I am behind in my entries on the Awards race. The National Society of Film Critics came out last week and I haven’t commented on it yet. The NSFC awards are my favorite. They are the most eccentric and esoteric and the group usually make the best decisions, or closest to the best, when it comes to the best of the year. But their impact on the Academy Award nominations are usually pretty nil.

They went along with many major award groups and gave The Hurt Locker best of the year along with best actor and director. The Hurt Locker is expected to get a best picture and director nom as it is. However, the win for Jeremy Renner can’t hurt. It will keep reminding people about his performance as they read those Please Consider… ads. The best actress went to Yolando Moreau for Seraphine. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to conceive she will receive a best actress nomination though she, along with Tilda Swinton for Julia who also won’t get a nom, gave the best performances of the year. Best supporting actor and actress went to the usual suspects: Christophe Waltz and Mo’Nique, both of whom are suppose to win the Oscars. The interesting thing here is that Waltz tied with Paul Schneider who gave a great performance in Bright Star. But supporting actor is a tight race and it’s unlikely this will help Schneider make the list.

It does look like I’ll have to remove Nine from my list of possible contenders. It just seems to do nothing but lose buzz. I will now replace it with An Education. Emily Blunt is getting good reviews for Young Victoria, but the buzz isn’t there so I will replace her with Sandra Bullock for the Blind Side. I will add Jeremy Renner to my best actor list. Everything else stays the way it is as of now.


Below is an excellent little article from on what may be the most vulnerable of the potential best picture nominees. I agree with his analysis except that I think it’s a pretty gone conclusion, even before now, that The Last Station and The Lovely Bones weren’t going to make it. Invictus is a hard call because everybody seems to buy into the myth that Eastwood always gets a nomination when in actuality he doesn’t. The list doesn’t include Up, which is vulnerable if people decide to only nominate it in the animation category. Nine is a hard call because I suspect that when an audience sees it, they like it; the problem is that they’re having a hard time getting an audience to see it; but that’s what screeners are for. In addition, I think Weinstein is part of this and the lesson is never count Weinstein out.

WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH KIDS TODAY: Reviews of An Education and La Mission

An Education, the film based on the memoir by Lynn Barber about her growing up and being deflowered in London in the 1960’s, is like The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, but without Brodie (or at least the romantic life force of that character, here replaced with the more down to earth Miss Stubbs—even her name says it all). Carey Mulligan plays Jenny, who, like the girls in …Brodie is being highly educated, though it’s a bit unclear why since all they are expected to do is get married. Jenny wants to experience life; her conservative father (played with incredible drollness by Alfred Molina) doesn’t understand what there is about life that is worth experiencing. Jenny meets David (played by Peter Sarsgaard with a remarkable British accent), a handsome young man who introduces her to culture and dog racing and takes her to Paris, whereupon he takes her virginity. She then finds out he’s married and with her tail between her legs, she crawls back to the girl’s school she dropped out of and begs to be let back in (though it’s a little unclear how she did it). There is something a little off here. Theoretically, she’s supposed to have learned her lesson, but it’s unclear what that lesson is: not experience life because it might break your heart? Jenny is right in that what she learned through David is every bit as educational as what she was being taught in school (actually, more so). It’s not her fault he was married; if he wasn’t and she had gone off with him and lived happily ever after, traveling the world, going to concerts and museums, collecting art, would the lesson be to drop out of school and experience life? But no matter. This is still a wonderful film with an incredibly witty and sharp script by Nick (About a Boy) Hornby. Mulligan is pitch perfect as Jenny, a joy to behold. The whole movie, in fact, is a joy to behold.

La Mission is a very sincere, very earnest film, one of those movies described as having its heart in the right place. Benjamin Bratt plays Che Rivera, a very macho Hispanic with very conservative macho values living in a very macho section of San Francisco. He’s very macho, an ex-convict, now covered with tattoos and working on cars he takes low riding once a week. Che’s life starts to fall apart when he finds out Jesse, his straight A son, is gay. They have fisticuffs and Che throws him out of the house. Slowly, the two find their way back to each other, but not until Jesse is shot by some gang bangers, Che threatens Jesse’s lover and Jesse leaves for Los Angeles to go to college. There’s nothing wrong with the movie. As I said, it’s very sincere, as sincere as Che is macho. And though the story takes place within a subset of America, its theme is universal. Of course, that’s also one of the problems. It’s so universal, it’s basically no different than the hundreds of other films that have come before it with the same topic and structured according to the same formula. The background may be different, but everything else is incredibly familiar. The structure is also a bit lopsided. So much of the story is devoted to Che, that Jesse’s story gets lost here and there and doesn’t seem to exist on its own but only to reveal Che’s character. There’s one scene that has potential, but doesn’t go there. When Che comes looking for Jesse who left the hospital after Che threatened Jesse’s lover (a very white and non-Hisptanic lover), Jesse goes to stay with his lover in the very upper middle class house of the lover’s very white parents. Che arrives and sees two Hispanic workers taking care of the garden. Visually this has tons to say, none of which the script (by the director Peter Bratt) explores. There is actually something a little uncomfortable in the author saying that upper middle class whites would have no problem with their son’s gay lover coming from a working class Hispanic background, but Bratt’s character can’t even accept his son being gay. In the end, the strongest aspect of the movie is the director’s success at creating the milieu of the characters. But the movie Quinceanera is more successful covering some of the some themes and ideas.