Posts Tagged 'anne hathaway'

The 2013 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 of 2012)

The 24th Annual Biggie Awards

aka The Biggies

for achievements in film for the year 2012

I’ll be the first to admit I had unfair expectations for 2012. Given the impressive roster of movies on tap, I predicted as early as April of 2011 that 2012 would be the best year in movies since 2000, which I consider to be the best year for movies in my lifetime. In the end, it wasn’t quite the year I wanted it to be, but it was still quite a year. Actually, by my official tally of new entries on my “Movies I Love” list, this was the best year for movies since 2007. I “loved” 24 movies in 2012 (for comparison, 2000 holds the record with 31). What I liked most about 2012 was that it had a lot of variety, as I think you’ll see reflected here in my nominees.

We’ll get into most of the specific films in the descriptions under each category, but there are a few things I want to mention up front.

Continue reading ‘The 2013 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 of 2012)’

Review: 85th Academy Awards

olly-moss-oscar-poster

First things first, if you haven’t yet seen that Oscars poster above by Ollie Moss, I insist you click on it and check out the full-sized version. Absolutely amazing. He re-interpreted the Oscar statue to represent every Best Picture winner. Some of them are very clever.

I love watching the Oscars every year, because I love movies more than I love drawing breath. I’m not one of these a-holes who complain about how long the show is every year (because I don’t mind it being long), I don’t overanalyze the host’s performance, and I don’t watch for the fashion (unless someone/something really sticks out, see below). I watch it as a celebration of excellence in movies, and as an aspiring filmmaker, it never fails to inspire me in that regard. That said, I do have thoughts on the show each year, and for the first time on this blog, I thought I’d share those with you. Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 85th Academy Awards.

Continue reading ‘Review: 85th Academy Awards’

Review & Perspective: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

The Dark Knight Rises arrived in theaters as my most anticipated movie of 2012, and if I think about it, one of my most anticipated movies EVAR. As in, top 5 on my “keeps me up nights I’m so excited to see it” list, right up there with The Phantom Menace, The Matrix Reloaded, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers & Return of the King, Spielberg’s War of the Worlds and the first Transformers. That’s not an official list, but it gives you some historical comps. It’s been four long years since The Dark Knight rocked our socks with its awesomeness (it remains the best comic book movie ever made), and even though Christopher Nolan has continued to shit greatness in the interim (Inception), ever since 2008 I was always more excited about any and all news regarding his third Batflick. What’s the title gonna be? Who is the next villain to get the Nolan Treatment? The instant I walked out of that theater in July, 2008, I was wondering how soon Warner Bros. would announce a release date for the followup. And it didn’t happen. Forever. Even as The Dark Knight broke the almighty 3-day opening weekend box office record (which has since been topped twice by two 3D-enhanced juggernauts, Harry Potter 7-b and The Avengers), went on to gross more than $500 million domestically and just over a billion worldwide. Nowadays, when studios get results like that, they announce the release dates for the next 3 movies in a series. But it wasn’t until April 30, 2010 that they announced the release date (which I correctly predicted in 2008 would be in 2012), and the Dark Knight Rises title wasn’t announced until October 27, 2010. I remember being hugely underwhelmed by the title choice (Huh? You’re just gonna add one word to the title of the last movie? was my reaction at the time), but I trusted that it would all make sense once we saw the film. And even with all the trailers and ads prior to release, you don’t fully come to appreciate the title until literally the final shot of the movie, at which point it does in fact make perfect sense…as I thought it would. Continue reading ‘Review & Perspective: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES’

2011 Oscar reactions (and more!)

Welcome to my post-mortem to the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. I say post-mortem because a lot of what happened on that show has left me dead inside. So let’s get straight into it. I was very disappointed in this year’s Oscar ceremony. It was very bland, poorly produced, poorly written, and poorly executed. There were hardly any surprises (with regards to the show or the winners), and for once I can’t fault the people who say they were bored to tears by it. It won’t change my enthusiasm for watching the Oscars going forward, but I’d be lying if I said I was in any way impressed by this year’s show.

I think in recent years the Oscars have suffered greatly because of all the televised awards shows that now precede it. I know the Academy wants to be last because they’re the most important movie awards ceremony, but with the acting categories in particular, we’re now seeing the same 4 people (Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress) win award after award after award on TV, and by the time they finally win their Oscars, there’s no suspense whatsoever. You can even tell most of the time with the audience inside the theater. Now, when an actor wins, the only people who are genuinely excited for him or her are the cast & crew who also worked on that actor’s movie. There are hardly ever any standing ovations (even for genius, once-in-a-lifetime performances like Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood) because these same people have been applauding the same winners for over a month at various other awards ceremonies, and they seem completely indifferent by the time the Oscars roll around. And so too, it seems, is the audience at home.

I don’t have a clear cut solution to this conundrum, but I’d give them a lot of credit if they had the balls to leapfrog the Golden Globes, SAG, DGA, PGA and WGA awards and do the Oscars in mid-January instead of late February/early March. I don’t even know if that’s a good idea, but it’s one way that the winners would be fresh, and it’s a way the Oscars could set the standard as opposed to being reactionary. You don’t have to be the last one out of the gate to have the most prestige. Anyway, nobody can accuse me of not having an idea, dammit. Either way, this is a problem the Oscars need to address soon if they want to be less stale.

Having said all that, let me be clear in that I agree with all 4 of this year’s acting winners. I think the right people won in all 4 categories, and that’s a rare feat for the Oscars. I’m just saying that audiences are tired of seeing the same people win at every show, and that has nothing at all to do with the legitimacy of their victories. I believe in merit and that the best should always win, but that doesn’t change the fact that many people in the general public (and some voters) prefer to see surprises just for the sake of seeing a surprise. I guess the argument there would be that surprises make for better television, and better TV is more important than meritocracy to some (not me).

Deserving winners all.

Probably the biggest reason I love watching the Oscars is the mood it puts me in. I usually come away from the show happy and feeling inspired, with a fresh desire to get back to work on the script that will bust down the door for me and officially begin the career I want so very much. I got very little of that inspiration or joy this year. Sure, Christian Bale and Natalie Portman gave classy speeches (as did Original Screenplay winner David Seidler), but there was nothing all that memorable in the nearly 3 and a half hours of the show. I like to think I’m honest with myself, and if I’m being honest and I were grading the 83rd Academy Awards, I can give it nothing better than a D. Typically, I get annoyed by all the critics and media people and bloggers who spend the days after the Oscars making wisecracks and bitching about various aspects of the show, but this time, I can’t really blame them. The stuff they always bitch about actually were problems this year, and I’m sad to have to admit that.

A few specific notes and reactions:

James Franco & Anne Hathaway as hosts. Yikes. Turns out this was not a very bright idea. First off, the two had no chemistry together on stage. I’m not even sure Franco even looked at her, which was very strange. If the only reason these two were chosen to host was to somehow attract a younger audience, that was an epic failure. The rest of the show skewed just as ‘old’ as ever. You actually have to give your host(s) interesting, funny things to do. They aren’t there just to introduce presenters. Seriously, other than coming out for 30 seconds dressed as a woman, what did James Franco do other than simple introductions that could have just as easily been done by the P.A. announcer? I mean, besides the opening sequence of the show with the prerecorded Inception spoof, I could have done everything Franco did on that show. That’s not a good sign. He may just be too laid back for this kind of thing. I almost feel like I could see him regretting the decision to do it (though if you were online, it was funny that he was tweeting backstage pictures and video throughout the show). Listen, the dude is a multitalented, wonderful actor and seems like a cool guy, but like many other great creative talents, he doesn’t appear comfortable in that kind of public setting. Hathaway (who I also love as a performer) did a nice job during her little singing segment, but for the majority of the show, she was simply standing next to Franco and giggling at everything he said. And when she wasn’t doing that, she was screaming approval at the presenters like a high school cheerleader. The charisma was, shall we say…lacking.

It was telling when Billy Crystal came out for a cameo appearance and immediately got a standing ovation. It was as if the crowd were begging him to take over hosting duties right then and there, like a middle relief pitcher who has to come into the game in the 4th inning because the starter just got lit up for 7 runs. That couldn’t have been encouraging for Franco & Hathaway. Crystal is a true showman, and his work on the Oscar stage is completely effortless. I know it was their first time hosting, but both the newbies seemed horribly out of place.

“Now hosting…number 42. Mariano Rivera Billy Crystal.”

By the way, every time Robert Downey Jr. appears at the show, he kills it. There’s a guy who should get a chance at hosting, if the Academy is serious about trying someone new.

-The Kirk Douglas fiasco. What is there to say? That was one of the most awkward things I’ve ever seen. A lot of people are trying to cover for him by saying, “Oh, it was great to see him doing well!” Umm, does that really qualify as “doing well?” Does the simple fact that he’s alive mean he’s doing well? I think the bar should be set a little higher than that, and it’s safe to say no 94-year old should be out on that stage alone for that long. Where was someone from his family or someone at the Academy begging and pleading that this was a terrible idea? I mean, he literally hijacked the show (probably without even realizing it). You couldn’t understand most of what he was saying, there were long, drawn out moments where he didn’t say anything; it was just horrifying to watch. So much so that I literally turned away and covered my ears a couple times. On the plus side (I guess), he’s given the late night talk show hosts enough material for 6 months worth of monologue jokes.


“This is MY show now!”

-What was David Fincher‘s problem? He seemed completely miserable and ambivalent to the whole thing. Even when several of his crew won Oscars and graciously thanked him during their speeches, I don’t think he cracked a smile once. Show some pride in your crew, man. If I’m ever lucky enough to be in his position, I’ll be standing and applauding whenever one of my crew won an award. Look at how proud James Cameron was last year of all his guys winning for Avatar. I respected the hell out of that. I love Fincher as much as the next fanboy, but if he was that upset at being there, he shouldn’t have showed up. He pulled a Jay Cutler, sitting emotionless and nonchalant on the sideline like he wasn’t even part of the proceedings. Very disappointing.

-I’m glad they told the audience not to clap for individual people during the In Memoriam clip. It’s always awkward when certain dead people get roaring ovations, and then the next person gets total silence or merely a polite golf clap just because they weren’t a popular, big name actor.

-Then there was the part where Anne Hathaway introduced Hilary Swank, who then immediately introduced Kathryn Bigelow to present Best Director. HUH?! Much as I love Hilary Swank, we probably could have cut out the middle woman on that one, no? There’s 30 seconds of airtime trimmed.

-As much as I worship Steven Spielberg, how many times is he gonna present Best Picture? It seems like he’s done it 5 of the last 10 years. There are no other distinguished veteran actors or filmmakers who are willing to do this? I could list 10 people who’d be suited for it. And no, Kirk Douglas is not one of them.

Quick notes on some of the winners and losers:

Randy Newman won for a good, but ultimately unmemorable Toy Story 3 song. I think he won because people thought (rightly so) that the other 3 options were similarly unremarkable (though “If I Rise” from 127 Hours is a superior song to Newman’s). If you look at my nominees, the Newman song is probably the weakest of the bunch, and I have 5 nominees, not 4. The Academy voters have NO vision when it comes to choosing original songs. I mean, these boobs didn’t even NOMINATE Bruce Springsteen‘s “The Wrestler” 2 years ago, and that song should have been the hands down winner. They didn’t even nominate it. Lunacy.

Alice in Wonderland winning for Art Direction and Costume Design. Holy shit. I’ve seen some travesties in my years of watching the Oscars, but this is especially appalling. It’s not quite “Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture” bad, but it’s in the top 10. All these talented artists designing and building amazing sets in real life for movies like True Grit, Inception, King’s Speech and Harry Potter, and they give Art Direction to a movie where all the art direction was done on a fuckin computer. That’s insulting. This would be like giving Best Picture to a video game. I don’t know how they screwed that up, I really don’t. And then they give it Costume Design, when really there were only about 5 humans in the movie to begin with. Or did the plurality of Oscar voters really think the digital costumes on the stupid CGI rabbit and the stupid frog butlers in the castle were that brilliant? Give me a break. Alice in Wonderland is basically an animated film. You don’t give animated movies awards for art direction and costumes, unless you want to create categories specifically for that. Best Animated Art Direction to Alice in Wonderland? Fine, have at it. But so long as people are building real sets in the real world, they ought to get first priority in winning awards like this. Obviously!

-As happy as I was for Inception‘s Wally Pfister winning for Cinematography, this really should have been Roger Deakins‘ year. This is now 9 Oscar nominations for Deakins with no wins, and when he finally does work that clearly stood above the rest, he still doesn’t win. I don’t get it.

-Though Inception didn’t get all the nominations it deserved, it was still able to tie The King’s Speech with 4 wins (Cinematography, Sound, Sound Editing, Visual Effects), which is very cool. Someone even called Christopher Nolan his “master”, which I found amusing.

-And since I guess you can’t discuss the Oscars without talking about who wore what, I’ll do my part. I’m no fashion expert, but I know what I like. And I’ve pretty much loved everything Jennifer Lawrence has worn this entire awards season. She did not disappoint in her grand finale:

Kudos also to red carpet hotties Mila Kunis, Scarlett Johansson and Erin Andrews (though who knows why she was there).

Oh fine, one more:

In the name of the father, the son, the holy spirit…

-Finally, I’d like to thank Charlie Sheen for not only being a drunkard drug fiend, but for now being clinically insane on top of it all. Thanks to that epic 20-minute rant he did on that radio show last week, we now have this amazing Charlie Sheen Soundboard to play with (be sure to click on the arrows as there are 4 pages to it). Winning!

The Biggie award winners will be announced tomorrow. I have to get the stench of some of these Oscar results off my hands.

Today’s Recommended Listening? A very nice dance mix I recently heard to Radiohead‘s masterpiece, “Everything In Its Right Place”, done by the great Paul Oakenfold.

The 2010 Biggie Awards (And My Top 10 of 2010 List)

The 22nd Annual BGW Academy Awards

aka The Biggies

for achievements in film for the year 2010

Welcome to my annual celebration of the year that was at the movies. After a disappointing 2009, it was so much fun to get back to a solid year, and 2010 was just that. On a scale of 1-10, if 2009 was a 6.5-7, 2010 was definitely an 8. There was no runaway, “this is the greatest movie I’ve ever seen”, but there were a couple dozen very good films, and 5-7 excellent ones. It was solid from start to finish, kicking off with the underrated but damned good The Book of Eli in January, and finishing with movies like The King’s Speech and 127 Hours. I added 15 movies from 2010 to my all-time list of Movies I Love, and a few even cracked my all-time top 150.

I rehash this every year for those unaware, but the Biggies are my answer to the Oscars. I long ago grew tired of the Academy passing over movies and people I thought KNEW should be nominated. In 1997, I started doing my own nominees every year in the same categories as the Oscars (with the exception of Foreign Language films, documentaries and short films, which I don’t see enough of every year to do their own category), and I’ve since gone back and done nominees and winners all the way back to 1989, where Glory is my first Best Picture winner. ’97 was the first year in my so-called “Modern Era”, as in it was the first year where I started seeing every big contender in theaters (which was much easier then when I saw all my movies for free as an employee). My awards have evolved over time, and I now do two categories (Best Ensemble Performance, Best Stuntwork) that the Oscars don’t, but should. On the other hand, unlike the Academy, I did not add a Best Animated Feature category, as I’m simply not interested in seeing every CG kids movie that comes out every year. They’re called the Biggies because Biggie is my longtime nickname, and it seemed to instantly make sense, since every awards show has to end in an “ees” pronunciation (Grammys, Tonys, Emmys, you get it).

How do I remember everything, and how do I pick my nominees? Basically, I create a file every year called a “nomination ballot”, where I list every category. Every time I see a movie that year, I come home and list it under every category I think it deserves consideration in, so at the end of each year, I’ll have a bunch of options in each category from which I choose 5 final nominees. In some cases, they’re easy choices, in others it can take weeks before I settle on the top 5. I try to put my nominees out each year after the Oscars announce their nominees, but before the actual Oscar ceremony. I will announce my winners a day or two after the Oscars.

I’m proud of how my awards have evolved over the years. I take this very seriously and try to see every major awards contender every year before doing my own nominations. You’ll see a wide variety of films and styles represented, and I like to think that my opinion has some legitimacy amongst my friends who are also big movie buffs, or among anyone who knows a lot about movies. I also hope that casual moviegoers can learn a few things from my impassioned arguments for my nominees. I’ve been slowly building a history book that will show every nominee and winner for every year I’ve done this (as well as some cool stats), and I even have my own Motion Picture Hall of Fame. Again, I take this pretty seriously, but it’s also very damn fun and one of the things I most look forward to doing each January-February. As a movie nerd and aspiring filmmaker, I love having my own interpretation of cinematic history on record.

If you’d like to compare my nominees with the Oscars, you can find this year’s Oscar nominees HERE. I’m doing a cool little thing this year, where next to each category (in red percentages) I tell you how many of my nominees line up with the Oscars’. For the math disinclined, 20% means only 1 nominee in that category is the same as the Oscars, 40% for 2, 60% for 3, etc. I think you’ll find I don’t disagree in vast numbers with the Academy, but where we do disagree, I disagree violently.

Without further ado, here is one educated opinion on the very best the movies had to offer in 2010:

UPDATE: WINNERS are in bold. HERE are the Oscar winners for comparison. Any new notes I made after choosing the winners are in green. Also updated is the “Big Winners!” section.

BEST PICTURE (80% Oscar compliance)

1. Inception (producers Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan- Warner Bros.)

2. The King’s Speech (producers Iain Cumming, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin- Weinstein)

3. The Social Network (producers Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, Ceán Chaffin- Sony)

4. The Town (producers Graham King, Basil Iwanyk- Warner Bros.)

5. True Grit (producers Scott Rudin, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen- Paramount)






I didn’t expect this to be the case, but True Grit is our overall nominations leader, with a massive 14. That doesn’t mean it’s the best movie of the year, but often the film with the most nominations does end up with the top prize. It is one of the finest westerns ever made, and the best Hollywood has churned out since Clint Eastwood‘s Unforgiven in 1992. It may also have topped Fargo as my all-time favorite Coen Brothers movie. Let it be known that I don’t go into this with an agenda. If I did, Inception, my favorite movie of 2010, would lead the nominations. But that’s not the case. I call em like I see em. That said, Inception is doing just fine with 12 nominations (4 more than the dumb Oscars saw fit to give it), and it’s Christopher Nolan‘s 4th straight film to be nominated for Best Picture (after Batman Begins, The Prestige and The Dark Knight).

I wasn’t sure I’d like King’s Speech as much as I did. It’s not a forced nomination just to coincide with what everyone else is doing. The film deserves to be here. It’s an excellent picture that isn’t boring for a second (as one might wrongly assume from a British costume drama), and it features some of the best visuals and 3 of the best individual performances of the year (though none of its acting nominees got where they are without the assistance of the others). The Social Network was a no-brainer, as it is perhaps the most socially relevant film to come out since the turn of the century. It also helps that the movie was brought to life in every aspect with near perfect execution. The Town edged out 127 Hours for the last spot for several reasons, but mainly because it’s so very hard to create a stirring drama or a good heist thriller, let alone combine the two in a way that hasn’t been done since Michael Mann‘s 1995 masterpiece, Heat. The fact that it was made in and around my beloved Boston is a factor, but only a minor one. This film earns its merits, and those include 6 nominations here today.

To put things in perspective, I have 4 movies this year with 10 or more nominations. In 2009, Inglourious Basterds and Star Trek led the way with 9 nominations each. True Grit‘s 14 nods ties it with the likes of Braveheart and Titanic, but falls short of the all-time Biggies record holder, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which garnered 17 nods in an epic 2003 (which saw it battle The Last Samurai and its 15 nominations).

This was a very tough decision, but I like that. In the end, I truly believe Inception was best, and it also helps that it’s exactly the kind of film I hope to be making. It was close, though. If this had been a horse race, Inception would have beaten True Grit by half a length, with Social Network just a head’s length behind True Grit. As much as I love a clear-cut, Secretariat at the Belmont Stakes-level winner (like Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, or Gladiator in years past), it’s always fun to agonize over the top choice when there is another movie (or in this year’s case, 2 movies) that are right there with it in consideration.

BEST DIRECTOR (60% Oscar compliance)
1. Ben Affleck, The Town

2. Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit

3. David Fincher, The Social Network

4. Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech

5. Christopher Nolan, Inception






My directing nominees line up with the Best Picture nominees 9 times out of 10, and this year is no different. Film is a directors’ medium, and this year’s best directing jobs were done on the year’s 5 best films. Ben Affleck grabs a well-deserved first directing nomination on just his second feature film. I knew he could handle actors and get good performances, but I wasn’t prepared for how good he’d be at suspense and action scenes as well. And let’s face it, anytime you set your climactic showdown inside Fenway Park, you’re ahead of the game with me. Though no one predicted it, David Fincher ended up being the only director who could make the Facebook story this interesting. In a career of sublime directing work, this may take top marks, particularly with regards to degree of difficulty. Fincher is nominated for his 4th Best Director Biggie.

England produces some fine directors, and I was not surprised in the least at how good a job Tom Hooper did on The King’s Speech, not after the incredible work he did directing 7 episodes of HBO’s John Adams miniseries. Christopher Nolan, another Brit import, may be the hottest director in Hollywood right now, and he’s also quickly rising on the list of filmmakers who inspire me the most. Inception, a big canvas, big idea, smart, equal on action and drama, piece of mainstream entertainment (that’s also an original idea) is exactly the kind of movie I want to make. This is Nolan’s third directing nomination (after both Batmovies, including a win for Dark Knight), and I’m quite sure it won’t be the last. And big shocker! The Coens can do westerns, too.

It would take circumstances that I can’t even imagine for me to not have the Best Director winner line up with the Best Picture winner. There were no such circumstances this year, and Mr. Nolan takes home his second Best Director Biggie in 3 years.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY (80%)
1. Black Swan, written by Andres Heinz, Mark Heyman, John McLaughlin

2. The Fighter, written by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson

3. Inception, written by Christopher Nolan

4. The Kids Are All Right, written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg

5. The King’s Speech, written by David Seidler

Though the King’s Speech script is a little neater and has stronger dialogue, Inception wins because of the magnitude and vision of its originality, along with the fact that it has strong dialogue as well. But those were the two scripts that were well ahead of the pack here. Congrats again to Chris Nolan for pulling off the trifecta, winning for writing, producing and directing. In Biggies history, he joins the likes of James CameronPeter JacksonMichael Mann, and Paul Thomas Anderson. Pretty elite company.


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY (60%)
1. 127 Hours, screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy

2. Shutter Island, screenplay by Laeta Kalogridi

3. The Social Network, screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

4. The Town, screenplay by Ben Affleck, Aaron Stockard, Peter Craig

5. True Grit, screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

No surprise, all 5 Best Picture nominees have their scripts nominated as well, 2 in original, and 3 based on previous works. I think True Grit and Social Network are two of the best scripts I’ve ever seen put to film, so this is a tough, tough race.

Choosing between Social Network and True Grit was excruciating, but in the end I went with Aaron Sorkin primarily because the degree of difficulty was probably a little higher on that project. But that’s the kind of amazing script it took to beat Grit, which would have taken this category handily in almost any other year. Fine scripts, all.

BEST ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE
1. Inception

2. The King’s Speech

3. The Social Network

4. The Town

5. True Grit

Interesting that this category also lines up perfectly with Best Picture this year. It may be the first time that’s happened. It’s no coincidence that I prefer movies with big, talented casts, and this year we were very lucky to get more than a few sterling ensemble films.

BEST ACTOR (80%)

1. Jeff Bridges, True Grit

2. Robert Duvall, Get Low

3. Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network

4. Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

5. James Franco, 127 Hours






Many of you will almost certainly see 4 of these performances, but I cannot recommend highly enough that you seek out Get Low and rediscover the genius of Robert Duvall. His was the first of these films that I saw this year, and I was fairly certain he’d be sticking around until the end and pick up a nomination. The film is available to buy now, and available on Netflix on the 22nd. Add it to your queue, and add it high. Jeff Bridges picks up his second consecutive nomination (after winning last year for his incredible performance in Crazy Heart), and his work in True Grit is simply sublime. I still haven’t seen the John Wayne version, but I can’t imagine there’s any comparison. Jesse Eisenberg has the least “showy” role in this group, but his workmanship and his subtlety are just as impressive as anyone screaming or crying in a more glamorous role. He’s incredible. Colin Firth is also nominated here for the second straight year, and if this year’s other awards races are any indication, he’s the frontrunner. We’ll see. If YOU haven’t seen him in The King’s Speech, you’re doing yourself a great disservice as a movie fan. And then there’s James Franco, the holy-shit one man show of 127 Hours. This seems to be his breakout year, but I saw this success coming as far back as his amazing performance in the TNT TV movie James Dean, where yes, he played James Dean. A really good movie. That was back in 2001. I love this guy. I can’t wait to see him co-host the Oscars, and I can’t wait to see what he does with his new clout. As you’ll see in the close calls section below, it pained me to leave 4 or 5 other performances off this list.

BEST ACTRESS (40%)
1. Anne Hathaway, Love & Other Drugs

2. Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right

3. Natalie Portman, Black Swan

4. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

5. Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine






This may have been the strongest year yet for contenders in this category. There were 3 or 4 that I hated to leave off, and a couple more big performances that I didn’t even get the chance to see. After finally seeing The Kids Are All Right, I’m still baffled why Annette Bening is getting all the awards attention, when Julianne Moore has the more versatile, far more interesting role between the two of them. She was astounding, and deserves the nod over Bening. As you can also see, I refuse to put Hailee Steinfeld in the Supporting Actress category like most of this year’s awards shows have. It’s absurd. She doesn’t support anyone. She’s the lead character, she grips your attention even against Jeff Bridges, and she easily has the most screen time of any actor in the film. Placing her in the supporting category here would be like saying Tom Hanks was a supporting actor in Cast Away. Anne Hathaway was the last one in here, and though Love & Other Drugs struggled to maintain tone, her performance was too good to ignore. She gets to do so much in this movie, and it’s just as brave a performance as it is good.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (60%)
1. Christian Bale, The Fighter

2. Andrew Garfield, The Social Network

3. Jeremy Renner, The Town

4. Sam Rockwell, Conviction

5. Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech






Christian Bale was almost in the same boat as Hailee Steinfeld. He doesn’t have quite as much screen time as Mark Wahlberg, but it’s damn close. He’s as close to a co-lead as you can be. However, you can make the argument in Bale’s case that he is supporting Wahlberg, so I kept him in this category. The same was almost true with Mr. Garfield, but it’s not quite as close. He’s just a supporting actor with a lot of screen time. The Oscars somehow muffed on nominating him, but it was never in doubt for me. Almost nobody saw Conviction, but it’s one of Sam Rockwell‘s finest performances, if not his very best. If you’re a fan of his, you owe it to yourself to watch him and the great Hilary Swank as brother and sister in this movie. And of course, Jeremy Renner‘s (nominated for Best Actor just last year) greatness in The Town needs no introduction.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (80%)
1. Amy Adams, The Fighter

2. Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech

3. Melissa Leo, The Fighter

4. Chloe Grace Moretz, Kick-Ass

5. Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom






I’m always good for at least one wild card in the acting categories, and Chloe Moretz is it this year. She was simply perfect in Kick-Ass (Hit Girl was one of my favorite characters of the year), and who am I to ignore perfection? Getting a 12-year old girl to appear sweet and innocent is one thing, but getting that same girl to look like a credible badass against grown men? Well, that’s fucking impressive. I look forward to seeing Moretz and Hailee Steinfeld grow up onscreen before our eyes, and hopefully they both continue to seek out interesting roles. Moretz was also great in Let Me In, making 2010 a revelatory year for her. Jacki Weaver gets in based almost solely on one incredible scene in Animal Kingdom (which I won’t spoil, but you’ll know it if you’ve seen the movie), and she’s the most evil mother character I’ve seen at the movies in years. She also gets one of the year’s best one-liners in the aforementioned scene, “You’ve done some bad things, sweetie.”

My 4 individual acting winners lined up perfectly with the Oscars, which is an incredibly rare occurrence.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY (60%)
1. Jeff Cronenweth, The Social Network

2. Roger Deakins, True Grit

3. John Mathieson, Robin Hood

4. Wally Pfister, Inception

5. Robert Richardson, Shutter Island

Another exceptional year for cinematic visuals. It’s criminal that the Oscars ignored Robin Hood for its craft, but that tends to happen when the overall movie isn’t very good. Well, it deserves this nod, as John Mathieson continues to do amazing work on Ridley Scott‘s epics. We also have the exquisite modern hi-def precision of Social Network‘s digital photography and Roger Deakins‘ old school 35mm giving us some of the most beautiful imagery in the history of the western (or any other genre for that matter).

BEST FILM EDITING (60%)
1. Tariq Anwar, The King’s Speech

2. Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, The Social Network

3. Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit

4. Jon Harris, 127 Hours

5. Lee Smith, Inception

Prior to my seeing 127 Hours, I had this category perfectly lined up with Best Picture, but sadly, I had to bump Dylan Tichenor (The Town) off in favor of Jon Harris‘ visceral, complex work on Danny Boyle‘s film. It was a very tough choice, but I believe the right one. I don’t usually prefer super flashy editing, but when it’s appropriate (as it was in the past for nominated movies like Snatch and Hot Fuzz), it’s tough to match. Don’t feel too bad for Tichenor though, as he won just 3 years ago for There Will Be Blood.

BEST ART DIRECTION (60%)

1. The Book of Eli

2. Inception

3. The King’s Speech

4. Robin Hood

5. True Grit

The production design around that first castle siege scene alone was almost enough to win the prize for Ridley Scott’s epic, but of course the rest of the movie was designed just as skillfully. Either way, 5 great choices here. Just a reminder that the Academy gave this to Alice in Fucking Wonderland. ‘Nuff said.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN (40%)

1. Jenny Beaven, The King’s Speech

2. Sandy Powell, Shutter Island

3. Michael Wilkinson, Tron: Legacy

4. Janty Yates, Robin Hood

5. Mary Zophres, True Grit

This was a close one between Robin Hood and True Grit, but I decided the sheer volume of beautiful, detail-oriented costumes in Robin Hood was enough to take home the prize. That said, everyone who saw Tron was a winner whenever Olivia Wilde was on screen in her absurdly hot little outfit. Did I say that out loud? Oops.

BEST MAKEUP (0% – LOLZ)
1. Alice in Wonderland

2. Black Swan

3. Clash of the Titans

4. Shutter Island

5. True Grit

This just shows how fair-minded I am. I despised Alice in Wonderland, but won’t deny the exceptional work done by its makeup team. Shit, the Oscars nominated Norbit in this category a few years ago. For whatever reason, the Oscars fuck this category up on an annual basis.


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (60%)

(next to each nominee is a sample for ya of a track I think epitomizes the quality of the score)


1. Carter Burwell, True Grit

2. Daft Punk, Tron: Legacy

3. Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross, Claudia Sarne, The Book of Eli

4. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network

5. Hans Zimmer, Inception

This was easily one of the top 5 years for scores since I’ve been doing this. The nominees are an eclectic mix, and as you’ll see below, there were 3 or 4 others I’d have been perfectly happy nominating. Veteran music producer and newbie film composer Atticus Ross becomes the first double nominee in this category since John Williams in 2005 (Munich/Star Wars: Episode III). I loved the completely original, melodically ambient score to Book of Eli since the first time I saw it last January, and I had hoped it would still be in the top 5 come the end of year. Thankfully, it is. This is also the sixth consecutive year Hans Zimmer has been nominated (he last won for The Dark Knight in ’08), and he’s still finding new twists to put on his epic stylings. In this case, it was the brilliant, seamless integration of Johnny Marr‘s guitar work. I’ve been wanting certain ‘regular’ musicians (Trent Reznor included) to try their hand at scoring for years, and I am thrilled with the initial results. Obviously, my love of electronic music was also rewarded this year, with Daft Punk‘s brilliant electronic/orchestral mix on Tron. The best thing about that score is that the orchestral arrangements are often just as strong as the electronic components.

The most interesting thing about the Tron score, for me, was the fact that the movie did not deserve music that good. You very rarely see a great score done to a subpar or bad movie. I’m of the belief that if a composer isn’t looking at a great film, you can’t expect him or her to go off and be inspired to write great music. Somehow, that didn’t happen here. Tron was just okay, but Daft Punk gave it a score as if it were the Best Picture frontrunner. I don’t know who to credit for that, but it’s a rare accomplishment, and no matter who wins, I wanted to make that clear as just another reason to be amazed at Daft Punk’s work here. This was not the case with True Grit, and Carter Burwell, like his collaborators the Coens, continues to show he can do any genre at any scale. A beautiful, classically inspired western score that could just as easily have been composed in 1950.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross were great, but when Hans Zimmer does some of the best work of his career, that’s gonna be enough to beat just about anyone doing any other project. This is Zimmer’s 4th Original Score win, and the man is clearly still in his prime.


BEST ORIGINAL SONG (40%)
1. “If I Rise”, written by A.R. Rahman, Dido, Rollo Armstrong

performed by Dido, 127 Hours

2. “Furry Walls”, written by Dan Bern, Mike Viola, Judd Apatow

performed by Infant Sorrow, Get Him to the Greek

3. “Sticks and Stones”, written & performed by Jónsi, How to Train Your Dragon

4. “Black Sheep”, written by James Shaw, Emily Haines

performed by Metric and Brie Larson, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

5. “We Belong Together”, written & performed by Randy Newman, Toy Story 3

Though all of these songs are good, this was yet another incredibly weak year for the category. Compare my list with the Oscar nominees, and I’m sure you’ll agree, mine are infinitely better and more creative choices. I knew as soon as I walked out of Get Him to the Greek that “Furry Walls” would probably be one of my nominees. How the Oscars overlooked the Jonsi song is beyond me, but they specialize in oversights like that.

“Stay close to me, come one, two and three.” I love that song, man.


BEST STUNTWORK (N/A)

1. The Expendables

2. Inception

3. Salt

4. The Town

5. Unstoppable

I like the variety of stuntwork represented here. We’ve got bank heists and shootouts, zero-G acrobatics, massive train collisions, and brutal physicality. I was glad to fit The Expendables in, because you have to respect Stallone as a director, in that almost all of those great fight scenes, explosions and gun battles were done without CGI assistance.

It certainly helped The Expendables that I just rewatched it last week before making this decision, but it sure as hell deserves this recognition. Brutal hand-to-hand combat, awesome shootouts, numerous massive (and real!) explosions, big movie stars doing their own stunts. THIS is what stuntwork is all about. Bravo to Stallone and his cast, and especially to stunt coordinator Kyle Stahelski and his team.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS (40%)
1. Clash of the Titans

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I

3. Inception

4. Predators

5. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Here was my chance to recognize some fine work that was done for films that didn’t qualify elsewhere. Though Clash of the Titans was hugely disappointing overall, its effects were excellent, and a recent rewatching of the movie on HBO confirmed this. I ADORED the design of their Kraken, and its big reveal at the end of the movie is jaw dropping. It’s just a shame they completely wasted the creature in the movie. I did not like Deathly Hallows: Part I, but the effects were excellent as they always are on the Potter films. I was thrilled by what they were able to accomplish on Predators on such a small budget (credit to Robert Rodriguez‘s genius filmmaking frugality), and the myriad effects shots (from onscreen text to people flying and fighting to Jason Schwartzmann‘s 8-bit sword to the little visual in-gags) in Scott Pilgrim are the very definition of effects done to enhance and support the story, which is what all visual effects must be if they’re to be in any way impressive. This was a great year for good VFX.


BEST SOUND (80%)

1. Buried

2. Inception

3. The King’s Speech

4. The Social Network

5. True Grit

BEST SOUND EDITING (80%)

1. 127 Hours

2. Inception

3. Tron: Legacy

4. True Grit

5. Unstoppable

Once again to clarify for the ignorant, basically, the difference between Sound and Sound Editing is that Sound is for the overall sound design (the effective mixing of dialogue, music, action, how it’s combined at the right volumes, etc.) and Sound Editing is for excellence in the creation and placement of sound effects. It’s no coincidence that 4 of the Best Picture nominees are represented in the Sound category. It’s rare that a great movie doesn’t have amazing sound design. I’d have to check, but I’m willing to bet at least half of my Best Picture winners have won Best Sound.

2010-11 Biggies Motion Picture Hall of Fame Inductees:

RICK CARTER (Orson Welles Craftsmanship Wing)

MICHAEL DOUGLAS (James Stewart Actors Wing)

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER (John Cazale Actors Wing)

MARTIN SCORSESE (Alfred Hitchcock Directors Wing)

STEVEN ZAILLIAN (Epstein-Koch Writers Wing)

I induct no more than 5 people per year, and no more than 2 in one year to a single wing. Eligibility for the Hall is based on work that person has done since the Biggies have existed (i.e. from 1989 to present).

Annual Career Achievement/Honorary Awards:

THE MARLON BRANDO LEGENDARY PERFORMANCE AWARD

2011 Recipient: TIM CURRY, for his performance in Clue (1985)



The Brando Award is given to an actor who gave a classic, memorable performance in a film released prior to the Biggies’ existence. The Biggies go back to the films of 1989.

THE STUDIO OF THE YEAR

2010 Recipient: 20TH Century Fox/Fox Searchlight (The A-Team, Machete, Predators, Conviction, Unstoppable, Love & Other Drugs, Black Swan, 127 Hours) (This is Fox’s first Studio of the Year victory since 2002 and their second overall since I began handing out the award in 2000.)

BIG WINNERS!

Inception – 8 wins [Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Original Score, Visual Effects, Sound, Sound Editing]

The Fighter, Robin Hood, The Social Network and True Grit each won 2.

BIG NOMINEES!

True Grit
– 14 nominations [Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Ensemble Performance, Actor, Actress, Cinematography, Film Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup, Original Score, Sound, Sound Editing]

Inception – 12 nominations [Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Ensemble Performance, Cinematography, Film Editing, Art Direction, Original Score, Stuntwork, Visual Effects, Sound, Sound Editing]

The King’s Speech
– 11 nominations [Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Ensemble Performance, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Film Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Sound]

The Social Network
– 10 nominations [Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Ensemble Performance, Actor, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound]

The Town – 6 nominations [Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Ensemble Performance, Supporting Actor, Stuntwork]

127 Hours – 5 nominations [Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Film Editing, Original Song, Sound Editing]

The Fighter
– 4 nominations [Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress x2]

Shutter Island – 4 nominations [Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup]

Black Swan
– 3 nominations [Original Screenplay, Actress, Makeup]

Robin Hood – 3 nominations [Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design]

Tron: Legacy – 3 nominations [Costume Design, Original Score, Sound Editing]

People:

Joel & Ethan Coen – 4 nominations [Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing]

Ben Affleck – 3 nominations [Director, Adapted Screenplay, Ensemble Performance]

Christopher Nolan – 3 nominations [Picture, Director, Original Screenplay]

Atticus Ross – 2 nominations [Original Score x2]

Scott Rudin – 2 nominations [Picture x2]

Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth, Hailee Steinfeld, Andrew Garfield, Jeremy Renner, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter are all double-nominated, each for their individual performances as well as being nominated with their casts for Best Ensemble


NUMBER OF DIFFERENT FILMS NOMINATED:
31
(compared to 28 in 2009 and the Oscars’ 31 different films as well in the same categories this year)

This Year’s Strongest Categories: Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound, Sound Editing

This Year’s Weakest Categories: Original Song

Notable Omissions (films and people that narrowly missed the cut)

BEST PICTURE–  127 Hours

BEST DIRECTOR Danny Boyle (127 Hours)

BEST ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE–  The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right

BEST ACTOR Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception), Leonardo DiCaprio (Shutter Island), Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine), Samuel L. Jackson (Unthinkable), Ryan Reynolds (Buried), DID NOT SEE:
Javier Bardem (Biutiful)

BEST ACTRESS–  Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Hilary Swank (Conviction), DID NOT SEE:
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Leslie Manville (Another Year)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR–  Vincent Cassel (Black Swan), Matt Damon (True Grit), Gary Oldman (The Book of Eli), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right), Martin Sheen (Unthinkable)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS–  Rose Byrne (Get Him to the Greek), Mila Kunis (Black Swan), Sissy Spacek (Get Low)

CINEMATOGRAPHYDon Burgess (The Book of Eli), Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle (127 Hours), Danny Cohen (The King’s Speech), Robert Elswit (The Town), Matthew Libatique (Black Swan), Eduardo Serra (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I)

ORIGINAL SCORERamin Djawadi (Clash of the Titans), Harry Gregson-Williams and David Buckley (The Town), John Powell (How to Train Your Dragon), A.R. Rahman (127 Hours)

BIGGIE’S TOP 10 OF 2010

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10.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: BLACK SWAN, BURIED, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, KICK-ASS, TOY STORY 3, SHUTTER ISLAND, UNTHINKABLE

(Note: My Top 10 is a list of my favorite movies of the year, not the 10 best. As always, there is a difference between favorite and best. If I could put a gun to your head and force you to watch 10 movies from 2010, these are the films I’d make you watch.)


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