29 March 2010

First Impressions: Hot Tub Time Machine

 Let me start this entry firstly with a story of how I first saw this film: I went to a local theater with the full intention of watching Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) by myself. I was alone because no one I knew thought watching Hot Tub Time Machine on a Sunday afternoon was a good idea. So I'm pretty ashamed yet simultaneously proud to go see this affront to God by myself.

Well, I screwed up and went to the wrong theater, they weren't playing HTTM. So fuck, I spent the remainder of the afternoon searching the city for a theater that was actually showing the film with no knowledge of locations or showtimes. Two hours after I set out on my journey I finally sat down in this ransacked little cineplex that was playing my new lifetime favourite film, alone, eager and willing for the thrill of a lifetime.

Hot Tub Time Machine delivers.

(PROBABLE SPOILERS abound, but who cares-) This is a good movie. It requires its audience to buy into its absurdity but once we do it is a very rewarding experience. As some of the trailers indicate, it is very quick to acknowledge its own stupidity and then move on. This is very apparent in Jacob's (Clark Duke) readily accepted "scientific explanation" (he saw something similar on Stargate) The film doesn't allow itself to be slowed down by any attempt at common sense or rationality in establishing its premise, which is necessary for this kind of movie. It's important to note that HTTM never ever tries to be anything more than the title implies it should be.

That said, it's also notable that where the film could have been a trite 100-minute 80s joke, it's really not. Stay with me here - past the initial culture shock, there's less 80s jokes than there are simply getting-older jokes and more than that is actually a good deal of character-based comedy. It doesn't quite pull off the seemless 80s transition like a film like Adventureland (2009) which uses the decade as a setting to advance the story over a long irritating joke, but if regular Family Guy writing is any indication, HTTM could have been much worse if not for the authenticity the actors bring to their characters. The real shining star here his Rob Corddry, stealing the insane nasty title from The Hangover's (2009) Zach Galifianakis. He's nuts, more unlikeable than Joe Pesci and constantly hilarious. He throws his irredeemability into every scene with gusto.

What's funny is how the film initially attempts to treat the past with dignity, the characters attempt to relive their past in identical fashion in order to preserve the future. Clearly though, these pieces of shit couldn't keep that up. Corddry completely sells out, making millions doing exactly what doomed the future and went against all of Doc Brown's whole philosophy in Back to the Future II (1989). It's awesome when you realise older films like that had inundated your personal morality to the simple possibility that most cats that travel back in time (certainly cats like Corddry) would proceed to make themselves a better future.

And really it's not all about riches and wish fulfillment. Especially for Nick (Craig Robinson) and Adam (John Cusack) it's about finding something worthwhile with their futures. They're both dudes (as well as Corddry) who once had bright futures but each sold out in some way. Robinson is completely emasculated and depressed, violently loyal to a woman he knows cheated on him. Cusack likewise never really got his Great White Buffalo, basically he's continued on from High Fidelity (2000) to never find that true girl to make him happy. Thus while they initially attempt to go about their past lives with the same way in order to preserve their history as soon as they realise both the futility of achieving this goal as well as the actual reality that the eponymous HTTM is really a second chance at living a contented life the story really takes off. It's funny how the Kodiak Valley ski lodge, where most of the film takes place, represents the "greatest times of their youth," but in actuality the time they spent there was miserable. Nostalgia and that feeling for the hope of greatness rather than actual greatness had taken over their subconscious. The finale of the film allows the characters through their friendship to reclaim some of the glory they could have had if they had been able to preserve their integrity. Powerful stuff, I'm sure.

It's also very fuckin' funny. From creative use of hand soaps to failed motivational speeches, anachronistic Black Eyed Peas songs to the revelation of Jacob's real father ("We gotta let him finish!"), there are some gut-busting moments, all of which were personally enjoyed by myself much more thoroughly in an empty theater in Rochester's swankiest Crack district.

I'll complain about one element - the inclusion of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl for Cusack - although her mania is pretty downplayed, but the role she serves is certainly identical. She's really not that spritely and Cusack isn't really as uptight as Zach Braff or anything so it's really not as irritating as it could have been. All in all, HTTM rolls with the punches unlike any film I've ever seen. It's thoroughly content with itself (not unlike its characters - eh? eh? working that metanarrative baby) - and through its numbers have been far from Hangover-level, that's about the closest film I could compare it to. It may not be as funny, but there's definitely more blow job scenes, more ass and big titties and less man-dick. So that's got to be a plus for most hetero-dudes out there. For the gay dudes, don't fret, there were no women involved in the BJ, this should still be quite the pleasing affair.

Well, tally ho my friends, definitely one of the funnest Sunday's I've had by myself since that SEARS catalog was accidentally slipped in my mailbox. Boy oh boy. Go see this movie, it's just a lot of fun.

21 March 2010

Profiles: The Machismo and Queermismo of Gerard Butler

Yeah, it's a word. Anyway, today, with this weekend's release of The Bounty Hunter (2010) I'm taking a look at the recent career of one of our greatest Chameleons, Gerard Butler. Just look at that mug:

Right. Anywho, from what once was probably the most potential action career of any actor in the last decade, Mr. Butler seems moreover now regulated to the banal romantic comedy. To the ire of nerds and ab-lovers everywhere, Mr. Butler is now often with a shirt on, wooing some Hollywood Starlet who long ago convinced viewers she was funny but has never really proved it. Let's take a look at this dual path of extreme macho acting and wussy foo-foo acting capitalized by Mr. Butler:

Days as "That-Other-Guy-from-Reign of Fire":
One of his first roles in a bigger, kind-of action film was Dracula 2000 (2000) as the eponymous Vamp. The casting is terrible (what is it with Modern Dracula movies and their miscasting?), his acting is inconceivably bad and the entire premise is really mishandled. It's a good general rule that any film or show from the turn of the century that employed "2000" in its title is torrid. C'mon, even at the time some people were on top if this.

Anyway, after this he was known in a few other big action films, often in small wiener roles. He doesn't do much in Lara Croft Panty Raider: Cradle of Life (2003) and even less in Reign of Fire (2002), but he had a certain charisma that hinted at leading man potential. Then we have The Phantom of the Opera (2004), which for some reason I remember as the only good movie coming out this weekend, although looking back there were clearly some good alternatives, I'm not sure what the hell we were thinking. Anyway, Mr. Butler at this point had amassed a pretty good oeuvre of smaller, crappy action/horror films. He was like Christian Bale before he really broke out on to the A-List with Batman Begins (2005), just enough of an unknown to the wide public to be a popular casting for any kind of franchise role, but credited enough to pull it off.

Days Dining in Hell:
So he's in total shit until that cloudy evening in March 2007 when 300 debuted, shattering expectations for March releases, graphic novel adaptations and troubling cultural gender issues. It was the kind of instant-A List action hero maker that only comes along once every couple years. The film works mostly because of Mr. Butler's utter commitment to manliness, assholery and snarling. He also single-handedly generated some of the most irritating memes of the last quarter-century. Truly some significant achievements, at this point he had most of the male population of the United States eating out of his balls.

This is where his career starts to dovetail. Evidently showing off such abs not only got the attention of fanboys, but some ladies as well. On the action path he followed up the epicness of 300 with forgettable adventures in RocknRolla (2008), Gamer (2009) and Law Abiding Citzen (2009), three movies which have admittedly each increased Box Office Revenue, but none close to either the commercial or cultural take of 300. We can also add his voice work in Tales of the Black Freighter (2009) to his manly nerd-desire credentials, he has really worked the young insecure male demographic to the bone here. Sometime very shortly after his stint as Leonidas, though, he was already splashing around the Romantic Comedy.

Days Hunting down Ex-Wives in Classic Fashion:

I have never seen nor plan to see P.S. I Love You (2007), which should challenge Precious: Based on Whatever by Sapphire (2009) as one of the worst-titled films of all time. Apparently it's Romantic Drama, not Comedy, but to the demographic mentioned earlier that Mr. Butler has already firmly secured, it doesn't matter. It's the polar opposite of an overtly masculine film like 300.

Now, let's take a minute and dissect a few things. Firstly, the handful of films Mr. Butler has committed to the Romantic Comedy canon are merely drops in the ocean of horrendous entries from the genre recently. The list since the premier of P.S. I Love You is staggering. Briefly:
27 Dresses (2008)
Fool's Gold (2008)
Made of Honor (2008)
What Happens in Vegas (2008)
Bride Wars (2009)
He's Just Not That Into You (2009)
The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)
My Life in Ruins (2009)
The Proposal (2009) 
The Ugly Truth (2009)
Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009)
It's Complicated (2009)
Valentine's Day (2010)
When in Rome (2010)
Leap Year (2010)
The Bounty Hunter (2010)

It's important to note here that (500) Days of Summer (2009) also came out during this time period, which is by all standards a unique and very good Romantic Comedy. In fact, it's what all Rom Coms should be and how they may be treated in the next decade. Will that actually happen? Fuck no.

So back to that big list, take time to notice a few things: In 2010 we've already equaled 2008's total of cringe-worthy Rom Coms, and are on pace to double 2009's total. We've also grown into three big separate kinds of these films - you have the standard Bankable Guy / Bankable Girl / Goofy Premise that embody most of Mr. Butler's films as well as most of Matt McConaughey (I think they should have a Rom Com-off, except dressed as their Reign of Fire characters). Subtle difference is the Unbankable Guy / Unbankable Girl / Goofy Premise that has taken foot lately - these are films that look like they were made over a long weekend, usually with an '07 or '08 "It Girl" (see When in Rome and Leap Year). Finally there seems to be a growing interest in the Utter Sellout - the giant ensemble cast Rom Coms like He's Just Not That Into You and Valentine's Day that attempt to simply jam as many stars onto the poster as they can, and then actually end up performing spectacularly. As of right now I do not understand how any of this possible, but as long as someone makes money, it'll continue.

So it seems natural that Mr. Butler with his natural jawline, scruffy ne'er-do-well beard and general cocky-but-lovable attitude would be a great choice to headline this kind of film and make someone (him) lots of money. Since 300, Mr. Butler's Rom Coms have grossed a total of $163.5 million while his actioners have garnered $99.5 mill. The spending power of cliché-loving women in the late 2000s has actually surpassed that of the cliché-loving man. Looking at the atrocious film choices of Mr. Butler elucidates more about shifting demographic trends than almost any other indicator.

What IS notable, however are his characters in his latest two Rom Coms. In The Ugly Truth (whose funniest part is its poster), Mr. Butler plays an extremely chauvinistic, even stereotypically masculine individual who ends up causing his greatest detractor to fall in love with him (I love how Katherine Heigl made this film after criticising the Apatow Crew. She has this awful tendency to appear cool starring in radical films, then backtracking her association. Don't worry, though, it appears Apatow & Co are also well-aware of this phenomenon). Likewise Mr. Butler in his latest Affront to God, The Bounty Hunter, is also a very manly role opposite the frettering female lead. Actually, the film seems interesting in its portrayal of the criminal ex-wife and struggling but honourable ex-husband (See also the current Parallel-Universe relationship of Kate and Sawyer on LOST). I haven't seem the damn thing, but its treatment of gender roles could be interesting even if the plot and characters are typically trite. It's the kind of film significance that tends to be lost on some film and culture critics.

So What?
A few more notes on Mr. Butler before I leave you to your Basketball Tournament (Northern Iowa...what the hell). I don't know what it is about Scottish Actors that leaves them incapable of dropping their accents for any film. I also can't believe how many links I applied to this post.

In general, though, I think Mr. Butler's career is not forfeit. His Rom Coms are really equally as terrible as his recent Action Movies, and his characters in each are hardly played differently. It's as if he always plays the same chiseled, charismatic, cocky asshole put in different situations. Watching Mr. Butler in Gamer is virtually the same as watching him in The Ugly Truth except with varying levels of explosions (Ugly Truth by far). He's a pretty awful actor who consistently makes awful movies that make a shitload of money. And in the end, that's all that really matters. Insecure geeks and fanboys may let their hearts sink a bit when seeing previews of their SPARTAAAAA!!!!1!!@! icon against Jennifer Aniston in the latest Rom Com, but essentially when truly evaluating both the critical and cultural significance of the medium, it doesn't make a difference which direction Mr. Butler's career ends up.

After all, this isn't madness. This is Sparta.

17 March 2010

The Long Halloween: St Patty's Day

Here we are again with the latest installment of our year-long coverage of the greatest Holiday Television Specials any human being in the Universe has ever had the privilege to lay their eyes on. Now, St. Patty's was sort of difficult for two main reasons: 1) There aren't that many shows that explicitly have St. Patty's Day Specials (apparently showcasing characters getting drunk and partying at 10 am isn't that friendly for network TV) and 2) The shows with clearly good specials (involving the 10 am drinking mentioned in Point 1) I have already used for Halloween and New Year's respectively.

But let's talk about The Simpsons for a second. They clearly do have the greatest St. Patty's episode ("Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment" [S8;E18]), as well as one of the best Valentine's Day specials ("I Love Lisa" [S4;E15], even their April Fools Day Clip Show episode ranks as one of the best for the holiday. The Simpsons has simply been around too long and done just about every holiday out there that I could have highlighted their episodes for the entire year.

Instead, I bring you the next best thing, from 30 Rock, "The Funcooker" (S3;E14). Yay and watch below:

Now, I am a fan of 30 Rock, but in no way do I come close to the belief that this show deserves its three Emmy wins for Best Comedy. It's a good show but really not that good. The writing and grammar is sharp sure, but the narrative is far from innovative, or even interesting at times (debate below whether or not this matters), and its characters, especially after four seasons, have started to devolve into jokes instead of reality (see also: Family Guy. Also discuss below whether or not this is a real problem). This article neatly sums up its supposed decline. Go read it and come back depressed.

Back? Ok good. That said, I don't normally have this much criticism with my favourite holiday special, but fuck, this is my third choice here (dems the rules and I follows dems). Anyway, it starts off with a pretty good take on St. Patty's, featuring a stereotypical Irishman (the only stereotype allowed on TV anymore for some reason) as well as every necessary facet of the holiday summed up neatly by Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin):
"Passing out and cursing on St. Patrick's Day. Is nothing sacred anymore?"
Yeah that's about right. No explicit drinking featured but what can you do. 30 Rock is really only notable for loading one-liners with a ton of meaning and inference, there's a lot of competing levels of sincerity vs. sarcasm going on here, simultaneously tongue-and-cheek and genuine both out of Donaghy's character situation as well as aiding 30 Rock's continuous winking metanarrative. The show's other high point is its ability to get about one enormous laugh per episode, partly which is founded by garnering many small laughs, wry smilies or bomb-non sequiturs for the first twenty minutes of the program. "The Funcooker" features an eponymous laugh from the ass of Tracy Jordan (Morgan), which provides a counterbalance to the so-so humour of the rest of the episode. This formula is apparent in many other episodes, leading to some of the biggest laughs of the year (see also, "Apollo, Apollo" [S3;E16] and "Klaus and Greta" [S4;E9]). I still can't get over that ending James Franco scene actually. Actually, that scene alone redeems most of 30 Rock for its humour. Haha.

08 March 2010

Oscar Zone V: I was wrong.

Well, I hope all of you out there are nursing some comforting Oscar Hangovers, but it's time to wrap up Norwegian Morning Wood's really sketchy Academy Awards Coverage. Over the past few days I've looked deeper into some topics, mostly complaining about AVABAR (2009), which ended up losing any important award, so naturally I'm overjoyed.

What follows is a revision of my original predictions. To refresh your memory, RED were nominees that I thought WOULD WIN. In BLUE were the noms that SHOULD HAVE WON. PURPLE means I thought the deserving nominee would win. All these remain on my list but in addition GREEN represents the actual winner. Got it? Nope? Good. I ended up pretty split, 12/24, but I'll note I called every acting, directing and Best Picture, screenplay really rocked my world. I consider that category a total oddball award now, the past three winners include Juno (2007), Milk (2008) and Precious: Blah Blah by Sapphire (2009). Without adieu, here we go:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

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 Animated Feature Film of the Year

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

Again, no brainer.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

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")

Nice, I'm 3/3 at this point.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

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

This was my first indication that The Hurt Locker would have a big night. It wasn't going to be a one-and-go kind of Best Picture, it would sweep or nothing, like Slumdog (2008) before it. Cheating Big Q out of what I thought would be an easy award for him was the first step.

Best Short Film, Animated

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

The little clip of Logorama shown right before it won pretty much convinced me this was justified. Haha, definitely the first time I had seen any of these films. I mean, c'mon, where am I going to go see fucking French Roast on a Saturday night?

Best Documentary, Short Subjects

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

Cool. I guessed in the dark and failed. Let's move on.

Best Short Film, Live Action

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

Same with Animated Short, the three seconds of The New Tenants was definitely the coolest and I even recognized some actors in it. Should have called this one right with some research. But fuck that, we don't believe in research here at Norwegian Morning Wood.

Best Achievement in Makeup

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

I was pumped to see this. Big blockbusters are usually nominated for things like this and lose. It shows that Trek really was a slight level beyond the normal idiotic summer fling. Even if it was just Makeup. I will note at this point that Stiller was the single best moment of the past ten years of Oscar.

Take a break and look at this thing:


Boo yah! Ok, let's move on.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

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

Probably the most surprising award of the night, this should have been D-9 or Up in the Sky's award outlet but instead Precious snatched it up. It's pretty notable that such a small, crum-riddled film walked away with some significant awards. Then again, when the film has its source material explicitly shown in the awful, sentence long title, I guess comparisons with the source is too inevitable. Or something. I don't know. Hooray for blacks here, they couldn't nab the Director Award.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

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)

No shit, this was easy.

Best Achievement in Art Direction

AVABAR (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

Yep, let's keep rolling.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

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

I was kind of disappointed here, apparently this was that chick's third costume Oscar, apparently she rules. I didn't think The Young Victoria was notable at all beyond any other typical 19th-Century-Whatever, but then again, those kind of flicks always win Costume Design. I probably could have seen this coming, actually.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

AVABAR (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

More on Hurt Lock's roll to the top. The sound timing is sweet I guess, I've never really had the ears to tell what makes one film over another in this one.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

AVABAR (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

Michael Bay will have to bide his time until Transformers 3: Shitfuck Express (2011) to get that Oscar, along with the 16 others he's due.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

AVABAR (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

This was probably the only important award that AVABAR won and congradu-fucking-lations, apparently Cinematography is now the Academy's dumping ground for really really good blockbuster-type films that don't really deserve a significant amount of other awards and naturally the 'BAR abides.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

AVABAR (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

This took me for surprise, listening to the montage I found myself really only able to remember Surecock's Score as it was playing, which should be a sign that it was really the only memorable nominee, but whatever. It's a good credit to Animated films both that Fantastic Mr. Fux and Up were nominated and Up won.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

AVABAR (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

Yeah no shit.

Best Documentary, Features

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

Haha! I don't know how I called this.

Best Achievement in Editing

AVABAR (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

The Hurt Locker tended to win every category I thought AVABAR would take but another film deserved. I'm going to take some credit and say I was almost half right, in that AVABAR deserved less than half the awards it was nominated for, but I just missed the film that should have righteously won. Apparently, it was Hurt Lock every time.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

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 Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

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)

None of the acting categories were even close, but this one in particular I think could have gone to about anyone. Glad it went to Jeff, though.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

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)

She's still not as good as she was in The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down (1994).

Best Achievement in Directing

Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2008)
James Cameron for AVABAR (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)

Big event, big award for chick of the year, Kate. Check my thoughts here for Hurk Lock's righteous win.

Best Motion Picture of the Year:

AVABAR (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

YEAH!! S my C and J on my B's, AVABAR!

Profiles: The Different Faces of Jason Segel

I've been watching a lot of How I Met Your Mother recently, which is bizarre. It's by far CBS' best show, although the laugh track is still annoying as shit (I still contend it would be weird to watch Seinfeld without a laugh track, only because by now I've memorized the joke patterns and when people start laughing. Maybe in twenty years How I Met Your Mother will be the same way. No, this won't happen). I know I already talked about it a little bit here, but before I get into Jason Segel, let's talk about it some more - it really bothered me at first the fact that the show had no continuity at all. Hardly anything was ever consistent from one episode to the next. I realised since then however, that the framing device allows this to work. The show is presented as an older man telling his children the eponymous story. Thus, it isn't important that the story be told in order, moreover the episodes are actually quite literally episodic, with little need to connect them to each other. It's actually a pretty convenient narrative device.

Back on Topic:

Anyway, I'm watching this show and I'm watching Jason Segel, and maybe it's just because I was first introduced to Segel through Apatow films, but it's like he's a completely different person. I know all actors play different characters in different media, but for the most part an actor has a certain range or choice of similar roles (even if they're similarly quirky roles like Johnny Depp does). Segel in television is very different from Segel in film. Let me bring you on my journey here, to better elucidate my point I'll present his major roles in the past five years in the order I saw them:

The Rogue:

In Knocked Up (2007) and I Love You, Man (2009), Jason Segel is this crude yet fun-loving character. He is extremely socially liberal, and in doing so also seeks to socially liberate the other characters in I Love You, Man. In both films he's also pretty much a bum, leeching off society and putting forth the most minimal effort possible to skeeze by, both with women, friends and employment. He's also very naturally funny, no stranger to nudity, pranks or clowning around. He's the consummate wingman and confident sidekick. He's the Chuckie Sullivan of the Apatow crew.

His Opus:

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) provided Segel's transition from Construction worker sidekick to genius janitor. It's notable as Segel's most prominent writing effort (so far) as well as his struttery as a leading man. It's also a very good film, absolutely hilarious. Anyway, his character here presents a bit of a transition from the loafer in Knocked Up to the domesticated dude in How I Met Your Mother. His character, Peter Bretter is an ideal boyfriend who is also generally stuck up (oh yeah). Through his character arc, Segel transitions from a tame relationship-focused individual to a fun party guy. He's got a good amount of goof in him, but in general he's much more timid and responsible than "Rogue" characters. It's important to note here that this is a character Segel wrote for himself and probably the most akin to the genuine image of himself he wishes to project onto the culture.

The Resident:

In How I Met Your Mother, Segel's character Marshall is married to Lily (Alyson Hannigan). When I first started watching the show it was jarring to see the promiscuous, sex-obsessed and smut-riddled dude from Knocked Up residing as the settled-down male, solidly committed to a single woman. He lacks all of the crass from Apatow joints and instead relies on the kind of ho-hum humour that typifies a lot of CBS shows. While How I Met Your Mother rises above some other shows on the network in terms of his hilarity, it's definitely like watching Segel with a muzzle on. He's limited. Whereas Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a full display of his formidable writing and acting skills, How I Met Your Mother just feels like a day job. It's not like he puts any less effort into the character, but it's so distinct from his movie persona it's almost like not watching Segel at all.

There's always a lot of joy in his performances. Peter, Jason and Marshall are all embodied by an immense amount of hope and big smiles, filtered through different lenses. There's continuous hilarity, but when he's with Apatow it always feels like he's very natural, acting out his innate crudity. You can tell he's limiting himself on How I Met Your Mother, acting almost like someone with much more talent than the rest of the cast hanging out with them for some reason. Again, not to say that any of this is necessarily poor entertainment, but it's interesting to watch. Considering his upcoming Muppets project, it will be interesting to see how Segel's talents are focused towards a thoroughly family-friendly atmosphere as well as a method of entertainment he obviously truly relishes.

How I Met Your Mother comes on tonight at 8:00 pm EST / 4:37 am CST.

07 March 2010

Oscar Zone IV: A Closer Look at the Best Screenplay Nominees

Well, tonight's the big night everybody, in almost ten minutes now we'll see who comes home with the that little golden balden phallic man. For our final entry examining all the categories anybody cares about, we're checking out both the Original and Adapted Screenplay awards. Read on, then see if all of these are really just bullshit.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

The Messenger (2009/I): Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman
This is supposedly a fantastic movie, or at least Woody's pretty decent. I've never heard of it, going by those standards it doesn't have enough buzz to win. I love this self-indulgent theory.
Chances of Winning: 1/5

Up (2009): Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Thomas McCarthy
I love how animated pieces manage to cram so much more story into a limited running time than most live-action films. The opening sequence's significant arc could justify a win, but in general, Animated Films don't win awards like this. If Wall-E (2008) couldn't do it, I have some heavy doubts for Up's chances, but an honour here would be refreshing.
Chances: 2/5

The Hurt Locker (2008): Mark Boal
While The Hurt Locker's screenplay is very good, I think the acting and directing is better. While the research is significant, it loses points on its supposed innaccuracies depicting soldier life and combat. If this film becomes a sweeper like Slumdog Millionaire (2008) though, its a given they nail this one too. Well, probably not.
Chances: 3/5

A Serious Man (2009): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Who the hell knows what this movie was really about, but it's well-written and concisely told despite its obliqueness. It's unique in its wide-ranging array of problems, diagressions, and other complications afflicting the main character that are nonetheless tied together and maintained through good scene and beat structure. The Coens are no stranger to writing wins (2), but I think the insane ending holds this back. Or throws it forward, who knows.
Chances: 4/5

Inglourious Basterds (2009): Quentin Tarantino
The film works on just a handful of powerful scenes, plots thrust forward by long dialogue then sudden action, with immediately recognizable and identifiable characters, good and evil. It's the best choice for Screenplay, and its also a way to placate the Big Q without giving him as much credit as a Best Picture. It's essentially minimalist, giving much credit to the viewer to follow along, ignoring unimportant scenes and streamlining what could have been a very sloppy narrative. It should and will win. Basically, one of the only categories I'm going to be satisfied with.
Chances: 5/5

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

In the Loop (2009): Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
See, The Messenger.
Chances: 1/5

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Geoffrey Fletcher
Geoff doesn't even know how to write a good title, this thing can't win. It's a pretty tight and powerful film, but not exactly exceptional enough to win. There's an outside chance he gets it based on the film's sheer amount of nominations and little chances in some of the most major categories. It would be an interesting yet doubtful triumph.
Chances: 2/5

An Education (2009): Nick Hornby
What a delightful film, I guess. The subject material is that kind of smaller scoped, intimate story that tends to capture the Academy's attention, so there's always a chance. Screenplay seems to be a lesser award (if you haven't gotten my theories on Awards by now), one that either contributes to a ridiculous awards sweep (like The Return of the King [2003]) or one that highlights an otherwise marginally winning film (see, Milk [2008]). This kind of win, based on the fact that AVABAR's writing fucking sucked could contribute really to any of the nominees in this category.
Chances: 3/5

District 9 (2009): Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
I've heard a lot of good hype on this one's winning actually. It's just enough of that mixture of quality Sci-Fi, non-overwhelming Political and Social message, small obscured story and production and great box office success. It's already put Blomkamp on everyone's radar, this win more than any other (no way it gets Visual Effects, sorry. It should have any other year in the history of mankind, but there's no way.against AVABAR) would secure that.
Chances: 4/5

Up in the Air (2009/I): Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner
Reitman's already directed one Best Screenplay winner (Juno [2007]), and there's no reason he can't go 2-for-2. While its early great hype may be on the downslide, the intricacies of the plot and nuanced, flexed characters should elevate this screenplay above some of the others. Its easy relatibility and contemporarity may also help its chances while at the same time limiting its timelessness. It's possible it wins and then is forgotten, which wouldn't be the first time.
Chances: 5/5

Final Thoughts:

This will be a good ceremony. Oscar is shaking it up, dual hosts, 10 Best Picture noms and lots of crazy shit happening all the time. There's a few things I'm liking however. The first is the amount of mainstream films nominated for major awards, including things like Ass-Blood Prince (2009) getting a nom for cinematography and AVABAR for everything. This also gives credit to a lot of smaller films like Basterds, D-9 and The Locker having great summers (at least with word of mouth). To go with this trend, it's also cool that some summer films could maintain some momentum into the fall and winter. It's possible that timing has become less important (the last August release to win Best Picture was Saving Ryan's Privates [1998]). These two trends tend to buck some other recent Oscar trends that have built upon tiny-ass mid-fall releases and heavy studio pandering. Pumped to see more legit mainstream films do both commercial, critical and hopefully award success. I am disappointed by the lack of Moon (2009), which did really well at the BAFTAs (Well, it got one significant award), but not as disappointed as the lack of Gran Torino (2008) last year.

Well, here we go! Yee haw!

06 March 2010

Oscar Zone III: A Closer Look at the Best Director Nominees

On now to Part III of our scrappy, haphazard Oscar coverage, the Directors. Considering how often non-white men are nominated for this category, this should be a big year, especially when also considering the possible favourites. Let's dive in:

Lee Daniels for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
The amount of awards this terribly titled film is up for should be sinking in by now. Lee, the second black dude ever nominated by the Academy is a pretty far long shot to win, but there is a possibility that if Precious is closed out of everything else he sneaks in. Although it won't be closed out of Supporting Actress for sure. So, chances are unlikely.
Chances of Winning: 1/5

Jason Reitman for Up in the Air (2009/I)
Reitman's got some history with his Juno (2007) nomination, and clearly has enough talent to be among Jim and Q here (if not more). He's not really established enough with the Academy to make a true splash, and his competition is a bit too daunting this year to make a good run. This will really be a battle between the next three powerhouses.
Chances: 2/5

Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Q hasn't been acknowledged by the Academy for some time now, by Basterds is in every way his best film since Pulp Fiction (1994) and he's enough of an icon by now to win the close calls instead of losing them. I think it's going to be easier to give the film Supporting Actor for Chris Waltz and maybe screenplay instead of Director here. All three of these projects have been very long gestating ideas with an incredible amount of work poured into them. Of the three however, the next two should prove more significant. Read on:
Chances: 3/5

Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2008)
It's incredible to me that a woman directed this movie. Not to say that women can't direct or anything, it's just that in particualr this is such a guy's movie. It's about three testosterone-loaded soldiers fighting and bonding in Iraq. And it's done really well! If that's not enough for Kathryn to win, the fact that she pulled off this excellent film in some of the harshest filming conditions in modern memory should give tremendous credit to her cause. At the end of the day, though, I don't believe she can beat Jim, which will be the greatest robbed director in the history of the world (Maybe not. What is it with the Academy loving Native American stories? Is it all Brando or what?).
Chances: 4/5

James Cameron for AVABAR (2009)
He'll win, we'll all cry, end of story. AVABAR is pretty significant as essentially becoming the highest-ever grossing film in all the universe really solely on impressive visuals, continuous word of mouth, and the director. Jim sold this film. For this reason alone his achievement will be recognized by the Academy, along with his arduous task of creating such a blockbuster from scratch, creating new technology to fit his personal vision like no other director before him. That's right. His name fueled one of the greatest movie successes ever in an age where prior franchise knowledge is moreoften taken for granted. It really actually IS impressive, but c'mon. The film was fucking garbage.
Chances: 5/5

05 March 2010

Oscar Zone II: A Closer Look at the Best Actor and Actress Nominees

Today in Part II of Norwegian Morning Wood's spotty Oscar coverage, we're looking at the top two acting awards, Best Actor and Actress. At first glance both appear locked up, but there's always surprises in store come Sunday. Maybe. Anyway, let's get into it:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Colin Firth for A Single Man (2009)
 Basically playing a character from Mad Men set in a British University. Nothing too special, then again for some reason everyone loves Mad Men, so who knows what will happen. I know, that's who.
Chances of Winning: 1/5

Morgan Freeman for Invictus (2009)
Historical figures are pretty well-received by the Academy, and well-played ones are even more well-received. This isn't Morg's year, though, maybe if this film had come out in 2004 (when Eastwood was THE directorial dick to suck) or 2005 (when Phil won for Capotes) he'd have a chance. Not this year, though, especially because he already has a statue. More on that later.
Chances: 2/5

George Clooney for Up in the Air (2009/I)
Clooney's gotten the most nominations and awards for this role that he's had since Mike Clayton (2007), and since he was ignored then, he may get a redemption here with a much more positive character. He did get an award for Syriana (2005) recently (apparently he only makes good films in odd-numbered years) which may hurt or help his chances. Based on my Morgan logic, he's boned. Up in the Air is his best performance in a while though, arguably better than Clayton, so I'm giving him more cred than the grizzled black guy.
Chances: 3/5

Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker (2008)
As you can tell by now, the Academy Awards really aren't about performances at all. It's about poltics, when films come out and how they're distributed, interesting stories about actors or situations during filming, and finally, most importantly, lobbying by studios and producers showing the film to the right people. All that said, Jeremy Renner should win this based on performance. His is the most interesting character on this list and he does a better job than anyone else at showcasing a gruff, hard-to-like exterior at the forefront, then being beaten and melting down later. It's awesome. THAT said, because he's the best performer and the Academy IS all politics, he won't win.
Chances: 4/5

Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart (2009)
Here's what I was getting at earlier. This will be like John Wayne's win for True Grit (1969). Not really his best performance, but it's more of a reward for a lifetime of underrecognised yet extremely influential roles. I'm not beyond the irony that next year the Coen Bros are remaking True Grit with Jeff in John's role, don't worry, Jeff will get his statue here, despite not being the best among the nominees. That Clooney and Morg already have statues will prevent the Academy from giving them another while Jeff has none. Then again, this role is very like Mick Rooney's Wrestler (2008) last year, and the statue ended up going to Over-honoured Sean Penn for Milk (2008). So who knows, my logic is probably shitty, but I've got a feeling of all the categories (except Best Animated, which by the way, since Up [2009] is also the only animated film to be nominated for Best Picture, doesn't that kind of already imply that it's already the best animated film? Retarded), this one is the greatest lock.
Chances: 5/5

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Helen Mirren for The Last Station (2009)
I've never fucking heard of this movie, nor do I know anything about it. Instead of researching and making a good judgment, I'm using that basis as proof it has no chance. You need some kind of sizable buzz to make a run at things, and I'm content saying my awareness is in that buzz radius. Fucked.
Chances: 1/5

Carey Mulligan for An Education (2009)
In this post I gave her the "should win," although that's probably wrong. She does a bang-up job but in the end is only average compared to the powerhouse top three following her.
Chances: 2/5

Gabourey Sidibe for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
This is where it starts getting tough. Despite the completely impronounceable name and awful, awful title, Gab's performance is very strong in a field that usually awards skinny white women. Thus while she'd for sure be an upset to beat Streep and Sandy, her win would be pretty monumental. Since Mo'nique's got Supporting Actress about locked up (hehe, probably more than Jeff has Actor), it might be a stretch to give the film with the worst title of the year both Female Acting awards. Then again, who knows.
Chances: 3/5

Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia (2009)
This is basically the obligatory Streep nomination that comes around just about every year. It's practically taken for granted that she's going to be the best, iconic role in any shitty movie she does. Voters may be jaded to her presence by now, but on the other hand, her history with the Academy is ridiculously strong and despite her nominations, she hasn't actually won all that many (she's batting around .125) Is Julia Childs the one to help her slugging percentage? Fuck no.
Chances: 4/5

Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side (2009)
Before I get into this, I need to admit how ridiculous this win will be. Sandy sucks, really, I haven't liked her in a film since The Bus that Couldn't Slow Down (1994). She was so sweet then! After that, clearly declining hotness, uninteresting roles (including this one) and not much else going on. Until 2009 suddenly became her biggest year ever. Completely off the radar for young, straight men, Sandy has so much momentum coming of one of her lifetime biggest years in every way, there's no way she doesn't walk home with Oscar. The Blind Side has emotionally manipulated enough people (almost as much as AVABAR) to get the votes and this contest should be over.
Chances: 5/5

04 March 2010

Oscar Zone: A Closer Look at the Best Picture Nominees

It's Oscar Week in full swing by now, so for the next couple of days we're taking a closer look at all the nominees from the most major categories. The categories that people really care about (Oh snap, Dark Knight got Best Sound Editing, saints be praised) here, I speak of Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Directing and Best Screenplay (Adapted, then Original). Since Best Picture is currently the most swollen and bloated entry, we'll start there. Let's take a look at the noms and their relative chances:

The Blind Side (2009): Nominees to be determined

This is generally the most feel-good nominee, a story of hope and overcoming odds with high school football standout Michael Orr who was then drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2009. My impression of this film is that it propagates a notion that poor young black men can't get anywhere in society without a middle class white woman's help. But that's just me. It's a supposed tear-jerker story, but I could jerk off to more tears than this. It's exactly like every other inspirational sports film ever made, Remember the Titans (2000) was more deserving for Best Picture than this. Next. 
Chances of Winning: 1/10

An Education (2009): Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey

Here's that movie that no one has heard of until the nominees were announced. Apparently it's awesome, I don't know, I haven't seen it (no one has). I frankly don't even know what it's about exactly, I think it's some 1960s or 50s teacher who has some problems I guess. Anyway, Pete Sarsgaard is pretty reliably sweet. I mean, look at this selling point:

Anyway, no one has heard of this, it won't win, don't worry.
Chances: 2/10

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

Every time I hear this movie it pisses me off. I think it's because that damn title takes far too long to say and just means absolutely nothing. Why isn't it just called Precious? I'm so fucking lost. It's not like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which is also long and cumbersome, but at least reads like a sentence-long synopsis (if not an unnecessary one). It's like if There Will Be Blood (2007) was instead named There Will Be Blood: Based on the Novel Oil! by Upton Sinclair (2007). Forget about it. I mean, I kind of liked Push (2009), don't be hatin on Push. Anyway, the impression I got from this film is that it's like torture porn for fat black chicks, it's real exploitative and its genuine message is befuddled in its purposeful deplorability.
Chances: 3/10

Up (2009): Jonas Rivera

A fantastically good film, but Pixar rules the Animated Feature category, not Best Picture. No animated film has ever won (would they change that stat if AVABAR won?) and in this year, with this competition, Up is not going to be the one do buck the trend.
Chances: 4/10

District 9 (2009): Peter Jackson, Carolynne Cunningham

This was the one 2009 film I picked for this list, although The Hurt Locker (2008) probably actually deserves it more now that I'm reevaluating (man, that list was bad). I'm very impressed that District 9 has even gotten this far considering its production and subject matter (then again, Peter Jackson helped) and its success without any major stars or toylines behind it astounds me in this age (new from Mattel! Explore strange moral quandries with the Forced-Prawn Killing Play Gun! $49.95!). It's a bit too far outside Hollywood (yes, despite Peter Jackson's involvement) to take a real crack at Best Picture though.
Chances: 5/10

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

This movie, as incomprehensible as it is, is very well done, and the Coens have a recent history with the academy, which could help their chances. It's really too specific, too overladen and in general too insane to really be a serious contender though. Like the other films in the Coens' upper echelon (Fargo [1996], The Man Who Wasn't There [2001]), this will be forever remembered as a very good film, but not much of an award winner.
Chances: 6/10

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

After the big three of AVABAR, Hurt Locker, and Basterds, Up in the Air has the next most chance to pull off a win. It's done well at some other award shows and critics choices and if any of those three split votes up, Up in the Air could pull an upset. It doesn't exactly have the feel of a Best Picture winner, however, nor is its plot easily summed up in interesting ways for many people to be interested in it other than, "it's good! It's up for some awards!" This is the kind of thinking that let Slumdog Millionaire (2008) win, however, so hey, you never know.
Chances: 7/10

Inglourious Basterds (2009): Lawrence Bender

Basterds in many ways was Tarantino's return to very good film making. Like, Oscar-contending film making. While its competition may be difficult in some categories, he's bound to come away with at least screenplay or director, Chris is a lock for Supporting, and there's actually a good chance if AVABAR and The Hurt Locker split the votes that he comes away with a Best Pic statue too. It's kind of funny, though, its winning depends more on people liking Tarantino than the film's real merit.
Chances: 8/10

The Hurt Locker (2008): Nominees to be determined

The impression I get from most of the online community is that about everyone is pushing for this one. Actually, about anyone who has seen it is pushing for this one. It is the best film of 2009. That's all there is. If you doubt it at all, you haven't seen the thing. Watching it, I got that feeling I had when I saw Slumdog for the first time. It's unspeakably good. Any other year this category would have been locked up months ago.
Chances: 9/10

AVABAR (2009): James Cameron, Jon Landau

AVABAR's got everything going for it right now and is the heavy favourite. If any film beats it, it'll be a huge upset. But really, looking back, AVABAR fucking sucked. It really sucked. No part of it is really worthy of the Best Picture of the year. Sure it's a huge technical achievement, but was it worth sacrificing any kind of important or relevant, or even well-told story? Then again, all of that is probably what most of the population wants. Simplicity over integrity. It wins.
Chances: 10/10
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