Monday, February 27, 2012

And The Winner Is.......

First, it was quite a night.  Billy was back.  While it was a subdued show, the intro was nice and Cirque du Soleil gave a stunning performance.  Absolutely stunning.  I wish I had a bigger television just for that.  But on to the results.

Jane did not made too many predictions while Geri did the whole kit and kaboodle.  So, Jane's results first.

Jane managed to call it right on three out of four:  Best picture, director, actor (The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius, Jean Dujardin) and blew it on Best Actress.  But, if we remember correctly, Jane noted that she did want Meryl Streep to win.  And Meryl did.

Geri predicted Best Picture, Director and Actor (The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius, Jean Dujardin) as well as Art Direction (Hugo), Foreign Language Film (A Separation), Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer, The Help), Sound Editing and Sound Mixing (Hugo) Best Animated Feature (Rango), Best Supporting Actor (Christopher Plummer, Beginner), Original Score (The Artist), Original Song (Muppet Movie), Adapted Screenplay (The Descendants), Original Screenplay (Midnight in Paris), Live Action Short (The Shore), Documentary Short (Saving Face), Animated Short )The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.  This means she only missed seven out of twenty-four which is impressive!

The remaining winners were:
Cinematography: Hugo
Costume Design: The Artist
Makeup: The Iron Lady
Film Editing: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Best Documentary (feature): Undefeated
Visual Effects: Hugo

The Artist and Hugo each won five Oscars.  I found this fitting as each of these films explored the early years of film.  Also, The Artist was markedly different from other films usually released as it was in black and white as well as (mostly) silent.  Hugo was also very different as it was in 3D and very well done.

Just another comment.  Christopher Plummer, who won Best Supporting Actor, is 82 years old.  Not bad, eh?  I wish two things, to look that good when I am 82, to get to 82, and to be that productive.  I guess that's three things.  I guess I wish four things because I also hope I can count when I get there.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Jane's Oscar Picks

It's been a tough year and I haven't seen as many movies as I should have.  Only five of the nine best picture  nominees and a pitiful amount of the other categories.  It's shameful.  I deserve twenty lashes with a wet noodle as my late husband would say.

Of the best picture nominees, I missed Warhorse, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball and Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud.  Of those four, I am very disappointed  that I haven't managed to see Moneyball or Midnight in Paris.

The remaining five are Hugo, The Descendants, The Tree of Life, The Help and The Artist.  My favorites are Hugo and The Artist.  Both films have a common theme:  the early years in film.  Both were fun to watch and different.  Quite refreshing in the individual ways.

My pick for Best Picture is The Artist.
Best Director is Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist.
Best Actor is Jean Dujardin for The Artist.
Best Actress is Viola Davis for The Help.

I haven't seen enough movies to make informed choices for any other categories.

I am secretly hoping Meryl Streep wins Best Actress for her performance but I can't honestly choose her for this as I didn't see the movie.
I am predicting The Artist to take major categories due to the major buzz and its wins at the Golden Globes.  It is a delightful movie.

Best of luck to the nominees!
Geri and I will check back after the Oscars to recap and see how we did.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Geri weighs in on the 2012 Oscars

After a very long absence attributed to working way too hard in my real life, it's time for me to offer my humble opinions on the Oscars being televised this Sunday, 2/26/12.

The Best Picture nominees this year offer something for every moviegoer and include: the artsy discussion-provoking The Tree of Life, the film baseball biopic Moneyball, the child-friendly, wonderfully fantastic Hugo, a unique perspective on the 60's as viewed through the eyes of The Help, the outstanding tribute to early films as depicted in The Artist, the wonder of literary time travel as seen in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, and then there's George Clooney in The Descendants (need I say more?). I did not see War Horse or Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. My favorites in this category include Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Help, and The Artist. I believe The Artist will win Best Picture and Michel Hazanavicius of The Artist will win Best Director.

The Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress categories include outstanding performances by some of the finest actors to grace the silver screen. I had the most difficulty choosing between George Clooney and Jean Dujardin's performances in the Best Actor category. Having said that, here are my predictions:

Best Actor - Jean Dujardin
Best Actress - Viola Davis
Best Supporting Actor - Christopher Plummer
Best Supporting Actress - Octavia Spencer

Woody Allen deserves the Original Screenplay Oscar for his delightful romp through the streets of past and present-day literary Paris in Moonlight In Paris. The creative team of Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Nash will win the Adapted Screenplay Oscar for The Descendants.

This year, I finally feel qualified to give predictions in the Live Action Short, Animated Short, and Documentary Short films. My husband and I spent a full day last Saturday at the Independent Film Channel Center in NYC and saw all the nominated films in each category. If you are ever in NYC, please visit this wonderfully artsy movie house located in Greenwich Village (it has the most comfortable movie theater seats, including sofa-like seats with movable arm-rests, in case you feel like laying down to enjoy the movie).

Live Action Short: The Shore
Animated Short: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Documetary Short: Saving Face

I have a far greater appreciation for these categories since my visit to IFC Center, and I applaud all the independent filmmakers who make movies because of their passion for film, not necessarily for monetary gain. Most of these cinematic gems are never seen by the general public and it is a shame that cinemas don't pay more attention to promoting these types of films.

Other Oscar category predictions include:

Animated Feature Film: Rango
Art Direction: Hugo
Cinematography: The Tree of Life
Costume Design: Jane Eyre (when has a period piece not won this category?)
Documentary Feature: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Film Editing: The Artist
Foreign Language Film: A Separation (Iran)
Makeup: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Music (Original Score): The Artist (even without music from Vertigo, this soundtrack is beautiful)
Music (Original Song): Man or Muppet
Sound Editing and Sound Mixing: Hugo
Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

So sit back, enjoy the Oscars on Sunday night, and please keep supporting and enjoying the movies!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Artist- Silence Can be Gold!

The Artist has been nominated for many awards and has won many.  And rightly so, as it is a refreshingly differently movie in a sea of movies that seem to reiterate the same theme or device to tell us the story.

The film starts in 1927 when movies are in the heyday of silent films.  Jean Dujardin, playing George Valentin, is a pleasure to watch.  He is that "Hollywood Star" that is happy to please his public and live up to the image.  However, it appears that his home life is less than ideal.  A lack of communication (no talking?) is the order of the day.

As part of Valentin's daily work life, a young ingenue (Berenice Bejo playing Peppy Miller) manipulates a photo opportunity with the star and her career trajectory is higher than an Apollo mission.  Unfortunately, times soon change and sound comes to the cinema.  George Valentin will not consider "talkies".  He takes on the writing, production, direction and starring in a silent movie that opens at the same time as a Peppy Miller "talking" film.  Of course, no one wants to see a silent film when one can see a "talkie".  Especially with Peppy Miller!   

Valentin makes his opinion known at his studio.  This consists mainly of studio head, played by John Goodman. Wonderfully played, I might add.  We never hear him speak a word, but we can only wish.  He has done a marvelous job, as always.

Valentin's career spirals down as does his domestic life.  Valentin descends into poverty.  He is rescued from a fire by a policeman notified by Valentin's faithful dog (I know, it's so trite but so dear) and the policeman is played by one of the Murray brothers (as in Bill Murray), and the whole scene is predictable.  Because it's a silent movie.  And it's supposed to be that way.  If it wasn't, you would feel robbed of the experience.  Peppy Miller becomes aware of Valentin's predicament and rescues him.  He thinks it is charity until she proves it is something else..... respect.  That is what makes this movie so good.

The Descendants- You can't choose your family....

I am so ambivalent about this movie..... did I really like it or did I feel manipulated?  Was it a great George Clooney performance or not?  The mainstream reviewers and Oscar nominators (obviously) think the movie was great.  I have a certain friend who I couldn't drag to see this movie under pain of death (you know who you are, as do certain other friends).  As I watched, I kept thinking about George's performance.  Not about the movie.  The movie/story was secondary.  This does not a great movie make.  For me, at least. 

I wish I could have enjoyed the movie more.  I wanted to.  I love George Clooney for his "offbeat characters".  He's great as Danny Ocean, Lyn Cassady (Men Who Stare at Goats), Michael Clayton, Harry Pfarrer (Burn After Reading) as well as Everett in Oh Brother Where Art Thou (one of my all time favorite movies and best sound tracks of all time).

Spoilers Ahead!

The story centers on a man (Matt King) who has ignored his family for the sake of his career/wealth building.  He wakes up when his wife suffers a boating accident.  At this point he needs to become the primary parent as his wife is in a coma and it becomes apparent that she will never wake up.  He raves at her that he's "the back up parent".  This is, for me at least, a very strange concept.  I have no idea what a back-up parent is.  You are a parent or you are not.  You are in your childrens' lives or not. Why else would you have children?  I could go on and on about this, but I'll stop.  You really don't need to read my screed about all this.... truly.  Plus, I'm getting way off topic here.

So, we have a story about a man whose idea of his family is being shattered upon learning the circumstances of his wife's boating accident.  It is confirmed when his older daughter tells him that she's known of her mother's infidelity for months (and, by the way, she was with the "other man" when the accident happened.  Meanwhile, this older daughter refuses to go anywhere with her father and younger sister without her friend Sid.  It turns out that Sid has lost a parent himself, but this isn't revealed until much later.   Oh, and Matt King's extended family owns the last major tract of pristine land in Hawaii and for some reason they have to make a decision about selling it due to a new law.  The family descends from early missionaries and Hawaiian Royalty.  Why they can't sell the land to the state of Hawaii for a nice amount of change to keep the land pristine is beyond me but again, this baffles me.  Oh, yeah, it's a movie.

A major part of the movie is Matt King looking for the man with whom his wife was having an affair in order to tell him that she was to be taken off life support.  It is obvious that he wants a confrontation about all this.

The movie ends nicely, as it should, given all that happens.  It is not my favorite movie of the year.  It certainly not my choice for the Best Movie of the Year.