Saturday, February 25, 2012

Gold Rush 2012 (Part 1)

Silver Screener: So here we are again, another year, another Oscar race.

March King: And the competition's pretty fierce. It's nice to see a year so evenly matched across the board.

SS: And by evenly matched you mean....

MK: Well I can think of five films I'd be okay with winning best picture, two best actors, three supporting actors, three best actresses, two supporting actresses, two animated features... basically any category you look at I have multiple favorites. That is not a regular year for me. In most years previous I have had decided champions in my mind for every category, but the Oscar season has been quite good to us.

SS: Ok, I would agree with that. I was just surprised to hear you say it! I know you were disappointed with some of the snubs. But of course, now I’m curious to hear your five, two, three, three, two.

MK: Well yes, the omissions have been somewhat surprising in my mind.
You know what they say, "Unlucky at Awards Ceremonies, lucky at women and men and transgenders and... well you get the point."
But that doesn't take away from the ceremony. Now we know where the Academy is coming from in relation to the year. And it makes for an interesting demographic of performers and creators, no question. Let's start with writing, shall we? In original screenplay, I have to say Midnight in Paris and The Artist both stand a very good shot of taking the gold.
SS: It's going to be The Artist. I just feel so certain about it. I'd love for it to be Midnight in Paris, but I think overall love for the former will see it win in the Big Four.

MK: Trends do seem to be in that direction. So we move on. In adapted screenplay I have three in mind.

SS: Move on already? What about personal picks, shoulda beens, opinions on the individual nominees?

MK: (laughs) I feel like we're going to be covering Woody and Michel again pretty quickly. Do you have someone else in mind that you'd like to see get it?

SS: But I wish Diablo Cody was nominated for Young Adult.
She didn't wake up in time and missed the whole FYC campaign.
MK: Agreed agreed. I find it a sad omission, one of many. But the more I talk to people on the subject of Young Adult, the more negativity I hear. I disagree, but popular opinion seems to be against her.

SS: I still haven't seen A Separation or Margin Call.

MK: Neither have I sadly. But only so many hours in the day.

SS: Hm. Well, then, adapted. You have three possible winners or three you'd like to see win?

MK: Three I'd be okay with... Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Moneyball, and The Ides of March. And in that order.
SS: Wha--YES! YES EXACTLY! Exactly that order, exactly those three. Hugo and Descendants are waaaaay further down in the quality field.

MK: (laughs) They are. I'm left wondering what was ignored that should have been there... The Help perhaps?

SS: Eh.

MK: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?

SS: Eh.

MK: Jane Eyre?
SS: Never saw it. Maybe?

MK: Maybe. While I've never read the book, I have been told that it is the most interesting adaptation of that particular story to date.

SS: Maybe. I wouldn't know. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was a great movie. That's a nomination I'd've liked to see.

MK: Absolutely! Not quite enough love for that film.
At least he's got his mother's love.

But none-the-less... Sorkin is a god and Tinker Tailor was just a piece of mastery. I'd also like to see George get some recognition for his quite potent ability to captain the film ship in every aspect of the production.

SS: But we know that's not gonna happen. In my dreams, Tinker Tailor surprises in much the same way Precious did two years ago.

MK: Mmm... that would be a very nice surprise. VFX? I say Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
SS: I can see this being the category where they give a shout-out to the Harry Potter films. It's inconceivable that they haven't won a single award after all this time, and it's not going to be Art Direction or Makeup.
MK: Perhaps, but in my mind Potter doesn't even touch on how perfectly those Apes were crafted. This is one of the few categories that just seems like an easy choice to me.

SS: I’d agree, yes, but sometimes what I think is the best (in this case, Apes) doesn't match the Academy's. Like The Golden Compass.

MK: It's true. No denying, at the Oscars, nothing is ever definite.

SS: And then there's Hugo, which leads the pack with 11 nominations. It's got good chances of winning, too.
MK: Well yes, odds would say it'll take something away from this... but I just feel it's beaten in practically every category.

SS: I see Hugo winning one category, definitely, and maybe two others (besides this).

MK: You're probably right, though it pains me to say so.

SS: You'd even begrudge it Original Score? The music in that movie is magical, in a way few movie scores are. Listen to it coming off an escalator at the metro the buildings start to rise into view...yeah. And in context, it's still great! So let's discuss Original Score and how my love of Alberto Iglesias' Tinker Tailor work is deep, but not as deep as my love of Howard Shore's Hugo.

MK: (laughs) Well no one's denying Howard Shore's abilities. The man is responsible for some incredible stuff. He could win for Hugo, but that's probably the only win I'd be on board with. Still Iglesias did a phenomenal job!

SS: Agreed! My second choice! But HUGO, man! HUGO! It doesn't matter anyway, because this category will also belong to The Artist.

MK: The Artist. Could it really be the powerhouse everybody's painting it out to be?
SS: Yes. It's wins at various Guilds and BAFTAs show strong support within the industry. I don't think it's going to win all its nominations, but it would be foolish not to think the silent movie is going to win Original Score. The music is its only constant aural quality, and while the Vertigo controversy may hurt it a little, it won't be enough to make a difference.

MK: Okay, well then let's talk about this for a second. Hazanavicius constructed something baffling to most modern day audiences. He brought us a silent film... a good silent film (I'm not denying), but still it's a work that... oddly enough... relies on a gimmick. My thought here is, Woody's Midnight in Paris makes us feel similar things... brings us back to the past, makes us want to remember a time we couldn’t possibly know... and he does it all... and in my opinion better... without that gimmick. He just made a great movie. What's funny is we all assume the silent gimmick would weaken any ordinary movie, but in viewing The Artist, people still love the film. But maybe it doesn't weaken a film... maybe people just decided to actually watch this particular one because it was a "new" (old) idea. Something they weren't used to.

SS: Maybe, like anything, nothing can weaken a film as long as the film is actually good.

MK: I can't remember the last "main stream" silent. Maybe Mel Brooks' Silent Movie?

SS: That would be it, yeah.

MK: (laughs) Damn. I guess I'm just wrapped up in Woody love.

SS: I think Midnight in Paris should win Best Pic, but I don't think it's going to happen.

MK: Yeah. But here's to hoping. So let's talk editing for a moment...

SS: Ooh, now that's a category I always have trouble with. Sometimes they go for the action flicks, sometimes they go for the Best Pic frontrunner, sometimes they actually make the right call.

MK: My pick would be Dragon Tattoo. But I'd be happy with Moneyball, The Artist, or even The Descendants. Hugo is the one awkward one for me. The inconsistencies of the editing frequently pulled me out of the movie.

SS: Man, fuck The Descendants.
The editing was part of the tonal inconsistency, flat narrative, and draggy pace. Fuck that.


MK: Yet somehow it made it in over Tinker Tailor... I say they should have given it to Undefeated actually... or is a documentary ineligible for some insane reason?

SS: No, doc is eligible. It just doesn't always happen. The Artist, now, that's the award it should win, no doubt about it. It could’ve lost to Drag Tat or Moneyball, but the editing in The Artist keeps it ebullient, allows it to transition to the more dramatic section with ease.

MK: True. Those three could all take it to me. I guess my dislikes about The Descendants weren't completely based on the editing. I think there were greater woes to that overall film. But anyway... I missed every foreign language nominee... but can't believe The Skin I Live In was ignored. Those had better be some excellent flicks to win out

SS: Most of them haven't been released, I believe. Footnote, In for Bullhead and A Separation....I don’t know what Lazhar is.

MK: Yeah, it's a shame they never get those out in time for us to see. I feel like I always miss at least two in that category.

SS: Well, generally they're held on purpose so they can use the nomination/win in their marketing. It's much easier for foreign language films to get noticed that way, especially if they're more arthouse fare or don't boast known Auteurs.

MK: Hmm, so the tag "Currently Nominated" wouldn't carry some interest? Like, "Hey guys. If you want to actually care about the awards show, here's an interesting way to do that."

SS: When English-language Oscar nominees are still in theaters? Think about it.
English-language Best Picture nominees?

MK: I am, but January and February are routinely slow months at the movies anyway. Maybe that's the time for films like these to steal a little attention.

SS: Well, A Separation is, and look how that's doing.

MK: But it's such a limited release. Designated to the Laemmle annex.

SS: It would absolutely get killed in a wider market. If our theaters don't have it, it's because our theaters don't want it.

MK: Too bad. I think they'd make more money than they realize.

SS: No. They wouldn’t. Asking the average American to see a movie from Iran? Absolutely not.

MK: Paradise Now got its self an audience.

SS: Paradise Now had more controversial, timely subject matter and A Separation has already made almost twice what Paradise Now made. Paradise Now didn't have an audience so much as it had talking points. as much as I heard about Paradise Now, I don't remember meeting anyone who saw it, or reading any reviews.

MK: It was... not amongst my favorites. (laughs)

SS: A Separation probably won't win anyway, because it's rare that the Big One does.

MK: Ex. Pan's Labyrinth.

SS: It's probably going to be Footnote or Monsieur Lazhar.

MK: But a separation has a nomination for screenplay as well. That's kind of a big deal. Truly rare.

SS: I will give you the screenplay nom. All I know is, when we had Incendies in Boca, we had to avoid discussing the Middle Eastern aspect of the story (which is the WHOLE THING) because to mention a non-Israeli Middle Eastern movie was to mention THE DEVIL HIMSELF.

MK: (laughs) But we're in Hollywood and I've seen surprising movies take off in this market. Honestly it's difficult to know what will make it here. I've seen tiny moves thrive and massive movies flop... hard. The film-going culture is changing
and sometimes it's just worth making an actual push.

SS: If you can afford it.

Sorry folks. We got a little carried away. The rest of the conversation will be up shortly in The Silver Screening Room.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Raccoons Get Their Feet In The Door

"If you don't put your stuff out there, no one's ever gonna see it." This should be an obvious sentiment for anyone trying to make it in the arts... and really it's more of a life credo. There's no reason not to do something you've never done before so long as you've got the time... which you do. But so many people are scared to death of exposing themselves to new experiences. Look, I am not the best example of this, but in the last year I've turned things around by changing my own point of view. When I used to fight the idea of going and doing things I deemed dangerous in the past, I will now simply jump on the opportunity and always feel much better for trying.

The most current example? Well just next month I will be participating in the International Family Film Festival with one of my best friends. Together we wrote an animated screenplay: Critter Crossing. And one day we decided we should enter it... and now it's in... our tiny screenplay is an official selection at a pretty special event. That gives me hope. Mostly because we actually saw a good opportunity and took advantage of it (this is my first festival as a writer). Rather than deny ourselves the opportunity out of fear of failure, we managed to enter and who knows, maybe even win for our writing abilities.

Something that gets me excited here is, we'll get to see a reading of a key scene as done by a professional group of actors. And then my friend and I will be involved in a Q&A. I guess I'm just happy knowing that we found one festival that we liked, entered it, and got in on our first try... in a way it's validating the fact that we weren't just making believe we had something good. Now if only we could sell the thing...

If you'd like to learn more about the event, you can do so HERE.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Biggest Oscar Snubs

Now that the nominees have been given a time to settle in... and we've been able to catch those few final 2011 pictures that we didn't have a chance to see until now two months into 2012... I'd like to take a moment and discuss the baffling "For Your Consideration" contenders who somehow didn't make the cut.

In Acting:

Michael Fassbender - Best Actor
Between Shame, A Dangerous Method, and Jane Eyre I was assuming somebody would have stood up and said, "Hey, Michael Fassbender's having a breakout season! Maybe he deserves something for his (not so surprisingly) excellent work!" But alas, he's been avoided. I had assumed that, with the popularity of Inglorious Bastards, the way he managed to make X-Men First Class miraculously not suck, and well... a should be winning performance in Shame the academy would be chomping at the bit to get his name into the ceremony somewhere. After all, lately it seems a quick pan over to him in the audience would make many ladies swoon. Oh well, we should be seeing him up for many awards in the future.

Ryan Gosling - Best Actor
True, he's had a few chances already, but that's no excuse to ignore two excellent performances in Drive and The Ides of March. In fact, Ryan and Emma Stone were the only things that kept me watching Crazy, Stupid, Love. In the end I put this one up to a stacked category. Better luck next time.

Tom Hardy - Best Supporting Actor
Warrior and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy are amongst the largest oversights in this years ceremony. And Tom Hardy deserves serious recognition for both of them. He's really shown us his ability to mutate his performances this year. And that is a major step toward being a truly great actor.

Between the three actors I have just listed, I'm hoping to see a new era in the "Best Actor Race". Like the old days of Pacino, DeNiro, and Hoffman... or Dean and Brando... I think we're in for more than a few treats in the coming years.

Brian Cox - Best Supporting Actor
In Coriolanus, Brian Cox gave one hell of a performance. And if he were up for this award I would have him winning in any Oscar pool. But somehow the man came up dry this year.  This may be my biggest disappointment of the season.

Carey Mulligan -Best Supporting Actress
She's really coming into her own these days surprising me in both Drive and Shame this year to the point that I pretty much will see any movie with her name on it (not an easy feet). I'll be rooting for Carey Mulligan in the years to come.

In Film:

Shame - Best Picture, Best Director
This one's a long shot, but the film was truly excellent. I think the NC-17 knocked a few voters out of contention, and yes that statement surprises me as well. But that rating was actually necessary for this film. And in my opinion it was done as tastefully as other R-rated movies look at war and the like. But we live in a prudish country. And while a large percentile of the film community is more open-minded about... well everything... there are still stragglers in each major branch of the sexuality conversation.

Drive - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography
What a good little movie. Drive was just interesting. It had a classic appeal while hitting its crescendos harder than most films in recent memory. With all of the buzz Nicolas Winding Refn had been getting leading up to the nominations I had definitely put him before Scorsese and Payne.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography
I can't speak highly enough about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I may be in the minority, but everything about this flick works for me. And anyone in the film industry that doesn't see the high quality of each separate part that went into making this picture, makes me sad for the direction we may see things go in the near future. But that's rambling, and I don't truly believe we'll see such a slump. 2012 does look promising.

Warrior - Best Picture
I would have no problem with this film winning the ultimate prize. But it was neglected, ignored... and I don't understand why. I guess many members of the academy just didn't take it seriously on initial release and I may be speculating, but they probably didn't run the most aggressive of "FYC" campaigns. They got Nick Nolte on the board. But in my opinion, either of the leads would be more deserving of the nod.

Winnie the Pooh - Best Animated Feature
The quality of Winnie the Pooh is surprising in the same way that learning blueberries are good for you is surprising. Everyone should be expecting something good from a new Pooh movie so long as it sticks to the source material... and it did. Since Rio was allowed to be ignored (thank god), I had hoped we might see some of the less noticed animated films get a chance. We did I suppose, but not in the way I anticipated.

African Cats
Disney Nature is doing an excellent job. If March of the Penguins can take it all, I think African Cats should at least be up for the honor. And since I have seen the majority of those nominated I feel I can say that this was more deserving than... at least two of those that made it.

Ralph Fiennes - Best Director
I've made myself more than clear about my feelings here. It's too bad some superior work get pushed to the side... but I guess some people in the industry don't think it's all that important to actually go out and see new movies.

That's all I've got right now. But as I finish off those last few films (I'm down to 5 or 6 I think) I may have some more to say on the subject. I am still excited for this years Oscars, but I would be more excited if any of these listed were in contention.