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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Bridges’

The end of the year encourages reflection and celebration. One way I practice both is by commemorating this year’s movies that I regard with personal fervor. My tradition of making lists requires both overly geeky scrutiny and exuberant love for the art of filmmaking; what results is not only a list of movie titles, but an illustration of who I was as a person in the year 2010.

I am thankful I have this blog as an outlet, as it is a time capsule of opinions that come from someone who is currently obsessed with film. Before turning 2010 into a memory, I would like to preserve my thoughts on how five particular movie trailers astounded and affected me this year.

Honorable mentions: The Social Network, Cowboys and Aliens, Inception

5.Black Swan

Accented by a harrowing score, Black Swan’s premiere trailer chauffeurs us through a nightmare of paranoia and disillusionment. Ominous, upsetting colors clash with violent editing to celebrate the terror that only a scathed mind can conjure. With elegance, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis enhance the beauty that ballet already provides, but with an estranged twist from director Darren Aronofsky, this preview mixes charm and delirium to create something artfully unnerving.

4. Buried

Horror/thriller films often exploit the power of sound to cheaply elicit fear. Sudden bursts of noise, typically used in a jump scare, do not motivate freight as effectively as a sound that billows with slow, insurmountable tension. Buried’s teaser trailer recognizes this, as it crescendos from quiet nervousness to riotous apprehension, all with the use of sound. In the preview’s last moments, we finally scrape an image from the darkness to reveal the context of the corresponding audio.

3. The Tree of Life

By widening its focus on humanity, the preview for Terrence Malick’s highly anticipated The Tree of Life transcends mere advertisement and propaganda. This pensive montage gallops towards a threshold that combines the plight of one’s past and the mystery of the unknowing future to illustrate the spectrum of life. Gorgeous imagery and celestial melodies course through its veins, vicariously breathing life into ourselves.

2. Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine’s highly visceral teaser manages to express love under numerous circumstances. Whether it’s through an intimate stare shared between two lovers or through a quarrel that almost dismantles them, the insight into this unabashedly real relationship strikes a chord of imperfection and solace. By juxtaposing such complex imagery with the simplistic tune of a ukulele, this preview somehow eloquently tackles both the joy and frustration of being in love.

1. True Grit

Haunted by a foreboding hymn, the terse preview for True Grit seems to solemnly strip the innocence away from our thirteen year old protagonist. Her stoic voiceover illustrates the audacity of the conquest she’s about to embark on, and I have nothing but fear for her. Roger Deakins’ beautiful cinematography creates an epic landscape riddled with wrath and retribution, and the characters that fill that desolate space seem just as relentless.

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THE PAST

With the start of another semester approaching, I feel I should take a second to contemplate the year thus far. In short, I believe it’s been a cinematic drought. The past eight months have provided us with only a handful of noteworthy films. Otherwise, the lot has been filled with either cash-grabbing remakes, uninspired sequels, or straightforward disappointments. To assuage the disappointment of this year’s fruitless filmic delivery, I’ve compiled a list of my personal favorites. I should be a little optimistic, right?

3. Terribly Happy

Although Terrbily Happy hails from Denmark, it’s a film that is surprisingly inspired by some of America’s greatest directors. Impressions of David Lynch and the Coen Brothers are prevalent throughout the movie’s tensest scenes, and simple American iconography is seen percolating in the quieter, much somber moments. It’s an interesting tone for an even more interesting story. Consolidating film noir and western together, Terribly Happy saunters its way into telling a compelling and very tragic tale.

2. Inception

Unlike anything we’ve seen this year, Inception bends physics, alters time, and damns the viewers’ mind. Director Christopher Nolan imbues us with a cinematic pleasure that’s as precious as the the movie’s subject. Ornately dressed with special effects and great performances, Inception is one of 2010’s best moviegoing experiences.

1. How to Train Your Dragon

Yes, it remains! How to Train Your Dragon is still my favorite film of 2010. Sure, it’s a simple story of a boy and his pet, but to me, it’s a conglomeration of emotions so subjective and personal that it’s impossible to describe on this blog. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of things I can say…The film explores infinite terrain with whimsical scope, but the sense of danger that is projected is unmistakably real. This is done with great technical craftsmanship, but an equally satisfying core of characters also aids in making this film outstanding.

THE PRESENT

Despite my aversion towards this year’s catalog of films, there are some great titles out right now. For instance…

Cyrus

Brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, the innovators behind the mumblecore movement, dually take on their first “Hollywood” film. To the movie’s benefit, Cyrus elegantly uses minimalism to naturally elicit deep characterization and pure emotional resonance.

The Kids are All Right

I’ll be seeing this in the next few days, so I will give my full thoughts then. However, reviews for this dramedy continue to be glowing with positivity.

Winter’s Bone

Winter’s Bone has been accumulating buzz since its premiere at the Sundance Festival. Winning the Grand Jury Prize, this literary adaptation is carrying a lot of momentum on its shoulders. Hopefully, I can check it out when it comes to the local art theater at school.

Some other films available now include:

  • Mother
  • Get Low
  • Animal Kingdom

THE FUTURE

So what is there to look forward to? Well, there’s…

  • Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (August 13)
    • Comedy action
    • Directed by Edgar Wright
  • The American (September 1)
    • Noir thriller
    • Starring George Clooney
  • The Town (September 10)
    • Gangster thriller
    • Directed by Ben Afleck.
    • Starring Ben Afleck, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Jon Ham.
  • The Social Network (October 1)
    • Drama about the birth of Facebook
    • Directed by David Fincher.
    • Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake.
  • 127 Hours (November 5)
    • Directed by Danny Boyle.
    • Starring James Franco
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I (November 19)
    • Part 1 of 2 for the final chapter of Harry Potter
  • Black Swan (December 1)
    • Psychological thriller
    • Directed by Darren Aronofsky.
    • Starring Natalie Portman
  • Tron Legacy (December 17)
    • Sci-fi action sequel
    • Starring Jeff Bridges
  • True Grit (December 25)
    • Western remake by the Coen Brothers.
    • Starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin

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The Oscars. The most prestigious show that honors the esteemed works of an intimate community? Or meaningless, arbitrary titles that are granted to the elitists of Hollywood? Either way you look at it, here are my opinions on some of their nominations.

Full List of Nominations

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Coraline
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and The Frog
The Secret of Kells
Up

2009 was an excellent year for animation, and the Academy thankfully decided to recognize that by extending the number of nominations to five. It is, however, pointless because Up is destined to win; its transcendence to Best Picture nominee is enough to seal the victory in its own specific category.

Unashamed to admit this, I think Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is more deserving of the award . The hands-on approach that went into developing the minutiae of his world is such an astonishing feat in today’s world of cinema, and it shouldn’t be overlooked. His meticulous vision served as both a nostalgic nod to old-school filmmaking and as a reminder which demonstrated what the stop-motion medium can surprisingly achieve.

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ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Mark Boal – The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds
Oren Moverman – The Messenger
Joel and Ethan Coen – A Serious Man
Pete Docter and Bob Peterson – Up

Seeing Quarantino Tarantino and the Coen Brothers up for a writing award makes sense. The screenplays to Inglourious Basterds and A Serious Man could only spring out of the minds of geniuses who’ve been penning wonderfully creative stories for over a decade. Both of these films were personal and audacious, and they were exactly in touch with what the authors love-Tarantino and his love for film, the Coens and their love for absurdity.

The Coens have won twice for screenplay (Fargo and No Country for Old Men). Tarantino won for Pulp Fiction, and I think he’ll be taking home his second Oscar this year.

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BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell – District 9
Nick Hornby – An Education
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche – In the Loop
Geoffrey Fletcher – Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner – Up in the Air

Of all the great nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay,  District 9s inclusion makes me the most content. It fits more in the realm of original screenplay (it’s an “adaptation” of the short film District 9), but it still surprisingly rests as a science-fiction screenplay among three dramas and a British satire. Cynics who disregard the Academy for its pretension can be appeased by its decision to honor a Summer popcorn flick. How much of a chance does it have? Not too much. Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air should be walking away with the victory.


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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Penelope Cruz – Nine
Vera Farmiga – Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal – Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick – Up in the Air
Mo’Nique – Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Matt Damon – Invictus
Woody Harrelson – The Messenger
Christopher Plummer – The Last Station
Stanley Tucci – The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds

Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique have sauntered through this year’s awards circuit. They’ve nabbed just about every award that precedes an Oscar, and the humility with which they have accepted all of their prestigious and critical praise shows how much all of this means to them. The two gave memorable and terrifying performances, and it will be touching to see them give one more great acceptance speech this Sunday.

Two more nominees that deserve attention are Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air and Woody Harrelson in The Messenger. One, a young budding star; the other, an experienced veteran. Both performances were surprisingly wholesome and unforgettable. However, it’s not their time to win.

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ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Sandra Bullock – The Blind Side
Helen Mirren – The Last Station
Carey Mulligan – An Education
Gabourey Sidibe – Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire
Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart
George Clooney – Up in the Air
Colin Firth – A Single Man
Morgan Freeman – Invictus
Jeremy Renner – The Hurt Locker

Having only seen the performances of Carey Mulligan, George Clooney, Gabourey Sidibe, and Jeremy Renner, I can’t really say anything substantial about these two prominent categories. It is apparent, though, that this awards season has been very kind to Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock, and with only a week left until the big show, they seem more like solidified locks than assumed frontrunners.

How does that make me feel? Well, I’d love to see Carey Mulligan take home the statue for her charming performance in An Education. But it’s not her time, and such is life. As for Jeff Bridges…he is a truly amazing actor who’s gone far too long without touching gold.

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DIRECTING
Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker
James Cameron – Avatar
Lee Daniels – Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire
Jason Reitman – Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds

Kathryn Bigelow is the fourth woman ever to be nominated for Best Director, and she has a damn good chance of actually grasping the title. Seeing her join the pantheon of directors, amongst the ranks of Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee, the Coen Brothers, and Clint Eastwood (all winners in the 2000’s), would be an incredible moment for cinephiles. Here’s hoping she gets it. I’ve extensively professed my affection for The Hurt Locker, and Ms. Bigelow is absolutely deserving of the acclaim.


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BEST PICTURE
Avatar
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

This year’s race for Best Picture has truly been exciting. During the Summer, Precious and Up in the Air received unanimous praise from indie festivals while The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds were slowly gaining buzz from their theatrical releases. Then came Winter and James Cameron’s tour de force that swept the entire globe. His revolutionary Avatar became a phenomenon among the common man, and while it was mixed amongst critics, it’s been too large to ignore. Precious and Up in the Air eventually made their ways into theaters, but their status as frontrunners diminished with Cameron’s international campaign. The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds have maintained their energy due to the inherent quality of the two films.

So who will win? My bet is Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker. But the Academy has been known to surprise us.


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Heck yes!

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