2011 Oscar Predictions


WILL WIN are in bold

DID WIN are  big

MY SCORE: 18/24

despite anne hathaway's efforts and enthusiasm, the 2011 academy awards will go down as one of the worst i have ever seen. not because of who won or lost, but i'm talking the show itself.

besides the funny put-the-hosts-in-the-movies opening, there was barely a laugh or moment of excitement to be found (except when i won the pool i was in of course). the remixed songs was fun and the bob hope part was nice (although, seeing billy crystal out there to introduce it just made it more obvious what a great host he was and how anne and james just couldn't match up). but other than that the show was pretty dull.

as for my predictions: i did ok this year. 18/24 isn't bad and i did get 2/3 in the shorts categories which is where many pools are often won or lost. however, there were a few categories that, looking back, i'm not sure what i was thinking. i think i got a little too into the idea that The King's Speech wave would sweep up other categories that i missed, the now-obvious, Alice In Wonderland in art direction and costume design. and those of you who listened to the prediction episode of the podcast know how close i was to going with the winners in editing, documentary feature and foreign film (but, alas i didn't). so 18/24 it is. one better than last year and my second best showing since i started doing the podcast. how did you all do?


The King's Speech
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone
The Kids Are All Right
The Fighter


Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit

Amy Adams , The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
Christian Bale , The Fighter
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo , The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

Natalie Portman , Black Swan
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Nicole Kidman , Rabbit Hole
Michelle Williams , Blue Valentine

Javier Bardem , Biutiful
Jeff Bridges , True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth , The King's Speech
James Franco , 127 Hours

Another Year , Mike Leigh
The Fighter , Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, and Keith Dorrington
Inception , Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right , Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
The King's Speech , David Seidler

127 Hours , Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network , Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 , Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich
True Grit , Joel and Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone , Debra Granik and Anne Rossellini

In a Better World
Outside the Law

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
The King's Speech
True Grit

Black Swan
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King's Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Waste Land

Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

Andrew Weisblum, Black Swan
Pamela Martin, The Fighter
Tariq Anwar, The King's Speech
Jon Harris, 127 Hours
Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, The Social Network

Adrien Morot, Barney's Version
Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng, The Way Back
Rick Baker and Dave Elsey, The Wolfman

John Powell, How to Train Your Dragon
Hans Zimmer, Inception
Alexandre Desplat, The King's Speech
A.R. Rahman, 127 Hours
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network

“Coming Home” from Country Strong, Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
“I See the Light” from Tangled, Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
“If I Rise” from 127 Hours, Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
“We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3, Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Day & Night
The Gruffalo
Let's Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)

The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143

Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit

The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Iron Man 2

No Direction Home

YEAR: 2005

DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese

BUDGET: $2 million (estimated)

for my birthday last year my friend chrystina (some of you might know her as my co-host on the great Watch It television podcast) gave me the No Direction Home dvd. i was very happy when i got it and i added it to my dvd collection right away. however, as anyone with a large dvd collection can tell you, it is very easy for movies to get lost in there. and that is what happened with this one. recently, however, it popped its head out from the crowded shelf and caught my eye and so it was time to finally watch it.

No Direction Home is a martin scorsese directed documentary about the life and career of bob dylan. and i can say that after having watched the film i feel like i know a whole lot more about dylan and i might know him better. but i still don't know him. and i think that is the point.

in the book The Tipping Point, author malcolm gladwell at one point talks about how we define people. how it is a common tendency for us to always define people in simple and singular ways: "jack is a liar", "jane is kind", "bill is shy", "betty is stuck-up", etc... but, jack, jane, bill, betty and all of us are more than just one simple definition/characteristic. and that is where this documentary succeeds so brilliantly.

throughout his life bob dylan has been claimed by so many. the folk music scene, the anti-war movement, they have all tried to define him as one of them (just look at how angry people got when he "went electric"). but he has never wanted to be defined or felt comfortable in that role. in one clip from a press conference he is asked the question of whether he sees himself as primarily a singer or a poet and he responds by saying that he actually sees himself "more as a song and dance man." this gets a big laugh, but it is also very indicative of his real, almost animosity, towards any kind of type-casting.

to be honest, i don't know if he could even define himself. there are many moments throughout the film where dylan seems to contradict something he had said previously about his music, his lyrics, his life, the meaning behind things he has said and done, etc... at times it felt like he was just making stuff up and being contradictory on purpose.

genius, poet, shy, singer, rebel, song writer, voice of a generation, song and dance man... bob dylan is all that and more and No Direction Home is an excellent exploration of the man that will both answer questions and bring up many more - just as it should.


Ex Drummer

YEAR: 2007

WRITER: Koen Mortier (screenplay), Herman Brusselmans (novel)

DIRECTOR: Koen Mortier




dries is a famous writer. one day three losers ring his buzzer and ask him to be the drummer in their band. sounds like that could be the start of a funny, family-friendly rock and roll movie right? well, IT ISN'T! it is the start of the flemish film, Ex Drummer.

dries decides to accept their offer because he sees a great story/book in it. he sees the ability to manipulate and have fun with them as a way of generating his next work. now, while that starts to give you a sense of the dark tone of the film, a simple synopsis will not suffice or really give you any indication what you are in for when you decide to sit down and press play.

it doesn't take long to realize this isn't gonna be a "normal" film. after an opening monologue from dries we listen to him telling us about each of the three men that came to his home as we watch them in reverse moving away from his buzzer backwards along the path they took to get to his place as the credits for the film appear on various landmarks, people and items along the way.

the film straddles the line between reality and experimental cinema and it does it very well. you would think that a movie in which one of the characters lives upside down in his apartment (walks on the ceiling, while people in his place walk on the floor), and characters that die give a bloody post-death monologue/statement to the camera would have a hard time keeping itself at all grounded to any kind of reality. but, alas not. i will also tell you that you probably aren't going to like any of the characters and i don't think director koen mortier cares.

i didn't notice it the first time i watched the film, but in rewatching the opening, i noticed that the credit after the title is "an eyemotional film experience." and this pretty much sums it up. Ex Drummer is an experience.

while i do think calling it an experience is very appropriate, mortier does a great job of not letting the "experimental/experience" nature of the film and the film making to completely overpower the story. this isn't always easy to do. either the movie becomes completely form over substance or the film makers don't have the confidence in their "form" or "substance" to follow through completely and it feels half-baked on both counts. and say what you will about Ex Drummer, but there is no way one of those things you say will be "half-baked."

some things you could say though, would be: bloody, dark, violent, intelligent, gruesome, loud, sexual, disturbing and unrepentant. and just in case you skimmed the list and weren't paying attention, let me again mention bloody and violent. and this isn't hollywood violence where 30 guys get gunned down and another 20 get beat up and we sit there smiling digging into our bag of popcorn.

this is bloody, intimate and disturbing violence that confronts you in style and form. now, not all the violence in the film is that way and, if i think back over the whole movie, there really isn't a lot of it. but, the films climax - obviously the last thing i saw and so it is most on my mind - is really what i am referring to.

koen mortier is a director that had a vision for this film. a vision that is, to use an over used film critic term, uncompromising. it might be too much for some, but everyone who watches it is definitely in for an "experience." and in my opinion - a very good one.


2010 Oscar Predictions

WILL WIN are in bold 

SHOULD WIN (where i have an opinion) is underlined 

 Did Win are BIG 




MY SCORE: 17/24

well, the oscars have come and gone and i had an average go with my predictions this year. it wasn't my most impressive performance, but it wasn't awful either. where i messed up this year was with the shorts (animation, live action, documentary). normally i get at least one of those right and this time nothing. and then, missing both screenplay winners is just awful. but, i went  17/19 for the rest of the awards and a perfect on the top 6 categories which isn't bad.... so, how did you all do?

Best motion picture of the year
  • Avatar
  • The Blind Side
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • Up In the Air
Performance by an actress in a leading role
  • Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
  • Helen Mirren (The Last Station)
  • Carey Mulligan (An Education)
  • Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)
  • Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia)
Performance by an actor in a leading role
  • Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
  • George Clooney (Up In the Air)
  • Colin Firth (A Single Man)
  • Morgan Freeman (Invictus)
  • Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
  • Matt Damon (Invictus)
  • Woody Harrellson (The Messenger)
  • Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)
  • Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
  • Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
  • Penelope Cruz (Nine)
  • Vera Farmiga (Up In the Air)
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart)
  • Anna Kendrick (Up In the Air)
  • Mo'Nique (Precious)
Best animated feature film of the year
  • Coraline
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • The Secret of Kells
  • Up
Best Documentary Short Subject
  • China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
  • The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
  • The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”
  • Music by Prudence
  • Rabbit à la Berlin
Best Short Film (Animated)
  • French Roast
  • Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty
  • The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)
  • Logorama
  • A Matter of Loaf and Death
Best Short Film (Live Action)
  • The Door
  • Instead of Abracadabra
  • Kavi
  • Miracle Fish
  • The New Tenants
Achievement in art direction
  • Avatar
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
  • Nine
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Young Victoria
Achievement in cinematography
  • Avatar, Mauro Fiore
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Bruno Delbonnel
  • The Hurt Locker, Barry Ackroyd
  • Inglourious Basterds, Robert Richardson
  • The White Ribbon, Christian Berger
Achievement in costume design
  • Bright Star, Janet Patterson
  • Coco before Chanel, Catherine Leterrier
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Monique Prudhomme
  • Nine, Colleen Atwood
  • The Young Victoria, Sandy Powell
Achievement in directing
  • James Cameron (Avatar)
  • Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Lee Daniels (Precious)
  • Jason Reitman (Up In the Air)
Best documentary feature
  • Burma VJ
  • The Cove
  • Food, Inc.
  • The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
  • Which Way Home
  • Il Divo, Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
  • Star Trek, Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
  • The Young Victoria, Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore
Achievement in film editing
  • Avatar, Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
  • District 9, Julian Clarke
  • The Hurt Locker, Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
  • Inglourious Basterds, Sally Menke
  • Precious, Joe Klotz
Best foreign language film of the year
  • Ajami
  • El Secreto De Sus Ojos
  • The Milk of Sorrow
  • A Prophet
  • The White Ribbon
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
  • Avatar, James Horner
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox, Alexandre Desplat
  • The Hurt Locker, Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
  • Sherlock Holmes, Hans Zimmer
  • Up, Michael Giacchino
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
  • "Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • "Down in New Orleans" from The Princess and the Frog Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • "Loin de Paname" from Paris 36 Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
  • "Take It All" from Nine Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
  • "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" from Crazy Heart Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
Achievement in sound editing
  • Avatar, Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
  • The Hurt Locker, Paul N.J. Ottosson
  • Inglourious Basterds, Wylie Stateman
  • Star Trek, Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
  • Up, Michael Silvers and Tom Myers
Achievement in sound mixing
  • Avatar, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
  • The Hurt Locker, Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
  • Inglourious Basterds, Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
  • Star Trek, Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson
Achievement in visual effects
  • Avatar, Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
  • District 9, Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
  • Star Trek, Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton
Adapted screenplay
  • Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell (District 9)
  • Nick Hornby (An Education)
  • Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche (In the Loop)
  • Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious)
  • Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (Up In the Air)
Original screenplay
  • Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman (The Messenger)
  • Joel and Ethan Coen (A Serious Man)
  • Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy (Up)

Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!

Awesomeifuckinshotthat Year: 2006

Director: Nathaniel Hornblower (aka. Adam Yauch)

Budget: ?

Domestic Gross: $161 351

in 2004 the beastie boys did a show at madison square garden and besides the regular/professional camera guys that were there filming it there were also 50 fans in the audience that the band had supplied with cameras filming as well.  Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That is the result.

there are concert movies all over the place these days, but when is the last time you saw one that stuck out from the pack and did something interesting and different?  'Awesome...' is just such a concert film.  the energy of the show and the fans is great and watching it from all those varied perspectives is lots of fun. 

besides the shots of the band from all over the stadium there are some great moments from when fans took their cameras with them on other varied excursions,like: going to the bathroom (the whole trip, piss, hand wash, etc shot pov), or trying to get past security and get backstage.  sure there is a lot of shaky cam action and grainy images, but the film is so well edited that it is never a bother. - speaking of editing, check out this link to the guys post sundance screening interview

the film is directed by nathanial hornblower (aka. adam yauch) one of the three beastie boys himself and it is a fun and energetic collage of images, video effects and great great music.  the boys put on one hell of a good show and Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That is as close as you can get to being there without actually being there.



Once Year: 2006

Writer: John Carney

Director: John Carney

Budget: 180 000 euros/$150 000 (estimated)

Gross (USA): $540 753 as of May 27th, 2007

he is a musician who busks on the street on his breaks from working with his dad repairing vacuum cleaners.  during the day he plays popular songs and at night when no one is really around he plays stuff he has written.  she is a girl who moved to ireland from eastern europe with her daughter and works cleaning homes and selling roses on the street.

they meet one night when she stops to ask him about the song he just played, and Once is the story of their relationship over the course of the next week or so as they get to know each other and work to record his songs.

i know, i know, it doesn't have a web slinging spider person or lots of pirates (it doesn't have any pirates actually), but it is also one of the best movies i have seen so far this year (maybe the best so far).

Once is referred to as a modern-day musical, but don't let that word 'musical' turn you off.  this isn't one of those musicals where people are breaking into song all over the place and using the words to tell the story.  rather, the musical aspects of the film involve the playing of the songs that he and she have written.  yes. they do tell us things about the characters, but in a much more real and genuine way then one is used to in the musical genre. 

for example:  one of the songs he sings was written about his ex-girlfriend and while the words and music give us insight into his emotions and feeling about her and their time together the song isn't a script or exposition piece. instead, the songs are just really good songs that provide a strong reaction and allow us into the heads of the characters from an emotional standpoint.  i also appreciated that while it is a 'love story' and a drama it always felt real and didn't fall into the hollywood melodrama trap that it could have so easily done.

the film is so simple and yet so full of life and truth and honesty of character and story.  the hand held camera and the wonderful songs all work together to draw you in.  also, the performances are really good, which is maybe a little surprising given that the actors are actual musicians and the ones that wrote pretty much all the music (irish films to have a good track record of picking great musicians who can also act for their films  - see The Commitments).

with summer blockbuster season in full swing and doing very well, smaller films need to fight to find an audience, so for the sake of great movies everywhere take the time to search out and enjoy Once.


Josie And The Pussycats

Josieandthepussycats get Josie and the Pussycats

Year: 2001

Director: Harry Elfont & Deborah Kaplan

Writer: Richard H. Goldwater & Dan DeCarlo & John L. Goldwater & Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont

Budget: 22 million (estimated)

Domestic Gross: $14 252 830

yes you read that right, it does say Josie And The Pussycats as the title of this post.  this is a film, like Dick which i discussed during an earlier post, that i think could have appealed to two very separate audiences but instead just ended up getting lost to both.

the most obvious audience for the film is the teenage crowd, being that it deals with boy and girl bands and the whole crazy teen pop music industry.  however, the film is quite a good satire that i felt played more to an older audience. 

that's not to say it isn't just a fun movie with catchy pop music that a younger crowd would enjoy, because it is that also.  it is kind of like many of the disney movies of the last 10-15 years: they are kids movies but there are enough jokes that only 'the adults' will get to make it fun for everyone.

what might have made it hard to position was the fact that the film is based on the Josie And The Pussycats television series that aired from 1970-1972. that means that when the film came out the people that would recognize it from having seen the tv show would have been around 30 years old - definitely not the audience the studio or the advertising was geared towards.

this is to bad though, because there is quite a bit of stuff in the film that only 'the adults' would get.  i doubt many of you, when you hear about the movie Josie And The Pussycats, think satire, but that is very much what this film is - a very funny satire on the teen pop music industry with the basic premise that for years the record industries have been inserting subliminal messages into music turning teenagers into unsuspecting purchasing zombies, killing off any band that figures out their scheme. josie and the pussycats are picked from obscurity by an evil manager to be the next pawns in the industries plan - doesn't sound as teenybopperish as you thought, does it?

the performances are good all around, from allen cumming to parker posey to rachael leigh cook and rosario dawson.  my favorites are seth green and breckin meyer who play two members of the  backstreet boysesque band 'dujour'.  the scene when they are all arguing about a cover photo of the group on a magazine and who is allowed to do what facial expression is hysterical - as are the overtly sexual lyrics to a couple of the songs they perform.

i'm not claiming that Josie And The Pussycats deserved any awards, however it is definitely a film that went bust at the box office and was quickly forgotten. it was assumed to be just another teen movie by many, when it is actually better then that and one worth remembering and checking out if you are looking for a fun time.