Oscar Results 2013

Argo (3): Best Picture, Film Editing, Adapted Screenplay

Life of Pi (4): Best Director Ang Lee, Cinematography, Original Score, Visual Effects

Les Misérables (3): Best Actress in a Supporting Role Anne Hathaway, Makeup & Hairstyling (hair’s new this year), Sound Mixing

Lincoln (2): Best Actor in a Leading Role Daniel Day-Lewis, Best Production Design

Silver Linings Playbook (1): Best Actress in a Leading Role Jennifer Lawrence

Django Unchained (2): Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz, Original Screenplay Quentin Tarantino.

Skyfall (2): Best Original Song Adele, Best Sound Editing (draw with ZDT)

Zero Dark Thirty (1): Best Sound Editing

Anna Karenina (1): Costume Design

Amour (1): Best Foreign Language Film

The above is a list of the major winners. For a full list, CLICK HERE.

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The film winning Best Picture is always considered the major winner. So Argo it is. Interesting that the director of a Best Picture is not even nominated. No matter, the 1979 Iran hostage crisis came to a glorious end for Ben Affleck. “… it doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life because that’s going to happen. All that matters is you gotta get up.” Glad he thanked Canada in his acceptance speech, along with Iran. Equal opportunity thanker he is.

Life of Pi has the most Oscars. I’m excited for them. Canadian composer Mychael Danna wins with his Indian-influenced score. Director Ang Lee gave a gracious acceptance speech thanking Taiwan, where he filmed the majority of the movie, all the 3,000 people involved in the production, and yes, the author of the Booker Prize winning novel, Canadian writer Yann Martel. For those who are book lovers and don’t want to spoil their good memory of their reading experience, I say, go see the film. It’s worthy of its literary source.

Glad to see Les Miz being honored with three awards. The dream came true for Anne Hathaway, winning her first Oscar, as expected. Deservedly, the Make-up and Hairstyling people won as well, with hairstyling being the first time recognized at the Oscars. Just look at Hugh Jackman at the opening scenes you’d appreciate their effort. That he didn’t eat or drink for over 13 hrs to shoot those scenes helped too. The highlight of last night’s Awards Show for me was the whole Les Miz cast singing on stage.

While I’m at that, get the orchestra back in the Theatre where the action is next time. You can hear the discrepancy in timing with the singing at certain points. And please, don’t rush people off stage by playing all those irrelevant (or maybe tackily relevant) old movie themes. So rude to the present winners and disrespectful to those past productions. Here are some I remember… Jaws, The Magnificent Seven, The Godfather, Gone with the Wind (that’s when Quentin Tarantino was speaking).

Why, with all the technical talents around, the tribute to fifty years of James Bond was done with such a lack-lustre montage? To help us forget it, Shirley Bassey came on stage to sing Goldfinger after that. In my opinion, Goldfinger is probably the best James Bond song. And Bassey just showed, at 76, the unfading colours of a great voice. So’s Barbra Streisand, at 70, delivered a moving The Way We Were after the Memoriam clip, paying tribute to Marvin Hamlisch who wrote the Oscar winning song (1974). Memories flooded back as she sang at the Oscars the first time last night after 36 years. With all due respect to Adele and her Skyfall win, these two veteran singers made a sharp contrast to her shaky performance.

Now, Lincoln‘s disappointing results baffled me. Coming into the Awards Season, it was the strongest contender, with 12 nominations. The only major win was Daniel Day-Lewis who was almost locked-in for Best Actor, and deservedly so. He is now the only actor winning three Oscar Best Actor awards. I’ve seen all his winning films. While his Lincoln portrayal is impressive, I remember being captivated by his first Oscar winning role in My Left Foot (1989) as Irish writer Christy Brown who was afflicted with cerebral palsy and could only use his left foot to write.

And then there’s Jennifer Lawrence, what a good sport. It’s embarrassing falling on the steps going up the stage, but getting an Oscar way over compensates for it. Her performance in Silver Linings Playbook confirms her position as a leading female character actor at 22. I’ve seen her much younger performances before all the Hunger Games hype, and knew that she would be a rising star. The two films I’m thinking of are The Burning Plain (2008) and Winter’s Bone (2010).

As for the film and the actress I’ve been silently rooting for, Zero Dark Thirty and Jessica Chastain, well, at least it has one Oscar. I’m not too disappointed though for I trust Kathryn Bigelow‘s talent and skill can only create more strong productions, and hopefully not being marred by unnecessary controversies like she has with ZDT. As for Jessica Chastain, I know she will deliver in whatever film she’s in… given a good role and in the hands of a capable director. I wish her all the best.

As for next year’s Oscars? Captain Kirk is right… you’d want to honour the film industry, not to spite it with a bad host and degrading jokes, no matter how entertaining the singing and dancing are. Yes, I’m referring to the opening number, plus some other ones that left us with a bad aftertaste. So please, bring on a different perspective, one that represents the other half of the human race. Let’s have Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to co-host next year’s Oscars.

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CLICK ON the following links to my review of:

Life of Pi the movie

Life of Pi the book

Zero Dark Thirty and Argo

Lincoln

Les Miserables

Anna Karenina the movie

Anna Karenina the book

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2009 Golden Globe Nominations

Update January 12:  CLICK HERE for the Golden Globe Winners.

Hollywood Foreign Press Association has just announced the 2009 Golden Globe Awards nominations.  Click here for the full list.

If, as they say, the Golden Globes usually is a good prediction of the Oscars, then I am hopeful that some of those who truly deserve the recognition might just get a nod for next year’s Academy Awards.

I’m thinking in particular of Kristin Scott Thomas for her role in I’ve Loved You So Long (France), nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actress Award (Drama), and the film getting a nod in the Best Foreign Film category.

Anne Hathaway is also a contender in the same category as Scott Thomas, for Rachel Getting Married.  Her performance is a good sign of her versatility.  But my choice is Kristin Scott Thomas, hands down.  She has delivered a superb performance in I’ve Loved You So Long as the deep and tormented Juliette Fontaine.   I wish her all the best all the way to the Oscars.

As to the two nominations Mamma Mia! receives for Best Picture (Comedy or Musical), and Meryl Streep for Best Actress (Comedy or Musical), I admit I am a bit surprised.  But then again, as a musical goes, especially one made up of amateur singers, maybe it does deserve a nomination for its entertainment value.

To read my reviews of the movies mentioned here, just click on their names.  My reviews are also linked by IMDB’s ‘external reviews’.

*****

 

Rachel Getting Married (2008)

“I think families are weird and insane…

They are the best source material.”

Jenny Lumet Interview with L.A. Times

I can’t agree with Lumet more… well, maybe not the insane part.  As screenwriter (daughter of director Sydney Lumet), she must have pondered the facts that the family is the first point of social contact a newborn is introduced to, the hotbed of human relationships from jealousy to rivalry, and the school of harsh lessons, learning to love amidst hate, forgive despite hurt.  That is the scenario in her script Rachel Getting Married.

And usually it’s at weddings that the raw emotions are exposed and where conflicting sentiments are so intense that they become unmanageable, hence, the source materials for many of our films…

It was full house again at The Calgary International Film Festival’s screening of Rachel Getting Married. First time screenwriter Jenny Lumet has crafted a realistic family portrait.  Director Jonathan Demme (of The Silence of the Lambs fame) uses roving camera work to effectively capture the naturalistic look, giving me the impression that I’m watching the home-made video of another family.  This film is definitely not for those with weak stomach or who are easily nauseated.

The movie is about Kym (Anne Hathaway) returning home for her sister Rachel’s (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding.  Kym has been in rehab for some years, trying to deal with substance abuse.  Coming home is bitter sweet for all. First, Kym’s father has remarried and a wedding means the re-appearance of Kym’s mother (Debra Winger), and the re-opening of old wounds.  Further, the jealousy and sibling rivalries are still intense, albeit hidden within a facade of good will most of the time. As the story unfolds, we see the tragic past of the family, its emotional residue still spilling out to the present.

Shot in a naturalistic style (Robert Altman is acknowledged in the end credits), with a hand-held camera jolting its way through family gatherings, punctuated with non-script-like casual and spontaneous talks, the film makes us feel like we’re secretly prying into another family’s affairs.  But herein lies the merit of such an incisive look.  The truth is, if we get the chance to peep behind the curtains into other people’s homes, we would probably find how similar they are with our own.   We may not have to deal with a substance abuser, or have gone through similar tragedies, but we have to live with the common human emotions of hurt and disappointment, rivalries and anger.  We are encouraged when we see how others find redemption, and from the pit of negativism, rise up and go forward.

Anne Hathaway has shown that she can act outside of the sweet and charming feminine roles as in The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and Becoming Jane (2007).  Here in Rachel Getting Married, she has effectively delivered an excellent performance as a messed up substance abuser struggling to redeem herself.  The film could well lead her to other more character-driven roles in the future, or maybe even an acting nomination.

As for the film itself, the roving camera work is not for everybody.  With its almost 2 hours running time, seems like it needs a bit more work on editing and pacing to make it more appealing.  Do we need so many musical numbers?  Overlooking the melodramatic parts, the film is still effective in delivering a very human story.

~ ~ ~ Ripples

Update December 11:  Anne Hathaway has just been nominated for a Best Actress Award at the 2009 Golden Globes for her role in Rachel Getting Married.

*****

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Arti of Ripple Effects is the writer of the above original review, posted on September 30, 2008, here at https://rippleeffects.wordpress.com   ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

If you see this article on some other blogs or websites (as I have) without acknowledgment, citing, or linking back to Ripple Effects, then you know it has been copied without permission from the author.

Becoming Jane (2007)

I’ve delayed watching this movie till now.  I wanted to avoid all that hype about Jane Austen.  Even as a JA fan, I’ve hesitated jumping on the Austen bandwagon of what I suspect to be mere commercialism.  Well, after a few months waiting for the dust to settle, I went into a second-run movie theatre this crisp October day with very little expectation, and was pleasantly surprised…I thoroughly enjoyed the movie!

Becoming Jane

As I mentioned in my reply to a visitor who had left a comment on my WWAW post, like many of life’s simple pleasures, a movie does not have to be ‘deep’ to be enjoyable.  However, simplicity does not mean superficiality.  Becoming Jane is heart-felt story-telling.  It has many witty renderings especially carved out for Austen readers, like the mirror images reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice.  The first part of the movie moves along breezily with its humour; but it is the sombreness in the latter part that makes the story so poignant.

Based on the recorded short-lived courtship between Austen and a young lawyer named Tom Lefroy, the backdrop of the movie has its historical accuracy:  the Austen family, Jane’s close relationship with her sister Cassandra, the inequitable social environment wherein Jane as a female, had to write anonymously, and the torment that one had to face having to choose between marrying to survive and marrying for love, and suffer the social disgrace and financial ruins resulting from it.

Other than the basic background, the movie never intends to be a serious, historically grounded account.  It is pure fiction, and as one of the contemporaries of Jane Austen the Gothic writer Ann Radcliffe says in the movie,  it is the imagination, and not real-life experience, that gives rise to story-telling.  From this spirit evolves the beautiful story of Becoming Jane, purely imaginary, idealistic, noble, and yet painfully poignant.  The movie leads us ever so subtly to realize the bitter taste of love over the sweetness of romance.

The simple script will not work if not for the great acting, or understated acting rather, of all its cast members.  Anne Hathaway has once again robbed the Brits of a coveted role, yes, an American playing one of the best-loved British authors (The other one I’m thinking of is Renée Zellweger playing Bridget Jones). James McAvoy is comparable in his charm as Tom Lefroy.  The supporting roles are all played by excellent veterans like Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Ian Richardson, and James Cromwell.  Anna Maxwell Martin as Cassandra provides immeasurable support to Hathaway.  I was deeply affected by her lead role as Esther Summerson in the BBC production of Bleak House (2005).  Here once again she has demonstrated that her acting is superb.

I have enjoyed the cinematography, the costume, the music, and yes, even the disheartened twist at the end.  I came out of the movie theatre contented.   So what if the story is pure speculation.  Sometimes it takes the imaginary to lead us to look more directly at love, life, and the choices we make.   Maybe that’s why we are always drawn to stories, fiction … and movies.

~~~3 Ripples