October 31, 2007
Juno-Best Picture Winner?

As we start getting closer and closer to the big day, I can't help but feel that one film stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of general LOVE, and that's Juno.

Oscarbait pics like Atonement have their defenders, to be sure. The darker stuff, like No Country and Bloo, may be a little too dark for the Academy. Sweeney Todd and Charlie Wilson remain unseen. Into the Wild has a lot of love. No one gives a crap for In The Valley of Elah. Does anyone really love Michael Clayton, or just admire it?

But nope, Juno is making people left and right fall IN LOVE with the movie. Nevermind that Diablo Cody seems to be walking away with the Best Original Screenplay Oscar (how can she NOT win?). I'm starting to wonder if Juno has what it takes to go all the way.

We know Fox Searchlight is amazing when it comes to pushing their films. I think Little Miss Sunshine was last year's runner-up to The Departed, and there's no reason to not assume they won't mount a similarly strong campaign for Juno. And besides, in the midst of all the dark and cruel films, how can AMPAS resist a sweet, funny movie with a big heart?

October 23, 2007
Sam Riley in front of the SAG

Tonight's SAG screening of "Control" was very well received by the younger-leaning audience. I moderated the subsequent Q&A with lead actor Sam Riley, who really charmed the crowd with his mixture of honesty and insight.

A pleasant dose of light-hearted humor was what the doctor ordered following such a heavy film experience, but Riley really hit the right notes for his peers, telling the stories they like to hear and really exhibiting that "it's all happening" vibe as if it hasn't hit him yet. But it will.

A great guy - 27 years old and embarking on what could be a fantastic career. His failed former musical interests be damned. But he did write a song once called "Eating Isn't Cheating," and that just cracks me up...

October 22, 2007
Nicholson to be taken seriously

As the most nominated actor in the history of the Academy, I am shocked no one seems to be taking Jack Nicholson's latest performance in "The Bucket List" all that seriously as a best actor candidate? After being snubbed for "The Departed" when he clearly gave a superb performance, I am anxious to see Nicholson opposite Morgan Freeman for the first time in a film that could prove to be the heart warmer of the holiday season, and let's face it, Oscar likes to have his heart warmed.

If anyone can elevate the material of 'The Bucket List' it's certainly Nicholson and Freeman, who are directed by Rob Reiner who admittedly has not had a hit film for a long time, but neither has he had good material for quite some time or strong actors. Let's not forget that Reiner guided Nicholson to an Oscar nod in "A Few Good Men" fifteen years ago.

Granted the field for best actor is pretty tough this year and it looks like it is Daniel Day-Lewis' to lose but I am shcoked that no one, Kris excepted, seems to be talking Nicholson up for a nomination. He is among the greatest living actors, one of the icons of the seventies who manages to walk that line between genuine movie star and great actor. Yes I agree that far too often he allows the Jack persona to take over, but when he challenges himself, and is in turn challenged by a good director, he is capable of the extraordinary performances he gave in "About Schmidt," "The Pledge" and "Ironweed." The year he won for "As Good As It Gets" should have been Robert Duvall's for "The Apostle," but the fact is that Jack won that one on his sheer movie star appeal.

Now in fairness I could dead wrong on this but my gut feeling is telling me to watch out for this film and Nicholson's performance. He may decide to move us and when he does, he is unstoppable.

October 21, 2007

(I had a massive brain fart on this the other day and misnamed the track "Society" -- also a good song, but not the one playing at Vantage Guilds. Apologies.)

You know, no matter how overused Eddie Vedder's work seems to be in the soundtrack of "Into the Wild," these are some damn fine songs. I was just perusing the VantageGuilds.com website (the best FYC site in the land, hands down) and in the "Into the Wild" section they've got Vedder's "Guaranteed" croning. I stopped everything and just listened for a while. Wonderful music.

October 20, 2007
Vantage Guilds

Vantage Guilds official website (www.vantageguilds.com) is up and has the scripts available to it's big Oscar contenders. Most excitingly is the inclusion of the shooting draft for There Will Be Blood. Upon first look, the script is a little different than the draft I reviewed on this site not too long ago, but if anything it seems to be stronger, darker and more vicious than before.

Basically, we're talking all time classic potential here, folks. And now you can judge for yourself.


I finally caught up with "Control" yesterday at the DGA, and man, what a grand slam performance from Sam Riley. Any fan of Joy Division is going to let the more-derivative-than-most-seem-to-allow work from Anton Corbijn roll off their back, but at the same time, Corbijn injects a level of style into this thing that is really beautiful. Riley also digs into this character with so much ferocity that I'm not sure I was watching an actor, so much as a vessel. And that "Dead Souls" sequence was fan-fucking-tastic.

Good show all around. Samantha Morton is someone to watch for a nomination if the Weinsteins get a major campaign off the ground. Especially given the weakness of the category.

Looking forward to moderating a Q&A with Riley on Monday for the SAG. Brave, daring, awesome performance.

October 15, 2007
Addendum to Monday's Oscar column...

I neglected to mention Jack Nicholson, who is generating real steam for what promises to be a heart-string-tugging performance in "The Bucket List." Alas, it matters not, because with three Oscars to his credit, Jack will settle for perennial nominee status until he knocks something out of the park and it is considered so unanimously.

October 11, 2007
Another one bites the dust?

I don't know. That was my opinion after tonight's screening of "The Kite Runner," in any case. There wasn't a short supply of people at the screening that bought into what this thing was clubbing on the nose, but to me, this film isn't the Best Picture contender it might have been with a little more restraint. I'll try to get a review up tomorrow. A star and a half review.

October 10, 2007
Predictions of a different stripe...

AFC: New England, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Houston, San Diego > New England, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville > New England, Indianapolis > NEW ENGLAND

NFC: Dallas, Green Bay, Washington, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Detroit > Dallas, Green Bay, Washington, Tampa Bay > Dallas, Green Bay > GREEN BAY

Back to the Oscars...

October 08, 2007
Dario Marianelli is going to win the Oscar walking away...

That was the best score I've heard this year, one of those musical accompaniments that almost transcends the film itself, like the work John Williams put into "Schindler's List." Simply amazing.

October 07, 2007
First look at Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson's War":

So I had to take this from a crappy quality quasi-trailer from "Entertainment Tonight," but this is the first I think I've seen of Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the new Mike Nichols film, which is set to be a big dog from Universal because it's basically what they've got to work with at this point.

I cleaned it up a little, but here's the shot:


A fantastic character that could usher Hoffman back to the race.

October 04, 2007
One word review of "Lions for Lambs" from a journo colleague...


Uh-oh. But didn't we see things heading that way?

October 02, 2007
"Lust, Caution" at the Four Seasons

I popped into Focus' junket this afternoon for two quick interviews with Joan Chen and Tang Wei to be used in a Variety piece I'm working on, and I have to say I was struck with the beauty and poise of Ms. Wei. Hers is, I believe, one of the two bravest performances of 2007 (the other being Philip Bosco in "The Savages"), and I remain over the moon for the film.

Speaking of which, Monday's Oscar column will be replaced by a clean-up column of sorts showcasing brief reviews of the bevy of films I haven't gotten to in long form as of yet. It's the only way to get on the record ASAP before the fall onslaught comes, so apologies for truncating my thoughts. But hey, some of you might be more than okay with that for a change.