Saturday, December 31, 2011

Phoenix Film Critics Shine on "The Artist"

Phoenix Film Critics Society 2011 Awards:

BEST PICTURE
"The Artist"

TOP TEN FILMS OF 2011 (in alphabetical order)
"The Artist"
"The Descendants"
"Drive"
"The Help"
"Hugo"
"Midnight in Paris"
"Moneyball"
"My Week With Marilyn"
"Super 8"
"The Tree of Life"

BEST DIRECTOR
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Elizabeth Olsen, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Albert Brooks, "Drive"

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Berenice Bejo, "The Artist"

BEST ENSEMBLE ACTING
"Super 8"

BEST SCREENPLAY - ORIGINAL
"The Artist"

BEST SCREENPLAY - ADAPTATION
"The Help"

BEST LIVE ACTION FAMILY FILM (Rated G or PG)
"The Muppets"

THE OVERLOOKED FILM OF THE YEAR
"A Better Life"

BEST ANIMATED FILM
"Rango"

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
"The Skin I Live In"

BEST DOCUMENTARY
"Page One: Inside the New York Times"

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Life's a Happy Song, "The Muppets"

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
"The Artist"

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
"Tree of Life"

BEST FILM EDITING
"The Artist"

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
"Hugo"

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
"The Artist"

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
"Hugo"

BEST STUNTS
"Drive"

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE ON CAMERA
Thomas Horn, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"

BREAKTROUGH PERFORMANCE BEHIND THE CAMERA
Michael Hazanavicius, "The Artist"

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A YOUTH IN A LEAD OR SUPPORTING ROLE – MALE
Thomas Horn, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A YOUTH IN A LEAD OR SUPPORTING ROLE – FEMALE
Saoirse Ronan, "Hanna"

Happy B'day, Gong Li: Memoirs of a Geisha

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 102 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux on Patreon


Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
Running time: 145 minutes (2 hours, 25 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for mature subject matter and some sexual content
DIRECTOR: Rob Marshall
WRITER: Robin Swicord (from the book by Arthur Golden)
PRODUCERS: Lucy Fisher, Steven Spielberg, and Douglas Wick
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dion Beebe
EDITOR: Pietro Scalia
Academy Award winner

DRAMA/HISTORICAL/ROMANCE

Starring: Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Kôji Yakusho, Gong Li, Suzuka Ohgo, Youki Kudoh, Kaori Momoi, Tsai Chin, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Kenneth Tsang, Randall Duk Kim, Ted Levine, and Samantha Futerman

Memoirs of a Geisha is a 2005 historical and costume drama set in Japan during the Showa Era (1926-1989). The Academy Award-winning film is based upon Arthur Golden’s 1997 novel of the same name.

With her mother ailing in the years before World War II, a Japanese girl, 9-year-old Chiyo (Suzuka Ohgo), finds herself torn from her family when her penniless father sells her and her sister, Satsu (Samantha Futerman), to two Kyoto geisha houses. Chiyo endures harsh treatment from the owners of the okiya (geisha house) that buys her, and the okiya’s head geisha, Hatsumomo (Gong Li), who is envious of the nine-year-old’s stunning beauty and lovely eyes, is especially nasty. Hatsumomo’s chief rival, a geisha named Mameha (Michelle Yeoh), takes Chiyo under wing as a maiko (apprentice geisha).

In time, Mameha renames Chiyo, Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang), and she becomes Kyoto’s most famous geisha. Beautiful and accomplished in her profession, Sayuri charms some of the most powerful men of the day, but she loves one in particular, a man she met as a child and who is called The Chairman (Ken Watanabe). She hopes that one day The Chairman will chose to be her danna, the wealthy patron supports the geisha’s expensive profession. However, World War II and the post-war American Occupation threaten to take away her privileged lifestyle and make the burden of the secret love that haunts her even harder to bear.

Geisha means “art person” or “person of the arts.” Geisha skillfully entertainment men with music, dance, and conversation (which the do artfully), but geisha aren’t necessarily prostitutes, although after WWII, some young women called themselves “geisha” and prostituted themselves to American troops. Geisha were perhaps most common in the 18th and 19th centuries, and have become less common since.

The 2005 film Memoirs of a Geisha is based upon the 1997 Arthur Golden novel, Memoirs of a Geisha. The book is historical fiction, although Golden interviewed an actual geisha about her experiences for use in his book. The film earned high praise for its stunningly beautiful visuals, but many critics disliked the film’s supposed lack of narrative, slow story, and lack of substance. The film is indeed a visual feast. Cinematographer Dion Beebe’s (Chicago, Collateral) photography is supernaturally beautiful, and Beebe won an Oscar for making Memoirs look like enchanted eye-candy painted by an Old Master. The costumes, clothing, and uniforms are impeccable in their design as they are functional in their use, and some of them are super duper beautiful. Art, production, and sets do what the best of their kind do, transport the viewer to a world in which they can believe – a world that rings true, and one in which they might want to visit if not live. The candy coating is John Williams’ highly evocative and moving score that moves the narrative and provides the appropriate mood indicators.

On the other hand the narrative and story are not weak. Yes, the first 35 minutes of this film are so dull and slow, and the cinematography is so dreary, dank, and dark that to watch the movie is like doing a chore – mowing the lawn, cleaning the toilet, scrubbing scum, etc. It’s around the 35 minute mark that Ken Watanabe’s The Chairman enters the film, and Memoirs comes to life, allow the cast and crew to show their best talents in the glorious light of Beebe’s photography. Perhaps, many viewers are turned off by a story that focuses on the spiteful interpersonal politics of desperate and competitive women – cat fights, disputes over men, territorial pissing matches, etc. But it all rings true; all the fighting is genuine and captivating. The characters have depth and their struggles have meaning, and that’s why we can believe and empathize with the motivations of even the characters that are villains.

Something else that many reviewers may miss is that it is the cast through the characters not the script that carries this film. Of the many fine performances that mark this film (and it’s a shame that Ken Watanabe will likely be regulated to playing the Asian token in many American films), the trio of Ziyi Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, and Gong Li is Memoirs of a Geisha’s holy trinity. Li actually makes the malicious and spiteful force of nature, Hatsumomo, into a three-dimensional character worthy of study and sympathy. Michelle Yeoh is splendid as the motherly sage Mameha, and Ziyi is the top of the pyramid.

Oscar seems to have made a habit of ignoring Ziyi's luminous performances in such films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero (2002), and the Academy clearly wronged her here. With grace and subtlety, often with a facial expression and emotion more than with words, she shows us Chiyo/Sayuri as a resourceful hero who goes on a journey to claim her prize. It isn’t the ultimate prize, but it is the best for which she could hope in her position. By showing us a young woman finding happiness within the limits forced upon her, Ziyi shows us the face of Memoirs of a Geisha. Kept from being a near-perfect gem because its first half hour is garbage, the film recovers and makes the very best of what it has left, giving us two hours of the movie as a beautiful picture book containing a story about a heroine worth championing.

8 of 10
A

NOTES:
2006 Academy Awards: 3 wins: “Best Achievement in Art Direction” (John Myhre-art director and Gretchen Rau-set decorator), “Best Achievement in Cinematography” (Dion Beebe), and “Best Achievement in Costume Design” (Colleen Atwood); 3 nominations: “Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score” (John Williams), “Best Achievement in Sound Editing” (Wylie Stateman), and “Best Achievement in Sound Mixing” (Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell, Rick Kline, and John Pritchett)

2006 BAFTA Awards: 3 wins: “Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music” (John Williams), “Best Cinematography” (Dion Beebe), and “Best Costume Design” (Colleen Atwood); 3 nominations: “Best Make Up/Hair” (Noriko Watanabe, Kate Biscoe, Lyndell Quiyou, and Kelvin R. Trahan), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” (Ziyi Zhang) and “Best Production Design” (John Myhre)

2006 Golden Globes: 1 win: “Best Original Score - Motion Picture” (John Williams) and 1 nomination:“Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Ziyi Zhang)

2006 Image Awards: 1 nomination: “Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture” (Ziyi Zhang)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Friday, December 30, 2011

Gareth Edwards' "Monsters" Not Like Other Monster Flicks

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 108 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux


Monsters (2010)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United Kingdom
Running time: 94 minutes (1 hour, 34 minutes)
MPAA – R for language
CINEMATOGRAPHER/WRITER/DIRECTOR: Gareth Edwards
PRODUCERS: Allan Niblo and James Richardson
EDITORS: Colin Goudie
COMPOSER: Jon Hopkins
BAFTA nominee

SCI-FI/DRAMA

Starring: Scoot McNairy Whitney Able, and Mario Zuniga Benavides

Monsters is a 2011 British science fiction film and quasi-monster movie. It is the debut feature film of Gareth Edwards, who wrote, directed, and shot Monsters. A cinematic one-man-army and DIY filmmaker, Edwards also created the film’s special effects.

Monsters opens six years after NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. The agency sent a probe to collect samples, but upon re-entry, the probe crashed in Mexico. Now, a huge swath of northern Mexico near the border of the United States is quarantined as the “INFECTED ZONE” because a new alien life form began to appear in this region. The U.S. and Mexican militaries struggle to contain the tentacled creatures in the infected zone.

The film focuses on Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy), a young American photojournalist, who travels about Mexico taking pictures of the creatures and the aftermath of their appearances. Kaulder’s employers send him to a Mexican hospital to find Samantha “Sam” Wynden (Whitney Able), an American injured during a creature attack. Sam turns out to be the daughter of Kaulder’s boss, a wealthy media mogul, and Sam’s father insists that Kaulder escort her back to the United States. However, circumstances force the couple into a more dangerous trip than either imagined.

Monsters looks like a low-budget movie compared to most sci-fi alien invasion movies, but Monsters is not competing with movies like Independence Day (1996) or even with classic black and white B-movie monster flicks. Monsters is essentially an allegorical road movie about the state of the environment and about First World nations waging war on Third World nations. Without preaching, writer/director Gareth Edwards uses clean imagery which conveys potent symbolism concerning our current state of affairs.

Actors Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able were dating at the time they were shooting Monsters, which likely contributed to the absorbing screen chemistry they show here. [They are now married.] Their naturalistic performances are pitch perfect for this movie’s message about mankind’s current situation.

Edwards presents some potent images and effective scenes throughout this film, especially in the last act when Kaulder and Sam enter a post-disaster American small town. In the film, the area was damaged by a creature, but I’m guessing that in the real world, this is an American neighborhood, post-hurricane or other natural disaster. This point in the narrative affirms that for a science fiction monster movie, Monsters is a surprisingly human story.

7 of 10
B+

NOTE:
2011 BAFTA Awards: 1 nomination: “Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer” (Gareth Edwards – Director/Writer)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Oklahoma Film Critics Really Like "The Artist"

The Oklahoma Film Critics Circle (OFCC) is the statewide group of professional film critics. OFCC members are Oklahoma-based movie critics who write for print, broadcast and online outlets that publish or post reviews of current film releases. 2011 is the OFCC’s sixth annual list of awards for achievement in cinema.

Like other film critics circles, they've chosen The Artist as their best picture.  I like that they chose to give the Fright Night remake an award, "Best Guilty Pleasure."  It really is a good movie and should not have been a flop at the box office.  Goodness, I'd love to see a sequel.

Complete List of OFCC 2011 Film Awards:

Top 10 Films:
1. “The Artist”
2. “Drive”
3. “The Descendants”
4. “Hugo”
5. “Shame”
6. “Moneyball”
7. “Midnight in Paris”
8. “Melancholia”
9. “Tree of Life”
10.“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”

Best Film
“The Artist”

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”

Best First Feature
Sean Durkin, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

Best Actress
Michelle Williams, “My Week with Marilyn”

Best Actor
George Clooney, “The Descendants”

Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer, “The Help”

Best Supporting Actor
Albert Brooks, “Drive”

Best Screenplay, Adaptation
“Moneyball,” Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin

Best Screenplay, Original
“The Artist,” Michel Hazanavicius

Best Documentary Film
“Page One: Inside The New York Times”

Best Foreign Language Film
“The Skin I Live In”

Best Animated Film
“The Adventures of Tintin”

Obviously Worst Film
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

Not-So-Obviously-Worst Film
“The Hangover Part II”

Best Guilty Pleasure
“Fright Night”

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy B'day, Jude Law: eXistenZ

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 32 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux


eXistenZ (1999)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Canada/UK
Running time: 97 minutes (1 hour, 37 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong sci-fi violence and gore, and for language
WRITER/DIRECTOR: David Cronenberg
PRODUCERS: David Cronenberg, Andras Hamori, and Robert Lantos
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Suschitzky
EDITOR: Ronald Sanders
COMPOSER: Howard Shore
Genie Award winner

SCI-FI/CRIME/DRAMA/THRILLER

Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Ian Holm, Willem Dafoe, Don McKellar, Callum Keith Rennie, Christopher Eccleston, Sarah Polley and Oscar Hsu

eXistenZ is a 1999 Canadian/British science fiction film from director David Cronenberg. The film is set in the near-future and involves advanced video games and organic virtual realities. When Cronenberg, a surrealist and master filmmaker, tests the bounds of imagination, he makes you wonder if there really are any boundaries to imagination, or at least to his. With a filmography full of movies that are trippy experiences, it’s hard to pick out the craziest Cronenberg picture, but I’d say eXistenZ is safe bet.

Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is the world’s best game designer, and her new game, eXistenZ, is a virtual-reality masterpiece. During a demonstration or, perhaps, beta testing, of eXistenZ, a crazed fan makes a peculiar attempt on her life. Ted Pikul (Jude Law), a marketing intern at the company for whom Allegra designs games, spirits her away from the scene, but though they escape the murderous attempt on her life, this is just the beginning of a strange trip that takes them both to worlds real, unreal, and maybe real.

The usual Cronenberg themes: bodily invasion, altered states of perception, and what is real are much in evidence, but like some of his best work, eXistenZ questions what effect technology has on the human body, mind, and spirit. Cronenberg also seems to question whether humans should change their bodies and the way they live to accommodate a technology that is of only the most frivolous use – entertainment-based technology. That question permeates almost every frame of the film, and adds weight to the drama.

Many of the performances are stiff, although deliberately so, but still it’s a bit too wooden and too cold. Sometimes the acting is all a bit too affected and too smart for its own good. Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh, however, give, wildly spirited and inspired performances; even their odd and taut moments have a vivacious air to them. They’re fun to watch, and the pair has a screen chemistry the just screams that this is a mismatched matched pair. For some reason it works, and they look gorgeous on the screen, making this truly odd tale fun to watch.

The best way to describe this story is too say that it deals with virtual worlds and computer generated realities like The Matrix did. eXistenZ, however, is not about cardboard philosophy, wire-fu fight scenes, and pyrotechnics and special effects as sexy eye candy. This is The Matrix for smart people.

8 of 10
A

2000 Genie Awards: 1 win: “Best Achievement in Editing” (Ronald Sanders); 2 nominations: “Best Achievement in Art Direction/Production Design” (Carol Spier and Elinor Rose Galbraith) and “Best Motion Picture” (Robert Lantos, David Cronenberg, and Andras Hamori)

"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" Lights Up the Box Office

“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” Heats up December Box Office

Film is the highest-grossing release of the holiday season to date and has passed $136 million worldwide

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” has followed up its number one opening by emerging as the top-grossing film to date, domestically, in this December’s very competitive holiday box office landscape. The film is estimated to take in $90.56 million through Monday, easily leading the domestic box office for the month. In addition, the film has soared past the $100 million mark globally, earning a combined estimated worldwide total of $136.26, while still only in a limited number of international markets. The announcement was made today by Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, and Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, President of International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

Fellman stated, “Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, together with director Guy Ritchie, have once again proven to be a winning combination for moviegoers, and we believe that the audience response and strong word of mouth will continue to carry ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’ through the holidays and beyond. We congratulate everyone involved in the film on once again making this classic character irresistible to contemporary audiences.”

“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” has also opened with impressive numbers in 25 international markets, including the UK, Germany and Italy, with most major territories still to come.

Kwan-Rubinek said, “The first ‘Sherlock Holmes’ was a huge hit with international audiences, and we are extremely pleased with the way moviegoers have again embraced the new film. With many more markets yet to open, we are looking forward to a long and lucrative run for the film.”

Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as the world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, and Jude Law returns as his friend and colleague, Dr. Watson, in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.”

Sherlock Holmes has always been the smartest man in the room…until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large—Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris)—and not only is he Holmes’ intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may give him an advantage over the renowned detective. Holmes’ investigation into Moriarty’s plot becomes more dangerous as it leads him and Watson out of London to France, Germany and finally Switzerland. But the cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead, and moving perilously close to completing his sinister plan. If he succeeds, it will not only bring him immense wealth and power but alter the course of history.

Filmmaker Guy Ritchie returned to direct “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” the follow-up to the smash hit “Sherlock Holmes.” The sequel reunited producers Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey and Dan Lin. Bruce Berman and Steve Clark-Hall served as executive producers. The film also stars Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly, and Rachel McAdams. “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” was written by Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were created by the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and appear in stories and novels by him.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Silver Pictures Production, in association with Wigram Productions, a Guy Ritchie Film, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.” The film is being distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures. The film has been rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action and some drug material.

http://www.sherlockholmes2.com/

Happy Birthday, Debbie

I know.  A lady doesn't reveal her age!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Online Film Critics Society Announces 2011 Awards Nominations

Founded in 1997, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) describes itself as “the largest, most respected organization for critics whose work appears primarily on the Internet.” The OFCS says that it has been the key force in establishing and raising the standards for Internet-based film journalism. Its membership consists of film reviewers, journalists and scholars based in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Asia/Pacific Rim region

The full list of nominees for the 15th Annual Online Film Critics Society Awards (Winners will be announced on Monday, January 2, 2012):

Best Picture:
The Artist
The Descendants
Drive
Hugo
The Tree of Life

Best Animated Feature:
The Adventures of Tintin
Arthur Christmas
Kung Fu Panda 2
Rango
Winnie the Pooh

Best Director:
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Terrence Malick - The Tree of Life
Nicolas Winding Refn - Drive
Martin Scorsese - Hugo
Lars von Trier - Melancholia

Best Lead Actor:
George Clooney - The Descendants
Jean Dujardin - The Artist
Michael Fassbender - Shame
Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Solider Spy
Michael Shannon - Take Shelter

Best Lead Actress:
Kirsten Dunst - Melancholia
Elizabeth Olsen - Martha Marcy May Marlene
Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin
Michelle Williams - My Week with Marilyn

Best Supporting Actor:
Albert Brooks - Drive
John Hawkes - Martha Marcy May Marlene
Nick Nolte - Warrior
Brad Pitt - The Tree of Life
Christopher Plummer - Beginners

Best Supporting Actress:
Jessica Chastain - The Tree of Life
Melissa McCarthy - Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer - Albert Nobbs
Carey Mulligan - Shame
Shailene Woodley - The Descendants

Best Original Screenplay:
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Midnight in Paris
A Separation
The Tree of Life
Win Win

Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Descendants
Drive
Moneyball
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy
We Need to Talk About Kevin

Best Editing:
Drive
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Tree of Life
We Need to Talk About Kevin

Best Cinematography:
The Artist
Drive
Hugo
Melancholia
The Tree of Life

Best Film Not in the English Language:
13 Assassins
Certified Copy
A Separation
The Skin I Live In
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Best Documentary:
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
The Interrupters
Into the Abyss
Project Nim
Tabloid

Special Awards:
1. To Jessica Chastain, the breakout performer of the year

2. To Martin Scorsese in honor of his work and dedication to the pursuit of film preservation

Happy B'day, Denzel Washington: Out of Time

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 150 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux on Patreon


Out of Time (2003)
Running time: 105 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13
DIRECTOR: Carl Franklin
WRITER: David Collard
PRODUCERS: Jesse B'Franklin and Neal H. Moritz
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Theo van de Sande (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Carole Kravetz-Aykanian
COMPOSER: Graeme Revell

CRIME/DRAMA/THRILLER

Starring: Denzel Washington, Eva Mendes, Sanaa Lathan, Dean Cain, John Billingsley, Alex Carter, and Robert Baker

Director Carl Franklin (One False Move) and Denzel Washington previously joined forces to make the underrated noir thriller, Devil in a Blue Dress. They’re together again in the deliciously dumb crime thriller Out of Time. It’s dumb because its premise is stretched light years past the point of probability and reasonable suspension of disbelief. It’s hilarious, but not so dumb that’s it hard to watch. In fact, it’s quite delicious because, like the best thrillers, Out of Time is a riveting drama that hard to stop watching.

Mathias Lee Whitlock (Denzel Washington), the police chief of a small community in the Florida Keys, is having an affair with his high school sweetheart Anne Merai Harrison (Sanaa Lathan). After Anne is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Chief Whitlock gives her 500,000 in cash for an experimental cancer treatment. The problem is that Whitlock is supposed to hold onto the money because it’s evidence in a big time criminal case. When Anne disappears, Chief Whitlock suddenly finds himself knee deep in crap from an arson/double homicide, and the local FBI is pressuring him to give them the money for another criminal case. It doesn’t help that his estranged wife Alex Diaz-Whitlock (Eva Mendes) becomes an investigator in the homicide case, and Whitlock knows all the evidence is pointing at him as the killer.

For all the suspense movie clichés that the script gobbles, Carl Franklin is still able to create an incredibly intense police thriller. The characters are shallow, and the script short shrifts some of the better ones, though Washington’s Whitlock and John Billingsley’s Chae are quite captivating. Still, Franklin moves the players around like an adept gamesman and makes Out of Time very entertaining and fun to watch film. There may be no art here, but the movie shows all the signs of being directed by a master craftsmen. Denzel is a known property, as a star, an actor, and an artist. It’s time more film fans also recognize the fine director that Franklin is. Hopefully, he isn’t being slighted because of the prominence of melanin in his skin.

6 of 10
B

NOTES:
2004 Black Reel Awards: 2 wins: “Film: Best Actress” (Sanaa Lathan) and “Film: Best Theatrical (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer-MGM); 2 nominations: “Film: Best Actor” (Denzel Washington) and “Film: Best Director” (Carl Franklin)

2004 Image Awards: 2 nominations: “Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture: (Denzel Washington) and “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Sanaa Lathan)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"The Dark Knight Rises" Trailer Hotter Than Cayenne

Trailer for “The Dark Knight Rises” Shatters Record with More Than 12.5 Million Downloads on iTunes in First Day

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The new trailer for Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ “The Dark Knight Rises” smashed the record for most combined downloads through the iTunes Movie Trailers site (www.itunes.com/trailers) and the iTunes Trailers iOS app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The trailer went online at 10:00 Monday morning, December 19, and was viewed more than 12.5 million times in its first 24 hours, breaking the previous record by well over two million. The trailer can be viewed in HD at http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/wb/thedarkknightrises/.

Opening on July 20, 2012, “The Dark Knight Rises” is the much-anticipated epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. The film’s international all-star cast is led by Oscar® winner Christian Bale (“The Fighter”) in the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film also stars Anne Hathaway, as Selina Kyle; Tom Hardy, as Bane; Oscar® winner Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”), as Miranda Tate; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as John Blake. Reprising their roles from both “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” Oscar® winner Michael Caine (“The Cider House Rules”) plays Alfred; Gary Oldman is Commissioner Gordon; and Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) plays Lucius Fox.

The film is directed by Nolan from a screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer. The film is produced by Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Charles Roven, who previously teamed on “Batman Begins” and the record-breaking blockbuster “The Dark Knight.” Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Kevin De La Noy and Thomas Tull are the executive producers, with Jordan Goldberg serving as co-producer. “The Dark Knight Rises” is based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Batman created by Bob Kane.

A presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with Legendary Pictures, “The Dark Knight Rises” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

"The Artist" Dominates San Diego Film Critics Awards

The members of San Diego Film Critics Society write and/or broadcast for a San Diego County based outlet. The society’s mission statement is “to provide diverse critical opinion about movies, advance film education and awareness, and recognize excellence in cinema.”

2011 San Diego Film Critics winners:

BEST FILM –
WINNER: THE ARTIST

Nominees:
DRIVE
HUGO
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
THE TREE OF LIFE

BEST DIRECTOR –
Winner: Nicolas Winding Refn, DRIVE

Nominees:
Martin Scorsese, HUGO
Michel Hazanavicius, THE ARTIST
Terrence Malick, THE TREE OF LIFE
Woody Allen, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

BEST ACTRESS –
Winner: Brit Marling, ANOTHER EARTH

Nominees:
Elizabeth Olsen, MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE
Michelle Williams, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN
Tilda Swinton, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
Viola Davis, THE HELP

BEST ACTOR –
Winner: Michael Shannon, TAKE SHELTER

Nominees:
Brad Pitt, MONEYBALL
Brendan Gleeson, THE GUARD
George Clooney, THE DESCENDANTS
Jean Dujardin, THE ARTIST

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS –
Winner: Shailene Woodley, THE DESCENDANTS

Nominees:
Bérénice Bejo, THE ARTIST
Carey Mulligan, SHAME
Jessica Chastain, THE HELP
Mélanie Laurent, BEGINNERS

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR –
Winner: Nick Nolte, WARRIOR

Nominees:
Albert Brooks, DRIVE
Andy Serkis, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Christopher Plummer, BEGINNERS
Max von Sydow, EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY –
Winner: Woody Allen, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Nominees:
Michel Hazanavicius, THE ARTIST
Mike Mills, BEGINNERS
Thomas McCarthy, WIN WIN
Will Reiser, 50/50

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY –
Winner: Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, MONEYBALL

Nominees:
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, THE DESCENDANTS
Hossein Amini, DRIVE
John Logan, HUGO
Steve Kloves, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM –
Winner: LE QUATTRO VOLTE

Nominees:
A SOMEWHAT GENTLE MAN
HAPPY HAPPY
OF GODS AND MEN
THE DOUBLE HOUR


BEST DOCUMENTARY –
Winner: PROJECT NIM

Nominees:
BUCK
CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS
INTO THE ABYSS
PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY –
Winner: Emmanuel Lubezki, THE TREE OF LIFE

Nominees:
Adam Stone, TAKE SHELTER
Guillaume Schiffman, THE ARTIST
Newton Thomas Sigel, DRIVE
Robert Richardson, HUGO

BEST ANIMATED FILM –
Winner: ARTHUR CHRISTMAS

Nominees:
HAPPY FEET TWO
KUNG FU PANDA 2
RANGO
WINNIE THE POOH

BEST EDITING –
Winner: Oliver Bugge Coutté, BEGINNERS

Nominees:
Anne-Sophie Bion & Michel Hazanavicius, THE ARTIST
Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber, & Mark Yoshikawa, THE TREE OF LIFE
Mat Newman, DRIVE
Thelma Schoonmaker, HUGO

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN –
Winner: Dante Ferretti, HUGO

Nominees:
Anne Seibel, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
Jack Fisk, THE TREE OF LIFE
Laurence Bennett, THE ARTIST
Stuart Craig, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2

BEST SCORE –
Winner: Alexandre Desplat, HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2

Nominees:
Alexandre Desplat, EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE
Alexandre Desplat, THE TREE OF LIFE
Howard Shore, HUGO
Ludovic Bource, THE ARTIST

BEST ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE –
Winner: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2

Nominees:
CARNAGE
MARGIN CALL
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
THE HELP

BODY OF WORK FOR 2011
Winner: Jessica Chastain

KYLE COUNTS AWARD
Lee Ann Kim, San Diego Asian Film Foundation

Monday, December 26, 2011

Hanks and Roberts Shine in Winning "Larry Crowne"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 107 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux


Larry Crowne (2011)
Running time: 98 minutes (1 hour, 38 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for brief strong language and some sexual content
DIRECTOR: Tom Hanks
WRITERS: Tom Hanks and Nia Vardalos
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Philippe Rousselot (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Alan Cody
COMPOSER: James Newton Howard

COMEDY/DRAMA/ROMANCE

Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wilmer Valderrama, Bryan Cranston, Pam Grier, Rami Malek, Maria Canals Barrera, Rita Wilson, George Takei, Ian Gomez, and Rob Riggle

Larry Crowne is a 2011 romantic comedy and college film directed by Tom Hanks and is the first film Hanks has directed since That Thing You Do! (1996). The film focuses on a middle-aged man, downsized from a big-box company, who decides to attend college for the first time. In a landscape full of movies that are full of unbelievable things, Larry Crowne is level-headed, real, and, for me, a great !@#$%& movie.

Larry Crowe (Tom Hanks) has just been fired from his job at the retail giant, UMart. The divorced, middle-aged man is drowning in a six-figure mortgage and suddenly cannot find another job. His neighbors, Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer) and B’Ella (Taraji P. Henson), suggest that he attend college, so Larry enrolls at East Valley Community College where he even joins a scooter club.

One of the members, the free-spirited Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), befriends Larry, renames him “Lance Corona,” and turns him into her makeover project. Larry thrives in an economics class with a peculiar instructor, Dr. Ed Matsutani (George Takei). In a public-speaking class, Larry develops an unexpected crush on his teacher, the taciturn Mercedes “Mercy” Tainot (Julia Roberts), who has lost her passion for teaching and is in the midst of a personal crisis. Both are about to discover a new reason for living.

I saw a quote from a review of Larry Crowne that described it as bland and conventional. On the surface, Larry Crowne may seem so, but it actually isn’t. Ostensibly a romantic comedy, this film is really about two people, Larry Crowne and Mercedes Tainot, in full midlife crisis. In those roles, Hanks and Roberts, respectively, give their best performances of recent years. The shock and grief Hanks portrays early in the film when Larry is fired is palatable, so much so that I nearly burst into tears (having undergone a similar experience).

Roberts’ turn as the burnt-out professor, Tainot, is equally inspired. She fashions Mercy as a sarcasm addict whose suffer-no-fools attitude actually hides a generous soul. Roberts does what Hanks does – uses every moment of screen time to build her character into something a bit deeper than what can be described in 20 words or less. Crowne and Tainot are more than my brief descriptions imply.

The supporting characters are mostly types and are not fully realized characters. They are in this movie to add laughs and to give the film some zest and odd flavors. Why else have Cedric the Entertainer, Wilmer Valderrama, Bryan Cranston, Pam Grier, George Takei, Ian Gomez, and Rob Riggle in throw-away parts if not to give the film different essences from unique characters?

However, it is the relaxed chemistry between Hanks and Roberts and also their robust performances that make Larry Crowne surprisingly not conventional and certainly not bland. It’s one of the best romantic comedies of the year, if not the best.

8 of 10
A

Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Nominations - Complete List

The Phoenix Film Critics Society announced the slate of nominees for their 2011 Annual Awards. The winner in each category will be announced on Tuesday, December 27, 2011. The Best Picture will be chosen from the Top Ten Films of 2011.

Phoenix Film Critics Society 2011 Award Nominations:

TOP TEN FILMS OF 2011 (in alphabetical order)
"The Artist”
"The Descendants"
"Drive"
"The Help"
"Hugo"
"Midnight in Paris"
"Moneyball"
"My Week With Marilyn"
"Super 8"
"The Tree of Life"

BEST DIRECTOR
Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris”
Michael Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Alexander Payne, “The Descendants”
Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"
Tate Taylor, "The Help"

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
George Clooney, "The Descendants"
Jean Dujardin, "The Artist
Michael Fassbender, “Shame”
Gary Oldman, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis, "The Help"
Elizabeth Olsen, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"
Michelle Williams, "My Week with Marilyn"

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Kenneth Branagh, "My Week with Marilyn"
Albert Brooks, "Drive"
John Hawkes, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"
Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Berenice Bejo, "The Artist"
Bryce Dallas Howard, "The Help"
Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
Octavia Spencer, "The Help"
Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants"

BEST ENSEMBLE ACTING
"Bridesmaids"
"Contagion"
"Margin Call"
"Midnight in Paris"
"Super 8"

BEST SCREENPLAY – ORIGINAL
"The Artist"
"Beginners"
"Midnight in Paris"

BEST SCREENPLAY – ADAPTATION
"Descendants"
"The Help"
"Hugo"

BEST LIVE ACTION FAMILY FILM
"Dolphin Tale"
"Hugo"
"The Muppets"
"We Bought a Zoo"

THE OVERLOOKED FILM OF THE YEAR
"A Better Life"
"The Conspirator"
"Texas Killing Fields"

BEST ANIMATED FILM
"The Adventures of Tintin"
"Rango"
"Winnie the Pooh"

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
"Incendies"
"Point Blank"
"The Skin I Live In"

BEST DOCUMENTARY
"African Cats"
"The Greatest Movie Ever Sold"
"Page One: Inside the New York Times"
"Project Nim"

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
"I Believe In You, "Johnny English Reborn"
"Life's a Happy Song, "The Muppets"
"The Living Proof, "The Help"
"Star Spangled Man, "Captain America"

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
"The Artist"
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
"Moneyball"
"Super 8"

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
"The Artist"
"Hugo"
"Tree of Life"

BEST FILM EDITING
"The Artist"
"Super 8"
"Tree of Life"

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
"The Artist"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
"Hugo"

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
"The Artist"
"Hugo"
"Jane Eyre"

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
"Hugo"
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"

BEST STUNTS
"Drive"
"Fast Five"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE ON CAMERA
Elle Fanning, "Super 8"
Thomas Horn, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
Elizabeth Olsen, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants"

BREAKTROUGH PERFORMANCE BEHIND THE CAMERA
Sean Durkin, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Michael Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Tate Taylor, "The Help"

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A YOUTH IN A LEAD OR SUPPORTING ROLE – MALE
Asa Butterfield, “Hugo"
Joel Courtney, "Super 8"
Thomas Horn, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A YOUTH IN A LEAD OR SUPPORTING ROLE – FEMALE
Elle Fanning, "Super 8"
Amara Miller, "The Descendants"
Chloe Grace Moretz, "Hugo"
Saoirse Ronan, "Hanna"

Sunday, December 25, 2011

"Midnight in Paris" is Magical and One of the Year's Best Films

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 106 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux


Midnight in Paris (2011)
Running time: 94 minutes (1 hour, 34 minutes)
MPAA – R for some sexual references and smoking
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Woody Allen
PRODUCERS: Letty Aronson, Jaume Roures, and Stephen Tenenbaum
CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Darius Khondji with Johanne Debas
EDITOR: Alisa Lepselter

ROMANCE/COMEDY/DRAMA/FANTASY

Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy, Michael Sheen, Nina Arianda, Carla Bruni, Corey Stoll, Alison Pill, Tom Hiddleston, Yves Heck, Kathy Bates, Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, Adrien Brody, Sonia Rolland, Adrien de Van, and Léa Seydoux

Midnight in Paris is a 2011 romantic comedy/drama and fantasy film written and directed by Woody Allen. The film focuses on a struggling novelist who has magical experiences in Paris which begin each night at midnight. Midnight in Paris is the first high-quality Woody Allen film since Match Point (2005), and it is his best film since the early to mid 1990s, certainly the best since Bullets Over Broadway (2004).

Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is a successful Hollywood screenwriter, but he hates the kind of movies with which he is usually involved. He travels to Paris with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), and her wealthy, conservative parents, John (Kurt Fuller) and Helen (Mimi Kennedy), for a vacation. Gil is struggling to finish his first novel, and he believes a permanent move to Paris would be a good thing. Inez, who wants to live in Malibu, sees this desire as a foolish romantic notion, and this disagreement is but one of many of the couple’s divergent goals.

One night, a drunken Gil wanders the streets of Paris. At the stroke of midnight, an antique car pulls up and the passengers, who are dressed in 1920s clothing, beckon Gil to join them. Gil soon finds himself in a bar enjoying a performance by Josephine Baker (Sonia Rolland), watching Cole Porter (Yves Heck) sing and play the piano, having a meeting of the minds with Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), and chatting up Zelda (Allison Pill) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston). Gil realizes that he has been transported back to Paris of the 1920s, an era he idolizes. He visits the home of Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), where he meets Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo) and Picasso’s mistress, a young woman named Adriana (Marion Cotillard). Gil and Adriana are quickly attracted to each other, but their strange romance also reveals their unhappiness with their current personal situations.

In a broad sense, Midnight in Paris specifically deals with nostalgia as a theme, especially people’s nostalgia for a time that existed before they were born – a golden age. For instance, Gil yearns for the 1920s, which occurred decades before he was born. Allen’s script allows Gil to revel in his ability to go back into the past, which is perhaps the only way for Gil to come to grips both with reality and with his idealization of a time in which he didn’t live. Allen resolves this in a way both sensible and satisfying.

On a personal and character drama level, Midnight in Paris plays with themes of denial and cognitive dissonance. The characters have desires and find ways to sabotage or sully their desires when they find them difficult to obtain or perhaps too costly. Both in his script writing and directing, Allen subtly tells us that only those who are honest with themselves about what they want can be happy.

Beyond that, I have to say that Midnight in Paris is just an utterly magical film. There are fantasy films that only feel like Hollywood action movie product and lack a sense of enchantment. Then, there are others that, when you watch them, you can feel the magic emanating and oozing from the screen. That’s how Midnight in Paris is, and Darius Khondji’s shimmering, golden-hued, ember-infused cinematography is a big reason why Midnight in Paris looks like one big enchanted holiday. This movie moves, sounds, looks, and feels like a romantic film.

I am a big fan of Woody Allen and have been for nearly 30 years. I love his films that take place in the past, like Radio Days (1987), which is set in a period when my parents would have been small children or toddlers. I also like his films that are infused with magic, like Alice (1990). For me, Midnight in Paris is the best of both those worlds. A lot of people may dismiss Allen, but they would have to be honest after seeing this film. Few feel-good movies feel better than Midnight in Paris.

9 of 10
A+

Sunday, December 25, 2011


It's a Very Merry (Negromancer) Christmas

Be good to each other.  Happy Holidays! Remember the less fortunate.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"Joyeux Noel" or "Merry Christmas" a Great Film by Any Name

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 244 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux


Joyeux Noël (2005)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Belgium/France/Germany/UK/Romania; Language: French, Germany, English, and Latin
Running time: 116 minutes (1 hour, 56 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for war violence and a brief scene of sexuality/nudity
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Christian Carion
PRODUCER: Christophe Rossignon
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Walther Vanden Ende
EDITOR: Andrea Sedlackova
Academy Award nominee

WAR/DRAMA/HISTORICAL

Starring: Diane Kruger, Benno Fürmann, Guillaume Canet, Gary Lewis, Dany Boon, and Daniel Bruhl, Lucas Belvaux, Alex Ferns, Bernard, Lo Coq, and Steven Robertson

Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas) is based upon a true story, on an event that occurred during World War I on Christmas Eve 1914. That night, soldiers walked out onto the “no man’s land” between their entrenchments and shared songs and friendship. Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas), nominated for a 2006 “Best Foreign Language Film of the Year” Oscar as a representative of France, is a fictionalized account of that momentous event.

The outbreak of war during the lull of summer 1914 surprised millions of men, especially as the conflict pulled them in its wake. The first Christmas arrives, but the snow and multitude of parcels and presents from their families and their armies can’t really lift the men’s spirits. However, on Christmas Eve, a momentous event begins with songs and Christmas lights. Anna Sörenson (Diane Kruger), a soprano, and her singing partner, Nikolaus Sprink (Benno Fürmann), an exceptional German tenor; Palmer (Gary Lewis), an Anglican priest from Scotland who followed the men of his parish into the war; and Audebert (Guillaume Canet), a French lieutenant who left behind his pregnant wife when he went to war, become the major players in a miraculous event that changes their own lives and destinies.

On December 24, 1914, French, German, and Scottish soldiers come out of their trenches for an impromptu concert of Christmas carols and also for a Christmas Eve mass. For a few days, their hellish existence stops, and the soldiers swap food, wine, and stories and even play football (soccer). Not everyone, however, likes this strange turn of events.

Joyeux Noël is, make no doubt about it, an anti-war film, but director Christian Carion helms his film with such grace and subtlety. He makes his point by telling a story of the brotherhood of man, removing nationality and whatever divides humanity and going towards what made these soldiers alike. These men long for their families and homes, and amidst all the carnage, death, and destruction, they find an eye in the storm where they can relax, at least a little. For a while, they’re carefree boys again. Carion also juxtaposes these grunts in the trenches with the fat cat politicians, rulers, and officers who dine and entertain in warmth and comfort for in the rear.

Carion’s cast is as earnest as he is, but their determinism carries over to the story, revealing the characters to be people merely determined to have at least a little control over their lives and to be able to object to their situation even if they must ultimately submit. Scottish actor Gary Lewis is a standout as the brave and devout Anglican priest, Palmer, who calmly takes on that which tests his faith. Diane Kruger and Benno Fürmann as the opera singers give the film a humanizing romantic subplot that actually works. Guillaume Canet as Audebert and Dany Boon as Audebert’s valet, Ponchel, provide a nice subplot about a friendship that grows stronger once the men go to war. It’s these small stories that Carion weaves so well together that makes Joyeux Noël a Great War movie, and an ever greater Christmas film.

9 of 10
A+

NOTES
2006 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Foreign Language Film of the Year” (France)

2006 BAFTA Awards: 1 nomination for “Best Film not in the English Language” (Christophe Rossignon and Christian Carion)

2006 Golden Globes: 1 nomination for “Best Foreign Language Film” (France)

Utah Film Critics Put it in "Drive"

Obviously, the Utah Film Critics Association is made of Utah-based film critics who ply their trade in print, television, and new media.  Apparently, 13 of them voted for these awards, according to a newspaper article I found.

2011 Winners:

Best Picture: Drive
(runner-up: The Artist)

Best Achievement in Directing: Michael Hazanavicius, The Artist
(runner-up: Nicholas Winding Refn, Drive)

Best Lead Performance by an Actor: Joseph Gordon-Levitt: 50/50
(runner-up: Jean Dujardin, The Artist)

Best Lead Performance by an Actress: Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
(runner-up: Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Best Supporting Performance by an Actor: Albert Brooks, Drive
(runner-up: Christopher Plummer, Beginners)

Best Supporting Performance by an Actress: Amy Ryan, Win Win
(runner-up: Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus)

Best Original Screenplay: Will Reiser, 50/50
(runner-up: Mike Mills, Beginners)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, The Descendants
(runner-up: Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller, The Muppets)

Best Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel, Drive
(runner-up: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life)

Best Documentary Feature: Senna
(runner-up: Project Nim)

Best Non-English Language Feature: A Separation
(runner-up: 13 Assassins)

Best Animated Feature: Rango
(runners-up: The Adventures of Tintin and Kung Fu Panda 2)

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 London Film Critics' Circle Nominations - Complete List

The London Film Critics’ Circle (if I understand correctly) is part of a larger organization, The Critics’ Circle, which makes an annual award for Services to the Arts. This circle is comprised of the five sections: dance, drama, film, music, and visual arts.

On its website, The Circle says that its aims are “to promote the art of criticism, to uphold its integrity in practice, to foster and safeguard members’ professional interests, to provide opportunities to meet, and to support the advancement of the arts.” Currently there are 430 members of the Circle, mostly from the UK, and the majority of them write regularly for national and regional newspapers and magazines. Membership is by invitation.

The 32nd London Critics’ Circle Film Awards will be presented Thursday, January 19, 2012, at BFI Southbank.

The 32nd London Critics’ Circle Film Awards nominations:

FILM OF THE YEAR
The Artist (Entertainment)
Drive (Icon)
A Separation (Artificial Eye)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (StudioCanal)
The Tree of Life (Fox)

 
The Attenborough Award: BRITISH FILM OF THE YEAR
The Guard (StudioCanal)
Kill List (StudioCanal)
Shame (Momentum)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (StudioCanal)
We Need to Talk About Kevin (Artificial Eye)

 
FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
Mysteries of Lisbon (New Wave)
Poetry (Arrow)
Le Quattro Volte (New Wave)
A Separation (Artificial Eye)
The Skin I Live In (Fox/Pathé)

 
DOCUMENTARY OF THE YEAR
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Picturehouse)
Dreams of a Life (Dogwoof)
Pina (Artificial Eye)
Project Nim (Icon)
Senna (Universal)

 
DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Asghar Farhadi - A Separation (Artificial Eye)
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist (Entertainment)
Terrence Malick - The Tree of Life (Fox)
Lynne Ramsay - We Need to Talk About Kevin (Artificial Eye)
Nicolas Winding Refn - Drive (Icon)

 
SCREENWRITER OF THE YEAR
Asghar Farhadi - A Separation (Artificial Eye)
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist (Entertainment)
Kenneth Lonergan - Margaret (Fox)
Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (StudioCanal)
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash - The Descendants (Fox)

 
The Virgin Atlantic Award: BREAKTHROUGH BRITISH FILM-MAKER
Richard Ayoade - Submarine (StudioCanal)
Paddy Considine - Tyrannosaur (StudioCanal)
Joe Cornish - Attack the Block (StudioCanal)
Andrew Haigh - Weekend (Peccadillo)
John Michael McDonagh - The Guard (StudioCanal)

 
ACTOR OF THE YEAR
George Clooney - The Descendants (Fox)
Jean Dujardin - The Artist (Entertainment)
Michael Fassbender - Shame (Momentum)
Ryan Gosling - Drive (Icon)
Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (StudioCanal)

 
ACTRESS OF THE YEAR
Kirsten Dunst - Melancholia (Artificial Eye)
Anna Paquin - Margaret (Fox)
Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady (Fox/Pathé)
Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin (Artificial Eye)
Michelle Williams - My Week With Marilyn (Entertainment)

 
SUPPORTING ACTOR OF THE YEAR
Simon Russell Beale - The Deep Blue Sea (Artificial Eye)
Kenneth Branagh - My Week With Marilyn (Entertainment)
Albert Brooks - Drive (Icon)
Christopher Plummer - Beginners (Universal)
Michael Smiley - Kill List (StudioCanal)

 
SUPPORTING ACTRESS OF THE YEAR
Sareh Bayat - A Separation (Artificial Eye)
Jessica Chastain - The Help (Disney)
Vanessa Redgrave - Coriolanus (Lionsgate)
Octavia Spencer - The Help (Disney)
Jacki Weaver - Animal Kingdom (StudioCanal)

 
BRITISH ACTOR OF THE YEAR
Tom Cullen - Weekend (Peccadillo)
Michael Fassbender - A Dangerous Method (Lionsgate), Shame (Momentum)
Brendan Gleeson - The Guard (StudioCanal)
Peter Mullan - Tyrannosaur (StudioCanal), War Horse (Disney)
Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (StudioCanal)

 
The Moët & Chandon Award: BRITISH ACTRESS OF THE YEAR
Olivia Colman - The Iron Lady (Fox/Pathé), Tyrannosaur (StudioCanal)
Carey Mulligan - Drive (Icon), Shame (Momentum)
Vanessa Redgrave - Anonymous (Sony), Coriolanus (Lionsgate)
Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin (Artificial Eye)
Rachel Weisz - The Deep Blue Sea (Artificial Eye)

 
YOUNG BRITISH PERFORMER OF THE YEAR
John Boyega - Attack the Block (StudioCanal)
Jeremy Irvine - War Horse (Disney)
Yasmin Paige - Submarine (StudioCanal)
Craig Roberts - Submarine (StudioCanal)
Saoirse Ronan - Hanna (Universal)

The Sky 3D Award: TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT
  • Manuel Alberto Claro, cinematography - Melancholia (Artificial Eye)
  • Paul Davies, sound design - We Need to Talk About Kevin (Artificial Eye)
  • Maria Djurkovic, production design - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (StudioCanal)
  • Dante Ferretti, production design - Hugo (Entertainment)
  • Alberto Iglesias, original score - The Skin I Live In (Fox/Pathé)
  • Chris King & Gregers Sall, editing - Senna (Universal)
  • Joe Letteri, visual effects - Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Fox)
  • Cliff Martinez, original score - Drive (Icon)
  • Robert Richardson, cinematography - Hugo (Entertainment)
  • Robbie Ryan, cinematography - Wuthering Heights (Artificial Eye)

 
The Dilys Powell Award: EXCELLENCE IN FILM
Nicolas Roeg

 

"Scoop" Stars Have Little Chemistry

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 242 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux


Scoop (2006)
Running time: 96 minutes (1 hour, 36 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some sexual content
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Woody Allen
PRODUCERS: Letty Aronson and Gareth Wiley
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Remi Adefarasin B.S.C.
EDITOR: Alisa Lepselter

COMEDY/MYSTERY with elements of romance

Starring: Woody Allen, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, and Ian McShane, Romola Garai, Carolyn Backhouse, Julian Glover, Alexander Armstrong, and Anthony Head

In Woody Allen’s contemporary comedy/mystery, Scoop, a young American journalist may hit the jackpot when she chances upon a major news scoop – that she got from the ghost of a famous, but recently deceased newspaper reporter.

The late Joe Strombel (Ian McShane) is being mourned by his journalistic colleagues while he’s stuck in limbo with a news scoop. He’s just got a hot tip from a fellow spirit on the identity of the “Tarot Card Killer.” This serial killer has been at large in London for a few years now, killing prostitutes.

Meanwhile, Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson), an American college journalism student, is visiting friends in London, when she attends the stage performance of another American, magician Sydney Waterman (Woody Allen), AKA “Splendini.” Going on stage to assist Splendini in one of his magic tricks, Sondra somehow also comes into contact with Joe Strombel. Strombel gives Sondra the scoop on the Tarot Card Killer and urges her to pursue what could be the story of a lifetime. Sondra jumps on this scoop and enlists the aid of a reluctant Sid, who pretends to be her father.

Strombel’s tip leads the intrepid duo to Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman), a handsome aristocrat. Sondra feigns interest in Peter’s advances towards her, but soon she’s really fallen for the hunky nobleman. When the romance takes a turn for the serious, both Sondra and Sid wonder if she’s gone too far and put herself in danger.

Scoop was Allen’s second film shot in London (following Match Point), but it is less like Match Point and more like Allen’s New York-based films (such as comedy mystery Manhattan Murder Mystery and the comedy/drama Alice). Luckily, Woody Allen and Scarlett Johansson’s characters pretend to be father and daughter because they certainly wouldn’t have much chemistry as a much older man dating a (much) younger woman. As it is, Johansson and Hugh Jackman only have marginal chemistry as a screen couple, as the fiery Jackman and intense Johansson are only lukewarm here.

There’s not much here for viewers who aren’t Allen devotees, and there’s nothing new here even for them. Scoop is an Allen rehash that looks different only because London is standing in for New York City. Genial and harmless (and not inspiring enthusiasm), there are a few nice moments, but most of this flick is tepid. The script also lacks the sarcastic, droll, and biting dialogue found in even the most cookie-cutter Allen films.

5 of 10
B-

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Joey

Wow!  9 already.

St. Louis Film Critics Canonize "The Artist"

St. Louis Film Critics is an association of professional film critics operating in metropolitan St. Louis and adjoining areas of Missouri and Illinois.

2011 St. Louis Film Critics’ Awards winners:

Best Film: “The Artist “
(runner-up: “The Descendants”)

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist")
(runner-up): Terrence Malick ("Tree of Life")

Best Actor: George Clooney ("The Descendants")
(runner-up): Ryan Gosling ("Drive")

Best Actress: Rooney Mara ("The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo")
(runners-up): Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady") and Michelle Williams ("My Week With Marilyn")

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks ("Drive")
(runner-up): Alan Rickman ("Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2")

Best Supporting Actress: Bérénice Bejo ("The Artist")
(runners-up): Octavia Spencer ("The Help") and Shailene Woodley ("The Descendants")

Best Original Screenplay: Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist")
(runner-up): Will Reiser ("50/50")

Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash and Kaui Hart Hemmings (novel) for "The Descendants"
(runner-up): Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin and Michael Lewis (book) for "Moneyball"

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki ("Tree Of Life")
(runners-up): Jeff Cronenweth ("The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo") and Janusz Kaminski ("War Horse")

Best Visual Effects: "Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2"
(runner-up): “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes”

Best Music: “The Artist “
(runner-up): “Drive”

Best Foreign-Language Film: “13 Assassins”
(runner-up): “Winter in Wartime”

Best Documentary: “Being Elmo “
(runner-up): “Tabloid"

Best Comedy: “Bridesmaids”
(runner-up): “Midnight In Paris”

Best Animated Film: “The Adventures of Tintin “
(runner-up): “Rango”

Best Artistic/Creative Film (for excellence in art-house cinema): “We Need To Talk About Kevin”
(runner-up): “Win Win”

Special Merit (for best scene, cinematic technique or other memorable aspect or moment): “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" – the opening credits
(runner-up): “The Artist" – the dance scene finale

New "Blue Dragon" Anime at VIZAnime and Hulu

VIZ MEDIA BRINGS BLUE DRAGON: TRIALS OF THE SEVEN SHADOWS TO NORTH AMERICAN FANS ON VIZANIME.COM AND HULU

Animated Series Is Based On Popular Xbox 360 Videogame And Features Character Designs By Manga Mastermind Akira Toriyama

VIZ Media has announced the launch of BLUE DRAGON: TRIALS OF THE SEVEN SHADOWS, the second season of the hit fantasy adventure series BLUE DRAGON (both rated TV-14), available now on VIZAnime.com, the company’s own website for free anime, as well as on the streaming content provider HULU (http://www.hulu.com/). Episodes 1-5 are available now, and 2 new episodes will debut each Friday.

The BLUE DRAGON series is based on the exclusive Xbox 360 videogame “BLUE DRAGON,” developed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of “Final Fantasy,” and features character designs by Akira Toriyama, the creator of the best-selling DRAGON BALL series of manga (published in North America by VIZ Media).

BLUE DRAGON is a classic adventure story of magical Shadow powers, flying air fortresses, and unbounded heroism! Brought together by fate, Seven Soldiers of Light must awaken the Shadow within themselves in time to overcome a despotic power and bring peace to their land. Their ensuing journey through a rich fantasy world is also an internal journey to awaken the great power within each of them.

In the exciting Second Season, Shu and his friends fought to defeat the evil lord Nene, the ruler of the Grankingdom. Nene was defeated, but it was revealed that the true evil was none other than Zola, who was the avatar of the legendary Darkness. Shu and the other Seven Soldiers of Light managed to once again seal off the force of Darkness, but lost their Shadow Powers in the process. Two years has passed since the battle with Darkness. As Shu and Bouquet continue their battle against General Logi and his Rosekstan army, a new threat arrives. Powerful dragons calling themselves the “Legion of Elite Species” set out to test the worthiness of mankind, selecting Shu as the candidate.

For more information on this and other animated titles from VIZ Media please visit http://www.vizanime.com/.

2011 St. Louis Film Critics' Awards Nominations - Complete List

St. Louis Film Critics is an association of professional film critics operating in metropolitan St. Louis and adjoining areas of Missouri and Illinois. Founded in late 2004, the group’s goals (according to the website) are to serve the interests of local film critics, and to promote an appreciation for cinema both as an art form and for its societal, cultural and historical context and impact.

2011 St. Louis Film Critics’ Awards nominations:

Best Film
The Artist
The Descendants
Drive
My Week With Marilyn
Tree of Life

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist
Terrence Malick for Tree of Life
Alexander Payne for The Descendants
David Fincher for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive

Best Actor
Ryan Gosling for Drive
George Clooney for The Descendants
Jean Dujardin for The Artist
Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Michael Fassbender for Shame
Brad Pitt for Moneyball

Best Actress
Viola Davis for The Help
Rooney Mara for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Saoirse Ronan for Hanna
Elizabeth Olsen for Martha Marcy May Marlene
Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn
Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady

Best Supporting Actor
John Hawkes for Martha Marcy May Marlene
Albert Brooks for Drive
John Goodman for The Artist
Alan Rickman for Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Jonah Hill for Moneyball

Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett for Hanna
Octavia Spencer for The Help
Shailene Woodley for The Descendants
Bérénice Bejo for The Artist
Jessica Chastain for Tree Of Life

Best Original Screenplay
Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist
Terrence Malick for Tree Of Life
Woody Allen for Midnight In Paris
Seth Lochhead and David Farr for Hanna
Will Reiser for 50/50
Thomas McCarthy and Joe Tiboni for Win Win

Best Adapted Screenplay
Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin and Michael Lewis (book) for Moneyball
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash and Kaui Hart Hemmings (novel) for The Descendants
Tate Taylor and Kathryn Stockett (novel) for The Help
Hossein Amini and James Sallis (book) for Drive
Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller and Jim Henson (characters) for The Muppets

Best Cinematography
Newton Thomas Sigel for Drive
Emmanuel Lubezki for Tree Of Life
Guillaume Schiffman for The Artist
Janusz Kaminski for War Horse
Jeff Cronenweth for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Best Visual Effects
Tree Of Life
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Super 8
Captain America

Best Music
The Artist
Drive
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The Muppets
Tree of Life

Best Foreign-Language Film
13 Assassins
Point Blank
I Saw The Devil
Trollhunter
Winter in Wartime

Best Documentary
Being Elmo
The Interrupters
Tabloid
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
Buck

Best Comedy
The Muppets
Midnight In Paris
Bridesmaids
Rango
Paul
Crazy, Stupid, Love

Best Animated Film
Rango
Kung Fu Panda 2
The Adventures of Tin Tin
Puss In Boots
Rio

Best Art-House or Festival Film
- for excellence in art-house cinema, limited to films that played at film festivals or film series here or those that had a limited-release here, playing one or two cinemas.

We Need To Talk About Kevin
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Win Win
Beginners
Tucker and Dale vs Evil

Best Scene (for favorite movie scene or sequence):

Drive: the elevator beating scene
Drive: opening get-away scene
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: opening credits
The Artist: dance scene finale
Melancholia: the last scene
Hanna: Hanna’s escape from captivity sequence

http://www.stlfilmcritics.org/

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Houston Film Critics Declare "The Descendants" the Best

The Houston Film Critics Society was founded in 2007. It is a not-for-profit organization of 26 print, broadcast and Internet film critics based in the Greater Metropolitan Houston area.

The HFCS awards gala will be January 7, 2012 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Brown Auditorium.

Houston Film Critics Society 2011 nominees and winners (in bold):

Best Picture
"The Artist"
"The Descendants" WINNER
"Drive"
"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
"The Help"
"Midnight in Paris"
"The Tree of Life"
"War Horse"
"Win Win"

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"
Nicolas Winding Refn, "Drive" WINNER
Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life"

Best Actor
George Clooney, "The Descendants"
Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
Michael Fassbender, "Shame" WINNER
Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"
Michael Shannon, "Take Shelter"

Best Actress
Viola Davis, "The Help"
Elizabeth Olsen, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"
Tilda Swinton, "We Need to Talk About Kevin" WINNER
Michelle Williams, "My Week with Marilyn"

Best Supporting Actor
Albert Brooks, "Drive" WINNER
Armie Hammer, "J. Edgar"
Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"
Andy Serkis, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
Alex Shaffer, "Win Win"

Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"
Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"
Octavia Spencer, "The Help"
Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants" WINNER

Best Screenplay
"The Artist"
"The Descendants" WINNER
"50/50"
"Midnight in Paris"
"Win Win"

Best Cinematography
"The Artist"
"Drive"
"Hugo"
"The Tree of Life" WINNER
"War Horse"

Best Score
"The Adventures of Tintin"
"The Artist" WINNER
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
"Shame"
"War Horse"

Best Song
"Lay Your Head Down" from "Albert Nobbs"
"Star Spangled Man" from "Captain America: The First Avenger"
"The Living Proof" from "The Help"
"Life's a Happy Song" from "The Muppets" WINNER
"Think You can Wait" from "Win Win"

Best Animated Film
"The Adventures of Tintin"
"Happy Feet Two"
"Kung Fu Panda"
"Puss in Boots"
"Rango" WINNER
"Winnie the Pooh"

Best Foreign Film
"The Artist"
"Elite Squad: The Enemy Within"
"I Saw the Devil" WINNER
"The Skin I Live In"
"13 Assassins"

Best Documentary
"Buck"
"Cave of Forgotten Dreams"
"The Elephant in the Room"
"Project Nim" WINNER
"Undefeated"

Worst Film of the Year
"Jack and Jill"
"Red Riding Hood"
"The Sitter"
"The Smurfs"
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1"
"Your Highness" WINNER/LOSER

Technical Achievement: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Humanitarian Honor: Joanne Herring

Lifetime Achievement: Jeff Bridges

"The Descendants" Wins Satellite Awards "Best Picture"

The International Press Academy (IPA) is an entertainment media association with voting members worldwide who represent domestic and foreign markets via print, television, radio, blogs, and other content platforms for virtually every notable outlet.

Each year the IPA honors artistic excellence in the areas of Motion Pictures, Television, Radio, and New Media via the Satellite® Awards.  However, Negromancer is only concerned about the "Motion Picture" categories.

Motion Picture: The Descendants, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Nominees:
Moneyball, Columbia
Drive, Filmdistrict
The Artist, The Weinstein Company
Shame, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Focus Features
Hugo Paramount Pictures
War Horse DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
The Help DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
Midnight in Paris, Sony Pictures Classics

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive, Filmdistrict

Nominees:
Tate Taylor The Help DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
Alexander Payne The Descendants Fox Searchlight Pictures
Steven Spielberg War Horse DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
Michel Hazanavicius The Artist The Weinstein Company
Martin Scorsese Hugo Paramount Pictures
John Michael McDonagh The Guard Sony Pictures Classics
Tomas Alfredson Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Focus Features
Woody Allen Midnight in Paris Sony Pictures Classics
Steve McQueen Shame Fox Searchlight Pictures

Actress in a Motion Picture: Viola Davis for The Help; DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures

Nominees
Vera Farmiga Higher Ground Sony Pictures Classics
Michelle WIlliams My Week with Marilyn The Weinstein Company
Emily Watson Oranges and Sunshine Cohen Media Group
Charlize Theron Young Adult Paramount Pictures
Glenn Close Albert Nobbs Roadside Attractions
Viola Davis The Help DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
Olivia Colman Tyrannosaur Strand Releasing
Michelle Yeoh The Lady Cohen Media Group
Elizabeth Olsen Martha Marcy May Marlene Fox Searchlight Pictures
Meryl Streep The Iron Lady The Weinstein Company

Actor in a Motion Picture: Ryan Gosling for Drive, Filmdistrict

Nominees:
Leonardo DiCaprio J. Edgar Warner Bros.
Ryan Gosling Drive Filmdistrict
Michael Fassbender Shame Fox Searchlight Pictures
George Clooney The Descendants Fox Searchlight Pictures
Brendan Gleeson The Guard Sony Pictures Classics
Michael Shannon Take Shelter Sony Pictures Classics
Tom Hardy Warrior Lionsgate
Woody Harrelson Rampart Millennium Entertainment
Gary Oldman Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Focus Features
Brad Pitt Moneyball Columbia

Actress in a Supporting Role: Jessica Chastain for The Tree of Life, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Nominees:
Janet McTeer Albert Nobbs Roadside Attractions
Octavia Spencer The Help DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
Jessica Chastain The Tree of Life Fox Searchlight Pictures
Vanessa Redgrave Coriolanus The Weinstein Company
Rachel McAdams Midnight in Paris Sony Pictures Classics
Carey Mulligan Shame Fox Searchlight Pictures
Lisa Feret Mozart's Sister Music Box Films
Judy Greer The Descendants Fox Searchlight Pictures
Kate Winslet Carnage Sony Pictures Classics
Elle Fanning Super 8 Amblin, Paramount Pictures

Actor in a Supporting Role: Albert Brooks for Drive, Filmdistrict

Nominees:
Viggo Mortensen A Dangerous Method Sony Pictures Classics
Hugo Weaving Oranges and Sunshine Cohen Media Group
Kenneth Branagh My Week with Marilyn The Weinstein Company
Colin Farrell Horrible Bosses New Line Cinema, Warner Bros.
Andy Serkis Rise of the Planet of the Apes 20th Century Fox
Nick Nolte Warrior Lionsgate
Jonah Hill Moneyball Columbia
Christopher Plummer Beginners Sony Pictures Classics
Christoph Waltz Carnage Sony Pictures Classics

Foreign Film: Mysteries of Lisbon from Portugal, Music Box Films

Nominees:
Mexico - Miss Bala Fox International
Iran - A Separation Sony Pictures Classics
Belgium - The Kid with a Bike Sundance Selects
Hungary - The Turin Horse Cinema Guild
Argentina - Las Acacias
Japan - 13 Assassins Magnet Releasing
France - Mozart's Sister Music Box Films
Finland - Le Havre Janus Films
Russia - Faust

Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media: The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn; Amblin, Columbia, Paramount Pictures

Nominees:
Kung Fu Panda 2 DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Pictures
The Muppets Jim Henson Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
Puss in Boots DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Pictures
Rango ILM Animation, Paramount Pictures
Rio 20th Century Fox

Motion Picture, Documentary: Senna, Universal

Nominees:
Project Nim Roadside Attractions
The Interrupters Cinema Guild
American: The Bill Hicks Story Variance Films
My Perestroika International Film Circuit
Cave of Forgotten Dreams IFC Films
Under Fire: Journalists in Combat Mercury Media
One Lucky Elephant Own Documentaries
Pina Sundance Selects
Tabloid IFC Films

Screenplay: Original: Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Nominees:
John Michael McDonagh The Guard Sony Pictures Classics
Abi Morgan, Steve McQueen Shame Fox Searchlight Pictures
Rene Feret Mozart's Sister Music Box Films
Paddy Considine Tyrannosaur Strand Releasing
Michel Hazanavicius The Artist The Weinstein Company

Screenplay: Adapted: Alexander Payne, Jim Rash, Nat Faxon for The Descendants; Based On The Novel By Kaui Hart Hemmings, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Nominees:
From The Novel By Kathryn Stockett, Tate Taylor The Help DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
From The Book By Michael Morpurgo, Lee Hall, Richard Curtis War Horse DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
Based On The Story By George Moore, Glenn Close, John Banville, The Play By Gabriella Prekop Albert Nobbs Roadside Attractions
Adapted From The Work Of Herge, Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Steven Moffat The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn Amblin, Columbia, Paramount Pictures
Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, Story By Stan Chervin Moneyball Columbia

Original Score: Marco Beltrami for Soul Surfer, Tristar Pictures

Nominees:
Michael Giacchino Super 8 Amblin, Paramount Pictures
Cliff Martinez Drive Filmdistrict
Alexandre Desplat Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 Warner Bros.
John Williams War Horse DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
James Newton Howard Water For Elephants 20th Century Fox

Original Song: Lay Your Head Down from Albert Nobbs

Nominees:
Man Or Muppet The Muppets
Gathering Stories We Bought A Zoo
Hello Hello Gnomeo & Juliet
Life Is A Happy Song The Muppets
Bridge Of Light Happy Feet 2

Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski for War Horse, DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures

Nominees:
Bruno Delbonnel Faust
Emmanuel Lubezki The Tree of Life Fox Searchlight Pictures
Newton Thomas Sigel Drive Filmdistrict
Guillaume Schiffman The Artist The Weinstein Company
Robert Richardson Hugo Paramount Pictures

Visual Effects: Robert Legato for Hugo, Paramount Pictures

Nominees:
John Frazier, Matthew Butler, Scott Benza, Scott Farrar Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Pictures
Dennis Muren, Kim Libreri, Paul Kavanagh, Russell Earl Super 8 Amblin, Paramount Pictures
David Vickery, Greg Butler, John Richardson, Tim Burke Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 Warner Bros.
Ben Morris War Horse DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
Jeff Capogreco, Joe Letteri, R. Christopher White Rise of the Planet of the Apes 20th Century Fox

Film Editing: Chris Gill for The Guard, Sony Pictures Classics

Nominees:
Michael Kahn War Horse DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
Mat Newman Drive Filmdistrict
Joe Walker Shame Fox Searchlight Pictures
Kevin Tent The Descendants Fox Searchlight Pictures
Aaron Marshall, John Gilroy, Matt Chesse, Sean Albertson Warrior Lionsgate

Sound (Editing & Mixing): Dave Patterson, Lon Bender, Robert Fernandez, Victor Ray Ennis for Drive, Filmdistrict

Nominees:
Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer, Ben Burtt, Mark Ulano, Matthew Wood, Tom Johnson Super 8 Amblin, Paramount Pictures
Christopher Scarabosio, Craig Berkey, Erik Aadahl, Jeremy Peirson, John Pritchett, Kirk Francis The Tree of Life Fox Searchlight Pictures
Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, Richard Hymns, Stuart Wilson, Tom Johnson War Horse DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
Erik Aadahl, Ethan Van Der Ryn, Gary Summers, Greg P. Russell, Jeffrey J. Haboush, Peter J. Devlin Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Pictures
Adam Scrivener, James Mather, Mike Dowson, Stuart Hilliker, Stuart Wilson Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 Warner Bros.

Art Direction and Production Design Gregory S. Hooper, Laurence Bennett for The Artist, The Weinstein Company

Nominees:
Jack Fisk Water For Elephants 20th Century Fox
Sebastian T. Krawinkel, Stephan O. Gessler Anonymous Sony Pictures Classics
Isabel Branco Mysteries of Lisbon Music Box Films
Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo Hugo Paramount Pictures
Jiri Trier, Yelena Zhukova Faust

Costume Design: Jacqueline West for Water For Elephants, 20th Century Fox

Nominees:
Lisy Christl Anonymous Sony Pictures Classics
Isabel Branco Mysteries of Lisbon Music Box Films
Michael O’Connor Jane Eyre Focus Features
Mark Bridges The Artist The Weinstein Company
Lidiya Kryukova Faust

New Media:
Best Extra Features: Star Wars: The Complete Saga, 20th Century Fox

Youth Release:
The Lion King: Two-Disc Diamond Edition, Walt Disney Pictures

Classic Release
West Side Story: 50th Anniversary Edition, 20th Century Fox

Best Overall Blu-Ray Disc:
Three Colors: Blue, White, Red, Criterion

Special Achievement
Best First Feature: Paddy Considine Tyrannosaur Strand Releasing

Best Ensemble: The Help, DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Tad Bit Too Much Tom Cruise in "Mission: Impossible III"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 96 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux


Mission: Impossible III (2006)
Running time: 126 minutes (2 hours, 6 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of frenetic violence and menace, disturbing images, and brief sensuality
DIRECTOR: J.J. Abrams
WRITERS: Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and J.J. Abrams (based upon the television series created by Bruce Geller)
PRODUCERS: Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dan Mindel
EDITORS: Mary Jo Markey A.C.E. and Maryann Brandon A.C.E.

ACTION/ADVENTURE/SPY/THRILLER

Starring: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Keri Russell, Maggie Q, Simon Pegg, and Laurence Fishburne

Super spy/secret agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has retired from active duty with the Impossible Mission Force and now trains new IMF agents. When one of them, Ethan’s star pupil Lindsey Ferris (Keri Russell), turns up missing, Ethan rejoins his crack IMF team: his old friend and super computer expert, Luther Strickell (Ving Rhames); transportation expert, Declan (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers); and background operative, Zhen (Maggie Q) to rescue her. However, Hunt and his team run into their toughest opponent yet, Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an international weapons and information provider with no remorse and no conscience. Ethan later finds himself in the clutches of Davian’s employ when he kidnaps Julia (Michelle Monaghan), the love of Ethan’s life. Ethan must retrieve something called “the rabbit’s foot” for Davian if he is to save Julia from the ruthless villain.

The long-awaited Mission: Impossible III has the action movie chops to match the hype that lead up to its release. It’s full of high-octane action sequences that are more thrilling than they are over the top. MI3 is like the first film in the franchise, Mission: Impossible – an espionage thriller with intense thrills – more than it is like the second film, Mission: Impossible II, which was part secret agent adventure and part Hong Kong shoot ‘em up highball. In terms of action thrills, MI3 stands up with such classic 1990’s action flicks as Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the Die Hard sequels, the Pierce Brosnan James Bond movies, The Rock, Con Air, and Face/Off. Those movies were pure action pictures with heart stopping chases, riveting thrill rides, and die-hard heroes.

Mission: Impossible III is virtually a non-stop thrill ride, and much of the credit has to go to the imaginations of co-writer/director J.J. Abrams (co-creator of the TV series “Lost”) and the screenwriting team of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci for coming up with the thrills. Kurtzman and Orci have collaborated with Abrams on his hit TV series, “Alias,” and MI3 resembles Alias’ smart thrills. Abrams, directing his first feature film, doesn’t stumble in his transition from the small screen to the big screen. MI3 is definitely a movie monster, the kind of wide-open adventure film that needs to be seen in theatres.

The flaw that does keep Mission: Impossible III from being a truly great film is that the movie focuses too much on Tom Cruise. Sure, he’s the star, but what is the point of having an actor with the chops of Philip Seymour Hoffman if all he’s going to do in the film is make threats, scowl, and generally look like a meanie. The press materials for MI3 say that Hoffman’s Owen Davian is supposed to be some remorseless bad ass, but we hardly get to see Hoffman really chew up the screen as a villain. Anyone who saw him in Capote, and wondered what he would be like if he played a major screen bad guy will leave MI3 wondering what could have been.

Even Ving Rhames’ Luther Strickell is just window dressing. The character got off to a great start in the first film, and although Rhames part is bigger here than it was in the second film, his potential hasn’t been scratched. The women especially are wasted. Michelle Monaghan and Maggie Q seem so underutilized, but so is everyone else. Only Laurence Fishburne in a small part gets to tear up some screen.

No, it’s all Cruise, just about all the time, and he’s pretty good. Mission: Impossible is his signature action franchise, and he can mine it for a long time. However, the films would be so much richer if Impossible Mission Force was really a team and not just Cruise and some other guys – pawns to be moved about in positions that simply maximize Cruise’s Ethan Hunt in his role of the secret agent as super hero. Still, Mission: Impossible III is more than worth the price of admission for those who remember when action movies were gritty, edge-of-your-seat thrill rides and not just a series of over the top stunts generated in a computer.

7 of 10
B+

Monday, May 8, 2006