Everybody’s Chattin: Blog Series Edition

Welcome to the last day of January, folks!

Can’t believe one month in 2012 already gone by… but before we get into my birthday month of February, I thought I’d give a shout out to some of the notable blog series and new blogs I’ve been frequenting lately. Let’s get started shall we?

Trilogy Thursday
I LOVE this idea. Max @ Impassioned Cinema & Claire @ Cinematic Delights team up to discuss their favorite trilogy and they definitely started out with the best… Pixar’s TOY STORY!
Behind the Camera
Max also came up with a new series on his blog, highlighting a filmmaker of choice and he starts the series with one of my faves: Christopher Nolan, courtesy of Matt from Matt & the Motion Pictures
Duo Posts Series
Michael @ It Rains… You Get Wet has been posting a series of parallel reviews with another blogger, examining a noted book and its later film adaptation. The latest edition is on this noir classic The Maltese Falcon.
TDYLF Infographic
One of the most brilliant stuff you’ll find at John’s The Droid You’re Looking For blog is his meticulously-crafted infographics! As the Oscar’s soon approaching, check out his handy Breaking Down the Oscar chart featuring facts and figures about Hollywood’s most beloved statue!
Today’s Minnie Driver’s 42nd Birthday! I really think she’s such an underrated actress, hence my inclusion on this list. One of my favorite roles of hers is Bernadette ‘Benny’ Hogan in Circle of Friends, which happens to be one of my fave movies set in Ireland


Tuesday’s Overlooked Movies
These insightful posts are courtesy of Iba @ I Luv Cinema. Every week she reviews a movie she thinks more people should check out and it’s almost always something I hadn’t seen before. This week’s edition is Little Voice starring an all Brits cast including Michael Caine and Brenda Blethyn.
Looking Back
My matey Scott @ Front Room Cinema has been doing well on one of his new year’s resolution to feature more classic cinemas. This time he’s got help from Sam @ Duke & The Movies in reviewing Jean Paul Belmondo’s trend-setting French New Wave film Breathless.
The Story Behind Film Studio Logos
The King of all great blog series Nostra @ My Film Views has recently launched a great one that gives us an insight into the brand history of Hollywood’s famous studios. The latest one he’s featuring is 20th Century Fox.
Robert Bresson Marathon
Tyler @ Southern Vision is at it again with his directors marathon… offering great insights into off-the-beaten path works mainstream moviegoers likely overlook. This time he starts with the review of Les anges du péché (1943).
Last but not least, I’d like to give a shout out to these new blogs I’ve been enjoying the past few months. Definitely check ‘em out if you haven’t already!

Paula’s Cinema Club
Aziza’s Picks
Duke & The Movies
Never Too Early Movie Predictions
Matt & The Motion Pictures
Splendid & Lovely
The Movie Lounge
All Eyes on Screen


Be sure to stay tuned for another classic flix guest review and the follow up to this favorite actors voice list later this week!

About these ads

THIS JUST IN: ‘The Cold Light of Day’ first trailer

As you know by now, our new Man of Steel Henry Cavill has been on my radar for a few years now. So a new movie starring him is ALWAYS a good thing. Throw in Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver into this fast-paced thriller and I’m definitely game!

A young American (Cavill) uncovers a conspiracy during his attempt to save his family, who were kidnapped while on vacation in Spain.

It’s been almost 3 months since I posted the official poster and full synopsis, and now the trailer is finally here, check it out below:

I must say that if it weren’t for Henry’s casting, I probably won’t be as enthused about this one, but you know what, this trailer actually looks pretty exciting. I like the fact that it was shot on location in Spain which gives it an International flavor. Henry sure kicks ass in this one, but then again his dad is John McClane, ahah. Still, with Ripley er I mean Sigourney as the lethal villainess, Henry just might have his work cut out for him! In all seriousness though, no wonder he was close to be cast as James Bond before the role went to Daniel Craig, he was too young at the time but in a couple of years he definitely could do it if he choose to, though I’d rather see him do other roles.

French-Tunisian director Mabrouk El-Mechri is helming the project, he did the Jean-Claude Van Damme’s biopic JCVD a few years back. I’m certainly glad that at least there is one Henry Cavill movie to look forward to soon since the Superman movie won’t be released until 2013! Man, that is such a long time to wait, but I am convinced Henry will do such a great job as Supes.

As displayed in Immortals, no doubt he’s a capable leading man with a trifecta of star formula: good looks, screen presence and talent. Even his American accent is quite convincing which always helps him be competitive with fellow US actors his age. I sure hope Cavill continues to be cast in Hollywood movies!


What do you think folks? Will you be seeing this come April 6th?

Weekend Viewing Roundup: Margin Call and Another Earth

It’s been almost a month since I’ve last been to the cinema, but it’s customary for January as the new releases don’t interest me. I’m quite surprised to see the raves for The Grey however, Dan over @ FogsMovieReviews gave it a solid A, though Terrence @ The Focus Filmographer wasn’t as enthused about it. In any case, it proves to be quite popular this weekend as it took the number 1 spot with $20 million!

Well, for me it’s a weekend to catch up on recent DVD releases that I’ve been curious about. One of them actually nabbed an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. So let’s start with that one, shall we?

MARGIN CALL

Now, this film can be fittingly called ’24′ as the plot takes place over a 24-hour period during the early stages of financial meltdown a few years ago. The story can’t be more timely with the ongoing Occupy Wall Street movement that continue to spread all over the country.

The key players work at a nameless investment bank in New York City. It begins with the lay-off of a veteran risk management executive named Eric Dale (the always excellent Stanley Tucci). As he’s escorted out of the building, he hands over a flash drive to his subordinate Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) with a word of caution, ‘be careful.’

If I were Peter, I’d do exactly what he did, which is find out just what the heck is on that drive. The severe reaction written on Peter’s face after he’s done processing the data that Dale started clues us in to just how significant his boss’ warning really is. What this data tells us is that the firm has been sitting on a large pile of liquid assets that are worth less than they ought to, which means the firm will owe far more than what they own, what they’ll do with that predicament not only threatens the markets stability but also triggers financial meltdown.

I’m glad I rented this movie as I don’t think I’d be able to get all the trading jargons here without using subtitles, though I think the filmmaker did a decent job in presenting them in layman’s terms. At the heart of this film isn’t the financial crisis itself, but how each player in question reacts to this given situation. I think writer/director J.C. Chandor is able to capture the moral compass if you will, of the main characters, which is the main strength of this film.

I’m truly impressed by Chandor’s direction and primarily the shrewd script, considering this is his first feature film. He’s also assembled a top notch cast: Oscar winners Jeremy Irons and Kevin Spacey and nominee Stanley Tucci are all superb in their roles. Spacey is a perfect fit in displaying a range of emotions his character goes through. Irons and Tucci’s screen time is considerably less than Spacey’s but both turn in memorable performance. Irons’ line that’s used as the tagline for this film, “Be first. Be smarter. Or cheat.” is such a chilling reminder just how ruthless and heartless these Wall Street folks are.

The younger cast are equally compelling. Most notably Zachary Quinto (in his signature stolid but sympathetic demeanor) as the rocket scientist (literally) who becomes a trader as the money is too good to pass up, and Paul Bettany as the senior trader who gives us a glimpse of the kind of life these yuppy bankers lead. He tells his colleague on the building rooftops as they’re waiting for the big honcho to arrive just what he spend his $2.5 millions he made in a given year. It’s disheartening to see just how removed these kids are from the real world — they’re so occupied with numbers that sincere connection with fellow human beings has no place in their lives. In fact, money is nothing more than means of pleasure or a measure of worth — Penn Badgley’s character’s obsession with how much people make is an obvious sign of that.

Margin Call a solid thriller that relies on a clever script and nuanced performances in place of special effects. The fact that this film had a paltry $3 million budget and was shot within 17 days is all the more impressive. I do think it merits the Best Original Screenplay nod, I’m curious to see how it’d fare come Oscar time.

4 out of 5 reels


ANOTHER EARTH

This is another small-budget film that delivers a sizable impact. What draws me in about this film isn’t the cast but the unique, implausible-yet-thought-provoking plot.

In a single day, the life of the protagonist Rhoda Williams, a bright high school graduate on her way to MIT,  is turned upside down by a tragic accident that kills a woman and child, and leaves the husband/father in a coma.

Though alcohol is certainly a factor as Rhoda just came home from a party, she’s actually distracted by the appearance of a new planet resembling earth that has moved into our solar system. Earth 2 as it’s called, supposedly contain a duplicate version of ourselves and its inhabitants mirror our earthly existence.

The film then jumps to the time when Rhoda leaves prison after serving her four-year sentence. Before long her path crosses to that of the Yale music professor John Burroughs who lost his family that very night. He’s recovered from his coma but understandably his life is never the same again. Clearly having lost his zest for life, his existence now consists of slouching in his sofa watching TV or playing video games. It’s inevitable that these two broken people end up being involved despite the unorthodox circumstances of their connection.

This is a sci-fi film done as a meditative human drama… there’s no CGI or technical mumbo jumbo, so don’t expect to see an extra-terrestrial creature of any kind, it’s just not that kind of sci-fi movie. The central themes are those of atonement and second chances. Reminiscent to the theme of Joe Wright Atonement, guilt-ridden and suicidal Rhoda has been hoping for a way to atone for her sins. By pretending to be a cleaning lady for John, she hopes that one day, that opportunity will finally come. The fact that she likes to clean is also a metaphor for her attempt to ‘clean up her mess’ if you will.

The film not-so-subtly asks the beguiling question of ‘if you get the chance to see yourself as a third person, how would you feel or expect to see?’  It may not offer a satisfactory answer and the ‘whoa’ conclusion is more of a head-scratcher than anything else, but it certainly is an intriguing concept worth exploring.

Like Margin Call, this film also marks the directorial debut of its director Mike Cahill. It’s certainly a worthy first-time effort though his rather barren style is perhaps an acquired taste. The visuals does have a low-budget quality to it but it’s not exactly a detriment, in fact, the simplicity and starkness adds to its indie charm.

Relative newcomer Brit Marling who also co-wrote the script with Cahill, turns in a pretty affecting performance as Rhoda. She is beautiful in an earthly kind of way, her naturally tousled hair almost becomes a character in itself here along with her melancholy gaze. Character actor William Mapother (Tom Cruise’s cousin) is pretty effective in displaying believable transformation from being morose to one who’s full of hope once again. The scene of him playing the solo musical saw to an audience of one is deeply moving. Thanks to SawLady who plays the saw in the soundtrack for sending me a link to this page, it’s definitely a soulful piece of music with a haunting quality about it.

I highly recommend this if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten path feature film. It’s a slow-burn story done in a mind-numbingly quiet way that makes even The Artist seems deafening. But if you can get past its stillness and allegorical quirks, it certainly is worth a watch.

4 out of 5 reels


So what did you see this weekend, my friends? Any thought on either one of these films, do share them in the comments.

Music Break: Mozart in the Movies

Today January 27th 2012, marks the 256th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s birth. I listen to classical NPR to and from work a lot and they’re promoting a special program commemorating this event. Well, as my two of my all time favorite music genres are classical and soundtracks, I thought I’d sort of combine the two in today’s music break post.

Tom Hulce as Mozart in AMADEUS

Just a bit of history on one of the greatest classical composers of all time… Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria and started composing from the age of five and already performed before European royalty at such a young age. He only lived until the age of 35, but in such a short life he was incredibly prolific and influential. Per Wikipedia, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers and his music will always remain timeless.

Whether you notice it or not, you’ve likely have heard Mozart’s music in all kinds of films. Whatever the genre, Mozart’s music seems to have a place in a variety of them. This forum from a few years ago compiled over 400 movie titles from all over the world that uses Mozart’s music. And this site actually compiles a list of how many times Mozart’s work has been used in dozens of films.

This piece called Eine kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music) is the most widely used, 13 times as of 2006, in movies ranging from Ace Ventura, Bonfire of the Vanities to Nikita, and of course it’s part of the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning film about the musical genius, Amadeus (1984) .


If you haven’t seen Amadeus, I highly recommend it. Even if you’re not a fan of classical music, it’s still a fascinating story and the film was amazingly done. It won 8 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for F. Murray Abraham for his superb performance as Antonio Salieri, Mozart’s main rival. Tom Hulce in the title role was also nominated for an Oscar. The film is told in flashback mode by Salieri who’s now confined to an insane asylum. Check out the trailer below:


My introduction to Mozart in movies is actually courtesy of an unlikely source, a James Bond film! Ahah, yes, it was The Spy Who Loved Me as it’s played in this scene where Bond’s arch nemesis Stromberg played Piano Concerto No. 21 as his octopus-like hideout rises from the sea. I didn’t even know it was a Mozart piece until much later as I was only a wee kid at the time. I was mesmerized by that music… and Jaws’ teeth :D It remains one of my all time favorites to this day.


Alexandre Desplat’s Oscar-nominated soundtrack for The King’s Speech also uses Mozart’s piece La Nozze di Figaro. One of my favorite parts about this film is definitely the music, and naturally classical music is fitting for the subject matter.


So those are just some of my favorite Mozart’s music in movies. Do you have one? Please do share in the comments.

Fan-made Opening Credits of The Dark Knight Rises


I always love a good opening/closing credit sequence. I compile ‘em from time to time and make a favorites list like this one from last year. Seems like the excitement for The Dark Knight Rises just keeps on building. The fan-made posters since have been popping up since almost a year ago and now we’ve got a fan-made opening credits that my hubby just showed me during dinner (via Screenrant). It’s quite impressive so I thought I’d share.

The video is created by a Turkish motion graphics designer by the name of Doğan Can Gündoğdu. It’s reminiscent of the opening credits for David Fincher’s SE7EN which is also seen from the point of view of the villain John Doe.

This video shows the footage of what appears to be some grisly criminal plan that Batman’s juggernaut nemesis Bane is concocting. It’s very forensic CSI-ish and feature the people of Gotham City as portrayed by  The Dark Knight Rises‘ cast: Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, etc. I love how each of the cast name is introduced and the music by Massive Attack titled Suck Me Up Dub combined with the sounds of rain & thunder creates a disturbingly creepy atmosphere. The breathing sound of Bane under his mask during the footage of Batman’s broken scowl is a nice touch too.


What do you think folks? Does this make you even more excited for Nolan’s final Batman film?

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: The Raven

Relativity just released this eerie-looking new poster for The Raven. Now, I still prefer this teaser poster that was released last July. I just think that one is much more creative and so brilliantly creepy. This new one isn’t not bad, I kind of like the subtle raven design on the title, but the wings reminds me a bit of this Constantine‘s poster.

Unfortunately, I also learned that this movie’s released has been pushed back from March 9 to April 27. No reason was given for this delay, which is a bummer as I’ve been curious about this for some time.

I’ve always been fascinated with movies about writers and lately I’ve been watching quite a few of them because Gregory Peck has played a number of writers roles, from novelist, journalist to screenwriter.  The title of the film refers to a narrative poem by Poe that was first published in January 1845. Per Wikipedia, it tells of a talking raven’s mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing the man’s slow descent into madness. So no, it’s not a remake of the 1963 horror comedy of the same name starring Vincent Price and Peter Lorre.

Here’s the official synopsis:

In this gritty thriller, Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) joins forces with a young Baltimore detective (Luke Evans, Immortals) to hunt down a mad serial killer who’s using Poe’s own works as the basis in a string of brutal murders. Directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin), the film also stars Alice Eve (Sex and the City 2), Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) and Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Faster).

When a mother and daughter are found brutally murdered in 19th century Baltimore, Detective Emmett Fields (Evans) makes a startling discovery: the crime resembles a fictional murder described in gory detail in the local newspaper—part of a collection of stories penned by struggling writer and social pariah Edgar Allan Poe. But even as Poe is questioned by police, another grisly murder occurs, also inspired by a popular Poe story.

Realizing a serial killer is on the loose using Poe’s writings as the backdrop for his bloody rampage, Fields enlists the author’s help in stopping the attacks. But when it appears someone close to Poe may become the murderer’s next victim, the stakes become even higher and the inventor of the detective story calls on his own powers of deduction to try to solve the case before it’s too late.

Director McTeige with Cusack

I’m intrigued by the story and James McTeige is the director of the stylish and compelling V for Vendetta, so this is quite promising. I think Cusack isn’t a bad choice as Poe, though I’m more familiar with his romantic/whimsical side in things like High Fideliy, Serendipity, etc. From what I heard at the Comic-Con panel, he seemed quite well-versed on Poe, which is always a good sign. There’s also Brendan Gleeson, whose presence is always welcome in any film.

One major highlight for me in this is Luke Evans, the dashing Brit I’ve been watching for some time. He played Zeus in this Fall’s Immortals, but he wasn’t given much to do there but look good in his barely-there mystical outfit. I think he gets to flex his acting muscles on this one as he has a more prominent role here. My pal Ted astutely suggested a few times would make a great James Bond when it’s time for Daniel Craig to retire his tux. I absolutely concur! :)

Here’s the latest trailer from a few months ago, as soon as they released the newest one I’ll swap it:



P.S.
Thanks to a tip from my friend Dezzy from Hollywood Spy, The Raven was filmed in Eastern Europe, mainly Budapest, Hungary and Belgrade, Serbia.

I also heard on NPR a few weeks ago that the Poe’s Historical Museum in Baltimore is in danger of being closed down as city leaders have chosen not to subsidize it (per LA Times). Perhaps an interest in this movie might help save Poe Museum?

What do you think folks? Does this one interest you?

Oscar 2012 Nominations: The Good, the Bad and the WTF

All right, now that the nominations are announced, it’s time to pick ‘em all apart :D You can view the full nominations here (thanks to Red Georges at AM).

The Good:

  • First off, I’m thrilled to see both Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis getting nominated for The Help! Now I’d be even more thrilled if Davis will take home the statuette instead of Streep.
  • Bérénice Bejo up for Best Supporting Actress, yay! Her performance is as equally compelling as Dujardin, so I’m glad she wasn’t left out. I’m equally stoked for Jessica Chastain getting recognized for her compelling supporting role in The Help.
    ///
  • Gary Oldman and Nick Nolte getting a nod, yes! It’s about darn time for Mr. Oldman! As I said on this post, the thespian has never gotten a single nomination, atrocious if y’ask me. So I’m glad he got recognized for his turn in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It’s also nice to see veteran actors like Max Von Sydow and Christopher Plummer getting acting nods.
    ///
  • Nice to see such an international mix on the Best Actor list… Mexican Demian Bichir, French Jean Dujardin and English Gary Oldman against two American heartthrobs (well to some anyway, not moi) Pitt and Clooney.
    ///
  • Legendary composer John Williams breaking Alfred Newman’s record for the most Oscar-nominated composer/conductor ever (45 times) by not one but TWO nominations for War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin!
    ///
  • Even though The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is so not my cup of tea, I’ve read enough about Rooney Mara‘s dedication to the role that I’m glad she got a nod.
    ///
  • Glad to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes amongst Best Visual Effects nominees… but the good is outweighed by the not-so-good,

    which brings me to…

The Bad

  • Well let’s start with the one snub that I shouldn’t be surprised about but yet I’m still disappointed with… As I mentioned on my review, I really think Andy Serkis deserves a nomination, darn it!
  • So The Academy loves Scorsese more this year than Spielberg, eh? No, I was NOT going to suggest Spielberg for Best Director for War Horse, but seriously, The Adventures of Tintin deserves to be amongst the Best Animated Feature before Rango does! As a huge fan of the comics, I had trepidation how Spielberg could translate than to screen but I think he did a great job. It captured the adventurous spirit of Herge’s story and it was wholly entertaining from start to finish. I think Rango is fine but too uneven to be Oscar-worthy!
  • Last but not least, I was really hoping to see 50/50 to be singled out in the Best Original Screenplay category. The beauty of this cancer-themed comedy is in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance AND the brilliant writing, it strikes the perfect balance between whimsy and poignancy, not a mean feat considering the dismal subject matter. Ok so I have yet to see three out of the five nominees in this category but is Margin Call REALLY better than 50/50‘s script??  Those who’ve seen both, perhaps you can enlighten me…

The WTF

As is customary every year, the bigger news come Oscar nominations time is always, who gets snubbed? There are just a couple biggie I could think of right of the bat…

  • The snubs of the Michaels… both Michael Fassbender and Michael Shannon are absent from the nominees. Say what?? Granted I have not seen Shame or Take Shelter yet but even from the trailer and reviews, it seemed that either one of them would garner a nod? I’d be happy to see either one instead of Pitt who’s curiously nominated for Moneyball instead of Tree of Life [shrugs]
    ///
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close up for Best Picture?? I have not read a single review praising it and it’s only got a paltry 48% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m not saying the critics should always agree with Academy voters but still, it’s a real head-scratcher this one.
  • I had just seen Ides of March over the weekend and I was pretty sure either Paul Giamatti or Philip Seymour Hoffman (who pretty much stole the scenes from the lead actors) would be nominated, but NO, they’d rather give that to Jonah Hill instead. Maybe I’m being harsh, those who’ve seen Moneyball thinks he’s worthy of a nomination over these two. No?
  • What’s with just the two nominations for Best Song??? Is the qualifying system so bonkers this year that a whole bunch of great songs just aren’t eligible?

This list would’ve been a lot longer had I seen more films released in 2011, but anyway, these are my two cents. At least some folks still have their sense of humor intact. Movieline captured Patton Oswalt’s (Young Adult) tweets from this morning about organizing an Academy’s snubculture party with fellow snub-ees (ok I just invented a new word) Albert Brooks, etc.

Ahah, I think I’d rather attend that party than the Oscar luncheon any day!


So what’s your picks of ‘biggest snubs’ and which nominations make you go jump for joy?

Musings on Oscar’s Best Picture Nominations… and My Predictions

Hello and welcome to the eve of the Oscar nominations or Oscar night, namely the night only Hollywood folks and movie buffs give a damn about :) Truthfully I almost forgot about the Oscar nominations if it weren’t for the Classical NPR station I listened to during rush hour traffic. They actually ran a special program called ‘Roll Credits’ where they played some Oscar-nominated scores, including one from The Big Country that’s on my top five list from Gregory Peck films.

All kinds of predictions have been circulating all over the place, and I’ll get to that later, but before that I just want to share some Best Picture history/trivia I learned recently. Now, out of a total of 24 categories given out at the Academy Awards, the one on everyone’s mind is which film is going to win Best Picture?’ That’s why it always came on last as people’d want to stick around to find out which movie take top honors.

The big question this year is…

How many Best Picture nominees will there actually be??

As you know, a couple of years ago, Oscar expanded the Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10. Now there’s yet another mind-boggling qualifying system… A film must receive at least 5% first place votes in the nominating process to qualify as one of the 5 to 10 nominees (per hitfix.com) so there might be somewhere between 5-10 Best Picture nominees this year.

Here’s just a brief history of the Best Picture category specifically, thanks to AMC Filmsite:

The Oscars®, have been presented annually since 1927 (the first awards ceremony was held in May 1929) by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

The Best Picture category has been identified with a variety of names over the years: Outstanding Picture, Outstanding Production, Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Motion Picture, and Best Picture.

For the 1927/28 through the 1950 Awards, the nomination and ‘Best Picture’ Oscar went to the production company or studio that produced the film. [For example, Gone With The Wind's Best Picture Oscar was officially presented to Selznick International Pictures, not to David O. Selznick.] Thereafter, the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar was given to the producer(s).

The ever so fascinating—as well as discombobulating—tidbits about Best Picture nominees is the genre biases:

Most Likely to Be Nominated (or Win) For Best Picture: Serious dramas or social-problem films with weighty themes, biopics (inspired by real-life individuals or events), or films with literary pretensions are much more likely to be nominated (and win). Glossy, large-scale epic productions with big budgets (of various genres) often take the Best Picture prize.

Least Likely to Be Nominated (or Win) For Best Picture: Action-adventures, family-oriented animation, “popcorn” movies, suspense-thrillers, science-fiction, superhero films, horror, comedies (including teen comedies), Westerns, foreign-language films, and spy thrillers are mostly overlooked, as are independent productions and children’s films (although there have been a few exceptions).

Miscellaneous Trivia on Best Picture category:

  • The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) was the first non-US made film to both earn a Best Picture nomination, and win an Oscar of any sort (Best Actor for Charles Laughton, in this case). The first non-Hollywood (foreign-made) film to win Best Picture was Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948).
  • Only two novels that were made into films have won both the Best Picture Oscar and the Pulitzer Prize: Gone With The Wind and All the King’s Men
  • As I was researching about The Macomber Affair over the weekend, I found out from this Leonard Maltin site that the first film ever to win Best Picture Oscar, Wings, a silent film about WWI pilot starring Clara Bow and Gary Cooper, is NOT available on DVD. That’s a shame isn’t it?
  • In recent times since the advent of modern box-office tabulations, Best Director-winning Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker (2009) was the lowest-grossing Best Picture winner of all time. Its domestic gross earnings were $12.6 million at the time of its nomination, and only $14.7 at the time of its award.
  • Precious (2009) was the first-ever Best Picture nominee to be directed by an African-American filmmaker, Lee Daniels.
  • Oh and get this: Wings was also the only silent film to win ‘Best Picture’ … would this year the Oscar ‘come full circle’ if you will, with The Artist?

Anyway, I could go on and on as I love movie trivia, so I invite you to check out the comprehensive Oscar history on AMC Filmsite.

So, here are my best guess of Best Picture Nominees, just for the fun of it really as I haven’t seen everything that might considered. But hey, I won’t let that stop me :) I just take a wild guess that there’ll be eight nominees, so here goes (in alphabetical order):

  1. The Artist*
  2. The Descendants
  3. Bridesmaids
  4. The Help
  5. Hugo
  6. Midnight in Paris
  7. Moneyball
  8. The Tree of Life
Wildcards:
  • Drive
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • The Ides of March
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

*
The Artist is the one I’m rooting for this year and I have a feeling it just might be the picture that’ll sweep the Oscars this year.



Any thoughts on Oscar or Best Picture noms specifically? Feel free to make your own predictions before the nominees are announced tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM eastern time.

Top Ten Favorite Actors with the Smoothest Voice

When I was in Junior High, I had a major crush on this guy whom I went on a Summer Camp with. Look-wise he’s quite perfect, with gorgeous dark hair and deep-set eyes. But then one day my friends and I ran into him in a parking lot. He rolled his car window down, lowered his sunglasses and the second he opened his mouth to greet us, my jaw practically dropped to the floor. He’s got this high-pitched, almost squeaky voice that I nearly burst out laughing. Suffice to say, I wasn’t so smitten by him after that, ahah.

Y’see, the point I’m trying to make is, to me a man’s voice is almost as important — if not more so — than his looks. I’d find an average looking man with a rich, deep voice far more appealing than a handsome guy with a higher-pitched voice (I’m looking at you David Beckham). Of course some guys have all the luck, like my beloved Gregory Peck who’s drop dead gorgeous AND has a rich barritone voice to die for :)

This list is inspired by him, an actor who can act on his voice alone, hence he was in high demand for a variety of live radio programs, such as this Anna Karenina one with his Spellbound co-star Ingrid Bergman. I think an actor’s distinct voice could actually make the movies they’re in more memorable than they otherwise would’ve been. In fact, some actors’ voice are the most memorable part about them. AMC’s filmcritic.com actually made a list ranking the top 100 movie star voices of all time, nice list apart from the exclusion of my beloved Gregory of course.

So anyway, here’s a shortlist of actors whose rich, silky voice are beautiful music to my ears. Now, all of them are talented actors to begin with, but the sound of their voice and their delivery are definitely icing on the cake. Btw, I’m not going to mention the obvious ones here like James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman, whose names are almost synonymous with ‘iconic voice.’ So anyway, here they are in no particular order:

1. Hugo Weaving

“Hello Mister Anderson.” “Remember, remember the 5th of November” Now, Mr. Weaving’s a master of acting with his voice alone. I dedicated a whole post on his face-less performance in V for Vendetta, especially in the indelible introductory monologue in the dark alley. I also hearing his monologues as Elrond in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

2. Timothy Dalton

Ok, so here’s another tall, dark beauty with an equally ravishing voice. Whether he’s Bond, Mr. Rochester, or an Errol Flynn-esque baddie in The Rocketeer, his signature deep, authoritative voice and distinct delivery is always a delight to listen in. My favorite role of his is in BBC’s 1983 Jane Eyre. That powerful voice combined with the depth of his performance as Rochester is why his portrayal remains my all-time favorite.

3. Alan Rickman

Hans Gruber, Severus Snape, Col. Brandon… these are iconic characters largely because of the way Rickman played them. Snape is the most intriguing character in Harry Potter movies for me, his singular diction with that silky voice is always a highlight in any movie. Even the simplest words like ‘indeed’ or ‘obviously’ sound so beguiling coming from Mr. Rickman’s mouth.

4. Matthew Macfadyen

I first heard his wonderful voice in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice as Mr. Darcy. I wasn’t impressed with him initially, but upon second viewing I warmed up to his performance … and that voice! In fact, his narration in that rich timbre is my favorite part of The Three Musketeer trailer. I could watch that thing over and over again just to listen to his voice!

5. Liam Neeson

Whether he’s a Jedi master, Gotham’s underground villain, a bad ass retired spy or even a Jesus figure in the form of a lion, Neeson’s Irish-tinged speech can be as commanding yet still exudes a certain warmth that’s quite soothing. His role choices may be a bit questionable of late (Battleship Liam? Really??) but his voice is always dependable.

6. Anthony Hopkins

Whether he’s threatening to eat your liver with a chianti in Silence of the Lamb or displaying utmost loyalty with mild-mannered decorum in Remains of the Day, Hopkins’ deep smooth voice always fits the character perfectly. It may not be his best work, but I love The Mask of Zorro largely because of Hopkins sensitive portrayal of Don Diego de la Vega, especially when he was teaching Antonia Banderas sword fighting as well as etiquette. His soothing voice is so indelible in that film.

7. Rufus Sewell

Talk about having the whole package… with glass-cutting cheekbones and wide, expressive eyes, I would readily reconcile myself to Rufus even if he has a less-than-ideal voice. But this gorgeous Englishman has an irresistible throaty voice to boot! Not only is his voice so sweet to the ear, it’s ever so evocative, as displayed in the 9/11: Out of the Blue poem I posted last year. The Ode to a Beautiful Nude poem clip I posted earlier was removed… so here’s the first part of the Out of the Blue four-part series:

8. Laurence Fishburne

Who could forget Morpheus’ iconic voice from The Matrix? Fishburne’s low, commanding voice has that trustworthy, regal aura about it, no wonder he’s often cast as a wise, gifted characters. He’s got a perfect voice for theater, which was where he got his start in New York. As the first black actor cast in Othello (alongside Kenneth Branagh), that voice certainly would lend itself extremely well reciting Shakespearean lines.

9. Richard Armitage

I first had the pleasure of enjoying Armitage’s magnetic performance in BBC’s North & South (see the proposal scene below). As if his dark looks weren’t swoon-worthy enough, he’s got such a deep, breathy voice to match. No wonder he’s made voice-over work his second career, lending that golden pipes of his to narrating documentaries, audiobooks, and various radio work. I LOVE The Hobbit trailer largely because Armitage gets to sing as Thorin… I sure hope he gets a ton of lines in the movie as well.

10. Patrick Stewart

One of the best things about the X-Men trilogy is the casting, particularly the two English thespians Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. No doubt McKellen’s Magneto is the juicier role but I adore Professor X as Stewart exudes such warmth and eternal wisdom in the role. The Shakespearean actor often plays authority figures, the most famous one being Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the Star Trek series. Sometimes when the show was still on TV I’d often stop to just listen to him even though I’m not a Trekkie by a long shot. I wish I could find the clip of just Xavier talking but in this trailer you could hear a sampling of it.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Gerard Butler, Gabriel Byrne, Sir Ian McKellen, Russell Crowe, Ian McShane, Jeremy Irons, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hiddleston, Derek Jacobi, Sean Bean, Powers Boothe.
… 


Well, what do you think of my picks? Do share your own favorite actors with the best voice.

Featured Trailer: Keanu Reeves-produced Doc Side by Side

I’m always up for an intriguing documentary and this one looks to be a must-see for film fans everywhere.

Produced by Keanu Reeves and directed by Chris Kenneally, it features interviews with powerful filmmakers in Hollywood, the likes of Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, the Wachowski siblings, George Lucas, James Cameron, Steven Soderbergh, and so on.

Here’s the synopsis from the official site:

Movies were shot, edited and projected using photochemical film. But over the last two decades a digital process has emerged to challenge photochemical filmmaking.

SIDE BY SIDE, a new documentary produced by Keanu Reeves, takes an in-depth look at this revolution. Through interviews with directors, cinematographers, film students, producers, technologies, editors, and exhibitors, SIDE BY SIDE examines all aspects of filmmaking — from capture to edit, visual effects to color correction, distribution to archive. At this moment when digital and photochemical filmmaking coexist, SIDE BY SIDE explores what has been gained, what is lost, and what the future might bring.

Now check out the trailer:

This is definitely something I gotta see… seeing people from opposite spectrum like James Cameron and David Lynch speaking about their philosophy of making films should be interesting to watch.  It’s always fascinating to see which filmmaker is quick to embrace change and who still has trepidations about it. Nolan’s quoted as saying, “There isn’t yet a superior, or even equal imaging technology to film…” whilst Cameron unsurprisingly stated that because one can’t shoot 3D with film, “… film has been dead in my heart for ten years.” 
Soderbergh’s quote is quite spot on…
I really felt like I should call film on the phone and said I’ve met someone… ’cause I really thought, this is the future.
No matter which side you’re on, this is no doubt a topic worth looking into if you love movies. With the increasing number of 3D movies and digital conversion, the debate between “film vs. digital” is only going to get hotter.
The documentary has just been selected for the Special Section of the Berlinale 2012 in February. I sure hope it’ll make its way to my city soon!
… 

What do you think folks? Does this interest you?