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The End Of An Era & Poor Uma Thurman

 

Marge: “Homer, the plant called. They said if you don't show up tomorrow don't bother showing up on Monday.”

Homer: “Woo-hoo. Four-day weekend.”

 

It’s the only time of the year I can use that great quote from The Simpsons.  A 4-day long weekend is upon us.  What does that mean for cinema owners?  Big business!  A whopping 9 cinema releases (by my count) will be released this Thursday.  That’s a smidge more than the 8 we had in 2007 and 2008.

 

It also means that I’ve been very, very busy.  I’ve had a few other things on the go and finally gave up last night suffering from exhaustion.  Was in bed by 8:30pm (ridiculously early for me) and so I missed a preview of the new Coco Chanel movie (out on April 15).  In all, I’ve seen 7 films in the last 6 days.  It’s not BIFF-like but not far away.

 

The End Of An Era

 

When I first developed a love of film, we didn’t have the internet.  I wasn’t aware of the talented film critics of the world who spread the word on what was good and what was bad.

 

There was one exception.  I often watched The Late Show With David Letterman which came on around midnight each week night on Channel 9.  How I loved my uni days.  In bed by 2am.  Up by 1pm.  Happy memories…

 

Anyway, Mr. Letterman’s show introduced me to the world’s most renowned film critics – Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.  Their show (called Siskel & Ebert At The Movies) debuted in 1986 and became a smash hit.  Each week, they argued back-and-forth.  It was like something from The Odd Couple.

 

I loved hearing what they had to say and when the internet arrived in the Toomey household, I read the transcripts from their shows every week.  I’ve got scrapbooks at home of their reviews.  Each film received their trademarked rating – either a thumbs up or a thumbs down.  You could find a huge number of movie posters which simply contain the quote – “Two thumbs up!” – Siskel & Ebert.  They were a brand name and their thoughts meant a great deal to many people.

 

It all changed in 1999 when Gene Siskel suddenly passed away.  Richard Roeper became Ebert’s new partner and they worked fairly well together (although they were never the duo that Siskel & Ebert were).

 

In 2006, Roger Ebert took a break from the show to undergo treatment for his thyroid cancer.  He would never return.  He almost died and permanently lost his voice.  He is still the most highly regarded critic in the world though.  He can’t speak but his reviews and blogs are read by millions on the web.  On Twitter, he currently has over 121,000 followers.  Not bad for a film critic!

 

The show has gone through a number of changes since Roger Ebert departed.  It went through a major revamp in 2008 with two young guys (Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz) brought in as hosts.  They were panned from their first show.  It went through another big change in 2009 with more respected film critics A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips brought in as replacements.

 

Sadly, the ratings were never the same.  And it was announced last week that the show has been officially cancelled.  It marks the end of an era and the final show will air in August.

 

The going has been tough for film critics in recent years.  It just got even tougher.  Another window for knowledgeable film folk to critically evaluate movies has been closed.  I find it hard to believe given that the pathetic Richard Wilkins still adorns our television screens.  His reviews on the Today show each morning (where every film seems to get a good review) irk me like nothing else.  I can barely watch.

 

That said, I shouldn’t be too disheartened because inevitably, things can’t last forever.  Roger Ebert, Gene Siskel and those who have followed in their footsteps on the show have had a great run.  They’ve reviewed plenty of films.

 

If you want to see them in action, here are two reviews which sum them up perfectly –

 

Fargo (in 1996) which they both loved – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbETIZuJgaM – Quote from Siskel – “There won’t be a better film than this.  You called it a masterpiece, I’ll go on and say that too.” 

 

North (in 1994) which they both loathed - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yj52wm7l3zg – Quote from Roger – “I hated this movie as much as any movie we’ve ever reviewed in the 19 years we’ve been doing this show.”

 

One lesson from all of this is that you can’t re-create the chemistry that Siskel and Ebert forged.  Even if you take just one of them out of the equation, things will never quite be the same.  It’s like a great movie.  As a director, you may think it’s all coming together but until you sit in your seat at the premiere and gauge the response from the audience, you never know for sure.

 

Hopefully Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton stay on our own screens for a long time to come.  I don’t have the stamina for another depressing tribute piece.

 

Poor Uma Thurman

 

I had to laugh at this story from London over the weekend.

 

The new Uma Thurman movie, Motherood, had an exclusive release in one British cinema.  In its opening weekend, just 12 people went and saw it.  That’s not a typo.  It took in just 88 pounds in its first 3 days.  I hope they bought popcorn to boost the cinema’s takings!

 

The irony is that this negative publicity will generate interest in the film.  It’s no longer showing in UK cinemas (it was pulled after just one week naturally) but it might catch the eye of a few when it appears on the shelves of video stores.  Poor Uma.  I guess she’s not quite the box-office draw she once was.  Pulp Fiction was 16 years ago (also hard to believe).

 

My Ultimate Movie Theatre & A 3D Dilemma

 

It’s been a long week and I’m a little flat so apologies for being a day late with this week’s blog.

 

My Ultimate Movie Theatre

 

I was following the health care reform in the United States over the weekend and it prompted me to do some net searching on the President and the White House.  I’ve always been fascinated by the President’s role and everything that goes with it.  I speak of things such as his security team (someone is always nearby with the codes to disarm nuclear weapons), to Air Force One (which can refuel mid-air if needs be) and to the inner-goings on within the White House and his hard working team.

 

It never occurred to me that there was a movie theatre in the White House but I guess it makes sense.

 

It’s called the Family Theatre and it’s located in the East Wing.  You can view a bunch of photos by clicking here - http://www.whitehousemuseum.org/east-wing/theater.htm.

 

I find it interesting that despite the fact that it’s been refurbished many times, there’s still the four plush seats down the front for the President and his special guests to use.  I love the current look by the way – looks like a classic, old-style cinema.

 

If I ever get lucky and win the lotto one day, I’d love to have a theatre like that of my very own.  Per chance to dream!

 

It’s the golfer in me that is also fascinated by this part of the White House lawns - http://www.whitehousemuseum.org/grounds/putting-green.htm.

 

Box-Office Update

 

As I mentioned a few weeks back, Avatar sat atop the box-office charts in America for 7 consecutive weeks.  It’s total box-office is now $736.9m (beating the old Titanic record of $100m).  Here in Australia, it’s made an even more amazing $111.6m to date.  It made $561,868 last weekend which is hard to believe for a film in its 14th week of release.  Is there anyone who is yet to see it???

 

In my review of The Rebound last week, I wrote about the choice being presented to the Australian public in terms of romantic comedies.  There were two big ones coming out on the same day – The Rebound with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Justin Bartha and The Bounty Hunter with Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston.

 

Sadly, the public went with The Bounty Hunter.  It’s the worst film I’ve seen so far this year but it pulled in $1,380,000 as compared with The Rebound’s $415,000.  Completely ignored was Brothers with a very disappointing $92,000.

 

Despite all the changes in technology, I’m always amazed that people have never lost the desire to go to the movies.  These days, you can watch movies at home or your computer.

 

For the first three weeks of March 2010, the total box-office take in Australia (based on the top 20 films each week) has been $57.6m.  By comparison, the total for the same period last year was just $35.5m.  Cinema owners must be loving it!  I know it can be a tough industry so it’s great to see the public supporting them.

 

3D Dilemma

 

The huge business for Alice In Wonderland and Avatar has created a curious dilemma for many cinemas around the world.  3D projectors are very expensive so many cinemas just have one at this point in time.

 

Last weekend in Australia, Alice In Wonderland was number 1 for the third week in a row with a total box-office of $3.9m.  It’s made a total of $26.1m to date.  That’s HUGE for what I think is a very mediocre film.

 

Anyway, due to be released this weekend is How To Train Your Dragon in 3D.  What are cinema owners to do if they only have one 3D projector?  Do they shelve Alice which is still pulling in big dollars?  I’ll be interested to see the session times in this Thursday’s paper.

 

It must be tempting for cinema owners to splash out and buy more 3D projectors but is this just a fad which will slow down over time?  How many people went to see Alice and Avatar just because they were in 3D?  We’ll find out over the next year I guess with many more 3D releases on the cards.

 

Dragon Week

 

I like coincidences of any kind but I had to chuckle at the two films which are being released this week – How To Train Your Dragon and The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo.  What are the odds on that?  Just two major releases and both have the word “dragon” in the title.  The good news is that whilst they’re very, very different, they’re both very, very good.  Make sure you check them out.

 

Le Festival Du Film Français Commence Cette Semaine

   

The first two months of any film year is dominated by awards talk.  It’s a chance to celebrate / argue about the best films of the year.  Studios tend to release very few big releases at this time of the year also.  They’re saving up for the American summer.

 

We’re now in March, the Oscars are over and it’s time to move on.  The first big film festival of 2010 is about to start – the Alliance Française French Film Festival.  It kicks off on March 17 (this Wednesday) and runs for two weeks.

 

I love my French cinema.  Some of my favourite French films over the past decade include Persepolis, The Diving Bell & The Butterfly, The Class, Amelie, The Spanish Apartment, Russian Dolls, The Triplets Of Belleville and The Man On The Train.

 

I even tried taking a few French classes back in 2003.  I only lasted a few weeks but I deserve a pat on the back anyway (at least I tried).  And of all the places I’ve been in the world, Paris is still my favourite city.  Here’s a few snapshots from when I was there in 2004 including me outside the Musee du Cinema (trying to re-enact the famous 1968 student riots illustrated in The Dreamers).

 

Matt In Paris
Matt In Paris

Anyway, back to this year’s festival.  It’s now in its 21st year here in Australia and there are a whopping 43 movies being screened.  For most, this will be the only chance you’ll get to see them in Australia.  A handful will get a limited cinema release down the track but the others will not (as it’s not profitable to do so).

 

Here in Brisbane, the festival is spread across the Palace Centro and Palace Barracks (two excellent venues).  Ticket prices are $16 for adults and $14 for most concessions.  You can get small discounts by buying a 5 or 10 film pass.  A few films are a little more expensive (because they include drinks and/or entertainment).  You can get the full list of films on the website (which details on how to book) at http://www.frenchfilmfestival.org.

 

To make things a little easier, I’ve scoured through the program and have picked out the one film which interests me most from each night.  Below are the blurbs from the Festival website which tell you more about each film.  Hopefully there’s something to tickle your fancy.  If you’re tired of the same old films in your traditional multiplexes, he’s a chance to open your eyes to something new.

 

You can click on each title to find out more and view a few pictures.

 

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Micmacs – 6:30pm Palace Centro ($50 including after party)

 

A thrilling comedy from the director of Amelie centring on a group of misfits as they plan to bring down two big arms manufacturers.  Bazil (Dany Boon) is a man down on his luck following an accident that's left a bullet lodged in his brain, with a good chance that he could die at any moment.  The story of his revenge is populated by a ragtag of characters with unique foibles and abilities.

 

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Legal Aid – 6:45pm Palace Centro

 

An honest young lawyer sees his life radically change when he meets a more experienced lawyer, who will 'educate' him.  But one day, Marsac spills the beans: he didn't take Lahoud on for his legal skills, but because of his uncanny resemblance to one of his notorious clients, and that Marsac's interest in him is far from benevolent.

 

Friday, 19 March 2010

Anything For Her - 6:45pm Palace Centro

 

With a loving, stable marriage of many years, a devoted son and a quiet life in suburban France, life feels supremely happy for Julien and Lisa. Then one morning, police burst in and inexplicably arrest Lisa for a murder she appears to have no knowledge about. Unwilling to endure the time it will take to sort through French bureaucracy and reeling in turmoil, Julien resorts to a desperate plan of action...

 

Saturday, 20 March 2010

LOL – 8:45pm Palace Barracks

 

In text messaging, LOL means "Laughing Out Loud", but here it's also the nickname of 14-year-old Lola, who is returning to school after summer break. It's no laughing matter for her though when her boyfriend reveals that he has cheated on her over summer, leading her to hesitantly move on to his best friend Mael. Meanwhile her divorced mother Anne is secretly again seeing her father. In a world of virtual communication, faceless technologies, and oblivious parents, LOL is a tongue-in-cheek take on female self-perception and relationships.

 

Sunday, 21 March 2010

I’m Glad My Mother Is Alive – 8:00pm Palace Centro

 

Thomas is four years old when his teenage-mother gives him up, along with his infant half-brother, and the pair are adopted by a couple who wish to leave the boys' past well behind them. However, while his brother grows up with no desire to delve into his past, Thomas cannot let go. Unbeknownst to his adoptive parents, he tracks her down, firstly as an angry adolescent taken aback by what he finds – and later as a young adult.

 

Monday, 22 March 2010

No Pasaran – 6:30pm Palace Barracks

 

Maxence Lafourcade, a peaceful single man, raises pigs in the Pyrénées. His life takes a radical turn when he learns that a highway is going to cut through his farm. To confront the mayor and his project, he must join forces with the 'local American', Peter Konchelsky. This retired, cynical lawyer adopts the farmer's cause, while his stunned daughter, Scarlett, looks on. She's an eccentric artist, and in Maxence she discovers an unexpected human model.

 

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Every Jack Has A Jill – 6:30pm Palace Barracks

 

Twenty-six-year old Chloé lives by herself in between an invasive neighbour, a petty-minded colleague and a preachy kind of employee at a DVD rental store. It is a life that doesn't live up to her expectations. And yet a random course of events changes her luck. One day she stumbles upon a suitcase of young American Jack, who has won a vacation to Paris. As Jack is trapped inside his hotel with no money, clothes or French-language skills, Chloé falls in love with his belongings and, feeling fate has brought them together, sets out on a search to find him...

 

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Someone I Loved – 8:30pm Palace Barracks

 

Recently dumped by her cheating husband, Chloé and her two young daughters are spirited away to a remote cabin by her father-in-law, Pierre. Over the course of the night, Pierre shares an important secret with her. He reveals his illicit affair with a woman he met in Hong Kong 20 years ago, and for whom he didn't dare abandon everything, choosing instead a safer and more familiar path. Reflecting on his choice and its dramatic consequences, he attempts to help his daughter-in-law understand and overcome her pain.

 

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Wild Grass – 6:45pm Palace Centro

 

Director Alain Resnais delivers a career-crowning masterpiece with this delightful roundelay, based on Christian Gailly's novel "The Incident", about the fate-altering ripples triggered by a lost handbag.  The purse belongs to Marguerite, a dentist who flies airplanes as a hobby. Georges, an eccentric married man discovers it – and soon finds himself infatuated with the purse's owner, even though he hasn't met her. Resnais observes their elaborate dance of attraction and rejection, hesitation and impulsiveness with all the wisdom of an artist who loves his characters and revels in their misadventures.

 

Friday, 26 March 2010

Father Of My Children – 6:30pm Palace Barracks

 

Film producer Grégoire Canvel has it all – a wife and three delightful daughters he adores and a stimulating job that he's devoted to. On the surface he seems invincible, maintaining humour and charm as he tirelessly juggles the never-ending demands of his company with his domestic responsibilities. But when Grégoire's reserves, financial and emotional, reach a dramatic cracking point, his wife Sylvia and children are forced to cope with the repercussions...

 

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Welcome – 8:45pm Palace Barracks

 

17-year-old Bilal has spent the last three months travelling illegally across Europe in an attempt to reunite with his girlfriend in England. The difficult journey is almost over when he finally reaches the far northern coast of France, and can literally see his destination from across the Channel. But it's here that his journey comes to an abrupt halt. Spurred by his dream, with all legal options exhausted, Bilal decides he'll swim across. Here he meets Simon who impulsively risks everything by taking Bilal under his wing.

 

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky – 8:00pm Palace Barracks

 

The opening sequence sets the film's grand tone by unfolding one of the great artistic scandals in its original venue: the 1913 premiere of revolutionary composer Stravinsky's radically modernist ballet, Rite of Spring, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. Seven years later, rendered penniless by the violently negative reaction to his work, Stravinsky accepts the newly successful Chanel's offer to lodge him, his wife and four children, in her new villa 'Bel Respiro' in Garches. And so begins their frenzied liaison, paralleled by revolutionary ideas – the designer's desire to transform women's fashions and the composer's redefinition of musical taste.

 

Monday, 29 March 2010

One For The Road – 6:30pm Palace Barracks

 

Hervé, the head of a press agency, is traveling fast down a road headed in only one direction: self-destruction. He is an alcoholic, and his drinking is wrecking his marriage, family and career. In desperation and still in denial, he checks into a detox clinic in Geneva, his last-chance saloon. There he meets a group of fellow sufferers and one person in particular, a young woman named Magali (Mélanie Thierry), who help him to see life other than through the bottom of an empty bottle.

 

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

In Your Arms – 6:30pm Palace Barracks

 

Louis was abandoned by his mother when he was only a few weeks old. Now sixteen, he wants to know where he comes from and despite the reluctance of his adoptive parents he heads south to find the mother he's never known. Totally thrown by this unexpected visit, florist Solange violently rejects the child she never desired and had forgotten for so long. But Louis perseveres, and in the midst of this turmoil he searches for, and finds himself. Stumbling between obstacles and small victories, a fledgling but luminous relationship develops between Louis and his mother.

 

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Gainsbourg – 7:30pm Palace Centro

 

The Festival's Closing Night Gala for 2010 is graphic novelist Joann Sfar's audacious directorial debut, an amusing and fantastical biopic of the debonair Serge Gainsbourg.  This surreal and evocative record of Monsieur Gainsbourg (Eric Elmosnino) - iconic singer, poet, writer, actor and general provocateur - traces his youth growing up in 1940s Nazi-occupied Paris, through to his transformation into the hard-living showman, enfant terrible and successful songwriter during three decades.

 

Hopefully I’ll see you at the Festival!

Newsflash: Sandra Bullock Wins Oscar! Try And Remain Calm

 

We interrupt my Oscars summary for a special news report.

 

Des Partridge (recently retired movie guru from The Courier Mail) is reporting at The Regent Cinemas in the Queen Street mall will close on June 15.  This is a very sad day for Brisbane.  It’s one of Brisbane’s oldest running cinemas.  Here’s a picture showing the Regent and looking down the Queen Street mall from the mid 1960s - http://twitpic.com/15f7yb

 

It confirms what I suspected in that last year’s BIFF was the lucky last for The Regent.  I’ll start working on a tribute piece but I can think of many happy memories from that great theatre.

 

Oscar Betting

 

On with the show and yes, my 8 year streak of Oscar gambling success has come to an end.  This day is going from bad to worse.

 

To be honest, I’m not too phased.  I got great odds which is all you can ask for.  I had $100 on Hurt Locker at the Golden Globes (at odds of $5.50) and Avatar won.  I had $500 on Avatar at the Oscars (at odds of $3.00) and Hurt Locker won.  That’s the way it goes sometimes.  With a few other speculative bets on the Globes and Oscars also going down the drain, I finished the year with a loss of $830.  Ah well.  Let’s see how that looks on the scoreboard…

 

1996 – profit of $750 – won on Susan Saranadon

1997 – profit of $300 (cumulative $1,050) – won on Frances McDormand

1998 – loss of $250 (cumulative $800)

1999 – loss of $250 (cumulative $550)

2000 – profit of $620 (cumulative $1,170) – won on Kevin Spacey and Michael Caine

2001 – loss of $190 (cumulative $980) – won on director Steven Soderbergh

2002 – profit of $480 (cumulative $1,460) – won on Halle Berry

2003 – profit of $275 (cumulative $1,735) – won on Catherine Zeta-Jones and Adrian Brody

2004 – profit of $150 (cumulative $1,875) – won on Sean Penn

2005 – profit of $214 (cumulative $2,089) – won on Hilary Swank

2006 – profit of $350 (cumulative $2,439) – won on Reese Witherspoon

2007 – profit of $1,463 (cumulative $3,912) – won on Murphy at Globes, Arkin & West Bank Story at Oscars

2008 – profit of $268 (cumulative $4,280) – won on Tilda Swinton and the Coen brothers

2009 – profit of $253 (cumulative $4,533) – won on Mickey Rourke & Kate Winslet at Globes, Winslet at Oscars

2010 – loss of $830 (cumulative $3,703)

 

I’m still up $3,703 in career earnings so I have no right to complain.  I’ll refocus next year and start the streak once again.

 

Oscar Competition

 

It was my 10th Annual Oscars competition this year and I had a nice total of 58 entrants.  Thanks to everyone for giving it a crack.

 

I tried to pick some tricky upset categories although there weren’t as many as I hoped.  Peter Black won this year with a score of 4 out of 5.  There were a few tied on that score but Peter guessed the age spot on – Tom Hanks presented the best picture statuette and is currently 53 years of age.

 

Those who also scored 4 out of 5 were – Damara McAndrew (just one off the correct age), Peter Taggart, Chris Hodge, Ben Harlum, Simon Miraudo, Lee Watson and Nicole Sawyer.

 

Curiously, the 8 people who scored 4 out of 5 all correctly picked best picture, actress, costume and score. None correctly “guessed” the documentary short subject category.

 

Those on 3 out of 5 were – Glenn Hampson, Peter Timms, Scott Sues, Adam Conwell, Sue Aitken, Nigel Bridgeman, Joseph Ferguson, Matt Smith, Shannon Molloy and Jane Furey.  Most of these slipped up on the best picture category (as well as best documentary short subject).

 

Special mentions have to go with Scott Sues, Shannon Molloy and Yvette Atkins.  They were the lucky 3 (out of the 58 entrants) to correctly pick the documentary short subject category.

 

To quickly recap, the correct entries for the competition were:

 

Best Picture:  The Hurt Locker (26 out of 58 got correct)

Best Actress:  Sandra Bullock (41 out of 58 got correct)

Best Score:  Up (22 out of 58 got correct)

Best Costume Design:  The Young Victoria (26 out of 58 got correct)
Best Documentary Short Subject:  Music By Prudence (3 out of 58 got correct)

 

There were 4 people who managed to score 0 out of 5 (which is actually pretty impressive) but I better not mention by name…

 

Oscar Ceremony

 

On the whole, I was pleased with the ceremony.  It came it at right on 3 hours and 30 minutes which is a good length.  My quick positives and negatives:

 

Positives:

 

 - 
Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin’s introduction.  Martin is still the best Oscars host going around.  Great to see them poke fun at everyone.
 - The longer clips of the supporting actors and actresses – really showed the breadth of their roles.
 -Continuing on from last year, the detailed introductions of the best actors and actresses.  The people they got to do these intros were all well selected (unlike last year).
 -The way that the 10 films were introduced for best picture.  Again, with a worthy person to introduce.
 -The presentation of the animated film category and the interviews with the “stars” of each film.
 -The performances of the best songs being booted off the show.  No big loss for me.  There’s usually only one or two which are any good.
 -The set – I liked it a lot.  Great layering of the stage.

 

Negatives:
 
 - 
The Neil Patrick Harris musical number to kick things off.  Sound quality not good.  Could hardly make out what he was singing.
 -The lack of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin in the show.  After the intro, they disappeared.
 -The speed at which Tom Hanks read the best picture Oscar winner.  Um, shouldn’t he have gone through the nominees and producer’s names?
 -Some of the presenters seemed nervous / unprepared.  Their jokes didn’t zing like in past years.  Ben Stiller was good though in his Na’vi make-up.
 -Barbara Streisand “grandstanding” with her presentation of the best director Oscar to Kathryn Bigelow.  What a loser.
 -The lack of great speeches.  No one really knocked one out of the ballpark.  Not enough emotion sadly.  Maybe this was because most went as planned?
 -The lack of money in my wallet.

 

That’s about all I can think of without mentioning winners.  So let’s get to that now…

 

Oscar Winners

 

These lucky folk took home Oscars in the major categories:

 

Best Picture – The Hurt Locker

Best Director – Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)

Best Actor – Jeff Bridges (Cray Heart)

Best Actress – Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)

Best Supporting Actor – Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Best Supporting Actress – Mo’nique (Precious)

Best Original Screenplay – The Hurt Locker

Best Adapted Screenplay – Precious

Best Animated Film – Up

Best Foreign Language Film – The Secret In Their Eyes (Argentina)

 

Hurt Locker Conquers Avatar

 

Well, I’ve been saying that The Hurt Locker has been going to win since it won the Producer’s and Director’s Guild Awards and that has come to fruition.

 

I’m still struggling to accept it.  Avatar is a film that has reinvigorated people’s love of movies.  The box-office totals it has put up are obscene.  Now I know box-office doesn’t mean everything (ala Alice In Wonderland’s ridiculous $116m opening weekend – that’s another story) but it’s Avatar’s longevity at the box-office which talks in my opinion.  No film since Titanic has spent seven consecutive weeks atop the box-office charts in the U.S.  If the film was bad, trust me, it would out of the top 10 within a matter of weeks.  Word of mouth spreads like wildfire.

 

Now again, this doesn’t mean the film is Oscar worthy but I come back to my original review and describe it as a stunning, breathtaking adventure.  Just because it’s science fiction doesn’t make it any less of a film than say, a war flick or drama flick.  And yet, Avatar has fallen victim to the Academy’s mantra that science fiction and comedy films aren’t worthy of the top prize.  It’s just how it is.  I saw it twice and loved it just as much the second time.  It’s got all the elements of a wonderful movie.

 

Not everyone agrees.  We took talkback calls on 612ABC this morning with most very vocal in their support for The Hurt Locker over Avatar.  You can listen to the podcast of the show on the ABC Breakfast Blog by clicking here.

 

Anyway, what’s done is done.  Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win the best director Oscar and I admit, the direction is the best part of The Hurt Locker.  That’s two years in a row though (after Slumdog Millionaire) where I’ve felt underwhelmed by the best picture selection.

 

Hurt Locker finished with 6 wins and Avatar went home with 3 wins.  Other films with multiple wins were Precious, Up and Crazy Heart.

 

And The Oscar Goes To Sandra Bullock

 

I guess the other talking point is Sandra Bullock.  I wrote a blog a month ago about all the bad movies she’s made.  If you’d have said to me twelve months ago that Sandra Bullock would win an Academy Award next year, I’d have laughed in your face (with probably a little spittle coming out too).

 

That opinion wouldn’t have changed during the year.  The Proposal and All About Steve (which she won the Razzie for yesterday) were both ghastly.  Along came The Blind Side.  I liked it.  I liked Bullock in it.  The best thing she’s ever done.

 

I’ve also enjoyed Bullock on the awards circuit this year.  She speaks well and has a great sense of humour.  She followed in Halle Berry’s footsteps by accepting her Razzie for The Blind Side in person.

 

That said, she didn’t deserve to win.  Carey Mulligan and Gabourey Sidibe were both better in my eyes.  I had a late hunch that Sidibe might win after Precious upset Up In The Air for best adapted screenplay.  Not so.  Bullock’s performance certainly wasn’t the worst to win an Oscar but I’d have voted against her.

 

Surprises?

 

Anyone who follows the Oscars on a regular basis hopes for a few surprises.  It’s always nice to see the shocked look on someone’s face as their name is read and they start walking to the stage.  There were too big upsets which stood out for me.

 

Firstly, Precious winning best adapted screenplay over Up In The Air.  This one came out of left field.  Up In The Air had won almost every award in this category.  It won the BAFTA, the Golden Globe and the Writers’ Guild Award.  Precious hadn’t won a thing (except for the Independent Spirit Award).  Yet, Precious took the Oscar and a stunned Geoffrey Fletcher (writer) gave a nice speech on stage.  I feel bad for Jason Reitman (Up In The Air) – I thought his time had come after 3 great scripts in a row – Thank You For Smoking, Juno and now Up In The Air.

 

Secondly, The Secret In Their Eyes from Argentina won for best foreign language film.  I don’t know many people who saw this coming.  Most fancied A Prophet and The White Ribbon which had dominated lead up awards.  This can be a tricky category as only those Academy members who see all 5 nominated films can vote.  It doesn’t take too many votes to win and I guess Argentina’s entry won them over.  It’s the second time that Argentina has won (after taking the prize in 1985 for The Official Story).  Rolling Stones columnist Peter Travers summed it up best – “The Argentine film beating A Prophet and White Ribbon for best foreign film officially marks this category as nuts.

 

One of the more interesting moments of the Oscars came when Music For Prudence won best documentary short subject.  You can view the award being presented here.  You could definitely sense tension between the two winners.  There’s a good reason for that and you can read more here.

 

The unseen categories (documentary short subject, short film live action, short film animated) didn’t go as I’d hoped.  I bombed out there and went 0 for 3.  I managed 17 out of 21 for the remaining categories missing only actress, adapted screenplay, foreign language and cinematography.  So I guess that’s a pretty good result for me – 17 out of 24 in total.  I still wish I was wrong about Avatar.

 

Other Thoughts

 

This was the first time I’ve watched the Oscars live and it was great to be able to do so.  Tired I was of covering my ears at work and trying to avoid hearing any spoilers on the way home.  It was also great on Twitter – following the random thoughts of others on the web.  There was plenty of mud slinging and a lot of Avatar bashing.

 

@scrivenersfancy came up with the best Oscar zingers.  I won’t even try to match his sense of humour in this blog but if you’d like a few laughs, here are a sample of his offerings…

 

 -
Is Barbra thinking 'If only "The Mirror Had Two Faces" had been in 3D'?
 - I'm sorry, is someone putting the Razzies to air by mistake?  (following Sandra Bullock’s win)
 - I was in the next room. Did 'Dante's Cove' just win an Oscar?  (following the win of The Cove for best documentary)
 -Thankfully James Taylor didn't die before the end of the montage.  (as Mr Taylor played during the in memoriam tribute)
 -Thank God they didn't let Roger Corman or Lauren Bacall make a speech. I really need to hear what Miley Cyrus has to say.
 -Maybe if Tarantino had spelt the title right, he might have won the writing prize.
 -Sounds to me like Randy Newman has been nominated 16 times for the same song.
 -Someone give an award to whoever pulled the plug on Richard Wilkins!

 

Also worth a read is this blog from Peter Taggart who compares the Oscars to a Parents & Citizens Association meeting.

 

I do love the Oscars.  They’re a great way to promote the medium of cinema and to honour those who have achieved the best (or close to it) in their respective fields.  The feeling that one must have when their name is read and the walk to the stage (while their “theme” music is playing) must be amazing.  I’m guessing most of guests are pretty drunk right now and so on that note, I bid you farewell.  We’ll do it all again next year!