Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Wrestler - Darren Aronofsky

Darren Aronofsky is far and away one of the greatest directors of the young American wave. In 1998 he took a guerrilla crew through New York City and took the Independent film world by storm with his directorial debut, Pi, a Sci-fi thriller about...math. His follow up was nothing short of a genuine masterpiece. Requiem for a Dream showed a skill for the technical side of film making that is truly first class, and he had the vision of a born story teller. Well, Aronofsky is back ten years after his debut with his fourth feature, The Wrestler, this is the kind of film that comes along only a couple of times a year.

Although it is guised as a wrestling film, it is only such as much as Scorsese's Raging Bull or Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby were boxing films. There is plenty of in the ring action going on here, to be sure, but it is not Rocky VII; because, unlike the Rocky franchise (which I mean starting with Rocky II) the heart of this film is not found in the ring, but outside. Wrestling is what Randy "The Ram" Robinson does, and in many ways, it is who he is; it does not, however, define his entirety.

Randy has an estranged daughter, beautifully portrayed by the angelic Evan Rachel Woods, and a stripper would-be girlfriend played masterfully by Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei. The drama of the film revolves around Randy's incapability of being an everyday, normal human being. Coupled with an ailment that may not allow him to wrestle forever.

The Wrestler may very well be the best film of 2008, and Mickey Rourke's performance is one of the best of the decade. It is nothing short of a force of nature. He may not win an Oscar for the role, though he should; but, he will undoubtedly be nominated for it. And, I hope that he wins.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Some of the best of 2008

Today, I went with a friend of mine for a good old fashioned home made double feature. We went down expecting to see some good movies and have a good time, when we left the second movie we both realized that we had seen two of the best movies that this year had to offer.

The first film was David Fincher's Coming (and Going)-of-Age Tale, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the film is beautifully woven together by Fincher, who is quickly becoming a Grade-A director. On top of that the cast is pitch perfect from Brad Pitt to Cate Blanchett to the find of the year, Taraji P. Henson. There is only one flaw in the film, but if you see the film you will recognize it yourself. I didn't find it to be a true detractor, just a slight distraction.

The second film, Frost/Nixon, tells the story of the David Frost interviews with Richard Nixon. The film plays slightly more like boxing film than a political thriller, but it works. Ron Howard's direction is slight and down played perfectly for the David versus Goliath story he was weaving. And, speaking of Goliath, Frank Langella's powerhouse performance as the 37th President of the United States was nothing short of the giant's stature.

These two films are two of the best films released this year, and I had a ball watching both of them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Screen Actors Guild Nominations

Best Leading Actor
Richard Jenkins - The Visitor
Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn - Milk
Brad Pitt - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler

Best Leading Actress
Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie - The Changeling
Melissa Leo - Frozen River
Meryl Streep - Doubt
Kate Winslet - Revolutionary Road

Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin - Milk
Robert Downy, Jr. - Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
Dev Patel - Slumdog Millionaire

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams - Doubt
Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis - Doubt
Taraji P. Henson - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Kate Winslet - The Reader

Best Cast in a Motion Picture
Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Top 10 Favorite English Speaking Actors

*no order*

1. Marlon Brando
2. James 'Jimmy' Stewart
3. Robert de Niro
4. Jack Nicholson
5. Cary Grant
6. Phillip Seymour Hoffman
7. Daniel Day-Lewis
8. Tom Hanks
9. Al Pacino
10. Paul Newman

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The National Board of Review has spoken and the first lock for Best Picture is...

Best Picture
Slumdog Millionaire

Top 10 Films(Alphabetical)
Burn After Reading
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Gran Torino
The Wrestler

Best Actor
Clint Eastwood - Gran Torino

Best Actress
Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married

Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin - Milk

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz - Vicky Christina Barcelona

Best Ensemble Cast

Best Director
David Fincher - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Best Adapted Screenplay
Slumdog Millionaire and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Best Original Screenplay
Gran Torino

Best Animated Feature

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Godspell by David Greene (1973)

What an endearing little musical this is. More simple than most Jesus movies and more sound than Jesus Christ Superstar. Godspell takes the Biblical book of Matthew and puts it in the context of 1970's New York. Somewhere between a normal Jesus movie, Hippies and The Lost Boys (of Peter Pan fame, not the vampires of the 1980's Corey's) mixed in with some of the best movie musical music I've heard in a long time.

For fans of movie musicals this is right near the top of the list. It is about the life of Jesus, but it treats his teachings as teachings not as commands and merely suggests that maybe this is a better way to go. For fans of theological and Jesus movies, its near the top of this list as well. It is very articulate in its discussion of Jesus and a lot of the dialogue comes straight from The Gospel of Matthew.

Well worth the watch, and if you can't find it in the local video store it is available in parts on YouTube.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Peeping Tom by Michael Powell

Michael Powell's Peeping Tom is one of the most troubling and beautiful films I have ever seen in my life. For those who've not seen it - its a story of a young man who murders women while photographing them for reasons unrevealed here. I would recommend the picture for anyone who can handle a well-crafted film that is disturbing. While talking about the art of film direction Martin Scorsese said that "there are two films that a person needs to watch to understand directing. Fellini's 8 1/2 and Powell's Peeping Tom because it really shows how you must be willing to alter a person's will to the artistic vision."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back to the Future

Sometimes in the midst of being a movie snob we forget the things that made us love the medium in the first place. The Back to the Future Trilogy was one of the first DVDs I bought when my family got our first DVD player. I had seen the movies when I was a kid and I loved them. That never really changed, but I watched them so many times that when I watched them I would quote or even preempt a character's statement with the statement myself. I couldn't get a soul to watch the movies (especially the first one) with me. It was time to put the trilogy on the shelf for a while.

Last week, I decided it was time to take it back off the shelf and give her another watch. It had been a while and my taste in movies isn't as "80's teen comedy" as it was at one point. I must admit, however, that Back to the Future still made me laugh and smile with the joy that it did four and a half years ago.

So what? What does this have to do with any of you? I suggest that you go out and watch a movie that you used to love and that you stopped watching for a while for any number of reasons. Does it still have the mystique? Does it bring you the same joy? Why or why not? Its the same movie after all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Robert Altman: 1925 - 2006

I know that I have been a little preoccupied on one person as of late. He died two years ago on Thursday. I cannot avoid the tributes on Roger Ebert's page. The man made some of the finest American Films of the 1970s rendering them some of the finest American films ever made - period. Rest in Peace Mr. Altman and thanks for the wonderful films - and DVD commentaries.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Election's Over...and the Legend of the Maverick Lives on

This man ran for the highest office in the United States of America. His platform? Well...He's a Maverick. Or, at least that's what we're told. In any case, I think that John McCain is a true American hero, I think he has done wonderful things as a senator for the nation that he loves, but I think its good that the nation chose to go in a different direction.

Anyway, I know what you are all thinking. Aaron done and lost his mind because this here is a movie blog. Well, give me a moment I needed to give you the set up to what is on my mind before I go and drop some thoughts on you.

The thing is that the John McCain campaign did one thing incredibly inspired me to think on all things "Maverick". That's right all this talk about "Maverick" of course lead to way too many bad jokes about Tony Scott's 2986 film, Top Gun, but more than that it made me miss the true American Maverick: Robert Altman.

Mr. Altman has been gone from us for nearly two years now and there is not a week that passes that I don't at least allow myself to stop and reflect on at least one of this master's major pieces of art. Robert Altman made his best films in the 1970's, as did most American filmmakers, but he did not stop there. In the 1980's, regarded as his lost decade, he brought us the revisionist memoirs of Richard M. Nixon in the powerhouse, one man show, known as Secret Honor. He did not stop there, though, he came back as good as ever in the 1990's with the back-to-back masterpieces The Player and Short Cuts. He then left us with a bang, his last two films were as good as anything he had delivered up until that point: Gosford Park, which was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at the Academy Awards (they were his 6th and 7th nominations) and A Prairie Home Companion, a wonderful ensemble piece about the world of variety radio that hearkened back to his 1975 film, Nashville.
Robert Altman, as mentioned before, was nominated for seven Academy Awards. He never won an Oscar in competition, though it 2006 he received an honorary Lifetime achievement award for always breaking the mold and pushing the medium to new and better heights.
Robert Altman made a ton of movies, many good ones, a few great ones and two perfect films, Nashville and McCabe & Mrs. Miller. This post reflects some of that sentiment though not all of it. Robert Altman was a great American filmmaker that lived up to his title of Maverick and never made a film just because someone else wanted him to. More than a great filmmaker and a maverick of his form, he was a great artist and visionary of his period. He may not be the greatest artist in American film, but he is one of the most important because he finished the handbook on American Independent Film making that John Cassavetes started.
So, on this last evening before Veterans Day we salute a veteran of two kinds. The war heroes represented by Arizona Senator, John McCain; and, the fallen artists represented by Robert Altman.
R.I.P. Robert Altman: 1925-2006

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Top 10 Silent Films

1. The Fall of the House of Usher by James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber
2. City Lights by Charlie Chaplin
3. The General by Buster Keaton
4. Nosferatu by F.W. Murnau
5. The Passion of Joan of Arc by Carl Dreyer
6. Battleship Potemkin by Sergei Eisenstien
7. Broken Blossoms by D.W. Griffith
8. Modern Times by Charlie Chaplin
9. Un Chien Andalou
10. Birth of a Nation by D.W. Griffith

Friday, October 31, 2008

Top 10 American Movies (Prior to 2000)

1. The Godfather Trilogy by Francis Ford Coppola
2. The Shawshank Redemption by Frank Darabont
3. Saving Private Ryan by Steven Spielberg
4. Casablanca by Michael Curtiz
5. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb by Stanley Kubrick
6. Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese
7. Citizen Kane by Orson Welles
8. Nashville by Robert Altman
9. Unforgiven by Clint Eastwood
10. Raging Bull by Martin Scorsese
Honorable Mention: McCabe & Mrs. Miller (anything else by Altman in the 1970s); Goodfellas; The Best Years of Our Lives; 2001: A Space Odyssey; Rear Window

Monday, October 27, 2008

More Absurd Lists - Top 10 Foreign Films (Prior to 1990)

Still no order*

1. Cries and Whispers by Ingmar Bergman

2. Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa

3. Breathless by Jean-Luc Godard

4. Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders

5. Fanny and Alexander by Ingmar Bergman

6. Battle of Algiers by Gillo Pontecorvo

7. Band of Outsiders by Jean-Luc Godard

8. Persona by Ingmar Bergman

9. Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa

10. 400 Blows by François Truffaut

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Top 10 Foreign Films since 1990

1. Pan's Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro (2006)

2. Three Colors Trilogy by Krzysztof Kieslowski (1993-1994)

3. Tsotsi by Gavin Hood (2005)

4. The Double Life of Veronique by Krzysztof Kieslowski (1991)

5. Amores Perros by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (2000)

6. Joyeux Noel by Christian Carion (2005)

7. Y Tu Mama Tambien by Alfonso Cuaron (2001)

8. Life is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni (1998)

9. Curse of the Golden Flower by Yimou Zhang (2006)

10. The Orphanage by Juan Antonio Bayona (2007)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Top 10 Directors Over 60

This is the second list in a series of randomly ordered top 10 movie lists

1. Martin Scorsese
2. Ingmar Bergman
3. Akira Kurosawa
4. Alfred Hitchcock
5. Stanley Kubrick
6. Robert Altman
7. Krzysztof Kieslowski
8. Terrence Malick
9. Werner Herzog
10. Jean-Luc Godard

Honorable Mention - François Truffaut, Clint Eastwood, Charles Chaplin, Orson Welles, Howard Hawks

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Weekend of French Tragedy

Above is one of the most famous images from François Truffaut's Jules and Jim if not from the entire French New-Wave. The film was just one of two films that I watched this weekend with tragic results, the other being the equally beautiful and tragic Contempt by fellow Frenchman, Jean-Luc Godard, which is about the process of making a film, though not in the same way that Fellini's 8 1/2 or Truffaut's Day for Night is about the making of motion pictures.

Godard has a much more subversive goal in his film. He tells the story of a love triangle that develops between the writer and his wife, along with the producer of the film. Much in the same way that Jules and Jim has the two titled men pining after Catherine. Despite the leauges of differences between the two films, at their core, in their essence are fairly similar.
Shot in a grandiose Cinemascope (which is what Kubrick shot his '68 masterpiece, 2001 in) and some of the most breathtaking technicolor ever put on film Godard's film is simply breathtaking. At times the score outshines the film, in that it plays as a score for the film that the crew in the film (including Germany's great, Fritz Lang, as director) is making, rather than the film Godard is making.
On the flip side of this, Truffaut shot Jules in Jim in a playful, nearly hand-held, style black and white, much to the style of A Hard Day's Night would later be shot. In the midst of this, however, he interweaves pieces of film that look as if they could be pieces of old home movies or documentary footage as well.
The two films above are amongst the greatest films of the French New Wave, rendering them amongst the greatest films ever made. I would highly recomend these films to anyone who asked, and to anyone reading this.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ordet by Carl Theodor Dreyer

Feeble are the words that are about to come from this writer. It is that way because there are few words to describe Dreyer's 1955 film, Ordet, without sounding dumb unless you are made of stone. This is quite possibly the most important film about spirituality ever made and as I commented to my roommate last night is a stark and beautiful contrast that I could only describe as "Antibergman" but you will have to watch for yourself to see if you agree.

The film follows five main characters: A man, his three sons and the eldest son's wife. The five principles have differing levels of faith from "lost it long ago" all the way to claiming to be the person of Jesus of Nazareth to bring peace to the family through the hardships they will face soon.

How the film plays out is poetry on celluloid and I will endevour to say no more about the film in order to avoid spoiling it for anyone. If one has an interest in things spiritual, or just wants to see a fine film (the next to last film Dreyer directed) should look into viewing this film.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Top 10 Directors under 60

*NOTE* this list is not in any particular order, so sorry for the lack of organization.

1. Joel and Ethan Coen
2. Guillermo del Toro
3. Paul Thomas Anderson
4. Wes Anderson
5. Alfonso Cuarón
6. Sean Penn
7. Alejandro González Iñárritu
8. Jason Reitman
9. Michel Gondry
10. Darren Aronofski

Honorable Mention: Alexander Payne, Ang Lee, Sofia Coppola, Spike Jonze, George Clooney

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bergman and Melville?

This week I am awaiting for a Criterion Collection two-disc set of Jean-Pierre Melville's Army of Shadows a curiously poignant film from the director of Bob le Flambour and Le Samurai, but it is none-the-less one of the great pieces of war film that I have ever seen. It follows several members of the French resistance during the period of Nazi occupation in France and their trials and sacrafices.

In any case, what brings this post to fruition is that my roommate was watching my copy of Bergman's Shame last night and I found myself thinking about how beautifully these two very different films come together, despite their glaring differences to make companion pieces for one another of war and peace time thoughts and actions.

Again, these two films have little in common, but I believe that there is a linking between the two that is magnetic in nature. If you have seen both films and would like to add some more thoughts to this slim post, please share. If you think there are glaring mistakes in this post, please explain and if you think that there are some other films that could fit in with these films please let me know, because I am endlessly intrigued with war cinema and the actions and consequences that are shown so vividly in them.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I have been busier than I had expected to be and I apologize for the lack of posts.

Some of the movies I have watched lately:

Love in the Afternoon (one of Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales) which is a fantastic piece of film.

Samurai Rebellion which seems to show the viewer what would happen if Ozu and Kurosawa had a love-filmmaker, with a finale to die for.

Burn After Reading The Coen's latest comedy may be the brothers' best post-critical screwball comedy.

Son of Rambow wonderful indie comedy about a young lad from England and his coming of age tale.

The Counterfeiters The Austrian winner of the Best Foreign Language Oscar last year is a powerful story about an interesting concentration camp in WWII.

The Fall by Indian director Tarsem. Visual masterpiece.

Stay tuned for early Oscar coverage and some fall movie picks. The meatier pieces may have to wait until Christmas break.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

mi amour...My Love

How gorgeous this woman is, Ingrid Bergman not only is one of the 5 most beautiful (the most beautiful in my opinion) woman in the history of cinema; but, she is also one of the most under rated actresses of the 20th Century. Tonight I spent nearly six hours with Ingrid thanks to the wonderful Turner Classic Movies, and I am so glad that they made these pictures available to young people like myself and others who were not alive at the time of her death, mear years after her last film, Autumn Sonata, made by the other famous Bergman from Sweden, let alone the years when she was making the beautiful films that I watched tonight (Casablanca and an Alfred Hitchcock double feature, Notorious and Spellbound.)
So, in short, thank you Turner Classic Movies, thank you Alfred Hitchcock and thank you Ingrid for the beautiful films that you gave to us.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Changing of the seasons

As I leave the summer behind for the halls and studies of the school year I would like to say that my post will, in all likeliness, get closer together once the school year is here.

With that being said, I would also like any readers out there to know that starting this year I am thinking about doing some more "meaty" projects on this blog that will entail more than brief plot summaries and what I think of the overall affect of said film. I plan on doing a couple (between two and who knows how many) pieces on a subject that is very near and dear to my heart as a movie fan.

I do not wish to divulge all of what I am planning on doing, but I can tell you that the photographs in this blog will have a lot to do with some of these articles that I would like to write.

With that being said, I will leave you to enjoy the pictures and ask for any suggestions for ideas that I might write about, or movies that I should watch and write about in here. If there is any input at all, it will be greatly appreciated. I hope that this upcoming year will be a time of great films and great insights into them.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Top Trilogies - 1 - The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola

Was there any question? If you've not seen it, do. Sure there's a hick-up in the third installment named Sofia Coppola (an astounding director in her own right). The first two pictures, however, are perfect...perfect, and that leaves little room for any other saga to come into focus.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Top Trilogies - 2 - Trois Couleurs by Krysztof Kieslowski

In 1993 the Polish master, Krysztof Kieslowski, unleashed Trois Couleurs: Bleu on the world of cinema. With its unpeccable use of color and a moving performance by French beauty, Juliette Binoche, he told a story that was at once heart wrenching and heart warming. at the center of the film was the theme of liberty (represented by the color blue in the French tricolor) through loss.

A Year later he would release Blanc and Rouge both of which used the colors of the French tricolor to explore the themes of Equality and Franternity, respectfully. Both films, but especially Rouge staring Irene Jacob, uses lush cinematography rich in the color of the title to help set the emotional and visceral map for the trilogy.

These films are devestating, funny, maddening, and soothing simaltaniously, but more than anything these three films by Kieslowski are, in their very essence, beautiful. No more, no less. In saying that, however, I do not believe we have the right to ask for anything more.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hancock by Peter Berg

Peter Berg's Hancock begs a question that has really only been asked in one other superhero film, 2004's Spider-Man 2. What happens when the personal weight of being a super hero gets in the way of being a hero and makes you a super jerk.
The film is flawed, to be sure, and the last 20 minutes or so is a little clunky. However, this film is driven by the star and artist, Will Smith, and the way that he has sold John Hancock as a man with a lot of power and a lot of problems.
The film follows John Hancock as we watch him meet a publicist (Jason Bateman) and his family. John Hancock as do other persons have some secrets that we will not reveal here. The film is quite smooth for the most part and it is quite entertaining throughout.
Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Top Trilogies - Lord of the Rings by Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson's epic trilogy is one of the most stunning trilogies ever made. The epic nine hour (theatrical release, 12+ extended cuts) trilogy tells the tales of four hobbits, a dwarf, an elf and two men who take it upon themselves to destroy an ancient ring made by the evil Sorcerer, Sauron.

Of course, given the fact that the three films raked in $2,954,933,388 world-wide, you already knew that much. These films took a simple story about a small group of unlikey heroes who take it on their backs to save the world. Jackson, with the touch of a master shows this romantic tale initially penned by J.R.R. Tolkien based off of stories in the Bible and his own war expiriences in WWI.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Eagle Vs Shark by Taika Cohen

Eagle Vs Shark got lost in New Zealand half-way between an American and a British comedy. It has the biting wit of the great British comedies that the American comedies often lack but it added a tenderness to its romance that is often lost in the British films. The lead male is Jemaine Clement from the popular HBO series Flight of the Conchords and the leading lady's name is Loren Horsley, an awkwardly beautiful girl who also happened to write the story that sparked the screenplay and the film as a whole.

The film plays like an adult version of Napoleon Dynamite and is in its own way much more endearing because of its more mature nature.


Rated R for language, some sexuality, and brief animated violence

Wall-E by Andrew Stanton

There is little that I can say about Pixar Pictures latest film, Wall*E, that you haven't heard or seen for yourself by this point.
The film is an absolute masterpiece, and at this point in the year it stands as the best film released to this point. From its message to children to apprecriate what we have here in this planet and to take care of it to its wonderful homage to the late Stanley Kubrick's 1968 masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Wall*E is far more than a childish entertainment or a cartoon that can get to the soft side of a hardened adult. It is a tender film about taking care of our planet, it is a comedy about a cute robot and it is a romance story for the ages.
The first half hour has little to no dialouge and the film is all the better for it, the only dialouge in the opening sequence comes from a song from Hello, Dolly and from Fred Willard setting up most of the plot for the rest of the film through a left behind video. This is an animated feature for the ages and it may well be the first animated masterpiece since Disney released The Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King both in the early 1990's, long before most of Wall*E's watchers were even thought about, let alone born.
Rated G

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Top Trilogies - 4 - Robert De Niro Mob films by Martin Scorsese

In 1974 a young New Yorker released a film that would launch his career and, in many ways, define it. The film was partially autobiographical and it dealt with street crime at its very lowest level, the kids who ran packages and get in fist fights. The film, of course was called Mean Streets and the young filmmakers name was Martin Scorsese. Mean Streets has become a classic on its own rights and Scorsese has become one of the most acclaimed directors of this and any other era in film history. Mean Streets was only Scorsese's third full length feature and only his second film that he made after leaving film school, it follows the lives of two young men (Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro), they have it rough, they live in a crap-shoot town and as the name of the picture would indicate, its not a fun place to live, either.
Fast-forward 16 years and two Academy Award nominations later (two of his films were also nominated for Best Picture durning that span) a new film, which would revolutionize the crime film and take the critical world by storm was released. The film, Goodfellas, took a look at the mafia and organized crime from the ground floor. Not only was this not a romantic look at the top levels of the organizations like the Godfather films, it was examining the lives of foot soldiers who had not even "made their bones" yet. In the film Ray Liotta plays Henry Hill an Italian-American who was not able to come fully into the family because his orgins were not fully Scilian, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci (in an Oscar winning performance) Co-Star as two other wise guys or goodfellas just looking to make their way (and some cash) while making their way through the underworld.
In 1995 Scorsese released his third mafia film, Casino, in this picture he would look at how the mafia families of the East coast had sent some of their responsible but expendable men out to the desert to found the most notorious town in the nation, Las Vegas. The plot follows the mobs best numbers man (De Niro) who finds himself the hottest thing in Vegas and has married the hottest show girl in town (Sharon Stone) and running into all kinds of problems with his number two guy (Joe Pesci). This film, like the earlier Goodfellas is based on a true crime novel by Nicolas Pileggi.
*Note* It seems that there are many people who, because of the three films and his 2006 Oscar-winning film The Departed, have tried to say that all that Martin Scorsese could make are mafia pictures. The fact is, however, that these are only four of his 23 film cannon, and could just as easily be pegged as a man who only makes Biopics (Boxcar Bertha, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, Goodfellas, Kundun, and The Aviator). It is though unfair and foolish to try to peg someone as being a person who can only make one type of film when it is not the only kind of film they can make.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Top Trilogies - 5 - Star Wars by George Lucas (and Irvin Kershner)

Star Wars. The ultimate mark in Science Fiction Entertainment (which is not the same as Science Fiction as a whole). George Lucas wrote three wonderful stories in the mid-70s about a humanoid race living in a know the drill. If it weren't for Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars: A New Hope would probably be the most defining moment in Sci-Fi motion picture making.
In 1977 George Lucas set out to make an epic of the likes that had never been seen and the world has not been the same since.
Anyway, I know everyone and their brother...and sister has seen this trilogy and know why its on this list. If you don' it

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Player (1992) by Robert Altman

During the 1980's, master filmmaker and film pioneer, Robert Altman, all but fell off of the Hollywood map due to the studios and other business aspects of the industry that came into play that stopped the master from recreating his enormous success of the 1970's. In the early 90's, however, Altman came storming back with his 1992 film, The Player, a dramedy-meets film noir that only Altman could make.
The film stars a pre-Shawshank Tim Robbins as the studio exec. Griffin Mill. A young, slick smooth-talker that knows his way around the system. When he starts receiving death threats from an anonymous writer Griffin begins to fear for the worst. As the threats get more frequent he decides to take matters into his own hands.
From this point on the film takes twists and turns that I will avoid mentioning here, though most of them you can read on the back cover of the DVD case. The Robert Altman that made this film is the same one that made the 70's classics, M*A*S*H, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Nashville, 3 Women and A Long Goodbye, it is the same Robert Altman who would go on to make Short Cuts, Gosford Park and A Prairie Home Companion. He was lost in exile for nearly all of the 80's with the exception of the Phillip Baker Hall Tour De Force, Secret Honor and the surprisingly fun Popeye. The Player is a brilliantly crafted, fast-talking and brooding calling out of the way the Hollywood system destroys the artistic backbone of the motion picture.
Rated R for language, and for some sensuality

Monday, May 26, 2008

R.I.P. Sydney Pollack

Sydney Pollack, the Academy-Award winning director of Out of Africa, Tootsie, and They Shoot Horses Don't They. Died today of cancer, he was 73 years old. He also acted in such films as Tootsie, Eyes Wide Shut and this years Best Picture nominee, Michael Clayton.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Top Trilogies - 6 - Faith Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman

Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Winter Light (1962) and The Silence (1963) are seminal pieces in the Bergman cannon. These three pictures are small chamber dramas, each containing just a few locations and a couple characters. There is, however, something much more profound at the root of all of these titles. The theme at the center of these three small films is the frightening question of the silence of God during the hardest times of your life.

Set at the time of the release dates the films focus on the percieved silence of God during the upheaval of the cold war and the threat of nuclear holocaust. The power of these films can still be felt today by anyone who has ever had a struggle with faith of any sort.

Bergman is one of the greatest and prolific of all filmmakers to ever live. These films show him at his best and most disturbed.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Top Trilogies - 7 - Interweaving Human Tragedies by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Inarritu is part of the Mexican New Wave lead by himself along with his great friends and contemporaries Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron. Getting a later start than the other two the first film in his trilogy is Amores Perros (2000) which was a collection of interweaving stories that show loss and regret and love (the translation of the title means Love's a Bitch). This oft-overlooked picture was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar (though it lost to the Best Picture nominated Croutching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.)

In 2003 he came to America for his more than compelling 21 Grams; which, like Amores Perros, connects the stories through the tragedy of a car accident. In Grams, however, Inarritu adds some more twists and turns and even tells the story out of sequence using the car accident of a suburban family, the salvation of an ex-con (Benicio del Toro) and the heart problems of a Math Professor (Sean Penn) to connect to the wife and mother of the accident victims (Naomi Watts). While not nominated for any complete picture awards, 21 Grams was nominated for two acting oscars Del Toro in a supporting role and Watts in a leading role.

It was in 2006, however, that one of Inarritu's pictures took the film industry by storm. When he released Babel people saw what he was capable of. Taking some of the basic concepts and techniques that he brilliantly utialized in his first two films and translated them onto a global scale. This time instead of a single event connecting his characters he uses the international communication problem (language) as the problem connecting people. Yet, at the same time he uses one single transaction (which I will not reveal here) to connect people all around the world, that is the way this global economy works. Babel was nominated for seven Oscars including Best Picture, Director and two acting awards, though it only won one (Best Score).

With his three films Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has shown a master level skill for the technical and story-telling aspects of his films, as well as an uncanny skill of directing his actors. With the future of cinema in the hands of young men like Inarritu and the other two members of the New Mexican Cinema we have a bright and wonderful future to North American and International filmmaking for years to come.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Top Trilogies - 8 - Vietnam by Oliver Stone

Here is a trilogy that gets very little attention despite two Best Director wins, a Best Picture win and another nomination for Best Picture. The reason is that this is a thematic trilogy taking a different perspective on America's favorite war.

The first film, Platoon (1986), takes a look at war in and of itself. It doesn't support war, it isn't against war it just is, much in the same way that it was just there in Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. Stone just lets his camera move around the jungle with a kid (Charlie Sheen) who represents Stone in his experience, who is scared to die but ends up more cynical for living. Its a powerful film that shows the ins and outs of war and how it affects the innocence of the young men that we send over seas to fight them.

The second film, Born on the Fourth of July (1989), takes the war home. In the film a young man in a fit of patriotism signs up for the marines to go over to Vietnam and fight a war that he knows little about, just that America must win it. When he is over there his legs are blown off in an explosion. When he comes home he is a strong advocate for what America is doing over there until he sees the same things that everyone else was seeing. His anti-war stance slowly grows until he is involved with protests that find him at the 1968 Republican National Convention. This film, based on a true story, is one of the finest of Stone's films.

The final film of the trilogy, Heaven and Earth (1993), not only crosses the national line from America to Vietnam; but it also crosses the gender perspective from male to female. This story is about a young woman from Vietnam who is rapped and forced into slavery during the war until she marries an American soldier and finds new problems with materialism back in the States.

The three films, in fact, have little in common with each other. There are two very prominent things, however, that transcend all of them. The first is the obvious war in Vietnam during the 1960s and its effects on everyone involved. The second is the loss of innocence experienced. In Platoon he shows us the loss of emotional/mental innocence due to the actual atrocities of war. In Born on the Fourth of July we are shown the loss of innocence the nation as a whole experienced as it became disillusioned with the war and the body bags coming home. Finally, in Heaven and Earth, Stone shows us the emotional/physical innocence lost by a young woman forced into sexual situations that she should not have been in. All of these films are important in their own way, and Oliver Stone, despite some his ambitious flops of the late 90s and early 00s should be remembered as the great film maker that he is.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Top Trilogies - 9 - The Man With No Name by Sergio Leone

The next trilogy on the list is the definitive trilogy in the Western genre. Clint Eastwood brings to light one of the greatest characters in film history. Despite the fact that Leone is Italian, the films (Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and the epic The Good, The Bad and The Ugly) were all shot in Italy the trilogy, especially the final chapter has been brought into the cannon of American cult classics.
The first film in the trilogy is a direct remake of Kurosawa's Yujimbo, in fact Kurosawa made more money on the plagerism lawsuit than he did on the films box office run. The trilogy tracks a hero (with no name) through the American west during the Civil War and pre-Civil War years just trying to make money any way that he can.
The trilogy ends with the spectacular feat in Western filmmaking, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is one of the greatest films ever made. The end of the film is unforgetable and the way the suspense and action builds with little to no dialouge at times is impecable.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Trilogies - 10 - The Adventures of Indiana Jones by Steven Spielberg

I find it a tragedy that this wonderful set of films (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade) has to be so low down on the list, but there a couple of reasons for that. Mainly, I had to rush this out to the blog as to have it still be a trilogy and not a saga. Steven Spielberg's 1982 film Raiders of the Lost Ark is quite possibly the definitive picture in the Action/Adventure genre, if not the film that should be credited with its creation.

The first film in the now legendary trilogy created one of the most lovable characters ever presented on film, and while most of us will never be able to relate to Indy and his adventures that does not mean that we cannot identify with the fun and fear that he experiences along the way. Spielberg shows us that even Biblical history can be cool in the context of a man in a hat that he cannot loose and artifacts worth more money than any of us can possibly imagine.

The strongest film in the trilogy is easily the first, Raiders of the Lost Ark shows us the character and the theme music by John Williams. It is the most action packed and it has special effects that hold up to this day; but while Ark is the best The Last Crusade is a close second. In the final film (until later this summer) we get to see some of the things that made Indy who he was as well as get a good dosage of mythology involved in the legend of the Holy Grail. Temple of Doom is the weakest film in the trilogy as it is incredibly linear and when its not break neck it is slow paced and almost boring at points. This is not to say that Doom is a poor film, it is just the weakest branch of an incredibly entertaining series of films that will live on forever.

Top Trilogies

There will now be a list for you to come back by and look at from time to time and hopefully engage in conversation and debate about. Not all of the films are "great" not all of the trilogies are story based, they do not share characters and a story line, but rather themes and feelings. Some of these are not widely considered trilogies, but if watched it is understood that they can be placed together.

Hot Rod by Akiva Schaffer

There he is, our hero. Rod. He's not that bright, he's not that cool and he's not all that hot. Somehow everyone loves him. Rod is going to perform an incredibly dangerous stunt to raise $50,000 to give his Stepfather a heart transplant so that he after he is healthy he can "kick his ass" to earn the respect of the Stepfather that he loves so much. There's a half brother, he's the manager of "the crew" there is also some sidelined drama dealing with a pretty girl (Isla Fisher) who is dealing with her douche bag boyfriend.

So, the big question. Is it funny? I suppose that depends on your sense of humor, short answer: there are a couple of laughs. It is inconsistent at best, however, and never really gets off of the ground. Shortly after seeing the movie a friend asked me how I liked it. My answer was short and it is the same statement that I will leave you all with. It wasn't terrible.


Rated PG-13 for crude humor, language, some comic drug-related and violent content.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Kundun by Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese is one of the true masters of American Cinema in his 1997 film, Kundun, he leaves his comfortable New York setting in favor of Tibet and the turmoil of the 1930s and 40s that was felt between China and Tibet. The picture is not one of his "top tier" pictures, but it is incredibly moving and spiritual in a way that Scorsese does not tend to make. Kundun, is, of course, the name of the first Buddha of Compassion who, legend says, has been reincarnated 14 times and is now known as the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan political and spiritual leader, who is currently living in exile in India (since the early 1950's).

Rated PG-13 for Some violent Images


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Savages by Tamara Jenkins

Tamara Jenkins' Sophomore film is one the speaks with power. The Savage siblings appropriatley named John (Hoffman) and Wendy (Linney in an Oscar nominated role) (characters in Peter Pan) have never grown up. As they are in their late 40s they are faced with the challenge of dealing with their father, who they view as an abandoner, who is dying and has dimensia. Both performances have these super stars at the top of their career performing an Oscar nominated script in a year of wonderful original and adapted screenplays, this stands out as one of the best three scripts of the year.

Rated R for some Sexuality and Language


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Top Biopics - 1 - Raging Bull by Martin Scorsese (1980)

Was there any doubt? Scorsese's film is so perfect that it is known world-wide as one of five to ten best American films ever made. It was this film that made him one of the two or three most important directors in modern cinema. While training Robert De Niro for the role Jake LaMatta himself said that if he were not already over 30 years old that De Niro would make an outstanding boxer. And has there ever been a more heartwrenching scene as when an old, fat, washed up LaMatta recite's Marlon Brando's "I couldda been a contender" speech from In the Water Front? I think not

Monday, March 31, 2008

Top Biopics - 2 - Lawrence of Arabia by David Lean (1962)

David Lean. These two words are the answer to how a seemingly impossible film to finance was made. T.L. Lawrence was a fasinating man who fought with the Arabs in World War II to help them gain a more formal sense of indepence. Lawrence of Arabia is also happens to be the debut performance of the legandary Peter O'Toole. The picture comes in at just shy of four hours, nothing happens and I could not take my eyes off of the screen, it is a portrait of greatness and a true triumph in American cinema. Pity Lawrence died in a motorcycle accident after surviving the desert.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Top Biopics - 3 - Schindler's List by Steven Spielberg (1993)

All right, seriously, we all knew it was coming. So, here it is: So what if the real Oskar Schindler was more of a capitalist than humanitarian, he still saved a ton of Jewish people in the worst humanitarian tragedy in the 20th Century. Liam Neeson puts a face onto a struggling business owner who decides that he can make money and have a bonus of saving lives. Again, so what if the part when he breaks down to Kingsley about the desk being two more lives and the telephone, etc was slightly revisionist, it was beautiful. Steven Speilberg's film is a triumph on all fronts and that is why there are only two more pictures left on this list.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Top Biopics - 4 - Patton by Franklin J. Schaffner (1970)

General George Patton was a brilliant and mean military man in the midst of World War II. George C. Scott portrays that with ease in his Oscar winning portrayal in the film named after the general. This film goes beyond a typical war film and allows the audience to see inside the man behind the maddness.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Top Biopics - 5 - Born on the Fourth of July by Oliver Stone (1989)

The incredible story of Ron Kovic is heartwrenching. The story is ment to make you question war and especially the actions of the United States in the Vietnam War but its much more than that. Tom Cruise plays Kovic with such conviction he sadly fell into competition with the great Daniel Day-Lewis and lost his best shot so far at Oscar Gold.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Top Biopics - 6 - Goodfellas by Martin Scorsese (1990)

Martin Scorsese's 1990 masterpiece is one of the six biopics that he has made. Goodfellas is about a man named Henry Hill, an Irish-Italian American who grew up in Little Italy. When Hill gets involved with the mafia his life becomes a dream before spiraling out of control with cocaine and sex. Hill is still living under an alias under the Witness Protection Agency. The final act of this film is made with such an intensity that many people have been forced to choose to love or hate this film with little in between. 

*Note* Goodfellas is part of a thematic series with Casino as its sequel for Mafia memoirs written by Nicholas Pileggi and along with The Departed it is the first part of Scorsese's Mafia Trilogy.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Top Biopics - 7 - The French Connection by William Friedkin (1971)

The Academy called it the Best Picture of 1971. Early in Gene Hackman's career he made a living playing cops and men running from cops (see Bonnie and Clyde). This film about 'Popeye' Doyle is a little less of a biopic in the truest sense of the word and more of a memoir about a detective's life during the major heroine trade in the 1960's. It is brilliantly executed and technically flawless. The French Connection is a Cop Drama Thriller for the ages, and here it is.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Top Biopics - 8 - Dead Man Walking by Tim Robbins (1995)

Tim Robbin's Dead Man Walking is more than a biopic, which it is, about Sister Helen Prejean, and based off of her memoirs. What makes this more than an ordinary biopic is that it is also a message film. The message is that there may not be a right answer to the problem of Capitol Punishment and while Tim Robbins may personally be opposed to the issue his film is the most even-handed film about a real political issue. It plays into the hands of those who stand up against the act and powerfully falls into the hands of those who think that it is necessary. It is a beautiful film that transcends political ideology and cuts straight to the human heart.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Top Biopics - 9 - Capote by Bennett Miller (2005)

Capote is all about one man and three names: Phillip Seymour Hoffman. We all knew he was great before, but this performance cemented his name in the top of the current generations acting talents. Hoffman lost an immense amount of weight to personify the person of Truman Capote in all of his glory and all his short-comings.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Top Biopics - 10 - Nixon by Oliver Stone (1995)

Call him a conspiracy freak, call him a liberal and write him off as paranoid, Oliver Stone was pumping out films as good as anyone in the late 80's and the early 90's. Nixon has Stone at the top of his game; and on top of that, one of the bravest and best performances ever given by the brilliant Anthony Hopkins. It is not, however, the acting, direction or any other film making techniques that make this one of the best biopics ever made. What Oliver Stone did with this picture was to take a person who had been made a monster in history and make him not only a human again but made him sympathetic.

Top 10 Biopics

1. Raging Bull by Martin Scorsese (1980)
2. Lawrence of Arabia by David Lean (1962)
3. Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg (1993)
4. Patton by Franklin J. Schaffner (1970)
5. Born of the Fourth of July by Oliver Stone (1989)
6. Goodfellas by Martin Scorsese (1990)
7. The French Connection by William Friedkin
8. Dead Man Walking by Tim Robbins (1995)
9. Capote by Bennett Miller (2005)
10. Nixon by Oliver Stone (1995)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

American Gangster by Ridley Scott

This review is a little behind being that Ridely Scott's new film hit cinemas in October, but I was not able to make it to the theatre to see it, and it just came out on DVD. Scott's new film is a brutal exercise in filmmaking that rivals the kind of crime films by Michael Mann and Martin Scorsese. Denzel Washington plays Frank Lucas with a viciousness that has been admired by everyone from critics to the real Frank Lucas.


Monday, February 25, 2008


Tilda Swinton - great performance, did not see the win coming
Marion Coltilard - the least deserving of the nominees
The Golden Compass (f/x) - where did this come from?
The Bourne Ultimatum gave me three misses
The Counterfeiters took the foreign award which I had no idea about
There Will be Blood - Roger Deakins split his vote and didn't win for his two suppieror films
Taxi to the Dark Side beat out Sicko in an excellent year for documentaries

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Top 10 Oscar Winners/Losers

Winners - Considered: How much I liked film, sentimentality

1. The Godfather
2. Casablanca
3. The Godfather pt. II
4. The Departed
5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
6. Unforgiven
7. American Beauty
8. Schindler's List
9. Terms of Endearment
10. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Losers - Considered: How much I like film and rip off factor

1. Saving Private Ryan
2. Fargo
3. The Shawshank Redemption
4. Munich
5. Goodfellas
6. Raging Bull
7. Network
8. Dr. Strangelove
9. Nashville
10. Bonnie and Clyde/The Color Purple

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Oscar Forecast - Who Will/Who Should Win

I figured that since every Oscar site got their say that I would take my turn...

Best Picture:

Who Will Win/Should Win - No Country for Old Men
The film has been the beast of the season, and not since Lord of the Rings: Return of the King has a film one the DGA, WGA, PGA and SAG in the same year...let's remember what Return of the King did on Oscar night.

Who Should of Been Nominated:
I am extremely happy with this category this year, the strongest its been in my time of paying attention. There are some films that I would like to see up there, but they generally are not the kind of films Oscar goes for anyway.

Best Actor:

Who Will Win - Daniel Day-Lewis
Day-Lewis gives one of the all time over-the-top performances as Daniel Plainview in Paul Thomas Anderson's epic There will be Blood. It is as close to hystarical as a serious role can get without crossing into parody.

Who Should Win - Daniel Day-Lewis/George Clooney tie
I am perfectly happy with the fact that DDL will win this award, but I felt that George Clooney gave the best performance of his carrer in Michael Clayton. It was strong and subtle and he made Clayton everything Plainview wasn't: human

Who Should have been Nominated - Philip Seymor Hoffman
In a year with three great performances they give him the supporting actor nod for the weakest of the three, instead of his turn in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead or The Savages.

Best Actress:

Who Will Win - Julie Christie
Playing a woman suffering from alzheimers Julie Christie is stunning: in a supporting role. People seem to forget that the film was about her husband and not her. Beautiful none the less.

Who Should Win - Ellen Page
Well, the Best Actress in a Leading Role this year was Ms. Ellen Page for her turn as the title character in Juno. She carried this heartwarming film on her back and that is not easy to do playing a pregnent 16 year old in a comedy.

Who Should have been Nominated - N/A

Best Supporting Actor:

Who Will/Should Win - Javier Bardem
This character will go down in the history books. He was and is and will always be evil incarnate, and his name is Anton Chigurh.

Who Should have been Nominated - Tommy Lee Jones
Yes, just like Philip Seymor Hoffman, they placed him in the wrong category.

Best Supporting Actress:

Who Will/Should Win - Cate Blanchett
There has not been a more...interesting performance in my time seriously watching film. She found every nook and cranny of Bob Dylan and exploited it. And, as Peter Travers said: She would be the only person to win Oscars for playing Katherine Hepburn AND Bob Dylan.

Who Should have been Nominated -This category I am perfectly all right with

Best Original Screenplay:

Who Will/Should Win - Juno by Diablo Cody
This is the most bitingly original work of the year and it is just waiting for its name to be called on Sunday. This has been the only sureshot through the entire season and its time has almost come

Who Should have been Nominated - Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
From the moment the opening quote comes up on the screen "May you be in Heaven half an hour: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" this crime malodrama is one of the most strikingly wonderful crime films by a true master of cinema. The overlook on the Academy's part to not only skip the screenplay but the entire film in every category is criminal

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Who Will/Should Win - No Country for Old Men by Joel and Ethan Coen
This is the cleanest adaptation I've ever had the pleasure to see and read. It is the most literary of almost all films and the Coen's masterpiece: which is a mouthful

Who Should have been Nominated - Gone Baby Gone by Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard
In a category he has already won in, Affleck gets snubbed for writing is directorial debut, a stunning adaptation of Denis Lehane's remember him, the guy that wrote Mystic River

Best Director:

Who Will/Should Win - Joel and Ethan Coen
There has never been a work by them so clean, so moving and so stark. Their masterpiece has come and the Academy owes them one. With the DGA on their side it is the safest statistical bet as well

Who Should have been Nominated - Sidney Lumet
The man is 83 years old and still at the top of his game. He should have won in 1976, but was snubbed and he was snubbed for a nomination here

Suggested Watching List Part I

Lost in Translation by Sofia Coppola
12 Angry Men by Sidney Lumet
Network by Sidney Lumet
Stroszek by Werner Herzog
Strangers on a Train by Alfred Hitchcock
2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick
The Shining by Stanley Kubrick
3 Women by Robert Altman
McCabe & Mrs. Miller by Robert Altman
Letters from Iwo Jima by Clint Eastwood
Million Dollar Baby by Clint Eastwood
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind by Michael Gondry
The Science of Sleep by Michael Gondry
Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock
Secret Honor by Robert Altman
The Thin Red Line by Terrence Mallick
Days of Heaven by Terrence Mallick
Alien by Ridley Scott
Bonnie and Clyde by Arthur Penn
Bringing Out the Dead by Martin Scorsese

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Post Guild Predictions - Big Dance with Fate coming for Coens?

These are my final predictions, with commentary on a few of them. I have left off the short film categories because I have not seen any of them and they are impossible to predict

Best Actor
George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will be Blood*
Johnny Depp - Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones - In the Valley of Ellah
Viggo Mottenson - Eastern Promises
*There Will be Blood*

Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men*
Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton
*There is all but no chance for anyone but Bardem*

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie - Away from Her*
Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney - The Savages
Ellen Page - Juno
*If Juno is more loved or viewed that Julie Christie has already won, Ellen Page could take this, but it is unlikely: she is my beat actress though*

Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There*
Ruby Dee - American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan - Atonement
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton
*Ruby Dee won the SAG, but there's usually a descreption between the SAG and the Oscar and this is the one I pick this year*

Best Animated Feature
Surf's Up

Art Direction
American Gangster
The Golden Compass
Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street*
There Will be Blood

Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford*
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood
*If Roger Deakons splits his vote watch There Will be Blood win this, but it is also possible No Country for Old Men just rolls through the awards this year, so Deakons could beat himself here too*

Costume Design
Across the Universe
Elizabeth: The Golden Age*
La Vie en Rose
Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will be Blood
Joel and Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men*
Tony Gilroy - Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman - Juno
Julian Schnabel - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Best Documentary
No End in Sight
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Expirience
Taxi to the Darkside
*Everyone is very in this race, Sicko just happened to win the PGA*

Best Editing
Bourne Ultimatum
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men*
There Will be Blood

Foregin Language Picture
Beaufort - Israel
The Counterfeiters - Austria
Katyn - Poland
Mongol - Kazakhstan*
12 - Russia
*I admitedly know nothing about this category this year*

Best Makeup
La Vie en Rose*
Pirates of the Carribean: At the World's End
*La Vie en Rose is the only film with good reception this year*

Original Score
The Kite Runner
Michael Clayton
3:10 to Yuma

Original Song
Falling Slowly - Once*
Happy Working Song - Enchanted
Raise it Up - August Rush
So Close - Enchanted
That's How you Know - Enchanted

Best Picture
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men*
There Will be Blood
*It won all four major guilds, something else has a shot until it is announced, but don't hold your breath*

Sound Editing
Bourne Ultimatum
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood
*If the Academy really loves No Country for Old Men it could take this award, and the mixing award as well*

Sound Mixing
Bourne Ultimatum
No Country for Old Men
3:10 to Yuma

Best Visual Effects
The Golden Compass
Pirates of the Carribean: At the World's End

Best Adapted Screenplay
Away from Her
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men*
There Will be Blood
*There Will be Blood could win this if the Coen's sweep other categories, but don't count on it*

Best Original Screenplay
Lars and the Real Girl
Michael Clayton
The Savages

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Top 10, Final Talley

1. No Country for Old Men
2. Juno
3. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
4. Gone Baby Gone
5. There Will be Blood
6. Lars and the Real Girl
7. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
8. Zodiac
9. I'm Not There
10. The Darjeeling Limited

Monday, February 4, 2008

Top 10 Favorite Directors (no order)

Director Best Film

Martin Scorsese Raging Bull (1980)
Ingmar Bergman Cries and Whispers (1973)
Robert Altman McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
Alfred Hitchcock Rear Window (1954)
Stanley Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Jean-Luc Godard Breathless (1960)
Akira Kurosawa Rashomon (1950)
Terrence Mallick Days of Heaven (1978)
Francis Ford Coppla The Godfather (1972)
Krzystof Kieslowski Three Colors: Red (1994)

More on the directors coming soon

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola

There are two things that people may try to tell you about film, neither of which you are to ever believe. The first: that they know exactly what makes a movie great, this is something that just happens there is no single element that can be pointed to that makes a great film. The second is even more simple. If someone tells you that The Godfather isn't a great film you can walk away on the spot because they are an idiot. Yes, I realize art is subjective but somethings transcend likes and dislikes into the realm of greatness whether or not you like them and along with Orson Welle's Citizen Kane this is one of those undeniably great films.