Godard 21's Cinephile journal

Friday, December 15, 2006

Oscar Predictions

Here are my Oscar predictions for its major categories (which, in my opinion, incorporates many). I may edit them and change some of my picks as the awards approach.

Best Picture
-Letters from Iowa Jima
-The Departed
-The Queen
-Dream Girls
-Little Children

Other potential contenders:
-United 93 (very possible for a nomination, may steal it from Little Children)
-Little Miss Sunshine
-Babel (if they can't think of anything else)
-Half Nelson (very unlikely, but, like Little Miss Sunshine, it is an indie favourite)
- Volver (wishful thinking here)
Best Actor
-Peter O'Toole (Venus)
-Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson)
-Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland. Lock and Frontrunner)
-Leonardo Dicaprio (Blood Diamond or The Departed, most likely the latter)
-Ken Watanabe (Letters of Iowa Jima, possible, but unlikely)

Other possible contenders:
-Patrick Wildon-Little Children (very unlikely)
-Will Smith (The pursuit of Happyness. His perfomance has received been called the sole redeeming feature of a rather conventional film)

Best Actress
-Helen Mirren (The Queen. Lock and frontrunner)
-Penelope Cruz (Volver)
-Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal. Who doesn't like Judi Dench)
-Kate Winslet (Little Children)
-Meryl Streep (The Devil wears Prada. Supposedly quite good in it)

Other contenders
Maggie Gyllenhal (Sherrybaby)
Cate Blanchett (Notes on a Scandal)

Best Supporting Actor
Brad Pitt (Babel. Does not deserve it, but he may be nominated)
Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond)
Michael Sheen (The Queen. Don't he deserves it, but may be nominated regardless)
Eddie Murphy (dream girls. Just because I think the Academy is crazy)
Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children)

Other contenders.
Jack Nicholson (The Departed. Very possible)
Mark Walhberg (The Departed)
Ben Affleck (Hollywoodland. Again, the Academy is crazy and occasionally chooses a very undeserving performance. Chances are slim though).
Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine. For some reason, websites have been predicting him and I have no idea why. His role as a drug addicted grandfather was rather caricaturish)
Adam Beach (Flags of our Fathers. Others have predicted him, but I doubt it)

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls. Pretty much a lock now)
Rinko Kikuchi (Babel. Oddly, this one is almost a lock also and deserving too)
Adriana Barraza (Babel. The Academy may choose only one actress to represent Babel, but a double nomination is possible)
Cate Blanchett (Notes on a Scandal)
Shareeka Epps (Half Nelson. This is a longshot/ dark horse nomination, but she could make it)

Other contenders
Catherine O'Hara (For your Consideration, which film pix is bringing to Saint John on Jan 9th. Very possible nomination).
Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine. Oddly, a few critics and websites have mentioned a possible nomination)
Sharon Stone (Bobby)

Best Director
Martin Scorsese (The Departed. Lock)
Bill Condon (Dreamgirls)
Clint Eastwood (Letters from Iowa Jima)
Stephen Frears (The Queen)
Pedro Almodovar (Volver. He would be the academy's critical choice and he has been nominated before, so do not count him out)

Other contenders
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel. He may be nominated, but I still think Amorres Perros was a much better film.)
Paul Greengrass (United 93)
Robert Altman (Prairie Home Companion. Possibly in order to honour him with an award, although last year he received the lifetime achievement award, so very unlikely)
Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson. Wishful thinking on my part)
Valerie Faris/ J. Dayton (Little Miss Sunshine. Highly doubt it, but others have placed them amongst their predictions).
Other c

Best Foreign Film
Volver (Spain)
The Lives of Others (Germany)
Pan's Labyrinth (Mexico)
Water (Canada)
Curse of the Golden Flower (China)

Other contenders
Indigenes (Algeria)
Reprise (Norway. Unlikely)
Aurora - Bulgaria (doubt it)

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Departed - William Monahan (adapted from Siu Fai Mak's excellent Hong Kong police drama Infernal Affairs)
Little Children (Todd Field, Tom Perreta)
Notes on a Scandal (Patrick Marber, unlikely, but possible)
Dreamgirls (Bill Condon)
Letters from Iowa Jima (Iris Yamashita. Could be considered "adapted")

Other contenders
Flags of our Fathers (William Broyles, Jr., Paul Haggis)
Children of Men

Best Original Screenplay
Little Miss Sunshine (Michael Arndt)
Letters from Iowa Jima (Iris Yamashita. This film will be difficult for the Academy to categorize since it is loosely influenced by the Japanese book "Picture Letters from Commander in Chief," but still could be considered an original screenplay)
Volver (Pedro Almodovar)
The Queen (Peter Morgan)
Babel (Guillermo Arriaga. Possible nomination, but Greengrass may get his slot)

Other contenders
United 93 (Paul Greengrass. Very Possible)
Stranger than Fiction (Zach Helm, very unlikely, but possible)
Half Nelson (wishful thinking)

Best Documentary
An Inconvenient Truth
Deliver us From Evil (Amy Berg)
Jesus Camp
The Ground Truth
Iraq in Fragments

Other contenders
Blindsight (Lucy Walker)

Best Animated film
Happy Feet
Flushed Away
Over the Hedge
Monster House

Other contenders
A Scanner Darkly (doubt it, but would be interesting).
Paprika (by director Satoshi Kon. No chance in hell, but I wish the Academy had the taste to nominate it. Alas, they don't and never did)

Best Cinematography
Pan's Labyrinth
Children of Men (Emmanuel Lubezki is a favourite, so he will probably be nominated)
Curse of the Golden Flower
The Departed (odd choice, but it may just make it for unknown reasons)

Other contenders
Babel (Rodrigo Prieto was a nominee last year for Brokeback Mountain and the cinematograpy in the Tokyo scenes alone are deserving of a nomination)
The Fountain (Very unlikely since the film was a disappointment, but the cinematography was notable)

Best Art Direction
Pan's Labyrinth
The Prestige
Marie Antoinette
The Good German (despite dismal reviews, I hear the art direction is fine)

Other contenders
The Fountain (again, mediocre movie, good art direction. This year's Memoirs of a Geisha, except, realistically, it probably won't be nominated for a thing)

Visual effects
The Fountain
Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's chest
The Prestige
Superman (I am grasping here)
Pan's Labyrinth (maybe).

Costume design
Marie Antoinette (lock)
(will decide these remaining slots later, although costume design usually only has a minimal amount of nominations)

Best Score
Babel-Gustavo Santaolalla (Last year's winner for Brokeback Mountain. Potential nominee for this year)
The Fountain-Clint Mansell (I hope he is nominated considering the film's score was one of its few truly redeeming traits)
The Queen/ The Painted Veil - Alexandre Desplat (will probably get nominated, but for which film?)
The Departed - Howard Shore (I don't think he deserves it, but he may be nominated)
The Good German/Little Children - Thomas Newman
- (undecided)

Other Contenders
The Illusionist -Philipp Glass
Letters from Iowa Jima/ Flags of our Fathers - Clint Eastwood
Nomad - Carlo Siliotto (newcomer nominated for a Golden Globe)

Will update late (changing certain choices while adding remaining slots)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Best films that I have seen this year (in my opinion), Golden Globes, and Oscar predictions

The Golden Globes nominations were recently announced anda have usually been considered as the primary award show by which to predict the Oscars. Although, this year's nominations seem to complicate this once Golden rule as did last year's Golden Globes which did not even nominate Best Picture winner Crash (for good reason, considering it was a mediocre film and will now stand among Around the World in Eighty days as one of the worst films to win Best Picture).

I disagree with a lot of their nominations this year (like every year). Why is Dicaprio nominated twice, but Ryan Gosling for Half Nelson is snubbed (hell, even Will Smith is nominated for the Pursuit of Happyness which looks like a rehash of various other American films in which the protagonist faces adversity in order to succeed and thus achieve the American dream). Why is Bobby, a film that has been mainly getting mixed reviews in Best Picture? Although I liked Babel, I still would not nominate it for Best Picture. Letters of Iowa Jima has been thrown in the foreign language category (despite being a contender for Best Picture). I can understand why it is in this category, but really, even though it is in Japanese, why can't they allow it to compete with other nominees in other awards (for that matter, why are there never "foreign" films nominated in other categories. I can never criticize the Golden Globes and Academy awards enough for their ethnocentrism (even though I know they will never change).

Despite this aside, my criticism does not adequately reflect this year's Golden Globe nominations considering that there are several actors and actresses which are not American or British this year (these include Penelope Cruz in Volver, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi for Babel). Writer Guillermo Arriaga and director Alejandro González Iñárritu are both nominated for Babel in the Best Screenplay and Best Director (Almodovar is noticably absent in Director even though some had pegged him to be a possible nominee). In addition, Eastwood is nominated for Best Director for Iowa Jima, so the film is nominated in a category besides foreign film (so, my rant was a little premature).

I am happy that Clint Mansell got a best Score nomination for The Fountain. If there was anything The Fountain should be nominated for, it was its great score. Although I expected it, it is interesting to see Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth nominated in Best Foreign Language Film. I am also thoroughly ecstatic that World Trade Center did not get a token nomination (neither did United 93, but Greengrass' film on 9/11 is supposedly very good as opposed to Stone's horrible mess which I had the displeasure of seeing).

Alas, that is all I have to say about the Golden Globes. If you are interested in knowing more about the fall awards season freakshow which continues on until the Academy awards, you can go to OscarWatch.com and they regularly update their website with new critic awards announcements (I have always enjoyed keeping a distance and watching the pre-Oscar season lunacy. It has always been a great source of unintentional hilarity).

Here is a link to the Golden Globe nominations.


Now, as for what I thought were the best films (which I have seen this year and I can not see everything). Here is my random list (not in a numerical order denoting preference).

Pan's Labyrinth (Mexican fantasy tale. Starts off a little formulaic, but eventually becomes one of the most interesting fantasy films to be released in years)

The Proposition (revisionist Australian western)

The Departed (ah Scorsese, thank you once again)

The Queen (Great for Helen Mirren's performance alone)

Babel (Contains flaws and is not as good as Amorres Perros, but still pretty good)

Brick (a revisionist film noir set in a high school. Was made last year, but
released in theatres this year)

An Inconvenient Truth (yes, a film about an Al Gore powerpoint presentation is good.
It's a paradox, but believe me)

Prairie Home Companion (in honour of the late Robert Altman and for genuinely being a good film).

Little Miss Sunshine (drama/black comedy with a satirical take on the American cult of success and its effects on a suburban family. My friend will crucify me for this choice).

Casino Royale (and this is coming from someone who does not like virtually any James
Bond film, but this one was interesting, primarily because it did not entirely feel
like a rehash of past James Bond films and actually had character development)

The Prestige (convoluted, but fun).

The Wind that Shakes the Barley (not perfect, but still a solid historical film)

I will update later with my Oscar Predictions and I will hopefully include more films to make my list (I seem to have forgotten some which should not be left unsaid).

Half Neslon (Gosling delivers one of the better perfomances of this year and it has oddly become one of my favourite films released this year)

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four acts (a documentary about Hurricane Katrina
and the disastrous aftermath. Although excessively long, Spike Lee did good)

Inside Man (entertaining escapist heist film by Spike Lee. Although I usually do not like most Spike Lee films (i.e Summer of Sam), this has been a rather good year for him).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Trailers, film pix announcement, and preparations for Oscar predictions

Film Pix Announcement

On January 9th, the film pix showing at studio ten will be Christopher Guest's For Your Consideration. A satire on the fall season Oscar buzz frenzy and how it disrupts the cast of a film suddenly caught within it.


Although not entirely new, here are some trailers which I have either found interesting or unintentionally amusing (most of the time, they are the latter).

Here is a trailer for Factory Girl which is a film about Edie Sedgwick's encounter with Andy Warhol in the 1960s and her rise to stardom (along with the disillusionment which usually accompanies it). The film features Guy Pearce as Andy Warhol (odd casting choice), Sienna Miller as Edie, and Hayden Christensen as Billy Quinn, a character who is supposedly meant to be Bob Dylan or Dylan-esque, anyway, according to some sources, but isn't (Either Bob Dylan probably didn't want his name used in the film or nobodyy can prove that this illusive real-life character was indeed Bob Dylan).


Now, this is a link to the teaser trailer for the Hannibal Lecter prequel (sigh...sequels and prequels...why).I am thoroughly confused as to how Gong Li (Raise the Red Lantern)got involved in this.


Here is a full trailer for Zack Snyder's film adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel 300 which concerns the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Visually interesting, but, apparently, Gerard Butler is unable to modulate his voice. During the entire trailer, he is screaming variations on "We Spartans," "Sparta," and the like to the point of giving me a serious migraine. In addition, I doubt the film is historically accurate, judging by the trailer (although, I don't think this was ever filmmakers' intention). Furthermore, Snyder's historical epic seems to be over-the-top in terms of dramatics. As a result, I am also starting to have doubts as to whether Snyder can adapt Alan Moore's The Watchmen (which he is set to direct).


Now, this is a trailer for the German film, The Lives of Others, by newcomer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, which has raked in several awards at the recent European Film Awards along with Pedro Almodovar's Volver. The trailer is in German (no english subtitles). I place this trailer here regardless because this film has been named by several sources as one of the best films of 2006 (many have named it the best film of 2006. Period). I can't wait to see this film and I have been desperately trying to see it through clandestine means.


I will update later with a list of what I believe to be the best films that have appeared in theatres this year (and that I have had the opportunity of seeing) as well as my predictions concerning what I think the Academy awards will nominate. I will write these predictions not because I regard the Oscars as an adequate judge of the year's best films, but rather in order to guess just how predictable the awards will be this year (as they always are). The Academy Awards will never be an accurate judge on films, given the ethnocentric, sexist, and conservative (this last one is debatable) bias in their choices. So, my predictions will in no way validate the illusions of grandeur with which the Academy regards itself and will, actually, like Guest's For Your Consideration, ridicule the potential choices which I believe they will make.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Random trailers and Film Pix reminder

First, this tuesday (December 5), film pix will be showing The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2006) at the empire theatres (studio 10). Hopefully, some individuals will be able to go see it. Although, given that university exams are approaching, I doubt that many students will be able to come (excluding me).

Now, on to some trailers.

Here is a trailer for Edgar Wright's new British comedy, Hot Fuzz, (Wright also directed last year's Shaun of the Dead). This parody of the buddy cop films (I never liked that expression) also stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.


In addition, here is the very strange teaser trailer for David Lynch's Inland empire (In fact, it may just be the strangest trailer ever.)which stars Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, and Justin Theroux.


Now, here is a trailer of Black Book, Paul Verhoeven's new film, which unfortunately looks like melodramatic shlock. Then again,this is the same director who made Showgirls, so what could I expect. Anyway, here is a link to where the trailer can be found.


Here is a trailer for Joe Carnahan's new film Smokin' Aces (his last film was the relatively decent Narc). For some reason, I can't even describe the film, nor do I feel compelled to. In short, it is the equivalent of a mindless orgy of violence splattered on a film screen which completely relies on style rather than substance (which can be seen as a good thing depending on what types of films you enjoy.)


This is a trailer for Karen Moncrief's The Dead Girl which has now been nominated for several independent film spirit awards (including best feature, I believe). I had originally dismissed this film because of Brittany Murphy, but, upon seeing the trailer and knowing more of the film's cast, it now seems interesting. Here is the link which will guide you to the trailer page.


Finally, here is a trailer for the new indie film featuring Nick Nolte entitled "Off the Black". Enjoy.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Random news about the Sundance film festival and the Indenpendent film spirit awards among other things

Random film news of the last few weeks.

First, after the poor box office showing of Clint Eastwood's Flags of our Fathers, Warner Brothers studios have decided to move up the United States release of Letters from Iowa Jima to December (it was previously scheduled to be released solely in February). This release date change is probably the result of the mixed reception which Flags received and its now limited Oscar potential. Given that Letters from Iowa Jima is supposedly the better film according to a few anonymous sources, it may have a better chance of receiving Oscar nominations and, as a result, it was moved up to a 2006 release.

In addition, the word is still out on whether Peter Jackson will direct The Hobbit film. Because of his dispute with New Line over the profits from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, New Line Cinema refuses to give him the job. However, distributor MGM has vowed to do all it can to make Jackson direct the fantasy adaptation. So, New Line Cinema does not want him to do it while MGM does. Most likely, this deadlock will continue for a while.

On a side note, the independent film spirit awards were announced a few days ago.Among the nominees for best picture are Half Nelson(good film, with an interesting score by Broken Social Scene), Little Miss Sunshine (which my friend hated, but I liked), and Pan's Labyrinth (which surprisingly has a low enough budget to be considered an independent film). Robert Altman received a nomination for Best director for Prairie Home Companion (which makes me happy) and David Lynch received a special distinction for Inland Empire.

Here is a link to the nominees for this year's awared which are stated to air on February 24 (before the Academy awards, I think).


Furthermore, the lineup for the 2007 Sundance film festival has also been announced.Here is a PDF file of the films in competition.


On a lighter note, here is a link to a recounting of Uwe Boll's bizarre boxing matches against his critics. Uwe Boll is often known as the worst director in the world today and recently he challenged his critics to several boxing matches in order to somehow prove them wrong about his films (I know, I don't see the connection neither). In the end, he trounced all his critics (which is sad because I was hoping that, at least one critic would clock him for his cinematic sins).


Will update soon.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Trailers of David Fincher's Zodiac, Yimou Zhang's Curse of the Golden Flower, and William Faulkner's vampire screenplay(???)

Here is a trailer of Zodiac, the new film of David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club), which is obviously based (loosely) on the serial killings of the Zodiac killer. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, Chloe Sevigny (now an indie "it" girl), among others. The trailer seems a little poorly constructed, although it does seem to be an odd take on a serial killer movie which defies the expectations one has of such a film (which could be a good thing). I hope the film turns out well, but I have strange forebodings that it may not (let's hope they are wrong).

Well, here is the trailer.


On another note, here is the trailer for Yimou Zhang's newest film, The Curse of the Golden Flower. This film is now China's entry for the Best Foreign film Academy award. Yimou Zhang is the director of other great films like Raise the Red Lantern (I love this film), Ju Dou, Hero (yes, this is a "good" film) among others. The film features the great actress Gong Li (one of my favourite actresses) as well as Chow Yun-Fat. Although the film seems to be another typical wu xia epic (a la Hero or Crouching Tiger: Hidden Dragon), I have heard that it is somewhat different in content and could potentially offer something new. I am still interested in seeing it, although I am still waiting to see Zhang's return to drama, Riding Alone for a Thousand Miles and I prefer his past, slow-moving dramatic films (Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lanter) to his new string of martial arts epics.

Anyway, here is a link to the webpage containing the new trailer of the film (it is excessively colourful,but I will see it for the set and costume design alone).

The Curse of the Golden Flower Trailer

On a side note, I have heard the strangest news story today. It involves an unearthed William Faulkner screenplay featuring.....(wait for it)...vampires. If it sounds absurd, it is because it is (it's the strangest story I have heard all year). On another note, a film adaptation of "The Sound and the Fury" is in the making (I'm interested, but I wonder if it is possible or what the end result will be. I have my doubts). However, apparently, this vampire screenplay will be brought to film (although there may have been a legitimate reason why Faulkner left it to rot and it may the byproduct of the Hollywood system he hated so much).

Here is a link to one version of the news story.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Pan's Labyrinth review and new trailer

After much procrastination, here is my Pan's Labyrinth review:

Set in the years following the Spanish Civil war, Pan's Labyrinth, the new Mexican fantasy film of Guillermo Del Toro (The Devil's Backbone, Hellboy)explores a child's entry into a fantastic realm as a means to escape the turbulent times in fascist Spain. This film is Mexico's entry for the Best Foreign film Academy Award. Amidst sporadic outbursts of guerilla warfare from the remaining rebels, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero)and her pregnant mother, Carmen,(Ariadna Gil)arrive at a military outpost under the command of the monstrous and overtly patriarchal Captain Vidal (Sergi López), Ofelia's new stepfather, where Ofelia meets the friendly Mercedes (Maribel Verdú), one of Vidal's female servants. In this secluded location in the woods, Ofelia wanders off from the stringent authority of the adult and meets a magical faun named Pan, played by Doug Jones, under much makeup and costume work, who promises her entry into a magical kingdom if she can fulfill three tests.

While the film initially appears to conform to certain cinematic formulas,the film gradually moves away from them and becomes a darker fantasy tale than viewers are accustomed to. Captain Vidal, the true monster of the film initially appears like a villainous caricature, but he is developed enough throughout the course of the film to dispel this image. However, even if he is close to becoming a formulaic villain, most fantasy films are built upon such bipolar foundations and thus such a villain is to be expected. In addition, Sergi Lopez, who plays him, embraces the character's villainy and suits the role perfectly while adequately conveying his obsessive desire to perpetuate a patriarchal lineage as well as his cold, mechanical, and heartless demeanor which is fueled by the orderly nature of fascism and authoritarianism (which is in direct opposition to the imaginative faculty of Ofelia).

As Ofelia,a highly imaginative child (somewhat akin to Lewis Carroll's Alice, but not quite), Ivana Baquero is able to adequately convey both the initial innocence and the later strength of her character as well as her isolation in the corrupt adult world emerging out of fascism. Similarly,both Maribel Verdú, who plays Mercedes, and Ariadna Gil, as Carmen, deliver respectable performances alongside Baquero and Lopez.

Aside from the film's performances, the film's visuals also do not disappoint and Del Toro makes conservative use of CGI as opposed to the computer animated excess of other fantasy films like the films from the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series (Let's not forget the Chronicles of Narnia). The costume work behind Pan and the flesh-eating creature known as Pale Face is flawless.

Although the film may not meet the high expectations formed after the 15-20 minute standing ovations received at the Venice and Toronto film festivals, it remains one of the most interesting fantasy films of the last five years (or more). More importantly, unlike most fantasy films, Pan's Labyrinth is an original fantasy tale which is not adapted from any other literary source and, for some reason, this fact only contributes to make the film a welcomed alternative to the rehashed storylines of most recent fantasy epics (and films in general).

Well, that is my review. I will update later this week.

New Trailer

Here is a trailer for the upcoming biopic of the famous children's author Beatrix Potter, Miss Potter, starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor.

Miss Potter