New Year’s Resolutions: Movie List for 2015

For me, movie resolutions are the hardest because I feel like I have such a long way ahead. That isn’t to say I’m not excited to introduce myself to new movies, but I do find it challenging to “keep up.” Which brings me to my first resolution for watching movies in 2015 . . .


Watch Movies at My Own Pace

For those of you who watch a lot of movies, have you ever felt like you can’t keep up with the rest of the movie blogging community? Perhaps it is just me, but I regularly struggle to “keep up” with everyone else. That isn’t to say that I need to see as many movies as the rest of you, but there is this feeling of falling behind when many other movie bloggers see films at pre-screenings, film events, and opening weekends. I say this to resolve that I will try to start watching movies more at my own pace, even if that means posting reviews a week or two later than the average viewer/blogger.


Make Progress on My Shame List

I started my own Shame List last September after being inspired by other bloggers who admitted to the Internet that there were a great many classics they have yet to see. So I made my own list of thirty-one titles of popular movies ranging from 1931 to 1999 that I’d like to see. I saw three of those last year (averaging one per month), and now my list is down to twenty-eight. I’d like to set my goal at crossing at least ten more of those movies off my list in 2015.


Start My First Blindspot Series

I realized how much I was missing out on classic films when I noticed multiple other movie bloggers were posting about their own Blindspot Series. I have wanted to start my own for a while, but the right opportunity hasn’t been present until now. I want the goal to be attainable, so copying what many of my film friends have done, I am starting my own list of twelve movies to be featured on my very own Blindspot Series. This series will be different from my own Shame List, because although I took recommendations for that list, I decided on the first twenty films myself.

Similarly to what I did with my Reading Resolutions for 2015, I’ll be taking only recommendations for this list, with one exception. I’m making Singing in the Rain (1952) my January film selection since it has been recommended to me more times than I can count (shout-out to my friend Cynthia who wrote out a list of movies I needed to see a couple years ago, making sure to emphasize that I see Singing in the Rain). I’d like to compile this list by the end of the month so I am set for the rest of the year. I’m all for new ideas in this series since I really haven’t seen many classic films, so include your suggestions in the comments section below. I will choose the eleven most popular choices, so long as I get at least eleven film recommendations.

2.-12. Your Recommendations


See All Films Nominated for Multiple Categories at the 2015-2016 Oscars

This was an unwritten goal of mine for the 2014-2015 season. I’m still working towards it, especially considering that the list of Oscar nominees hasn’t been released yet. I agree that it is a bit of a popularity contest. But the take-away for me is that I get to see a lot of great movies, regardless of whether they “earn” a golden statue or not. Below are the categories that I’d like to see all of the nominees before the award ceremony in February of 2016.

5. Best Picture Category

4. Best Actor/Actress Categories

3. Best Supporting Actor/Actress Categories

2. Best Original/Adapted Screenplay Categories

1. Best Soundtrack Category

After considering all of those hefty goals for this year, I’m excited (and a little nervous) to move forward into unchartered territory for All Eyes On Screen. Thank you for all of your support in commenting, liking, and interacting on the site . . . it has been the greatest encouragement to me, and I’m thankful to count so many of you as friends in my life.

Stay tuned for a final New Years Resolution post tomorrow, this time on blogging. Next week I’ll be posting about the Best and the Worst of 2014 for books, TV shows, and movies I’ve read and seen in 2014.

What are your movie resolutions for 2015?

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Welcome, 2013: Free Screenplays, Interview with a Quvenzhané, and an Angry Tolkien

The Oscar nominations are in, and I find it interesting that 2012 film does not a pose a strong #1 film that will take down Oscar this year. Perhaps that will happen regardless, as it does most years, but with so many great movies that came out, I really do wonder who will take Best Picture.

Within this past week alone, I have seen Django UnchainedSilver Linings Playbook, and The Impossible. I’m gearing up for Zero Dark Thirty‘s release tomorrow. Oh, and I’ve made a list of movies to see yet before Oscar date February 24:

When all the top 10 lists start popping up, I can’t help but mentally compose my own for the movie year of 2012. So many of the heavy-hitters didn’t get released in Chicago theaters until early 2013, so I’m battling to see many of the films in their short theater runs before they slip away, their DVD releases not arriving until after the Academy Awards air.

I am only dying to post my Top 10 Favorites of 2012, but before I do that, I need to cross a few of those off my list. It’s difficult to catch all the great movies before the Oscars, but my goal is to post a top 10 list by the end of January. In the meantime, I’d like to offer up some film goodies:

  • Oscar Screenplays Available for Download — Now I cannot take credit for this because my boyfriend, Matt, knows how much I love film, and he found this online. Perhaps you’ve already seen these, or you’re not one for screenplays. Even so, this is quite the motherload of screenplays for several critically-acclaimed films of 2012. I know they’ll be available only for a limited time, so I’d recommend downloading your favorites while they’re available.
  • Roger Ebert’s Interview with Quvenzhané Wallis — Quvenzhané Wallis is the youngest person to ever get nominated in Oscar history. It’s a pretty extraordinary achievement! Now while I haven’t seen Beasts of the Southern Wild yet, from the trailer, the interview, the article, the reviews of this film and her performance, I can only imagine how powerful her performance must have been.
  • Christopher Tolkien Disenchanted with The Hobbit film — This is quite the read for anyone interested in the Lord of the Rings world J.R.R. Tolkien created, be it the books, maps, languages, or most well-known, the Peter Jackson film adaptations. After reading this, I can’t help but see both sides of issue. Credit goes to my friend Deb for the find.

As of now, one of the movies I saw this week holds my #1 slot for favorites films of 2012, with a couple films following that I haven’t see on anyone else’s top 10 list.

What’s your #1 film of 2012? What are your first thoughts on the Oscar nominations?

The New Academy Darlings

I posted like crazy in the past 5 days, so I’ll be keeping it short today. Obviously, the Oscars were last night and most of the results did not come as a surprise to many of us. I’m thrilled to say that my top 4 picks won (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture) [It’s true: check out my Oscar posts for acting, directing, and picture]. I’m beyond happy that Meryl Streep and Jean Dujardin won Best Actress and Best Actor. They were both wonderful in their respective films.

Perhaps Entertainment Weekly spoke too soon.*

*I loved Clooney and Davis in their films, but I loved Streep and Dujardin even more. 

AEOS Review: Margin Call

The Oscar-nominated script for Margin Call is nothing short of deserving for the honor of being nominated in the Best Original Script category.

Rookie director J. C. Chandor, who also wrote the detailed screenplay, somehow manages to gather a high-talent cast to tell the story of Margin Call, Kevin Spacey heading them.

Now I’ll be the first to tell you that when it comes to the financial jargon, I’m as lost as they come. After viewing Margin Call, however, I realized that the heart of the film doesn’t lie in the language in which the business players speak, deal, and trade, but in how each employee on the chain deals with the current card dealt, a card in which Margin Call‘s case is ugly.

You already knows there’s a problem from the get-go when an all-too-familiar cast that might has well been from Up in the Air (2010) appears through the elevator doors bearing empty boxes, tapping employees shoulders and directing them to another room for a chat. Paul Bettany, who seems to thrive in whatever role he’s cast, warns younger employees Peter (Zachary Quinto) and Seth (Penn Badgely) not to watch the firing that is about to take place.

Eric Dale, played by the ever versatile Stanley Tucci, has just been let go from the company, and tries as he must to let others know there is a certain project he’s in the middle of that must be looked at, is ignored until Peter attempts a “thank you” speech before the elevator doors close on Dale.

The key turning point happens immediately after, when Dale hands Peter the flashdrive with the unfinished project and gives the warning, “Be careful,” as the elevator doors close perfectly in sync with Peter’s mixed look of confusion and curiosity.

Thus, a plot is born as Peter discovers the ending to the unfinished project, and makes a phone call that turns into one meeting after another until the CEO (Jeremy Irons) is present at an 2 a.m. executives meeting. Only one resolution seems probable, although Sam (Kevin Spacey) sees that one option as more dooming than necessary. There’s give and take as characters discuss, reflect, and react the remainder of the film.

There’s a lot of takeaway from Margin Call, and perhaps that’s why the screenplay resonated so well with Academy voters to nominate it. One theme lightly hammered in by Irons’s character is that of the physicality of the situation. In trading, they’re dealing with numbers, not tangible money. Yet when he regards money’s role, he calls it pictures on paper. There’s a whole lot of green passed around throughout the film, be it to trade or act as severance to “tie up the loose ends.” And then the other side to consider is that of the problem. As viewers, we don’t physically see the problem, but we hear about it, we understand it, and yet all we see is the actors viewing the problem on a computer screen, and then the domino effect as the problem reaches higher on the chain of command.

Margin Call‘s other high point comes from the story’s themes subtlety delivered through well-casted characters. Simon Baker is pitch perfect in his role, utilizing smarts, a pin-stripe suit, and a bit of professional slimyness similar to his role in The Devil Wears Prada (2006). Spacey, be it playing the hilarious and altogether psychotic boss in Horrible Bosses (2011), or playing the everyman deemed “soft” for not wanting to pull the plug in Margin Call, balances quite well the different emotions his character Sam is forced to meet with throughout the film. Jeremy Irons suited the role of the calculating, single-minded, rich CEO, while Penn Badgely bore the youthful presence on screen, who didn’t think much past how much money he or anyone else was making.

The majority of the film takes place in an upper floor of a New York City skyscraper. There are multiple shots of the city brightly lit at night, almost giving the city and the building a minor role in the film. My favorite scene is right near the end. The news has just been delivered: while most employees will be dumped, at least financial hope remains for those who successfully sell 93% of their holdings. The office is abuzz, and Paul Bettany’s voice stands out while the scenes of phone calls being made, the inside of the office, the color and life of the city serve as background. He’s fully composed, checking sellers off his list, convincing buyers to accept his offers.

One complaint I do hold is the B story regarding Sam’s dog. The analogy was present and meant to evoke a thoughtful response, but I felt like it wasn’t paid enough attention for us to draw more of a conclusion than that of Chandor attempting to be metaphorical, especially when the sound of digging and breathing lingered into the credits.

Margin Call reminded me much of last year’s The Company Men in watching suits deal in the business world whether losing their jobs or acting out whatever action necessary to grasp tightly onto them. While the lingo of Margin Call similarly reflected that of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), the heart of it touched on the idea that minor details that slip through the cracks are, in time, not so minor. Even closer did the film reflect that not money, but the ruthlessness needed to hold onto money, is the god of the market and its workers.

Guest Post – Will Tom Hooper Be Able to Tackle Les Miserables?

Hey all! I’ve been in need of a serious break from blogging, so today, my sister, Jennifer, will be guest posting on the Tom Hooper’s upcoming adaptation of Les Miserables. The first half of the post is more introductory on the story of Les Mis, and the second half is a “Recast Edition,” a fun type of post where the author will recast a film if he or she thinks there is a cast who can better fill the roles. Feel free to chime in and share your opinions below. Scroll down to the bottom of the post to find out more about Jennifer!

–Kristin

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By Jennifer Griffin

A Little Introduction to Les Miserables

There’s been a great deal of hype regarding the upcoming film adaptation of the novel (Victor Hugo) turned musical Les Miserables (Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg). According to director Tom Hooper and cast member Hugh Jackman, the casting is still being finalized, and the actors are just being to learn the music this month.

Les Miserables has been credited as the most successful musical ever written. A little over three decades ago, Boublil and Schönberg finished adapting the novel to musical format and premiered the musical in Paris. Five years following the premiere, the musical opened in London as a 3-month touring group engagement. The show sold out within the first week, and the box office received several record orders. Two years later it hit Broadway and did not close until after 6,680 performances. Les Mis is the third longest running Broadway show today and has been since revived on Broadway as one of its most successful shows. Altogether, the musical has been produced in 38 countries and translated into 21 languages, with over 70 different official recordings.

All of that to say . . .

Hooper obviously has a huge legacy to live up to in his bold decision to make this musical a successful film. Despite already having 6 film adaptations, Hooper’s version will be the first to actually have the musical–not just the book (or dialogue only)–adapted for film. Converting Les Mis to a musical film production will be an incredible task for Hooper to take on for several reasons:

  1. The music is extremely hard for actors who are not trained singers to perform.
  2. The novel is one of the most well-known pieces of historical fiction, and like adapting any novel to the film format, doing it justice is not easy—(it was debated that writing a musical based on the novel would be “sacrilegious”—there are many negative reviews in England and France if you look at articles from the 1980s!)
  3. The musical itself is extremely beloved, so living up to it in film with singers who can equally sing/act the roles is a challenge.
  4. Finding a cast that have ample acting experience both on stage and screen is normally necessary when making this sort of film—actors like this are not as common as they used to be.
  5. A great nonmusical film adaptation of the book with Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush came out in 1998 and was very successful, possibly making this film version look unnecessary until more time had passed.
  6. The resources—the elaborate prison, battle, and abbey sets, the rights to the music, the large stage and off-stage chorus needed, the orchestra, etc.—are very expensive.

While I look forward to seeing Hooper’s take on Les Mis, I have two major reservations:

  • the cast
  • the way Hooper has decided to film/record the singing

Recast Edition: Tom Hooper’s upcoming Les Miserables

Below is Hooper’s main cast, and who I would cast in place of them:

Jean Valjean: Hugh Jackman

Character Description: Dramatic tenor—very, very high voice in this musical—burly French peasant imprisoned for 19 years who vows to turn his life around after he escapes prison and in so doing helps Fantine and later adopts her daughter, Cosette.

Hugh Jackman actually does have screen and stage experience as well as singing experience, but Jean Valjean is probably one of the top 2 hardest tenor roles in all of musical theatre (the other one being the Phantom in the Phantom of the Opera). Perhaps Hooper feels like he needs an actor with a big name in the title role in order to successfully market this movie, but in the case of casting this particular character, he would actually do well to err on the side of screen experience because of the difficulty level of musicality as well as vocal range and ability the role demands.

My first choice for casting Jean Valjean would be Alfie Boe because he has a great deal of screen and stage acting experience, and he played Valjean in the London 25th Anniversary version of Les Mis (check out the video here). Other singer-actors I would choose include Matthew Morrison (Glee) and James Marsden (EnchantedHairspray), although both would have to buff up.

Inspector Javert: Russell Crowe

Character Description: Baritone—high officer of the law, sets out to bring Valjean to justice.

I believe Crowe is miscast altogether. The police inspector is a commanding force in the novel and the musical, but not physically. He is commanding because of his reputation as a successful inspector, his reputation of dedication to the law, and the nobility as well as the rest of the police force supporting him. Javert needs to be smaller than Valjean, not bigger; plus, Javert is a vocally-demanding role. I have never heard Crowe sing, and I fear that this will remind us all of the “lovely” singing of Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia (2008).

Norm Lewis (25th Anniversary edition as Javert) or Michael Ball (the original London cast of Les Mis as Marius) tie for my first spot in casting Javert, because both have a great deal of screen acting experience. Philip Quast would also be an interesting choice, despite his older age.

Fantine: Anne Hathaway

Character Description: Mezzo-soprano or alto—sickly woman that sells everything, including her body, to support her daughter Cosette after Cosette’s father leaves her.

Based on a couple of instances on SNL, the Oscars, and Princess Diaries, I think Anne Hathaway sings decently. The role of Fantine, however, is known as one of the toughest belter roles in all of musical theatre, including the iconic “I Dreamed a Dream” song. I wish Hooper would have picked someone with more singing experience. The only trait about Hathaway that matches Fantine’s description is the that the character looks like she is dying of consumption or suffering from anorexia.

My first choice for Fantine is Kerry Ellis. She was in one of the original casts of Wicked as Elphaba and in the televised version of Chess in London a few years ago. Depending on the age of the Valjean casted, other options I would consider include Lea Salonga, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Idina Menzel.

Eponine: Taylor Swift Samantha Barks

Character Description: Belter or low alto—daughter of the Thénardiers, peasant, tom-boy in love with Marius.
As of January 31, Taylor Swift is no longer in the works to play this role. In her place, Hooper has chosen Samantha Barks to fill the role of Eponine. Barks’s experience includes screen acting on BBC television as well as playing Eponine in the 25th Anniversary edition performance of Les Mis.

Despite Swift no longer filling the role, I did want to give my opinion on the casting: most well-trained singers and musicians do not like Swift for the sheer fact that she is rarely on pitch when she sings live, her voice is weak, and she tends to whine. I won’t say any more as to not offend anyone who is a Taylor Swift fan, but nevertheless, it was a 100% miscast if nothing else.

Aside from Barks, my next choice for Eponine would be Lea Michele (Glee, Les Miserables).  Other options I would consider include Amanda Bynes (Hairspray) and Felicia Day (Dr. Horrible). I’m sure there are many others that would be better for the role than Swift, but these are the first ones that come to my mind.

Cosette: Amanda Seyfried

Character Description: Soprano—innocent, beautiful, cultured daughter of Fantine, adopted by Valjean, in love with Marius.

I am extremely excited about this casting; Seyfried is typecast and sings very well.

If Seyfried couldn’t play Cosette, other people I would consider include Emmy Rossum (Phantom of the Opera, film version), Hilary Duff (Raise Your Voice), and Katie Hall (25th Anniversary edition).

Marius: Eddie Redmayne

Character Description: Baritenor—student revolutionary, friends with Eponine, in love with Cosette.

I have never actually heard Redmayne sing, but he has both a big screen acting and musical theater background, so I will be eager to see what he brings to this role.

My first choice in casting Marius would be Josh Groban, because he is absolutely typecast in looks and voice. Darren Criss (Glee, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying) would be my runner-up, and other considerations include Zac Efron (Hairspray), Ben Feldman (Drop Dead Diva) and Jamie Campbell Bower (Sweeney Todd).

Enjolras: Aaron Tveit

Character Description: Baritenor—leader of the student revolutionaries, good friend of Marius.

Tveit is the other cast member I have yet to hear sing, but he has a nice resume as well including both screen acting and musical theater.

Ramin Karimloo (25th Anniversary edition) is the first person I would cast as Enjolras. Other people to consider include Adam Pascal (RentChess), Norbert Leo Butz (Wicked, original cast), and Neil Patrick Harris (Rent, Dr. Horrible).

Madame Thénardier: Helena Bonham Carter

Character Description: Alto—married to Monsieur Thénardier, Eponine’s mother, Cosette’s aunt, despicable pickpocket and thief who manages the inn with her husband.

I am also excited about Helena Bonham Carter in the role of Madame Thénardier. She’s also typecast and sings well (Sweeney Todd).

After Bonham Carter, other options to consider for the role include Bernadette Peters (Mack and Mabel, Annie Get Your Gun), Brooke Elliott (Wicked touring cast, Drop Dead Diva), or Dot-Marie Jones (Glee).

Monsieur Thénardier: Sacha Baron Cohen

Character Description: Baritone or tenor—married to Madame Thénardier, Eponine’s father, Cosette’s uncle, despicable pickpocket and thief who owns the main inn in town.

Sacha Baron Cohen fits the role characteristically and physically; however, has anyone even heard him sing? I just don’t know about this one.

Jason Alexander (Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, The Producers) has an incredible singing voice, so he would be my first choice to play Monsieur Thenardier. The only other option that came to mind was Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd).

The second issue is due to the way Hooper has decided to record the singing. Hooper plans to record the scenes with singing live as opposed to pre-recording with lip-synching in the actual scenes like most musicals are filmed. Normally, as a singer myself, I would be all for this; however, when you have a cast in which most are mediocre singers and fairly inexperienced musicians, I don’t think it is such a good idea. Those who are Broadway vets are obviously used to having to sing, dance, act, and do crazy staging all at the same time. Those that are not used to all of these aspects will struggle though, and it will come out in the recording process.

Again, I am very excited that they finally are making a film version of this awesome musical, but unfortunately I do not have the highest hopes of it coming close to measuring up to actually seeing it in a theater live with well-experienced singer/actors. I hope Hooper and the rest of the cast prove me wrong.

The seventh film adaptation of Les Mis will hit theaters December 7.

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Jennifer Griffin is an Adjunct Music Professor at Northern Illinois University. With two Masters degrees in Vocal Performance and Musicology at the ripe age of 25, she makes music a priority in her life. In her free time, Jennifer teaches voice and piano at private studios, accompanies singers and instrumentalists, and daydreams about making it big someday at the Lyric Opera. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter at @jgprimadonna

Reaction to Oscar Nominations

Everyone’s going to have their own quips about what film was nominated, what film wasn’t nominated, who got snubbed, who got included who shouldn’t have, etc. Some will and some won’t agree with me on any or many of these.

If you read my previous post, you’ll already have a one-up on this one. In more detail, here are my reactions:

What Disappoints Me

  • Shailene Woodley not making the cut for Actress in a Supporting Role. Who got it instead? Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids. I can’t even comprehend how there’s a comparison here. I really don’t care to vote between comedy or drama; in terms of role performance, in my humble opinion, Woodley–not McCarthy–should have been nominated.
  • Drive‘s lack of nominations. With its overall positive reviews, ratings, and plug for Ryan Gosling, I’m stunned that it’s walking about with only a single nom. In my latest post, I mentioned the forgotten Albert Brooks. I feel like Drive is walking away forgotten.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt missing the nomination. I know most people are more upset over Fassbender not on the ballot. I haven’t seen Shame, and honestly, have little interest in seeing it. Although I would like to see it since there’s been a great deal made about it. This disappointment, however, is regarding JGL–and I am disheartened to see that he has yet to get past Golden Globe nods and break through that Oscar glass.
  • Speaking of JGL, how about Will Reiser’s script not passing for Best Original Screenplay? I’m a little hesitant to praise Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig for their Bridesmaids script, and I haven’t seen Margin Call, but I’m still wondering how 50/50 didn’t get nominated.
  • Harry Potter series walks away with zero acting nominations. As discussed with some on Anomalous Material, this isn’t entirely surprising. Actually, considering some of the biggest film series with huge casts, it’s almost not surprising at all. But for us Potter fans, it still hurts a little inside to see not even Alan Rickman get some much-deserved credit, much less a host of other fantastic supporting roles. Oh, and did I mention Daniel Radcliffe? I know I’m not in the majority thinking this, but I can’t help but admit that he did such incredible work, especially in the last film. Not even a Golden Globe nod? What do I say to all that? Boooo.
  • The snubbed Mr. Ryan Gosling. Between DriveIdes of March, and even Crazy Stupid Love, which strangely earned him a Golden Globe nod, Gosling walked away without a single nomination. So I think it’s sad that he didn’t pull through for Drive  or even Ides. With a year that boasted his name more than any other, it’s disappointing.
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close making the Best Picture cut. Are you serious? Here’s a better question: how does a movie with a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes get nominated for Best Picture?

What Confuses Me

  • Why is Viola Davis considered the lead actress in The Help? I have no problem with her being nominated. In fact, I support that. But here’s my beef: I watched The Help, and I was under the impression the entire movie that Emma Stone was the lead character. This is lost on me.
  • Why is Emma Stone completely forgotten from The Help? I realize she plays straight to the characters portrayed by Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, etc. I even almost get that most would not consider her performance Oscar-worthy. But that leads me to three more questions–Why does she not get credit at any awards ceremonies this season for her work in the film? Why is her performance in Easy A considered Golden Globe worthy, but not her role in The Help? And finally, why does Melissa McCarthy get credit for her role in Bridesmaids at the freaking Oscars, but Emma Stone doesn’t get any credit for The Help . . . AT ALL?! Anyone?
  • Why is Berenice Bejo in the Actress in a Supporting Role category? Perhaps this one is more obvious. Jean Dujardin is clearly the lead. Understood. But wasn’t Bejo the lead actress in The Artist? It was the same way at the Golden Globes. I’m just really confused about this.
  • Why is everyone making such a big deal about Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? I realize it was a very polarizing, intense role to portray. I get it. And I can even understand the Oscar nomination. What I don’t get? Why is there all this crazy fuss about her? What other work has she given to film that makes her stand apart from the rest? OK, so she’s just getting nominated for TGWTDT. Understood there. But isn’t that kind of a slap in the face to Noomi Rapace from the Swedish version? I mean only two years prior, she played the same role–and fantastically, I may add–and didn’t receive any of this accolade that is being poured on Mara. Why is that?
  • Why can’t the dogs from Beginners and The Artist get nominated? After all, the one from The Artist saved Dujardin’s life. And the one from Beginners? Doesn’t get much cuter than that. Academy, how about we add a new category, eh?

What Makes Me Happy

  • Perhaps the nomination that delightfully surprised me most was Nick Nolte in Warrior. The film itself hadn’t gotten much praise–good reviews, but not great ones. I realize everyone mentions issues with the film from cliche type story line, to boring cinematography, to “we’ve already seen this movie a zillion times in other sports films.” Got it. But I’m incredibly happy to see Mr. Nolte get some credit for his role. With great performances all around in Warrior, Nolte stood out to me, even considering Edgerton and Hardy. What a well-deserved nomination.
  • The Help and Midnight in Paris showing up on the Best Picture list. Although neither film will be a contender for that category, I’m happy to see both get nominated. The Help received a massive amount of criticism, and I wasn’t sure Midnight in Paris would make the cut, even with its growing popularity.
  • Cars 2 didn’t get an Animated Film nomination. Sorry, Pixar, but 2011 was not your year. Glad to see better animated films get nominated.
  • Gary Oldman nominated. I know this will make a lot of people’s lists of things that made them happy for this year’s Oscars. Although I wasn’t blown away by Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I will say that I’m happy to see Oldman receive so much-deserved credit.

All Hail Oscar: 84th Academy Award Nominations

Well, the Oscar nominations are in, and it’s gearing up to be year of multiple choices. There are many strong contenders, although there are also many favorites standing out, especially with past awards ceremonies this season prepping us for said stand outs.

For the Golden Globes, I didn’t include a list, but just speculated on what I liked and what I didn’t like. For the Oscar categories, I’ve decided not only to include the full list, but also to limit myself to a single question or statement for each category.

Actor in a Leading Role

Demián Bichir in A Better Life
George Clooney in The Descendants
Jean Dujardin in The Artist
Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt in Moneyball

Even with exceptionally great performances nominated, Jean Dujardin strikes me as the real winner of this category.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Kenneth Branagh in My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill in Moneyball
Nick Nolte in Warrior
Christopher Plummer in Beginners
Max von Sydow in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Nick Nolte, Jonah Hill, Christopher Plummer . . . wait, where’s Drive‘s Albert Brooks?

Actress in a Leading Role

Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis in The Help
Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn

Meryl Streep delivers, even in a terrible movie.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Bérénice Bejo in The Artist
Jessica Chastain in The Help
Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer in The Help

Who thought playing a hilarious, unapologetic bridesmaid could place you in the same category as Spencer and Bejo?

Directing

The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius
The Descendants, Alexander Payne
Hugo, Martin Scorsese
Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen
The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick

Oscar darling noms aside, Mr. Hazanavicious is due for another acceptance speech.

Best Picture

The Artist, Thomas Langmann, Producer
The Descendants, Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Scott Rudin, Producer
The Help, Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
Hugo, Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
Midnight in Paris, Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
Moneyball, Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
The Tree of Life, Nominees to be determined
War Horse, Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

And they thought downsizing this category from 10 to 9 would really change things, huh?

ALSO – what the heck is Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close doing on this list? (sorry, had to break my rule at least once)

Animated Feature Film

A Cat in Paris, Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
Chico & Rita, Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
Kung Fu Panda 2, Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Puss in Boots, Chris Miller
Rango, Gore Verbinski

I wonder how Pixar is handling better films like Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2, and even Puss in Boots taking up all the room in this category.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

The Descendants, Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Hugo, Screenplay by John Logan
The Ides of March, Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
Moneyball, Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin Story by Stan Chervin
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

Is there anything really exciting about these nominations?

Writing (Original Screenplay)

The Artist, Written by Michel Hazanavicius
Bridesmaids, Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
Margin Call, Written by J.C. Chandor
Midnight in Paris, Written by Woody Allen
A Separation, Written by Asghar Farhadi

I think a certain little original Will Reiser piece called 50/50 is missing from this category.

Art Direction

The Artist 
Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 
Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan

Hugo 
Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo

Midnight in Paris 
Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil

War Horse 
Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

And all the Harry Potter fans say, FINALLY!

Cinematography

The Artist, Guillaume Schiffman
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Jeff Cronenweth
Hugo, Robert Richardson
The Tree of Life, Emmanuel Lubezki
War Horse, Janusz Kaminski

Should anyone aside from Emmanuel Lubezki even be considered in this group?

Costume Design

Anonymous, Lisy Christl
The Artist, Mark Bridges
Hugo, Sandy Powell
Jane Eyre, Michael O’Connor
W.E., Arianne Phillips

Anonymous and Jane Eyre make welcome appearances to the nominations.

Documentary (Feature)

Hell and Back Again 
Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front 
Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory 
Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs

Pina
Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel

Undefeated 
TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

N/A

Documentary (Short Subject)

The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement 
Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin

God Is the Bigger Elvis 
Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson

Incident in New Baghdad 
James Spione

Saving Face 
Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom 
Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

N/A

Film Editing

The Artist, Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
The Descendants, Kevin Tent
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
Hugo, Thelma Schoonmaker
Moneyball, Christopher Tellefsen

I would be OK with TGWTDT getting some love here.

Foreign Language Film

Bullhead, Belgium
Footnote, Israel
In Darkness, Poland
Monsieur Lazhar, Canada
A Separation, Iran

Why does everyone already know that A Separation is going to win?

Makeup

Albert Nobbs
Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng

The Iron Lady
Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

Makeup: one of the only categories Harry Potter is getting credit for, one of the only categories The Iron Lady should receive any kind of commendation for.

Music (Original Score)

The Adventures of Tintin, John Williams
The Artist, Ludovic Bource
Hugo, Howard Shore
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alberto Iglesias
War Horse, John Williams

Despite my love for John Williams and Howard Shore, I can’t imagine anyone but Ludovic Bource winning.

Music (Original Song)

“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets, Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
“Real in Rio” from Rio, Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

I could cry tears of joy over the “Man or Muppet” nomination; we’ll be looking for you at the Oscars, Jason Segel and Jim Parsons.

Short Film (Animated)

Dimanche/Sunday, Patrick Doyon
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
La Luna, Enrico Casarosa
A Morning Stroll, Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
Wild Life, Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

N/A

Short Film (Live Action)

Pentecost, Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
Raju, Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
The Shore Terry, George and Oorlagh George
Time Freak, Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
Tuba Atlantic, Hallvar Witzø

N/A

Sound Editing

Drive, Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Ren Klyce
Hugo, Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
War Horse, Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

Is anyone else half laughing, half angry that the only category Drive received a nom for, Transformers is also sharing a spot of recognition?

Sound Mixing

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson

Hugo
Tom Fleischman and John Midgley

Moneyball 
Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin

War Horse 
Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

As long as Michael Bay doesn’t get any reward or recognition, I’m strangely OK with Transformers getting nominated.

Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 
Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson

Hugo
Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning

Real Steel 
Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg

Rise of the Planet of the Apes 
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett

Transformers: Dark of the Moon 
Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

Harry Potter, please win something. Planet of the Apes, welcome.

Yes, there were snubs. But after reading the list, is there any other bigger surprise or disappointment than watching Ryan Gosling receive no nominations?!

Women in the Director’s Chair

The latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter, due to come out December 16, is titled “The (Female) Directors,” with Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda 2) gracing the cover.

Originally, when I saw the cover, I was really confused as to why Angelina Jolie, of all people, would be on the cover. I couldn’t think of a single film she has directed or was slated to direct. According to this article in that THR issue, Jolie’s directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, is set to hit theaters in limited release on December 23. Given her international political resume, I can’t say it’s a surprise that Jolie’s debut is a Bosnian war film. It’s neat to see the female directors together again since Nelson directed Jolie in Kung Fu Panda 2, which is only the second animated film to ever be directed by a woman (first was The Tigger Movie).

Last year marked history for female directors with Kathryn Bigelow being the first female director to ever win the Oscar for Best Director for her movie The Hurt Locker. Also mentioned in the another THR article from the same issue, “The Femmes to Watch,” include the only other three female directors to ever get nominated for Best Director:

“Only three other women before had been nominated in the category: Lisa Wertmuller for Seven Beauties in 1976, Jane Campion for The Piano in 1993 and Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation in 2003.”

It’s interesting to watch the rise of women in the film industry. Shakespeare in Love includes a great example of when women weren’t allowed on stage, and men portrayed women. Later, the Bechdel test was invented to show the type of role women are represented in movies. Perhaps you’ve even read a post about a certain type of character some female actresses constantly fall into, like the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Women no longer take the backseat to men in film anymore. They’re in front of the camera, and more are starting to get behind it as well.

Kathyrn Bigelow’s Acceptance Speech:

(upon winning the Oscar for Best Director for The Hurt Locker)

“This really is when … there is no other way to describe this. It’s the moment of a lifetime. First of all — this is so extraordinary to be in the company of such powerful — my fellow nominees — such powerful film makers who have inspired me and I have admired for — some of whom — for decades. Thank you to every member of the Academy. This is again the moment of a lifetime.

I would not be standing here if it wasn’t for Mark Bohl who risked his life for the words on the page and wrote such a courageous screenplay that I was fortunate enough to have a great cast bring that screenplay to life. Jeremy Renner. Anthony Mackey and Brian Garrity.

And I think the secret to directing is collaborating and I had truly an extraordinary group of collaborators in my crew: Barry Akroyd and Kelly Juliason, and Bob Murawski, Chris Innis, Ray Beckett, Richard Stutzman. And if I could also just thank my producing partners, Greg Shapiro and my wonderful agent Brian Suberal, and the people of Jordan who were so hospitable to us when we were shooting.

And I’d like to dedicate this to the women and men in the military who risk their lives on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world and may they come home safe.

Thank you.”