The Art of the Crossover: Directors in Front of the Camera

Yesterday I posted an article that brought a good amount of traffic my way, talking about actors crossing over to music and musicians crossing over to acting. I really enjoyed working on it, and I know I left some people out. There were two HUGE crossover artists that no one seemed to mention; it’s fine, they will be headlining part two of that post. While watching “Quiz Show” the other day, I really loved how Robert Redford used a handful of directors in small roles in the film. He used Griffin Dunne, Martin Scorsese and Barry Levinson in really small yet somewhat vital roles in the film. I enjoy that film very much and I love the irony of Robert Redford the esteemed actor directing a film (where he has no role) and using three directors that normally aren’t in front of the camera (minus Griffin Dunne since he started as an actor). So I’ve been working on this new crossover since last night, trying to come up with a list of concrete crossovers where a director steps in front of the camera. I have really never seen anything about directors’ crossing over and becoming pretty decent character actors. We all see lists of actors turned directors which are fairly easy lists to make. A sad note that I would like to make known – I ruled out Albert Brooks, Woody Allen and Mel Brooks because (no, not because they are Jewish) they were already established as stand-up comics and performers prior to their turns are magnificent filmmakers. I also ruled out Oliver Stone and Alfred Hitchcock because the essentially have nothing more than a quick cameo (minus Stone’s appearance as the announcer for the Miami Sharks in “Any Given Sunday”).

Harold Ramis

Harold Ramis will always have a special spot in my heart as his characters Egon Spengler from “Ghostbusters” and Russell from “Stripes” (which Ramis also wrote both the screenplays) – but before he was our loveable nerd he was the screenwriter for “Animal House” and the writer/director of “Caddyshack” where he met his future creative partner Bill Murray. Ramis then went on to direct “National Lampoons Vacation”, “Groundhog Day”, “Multiplicity”, “Analyze This”, “Analyze That”, “The Ice Harvest” and *coughs* “Year One” (hey, they all can’t be winners).

What Ramis is most widely known for is his acting roles as I said before, Egon Spengler and Russell. Ramis actually is a very good actor – his comedic timing is impeccable. They way he can play off of his co-stars like Bill Murray or especially John Candy in “Stripes” is so excellent – he adds more humor and life to the film just by being the nerdy “straight” guy.

Will they ever make a “Ghostbusters 3” you ask, I really hope not.

Sydney Pollack

Sydney Pollack has directed some of the finest films that I have ever seen: “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”, “Jeremiah Johnson”, “Tootise” and “Out of Africa”. Where Pollack doesn’t get his due credit is as an actor. He was wonderful in his real first acting role as Dustin Hoffman’s agent in “Tootise” but he took a ten year break before resuming acting.

His follow up to his small (but very funny) role in “Tootsie” was as Dick Mellon in Robert Altman’s Hollywood satire “The Player”. How perfect is that? Pollack then branched out and started acting in other filmmakers films including Woody Allen’s “Husbands and Wives”, Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut”, as Warren Feldman doctor who was in prison for killing his wife in an episode of “The Sopranos” and what I believe is his finest performance as Marty Bach in “Michael Clayton”.

I truly feel that Pollack gave the best performance in “Michael Clayton” and deserved a nomination for best supporting actor. Yes Tom Wilkinson was good – but I’m sorry, not nearly as good as Sydney Pollack. His role as Victor Ziegler in “Eyes Wide Shut” is just so creepy and the character has this rage that explodes from him in a couple of key scenes. I have a hard time choosing if I like him more as Sydney Pollack the director, or Sydney Pollack the actor.

Quentin Tarantino

Yeah, I know this one is obvious, but it can’t really be ignored. Is Tarantino a great actor? Not at all. Is he a good actor? Ehhhh… Is he decent? Alright, I can abide by that. The character that Tarantino plays either in his own films or in his friends films are always as eccentric and bizarre as Tarantino is in real life.

I don’t really think the characters he chooses to play add much to the movie, but they defiantly don’t take anything away from it. I think his best performance is that of Jimmie Dimmick in “Pulp Fiction”. The character of Jimmie is funny and witty and it doesn’t seem like Tarantino tries too hard.

The character of Mr. Brown feels a little forced to me, like Tarantino is sitting there trying to act cool in front of Harvey Keitel and Michael Madsen – it just doesn’t work that well for me. Same goes for Warren in “Death Proof” – acting cool in front of Kurt Russell.

That being said, my new life goal is go to Cannes to see the premier of the next Tarantino film – the guy is a fucking genus.

Martin Scorsese

Oh do I love Martin Scorsese. He is such a remarkable talent – I could go on forever about how much I love him and his films. We all know who Scorsese is and what he has directed.

Scorsese has had key roles in two of his earlier film. In “Mean Streets” it is Scorsese’s hand that kills one of the central characters in brutally climactic ending (I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen “Mean Streets”). As I touched upon it before, Scorsese has a brief but meaty role in Robert Redford’s “The Quiz Show”. He plays Martin Rittenhome the CEO of Geritol the sponsor of the NBC quiz shows. His character is fast paced and no bullshit. He pulls a lot of strings with NBC and pulls them well.

Scorsese also voiced Sykes the puffer fish from the semi enjoyable “Shark Tale”. The role that Scorsese talks about playing the most is that of Vincent Van Gogh in Akira Kurosawa’s “Dreams”. It’s so amazing to watch because you are watching one remarkable filmmaker direct another. It’s a real treat. Scorsese has a handful of cameos in his films, my favorite is that of the TV Director in “The King of Comedy”. His opening voiceovers for “The Color of Money” and “Mean Streets” are wonderful, he has this voice that is so fueled by emotion that we can’t help but listen and try and digest the fast paced introductions.

Now this is what I’ve been waiting the entire post to talk about: his role as DeNiro’s deranged taxi cab passenger in “Taxi Driver”. I feel that his character is so vital, so important to the film. It’s just another prime example to Travis Bickle of how fucked up the world has become, how it’s changed so much from what he knew it to be.

The most important factor in the scene is that it humanizes Bickle, it shows us that this is a world of filth and that Bickle is almost normal compared to his passenger talking about how his wife is “fucking a nigger” and repeating to DeNiro “Have you ever seen what a 44 magnum can do to a woman’s face. Have you ever seen what a 44 magnum can do to a woman’s pussy? Now that – that you should see.” Wow.

The character that Scorsese plays is the only character in the film that frightens Travis Bickle. That is very important. We see Bickle not afraid or anyone or anything except for the small episode with Scorsese in the back seat of his cab. Scorsese will often say that it wasn’t planned for him to play the role, that the actor who was originally supposed to play it was sick that day so Scorsese filled in for him. Thank God for that.

Alright tootsie pops…did I leave anyone out that you think I should have included? Let me know what you think.

The Directors: Quentin Tarantino

What can you possibly say about Tarantino? The guy is brilliant. I’ve never seen a filmmaker be able to blend genres so smoothly without any hiccups. His usage of music is second only to Scorsese and the rebirth of actor’s careers is what I truly love the most about Tarantino. His films are just glorified B movies.

1. “Pulp Fiction” – 1994

2. “Jackie Brown” – 1997

3. “Inglorious Basterds” – 2009

4. “Reservoir Dogs” – 1992

5. “Kill Bill” – 2003/4

6. “Four Room” – “The Man from Hollywood” – 1995

7. “Death Proof” – 2007

Oscar Thoughts…and there are a lot of them.

Okay, raise your hand if you’re upset about Quentin Tarantino getting snubbed. Thought so, there are more of you then I thought. I was very disappointed with the Academy Awards last night. It wasn’t only with the awards, and who won and who didn’t win, the production was just bad (maybe more bland, not bad). There were some high points, and I liked of some of the things they did – but that wasn’t enough to save the show. The opening musical number with Neil Patrick Harris was just so fucking atrocious, I couldn’t even believe my eyes. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin are two of the funniest guys in show business and I thought they were going to hit it out of the park. They kind of did with some jokes and shorts, but I just thought they weren’t that good.

I was pleased with Christoph Waltz winning for Best Supporting Actor, and I absolutely loved his acceptance speech. I thought it was touching and heartfelt. When it came to Best Original Screenplay, I had a feeling “The Hurt Locker” was going to win (Peyton is my witness). I thought by “Locker” winning that award, it would help “Avatar” or “Inglorious Basterds” win Best Picture. We all know how that turned out. The fact that it has been fifteen years since Tarantino was nominated for anything is too long. The fact he went home empty handed is a crock of shit. What makes “The Hurt Locker” a good film isn’t its screenplay, or memorable dialogue – its Kathryn Bigelow’s direction, it’s Jeremy Renner’s solid performance, and its Anthony Mackie’s supporting performance, the three (distracting) cameos and the near perfect cinematography. It wasn’t the fucking screenplay! Think about “Inglorious Basterds” for a minute. Think about all the characters, the dialogue and the amazing universe that Tarantino has once again constructed! The characters of Hans Landa, Aldo Raine and his version of Hitler! Looking back I am amazed that the Academy didn’t reward the greatest writer/director of our generation. It’s unfair and bullshit. And YOU know it.

I did enjoy the extended acting clips for the supporting roles this year. I think the lack of clips takes away from the emotional connection the audience has with the winner. I am very glad they brought that back. It was truly a treat to see Waltz win. He deserved it hands down, everyone knew it. His speech was very gracious and very sweet. The

"Oscar and Penelope -- that's an uber-bingo!"

Academy sure got this one right. Finally, an actor won an Oscar for being in a Tarantino film. It’s perfect too, Hans Landa may just be Tarantino’s finest character yet. Welcome to America Christoph, enjoy your ride while it lasts. And as much as it pains me to admit it, so was Mo’Niques. I still think she’s a self righteous diva. It seems fair that the star of “Soul Plane” get an Oscar the same night the director of “Pulp Fiction” gets snubbed. Nice.

I was very disappointed with the songs nominated for Best Original Song weren’t played (but for Original Score there was some odd dance number?). I would have enjoyed seeing Ryan Bingham perform “The Weary Kind”. And listened to the other Randy Newman songs that were nominated, I guess they were more worried about showing tribute to horror films. What the fuck was that about? Horror is the most bullshit genre there is because there aren’t any good horror films. If I stretch myself, I can think of 20 good horror films. And I’m talking horror films, not thrillers or mysteries that have scary elements; I’m talking real horror films. I’m sorry but “Silence of the Lambs” isn’t a horror film, and what was with the clip from “Marathon Man”?

One of my favorite parts of the Oscar telecast has always been when they show clips of people from the film industry who passed away the previous year. The addition of James Taylor performing The Beatles “In My Life” was a very nice touch, although I think “Fire and Rain” would have been better. I have one small question, why wasn’t Farrah Fawcett in that montage? She may not have been the best actress in the world, but she was in an Altman film (“Dr. T and the Women) and Robert Duvall’s “The Apostle”. The Academy released a statement this morning saying, “It’s impossible to pay tribute to every star that has passed away.” You’re going to show Brittney Murphy, but not a huge pop culture icon like Fawcett. Really?

Those of you who read my blog and know me know that I am no fan of “The Hurt Locker” and it’s Godlike momentum. I think it drags and doesn’t have a lot of substance to it. I think it’s good, but not great. It’s very ironic that the one Oscar I think it deserved (Best Achievement in Cinematography) was won by “Avatar”.

The fact that Barbara Streisand presented Best Director was the biggest ploy ever and so utterly transparent. How is it possible that Bigelow has a Best Directing Oscar and Stanley Kubrick, Alan J. Pakula, Terrence Malick, Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino don’t have any directing Oscars? With “The Hurt Locker” winning Best Picture, it follows in suit with my opinion that the Academy keeps awarding the wrong film Best Picture. But that’s just my opinion.

There are a lot of things I like about “The Hurt Locker”. The shot of Renner pulling the six secondary bombs around him is great. The cameos are great. The greatest shot of the film is when Renner is home and is standing in the cereal aisle, and has no frame of reference of what to get. It’s just such a haunting long shot of Renner standing there and you know he’s thinking about Iraq. His character is a slightly more intense Willard from “Apocalypse Now”. Bigelow knew what she was doing, but putting gender aside, the film wouldn’t be as big of deal and you know it (at least give me that Kevin). I’ll say it again, “The Hurt Locker” is a good film, but it’s not Best Picture caliber.

I think the biggest upset of the night was Jason Reitman not winning Best Adapted Screenplay for “Up in the Air”. I thought since he was nominated for “Juno” (even though I don’t like the film) and was again nominated for “Up in the Air”. I almost like the fact that Reitman didn’t win because he is the embodiment of nepotism. But to his defense, he is extremely talented – more than his father Ivan Reitman – but still had every opportunity in the world to make films. I resent that.

"Thank you, mom and dad, for turning me on to such a groovy profession."

I am very happy that Jeff Bridges finally won his Oscar! Even though he shouldn’t have and Colin Firth should. It was a very sentimental moment, watching Bridges holding his Oscar up in the air. I was worried that Jeremy Renner was going to follow in suit with the Academy’s gushing for an above average non bias (but is anti war?) war film and win Best Actor. I would have lost my mind. Bridges’ acceptance speech was wonderful. I love how he is just a beatnik. Deep down inside, he’s more like the Dude than any of his other characters. I think Renner being introduced by his “Swat” costar Colin Farrell cheapened his nomination. They should have gotten Brad Pitt for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” or Charlize Theron or Richard Jenkins from “North Country”. If “Swat” is your best achievement next to “The Hurt Locker”, that’s pretty sad, although Colin Farrell was delightful as always.

I am getting extremely tired of Ben Stiller. I don’t think he’s as funny as much people. I thought it was somewhat humorous, but I think he dragged it a little too long. But I will give “Greenberg” a try.

The one thing that I really wanted to see was Roger Corman giving his acceptance speech for his Lifetime Achievement Oscar. More than half of the people in the auditorium got their start from Corman. I don’t know why he didn’t speak. That’s pretty shitty.

I love Sean Penn. I think he’s a huge asshole, but a great actor and director. He didn’t let me down with shitting on the Academy. I believe when he said how he and the Academy share that they ignored a great actress the past two years, I believe he was referring to Robin Wright (Penn?). He didn’t thank her in his speech last year, and he thinks she should have been nominated for “The Secret Lives of Pippa Lee”. He’s just so great.

As for Sandra Bullock winning: why? She’s a one trick pony. Her Oscar will follow along the lines of Halle Berry’s and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Best Actress Oscar – people will look back and shake their heads. I feel bad saying this almost; because she seems like a really cool and fun lady, but I think she knows too, that she didn’t really deserve it. As funny as this sounds, I do feel bad for Meryl Streep. She should have won this year and last.

Tom Hanks running out and just announcing the winner was a nice touch. I liked that.

I liked the John Hughes tribute.  That was very classy, and very well done.  But Molly Ringwald scared me.

Maybe Bridges can pull a next year with “True Grit” and win back to back. Wishful thinking?

Did you almost feel like Streisand alluded to Bigelow winning just because she was a woman as well, or was that just me?

And for the love of anything that is holy, please Academy, don’t have ten nominations for best picture next year.

And why wasn’t Jack Nicholson sitting in the front row?

Top Ten Supporting Performances of the Decade – #9 Josh Brolin “Planet Terror”.

“No more dead bodies for Da Da tonight.”

This is the role that started the ball rolling that allowed us the pleasure of Josh Brolin. If it wouldn’t have been for “Planet Terror”, we would have missed out on Brolin’s magnificent performances in “No Country for Old Men”, “W” and “Milk” and his upcoming roles in “True Grit” and “Jonah Hex”. I remember seeing the trailers for “Grindhouse” and being so excited for “Death Proof” and not caring less about “Planet Terror”. To take a quick sidestep, Brolin said he got a copy of the script of “No Country” and wanted to audition for the Coens. At that time, they had their sights set on Heath Ledger for the role of Llewellyn Moss. Ledger then decided to back out and take a well deserved rest from film. Brolin again tried to audition for the Coen Brothers and it wasn’t until he sent in an audition tape directed by Robert Rodriguez and shot by Quentin Tarantino that the Coens let Brolin read for the part. I can’t imagine a better audition tape then that! Okay, back to the task at hand. I’m sorry, but “Planet Terror” is a far superior film then “Death Proof”. It had all the elements of a great genre movie. The story was absurd – yet compelling, the script was air tight, the direction and cinematography were brilliant and the cast of the film was impeccable. Robert Rodriguez brought all these actors together, from bankable stars like Bruce Willis and Fergie to relatively unknowns to the masses – Freddy Rodriguez and Rose McGowan – to washed up actors like Josh Brolin, Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey and Michael Parks.

As far as this blogger is concerned, Josh Brolin steals the show as Dr. William Block. I just love the name, William Block. The name sounds vague yet mysterious at the same time. Brolin is just marvelous as he navigates his way through his suspicions about his wife’s infidelities and a night at the hospital that is filled with zombie bitten patients, Josh Brolin steals the show. It makes me tense as Brolin sucks and chews on the glass thermometer that he keeps in his mouth. His goatee and glasses make him look tremendously threatening and he peers over his glasses with his eyes filled with accusations. Brolin’s straight forward Southern drawl (that he later revisits and prefects in “No Country”) is crisp, and filled with deep seeded anger and rage.

The physical acting ability he displays is a wonder to me. It’s as if inside of Block there is a caged animal that is bursting at the seams to break out, to cause chaos and let it rain. It’s as if his caged beast is rocking back and forth in its cage, just waiting to take over. The film itself is over the top and campy, but with Brolin’s performance it brings the film back to its roots, a horror film. I truly feel that his performance holds the film together, as soon as it starts to stretch itself a tad thin, Dr. William Block snaps it back. Whenever Brolin is on the screen, we’re captivated by him, we’re at his will. We know he’s a bad man without knowing anything about him or his past. Think about it for a second – we know very little about Dr. Block, but through Brolin’s perfect timing as an actor, and through the camera angles and shots that Rodriguez shows us, we know one thing for sure: Josh Brolin is one bad motherfucker.

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!

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. ????