Sunday, July 5, 2009

Best Picture Nominations What If Series: 2008

While I don't approve the of the academy's decision to bring back the 10 nomination system, one can't help but wonder what could've been. I've decided to go back through the year 2000 and guess at what could've been nominated had this system already been in place. I've based these guesses on Golden Globe Nominees and Winners as well as if they received a nomination for their screenplay. Remeber there are technically 10 screenplay nominations every year (adapted, original) but only five director nominations and those usually are in line with the Best Picture nominations. The actual nominations are listed first followed by the five that would've been nominated under the new rule. I've also given a reason for the each one of the 6-10 as well as the nomination that would have had the best shot.

2008 was definitely a weaker year for film in terms of quality but there were definitely some underrated films that made this list easy to compile.

2008's Top 5 (According to the academy)

Slumdog Millionaire (Won) Milk, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Reader, Frost/Nixon

The could've beens:

The Wrestler
- Let's be honest, everyone thought this would be nominated before The Reader (HAARRRVEEYYYY!!!). While it recieved 2 nominations (Actor, Supp. Actress) the lack of nominations in Director and Screenwriter (Even if it deserved them) leave me to think it could've been as arbitrary a nomination as The Reader, even if The Wrestler was a much better film

The Dark Knight
-This was most likely 6th amongst the academy. It had the most nominations of any non-best picture nominated film (8) and while many of them were technical and none of them were for director or screenplay, this film was favored to be the Gladiator of 2008. An epic, genre blockbuster that had some real depth to it. Also, the previous years best picture winner (No Country For Old Men) was a genre film with depth, Javier Bardem won Best Supporting Actor for playing a hybrid of Ledger's Joker and Eckhart's Two-Face, except more people saw and liked this movie. I would've had no qualms with the academy if this was nominated. I've watched it as much as any other movie to come out that year and I can find something new almost every time.

-It was my favorite film that year and I wish it was at the top of the bottom but unfortunately I just couldn't see it happening. It blew me away with it's maturity and willingness to go where it did and show all the kids with the Cars lunch boxes what their future might be like if they aren't careful. Unfortunately animated family films will rarely be serious contenders despite this one also receiving a best screenplay nomination.

Gran Torino-
I just saw this after the initial post. How Clint didn't get nominated for best actor or director is a mystery. Yes he is playing an older Dirty Harry and sometimes the comedy comes from the shocking, racist remarks his character makes but the performance has more depth to that, the movie goes. The only reason I can think of why the academy didn't nominate this for best picture is because they have already shown Clint plenty of love (Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby and a smaller amount with Letters From Iwo Jima) even if this was better than Baby. Many thought this had the most timely oscar campaign and would garner a nomination. With 10 there would've been no excuse not to.

- Based on this list, the 10 nomination change could do exactly what the academy wants: more underdogs! This was one of the most underrated and under seen movies of last year and also one of the best (Boom! Hyperbole!). It was nominated for Original Screenplay and one can't help but think, Sally Hawkins might have picked up the best actress nomination if not for the infamous Kate Winslet nomination screw-up (I'm working on a better name). She was wonderful in this movie but the real reason it gets the last spot of the nominations is because it is the real indie darling that should've been. By the time of the nominations it was pretty much a no-brainer that Slumdog was going to win. This was as quirky, kitchy but much better than either Juno or Little Miss Sunshine and if there is one thing the Academy has come to love in the past few years, it's quirk.

Honorable Mention: In Burges ,Vicky Christina Barcelona*

Was in the original ten but has since moved since I've seen Gran Torino.

Hi Everybody!

Sorry there haven't been any new posts lately. Summer's been busy at the DI and my other job. A few quick updates though as to what's in store for the next few posts and possibly the rest of the summer.

  • With the addition of 5 more Oscar nominations for next year, I am going to look back (at least through 2000) at what movies would have been in the extra 5 spots.
  • I recently watched She's Just Not That Into You and it got me thinking about the "intertwining characters device" and how it's used much more frequently so there should be a post on that.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull: One Year Later

I joined the family at the lake house in WI for the long weekend and a tradition is to watch a movie together after dinner. My Dad has recently discovered the merit of Blockbuster's 4 for $20 deals and just goes back to get 4 more whenever he finishes the last ones he bought. So when I got to the house I was curious to see what they had brought for the weekend. To my disappointment (not surprise) there laid a copy of the most recent Indiana Jones movie. I hadn't seen the movie since I went to see it opening day with my friends but i remember our reaction being similar to this:

Okay so it wasn't as bad as all that, we did stay for the whole thing, but it was safe to say that we felt our childhood had been tainted. So much so, that a few of us went to Burger King the next day (with our Indiana Jones cups) and watched Raiders to get the bad taste out of our mouths.

So the time came to pop in a movie and it was unanimous amongst my mom, dad, sister, and uncle that we watch the film that had caused me so much pain about a year ago. To my surprise, it was fairly harmless this time around, in fact, it may have been as butters put it, pretty good...maybe not that good. At least they didn't pull a Rocky and have Ford do something crazy (fridge aside).

Here are to problems I still have with the movie but don't completely ruin it.

Too Much CGI/Green Screen!: With the exception of the man-eating ants, the CG took me out of the movie. I understand that both Harrison Ford and Karen Allen don't have the endurance for action scenes that they once did , but they couldn't at least film in a real jungle? And for the temples? I would've loved to see some old-school special effects with that infamous black line around the miniture sets. This brings me up to the issue that most found disheartning.

The Aliens were fine...until the ship took off: There's a reason the 1st and third movie are considered by most to be the best of the bunch, is because they involve christian artifacts. Temple of Doom was actually the first Indiana Jones I saw as a kid and I like it as much as the third. Until recently though, it was considered to be the worst of the franchise and I honestly think this has to do with the majority of the US audience belonging to either the Christian or Jewish faith. Because of their faith, a lot of people find it easier to believe the holy grail or arc of the covenant are real but an obscure section of indian religion or the possibility of a mayan civilization worshiping aliens are ludicrous. If some tribes worshiped the sun, then aliens aren't far off. I'm not knocking Christianity, people of faith, or any other form of religion but it is ridiculous to discount the plausibility of a different belief, even if it is subconciously.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

D2 Mighty Ducks Entry

Just letting everyone know that the D2 entry is added but Blogger puts the posts in order of when I started writing them, not when they are actually posted. Ill try not to let this happen again.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Different Controversy Found In Disney's New Movie

If you haven't heard, Disney is releasing a new 2-D animated movie based on the classic story The Frog Prince called The Princess and The Frog. This seems like a great move to bring back the audience whose childhood revolved around the Disney Renaissance of the 90's. While there has been plenty of controversy on the internet about the race of the characters and the setting I was offended by the trailer's marketing but before I get to that I should go over some things I liked about it.

Disney has been showing some real balls lately
- When was the last time a G-rated animated movie was in contention for the best movie of the year? I still maintain that Wall-E should've been nominated and won best picture and the majority of that goes to the risk Disney/Pixar took to make an animated movie with limited dialogue and hold the mirror up to society. Here, Disney is showing similar guts by releasing a 2-d animated movie when everything is moving towards 3-D CGI it is nice to see someone taking a chance. Also when was the last time there was a mainstream animated movie with an African American main character? While Disney is probably trying to make up for characters like the Crows in Dumbo and that Disney himself was apparently a racist, this is huge for Disney to take a step in this direction. Disney certainly has needed to catch up with the times. It's good to see they did.

John Lassater is an Executive Producer
-When Ratatouille came out everyone talked about Brad Bird being the best animated storyteller in the western hemisphere. While thats true, Lassater has some major chops with the aforementioned Wall-e and Finding Nemo.

Essentially An Unknown Cast-I know some of these actors are very well known but the only one I could recognize is Terrence Howard. This is also a sign of Disney's guts in an age when solid movies like Kung-Fu Panda are released with a bloated cast.

Despite these redeeming qualities I can't get too excited about this next outing from Disney. My main problem with the trailer & the marketing campaign in general is that it is manipulating those of us who were kids in the 90's during the peak of not only Disney animation but western animation in general (Don Bluth). To imply that this movie is going to come close to classics such as Aladdin, Lion King, and Beauty and The Beast is absurd. Disney's last few original 2-D animated movies have been, for the most part, less than stellar. Let's take a look at the list:

Brother Bear (2003)
Treasure Planet (2002)
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
The Emperor's New Groove

Just to be clear, I do like Lilo & Stitch a lot and The Emperor's New Groove certainly has it's moments. If we are really being honest with ourselves though, the last great Disney 2-D venture is Mulan. However there is something to be said for the best movie of that bunch (Stitch) using water colors, so maybe this throwback is enough.

One other thing, why is this movie being put out in limited release? Disney is really showing confidence in the box office draw of its own name. My only guess is that they are really trying to push the nostalgia factor in a way that would make this an "art film." As I mentioned before, just because it's in 2-D or hand drawn, doesn't automatically bring it up to par with those from the 90's. Again, heres the trailer, if you haven't seen it or need to watch it a second time. Let me know what you think.

Poll extended (TWSS)

A quick update,

I noticed there was one more vote in the poll than expected so I've opened it back up to see if anyone else will vote. Be sure to leave a comment saying which "Other" movie your looking forward too.

Also, Finals are ending so here's some posts to look forward to:

  • Where Exactly Was Canada In D2: The Mighty Ducks?
Thanks for reading,

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Where was Canada in Mighty Ducks 2's Junior Goodwill Games?

So my friends and I have been playing a lot of NHL '09 (or "Chel") and decided to play a couple with international teams. Naturally we wanted to recreate some of the classic international match-ups Russia v. Sweeden, U.S.A. v. Russia, and of course, U.S.A v. Iceland. That's right, as kids who grew up in the 90's the most heated hockey rivalry is between Coach Bombay's U.S.A team and Wolf "The Dentist" Stanton's team from Iceland. Unfortunately, Iceland's hockey team (if they have one) isn't recognized in NHL '09, but in shuffling through the other countries my friends and I came to a mindblowing realization: Canada may not have been in D2: The Mighty Ducks.

We were stunned! It's safe to say hockey is Canada's game, no question about it. The Hockey hall of fame is in Toronto and the Canadian Junior Leagues are considered the gateway to the NHL. So why weren't they in D2:The Mighty Ducks?

I did a little research by rewatching the childhood classic and found that Canada was in the Junior Goodwill Games Tournament albeit in a loophole.

There you have it Canada was in a Group B while USA was in Group A. However if these groups only played each other in the finals, then why did USA play Iceland in the championship? We're led to believe that it's a round-robin format because we are told that Russia upsets Iceland, bringing the Vikings record even with USA's.

Lets jump back a bit because of the pairings of the groups. Group A consists of USA, Iceland, Italy, Trinidad-Tobago and Germany. Group B includes Sweden, Canada, Russia, Denmark and France. Group B is clearly the tougher division with Sweden, Canada, and Russia while the only two good teams in Group A are USA and Iceland. They could have switched Italy with Denmark so Group A at least gets a scandinavian team in the mix.

Am I reading too much into this? Probably, but there probably is a real reason for this. Disney realized they would have bigger market in Canada than Iceland or Trinidad-Tobago. Therefore they didn't have to worry about offending the Canadian market with stereotypes like the ones used with Iceland and especially Trinidad (see steel drums after they score a goal).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Update To "These Will Be Kept"

I remembered another rule I made for myself and my movie going experiences. It's the last one in my last real entry. Hopefully that can hold you over for a while.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Note To Readers (aka Nick):

Just wanted to give everyone and anyone who's reading this that the posts are going to be a lot fewer in the next month or so as finals are approaching. I also got a job as a metro writer for the Daily Iowan (university paper) so the posts are going to be on hold pretty much till the summer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"These Will Be Kept" A Declaration Of Principles

First off I urge everyone (all 2 of you) who reads this to check out Roger Eberts Rules For Film Critics and yes I do realize that I'm using the same picture that he did.

Just as Charles F. Kane did I'm going to lay out some principles that I hope to follow in my writing this blog

I Will Strive Towards Perfect Grammar-I know that blogging is a different type of journalism where most will tolerate an "LOL" and such. However, I'd be lying if I haven't had fantasies about a post from here being linked on the bottom of IMDb or an editor stumbling on to this page. Those fantasies can only come true if I do my best to be grammatically correct.

It's Only My Opinion-In Before Sunset Ethan Hawke talks about how we all see the world through our own little lense. The same is said for any type of criticism. The only reason I expect people to read this or care about what I have to say is because they are A. My Friends B. My Mom C. My girlfriend or D. They find that we share similar tastes. The main reason that my favorite critics are Adam Kempenaar and Matty Robinson of Filmspotting is because I had similar tastes as them and if they recommended a movie, I'm willing to check it out.

It's Only Entertainment, ButI Think It's Important-I know that talking about movies isn't as life shaping as the state of the economy or genocide in Darfur but I think it's important. An old boss of mine and I were discussing Aaron Sorkin shows during a lunch break when we came to Studio 60 he said that the fast paced dialogue works better when the characters are discussing foreign policy and what not. I told him that some people find the deadline of a live TV show as important, if not more so. If Sullivan's Travels and the recent rise in the box office has taught us anything, it's that there is a great value in entertaining people for a few hours.

As I said, "It's Only My Opinion."-I want to hear your thoughts. All I ask is that you keep it friendly. One of the biggest problems with the internet is that everone is anonymous and therefore feel that they can say anything they want. Also, if you notice any trends that you want me to explore.

I Will Rarely Talk About Trailers-I know Ebert says that it's crucial to stay away from trailer. I don't go that far but I do avoid all red-band trailers. One of the reasons I was underwhelmed by I Love You, Man and everyone else loved it is because the red band trailer gave away the entire "dinner speech," scene. There are plenty of other reasons why I wasn't as thrilled with the film as everyone else, but I've decided that I'm going to stay away from those R-rated trailers unless I see them in the theater (Sorry Bruno). I've also decided to stay clear of any trailer for a film I would see anyway because of the director or cast. Now will I be able to resist the trailer for the third Batman? Probably not but I'm going to do everything I can to keep my experiences spoiler-free.

Thanks for reading. If you have any other good rules, please let me know.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hi. My Name Is Tyler and I Watch My Boys

**Note-I realize the lack of timeliness in this post but I was having trouble with Blogger**

Hi, my name is Tyler and I watch My Boys. The first new episode of the season aired this past Tuesday and for some reason I can't explain, I rushed home from class to boot up the DVR and watch. As someone who's been the constant point of ridicule for religiously watching the comedy in which a Chicago Cubs sports writer tries to find love even though she gets along better with her guy friends, (Sounds awful, I know) I have always rationalized that it's a guilty pleasure. Now that slot is filled by Smart Guy reruns on BET, I've had to take an introspective look at why I never miss an episode which coincided nicely with the season premiere. I have examined the show closely and have found some of its strong and weaker points.

**Warning Spoilers Below*** (However, you'll soon find out, the plot is nothing original)

Reasons I Keep Watching:

  • Setting-It takes place on the north side of Chicago, and I'm from the suburbs, so whenever places like Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates, and Naperville are mentioned on a national TV show, it's the equivalent of a band giving your hometown a big shout out.

  • The Cubs-As I said the main character, P.J., is a Cubs fan and covers the Cubs for a newspaper, which is one of my Top 5 Dream Jobs.

  • P.J.-P.J. is every guy's (especially Chicago-bred) dream girl. She's hot but not unattainable, she loves sports, and she's happiest at a bar sharing pitchers with her friends or hosting a Poker Night.

  • Jim Gaffigan-This guy is hilarious as PJ's older brother who is coming to terms with being a married, full-fledged adult. Every now and again he has a line that you can tell he came up with after reading the script and it makes a bad episode that much better.

Reasons the Show Is On Par With a Bad Rom-Com:

  • The Narration-The show follows a narration format that is very similar to Sex and The City (my masculinity is really coming out in this opening entry) and while there is a rather clever episode in which P.J.'s old college friend has become Carrie Bradshaw, the show sometimes uses this as a crutch.

  • The Cliff-Hanger Follow-Up-I love cliff hanger endings (one of my favorite shows is Lost) My Boys always ends the season with a big one. First season was that P.J. was going to Italy and brought a mystery man who was revealed the next season. Last season it was her friend/love interest knocking on her bedroom door the night before his wedding only to find out that she was sleeping with her brother. While both of these are very contrived and predictable, the latter suffered in the follow-up the next season. In Italy, P.J. realized that Bobby only thought of her as a friend, which took a good half of the episode. In the newest episode, none of the cliffhanger mattered as Bobby's fiancĂ© broke-up with him the next day, his brother had to ditch P.J. to go on a business trip and a very funny moustache contest joke was set up all a matter of five minutes.

As you may have counted, there are more good points than bad ones but the bad ones are structure and story elements which I place above funny jokes, eye candy, and Chicagoland references. Still the reason I watch the show every week is so I can laugh at the often funny guy references and anything that comes out of Jim Gaffigan. Hopefully now, after writing this I can wear my My Boys fandom without ridicule because I acknowledge the flaws and strength's equally (like my Cubbies) and hopefully any fan who reads this can too.