February 29, 2008

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog

At long last, our move is complete, and I'm back online. I'm sure you've been missing me, right?

So much to catch up on! Here's a brief rundown of what I'll be discussing in the coming days:

  • Oscar telecast wrap-up
  • Review of Vantage Point
  • Top Model casting special and premiere
  • Runway finale part 1
  • Lost's latest time-bending you-know-what
  • 3 book reviews
Wow - that's a lot! Stay tuned, and let's talk, m'kay?

February 17, 2008

Oscar Picks!

The Oscars are on! Because the writers are finally getting their due. So that means that I can in good conscience post my Oscar picks for 2007. There's a lot I have missed this year (sadly the Shorts in particular), but I'll do my best with my predictions. Feel free to post your own here, and we'll see who does well on Sunday!

Best Picture

Having seen Atonement, I can attest that it doesn't stand a chance here. And although I really liked Michael Clayton and am holding out hope for Juno, conventional wisdom is that this year the focus will be between No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. Considering I haven't seen Country, my gut says it will win.

Best Actor

Let's be honest - this is Daniel Day-Lewis' award to lose.

Best Actress

For awhile now it's been said that Julie Christie was a lock, because she was so luminous in Away From Her (she was) and it's been so long since she graced the screen. Ellen Page is very good, but will she pegged as typecast? On this one I'm following my heart and saying that Marion Cotillard will reign supreme for her stunning careeer-spanning depiction of Edith Piaf.

Best Supporting Actor

This is the one major category where I'm behind the curve, as the only performance I've seen is Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton (and he was very good). But everyone on the planet says that Javier Bardem is a lock, so I'll go with the sure bet.

Best Supporting Actress

An interesting race this year, as a lot of the talk has been about Cate Blanchett, but then Ruby Dee got a surprise award from the SAG. Amy Ryan has also been getting raves, and I was very impressed by Tilda Swinton. The only sure best here is that Saoirse Ronan won't win (she's not in half the movie, and isn't stellar anyway). I'll put my money on Cate this year.

Best Director

PT Anderson is "cool" in Hollywood, but I think the Coen brothers are considered cooler.

Best Documentary Feature

All I've seen in this category is Sicko, which was good but not amazing. The buzz is on No End in Sight so that gets my vote.

Best Documentary Short Subject

Freeheld is a heart-tugger about a lesbian - how can I not vote for that?

Best Animated Feature

Nice things have been said about Persepolis, and it's defintiely on my must-see list. Ratatouille, however, is a hot dish.

Best Foreign Language Film

No clue here, but I hear that Austria's The Counterfeiters is about the Holocaust, which gives it a decent chance.

Best Cinematography

Much has been said about a very long tracking shot midway through Atonement. Is that enough? I'm going to go for There Will Be Blood, where the camera work was a big part of what made it so stunning.

Best Original Screenplay

My worry is that Juno won't win anything else, but this will still be a nice prize for Diablo Cody to take home.
Best Adapted Screenplay

It's a nice honor for young Sarah Polley to be nominated here, but again, the momentum is all for the Coen brothers and No Country for Old Men.

Best Visual Effects

Transformers is probably the safe bet, but I'm going to stake my claim that inserting CG animal daemons into every shot (not to mention a polar bear battle) will give The Golden Compass an edge.

Best Animated Short

Ugh, I'm so sad I have to miss these. I'll say that Peter and the Wolf will give voters some childhood nostalgia.

Best Live Action Short

And for this one I like the name The Tonto Woman. And it's a western theme, which is for some reason very hot this year.

Best Art Direction

There are some sumptous scenes in many of these films, Atonement being a prime example. There Will Be Blood is very nice to look at, although its bleakness may turn off voters. I'm going to say that this is the one vote that will go for Sweeney Todd for its consistently dark tone.
Best Costume Design

At last - the one category in which I've seen all five nominees! Unfortunately the choice isn't easy (and I'm surprised There Will Be Blood was shut out). Will it go to the big musical - Sweeney Todd? Or the French film? That green dress in Atonement? All acceptable choices, but I'll go with tradition and say the showy historical drama wins - Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

Best Film Editing

I defy the conventional wisdom, and say this should go to The Bourne Ultimatum. One of the film's greatest strengths is the razor-sharp editing that keeps you in the moment, but doesn't make you nauseous.

Best Sound Mixing

This one generally goes to the loudest movie, so it's Transformers.

Best Sound Editing

Expect a twofer for Transformers.

Best Original Score

Thankfully there was no nomination for that grating score in There Will Be Blood! I'm going out on a limb and voting for Atonement, which was enhanced by the driving music full of...typewriters. Seriously!

Best Original Song

Enchanted was sweet but the music was forgettable, and the 3 songs should split the vote. So I've got my fingers firmly crossed for "Falling Slowly" from the the wonderful Once.

Best Makeup

It would be a crime if this didn't go to La Vie En Rose, which took a twenty-something actress and had her convincingly playing a young chanteuse and an older woman dying of liver cancer.

So how about you folks? How do your picks stack up?

On a side note, we're going to be without any reliable internet access for about a week. So this will be my last post for a bit.

Black Blood

There Will Be Blood

We decided it was time to see this critical darling in time for the Oscars. "What is all the fuss about?" we wondered. Is Daniel Day-Lewis really that good?

In short - yes, he is. He fully inhabits the dastardly character of Daniel Planview, an oil profiteer at the start of the 20th century. Plainview appears to be of one mind throughout - the best profit at any cost, no matter who needs to get stepped on along the way. But his Achilles' heel is the love he has for his adopted son, H.W., which he wouldn't care to admit.

Overall my feeling towards the film is lukewarm. On the one hand, it's a realistic insight into the trials and travails of living on rough terrain in the days when towns were just being constructed. The costumes and sets are well rendered, the cinematography is striking in its bleakness, and most of the acting is strong.

But the vexing issue is the plot, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. I can handle the fact that it's in a way episodic. We don't learn how Plainview got to be so good at his work, and we don't know what ultimately becomes of him (although you can certainly guess). Still, the pieces of story are haphazardly thrown together. It can certainly be frustrating if you're used to a constant narrative through line. I think this type of storytelling works better when the various plot points focus on different characters, such as Anderson's far superior Magnolia.

Also annoying to me was the confusion over Eli and his brother Paul. If you're not really paying attention, you could assume (as I did) that they were one and the same person, which is perplexing to say the least. It's not until halfway through the film that it becomes clear who's who and at that point my brain was a bit fried. Regardless, Eli was so annoying, I admit I was rooting for the bowling pin at the end.

All in all it's a film worth watching, and it's not nearly as violent as some reviews have made it out to be. The only violence we really see is the cunning with which Day-Lewis attacks this role. And in a week, will earn his Oscar.

February 09, 2008

Tyra Eats the Big Apple

The word on the streets (of Hollywood, that is) heralds that the writers' strike may finally be coming to an end. Not that we'll have much to salvage in the current TV season, but most importantly it means that Lost can keep progressing! After this past week's accelerated introduction of the Chopper Crew, can you imagine it cutting off after 8 episodes? The horror!

But in the meantime, reality television plows on, filling in the void. The best part of that is that Top Model is back on the 20th! And the show has returned to its roots in New York City. Hollah!

Don't click the link if you don't want to be spoiled as to who the starting pool of bitches will be, but I did notice one key face. Remember tough girl and Grace Jones doppelganger Marvita from the auditions last season? Well it appears she has returned a'la Jaslene to take a crack at it again. It is definitely a shame she was cut last time, as we were left with the #1 nimrod, Mila.

In the meantime, you can enjoy clip shows that help us revisit all the most choice Top Model moments. Remember how crazy Monique was about food in the house and using the phone? Or how crazy and unreasonable Bre became about her damn granola bars? And that Joanie was the most awesomest ever?

Of course they didn't mention Jade in part 1 last week, so you know she's getting her own big highlight in part 2. Because she was the craziest beeyotch ever. Ah, memories!

February 03, 2008

The Oceanic 6

Lost is back! What - have I not mentioned that lately?

Anywho, the premiere got off to a rollicking start, and the best part is that for once a season wasn't Jack-centric for the first episode! Yep, this time it was focused on Hurley, dude. He certainly was screaming a lot, wasn't he? And as usual, we saw some interesting things, and were left with new questions.

  1. The flash-forward was in full effect right away, which was cool. Now that we have 3 different time lines going on, I think my brain will implode if we see all of them in one episode. Talk about a mindfuck!
  2. Hurley screamed that he was one of the "Oceanic 6!" We know that Jack and Kate are two of them - who are the other 3? I assume there's at least one more male (Kate's quote in the season 3 finale - "I have to go home, he'll wonder where I am."). Any bets?
  3. Hurley was also being asked a few times if "they were still alive." What is the secret about the island that the Oceanic 6 don't want people to know about? That more than 6 actually survived?
  4. Was Hurley just hallucinating, or was that somehow actually Charlie visiting him through some crazy time-space continuum thing?
  5. Now Hurley has also seen Jacob's shack. Whose eye was that? I think it was Locke's.
  6. Naomi's not dead! Oh wait, yes she is.
  7. So now we have two camps - those following Jack to an uncertain future with the "freighter folk" and those who are heeding the warnings of Locke and Charlie. Although I get that Rose feels a certain devotion to Jack, isn't it surprising she wants to leave the island that has healed her?
It sounds like next week's episode will be even juicier, so I can't wait!

Here's my question of the week, as my brain is a little fried from all the twists and turns. Setting aside Ben, Alex, Alex's boyfriend and Juliet who are with the Losties, how many of the Others are left, and are any of them people we would remember? Where are they, and what are they doing? Oh - and is Mikhail still alive?

In other news, I did not like Eli Stone. Lame.