Wednesday, March 31, 2010

83rd Annual Academy Awards: Key Dates Announced

The "key dates" for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards have been announced (they were announced last week, I'm a bit behind this year!). And, thankfully, we're back to the nominations in January, Awards in February schedule (following the move up this past year to compensate for the Olympics).

My annual gripe: They are still not early enough. I hope one day that the dates get pushed up even further with the nominations in early January and the show early February. Awards season is just too drawn out. The studios would make sure their movies got released in November-early December. As far as I'm concerned, the last "wide" releases should be on Christmas Day-- not January 31st. Can't Anytown, U.S.A. get their Crazy Heart in 2009, you know, the year it was actually released, and not January-February 2010?

The nominations will be on January 25, 2011; the 83rd Annual Oscars will be on February 27.

Link to full list of key dates.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Stealing First Base" Movie Kisses Montage on The Simpsons

Sarah Silverman guest-starred on The Simpsons episode "Stealing First Base" this past Sunday, and when her character kisses Bart a Cinema Paradiso-inspired flurry of images follows. A very sweet moment-- but how can you lose with that "Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso"? (Which was also played over the end credits.) There were fifteen "clips" in the montage: the "movies" scored 13 clips and TV got 2. Here's the bit from Hulu, plus the rundown.... framing isn't perfect on any of these, but just so you get the idea...

From Here to Eternity

Gone With the Wind

The Quiet Man

Lady and the Tramp

Planet of the Apes

On Golden Pond



Star Trek

Beauty and the Beast (TV series)-- couldn't find an exact match

The Public Enemy



The Godfather, Part II

All in the Family: "Sammy's Visit"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"At the Movies" Cancelled

This was news that I truly never ever thought I'd hear... At the Movies cancelled! A shocker. I frequently got the first word-- and often the most authoritative word-- on upcoming movies from this show, through my entire movie-going lifetime. In those terms it's pretty sad; but the show as a show has had such a rocky road since Gene Siskel died, and the magic never did return.

One day a NEW movie review show will appear and I'll be there to welcome it.

The balcony is (permanently) closed.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Frankly My Dear, I Don't Give a Damn

The last film from the Hollywood studio era— Gone With the Wind (1939)— has just fallen off the (unadjusted) top 100 films in US box office. Alice in Wonderland has now vaulted into the top hundred pushing out GWTW, and making the oldest film on the list 1973s The Exorcist, ranked at #68. A minor footnote in film history, but an interesting "moment" in this era where home video has completely overtaken the value of old movie re-releases, and inflation has made almost every new tent pole film (particularly with the jacked up prices of IMAX and 3-D) a contender as a top moneymaking. My ticket for Alice on Wonderland was $17! The most I've ever spent to see a movie... besting only a two-month-or-so record of $16.50, when I saw Avatar. But to keep it real, GWTW is still #1 on the adjusted for inflation list!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

82nd Annual Academy Awards: The Final Tally

Eleven feature-length films join the list of Oscar-winning features this year, as follows:


— 3 Oscars

— 2 Oscars
— 2 Oscars
— 2 Oscars

THE COVE— 1 Oscar
STAR TREK— 1 Oscar

Monday, March 8, 2010

82nd Annual Academy Awards: A Review

Just seven minutes over last year's running time and the show seemed an eternity. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were pretty good hosts, but I think we'd have been better off if Steve Martin just did it as a solo.

Why oh why was there a Neil Patrick Harris opener? Firstly the song— something like "No one wants to do it alone"— was awful. Secondly-- it makes the ACTUAL hosts look too talentless to pull off a song. Thirdly, why do we need a song? PAGING JON STEWART! What's wrong with a few jokes and then, get on with the show?

When Steve and Alec did arrive, their jokes were hit and miss, but enough funny ones worked.... I especially loved the "Look it's DAMN Helen Mirren" bit ("That's Dame Helen Mirren."), as well as Martin's gag that Meryl Streep's 16 nominations, means... the most losses.

By the way, can we step back to the pre-show that year after year ABC cannot get right? The only time they get it right is when they cancel it. Kathy Ireland was so busy striking a pose she couldn't concentrate on the interviews. Sherri Shepherd tried her best, but she clearly wasn't listening to the answers to her final questions and shooed off the celebs at the end of each of her interviews. And was it me or did the Oscar artwork in the back look like the poster for CATS?

Now that the song numbers are cut, the individual presentation of all the Best Picture nominees will turn into the going-to-the-bathroom opportunities in the show (And they're pretty badly scripted: "It sneaks up on you... THE BLIND SIDE"). Among the other packages, I enjoyed the "interviews" with the animated characters and even the (albeit totally random) horror movies clips (repetitive, but they hit all the biggies). Yes, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY got no nods and yes, the parodies have been done, but I did laugh at the Steve and Alec piece. I also liked the tribute to John Hughes, except for one thing— they shouldn't have done it. If there's no time to give LAUREN effing BACALL her honorary Oscar on the live show then there's no time to give a tribute to a filmmaker that never received a single Oscar nomination and for whom the Academy would NEVER in a million years have done a tribute for if he died at say 80 years old. Dying young should not warrant a tribute. And I grew up on Hughes' movies... I'm a fan... but it was weird. Marlon Brando didn't get a stand alone tribute, right? Judd Nelson was a freak show... jees. And it was funny that they cut to Kristin Stewart at the end-- she was probably wondering who the hell all those people were! Speaking of bad cuts... it was pretty lame to cut to an African-American any time PRECIOUS was featured... Morgan Freeman, Samuel L. Jackson....

No one among the presenters did that much in the way of clever presenting. Probably because the best awards show presenter in Hollywood was one of the co-hosts (Steve Martin). Please STOP Ben Stiller. His awards show bits are always terrible! And they are insulting to the poor shlub actually getting the award he's presenting. And yet, year after year, the next day his disastrously fallen-flat routine will make countless "best moments" lists. Why? Because these award shows are so desperately devoid of actual moments, that the online community has to find SOMETHING to point out, and it's "easy" to point to the "wacky" as a highlight.

There were two moments in the show where I literally said out loud: "WHAT IS GOING ON?!" — when the now notorious Kayne'd short film guy was interrupted by that red-haired woman acting crazy and when Sean Penn (also now notoriously) rambled on about god-knows-what when he came out on stage.

The interpretive dance-- again.. why? It could have been the best dancing known to man, and it STILL would've been criticized. Haven't the Oscar producers learned by now? No more interpretive dance... it doesn't fit, it doesn't work, and no one wants to see it.

The dead reel started off wrong again this year for the viewing audience that saw the screens in a long shot, and therefore missed a few of the people. Honestly, I wasn't too upset about Farrah (the internet went ballistic)... what they should have done is left both MJ and Farrah out. Although, on second thought, I think they probably could have found room for her. Like, leave the who-even-knows-her Kathryn Grayson, who only just passed, to next year.

The speeches were all good: Sandra Bullock's possibly the most memorable of the four acting winners. The nicest— and most genuine— moment during the acting presentations, was when Gabourey Sidibe teared up when Oprah was talking about her onstage.

Barbra Streisand didn't overshadow Kathryn Bigelow too much, thank god. Boy Bigelow would NOT let go of her Oscars to Steve and Alec at the end of the show! The two had hilarious parting lines: "This show is so long AVATAR takes place in the past."/ "That's all the time we have folks!" Sadly, the smart idea of having clips from the new season's crop of films— that was done over the credits last year— was not continued this year. All in all, a weak show-- last year's wasn't brilliant, but it was better.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

82nd Annual Academy Awards

Another Oscars! Crazy that it's the 82nd-- wow have they been giving this thing out a long time. This year with the Olympics pushing the Awards, the show feels like some sort of weird after thought. This is one of the few times, however, that the Best Picture winner is up in the air (pun!). I put THE HURT LOCKER on my office ballot, but the more I think about it... an AVATAR sweep (with the sole exception of Bigelow as Best Director) has a certain likelihood to it. My predix are basically the favorites as listed in the Entertainment Weekly, except I think that Tarantino will be awarded the Best Original Screenplay Oscar over THE HURT LOCKER.

I have another reason to look forward to the closing credits (besides the 3+ show is finally OVER). ANd that relates to what I wrote in my last year's review of the show: "One of my favorite additions to the show was running sneak previews of several 2009 movies over the end credits-- I really, really hope this becomes a tradition. It would be a cool way to promote movies who are willing to “premiere” just a few tantalizing moments— I, for example, loved that they showed a few seconds from Woody Allen’s upcoming Whatever Works." We shall see.