44 Days of Paranoia #27: The Lives of Others (dir by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)

For our latest entry in the 44 Days of Paranoia, let’s take a look at a German film from 2006, the Academy Award-winning The Lives of Others.

The Lives of Others takes place in 1984.  Germany is split between the capitalist West and the communist East.  The government of East Germany maintains its power by strictly controlling the flow of information and keeping its citizens in perpetual fear of the secret police, the Stasi.

Georg Dreyman (played by Sebastian Koch) is a successful and internationally renowned playwright, as well as being the lover of actress Christa-Maria (Martina Gedeck).  Cultural minister Hempf (Thomas Thieme) is himself obsessed with Christa-Maria and, eager to get Dreyman out of the way, he orders the Stasi to put the playwright under surveillance.

Ambitious Stasi officer Anton Grubitz (Ulrich Tukur) is eager to pursue the assignment, seeing it as an opportunity to further his own career.  However, the officer that Grubitz assigns to bug Dreyman’s apartment, Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Muhe), is less enthusiastic about investigating someone who appears to be a loyal communist.  As Wiesler secretly gets to know both Dreyman and Christa, he finds himself becoming more and more disillusioned with the government that he has sworn to serve.

When Dreyman does finally decide to challenge the government (by writing an anonymous article on the high suicide rate in East Germany), Wiesler finds himself forced to decide whether to turn Dreyman in or to try to protect him.

Much like The Conversation, The Lives of Others is one of the best films ever mare about surveillance.  Along with portraying, in very convincing detail, the drabness of living in a society where all thought is policed, The Lives of Others is also a portrait of people for whom a state of paranoia and fear has become the norm.  The Lives Of Others may be set in the past but, considering what we now know about NSA spying, the film feels less like a history lesson and more like a very relevant statement about where we might be heading to in the future.

Other Entries In The 44 Days of Paranoia 

  1. Clonus
  2. Executive Action
  3. Winter Kills
  4. Interview With The Assassin
  5. The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald
  6. JFK
  7. Beyond The Doors
  8. Three Days of the Condor
  9. They Saved Hitler’s Brain
  10. The Intruder
  11. Police, Adjective
  12. Burn After Reading
  13. Quiz Show
  14. Flying Blind
  15. God Told Me To
  16. Wag the Dog
  17. Cheaters
  18. Scream and Scream Again
  19. Capricorn One
  20. Seven Days In May
  21. Broken City
  22. Suddenly
  23. Pickup on South Street
  24. The Informer
  25. Chinatown
  26. Compliance

Ghosts of Christmas Past #17: Sabrina, The Teenage Witch 2.12 “Sabrina Claus”

In today’s Ghost of Christmas Past, Sabrina the Teenage Witch develops a case of egotitis so her aunts call upon a special person named Bob to help her with her problem.  While spending the day with Bob, Sabrina discovers that Bob is better known as Santa Claus.  When Bob is injured, it’s up to one teenage witch to save Christmas…

I used to love Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.  Some of that was because I always wanted to be able to make things happen just by pointing her finger and saying something cute, just like Sabrina!  However, most of it was because Sabrina had a talking cat.

This episode originally aired on December 19th, 1997.

Dance Scenes That I Love: It’s A Wonderful Life

So, this year, the toadsuckers at NBC (the same people who put Whitney on the air and who fired Dan Harmon from Community) decided to bump the annual showing of It’s A Wonderful Life on December 14th so that they could re-air the Carrie Underwood version of The Sound of Music.

Really, NBC?  The remake of The Sound of Music may have gotten great rating when it first aired but it wasn’t that good.  In fact, it was downright annoying at times.  Meanwhile, nearly 70 years after it was first released, It’s A Wonderful Life remains a classic.

With that in mind, here’s one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies.  And yes, it is a dance scene.

NBC will air It’s A Wonderful Life on December 20th.

And here are The London Critics’ Circle Film Nominations

The nominees for the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards were announced today.  You can find the major nominees below.  A complete list of all the nominees can be found by clicking here.

For obvious reasons, the London Critics’ Circle aren’t considered to be any sort of Oscar precursor.  (For instance, London Best Actor nominee Michael Douglas is ineligible for Academy consideration because, here in the States, Behind the Candelabra premiered on HBO.)  However, I’m sharing them here because 1) I love awards! and 2) they nominated three of my favorite films of 2013 — Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Blue Jasmine, and Frances Ha.

Blue Is the Warmest Colour
Blue Jasmine
Frances Ha
The Great Beauty
Inside Llewyn Davis
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity
Paul Greengrass – Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave
Paolo Sorrentino – The Great Beauty
Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

Bruce Dern – Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
Michael Douglas – Behind the Candelabra
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips

Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Judi Dench – Philomena
Adèle Exarchopoulos – Blue Is the Warmest Colour
Greta Gerwig – Frances Ha

Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini – Enough Said
Tom Hanks – Saving Mr Banks
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Naomie Harris – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
June Squibb – Nebraska

Here Are The Critics’ Choice Award Nominees!

Yesterday, The Broadcast Film Critics Association announced their nominees for the best of 2013.  You can find the major categories below.  For a complete list of nominees, click here.

In the past, the BFCA awards have been one of the more reliable of the Oscars precursors.  I just like them because they nominate so many films and actors and you know how I am about lists.

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Inside Llewyn Davis
Saving Mr. Banks
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
Paul Greengrass – Captain Phillips
Spike Jonze – Her
Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell – American Hustle
Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

Christian Bale – American Hustle
Bruce Dern – Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford – All Is Lost

Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Judi Dench – Philomena
Brie Larson – Short Term 12
Meryl Streep – August: Osage County
Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks

Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl – Rush
Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini – Enough Said
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Scarlett Johansson – Her
Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts – August: Osage County
June Squibb – Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey – Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Eric Singer and David O. Russell – American Hustle
Woody Allen – Blue Jasmine
Spike Jonze – Her
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis
Bob Nelson – Nebraska<

Tracy Letts – August: Osage County
Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke – Before Midnight
Billy Ray – Captain Phillips
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope – Philomena
John Ridley – 12 Years a Slave
Terence Winter – The Wolf of Wall Street

The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Monsters University
The Wind Rises

Blue Is the Warmest Color
The Great Beauty
The Hunt
The Past

The Act of Killing
Stories We Tell
Tim’s Vermeer
20 Feet from Stardom

Asa Butterfield – Ender’s Game
Adele Exarchopoulos – Blue Is the Warmest Color
Liam James – The Way Way Back
Sophie Nelisse – The Book Thief
Tye Sheridan – Mud

American Hustle
August: Osage County
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Iron Man 3
Lone Survivor
Star Trek into Darkness

Henry Cavill – Man of Steel
Robert Downey Jr. – Iron Man 3
Brad Pitt – World War Z
Mark Wahlberg – Lone Survivor

Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Evangeline Lilly – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Gwyneth Paltrow – Iron Man 3

American Hustle
Enough Said
The Heat
This Is the End
The Way Way Back
The World’s End

Christian Bale – American Hustle
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
James Gandolfini – Enough Said
Simon Pegg – The World’s End
Sam Rockwell – The Way Way Back

Amy Adams – American Hustle
Sandra Bullock – The Heat
Greta Gerwig – Frances Ha
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Enough Said
Melissa McCarthy – The Heat

The Conjuring
Star Trek into Darkness
World War Z

Here Are The 75 Songs Eligible To Be Nominated For Best Original Song

Earlier today, the Academy released the list of the 75 song that have been deemed eligible to be nominated for Best Original Song.  Missing from the list?  “Please Mr. Kennedy,” the acclaimed and Golden Globe-nominated song from Inside Llewyn Davis.

Here’s the full list of eligible songs:

“Amen” from “All Is Lost”
“Alone Yet Not Alone” from “Alone Yet Not Alone”
“Doby” from “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”
“Last Mile Home” from “August: Osage County”
“Austenland” from “Austenland”
“Comic Books” from “Austenland”
“L.O.V.E.D.A.R.C.Y” from “Austenland”
“What Up” from “Austenland”
“He Loves Me Still” from “Black Nativity”
“Hush Child (Get You Through This Silent Night)” from “Black Nativity”
“Test Of Faith” from “Black Nativity”
“Forgiveness” from “Brave Miss World”
“Lullaby Song” from “Cleaver’s Destiny”

“Shine Your Way” from “The Croods”

“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2”

“Gonna Be Alright” from “Epic”
“Rise Up” from “Epic”
“What Matters Most” from “Escape from Planet Earth”
“Bones” from “For No Good Reason”
“Going Nowhere” from “For No Good Reason”
“Gonzo” from “For No Good Reason”
“The Courage To Believe” from “Free China: The Courage to Believe”
“Let It Go” from “Frozen”
“100$ Bill” from “The Great Gatsby”
“A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)” from “The Great Gatsby”
“Over The Love” from “The Great Gatsby”
“Together” from “The Great Gatsby”
“Young and Beautiful” from “The Great Gatsby”
“The Moon Song” from “Her”
“I See Fire” from “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
“Bite Of Our Lives” from “How Sweet It Is”
“Try” from”How Sweet It Is”
“Atlas” from “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
“Better You, Better Me” from “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete”
“Bring It On” from “Jewtopia”
“Aygiri Nadani” from “Kamasutra 3D”
“Har Har Mahadeva” from “Kamasutra 3D”
“I Felt” from “Kamasutra 3D”
“Of The Soil” from “Kamasutra 3D”
“Sawariya” from “Kamasutra 3D”
“In The Middle Of The Night” from “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
“You And I Ain’t Nothin’ No More” from “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
“Let’s Take A Trip” from “Live at the Foxes Den”
“Pour Me Another Dream” from “Live at the Foxes Den”
“The Time Of My Life” from “Live at the Foxes Den”
“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
“Monsters University” from “Monsters University”
“When The Darkness Comes” from “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”
“Sacrifice (I Am Here)” from “Murph: The Protector”
“The Muslims Are Coming” from “The Muslims Are Coming!”
“Oblivion” from “Oblivion”
“Sweeter Than Fiction” from “One Chance”
“Nothing Can Stop Me Now” from “Planes”
“We Both Know” from “Safe Haven”
“Get Used To Me” from “The Sapphires”
“Stay Alive” from “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”
“So You Know What It’s Like” from “Short Term 12”
“There’s No Black Or White” from “Somm”
“Cut Me Some Slack” from “Sound City”
“You Can’t Fix This” from “Sound City”
“Let It Go” from “Spark: A Burning Man Story”
“We Ride” from “Spark: A Burning Man Story”
“Becomes The Color” from “Stoker”
“Younger Every Day” from “3 Geezers!”
“Here It Comes” from “Trance”
“Let The Bass Go” from “Turbo”
“The Snail Is Fast” from “Turbo”
“Speedin'” from “Turbo”
“My Lord Sunshine (Sunrise)” from “12 Years a Slave”
“Make It Love” from “Two: The Story of Roman & Nyro”
“One Life” from “The Ultimate Life”
“Unfinished Songs” from “Unfinished Song”
“For The Time Being” from “The Way, Way Back”
“Go Where The Love Is” from “The Way, Way Back”
“Bleed For Love” from “Winnie Mandela”

Here Are The Semi-Finalists for the Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar

On December 14th, the Motion Picture Academy announced the 7 semi-finalists for this year’s Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.  Surprisingly, neither The Hobbit nor 12 Years A Slave made the cut.

Here’s what did:

American Hustle

Dallas Buyers Club

The Great Gatsby

Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa

The Lone Ranger

That’s right, everyone — Bad Grandpa is one step closer to being immortalized as an Oscar nominee.

The final 3 nominees will be announced on January 16th.