Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Top 10 Films released in 2010 #5

5. I Am Love

Of all the films to be released in 2010, I would cite this one to prove that cinema IS art. Every single detail of this film evokes emotion, whether it be the incredible performances (especially Tilda Swinton), the John Adams compositions, the production design, costume design, and the great cinematography. This is quintessential arthouse cinema, and easily one of the more fantastic forays. The story chronicles wealthy italian via russia housewife Emma's infidelities with her husband as well as other familial struggles.

Another reason i enjoy this film is the emphasis on cuisine. I (being trained in the culinary arts) reveled in this aspect of the film, and when Emma has what could be the most sexual experience of the film eating shrimp and ratatouille (quite possibly even more so than the racy scene between her and the chef she leaves her husband for) I was giddy with delight. I am one of those believers that food is art, and this didn't hurt its chances at that.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Top 10 Films Released in 2010 #4

4. Summer Wars

Though I am by no means an "Otaku" I do occasionally enjoy the foray into japanese animation. This, of course, includes the wonderful works by ghibli's resident masters Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. There are a few series i also enjoy, though mostly i enjoy feature films. The film in discussion Mamoru Hosada's Summer Wars is up there with the big boys of the genre.

It follows the story of a young naive nerdy japanese boy named keichi and his four day part time job playing the role of the intrepid and wily natsuki's fiance. He comes to meet a rather large and rather offbeat family: The Jinouchi clan. The family has (and is continuing to) gathered to celebrate the 90 year old matriarch's birthday. what ensues is a family drama that is both hilarious and emotionally resonant. this is only half of the plot however, for the other half of the film . THe other half is composed of an all encompassing online social network called oz. Eventually, a sentient AI called love machine is released upon the unsuspecting network and eventually causes a string of events that could lead to severely ruining the world. It sounds more farfetched in description rather than in practice! trust me!

the animation in the 'real world' is effective and clasically styled with some nice moments of animation. visually the world of Oz shines through. It's aesthetically stunning relying on red lining instead of the typical black. The avatar's are marvelously quirky ranging from a killer rabit, a yellow sardonic squirrel, and a magical girl fox.

Honestly, there's more to this movie than what appears at first glance. Hilarious, devastating, heartwarming, action-packed and thrilling. this is not only a must see for any fan of anime, but fans of film itself.

Top 10 movies released in 2010 #3

3. Black Swan

Firstly: this film is NUTS. There were many times during both my first and second viewing of this film where the only thoughts that passed through my head was: "Is this seriously fucking happening." Much like my discussion of Inception I'll try not to give anything away, but I will say that the last 20 minutes of this film were easily the most over the top of the past year in cinema. The plot is straightforward. It follows the journey into insanity of the ballerina Nina Sayers (played wonderfully by the always great Natalie Portman) after aquisition of the role of the swan princess in tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake.

The subtle art direction and costume design really add to the film without being too 'in your face' such as with Alice in Wonderland or other films of the like. The cinematography is equally effective with some splendid handheld moments as well as beautiful close-ups. The editing was also splendidly done, and really helped in the unnerving nature of the film.

What I find so interesting (and slightly humorous about the project) is how dichotomous in nature this film is to Aronofsky's last project The Wrestler. Both films chronicle the struggles of two performers and their subsequent descents into 'oblivion'. One is heartbreaking, the other horrifying. Both: Phenominal.

The performance by Portman is the clear standout, with some people even calling it an 'acting vehicle' for her. I disagree, considering the all around gret performances by the entire cast. Portman still shines naturally, especially in the more heartfelt moments, such as the phonecall to her mother after she gets the part. Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, and Winona Rider also do very decent jobs in their parts. I will have to say I'm glad that Kunis wasn't nominated as many predicted. She added some nice brevity to the film, but she didn't add up to the 5 women nominated, nor some of the ones who weren't.

All in all this film was explosive, exciting, frightening, and fantastic. This is easily a psychological thriller that will be remembered for years to come.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Top 10 Films Released in 2010 #2

2. Inception

Honestly, I don't know what I can say about this film that hasn't already been said. I'm going to try to avoid any spoilers or even give too much away as far as the 'mystery' surrounding the film is concerned. I'll try to stick to the technical aspects and the like. However, As far as the narrative goes, the thing that truly keeps this film from being a run of the mill sci-fi adventure a la surogates or the upcoming limitless is the relationship between Cobb (di Caprio) and Mal(Marion Cotillard). It's strained and ultimately unreal, but witnessing the pain he feels when he sees her and the desperation in her eyes in two or three choice scenes really gives the film an emotional anchor which adds the depth other sci-fi thrillers are missing.

Technically speaking, this film is THE BEST of 2010. Wally Pfister's cinematography, Lee Smith's editing (flabergastingly snubbed of an oscar nomination), and the sound and production designs are nearly flawless. As well, the visual effects are top notch, endlessly exciting, and always feel real. One thing i truly enjoyed about this film is that it was not film, covered, nor did it really need to rely upon the inclusion of 3d. The stunt crew really deserve some props as well because they were Awesome. I wish I could say it more eloquently, but come on...

Although acting wise it was not the strongest of the year, the cast was still incredibly solid. The standout for me was the always near perfect Marion Cotillard who basically acted circles around the rest of the cast in her small but poignant (and devious) performance. DiCaprio is as the rottentomatoes show called it "on autopilot, it's a perfectly capable autopilot, but nothing special" or thereabouts. it's not a direct quote, but the sentiment is there. The remainder of the cast did a decent job, especially the breakthrough Tom Hardy as the suave brittish Eames.

Another standout from the film besides it's exceptional screenplay and visuals was the addition of Hans Zimmers intense pounding score which powerfully evokes the song of inspiration: Edith Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien".

This may be Chris Nolan's masterpiece, and I(like many others) am excited to see what this soon to be "Master Director" has in store.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Top 10 Films Released in 2010 #1

I'm Doing this in order from best onward
1. Never Let Me Go

Honestly, I was skeptikal when I first started watching this film. I had recently read the book and fallen in love with it's muted and dismal story telling, oddly life affirming messages, and exceptionally written characters. Although I felt that the exposition was much stronger in the novel (a natural occurence in adaptations), but the film delivered on the devastation ten-fold. There is a desperation that the actors bring to the film which the novel couldn't do with just words alone. I think the best example of this is the scene in the diner at the Norfolk cost. The characters rod and krissy are discussing the topic of defferals with the three main characters: Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy. The magnitude of the situation comes across much more in the film because of the two actors sad and eager faces which in the book only felt conversational. That being said the book is phenominal, and the film compliments it well. This is one of the rare cases where I think that the film is on par with its source material, mainly because one has what the other lacks.

Technically speaking the film is really well done. The Art Direction is fantastic. There is an austere dilapidation to all the buildings, such as Hailsham, the bording school, or the cottages where the characters venture to after their stays at said school. Where the craft portion of the film really shines is the cinematography. It really conveys a stark darkness throughout the film, even in the brightest of places. The only exception is the fields of hailsham which feel bright and safe and brimming with a strange childlike wonderment which works for that portion of the film.

The Adaptation is really well done as well. The plot (which follows the lives of 3 young children in their journey into adulthood where they learn that they are clones whose sole purpose in life is to have their organs harvested) has very few minor changes from the novel, and none of them are really jarring.

Where this film shines the most (other than Ishiguro(the novelist)'s narrative) is the performances by the three principals. Although Andrew Garfield(Tommy) does a nice job, the film truly belongs to Carey Mulligan(Kathy) and Keira Knightly(Ruth). I was pleansantly suprised to see the amount of subtlety in Mulligans performance after the powerhouse one in An Education(for which she was robbed of an oscar). Knightly, as always, gives a great performance, and hers is the most forward of the three. Honestly, I wish she would have been nominated and won the oscar for best supporting actress, she was really that good.

All in all this movie is fantastic, and has secured a place as my number four favorite film of all time.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Best Supporting Actor-My Picks

1936-Walter Brennan: Come and Get it
1937-Ralph Bellamy: The Awful Truth
1938-Lionel Barrymore-You Can't Take it With You
1939:Claude Rains-Mr. Smith goes to Washington
1940:Jack Oakie-The great dictator
1941:Donald Crisp-How Green was My Valley
1942:Van Heflin-Johnny Eager
1943:Paul Henried-Casablanca
1944:Clifton Webb-Laura
1945:Robert Mitchum-The Story of G.I. Joe
1946:Harold Russel-The Best Years of Our Lives
1947:Edmund Gwenn-Miracle on 34th Street
1948:Walter Huston-Treasure of the Sierra Madre
1949:John Ireland-All the King's Men
1950:George Sanders-All About Eve
1951:Karl Malden-A Streetcar Named Desire
1952:Donald O'Conner-Singin' in the Rain
1953:Eddie Albert-Roman Holiday
1954:Lee J. Cobb-On the Waterfront
1955:Jack Lemmon-Mister Roberts
1956:Anthony Perkins-Friendly Persuasion
1957:Red Buttons-Sayonara
1958:Burl Ives-cat on a hot tin roof
1959:Joseph Shildkraut-Diary of Anne Frank
1960:Fred McMurray-The Apartment
1961:Russ Tamblyn-West Side Story
1962:Omar Sharif-Lawrence of Arabia
1963:Melvyn Douglas-Hud
1964:Peter Ustinov-topkapi
1965:Tom Courtenay-Dr. Zhivago
1966:George Segall-Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
1967:George Kennedy-Cool Hand Luke
1968:Gene Wilder-The Producers
1969:Gig Young-They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
1970:John Mills-Ryan's Daughter
1971:Ben Johnson-Last Picture Show
1972:Joel Grey-Cabaret
1973:Randy Quaid-The Last Detail
1974:Fred Astaire-The Towering Inferno
1975:George Burns-The Sunshine Boys
1976: Robert Duvall-Network
1977:Jason Robards-Julia
1978:Christopher Walken-The Deer Hunter
1979:Mickey Rooney-The Black Stallion
1980:Timothy Hutton-Ordinary People
1981: John Gielgud-Arthur
1982: Robert Preston-Victor Victoria
1983:Jack Nicholson-Terms of Endearment
1984:Haing S. Ngor-The Killing Fields
1985:Klaus Maria Brandauer-Out of Africa
1986:Michael Caine-Hannah and Her Sisters
1987:Morgan Freeman-Street Smart
1988:Kevin Kline-A Fish Called Wanda
1989:Denzel Washington-Glory
1990:Joe Pesci-Goodfellas
1991:Harvey Keitel-Bugsy
1992:Jaye Davidson-The Crying Game
1993:Ralph Fiennes-Schindler's List
1994:Martin Landau-Ed Wood
1995:Kevin Spacey-The Usual Suspects
1996:William H. Macy-Fargo
1997:Robin Williams-Good Will Hunting
1998:Ed Harris-The Truman Show
1999:Michael Clark Duncan-The Green Mile
2000:Benicio Del Toro-Traffic
2001:Jim Broadbent-Iris/Moulin Rouge
2002:Chris Cooper-Adaptation
2003:Ken Watanabe-The Last Samaurai
2004:Clive Owen-Closer
2005:Paul Giamatti-Cinderella Man
2006:Steve Carrell-Little Miss Sunshine
2007:Javier Bardem-No Country for Old Men
2008:Heath Ledger-The Dark Knight
2009:Christoph Waltz-Inglorious Basterds
2010:Christian Bale-The Fighter