Archive for January, 2010

Welcome, welcome, yes, settle down now. I’m so glad you could all make it to the annual award blog, where we celebrate all that was worth celebrating about the year that was in cinema. Your host tonight will be – yes, you guessed – this italic version of myself, who, aside from having a slightly slanted view at life, is very much like my regular, upright self.

I should also suspect that I’ll be substituted for my more popular, regular text after these opening shenanigans. Oh well.

But let’s kick things off here. This time, I shall not only be ripping my categories out of thin air, but rather rip them from the putrid arms of the Academy. Or rather, I’ll take those categories which I find interesting, and leave the rest of them open for interpretation. In case you find yourself confused over which categories are “real” and which “aren’t”, the latter kind will be apartheided into so-called “bonus categories”.

A small note on the business of the nominees: I just pick the ones I feel are worthy of attention. If I want to pick just one, I’ll pick two to make it interesting, but I’m not applying any restrictions on myself here.

Enough dithering, lets get this baby a-rolling.

Movies I Watched in 2009

In random order:

Black Dynamite, Fanboys, Up in the Air, Zombieland, The Road, Away We Go, (500) Days of Summer, Inglorious Basterds, The Informant!, A Serious Man, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Up, Year One, Invictus, The Hangover, The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Brothers Bloom, Taken, Avatar, Adventureland, Moon, Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince, Coraline, The Boat That Rocked, Duplicity, Star Trek, Dead Snow, Sherlock Holmes, Watchmen, The Hurt Locker, Public Enemies, Funny People, Bruno, “I Love You, Man”, Where the Wild Things Are, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, District 9.

All in all: 37 films.

Best Supporting Actress

The nominees: Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air. Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air. Rachel Weisz for The Brothers Bloom. Melanie Laurent for Inglorious Basterds.

And the winner is: Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air.

I could say some crap about this being a close call, but since she’s the only one of them that I felt had a real break-out performance as an actress, I’ll just say it was well-deserved. Jason Reitman is brilliant with women (Juno comes to mind), and Up in the Air was no exception. I think I’ll see a lot Kendrick in the coming years, and think her part in Edgar Wright’s upcoming Scott Pilgrim vs. the World should cement her as a one of Hollywood’s brightest female stars.

Bonus category: Best Film Directed by a Female that Was Formerly Married to James Cameron

And the winner is: The Hurt Locker, directed by Katheryn Bigelow.

The Hurt Locker wasn’t 2009’s biggest seller at the box office, but it surely swept the critics off their feet. Me, being more of a casual critic without the refined taste required to make such distinction, distinctly feel that it was not that great a movie, and that you really should get over yourself if you thought it was. The only thing that was great about it was the tension it managed to capture in the fight scenes, and where haven’t we seen that before?

It was better than Avatar though.

Best Supporting Actor

The nominees: Woody Harrelson for Zombieland. Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds. Jude Law for Sherlock Holmes.

And the winner is: Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds.

What a shocker, right? Yeah, this one is a total lock for the actual award come the Oscar night, and it’s truly deserved. In fact, it’s such a commanding performance that I’ll rather talk some about Harrelson in Zombieland, which was the first time I remember actually liking him, and much the same can be said about Jude Law (who I hadn’t seen in years, it seems).

Bonus category: Best “My Pipe is Bigger than Your Pipe” Moment of the Year

Seriously, how big was that pipe?

Best Actress in a Leading Role

The nominees: Julia Roberts for Duplicity.

And the winner is: Miss Not Appearing in this Blog

Duplicity is a film that was much better than a lot people thought, with a great script from Tony Gilroy (of Bourne fame), but that’s also what I’ll remember about it, so I might as well take a pass. Or, when there’s no other worthy candidates, I could just hand it to Meryl Streep, who I’m sure deserved it, even if I didn’t watch her films. That’s what the Academy will do, anyway.

Best Leading Actor

The nominees: Michael Stuhlbarg for A Serious Man. George Clooney for Up in the Air. Sam Rockwell for Moon. Matt Damon for The Informant!

And the winner is: Sam Rockwell for Moon.

Moon was the undoubtedly best sci-fi film of 2009, and Sam Rockwell delivered the undoubtedly best role of 2009 as well, and could of course have won it in the supporting category, but that would just be greedy, right? Anyway, the other performances here were also superb, with Clooney being the most charming (i.e. himself), and Matt Damon showing off his funny bone to great success. A good year for male leading roles, then.

Bonus Category: Best “I Wish Hugh Laurie & Robert Sean Leonard Had Been Casted Instead!” Award

And the winner is: Sherlock Holmes.

A fun movie by any stretch, but also a somewhat infuriating one, as I couldn’t help myself but think “Gee, I wish I’d been allowed to write & direct this movie”. Which we’re all thankful that I didn’t, of course (damn you all to hell!), but I think we can all agree that the best Holmes incarnation at the moment is House M.D.

Best Animated Feature

The nominees: Up, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline.

And the winner is: Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Wes Anderson delivers a fantastic interpretation of Roald Dahl’s story, in a vein that’s unlike anything I’ve seen before, and with his trademarked quirky form of humour. The marvelous voice acting by Clooney, Bill Murray & Jason Scwartzmann should also be high-lighted & recognized for its brilliance. The close runner-up was undoubtedly Up, which I loved upon my first viewing, but doesn’t hold up as well as something like Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Bonus Cateogry: Best Use of Ian McShane as Voice Talent Award

And the winner is: Coraline

I had no idea that McShane was doing voice acting for this film, which made me love a film I already adored even more. Hey, they made a Neil Gaiman movie, and they casted Ian McShane as the crazy Russian mice director.

Or in simpler terms: awesome.

Best Screenplay

The nominees: Inglorious Basterds, Up in the Air, Black Dynamite,  Moon, The Informant!.

And the winner is: Inglorious Basterds.

Perfectly captivating with sizzling dialogue & a frightening piece about the power of cinema, Inglorious Basterds is without doubt the most powerful script of 2009. Up in the Air was the closest, but in the end it doesn’t hold the same punch that Basterds did. The most exciting new voice of 2009 was Duncan Jones’ Moon, so I’ll be eagerly awaiting his next venture. I suspect Jones could be the new Nolan, but with heavier sci-fi slant, which would be highly interesting.

Best Visual Effects

The nominees: District 9, Star Trek, Avatar.

And the winner is: Avatar, Avatar, Avatar, all day long.

Have you seen it? Then you know what I mean. Normally I wouldn’t bother pointing stuff like this out, except when it’s so amazing or so bad that you notice it, you know? This year had two films of that variety: Wolverine had the worst effects I’ve seen this side of the millennia shift, and Avatar 3D blew out the barn door on what’s possible. A breathtaking achievement, even if the script sucked.

Best Director

The nominees: Quentin Tarantino for Inglorious Basterds, Jason Reitman for Up in the Air, Wes Anderson for Fantastic Mr. Fox

And the winner is: Quentin Tarantino.

Again, this one isn’t even close, so I’ll focus on the other two. Reitman, I think, is going to be a mainstay at the top of these lists in the years to come. He’s delivered two great films, and one very good film (Thank You for Smoking), and you can tell that he is far from done. Wes Anderson and I don’t always get along. I really like Rushmore, but can’t quite see what’s so great about The Royal Tennenbaums or his other films. Mr. Fox, however, hit all the right buttons, and hopefully we’ll get along better in the future.

Tarantino though… He’s just a master at this point.

Bonus category: The Best Director that Wasn’t Nominated for Best Director Award

And the winner is: Rian Johnson for The Brothers Bloom.

The Brothers Bloom is a sort of heist, caper, grifter & Ocean’s Eleven-esque story that I love so much, and the film really works, but somehow it falls a bit short in places as well. I have a feeling that this film could have been something of a gem with a few more re-writes, polishes & sharper editing, but as it stands, it’s just another film that will quitely vanish into the night. I sure hope Rian Johnson don’t fade away though, ’cause the man has now made two really interesting films (i.e. the awesomeness that is Brick), and I’d love to see what he could do after his sophomore slump. 

Best Comedy

The nominees: The Hangover, Black Dynamite, Fantastic Mr. Fox

And the winner is: Black Dynamite

Have you seen this outrageous film? I laughed my balls off the first time I saw it, and sniggered heavily the second time (which more than I can say about The Hangover). I never thought I’d like a blackxploitation film this much, but Black Dynamite proved me wrong. It’s certainly the cult hit of 2009, and will cause much merriment in many years to come. An instant classic.

Bonus Category: Best Use of a Naked Asian in the Trunk Award

And the winner is: The Hangover

And now that naked Asian is killing me on a regular basis over at Community,which is a good show that you should watch.

Best Films of 2009

1. Inglorious Basterds

“I think this is my masterpiece”.

2. Fantastic Mr. Fox

“You’re supposed to be my lab partner. You’re disloyal.”

3. Up in the Air

“I am a parenthesis?”

Movies That Weren’t All That, But Are Worth Noting

  • Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince was the first HP movie I’ve enjoyed since Prisoner of Azkaban. The ending was kind of a bummer though, or else it might’ve gotten itself higher on a lot of lists this year. Also? This is the last HP movie that isn’t in 3D.

  • The best action film of 2009 was Taken, starring an ass-kicking Liam Neeson that was so bad-ass that I nearly forgive the film its terrible introductory sequence. Fun fact: the director of this film is doing the huuuuuge sci-fi re-make Dune, which is probably not a good thing, but also a very interesting thing as well.
  • How come I’m the only one in the world that watched/liked “The Boat that Rocked”? I’m not saying it’s the greatest film in the world, but it sure as hell deserved more recognition than it got.
  • Adventureland was Superbad-director Greg Mottola’s follow-up, and while it didn’t have the groove nor the hippie-hippie-shake of Superbad, it was a surprisingly heart-felt & tender story that nearly had me liking Kristin “Twilight” Stewart. Nearly. I’m not crazy, you know.
  • Star Trek had the best ensemble cast of any film released this year, and I think that Chris Pine (Kirk) fellow is a man to watch in the coming years. We may have a new Pitt/Clooney/Depp on our hands, there.
  • The biggest disappointment of the year? Huh. Hard to say. Watchmen was all-right, I guess, but the trailer was better. X-Men Origins: Wolverine had such a bad rep going out the start gate that I didn’t expect much of it. I guess the ironic victor has to be Where the Wild Things Are, which is a well-made film that had great buzz, but that didn’t manage to connect with me at all.

a Quick Rundown of Films I Look Forward to in 2010

  • My most anticipated film of 2009 is Edgar Wright’s (Shaun of the Dead) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which I have no doubt I’ll love so much it hurts.
  • Another film that is based on a comic book is Matthew Vaughn’s (Stardust, Layer Cake) Kick-Ass. I don’t think this’ll be… shall we say, an intelligent film in any way – hey, it’s main draw is an 11 year old girl who slices people up into itsy bitsy pieces – but the buzz has been good, and I can’t help but look forward to it.
  • The best film of 2010 will probably be Chris Nolan’s Inception. This films combines too many things I love into one single movie: One my favourite directors, a sci-fi/psychological plot, Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Ellen Page.
  • The second best film of 2010 will probably be David Fincher’s “The Social Network”. Even though I despise Facebook, I’m totally psyched to see what Fincher can do with a Aaron Sorkin script, that is rumoured to be nothing short of superb. Fincher hasn’t made a great movie since Fight Club, but I have a feeling this will be his return to form.
  • Iron Man II. ‘Cause Tony Stark has privatized world peace. I guess that means Robert Downey jr. will be coming to Oslo this December, then? At least he’ll have deserved the Nobel Peace prize… 🙂

Other films I’ll watch out for in 2010: The Wolfman, The Losers, Get Him to the Greek, Shutter Island, Clash of the Titans, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Ondine, Valhalla Rising, The Green Hornet, Hesher, Cop Out, Black Swan, Robin Hood, The Fighter, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Machete, Toy Story 3, Jonah Hex, Knight & Day, Salt, Tron: Legacy, and hopefully a new Coen Bros. picture as well (I think it’s called “True Grit”).

All in all it makes for 27 films, and knowing me I’ll probably watch a heck of a lot more than just these. Seems like it’s going to be a good year.


Friday Night Lights

Oy! What’s this, then?

Friday Night Lights is a televised drama series produced for NBC. It’s currently in its fourth season, with the fifth (and possibly last) season beginning in April (these last two seasons are only 13 episodes long). It revolves around a high school football coach in the a small town in Texas, as well as the players on his team and the people surrounding it.

Why are you bothering me about it? I don’t like sports in my TV!

Because I watched the pilot on a lark after having been vaguely entertained by the movie it’s based on (that goes by the same title). The funny thing though, was that the TV Series was substantially more interesting, and had a lot of qualities that’s not that easy to come by today. More often than not, a drama series is either about a lawyer/doctor/cop, and more often than not, the episodes are formulaic protagonist-heavy.

Friday Night Lights escapes all those traps, and while it does revolve somewhat around a football team, it’s more in a tangential way, kind of like how Mad Men is about an ad agency, but really it’s not.

It should also be noted that the coach of the team is one of the most terrific characters I’ve come across on TV; easily up there with Al Swearengen, Joshua Lyman, Mal Reynolds, Greg House, Barney Stinson  & Ari Gold. Everyone should give this show a try, if only to see how interesting coach Eric Taylor manages to be (and he does so by just being a good guy; no quirks, no funny lines; just a good father & good human being).

And one last thing:

Friday Night Lights isn’t a ground-breaking show, or a show that could in any way be considered a “must watch”, unless you’re hungry for a good drama (there aren’t too many out there right now). I hope you give it a try, ’cause the show’s really struggling with its ratings, and if it doesn’t get much better it’ll get cancelled after the 5th season (which, I’ll admit, is a good run, even if s2 was cut short because of the writer’s strike).

I like it. I think you would, too.