23 February 2009

Capping the Year

O, the moments from last night. Here is a couple of the out-standing speeches from last night, Dustin Lance Black's relevantly personal and deeply humanistic acceptance for Milk and, of course, Kate's quirky and long-awaited acceptance for The Reader.
On a related note, a point I didn't address last night but one that surely deserves mention is that of the revised process of awarding the actors, by which five previous winners in each category not only announced and congratulated their category's new winner but also spoke to and praised each other nominee for his/her nominated work, a process which I and, I'm sure, many of you felt to be both a welcome reprieve from the semi-redundant and oft minimizing practice of showing clips from each nominated work and a clever way to make use of the Academy's greatest asset: not its money, not its fame, and surely not its members but much rather its actors. Well done, Mr. Condon (and team); this move almost makes up for your lamentable Dreamgirls (2006). (And - to think - I almost went a whole post without making a single criticism....)
In any event, the show was pretty darn good last night, better than it has been in years, though of course improvements to many things in our pasts and presents could always have been and still be made. Nevertheless, as I said when I wrote last night, I was blithely contented by the whole affair of this year's Oscars; it was nice to see almost everything go according to plan but that going simultaneously be unboring. And, so oft as it has been, let us end of that note, a good one, and thus close this year in film, 2008.
(2009, away!)

(Other video below:)

22 February 2009

Kate Wins(!) and the 11 Best Films of the Year in Film 2008

I must start this post by saying that Kate looked gorgeous tonight and, if appearance mean anything in the Best Actress race, its tradition has upheld the winner in that category for this second year running.
I must also say that I'm so happy that Kate finally has a statuette! She so deserves to have one for the work behind her (and not necessarily for this one rôle), and now she can make a true pair with her husband, Sam Mendes.
Finally, I must say that I actually feel good about most of the winners this year, unlike so many other years, even despite my personal differences of opinion - but then those differences are why I have this blog and my own awards. So, let's get on to 'em:

The 11 Best Films of 2008 (listed alphabetically) and Their Grades

  • Auf der Strecke, A-/B+
  • Changeling, B+
  • Doubt, A-
  • Frozen River, A-
  • In Bruges, B+
  • John & Karen, A-/B+
  • Låt den Rätte Komma In (Let the Right One In), A-
  • Rachel Getting Married, A-
  • Man on Wire, A-/B+
  • Milk, B+
  • Slumdog Millionaire, A-/B+

21 February 2009

The SpyGlasses Full (2008): Official Winners

Below is the complete list of the winners of my little awards, the SpyGlasses Full, for this past year in film, 2008. (The winner in each category is denoted by boldface type; italics denotes a noteworthy second place.) Look out for my list of the "Best 10 Films of This Past Year" tomorrow here, at A Year in Film. Hurrah!

Best Live-Action Film (Feature-Length)
Frozen River
Låt den Rätte Komma In (Let the Right One In)
Rachel Getting Married
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director
Tomas Alfredson, Låt den Rätte Komma In (Let the Right One In)
Danny Boyle & Loveleen Tandan, Slumdog Millionaire
Jonathan Demme, Rachel Getting Married
Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
John Patrick Shanley, Doubt

Best Actor
Colin Farrell, In Bruges
Michael Fassbender, Hunger
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Sean Penn, Milk
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Best Actress
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Michelle Williams, Wendy & Lucy

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Downey, Jr.; Tropic Thunder
Ralph Fiennes; The Duchess, In Bruges
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams; Doubt, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Penélope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Samantha Morton; Synecdoche, New York
Kate Winslet, The Reader

Best Art Direction
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Slumdog Millionaire
Synecdoche, New York

Best Cinematography
Jérémy Clapin & Jean-François Sarazin, Skhizein (Split)
Roger Deakins, Doubt
Anthony dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire
Tom Stern, Changeling
Hoyte van Hoytema, Låt den Rätte Komma In (Let the Right One In)

Best Costuming
Brideshead Revisited
The Duchess
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Revolutionary Road

Best Make-Up
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Tropic Thunder
The Wrestler

Best Visual Effects
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Iron Man
Speed Racer

Best Original Score
Alexandre Desplat, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Clint Eastwood, Changeling
Michael Giacchino, Speed Racer
Thomas Newman; Revolutionary Road, Wall•E
Johan Söderqvist, Låt den Rätte Komma In (Let the Right One In)

Best Original Song
"Little Person" by Jon Brion; Synecdoche, New York
"I Thought I Lost You" by Miley Cyrus & John Travolta, Bolt
"The Story" by Norah Jones, My Blueberry Nights
"Jai Ho" by AR Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
"The Wrestler" by Bruce Springsteen, The Wrestler

Best Sound Editing
The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Speed Racer

Best Sound Mixing
The Dark Knight
Låt den Rätte Komma In (Let the Right One In)
Slumdog Millionaire
Speed Racer

Best Editing
In Bruges
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Screenplay (Original)
Woody Allen, Vicky Christina Barcelona
Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married
Tom McCarthy, The Visitor
Martin McDonagh, In Bruges

Best Screenplay (Adapted)
Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
John Ajvide Lindqvist, Låt den Rätte Komma In (Let the Right One In)
Christopher & Jonathan Nolan, The Dark Knight
Kelly Reichardt & Jonathan Raymond, Wendy & Lucy
John Patrick Shanley, Doubt

Best Animated Film (Feature-Length)
Kung Fu Panda

Best Animated Film (Short)
John & Karen, Matthew Walker (Anim.; shown above)
La Maison en Petits Cubes (The House of Tiny Cubes), Kunio Katö (Anim.)
Okatpodi, Gobelins (Anim.)
Presto, Doug Sweetland (Anim.)
Skhizein (Split), Jeremy Clapin (Anim.)

Best Live-Action Film (Short)
Auf der Strecke (On the Line), Reto Caffi (Dir.)
Grison (The Pig), Tivi Magnusson and Dorte Høgh (Dirs.)
New Boy, Steph Green (Dir.) & Tamara Anghie

Best Documentary Film (Feature-Length or Short)
Encounters at the End of the World
Man on Wire

Best Foreign-Language Film (Live Action or Animated, Feature-Length or Short)
Auf der Strecke (On the Line), Reto Caffi (Dir.; Germany/Switzerland)
Il Y A Longtemps Que Je T'Aime (I've Loved You So Long), Philippe Claudel (Dir. & Writer; France)
Låt den Rätte Komma In (Let the Right One In), Tomas Alfredson (Dir.) and John Ajvide Lindqvist (Writer; Norway)
Skhizein (Split), Jérémy Clapin (Anim., France)
Vals im Bashir (Waltz with Bashir), Ari Folman (Dir. & Writer; Israel)

14 February 2009

Kisses from Criterion

A special Valentine's Day post from Criterion features stills of kisses excerpted from several of the film-house's stellar repertoire. To the right, younger Christina Ricci and Elijah Wood enjoy a stolen moment in the bottom of a drained pool, from Ang Lee's tragically inspective The Ice Storm (1997). Happy Valentine's Day, all!

08 February 2009

O, Paolo

Paolo Pellegrin, eminent photographer of the Magnum ilk, has done a spectacular job of capturing some of the honored, to be honored, and honorable actors and actresses of the films of this past year in his new photographic collection for The New York Times. Among his photographed thespians, a dapper Frank Langella, a semi-occluded Mickey Rourke, a self-conscious Penélope Cruz, a quotidian Brad Pitt, and a worn Robert Downey, Jr., (all shown above and below) are the highlights, though the series as a whole stands up well as a cross between pictorial journalism and investigatory portraiture. Viewable now on the Times' website, here, the collection I applaud for including among such respected members the rising actress Kat Dennings, who has been a delight ever since her demandingly brilliant guest turn in Sex and the City's aptly named episode "Hot Child in the City" (2000; excerpt of Ms. Dennings therein shown below). Please, do check them out.

05 February 2009

Annoucement: Board Games to Take over Theaters near You

On the more lamentable cinematic front, it seems that it is currently vogue for the big-shot Hollywood producers, especially those who take pride in bringing the masses their crowd-pleasing and often over-blown--visuals---driven summer blockbusters, to set their production slates a-choc-full of living-room-to-life-size adaptations of popular contemporary board games. As GreenCine Daily reports, Universal Studios alone will be bringing not one, not two, not even three, but four(!) total board-game adaptations to life this upcoming year, and no doubt, heeding the expected financial success of the first couple of these releasings, the other studios will be quickly following its suit. To enumerate the releveant projects currently in production: Ridley Scott, acclaimed director of such films as Thelma & Louise (1991) and Gladiator (2001), is currently set to direct the filmic adaptation of Hasbro's Monopoly; Michael Bay, popular director of 2007's analogous adaptation Transformers, is overseeing the adaptation of Parker Brothers' Ouija; and Kevin Lima, director of the popular Enchanted (2007), has been announced to helm Milton-Bradley's Candyland. And, with the further adaptations of such other games as Battleship and (the already fairly adapted) Clue also already on the horizon, one would be hard pressed to deny a trend. Whether any of these proposed and produced features will be any good, however, is an altogether different matter to assess; but my instincts are telling me, the results will majorly not be good. Other than the fodder for such predictable one-line praises as "dazzling special effects!" and "amazing action!" what exactly are you trying to offer us with this kind of film-making, studios? Or is it rather more like what the writers over at GreenCine Daily suspect: that it is too hard for current screenwriters to craft an original storyline with a wide appeal? Either way, each of your due features is starting in my book with a pre-handicap of minus 1. Show me Jonathan Demme's adaptation of Chutes and Ladders or, as they at GreenCine proposed, Woody Allen's Scrabble and maybe I'll reconsider.

Announcement: Criterion Event in Columbus, OH

I must say, I'm suddenly a bit envious of all of you who may be in the Columbus, Ohio, area this upcoming Monday, 9 February, since on that day Criterion will be hosting a screening of its Simon of the Desert (dir. Buñuel, 1965) title there, at the Wexner Center for the Arts. This event, which will be accompanied by a 30%-off(!) sale of Criterion DVDs at the adjunct Wexner's bookshop, will also include a reception, question-and-answer session, and pre-film discussion of how Criterion does what it does so well, in addition to the screening - altogether making a package that one would be silly to miss, if one were nearby. To learn more, get directions to the Center, or listen to a podcast about the event, see the original posting on the Criterion Current, here.

04 February 2009

Background: Taking Woodstock

A brief article from Seven Global gives us a small history of the upcoming book-to-film adaptation of the memoir Taking Woodstock (Tiber) by Mr. Ang Lee. The film, produced by the consistently 'high-marks' Focus Features, originally received mention on this blog back in September, when Entertainment Weekly posted this photo of Mr. Lee commencing production on set with his traditional Big-Luck ceremony. Due out in theaters 14 August 2009 (according to this post on the Focus Features' Editors Blog), the film will no doubt be on critics' minds for the next awards' season, Winter 2009.

P. S. Though it's been a while since this post on the Focus Features' Editor's Blog, kudos are due to the cast and crew of Taking Woodstock for making it a green-minded production. Read how here.

P. P. S. That same list of upcoming 2009 releases by Focus Features includes a bunch of other prospective gems: new entries by each director Sam Mendes, writers/directors Ethan & Joel Coen, and animator/director Shane Acker, who is adapting his previously Academy-Award nominated, animated short 9 (2005) into a feature-length event, co-produced by Tim Burton - cool.

03 February 2009

Announcement: Turner Classic Movies' (TCM's) "31 Days of Oscar"

Turner Classic Movies (TCM), since 6am on Sunday, 1 February, has been in full swing of its traditional "31 Days of Oscar" tribute/marathon. The event, a continuous and frequently thematized stream of films from the entire Oscar canon, though designed as a marketing tie-in with the Oscars for TCM, is nevertheless a beautiful way to see lots and lots of older movies while remaining comfortably at home (and eschewing those interstitial Netflix waylays). With the stream virtually guaranteed to play all the classics at one point or another, one need only tune in to see such films as North by Northwest (1959; shown), Adam's Rib (1949), and Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), which coincidentally is scheduled to air tonight, at 2am. If that hour be too late for many of you, as I suspect it would be, you need only to diligently set your little DVRs and then catch the film when you have the chance - but do remember to set them, for TCM does not repeat. Repeat: TCM does not repeat. On the flip side of that con, however, is that TCM does pull out some snickety old gems that only the most discerning or privy of moviegoers would otherwise, ordinarily, have access to. So, be on the lookout and enjoy! A widget displaying rotating banners for what (I presume) will be airing on any given day will be displayed in my (newly resized) sidebar until the the end of the stream.