Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Come to the Stable (1949)

Two nuns from a French convent arrive in a small New England town with a plan to build a children's hospital.

Nominated for 7 Oscars:

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Loretta Young
Best Supporting Actress: Celeste Holm
Best Supporting Actress: Elsa Lanchester
Best Writing, Motion Picture Story
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White
Best Original Song
Best Art Direction, Black-and-White

This is a film I've also been searching for a long time. And found it on youtube, among many others. I wanted to see it not because I thought it was gonna be real good, but because I was very curious about it, especially about the performances.
It's a very quiet, drama but not dramatic, very 40s, catholic movie. It has a very simple storyline (the screenplay was probably written in a week) and I guess it could be boring for some, though it wasn't for me.

The 7 nominations are too much. The leading performance (for those not familiar, in the picture she's the one on the right) is good, but nothing spectacular. But Loretta Young looks soooo beautiful here and she's kind, delicate, pure, warm, so it makes it a perfect casting and a very lovable character. Elsa Lanchester is just awful (!!!) and poor Celeste Holm (the other nun) has no material to work with.

My rating for the film: 6.5/10. In an objective manner, it probably deserves less. But it didn't bother me, it was quite relaxing and there's a scene (just before the last one) that I found to be quite emotional.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Mating Season (1951)

Impossible to simply express the plot. It's a screwball comedy. There's a newly married couple with very different backgrounds. His mother is a simple woman, the bride hasn't met her yet, there's a mix-up and the wife thinks she's the maid and things just go crazy from there.

Nominated for 1 Oscar:

Best Supporting Actress: Thelma Ritter

This is a very rare film that's not available on vhs or dvd. I've looked for it for years and finally found it on... youtube. :D So I didn't care how it was going to be, I just wanted to see it. But it was FUN. Very relaxing, sweet, not very original (we've seen the story before) but the actresses made it worthy.
Oscar nominee Thelma Ritter (LOVE HER!) who's playing the mother is actually the leading actress of the film, but Gene Tierney - the bride - had the big name so she got the top billing. But as I was saying, Thelma gave a very good performance (as always). She didn't have a big Oscar moment, but she was constantly funny & witty (I know: as always) and perfectly cast as this very kind simple woman thinking only at what's best for her son.
A supporting performer that deserves credit is the queen bitch Mirian Hopkins who plays the wife's mother, a total opposite to Ritter's character. She deserved an Oscar nomination as well.
My rating for the film: 8/10. It was time well spent.
If you are a real fan of old movies, and want to give it a look, just click here and watch it on youtube. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Changeling (2008) (2nd viewing)

A mother's prayer for her kidnapped son to return home is answered, though it doesn't take long for her to suspect the boy who comes back is not hers. [imdb]

Nominated for 3 Oscars:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Angelina Jolie
Best Cinematography
Best Art Direction

I only watched this again so that I could write (and count her screentime) about Angelina's nominated performance. Which I'll do soon, on the other blog. It really is a mess of a movie that you'd never catch me see again. It's uncomfortable due to the subject, in the first part, and due to the boring genre mixture from the 2nd half.
The screenplay is destroying the film. When it's not obvious, it's pathetic or out of line. When it's not cheesy, it throws the plot all over the place. Clint Eastwood's direction is not that bad, but the fact that he always rushed the filming (not asking enough takes) is not helping him here. I blame the direction for the flaws in Angelina's performance (which I'll write more about on the other blog). Angelina is not bad. She just makes a couple of terrible acting choices.
It's a film that's too long. The best actress nomination is not worthy but it was expected. It was a bad year for art direction, so I can understand that nom. And the cinematography: quite good, but competition was better. The music is good, very jazzy, it would've deserved a nom. The (only) emotional scene for me was with the grown-up kid at the end and Angelina looking through the glass.
My rating for the film: 5.5/10. It's... a lot. But I don't hate it. Just find it a missed opportunity. Angelina's better than the project itself.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The High and the Mighty (1954)

When a commercial airliner develops engine problems on a trans-Pacific flight , it is up to the washed-up co-pilot Dan Roman to bring the plane in safely. A so-called disaster movie.

Nominated for 6 Oscars:

Best Director: William A. Wellman
Best Supporting Actress: Jan Sterling
Best Supporting Actress: Claire Trevor
Best Music, Original Score (WINNER)
Best Music, Original Song
Best Editing

I watched this because I was curious about the supporting actresses. Jan Sterling's is worthy, as she plays this blond ex-beauty. Claire Trevor's nomination makes no sense.
It's a dumb, bad film wrongly promoted as a big disaster movie. The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, those are the real thing. This one is shit. Bad acting all the way, with the exception previously mentioned, a horrible screenplay and a direction that's most certainly NOT worthy of an Oscar nom (the fact that Wellman was up against Billy Wilder for Sabrina, Hitchcock's Rear Window and Elia Kazan for On the Waterfront makes his nomination just... terribly absurd). The Oscar-winning music is overused and too dramatic and loud. Stay away from this movie!
My rating for the film: 3/10. I am being generous mostly because of Jan Sterling's two major scenes.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005) (2nd viewing)

Laura Henderson buys an old London theater and opens it up as the Windmill, a performance hall which goes down in history for, among other things, its all-nude revues.
Nominated for 2 Oscars:
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Judi Dench
Best Costume Design
This was a film I remembered as being fun, with a great 1930s soundtrack. Unfortunately, upon a 2nd viewing I found it to be a bit too light in the first part: and by this I mean less funny and with a too rushed script. However, it got better and by the end of it I found myself rather satisfied, again.
I could probably see anything with Judi Dench in it. I love her and can't be really subjective about her. Her nomination is debatable, but as it was a weak category that year, it wasn't a surprise. Mrs Henderson Presents is more of a dramedy than a comedy or musical. The 2nd half is much more drama and you know what?, it works; I even appreciated some screenplay touches.
My rating for the film: 7.5/10. See it if you haven't already or have forgotten it. It's relaxing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Incredibles (2004)

A family of undercover superheroes, while trying to live the quiet suburban life, are forced into action to save the world. [imdb]

Nominated for 4 Oscars:

Best Animated Feature (WINNER)
Best Original Screenplay
Best Sound Mixing
Best Sound Editing (WINNER)

I kind of suspected why I've avoided this film for years. Something told me that it's just not my type of animated. And I was probably right; especially seing it right after Monsters, inc.
The Incredibles is more serious that people give it credit. In certain parts it's like a family soap transformed into animation.

I don't know which kid would really like The Incredibles. The target must be 14+, cause otherwise it's very contradictory (reading the plot or watching a trailer would probably suggest something very kid friendly, but what about those sexual references). Anyway, I should stop being such a conservative bitch :)

For me, the 2nd half really saved it: why? because the drama was over and we could finally see some real ACTION. something fun, dynamic and less talk talk talk. The screenplay nomination is not worthy (but I understand it because it was a weak year). The win for Animated Feature does not please me (now I can say I prefer Shrek 2), but the one for Sound Editing is very very worthy. Oh, yeah: and the Holly Hunter voice was the wrong choice for the female character.

My rating for the film: 7.5/10. I just wish the fun had started earlier.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

It's rather impossible to tell the subject of the film in 1 or 2 sentences. It's the story of two monsters, a parallel world, an adorable little girl and an accident that generates a screwball comedy, with lots of action & fun.

Nominated for 4 Oscars:

Best Animated Feature
Best Music, Original Score
Best Music, Original Song (WINNER)
Best Sound Editing

This one lost Best Animated Feature to Shrek. And although Shrek is excellent, I'm not sure it was the right decision. Monsters is surely one of the top 5 best animated films this decade has given us (and that's saying a lot considering Nemo & Wall E). It's so much fun, the story is very very creative, the voices fit perfectly and I loved the mixture of sweeeeet and smart.
The technical part is flawless and the rollercoaster-like scene with all the doors is a classic chase scene "filmed" perfectly. Lots of colors and an adequate ending.
On an animated features scale, I'd probably give it a 10/10. But putting it in line with motion pictures, my rating for the film is: 9/10. Yet, make no mistake: Monsters, Inc. is from now on in my Top 100 favorite films EVER.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Murphy's Romance (1985)

A divorced mother moves to a small, rural, Arizona town and becomes friends with an older man. An unusual attraction arises.
Nominated for 2 Oscars:
Best Actor in a Leading Role: James Garner
Best Cinematography
It's a typical 80s film that I was curious about seing for years. It's not a comedy, it's not a drama. Romance would be the right word. The 1st half is slower, the second one is better, the dialogue is sharper and the ending is quite interesting.
I said it's a typical 80s because of its look: the cheesy wrong music, the cinematography and almost even the direction.
The performances are good (not spectacular) and none Oscar worthy, though I must say Sally Field was sweet as hell; I tried to think of an actress nowadays that would match her charm, but a name hasn't popped up yet. Garner's nomination must be some kind of an honorary thing. He does a great job, but the role's not that demanding.
The title IS a bit misleading. A sweet quiet film with a sweet actress. But I would say: for Oscar fans only or for Sally Field fans. My rating for the film: 7.5/10.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Whales of August (1987)

The film tells the story of two elderly widowed sisters near the end of their lives, spending a summer in a seaside house in Maine.
Nominated for 1 Oscar:
Best Supporting Actress: Ann Sothern
What's so special about this film is that it really is a cinema event. There's no need for explanations if you are a huge movie fan. The two sisters are played by Lillian Gish and Bette Davis. Davis is my favorite actress of all times. Gish, who was 96 years old in 1987! (making her the eldest person to ever get a leading role) is probably the greatest film star from the silent movie era. Her career started in 1912!
Something funny: while filming a scene, Lindsay Anderson, the director of The Whales of August, said to Lillian Gish, "Miss Gish, you have just given me a perfect close-up." Davis observed, "She should. The bitch invented 'em." :))
Now about the film itself: it's slow, with good and decent performances, nothing excellent. The entire story happens in like 24 hours, there's nothing big going on, just quiet peaceful dialogue. For me, it was bliss cause I just got to see those 2 divas. I'm surprised Gish didn't get a nomination for Best Actress. Had she been campaigned in supporting (instead of Leading, as I suspect happened), Bette Davis would've gotten one too. The single nomination of the film, for Ann Sothern's showy performance, is rather pointless.
So: a must see for huge film fans cause it's film history; and probably a terribly boring experience for anyone else. My rating for the film: 7/10.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Of Human Bondage (1934)

A sensitive disabled medical student falls in love with a wicked waitress (Bette Davis) who selfishly takes advantage of his generosity and feelings towards her.
Nominated for 1 Oscar*:
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Bette Davis (*write-in nomination)

I promise this is the only time I'll be cheating :D Some don't consider Bette Davis to be an actual nominee for this, as she wasn't on the official list, but written in to correct a fatal error. However, the film is included here.
This is Bette Davis' breakthrough performance and her bitchy mad speech towards the end is a classic and very representative of her future work. Is she perfect in this? How could I be objective as she is my favorite actress of all times?! But nomination worthy SHE WAS.
Yet, the film is messy and the passage of time doesn't do it any favors. The direction is way too simple and the screenplay is mostly superficial. If you ever get to see it, do it for Bette.

My rating for the film: 5.5/10 and I'm being very generous.

In Bruges (2008)

Holed up in Bruges, Belgium after a difficult job, two very different hit men enjoy sightseing, talk about life and death and get caught in a crazy deadly unusual chase.
Nominated for 1 Oscar:
Best Original Screenplay
I wasn't that confident about seing this film. I felt like it wasn't my type of movie. Boy, was I wrong. This film is FUN. It's beautifuly written, very well thought and quite surprising in its storyline. Collin Farrell gives an unexpected fabulous performance (both dramatic and comedic); also great are Brendon Gleeson as the other hit man and Ralph Fiennes as the real villain.
The film is fast, easy to follow, nicely shot. A great relaxing movie.
My rating for the film: 8.5/10 and I might get even more generous with time.

Frozen River (2008) (2nd viewing)

A single mom living in a shitty town is in a desperate need for money, so she makes an illegal move by smuggling people across the border.

Nominated for 2 Oscars:
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Melissa Leo
Best Original Screenplay

After watching it for the 1st time, I said to myself: all they needed was a digital camera, a car, 2 women and a frozen river. It rarely gets more low budget, indier, than this. That's a problem for me. It's hard to focus on the film when the camera work is a mess and when 95% of the cast (the 5% representing Melissa Leo and the dude playing her son) is made out of amateurs.
Some scenes (like the strip club towards the end) are ridiculous and Razzie worthy.
But what you do get from the film is a screenplay with decent parts (the ending outshines the rest of it) and (I hate to admit it because I dislike her presence offscreen) a good performance from Melissa Leo.

I'll write about her performance on the other blog.
My rating for the film: 5/10 though it's really not that bad.

An Introduction

La di da...

Hello there!

I've decided to make this second blog to write a few words about the Oscar nominated films I get to see. Not much, just a couple of sentences to keep track. It's not just about the Best Picture category; and not just 1st viewings.

I'll probably start with the most recent 3, to put a brick on the foundation of the blog: In Bruges, Frozen River and Of Human Bondage.

What is my picture doing on the left of this post? I have no idea. just a slash of me & a piece of narcisism.