AND THEY ROUND ANOTHER CORNER: NSCF and the Oscars


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.

WILL NINE OR HURT LOCKER WIN, PLACE OR SHOW?


The Envelope had an interesting article on whether box office affects a picture’s chances of winning. They focus on The Hurt Locker (which is doing okay, but is more a critic’s darling so far) and Nine (which is not doing well, at least in smaller locales). The premise in the article is a bit off, though, for the Hurt Locker. It was never that likely that Hurt Locker would win best picture, but only be nominated, and it’s not because of box office. I do think the Academy members are looking for something a little lighter this year (Up in the Air). The Hurt Locker will be nominated, which shouldn’t be hurt by it’s box office. Nine is something else. No one really expected The Hurt Locker to be a blockbuster at the box office, but people did for Nine and so it’s poor showing could have an effect on voters. At the same time, this is a Weinstein property and never count out the Weinsteins. If the general public isn’t spending a lot of money on it, but the Academy viewers like it when they see it, it could still get nominations. And the Weinsteins are brilliant at getting people to see their films (rumor has it that if you are in a retreat in the Himalayas, they will hunt you down and show you the film). So, Nine still has a chance, but it is getting a bit dimmer.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/season/2009/12/from-avatar-to-nine-can-boxoffice-affect-oscar-chances-by-pete-hammond.html

AND THEY’RE ROUNDING THE FIRST CORNER: New York Film Critics announce their winners


The New York Film Critics announced their awards yesterday. Though they don’t influence the Oscars a great deal, they can add to the buzz and help voters remember possible nominees they may have forgotten. But it’s hard to say that the NYFC will be doing much of that this year in the top categories (since it has now become somewhat clear, though still a little vague, that the picture, directing and acting awards are more or less decided), though there are a couple of possibilities in the other categories.

The Hurt Locker once again won best picture and director, but I still contend that the Oscar voters will go for the less in your face Up In The Air, since it’s topical and not as heavy as the last couple of winners, Slumdog Millionaire and No Country for Old Men. Best pictures genres often run in cycles and I think something a tad lighter is due to take home the gold. George Clooney won the NYFC acting award (for two movies, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Up in the Air), but it still looks like a Jeff Bridges career achievement year. Meryl Street, Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique won the others, which will probably mirror the Academy Awards.

The two areas where NYFC might be of help to potential nominees is that In the Loop (perhaps the best writing of the year) won for best screenplay and since there are ten nominees for screenplay at the Oscars (original and adapted), this may very well help remind the voters. It was also runner up for the Los Angeles Film Critics award. Also to be noted is the win of The White Ribbon for cinematography in both the NYFC and LAFCA, which may help translate to Oscar noms (assuming it will be eligible; I’ve been told it’s going to open the last day of the year and unless it’s played for a week in either LA or New York, it shouldn’t be eligible for anything but foreign language film).

I was also excited to see that the NYFC awarded Of Time and the City, Terence Davies wonderful portrait of his home city, Liverpool, through found footage, best non-fiction film (no longer always called documentary because too many people are expanding what the term documentary means). Also Summer Hours, the beautiful French film, won best foreign film for both NYFC and LAFCA, but since it’s not the French foreign language film entry (The Prophet is), that won’t make any difference.

Today, the Golden Globes were announced, but I have to talk to my best friend Jerry first before commenting on that. Also, Wed. or Thurs. I’ll start listing what I think are going to be the nominees, unless I suddenly find myself with time on my hands and do it earlier.

MEN AT WAR: Reviews of Star Trek and The Hurt Locker


Star Trek 2009 is probably the best interpretation of that sic-fi concept to date, including the original series (and I was there for the very first one with Shatner and Nimoy, so there). The writers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, achieved this through very simple means: they make Kirk a rebel without a cause with daddy issues and Spock an uptight nerd with mommy issues (you know, a variation of the character Sheldon Cooper as played Jim Parsons on the Big Bang Theory). Who knew creating back stories could be so fun? But when all is said and done, the most brilliant addition to the Star Trek mythology is to make Uhura and Spock an item; this alone will earn Orci and Kurtzman their place in sci-fi history. The movie is entertaining and moves at a good pace, except whenever Leonard Nimoy is on board. The poor guy is saddled with what seems a ton of exposition; in addition, he speaks as slowly as David Carradine did in Kill Bill, II, not a good role model. Eric Bana’s also on board in a role he seems to think is one of those bad guys that can change the course of an actor’s career; he’s perfectly fine, but no one’s going to remember him here.

The Hurt Locker is probably Kathryn Bigelow’s best film since Near Dark mainly because she doesn’t over direct in an effort to distract everyone from the silliness of the screenplays she usually has to deal with (End of Days or Point Blank anyone?). Though the story by Mark Boal takes place in Iraq, it’s not about Iraq. It’s a character study of an adrenaline junky played frighteningly well by Jeremy Renner. It has all the intensity of waiting for a bomb to go off, which is probably appropriate given the subject matter. The structure’s a tad off; it begins with one central character (played by Anthony Mackie), but then switches horses to focus on Renner. But outside of that, it’s perhaps the best American made film of the year so far.