many of the films nominated this year were on the latter half of the release schedule, unlike last year's crop which had much more room for the films to breathe release-wise, which left the Oscar season feeling like a year-long thing!  Which...it is...but normally there's no formal prognosticating until after the September festivals.  So here are my predictions for the winners tonight along with the should wins: those I think deserve the gold man more.

Best Picture


Will win: The King's Speech
Should win: The Social Network
  • My favorite is actually Black Swan, but I have to remind myself that my own criteria for Best Picture is much different than the Academy's.  I always thought Best Picture should go to the most original, most eye-opening, most cinematic, and most well-done film of the year.  The Academy thinks it should go to the best film that most people like.  Since The King's Speech is a very well-done crowd-pleaser, it will surely win.  The Social Network is the critical darling and daring piece of Shakespearean theme that is very contemporary, and whilst it seems it would be perfectly groomed for Oscar's current sensibilities,  the Academy wants feel-good royalty-porn sophistication over spit-fire dialogue and classical themes in a contemporary setting.  Perhaps The Social Network is too youthful?  No matter what I'll be disappointed with a victory here for The King's Speech...even if it means Harvey Weinstein gets his groove back
Best Actor
Will win: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Should Win: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
  • Eisenberg's Zuckerberg is instantly iconic.  Colin Firth does a fantastic job and is surely deserving, but is this Oscar's way of repaying him for his loss last year for A Single Man?  Clearly he should be winning for that performance.  I think in the years to come people will look upon this win as deserving but taking away the Oscar from a performance that transcends the medium and speaks far beyond the screen: Eisenberg's.  **sigh** Another year, another Best Actor win I understand but am disappointed in.
Best Actress
Will win: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Should win: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
  • Thank goodness for the Best Actress category.  With the exception of last year I almost always agree with the win here.  Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet (albeit for the wrong film), Helen Mirren, Reese Witherspoon (what a paltry year), etc.  This year is no exception.  I'm just sad that Nicole Kidman's incredible/amazing/ZOMG performance in Rabbit Hole is up against this, because it is a very close second to this performance.  As is Michelle Williams.  What a great year this was for Best Actress contenders!  And when you look at the performances that didn't make the shortlist: Tilda Swinton in I Am Love, Julianne Moore in The Kids are All Right, Hilary Swank in Conviction, Lesley Manville in Another Year, Kim Hye-Ja in Mother, Sally Hawkins in Made in Dagenham, etc.  Amazing.  
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Should Win: Christian Bale, The Fighter
  • Supporting Actor is another really great category this year, but nothing can stand up to Christian Bale's hurricane of a performance.  He's the beating heart of that film and is long overdue for recognition for a career of incredible work.
Best Supporting Actress
Will win: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Should win: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
  • I'm really hoping Hailee Steinfeld pulls out a win here.  My gut is telling me it isn't going to happen, but god I hope so.  The Academy almost always goes for scenery-chewing in the Supporting Actress category, and most of the time I don't mind.  But in this case I think that Melissa Leo is playing a caricature not a character and don't think she deserves the win whatsoever.  Especially against Hailee Steinfeld who I think put in the best breakout performance of 2010 with her Mattie Ross in True Grit. That is an obvious lead performance that was sadly pushed to supporting but I'm hoping that push will net her a gold man!  This is the one place in the acting categories where I think my 'should win' could actually net a win!
Best Director
Will win: David Fincher, The Social Network
Should win: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
  • The Social Network is a testament to what a great director can do with great material, and David Fincher deserves the win that he'll hopefully net tonight.  Especially after having a career with such fantastic films that have repeatedly gone unnoticed by most awards bodies.  I do think that Black Swan, though, is as much about Aronofsky's direction as it is about Natalie Portman's performance.  He will win eventually in his lifetime (I hope), but that film was a director's showcase.  
Best Original Screenplay
Will win: David Seidler, The King's Speech
Should win: Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg, The Kids Are All Right

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will win: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Should win: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Best Animated Film 
Will win: Toy Story 3
Should win: How to Train Your Dragon
  • All I have to say is that How to Train Your Dragon is a much better film than Toy Story 3.  I think the threequel is a great way to end the series, but I do not think it holds a candle to Toothless and the adventures of that great film.  I'm overall pretty pissed off at how many nominations Toy Story 3 received.  I think they're mostly undeserved.  
Best Foreign Language Film

Will win: In a Better World
Should win: Dogtooth
  • I'm surprised after watching Dogtooth that it received a nomination in the first place.  I wasn't surprised when it made the shortlist the first time, but I was quite shocked it made the final five.  It's a better film than anything else nominated, but it's so against Academy sensibilities for this category that it has no chance of winning.  I haven't seen In a Better World but I hear very mixed things.
Best Achievement in Cinematography


Will win: Roger Deakins, True Grit
Should win: Tie: Roger Deakins, True Grit, Matthew Libatique, Black Swan
  • I know.  I cheated.  But I couldn't pick what should win since both films are SO reliant on their cinematography and the work in both films is so unbelievably amazing!  If The King's Speech pulls a win here I'll be so pissed.  This is a category I love but we rarely agree.  Deakins has had so much work nominated (including one of my favorite films: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) and has NEVER won.  EVER.  His work in True Grit is amazing and he deserves the win for sure.  But I would love Libatique to win.
Best Achievement in Editing

Will win: Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall, The Social Network
Should win: Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall, The Social Network

Best Achievement in Art Direction

Will win: The King's Speech
Should win: Inception
  • I'm not going to talk about The King's Speech porn-gate 2010 since so much ink has been spilled over it already.  If the barf-inducing environments of Tim Burton's terrible Alice in Wonderland wins here it'll be a sad day for the world.  So I'm hoping the wonderfully fully-realized alternate world of Inception would win if The King's Speech for some odd reason didn't.  I just don't think that The King's Speech was as well art directed as it appears.  I think the cinematography makes it look like a better job-well-done than it really is.
Best Achievement in Costume Design

Will win: The King's Speech
Should win: I Am Love
  • Because the ballet costumes for Black Swan were designed by the Mulleavy sisters of Rodarte and not Amy Westcott, it missed a nomination.  Apparently guild rules did not allow the Rodarte sisters to take credit for the costumes alongside Westcott.  Which is unfortunate since it would've been my pick for the win and could've possibly been the actual winner.  I Am Love is the best of the nominees by far.  The King's Speech costumes served the film well but were so BLAH.  Don't we want opulence in our costuming?  Or at least fabulosity?  Go I Am Love!!!
Best Make-Up
This looks ridiculous.

Will win: The Wolfman
Should win: Anything else.

Best Original Score


Will win: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, The Social Network
Should win: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, The Social Network
  • This is a hard category to call since Alexandre Desplat could take it for The King's Speech or Hans Zimmer could take it for Inception.  Due to stupid rules that piss me off, neither Black Swan nor True Grit were eligible to be nominated, since the former was my favorite score of the year.  Clint Mansell is a genius, and that film is so much about the score.  I think The Social Network is the best of the crop of nominees, and hopefully the voters saw it the same way!
Best Original Song

Will Win: Toy Story 3, "We Belong Together"
Should Win: Tangled, "I See the Light"
  • Another really crappy category.  No songs from Burlesque?!  Only one song from Country Strong and a fairly blah one?!  I've never heard of nor heard the Toy Story 3 song, but I would pick the Tangled song because it was my favorite part of the film and a song I've been listening to on my iPod since I saw the film in November.  It's not the best song of the year by a mile, but it reminds me of the Disney songs of yore, and oh how I miss them.  Good news is Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi will be performing it tonight!  Also, Florence Welch from Florence+The Machine will be performing the 127 Hours song with A.R. Rahman!  Exciting!
Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: Inception
Should Win: Salt

Best Sound Editing
Will win: Inception
Should win: Inception

Best Visual Effects

Will win: Inception
Should win: Inception
  • Both Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and TRON: Legacy should've been here.  Especially over Alice in Wonderland and Iron Man 2.  I would say Hereafter is undeserving but that tsunami in the beginning of the film was quite impressive.
Best Documentary Feature

Will win: Exit Through the Gift Shop
Should win: Exit Through the Gift Shop or Restrepo
  • Inside Job could easily take this as well, but I'm hoping Banksy will take it.  It was the most enjoyable documentary I'd seen all year, and had some really interesting questions into the nature of art and art criticism.  Restrepo was a great and very emotional film that I also enjoyed and it would certainly be deserving of a gold man...but I doubt it will get it.  
Best Documentary, Short Subject
Will win: "Strangers No More"

Best Short Film, Animated
Will win: "Madagascar: A Journey Diary"

Best Short Film, Live Action
Will win: "God of Love"
  • I sadly haven't seen all of the films in any of the above three categories, so I can't adequately give a recommendation for 'should win'.  My picks are purely off of buzz I've heard for the categories.

HAPPY OSCAR DAY!  I hope that you all enjoy the show!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Greatness

The dancing in this clip is ridiculous and normally falls somewhere between the dancers having a stroke or an epileptic seizure, but the clip is so stylish!  It's from an Indian film from 1965 called Gumnaan  And it partly opens a favorite film of mine which will be discussed very soon!!!  Enjoy:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

TO-DIE: Gucci Fall 2011 RTW

I've never been a constant fan of Gucci.  I think they occasionally put out really great collections, but for me Frida Giannini's time designing for Gucci has been either WOW (Spring 2011) or blah (Fall 2010).  But Giannini's collection for Fall 2011 is a stunner.  On top of that it's the brand's 90th anniversary, so kudos all around!  Giannini stated that her inspirations for the collection were Anjelica Huston as photographed by Bob Richardson:




and the goddess Florence Welch (of Florence+The Machine, of course):







God I love that woman so fucking much.

And what has been wrought from these two inspirations is a beautiful collection of color, class, '70s inspirations, and something inherently Gucci even though it seems to differentiate itself from the fashion house's usual output.  Some of my fave looks (there are many this time!):

















My favorite Florence song, which also happens to be my favorite ballad of all time.  It may be my favorite song of all time, actually....perhaps:


Hot: Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters (1984)

I love Sig, especially as Ripley in the Alien franchise, but my goodness she is so hot/awesome in Ghostbusters:





Hilarious.  I just saw this movie for the first time today.  I've seen bits and pieces throughout my life, but never the movie in its entirety.  I was quite underwhelmed but only because it's LOVED by everyone.  I don't think my expectations could've been higher.  But it's still such a fun movie and Bill Murray/Rick Moranis/Sigourney Weaver are all hilarious in ways I couldn't enjoy more.

Admiration: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's portion of Freakonomics (2010)


The whole of Freakonomics is very interesting and provocative, but Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's (Jesus Camp) portion about bribing 9th Graders to pass their courses was the most interesting to me, even if it wasn't the most eye-opening.

The way the experiment works is that the University of Chicago picked a public school in a Chicagoan suburb and decided to see the effects of payment for passing grades would have on the entire 9th grade class.  If the students had grades that were 'C' or above, had no more than 1 unexcused absences, and zero all-day suspensions they would get paid $50 for each month that the standards were met.  They also got put into a lottery where the lucky chosen student would receive an additional $500 and a ride home in a Hummer-limo.  The film follows around two separate students.  One of them is almost completely failing, one has a mixed bag of grades.  The former cares nothing about school and his passing, the other just doesn't do his homework despite having obvious intelligence.

The experiment seems as though it would made for insanely successful results.  At the end the experimenters do discover that 45-50 students passed 9th grade because of the experiment than in years past.  Yet the two students that we focus on don't do as well as it would seem.  The student who never did his homework does reach the standards for the last month and ends up finally passing, but the other student's grades actually worsen, and he ends up failing 9th grade entirely.  And the former student's grades never reach anything more than a B-.  So not exactly stellar results.

I was just completely flabbergasted at the level of disinterest these students have in their education and what it means for their futures!  The student who doesn't care anything about his grades wants to join the military, but doesn't understand that not every faction of the military is going to accept him just because he's willing.  The other student seems to have genuine ambition, but it is squandered because he doesn't understand the gravity of attaining a high school diploma.  I don't remember ever speaking with someone who didn't care about getting their high school education and I was there only 5 years ago.

I guess I'm trying to say that this portion of the film scared the shit out of me.  I know that education isn't for everyone and that there are a ridiculous amount of students who are succeeding and who care about their futures, but these two had no idea what the world was like, and they come from low-income single-parent families and should know the travails their mothers go to in order to support them.  If not even the incentive of a possible $550 a month gets them to perform exceptionally, can they perform to that level?

A brief look at the experiment:


Trailer to the full film:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hiatus!

I will be away through this upcoming Wednesday, the 23rd of February, so posting will freeze during that time.  I'm sorry for all of those who are reading, but I promise as soon as I return I will pick right back up where I've left off!

It's a good thing London fashion week is going on whilst I'm away anyway since it normally is the least exciting!

Feel free to enjoy some of my favorite blogs:

The Film Experience - A great cinema blog run by the wonderful and handsome Nathaniel R.!  Check out his annual Film Bitch Awards (most of which I agree with), which are underway right now!

In Contention - Run by Kris Tapley and Guy Lodge this is THE site for all your awards-watching needs.  They do a fantastic job.

Stale Popcorn - A great cinema-blog run by the adorable Australian Glenn Dunks.  Check out his round-up of the best and worst posters from 2010 (Pt.1, Pt.2, Pt. 3).  It's fantastic stuff.

Otherwise have a great beginning to your week!

Thoughts and Grade: Gertrud (1964)

Gertrud (dir. Dreyer, 1964)

I found Dreyer's Gertrud  to be insufferable.  I found it so plodding and unwatchable that I actually considered turning it off about 70 minutes in to the film.  Now, if you want to cry heretic on me, go ahead.  It pains me so much to admit that a film which would seemingly tick all of my boxes (foreign, art house, technically adventurous, slow-burn, relationship drama) ended up infuriating me.


Gertrud is the story of a woman in a loveless marriage who ends the marriage and finds love with a young composer.  That's it.  The film examines Gertrud as she maneuvers through these 3 men in her lives, blahblahblah.  The problem with the film is that it's so flat.  The plot is not enough to sustain an audience's interests, and the characters are certainly rounded, but just completely insufferable.  I found myself constantly rolling my eyes at the endless conversations and the constant vacillations of Gertrud between whom she loves and what she should do about it.


Now, I'm not at all one of those filmgoers who needs to 'like' my characters to enjoy a film.  I think if you have to like characters to enjoy a film than you're just as close-minded as people who only go to see 'happy' films because "we don't need to be depressed at the movies."  Ok.  But I think the characters in this film suffer solely because the film is an exercise in style.  It's most well-known from being strung together by under 90 shots.  The longest shot being almost 10 minutes in length.  THAT is the focus of the film.  Not the plot, not the characters, but Dreyer's camera work.  It frustrates me because while it is certainly a feat of artistic merit, it does not a good film make.  I can give credit where credit is due, but that doesn't let me forget the parts of the film which have suffered due to this technical focus. 

Grade: C-

TO-DIE: Jonathan Saunders Fall 2011 RTW

Jonathan Saunders was inspired by the experimental 30s and 40s color photography of Paul Outerbridge for his newest collection, and what results it has yielded!  Saunders has always been a master of print and color but he's truly out-done himself.  Neon oranges and teals for FALL?!  I'm 100% in.  It's a complete turnaround from the sobering displays by Michael Kors and Calvin Klein (both collections were great American sportswear but did not feel fresh).  So leave it to London to really get the Fall collections moving in the fun department.  I find this collection quite similar to his compatriot Victoria Beckham's collection, which I of course featured and love.  So here's a taste of his collection, and my faves from it:












Have I mentioned Jonathan Saunders is one salty piece?  Well.  He is: