2013 Oscar Nominations – Predictions

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Forget Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are now officially in my favorite holiday season…Awards Season.  This Sunday are the Golden Globe Awards and you can click HERE for a full listing of nominees.   I enjoy the Golden Globes for what they are…the slightly tipsy foreign exchange student to the Oscars.  A few weeks later on January 27th the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards are given out and these are enjoyable because they are only given for performance categories and are voted on by the true peers of the nominees/winners.  That’s true somewhat for the Oscars but there’s something about the SAG Awards that make them feel like a valued win and not a popularity contest.  The day before the Oscars are the Spirit Awards given out to independent films from the past year.  If you’ve never watched these awards I highly encourage it…they are very much like the films they celebrate…independent and rough around the edges.

All of these are merely appetizers for the Academy Awards which will be given out on February 24, 2013.  Sure to be a lavish affair (even if they are being hosted by the mostly funny but ego-centric Seth McFarlane, Ted), I’ve yet to miss an Academy Awards telecast or the live announcement of the official nominees.

Before the nominations are announced at 7:38 am tomorrow morning, let me go out on a limb and give my predictions as to what is going to be up for major awards and who is going to wake up an Oscar nominee.

Best Picture

Ever since the field was changed from 5 nominees to a possible 10, this one is always hard to predict…so let me start with five nominees and then go up from there….

Lincoln
Zero Dark Thirty
Argo
Les
Misérables
Silver Linings Playbook

Life of Pi

Moonrise Kingdom

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Django Unchained

Amour

Close Calls – While The Master was a huge buzz film before it was released, its actual reception was so chilly I’m not sure it will earn a place on the list. 

If there’s any justice… Skyfall will be the first James Bond film to be nominated for Best Picture.  One of the best films of the year and most definitely the best Bond film ever produced, this was a full serving of entertainment with more to it than just cool cars and spy adventures.

Best Director

Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Ben Affleck, Argo
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Tom Hooper, Les Misérables

Close Calls – With The Life of Pi sitting just outside the top five Best Picture nominees, director Ang Lee may have a tough time locking down a nomination.

If there’s any justice… Actually, this list is pretty complete.

Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Denzel Washington, Flight
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

Close Calls – Again, The Master is popping up as a close call…but potential Best Actor nominee Joaquin Phoenix is such a puzzle in and of himself, he may have hurt his chances at a nomination by starring in an equally puzzling film.

If there’s any justice… Poor Richard Gere…he just can’t catch a break.  Though he could possibly unseat Jackman, his work in Arbitage probably will go un-nominated.

Best Actress

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Close Calls – Helen Mirren is also being mentioned in this category…and while she was wonderful in Hitchcock the film itself wasn’t well liked.  I think there are enough women who did great work in better films that should wind up with a nomination.

If there’s any justice… PLEASE let Quvenzhane Wallis be nominated!  If anyone should go from this list it’s Watts…I’ve heard her film is strong as is her performance but let’s have the youngest ever nominee (Wallis) up against the oldest ever nominee (Emmanuelle Riva, Amour)

Best Supporting Actor

Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Alan Arkin, Argo
Javier Bardem, Skyfall

Close Calls – Leonardo DiCaprio may miss the boat on this, his work in Django Unchained was better than his last five films but he’s in good company with his co-stars Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson…both of whom could wind up here.  Bardem might be the one to miss the mark if DiCaprio love fills the hearts of voters…but I wouldn’t count out Bardem’s recent surge of support.

If there’s any justice… Tom Cruise would get some love for putting it all out there in Rock of Ages.  Yes, the film was a total mess but his performance is still one of the most memorable (in a good way) for me at the end of the year.  It’s never going to happen but I had to go on record saying he deserves it.

Best Supporting Actress

Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Sally Field, Lincoln
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Amy Adams, The Master
Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Close Calls – I haven’t seen The Paperboy but boy is Nicole Kidman getting surprising recognition for her steamy work.  Though it came and went pretty fast, Kidman may just pop up here, replacing Adams or Smith.

If there’s any justice… the Supporting categories are always where Oscar tends to throw a few nice curveballs so here’s hoping that Brit Kelly Reilly scores her first nomination for her haunting work alongside Denzel Washington in Flight.  Director Robert Zemeckis could have cast any Hollywood female for the role but he made a killer choice by going with Reilly.

2012 – Best of the Best, Worst of the Worst, Grand Totals

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BestOf1

Well, folks…this has been an interesting year for movies.  It’s hard to believe I started this blog a year ago tomorrow…time sure does fly.  I’ve learned a lot in this past year and can see how my review style has evolved over the past twelve months.  I’ve appreciated your feedback, your company, and just your presence in my blog because I’ve used it all to help it get better.  Even if you read this everyday but never commented…I can still tell you’ve been here and that means a lot.  My readership has increased every month and it’s thanks to your word of mouth that has helped me get this blog up and running.  Some interesting developments are on the horizon that should make 2013 even more fun for you and me – thank you again for your patronage and keep spreading the news about The MN Movie Man. 

Best Wishes to you and yours for a most Happy New Year!

~Joe (The MN Movie Man)

And now…the Best/Worst/Special Mentions of 2012.  Keep reading all the way to the bottom for a grand total that made me equal parts embarassed and proud.

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5. Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson has been hit or miss for me for his entire career.  For each film I’ve liked there have been two that followed I could barely sit through.  Thankfully, Moonrise Kingdom is one of his best – a richly rewarding work that was as colorfully offbeat as you can be without making a Pee-Wee Herman movie.  Anderson gathered his usual troupe of players, many of whom play against type to wonderful results.  It’s not for everyone but those that like this kind of storytelling will be quite entertained.

4. Silver Linings Playbook – A most unexpected delight from director David O. Russell and an impressive line-up of actors, Silver Linings Playbook was not only one of the best films of the year but also one of the more unpredictable.  It kept changing its course ever so slightly so that you were never quite sure where you were headed.  In a year filled with great performances, the work of Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro and Bradley Cooper should be dully recognized at Oscar time.

3. End of Watch – You missed this in theaters, didn’t you?  Shame on you!  Though well reviewed, End of Watch has come and gone into your local movie theaters TWICE since it was released in September.  The second release was aimed to give some extra oomph for Oscar voters but it may be all for naught as other higher-profile films drew the audiences that should have made this a priority.  Jake Gyllenhaal gives what may be his best performance along with underrated character actor Michael Pena as they play cops in Los Angeles that get on the very wrong side of a vicious drug ring.  The camera work and direction were excellent but it’s Gyllenhaal and Pena who make the dark drama fire on all cylinders.

2. Skyfall – Sorry Sean Connery but the mantle of “Best James Bond” has officially been passed to Daniel Craig.  The long-awaited return to the screen of 007 was an absolute winner from start to finish.  With a new director on board who was willing to push everyone involved to give their best, most timely work – a different kind of spy adventure emerged.  Add top shelf performances from Craig, Judi Dench, and SAG Award nominee Javier Bardem along with Adele’s (hopefully Oscar nominated) classy/classic theme song and you have all the makings for a film that set the Bond bar quite high.

1. Beasts of the Southern Wild – Though I saw this in mid-July, I’ve been unable to shake some of the passages and performances in Benh Zeitlin’s unique film.  Following a father and daughter in a bayou community as they live with the aftermath of Hurricaine Katrina, the film is pure magic thanks to Zeitlin’s creative script and the one-two punch of actors Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry.  If there is any justice, Wallis will become the youngest Best Actress Oscar nominee in history for her absolutely unforgettable performance.  You may have missed this one in the theaters, but it is available now for home viewing through the usual channels.

Honorable Mentions: The Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Les Misérables, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Looper, Django Unchained

Worst

5. One for the Money – Katherine Heigl blew her chances at a franchise with the total disaster that was One for the Money.  The first of the Stephanie Plum mysteries, this could have been a real game changer for her career but sadly Heigl is not a good enough actress to carry the film anywhere.  Though it may have worked better as a television series, there is still no good reason why Heigl was given the opportunity to bring Plum to life.  Heigl just isn’t a leading lady as her last five films have proven.  She needs to take a long, hard look at what type she is…I’d vote for the bitchy girlfriend supporting role.

4. Mirror Mirror – The first (and worst) of two disappointing Snow White films this year, Mirror Mirror earns its spot on the list by featuring some of the best looking sets/costumes paired with an absolutely abysmal plot and performances.  Though Julia Roberts may have relished playing someone wicked, she doesn’t have the follow through to make it work.  She looks like she’s having a great time…at our expense.  The truly awful one here is Lily Collins as Snow White, hampered by an unfortunate set of bushy eyebrows and a bad habit of letting her mouth hang open whenever she’s not speaking…she makes the fabled heroine seem like an absolute mouth breathing idiot.

3. Magic Mike – I know I’m in the minority on this, but I found Magic Mike to be a piece of crap.  Even with the pedigree of a good (but inconsistent) director and a buzz-worthy cast, the movie went nowhere slowly.  The most interesting thing about the film was in its origins as a loose adaptation of star Channing Tatum’s pre-Hollywood life as a stripper.  Filled with ugly cinematography, a terrible soundtrack of awful music, and more than a few head-scratching developments that didn’t jive, no amount of bared flesh could ultimately save this film from pole dancing onto my Worst of 2012 list.

2. This Is 40 – A late addition to this list but well deserving of the high placement, This Is 40 was the worst comedy I saw in 2012.  Most frustrating was that it featured two very likable stars in a film I described in my review as “a miserable cinematic mallet to the head.”  That the film could feature such funny people and be virtually laugh free is a gigantic achievement.  Director/writer Judd Apatow has once again forgotten that the first step in making an interesting film is to make it, well, interesting.  It’s a dull, sloppy, crude movie that’s 134 minutes of fights about the same thing and observations on married life/aging/raising kids that were funnier on episodes of Home Improvement.

1. The Apparition – Without question, The Apparition is the worst worst Worst of the Worst in 2012.  Seemingly edited by a rotating group of morons that never saw what the other was doing, the film makes no sense and has terrible acting on top of it all!  Twilight star Ashley Greene should be thankful she made some cash on that franchise because her movie career is over.  It’s a film that should never be heard from again…along with everyone that made it.

(Dis)Honorable Mentions: American Reunion, The Vow, The Raven, The Three Stooges, Won’t Back Down

Special

Most Misunderstood

John Carter – I still don’t  get why people attacked this film quite the way they did.  I found it to be an enjoyable sci-fi flick that blended some nice elements from adventure serials of the past.  With parts reminding me of the Indiana Jones films and nice performances from Taylor Kitsch (who struggled through Battleship but did good work in Savages in 2012) and Lynn Collins, the film was a critical and financial disaster.  I just don’t get why it was SO bad…I for sure saw worse big budgeted films this year.

Honorable Mention: Jack Reacher

Worth the Wait

Prometheus – A huge Alien fan, I had been looking forward to the semi-prequel Prometheus ever since it was announced nearly two years ago.  Though it left many with questions that didn’t get answered, I found Ridley Scott’s return to the genre he helped redefine (twice, once with Alien and again with Blade Runner) to be an entertaining ride.  Heck, I saw it three times in the theater and would have seen it again had I had the time.

Honorable Mention: The Bourne Legacy, The Dark Knight Rises

Movies You Probably Haven’t Seen But Should:

Cracks

Julia’s Eyes (Los ojos de Julia)

Kill List

Paradise

Taking Chance

The Intouchables (potential Oscar bait!)

Wolfen

GrandClick HERE for a full listing of films

Total Movies Seen in the Theater: 138

Total Movies Seen at Home: 242

Grand Total for 2012 (not couting films seen multiple times): 370

Where I Saw the Most MoviesShowplace ICON (43 in 2012)

Bond-ed for Life – Skyfall

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The Facts:

Synopsis: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost

Stars: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Dame Judi Dench, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Helen McCrory, Ola Rapace, Tonia Sotiropoulou

Director: Sam Mendes

Rated: PG-13

Running Length: 143 minutes

Trailer Review: Here and Here

TMMM Score: (10/10)

Review:  The release of the 23rd Bond feature film inspired me to take a look back at the 22 films that have come before it.  Starting with the 1962 of release of Dr. No and continuing on through the 2012’s Skyfall, audiences around the world have come to know, trust, and count on James Bond to show up on Her Majesty’s secret service to get the job done.  Though the faces of Bond have changed over the years and the man himself has gone through some character development, one thing remains true…this is a gentleman who loves his country, his women, and his martini’s shaken not stirred.

Now, as the franchise celebrates its 50th Anniversary, a Bond adventure has been crafted that surpasses every expectation one could have and reaches levels I’m not sure anyone involved could have ever imagined or hoped to reach.  It’s as close to a perfectly made action film as I’ve seen in my years of going to the movies, one that will hold appeal to those well acquainted with 007 and those that are just starting out.  Skyfall is, in my opinion, the best James Bond movie ever produced.

Bold statement, right?  Well…let me try to explain it the best way I can – and know that this review is going to be spoiler free so as not to ruin the experience for you.  The less said about the scope of the picture the better because one of the key ingredients to its success is the not knowing what’s lurking around the corner for Bond, M, and his colleagues at MI6.

I can’t go further into this review without mentioning a few new faces behind the camera for Skyfall.  New director Mendes draws on his theatrical background to help his cast dig deeper than ever before in service to the dynamite story/script provided by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and exceptional screenwriter John Logan.  In his first true action film (let’s not mention 2005’s Jarhead), Mendes works like a master to create the most fully formed Bond experience one could hope for. 

Mendes brings along Oscar nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins, another artist not readily known for his work in the action genre.  Deakins keeps the camera moving in such a way that though the action is fast, furious, and delirious, we never lose track of what we’re watching and where it’s going.  Production designer Dennis Gassner returns to Bond after Quantum of Solace to create a bar-raising world of exotic locales, abandoned islands, and misty moors.  It’s all set to Thomas Newman’s hat-tipping score that’s quite thrilling.  When Monty Norman’s original Bond theme starts to play at a key point in the movie, I had chills from horn to hoof.

Now this all would make for a very pretty picture…but if you didn’t have the right people to stick in front of the camera you’d be up the creek.  Thankfully, Mendes has populated his film with intriguing cast additions and welcome return visitors.

Craig should now be considered the fully formed embodiment of Bond.  No disrespect to the the other actors that have come before him but Craig is as close to the James Bond found in the novels of Ian Fleming as anyone yet to suit up for the part.  A reckless Bond in Casino Royale and a vengeful Bond in Quantum of Solace, in Skyfall Bond has become someone that is genuinely afraid to feel anything that he can’t control.  It’s a brilliant move for the film to give the actor (and us) the opportunity to see under the skin and it’s Craig’s best performance on screen in any film.

Is there anything bad one could say about Dame Dench at this point in her career?  Her involvement with the Bond films since GoldenEye have been nothing short of excellent but it’s with Skyfall that M becomes a leading character along with Bond.  She sits atop a plot that hinges on how much we really want to know about her…had M stayed on the sidelines during her tenure this film couldn’t have happened in the way it did.  M has always been illustrative of a surrogate mother to Bond and that relationship comes into play several times.

In a series that is famous for its outlandish villains, you’d be hard pressed to find one as genuinely menacing as Silva.  Bardem takes a huge risk with his character that could have crashed and burned but winds up making him even more terrifying.  Even without the bleached hair and eyebrows, it’s the actor’s eyes that tell the biggest story with thinly veiled rage boiling deep down.  His personal vendetta against M and MI6 takes the place of any kind of global domination, allowing the film to hit close to home.  It’s a terrifying performance that doesn’t merely replicate his Oscar winning role in No Country for Old Men from the man my friend (let’s call him R for Bond-time sake) calls the Spanish Meryl Streep for the way he totally immerses himself in a role.

Supporting players are nothing to snuff at either.  Fiennes has a nifty role as one of M’s colleagues and Whishaw is a wonderfully nebbish Q.  Bond Girls are a dime a dozen but Mendes has found two shiny silver dollars in Harris and Marlohe.  Harris is a spunky field agent that helps set into motion the action of the film in the breathless prologue and Marlohe may have one of the single best meet and greets with Bond in memory.  Both actresses are splendid but aren’t featured as prominently as the ladies of the past.  Still…Mendes and co. are smart enough to see that this story is ultimately about Bond and M.

Adele’s powerful theme song is a real winner as both a throwback to the Shirley Bassey Bond themes and a mysterious clue to what the film has in store for us.  Playing over a gorgeously designed credits sequence by Daniel Kleinman, the haunting melody is nicely incorporated by Newman in several music cues along the way.  And what of the mysterious Skyfall of the title?  I’m not going to give that secret up but it acts as yet another way the film opens up to audiences the mystery that is Bond. 

Everyone has their favorite Bond and reasons why they lean towards one or the other.  Having reached the end of my Bond journey, Skyfall just happens to be the best of the bunch.  It’s a fantastically entertaining, surprisingly emotional, and stupendously produced action film that once again redefines the spy genre.  James Bond will return…this much we know from the closing credits.  How he’ll top himself after Skyfall is the next big mystery to figure out.

Want more Bond?  Check out my reviews of the previous 22 James Bond Films:

Dr. No

From Russia With Love

Goldfinger

Thunderball

You Only Live Twice

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Diamonds Are Forever

Live and Let Die

The Man with the Golden Gun

The Spy Who Loved Me

Moonraker

For Your Eyes Only

Octopussy

A View to a Kill

The Living Daylights

Licence to Kill

GoldenEye

Tomorrow Never Dies

The World is Not Enough

Die Another Day

Casino Royale (2006)

Quantum of Solace

The Silver Bullet ~ Skyfall ~ Trailer #2

International Trailer:

Domestic Trailer:

Synopsis: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

Release Date:  November 9, 2012

Thoughts: A Bond fan since birth, I’ve enjoyed watching 007 evolve over the years.  The sleek secret agent that Sean Connery gave life to gradually became campy in the Roger Moore years and then more than slightly aloof with Timothy Dalton’s short reign.  Pierce Brosnan brought Bond out of the Cold War in swell fashion and now Daniel Craig is suiting up for his third outing as the man who likes things shaken, not stirred.  I really loved Craig in Casino Royale, grew to appreciate Quantum of Solace in repeated viewings but with Skyfall I feel that Craig is going to prove just why he’s one of the best Bonds. Granted, a film studio with this much money riding on the success of Bond’s 23rd adventure could edit the trailer to make it look any way they wanted…but the action sequences, villians, and assembled A-Listers give the feeling that Skyfall will be an important film in the Bond canon.  Now that The Dark Knight has risen I’m counting down the days until Bond’s Skyfall

Oh, and yes, I realize I left out George Lazenby who took over Bond in one movie…but I actually liked him too!

The Silver Bullet ~ “Skyfall” Teaser

Synopsis: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

Release Date:  November 9, 2012

Thoughts:   Ah…Bond is back.  It’s been nearly four years since his last adventure and while many were left unsatisfied with Quantum of Solace on repeated viewings I see what the franchise was going for.  It’s still not my favorite entry but it existed as a way to end a particular chapter on the Bond saga.  With that taken care of, the series is free to explore a new storyline and the description of Skyfall sounds quite juicy.  With director Sam Mendes at the helm expect a different kind of action film with expertly designed camera shots and more nuanced performances from all involved.  With the film adding Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, and Javier Bardem to the roster (as well as a new Q!) I’m counting down the days to Bond’s arrival.  Once we get a little closer to the release date I’ll be reviewing all of the Bond films for the blog – stay tuned!