Posts Tagged ‘Moneyball

23
Feb
12

OW 2012: Best Picture

Brad Pitt wonders whether or not he'll pick up a Best Picture Oscar for being a producer on Moneyball.

This year the Academy implemented new rules that basically stated that depending on how nomination voting goes, there would be no set number of nominees for the Best Picture category as in year’s past. Through there would always be a minimum of five nominations, up to ten total could make the ballot depending on how voting went. Which is how we ended up this year with an odd number of nine Best Picture nominees.

I personally like this rule change even better than implementing the mandatory ten nominations that we’ve had the past two years. It still gives us the potential for more than five films to score a Best Picture nomination, but doesn’t force films in there that might not be worthy. Also, it definitely adds a sense of mystery leading up to the nominations as no one really knows which additional films will make it in (it’s almost like March Madness bracketology in some respects).

Something to remember about this category, it’s the only Oscar category that the entire Academy can vote on. Depending on what branch of the Academy a person is in, they can only vote on awards in those categories (ie: someone in the actor’s branch can’t vote on the Sound Mixing category, etc). In any case, here we are this year with nine nominees for Best Picture.

Who I Think SHOULD Win: The Descendants

I’ve been singing it’s praises for a while now and out of all the other films in the field, I like The Descendants the most. On a subconscious level it may be a homer pick, but aside from that it has a lot of other things going for it . . . first and foremost being great acting. Yes you’ve got Clooney in the starring role, but you’ve also got a great ensemble supporting him as well. Shailene Woodley first and foremost I think should have gotten a supporting nomination for her role as Matt King’s daughter. Then you’ve got really solid secondary performances by Robert Forster as Matt’s father-in-law and Judy Greer as the opposite spouse that’s been cheated on. Like I said, the cast is great top to bottom. The other thing that the film has going for it is great storytelling. I don’t know if it’s Kaui Hart Hemmings book or the way that Alexander Payne put the film together (probably both), but I thought they way everything unfolded, was explained, and felt; was great.

On everyone else . . .

The Artist: I like The Artist (as apparently so do a whole lot of other people). As a whole it’s wonderfully shot and wonderfully conceived, but like I mentioned in my previous posts about the actors’ race, I think the silent film “hook” of the film is what’s giving it a lot of play. Don’t get me wrong, the film has a lot going for it with great performances by both of the leads, but take away novelty and what have you got?

The Help: The film definitely has the best ensemble cast out of all the nominees with not just one, not just two, but count em, three actresses nominated for Oscars coming out of this film. The story is fun and the book is beloved by all. So why won’t it win? Partly because I don’t think there’s one singular thing for the audience to focus on in the film. When everyone in the cast is great–no one is great. Secondly, the Academy has a history of voting for smaller (not mainstream) films. I won’t be surprised if they go for another film over The Help. A lack of technical nominations isn’t going to help either.

Hugo: The film is a visual masterpiece and a wonderfully heartwarming story about the early days of cinema. And it’s also the one film that makes me wish I had a 3D TV (for when it comes out on blu-ray next week Tuesday). However, with no stand out acting performances in the film, it won’t take home Best Picture. Nostalgia is always best when you just look back fondly on things. Sadly, the same things goes for Hugo.

Midnight In Paris: Ok, Midnight is actually a curious case because it would seem like the perfect Oscar bait for The Academy to bite on. It’s got a great director in Woody Allen returning to form, it’s got art nostalgia with it’s main character visiting artists in the past, and it’s sent in Paris. But, Midnight is also afflicted with the same things that I just mentioned about Hugo . . . it doesn’t have great acting to support it and the nostalgia factor can only take it so far.

Moneyball: Like the Best Actor race, I really like Moneyball but it’s in my three spot after films I like more in The Descendants and The Artist. You’ve got wonderful performances anchoring with it and an unconventional sports story to boot. However, I think the story is too new for the Academy to recognize. Also, only a small percentage of sports films have been nominated for Oscars let alone have won the top prize (only three: Rocky-1976, Chariots of Fire-1981, & Million Dollar Baby-2004). With more to choose from with this year’s nominees, it’s going to be hard for Moneyball to snag the top prize.

War Horse: Everybody loves Steven Spielberg. Anytime he puts out a film you know it’s definitely worth going to see. Sadly though, I think our expectations for him our too high these days as I wasn’t all that amazed by War Horse. Don’t get me wrong, I was invested in Joey’s story and when he gets tripped up (literally) in No Man’s Land I winced along with everyone else in the crowd. The film is also wonderfully shot and put together as well. But, if anything, the film felt so stereotypically “Spielbergian.” If I had to convey to someone what a typical Spielberg film looked like, I would describe War Horse to them as everything seemed like it was a process or paint (or film if you will) by numbers. Typcial Spielberg isn’t going to win any Oscars.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close & The Tree of Life: Did not view.

Who WILL Win: The Artist

The reality of the situation is that The Artist has always been the frontrunner and seems poised to win. As I’ve mentioned before it’s got great acting and the ‘old Hollywood story’ that I’m sure the Academy will eat up. However, it’s also got 10 nominations going for it, which means that it’s also well liked in the more technical areas of the film as well (it’s nominated for Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Music-Original Score). Remember in the beginning of this post when I mentioned that all branches of the Academy can vote on Best Picture? That’s where having a lot of nominations comes in to play. The Artist will most likely be picking up votes from all branches of the Academy which will probably propel it to victory.

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So some things came up and I had to change the order of my Oscar Watch posts. Yesterday I mentioned I would be covering the Oscar shorts today. Well that post will be coming tomorrow now instead (hopefully) and possibly one or two more Oscar categories to conclude our Oscar Watch coverage before the awards on Sunday. You have any opinions on the Best Picture winner or nominees for this year? Am I being too much of a homer by picking/wanting The Descendants to win? Let us know in the comments.

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More Oscar Watch Reading . . .

Seems like Borat/Bruno star Sacha Baron Cohen (who is attending because he was in Hugo) wants to crash the Oscar ceremony dressed as his new character from his upcoming film The Dictator. Well of course the Academy doesn’t like that one bit. [link]

Speaking of voting for Best Picture nominees, over at Cinema Blend they look at ‘Why It’s Ridiculous to Have 9 Best Picture Nominees.’ Their solution is to go smaller, like down to three nominations for Best Picture. I think that’s a worse idea. [link]

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22
Feb
12

OW 2012: Actors in Leading & Supporting Roles

Yesterday we looked at the Actress categories for this year’s Oscars, today we focus on the Actor categories. In one race you pretty much have a sure thing, in the other you could have a major upset. Read on to find out which is which.

Actor in a Leading Role

Who I Think SHOULD Win: George ClooneyThe Descendants
Ever since I saw The Descendants back at HIFF in October, I’ve loved the film and Clooney’s performance. Sure he’s had bigger roles, but he plays sad-sack dad Matt King so picture perfect. The look in his eyes, the way he struggles to be father, dealing with his father in law–Clooney’s portrayal is the genuine thing. There’s just something about his performance that felt really true to me. I liked Clooney a couple of years ago in Up in the Air. This time though, I think we get a little more from him. He’s won a Supporting Oscar and has been nominated for Lead Actor before, but I think Clooney should take home gold this year.

On everyone else . . .

  • Demián Bichir: The story from A Better Life isn’t something a lot of us can relate to, which makes it all that more poignant for people to check out. As I was watching the film the whole time the title echoed in the back of my mind as Bichir’s character, Carlos Galindo, tries to better his station in life so that he can provide for his son. Bichir gives a subtle performance and you can feel his character trying to be different things: on one hand he’s trying to be a provider, on the other he’s afraid of being deported and losing his son. Bichir also gets a chance to shine at the end with a monologue that gets the waterworks going. In the end, though good, I wanted to see more depth from his character.
  • Jean Dujardin: The same thing I said about Bérénice Bejo in the Supporting Actress category I’ll say again for Dujardin . . . though I thought his performance was really great in The Artist, to win Best Actor, I need to hear you speak. Just like Bejo, Dujardin gives a great performance and he really says a lot with body language, mannerisms, and facial expressions. I just want to know that he has the whole package before I can give him this award.
  • Gary Oldman: I love Gary Oldman and the man has done a lot of great work, I just don’t think he does enough in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. George Smiley maybe a smart and cunning Mi6 agent, but animated and expressive he is not. While I didn’t think it was a bad performance by Oldman he does not have a lot to do with his character. Though I hate to say it, the nomination may be the reward for Oldman (it’s his one and only Oscar nomination to date).
  • Brad Pitt: If I had to pick a second place Oscar or if Clooney wasn’t as good, I’d probably give it to Pitt for taking on the role of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane in Moneyball. I was only lukewarm on the film when it first came out, but the more I think about it, the more I see that it’s better than I originally thought. It’s not your typical sports movie that’s for sure, but Pitt definitely turns in a great performance. Sure he has the typical Brad Pitt like moments where he gets to be that smug guy, but he also has some great moments where its him and the baseball field or when it’s just him and Jonah Hill trying to figure things out that really elevate his performance. Great editing may have helped, but there are moments in the film when you see Pitt as Beane alone with his thoughts. Nothing is spoken, but you can hear his character’s thoughts–all conveyed by the way Pitt looks.

Who WILL Win: Jean DujardinThe Artist
Dujardin has been the favorite for a while and has already picked up a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild award, and a British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) award for his lead performance in The Artist. I even thought he was all but a lock to win after his Funny or Die audition sketch and appearance on SNL with Zooey Deschanel. With him jumping into the mainstream-how could you NOT vote for the guy? However after reading this post by Oscar reporter Anne Thompson, a split in the voting could lead to anyone winning the award. Though Dujardin is the favorite, don’t be surprised if someone else sneaks by for the win.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Who I Think SHOULD Win: Christopher PlummerBeginners
This is another case where the supporting category has a clear frontrunner (and most likely a winner). Plummer’s turn as Ewan McGregor’s father who’s recently come out of the closet at such a late age and is also dying of cancer make for a great mix of comedic and dramatic moments from his character in Beginners. The portrayal of balance that Plummer shows in the role of this man trying to finally live his life under the cloud of cancer hangs over all of it definitely hits the right tones at the right moments. They feel real as the character struggles with life and death.

On everyone else . . .

  • Jonah Hill: Though it wasn’t overly dramatic, it was great to see Jonah Hill stretch his acting chops in Moneyball. They had some comedic lines and moments for him to put his own stamp on the character, but he also did a great job in a really understated role. Again, I think the nomination is the reward here as I’d like to see more from Hill in the future.
  • Nick Nolte: The recovered alcoholic father Paddy Conlon in Warrior was probably THE perfect role Nolte. Throughout the entire film I felt really bad for this guy. He seemed to have put his destructive ways behind him and was making a heartfelt effort to bridge the relationship with his sons and they just wouldn’t have it. The agony on his face every time one of his sons rejected him was just so heartbreaking. Then there was the stereotypical emotional moment that story-wise felt forced, but acting wise was great.
  • Kenneth Branagh & Max von Sydow: Did not view My Week With Marilyn or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Who WILL Win: Christopher PlummerBeginners
It’s definitely hard to speak to who should actually win this category when I hear that the two performances that I haven’t seen (Branagh & von Sydow) are pretty good in their own right. However, all the Oscar talk I’ve read points to all signs for the gold to go to Plummer. He has a long and distinguished career and he’s been giving a number of wonderful interviews in the past two months. Like his counterpart in the Supporting Actress category Octavia Spencer, he too has won a Golden Globe, SAG award, and BAFTA award for his supporting role in Beginners. This year, he’ll take home his first Oscar as well.

That’s it for today. Stay tuned tomorrow as we leave the acting categories behind and take a look at both Short Film categories which you can catch right now at Consolidated Kahala 8.

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More Oscar Watch Reading . . .

Nonstop Honolulu’s movie blogger Myong Choi gives his picks for this year’s Oscars. And like I said, we all seem to agree on who should get the awards in the acting categories. [link]

Honolulu Weekly’s Bob Green also gives us his picks for Oscar night. He goes out on a limb in some categories, but I do like his logic. [link]

14
Sep
11

Most Anticipated Fall Movies 2011

Just got through listening to the most recent Filmspotting podcast (#363) and the guys listed their Top 5 Most Anticipated Fall Movies.  It got me thinking about what I’m most interested in seeing in the next two months. Though I’m not one for “Top 5” lists, I thought it would be fun to think about and list some of the stuff I’m looking forward to. Taking Adam and Matty’s lead I’m going to limit this list to films coming out from this weekend to the weekend before Thanksgiving (9/16 – 11/18). Here they are in order of release date:

DRIVE (September 16) :: I heard a lot of good buzz about this movie coming out of Comic Con where they had a special screening of the film. Trying to find out a little bit more about the movie I stumbled upon this clip which immediately got me hooked into wanting to see this film. I actually prefer the clip to the trailer as you get a really great feel for the movie without all the details of the trailer which gives you almost everything. The basic plotline is that Ryan Gosling is a getaway car drive and in the clip I’ve linked to, seems to be a pretty knowledgable and cunning one. The only diolauge you hear is from the police scanner in the car, everyone else is silent and you can feel the tension from everyone. The film won best director at the Cannes Film Festival in May so it definitely has a lot going for it.

MONEYBALL (September 23) :: There are a bunch of different reasons why I want to see Moneyball. Probably the first being that Steven Soderbergh was attached to direct Brad Pitt in this baseball story about managing the Oakland A’s. However, Soderbergh eventually dropped out and then I didn’t really hear anything for a while until the trailer for the film came out this summer. Once I saw the trailer though, the film still looked pretty intriguing to me. For whatever reason baseball always seems to lend itself to making better sports movies than other sports do. Off the top of my head I can’t name any bad baseball movies. In any case Moneyball is being strongly compared to The Social Network, Sony Pictures other Oscar contender from last year that was released around the same time.

MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (limited release October 21)
LIKE CRAZY (limited release October 28)
It wouldn’t be a Filmspotting type list if I didn’t have a tie on here somewhere. Both M4 and Like Crazy received a ton of praise and buzz coming out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival . I basically only know the storyline of each of the movies (see links above for trailers & plot synopsis), but from everything I’ve read, the performances in both these films are worth seeing on that alone. I’m hopeful that we’ll eventually get them here at Kahala or something so that I can check them out.

TOWER HEIST (November 4) :: People can say what they will about director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour/s, X-Men Last Stand), but from the trailer alone this movie looks like a fun ride with an all star cast. Ratner brought back Eddie Murphy for Tower Heist and he’s that confident in his star that he pushed for him to be next year’s Oscar host. How can anyone say no to this movie?

IMMORTALS (November 11) :: Again, this is another case of me falling in love with a movie just by watching the trailer. If you made a sequel for 300 and mashed it up with Clash of the Titans, I’m pretty sure you’d get Immortals. I was a big fan of 300 even before it was released and ever since then similar movies have never quite looked as good. I’m hoping that’ll change with Immortals. I have no idea what the story is about, but the visuals alone look amazing and you’ve got future Superman Henry Cavill in it as well.

Honorable Mentions

I’ve got a few honorable mentions here that I wanted to share as well:

CONTAGION (in theaters) :: It didn’t fit into the release window that this list was limited to so I stuck this pick here. A commercial Steven Soderbergh (Oceans 11, 12, 13, Che, Out of Sight) joint with a large ensemble cast battle the worldwide spread of a deadly disease/virus. It’s a solid film that shot and put together really well. Definitely worth checking out.

50/50 (September 30) :: I had to cheat and put 50/50 in my honorable mentions since I already saw it and wanted to have more to talk about above. I’m already putting 50/50 in my list of top films of this year. The mix of humor and drama is great and you definitely will laugh and cry (or at least get choked up a little bit). When it comes out later this month I encourage you to check it out.

THE IDES OF MARCH (October 7) :: This is George Clooney’s 4th feature film that he’s directing and it’s got a solid cast along with him which includes Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Wright in a film about electoral politics and drama. I think it’s worth checking out for the cast alone.

SHAME (no release date set) :: Coming into the fall festival/awards season Shame has been one of the most talked about films of the year due to its graphic depictions of sex and male nudity. However, film critics everywhere seem to be talking about the film and going ga-ga over it and it definitely has me intrigued. One of the challenges that people seem to agree on is that if released in the US, the film would most likely receive an NC-17 rating from the MPAA–a big enough hurdle for both distributor and theater exhibitors. The film was just picked up by Fox Searchlight Pictures at the Toronto so no date has been set for release. We’ll see if it makes it way to Hawaii late this year or early next year.




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