Posts Tagged ‘The Artist

26
Feb
12

Best of 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was the top grossing film of 2011. Did it make Red Band Project' s top films of 2011?

It took a while, but we can just about close the book on 2011 with our own ‘Best of’ list for last year. I figure, if the Academy can wait till tonight to give out their awards for last year, why not the Red Band Project as well? Also, the extra time gave me the opportunity to catch up with a few more 2011 films in theaters and on DVD. So without further ado, here are my top films of 2011 . . .

#9 RANGO

You take the director and star behind the hugely successful Pirates franchise and throw in one of the most powerful effects houses in the world, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), and you could have the makings of a pretty unique film. All of these traits are evident in the finished product–Rango, a quirky animated Western comedy. The animation alone is reason enough to watch the film as the animation style employed by ILM is probably like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s so hyper-realistic that things look and almost feel as if they’re real. Then you have Johnny Depp providing the voice for probably one of his most memorable and quirky characters ever in Rango, an eccentric chameleon who stumbles into becoming sheriff. It’s a fun story with lively characters and great animation.

#8 THE INTERRUPTERS

With urban violence in Chicago at an all time high, a group of mediators called Ceasefire is stepping in to help curb violence before it starts. These ‘violence interrupters’ put themselves in harm’s way to diffuse situations by talking to both parties to try and calm them down. Just how are they able to reach these individuals? It’s because members of Ceasefire are former gang members and criminals who know what it’s like on the other side of the law. The film is a powerful look at the members of Ceasefire, the daily struggles they go through, the families and people that they work with, and an up close and personal look at why inner city violence escalates so quickly. The film showcases some pretty powerful and authentic moments and doesn’t shy away from the fact that not everything the group does works out. If you have the time, check out The Interruptors for yourself, for free, over at the PBS website.

#7 CAPTAIN AMERICA

This was probably one of the most fun movies of the summer if not the year. Leading into last summer I was really worried about Captain America due to the problems inherent in a character that’s not of this time. In the end it was a good move for the creators to set the film during WWII–the original era that Cap is from. The superhero period piece stayed true to the character and was a great way to provide his backstory. While we did a bunch of Avengers porn at the end, overall the story focused on Steve Rogers and how he became Captain America–a story portrayed really well in the film.

#6 THE ARTIST

You really have to hand it to this film for trying something bold as not having dialogue and mainly relying on the audience to ‘feel’ our characters’ performances. As Wall•E proved a few years ago, you don’t have to say anything to let people know how you feel–we can pick it up from the way a character moves and looks. Beyond the Hollywood nostalgia for the good ole days, what The Artist does so well is focus on the basics: have your actors give us a good performance to tell a story.

#5 HUGO

What I love about Hugo is that it’s a story about magic. The magic of imagination, the magic of cinema, and the magic of storytelling. Martin Scorsese crafts a wonderful tale about Hugo Cabret, an orphaned boy trying to unlock the secret of a mechanical automaton. Through this process Hugo encounters a lot of different people and ends up discovering a secret that the automaton has been hiding. The film is pure magic with it being shot really well and makes the best use of 3D since Avatar.

#4 50/50

Out of all the movies I saw last year, I really wish more people had gotten a chance to see 50/50. It’s definitely not an easy sell as it deals with the subject of what a person goes through when they find out that they have cancer, but it’s definitely worth catching up with if you have the chance. Joseph Gordon Levitt, Seth Rogen, Bryce Dallas Howard anchor a supurb cast in a well written story that will have you laughing and crying before the end.

#3 The Descendants

What else can I say that hasn’t already been said? From top to bottom I thought Alexander Payne put together a really great film. From Clooney’s performance to those of all the supporting characters to the way situations are dealt with to theportrayal of Hawaii, The Descendants has it all.

#2 Drive

From the opening sequence of the film, this movie had me. Ryan Gosling’s Driver is just so cool that it made me want to go drive around with a toothpick in my mouth after I saw the film. With just a few looks and not much else you can feel what his character is going through or know what he would say even though he doesn’t say anything. You also have Carey Mulligan providing a pretty solid performance as Driver’s love interest and the chemistry between them is so great that you get a sense of electricity between them even though they may just be riding together in a car or just talking with one another in the hall. Director Nicolas Winding Refn really puts together a great film with some nice visuals and a solid soundtrack.

#1 Attack the Block

This movie was the most fun I had at the theaters last year and ironically, at the time I saw it I was the only one in the theater when I saw it. What happens when an alien invasion occurs in south London and a street gang of teens are the only ones around? They kick ass and save the day that’s what. The simplest way I can describe the film is that it’s Aliens meets Goonies as you have a group of kids on an adventure to stay alive and battle these aliens who have descended on their home. The creature effects aren’t the greatest, but that doesn’t matter since the storytelling and characters more than make up for that. The whole time you’re rooting for the gang to win even though you’re not sure who is going to live and who is going to die. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. I promise you, you’ll have a lot of fun.

Looking forward to in 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: I know, I know, this is obviously the most anticipated movie of the year. It’s just one guy, but yes, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises easily beats out the Marvel team-up of The Avengers as the movie event of the year. So much has already come out from trailers to a ton of set photos to the prologue itself that I can’t wait for July.

The Raid: After Dark Knight, this is easily my second most anticipated film of the year. Why? Because the movie looks like it’s going to be an action packed thrill of a ride. I’ve been tracking this film since it debuted last year on the festival circuit and briefly discussed it when it played at Sundance last month. Thankfully I hear that it’s coming to Consolidated Theatres Kahala next month so I we won’t have to wait long to see this one.

Prometheus: Every time I see the trailer I can’t help but get a little more excited for this film. Initially I wasn’t, but there’s just so many good components to this film that I can’t help but get excited. I’ve always been a sci-fi guy so I’m always down for a space thriller, but you throw in great actors (Michael Fassbender & Charlize Theron to name a few) and the director of Alien; count me in!

Discoveries: Of course there’s still a bunch of stuff that I’m looking forward to seeing; the big Marvel team up of The Avengers and then there’s Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit in December, but I’m also looking forward to the surprises that nobody really knows about yet. The ones we won’t discover until they come out in the theater. Hopefully they’ll be just as many this year as there were last year.

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Best of 2011 from other local bloggers . . .

To put us all to shame, HIFF’s programming director Anderson Le gives us the top 10 films of 2011 that we all missed out on. [YOMYOMF – Part 1] [YOMYOMF – Part 2]

The good folks over at the Popspotting podcast give us the ‘Best of 2011’ not just for movies but for everything popculturey. [Popspotting]

Here’s their favorite films from 2011 from the book and film themed blog [I Adore Books and Film]

Nonstop’s movie guru Myong Choi lists his Fab Five Films of 2011. [Nonstop Honolulu]

And finally, the Star-Advertiser’s movie reviewer Burl Burlingame gives us his top 10. [Honolulu Pulse]

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24
Feb
12

OW 2012: Shorts-Live Action & Directors

We have a bit of hodgepodge today as we look at two categories that aren’t really related to one another. One of them is actually one of the bigger awards, the directing category, but the one I’m more excited to talk about is the Short Film (Live Action) category which doesn’t get all that much love or attention since most people don’t have a chance to see these shorts (more on this later).

Short Film (Live Action)

Who I Think SHOULD Win: Raju

I wasn’t initially sold on Raju when I saw it, mainly because it was the most dramatic short out of all the other nominees. What changed my mind was that when I really thought about it, I realized that I was emotionally invested in the film the whole time. I was always wondering what was going to happen, how would things resolve themselves, how could someone think like that. All these strong questions were running through my mind over the few short 24 minutes that this film is. The other thing that I think sets this short apart from the others is that the camera work and the way it’s put together are head and shoulders above the other nominees in the category. India feels like another character and you can feel the multitudes of the city weigh down our main character. Engrossing story, good camerawork & editing, and atmosphere make Raju my pick. [trailer]

On everyone else:

Pentecost: This film is a sports movie disguised as a drama and while it’s funny; I don’t think it has the depth to merit an award. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun little movie about an altar boy having to redeem himself after causing a huge disruption at Mass one Sunday, but other than that, what you see is what you get. I actually thought it was probably the funniest short out of all of them, but I don’t think funny alone will take home an Oscar. [trailer]

The Shore: Believe it or not Oscar bait isn’t just limited to the major categories, it’s also in the small ones too in this short film wonderfully put together and starring Ciarán Hinds (The Debt, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). Hinds plays Joe, an Irishman returning home after living in America for most of his adult life. While the reunion with his family is his main reason for returning, it’s his reunion with two other childhood friends that provides the main focus for the film. As I mentioned the film seems to have Oscar bait written all over it with a great cast of characters, namely Hinds leading the way. The supporting performances in the film also feel very authentic and the production value is definitely high (and you know how I love my high production values in film). The director of The Shore, Terry George, isn’t a stranger to film as he’s written and directed TV shows in the UK and done a few films as well, most notably Hotel Rwanda. The one gripe I have against the film is that I thought the final resolution wasn’t what it should have been. I’m not sure how many people will even try to check out this film, but I’m not going to go into spoilers. I felt Joe was let off easy in the end and didn’t fully resolve what he set out to do. [trailer]

Time Freak: If there was ever a short film that general audiences could get behind, it definitely would be Time Freak. What would you do if you created a time machine? Go back and visit historical figures from our past? Or would you use to correct those mundane mistakes that we all make on a daily basis? Time Freak hilariously explores the latter of the two questions. With Time Freak it’s another case of ‘what you see is what you get’ with the main character, Stillman (pun?), relating how he’s been going back in time to correct all his little mistakes and faux pas. It’s actually reminiscent of the Bill Murray comedy/drama Groundhog Day and just as funny to see Stillman going through the same events of his day and how he deals with trying to fix it each time. While funny, I don’t think it’s “smart” enough for the Academy. [trailer]

Tuba Atlantic: Though definitely a quirky film, Tuba Atlantic is heartfelt and fun through and through. It tells the story of Oskar, who upon hearing the news that he only has six days left to live, really starts to live life to its fullest by doing things he has always wanted to do, but just didn’t have a reason to do so . . . until now. Like I said the story is definitely quirky with Oskar going out and doing things that seem a little unbelievable or gonzo at times, but in the end it’s the relationship Oskar forges with his caretaker that drives the film. [trailer]

Who WILL Win: The Shore
Like I mentioned earlier, The Shore is right up the Academy’s alley as it has everything they could want in it: great performances by anchored by a known actor, a nice dramatic story; and a writer-director that has a good pedigree. However, The Shore is not a lock to win the category. Of all the Oscar categories, the shorts categories are notorious for being very unpredictable. Take last year’s winner God of Love. While the film was cute and fun, I didn’t think it was strong enough story-wise to win while Oscar prognosticators thought that its humorous tone wouldn’t grab votes. How wrong we were. Having said that, nothing is ever really certain in this category. Don’t be surprised if Tuba Atlantic nabs the Oscar on the account of its humor AND quirkiness.

Directing

Who I Think SHOULD Win: Michel HazanaviciusThe Artist
Let’s face it, when you don’t win the top award at the Cannes International Film Festival and yet score the second most nominations at this year’s Oscars . . . you have to be doing something right. All film maneuvering aside though, The Artist was brilliantly conceived and executed by Hazanavicius. Sure he has great performers in Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo helping him out, but Hazanavicius is the guy that brought them in and is getting the performances that he wants out of them.

On everyone else:

  • Alexander Payne: You would think that after how much I’ve been praising The Descendants you would think that I would pick Payne as the winner. Though I think the film is great and that Payne has crafted a well made film, I just don’t think his work is as good as Hazanavicius.
  • Martin Scorsese: Though a wonderful film from many different angles: nostalgic story, very well made, and great special effects & 3D, none of the performances in Hugo were Oscar worthy–which really hurts Scorsese’s chances this time out.
  • Woody Allen: Midnight in Paris is beloved by many and I’m sure hits a sweet spot with a number of Academy members, but it just doesn’t have the acting performances to carry it through. Also, with Allen putting out a film every year there may be some inclination to say that he just got lucky with this year’s film. As superficial as that sounds, it may have some credence.
  • Did not view Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.

Who WILL Win: Michel HazanaviciusThe Artist
Let’s face it, top to bottom the film was wholly conceived and produced by Hazanavicius and let’s also not fail to mention that it was a huge gamble to make into a silent film. Kudos to him. His work on The Artist definitely outshines Payne’s work on The Descendants–my runner up for the category. I also don’t think he has real competition from the two more well known directors in this field as both Scorsese and Allen already have Oscars for directing (Annie Hall for Allen and The Departed for Scorsese). History will hurt them as I just don’t see the Academy liking these films as much as the ones they won awards for. Finally, Hazanavicius also has this year’s Director’s Guild award for his work on The Artist and the director’s branch of the Academy will probably follow suit.

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If you’re interested in checking out the Oscar nominated shorts, the live action ones that I talked about today or the animated ones, both are playing at Consolidated’s Kahala 8 Theatres with each group playing together as a set. Be sure to check showtimes as they are only playing at certain times.

That is going to wrap our Oscar Watch coverage leading up to Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony. We won’t leaving you hanging though as we’ll be posting our edition of the ‘Best Films of 2011” over the weekend and have an Oscar wrap up for you on Monday. Be sure to stay tuned for more!

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More Oscar Watch Reading . . .

Here’s more information out of the LATimes’ research on the demographics of the Academy. In this piece they look at and interview the Academy’s youngest members. [LATimes]

In today’s Advertiser, Mike Gordon fields Oscar predictions from professionals in the Hawaii film industry. Sadly it might be easier to read a hard copy version of the story since a subscription is required (but I’ll link anyway). [Star-Advertiser]

Finally, one more local assessment of this year’s Oscar race over at [I Adore Books & Film] blog.

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]

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]

11
Oct
11

HIFF 2011: Must See Preview Pt 1

With HIFF 31 now only a few short days away, the Red Band Project takes a look at our most anticipated films playing at this year’s fest. Culling through the 200 plus film descriptions, trailers, and blogosphere buzz on films playing in the festival does take some time so I’m breaking up this post into two parts. Part I (today’s edition) covers the 4th through 10th most anticipated films; while part II, which I’ll be posting tomorrow (hopefully), will cover the top three most anticipated films and a few other things you won’t want to miss at this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival.

As always I’m going to preface this by saying that I’ve always been kind of a “mainstream” kinda guy so obviously I’m prone to being drawn to films with known actors in it or films that have high production value. Another caveat–some of the bigger “event” or “mainstream” films have been left off. I mean, when even Guy Hagi wants tickets to The Descendants, there’s no need to cover something that huge.

Finally, some of the films talked about or covered in this post may have already been discussed in previous blog posts (here and here). Please bear with me as I try to add more or slightly different insight as to why these movies are appearing on yet another HIFF blog post. And with that, here we go . . .

10) With Great Power – The Stan Lee Story
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// Twitter

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Synopsis:
A feature length documentary on the life and creations of Stan Lee. Stan Lee is the co-creator of SPIDER-MAN, HULK, X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR, IRON MAN and over 200 other characters that can be found in comic books, movie screens, and in retail stores around the world. (via IMDB.com)

Why I Want to See It:
Stan Lee is the man that gave us Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men, and a bunch of other really cool superheroes. He’s also the reason why we practically have a superhero genre for film today (which I personally think is a good thing). Now there’s no trailer and the movie descriptions about this film can only tell you so much, but having a documentary about the man is something that I can get behind and I’m sure would find interesting. I’m not a comic book geek so I only know the very basics about him. If this film can shed any light on what he’s like and give some insight into how he created these characters . . . well that’s good time spent in my opinion.

9) The Short List
// Trailer
// HIFF Page
// Official Website
// Facebook

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Synopsis:
Join crack seed owner, Mr. K, as he shares his treats from his special short list of films. These tempting morsels include HOTEL ST., a crime procedural drama, THE PROTECTOR, a romantic thriller, THE ROUNDUP, a western, BAIT, a drama with a twist, and ONE EVENING IN THE BLUE LIGHT BAR & GRILL, a romantic comedy. Five local writers with five local directors created this tasty blend of short stories. All the films were hundred percent locally produced in Hawaii and preservative free. (via HIFF)

Why I Want to See It:
I’m interested in seeing The Short List mainly because of the people behind it–TalkStory Productions. Last year TalkStory produced the film The Tempest, which played at last year’s HIFF and received a limited release in the US. The team behind TalkStory was on hand during the festival to do a Q&A and I was even fortunate enough to meet them and during both encounters I could feel how much they love cinema and the work that they do. This year they bring an anthology of locally shot short films to HIFF. While each one is different and unique, all have Hawaii written all over them. Also, this screening is already sold out and is at ‘rush line’ status. Guess it must be good if it’s already sold out.

8 ) The Wonder Year
// Trailer
// HIFF Page
// Official Site

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Synopsis:
A year in the life of CEO, NAACP Ambassador, Duke University Professor, husband, father, son and Grammy Award winning producer 9th Wonder. (via IMDB.com)

Why I Want to See It:
I’m going to assume that the music that plays in the first part of the trailer for this film was done by 9th Wonder himself. If that’s not the case, then I am going to be sorely disappointed when I see this film. That song was what basically sold me on the film. It’s mesmerizing, enchanting, and has a beat! And that’s not even the best part, that comes later when all these people (known artists included) wax poetically about how good the guy is. Needless to say if you’re a music person you won’t want to miss this screening or the special composers panel the next day (Saturday, October 15) that 9th Wonder will be at as well.

7) Wind Blast

// Trailer
// HIFF Page
// Official Site

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Synopsis:
Underground boxer turned hitman Zhang Ning and his pregnant girlfriend Sun Jing flee through the Gobi Desert with Detective Leopard and his cohorts in hot pursuit. Also on Ning’s trail are two killers sent by an irate client to silence him and retrieve a vital piece of evidence. Although Ning is soon captured by the cops, the tables are turned as the assassins attack their camp, setting in motion a series of intensifying battles and explosive duels. (via HIFF)

Why I Want to See It:
Not going to lie, from the movie description and the trailer this film looks like a crazy good Hong Kong style action western. You heard that right, Western. It’s got everything a male ages 18-49 could ask for: explosions, chase scenes (on horseback and vehicular), shoot outs, oh, and don’t forget those slo-mo shots of bullets and arrows sailing through the air. What’s not to love about a movie like that?

6) Let the Bullets Fly
// Trailer
// HIFF Page

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Synopsis
:
Set in China during the warring 1920s, notorious bandit chief Zhang descends upon a remote provincial town posing as its new mayor, an identity that he had hijacked from Old Tang, himself a small-time impostor. Hell-bent on making a fast buck, Zhang soon meets his match in the tyrannical local gentry Huang as a deadly battle of wit and brutality ensues. (via IMDB.com)

Why I Want to See It:
There’s definitely a lot to like in this film. The trailer, the film synopsis, having Chow Yun Fat starring in it, and the fact that it’s played at a number of different film festivals this year definitely all provide the ingredients for something great. The director of the film is also this year’s HIFF “Filmmaker in Focus” and they probably wouldn’t bestow that title on him unless his work is up to snuff. However, buzz from the festival circuit has been mixed at best with several film blogs warning about confusing storylines and a runtime that seems a bit long for what’s in the film. However, I did hear from someone locally that the film is “pretty f***en mean.” Whatever the case may be, I’m definitely interested to see what it’s about and am not discouraged by the lukewarm reception from the mainland.

5) The Artist
// Trailer
// HIFF Page
// Official Site 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Synopsis:
Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break. (via IMDB.com)

Why I Want to See It:
This film received A TON of praise coming out of this year’s Cannes Film Festival (THE highest profile and possibly most prestigious international film festival) and the lead actor, Jean Dujardin, took the Best Actor award from the festival. The film was picked up by The Weinstein Company for distribution in the US; so we will see it here in Hawaii before the end of the year. Though a lot of the buzz from Cannes has dropped off, the film still interests me since it’s a silent film. Yes, you read that correctly, there’s no speaking at all during the film! With so many peopling liking a silent film I feel I need to check this out.

4) The Front Line
// Trailer
// HIFF Page

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Synopsis
:
The Front Line offers up a classically hellish picture of front-line warfare between North and South Korea that turns several of the cliches of war movies inside-out. Most of the film is set on a hill which has been captured and recaptured by both sides, with considerable loss of life each time. A young officer is sent to the area to investigate a possible spy and what looks like a sinister case of “friendly fire.” The surprises awaiting him include a reunion with an old friend he believed dead, several run-ins with a crack North Korean sniper, rife indiscipline and insubordination and a surprising kind of fraternization between the two sides. (via HIFF)

Why I Want to See It:
From the trailer, this film looks and gives off the same vibe as Saving Private Ryan. Just the scope and epicness of some of the scenes from the trailer give you that same feeling that you get from any great war film. It’s no wonder that The Front Line is Korea’s submission for next year’s Academy Award and will open HIFF 31 with a bang.

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So that’s going to do it for Part 1 of The Red Band Project’s HIFF Must See Preview. Check back tomorrow as I finish off the countdown, take a look at the films that just missed the list, films of note, and a bunch of events that you’ll definitely want to check out at this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival.




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