Matt's Blog

Gabbo, Gabbo, Gabbo! Avatar, Avatar, Avatar!

 

Saddle up.  The 2010 movie year is underway!  I hope everyone had a great break and were able to catch up on a few movies.  There wasn’t much for me to see at the cinemas (I’d seen most of them in previews) but I had fun catching up on some old classics on Foxtel.

 

Before I continue, I do need to reminisce.  In 1996, I started grading every film I saw (on an A+ to C- scale) and kept all the results in a spreadsheet.  In 1999, I started up a simple website and sent out a weekly e-newsletter to a few friends to let them know what was worth seeing.  In 2000, I started writing up full length reviews at the rate at roughly two per week.  In 2005, I started reviewing on-air for 612ABC helping further spread my learned / warped opinions.

 

Time does fly.  It is now 2010.  According to my database, I’ve seen and graded 2,751 films in the past 14 years.  I’ve also written 1,080 full length reviews.  If you’d have said I’d still be doing this back on 1 January 1996 when I graded my first two films (Operation Dumbo Drop and Copycat), I’d have had a quiet chuckle.  It’s funny how the world works.  The unanswerable question is – what would have done with the all the spare time from the past decade if DIDN’T have such a love for movies???

 

2009 – A Fantastic Year

 

We’ll all have our own perspectives on “the year that was” but I have to say that 2009 was a pretty damn good one for me.  The highlights included:

 

   -Hosting an hour long Q&A with Anthony LaPaglia and others involved with Balibo (view the photos here).
   -Interviewing Paul Hogan and Shane Jacobson on the red carpet at the Gold Coast premiere of Charlie & Boots (view the photos here).
   -Managing the Queensland Colts golf team (ages 18 to 23) for the annual inter-state series competition in Melbourne (and I made a video which you can see clips of here).
   -Starting a new DVD review show on ABC Southern Queensland every Friday morning with David Illife (where I get to speak about both current and classic movies).
   -Creating a brand new website (which took some self-teaching) and converting over 1,000 old reviews (this took months).
   -Attending what is likely to be the last Brisbane International Film Festival at the Regent and getting to meet Oscar favourite Carey Mulligan in person.
   -Finally making an effort to attend more theatrical productions (I saw four in 2009 and am looking to increase that this year).
   -Meeting a bunch of cool people through the creation of my Film Pie Facebook group and Twitter account (which now has me hooked).
   -Winning money by gambling on the Oscars and the Golden Globes for the eighth year in a row.

 

See, told you it was a good year (I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m bragging… not meant to… just exciting).  The downside is that it’s going to be hard to top in 2010 but we’ll see.

 

Over the holidays, I was able to tweak the website a little.  There’s now a live Twitter feed on my front page (where you can see me rambling on about a whole bunch of movie and non-movie things) and I’ve also improved the search engine functionality.

 

2010 – Looking Forward

 

I honestly surprise myself by how much I am able to squeeze out of my life.  I am a busy, busy man and I can easy stress / freak out.  So I need to try to not bite off more than I can chew in 2010 – but I’m sure I will anyway. J  But one resolution I do have is to attend a major international film festival (Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, Venice) in the next 2-3 years.  I think it’d be a fun experience so I need to set it as a goal now so I don’t let it slip off the radar.

 

I’ve already penned a few reviews for 2010 films which should easy my load over the next month.  There’s some great movies coming out – as tends to be the case during Oscar season.  I look forward to telling you all about them.

 

Films due to be released in the next few months which I’m very keen to see are A Single Man, The  Hurt Locker, Precious and Percy Jackson & The Lightening Thief (call that one a guilty pleasure – the trailer looks cool).

 

Avatar

 

Late last year, I gave a huge thumbs up to Avatar and declared it my second best movie of 2009.  It looks like a lot of people have agreed.

 

Avatar has been a stunning hit at the box-office.  I have spoken to so many people who have been annoyed to be going along and then finding the session they’re after sold out.  Demand has been huge and cinema owners must be loving it.

 

I must confess that it’s going to be a shame to see Titanic’s long standing records defeated.  I know there are a lot of Titanic bashers but I stand by my original review – it’s one of the great films ever made.  Titanic spent an incredible 15 consecutive weeks atop the U.S. box-office chart.  My memory is a little hazy but I don’t think another film has spent more than 4 weeks on top since that date.  That’s impressive!

 

Titanic made $600 million in the United States (second best is The Dark Knight with $533m) and $1.835 billion worldwide (second best is The Return Of The King with $1.129 billion).  When you consider inflation over the past 12 years (which I estimate as being around 40% - that’s the accountant nerd in me coming out), it’s even more impressive that Titanic’s record still stands – and by such a wide margin!

 

But as the saying goes, records are meant to be broken.  The irony is that after 12 years of waiting, it’ll be James Cameron’s next film which will unseat Titanic.

 

In just 17 days, Avatar has made $352.1m in the United States and $1.022 billion worldwide.  Word is still spreading and I think the international total could end up topping $2 billion.  I admit these numbers can be a little distorting because the ticket prices for Avatar have been higher than your average movie (as its in 3D) but you can balance that up against the global financial crisis which you’d think would have had a small downward impact on sales.  Still, I must say wow!  James Cameron has done it again.  Despite all the doubters before the films release (who focused on the huge cost), he’s proven himself as one of the great filmmakers of all time.  Whether you like his movies or not, majority opinion rules.

 

Awards News

 

Not long after I published my final blog of 2009, the Golden Globe nominations were announced.  To quickly recap, the best picture nominees were:

 

Best Picture (Drama) – Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, Up In The Air

Best Picture (Musical / Comedy) – 500 Days Of Summer (yay), The Hangover, It’s Complicated, Julie & Julia, Nine

 

Both races are going to be very close and I’d hate to have to pick a winner at this point.  The winners are announced on January 18 (Brisbane time).

 

The other big lead-up awards are the guilds.  The Screen Actors Guild have already given their nominees for the best performances.  The Producers Guild announces their nominees on January 5 and the Directors Guild on January 7.  These two are particularly important since they almost mirror the Oscar nominees.

 

At this point in time, the race for the best picture Oscar is down to 4 films – Avatar, Up In The Air, The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds.  I’m confidently picking Avatar at this point.  The box-office is phenomenal and everyone is talking about it.  I know the Academy does not tend to embrace science-fiction but I think the film is too big to ignore and the competition is too weak.  The Hurt Locker made a meagre $12m at the box-office in the United States and Up In The Air is struggling to get a lot of momentum.

 

Some have been critical about the weak plot or even weaker dialogue in Avatar.  I disagree with those criticisms (to each their own though) but when it comes to awarding a best picture prize, witty dialogue doesn’t usually count for much.  How else can you explain the wins of films such as Braveheart (over Sense & Sensibility, Apollo 13), Titanic (over L.A. Confidential) and Gladiator (over Traffic).

 

Anyway, I’ll have more in coming weeks on the race to the Oscars (which are held this year on March 7).  My annual pick the winners competition (now in its 10th year) will also keep you guessing.

 

That’ll do me for the first week.  I’ll now start thinking about stuff to ramble on about for the next 51 weeks.