If Lisa Marie Determined The Oscar Nominees….


The Oscar nominations are due to be announced on Tuesday morning so I figured now would be a good time to play a little game that I like to call: “What if Lisa had all the power?”  Below, you will find my personal Oscar nominations.  These are the films and the performers that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for selecting the nominees and the winners. 

For those who are interested, you can check out my picks for last year by clicking on this sentence.

Please understand, as you look over this lengthy list of deserving films and performers, that these are not necessarily the films I expect to see nominated on Tuesday morning.  In fact, I would be hard pressed to think of a year in which I have disagreed more with the critical establishment than I have this year.  For whatever reason, the films that truly touched and moved me in 2011 appear to be the films that are totally and completely off the Academy’s radar.  These are not my predictions.  Instead, they are my personal choices and they should not be interpreted as representing the opinion on anyone else affiliated with this site.  So, if you’re angry that David Fincher’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo didn’t receive a single imaginary nomination, direct your anger at me and me alone. 

Best Picture

The Artist

Bridesmaids

The Guard

Hanna

Higher Ground

Hugo

Shame

Sucker Punch

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Young Adult

Best Actor

Michael Fassbender for Shame

Brendan Gleeson for The Guard

Gary Oldman for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Michael Shannon for Take Shelter

Rainn Wilson for Super

Best Actress

Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia

Vera Farmiga for Higher Ground

Elizabeth Olsen for Martha Marcy May Marlene

Saoirse Ronan for Hanna

Charlize Theron for Young Adult

Best Supporting Actor

Albert Brooks for Drive

Bobby Cannivale for Win Win

Jonah Hill for Moneyball

Patton Oswalt for Young Adult

Andy Serkis for Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Best Supporting Actress

Anna Kendrick for 50/50

Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids

Carey Mulligan for Shame

Ellen Page for Super

Amy Ryan for Win Win

Best Director

Vera Farminga for Higher Ground

Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist

Steve McQueen for Shame

Martin Scorsese for Hugo

Joe Wright for Hanna

Best Original Sreenplay

Bridesmaids

The Guard

Hanna

Shame

Young Adult

Best Adapted Screenplay

Higher Ground

Hugo

Incendies

One Day

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Best Animated Feature

Kung Fu Panda 2

Puss in Boots

Rango

Rio

Winnie the Pooh

Best Foreign Language Film

(Please note that I do this category a bit differently than the Academy.  Whereas the Academy asks nations across the world to submit a nominee, I’m simply nominating the best foreign language films that I saw in a theater last year.  Those who follow the Oscars will note that I’ve both nominated and awarded the brilliant Canadian films Incendies, which actually was nominated for a real Oscar in this same category last year.)

The Double Hour

Incendies

Of Gods and Men

The Skin I Live In

13 Assassins

Best Documentary Feature

Bill Cunningham New York

Buck

The Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Jig

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles

Best Original Score

The Artist

A Better Life

The Guard

Hanna

The Tree Of Life

Best Original Song

“The Star-Spangled Man” from Captain America: The First Avenger

“Mujhe Chod Ke” from DAM999

“The Keeper” from Machine Gun Preacher

“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets

“Pop” from White Irish Drinkers

Best Sound Editing

Drive

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Hugo

Sucker Punch

The Tree of Life

Best Sound Mixing

Drive

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Hugo

Sucker Punch

The Tree of Life

Best Art Direction

Bunraku

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Hugo

Sucker Punch

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Best Cinematography

The Artist

Hugo

Melancholia

Shame

The Tree of Life

Best Makeup

Beastly

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Insidious

Sucker Punch

X-Men: First Class

Best Costume Design

Bunraku

The Help

Hugo

Sucker Punch

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Best Editing

The Artist

The Guard

Hanna

Hugo

Shame

Best Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Hugo

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Sucker Punch

The Tree of Life

List of Films By Number of Nominations:

10 Nominations – Hugo

7 Nominations – Shame, Sucker Punch

6 Nominations – Hanna

5 Nominations – The Artist; The Guard; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2; Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy; The Tree of Life

4 Nominations – Higher Ground, Young Adult

3 Nominations – Bridesmaids, Drive

2 Nominations – Bunraku, Incendies, Melancholia, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Super, Win Win

1 Nomination – Beastly, A Better Life, Bill Cunningham New York, Buck, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, DAM999, The Double Hour, 50/50, The Help, Insidious, Jig, Kung Fu Panda 2, Machine Gun Preacher, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Moneyball, The Muppets, Of Gods and Men, One Day, Puss in Boots, Rango, Ressurect Dead, Rio, The Skin I Live In, Take Shelter, 13 Assassins, X-Men: First Class, White Irish Drinkers, Winnie the Pooh

List of Films By Number of Oscars Won:

3 Oscars – Hanna

2 Oscars – Bunraku, Shame, Sucker Punch

1 Oscar – Beastly, Bridesmaids, The Cave of Forgotten Deams, Dam999, Higher Ground, Hugo Incendies, Melancholia, Puss in Boots, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Super, Young Adult

So, will the Academy agree with my picks?  Well, probably not.  Indeed, it’s probable that they won’t agree at all.  And to that, I say, “Oh well.” 

The Academy Award nominations will be announced Tuesday morning.

Here are the 39 songs eligible for a Best Original Song nomination


Yesterday, the Academy announced that the following 39 films are eligible to nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Song of 2011.  Considering how the awards season has gone so far, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that few of the songs that I truly enjoyed hearing this year are eligible.  Still, it is nice to see that Capt. America will have a chance to score a nomination for “Star-Spangled Man.”

Then again, it would also be nice to see something from The Muppets win because I’m sure Bret McKenzie would give a perfectly charming acceptance speech.

One final reaction to this list: there’s a movie called White Irish Drinkers?  

Yay!

  • “The World I Knew” from “African Cats”
  • “Lay Your Head Down” from “Albert Nobbs”
  • “Star Spangled Man” from “Captain America: The First Avenger”
  • “Collision of Worlds” from “Cars 2”
  • “Dakkanaga Dugu Dugu” from “DAM999”
  • “DAM999 Theme Song” from “DAM999”
  • “Mujhe Chod Ke” from “DAM999”
  • “Rainbird” from “Dirty Girl”
  • “Keep On Walking” from “The First Grader”
  • “Where the River Goes” from “Footloose”
  • “Hello Hello” from “Gnomeo & Juliet”
  • “Love Builds a Garden” from “Gnomeo & Juliet”
  • “Bridge of Light” from “Happy Feet Two”
  • “The Mighty Sven” from “Happy Feet Two”
  • “Never Be Daunted” from “happythankyoumoreplease”
  • “Hell and Back” from “Hell and Back Again”
  • “The Living Proof” from “The Help”
  • “Coeur Volant” from “Hugo”
  • “It’s How We Play” from “I Don’t Know How She Does It”
  • “When the Heart Dies” from “In the Land of Blood and Honey”
  • “Ja Nao Estar” from “José and Pilar”
  • “The Keeper” from “Machine Gun Preacher”
  • “Life’s a Happy Song” from “The Muppets”
  • “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”
  • “Pictures in My Head” from “The Muppets”
  • “Summer Song” from “The Music Never Stopped”
  • “Imaginary Friends” from “Olive”
  • “Sparkling Day” from “One Day”
  • “Taking You With Me” from “Our Idiot Brother”
  • “The Greatest Song I Ever Heard” from “POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”
  • “Hot Wings” from “Rio”
  • “Let Me Take You to Rio” from “Rio” 
  • “Real in Rio” from “Rio”
  • “Shelter” from “Take Shelter”
  • “Gathering Stories” from “We Bought a Zoo”
  • “Pop” from “White Irish Drinkers”
  • “Think You Can Wait” from “Win Win”
  • “The Backson Song” from “Winnie the Pooh”
  • “So Long” from “Winnie the Pooh”

The WAFCA Has Spoken


I don’t know much about the Washington Area Film Critics Association but, just judging from the films that they chose to nominate for being the best of 2011, they would appear to have better taste than most film critics. 

(Seriously, film critics are the worst.)

They announced their picks for the best of 2011 earlier today and here’s a complete list of their nominees and winners.  If nothing else, this year’s Oscar race is certainly shaping up to be a bit more interesting than last years. 

Best Film:
*The Artist
The Descendants
Drive
Hugo
Win Win

Best Director:
Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive)
*Martin Scorsese (Hugo)

Best Actor:
*George Clooney (The Descendants)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Michael Fassbender (Shame)
Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Michael Shannon (Take Shelter)

Best Actress:
Viola Davis (The Help)
Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin)
*Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)

Best Supporting Actor:
Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
*Albert Brooks (Drive)
John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes)

Best Supporting Actress:
Bérénice Bejo (The Artist)
Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Carey Mulligan (Shame)
*Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)

Best Acting Ensemble:
*Bridesmaids
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The Help
Hugo
Margin Call

Best Adapted Screenplay:
*Alexander Payne and Nate Faxon & Jim Rash (The Descendants)
Tate Taylor (The Help)
John Logan (Hugo)
Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (Moneyball)
Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)

Best Original Screenplay:

Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Tom McCarthy (Win Win)
Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids)
*Will Reiser (50/50)

Best Animated Feature:
The Adventures of Tintin
Arthur Christmas
Puss in Boots
*Rango
Winnie the Pooh

Best Documentary:
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey
Buck
*Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life
Project Nim

Best Foreign Language Film:
13 Assassins
Certified Copy
I Saw the Devil
Pina
*The Skin I Live In

Best Art Direction:
Lawrence Bennett, Production Designer, and Gregory S. Hooper, Art Director (The Artist)
Stuart Craig, Production Designer, and Stephenie McMillan, Set Decorator (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2)
*Dante Ferretti, Production Designer, and Francesca Lo Schiavo, Set Decorator (Hugo)
Jack Fisk, Production Designer, and Jeanette Scott, Set Decorator (The Tree of Life)
Rick Carter, Production Designer, and Lee Sandales, Set Decorator (War Horse)

Best Cinematography:
Guillaume Schiffman (The Artist)
Robert Richardson (Hugo)
Manuel Alberto Claro (Melancholia)
*Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life)
Janusz Kaminski (War Horse)

Best Score:
*Ludovic Bource (The Artist)
Cliff Martinez (Drive)
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Howard Shore (Hugo)
John Williams (War Horse)

Here Are The 18 Films Eligible For Best Animated Feature Film


Hi, everyone!  Well, I am in a much better mood than I was when I wrote my last post and that’s because I just remembered that November is the start of Oscar season!  Yay! 

Now, I know that a lot of people make a big deal about how little they care about the Oscars and they always sit around and bitch about how such-and-such movie didn’t win and how the Academy always honors mediocrity and the Academy is biased towards the mainstream and blah blah blah blah blah.  As I explained many times last year, I am aware of all of this and I don’t care.  On an annual basis, the Oscars prove themselves to be a big, tacky, spectacular train wreck and I love them! 

Anyway, as Oscar season slowly creeps to life (it won’t really be here until the various critic groups start handing out their equally silly awards in December), the Academy has released the list of the 18 films that have qualified to compete for the title of Best Animated Film.  Since there are 18 contenders, that means that we’ll actually have five nominees this year as opposed to just three and I for one say, “Yay!” to that.  Whenever I see only three films listed in a category, I have flashbacks to trying to understand the concept of the Holy Trinity.

Anyway, here are the contenders:

The Adventures of TinTin

“Alois Nebel”

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked”
“Arthur Christmas”
“Cars 2”
“A Cat in Paris”
“Chico & Rita”
“Gnomeo & Juliet”
“Happy Feet Two”
“Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil”
“Kung Fu Panda 2”
“Mars Needs Moms”
“Puss in Boots”
“Rango”
“Rio”
“The Smurfs”
“Winnie the Pooh”
“Wrinkles”

I have to admit that this has been kind of a strange year for animated films, largely because, as my fellow contributor Leonard Wilson once pointed out on twitter, this is the first year in which it appears that Pixar might not have a contender.  I recently saw Cars 2 and did not shed a tear and quite frankly, going to a Pixar film and not crying  is a bit like going to New Orleans, flashing your boobs, and not getting any beads.  It just makes you question everything.  Winnie the Pooh made me cry.  So did Rango and Kung Fu Panda 2 for that matter.  I haven’t seen Puss In Boots yet but I expect I’ll love it because it’s about a cat and I love cats.  However, I have a feeling that the award will be given to Adventures of TinTin just to keep Steven Spielberg from throwing a hissy fit after War Horse fails to live up to expectations.

Quick Review: Winnie the Pooh (dir. by Stephen J. Anderson & Don Hall)


With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 running at full steam, and Captain America: The First Avenger opening this weekend, Winnie the Pooh still remains an option for younger kids who may not be ready for these two films (at least until The Smurfs is released). There’s really very little in the way of negative comments that I can give to Winnie the Pooh, expect perhaps that running at just 69 minutes, it’s very short. It’s for kids.

Working off the original story by A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh re-introduces us to the title character, along with his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood – Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet,  Kanga and her son Roo, Owl, and Eeyore. They are the treasured toys of Christopher Robin, who has an active imagination.

One of the cute elements of this story, narrated by John Cleese is how everyone breaks the fourth wall and occasionally has interactions with the paragraphs of the story. Stepping on a few words here, using a few as a ladder, it came across as being quite worthy of a few smiles.

I used to watch “The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” on Saturday Mornings, and it was a treat to return to these characters. For the movie, we are given the “Busy Backson” story, where Eeyore has lost his tail and the team come up with ideas on new and interesting ones for him. Each character has their own way of figuring this out. Of course, Pooh has something of a difficult time with his constantly rumbling tummy, but he manages to help in his own way. In their search, Owl misreads a note left behind by Christopher Robin stating that he’ll be busy, but will be back soon. This conjures up the great and terrible “Backson” in everyone’s imagination, responsible for everything from stealing your left socks to making your milk spoil. The team decides to set a trap for the Backson, with wild results. The scenes with the Backson maybe a little frightening to the youngest of viewers, but it’s not that bad. We’re not dealing with Heffalumps or Woozles here.

In the end, as always, everything turns out well. I liked that Friendship was the big factor here. All of Eyeore’s friends tried to help him find his tail, and Pooh even puts his honey chasing ways on hold (as best he can, anyway) to aid his friend. Those familiar with the animated series will instantly recognize Jim Cummings as the voice of both Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. I would have liked to have seen Peter Cullen come back as Eyeore, but he was pretty busy voicing Optimus Prime while the movie was being made. All of the other voice actors are new, including late night tv host Craig Ferguson as Owl. The kids won’t even care.

Musically, there are a few interesting songs. Actress / Singer Zooey Deschanel lends her voice to the title song, along with a few others. Most of the other songs are sung by the cast themselves, and the kids may find themselves singing along (at least I could hear singing in my audience, anyway). The film moves fast, extremely fast. By the time the antsy factor kicks in, the movie’s done, which makes that a treat by itself.

Overall, Winnie the Pooh may not have the magnificence of say a Kung Fu Panda 2 or How to Train Your Dragon, but for very young viewers, it should do just the trick.

Poll: Which Films Are You Looking Forward To In June and July?


Rapidly we are approaching the half-way mark of 2011.  This is the time of year that the studios start to roll out their big “event” movies along with the occasional “prestige” film.  In short, this is the time that, for many (thought not for me), the year in film truly begins.

So, I’m curious — what films are you most interested in and excited about seeing in June and July? To help answer that question, I’ve created two polls which you can find below.  You can vote for up to four films for each month and write-in votes are accepted. Voting will be open on both polls until July 1st.