Archived entries for inception

Academy Awards winners, 2011

So this my usual post about Oscar winners this year. Be warned that this year’s results kind of pissed me off.  Last year’s post is here.

Best Picture
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

So yes, this was expected, The King’s Speech won this one, congrats. Except this really bothers me. To me, it was a really good film. But a great one? That’s bound to be remembered and discussed for hours and rediscovered with every viewing? I don’t think so.
I’ve long declared my love for the Social Network as the superior film, which it really is. The Academy’s made mistakes before, I still haven’t forgotten the 2006 Oscars and never will. Everyone knows the King’s Speech will not stand the test of time the way the Social Network will. It’s all very well to portray a man overcoming obstacles in order to fulfill his destiny -a beautiful and poignant theme for sure; but it’s a different thing to portray a whole generation’s hopes and ambitions and greed and hunger for something more. It’s also the whole creativity/creation aspect of it that makes the film so fascinating. It’s the idea that anything’s possible, one that’s only possible in our times. And how far can one go to protect that? It’s all these questions reflected against the backdrop of questionable ethics and eventually, the demise of that friendship that was ultimately sacrificed for a greater cause, or perhaps not. I read all that into the Social Network, and much, much more. The first time I saw it, I wasn’t all even that interested in it. The film was okay, if not a little bit cold, perhaps too detached. But then I saw it again, and that was that. The King’s Speech, for all its beautiful characterisation and clever banter, could never have achieved what the Social Network did with its characters, which was to infuse them with such layers that they would feel real, in their good but also uglier aspects.
Also, regarding the prizes the film has won this season compared to the ones won by the King’s Speech, it’s all pretty clear that it came down to critics v. industry; and the Academy being formed of several guilds which had favoured the King’s Speech, it made sense that it won the big prize tonight. And so this will go down Oscar history as yet another Harvey Weinstein victory (the subject of a fascinating Vanity Fair piece), and yet another Oscar campaign perfectly orchestrated… which is a real shame.
Update: according to Dana Brunetti (head producer of the Social Network) Harvey Weinstein himself admitted to the Social Network being the better movie, cf. this Twitter update. How does this make sense, I ask you.

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Academy Awards nominees, 2011

Here are my thoughts on the 2011 Oscar nominees (last year’s post is here).

Best Picture
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

No real surprises on this list, but I have to say, The King’s Speech is the likely winner of the coveted Best Picture Oscar. It seemed for the longest time that The Social Network was going to win this, but it’s clearly lost momentum -with the Baftas setting the trend; although coming from the British Academy, this was less surprising. Then it won the Producer’s Guild Award and now the tally of Oscar nominations makes it quite obvious –The King’s Speech got twelve; the Social Network eight. So the race is really close between those two. I haven’t seen The King’s Speech but I’m pretty sure the Social Network remains my personal favourite and the more deserving winner. But that’s only my opinion.
It’s nice to see the usual Pixar nod in this category since the field has been widened up, and Sundance favourite Winter’s Bone also made the cut, possible to the expense of Ben Affleck’s The Town.

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The state of the race so far…

So as you all know, January/February is usually one of the most expected time of the movie year as the award season unfolds.
But for now, what do we know? The critics have published their top 15 of the year, critics’ circles have started handing out awards, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced its nominees for the Golden Globes Awards.
(Picture credit : Awards Daily).

*The clear contender at the moment, and the biggest one, is David Fincher’s The Social Network, which I myself have found outrageously good and so well-written. It was a box-office success -for such a small budget at least ($50million); and it opened to rave reviews from all the major publications. The awards buzz as such grew slowly but steadily -and here we are today, with Screen Actors Guild nominations/Golden Globes nominations in all the main categories, winner of the NYFCC awards (critics’ circle from New York City, one of the most important) in the best film and director categories; and the film also swept the National Board of Review, an early and good indicator of Oscar wins.
So in short, we’re looking at a Best Picture win, Best Director nominee, a most probable Best Actor nomination for Jesse Eisenberg, an Adapted Screenplay win; and perhaps a nod in the Best Editing, Cinematography and Music Score categories.

*Right behind The Social Network is Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech, a “costume drama” that is sure to please the Academy, as it plays all the right cards -biopic of a historical figure with stellar and intense performances. Colin Firth, after last year’s A Single Man, once again won high praises for his performance -he’s a sure Best Actor nominee; and other acting thesps such as Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter will also get Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress noms (or may even win) Actually, Colin Firth  as well might just win the statuette as he’ll be the most ‘veteran’ actor in the field, and that would be great recognition indeed. But the film is also sure to get nominations in the key categories -Best Film, Directing, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design, Art Design and Music Score (Alexandre Desplat has a good shot at winning for once, squee!).

*Hot on The King Speech‘s tail is Inception, Chris Nolan’s exploration of the dream world. Sci-fi pics usually do not fare well in award ceremonies; however as this is both compelling storytelling and visual achievement which has won the critics’ acclaim, Inception is definitely a heavy contender as well. Although it was released during the summer, its enduring box-office success made sure it was not to be forgotten when award season started; and Warner Bros clearly understood that as it is the studio’s main award contender this year, alongside Ben Affleck’s The Town, a considerably smaller film in terms of both audience and visibility. A Golden Globe nomination in the Best Picture (Drama) category reinforced its position in this year’s award race; unfortunately, Inception may have to pick up at the Oscars only what’s left by the two aforementioned films : Best Picture and Director nominations, Original Screenplay nomination is a safe bet as well; not likely to get any noms in the acting category as the cast is too widespread, it may also bag a Best Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound Mixing and Editing, Music Score nomination; and a Visual Effects win for sure.

*Alongside Inception in the ‘unconventional film’ category this year, is Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, hailed as the best film in a career that’s already very remarkable -I wouldn’t be surprised if Aronofsky won the Best Director Oscar, although I daresay he will be in very good company in this category. Since its screening at the Venice Film Festival, Black Swan has been a shoo-in for every almost category -Best Film, Director, Best Actress for Natalie Portman and Best Supporting Actress for Mila Kunis ; it will probably get a Best Original Screenplay nom as well as Best Cinematography, Editing, Art Design, Costume Design. However Clint Mansell’s score has been announced ineligible for the Oscars as it drew too much material from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”. Stupid Oscars.

*No “Little Movie That Could” this year, but David O.Russell’s The Fighter might just be considered as the outsider this year. Sport biopics have always been favoured by the Academy, especially boxing ones, and so this one should be in its rightful place. It has already picked up nominations in the main categories at the Golden Globes – Best Picture (Drama) and Director; as well as Best Actor for Mark Wahlberg, Best Supporting Actor for Christian Bale and two Best Supporting Actresses for Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. Christian Bale is the main contender in his field; it’d be great to see him win an Oscar… At any rate, one can be sure to find all these acting nominations at the Academy Awards as well. Interestingly enough, the film hasn’t been nominated for its screenplay in any of the award ceremonies so far.

*The remaining candidates are: Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, a star turn for Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine, Sundance sensation Winter’s Bone, Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right, Ben Affleck’s The Town, and never, never forget the Coen brothers, whose latest film True Grit could act as a real surprise, as it was released just a few days ago. Also in the acting categories, Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole (Best Actress) and Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom (Best Supporting Actress) have been generating quite a buzz for their performances.

Nominations for the Academy Awards will be announced on the 25th of January, expect a post then!

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2010 review

As per tradition, here is my list of the best films of the year:

1. The Social Network, directed by David Fincher
2. Inception, directed by Chris Nolan
3. El Secreto de sus Ojos, directed by Juan José Campanella
4. Agora, directed by Alejandro Amenabar
5. A Serious Man, directed by Ethan and Joel Coen
6. Toy Story 3, directed by Lee Unkrich
7. Green Zone, directed by Paul Greengrass
8. The Kids are All Right, directed by Lisa Cholodenko
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, directed by David Yates
10. Bright Star, directed by Jane Campion
11. Shutter Island, directed by Martin Scorsese
12. The Ghost Writer, directed by Roman Polanski
13. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, directed by Edgar Wright
14. The Town, directed by Ben Affleck
15. Up in the Air, directed by Jason Reitman

+ Buried, Kick-Ass, London Nights, An Education, I Love You Phillip Morris, Tangled

I know, I know. By all rights, Inception should have been first, the originality of the subject matter alone should make it the rightful number one, surely there hasn’t been a film that was equally innovative… and of course, David Fincher’s The Social Network isn’t. What is is though, is the epitome of our generation, this young century of ours –cinema at its most jubilant and storytelling at its most excellent. The story of Mark Zuckerberg makes for incredible material of course, but it’s how screenwriter Aaron Sorkin chose to treat the subject that is the most surprising –portraying a petulant, insufferable Zuckerberg while making us ache for the fundamental relationship missing in his life. What matters here isn’t how close this is to reality, but how telling it is of our reality. The Social Network is a triumph of fine storytelling, and that’s why I think it was the best movie of the year.
But that doesn’t mean that Inception, which I have reviewed elsewhere on this website, isn’t the biggest success of the year in terms of visuals, because it is. Chris Nolan has proved to be one of the most capable directors of our era –he’s also the only mainstream director willing to push the audience far enough, almost to the edge of confusion. Flashy effects and deliberately complicated structure aside, Inception is still more thrilling than any films you’ll see this year. And bonus point for wearing its heart on its sleeve while plumbing the depths of its characters’ minds.
As for third place… El Secreto de what? It’s this year’s most underrated film, although to be fair, it did win an Oscar last year for Best Foreign Film. But I don’t know anyone in France who’s seen it, except, you know, your two enduring moviegoers. In any case, Campanella’s pelicula about missed opportunities, unresolved murders and undying love is a new take on many classic themes of your usual detective story. It’s as subtle as it can be shocking, and the resolution of the story is so distressing and disturbing at the same time than the ‘twist’ alone is worth the viewing. Fortunately, there are incredible characters all around to keep you distracted from the darker aspects of the film ; plenty of humour to keep you entertained and most importantly, enough smarts to keep you guessing until the end.
I’ve already written a lengthy review of Amenabar’ epic Agora, but here’s three things that should convince you rightaway to buy it in DVD: it’s a peplum that has more intrigue than action; witnessing Alexandria being torn apart by religious conflicts is completely riveting –it sends the mind reeling as much as it fills the heart with despair; and the characters’ complexity is only matched by the fine performers who depict them –Rachel Weisz, Oscar Isaac, Max Minghella, a very solid cast indeed. Buy it already!
Last but not least, A Serious Man is a splendid Coen brothers flick, with as much as irony and dark humour as there can possibly be. I have said it before, I was thoroughly impressed to see how well the themes were echoed in the storytelling itself, which therefore mixes moral questioning, quirky characters, intangible sense of destiny and catastrophe all in one brilliant, complex film that in addition is very-well shot, choreographed and scored. It does leave you somehow perplexed in the end, but entirely satisfied at the idea of having been exposed to such genius.
That’s it for my comments on the top 5, feel free to disagree!
And a quick top 5 of the performances of the year:

Actors
1. Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception, Shutter Island
2. Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
3. George Clooney, Up in the Air
4. Ben Whishaw, Bright Star tied with Ewan McGregor, The Ghost Writer, I Love You Phillip Morris
5. Matt Damon, Green Zone

Actresses
1. Carey Mulligan, An Education
2. Annette Bening tied with Julianne Moore, The Kids are All Right
3. Rachel Weisz, Agora
4. Abbie Cornish, Bright Star
5. Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air

Another year gone, a new one starting: the next post will be the 2011 preview, stay tuned!

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The Suburbs

That’s pretty much how I would sum up my summer in London; it’s all in the new Arcade Fire album -a lifechanging one as far as I’m concerned. I’m still listening to it daily now I’m back in Paris, can’t seem to get enough of it yet.

Sooooooo I know, I haven’t updated this blog in a while but to be honest, I only had two days of holidays before starting classes (which I spent in Côte d’Azur), and it’s all been really hectic from then on, especially now that I’m studying in Sciences Po. I miss actual uni though, and it’s been very weird switching from one establishment to the other, very weird indeed.

I didn’t get to go to the cinema that much at all, between all the lectures and the weekly readings and the presentations and whatnots. I’m swamped with work at the moment, and it’s only about to get worse. Since I’m so late on my reviews, I’m going to take the lazy way around and rate all the films (out of 5 stars) I’ve seen since…April? There aren’t that many:

Bad Lieutenant, directed by Werner Herzog **
Iron Man 2, directed by Jon Favreau *1/2
Green Zone, directed by Paul Greengrass *****
Kick-Ass, directed by Matthew Vaughn ***
New York, I Love You, directed by Fatih Akin, etc. ***
Clash of the Titans, directed by Louis Leterrier *1/2
London Nights, directed by Alexis Dos Santos ***1/2
Robin Hood, directed by Ridley Scott **1/2
Sex & the City 2, directed by Michael Patrick King
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, directed by Mike Newell **1/2
Toy Story 3, directed by Lee Unkrich *****
Millenium, part 2, directed by Daniel Alfredson ***1/2
Inception, directed by Chris Nolan ***** (review here)
El Secreto de Sus Ojos, directed by Juan José Campanella *****
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, directed by Edgar Wright ****
The Expandables, directed by Sylvester Stallone *1/2
The Town, directed by Ben Affleck ****

A few remarks:
*It’s been a bad movie year overall, I KNOW.
*Paul Greengrass will always get five stars from me, regardless of the subject he’s treating (kidding. Or not).
*Almost didn’t award five stars to Inception for being a ‘minor’ Chris Nolan work, but then I was reminded of Wally Pfister’s photography and changed my mind.
*Pixar, as usual, has made one of the best movies this year. Toy Story 3 made me miss my childhood tremendously and made me cry buckets, of course.
*I was literally dragged into the theater for two of these films: Sex & the City 2, which was awful (I’ve never seen the TV show or the first film) and the Expandables, a huge waste of time.
*I was disappointed by Robin Hood; although the visuals were fine, the screenplay was simply rubbish
*El Secreto de Sus Ojos is overwhelmingly good; it’s how storytelling should be done, people! Definitely one of the best films around this year, that Best Foreign Film Oscar is more than deserved.
*Kick-Ass did live up to the hype -it was great entertainment, but not much more substance to it. Elsewhere in the fanboy universe, Edgar Wright was much, much more successful: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is unabashedly funny and a real treat in terms of visuals. It will be released in France only in December though.
*Ben Affleck is a great director; I wish he’d given the part he played in his own film to somebody else. Nonetheless, The Town shows very promising filmmaking.

That’s about it for now, sorry this is such a short post and not proper reviews! I’ll get around to it eventually, and with the awards season coming up, it’s bound to be a news-filled blog again! See you soon.

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