8 Films That Should Never Have Been Nominated For Best Picture


Sometimes, the Academy gets it wrong.

For instance, these 8 films have two things in common:

  1. They were all nominated for best picture.
  2. They shouldn’t have been.

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  1. American Beauty (1999)

Shallow, pretentious, and more than a little misogynistic, American Beauty was somehow not only nominated but won as well.

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2. Crash (2005)

Oh my God.  How the Hell did this mess of a movie win?

 

3. Avatar (2009)

Yawn.  I’ve written at length about my dislike for this film so I’m not going to waste too much more space on it.  It would be nice if James Cameron was capable of writing dialogue that didn’t sound like something that would get a failing grade in a high school creative writing class.

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4. The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Acclaimed when first released, The Kids Are All Right was forgotten fairly quickly.  When seen today, it comes across like a sitcom version of life among the wealthy and out of touch.  I don’t think any film featuring an organic food restaurant is going to age well.

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5. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

In the wake of 9/11, an extremely annoying brat bothers random people in New York.  One of the worst films ever.

The Descendants

6. The Descendants (2011)

Alexander Payne’s comedy of tragedy and infidelity isn’t terrible but it wasn’t that great either.

7. Birdman (2014)

While it’s nice that Michael Keaton made a comeback, this is still one of the most overrated films of all time.  Will anyone care about Birdman in ten more years?

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8. The Big Short (2015)

The worst thing about the economic crash?  It gave us a movie like The Big Short.

Embracing the Melodrama Part II #118: The Kids Are All Right (dir by Lisa Cholodenko)


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Dare I admit to thinking that the 2010 best picture nominee The Kids Are All Right is overrated?

The Kids Are All Right tells the story of Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), married lesbians in Los Angeles.  The pragmatic Nic is an obstetrician while the more flighty Jules has a landscaping business.  They also have two children, Laser (Josh Hutcherson) and Joni (Mia Wasikowska).  When Laser and Joni decide to track down their anonymous sperm donor father, the trail leads to Paul (Mark Ruffalo), who owns an organic restaurant.  (Of course, he does…)  After Paul meets Nic and Jules, he eventually ends up having an affair with Jules, which threatens the family’s stability.

It’s been five years since the film first came out and, as a result, I think it’s easy to forgot what a big deal The Kids Are All Right was back in 2010.  It got a lot of attention for being both a film about a lesbian couple and a box office success.  To a certain extent, every LGBT-themed film to come out since owes a debt of gratitude to The Kids Are All Right for proving that audiences are willing to see films with LGBT characters.  As well, the film’s box office success was an early sign of the growing support for the legalization of gay marriage.  The Kids Are All Right can make a very valid claim to being a landmark film.

But, once you look past the film’s historic importance, it doesn’t hold up as well as you might hope.  The performers are all good, especially Annette Bening.  The film’s script also has a lot of good lines.  However, it also has a lot of lines that feel just a little bit too glib and obvious.  It’s not surprising that HBO considered turning The Kids Are All Right into a TV series because the entire movie really does feel like an above average episode of an hourly drama.  Lisa Cholodenko’s visually flat direction also feels more appropriate for television than for the big screen.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’d probably be more into The Kids Are All Right if the characters were a little less wealthy.  If you can look past the fact that this is a movie about a happy lesbian marriage being threatened by a clueless straight guy, you discover that The Kids Are All Right is essentially just another movie about rich white people with problems.

I guess my problem with The Kids Are All Right can be summed up by the scene where Jules fires her Mexican gardener because she suspects that he’s seen her with Paul.  The scene is largely played for laughs and, after the gardener has lost his job, he’s never seen again.  At one point, Jules does say that she feels guilty for firing him but again, the scene is played for laughs.  The film asks us to laugh with the rich white characters and to laugh at the one non-rich non-white.

The Kids Are All Right is a historically important film but that’s not necessarily the same thing as being a great film.

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

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.

Dallas Snubs Lisa Marie


I’m now officially bored with groups of people voting for and handing out awards.  However, I do have to mention one more film critics group that announced their “best-of-2010” selections earlier today.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association announced their picks and, while the winners are pretty much the same films and performances that everyone else has honored this year, I still find it fascinating that there is apparently a Dallas-Forth Worth Film Critics Association.  I mean, I live in Dallas and I love my city but it’s not like we’re Los Angeles or New York.  Dallas has two newspapers — the Dallas Morning News and the weekly Dallas Observer.  Forth Worth has the Star Telegram and that’s about it.  Of course, the towns surrounding the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex all have their own local papers but for the most part, everything is owned and published by the same company that puts out the Morning News.  So, regardless of whether its political endorsements or film reviews, we’re not exactly dealing with a lot of editorial diversity.

And, of course, I haven’t even start to get into the main issue — which is that I’m not a member!  I’m an opinionated, online film critic from North Texas!  Where’s my freaking membership!?  Is it because I’m a woman?  That’s it, isn’t it?  All you good old boys just don’t realize that the glass ceiling hasn’t just been cracked, it’s been shattered…

Oh, wait.  I just visited the official site of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Film Critics Association and apparently, 11 of the 32 members are female.  And apparently, once you join, you have to pay dues…

Never mind. 🙂

Plus, I noticed that Gary Cogill is a member and if you live in DFW then you know that Gary Cogill is just da man.

Anyway, here’s their list of winners:

TOP TEN:
1. The Social Network
2. The King`s Speech
3. Black Swan
4. 127 Hours
5. Winter`s Bone
6. Inception
7. The Fighter
8. True Grit
9. The Town
10. The Kids Are All Right

(Really?  The Town and The Kids Are All Right make the top ten?  I don’t know, maybe I should demand membership becaue it seems like they kinda need me…)

BEST PICTURE: The Social Network

BEST DIRECTOR: David Fincher, The Social Network

BEST ACTOR: James Franco, 127 Hours

BEST ACTRESS: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christian Bale, The Fighter

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

BEST SCREENPLAY: The Social Network (Bleh, give a mainstream, elitist like Aaron Sorkin all the awards you want, he’s still going to hate on us for being from Texas…)

BEST FOREIGN FILM: Biutiful

BEST DOCUMENTARY: Waiting for Superman

BEST ANIMATED FILM: Toy Story 3

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: 127 Hours

RUSSEL SMITH AWARD: Winter`s Bone

Hey SAG! Where’s Jacki?


Is there any organization out there right now that isn’t handing out either awards or nominations?  Earlier today, The members of the Screen Actors Guild became the latest organization to join in the fun when they announced their nominations for the best film performances of 2010.

Here’s the nominees.  I apologize, in advance, for the lack of sarcastic commentary but I have a headache and, as a result, my wit is sleeping on the couch for now.

Ensemble:
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

Actress, Lead:
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Hilary Swank, Conviction

Actor, Motion Picture
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Robert Duvall, Get Low
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours

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

Actress, Supporting
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
Mila Kunis, Black Swan
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Well, okay, maybe I’ll make a few comments along the lines of “Yay for the love shown to Natalie Portman, John Hawkes, James Franco, Jennifer Lawrence, and Mila Kunis!”

But seriously, SAG, where’s Animal Kingdom’s Jacki Weaver?  I mean, I can understand why Noomi Rapace was snubbed.  The Mainstream doesn’t want to remind people that there was a perfect Lisbeth Salander before Rooney Mara.  That’s how the game is played.  That’s why the people over at awardsdaily.com are already trying to claim David Fincher’s remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as the film to beat for best picture next year.

But nobody’s remaking Animal Kingdom.  There’s nothing wrong with admitting that, in a year of excellent female performances, few were as a note perfect and unexpected as Jacki Weaver’s.

Who the Hell Are These People?


With the Golden Globe nominations set to be announced on Tuesday, I figured now would be a good time to recap which films and performances have already been honored by the various critics groups. 

One thing that I discovered as I researched this is that there are a lot of critics groups out there!   I don’t know who half these people are and most of them probably won’t have any bearing at all on who is actually nominated come Oscar time.  But since I’m a lover of trivia and lists, there you go.

The following films and performances were honored by either The National Board of Review, the D.C. Film Critics, the Boston Society of Film Critics, The New York Film Critics Online,The Los Angeles Film Critics, The Indiana Film Journalists, The Southeastern Film Critics, The New York Film Critics Circle, or the San Francisco Film Critics.

Best Picture:

The Social Network (All.  That’s right, it’s a clean sweep for an above average film.)

Best Director:

Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (S.F)

Olivier Assayas for Carlos (LAFC)

David Fincher for The Social Network (BSFC, DC, NBR, NYFCC, NYFCO, SEFC, S.F.)

Christopher Nolan for Inception (IFJ)

Best Actor:

Jesse Eisenberg (BSFC, NBR)

Colin Firth for The King’s Speech (DC, LAFC, NYFCC, SEFC, S.F.)

James Franco for 127 Hours (IFJ, NYFCO)

Best Actress:

Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right (NYFCC)

Kim Hye-ja for Mother (LAFC)

Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone (DC)

Lesley Manville for Another Year (NBR)

Natalie Portman for Black Swan (BSFC, IFJ, NYFCO, SEFC)

Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (S.F.)

Best Supporting Actor:

Niels Arestrup for A Prophet (LAFC)

Christian Bale for The Fighter (BSFC, DC, IFJ, NBR, NYFCO)

John Hawkes for Winter’s Bone (S.F.)

Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right (NYFCC)

Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech (SEFC)

Best Supporting Actress:

Melissa Leo for The Fighter (DC, NYFCC, NYFCO)

Juliette Lewis for Conviction (BSFC)

Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit (IFJ, SEFC)

Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (LAFC, NBR, S.F.)

Best Documentary:

Exit Through The Gift Shop (DC, IFJ, NYFCO)

The Inside Job (NYFCC, SEFC)

Last Train Home (LAFC)

Marwencol (BSFC)

The Tillman Story (S.F.)

Waiting For Superman (NBR)

Best Animated Feature:

How To Train Your Dragon (IFJ)

The Illusionist (NYFCC)

Toy Story 3 (BSFC, DC, LAFC, NBR, NYFCO, SEFC, S.F.)

Best Adapted Screenplay:

The Social Network (BSFC, DC, IFJ, LAFC, NYFCO, SEFC, S.F.)

Best Original Screenplay:

Inception (DC)

The Kids Are All Right (NYFCC)

The Kings Speech (SEFC, S.F.)