The rants and raves of a teenage cinephile who is just a little bit obsessed with Catherine O'Hara and Hayao Miyazaki.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

OSCAR PREDICTIONS!

So everyone my Oscar predictions, and picks. I have to be honest with you all though - I'm a bad movie blogger...I won't be watching the Oscars until tomorrow night because I have a majorly humongous audition in the morning and I can't afford to lose sleep. SO I shall refrain from looking at blogs until tomorrow night. Hehe.

Best Picture
Prediction: The King's Speech
My Pick: The Social Network

Best Director
Prediction: David Fincher
My Pick: David Fincher

Best Actor
Prediction: Colin Firth
My Pick: Jesse Eisenberg

Best Actress
Prediction: Natalie Portman
My Pick: Natalie Portman

Best Supporting Actor
Prediction: Christian Bale
My Pick: Geoffrey Rush

Best Supporting Actress
Prediction: Helena Bonham Carter (seriously)
My Pick: Jacki Weaver

Best Original Screenplay
Prediction: The King's Speech
My Pick: The King's Speech

Best Adapted Screenplay
Prediction: The Social Network
My Pick: The Social Network

Best Animated Film
Prediction: Toy Story 3
My Pick: How to Train Your Dragon

Best Foreign Film
Prediction: Biutiful
My Pick: Dogtooth

Cinematography
Prediction: True Grit
My Pick: Black Swan

Editing
Prediction: The Social Network?
My Pick: The Social Network

Art Direction
Prediction: The King's Speech
My Pick: The King's Speech

Costume Design
Prediction: The King's Speech
My Pick: I Am Love

Makeup
Prediction: Barney's Version
My Pick: I have seen none of these films so I have no pick.

Original Score
Prediction: The King's Speech (though I feel this could go to any of the nominees, honestly.)
My Pick: The Social Network

Original Song
Prediction: "If I Rise"
My Pick: Ugh. "If I Rise" I suppose. I can't wait to see Florence Welch sing it!

Sound Mixing
Prediction: Inception
My Pick: The Social Network

Sound Editing
Prediction: Inception
My Pick: Inception

Visual Effects
Prediction: Inception
My Pick: Scott Pilgrim Vs the...oh wait. Inception.

Documentary
Prediction: Exit Through the Gift Shop
My Pick: Exit Through the Gift Shop

Documentary Short
Prediction: Poster Girl

Live Action Short
Prediction: God of Love
My Pick: Wish 143

Animated Short
Prediction: Madagascar, A Journey Diary
My Pick: It'd probably be Madagascar if I'd seen it but I liked Day & Night just fine.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Golden Cornea Awards 2011: The Top 10

And now, the moment for which you all have been waiting so fervently (ahem), my top ten films of the year. As should go without saying, this is my top ten right now - things can change over time. For example, I included "Avatar" at number 5 when I first made my list for last year, but then when I revisited recently it didn't even make the top ten. So! Anyway. Enough babble, on with the list!


10. How to Train Your Dragon

Ever since I first fell in love with this surprising movie when I first saw it, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Its story line may be a bit cliche, sure, but it still manages to defy convention nonetheless. It's so sensitive and I fell in love with it despite its imperfections. And that score? It's just so wonderful. And, it's my current ringtone. Hahaha


9. Animal Kingdom

You all should know by now how much I adore Jacki Weaver, but there's more to this film than just her. It's masterfully written, frightening and intense and yet there's this heart to it all - a bizarre, slightly dysfunctional heart, but it's there nonetheless. The performances from the rest of the cast are great and Michod's subtle directorial work leaves you wanting more and more.


8. Dogtooth

I'll freely admit that its off putting subject matter is what's keeping this film from being higher on the list, but there is absolutely no denying how bizarrely brilliant it is. It's fascinatingly shot, with perfectly mysterious performances from the entire cast - and while so many movies force messages with cliches and manipulation "Dogtooth" tackles so many themes and lets the screenplay speak for itself. Shocking, but fascinating.


7. Mother

This movie should have been just another crime drama. Instead, it's a provocative, tense, fascinating and often beautiful portrait of a mother's unyielding love for her son. Bong Joon-Ho plots every frame with so much detail and thought, allowing Kim Hye-Ja to work her wonders.


6. True Grit

From the opening shot to the closing narration, "True Grit" is a surprisingly riveting tale that deals perfectly with the implications of redemption. The Coen Brothers totally turn what could have been an ordinary western into an extraordinary journey told through the eyes of a young fourteen year old girl. Surprisingly funny and extraordinarily grandiose, it's just another amazing movie from the Coens.




5. 127 Hours

Okay, Danny Boyle's sometimes erratic choices may not have always been good choices, but the overall film ends up being such a success that it's possible to overlook the mistakes - and then some. No film affected me as emotionally as "127 Hours" did - James Franco's fantastic performance takes the viewer on such a powerful journey. Inspiring and emotional, the power of this film cannot be understated.


4. Rabbit Hole

"Rabbit Hole" isn't necessarily sad - more like poignant and seeing grief treated in such a way is so refreshing and, ultimately affecting. The myriad of great performances from Kidman, Eckhart, Teller, Weist and Oh enhance the already gorgeous script, which is all put together by the tender hand of John Cameron Mitchell. This film never forces you to feel, it just allows itself to be so real that you can't help but be devastated, and yet, filled with hope.


3. Black Swan

My excitement for this film went down a wee bit since I first saw it (on opening day which is something I will be eternally proud of) but I still adore it so. Watching it was such a thrill ride that after I left the theater I was just speechless. It's scary, it's gorgeous, and it's thought provoking, featuring a career-best performance from Portman...and honestly, everyone else in the cast too. As the woman behind me in the theater put it, "WHAT THE HELLLLL WAS THAT?!", in the good way of course.


2. The Social Network

I'd be hard pressed to find as intelligent a film as "The Social Network" that also has such an emotional core. To quote everybody in the world, it's not about Facebook, it's about friendship. Fincher's direction brilliantly brings together such fantastic technical achievments (the score! the cinematography!) and though this may not win Best Picture tomorrow night, this will be the film that stands the test of time.


1. Scott Pilgrim Vs the World

Okay. It may not be the genius instant-classic that "The Social Network" is, nor is it perhaps the beautiful masterpiece that "Black Swan" is, but I did not fall in lesbians so hard with any film as hard as I fell for "Scott Pilgrim". My nerdier side loved the video game references and the 8-bit soundtrack but my intelligent side adored the perfect acting and creative filmmaking style. Behind all of the amazing visual effects it's still just a story of a rather imperfect relationship and what we all go through to be with the ones we love, and it's just so perfect. I simply couldn't not call it my favorite of the year.


Ah, so there you have it everyone! My favorites. I hope you've all enjoyed the Golden Corneas - what did you think of my choices? Surprised? Angry? Sad? The comment box is like a therapy session - all feelings welcome without judgment so sound off below!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Golden Cornea Awards 2011: The Honorable Mentions

And now, for seven films (because seven is a magical number) that I really loved but just didn't quite make it to the top 10.

Toy Story 3 - Both unbelievably touching and thoroughly hilarious, this was the perfect end to a brilliant trilogy.

Please Give - Gently self conscious, Holofcener's cleverly biting film is a wonderful portrait of a bunch of messed up people who you can't help but fall in love with.

The King's Speech - Gorgeous and inspiring, this film defies the laws of period epics and ends up being a fascinating story well told.

Mother and Child - Manipulative? Perhaps a bit. But there's no denying how moving and poignant this film is, as it balances three wonderful stories buoyed by three amazing performances from Bening, Watts and Washington.

Winter's Bone - Thrilling and memorable, Lawrence's star turn is impressive but it's Granik, Dickey and Hawkes that really make this movie as unforgettable as it is.

Blue Valentine - I didn't love it as much as most but I can't deny the impact that it had - Williams and Gosling give beautiful performances and that ending is marvelous.

Morning Glory - I'll go ahead and give this movie the guilty pleasure slot on the list, but it was really a surprisingly lovely and enjoyable little gem. The trio of McAdams, Keaton and Ford is so fun to watch.


***

And I also must mention another amazing film that I didn't include in my top ten because I exclude documentaries but if I did include documentaries it totally would have made it - Exit Through the Gift Shop, which is a fascinating and fast paced look at the world of underground art. So interesting and so well made.

***

Other films that I really liked this year, and will remember for a long time include..."I Am Love", "The Kids Are All Right", "Greenberg", "Date Night", "Easy A", and "The Runaways". I've got to say, despite popular opinion, I really think it's been a good year for film.

So thre you have it! Top ten of the year coming very soon - are you surprised at any of my choices? Sound off below!

Golden Cornea Awards 2011: The Directors

We're nearing the end of the Golden Corneas! Next well be the reveal of the top 10 of the year. I've had to majorly speed up since I realized it will all become irrelevant after Sunday. ;) So now the directors.

5. Bong Joon-Ho - "Mother"


Bong totally fixes some of the problems that appeared in his earlier work and skillfully crafts a masterpiece of tone, suspense, and emotion, without ever losing focus on his magnificent leading lady.

4. Edgar Wright - "Scott Pilgrim vs the World"


"Scott Pilgrim" would never have worked without as skillful a director as Wright at the helm. His fast paced direction fuses brilliant video game references, comic book styling and exciting visual effects to create a hilarious, amazing and epic film that also has a great heart.

3. Giorgos Lanthimos - "Dogtooth"


Lanthimos creates his own frightening world in "Dogtooth", the most subtle of touches accentuating his unfathomable vision. His lingering eye and genius touch on the themes of the piece enhance his disturbingly original, absorbing and memorable film.

2. Darren Aronofsky - "Black Swan"


Aronofsky is unforgiving in his direction of "Black Swan". It's extremely scary, wickedly funny and at the same time, lushly beautiful. The mix of all of this film's great elements enhances what Aronofsky truly wants to emphasize - Natalie Portman's performance, one that would surely have been nowhere near as phenomenal without such a great director to guide it.

1. David Fincher - "The Social Network"


I don't think anyone thought that a movie about the creation of Facebook would end up becoming one of the best films of the year. But, thanks almost completely to Fincher's genius, the film became not about Facebook, but about friendship. Fincher's direction is sharp, precise and yet, completely human, never letting the film's marvelous technical achievements drown out its heart.

Honorable Mentions:

David Michod's debut work in "Animal Kingdom" is really stunning - it'll be fantastic to see what he does next; "Winter's Bone" is marvelously directed by Debra Granik, who fills every scene with remarkable tone and tension; John Cameron Mitchell's quiet work on "Rabbit Hole" is marvelous in that it never takes the easy way out in resorting to histrionics; Tom Hooper has a unique visual style that also achieves three fantastic performances from the actors.

Just Missed It:

Luca Guadagnino, "I Am Love"; Coen Bros, "True Grit"; Lisa Cholodenko, "The Kids Are All Right"; Roger Michell, "Morning Glory"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Golden Cornea Awards 2011: The Actresses


Coming up with a top five for this category was a surprisingly simple task, since there were exactly five performances that really, really stood out to me this year. Of course, there were several women who didn't quite make the top five but would have been totally deserving - it was such a strong year. Anyway, the top five!

5. Kim Hye-Ja - "Mother"


When I first saw this film, the only adjective I could use to describe Kim's performance was operatic. The range of emotions she goes through to portray her character are so expansive and thus so marvelous to watch unfold. Her final shot is simply haunting - the entire performance is a magnificent piece of work.

4. Nicole Kidman - "Rabbit Hole"


Almost the polar opposite of Kim Hye-Ja, Kidman plays Becca with such a quiet force of emotion. Her cold exterior is never alienating and Kidman's handling of the long grief period her character experienced before the start of the movie is masterful. Kidman gives a simply beauiful performance - those park scenes are perfection.

3. Emma Stone - "Easy A"


Compared to the other women on this list, and many of the other fantastic performances that didn't make the top five, Stone's performance may seem a bit lightweight. Take a second look though, and you'll see that in "Easy A" Emma Stone delivers an absolutely brilliant, radiant comedic performance. She elevates every single aspect of the movie, and every single line from her mouth, every single facial expression, and every little twitch or bodily reaction is perfectly timed to achieve the ultimate comedic affect. A star-making turn that leaves you wanting more.

2. Annette Bening - "Mother and Child"


It's Bening's performance in "The Kids are All Right" that's been getting the most praise (and it is a fantastic performance) but it's her work in "Mother and Child" that I remember, and will remember, the most. Bening is perfect at being cold, even mean, but she knows Karen so, so well that it's impossible for us not to connect. The way she paces her performance is also great, so that the big emotional moment in her performance is truly heart wrenching. Limited screentime does not hinder this magnificent work.

1. Natalie Portman - "Black Swan"



It's hard to really formulate thoughts around this epic performance. Portman gives the performance of a lifetime as the mentally deteriorating Nina, balancing her innocent persona in the first act marvelously with her unraveling character in the second act. Even disregarding the physical effort that this performance required, Natalie Portman's complete immersion in her character hasn't got a single gap and is horrifying, beautiful, and awesome all at once. And that scene in the bathroom stall? Best acting all year.

Honorable Mentions:

It was difficult to not mention Michelle Williams who does beautiful, multilayered and age-spanning work in "Blue Valentine"; Greta Gerwig's quiet, non-actressy performance is so marvelously simple in "Greenberg" as she becomes the film's unlikely hero; Jennifer Lawrence carries "Winter's Bone" so well with a raw naturalism that is rarely seen done so well; Hailee Steinfeld shows acting skills beyond her years as she gives her character remarkable candor and yet, perfect subtlety.

Just Missed It:

Catherine Keener in "Please Give", Julianne Moore in "The Kids Are All Right", Rachel McAdams in "Morning Glory", Mary Elizabeth Winstead in "Scott Pilgrim Vs the World"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Golden Cornea Awards 2011: The Actors

Oddly I find it much harder to be impressed by male actors than their female counterparts, but this year was actually full of really impressive performances, especially after the rather underwhelming crowd last year (though Jeremy Renner's work in "The Hurt Locker" is simply fantastic).

5. Colin Firth - "The King's Speech"


If you think about it, Firth really doesn't have THAT much dialogue in the whole movie - yet he is able to create a fantastic character. His stutter isn't just a physical impairment, it comes from every fiber of his very being and Firth makes Bertie's journey so relatable for the audience.

4. James Franco - "127 Hours"


Franco's challenge is obvious - to hold the screen with almost no supporting cast for the duration of an entire film. But, with his ever expressive eyes and his brilliant energy, we the audience are completely captivated by Ralston's struggle. Franco skews his natural charisma as the film goes along so that we never lose hope for Ralston, even if he's losing hope himself.

3. Ryan Gosling - "Blue Valentine"

It may miss the point of the film to call Gosling the heart of "Blue Valentine", but his performance, more than any other aspect of the film, is charged with a real emotional intensity that is simply devastating. Dean's fight for what he considers a "perfect family" ends up tearing his marriage apart but his constant and failing attempts are portrayed so painfully and convincingly by Gosling. Oh, and I know everyone's already said it but "You always hurt the ones you love" is one of the best acted scenes of the year.

2. Aaron Eckhart - "Rabbit Hole"


It's shocking how unnoticed Eckhart went throughout awards season. His quiet performance never steals momentum from Kidman, and yet it stands alone so brilliantly and ends up being so heartbreaking. Eckhart layers his character so well that when the breakdown finally does happen it's impossible not to be completely destroyed with him.

1. Jesse Eisenberg - "The Social Network"


Ever since "The Squid and the Whale", I've always thought that Eisenberg had potential - but nothing prepared me for the brilliance that was his work in "The Social Network". Eisenberg is so subtle it's shocking, every emotion lying slightly underneath this facade that Mark creates for himself, Eisenberg always able to show so much while doing so little. Though the snappy, smart alecky dialogue is particularly well played, it's the subtle turns of emotion (such as in the "did I answer your condescending question?" scene) that are truly stunning.

Honorable Mentions:

Jeff Bridges grumbles and mumbles his way amazingly through "True Grit", and the amount of emotions he expresses with his one eye is simply awesome; Ben Stiller is kind of polarizing but I found his performance in "Greenberg" to be perfectly simple droll and ultimately affecting; Ben Mendelsohn is frighteningly unhinged in "Animal Kingdom"; Anyone saying Michael Cera plays the same character every time is missing out on all the hilarious little subtleties he injects into "Scott Pilgrim vs the World"; Leonardo DiCaprio does a perfect spiral into madness in "Shutter Island".

Just Missed It:

Oliver Platt in "Please Give", Alexei Guskov in "The Concert", Christos Stergioglou in "Dogtooth"

Ya'll know the drill. Comments below!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Golden Cornea Awards 2011: The Screenplays

Screenplays are the basis of the film - without a good screenplay, there's really nothing that can redeem a film. This year was full of really good writing, so now a few of my faves.

Adapted

5. True Grit - Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

The Coen Brothers consistently bring great writing to the screen. "True Grit" is not only rife with great period language and dialogue but it's also chock full with great characters and trademark Coen Brothers humor. Not to mention the perfect structure.

4. Winter's Bone - Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini

Similarly to "True Grit", "Winter's Bone" is full of colloquial dialogue and terminology which is an accomplishment on its own. But the script's greatest accomplishment is its minimalist structure which allows the emotional shocks in the arc to stand out shockingly and perfectly.


3. Rabbit Hole - David Lindsay-Abaire

Grief is such a difficult theme for the movies to get right - but "Rabbit Hole" is pretty much perfect. Lindsay-Abaire never lets his characters wallow in their situati
on, instead treating them like the real people that they are. The script also finds unexpected humor that makes the emotional parts so much more painful. The seamless transition from stage to screen is also a great accomplishment.

2. Scott Pilgrim VS The World - Michael Bacall, Edgar Wright

It's no easy feat to get a successful, memorable one-liner into a screenplay. However, Bacall and Wright were able to make almost every single line in "Scott Pilgrim" into one that you can quote innumerable times after the credits roll. However, the quirky and amazingly funny dialogue is just the icing on the cake that is the simple, adorable and timeless story of a boy who will do anything to be with the girl he loves.

1. The Social Network - Aaron Sorkin

There's not much I can say about this script that hasn't already been said - the dialogue is brilliant, the characters are fantastically fleshed out and the structure is simply perfect. Sorkin's script will assure this film's status as an instant classic.

Honorable Mentions: "127 Hours"'s screenplay balances Ralston in and out of the pit perfectly; "How to Train Your Dragon" might be a bit cliche but it still never takes the easy way out.


Original

5. The Kids Are All Right - Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg

Cholodenko and Blumberg craft a touching, creative and unique portrait of an alternative family, perhaps most effectively by treating them like any other family. Not to mention that the film is so funny.

4. The King's Speech - David Seidler

David Seidler's captivating screenplay is just another one of the reasons that "The King's Speech" defies some of the convention that it could have easily fallen into. Seidler humanizes each character and never loses an opportunity for humor, pathos or an appropriately timed zinger of dialogue.

3. Please Give - Nicole Holofcener

"Please Give" could so easily have come off annoying or too quirky for its own good. However, Holofcener's genius script avoids these possible pitfalls by thoroughly developing and shaping each character so well, and never losing anyone's plotline in this truly ensemble film. The dialogue is impeccably funny and smart, and the sensitive heart at the film's center is unflinchingly real.

2. Animal Kingdom - David Michod

Obviously my favorite thing about "Animal Kingdom" is Jacki Weaver but had David Michod not crafted such a fascinating, layered, and complex screenplay for her to work with, "Animal Kingdom" would not have been as successful or as fantastic as it was. Michod's crime drama tackles so many themes with passionate energy and underneath it all is a fantastic and rare emotional core.

1. Dogtooth - Giorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou

Based purely on creativity, "Dogtooth" is already one of the best films of the year. But not only does it have a ridiculously interesting concept, it totally delivers on that concept without ever alienating the viewer. Lanthimos and Filippou's bizarre (in the best sense of the word) work succeeds as satire, horror, and family relationship drama equally well and will surely last the test of time.

Honorable Mentions: "Greenberg" is so well written and it just nearly missed the top 5, but even the film's nearly unlikeable characters are portrayed so sympathetically; "Toy Story 3" relies on the first two films for a lot but it's still an original and creative piece of work with the perfect ending; "Solitary Man" has some amazing dialogue, along with some really interesting characters; I know a lot of people despise it and even though it really seems inconsequential, "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" is still a really well-written and funny piece by Allen; "Morning Glory" is more adorable, funny and emotionally engrossing than it had any right to be thanks to its screenplay.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Golden Cornea Awards 2011: The Supporting Actresses

Hm, this is perhaps my most "alternative" category, as almost none of my top five received as much mainstream praise as they perhaps deserved. I do think it was a very strong year though, with a really fantastic variety of performances from a whole group of fantastic ladies. So, my personal favorites!

5. Amy Adams - "The Fighter"

I honestly think Amy Adams can do no wrong, though playing against type seemed like a risky gamble for her. However, she totally pulls it off and then some. Charlene is such an interesting character, thanks heavily to Adams's complex and multilayered performance. She never takes the easy way out and even through her thick accent she has an irresistible heart and moxie that transcends the typical "supportive girlfriend" role that she was given.


4. Dale Dickey - "Winter's Bone"

Dickey's performance is simply frightening as Merab. She's a conflicted character - it's obvious that she cares about Ree, but her loyalty to her family comes first. Just watch as Dickey changes from protective matron to helpful friend from beginning to the end of the movie, it's a fantastic arc. Her haunting and expressive eyes seal the deal.


3. Naomi Watts - "Mother and Child"


"Mother and Child" is, as I mentioned before, full of fantastic performances. But Naomi Watts is particularly notable because of how much her performance simply should not have worked. On paper, her arc is borderline ridiculous. However, Watts makes her character powerfully real, human and believable. Her change from beginning to end is simply beautiful to watch and that elevator scene...perfection.

2. Ellen Wong - "Scott Pilgrim VS the World"

You can read my full thoughts on her here. Simply, Wong steals the movie from the rest of the uber-talented cast and creates an unbelievably loveable, beautifully sensitive and perfectly funny. I just can't get enough!

1. Jacki Weaver - "Animal Kingdom"

Oh my goodness, I can't even begin to describe this performance in words. Weaver is always in the background, always watching over her children, always an ever present force that drives the rest of her family. She's not perfect - she's manipulative, she's definitely a criminal, but she's no villain. Above all she loves her sons and will do anything for them. Weaver's Smurf is so effortlessly complex that her motives and actions can simply not be shaken from your mind. Weaver is truly a force of nature.

Honorable Mentions:

Okay, there will be a lot, so prepare yourselves. In "Black Swan", Mila Kunis slides effortlessly in and out of each of her scenes, with a natural ease that is unmatchable, while Barbara Hershey is a frighteningly powerful and even sympathetic force onscreen; Rebecca Hall is just the right amount of pathetic and loveable in "Please Give"; Kirsten Dunst single handedly saves "All Good Things" with a devastating and truly emotive performance (cast her NOW!). Dianne Wiest is fantastic as embodied grief in "Rabbit Hole"; Kerry Washington gives a wonderful, and perhaps the most interesting, performance in "Mother and Child", even when her character's being a total bitch; Marion Cotillard provides the complete heart and soul of "Inception" and her Mal is a fascinating force of primal emotion; Melanie Laurent's role in "The Concert" may be small but she does so much with it; I wasn't much a fan of "City Island" but Emily Mortimer is joyously cute and yet perfectly complicated; I thought Melissa Leo's performance in "The Fighter" was kind of all surface no substance but my oh my, what a surface it was.

Almost Made It:

Kristen Stewart in "The Runaways", Lucy Punch in "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger", Tammy Blanchard in "Rabbit Hole", Helena Bonham Carter in "Alice in Wonderland", Anna Kendrick in "Scott Pilgrim VS The World", Ann Guilbert in "Please Give"

Wow, so many ladies to mention I just couldn't stop myself. In case I haven't covered someone, who were your favorites? You know the drill, comments below! :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Golden Cornea Awards 2011: The Supporting Actors

Gosh, this was tough. I kept rearranging and rearranging - needless to say it was a good year. My honorable mentions might have found their way into my top 5 on any other day, it was just so competitive.

5. Andrew Garfield - "The Social Network"


As the heart of the film, Garfield is a revelation. He gives Eduardo so much charisma and heart, but he's not afraid to bring out the flaws in his character as well. He's sympathetic but not pathetic, and that's Garfield's greatest achievement.


4. John Hawkes - "Winter's Bone"



Hawkes is frighteningly good as Teardrop in "Winter's Bone". There is no Hawkes, there is only Teardrop and he is a force of nature without ever stealing the spotlight from Jennifer Lawrence. The amount of expression in his eyes is breathtaking.


3. Won Bin - "Mother"



As Mother's criminally accused son, Won Bin is perfect at being slightly off, yet still so sympathetic. Do-Joon is definitely hiding something but Bin keeps us guessing until the very end. A surprising and memorable performance.


2. Mark Ruffalo - "The Kids Are All Right"


It's really quite remarkable, what Mark Ruffalo did in "Kids". Ruffalo effortlessly turns Paul into such a complex character - he's the definition of a man child, and yet he's not immature. His arc is absolutely perfect and his chemistry with every member of the cast is such a joy to watch.


1. Geoffrey Rush - "The King's Speech"


I was truly awed by Rush's fantastic work in "Speech". Rush is usually known for being crazily over the top but as Lionel Logue, he's remarkably subtle. His audition scene near the beginning of the movie is simply brilliant and it defines his character - a man who has to help others in order to help himself. Remarkable.


Honorable Mentions:

Oh, how it kills me to not be able to mention these guys! Kieran Culkin is hilarious and yet, so sensitive in "Scott Pilgrim"; Samuel L. Jackson gives an uncharacteristically emotive and human performance in "Mother and Child"; Matt Damon is so funny, but also so endearing in "True Grit"; Michael Shannon is so full of sleazy, over-the-top goodness in "The Runaways".

Just Missed It:

Mark Webber in "Scott Pilgrim", Vincent Cassell in "Black Swan", Luke Ford in "Animal Kingdom"

What are your thoughts on this category? It was a fantastic year for supporting men, eh? Comments are welcome as always! :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Best Score Ranking: 2010

Here's my personal ranking of this year's crop of Best Score nominees. For those of you who want to read more about these scores and what I thought of them (albeit, in a much more objective light) you can check out my post for LAMB Devours the Oscars!

5. 127 Hours - A.R. Rahman


I really think the score enhances the film though if you compare it to the others, it just seems a bit amateurish. Rahman is forced to be more traditional and unfortunately it doesn't quite work as well as "Slumdog Millionaire".



4. Inception - Hans Zimmer

Oh, Hans. I've said it before, Hans Zimmer can only write loudly and unfortunately it begins to get tiresome. I also wasn't a big fan of the movie itself. However, his style works well for "Inception", and for the most part it's a very successful score that creates a mood. It's also very important to consider that it has become really iconic since the film's release.


3. The King's Speech - Alexandre Desplat

Alexandre Desplat is never bad - this is certainly lesser work but it's still quite lovely and so, so effective. I love Desplat's orchestration...the instruments are so beautifully mixed and mingled and the tender sound is so lovable. It's not his best work, not even his best from the year but it's still amazing how unique it is.


2. How to Train Your Dragon - John Powell


In my opinion, Powell's score is the best part of HTTYD, which as you all may know, I majorly loved. The sweeping epic strings are traditional but beautiful. Powell has a lot of great moments to work with and be flashy, and his tender and fun score makes the movie soar.


1. The Social Network - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross


Okay, I love this score. I'd call the "Hand Covers Bruise" theme the best opening movie theme since, like, "Lord of the Rings" or "Harry Potter". Every single piece of this score is just so, so effective and not only that, but it stands alone marvelously. A unique, fantastic masterpiece.


Should Have Been Nominated: Honestly, from the eligible scores, I think this was the best possible lineup (I haven't seen "The Ghost Writer"), except the snub for Rabbit Hole (Anton Sanko). Ineligible scores that I personally love include I Am Love (John Adams), True Grit (Carter Burwell), Black Swan (Clint Mansell) and Scott Pilgrim VS the World (Nigel Godrich).


What were your favorite scores of the year? Sound off below!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Golden Cornea Awards 2011: The Ensembles

There's nothing like a great cast to make a movie wonderful. This year was full of fantastic feats of ensemble acting, so without further ado, my favorites from 2010.

5. The Concert

Though the advertising campaign will have you believe that this movie is all about Melanie Laurent, tis not the case - though she's lovely in her small role, it's the rest of the cast that breathes such a whimsical life into the film. Be it the goofy Valeri Barinov as the Communist sympathizing manager or the entire crowd of gypsy musicians this wonderful group had a lot of fun, and thus, so did the audience.

4. Mother and Child

The script may have been a bit contrived but thanks to the wonderful performances by the whole cast, "Mother and Child" excels. Bening, Watts and Washington make for great leads but Samuel L. Jackson, Shareeka Epps and Cherry Jones, along with the rest of the supporting players, all give their parts so much more depth than expected.

3. Please Give


This cast of droll and almost unanimously unlikable characters could have been ridiculous or grating. Intsead, Keener, Hall, Platt, Peet, Guilbert and Steele are funny, lovable and work off of each other so remarkably well.

2. The Social Network


Sorkin's dialogue is brilliant, yes, but without the fantastic delivery by every member of the cast, there would not have been the fireworks that there were. And not only do Eisenberg and Garfield do well, but so do the smaller players - Timberlake is surprisingly good, Jones and Song make the most out of their small roles, Hammer is fantastic and Mara is a raw emotional turning point. Simply marvelous.

1. Scott Pilgrim VS The World


Well of COURSE! There's just too much brilliance in every moment of every scene thanks to this amazing cast to be written down in words. I could easily write a paragraph about how great every member of the cast is - Cera, Winstead, Kulkin, Wong, Pill, Plaza, Kendrick, Larson, Whitman...ahhhh. This cast is teh epic.

Honorable Mentions: I do think that Jacki Weaver unabashedly steals the show in Animal Kingdom but the rest of the cast is really quite fantastic as well; Dogtooth's ensemble is marvelous at being both creepy yet surprisingly sympathetic; Winter's Bone is a great spotlight for Jennifer Lawrence but the supporting players hold up remarkably; Greenberg's main trio of Stiller, Gerwig and Ifans is great and it's supported well; Black Swan belongs to Portman but her costars surround her brilliantly; The Fighter is an ensemble piece at its best and those sisters are irresistible!

This was a tough one! What were your favorite ensembles this year?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Golden Cornea Awards 2011: The Art Direction

To finish out the technical categories, I bring you the art direction.

5. David Stein - "Black Swan"

Goodness, is there any single set more brilliantly designed than the Sayers's apartment? It's so claustrophobic, sickeningly pink and uneasily scary. The more subtle designs, such as the ballet company and those stairwells, are subtly marvelous as well but that apartment is just...amazing.

4. Dante Ferretti - "Shutter Island"

Designing a mental institution must be such a fun assignment for any art director. "Shutter Island"'s castle is epic and frightening, but the smaller sets work too - don't those prisons just feel endless? - and even the interiors are gaudy and brilliant.

3. Elli Papageorgakopoulou - "Dogtooth"

Wow, what a name. Anyway! It's one location for almost the entire film, but what a perfect location it is. The walls are just a bit too white, the grass is just slightly too green, the ceiling just a little bit too high - everything is "perfect", yet at the same time, so frighteningly off. It's just a regular house, but there's a marvelous unease.

2. Nadine Herrmann - "I Am Love"

Those lush country vineyards, those spiraling staircases and those lush mansions...every single set piece in this film is a beauty as intricate and carefully designed as the costumes. It's just another piece of Guadagnino's marvelous aesthetic.

1. Eve Stewart and Judy Farr - "The King's Speech"

Yes, I went for the predictable choice - but it is deserving. Everyone keeps mentioning "the wall" in Logue's office and it totally deserves to be mentioned. In fact, that and the rest of the sets in the film are all so wonderful and interesting it's impossible to look away.

Honorable Mentions: Scott Pilgrim Vs the World's art direction gracefully captured the spirit of its characters, especially in that Chaos Theatre; I'm not sure if it counts as "art direction" but Summer Wars was such a visual feast that I had to mention it somewhere; True Grit's old-west landscapes are so, so solid; I didn't love Inception but it definitely deserves praise in the art direction department.

What were the most well designed films in your opinion? Comment!