Sunday, February 24, 2008

Best Lines of 2007

10. "Yeah, I mean I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into?"- Ellen Page, Juno

9. “Forget you ever met people like me.”- Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises

8. “Here we are! Oh please, please be real!”- Christian Bale, Rescue Dawn

7. “I drink your milkshake. I DRINK IT UP!”- Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

6. “Do I look like I am negotiating?!”- George Clooney, Michael Clayton

5. “I am McLovin.”- Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Superbad

4. “Call it.”- Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

3. “‘Cunt’”- in a letter written by James McAvoy, Atonement

2. "When I got older, I always thought that God would come into my life. And he didn't."- Tommy Lee Jones, No Country for Old Men

1. “I’m finished.”- Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

What'd I forget? Tell me your favorites.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My 2007 OSCARS

If I was the sole member of the AMPAS, then this is what this year’s nominees and winners would look like. Winners are in bold, comments are in italics.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
Rescue Dawn
There Will Be Blood

Best film of the year. Period.

Paul Thomas Anderson- There Will Be Blood
Joel and Ethan Coen- No Country for Old Men
Werner Herzog- Rescue Dawn (criminally underrated)
Sean Penn- Into the Wild (the year's biggest snub)
Julian Schnabel- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Toss up between the two innovative westerns created by Anderson and the Coen brothers. The Coens are long overdue; Anderson will be back up here soon.

Christian Bale- Rescue Dawn (can the man get a nomination already?)
George Clooney- Michael Clayton
Daniel Day Lewis- There Will Be Blood
Tommy Lee Jones- In the Valley of Elah
Gordon Pinset- Away from Her (Christie has been getting all of the accolades, but without Pinset, you are missing half of a heartbreaking relationship)

While Bale is one of our finest (and most underrated actors), Lewis’ performance was a revelation in the film medium.

Julie Christie- Away From Her
Rosario Dawson- Descent (if you have a very very very strong stomach, then check out Dawson's brutally frank portryal of a victimized woman)
Marion Cotillard- La Vie En Rose
Ellen Page- Juno
Tang Wei- Lust, Caution

Wei’s performance is as shocking, haunting, candid, explicit and memorable as any film debut that I’ve ever seen.

Casey Affleck- The Assassination of Jesse James
Javier Bardem- No Country for Old Men
Paul Dano- There Will Be Blood
Philip Seymour Hoffman- Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
Steve Zahn- Rescue Dawn

He’s just that good. I dare you to call it another way.

Cate Blanchett- I'm Not There
Jennifer Jason Leigh- Margot at the Wedding
Kelly Macdonald- No Country For Old Men
Amy Ryan- Gone Baby Gone
Tinda Swinton- Michael Clayton

She would be a lock if she hadn’t won three years ago for The Aviator, but here, as Bob Dylan, Blanchett has never been better.

Wes Anderson- The Darjeeling Limited
Noah Baumbach- Margot at the Wedding
Diablo Cody- Juno
Tony Gillroy- Michael Clayton
Kelly Masterson- Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

I’m still at a loss about how this marvelous film did not pick up a single nomination.

Paul Thomas Anderson- There Will Be Blood
Joel and Ethan Coen- No Country For Old Men
Andrew Dominik- The Assassination of Jesse James
Sean Penn- Into the Wild
James Vanderbilt- Zodiac

Even in its silences, Anderson’s brilliantly paced screenplay resonates.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

The order of these scenes takes balls. The film still gets crap for its perfectly structured final act. If you had paid attention, you would get it.

Roger Deakins- The Assassination of Jesse James
Roger Deakins- No Country for Old Men
Eric Gautier- Into the Wild
Rodrigo Prieto- Lust, Caution
Robert Elswit- There Will Be Blood

Deakins is one of the greatest eyes behind the camera, but Robert Elswit’s fluid movements and long takes were highlighted in the tour de force that is There Will Be Blood.

Dario Marianelli- Atonement
James Newton Howard- Michael Clayton
Carter Burwell- No Country for Old Men
Klaus Badelt- Rescue Dawn
Jonny Greenwood- There Will Be Blood

Greenwood’s eerily haunting score was a fitting part in a modern-day masterpiece.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Favorite Scene: Babel

Warning: Critical plot details will be divulged in this post.

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu uses a perfect blend of mercy, hope, and desperation to fuel his masterpiece, Babel, into an emotional powerhouse. No scene is more evident of such brilliance than the one in which Cate Blanchett’s character is evacuated from a local Moroccan village.

After being struck by a stray bullet, Blanchett is taken to a nearby village to be cared for by her husband, Brad Pitt, along with a compassionate tour guide (first-time actor Mohamed Akhzam).

Pitt tries frantically to get help from the local and US governments, and embassies; from virtually anyone who can get them out and to a hospital.

Throughout the picture, Akhzam helps Pitt by getting him a phone and medical attention for his wife. Yet Pitt constantly battles Akhzam, taking all of his pain and frustration out on the only man willing to help. After hours of struggle, a rescue helicopter finally arrives. At the sight of the helicopter, a beautiful guitar piece plays over the soundtrack, the Kronos Quartet’s "When Are Wings Are Cut, Can We Still Fly?"
As the guitar strings are plucked frantically, Iñárritu uses very fast cuts to heighten the confusion. The chopper lands and dozens of people scatter around, dusts flying through the crowds, but amidst the chaos, Blanchett’s injured body is put on board.
The moment to look for is when Pitt, following his wife on the chopper, turns around and embraces Akhzam, hugging him, demonstrating his most earnest thanks. Once they separate, Pitt reaches for his wallet and pulls out a wad of money, handing it over to Akhzam. With their voices inaudible as the song continues, Akhzam puts up his hands and refuses to accept the cash. Pitt tries a second and third time, begging the man to take what he deserves. When Akhzam refuses for a last time, Pitt puts his hands down, staring at his friend.

If there has ever been any doubt in your mind that Brad Pitt cannot act, then watch this scene. Watch his eyes when he tells the man thank you.

The scene lasts for only half a minute, but its impact is enormous. In a film filled with intense and disheartening moments, you will instantly feel the goodness that man can accomplish.