Saturday, December 29, 2007

Oscar Predictions: End of December

Best Picture
Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men*
There Will be Blood

Best Director
Atonement - Joe Wright
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - Sydney Lumet
Into the Wild - Sean Penn
No Country for Old Men - Joel and Ethan Coen*
There Will be Blood - Paul Thomas Anderson

Best Actor in a Leading Role
George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will be Blood*
Ryan Gosling - Lars and the Real Girl
Emile Hirsch - Into the Wild
Viggo Mortenson - Eastern Promises

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie - Away From Her
Marion Cotillard - La Vie En Rose
Angelina Jolie - A Mighty Heart
Ellen Page - Juno*

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Cassey Affleck - Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men*
Philip Seymor Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There*
Ruby Dee - American Gangster
Catherine Keener - Into the Wild
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton

Best Original Screenplay
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Lars and the Real Girl
Michael Clayton
The Savages

Best Adapted Screenplay
Gone Baby Gone
Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men*
There Will be Blood

Best Animated Feature
The Simpsons Movie

Best Foreign Feature
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
Days of Darkness
The Orphanage

Best Cinematography
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford*
Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood

Best Editing
American Gangster
Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men*
Sweeny Todd

Best Special Effects
The Golden Compass
Pirates of the Caribbean: At the World's End

Achievment in Makeup
Elizebeth: The Golden Age
Pirates of the Caribbean: At the World's End
Sweeny Todd*

Best Original Song
Into the Wild
Walk Hard

Nashville by Robert Altman

Robert Altman has made more incredible films than almost any other American director. Nashville is quite possibly the best of those films, but more importantly it shows all of Robert Altman's styles in one besutifully crafted dramatic-comedy-musical about folk and country stars who are all in Nashville for a music festival during the campaign of a non-politician running for president. Keith Carradine probably leads the ensemble of 22 and steals the show with his Oscar winning song "I'm Easy." This is a perfect piece of Americana from the most American of all directors the Master, Robert Altman

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Unforgiven by Clint Eastwood

Unforgiven is not only the film that brought Clint Eastwood the director to the forefront of American cinema, and its not just a Best Picture winner. The film is a genuine masterpiece for the ages and the perfect western...the best ever made. Though there are plenty of westerns that have been made since: Unforgiven is a beautiful requiem for the western genre.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Coming Soon...

Top 10 of 2007 and Second Round Oscar Predictions

Eastern Promises - Review

David Cronenberg strikes gold for the second feature in a row. Easter Promises is the follow up to A History of Violence (2005) and Viggo Mortenson could not have been better. Naomi Watts adds the right amount of class and beauty to a gritty ugly film. As Naomi Watts closes in on one of the Russian mob's dirty little secrets things get messy for everybody, with slashed throats to quench the deepest blood lusts. Eastern Promises is one of the best films of the year


Friday, December 21, 2007

Three Colors Triology (Blue, White, Red) by Krzysztof Kieslowski

Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy is the pinacle of beauty within the art of cinematography. The stories are beautiful but the photography is to such a heightened point (especially in Blue and Red) that the lovely stories take a back seat to the look. Much is made of the colors being the colors of the French Tricolour flag. The colors could also be attatched to the genres of the films: Blue sits on the verge of tragedy; White is near-comedy; and, Red (probably be best mix of story and look) is nearly a romance. Kieslowski's work is masterful and demands to be seen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Goodfellas by Martin Scorsese

Goodfellas is the most accesable of Martin Scorsese's masterpieces. It is well-acted, it is dark but it is still humorous (think of The Departed but with Joe Pesci instead of Mark Whalberg). This picture moves with frantic pacing that doesn't let up for its entire 145-minute run-time. Ray Liotta plays Henry Hill a man that we can't seem to feel sorry for though we feel his pain every step of the way whereas Robert De Niro is a crook and Pesci is just a sociopath. Martin Scorsese paints a picture of a sad life where nothing is off limits but nothing is right. It also reigns as the only gangster picture made about the every day life of the Wise Guys (Goodfellas or Foot Soliders).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Schindler's List by Steven Spielberg

Liam Neeson's performance as Oskar Schindler is one of the most subtly heartwrenching performances of the 1990's. In Spielberg's masterpiece about the Jewish Halocaust Neeson goes from a cold hearted businessman into a man who just wished that he could've done more for the course. Schindler's List shot in the sharpest black and white film with a couple shots of color. The film is one of the most heartbreaking films ever made and it truly puts those tragic events into a historical scope. Steven Spielberg tried to give it to three directors before Roman Polanski eventually told him to helm the project himself, and the project couldn't have been in better hands.

10 Essential Teen Comedy Moments in Honor of Jason Reitman's Upcoming Juno

10. Confessions - Breakfast Club
9. "Twist and Shout!" - Ferris Bueller's Day Off
8. Molly Ringwald's Birthday Cake - Sixteen Candles
7. Julia Styles Hate Speech - 10 Things I Hate About You
6. "Don't You Forget about Me" montage - Breakfast Club
5. "Shout!" Otis Day and the Knights - Animal House
4. Jonah Hill and Michael Cera Sleeping Bags - Superbad
3. Panties in the bathroom - Sixteen Candles
2. Ferris Bueller's Opening Monolouge - Ferris Bueller's Day Off
1. "In Your Eyes" John Cusack's Boombox - Say Anything

Raging Bull by Martin Scorsese

In Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980) Robert De Niro plays Jake LaMatta in what is one of the 10 best performances of all time. In the picture De Niro does an impression of Marlon Brando's famous speech in On the Waterfront (1954). Raging Bull follows the story of Jake LaMatta, Middle Weight Champion back in the 1950's who has become famous for never being knocked down, this is Martin Scorsese's masterpiece and it is a film that must be appriciated even if its not loved. What Scorsese does inside the ring is remarkable as he shifts the size of the ring, the sounds, the fog, the lighting depending on what LaMatta is seeing or feeling, and only once in the picture do we see a fight from outside of the ring. Scorsese's Bull is the greatest film of the 80's, its the greatest feat from one of the true masters of cinema, its the greatest sports film ever made and Robert De Niro's finest moment as an actor.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly by Sergio Leone

Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is one of those films that is technically a "genre" film but seems to transcend genre to create something iconic for generations. Clint Eastwood stars in the final installment of the "No Name Trilogy" that made Eastwood and Leone both icons of the Spaghetti Western. The film relies on visual stimulation much more than verbal, in fact, there is not a word spoken for the first 15 minutes of the film - not quite the 25 minutes of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey that same year, but impressive none-the-less. This may not be the best Western, or the best Leone film, or Eastwood's best...but there is something about it that goes out in front of time, space, good and bad and proves that the second or third best in several categories eventually allows you to catch up in total score. And, for better or for worse Sergio Leone's picture is truly a tale of the good, the bad and the ugly. AND it innovated the, now Western cliche, Mexican Standoff.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Hard Day's Night by Richard Lester

A Hard Day's Night stars that Beatles, but more importantly it stars the energy that they supplied to the world of Rock 'n' Roll for a decade. The picture was made in 1964, the year that The Beatle's made their first shift with the masterpiece Rubber Soul. After this year we would wittness the greatness of their music rise as the innocence of the band and the nation declined rapidly. In his book The Great Movies Roger Ebert states: The innocence of the Beatles and ``A Hard Day's Night'' was of course not to last. Ahead was the crushing pressure of being the most popular musical group of all time, and the dalliance with the mystic east, and the breakup, and the druggy fallout from the '60s, and the death of John Lennon. The Beatles would go through a long summer, a disillusioned fall, a tragic winter. But, oh, what a lovely springtime. And it's all in a movie.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Milos Foreman

In 1975, Sweedish filmmaker Milos Foreman made an American masterpiece called One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The film stars Jack Nichalson in one of his greatest and most memoriable roles, as R.P. McMurphy, a Christ figure with an attitude. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay one of only three (It Happened one Night and Silence of te Lambs) to win all five of the "top" Oscars. Cuckoo's Nest is bitingly funny and heartwrenching. Milos Foreman was able to use this as a launch pad for other classics such as Oscar-winnging Amadeus, The People vs Larry Flynt and Man on the Moon (among others). One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a film near the top of every great movies list ever made and is truly one of gems of America's cinematic awakening of the 1970's where we spend a lot of time on here on this list.

The Golden Compass

In the tradition of the great fantasy epics of the past (Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia) Philip Pullman wrote his own work in retaliation to Lewis' Chronicles called His Dark Materials. The first novel in Pullman's trilogy was recentally adapted into a film by Chris Weitz called The Golden Compass. The film has been subject to much criticism from the church as the trilogy was intended to be an alegory for atheism and being targeted toward kids. In the end, the film is very fun to watch and rather challenging to think about the allegory. The film may be scary if watched by children (as recomended by the PG-13 rating) but it is enjoyable for older kids and for adults. Be sure to watch out for this film in the technical awards nominations come Oscar time.

*** 1/2

Saturday, December 8, 2007

20 Favorite Films

Short write up on each film coming soon. Also coming soon: Top 10 of 2007!

20. Milos Foreman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
19. Richard Lester's A Hard Days Night (1964)
18. Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1968)
17. Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980)
16. Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993)
15. Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas (1990)
14. Kryzsztof Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy (1993/1994)
13. Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven (1992)
12. Robert Altman's Nashville (1975)
11. The Coen Brother's Fargo (1996)
10. Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976)
9. Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941)
8. Clint Eastwood's Mystic River (2003)
7. Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
6. Michael Curtiz' Casablanca (1942)
5. Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather pt. II (1974)
4. Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
3. Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan (1998)
2. Frank Darabont's Shawshank Redemption (1994)
1. Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

'Tis the Season

Scripture 210 Top 10 Holiday movies (in no order for any)

Josh White
1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
2. Frosty the Snowman
3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon)
4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (live action)
5. Christmas Vacation
6. 8 Crazy Nights
7. It's a Wonderful Life
8. Elf
9. The Muppet's Christmas Carol
10. Christmas Story

Chris DeVries
1. Charlie Brown Christmas Special
2. Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin
3. Nightmare Before Christmas
4. Christmas Story
5. Christmas Vacation
6. Its Thanksgiving Charlie Brown
7. Groundhogs Day
8. Jingle All the Way
9. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon)
10. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Travis Matteson
1. It's a Wonderful Life
2. Charlie Brown Christmas Special
3. White Christmas
4. Holiday Inn
5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon)
6. The Muppet's Christmas Carol
7. A Garfeild Christmas (TV Special)
8. Christmas Vacation
9. Mickey's Christmas Carol
10. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Aaron White
1. It's a Wonderful Life
2. Christmas Story
3. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
4. The Muppet's Christmas Carol
5. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
6. Christmas Vacation
7. Polar Express
8. Charlie Brown Christmas Special
9. Love Actually
10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Oscar Nominations and Winner Predictions

Best Picture
Gone Baby Gone
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood

Best Director
American Gangster - Ridley Scott
Atonement - Joe Wright
Gone Baby Gone - Ben Afleck
No Country for Old Men - Joel and Ethan Coen
There Will be Blood - Paul Thomas Anderson

Best Actor
John Cusack-Grace is Gone
Daniel Day-Lewis- There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp-Sweeney Todd
James McAvoy- Atonement
Denzel Washington-American Gangster

Best Actress
Amy Adams- Enchanted
Marion Cotillard- La Vie en Rose
Keira Knightley - Atonement
Laura Linney- The Savages
Ellen Page-Juno

Best Supporting Actor
Casey Afleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
Paul Dano - There Will be Blood
Philip Seymor Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There
Romola Garai - Atonement
Jennifer Jason Leigh - Margot at the Wedding
Saoirse Ronan - Atonement

Original Screenplay
I'm Not There
Michael Clayton

Adapted Screenplay
Charlie Wilson's War
Gone Baby Gone
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood

Best Cinematography
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood

Sunday, November 25, 2007

No Country for Old Men

The Coen's new film, No Country for Old Men, opens in the vast open landscapes of the Texas-Mexico boarder. The stark photography proves perfect to show a landscape so vast and dry. The land looks the same as Tommy Lee Jones' voice sounds in the pitch perfect opening monolouge.
After the monlouge the film is off and running. We immidelty meet Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) who is the best villian in recent film history. He dispatches people easier than most of us put on our pants. The film follows Chigurh as he chases Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) and as Sherrif Ed Tom Bell (Jones) chases him.
I will refrain from giving away any of the plot as to avoid from giving anything away or building un-needed suspense as Joel and Ethan Coen build plenty of legitament suspense on their own. Through the month of November No Country for Old Men is the best film of the year, and with the way that this modern masterpiece played I have little doubt that it won't hold this position come January 1st. If this picture is playing in your area and you have a shot, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to the best film of the year