Flickchart Battle: War of the Worlds (2005) vs. The Fountain (2006)

May 9, 2014

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In the first corner, we have an alien-invasion science fiction film starring Tom Cruise. In the other corner, we have an epic love story spanning approximately 1,000 years with a heavy fantasy and science fiction influence. Both films stirred a lot of conversation, but neither were universally acclaimed. Which film will win this battle?

First and foremost, War of the Worlds was a huge blockbuster in 2005. With a reported budget of $130 million, the film grossed over $234 million ($591 million worldwide). There have been plenty of disaster movies, but unfortunately no one considers War of the Worlds very good, because it’s not. It’s flashy at times, but there are plenty of scenes when you wonder where all the money went to, because the special effects aren’t that spectacular. Tom Cruise demands a big paycheck, and to his credit he (and director Steve Spielberg) delivered. But with a flimsy family-story and barely enough urgency (especially when aliens are killing everything in its path!), War of the Worlds is a whirlwind of chaos.

At its best, War of the Worlds shows the confusion of such a bizarre, catastrophic event. Where did they come from? What do they want? How are they functioning? How can we defeat them? But with a weak ending and a strange encounter with Tim Robbins, War of the Worlds is hardly memorable. The only thing that has stayed in my mind since watching it in theaters are the images of humans being evaporated by the aliens’ lasers. It’s very powerful when you see hundreds of clothes floating through the air. But then again, the aliens are defeated at the end and somehow the family remained safe. I just don’t buy it.

Meanwhile, The Fountain is a very ambitious film by Darren Aronofsky, who has provided us with films such as Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan. It’s safe to say that The Fountain is a misstep in Aronofsky’s career, but there is still a lot of great things happening. For one, while The Fountain isn’t an easy movie to understand, it’s one that would definitely spark up a conversation. Which story-lines were real? Which story-lines were a part of the book? What’s the meaning of the ending? You can count on Aronofsky to deliver some head-scratching scenes in most of his movies.

But just because The Fountain is thought-provoking, is it good? From his resume of films, it’s definitely on the bottom of his works, but then again it’s not a bad film, it’s just a lot more challenging than his others. The acting is very good in The Fountain, led by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. At the end, you’re left with a number of different feelings from the bizarre conclusion, which stem from the simple story about a man who loves a woman who dies. It’s not treated like a regular Hollywood film that bombards you with tear-jerking scenes until you’re out of tissues. It shows the passion and the distance that Tom Creo takes to try and save his wife, and the limits he breaks to try and keep her with him.

So who wins? It’s a challenging match-up because I don’t love either film, but I also don’t hate either. While War of the Worlds was a more entertaining film from a classic story, The Fountain is incredibly original. And shouldn’t filmmakers who take risks be rewarded? I think they should, and that’s why I’m picking The Fountain as the winner of this Flickchart Battle!

Winner: The Fountain


Oscar Talk 2012: The DGA Awards are important (in case you didn’t know)

January 29, 2013

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We all want to be able to correctly predict what film is going to win Best Picture. It’s something you can wildly debate about with your friends for countless hours, and then have the bragging rights if you select the winner. There are even Vegas odds and bets placed on the prestigious night. But while I’ve been in the game of Oscar watching for almost a decade now, there is still only one thing that I know: your guess is as good as mine.

I guess it’s kind of funny for me to admit that, but year after year that is what I keep saying. I’ll give my predictions and my reasons for believing in certain movies and certain upsets, but the truth is that your guess is as good as mine and as good as anyone else’s. If I somehow correctly predict 23 out of the 24 awards given out, I’ll be the first one to tell you that it was luck. Why do I keep doing it? Because it’s so much freakin’ fun.

So back to the game, this past weekend revealed that Argo seems to be back as the front-runner for Best Picture. Winning the PGA and the SAG awards is a pretty big deal. Am I ready to call it for Argo yet? No. It still has the HUGE obstacle of winning without a Best Director nod for Affleck, but if it wins this Saturday at the DGA awards and then gets the WGA, well it’ll practically be a lock then for Argo.

But just because it won the PGA and SAG doesn’t mean it’s a lock quite yet. In 1995, there was a crowd-pleasing film about an American event that went down this same path. Apollo 13 won the PGA, SAG, and even the DGA for Ron Howard (and also Howard didn’t get a Best Director nomination). It was expected for Apollo 13 to take the Oscars, but Braveheart swooped in with the upsets winning Best Picture (and Best Director for Mel Gibson, even though Howard wasn’t nominated).

Needless to say, this is a very strange road to the Oscars that we’ve been on thus far. You know what would really throw a wrench in the whole thing? If Ben Affleck or Steven Spielberg DOESN’T win the DGA. Imagine that? Because whoever wins the DGA out of those two will easily become the front-runner going into the Oscars. But let’s say… Ang Lee wins the DGA (which he’s won twice already). That would really throw a curve-ball at everyone, but at the same time it would hurt Spielberg and Lincoln more than anything else.

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Okay… so where do we stand? Silver Linings Playbook has NO chance at Best Picture since it lost the SAG where it was expected to win. And unless Ang Lee can win the DGA, you can count Life of Pi completely out as well. As for Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild, well they’re just happy to be there. So it’s Lincoln vs. Argo down the stretch of the last month before the Oscars air.

Here’s a little bit of history, something like what we’ll be referring back to in the future if Argo wins Best Picture. Driving Miss Daisy is the only film to win Best Picture without a directing nod in 80 years and many people are comparing it to Argo. Born on the Fourth of July was a film that looked like was on its way to a Best Picture win. Here are the accolades for both films leading up to the Oscars:

Driving Miss Daisy
– won PGA
– won Golden Globes Comedy/Musical
– won WGA

Born on the Fourth of July
– won DGA
– won Best Director
– won Golden Globes Director and Drama

Though tradition was on Born of the Fourth of July’s side, Driving Miss Daisy made history with its Best Picture victory. Only once in the last 10 years has the Best Picture winner not matched the Best Director (Crash beating out Brokeback Mountain). So like I said earlier, there is a very good chance that history will be made… that is unless Spielberg wins the DGA and Lincoln sweeps at the Oscars. If that’s the case, we can all just have a good laugh.


Oscar Talk 2012: So Where Are We?

January 25, 2013

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Remember at the Golden Globes when Ben Affleck and Argo won? Well, that has people throwing their hands up in the air with all sorts of celebratory reactions as their favorite movie of the year is finally gaining the respect they feel it deserves. But what does all of this mean with the Oscars only a month away? Does it mean anything at all?

In past years, it might not have. Here are the movies that won both Best Picture Drama and Comedy/Musuical the past 8 years at the Golden Globes:

2012 – Argo and Les Miserables
2011 – The Descendants and The Artist
2010 – The Social Network and The Kids are All Right
2009 – Avatar and The Hangover
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire and Vicky Cristina Barcelona
2007 – Atonement and Sweeney Todd
2006 – Babel and Dreamgirls
2005 – Brokeback Mountain and Walk the Line
2004 – The Aviator and Sideways

From the past 16 movies that won in the last 8 years, only 2 movies have won the Best Picture Oscar. That’s right, only TWO (The Artist and Slumdog Millionaire). So why is everyone jumping on the Argo bandwagon again? I honestly have no idea.

But this weekend the PGA and SAG will announce their winners. After this weekend, we will be able to have a much clearer projection of what will happen at the Oscars. If Argo wins both PGA and SAG, then I’ll admit that Lincoln might be in trouble. If Silver Linings Playbook (in my opinion, the biggest threat to Lincoln) doesn’t win the SAG, then it’s almost as good as dead.

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Back to Argo. Here’s a fun fact for all of those Argo supporters. No director has ever won the DGA, not gotten nominated for an Oscar, and then had their film win BP. Ever. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it would be an insane feat for Affleck to win the DGA and then see Argo win Best Picture. I’m a big fan of “history repeats itself” and will stick with that mindset over anything else.

If Lincoln gets shut out this weekend and both Argo and Silver Linings Playbook wins, then I’m really going to throw a fit. This could be the most unpredictable Oscars in a very long time, and while that’s frustrating for people like me, honestly it’s the best thing that could happen to the Oscars. I’d much rather be dead wrong and see Lincoln win only one Oscar while Argo wins Best Picture and Ang Lee wins Best Director than see Lincoln sweep the major awards.

Lincoln-photo

But I’ll still speak what I believe in, and that is Lincoln is the clear front-runner with every other film miles behind. Here are the reasons why:

– Lincoln has the most nominations (12)
– Lincoln has grossed the most money of all nominations
– Has 3 acting nominations and one clear favorite (Daniel Day-Lewis)
– It has ALL of the important nominations
– Steven Spielberg

While Lincoln isn’t many people’s (including mine) favorite film, you cannot ignore how well-made it is. Excellence is displayed on every level of that film, and shouldn’t films like that be rewarded?


Thoughts about the 85th Annual Oscar Nominations

January 11, 2013

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I should just let it go, but hey, I’m a blogger so there is absolutely no filter to what ends up here. I’ve been following the Oscars for about eight years and can say this was the first year I was legitimately surprised because of the nominations. Why is that? Well, this is the first time where the nominations were voted on by the Academy before the major Guilds gave out their awards. There was a possibility that this could create a great difference in some of the major categories, but most people didn’t think it would. Some believed that the Academy really didn’t weigh in on the guild awards as much as people think. Well the verdict is in and it made a HUGE impact.

The Best Director category is arguably the second biggest award given out on Oscar night. It’s also a great indication to what movie is going to win Best Picture because in the history of the Oscars, there have only been several films that won Best Picture without winning Best Director. Going into Thursday morning, there was a consensus that the major films with the best chance to win Best Picture were Lincoln, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, and Les Miserables. It doesn’t matter what your personal opinion is, those were the favorites going into Thursday, but when the nominations were announced for Best Director, everything changed.

The directors nominated for Best Director include Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Michael Haneke, David O. Russell, and Benh Zeitlin. Everyone is wondering what happened to Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck, and honestly I am, too. For the record, there have only been THREE films in history to have won Best Picture without receiving a Best Director nomination. The most recent occurrence was in 1990 for Driving Miss Daisy, and the other two times it happened were in 1932 with Grand Hotel and in 1929 with Wings. So that means in the past 80 years, only ONCE did a film with Best Picture without a Best Director nomination. The odds are not looking good for Argo and Zero Dark Thirty.

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But while this is bad news for those two films, the directing category is great news for other films, specifically Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook. Those films received a total of 11 and 8 nominations, respectively, and should now be considered Lincoln’s biggest competition for Best Picture. It’s really hard to pick which one might have the better shot at upsetting Lincoln at this point, but if we just look at the Guild nominations, it’s really close. Silver Linings Playbook received nominations from SAG, PGA, WGA, and ACE Eddie while Life of Pi received nominations from PGA, WGA, DGA, and ACE Eddie. Both are missing one major Guild nomination (But to Life of Pi’s defense, no way was it receiving a SAG nomination since it’s a castaway sort of film).

So once again, the ONLY movie to receive nominations from all of the major Guilds is Lincoln. It’s clear that Lincoln is the front-runner, but I understand how people will make their case all the way until February 24 to make it seem like a closer race than it really is. And you know what, that’s what I love about the Oscars because anything CAN happen. Jaws dropped when Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture and when Crash upset Brokeback Mountain. It most certainly can happen again this year, but I’m a guy who looks at the history of the Oscars and the odds and Lincoln is just too much of a favorite and a traditional Oscar film that the Academy most certainly LOVES to ignore.

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Before I conclude my rants, I just wanted to discuss Paul Thomas Anderson and The Master. I’m actually surprised that The Master wasn’t nominated for Best Picture and after all the surprises in the Best Director category, I don’t know how Paul Thomas Anderson didn’t get in. I know that The Master confused a great deal of people and I know how PTA films can divide the public and the critics because of his unorthodox way of story-telling, but the mere fact is that PTA gets the best out of his actors every movie, and that’s one of the most important things about directing. If you look at the nominations this year, only three films received three or more acting nominations: Silver Linings Playbook (4), Lincoln (3), and The Master (3). Spielberg and David O. Russell got their directing nod for truly extracting incredible performances from their actors. But what about Paul Thomas Anderson?


The DGA Nominations 2013

January 8, 2013

It’s not like it’s a big deal, but I did manage to correctly predict all of the nominees for the DGA Awards, which were announced today. Everyone knew four of the five directors who were going to get in, but that last spot was definitely up in the air and everyone was divided with their prediction. According to a poll in Awards Daily, both Quentin Tarantino and David O. Russell were favorites over Tom Hooper and that completely makes sense. But like they say, sometimes you just gotta go with your gut.

So here are the nominees for the DGA Awards (taken from Awards Daily):

BEN AFFLECK
Argo
(Warner Bros. Pictures)
Mr. Affleck’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager:  Amy Herman
First Assistant Director:  David Webb
Second Assistant Director:  Ian Calip
Second Second Assistant Directors: Clark Credle, Gavin Kleintop
First Assistant Director (Turkey Unit): Belkis Turan

This is Mr. Affleck’s first DGA Feature Film Award nomination.

KATHRYN BIGELOW
Zero Dark Thirty
(Columbia Pictures)

Ms. Bigelow’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager:  Colin Wilson
First Assistant Director:  David A. Ticotin
Second Assistant Directors:  Ben Lanning, Sarah Hood
First Assistant Director (Jordan Unit): Scott Robertson
Second Assistant Directors (Jordan Unit): Jonas Spaccarotelli, Yanal Kassay
Second Second Assistant Director (Jordan Unit): Tarek Afifi
Unit Production Manager (India Unit): Rajeev Mehra

This is Ms. Bigelow’s second DGA Feature Film Award nomination.  She won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for The Hurt Locker in 2009.

TOM HOOPER
Les Misérables
(Universal Pictures)

Mr. Hooper’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager:  Patrick Schweitzer
First Assistant Director:  Ben Howarth
Second Assistant Director:  Harriet Worth
Second Second Assistant Director: Dan Channing Williams

This is Mr. Hooper’s second DGA Feature Film Award nomination.  He won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for The King’s Speech (2010) and was previously nominated for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television/Mini-Series for John Adams in 2008.

ANG LEE
Life of Pi
(Twentieth Century Fox)

Mr. Lee’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager:  Michael J. Malone
Unit Production Manager (Taiwan): Leo Chen
First Assistant Directors:  William M. Connor, Cliff Lanning
Second Assistant Directors:  Robert Burgess, Ben Lanning
Unit Production Manager (India Unit): Sanjay Kumar
First Assistant Director (India Unit): Nitya Mehra
Second Assistant Director (India Unit): Ananya Rane
Second Second Assistant Directors (India Unit): Namra Parikh, Freya Parekh
Second Assistant Directors (Montreal Unit): Derek Wimble, Renato De Cotiis

This is Mr. Lee’s fourth DGA Feature Film Award nomination. He won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and was nominated for Sense and Sensibility in 1995.

STEVEN SPIELBERG
Lincoln
(DreamWorks Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox)

Mr. Spielberg’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager:  Susan McNamara
First Assistant Director:  Adam Somner
Second Assistant Director:  Ian Stone
Second Second Assistant Directors: Eric Lasko, Trevor Tavares

This is Mr. Spielberg’s eleventh DGA Feature Film Award nomination. He won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film three times for Saving Private Ryan (1998), Schindler’s List (1993) and The Color Purple (1985). He was also nominated in this category for Munich (2005), Amistad (1997), Empire of the Sun (1987), E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (1982), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Jaws (1975). Mr. Spielberg was honored with the DGA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.

So now we just have to wait and see if the same five are nominated for the Oscars this Thursday. Once again, I’m going with my hunch by saying it will be the same five.


DGA Nominees This Tuesday

January 7, 2013

So what do we know? There are certainly some definites to be nominated on Tuesday and those include:

Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
Ben Affleck (Argo)

These are locks and they are also locks for a Best Director nomination when the Oscars announce their nominations this Thursday. But what about the last two spots? This was one heck of a year and there are quite a few directors trying to sneak in.

Ang Lee (Life of Pi) is probably your best bet at receiving one of the last two nominations. He’s very popular in the DGA and has already won two awards from the guild and one Oscar for Best Director.

Who’s fighting for the last spot? First there is Tom Hooper (Les Miserables) who is still very fresh from his award-winning, The King’s Speech. Taking on the very challenging and beloved musical could definitely pay-off with a DGA and an Oscar nod, but it’s not quite set in stone like you would’ve believed earlier this year. Despite the risky decision to have his actors sing live during shooting, Les Miserables had a few missteps. But it’s still a great epic that wouldn’t surprise anyone if he snuck in.

Then there’s Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), the beloved and quirky director who continues to have fun with the amount of violence he could pour into a film. His last film, Inglorious Basterds, was his most mainstream film in his career and was all over the map during the Oscars. It’s hard for me to see Django Unchained being unanimously liked in the Academy, but Tarantino is definitely a veteran who hasn’t received his due yet, so that’s always something to factor in (if you don’t think that matters, just look at Kate Winslet’s win for The Reader).

Then there is David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), who has one of the most crowd-pleasing films this year. There is always a dramedy that the Academy loves and Silver Linings Playbook is it. He was nominated a few years ago for The Fighter so he’s no stranger to the awards circuit, but even so he’s relatively new and the Academy might go for a veteran instead.

Then there is Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom), an outside shot at receiving any nominations for directing but still worth mentioning. As a veteran and beloved director, Anderson delivers a lovable and mainstream(ish) film that has a some awards buzz surrounding it. Will the DGA push him to finally receive some recognition?

Then there is Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), who in the middle of the year I could’ve sworn was a shoe-in for Best Director. But The Master is very polarizing among critics and the public. Exactly what was the film about? You can’t deny that it’s a wonderful work of art with great acting performances, but does PTA deserve a directing nomination?

My DGA predictions:

Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Ben Affleck, Argo
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Tom Hooper, Les Miserables

I know that the Weinstein Company are major players during awards season, but Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained are from the Weinsteins. I’m just not sure which movie they’re going to support more at this point. I also believe that Les Miserables will be a major player in the Oscars, so it’s hard to imagine Tom Hooper not being involved in the mix.


Oscar Talk 2012: Look out for Zero Dark Thirty

December 11, 2012

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All of the films have finally been seen and for quite a while, after Lincoln took the commanding lead from Argo, Les Miserables came in and swept away all of the bloggers. Well, it’s time for Les Miserables to be pushed aside as well now that Zero Dark Thirty has been receiving glowing reviews. Everyone is excited to see if Kathryn Bigelow can win twice in four years. And she’s a woman!

The Golden Globes announce their nominees this week, though I doubt they really will influence the Oscars in any way. What’s intriguing about this year’s Best Picture race is how there are legitimately THREE movies that have a very good chance to win. Of course all of this will likely be a lot clearer when the guild awards are announced, but as of right now this is a three-way race between three very powerful movies: Lincoln, Les Miserables, and Zero Dark Thirty.

Last year, 2011, it was a race between The Artist and The Descendants until The Artist started to win every award on its path to the Best Picture. In 2010, it was a race between The King’s Speech (the guilds’ darling) and The Social Network (the critics’ darling). While the weeks leading up to the Oscars, it was obvious that The King’s Speech would sweep, there was still that little doubt that The Social Network could pull the upset simply because it was the CLEAR front-runner before the guild awards were announced.

The year before that, 2009, it was The Hurt Locker vs. Avatar and that concludes the years with more than five nominees. In years with only five nominees, it was even less likely to have a race come down to three movies instead of two. That is why this year is very interesting and quite thrilling for those who follow the Oscar race. And with the amount of nominees falling between five or ten, who knows how many films will be nominated! Since there were nine films last year, I’m sticking with that for this year as well and I’d rather have more films nominated this year because of its quality. If small films like Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Master, and Moonrise Kingdom can be noticed, then I have no problem with there being ten nominees this year.

But right now it’s an extremely close race between our trifecta. Both Bigelow and Hooper have recently won, so that would give Spielberg’s Lincoln the slight edge right? Looks like Daniel Day-Lewis should win Best Actor, but Jessica Chastain is set to win Best Actress. Is it possible to have no sweep at all and splits all across the board? Les Mis for picture? Ang Lee for Best Director? Anna Hathaway for Supporting Actress? Philip Seymour Hoffman for Supporting Actor?

How crazy would that be?


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