Monday, July 7, 2008

7. The Savages

Thank the Lord for films like these! Tamara Jenkin's wonderfully scripted masterpiece consists of an all-star cast lead by two of the greatest actors of this generation: Laura Linney (nominated for oscar, Best Actress) and Philip Seymour Hoffman. This is PSH's third really GREAT movie of 2007 (others being Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and Charlie Wilson's War). This movie is far more than just a comedy about the awkwardness of life and the fate that seems to control ours. It was great to see such originality out of a script and the actors. This film is all about coming-of-age... again. The middle-age version of Sixteen Candles, but trust me when I tell you this, this movie will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will make you just want more. In case you don't understand what I am trying to say, because it is so hard to describe the great quirkiness of the film, I will say it simply like this: I LOVE THIS MOVIE!

* * * *

::Academy Awards - Best Actress in a Leading Role (Laura Linney), Best Original Screenplay (Tamara Jenkins)
::Golden Globe Awards - Best Actor in a Leading Role-Musical or Comedy (Philip Seymour Hoffman)
::Nilsson Awards - Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Laura Linney), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Philip Bosco), Best Original Screenplay (Tamara Jenkins), Best Cast, Best Original Score

RATED R for some sexuality and language.

Monday, June 30, 2008

8. I'm Not There

I am quite literally speechless when it comes to this movie. Having six very distinct characters portraying different aspects of one mans life may sound confusing, impossible, or maybe to us who have seen the film, spectacular. Why do I love this movie so much? There are quite a few reasons, for one, CATE BLANCHETT. I have never seen such a performance by an actress, her character, Jude, represents Bob Dylan after he becomes famous. Her drugged-up, calm, cool, jittery... and perfect portrayal of Dylan is why I still watch movies and why I believe that Hollywood is still spitting out promise. She's not the only one in the film who made an impression on me, this is one of Heath Ledger's final movies before he died, and what a movie to be in. I have never seen such passion from such a stone-faced character. Other performances pulled the movie to the height at which I love, newbie Marcus Carl Franklin plays the young boy of Bob Dylan, who proves that he's going to be the next Dakota Fanning or Abigail Breslin of Hollywood (watch out for Saoirse Ronan though, review to follow). Another actor to be talked about is the ever wonderful Richard Gere, who hits another home-run (after winning my heart in Chicago). Others in this ensemble cast must be talked about, but I only have so many words. So onto the second reason why I love this movie (not to be repetitious after my Sweeney Todd review, but...) its ARTISTIC QUALITY. Like another favorite of mine, Across the Universe, this movie is technically spectacular! A real knockout when it comes to beauty. It is hard to describe how much I loved the direction in this movie and how much I learned from it, but again, I only have so much space. So finally, the third reason--because all good things come in threes (like LOTR), the MUSIC. Bob Dylan classics blend with new spectacular voices (such as Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová from Once) and a wonderful score that moves the movie through each stage. The only bad thing I can say about this film is that there wasn't enough time to see everything I wanted to see which may have made some of the stories a little unnecessary in the way that they just brought confusion to the film. I would call this hyperlink cinema, though I am no expert, but all the different people come together in one way or another, but what do I know?

* * * ^

::Golden Globe Awards - Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett)
::Nilsson Awards - Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett--tied with Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton)

::Academy Awards - Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett)
::BAFTA Awards - Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett)
::SAG Awards - Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett)
::Nilsson Awards - Best Cinematography, Best Compiled Soundtrack

RATED R for language, some sexuality, and nudity

9. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Compelling, sure. Provocative, definitely. Amazing? Not as much. Johnny Depp stars as the barber-gone-murderer after his wife is taken away from him and his daughter is locked away. Maybe I had too high of expectations for this film, but this ex-broadway musical isn't all the original was. Maybe the revival version had a different feel than the original show, but coming from a theater background I was utterly disappointed in Depp. All I heard when he was cast was "Johnny Depp singing? Where?!" And sure, he sang and murdered people, but his seriousness in the character got the best of him. The character of Sweeney Todd is darkly amusing, a mix of horror and comedy, making him all the more pleasurable. Sweeney is like Hannibal Lector meets the Joker (can't wait to see Heath Ledger in that). So without to much focus on Johnny Depp's dead pan acting, we'll move on to Helena Bonham Carter, who is one of my favorite actresses alive today (catch her creepiness in the Harry Potter series, many actors from that also star in Sweeney). Carter had the character right, a truly loving murderess, creepy and humorous, a deadly duo. She may have saved the entire movie, if it were not for her singing. In one song I didn't even realize she was singing until it became a shouting chorus. Paired with Johnny Depp's untrained vocals, the movie was lacking in the right musicality and strength. Perhaps only two things saved this movie. One being funny man Sacha Baron Cohen's STELLAR performance (if only it had lasted longer). I did not even recognize Cohen at first who took the stage and stole the scene from Depp, what a feat for the slapstick comedian responsible for such garbage as Borat. Some of the cast in the ensemble fare well with me, like H.P.'s own Timothy Spall as Beadle and Alan Rickman as the Judge. Aside from the cast, there was one other major boost for the film, and that was its artistic qualities. For a movie to be amazing you need it to be set up like a painting, take a tip from movies such as this, Julie Taymor's Across the Universe, and I'm Not There (review to follow). It's hard to comprehend how someone could make murder and SO much blood artwork, but Sweeney Todd will be always remembered by me for its fabulous scenery and grim color schemes. Overall, I think the Golden Globes got it wrong this year.

* * _ _

::Academy Awards - Best Art Direction
::Golden Globe Awards - Best Actor-Musical or Comedy (Johnny Depp), BEST PICTURE-MUSICAL OR COMEDY
::Nilsson Awards - Best Art Direction

::Academy Awards - Best Costume Design, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Johnny Depp)
::Golden Globe Awards - Best Director, Best Actress in a Leading Role-Musical or Comedy
::BAFTA Awards - Best Costume Design, Best Hair and Make-Up
::Nilsson Awards - Best Director, Best Costume Design, Best Set Decoration, Best Make-Up and Hair, Best Original Soundtrack

RATED R for graphic bloody violence.

10. La Vie En Rose (La Môme)

I want you to try, just try, to not love this film. A few months ago, it was just another film on my list of 2007 Academy Award nominated films, but now it is not only my personal top 10 list, but also America's top 10 list. This says a lot for a film entirely in French. The most shocking aspect of the film, however, is Marion Cotillard (her awards are listed at the bottom) who portrays Édith Piaf, the fabulous French singer who stormed through America. It is such a complex character, and Cotillard handles the role like any professional. The rest of the cast adds a certain feel to the entire film, including Emmanuelle Seigner, who plays Titne, young Édith's surrogate mother. Aside from the spectacular acting, something must be said for the director, Olivier Dahan, who brings fresh ideas into the overcrowded minds of America. And not to be cliché with an entire review of segues, but this film became the third top grossing French film in America (following Amelie and Brotherhood of the Wolf). This film makes me entirely speechless and is a very large step for musical filmmaking both foreign and English. This movie deserves all the praise it gets and gets my own, two thumbs way up for Marion Cotillard!

* * * ^ (three and a half/four)

::Academy Awards - Best Actress in a Leading Role (Marion Cotillard), Best Make-Up
::Golden Globe Awards - Best Actress in a Leading Role-Musical or Comedy (Marion Cotillard)
::BAFTA Awards - Best Actress in a Leading Role (Marion Cotillard), Best Music, Best Make-Up and Costume Design
::Nilsson Awards - Best Actress in a Leading Role (Marion Cotillard)

::Academy Awards - Best Costume Design
::BAFTA Awards - Best Film Not in the English Language
::SAG Awards - Best Actress in a Leading Role (Marion Cotillard)
::Nilsson Awards - Best Supporting Actress (Emmanuelle Seigner), Best Foreign Language Film, Best Costume Design, Best Make-Up and Hair, Best Original Soundtrack

RATED PG-13 for substance abuse, sexual content, brief nudity, language and thematic elements.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Top 10 Films of 2007

This is not a double post, but instead, it's a compilation. C.D. NIlsson has worked very hard on creating these lists based on five components. He decided all the categories (other than best film) based on nominations and wins for not a specific person or category, but instead on the film, say acting by actresses, as a whole. These nominations and wins are conceived from the four major film awards (Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Nilsson Awards). He then used these as point systems and generated points here, and then added in the factor of the most nominations (and wins) for films as best pictures. So without further ado, here is the lists of 2007, in order of importance (somewhat):

1. Atonement
2. Across the Universe
3. Juno
4. I'm Not There
5. Sweeney Todd

1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
2. No Country for Old Men
3. Atonement
4. There Will Be Blood

1. Juno
2. Michael Clayton
3. I'm Not There
4. The Savages
5. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

1. La Vie En Rose
2. Juno
3. Atonement
4. Away From Her
5. I'm Not There

1. There Will Be Blood
2. Michael Clayton
3. No Country for Old Men
4. The Savages
5. Sweeney Todd

1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
2. There Will Be Blood
3. No Country for Old Men
4. Juno
5. Sweeney Todd

BEST FILM (according to nominations):
1. Atonement
2. No Country for Old Men
3. There Will Be Blood
4. Juno
5. Michael Clayton
6. American Gangster
7. Sweeney Todd
8. The Savages
9. Across the Universe
10. Charlie Wilson's War
----honorable mentions (in order)
Eastern Promises
The Great Debaters

BEST FILM (according to other list numbers)
1. Juno (14)
2. There Will Be Blood (13)
3. Atonement (11)
4. No Country for Old Men (10)
5. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (10)
6. Michael Clayton (8)
7. I'm Not There (6)
8. La Vie En Rose (5)
9. The Savages (4)
10. Across the Universe (4)
----honorable mentions (in order)
Away From Her (3)
Sweeney Todd (3)
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (1)

and finally..... the top 10 films of 2007:

Across the Universe (5)
Away From Her (3)
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (1)
Charlie Wilson's War (1)


10. La Vie En Rose (5)
9. Sweeney Todd (6)
8. I'm Not There (6)
7. The Savages (6)
6. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (10)
5. Michael Clayton (14)
4. No Country for Old Men (19)
3. Atonement (21)
2. Juno (21)
1. There Will Be Blood (21)


Monday, May 12, 2008

YAY!! I got to interview C.D. Nilsson!!

I interviewed C.D. Nilsson on 5/9 :) here's how it went down.

-So, what qualifies you to start an awards ceremony?
::Wow, you just get right into it, don't you? [we laugh] I've always been into filmmaking and have independently studied it for a while. I mean, I just started the awards, it was just a little thing between friends and I can't believe how much it has grown. I think how well-rounded my experience is in the industry qualifies me as a judge alone, but the entire awards committee has many more experienced personnel on it.

-How did you pick the committee?
::It really started as a sort of a really small thing. The committee really has just evolved, people recommending others, me having to screen everyone [he sighs] sometimes it I think that I am just blessed by some people who are on it.

-Can you name some people on the committee for me?
::I'm sorry to make this entire interview so drab, but those names are confidential. I decided when it started expanding to keep it private, a lot of the people agreed, saying that they don't want anyone campaigning and they don't want to be recognized for any work they do. They really are just in it for the love of film. Of course, they have complete freedom to let anyone know that they, personally are on the committee, and I will endorse that, but most people think the same, it is easier without people knowing.

-Anything new for the 2009 awards?
::Oh, I am looking forward to those! The committee is so divrse that we are starting to think that we are qualified enough to decide for other categories, so I am very excited to announce our new ones!

-Can we get a list?
::I was getting to that! [we laugh] The new category for film is an honorary award (which may change) called the Best Artistic Film.

-Artistic film? Like "Art Direction" [(another category)]
::More like a Best Picture award, but for an art film. It is unlike Best Foreign Film and Best Independent Film by the way that the nominated films can also win Best Picture.

-So what else?
::We are adding a Television section. The categories include: Best Comedy, Best Drama, Best Actor in a Comedy, Best Actress in a Comedy, Best Actor in a Drama, Best Actress in a Drama, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Reality Gameshow, Best Host, Best Daytime Talkshow, Best Nightime Talkshow, Best Cinematography, Best Music, and so many others. Most of these will be from network channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, CW, FOX) but also some cable channels, (though these are limited, FX, USA, Bravo, TNT).

-Wow that's a lot of new stuff! How do you plan to monitor everything?
::I mean that's not even it! We are adding music categories: Best R&B Album, Best R&B Artist(s), Best R&B Single, Best Country Album, Best Country Artist(s), Best Country Single, Best Rock/Metal Album, Best Rock/Metal Artist(s), Best Rock/Metal Single, Best Misc. Album, Best Misc. Artist(s), Best Misc. Single, Best Music Video, Best New Artist, and others. But to get back to your question [we laugh] it is all just like for film. I and a group of about five others create a list of films to be considered in the categories, these are usually confirmed by critics and stuff [(you can read below post about the process)]... It really comes down to the committee.

-So, you have a busy schedule, but I really just wanted to ask what is next for you OUTSIDE the awards?
::Actually I am still writing, which is taking a lot of my time. I am just juggling tasks and hoping everything works out.

It was great to talk to him and learn more about what is to come. He promised me more interviews in the future....

Saturday, May 10, 2008

History of the Awards

These awards began in 2001 by Curtis Dunn (C.D. Nilsson). Not much is known about the awards, being so new, but Curtis Dunn is a well-known movie reviewer. The awards have only been announced through mailing lists in the past and by word of mouth. Now, however, I have been chosen, by Mr. Nilsson, to announce the awards on this page! I hope to buy a domain and to start making this a larger event. Curtis plans to start broadcasting on radio, mainly in the state of CT within the next couple of years. Also, 2010 will mark the first year for him to choose the best in television.

"We like to make it more artistic than most. A lot of the time this means rooting for the underdogs."

Curtis Dunn was quoted, talking about what was different from his awards from the Academy Awards or Golden Globes.

"Many people have asked me what happened in nomination and selection. For the past couple of years this has been a secretive process, but I would like others to know about the fairness and notability of our awards."

He also reacts to some speculations about why he created the awards. He explains how the nominations were originally by a small group of avid movie-goers, tight companions and fellow reviewers, who chose the nominations. It now also depends on what other more "mainstream" movie critics say about the movies.

"We basically take a LONG list of movies and watch the ones that relate to each category. For example, if multiple critics say that "Movie A" has bad acting, we may skip over that movie."

Many awards ceremonies announce there nominees before Curtis, this helps the team narrow down who makes the cut. After that, a larger, more broad arrangement of critics and normal people count as 75% of the vote to who wins. The other 25% is back to the committee to review what big name critics say about the movies chosen for nomination. After that Curtis Dunn organizes these and then announces them through mailing lists and some small-town magazines.

C.D. Nilsson hopes to expand upon the awards and become more well-known within the next ten years.