Thursday, January 14, 2010

Femonomics at the movies: Welcome to awards season!

I'm an awards season fiend, and I like to try to see all the Oscar nominated films (and performances, if I'm really ambitious) before the show.  This year, awards season is upon us (the Golden Globes are Sunday), and I've only seen a few of the films.  Some I'm dying to see, others I'm happy to pass on.  Here's a list of the likely awards contenders, according to the blogs I read (Dave Karger's Oscar Watch and Pete Hammond's Notes on a Season, mostly).  I include my notes on the films I've seen or have heard something interesting about.  The other contributors will chime in with their thoughts on films they've seen, and I implore commenters to do the same!  Which movies are must-sees before Oscar season?  Who do you think deserves to win at the Globes this weekend?  Who will win?


Avatar: The plot is only serviceable, but the graphics are unbelievable.  See it in 3D or you're wasting your money (and time!).  I truly believe this film will change what consumers expect from films, and what producers believe is possible.  After seeing this visual feast, why would I want anything else?  (Now if only he'd hire a screenwriter next time...)

Precious: As discussed earlier, I loved it despite its flaws.  The supporting characters are the most vivacious, dynamic, and believable troupe ever put on screen, from Lenny Kravitz's nurse to Precious's rowdy classmates, each with her own story to tell.  Mo'Nique really is that good, and deserves to win the supporting actress trophy, rumors of awards-season-duty-shirking and diva behavior aside.  The air nearly crackles when she's onscreen, especially during her riveting confrontation with Mariah Carey's social worker.
Invictus: Disappointing!!  I'm a huge sports movie fan, and while I guess I can respect that Eastwood didn't milk the genre cliches (team initially underdog, rallied by inspiring leader, suffers disappointing setback, finally wins important victory after realizing the true meaning of friendship/teamwork/life/sports/life after sports), I felt like he didn't manage to coax a dramatic arc out of the material at all.  That's particularly shocking given how dramatic Mandela's support of the apartheid-symbolizing Sprinboks, and their out of the blue world cup win, really was!  Freeman is excellent as Mandela, though, and really captures the political maneuverings amid the guitar-string tension of his ascension to office.  See it for that, and Damon's wicked South African accent.
An Education: A lovely, lyrical film about the hard lessons of growing up, and the harder still path of finding one's place as a woman when the only available one was beside a man.  Carey Mulligan is fantastic, as is Alfred Molina.  I wish he would slide in there for the last supporting actor Oscar nom...  Nick Hornby's wit is as present as ever in the highly amusing first half, but he shows a surprising sensitivity and tenderness--and, dare I say it, even an awareness of the plights of women--in the gentle second act.

Haven't seen

Up in the Air: Already planned to see it once and somehow failed.  It's next on my list.  Thinking it will remind me of the good old consulting days.  My grandma hated it, though she "loves that George Clooney."
Up: Hear it's heartwarming.  Boyfriend worries it's depressing, and has demoted it on Netflix.
The Hurt Locker: Dying to see it.  It's out this weekend and I'm waiting for it to show up in a little red Netflix envelope.
The Lovely Bones: Loved the book, scared the movie will ruin it.  Hear that my favorite part of the book, the tender love story between Susie's parents (and her entire family) has been excised in favor of murder-mystery theatrics and What Dreams May Come scenery.
Nine: Not really much of a contender anymore, is it?  Shame, I love Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard, and Daniel Day Lewis is one of the best actors working today (when he works).
A Single Man: I'll catch it when I have a chance, though it's awards hopes are fading somewhat.
A Serious Man: Don't the reviews just make it seem, well, serious?  And long...?
It's Complicated: See Mongoose6's take here.
Inglorious Bastards: Not sure--should I see it?  I liked Kill Bill and Schindler's List--it's kinda like a mashup, right?

What do you think of the films above?  And am I missing any that should be on my awards season radar?


  1. I'm going to chime in here with a few of my thoughts as well. Who doesn't love awards season?!

    The ones mentioned above that I have seen...
    Up: I LOVE this movie. It was, in fact, almost an instanteous tear jerker. The first 10 minutes were absolutely beautifully created and the story lovingly told. It reminds me that films were moving pictures and words are not necessary to express deep, heartfelt emotions. And it didn't hurt that the characters were fun and funny.
    Nine: I was a little disappointed in this. I am a huge musical theatre fan so I was waiting for this to come out. Daniel Day Lewis is not really a singer, but he is Daniel Day Lewis. I think he captures the character of Guido really well. The big musical numbers were engaging--Kate Hudson, Penelope Cruz, and Fergie were all surprisingly great. Many of the other numbers I found to be rather snooze-worthy. Sad, but true.
    Inglorious Basterds: I was not expecting to like this movie as much as I did. It was always moving (in typical Quentin style). The characters were outrageous yet engrossing. And Christoph Waltz was amazingly creepy/crazy.

    Other Golden Globers I might be rooting for...
    (500) Days of Summer: The movie was alright. Kind of a hipster love letter to love. My main attraction to this one was my dream man: Joseph Gordon-Levitt! I doubt he'll win, but at least I get to have some eye candy as I watch the show.
    The Messenger: I have not seen this, but it's on my list. I have only heard rave reviews about Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson in this small-release picture.
    District 9: Again, I was surprised by how much I really liked this movie. I thought about it for a long time after I saw it. Commenting on racism and segregation and what it is to be human through sci-fi and action was stellar.

    And one brief comment on the TV that is nominated...I'm rooting for my favorite show out there: GLEE! I've loved Matthew Morrison (Mr. Shue) since his days on Broadway so it's really exciting to see him on TV and doing well in such a clever and original show. Crossing my fingers for his win!

  2. I've watched a lot of movies this year, and memories on the details are slightly fuzzy, but here goes:

    Up: While certainly another piece of quality work from Pixar, I don't see what the big deal is with this film. 'Wall-E' is my favorite of this studio's so far, followed by 'The Incredibles.' 'Up' was cute and entertaining, but nothing that special to me.
    Up in the Air: Timely story, great writing, smart acting. Clooney and Farmiga's characters were complex and real. Somehow this film hit just the right tone of funny, sexy, nostalgic, and sad. Anna Kendrick's role really irritated me, but that could be because it's taking a jab at my particular demographic.
    Inglourious Basterds: Another hit from Tarantino. The story was funny and exciting, the actors were charming, and the visuals were stunning (as always Quentin). The film wasn't very deep, in my judgement, but it's sweep was impressive, and I like the nontraditional plot.
    It's Complicated: Somewhat entertaining, but a total fluff piece with no real depth.
    Julie & Julia: This is how I like my comedies - strong female leads doing something that does not involve snagging a man. Streep works her magic while Adams skillfully plays a character that is pretty unlikeable but oddly charismatic.
    Nine: So sad that they didn't ask Antonio Banderas to reprise his Broadway role. Lewis is good, but every time he looks up at the camera (which is rarely), you can see he's such an American! I basically agree with sassafras on this one.
    Duplicity: Good timing, great chemistry, forgettable story. This was a good film for an unambitious Friday night when you're looking for some sexy patter and a simple puzzle.
    Sherlock Holmes: This movie should have had me going back to the theater at least once, but didn't. I'm an action girl and please let me be the third wheel to Downey's and Law slightly homoerotic partnership. Although basically entertaining, the action sequences did not have me on the edge of my seat, I couldn't get invested in the characters, and Holmes and Watson can't get any chemistry going with their ladies. Ritchie, simplify your storyline and ditch the girls, they're superfluous to the story anyways. Also, can we institute a ban on secret society plot devices for at least two years? Thank you.
    District 9: This film was great, though I would have liked them to amp up the action a little bit more. That might be hard since the hero is a bureaucrat, but Americans demand explosions! The script was great, the filming style was interesting (handheld, journalistic feel), and the social criticism definitely had me thinking for a while. I love that this kind of lower budget film was able to garner mass market appeal.

    TV: For the love of all that is holy please give Michael Emerson the award for Lost! I can't look away from his bug-eyed creepiness and somehow always surprising duplicity.

    Films I have to watch: Avatar, A Single Man, The Hurt Locker (give it up for a lady director!), An Education

    Question: Why is Star Trek not on this list? I went to see that three times (yes, I am one sick puppy, but it was good!)

  3. I totally forgot about 'Public Enemies" - that was also good (artistic and dark). I liked seeing a gangster movie that was realistic in it's portrayal of the characters.

  4. Other also rans

    Most suspenseful action sequence of 2009: Guggenheim shootout in "The International." Other than that, the movie is definitely not a must see (well there is Clive Owen...)

    'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' - how could you disappoint me so?

    Earth: Awesome, I am completely ready for Disney's next nature doc.

    The Road: Dark, dark, dark ... plus cannibalism! An interesting thought experiment, but ultimately depressing.


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