February 22, 2009

A Night in the Kodak Theatre

Here we go. It's going to be an exciting night; the night where so many people's dreams will come true or be utterly shattered. Not really, but a lot of people will lose a shit ton of money on their Oscar pools. For those who missed the show, here are the minutes. 

4:40: Brad and Angelina show up. The announcer on E! News goes bat shit crazy, which is to be expected. Ryan Seacrest chats up Penelope Cruz (she's gonna win tonight), Marion Cottillard, and others. The fashion people critique all the dresses. God, I hate these pre-show, red carpet exposes. Kate Winslet looks hot though. 

4:55: Ben Lyons predicts that Slumdog Millionaire will win Best Picture. Completely obvious and safe predictions for the win!!!! Robert Downey Jr. is clean shaven. What the hell is going on here? 

5:00: Josh Brolin sure as hell looks sexy. Diane Lane is a lucky woman. 25 minutes to go. Frank Langella prattles on about how he grew to love Nixon the man. Brad and Angelina seem to be in a hurry to get inside, seeing as they are not talking to anyone. Valentino sounds like he has emphysema, which he just might. 

5:10: The entire cast of Slumdog Millionaire, literally, the entire cast, mob the interviewer. Mickey Rourke still looks like a bad boy. 

5:20: The two most famous accountants in the world (tonight) stroll down the carpet with the winning envelopes. I can only imagine the security that has been thrown on those guys. Richard Jenkins is too damn modest!! 10 minutes.  

5:25: Is the bar the only place the funny people hang out? I would personally love to have cocktails with Jack Black. Can't say he would love to have them with me. 

Here we go!!

5:30: Wow this is lavish. Enter Hugh Jackman. Cue the funny monologue, which is actually pretty damn funny. Wait, what the hell is this? He's singing? HUH? Now he's dancing? Are these really the Oscars? He kidnapped Anne Hathaway!! Jesus Christ! Oh, wait, she was in on it. Oh my god, she has a voice. This song is actually really damn hysterical. I'm WOLVERIIIIIIINE!!!
5:40: Now that's over, he starts roasting all the nominees. Great. I'm starting to think that Meryl Streep is on roids now. Thanks Jackman. 

5:42: Yay, montage of acceptance speeches of Best Supporting Actress. It's all too introduce five previous winners, including Whoopi Goldberg, Eva Marie Saint, and Tilda Swinton. 

5:45: Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz. Oh, that's a big surprise. If she didn't start crying, this would be one of the most cliched acceptance speeches ever. And she even apes Javier Bardem and finishes off in Spanish. Uggg... it's gonna be a long night. Why did they do this one first? Why didn't they get on of the boring ones out of the way in the beginning instead of one people actually care about?

5:55: Best Original Screenplay: Egads, Tina Fey and Steve Martin are so brilliant. C'mon In Bruges, COME ON!!! Oh, well, Milk deserved it as well. Congrats to Dustin Lance Black. Good speech man. Way to sneak in a political, Obama, like promise. 

6:00: Best Adapted Screenplay: God damn, Tina Fey and Steve Martin are hysterical. OK, and the winner is, Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire. Oh, good, for a second there I didn't think he would thank Danny Boyle.

6:05: Best Animated Film: Jack Black and Jennifer Aniston bicker about how much money can be made by staring in an animated film. Then comes a montage of the animated movies this year, from Madagascar to Star Wars, as seen by WALL-E, who enjoys the hell out of it. Then, comes the actual award. It sucks that Black is up there. I mean, presenting an award that your film is up for, only to lose. Ooo... burn. Go WALL-E!!

6:10: Best Animated Short: Jack Black is such a narcissist. And the Oscar goes to, La Maison... oh, I can't spell that. Amazing that Pixar actually didn't win in an animated award. Nice short speech. We like that. 

Why are they getting all the ones that people care about out of the way first? I know they're trying to cut down on the show time, but seriously? At this rate, we'll have an hour of technical awards to end the show, and no one wants that.

Oh, I get it, we are going through the process of making a movie. Start with the script, then the technical awards, and so on. Ok, that's cool. 

6:17: Art Direction: Daniel Craig, smoldering as ever, presents with Sarah Jessica Parker. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button wins the first of it's many technical awards. 

6:20: Costume Design: As a rule of thumb, the movie with the most hoop skirts wins this one. So, The Duchess will walk away with this one. Yep, it never changes. Man, these things are so predictable. 

6:23: Makeup: I'd like to see The Dark Knight win here. But, of course, Brad Pitt was convincingly made into an old fart. So, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button takes Oscar number two. 

6:35: Oh good, Edward Cullen comes on with the chick from Mamma Mia to give us a retrospective of romance in 2008, set to a Coldplay song. Wow, this thing is pretty lukewarm. 

6:32: Cinematography: Ben Stiller parodies Joaquin Pheonix, including the massive beard. So brilliant. Slumdog Millionaire takes this one. 

6:40: Jessica Biel comes on to talk about some dude who pioneered CGI, then back to a commercial. What was the point of that?

6:45: The retrospective of comedies in 2008, as seen by Seth Rogen and James Franco, as directed by Judd Apatow. Comic Gold. Pure comic gold!! I now want make an Oscar statue into a weed pipe. 

6:47: Best Live Action Short: Rogen, Franco, and the Cinematographer from Saving Private Ryan. The winner is... uhh... something I can't pronounce. Check IMDB.

6:52: Hugh Jackman pitches us an idea for a musical, as created by Baz Luhrmann. This guy can sing. I'm impressed. Oh, wait, is that Beyonce? Yes, yes it is. All the men watching this suddenly started paying very close attention. It's a mash up of every single musical movie ever made. WHAT THE FUCK???? What the hell are Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgen's doing there? Oh great, the Mamma Mia couple are there. THE MUSICAL IS BACK!!!!!!!!

7:02: Best Supporting Actor: Presented by the likes of Christopher Walken, Kevin Kline, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Alan Arkin. Prediction: And the Oscar goes to Heath Ledger. Verdict: Yep. I was right! Oh, this speech is heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking. 

7:11: The retrospective of documentaries in 2008.

7:14: Best Documentary: Bill Maher presents this award. He muses about how his documentary didn't get noticed at all. Then he insults God, but it's in good humor, so don't worry. No surprise, Man on Wire takes this one. They even get the guy who walked the rope on to the stage, where he proceeds to balance an Oscar on his face. Good move. 

7:16: Best Documentary Short Subject: Maher presents again. Smile Pinki wins here. We're half way done. Stick with me here. 

7:24: Retrospective of action movies. Did every action movie this year involve a balls to the wall car chase? I think so, according to this. 

7:24: Outstanding Visual Effects: Enter Will Smith. We get it, he loves action movies. Who will win this? Answer: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Yeah, that one was kind of in the bag. 

7:29: Outstanding Sound Editing: Way to mess up your lines there Will. Yay, The Dark Knight takes Oscar number two. 

7:31: Outstanding Sound Mixing: Will's not done yet. And the Oscar goes to Slumdog Millionaire. "This is unbelievable. We can't believe this." Amazing word choice there my friend. 

7:35: Outstanding Editing: Jesus, Smith, you are being overworked. Once again, Slumdog Millionaire. This beast in unstoppable. Danny Boyle flashes a thumbs up. Priceless.

7:42: Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: Eddie Murphy, no doubt still smarting from his Oscar robbery two years ago, presents this award to Jerry Lewis. He narrates a montage of Lewis footage, set to Viva La Vida, and Wonderwall. Lewis then takes the stage. Here comes the longest speech of the night, historically. Well not tonight. That was really concise. We love you Jerry!!!

7:50: Jackman introduces a medley of the original scores up for contention. It sounds great. 

7:53: Best Original Score: Alicia Keys comes out with Zac Efron to present. And of course, Slumdog Millionaire wins. We've had a bunch of Indian winners so far for this movie, and this is the first one to slip some Hindi into his speech. About damn time. 

7:55: Best Original Song: Alicia Keys messes up her lines. Instead of the usual deal where the songs are performed in their entirety, we get this 5 minute mash up of the three nominees. What a cop out. Peter Gabriel didn't show up to perform his song from WALL-E, so they got John Legend. A fair trade. And then to top it all off, they don't even perform the dance from the movie for Jai Ho. That's a shame. Then they start blending the two songs. What the hell? And then the Oscar goes to Jai Ho. Not a surprise. Only Foreign Language, Actress, Actor, Director and Picture left. 

8:05: Foreign Language Film: Liam Neeson, with Slumdog Millionaire's Freida Pinto on his arm, presents this. Surprisingly, Waltz With Bashir does not win. Instead, Departures, from Japan, takes it. 

8:11: Here's the incredibly long "in memorium" montage. It's a bit different this year, since Queen Latifah is singing a song over it. It's pretty good. The big ones on display here are Charlton Heston, Paul Newman, Sydney Pollack, and Bernie Mac.

8:18: Best Director: Best Actress winner Reese Witherspoon presents this. To no one's surprise, Danny Boyle takes this one. It's about damn time. He starts jumping on the stage with glee; he is apparently imitating Tigger, as part of a deal with his kids. He thanks a whole ton of people. He even thanks the guy who choreographed the ending dance sequence, whom he apparently left out of the credits. Smooth!

8:25: Best Actress: Presented by the likes of Sofia Loren, Shirley McClaine, Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman, and Marion Cotillard. It's between Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet, and the winner is... (drumroll)... Kate Winslet. Finally. After six snubs, my God, it was getting annoying! She gives a great speech, even throwing a few jokes at Meryl. 

8:36: Best Actor: Presented by the likes of Robert DeNiro, Ben Kingsley, Anthony Hopkins, Adrian Brody, and Michael Douglas. It's between Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke, and the Oscar goes to... (drumroll)... Sean Penn. Well, I don't mind. He was brilliant, you commie, homo-loving, sons of guns. 

8:47: Best Picture: Steven Speildberg, the guy Jackman's been trying to impress for the whole night despite his fake Australian accent, presents this. Before the big moment, a large montage of the nominees, and the movies that obviously influenced them, is shown. And the big winner is, not surprisingly, Slumdog Millionaire!!!!. Woot. The entire crew mobs the stage. It's a good moment. An indie film takes the Oscar again. 

Well, that's the show. Jackman gives his tip of the hat, and ends the ceremonies. All in all, it was a pretty good show. Jackman was certainly funny, and gave a great performance. It was certainly the most lavish Oscars to date. All things considered, it was worth watching.  

February 15, 2009

Stupidity, On An Astounding Level!

What better to celebrate the holiday of love and giving by going to the movies to watch college kids get slaughtered by a man in a hockey mask? It seems as if remakes, or "re-boots", of popular horror franchises are fast becoming all the rage lately. We got The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes a few years ago, Halloween and The Hitcher last year, and Nightmare on Elm Street to look forward to. But for now, we have to make do with Friday the 13th, yet another blood and boob filled slasher movie that takes place in a world where no one watches slasher movies. 
Friday the 13th begins at a pretty good pace. We get a, about, 20 minute prologue, in which a couple of teens on a camping trip indulge in their carnal desires, and as such, get a machete to the face. Fast forward six weeks, and we get to the actual premise of the film. The brother of one of the teens that went missing has come to Camp Crystal Lake to search for her. Along the way, he runs into another group of teens who are up there for the weekend with only a few intentions. Drink, get high, and fuck. I think you can figure out where this is going. Little do these teens know, but they've stumbled upon the hunting ground of the most tenacious serial killer, EVER, Jason Voorhees. Blood flows like wine, clothes fall like leaves. It's business as usual. 
Most of the cast are throwaways. You got your honorable guy who you know will survive, the nice girl who you know will survive, the smooth, sex machine who you know is going to meet a horrible end, the douche bag host who you know is going to meet the most satisfying death, the two awkward guys that look out for each other who you know will die within five minutes of each other, and the resident hotties, who you know will get naked, and then die. The only real standout is Jared Padalecki as the brother. I like him; he's been pretty good on Supernatural and Gilmore Girls. He is the only one that has some real meat to work with in his role. Plus, he looks really good, so there's that. Everyone else is just there to screw each other and spill bodily fluids. 
The movie a has a cool sense of style, thanks to some pretty nifty direction from Marcus Nispel (Texas Chainsaw Massacre). He does deliver some startling moments, and some pretty inventive kills. Jason is a resourceful fellow, let's leave it at that. Unfortunately, he also delivers unto us, once again, a slasher movie drenched in cliches. Friday the 13th follows all the rules set down by it's older siblings, and follows them to the note. Everyone who doesn't act like a God fearing Christian, dies. I'm not even kidding. The survivors, in the end, didn't drink, get high, or fuck each other. Everyone who did... well, you get the idea. It's kind of annoying that the director got a great opportunity thrown at him and didn't do anything special with it. Friday the 13th is the exact same thing we've seen from all the horror movie "re-boots" in the last ten years, where people do the stupidest things they could possibly thing of, and, as punishment, get a knife shoved into their throats. 
I may seem on the fence here, and that's because I am. I can't decide whether or not I should crucify Friday the 13th or just let it be. I'll admit, I was kind of entertained. It's so god damn ridiculous, I couldn't help it. I guess if I view on it's own merits, there's really nothing to complain about. We all knew the acting would suck; we all the knew the characters would act really stupid; we all knew that enough blood would be spilled to fill a lake. For the people who enjoy that sort of stuff, this will do just fine; it is one of the better slasher "re-boots" to come along in a while. But, on the other hand, I had a really hard time getting over the fact that nothing new was brought to this increasingly boring genre. All it is is just a sadistic celebration of sex and violence. So, if you enjoyed the Saw movies, The Hills Have Eyes, and can't wait to see the re-make of The Last House on the Left next month, go for it; you'll enjoy the hell out of Friday the 13th. For the rest of you, I can't in good conscience recommend it.
I give nothing away by saying that the movie ends with Padalecki and Co. dumping Jason's "dead" body into the lake. Now, before I finish up, let's review, for a second, Jason's exploits over the years, courtesy of Wikipedia. So far in the series, Jason has been drowned, sliced by a machete in the shoulder, hit with an axe in the head, supposedly cremated, aped by a copycat killer, buried, brought back to life by a lightning bolt, chained to a rock and thrown in the lake again, resurrected by telekinesis, drowned again, resurrected by an underwater electrical surge, melted by toxic waste, killed by the FBI, resurrected AGAIN through possession of another body, returned to his own body, thrown into hell, used for research, cryogenically frozen, thawed, turned into a cyborg, blown into space, freed to continue his rampage on another planet, returned to the present to face of with Freddy from Nightmare on Elm Street, and drowned again! Anyone who thinks they can kill Jason is foolish optimist! C+

February 10, 2009

12 Days and Counting

So, with the Oscars a mere twelve days away, I thought I'd fill you in on how the end of the award season is shaping up from my standpoint. A few of my predictions of winners have changed, as has my perception on few of the other nominees. So here we go. 
Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, and Animated have already been won. My previous predictions will be correct. Bet on that. Best Actor is the toughest to call at this point. It's between Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke. Frank Langella, Brad Pitt, and Richard Jenkins have all been shut out so far, and with less then two weeks to go in the season, they really have no chance of winning. I can't really pick a clear favorite here. Sean Penn just won a SAG for Best Actor. The winner there, traditionally, goes on to win the Oscar. But Mickey Rourke has won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. That, and the fact that Academy voters can connect with his character more then Penn's may put him over the top. I think Rourke gave the better performance, all things considered, but if Penn wins, I won't mind in the slightest. 
On to Best Actress. You know, in hindsight, I think I was a bit too harsh on Kate Winslet at first. Now that my self-righteous rage at the snubs of Bruce Springsteen and Christopher Nolan has subsided, I can start to accept the actual nominations, instead of thinking of the ones I wish had made it. I've had a chance to go back to The Reader since the noms were announced, and, I'll be honest, I have a new found respect for it, or at least for Kate Winslet. I'm still adamant that the film should not be nominated for Best Picture, but I can't deny that Winslet is great in it. When I go back and think about it, her performance actually does resonate with me more then any other in the category. So, she has stolen my favorite to win from Meryl Streep. My prediction that she will win stays intact as well. 
I'll end with Supporting Actress. I think the best performance here is Viola Davis in Doubt. True, she has only one scene, but, damn, is she good in that one scene. The whole thing is on the NY Times website. Check it out, I hope you agree with me. Here's the link: http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/451995/Doubt/trailers
It would be great if Davis did win, but I don't think she will. She's too unknown. My prediction remains the same, Penelope Cruz. She's been racking up the awards so far, so it seems like a shoe in. But anything could happen. For all we know, the Academy could play it unsafe (unlikely, but whatever) and award it too the stripper (Marisa Tomei), the naive nun (Amy Adams), the religious mother figure (Taraji P. Henson), or the unknown, most deserving one (Davis). One can dream. I'll probably get on and review something before the ceremonies, during which I'll write up a play by play, or something. Until then, my friends.