This has really been a fantastic year in films, and I'm not really surprised at all the great films that have been nominated this year. Yet, I can still do without all the nominations for Best Picture. I mean, if they are going to have 10 nominations for Best Picture, why not have 10 nominations for Best Director? For The Kid's Are All Right, 127 Hours, or Winter's Bone, it's like telling those film's directors, "Hey, your film was magnificent, but....how can I say this....your direction just wasn't good enough."
I don't know what all of you think about that, but personally I think it's all bullshit.
And all this because many people threw a hissy-fit because The Dark Knight wasn't nominated for Best Picture back in 2008? Sure, the next year they expanded the big award to ten nominees, but still what happens this year? Christopher Nolan was once again snubbed, this time in the Best Director category!
Note to the Academy: I know you're trying to please everybody all of the time, but that task is near impossible. Drop the total list of best picture nominees back to five to make the category more elite. If not, expand the total list of best directors to ten, so as to not make the five directors shut out not feel so humiliated for having directed what is considered one of the best films of the year.
But other than that, I was still disappointed by some of the actors and films that Oscar seemed to overlook (Scott Pilgrim vs The World!), but there was nothing I could do about it in the first place. All I can do is make my guesses as to which people and films will win Hollywood's big award. So without wasting anymore time, here is my list and reasons on whom I believe will take home the golden statuette, and whom I believe should take home the Academy Award.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams -- The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter -- The King's Speech
Melissa Leo -- The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld -- True Grit
Jacki Weaver -- Animal Kingdom
The only three nominees on this list that I think are worthy of their nominations are Leo, Steinfeld, and Weaver. Carter wasn't on screen long enough to prove to me that she was worthy of her honor, and Adams was never worthy for her role at all. Ann Morgan Guilert (Please Give) , Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass, Let Me In) , and Mia Wasikowska (The Kids Are All Right, That Evening Sun), Mila Kunis (Black Swan), and Olivia Williams and Kim Catrall (The Ghost Writer) were the ones that were more deserving.
But as for the three that I feel that are in a tight race for the award, Steinfeld would no-doubtedly be the surprise upset-winner. Her big-screen debut turned heads to how talented she is in her acting skills, and in return, honored her with a nomination. But was it even in the correct "supporting" actress catagory? Many people will argue her place as a supporting or "lead" actress, but the Academy will most likely deem her too young, and that she will have many more award-worthy roles in the future -- that is, if she is the real thing.
So it must be between the two veteran actresses Leo and Weaver. Leo has been receiving the majority of the year-end awards for her true-life performance as the career-controlling mother of boxer Mickey Ward. And although she received her first surprise nomination for best actress in 2008's "Frozen River", Leo's career hit an all-time high in 2010 with roles in several well-received films ("The Dry Land", "Conviction", "Welcome to the Rileys"), and a nomination in her biggest hit ("The Fighter").
Weaver has won supporting actress awards at the Los Angeles Film Critics Assocation and at the National Board of Review, so she has had some recognition for her role as another true life person -- the matriach of a crumbling Australian crime family. It's a magnetic performance, but unfortunately, it will be a performance that will affect only the people that have seen this movie.
Who Will Win: Leo
Her strong and overbearing role as Alice Ward comes close stealing every scene she's in, even overshadowing almost every other actor in "The Fighter". Leo's heavy Boston accent and outrageous hair style only liven her powerful characterization in a role that comes close to being over-the-top, but only comes close.
Who Should Win: It's a close one between Weaver and Steinfeld, but I'm going to have to go with Weaver. Her film's character belies a chilling malevolence that is hidden only by her love to her sons. Does she look like the kindly older woman down the road who will give you a cup of sugar if you ask? Yes. Will she have you killed if you harm one of her children? Also yes. And Weaver makes it all the more chilling with her calm voice, patient demeanor, and cold-as-ice stare.
sidenote: if the young Tatum O'Neal and Anna Paquin are any hint of an upset, don't be surprised if a 15 year-old Steinfeld is up on stage giving an acceptance speech.
Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale -- The Fighter
John Hawkes -- Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner -- The Town
Mark Ruffalo -- The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush -- The King's Speech
Ruffalo gives a good performance as the sperm-donor father who interrupts the lives of a lesbian couple, and their two children. But his performance was overshadowed by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening. And to be overshadowed by Bening is, for me, saying a lot.
Renner gives an even better performance as the near-psychotic bank robber. But his film was nearly shut-out at nomination time, and his performance has been nominated at several critics' awards, but hasn't won any. He'll have to be satisfied with just the second Oscar nomination of his career.
Rush just may have enough momentum to be a leading contender for the best supporting actor award. His "The King's Speech" leads in nominations and he the clear favorite to win. But he already as a best actor trophy for 1996's "Shine" (an award he most certainly deserved), but his chances against another contender this year slims his chances.
Who are we kidding? Bale is taking home this award. This Welsh actor's oft-overlooked performances have been ignored long enough, and he finally snags an Oscar nomination for a role he was made for: as the thin-to-the-bones, crack-addicted brother to champion Mickey Ward. Bale magnificently wallows in his own self-pity and abuse as Dickie Eklund, all while in the delusional haze that an HBO film crew is filming him on what he percieves as his "career comeback" in the boxing ring, when in actuallity, they're filming the life of a former contender, and his decline into drugs.
The downside to this role is that it screams "Oscar" all over it, even if Bale wasn't in it (Brad Pitt and Matt Damon were previously attached to this role), but then again, after seeing the final product, I couldn't imagine anyone else but Bale as Eklund.
Who Will Win: Bale
Who Should Win: Hawkes.
Immediately after seeing "Winter's Bone", I knew that Hawkes had given an award-worthy performance as the coke-addicted uncle of a young lady searching for her missing father. His character's knowledge of back-woods justice and knowing when not to stick your nose where it doesn't belong conflicts with his loyalty to family and sense of pride -- as we get to know more about his character, we know that he means well, but his constant drug use clouds his judgements and not only puts his life in danger, but also his niece's.
Annette Bening -- The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman -- Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence -- Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman -- Black Swan
Michelle Williams -- Blue Valentine
The first people that I would single out for having the slimmest chances at winning are Kidman and Williams. Don't get me wrong, Kidman gives a great performance, but she hasn't been winning any year-end awards either, only nominations, and that doesn't bode well for her chances here. Besides, she already has a best actress Oscar at home for 2002's "The Hours", and two of the other nominees are first-time nominees.
Williams gives a somewhat memorable turn as the emotionally unbalanced wife in an unstable relationship. I would have thought more of this role if it didn't strike some close similiarities to her other Oscar-nominated role in 2005's "Brokeback Mountain", a role I personally thought she deserved to win for. But in "Blue Valentine", her performance almost stretched her acting limits beyond that, but not enough for me to appreciate her getting nominated. Besides, she was even eclipsed by that of her co-star Ryan Gosling, in a role that was criminally neglected by the Academy.
20 year-old Lawrence is the youngest and one of the biggest surprises in the acting catagories for this year's Oscars, but voters are going to look at her as having a bright future and having more chances at being nominated for future awards. The best actress category is filled with strong contenders and in this case, the Academy will think that she should be honored at just being nominated.
That leaves Bening vs. Portman in what amounts to a race that's neck and neck.
Portman does a brilliant job of capturing the pain and joys of becoming the best at her craft (as I'm sure everybody knows by know, she was actually a ballerina when she was younger), and in one of her best moments on film (the scene where she learns she was made lead ballerina, she's in the restroom stall talking to her mother on her cell-phone), the tearful excitement that comes over her face and in her voice is a moment of raw emotion that hit me like a ton of bricks -- that was the scene that showed Best Actress material.
And as for Bening, I know she's been the critics darling dating all the way back to 1990's "The Grifters" (a film for which she was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar), and 1991's "Bugsy" (a role that showed her at her best, yet was denied a nomination). But when she was nominated for Best Actress Academy Awards for 1999's "American Beauty" and 2004's "Being Julia", she ran into a small problem -- both times, she was beaten (and justifiably) by Hillary Swank.
Now that poses a problem here. Critics have been raving that her role in "The Kids Are All Right" is the role that will finally net her her first Oscar. And to that, I say....NO WAY This is not Bening's best performance. And even though she was, in my opinion, upstaged by Julianne Moore (who should've been nominated for best actress instead), Academy voters were most likely swayed by Bening's role as the betrayed partner of a lesbian couple.
Who Will Win: Portman
Who Should Win: Portman
The clear winner here is Portman. She carries the role, and the movie on her shoulders, and she's been the clear favorite in amost every critics' association out there. If Bening's name were to be called instead, it will be because she got the sympathy vote.
Javier Bardem -- Biutiful
Jeff Bridges -- True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg -- The Social Network
Colin Firth -- The King's Speech
James Franco -- 127 Hours
Can the winner be any more clearer? Bridges took home the award last year for a role he was made for. And although he's practically a Hollywood legend with a famous father and brother with a film career of his own, Bridges will have to be content with his nomination, and be happy that he is in an elite group of actors who have been nominated for an Oscar for playing the same character up on the big screen -- Bridges and John Wayne as Rooster Cogurn; Marlon Brando and Rober DeNiro for playing Vito Corleone; Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench for playing Queen Elizabeth I; and Kenneth Branagh and Sir Laurence Olivier for playing Henry V.
Eisenerg does a great job at playing a character you love to hate, but whether Mark Zuckerberg is really like that, it's unclear, considering neither person had ever met until a couple of weeks ago on SNL. For me, I like Eisenberg as an actor, but I'm starting to see similarities in all his roles, and I'm hoping he never falls into the trap of an actor who is typcasted into basically playing himself. Here he should just be happy to be nominated.
The same goes for Franco. But don't get me wrong about his acting -- it is superb and I was hoping he would get nominated. His portrayal of the real life Aron Ralston had me yearning for his eventual escape, and when that moment came, and I'm not afraid to say this, had tears welling up in my eyes.
And speaking of bravura, one-man performances, where was Ryan Reynolds on any of the year-end critics' lists? It takes a lot of talent for a lone actor to keep viewers' attention up on the screen for an hour and a half, and his unbelievably mesmerizing, and at times amusing role of a man trapped in a coffin in this past year's "Buried" made me change my mind on how talented this guy can be when he wants to.
And for his role of a very ill man who has to overcome personal, as well as professional (if you can call it that) tragedies, Bardem proves that he was worthy of his best actor nomination in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's overwhelming bleak character study, "Biutiful".
Although a great performance, Bardem is up against some great competition here, and is the dark horse here like he was back at the 2001 Academy Awards, where he was nominated for Best Actor for the great "Before Night Falls" -- a role I believe to this day, he should have one for -- yes, even over the eventual winner, Russell Crowe for "Gladiator".
Who Will Win: Firth
Who Should Win: Firth
The only one that I feel could have challenged Firth was Ryan Gosling for "Blue Valentine", yet the Academy itself didn't feel fit to serve him with the nomination, so there is no real competition here.
Best Film Editing
"The King's Speech"
"The Social Network"
Two films that deserved to be nominated in this catagory were ruefully neglected in this catagory: the bold and daring Inception, and the imaginative and playfully fantastic Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. So that most likely leaves room for the eventual Best Picture winner.
Usually for the Academy, the Best Film Editing award goes hand in hand with the winner of the Best Picture prize, so if The King's Speech wins in this catagory, be sure for its producers to be taking home the big prize.
Who Will Win: The King's Speech
Who Should Win: Black Swan
Watching Natalie Portman's character slowly slip into madness couldn't be made anymore terrifying than what the editors did in this film. With help from the cinematographer, the quick jump cuts on stage near the end where Nina spins around on stage until she fully transforms into the Black Swan is truly mesmerizing.
Best Adapted Screenplay
"The Social Network"
"Toy Story 3"
Although all five scripts start us out on amazing journeys, there really is no competition in this category. Aaron Sorkin's veteran hand on this script draws you in at the very beginning with its talkative wordplay between Jesse Eisenberg and Rooney Mara's characters, and from there on in, never lets you go. The script is air-tight and so self-assured, it's amazing how well the young actors can keep up with it.
Who Will Win: The Social Network
Who Should Win: The Social Network
Best Original Screenplay
"The Kids Are All Right"
"The King's Speech"
For The Fighter and The Kids Are All Right, the screenplays begin intriguing storylines that are brought to life by superior actors, but are they the best written of the year? Not in my opinion.
The King's Speech is a spectacularly well-written film that gives the viewer a bit of a history lesson, as well as one of the feel good films of the year.
Another Year is Mike Leigh's fifth Academy Award nominated screenplay, which goes to show you how talented this writer/director is. His attention to human emotion and carefully drawn out and complex characters make this film one of his better films. But it will be hard for him this year against one of the most intriguing, mind-tripping films in recent years.
Who Will Win: This is a hard one, because The King's Speech is on a train that's plowing through all its competition, but because of his unjust ommision from the Best Director category, voters may reward Christopher Nolan and his Inception script a consolation prize in this category for his highly original screenplay and imaginative introduction into a new world of filmmaking...
Who Should Win: Inception
Inception may have enlightened as well as confused many viewers in theaters, but one thing remains clear, Nolan has been taking us on rides of excitement and pure thrills for several years with his creative storytelling, and this film is no different. He deserves the Academy Award for this category, no ifs, ands, or buts.
Best Animated Feature
"How to Train Your Dragon"
"Toy Story 3"
There's really no dispute that Toy Story 3 will win, but if I voted for the winner...
Who Will Win: Toy Story 3
Who Should Win: The Illusionist
With just three films in this category, the majority of voters are going to vote for the most acclaimed (and highest grossing) film of 2010, Toy Story 3. But for me, I would be in the minority because I am one of the few that would rate the other two films higher.
And don't get me wrong, I'm not dismissing this film as not being good -- I really enjoyed TS3, and had it in my top 20 list. But I'm not one for sequels, especially when they exceed Part 2. Because after a certain number, they all start to feel the same...in other words, they all begin to look and feel repetetive. And one of the main reasons they will give the Oscar to this film is because the first Toy Story, which is the best of the trilogy, was not nominated because there was no category in 1995 for Best Animated film.
I was all for voting for How to Train Your Dragon, but that was before I saw The Illusionist, a film of old-school animation that also wears its heart on its sleeve -- there is no question in my mind that this deserves the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Darren Aronofsky -- Black Swan
David O. Russell -- The Fighter
Tom Hooper -- The King's Speech
David Fincher -- The Social Network
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen -- True Grit
For several months, this was once a battle between Christopher Nolan and David Fincher. But because Nolan was left out of this race, it soon became an unquestionable battle between Fincher and Aronofsky.
But things once again changed at this year's Director's Guild Awards, when Hooper took home the prize in a surprise upset. Now, this has turned into a real race to the finish line.
Who Will Win: Hooper
Who Should Win: Fincher
Fincher has proven himself a master at his craft (early in career, his "Vogue" video for Madonna once again re-invented the singers career), and set in motion his move to the big screen with such inventive, eye-popping, mind-f**king pop-cultural phenomenoms such as "Se7en", "Fight Club", "The Game", and "Zodiac".
And with his highly-involving, talkative "The Social Network", he keeps his cast tight and brings out the best acting of all involved (he even directed Jesse Eisenberg, the kid from "Zombieland" to an Oscar nomination!).
"The Kids Are All Right"
"The King's Speech"
"The Social Network"
"Toy Story 3"
And now for the big award....
Of all the films I've seen in this category, the most overrated are The Fighter and True Grit, and in my opinion, I would never have voted for those films to be nominees for Best Picture in the first place.
The Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours, and Winter's Bone are all great films, two of which made my top 10 list, but they are missing the ever important nominee for Best Director, so that easily slims their chances.
Toy Story 3 has a lock on the Best Animated Feature award, so that cancels this film out in this category.
So that leaves us with a four-way battle for the coveted top honor, all of which introduce us to people who find it too hard to relate to others outside their own, secluded worlds.
Where Black Swan took us through a nightmarish world inside the mind of a troubled, perfectionist ballerina, and The Social Network introduced us to the life of a young genius too smart for his own good, The King's Speech related us to a reluctant and insecure King with a speech impediment.
But of all the films I've seen this year (not counting Niels Arden Oplev's masterpiece, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), only one has introduced me to one of the most original, intriguing, and intelligent storylines, and has had the power to provoke the endless possibilities of where our imaginations can take us.
Who Will Win: The King's Speech
Who Should Win: Inception
What a year 2010 had been! A couple of months ago, somebody wrote on their RT blog that this had not been a great year in movies. And in those first couple of months, it wasn't.
The first major release of the new year just so happened to be The Wolfman, a film starring two well-respected thespians and award winning actors (Hopkins and Del Toro). It even had a good cast of supporting players (Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving, Geraldine Chaplin, Rick Baker). But alas, what a mess of a production it turned out to be -- the lame CGI effects, the plot-holed filled script, and the embarrassing battle of wills (and wolves) at the film's climax -- even the two leads seemed to have lost interest halfway through the film.
But the following week saw the release of Martin Scorsese's much anticipated surreal thriller, Shutter Island. Adapted from Dennis Lehane's 2003 novel and boasting an all-star cast, "Island" was released to a flurry of love it or hate it reviews and although I didn't hate it, I was still in disbelief at how some people were calling it a "masterpiece" and that they hoped that it would be remembered during awards season.
Yes, Shutter Island could at times, radiate Scorsese's typical style and visual flair. But it tried to offset its predictability with too many uncalled for special effects and too many twists and turns that proved other-wise annoying. Thirty minutes into the movie, I had it figured out, and I hoped (no, prayed) I was wrong and that it wouldn't have another one of "those" movies (Identity, The Machinist, Vanilla Sky, Fight Club, A Beautiful Mind, and Jacob's Ladder all come to mind).
Well, it WAS another one of "those" movies, and I'm sad to say that other than the acting, "Island" as a film was a major letdown, and movies of this genre have been done so much better, and by other less experienced writers and directors.
After that major disappointment, I really had no other films to look forward to, other than Christopher Nolan's Inception, Toy Story 3, and of another hotly anticipated 3D spectacle, Clash of the Titans (the last one proving to be so hackneyed with B-movie blandness, even the 3D effects fooled many and proved embarrassing and almost put an end to what James Cameron succeeded in with Avatar).
So I knew I had to keep a lookout for the under-the-radar movies...the art-house films that mainstream audiences tend to dismiss in favor for big-name, big-budget blockbuster extravaganzas. And after doubling my attendance at my local art-house theater, that is where I hit pay-dirt.
Movies such as "That Evening Sun", "Please Give", "Youth in Revolt", "Winter's Bone", "The Maid", "The Kids Are All Right", "Mother", "Tamara Drewe", "Animal Kingdom" and "The Girl Who Played With Fire" showed off what major family dysfunction is.
Saw great documentaries in "Casino Jack and the United States of Money", "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work", "Countdown To Zero", "The Tillman Story", "Exit Through The Gift Shop", "Waiting For Superman", "Cool It", "Restrepo", "Inside Job" and "A Film Unfinished".
"Harry Brown", "Terribly Happy", "Machete", "Kick-Ass", "Salt", "The Good, The Bad, The Weird", "The American", "Red Hill" and "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest" showed why revenge movies are my favorite genre.
"The Secret in Their Eyes" was finally released in the United States and proved why it deserved to win the 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The "Red Riding Trilogy" (which co-stars a young actor named Andrew Garfield) as well as "The Millennium Trilogy" (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest) also get released nationally in the United States.
"Buried" and "127 Hours" showcased one tour-de-forces and also proved that Ryan Reynolds, James Franco and Zack Galifianakas ("It's Kind of a Funny Story) can really act.
Highlighted the war abroad ("Lebanon") and at home ("The Dry Land").
Now here is just a fraction of all the movies I've seen this year, and all the categories they fall under -- and yes, I've seen all of these movies, and YES, 2010 WAS a great year in movies!
Most Underrated -- "The Crazies", "The A-Team", "Get Him To The Greek", "The Book of Eli", "Edge of Darkness", "Knight and Day", "The American", "The Dry Land", "Tamara Drewe", "The Runaways" and "Micmacs",
Most Overrated -- "Alice in Wonderland", "Iron Man 2", "The Karate Kid", "Green Zone", "Unstoppable", "The Town", "The Fighter", True Grit", and yes, "Shutter Island".
The Surprises -- "How To Train Your Dragon", "Winter's Bone", "Harry Brown", "The Other Guys", "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World", "Get Low", "Buried", "It's Kind of a Funny Story", "Splice", "La Mission", "Shrek Forever After" and "I Love You Phillip Morris".
Guilty Pleasures -- "Legion", "MacGruber", "The Runaways", "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "The Last Airbender".
The Disappointments -- "Clash of the Titans", "Robin Hood", "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time", "Valentine's Day", "Predators", "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps", "Hereafter", "Never Let Me Go".
On The Fence About -- "Our Family Wedding", "I Am Love", "Chloe", "Date Night", "Cyrus", "Saint John of Las Vegas", "Death at a Funeral", "The Last Song", "Solitary Man", "My Son, What Have Ye Done?", "The Killer Inside Me", "Stone", "Convicted", "Welcome To The Rileys", "The Best Worst Movie", "Dinner For Schmucks", "I'm Still Here".
Just Plain Bad -- "The Wolfman", "The Backup Plan", "A Nightmare on Elm Street", "The Expendables", "Cop Out", "Skyline", "Grown Ups", "Vampires Sucks".
Best Poignant Moment -- When Hiccup first touches "Toothless" in How to Train Your Dragon".
Worst Poignant Moment -- (tie) When Ben (Solitary Man) and Clive (Splice) try to "comfort" their soon-to-be-adopted daughters.
Epic Hit -- "Inception".
Epic Miss -- "Brooklyn's Finest".
Best Crispin Glover Cameo -- "Hot Tub Time Machine".
Worst Crispin Glover Cameo -- "Alice in Wonderland".
Epic Miss 2 -- "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse".
Worst "A-Team" Knock-off -- "The Losers".
Best "A-Team" Knock-off - "The A-Team".
Best Acting (Male) -- John Hawkes (Winter's Bone); Ewan McGregor ("The Ghost Writer", "I Love You Phillip Morris"); Michael Caine (Harry Brown); Ben Stiller and Rhys Ifans (Greenberg); Michael Nyqvist (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo); Guillermo Francella (The Secret In Their Eyes); Oliver Platt (Please Give), Hal Holbrook and Ray McKinnon (That Evening Sun); Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Chris Evans (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World); Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right); Robert Duval, Bill Murray and Lucas Black (Get Low); George Clooney (The American); Jeremy Renner (The Town); Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer and Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network); Ryan Reynolds (Buried); Zack Galifianakas and Keir Gilchrist (It's Kind of a Funny Story); James Franco (127 Hourst); Christian Bale (The Fighter); Matt Damon (True Grit); Jim Carrey (I Love You Phillip Morris); Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech).
Best Use of a Classic Rock Song -- David Bowie and Queen's Under Pressure (It's Kind of a Funny Story").
Worst Use of a Classic Rock Song -- Guns n' Roses' Paradise City ("The Expendables").
Worst Take on Greek Mythology -- "Clash of the Titans".
A Somewhat Better Take on Greek Mythology -- "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief".
Best Use of a Classic Rock Song 2 -- The Rolling Stones' Sympathy for the Devil ("Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps").
Best Acting (Female) -- Tilda Swinton (I Am Love); Noomi Rapace (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo); Melissa Leo (The Fighter, Convicted, Welcome to the Rileys, and The Dry Land); Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis (Black Swan); Milla Jovovich (Stone); Olivia Williams and Kim Cattrall (The Ghost Writer); Mia Wasikowska (That Evening Sun, Alice in Wonderland and The Kids Are All Right); Hye-ja Kim (Mother); Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass); Catherine Keener (Please Give); Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone); Julianne Moore and Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right); Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom); Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit).
And now here is my top ten list for the movies that I feel are the Best Films of 2010, with number one being what I feel is the Best Picture of the Year:
10. 127 Hours -- Danny Boyle's adaptation of the true life or death ordeal of Aron Ralston, a young hiker and adventurer trappd inside a canyon between a rock and a....oh, you know the rest. Boyle's kinetic camera style (I'd accuse him of having ADHD if he wasn't such a great filmmaker) combined with James Franco's bravura performance (if Freaks and Geeks, his awesome James Dean biopic, or Spiderman haven't put him over the top yet, then this is the film that should), and with an ending that makes you squirm in your seat as well as bring tears to your eyes, this definitely is one of the best films of the year.
9. The Kids Are All Right -- Award-worthy performances from Mark Ruffalo, Annette Bening (who might finally get her sought after Academy Award) and Julianne Moore (whom I'd rather see get the Oscar) highlight this story of a same-sex couple, their children, and the sperm-donor father who unwittingly gets involved in their lives. It's funny as well as heartbreaking when sex gets involved in the mix.
8. The Ghost Writer -- Roman Polanski's tale of a would-be novelist who is asked to liven up a former Prime Minister's rather jumbled and uneventful memoirs. "Writer" is a slow burning mix of dark humor, political intrigue, murder mystery, and with a final scene that is classic Polanski.
7. How To Train Your Dragon -- Amusing and very entertaining tale of a young Viking named "Hiccup" and the friendship he strikes up with a legendary dragon -- a dragon that just so happens to be a much feared "enemy" of his village. Engaging, funny, and also succeeds in its 3D visuals where most others have failed this year.
6. Black Swan -- Darren Aronofsky once again takes us on what seems like another dreamlike trip (or is it a nightmare?). But this time, in the world of ballet. With the bluntness of The Wrestler, and all the drug-induced surreality of Requiem For a Dream, we get lost in his story of a woman who after years of striving for perfection, finally gets pushed over the edge after landing her dream role. Natalie Portman, Barbara Hershey and Mila Kunis are all at the top of their game in this hypnotic version of the All About Eve storyline.
5. The Secret In Their Eyes -- A darkhorse and surprise winner for 2009's Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, "Eyes" finally got a limited release in the United States in 2010, and the film made such an impact artistically, there was no way I was going to ignore it this year. The Secret in Their Eyes follows the unrequited romance between a former federal agent and would-be-novelist working on his first novel, and the female Judge whose ethical problems working on a old murder case kept them apart for so many years. Excellent acting from the cast, especially from Guillermo Francella as the alcoholic but very loyal Sandoval, make this a must-see film for any cinephile. And keep a lookout for an amazing tracking sequence that starts out high above a soccer stadium and ends out on the playing field.
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World -- The second biggenst surprise of the year for me, Scott Pilgrim just plain blew me out of my seat visually and was also a nostalgic trip for those of us who grew up in the 1980s (the Atari-like graphic effects that open the film caught me off guard). Directed with such excitement and manic energy by Edgar Wright (of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame), the stellar cast takes this film to new heights and I could only hope this film gets a Best Picture Academy Award nomination (yes, I am THAT big a fan of this movie!), and at the very least takes home an award for its colorful and amusing comic book-like film editing.
3. The Social Network -- The best adapted screenplay of the year, Aaron Sorkin's tight, intellingent and quick paced script, combined with David Fincher's mature direction -- I knew he could handle movies involving serial killers (Se7en, Zodiac), twisted mind-f**ks (The Game, Fight Club) and films of visual style and splendor (Panic Room, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), but to tackle a topic about the founder(s) of an internet sensation? -- makes for an engaging and entertaining character study that brings out the best acting for everyone involved. Certainly a film for this generation the way Easy Rider was for the '60s, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest was for the rebellion of the 70's, and Wall Street was for the Baby Boomers of the 80's.
2. Inception - Of all the remakes, reruns, re-imaginings, and rehashes of the past several years, finally one of those original ideas that shake the creativity of modern cinema. Christopher Nolan follows up his record-breaking The Dark Knight with another film of such unique vision, I choose this as the Best Original Screenplay of the Year. Yes, last year's Avatar also changed the way we look at cinema with its astounding and ground-breaking visuals, but where it failed in its storyline, Inception takes over in its profound storytelling method and we're still left asking, Jake Sully may have awakened a changed person on Pandora, but was Cobb ever really awake at all?
1. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo -- This Swedish film was released overseas back in 2009, but didn't get it's national release in the United States until the spring of 2010, and I still say that this is the Best Picture of the Year. Based on the first novel in Steig Larrson's Millennium Trilogy, we follow the exploits of controversial journalist Mikael Blomkvist as he is hired to find an heiress missing for 40 years, and the brilliant young computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander who helps him. As they dig deeper into the disappearance, they uncover sordid family secrets and how the young heiress' disappearance may be linked to a possible serial killer. A welcomed hit of adrenaline to the murder mystery genre and boasting expert direction and a strong cast led by Noomi Rapace as the young Salander, "Dragon Tattoo" remains superior to its two sequels, and can be looked upon as a stand-alone film in the trilogy, as well as any other film of the year.
Other notelworthy films: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work; The Kings Speech; Winter's Bone; Toy Story 3; Inside Job; Buried; It's Kind of a Funny Story; Mother; Edge of Darkness; Greenberg; Red Hill; The American; The Tillman Story; Get Low: Restrepo; Please Give; Coutdown To Zero; The Good, The Bad, The Weird; Fair Game; A Film Unfinished; Get Him to the Greek; Waiting for Superman.
When it comes to the Golden Globes, I'm usually not the best predictor at them. It's not like the Academy Awards, which I've studied every year for the past 23 years. But if it's one thing I've learned from the Hollywood Foreign Press, it's that they love to nominate critically acclaimed as well as mainstream, mediocre fare. And that's one thing that I both like and dislike about this particular annual awards show: sure, it's a great thing that more films and actors and actresses have a better chance at getting nominated and possibly even winning, but they are usually not the ones that deserve to get nominated.
Back in 2001,although it was an amusing film, did "Legally Blonde" really deserve to get nominated for best picture musical/comedy over, say, "Ghost World" or "Monster's Inc."?
In 1998, did "The Mask of Zorro" and "Patch Adams" deserve to get nominated in the same category over "Rushmore" or "Little Voice"?
I'd like to overlook those little blunders, but it happened again during this year's Golden Globe nominations, as I will explain as I give my predictions as to who will win at this year's Hollywood Foreign Press Awards.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams - The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter - The King's Speech
Mila Kunis - Black Swan
Melissa Leo - The Fighter
Jacki Weaver - Animal Kingdom
Some pretty good picks in this catagory but....
I'm still at a loss at why Amy Adams is getting such rave reviews for her performance in The Fighter. Her portrayal as the tough-as-nails girlfriend of boxer Mickey Ward rang false with me because her acting appeared borderline over-the-top for a film that showcased such other great performances.
As for Helena Bonham Carter's performance, I don't feel she was granted enough screen time to really showcase her talents and once again, her role was overshadowed by other much better performances.
Now for me, I think this category is really between Jacki Weaver and Melissa Leo. Weaver's performance as the matriarch of an Australian crime family was both human and chilling as she was willing to have a family member murdered in order to save the rest of the family -- Michael Corleone anyone?
And Leo's performance as the chain-smoking mother of two boxers -- one of who's on the verge of stardom while the other's a washed up crack-addict -- showcased her ability to take command of her screen time, all while overshadowing the talents of another great actor -- Christian Bale.
As for me, I'd vote for Weaver to win in this catagory, but I feel the person who's going to get the award is Mila Kunis.
The Globes are notorious for handing out the award in this category to young actresses who show strong potential to land Academy Award nominations, even when they do or don't deserve it (see Angelina Jolie's Golden Globe win in this category for 1999's "Girl, Interrupted", Kate Hudson's Globe win for 2000's "Almost Famous", and even Natalie Portman's surprise Globe win for 2004's "Closer").
Kunis does a great job of playing a ballerina who may or may not have an ulterior motive for befriending the lead ballerina in "Black Swan", but we never find that out as this is a film that has only one commanding performance, and that performance is from Portman.
Sidenote: I really would like to have seen Hailee Steinfeld nominated for her wise-beyond-years performance in "True Grit".
Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale - The Fighter
Andrew Garfield - The Social Network
Jeremy Renner - The Town
Jeffrey Rush - The King's Speech
Michael Douglas - Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
In this category, I feel that almost all of the nominees are worthy of the nomination, except for one -- Michael Douglas' performance in "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" wasn't as infectious, exciting or as up to par as the original "Wall Street". And how could it be? He set a new standard at the time for being a smooth, slick, and weasely businessman. I know I may sound like I'm being a little too hard on Douglas because of the health problems he's having off-screen, but that's why this is more of an honorary nomination than anything else.
Besides, he did a more impressive job earlier this year as a man who gives up everything in order to chase down all of his carnal fantasies in the already forgotten "Solitary Man".
The person that should've gotten the nomination instead is John Hawkes as the drug addicted uncle in "Winter's Bone". He plays his conflicted character as a mixture of anger, loyalty, recklessness and empathy, all while reluctantly helping his niece search for her missing father.
A special mention from me would have to go out to Zack Galifianakas for his unusual turn as a self-admitted psychiatric patient in "It's Kind of a funny Story". Galifianakas starts off his role with his usual comedic schtick. But as the movie progresses, you get the sense that his role has a deeper meaning and that he's holding a sickness that may or may not work out for his character.
And both Renner, as the paranoid and violent Southie with a chip on his shoulder and Rush as the calm and mild-mannered speech therapist/wannabe theater actor (two very different characters) are both worthy of their nominations, but they're up against some stiff competition in the form of Garfield and Bale.
For me, I'd vote for Garfield. His portrayal of the trusting and in the end, betrayed Eduardo caught me off guard as his range of emotions are limited up until the very end, when he confronts Eisenberg's Mark Zuckerberg in the Facebook headquarters over his loss of percentages in the social network's stocks. The expression of betrayal on his face and anger in his words catapulted him up to a much deserved nomination, even above the magnificent Armie Hammer as the Winklevoss twins, another actor who should be remembered come Oscar nominations.
Yet the person who's going to take this award and who is sure to take home the Academy Award is going to have to be Bale. His performance as the crack-addicted Dicky Eklund is typical Bale, and I mean that in a good way. His immersion into this role, as well as any other role (most notably "The Machinist", "Rescue Dawn", "American Psycho", and "Harsh Times") is impressive, as well as all the calculated twitches, mannerisms and speech patterns he brings to the role of a man who cannot control his dark impulses.
Bale has been overlooked for far too long (in Hollywood's terms) and his loss would be considered an upset and would leave the field wide open. In other words, his victory here is pretty much assured.
Another sidenote: What happened to Matt Damon's nomination for "True Grit" as the duty-driven Texas Ranger?
Best Actor (Comedy)
Kevin Spacey - Casino Jack
Jake Gyllenhaal - Love and Other Drugs
Johnny Depp - Alice in Wonderland
Johnny Depp - The Tourist
Paul Giamatti - Barney's Version
Really? This one I can't even begin to predict. Embarrassingly, Depp, like Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey at the MTV Movie Awards, is becoming an automatic go-to guy when it comes to the yearly nominations, even when they don't deserve to be nominated. Is "The Tourist" really a comedy? And Depp's performance in "Alice in Wonderland" is to me, an attempt, and a failure, at doing something original with a classic character, just like his creepy attempt in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".
What happened to a nomination for Ben Stiller for "Greenberg" (which is technically a comedy, albeit a painful comedy). Or Michael Cera's long-deserved nomination for either his performance in the dark humored "Youth In Revolt" or the visually exciting "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World"?
Mark Ruffalo for "The Kids Are All Right"? Robert Duvall for "Get Low"? Keir Gilchrist for "It's Kind of a Funny Story"? Jonah Hill for "Get Him To The Greek" or "Cyrus" (then again, maybe those are supporting performances). Will Ferrell or Mark Wahlberg for "The Other Guys"? Jim Carrey for "I Love You Phillip Morris"? Bruce Willis for "RED" or Edward Norton for "Leaves of Grass"?
There were just too many other names to ignore other than the ones officially nominated in this category.
In the end, it just might go to Spacey, in a role showcasing what he likes to do best -- go over-the-top, especially in impersonating other actors (see any of his SNL skits).
His hilarious "You'e out of order!" impersonation of Al Pacino is what caught my eye.
Best Actress (Comedy)
Annette Benning - The Kids Are All Right
Anne Hathaway - Love and Other Drugs
Angelina Jolie - The Tourist
Emma Stone - Easy A
Julianne Moore - The Kids Are All Right
In this category, I'm not even counting Jolie, who has done so many other better roles, so it's between either Benning (who will probably win) or Moore (who I feel deserves to win). In the event that they cancel each other out, the award may go to an undeserving Hathaway, or Stone (a somewhat impressive performance which kind of reminded me of Lindsay Lohan's performance in "Mean Girls", and is a surprise nomination) in the event of an upset.
Best Actor (Drama)
Jesse Eisenberg - The Social Network
Colin Firth - The King's Speech
James Franco - 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling - Blue Valentine'
Mark Wahlberg - The Fighter
Wow, a really impressive list of nominess here. Could it go to Eisenberg for his calculating performance of a character you love to hate? Franco for his inspiring turn as a man trapped in a canyon? Wahlberg for a movie and role he struggled to get made for five years?
Gosling is a surprise nominee, but after watching his film, man, does he do a great job. If I were voting, it would be between him and Firth. Gosling does such a great job of portraying a man so content with his life, yet so protective and in love with his wife, you ache for him when his own spouse begins to reject him and in the end, reveals her true feelings about how she feels about him. Truly heartbreaking.
It's a close call between these two, but I'm choosing veteran actor Firth for his role as the stammering King George VI. After decades of playing supporting characters in major films ("The English Patient", "Shakespeare in Love", and "Love Actually"), Firth finally was taken notice with a nomination in last year's "A Single Man". And although he was up against some tough competition for his performance in that film, this year's astounding performance and nomination has sprung him to the top of the heap in this category.
Best Actress (Drama)
Halle Berry - Frankie and Alice
Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone
Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine
Natalie Portman - Black Swan
Berry is the surprise nomination here in a movie I don't think a majority of people have even heard of. Could she win? It's a possibility. Will she win? Highly doubtful.
Williams does a great job of portraying a wife conflicted over her feelings for her husband and the life she's living. And believe me, although she deserves this nomination, this role almost -- and I do me "almost"-- feels like the role she had in Brokeback Mountain.
Kidman has already proven that she can act, and has an Academy Award to prove it. She does such a great job here, her role as a grieving mother doesn't even require her need to talk -- the look on her face expresses the feelings she's hiding within her and her breakdown at the end is strong enough to warrant a nomintion from this actress.
But all bets are on Portman to win. And I hope she does. The only person I can think of that would upset this is a career-defining performance from a young Lawrence.
And even another sidenote: I really hope when the Oscar nominations are released, Tilda Swinton is remembered for her heart-tugging performance in "I Am Love".
The Social Network
The Kid's Are All Right
The King's Speech
Of all these films, and for any film this year for that matter, my two favorite screenplays are Inception (original) and The Social Network (adapted). But since they are all rounded up in one category for the Golden Globes, I'd vote for Inception, but The Social Network has the overall advantage, so that is the one to bet on.
David Fincher - The Social Network
Darren Aronofsky - Black Swan
Tom Hooper - The King's Speech
Christopher Nolan - Inception
David O. Russell - The Fighter
This is almost a hard one to pick. Much of the critical community are behind Aronofsky, but much of the public are behind favorites Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Nolan (Momento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight).
Hooper directed one of my favorite films of last year (The Damned United), but much of mainstream america may not be familiar with him.
Russell has been around for a while, and even directed some critical favorites (Spanking the Monkey, Flirting With Disaster, Three Kings), and had some hits, that is until word spread of his temper and feuds with the likes of George Clooney on the set of "Kings" and his caught-on-video rant on the set of "I Heart Huckabees" as he viciously argued with Lily Tomlin and called her the "C" word.
It took time for his career to get back on track, but he finally has gotten a nomination for "The Fighter". But I think that's all he's getting.
For me, it's between Aronofsky and Nolan (whom I'd vote for).
But with all the acclaim "The Social Network" is getting, and the fact that he's come a long way from directing Madonna videos, Fincher is sure to take it.
Best Picture (Comedy/Musical)
Alice in Wonderland
The Kids Are All Right
Really? I mean, really? The Tim Burton (I used to like him -- used to like him) fright-fest called Alice In Wonderland? The blink and you'll miss it in theaters musical called Burlesque? The is it a really comedy? movie called The Tourist?
I liked RED, but was it funnier than The Other Guys? Or better than Greenberg, Please Give, Get Low, It's Kind of a Funny Story, or one of my favorite films of this year, the hilarious, and at times exciting visual feast called Scott Pilgrim vs. The World?
Without any real competition, the only film I see taking this category also just so happens to be one of my favorite films of the year, and that's The Kids Are All Right.
Best Picture (Drama)
The King's Speech
The Social Network
I'm going to start off by marking off The King's Speech. Yes, this is a unique, and very uplifting movie, and yes, it is a great film. But how many times is it that you see a British film sweeping the Globes, other than in the acting catagories.
Besides, Firth is practically a shoo-in in his acting category.
So it's pretty much a three-way battle among Black Swan, Inception, and The Social Network. And believe me, this is a hard one for me to pick. "Swan" is a near-masterpiece, while "Network" is a character study of the first order, a film that sucked me in with its intriguing storyline, easy flowing vocabulary, believable acting, interesting characters, and first-rate directing. And with all the reruns, remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, and rehashes, Inception is a welcomed return to the world of original ideas and original filmmaking.
The last two movies are grand films with grand themes and grand ideas and unique visions of how we see life, the world, and how we live it.
If I voted for the best film of the bunch, I'd vote for Inception. But the film that's going to take it is The Social Network.
It's been six months since the start of 2010, and although I haven't run into too many films worthy of enduring and possibly, being listed in many critics' year-end Top Ten lists -- save for a few -- of all the unremarkable films I've seen all year, the ones that did stand out (and that's saying a lot), those are the films that should be remembered come the start of 2011.
Yet, we still have another 6 months to go, and most typically, that's the time when possible Academy Award contenders (and winners) are released -- for many people, the last couple of months of the year are when the best films are due out.
As for me, I've seen too many films and performances this year, good and bad, to keep my mouth shut about, especially the ones that have been flying underneath many cinephiles' radar. So along with my list of memorable roles in films, I will also include my Top 5 films released so far this year:
Michael Caine (Harry Brown)
Jakob Cedergren (Terribly Happy)
[B][B][B][B] [B] [/B][/B][/B][/B][/B]Leonardo DiCaprio (Shutter Island)
Hal Holbrook (That Evening Sun)
Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer)
Ben Stiller (Greenberg)
Although Harry Brown may come off as just another revenge-fantasy film, albeit a very satisfying revenge-fantasy film, it's Caine who keeps this film grounded as an elder Brit who is pushed over the edge after struggling to cope with a society decaying around him.
The tale of a big city policeman sent to work in a small town in Denmark -- Cedergren gives a strong performance as hischaracter tries to live down a mistake from his past, all while trying to understand the strange customs and behavior of his new surroundings, but soon discovers that the townsfolk also have something to hide.
DiCaprio is perhaps the best, and most emotionally unbalanced character in Scorsese's stylish, yet overrated film of U.S. Marshals sent to investigate the disappearance of a female inmate.
After his bravura Oscar-nominated turn in Into the Wild, Holbrook once again turns in another great performance as a elderly man who returns to his abandoned home to find it being rented out by his son to an unstable family. His efforts to chase the family out is troubling as well as heartbreaking.
McGregor turn as a writer tapped to rewrite a British Prime Minister's memoirs is his most mature role to date, and is fascinating to watch as he unwittingly puts himself in danger while trying to embellish the author's boring novel.
And finally, Stiller as the title character in Greenberg gives a darkly comic turn as a man recovering from a nervous breakdown, is both entertaining as well as infuriating.
Best Actress [U][U]
[/U][/U]Greta Gerwig (Greenberg)[U][U]
[/U][/U]Catherine Keener (Please Give)
Hye-ja Kim (Mother)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone)
Julianne Moore (Chloe)
Noomi Rapace (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Kristin Stewart (The Runaways)
Tilda Swinton (I Am Love)
Gerwig gives a star-making turn as Greenberg's love interest. Her character is trusting as well as confused as she tries to connect with the bi-polar Greenberg.
Keener gives an amusing performance as a woman who discovers that no matter how much she tries to help the homeless, she can't help but feel more selfish towards her family.
Kim stars as the Mother of the story, a woman who will do anything to prove that her son was framed for murder....including doing some law-breaking herself.
Lawrence is another young woman who gives a star-making performance as a teenager doing everything in her power to save her farm from foreclosure as she searches for her bail-jumping father.
Not the strongest of all the possible nominees, yet Moore still gives it her all as a wife and mother who herself is consumed by passion after she suspects infidelity by her husband.
Rapace stars as the title character, a young woman of high intelligence as well as street smarts who gets involved in a 40 year-old mystery -- her scarred persona and mysterious background is one of the most exciting things about this film.
And if Stewart can ever get passed the blinding mediocrity that is the Twilight Saga, at least her role in The Runaways proves that this girl has some talent.
And in one of the strongest performances (and after Rapace, my favorite) on the list, Swinton gives a restrained, yet intense portrayal of a wife/mother who gets involved with her son's best friend which leads to....you guessed it, tragedy. Visually beautiful, with the otherwise mundane I Am Love, Swinton is the best thing about the film.
Best Supporting Actor
John Hawkes (Winter's Bone)
Danny Huston (Robin Hood)
Rhys Ifans (Greenberg)
Ray McKinnon (That Evening Sun)
Alfred Molina (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time)
Michael Shannon (The Runaways)
Max Von Sydow (Shutter Island)
Hawkes is perhaps the strongest candidate of all these possible contenders. His drug-fueled character is a mixture of loyalty, anger, recklessness and empathy, as he unexpectedly helps his niece look her father.
Huston is one of the great character actors living today, and from the two performances he gives this year ([I]Edge of Darkness [/I]being another role), I'm going with Robin Hood -- it's a short but sweet (and over-the-top role), and Huston is clearly having fun with it.
Ifans gives a memorable performance as the title character's best friend, and one of the few links to Greenberg's past, and what might have been.
As the down-on-his-luck alcoholic, McKinnon is notable as the farmer desperately trying to keep from losing his rented home to the vengeful owner.
Another great character actor, Molina hams it up, and is perhaps the best thing about an otherwise lifeless Prince of Persia.
An over-the-top character (or is it?), an equally over-the-top performance from Shannon adds to the eye-opening acting of a hit-and-miss biography of one of the first all-girl bands in rock music.
It's a toss-up between Ben Kingsley and Sydow, but I'm giving it to Sydow because it doesn't look like he's trying very hard to intimidate the U.S. Marshall's visiting his institution. But that's what makes his character that much more frightening.
[U][B]Best Supporting Actress
[/U][/B]Kim Cattrall (The Ghost Writer)
Patricia Clarkson (Shutter Island)
Ann Morgan Guilbert (Please Give)
Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass)
Mia Wasikowska (That Evening Sun)
Although many people may take for granted that she will forever be associated with the dirty blond sex-pot of Sex and the City, Cattrall proves in The Ghost Writer that she can really act when given the right role.
With such a small role, Clarkson shows how talented she is in one of the shining moments on Shutter Island.
Not many people will remember Guilbert, who was one of the original cast members of the Dick Van Dyke Show, but her turn as the elderly tenant who refuses to give up her apartment shows how funny this lady can still be.
Let's face it, whether people love or hated Kick-Ass, there is one thing that most people can agree on -- that Moretz stole every scene she was in as the foul-mouthed, hyper-violent vigilante in one of the most memorable roles of the year.
Wasikowska may be remembered for this year's Alice in Wonderland, but it was her role in That Evening Sun that showed that she doesn't need 3D or special effects to prove that she can hold a scene all to herself.
My Top Five Films So Far This Year
5. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work -- This "year-in-the-life follows" Rivers from 1950's groundbreaking female comic and rising star, to her meteoric fall after declining as permanent guest host of The Tonight Show, to face-lift punchline, to her recently competing in Donald Trump's The Apprentice -- this documentary is as funny as it is sad as we watch Rivers struggling to survive and keep her calender filled.
4. How To Train Your Dragon -- I know people are going to want to know why I picked this over Toy Story 3D, which is in itself, entertaining and close to greatness, but after enjoying the revolutionary first Toy Story, it's rare for me to enjoy sequels without them feeling to an extent, repetitious -- especially when the 3D isn't all it's supposed to be. But with How To Train Your Dragon, not all, but much of the 3D flying sequences are, in a word, breathtaking. And that's not including the rich characterizations and storyline. For me, this is the best animated film of the year.
3. The Ghost Writer -- the tale of a ghost writer, played by McGregor, brought in to liven up a British Prime Minister's memoirs, only to find cover-ups, CIA operatives and numerous assassination attempts, this film comes close to classic 70's espionage cinema -- and with an ending that is classic Polanski.
2. The Secret In Their Eyes -- 2009's Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film, Juan Jose Campanella's intriguing, and at times, exciting film didn't even get a much wider release until the middle of 2010. And if I had gotten to see this film anytime last year, it would have made it onto my list of top films of the year. Therefore, I'm putting it on this list of the best films of the 2010.
1. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo -- Fantastic, truly mesmerizing, and the best film I've seen so far this year, this "Girl" is a welcomed shot of adrenaline to the murder mystery genre -- my mouth is already watering for the summer sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire.
For the Oscar telecast, I wasn't that disappointed, especially with hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin keeping me amused throughout (the Ben Stiller presentation was pretty funny too). But there were several things the producers could have done without (most notably, the dance numbers for Best Original Score).
As expected, The Hurt Locker prevailed with six Oscar wins -- Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Best Editing -- but the biggest surprises were the wins for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Art Direction.
With the Adapted Screenplay, Up in the Air was expected to take home this prize since winning in in this category at the National Board of Review, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Writer's Guild of America, the Broadcast Film Critics' Association, Golden Globes, and BAFTA awards. But the upset came when Precious came from out of nowhere to snag the prize, leaving Jason Reitman's hands empty.
If anybody was upset, I'm sure it was him.
I'm a technical buff when it comes to movies, so I was still surprised to see that although not capturing the Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Best Editing, how Avatar could come away with Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction?
I know you have to know where to move the camera, but for Avatar, the camera operater is filming a blue screen! Yes, actors in blue suits are moving around against a blank backdrop, but that's just it -- they were filming a blue screen (Art Direction included) with effects to be added later!
Why not nominate the colorful Up for Best Cinematography?
As for Best Actress, Sandra Bullock wasn't a surprise when she took home the Best Actress statuette for The Blind Side, even though I was hoping for a Precious uset.
Yet of all the upsets, Nine, An Education, District 9, A Serious Man, and the biggest of all, Up in the Air all went home empty-handed.
As for Avatar, although I was sure it wasn't taking home the top two awards, but for it to capture 3 is also considered a minor upset -- just not for me.
After all was said and done, I was glad to see The Hurt Locker take home so many awards (sorry Avatar fans), but even though one person wanted to convince me that Cameron's blockbuster was superior, I just couldn't (and wouldn't) buy it.
I've seen over 200 films in theaters in 2009, and I can name more than 20 films that I found better than Dances With Smurfs. And don't think I'm demeaning the movie. I found Avatar a breathtaking visual experience at the IMAX. But in rating the films I see, I take into consideration everything (direction, acting, screenplay, cinematography, editing, predictability, etc.), and this film just couldn't make my top 20.
I mean, just because a movie breaks new ground in special effects, that doesn't necessarily make it superior and the best picture of the year, because it still contains flaws that other movies don't have.
In the end, with all the great movies released this year, if The Hurt Locker wasn't even in competition, I still would have found A Serious Man, An Education, Up, Up in the Air, and Inglourious Basterds superior to Avatar.
Congratulations "Locker", your victory was well deserved.
This goes out to all my friends -- Sorry about the problems with my movie ratings!
For some reason, Rotten Tomatoes erases my ratings and it appears that I've given a movie a "zero" rating. Many of you have contacted me about this and expressed to me that you think I really hate many classic movies. Well I just want to let you all know, I really love movies and I NEVER give a movie a zero rating. If you see a rating like this, please contact me so that I can go back and re-rate the movie again, or I'll just let you know what I think about it.
Thanks again and sorry about the confusion!