Monday, February 28, 2011

Academy Award Winners

Results are in! Almost everyone on Twitter exploded when the Best Picture winner was announced. I don't blame them. Here are the winners, highlighted in bold.

Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

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

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

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

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

Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Another Year
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech

127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
The King's Speech
True Grit

Black Swan
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King's Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

Black Swan
The Fighter
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network

Barney's Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman

"Coming Home", Country Strong
"I See the Light", Tangled
"If I Rise", 127 Hours
"We Belong Together", Toy Story 3

How to Train Your Dragon
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network

The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Iron Man 2

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Waste Land

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

In a Better World
Outside the Law

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

Day & Night
The Gruffalo
Let's Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, a Journey Diary

The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Movies from the 1950's revolved on glamorous stars and improbable plots. It wasn't until the decade started coming to an end when movies from that time period became a little less glamorous and a little more down to earth.

One such example of a movie injected with realism is Marty, which focuses on lonely butcher Mary Piletti (Ernest Borgnine). His friends and family keep asking him when he'll get married, a question he has heard way too often. Then he meets schoolteacher Clara Synder (Betsy Blair).

Borgnine and Blair aren't as glamorous as, say, Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, but that's what makes Marty work. Looks aren't everything to make a relationship work. It shows how simple romance really is.

Borgnine won the Oscar for his work, but bear in mind he was up against some tough competition (his competitors were Spencer Tracy, James Cagney, Frank Sinatra and James Dean). Some have cried "Foul!" for his win, but I think Borgnine gives the most honest performance Hollywood has to offer.

Marty is definitely one of the most enjoyable movies I've seen in recent memory. Some overlook it because it's considered one of the lesser Best Picture winners. I'll say this: please don't ignore it.

My Rating: *****

Saturday, February 26, 2011

There Will Be Blood

We all know that Paul Thomas Anderson can churn out top notch performances from his actors. There was Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights and Tom Cruise in Magnolia, but the best of the best is Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood.

Day-Lewis plays Daniel Plainview, an oil tycoon whose major driving force is greed. He promises the residents of Little Boston, California that he'll build roads, schools and churches in exchange for land, but he never does any of that. He gets into some trouble with preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano, a far cry from his near-mute role in Little Miss Sunshine) as he delves deeper into his need for power and control.

Jonny Greenwood's score captures Plainview's psyche. The string instruments that are prominently used throughout emphasizes both the tensions shown on-screen and Plainview's nerves slowly beginning to fray.

Robert Elswit's cinematography also matches Plainview's personality as being vast and empty. It's one of the few times where the cinematography plays a part in the story.

Anderson, who previously made excellent ensembles, shows he can make a movie that's a one-man show. Day-Lewis, the one-man show himself, is a powerhouse tour de force as Plainview. There Will Be Blood is a gripping tale that blends greed, religion and manipulation.

My Rating: *****

Friday, February 25, 2011

An Affair to Remember

The year of 1957 had some of the more prolific movie released. Some titles include The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Three Faces of Eve, A Face in the Crowd, Sweet Smell of Success (my personal favorite), Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison and An Affair to Remember.

In An Affair to Remember, Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr play Nickie Ferrante and Terry McKay, two people who meet on a cruise. Both are involved with other people, but they fall in love. They make a promise to meet six months later, but will they keep their promise?

An Affair to Remember is the typical chick flick, yes. But director Leo McCarey manages to make it appealing. He gives the story a little bit of oomph.

I've admitted several times before that I never get emotional from a movie (well, excluding the ending for Requiem for a Dream). The title song and the ending had me pretty choked up. Not a great deal, but enough.

My Rating: ****1/2

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Roman Holiday

Audrey Hepburn. A figure of eternal beauty, grace and elegance. She was also a very talented actress, one of my favorites I may add.

In Roman Holiday, she plays Princess Ann. She wants to be among the people of Rome, a city she's visiting on an European tour. But the royal family won't let her. In response, she sneaks out. A sedative was given earlier, making her fall asleep on a bench and be found by journalist Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck).

A short synopsis like that sounds like a cliche for most romance movies. but writer Dalton Trumbo (who was blacklisted at the time) makes it new and fresh.

The film was shot on location by the urging of director William Wyler. Because of that, the budget was reduced considerably. Had it not been for this decision, Roman Holiday would've been shot in Technicolor (which, in my opinion, would've ruined the romantic feel) and a more recognizable name would've been the leading lady.

Hepburn and Peck are by far one of the best on-screen romances. Because of their beautiful chemistry together, I practically fell in love with the movie just as they fall in love with each other. Did Hepburn deserve her Oscar? Rightfully so.She captures the right balance of elegance and talent as Ann.

Having said all of that, I really wished I hadn't made that list of some of my top movies. It's safe to say I have a new favorite now.

My Rating: *****

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lust for Life

As some of you might know, I adore the acting of Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas. Michael's a good actor as well, but Kirk is the best of the two.

In Lust for Life, Douglas plays the brilliant yet troubled artist Vincent van Gogh. We see his slow rise in the art world and his faster decline in mental health. It's a really haunting performance.

Oscar gold went to not Douglas but to supporting actor Anthony Quinn, who plays fellow artist Paul Gauguin. He has some really good lines throughout his short time on screen, but was his Oscar win deserved? Well, I haven't seen any of the other nominees for that year so I can't really say. But he is good.

Vincente Minnelli directed Lust for Life, marking the second of three times he would work with Douglas (they previously worked together on the excellent The Bad and the Beautiful). I give Minnelli points for having the movie look like some of van Gogh's paintings. I also give screenwriter Norman Corwin credit for bring accurate in chronicling van Gogh's troubled life.

So are there any flaws in Lust for Life? Well, unfortunately, yes. The movie would've been better had the story not had that melodramatic undertone. It's still a fine movie but had that flaw been taken of, it would've been great.

My Rating: ****

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sullivan's Travels

Movies about Hollywood aren't a new thing, but each one about them adds something. Like Sullivan's Travels for example.

Director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea), fed up with his past cheerful productions, wants to make a movie about the common man. Being inexperienced in that field, he masquerades as a hobo to know how they live.

Even though what he wants to know is bleak, it takes a few tries before he gets off on the right foot. As he starts it up again, Sullivan meets a girl (Veronica Lake) that joins him on his journey.

Sullivan's Travels was directed by Preston Sturges, who also made The Lady Eve. Like The Lady Eve, Sturges has snappy dialogue throughout Sullivan's Travels (especially lines between McCrea and Lake). Again, even though the subject matter is bleak, Sturges is able to throw in a few screwball moments to make it all worthwhile.

My Rating: *****

Monday, February 21, 2011

Born Yesterday

Don't you love it when one minute an actor has their big break and the next minute they're getting an Oscar? It's really an enjoyable feat to watch.

Take Judy Holliday as an example. In 1949, she got recognized for her work in Adam's Rib. The following year she would be in Born Yesterday, a role that she originated on Broadway and would earn her an Oscar.

Born Yesterday has Holliday as Billie Dawn, an ex-showgirl who is the girlfriend of junkyard tycoon Harry Brock (Broderick Crawford). Harry and Billie's relationship has taken a turn for the worse; their main form of communication is yelling at one another (I personally love Holliday's shrill "What?"). Fed up by Billie's uncivilized ways (the irony being that he's the boor), Harry hires Paul Verrall (William Holden) to teach her a few things.

Billie knows she's stupid (she admits it to Paul early on), but through Paul's teachings she realizes one thing: that Harry is a crook. She also learns how to stand up for herself, something she was unable to do before.

The main reason for why Born Yesterday isn't forgotten is because of Holliday's Oscar win. She won over Bette Davis and Gloria Swanson, both of whom were frontrunners that year. That doesn't mean that Holliday was the wrong choice. She provided a bit of spunkiness to the category for that year.

My Rating: *****

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pulp Fiction

When the 1960's rolled around, a new genre was created: the neo-noir. It's similar to film noir, but the themes are a little more updated.

Now one of the more popular examples of this genre is Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. Being a "Tarantino virgin" (I'll admit it), all I really knew about his stuff was that they were not for, um, innocent souls, so to speak.

Pulp Fiction follows hit men Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) and gangster wife Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman). They all have different lives, so how are they all connected? Simple: Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames).

The highlight of Pulp Fiction is clearly Tarantino's writing, which rightfully earned an Oscar. Some of the dialogue gets up there with Hammett and Chandler for noirish feel and memorability. Some is typical Tarantino (f-bombs galore, anyone?), but if it wasn't for the dialogue the movie would been crap.

Now I know that everyone has Pulp Fiction wedged somewhere in their top 100, but probably not for me. I mean, I liked it very much but I didn't love it like everyone else (a re-watch is in my future as some of you may say). Still, it's awesome nonetheless.

My Rating: *****

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Images I Worship: 20 Favorite Movies

ActorsActressesDirectors. They have been covered in the last few days. What about what made them who they are? The very things that made them famous. Movies. In alphabetical order, here are twenty of my favorite movies.
12 Angry Men (Lumet, 1957)
The Apartment (Wilder, 1960)
Brokeback Mountain (Lee, 2005)
Ed Wood (Burton, 1994)
The Godfather Part II (Coppola, 1974)
The Grapes of Wrath (Ford, 1940)
Manhattan (Allen, 1979)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Capra, 1939)
Mystic River (Eastwood, 2003)
The Night of the Hunter (Laughton, 1955)
On the Waterfront (Kazan, 1954)
The Prestige (Nolan, 2006)
Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960)
Raging Bull (Scorsese, 1980)
Schindler's List (Spielberg, 1993)
Some Like It Hot (Wilder, 1959)
Sweet Smell of Success (Mackendrick, 1957)
The Talented Mr. Ripley (Minghella, 1999)
The Thin Red Line (Malick, 1998)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Nichols, 1966)


Ace in the Hole (Wilder, 1951)
Boogie Nights (Anderson, 1997)
Requiem for a Dream (Aronofsky, 2000)
Two Lovers (Gray, 2008)
Zodiac (Fincher, 2007)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Visions I Love: 20 Favorite Directors

Actors and actresses out of the way. Now onto directors. I swear, they make movies that some can only dream about making. Again, in alphabetical order, here are my favorite directors.

Wes Anderson
Darren Aronofsky
Tim Burton
Francis Ford Coppola
Clint Eastwood
David Fincher
Alfred Hitchcock
John Huston
Elia Kazan
Stanley Kramer
Stanley Kubrick
Spike Lee
Sidney Lumet
Terrence Malick
Christopher Nolan
Roman Polanski
Otto Preminger
Martin Scorsese
Steven Spielberg
Billy Wilder


Joel and Ethan Coen
Michael Mann
Sam Mendes
Mike Nichols
Ridley Scott