Sunday, March 7, 2010

I call the Oscars.

Tonight, the 82nd Academy Awards will happen, and it surely be an interesting one as indie filmmaking will battle it out against that "$500 million" movie. So I'll call most of the awards, as I have no idea who will win Short Subject Documentary.

Looking for that prize...

Best Picture
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

The Winner: It's a race between Avatar and The Hurt Locker. The Hurt Locker has been experiencing some Slumdog Millionaire type backlash, probably instigated by Harvey Weinstein, and there's that controversy with the e-mail one of the producers sent out. Then again Avatar is a fantasy, which has historically had bad luck at winning Best Picture Oscars, and not only that, the plot is pretty fucking mediocre. I know some films in the past that won in the past have won this award (Crash, Shakespeare in Love) with some weak stories, but Avatar really didn't try. It's a pretty film, and that's about it. So I say The Hurt Locker will bring home the Oscar. I won't be surprised if Avatar wins thought.
The Wild Card: Up in the Air. Or Precious. Inglorious Basterds has no chance though; it's too post-modern of a film to win the gold.
Best Director

Kathryn BigelowThe Hurt Locker
James CameronAvatar
Lee DanielsPrecious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
Jason ReitmanUp in the Air
Quentin TarantinoInglourious Basterds

The Winner: Kathryn Bigelow. No analysis here. Hurt Locker is also a better directed film, compared the relatively average direction of Avatar (I'm sorry if I have an Avatar-bias. It's an average film). Also, it's 2010 and a woman has never won the Oscar for Best Picture. I think the Academy should change that.
The Wild Card: Jason Reitman, though I don't see it happen. He's pretty young, and Oscar has a habit of not awarding the director prize to young directors.

Best Actor
Jeff BridgesCrazy Heart as Bad Blake
George ClooneyUp in the Air as Ryan Bingham
Colin FirthA Single Man as George Falconer
Morgan FreemanInvictus as Nelson Mandela
Jeremy RennerThe Hurt Locker as Sgt. William James

The Winner: Jeff Bridges. It's Bridgesmania right now and rightfully so. He's had a long and great career, and when you think about, he's a pretty under appreciated actor, Lebowski fans aside.
The Wild Card: Clooney, Firth and Renner. Let's be serious though. They don't have a chance.

Best Actress
Sandra BullockThe Blind Side as Leigh Anne Tuohy
Helen MirrenThe Last Station as Sofya Tolstoy
Carey MulliganAn Education as Jenny Miller
Gabourey SidibePrecious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire as Claireece "Precious" Jones
Meryl StreepJulie & Julia as Julia Child

The Winner: Sandra Bullock. For some reason she's had a "comeback" year. I'll dispute this considering Bullock has had a pretty mediocre career, and her 2009 was not just The Blind Side, but All About Steve, the disastrous comedy that has racked up several Razzies nods.
Wild Card: Carey Mulligan. She better win. That is all. Also, Gabourey Sidibe. The early favorite this year is a contendah.

Best Supporting Actor
Matt DamonInvictus as François Pienaar
Woody HarrelsonThe Messenger as Capt. Tony Stone
Christopher PlummerThe Last Station as Leo Tolstoy
Stanley TucciThe Lovely Bones as George Harvey
Christoph WaltzInglourious Basterds as Col. Hans Landa

The Winner: Christopher Waltz. Duh. For a relatively unknown actor who has appeared in little films, his performance is an impressive one in an otherwise pretentious film (yeah, I said it).
The Wild Card: None. Maybe Woody Harrelson, but I highly doubt it.
Best Supporting Actress
Penélope CruzNine as Carla Albanese
Vera FarmigaUp in the Air as Alex Goran
Maggie GyllenhaalCrazy Heart as Jean Craddock
Anna KendrickUp in the Air as Natalie Keener
Mo'NiquePrecious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire as Mary Lee Johnston

The Winner: Mo'Nique.
The Wild Card: Maggie Gyllenhall, but it's unlikely she will.
Best Original Screenplay
The Hurt LockerMark Boal
Inglourious BasterdsQuentin Tarantino
The MessengerAlessandro Camon and Oren Moverman
A Serious ManJoel Coen and Ethan Coen
UpTom McCarthy, Bob Peterson and Pete Docter
The Winner: The Hurt Locker. To be frank, it's a serious war film, compared to the highly original zaniness that is Inglorious Basterds.
The Wild Card: Inglourious Basterds, obviously. A Serious Man is too, but it has a small chance.

Best Adapted Screenplay
District 9Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell from Alive in Joburg by Blomkamp
An EducationNick Hornby from An Education by Lynn Barber
In the LoopJesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche from The Thick of It created by Iannucci
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by SapphireGeoffrey Fletcher from Push by Sapphire
Up in the AirJason Reitman and Sheldon Turner from Up in the Air by Walter Kirn
The Winner: It's a close one. Too close too call, in fact. It'll be between An Education, Precious, and Up in the Air. Let's do some Oscar politics. Precious will win an Oscar for Supporting Actress, so that gives it a third place. Up in the Air has more momentum than An Education, so expect Up in the Air to get the gold.
The Wild Card: Eh... District 9 and In the Loop, but let's be serious.

Best Animated Feature
CoralineHenry Selick
Fantastic Mr. FoxWes Anderson
The Princess and the FrogRon Clements and John Musker
The Secret of KellsTomm Moore
UpPete Docter

The Winner: Up. It's Pixar. It has a Best Picture nod. It's gonna win.
The Wild Card: Fantastic Mr. Fox and Coraline, but hell will freeze over first if they beat Up.

Best Foreign Language Film
Ajami (Israel) in Arabic and Hebrew – Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani
El Secreto de Sus Ojos (Argentina) in SpanishJuan José Campanella
The Milk of Sorrow (Peru) in Spanish and QuechuaClaudia Llosa
Un Prophète (France) in French, Corsican and ArabicJacques Audiard
The White Ribbon (Germany) in GermanMichael Haneke
The Winner: It's a race between A Prophet and The White Ribbon. One of them is directed by the Austrian master Michael Haneke, who could use an Oscar for his distinguished, if not confrontational career. Cache is one of the best movies of the past decade, and the Oscar might give him the award as a Lifetime Achievement Award of sorts. A Prophet is being hailed as a modern crime classic, and it's hype has been growing in momentum. It's too close too call to be honest, but I'll have to say The White Ribbon, since it has won tons of award already.
The Wild Card: Foreign Language film is known for being a pretty fucked up category. Politics and the like can cause a film to not even get nominated. The three other films are pretty standard fare, and they could win if the voters find A Prophet and The White Ribbon too much for their tastes.
Best Documentary Feature
Burma VJAnders Østergaard and Lise Lense-Møller
The CoveLouie Psihoyos and Fisher Stevens
Food, Inc.Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon PapersJudith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith
Which Way HomeRebecca Cammisa

The Winner: Food, Inc. It's the biggest one out of the five. But...
The Wild Card: ...there's been rumours that Food, Inc. royally pissed off some lobbyists, so the other films are wild cards.
Best Editing
AvatarJames Cameron, John Refoua and Stephen E. Rivkin
District 9 – Julian Clarke
The Hurt LockerChris Innis and Bob Murawski
Inglourious BasterdsSally Menke
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire – Joe Klotz

The Winner: The Hurt Locker. Blah Blah Blah tension, blah blah blah good, blah blah blah pacing.
The Wild Card: Inglorious Basterds. It'll be it's token award, and because it's fucking wacky.

Best Visual Effects
Avatar District 9 Star Trek
The Winner: Avatar. James Cameron will commit seppuku if it doesn't.
The Wild Card:

Since I'm lazy here's the ones I don't feel like writing about, but I know who'll win.

Best Original Score - Eh... Avatar?
Best Original Song - "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart. Randy Newman can suck it.
Best Sound Editing - The Hurt Locker
Best Sound Mixing - The Hurt Locker
Best Art Direction - Avatar
Best Cinematography - Avatar
Best Makeup - The Young Victoria
Best Costume Design - I'll say Coco Before Chanel, or The Young Victoria, or Bright Star. Okay, this one doesn't count.

So, The Hurt Locker will win 6, while Avatar will win 4. There will be sparks tonight, so you better watch.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Various Music Reviews

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th music review for new music in 2010! WHAT. I know crazy. Here goes nothing.

Hot Chip
One Life Stand ***1/2
Our favorite nerd-dance-rockers are back with their low-key, soulful disc. Doesn't have "that" song to represent the album, you know, something like "Ready for the Floor" or "Over and Over, but the songs are smooth and relaxing. "One Life Stand" and the closer "Take It In" are good songs, but don't have the same hookiness to them. Other songs work well, too, but as mentioned before they lack those heavy, jerky beats that made us love them in the first place. Then again, I've noticed nobody really likes a new Hot Chip album when it first comes up. Maybe by the end of this year, I'll learn to love it.

These New Puritans
Hidden ****
Hailing from England, These New Puritans combine punk, electronic and hip-hop on their compelling second album. I can't really write anything else about it, though. Lotta stomping beats, chanting about war, and an orchestra of woodwinds. It's a pretty great album that's something of the hip-hop post punk album. I guess. I still recommend it despite this relatively unexciting review.

Titus Andronicus
The Monitor ****
The second album from these Jersey punks is a whopper. If you thought their modern classic from 2008 The Airing of Grievances was epic, then you'll probably be blown away by this one. A concept album of sorts about the Civil War parrelling modern times, the album is certainly one of the year's most interesting releases. At 65 minutes, with the average song lasting more than 6 minutes, The Monitor is a sloppy album, but goddammit that's what makes it great. For a band like Titus Andronicus, technical precision or sounding focused is the least of their worries. What they do best is that they manage to capture the anger and ferocity of the best rock songs. From the new "Your Life is Over"chants of "The Enemy is Everywhere" and "You Will Always be a Loser" to astonishingly epic closer "The Battle of Hampton Roads", The Monitor is fucking ferocious and like Grievances, god damn inspiring. They're too compelling to criticize; if you do, you probably have no soul.