Review: Fish Tank

I first heard of 'Fish Tank' while reading Entertainment Weekly's website. Then it was nominated (and won) a BAFTA for Best British Film, so when it showed up on IFC On Demand (I love IFCOD..except for that time I bought 'Antichrist') I immediately wanted to see what this was all about.

Staring mostly British unknowns, the film follows 15 year old Mia (Katie Jarvis) a moody, unruly teen living in low income housing with her equally moody and unruly mother and little sister. She has a passion for dance, she sneaks into abandoned buildings to practice. When her mother gets a new boyfriend, Conner (Michael Flassbender) his obvious advances towards her are hard to ignore. Conner inspires her to go after her dancing dream, but he also brings out the worst of her. The film borderlines on whats right and wrong. At first you want something good for Mia, but we're quickly reminded that she is 15 and this man is dating her mother. It isn't healthy.

The way the film was shot was great. Lots of long shots, views of the poorer side of Essex. We definitely get to see the film through Mia's eyes, and share her point of view. The film tends to get a little random in places. A scene with Mia attempting to free a horse seem a little odd at first, but eventually came together in the end. I see a lot of potential in Katie Jarvis, who was apparently casted after the casting directer heard her get in a screaming match with her boyfriend at a train station. Little Rebecca Griffiths, who plays Mia's little sister Tyler was also a nice bit of comic relief.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "What does age matter if you like someone?" - Mia (Katie Jarvis) A perfect example of tainted youth.

Review: The Last Station

When I was leaving the theater, a woman muttered "Well that was very British". I laughed, she said it like it was a bad thing. I think the Brit actors in this film were powerful and engaging. I'll never know why she said something like that.

'The Last Station' is about a Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) He's at the point where people are more fascinated with him then they are his writing. His friend Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti) pressures him to change his will to leave out his wife Sofya (Helen Mirren) after their 40+ years of marriage. He isn't healthy, and they've been at odds with each other for quite some time. Tolstoy hires a secretary Valentin (James McAvoy) to basically learn all of Sofya's crazy ways so that they can use them against her.

I wasn't to aware of the "Tolstoya movement" so to speak, and I thought this film was going to be more about that. It's not. I expected it to be an intense character study of Tolstoy, but it's not. It doesn't hurt the film, although it drags a bit towards the end the cast is astounding. Plummer and Mirren earned Oscar noms for their performances, and now I see why. James McAvoy has always been one of my favorite underdogs (And I hate calling him an underdog because he's above all that in my opinion) He was a standout, like he normally is. At first I thought I was upset because the film wasn't what I thought It would be, but I enjoyed the performances of the entire cast so much I can hardly be angry about it.

Recommended: Yes (Just don't expect a detailed Tolstoy story)

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "If I had a wife like you, I would've gone to America" -Vladmir (Paul Giamatti)

DVD Review: Year One

I should really just call this the "Starz on Demand" review. Because that's how I ended up seeing this. With the Winter Games done and an early flight to catch in the morning. What could I do to pass the time on my all nighter? Pick a flick from Starz.

'Year One' follows Zed (Jack Black) a hunter and Oh (Michael Cera) a gatherer that are banished from their village. After a few run-ins with some familiar faces, Zed and Oh end up in Sodom, trying to free the women of their dreams, Maya (June Diane Raphael) and Eema (Juno Temple) who were captured and made slaves after they left the village. Oh, the reason they left was because Zed ate the 'Forbidden Fruit" so he thinks he's the chosen one. Why didn't I mention that at the beginning? Well, like this film, I felt like being "all over the place."

This movie obviously didn't take itself seriously, which is fine. It's meant to be a dumb comedy. It's meant to live just on one-liners and Michael Cera and Jack Black's antics. I'm going to assume the production of this film was rushed as well, because how else can you explain the horrible continuity, bad wigs (Cera's manages to change shades throughout the film) and the terribly done credits. While it's nice to see some amusing cameos (Bill Hader and Paul Rudd) watching Jack Black and Michael Cera be well...Jack Black and Michael Cera just isn't as amusing as the first 100 times we've seen this. There are a few chuckle-worthy parts but the film falls flat. Even if the actors seemed like they had fun making it, it didn't transition well on screen.

Recommended: No

Grade: D

Memorable Quote: Put your hands makes noise!! - Zed (Jack Black)

Indie Gems: Down in the Valley.

It's been far too long since I've done one of these. I've been slacking, which I do around Oscar seasons because that's all I think about.

'Down in the Valley' was a small film that was shot for about $8 million. It shows, there's not not a lot of background music or crafty shots. The film looks as if it was shot an a hand held camera, but there is nothing wrong with that. It helps this little modern day western.

Harlan (Edward Norton) is a wannabe cowboy living in the San Fernando Valley. He works at a gas station, although he doesn't have a car. He has no family or friends nearby to turn to. He meets Tobe (Evan Rachel Wood) when he fills up gas for her and her friends on their way to the beach. Tobe takes a chance and invites him to join, he quits his job and goes with her. The start of a whirlwind romance has began. Tobe is only 17, so of course her step-father Wayne (David Morse) isn't thrilled with his daughter hanging out with a man that's nearly his age. Harlan also provides friendship for Tobe's younger and anti social brother, Lonnie (Rory Culkin) Their relationship begins to progress, but then Tobe starts seeing Harlan in a different light. His secrets are slowly being revealed.

What stands out with this film is the acting. Edward Norton is top notch. His charactor's got a lot of baggage and he carries himself wonderfully throughout the film. Evan Rachel Wood is always a stand out. She's constantly one of the best performers in everything she's in and this is no different. Rory Culkin is easily the most talented of the Culkin siblings. (Keiran being 2nd)

Like I was saying before, the budget gives this film the ultimate "indie" feel. It helps the somberness of the film. The plot is interesting, but does provide a few moments where you might be scratching your head. It's a must see if you are fans of the actors.

Recommended: Yes. B- (I decided to switch to letter grades instead of star ratings..I think it might transition a little better.)

Memorable Quote: "How old are you? Ten, eleven?" "Thirteen." "Oh.." "I'll get bigger." - exchange between Harlan (Edward Norton) and Lonnie (Rory Culkin)

Best and Worst Oscar moments of the decade

I thought this would be a fun idea. I'm going to run down with what I thought were the best moments of the Oscars, and what I thought were the worst. Who should've been nominated, who should've won, who had the best acceptance speech. All through the past decade.


The Best 1) American Beauty wins best picture, actor, director, screenplay, and cinematography. American Beauty is my all time favorite movie and it deserved everything it won. Some thing the film is overrated, I don't. I was young when it came out in 99 and I loved it back then. As a grew up, I grew to love it for different reasons. This film definitely means something to me.

The Worst 1)Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules) beats Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile) for best supporting actor. Caine was good, but Duncan was heart-wrenching. Tell me you did not cry like a little bitch with a skinned knee at some point during 'The Green Mile'.

2)Tarzan edges out South Park for best song written for a motion picture. Ok, so that's not a huge upset but I'm a South Park fan for life, how funny would that have been?


The Best 1) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon gets a ton of nominations (and a best Foreign Film win.) No one thought that film was going to get that much recognition, but it did. Ang Lee is a fantastic director (I'll forgive you for 'Hulk') and he showed it.

The Worst 1)The majority of the other films that were nominated were just...not that great. 2001 was sort of a boring year for the Oscars, in my opinion anyways. 'Almost Famous' was a good flick. Gladiator was decent, as were 'Billy Elliot' and 'Requim for a dream' (I get teary watching Ellen Burstyn every time.) But 'Erin Brockovich' (and worse..Julia Roberts actually winning for it) 'Cast Away', 'Traffic', 'Oh Brother Where Art Thou' "102 Dalmations' (they got nominated for costume). It just wasn't a strong year.


The Best 1)'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy begins it's reign. 'Iris' gets multiple nominations.
2)Sean Penn's loss for 'I Am Sam' stars the "You never go full retard theory." (see: 'Tropic Thunder')

The Worst 1)Whoopi Goldberg was a bland host. I expected so much more from her.
2)David Lynch did not win best director for 'Mulholland Drive'. Ok, so I'm happy for Ron Howard winning best director but I LOVE Mulholland Drive, why Naomi Watts wasn't nominated was beyond me.


The Best 1)Adrian Brody making out with Halle Barry while accepting his Best Actor trophy for 'The Pianist'. I can imagine how many men envy him for that. Plus he completely carried that movie, and deserved his Oscar.
2)'Lose Yourself' wins best song for '8 Mile'.

The Worst 1)Eminem isn't present to except his freaking Oscar for 'Lose Yourself.' his daughter was watching on TV and told him he won. I know it's not your scene, Em. But you should've graced the Academy with a performance. They rarely recognize rap music.
2) 'Gangs of New York' loses ALL TEN of it's nominations. ALL TEN!? No love for Scorese or Day-Lewis? Wtf.


The Best 1) Lord of the Rings: Return of the King owns all the competition. Well deserved, well earned, well done!
2)Charlize Theron wins for 'Monster'. She disappeared in that role.

The Worst
1) No Best Actress nomination for Evan Rachel Wood in 'Thirteen'. Holly Hunter is nominated for Supporting, but considering Evan's age at that time and her haunting performance, she should've been given a nom easily! Instead, fellow teen Keisha Castle-Hughes gets one for 'Whale Rider' (although it was really Diane Keaton I could've done without)

2) Both 'Mystic River' and 'Cold Mountain' were boring. That's right, I said it.


The Best 1)'The Aviator' and 'Million Dollar Baby' have a tight race to the top. They were going back and forth winning awards. MDB won for Best pic, with Hillary Swank, Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood picking up Best Actress, Supporting Actor and Director. While 'Aviator got a Best Supporting Actress win for Cate Blanchet. (Leonardo DiCaprio lost Best Actor to Jaime Fox for 'Ray) There was a lot of great films here this year. Eternal Sunshine, Hotel Rwanda, Sideways, Lemony Snicket, Harry Potter, Spiderman 2. Lots.

The Worst 1) 'The Incredibles' beat 'Shrek 2' for Best Animated Picture. No way, and Shrek 2 also lost out in Best Original Song for 'Accidently In Love'. (I liked that song, damn it).
2) Chris Rock was a little disappointing as a host. I don't think it was his fault though, the broadcast felt like it toned him down too much.


The Best 1) Brokeback Mountain receives numerous nominations, Best Pic, director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress.
2) Reese Witherspoon wins for 'Walk The Line'. She hasn't done anything that good since, but she earned her one great role.
3)William Hurt gets nominated for being on screen for roughly 11 minutes at the end of 'A History of Violence'. (hilarious)
4) Amy Adams is nominated for being the only reason to see 'Junebug'. (Love her)

The Worst 'Crash' beats 'Brokeback Mountain' in the Best Picture category. What!? 'Crash' was decent, it deserved it's nom but it was no where near 'Brokeback Mountain' in terms of acting, storyline, direction, emotion. ANYTHING.
2) Felicity Huffman grabs a Best Actress nom for 'Transamerica' when Cillian Murphy does not collect one for 'Breakfast on Pluto." The reason I compare these two was because they are both films about transgendered people. Cillian pushed it to the limit and "Pluto" was a far better film. Huffman basically spoke in a low voice and stuffed a sausage down her pants. Cillian Murphy actually shaved his body, plucked his eyebrows, wore a wig and danced in the freaking red light district to get into his character. You tell me who's better.


The Best 1) Martin Scorcese FINALLY gets an Oscar for his fantastic film 'The Departed'. He really could've gone up there and said "it's about damn time" and I would not have blamed him.
2) The little indies that could: Little Miss Sunshine, The Last King of Scotland, Half Nelson, Little Children, and Notes on a Scandal all garner multiple noms (and wins)
3) Jennifer Hudson wins Best Supporting Actress for her debut role in 'Dreamgirls'. Nothing says "fuck you, American Idol" like a cast member who was voted off only to win a powerful role and give a powerful performance. Props to Hudson
4) Will Ferrel, John C. Reilly and Jack Black perform a song and dance about comedies never winning Oscars. They poke fun at nominees Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling and Peter O'Toole, then pretend to call out nominee Mark Wahlberg only to tell him that he's badass. Hilarious, and better than the rest of the musical performances.

The Worst 1) James McAvoy was not nominated for Best Supporting Actor for 'The Last King of Scotland'. Ridiculous if you ask me. McAvoy was superb in that film. Forest Whitaker was powerful, but McAvoy matched him every step of the way. I still bitch to this day..
2) 'Babel' is overrated. How did it get that many nominations?
3) Helen Mirren's obviously way to planned acceptance speech. Sure, she was great in 'The Queen' but her speech came off as snobby and expected.
4) Paul Greengrass being nominated for Best Director for 'United 93'. It was too soon, I'll say it, he basically got a nomination for having the balls to talk about 9/11. He's better off with the Bourne films
5) Beyonce obviously trying to out sing Jennifer Hudson during the 'Dreamgirls' best original song numbers.


The Best1) DRRRAAAIINNAGE!! Daniel Day-Lewis is the man.
2) Ellen Page is one of my favorite actresses, and gets nominated for 'Juno' (even though she should've been nominated for 'Hard Candy' years ago. Marion Cotillard winning was great though, she was so surprised.
3)Laura Linney (The Savages) edges out Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart) for a slot in the Best Actress category after being rather unnoticed all awards season (kind of like Maggie Gyllenhaal this year)
4)'The Diving bell and the Butterfly' is recognized for it's directing. Even though that's one of the most depressing movies I have ever seen, the way it was shot was phenomenal
5)'Once' wins Best Original Song, and host Jon Stewart brings Marketa Irglova back out after her speech got cut off to finish. Classy.

The Worst 1) Paul Dano was not nominated for Best Supporting Actor for 'There Will Be Blood'. Sure Daniel Day-Lewis stole that show, but Dano (much like McAvoy in 'Scotland' was right up there with him) I'm not too worried. Dano is a strong performer who will get his due soon.
2) Diablo Cody wins best orig screenplay for 'Juno'. Ok, so I just praised Ellen Page for getting nominated for the same film. But Juno's dialogue did get a little "up it's own ass". I loved the film, but it did get overrated. 'The Savages' should've taken home that prize.
3)Tilda Swinton (wearing a garbage bag?) wins Best Supporting Actress for 'Michael Clayton' when all the other nominees (Amy Ryan: Gone Baby Gone, Saoirse Ronan: Atonement, Cate Blanchett: I'm Not There and Ruby Dee: American Gangster) were 10 times stronger than she was. I will never understand that. I thought Amy Ryan had it in the bag.


The Best 'Slumdog Millionaire' practically sweeps. When you think about it, that film almost went direct to DVD. Danny Boyle gets his well deserved Oscar for directing, and invites (literally) the entire cast up on stage, and apologizes to one that he forgot to add in the credits.
2) Heath Ledger wins a posthumous Oscar for his haunting portrayal of The Joker in 'The Dark Knight.' I seriously would've thrown something at my TV if he didn't win. I also firmly believe that if he were alive today (RIP) he would've still won all the awards. He was that damn good. It really hurts to think I'll never see him in anything new ever again.
3) Sean Penn beats Mickey Rourke for Best Actor. First off, I'm a life-long wrestling fan and I thought Mickey Rourke was FANTASTIC in 'The Wrestler'. But Sean Penn was better, plain and simple. 'Milk' was probably my favorite movie of that year. The entire cast, director, everything about that film was great.
4) Kate Winslet (finally) wins an Oscar. Her speech was so cute.
5) The way the presented the awards, by having past winners say something nice about all the nominees was cool. Anne Hathaway looked like she was about to cry after hers.

The Worst 1)'The Dark Knight' didn't get in the Best Picture race. More proof the Academy doesn't take comic book movies seriously. Then one year later they start the 10 Best Picture nominees. Too little too late in my opinion. Dark Knight should've had it. 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' was a waste anyways.

2) Where the hell was Leonardo DiCaprio for 'Revolutionary Road'? Again, we could've removed 'Benjamin Button' and put him in there.

3) The "return of musicals" musical performance featuring our Host, Hugh Jackman, Beyonce, the kids from 'High School Musical' and the kids from 'Mamma Mia'. It fell flat, did they not noticed that there were NO musicals up for any nominations that night? The closest thing they got was that little dance at the end of Slumdog Millionaire.


Well those are my favs and gripes. I'm sure by this column you will have realized that I really hated 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'. Loved 'American Beauty' and 'The Dark Knight' and that I majorly mark out for James McAvoy, Paul Dano and Saoirse Ronan. Please let me know what you think were the bests and worsts!

Thanks for reading. :)

Review: Shutter Island

Fun fact: There was a 'Clash of the Titans' trailer attached to this film and gentleman sitting next to me politely (and loudly) pointed out somewhere near the 2 hour mark that if Liam Neeson were in this movie he wouldve already killed everyone on this island, saved who he needed to save and hijacked a ferry back to the mainland. I laughed.

'Shutter Island' follows Teddy Daniels (Leonardo Dicaprio) a US Marshall sent to an isolated island off the coast of Boston, MA that houses the criminally insane. He's there to investigate a missing patient with his newly appointed partner Chuck Alue (Mark Ruffalo). Teddy is very damaged, he lost his wife (played by Michelle Williams in flashbacks) in a fire. He's a WWII vet who is still haunted by seeing dead bodies at a concentration camp. Once he gets to Shutter Island and visits with the doctors (Ben Kingsley and Max Von Sydow) he begins to grow suspicious. Something just doesn't feel right about that place.

There's a lot of pleasant surprises in this film. Certain actors you maybe weren't expecting show up in the film. I won't say who because that will spoil the surprise. Leo (director Martin Scorcese's go to guy) is fantastic as ever. He said this film was daunting for him, and you can see why. He gives a hell of a performance in a very emotionally draining role. .

The suspense is great. I never read the book so I went into the film with brand new eyes, and from what I've heard its very closely adapted. The editing was a little sketchy at times, but the flashback scenes were beautiful, and a lot of that credits to Michelle Williams. She was perfect, all dressed in yellow and innocent looking, surrounded by all things burning and dark. Those could've been cheesy, but they never were. They were intense and sometimes frightening.

Recommended: Yes 4/5 stars

Memorable quote: "Why are you all wet baby?" - Ben Kingsley ( Dr. Cawley) This quote is actually muttered by a few different people throughout the film. I chose 'Kingsley's because it provides one of the bigger "wtf" moments at the end.

BAFTA Winners.

I've always enjoyed the BAFTA awards (British version of the Oscars) because their generally full of surprises, and they nominate people that the academy sometimes misses. (ie James McAvoy for Last King of Scotland, Paul Dano for There Will Be Blood) This year's telecast was no different. Front runners Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep took a backseat to Colin Firth and Carey Mulligan in the lead actor/actress categories. And The Hurt Locker surprisingly nearly swept all the categories! Here is a list of the winners:

Best Film
WINNERThe Hurt Locker (2008)

Other Nominees:Avatar (2009)

An Education (2009)

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)

Up in the Air (2009/I)

Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film of the Year
WINNERFish Tank (2009)

Other Nominees:An Education (2009)

In the Loop (2009)

Moon (2009)

Nowhere Boy (2009)

Best Actor
WINNERColin Firth for A Single Man (2009)

Other Nominees:Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart (2009)

George Clooney for Up in the Air (2009/I)

Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker (2008)

Andy Serkis for Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010)

Best Actress
WINNERCarey Mulligan for An Education (2009)

Other Nominees:Saoirse Ronan for The Lovely Bones (2009)

Gabourey Sidibe for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)

Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia (2009)

Audrey Tautou for Coco avant Chanel (2009)

Best Supporting Actor
WINNERChristoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Other Nominees:Alec Baldwin for It's Complicated (2009)

Christian McKay for Me and Orson Welles (2008)

Alfred Molina for An Education (2009)

Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones (2009)

Best Supporting Actress
WINNERMo'Nique for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)

Other Nominees:Anne-Marie Duff for Nowhere Boy (2009)

Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air (2009/I)

Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air (2009/I)

Kristin Scott Thomas for Nowhere Boy (2009)

David Lean Award for Achievement in Direction
WINNERKathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2008)

Other Nominees:Neill Blomkamp for District 9 (2009)

James Cameron for Avatar (2009)

Lone Scherfig for An Education (2009)

Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Best Screenplay (Original)
WINNERThe Hurt Locker (2008): Mark Boal

Other Nominees:The Hangover (2009): Jon Lucas, Scott Moore

Inglourious Basterds (2009): Quentin Tarantino

A Serious Man (2009): Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Up (2009): Bob Peterson, Pete Docter

Best Screenplay (Adapted)
WINNERUp in the Air (2009/I): Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner

Other Nominees:District 9 (2009): Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell

An Education (2009): Nick Hornby

In the Loop (2009): Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Geoffrey Fletcher

Best Cinematography
WINNERThe Hurt Locker (2008)

Other Nominees:Avatar (2009)

District 9 (2009)

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

The Road (2009)

Best Editing
WINNERThe Hurt Locker (2008)

Other Nominees:Avatar (2009)

District 9 (2009)

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Up in the Air (2009/I)

Best Production Design
WINNERAvatar (2009)

Other Nominees:District 9 (2009)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Best Costume Design
WINNERThe Young Victoria (2009)

Other Nominees:Bright Star (2009)

Coco avant Chanel (2009)

An Education (2009)

A Single Man (2009)

Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music
WINNERUp (2009): Michael Giacchino

Other Nominees:Avatar (2009): James Horner

Crazy Heart (2009): T-Bone Burnett, Stephen Bruton

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009): Alexandre Desplat

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010): Chaz Jankel

Best Make Up/Hair
WINNERThe Young Victoria (2009)

Other Nominees:Coco avant Chanel (2009)

An Education (2009)

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

Nine (2009)

Best Sound
WINNERThe Hurt Locker (2008)

Other Nominees:Avatar (2009)

District 9 (2009)

Star Trek (2009)

Up (2009)

Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects
WINNERAvatar (2009)

Other Nominees:District 9 (2009)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

The Hurt Locker (2008)

Star Trek (2009)

Best Film not in the English Language
WINNERUn prophète (2009)

Other Nominees:Los abrazos rotos (2009)

Coco avant Chanel (2009)

Låt den rätte komma in (2008)

Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (2009)

Best Animated Feature Film
WINNERUp (2009)

Other Nominees:Coraline (2009)

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Orange Rising Star Award
WINNERKristen Stewart

Other Nominees:Jesse Eisenberg

Nicholas Hoult

Carey Mulligan

Tahar Rahim

Carl Foreman Award for the Most Promising Newcomer
WINNERDuncan Jones for Moon (2009)(Director)

Other Nominees:Lucy Bailey, Andrew Thompson, Elizabeth Morgan Hemlock, David Pearson for Mugabe and the White African (2009)(Directors, Producers)

Eran Creevy for Shifty (2008)(Writer/Director)

Stuart Hazeldine for Exam (2009)(Writer/Director)

Sam Taylor Wood for Nowhere Boy (2009)(Director)

Best Short Animation
WINNERMother of Many

Other Nominees:The Gruffalo (2009)

The Happy Duckling (2008)

Best Short Film
WINNERI Do Air (2009)

Other Nominees:14 (2008/II)

Jade (2009)

Mixtape (2009/II)

Off Season (2009)

Review: Crazy Heart

This is Jeff Bridge's film. No doubt about it. He's carries it, he lives it, he sings it. He's everything in it. I hadn't heard much about 'Crazy Heart' before the Independent Spirit nominations came out. Then after seeing Bridges on Conan (singing a song from the film) I knew right there that his performance was going to be brilliant. It drew me in.

'Crazy Heart' follows a washed up country singer named Bad Blake. (Bridges) He's passed his prime, he's touring small towns in the southwest, his agent is constantly on him to write new material. Bad is an alcoholic, a heavy smoker, and has been married and divorced five times. When he meets Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal) a reporter in Santa Fe, NM we already know his relationship with her will be doomed. He has an estranged son, who is now 28. Bad hasn't seen him since he was 4, and Jean's own 4 year old son Buddy fills that void for him. He falls hard for Jean. He's given a chance to open for a man that used to be his protege. Tommy Sweet (great little cameo by Colin Farrell) still really appreciates what Bad Blake did for him, even if Bad is unwilling to talk about it. They sing a duet on stage, and Bad confesses to Tommy that he'd love to get back into the business. Tommy said all Bad needs to do is write some new songs, and the studio would be interested. Bad hasn't written anything in over 3 years.

Bridges (and Farrell) do all their own singing and playing, which makes it even more special. Bridges really captivates us with Bad. He's tormented, yet funny. Irresponsible, yet lovable. He drinks, swears, smokes, and screws groupies, yet when he's playing with Buddy you wouldn't know that same man did all those questionable things. Maggie Gyllenhaal was great as Jean, a protective mother that understands the risks of seeing Blake, but takes them anyways. She's always been a brave actress, and her nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars was one of the few surprises this season. Although one can wonder if it's her "its about time" nomination when roles she had in 'Secretary' and 'Sherrybaby' were ignored.

The film captures the beauty of the desert southwest, and the music is fitting. We hear bits of 'The Weary Kind', the films signature song throughout, before we hear it in it's entirety at the end. We root for Blake to get better on his journey. While the ending may not be what everyone had hoped for, it's uplifting nonetheless.

Recommended: Yes 4/5 stars

Memorable Quote: "I used to want to be a baseball player, but I had trouble hitting the curve ball. That's why I stuck with guitar, that son of a bitch stays were it's supposed to." - Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges)

Films for Valentine's Day, from a slightly anti chick-flick type of girl.

With all the romantic comedies currently playing at the cinema getting horrible reviews, and after reading countless other lists of Love Story classics, I decided to throw in a few of my own. Might as well say this off the bat, I don't care too much for lovely-dovey chick flicks. So you might only find a few in this list.

Movie: Let The Right One In
Why it's good for Valentine's Day: Who doesn't remember their first love? This interesting little Swedish Vampire Flick is one of my all time faves, not for the gore or for the suspense, but for the endearing love story that's behind it all.

Movie: Amelie
Why it's good for Valentine's Day: How can you not watch this film without feeling a little warm and fuzzy inside? Audrey Tautou is fabulous, as is this entire little French film. If this movie were a chubby baby, you'd want to pinch it's cheeks.

Movie: Mean Girls
Why it's good for Valentine's Day: You go Glenn Coco!! Ok, so it's not really a love story, but it's full of pink, jealous bitches, and drama. You have to admit those things can sometimes surround Valentine's Day. At least embrace it with the best lesson learned: Do not have sex, because you will get pregnant...and die.

Movie: The Notebook
Why it's good for Valentine's Day: Queue my sappy chick flick. This film is the ultimate tear-jerking. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams have so much chemistry you can almost forgive Nicholas Sparks for his sappy, something-bad-always-happens-in-the-end romance novels. Sorry if I just spoiled 'A Walk to Remember', 'Dear John' and possibly "The Last Song' for you.

Movie: Love Actually
Why it's good for Valentine's Day: There's so many good actors in this film, it's always interesting. A lot of movies that have intertwined stories have a few that are not as interesting as the rest. This film doesn't. All of it's adorable, and it keeps your attention.

Movie: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Why it's good for Valentine's Day: Ok, so the film has it's obvious flaws, but it's a cute love story in the making with a killer soundtrack. Sure Michael Cera plays the same character in every film, but Nick feels a little more ballsy than the rest.

Movie: Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Why it's good for Valentine's Day: Nothing like out with the new flame, in with the new. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is hilarious all around. Not to mention Russel Brand teaching Jack McBrayer the best way to make love "With God still in the bedroom" is gold.

Slumdog Millionaire
Why it's good for Valentine's Day: I've never wanted two people to kiss so badly at the end of a film as I did Jamaal and Latika. This film is so great, and so sweet.

Movie: Brokeback Mountain
Why it's good for Valentine's Day: This film is the ultimate love story. It's so effective. Get off your high horses and get past "The Gay Cowboy" movie. It's so much more than that.

Movie: Once
Why it's good for Valentine's Day: The little indie that could. This Irish love story about two people who meet by chance and make beautiful music together is great. What makes it even better is that the actors in the film were a real life couple for awhile. Classy, and cute.

Movie: The Butterfly Effect
Why it's good for Valentine's Day: Ok, so it's not necessarily a "feel good" movie. But the entire point is about how far you would go to save the love of your life. Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart are brilliant in it, even though the ending is horrible.

Movie: My Girl
Why it's good for Valentine's Day: Another movie about young love. I can't watch this film without crying like a little bitch with a skinned knee every time. Maybe a good tear-jerker is good for V-day?

Movie: 10 Things I hate about you
Why it's good for Valentine's Day: It's got two of my favorite actors (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Heath Ledger) and a hip cast. The modern day 'Taming of the Shrew' is a good example of teen movies that don't suck. I love it.

Movie: Wristcutters: A love story
Why it's good for Valentine's Day: It's a love story set in a suicidal purgatory. It's interesting, quirky and ultimately very charming.

What are your favorite Valentine's Day movies?

Review: Precious

It's stories like this that make me really want to get into social work. How someone could treat a child so horrible is beyond me. This film was out to teach a lesson, and it did.

'Precious' is the name of our title character played by new-comer Gabourey Sidibe. She's a teenager in 1987 Harlem. She's pregnant for the 2nd time by her father. Her mother is both physically and emotionally abusive towards her. She's overweight, insecure and dreams of a better life. She's managed to to get by, but when her school suspends her for her 2nd pregnancy and sends her to 'Each One Teach One', an alternative school that learns her secret of being unable to read or write. She finds a place she can feel comfort, get a better learning experience, and even find love and friendship. Something she's harshly denied at home.

Monique plays Precious's mother Mary, and she really brings out the ugliness in her character. You hate Mary with every bone in your body, it reminded me a lot of Catherine Keener playing real life murder/worst mother ever Gertrude Baniszweski in 'An American Crime'. She brings out the hate, and disappears in her role. There's nothing to like about her, plain and simple she's just nasty. I never thought I'd say this, but Monique gave a fierce performance, and that Oscar is as good as hers already. Other supporting characters include Ms Rain (Paula Patton) Mrs. White (Maraiah Carey) and Lenny Kravitz (Nurse John). Ms. Rain is Precious's teacher who goes above and beyond to help her. She gives a brave, tear-jerking performance. Carey has come along way from 'Glitter', even though her part is small, she's decent. All the student's in Precious's class were great additions as well. All different, with amusing personalities.

Recommended: Yes 5/5 stars

Memorable Quote: "I wish she'd quit this shit" - Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) I choose that quote because it really got to me. What Precious was feeling, and how she deserved more. Brilliant performance by a first time actress.

Review: The Hurt Locker

I've never been one for war movies, they all seemed the same to me. If I had to pick a favorite, I always went for 'Saving Private Ryan' just because of the cast. Movies like 'The Thin Red Line' and 'Blackhawk Down' all sort of ran together to me. So earlier this year when I had the opportunity to see 'The Hurt Locker', I passed in favor of something else that wasn't as memorable. (I can't even remember what I saw instead) Now after all the fuss and acclaim surrounding the feature, I became a bit more curious. I saw it On Demand, but often opted for 'Uncertainty' or 'District 9' instead. Finally I told myself to stop stereotyping and just rent the damn thing. I'm glad I did.

'The Hurt Locker' is about the brave soldiers that have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world: disarming bombs during the war. After their commander is killed, they are given a new leader in the form of SFC William James (Jeremy Renner). He's all for the thrill of his job, and frankly he makes his comrads Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) a bit nervous. They just want to survive their last few days on the job, and James's recklessness threatens that at times.

While I'm happy I took the plunge, this film will probably end up running together with all the other war movies I've seen. It feels very real, very authentic, and it's edited beautifully. But it's also just kind of...there. Some scenes were intense, but the rest of the film felt like it just existed with a thin plot. Maybe that was the point?

Recommended: Sure 3/5 stars

Memorable Quote: "How about I pretend it's your dick?" Sgt Sanborn (Anthony Mackie)

Review: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Terry Gilliam might as well have his own "Gilliam" genre. The weird, beautifully shot, yet all over the place films with interesting characters and great ideas.
However Gilliam was faced with a difficult decision in this film. His supporting actor, Heath Ledger died in the middle of shooting, and that itself makes the film hard to watch.

The film follows Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) and traveling Imaginarium show. He lets his audience basically live out their dreams, they choose from two paths. One will end good, the other bad. Dr. Parnassus made a deal a long time ago for immortality with Mr. Nick (Tom Wait) years later he changed it when he met his first love, but Mr. Nicks made a different agreement. When his daughter Valentina (Lily Cole) turns 16, she belongs to Nr. Nick. Valentina is reaching that age, and Dr. Parnassus is not about to give her up. They make yet another deal, who ever entices the first 5 souls wins Valentina.

The script is everywhere, sometimes it's confusing but that's just how Gilliam works. Plummer is a strong lead, and Cole was surprisingly good, even though she looked nothing like a 15 year old. The main issue I had was the distraction of Ledger. Yes, he's good in the film, like he always is. The first shot we see of him he's hanging under a bridge. We're immediately reminded that this is the last film we'll ever see Ledger in again. When Johnny Dep (one of the 3 Tony incarnations) comes on screen, we're reminded again that Ledger is gone. As a huge Ledger fan, that was the hardest thing to get past. The annoyance that one of the greatest actors of all time will never graces us with his on screen presence again. At first I was curious on how Gilliam was going to do Tony, the man hired into the Imaginarium show to help Dr Parnassus get his 5 souls, with 4 different actors. It works. Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law all take in Tony with ease, besides the obvious physical differences, their all on the same page with the character as Ledger as. Farrell might even have been the best, he's the last Tony we see. Plus kudos go to Andrew Garfeild being in the film. He was terrific in 'Boy A', that might be my next 'Indie Gem' review now that I think of it.

The film is beautiful to watch, but at times the plot is shaky, but it's distracting. Very distracting, and that's not Gilliam's fault. He should be lauded for actually going on with the film and not just scrapping it like others have done when they lose a cast member. He knew Ledger's fans wanted to see his work, so he kept all of his scenes and casted new actors. That's caring. I don't think Gilliam had dollars in mind when he made that decision, he loved Heath and wanted to get his work out. Plain and simple.

Recommended: Yes (but familiarize yourself with Gilliam's style or else you might not like it as much) 3/5 stars

Memorable Quote: "What would I do without you, Percy." "Get a midget" - Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) and Percy (a surprisingly not annoying Verne Troyer)

Hesher Teaser/Director Spencer Susser speaks

This is a short snippet of the new film 'Hesher' which just premiered at the Sundance Film Festical. Here, director Spencer Susser explains the process of making the film which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman and Rainn Wilson

Academy Award Nominees

This was probably the most predictable Oscar noms I've seen in awhile. Many were deserving, (Jeff Bridges, Stanley Tucci, Inglorious Basterds, Up in the Air, Precious) some weren't (Blind Side for best picture....REALLY!?)

Before I get on to the noms there were a few surprises. Maggie Gyllenhaal got a nom for 'Crazy Heart' after being laregly ignored all season. This is good, I love Maggie. I haven't gotten a chance to see Crazy Heart yet, but seeing Jeff Bridges on Conan made me want to. I would've preferred the Inglrious Basterd girls over Penelope Cruz for the sleepy 'Nine'. The biggest shocker to me was 'The Blind Side' being nominated for best picture. There's a couple of scenrios here. My pick was for (500) Days of Summer to make it into the best picture race. It didn't. I also thought Star Trek might sneak it; it didn't. Yet animated film 'Up' got a best picture nom, and also an original screenplay nom (That should've went to 'Summer') My biggest issue besides the 'Summer' snub, if you had to put a sports movie in the best pic race, why not put 'Invictus'? That was a great film with a good story. 'The Blind Side' was just your average football movie, no better than 'Remember the Titans' or 'Friday Night Lights'. I've had enough of this Bullock lovefest when talented individuals like Saoirse Ronan, Emily Blunt and Abbie Cornish are overlooked. Speaking of lovefests that I'm sick of, how about that 'Avatar'?

Enough are your nominees:
Best Motion Picture of the Year
Nominees:Avatar (2009): James Cameron, Jon Landau

The Blind Side (2009): Nominees to be determined

District 9 (2009): Peter Jackson, Carolynne Cunningham

An Education (2009): Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey

The Hurt Locker (2008): Nominees to be determined

Inglourious Basterds (2009): Lawrence Bender

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness, Gary Magness

A Serious Man (2009): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Up (2009): Jonas Rivera

Up in the Air (2009/I): Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Nominees:Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart (2009)

George Clooney for Up in the Air (2009/I)

Colin Firth for A Single Man (2009)

Morgan Freeman for Invictus (2009)

Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker (2008)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Nominees:Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side (2009)

Helen Mirren for The Last Station (2009)

Carey Mulligan for An Education (2009)

Gabourey Sidibe for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)

Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia (2009)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominees:Matt Damon for Invictus (2009)

Woody Harrelson for The Messenger (2009/I)

Christopher Plummer for The Last Station (2009)

Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones (2009)

Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominees:Penélope Cruz for Nine (2009)

Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air (2009/I)

Maggie Gyllenhaal for Crazy Heart (2009)

Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air (2009/I)

Mo'Nique for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)

Best Achievement in Directing
Nominees:Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2008)

James Cameron for Avatar (2009)

Lee Daniels for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)

Jason Reitman for Up in the Air (2009/I)

Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Nominees:The Hurt Locker (2008): Mark Boal

Inglourious Basterds (2009): Quentin Tarantino

The Messenger (2009/I): Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman

A Serious Man (2009): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Up (2009): Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Thomas McCarthy

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Nominees:District 9 (2009): Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell

An Education (2009): Nick Hornby

In the Loop (2009): Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Geoffrey Fletcher

Up in the Air (2009/I): Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Nominees:Avatar (2009): Mauro Fiore

Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (2009): Christian Berger

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009): Bruno Delbonnel

The Hurt Locker (2008): Barry Ackroyd

Inglourious Basterds (2009): Robert Richardson

Best Achievement in Editing
Nominees:Avatar (2009): Stephen E. Rivkin, John Refoua, James Cameron

District 9 (2009): Julian Clarke

The Hurt Locker (2008): Bob Murawski, Chris Innis

Inglourious Basterds (2009): Sally Menke

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Joe Klotz

Best Achievement in Art Direction
Nominees:Avatar (2009): Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg, Kim Sinclair

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009): David Warren, Anastasia Masaro, Caroline Smith

Nine (2009): John Myhre, Gordon Sim

Sherlock Holmes (2009): Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer

The Young Victoria (2009): Patrice Vermette, Maggie Gray

Best Achievement in Costume Design
Nominees:Bright Star (2009): Janet Patterson

Coco avant Chanel (2009): Catherine Leterrier

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009): Monique Prudhomme

Nine (2009): Colleen Atwood

The Young Victoria (2009): Sandy Powell

Best Achievement in Makeup
Nominees:Il divo (2008): Aldo Signoretti, Vittorio Sodano

Star Trek (2009): Barney Burman, Mindy Hall, Joel Harlow

The Young Victoria (2009): John Henry Gordon, Jenny Shircore

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
Nominees:Avatar (2009): James Horner

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009): Alexandre Desplat

The Hurt Locker (2008): Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders

Sherlock Holmes (2009): Hans Zimmer

Up (2009): Michael Giacchino

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
Nominees:Crazy Heart (2009): T-Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham("The Weary Kind")

Faubourg 36 (2008): Reinhardt Wagner, Frank Thomas("Loin de Paname")

Nine (2009): Maury Yeston("Take It All")

The Princess and the Frog (2009): Randy Newman("Down in New Orleans")

The Princess and the Frog (2009): Randy Newman("Almost There")

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Nominees:Avatar (2009): Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson, Tony Johnson

The Hurt Locker (2008): Paul N.J. Ottosson, Ray Beckett

Inglourious Basterds (2009): Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti, Mark Ulano

Star Trek (2009): Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson, Peter J. Devlin

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009): Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Geoffrey Patterson

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Nominees:Avatar (2009): Christopher Boyes, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle

The Hurt Locker (2008): Paul N.J. Ottosson

Inglourious Basterds (2009): Wylie Stateman

Star Trek (2009): Mark P. Stoeckinger, Alan Rankin

Up (2009): Michael Silvers, Tom Myers

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Nominees:Avatar (2009): Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham, Andy Jones

District 9 (2009): Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros, Matt Aitken

Star Trek (2009): Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh, Burt Dalton

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Nominees:Coraline (2009): Henry Selick

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009): Wes Anderson

The Princess and the Frog (2009): John Musker, Ron Clements

The Secret of Kells (2009): Tomm Moore

Up (2009): Pete Docter

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Nominees:Ajami (2009)(Israel)

Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (2009)(Germany)

El secreto de sus ojos (2009)(Argentina)

Un prophète (2009)(France)

La teta asustada (2009)(Peru)

Best Documentary, Features
Nominees:Burma VJ: Reporter i et lukket land (2008): Anders Østergaard, Lise Lense-Møller

The Cove (2009): Nominees to be determined

Food, Inc. (2008): Robert Kenner, Elise Pearlstein

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009): Judith Ehrlich, Rick Goldsmith

Which Way Home (2009): Rebecca Cammisa

Best Documentary, Short Subjects
Nominees:China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province (2009) (TV): Jon Alpert, Matthew O'Neill

The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner (2009): Daniel Junge, Henry Ansbacher

The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant (2009) (TV): Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert

Królik po berlinsku (2009): Bartosz Konopka, Anna Wydra

Music by Prudence (2010): Roger Ross Williams, Elinor Burkett

Best Short Film, Animated
Nominees:French Roast (2008): Fabrice Joubert

Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty (2008): Nicky Phelan, Darragh O'Connell

La dama y la muerte (2009): Javier Recio Gracia

Logorama (2009): Nicolas Schmerkin

Wallace and Gromit in 'A Matter of Loaf and Death' (2008) (TV): Nick Park

Best Short Film, Live Action
Nominees:The Door (2008): Juanita Wilson, James Flynn

Istället för abrakadabra (2008): Patrik Eklund, Mathias Fjällström

Kavi (2009): Gregg Helvey

Miracle Fish (2009): Luke Doolan, Drew Bailey

The New Tenants (2009): Joachim Back, Tivi Magnusson

My Oscar predictions/wish list

I usually do this much earlier, but I've been slacking. This year proves to be a bit harder than last. There's A LOT of worthy people, and SO many are being overlooked! I'm going to post my predictions of who I think will get nominated, and those that should.

Best Picture
3)An Education
4)The Hurt Locker
5)Inglorious Basterds
6)(500) Days of Summer
7)District 9
8)Up in the Air
9)Star Trek

I'm not the biggest fan if the 10 nominations. I feel it came off as "too little too late" (Yes, I'm one of those people that was pissed that The Dark Knight didn't get nominated last year) If we're going by box office draws, 'The Hangover' could very well oust 'Star Trek'. '(500) Days of Summer' isn't a sure thing, but I think it deserves to be. 'Up' or 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' could end up the in the race as the first animated film since 'Beauty and the Beast' to do so. 'The Lovely Bones' could get in there too, it wasn't as bad as everyone was saying it was. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince could get in there too, it was a good movie (just a horribly adapted stay classy Steve Kloves, you freaking joke!)

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

I'd say this is a pretty set category. Although I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if Joseph Gordon-Levitt for (500) Days of Summer replaced Jeremy Renner. That's my biggest hope for this category, but sadly I don't think it will budge. Some other pleasant surprises would be Sam Rockwell for 'Moon' or Sharlto Copley for 'District 9'.

Best Actress
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Saoirse isn't a sure thing, but she should be. Sandra Bullock is supposed to be a front runner, but I refuse to believe it. Not that I'm totally against her, I just didn't think 'The Blind Side' was that spectacular of a movie. Cary, Gabby and Meryl are pretty much locked, and they deserve to be. Emily Blunt could get in there for 'Young Victoria'.A long shot would be beautiful Audrey Tautou for 'Coco before Chanel' or Abbie Cornish for 'Bright Star'.

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Another category that's pretty locked. I can't think of anyone else they could possible put in there. I haven't gotten a change to see 'The Last Station' yet, but I trust Christopher Plummer is awesome. Ben Foster was good in 'The Messenger' as well, but I doubt the academy would replace him for Woody.

Best Supporting Actress
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo’Nique, Precious
Melanie Laurent, Inglorious Basterds
Diane Kruger, Inglorious Basterds

Could be possibly get 2 noms for 2 movies? Unlikely, but wouldn't it be wonderful? Julianne Moore is getting alot of buzz for 'A Single Man' so she could be in there too. I don't think any of the woman from 'Nine' will make the cut. At first I wondered if Anna Kendrick would make the cut, but I think she will. She was my favorite part of 'Up in the Air'.

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

Again, slightly predictable. Tarintino and Reitman so deserve it, and Lee Daniels does as well. Kathryn Bigelow is a sure thing, but I would love if Neill Blomkamp (District 9) would replace James Cameron.

Best Original Screenplay
Quentin Tarintino, Inglorious Basterds
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
Scott Neustatder & Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar

(500) Days of Summer is my pick to win. Tarintino deserves to be in there for Inglorious Basterds, and the Oscars love them some Coens. The Hurt Locker I'm throwing in there just because it's winning so many critic's awards. Avatar is on track to score the most nods of any other film, so it gets in there too.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Nick Hornby, An Education
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
Nora Ephron, Julie and Julia

I'm predicting 'District 9' to take this one. Everyone is loving 'Precious', 'An Education' and 'Up in the Air'. I think Julie and Julia's script looks to be the dark horse..although if 'Star Trek' magically got in there, I wouldn't complain. Same with 'Watchmen'.

Best Aminated Feature
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Honestly, Up might as well be the only one in this category because they are the biggest lock to win of ALL the Oscars this year. If I had it my way, 'Coraline' would win. I loved that flick. 'Princess and the Frog' could get in there, maybe 'Ice Age 3'. I wouldn't be surprised if only Up, Coraline and Mr. Fox made it in.

That's it for the major categories. I hate trying to predict 'Best Original Song' because I'm ALWAYS wrong (sad face). And I never get a chance to see any of the 'Best Foreign Langauge' films until after the Oscars. Sound, Special Effects, etc will go to the obvious: Avatar, Star Trek, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Lovely Bones, Watchmen, maybe even GI Joe: Rise of Cobra.