Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscars: Final Predictions and Analysis Before the Ceremony

Final Predictions and Analysis Before the Ceremony

February 27th. W all know what day is today. The day the award season ends with the biggest award ceremony of the year. Tonight are the Oscars. Sadly, due to the amount of praise films receive by critics and other awards ceremonies, the Oscars become highly predictable. But this year, despite some predictability in hand too, might be one of the toughest to predict. What first seemed crystal clear has become muddy and hard to see through. So I'll make one last humble attempt at trying to predict the big awards. Ok, here we go:

Best Adapted Screenplay:
While many great and worthy films are in competition this year, the Adapted Screenplay category seems to be reduced to just one film since the beginning, and that is The Social Network. Aaron Sorkin's screenplay didn't just receive great praise, but it received as much praise as the film itself. Also, the fact that it was adapted from a true story, and not just a true story but the true story behind one of the biggest phenomenas of today, might give credit to the film.

Best Original Screenplay:
This might be a little harder to predict. The film I would have liked to win wasn't even nominated (and it wasn't the first time), Black Swan. So, without Black Swan out of the way the award has been narrowed into two possible winners: Inception vs The King's Speech. Personally, I would like The Kids Are All Right to win, but it is clear it will be between these two. Now, Inception was mindbending and complex, all which can help it win the award, but I think the Academy will lean towards The King's Speech. The film has Oscar written all over it.

Best Supporting Actor:
The Best Supporting Actor race is narrowed once again into two: Christian Bale for The Fighter vs Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech. Rush just won the BAFTA, but Bale hhas already won a Golden Globe, an SAG and a Critic's Choice, so I think Bale's a much safer choice. Now, both of these actors were fantastic in the film, and I personally prefer Bale, but the aggressive campaign The King's Speech has been leading for the last couple of months mgith benefit Rush.

Best Supporting Actress:
Ask me a few months ago and I would tell you without hesitation that Melissa Leo is all in for the award. But recent events indicate that she might not be the Academy's first choice, and instead they'll go for Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit. Between these two women I personally prefer Melissa Leo (her performance being one of the high aspects of the film), but most people seem to prefer Hailee Steinfeld. And many Academy members wanted her in the Best Actress race rathe than Best Supporting, so it is possible that these people will vote for her in this cetegory. Its a tough call, but it seems that Steinfeld is closely leading the competition.

Best Actor:
Probably the easiest category to guess of the year, the Award will go to the stammering King George VI, played magnificently by Colin Firth. Firth's performance is more than simple acting, its heartbreaking and inspiring, and that is something people love. And while Bardem won at Cannes, it is very unlikily he'll win here. (Sorry, friend-o)

Best Actress:
Its easy to guess who will win, but recently another competitor has risen. The race was being led by Natalie Portman's incredible performance in Black Swan, while Annette Beining seemed to have been dormant, but her campaign seems to be working, for she's won already the Hollywood Award, the London Film Critics Award, Women Film Critics Circle, and the New York Film Critics Circle among others. Yet, I think the award will still be taken by Portman.

Best Director:
I think this one isn't very hard to guess. Despite Tom Hooper winning the Director's Guild Awards, David Fincher seems to be the one most likely to win. He deserves the award, and due that he ahs already won the Golden Globe, the Critic's Choice and the BAFTA, I think it is pretty clear who will win.

Best Picture:
Now, here's the tough one. Before, I had for granted that The Social Network would win the award. It had won almost all the awards, including the Golden Globes and the Critic's Choice. But recently The King's Speech seems to be the one who will most likely take the award. With a BAFTA, a Director's Guild and Producer's Guild won, the odds are in favor for The King's Speech. I would like The Social Network to win, but it is a really tough call. The King's Speech seems to be more Oscar material than The Social Network, but Network is the big movie about the current generation. It is not like last year when the race was between Avatar (a film that, despite what people said, the Academy would never go with) and The Hurt Locker, which was the safest option. This year we have to very good and strong contending films. I don't know how it will turn out, but people think it will be The King's Speech who takes the award.

How accurate my predictions were? We'll find out tonight ;) Thanks for reading

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Wrong Man (1956) Review

The Wrong Man

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Year: 1956
Country: USA

Master of horror and suspense Alfred Hitchcock has done it again. He has created another intoxicating ride, full of twists and turns that will keep the audience on the edge of their seat. This time, unusual for a Hithcock film, he bases his story in a real life incident, but that doesn't mean it isn't as exciting as his other ficitional work is, because we have in here a very good addition to the epic filmography of one of the best directors who has ever lived.

Henry Fonda stars as Christopher Emannuel "Manny" Balestrero, a common man who works as a musician in the Stork Club in New York City. He isn't the wealthiest man in the world, in fact he's been running through some economic difficulties, but he always tries to follow the path of good. When his wife, Rose, has some dental troubles, Manny goes to the insurance office to borrow some money. But there the people recognize him as the man who had previously assaulted the place. The police is called and Manny is arrested. Witnesses recognize him as the man who has previously assaulted several stores, and Manny is cited to trial. With the help of his family and his attorney, Manny will have to try to prove his innocence, even if no one believes him, even if every circumstance seems to be against him.

Before Psycho, Vertigo or North by Northwest, Hitchcock still had a good run of great and chilling movies. Who can forget Rear Window, something close to a masterpiece, an account of mystery and suspicion. Or Shadow of a Doubt, one of Hitchcock's best early American films. And of course, The 39 Steps, a British spionage thriller with an unaware man implicated in international conspiracy. And then we have this, The Wrong Man, a tale of innocence and justice, a legal thriller dealing with themes of mistaken identity. Hitchcock certainly knew what he was doing when he did this.

The film's cast is all around wonderful. With stars of the caliber of Henry Fonda, Anthony Quayle and Vera Miles you know the performances will be great. Fonda, as usual, steals the show, completely imporsonating that man, innocent but being judged as guilty. He fully reflects the man's concerns and preoccupations. You can see on his expression how he's worried about his family and about his own well being too. Anthony Quayle, also, delivers a pretty strong performance as Manny's lawyer. You can believe the man's a lawyer, he seems to know what he is talking about. And Vera Miles is excellent as Manny's wife. Her concern, her guilt and her eventual madness is very clearly expressed by this wonderful actress.

There is no need to mention the great direction, but I will anyway. Of course, Hitchcock's direction is top notch. He captures the character's feelings to perfection, he can set an excellent thrilling mood and he can certainly get the audience to the edge of their seat. He leads all their actors to their great performances. And who can forget the cameo? In this film, as in most of his others, Hitchcock has a cameo apperance, but this one might be the most easier to spot. And why is that? Because he is the first person to appear on screen, he even says his name. He serves as an introductor to the film, and this cameo might be his most unforgettable one.

But the film isn't perfect. The screenplay is very well written, balancing character and suspense. In spite of this, there were moments that it didn't seem to know where it was going, as if the screenwriters got stuck in one part or another. It wasn't anything serious, but it did seem a little bit unfocused. Also, the film lacks the punch of other superior Hitchcock films, like Vertigo or Psycho. And there were a few characters who could have used a little more developing. But overall, the screenplay was fairly good, despite a few minor issues.

Hitchcock is a master of suspense. His thrillers have captured the audience and kept them guessing until the end. And this film is no different. Full of great performances, moody direction, interesting characters and a satisfying story, this is a film to rememeber. And while it might not be one of his greatests, and it may seem out of focus at one or two scenes, the film promises to satisfy the viewer.
My recommendation: Go see it, especially if you're a Hitchcock fan.
My score: 83%

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The CACB Movie Awards

The CACB Movie Awards

As many of you have already done, I decided to create my own movie awards. I decided to expand my categories up to 10, with a few exceptions having less. Please note: I haven't watched every film nominated in the Foreign Language category, so I had to complete with the Academy Award nominees and the Cannes winners.

Best Picture:
The Social Network *
Black Swan
True Grit
The King's Speech
127 Hours
Shutter Island
The Town
The Ghost Writer
Toy Story 3

Best Director:
David Fincher - The Social Network *
Christopher Nolan - Inception
Darren Aronofsky - Black Swan
Joel and Ethan Coen - True Grit
Danny Boyle - 127 Hours
Martin Scorsese - Shutter Island
Roman Polanski - The Ghost Writer
Debra Granik - Winter's Bone
David Michod - Animal Kingdom
Ben Affleck - The Town

Best Actor:
Jeff Bridges - True Grit
Leonardo DiCaprio - Shutter Island
Leonardo DiCaprio - Inception
Ewan McGregor - The Ghost Writer
Javier Bardem - Biutiful
James Franco - 127 Hours
Colin Firth - The King's Speech *
Jesse Eisenberg - The Social Network
Ryan Gosling - Blue Valentine
George Clooney - The American

Best Actress:
Annette Bening - The Kids Are All Right
Julianne Moore - The Kids Are All Right
Noomi Rapace - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Tilda Swinton - I Am Love
Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine
Natalie Portman - Black Swan *
Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit
Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole
Rebecca Hall - The Town
Chloe Grace Moretz - Let Me In

Best Supporting Actor:
Jeremy Renner - The Town
Christian Bale - The Fighter *
Geoffrey Rush - The King's Speech
Guy Pearce - Animal Kingdom
John Hawkes - Winter's Bone
Mark Ruffalo - The Kids Are All Right
Andrew Garfield - The Social Network
Justin Timberblake - The Social Network
Matt Damon - True Grit
Ben Kingsley - Shutter Island

Best Supporting Actress:
Mila Kunis - Black Swan
Barabara Hershey - Black Swan
Chloe Grace Moretz - Kick Ass
Jacki Weaver - Animal Kingdom
Lesley Manville - Another Year
Marion Cotillard - Inception
Amy Adams - The Fighter
Melissa Leo - The Fighter *
Helena Boham Carter - The King's Speech
Olivia Williams - The Ghost Writer

Best Original Screenplay:
Black Swan *
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
Animal Kingdom
Another Year
Blue Valentine
The Illusionist

Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Ghost Writer
The American
Shutter Island
127 Hours
The Town
Winter's Bone
Toy Story 3
The Social Network *
True Grit
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Best Foreign Language Film:
Even the Rain (Spain)
Biutiful (Mexico) *
Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand)
Of Gods and Men (France)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Sweden)
Dogtooth (Greece)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Outside the Law (Algerie)
I Am Love (Italy)
Madeo (Korea)

Best Animated Feature:
Toy Story 3 *
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Despicable Me
Chico and Rita

Best Documentary:
Inside Job
Waiting for Superman
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Exit Through the Gift Shop *

*: Winner

Thank you for your time :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stephen King's Carrie, Review

Stephen King

Stephen King is one of my favorite American authors. What makes him repellent to some is appealing to many like me. We enjoy a good horror/thriller story that gets our attention and keeps us reading. His characterization is very good, in every novel or short story he writes he spends time crafting his characters, bringing them to life. Anyway, Carrie, his first published novel, is no different. Its characters are passionately written, the plot keeps us glued to the book and it also has a very important theme on the background.

Carrie White's mother is a religious fanatic. She doesn't let her express herself, she doesn't let her have friends or meet boys, she didn't even tells her about puberty and what is menstruation. Even women's breasts she describes as "dirty pillows", and say that they grow only on bad girls. As a punishment for any kind of tresspass against the Lord, her mother will lock her inside a closet for hours, making her pray. But her torture doesn't end here, as in school is probably worst. She's the butt of every joke, has no friends and everybody believes she's weird or ugly or crazy or stupid or something along those lines. But Carrie carries the hidden talent of Telekinesis. As her prom approaches, her powers begin to develop, and when a final prank (much more crueller than most) is delivered, the whole town will have to pay for the kids' mistakes and cruelty.

Carrie comes close to what I believe is King's masterpiece, The Shining. While The Shining is still superior, Carrie comes near the top of the books I've read from the master of horror. In it, we can see the suffering Carrie has to endure, we can feel it ourselves. We see it both from her perspective and the other kids' perspectives, as well as outsider's perspective on the matter written as books, interviews, analyses, thesis, etc on the subject of telekinesis and Carrie White.

Carrie is plainly disturbing. First is the strong and cruel bullying she has to go through. Much like in Let the Right One In (read review here, the main character faces bullying every day, and at the end this helps to create a very violent scenario throughout the novel. The novel carries the strong message of no discrimination or bullying, and the consequences it may bring. While it is clear that in real life a kid may not whipe a whole town because he was bullied, he still may commit serious acts that nobody really wants.
The other disturbing part comes from the mother. A strong and crazy religious fanatic, her beliefs helped in making Carrie weak and resentful. I think that most of what happened to her came from her moher's discipline. She probably would never have flipped if her mother wouldn't have been so much of a wackho.

The novel both entertains and disturbs at the same time. Its simple but intriguing plot makes the reader keep reading, and King's ingenious style helps it on this subject. His characters are all well thought out. Carrie and her mother are, of course, the one he dedicates more time to, and the end result is a terrific and terrifying combination of scared daughter and crazy mother. For the other players, he spends a good time developing the characters of Sue Snell and Chris Hargensen, Carrie's schoolmates, who spend much time making her pranks. These two characters also represent opposite sides: one feeling guilty, the other feeling she needs for Carrie to suffer even more; one mature, the other completely childish; one desiring redemption, the other desiring revenge.

Due to King's narrative, a thrilling and keep-reading plot, ingenius characterization and profound themes in its background, Carrie is a, slightly-underrated, gem. Many may criticize it, but at the end it is a very important piece of horror literature. A definite recommendation for horror fans, psychological-thrillers fans and, of course, Stephen King fans. His first novel is definitely one of his bests.