Monday, 27 February 2012
BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR
EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
THE TREE OF LIFE
As expected, THE ARTIST emerged as a well-deserved winner here!
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
Michel Hazanavicius (THE ARTIST)
Woody Allen (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS)
Terrence Malick (THE TREE OF LIFE)
Alexander Payne (THE DESCENDANTS)
Martin Scorcese (HUGO)
It's Michel Hazanavicius vs. Alexander Payne! I'm happy to know that Hazanavicius grabbed a well-deserved win here.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Jean Dujardin (THE ARTIST)
Demian Bichir (A BETTER LIFE)
George Clooney (THE DESCENDANTS)
Gary Oldman (TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY)
Brad Pitt (MONEYBALL)
It's Jean Dujardin vs. George Clooney. But the Academy made the right choice to award Jean Dujardin for his charming performance as George Valentin in THE ARTIST, which also made him the first Frenchman to win the coveted Oscar for Best Actor!
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Meryl Streep (THE IRON LADY)
Glenn Close (ALBERT NOBBS)
Rooney Mara (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO)
Viola Davis (THE HELP)
Michelle Williams (MY WEEK WITH MARILYN)
This category is narrowed down between Viola Davis or Meryl Streep for the win. Many might have rooted for Viola Davis to nab the Oscar here, especially given her recent winning streak in other awards. But Meryl Streep has finally broke the jinx after being nominated for a record 12th time since 1983's SILKWOOD, with her spot-on performance as Margaret Thatcher in THE IRON LADY.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Christopher Plummer (BEGINNERS)
Kenneth Branagh (MY WEEK WITH MARILYN)
Jonah Hill (MONEYBALL)
Nick Nolte (WARRIOR)
Max von Sydow (EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE)
Another shoo-in win. Enough said.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Octavia Spencer (THE HELP)
Berenice Bejo (THE ARTIST)
Jessica Chastain (THE HELP)
Melissa McCarthy (BRIDESMAIDS)
Janet McTeer (ALBERT NOBBS)
No surprise here. Octavia Spencer is a shoo-in win for this category.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM OF THE YEAR
A CAT IN PARIS
CHICO & RITA
KUNG FU PANDA 2
PUSS IN BOOTS
A shoo-in win. Gore Verbinski's loving tribute to the classic western is an inventive and colorful animated feature is worthy of an award here.
BEST WRITING, SCREENPLAY WRITTEN DIRECTLY FOR THE SCREEN
Woody Allen (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS)
Michel Hazanavicius (THE ARTIST)
Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo (BRIDESMAIDS)
J.C. Chandor (MARGIN CALL)
Woody Allen (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS)
Asghar Farhadi (A SEPARATION)
Another undeserved win. While many have hailed MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is Allen's finest movie he's ever made in years, I beg to differ. (read: overrated). Personally Michel Hazanavicus or Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo should bag the win instead.
BEST WRITING, SCREENPLAY BASED ON MATERIAL PREVIOUSLY PRODUCED OR PUBLISHED
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash (THE DESCENDANTS)
John Logan (HUGO)
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon (THE IDES OF MARCH)
Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin (MONEYBALL)
Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan (TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY)
THE DESCENDANTS is a hugely overrated movie with sadly average plot. Of all the nominees in this category here, I think Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin should win this instead for crafting a unpopular subject matter into something intriguing in MONEYBALL.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN EDITING
Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO)
Anne-Sophie Bion, Michel Hazanavicius (THE ARTIST)
Kevin Tent (THE DESCENDANTS)
Thelma Schoonmaker (HUGO)
Christopher Tellefsen (MONEYBALL)
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES, ORIGINAL SCORE
Ludovic Bource (THE ARTIST)
John Williams (THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN)
Howard Shore (HUGO)
Alberto Iglesias (TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY)
John Williams (WAR HORSE)
Ludovic Bource's layered score is one of the best accomplishments that drives the artistic success of THE ARTIST. Bravo!
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Robert Richardson (HUGO)
Guillaume Schiffman (THE ARTIST)
Jeff Cronenworth (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO)
Emmanuel Lubezki (THE TREE OF LIFE)
Janusz Kaminski (WAR HORSE)
Robert Richardson won Best Cinematography for HUGO? As good as he is, I still figured either Jeff Cronenworth or Emmanuel Lubezki deserved a better win here.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION
Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo (HUGO)
Laurence Bennett, Robert Gould (THE ARTIST)
Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan (HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2)
Anne Seibel, Helene Dubreuil (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS)
Rick Carter, Lee Sandales (WAR HORSE)
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
Mark Bridges (THE ARTIST)
Lisy Christl (ANONYMOUS)
Sandy Powell (HUGO)
Michael O'Connor (JANE EYRE)
Arianne Phillips (W.E.)
Mark Bridge's splendid recreation of the 1920s glamorous fashion in THE ARTIST is a well-deserved win here.
Robert Legato, John Williams, Ben Grossman, Alex Henning (HUGO)
Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler, John Richardson (HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2)
Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Danny Gordon Taylor, Swen Gillberg (REAL STEEL)
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White, Daniel Barrett (RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES)
Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew E. Butler, John Frazier (TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON)
This is really a surprise. I was expecting RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES would be a shoo-in win for this category. But HUGO? Seriously?
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP
Mark Coulier, J. Roy Helland (THE IRON LADY)
Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnson, Matthew W. Mungle (ALBERT NOBBS)
Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight, Lisa Tomblin (HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2)
Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland's excellent makeup effect over Meryl Streep's character as Margaret Thatcher is spot-on convincing. A well-deserved win.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
Tom Fleischman, John Midgley (HUGO)
David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, Bo Persson (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO)
Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, David Giammarco, Ed Novick (MONEYBALL)
Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush, Peter J. Devlin (TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON)
Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson, Stuart Wilson (WAR HORSE)
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
Philip Stockton, Eugene Gearty (HUGO)
Lon Bender, Victor Ray Ennis (DRIVE)
Ren Klyce (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO)
Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl (TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON)
Richard Hymns, Gary Rydstrom (WAR HORSE)
Breaking the traditional sports-movie formula we often seen in the past, MONEYBALL is the kind of rare gem we don't get to see everyday -- a movie about baseball where scenes involving on-the-field action moments are depicted as minor footage and instead focusing more on behind-the-scenes of how team is managed through statistics, odds of winning, and such. It might sounds boring for most viewers, but rest assured that director Bennett Miller and screenwriters Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, managed to craft a risky subject matter into a surprisingly fascinating movie as exciting as watching a traditional baseball movie itself.
Stephen Daldry's fourth feature, EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE, has been heavily marketed as a prominent vehicle starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock -- an obvious hook to bait sizable viewers to watch the movie. However, those who are hoping to see the two Oscar winners onscreen may end up surprised and disappointed to find their characters are merely extended cameo appearances. Instead, the movie focuses on newcomer Thomas Horn, a 13-year-old wunderkind who doesn't have acting experience at all. That hardly matters at all, because he's one of the main good reasons to watch for. Other than that, EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE also benefited from an affecting and well-meaning tale of post-9/11 trauma that is guaranteed to tug your heartstrings.
Writer-director Alexander Payne's long-awaited follow-up to his 2004's Oscar-winning SIDEWAYS has been universally acclaimed by major critics as his most accomplished work to date in his directing career. Well, I seriously wanted to believe that because I always admired the way Payne never ceases to disappoint his viewers since his 1999's breakout hit, ELECTION. But I beg to differ -- and it's hard to believe, really, because THE DESCENDANTS marks his first disappointment ever.
A loving tribute to the 1920s silent-age cinema, writer-director Michel Hazanavicius's THE ARTIST is an entertaining and soulful crowd-pleaser without the aid of spoken dialogue or sound, and also shot in black-and-white. It's certainly a risky choice to release such movie these days in the 21st century but the good news is, Hazanavicius does the impossible to make this one of the must-see movies of the year.
Sunday, 19 February 2012
Uninvolving is the best word to describe for THE IRON LADY, a would-be great biopic about Margaret Thatcher, the first female British prime minister and the longest-serving of the 20th century. Despite a pitch-perfect performance by Meryl Streep as the titular character, THE IRON LADY fails miserably to give us a necessary insight of what makes Thatcher as one of the most controversial and powerful figures of the modern generation other than providing a sketchy and basic outline from what we already knew in general term.
A slight improvement over the painfully mediocre GHOST RIDER (2007), GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE is benefited from a gonzo, anything-goes filmmaking style by maverick directors duo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (2006's CRANK, 2009's CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE and GAMER) rather than a flat-out Hollywood feel that Mark Steven Johnson did the first time around. If you've seen their works in the past, you know what to expect here -- a wildly over-the-top and slapdash piece of entertainment. Such oddity might turn off most mainstream comic-book movie fans expecting something more polished, but GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE is surprisingly entertaining enough to qualify this as a trashy fun experience not meant to be taken seriously.
Writer-director Mark Steven Johnson is a "king of Marvel comic-to-movie adaptation hack". After ruined such potential franchise beginning DAREDEVIL (2003) and ELEKTRA (2005), in which he wrote the script, he continues to demonstrate the good stuff all the wrong reason in GHOST RIDER, another potential franchise turns into forgettable effort.
Saturday, 18 February 2012
Swedish-born helmer Daniel Espinosa (2010's EASY MONEY) makes his first Hollywood directing debut in SAFE HOUSE -- a cat-and-mouse thriller that apes the hyperkinetic feel of Tony Scott, shot in a gritty style of THE BOURNE SUPREMACY (2004) and THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (2007). With two idealistic pairing of Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, it's easy to expect that SAFE HOUSE would be an edge-of-the-seat crowd pleaser.
Monday, 13 February 2012
Love is in the air, and Valentine's Day is just around the corner. If you are skimping on budget against lavish dinner, buying insanely expensive roses, or a box of limited-edition chocolates, why not spend quality time with your loved ones on a couch and pop a DVD to watch romantic movie together? Need inspiration? Here's my pick for "Top 10 Best Romantic Movies This Valentine's Day!" right below.
Cameron Diaz may have been a breakout star in 1994's THE MASK, but it was this highly-successful romantic comedy that skyrocketed her into Hollywood superstardom. She's simply funny, lovely and charming in her title character here, and that now-classic "hair gel" scene remains one of the most unforgettable highlights in a raunchy romantic-comedy genre. Oh, did I mention this is also the funniest movie both Peter and Bobby Farrelly has directed?
Big Apple in the wintry Christmas, coupled with a irresistibly charming John Cusack and lovely Kate Beckinsale. This is one magical love story about embracing one's fate and destiny.
A classic romantic comedy about two unlikely friends Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) who subsequently blossoms into close friendship, but of course eventually falling in love. Nora Ephron's Oscar-nominated screenplay is brilliant with witty verbal exchanges and the movie is particularly boosted by an amazing chemistry between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. For those who have watched this movie before, who could forget the classic roadside cafe scene where the fussy Sally ordering an apple pie and ice cream that goes like this:
Sally: But I’d like the pie heated, and I don’t want the ice cream on top. I want it on the side. And I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it’s real. If it’s out of a can, then nothing.
Waitress: Not even a pie?
Sally: No, just the pie. But then not heated.
And lastly, another classic scene involving Sally simulating an orgasm in front of Harry at a crowded New York deli restaurant... (“Ooooh. Oh, God. Ooooh…”)
One of the most beloved classics of the 1980s, AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN was hugely popular during its era. Blessed with a top-notch performances by Richard Gere, Debra Winger, Robert Loggia and of course Louis Gossett Jr. (who won Best Supporting Actor Oscar as the no-nonsense drill instructor). Apart from its gripping storyline of a lonely man who fight against all odds to prove his worth, it's also especially memorable for its unforgettable love story between Gere and Winger -- the passionate lovemaking scene and the fairy-tale ending where Gere sweeps Winger off her feet and holds her in his arm. This is one love story that truly lifts them up where they belong (Yup, I'm talking about the Oscar-winning song of Up Where We Belong here).
A classic tearjerker that earned its reputation as a landmark romance movie that has something to do with tragic illness. Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw are excellent as two star-crossed lovers from different background. The movie, is of course, made immortal for its unforgettable dialogue: Love means never having to say you're sorry.
Renowned Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai is a true cinematic poet of love and heartache. Here, he crafted a love story where romance and beauty can be found in unexpected places (alleys, stairways, cramped offices, cramped apartments). What makes this uniquely different is how the two lead actors (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Maggie Cheung) are seen rarely connected to such intimate moments and yet Wong Kar-Wai manages to feed our senses with a lushly sensual experience. Christopher Doyle's expressive cinematography is breathtaking, and so do its well-selected soundtrack ranging from Nat King Cole and of course, Yumeji's Theme. Maggie Cheung is particularly stunning here in an eye-catching cheongsam.
A perfect mix of disaster genre and a classic tale of doomed love separated by social divide with a state-of-the-art special effects wonder that struck an amazing chord for the young and old generation. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are immortal in their roles as two star-crossed lovers who never give up against each other until the very end. Coupled with that is of course, the unforgettable (if overplayed) love song of Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On.
3. GHOST (1990)
A highly-conceptual movie that blends spooky setting, fantasy, romance, melodrama and a dash of unexpected comedy (courtesy from an Oscar-winning performance by Whoopi Goldberg), GHOST was one of the biggest hits during the 1990s. Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore are downright sizzling, and their lovemaking scene in the opening act is especially romantic with The Righteous Brothers' Unchained Melody perfectly accompanied the mood.
1939 was widely known as the "Hollywood's Golden Age Of Cinema", and GONE WITH THE WIND was certainly one of them. This nearly 4-hour romance epic was a cinematic milestone made possible by Victor Fleming's breathtaking direction and timeless storyline. But who could forget the remarkable chemistry so vividly portrayed by Clark Gable as the dashing Rhett Butler and Vivien Leigh as the spoilt rich girl Scarlett O'Hara?
One of America's most beloved movies and one of the all-time great wartime romance drama. It's a quintessential Valentine's Day movie in a timeless story that involves lost chances, lost loves and love versus honor. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman are terrific together.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Sunday, 12 February 2012
On paper, MAN ON A LEDGE sounds intriguing enough as a knockout thriller with an exciting mix of PHONE BOOTH meets THE NEGOTIATOR with a dash of DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE. Unfortunately, the execution is a different thing altogether. What could have been a thriller filled with claustrophobic tension and edge-of-your-seat is sadly undermined by first-time feature director Asger Leth's lackluster direction and Pablo F. Fenjves's heavy-handed screenplay.
The story centres on Thomas (Jackie Chan) and David (Yuen Biao), both best friends who run their fast food business in the van on the street of Barcelona. One day, David is being conned by a beautiful street hustler named Sylvia (former Miss Spain Lola Forner), who later proceeds on stealing their wallets. Despite that, they help her out when she's in trouble again and subsequently hired her to assist in their fast food business. Things get complicated when their friend, a low-rent private investigator named Moby (Sammo Hung) has been hired to track down Sylvia and her mother, who's been missing for twenty years. That's not all, it turns out that Sylvia happens to be an illegitimate daughter of a wealthy count, who is recently deceased. The count's brother, Mondale (Herb Edelman) foils an evil plan to have her died within 14 days so he is able to collect the inheritance. When Sylvia and her mother are subsequently kidnapped and send away to Mondale's castle, it's up to these three unlikely heroes to save the day.
Monday, 6 February 2012
In the Taiwanese director Leste Chen's (THE HEIRLOOM, ETERNAL SUMMER) latest movie, LOVE ON CREDIT opens interestingly with Lin Chi-Ling's thoughtful voiceover: "How much effort are we willing to spend and what price are we willing to pay for love, and for happiness of life? Up till now, I have been thinking which one of us has made the right choice? Do we want a prince or a big house? What about happiness versus pretty clothes? How can we be so sure that we have picked the right answer to lead a happy life? Where should I start?" No doubt it's a familiar question that concerns on money vs. love matter, but this otherwise predictable romantic comedy is surprisingly delightful enough to warrant this a must-see for genre fans.
Sunday, 5 February 2012
Yuen Biao plays Hsia Ling-Ching, a prosecutor who moonlights as a vigilante killer whenever he finds out that the law of justice unable to lock down a committed criminal. When his mentor is brutally killed in front of him, he sets out a personal vendetta to bring down the responsible criminals on his own. He ends up killing Four Eyes Bill (Paul Chang), who is one of the two drug dealers responsible for his mentor's death, but gradually finds himself landing into a trouble with a relentless female cop Cindy (Cynthia Rothrock) and his sloppy partner Bad Egg (Corey Yuen). Things get out of hand when Hsia attempts to kill Bill's partner, Chow Ting-Kwong (James Tien) but he is shocked to find out that Chow is already dead. Coincidentally, Cindy is later catches Hsia hovering over the dead body of Chow and accuses him of murder. Hsia has no choice but to fight his way out. Little does Cindy knows that Chow's death and all the previous crime was actually organised by her superior, Sergeant Wong (Melvin Wong), a silent partner in the drug organisation. That's not all, Chow's death is also witnessed by a youngster named Wen (Fan Siu-Wong), in which Wong will do anything to silence him forever.
During the 80s, buddy comedy was a dime a dozen. Some of them were just memorable hits, including 48 HRS (1982), LETHAL WEAPON (1987) and MIDNIGHT RUN (1988). You can add SHOOT TO KILL (also known as DEADLY PURSUIT) into the checklist as one of the best genre movies ever made during that era.
Set in the late 1920s in a war-torn Shanghai, GUNMEN centres on Ding Chun-Bei (Tony Leung Ka-Fai), a righteous cop who embraces the law of justice, unlike his fellow corrupted police officers. Despite the corruption, he is determined to stop the ongoing opium operation that has been mushrooming all over the streets of Shanghai. Apparently, the main culprit for the opium operation is his old war nemesis Haye (Adam Cheng), the Chinese officer who used to torture he and his three war buddies -- Chang (Waise Lee), Lau (Mark Cheng) and Cheung (David Wu) -- during the civil war. Nevertheless, Ding sets out for revenge, especially after Haye killed his superior. Then one day, he manages to reunite his three war buddies, who are now working as rickshaw pullers. He convinces them to join him in the police force instead to stop Haye together. When Ding and his three war buddies set out to raid against Haye's so-called opium shipment, they realise it turns out to be medical supplies of penicillin which are supposed to aid Haye's seriously-ill confederate Uncle Liang (Andrew Kam). Because of that, Uncle Liang ends up dead before the penicillin can reach him. Haye and his men are very upset about the matter and vow to swear vengeance against Ding and his three war buddies. That's not all, Ding also finds himself involved with a troubled prostitute Mona Fong (Elizabeth Lee), whom he knows her well from the past. He still cares for her, despite the fact he already has a devoted wife Chu Chiao (Carrie Ng) and a young daughter.
Thursday, 2 February 2012
Found-footage genre has already fast becoming a fading gimmick, even though many Hollywood filmmakers are still milking the trend since it's cheap to make and it's often profitable (e.g. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY series). But not so for CHRONICLE -- a unique and exciting blend of found-footage concept mixes with superhero genre. Yup, how come nobody thought of that earlier?
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Reuniting for the first time since they first collaborated successfully in 2007's Oscar-winning JUNO, director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody's much-anticipated follow-up titled YOUNG ADULT looks promising enough -- a character-driven dramedy centers on a messed-up and despicable female writer revisits her past in attempt to rekindle her long-lost relationship with his ex- high school lover. Marketed as a comedy, YOUNG ADULT turns out to be a hoot. Instead it's more of a pitch-black comedy and a gloomily unappealing melodrama which fails squarely on its overall execution.
When THE GREY is first previewed in the trailer, it seems clear that the movie is marketed as a typical survival thriller filled with testosterone-driven rage and action-adventure mayhem, especially with Liam Neeson casts as a main tough guy fighting against a pack of hungry wolves. But upon watching the movie, I'm very surprised it turns out to be a polar opposite. No doubt what has presented in the trailer and other marketing campaigns all this while are simply misleading. So if you are expecting a straightforward gritty entertainment, prepare to be disappointed. Instead writer-director Joe Carnahan strips off the familiar survival thriller territory with a surprisingly metaphorical take about man vs. nature. Such radical approach might alienate many viewers but those who are willing to look deeper will find this an emotionally-captivating experience worth watching for.