Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dexter Seasons 1-4 mini-reviews and a few updates

First up, I also want to offer up some thoughts on my new favorite show, Dexter. After just recently finishing all four seasons in order to catch up, I feel like I can write up a mini-review of each season. Beware, spoilers ahoy.

Season 1 was, at the time of first seeing it, awesome. Looking back, it's easily the weakest of the four. It really serves as a great setup season to introduce us to all the characters and whatnot. My main issue with the season was a lack of any real character development for our lovable serial killer Dexter, but mostly just flashbacks and backstory instead of true forward momentum. Also, the season suffered from having a truly compelling antagonist. I felt like the revelation of Brian being the Ice Truck Killer was anti-climactic and I saw it coming a mile away the minute he was introduced into the series. I mean, come on, the killer chops up his victims with surgical precision, and this guy is an amputee doctor? Lame. Honestly, Rita's abusive ex-husband Paul was a more compelling, scary, and dangerous antagonist. I preferred the Ice Truck Killer when he was unknown. There just didn't seem to be anything at stake really, and Dexter only appeared to have a passing fancy in everything going on. Quibbles aside, as I said before, it was a good setup season, but not incredibly strong in retrospect.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Looking ahead at 2010's slate

Thank god the oscars are over. I'm going to be taking a short hiatus for a couple of weeks. However, I'll write when the mood strikes me, mostly reviews and such. Until then, I thought I'd give us a preview of the films in store for this year. As far as oscars go, nothing really sticks out right now. Most of the more well-known filmmakers are venturing into genre-fare. Scorsese already did with Shutter Island, Christopher Nolan has his sci-fi thriller Inception, Terrance Malick has Tree of Life coming up, etc. For now, I'll just put out a list of anticipated upcoming titles. What are you most looking forward to this year?

1. Inception
2. Iron Man 2
3. Green Zone
4. True Grit
5. Robin Hood
6. Toy Story 3
7. Black Swan
8. The Rum Diary
9. Howl
10. The American
11. The Social Network
12. Tree of Life
13. Blue Valentine
14. Clash of the Titans
15. I Love You Philipp Morris
16. Prince of Persia
17. The Last Airbender
18. Jonah Hex
19. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
20. Due Date
21. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

Monday, March 8, 2010

Iron Man 2 Trailer

Here it is. Can I just throw it out there that this is looking like one hell of a film, and if it's possible, even cooler than the first Iron Man.

Final Thoughts

After live-blogging the ceremony all night, I'm a little worn out. But I promised some extended thoughts on the festivities, and I'm a man of my word.

The Hurt Locker won 6 awards, Avatar took home 3, and Precious won 2. The Hurt Locker truly became the little movie that could, becoming the lowest grossing Best Picture winner of all time. I for one could not be more excited. It was the best film of the year, and my favorite film of 2009 (the last time my favorite movie won Best Picture was The Return of the King in 2004) and deserved it. Kathryn Bigelow, as expected, became the first woman to win Best Director. I can only hope she is the first of many. The film took home Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Editing, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing. Clearly, a last minute shitstorm of bad press, ugly campaigning, and dumbass moments from Nick Chartier couldn't stop the film from winning. Bravo

Avatar took Visual Effects, Cinematography, and Art Direction, which was richly deserved for creating what is, in this writer's opinion, the most beautiful and visually stunning film of all time. To me, the film itself is the reward. What Cameron did in this film is beyond words. It's a historic achievement just for getting made.

Precious expectedly won Mo'Nique a most deserving Best Supporting Actress Oscar, and an unexpected upset victory for Adapted Screenplay, causing Up in the Air to go home empty handed. Not sure I agree with it winning Adapted Screenplay, but the little trivia consolation prize is that Geoffery Fletcher is the first African American screen-writer to win an oscar.

Other highlights were the speeches from all the actors. Jeff Bridges finally has an Oscar. That had to be one of the coolest moments of the night. Between the standing ovations for him and Kathryn Bigelow, I admittedly got a little emotional. And say what you will about Sandra Bullock's win, but she delivered one of the finest oscar speeches ever. Seeing Christoph Waltz and Mo'nique get emotional was too great for words. Especially Christoph Waltz. His metaphor-laden speech was perfect, but you could see how overwhelmed he was, his hands were shaking. But when he said "Wow, Oscar and Penelope Cruz, thats and Uber-Bingo!", he was just too great. Mo'Nique about damn near broke my heart. She has given the most emotional and humble speeches. I loved that she basically stuck it to the Oscars when she said, "thank you for making it about the performance, not the politics."

That being said, the show was a disaster. I don't even know how to describe how terrible it was. From the American Idol lineup of the lead actors and actresses at the beginning, I knew it was going to be a rough ride. And boy, was it bad or what.

Neil Patrick Harris' dance number at the beginning was forced and contrived. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin just weren't funny together. A couple of the jokes worked, but the less they were on stage, the more relaxed and enjoyable the evening was. The awkward opening monologue was one of the most uncomfortable thing I've ever seen, which, unfortunately, set the tone for the whole show.

The lack of performances of the Original Song nominees was only made dumber by the interpretive dance performance of the Original Score nominees. Congratulations idiots, you actually managed to make the badass score for The Hurt Locker look gay. In fact, it was just downright painful to watch most of the ceremony. And the speeches themselves would normally have saved the crapfest, but the idiots that produced the show kept playing everyone off the stage like the trigger-happy morons I knew they were going to be. Seriously, someone needs to be fired for this train wreck. For god's sake, you idiots played off The Dude, but you couldn't escort that idiot woman off the stage for her Kanye moment? Things just went from bad to worse.

And to top it all off, the Best Actor and Actress presentations were like codeine in verbal form. How could you seriously fuck that one up more than last year? Well you sure fucked up big time.

Anyways, I'm very pleased with the winners, despite it being a personal low for me in my predictions, only getting 17/24 right this year, as opposed to my personal best last year at 21/24.

Full List of winners

Best Picture - The Hurt Locker
Best Director - Kathryn Bigelow
Best Actor - Jeff Bridges
Best Actress - Sandra Bullock
Best Supporting Actor - Christoph Waltz
Best Supporting Actress - Mo'Nique
Best Adapted Screenplay - Precious
Best Original Screenplay - The Hurt Locker
Best Art Direction - Avatar
Best Cinematography - Avatar
Best Costume Design - The Young Victoria
Best Editing - The Hurt Locker
Best Makeup - Star Trek
Best Original Score - Up
Best Original Song - Crazy Heart
Best Sound Editing - The Hurt Locker
Best Sound Mixing - The Hurt Locker
Best Visual Effects - Avatar
Best Animated Film - Up
Best Documentary Film - The Cove
Best Foreign Language Film - The Secret in Their Eyes
Best Documentary Short - Music By Prudence
Best Live Action Short - The New Tenants
Best Animated Short - Logorama

Final tally

The Hurt Locker - 6
Avatar - 3
Precious - 2
Up - 2
Crazy Heart - 2

Sunday, March 7, 2010

82nd Oscars Live Blog - Ceremony

Remember to also check out Audree Jo's live twitter feed here -

7:30 pm - And so it begins. What was with the actor lineup?!

7:31 pm - Neil Patrick Harris, only you could save this ceremony.

7:36 pm - Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin have good chemistry so far. This is a weird ceremony though. I can't tell if the opening monologue is coming off as good or awkward.

7:42 pm - Big applause for Avatar, sluggish applause for The Hurt Locker. Fuck it, who are we kidding, Avatar is so winning. Sigh....

7:45 pm - First award of the night, Best Supporting Actor, presented by Penelope Cruz

7:50 pm - Christoph Waltz! You and your adorable metaphor-laden speeches are too awesome for words

7:56 pm - Best Animated Film goes to... Up!

8:01 pm - Best Original Song. This just isn't the same without the performances of the songs...

8:04 - The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart! Such a wonderful and heartfelt song!

8:06 - Chris Pine, star of Star Trek, presents rival sci-fi film, District 9. That seems awkward.

8:13 pm - Robert Downey Jr and Tina Fey presenting original screenplay, livening things up a bit.

8:16 pm - The Hurt Locker wins O. Screenplay! Thank god! Things are looking better!

8:17 pm - Tribute to John Hughes, this is gonna be rough

8:22 pm - RIP John Hughes.

8:24 pm - Sam Jackson is just what we needed to get energized again. Presenting Up. Such a wonderful film.

8:28 pm - So far, I've gotten all predictions correct.

8:32 pm - Short Live Animated film goes to.... Logorama!

8:34 pm - Best Documentary Short goes to..... Music by Prudence!

8:35 pm - I ALWAYS screw up on the short film section. Ugh

8:36 pm - Maybe Live Action Short can redeem me? The oscar goes to... The New Tenants!

8:37 pm - Nope, no hope for me in the Shorts

8:39 pm - Ben Stiller helps us relax a bit with na'vi outfit.

8:40 pm - Best Makeup goes to.... Star Trek! Maybe there's hope for me after all!

8:45 pm - A Serious Man, one of th emost underrated films of the year. So brilliant

8:49 pm - Best Adapted Screenplay goes to.... Geoffery Fletcher for Precious

8:50 pm - I am so boned. Can't win em all, huh?

8:56 - Robin Williams presents Supporting Actress. And the Oscar goes to.... Mo'Nique!

9:06 pm - Sigourney Weaver presents Art Direction. And the oscar goes to.... Avatar!

9:12 pm - The Young Victoria wins Costume Design!

9:24 pm - Best Sound Editing goes to.... The Hurt Locker!

9:27 pm - Best Sound Mixing goes to..... The Hurt Locker!

9:28 pm - This is a really good sign for The Hurt Locker

9:36 pm - Best Cinematography. The Oscar goes to.... Avatar!

9:38 pm - In Memoriam Montage

9:50 pm - Best Original Score. And the oscar goes to.... Up!

9:55 pm - Avatar wins Best Visual Effects!

10:02 pm - Best Documentary. And the Oscar goes to.... The Cove! Such an incredible film!

10:06 pm - Best Editing. And the Oscar goes to..... The Hurt Locker!

10:09 pm - Keanu Reeves presents The Hurt Locker. If my theory is correct, Avatar just won Best Picture

10:15 pm - Best Foreign Language Film. And the Oscar goes to.... The Secret in Her Eyes!

10:21 pm - Avatar is so winning Best Picture. Facepalm.

10:30 pm - Best Actor. And the Oscar goes to....... Jeff Bridges!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10:49 pm - Best Actress. And the Oscar goes to....... Sandra Bullock!

10:57 pm - BEST DIRECTOR GOES TO KATHRYN BIGELOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

11:00 pm - THE HURT LOCKER WINS BEST PICTURE!!!!!!!!!!!! FUCK YEAHH!!!!!!!!!!

82nd Oscars Live Blog - Red Carpet

Also be sure to check out Audree J.'s live feed on Twitter

5:20 pm - Sam Worthington interviewed. Funny guy. Payless shoes, classic.

5:23 pm - Natalie Rotman is obnoxious

5:30 pm - Anna Kendrick is looking gorgeous and adorable as always.

5:34 pm - The star, writer and director of A Prophet being interviewed. French translators on hand.

5:37 pm - Pat Feld scares me O_O

5:40 pm - Sigourney Weaver looks stunning, as always.

5:41 pm - Jeremy Renner is just such a cool dude. He brought his mom as his date. He sounds kind of hoarse though. Looking great in Armani.

5:44 pm - Mo'Nique is looking great in royal blue. Hard to imagine that she played such a monster in the film, she's so funny and sweet.

5:49 pm - Diane Kruger looks like she's struggling with her dress.

5:53 pm - Sandra looks shiny.

5:54 pm - Jason Reitman and his beautiful wife. He's humbled out I think

5:57 pm - Lee Daniels is a hoot.

6:01 pm - Anthony Mackie is really energetic. Can someone tell me why Matt Damon deserved to be nominated and he didn't??

6:10 pm - Vera Farmiga looks great but here hair is a little too poofy for me.

6:11 pm - Carey Mulligan looks stunning, and very blonde. Thank god she didn't bring Shia LeDouche along

6:22 pm - James Cameron looks much better with the haircut

6:28 pm - Quentin Tarantino is being goofy as usual.

6:30 pm - Hellen Mirren and Christopher Plummer are both so classy and elegant.

6:34 pm - Kristen Stewart actually looks halfway decent, but her hair is greasy and gross.

6:36 pm - Sandra Bullock is looking GORGEOUS

6:39 pm - Stanley Tucci is a class act. So tragic that his wife can't be there.

If I had a ballot

Just some random musings here, but I felt like throwing out my personal picks for winners before the big show.

Best Picture - The Hurt Locker
Best Director - Kathryn Bigelow
Best Actor - (Tie) Jeremy Renner/Jeff Bridges
Best Actress - Carey Mulligan
Best Supporting Actor - Christoph Waltz
Best Supporting Actress - Anna Kendrick
Best Adapted Screenplay - Up in the Air
Best Original Screenplay - The Hurt Locker
Best Art Direction - Avatar
Best Cinematography - Avatar
Best Costume Design - The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Best Editing - Avatar
Best Makeup - Star Trek
Best Original Score - Sherlock Holmes
Best Original Song - Crazy Heart
Best Sound Editing - Avatar
Best Sound Mixing - Avatar
Best Visual Effects - Avatar
Best Animated Film - Up
Best Documentary Film - The Cove
Best Foreign Language Film - A Prophet
Best Animated Short - Wallace & Grommit: A Matter of Loaf and Death
Best Documentary Short - China's Unnatural Disaster
Best Live Action Short - Miracle Fish

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Long Walk - Final predictions and a few thoughts.

I really don't have much to say at this point. Sunday is the Oscars, at which point we'll FINALLY know the winners, after what's been the longest, and quite honestly, ugliest Oscar season in years (damn Olympics). I do have a few things I want to point out. I think that the ten Best Picture nominees was successful in the nominations themselves, as it reflects a wide range of filmmaking. However, I think the ten nominees coupled with the impossibly complex and impure new system of preferential ballots was a disaster waiting to happen from the moment it was announced. This season has seen some of the most ugly campaigning in the last ten years (the worst since Saving Private Ryan vs. Shakespeare in Love back in 1998). The last-minute controversies and anti-Hurt Locker campaigning has raised more than a few eyebrows, but that's what happens when it's a horse race. When things aren't are inevitable as a Slumdog Millionaire, Return of the King, or Titanic, or even No Country For Old Men, you get ugly campaigning because the competition to the front-runners think they really have a shot

And why shouldn't they go for it? After all, the fact is, jobs are on the line here. For as much as people want to go after James Cameron for being a megalomaniac and difficult to work with, the people at Fox have honestly run the cleanest campaign of the season. Surprisingly enough, Cameron has never once presumed Avatar to be the front-runner. He isn't even trying to convince people to give him Best Director, he's telling them to vote for Kathryn Bigelow, who is not only his competition, but his ex-wife. On the other hand, when you have people like Harvey Weinstein declaring "We're going to win Best Picture" in his usual abrasive manner whilst campaigning for Inglourious Basterds, it rubs people the wrong way.

When voters feel like the result is inevitable, they vote with their hearts. And really, The Hurt Locker is the movie I see people calling their favorite film more often than any of the others. Sure Avatar and Inglourious Basterds have support, and for a moment there, I was actually beginning to think Inglourious Basterds had a good chance. But right now, despite controversies late in the game and a somewhat unsettling revelation that over 600 ballots (out of 5500 voting members, around 15%) were turned in on Tuesday, the last day of voting, I still think The Hurt Locker has the support to win. My hope is that people will vote with their hearts, not campaign-weary ears.

If Avatar wins, it would be wholly deserving. The film is a historic milestone in cinema. And people love it. The box office totals reflect that, at $712 million domestically and $2.555 billion worldwide. And it's a great film. Inglourious Basterds is an incredibly well written, well acted, well made film. Tarantino truly outdid himself, making the best and most mature film of his career, finally topping out his classic masterpiece Pulp Fiction. And the film is beautifully made. Handsome cinematography, sets, costumes, and unique vision. But The Hurt Locker just has all the right factors going for it right now. Earlier in the week, after having seen Avatar one last time (presumably) before it leaves theatres, my gut feeling was that the film could pull a last minute, and somewhat unprecedented (with no writing and acting nominations) Best Picture upset Sunday night. At the time, I said that my head was telling me that by all logic, based on enormous precursor support (including a big PGA upset), that The Hurt Locker would overcome last minute bad press and win Best Picture, but that my gut instincts were telling me that Avatar would win.

Since then, I've flipped (as I've been doing a lot on this issue) and began to feel that my instincts were telling me that The Hurt Locker would still win. Ultimately, I decided that The Hurt Locker is the film more people love and that it will pull through Sunday night. I see a couple of scenarios happening. First off, the only other category I'm so split down the middle on is Original Screenplay. Either Inglourious Basterds wins, or The Hurt Locker wins. If The Hurt Locker wins Original Screenplay, I'm 95% sure wins Best Picture. If it takes Original Screenplay and Editing, it wins Picture. If it wins more techs than most are predicting, like Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Cinematography, or Score, it's winning Best Picture. However, if Inglourious Basterds wins Screenplay, I'm not so worried, but if The Hurt Locker loses screenplay AND Editing, it's in trouble, specifically if Avatar or Basterds take Editing.

My personal theory is that they'll split the difference and give The Hurt Locker Picture, Director, Editing, and maybe Original Screenplay, while letting Avatar sweep the techs. Ultimately, unless The Hurt Locker steamrolls a near clean-sweep (minus Best Actor), it's a nail-biter all night. But that's more exciting than usual. I just want a little more certainty, but I want some suspense at the same time. Sunday night can't come soon enough.

Anyways, here are my final predictions, which I'm likely to regret tomorrow morning and continue to worry about until the show is over, but you gotta take a stand at some point right? Feel free to share your thoughts, as well as your predictions!

Kevin's Final Oscar Predictions

Best Picture - The Hurt Locker
Best Director - Kathryn Bigelow
Best Actor - Jeff Bridges
Best Actress - Sandra Bullock
Best Supporting Actor - Christoph Waltz
Best Supporting Actress - Mo'Nique
Best Adapted Screenplay - Up in the Air
Best Original Screenplay - The Hurt Locker
Best Art Direction - Avatar
Best Cinematography - Avatar
Best Costume Design - The Young Victoria
Best Film Editing - The Hurt Locker
Best Makeup - Star Trek
Best Original Score - Up
Best Original Song - Crazy Heart
Best Sound Editing - Avatar
Best Sound Mixing - Avatar
Best Visual Effects - Avatar
Best Animated Feature Film - Up
Best Documentary Feature - The Cove
Best Foreign Language Film - The White Ribbon
Best Animated Short Film - Wallace & Grommit: A Matter of Loaf and Death
Best Live Action Short Film - The Door
Best Documentary Short - The Last Truck