Saturday, February 20, 2010


find out how
ever many firm sad forensic
siempre eye sore fremd

ruined dark leave down grow-. Alexandria
burnt despite Aldebaran
calling · the water

of darkness weighing · world blood
pollen rune
gaseous terrain promise rigor

curb forsaken splint ants chamber against sex
of a sleepy phrase

Bram Stoker's Dracula- Introduction is one of the things i think of when contemplating earthlike planets around red dwarf suns. (Another, is one of the opening scenes to Exorcist 2.)

Golden Globes Wrap-Up

"An interesting scenario played out last night at the Golden Globes. Those of you who’ve been reading every word written about Cameron’s Avatar, or are just movie factoid fiends in general may already know this, but here goes: prior to the Hollywood Foreign Press’s coronation of Cameron/Avatar, the most honored movie of the awards season has probably been Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, a barely distributed film about the war in Iraq. Released over the summer (in slightly more than 500 theatres), The Hurt Locker has earned a meager 12 million dollars at the box office, nowhere close, of course, to the almost 500 million that Avatar has grossed in this country alone. In an interesting, and unprecedented twist of fate, Bigelow and Cameron were once married. Cameron even co-wrote and co-produced Bigelow’s 1995 film, Strange Days. I don’t know that the Golden Globes bestowed on Cameron and his new movie are in any way proof positive that the phenomenally successful filmmaker is about to pick up another set of Oscars to go with the pair he won for 1997’s Titanic; after all, Academy members might decide that Cameron’s box office success is reward enough. On the other hand, they might reward him for being such a visionary. I haven’t seen Avatar yet—I just can’t get past the word “Unobtainium,” but that’s just me—nor have I seen The Hurt Locker, but it just came out on DVD, so I plan to see it by the end of the week. I do know that I’m really hoping Bigelow at least gets nominated for Best Director on general principle, becoming only the fourth woman in Oscar history so honored—I mean, come on, it’s been six years since Sofia Coppola was nominated for Lost in Translation (following Lina Wertmuller for Seven Beauties in 1976, and Jane Campion for The Piano in 1993). The Bigelow-Cameron dynamic aside, my guess is the Best Picture race is mainly between Avatar, Hurt Locker, and Up in the Air (the latter of which may very well be the happy medium). Of course, this year’s Best Picture contest is complicated by the fact that the Academy has opted to open the race to a field of 10 contenders—while all other categories, including Best Director, are still limited to a roster of five. (I can imagine well deserved Best Picture nominations for Up, Invictus, and possibly The Blind Side as well as the other movies mentioned in this paragraph, including Precious). With that in mind, I’d like to see the traditionally all-white male Best Directors’ club broken up by not only Bigelow but also Lee Daniels, the African-American director of Precious (based on the novel Push, etc.). Incredibly, if Daniels gets a nod he’ll only be the second African-American ever nominated as Best Director, the first being John Singleton for 1991’s Boyz N the Hood—yeah, and that was almost 20 years ago.

My favorite win of the evening was Sandra Bullock (Best Actress in a Drama) for the inspirational, fact-based The Blind Side. I think Bullock may now be firmly positioned as the front-runner in the Oscar race for Best Actress. Not only does she have the statistical advantage of playing a character drawn from real-life, she’s had an amazing year: The Blind Side is raking in big bucks at the box-office, her biggest hit ever since graduating to star status; likewise, she also appeared in another top performer, The Proposal (a movie which I frankly hated). Indeed, The Proposal WAS Bullock’s all-time career high until The Blind Side, so, yes, this has been a banner year for the Texas based actress. I just like Bullock in general, and I especially like her work in The Blind Side even though it’s not as flashy as some recent Oscar winners (Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose, Charlize Theron in Monster, etc.). Certainly, between The Blind Side and The Proposal, Bullock demonstrates variety in her choices (in a career that includes everything from Speed to Miss Congeniality, Crash and a role as Harper Lee in the “other” Truman Capote bioflick, Infamous). Bullock will definitely face strong competition from Meryl Streep, last night’s Golden Globe winner for Best Actress in a Comedy (playing Julia Child in Julie & Julia). There’s no doubt that at 60 Streep is also on a career roll, what with a recent batch of hits (including It’s Complicated and 2008’s Mamma Mia!) as well as Oscar nominated roles in The Devil Wears Prada and Doubt. Streep may very well be the most nominated performer in Academy history, but it’s been more than 25 years since she won the second of her two Oscars (Best Actress, Sophie’s Choice, 1982), so the Academy may decide she’s long overdue for a third win. Also likely in the race for Best Actress are British newcomer Carey Mulligan in An Education and Gabourey Sidibe in Precious, possibly Emily Blunt in The Young Victoria and Helen Mirren in The Last Station—but the Academy may also overdose on Brits (per Mulligan, Blunt, and Mirren).

Sidibe represents an interesting choice in that she stands a good chance of being the first African-American Best Actress nominee since Halle Berry triumphed for 2001’s Monster’s Ball
(produced by Lee Daniels). My point is that while Sidibe’s co-star Mo’Nique is clearly poised to earn a well deserved Best Supporting Actress Oscar, so soon on the heels of Jennifer Hudson’s singular performance in 2006’s Dreamgirls (joining the ranks of Hattie McDaniel and Whoopi Goldberg), it’s obvious that Berry’s win really didn’t “change” Hollywood’s perception of black women; that is, it seems that Tyler Perry and Daniels aside, almost no one in the biz knows how to create strong Oscar caliber leading roles for African-American actresses (either that, or they simply don’t care to). Even Pixar has run into trouble for its dearth of females in leading roles, and Disney-proper faced some backlash for The Princess and the Frog. (I liked the movie, overall, but I still winced a bit that the first African-American Disney cartoon princess spent much of her screentime turned into a frog.) Maybe that’s why I can’t get too excited about Avatar. Maybe before we get too carried away with technology that allows directors to create fantastic, otherworldly digital landscapes filled with lifelike computer animated alien creatures, we should focus more on the multitudes of people on this planet whose stories have not yet been told. (Yes, I understand that Avatar’s Zoe Saldana is an American of Afro-Caribbean descent, but I also understand that in the film she plays a blue-skinned alien—and for that matter, she’s only the voice and motion model for the character…her performance is hybrid rather than a flesh and blood portrayal.)

At any rate, I think Mo’Nique’s performance as the abusive mom in Precious is the acting triumph of the year, in any category, and she is well on her way to Oscar glory. The scene in which she breaks down in the social worker’s office just baffles me…I can only barely imagine how far deep she had to search her own psyche to pull out all that raw emotion (and, yes, I’d like to see Mariah Carey score a Best Supporting Actress nod for her smallish role as the harried social worker…it’s more than just a cosmetic transformation…she “gets” the character).

Just as Mo’Nique is a Best Supporting Actress sure-shot, Inglourious Basterds’s Christoph Waltz is also front and center for Best Supporting Actor consideration. Not only did Waltz win the Globe last night, he has won just about every award imaginable—again, the same as Mo’Nique—for his masterful performance as a multi-lingual Nazi in Tarantino’s, cartoon-like caper that attempts to rewrite WWII history. I think the film as a whole is ludicrous, at best, but I do think Waltz’s performance is the real-deal. Incredibly, he won Best Actor, not Best Supporting Actor, at last spring’s Cannes film fest for the same performance.

Finally, Jeff Bridges won Best Actor in a Drama for playing a boozy, down on his luck country and western singer in Crazy Heart. Good for him. Bridges might finally get an Oscar at last. He was first nominated in the supporting category for The Last Picture Show, back in 1971. He’s been nominated three times since then, including Best Actor for Starman (1984) and Best Supporting Actor (The Contender, 2000). Bridges is certainly one of Hollywood’s most durable actors, but, truthfully, I wasn’t bowled over by Crazy Heart. It reminded me too much of last year’s The Wrestler and even 1983’s Tender Mercies for which Robert Duvall won for playing a boozy washed up country singer who gets a second chance at life thanks to a young single mom (just like Bridges also gets a second chance thanks to a young single mom). Yawn. (I could stand a supporting nom for Colin Farrell as Bridges’s one-time protégé, btw). And, oh yeah, Duvall’s presence is further felt in Bridges’s movie since he pops up for a supporting role somewhere near the middle of the film (and is listed as co-producer). Bridges’s main competition for the Oscar is George Clooney for Up in the Air, but Clooney, of course, already has an Oscar: Best Supporting Actor for Syriana, 2005. If I were voting, I’d have a hard time choosing between Colin Firth in A Single Man (the directorial debut of former fashion designer Tom Ford, based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood), or Morgan Freeman, playing Nelson Mandela in Invictus, which is proving to be a hard sell at the box office. Too bad. Meanwhile Robert Downey Jr’s Golden Globe for playing Sherlock Holmes (Best Actor in a Comedy) was a nice choice, but I think it hardly has any bearing on the Oscar race.

The Oscar nominations are at least two weeks away, but the Screen Actors Guild awards, featuring all the familiar faces from the Globes, are next week, so that by the time the Oscar nods are announced the outcome in many races may already seem like a done deal.

Thanks for your consideration,

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