Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011 Academy Award Predictions

Below are my rankings for the Top 40 Films of 2010 along with my predictions for the Academy Awards. I've ranked all the nominees I've seen by my preference in the category, then alphabetically for those I have not. I listed my prediction for the win, a possible spoiler and which film should have been recognized in each category (so if I list three 'should have been here' contenders it means I would replace the bottom three candidates in my ranking of the nominees with those to form my ideal ballot).

Best Picture:

1. 127 Hours
2. Toy Story 3
3. The Social Network
4. The King's Speech
5. Inception
6. True Grit
7. Black Swan
8. Winter's Bone
9. The Fighter
10. The Kids are All Right

Will Win: The King's Speech
Could Win: The Social Network
Should Have Been Here: The Town, Shutter Island, Carlos, Let Me In

An amazing year in the category, for once I genuinely liked every nominee.

Best Director

1. David Fincher, The Social Network
2. Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
3. Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit
4. Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
5. David O. Russell, The Fighter

Will Win: David Fincher
Could Win: Tom Hooper
Should Have Been Here: Danny Boyle, 127 Hours; Christopher Nolan, Inception; Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island

Best Actor

1. James Franco, 127 Hours
2. Colin Firth, The King's Speech
3. Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
4. Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Javier Bardem, Biutiful

Will Win: Colin Firth
Could Win: null
Should Have Been Here: Leonardo DiCaprio, Shutter Island; Andrew Garfield, Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974; Edgar Ramirez, Carlos

Best Actress

1. Natalie Portman, Black Swan
2. Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
3. Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
4. Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
5. Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right

The only poor selection here would be Bening who wasn't even the best female lead in her movie (Julianne Moore gave a far more interesting performance)

Will Win: Natalie Portman
Could Win: Annette Bening
Should Have Been Here: Rachel Weisz, Agora; Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs; Emma Stone, Easy A; Chloe Moretz, Let Me In; Patricia Clarkson, Cairo Time

Best Supporting Actor

1. Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech
2. Jeremy Renner, The Town
3. Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
4. Christian Bale, The Fighter
5. John Hawkes, Winter's Bone

Another superb set of nominees, all are deserving

Will Win: Christian Bale
Could Win: Geoffrey Rush
Should Have Been Here: Andrew Garfield, The Social Network; Joe Anderson, The Crazies

Best Supporting Actress

1. Amy Adams, The Fighter
2. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
3. Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
4. Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
5. Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Sadly, it looks like Melissa Leo is going to win for a scenery chewing over the top performance.

Will Win: Melissa Leo
Could Win: Hailee Steinfeld, Helena Bonham Carter
Should Have Been Here: Mila Kunis, Black Swan; Olivia Williams, The Ghost Writer; Soledad Villamil, The Secret in Their Eyes; Mia Wasikowski, The Kids Are All Right

Best Animated Film

1. Toy Story 3
2. How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist

Will Win: Toy Story 3
Could Win: null
Could Have Been Here: Tangled, Despicable Me

Best Foreign Language Film

1. Dogtooth (Greece)
Biutiful (Mexico)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Incendies (Canada)
Outside the Law (Algeria)

Will Win: Biutiful
Could Win: In a Better World
Should Have Been Here: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sweden)

Best Documentary Feature

1. Restrepo
2. Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Waste Land

Will Win: Inside Job
Could Win: Exit Through the Gift Shop
Should Have Been Here: Waking Sleeping Beauty

Best Original Screenplay

1. The King's Speech
2. The Kids Are All Right
3. The Fighter
4. Inception
Another Year

Will Win: The Kids Are All Right
Could Win: The King's Speech
Should Have Been Here: Black Swan, Monsters, Carlos

Best Adapted Screenplay

1, Toy Story 3
2. 127 Hours
3. The Social Network
4. True Grit
5. Winter's Bone

Will Win: The Social Network
Could Win: null
Should Have Been Here: The Town

Best Art Direction

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
2. True Grit
3. Inception
4. The King's Speech
5. Alice in Wonderland

Will Win: Inception
Could Win: The King's Speech
Should Have Been Here: Black Swan, Shutter Island, The Wolfman

Best Cinematography

1. True Grit
2. Black Swan
3. Inception
4. The Social Network
5. The King's Speech

Will Win: True Grit
Could Win: The King's Speech
Should Have Been Here: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, 127 Hours, Shutter Island, The Way Back

Best Film Editing

1. 127 Hours
2. The Social Network
3. Black Swan
4. The King's Speech
5. The Fighter

Will Win: The Social Network
Could Win: The King's Speech
Should Have Been Here: Inception, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Shutter Island

Best Visual Effects

1. Inception
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
3. Iron Man 2
4. Alice in Wonderland
5. Hereafter

Will Win: Inception
Could Win: Alice in Wonderland
Could Have Been Here: Scott Pilgrim vs the World, The Social Network

Best Original Score

1. 127 Hours, A.R. Rahman
2. The Social Network, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
3. Inception, Hans Zimmer
4. How to Train Your Dragon, John Powell
5. The King's Speech, Alexandre Desplat

Will Win: The Social Network
Could Win: Inception
Should Have Been Here: Never Let Me Go, Rachel Portman; TRON: Legacy, Daft Punk; Toy Story 3, Randy Newman; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Alexandre Desplat

Best Original Song

1. "I See the Light" (Tangled)
2. "We Belong Together" (Toy Story 3)
3. "If I Rise" (127 Hours)
4. "Coming Home" (Country Strong)

Will Win: "I See the Light"
Could Win: "If I Rise," "We Belong Together"
Should Have Been Here: "Eclipse: All Yours" (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse)

Best Sound Editing

1. TRON: Legacy
2. Inception
3. Unstoppable
4. True Grit
5. Toy Story 3

Will Win: Inception
Could Win: True Grit
Should Have Been Here: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 127 Hours, How to Train Your Dragon

Best Sound Mixing

1. Inception
2. Salt
3. True Grit
4. The Social Network
5. The King's Speech

Will Win: Inception
Could Win: Salt
Should Have Been Here: TRON: Legacy, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 127 Hours, Shutter Island, The Crazies

Best Costume Design

1. True Grit
2. The King's Speech
3. Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The Tempest

Will Win: The King's Speech
Could Win: Alice in Wonderland
Should Have Been Here: Black Swan, Robin Hood, The Way Back, The Wolfman

Best Makeup

1. The Wolfman
2. Barney's Version
3. The Way Back

Will Win: The Wolfman
Could Win: Barney's Version
Should Have Been Here: Black Swan

Best Animated Short

1. Day and Night
The Gruffalo
Let's Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, a Journey Diary

Will Win: Madagascar, a Journey Diary
Could Win: any
Should Have Been Here: DC Showcase: Green Arrow

Best Live Action Short

The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143

Will Win: The Confession
Could Win: any
Should Have Been Here: Paper Bag

Best Documentary Short

Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

Will Win: The Warriors of Qiugang
Could Win: Strangers No More
Should Have Been Here: (Abstain)

Top 40 Movies of 2011
40. Agora
39. Edge of Darkness
38. The Disappearance of Alice Creed
37. Salt
36. Cairo Time
35. The Company Men
34. The Kids Are All Right
33. Tangled
32. Animal Kingdom
31. How to Train Your Dragon
30. Iron Man 2
29. A Prophet (Un proph├Ęte)
28. Blue Valentine
27. Kick-Ass
26. Unstoppable
25. The Fighter
24. Never Let Me Go
23. The Crazies
22. Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974
21. Winter's Bone
20. The Way Back
19. Exit Through the Gift Shop
18. The Secret in Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos)
17. Rabbit Hole
16. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
15. Black Swan
14. Monsters
13. Restrepo
12. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
11. The Ghost Writer
10. Let Me In
9. True Grit
8. Inception
7. Shutter Island
6. Carlos
5. The King's Speech
4. The Social Network
3. The Town
2. Toy Story 3
1. 127 Hours

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl Movie Commercials

The Eagle (February 11)*

Sadly, the ads make The Eagle look like a lightweight version of Gladiator starring the very un-Roman Channing Tatum. They'd be better suited emphasizing the quality of filmmaker involved (director Kevin MacDonald also made State of Play and The Last King of Scotland) and the top flight supporting cast (Donald Sutherland, Jamie Bell, Mark Strong, Tahir Rahim) instead of poorly trying to pander to fans of dumb action movies. Also, I can't imagine many Americans would understand what the significance of 'the' eagle is to a Roman soldier so why not either keep the film's original title (The Eagle of the Ninth) or come up with something stupider to pander to American audiences.

Just Go With It (February 11)*

Better than those horrific Facebook status inspired commercials that litter the airwaves lately, the Just Go With It Super Bowl commercial at least seems to sell the movie's box office strengths: Adam Sandler-style humor and Brooklyn Decker in a bikini. It does look like a step-up from the last few more family friendly (Grown Ups and Bedtime Stories) and serious (Funny People) Adam Sandler movies. Interesting that the marketing department has completely removed Nicole Kidman from the trailers and commercials as she has one of the film's largest roles.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (February 11)**

Absolutely no interest here, but credit should go to the marketing department for making this at least appear to be a Bieber biopic instead of just another overpriced 3D concert film (like Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, U2 and The Rolling Stones in recent years).

I Am Number Four (February 18)*
<a href="" target="_new" title="">Dreamworks: 'I Am Number Four'</a>
I believe I Am Number Four is supposed to feel like the epic start of a new franchise but it justs seems a bit dull. The lead actor, Alex Pettyfer, seems to lack any of the necessary charisma to carry an action movie. At least this spot emphasizes great TV actor Timothy Olyphant, but I can't imagine he is going to put many asses in theater seats.

Drive Angry: Shot in 3D (February 25)*

It seems remarkable to me that in the course of two months Nicolas Cage could have two of the worst movies ever released. At the very least this one seems to be embracing a spirit of trashy fun more than Season of the Witch. However, they've done nothing in the marketing to suggest this is the sort of movie that merits the extra money for 3D despite the commercial begging otherwise.

The Adjustment Bureau (March 4)*

I have no idea why they're advertising this as a trashy scifi action movie. The movie is full of damn good actors (Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, John Slattery, Terrence Stamp, Anthony Mackie) and is every bit as much a love story as an action movie. If they bring the focus back to the Damon-Blunt love story and try to appeal to a more upscale viewer I think they'd have a far better shot at making some money.

Rango (March 4)

To Rango's credit, it sports the only unique look and style of the many animated movies marketed last night. With an appearance that seems computer generated by way of Ray Harryhausen creations (think: the original Clash of the Titans) and a relatively funny trailer I think Rango's marketing is right on to capture a broad audience.

Take Me Home Tonight (March 4)**

Didn't this movie come out last year under the title Hot Tub Time Machine, only with funnier actors? Seems like nothing more than a bland 80s-set sex comedy with an unappealing lead actor.

Battle: Los Angeles (March 11)*

Late last year a movie was released called Skyline. The directors of Skyline are special effects gurus who created new effects technology for use in Battle: Los Angeles. They then re-utilized that technology and cranked out the atrocious Skyline in just a few months. By making another aliens invade Los Angeles movie, they're effectively undercutting the movie that bankrolled the creation of the new effects technology. Thankfully, it looks like Battle: Los Angeles has exciting and unique enough commercials to sell this premise. The commercial hits all the right notes, giving the viewer a look at the lead actors, the plot and the action. More importantly, the effects look impressive enough that it has more of a summer 'feel' than the typical March movie so it should play out like a major event at the box office.

Mars Needs Moms (March 11)
<a href="" target="_new" title="">Dreamworks: 'I Am Number Four'</a>
Using the lifeless zombie animation style of film's like The Polar Express and Beowulf and sporting a broad, bland sense of humor, Mars Needs Moms looks like an absolute dud.

Limitless (March 18)

Bradley Cooper as a smarmy guy who knows everything seems like perfect casting, De Niro looks motivated and Kanye music fits the premise extremely well. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the movie is awful, but for now I'm sold.

Hop (April 1)*

One of the worst previews of the night, Hop's commercial told us basically nothing about the film's plot or premise. The animation style seems bland and Song 2 by Blur was a better fit in trailers nearly15 years ago when paired with movies like Starship Troopers.

Rio (April 15)

Another nominee for worst commercials of the night, Rio looks colorful but the trailer tells us next to nothing about what to expect from the movie. With so much animation on the schedule, movies need to stand out and Rio utterly fails to.

Fast Five (April 29)

I didn't particularly care for Fast & Furious (the series' 4th film), but for some reason I find myself pretty excited for the sequel. Throwing in some parkour and The Rock seem like good moves to keep the enjoyably trashy series strong. An impressive money shot at the end of the commercial of Diesil and Walker jumping out of a car flying off a cliff and 'The Summer Begins' tagline make for a solid way to sell Fast Five as an event movie.

Thor (May 6)

I want to be excited for this movie SO badly, but the marketing so far just isn't really hitting home for me. I think that the movie is fantastically well cast, that Kenneth Branagh is an inspired choice of director and that the efforts to link Thor into the upcoming Avengers movie should keep it from getting to fantasy-esque. But this commercial is just kind of uninspiring. A lot of mediocre CGI (what the hell is that creature at the end of the commercial?), hokey costumes and unimpressive action are making me pretty nervous about Thor.

Priest (May 13)*

Why is this January junk being released during the summer?!? The same star and director as 2010's mediocre January Legion, along with a weaker supporting cast and a 3D post-conversion that is all but certain to damage eyeballs, make Priest look like a disaster on the horizon.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May 20)

I like that the commercials seems to emphasize that gone are the convoluted plots of Pirates 2 and 3, replaced by a back to basics approach that hearkens backs to the superb original film. I can't quite put my fingers on it - I don't know if it's the fact that Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are gone or the change in director to Rob Marshall (Chicago) from Gore Verbinski - but something about this trailer leaves me a bit uninspired. Maybe the sequels have already done too much damage to the franchise.

Kung Fu Panda 2 (May 27)*

The commercials is a decent enough play on the classic sports anthem 'We Will Rock You' and the character is likable enough that the movie watchable. I don't understand Dreamworks' hubris with this series though - they've already planned for 5 sequels.

Super 8 (June 10)

Seemingly I'm in the minority, but the trailer for J.J. Abrams' Super 8 was a big hit for me. Intended as a tribute to Steven Spielberg's early career, Super 8's commercial manages to evoke E.T., Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in just 30 seconds. Not a great idea about the exact plot, but it's clear enough some sort of creature escapes from a train in a 70s town. Nice to see a summer movie starring role for Kyle Chandler, so good on Friday Night Lights.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (July 1)

The big surprise of the night for me. Like most, I hated Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but I've been cautiously optimistic about the fact that Michael Bay seems to recognize the many ways the first Transformers sequel went astray. The Super Bowl commercials was basically 30 seconds of Chicago getting absolutely ravaged by Transformers, capped off by an impressive long take shot of Optimus Prime fighting his way through the city streets. Michael Bay can still craft some of the most impressive action scenes in Hollywood and, mercifully, this dark commercial suggests a stark move away from the horrifically stupid humor of Transformers 2.

Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22)

The trailer was a tiny bit of a disappointment for me. I loved the designs and the World War II setting (director Joe Johnston previously made The Rocketeer and was a key art director and special effects designer for the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones series), but the action seemed somewhat unimpressive. Tough to tell much of anything about Chris Evans' performance (he says five words in the trailer), but it does sadly seems like his signature humor will be part of the role. Cautiously optimistic about Captain America at this point.

Cowboys and Aliens (July 29)

The director of Iron Man (Jon Favreau) plus the star of Casino Royale and, arguably, the greatest 'event movie' actor of all time equals a movie for which I'm damn excited. Despite the dumb title, Cowboys and Aliens looks like it's going to sport a motivated Harrison Ford, top flight action, a great supporting cast (Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Paul Dano, Keith Carradine, Walton Goggins) and some fantastically bizarre creature and set designs. Cowboys and Aliens is probably the movie I'm most excited for in the summer of 2011 and this commercial only strengthened that notion.

* denotes a movie trailer that aired before the Super Bowl
** denotes a movie trailer that aired during the post-Super Bowl episode of Glee