James Cameron for Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds
Lee Daniels for Precious
Jason Reitman for Up in the Air
This category seems to break down into three categories as regards the chance each has of winning the prize. In the last category, essentially the no-hopers, are Lee Daniels and Jason Reitman. Reitman is the kind of director who will consistently struggle to win this prize as his skill comes through his ability to manage performance and tone rather than anything visually spectacular or inventive. Up in the Air is a pristine film with some well-composed images, but it’s script and performance-driven, similar to Juno and Thank You for Smoking. He deserves plaudits, but they won’t be sufficient for the prize. Lee Daniels has promise as an inventive director, but too many choices fall flat in Precious and he won’t win.
Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds
Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman for The Messenger
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen for A Serious Man
Pete Docter and Bob Peterson for Up
Having taken home the BAFTA, it would seem that The Hurt Locker has positioned itself for a potential clean sweep at the Oscars this year. The film has garnered almost uniformly excellent reviews and its meagre box-office take appears to have had little impact on its chances come Awards season. To get it out of the way at the start, this is going to be the Iraq film to compete for the awards, to The Messenger will have to put up with being the year’s second-best semi-apolitical Iraq movie.
I did predict a few little while ago, but much has changed in the interim and I feel it necessary to update my prediction season for the nominees, something I will do again in early February just before the nominations are announced.
The primary change is the fall of Nine, previously considered a shoe-in for most categories, which looks likely to win absolutely nothing outside of a possible couple of technicals. Add to that the rising popularity of Inglourious Basterds and the seemingly-unstoppable attention being given to The Hurt Locker, plus the apparently disastrous The Lovely Bones, and some things have to change.
Below then are my predictions for the top few categories, with some explanation as to why and, bold as it may be, my predictions for the likely winners in each category.
Our brand new writer, Chris Inman, has not only provided the world with his top five movies of 2009, he now furnishes you lucky people with his top twenty movies of the decade. A couple of controversial more recent choices are included and should be debated immediately, but otherwise it’s a bloody strong list that will definitely find one followers amongst the existing MOD clan who will thoroughly agree with the winner.
Onwards then, and look our for more articles to come from Chris in the very near future as he kicks off his tenure with us in earnest.
Time to have a little guess again at which films could be nominated for Oscars in a couple of months time, just entirely based on hype and vague attempts to understand the predictable nature of the Academy. So, for debate and conjecture’s stake, enjoy these predictions for the Oscar nominations in 2010, post jump. Continue reading →
Like Cameron Crowe last week, Tarantino’s style is probably more an aural one than visual. He’s certainly not a man without the ability to make a good looking movie, but the only discernible style that seems intrinsically his, on a visual level, is the foot fetish. Otherwise, its the music and the dialogue.
Since the beginning of his career, Tarantino has made a name for himself through his musical choices. Sometimes, and his present choices seem to speak to this, he has a tendency to side further towards more obscure music, often making selections which appear more wilfully obscure than components in aiding the quality of the film. Death Proof, a film I disliked quite a bit, has one amazing moment with the use of ‘Hold Tight’ by Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, a complete classic used to perfection. Otherwise, like much of that film, everything felt tightly constructed to evoke a certain style and feeling which felt derivative of Tarantino himself.
As we are prone to do, it feels like to kick-off the Oscar buzz season as awards from major film festivals begin to roll in and the ceremony approaches. I realise that this may feel like the kind of wishing-life-away feeling that it given as you walk into shops in mid-September and see Christmas stock out all over the place, but these will get more frequent as we get closer and can begin to actually predict what could win. This is more to provide an interesting gauge of how buzz works, how it changes and how wrong we could well end up being by the time the awards come around.
So, just for the big few categories, here’s what seems like it’s going to cause a stir this year: Continue reading →
So, in the wake of Transformers revenging the fallen all over our minds, we were in need of cooling down from the sheer anger and exhaustion felt in the studio. Though Sunshine Cleaning should have been a great example of an indie to bring us back onto home turf, it ended up an underwhelming experience. The eminently crushworthy pairing of Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, along with the solid Alan Arkin and roles for Steve Zahn and Clifton Collins Jr, just couldn’t quite drive us into anything beyond a tepid lack of satisfaction. Ideas involved were strong, but the execution was half-hearted, even if all of the above tried really hard to elevate the material. Continue reading →
The return of the Cooper! Jon Cooper comes back to the podcast to have a chat about Adventureland. Tom and Sam have a think about (500) Days of Summer and the gents all think about the YouTube rental model. They go on to reminisce about Hackers, praise Fish Tank to the hills and have a good ol’ natter about Supernatural. The conclusion sees Tom depart and Producer John step in to talk about music in movies.
Show notes coming in later post.
Michael Haneke has won the Palme d’Or for his acclaimed The White Ribbon (review by Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian). The film, described by IFC’s The Daily as “a two-and-a-half hour parable of political and social ideas set entirely in a north German village in 1913 and 1914”, marks the first Palme d’Or win for Haneke following a number of other awards successes for the German provocateur at the festival. He has in the past won prizes for Hidden, The Piano Teacher and Code Unknown, but this is his first win of the top prize.
Alain Resnais, an outside member of the Nouvelle Vague and creator of the time-warping masterpieces Last Year in Marienbad and Hiroshima, Mon Amour, was given the Special Jury Prize in honour of his Wild Grass (review by Daniel Kasman at The Auteur’s Notebook). The Grand Prix was given to Jacques Audiard’s The Prophet (review by Anthony Kaufman at indieWIRE). The director prize went to Brillante Mendoza for his violent drama Kinatay, already torn a new one by Roger Ebert. The eminent Chicago Sun-Times voice essentially opens his review with an apology to Vincent Gallo over his past assertion that The Brown Bunny was the worst film in the history of the festival.
Ebert goes on to say:
“After extensive recutting, the Gallo film was redeemed. I don’t think editing is going to do the trick for “Kinatay.” If Mendoza wants to please any viewer except for the most tortured theorist (one of those careerists who thinks movies are about arcane academic debates and not people) he’s going to have to remake his entire second half.”
Onwards with Cannes however, The Prix de Scenario for Best Screenplay was given to Feng Mei for the Lou Ye-directed Spring Fever (review by Sukhdev Sandhu at The Telegraph). That has itself been surrounded by controversy over the decision by Ye to screen the film in Cannes without the approval of the Chinese government.
The Camera d’Or for Best First Feature was given to Australian Warwick Thornton for Samson and Delilah (interview here and review, by The Telegraph’s Sandu, which indicates the love to have come for this film), his indigenous realist drama.
Very nicely, the Prix du Jury was given to Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank (review by The Guardian’s Bradshaw) and Park Chan-wook’s horror film Thirst (review by Twitch’s Todd Brown). Arnold, whose outstanding Red Road won the Jury Prize in 2006, had been tipped for a possible Palme d’Or this time round but will instead have to settle for outstanding reviews yet again.
The acting honours provide the most curious choices. Tarantino’s lukewarmly received Inglourious Basterds (review by Spout’s Karina Longworth) saw Christoph Waltz take home the Best Actor Prize while Charlotte Gainsbourg won Best Actress for her performance in Lars von Trier’s hugely controversial Antichrist.
Probably the most notably absentees from the possible prize winners are Jane Campion’s Bright Star, her story of the love affair between John Keats and Fanny Brawn, and Ken Loach’s fondly-tipped Looking for Eric. Bright Star was another beloved by critics in the UK while Looking for Eric didn’t quite live up to all expectations but was mostly liked too. Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void, his follow-up to the equally loathed and admired Irreversible, seemed to spark little in the way of notice for those attending the festival, but did at least bring some searching analysis from those who did take notice.
The line-up for the Cannes Film Festival has been announced with a number of interesting projects set to bow in and out of competiton.
As all will already know, Pixar’s Up is opening the festival, the first animated and first 3D film to do so. The other most notable entry is The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, the Terry Gilliam-directed movie already set in infamy for being what Heath Ledger was working on when he died.
In competition, Quentin Tarantino comes with Inglourious Basterds, unlikely to repeat the Palme D’or-winning success of Pulp Fiction, while other past winners include The Piano’s Jane Campion with Bright Star and Ken Loach with his Looking for Eric. Loach won a couple of year’s ago for the excellent The Wind that Shakes the Barley and is presently among the favourites to take the top prize this year.
Also involved in competition is Michael Haneke with The White Ribbon, Irreversible’s Gaspar Noe with Enter the Void, Lars von Trier with his creepy-looking Antichrist, Johnnie To with Vengeance, Ang Lee with Taking Woodstock, Red Road’s Andrea Arnold with Fish Tank and Pedro Almodovar with Broken Embraces.
Also notable is the midnight screening of Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell and the return of Alejandro Amenabar with the phenomenal-looking Agora.
Could be a mighty interesting competition this year, especially given the tendency in the past few years for the festival to pick out surprise winners so it’s quite possible that all the films above won’t be in with a shout when it comes down to it.
By now, all and sundry will have seen the trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s much delayed, heavily anticipated new film, Inglourious Basterds. A very loose remake of a late-70s warploitation picture directed by Enzo Castellari, this has been circulating for some time now but has really kicked into gear in the past six months, first garnering much attention for its idiosyncratic casting and now starting to attract mixed-anticipation from forever apologists on his work and some scorn for certain aspects of what we can see.
Most of the problem I would have with the film is the casting of Brad Pitt in that lead role. Pitt recently won a deeply undeserved Oscar nomination for his performance in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and seems to have been elevated to a sort of untouchable status in Hollywood where his performances are never really watched with any critical eye by audiences. He seems able to walk into the most coveted roles in the industry without having to display anything beyond basic human charisma. He is a very watchable actor but, as brutally evidenced in this trailer, this is not the film for him. He has to play a grizzled veteran, a man entirely at home with violence and a skewed sense of patriotism. What we get here sounds more like Ben Button getting cranky.
Outside of that, the casting itself seems entirely strange, not only because he cast the hideous, execrable, annoying, talentless Eli Roth in a prominent acting role, but he has also hired the likes of BJ Novak (Ryan on the US version of The Office) and Samm Levine (Freaks & Geeks) to make up the assembled team of Nazi killers. To the Tarantino mega-fan, this will seem like another of his casting masterstrokes, but to me this reeks of constructed eccentricity. There can be nothing worse than creative decisions which seem to have been designed specifically to hit the quirk buttons and this seems very much that way.
Whether this film will be good or not, I cannot tell you at this point, but this looks like another of Tarantino’s films which will veer too far into over-clever pastiche in a way that Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction never did. I’m beginning to strongly desire just a straight film, nothing that recalls or pastiches anything from the past, nothing that’s a generic piece from a genre which only the hipster snoberati will regail in. Please, Quentin, just make something that showcases your talent rather than your ability to recall your past of watching movies all day and night.
Inglourious Basterds Trailer