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Monday, February 27, 2017

89th Oscars: Best & Worst


Lets get this out of the way first: Holy shit, I cannot believe that happened. I'm not counting this as a "best" or "worst" because while I think that Moonlight was the best of the nominated films and I'm glad it won, I feel bad for the La La Land team who thought they won only to have it snatched out of their hands in the most public way possible, and I feel bad for Warren Beatty because this moment will be infamous and there are probably people out there who will only know him for this and not for Bonnie and Clyde or any of the other great movies he's made.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

89th Oscar Winners


As they're announced:

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, Christopher Allen Nelson, Suicide Squad

Best Costume Design: Colleen Atwood, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Documentary Feature: O.J.: Made in America

Best Sound Editing: Sylvain Bellemare, Arrival

Best Sound Mixing: Kevin O'Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie, Peter Grace, Hacksaw Ridge

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences

Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman (Iran)

Best Animated Short Film: Piper

Best Animated Feature: Zootopia

Best Production Design: David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, La La Land

Best Visual Effects: Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, Dan Lemmon, The Jungle Book

Best Film Editing: John Gilbert, Hacksaw Ridge

Best Documentary Short Film: The White Helmets

Best Live Action Short Film: Mindenki (Sing)

Best Cinematography: Linus Sandgren, La La Land

Best Original Score: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

Best Original Song: "City of Stars," La La Land

Best Original Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By the Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight

Best Director: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester By the Sea

Best Actress: Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Picture: Moonlight

89th Oscars Predictions


My predictions:

Best Picture: La La Land

Best Director: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Best Actress: Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester By the Sea

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Original Screenplay: Manchester By the Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight

Best Film Editing: La La Land

Best Cinematography: La La Land

Best Production Design: La La Land

Best Costume Design: La La Land

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Star Trek Beyond

Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book

Best Sound Mixing: Arrival

Best Sound Editing: Arrival

Best Original Score: La La Land

Best Original Song: "City of Stars, " La La Land

Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman

Best Animated Feature: Zootopia

Best Documentary Feature: O.J. Made in America

Best Documentary Short: The White Helmets

Best Animated Short: Borrowed Time

Best Live-Action Short: Mindenki

Saturday, February 25, 2017

21st Century Essentials: Young Adult (2011)



Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Charlize Theron
Country: United States

In 2007 writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman combined forces to bring the world Juno, a warm-hearted comedy about a pregnant teenager that took the box office and the critics by storm, earning an Oscar for Cody and a nomination for Reitman (in addition to earning nominations for Best Picture and Best Actress for Ellen Page). In 2011 Cody and Reitman would re-team for Young Adult, a film as acid as Juno is sweet, replacing its lovably na├»ve protagonist with one who is dangerously delusional and misanthropic. That it would fail at the box office and gain nary an Oscar nomination seems almost appropriate given that it is a nasty little portrait of piled up disappointments and dreams that have died – it just means that it had the same bitter experience with life as its protagonist did. But, also like its protagonist, Young Adult is a film that endures. It may be one of the meanest comedies of the last decade, but it possesses such a crystal clear vision and such sharp fangs that it will age better than most. Hostility is apparently a masterful preservative.

Friday, February 24, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Picture

The nominees are:

Arrival

Plot: When aliens touch down on earth linguist Louise Banks is brought in to help determine the purpose of their arrival, but it's the lack of communication between humans themselves that put the fate of the world in jeopardy.

Nominated Producers and Oscar History:

* Shawn Levy - first nomination

* Dan Levine - first nomination

* Aaron Ryder - first nomination

* David Lynde - first nomination

Total Nominations for Film: 8 - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing

Thursday, February 23, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Director

The nominees are:

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Oscar History: 1 previous nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for Whiplash (2014). Also nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

Total Nominations for the Film: 14 - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, Best Original Song (2), Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Actress


The nominees are:

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Role: Michele Leblanc, a woman who is raped and, due to a negative experience with police in her childhood, opts not to report the crime and instead takes matters into her own hands, becoming fascinated with her assailant in the process.

Oscar History: first nomination

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Actor

The nominees are:

Casey Affleck, Manchester By the Sea

Role: Lee Chandler, a man still grappling with the tragedy of his past when he's called upon to become the guardian of his teenage nephew after the death of his brother.

Oscar History: 1 previous nomination for Best Supporting Actor for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Monday, February 20, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Supporting Actress

The nominees are:

Viola Davis, Fences

Role: Rose Maxson, a wife and mother who believes that she's living a happy life with her husband, only to have the rug pulled out from under her, leaving her trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered world.

Oscar History: 2 previous nominations for Best Supporting Actress for Doubt (2008) and Best Actress for The Help (2011)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Supporting Actor


The nominees are:

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Role: Juan, a man who takes the film's protagonist under his wing and becomes his father figure, but whose occupation as a drug dealer has contributed to the hostile and unstable home environment that makes him suffer so much.

Oscar History: first nomination

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Review: 20th Century Women (2016)

* * * *

Director: Mike Mills
Starring: Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning, Lucas Jade Zumann

Annette, you were robbed. You too, Greta. 20th Century Women opened right at the very end of 2016 for an Oscar qualifying run (playing in just 4 theaters from December 28th to January 5th, and then expanding to a few hundred theaters in January) and I can't help but wish that instead of doing that, the distributor had held it back for a mid-year release this year. With a last minute qualifying run, 20th Century Women never really stood a chance (though it did manage to net one Oscar nomination, for writer/director Mike Mills for Best Original Screenplay). It's too small, too intimate, to be able to make an impact with that kind of release. It's the kind of film that needs a chance to marinate a bit and build an audience, not unlike Mills' previous film, Beginners, which received a June release and for which Christopher Plummer won an Oscar. But art is ultimately its own reward, and though it doesn't have a chance to walk away with the slew of awards it richly deserves, 20th Century Women will nevertheless go down as one of 2016's finest films.

Friday, February 17, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Original Screenplay


The nominees are:

20th Century Women

Nominated Writers and Oscar History:

* Mike Mills - first nomination


Thursday, February 16, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Adapted Screenplay

The nominees are:

Arrival

Nominated Writers and Oscar History:

* Eric Heisserer - first nomination

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Film Editing

The nominees are:

Tom Cross, La La Land

Oscar History: 1 win for Best Film Editing for Whiplash (2014)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Cinematography

The nominees are:

Greig Fraser, Lion

Oscar History: first nomination

Monday, February 13, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Production Design

The nominees are:

Stuart Craig & Anna Pinnock, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Oscar History:

* Stuart Craig - 3 wins for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration for Gandhi (1982), Dangerous Liaisons (1988), and The English Patient (1996); 7 previous nominations for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration for The Elephant Man (1980), The Mission (1988), Chaplin (1992), and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), and Best Art Direction for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

* Anna Pinnock - 1 win for Best Production Design for The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014); 4 previous nominations for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration for Gosford Park (2001), for Best Art Direction for The Golden Compass (2007), and for Best Production Design for Life of Pi (2012) and Into the Woods (2014)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Costume Design

The nominees are:

Colleen Atwood, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Oscar History: 3 wins for Best Costume Design for Chicago (2002), Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), and Alice in Wonderland (2010); 8 previous nominations for Best Costume Design for Little Women (1994), Beloved (1998), Sleepy Hollow (1999), A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Nine (2009), Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), and Into the Woods (2014)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

21st Century Essentials: Elephant (2003)


Director: Gus Van Sant
Starring: John Robinson, Alex Frost, Eric Deulen
Country: United States

Tragic days start out as ordinary days. Gus Van Sant’s Elephant is about a school shooting that bears more than a passing resemblance to the Columbine massacre, and it fashions itself as a story about how a day begins in typical fashion only to end in horror, the change occurring suddenly and altering everything forever. Like many films based on real tragedies where the turnaround between the actual event and the release of the fictionalized version is short, Elephant was controversial when it came out. Critic Todd McCarthy decried it as “irresponsible” in his review for Variety, which seems a bit histrionic now but maybe in 2003, just four years removed from Columbine, the tragedy still felt too sacrosanct for a fictional depiction. Then again, maybe McCarthy’s reaction was just a result of disorientation since Elephant doesn’t behave in the way that you might expect it to. It’s not an emotional film, but one which stands at a distance from its subject, presenting its violence in a matter of fact way and making no attempt to understand why it is happening. Answers and catharsis are comforting, bald recounting of tragic events are not, and maybe that’s why Elephant seemed so alienating in 2003 and why it feels so powerful now.

Friday, February 10, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The nominees are:

A Man Called Ove

Nominated Team and Oscar History:

* Eva Von Bahr - 1 previous nomination for The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (2013)

* Love Larson - 1 previous nomination for The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (2013)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Visual Effects

The nominees are:

Deepwater Horizon

Nominated Team and Oscar History:

* Craig Hammack - first nomination

* Jason H. Snell - first nomination

* Jason Billington - first nomination

* Burt Dalton - 1 win for Best Visual Effects for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008); 2 previous nominations for Best Visual Effects for Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Sound Mixing

The nominees are:

13 Hours

Nominated Team and Oscar History:

* Greg P. Russell - 16 previous nominations for Best Sound for Black Rain (1989), The Rock (1996), Con Air (1997), The Mask of Zorro (1998), Armageddon (1998), The Patriot (2000), Pearl Habor (2001), and Spider-Man (2002), and for Best Sound Mixing for Spider-Man 2 (2004), Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Apocalypto (2006), Transformers (2007), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Salt (2010), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), and Skyfall (2012)

* Gary Summers - 4 wins for Best Sound for Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1992), Jurassic Park (1993), Titanic (1997), and Saving Private Ryan (1998); 6 previous nominations for Best Sound for Return of the Jedi (1983), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Backdraft (1991), and for Best Sound Mixing for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Avatar (2009), and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

* Jeffrey J Haboush - 3 previous nominations for Best Sound Mixing for Spider-Man 2 (2004), Salt (2010), and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

* Mac Ruth - 1 previous nomination for Best Sound Mixing for The Martian (2015)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Sound Editing

The nominees are:

Arrival

Nominated Team and Oscar History:

* Sylvain Bellemare - first nomination

Monday, February 6, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Original Score

The nominees are:


Nicholas Britell, Moonlight

Oscar History: first nomination

Sunday, February 5, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Original Song

The nominees are:

"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)," La La Land

Music and Lyrics By: Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Oscar History: first nomination for Hurwitz, also nominated for Best Original Score; first nomination for Pasek and Paul (all three also nominated for "City of Stars")

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Review: Hidden Figures (2016)

* * * 1/2

Director: Theodore Melfi
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner

Given the opportunity, people can do extraordinary things. How unfortunate then that opportunities are so limited to the few, rather than open to the many. Hidden Figures, based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, is the story of three women - Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson - who broke barriers of color and gender to help send a man into space and it's as rousing and as crowd pleasing as its box office success would suggest. As biographical/historical movies go, it hits that sweet spot between being important and being highly entertaining, and manages at once to be very direct about its primary theme (racism), while still being subtle in the distinctions it draws between the different forms that racism can take, as well as the different means through which it can be combated. While certainly not the most technically sophisticated movie I saw from 2016, Hidden Figures is nevertheless one for the ages.

Friday, February 3, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Foreign Language Film

The nominees are:

Land of Mine

Country: Denmark
Director: Martin Zandvliet
Plot: A group of German POWs are forced by the Danish government to defuse millions of land mines buried on Danish beaches at the conclusion of WWII.

Director's Oscar History: first nominated film

Thursday, February 2, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Animated Feature

The nominees are:

Kubo and the Two Strings

Director: Travis Knight
Plot: A young boy must find his father's magical suit of armor and defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.

Director's Oscar History: 1 previous nominated film for Best Animated Feature for The Boxtrolls (2014)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

89th Oscars: Best Documentary Feature

The nominees are:

13th

Director: Ava DuVernay
Subject: The prison industrial complex in the United States.

Director's Oscar History: first nomination