Wednesday, December 23, 2009

interesting take on underrated pics of the decade

The dozen most underrated films of the decade according to Laremy Legel of Film.Com

Here is his story:

***

The decade is just about over, and we've seen a few thousand films from 2000 to 2009. A few great ones slipped through the cracks, films you might have missed ... but shouldn't have. However, first off, we've got to lay out some ground rules:

The film can't have surpassed $30 million, either domestically or worldwide.

That eliminates the following:

*Team America (2004): The film made $32 million in America, which means there's at least four million Americans who can laugh at themselves.

*Lucky Number Slevin (2006): Bruce Willis, Josh Hartnett, Morgan Freeman, murder, laughs, and delightful dialogue. Still, international audiences rewarded it with $34 million in receipts.

The film can't have been nominated for/won an Oscar.

That eliminates the following great films (that didn't make much theatrically):

*Memento (2000): The film is now properly rated, though no one saw it in the theater.

*Wonder Boys (2000): A classic early performance from a Tobey Maguire.

*Ghost World (2001): Thora Birch was supposed to be the shooting star of this film ... but it also starred Scarlett Johansson.

*The Man Who Wasn't There (2001): Another Scar-Jo classic, but this one was directed by the Coen bros. -- one of their top five efforts.

*Mulholland Drive (2001): Outstanding work from director David Lynch, though I still don't fully "get" it.

*Spirited Away (2001): It was always rated properly internationally, as a masterpiece, but it was slow going in the United States.

*Adaptation (2002): Four Oscar noms ensured people watched this on DVD.

*Whale Rider (2002): Has all the subtlety Avatar is missing regarding indigenous populations.

*A Mighty Wind (2003): A lesser Guest effort, but still awkward and endearing.

*A Very Long Engagement (2004): The film is definitely long, but also quite beautiful.

*Once (2006): This had a slow build, but the Academy Awards cemented its place in pop culture history.

*In Bruges (2008): Proof positive that Colin Farrell can act.

*Rachel Getting Married (2008): It dallied a little much for my taste, but it deserved better than $16 million at the box office.

What remains?

Behold! The Dozen Most Underrated Films of the Decade!

1) Best in Show (2000)
Domestic: $19 million
International: $2 million
The Skinny: The decade's funniest film if you're into the wry and dry. It's a Christopher Guest classic -- a brutal (though empathetic) look at the loony world of dog shows. Of course, the film isn't really about dog shows at all; it's about the people who raise and show the dogs, a cross-section of zany society. Guest, long before Ricky Gervais cashed in with The Office, mastered the art of uncomfortable and hilarious silence. Best in Show features Eugene Levy, Parkey Posey, and the normal cast of Guest players. It's very, very funny. Give it a watch.

2) High Fidelity (2000)
Domestic: $27 million
International: $20 million
The Skinny: A tremendous soundtrack, vintage Cusack, and the rare effective pivot from comedy to drama. High Fidelity also has one of the first big Jack Black performances; he's sublime as a founding member of the faux band "Sonic Death Monkey."

3) 25th Hour (2002)
Domestic: $13 million
International: $11 million
The Skinny: Spike Lee's most mature work has perhaps the best ending of the decade. It also features Phil Hoffman, Edward Norton, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson, Anna Paquin, and Brian Cox. It's like actor heaven! Eminently watchable and dynamic, a can't-miss purchase or rental.

4) Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Domestic: $18 million
International: $7 million
The Skinny: Just a strange, strange film. But the colors used, the anger, the brilliant use of Adam Sandler ... it all works here. This is Paul Thomas Anderson's underappreciated classic -- everyone digs Boogie Nights and has heard of There Will Be Blood, but this title mostly draws blank stares. I know it's not for everyone, but this topsy-turvy classic is picking up steam as the decade closes.

5) Secretary (2002)
Domestic: $4 million
International: $5 million
The Skinny: To say the love story presented here is "nontraditional" is to say Seattle has rainy days. It's the story of Edward (James Spader), a man who loves order and discipline, a man who can't feel, a fella who is into S&M. It's about abuse, cutting, and features very early Maggie Gyllenhaal. It's a jarring and occasionally unpleasant film, but brave in its portrayal of real archetypes; there are people who hurt and heal in this manner, and Secretary is unflinchingly honest.

6) I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Domestic: $13 million
International: $7 million
The Skinny: Need to have a condensed conversation about the meaning of life? Throw in Huckabees, a film seemingly about nothing ... which frees it up to be about everything. David O. Russell is evidently tough to work with, but the film has inspired performances from Mark Wahlberg, Lily Tomlin, Dustin Hoffman, Jude Law, and Naomi Watts.

7) Life Aquatic (2004)
Domestic: $24 million
International: $11 million
The Skinny: Massively underrated and ravaged by the critics, I'm pretty sure people missed the leadership lessons presented here. Bill Murray, by every acceptable definition, plays an absolute lunatic. He endangers his crew, children, innocents -- all for no real reason. Yet -- and this is crucial -- he's also an incredibly effective guy whom people willingly follow into battle. He's charismatic, affable, and charming. Wes Anderson presented a film that could start gaining a Lebowski-like following, if only people would watch with fresh eyes.

8) Serenity (2005)
Domestic: $26 million
International: $13 million
The Skinny: The gap between something like Transformers 2 and Serenity is a profound one. Serenity (based on the show Firefly) is innovative, fun, thrilling, and dramatic. It's a space western, it features great acting, the pacing is superb. Transformers 2? Uh, that one made a lot of money. Do you see the difference? Serenity not making hundreds of millions of dollars was one of my ultimate disappointments of the decade. This is a quality film, folks, start giving it some love.

9) Dave Chappelle's Block Party (2006)
Domestic: $12 million
International: less than $1 million
The Skinny: I get that people don't see documentaries. Truly, I do. But Dave Chappelle's Block Party has something most true stories don't. It has Dave Chappelle! It has Kanye West (pre-Taylor Swift fiasco), it reunites The Fugees, it features heavy doses of The Roots. If you like hip-hop, you need to see this. If you like comedy, you need to see this. You pretty much just need to see this; it's a joyous co-mingling of comedy and music.

10) Hot Rod (2007)
Domestic: $14 million
International: less than $1 million
The Skinny: Technically, this isn't a good movie, especially given the illustrious company it's keeping on this list. But it's as strong and silly a film as Anchorman and it features Danny McBride and Andy Samberg -- two guys who continue to grow in comedic stature as the years roll by. This film is perfect for a laugh with friends, possibly drunk friends, the sort of friends who can laugh at themselves.

11) Reign Over Me (2007)
Domestic: $20 million
International: $3 million
The Skinny: After Serenity not making huge dollars, my second biggest disappointment of the decade is Adam Sandler having to do awful movies to get the attention of the general public ... because his serious work is damn good. As far as I'm concerned this is the best 9/11 film out there, though it's not even about 9/11, it's about grief. Don Cheadle co-stars, and the guys are tremendous together. At once sad, happy, manic, and poignant, this film deserved way better treatment than it received.

12) Ghost Town (2008)
Domestic: $13 million
International: $14 million
The Skinny: We needed a film to show off the cleverness of Ricky Gervais. Ghost Town is that film. Only you all missed it.

austin film critics weigh in with top ten picks!

Top 10 Films of the Year:
1. The Hurt Locker (Summit)
2. Star Trek (Paramount)
3. Up (Pixar)
4. A Serious Man (Focus)
5. Up in the Air (Paramount)
6. Avatar (20th Century Fox)
7. Inglourious Basterds (The Weinstein Co.)
8. District 9 (TriStar)
9. Where the Wild Things Are (Warner Bros.)
10. (tie) Moon (Sony Pictures Classic), The Messenger (Oscilloscope)

Top 10 Films of the Decade:
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
2. There Will Be Blood (2007)
3. The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
4. The Dark Knight (2008)
5. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
6. Kill Bill (2003/4)
7. No Country for Old Men (2007)
8. The Incredibles (2004)
9. Children of Men (2006)
10. (tie) Memento (2000), The Departed (2006)

london film critics bare nominees!

Film of the year:
Avatar; The Hurt Locker; A Prophet; The White Ribbon; Up In The Air.

British film:
Bright Star; An Education; Fish Tank; In The Loop; Moon.

Foreign Language film:
The Class; Katyn; Let the Right One In; A Prophet; The White Ribbon.

Director:
Jacques Audiard – A Prophet; Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker; James Cameron – Avatar; Michael Haneke – The White Ribbon; Jason Reitman – Up in the Air.

British Director:
Andrea Arnold – Fish Tank; Armando Iannucci – In the Loop; Duncan Jones – Moon; Kevin Macdonald – State of Play; Sam Taylor-Wood – Nowhere Boy.

Actor:
Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart; George Clooney – Up in the Air; Tahar Rahim – A Prophet; Michael Stuhlbarg – A Serious Man; Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds.

Actress:
Abbie Cornish – Bright Star; Vera Farmiga – Up in the Air; Mo'Nique – Precious; Carey Mulligan – An Education; Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia.

British Actor:
Peter Capaldi – In the Loop; Colin Firth – A Single Man; Tom Hardy – Bronson; Christian MacKay – Me and Orson Welles; Andy Serkis – Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll.

British Actress:
Emily Blunt – The Young Victoria; Helen Mirren – The Last Station; Carey Mulligan – An Education; Katie Jarvis – Fish Tank; Kristin Scott Thomas – Nowhere Boy.

British Actor, Supporting:
Michael Fassbender – Fish Tank; John Hurt – 44 Inch Chest; Jason Isaacs – Good; Alfred Molina – An Education; Timothy Spall – The Damned United.

British Actress, Supporting:
Emily Blunt – Sunshine Cleaning; Anne-Marie Duff – Nowhere Boy; Rosamund Pike – An Education; Kierston Wareing – Fish Tank; Olivia Williams – An Education.

Screenwriter:
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche – In the Loop; Thomas Bidegain & Jacques Audiard – A Prophet; Joel & Ethan Coen – A Serious Man; Michael Haneke – The White Ribbon; Nick Hornby – An Education.

Young British Performer:
Katie Jarvis – Fish Tank; Aaron Johnson – Nowhere Boy and Dummy; George MacKay – The Boys Are Back; Bill Milner – Is Anybody There? and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll; Saoirse Ronan – The Lovely Bones.

Breakthrough filmmaker:
Daniel Barber – Harry Brown; Armando Ianucci – In the Loop; Duncan Jones – Moon; Peter Strickland – Katalin Varga; Sam Taylor-Wood – Nowhere Boy.

chicago film critics pick "the hurt locker"!

Chicago Film Critics winners:

BEST PICTURE:
The Hurt Locker

BEST DIRECTOR:
Kathryn Bigelow–The Hurt Locker

BEST ACTOR:
Jeremy Renner–The Hurt Locker

BEST ACTRESS:
Carey Mulligan–An Education

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Christoph Waltz–Inglourious Basterds

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Mo’nique–Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
Mark Boal–The Hurt Locker

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner–Up in the Air

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM:
The White Ribbon

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
Up

BEST DOCUMENTARY:
Anvil: The Story of Anvil

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Barry Ackroyd–The Hurt Locker

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Up–Michael Giacchino

MOST PROMISING PERFORMER:
Carey Mulligan–An Education

MOST PROMISING FILMMAKER:
Neill Blomkamp–District 9

southeastern film critics names 2009 winners!

Best Picture

1. “Up in the Air.”
2. “The Hurt Locker.”
3. “Up.”
4. “Inglourious Basterds.”
5. “A Serious Man.”
6. “(500) Days of Summer.”
7. “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.”
8. “The Messenger.”
9. “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”
10. “District 9.”

Best actor: George Clooney, “Up in the Air.”
Best actress: Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia.”
Best supporting actor: Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds.”
Best supporting actress: Mo'Nique, “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.”
Best director: Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker.”

las vegas film critics join "the hurt locker" bandwagon

Las Vegas Film Critics Society 2009 Sierra Awards winners

Best Picture: "The Hurt Locker"
Best Actor: Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt Locker"
Best Actress: Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious"
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds"
Best Supporting Actress: Monique, "Precious"
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker"
Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted): Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, "500 Days of Summer"
Best Cinematography: Andrew Lesnie, "The Lovely Bones"
Best Film Editing: Bob Murawski, "The Hurt Locker"
Best Costume Design: Anna B. Sheppard, "Inglourious Basterds"
Best Art Direction: "Avatar"
Best Visual Effects: "Star Trek"
Best Documentary: "Anvil: The Story of Anvil"
Best Foreign Film: "Red Cliff" (China)
Best Song: "The Weary Kind" (Theme from "Crazy Heart")
Music and Lyrics by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
Best Score: Brian Eno, "The Lovely Bones"
Best Family Film: "Fantastic Mr. Fox"
Best Animated Film: "Fantastic Mr. Fox"
Youth in Film: Saoirse Ronan, "The Lovely Bones"
Best DVD (Packaging, design and content): "The Wizard of Oz" (70th Anniversary Ultimate Edition)
The William Holden Lifetime Achievement Award: Roger Deakins

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Florida film critics pick 2009 winners!

here's a news piece from joe belcastro of the tampa movie news..

***

December 21 - The Florida Film Critics Circle (FFCC) has named Up In The Air its Best Picture of 2009. The film, about a man who travels the country to fire people for big corporations, won a total of three awards, including Best Director (Jason Reitman) and Best Actor (George Clooney).

The group's closest competition was for Best Screenplay, in which the writers of (500) Days of Summer, Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, narrowly defeated Reitman and Sheldon Turner's script for Up In The Air.

As a member, most of the awards went the way I would have thought. My only gripes are with the best actor award and the breakout award. George Clooney did a fine job in Up in the Air but it's something we've seen out of him before. Clooney plays the role like many others he's done over the years. This was a role where he could play himself in how the film portrays his lifestyle. If you saw The Men Who Stare at Goats earlier this year, he gave a much better performance in that, in terms of acting. Personally, Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, Morgan Freeman as Mandela, and my sleeper pick of Brad Pitt for his work in Inglourious Basterds topped Clooney.

In the breakout award category, giving the award to Gabourey Sidibe for her role in Precious is fine. Except for the fact that we voted her in the best actress category as well. In the breakout category, I felt Sharlto Copley, who played the rebel FBI agent in District 9, deserved consideration. That being said, Sidibe winning best actress over the likes of Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock is quite impressive.

For best picture, it could have gone either way. Yes, there's a lot of flicks in the running this year, because it is a weak year. Nobody really grabbed the voter's attention like in previous years. Still hoping (500) Days of Summer wins best picture at the big-boy award shows in the upcoming months.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

SAG Awards Nominees List

Here are the nominees for the 16th annual Screen Actors Guild awards:

MOVIES:
Actor: Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"; George Clooney, "Up in the Air"; Colin Firth, "A Single Man"; Morgan Freeman, "Invictus"; Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt Locker."

*No Surprises... this early, my pick is Morgan Freeman

Actress: Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side"; Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"; Carey Mulligan, "An Education"; Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' By Sapphire"; Meryl Streep, "Julie & Julia."

*No Surprises... this early, my pick is Sandra Bullock

Supporting actor: Matt Damon, "Invictus"; Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger"; Christopher Plummer, "The Last Station"; Stanley Tucci, "The Lovely Bones"; Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds."

*No Surprises... this early, my pick is Christoph Waltz

Supporting actress: Penelope Cruz, "Nine"; Vera Farmiga, "Up in the Air"; Anna Kendrick, "Up in the Air"; Diane Kruger, "Inglourious Basterds"; Mo'Nique"; "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' By Sapphire."

*No Surprises... this early, my pick is Mo'Nique

Ensemble cast: "An Education," "The Hurt Locker," "Inglourious Basterds," "Nine," "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' By Sapphire."

*Nine is a surprise! but this early, my pick is The Hurt Locker

Stunt ensemble: "Public Enemies," "Star Trek," "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."

___

TELEVISION:

Actor in a movie or miniseries: Kevin Bacon, "Taking Chance"; Cuba Gooding Jr., "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story"; Jeremy Irons, "George O'Keefe"; Kevin Kline, "Great Performances: Cyrano de Bergerac"; Tom Wilkinson, "Salter."

Actress in a movie or miniseries: Joan Allen, "Georgia O'Keefe"; Drew Barrymore, "Grey Gardens"; Ruby Dee, "America"; Jessica Lange, "Grey Gardens"; Sigourney Weaver, "Prayers for Bobby."

Actor in a drama series: Simon Baker, "The Mentalist"; Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"; Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"; Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"; Hugh Laurie, "House."

Actress in a drama series (tie vote resulted in six nominees): Patricia Arquette, "Medium"; Glenn Close, "Damages"; Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"; Holly Hunter, "Saving Grace"; Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"; Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer."

Actor in a comedy series: Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"; Steve Carell, "The Office"; Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm"; Tony Shalhoub, "Monk"; Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men."

Actress in a comedy series: Christina Applegate, "Samantha Who?"; Toni Collette, "United States of Tara"; Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"; Tina Fey, "30 Rock"; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "The New Adventures of Old Christine."

Drama series cast: "The Closer," "Dexter," "The Good Wife," "Mad Men," "True Blood."

Comedy series cast: "30 Rock," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Glee," "Modern Family," "The Office."

Stunt ensemble: "24," "The Closer," "Dexter," "Heroes," "The Unit."

african-american critics name "precious" best pic!

**Press Release**

African American Film Critics Association: 'Precious' Top Film of 2009
December 17, 2009

The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) has named “Precious” as the Best Picture of 2009. Directed by Lee Daniels, the Lionsgate release captured a majority vote by the organization, which is comprised of African-American media professionals from across the nation. Founded in 2003, AAFCA will present this year’s honors at its first live event, Monday, Dec.14, at the historic Ebony Repertory Theatre in Los Angeles.

Morgan Freeman was selected as Best Actor 2009 for “Invictus.” Nicole Beharie earned AAFCA recognition as Best Actress 2009 for “American Violet.” With the first unanimous vote in an acting category in the organization’s history, Mo’Nique was selected Best Supporting Actress for “Precious.”

Anthony Mackie earned Best Supporting Actor recognition for his performance in “The Hurt Locker.” Lee Daniels was named Best Director for “Precious,” with a tie for Best Screenplay between Ron Clements, Rob Edwards, John Musker for "The Princess & The Frog" and Geoffrey Fletcher for "Precious."

“In 2009, the film community produced a dazzling array of performances from African-American talent both in front of and behind the camera,” said Gil Robertson IV, AAFCA co-founder. “This year’s selections give a strong indication that the film community is becoming more committed to a wider range of stories that entertain and educate.”

AAFCA bestows Special Achievement Award to Michael Jackson, whose seminal film “This Is It” captured a lifetime of exemplary creative expression. The organization’s Top Ten list of film honors includes “Up In The Air,” “The Hurt Locker” and “Good Hair.”

“The films selected for 2009 reflect a fascinating combination of work that both entertains and addresses themes and issues of cultural importance,” remarks AAFCA President, Wilson Morales, editor of Blackfilm.com.

"the hurt locker" wins at san francisco film critics awards

Report lifted from the San Francisco Chronicle

***

Regional film critics laud 'Hurt Locker'
Chronicle Staff Report
Thursday, December 17, 2009

"The Hurt Locker," a drama about a U.S. Army bomb disposal unit in Iraq, won the best picture and best director awards from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.

The group, which held its annual voting meeting Monday night, also chose Colin Firth as best actor, honoring his work as a depressed college professor who recently lost his longtime male lover in "A Single Man." Meryl Streep won the best actress award for her portrayal of Julia Child in "Julie & Julia."

The rest of the group's awards were an eclectic mix, including three animated films and a documentary about an aging heavy metal band. Mo'Nique won the best supporting actress award for her role as an abusive mother in "Precious."

Christian McKay received the best supporting actor for his memorable work as Orson Welles in "Me and Orson Welles." Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach won best adapted screenplay for "Fantastic Mr. Fox," while Quentin Tarantino was the best original screenplay winner for "Inglourious Basterds."

Kathryn Bigelow won best director for "The Hurt Locker," Roger Deakins won best cinematography for the Coen Brothers film "A Serious Man," the best foreign language picture was "You, the Living" and the best documentary was "Anvil! The Story of Anvil."
The group also introduced its first-ever award for best animated feature, choosing Henry Selick's "Coraline."

Local filmmakers Frazer Bradshaw ("Everything Strange and New") and Barry Jenkins ("Medicine and Melancholy") won the Marlon Riggs award, which recognizes a Bay Area filmmaker or individual who brings courage and innovation to the world of cinema. The animated "Sita Sings the Blues" received a special citation and San Francisco screenwriter Rose Kaufman ("Henry & June," "The Wanderers") was honored in memoriam.

The San Francisco Film Critics Circle is composed of more than 20 critics from Northern California print and online publications and broadcast outlets. Representing The Chronicle in the organization are movie critic Mick La Salle and pop culture critic Peter Hartlaub. Also in the group are Chronicle correspondent Ruthe Stein and former Chronicle critic Carla Meyer, now with the Sacramento Bee.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

golden globes nominations - and surprises - are out!

the hollywood foreign press presented their nominations for film and tv this morning.

obviously there is a reason why the golden globes is considered the hottest party of the year - they make sure that the biggest stars are nominated even if there are lesser-known stars who give better and more compelling performances but had to suffer because of their perceived lack of tv audience pull... hmmm

take the case of jeremy renner. the breakout star of "the hurt locker", who has won a slew of awards from several critics and has long been considered a potential oscar-nominee for his gritty turn in the iraq war-drama, was snubbed in favor of tobey maguire ("brothers"). is it because tobey is spiderman while jeremy is not? and what's this i heard that tobey's pal leonardo di caprio threw a party days before??

here's another. there is no doubt that sandra bullock deserves some acting notice for her beyond ordinary turn in "the blind side" but for her to get nominated for a rather routine performance in "the proposal" and not zooey deschanel whose lovely turn in "[500] days of summer" formed part half of the two of the best characters i so loved this year is perplexing, totally!

and julia roberts is a superstar and an oscar-winner but was she better than maya rudolph this year? julia was fine in "duplicity" but even she must be scratching her head now why she is shortlisted in a category that should have included maya rudolph's splendid turn in "away we go"! --- that is unless the globes forgot her like i did when i made my forecast yesterday. i was to put her on my five picks but i was only able to type four... duh!

but all these are forgiven because the globes nominated my favorite "[500] days of summer" for best comedy and i hope it wins although my money is on "nine" and the weinstein brother, yes... the weinstein brothers!

the best drama picks are fine but i would have loved to see "invictus" over "inglourious basterds" which i thought was more comedic like "up in the air". "an education" was also edged out because of this misclassification.

the best comedy picks include "the hangover" and "[500] days of summer" --- and that is enough for me.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Golden Globe Predix

Tomorrow, the Hollywood Foreign Press Club will announce their nominations for the best film and performances of the year.

The group has separate categories for drama and comedy/musical.

Here are my predictions:

Best Drama: "Invictus", "The Hurt Locker", "A Single Man", "Precious", "An Education"
Possible: Avatar, The Road, Brothers,

Best Comedy/Musical: "Nine", "Inglourious Basterds", "Up in the Air", "[500] Days of Summer", "Julie & Julia"
Possible: It's Complicated, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Hangover,Up

Best Actor (Drama): Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Viggo Mortensen (The Road), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker), Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), Colin Firth (A Single Man)

Best Actress (Drama): Carey Mulligan (An Education), Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones), Penelope Cruz (Broken Embraces), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
Possible: Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria)

Best Actor (Comedy): George Clooney (Up in the Air), Matt Damon (The Informant), Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds), Daniel Day-Lewis (Nine), Joseph Gordon-Levitt ([500] Days of Summer)

Best Actress (Comedy): Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia), Zooey Dezchanel ([500] Days of Summer), Meryl Streep (It's Complicated) - yes, she will get two nominations!, Emily Blunt (Sunshine Cleaning)

Best Director: James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, Tom Ford, Kathryn Bigelow, Jason Reitman, Quentin Tarantino

There you go. Let's check back in the morning how we do...

NY Film Critics Winners!

Best Picture
The Hurt Locker

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow
The Hurt Locker

Best Actress
Meryl Streep
Julie & Julia

Best Actor
George Clooney
Up In The Air / Fantastic Mr. Fox

Best Supporting Actress
Mo'Nique
Precious

Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz
Inglourious Basterds

Critics Choice Awards Nominees!

BEST PICTURE
• Avatar
• An Education
• The Hurt Locker
• Inglourious Basterds
• Invictus
• Nine
• Precious
• A Serious Man
• Up
• Up In The Air

BEST ACTOR
•Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart
• George Clooney - Up In The Air
• Colin Firth - A Single Man
• Morgan Freeman - Invictus
• Viggo Mortensen - The Road
• Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker

BEST ACTRESS
• Emily Blunt - The Young Victoria
• Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side
• Carey Mulligan - An Education
• Saoirse Ronan - The Lovely Bones
• Gabourey Sidibe - Precious
• Meryl Streep - Julie & Julia

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
• Matt Damon - Invictus
• Woody Harrelson - The Messenger
• Christian McKay - Me And Orson Welles
• Alfred Molina - An Education
• Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones
• Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
• Marion Cotillard - Nine
• Vera Farmiga - Up In The Air
• Anna Kendrick - Up In The Air
• Mo’Nique - Precious
• Julianne Moore - A Single Man
• Samantha Morton - The Messenger

BEST DIRECTING
• Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker
• James Cameron - Avatar
• Lee Daniels - Precious
• Clint Eastwood - Invictus
• Jason Reitman - Up In The Air
• Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
• Mark Boal - The Hurt Locker
• Joel Coen & Ethan Coen - A Serious Man
• Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber - (500) Days Of Summer
• Bob Peterson, Peter Docter - Up
• Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
• Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach - Fantastic Mr. Fox
• Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell - District 9
• Geoffrey Fletcher - Precious
• Tom Ford, David Scearce - A Single Man
• Nick Hornby - An Education
• Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner - Up In The Air

Sunday, December 13, 2009

LA critics picks "The Hurt Locker" as year's best pic

The LA Film Critics picked the Iraq-war drama "The Hurt Locker" and its director Kathryn Bigelow as the year's best picture and best director respectively.

Best actor prize went Jeff Bridges for "Crazy Heart" and the best actress to Belgian actress Yolande Moroe for her turn in the obscure French film "Seraphine".

Mo'nique continues to dominate the best supporting actress race and is now tipped to win the Oscar trophy. The singer was named best supporting actress for her nasty turn as an abusive mom in "Precious". Christopher Waltz was named best supporting actor for his turn in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds", the same movie that won him the best actor prize at Cannes this May.

Oscar frontrunner "Up in the Air" took runner up honors for best picture.

AFI Top Ten List

The American Film Institute has released their top ten list tonight. The list, made up of American-made movies only, is selected for their outstanding contribution to cinema. Not all critically-acclaimed movies get selected. Those films that deal with ground-breaking subjects, pioneering technology, and genre-defying concepts usually make the cut.

This years list include, in alphabetical order:

1) Coraline
2) The Hangover
3) The Hurt Locker
4) The Messenger
5) Precious
6) A Serious Man
7) A Single Man
8) Sugar
9) Up
10) Up in the Air

Missing in the list are the following movies which i think still have solid shots of making the Oscar shortlist:

1) Invictus
2) An Education (British made, not qualified0
3) [500] Days of Summer
4) Nine
5) Avatar

From the AFI Top Ten, expect "Sugar", "Up", "Coraline", "The Messenger", and "A Serious Man" to disappear from the Oscar radar in the days leading to the announcement of the nominees in February. "Up" will make the animated category. "The Hangover" has a shot now.

Meryl Streep is Boston Film Critics Best Actress!

The venerable Meryl Streep, inarguably the greatest actress working in Hollywood today, was named best actress anew, her nth trophy, by the Boston Society of Film Critics.

The actress won for her zany turn as the sunny TV cook pioneer Julia Child in "Julie & Julia".

The best actor trophy went to Jeremy Renner for his star-making turn as a soldier in Iraq in the war-drama "The Hurt Locker". The movie also garnered the best picture prize.

Singer Mo'nique won best supporting actress for her harrowing turn in "Precious" while Cannes-winner Christoph Waltz won the best supporting actor award for his villainous turn in "Inglourious Basterds".

Friday, December 11, 2009

Germain's and Lemire's best films of 2009!

AP critics Germain, Lemire pick top films of 2009

The top 10 films of 2009, according to AP Movie Writer David Germain:

1. "The Hurt Locker" — The first great Iraq war film proves so universal that it can stand among the classics from past wars. Director Kathryn Bigelow drops viewers in at ground zero for a disturbingly close and claustrophobic look at the stresses and strains of disabling bombs for a living. Ably supported by Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty, Jeremy Renner is fierce, frightening and fearless as a sergeant so addicted to the adrenaline rush of defusing explosives that he can no longer conceive of another way of life.

2. "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' by Sapphire" — An HIV-positive, illiterate Harlem teen impregnated by her father, twice, and relentlessly abused by her abominable mother. Out of this nightmare, director Lee Daniels crafts a magnificent story of resilience about a girl who discovers there really are decent people out there — lots of them. Gabourey Sidibe bursts forth with a masterful screen debut in the title role, while Mo'Nique makes up for a career of lowbrow comedy, performing like a woman possessed as the hateful mom.

3. "The White Ribbon" — Director Michael Haneke's masterpiece, a grim yet glorious study of guilt, distrust and malice as unexplained violence and other mishaps befall a pre-World War I German town. A portent of things to come, the mystery seems rooted in the town's children, a generation destined to unleash savagery such as the world had never known. Yet Haneke points a finger at everyone, his closing image in the film's gorgeous black-and-white palate an unforgettable tableau of reproach and incrimination.

4. "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" — Some films are just a hoot, and this is one of them. Filmmaker Werner Herzog takes the notion of a corrupt cop from 1992's "Bad Lieutenant" and twists it into one of the most blackly humorous crime tales ever. Nicolas Cage does his best work in years as a maniacal, drug-gorging detective racing through a murder investigation in a hallucinatory haze, playing every angle, dodging every impediment and spouting such wicked gems as, "Shoot him again. ... His soul's still dancing."

5. "Up" — By now, saying "the latest from Pixar Animation" should be enough to justify a movie's top-10 status. Director Pete Docter and his Pixar pals beguiled young and old with this story of a bitter widower who renews his sense of adventure by airlifting his house via helium balloons on a romp to South America. Voice star Ed Asner conjures up the patron saint of lovable grouches, and a segment encapsulating the lost decades with the love of his life is one of the sweetest, saddest montages in film history.

6. "An Education" — Carey Mulligan is exquisite as a whipsmart 1960s British teen who jeopardizes her Oxford college future by taking up with a slick-talking older man (Peter Sarsgaard). Working from a sparkling script by Nick Hornby, director Lone Scherfig creates a rich portrait of free-spiritedness in stuffy Britain before the sexual revolution. Buoyed by Sarsgaard's slippery charm and an impeccable supporting cast led by Alfred Molina, Mulligan graduates to the big time with a star-making performance.

7. "(500) Days of Summer" — What guy could resist a woman who thinks "Octopus's Garden" is the Beatles' best song and declares that sexual gymnastics in a porn video look "pretty doable"? Zooey Deschanel bewitches as the dream woman of a lonely romantic (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the "3rd Rock From the Sun" co-star who reveals depths his sitcom never plumbed). First-time director Marc Webb's clever rewind, fast-forward style and enchanting fantasy moments capture the soaring highs and miserable lows of that thing called love.

8. "Passing Strange" — Spike Lee oversees a blast of stage energy, his filmed version of the Broadway show so up-close and intimate that the players' sweat practically drips onto the audiences' lap. Musician Stew is the big-voiced master of ceremonies for his play, whose final performances Lee filmed to craft the movie. The small cast leaps seamlessly through multiple roles as they trace an artistic young black man's journey to find his creative soul with grand humor, deep insight and songs that truly rock.

9. "Anvil: The Story of Anvil" — THIS is Spinal Tap. Rob Reiner's mockumentary about a band's hapless struggle to regain past glory has a real-life counterpart in Sacha Gervasi's documentary about metal band Anvil. It's a fantastic chronicle of the fraternity and enmity of close friendship as singer Steve "Lips" Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner (really, that's his name) toil on nearly 30 years after an early brush with success. Whether or not you think Anvil's music is art, this portrait of the artistic spirit is not to be missed.

10. "The Damned United" — Michael Sheen cops an ego the size of Montana as British soccer coach Brian Clough during his short, disastrous tenure with Leeds United in the 1970s. Sheen is a marvel of hubris as the new cock of the walk trying to erase — and sully — the memory of his predecessor (Colm Meaney). With Timothy Spall providing the heart as Clough's underappreciated deputy and Sheen providing everything else, director Tom Hooper lovingly presents a friendship that somehow survives the most self-destructive brazenness.

___

AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire:

1. "Moon" — The year's best film upends your expectations about science fiction and repeatedly surprises you. Melancholy and mesmerizing, equal parts mystery and character drama, it keeps you guessing until the end. The intelligent, assured debut from director Duncan Jones harkens to the fundamentals of the genre, in which people and provocative ideas mattered more than splashy effects. Sam Rockwell gives a subtle yet powerful performance, doing double duty as an astronaut working on the moon and a younger, fitter version of himself. Clint Mansell's haunting score fits the beautifully bare-bones visuals.

2. "An Education" — Carey Mulligan is radiant as Jenny, a curious, clever teenager in 1961 London who gets whisked away to an exciting new life by a glamorous and much older man (Peter Sarsgaard). Director Lone Scherfig and writer Nick Hornby find just the right touch here with some tricky material. The challenge: how to make this man, and this ill-advised relationship, seem thrilling rather than creepy? Through Jenny's eyes, we get caught up in the excitement, too, but as bystanders we know it can't last. That gives "An Education" an inescapable tension.

3. "The Hurt Locker" — Director Kathryn Bigelow's film is by far the most effective yet on the Iraq war, but its insights and reach extend beyond what's happened there over the past several years. Jeremy Renner dazzles as the swaggering sergeant on an elite U.S. Army bomb squad. The other members of his team (Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty, both solid) don't quite know what to make of him; he might be a genius at his job, an egomaniacal show-off or a little bit of both. The script from journalist Mark Boal, who spent time embedded with this kind of bomb squad, presents him as a fascinating but always believable jumble of contradictions.

4. "Up" — The title is deceptively simple, which is fitting, because the latest achievement from Pixar Animation is deeper and more complex on every level than it would initially appear. It's a classic B-movie exotic adventure, but it's told through the most high-tech, gorgeous 3-D animation. It's a mismatched buddy comedy, but the buddies are a curmudgeonly 78-year-old man (voiced by Ed Asner) and a tubby 8-year-old boy (Jordan Nagai) — who wind up together in a flying house, traveling to South America. Between the richness of the characters, the meatiness of their interaction and the authenticity of the details, it doesn't take long to forget that "Up" is a cartoon and become immersed.

5. "District 9" — An intense, intelligent, well-crafted action movie — one that dazzles the eye with seamless special effects but also makes you think without preaching. Like "Moon," it has the aesthetic trappings of science fiction, but first feature from commercial and music-video director Neill Blomkamp is really more of a character drama. Aliens who arrived in their spaceship more than 20 years ago have now been quarantined in cramped and dangerous South African slums; the nerdy bureaucrat charged with moving them to new quarters (the tremendous Sharlto Copley) is transformed in the process.

6. "A Serious Man" — The Coen brothers' most personal film yet ties together some of their frequent themes: The universe is random, it gives you insurmountable challenges, and there's nothing you can do about it. They're clearly having a little fun in making life so difficult for the nebbishy Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), a physics professor raising his family in a predominantly Jewish suburb of Minneapolis in 1967. Watching and wondering how and when he'll snap provides laughs, but also a mounting sense of unease, and it should provoke lengthy debate about the nature of faith.

7. "Fantastic Mr. Fox" — With its deadpan humor and minute details, this is a Wes Anderson movie through and through. But it's also crammed with the kind of heart and humanity that have been missing from the director's most recent offerings. That's ironic, given that Anderson's latest is a stop-motion animation version of Roald Dahl's illustrated children's book about wily foxes. George Clooney's smooth voice work is as good as his starring performance in "Up in the Air," with Meryl Streep and Anderson pals Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman all excellent in supporting parts.

8. "Sugar" — In telling the story of a Dominican pitcher rising through baseball's ranks, writing-directing partners Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck have taken an overly familiar, potentially cliched sports story, stripped it down and, in doing so, completely reinvented it. The filmmakers take the same no-nonsense approach they used with "Half Nelson," their 2006 feature debut, and their gimmick-free storytelling only makes the trajectory of Miguel "Sugar" Santos seem more dramatic. But "Sugar" is also about immigration and, more universally, finding your place in the world.

9. "Passing Strange" — It's easy to see why Spike Lee was drawn to Stew, the one-named musician and mastermind behind the Broadway production "Passing Strange." Like Lee, the artist formerly known as Mark Stewart possesses a powerful and singular voice, one he uses to express vividly his own experience of growing up black in America. In bringing Stew's Tony-winning musical to the screen, Lee took the wise and uncharacteristic step of staying out of the way. The crisp, intimate result makes you feel as if you're on stage with Stew and his formidable cast.

10. "Drag Me to Hell" — Sam Raimi takes all the technological tricks he picked up while directing the blockbuster "Spider-Man" franchise and applies them to the horror genre he loves, the one he made his name with decades ago. But typical of Raimi (and his brother Ivan) and their cheeky sense of humor, this story of an innocent bank loan officer (Alison Lohman) under a gypsy's curse is packed with absurd images and twists. You'll squirm, you'll scream, you'll laugh your butt off and beg for more.

AP critics pick the decade's best films

my favorite AP critics have released their respective selections for the ten best films of the decade --- and what a delightful list!

some of the movies on their lists are what i would also put should i come up with my own list. but what i really like about their lists is that it only covers hollywood. excluded are fancy, obscure arthouse picks that some critics only put on their lists hoping that it would add some level of authority to their rather tepid selection --- hahaha! the art of snobbery! hmp!

here are their lists:

***

The top 10 films of the decade, according to AP Movie Writer David Germain:

1. "Pan's Labyrinth" (No. 1 for 2006) — Writer-director Guillermo del Toro presents a wondrous hybrid of stark historical drama and wildly inventive fantasy in this saga of a girl (Ivana Baquero) whose encounter with an ancient forest spirit offers escape from her bleak life in 1944 Fascist Spain. The chilling images are as fanciful as anything Terry Gilliam's ever dreamed up, and the film offers a marvelously ambiguous finale that could be the downer of the year — or pure bliss.

2. "You Can Count On Me" (No. 1 for 2000) — The perfect script meets the perfect cast. Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan captures the essence of sibling unity and disharmony in a taut comic drama propelled by tremendous performances from Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo. This small-budget Sundance prize winner is wistful, hopeful, celebratory and hauntingly sad all at once. On screen, family matters don't get more exquisite than this.

3. "The Barbarian Invasions" (No. 1 for 2003) — Sentiment and cynicism in perfect blend. Writer-director Denys Arcand crafts a sly sketch of intellectuals who've grown emotionally jaundiced by trying times yet still throw a whale of a party, in this case, for a dying pal (Remy Girard). His reconciliation with an estranged son (Stephane Rousseau) and final farewell to loved ones is heartbreaking, while Marie-Josee Croze brings a sublime damaged-goods grace as a junkie who scores heroin to ease the dying man's pain.

4. "Once" (No. 2 for 2007) — This may be as real as new love gets on screen: Awkward, inspiring, nervous, hopeful, passionate, impossible, frustrating, and in the end, left in limbo for another day. The micro-budgeted tale from writer-director John Carney stars two non-actors, musicians Glen Hansard as an Irish busker and Marketa Irglova as an Eastern European immigrant. They meet, fall head over heels and, literally, make beautiful, Academy Award-winning music together.

5. "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (No. 7 for 2000) — A Klan rally that resembles the march of the Wicked Witch's guards in "The Wizard of Oz"? Must be the Coen brothers. Their Depression-era take on "The Odyssey" is a Looney Tunes successor to "Sullivan's Travels" that lets George Clooney go deliriously over the top as leader of a Three Stooges-style trio hilariously rounded out by John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson. With T Bone Burnett as maestro, the savory songs brought on a roots-music revival that continues today.

6. "The Hurt Locker" (No. 1 for 2009) — The first great Iraq War film proves so universal that it can stand among the classics from past wars. Director Kathryn Bigelow drops viewers in at ground zero for a disturbingly close and claustrophobic look at the strains of disabling bombs for a living. Ably supported by Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty, Jeremy Renner is fierce, slow, frightening and tragic as a sergeant so addicted to the adrenaline rush of defusing explosives that he can no longer conceive of another way of life.

7. "The Saddest Music in the World" (No. 1 for 2004) — Filmmaker Guy Maddin spins a blissfully twisted tale of a legless Depression-era beer baroness (Isabella Rossellini) who stages a contest to find the world's gloomiest tunes, and a can-do American (Mark McKinney) determined to win the prize for the Yanks. The distorted black-and-white images and demented music perfectly complement Maddin's absurdist tone.

8. "WALL-E" (No. 2 for 2008) — If we all had this plucky little robot's work ethic, we wouldn't have fallen into a recession. The animation masters at Pixar have delivered a true innovation, a robot love story tucked in a cautionary environmental tale wrapped in a sci-fi saga, with romantic leads who communicate adorably in mechanical beeps and squeals. The title character of Andrew Stanton's adventure is beyond endearing as he toils alone to clean up filthy old Earth after everybody else has left.

9. "Adaptation" (No. 1 for 2002) — "Being John Malkovich" writer Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze succeed splendidly in creating a film about absolutely everything. Their tall tale of an insecure screenwriter is a spot-on rendering of artist self-loathing, and through cryptic philosophizing becomes a universal story on adapting to life. Nicolas Cage is at his best since "Leaving Las Vegas," with great support from Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper.

10. "Moulin Rouge" (No. 1 for 2001) — Sting's "Roxanne" as an ominous tango? This IS the reinvention of the Hollywood musical. As director Baz Luhrmann notes of heroine Nicole Kidman, "She sings, she dances, she dies. ... She's broad comedy and high tragedy." Kidman and co-star Ewan McGregor are corny, endearing, passionate and doomed in this dazzling pop-tune grab-bag that busts up the joint by tossing all musical conventions out the door.

___

AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire:

1. "No Country for Old Men" (No. 1 for 2007) — This breathtaking saga of crime and carnage along the Rio Grande emerges as the Coen brothers' masterwork among their bold and eclectic filmography. In adapting Cormac McCarthy's novel about the repercussions of a ruined drug deal, Joel and Ethan Coen (and the great cinematographer Roger Deakins) have created an evocative, beautifully bleak landscape. Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones both give subtly powerful performances, but Javier Bardem is chilling in his Oscar-winning supporting turn as an eccentric serial killer.

2. "There Will Be Blood" (No. 6 for 2007) — An inventively gorgeous yet wildly weird epic about greed, lies, manipulation and insanity, with a terrifying leading performance from Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis as a ruthless California oil man. Except for its inescapable intensity, you'd never know this was a Paul Thomas Anderson movie. All his usual stylistic tricks are gone; the "Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia" director seems more focused on character and storytelling, and he leaves you gasping.

3. "American Splendor" (No. 1 for 2003) — A film unlike any other that year, and perhaps unlike any other, period. Wildly ambitious and imaginative, and consistently successful. Part feature and part documentary with some animation tossed in, the story of cranky comic book writer Harvey Pekar is full of sharp comic observations. As Pekar, Paul Giamatti is vividly funny and sad, usually at the same time.

4. "Far From Heaven" (No. 1 for 2002) — This would have been one of the best films of 2002 based solely on its exquisite cinematography and production design. Add Julianne Moore's complex performance and writer-director Todd Haynes' keenly observant script, both Oscar-nominated, and you have a movie that's nearly flawless. Haynes' loving homage to the Technicolor female-driven melodramas of the 1950s looks and feels so authentic, it makes you forget you're watching a new movie.

5. "Sideways" (No. 1 for 2004) — Also starring Paul Giamatti, further proving that beneath his character-actor looks lie the talent and versatility of a leading man. Disarmingly written and beautifully cast, with equal amounts of humor and heart, Alexander Payne's middle-aged, coming-of-age tale of loneliness, love of wine and unlikely relationships resonates long after the lights go up. Superb supporting work from Virginia Madsen, Thomas Haden Church and Sandra Oh.

6. "Memento" (No. 3 for 2001) — Told backward, writer-director Christopher Nolan's revenge thriller leaves you reeling over what you just saw — or didn't see. Its narrative approach is ingenious (and turned out to be hugely influential), and it must have been incredibly hard to craft and make all the details fit. As a man seeking revenge for his wife's murder, Guy Pearce is dark and tormented. And in supporting roles, Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano are perfectly mysterious.

7. "Mystic River" (No. 7 for 2003) — A modern-day Shakespearean tragedy, this is one of Clint Eastwood's best ever as director, more haunting over time than even his 2004 best-picture winner, "Million Dollar Baby." A gripping, gorgeous film about revenge, friendship and lost innocence in a richly detailed Boston setting. Excellent performances from an incredible cast: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Marcia Gay Harden and Laura Linney.

8. "The Squid and the Whale" (No. 1 for 2005) — There isn't a false note in this darkly funny story about married writers who are divorcing, and how the split affects their sons. Writer-director Noah Baumbach's film, loosely based on his own '80s adolescence in Brooklyn, is poignant and observant, hilarious and achingly sad. Jeff Daniels is perfect as the pompous patriarch whose glory days have long since passed; he gets excellent support from Laura Linney as his wife and Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline as their confused kids.

9. "WALL-E" (No. 5 for 2008) — Pixar's masterpiece. The animation company maintains its impeccable track record with this irresistible, visually marvelous tale of the last robot on Earth. It's groundbreaking in its simplicity. Although the little guy and his lady love, Eve, exchange maybe three words total, director Andrew Stanton is resourceful enough to find infinite ways for them to express themselves.

10. "Wonder Boys" (No. 10 for 2000) — Michael Douglas shines in the unlikely role of an English professor and novelist who's stuck, personally and professionally. The acting is categorically strong from a talented ensemble cast, especially Robert Downey Jr. The dialogue is insightful, the characters feel achingly real, and although the story takes place over a wild weekend, the situations never seem forced in director Curtis Hanson's hands. It's one to stop and watch every time it comes on TV.

bill o'reilly got this coming!

i hate it when people can diss others and not have the stomach to be at the receiving end of it. bill o'reilly is one example.

here's an interesting story circulating in the internet on how bill is supposedly upset on how he was characterized in a show that is essentially fictional! haha! let him who has no sin cast the first stone, will someone remind the guy this!!!

***

Bill O'Reilly lashes out at 'Law & Order' executive producer
1 hr 25 mins ago

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly lashed out at "Law & Order" franchise creator/executive producer Dick Wolf Thursday night. The bombastic host, upset over how he was recently characterized on the long-running NBC drama, called the "far left" Wolf a "despicable human being" whose show is "out of control."

Sparking O'Reilly's ire was an episode of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" that aired earlier in the week, in which a crazed anti-immigration activist set out to murder the children of illegal immigrants. In one scene, a character named Randall Carver, played by veteran actor John Larroquette, is sitting on a park bench talking to Fin, the detective played by Ice-T.

In defending the actions of the man who killed the immigrants’ children, Larroquette's character says, "Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, all of 'em, they are like a cancer spreading ignorance and hate...They've convinced folks that immigrants are the problem, not corporations that fail to pay a living wage or a broken health care system..."After playing the clip of the "defamatory and outrageous" scene, O'Reilly slammed Dick Wolf as a "coward" and a "liar" before playing a montage of clips demonstrating his past defenses of "poor people who only want a better life."

O'Reilly went on to explain that his "beef" isn't with illegal immigrants themselves, but rather with the federal government for doing little to control immigration and the "violent aliens who wreak havoc once they get here."

He concluded by chastising Wolf for "distorting and exploiting" the issue of illegal immigration.When contacted by Yahoo! News, a representative for Dick Wolf said that he declined to comment on O'Reilly's verbal attack against him.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Time Magazine's 2009 Top Movies List

WHAAT!!???? No "[500] Days of Summer" on the list??? No "Bright Star"! No "An Education"!!!
Whatever! Haha

Here are their picks!

Top Female Performances

1. Mo'nique as Mary Jones in Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
2. Carey Mulligan as Jenny in An Education
3. Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon in The Lovely Bones
4. Meryl Streep as Julia Child in Julie & Julia
5. Marion Cotillard as Luisa Contini in Nine

Top Male Performances

1. Colin Firth as George in A Single Man
2. Jeremy Renner as Staff Sergeant William James in The Hurt Locker
3. George Clooney as Ryan Bingham in Up in the Air
4. Christoph Waltz as Colonel Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds
5. Michael Jackson as Michael Jackson in Michael Jackson's This Is It

Top 10 Movies

1. The Princess and the Frog
2. Up
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox
4. The Hurt Locker
5. Up in the Air
6. The White Ribbon
7. A Single Man
8. Of Time and the City
9. District 9
10. Thirst

Monday, December 07, 2009

DC Film Critics Announces 2009 Film Picks

Press Release

Washington DC — The Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) today announced their 2009 winners, awarding Best Film to Up in the Air. The film's star, George Clooney, took home the Best Actor award, his second win (Michael Clayton, 2007). In a WAFCA first, Kathryn Bigelow took home the prize for Best Director for the Iraq War film, The Hurt Locker, the first woman to do so.

Relative newcomer Carey Mulligan took home the Best Actress award for An Education, while what many considered the only locks of the season — the Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories — went to Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) and Mo'Nique (Precious), respectively. Precious also walked away with the Best Breakthrough Performance for first-time actress Gabourey Sidibe.

"We are thrilled with these results," said Tim Gordon, president of WAFCA. "As with every year, there were consensus favorites as well as surprises that both stunned and delighted us. In a year full of as many great films as this one, things are always…up in the air!"

In other categories, Sheldon Turner and two-time winner Jason Reitman (2006's Thank You for Smoking) won Best Adapted Screenplay for Up in the Air.Thank You For Smoking. --> Quentin Tarantino won Best Original Screenplay for his heavily lauded Inglourious Basterds. Up snagged the Best Animated Film award, the fourth WAFCA win for the Disney/Pixar juggernaut. Best foreign film went to the immigration drama Sin Nombre, and Best Documentary went to Food, Inc.

The Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association is comprised of 48 DC-VA-MD-based film critics from television, radio, print and the Internet. Voting was conducted from December 4 - 5, 2009.


Best Film:Up in the Air Paramount
Best Director:Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Best Actor:George Clooney (Up in the Air)
Best Actress:Carey Mulligan (An Education)
Best Supporting Actor:Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Best Supporting Actress:Mo'Nique (Precious)
Best Ensemble:The Hurt Locker Summit Entertainment
Best Breakthrough Performance:Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)
Best Screenplay, Adapted:Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air)
Best Screenplay, Original:Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
Best Animated Film:Up Walt Disney & Pixar
Best Foreign Film:Sin Nombre Focus Features
Best Documentary:Food, Inc. Magnolia
Best Art Direction:Nine The Weinstein Company

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Golden Satellite Award Nominations!

Actress In A Motion Picture, Drama
Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria
Abbie Cornish, Bright Star
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Shohreh Aghdashloo, The Stoning of Soraya M.
Catalina Saavedra, The Maid
Penélope Cruz, Broken Embraces

Actor In A Motion Picture, Drama
Johnny Depp, Public Enemies
Hugh Dancy, Adam
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Michael Sheen, The Damned United
Colin Firth, A Single Man

Actress In A Motion Picture, Comedy Or Musical
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
Zooey Deschanel, (500) Days of Summer
Katherine Heigl, The Ugly Truth
Sandra Bullock, The Proposal
Marion Cotillard, Nine

Actor In A Motion Picture, Comedy Or Musical
Daniel Day-Lewis, Nine
Bradley Cooper, The Hangover
Matt Damon, The Informant!
Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man
George Clooney, Up in the Air

Actress In A Supporting Role
Emily Blunt, Sunshine Cleaning
Mozhan Marnò, The Stoning of Soraya M.
Mo'nique, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Penélope Cruz, Nine

Actor In A Supporting Role
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Alfred Molina, An Education
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
James McAvoy, The Last Station
Timothy Spall, The Damned United

Motion Picture, Drama
The Hurt Locker
Bright Star
An Education
The Messenger
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
The Stoning of Soraya M.

Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Julie & Julia
The Informant!
A Serious Man
It’s Complicated
Up in the Air
Nine

Motion Picture, Foreign Language Film
Red Cliff, China
The Maid, Chile
The White Ribbon, Germany
Broken Embraces , Spain
I Killed My Mother, Canada
Winter in Wartime, Netherlands

Motion Picture, Animated Or Mixed Media
Up
Where the Wild Things Are
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Princess and the Frog
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Annie Noms Announced!

`Up,' `Princess,' `Fox' vie for Annie top prize
AP News

The travel adventure "Up," the musical fairy tale "The Princess and the Frog" and the storybook adaptations "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" are competing for top honors at the Annie Awards.

Also in the running for best animated feature are the dark family tale "Coraline" and the Irish adventure "The Secret of Kells."

"The Princess and the Frog" has a leading eight nominations, including three of the five slots for individual character animation, and two of the five slots for voice acting for co-stars Jen Cody and Jennifer Lewis.

Winners for the awards from the International Animated Film Society will be announced at a ceremony Feb. 6.

500 Days of Summer, Precious lead Independent Spirit Nominations

`Precious,' `Last Station' lead Spirit Award noms
By David Germain, AP

LOS ANGELES – The urban drama "Precious" and the Leo Tolstoy period piece "The Last Station" each earned a leading five nominations Tuesday for the Spirit Awards honoring independent film.

The two acclaimed movies will compete for best feature film with the romance "500 Days of Summer" and the immigrant dramas "Amreeka" and "Sin Nombre."

"Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' by Sapphire" also earned a best-actress nomination for newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, who plays an illiterate Harlem teen rising above a life of incest and abuse, and a supporting-actress slot for Mo'Nique, who plays her mother. The movie also grabbed honors for director Lee Daniels and screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher.

Helen Mirren had a best-actress nomination for her role as Tolstoy's wife in "The Last Station," while Christopher Plummer earned a supporting-actor honor as the aging Russian author in the drama centered on a struggle over his estate. Filmmaker Michael Hoffman received directing and screenplay nominations for "Last Station."

The Spirit Awards will be presented March 5, two days before the Academy Awards, in a ceremony airing on the Independent Film Channel.

Though many low-budget films competing for Spirit Awards never gain traction for the Oscars, notable contenders often go on to earn nominations for Hollywood's top honors. Last year's acting contenders for the Spirit Awards included eventual best-actor Oscar winner Sean Penn for "Milk," along with Oscar nominees Mickey Rourke for "The Wrestler," Anne Hathaway for "Rachel Getting Married" and Melissa Leo for "Frozen River."

Absent from this year's Spirit Awards nominations is the acclaimed Iraq War drama "The Hurt Locker," which was eligible for those prizes last year. Because it was released theatrically this year, it is eligible for the 2009 Oscars, whose nominations come out Feb. 2.

For best actress, Mirren and Sidibe are up against Nisreen Faour for "Amreeka," Maria Bello for the romantic thriller "Downloading Nancy," and Gwyneth Paltrow for the dark romance "Two Lovers."

Nominated for best actor were Jeff Bridges in the country-music tale "Crazy Heart," Colin Firth in the 1960s gay drama "A Single Man," Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "500 Days of Summer," Souleymane Sy Savane for the buddy drama "Goodbye Solo," and Adam Scott for the sibling story "The Vicious Kind."

The war-on-terror drama "The Messenger" ran second with four nominations, including best feature from a first-time director and supporting-acting slots for Samantha Morton and Woody Harrelson. "The Messenger" star Ben Foster was overlooked for a nomination for his acclaimed performance as an Iraq War hero assigned to notify next-of-kin about soldiers' deaths.

Also nominated for best first feature is the horror sensation "Paranormal Activity," which was shot for just $15,000 and has taken in more than $100 million at the box office.

Joel and Ethan Coen's "A Serious Man," about a Midwest Jewish academic in the 1960s who is beset with career and family troubles, was chosen to receive the Robert Altman Award honoring a film's director, casting director and ensemble of actors.

The Coens also earned a directing nomination for "A Serious Man."

Presented by the cinema group Film Independent, the Spirit Awards honor movies that cost less than $20 million to make, with a significant part of their budget originating from outside the Hollywood studio system. Other criteria for nominations include films' originality and provocative subject matter.

"Hurt Locker" wins first best pic award of the season!

`The Hurt Locker' wins best pic at Gotham Awards
from Associated Press

"The Hurt Locker" has won for best feature at the 19th annual Gotham Independent Film Awards.

The award for Kathryn Bigelow's film about a bomb squad in Iraq was presented Monday evening at a ceremony in New York. The film also won for best ensemble performance.

The Gothams named "Food, Inc." the best documentary. Robert Siegel, the writer-director of "Big Fan," won for breakthrough director.

Catalina Saavedra won the breakthrough actor award for her performance in "The Maid." And "You Won't Miss Me" was chosen as the "best film not playing at a theater near you."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

my interview with korean superstar rain

here's the text of my story published in the philippine star containing my interview with korean pop superstar rain.

***

When it Rain(s), it really pours
By Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent

MANILA, Philippines - Rain (whose real name is Jung Ji Hoon, lead star of Full House which will soon air its Filipino adaptation on GMA 7) walked into the little corner assigned to us for the round-table interviews inside the famous Yamashiro restaurant, which sits on top of the Hollywood Hills, with a big smile on his face and an English interpreter in tow. He was holding in his hands his watch and his bracelet. “I love bling-bling,” he said. We asked him why he wasn’t wearing them and he said because it was heavy.

The Korean superstar is in town to promote his first major Hollywood movie after doing a bit part in the movie Speed Racer two years ago.

The Philippine Star met with him over the weekend for the junket of Warner Bros.’ latest film Ninja Assassin, a bloody and violent film that puts to shame some of the most violent films ever made (that’s not counting the recent spate of mindless gory horror movies, of course!) in Hollywood. The movie feels like watching a blockbuster video game only that this one is live-action and way more visually arresting and exciting. The fight scenes are choreographed like a ballet only that the props are the flying limbs and the sputtering of blood from everywhere. The screening this writer attended ended with a loud cheer from the audience.

Tall, handsome, and charismatic (he kept referring to his publicist as “my sexy publicist”), the actor made the lady journalist from Spain exclaim that he looked like he was only 21 years old. Rain is 27. He now wears his hair short and looked very lean — thanks to a diet of chicken breasts, vegetables, salmon, and white eggs. He also had to endure rigorous and punishing training for eight months!

“I hate martial arts!” he joked. “I had to make my body fit like Bruce Lee. I trained for eight months, five days a week for eight hours a day — it was horrible! I learned a lot of martial arts and learned how to use the chain.” The actor had a stunt double who said that Rain easily coped with the training regimen and even helped in setting up some of his fight sequences. To show the strength that he gained from the training, there is a scene in the movie where he does a standing up push-up — on a bed of nails, at that!

Asked if there were any instances that he didn’t feel like training because his body was hurting and he didn’t want to carry on, Rain replied, “No, it’s my big opportunity… I wanted to focus on the film so I did my best. Joel (Silver) is producing, the Wachowski brothers (the makers of the Matrix Trilogy) are producing, how can I say no to that?”

The actor had to give up touring and performing for almost a year to make this movie. This sacrifice he said was necessary because he always wanted to work in Hollywood . “My role model is Al Pacino. He is my hero and I love Scarface — it is my favorite.”

But if he can have his choice, he’d like to work with Megan Fox. “I love Megan. She’s lovely.” The sultry actress was quoted to have once said: “There’s this Korean Justin Timberlake named Rain, and I’m really in his situation now. I’m trying to fix this up. I’m working hard.” Whatever she meant by it, tabloids picked it up and proclaimed that Megan has a crush on the singer.

Rain portrays a ninja assassin who is being hunted by his former master after defying an order to kill someone. His casting was not accidental. He didn’t have to audition for his part, either. The movie was written with him in mind. The star first got Joel Silver’s attention seven years ago in Japan when the actor caused a commotion when hordes of screaming fans stormed a hotel lobby just as the Hollywood mega producer was doing a round of movie promotion.

When Silver and the Wachowski brothers were looking for an Asian actor for a part in the Speed Racer movie, the head of Warner Bros. in Japan recommended the Korean sensation, who immediately grabbed the chance despite having a tight schedule touring Asia.

It was during the production of Speed Racer that Silver discovered Rain’s potential to crossover to Hollywood. “We were trying to find a new martial arts star and we saw Rain and saw his abilities. We designed the movie around Rain. It was designed as a movie to highlight his ability and I think that it worked and the audience will agree that he’ll have a big career.”

This huge Hollywood break for Rain is the pop star’s biggest in an otherwise already mega-successful career as a music superstar in Asia.

“I’d like to do everything: Romance, comedy, action, horror, yeah, I would definitely like to continue my career in Hollywood. Keep watching for me,” he said. And although he plans to move to L.A. eventually, he doesn’t plan on giving up his career in Asia. Rain, who still considers Seoul home, plans to divide his time between Asia and Hollywood. “I will concentrate on both because I love my fans. And Asia is a big market, and Hollywood is, too… I am going to be a superstar!” he teased.

Told that he already is a superstar, he feigned surprise and said, “Really!? Thank you! I’ll do my best in getting better.”

Rain is easily the biggest Asian sensation today. His face has graced various advertising campaigns all over the region. He is followed by screaming girls wherever he goes which has gotten so extreme that at one point a girl showed up in an airport in China proclaiming that she was carrying his son.

“This one fan claimed that she had my baby,” he recalled. “It was crazy. We were at an airport in China and it was so scary. She looked like…,” he paused and acted how the woman looked. His bodyguards had to drive the woman away. He, however, made it clear that he likes the adulation he gets from the girls. “It’s my dream!” he said in jest.

His rise to the top is something that he has always been proud of. “When I was young, my mother passed away and we were so poor but it’s because of her that I am here.” The Internet is filled with unconfirmed stories including that of a young Rain drinking from a glass of water that was later discovered to have a dead cockroach in it. “My mother is my hero. She’s my angel and she’s always here,” he said pointing to his heart.

He now considers his life comfortable. “Now, I am… just a little bit rich,” he said. “Life is comfortable.”

He credits his mentor Park Jin Young in helping him chart his impressive rise to stardom across Asia, yet he is still aiming to go higher — as high as he could possibly get.

A known workaholic, Rain sees no problem working on another martial arts movie. “I want to work with Joel again,” he said. “And I love Bruce Lee, I love Jackie (Chan), I love Jet Lee. They are my heroes. But I am so powerful, I am so fast, I am younger and I am so handsome than them,” he said then paused and smiled. “I am kidding! Please don’t tell Jackie, he’s my brother.” He said that Jackie has always been nice to him and has even given him tips on how to make it big in Hollywood. “Just do your best always,” Rain recalled Jackie telling him.

The night before our interview, Rain graced a Hollywood nightclub to promote his movie and was expectedly mobbed by a throng of young girls. “I love L.A., I love the girls,” he said.

Life after shooting the movie has been a lot of fun to the star. “No more workouts, no more chicken breasts,” he said. He has been eating lots of his favorite chocolates since filming ended but sees no problem going back to the hard workout regime he followed if he is asked again.

We ended the interview on a high note with the five other journalists from Europe all in awe of the Asian superstar!

Ninja Assassin is now showing in theaters.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

stephen king's latest book earns high marks!

here's a glowing review of stephen king's latest book "under the dome"

***

Review: Stephen King's dome yarn is among his best
By Ted Anthony, AP

By now with Stephen King, it's easy to think this is all kind of ridiculous. An invisible dome descending upon a small town in Maine? People trapped inside, trying to figure out what on Earth is going on and — as always in a Stephen King story — dying in droves?

Good Lord. Is the King of Really Heavy Books — the author who is a one-man argument for the hernia-preventing benefits of e-books — running out of viable plot devices?

This is, after all, the guy who wrote entire volumes about cell phones turning fellow citizens into ravenous zombies, about possessed and murderous 1958 Plymouths and about evil, immortal clowns who live in the sewers and prey upon children. Really, now. How much gimmickry can one writer expect us to stomach?

Those statements are all completely fair and true. Trouble is, when it comes to "Under the Dome," they're also all entirely inaccurate.

Because "Under the Dome" is one of those works of fiction that manages to be both pulp and high art, that successfully — and very improbably — captures the national zeitgeist at this particularly strange and breathless period in American history.

The town of Chester's Mill, Maine — just up the road from the equally fictional Castle Rock, home to so many of King's unsettling yarns — is minding its own business one dazzling October day when an unseen force field descends upon it, slicing in two pretty much anything that was crossing the edge of town at that moment.

What happens in ensuing days is even more unsettling. Except for Internet service and spotty cell-phone signals, the town is isolated and imprisoned in plain sight. And inside the dome, society slowly, inexorably, almost methodically begins to fall apart.

King is usually classified as a horror writer, but he is more of a chameleon than that. He's capable of shifting from genre to genre at will, particularly in his short stories. "Under the Dome," however, is such a hodgepodge of genres that it ends up transcending genre entirely, and in the best of ways. The most accurate way of characterizing it in a single line may be "Our Town" meets "Silent Spring" meets "Lord of the Flies."

For it begins becoming evident, in the usual serpentine King way, that the environment and the way we treat it have everything to do with why the dome is there and what it might mean. Coupled, of course, with some seriously non-rational things that are going on.

The chief protagonist, Dale Barbara, is a just-retired Army man who fought in Iraq and did some things he isn't entirely proud of. He has repaired to Chester's Mill as a fry cook, trying to lay low. But in the days before "Dome Day," he runs afoul of some of the local cretins and becomes persona non grata through no fault of his own. In fact, he is trying to leave town when the dome falls and narrowly escapes becoming one of its first victims.

Barbara becomes one of the focal points in the us-vs.-them panic that overtakes Chester's Mill like a slow-motion tidal wave, pushed along by the other focal point — "Big Jim" Rennie, the town boss, who is about as prosaically malevolent a character that King has ever devised and who has a no-good son to match.

What pushes "Under the Dome" forward is not so much its whodunit or whatdunit plot, though that is tighter and more well-structured than usual for a King novel, even at more than 1,000 pages. It's how the characters treat each other and react to each other as they are forced together in their Biosphere-from-hell scenario.

And why not? Chester's Mill in late 2009 is a microcosm of America at the same time, with all the angst and post-9/11 fear and suspicion of fellow citizens that pervades the entire republic. Add to that the notion of an entire society being watched and watching itself through a translucent bubble — a reality-TV metaphor if there ever was one — and you have novel as cultural document.

The end, and the resolution, are less important than the path taken to get there. As usual with King, it's all seen through a fun-house mirror. And though the requisite supernatural elements are there, the really troubling thing — as with so much in society today — is that the fun-house distortions of popular fiction are, to everyday America, more recognizable than ever.

The main reflection isn't that of Frankenstein or Dracula or the Joker or the Incredible Hulk. Instead, it looks a lot more like us. That's how Stephen King, at his best, has always been. What's really scary is that the world has caught up.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

roger corman gets an oscar!

in yet another proof that cinema is not entirely about "good" movies but about style, vision, and originality, the academy of motion picture arts and sciences announced today that roger corman, the man who stripped jane fonda in "barbarella", will receive a special honorary oscar during next year's oscar ceremonies.

here's the story from AP

***

And the Oscar goes to... B-movie king Corman
By Writer David Germain, AP Movie Writer

LOS ANGELES – Roger Corman, memorably dubbed "the Orson Welles of the Z-Movie" and "the Pope of Pop Cinema," never expected the words "Academy Award recipient" would accompany his name.

The man, whose 350 movie credits include such low-budget fare as "The Masque of the Red Death" and "X: The Man With the X-Ray Eyes," is receiving an honorary Oscar for a lifetime of achievement that includes mentoring such filmmakers as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron and Ron Howard.

Corman, 83, said he was aware the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was considering him for the honor. He felt certain he would not make the cut, though.

"I predicted that I would not win because I make low-budget films, and I felt the academy would not give an award to someone who made low-budget films. I was truly surprised when I got the call," Corman said in an interview at the offices of his production and distribution outfit, New Horizons Pictures.

Corman does not just make low-budget movies. He's a maestro at it, creating plenty of schlock with titles such as "Night Call Nurses" and "Galaxy of Terror" but also cult hits with staying power. Among his productions are "Death Race 2000" and "The Little Shop of Horrors," shot in just over two days for $30,000, featuring a young Jack Nicholson and a creepy, campy story line that later spawned a stage show and Hollywood musical remake.

Along with Nicholson, those who got acting breaks from Corman include Robert De Niro (1970's "Bloody Mama"), Charles Bronson (1958's "Machine-Gun Kelly") and Sylvester Stallone (1975's "Capone" and "Death Race 2000").

Corman is receiving his award at a ceremony Saturday along with fellow honorary Oscar recipients Lauren Bacall and cinematographer Gordon Willis.

Keeping budgets tiny and shooting quickly, Corman has made a profitable career defying the Hollywood maxim that you never put your own money into a movie. He still finances his own films so he can make them his way, without interference from studio backers.

His memoir is titled "How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime" — though the book's title is wrong on both counts, Corman said. He's made far more movies, and he acknowledges a few have lost money.

Sex and violence sells many of Corman's movies, but he also has peddled social commentary — racism with 1962's "The Intruder" starring William Shatner, and mental illness with 1977's "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden."

From his initial success in the late 1950s and early '60s, Corman set out to nurture young talent.

"I'd made a little bit of money, and I felt I should invest this money, and I don't really know anything about real estate or the stock market," Corman said. "But as a young filmmaker around town, I socialized with and knew other young filmmakers, and I thought, 'I think I know the ones who are the most-talented and who haven't had their chance yet.'"

So he invested his profits in people. Corman gave early directing shots to Coppola (1963's "Dementia 13"), Scorsese (1972's "Boxcar Bertha"), Howard (1977's "Grand Theft Auto"), Jonathan Demme (1974's "Caged Heat") and Joe Dante (1978's "Piranha").

Cameron did effects work on early 1980s Corman productions such as "Battle Beyond the Stars," while others who got a start in Corman's stable include John Sayles and Peter Bogdanovich.

Corman said he's never envied his proteges for the acclaim and box-office success they achieved later.

"I've admired them and actually, I take pride in what they have done," Corman said. "I know that they all would have achieved the same level if they had never met me, but I think what I was able to do was to give them a start and help them a little bit in their careers, and I take great pride in that."

Corman himself has a distinctive awards history. His office is wall filled with Oscar nominations for foreign-language classics he distributed in the United States. Corman's former company, New World Pictures, was a U.S. home for films by Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Francois Truffaut and Akira Kurosawa.

Though he has had films at prestigious festivals such as Cannes and Venice, Corman jokes about the acclaim he's earned from lesser events.

"I'm the great winner of awards at minor film festivals," Corman said. "I've got a shelf at home filled with awards from festivals you never heard of."

Where will he put his Oscar?

"It'll go in front," Corman said.

Amanda Peet

here's another story i filed for the philippine star. this time, it's my story on hollywood actress amanda peet. the interview took place during the junket of "2012"


****
“I am not Gwyneth Paltrow — news flash!” declared Amanda Peet when told that Gwyneth doesn’t go to the grocery store. “I do not have an assistant, who else is going to the grocery store?” she asked.

Last week, The Philippine STAR met with the pretty thirty-something actress during the junket for Columbia Pictures’ newest film, 2012, the stunning doomsday epic starring her, John Cusack and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

In the movie, Amanda is Kate Curtis, a suburban housewife with two kids. She had to contend with an ex-husband and the threat of the world coming to an end. Her character literally finds out about the earth’s grim future inside a grocery store when the ground literally broke apart under her feet. This prompted the question: Would she be caught shopping at a grocery store herself?

2012 is Amanda’s first Roland Emmerich film. “I wanna tell you that it was so hard and grueling but Roland made it quite a lovely experience,” she remarked when asked how it was like making a disaster movie. “I mean I didn’t like being in the tank for a very long time and it is exactly not easy to be conjuring up emotions when you are acting opposite an X on a wall but there are other people doing much harder than I do, truthfully, right?”

Her character, indeed, has to go through a lot. The world is going to end and the filmmaker’s vision of the cataclysm is a visual extravaganza of mayhem and destruction. She has no way out!

But if Amanda will have her way, she’d rather not think about it. She has a two-year-old daughter in real life to think of before engaging in any talks about the world coming to an end. “Of course you have to think about the things that are happening in the Middle East… I live about two blocks from ground zero and I think about these things all the time but you have to get on with it, you know, thank God for Obama!”

Amanda was first introduced to the Filipino public a decade ago when Studio 23 aired a syndicated American TV series about a mismatched couple who just can’t seem to get together. The cutesy set-up about a guy named “Jill” and a girl named “Jack” immediately caught on with viewers and earned avid followers, this writer included. That sitcom was called Jack & Jill and it starred two fresh-faced Hollywood newcomers, Amanda and Ivan Sergei.

That sitcom, however, didn’t last more than two seasons. It was yanked out midway through its second season and fans did not have a chance to see what became of the two main characters’ complicated relationship. No, Amanda had no idea either how the series ended when this writer asked her. “Oh God I don’t remember… it was 10 years ago!” she said before pausing to ponder. “I don’t remember if they were together or have broken up.” Dang!

When the series was canceled, Amanda was cast in the 2000 Bruce Willis comedy The Whole Nine Yards, which she considers her biggest break. “When I got the call after I read with Bruce Willis, I got the feeling like not that I made it but that I’m making a movie with Bruce Willis!”

She has since appeared in a number of movies, most notably in the Oscar-winning Something’s Gotta Give and in Woody Allen’s Melinda & Melinda.

2012 is her third film with Cusack. “I love him so much. I will do anything to be in a John Cusack movie, I will search high and low to find him,” she said. They have previously appeared in Identity and Martian Child.

Despite having spent more than a decade in the industry, Amanda is still unsure of her stature in Hollywood.

“I get really jealous and compare myself against them,” she confided. “I am haunted by the feeling that I am just mediocre all the time. But you push on and you have moments where you have a feeling that’s very peaceful — that there’s enough room for all of us.”

“I have my gifts whatever they are and hopefully at some point, before I am 80, I get the role that I am waiting for — whatever that means. I guess I find that the older I get the more it is important not to have some kind of a singular notion about what success is and what it means to have made it or to have the recognition of your peers because...” she struggled to finish before finally saying, “I am also a mom and a wife and lots of everything!” Amanda is married to writer David Benioff.

She lamented losing plum roles in Lovely and Amazing to Brit actress Emily Mortimer and to Jennifer Connelly in Waking the Dead.

She sees something positive working in Hollywood though. Amanda confessed to still being star-struck until now. She enumerated a list of actors she would want to work with — and there is a lot! Among the actors she would love to work with, she considers working with the great Oscar-winning Emma Thompson, her biggest dream. “Emma Thompson will probably be my dream, end-of-the-word, to-die-for, just-let-me-stand-next-to-you-and-you-can-just-breathe-on-me moment!”

She also added that she was fawning like crazy in front of Catherine Keener, one of the most admired actresses in Hollywood. “I actually worked with Catherine (who is also appearing in the current blockbuster movie Where the Wild Things Are, which opens in the Philippines in February next year) and it was kind of ridiculous. I was like…” she gestured with a wide mouth awed look.

But unlike other fans, Amanda hasn’t asked for autographs from any of her favorite stars ever. She confessed, however, to having written someone a note two years ago. She did not identify who but she told us it was to another actress. “I just said ‘I love you’.”

When a writer from Russia complimented her looks, she blushed and whispered a polite thank you.

Amanda has a degree in American history but she considered becoming an actress “because I wasn’t good at anything else,” she teased. “I went to the university but when I was seven, my sister would play baseball with the boys and my mom took me to an acting class at the bottom of a church.”

Later, when she was 19, she studied with the famous Uta Hagen. That’s when she realized she wanted to pursue acting as a profession.

Amanda has recently completed filming Gulliver’s Travel with Jack Black.

2012 opens tomorrow, Nov. 13, in theaters.

Monday, November 09, 2009

'2012"

Here's a copy of my story i filed for the upcoming columbia pictures' disaster flick "2012".
*****
What if the world ends in 2012?
By Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. correspondent (The Philippine Star)

If you knew the world is going to end in 2012, what would you do?

This writer posed this question to the three leading stars of Columbia Pictures’ latest film, the riveting and breathtaking 2012, during the junket at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills over the weekend.

“I will end this interview and go to the beach,” joked John Cusack, who stars as writer Jackson Curtis out to save his family from harm and danger in the movie. He would later correct himself and shared that he would most probably welcome it by watching a very good movie.
Amanda Peet, who plays his ex-wife Kate, declined to answer but exclaimed that, “I truly try hard not to imagine it. That’s so horrible. I can’t think about that — my daughter is only two years old!”

British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who received wide critical acclaim for his performances in Dirty Pretty Things and Kinky Boots, and who plays Adrian Helmsley, the geologist who calculated the timeline of the world’s demise, offered a more introspective answer.

“It depends on a number of factors,” he began. “One would be if everybody else knew versus only a few, in which case it would be a good opportunity to travel and see all the places in the world you hadn’t seen and only later on, say the last six months, would you then figure out how to survive the thing — if there’s any possibility at all.”

Wise advice indeed!

If one wants to see all the beautiful landmarks in the world, one must hurry up because when the world ends three years from now, all these priceless treasures are going to be destroyed in spectacular fashion — if master filmmaker Roland Emmerich will have his way, that is.

2012 is an apocalyptic look at an earth finally succumbing to major environmental upheavals. It features intense and eye-popping display of state-of-the-art movie special effects and, save for the Mecca in Saudi Arabia, no major world landmark is spared.

The filmmaker behind such blockbuster epics as Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, Stargate, and Godzilla toyed with the idea of showing the destruction of Mecca but decided against it and opted to destroy the Vatican City instead. “That tells you so much about the world. You can destroy Christian symbols as much as you want but you have to keep your fingers off Islam,” director Emmerich confided.

The movie’s cataclysmic scenes are some of the scariest this writer has ever seen on cinema. For someone who lives in Los Angeles, it was a nightmare to see the destruction of the city. Think of all imaginable disasters in the world — tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, fires, entire countries going under the sea, etc. — this movie has it all!

What makes it scarier is the scientific theory supporting the movie’s premise. It utilizes the controversial Mayan prophecy that the world will come to an end on Dec. 21, 2012. The Mayans, who are noted for their precise mathematics and keen astronomical insights, devised various calendars during the golden age of their civilization. One calendar they created, which scholars call the “long count” calendar and which exactly measures the planetary alignments and its cyclical patterns, tracks every 5,126 Gregorian years and resets to zero (or the beginning of time) at the end. The current 5,126 year-period, based on the Mayan calendar, is expected to end by 2012.

On Dec. 21, 2012, another extraordinary phenomenon is expected to occur. This occurrence happens only every 26,000 years. On this date, the sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way. Mayan enthusiasts have long claimed that this rare celestial episode is proof that an earth-shattering event that will change the course of history will occur on this date.

This grim end-of-the-world scenario was the perfect setup for the $200-M movie — and the filmmakers unapologetically went all out destroying the world. “I hope and pray to God that what we are doing is not true,” writer and producer Harald Kloser pleaded. “Parts of everything are true but we kind of engineered it a little bit to make it work as a science in the film. The San Andreas Fault, the earthquakes, the planetary alignments are all true. Even the earth’s crust displacement theory, although true is still a highly questionable theory.”

2012 did offer one prediction that ultimately became true: When filming began in Canada in early 2008, the US had a white president then, but the script already had a black man for president. “The black president is not a coincidence,” Harald said. “When I wrote my first scene in the white house, the story had a woman president.” The gender was changed after Hilary Clinton lost to Barack Obama in the Iowa primary. Acclaimed actor Danny Glover plays the president.

The movie begins inauspiciously with the discovery of the earth’s core heating up in the present times (2009) and the story slowly escalates to the year 2012 when all the mayhem started taking place.

The world, as we know it, is going to end! Consider this movie a fair warning.

2012 also stars Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, and Woody Harrelson, who is so good and initially unrecognizable in another offbeat role.

The film will open Nov. 13 in theaters.

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