Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Academy Awards

Well, the Academy Awards list was released a while back. As a general rule, I really don't care about the Oscars. All awards and "Best of" lists are really nonsense. But, since I do consider myself a movie buff, I feel I am forced to care.

One thing I do appreciate about the Oscars are the nominations. These are chosen only by people in that field, meaning only actors can nominated for Best Actor. To me, this means a nomination is a more relevant show of peer appreciation than the actual award, since that is voted on by everyone (including those who never saw the film).

I found this year to be particularly filled with good movies, so my predictions were much more difficult than usual. Here are my current guesses for some of the major categories, though I reserve the right to change my mind right up until that fateful night.

Original Score:
"Atonement," Dario Marianelli; "The Kite Runner," Alberto Iglesias; "Michael Clayton," James Newton Howard; "Ratatouille," Michael Giacchino; "3:10 to Yuma," Marco Beltrami.

Sound Editing:
"The Bourne Ultimatum," "No Country for Old Men," "Ratatouille," "There Will Be Blood," "Transformers."

Sound Mixing:
"The Bourne Ultimatum," "No Country for Old Men," "Ratatouille," "3:10 to Yuma," "Transformers."

"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," "Atonement," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "No Country for Old Men," "There Will Be Blood."

Art Direction:
"American Gangster," "Atonement," "The Golden Compass," "Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street," "There Will Be Blood."

Animated Feature Film:
"Persepolis"; "Ratatouille"; "Surf's Up."

Original Screenplay:
Diablo Cody, "Juno"; Nancy Oliver, "Lars and the Real Girl"; Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"; Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava and Jim Capobianco, "Ratatouille"; Tamara Jenkins, "The Savages."

Adapted Screenplay:
Christopher Hampton, "Atonement"; Sarah Polley, "Away from Her"; Ronald Harwood, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"; Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"; Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood."

Foreign Film:
"Beaufort," Israel; "The Counterfeiters," Austria; "Katyn," Poland; "Mongol," Kazakhstan; "12," Russia.

Supporting Actress:
Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"; Ruby Dee, "American Gangster"; Saoirse Ronan, "Atonement"; Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone"; Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton."

Supporting Actor:
Casey Affleck, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"; Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"; Hal Holbrook, "Into the Wild"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Charlie Wilson's War"; Tom Wilkinson, "Michael Clayton."

Cate Blanchett, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"; Julie Christie, "Away From Her"; Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en Rose"; Laura Linney, "The Savages"; Ellen Page, "Juno."

George Clooney, "Michael Clayton"; Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"; Johnny Depp, "Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street"; Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Valley of Elah"; Viggo Mortensen, "Eastern Promises."

Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"; Jason Reitman, "Juno"; Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"; Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood."

Best Picture:
"Atonement," "Juno," "Michael Clayton," "No Country for Old Men," "There Will Be Blood."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Real Life Speed Racer!

Yeah, yeah. It's been too long since my last post. Believe it or not, I actually have two movie review posts in the queue, but I just haven't put them up yet. I'm really having a hard time getting myself into the habit of blogging. I may have to force myself to make a daily post until I can get more accustomed to it.

I've been dragging my feet on the movie reviews for a couple of reasons. I want to say too much, and yet I feel like writing too little. I'm having trouble finding the right balance. I really love the style and format and the whole shebang as developed by the guy at Movie Quickie. I really just want to copy/steal everything he's doing and make it my own. That's my goal, anyway.

Also, you may have noticed that I've switched to a three column format. I liked it better in theory than I do in practice. It feels a little cluttered. I don't know. The old one seemed to have too much white space. Hopefully, I'll get used to this one.

Anyway, the point of my post. I watched On The Beach last night. It's pretty good, but really not as good as the book. It was nice to see a movie really take time with it's story (although, there was an early radio transmission that gave away the nuclear war idea about 3 minutes into it, whereas in the book that fact was revealed much, much later). It was also nice to see long takes of actors delivering dialog.

But that's not the real point. The real point is the car race. The premise of the novel and movie, if you don't know, is that Australia is the last habitable place on Earth after a huge nuclear war. The end is coming to Australia as well, but they have to wait for several months as the radioactive cloud slowly moves down to envelop the rest of the planet.

Well, being bored and destined to die, several car fanatics decide to stage a car race, just for themselves. These aren't professional race car drivers, just people who want to race. They zoom around at break-neck speeds with zero concern for the safety of themselves or other drivers.

I think the scene is meant to be a little horrific, in that people are dying and they don't really care. But what struck me the most was how much it looked like any number of races from my boyhood-favorite TV show, Speed Racer! The cars look the same, the crashes look the same. Even the lead driver (Fred Astaire) is driving a car that bears a resemblance to the famed Mach 5, with the headrest, white car, and number 5.

Fortunately for you, I've found a clip of it on YouTube, so you can enjoy it without having to sit through the whole movie. Check it out:


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