Tag Archive: oscars 2011

Aaron Rahsaan Thomas and Malik Aziz share an unique, common background.  Both young men are natives of Kansas City, Kansas, graduates of the University of Kansas and went to grad school at the University of Southern California.  They both grew up in the ‘golden age of hip hop’ and share a passion for films.

For the past several years, they’ve also posted predictions about the Academy Awards.  Technology has evolved where last year for the first time they were able to post their unique commentary during the show.

This is Round 2…

Thomas: tee minus three minutes sucka!

Malik: It’s time for this year’s Oscars.  For those wondering, I’m wearing a tux from Oscar de la Renta…

Thomas: And I’m wearing a hoodie from champs sports…

Thomas: So, I’d say this was a hit and miss opening sequence. Anne Hathaway and James Franco seem game. The Black Swan bit was a little painful, though.

Malik: yeah hit and miss was right..

Thomas: Funny joke from Hathaway about appealing to a younger demo.

Thomas: That’s exactly what ABC is going for by having them host instead of a baby boomer.

Malik: yeah we’ll see how the ratings do tomorrow

Thomas: Hey, is that Lou Gosset Jr. sitting in front of James Franco’s grandma?

Malik: yeah LOL

Thomas: “There’s only two things that come out of the Oscars. That steers and queers and I don’t see no horns on James Franco.”

Thomas: Officer and A Gentleman, thanks very much.

Malik: idiot, LOL

Malik: this feels slow but I’m digging the set design

Thomas: Hey, Lou Gossett won an oscar when black people were only winning once every ten years.

Thomas: Set design is cool, but the pace is very slow so far.

Thomas: What constitutes set design and/or computer generated backgrounds?

Malik: All I know is I’m 1 for 1 in my Oscar pool brotha…

Thomas: Alice In Wonderland looked great and had great sets, but I’d be curious to know how much of the sets were created by actual set designers and not special effects guys.

Malik: good question, but it’s the direction we’re going in I’m afraid

Thomas: That category os blurring fast.

Malik: an Oscar for Nolan’s cinematographer, nice!!!!

Thomas: Well deserved win, here. Wally Pfister shot a beautiful film with Inception.

Malik: ‘his master?’

Thomas: Mark that on the list of things a brotha will never say.

Malik: i got $100 if you win an Oscar and refer to ANYONE as your master…

Thomas: If I heard any black man say that, I might bumrush the stage even if I don’t know him.

Malik: LMBAO!!!!

Thomas: Much respect to Kirk Douglas.

Malik: yeah I don’t want to make a joke here.

Thomas: But, in fairness, the demo just switched the channel for a few minutes….

Malik: too bad, this is a major category

Thomas: Who wins here?

Malik: i picked Leo

Thomas: Good performances all around.

Malik: yeah this is a strong category

Thomas: This lady in Animal Kingdom freaks me out for some reason.

Thomas: Leo angered some people for lobbying for herself this oscar campaign.

Malik: yeah I’m offended, people get paid to do that…

Thomas: She took out a few ads in magazines asking people to consider her.

Thomas: But, if she really wants to win, she wants to win.

Thomas: Who’s the guy with the job of holding Kirk Douglas’ cane?

Malik: yeah I appreciate the honesty

Malik: this has to be the most agonizing moment in these five women’s lives…

Thomas: Yes…

Thomas: Not just for them.

Thomas: Leo’s life just changed.

Thomas: Leo fought for this award. She got it.

Malik: now you got me going, can’t you see some kid saying ‘Man Michael Douglas aged pretty bad didn’t he?”

Thomas: That’s the thing. There might be kids who don’t know who Michael Douglas is, either.

Malik: OHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Thomas: Leo’s a ham on stage, but we already knew she was.

Thomas: Good job in The Fighter. But, don’t be taking Kirk Douglas’ cane!

Thomas: Anne Hatahway is kind of funny. “The Young and Hip Oscars” lol

Malik: yeah good comeback

Thomas: Did you check out this short animated film?

Malik: i heard about it but no

Thomas: Looks interesting. But, I always wonder who generally gets a chance to watch these, other than festivals and voters.

Thomas: Maybe that’s it.

Malik: yeah i researched this, you have to be in a certain part of the Academy to vote on certain awards

Thomas: Toy Story 3. Nice.

Malik: probably the best overall movie this year if we’re being honest

Thomas: For anyone who loved their toys, this film was a tear jerker.

Malik: agreed

Thomas: Nice way to round out the Toy Story trilogy.

Malik: yeah we grew up with that trilogy in a way

Malik: hey it’s your category brotha!

Thomas: The white tux twins?

Malik: yeah a little hard on the HDTV…

Thomas: The is Sorkin all the way

Thomas: The only question is what kind of speech will he give.

Malik: we’re about to find out…

Thomas: Even the other nominees were like, “I ain’t winning this…”

Thomas: Nice acknowledgment of the book the screenplay is based on and the author who wrote it.

Malik: yeah this is a good speech

Malik: Wrap It Up Son!

Thomas: He’s kind of a blowhard, but has a great memory of names. Overall, classy speech.

Malik: Whoa, that was my pick but I’m still surprised it won

Thomas: No surprise here.

Thomas: Seidler is in his 70s.

Thomas: Waited decades to write this story and did it well. As he said, he’s the oldest writer to win this thing.

Thomas: Seidler is also giving a classy and funny speech.

Malik: another good acceptance speech

Thomas: Writers representing with the speeches!

Thomas: Not bad singing Anne Hathaway.

Malik: (blank stare at Franco…)

Thomas: Text message from Charlie Sheen is funny.

Malik: OK Russell Brand, that was a good line…

Thomas: This is funny.

Thomas: And, I’m not even a Russell Brand fan.

Malik: me either, but I have to say the new Arthur is a good idea (on paper)

Malik: only OGs remember Dudley Moore at this point

Thomas: True, but it is a revered comedy. Hopefully they did it right.

Thomas: In HDTV, that gold envelope looks like a work of art itself.

Malik: yeah that’s pimp!

Thomas: Here comes your girl, Reece.

Malik: yeah…

Thomas: So, does Bale win and will Hathaway reference Batman?

Malik: yes and yes

Malik: as will I

Thomas: Will Bale give a crazy speech?


Thomas: Batman says “Bloody hell”?

Malik: yes so what?

Malik: learning your American accent is something we only do to make ourselves more accessible to you Yanks

Thomas: Just saying. Batman sounds kind of British up in this piece.

Thomas: At least Superman is still played by an American. Wait…

Malik: did he get a little emotional at the end?!?

Thomas: Either that, or he had a brain fart, forgot his wife’s name and played it off.

Thomas: I like to think it was emotion, though.

Malik: it better be, couldn’t pull that with no sista…

Thomas: She’d be staying daggers at him. “Negro please…”

Malik: LMBAO!!!

Malik: great intro for the sound/music categories

Thomas: Yup.

Thomas: One of my biggest loves – film scores.

Malik: i almost got up and started swinging my lightsaber around – no homo

Thomas: No comment.

Thomas: But, The King’s Speech score was well done. And used very well in the film.

Thomas: Social Network has a good one, too. Though it was a little monotonous.

Thomas: I would have picked Kings Speech, personally, but I get it.

Malik: yeah I thought Inception might have had a chance there as well

Malik: the sound was a big part of that film as well

Thomas: True.

Thomas: Scarlett Johanson. Hot?

Malik: Yeah I dig her, I’m always surprised when I hear some guys say they don’t get her appeal.

Malik: You one of them?

Thomas: She’s nice. But, there are times when she’s much better than others.

Thomas: Inception deserves this win. Great sound.

Malik: yeah tonight is not one of her better nights

Malik: and yeah there’s the Inception win

Thomas: black with bow tie.

Thomas: Don’t see that often.

Thomas: Man, they start the “get off the stage music for non actors RIGHT AWAY.

Malik: I blame Kirk Douglas still.  There I said it.

Thomas: lol

Thomas: Inception taking no prisoners with sound and effects…

Thomas: But Nolan got no love for directing.

Thomas: I heard the Academy might see him as a “comic book guy” even though The Dark Knight was well respected. Think they’ll award him for the next Batman or will it take a non comic/special effects film?

Malik: good question…

Malik: depends on how good the next Batman is, people have a short memory.

Thomas: Cate Blachett. Much respect for her skills.

Malik: yeah she’s like an even more mainstream version of Streep

Thomas: This is another category which blends the practical work with special effects.

Thomas: How much of the Wolfman look was practical and how much was computer generated?

Malik: don’t know but i have a side question for you…

Malik: what would you do if you won an Oscar and the music never stopped?

Malik: they play you on to the stage and just keep playing…

Thomas: Go up on stage and stare down the orchestra. Don’t say a word, just stare at them the entire time they play.

Malik: that would be the greatest moment ever!

Malik: God forbid I’d be in the crowd, the camera would catch me looking like I had no home training…

Thomas: Got the first black people on the show.

Thomas: Of course, they’re rapping.

Malik: (shaking my head…)

Thomas: How much could they pay you to sing the Beauty and The Beast song with an English accent?

Malik: Not enough. Next question…

Thomas: Randy Newman songs just make people feel good.

Malik: God bless Randy Newman, but Family Guy nailed him in one of their first seasons.

Thomas: lol. Just watched the Family Guy clip of Randy Newman!!!

Malik: Told You!!!

Thomas: How did Waiting For Superman not even get nominated for a documentary oscar, though?

Malik: Man, I don’t know

Malik: i’m not sleeping on the teacher’s union though…

Malik: our first awkward looking Oscar winner…

Thomas: This guy is a film student. Nuff said.

Thomas: But, he’s living the dream if that’s the case.

Malik: very true, I’m not hating…

Thomas: Figured Auto tune was coming.

Malik: i’m trying not to laugh…

Thomas: They could have picked a better film to do it with, though. Winter’s Bone. Some movie that’s the opposite of musical.

Malik: “He Doesn’t Own a Shirt”  – that’s a winner

Thomas: yeah, funny

Thomas: That’s what the demo wants!

Malik: i was going to say that’s her best look tonight I think

Thomas: yeah.

Thomas: Oprah sighting.

Malik: the Queen has arrived

Thomas: I wish I could watch more documentaries.

Malik: I thought Restrepo was good, haven’t seen the winner yet though

Thomas: The level of quality has really been amazing in this category.

Malik: I’m sure more fictional filmmakers are naturally gravitating towards docs these days

Thomas: Can always depend on the documentary people to make a political statement or two.

Thomas: Good.

Malik: Yep, now get off the stage!

Malik: Billy Crystal getting a well deserved ovation.

Thomas: Yes. Still the best Oscar host ever.

Thomas: For our generation at least.

Thomas: Bob Hope was known as pretty good himself.

Malik: yeah Hope is iconic

Thomas: That passover joke is iconic itself.

Malik: LOL

Thomas: I wonder who did “new Bob Hope’s” voice.

Malik: yeah that was awkward.

Thomas: Inception has to win this, right?

Thomas: Alice In Wonderland was really good for effects, but the turning room itself probably won this for Inception.

Malik: agreed

Thomas: Social Network is cleaning up. Some in their camp have to feel like they have a shot at best picture. What do you think?

Malik: Ask me after the give out the Directing award in a few minutes…

Thomas: Jennifer Hudson. Hot?

Malik: Usually but I don’t like her look tonight

Thomas: Yeah, I agree. Doesn’t seem like her own look.

Thomas: But, she lost weight and that looks good for her.

Malik: oh i see brotha; you like those size 1 types…

Thomas: I ain’t saying that.

Thomas: Just think that she looks good either way.

Malik: i guess you’re digging Gwyneth Paltrow huh?

Thomas: lol. The skinny snow bunnies…?

Thomas: Gwyneth’s never been my type. To each his own.

Thomas: I do wonder if Jennifer Hudson looks at Gwyneth’s singing and is like, “Don’t even try it…”

Thomas: The Family Guy Randy Newman is still in my head. Lol…

Malik: it’s going to be there for awhile LOL

Malik: “she takes a bite”

Thomas: The real randy Newman is pretty funny, though.

Malik: yeah that dude is pure Cali

Thomas: Uh Oh. Celine’s singing your song.

Malik: no comment

Thomas: You’ve always been a fan of “Smile” and an even bigger fan of Celine.

Thomas: This is nice.

Malik: i heard this really was MJ’s favorite song though

Thomas: Yeah.

Thomas: Perfect song for this montage.

Malik: yeah

Thomas: Well done. They normally go to commercial after the montage. Not this year. Think I still have a crush on Lena Horne.

Malik: I still have a crush on Halle Berry…

Thomas: NOW they go to commercial.

Thomas: Nice.

Malik: that may have been the best In Memoriam even though it wasn’t the most star studded

Thomas: It was well done.

Thomas: Here we go – directing…

Thomas: Wow. Hooper wins in his first nomination.

Malik: yeah that’s impressive

Thomas: Not sure how I feel about that.

Malik: the Social Network folks just got their bubble burst I think..

Thomas: Looks like The King’s Speech just grabbed the inside track on best picture again.

Thomas: The Social Network took the early prizes, but The King’s Speech might be coming on late.

Malik: nice Mama’s boy speech there

Thomas: Yeah. Nice and simple speech.

Thomas: Fincher has one in the bank for a future award, though.

Malik: you know the historian in me wants to get into the Governors Award ceremony one day

Thomas: Wow. That photo of Lucas, Scosese, Speilberg, Coppola, DePalma  etc, was pretty cool.

Malik: yeah i was wondering if you caught that!

Thomas: Don’t think I’ve seen a director’s photo like that before.

Thomas: How would you feel if they were taking a photo like that and asked you to step out of it?

Malik: LOLOLOL oh man….

Malik: thanks for pulling me out of my sentimental moment brotha…

Thomas: lol

Malik: Warren Beatty looking like “I remember when you yelled at me like that…”

Thomas: lol

Thomas: Jennifer Lawrence has a bright immediate future if she wants it.

Thomas: BUT, this is Natalie Partman’s night.

Thomas: Think I still feel that my favorite nomination announcement was when it was done by peers (a group of fellow actors/actresses) a year or two ago.

Malik: agreed that was awesome

Thomas: Natalie Portman takes it.

Thomas: She’s been good for years. Deserves this. Was great in Black Swan.

Malik: yeah

Malik: I’m a Natalie fan so this is cool

Thomas: She’s been acting since she was born, so you know she’s been thinking about this moment forever.

Thomas: Shout out to Luc Besson!

Thomas: The Professional!

Malik: still the flick!

Thomas: I like Portman, because as I said before, she seems very normal and even has a geeky side.

Malik: it’s coming out in this speech

Thomas: Yup.

Malik: she just thanked the 1st AD and the camera operators for God’s sake!!!

Thomas: 1st AD is even surprised by that…

Malik: also loving the Chinese Theatre backdrop by the way

Thomas: Yeah, that’s great.

Thomas: Hey, if you get nominated for an acting oscar and I’m sitting behind you, remind me to lean up behind you when they call your name and be like, “Yo, they said your name. You hear that? You hear that?” as I shake your shoulder.

Malik: LOLOL, please don’t…

Malik: that’s EXACTLY why there aren’t any minorities nominated…

Thomas: Colin Firth has to win this, it seems.

Malik: well deserved in my opinion

Thomas: Yeah, they got it right. Great performance.

Thomas: Funny first line of his speech, too.

Malik: that’s going to be replayed for years…

Thomas: Does Harvey Weinstein ever shave?

Malik: naw that’s his look

Thomas: But, he never lets it grow into a full beard.

Thomas: The stubble beard has been his thing forever.

Malik: yeah he’s on that Paul Pierce program

Thomas: lol

Malik: so the last one, it has to be King’s Speech right?

Thomas: Yup.

Malik: Spielberg keepin it real!

Thomas: Nicely put by Speilberg.

Thomas: Even if you lose, you’re in great company.

Thomas: They’re playing the best moment from The King’s Speech.

Malik: Exactly

Thomas: By the way, this is a great score as I said before.

Malik: Excellent montage

Thomas: Yup. Well done.

Thomas: Whoever did the montages for the oscars should get an award themselves.

Malik: yeah montages and set design were aces

Thomas: Alright. There you go.

Thomas: King’s Speech. Well done.

Malik: yessir

Malik: I know we have other obligations; any last words brotha?

Thomas: It’s been fun. Gotta love the movies. Best job in the world is to be able to tell stories. On to Oscars 2012.

Malik: i don’t think The Dark Knight Rises will be eligible yet but I’m sure there will be other good films..

Thomas: Looking forward to seeing them. Peace out!

Malik: thanks to everyone who read along.


Oscar Preview 2011 Part III


Best Picture

Personal Favorite:  You know something?  For all the crying about the lack of creativity in Hollywood, I looked at the list of nominees and can say I really enjoyed half of the films and really liked most of the rest.  I’m a Nolan fanboy so I have to standup for Inception, but…

If you argued Toy Story 3 was one of the few ‘third films’ that lived up to the standard of the first two films in the series?  I wouldn’t disagree.

If you argued Black Swan in its own way was more visual and original than Inception, I wouldn’t hold it against you.

If you argued The Social Network was ‘the film we’ll look back on as the film that defined where we were as a culture in 2010’, I don’t think anyone could argue that.

I could keep going but I think you get my point.

Who Should Win:  Same argument.  True Grit, The Kids are All Right, The King’s Speech, and The Fighter all stand out as films that ‘feel’ like Oscar films because of who’s in front of or behind the camera (or both). In my opinion the film that nails every major element the best (cinematography, writing, direction, action, subject mattter, design) is The King’s Speech. Just my opinion.

Who Will Win: The King’s Speech because of the argument I made in the previous paragraph.

One last pre-show note: I talked to Mr. Thomas and we plan to ‘liveblog’ the Oscars again this year to keep the ‘ArtFradieu’ tradition alive (for those of you who go WAY back) with us.  I think I’m tech savvy enough to pull this off, so for those of you who like (relatively) unfiltered comedy by two black film geeks during the show, check back here during the show Sunday night.

Until then…

Oscar Previews, Part II


The Lead Actor categories…

Best Actress

Personal Favorite:  I’m a self professed geek and snob, so who else but Natalie Portman? Seriously though, one of the first DVDs I ever bought was The Professional. There are certain athletes you feel like you grow up with, watching their career from college to retirement; Natalie is one of the actresses I feel like I’ve watched grow up in front of the camera from innocent kid to intelligent, fully developed woman.  And I don’t think it’s remotely a coincidence that that last sentence could be a one sentence pitch of the main character’s arc in Black Swan.

Who Should Win: It’s hard to paraphrase Black Swan without either giving the spoilers away or ruining a great visual film, so just take my word for it that Portman did a great job.

Who Will Win: I just feel like Annette Bening is going to sneak in here.  And she wasn’t bad in The Kids Are All Right. Frankly I liked her performance in Mother and Child a lot more.  It’s just my gut feeling, I wish I could tell you I know something I can’t prove.

Best Actor

Personal Favorite:  James Franco, 127 Hours. I think I covered this when I wrote about the film, but a) it takes something special to keep a film interesting when it’s (literally) you onscreen by yourself and you can’t move for the majority of it, and b) it takes something special to get an audience to buy in that you’re breaking and chopping off your arm when we know it’s coming and we know we’re watching a damn movie!  And James Franco did all of the above in 127 Hours. Nuff said.

Who Should Win: The craftsman in me can’t get over how well Colin Firth nailed all the mental and internalized ins and outs that go with being a stutterer.  And to this point, damn near every voting body recognizes how well he played that role too, so…

Who Will Win: Colin Firth.


I’ve got quite a lot going on so I can’t promise I’ll finish this, but I have to at least throw out a few predictions for the Oscars this weekend:

Best Supporting Actress

Personal Favorite: Hailee Steinfeld had a star making turn in True Grit. Part of the history of the Supporting categories are these are where the ‘upsets’ happen, so if you want to use that logic, a relative neophyte holding her own onscreen with Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, and Matt Damon would certainly qualify.  I also liked Amy Adams hitting a different type of note in The Fighter, but a part of me also hears people saying ‘a stunning actress going plain’ which drives me up the wall (personal pet peeve).

Who Should Win: I’d say Steinfeld but to me she was a lead in that movie and is only in this category to increase the odds she can pull the upset.  I’ll go with Melissa Leo.

Who Will Win: Melissa Leo for The Fighter.

Best Supporting Actor

Personal Favorite: I favor Method guys, so it was easy for me to cheer for Christian Bale’s performance in The Fighter. In all honesty, I could make a convincing case for every nominee in this category.  Any of these guys could have been nominated in another year and easily win.  Those are the breaks sometimes.

Who Should Win: There’s a chance that The King’s Speech rolls over everybody and Geoffrey Rush winning here would be part of that.  But it seems everyone has forgiven Christian for his Hall of Fame rant on the Terminator set (OH GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!!), and he’ll walk away with the gold.

Who Will Win: BATMAN!!!!!!!

The King’s Speech


Inception was the most entertaining film, The Social Network was the most clever film, but if The King’s Speech wins Best Picture in a couple weeks, I won’t be surprised.  It’s one of those films where all the elements are top notch.  If I pitched you a movie about Facebook and a movie about the Duke of York in the 1930s, only one of those movies sounds instantly appealing.  But when of the films is about a Harvard educated genius, and the other is about a man with a terrible stutter who is deathly afraid of public speaking, which person do most of us find more relatable?

That’s one reason why The King’s Speech has picked up steam over awards season.  I’ll admit bias here since I had the worst stutter ever as pre-schooler, but well, I KNOW that problem. I recognized the defect (mental), the cause (some type of phobia), and even the fix (slow yourself down and collect your thoughts before talking).  While technically this is a period piece, what moves the plot along happens all the time in every society I imagine.  I’m not the first person to say this either, but as much as I like what the Eisenberg kid did in Social Network, for an actor to play stuttering so convincingly is very impressive (to me at least).  Trust me, to do stuttering in a non mocking way that’s not supposed to be funny is not as easy as it sounds.  Colin Firth is getting the credit he deserves in my opinion.

The ironic thing is, I still don’t know if I can say I ‘love’ this film.  I liked it, but it’s more of a respect thing for all the craftsmanship at work.  Maybe that says more about what films came out in the past 12 months.

Black Swan


Actual conversation in the bathroom while the closing credits were still going…

Dude 1: “You just come out of Black Swan?”

Dude 2: “Yeah.”

Dude 1: “What the hell was that?”

What that was, my friends, was a Darren Aronofsky film.  Visual, trippy, and probably the best third act I’ve seen in the past twelve months.  Natalie Portman headlines a great cast in this film about a ballerina cast in the lead role of ‘Swan Lake’, but who’s encouraged/manipulated into getting in touch with her ‘passionate’ side to play the role of the Black Swan.  So how does a complete control freak react when they start to give in to their natural impulses?  Well, there’s your movie.

Natalie is still considered the frontrunner for the Oscar (especially after the Globes).  I think her odds are pretty good.  Like I said in the intro, when the film gets into the third act, it’s her movie.  I tried to wrap my head around who else right now could mix that fragility/upper class/artiste type of character that she plays her, but no one came to mind.  This film (like most of Aronofsky’s) isn’t for everybody, but it’s definitely interesting.

The Fighter

To paraphrase the Sports Guy, the ‘underdog boxer’ genre has probably been worn dry.  Like the gangster genre, boxing has created some of the greatest films ever made (with the Rocky series and Raging Bull immediately coming to mind).  The standard is ridiculously high.  I go with that lead in to say The Fighter is a good film but not the best of its genre.  It’s based on the true story of Micky Ward and his older brother who was also a boxer but had a serious drug problem.  (As an aside, the film ends with only a title card mentioning the Ward-Gotti trilogy.  This got a giggle out of me as a casual boxing fan, don’t get any hardcore boxing fans started.)

Mark Wahlberg plays Micky Ward, but the heavy lifting in this film is done by Christian Bale as the older brother and Melissa Leo as the overbearing mother of the boys.  This is the second time I’ll cop to a film geek bias: there’s a generation of kids who think of Bale as Batman (and I’m not complaining).  But to see him here in the loser brother role, I thought he was good, but I also have seen enough of Bale’s work over the years to not be overwhelmed by his performance.  A lot of people say he has the inside track for Best Supporting Actor in a few months.  If that’s true, I’ll be cheering for him, but I don’t know if I like Jeremy Renner’s performance in The Town better.  By the way, Daniel Day-Lewis, if nothing else, let’s agree the Method torch has officially been passed to one of these two guys.

Film snobbery aside, when we finally got to the title fight in the third act, I was into it.  The music, Bale’s “you’re doing this for all of us” speech, Mom and a ‘plain-looking’ Amy Adams in the front row, it was all done effectively.  Walking out, I was actually that Mark Wahlberg should get credit for not ‘hi-jacking’ the movie away from the supporting actors (being the ‘lead actor’ but not ‘the star of the movie’ is a talent, I’m now convinced).   Maybe he took pointers from Bale who is in a similar boat playing Batman to Heath’s Joker a couple years back.

I digress…

The Kids Are All Right

The opinions I’ve heard about The Kids Are All Right have run the gamut from ‘great indie film’ to ‘whatever word is the opposite of misogyny.’  It got a Globe nomination for Best Screenplay and on the whole I’ve heard good things so I had to check it out.

I don’t know whether this is a good or a bad thing, but I think there’s some value on all the opinions I’ve heard, good and bad.  The premise (a pair of kids who were the products of an artificial insemination seek out and find their biological father) is filled with landmines, while being original at the same time.  What starts in the first act as a lighthearted 21st Century “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, takes a rather interesting (and for my tastes too convenient) turn halfway through the story.  The turn didn’t ruin the film for me, I just thought there were other ‘conflicts’ that could have been used.

That said, the three main actors all did a great job creating sympathy for their characters.  Mark Ruffalo plays ‘the Dude’ who suddenly finds out he’s created this family, and now in middle age wants to be a part of it.  Julianne Moore plays the slightly more free-spirited of the two Moms of the family; with Annette Bening getting the rather thankless role as the ‘head’ of the family, who comes across as a hardass until well into the third act.  Surprisingly none of them were nominated for the Globes though in this film where they all have fairly equal screen time, they may have been seen as an ensemble no one outshined the other two (which I can’t argue).

Good, quiet film that may or may not pick up momentum the next couple of months.  We’ll see.

True Grit

I’ll start by saying this: Westerns aren’t my genre.  I ‘respect’ the Coen Brothers films while not necessarily calling myself a fan of every film they’ve done.  Now all that said, I liked this remake of True Grit. I caught myself laughing in the first 30 minutes at Jeff Bridges going into the “alcoholic Dutch Schultz” routine (YouTube that name if you don’t know it), but as the movie moves along I was pulled in.  Matt Damon was reliably good in a supporting role (to absolutely no one’s surprise at this point), and Josh Brolin and a few other familiar faces show up in the film in nice roles that I won’t ruin for those planning to see this film.

The ‘star’ of this film though is Hailee Steinfeld, as the child who creates the mission that brings all these great characters together.  To say she holds her own among all the starpower in front of and behind the camera is an understatement; her character is the central character, and there’s never any question of if she belongs on the same screen with these Oscar winners.  I have no idea how this film didn’t get any Golden Globe love, but I’ll only be shocked if the Oscars gives it the same snub.

More tomorrow…

The Town

The Town is one of the movies that’s been hanging around all year and has a shot at a Best Picture nomination next year now that they’ve expanded the field to 10 films.  A friend on Twitter referred to this flick as Set It Off for white folks, and I get where they got that analogy from.  Both films follow a heist crew with members who want to get out, but as they say with that lifestyle there’s no retirement, only jail or death…

Ben Affleck does another solid directing job here; I wonder how much of it is choice and how much of it is what’s put in front of him, but he certainly has the ‘Boston crime drama’ genre down to a tee.  Jeremy Renner got a Globe nom for his supporting work as the ‘loose cannon’ of the crew.  I think I’m in the minority here but I was noticeably bleh about this one.  Don’t get me wrong, he did a great job with the accent and the ‘a-holeness’ of the character, but as someone who’s seen a lot of his work, this particular performance didn’t stand out more than the others.  I heard Affleck’s director’s cut of this film was great though, so maybe there’s more in that cut that I didn’t get out of the studio version.

More reviews coming soon…