Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oscar nominations overview

Few surprises were revealed yesterday when nominations for the 83rd annual Academy Awards were announced. Still, there’s a lot of good quality films that shared in the nominations, with “The King’s Speech” leading the way with 12 nods, followed by “True Grit,” with 10. While there is some carry over in nominations from the Golden Globes and the Oscars, just to highlight their difference, “True Grit” didn’t pick up a single nomination at the Globes.
Here’s some of the nominees in the major categories of the awards show, set for Feb. 27 on ABC:
Best Picture
“127 Hours”
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“The Kids Are All Right”
“The King’s Speech”
“The Social Network”
“Toy Story 3”
“True Grit”
“Winter’s Bone”
A strong field of films fills this category, which was expanded to 10 nominees last year. The only surprise for some prognosticators (which shouldn’t be a surprise at all) would be the inclusion of the great, low-budget indie, “Winter’s Bone.”

Best Actress
Annette Bening - “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman - “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence - “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman - “Black Swan”
Michelle Williams - “Blue Valentine”
All five of these actresses got Golden Globe nominations, with Bening and Portman winning in separate categories at the awards show. Both are seeking their first Oscar. Actually, Kidman is the only one to have received one previously.

Best Actor
Javier Bardem - “Biutiful”
Jeff Bridges - “True Grit”
Jesse Eisenberg - “The Social Network”
Colin Firth - “The King’s Speech”
James Franco - “127 Hours”
Bridges and Firth were both nominated in this category last year, with Bridges taking home his first Oscar for “Crazy Heart.” But Firth is the one who’s been picking up a ton of awards this season.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams - “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter - “The King’s Speech”
Melissa Leo - “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld - “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver - “Animal Kingdom”
Somebody here will be taking home their first Oscar in what is typically a highly competitive category.

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale - “The Fighter”
John Hawkes - “Winter’s Bone”
Jeremy Renner - “The Town”
Mark Ruffalo - “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush - “The King’s Speech”
This category is often the most competitive, with various upsets over the years, including nominations. Hawkes getting a nomination here speaks to the popularity of “Winter’s Bone” with the Academy, which would seem to have squeezed out Andrew Garfield of “The Social Network.”

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky - “Black Swan”
Joel and Ethan Coen - “True Grit”
David Fincher - “The Social Network”
Tom Hooper - “The King’s Speech”
David O. Russell - “The Fighter”
It seemed the bigger news after the nominations were announced was who wasn’t in this category, namely Christopher Nolan (“Inception”). Presumably, the Coens would have taken a nod away from him, not that the Oscar-winning brothers are any kind of slouch themselves.

Best Original Screenplay
Mike Leigh - “Another Year”
Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson and Keith Dorrington - “The Fighter”
Christopher Nolan - “Inception”
Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko - “The Kids Are All Right”
David Seidler - “The King’s Speech”
With Nolan missing out in the directing category, this might be a chance for him to get some love from the Academy.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Simon Beaufoy, Danny Boyle - “127 Hours”
Aaron Sorkin - “The Social Network”
Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich - “Toy Story 3”
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen - “True Grit”
Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini - “Winter’s Bone”
Sorkin has been cleaning up during the awards season, but could an upset be possible here with other nominees having won writing Oscars before?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Golden Globes wrap-up

Few, if any, surprises emerged from Sunday’s Golden Globes broadcast – unless you count the television categories, as several perceived upsets occurred. But I’ll just be covering the movies side of the award show, so below is a recap of the main categories of the night. As for the broadcast itself, it was fairly entertaining, with host Ricky Gervais showing an utter fearlessness at skewering Hollywood and various celebrities – both in attendance and not. To be honest, not all of the jokes were very funny, while others were mean-spirited (and I’m a Gervais fan), but at least he wasn’t boring. Still, I’m imagining he won’t be back for a third go-around at the awards show next year. Not that he’d probably want to anyway.

Best Motion Picture - Drama
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“The King’s Speech”
“The Social Network” - Winner
With its win in the final award presented for the night, “The Social Network” would appear to be the favorite for Oscar’s top prize. Still, momentum is fleeting in Hollywood, so time will tell if it has legs to the Academy Awards broadcast at the end of next month.

Best Actress - Drama
Halle Berry - “Frankie and Alice”
Nicole Kidman - “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence - “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman - “Black Swan” - Winner
Michelle Williams - “Blue Valentine”
No surprise here, as Portman takes home the award in a deep and impressive field.

Best Actor - Drama
Jesse Eisenberg - “The Social Network”
Colin Firth - “The King’s Speech” - Winner
James Franco - “127 Hours”
Ryan Gosling - “Blue Valentine”
Mark Wahlberg - “The Fighter”
As expected, Firth got the Globe in another strong acting field. He’s been winning consistently this awards season, with obviously one big one still to come – making the safe assumption that he will be nominated for an Oscar.

Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical
“Alice in Wonderland”
“The Kids Are All Right” - Winner
“The Tourist”
Another easy choice for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, “The Kids Are All Right” has been loved by critics and Oscar nominations should come soon.

Best Actress - Comedy or Musical
Annette Bening - “The Kids Are All Right” - Winner
Anne Hathaway - “Love and Other Drugs”
Angelina Jolie - “The Tourist”
Julianne Moore - “The Kids Are All Right”
Emma Stone - “Easy A”
Speaking of “Kids,” Bening took home the film’s second Golden Globe of the night, beating out Moore, her co-star, among others.

Best Actor - Comedy or Musical
Johnny Depp - “Alice in Wonderland”
Johnny Depp - “The Tourist”
Paul Giamatti - “Barney’s Version” - Winner
Jake Gyllenhaal - “Love and Other Drugs”
Kevin Spacey - “Casino Jack”
Perhaps the only surprise in the movie portion of the awards show, Giamatti beat out HFPA favorite Depp twice in the same category, in the little-seen “Barney’s Version.” Still, this win translating into an Oscar nomination for Giamatti would be a substantial shocker.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams - “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter - “The King’s Speech”
Mila Kunis - “Black Swan”
Melissa Leo - “The Fighter” - Winner
Jacki Weaver - “Animal Kingdom”
In another category of co-stars competing against each other, Leo was victorious for her role as a domineering mother/manager of her boxing son in “The Fighter.”

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale - “The Fighter” - Winner
Michael Douglas - “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”
Andrew Garfield - “The Social Network”
Jeremy Renner - “The Town”
Geoffrey Rush - “The King’s Speech”
Bale brought home another acting win for “The Fighter” in what was a very competitive field. The same should be likely for the Oscars, with the British actor looking like a front-runner – again, assuming he’s nominated.

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky - “Black Swan”
David Fincher - “The Social Network” - Winner
Tom Hooper - “The King’s Speech”
Christopher Nolan - “Inception”
David O. Russell - “The Fighter”
The shutout for “Inception” continued in this category with Fincher receiving the award for his work on “The Social Network.”

Best Screenplay
Simon Beaufoy, Danny Boyle - “127 Hours”
Christopher Nolan - “Inception”
Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko - “The Kids Are All Right”
David Seidler - “The King’s Speech”
Aaron Sorkin - “The Social Network” - Winner
This seemed like the best category for “Inception” to get an award, but Sorkin’s highly-praised screenplay earned him the Golden Globe. All told, “The Social Network” grabbed four awards at the show, making it the biggest winner for the evening.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Winter movie preview (January 2011)

After the big Oscar push by Hollywood in the last couple of months of the year, January can often seem anticlimactic when it comes to the release schedule. But there are usually at least a couple films that have breakout hit potential during the month. But the number of releases certainly are scaled back.

“Season of the Witch”
Starring Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore, Claire Foy and Christopher Lee
Directed by Dominic Sena

The ever-busy Nicolas Cage heads up the cast of a 14th century-set film in which he plays a Crusader returning to his homeland, which has been devastated by the Black Plague. He is given the task of taking a suspected witch to a monastery, with the hopes that the monks there can bring an end to the plague. Well, the subject matter certainly isn’t going to get audiences rushing to theaters. (Jan. 7)

“The Green Hornet”
Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Edward James Olmos, David Harbour and Tom Wilkinson
Directed by Michel Gondry

Sony Pictures would love nothing more than to have a new franchise launched with this adaptation of what started as a radio program in the 1930s. Seth Rogen stars as Britt Reid, a bit of a ne’er-do-well, until his father’s murder leads him into newfound responsibilities and a superhero alter-ego. The cast and director, Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) holds promise, but its release date being moved to mid-January is a bit troubling. (Jan. 14)

“The Dilemma”
Starring Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Channing Tatum and Queen Latifah
Directed by Ron Howard

It’s surprisingly been more than a decade since director Ron Howard’s last comedy (“How the Grinch Stole Christmas”), but he’s certainly shown a knack for the genre in previous efforts (such as “Parenthood”). Stars Vaughn and James are also quite familiar with comedies, playing Ronny and Nick, a pair of best friends and business partners. That relationship gets put to the test when Ronny (Vaughn) finds out Nick’s wife (Winona Ryder) is cheating on him, putting him in the unenviable spot of determining when, or if, he should say something. This is another of those films that seems odd to have missed out on the holiday movie season, especially when considering Howard and Vaughn were two of the film’s producers. (Jan. 14)

“The Company Men”
Starring Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Maria Bello, Rosemarie Dewitt, Craig T. Nelson
Directed by John Wells

A hotshot business executive (Ben Affleck) is taken by surprise when he’s swept up in a round of cuts at work, and struggles to find employment elsewhere. Writer/director John Wells is making his directing debut with this timely tale of corporate downsizing, featuring an all-star cast. The Weinstein Company picked up the movie after its debut at the Sundance film festival last January, but hasn’t been able to settle on a release date until now. Maybe. (Jan. 21)

“No Strings Attached”
Starring Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Cary Elwes and Kevin Kline
Directed by Ivan Reitman

Coming off her success of “Black Swan,” it seems surprising to see Natalie Portman in what would seem to be, at least at first glance, such a conventional romantic comedy. She and Ashton Kutcher (who is in danger of being trapped in this genre) play casual friends who aim to keep their relationship purely physical. Take a wild guess at what likely happens next? (Jan. 21)

“The Mechanic”
Starring Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, Tony Goldwyn, James Logan, Mini Anden, Jeff Chase, Christa Campbell
Directed by Simon West

A coolly calculated assassin (Jason Statham) finds himself on a mission for vengeance when his friend and mentor is murdered. He’s joined on the journey by his mentor’s son (Ben Foster), who seeks to learn some killing skills of his own. The film is a remake of a 1972 Charles Bronson action flick, and can hopefully bring something original to what is a rather warmed over plot. Statham is certainly no stranger to this kind of part, as he seems to portray an assassin in every other movie he does. (Jan. 28)

“The Rite”
Starring Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue, Alice Braga, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones
Directed by Mikael Hafstrom

In this supernatural thriller, a young seminary student (Colin O’Donoghue) is asked to attend an exorcism school at the Vatican. Naturally, demonic forces are awaiting him, along with an unorthodox priest (Anthony Perkins). Supposedly inspired by actual events, Mikael Hafstrom (“1408”) directs what could be a sleeper hit or maybe just a sleeper. (Jan. 28)