Sunday, December 31, 2006

Indiana Jones IV to Begin Filming Next Year

From Yahoo! News:

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - George Lucas said Friday that filming of the long-awaited "Indiana Jones" movie will begin next year.

Harrison Ford, who appeared in the three earlier flicks, the last one coming in 1989, is set to star again. Lucas said he and Steven Spielberg recently finalized the script for the film.

"It's going to be fantastic. It's going to be the best one yet," the 62-year-old filmmaker said during a break from preparing for his duties as grand marshal of Monday's Rose Parade.Exact film locations have not been decided yet, but Lucas said part of the movie will be shot in Los Angeles.

The fourth chapter of the "Indiana Jones" saga, which will hit theaters in May 2008, has been in development for over a decade with several screenwriters taking a crack at the script, but it only recently gained momentum.

Lucas kept mum about the plot, but said that the latest action flick will be a "character piece" that will include "very interesting mysteries."

"I think it's going to be really cool," Lucas said.

Friday, December 29, 2006

2006: The Year in Review

The top ten list is still to come, but in the mean time, here is a list of other individual achievements from 2006.

BEST PERFORMANCE
Helen Mirren, "The Queen"

It may be cliche to say this at this point, but that doesn't stop it from being true. Mirren is nothing short of luminous in her role as Queen Elizabeth II, whose stern countenance belies the grief within as she begins to lose the faith of her subjects. It's the role of a lifetime, and Mirren inhabits it with a regality that is awe inspiring.

BEST HORROR FILM
"The Descent"

With a horror movie being released on nearly every weekend this year, it's easy to become tired of all the lame premises. It's not a genre known for creativity, "The Descent," however, is stunning. Quite possibly the scariest movie in two decades, "The Descent" follows a group of female spelunkers into an uncharted cave deep in North Carolina's Appalachian mountains, where they discover something living in the darkness. Intense, clausterphobic, and almost unbearably unnerving, "The Descent" creates an unforgettable atmosphere that just oozes dread, so by the time the creatures finally appear two thirds of the way through the film, our nerves have been wound tight and shredded to pieces. It's a horror masterpiece, the likes of which we haven't seen since "Halloween," and are unlikely to see again anytime soon.

BEST MUSICAL SCORE
"The Fountain" - composed by Clint Mansell

For Darren Aronofsky’s cerebral meditation on reincarnation and the fountain of youth, composer Clint Mansell brought in the classical group Kronos Quartet, and the Irish rock band Mogwai to produce a score that sounds like no other. From the haunting, Philip Glass-like opening track with its melancholy meandering strings, to the jaw dropping finale, with its pulsing electric guitars overlaid with frenetic violins and a soaring choir, to the heartrending solo piano of the final piece, "The Fountain" never fails to impress with it’s bold mix of old and new to describe its thousand year epic love story. In a year with relatively few great scores, it alone shines as a towering masterpiece.

FUNNIEST MOVIE
"Little Miss Sunshine"

It would be easy to put "Borat" here. And while it is gutbustingly funny, it's also equally disturbing, with overtones too serious to really be considered the funniest. Instead the title goes to Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' charming "Little Miss Sunshine", a film that made me laugh so hard that I literally ached when it was over. A clever mix of humor and heart, with a healthy dash of cynicism. This was the summer's biggest bright spot.

BIGGEST SURPRISE IN THE SMALLEST PACKAGE
"Quinceañera"

In this delicate serio-comedy by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, a 15 year old girl living in L.A. discovers that she is pregnant without ever having sex. A loving portrait of L.A.'s Hispanic community has an astonishing sense of time and place, "Quinceañera" is an unexpected, big hearted joy. It's a tiny film (made for less than $500,000 and a mostly non-professional cast) that sneaks into the heart in a big way.

BEST THROWBACK
"Brick"

In a year when veteran director Brian DePalma's "The Black Dahlia" tried and failed to be a film noir throwback, first time director Rian Johnson took the tried and true genre and made it feel new again. By transporting it into a modern day California high school, Johnson deftly avoids what could have become an embarassing parody or misfire into pure poetry. Seeing highschool students chew on hard-boiled noir dialogue while dealing with a dark mystery involving murders, teenage thugs, drug lords, and pubescent femme fatales, is a revelatory treat. "Brick" is a sexy, delicious mystery worth discovering again and again. It is to film noir what "Far From Heaven" was to Douglas Sirk melodramas.

MUST-SEE OF THE YEAR
"An Inconvenient Truth"

It may not technically be the best documentary of the year ("Why We Fight" has that distinction), but it has the potential to be the most life changing movie you will ever see. If you only see one more movie for the rest of your life...see this one. Al Gore's passionate explanation of global warming, and his grim warning of its consequences, showcases a looser, more energetic side of him than the one we saw during the 2000 presidential elections. This Al Gore wants to save the world...and the more people who see this film, the greater his chances. And yours.

BEST SOUNDTRACK
"Marie Antoinette"

To accompany her decadent, whimsical, free-associative rendering of notorious French party-girl and queen Marie Antoinette, Sofia Coppola put together an unconventional collection of 80s, post-punk, New Wave rock that creates a distinctively lilting atmophere. From The Cure to Bow Wow Wow to Gang of Four to New Order to The Strokes, this quirky and delicately exuberant collection is the girl-power party album of the year.

MOST OVERLOOKED
"Hard Candy"

Ellen Page is nothing short of astonishing in this criminally underseen thriller about an internet predator (Patrick Wilson), who meets and seduces a 14 year old girl (Page), only to find that it is not he who is the real predator. Page exudes a simmering menace as she enacts her revenge on what soon becomes the sympathetic pedophile. "Hard Candy" plays with our sympathies and emotions, pulling us back and forth in a nerve-shredding 103 minutes that left me breathless. Engrossing, deeply disturbing, and yet strangely erotic, "Hard Candy" deserves an audience far bigger than the one it got.

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
"Babel"

There are no weak links here in Alejandro González Iñárritu's sprawling multicultural drama. Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Koji Yakusho, Rinko Kikutchi, and Adriana Barazza headline an impressive cast from around the world in a tale about the failures of human communcation.

MOST WARPED
"Strangers with Candy"

You thought I was going to say "Borat" didn't you? Well I'm not afraid to admit it. I really, really liked this movie. A lot. This twisted black comedy starring Amy Sedaris and Steven Colbert, about a 42 year old woman who goes back to high school after getting out of prison, is one of the most sidesplittingly off the wall films we've seen in a long time. It's unabashedly, gloriously, shamelessly weird. You either get it or you don't. The more warped your sense of humor...the better your chances.

MOST MAGICAL
"The Illusionist"

Of the two magician movies this year, "The Illusionist" succeeds in its goals the most. While both were good films, where "The Prestige" was cold and mechanical, "The Illusionist" has the feeling of real magic. Mysterious and brooding, with its lamplit cinematography and entrancing score by Philip Glass, this one pulls of a deft slight of hand trick that "The Prestige" only thought it did.

BEST SEQUEL
"Clerks II"

Yes Dante and Randall are back...and no, they haven't grown up yet. Kevin Smith's pair of misfits that started it all are back in this gleefully profane comedy that shows that sometimes, maturity does not come with age. And more profoundly, neither does success. Plus it's damn funny.

GUILTY PLEASURE OF THE YEAR
"Snakes on a Plane"

Yes, this campy, pulpy pleasure is more fun than it has any right to be. But Samuel L. Jackson fighting off deadly snakes at 20,000 feet in this tounge-in-cheek adventure is quite simply the most fun movie-going experience of 2006.

MOST GRACEFUL FINAL BOW
Robert Altman (1925-2006), "A Prairie Home Companion"

It was Robert Altman's "Gosford Park" back in 2001 that first introduced me to the wonders of films beyond the mainstream. So I give credit to him for beginning my love of cinema. I sat down to watch "Gosford Park," and was so enthralled, so completely mesmerized, that I totally lost myself in the world of the film. I never wanted to leave, and I haven't been the same since. So when he passed away on November 20 at the age of 81, the world seemed a little bit emptier. The reason I loved film was gone - the master who directed "M*A*S*H," "Nashville," "McCabe and Mrs. Miller," "The Player," and most recently, "A Prairie Home Companion," had made his last film. It's interesting now, going back and watching "A Prairie Home Companion," how his death makes it resonate that much more. It is an elegiac, wistful ode to old institutions, to bidding farewell to the gold standards we always thought would be with us. Well, Robert Altman, one of the gold standards of American filmmaking, may be gone but his films are still with us. And for that we are eternally grateful.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Worst Films of 2006

With 2006 coming to a close, I am hard at work on my year end lists. I am still working on my Ten Best list as there are a few well received films I have yet to see. So to begin my 2006 retrospective, here are my picks for the worst of the year:


1
SILENT HILL

This whole movies based on video games trend needs to stop. Now. Because they keep churning out unwatchable dreck like this. Not only does it make little sense, but the dialogue is some of the worst of the year and the monsters are laughable. Fans of the video game seem to get it. But the rest of us are just scratching our heads. Never have I cared less how a movie ended. And then it's a shameless rip-off of "The Sixth Sense." Quite simply, it's the worst of the year.


2
THE BLACK DAHLIA

This movie is the very definition of a mess. Brian DePalma's laughable attempt at film noir is an insult to film noir. Besides having little to do with the titular murder case and making little sense, "The Black Dahlia" features some of the campiest performances seen in a mainstream movie in years, making it an unintentional comedy. It's a train wreck from start to finish.


3
SCARY MOVIE 4

I won't say anything else except that this series needs to end. Now.


4
BUBBLE

I'm beginning to think that formerly well-respected director Steven Soderbergh has lost his mind. After a string of excellent films that culminated in dual Oscar nominations in 2000 for "Erin Brockovich" and "Traffic," Soderbergh has consistently pursued increasingly bizarre projects, like this interminable, inexplicable experimental film that was released simultaneously in theaters and on DVD. Using a cast of non-professional actors (whose inexperience is painfully obvious), "Bubble" tries to tell the story of a woman whose mind is slowly unraveling while she works a dead end job at a creepy doll-factory. Yet Soderbergh squanders the potential with bad actors and unbelievable twists. A vanity project if ever there was one, that deserves its status as a failure.


5
RV

The fact that a comedy casts Robin Williams as the straight man should have sent up red flags right away. But this treacly family comedy makes that grave mistake, and casts him as a harried father that can't seem to do anything right, who takes his non-communicative family on a vacation in an RV to try and reconnect. If the comedy in this film were any staler it would grow mold. Inane slapstick and shameless sentimentalism are the order of the day here (the screenwriters even have the gall to include a speech at the end about what the message of the film is). A snooze.


6
FREEDOMLAND

When even Samuel L. Jackson looks bored, you know something's wrong. This muddled "Crash" wannabe takes the story of a white woman who accuses a black man of hijacking her car and kidnapping her child tries to be important, but comes off as bland and toothless, with tired twists you can see coming a mile away.


7
THE OMEN

Yet another pointless remake in an endless parade of pointless remakes. This time pandering to the "Left Behind" crowd, this bland take on the minor 1976 classic about the birth of the Antichrist is, like the remake of "Psycho" before it, pretty much the same film as the original…line for line, shot for shot. Except this time with lackluster performances (Liev Schreiber is no Gregory Peck) and an underachieving score (where is Jerry Goldsmith's immortal "Ave Satani?" Relegated to an obligatory end credits performance). So why remake it? Money…pure and simple. It's a cheap capitalization on the release date (6/6/06), nothing more.


8
THE PROMISE

Chen Kaige is a good director. He has made some really good films ("Farewell, My Concubine," "Together"). "The Promise" is not one of them. A master of small-scale emotion, Chen is woefully out of his element in this big budget Wuxia film (the most expensive ever made in China), about a little girl who makes a deal with a goddess to become the most beautiful woman in the world, in exchange for living a life without love - and the two warriors fighting for her hand. It's a great premise, but it is done in by some of the most laughably bad visual effects in years. All involved are just trying way too hard to make a beautiful romantic martial arts fantasy on the level of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Hero," or "House of Flying Daggers." But this doesn't come close.


9
THE LAKE HOUSE

I'll admit I was intrigued by the premise - two people fall in love by communicating via letters that travel through time via a mysterious mail box. It may seem shamelessly romantic, but that's not always a bad thing (for a good example, see "Moulin Rouge"). But this is just silly. The plot is convoluted at best, and downright ridiculous at worst. Predictable and saccharine in the extreme (and it's logic is extremely scattershot), "The Lake House" is the epitome of a bad romantic comedy. Suspending your disbelief is one thing. Turning your brain off entirely is a completely different matter.


10
SAW III

Another needless sequel. "Saw III" is just another excuse to put blood on the screen and little else. Which it does, by the gallon. In fact it becomes so laughably extreme that one almost wonders why they even bothered to have a story when it is obvious that the point was to have every second of the film soaked in blood.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

New Additions to the National Film Registry

From the Library of Congress:

Librarian of Congress Adds Home Movie, Silent Films and Hollywood Classics to Film Preservation List

Many Americans typically spend the holiday season flocking to movie theaters nationwide. But even as they enjoy the latest releases, vast portions of the nation’s movie heritage are vanishing.

It is estimated that 50 percent of the films produced before 1950, and 80 to 90 percent made before 1920, have disappeared forever. The Library of Congress is working to stanch those losses by recognizing, and working with many organizations to preserve, films that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today added 25 motion pictures to the National Film Registry (see attached list) to be preserved for all time, bringing the total number of films on the registry to 450.


The films added are:

Applause (1929)
The Big Trail (1930)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
The Curse of Quon Gwon (1916-17)
Daughter of Shanghai (1937)
Drums of Winter [Uksuum Cauyai] (1988)
Early Abstractions #1-5, 7,10 (1939-56)
Fargo (1996)
Flesh and the Devil (1927)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Halloween (1978)
In the Street (1948)
The Last Command (1928)
Notorious (1946)
Red Dust (1932)
Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1971-72)
Rocky (1976)
sex, lies and videotape (1989)
Siege (1940)
St. Louis Blues (1929)
The T.A.M.I. Show (1964)
Tess of the Storm Country (1914)
Think of Me First as a Person (1960-75)
A Time Out of War (1954)
Traffic in Souls (1913)

Here They Go Again

From The Envelope:

Officially, "Dreamgirls" is now a box-office hit that'll probably earn more than $100 million, which is the magic number movies usually need to surpass in order to win the Oscar for best picture.

So now we must ask: Can it really win?

Click here to finish reading "Oscar Mystery: Can 'Dreamgirls' Win Best Picture?"


It's official. They're obsessed!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays!

There will be no updates today or tomorrow (and probably Tuesday as well...although I will finally see Dreamgirls that day!).

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and happy holidays! May whatever you celebrate this season be filled with joy!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Something for Everyone This Christmas

From the Hollywood Reporter:

Hollywood is hanging out a number of stockings as Christmas weekend arrives. Among the new movies, broad appeal is the name of the game. Three of the five wide releases this frame carry a PG rating as studios look to lure nice audiences rather than naughty ones.


20th Century Fox's "Night at the Museum," starring Ben Stiller, looks most likely to dominate the weekend. Two sports-themed movies -- MGM's "Rocky Balboa," which bowed Wednesday, and Warner Bros. Pictures' "We Are Marshall," based on the 1970 Marshall football team tragedy -- also are looking to claim their share of the till. "Rocky" already won its first round, grossing an estimated $6.2 million Wednesday to easily claim the title of top-grossing film for the day.


Universal Pictures' Robert De Niro-directed spy movie "The Good Shepherd" is courting the adult audience.

With Christmas Eve falling on Sunday, that night will be a quiet one at the box office, making prospective weekend totals difficult to predict. On Christmas Day, there are two other developments that will further complicate holiday weekend estimates.


On that day, MGM will target disaffected teens and holiday scrooges as it opens "Black Christmas," a horror flick from the Weinstein Co. Meanwhile, Paramount Pictures will expand "Dreamgirls," which it co-produced with DreamWorks, to 852 theaters. The Bill Condon-directed musical has performed strongly in special "roadshow" engagements that launched in Los Angeles and New York. The combined opening of "Black Christmas" and the wide expansion of "Dreamgirls" could affect the Monday grosses of the four wide releases bowing this week.

Gus Van Sant Arrested

From CNN:

PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) -- Filmmaker Gus Van Sant, whose credits include "Finding Forrester" and "Drugstore Cowboy," has been arrested here on a drunken driving charge, police said.

Sgt. Brian Schmautz, Portland Police Bureau spokesman, said Van Sant, 54, was arrested at 1:48 a.m. Thursday. A breath test showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.19 percent, Schmautz said. That's more than twice the state limit, 0.08 percent.

An officer saw that the headlights on Van Sant's vehicle weren't on, Schmautz said. Van Sant, who lives in Portland, had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, smelled of alcohol and failed the sobriety tests, Schmautz said.

Calls to his film company seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Van Sant also directed "My Own Private Idaho" and "Good Will Hunting." Several of his films have been set in Oregon, including "Elephant," about a high-school shooting, which won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003. He has been filming "Paranoid Park" in and around the city.

My Latest Best Picture Predictions

THE DEPARTED
DREAMGIRLS
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
THE QUEEN

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Look Back at Top Ten Lists Past

With the end of 2006 just around the corner, I have already begun working on my top ten list of films for the year. In that spirit, I thought I would look back at all my top ten lists I have compiled since my love of film criticism began. Agree? Disagree? What do you think I should have included? Let me know what you think!

2005


1. King Kong
2. Brokeback Mountain
3. Munich
4. The New World
5. Good Night, and Good Luck
6. A History of Violence
7. The Squid and the Whale
8. The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
9. Me and You and Everyone We Know
10. Crash


2004


1. Dogville
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. Sideways
4. The Door in the Floor
5. Vera Drake
6. Closer
7. I Heart Huckabees
8. The Aviator
9. Finding Neverland
10. Garden State


2003


1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
3. In America
4. Mystic River
5. Lost in Translation
6. Kill Bill: Vol. 1
7. Finding Nemo
8. The Barbarian Invasions
9. The Triplets of Belleville
10. I'm Not Scared


2002


1. The Hours
2. The Pianist
3. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
4. Spirited Away
5. Adaptation
6. Bowling for Columbine
7. About Schmidt
8. Far From Heaven
9. Chicago
10. Y Tu Mamá También


2001


1. Gosford Park
2. In the Bedroom
3. Mulholland Drive
4. Moulin Rouge
5. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
6. Black Hawk Down
7. The Royal Tenenbaums
8. Ghost World
9. Hearts in Atlantis
10. Amélie


2000


1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2. Dancer in the Dark
3. Gladiator
4. Paragraph 175
5. Traffic
6. Almost Famous
7. Chocolat
8. Quills
9. Unbreakable
10. Cast Away


1999


1. American Beauty
2. All About My Mother
3. Angela's Ashes
4. Boys Don't Cry
5. Being John Malkovich
6. The Sixth Sense
7. Fight Club
8. The Red Violin
9. The Green Mile
10. Toy Story 2

TIME's Top Ten

1. Letters from Iwo Jima
2. Borat
3. The Departed
4. United 93
5. The Queen
6. Pan's Labyrinth
7. The Good Shepherd
8. Cars
9. District B13
10. Curse of the Golden Flower

"Nativity" Flops Overseas


From Variety:

After a soft start, "The Nativity Story" is showing respectable legs at the domestic box office in the days leading up to Christmas, but it's been shunned by moviegoers outside the States. The $35 million New Line pic opened the weekend of Dec. 1 to an unimpressive $7.8 million at 3,083 playdates, finishing a distant fourth to the third frames of "Happy Feet" and "Casino Royale" and the soph sesh of "Deja Vu."

The debut number was viewed as something of a disappointment, given the blockbuster perf by Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" in 2004 and New Line's marketing of "Nativity" to church groups.

Click here to read the full article.

Maybe that's because it isn't any good. Catherine Hardwicke should stick to edgier material...it suits her better.

Harry Potter 7 Title Revealed

"Dreamgirls" Overkill?

From Oscarwatch:
What do you think, Oscarwatchers. Dreamgirls, is it covered too much on the LA Times' Envelope? Is there a Geffen connection? Are other sites covering it too much? Carpetbagger started it and Wells links, Poland links. Many are intrigued by this idea. What are your thoughts?

Good lord yes! I'm glad somebody brought this up. The Envelope has been Dreamgirls central since day 1. I mean, yes I can't wait to see it, I hope its as wonderful as it is touted to be, but this is overkill. Such over-hyping can ruin a movie. I just think that touting the film as the movie that WILL win Best Picture is a bit premature...considering it hasn't won ANY Best Pic awards yet. Wait till the Globes, then we'll see.

"Paprika" Still in the Oscar Race

From The Envelope:
A lot depends on whether "Paprika" is in this Oscar running or not. A while ago the academy cited it as being among the 16 films potentially eligible for the category of best animated feature. Sixteen is a crucial number. If any of those potential contenders falls out, Oscar rules say that the number of nominees in the category must drop from 5 to 3.

Reports abound that "Paprika's" release has been bumped from 2006 to next March, April or — the latest rumor — May. Sony Pictures Classics' own awards site feeds the misconception by not citing it as a kudos contender (CLICK HERE). It wasn't mentioned at the Golden Globes where the new category for animated fare only listed three titles.

However, a studio rep insists that Satoshi Kon's anime feature about a dream machine has already had its qualifying run, so the rumors are wrong and the issue is settled. The reason "Paprika" wasn't in the running for a Globe was simply because foreign films with English subtitles aren't eligible.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Golden Globe Odds

From Movie City News:

December 18, New York– The 64th Annual Golden Globe awards, which will air January 15th, is sparking an interest throughout the nation with the announcement of its nominees this past Thursday. As the public chooses their favorites, sportsbooks are creating odds for one of the biggest entertainment betting nights of the year.

Whether it’s at a “Golden Party” or in an on-line sportsbook, entertainment gambling on award shows represent a huge increase in betting. As the public speculation mounts, BetUS.com, the largest and most respected sportsbook on the web, posted odds on who will have the most “Golden” year.

BetUS.com posted the following odds regarding the Golden Globes:

Best Motion Picture - Drama
Babel - 4/1
Bobby - 40/1
The Departed - 10/12
Little Children - 10/1
The Queen - 3/2

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Penelope Cruz- Volver - 6/1
Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal - 12/1
Maggie Gyllenhaal - SherryBaby - 30/1
Helen Mirren - The Queen - 1/10
Kate Winslet - Little Children - 10/1

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Leonardo DiCaprio - Blood Diamond - 50/1
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed - 10/1
Peter O’Toole - Venus - 5/2
Will Smith - The Pursuit of Happiness - 8/1
Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland - 1/3

Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Borat - 8/1
The Devil Wears Prada - 30/1
Dreamgirls - 1/10
Little Miss Sunshine - 5/1
Thank You for Smoking - 30/1

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Annette Bening - Running With Scissors - 5/2
Toni Collette - Little Miss Sunshine - 35/1
Beyonce Knowles - Dreamgirls - 10/1
Meryl Streep - The Devil Wears Prada - 1/5
Renee Zellweger - Miss Potter - 35/1

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or
MusicalSacha Baron Cohen - Borat - 1/4
Johnny Depp – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest - 3/1
Aaron Eckhart – Thank You for Smoking - 10/1
Chiwetel Ejiofor – Kinky Boots - 25/1
Will Ferrell – Stranger Than Fiction - 10/1

Best Director- Motion Picture
Clint Eastwood – Flags of our Fathers - 30/1
Clint Eastwood – Letters from Iwo Jima - 6/1
Stephen Frears – The Queen - 3/1
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - Babel - 15/1
Martin Scorsese – The Departed - 2/7

Best Animated Feature Film
Cars - 3/1
Happy Feet - 1/5
Monster House - 10/1

Best Foreign Language Film
Apocalypto (USA) - 2/1
Letters from Iow Jima (USA/Japan) - 4/1
The Lives of Others (Germany) - 10/1
Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico) - 3/1
Volver (Spain) - 3/2

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Adriana Barraza – Babel - 5/1
Cate Blanchett – Notes on a Scandal - 2/1
Emily Blunt – The Devil Wears Prada - 10/1
Jennifer Hudson – Dreamgirls - 10/1
Rinko Kikuchi - Babel - 5/1

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Ben Affleck – Hollywoodland - 15/1
Eddie Murphy – Dreamgirls - 20/1
Jack Nicholson – The Departed - 2/1
Brad Pitt - Babel - 1/2
Mark Wahlberg – The Departed - 5/1

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Guillermo Arriaga – Babel - 2/1
Todd Field and Tom Perrotta – Little Children - 20/1
Patrick Marber – Notes on a Scandal - 5/1
William Monahan – The Departed - 1/2
Peter Morgan – The Queen - 5/1

Click here to read the entire press release.

"The Departed," "Dreamgirls," Take Top Honors at Satellites

From The Hollywood Reporter:

"The Departed" and "Dreamgirls" were named best motion picture, drama and best motion picture, comedy or musical at the 11th annual Satellite Awards, which were announced Sunday by the International Press Academy.

"Dreamgirls" also earned awards for best director Bill Condon -- who tied for that honor with Clint Eastwood for "Flags of our Fathers" -- as well as supporting actor Jennifer Hudson, and sound (editing and mixing).

"The Departed" also earned best actor in a supporting role for Leonard DiCaprio, best adapted screenplay for William Monahan and best ensemble. Best dramatic acting honors went to Helen Mirren for "The Queen" and Forest Whitaker for "The Last King of Scotland." Top comedy acting awards went to Meryl Streep for "The Devil Wears Prada" and Joseph Cross for "Running with Scissors."

Other awards included: Best foreign language film, "Volver"; animated or mixed media, "Pan's Labyrinth"; documentary, "Deliver Us from Evil."

"Flags of Our Fathers" also earned awards for cinematography and art direction and production design.

Click here to read the full story.

Click here to see the full list of winners.

Southeastern Film Critics Name "The Departed" Best Film

2006 Southeastern Film Critics Association Poll Results

PICTURE:
1. The Departed - 239 points
2. Letters From Iwo Jima - 217
3. The Queen - 193
4. United 93 - 187
5. Little Miss Sunshine - 151
6. Notes On a Scandal - 144
7. Babel - 127
8. Pan's Labyrinth - 101
9. Little Children - 91
10. Thank You For Smoking - 83

FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM: Pan's Labyrinth
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese - The Departed
ACTOR: Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland
ACTRESS: Helen Mirren - The Queen
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jackie Earle Haley - Little Children
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Little Miss Sunshine
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Departed
DOCUMENTARY: An Inconvenient Truth
ANIMATED FILM: Cars
WYATT AWARD (for the best "Southern" film): Shut Up & Sing

Thanks to Oscarwatch for the info.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Weekend Box Office Estimates

1. The Pursuit of Happyness - $27,000,000
2. Eragon - $23,450,000
3. Charlotte's Web - $12,026,000
4. Happy Feet -$8,520,000
5. The Holiday - $8,200,000
6. Apocalypto - $7,723,000
7. Blood Diamond - $6,270,000
8. Casino Royale - $5,700,000
9. The Nativity Story - $4,700,000
10. Unaccompanied Minors - $3,675,000

Toronto Critics Announce Nominations

From Oscarwatch:
TORONTO FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES NOMINEES FOR 2006 AWARDS

The Toronto Film Critics Association today announced its nominees for the TFCA's 2006 awards. Awards will be announced on Wednesday, December 20th.

A complete list of the TFCA 2006 Nominees follows:

BEST PICTURE
"The Departed"

"The Queen"
"United 93"

BEST PERFORMANCE, MALE
Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat: Cultural
Learnings of Americafor Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan "

Ryan Gosling, "Half Nelson"
Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland "

BEST PERFORMANCE, FEMALE
Penelope Cruz, "Volver"

Judi Dench, "Notes on a Scandal
"Helen Mirren, "The Queen"

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE, MALE
Danny Huston, "The Proposition"

Michael Sheen, "The Queen"
Mark Wahlberg, "The Departed"

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE, FEMALE
Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal"

Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"
Rinko Kikuchi, " Babel "

BEST DIRECTOR
Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, "L'Enfant"

Stephen Frears, "The Queen"
Paul Greengrass, "United 93"
Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"

BEST SCREENPLAY
Guillermo Arriaga, " Babel "

William Monahan, "The Departed"
Peter Morgan, "The Queen"

BEST CANADIAN FILM
"The Journals of Knud Rasmussen"

"Manufactured Landscapes
"Monkey Warfare"
"Six Figures"

BEST FIRST FEATURE
"Brick", directed by Rian Johnson

"Little Miss Sunshine", directed by Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
"Thank You for Smoking", directed by Jason Reitman

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
"Happy Feet"

"Over the Hedge"
"A Scanner Darkly"

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
"L'Enfant"

"Pan's Labyrinth"
"Volver"

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
"Deliver Us from Evil"

"An Inconvenient Truth"
"Manufactured Landscapes"

The Toronto Film Critics Association is made up of film critics representing a cross-section of Toronto 's media, including daily and weekly newspapers, film magazines, radio and television.

Newsweek Names Top Ten

1. Army of Shadows
2. Little Miss Sunshine
3. The Queen
4. Letters from Iwo Jima
5. The Departed
6. Half Nelson
7. Borat
8. Dreamgirls
9. Venus
10. Volver

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16191042/site/newsweek/

Friday, December 15, 2006

Seven Films Eligible for Visual Effects Oscar

From AMPAS:

Beverly Hills, CA — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that seven films are in consideration for achievement in Visual Effects for the 79th Academy Awards®.

The films are listed below in alphabetical order:

“Casino Royale”
“Eragon”
“Night at the Museum”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”
“Poseidon”
“Superman Returns”
“X-Men The Last Stand”

On Wednesday, January 17, the Academy’s Visual Effects Award nominating committee will view 15-minute film excerpts from each of the seven shortlisted films. Following the screenings, members will vote to nominate three films for Oscar consideration.

Nominations for the 79th Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, January 23, 2007, at 5:30 a.m. PST in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.


Click here to read the rest of the Academy press release.

Alejandro González Iñárritu's Reaction to "Babel's" 7 Golden Globe Nominations

"This is a recognition for Muslims, for Catholics, for Jewish, for Germans, Italians, Mexicans, Americans. So many people were involved that it's a United Nations celebration."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sacha Baron Cohen Reacts to Golden Globe Nomination

STATEMENT FROM SACHA BARON COHEN ON BEHALF OF RECEIVING TWO GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS FOR
BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN; FILM NOMINATED FOR BEST COMEDY OR MUSICAL; BARON COHEN NOMINATED FOR BEST ACTOR

“I am extremely honored. I’m very proud as well for my fellow writers as well as our director Larry Charles, and our producer Jay Roach, and am very thankful for the HFPA’s belief and acknowledgment of our film. I have been trying to let Borat know this great news but for the last 4 hours both of Kazakhstan’s telephones have been engaged. Eventually, Premier Nazarbayev answered and said he would pass on the message as soon as Borat returned from Iran, where he is guest of honor at the Holocaust Denial Conference.”


Movie City News

My Golden Globes Reaction

First off let me say, Bobby!? Why? Where's Flags of Our Fathers? Bobby the soap opera gets nominated over Flags the masterpiece? Are they insane?

Now that that is out of my system, let's look at the nominations. Maggie Gyllenhaal of Sherrybaby beat out Sienna Miller of Factory Girl for a Best Actress nomination. Sacha Baron Cohen WILL win Best Comedy Actor for Borat, although I think Dreamgirls will take the Best Picture award.

Clint Eastwood got nominated twice, which probably lessens his chances at a win. And the Hollywood Foreign Press Association just proved how nuts they are for Johnny Depp and Renee Zellweger by nominating them for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Miss Potter, respectively. Apparently they will get nominated for anything they do.

In the Best Score category, what the hell is Nomad? Where did that come from? The other four I kind of expected, but Nomad?? As of right now I'll be pulling for Clint Mansell's The Fountain in that category (I have yet to hear The Painted Veil). It's a Kazakhstani film though, is the the HFPA's way of apologizing for showing so much love for Borat?

Babel garnered the most nominations with 8, and has a pretty good shot of upsetting favorite The Departed for Best Picture.

One of the most shocking omissions was Little Miss Sunshine for Best Screenplay. The Academy, however, almost certainly won't ignore it.

And the Leo lovefest continues...he was nominated for his performance in both Blood Diamond and The Departed. I think that's a disservice to several other worthy performances. Sure, notice him for The Departed, but Blood Diamond too? That's a bit much.

I was glad to see Chiwetel Ejiofor nominated for Best Comedy Actor for Kinky Boots. It's one of the year's most overlooked delights, and he is great as the strongwilled transvestite, Lola. I was considering predicting him, but decided against it because of the film's lack of buzz. I'm glad they proved me wrong on this one.

The 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards will be presented in a live telecast on January 15th.

Golden Globe Nominations Announced

1. BEST MOTION PICTURE - DRAMA
BABEL
BOBBY
THE DEPARTED
LITTLE CHILDREN
THE QUEEN

2. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE - DRAMA
PENELOPE CRUZ — VOLVER
JUDI DENCH — NOTES ON A SCANDAL
MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL — SHERRYBABY
HELEN MIRREN — THE QUEEN
KATE WINSLET — LITTLE CHILDREN

3. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE - DRAMA
LEONARDO DICAPRIO — BLOOD DIAMOND
LEONARDO DICAPRIO — THE DEPARTED
PETER O'TOOLE — VENUS
WILL SMITH — THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
FOREST WHITAKER — THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND

4. BEST MOTION PICTURE - COMEDY OR MUSICAL
BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
DREAMGIRLS
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING

5. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE - COMEDY OR MUSICAL
ANNETTE BENING — RUNNING WITH SCISSORS
TONI COLLETTE — LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
BEYONCE KNOWLES — DREAMGIRLS
MERYL STREEP — THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
RENEE ZELLWEGER — MISS POTTER

6. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE - COMEDY OR MUSICAL
SACHA BARON COHEN — BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN
JOHNNY DEPP — PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST
AARON ECKHART — THANK YOU FOR SMOKING
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR — KINKY BOOTS
WILL FERRELL — STRANGER THAN FICTION

7. BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
CARS
HAPPY FEET
MONSTER HOUSE

8. BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
APOCALYPTO (USA)
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA (USA/JAPAN)
THE LIVES OF OTHERS (GERMANY)
PAN'S LABYRINTH (MEXICO)
VOLVER (SPAIN)

9. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
ADRIANA BARRAZA — BABEL
CATE BLANCHETT — NOTES ON A SCANDAL
EMILY BLUNT — THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
JENNIFER HUDSON — DREAMGIRLS
RINKO KIKUCHI — BABEL

10. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
BEN AFFLECK — HOLLYWOODLAND
EDDIE MURPHY — DREAMGIRLS
JACK NICHOLSON — THE DEPARTED
BRAD PITT — BABEL
MARK WAHLBERG — THE DEPARTED

11. BEST DIRECTOR - MOTION PICTURE
CLINT EASTWOOD — FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS
CLINT EASTWOOD — LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
STEPHEN FREARS — THE QUEEN
ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU — BABEL
MARTIN SCORSESE — THE DEPARTED

12. BEST SCREENPLAY - MOTION PICTURE
GUILLERMO ARRIAGA — BABEL
TODD FIELD & TOM PERROTTA — LITTLE CHILDREN
PATRICK MARBER — NOTES ON A SCANDAL
WILLIAM MONAHAN — THE DEPARTED
PETER MORGAN — THE QUEEN

13. BEST ORIGINAL SCORE - MOTION PICTURE
ALEXANDRE DESPLAT — THE PAINTED VEIL
CLINT MANSELL — THE FOUNTAIN
GUSTAVO SANTAOLALLA — BABEL
CARLO SILIOTTO — NOMAD
HANS ZIMMER — THE DA VINCI CODE

14. BEST ORIGINAL SONG - MOTION PICTURE
"A FATHER'S WAY" - THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS Music by: Seal and Christopher Bruce Lyrics by: Seal
"LISTEN" - DREAMGIRLS Music & Lyrics by: Henry Krieger, Anne Preven, Scott Cutler and Beyonce Knowles
"NEVER GONNA BREAK MY FAITH" - BOBBY Music & Lyrics by: Bryan Adams, Eliot Kennedy and Andrea Remanda
"THE SONG OF THE HEART" - HAPPY FEET Music & Lyrics by: Prince Rogers Nelson
"TRY NOT TO REMEMBER" - HOME OF THE BRAVE Music & Lyrics by: Sheryl Crow

Click here to continue reading.

Morricone to Recieve Honorary Oscar

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Ennio Morricone, who has composed more than 300 motion picture scores during a 45-year career, will receive an honorary Oscar from the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The honor will be presented to him Feb. 25 at the 79th Annual Academy Awards "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music."

Morricone has been nominated five times for best original score -- for "Days of Heaven" (1978), "The Mission" (1986), "The Untouchables" (1987), "Bugsy" (1991) and "Malena" (2000) -- but has never taken home an Oscar.

He is best known for his work on such Italian films as Sergio Leone's spaghetti Western "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and the epic gangster tale "Once Upon a Time in America" as well as Giuseppe Tornatore's nostalgic "Cinema Paradiso." Morricone also has composed scores for such films as "Bulworth," "In the Line of Fire," "La Cage Aux Folles" and "Two Mules for Sister Sara." His current project is Tornatore's "Leningrad," which is scheduled for a 2008 release.

Click here to read the full story.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"Little Children" Promo Parody

Farewell, Peter Boyle

Golden Globe Predictions

The 2006 Golden Globe nominations will be announced on Thursday. I am going to go out on a limb this year and do something I have never done before: predict the Golden Globe nominees. I usually try to only predict the Oscars, since the Globes tend to be so idiosyncratic. But this year, I'm going to be brave and give it a try. Here goes:

BEST PICTURE (Drama)
Babel
The Departed
Flags of Our Fathers
Little Children
The Queen

BEST ACTOR (Drama)
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed
Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
Peter O'Toole, Venus
Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

BEST ACTRESS (Drama)
Penelope Cruz, Volver
Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
Sienna Miller, Factory Girl
Helen Mirren, The Queen
Kate Winslet, Little Children

BEST PICTURE (Comedy or Musical)
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
The Devil Wears Prada
Dreamgirls
Little Miss Sunshine
Stranger than Fiction

BEST ACTOR (Comedy or Musical)
Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat
Aaron Eckhart, Thank You for Smoking
Will Ferrell, Stranger than Fiction
Jamie Foxx, Dreamgirls
Greg Kinnear, Little Miss Sunshine

BEST ACTRESS (Comedy or Musical)
Annette Bening, Running with Scissors
Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
Beyonce Knowles, Dreamgirls
Catherine O'Hara, For Your Consideration
Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Ben Affleck, Hollywoodland
Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Jack Nicholson, The Departed
Brad Pitt, Babel

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Vera Farmiga, The Departed
Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikutchi, Babel
Emma Thompson, Stranger than Fiction

BEST DIRECTOR
Bill Condon, Dreamgirls
Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears, The Queen
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Babel
Martin Scorsese, The Departed

BEST SCREENPLAY
Guillermo Arriaga, Babel
William Monahan, The Departed
Todd Field, Tom Perrotta, Little Children
Michael Ardnt, Little Miss Sunshine
Peter Morgan, The Queen

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Apocalypto
Letters from Iwo Jima
The Lives of Others
Pan's Labyrinth
Volver

Peter Boyle Dead at 71

Peter Boyle, best known as Frank on the television show Everybody Loves Raymond and as the Monster in Young Frankenstein, died today due to complications from multiple myeloma and heart disease.

Always the lovable curmudgeon, Boyle was a talented comedian who brought smiles and laughter to many. He will be missed.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Actual Weekend Box Office Totals

1. Apocalypto - $15,005,604
2. Happy Feet - $12,904,413
3. The Holiday - $12,778,913
4. Casino Royale - $8,926,207
5. Blood Diamond - $8,648,324
6. Deja Vu - $6,019,672
7. Unaccompanied Minors - $5,815,474
8. The Nativity Story - $5,713,854
9. Deck the Halls - $3,993,188
10. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause - $3,254,729

Box Office Mojo

"Little Children" Named Best Film by San Francisco Critics

Best Picture – Little Children
Best Director – Paul Greengrass, United 93
Best Actor – Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat
Best Actress – Helen Mirren, The Queen
Best Supporting Actor – Jackie Earle Haley, Little Childen
Best Supporting Actress – Adriana Barraza, Babel
Best Screenplay – Little Children
Best Foreign Film – Pan’s Labyrinth

BFCA Award Nominations

NOMINEES FOR THE 12TH ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS

BEST PICTURE:
Babel
Blood Diamond
The Departed
Dreamgirls
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Children
Little Miss Sunshine
Notes on a Scandal
The Queen
United 93

BEST ACTOR:
Leonardo DiCaprio – “Blood Diamond”
Leonardo DiCaprio – “The Departed”
Ryan Gosling – “Half Nelson”
Peter O’Toole – “Venus”
Will Smith – “The Pursuit of Happyness”
Forest Whitaker – “The Last King of Scotland”

BEST ACTRESS:
Penelope Cruz – “Volver”
Judi Dench – “Notes on a Scandal”
Helen Mirren – “The Queen”
Meryl Streep – “The Devil Wears Prada”
Kate Winslet – “Little Children”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Ben Affleck – “Hollywoodland”
Alan Arkin – “Little Miss Sunshine”
Adam Beach – “Flags of Our Fathers”
Djimon Hounsou – “Blood Diamond”
Eddie Murphy – “Dreamgirls”
Jack Nicholson – “The Departed”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Adriana Barraza – “Babel”
Cate Blanchett – “Notes on a Scandal”
Jennifer Hudson – “Dreamgirls”
Rinko Kikuchi – “Babel”
Catherine O’Hara – “For Your Consideration”
Emma Thompson – “Stranger Than Fiction”

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE:
Babel
Bobby
The Departed
Dreamgirls
Little Miss Sunshine
A Prairie Home Companion

BEST DIRECTOR:
Bill Condon – “Dreamgirls”
Clint Eastwood – “Letters from Iwo Jima”
Stephen Frears – “The Queen”
Paul Greengrass – “United 93”
Martin Scorsese – “The Departed”

BEST WRITER:
Michael Arndt – “Little Miss Sunshine”
Guillermo Arriaga – “Babel”
Todd Field and Tom Perrotta – “Little Children”
Zach Helm – “Stranger Than Fiction”
William Monahan – “The Departed”
Peter Morgan – “The Queen”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
“Cars"
“Flushed Away”
“Happy Feet"
“Monster House”
“Over the Hedge”

BEST YOUNG ACTOR:
Cameron Bright – “Thank You For Smoking”
Joseph Cross – “Running With Scissors”
Paul Dano – “Little Miss Sunshine”
Freddie Highmore – “A Good Year”
Jaden Christopher Syre Smith – “The Pursuit of Happyness”

BEST YOUNG ACTRESS:
Ivana Baquero – “Pan’s Labyrinth”
Abigail Breslin – “Little Miss Sunshine”
Shareeka Epps – “Half Nelson”
Dakota Fanning – “Charlotte’s Web”
Keke Palmer – “Akeelah and the Bee”

BEST COMEDY MOVIE:
Borat
For Your Consideration
Little Miss Sunshine
The Devil Wears Prada
Thank You For Smoking

BEST FAMILY FILM (LIVE ACTION):
Akeelah and the Bee
Charlotte’s Web
Flicka
Lassie
Pirates of the Caribbean 2

BEST PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION:
Elizabeth I
The Librarian
Nightmares & Dreamscapes
The Ron Clark Story
When the Levees Broke

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:
Apocalypto
Days of Glory
Letters from Iwo Jima
Pan’s Labyrinth
Volver
Water

BEST SONG:
“I Need to Wake Up” – Melissa Etheridge – “An Inconvenient Truth”
“Listen” – Beyonce – “Dreamgirls”
“My Little Girl” – Tim McGraw – “Flicka”
“The Neighbor” – Dixie Chicks – “Shut Up & Sing”
“Never Gonna Break My Faith” – Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige – “Bobby”
“Ordinary Miracle” – Sarah McLachlan – “Charlotte’s Web”

BEST SOUNDTRACK:
Babel
Cars
Dreamgirls
Happy Feet
Marie Antoinette

BEST COMPOSER:
Philip Glass – “The Illusionist”
Clint Mansell – “The Fountain”
Thomas Newman – “The Good German”
Gustavo Santaolalla – “Babel”
Howard Shore – “The Departed”
Hans Zimmer – “The Da Vinci Code”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:
An Inconvenient Truth
Shut Up & Sing
This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Who Killed the Electric Car?
Wordplay

Thanks to Oscarwatch for the info.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Weekend Box Office Estimates

1. Apocalypto - $14,166,000
2. The Holiday - $13,500,000
3. Happy Feet - $12,718,000
4. Casino Royale - $8,800,000
5. Blood Diamond - $8,515,000
6. Unaccompanied Minors - $6,205,000
7. Deja Vu - $6,070,000
8. The Nativity Story - $5,575,000
9. Deck the Halls - $3,925,000
10. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause - $3,311,000

"United 93" Named Best Film of the Year By New York Critics

The New York Film Critics Circle announced their awards this afternoon:

Best Picture
United 93

Best Actor
Forest Whitaker
The Last King of Scotland

Best Actress
Helen Mirren
The Queen

Best Director
Martin Scorsese
The Departed

Best Foreign Film
Army of Shadows

Best Screenplay
Peter Morgan
The Queen

Best Supporting Actor
Jackie Earle Haley
Little Children

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Hudson
Dreamgirls

Best Cinematographer
Guillermo Navarro
Pan's Labyrinth

Best Non-Fiction Film
Deliver Us From Evil

Best First Film
Ryan Fleck
Half Nelson

Best Animated Film
Happy Feet

"United 93" Makes a Comeback

Yesterday was a pretty big day on the 2006 awards calendar, with year end awards and lists being announced by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Boston Film Critics Association, the American Film Institute, New York Online Critics, and Washington D.C. Critics.

And the results are all over the map. Sure Helen Mirren cleaned up the Best Actress prizes (she has won every one up to this point) for The Queen, as has Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland (although he tied with Sacha Baron Cohen for Borat with LAFCA).

But overall, the Best Picture choices were all over the map, going to The Departed, The Queen, Letters from Iwo Jima, and United 93. Each one picked a different winner. AFI doesn't choose winners, just a top ten list, and they unexpectedly snubbed both The Departed and The Queen.

So what does all this mean? Well, nothing really. It only helps to muddy the waters. Although United 93 came back in a big way today, taking home 3 awards and 2 runner-up mentions, and one mention in a top ten list.

Basically, it's back in the race, having been left for dead by many prognosticators (including myself) before the preliminary awards started coming in.

It's looking like the year of the underdogs. With today's surge by United 93 and Clint Eastwood's latebreaking blitzkrieg with Letters from Iwo Jima, the field looks a lot different than it did a week ago.

The biggest loser, so far, seems to be Babel. It was mentioned in the top ten list of both AFI (which seemed to think that The Devil Wears Prada, Inside Man, and Happy Feet were more worthy of praise than The Departed and The Queen) and the New York Online Critics, yet it failed to win a single competitive award today. Could it be that it is in danger of losing its early front runner status to United 93?

I hope not. United 93 is a good film. But it is not a great one. Not by a longshot. The only reason it would make the top five is patriotic sentimentality. There will be more, and probably better, films made on the subject of 9/11.

Babel, on the other hand, is a great film. And deserves a spot among the top 5. But there are lots of awards still to go, so it still has a chance.

Another surprise was that Volver failed to win a Foreign Language Film award. It recieved 2 runner-up notices, but consistently lost to Germany's The Lives of Others (which seems to be making a surge to win the Oscar a'la No Man's Land against heavy favorite Amélie in 2001), and most notably, Mexico's Pan's Labyrinth. Expect to see all three films vying for the Academy Award.

It's was an interesting day for us awards junkies. It has only reminded us that when it comes to awards prognosticating, nobody knows anything.

And this year, the preliminaries aren't helping.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Washington DC Critics Announce Awards

Best Picture: United 93
Best Director: Martin Scorsese, The Departed
Best Actor: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
Best Actress: Helen Mirren, The Queen
Best Supporting Actor: Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Best Breakthrough Performance: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Best Ensemble Cast: Little Miss Sunshine
Best Original Screenplay: Michael Ardnt, Little Miss Sunshine
Best Adapted Screenplay: Jason Reitman, Thank You for Smoking
Best Animated Feature: Happy Feet
Best Documentary: An Inconvenient Truth
Best Foreign Language Film: Pan's Labyrinth, Mexico
Best Art Direction: Marie Antoinette

Thanks to Hollywood-Elsewhere for the info.

"The Queen" Sweeps New York Online Critics Awards

From Oscarwatch:

Picture: THE QUEEN
Director: STEPHEN FREARS - The Queen
Screenplay: PETER MORGAN - The Queen
Cinematography: DICK POPE - The Illusionist
Actor: FOREST WHITAKER - The Last King of Scotland
Actress: HELEN MIRREN - The Queen
Supporting Actor: MICHAEL SHEEN - The Queen
Supporting Actress: JENNIFER HUDSON - Dreamgirls (tie)CATHERINE O'HARA - For Your Consideration (tie)
Ensemble Cast: LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Debut as Director: JONATHAN DAYTON, VALERIE FARIS - Little Miss Sunshine
Breakthrough Performer: JENNIFER HUDSON - Dreamgirls
Film Score: PHILIP GLASS - The Illusionist
Documentary Feature: AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
Animated Feature: HAPPY FEET
Foreign Language Picture: PAN'S LABYRINTH
Humanitarian Award: DEEPA MEHTA (Water) for taking risks to create films about the difficulties of social change in India especially as it affects women.

Ten Best Pictures (Alphabetical):
BABEL (Paramount Vantage)
THE FOUNTAIN (Warner Bros.)
INLAND EMPIRE (Absurda)
LITTLE CHILDREN (New Line)
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (Fox Searchlight)
PAN'S LABYRINTH (Picturehouse)
THE QUEEN (Miramax)
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (Fox Searchlight)
VOLVER (Sony Pictures Classics)
WATER (Fox Searchlight)

"The Departed" Named Best Film by Boston Film Critics

From Oscarwatch:

Best Picture:
The Departed
(United 93, runner-up)

Best Director:
Martin Scorsese, The Departed
(Paul Greengrass, United 93, runner-up)

Best Actor:
Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
(Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson, runner-up)

Best Actress:
Helen Mirren, The Queen
(Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal, runner-up)

Best Supporting Actor:
Mark Wahlberg, The Departed
(TIE: Michael Sheen, The Queen; Alec Baldwin, The Departed/Running with
Scissors/The Good Shepherd,
runners-up)

Best Supporting Actress:
Shareeka Epps, Half Nelson
(Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada, runner-up)

Best Ensemble Cast:
United 93
(The Departed, runner-up)

Best Screenplay:
William Monahan, The Departed
(Peter Morgan, The Queen, runner-up)

Best Foreign Language Film:
Pan's Labyrinth
(Volver, runner-up)

Best Documentary:
TIE: Deliver Us From Evil/Shut Up & Sing
(51 Birch Street, runner-up)

Best New Filmmaker:
Ryan Fleck, Half Nelson
(Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, Little Miss Sunshine, runners-up)

Best Cinematography:
Guillermo Navarro. Pan's Labyrinth
(TIE: Stuart Dryburgh, The Painted Veil; Xiaoding Zhao, Curse of the Golden
Flower
, runners-up)

AFI Announces Year-End Top Ten List

In alphabetical order:

"Babel"
"Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan"
"The Devil Wears Prada"
"Dreamgirls"
"Half Nelson"
"Happy Feet"
"Inside Man"
"Letters From Iwo Jima"
"Little Miss Sunshine"
"United 93"



Wow. The Departed and The Queen got snubbed in favor of Happy Feet, Inside Man, and The Devil Wears Prada.

This year's awards derby just keeps getting more interesting.

"Letters from Iwo Jima" takes LAFCA Top Prize

From Variety:

2006 Los Angeles Critics Association winners:

Picture: "Letters From Iwo Jima"
Runner-up: "The Queen"

Director: Paul Greengrass, "United 93"
Runner-up: Clint Eastwood, "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima"

Actor: Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat" and Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland" (tie) (no runner-up)

Actress: Helen Mirren, "The Queen"
Runner-up: Penelope Cruz, "Volver"

Supporting actor: Michael Sheen, "The Queen"
Runner-up: Sergi Lopez, "Pan's Labyrinth"

Supporting actress: Luminita Gheorghiu, "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu"
Runner-up: Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"

Screenplay: Peter Morgan, "The Queen"
Runner-up: Michael Arndt, "Little Miss Sunshine"

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, "Children of Men"
Runner-up: Tom Stern, "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima"

Production design: Eugenio Caballero, "Pan's Labyrinth"
Runner-up: Jim Clay and Geoffrey Kirkland, "Children of Men"

Music: Alexandre Desplat, "The Queen" and "The Painted Veil"
Runner-up: Thomas Newman, "The Good German" and "Little Children"

Foreign-language film: "The Lives of Others"
Runner-up: "Volver"

Documentary/non-fiction film: "An Inconvenient Truth"
Runner-up: "Darwin's Nightmare"

Animation: "Happy Feet"
Runner-up: "Cars"

Douglas Edwards experimental/independent film/video award: "Old Joy" (Kelly Reichardt) and "In Between Days" (So Yong Kim)

New generation award: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris (directors) and Michael Arndt (screenwriter), "Little Miss Sunshine"

Career achievement award (previously announced): Robert Mulligan

Friday, December 08, 2006

56 Songs Eligible for Oscar

Beverly Hills, CA — Fifty-six songs from eligible feature-length motion pictures are being considered in the Original Song category for the 79th Academy Awards®, it has been announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The original songs, along with the motion picture in which each song is featured, are listed below in alphabetical order:

“Believe It” from “The Heart of the Game”
“The Best” from “Everyone’s Hero”
“The Book I Write” from “Stranger than Fiction”
“Broken Bridges” from “Broken Bridges”
“Chan Chan” from “Water”
“Circle in the Sand” from “Friends with Money”
“Coming Back to You” from “Deja Vu”
“Definition of Love” from “Akeelah and the Bee”
“Dreamz with a Z” from “American Dreamz”
“Encarnacion” from “Nacho Libre”
“Every Word” from “Wordplay”
“Family of Me” from “Over the Hedge”
“A Father’s Way” from “The Pursuit of Happyness”
“The Girl in Byakkoya - White Tiger Field” from “Paprika”
“Heist” from “Over the Hedge”
“Hillbilly Holla” from “Barnyard”
“Hollywood Familia” from “Hollywood Familia”
“I Belong” from “Open Season”
“I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth”
“In Rosa Vernat Lilium” from “The Nativity Story”
“It’s a Fight” from “Rocky Balboa”
“Ju Hua Tai” from “Curse of the Golden Flower”
“Keep Holding On” from “Eragon”
“Khalbali” from “Rang de Basanti”
“Kingdom of Love” from “One Night with the King”
“Listen” from “Dreamgirls”
“A Lonely Man” from “Don’t Come Knocking”
“Love You I Do” from “Dreamgirls”
“Luka Chuppi” from “Rang de Basanti”
“The Motion” from “3 Needles”
“My Little Girl” from “Flicka”
“Never Gonna Break My Faith” from “Bobby”
“Never Let Go” from “The Guardian”
“O Kazakhstan” from “Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”
“Open Your Heart” from “Saving Shiloh”
“Ordinary Miracle” from “Charlotte’s Web”
“Our Town” from “Cars”
“Patience” from “Dreamgirls”
“Philosophy” from “Step Up”
“PJ & Rooster” from “Idlewild”
“Quest for Love” from “Arthur and the Invisibles”
“Real Gone” from “Cars”
“Really Nice Day” from “The Wild”
“Shine on ‘Em” from “Blood Diamond”
“The Song of the Heart” from “Happy Feet”
“Star Mile” from “The Last Kiss”
“Still” from “Over the Hedge”
“Suenos” from “Hollywood Familia”
“Sweet Music” from “Glory Road”
“Til the End of Time” from “Little Miss Sunshine”
“Tonight” from “Night at the Museum”
“Try Not to Remember” from “Home of the Brave”
“Upside Down” from “Curious George”
“When You Taught Me How to Dance” from “Miss Potter”
“Won’t Let You Fall” from “Poseidon”
“You Know My Name” from “Casino Royale”

On Tuesday, January 16, the Academy will screen clips featuring each song, in random order, for voting members of the Music Branch in both Beverly Hills and New York City. Following the screenings, members will vote to determine which three, four or five songs become nominees in the category.

Click here to read the rest of the official press release.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Letters from Iwo Jima" Catapulted into Spotlight by NBR



LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA is probably Mr. Eastwood's masterpiece and perhaps one of the greatest films of our time. His achievement is all the more extraordinary when one views the film as a companion piece to FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS.”

Wow. And after I said this about Flags in my review:

With its unassuming, effortless style and elegiac tone, "Flags of Our Fathers" is a towering work of great passion and power, one that will someday find itself counted among the true giants of cinema. It is a masterwork of our time - and for all time.

The year 2006, like any other, has seen more than its share of bad films. But it has also seen what is arguably the greatest film of the new century - and that film is "Flags of Our Fathers."

Hmm...if Letters actually tops Flags, then wow. I can't wait to see this one.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"Letters from Iwo Jima" Named Best Picture of the Year by National Board of Review

Wow. Not only was Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima named Best Picture of the Year by the National Board of Review, but predetermined frontrunners Dreamgirls and The Queen were both snubbed in their top ten list.

Suddenly this year's Oscar race just got very interesting. Let the race begin.

Here is a list of the winners:

Best Film: LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
Best Director: MARTIN SCORSESE, The Departed
Best Actor: FOREST WHITAKER, The Last King of Scotland
Best Actress: HELEN MIRREN, The Queen
Best Supporting Actor: DJIMON HOUNSOU, Blood Diamond
Best Supporting Actress: CATHERINE O'HARA, For Your Consideration
Best Foreign Film: VOLVER
Best Documentary: AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
Best Animated Feature: CARS
Best Ensemble Cast: THE DEPARTED
Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: RYAN GOSLING, Half Nelson
Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: (2)JENNIFER HUDSON, Dreamgirls and RINKO KIKUCHI, Babel
Best Directorial Debut: JASON REITMAN, Thank You for Smoking
Best Original Screenplay: ZACH HELM, Stranger Than Fiction
Best Adapted Screenplay: RON NYSWANER, The Painted Veil

The top 10 from the National Board of Review:
"Letters From Iwo Jima"
"Babel"
"Blood Diamond"
"The Departed"
"The Devil Wears Prada"
"Flags Of Our Fathers"
"The History Boys"
"Little Miss Sunshine"
"Notes on a Scandal"
"The Painted Veil"

Top Five Foreign Films
VOLVER
(and, in alphabetical order)
CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER
DAYS OF GLORY
PAN'S LABYRINTH
WATER

Top Five Documentary Films
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
(and, in alphabetical order)
51 BIRCH STREET
IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS
SHUT UP & SING
WORDPLAY

Top Independent Films(in alphabetical order)
AKEELAH AND THE BEE
BOBBY
CATCH A FIRE
COPYING BEETHOVEN
A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS
HALF NELSON
THE ILLUSIONIST
LONESOME JIM
SHERRYBABY
10 ITEMS OR LESS
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING

Career Achievement - ELI WALLACH
Billy Wilder Award for Excellence in Directing - JONATHAN DEMME
Career Achievement in Producing - IRWIN WINKLER
William K. Everson Film History Award - DONALD KRIM
The BVLGARI Award for NBR Freedom of Expression - WATER and WORLD TRADE CENTER

Clooney Aquires Rights to Grisham Book

From Variety:

Warner Independent Pictures and Smoke House partners George Clooney and Grant Heslov are buying screen rights to John Grisham's nonfiction tome "The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town."

Deal is the second in the past two weeks between WIP and Smoke House; Clooney and Heslov earlier came aboard to produce "White Jazz."

Details are still being worked out in the Grisham deal, but Clooney and Heslov are solely producing at this point.

Published in October by Doubleday, "Innocent Man" is the true story of a gross miscarriage of justice that sent Ron Williamson to Oklahoma's death row for 11 years for a murder he did not commit. Among the flimsy evidence: eyewitness testimony from the man ultimately convicted of the murder.


Click here to continue reading.

Pair Arrested for Piracy

From Variety:

Awards season 2006 has its first piracy case.

Law enforcement officials on Monday arrested John Acas and his cousin Sheryl Demesa on charges of stealing and illegally posting online numerous screeners sent to an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences member.

Motion Picture Assn of America investigators located the pics online and used watermarks to trace the pics back to an Academy member. They passed the information on to the Southern California High Tech Task Force, a joint venture of several local police and sheriff's departments with the FBI. Investigators then pursued the case, eventually catching Acas when he tried to sell the screeners to an undercover informant.

According to the MPAA, Demesa worked at an accounting firm where the Acad member received his mail. She allegedly stole the screeners and passed them onto Acas, who posted them to the Internet.

Acad member's identity is being kept a secret, as he was apparently unaware that his screeners were being stolen and isn't being charged with a crime.

Click here to read the full story.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Almodovar Re-Teams with Cruz

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz, fresh off their success from the critically acclaimed Volver, will reteam for El Piel Que Habito (The Skin I Live In).

According to the article:
Almodovar announced plans for "Habito," expected to be a departure from his traditional style, in Warsaw following success for "Volver" at the European Film Awards on Saturday night.

"I'm in the midst of a change. My next film will be totally different from the previous 16," Almodovar said in the interview with Spanish daily El Pais. "It's a very tough story about revenge. It has nothing to do with 'Volver' or my life."

Jonathan Demme to Helm Jimmy Carter Doc

From The Hollywood Reporter:

President Jimmy Carter will be the subject of "He Comes in Peace," a documentary being directed by Jonathan Demme. Participant Prods., which was behind the hit documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," featuring former Vice President Al Gore, is producing.

Demme and his crew will follow Carter across the U.S., through red states and blue, to bookstores and talk shows and Wal-Marts, as he undertakes a book tour for his new tome, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." At the same time, Carter, who has written more than 20 books, will speak about how to achieve peace in the Mideast and his lifelong philosophy of human compassion.

Production began at Carter's home in Plains, Ga., on Nov. 11 before the tour. The book hit shelves Nov. 14.

Click here to read the entire article.

Monday, December 04, 2006

To "Apocalypto" or Not to "Apocalypto?"

There is much speculation swirling around in Hollywood right now about whether or not Academy members, or for that matter viewers in general, will turn out for Mel Gibson's latest directorial effort, Apocalypto.

As his first film since his drunken, anti-Semitic tirade back in July, Apocalypto will be the indicator of whether or not people will still come see a Gibson film.

However, being that it is an ultra-violent action film told completely in an ancient Mayan dialect, it may not be the best indicator. Many who choose not to see it may do so for reason's other than Gibson himself.

I personally find the whole thing ridiculous. What Gibson said was dispicable, there's no question about it. But the personal views of a filmmaker will never deter me from seeing a film. I disagreed with Gibson's violent, guilt-tripping version of Christianity, but I saw The Passion of the Christ. This article from the New York Times put it best:

The problem posed by Mr. Gibson touches on an age-old question of whether an artist’s personal behavior ought to be a factor in judging his or her work.

The question is not a new one even in the brief history of cinema, which includes people like D. W. Griffith, the visionary feature director whose work fed racist stereotypes;
Leni Riefenstahl, whose ground-breaking talent served Nazi Germany; or Roman Polanski, who in 1977 pleaded guilty to having sex with a minor and then fled the country, which did not prevent him from winning the Oscar for best director in 2003 for “The Pianist.”

As Richard Schickel writes in the Dec. 11 issue of Time magazine, “Gibson is a primitive all right, but so were Cecil B. DeMille and D. W. Griffith, and somehow we survived their idiocies.”

Click here to read the full article.


I for one think that art should be judged on its own merits. No matter what one feels about Gibson, I think the film should be given a chance. The early reviews have been spectacular, and the previews have been thrilling. No one can deny that Gibson is a talented filmmaker. No matter what his views, I will be there to see his film, and I will judge it seperate from his viewpoint, as it should be.

I can only hope that everyone else can have the maturity to do the same.