Posts Tagged ‘Javier Bardem’

Oscars, Already?

Monday, October 11th, 2010

We have the new Gurus O’ Gold chart up, and in taking a look at the consensus votes du jour, I had a couple thoughts. I missed The King’s Speech at Toronto, so I’ll have to wait until screeners come in/Seattle screenings get set to weigh in on it. Could be the Oscar-bee’s knees like I heard from a lot of folks at Toronto, could be Colin Firth‘s year to win a statue. Or not. Time will tell.

Of the Best Pic-contending movies I have seen, I wouldn’t rank The Social Network as highly as it’s sitting right now. It’s very early for that film to be peaking, I think, and I still just don’t see its subject matter and cynicism as broadly appealing to the Academy voters. But we’ll see. Hereafter? Not so much. I wouldn’t even have that one on my Oscar radar at all except that it’s directed by Eastwood — but I personally found it to be maybe on par with Invictus, which wasn’t great, and maybe a tad below Million Dollar Baby (NOT my favorite movie) in terms of emotional manipulation.

Right now, I think my personal top Best Picture pics would be True Grit (haven’t seen that one yet either, but it’s the Coens and the trailer looks great), Black Swan, 127 Hours, Another Year, The King’s Speech (based on the buzz alone at this point) and Winter’s Bone OR The Kids Are All Right as strong outsiders.

I’m more interested at this point in the Adapted Screenplay race, where we have 127 Hours, True Grit and The Social Network as probably leaders of the pack. To this I would add Never Let Me Go, which I think, after reading the book, is a really solid adaptation — more on that one later. Unfortunately, I missed seeing Rabbit Hole (darn that weighty Toronto slate and its surprises), and I’ve heard so many things on that one (mostly positive) that I’m hoping to get to check it out soon.

Right now I’m also interested in the Best Actor and Actress races as well. For Best Actor, everyone (ah yes, the ever-mysterious, yet oddly influential “they”) came out of Toronto saying James Franco is a “lock” for a nomination, and Firth virtually a “lock” for a nom and probable win. I’ve seen Duvall in Get Low and it’s a good performance, no doubt, and one that may appeal to the Academy. Not my personal top o’ the actor heap, but I have no idea what the Academy’s temperature reading is on that film, and no one’s counting my votes anyhow.

Bridges in True Grit may (will probably be) Oscar worthy, but he’s coming off a win last year for Crazy Heart. Personally (and again, not having seen True Grit or King’s Speech yet) my sentimental favorite is Javier Bardem for Biutiful, which I think is the best performance in a career of great performances. But the artfulness of Biutiful may not be enough to lift it up above the rather bleak subject matter to put it up there in the hearts of voters.

As for Best Actress, maybe it’s just me but this feels like a slightly less competitive field this year. After barely missing out on a Best Actress nom for Happy-Go-Lucky a couple years ago, this may be Sally Hawkins year with Made in Dagenham, the kind of uplifting Brit-flick that may be appealing to the Academy. I would probably put Lesley Manville‘s really solid turn in Another Year right up there with Hawkins. and if it were me, Jennifer Lawrence would be right in the mix for Winter’s Bone. I heard really amazing things about Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole out of Toronto, too, and I am a fan of Black Swan and Portman’s performance in it. I wouldn’t count her out completely yet.

The Oscar race will start to take shape more as screeners get sent out and buzz starts to bubble up for this film and peter out for that one. This is a fall with a lot of exciting movies to look forward to and it should be an interesting awards season to watch as well. Much as we all get sick of reading and writing about Oscars, our collective obsession with it drives this business to one extent or another.

I don’t plan to write as much about Oscars as the “Oscar pundits,” more to focus narrowly on specific bits and pieces — screenplay adaptations, docs, maybe foreigns depending on what’s nominated there. After years of having my kids do their Oscar picks randomly using everything from Magic 8-Ball to Twister to Pin the Tail on the Donkey (usually with surprising accuracy) I’ve come to believe that it’s really a crap shoot anyhow.

Fun to talk about and argue about and make charts about, but at the end of the day, I don’t know that any one person’s guesses are actually more accurate or better than the randomness of the Magic 8-Ball. So it goes, let the speculating begin.

TIFF 2010: It’s a Wrap

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Another year of TIFF has officially wrapped, the awards have been announced, and everyone’s gone home. It was a really great fest this year with a solid slate, although I can’t say I disagree with those who feel the fest would benefit from cutting their slate a bit to be a little more discriminating. I saw some films that surprised me (The Illusionist, A Night for Dying Tigers), some that were disappointing (Hereafter, Miral) and some that took my breath away with their vision and execution (Black Swan, I Saw the Devil).

TIFF Review: Biutiful

Friday, September 10th, 2010

When a great director has teamed repeatedly with a brilliant writer over the course of a career, one has to ponder how much the unique chemistry of two artistic minds working on a common canvas shapes the quality of the end result. Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s films Amores Perres, 21 Grams, and multiple-Oscar nominee Babel (which won only for Original Score), were written by Guillermo Arriaga (sometimes off ideas hatched by Iñárritu), with whom the much-lauded director had a much-ballyhooed falling out.

A bit more on Biutiful

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

It’s hard.

Hard story. Hard story to do with originality. Hard truths. And often, hard to watch.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has probably done the best work of his career here. He’s finally abandoned the triptych. So even though Bardem’s character is still engaged in multiple stories, the film feels whole. It’s the beginning, middle, and end of the story of this piece of this man’s life. And in just weeks of time on screen, there is a
real arc… and it doesn’t feel forced.

There is still plenty of pain and, yes, urine in the film. But unlike previous efforts, it never feels like a stunt or an intentional test of the audience’s tolerance. It feels almost like a documentary about one man – a unique man, allowing for metaphor – and what he might do when faced with singular circumstances after a life of turmoil.

As a new father, the movie is often brutal, even at its kindest. Futility is a big theme. And the children in the film, including the big one inside Bardem, are endangered repeatedly. But the film allows no easy judgements. There is no black or white. Just a life of gray.

Personally, just the grime of the walls, floors, everything was hard to watch. And I’m not a neat freak. But the idea of living in that dirty way, and of not really having a choice, was painful. Some days are better that others in that world, but at best, there will always be a grim coat of muck lingering on the surface. Horrifying. And real.

So… not for everyone. And unlike something like Winter’s Bone, which can be pretty grim, there is no real hope here, only relief when it’s not as painful as it could be. I mean, all picture long, just waiting for someone to fall from a window or be smothered by a pillow or whatever possible simple horrors are always hanging around, right around the corner. And some do happen…

But there is no denying the beauty, the craftsmanship (a visual theme that is defined late in the movie shows up very early on in very subtle ways… watch the mirrors), and the great passionate storytelling that permeates every scene.

As for awards… well… Bardem is an Oscar-winner and that matters. He deserved at least two other statues before he won and he wasn’t nominated for either. Both shared with Biutiful being “difficult.” He should be a lock. The movie, a greater challenge for the film’s distributor. But we’ll see.

In the meanwhile, consider buckling up and seeing this one in a theater… where you can’t hide when it hurts. And it will hurt. You don’t have to love the pain, but you certainly have to respect it.