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Archive for February, 2012

No rants, no opinions on what should win, just predictions: 

Best Motion Picture of the Year: The Artist

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Jean Dujardin for The Artist

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Christopher Plummer for Beginners

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Octavia Spencer for The Help

Best Achievement in Directing: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash for The Descendants

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year: Chico & Rita

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year: A Separation

Best Achievement in Cinematography: The Artist

Best Achievement in Editing: Hugo

Best Achievement in Art Direction: The Artist

Best Achievement in Costume Design: The Artist

Best Achievement in Makeup: The Iron Lady

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score: Ludovic Bource for The Artist

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song: Man or Muppet by Bret McKenzie for The Muppets

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing: Hugo

Best Achievement in Sound Editing: Hugo

Best Achievement in Visual Effects: Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White, Daniel Barrett for Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Best Documentary, Features: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky for Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

I haven’t seen anything in the other categories so no predictions. They are:

Best Documentary, Short Subjects

Best Short Film, Animated

Best Short Film, Live Action

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There has been much debate for the reasons and merits of having ten nominees in the best picture category. Having any number between five and ten makes a certain sense in the event there are no more than five suitable movies. The selection of nine when many worthy movies have been overlooked does however seem bizarre. Here are the nominated movies ranked in order of my preference (*denotes unranked as I haven’t seen the film):

The Artist
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
The Descendants
Moneyball
The Tree of Life
The Help
War Horse
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close*

Had there been ten nominations which would be the tenth selection? Here are my suggestions, many of which would be ranked above the nominated films:

Drive
The Guard
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
We Need to Talk About Kevin
The Skin I live in
Shame

Which would you chosen as the tenth nomination?

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Three years to the day after my first ever post (incidentally about the upcoming Oscars) I am here to announce the 1st Annual Groovers Movie Awards. No nominations, just winners. Ten categories, most of which are the same or similar to those in other awards. The award itself named the “Dom” is modelled after a Dom Pérignon bottle (you need to watch Fandango to understand the relevance) and will remain virtual unless Moët want to step in as a sponsor me.

Best Movie:

The Artist: A virtually silent black and white movie with a 1.37:1 aspect ratio about the end of the silent movie era doesn’t sound very exciting. The result is totally stunning, charming and funny. The overwhelming favourite for the pest picture Oscar. 

Best Director:

Martin Scorsese for Hugo: Martin Scorsese’s love letter to cinema is a stunning film beautifully made and even achieving the seemingly impossible task of making 3D work. 

Best Actress:

Tilda Swinton for We Need to Talk About Kevin: Missing out to Meryl Streep at the BAFTAs and completely overlooked by the Oscars, Tilda Swinton was my only contender for best actress.

Best Actor:

Brendan Gleeson for The Guard: Missing out to Jean Dujardin for The Artist in Golden Globes and pretty much overlooked by other awards, Brendan Gleeson reminded us what a great actor he is.

Best Screenplay:

Lynne Ramsay & Rory Kinnear for We Need to Talk About Kevin: Notable not only for how well written it is, but for what a tough job it must have been given the unusual structure of the source novel.

Best Foreign Language Film:

The Skin I live in: Winner of the BAFTA for Best Film Not in the English Language but not submitted for the equivalent Oscar (Spain chose to submit the as yet not released in the UK, Black Bread) sees Auteur Pedro Almodóvar at his bizarre best.

Best Documentary:

Senna: Not only the best documentary of the year, but the best documentary I have seen in many years.

Best Looking Movie:

Melancholia: An amalgam of many awards including Cinematography, Production Design and Art Direction. Melancholia wins the award for being the most beautiful looking movie of the year.

Movie Stars of the year:

Best actor and actress awards age given for the for individual outstanding performances but the movie star of the year award is given for an outstanding performances in multiple films in a year:

Jessica Chastain (The Help, The Tree of Life, The Debt, Take Shelter)

Michael Fassbender (Shame, X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre)

Fandango Award:

Fandango was writer/director Kevin Reynolds debut (and best) feature, and the first notable movie for star Kevin Costner. It gives its name to this award for the best breakout filmmakers of the year. The award is shared between two movies that interestingly were both co-written by their director and star:

Nick Damici and Jim Mickle for Stake Land

Mike Cahill and Brit Marling for Another Earth

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With just a week to go until the 84th Academy Awards Britain’s foremost film critic, self confessed Luddite and 3D hater Mark Kermode has announced his own awards The Kermode’s. For someone who prides himself on being opinionated he actually talks a lot of sense and as often as not his opinions tend to be spot on. The only hard and fast rule of the awards is you can’t win a Kermode in a category for which you have been nominated for an Oscar. Here are the winners of the statuette that appears to be modelled in equal parts after Mark Kermode, “Oscar” and Richard Nixon!

Best Musical: Directors Renaud Barret, Florent de La Tullaye for Benda Bilili!

Best Documentary: Director: Asif Kapadia for Senna.

Best Actor: Michael Fassbender for Shame.

Best Actress: Tilda Swinton for We Need to Talk About Kevin & Olivia Colman for Tyrannosaur.

Best Movie & Best Director: Lynne Ramsay for We Need to Talk About Kevin.

I haven’t seen Benda Bilili! so can’t comment on that one. As for the others, it is hard to believe they aren’t nominated for Oscars. Check back tomorrow for the first ever Groovers Movie Awards.

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When I posted Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (ten pairs of very different movies with the same or similar titles) last year Katie from The Stories That Really Mattered commented that she “hadn’t realised there were so many movies with the same titles”! there are lots more where that came from. Here are another ten:

Convoy (1927): A silent-film set in the in the time leading up to the first world war starring Dorothy Mackaill about a New York socialite who is recruited Secret Service agent to befriend a man believed to be a spy for the Kaiser.

Convoy (1978): Sam Peckinpah’s road movie/ modern western is based on a country song of same title by C.W. McCall and stars Kris Kristofferson as an independent truck driver and Ali MacGraw as his passenger.

The Black Swan (1942): Notorious pirate Henry Morgan turned governor of Jamaica staring Tyrone Power and Maureen O’Hara.

Black Swan (2010): Natalie Portman Oscar winning perforce as a ballet dancer on the edge in Darren Aronofsky’s physiological thriller that owns a debt t European horror movies of the 70’s.

Notorious (1946): Loosely based on the same source novel as Convoy (1927) (see above) Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant star, Alfred Hitchcock directs.

Notorious (2009): The rise and fall of rapper Christopher Wallace a.k.a. Notorious B.I.G.

Shame (1968): Haven’t seen this one so my synopsis is copied from IMDB “Ingmar Bergman’s psychological study of how humans react in a situation of war. The film takes place on Gotland, where invasion forces arrives.”

Shame (2011): Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan are devastatingly good in Steve McQueen’s portrayal of a man living with sex addiction.

Heat (1986): Burt Reynolds was for a time one of the most bankable stars in the world, this Las Vegas set mid 80’s crime thriller came shortly after that time.

Heat (1995): Focusing on two men on opposite sides of the law, Michael Mann’s crime thriller is both the directors finest hour and the last great performance (so far) from both Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.

Crossroads (1986):Director Walter Hill’s little known gem sees classical music student (Ralph Macchio) teaming up with old bluesman Willie Brown (Joe Seneca) on a road trip to the Crossroads where Robert Johnson made his deal with the devil.

Crossroads (2002): Britney Spears vehicle about a group of friends who go on a road-trip to LA to take part in a karaoke contest. Originally dismissed as a movie for Britney fans only it is actually now more significant for an early appearance by Zoe Saldana.

Jersey Girl (1992): I had not actually heard of this Dylan McDermott, Jami Gertz romance until Mark Kermode mentioned it. I have no plans to see it!

Jersey Girl (2004): The other Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez movie! The good news it is considerably better than Gigli. It doesn’t live up to Kevin Smiths earlier films but has its moments and Liv Tyler is good.

Twilight (1998): A retired ex-cop turned private detective gets involved with a twenty year old Hollywood murder case. Worth a look for Paul Newman who is as great as ever and Susan Sarandon and Gene Hackman who provide good support but the plot is a little to thin and it runs out of steam.

Twilight (2008): Catherine Hardwicke’s surprisingly good adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s teen vampire yarn.

The Avengers (1998): Disastrous movie adaptation of the classic 60’s TV show.

The Avengers (2012): Due for release later this year, the origin of Marvel’s team of superheroes.

Wonderland (1999):Michael Winterbottom’s stunning social realist movie that features a stunning performance from Gina McKee.

Wonderland (2003): The true story of porn star John Holmes and the wonderland murders.

Check back soon for Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood 3

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As mentioned on many previous occasions I love Hammer movies. I grew up watching them and still watch them to this day. A few years ago, I went to the cinema on Halloween to see a Terence Fisher’s 1958 version of Dracula staring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing despite the fact I had already seen it at least half a dozen times. With this in mind you can probably understand my excitement when it was announced a few years back the old studio had been resurrected. How are things going for the new/old studio?

Beyond the Rave (2008): Originally aired on MySpace in 2008 (I signed up just to watch this), Beyond the Rave was split into twenty-part episodes. The day before he is due to fly to Iraq, soldier Ed (Jamie Dornan) and his friend Necro (Matthew Forrest) looking for his missing girlfriend, Jen (Nora-Jane Noone). The trail leads to a rave run by vampires. The acting isn’t great and the story loses its way. The online format soon became tedious. Not a great start but a step back towards filmmaking.

Let Me In (2010): I love Tomas Alfredson’s Swedish vampire movie Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In). It was by far the best film I saw in 2009 and the best vampire movie for more than twenty years. The remake Let Me In is totally pointless. It looks fantastic and the young cast (Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloë Grace Moretz) are great but the feels strangely hollow. While the story of a bullied child is the most important thing to Let the Right One In, it is secondary to the vampire story in Let Me In. Not a bad film in its own right but only a shadow of the Swedish original.

The Resident (2011): After splitting up with her boyfriend, Dr. Juliet Devereau (Hilary Swank) moves into a new Brooklyn apartment. She soon realises something is wrong. The plot is simple and offers no surprises and little in the way of suspense. I am led to believe it was originally intended as Hammers “comeback movie”, as it turned out Let Me In made it to cinemas first, probably because it is a better film.

Wake Wood (2011): Following the death of their daughter a grieving couple (Aidan Gillen, Eva Birthistle) move to a small village. Once accepted in the community the couple are approached Arthur (Timothy Spall) the creepy community leader who offers to perform a pagan ritual, the potential result of which they cannot resist. With its pagan ritual and creepy atmosphere it is both a return to classic horror themes and form of Hammer. It offers little new or original and is probably to mild for fans of current horror movies but I really enjoyed it.

The Woman in Black (2012): After the disappointment of Let Me In and the disaster of The resident, artistically speaking, this is surely a make or break movie for Hammer. Happily it doesn’t disappoint. Based on a novel by Susan Hill and previously adapted as a TV movie in 1989. Young widower Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) leaves his son in the care of his nanny (Jessica Raine) when his employer, a firm of London solicitors sends him to a remote village to clear up the affairs of a recently deceased woman. It soon becomes clear that that he is not alone in the big old house. Beautifully shot well cast and acted and full of jumpy moments. This isn’t only a perfectly crafted old fashioned horror movie, it is truly a Hammer Horror.

After being initially disappointed by the new Hammer output: Beyond the Rave, Let Me In and The Resident, I was pleasantly surprised by Wake Wood and enormously impressed by The Woman in Black. I am now filled with optimism for Hammer and anticipation for their future films.

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During a review film critic Mark Kermode has suggested the cinematic nostalgia of Hugo and The Artist would make a great double bill. With this in mind here are a weeks worth of double bills from last years movies (UK release):

Monday: Psychological Thrillers

Thematically very different but stylistically similar: Black Swan and The Skin I live in, two great psychological thrillers that both owe a debt to 70’s European horror.

Tuesday: Female assassins

Two very different takes on an idea. Hanna is the better movie but I don’t think it is as good as the reviews have suggested. On the other hand Colombiana isn’t a great movie but I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.

Wednesday: Kooky Teens

Take a teenager who doesn’t quite fit in to school and society in general and throw into the mix a first relationship and you have a kooky teen movie. There have been two great examples one British and one American: Submarine and The Art of Getting By

Thursday: Girls in asylums

Although they look very different Sucker Punch and John Carpenter’s The Ward are actually very similar films. The Ward has sadly been overlooked and Sucker Punch unfairly slated, I know I am in a minority but I like both movies.

Friday: Vampires

Vampire movies are still coming out thick and fast, the best of from this year are the surprisingly good Priest (don’t bother with the 3D version) and the original and innovative Stake Land.

Saturday: Rocky for the 21st century

Using fighting robots and cage fighting but Warrior and Real Steel are essentially still sports movies like Rocky with all the same themes and messages and like Rock Both are very watchable.

Sunday: Classic Horror

Hammer is yet to recapture the eerie brilliance of its original gothic horror in its absence comes two brilliant chillers, Julia’s Eyes and The Awakening.

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