eric’s Oscar preview

Saturday 6 March 2010

Usually I’m totally on top of the Oscars, but this year (perhaps because I’ve found it hard to be in one place for more than a few weeks at a time the last 3 months) I’ve been lagging in my movie viewing.  I wasn’t able to make it to any showcases of the nominated short films like I did last year, and as you’ll see, have a surprisingly small percentage (in my mind) of nominated films that I’ve viewed.

That being said, I couldn’t let the Oscars go without a mention and some thoughts and predictions, so here you go.  Click here to see a complete list of nominees.  Check out the IMDB Road to the Oscars section for other insight and information on other awards shows.

Before I hit the Oscars, though, I want to tell you about another great awards show you shouldn’t be missing — though it has already taken place — the Independent Spirit Awards.  For the past 10 years or so, I’ve been more smitten with indie film than “Hollywood” film, to be sure, and while you won’t see movies like Avatar or Inglourious Basterds featured there, there are tons of amazing movies you might otherwise miss if you weren’t privy to independent film, so check it out.

Best Picture
This year they went with 10 nominees in the Best Picture category, so maybe it’s understandable that I couldn’t keep up!  I have seen 5 of them so far (and hope to see a few more sometime soon, I just wasn’t giving myself a Oscar awards deadline) — The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, Precious, Avatar 3D, and Up (the only one I saw on DVD).  From what I’ve heard, it’s a two movie race between the big (Avatar) and the small (Hurt Locker).  While I won’t be upset if either of those takes the award, I think my vote would go to Avatar.  While the visual effects were truly amazing, the story was what drew me in and made it worthwhile.  I’ve heard it’s too similar to Dances With Wolves, and if I had seen that movie, maybe my vote would be different, but for now, I’m sticking with Avatar.  The Hurt Locker is a pretty amazing movie, too, and the scope of the two films is so different that it’s really hard to pick — thus, I’m excited to see who it is!

Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay
While a lot of people try to see the best picture nominees, I usually seek out the nominees in this category (and the next one on my list here), and I’ve been particularly disappointed I have only seen 4 of the 10 total nominated films in these two categories (2 in each category).  That being said, I don’t know how good my thoughts can be, but I’ll try anyway.  Original Screenplay will likely go to Hurt Locker (it would be my vote), if only to make sure it gets its due if Avatar is the big winner.  Adapted Screenplay is a bit more tricky.  Without having seen An Education, I would be fine if that won, and then the two I’ve seen were Up In The Air and Precious.  While both of these were great movies, too, I might have to go with Up In The Air because (from what I hear) there was a bit more adapting done to make it work, and it’s probably the only place it will be recognized.
–Perhaps my biggest beef is that (500) Days of Summer wasn’t even nominated! — though it did with Spirit Award, so that made me happy.

Best Documentary
This is the other category of films I try to get myself to, and perhaps 2 of 5 isn’t bad when many of the movies are very selective in where they’ve played.  I did see the two apparent front-runners, The Cove and Food, Inc., both great in their own way, revealing things people should know about the a wider audience.  While I’d love for Food, Inc. to get out to a wider audience, The Cove was such an excellent “caper” of a film, getting such amazing raw video in secret, that I have to pull for it.

Best Actor
Is there any doubt this is Jeff Bridges award to lose?  He’s won (nearly?) every pre-Oscars award he could, and I think his performance was great.

Best Actress
I’m usually horrible at seeing the movies with the nominees of this category, and this year is no different.  I’ve only seen Precious, and Gabourey Sidibe gave quite the amazing performance, and I’d probably vote for her.  However, the debate has been going over two veteran actresses, Sandra Bullock and Ms. Oscar herself Meryl Streep. I’m kind of rooting against Bullock simply because it seems the only reason she’s getting looked at is for playing “against type,” which really means simply you dug yourself into a type in the first place and now, look, you’re changing!  If Sidibe doesn’t win, how about another young actress, Carey Mulligan (An Education)?

Best Director
In another Avatar/Hurt Locker competition, it’s ex-spouses James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow.  I truly think Bigelow’s achievement in directing is the best, but watch out to see if Quentin Tarantino‘s fans could pull him through for Inglourious Basterds.

Best Animated Feature
So, I’ve only seen Up and Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Both were great in their own way, but Up was such a roller coaster of emotions and drama, it read like any live action film (perhaps that’s why it also finds itself in the Best Film category).  Either could win and I’d be happy, but it seems to be Up’s trophy to lose.

Best Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor
The final two categories I’m going to profile also seem to be locked up, with Mo’Nique getting the nod for Precious (another “against type” billing?) and Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds.  In a rare achievement for me, I’ve seen ALL the actresses in this category and NONE of the men.  Of the nominated women, Mo’Nique’s performance is definitely tops, and for the men — well, I just can’t say.

I hope you enjoyed this rundown.  Check out the Oscars live Sunday night, 7 March on ABC, and of course, coverage to be found elsewhere, too:
Entertainment Weekly
Yahoo! Movies
ABC News

my favorite movies of the 2000s, #23 and #24

Sunday 20 December 2009

And thus I continue with my 25 favorite movies of the 2000’s first decade.

#25: (500) Days of Summer (2009)

#24: FLOW: For Love Of Water (2008)
You’ll see more documentaries on my list, but just because this movie is at #24 doesn’t mean you should overlook it.  It tells the story of all things water.  It tells how corporations are raping the ground water and bottling it for big cash (not to mention how destructive all that plastic is).  It tells how in certain countries, water became a private entity, such that collecting rain water for personal use was illegal (thanks World Bank)!  It makes you realize just important water is (in case you didn’t realize it) and how much people in the U.S. take it for granted, and how if we continue to take it for granted, there could be horrible repercussions to pay.  It truly is a love poem for water, and you need to see it!  (I asked for it for Christmas, so maybe you can borrow it sometime soon.)

On a side note, the NY Times has been doing a great series about toxic water in the U.S.  Check out the various articles here.  (There are lots of great links to information for your local water supply anywhere in the U.S., so check it out if you have some time today or in the near future.)

#23: In The Bedroom (2001)
Because it’s been a good length of time since I saw this movie, I don’t remember it too much, but I do remember the awe I felt during and after watching it.  I saw this movie when I was still under 20 and early into my “serious” movie viewing, and it just hit me pretty hard.  You can get the synopsis somewhere else, but I will say it’s an intimate look at an adult family and how being dealt with unforeseen occurrences can change things more than you would ever believe.  Great performances from all involved!

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow!

my 25 favorite movies of the 2000s’ first decade

Saturday 19 December 2009

Whether you believe and realize it or not, we are only a few short days away from beginning a new decade!  It’s hard to believe we are 10 years beyond all the Y2K fiasco and the days of the 1900s.  While the end of a year is always a good time to make a list, the end of a decade seems even better to me, especially for something like movies.

According to my records, I have watched 328 feature-length films make in the decade of the 00’s (which some are calling the “naughts”).  That list is early decade heavy, as I’ve only seen 10 movies thus far made in 2009.  (All my years and information are based on that given on the Internet Movie DataBase.)  That being said, a more complete list might be made in a few years when I’ve had a chance to catch up further on recent movies in a way similar to what I’ve done for movies of the earlier part of the decade.

(Upon thinking about how many movies I might have watched in the past decade, it’s easy to calculate from the above stats that I’ve averaged about 2.7 movies a month.  However, as that only accounts for “recent” movies and not older movies watched during that time, I’ve watched far more than 328 movies that last ten years, upping my average a number I cannot count.  However, since my records indicate I’ve watched 725 movies in my life, I’d guess I’ve watched more than half of those in the past 10 years.  But I digress…)

So, I wanted to share with you in the remaining days of this decade my 25 favorite movies of the past 10 years.  I must note that this list only contains movies I’ve seen, which may not include some you would put on your list.

Before I jump off with #25 today (and continue on with about two every day through the end of the year, with a few surprise lists included, too, to keep you on your toes), here are a few notable movies you won’t see on my list simply because I haven’t seen them yet!

Avatar, Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others), Der Untergang (Downfall), Inglourious Basterds, Napoleon Dynamite, Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (Spirited Away), Sin City, Up, V for Vendetta, WALL-E, and any of the Bourne series
(You can see a list of every movie I have seen here: peliculas de eric)

I’d love to have comments along the way, too!

And now,  without any further ado, let the list begin!

#25: (500) Days of Summer (2009)
The only movie of the year to make my list, I enjoyed this movie for a few reasons.  Firstly, the script is like no other, both funny and true-to-life.  It’s a love story told all out of joint, non-chronologically, focusing on the ups and downs of a relationship and recognizing there are tons of feelings that accompany anyone who strives for love.  Some might call it “post-modern” in it’s approach to storytelling, which I of course fell in love with!  Plus, it stars the lovely Zooey Deschanel (a lovely actress AND singer — you’ll see her again on the list!) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt of 3rd Rock from the Sun fame, who was perfect for his role.  It’s optimistic without being (overly) sappy, at least for this viewer, and I’d love to see more creatively written “love stories” like this one.