Monday, December 31, 2012

If I Had An OSCAR Ballot ...

... It would look something like this. Please keep in mind that while I loved certain movies (like THE RAID and THE GREY, which as you'll read soon, were two of my top-10 movies of 2012) it's hard to vote for them for Best Picture. These have to be somewhat REALISTIC choices, otherwise there would be no point to this exercise. Also of note: I haven't seen AMOUR and I have abstained from voting in categories which I am ill-informed about (like Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Art Direction, Original Song) or could not find five choices for due to my lack of familiarity with the possible nominees (all shorts categories). Feel free to show off your own Oscar ballot in the comments section below, and thanks in advance for reading. I hope you enjoy my choices.

Important Note: An asterisk (*) denotes my vote to WIN.

BEST PICTURE

Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
The Impossible
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Moonrise Kingdom
The Sessions
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty*

BEST DIRECTOR

Ben Affleck, Argo
Juan Antonio Bayona, The Impossible
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty*
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

BEST ACTOR

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
John Hawkes, The Sessions*
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

BEST ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook*
Michelle Williams, Take This Waltz
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Smashed

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained*
Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Emily Blunt, Looper
Ann Dowd, Compliance
Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises
Kara Hayward, Moonrise Kingdom
Helen Hunt, The Sessions*

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Django Unchained
The Master
Moonrise Kingdom
Safety Not Guaranteed
Zero Dark Thirty*

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Lincoln
Rust and Bone
Silver Linings Playbook*

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Frankenweenie*
ParaNorman
Wreck-It Ralph

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope
The Imposter*
Room 237
Shut Up and Play the Hits
West of Memphis

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FEATURE

A Hijacking
Michael
The Raid
Rust and Bone*
Snabba Cash

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

The Impossible
Life of Pi
The Master*
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Magic Mike
Moonrise Kingdom*

BEST EDITING

Argo
The Impossible
Life of Pi
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty*

BEST MAKEUP

Hitchcock*
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Men in Black 3

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Compliance*
The Impossible
The Raid
Zero Dark Thirty

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

The Hobbit
The Impossible
Flight
Life of Pi*
Prometheus

BEST ENSEMBLE (not an actual award)

Argo
Lincoln
Django Unchained
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Silver Linings Playbook*

FINAL TALLY (out of 18):

Zero Dark Thirty - 4 (Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Editing)
Silver Linings Playbook - 3 (Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Ensemble)
The Sessions - 2 (Actor, Supporting Actress)
Compliance 1 - (Original Score)
Django Unchained - 1 (Supporting Actor)
Frankenweenie - 1 (Animated Feature)
Hitchcock - 1 (Makeup)
The Imposter - 1 (Documentary Feature)
Life of Pi - 1 (Visual Effects)
The Master - 1 (Cinematography)
Moonrise Kingdom - 1 (Costume Design)
Rust and Bone - 1 (Foreign Language Feature)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Christopher Nolan on Aurora Tragedy


Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of “The Dark Knight Rises”, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime.  The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

FINAL 2012 OSCAR NOMINATION PREDICTIONS

T-minus 2 hours, so I'd better get these on the record quick!

BEST PICTURE
The Artist
The Descendants
The Help
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
The Tree of Life
War Horse

BEST DIRECTOR
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo

BEST ACTOR
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

BEST ACTRESS
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Albert Brooks, Drive
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

50/50
The Artist
Bridesmaids
Midnight in Paris
A Separation

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Descendants
The Help
Hugo
Moneyball
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Ugh, I hate all of these and want to just start from scratch but I'm exhausted, so I'm posting them without much thought. Fingers crossed tomorrow!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

THE WORST 10 MOVIES OF 2011

Sitting through these movies was akin to torture. We've got one critically acclaimed arthouse film, three DOA Sundance movies, three big-budget bombs, 2 VOD premieres and a studio "comedy." Each one is to be avoided at all costs.

10. MELANCHOLIA – A pretty yet pretentious, not to mention pointless exercise in sheer boredom from agent provocateur Lars von Trier. I have more respect for The Tree of Life! At least that was about something... I think.

9. THE DETAILS – I loved Jacob Aaron Estes’ Mean Creek, but The Details was just a complete mess. Horrible voiceover, hammy acting & a terrible script. It features Laura Linney giving Tobey Maguire a blowjob, which is probably why it has been sitting on a shelf for a year. Seriously, who wants to pay to see that?

8. I MELT WITH YOU – This movie made me wish I’d signed a suicide pact with my own high school friends. Pellington's gotta take this shit back to film school and work out his issues.

7. THE SON OF NO ONE – Didn’t see the re-edited version that was cobbled together after its disastrous Sundance screening, but can't imagined it improved much. Just a goofy, self-serious story featuring some solid actors giving embarrassing performances. C'mon, Pacino! You're better than this!

6. GREEN LANTERN – What the fuck happened here? The first 30 minutes were a total joke. Second straight year a Ryan Reynolds movie has made my Worst 10 list. Amateur VFX, a ridiculous plot, a silly villain and a bland love interest hobble this superhero pic. Thank God auds steered clear of this turd and spared us all a sequel... for now.

5. COWBOYS & ALIENS – Popcorn garbage for the masses. How much more boring can Daniel Craig get outside of the Bond franchise. Harrison Ford can’t possibly chew more scenery. The story was insulting. Something about aliens needing gold. Who comes up with this shit? A big-budget slog to sit through. Speaking of those...

4. BATTLE: LOS ANGELES – Was so excited to see this movie due to a great trailer, but it was just loud, action nonsense that I’ve seen a million times before. It took no risks and did nothing to differentiate itself. Director Jonathan Liebesman let me down here, as did the one-note Aaron Eckhart, who is so much better than this B-movie material.

3. TRESPASS – Joel Schumacher has made a lot of great movies, and it's sad to see what has become of his once-promising career. How do you waste not one, but TWO Oscar winners in Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman? This was a generic, by-the-numbers thriller that debuted on VOD for a reason: it sucked.

2. THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE II: FULL SEQUENCE – Talk about a dude out of ideas. While I liked the premise in theory, Tom Six just kept throwing more shit (literally) at the screen to see what would stick, and ultimately, none of it did. This is lowest common denominator filmmaking and fairly offensive, which is not a word I throw around lightly. Just utter garbage.

1. YOUR HIGHNESS – A crass, stupid, schlocky, laugh-free movie. Shocking how so many funny people can work together to create something so lame and out of touch. This was staggeringly awful, but I KNEW it would be going into it, so I have only myself (and Universal) to blame. What has happened to the David Gordon Green we all knew and loved? He needs to leave comedies behind him and focus on making Brad Land's hazing memoir Goat... or anything that's worth his time.

IF I HAD AN OSCAR BALLOT...

... It would look an awful lot like this. And keep in mind, while I LOVED movies like Bellflower & Hesher, I'm not sure I'd put them on an OSCAR ballot. They're perfect for my personal Top 10, but these are movies that realistically might have a chance, however small, of getting serious awards recognition.

BEST PICTURE

50/50
Beginners
The Descendants
Drive
The Help
The Ides of March
Moneyball
Super 8
Warrior
Win Win

BEST DIRECTOR

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Steve McQueen, Shame
Bennett Miller, Moneyball
Gavin O’Connor, Warrior
Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive

BEST ACTOR

Demian Bichir, A Better Life
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Michael Shannon, Take Shelter

BEST ACTRESS

Olivia Colman, Tyrannosaur
Viola Davis, The Help
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Charlize Theron, Young Adult

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Albert Brooks, Drive
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Patton Oswalt, Young Adult
Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain, The Help
Elle Fanning, Super 8
Bryce Dallas Howard, The Help
Carey Mulligan, Shame
Octavia Spencer, The Help

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

50/50
A Better Life
Midnight in Paris
Win Win
Young Adult

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Descendants
Drive
The Ides of March
Moneyball
The Skin I Live In

2011 MOVIE LIST ... 137 & COUNTING!

It's back again and better than ever!

THE STANDOUTS (18) - This should go without saying, but these are all must-sees.

Win Win ***1/2
Warrior ***1/2
I Saw the Devil ***1/2
Drive ***1/2
50/50 ***1/2
Hesher ***
Bellflower ***
Moneyball ***
Young Adult ***
The Ides of March ***
Super 8 ***
The Debt ***
A Better Life ***
Rango ***
Kidnapped ***
Rise of the Planet of the Apes ***
War Horse ***
POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold ***

THE GOOD (36) - These represent quality filmmaking all-around.

Attack the Block ***
Red State ***
Bridesmaids ***
Contagion ***
Shame ***
Take Shelter ***
Midnight in Paris ***
The Help ***
The Descendants ***
Martha Marcy May Marlene ***
Beginners ***
The Skin I Live In ***
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol ***
Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within ***
Tyrannosaur ***
Sound of My Voice ***
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close ***
We Need To Talk About Kevin ***
The Trip ***
Hanna ***
Page One ***
Friends With Benefits ***
The Change Up ***
Cedar Rapids ***
Ceremony ***
Submarine ***
Exporting Raymond ***
Jeff, Who Lives at Home ***
The Robber ***
Water For Elephants ***
Another Happy Day ***
Hall Pass ***
Source Code ***
The Lincoln Lawyer ***
Bernie ***
Still Screaming **1/2

THE GOOD... BUT SHOULD'VE BEEN BETTERS (21) - Why weren't these good movies better? I don't really know. But they should be. Hence, the name of this section.

The Artist ***
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo ***
Crazy Stupid Love ***
The Hangover Part II ***
X-Men: First Class **1/2
J. Edgar **1/2
Kill List **1/2
The Devil's Double **1/2
Paranormal Activity 3 **1/2
Miss Bala **1/2
My Week With Marilyn **1/2
Dirty Girl **1/2
The Guard **1/2
The Beaver **1/2
Margin Call **1/2
Bad Teacher **1/2
Super **1/2
Grave Encounters **1/2
Immortals **1/2
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark **1/2
American: The Bill Hicks Story **1/2

THE GUILTY PLEASURES (16) - These are movies that I shouldn't like but I do, for one reason or another. I only feel ashamed because the Internet tells me I'm supposed to.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas ***
Hobo With a Shotgun ***
Fast Five ***
Final Destination 5 ***
Just Go With It ***
Fright Night ***
Transformers: Dark of the Moon **1/2
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows **1/2
Take Me Home Tonight **1/2
The Green Hornet **1/2
Thor **1/2
The Double **1/2
The Mechanic **1/2
The Woman **1/2
Unknown **
Zookeeper **

THE UNDERWHELMING DISAPPOINTMENTS (37) - Chalk it up to expectations but these movies just didn't cut it for me.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy **1/2
Straw Dogs **1/2
Snowtown ** 1/2
Texas Killing Fields **1/2
Our Idiot Brother **1/2
Captain America **1/2
Paul **1/2
Horrible Bosses **1/2
Tower Heist **1/2
The Adventures of Tintin **
Hugo **
30 Minutes or Less **
Machine Gun Preacher **
Something Borrowed **
Rampart **
Page Eight **
The Adjustment Bureau **
The Tree of Life **
Scream 4 **
Limitless **
Insidious **
Knuckle **
Cold Weather **
The Dilemma **
The Sitter **
Fireflies in the Garden **
Real Steel **
Rubber **
The Catechism Cataclysm **
Peep World *1/2
The Rum Diary *1/2
Everything Must Go *1/2
A Dangerous Method *1/2
Coriolanus *1/2
Carnage * 1/2
The Thing *1/2
The Details *1/2

THE BAD (9) - For better or worse, I just don't know what these movies were thinking.

Melancholia *1/2
I Melt With You *1/2
The Son of No One *1/2
Green Lantern *1/2
Cowboys & Aliens *1/2
Battle: Los Angeles *
The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence *
Trespass 1/2*
Your Highness 1/2 *

OOPS, I MISSED (54): Abduction, Albert Nobbs, Anonymous, Arthur Christmas, Beautiful Boy, The Big Year, Buck, Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star, Colombiana, Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, The Conspirator, Cars 2, Cracks, The Darkest Hour, The Eagle, The Flowers of War, The Future, Good Neighbors, Happy Feet 2, Happythankyoumoreplease, Henry's Crime, In a Better World, Incendies, In Time, The Iron Lady, Jack and Jill, Jane Eyre, Killer Elite, Kill the Irishman, Kung Fu Panda 2, The Lady, The Ledge, The Lie, London Boulevard, Meek's Cutoff, Miral, NEDS, Project Nim, Puncture, Puss In Boots, Red Riding Hood, Retreat, Salvation Boulevard, Senna, Septien, Sympathy For Delicious, Tabloid, Terri, The Three Musketeers, Trust, Vanishing on 7th St., We Are What We Are, What's Your Number?, Wrecked

COMING SOON (14): Another Earth, Brawler, Extraterrestrial, In the Land of Blood and Honey, The Last Circus, Like Crazy, Margaret, The Muppets, Pariah, Point Blank, A Separation, Sleeping Beauty, We Bought a Zoo, Weekend

Friday, January 20, 2012

THE INSNEIDER'S TOP 10 of 2011

I've been putting off making this list because I consider these types of things so terribly final, when really they're just snapshots in time, as memories evolve. Sometimes you just happen to make up your mind 3 hours before you leave for Sundance, which really kicks off the new year in terms of moviegoing. Without further ado... here goes nothing. Send all hate mail to theinsneider@gmail.com, and please excuse the cop-outs.

10. (tie) ATTACK THE BLOCK and SUPER 8
Joe Cornish, come on down! You're the next contestant on MAJOR HOLLYWOOD DIRECTOR! I thought this movie was overhyped... and then I saw it. The classic movie it reminded me of? Ghostbusters. John Boyega is a star in the making. The Basement Jaxx score was sick! The monsters were simply designed yet they looked really cool. Just a wildly entertaining alien invasion movie set in a unique location. And it was made on the cheap, not that I think about a movie's budget while I watch.
On the other end of the spectrum lies Super 8, the movie Steven Spielberg probably wishes he directed this year, and I say that as a fan of War Horse. J.J. Abrams is batting .1000 in my book. While this movie had its share of 3rd act problems, everything around it was gold. Just pure cinema. Another movie about filmmaking involving kids, only unlike Hugo, it's actually fun to watch. Joel Courtney is a nice find & Elle Fanning was every bit as good as Shailene Woodley in The Descendants. Loved its opening frames, the train crash, the gas station scene, the projector scene, the love triangle, the friendships, the score. Hell, i even dug the locket device. Only next time J.J., cool it with those lens flares. Seriously.

9. (tie) BELLFLOWER and HESHER
Evan Glodell & Spencer Susser are filmmakers to watch, or rather, listen to, since they each have a unique voice. These movies are a little messy but life's edges are never smooth. Joseph Gordon-Levitt just goes for it in Hesher & Devin Brochu impressed the hell out of me considering how much is asked of him. Plus it featured music by Metallica, which is the quickest way to my heart.
Bellflower also features some bitchin' mood music. I had no idea what I was sitting down to see when I caught this at Sundance with my occasional Twitter sparring partner but eternal idol Drew McWeeny, and I think I can safely say that both of us were blown away. Just raw and real and bat-shit insane. I mean, it's protagonist is named Woodrow for fuck's sake! But I loved it. Long live Medusa!

8. CONTAGION
It played even better on second viewing. Loved the end, when Steven Soderbergh reveals how all the storylines tie together. It made me think, which is more than I can say about most movies. And that prom scene? Touching stuff. This was so much more than a star-studded disaster flick. Let's just pray it's not the future.

7. YOUNG ADULT
I'm not a huge Diablo Cody fan but I'll be damned if this isn't one of the best scripts of the year. I'll put it this way: This is my favorite movie from Jason Reitman, who has improved his storytelling skills with each movie he has made. Charlize Theron gives the best female performance I saw all year. Like she did in Monster, for which she won an Oscar, the South African beauty just goes for it here and plays the character as written, warts and all. Patton Oswalt has never been better and their odd couple relationship was genuinely affecting to watch, perhaps because I have a couple friendships like that, with girls who wouldn't give me the time of day back in high school. I'm glad some things change, even if the characters in this movie don't, which in my opinion, is the whole point.

6. MONEYBALL
Steven Soderbergh leaving to go direct like 4 other movies is the best thing that ever happened to this film, because director Bennett Miller knocked it out of the park. Easily my favorite film from a major studio this year. Glad to see Brad Pitt get some recognition for his tricky performance here, because I've long felt that he's an underrated actor overshadowed by his looks, which isn't as bad a problem as it sounds. He works wonders with the subtle nuances in this material and thank God that Jonah Hill was up to the challenge of standing toe-to-toe with him. Both these guys deserve Oscar nominations, and who would've said that 2 years ago? Even the dude who played David Justice was good! And that score is great in a Social Network kind of way.

5. 50/50
Not many movies can balance comedy and tragedy as skillfully as this. JGL once again stands out as a kid my age who's diagnosed with some crazy cancer. I was a little underwhelmed emotionally for the first hour as the main character tries to play it cool, but when the gravity of the situation hits him... it's simply devastating. Joe deserves the same Oscar nod Jesse Eisenberf earned last year. He's among the finest actors of his generation. I hear he owes it all to French Stewart. HA! Roger and Bryce are great in supporting roles, and Anna Kendrick is still quite good as Anna Kendrick. Jonathan Levine continues to grow as a filmmaker and this is evidence of his eye-opening evolution. Let's give Will Reiser credit too. Not only did he wrte a script, he beat cancer! I smell awards in his future...

4. I SAW THE DEVIL
Forget The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, this is the best serial killer thriller of the year. It's a long subtitled movie but you never feel the running time. The violence comes fast and furious, but in order for it to have the impact it does, you have to be emotionally invested in the characters. Can't say enough good things about this one, which is crying out for an English-language remake at Warner Bros. with 2 of either Leo, Ben or Matt. Take your pick. Leo was supposed to play Patrick Bateman back in the day and is now developing a movie about H.H. Holmes, so clearly he's open to playing a serial killer. After all, Brad Pitt did it 20 years ago,,,

3. DRIVE
The coolest movie of the year starring the coolest actor of the year, who counts 3 solid movies and 1 broken-up fight on his 2011 resume. I went as Ryan Gosling's character Driver for Halloween. Albert Brooks was mahvelous playing against type. Oscar Isaac owns the screen during his limited screentime. Perlman has the perfect face to play such a menacing Joombah. Nicolas Winding Refn pulled off 2 of the best scenes of the year in addition to curating its best soundtrack, I've seen it 4 times and I'm already ready for #5. Now the $64,000 question: To sequel or not to sequel?

2. WIN WIN
Saw it at Sundance and it has stayed with me ever since. Tom McCarthy wrote the best screenplay of the year. Paul Giamatti is excellent, as usual (The Ides of March just missed the cut for this list), but Bobby Cannavale steals this movie along with naturalistic newcomer Alex Shaffer, who has a bright future ahead of him. This is a smartly observed slice of modern day life. Financial problems, family turmoil, and good old-fashioned wrestling. How can you not like this movie!

1, WARRIOR
There can only be one champion and this is undoubtedly it. I cried the first time and was still crying the 4th time. Maybe it's because I have 2 brothers but I found this sports story remarkably moving. Sure it's built on some classic cliches, but those exist for a reason. Tom Hardy is a certified star and his scene with a drunk Nick Nolte should be used for the latter's Oscar clip, provided he lands the nomination he deserves. The only problem with this movie are the cutaways to those annoying high school kids. Otherwise, it's an overlooked masterpiece of machismo. A stunning finale, which like Win Win, takes advantage of The National's strange power. Bravo to Gavin O'Connor! Rent it on DVD, since I doubt you caught it in theaters. It's inexplicable that this failed to catch on with mainstream audiences. I loved it.