Posts Tagged ‘Avatar’

Oscar Nominations: The Long List

February 2, 2010

Well, it’s been a learning experience. Apparently when Anne Hathaway reads out the Oscar nominations, she doesn’t have to sully herself with announcing the titles in the Best Animated Short pack.

The only real surprises here are a mixed bag for the Best Supporting Actor role (Did The Lovely Bones ever get released?), which Christoph Waltz is now a dead-cert to nab. Then there’s the Best Actor nomination for Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner (well-deserved) and In the Loop getting a Best Adapted Screenplay nod. The Yanks really liked that movie.

Here were the nominations read out at this morning’s press shindig. The list will be updated shortly.

UPDATE: The complete list of Oscar nominations is as follows. Predictions and commentary will take a little bit longer.

BEST PICTURE

Avatar
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

BEST DIRECTOR

James Cameron (Avatar)
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
Lee Daniels (Precious)
Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)

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Antichrist: Vu de l’extérieur

January 14, 2010

It says something about the extraordinary Antichrist that the first time Squally saw it, the film felt like a comedy. The second time, it felt like a tragedy. The movie was greeted with jeers at Cannes, which writer/director Lars von Trier brushed off with the proclamation, “I am the world’s greatest filmmaker.”

The critics were trying to take Antichrist too seriously. In dealing with the disintegration of a woman, after all, Von Trier was walking on hallowed ground. The cracked woman is a favorite trope of (male) directors, whether it’s Marnie or Rebecca, Catherine Deneuve in Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, Monica Vitti in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Red Desert, any number of women in Bergman’s films, Gena Rowlands in John Cassavetes’s A Woman Under the Influence, Julianne Moore in Todd Haynes’s Safe, or especially Isabelle Huppert in The Piano Teacher, by von Trier’s bete noire, Michael Haneke. Squally could go on, but let’s just say that it’s one of the greatest clichés of the art house cinema: a beautiful woman goes to pieces, the beautiful actress who plays her is acclaimed for the performance.

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Avatar: Seeing is Disbelieving

January 11, 2010

Avatar has been hailed not as a film but a cinematic experience which was going to change the way we went to the movies. There was every reason to be excited. Number one, it was the first fiction film from the obscenely talented James Cameron since Titanic. During the past decade, he had been experimenting with the 3D IMAX format. Cameron was presumably looking for a way to make an even bigger movie instead.

The so-called King of the World was desperately needed. The Lord of the Rings aside, it was hard to think of a movie which had used computer effects in a convincing way. There were still glitches of movement and reflection to be worked out. Computer-generated characters seemed curiously weightless. More importantly, Cameron had demonstrated not only action chops but, in Titanic, a command of epic narrative. His scenes were expert demonstrations of a classical style of storytelling. This art was in danger of becoming extinct in an era of fast cuts and short attention spans. Cameron’s planet needed him. Alas, with Avatar he’s delivered his messiest film, one that’s ultimately more barnstorming stunt than coherent statement.

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2009 3D

April 9, 2009

3dIs 3D the future? The L.A. Times throws the idea out. On Cartoonbrew.com, Jerry Beck throws it back. It’s a time when knowing your history is instructive … or oughta be. In the 1950s, 3D was considered a TV-killer by the studios, as was Cinemascope and Cinerama. By offering audiences the sensation that things were coming out of the screen, it was hoped they’d turn off Milton Berle and spend their evening with the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Cut to half-a-century on and the threat to cinema is bigger–DVDs, films on demand, Netflix, home theatre systems which are more impressive than some hole-in-the-wall multiplexes … ugh! So again we have 3D, seen at its spiffiest in Coraline and Monsters vs. Aliens. We also have big, big screens, at least if you have access to a nearby IMAX theatre. The thing is, these tactics have been employed by the studios before and turned out to be passing fads. So does 3D, if you will, step off the screen and into our lives permanently?

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Hollywood 1, DVD 0

March 23, 2009

dvdHere’s all the news that fit to print: The DVD market is in the tank. Blockbuster is currently growing at a snails pace. And all the studios hate Netflix. So the New York Times is reporting that the studios are going back to what they think they know best: making films that will actually turn a profit at the box office.

Brooks Barnes aligns the statistics. Ticket sales are up 14% for 2009. (Watchmen not withstanding.) Sales for new-release DVDs, on the other hand, are down 40%. The reasons are myriad: a movie is still considered a cheap night out, there are simply too many DVDs out there (Howard the Duck just hit stores, accompanied by the sound of a barrel being scraped) and most of youse is downloading films from t’Internet. The result: studios have lost that retail safety net, or what one producer calls the “downside protection.”

iron-man1The new strategy is getting bums on seats, which may account for the absolute traffic jam of big tentpoles being released in 2010. Among them are Tim Burton‘s Alice in Wonderland, Jon Favreau‘s Iron Man 2, Christopher Nolan‘s Inception, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Toy Story 3, Eclipse, Thor, Green Lantern and a Harry Potter installment. As of this reckoning, we’ll see . Barnes also elegantly sums up the bigger picture:

“In addition to big “tent pole” blockbusters, that means movies that are fun to watch in groups: at least 10 musicals are in full-steam-ahead development, including a remake of “My Fair Lady.” And it means more pictures that are pre-branded: “Monopoly” and “Candy Land,” the movies, are on the way. Most of all, it means a strong return by major studios to middle-of-the-road, genre pictures.”

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