Seriously, did it have to be THAT atrocious? To see good actors like John Ortiz and serviceable ones like the guy from "Rescue Me" withering away on screen is one thing, but the screenwriters took the one thing about the first installment that sucked so bad (the Pralien) and ran with it. They churned up something worse than I could have ever expected -- and I expected pure shite as it was. Eesh...
This mini-response ran over a month ago, but I wasn't aware of an apparent review embargo until Opening day. So I'm tossing it into the firestorm today:
Rob Reiner's latest was a good film to take in the day before Thanksgiving. It does, after all, have some thematic relevance. But what you might have expected from "The Bucket List" is in fact what you get, a heavy layer of schmaltz that doesn't settle into anything that feels genuine or ultimately enjoyable, given the potential in front of the camera.
I'm not going to offer a full pan of the film, becaue it doesn't really deserve that. It's heart is in the right place and it should be a fun film for families to enjoy over the holidays, but give Justin Zackham's script over to one of the industry's many gifted "doctors," and you might have ended up with something of substance.
Morgan Freeman is business as usual. Jack Nicholson touches this or that unique note, but mainly it's just Jack being Jack. And it isn't the awards-caliber Jack we wouldn't have been out of bounds to expect. It's just not that kind of film. It's not in it's DNA to rise above a certain level of mere acceptance. But sometimes that's enough for a casual movie-goer, and so I'm sure "The Bucket List" will find an audience.
...well? This seems to be shape of this category, with two very open spots.
Personally, I'm going with Keener and Ronan, barely over Dee and Redgrave, but I'm not confident. Ronan's in a big feature (but how big after the SAG snub?) and has BFCA and Globe nods, with BAFTA likely following suit. The SAG snub remains a major problem, however, given their love of child actors. Keener seems to be the solid old standby. My major hesitation with her would be a lack of passion for her performance, which I feel is more likely to exist for Dee and Redgrave.
As for Dee and Redgrave, the two could very well be nominated. Redgrave is a legend, with her best shot at a nomination since she was last nominated with virtually no precursor citations and a tiny role in "Howard's End." The BFCA nod and the impact she has at the film's end (think William Hurt) are major plusses in her corner. But her film seems on very shaky ground and her role remains tiny.
Dee, on the other hand, could have a career-capping nomination for a film that has been performing solidly, if not overwhelmingly, this year. But her role remains relatively small, her film's fate seems uncertain and the SAG nod is her only citation to date.
I still feel MacDonald could get in if "No Country" really goes over well - but the lack of any precursor citations whatsoever is disconcerting. The Globe nod for Roberts struck me as Globe star-fucking but if they want to welcome her back, she probably shouldn't be totally ruled out either.. And then there are the longshots such as Marisa Tomei and Jennifer Jason Leigh who could surprise in a very open year.
What say you?
I finally gave in with SAG. She now has BFCA, Globe and SAG nods with BAFTA likely following suit. That's a very hard combo to crack.
In spite of this, I still feel this is not a sure thing. Diane Lane and Sean Penn excepted, critically maligned films seldom earn acting nominations. Moreover, getting re-nominated for a sequel is almost unheard of - Bing Crosby, Al Pacino and Paul Newman are the only three actors to have ever accomplished it. Does "The Golden Age" seem likely to be the vehicle for #4?
That said, I feel her competition is what is ultimately going to push Blanchett over the edge. Keira Knightley has pulled the "SAG snub but Oscar nominee" trick before but there she had a BFCA nod and was the true lead of her film; plus, she'd be VERY young to have two lead actress nominations. Amy Adams is in, well, a Disney film, the sort that would seem more likely to go to SAG before Oscar. I'd still have her in #6. Helena Bonham-Carter has received buzz secondary to Depp since the film started screening. And Laura Linney has gotten traction whatsoever. (Alas, poor Tang Wei...)
Anyone still holding out on this front? I'm curious to see where you are.
As you can tell, I have been neglecting this blog this Fall, due to matters beyond my control, and haven't really weighed in on anything not related to "Tech Support." But I have been immensely enjoying this season, especially its unpredictability.
SAG confirmed on Thursday that we only have one lock in the Best Picture category, in "No Country for Old Men." At least seven films, arguably as many as ten, are fighting for the last four slots. When is the last time we've seen such an open race after the Globes, SAG and BFCA have all announced their nominees?
I am truly lost. (Though I suspect that if Sean Penn shows up at the DGA, "Into the Wild" is looking solid.) This whole situation could be considered frustrating, but I'm honestly really enjoying it.
Am I alone on this front?
The SAG really threw me for a loop today. Things we learned:
Sweeney Todd is by no means a lock.
Atonement is by no means a front-runner.
Ryan Gosling and Viggo Mortensen seem to be a pretty safe bet for nominations (how often do actors grab a Globe and an SAG and miss out? Any stats, people?). If I had to guess, I'd say it'll wind up Lewis, Depp, Gosling, Mortensen and Clooney.
American Gangster is alive and well.
Into the Wild has the actors support in a big, big way.
The biggest surprise for me is no Juno in ensemble, but the 3:10 nom is wicked-cool.
*With the bizarre screenplay snub for "Michael Clayton," Diablo Cody certainly pushes ahead as the clear frontrunner in Best Original Screenplay.
*Big boost for Eastwood - can the Oscars even deny nominating him twice more, let alone just one?
*David Cronenberg snubbed again, despite strong love for "Eastern Promises". Shameful.
*Seven nominations? How much did the Weinsteins have to pay to see "The Great Debaters" slip in there?
*And with seven nominations, "Into the Wild" takes a huge step back. Not even Hal.
*Cate and Hoffman get two nominations. Hoffman making the cut for "The Savages" but not Linney probably ends her chances, unless SAG brings her back.
*Sweeney Todd's winning Best Comedy/Musical, but we probably all knew that.
*Best Comedy/Musical Actress has two young guns in there. Should be fun to see.
*"Atonement" has become, definitely, our big front-runner for now. You know that BAFTA will go nuts for it, as will the guilds.
UPDATED TO SAY: Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere seems to have a little bit of a vendetta against Eastern Promises, and specifically Viggo Mortensen's nomination. LAME. Mortensen, with his first nomination, gave his best performance yet, and was sadly snubbed by the Globes (and everyone) for AHOV a few years back. Viggo's nomination may be my favorite nomination of the day.
An unexpected choice but an inspired one. An extremely long and storied career worthy of this honor. It's also encouraging to see a second consecutive branch-out into the crafts categories.
And at 98, I suspect he is the oldest person to receive an Oscar, which is kind of cool.
Congrats to my old college colleague Travis Beachum, whose "Clash of the Titans" ended up on this year's "Black List" of unproduced scripts. Wait, is that a compliment? Maybe it is. Hell, at least it's making the rounds, Travis. Good luck with it.
...but apparently Warner Bros. knows how to schmooze this group. Their films are always represented all over the place, and this year is no different, with "Jesse James," "Michael Clayton" and "The Bucket List" (!!!!!????) landing in the top 10.
I love Janusz Kaminski. I love his work and I love the man. He's a hilarous, fun, singular individual. BUT, I don't think I like what's going on with "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (which should be shortened to merely "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," like "raiders of the Lost Ark," let 'em catch up -- but that's another matter).
Judging by the few stills we have from the film right now, it looks like the film is a bit too sleek, like SPielberg's Kaminski collaborations over the past decade, rather than any thing resembling the look Doug Slocombe put into the trilogy in the 80s. The "Indy" films were the only efforts Spielberg worked with Slocombe on, and there's a certain organic quality to the cinematography from one film to the next.
I have a million different problems with this film, to be quite honest, and fully expect it to come up short. The franchise should have remained in the 80s. I don't know why well enough can't be left alone, but that's just me. And these images, however "cool," are my the first real indication, to me, of an unsettling departure of sorts. We'll see.