Criterion spill their guts (har har har)

Here’s some interesting viral marketing that some people who work for the Criterion Collection has been spreading all over the web.  I’ve been waiting and waiting for this film to get a DVD release! 

I can’t even wait!

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Finally My Top Ten Films of the Decade

10. “Gangs of New York” – 2002 . Dir. Martin Scorsese. With Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, John C. Reilly, Brendan Gleeson and Liam Neeson.

“I took the father, now I’ll take the son.”

I consider “Gangs” to be one of Martin Scorsese’s masterpieces. It is a tremendously flawed film with DiCaprio miscast (I have always said Colin Farrell would have been perfect in the role) and a horrid performance by Diaz. What saves this film from the utter nightmare it could have been is Daniel Day-Lewis who gives a performance that competes with his portrayal of Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood”. The fact that Day-Lewis lost to Adrian Brody for “The Pianist” still befuddles me. Day-Lewis carries this entire film, and the way he relentlessly delivers his lines of dialogue is perfect. Some of the lines Bill the Butcher Cutting says have stuck with me since I saw the film the day it was released (Christmas ’02).

The opening battle on the streets of New York is a remarkable display of Scorsese’s vision. The bulk of the battle was shot at 12fps which created this jarringly unsettling view. Peter Gabriel’s “Signal to Noise” is playing during this scene, and it screeches and tears your eardrums apart while you hear the clashing of rusty weapons and blood curdling screams.

Scorsese had been trying to make this film since the 1970’s and it’s apparent when the script was written. The film deals with racism and the opposition of war (Vietnam). The opposition of the draft, and the rage and contempt that Bill the Butcher holds against the “blackies” or “darkies” deals with the racial challenges America still has today.

This is a very personal project of Scorsese’s (much unlike his latest “Shutter Island”). I feel that this is his most personal work in recent years, and his follow-ups “The Departed” and “Shutter Island” lack the authenticity and personal feel that he is so respected for. “Aviator” came extremely close, but at times it feels like Scorsese is trying a little too hard.

The performances the supporting cast gives is phenomenal. Brendan Gleeson and Liam Neeson deliver solidly as usual. John C. Reilly (who was in three best picture nominees that year, “Gangs”, “The Hours” and “Chicago” and was nominated for Best Supporting for “Chicago”) gives his last good performance. I understand that he’s riding the gravy train right now with “Dewy Cox” and “Step Brothers”, but I hope that he gets back to his acting roots like he displayed in PT Anderson films.

Martin Scorsese is the greatest living director, and one of the best directors who have ever sat behind the camera. His personal films are touching and heartfelt, and they are films that I cannot live without. I absolutely love “Gangs of New York” and defend its flawed honor for the rest of my life.

9. “A History of Violence” – 2005. Dir. David Cronenberg. With Viggo Mortenson, Maria Bello, Ed Harris and William Hurt.

“You were always a problem for me Joey. When Mom brought you home from the hospital – I tried to strangle you in your crib – she wacked the daylights out of me.”

After seeing this film in theaters, I was rendered speechless. I was so taken by the film. This film is David Cronenberg’s masterpiece. The film is broken up into amazing segments with great transitions. The film starts off with chaotic violence, and transitions to a peaceful homestead of the Stalls. It’s a melodramatic feel as we see Tom Stall (Mortienson) run his small diner. It isn’t until the bad men from the opening wander into Stall’s Diner and are about to kill everyone in there – then Tom Stall springs to action in a heroic yet over the top execution of the two men.

What strikes me about this film is that what Cronenberg is trying to tell us is that you can never change who you actually are. You can mask it, hide it, keep it in remission but you cannot change your primal urges, and for Tom Stall (Joey Cussak) it is to kill. Tom/Joey started a new life, got married and had a family, and it was only a matter of time before his deep soaked past caught up with him.

William Hurt gives the second best performance of his career and one of the best performances of the decade as Tom/Joey’s older brother Richie. He is the final trial that Tom/Joey has to overcome before he can try and return home, and pick up the pieces of his shattered life. Hurt is sadistically evil in the film, and the way Cronenberg shoots the scene is phenomenal. The eye light that Hurt’s character displays gives him this menacing sparkle and his delivery of lines are monumental. He is the triumph of the film, and I equate his part of the film to that of Martin Sheen finally meeting Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now”. This film is remarkable and flawless.

8. “A Serious Man” – 2009. Dir. Joel and Ethan Coen. With Michael Stuhlbarg, Fred Melamed and Richard Kind.

“I’m a serious man, Larry.”

This is one of the most mind boggling films I have ever seen. It affected me as deeply as “Antichrist” did with the films themes and symbolism that I still have a hard time grasping. I have watched the film a couple of times since I had originally seen it, and one thing is for certain, it is the Coen’s masterpiece. What they display and what they try and achieve in this film is so mind bending that I can’t get the film out of my head.

The film has a basic plot. Larry is a simple man who is a teacher, husband and father trying to raise his family according to his Jewish faith. His wife then leaves him for his best friend, his doctor has urgent news for him, his jobless brother is wanted by the police, his son is a pot head, and his daughter wants a nose job. This all sounds funny, and it is. It’s hysterical in a very dark and disturbing manor. Everything that will go wrong in Larry’s life does – triple fold.

I also like the way this film snuck its way into the main stream. The film was made after “Burn After Reading” and before their upcoming “True Grit”. It’s an extremely small and personal film by the Coen’s and you won’t recognize any actors in the film aside from Richard Kind. It is a generic and faceless template that the Coen’s lay for us – just so they can flip the universe on top of us, and make us think. This is one of the most challenging films I have ever seen.

7. “The Door in the Floor” – 2005. Dir. Tod Williams. With Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger and Jon Foster.

“Turn off the light Eddie, the story is much better in the dark.”


“The Door in the Floor” deliverers a tour-de-force of dramatic power and is filled with rich and heartbroken characters. Jeff Bridges gives the BEST performance of his career. I know everyone loves “Crazy Heart”, but see this film. Jeff Bridges rivals my personal favorite performances of Daniel Day-Lewis in “My Left Foot”, “Gangs of New York” and “There Will Be Blood” and Roy Scheider in “All That Jazz”. This is a film that will seep into your soul and will never let you go.

It is a remarkable feat to create a film of this magnitude and still keep the audience from walking out. It is one of the most underappreciated films ever made, and the absolute raw power and beauty it holds is mind blowing.
It is an emotionally draining film, but with the delivery of Bridges and Basinger, the blows are lighter and lighter.

You don’t have a soul if “The Door in the Floor” doesn’t break your heart. Watching this film overwhelms me with so much emotion that it is hard for me to take. After watching this film, I consume myself with writing, and it allows me to channel my inner emotions that I have repressed, and allows them to flourish onto paper. Anyone who is important to me in my life, I share this film with.


6. “In the Mood for Love” – 2000. Dir. Kar Wai Wong. With Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung.

“In the old days, if someone had a secret they didn’t want to share… you know what they did?”

“No idea.”

“They went up a mountain, found a tree, carved a hole in it, and whispered the secret into the hole. Then they covered it with mud. And leave the secret there forever.”

This is the most beautiful and romantic film to come from world cinema this past decade. It is a film that transcends language and culture and brings the raw pain and beauty of love to our attention. This film hits on all cylinders with its writing, directing, acting, cinematography and editing. The narrative is linear yet non linear. The entire film is a beautiful showboat of love. The film dazzles you until the remarkable ending that leaves your floored.

This film inspires me each time that I see it. The music in this film is the best usage of music in film that I have ever seen. This entire film captivates you, and holds you in its grasp so tightly that you cannot escape, you cannot turn your head away because the film commands your attention. This film is truly beautiful and you need to see it as soon as you can.

Out of all the 10’s that I have given to films, this film breaks the grading scale and is an 11.

5. “American Psycho” – 2000. Dir. Mary Harron. With Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Samantha Morton, Jared Leto, Reese Witherspoon and Willem Dafoe.

“I feel as if my mask of sanity is about to slip.”

This is one of the best adaptations of any novel I have ever seen. The novel is a fantastic story of an apathetic character that has no identifiable human emotions aside from disgust and greed. The film excels in its faithful adaptation of bringing one of the richest characters in fictional history to life. Christian Bale gives the performance of his career as Patrick Bateman, a self sufficient Wall Street executive that has a deep rooted blood lust. His character has no emotion but slides his mask on and completely blends into the crowd of elites he has embedded himself in.

The film greatly portrayals how self consumed we all are with money and materialistic items. Patrick Bateman is the embodiment of the American Dream, he is what our society of capitalism and MTV has constructed. There has been much speculation upon the ending of the film. Was Patrick Bateman really a killer – or did he make it all up, or was it just a dream? *SPOILER* If you do not want me to ruin it for you, skip to the next film. The producers force Harron to make the ending more ambiguous, because the fact of the matter is that Patrick Bateman did do all those terrible things that we saw him do, and hear him talk about. The punch line of the entire film is that no one cared. Everyone was so consumed with themselves that they could care less about Paul Allen, or the prostitutes that he tortures. The only thing that they cared about was themselves. Except for Detective Kimble (Willem Dafoe), who knows who Patrick Bateman is all along…



4. “Antichrist” – 2009. Dir. Lars von Trier. With Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg

“What do you think is supposed to happen in the woods?”

See my gushing review of “Antichrist” by clicking this.

3. “Brokeback Mountain” – 2005. Dir. Ang Lee. With Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway and Randy Quaid.

“You don’t know nothin’ about that!”

Can we get past the homophobic aura around this film? Thanks. This is a near perfect film. The cinematography is the best I had ever seen until the wham bam of “A

Single Man” and “Antichrist”

. Heath Ledger gives his best performance, and one of the best performances I have ever seen. I understand he was great as the Joker, but as Enis Delmar he was perfect. There wasn’t a thing he could have changed about his character.

This is one of the greatest love stories that I have ever seen. It’s trying and intimate film that I will hold dear to my heart forever. It is truly one of the best films I have ever seen. It’s a film about true love, and how love has zero boundaries. Love can transcend gender, race, religion – every obstacle that is thrown at us can be overcome by love. It is a vital part of our existence, and we need to hold onto it and cherish it. This is the pinnacle of art, and its beauty. This film is a landmark of perfection in cinema. If the ending doesn’t tear your heart out and bring you to your knees, you are one cold and bitter motherfucker.

2. “There Will Be Blood” – 2008. Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson. With Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano.

“I want you to tell me you are a false prophet and God is a superstation.”

“Drainage Eli! Drrrraaaaaiiiinnnnaaaaggggeeee!” This film is the masterpiece of all masterpieces – ranking up there with “Citizen Kane” and “The Wild Bunch”. Paul Thomas Anderson does an unbelievable feat: directing Daniel Day-Lewis for over two and a half hours. This is the biggest tour-de-force performance that I have ever seen. Day-Lewis is in every single scene of the film (accept one or two) and he draws your attention, he grabs you and won’t let you go. Period.

The character he plays is the most evil character I have ever seen. He’s much like Patrick Bateman, but worse. Plainview would stand and watch the world burn just to insure that no one is better then him. His ambition for greed overwhelms you and it frightens you with every breath he takes.

What adds to DDL’s command performance is the shrilling original score by Radio Head’s Johnny Greenwood. The sounds of these ambient noises that are clashed together makes you jump and squirm in your seat as you watch Plainview slash and burn everything and everyone in his path.

This is the greatest performance I have ever seen. The entire film is stacked upon his shoulders. There is no way out but in, and once the gargantuan climax is over with the scream of “I’m finished!” So are we. Thank goodness.

“A Single Man” – 2009. Dir. Tom Ford. Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Mathew Goode.

“Just get through the goddamn day.”

This film is the “Citizen Kane” of our generation. It wasn’t acknowledged at all by the Academy, aside for a Best Actor nomination for Colin Firth (who should have won, I’m sorry Mr. Bridges!). This is an extremely personal film for fashion tycoon Tom Ford. The camera movements, the flow of the film – editing, the pace – is as if it is a beautiful song that soaks up your emotions and displays them on screen.

This film has such a deep personal meaning to me – words cannot describe. Putting my bias aside, this film will become a staple of our generation. It is a true triumph of filmmaking and it is the pure essence of beauty. Tom Ford had no experience in filmmaking prior to making this film, and it is as if he’s channeling Stanley Kubrick in the way he paces the film, the way he shoots the film, the color scheme.

This film is deeply moving and thought provoking. This is the best thing that I have ever seen on film. I am truly in awe of Tom Ford and of his beautiful film.

Honorable Mentions:  “No Country for Old Men”, “The Devil’s Rejects”, “The Contender”, “Sideways”, “Watchmen”, “Insomnia” and “The Dark Knight”.

And the Nominees should be…

This is MY personal Oscar nominations. Hate them or love them, but let me know what you think! The asterisk represents what I think should be the overall winner.

Best Picture:

  • Antichrist
  • Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
  • Inglorious Basterds
  • A Serious Man
  • A Single Man *

    If you’re pressing me for ten:

    • Watchmen
    • The Road
    • The Hurt Locker
    • Avatar
    • Nine

Best Director

  • Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” (even though I think it’s overrated, it’s still a very good movie and does deserve a nomination of this kind)
  • Joel & Ethan Coen for “A Serious Man”
  • Tom Ford for “A Single Man” *
  • Quentin Tarantino for “Inglorious Basterds”
  • Lars von Trier for “Antichrist”

Best Actor:

  • Jeff Bridges for “Crazy Heart”
  • Nicholas Cage for “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”
  • Willem Dafoe for “Antichrist”
  • Daniel Day-Lewis for “Nine”
  • Colin Firth for “A Single Man” *

Best Actress:

  • Charlotte Gainsbourg for “Antichrist” *
  • Melanie Laurent for “Inglorious Basterds”
  • Eva Mendez for “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”
  • Carey Mulligan for “An Education”
  • Meryl Streep for “Julie & Julia”

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Mathew Goode for “A Single Man”
  • Collin Farrell for “Crazy Heart”
  • Brad Pitt for “Inglorious Basterds”
  • Stanley Tucci for “Julie & Julia”
  • Christoph Waltz for “Inglorious Basterds” *

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Marion Collitard for “Nine”
  • Judi Dench for “Nine”
  • Anna Kendrick for “Up in the Air”
  • Julianne Moore for “A Single Man” *
  • Mo’Nique for “Precious…blah blah blah”

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Joel & Ethan Coen for “A Serious Man” *
  • David Levien and Brian Koppelman for “The Girlfriend Experience”
  • Quentin Tarantino for “Inglorious Basterds”
  • Lars for Trier for “Antichrist”
  • Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber for “(500) Days of Summer”

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Tom Ford for “A Single Man” *
  • Michael Tolkin and Anthony Minghella for “Nine”
  • Joe Penhal for “The Road”
  • Jason Reitman for “Up in the Air”
  • David Hayter and Alex Tse for “Watchmen”*

Best Achievement in Cinematography:

  • “Antichrist” *
  • “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”
  • “Inglorious Basterds”
  • “The Hurt Locker”
  • “The Road”

Best Achievement in Editing:

  • “Antichrist”
  • “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”
  • “Inglorious Basterds”
  • “Nine” *
  • “A Single Man”

Best Achievement in Costume Design:

  • “Nine”
  • “The Road”
  • “Watchmen” *
  • “A Single Man”

Best Original Score:

  • “Antichrist”
  • “A Single Man” *
  • “The Road”
  • “The Hurt Locker”
  • “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”

NEW CATEGORIES THAT ARE NEEDED – Best Acting Ensemble:

  • “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”
  • “Inglorious Basterds” *
  • “A Serious Man”
  • “A Single Man”
  • “Watchmen”

Lifetime Achievement Award:

  • Roger Corman

Special Selection Award of Excellence:

  • Lars von Tier for “Antichrist”

That’s it for now. This is just what I think they should be – if the Academy had any balls what-so-ever!



Oscars: Predictions and Thoughts.

Best Picture Nominees:

I would first like to say that the fact the Academy decided to have ten Best Picture Nominees completely cheapens the award. I am disgusted that “The Blind Side” was nominated, but “Nine”, “The Road” and “A Single Man” weren’t. Also: “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”, “Antichrist” and “The Watchmen” are just as deserving but unrealistic. My theory for “Inglorious Basterds” winning the gold is that the Academy voters will split between “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker” and “Basterds” could eek by. If “The Hurt Locker” didn’t exist, “Avatar” would win hands down, and the same would go for “The Hurt Locker” if “Avatar” didn’t exist. I do also think that since that producer of “The Hurt Locker” sent out that mass email to the Academy voters saying they should vote for the small film instead of the 500 million dollar film will hurt their chances as with voters who had yet to cast their ballot. The Academy likes to be romanced and courted – not be told what to do. I just can’t see the Academy giving the most prestigious film award to a film that grossed a minimal amount of money. If “The Hurt Locker” does win, it will be the lowest grossing Best Picture winner of all time. “Basterds” is an interesting film, when I saw it in theaters I didn’t like it very much, I thought it was long and very extreme. It got mixed reviews at the time of its release too, but now everyone loves it. It won Best Ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild which is a somewhat odd barometer for Best Picture. When I purchased “Basterds” on DVD, I watched it over and over again. It holds up well to repeat viewings and is so goddamned enjoyable. I think that many people feel that Tarantino is long overdue for an Oscar, even though he already as an Original Screenplay Oscar for “Pulp Fiction”, but let’s face it, “Pulp Fiction” should have won everything 15 years ago. But, if critics ran the Oscars, “The Hurt Locker” would win hands down.

What I think will win: “Inglorious Basterds”

What should win (that’s nominated): “A Serious Man”

My personal pick: “A Single Man”

Best Director:

I like the nominees for best director. If you want to know what the “real” Best Picture Nominees are, just look at the five directors nominated. In a perfect world where I had a say, the Nominees would have been: Tom Ford, Quentin Tarantino, Joel & Ethan Coen, James Cameron and Rob Marshall.

Who I think will win: Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker”.

Who should win (that’s nominated): Quentin Tarantino for “Inglorious Basterds”.

My personal pick: Tom Ford for “A Single Man”

Best Actor:

Best actor seems to be a lock this year. The only upset I could see happening with this category would be Colin Firth. I am a HUGE Jeff Bridges fan, and I believe he is long overdue for an Oscar – but I don’t think he gave the best performance this year. The top four nominees had been set in stone with: Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Colin Firth and Morgan Freeman. The fifth, Jeremy Renner – who was very good in “The Hurt Locker” – isn’t as deserving for a Best Actor nomination as Daniel Day-Lewis (“Nine”) or Viggo Mortenson (“The Road”) or even Nicholas Cage (“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”). Cage did win the Toronto Film Critics Circle, which should count for something – right?

Who I think will win: Jeff Bridges for “Crazy Heart”.

Who should win (that’s nominated): Colin Firth for “A Single Man”.

My personal pick: Colin Firth for “A Single Man”.

Best Actress:

This has been the most interesting category as far as tracking goes this year. Meryl Streep seemed to have it in the bag – until she was blindsided by Sandra Bullock (I’m sorry, I had to do it…). I think this is the weakest category this year; Streep gives a very good performance, but not nearly as good as her previous performance in “Doubt”. Carey Mulligan was good in “An Education”, but the film itself left me bored and waiting for it to be over. I have not seen “The Blindside” – nor will I. I refuse to be pulled into this celebration of mediocre filmmaking that rests itself on pappy crap. Helen Mirren seems like the odd nomination here considering everything I’ve heard about “The Last Station” is that it’s a train wreck of a film but is brilliantly acted.

Who I think will win: Sandra Bullcok for “The Blindside”.

Who should win (that’s nominated): Meryl Streep for “Julie and Julia”.

My personal pick: Charlotte Gainsbourg for “Antichrist”.

Best Supporting Actor:

This category lacked acknowledging a few performances I would have liked to have seen nominations for: Mathew Goode for “A Single Man”, Jackie Earle Haley for “Watchmen”, Robert Duvall for “The Road” and Colin Farrell for “Crazy Heart”. The only one of those I thought might have grabbed that fifth spot would have been Duvall for “The Road”. I know he had minimal screen time in “The Road”, but the Academy loves supporting performances from well respected actors, think about it: Alan Arkin (“Little Miss Sunshine”), William Hurt (“A History of Violence”), Hal Holbrook (“Into the Wild”), James Coburn (“Affliction”) although I suppose this year it’s Christopher Plummer for “The Last Station”. I think Waltz is pretty much a lock, since he’s won every single award for his role in “Basterds”, but if anyone can beat him, it will be Plummer – and if Plummer does win, it will be strictly for merit for his long and distinguished career. One thing I would like to note is that Stanley Tucci is the only redeeming factor in “The Lovely Bones”, it’s a film that is wretchedly horrible. Tucci turned out two very good performances in “Bones” and “Julie and Julia”. I think his performances are equally as great, but he should have been nominated for “Julie and Julia” if only to be spiteful. I would have also liked to see Brad Pitt be nominated for “Basterds”.

Who I think will win: Christoph Waltz for “Inglorious Basterds”.

Who should win (that’s nominated): Christoph Waltz for “Inglorious Basterds”.

My personal pick: Christoph Waltz for “Inglorious Basterds”.

Best Supporting Actress:

This category has the lamest nominees, I’m sorry but it does. When Mo’Nique was acting like a diva a couple of months ago, and not promoting “Precious” and not showing up to collect her awards I thought for sure the Academy would resent her behavior and not award her the Oscar (kind of like Eddie Murphy’s behavior problems when he was nominated for “Dreamgirls”). I also thought that “Nine” would garnish two, if not three Best Supporting Actress nominations; but this was before it got a much unwarranted and undeserving backlash from critics. I think Cruz should not have been nominated for the film, if anyone I would have wanted Judi Dench. I thought Sofia Loren would have gotten nominated as well, considering she’s the last of the Golden Age of Hollywood, much like Plummer. I thought Loren would have followed in line with Lauren Bacall’s nomination for “The Mirror Has Two Faces” and Gloria Straut’s nomination for “Titanic”. I was wrong, very wrong. I think Julianne Moore was snubbed for “A Single Man” and Vera Farmiga’s nomination is undeserving, and she should have been nominated for “The Departed”. If anyone can upset Mo’Nique it would be Anna Kendrick. I think the other obvious Oscar snub is Melanie Laurent for “Inglorious Basterds”. Also remember, there have been previous Supporting Actress surprises before, Marcia Gay Harden for “Mystic River” and Tilda Swinton for “Michael Clayton”. Also: Maggie Gyllenhaal’s nomination for “Crazy Heart” is the one sleeper nomination I was telling everyone about, although my sleeper pick was Duvall for “The Road.

Who I think will win: Mo’Nique for “Precious” (I refuse to type the full title because that is contrived).

Who should win (that’s nominated): Mo’Nique for “Precious”.

My personal pick: Julianne Moore for “A Single Man”.

Best Original Screenplay:

This category seemed to be a lock for Tarantino, but the tides are slightly turning. The more weight that’s being pulled by Tarantino for Best Picture, is pulling “The Hurt Locker” closer to Best Original Screenplay. Face it, they have to award “The Hurt Locker” – even though Bigelow seems to be the frontrunner (with a possible upset by Cameron), the Academy still has to award this film another prominent award. I have always felt that this category is a runner up for Best Picture. I almost want to say if Tarantino wins for this award, “The Hurt Locker” has it in the bag for Best Picture, but if “Locker” wins this award it should give a slight edge to “Basterds” for Best Picture.

Who I think will win: “The Hurt Locker”.

Who should win (that’s nominated): “A Serious Man”.

My personal pick: “A Serious Man”.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

I have not seen “In the Loop” but I hear nothing but great things from my friends Kevin and Peyton. I will watch it before Sunday. I think this award is pretty much a lock for Jason Reitman since “Up in the Air” won’t receive any other major awards. I’m not sure how to feel about Jason Reitman. I thought “Thank You for Smoking” was very good and “Up in the Air” is phenomenal; as for “Juno” I couldn’t stand it. I thought it was contrived and smug and I couldn’t sit through it. Reitman is the greatest example next to Sofia Coppola of nepotism. The hard part is, they are two of the most talented filmmakers of our generation. How could Reitman not finance or be able to distribute his films? His father is Ivan “Ghostbusters” Reitman. I also think “The Road”, “Nine” and “A Single Man” should have been considered for this category too, especially “A Single Man”.

Who I think will win: “Up in the Air”.

Who should win (that’s nominated): “Up in the Air” – pending a viewing of “In the Loop”.

My personal pick: “A Single Man”.

Best Cinematography:

This and editing are my two favorite technical awards. I think this can help make a good movie great, or a great movie good. I haven’t seen any “Harry Potter” films, or “The White Ribbon”. I think that “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”, “A Single Man”, “The Road” and “Antichrist” should have been nominated, but what can I say… I will see “The White Ribbon” before Sunday as well.

Who I think will win: “The Hurt Locker”

Who should win (that’s nominated): “Inglorious Basterds”.

My personal pick: “Antichrist”, but more realistic: “A Single Man”.

Best Editing:

Editing is a tough category because it’s so difficult to be perfect. What’s distracting to me is when there are simple mistakes. Take for example “The Departed”, during the opening scene with Nicholson doing his voiceover monologue towards the end when we see him from behind, looking over his shoulder as he’s walking towards a young Matt Damon, Nicholson is talking and has a cigarette in his mouth. When the shot cuts to a point of view shot from young Matt Damon to Nicholson, he doesn’t have a cigarette in his mouth as he finishes his line of dialogue. Come on! That is so simple to fix! Why leave it? That being said, I looooove Thelma Schoomaker, Scorsese’s long time editor and friend. Its simple things like that, which can ruin certain parts of movies for me. A good way of watching for good editing is if a lot of characters smoke watch for the continuity of the length of cigarette, and the characters inhaling and then exhaling the smoke. A lot of movies fall victim to “magic cigarettes”, much like “The Usual Suspects” when the “suspects” all leave the jail after the famous line-up scene, Gabriel Byrne is outside on the steps smoking while his girlfriend is talking to him, and Byrne watches the other “suspects” and cuts between them watching Bryne, and Byrne watching them. There is no continuity of Byrne inhaling, and continuously exhaling the smoke. The director’s commentary is funny due to the fact of Bryan Singer making fun of the scene because Byrne is smoking a “magic cigarette”.

What I think will win: “The Hurt Locker”

What should win (that’s nominated): “Inglorious Basterds”

My personal pick: “Nine”.

Best Art Direction:

At least “Nine” got this nomination! Boo-ya! That being said, “A Single Man” should win, but once again it’s not nominated.

What I think will win: “Avatar”.

What should win (that’s nominated): “Nine”.

My personal pick: “A Single Man”.

Best Costume Design:

Here’s where my frame of reference starts to wear. I haven’t seen a lot of the films in the tech categories, so I shall do my best.

What I think will win: “Nine”.

What should win (that’s nominated): “Nine”.

My personal pick: “A Single Man”.

Best Make-up:

What I think will win: “Star Trek”.

What should win (that’s nominated): Anything but Star Trek.

My personal pick: “Watchmen”.

Best Original Score:

Once again, “A Single Man” was snubbed. I am actually really surprised it wasn’t nominated in this category, it was incredibly haunting, and filled with deep emotion.

What I think will win: “The Hurt Locker”.

What should win (that’s nominated): I can’t make a prediction since I haven’t seen most of the nominees.

My personal pick: “A Single Man”.

Best Original Song:

This is an easy one with very little competition. I really hope they go back to having each individual song performed by each nominee, but I don’t think it will happen.

What I think will win: “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart”.

What should win (that’s nominated): “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart”.

My personal pick: “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart”.

Best Animated film:

Shouldn’t “Up” automatically win since it’s the only animated film nominated for Best Picture? I know there was an oddity at the BAFTA’s that my friend Kevin told me about, but seriously!

What I think will win: “Up”.

What should win (that’s nominated): Pending my viewing of “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”.

My personal pick: Pending.

For the rest of the categories, I believe “Avatar” will win all the sound and visual awards. As for short films, I haven’t seen any. And as far as documentary’s go, I’ve always seen “Food, Inc.” and from the best of my knowledge, “The Cove” is probably going to win.

I really hope the Academy goes back to showing clips of each actor for each category, but I’m not sure what the final word is on that either. What I am truly looking forward to is Alec Baldwin and Steven Martin hosting. What a treat that is! Please, please, please Academy! Don’t leave me bitter this year!

Let me know what you guys think. I will try and proofread at the best of my ability!


“Antichrist” Dir. Lars von Trier. With Willem Dafoe and Charolette Gainsbourg.

Once in a very great while comes a film that’s so challenging, so beautiful, so controversial – “Antichrist” is one of those films.  This film goes beyond any NC-17 or “unrated” film I have ever seen.  Director Lars von Trier brings us this beautifully terrifying story of a psychiatrist and his wife dealing with the death of their small child while the two make love.  The opening scene is the most beautiful opening scene I have ever seen, Dafoe and Gainsbourg are in the shower, looking at each other, about to make love.  The entire prologue of the film is shot in black and white and in slow motion, and it is silent aside from the beautiful “Lascia ch’io pianga” from ‘Rinaldo’.  The two engage in a heated sexual escapade while their son breaks out of his crib and begins to wander towards the bedroom where his parents are having sex.  Snowflakes start to make their way in from an open window.  The boy is curious and begins to walk towards the window clutching his teddy bear.  In front of the open window is a desk and a chair in front of it.  As the boy mounts the chair and climbs on the desk he knocks over three statue solders each with a label on the bottom of them (“Grief”, “Pain”, and “Despair” which are also the three chapters the film is broken down into).  The film cuts masterfully back and forth between the boys journey to the window and his parents having sex.  As the boy reaches the window he drops his teddy bear out the window.  He then watches it and jumps after it.  As the boy falls in slow motion, it cuts to a close up o f Gainsbourg’s face as she climaxes, and then to Dafoe’s face as he climaxes.  The prologue ends with a wide shot of the boy hitting the snow covered parking lot, followed by his teddy bear.

Charolette Gainsbourg as She, and Willem Dafoe as He.

The first chapter of the film is entitled “Grief” and a haunting title card is displayed to show us the chapter and it’s title.  It opens with a close up (in color) of a small casket being pulled on a buggy.  It cuts to Gainsbourg walking like a zombie behind it and Dafoe is emotionally wrecked as he staggers behind holding his hand out to his dead son and sobbing silently.  This scene made me actually cry.  All we can hear is the sound of the wheels from the wagon roll against the brick road.  Gainsbourg silently collapses and everyone rushes to her.  Before we know it we see her in her hospitable bed and Dafoe walks in.  The first lines of dialogue are heard for the first time.  She is incredibly ridden with guilt for what happened to their son, and Dafoe is essentially emotionless from this point on.  Trying to help his wife cope with the horrible atrocity that happened.  Dafoe eventually brings his wife home early, and makes her stop taking her antidepressants.  He begins to treat his wife, even though he knows he shouldn’t.  He asks her what/where she fears most, and she tells him Eden, the forest where they have a cabin, where She and their son spent a lot of time together.

Once they get to the cabin, horrible, violent, sadistic, masochistic, vicious, harmonious things happen.  Essentially a “chaos reigns”.  This film is packed so tightly with religious symbolism that it’s nearly impossible to digest in five viewings, let along one.  There are three animals, a crow, fox and a deer that are a major part of the film, and a major part of Eden.  They are all introduced to us by either killing their offspring, or their offspring dying.  The deer is the first one we see.  As She takes a nap on their way to the cabin, He wanders off to see the beauty of the woods.  He sees a doe, and she’s eating.  She looks at him and then starts to run away, as she turns and runs we see a still born calf dangling from her

The "Three Beggers".

behind.  As He walks backwards in shock, a baby crow falls from it’s nest in a tree into an any pile and begins to get picked at by ants until a hawk swoops down and brings it to a perch to devour it.  Dafoe then hears a noise and wanders towards it, he finds a fox laying in the tall grass eating at it’s stomach, pulling out it’s intestines and eating the fetus, it looks at Dafoe and then says, “chaos reigns”.

This films then gets into very gruesome imagery and very hard emotional pain on the viewer.  Some scenes will make you look away, others will make you cover your ears.  This is a film I don’t understand fully, and it’s as if I don’t want too.  The cinematography on this film is absolutely flawless (and the only other film I’ve said that about is “Ed Wood”).  von Trier said that he was suffering from depression while shooting this film, and you can certainly tell.  This is a story about men and women.  About inherent evil and how we perceive things, and how we don’t.  This is a film that should be studied frame by frame, and should be studied in college film, psychology, and philosophy classes.  This film is important on so many different levels, it’s pure raw art that is very rare anymore.

The acting in this film is beyond perfecting.  Gainsbourg won Best Actress at Cannes for it, and she certainly deserved it.  Too bad the Academy doesn’t have the brass to even consider nominating her, or any other aspect of the film.  Dafoe delivers as usual, but this time it’s different.  This actually may be Dafoe’s best performance.  And for Lars von Trier, who’s works I continue to study and admire, this is his masterpiece.

This is a film that is so important it must be treasured and kept safe.  It’s an unbelievable feat for anyone to stick with this film and watch it.  Like I said earlier, it’s beyond any NC-17 film I have ever seen, and if you’re offended easily or have a slightly weak stomach, I wouldn’t recommend it to you – but then again, I would.  The epilogue of the film ends in a similar fashion to the opening, in slow motion black and white with ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ from ‘Rinaldo’ playing, but it’s just down right frightening and fucking scary.

Review:  10/10.

Note:  I have uploaded the Prologue, it encases a graphic sex scene.  View be advised.


Plethra of 2009 Reviews Part 1.

Nicholas Cage in Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans".

“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”. Dir. Werner Herzog.  With Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendez, Xibit, and Val Kilmer.

Is this a remake of Abel Ferrara’s 1992 masterpiece “Bad Lieutenant” with Harvey Keitel as a junkie, gambler, killer, and cop?  Yes.  Is it a linear remake?  No.  Herzog brings a more coherent (believe it or not) story of an out of control police officer who is just a down right tortured soul.  Nicholas Cage gives his best performance since “Leaving Las Vegas” and quiet frankly one of the best performances not only of the year, but the decade.  The wicked mischief that Cage brings to this role is hard to handle.  He’s so insane and apathetic and it’s a brilliant performance to watch.  What else would you expect from Herzog making a film about an American cop in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina? Cage is nothing less then witty, charming, sadistic and malicious in this role.  It’s a role that few actors could play, or even consider.  The only other actors who could truly play this hell bound character would be Harvey Keitel (which he did in the “original” film), Willem Dafoe, and Robert Downey, Jr.

There are scenes that will arouse you, make you laugh, and make you want to look away in disgust.  There are scene’s where Cage hallucinates that iguanas are staring him down, as well as a crocodile on the highway.  The film is a pure work of raw art that we rarely see today.

Cage’s character is perfectly balanced out by Stevie Pruit who is masterfully played by Val Kilmer who gives his best performance since “Tombstone”.  His role is extremely small in the film, but not small to the plot and story that Herzog shows us.  Kilmer is so laid back and very subdued in this film, playing off Cage so well.  I don’t think we’d be able to handle both Kilmer and Cage firing off at all cylinders at once.

Review:  9/10.

“The Hurt Locker” 2009.  Dir.  Kathryn Bigelow.  With Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geragthy, with David Morse, Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes.

This film has caught on fire like nothing like I’ve seen before.  “The Hurt Locker” is a good film, but not great.    It’s the first Iraq war film that doesn’t have a political agenda which is the exact film critics wanted to latch onto.  It’s a film that deals with a masochistic IED defuser who is only good at one thing: defusing bombs.  Renner gives a very good performance as the bomb defusing junkie, his character/performance reminded me of a younger Kurt Russel.  By no means does Renner give one of the best performances of the year, but he is very solid.  Anthony Mackie as the units commander gives a very good performance but the other member of the unit played by Brian Geragthy gives a distractingly bad performance.  There are three cameo’s in the film, the first is of Guy Pearce who plays the units original unit’s IED defuser, David Morse plays a Robert Duvall esq officer who gets an adrenaline rush off of watching Renner disobey all orders and flirts with death while defusing a bomb.  Ralph Fiennes plays the leader of a bounty hunting party that get’s bogged down by sniper fire.  And yes, Fiennes delivers as usual.  I liked the idea of how Bigelow inserted great actors into small but somewhat crucial roles, but in the end it comes off as distracting and the three actors give the best performances in the film, and makes you want to know more about them then you do Renner’s character.  The film is well structured, edited and shot.  The film drags at certain points but Bigelow keeps it rolling smoothly.  It’s not one of the best films of the year, but it does deserve an honorable mention.  James Cameron (Bigelow’s ex husband) called this film “the “Platoon” for the Iraq War”.  Sorry James, it’s not.

Review: 7/10.

“Julie & Julia” 2009.  Dir. Nora Ephron.  With Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci.

This is a light and funny film.  It’s a great performance by Streep which all signals point to her winning her third Oscar.  Streep is so wonderful and joyous to watch.  She commands every scene she’s in, and it just makes you want to hang out with her.  The film nicely parralles between Julie (Amy Adams) starting a daily cooking blog of recipes that Julia Child compiled and worked on while she wrote her cook book in France.  The scenes with Adams drags on a little too much, but your attention is always quickly back in the hands of Streep.  Amy Adams gives a cute and sweet performance, but not nearly as interesting as Streep’s Child.  Stanley Tucci plays Child’s ambassador husband Paul.  Tucci gives a subtly brilliant performance and is Streep’s light house in the film, the one thing aside from food she can go to and get compfort from.  The film would have been much, much better if had just been a straight biography of Julia Child.  See it for Streep.

Review: 7/10.

“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” 2009.  Dir. Stephan Sommers.  With Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marlon Waynes, Sienna Miller and Dennis Quaid.

I rented this because of my nostalgic love for the old cartoon show.  And I wanted to watch something I could be entertained by and ignore.  I should have went with my safety blanket, “Cliffhanger”.  I got to halfway in the film when Brendan Frazer rolled up on a motorcycle and I turned it off.  I couldn’t watch it anymore.  The film peaked at that moment.

Review: 3/10.



“Antichrist” – 2009.  Dir. Lars von Trier.  With Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourgh.

This is a film that needs to be broken down frame by frame and studied.  There is so much symbolism, mainly religious, that is jammed packed throughout the film.  The opening of the film is a graphically romantic sex scene between a husband (Dafoe) and wife (Gainsbourgh).  It’s beautifully shot in black and white and slow motion with classical music playing as the soundtrack.  It’s so cliche, but it’s the only way it could have been mastered.  It’s one of the best openings to a film I have ever seen.  While the couple are having sex, their toddler son escapes his crib and falls to his death from a third story window.  The husband being a psychiatrist goes against everything he knows and treats his wife who is suffering from the utter guilt of their son’s death.  They go to their cabin in “Eden”, this is where horrible things start to happen.  This film is one of the most visually beautiful things I have ever seen.  Ever.  Expect to read A LOT more about this film very soon.

Review: 10/10.

Top Ten of the Year (Thus Far)

Top Ten Films of the Year

Here’s my top ten of the year thus far.  The notable films that I haven’t seen yet include “Nine”, “Avatar”, “An Education” and “Invictus”.  I would only assume that Avatar will make the cut, and maybe some more films.  So please dear reader, stay tuned.

1. “Antichrist” Dir. Lars von Trier.  With Williem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

2. “A Single Man” Dir. Tom Ford.  With Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Mathew Goode.

3.  “Up in the Air” Dir. Jason ReitmanWith George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman and Anna Kendrick.

4.  “Inglorious Basterds”.  Dir. Quentin Tarantino.  With Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, and Til Schweiger.

5.  “Bad Lieutenant:  Port of Call New Orleans” Dir. Werner Herzog.  With Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendes, Xibit, and Val Kilmer.

6.  “The Watchmen” Dir. Zach Snyder.  With Billy Crudup, Jeffery Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Mathew Goode and Jackie Earl Haley.

7.  “The Girlfriend Experience”  Dir. Steven Soderbergh.  With Sasha Grey and Chris Santos.

8.  “Taken” Dir.  Pierre Moral.  With Liam Neeson, Famke Jassen, and Xander Berkeley.

9. ????

10. ????