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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd


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Random Question For Anyone Who Lived Through the 1980s

How hard would you have laughed at someone who  told you in 1988 that scary seductress Glenn Close (of Fatal...Liaisons fame) and firestarter Sinéad O'Connor of "The Lion and the Cobra" fame would one day be nominated for a Golden Globe for penning an end credits lullaby to a quaint little movie about a gender bending waiter by the name of Albert Nobbs?

Glenn Close and Sinéad O'Connor at the Albert Nobbs premiere

Funny how things change. Makes you wonder how tame today's provocateurs will be in 2034.



Which of the Golden Globe "Song" nominees will repeat with an Oscar nomination? Or here's a better question for you: why do the Golden Globes even have this category when they don't have on air musical performances by which to jusity it? 


We Need To Talk About Tweet Length Reviews

December (sigh)... it defeats me every year. In 2012 I'm going to start training for it like it's the marathon. Because it is! Maybe I'll try to write one December 2012 article each week all year long so that when the time comes I'll have plenty of time for all the events / screenings / interviews / awards articles. "too many things too many things too many things" to quote Boogie Nights. So here are some things I've been seeing that I have no time to talk about. But let's carve out a teensy bit anyway. None of these will make much of a dent on my "best" or "worst" lists so let's cross them off the eternal to do list with tweet length reviews... (I use to try for seven to ten words but that ends up being a series of adjectives. Giving myself a few more characters now.)

Dear Mr. Spielberg. Jamie Bell is very nice to look at. Were you not aware of this? Thanks.

In which Tintin and his dog Snowy seek out a pirates treasure through a series of infinite setpieces
Review: Oft described as "endlessly fun" and the endless part is true. Inventive and spectacular looking but utterly exhausting. Pirates again? B-/C+
Oscar? The Animated branch might reject it under the umbrella of "mo-cap is not animation!" disdain. Me I have no problem whatsoever with mo-cap but I prefer it when it looks less realistic (like in Monster House). If you're aiming for real-looking human characters, just let me see the actual actors. Jamie Bell is very nice to look at and hiring him only to hide him away is a disservice to eyeballs everywhere.

Will a child be left without a gift on Christmas? Three generations of Santas spring into action.
Review: Gimmick thoroughly mined for madcap fun though it's a shade too busy. Wonderful voice work. Plenty of heart, too (which Tintin lacks). B
Oscar? Given the generally anemic animated film race, it will be a real shame if this one from Aardman doesn't score a nomination. But I think it will. 

In which Po realizes he was adopted and fights the peacock who is trying to end Kung Fu and conquer China.
Review: Disposable with uneven humor but the palette is pure wow. I was as hypnotized as Po whenever the peacock fanned those white and red feathers. B-/C+
Oscar? Though it's the second highest grossing animated film of the year, I don't expect it to score with Oscar voters. The Globe snub is telling but depressing. If you have to have a sequel in the lineup why Cars 2? KFP 2 is better looking and funnier and has a better story and a better hero and villain. Better on all counts.

In which a group of 1%ers and financial analysts predict / cause the economic apocalypse
Review: This involving horror film about our powerlessness and corporate greed is boosted by perfect timing though not quite above telefilm level. B
Oscar? Given the multiple "first film" prizes J.C. Chandor has won, I'm guessing this has a really solid shot at an Original Screenplay nomination. But if any of the actors were going to have found favor yet, I think we would have seen some SAG interest... at least in Ensemble

In which... no, I don't know what happens and I really truly was paying attention.
Review: Super handsome filmmaking, ace score, gifted ensemble but too restrained to feel, too info-crowded to follow: B
Oscar? Even when a movie has incredible craft elements, it rarely gets nominated if voters don't love the film as a whole. I'm doubtful this one will pick anything up. But maybe one nomination, two max in visual categories or screenplay.

In which a woman gives birth to a bad seed and suffers greatly for it.
Review: Miscast and weirdly art-film parodic in its repetitions / obviousness. Tilda's eyeballs feel the horror, though. B-/C+
Oscar? I'm more surprised than you are that Tilda gained traction for this one. I thought the film too inaccessible but apparently that Julia, I Am Love momentum finally pushed her over some kind of art goddess edge and she's back in the Oscar conversation where she nearly always belongs.

Tilda and her demonic boy(s)

I would also like to note that I really was rooting for this film before seeing it because I think Lynne Ramsay's previous feature Morvern Callar (2002) is ten kinds of amazing but I was sorely disappointed. I hope it doesn't take her 9 more years to deliver film #4.

I'm still trying to get full reviews out for Iron Lady, War Horse, Albert Nobbs, Extremely Loud and Melancholia (lol. Hi several months later!) cuz I got shit to say. We shall see. I need to stop time for one week to catch up. Perhaps I should call up Hamish Linklater from The Future and get on that?


It's Michelle/Marilyn for Dallas, Florida, Vegas and Chicago

The critical map continues to unfold with only three films scoring repeatedly: The Artist, The Descendants and The Tree of Life. All of them recently picking up another "best of year" prize. I had expected Hugo to feature more prominently after its high profile NBR win but that hasn't come to pass. But isn't it awfully nice to see a year with three major critical players even if you don't much like one of them (for me that's The Descendants). In short: Death to sweeps!

Michelle Williams is dominating the critics awards

While she's not quite a sweeper Michelle Williams is going to be on a lot of airplanes if she intends to attend all of these critics ceremonies that plan to honor her work in My Week With MarilynAfter the jump prizes from... Chicago and St. Louis who both just announced, Dallas Ft Worth, Florida, and Las Vegas (which I missed last week oopsie).

Click to read more ...


Naked Gold Man: The Pitiable Tradition of The Backlash

Yesterday I was asked by a fellow writer to be quoted on a "who will win?" Oscar piece at another site. I said yes without hesistation but why are we always jumping ahead? We don't even know the nominee list yet! One particular way in which I find it hard to relate to my fellow Oscar pundits and even a lot of kindred spirit movie fans is this: Year after year there seems to be a enthusiasm for and a willingness to concede the race to a presumed frontrunner before nominations are even announced.

This "it's over before it's begun" atmosphere enables, no, encourages hostility and backlash against popular films and performances. The annual Oscar carnival, meant to be a celebration of Hollywood's perception of their own best work, becomes decidedly less magical and fun once the atmosphere turns hostile. It's both more fun and more accurate to view the Academy Awards as a two phase celebration which has numerous winners. In the first phase dozens upon dozens of films and talented individuals compete to find placement in traditionally five-wide shortlists. Several people emerge as winners, drawing attention to films and performances that are sometimes really worth the moviegoer's time. In the second phase the nominees go all Highlander with their golden swords. There can be only one. 

But why rush to the decapitations? 

George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) in "The Artist", a silent film superstar threatened by the "talkie" revolution in Hollywood

The film that has been labelled the winner before its secured a nomination this year is The Artist. Many have already said it's a done deal though nomination ballots don't go out for another 9 days. So the backlash has begun. It's an inevitable fact of frontrunner status as any year teaches us.

On backlashes, nostalgia and scarce originals after the jump

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Box Office: Ethan, Sherlock and Alvin Return 

The newish Sherlock Holmes franchise was down from its first go around and the news was even worse for The Chipmunks in their third attack on the box office. Those high pitched rodents were off 50% so maybe we can safely bury this franchise?

I could have put a picture of Alvin and the Chipmunks here. Thank me!

The big story was crowded houses in limited release for the return of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) in Mission: Impossible 4. (The four is silent or pronounced "Gost Pro•toh•call".) I'm eager to see it myself, not because of that prologue to The Dark Knight Rises that's attached in some theaters but because... director BRAD BIRD! He hasn't let us down yet: Family Dog, The Incredibles, Iron Giant, Ratatouille! So curious to see how he handles flesh and blood actors instead of drawings and pixels.

Box Office Top Ten
04 NEW YEAR'S EVE new $7.4 (cum. $24.8)
05 THE SITTER new $4.4 (cum. $17.7)
07 YOUNG ADULT $3.6 (cum $4)
08 HUGO $3.6 (cum $39)
09 ARTHUR CHRISTMAS $3.6 (cum. $38.5)
10 THE MUPPETS $3.4 (cum $70.9)

Other Talking Points
Precursor Nominations Mean Nothing to Ticket SalesThe Descendants [Michael's review] didn't really get a boost from its week of precursor glories, off 23% from last week, but then neither did any of the other films. It's all white noise to general audiences... until Oscar nominations, one supposes. Meanwhile one wonders if the Weinstein Co is being too cautious. The Artist [Nathaniel's review] was off only 2% but they only added one screen. My Week With Marilyn [Nathaniel's review] is also losing heat without expansions. It's taking forever and what gives with that. Marilyn is a brand. 

Jodie in Hiding:  Carnage is the second Jodie Foster picture in a row to open in a tiny number of locations following The Beaver. While I realize she isn't the draw she once was, it seems like she'd still be enough of a draw in wide release to at least make some money on a wider opening, even if people don't end up liking the movie, instead of the torturous inching along which prevents revenue.

Indie Success: Shame crossed the $1 million mark with 30 screens added and Margin Call crossed the $5 million mark (on a $3.5 million budget) as it continues to lose theaters. Is Margin Call a sign that Zachary Quinto is going to be a real behind-the-scenes force? He really seems to be taking to the producer's role with several projects lined up. 

What did you see this weekend? Was it worth your time?


Burning Questions: Can You Skip the Precursors?

Michael C here to take stock of the performers left in the dust by the recent rush of precursors. 

With the announcement of the Golden Globes and SAG nominations behind us the first round of the elaborate Kabuki dance known as Precursor Season is concluded. A week ago we could let our imaginations run wild with the possibilities of our favorite performances making good. Now if an actor hasn’t heard his or her name called by either group? Well, as George C. Scott once said to Peter Sellers, their chances have been quickly reduced to a very low order of probability.

So how low is low? What are the chances of a performance getting nominated without a Globe or SAG nomination? 

Approximately 1 in 20. That's what my remarkably un-scientific research tells me. For this I took a look at the last 10 years. If you go back too far the stats become less relevant. Plus, 10 is a nice round number and if I wanted to do complicated math I wouldn’t be a movie blogger. So, 10 years = 200 nominated performances. and out of those only 12 failed to receive either a SAG or GG nod first. They are:

Nominated Without Precursor LoveLead Actor

  • Javier Bardem – Biutiful
  • Tommy Lee Jones – In the Valley of Elah
  • Clint Eastwood - Million Dollar Baby 


Lead Actress

  • Laura Linney – The Savages
  • Samantha Morton – In America


Supporting Actor

  • Michael Shannon – Revolutionary Road
  • Alan Alda – The Aviator
  • Djimon Hounsou – In America 
  • William Hurt - A History of Violence 

Supporting Actress

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal – Crazy Heart
  • Marcia Gay Harden – Mystic River
  • Shohreh Aghdashloo – House of Sand and Fog


12 out of 200 is 6% meaning roughly 1 in 20, or about one a year on average. So contenders have their work cut out for them, or at least their publicists do, if they want to get a ninth inning rally going. 

How to best spot those contenders that are flying under the radar? I admit this might be a Beautiful Mind-like exercise in finding patterns where none exist, but here are the lessons I can draw from recent history, plus the 2011 contenders who may benefit:

5 out of 7 of the surprise supporting nominations were for films that also landed nominations in the lead categories, and one of them - Michael Shannon - came close. Only Tommy Lee Jones represented his film’s sole nomination so you need the film to do some of the work for you.
Advantage: Carey Mulligan, Ezra Miller, Judy Greer

Playing Favorites
None of the surprise names in the lead categories were receiving their first nomination. In the big categories don't underestimate the proven vote-getters.
Advantage: Woody Harrelson, Ryan Gosling, Michael Shannon

Category Confusion
A few of these unexpected names were the result of a slot opening up when supporting contenders like Kate Winslet jumped to lead.
Advantage: Nobody. Category placement seems pretty solid this year, no? 

Of the 12 curveball nominations listed above only 3 (Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt and Tommy Lee Jones) were from films released prior to Thanksgiving, and none were released prior to September.  Once voters get to the bottom of those screeners currently piling up next to the TV there is bound to be a late-breaking favorite or two.
Advantage: Gary Oldman, Max Von Sydow, Patton Oswalt

Nail It
Of course, when all is said and done it doesn’t hurt to deliver a performance that absolutely tears the house down. I can recall the impact in the theater when Michael Shannon tore through his brief screen time in Revolutionary Road like a wild animal. When that kind of electricity is coming off the screen prognosticators can be forgiven for keeping that person in their predictions no matter what the odds.
Advantage: Vanessa Redgrave, Oliva Colman, Andy Serkis


So if you want to keep rooting for your favorite underdog, there's your sliver of hope. And personally, I think I will keep on clinging to my hopes of a groundswell for Bruce Greenwood's performance in Meek's Cutoff regardless of any logic to the contrary.

Is there an important angle on this I missed? Let me know in the comments. You can follow Michael C. on Twitter at @SeriousFilm or read his blog Serious Film


FYC Booklets: Shame

Ever since we shared that Harry Potter "Consider..." book, I've been meaning open to crack open the other FYC ads that have arrived. So let's do that starting with Shame.

Shame... Why didn't this one come in a black plastic or brown paper wrapping like porn? The cover blurb courtesy of New York magazine says

Michael Fassbender has arrived."

Where? We'll be right over!

We get the meaning but that happened with Hunger, thank you, and was immediately confirmed over and over again for the next year and change with the consecutive openings of Inglourious Basterds, Jane Eyre and X-Men First Class and so on. He's not only arrived, he's moved in.

More Shame and modest FYC proposals after the jump

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