10 November 2012

Don't Let Me Down

I think "Do The Right Thing" is one of the best film titles of all time. I think the film is great, but the film's title is really great. It has already involved the audience, by addressing them, before the film even begins. And then it fits the movie once you are watching it. Perfect. I've always thought "Don't Let Me Down" would be a good title too, in the same way. Of course, with a title like that, the movie would have to be more of a downer than "Do The Right Thing."

I'm deep into the last stage of pre-melancholia; disappointment. Or perhaps just funk. Depression is too drastic a term and I have always prided myself on my extremely well-adjusted mental state, even when I'm feeling blue. Yes, I am aware of how this sounds and how people might take it offensively... It's my blog, right? Anyway, much like "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" five years ago, it looks as if "Silver Linings Playbook" will be the film I pull into this melancholy with me. I've already seen it twice and I feel like it is never going to leave my head. Is it bad that I feel so kindred with the main character, who just got out of a mental hospital, if I've always prided myself on my mental well-adjustment? It is what it is. Excelsior.

The song that just came on my iTunes is perfect for writing this. It sounds almost like something from the score of a Spider-man film. It is some of Alexandre Desplat's work from "The Painted Veil."

A week ago this time, I was watching the final film at the Savannah Film Festival. I was there for 8 days and saw nearly two dozen films and lots of big Hollywood stars. Not to mention, I got to spend so much time in Savannah and on Tybee Island, two places I could most certainly call home if my family was there as well. It was a wonderful week. "The Reality of a Rut: Cameron McAllister's quest for a new job, but not just any job... which could help explain why it's taking so huggin' long" would be the title of a book I would've written this week, post-Savannah. By the way, huggin' is a perfect new euphemism for cuss words.

I don't like being let down by the unfulfilled intentions of friends. But it almost always allows for a readjustment. This adjustment will be forged in the fires of a deep melancholy. In more general news, I suppose I sure am ready for a soulmate to come along.

This post is all over the place... business as usual. God is, as always, my portion. He's much more faithful than I am. Not to just tag him on here at the end, but it's just so true.

03 August 2012

Only fingers can you count on

Just a few minutes ago, I told Tina Anne, "I love the people I love... but I don't love people." This was in regards to trying to leave the customer service industry. Tina Anne is the merchant teller at the bank.  Statistically speaking, she ranks pretty high on my all time favorite people list. She is the highest ranking African and certainly the highest Bank of America employee. Tomorrow she's going back home to Kenya for two weeks. I want to go to Kenya for two weeks. I think everyone I know personally who has travelled to Kenya (aside from those I know from Kenya) has been there on a mission trip. That's great, but I don't want to go there on a mission trip. I want to go on a mission: to explore Kenya.

I definitely have a hard time conveying to people how much I do care for them. Occasionally though, I just tear open and it pours out. I doesn't feel good afterwards. Maybe it should, but it doesn't. It's not regret or embarrassment, it's exhaustion. "Time heals all wounds," but more specifically, morning does. Morning is God's best tool for healing... probably something to do with fresh mercies. Good Christian a cappella group name: The Fresh Mercies. You can have it for free.

24 July 2012

This one's on me

I've never been able to identify with labels like ADD or ADHD. I find them to be fallible clinical devices. I understand the sentiments involved with those who profess 'never being able to turn their brain off' or feeling like their brain is 'a TV that won't stop changing channels.' But why on earth would you want to turn your brain off? Thinking is beautiful. Thinking leads to many things. 'Changing channels' is more curious, but I think focus is a multi-faceted effort that involves countless variables and shouldn't be reduced to one's personal limits of control.

Thinking is what I do best. Like all people, sometimes I think too much and sometimes I don't think enough. But I think about everything and I think about multiple scenarios for any given situation. Getting anything out of my head is much more difficult, but I confess to not trying as often as I should.

Ideas are toys; fun to play with, easily collectible. Share them or keep them to yourself. Ideas are safer than reality, although they come with no actual rewards. Ideas must be realized to collect any reward. Otherwise, they sit in your head and collect dust.

My execution in realizing ideas is often clumsy. Earnest, I believe, but cumbersome. Prayer always helps, but sometimes not as quickly as I perceive the need. Knowing that God is not on any timetable, I am still on His timetable. Sometimes I prefer simple prayers, such as asking God to slam shut a door that He does not want open or swing wide open a door He wants me to walk though. Details are good too, but He already knows my heart. He is always faithful, despite the gap between desired answers and given answers.

I feel like I am typing out a plate of lettered spaghetti. I guess that's what I've got.

27 February 2011

Oscar 2011: Who WILL Win

Here are my predictions.

  • Motion Picture: "The King's Speech" (alt. "The Social Network")
  • Director: Tom Hooper - "The King's Speech" (alt. David Fincher - "The Social Network")
  • Actor: Colin Firth - "The King's Speech" (alt. James Franco - "127 Hours")
  • Actress: Natalie Portman - "Black Swan" (alt. Annette Bening - "The Kids Are All Right")
  • Supporting Actor: Christian Bale - "The Fighter" (alt. Geoffrey Rush - "The King's Speech")
  • Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo - "The Fighter" (alt. Jacki Weaver - "Animal Kingdom")
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: "The Social Network" (alt. "Toy Story 3")
  • Best Original Screenplay: "The King's Speech" (alt. "Inception")
  • Art Direction: "The King's Speech" (alt. "Inception")
  • Cinematography: "True Grit" (alt. "Inception")
  • Costume Design: "The King's Speech" (alt. "Alice in Wonderland")
  • Film Editing: "The Social Network" (alt. "The King's Speech")
  • Makeup: "The Wolfman" (alt. "Barney's Version")
  • Original Score: "The King's Speech" (alt. "Inception")
  • Original Song: "We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3" (alt. "If I Rise" from "127 Hours")
  • Sound Editing: "Inception" (alt. "True Grit")
  • Sound Mixing: "Inception" (alt. "True Grit")
  • Visual Effects: "Inception" (alt. "Hereafter")
  • Animated Feature Film: "Toy Story 3" (alt. "How to Train Your Dragon")
  • Foreign Language Film: "In a Better World" (alt. "Biutiful")
  • Documentary: "Exit through the Gift Shop" (alt. "Waste Land")
  • Documentary Short: "Strangers No More" (alt. "Killing in the Name")
  • Short Film (Animated): "Madagascar, a Journey Diary" (alt. "Day & Night")
  • Short Film: "God of Love" (alt. "Na Wewe")
A lot of these seem like locks, but there are always at least one or two surprises. I feel more uncertain about many of my alternates than I do my actual picks. Tomorrow, I'll post how I did and finally, my top films of 2010. 

My tally:
"The King's Speech" - 7
"Inception" - 3
"The Fighter" - 2
"The Social Network" - 2
"Toy Story 3" - 2
"Black Swan" - 1
"Exit through the Gift Shop" - 1
"God of Love" - 1
"In a Better World" - 1
"Madagascar, a Journey Diary" - 1
"Strangers No More" - 1
"True Grit" - 1
"The Wolfman" - 1

Oscar 2011: Who SHOULD Win

Tonight, this long season finally comes to a close. Here are my picks for who I would like to win out of those nominated. There are plenty of awards I would hand out to people that aren't even nominated (Ben Mendelsohn in Animal Kingdom, for example). I'll post my predictions for who actually will win later today.

  • Motion Picture: "The King's Speech" (or "Inception")
To further break this down, I'll rank them like Academy members do.
  1. "The King's Speech"
  2. "Inception"
  3. "Winter's Bone"
  4. "The Social Network"
  5. "True Grit"
  6. "The Fighter"
  7. "127 Hours"
  8. "Black Swan"
  9. "Toy Story 3"
  10. "The Kids Are All Right"
Looking at this list, I can't help but be struck by how much of a difference there is between my top ten films of the year and the Academy's top ten.
  • Director: David Fincher - "The Social Network"
  • Actor: Javier Bardem - "Biutiful" (or Colin Firth - "The King's Speech")
  • Actress: Jennifer Lawrence - "Winter's Bone"
  • Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush - "The King's Speech"
  • Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver - "Animal Kingdom"
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: "The Social Network"
  • Best Original Screenplay: "Another Year"
  • Art Direction: "Inception"
  • Cinematography: "Inception"
  • Costume Design: "I Am Love"
  • Film Editing: "127 Hours"
  • Makeup: "The Way Back"
  • Original Score: "How to Train Your Dragon" (or "Inception")
  • Original Song: "Coming Home" from "Country Strong"
  • Sound Editing: "Inception"
  • Sound Mixing: "Inception"
  • Visual Effects: "Inception"
  • Animated Feature Film: "How to Train Your Dragon"
  • Foreign Language Film: "Biutiful" (or "In a Better World")
  • Documentary: "Exit Through the Gift Shop"
  • Documentary Short: "Strangers No More"*
  • Short Film (Animated): "Madagascar, a Journey Diary"*
  • Short Film: "God of Love"*
I would compromise on a few of these. For instance, I would love to see James Franco take home a trophy as much as I would Colin Firth or Javier Bardem. I think Toy Story 3 is technically better than How to Train Your Dragon, but I see the latter as a more admirable underdog.

*I don't really have much of an opinion on the last three categories, as I haven't seen the films.

My tally:
"Inception" - 5 (7)
"The King's Speech" - 2 (3)
"Biutiful" - 2
"How to Train Your Dragon" - 2
"The Social Network" - 2
"Animal Kingdom" - 1
"Another Year" - 1
"Country Strong" - 1
"Exit Through the Gift Shop" - 1
"God of Love" - 1
"I Am Love" - 1
"Madagascar, a Journey Diary" - 1
"127 Hours" - 1
"Strangers No More" - 1
"The Way Back" - 1
"Winter's Bone" - 1
"In a Better World" - (1)

24 February 2011

Oscar 2011: My Analysis and Ballot

In the few years since I've become a film snob (now more than ever), I seem to feel less of 'the magic' when I'm going to the cinema and more of a scholarly sense of observation. I miss the magic, for sure, but it's nice to have an eye for something and to be able to analyze it further than whether I like it or not.

The last few years have all seemed a bit dull at the time of writing up each of my Oscar commentaries. Looking back now, only the best films are those I take into account (however few they may be in certain years), and they don't seem dull at all. This year looks pretty good, I would surmise. Just glancing at my longlist for my ballot for Best Picture, I have 23 possible pictures. Hey, I'll take it!

Best Picture
  • “Black Swan”
  • “The Fighter”
  • “Inception”
  • “The Kids Are All Right”
  • “The King's Speech”
  • “127 Hours”
  • “The Social Network”
  • “Toy Story 3”
  • “True Grit”
  • “Winter's Bone"
I predicted all of these to make the top 10 before the announcement. I believe I was part of a smaller group calling for  Winter's Bone to upset The Town, but it paid off. The Town was a good film, but it's box office success was the primary reason for some pundits expecting for it to get some love. Fortunately, there is plenty of box office success among our nominees and The Town wasn't needed to show any muscle. Anyway, I don't feel it was as good as Ben Affleck's previously helmed film, Gone Baby Gone.

A few of these films, I would surely keep in my list; Inception, The King's Speech, The Social Network and Winter's Bone. A few films that were nominated for Best Foreign Language film last year (and thus ineligible this year) make the cut; Ajami, A Prophet and possibly The Secret in their Eyes. Animal Kingdom and The Way Back scored one nomination each, but they were two of my favorites of the year and are sure to get some nods from me. Biutiful, Lebanon and Shutter Island are three films that showcase exceptional direction and performances. Never Let Me Go sort of came and went as the bait-piece that didn't deliver. I think it did deliver, however, and will find itself in contention in a few categories here. Throw into the mix Another Year, Exit Through the Gift Shop, The Fighter, The Ghost Writer, How to Train Your Dragon, I Am Love, Let Me In, 127 Hours, True Grit and Toy Story 3. I'd say we have a strong group of diverse films in the running. Ultimately, True Grit and Biutiful battled it out for the final slot.
  • "Ajami"
  • "Animal Kingdom"
  • "Another Year"
  • "Inception"
  • "The King's Speech"
  • "A Prophet"
  • "The Social Network"
  • "True Grit"
  • "The Way Back"
  • "Winter's Bone"

Actor in a Leading Role
  • Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
  • Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
  • Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
  • Colin Firth in “The King's Speech”
  • James Franco in “127 Hours”
All of these guys were fantastic in each of these films. Robert Duvall in Get Low and Jim Sturgess in The Way Back both impressed me. Leonardo DiCaprio gave two of his career's best in Inception and Shutter Island. Tahar Rahim was incredible in A Prophet. Mark Wahlberg contributed just as much to The Fighter as each of the more lauded supporting cast. Geoffrey Rush was almost a co-lead in The King's Speech but since Colin Firth was actually 'the King,' we'll keep things the way they are, placement-wise. Michael Moshonov in Lost Islands was easily one of my favorites since seeing the film last January. In the end, it came really close between veterans Jeff Bridges and Robert Duvall fighting for that final spot in my list. Hard choice, but I went with Duvall. I'll probably always be happy when Bridges is nominated for anything, though.
  • Javier Bardem in "Biutiful"
  • Robert Duvall in "Get Low"
  • Colin Firth in "The King's Speech"
  • James Franco in "127 Hours"
  • Tahar Rahim in "A Prophet"

Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
  • John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone”
  • Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
  • Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
  • Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech”
Thrilled for John Hawkes and Mark Ruffalo for both finally getting their first nominations. Jeremy Renner benefitted from the Academy wanting to bestow a nomination on The Town. He was good, but wasn't best in show (or even the best male performance) for me. I would have nominated Jon Hamm first. There were a lot of un-rewarded performances in this category that I loved this year. Let's add the guys from Inception in here, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ken Watanabe (who does so much acting with just his face). Tom Hardy was best in show. Niels Arestrup and Ben Mendelsohn from A Prophet and Animal Kingdom, respectively, are two of my favorite 'bad guys' in recent years. Animal Kingdom, in fact, was also loaded with a few great supporting roles from Sullivan Stapleton, Joel Edgerton and Guy Pearce. Ed Harris and Colin Farrell each brought completely different things to the table in The Way Back. Farrell was definitely showier and, I feel, the better of the two. Andrew Garfield pulled double-duty in two great supporting roles this year, for Never Let Me Go and The Social Network. Armie Hammer also impressed me the second time I watched The Social Network (not so much the first time, though). Ibrahim Frege as Malek in Ajami deserves some notice, as does Oshri Cohen and Ashraf Barhom in their more limited roles in Lebanon. Christian Bale, John Hawkes and Tom Hardy are fighting it out for the last spot.
  • Christian Bale in "The Fighter"
  • Colin Farrell in "The Way Back"
  • John Hawkes in "Winter's Bone"
  • Ben Mendelsohn in "Animal Kingdom"
  • Geoffrey Rush in "The King's Speech"

Actress in a Leading Role
  • Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
  • Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone”
  • Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
  • Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”
This category might see the most changes between the real nominees and my nominees. First off, True Grit is Hailee Steinfeld's film and she should be in this category. I did not see Rabbit Hole or Blue Valentine, but I really enjoy when both Nicole Kidman and Michelle Williams put forward good performances. Tilda Swinton was very good in I Am Love, a film in which I didn't expect to grow on me but apparently has. Carey Mulligan was the huge heart of Never Let Me Go. In my book, it is two years, two lead actress nominations for her. Yes, Easy A was a teen comedy, but Emma Stone is already a force to be reckoned with. Noomi Rapace in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Naomi Watts in Fair Game are both worth mentioning. I went with Emma Stone over Tilda Swinton for the last slot and my final group is very young!
  • Jennifer Lawrence in "Winter's Bone"
  • Carey Mulligan in "Never Let Me Go"
  • Natalie Portman in "Black Swan"
  • Emma Stone in "Easy A"
  • Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit"

Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
  • Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech”
  • Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
  • Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”
You probably already know who my favorite is in this category, since I've been pushing for a Jacki Weaver nomination since last August. Melissa Leo is another one of my favorites and both her and Amy Adams are great in The Fighter. Lesley Manville gives one of the most heart-wrenching performances ever in Another Year. Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff were the two best things about Nowhere Boy. Marion Cotillard chalks up another great performance in Inception. Aside from the CGI tsunami in Hereafter, Bryce Dallas Howard was my favorite part. Keira Knightley gave us her most mature role to date in Never Let Me Go. Olivia William's jaw-clinch in the final scene of The Ghost Writer alone is worthy of a nomination. Maricel Alvarez has gotten zero notice for her work in Biutiful, but she is very good.
  • Anne-Marie Duff in "Nowhere Boy"
  • Melissa Leo in "The Fighter"
  • Lesley Manville in "Another Year"
  • Jacki Weaver in "Animal Kingdom"
  • Olivia Williams in "The Ghost Writer"

  • “Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky
  • “The Fighter” David O. Russell
  • “The King's Speech” Tom Hooper
  • “The Social Network” David Fincher
  • “True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
I'm a bit sad that Christopher Nolan was shut out again. I see Inception as more of a director's film than a writer's film, and since he did both, the writing nomination makes less sense than a directing would. However, I know it was just a case of David O. Russell and the Coen brothers giving us more prestigious films. Nolan can call up Spielberg and talk about being shut out because of directing good movies that happen to be blockbusters. Peter Weir adds another great film to his already stunning resume with The Way Back. Jacques Audiard made a film that I think will be studied for generations and David Michod gave us a stunning debut with Animal Kingdom. Tom Hooper, with whom I was not familiar before The King's Speech, used some old-school techniques masterfully. David Fincher didn't give us his career best, but even his second, third and fourth best efforts are better than the efforts of most directors during any given year.
  • "Inception" Christopher Nolan
  • "The King's Speech" Tom Hooper
  • "A Prophet" Jacques Audiard
  • "The Social Network" David Fincher
  • "The Way Back" Peter Weir

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
  • “127 Hours”
  • “The Social Network”
  • “Toy Story 3” 
  • “True Grit” 
  • “Winter's Bone”
Each of these are exceptional screenplays. I might substitute in Never Let Me Go but I don't know what I would take out, so I'll just leave it as is. The Way Back is one of the better adapted screenplays of the year. How to Train Your Dragon features a screenplay on par with Toy Story 3.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
  • “Another Year”
  • “The Fighter” 
  • “Inception”
  • “The Kids Are All Right” 
  • “The King's Speech” 
Mike Leigh creates the best dialogue of any screenwriter working right now. His work is so real and easygoing, even when dealing with heavy emotions. His work in Another Year is stunning. The dialogue in Inception is mostly exposition, yes, but Nolan carefully crafted each of these levels and unique worlds for each. Foreign favorites Ajami, Animal Kingdom and A Prophet are all worthy of nominations.
  • "Animal Kingdom"
  • "Another Year"
  • "Inception"
  • "The King's Speech"
  • "A Prophet"

Foreign Language Film
  • “Biutiful” Mexico
  • “Dogtooth” Greece
  • “In a Better World” Denmark
  • “Incendies” Canada
  • “Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)” Algeria
Of these nominees, I've only seen Biutiful and Dogtooth. In a Better World looks incredible, certainly. Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) is a sequel to Days of Glory (Indigene), a previous nominee in the category and a film which I liked very much. I haven't heard very good things about Incendies, but it could just depend on the viewer. I did see Israel's submission, The Human Resources Manager and thought it was not nearly as in-your-face but every bit as good as Dogtooth.

Animated Feature Film
  • “How to Train Your Dragon” 
  • “The Illusionist” 
  • “Toy Story 3” 
I can't decide which film I like more, How to Train Your Dragon or Toy Story 3. Thrilled to see Sylvain Chomet nominated again for The Illusionist. Great set of films this year.

Art Direction
  • “Alice in Wonderland” 
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” 
  • “Inception” 
  • “The King's Speech” 
  • “True Grit” 
Good nominees. Obvious others include TRON Legacy and the cold modernism of The Ghost Writer. I might add contemporaries such as Animal Kingdom, A Prophet and one that people might not think of, Lebanon. Every frame of Lebanon, except the first and last, take place inside an army tank. The Illusionist and Shutter Island are worthy contenders as well.
  • "Alice in Wonderland"
  • "Inception"
  • "The King's Speech"
  • "Lebanon"
  • "TRON Legacy"

  • “Black Swan” 
  • “Inception” 
  • “The King's Speech” 
  • “The Social Network” 
  • “True Grit” 
Nothing upsetting here, but I might consider a few changes. The Way Back, Biutiful and 127 Hours are all very strong. A Prophet and Animal Kingdom both possess a unique individuality to their cinematographies. 
  • "Animal Kingdom"
  • "Black Swan"
  • "Inception"
  • "The King's Speech"
  • "The Way Back"

Costume Design
  • “Alice in Wonderland” 
  • “I Am Love” 
  • “The King's Speech” 
  • “The Tempest” 
  • “True Grit” 
Perhaps the most contemporary group of nominees ever in a single year. Inception and The Fighter have both been unjustly ignored in this arena. Agora and Robin Hood were nice, but we've seen all of that before.
  • "The Fighter"
  • "I Am Love"
  • "Inception"
  • "The King's Speech"
  • "True Grit"

Film Editing
  • “Black Swan”
  • “The Fighter” 
  • “The King's Speech” 
  • “127 Hours”
  • “The Social Network”
127 Hours editing really captures Danny Boyle's energy. The editing in Ajami really assists the broken narrative line and was put together very carefully.
  • "Ajami"
  • "The Fighter"
  • "Inception"
  • "The King's Speech"
  • "127 Hours"

  • “Barney's Version”
  • “The Way Back”
  • “The Wolfman”
I've heard that the aging work in Barney's Version is very good, but I did not see the film. I am impressed with the transformative work seen in trashing up the characters in The Fighter. Inception and Shutter Island have some good work on display too.
  • "The Fighter"
  • "The Way Back"
  • "The Wolfman"

Music (Original Score)
  • “How to Train Your Dragon”
  • “Inception”
  • “The King's Speech”
  • “127 Hours” 
  • “The Social Network” 
I love each of these scores. The only two I would also liked to have seen nominated are Daft Punk's score for TRON Legacy and Rachel Portman's score for Never Let Me Go. The music in I Am Love is very good but did not qualify.
  • "How to Train Your Dragon"
  • "Inception"
  • "The King's Speech"
  • "Never Let Me Go"
  • "TRON Legacy"

Music (Original Song)
  • “Coming Home” from “Country Strong”
  • “I See the Light” from “Tangled”
  • “If I Rise” from “127 Hours”
  • “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3"
I'm fine with these nominees, although it certainly isn't the most exciting group and the public as a whole doesn't know a single one of these songs well enough to automatically associate it with it's film. I would only add "Me and Tennessee" from Country Strong.
  • "Coming Home" from "Country Strong"
  • "I See the Light" from "Tangled"
  • "If I Rise" from "127 Hours"
  • "Me and Tennessee" from "Country Strong"
  • "We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3"

Sound Editing
  • “Inception” 
  • “Toy Story 3”
  • “TRON Legacy”
  • “True Grit”
  • “Unstoppable”
This is surely one of the areas in which 127 Hours excels, as well as How to Train Your Dragon and Lebanon.
  • "Inception"
  • "127 Hours"
  • "Lebanon"
  • "TRON Legacy"
  • "True Grit"

Sound Mixing
  • “Inception”
  • “The King's Speech” 
  • “Salt” 
  • “The Social Network”
  • “True Grit”
Admittedly, I'm still learning about this category as well. I know the difference between the two sound categories, but I'm still keeping an ear out (Ha!) for what makes a film strong in this field. All of these nominees seem worthy and I'm glad Salt made it in particular. However, in my limited knowledge, TRON Legacy, The Way Back, Lebanon and Animal Kingdom might have more to offer here. 
  • "Animal Kingdom"
  • "Inception"
  • "TRON Legacy"
  • "True Grit"
  • "The Way Back"

Visual Effects
  • “Alice in Wonderland”
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”
  • “Hereafter”
  • “Inception”
  • “Iron Man 2”
Sure, young Jeff Bridges didn't look very good in TRON Legacy, but the rest of the film was stunning. It should be in here. I predicted Hereafter to make it in, and it rightfully did. I would substitute TRON Legacy and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in over things we have already seen in Iron Man 2 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
  • "Alice in Wonderland"
  • "Hereafter"
  • "Inception"
  • "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World"
  • "TRON Legacy"

Documentary (Feature)
  • "Exit through the Gift Shop"
  • "Gasland"
  • "Inside Job"
  • "Restrepo"
  • "Waste Land"
I've only actually seen Exit through the Gift Shop and if any of these is better, I would be surprised.

My nomination totals:
11 - Inception
10 - The King's Speech
6 - Animal Kingdom
6 - True Grit
6 - The Way Back
5 - The Fighter
5 - 127 Hours
5 - TRON Legacy
4 - A Prophet
4 - Winter's Bone
3 - Another Year
3 - The Social Network
3 - Toy Story 3
2 - Ajami
2 - Alice in Wonderland
2 - Biutiful
2 - Black Swan
2 - Country Strong
2 - How to Train Your Dragon
2 - Lebanon
2 - Never Let Me Go
1 - Dogtooth
1 - Easy A
1 - Get Low
1 - The Ghost Writer
1 - Hereafter
1 - I Am Love
1 - The Illusionist
1 - In A Better World
1 - Incendies
1 - Nowhere Boy
1 - Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)
1 - Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
1 - Tangled
1 - The Wolfman

23 September 2010

"Get Low" with Georgia cinema

Although Get Low was released just this summer, I remember two years back, reading an announcement in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution calling for as many extras as possible to show up at Picket's Mill (a historic site near Acworth, Georgia) in their best Depression-era clothing. I thought about attending. I was even willing to skip my classes (not really a stretch for me anyway). Unfortunately, I had just taken most of my Depression-era clothes to the dry-cleaners and they weren't going to be ready for a few more days.

Whether I am privy to the filmmaking or not (usually not), I often like to support movies that are filmed locally. I saw Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd at the cinema (mistake) and I'll probably see the remake of Footloose (impending mistake), since I have already made a 'set visit.'

While it is always wonderful seeing familiar surroundings on the big screen, it is often not worth the price of the movie ticket. This time, my local pride didn't turn out to be a waste of money. Get Low was worth every penny, regardless of my geographic sentiments.

The film tells the tale of a crazy old man (Robert Duvall) living in seclusion outside a small town full of people who spread all sorts of rumors about him. Of course, there is one person in town (Lucas Black) who sees a heart of gold deep down inside the crazy old man. There is even a person in town (Sissy Spacek) who knew the old crazy before he was old and crazy. Then, you have the struggling business owner (Bill Murray) who, being a yankee outsider, has nothing to lose by cozying up to the town crazy. When the old crazy sees his days coming to an end, he decides to invite everyone to come tell stories about him at his funeral... while he is alive... at his funeral.

Of course, this story is pleasant enough by itself, but the movie really shines when we start to learn why he shut himself off from others for forty years and what emotional damage has resulted. A good cast was needed to bring all of this to life, and a good cast was delivered.

No one is going to ignore a group that includes Robert Duvall (six Oscar nominations, 1 win), Sissy Spacek (6 Oscar nominations, 1 win) and Bill Murray (one Oscar nomination). I suppose Bill Murray will appeal more to younger audiences than the other two, but Duvall and Spacek have both proved to still be worthy of the 'household name' moniker. These three are in top form here and while Oscar buzz exists for all three, Duvall stands the best chance of a nomination. Spacek could find herself in the Best Supporting Actress race if the usually crowded category doesn't see more worthy entrants soon (personally, Jacki Weaver is still the one to beat). Bill Murray will likely be forgotten as the studio will see more of a need to push for Duvall's nomination, but I don't feel that Murray is even the most deserving Supporting Actor nominee anyway. I would give that distinction to Bill Cobbs, who plays an old pastor friend who knows the answer to why Duvall isolated himself.

This is the first meaty role for Cobbs in quite a while. The actor is used to smaller character parts and television roles (and that Peter Cetera Heineken commercial). I think he delivers more depth to his performance than any other supporting player. Unfortunately, I must be alone in my opinion, as Cobbs has gone by relatively unnoticed so far.

Lucas Black puts up a good performance as well. With already a good set of films under his belt, he is on his way to a sturdy career. Besides, it is impossible for me not to be a fan of his, with that unwavering Southern accent (we need more of these in Hollywood) and the fact that he looks a bit like the missing link between me and my brother.

Oscar winning composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek put together a nice score, with the help of Jerry Douglas and The Steeldrivers. Alison Krauss also offers up a song over the credits. I would easily recommend this soundtrack.

The cinematography isn't the best I've seen this year, but you can tell there was an artful eye behind the lens. The beautiful Georgia scenery doesn't hurt either, and it serves as an extremely appropriate substitute for Tennessee (where the film takes place). The costumes are good enough to be in contention for the Oscar, which only makes me regret not showing up in my Great Depression suit.

Aaron Schneider has made an impressive directorial debut with Get Low, seeing as his film finds a nice balance between aesthetics and performances. I'm happy the film has found the audience it deserves.