Tuesday, December 14, 2010

War and the Golden Globes

Viewing "The Tillman Story" and "Restrepo" in the same week may have been overdoing it.  Both documentaries were heartbreaking and illuminated the utter chaos and confusion that seems to define the situation as it was there.  Many young men being sent in to fight these battles that they don't understand trying to help people who don't understand and inadvertently making a mess out of a mess that was already there to begin with.

To add to my confusion as I try to make sense of the senselessness, the Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning, and "Burlesque" was among the nominees.  Somebody help me...  when was this tracking?  The only other shock was a pleasant one:  "Alice in Wonderland" was nominated for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy.

"Black Swan" is arriving in my area on December 17th.  Still no word on "127 Hours" and "The King's Speech."  I still have so many films to see.  It's getting serious now.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Relaxing with a Scintilla of Disappointment

I had anticipated Thanksgiving to be not only a weekend chock-full of calories, but of movies as well.  I had hopes of seeing at least 4 or 5 films between Theatres, Netflix and Pay Per View, which would have allowed my "Movies Already Seen for the Challenge List" to get closer in length to the "Movies to Be Seen" list.  But my 3 year old son got sick and so the best I was able to do was to sneak out of the house with my 9 year old daughter during nap-time to see "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" in the new DBox seats.

The silver lining to this being the only movie I could squeeze in was that the DBox seats are amazing!  In my opinion (if it matters) when you sit in them for the first time, you must see a movie you are passionate about.  I am passionate about Harry Potter (as opposed to "Tron" which will be the next DBox offeirng) and with every flight and every wand jolt I was sucked further into the story.  The tickets are expensive, but they were so worth the experience.

In other challenge activities, I did manage to finish reading Fair Game by Valerie Plame, and began reading The Long Walk Home on which the film "The Way Back" is based.  So the side-benefit to my sub-challenge is paying off...  I am reading works I never would have been exposed to if it weren't for films being adapted from them.

Also over the weekend I was able to update my Netflix queue to reflect the documentaries I need to see after the Academy announced its short-list of the 15 documentaries that are in the running for nomination.  (Thank the stars they narrowed it down from the 101 eligible).

Up next, I'm hoping to take in "The Kids Are All Right" on Pay Per View and sneak out to see "Love and Other Drugs" on $5 movie night at Regal.

My current scorecard will be posted soon, by category, of what tracking films I've seen thus far.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


As I do my never-ending research in an attempt to fulfill this personal challenge of mine (and keep my blog as updated as possible), I read a lot of opinions. There are many professional (and semi-professional) reviewers out there who feel that there are about eight film bloggers too many, and that EVERYONE fancies themselves critics. When I read those opinions, I had to crystallize for myself what my challenge, and by extension my blog, is really about.

My four year degree is not in film. It's not even in literature or writing, though I've always thought myself to be fairly decent at both. My four year degree is in Organizational Communications which basically means I can see where communication systems breakdown, but I can't always do anything about it. So I have never intended my offerings here to come off as professional or worthy of any type of devotion.

If you have had time to read any of my posts, you know that I attempt to steer clear of hyperbole like "this movie is a 'must see'" or "man this movie wasn't worth my time." In fact, I rarely walk away from a film feeling either of those emotions, anyway. When credits roll after a movie, my head is typically busily going over themes and metaphors and attempting to connect dots between real life and what was portrayed on celluloid. In essence, I try to find a little meaning in everything I see, whether I feel it was 'good' 'bad' or 'otherwise.' I definitely have favorites, and definitely have seen some I've not liked at all... but I don't intend with these posts to sway anyone with any opinion of mine.

When all is said and done, I've discovered that my blog has always really been about commitment, opportunity and access (isn't that life, be you rich or poor, in a nutshell?) I commit to a goal to see as many films as possible that are on track to be Oscar-Nominated. As with any commitment, it isn't always easy to see through. There are days I feel tired, days I don't feel like it, and moments when I feel selfish to be so singularly focused. As far as opportunities go, sometimes they present themselves- but more often than not, I have to create my own. Whether its staying up past my bedtime to watch something on Pay Per View, or going to the movies on a Monday night to catch something before it leaves the big screen, I have to come up with ways to get there and get it done. This challenge has also taught me a lot about the importance of access. In my area, we do not always get access to a deeper kind of film making. For instance, this past weekend at the megaplexes I had my choice of "Saw 3D" "Jackass 3D" or "Paranormal 2." I have very little hope of getting to see documentaries or independent films unless I travel quite a distance to see it and incur greater expense than the cost of a ticket.

I am very lucky to have friends and family who encourage me in this goal. Not surprisingly, it has allowed me to open myself up to many new experiences. I am also lucky to live near a small independent theatre who has societies and clubs and a staff who work tirelessly (translated: jump through distributors' hoops) to give access to and create opportunities for people like me who catch their breath each time the lights go down and the titles come up.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Slow and Steady- or Not

I'm using all the resources at my disposal to make as much headway in my challenge as possible:  The library, Pay Per View, IMDB, Awards Daily, Fandango, VideoETA, small theatres, large theatres, local film societies and film clubs, and now- NetFlix.  From all my efforts, the following results:

Finished reading "Winter's Bone" and now have it on my DVR (through PPV) for late-night viewing.  Although, the book unsettled my soul enough I may have to consider making it a nap-time viewing.

I viewed "Solitary Man" (which is tracking because of the performance by Michael Douglas) on Pay Per View. Let me first say about the film, do not see it alone in a dark house on a Friday night. It was not scary, but the scenes in which the main character's isolation is highlighted are incredibly adept at making you sense the loneliness... and being alone just makes it feel that much stronger.

Went to a megaplex and saw "Secretariat," which is tracking because of Diane Lane's performance as Penny Chenery, a woman in a man's world who refuses to back down...  and understands (the way only a woman can) the need to let the horse just run.

Tonight, I am looking forward to taking in "Get Low" at our independent film house.  As much as I am looking forward to seeing Robert Duvall's performance, I'm really excited to see Sissy Spacek onscreen again.

I am really digging the "For Your Consideration" Ads this year, so will be featuring them in my blogs.  Where one isn't available, I'll try to use the film poster images like I did last year.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

So Many Stories

I normally don't blog WHILE watching a film, but this is the only quiet time I've had in weeks, and I wanted to catch up.

I am currently watching "Solitary Man" with Michael Douglas. Only a couple of minutes in, so I don't even have an initial thought yet.

My adapted screenplay sub-challenge (Refer to post "So Much Time on My Hands") is going pretty well. I've read "Never Let Me Go," "Between a Rock and a Hard Place," and am currently in the middle of "Winter's Bone." Beyond all being fascinating stories (one more gripping than others) they all seem to be ripe for translating cinematographically. I am really looking forward to seeing them on the screen, since sometimes my imagination gets a little tired and goes all black and white on my backside.

I'm so glad I challenged myself in this way, though. It's given me the chance to read some great works this year.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Socially Acceptable

Evaluating "The Social Network" is probably one of the most difficult tasks I've ever set out to do. Having zero minutes since seeing it to blog didn't make it any easier. But I've had plenty of time to think, and I have begun to feel that rather than a long-winded explanation, my simple and initial gut-reaction would sum up the film (as I saw it) best.

Everybody wants to belong to something.  The harder we try to be a part, the less we fit in.  Life and social circles, in my opinion, demand our authentic selves.  When we lose ourselves in our quests to fit our square edges into round holes, we find that we arrive right where we began:  alone.

I daresay this filter of mine isn't shared by everyone who saw the film.  To me, the brilliance of "TSN" is that it elicits thoughtful conversations from folks with as many points of view as there are friends on Facebook.  I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Think I'm Goin' Back to Massachusetts

The Bee Gees song keeps running through my head after viewing a couple of Oscar-tracking movies these last few days.  Before we get into a discussion about what a dork I am for liking the Bee Gees, let's move on to the film discussion.

First up was "The Town."  I didn't want to like this movie, for many reasons I won't go into.  The one reason I will state is that I have a rough time viewing a film with an open mind when there is a bit of "over-hype" surrounding it.  And in my area, especially, there was some over-hype.  Alas, I really liked it.  My knee-jerk nutshell description of the work was that it was a cross between "Heat" and "Good Will Hunting," which isn't necessarily a positive description, despite those two movies being high on my list of favorites.  Yet the more I discussed the storyline and other aspects with my viewing partner, the more reasons I found to love it.  I didn't want to like Ben Affleck, and I really liked him (especially his temporary tattoos).  I didn't want to believe Jeremy Renner, but I believed him so much it was startling.  Yet thinking of this film in a "Heat" and "Good Will Hunting" framework brings out some of the films negatives:  I wasn't rooting for either side (remember being confused in "Heat" about whether to root for DeNiro to get away with it, or Pacino to bring him down?) and I didn't feel satisfied by the leading man's shot at redemption.

Continuing on with the themes "Massachusetts" and "over-hype," I went to see "The Social Network."  I found myself in the exact opposite scenario from above as I walked into the theatre for this movie.  I really wanted to like it.  I really liked the book Accidental Billionaires, the theme is timely (making all of us a part of the film in some distant way), and the story is a classic tale of greed, deception, and the exploration of what makes a relationship valid and how the digital age is transforming the details of that definition.  Yet I think I'll have to save a discussion of the film for another post, because as I sit here trying to process it 17 hours later, I am finding there are so many layers and levels to the film that I'm almost not sure HOW I felt about it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Maybe Next Year

For the 4th year in a row I have not gotten selected for Oscar Bleacher Seats. Maybe the 5th anniversary of my mission will be the winner.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

So Much Time on My Hands

Remember when Sandra Bullock smelled gas on Keanu Reeves after he came up from under the bus? Upon hearing his explanation, she chastises him by saying, "You felt you needed another challenge?"

I think she'd be saying something similar to me these days as I continually stretch the reaches of The Challenge.

I have turned my attention to the category of Adapted Screenplay, a bit by accident. Even with all the hype surrounding "The Social Network" I didn't realize it was based on the novel Accidental Billionaires until I spied the book on my boss' desk. I borrowed it and set about reading it before the October 1st wide-release of the film.

Following that exercise, I thought why not do it with all tracking contenders? So I have borrowed the following from the library: Never Let Me Go, Winter's Bone, Flipped, and Between a Rock and a Hard Place (which has been adapted into Danny Boyle's film- "127 Hours.")

Yes, I must have tons of time on my hands. Either that, or I am teaching myself yet again about the type of commitment (and obsession) it takes reach a goal and to do something that makes your heart soar.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

2010 Challenges of the Challenge

I love the area in which I live for many things; access to films is not one of them.  

I was talking (translated: complaining) to fellow Film Society members today about the following quandary:  If I want to see many of the films that appear on Oscar-contender trackers, I've got hours-long drives ahead of me.  Therefore, finding ways to view as many films as possible becomes an excellent exercise in research and time management.  

I have to plot out wide-release dates, research what theatres will be showing the films, and make plans around kids' activities and spousal availability (did I mention being a working mother also presents challenges on top of challenges to my challenge?).  Add to the scheduling woes the fact that some films are no longer in theatres, and some of the documentaries may never make it this way, and then it becomes another research project into DVD release dates (did I mention sleep and I are archenemies?).  To that DVD challenge, a footnote that many of the Blockbusters in my area are closing.  

My last gripe on this proximal handicap of mine:  what on earth will I do if our local indie-favoring theatre decides not to show the animated and live action shorts this season?  I need to get on the phone to the person-in-charge there, because I'll never get close to my goal if those aren't presented again!

What's that quote about the thrill of the chase?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Preconceived Inceptions

I had said I would review "Inception" here, but it's been too long since I've seen it.  It seems besides the point now for me to write down what I thought about the film.  With all of the other critics out there, including those who are paid to tell you what they think, what does my opinion of Christopher Nolan's brilliant work matter?  All I will say  is that "Inception" deserves the Best Original Screenplay award as much as Pulp Fiction did in 1994.  It is unique, suspenseful and thought-provoking.  If you've heard it's too confusing to sit through, do yourself a favor and watch it anyway.  Sit down to view it and promise yourself that you'll make no judgments and that you won't over-think it.  Don't say to yourself "I cannot keep track of all of this."  For when it fades to black, you'll let out one big breath (because you've been holding it the whole time) and realize that you followed it much more closely than you ever could have imagined.  You'll find yourself believing DiCaprio's character when he explains“Dreams feel real while we’re in them.  It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.”

Up next:  2010 Challenges of the Challenge

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

I got my film-watching on this weekend, that is for sure! Some were for fun, some were for the challenge and one was for both!

On Friday night I kicked it off with "Date Night." I loved Steve Carrell so much, as I always do. I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I loved Mark Wahlberg in comedy. It bodes well for "The Other Guys" for me. After this I tried to move on to "Shutter Island" but kept falling asleep so I saved it for Saturday. (Tried to watch it during kids' naptime on Saturday and wound up taking a nap myself.)

On Sunday I went to see "Inception" with friends and I find myself wanting to review it in a separate post. It was amazing and I want the space to explore it. I also tried to watch "Shutter Island" again to no avail. I was asleep in under 20 minutes.

Monday morning was do or die time because my rentals were already overdue. So I triumphed over "Shutter Island" and found myself feeling like my Labor Day weekend had turned into a Leonardo-Dicaprio-delusional-dream Fest, between "SI" and "Inception." I have to say though, I loved them both.

We took the kids to see "Nanny McPhee Returns" in the afternoon, and though I loved the entire cast, I found myself missing the romance and magic of the Firth. Colin Firth that is. Nanny's departure was just so much lovelier and more magical in that original movie.

Lastly, I watched "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." It was good, but graphically true to the book, with a few uncomfortable scenes. It was also in Swedish, so I felt like my journey to the Oscars had indeed begun. Not that this movie will be recognized, just that I don't feel like I've seen an Oscar contender until I've 'read' at least 3 films!

So I used a 3 day weekend to see 5 films. I feel so productive, and yet not so. "Shutter Island," "Nanny McPhee," and "Inception" are appearing on Oscar Contender Trackers, so certainly I did some great homework.

Full thoughts on Inception to follow.

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Saturday, September 4, 2010


So in the wings this weekend, I've got the two mind-benders starring Leonardo DiCaprio.  I've rented "Shutter Island" to watch late at night so that I can appropriately scare the pee out of myself, and then watch a Sesame Street show or something like it so that I can go to sleep.

Tomorrow, I'm planning on taking in "Inception" before it leaves the last theatre in town.  I'm excited that it may turn into a viewing party with friends followed by beers and lively conversation.

If you've seen these films, I'd love to hear your thoughts on them in the comments below!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Getting Official

I kicked off September by receiving my membership cards to our local Film Society in the mail. 

It may not seem like a major deal in the scheme of everything that goes on in this world, but for me in my mission to reclaim lost dreams...  it is the proverbial heartwarming moment.

Cue swelling music score...

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Challenge- Take Two

A friend said to me the other day: "Are you going to do The Challenge again this year?" It was cool because he said 'The Challenge' as though it was a proper noun; an actual, recognized proper noun and therefore proper challenge.

I hadn't thought about it up until that point, but decided that, heck yeah I'm going to do it again this year. So at his suggestion, I'm getting started early.

As a reminder: The Challenge is for me to see as many of the Oscar-nominated films as possible prior to the Awards Broadcast.

How can I start now, you ask? I have no crystal ball, how am I going to start now? Well, until I get more versed in what makes a film or performance 'Oscar-worthy' I am relying on websites like www.awardsdaily.com that feature "contender trackers." The folks there keep their fingers on the pulse of film festival season to see which horses move out into the front of the race.

On my immediate must-see list: "Inception" and "The Kids Are All Right."

And..... ACTION!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The First Challenge Pt. 2

My first challenge has come to an end. The Oscars were handed out last night in a ceremony that was unsurprisingly long, but went surprisingly fast. I got to watch with friends for the first time, and keeping score on our ballots was certainly a fun new twist to my annual Oscar-watch. (I never thought I'd hear the words "Okay, Jamie's on the scoreboard" as I watched an awards show.)

I was able to predict 15 out of the 22 categories. I'm not sure if that's because of my challenge, or if it was because the Academy was somehow more predictable this year. I'll choose to believe that I gained some astounding insights as I watched film after nominated film (whether that's fact or fiction, I'll not debate for now.)

What I did gain from this challenge was a better understanding of what it takes to reach a goal. From the countless challenges I face in daily life (some mundane and some not so), I should have understood this to some degree already. However, in the pursuit of something that is your bliss, the lessons become more poignant and meaningful.

I learned that to achieve a goal, it will involve a certain amount of sacrifice. The pursuit will also steal a large chunk of your focus and become somewhat of an obsession. Being prepared is important (think spreadsheet and highlighters) but being willing to go with the flow at the drop of a hat is vital. Economic support is important, but constantly worrying about it will hold you back. Not to sound cliché, but knowledge is key- and if you don't already know something, be prepared to research it. Be open to learning, open to advice and ready to hear criticism. Know that you'll feel guilty and self-centered at various points in the quest, but that it's part and parcel to the adventure. Let go of fears and doubt. And perhaps the most amazing thing I learned, rather was reminded of, was that the journey is so much more rewarding with friends and loved ones in the seats beside you.

Thanks to everyone who gave me a shot and read my blog. HUGE thank yous to those who commented... it was nice to know I wasn't just rambling in cyberspace. Can't wait to see you all back for The Second Challenge. Stay tuned to see what's next.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Adored this Article

10 Ways to Win an Oscar

The Home Stretch

So I have neared the end of my journey. I don't think I can fit many more films in between now and Sunday. I have "The Hurt Locker" to view tonight, and "In the Loop" sometime Thursday or Saturday. After this past weekend, this will bring my total to: 31 out of 58 films. Here's what I thought of the most recent 4:

"The Cove" was a documentary detailing what happens to 23,000 dolphins a year in Taiji, Japan. (Taiji made American News when actress Hayden Panettiere protested with friends on surfboards in the water trying to save the animals from the oncoming slaughter.) The coverage is difficult to watch, but this work is probably one of the best films I've seen during this challenge. It has authentic suspense and what struck me most was the passion Ric O'Barry has for the dolphins... how that passion inspired world class divers, a rock concert organizer, a marine scientist and an adrenaline junkie to risk arrest and persecution to bring this reality to the world.

I wanted "The Young Victoria" to go on and on for hours. It was SO beautiful to watch. The colors were rich, the costumes were gorgeous and Emily Blunt was a perfect sovereign. I consider a movie great that inspires me to learn more on the subject matter, and I truly want to learn more about Victoria and Albert following my viewing of this beautiful piece of filmmaking. I'm a sucker, though, for strong women- and I will for certain be adding this one to my collection of Elizabeth films.

I probably shouldn't have seen them on the same day because they are such contrasting pieces, but I followed Victoria with "The Messenger" starring Woody Harrelson. Such a well-done film, but so hard to watch. My heart broke as families fell apart at the news of a loved one being killed in action. It's too real and all I could think about was how many times that has had to happen. What I appreciated, however, was seeing how it tore 'the messengers' apart as well- and the rules they have to follow on a notification to keep the situation under control.

Lastly, "Coco Before Chanel." While I am now used to subtitles and hearing French, I didn't care for the movie as much as I'd hoped and the costuming (for which it was nominated) wasn't nearly as exciting as I thought it would be. If you read one of my earlier blogs, you'll see I was rather rooting for this movie to win its category. I'm not so sure now.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Making More Progress

Last night I managed to sneak in the feature length documentary "The Cove" and today my backside is glued to the theater chair for "The Young Victoria" and "The Messenger."

Later this evening, I've still got "The Hurt Locker" and "Coco Before Chanel" to view.

I'm trying to decide if this challenge is work or self-indulgence.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010


I am not kidding, this movie opened up in Yiddish with English subtitles. I almost couldn't take another subtitled film, but I persevered in the name of my Oscar Challenge and eventually discovered that the film was in English.

Lovers of movies with a plot will not like this one. It's really just a message or a lesson on film. I knew the key was to parallel the dad's experiences with the son's, but I missed a key message from the third Rabbi and only put the final pieces together after watching the "Making the Movie" bonus feature on the DVD. I was grateful to be reminded, however, that the answers we seek in life are as simple as the Rabbi's message and if we aren't paying attention- we miss them.

Once I understood all of the elements that were in play I loved the way this story unfolded. Michael Stuhlbarg was brilliant at portraying a frazzled Larry Gopnik who just could not take one more misfortune or uncomfortable circumstance, and just wanted to know 'why.' "I don't want it to just go away! I want an answer!"

My favorite part of the film was how it faded out after giving visual representations of the cliché thought that none of the things we take so seriously in life matter for a moment in the face of something graver. And it takes you back to the quote that opens the film- a quote from the medieval French rabbi Rashi- "Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you."

Glorious Inglourious

I really liked this movie. Again, not up there with my favorites of all time, but I really and truly liked the script and the acting and the pace of the film.

The problem for me was I was in my head too much as I watched it. I had my politically correct filter on and I kept thinking "This has GOT to be offending somebody." I have to admit, though, that I did love Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine. "When you join my command you take on a debit..."

I don't think I've whined on my blog yet about all the subtitles I've had to read in my quest to see all the Oscar nominated films. I have never had to read more movies in my life. If I thought I was safe with "Inglourious Basterds," I thought wrong. This movie switched languages in the middle of conversations. After a while I could have sworn I was reading French and hearing English.

I'll look forward to watching it again in the following conversations with friends I have who I know for a fact LOVED this movie.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Half-Time Report

So, with 12 or so days until the Oscar ceremony my score is as follows:

I began the month having only seen 4 of the 58 nominated films. I have added 20 to that count for a total of 24 out of 58. I have 5 (possible 6) films waiting in the wings.

After some research done by my husband we have found that many of the remaining films are no longer in the theatres around here, and don't come out until April on DVD.

I'm trying to decide if my challenge is worth scouring for boot-legged copies at the flea market.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


All I had to do was issue myself an ultimatum... and Voila! I FINALLY saw "Avatar" today.

I wouldn't dub this my favorite movie of all time, but I definitely loved it. I took everyone's recommendation and saw it in 3D... and it was so gorgeous to watch. I was breathless as he flew through Pandora... wishing I could fly like that, or at least vividly dream of it.

At a couple of moments during the film, I found myself harkening back to Titanic, when strains of the Avatar's score echoed the earlier film and when I realized that the hero in Avatar was named Jake while Titanic's hero was Jack.

However, once the movie really got going, I couldn't help but get lost in the story and feel frustrated at its accurate portrayal of those in power who feel that every gift of nature is there for the strongest's taking... that peace is second in line to making money... and that those who use force to 'keep peace' are only doing what they feel is right. Will there ever be an answer or resolution to the quandry of two sides to the same coin?

In other themes, the film does work to inspire reconnection to nature and reconnection to faith in something bigger than ourselves... an energy, an awareness that connects us all. In fact, my favorite image from the movie was the one in which Jake was accepted into the clan, and the first Na'vi laid their hands on him, and then others laid their hands on them and so on and so on until every member of the tribe formed one big interconnected chain. I was also moved by the fact that their greeting, their highest form of respect, was to tell one another "I see you."

Being seen and being heard reminds us all that we are connected, loved and important.

Live Action Shorts

Let's hear it for Sweden! I absolutely adored "Instead of Abracadabra." If I was a voting member of the Academy, I would be waving my wand over ther ballots and shouting "Chimay" (the word he uses instead of... you get the idea) so that this film would win. Perhaps it won't need my magic though, it was so uplifting and funny it must be winning people over in all corners of the world.

All of the live actions were beautiful, but Abracadabra was the only light-hearted offering.

My second choice would be "The New Tenants" (Denmark) which was darkly hilarious.

The other three were "Kavi" (India), "Miracle Fish" (Austrailia) and "The Door" (Ireland). Each of them touched on poignant and heartbreaking themes and each of them had children in tragic situations. I hate to watch children suffering, scared and sad.

My prediction for this category (which is much different from my pick) would be "Kavi." It sought to seek awareness and inspire change in a situation that seems huge and hopeless: modern day slavery. I also felt like it was a short follow-up to last year's "Slum Dog Millionaire."

Animated Shorts

This weekend turned into one big opportunity to reach my goal. I got the chance to see ALL of the nominees for Best Animated Short and Best Live Action Short... something I thought I wouldn't get the chance to do!

Out of the animated shorts, my pick would be "Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty (Ireland)." Perhaps it's because I'm partial to the Irish sense of humor or maybe it's because I have a strong affinity for the elderly. Whatever the case, this one tickled my funny bone and made me thoughtful all at the same time. It was a satirical commentary on society's tendency to forget those who have given their lives to us... and need our love and compassion more than ever in their aging years.

My other favorites were "French Roast" (France) and "The Lady and the Reaper" (Spain). Those two illustrated (no pun intended) that language isn't necessary to tell a funny, touching and meaningful story.

I didn't care for "Logorama"(France) at all. Call me old-fashioned, but I don't care for extreme profanity in my animation.

My prediction for the category would be "Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death." (UK) It was the longest offering and it was so clever. They also have an established following.

But if I had my way, Granny O'Grimm would be hobbling up to the podium to accept this award. To view her reaction to being nominated visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvaAVh5APs4

Friday, February 19, 2010

Even If It Kills Me....

I WILL see "Avatar" this weekend. Oh yes (said a la "Wayne's World").

Even if I have to go to a 2am show.

I could do that.

I'd just go to bed at 7pm and wake up at 1am.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Blood and Guts

I don't know if I can keep going...

I'm afraid the theme of blood and guts will be in more movies (Inglourious Basterds?). It was definitely prevalent in "District Nine." The gore was hard to stomach at times. Some of it because there was just so much... the rest because it was so severe in nature (guts splattering the camera lens). Completely obliterating humans, no matter how evil they seem, just never appeals to me.

This story is very Kafka-esque, with the main protagonist turning into a 'vermin' or in this case alien. The allegory of becoming something you've despised and mistreated was not lost on me. One could also draw comparisons between the 'aliens' of District 9 to immigrants in slum areas of various countries... and the hostilities that exist towards them from the citizens of their new home, as well as the seemingly hopeless situations they find themselves in as they search for a better life.

The movie left me feeling sad, and showed me images I can't 'unsee.' Peter Jackson was a producer on this and so I'm imagining it has a shot to win one Award at least. It is nominated for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing and Visual Effects. Since it's up against "Avatar" in all but one category, if it wins anything, I would think it would be for Adapted Screenplay. Although in that category it's up against "Up in the Air" which won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, so maybe not.

That being said, I may have seen this movie for nothing.

Kidding. Horizons were broadened...seriously.

Sweet Coraline

I would like to be mysterious and dark and say I ADORED this film... but I am not a fan of this type of abstract/stop-motion animation.

I did, however, love the story and I think Dakota Fanning did an awesome job voicing Coraline. I loved all of the characters and definitely loved the moral of the story (what parent wouldn't love the idea of a "be happy with the parents you've got" storyline?) I might even consider seeing it again in 3D because some of the imagery was so innovative.

But both my 8 year old and I were disturbed by the button eyes and the characters expressions being frozen by being sewn. We also jumped at various parts surrounding the ghost children and the dolls that spy on you. I was also a tiny bit put off by the gigantic stop-motion animated breasts on one of the characters, covered only by pasty-style stars.

I've seen 3 of the 5 nominated Animated Feature Films... and definitely feel this one is the front-runner. While it is nice to have a new Princess, "Princess and the Frog" didn't strike me as an award winner. And while I adored "Up," it also seemed simply another adorable offering from Pixar.

But stop-motion photography that breaks boundaries and is originally shot in 3D with a story that has punch and characters that you come to adore... that should win something, especially Best Animated Feature.

Progress and Politics

Yesterday and today, sick in my bed, I was able to make some progress on my movie goal. Three more movies down, bringing my total to 12 out of 58... a little over 1/5 of the movies nominated for the 82nd Oscar Awards.

In the last couple of days I have watched "Il Divo," the story of Italian politician Giulio Andreotti. They called it the Italian "Nixon" which didn't help me since I'd never seen "Nixon." Also, it was all in Italian, so it was another movie to 'read.' I don't mind reading, but it makes it difficult to get all of the nuances and subtleties of what is being said and portrayed. To top it all off, it is a political movie, and I will be the first to tell everyone that I do not have a great political mind. One thing I did catch was a quote that has had me thoughtful: "To fight corruption, evil is the best tool." I am paraphrasing, but something to that effect was stated by the main character. I wonder if that is true, or if catching flies with honey is a better bet that nobody has been brave enough to try.

This movie was only nominated for makeup, so I guess I'd have to research what the actor looked like and how close they came to making him look like Andreotti to see if the makeup was Oscar-worthy. I now only have to see "Young Victoria" and I could make an 'educated guess' as to who might win the Oscar in this category (Star Trek being the third nominee).

But again, if the vote is in any way influenced by politics of an industry I am not a part of, I will be lost for sure.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

French Loops

Not a movie you can put on and work on a project to, since it's subtitled. This movie was nominated for Best Song, but it's up against Disney and hasn't Disney won in this category for the last 82 years or so?

The movie itself was okay. I'm afraid Moulin Rouge has spoiled me for amazing love stories, and I just couldn't get deep enough into the love story of this movie. I did appreciate the element of the father loving and missing his son, however. It was portrayed very tenderly.

I'm no expert, but it just seemed like there were 8 too many story lines going on, and none of them were fully developed. Maybe the French threw me for a loop.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Food, Inc.

This film is nominated for Best Documentary: Feature Length. I haven't seen the others in this category yet, but this one should win... and probably won't if lobbyists or politicians or lawyers or corporations or anyone standing to lose money if people start making better food choices have anything to say about it.

It should win just not for its own body of work, but to make up for the other pioneering film "Super Size Me" losing in this same category. I can't remember, did "An Inconvenient Truth" win the year it was nominated? The same people behind that movie are behind "Food, Inc." and they did such a remarkable job.

I recommend anyone seeing this work. It is at times gross and at times very sad, it is eye-opening and damning all at once. Yet it ends on a hopeful note giving the 'average Joe' tools for making a difference. (www.takepart.com/foodinc)

I view Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Robert Kenner (Food, Inc.) as the Upton Sinclair's of our time. All pointing out that food shouldn't be 'engineered' and eating healthy and well shouldn't make the divide between rich and poor a matter of life and death.

Failing Grade

I don't know if I get the failing grade on this, or if the movie does. I tried to watch "Tranformers: Revenge of the Fallen" twice and fell asleep both times. I made it through 3/4 of the movie and gave up.

Maybe it's because I don't like the images of little robots going in through someone's mouth and coming out their nose, or maybe it's because though I agree Megan Fox is HOT to look at, I just couldn't get any kind of vibe on her performance. Ditto Josh Duhamel. Or perhaps it's because I found myself preferring the animation of the 80's cartoons to the CGI of the film... I'm not really sure.

It was nominated for Sound Mixing, which if I knew more about the category I would probably agree with. It did have great sound effects.

Though not good enough to keep me awake (twice).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Snail's Pace

It has taken me two nights to get through Star Trek, which is nominated for 4 Academy Awards. Two of the award categories are Make-up and Visual Effects. I like the makeup and appreciate that it's so well done, the futuristic alien world looks plausible. Visual Effects are great, but does ST really have a snow ball's chance in hell against Avatar in the same category? I've not seen the latter yet, but going on all the raves, I'd say no.

The other two categories Star Trek is nominated in are Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. I don't know much about what it would take to win these awards. I'll do a little research and visit this discussion again. (Can it be a discussion if I'm the only participant?) Of course, will research be necessary when I note that again in these categories it's competing with Avatar, and now The Hurt Locker as well? From what I am reading, those two movies have the potential to sweep on March 7. More film viewing and more learning is definitely in order.

The major thought provoker this evening is this: If I am only getting through 1 movie every two nights... am I going to get anywhere near making a dent in the goal?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Oscar Party

Following a view of my blog... a friend started talking about Oscar parties. It reminded me of this one my husband threw me for my 30th. It was a tiny little taste of what that winter night might be like. Of course, the room we were in was SWELTERING, so the winter part was a little off!

If you were required to dress as a celebrity for an Oscar Night Party... who would you dress up like?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bright Star- directed by Jane Campion

This movie dramatizes the love affair that occured between John Keats and Fannie Braun. It was a lovely story and informative to boot. I had no idea Keats died at 25 feeling he had failed as a poet.

Like the geek I am, I sat with my poetry book at the ready so that I could follow along as they recited his works. "A Thing of Beauty" has always been my favorite of his, but the title poem "Bright Star! Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art" was given new meaning.

The only nomination for this film is for Costume. I wonder if it's obligatory that every period piece gets nominated in this category?

Other nominees include "The Young Victoria," which I fear is just another period piece thrown in for good measure. I am most looking forward to finding and viewing "Coco Before Chanel" and "Nine." They just might offer something unique with which to compete!

Unforeseen Obstacles which should have been Foreseen

When one thinks of movies, one thinks of the expense it incurs to treat oneself to seeing something new. Going to the movies costs an arm and a leg, and the popcorn costs the remaining limbs.

So why it did not occur to me that this challenge was going to be expensive is beyond me. I'm going to chalk it up to the fervor of Oscar nomination day.

The silver lining is I am well on my way to making great progress in my quest! With help and permission from my husband, here is what I have in the wings:

Waiting on my DVR: "The Hurt Locker," "Inglourious Basterds," and "District 9." (At $5 a pop, that is $15 that will appear on our next DISH bill.)

DVD's lined up next to my rocking chair: "Bright Star," "Star Trek," "Transformers 2," "Paris 36," "Il Divo," "Food, Inc.," and "Coraline." (These gems cost us $50 at Blockbuster, but put us well on our way to earning a free movie on our rewards card... yippee!)

It was also pointed out to me that to fit every film in, I'd have to watch at least 2 a day during the challenge. Interesting and rational point. But as you can see from this challenge, I'm not so much into rational thinking at the present time.

So... $65 before I've seen the first film, and before I've ventured out to a theatre, in addition to wondering when on earth I'm going to fit all this in definitely gives me pause... I cannot lie.

But doing something just a little left of center gives my spirits a tiny thrill and sets my soul to smiling.

The First Challenge

I'm not a movie junkie. I cannot recite dates and quotes off the top of my head like baseball fans can quote stats. Don't get me wrong, I can recall famous lines and remember actor names from favorite films and blockbusters, but I am not a walking IMDB.

That being said, I ADORE Oscar season. My calendar has notes pencilled in: "Oscar Nomination Day," "Academy Awards- NO OTHER EVENTS," and "Apply for Bleacher Seats." I've never gotten the bleacher seats, but it's been a long time since I've missed the televised event.

I don't watch it for the dresses. I can't stand the pre-shows. I don't really watch the wrap-ups either. I like the ceremony itself... full of people who, at one point, sat in their bedroom and had a dream of doing something BIG. And no matter how famous they've become, or how jaded by their industry, or how political their nomination may have been... that dream is right down in the soul of it all.

I imagine this is how a sports enthusiast feels about the Superbowl or the Olympics.

So, since I have missed out on my bleacher seats for the 5th Consecutive year, and inspired by a movie that only got one Oscar Nom... I issued myself a 2010 Challenge. Here it is, a la "Julie & Julia:"

I am going to (try) to see EVERY movie
that's been nominated this year.

Do I think I'll do it? Perhaps not. There are a lot of them... and the foreign films will really present a challenge. The point is, though, I'm going to try. Which is a lot more than I've done in the past.

If my spreadsheet is correct (those of you who know me are not surprised by a spreadsheet), Here is where my count stands as of Oscar Nomination Day, 2/2/2010:

Out of 58 nominated films in 24 categories...

I have seen 4.

Holy popcorn, Batman... this is going to be interesting.