Friday, December 21, 2012

85th Oscars: Nomination Predictions (6)




What's new::

Now with a myriad of critics awards churning out their winners, and with Screen Actors Guild announcing its nominees, the race has gotten even more interesting, but at the same time seems to have solidified into a competition among a select few contenders.


The contenders that I view as almost sure-fire nominees are: Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, Les Miserables, and Silver Linings Playbook. I'd have argued for Kathryn Bigelow's strong chances of claiming a second Oscar had Zero Dark Thirty been nominated for SAG Ensemble, but interestingly enough, it didn't get the crucial Ensemble nomination.


Among a few categories that I think pundits have more or less built consensus around are: best actor, supporting actor, and supporting actress. One that I consider most likely to produce surprises is best actress. We'll see. 


Now that we have Makeup & Hairstyling and Foreign Language Film finalists, I predict those categories accordingly.  


Lastly, based on the recent SAG announcements, I put Lincoln back on top, though Bigelow is still considered the front-runner in the directing category. 


And here are my 6th nomination predictions:


*Contenders I consider front-runners are marked in bolded blue

*Any changes that have been made are marked with 




Picture (in order of likelihood)

Picture           
Possible Nominations Tally
Critics (’12 Dec. 21)
Lincoln (DW)
 




12 noms: Picture, Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Production Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Score, Sound Mixing
RottenTomatoes: 91% (Ave. score: 8)
Metacritics: 86

My grade: 8/10


Zero Dark Thirty (SP)

9 noms. Picture, Director, Best Actress, Original Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Score, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing
RottenTomatoes: 95% (Ave. score 8.8)
Metacritics: 95

My grade:
Argo (WB)



10 noms. Picture, Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Production Design, Score, Sound Mixing
RottenTomatoes: 95% (Ave. score: 8.4)

Metacritics: 86

My grade: 7/10
Silver Linings Playbook (WC)


9 noms. Picture, Director, Best Actress, Original Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Score, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing
RottenTomatoes: 91% (Ave. score:8)
Metacritics: 81

My grade: 5/10
Les Miserables (UP)
14 noms. Picture, Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Production Design, Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Original Song, Makeup & Hairstyling
RottenTomatoes: 72% (Ave. score: 7.2)


Metacritics: 61

My grade:
Life of Pi (Fox)

11 noms. Picture, Director, Best Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Production Design, Visual Effects, Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
RottenTomatoes: 87% (Ave. score 7.8)
Metacritics: 76

My grade: 7/10

Beasts of the Southern Wild (FSP)
8 noms. Picture, Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Score
RottenTomatoes: 86% (Ave. score 8.3)
Metacritics: 86

My grade: 6/10

Django Unchained (WC) 
12 noms. Picture, Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Production Design, Costume, Makeup & Hairstyling, Score, Sound Mixing
RottenTomatoes: 93% (ave. score: 8)
Metacritics: 80 

My grade:


※ Potential Contenders

Picture           
N/A
Critics (’12 Dec. 21)
The Master (WC)

7 noms. Picture, Director, Best Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Original Screenplay
RottenTomatoes: 86% (Ave. score 8.1)
Metacritics: 86

My grade: 9/10
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (FSP) 

RottenTomatoes: 77% (Ave. score 6.5)
Metacritics: 62

My grade: 4/10

Amour (SPC)

RottenTomatoes: 93% (ave. score: 8.5)

Metacritics: 88 


My grade:
Flight (Para)

RottenTomatoes: 77% (Ave. score 7.1)
Metacritics: 76

My grade: 5/10
Skyfall (SP)

RottenTomatoes: 92% (Ave. score 8.2)
Metacritics: 81

My grade: 6/10
Moonrise Kingdom (FF)

RottenTomatoes: 94% (Ave. score 8.1)
Metacritics: 84

My grade: 6/10

The Avengers (WDP)

RottenTomatoes: 92% (Ave. score 8)
Metacritics: 69

My grade: 6/10


The Dark Knight Rises (WB)

RottenTomatoes: 87% (Ave. score 8)
Metacritics: 78

My grade: 6/10
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (WB)

RottenTomatoes: 75% (Ave. score: 7)
Metacritics: 62

My grade:
Looper (FD)

RottenTomatoes: 94% (Ave. score 8.1)

Metacritics: 84

My grade:




Director 

ZERO DARK THIRTY    
LINCOLN
ARGO

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
THE MASTER
Kathryn Bigelow
Steven Spielberg
Ben Affleck
David O.Russell
Paul Thomas Anderson

 Potential Contenders

Ang Lee (LIFE OF PI) 

Tom Hooper (LES MISERABLES)
Quentin Tarantino (DJANGO UNCHAINED)
Benh Zeitlin (BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD)
Robert Zemeckis (FLIGHT)


Best Actress

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
ZERO DARK THIRTY
RUST AND BONE
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
THE IMPOSSIBLE
Jennifer Lawrence
Jessica Chastain
Marion Cotillard
Quvenzhane Wallis
Naomi Watts

 Potential Contenders

Helen Mirren (HITCHCOCK)
Keira Knightley (ANNA KARENINA)


Rachel Weisz (THE DEEP BLUE SEA)

Emmanuelle Riva (AMOUR)
Judi Dench (THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL)


Best Actor

LINCOLN  
SILVER 
LININGS PLAYBOOK
THE MASTER

FLIGHT
LES MISERABLES
Daniel Day-Lewis
Bradley Cooper
Joaquin Phoenix
Denzel Washington
Hugh Jackman

 Potential Contenders

John Hawkes (THE SESSIONS)

Jean-Louis Trintignant (AMOUR)
Anthony Hopkins (HITCHCOCK)
Ben Affleck (ARGO)
Jamie Foxx (DJANGO UNCHAINED)
Jack Black (BERNIE)



Best Supporting Actress

LES MISERABLES
LINCOLN
THE SESSIONS
THE MASTER
THE PAPERBOY
Ann Hathaway
Sally Field
Helen Hunt
Amy Adams
Nicole Kidman

 Potential Contenders

Maggie Smith (BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL)

Ann Dowd (COMPLIANCE)
Emily Blunt (LOOPER)
Samantha Barks (LES MISERABLES)
Helena Bonham Carter (LES MISERABLES)
Jacki Weaver (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK)
Shirley MacLaine (BERNIE)


Best Supporting Actor

LINCOLN
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
THE MASTER
DJANGO UNCHAINED
Argo
Tommy Lee Jones
Robert De Niro
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Leonardo DiCaprio
Alan Arkin

 Potential Contenders

Javier Bardem (SKYFALL) 

Christoph Waltz (DJANGO UNCHAINED) 
Matthew McConaughey (MAGIC MIKE)
Eddie Redmayne (LES MISERABLES) 
Bryan Cranston (ARGO)
David Strathairn (LINCOLN)
Ezra Miller (THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER)


Original Screenplay


ZERO DARK THIRTY

AMOUR
DJANGO UNCHAINED
THE MASTER
LOOPER

 Potential Contenders

FLIGHT

MOONRISE KINGDOM
MAGIC MIKE
PROMISED LAND
MIDDLE OF NOWHERE


Adapted Screenplay


LINCOLN

ARGO
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
LIFE OF PI
LES MISERABLES

 Potential Contenders


THE SESSIONS
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALL FLOWER
BERNIE
ANNA KARENINA
CLOUD ATLAS
HITCHCOCK


Editing


ZERO DARK THIRTY 

ARGO
LINCOLN
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
LIFE OF PI  

 Potential Contenders

LES MISERABLES

CLOUD ATLAS
FLIGHT
DJANGO UNCHAINED
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD


Cinematography

LIFE OF PI

LINCOLN
SKYFALL
THE MASTER
LES MISERABLES

 Potential Contenders


DJANGO UNCHAINED

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERNN WILD
ARGO
ANNA KARENINA
PROMETHEUS
MOONRISE KINGDOM


Production Design


LES MISERABLES 

LINCOLN
LIFE OF PI
MOONRISE KINGDOM
ANNA KARENINA 

 Potential Contenders


DJANGO UNCHAINED

PROMETHEUS
CLOUD ATLAS
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
THE  MASTER 



Costume Design

ANNA KARENINA

LES MISERABLES
MIRROR MIRROR
LINCOLN 
CLOUD ATLAS

 Potential Contenders


SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN

A ROYAL AFFAIR
DARK SHADOWS
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY



Makeup & Hairstyling 

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY 

HITCHCOCK
LINCOLN

 Makeup & Hairstyling Finalists:


HITCHCOCK

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
LES MISERABLES
LINCOLN
LOOPER
MEN IN BLACK 3
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN



Original Score 

LIFE OF PI
LINCOLN
ANNA KARENINA 
THE MASTER 
ZERO DARK THIRTY 

 Potential Contenders

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
ARGO
CLOUD ATLAS
FLIGHT



Sound Editing

THE AVENGERS
ZERO DARK THIRTY
LIFE OF PI
LES MISERABLES
FLIGHT 

 Potential Contenders

ARGO
SKYFALL
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES



Sound Mixing 

THE AVENGERS
ZERO DARK THIRTY
LIFE OF PI
LES MISERABLES 
FLIGHT

 Potential Contenders

ARGO
THE DARK NIGHT RISES
SKYFALL


Visual Effects 

LIFE OF PI
PROMETHEUS
THE AVENGERS
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
SKYFALL


 Visual Effects Finalists

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

CLOUD ATLAS
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
JOHN CARTER
LIFE OF PI
MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS
PROMETHEUS
SKYFALL
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN



new Foreign Language Film 

AMOUR
THE INTOUCHABLES
SISTER
BEYOND THE HILLS
A ROYAL AFFAIR


 Foreign Language Film Finalists

AMOUR (Austria)

WAR WITCH (Canada)
NO (Chile)
A ROYAL AFFAIR (Denmark)
THE INTOUCHABLES (France)
THE DEEP (Iceland)
KON-TIKI (Norway)
BEYOND THE HILLS (Romania)
SISTER (Switzerland)


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)





Originally posted on Jan. 11, 2012




Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (USA, 2011)

The gist: Undeniably, it's a sappy dramatization of the most horrifying experience for America and beyond, but when a tinge of remorse crosses von Sydow's face, that moment seems rather close to genuine than just manipulation.



Dealing directly with the aftermath of the 9/11 catastrophe, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is such a difficult movie to pass judgment on. It has been accused of bleaching the specifics of the tragedy to arouse most basic emotions like sadness, or basically, of being an exploitative weepie. And an excruciatingly annoying kid as the protagonist doesn’t help its cause, either; Oskar Schell, an apparently autistic and obviously eccentric fatherless boy and the movie’s hero/narrator, can be easily viewed as too unpleasant and inappropriate to represent the calamity-stricken residents in post-9/11 New York City.

While I do not entirely disagree with the widely circulated criticism that it’s a waterlogged fiction based on the tragic watershed that has forever tainted the landscape of global politics, I doubt if it’s a fair assessment to just write off the film’s consolatory, and very idiosyncratic, portrayal of a family coping with a devastating loss as a cheap moneymaking enterprise intended to offend the victims and grieving families. I’m not going to defend its manipulative tendencies, but I wouldn’t call it, say, mere 9/11 porn. Despite its unevenness in pacing and editing, and despite some prolonged moments of saccharinity that should have been curtailed, it still offers somber depictions of this particular earth-shatteringly horrific event and its after-effects. So for me, at least, describing this film in a few words is extremely tricky.  

Since it’s mostly seen from Oskar's point-of-view, a quick sketch of him may help better understand a few directorial and editing choices that often appear fragmentary and all over the map: he's a precocious and loquacious boy prone to nonsensical babbling, who tries to make sense of the world without his father, Thomas. Oskar doesn’t believe in burying an empty casket, yet strives to accustom himself to the post-“worst day” reality by stretching the last eight minutes with his father, as if that made more sense. Then he stumbles across a key in his late father's carefully preserved closet and embarks on an expedition to unearth a lock that fits the key, reasoning that that is the only way to stay in touch with his father.

Much of the movie travels in Oskar’s mind back and forth between his recollections of the happiest moments with Thomas and the dreary real world wherein he panics besieged by traffic and crowds and fears taking public transportation and falling from bridges, while cold-shouldering his mother, Linda. The movie skitters across different time frames and the camera soars and swoops, alternating extreme closeups and long shots, as Oskar runs all over the city. During most of the excursions, director Stephen Daldry’s frequent overheads capture the cityscape beautifully yet poignantly and at the same time, create the illusion that Thomas, somewhere up in the sky, watches over his son who doesn’t stop looking.      

An oxymoronist and a jeweller, Thomas, as warmly recalled by Oskar, never treated his son like a child and was the only one who truly understood him. The fondly reminisced flashbacks of the father-son bonding and a sanitized father figure are in clear opposition to the mother whom Oskar considers deficient and to her brutally realistic, tearjerking scenes, either alone or with her son. But those interjected scenes with Linda seem rather absurd and lengthier than necessary—especially when the camera lingers on the mother’s face—in spite of Sandra Bullock’s heart-wrenching display of a bereft parent’s wretchedness.

Meanwhile, the emphasis on the father figure and its paradoxical nature in this film extends to Max von Sydow’s The Renter, or Oskar’s almost-forgotten grandfather. In Oskar’s universe, the dead father’s always present; the grandfather doesn’t speak but ends up having the most heartfelt conversation with the boy. While the movie’s second half is mostly dedicated to his growing relationship with his grandfather, his grandmother has relatively scant presence. But wouldn’t it have been more interesting and probably lessened the uneasiness of watching the child, who’s almost obscenely rude throughout, if there were more grandmother-grandson interaction? Though Oskar’s peculiar subjectivity propels this trauma-healing narrative in an unprecedented, albeit ultimately obvious, direction, if better edited, the story could have offered more consistent maternal perspective.


There’s no denying that Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a sappy dramatization of the most horrifying experience for Americans, and that Oskar is probably the most irritating kid ever seen onscreen. But Thomas Horn’s articulate delivery of the character is one of the film’s few strengths. And his little notepad chats and journey with von Sydow’s grandfather will bring smiles to viewers’ faces. There’s a brief scene where von Sydow stares at framed photos of his deceased son. When a tinge of remorse crosses his face, that moment seems rather close to genuine than just manipulation.


.     

Review: Tabu (2012, Portugal)




Originally posted on Sept. 15, 2012





TABU (Portugal, 2012)

The gist: A renewed look beyond the veneer of this deceptively nostalgic romance set against a Portuguese colony in Africa throws into sharp relief the horrors to which those who benefited from a grand scheme of exploitation are utterly oblivious.




Except the opening film-within-a-film about a man on an expedition to 19th-century Africa, who flees the spectre of his dead wife and drowns himself to a pond full of crocodiles, Miguel Gomes’s black-and-white Tabu is told in two parts: one shot in 35mm of an uneventful present in Lisbon, and the other in 16mm dedicated to the memories of a paradise that once existed in Africa, at the foot of Mount Tabu. Centering on good-natured woman Pilar, her old neighbor Ms. Aurora and her maid Santa, Part 1 presents a succession of everyday affairs and interactions, mostly in static medium closeup. It consists largely of stares, indifferent or attentive, exchanged words that sound perfunctory, and the periodic knocks in between. While the unbearable ordinariness seems to occasionally steer her into the cinema for the brief purging of emotions, and while any sort of passionate love keeps eluding her, Pilar is seen involved in myriad good deeds and activism. Indeed, Part 1 provides sufficient information that Pilar really is a good person—but probably too good to fathom the larger-than-life past of Aurora, now senile and gambling away all she’s got, let alone the “horrors [Aurora is] ashamed to confess.”

With Aurora’s funeral comes Part 2, her mysterious past recounted in flashback by her old flame Ventura. All but black-and-white silent, Part 2 is tonally in contrast to its predecessor by indulging in the long shots of an expansive, mountainous landscape in Africa and varying, dynamic camera moves, which highlight the dramatic quality of Aurora’s colonial youth. Feeling trapped in the conventionality of an affluent, happily married life, a young Aurora manages to satiate her craving for escapism through hunting excursions accompanied by her servants. But when pregnancy hits her, effectively ending her freedom, she seeks an outlet for frustration and starts an affair with Ventura. Here, the sporadic use of sound, like Sixties music and gunshots, accentuates by turns the exuberance of their love and its tragic ephemerality.


As Part 2 winds down, it unveils the horrible crimes that Aurora mentions on her deathbed in Part 1, though, not unexpectedly, they are unrelated to anything else but her own affair. The young Aurora isn’t just blinded by love and momentarily out of touch with reality, but utterly oblivious to her surroundings, the complexities of the real world out there. Put differently, a symptomatic reading of Part 2 beyond its veneer of a young love gone awry would throw into sharp relief the banality of a grand scheme of exploitation that the privileged few take for granted, and their complete unawareness of the sociopolitical milieu of their time. So when you recall Aurora speaking of the “horrors,” the word now sounds more like a compressed expression of the experience Aurora and Venture shared a half century ago with those out of frame or mostly backgrounded during the second-half love story.