Song of the Day: How You Like Me Now? (Performed by The Heavy)


Today has not been a good day to be an asthmatic.  Along with a high temperature in the triple digits, the air is full of all sorts of evil things that all seem to serve little purpose beyond inspiring me to reach for my inhaler. 

On a miserable day like this, it only seems appropriate to make one of my favorite songs of all time the song of the day.

Ever since I first heard it used in a commercial featuring a Sock Monkey taking a road trip to Las Vegas with his friends, the robot and the weird red thing, I have been in love with the song How You Like Me Now?  As performed by the British band The Heavy, How You Like Me Now is one of those songs that always makes me smile.  The easiest way to get me excited about seeing a film is to include this song in the film’s ad campaign.  Perhaps that explains why it’s shown up in trailers for everything from Faster to the Change-Up to the upcoming Ted.

For me, David O. Russell made perfect use of this song in his Oscar-nominated film The Fighter.  Who can forget the sight of Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg strutting through the streets of Lowell while this song played on the soundtrack?  It was an iconic scene, featuring an iconic song and I loved it.

What Lisa Watched Last Night: The 83rd Annual Academy Awards


Last night, I watched the 83rd Annual Academy Awards.

Why Was I Watching It?

Why was I watching it?  I was watching it because I love awards shows.  I love them in all of their tacky, silly glory.  I was watching for the clothes, the celebrity meltdowns, and the infamous acceptance speeches.  I was watching because James Franco is hot and Anne Hathaway is adorable.  I was watching because I loved Black Swan and I was only mildly impressed with the Social Network.  I was watching because, as a film lover, my year starts and ends with the Oscar ceremony.  You boys have got your super bowl.  I’ve got my Academy Awards.

What Was It About

This year, the big question was would best picture be taken by the Social Network or by the King’s SpeechI predicted that the Social Network would win and I was wrong.  The Academy gave best picture to The King’s Speech which, unlike Black Swan (my personal choice for best picture), is a film that is very easy to love.  Don’t get me wrong.  I loved The King’s Speech and, seeing as how I wasn’t exactly a huge fan of The Social Network, I can’t complain about the Academy’s decision (though apparently almost everyone else can).

By the way, as far as my Oscar predictions went, I ended up going 15 for 22.  I correctly predicted all of the categories except for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, and Best Cinematography.  So, in other words, I correctly predicted all of the awards except for the ones that actually mattered.  However, I am proud to say that, as the broadcast started, I predicted that it would last for 3 hours and 15 minutes and by God, I was right.

So there.

What Worked

Roger Ebert called last night’s ceremony the worst he had ever seen so I guess it’s no surprise that I actually enjoyed it.  I certainly felt it was an improvement over last year’s ceremony which was pretty boring except for when Kathryn Bigelow won best director.  There weren’t any endless tributes, self-congratulatory speeches about how important the film industry is for the survival of the world, and we didn’t have to sit through any pre-scripted, awkward banter between poorly matched presenters. 

As for the hosts, James Franco appeared to have mentally checked out before the show actually started but he was nice to look at.  Anne Hathaway, meanwhile, was a bundle of nervous energy and you know what?  I would have been too.  For the first time in my history of watching the Oscars, I could actually relate on a personal level to what was happening on the stage.  I’ll take the charming awkwardness of Franco and Hathaway over Hugh Jackman any day.  Ebert disagrees.  He apparently tweeted that Kevin Spacey should host.  And, if I ever felt like spending three and a half hours watching some smug jackass singing Under the Sea, I’d agree with him.

I liked the opening film montage, which featured Hathaway and Franco going into Alec Baldwin’s dreams in order to learn how to host the show.  If nothing else, it paid tribute to just how much of a cultural phenomenon Inception actually was last year.  (At the same time, it also pointed out just how ludicrous it is that Christopher Nolan — who is hot along with being a genius, by the way — was not nominated for best director.)

Probably my favorite presenters were Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake.  Kunis looked great and Timberlake won my heart all over again by announcing that he was actually Banksy.

The In Memoriam Tribute was actually pretty touching this year and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the audience has finally figured out how inappropriate it is to break out into applause in the middle of it.  A lot of viewers were apparently angered that Corey Haim wasn’t included.  Personally, I was disappointed (but not surprised) to see that Jean Rollin was left out.

For me, the best acceptance speech came from David Seidler as he accepted his Oscar for writing The King’s Speech.  His speech touched me as a former stutterer but on top of that, he delivered it with just the right amount of humility and humor.  Aaron Sorkin could learn a thing or two from Mr. Seidler.

Finally, I said earlier that I was hoping for just one upset win to keep things interesting and, to my surprise, the show provided me one when Tom Hooper beat David Fincher for best director.  Even among those who expected the King’s Speech to take best picture, the general assumption seemed to be that Fincher would win best director.  Personally, I think Fincher would have won best director except for the fact that people tended to think of The Social Network as being an Aaron Sorkin film as opposed to a David Fincher film.  In all of the preliminaries leading up the Oscars (the Golden Globes, the critics awards), the emphasis was always put on Sorkin’s screenplay as opposed to Fincher’s direction.  David Fincher was almost treated as an after thought and, as a result, Tom Hooper won best director.

(Of course, personally, I was rooting for Darren Aronofsky.)

Of the nominated films, Black Swan was my favorite, followed by 127 Hours, Inception, Winter’s Bone, and the King’s Speech.  I thought The Social Network was a good film but certainly not a great film and, to be honest, I’ve come to resent being told again and again by various online, self-appointed film gurus that my refusal to unconditionally love The Social Network is somehow an indication of a character defect on my part.  Seriously, some of these Social Network partisans make the Avatar people look tolerant by comparison.  I’m sure these people have spent last night and today ranting their little hearts out about how the Academy sucks and how The Social Network is clearly the greatest film ever made.  And to them, all I can say is get over it.  If you were watching the Academy Awards because you seriously felt that the awards actually mean anything, then you’ve obviously still got a lot of growing up to do.

That said, I make no apologies for being ticked off over the award for Best Feature Documentary but more about that below.

What Didn’t Work

Well, I’ll get the big one out of the way first.  This was the only time I actually got angry while watching last night’s show.  I’m talking, of course, about Inside Job winning best documentary.  This upset me even though I had actually predicted that Inside Job would defeat Exit Through The Gift Shop.  My objection comes down to this — Inside Job was the Capt. Hindsight of documentaries this year.  Inside Job was basically a documentary that told us what we already know and then encouraged us to pat ourselves on the back for agreeing.  In a year that was actually a pretty good one for documentaries, Inside Job was the least challenging of all of the nominees and therefore, I guess it’s not a shock that it won.  Meanwhile, Exit Through The Gift Shop — a film which should have been nominated for best picture — was ignored.

Add to that, I was really hoping for a chance to see how Banksy would accept the award or if he would even show up at all (or if he would turn out to be Justin Timberlake).  Instead, I got the director of Inside Job going, “You know, nobody’s been arrested for the bad economy yet.”  Well, if that’s what you think should happen then go to talk to the people who make and enforce laws.  But you’re on an awards show, buddy.  And if you think anyone watching an awards show is going to take action just because of some comment you weakly muttered during your acceptance speech, then you really are out of touch with reality.

We were reminded one too many times that we were watching “the young and hip Oscars.”  The young and hip Oscars would not have featured Celine Dion singing.

I really wish the Oscars would stop trying to force some artificial “theme” on each year’s ceremony.  This year, they took time to celebrate “the greatest films” of Oscar Past.  The problem, of course, is that most of the greatest films of Oscar past didn’t win best picture.  Usually, they ended up losing to movies like How Green Was My Valley, The Greatest Show on Earth, and Crash.

Aaron Sorkin won best adapted screenplay as we all knew he would and, as usual, he came across as smug and condescending during his acceptance speech.  The whole, “Daddy’s an Oscar winner now…” thing would have been touching if not for the fact that it’s been used at least once at every single Oscar ceremony in history.

Trent Reznor did not say, “I want to fuck you like an animal” while accepting his award for scoring The Social Network.  However, I must say, Trent cleans up well.

Technically, yes, James Franco was not real impressive as co-host.  The general consensus on twitter was that he was stoned but I can’t say too much against him because he’s James Franco.  Even when he showed up in drag, he was still James Franco.  I know some people looked at Franco last night and thought, He’s not even trying.  I looked at Franco and thought, yum…..

“Oh my God!  Just Like Me!” Moments

There were a few and most of them had to do with Anne Hathaway.  Most of the comments on twitter concerning Hathaway’s performance as host were not kind but I don’t care.  I love her and I think her lack of polish was actually rather adorable.  If I was hosting the Oscars, I would probably take a few moments to brag about my dress as well.  I know I’d certainly probably start giggling at random moments.  I also know that I’d probably get a little bit annoyed with James Franco’s lack of commitment to the show as well but you know what?  I’d still get all sorts of naked with him after the show because he’s James Franco and he just does things to me.

(If anything, last night’s show proved that the difference between a hot guy and all other guys is that a hot guy can get away with it.)

My other big “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moment came when Melissa Leo won for best supporting actress for the Fighter and dropped the F-bomb on national TV.  I would so do that too.  I mean, it’s an Oscar!  God knows what I’d end up saying if I ever got one.

Lessons Learned:

I’ve seriously got a thing for James Franco.

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions


The Oscars are tomorrow and I know I’ll be watching it and tweeting about it over on my twitter page.  That’s assuming, of course, that twitter doesn’t go all screwy and spend the entire night putting up that cute little picture of the fail whale.

Anyway, I guess I’m a bit overdue in posting my predictions of what and who will actually win tomorrow.  I guess that’s because this year’s Oscar race looks to be one of the most predictable ever.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like quite a few of the nominees and Black Swan is a contender for my favorite film of all time.  It’s just that this year, the winner’s are so predictable. 

Let’s be honest, we don’t watch the Oscars because we really think that the best film or performer is going to win.  We watch the Oscars for all of the WTF moments and acceptance speech breakdowns.  We watch the Oscars because we want to see something weird happen, like a shocking upset win that leaves us all outraged and shaking our heads.

This year, though, the only suspense seemed to center around the Best Documentary category.  Will Exit Through The Gift Shop win and if it does, will Banksy be there to accept it?  And if he is there, will he wear a monkey mask while accepting it?

Anyway, here’s my list of predictions.  These are the movies and performers that I think will win.  They’re not necessarily who and what I personally would want to win.  (That list can be found here.)

Best Picture: The Social Network

Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network

Best Original Screenplay: The Kids Are All Right

Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3

Best Foreign Language Film: Buitiful

Best Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland

Best Cinematography: True Grit

Best Costume Design: The King’s Speech

Best Documentary Feature: The Inside Job (bleh)

Best Editing: Black Swan

Best Makeup: The Wolf Man

Best Original Score: The Social Network

Best Original Song: “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3

Best Sound Editing: Inception

Best Sound Mixing: Inception

Best Visual Effects: Inception

Top 25 Films of 2010


I’ve been slacking off about getting this particular list down and posted, but with film news being quite slow outside of Oscar-related items I thought it was time to get my lazy ass to get this done. Some of the titles I’ll mention are favorite films of 2010 for me while others only made it onto the list not because I liked or even enjoyed them, but they were just well-executed and made.

A couple of the titles I’ve listed also made their premiere’s in their home country earlier than 2010, but it wasn’t until this past year that they were shown here in the U.S. thus it qualifies as a 2010 for me. For those who have seen the very final title on my list should know that this is one title that I definitely didn’t find entertaining at all, but found it to be as daring and as subversive as another film made decades before it which received similar negative reactions from many: Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo.

  1. Black Swan
  2. True Grit
  3. Inception
  4. Restrepo
  5. Winter’s Bone
  6. The Fighter
  7. The King’s Speech
  8. Kick-Ass
  9. The Last Exorcism
  10. Animal Kingdom
  11. Un prophète
  12. Lebanon
  13. Let Me In
  14. Despicable Me
  15. The Social Network
  16. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  17. Toy Story 3
  18. Waiting for Superman
  19. How To Train Your Dragon
  20. The Town
  21. Mesrine
  22. Mother
  23. Carlos
  24. Blue Valentine
  25. A Serbian Film

Lisa And The Academy Agree To Disagree


The Oscar nominations were announced today and, for the most part, it’s pretty much what you would expect.  Below is the list of nominees.  If a nominee listed in bold print, that means they also appeared on my own personal list of nominations.

Best motion picture of the year

Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

(The Academy and I agree on five of the ten nominees.  That’s actually more than I was expecting.)

Performance by an actor in a leading role

Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
James Franco (127 Hours)

(The only real surprise here is Bardem.  I haven’t seen Biutiful but I’ve heard amazing things about it.)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

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)

(Yay for John Hawkes!  Some people are surprised that Andrew Garfield wasn’t nominated for The Social Network.  I’m disappointed he wasn’t nominated for Never Let Me Go.)

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

(I’m happy to see Lawrence and Portman recognized but I still so wish that the Academy had recongized Noomi Rapace and Katie Jarvis as well.  I knew it wouldn’t happen but still…)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)

(Weaver — Yay!) 

Achievement in directing

Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
David O Russell (The Fighter)
Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech)
David Fincher (The Social Network)
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (True Grit)

(The snubbing of Christopher Nolan for Inception is probably the closest thing to an outrage that the Oscars will produce this year.)

Adapted screenplay

127 Hours – Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network – Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 – Michael Arndt (screenplay); John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich (story)
True Grit – Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Winter’s Bone – Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Original screenplay

Another Year – Mike Leigh
The Fighter – Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson (screenplay); Keith Dorrington, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson (story)
Inception – Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right – Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech – David Seidler

Best animated feature film of the year

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

 (I haven’t seen The Illusionist yet but I’m looking forward to it because the previews look great, it’s based on a script by Jacques Tati, and I love all things French.  Still, I kinda wish that Despicable Me had been nominated just so Arleigh could see the minions at the Academy Awards.)

Best foreign language film of the year

Biutiful (Mexico)
Dogtooth (Greece)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Incendies (Canada)
Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) (Algeria)

Art direction

Alice in Wonderland – Robert Stromberg (production design), Karen O’Hara (set decoration)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – Stuart Craig (production design), Stephenie McMillan (set decoration)
Inception – Guy Hendrix Dyas (production design), Larry Dias and Doug Mowat (set decoration)
The King’s Speech – Eve Stewart (production design), Judy Farr (set decoration)
True Grit – Jess Gonchor (production design), Nancy Haigh (set decoration) 

Achievement in cinematography

Matthew Libatique (Black Swan)
Wally Pfister (Inception)
Danny Cohen (The King’s Speech)
Jeff Cronenweth (The Social Network)
Roger Deakins (True Grit) 

Achievement in costume design

Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland)
Antonella Cannarozzi (I Am Love)
Jenny Beavan (The King’s Speech)
Sandy Powell (The Tempest)
Mary Zophres (True Grit)

(That’s right, I ended up going 0 for 5 as far as Costume Design is concerned.  Which I guess goes to prove that I have better taste than the Academy.)

Best documentary feature

Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy and Jaimie D’Cruz)
Gasland (Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic)
Inside Job (Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs)
Restrepo (Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger)
Waste Land (Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley)

 (If Banksy wins, I’ll be happy.  I have a feeling the award will go to Inside Job, however.  As a documentary, Inside Job reminded me a lot of Capt. Hindsight from the South Park Coon Vs. Coon And Friends trilogy.  Also, I’m a little bit surprised that Waiting for Superman wasn’t nominated.  I’m even more surprised that I actually saw enough feature documentaries last year to even have an opinion.  Also, interesting to note that Restrepo — a very nonpolitical look at military in the mid-east — was nominated while The Tillman Story, a much more heavy-handed and stridently political documentary was not.)

Best documentary short subject

Killing in the Name (Nominees to be determined)
Poster Girl (Nominees to be determined)
Strangers No More (Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon)
Sun Come Up (Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger)
The Warriors of Qiugang (Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon)

(It’s always interesting that nobody knows what these movies are about yet their producers always end up giving the longest speeches at the Oscars.  I’m hoping that Poster Girl wins because the actual producers have yet to be determined.  I imagine that means there might be some sort of legal action going on which means that, if it wins on Oscar night, there might be a big fight at the podium.  Plus, I like the title.  It makes me want to walk up to people I barely know, lean forward, and go, “Can I be your poster girl?”)

Achievement in film editing

Andrew Weisblum (Black Swan)
Pamela Martin (The Fighter)
Tariq Anwar (The King’s Speech)
Jon Harris (127 Hours)
Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter (The Social Network) 

Achievement in makeup

Adrien Morot (Barney’s Version)
Edouard F Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng (The Way Back)
Rick Baker and Dave Elsey (The Wolfman)

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (original score)

John Powell (How to Train Your Dragon)
Hans Zimmer (Inception)
Alexandre Desplat (The King’s Speech)
AR Rahman (127 Hours)
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network)

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (original song)

Coming Home (from Country Strong, music and lyrics by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey)
I See the Light (from Tangled, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater)
If I Rise (from 127 Hours, music by AR Rahman, lyrics by Dido and Rollo Armstrong)
We Belong Together (from Toy Story 3, music and lyrics by Randy Newman)

(I’ll just say it now — 4 nominations and I didn’t agree with a single one of them.  Seriously, they could have nominated up to 5 songs but instead of giving at least one nomination to Burlesque, they just nominated 4 songs.  What a load of crap.)

Best animated short film

Day & Night (Teddy Newton)
The Gruffalo (Jakob Schuh and Max Lang)
Let’s Pollute (Geefwee Boedoe)
The Lost Thing (Nick Batzias, Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann)
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary) (Bastien Dubois)

(I’ve actually seen Day & Night since it was shown before Toy Story 3.  I thought it went on a little bit too long, to be honest.)

Best live action short film

The Confession (Tanel Toom)
The Crush (Michael Creagh)
God of Love (Luke Matheny)
Na Wewe (Ivan Goldschmidt)
Wish 143 (Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite) 

Achievement in sound editing

Inception (Richard King)
Toy Story 3 (Tom Myers and Michael Silvers)
Tron: Legacy (Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague)
True Grit (Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey)
Unstoppable (Mark P Stoeckinger)

Achievement in sound mixing

Inception (Lora Hirschberg, Gary A Rizzo and Ed Novick)
The King’s Speech (Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley)
Salt (Jeffrey J Haboush, Greg P Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin)
The Social Network (Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten)
True Grit (Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F Kurland)

 (I would have probably had more matches in the sound category if I actually knew the difference between sound editing and sound mixing.)

Achievement in visual effects

Alice in Wonderland (Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi)
Hereafter (Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell)
Inception (Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb)
Iron Man 2 (Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick)

So there you go.  I went 50/50 on the Best Picture nominations and — well, it all pretty much went downhill from there, didn’t it?  Oh well.

If Lisa Marie Determined The Oscar Nominees…


With the Oscar nominations due to be announced this week, now seems like a good time to indulge in something I like to call “If Lisa Marie Had All The Power.”  Listed below are my personal Oscar nominations.  Please note that these are not the films that I necessarily think will be nominated.  The fact of the matter is that the majority of them will not.  Instead, these are the films that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for deciding the nominees this year.  Winners are listed in bold.

Best Picture

Animal Kingdom

Black Swan

Exit Through The Gift Shop

Fish Tank

Inception

The King’s Speech

Never Let Me Go

127 Hours

Somewhere

Winter’s Bone

Best Actor

Patrick Fabian in The Last Exorcism

Colin Firth in The King’s Speech

James Franco in 127 Hours

Andy Garcia in City Island

Ben Stiller in Greenberg

Best Actress

Katie Jarvis in Fish Tank

Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone

Natalie Portman in Black Swan

Noomi Rapace in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Emma Stone in Easy A

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale in The Fighter

Aaron Eckhardt in Rabbit Hole

Andrew Garfield in Never Let Me Go

John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone

Ben Mendelsohn in Animal Kingdom



Best Supporting Actress

Elle Fanning in Somewhere

Rebecca Hall in Please Give

Chloe Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass

Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit

Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom

(That’s right, everyone.  It’s a tie between the youngest nominee and the oldest nominee.  Don’t you just love the Oscars?)

Best Director

Andrea Arnold for Fish Tank

Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan

Danny Boyle for 127 Hours

Sofia Coppola for Somewhere

Christopher Nolan for Inception

Best Original Screenplay

Animal Kingdom

Black Swan

Fish Tank

Inception

The King’s Speech

Best Adapted Screenplay

Never Let Me Go

127 Hours

Rabbit Hole

Toy Story 3

Winter’s Bone

Best Editing

Black Swan

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Inception

127 Hours

Somewhere

Best Cinematography

Black Swan

Somewhere

True Grit

Twelve

Winter’s Bone

Best Art Direction

Black Swan

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One

Inception

The King’s Speech

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Best Sound Mixing

Black Swan

Inception

Secretariat

Stone

Toy Story 3

Best Sound Editing

The Expendables

Inception

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Secretariat

Toy Story 3

Best Costume Design

Black Swan

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One

Robin Hood

The Wolf Man

Best Original Score

Black Swan

Inception

Machete

127 Hours

Tron: Legacy

(Yes, I know that the Academy has ruled that the original score for Black Swan is not eligible to be nominated.  However, these are my nominations and I make the rules.)

Best Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One

Inception

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Splice

Tron: Legacy

Best Makeup

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One

Let Me In

127 Hours

Splice

The Wolf Man

Best Song 

“Better Days” from Eat Pray Love

“Bound Together” from Burlesque

“Dear Laughing Doubters” from Dinner For Schmucks

“Sticks and Stones” from How To Train Your Dragon

“You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me” from Burlesque

Best Documentary Feature

Best Worst Movie

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

Restrepo

Winnebago Man

Best Animated Feature

How To Train Your Dragon

A Town Called Panic

Toy Story 3

(Again, I am aware that the Academy ruled that A Town Called Panic isn’t eligible and again, I don’t care.)

Best Foreign Language Film

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Sweden)

Mother (South Korea)

OSS 117 – Lost in Rio (France)

Police, Adjective (Romania)

A Prophet (France)

(While the Academy considers one submission per country for this award, I’m simply using it to recognize the best foreign language film released in the U.S. last year.  Or, at least, the best one that I got a chance to see.)

So, since I love lists, here’s a final tally of films by nominations:

10 Nominations — Black Swan

9 Nominations — Inception

7 Nominations — 127 Hours

5 Nominations — Somewhere, Winter’s Bone

4 Nominations — Animal Kingdom, Fish Tank, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The King’s Speech, Toy Story 3

3 Nominations — Exit Through The Gift Shop, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Never Let Me Go, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

2 Nominations — Burlesque, How To Train Your Dragon, Rabbit Hole, Secretariat, Splice, Tron: Legacy, True Grit, The Wolf Man

1 Nomination — Best Worst Movie, City Island, Dinner For Schmucks, Easy A, Eat Pray Love, The Expendables, The Fighter, Greenberg, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Kick-Ass, The Last Exorcism, Machete, Mother, OSS 117 — Lost in Rio, Please Give, Police, Adjective, A Prophet, Restrepo, Robin Hood, Stone, A Town Called Panic, Twelve, Winnebago Man

0 Nominations — The Social Network

And lastly, here’s a tally by imaginary Oscars won:

5 Oscars — Black Swan

2 Oscars — Toy Story 3

1 Oscar — Animal Kingdom, Burlesque, Exit Through The Gift Shop, Fish Tank, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Inception, Never Let Me Go, 127 Hours, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Somewhere, Tron: Legacy, Twelve, Winter’s Bone, The Wolf Man

0 Oscars — The Social Network

(One final note: A big thank you to my sister, Erin Nicole Bowman, who created the banners used in this post.)

What Lisa Watched Last Night: The Golden Globe Awards


Last night, I watched the annual Golden Globe Awards show.

Why Was I Watching It?

Well, I wasn’t watching it because I was expecting to see the best films and tv shows of the last year recognized.  The Golden Globes are notorious for being odd and anyone who takes them too seriously needs to relax a little.  The appeal of the Golden Globes is that 1) it recognizes both television and film in the same ceremony which means you get to see unexpected sights like Jim Parsons, Robert De Niro, Johnny Depp, and the cast of Glee all in the same auditorium, 2) drinks are served throughout the ceremony which means that everyone’s pretty drunk by the end of it, and 3) you can make fun of what everyone’s wearing.

What’s It About?

As the show’s host, Ricky Gervais pointed out while commenting on the odd nomination of The Tourist for Best Picture (Comedy), the show is mostly about the shadowy members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association getting a chance to hang out with people like Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.  And who can blame them, really?  Quite honestly, if it meant I might get a chance to spend a night with Johnny Depp (or, I’ll admit it, Angelia Jolie), I’m more than willing to love The Tourist too.

What Worked

Oh my God, it was such an odd three hours.  While the winners were kinda predictable and boring (how excited can you get — at this point — to see The Social Network win awards) and showed the typical tendency towards embracing the safe over the unpredictable, Ricky Gervais kept things lively.  He hosted with an attitude that basically said, “My career doesn’t need your approval so fuck off, Hollywood.”  It also pretty much guaranteed that Gervais will never host the Oscars.  My favorite Gervais moment came early when he made the comment about secretly gay Scientologists (an obvious reference to Tom Cruise and maybe John Travolta).  The way the audience gasped pretty much told you all you needed to know as far as the truth behind the joke was concerned. 

Robert De Niro won the DeMille Award and gave a speech that revealed that he’s actually a human being and apparently, a somewhat bitter one at that.  Also, I simply have to mention that Robert De Niro is aging really well.  As opposed to…oh, I don’t know…Al Pacino, maybe?

Melissa Leo is one of my favorites actresses and it was nice to see her rewarded for The Fighter but her speech did go on and on and the only thing that saved the moment was that some genius in the control booth decided to cut to Helena Bonham Carter who had the coolest “What the fuck?” look on her face.

Angelina Jolie’s green dress was quite simply to die for and I want it because it’s the same color as my right eye.  So, I’ll repeat the offer that I made earlier on twitter: whoever gets me this dress (by whatever means) can watch while I try it on and take it off.  (That’s a joke, by the way!  Seriously though, I so want that dress.  Except, of course, I’d want to have Hello Kitty on it somewhere…)

Natalie Portman won best actress in a drama and, out of all the awards given last night, that’s really the only one I agreed with.  When Portman’s name was announced, my twitter friend Jason Tarwater asked if I was doing cartwheels.  Well, I didn’t do cartwheels but I did attempt to do a pirouette and wow, that was a mistake because I so twisted my ankle the wrong way and ended up in really intense pain.  So, I missed Natalie’s speech but I bet it was great.

I do like the way that the Golden Globes divide their awards into a drama and a comedy section.  It’s a smart idea, I think.

What Didn’t Work?

I’m not going to complain about The Social Network winning most of the awards.  It’s not a bad film, at all.  It’s just not the great movie that so many critics are insisting that it is.  At this point, I’m not so much anti-Social Network as much as I’m just bored with it.

Al Pacino’s a great actor but seriously, I hit mute any time he wins an award.  And, seriously, would it kill him to wash his hair or something before he shows up for an awards ceremony?

Justin Bieber came out and gave an award or something and I’m sorry — he’s creepy.  I mean, like David Archuletta creepy.  Plus, I always have to go to Wikipedia to find out whether the i or the e comes first whenever I’m trying to type out the name “Bieber”.  I mean, I’m only 25 and this little punk and his fans are making me feel like an old woman complaining about “kids today.”  NOT COOL, BIEBER!

Aaron Sorkin won for his overrated screenplay and I guess he’s aware that he’s got an image problem because he tried so hard to be gracious but it was kinda like when James Cameron tried to be gracious while promoting Avatar.  It just didn’t work.   The more humble Sorkin tried to be, the more he came across like a prick.  The final insult came when he thanked the best actress nominees for being “smart” women as if that’s such an unusual thing to be.  I’m assuming this was Sorkin’s attempt to show that he’s not a sexist pig but it just came across as condescending and fake.  It’s interesting to contrast Sorkin’s speech with David Fincher’s speech.  Fincher was far more gracious and, quite frankly, the only reason that Sorkin’s screenplay came close to working was because, as a director, Fincher kept things visually interesting so you didn’t really spend too much time thinking about how every single character in the entire freakin’ movie sounded exactly like Aaron Sorkin.  Seriously, does Sorkin know anyone who doesn’t talk like him? 

Was it just me or did producer Scott Rudin — while accepting best picture for The Social Network — almost seem as if he had to be reminded to thank Fincher?  It’s interesting that, for all the acclaim Social Network and Sorkin have gotten, Fincher has often come close to being forgotten.  Could it be because Sorkin is a card-carrying member of the Hollywood establishment while Fincher, much like Fighter’s David O. Russell and Black Swan’s Darren Aronofsky, is not?

Finally, the first winner of the night was Christian Bale.  Was he deliberately trying to channel Colin Farrell last night or was it just an accident?  Regardless, when it comes Colin Farrell, I prefer the real thing.

“Oh my God! Just Like Me” Moment

“I’ll show you a pair of golden globes!”

Lessons Learned

As excited as I’ll be if Natalie Portman wins an Oscar for best actress, I will force myself not to dance.

 

Lisa Marie’s Top 26 Films of 2010


Since it’s awards season and all, here’s my personal picks for the 26 top films of 2010.

(This post has been updated since it was originally posted in order to include two films — Somewhere and Easy A — that I saw after making out the list below.)  

1) Black Swan

2) Exit Through The Gift Shop

3) Fish Tank

4) 127 Hours

5) Somewhere

6) Inception

7) Animal Kingdom

8) Winter’s Bone

9) The King’s Speech

10) Never Let Me Go

11) Toy Story 3

12)  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

13) Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

14) The Last Exorcism

15) Easy A

16) How To Train Your Dragon

17) The Fighter

18) Rabbit Hole

19) A Prophet

20) Let Me In

21) True Grit

22) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

23) City Island

24) Made in Dagenham

25) Kick-Ass

26) Faster

27) Nowhere Boy

Film Review: The Fighter (directed by David O. Russell)


I’m usually pretty cynical when it comes to “inspiring” movies, especially when they’re 1) based on a true story and 2) centered around some sort of professional sport.  Usually, these films turn out to be not so much inspiring as just insipid and predictable.  However, there is always an exception to any rule and this year, that exception is David O. Russell’s touching and exciting boxing film, The Fighter.

To put it mildly, professional athletics are not my thing.  I get bored with football and the squeaky shoes of basketball annoy me.  I did briefly get caught up in the world series this year but then the Rangers lost to the Giants and I pretty much swore never to allow my heart to be broken again.  Tennis would be tolerable if not for all the grunting.  I will occasionally watch a minute or two of golf but that’s just because I think golf courses are pretty.  However, boxing does hold a certain primal fascination for me.    Maybe it’s because I’ve seen far too many guys do the whole “Who you calling a bitch, bitch?” routine without ever throwing a punch (I swear, guys remind me of cats when they try to verbally spar, with all the hissing and staring) that it’s just undeniably exciting (in so many ways) to actually see two men actually punching each other until one is undeniably the winner.  However, boxing — as a sport — is still largely a mystery to me.  I don’t know who the current champion is nor do I know how or why he got to be the champion.  I can name a few boxers — Muhammad Ali (because everyone knows him), Mike Tyson (ditto), George Foreman (because we own one of his grills), Oscar De La Hoya (because he’s cute), and Lennox Lewis (because he was on the first season of The Celebrity Apprentice).

And now, thanks to The Fighter, I know of “Irish” Mickey Ward and his half-brother Dicky Eklund.

In the film, Mickey Ward (played by Mark Wahlberg) is portrayed as being a well-meaning, blue-collar guy who lives in Lowell, Massachusetts (home of Jack Kerouac) and who makes a living as a “stepping stone,” a below-average boxer who is used by better boxers as just a “stepping stone” on their way to a bigger fight.  He is managed by his overbearing mother (Melissa Leo) and is trained by his half-brother, Dicky (Christian Bale).  Dicky used to be a pro-boxer himself but, as the film begins, he  is more interested in smoking crack than throwing punches.  Still, Dicky remains a local hero and his mother’s favorite and Mickey lives in his shadow.

After one final humiliating defeat in the ring, Ward decides to stop boxing and instead devotes his time to his new girlfriend, a bartender named Charlene (Amy Adams).  Dicky, meanwhile, ends up getting sent to prison.  With Dicky locked away, Mickey starts to come into his own as a person and a boxer and he eventually reenters the ring.  Eventually, he gets his chance at a championship fight.  However, at the same time, Dicky is released from prison and trying desperately to reenter Mickey’s life despite Charlene’s insistence that Mickey stay away from his loving but self-destructive family. 

By the film’s conclusion, the story has become less about Mickey Ward’s fights in the boxing ring and more about his own battle to find the confidence necessary to stop being dominated by the people around him and to live and take responsibility for his own life and his own future.  As undeniably exciting as all of the boxing is, it’s the film’s portrait of Mickey Ward as an essentially nice guy struggling to be independent that makes The Fighter such a moving film.

If you’ve read Sharon Waxman’s Rebels in the Backlot, then you might feel that know a bit about director David O. Russell.  Of the six directors profiled in that book, Russell came across the most negatively, a temperamental prima donna who was portrayed as being the type to accidentally make a great film.  Well, I don’t know if that portrait is an accurate one but The Fighter is no accident.  Russell directs this film with an energy and an attention to detail that puts so-called “nice guy” directors like Ed Zwick to shame.  For me, Russell is at his best in the film’s opening scenes where Mickey and Dicky strut through the streets of Lowell while Heavy’s How You Like Me Now plays in the background.  Not much happens in these scenes.  For the most part, Dicky just BSes with the locals while Mickey shyly watches.  But, in just a matter of minutes, Russell manages to tell us everything that we need to know about Mickey Ward, Dicky Eklund, and Lowell, Massachusetts.

Russell also gets four excellent performances from his lead actors.  Everyone already knows that Christian Bale is amazing in the role of Dicky.  Let’s be honest — we all know he would be even before this film opened.  He’s Christian Bale and Dicky Eklund is a great role.  So instead of repeating what you already know, I’m going to take some time to praise Bale’s co-stars, all three of whom give excellent performances.

As Mickey Ward, Mark Wahlberg once again proves that he’s one of the few leading men working today who can actually bring an air of authenticity to a blue-collar role.  At first, it seems like Wahlberg is going to be overshadowed by both Bale and Melissa Leo (much as Mickey was initially overshadowed by Dicky and his mother).  However, once Dicky has been sent to jail and the movie focuses on Mickey’s relationship with Charlene, you suddenly realize that Wahlberg really is the movie’s heart and soul.  It helps that he has a very real chemistry with Amy Adams.  There’s very few actors who can convince you that they’re falling in love on-screen but Wahlberg proves, in this film, that he’s one of them.

Playing Mickey’s mother and manager, Melissa Leo is alternatively touching and horrifying.  Whether she’s scolding Dicky for continually choosing drugs over family or accusing Charlene of being an “MTV girl,” Leo dominates every scene she’s in.  With this film, Welcome to the Riley’s, and Frozen River, Melissa Leo has quickly become one of my favorite actresses.

Finally, in the role of Charlene, Amy Adams is finally given a chance to show what she’s actually capable of when given an actual character to play.  I’ve always liked Amy Adams because she’s always come across as so genuinely sweet in almost every role she’s played.  Plus, we’re both redheads, we both wanted to be ballerinas, and we both briefly worked at the Gap when we were 18 (though not at the same time, obviously.  And not at the same Gap either).    Furthermore, before breaking into acting, Amy Adams was a Hooters girl and I once applied for a job at Hooters though my mom made me go back and withdraw my application an hour later.  Plus, Amy was born in Italy which is where I would have been born in an ideal world.  And, in an ideal world, I would have her nose as opposed to the one I got stuck with.  (Sorry, I love being a fourth Italian but I still have issues with my big, Italian nose…)

So, yes, Amy Adams is one of my favorite actresses which is why it pained me to see her give such an annoying performance in Julie and Julia last year.  I was worried that maybe all the sweetness had finally given way to self-parody.  However, much as the Fighter is about characters searching for redemption, the movie is also a redemption of sorts for Amy Adams.  Yes, Charlene is another sweet-and-nurturing-girlfriend role for Adams but she brings an unexpected edginess and a very genuine anger to her role.  Charlene may be a nurturer but she’s no doormat and, for me, there’s something very refreshing about seeing a strong, independent woman in a movie who is also still very feminine, nurturing, and unapologetically sexual.  As I previously stated, Wahlberg and Adams have a very real, very definite chemistry in this film and, as a result, this film about a very violent sport is one of the most genuinely romantic that I’ve seen in a long time.

One final note: On a personal level, this movie almost made me want to go out and find a boxer to date.  Why?  So I’ll have an excuse to get dressed up all sexy-like whenever he has a fight.  Seriously, I want that black dress that Charlene wears to all of Mickey’s fights.  It’s to die for.

20 Cinematic Moments That Will Define 2010 For Me


Every year, there’s a handful of film scenes that come to define the entire year for us.  At their best, these scenes can leave such an impression that they become a part of our shared history.  For some people (though not me), 2009 will always be the year of Avatar.  Meanwhile, for me (but not others), 2010 will always be the year I realized it was okay to admit how much I love to dance.  Listed below are 20 of the many film moments that I will remember whenever I look back on this current year.

20) Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield discover what really happened to all of their childhood artwork in Never Let Me Go.

Permeated with an atmosphere of nonstop melancholy, Never Let Me Go never quite found the audience is deserved but I think it’s one of the best films of 2010 and the scene mentioned above is one of the reasons why.

19) Scott Pilgrim says, “Oh cool, coins!” in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.

And Lisa Marie suddenly realizes that she has fallen in love with a movie.

18) Keifer Sutherland says, “Tap that ass” in Twelve.

Truth be told, I don’t even remember what was happening on-screen.  I just remember Keifer, as the film’s narrator, saying “Tap that ass” in that sexy, nicotine-fueld growl of his and thinking to myself, “Well, okay…”

17) Jake Gyllenhaal chases down a bus full of dying old people in Love and Other Drugs.

Yes, the old people desperately need to get up to Canada so they can get their prescriptions filled but unfortunately for them, Anne Hathaway happens to be on the bus as well and Jake — apparently realizing that he’ll never get to see her breasts again if they break up — chases the bus down in his Porsche so he can reconcile with her.  And, of course, the old people are just so adorably excited at the idea of a 15-minute delay while these two deeply damaged characters stand outside and talk about their relationship.  I mean, fuck it — who cares about getting these people their medicine when there’s a disposable pop tune playing in the background and Jake wants to talk to his ex-girlfriend?  In so many ways, this scene represents everything I hate about mainstream filmmaking.

16) Joseph Gordon-Levitt flies through the corridors of a dream hotel in Inception.

Inception was a film full of amazing images but my personal favorite was perhaps the simplest — Joseph Gordon-Levitt (looking rather adorable in his dark suit) floating down those Argentoesque hallways while trying to figure out how to wake everyone up.

15) Jacki Weaver delivers the line of the year in Animal Kingdom.

“And you’ve done some bad things, sweetie.”

14)  John Hawkes “talks” his way out of a traffic stop in Winter’s Bone.

While Winter’s Bone should rightfully make Jennifer Lawrence a star, John Hawkes also contributed some of the film’s best moments.

13) Patrick Fabian slips a recipe into his sermon in The Last Exorcism.

Cast as a modern-day Marjoe Gortner in this underappreciated film, Fabian gives one of the best performances of the year, if not the best.

12) Chloe Grace Moretz saves Kick-Ass from the mafia in Kick-Ass.

As far as women kicking ass was concerned, 2010 was a good year.  Sure, the majority of cinematic female portraits were — as always — sexist to the extreme but there were a few rays of hope.  Angelina Jolie in Salt, Noomi Rapace in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo films, Mila Jovovich in Resident Evil — all were among the women who got to do something more than just look pretty while the boys saved the day.  Seeing as how I’m honoring Rapace further down the list, I’m going to allow Chloe Grace Moretz (in the role of Hit Girl) to serve as a stand-in here for every single woman who was allowed to kick a little ass in 2010.

11) Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg walks down the streets of Lowell at the beginning of The Fighter.

Seriously, this entire sequence — set to Heavy’s How You Like Me Now? (or “The Sock Monkey Song” as I call it) — could be a short film in itself.  Call it: “Men and why we love them.”

10) Colin Firth fearfully waits to give a speech at the start of The King’s Speech.

One look at Firth’s terrified eyes and I was in tears.  From that minute on, this unexpected gem of a film had me.

9) Jennifer Lawrence fishes for her dad’s hand in Winter’s Bone.

Southern gothic at its best!

8) James Franco is rescued by a purifying storm in 127 Hours.

Helpless and hopeless, Franco is suddenly freed by a sudden storm.  Both Franco and director Danny Boyle handle this scene with such skill that the audience finds itself just as saddened as Franco when it all turns out to be a hallucination.

7) Katie Jarvis dances in an abandoned apartment and finds a momentary glimmer of hope in Fish Tank.

Between this movie and Black Swan, 2010 was the year that reminded me of just how much I love to dance and why.  2010 is the year that I realized it was okay for me to love to dance again.

6) Andy gives away his toys at the end of Toy Story 3.

And Lisa Marie cries and cries.

5) Lisbeth Salander (played by Noomi Rapace) gives her abusive guardian a tattoo in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

For any and every girl who has ever been used, abused, hurt, spoken down to, insulted, manipulated, or betrayed by someone who claimed to only be looking after her best interests, this scene was truly cathartic.  When I say that Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth will be iconic, it’s largely because of scenes like this.  In that one scene, Lisbeth is established as a woman who will never be victimized and it gives hope any for those of us who don’t have dragon tattoos. 

4) Footage from Theirry’s completed “documentary” is revealed in Exit Through The Gift Shop.

And the audience is  suddenly forced to question just how much of anything they’ve seen is the truth.

3) The spinning top wobbles at the end of Inception.

Or does it?

2) Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win the Oscar for best director while her ex-husband glowers in silence.

I wasn’t a huge fan of The Hurt Locker but I still squealed with delight as Kathryn Bigelow accepted the award that should have gone to Sofia Coppola back in 2004.  Not only did Bigelow make history but she did it by beating her soulless jerk of an ex-husband, James Cameron.  And then she gave one of the best acceptance speeches in Oscar history, all the while looking about 20 years younger than she actually is.  In short, Kathryn Bigelow showed every Oscar winner — past, present, and future — exactly how it’s done.

1) The final fifteen minutes of Black Swan

In 15 minutes, Darren Aronofsky reminded me of how much I love ballet and audiences of why we love movies in the first place.