It's officially award season, and as critics and industry groups continue to name their favorites, Oscar patterns begin to form. Based on the early lists (New York's Film Critics Circle handed out their winners earlier this week) one movie has already taken its place as a frontrunner: Zero Dark Thirty. The film, directed by Kathryn Bigelow and starring Jessica Chastain, chronicles the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden and it's striking a chord with voting members across the board. Today, the National Board of Review bestowed their top honor to the sharp thriller, along with its directing award for Bigelow and Best Actress for Chastain. With months to go until Oscar time, the talk of the town is all about Zero Dark Thirty.
But newcomers emerged as well: Bradley Cooper is now a real contender for Silver Linings Playbook and Leonardo DiCaprio solidifies himself as the Supporting Actor to beat for his work in Django Unchained. There are plenty more groups who will vote and name winners in the upcoming weeks, but for now, here are the names whose Academy Award odds just skyrocketed:
Zero Dark Thirty
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Best Supporting Actor:
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Best Supporting Actress:
Ann Dowd, Compliance
Best Original Screenplay:
Rian Johnson, Looper
Best Adapted Screenplay:
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Best Animated Feature:
Special Achievement in Filmmaking:
Ben Affleck, Argo
Tom Holland, The Impossible
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best Directorial Debut:
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best Foreign Language Film:
Searching for Sugarman
William K. Everson Film History Award:
50 Years of Bond Films
John Goodman (Argo, Flight, ParaNorman, Trouble with the Curve)
NBR Freedom of Expression Award:
Central Park Five
NBR Freedom of Expression Award:
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[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures]
Watch the Second Trailer for 'Zero Dark Thirty'
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Didja hear? New Year’s Eve is this weekend! (Yeah, we’re bummed about it not falling on a weekday, too. Friday would’ve been nice.) And contrary to New Year’s Eve’s shocking lack of quality AND box office, the celebration/quasi-holiday has a place in movies. Dec. 31 might not be as cinematically appealing as Valentine’s Day or Christmas or Halloween or Ballpoint Pen Day (June 10, by the way) when it comes to setting, but many a good movie has taken place just prior to the proverbial clock striking midnight – or featured a memorable scene in the run-up to the New Year. Here are our favorites.
New Year’s Eve isn’t always cause for celebration. For William H. Macy’s Little Bill, it’s a time to kill – in this case, his wife and her boyfriend, then himself. It’s one of many memorable, if slightly disturbing, scenes in Paul Thomas Anderson’s breakout porn drama.
When Harry Met Sally
You didn’t think we’d forget, did you? This line says it all – or at least much more than we can: "I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts ... I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."
The Godfather Part II
Lest we forget, the greatest sequel ever made, while not as overtly a New Year’s Eve movie as, say, New Year’s Eve, does feature quite a memorable, important NYE party, which ultimately begat the line "I know it was you, Fredo; you broke my heart." ‘Nuff said.
Kathryn Bigelow’s grossly underrated – at least commercially – dystopian thriller predicts (it was released in 1995, after all) an L.A. in complete disarray leading up to New Year’s Eve 1999. Like her Oscar winner The Hurt Locker, Strange Days is tense, gritty and exciting; unlike said Iraq War movie, Days was co-written by her onetime husband James Cameron!
The Poseidon Adventure
The definitive New Year’s Eve disaster flick (not to be confused with the flat 2006 remake), Poseidon Adventure is basically what the Titanic disaster would’ve looked if it were the result of a tsunami instead of an iceberg – and took place on Dec. 31/Jan. 1 instead of April 15.
The Best New Year’s Eve Scene, Comedy, involves – in no particular order – Paul Gleason, a train, assault, a gorilla, and a man in a gorilla costume. Also: Eddie Murphy.
About a Boy
This Weitz brothers-directed dramedy a New Year’s Eve movie is obviously not a "New Year's Eve" movie in any way, shape or form, but since Hugh Grant and Rachel Weisz’s characters first cross paths at a NYE party – and the scene happens to be integral and well done – it more than makes the cut.
The movie has become fairly grating with age – perhaps thanks to nonstop airings on basic cable over the years – but the New Year’s Eve scene, with Forrest and a justifiably embittered Lt. Dan, remains a stark, refreshingly unwatered-down sequence with superb acting all around.
Renner won an Oscar nomination for his role as Sergeant First Class William James, who leads a team of bomb disposal experts through Iraq in Kathryn Bigelow's critically-acclaimed war drama.
And the actor found himself walking through a minefield for real after he flew out to the Middle East as part of a United Nations (U.N.) mission to highlight victims of the hidden bombs and those who are helping defuse the explosives.
Renner visited the region of Bagram in Afghanistan and donned a Kevlar suit and protective mask to walk through a minefield at the weekend (26-27Jun10).
He tells Reuters, "It's tremendous. Seeing the guys firsthand is a wonderful gift for me. I don't think there are many guys in my position - I'm just a silly actor - that get an opportunity to come out to Afghanistan at a time of war and get to experience this."
At least Bewitched has the smarts to reinvent itself contemporizing rather than going for a straight remake. First we meet Isabel (Nicole Kidman) a naïve good-natured witch who wants to give up her supernatural powers to lead a "normal" life--much to the chagrin of her warlock father Nigel (Michael Caine). He doesn't believe she can do it. Neither do we. Then on the other side of town we meet Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell) a nearly washed-up actor who's done one too many bad films. To get back on track he decides to do an updated version of the beloved 1960s sitcom Bewitched. As the mere-mortal Darrin Wyatt would be the star of the show not the actress cast as Samantha. In order for that to happen a nobody must play the witch. Lo and behold Jack runs into Isabel who can manipulate her dainty nose in just the right wriggle. He persuades her to take the part while she sees Jack as the quintessential mortal man with whom she can settle down and lead the normal life she so desires. Think it'll work out? (Cue the Bewitched theme song).
We all know Kidman can play complicated and romantic and Ferrell can do comedy. But in Bewitched they each try to do something beyond those skill sets. Unfortunately they can't quite pull it off. Kidman of course is a consummate actress. She can take on just about any character and make it her own including the slightly ditzy eternally cute Isabel. And so she taps into her inner witch once again (like she did in Practical Magic). But trying to remake comedies (like The Stepford Wives) especially something as balls-out as Bewitched doesn't really suit the Oscar winner all that well. And in Ferrell's case he hilariously handles all of Bewitched's improvisational comedic moments as expected. But watching him try to be a romantic leading man is a bit cringe-worthy. I mean if you can make smooching on Nicole Kidman look uncomfortable you certainly aren't doing the job. As far as the rest of the cast everyone is pretty much wasted in one form or another. Caine as Isabel's debonair roué of a father and Shirley MacLaine as the diva-esque actress who plays Bewitched's wonderful Endora have a couple of bright moments but don't get nearly enough to do. The same goes for Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore) as Jack's unctuous agent and Kristin Chenoweth (from the Broadway musical Wicked) as Isabel's spirited neighbor. Even Steve Carrell (TV's The Office) as the irascible Uncle Arthur can't offer the right spontaneity. What a shame.
One of Bewitched's saving graces however is writer-director Nora Ephron. She knows romantic comedies having helmed such hits as Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail as well as writing the quintessential romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally…. Bewitched is right up her alley and she fluffs it up like a pro. Yet overall the film is just too darn silly for its own good. Maybe Bewitched suffers from the whole TV-turned-film phenomena in general. The idea of taking such classic TV favorites and adapting them into feature films continues to prove there isn't a shred of originality left in the studio system. But sometimes the concept works (Starsky & Hutch is one that comes to mind). Fans like me are curious as to how filmmakers will rework the material and are especially interested in who they decide to cast to play those beloved icons. We end up giving each one of these big-screen treatment iterations a chance--and are usually disappointed. Bewitched is no exception. Besides being only mildly entertaining to diehard fans Bewitched's inside jokes will most likely go over the heads of those who can't tell Samantha Darrin Endora Aunt Clara Uncle Arthur or Mrs. Kravitz from the characters on I Dream of Jeannie. Probably best just to own the sitcom's DVD collection instead.
After wrecking things with his fiancée Felicia (Vivica A. Fox) Jerry (Cuba Gooding Jr) decides to book a cruise with his best friend Nick (Horatio Sanz) to find love and romance on the high seas. But when Nick inadvertently ticks off the travel agent he exacts revenge by booking the straight pals on a gay ship. Once aboard and stuck at sea Nick desperate to escape aims a flare gun at a passing helicopter so they can airlift them back to heterosexual land. Instead he causes the chopper to crash-land forcing its 12 chesty passengers members of a Swedish sun tanning team to take refuge on the boat. Nick spends the rest of the film trying to sleep with them but always ends up with the virile butch head coach instead. Meanwhile Jerry gets drunk falls into the pool and wakes up to find the beautiful dance instructor Gabriella (Roselyn Sanchez) performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on him. He tries to sleep with her but she thinks he's gay. Jerry lets her believe this because it allows her to let her guard down undress in front of him and talk about meaningful things including how to give a good blow job. But hold on to your visors--there's a twist! Jerry's ex jumps on board mid-voyage to reclaim her man only to find him singing "I'm Coming Out" in a sequined thong.
The most devastating thing about Boat Trip is the fact that it stars Gooding. Is this the same actor who delivered a mind-blowing performance as Tre in John Singleton's 1991 directorial debut Boyz N the Hood and earned the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1996 for the role of football player Rod Tidwell in Jerry Maguire? At some point Gooding's film choices took a wrong turn and a string of debacles ensued: Rat Race Pearl Harbor Snow Dogs and now this. As Jerry Gooding who portrayed a gay art dealer so eloquently in As Good As It Gets spends 93 minutes proclaiming his heterosexuality and making really stupid faces at the camera. Although Gooding's character Jerry is a sweet guy he's also a flake and it's hard to relate to all the dumb choices he makes throughout the film. Jerry's pal Nick is played by Saturday Night Live alum Sanz (The New Guy) who during his two-year stint on the late night comedy sketch show displayed his versatility and comedic skill nailing impressions and garnering praise--including comparisons to the late SNL great John Belushi. In Boat Trip however Sanz's character Nick an oversexed twerp in a cabana shirt is reduced to being the butt of jokes.
Director Mort Nathan's Boat Trip should have been called The Love Boat: The Homophobic Voyage because it plays out like one of those two-hour TV movies based on the 1970s sitcom. But while the Pacific Princess promised us that love wouldn't hurt anymore it's as hurtful as can be on Boat Trip's deluxe ocean liner. Take Nick for example. He just wants a little lovin' from Swedish sun tanner Inga but is instead chased by the team's manly coach who likes to show off her deep-throat skills on a baseball bat. Not only is this disturbing it's not funny which is the problem with Nathan and William Bigelow's script. The humor isn't seamless and you can smell a joke's set up from a mile away. And unfortunately a bunch of bad jokes strung together do not a good story make--especially when the script is littered with two-dimensional characters. The most objectionable thing about this film however is not its crude humor or its cartoonish stereotypes but the fact that it actually tries to deliver a moral with its story. Jerry and Nick leave their cruise with the knowledge that straight dudes can actually be friends with gay guys because they can be professional businessmen too such as doctors and accountants. You don't say?