ZERO DARK THIRTY

Jessica Chastain in ZERO DARK THIRTY
Jessica Chastain in ZERO DARK THIRTY

There’s truly something to be said about women in the film industry. Granted, they don’t have it as hard as they did, say, 50 years ago, but it’s a struggle. Women filmmakers have had a tough go of it in this male dominated line of work. Kathryn Bigelow, Academy Award winning director of THE HURT LOCKER, came out with another film about trouble in the middle east last year. I don’t know if it is just because her films cover material that is risky to get involved with, but she’s made waves throughout Hollywood in a good way. She’s taking chances and risking her reputation with these projects and she’s winning all the way.

I start to wonder… if Quentin Tarantino were a woman, would PULP FICTION exist? Would Stephanie Spielberg be as successful as Steven has been? Being a woman, I’m not a huge feminist. I think that we get to vote, we can eat at the same restaurants as men, we can rock a suit better than most men, and we keep the human race going. I’m pretty happy with all of that. Being an aspiring screenwriter, I’m not so confident. Will I have to put a man’s name on the screenplay? Probably not. But let’s look at the nominees for best director. Michael, Benh, Ang, Steven, and David. Let’s forget for the moment that Ben Affleck isn’t one of those names. My rage gets the best of me when I think about how he did the best work of his life with ARGO and didn’t get nominated. But Kathryn – Ms. Bigelow if you’re nasty – also got the snub. Incredible. How does a movie get 5 nominations and miss out on Best Directing? Sorry Kathryn, you can procreate, but no more Oscars for you. Read More »

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TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D

Let me lead off by saying that I’m a fan of the horror genre. My own disappointment in myself is punishment enough for what I did today. I’m disappointed that I spent money on this movie, I’m sad that I haven’t seen all of the Best Picture nominees and I opted for this one instead, and most of all, I’m heartbroken and offended that I can never unsee TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D. This was the worst movie that I’ve ever paid money to see. I watched at least four people walk out of the theater. And I’m still not entirely sure why I didn’t follow them.

It’s a totally simple concept. TEXAS CHAINSAW has cinema history. It goes way back. The original was so perfectly disturbing and bothersome that even with the poor quality of film and no use of any fun CGI and whatnot, I was afraid get up to go to the bathroom afterwards.Read More »

The nominees are…

85thOscars

 

The time has come again for Hollywood’s most talented folks to compete for the coveted gold-plated man. It’s Oscar time! Oscar is 85-years-old and will have a fresh new host this time around. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane will do the honors. I am a little skeptical of this choice, but nothing could be worse than the Anne Hathaway/James Franco fiasco. I actually have high hopes for Seth. He can sing, do funny voices, and he’s got some really white teeth.

Now, on to the nominees:

Best Picture: I would love to see DJANGO UNCHAINED win this. Nevermind the controversy and all of that nonsense, DJANGO was an extraordinary film. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK will probably win. It’s frustrating because – while SLP was good, I don’t think it is worthy of all of the Oscar nods it has received.

  • “Amour”
    Nominees to be determined
  • “Argo”
    Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
    Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers
  • “Django Unchained”
    Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers
  • “Les Misérables”
    Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers
  • “Life of Pi”
    Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers
  • “Lincoln”
    Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
  • “Silver Linings Playbook”
    Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty”
    Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers

Best Actor: It’s gotta be Daniel Day-Lewis, right? I mean, come on.

  • Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook
  • Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
  • Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables
  • Joaquin Phoenix in The Master
  • Denzel Washington in Flight

Best Supporting Actor: Now this one blew me away. Leonardo DiCaprio stepped completely outside of what he’s done previously and nailed it. If I were Leo, I’d be feeling robbed right about now. However, uberbingo Christoph Waltz was sublime and is my pick in this category.

  • Alan Arkin in Argo
  • Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master
  • Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln
  • Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

Best Actress: Naomi Watts! My girl! I’m so pleased to see her on this list and I’ll be elated when she ascends the stairs in whatever breathtaking gown she decides to wear to accept her Oscar. I realize that she has some fierce competition. They are all worthy of the honor, but I think Naomi’s got this.

  • Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
  • Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
  • Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
  • Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Naomi Watts in The Impossible

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway will spend significantly less time on the Oscar stage this year. Less than a minute, I’d say.

  • Amy Adams in “The Master”
  • Sally Field in “Lincoln”
  • Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
  • Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Director: I was shocked to find that Ben Affleck and Quentin Tarantino were left out of this category. That said, Spielberg is going to win. Duh.

  • “Amour” Michael Haneke
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi” Ang Lee
  • “Lincoln” Steven Spielberg
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell

Best Animated Feature: I’m not just saying this because I love video games, I really think Wreck-It Ralph was the best animated film all year.

  • “Brave” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
  • “Frankenweenie” Tim Burton
  • “ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
  • “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Peter Lord
  • “Wreck-It Ralph” Rich Moore

Best Adapted Screenplay: Ugh, Silver Linings Playbook… back off, would you? I’d love to see Argo take this one, but that damn David O. Russell really knocked it out of the park according to someone. I guess.

  • “Argo” Screenplay by Chris Terrio
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi” Screenplay by David Magee
  • “Lincoln” Screenplay by Tony Kushner
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” Screenplay by David O. Russell

Best Original Screenplay: Tar-an-tino! Tar-an-tino!

  • “Amour” Written by Michael Haneke
  • “Django Unchained”Written by Quentin Tarantino
  • “Flight” Written by John Gatins
  • “Moonrise Kingdom” Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Written by Mark Boal

Best Cinematography: Love is blind. I choose Django.

  • “Anna Karenina” Seamus McGarvey
  • “Django Unchained” Robert Richardson
  • “Life of Pi” Claudio Miranda
  • “Lincoln” Janusz Kaminski
  • “Skyfall” Roger Deakins

Best Foreign Film: I haven’t seen any of these, which is a shame. Shame on me. Amour?

  • “Amour” Austria
  • “Kon-Tiki” Norway
  • “No” Chile
  • “A Royal Affair” Denmark
  • “War Witch” Canada

Best Documentary Feature: I never see these. Again, shame on me. So I always pick one that I get a good feeling about. How about The Gatekeepers? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  • “5 Broken Cameras”
    Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
  • “The Gatekeepers”
    Nominees to be determined
  • “How to Survive a Plague”
    Nominees to be determined
  • “The Invisible War”
    Nominees to be determined
  • “Searching for Sugar Man”
    Nominees to be determined

Best Documentary Short: Redemption. Sure.

  • “Inocente”
    Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
  • “Kings Point”
    Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
  • “Mondays at Racine”
    Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
  • “Open Heart”
    Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
  • “Redemption”
    Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill

Best Film Editing: I like Argo for this.

  • “Argo” William Goldenberg
  • “Life of Pi” Tim Squyres
  • “Lincoln” Michael Kahn
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Best Costume Design: Usually a period piece wins this category, but I’m thinking Les Miz, with all of its little nooks and crannies, will win.

  • “Anna Karenina” Jacqueline Durran
  • “Les Misérables” Paco Delgado
  • “Lincoln” Joanna Johnston
  • “Mirror Mirror” Eiko Ishioka
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman” Colleen Atwood

Best Makeup: I like Les Miz for this one, too. Everyone looks all disheveled. It’s in the bag.

  • “Hitchcock”
    Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
    Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
  • “Les Misérables”
    Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Best Original Score: We all know it’s going to be John Williams.

  • “Anna Karenina” Dario Marianelli
  • “Argo” Alexandre Desplat
  • “Life of Pi” Mychael Danna
  • “Lincoln” John Williams
  • “Skyfall” Thomas Newman

Best Original Song: Everybody Needs a Best Friend. I choose this because even though Ted is goofy and stuff, it was also quite clever.

  • “Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice”
    Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
  • “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted”
    Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
  • “Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi”
    Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
  • “Skyfall” from “Skyfall”
    Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
  • “Suddenly” from “Les Misérables”
    Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Best Production Design: Lincoln seems like the perfect candidate for this one. Remember War Horse? That shit was gorgeous.

  • “Anna Karenina”
    Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
    Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
  • “Les Misérables”
    Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
  • “Life of Pi”
    Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
  • “Lincoln” 
    Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Best Animated Short: Fresh Guacamole. Because I would really love some right now.

  • “Adam and Dog” Minkyu Lee
  • “Fresh Guacamole” PES
  • “Head over Heels” Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
  • “Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” David Silverman
  • “Paperman” John Kahrs

Best Live Action Short: Does anyone see these? Kudos to you, if you do. How do we feel about Henry? Let’s go with Henry.

  • “Asad” Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
  • “Buzkashi Boys” Sam French and Ariel Nasr
  • “Curfew” Shawn Christensen
  • “Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
  • “Henry” Yan England

Best Sound Editing: Goddammit, I love Django.

  • “Argo” Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
  • “Django Unchained” Wylie Stateman
  • “Life of Pi” Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
  • “Skyfall” Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Paul N.J. Ottosson

Best Sound Mixing: Argo, please.

  • “Argo”
    John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
  • “Les Misérables”
    Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
  • “Life of Pi”
    Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
  • “Lincoln” 
    Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
  • “Skyfall” 
    Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Best Visual Effects: Let’s please give Avengers this one. Remember how great it was?

  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
    Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
  • “Life of Pi”
    Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
  • “Marvel’s The Avengers”
    Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
  • “Prometheus”
    Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman”
    Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

DJANGO UNCHAINED

"My good man, did you simply get carried away with your dramatic gesture, or are you pointing that weapon at me with lethal intention?" - Dr. King Schultz
“My good man, did you simply get carried away with your dramatic gesture, or are you pointing that weapon at me with lethal intention?” – Dr. King Schultz

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: controversy, racism, blah blah blah. Never mind that I was, without a doubt, the only white person in the theater. Or the fact that the violence and racial slurs were aflyin’. Guys, that’s Quentin Tarantino. He loves to push the envelope and make his theater going audience uncomfortable, frightened, and often delighted. DJANGO UNCHAINED, while peppered with – dun dun dun – the n-word and almost unwatchable brutality, turned out to be one of my favorite movies of the year. Maybe of the last decade. A good movie will have you talking about it from the theater all the way home. A great film will stick with you for days. DJANGO is the latter.

Dr. King Schultz (the dazzling Christoph Waltz) is on a quest to find and kill three brothers by the name of Brittle. Being the savvy bounty hunter he is, King knows just how to find them: find someone who knows what they look like. On a cold night in the woods, in shackles and naught but a thin cloth to warm him, Django (Jamie Foxx) walks with four other slaves led by two men on horses. King uses his sparkling wit and a couple of bullets to negotiate the purchase of Django. In exchange for Django’s help, King promises to reunite him with his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). That means killing lots of folks and telling a few tales before Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), fearsome slave owner, invites them to his Candie Land Ranch where Broomhilda is.

PULP FICTION, FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS… Tarantino has always had an affinity for getting a rise out of people. Maybe that’s why he makes movies like this, but I really think he believes in every picture he makes. His work is indicative of his passion for film and DJANGO UNCHAINED is no exception. I was excited about this movie for months. Sure it’s controversial and a lot of moviegoers have been and will continue to wag a finger at the film. How very unfortunate that they can’t see past the taboo subject matter and recognize how actually brilliant DJANGO is. The 165 minute movie is velvety smooth and hardly seems so long.

But the real story here is our ensemble cast. I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet: Christoph Waltz plays the most charismatic bounty hunter I’ve ever seen. You love him because he’s kind, but also because he will straight up shoot a guy.  He treats Django with the utmost respect and even protects him. For me, he stole the show and won my heart.

Leonardo, Leo… wow. This is a role that Leo hasn’t previously tackled. A chain-smoking, over-the-top racist slave owner who values money and power more than human lives. He captures the southern gentleman gone mad with power flawlessly and is even frightening at times.  Jamie Foxx reportedly gave DiCaprio a pep talk on set when Leo couldn’t muster the meanness necessary for the role. I wish someone had given Foxx a similar talk. As our title character, Foxx is good, but not great. His chemistry with Waltz is his saving grace. The two take things from enjoyable to damn enjoyable.

This movie is extraordinary. It ventures completely outside the box to a place where I found myself uncomfortable and bewildered, but laughing all the while. Everyone gets their comeuppance in the end. The violence and subject matter can get a bit heavy at times, but overall DJANGO is a good bit of fun and sure to be an Oscar favorite.