Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Monday, February 28, 2011
Unfortunately, there are no saber metrics for the Academy Awards but with an understanding of voting techniques, past history and basic pool strategy you can be in contention year in and year out.
Pick an Underdog
Assuming none of the categories are weighted, don’t be afraid to shy away from the favorite. I’m not saying you should have picked Toy Story 3 for Best Picture – although calling that upset should be rewarded with a cut of the winnings but pick a nominee who will probably come in a close 2nd. Annette Benning, Geoffrey Rush, or The Social Network (Best Picture) all qualified under this principle.
As important as the major categories appear, in a pool they are only one category. I picked The Social Network to win best picture because I knew The King’s Speech was going to get a lot of love from my co-workers. If there was an upset, that could push me over the edge when it’s all said and done.
While strategy can help, I DO NOT recommend you apply this to your entire ballot. Favorites are such for good reason and a good portion of academy voters are just going to vote for whatever gets the most buzz. However, if you apply this to one or two categories and lose, you will make it up in the long run.
More Often Than Not, Match Your Best Picture and Director
A little known fact: Producers, not directors, get the Best Picture award. The Academy feels bad about this, so they give their Directing award to the film that leads their Best Picture rankings. Unless you are picking Best Picture as your underdog, match this category with the Best Picture Favorite.
There are years where the consensus is that the categories will split but this hasn’t happened since 2007 when Crash upset Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture (No going into the reasons for that debacle). This was another one of those years as people were convinced David Fincher would win for directing The Social Network even if The King’s Speech won best picture.
Look at (Recent) History
Did you see how I used a stat from the 2007 awards in explaining last night’s winners. The human element certainly hurts the Oscars from being a pure stat’s game, more so than sports but they’re still useful. There’s no need to look at trends from the more than five or ten years ago which can easily be done on IMDb.
Don’t Pick the Popular Foreign Films
Another little known fact: Only the Academy members who attend designated screenings and see all the films nominated in the foreign category, vote for the category. This is the major reason why, Pan’s Labyrinth, Waltz with Bashir, The White Ribbon and A Prophet – all of which were extremely popular – didn’t win in their respective years. Use this to your advantage and eliminate those from your mind and just pick one of whatever’s left.
There are exceptions to the rule. If a foreign film is nominated for Best Picture a la Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, vote that film in the foreign category.
Pick the Blockbuster Best Picture Nom. in EVERYTHNG Else.
The move to ten Best Picture nominations allows hit blockbusters to get some respect from The Academy. Last year it was Avatar, this year it was Inception. For better or worse, these movies are generally considered out of the running for the big prize.
Inception was almost universally loved. This love helped it win for Cinematography, Visual Effects, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. The “popular” films are generally a given for many of the technical categories.
Don’t Pay Attention to Any One Prior Award Show
I wrote an entry about this after The Golden Globes last year. Neither that or any other award show solely decides the Oscars. While that particular awards show was precise in the acting categories but so were other shows. All I can say on these is focus on the other shows as a whole, particularly those from the Globes on. Past Oscar stats are more important though.
Other Things to Keep In Mind
• Anything with a non-linear narrative is a safe bet for editing.
• If there’s an obvious choice for make-up, i.e. The Wolfman, is a sure thing more than not.
• Period pieces almost always win for Costume
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Friday, February 11, 2011
There has been plenty said about how Chandler and Britton played the most realistic, happily married couple in the history of television. This is all true so I won’t spend a paragraph discussing it. All I’ll say is hopefully they get their second consecutive Emmy nominations and hopefully a win for at least one of them and go on to lead roles on other shows of a high caliber.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Earlier this week, reports rose of Keanu Reeves breaking news of two more films in The Matrix franchise which will be shot back to back, in 3D, and according to Reeves will “truly revolutionize the action genre like the first movie.” While this report was latter deemed inaccurate but still brings up a larger topic. Movie franchises are getting an unnecessary extra film from the technology’s prominence i.e. the latest Chronicles of Narnia film which followed a less than stellar performance from its predecessor.
There has also been a large amount of backlash for Baz Luhrman’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby which is also being filmed in the third dimension. The novel is almost everybody’s favorite book (one of mine too) because they first read it in High School (as did I) so invariably, people hold it very close to their hearts and the unavoidable mistreatment of even the smallest detail will cause distress amongst high school graduates everywhere.
Criticism aside, I would actually be excited for a 3D venture from both the Wachowski’s or Luhrman. James Cameron created an excellent movie experience unique to theaters with Avatar and there are a number of other directors who could play with the tech in unique ways. Here are a few other director I would trust in the third dimension.
Tim Burton – I’m sorry to all the fanboys out there but last years’ Alice in Wonderland doesn’t count. It wasn’t shot in or for 3D. While his more recent films are bogged down in visual effects, his imagination his still rightfully intact as seen in Big Fish, his last great film. Imagine a situation where viewers only put on their glasses during that film’s story sequences. The scene at the circus would be breathtaking.
Steven Spielberg – A bit of an obvious choice and his films are known for crumbling when they over-rely on effects but dammit when his movies work, they pay-off tenfold. Look at something like Minority Report, a film that combines excellent effects and action scenes with a compelling mystery and sci-fi themes. A similar movie may actually make me pay extra for the third dimension.
Christopher Nolan – Inception was a visual feast for the eyes. We’ll have to wait till after The Dark Knight Rises before we get a chance to see Nolan experiment in the third dimension (which is for the better!) but it will certainly be worth the wait.
Wes Anderson – A dark horse to be sure and a director who is certainly capable of causing apathy in his audience (Darjeeling Limited) and I don’t approve of his directing methods for the very good Fantastic Mr. Fox. However, his commitment to mis-en-scene and his film’s overall visual style is amazing. His first 3D film would definitely grab the attention of every hipster and film student in the country.
Are there other directors you would trust with 3D? Would you even want some of these directors to take on the tech? Leave your comments below and check out the poll to left of the screen.
As always, make sure to follow Audible Motion on Twitter at www.twitter.com/audible_motion for news and updates on the blog. Also, be sure to check out my gaming blog, Eyes Open Thumbs Down at www.eyesopenthumbsdown.blogspot.com
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Monday, December 6, 2010
I currently do not subscribe to the Hollywood Reporters online service so I do not have access to the full quote. You can read more about it on The Onion AV Club here.
I have no interest in criticizing Duvall’s comments (interviews can cause people to simply say things) or point out the great performances Kubrick got out of the likes of Kirk Douglas, Peter Sellers, and Malcolm McDowell – to name a few. What does interest me is whether or not a “great” film can exist with poor performances from its principal actors.
One common thread in modern film criticism is to point out individual actors that give excellent performances in lesser films. Popular recent examples include Kate Winslet in The Reader, Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side, or Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart (hmm…all Oscar-winning performances). However, it is very rare for critics to praise a film while dismissing the principal performances.
Kevin Smith’s Clerks finds itself in this small group. While Smith wasn’t working with then professional actors, Brian O’Halloran (Dante) and Jeff Anderson (Randal) give sometimes hard to watch performances relative to their performances in the sequel. Each performance is there to reiterate the script, which is interesting considering a popular rumor that Smith never allowed his actors to improvise – a myth he dispelled in the comic-con panel for Zach and Miri Make a Porno. That being said, Clerks is a hilarious film. From its release to this very day, its’ refreshing dialogue opens viewers to a unique brand of comedy and dialogue.
As charming as Smith’s first film is, there is something special about a movie that combines a compelling story, interesting idea and excellent performances. Nearly all universally praised films like Goodfellas or Casablanca are exalted for their themes, technique, and story, directing and yes…acting. These are also all rated higher on iMDB than Clerks. While this can’t be taken as gospel, (movie criticism is subjective…imagine that!) audiences clearly recognize certain films as being “complete,” in this regard.
It’s very rare for a film to earn praise without at least one solid to astounding performance. It’s definitely more common in first films like Clerks or Darren Aranofsky’s Pi. It’s certainly possible, however a poor performance can go a long way to pull viewers out of a film.
What do you think? Are there any films you love that don’t have any especially great lead performances? Is it possible for a film to be great but not have a single good performance? Post your thoughts in the comments below or share them on Twitter @audible_motion.
Also be sure to check out my Gaming blog “Eyes Open, Thumbs Down” at www.eyesopenthumbsdown.blogspot.com.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
No new show was built higher... and made to fall farther than HBO's Boardwalk Empire. Even as the highly anticipated premiere approached, a small stream of negative buzz and backlash began to surface. I first saw the ads for the new series as I sat down for The Pacific Steve Buscemi's line of pure exposition was fresh and exciting at the time and the proposition of seen Michael Pitt do some serious mainstream work was promising.
The hour and a half long pilot won praise from both the critics and audiences alike. The show averaged 4.8 million viewers - a record for HBO and enough to warrant renewal for a second season. And why not? HBO treated its viewers to the latest feature length production from none other than the man who brought us Goodfellas, Mean Streets and The Departed. The show couldn't possibly fail. But it did...sort of.
While the first episode made great use of the show's elaborate rendition of the Atlantic City Boardwalk with the bustling fanfare of Dixie bands, side-shows and carnival games, the second episode was much quieter focusing more on character interactions than place.
This was to be expected as it’s the pilot episodes job to introduce us to the show's Who, What, Where, and When - it's also worth noting that second episodes are shot well after pilots, and Boardwalk is no exception. Now that the show is nearing the end of its inaugural season (and significantly lower ratings), it's clear that the first episode was vastly different from what the show turned out to be.
In a B.S. Report interview with Lost producer Carlton Cuse, host Bill Simmons asserted Lost would be the last show of its kind and the days of the big budget network drama were over. Simmons also said the television drama will transform to a series of interpersonal interactions, often indoors and between no more than three characters. HBO's newest drama couldn't represent that transition more clearly.
With this transition, show's such as Boardwalk Empire will serve only to confuse viewers who don't give it a chance. This isn't the epic look at the emergence of organized crime that audiences thought it would be but a small examination of a place and time leading up to The Great Depression and what some will do to make sure they don't fall victim to a very prevalent lower-middle class.
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