Archive for the ‘Speculative Review’ Category

July Flix

June 30, 2008

Is it July already? I still haven’t caught up on the few movies from June that I wanted to see — WALL-E, The Incredible Hulk, and probably Wanted. But, there are a few flicks coming out in July that have peaked my interest…

Hancock (July 2) — There are heroes… there are superheroes… and then there’s Hancock. With great power comes great responsibility — everyone knows that — everyone, that is, but Hancock. Edgy, conflicted, sarcastic, and misunderstood, Hancock’s well-intentioned heroics might get the job done and save countless lives, but always seem to leave jaw-dropping damage in their wake. The public has finally had enough — as grateful as they are to have their local hero, the good citizens of Los Angeles are wondering what they ever did to deserve this guy.

Word on the street is that this movie is uneven — starts off solid, and then spins out of control. i like Will Smith, and I like Jason Bateman. On the surface this seems like the kind of movie that’d be right up my alley, but I’m not sure if I’ll actually make it to the theater to check it out. Might be a DVD or DirecTV viewing.

Hellboy II (July 11) — After an ancient truce existing between humankind and the invisible realm of the fantastic is broken, hell on Earth is ready to erupt. A ruthless leader who treads the world above and the one below defies his bloodline and awakens an unstoppable army of creatures. Now, it’s up to the planet’s toughest, roughest superhero to battle the merciless dictator and his marauders.

I’ve seen the first Hellboy, though not all in one setting. I’ve caught bits and pieces of various airings on DirecTV. Having read many of the Hellboy comic books, I’m familiar with the character and backstory, and have always appreciated the franchise — though have never quite bonded with Hellboy. This sequel actually looks better than its predecessor — but is it enough to actually pull me into the theater? Definitely looks good enough to sit through and watch in one sitting at home though.

The Dark Knight (July 18 ) — With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to destroy organized crime in Gotham for good. The triumvirate proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a rising criminal mastermind known as the Joker, who thrusts Gotham into anarchy and forces the Dark Knight ever closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante.

Here’s another comic book movie sequel in which I didn’t see the predecessor in the theater, but managed to see most of, if not all of, in multiple viewings on DirecTV. (I swear I bought the DVD the day it was released. It’s still factory sealed on the shelf. I’m a bad fanboy.) But, the latest Batman movie definitely looks worth checking out while it’s still at the cineplex as opposed to DVD. And, there’s the portrayal of the Joker by Heath Ledger.

Space Chimps (July 18 ) — Two NASA chimps are sent to a galaxy far, far away. One chimp has ‘The Right Stuff,’ and the other, a good natured goofball, has ‘The Wrong Stuff.’ The two chimps find themselves on a strange, uncharted planet, where they embark on a fantastical journey to save its inhabitants from a tyrannical leader.

This movie looks fun on paper. It’s got chimps. It’s got chimps in space. It’s got Patrick Warburton doing the voice of one of the chimps in space. But something tells me that it’s just not going to measure up to the ‘bot in space movie that comes out three weeks prior. Yeah, I just clicked over to review the trailer once again before finishing up this entry… I’ll be checking this flick out on DirecTV.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe (July 25) — In grand “X-Files” manner, the film’s storyline is being kept under wraps. This much can be revealed: It is a stand-alone story in the tradition of some of the show’s most acclaimed and beloved episodes, and takes the complicated relationship between Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in unexpected directions.

I never thought in a thousand years that this movie was ever going to be made and released. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the X-Files. I dug the television series (at least while Mulder was still around), and I dug the first movie, X-Files: Fight the Future. But that was ten years ago. I’ll probably go see this movie in the theater — I feel that I’ve invested enough over the years to “want to believe.” That, and I want to see if I’m still crushing on Gillian Anderson/Dana Skully.

So, it looks like The Dark Knight and The X-Files: I Want To Believe look like definite flicks I’ll be checking out in the theater. Handcock has about a 50/50 chance, but will probably end up a DVD viewing along with Hellboy II. Coming in August I’m already eying The Pineapple Express and The Perfect Game.

June Flix

May 28, 2008

Well, May is about wrapped up and it’s time to look at what’s ahead movie-wise for the month of June. But, before we do, looking back at May I managed to see three of the four movies that I featured in my May Flix post — not too bad considering my record for the previous months of 2008. Though, as I type this my fourth flick pick, Sex and the City, hasn’t been released just yet. I do still fully intend to see it — I just thought I’d get a jump on the upcoming month in movies.

Kung Fu Panda (June 6) – Enthusiastic, big and a little clumsy, Po is the biggest fan of Kung Fu around…which doesn’t exactly come in handy while working every day in his family’s noodle shop. Unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy, Po’s dreams become reality when he joins the world of Kung Fu and studies alongside his idols, the legendary Furious Five — Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey — under the leadership of their guru, Master Shifu.

I saw the trailer for this plenty of times — in fact it ran before the three movies that I did go see in May. I think I’ve pretty much seen the whole movie. There’s really nothing that stands out in what I’ve seen, read, or heard about Kung Fu Panda to motivate me to go to the cineplex to catch this flick. I’m sure I’ll watch it here and there when it turns up on DirecTV.

You Don’t Mess With The Zohan (June 6) – Zohan, an Israeli commando, fakes his own death in order to pursue his dream: becoming a hairstylist in New York.

I believe I saw this trailer with every May flick as well — and, while I may have found it amusing, I think I’ll be giving this flick a pass at the theaters as well. It looks as if all of the real funny gags may have been featured in the preview. Also, I don’t think I want to break my on-going streak of never having seen an Adam Sandler movie in the theater since 1992’s Shakes the Clown.

The Incredible Hulk (June13) — Scientist Bruce Banner desperately hunts for a cure to the gamma radiation that poisoned his cells and unleashes the unbridled force of rage within him: The Hulk. Living in the shadows–cut off from a life he knew and the woman he loves, Betty Ross–Banner struggles to avoid the obsessive pursuit of his nemesis, General Thunderbolt Ross, and the military machinery that seeks to capture him and brutally exploit his power.

Five years ago I went to the movies to see Hulk. Now in 2008, it’s The Incredible Hulk. Well, we’ll see… This cinematic incarnation of Bruce Banner/Hulk cannot be any worse than it was five years ago. I admire the fact that producer Gale Anne Hurd is going back and trying to make a decent Hulk movie after the failed attempt of the first. It wasn’t that the Hulk flick of five years ago was horrible — it just wasn’t good, and it completely fell apart at the end (a lot more so than Indy 4). Now that Marvel Studios have reacquired the film rights to the character I believe that a better Hulk movie can be made. We shall see.

Get Smart (June 13) – Maxwell Smart is on a mission to thwart the latest plot for world domination by the evil crime syndicate known as KAOS. When the headquarters of U.S. spy agency Control is attacked and the identities of its agents compromised, the Chief has no choice but to promote his ever-eager analyst Maxwell Smart, who has always dreamt of working in the field alongside stalwart superstar Agent 23. Smart is partnered instead with the only other agent whose identity has not been compromised: the lovely-but-lethal veteran Agent 99.

Would you believe… I was more excited about this movie back in January when I posted about the Smart Casting. Now? Not so much. I still believe that the movie’s casting is inspired, but now I’m beginning to feel that perhaps too much may have been pinned on the casting. There is after all, a story to be told — and nothing that I’ve heard, read, or seen is really exciting me beyond their casting choices. At this point, the jury is still out.

WALL-E (June 27) – What if mankind had to leave Earth, and somebody forgot to turn the last robot off? Wall-E, spends every day doing what he was made for. But soon, he will discover what he was meant for, as he adventures across the galaxy chasing his dream.

Done. I’m sold. I’m there. There hasn’t been a Pixar movie that I haven’t liked/loved — well, except for Cars (which to me seemed like an animated remake of Doc Hollywood but with talking cars.)

Wanted (June 27) – 25-year-old Wes was the most disaffected, cube-dwelling drone the planet had ever known. His boss chewed him out hourly, his girlfriend ignored him routinely and his life plodded on interminably. Everyone was certain this disengaged slacker would amount to nothing. There was little else for Wes to do but wile away the days and die in his slow, clock-punching rut. Until he met a woman named Fox.

I read the comic book series written by Mark Millar back in 2003 in which this film is “loosely” based on. I liked the comic well enough, but I just don’t have the excited anticipation for the flick as I would for other comic book based movies.

It looks as if June has a lot of potential as a pick flick month, but the comic book and/or superhero inspired theme continues well into July with The Dark Knight, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and Hancock.

May Flix

April 29, 2008

Alright. Now we’re talking. The 2008 Summer blockbuster season officially kicks off on May 2nd. Sure, I’ve only been to the cineplex twice this year so far. But, that’s all about to change in May.

Iron Man (May 2) — Tony Stark is a billionaire industrialist and genius inventor who is kidnapped and forced to build a devastating weapon. Instead, using his intelligence and ingenuity, Tony builds a high-tech suit of armor and escapes captivity. When he uncovers a nefarious plot with global implications, he dons his powerful armor and vows to protect the world as Iron Man.

When I first heard that actor Robert Downey Jr. was cast in the role of billionaire industrialist Tony Stark I was on board. This is great casting. I probably never would have come up with that casting choice, but I’m glad that they did and I’m eager to see how Downey pulls it off. The original Tony Stark of the Iron Man comics has a lot of inner demons — how or if they’re addressed in the movies (Downey has signed on for three Iron Man flicks), and how the actor approaches them will be interesting to watch.

Speed Racer (May 9) — Born to race cars, Speed Racer is aggressive, instinctive and, most of all, fearless. His only real competition is the memory of the brother he idolized – the legendary Rex Racer, whose death in a race has left behind a legacy that Speed is driven to fulfill. Speed is loyal to the family racing business, led by his father, Pops Racer, the designer of Speed’s thundering Mach 5. When Speed turns down a lucrative and tempting offer from Royalton Industries, he not only infuriates the company’s maniacal owner but uncovers a terrible secret – some of the biggest races are being fixed by a handful of ruthless moguls who manipulate the top drivers to boost profits. If Speed won’t drive for Royalton, Royalton will see to it that the Mach 5 never crosses another finish line.

I have been waiting for a Speed Racer movie for over twenty-five years. Way back in the day I had my own ideas as to what kind of Speed Racer movie I would make and who which actors would portray Speed, Trixie, Pops, Racer X, and the rest of the Racer clan. No, I’m not going to reveal them here — I was fifteen at the time. Now, while what I have seen in trailers and clips may not be exactly how I imagined a Speed Racer movie to be, what I have seen has been mesmerizing and intriguing. This should be a great popcorn movie.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May 22) — In 1957, Indiana Jones is thrust back in action, venturing into the jungles of South America in a race against Soviet agents to find the mystical Crystal Skull.

After Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark is probably my second favorite movie of all time. (Star Wars: A New Hope probably clocks in at third.) Now, while I was content with probably never seeing an additional Indiana Jones adventure on the big screen after The Last Crusade some nineteen years ago, I’m glad Harrison Ford is reprising the role nonetheless. Plain and simple — if there’s an Indiana Jones movie, I’m there.

Sex and the City (May 30) — The continuing adventures of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda as they live their lives in Manhattan four years after the series ended.

Alright, my cool-nerd factor just dropped with the mention of this flick, but it’s on my list of movies that I’m looking forward to. After having my girlfriend turn me onto six seasons worth of syndicated reruns I feel that I have committed myself enough to my relationship with the show that it warrants a trip to the cineplex to see the movie. Now, the question is… Is my girlfriend going to see the movie with her girlfriends, thus leaving me to my own device and having to go by myself?

Now, looking ahead, what does June have in store for us? The Incredible Hulk, Get Smart, Wall-E, and maybe Wanted.

April Flix

March 28, 2008

March is coming to a close as we get ready for the release of all the great films that are scheduled to be released in April. Whassat? There aren’t a lot of great movies being released in April of 2008? Alright then, what are some of my choices rolling out on the big screen in April?

leatherheads_ra.jpgLeatherheads (Apr4) — In 1925, Dodge Connolly is a charming, brash football hero who is determined to guide his team from bar brawls to packed stadiums. But after the players lose their sponsor and the entire league faces certain collapse, Dodge convinces a college football star to join his ragtag ranks. The captain hopes his latest move will help the struggling sport finally capture the country’s attention. Welcome to the team Carter Rutherford, America’s favorite son. A golden-boy war hero who single-handedly forced multiple German soldiers to surrender in WWI, Carter has dashing good looks and unparalleled speed on the field.

I’ve seen enough of this movie already just by viewing the TV spots. The advertising budget for this film must’ve been more than the production budget. I’ve seen so many different commercials for Leatherheads with a wide range of programming that the promoters of this movie are definitely going for the shotgun approach. I’m already tired of the period-piece “North Dallas Forty” that looks too cute to be a football movie. I might catch bits of it here and there when it undoubtedly ends up in heavy rotation on Showtime and HBO.

streetkings_ra.jpgStreet Kings (Apr 11) — Tom Ludlow, a veteran LAPD Vice Detective, sets out on a quest to discover the killers of his former partner, Detective Terrance Washington. Captain Wander’s, Ludlow’s supervisor, duties include keeping him within the confines of the law–and out of the clutches of Internal Affairs Captain Biggs. Ludlow teams up with a young Robbery Homicide Detective to track Washington’s killers through the diverse communities of Los Angeles. Their determination pays off when the two detectives track down Washington’s murderers and confront them in an attempt to bring them to justice.

Two things look like they may be distracting in this movie — Keanu Reeves and Hugh Laurie. I’m not a Keanu-hater but he tends to look uncomfortable in more roles than he looks comfortable in. And even though I don’t watch House, I will think House whenever Laurie is on the screen. Though, Cedric The Entertainer aside, it looks to have an interesting cast with Forest Whitaker, Jay Mohr, and Common. I’ll probably catch this on Showtime/HBO.

forgettingsarahmarshall_ra.jpgForgetting Sarah Marshall (Apr 18) — After a devastating break-up with his girlfriend, TV sitcom star Sarah Marshall, a heartbroken and depressed Peter heads to Hawaii for a little vacation to try his best to forget every detail of his relationship. But love laughs at Peter, because Sarah is vacationing in the same exclusive resort as Peter, along with her new boyfriend.

This movie has Marshal from How I Met Your Mother in it. Regardless that actor Jason Segel plays an entirely different character named Peter, he’ll still come across come as Marshal from How I Met Your Mother. Though, Mila Kunis is in it. If I hear good word-of-mouth it might be worth a DVD purchase — the same route I went with Knocked Up.

haroldandkumar2_ra.jpgHarold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (Apr 25) — The same morning that Harold and Kumar eat at White Castle, Harold learns that Maria, the girl he lusts after, has set off for Amsterdam. The pair decide to pursue her so Harold can proclaim his love. However, an overzealous airline passenger mistakes Kumar for a terrorist, and the plane is diverted as the duo get stuck in a case of mistaken identity.

Why the hell not? But like the first movie, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, this looks to be a kick back and watch at home movie — over and over again on Showtime/HBO, rather you like it our not.

Next month there are a couple of “little” films that are blipping on my movie radar for May — Iron Man, Speed Racer, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull — and yes, even Sex and the City Movie.

March Flix

March 1, 2008

Well, of the two movies released in February that I picked as possibly seeing — as slim as the chances were — I saw neither. Jumper didn’t manage to interest me enough to actually make the trek to the cineplex, and I didn’t see Diary of the Dead playing anywhere nearby in its limited release. Hopefully March looks better on the movie front…

ra_10000bc_poster.jpg10,000 B.C. (Mar 7) — In a remote mountain tribe, the young hunter, D’Leh, has found his heart’s passion — the beautiful Evolet. When a band of mysterious warlords raid his village and kidnap Evolet, D’Leh is forced to lead a small group of hunters to pursue the warlords to the end of the world to save her. Driven by destiny, the unlikely band of warriors must battle saber-tooth tigers and prehistoric predators and, at their heroic journey’s end, they uncover a Lost Civilization.

There’s no arguing that this movie looks like it’ll be full of great eye candy — but beyond that, I’m not sure there’ll be much more. I like nifty looking effects as much as the next fanboy, but from what I’ve seen there looks to be little more than that — a sort of Quest for Fire with a big bankrolled special effects budget. I’m also not sure if I’ve forgiven director Roland Emmerich for Godzilla. Perhaps if I hear good word of mouth I’ll set forth on a quest to catch this flick at the theater. Otherwise, it looks like it might be catching it on satellite.

ra_doomsday_poster.jpgDoomsday (Mar 14) — A lethal virus spreads throughout a major country and kills hundreds of thousands. To contain the newly identified Reaper, the authorities brutally quarantine the country as it succumbs to fear and chaos. The literal walling-off works for three decades–until Reaper violently resurfaces in a major city. An elite group of specialists, including Eden Sinclair, is urgently dispatched into the still-quarantined country to retrieve a cure by any means necessary.

I’m a sucker for a good “Mad Max” type post-apocalyptic celluloid yarn. This flick looks like, while it may not contain any sort of deep story or plot, it will have a lot of nitty-gritty punk anarchy along the lines of the classic Escape From New York. Depending on how long of a flick it is, this may serve as an opportunity of worthwhile afternoon escapism — but odds are it’ll end up as a DVD viewing.

ra_hortonhearsawho_poster.jpgDr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who (Mar 14) — The imaginative elephant Horton hears a cry for help coming from a tiny speck of dust floating through the air. Suspecting there may be life on that speck and despite a surrounding community which thinks he has lost his mind, Horton is determined to help.

I think I’m just outright passing on this flick altogether. I’ve got no real interest in what is an enjoyable and concise children’s story drawn out to an hour and a half (approximate) movie with a lot of “filler.” The Dr. Seuss’ stories work great as they are — not everything needs to be turned into a movie. For the record, I’ll be passing on Hop On Pop and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish when they finally get around to adapting those stories into movies.

ra_runfatboyrun_poster.jpgRun, Fatboy, Run (Mar 28) — A charming but oblivious overweight guy leaves his fiancee on their wedding day only to discover years later that he really loves her. To win her back, he must finish a marathon while making her realize that her new handsome, wealthy fiance is the wrong guy for her.

Alright, we got a movie in March that might qualify as a date movie for my girlfriend. Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) is reason enough for me to want to go and see this flick. Hank Azaria is another plus as well. Though I find it interesting that Ross from Friends (a.k.a. David Schwimmer) is directing what sounds like a flick that could pass as a “quirky British art film.”

ra_americanzombie_poster.jpgAmerican Zombie (Mar 28) — Two filmmakers team up to document a group of zombies in Los Angeles and their struggle to gain acceptance in the human community.

I know nothing about this movie. I went to the official web site to check out the trailer, but was unable to view the whole trailer before it quit on me — so I still know very little about this movie. It sounds like an interesting concept. Whether or not I seek out a screening in its limited release depends on what I hear and/or read about this flick in the next four weeks.

So, the prognosis for March flix — Run, Fatboy, Run has a good chance of being seen in the cineplex, and maybe, just maybe, Doomsday as well. This year is getting off to a slow start for me, movie-wise. Possible April excursions — Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay. May can’t get here soon enough.

Speculating On The 80th Round Of Oscars® [AMENDED]

February 24, 2008

Back on January 22nd I speculated on the winners for the 80th annual Academy Awards. Here’s a quick rundown on what I picked with a few last minute amendments. Like a lot of folks I will be gathered with friends watching the event played out on television — the same house and folks that I watched the Super Bowl with. It’s a reason to get together with friends, eat junk food, throw back a couple of beers, and judge the appearances of those attending the actual event at the Kodak Theater.

Performance by an actor in a leading role

  • Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood”

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

  • Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men”

[AMENDED] Performance by an actress in a leading role

  • Ellen Page in “Juno” – Having seen Juno now I’m going to have to go with my new crush Ellen Page on this one. Originally, I was going with Julie Christie to win for Away From Her.

[AMENDED] Performance by an actress in a supporting role

  • Ruby Dee in “American Gangster” – I’m going with more of an award for her body of work than this actual role. Originally I had Cate Blanchett picked for her role in I’m not There.

Best animated feature film of the year

  • “Ratatouille” (Walt Disney)

Achievement in art direction

  • “There Will Be Blood” – Art Direction: Jack Fisk, Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Achievement in cinematography

  • “No Country for Old Men” – Roger Deakins

Achievement in costume design

  • “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” – Colleen Atwood

Achievement in directing

  • “There Will Be Blood” – Paul Thomas Anderson

Achievement in film editing

  • “No Country for Old Men” – Roderick Jaynes

Best foreign language film of the year

  • “Mongol” – Kazakhstan

Achievement in makeup

  • “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” – Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

  • Atonement” – Dario Marianelli

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

  • “So Close” from “Enchanted” – Music by Alan Menken, Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

Best motion picture of the year

  • “There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)

Achievement in sound editing

  • “Transformers” – Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins

Achievement in sound mixing

  • “Transformers” – Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

Achievement in visual effects

  • “Transformers” – Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier

Adapted screenplay

  • “No Country for Old Men” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Original screenplay

  • “Juno” Written by Diablo Cody

Speculating On The 80th Round Of Oscars®

January 22, 2008

Time to once again blindly (for the most part — having seen very little of the contending nominated films in the following categories) pick my picks for 80th Annual Academy Award winners. I didn’t bother with the Documentary categories this time around — figured I’d better my odds.

Performance by an actor in a leading role

  • George Clooney in “Michael Clayton”
  • Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood” – Everything that I’ve heard seems to indicate this is the performance to beat, and that likely it won’t be.
  • Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
  • Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah”
  • Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises”

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

  • Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”
  • Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men” – Having not seen the movie I’m already prepared to hand over the award to him from just what I saw of his performance in the trailer.
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War”
  • Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild”
  • Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton”

Performance by an actress in a leading role

  • Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”
  • Julie Christie in “Away from Her” – Shot in the dark here. Though my crush on Ellen Page wants me to lean toward her.
  • Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose”
  • Laura Linney in “The Savages”
  • Ellen Page in “Juno”

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

  • Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There” – Just the weird fact that she plays Bob Dylan — that, and they’re not going to give her the award for best actress.
  • Ruby Dee in “American Gangster”
  • Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement”
  • Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone”
  • Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton”

Best animated feature film of the year

  • “Persepolis” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • “Ratatouille” (Walt Disney) – This flick got a lot of nomination nods, which has me leaning toward picking it as the favorite. There’s also the fact that no one saw Persepolis — and Surf’s Up? Really?
  • “Surf’s Up” (Sony Pictures Releasing)

Achievement in art direction

  • “American Gangster” – Art Direction: Arthur Max, Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
  • “Atonement” – Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood, Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
  • “The Golden Compass” – Art Direction: Dennis Gassner, Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
  • “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” – Art Direction: Dante Ferretti, Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
  • “There Will Be Blood” – Art Direction: Jack Fisk, Set Decoration: Jim Erickson – Nice period piece, and it doesn’t look half as dark and gray as Sweeny Todd.

Achievement in cinematography

  • “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” – Roger Deakins
  • “Atonement” – Seamus McGarvey
  • “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” – Janusz Kaminski
  • “No Country for Old Men” – Roger Deakins – If the Coen brothers know how to do anything in film, they know how to get the best out of their cinematographer.
  • “There Will Be Blood” – Robert Elswit

Achievement in costume design

  • “Across the Universe” – Albert Wolsky
  • “Atonement” – Jacqueline Durran
  • “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” – Alexandra Byrne
  • “La Vie en Rose” – Marit Allen
  • “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” – Colleen Atwood – This seems to be about the right “period-piece” to usually clean up in this category.

Achievement in directing

  • “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” – Julian Schnabel
  • “Juno” – Jason Reitman
  • “Michael Clayton” – Tony Gilroy
  • “No Country for Old Men” – Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
  • “There Will Be Blood” – Paul Thomas Anderson – To complete the set of bookends when it whens Best Picture.

Achievement in film editing

  • “The Bourne Ultimatum” – Christopher Rouse
  • “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” – Juliette Welfling
  • “Into the Wild” – Jay Cassidy
  • “No Country for Old Men” – Roderick Jaynes – Nothing to really go on here other than gut feeling.
  • “There Will Be Blood” – Dylan Tichenor

Best foreign language film of the year

  • “Beaufort” – Israel
  • “The Counterfeiters” – Austria
  • “Katyń” – Poland
  • “Mongol” – Kazakhstan – The “Oh, we’re sorry we nominated Borat for best original screenplay last year” award.
  • “12” – Russia

Achievement in makeup

  • “La Vie en Rose” – Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
  • “Norbit” – Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji
  • “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” – Ve Neill and Martin Samuel – I’d love to root for Rick Baker since he’s been a hero of mine since I was a kid — but Norbit? The makeup in Pirates 3 did rock.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

  • “Atonement” – Dario Marianelli – flat out guess here.
  • “The Kite Runner” – Alberto Iglesias
  • “Michael Clayton” – James Newton Howard
  • “Ratatouille” – Michael Giacchino
  • “3:10 to Yuma” – Marco Beltrami

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

  • “Falling Slowly” from “Once” – Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
  • “Happy Working Song” from “Enchanted” – Music by Alan Menken, Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
  • “Raise It Up” from “August Rush” – Nominees to be determined
  • “So Close” from “Enchanted” – Music by Alan Menken, Lyric by Stephen Schwartz – This only counts as a third of a pick if I win since all I’m going on is that one of Enchanted‘s three nominations in this category will win.
  • “That’s How You Know” from “Enchanted” – Music by Alan Menken, Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

Best motion picture of the year

  • “Atonement” (Focus Features)
  • “Juno” (Fox Searchlight)
  • “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
  • “No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
  • “There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) – I think I’m going with the odds on favorite here — playing it safe.

Achievement in sound editing

  • “The Bourne Ultimatum” – Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
  • “No Country for Old Men” – Skip Lievsay
  • “Ratatouille” – Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
  • “There Will Be Blood” – Matthew Wood
  • “Transformers” – Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins – Saw this film! Sound was great — especially incorporating the “transforming” sound effects from the old animated show.

Achievement in sound mixing

  • “The Bourne Ultimatum” – Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
  • “No Country for Old Men” – Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
  • “Ratatouille” – Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
  • “3:10 to Yuma” – Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe
  • “Transformers” – Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin – See above.

Achievement in visual effects

  • “The Golden Compass” – Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
  • “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” – John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier
  • “Transformers” – Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier – Having the screenplay sitting at my desk for well over a year before the movie was released, I was skeptical about how they were going to pull this off. They pulled it off quite well.

Adapted screenplay

  • “Atonement” Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
  • “Away from Her” Written by Sarah Polley
  • “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
  • “No Country for Old Men” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen – I’m think this is the “sorry we didn’t give you the Best Direction nod” consolation award.
  • “There Will Be Blood” Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

Original screenplay

  • “Juno” Written by Diablo Cody – an ex-stripper with her very first screenplay being nominated?! C’mon, that’s a “Hollywood” story worthy of having a screenplay written about it itself.
  • “Lars and the Real Girl” Written by Nancy Oliver
  • “Michael Clayton” Written by Tony Gilroy
  • “Ratatouille” Screenplay by Brad Bird, Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
  • “The Savages” Written by Tamara Jenkins

Those are my picks. But, I do reserve the right to mix ’em up a bit if I happen to actually see anymore of the nominated films before February 24th. Let’s hope the writers strike is settled before then.

And, The Nominees Are…

January 21, 2008

The 80th Academy Award® nominations will be announced tomorrow (January 22, 2008) at 5:30 a.m. PST, in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. I won’t be in attendance, nor will I probably be awake. 5:30 in the a.m. is a bit too early, even for me. I’m not going to make any predictions now — other than I doubt I will have seen any of the movies nominated in the top categories. That will not however deter me from making uneducated guesses at which nominees will win one the lists become available.

Last year, I was 7 for 20 for having only seen one of any of the nominated films (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest for technical nods). I’m sure my old film instructor at CSULB, Steve Hubbert, would be very proud of me. Though, I’ll try to see a few of the nominated pics before the winners are announced next month.

My Oscar Picks

January 25, 2007

Alright gang… It’s that time of the year again — Oscar time! The nominations were released under the cloak of pre-dawn darkness last Tuesday and some were surprising and some weren’t so surprising. Now note, I didn’t see many of the nominated pictures from 2006 so this is petty much a “Speculative Preview” of my picks for this year’s winners.

Best Picture

  • The Departed
  • The Queen – Basically because it did well at the Golden Globes.
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Babel
  • Letters From Iwo Jima

Achievement in Directing

  • Martin Scorsese The Departed
  • Stephen Frears The Queen – See above.
  • Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu Babel
  • Paul Greengrass United 93
  • Clint Eastwood Letters From Iwo Jima

Best Original Screenplay

  • Babel
  • Letters From Iwo Jima
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • The Queen – Once again, see above.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  • Children of Men
  • The Departed
  • Little Children
  • Notes on a Scandal – This just looks like the kind of screenplay the Academy digs.

Best Actress

  • Helen Mirren The Queen – From what I understand, she is a “goddess” to work with and a master of her craft.
  • Judi Dench Notes on a Scandal
  • Meryl Streep The Devil Wears Prada
  • Penelope Cruz Volver
  • Kate Winslet Little Children

Best Actor

  • Forest Whitaker The Last King of Scotland – Basically to see if he can pull of a better job with his acceptance speech than he did with the Golden Globes.
  • Peter O’Toole Venus
  • Will Smith The Pursuit of Happyness
  • Leonardo DiCaprio Blood Diamond
  • Ryan Gosling Half Nelson

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jennifer Hudson Dreamgirls
  • Cate Blanchett Notes on a Scandal – Hudson got the Golden Globe and Breslin is too young and not Dakota Fanning.
  • Abigail Breslin Little Miss Sunshine
  • Adriana Barraza Babel
  • Rinko Kikuchi Babel

Best Supporting Actor

  • Eddie Murphy Dreamgirls – Shot in the dark on this one. Is he ready to be recognized? I don’t think they’ll give it to “Kelly Leak” — he has been out of the limelight for a long time.
  • Jackie Earle Haley Little Children
  • Alan Arkin Little Miss Sunshine
  • Mark Wahlberg The Departed
  • Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond

Achievement in Cinematography

  • The Black Dahlia
  • Children of Men
  • The Illusionist
  • Pan’s Labyrinth – This film just looks amazing.
  • The Prestige

Best Film Editing

  • Babel
  • Blood Diamond
  • Children of Men
  • The Departed
  • United 93 – I get the feeling that in order to keep this movie taunt it relied heavily on the editing.

Achievement in Sound Editing

  • Apocalypto
  • Blood Diamond
  • Flags of Our Fathers
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – Saw — and heard — this one.
  • Letters From Iwo Jima

Best Foreign-Language Film

  • ‘Water’ – Canada
  • ‘The Lives of Others’ – Germany
  • ‘After the Wedding’ – Denmark
  • ‘Days of Glory (Indigenes)’ – Algeria
  • ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ – Mexico – The “adult fairy tale” — I’m sold.

Best Original Song

  • ‘I Need to Wake Up’ – Music and Lyric by Melissa Etheridge An Inconvenient Truth
  • ‘Love You I Do’ – Music by Henry Krieger; Lyric by Siedah Garrett Dreamgirls
  • ‘Our Town’ – Music and Lyric by Randy Newman Cars – Isn’t Randy Newman due for another Oscar for a song that sounds so much like the others he has had nominated before?
  • ‘Patience’ – Music by Henry Krieger; Lyric by Willie Reale Dreamgirls
  • ‘Listen’ – Music by Henry Krieger and Scott Cutler; Lyric by Anne Preven Dreamgirls

Achievement in Sound Mixing

  • Apocalypto
  • Blood Diamond
  • Flags of Our Fathers
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – Sound Mixing goes with Sound Editing.
  • Dreamgirls

Best Original Score

  • Babel
  • The Good German
  • Notes on a Scandal
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • The Queen – Total guess on this one.

Best Art Direction

  • Dreamgirls
  • The Good Shepherd
  • Pan’s Labyrinth – Agian, this movie looks amazing.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
  • The Prestige

Best Animated Feature Film

  • Cars
  • Happy Feet – I didn’t see Happy Feet, but I did see Cars and I wasn’t impressed.
  • Monster House

Achievement in Makeup

  • Apocalypto
  • Click
  • Pan’s Labyrinth – Some pretty trippy looking creatures in this movie.

Achievement in Costume Design

  • Curse of the Golden Flower
  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • Dreamgirls
  • Marie Antoinette
  • The Queen – I’ve been to enough Renaissance Faires to appreciate these costumes.

Best Visual Effects

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – A lot of visual effects for a “pirate” movie — and they looked damn cool.
  • Poseidon
  • Superman Returns

How many will I actually get right? Dunno. Check back after February 25th.

Speculative Review – New Monday Primetime Outcome

September 19, 2006

Quick follow up to the two Speculative Reviews I’ve posted so far for the new Monday night primetime offerings Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip and Class.

Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip — I think I’m on board for this show. Right from the get-go I was interested in the characters and what was going on — and there’s a lot going on. If I can keep up (and stay up) I’ll be tuning in.

Class — Eh. Nothing really impressed me with this freshman outing. I’m not entirely sure that this show will make the grade, and odds are I’ll be cutting this Class.

I still have to speculate on, as well as check out, Heroes, NBC’s other new primetime offering.