Category Archives: Contenders

Poster for Spielberg’s “War Horse”

I’ve been excited for this film since the first trailer was released in June. Oh, who am I kidding, I’ve been excited for this movie since I read about it over a year ago. Spielberg, check. Horses, check. (for the record, I like horses, they don’t like me). WWI, check. Awesome cinematography, check.

I simply cannot wait for the end of December. War Horse is due in US theaters on December 28, 2011 and The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (also directed by Spielberg) is due out in US theaters on December 23, 2011.

It’s In My Nature, Reflections on Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive”

“Have you ever heard of the story of the scorpion and the frog?” the nameless Driver (Ryan Gosling) asks movie-producer-turned-mobster Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) towards the end of Nicolas Winding Refn’s masterpiece Drive. In that one line, when you put it in context, you get everything you need to know about the character. Heck, he’s even wearing a jacket with a scorpion on it for 99% of the film.

There has been much said about the hyper-violence that punctuates Refn’s otherwise hypnotic drama. Some love it, some think it detracted from the story.

I happen to think Refn’s execution of the violence was pitch perfect and Gosling’s superb performance just reinforces the story’s message: you can’t escape your nature.

The Driver doesn’t think about his violent acts; he just does them. They’re part of his nature, the way he instinctually reacts to certain situations. Think Viggo Mortensen’s character in A History of Violence.

He’s clearly tried to repress them in his day-to-day life – hence his day job as a mechanic. He’s even tried to find other outlets for his violent nature (i.e. his other two jobs).

But he just can’t help it; it’s in his nature. And when these explosions of violence happen what’s most interesting is the look on the Driver’s face afterwards, especially in the elevator scene. He did what he had to do, but he’s both appalled that he did it and appalled that someone so dear to him had to witness it.

There’s another telling moment in the film that I really loved. When the Driver is talking to the son of Irene (Carey Mulligan) while the two watch cartoons. He asks if the shark in the cartoon is a bad guy and the son immediately says yes. The Driver asks him how can you tell? The son says he looks like a bad guy, plus have you ever seen a good shark?

I found that scene particularly fascinating because again the Driver is wrestling with his inner demons. He knows he is a violent man, he knows that he does illegal things; that he is, in some shape or form, a “bad guy.” Yet, you wouldn’t be able to tell that from looking at him.

I also love when Gosling and Brooks face off at the end. Like the Driver, Brooks’ Bernie is a man who is violent by nature. This scene is like all the great showdowns in classic Westerns; only instead of guns the two exchange false promises, both knowing the other is figuring out just the right moment to strike. They’re both scorpions and neither one wants to let the other across the river.

While Gosling’s performance may be too subtle for Awards Season, I’m thinking Brooks’  performance won’t be forgotten – Hollywood loves to “rediscover” someone, especially in a bravado performance that is so completely against type.

The last thing I wanted to mention is how much I love all the attention to detail that Refn put into this film. He won Best Director at the Cannes film festival in May, and rightfully so.

There’s this amazing color story throughout the film. Mostly in shades of teal blue and this sort of golden amber color. Everything from the streetlights to the bedspread in a motel fit into this color scheme. As the film progresses and the violence increases the amber begins to turn into this darker red color. It’s just fucking brilliant.

I’ve seen this film in theaters three times now and I still want to see it again. and again. and again. It’s everything I want in a film. If it’s playing near you, I urge you to go and give it a chance yourself.

Updated Precursors Chart, A Look At Best Supporting Actress

I’ve added a few more winners to the precursors chart. The Social Network, Fincher and Sorkin still lead their categories. Colin Firth leads Best Actor, Natalie Portman leads Best Actress and Christian Bale leads Best Supporting Actor.

click picture for higher resolution

What has recently become interesting is the Best Supporting Actress category. At first Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom seemed to be primed for the award, with a win at the National Board of Review and a Golden Globe nomination. But she failed to receive a SAG nomination and that could hurt her chances. Melissa Leo in The Fighter has been picking up steam, with five critic awards wins, a Golden Globe and SAG nomination. Recently joining the race and picking up major momentum is Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit. Although she didn’t receive a Golden Globe nomination, she also have five critic award wins and a SAG nomination. With all the other acting fields relatively predictable (as well as most of the tech categories), Supporting Actress seems to be the most interesting race of the year.

For Your Consideration: John Hawkes In “Winter’s Bone”

Last year I concentrated my efforts on getting a Best Picture nomination for The Hangover. Clearly, that campaign failed. Regardless, I am rallying around one dark horse contender again: John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone for Best Supporting Actor. Hawkes is probably best known for his role as Sol Star on HBO’s Deadwood and star of the 2005’s indie flick Me and You and Everyone We Know. This year, however, he made waves opposite new-comer Jennifer Lawrence in one of the year’s most critically acclaimed films – Winter’s Bone. This film currently holds a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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“The Social Network” Coming To DVD and BluRay January 11th

According to RopeOfSilicon we have just over a month to wait to own what seems to be the “movie of the year” on DVD. Really loving this DVD cover. You can pre-order it here.

Another Bland Poster For “The King’s Speech”

For one of the top contenders in this year’s Best Picture race, whoever is in charge of making posters for the film sure is dropping the ball.

“Blue Valentine” Wins Appeal, Gets R Rating!

According to TheCarpetBagger the Weinstein Co won their appeal to the MPAA by a unanimous vote.

The film, which stars Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, is scheduled to hit theaters on Dec. 21st.

New International Poster For “Black Swan”

From what I hear, Natalie Portman’s performance in this film is nothing short of extraordinary. I am simply dying to see it. Really love this new poster.

Thanks to LiveForFilms

New Posters For “True Grit,” “How Do You Know”

A whole series of character posters have been released for the Coen Bros.’ remake of True Grit and a really cute one-sheet for James L. Brooks’ dramedy How Do You Know.

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New Poster For “Blue Valentine”

This film has had strong buzz, especially for Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams’ performances, since it debuted at Sundance in January. It has since receive an NC-17 rating, which is currently being appealed in hopes of an R rating without having to do any cuts. I’m a fan of both Gosling and Williams and simply cannot wait to see this film. As an added perk for me, and perhaps others, Brooklyn based band Grizzly Bear composed the score to the film. It’s due to have a limited release in theaters in the United States on December 31st.