Archive | July 2011

AUGUST MOVIE MEME: who’s with me?

Hello all – to any of you out there who read this blog on a semi-regular basis, you already know this full well:  my blogging tendencies of late have been sporadic at best.  So in an effort to reaffirm my dedication to the film blogging world, I though it would be a good idea to set up a daily meme for the month of August to keep me focused!  And I would love the company of you all in the project.  So if you’re willing, join in on Aug. 1!  I wrote up a 31-day prospectus below for your perusal.  And I know that for some of these, it may be difficult to narrow down, so list multiple answers at your leisure!

Day 1: Your favorite sports movie
Day 2: Your least favorite sports movie
Day 3: First movie that made you cry
Day 4: Last movie that made you cry
Day 5: First movie that you watched obsessively
Day 6: Last movie you watched obsessively
Day 7: A movie that you’re ashamed to love
Day 8: A movie you’re ashamed to hate
Day 9: First movie you owned on DVD
Day 10: Last movie you bought on DVD
Day 11: First rated-R movie you saw
Day 12: Your favorite sci-fi movie
Day 13: Your least favorite sci-fi movie
Day 14: An actor/actress you’re ashamed to love
Day 15: An actor/actress you’re ashamed to hate
Day 16: First double feature you pulled
Day 17: Last double feature you pulled
Day 18: Your favorite action movie
Day 19: Your least favorite action movie
Day 20: A movie you’re ashamed to say you haven’t seen
Day 21: Your favorite underused actor/actress
Day 22: Last black-and-white movie you saw
Day 23: First movie you hated
Day 24: Last movie you hated
Day 25: Your favorite legal drama
Day 26: Your least favorite legal drama
Day 27: A movie you think should have a sequel
Day 28: A movie you think shouldn’t have had a sequel
Day 29: A movie that improved on second viewing
Day 30: Your favorite horror movie
Day 31: Your least favorite horror movie

oscar predictions UPDATED!

Well, I almost kept to my promise of completing my prediction updates in a week and a half… it took about two instead.  (Better than more than a month, though, no?)  Anyway, below is the nomination count I currently am predicting.  Take a gander at all the categories in the menu to the left, and get those comments out in this post!

9 nominations
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

7 nominations
The Artist, War Horse

6 nominations
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

5 nominations
Hugo, J. Edgar, The Tree of Life

4 nominations
Carnage, The Descendants

3 nominations
Super 8, The Help, The Iron Lady,
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

2 nominations
A Dangerous Method, Captain America,
Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, Rango,
The Ides of March

1 nomination
The Adventures of Tintin, Albert Nobbs, Beginners,
Coriolanus, Kung Fu Panda 2, Martha Marcy May Marlene,
My Week with Marilyn, Rio, The Muppets, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,
We Need to Talk About Kevin, X-Men: First Class

composer spotlight: JAMES HORNER

It’s been quite a while since the first two outings of this series, Thomas Newman and Randy Newman, so I thought it was high time to return.  I’m a big fan of soundtracks – to a fault, really.  My iTunes are dominated by them probably 2-to-1.  So in honor of how many great soundtracks there are out there, why not feature one of the most prolific working ones in the third spotlight?  He’s been known to do three, four, or more scores in one year.  So, though I couldn’t possibly feature all of the dozens of works he’s put together, here are some of my favorites…

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) – Sure, times have changed, and everyone’s all about the new, edgy J.J. Abrams Star Trek, but what of the originals?  Sure, the first one is sort of a joke now, but isn’t Khan still one of the most-loved outings of Kirk and Co.?

Testament (1983) – Sure, I’m new to the bandwagon of this underrated, low-budget drama, but the score really was interesting.  It’s some of Horner’s earlier work in mainstream films, and he manages to transcend typical ’80s tropes.

Cocoon (1985) – The flick about elderly folks finding the fountain of youth in a retirement village pool overtaken by pod people from outer space is surprisingly poignant, something mostly buoyed by the Horner original.

Aliens (1986) – It’s no easy feat to top an original in a second time around, but most agree this is the case with Aliens.  And James Horner’s rousing action score sure helps.  How do we feel about it compared to the 1978 original?

The Land Before Time (1988) – Let’s all just forget about the 20-odd sequels they’ve spawned since and think just about the classically endearing original.  It really is a perfect example of a non-Disney animated success in the ’80s.

Field of Dreams (1989) – Possibly the most tolerable Kevin Costner has ever been, Field of Dreams was driven by excellent plotting and a mellow, lovely score to match the subtle Iowa backdrop.

Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989) – Am I the only one who grew up loving this movie?  It’s assuredly a defining one for me, and the music is great fun.  The themes during the lawnmower and ant-meeting scenes are terribly exciting.

The Rocketeer (1991) – Here’s another one that perplexes me.  Such a fun movie, and yet it didn’t really connect with a lasting effect.  And gosh, this is probably arguably my favorite Horner score.

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991) – Now don’t judge me – this one is still hilarious to me as an adult, so I know I’m not crazy.  Sure, a traditional Western score can be overly simple, but it’s Copeland stylings are too much fun.

Sneakers (1992) – Horner’s no stranger to little-seen gems.  If you haven’t seen this incredibly cast thriller yet, please do.  And thanks to Branford Marsalis’s instrumental stylings, it’s jazzy and… well… sneaky.

Casper (1995) – I know this got panned by critics, but it has its moments.  Okay fine – I was a child of the ’90s.  Forgive me if I love Christina Ricci through and through.  Oh, and Horner’s score is quirky and lovable.

Jumanji (1995) – This adaptation was surely flawed, but Bonnie Hunt’s performance was pure gold.  As was the eerie and often lush background music.  Sure, it’s got a lot of similarity to the 2001 film later on this list, but still love it.

Titanic (1997) – Arguably his most famous score.  (Although working with James Cameron again may’ve outdone it in 2009.)  It made synthesizers prestigious again.  Plus it helped give the world DiCaprio and Winslet… so yeah.

The Mask of Zorro (1998) – Not unlike the Western genre, this Latino adventure firm can rely very heavily on typical themes, but Mask seamlessly combined them with Horner’s penchant for low, heavy-handed brass.

A Beautiful Mind (2001) – Sure, it didn’t really deserve Best Picture and all that, but it’s probably the clearest example of everything Horner does best.  “Kaleidoscope…” is such a great track it’s been used in trailers all over.

Avatar (2009) – His last major effort (surprising he’s held for a few years, eh?) Avatar must’ve been quite the undertaking.  It’s a big departure from what we’re used to hearing from him, but it totally pays off in the sweeping epic.

oscar predictions: LEAD ACTOR, SUPPORTING ACTOR & ACTRESS updated

The updates continue.  (In fact, you can expect the bulk of the rest of them will be completed on Tuesday.)  For now, though, the big six have been completed.  Previously, Picture, Director, and Lead Actress were revised.

This time around, we’ve got Supporting Actor, which didn’t see a whole lot of shifting (Where are the guys of 2011 and why haven’t they made themselves more obvious?), other than my decrease in over-confidence about Moneyball, which caused me to swap my Philip Seymour Hoffman placements.  Looks like Jonah Hill might be a stronger candidate than Hoffman in the end for the former, but the Oscars love him, so I’m promoting the latter.

As far as Lead Actor, things just keep getting weirder with the Sean Penn This Must Be the Place performance – the teaser is interesting but wholly bizarre, and buzz is getting a little spotty now.  Beyond that, Dujardin and Oldman got promotions due to high praise and very intriguing promo material.  Oh, and a Ryan Gosling canceling out situation seems so unfortunately likely at this point.

In the Supporting Actress category, it seems as though The Artist‘s taking over my charts and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close getting a 2011 release has shoved out Chastain and McTeer in favor of Bejo and Bullock.

oscar predictions: PICTURE, DIRECTOR, LEAD ACTRESS updated

All right folks.  For those of you wondering, some bizarro script in my coding was slowing down the ol’ blog, but all is well again!  So please come back!  Now on to new news… So may trailers and posters and release dates have been announced since last I updated the prediction pages, so I figured it was high time to get on that.  And since Tuesday is my merciful day off from work, what better time?  And this time I promise it won’t take a month and a half.  (So I expect you to hold me to that.)

Starting off with Best Picture, consider some feathers ruffled.  My uber-confidence in The Tree of Life has certainly waned now that I’ve seen it – I doubt its ability to stick with voters with its surrealistic nature.  In other news, the Weinsteins are stepping up their game by snatching up big-name awards bait such as The Artist, The Iron Lady, and W.E.  Artist may just be the strange little anomaly that ends up with 10 nominations.  Which begs the question that I’ve plagued with – which seemingly ordinary movie is going to encounter sudden end-of-year success both financially and critically and land 10 nods a la True Grit?

Next up, be sure to check out Best Director and see how you feel about my choices.  Not much has changed there other than Malick getting bumped for Fincher’s rising star.  Anyone else think Dragon Tattoo: America is going to make a lot more ripples than its Scandinavian counterpart?

And of the ladies actressing for the best of 2011 status, everyone’s constantly talking about the showdown between Glenn Close and Meryl Streep… but what of Keira Knightley?  That new trailer is telling me that she could be the Portman spoiler to Close/Streep’s Bening.  I don’t think voters are really over their obsession with youth yet.  Plus that Knightley scene looks meaty to the max.

bouncing back in august…

I sincerely will try to hold myself this one, but we shall see what comes!  I’ve been teasing the next installment of The Great Big Academy Awards Project for several months now, but I’m attempting to at last buckle down and really get going on the 80s ladies.  So look for the Best Actress nominees of the 1980s rundown to come in August.  I’ve only got a dozen or so entrants left to view!  Meanwhile, name the winner pictured above for that special prize of bragging rights!