Posts Tagged 'david fincher'

The 2017 Biggie Awards (and my Top 10 & Bottom 5 of 2016)

The 28th Annual Biggie Awards

for the love of movies.

Celebrating achievements in film for the year 2016

So 2016 has come and gone. A year I had big hopes for about 15 months ago turned out to be quite a dud in the grand scheme of things. It was even worse than 2015. For the second year in a row, I rated no theatrical release a ‘9’ on IMDb. There were no masterpieces, no all-time greats. There were some really good movies, and I put almost 20 more films on my “Movies I Love” list, but in terms of quality and the ability to stand the test of time, even the second or third-best movies of most past years would have easily won my Best Picture award over this lot.

Lobster Farrell bury
Me waiting for 2016 to be over.

2016 also broke a pretty long streak of spectacular even-numbered years. It was such a mediocre year that it even gave us a Steven Spielberg movie I couldn’t bring myself to watch (The BFG). General cinematic malaise aside, there were, as always, some highlights…

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The 2015 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 and Bottom 5 of 2014)

The 26th Annual Biggie Awards

[UPDATED WITH WINNERS!]

for achievements in film for the year 2014

(click on any image to see the full-size version)

A year like 2014 is precisely why I created my own awards to begin with. It’s a year when the Oscars and I disagreed perhaps more than we ever have. I dutifully watched the Academy Awards this year, as I always do, but I had little to no rooting interest, as almost none of my favorite movies were up in the categories they should’ve been recognized in. Though you’ll find quite a bit of overlap in our acting nominees, I only agree with 3 of the Academy’s 8 Best Picture nominees, and they passed gas on nearly all of their technical categories. What else is new?

I thought 2014 was a good year on the whole, but not great. Maybe a B+ if I were to grade it. The barometer I use in judging an entire year is how many movies I put on my all-time “Movies I Love” list. This year, there were 21 new entrees on that list. There were 22 in 2013 and 25 in 2012. For perspective, the most ever is 31 from 2000. None of 2014’s entries will wind up in my all-time top 100, but that’s a tough list to crack any year.

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The Early October Update

Helluuuur! Yeah yeah, it’s been awhile, I know. I haven’t had much to say over the past couple months, so by extension I haven’t had much to share. But I have seen a buttload of good movies of late, and figured it was time for a review dump. I’ve got some recommendations for yo ass, so pay attention.

GONE GIRL

Gone Girl poster

The 3-year wait between David Fincher films (his last was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2011) has been excruciating, even if we did get two Fincher-directed House of Cards episodes last year on Netflix. But he’s finally back, all is right in the cinematic universe, and of course he has not disappointed with one of the mostly hotly anticipated films of 2014. Why do people like me worship this man’s work so much? It’s not too complicated. When people say the first job of a director is to know what he or she wants, David Fincher is the embodiment of that. If you’ve watched the A+ special features on any of Fincher’s movies, you know what I’m talking about. I have learned so much about the filmmaking process just by watching this man work, and I’m grateful to him for having been so open with his audience. I can’t wait to get Gone Girl on Blu-ray and spend hours poring through the bonus content. He also does some of the best, most informative commentaries you’ll ever listen to. He’s one of the most consistent and talented filmmakers alive, and he hasn’t made a bad movie since his first movie, which was 22 years ago. That’s something worth admiring, methinks.

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You Know What I’d Like to See?

I’ll tell you what I’d like to see. A lot of things. But let’s start with these random 25 things, in no particular order. We’ll cover sports, movies, television, politics, current events, and one sexy automobile.

WARNING: Since many of these turned into their own mini-rants, this post is rated R for language.

-I’d like to see the Boston Red Sox win their third World Series in 9 years, with the most likable team since 2004, and have them win this one at home at Fenway Park. What’s that? DONE, DONE, AND DONE? Excellent!

FINAL OUT

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5 “In Development” Projects I Need Right Now

Ever wonder what happened to that cool-sounding movie project you heard about a few years ago that still hasn’t been made? Ever wonder why a sequel that seemed like a sure thing seems to now be drifting aimlessly in limbo? Well, more than likely that project is stuck in what Hollywood calls “Development Hell”. Movies get stalled for an infinite number of reasons, but some are more common than others. For example, an actor may be holding out for a bigger paycheck, the studio may not give a greenlight until the filmmakers find a way to reduce the budget, or the director may have found another project he or she wants to do first. Sometimes, on a movie like Avatar (which James Cameron first concocted sometime in the 90’s), the filmmakers have to wait for technology to catch up with their vision. Other times, the strange can occur: did you know that Tom Cruise was originally going to star in Salt? When he dropped out and moved on, the main character was rewritten as a woman and presented to Angelina Jolie, who said yes.

BUT…the biggest thing holding up most in-development movies is the script. Either it isn’t done yet, or somebody isn’t satisfied with how the first draft ended up, so the studio has to commission a rewrite, perhaps with an entirely different writer (or writers). A lot of big name actors, producers and directors have script approval, so some movies can’t get made until the people at the top of the creative food chain are satisfied. And then, even when they are satisfied, the studio may then have hesitations. It’s a common conundrum in big budget filmmaking, causing some movies to be delayed months or years, even after the studio has publicly stated, “Yes, we’re making this.”

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The 2012 Biggie Awards

The 23rd Annual Biggie Awards

aka The Biggies

for achievements in film for the year 2011

MMXI (that’s 2011 in Roman numerals, noobs), it was a strange year at the movies. Very strange indeed. For the first few months of the year, I thought it might end up being the worst overall year for the number of quality films in my adult life. Though there were a couple nice surprises early on (The Lincoln Lawyer, The Adjustment Bureau), it wasn’t until April that I finally saw a movie I truly loved (Hanna). After that, we went most of the rest of spring and almost the entire summer without a truly great movie, which instead was an unending string of disappointments and bland sequels. And I mean real bland, bland by even modern Hollywood standards (I mean, even Pixar made a subpar movie this year). That includes almost all of the major summer “tentpoles”. The big Marvel Avengers tie-in comic book flicks (Thor, Captain America) were both okay, but just okay. Then there was Green Lantern, which can only be described as godawful. I’m still having nightmares over the fact that a giant cloud of diarrhea was a villain in a movie that cost more than $250 million. Michael Bay continued crushing the memory of my childhood heroes with another shitty mess of a Transformers movie (Dark of the Moon, which was only 8.2% better than that atrocity Revenge of the Fallen), while Todd Phillips followed up one of the greatest comedies ever made (The Hangover) with an offensively lazy sequel that was almost literally a carbon copy of the first. I wanted more from J.J. Abrams‘ much-hyped Super 8 (hated the creature design, hated the ending), and although I enjoyed X-Men: First Class, it didn’t hold up as well upon a second viewing recently on Blu-ray.

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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.


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