Saturday, February 23, 2008

Oscar Night!

This is the time of year where I really get sick of hearing about sports. Not that I’m ever really that excited to hear about them, but between the hype of this past Super Bowl and the inevitability of March craziness, I am weary. I suppress my inner competitor, but when it comes to this weekend is different. I look forward to the Oscars.

So here are my predictions, who I want to win and who I think will win - sometimes why. The truth of the matter is that I know nothing (especially about movies I’ve never seen), and my opinions will change nothing, just like yelling at your TV can’t make someone catch a football. But who really cares? Here we go.

Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day Lewis for There Will Be Blood - In the midst of good performances, Lewis has no competition. His loss would be the upset of the night.

Actor in a Supporting Role: Who do I want to win? Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men - This man was downright terrifying. Who will win? The Academy has a way of honoring the veterans; I have this feeling Hal Holbrook will win for Into the Wild.

Actress in a Leading Role: Want? Ellen Page for Juno. Win? Julie Christie for Away From Her

Actress in a Support Role: Cate Blanchett for I’m Not There - She’s too good to be nominated twice and not win one.

Animated Feature Film: Persepolis - This tale of growing up Muslim and female is primed to dethrone Pixar from their digital tyranny, though Ratatouilli was a lot of fun.

Art Direction: Sweeney Todd - No one creates esthetic like Tim Burton and his team. I really hope this wins.

Cinematography: Roger Deakins for No Country for Old Men - This is his sixth nomination in this category, and this movie feels as cold as its ruthless villain. Simple, traditional, and beautifully filmed.

Costume Design: Want? Alexandra Byrne for Elizabeth: The Golden Age. I think that Jacqueline Durran will win for Atonement due to the stunning war sequences.

Directing: Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men - They got snubbed for Fargo and I think they deserve this.

Documentary Feature: This one’s a guess. Taxi to the Dark Side

Documentary Short: Freeheld - I have no idea.

Film Editing: The Bourne Ultimatum - This movie must have been so hard to piece together, and to do it well was quite an achievement.

Foreign Language Film - 12

Makeup: Ve Neill and Martin Samuel for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - They’ve been nominated before and the third time is often the charm at the Oscars (think LOTR).

Music (Score): Marco Beltrami for 3:10 to Yuma - A good score becomes a character, and this was a memorable performance.

Music (Song): Once - "Falling Slowly" - Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - The most moving and original musical in years.

Best Picture: No Country for Old Men - The Coen’s have done their time and creating a sweeping masterpiece.

Short Film (Animated) - Madame Tutli-Putli

Short Film (Action) - At Night

Sound Editing - Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins for Transformers - Both are two time winners and this was the best aspect of the movie.

Sound Mixing - Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane for Ratatouilli - All the kitchen sounds and pattering mouse feet. Very tough to balance and very cool.

Visual Effects - Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier for Transformers - I did not like this movie, but the effects were stunning, some of the best I’ve ever seen. Take note of the way light reflects off the AutoBots.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay) - Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood - His source material was scarce, and the end result was dynamic and terrifying. A screenplay worthy of the Daniel Day Lewis’s stellar performance.

Writing (Original Screenplay) - Diablo Cody for Juno - Never has a movie been so irrevereant and touching. I really think he deserves this award and Juno deserves an Oscar.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

top 5

At the end of every year, I always try to stop and think about the year gone by, what the best and worst things about the year were. Well, 2008 galloped by, and grabbed me by the arm like a bandit on his high horse, and February is already upon us. So for now, I choose to look back, before it is too late, and recount my favorite media of 2007. This list is not authoritative, in any sort of order, and not even limited to things released in 2007, but simply what I enjoyed during the past year. So here it is, my top 5 albums, movies, books, and TV events of the year. Cheers!


In Rainbows - Radiohead - Radiohead has been my favorite band since I learned to drive. I skipped school the day Kid A came out, and after several years of waiting for this record, I am satisfied. While they have never ceased to be brilliant, it is nice to hear ten straight tunes without the minimalist spacer tracks of the last couple records. Also a piece of music industry history.

Neon Bible - The Arcade Fire - This record is loose and gritty, meandering in and out of 80’s new wave and modern garage rock. Very emotional and full of energy, it comes from a spiritually dark place, though recorded in a church, but it is overwhelmingly hopeful in its whole.

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - Spoon - A lesson in simplicity, this record draws on early Van Morrison and Elvis Costello while managing to sound like nothing else.

Asleep at Heaven’s Gate - Rogue Wave - An expression of the life’s duality of joy and suffering. I probably listened to this band, as well as their last album, Descendant Like Vultures more than anything else this past year.

A Weekend in the City - Bloc Party - This band plays so well together, yet they always sound like they’re on the verge of falling apart. Great production, awesome guitar, chaotic and beautiful.


No Country for Old Men - The Coen brothers have made most of my favorite movies and Cormac McCarthy wrote one of the best books I’ve ever read. This movie is bleak, but it’s so good. With the best villain since I can’t remember, I couldn’t begin to break it down, so I’ll simply say that I loved it.

There Will Be Blood - PT Anderson is another one of my other favorite film makers and this study of greed and selfishness is a departure. Great screenplay, cinematography, score (provided by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood), and probably my favorite piece of acting since DeNiro in The Kind of Comedy.

Hot Fuzz - I could never get sick of this movie. Best laugh of 2007.

The Simpsons
- I had more fun watching this movie than anything else last year. It made me feel like I was ten again.

Juno - It takes a special movie to make teenage pregnancy a laughing matter. As touching as it is funny, probably my biggest surprise of the year.


The Yiddish Policemen’s Union - Michael Chabon - This author never writes the same kind of story twice, and this exploration into noir is steeped in a fascinating piece of historical “what if?” that never looses momentum. A mystery/thriller as only a winner of the Pulitzer prize could write.

Watchmen - Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons - I live with two comic book artists, and this was inevitable. Watchmen deconstructs the super hero like 1984 does fear and politics; I simply loved it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling - The conclusion of this story was everything I hoped for. Entertaining, touching, exciting, and above all, appropriate.

Sex God - Rob Bell - A unique look at the nature of intimacy as it pertains to a man and a woman, but more so God and his children.

Through Painted Deserts - Donald Miller - A simple but beautifully told story of a pivotal time in the author’s life.


Lost - Sarah and I just boarded this train (or dare I say plane? sorry...) and are somewhere in the middle of Season 3 (so no spoilers PLEASE!!!). I’m hooked.

Planet Earth - The biggest documentary budget in history, taking over 5 years to make. Awesome, stunning, and truly humbling in its scope, it is probably the finest documentary series ever made. What a world!

The Office - The smartest show on television, and the only show since the X-Files I’ve actually made a point of watching on a weekly basis.

Mythbusters - The only show on television I will watch whenever it is on, no matter the time of day. The best model of the scientific method since Bill Nye the Science Guy.

24 - My roommates and I continue to stress over this one whenever a new season gets released. Season 5 was the best one yet.