Have you guys seen the Disney short (and now Oscar winning Best Animated short) Paperman? I have to be honest; all my attention is always on the feature films and never on the shorts. Well, I specially tracked this one down. I’m happy to report that its as beautifully charming as it has been suggested at the awards ceremony and in the press. Set in 1940s New York, it’s a black and white, silent, romantic comedy that shows us when things are meant to be, they will happen. I’m a sucker for a good love story, and this one is so sweet. Take 6 minutes of your time today and watch it after the jump.
1. The Brits are (really) taking over. We are in the middle of another British invasion; did you know? If you’re like me, you noted just how much the Brits are dominating American television, movies, and music, sometimes without us even being really aware (the buggers can do great American accents). From 2013 Golden Globe winners Damien Lewis of Homeland (a show that has a number of British actors playing American) to Daniel Day-Lewis (who is known to take on American historical figures a time or two), they are proving to be a force in Hollywood (and I’m loving it). Let’s not forget GG winner Adele (for the Bond song “Skyfall”) and nominees Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Judi Dench, Clive Owen, Maggie Smith, and others.
2. The duo of Wiig and Ferrell would make awesome 2014 award show hosts. Oh, yeah, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did a great job hosting the Golden Globes but they weren’t the best duo on stage. That prize went to Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell who showed up to present the award to the Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy (asking as though they had never been anywhere fancy before). They were determined to prove they had seen all of the nominated performances (they had not) by recapping what the movies were about. You can only imagine what can next. Hopefully the organizers noted this award show standout moment: Wiig and Ferrell ‘14.
In case you haven’t heard (or don’t really care to which you won’t be reading this post anyway), this morning around 8:30 am EST, the nominations for the 85th Academy Awards were announced. I had some big hopes (Leo DiCaprio, who made Django Unchained so great! Argo, my pick for best film of the year! Anne Hathaway, who sang her heart out in Les Mis! Please, don’t nominate Jennifer Lawrence!). The nominations were announced by the duo of Seth MacFarlene (host for the upcoming award show) and Emma Stone (the resident “It girl” of the moment). Seth MacFarlene, who I never really found all that funny in the past, continues to surprise me (do you know he is a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter and now can add Oscar nominee if you see below) and is definitely growing on me. I found his banter with the always adorably funny Emma Stone to be cute. By the way, if you didn’t get to see the nominees announced live but sill want to see it, you can still watch it here.
I’m looking even more forward to Oscar night. And I started a new tradition last year to see whatever wins Best Film and Best Foreign Film as a double feature after the awards show if I hadn’t already (Last year, it was The Artist & A Separation) so excited to see what will win. Let’s get to my recap of the top nominees, my commentary and predictions as well as some good ol’ fashion Oscar trivia…
Best Motion Picture of the year:
Amour | Argo | Beasts of the Southern Wild | Django Unchained | Les Miserables | Lincoln | Life of Pi | Silver Linings Playbook | Zero Dark Thirty
According to the aggregate of critics, the frontrunners are Argo, Amour and Zero Dark Thirty (which just made it in since it entered theaters as a limited release in December). However, more likely than not, Best Film winners also have a best director nom. None for Ben Affleck (Argo) or Kathyrn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) so they may relegate them off of the frontrunner list. My money was on Argo, but now I’m actually thinking Lincoln may sweep in there after it’s strong showing with nominations (the most with 12 noms). I do think it was a great movie, my favorite drama of the year. Or it can be Amour.
An interesting Oscar fact - With the nomination of Argo, GeorgeClooney (who produced with Affleck) has been Oscar nominated in the most categories ever: Actor, Directing, Supporting Actor, Original & Adapted screenplay, and today—Best Picture. Interesting.
Yep, I’m late on this. I know. This year, I didn’t see alot of the movies that were up for some of the top awards at the Oscars, so I decided to start a tradition of seeing the two best films according to the Academy after the award show. As it was, this year they were the winner of Best Foreign Language film, A Separation, and the top film of them all, Best Picture winner The Artist (which I was already disappointed in myself for not seeing sooner). So to the theater I went, and I seriously could not have had a more enjoyable time at the movies.
Do See: The Artist (starring Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo) Charming. Cute. Nostalgic. Heartwarming. Those are all the adjectives I would use to describe this movie. The story follows the simultaneous fall of silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) and rise of the new kid of the block, actress Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) as silent films began to lose popularity and “talkies” began to gain favor. The two cross paths early on and forge a bond that remains through the approximate six years of the movie (1927-1932). Through it all we see their vulernabilites and determination; his to survive being cast off by his studio and to remain in the film business and hers to become famous and ultimately help him through his struggles. Do I think it was worthy of the best picture win? I can’t say for sure since there were a few other nominees I haven’t seen. What I can say though is that I never thought a black and white silent movie could feel so fresh and relevant. Couple that with the brilliant commentary on the fickleness of Hollywood, wonderful dance numbers, and wicked chemistry between the leads, and you have one great movie. I have heard alot of people taking about the ending when (SPOILER!) he finds his voice and utters his only (heard) words in the film. But it was also clever is that he spoke in his French accent. Of course we all know now that Jean Dujardin is a Frenchman from the media, but what if you didn’t know this going in? He has the look in the film of a very American Clark Gable, but ultimately his character is a Frenchman making it in American movies, a fact that can be hidden in silent films (and even by his name which is probably a pseudonym). Consequently, I think there was another layer to his assertion in the movie that “no one wants to hear my voice”. So underneath this there is a even more inventive theme of losing/trading in ones identity (not just as a actor) that I think the movie explores. A must see in my opinion.
Do See: A Separation (starring Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini) I haven’t seen a ton of foreign films but this was probably one of my favorites to date (next to the Motorcycle Diaries). The story follows a married couple - Nader and Simin - who are separating and on the verge of divorce. Ultimately, Simin wants them to leave Iran with their 11-year daughter because of the country’s prevailing hostile conditions and to provide a better life for her but her husband Nader refuses to leave his father who is ill with Alzheimer’s disease. This separation becomes the catalyst for bigger issues as Nader is forced to leave his father in the care of a poor, pregnant woman who loses her baby and blames Nader for it. The movie does go on alittle longer than I thought was necessary and has an ending that I think did not do the story justice, but the totality of this gripping drama was successful both in bringing the audience into very real struggles surrounding culture/religion, marriage, parenthood, and more importantly the intent and consequence of truth vs. lies as well as weaving in dilemmas that snowball and make you struggle to find better solutions. This one is also a movie that I strongly recommend.
1. (Last minute replacement) Billy Crystal couldn’t save the hosting gig. I love the Oscars. It’s sometimes pretentious and has the rep of being a long drawn-out boring awards show, but it’s glamour, it’s grand, it represents the beauty of the Hollywood movie tradition. I will watch as long as I’m able (Oscar, I just can’t quit you!). That being said, the show has been struggling in the hosting gig for alittle while. Last year, the duo of Franco-Hathaway was cringe-worthy (I had such high hopes!). This year, I almost had a heart attack when they announced Eddie Murphy was hosting (sorry, but I think he peaked in the 90s). I was alittle hopeful when he dropped out, but then they brought in the old standby Billy Crystal. Yes, he’s a legend for having hosting (now) nine times, but the times have changed. And the academy trying to then weave in theme of Old Hollywood didn’t help any. Which brings me to the fact that…
2. The present generation of comedians were the highlight of the show. Never have I looked forward to the presentation of awards so much. Will Ferrell and Zach G. with the symbols, Chris Rock on the ease (and lucrativeness) of animation acting, and hilarious RDJ’s documentary bit. It felt like a very entertaining audition for next year’s hosting gig. Pay attention, academy!
3. Standing ovations are in. The O’s stood for Octavia and Oprah last night and derservingly so. I’m so happy Octavia won for her rich performance in The Help. To me her journey is that of the underdog. Hopefully, this will up her profile to more interesting and nuanced roles. And Oprah, well, she’s Oprah.
4. Emma Stone will forever have my heart. And the award for Most Entertaining Moment definitely goes to Emma Stone. It reminded me back when I first saw her in Easy A, how there is such a fresh ease to her funniness. I laughed so much I didn’t mind that huge ass bow on her shoulder. Hey, Emma, are you looking for a new BFF?
5. You go against Meryl Streep, you most likely will get your feelings hurt. Better luck next time, Viola. I really wished you would have won. Damn you, Streep.
6. Skipping The Artist was a mistake. Seriously, that Frenchmen is so damn charming, terrific, and enjoyable to watch even on the award show circuit. Is there anymore awards I can see him win? Since I missed seeing both The Descendants and The Artist (I’ve been busy!), I told myself I’d see whichever won as a post-Oscars treat. To the theater this week I go, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Curious about the winners, see a complete list here.