November 30, 2007
"No Country," Small Screen

I popped in the "No Country for Old Men" DVD this evening, both as a refresher and to see how it plays on the small screen. And I have to say, it plays pretty damn well. All of the Coens' films do, actually, and somehow never lose the beauty of Roger Deakins' photography. Some of the shots in the film are so gorgeous, the lighting so specific (the one film mentioned by each of about ten top cinematographers I've been interviewing for an upcoming piece). The film is certainly a marvel of craft, if nothing else.

November 29, 2007
"Sweeney" has docked...

Alright, I'm PRETTY sure there is an embargo on any reviews. Emanuel Levy is his own beast and given his HFPA standing, will write what he wants, when he wants. The trades might jump earlier than expected, but though I haven't heard anything directly from the studio, one other person was told to hold off on commentary until Monday.

That sounds to me like the road is being paved for someone else to break first, which is fine and good, but with AICN already out there on the record, I wouldn't expect too many people to play nice. All I'll say for now is, the Best Picture race has another hole in it, and films like "No Country for Old Men," "Michael Clayton," "Into the Wild" and "The Kite Runner" really benefitted from certain revelations this week.

More, presumably, on Monday.

November 28, 2007
Langella and Plummer are longshots at best

This is the time of year where people start searching frantically for something to go against the grain, possibilities that fly in the face of "consensus." Case in point, Martin Grove's one-two punch drumming up publicity for actors Frank Langella and Christopher Plummer for "Starting Out in the Evening" and "Man in the Chair" respectively.

All due respect to Mr. Grove -- and the advocacy in those pieces is fair enough and speaks for itself -- but I popped these two films in the DVD player over the past week and found them awfully second rate.

Langella's work in "Evening" is wonderfully subdued, sure, but you don't often see something this delicate find its way to the Best Actor ballot without a flooding of the marketplace. It's a brave portrayal and, hey, Langella even offers up some frontal nudity for those curious, but it's stuff like the upcoming "Frost/Nixon," showy performances with bite, that triumph, for better or worse, over delicacy.

Plummer's work in "Chair," on the other hand, is a touch more dramatic in its showmanship. But the director of "Cyborg 2" and "Cyborg 3" is behind this effort, and that sadly tends to show. Don't get me wrong, I think Plummer should have walked away with the Best Supporting Actor trophy in 1999, but I think serious Oscar talk for him this year is a bit inflated at best.

November 26, 2007
"Charlie" Knee-jerk

"Charlie Wilson's War" is Mike Nichols on an off day. 97 minutes of keep-a-smile-on-your-face pleasantry, at best, but packing a hell of a performance from Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the film left a number of Aaron Sorkin's best lines on the cutting room floor while coming off much more impotent than one might have expected from a reading of the 145-page script that made the rounds over the past two years. It might be too easy to call it in the "Primary Colors" wheelhouse, but even that is too much of a favor to extend.

But I liked it. It's affable, says something underneath all the scars of editing and re-editing, and, like I said, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is on fire. But one is faced with a certain reality every year during the Oscar season, and that reality is, how much should we really expect from these efforts? Is a little too little? Is a lot too much? I don't know the answer, and frontrunners will be destined and annointed every time the industry builds up toward the song and dance that is the Oscars. Regardless, "Charlie" has a tougher road to hoe for Oscar than expected throughout the season. Maybe Hoffman can make it in, maybe Sorkin's adaptation can find room. I'm more positive on the former than I am on the latter, but I'm 90% sure Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts will get muscled to the outskirts of contention this time around.

But that's just one guy's opinion. I'll get to a proper review in due time, but look for reactions to land like wildfire in the next 12 hours.

November 23, 2007
Peter Jackson Sleeps Through "Beowulf"

So, here's a tale.

This past Saturday, the 17th, my friends and I trekked out to see "Beowulf" on IMAX 3-D in King of Prussia, PA.

While picking up tickets, I turned and literally, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh (and a bunch of other people) were walking by.

We were pretty late to the movie, so we star-struck followed Jackson into the theatre, where only the first two rows were left. Jackson's group took the second, ours the first.

My seat was directly in front of his. I mean, he's a personal hero of mine, so I was losing my mind. The "I Am Legend" trailer begins and we hear Fran say, "oh, Andrew shot that". Shortly into the movie, Fran leaves when their kid gets scared (and understandably so, PG-13 my ass).

Shortly after the big Beowulf and Grendel fight, we hear that oh-too-familiar sound of snoring. You can feel the surrounding audience getting a little pissed off...

Until we all realized, Peter Jackson was the one snoring. And he pretty much continued to throughout the rest of the film.

Once the movie ended and the lights came up, I nervously introduced myself to him. He shook my hand, but looked pretty beat and exhausted. I wish I had asked him how "Lovely Bones" was going, but a crowd was forming, and we decided it would be best just to leave him be.

It's just not something that happens everyday.

Did Amy Adams just win Best Actress?

I think she just might have.

Who expected the reviews for her in "Enchanted" to be so overwhelming? How many review singled her out, or even mentioned the phrase "a star is born"?

"Enchanted" will of course do lovely at the Globes (I could see James Marsden getting some much deserved love there too, after two stellar performances in both this and "Hairspray"), and Adams must be way out in front for the Best Actress comedy/musical there. Ellen Page is too new to win, Marion Cotillard's buzz has been slipping, and we'll just have to wait and see how Helena does with Sweeney (amazing, I imagine).

Amy Adams has surged at the perfect time, with the perfect kind of performance. It's the kind people just gush about, and not in a "we have to gush cuz it's a biopic" like we've had from Cottilard, but an all out adoration of Adams.

Her biggest competition is probably Christie. The new guard versus the old. It's going to be thrilling.

Also, in arguably the toughest year for Best Original Song, well, maybe ever, I think "Enchanted" may just have become the frontrunner there too.

November 22, 2007
Christian Bale is John Connor??

Holy shit?

It's AICN, but still, apparently it's a trusted source who's "never been wrong." We'll see, but that would be completely awesome. I was one of those who really dug what "Terminator 3" was doing, and God-willing, the fourth installment will work out.

November 18, 2007
What are we forgetting?

I'm just gonna throw some thoughts out there for everyone to mull on. I think there's a lot of stuff going on under the radar that's just gonna sneak up on us...

*For starters, let's talk about Amy Adams. Now, we'll probably know in a week or so how much of a shot she has, when the box office numbers come in and the reviews come out. For the time being, I think she's in the 5-10th position range. Now, "Enchanted" is prime Golden Globe material, and I'd be shocked if Adams didn't get nominated there at least. Here's something I feel like most people are forgetting: she's also in "Charlie Wilson's War," and she has a pretty great supporting role (she shares every scene she has with Hanks, for crying out loud). If "CWW" does turn out to be a big Oscar player, it's only going to strengthen Adam's push for her second nomination. "CWW" will start playing big around the same time the Globe noms start rolling out, and that might be all it takes for her to get into the top 5.

At the very least, I think we can expect/hope to see her and James Marsden performing at least one best original song nomination. I mean, how can AMPAS turn THAT up?

*Diablo Cody has Spielberg batting for her, thanks to "Tara" and everything. That could be key when it comes down to the win.

*We'd be foolish to forget all about "Grace is Gone". It's been laying pretty low under the radar for most of the season, which will probably prove to be a really smart move. With the big Eastwood push (score nom at least?), and an overdue and ready for comeback John Cusack, "Grace is Gone" could prove to not only be the "lighter" nom (by which I mean, the not-rated-R-with-buckets-of-blood fare), but also the Iraq/war film that actually does catch on with people everywhere, and AMPAS voters.

*"Persepolis" could be a big adapted screenplay contender. It could even break through in bigger ways than a lot of Animated films do. We could see it picking up multiple noms, animated, foreign, screenplay.

Again, this is all speculation. Just throwing it out there.

November 15, 2007

The number of years the editor of this site has now lived.

Happy Birthday, Kris.

November 13, 2007
Cody & Reitman Reteam!

Call me crazy, but I'm full out in love with Diablo Cody. And Jason Reitman? One of the most exciting new directors we have.

The fact that they're reteaming for the delicious sounding "Jennifer's Body" is music to my ears. Seriously, we could be looking at one of the most interesting writer-director teams in a while.

Which leads me to ask: what are some of your favorite writer-director teams? I'll start off with perhaps the most obvious: Kaufman and Jonze. Two films, two masterpieces.

And... go!

November 08, 2007
Someone pass what Coppola is smoking...

Seriously. I don't even know how to review a film like that...

And now there are 12...

The Academy has announced a dozen finalists for the Animated Feature award. Three nominees will be chosen from this lot:

“Alvin and the Chipmunks”

“Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters”

“Bee Movie”


“Meet the Robinsons”



“Shrek the Third”

“The Simpsons Movie”

“Surf’s Up”



So who will score? "Ratatouille" obviously. But I honestly feel the race for the other two nominees will be intense. "The Simpsons Movie" and "Persepolis" make sense on paper. But a TV-show-2D-animated film and an experimental French film? It's still where I'd put my bets. But we can't deny that money talks in this category, as does tradition.

November 01, 2007
Regarding 'Blood'

Now that the review is out of the way, allow me to address a few things here. And this is by no means aimed at everyone, just a few folks who seem to have misinterpreted some things.

First and foremost, it seems a Variety item regarding this film got a lot of people up in arms, their panties in a twist. I think someone out there even said I actually panned the film, when not a sign of opinion was in sight. Another note told me I was being professionally jealous, or some such nonsense, in my talk of the film’s early screening in Austin.

That’s not true at all.

My snide remarks about the review embargo had everything to do with that very decision (whether it came from Paramount Vantage, Scott Rudin or those involved with peripheral publicity – no one wants to fess up) and how frankly out of sorts it was given that there were opinionated remarks already in print. It’s a little strange to ask for an embargo amongst those circumstances, but in any case, my remarks had nothing to do with colleague’s assessments or foolish notions that I wasn’t first to see it. Seriously, folks, I didn’t see “Zodiac” until a few weeks ago. I don’t often get bent out of shape over that stuff.

Next, regarding Oscar predictions – the same sort of uninformed souls who declared my comments a “pan” went so far as to declare I hated “There Will Be Blood” because I removed it from my Oscar predictions in nearly every category.

Well, I guess the joke’s on you.

I can’t stress enough that I don’t figure in personal opinion of a film when assessing Oscar potential and only consider how I think the Academy is going to react. Sometimes I’m wrong, but never for the wrong reasons. I didn’t see “The Departed” as a Best Picture winner upon screening it last year and yet it was my favorite film of the nominated five. “No Country for Old Men” I didn’t like (sue me – I seem to be the only one), and I don't know that the Academy would go for something so desolate. I could be wrong. And finally, the best film I’ve seen in a decade, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” is predicted in two categories and is found on only one chart of ten in the major categories: Best Supporting Actor.

Anyway, that's that. The facts are the facts and I thought friend and foe alike would do well by knowing them.

They're up to it again...

Interesting coming upon Gerard's item below, but in today's "Hollywood Reporter," Paramount Vantage has included a CD containing Michael Brook's original score from "Into the Wild" (with guiter from Kaki King) as well as the four Eddie Vedder songs they're pushing for Best Original Song.

As for eligibility, there should be no concern for the reason Gerard points out, but also, this is the same kind of situation as when Yo Yo Ma, for instance, offered his cello work to the compositions of John Williams or Tan Dun.

Vantage was totally on top of things last year with the "Babel" soundtrack, and obviously, it yielded a win. I don't think Brooks' score is as likely, but it's worth noting that the campaign is on the hunt again.

"Into the Wild" Score Eligibility

Last week, there was some confusion in the comments about the eligibility of Michael Brook’s score for “Into the Wild”; I am assured the score IS in fact eligible due to the fact that he is the only composer credited on the cue sheet, which trumps the credits for purposes of eligibility. I’d say it is very much in contention in the category.