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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

Catching up on 2009

Posted by Hedwig on February 27, 2010

As you may or may not have noticed, I didn’t participate in the Muriel awards this year (speaking of, you should definitely check them out if you aren’t already). Nor did I hand in a year-end list for filmtotaal. The reason? I felt like I just hadn’t seen enough of the eligible movies. Well, I’ve been working on remedying that, and while I still have quite a few to see (check out the list at the bottom), I can at least weigh in on 8 of the 10 Best Picture contenders at the Oscars, and on a few others as well.

So here we go, from least to most liked, more or less:

I didn’t expect Avatar to have a good story. The reason I went to see it in IMAX 3-D is that I knew that there would be little to be enjoyed than the visuals… and I was still disappointed. Oh, it looks good, sure. But for all the hype about people being depressed afterwards because they didn’t live on Pandora, well, I just didn’t find it immersive at all (and even if it had been, Pandora looked fairly scary and inhospitable to me). I took my glasses off several times to see if there was a difference, something you don’t do if you’re truly “into” a movie. Furthermore, while I thought the computer-generated environment was pretty, it made Cameron lazy: I know the guy can direct, and he made at least two great movies (T2 and Aliens, if you’re wondering), but his direction here was sloppy at best, with out-of-focus objects often blocking part of the frame, weird compositions, etc. (and do read Jim Emerson on Cameron’s use of focus and other things)

And well, I could bash the storytelling, too, but let’s face it: that’s just too easy.

Another movie which supposedly was worth seeing because of just one element, in this case an admittedly great central performance, and which disappointed me nonetheless, is Crazy Heart. Yes, Bridges truly IS Bad Blake, but couldn’t a better movie have been built around him? Not only is the story a dragged out cliché, but even the details seem tired – like the name he doesn’t want to reveal in the beginning, then *spoiler* does at the end, a cheap shorthand to show that he has truly changed. The music is nice though.

Ok, don’t worry, from now on I’ll be slightly more positive. For instance, I can’t deny that I loved the montage at the beginning of Up. I’m not sure if it really belongs in a kid’s movie, but I’ll admit it, there were a few tears. Unfortunately (and somewhat typically – I had the same problem with Wall-E), the movie somewhat unravels after that: there are some nice touches, but overall it’s too slapsticky (talking dogs? Really?), and I feel they could have done more with the theme.

Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro. I thought it looked absolutely gorgeous, and I loved the way the details and side characters were fleshed out, but my admiration unfortunately stops there. The plot was overly melodramatic, soapy, even, and I didn’t case for Vincent Gallo’s character or performance – it’s partly the voice, I think.

A movie I should maybe rate a bit higher (but ranking is an inexact science) is In The Loop. Or should I say Fucking in the fucking loop? I might not be the most visually inventive movie of the year, but the script is razor-sharp, and the cast delivers it perfectly. I snickered. I gasped. I laughed out loud. It made me want to call random people F-star-star-CUNTs. Not all elements work perfectly (I thought the whole thing with Karen’s teeth was a bit… icky), but I had a really good time – and while I should hope it’s not an accurate representation of political decision-making, it’s scary to think that it might be.

The other movie with “Up” in the title, Up In the Air was intriguing for much longer. I didn’t really get the whole point of Ryan’s presentations – is he suggesting having no attachments is ideal for everyone? I also didn’t really buy Ryan’s “conversion” at the end of the film… but at least Reitman didn’t go for a too pat conclusion, and I DID love all the interactions between Ryan, Alex, and Natalie. And the dialogue is pretty sharp overall. And it’s impossible not to fall for the charms of Clooney and Farmiga and Keener, which deliver the dialogue perfectly. And it’s pretty funny, too – especially the scene where Natalie starts crying. I think I might be talking myself into liking the film more, actually – unfortunately, those great details didn’t quite cohere for me, and it felt oddly safe.

The same applies to An Education. It’s pretty sharply written, too, by Nick Hornby: I especially like that it doesn’t allow us to see Jenny purely as a victim. She willingly overlooks signs that her new lover might not be all that. She knows he’s an easy liar. And, as the movie makes quite clear, she’s not blinded my love: she’s charmed by David, but she’s in love with the life he allows her to lead, not with him. I’m not sure if the headmistress’s anti-semitism was necessary though, and the ending was a bit too neat. To be honest – I’m just making excuses because I liked, but didn’t love the film, and I don’t quite understand why: it’s a neat little film, and I’m glad it’s benefited from the extra 5 slots at the Oscars.

District 9 should be higher up, i.e. lower on my list, since both preceding movies are qualitatively better films… But BF enjoyed it immensely, and he’s at a conference in the US and I miss him, so I like it more by proxy, or something. And it IS a fun movie: sure, the social critique is a bit easy and gets abandoned fairly quickly, but you’ve gotta admit, it’s a nice fresh take on a familiar story. I especially liked the treatment of the central character: while at first he just seems goofy, in the first half hour you gradually realize that he is, in fact, fairly evil, the kind of bureaucrat who could have been a cog in the holocaust machine. And – aside from one decision near the end – his personality doesn’t change radically. There’s a parallel to Avatar in the human-joins-aliens plot, of course – except this movie avoids the noble-savage trap. The aliens are feral, kinda disgusting creatures – which makes the fact that the humans are oppressing them horrifyingly plausible.

As far as I understand it, The Hurt Locker is seen as the front-runner at the moment. To be honest: that’s ok with me. On my top 10 of the year, it would end up in the 5th spot at best, but I’ll admit that a) I’d love to see a woman win Best Director for the first time, b) if Avatar wins, it’ll prove once again that the Academy sucks, and this looks like the most likely candidate to beat it, and c)the two nominated films I’d rather see win – see below – are probably too eclectic anyway. And it’s a tight little movie: it’s not much narratively (if there’s a plot, I failed to see it), but the set-pieces are tense, Jeremy Renner is an interesting lead, and I like that it’s an action movie that doesn’t require you to check your brain at the door. Sure, you don’t need to use your brain much, either – but Bigelow keeps the exposition to a minimum, and the adrenaline high throughout. I’m not an avowed fan – but I much prefer this kind of action movie to, well, the usual kind.

Finally, the Coen’s latest, a Serious Man, which left me perplexed… and amazed. I’m STILL not sure what to make of it, but I think that’s kind of the point: I get why this has been called the Coens’ most personal film, since it read as their exploration of what it’s like not knowing what to make of, well, life. With, of course, their wicked, wry sense of humor on display. I have much more to say about this movie, but it would probably descend into pseudo-philosophical rambling really soon, so let’s save that for another day.

And the top movie of the year? For me, that has to be Inglourious Basterds, which I saw quite a while ago already, and which I’ve written about before. I’ve also written about two other movies already, which have (one costuming nomination excepted) been ignored by the little gold man, but which I would rank below A Serious Man, but above the others listed here: Public Enemies, and Bright Star.

Still to see: Where the Wild Things Are, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, the Last Station, A Single Man, Un Prophete, Two Lovers, Julia. Not seen, but no real desire to see: Invictus, Precious, The Blind Side, Julie & Julia, Nine. Seen and liked, but too long ago to post about here: Hunger, The Brothers Bloom.

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Only a few more days…

Posted by Hedwig on February 3, 2009

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Posted by Hedwig on January 24, 2009

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Directing you to the Muriels once more

Posted by Hedwig on February 26, 2008

That little guinea pig is getting to the big ones, starting with Best Director. It was a tight race, with #’s 1 and 2 getting an equal amount of votes, but the Coen brothers were four point behind… Well, if you know it’s not the Coens, you’ll know who it is, and you’ll understand why I really cannot wait until Thursday. Number 3 wasn’t too far behind, but the rest of the votes was distributed among an impressive number of worthy contenders.

My own votes went to 1. the Coens, 2. Todd Haynes, 3. Wes Anderson (yup, I was that lone vote) , 4. David Fincher and 5. Joe Wright, mostly because I felt bad about him getting snubbed at the Oscars for Jason Reitman.

Don’t forget to also check out the Best Cinematic Moment Muriels: the votes are, obviously, all over the place, but that category is a great way of re-living some of the nicest scenes. My votes were very similar to this post on the old blog, and added to that

  • the moment that should get the award for “greatest use of Adrien Brody’s limbs – ever”: his running for the train in The Darjeeling Limited
  • Juno telling her dad and stepmom about her pregnancy – see, I don’t hate Juno!

Biggest surprise? I was the only one who mentioned that great scene in the fog at the beginning of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, with Jesse James waiting for the train to arrive. Simply breathtaking. I’m still waiting for the director’s cut of that one, incidentally. And if anyone feels like sending it to me as a late, late birthday present, I won’t stop you 😉

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And the Oscar goes to…

Posted by Hedwig on February 25, 2008

Oh, you all know who the oscars went to by now. I’m too lazy to duplicate here the results you’ve probably already read in at least five other places, and since I didn’t watch the broadcast I have no comment on Jon Steward, endless montages or acceptance speeches. But I wanted to open a forum anyway, so here are some stray thoughts

  • I wasn’t offended by ANY of the choices, which is truly remarkable. I mean, I thought Blanchett gave a more impressive performance than Tilda Swinton, but she already has a couple golden men, and Swinton gave a great performance that deserves recognition. As for best Actress, I only saw two of the nominated performances, so I didn’t really have a great preference in that category. And well, La Môme/La Vie en Rose was a huge mess of a movie, but Cotillard threw herself into the role and was such a gracious, charming winner, so over the moon with her award, that I couldn´t possibly begrudge her winning it.
  • It was a mess of a movie though. On the radio, the film was described as telling the life of Edith Piaf from her origins singing on the streets to her addiction and demise later in life, and I found myself thinking, “I wish!”. Was all that jumping back in forth in time really necessary? I’m glad it won best make-up, though, because it truly would have been a disgrace if Norbit had won both 3 Razzies and an Oscar.
  • I thought the script for Juno was all-too-smug, with too many references, and that the actors were to be admired for making it work. Still, the whole backlash against Diablo Cody makes me want to get behind her, and in any case, I’m happy one of the nominated women won, and for a movie with an uncompromising girl at its center.
  • No Country For Old Men won! Of course, I won’t be able to say if that’s truly deserved until Thursday, when I finally get to see Daniel Day-Lewis in action, but it was by far my favorite among the four nominees I’d seen, and it was a great group to be the best of. And the Coens won too! And for adapted screenplay! And Bardem’s haircut did too!
  • … but Roger Deakins didn’t win. Admittedly, I thought his work on The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was even better, but I’m a little sad that he didn’t get anything. I suppose his day will come. And from what I’ve seen, the cinematography in There Will Be Blood is nothing to be laughed at, either.
  • Falling Slowly won! I liked Enchanted, but the music was highly forgetable, and this was one of the few categories where any other winner would have left me disappointed. So go Glenn & Marketa!

So, any thoughts? For a full list of winner, see (for instance) the official page

EDIT: and then I forgot about my real goal for this post… which is to remind you that the Muriels are still on, and will be for another week, so don’t forget to check Paul’s site every day! My #1 picks for best supporting actor & actress already won, as did my top picks for screenplay & cinematography, but my streak isn’t likely to continue: I didn’t pick Daniel Day-Lewis for the simple reason that I haven’t seen There Will Be Blood yet, and I’m guessing my #1 pick for best actress won’t win either.

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Muriel goes on

Posted by Hedwig on February 24, 2008

Lately, I haven’t really been home evenings, and as a result I’m not seeing as many movies as I’d like. I even missed Deep Throat, which was on TV tonight. So, why this post? Well, I did get my day at the Muriels. The Best Supporting Actress Muriel was announced, and Paul asked me to write a little blurb for the winner. Go check out who won (and what I wrote) here.

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Music & Muriels

Posted by Hedwig on February 19, 2008

2007 was an amazing year for music in movies, so much so I almost made a top 10 musical moments. I mean, think about it: there was a wonderful, unconventional little musical (Once), one movie based on a great musical artist featuring both originals and covers (I’m Not There), one conventional biopic of a great band (Control), two notorious compilers with eclectic taste delivering two soundtracks as great as we’ve come to expect from them (The Darjeeling Limited & Death Proof), some great instrumental scores (most notably the one by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis for The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford, but I really like the Atonement score, with its incorporated typewriter sounds, as well), one movie with great blues numbers (Black Snake Moan), and last but not least, who can forget Spider-Pig?

Even the Juno soundtrack, while in my mind wrong for the movie, had some great songs on it, and while I thought Gus van Sant’s use of Elliot Smith songs for Paranoid Park was to me evidence that he was looking back rather than forward, there was some very interesting, atmospheric, electronic music in that movie too.

The Muriels also have a category for soundtracks, and I’m very glad Paul is much more inclusive than Oscar. Check out the results here. Other categories recently announced: best Ensemble (a very worthy winner) & best Body of Work (a winner I can’t really disagree with either). My own nominations are after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

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Keeping up with the Muriels

Posted by Hedwig on February 16, 2008

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The Anniversary Awards for 1957, 1982 and 1997 have been announced, and now we’re finally getting to 2007, starting with Cinematic Breakthrough. My votes in that category were:

  1. Julie Delpy as a writer/director (who ended up at 14, with 1 other vote)
  2. James Marsden as a comedic/musical actor (seriously, who’d have thought he was funny? Nobody else was surprised, apparently, as he only got my vote)
  3. Tony Gilroy as a director (got two other votes, putting him at #9)
  4. Kelly McDonald (and I was the only one! Though maybe the other voters already discovered her before)
  5. Andrew Dominik (who also got my vote alone)

Votes were spread pretty wide, maybe because the category is so broad, but there was one clear winner. Check out who that was here.

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Muriel is coming (and doesn’t she look cool)

Posted by Hedwig on February 12, 2008

Muriel Awards

Just to remind you that the Muriel Awards start tomorrow, you can admire Craig‘s photoshopping talent above.

Incidentally, I recently bought the DVD of the original movie for a mere 2 euros, and I’m considering (once I wrap up the Coen series, which I WILL do soon, I promise) a Soderbergh series next.

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The Muriel Awards are coming – my votes for acting

Posted by Hedwig on February 4, 2008

You may have encountered Paul C. in the comments section. Well, he has a great blog, Silly Hats Only, he’s giving out the Muriel Awards for the second year in a row, and… he’s been kind enough to ask me to participate. So, from the 13th of February onwards, head over there to see the awards being announced. Actually, you should go over there right now and explore, then come back here and find out, just after the jump, who my votes went to in the acting categories. 5 per category, ranked. I generally dislike making lists, but choosing these performers, giving them a small place in the spotlight, was a pleasure.

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