Tag Archives: Oscar-worthy movies

Trailer Thursday: “The Tree of Life”

Alright, I know I’m already breaking my rule about blogging too much about Cannes, but, when I saw the first trailer for Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life”, I knew I had to share it here as well.

I’m not entirely sure what the plot is here — it looks a little “2001”-ish to me, which would be awesome! — but Malick’s visuals, as always, look pretty damn spectacular. And what a cast! People who have seen previews of the movie are already saying Brad Pitt is a lock for a Best Actor Oscar. Whoa…

Either way, dying to hear what the Frenchie’s think of the movie when it premieres at Cannes on Monday. Go, team Malick!

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WGA Screenplay Nominees (2011)

Most years, I have a hell of a time narrowing the nominated films on my awards ballot down to ten, but, this year…well…let’s just say it was a struggle to find ten worthy films to nominate.

That’s not to say that there weren’t some really great movies released in 2010, but, the good ones (“The Social Network”, “Inception”, “The Fighter”, “Black Swan”) were so good that the rest of the nominees felt like total filler.

And when you couple that with the fact that several of the biggest Oscar-bait flicks this year (“The King’s Speech”, “Winter’s Bone”, “Toy Story 3”) were considered ineligible for WGA nominations, well, the list of nominatable films was pretty damn slim this year.

That said, this was the first year since I can remember that almost every single movie I voted for got nominated (rock on, “I Love You, Phillip Morris”!!) so, that’s kinda fun for a change.

In any case, congrats to all the nominated writers and here is this year’s freshly-minted list of WGA nominated films. Enjoy!

Original Screenplay

Black Swan (Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, John McLaughlin)

The Fighter (Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington)

Inception (Christopher Nolan)

The Kids Are All Right (Stuart Blumberg & Lisa Cholodenko)

Please Give (Nicole Holofcener)

Adapted Screenplay

127 Hours (Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy)

I Love You Phillip Morris (John Requa & Glenn Ficarra)

The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)

The Town (Ben Affleck, Peter Craig, Aaron Stockard)

True Grit (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)

Documentary Screenplay

Enemies of the People (Rob Lemkin & Thet Sambath)

Freedom Riders (Stanley Nelson)

Gasland (Josh Fox)

Inside Job (Charles Ferguson, Chad Beck, Adam Bolt)

The Two Escobars (Michael Zimbalist, Jeff Zimbalist)

Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? (John Scheinfeld)

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Two-fisted Kate Winslet!

Not only is she the youngest female performer to have wracked up five Oscar nominations at her age — with a likely two more on the way next week! — but Kate Winslet made history again last night by becoming only the third performer in the history of the Golden Globes to win two awards in one night. Insanity!

two-fisted Kate Winslet!

If I had to chose between her performances in “The Reader” and “Revolutionary Road”, I’d probably go with “The Reader”, but she was, as always, amazing in both films. I am actually hard pressed to think of a movie that Kate Winslet was not amazing in…oh, wait, I thought of one: “The Holiday”. Yikes…that movie sucked ass. Seriously toxic stuff…

But hey, one bad movie in a career of great one’s is pretty damn good. So, congrats to Kate Winslet on her two-fisted triumph at the Globes. I’m sure the two Laura’s (Linney and Dern) were relieved that Winslet didn’t act in any TV movies or miniseries this past year, or she might’ve swept those categories too!

Oh, and could she have looked any hotter last night? Wow, what a beauty…

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“The Wrestler”

Just watched Mickey Rourke and Bruce Springsteen pick up their well-deserved Golden Globes for “The Wrestler” and all I can say is…wow. These guys totally deserve any gold that comes their way this season, and if you haven’t seen “The Wrestler” yet, then get thee to a multiplex, amigos. This movie rocks!

Beautifully directed by Darren Aronofsky from a sweet, heartfelt script by Robert Siegel this movie truly soars. And while “Slumdog”, “Milk” and “Frost/Nixon” are still my top three, “The Wrestler” has made it a four-way race for our favorite movie of the year.

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This movie has more heart, humor and soul in it’s first ten minutes than “Benjamin Button” does in it’s entirety. Sorry, Benjamin, but it’s true. If you’re looking for a deeply-felt story about genuine love, loss and redemption, skip the bloated Brad Pitt-fest and see this instead!

Playing a battered and bruised pro-wrestler well past his prime, Mickey Rourke gives the performance of his life as Randy “The Ram” Robinson. Several critics have pointed out how Rourke’s real-life struggles and appearance give the movie an added heft, and that may be true, but I think that totally sells Rourke short.

I mean, sure, he looks like hell, but Rourke is not playing himself here, this is acting. And acting of the caliber I haven’t seen onscreen since, well, shit…I can’t even remember it’s been so long. Seriously, Rourke is so vital and alive in this movie that you’ll swear you’re watching a documentary.

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And the story…wow…I won’t ruin it for those of you who haven’t seen it, but this movie takes off in directions I never saw coming and never looks back. And lest you think “The Wrestler” is all about Rourke, the supporting women in this film kick some serious ass!

Marissa Tomei has never looked hotter — literally, she has some full-blown stripping scenes that are beyond realistic! — and her performance as a damaged stripper is so naturalistic that you’ll swear she’s been pole dancing her entire life. I know a lot of people still give her shit for winning the Oscar for “My Cousin Vinny”, but if there were any doubts about Tomei being a real actress, this movie will put them to rest forever.

Beneath all the sweat and the shimmery body paint, Tomei’s character not only gives Rourke something truly powerful to play off, but also steals your heart in every scene she’s in. Seriously, she’s incredible.

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And Evan Rachel Wood — who we adored on the vastly underrated “Once and Again” — delivers her most mature, nuanced performance to date as Rourke’s estranged daughter. Her scenes with Rourke will rip your heart out. Man alive, I was weeping like a baby a couple of times…beautiful stuff!

And when that Bruce Springsteen song kicks in at the end, holy crap, you just wanna die. This ain’t no tacked-on end credits song, this is a sad-ass rock ballad for the ages…and like the movie itself, it will stay with you for days. Amazing…

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“Frost/Nixon”

Saw this bad-ass movie over the long weekend and all I can say is…wow, Ron Howard rocks, baby! As a director I have loathed (“The Da Vinci Code”) just as many of his movies as I have loved (“Cinderella Man”) over the years, but with “Frost/Nixon” it’s like Opie has finally found his voice as a serious director. And man, what a thrill!

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I have to admit, as much as I was looking forward to seeing this movie, I was also a little skeptical that a film based on a Tony-winning play about a legendary television interview between David Frost and Richard Nixon would be, I dunno, kind of stagy and plodding. But, man alive, was I wrong!

In opening up his play for the movie, writer Peter Morgan, as he did so beautifully with “The Queen” and “The Last King of Scotland” has made politics absolutely riveting. And when you couple his crackerjack script with Howard’s whiz-bang directing and the towering performances of Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost, well…how can you lose?

Seriously, in lesser hands, “Frost/Nixon” could have been a tedious series of close-ups and cramped interiors, but this movie could not be more cinematic. Big, open, sweeping, the camera is everywhere all at once and with Hans Zimmer’s incredible, slow-build score leading the way, the film has a sense of drama that is just breathtaking.

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And the fact that the production filmed in many of the real-life locales only ads to the gravitas. I can only imagine how much that helped the actors bury themselves in their roles, because bury they do, amigos!

Reprising his Tony-winning performance, Langella doesn’t exactly look like Nixon, but man, he has the strange tics and sad sack mannerisms down pat. And Tony-nominee Sheen — who, if you ask me, was robbed of a Supporting Oscar nod for his stellar turn as Tony Blaire in “The Queen” — more than holds his own as a man finding his voice as a journalist during the course of the interviews.

But perhaps even more exciting than the leads are the amazing supporting performances by Kevin Bacon as Nixon loyalist Jack Brennan, and Sam Rockwell and Oliver Platt as Frost’s hard-working researchers, James Reston Jr. and Bob Zelnick, respectively.

All working at the top of their game, the three workhorse actors lend “Frost/Nixon” a boxing movie element that is entirely unexpected. And watching them quickly move in to clean up the figuriative blood when Frost and Nixon have finished a “round” before the camera is beyond awesome.

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In fact, Howard structures the entire movie like one big showdown, and though it might sound a bit heavy-handed, it works like gangbusters. Yes, I said gangbusters…sorry, but it really is that good.

“Frost/Nixon” opens nationwide this weekend, so, check it out! And if you’re interested in seeing the real life “Frost/Nixon: Watergate Interviews” for yourself, they have just been re-released on DVD as well. Cool, huh? I can’t wait to see how they compare to the movie!

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“Slumdog Millionaire”

OK, I know I said I’d blog about all the fun stuff we did with Ginger over the last few days, but after seeing director Danny Boyle’s new movie “Slumdog Millionaire” at a screening last night, I had to blog about that first because, well…this movie is freaking incredible!

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Christine and I have been huge Danny Boyle fans for years — we have seen every feature he’s directed except for last year’s sci-fi epic “Sunshine” and his first big flick “Shallow Grave” — and while all of his movies have been amazing, I gotta tell ya, “Slumdog Millionaire” is arguably his finest moment as a filmmaker.

One of my favorite things about Boyle’s movies is the way they so effortlessly balance hysterical humor and totally gut-wrenching drama, and, trust me, the heartfelt, beautifully-crafted “Slumdog” has both is spades.

I don’t want to spoil too much by telling you what it’s about — you really have to experience this thing for yourself, preferably on a big screen! — but essentially the movie takes place during a frantic two-day period in the life of the titular Mumbai slumdog, Jamal Malik (an astonishing Dev Patel) as he appears as a contestant on India’s version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”.

As the drama of the game unfolds, the movie flashes back in time to fill in the hilarious, touching and often painful series of events that brought a penniless Indian street urchin to the hot seat of the biggest game show in the world.

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Like “Trainspotting” and his lesser-known “Millions”, Boyle’s “Slumdog” pulses with life and moves along at a breakneck speed with a soundtrack that will totally blow your mind. Seriously, we were looking for it online the minute we walked in the door. It’s not available yet, but, wow…it kicks ass!

And while the cast is uniformly excellent — no doubt due to the superb job done by his co-director, legendary Indian casting director, Loveleen Tandan — the non-pro child actors featured in the flashbacks will totally rip your heart out. I shit you not, amigos, these kids are incredible.

And with a sparkling, award-caliber script by “The Full Monty” scribe Simon Beaufoy, and breathtaking cinematography by frequent Boyle collaborator Anthony Dod Mantle, this movie truly soars above almost everything else we’ve seen so far this year.

But perhaps the highest praise came in the form of the crazy-loud cheers that arose from the crowd — at a screening no less! — during key moments in the film. Seriously, that shit never happens during award season, and with a crusty old Academy crowd? Never!

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So, if they dug the movie enough to cheer each of the actors names in the super cool closing credits (yep, they did that too!) just imagine how much you’ll love this movie. “Slumdog” opens in limited release today, so check it out!

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