Posts Tagged Oscars

Final Predictions for the 84th Academy Awards

I can’t believe it’s finally time, but alas, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces their nominations on Tuesday morning.

Best Picture

“The Artist”

“The Descendants”

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”


“Midnight in Paris”

“The Help”


The Academy has made things exciting by announcing they will nominate between 5 and 10 nominees. I think they’ll go with 7.”The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is a quasi-risky pick but I can’t ignore the power of the WGA, DGA, and PGA.”Moneyball” might miss, but it’s been that film that just always been a filler nominee all season, so I don’t expect that to change. I wouldn’t be surprised if “Bridesmaids” or “The Tree of Life” got a nomination. “Bridesmaids” has the PGA and WGA nomination, and “The Tree of Life” seems to have a really large passionate following. “Drive” did well with critics so it could also show up.

Best Director

Woody Allen…”Midnight in Paris”

David Fincher….”The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Michel Hanazavicius…”The Artist”

Alexander Payne…”The Descendants”

Martin Scorcese….”Hugo”

I’m not gonna bet against the DGA. They pretty consistently match up and are usually the most accurate precursor. Though it’s possible Tate Taylor or Terrence Malick could get in over Fincher.

Best Actor

George Clooney…”The Descendants”

Leonardo DiCaprio…”J Edgar”

Jean Dujardin…”The Artist”

Michael Fassbender…”Shame”

Brad Pitt…”Moneyball”

This category has been pretty clear for a while. I think Fassbender has peaked at the right time and will have no trouble. Dicaprio could be snubbed in favor for Belchir, but I’m pretty sure these are your 5.

Best Actress

Glenn Close…”Albert Nobbs”

Viola Davis…”The Help”

Tilda Swinton…”We Need to Talk about Kevin”

Meryl Streep….”The Iron Lady”

Michelle Williams…”My Week with Marilyn”

It really kills me to not predict a Mara/Olsen/Theron upset over one of these ladies. But predicting anything other than this line-up seems like a bad idea. If “Dragon Tattoo” does well then Mara could slide in in favor of Close.

Best Supporting Actor

Christopher Plummer…”Beginners”

Albert Brooks…”Drive”

Kenneth Branagh…”My Week with Marilyn”

Jonah Hill…”Moneyball”

Nick Nolte…”Warrior”

Strong category in terms of quality. It’s been these five for awhile now. Despite showing major strength early on, Brooks could actually be SNUBBED in favor of Armie Hammer or Max Von Syndow

Best Supporting Actress

Berenice Bejo…”The Artist”

Jessica Chastain…”The Help”

Melissa McCarthy…”Bridesmaids”

Octavia Spencer…”The Help”

Shailene Woodley…”The Descendants”

I’m kind of already regretting putting Woodley instead of Janet McTeer. I think it’ll boil down to which film the Academy likes more, clearly “The Descendants.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the Oscars do a switch on Chastain and nominate her for “The Tree of Life” or “Take Shelter” instead; it seems like something they’d do. Spencer’s the frontrunner and McCarthy has been campaigning well and has done very well at some critics awards.

Best Original Screenplay

Woody Allen….”Midnight in Paris”

Michel Hazanavicius….”The Artist”

Mike Mills…”Beginners”

Will Reiser…”50/50″

Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo…”Bridesmaids”

I think Mills for “Beginners” is my biggest guess of the season. I think people are underestimating how loved the film is outside of Plummer. I could be wrong in not predicting McCarthy for “Win/Win” of Farhadi for “A Separation.”

Best Adapted Screenpaly

Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash…”The Descendants”

Steve Zaillian…”The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Tate Taylor…”The Help”

John Logan…”Hugo”

Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, Stan Chervin…”Moneyball”

Love this line-up. Seems pretty tight. Don’t think there’s really a spoiler. Maybe “Ides of March” or “War Horse”

Best Editing

The Artist

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo




Best Cinematography

Jeff Cronenweth…”The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Emmanuel Lubezki…”Tree of Life”

Janusz Kaminski…”War Horse”

Bob Richardson…”Hugo”

Guillaume Schiffman…”The Artist”

I wouldn’t be surprised if “Drive” showed up here or “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”

I’m gonna stop there. I hope I’m wrong and this year becomes mysterious. These are of a basic observation of the season thus far. Hoping for an Elizabeth Olsen upset in Actress. Looking forward to the surprises.


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“The Descendants”

It wasn’t much more than seven years ago when Alexander Payne blew audiences away with his masterpiece “Sideways.” His witty, yet heartbreaking story, coupled with sharp and intricate dialogue won Payne the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

George Clooney in "The Descendants"

Now, Payne returns in top form with his adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings’ “The Descendants.” Payne has joined Nate Faxon and Jim Rash in this adaptation of the 2007 novel. The script isn’t perfect, but the actors do the best they can to elevate the material as much as possible.

“The Descendants” follows Matt King, a man whose wife has suffered from a boating accident and is in a coma from which she won’t wake up. King has to cope with being the “back-up parent” to his two daughters, played by Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller. Amidst the grief, Matt learns that his wife has been having an illicit affair. The family makes the journey across the islands of Hawaii to find out who this other man is, and create a unique bond along the way.

Clooney carries the film with grace and a quiet pain. His character’s journey is unique and Clooney handles every difficult emotion, from sadness to anger to anxiety, with ease. The most compelling aspect of the story is Matt’s relationship with his oldest daughter Alexandra (Woodley). Woodley handles the role far beyond her experience. The most touching and powerful scene in the film is when Matt informs Alexandra of their mother’s condition, while Alex is taking a dip in the family pool. The scene exemplifies everything Payne is trying to convey: heartbreak, the strain of a relationship, and Alex’s quiet pain.

However, there is a bit of an identity crisis. If Payne and company had stuck to the more dramatic elements of the script as opposed to forced moments of comedic relief, the film’s message would had been more effective; particularly out of place moments are a line from Miller’s character during an intense moment between Clooney and Woodley, where she yells “you got served” and the entire character of Sid (Nick Krause). Sid acted as a companion for the family during the entire film, and, more times than not, distracted from the heart of the story. His inclusion, and his relationship to Alexandra, is still a mystery to me. The story did not need to be funny, and the moments where it tried came off as awkward and unnatural. Also a subplot involving real-estate ends up playing second fiddle to the core conflict.

Payne’s films often leave  audiences with much to discuss and a better understanding of the human condition. Payne’s subtle and effective direction, coupled with the powerhouse performances from Clooney and Woodley, make “The Descendants” one of the year’s most precious gems.

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May I Kill Him?-A Review of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander-Photo Credit: Sony

“She’s different” says Stieg Larsson of his mysterious and stalwart heroine Lisbeth Salander in his wildly successful “Millennium” trilogy. Larsson’s words helped his readers capture the essence of Salander and set a near insurmountable challenge for the young actress who would have to play her in a movie one day. The ominous task of lifting Salander’s wild spirit off the pages was put in the hands of well-respected director David Fincher and newcomer Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The story follows Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), an investigate journalist recently found guilty in a libel case against the very wealthy industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. Blomkvist is chosen to investigate the disappearance of a wealthy Swedish patriarch’s grandniece Harriet, in exchange for incriminating evidence against Wennerström. Blomkvist is joined by the damaged and mysterious Lisbeth Salander (Mara) and the two begin a tumultuous and dangerous investigation.

From the moment Mara is on screen, you’re addicted to her. The way Fincher shot her first scene makes you feel the anticipation and hype surrounding her. Mara’s ghostly make-up and cold eyes intrigue you from the moment you lay your eyes on her. You begin to wonder what her story is, why and when did her she get her piercings and the large dragon tattoo wrapping around her left shoulder.

As the story begins to unfold, the sexual tension between Salander and Bloomkvist increases. The chemistry between Craig and Mara is electrifying and when the two are in a scene together, it’s though you can almost see the sex, and-dare I say-love between them. The two characters not only have an intense chemistry but also a palpable compatibility rarely seen on film. It’s as though neither would be complete without the other.

The glue that holds the film together is the staggering and brave performance from Rooney Mara. From the first moment she is onscreen to the heartbreaking look on her face in the closing shot, she is astonishing. Mara adds layers to Salander that aren’t easily detected in Larsson’s novels. In addition to perfectly portraying the tough as nails attitude, Mara also adds an intriguing layer or heartbreak and quiet sadness that makes you wonder-what has happened to this girl? Mara, pardon the cliché, literally disappears into the role and embodies every little aspect of Salander-a truly magnificent performance.

Craig leads the film more than adequately. His role is meant to be a much more subtle character than Mara’s and has a much lighter tone overall, which leads to the perfect mesh of the two. “Tattoo” is also rich with successful supporting performances from Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgaard, Robin Wright, and Joely Richardson.

The film’s success can also be attributed to the stunning direction from David Fincher. Beginning with the lavish opening sequence, you truly feel Fincher’s passion in every scene. Fincher’s direction is beautifully accompanied by the haunting score of Trent Renzor and Atticus Ross, which acts as an adhesive for a near perfect film.

Upon leaving the theatre, you may not feel the initial impact of this masterpiece. But as you continue your day you’ll begin to feel Lisbeth Salander is with you, like a friend of yours. Once she gets in, you won’t be able to get the girl with the dragon tattoo out our your head

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