Category Archives: Film news

Film Update

1. The Muriel Awards for films released in 2013 is going on as we speak, right around that other more-popular broadcast with the celebrities and fashions. I was honored to yet again participate with many much better film critics and enthusiasts in presenting virtual awards named after Paul Clark’s guinea pig. I was proud to present the Best Supporting Actor award for a great, whacked-out turn by one of today’s hardest-working actors.

2. I need to update the Top 1000 Films Project page, since an updated 2014 TSPDT list was published earlier this month. As of this posting, I’ve watched 443/1000 films from the February 2013 list. Hopefully, that doesn’t change too drastically with the release of the new list. Change on this list tends to happen slowly. The exception to this rule occurred last year when the latest Sight & Sound poll somewhat reshuffled the deck, bringing light to new/overlooked films, and dropping some long-time list residents that have suffered through lack of exposure or some other sea change. 

3. Older Movies that were new to me in 2013:

  • Atlantic City (Louis Malle, 1980)
  • Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater, 1995)
  • Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)
  • Black Narcissus (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1947)
  • Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1935)
  • Bunny Lake Is Missing (Otto Preminger, 1965)
  • Crank: High Voltage (Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor, 2009)
  • Eating Raoul (Paul Bartel, 1982)
  • High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963)
  • La promesse (Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, 1996)
  • Muriel (Alain Resnais, 1963)
  • My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)
  • Orpheus (Jean Cocteau, 1950)
  • Pontypool (Bruce McDonald, 2008)
  • Tristana (Luis Buñuel, 1970)

Some of these may be considered MAJOR blind spots. For example, I needed some quick catch-up before seeing 2013’s great Before Midnight. Suddenly, enduring two Ethan Hawke movies became sort of a necessary evil. But missing Totoro and Bride of Frankenstein are pretty unacceptable.

The longer I live, I’ve started to think of cultural literacy as a lifelong endeavor, and much of our lives should consist of climbing toward a peak rather than standing atop it.
Another way to look at it is that I don’t currently have easy access to a time machine to fix my egregious errors. What’s up with that, science?

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David Lynch Put His Disease in Me or: Muriel Awards, Best Feature Film 1986

Nevermind the Oscars. The Muriel Awards are currently being unveiled daily until March 4.

The 25th Anniversary Muriel Award for Best Feature Film of 1986 goes to:

  1. Blue Velvet [243 points, 33 votes]
  2. The Fly [121 points, 20 votes]
  3. Hannah and Her Sisters [112/18]

Full results of voting here.

With such an overwhelming mandate, they could’ve probably asked any halfwit to write up a post about the winner. So, that’s what they did. Among my ramblings, you’ll notice the only detail I left out was what shoes I was wearing as I wrote it. (Trick question: I was barefoot, and I have a pegleg.)

My ballot:

1. Blue Velvet
2. Down by Law
3. Something Wild
4. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
5. The Fly

Underrated:

Big Trouble in Little China, Caravaggio, The Decline of the American Empire, Matador, Mona Lisa, She’s Gotta Have It, True Stories

Defending my Muriel Ballot, Supporting Actor

I’m proud to again participate in voting for The Muriel Awards, celebrating the best in film for 2011. While it sounds darned lofty, the virtual ceremony has been about an impassioned community of movie dorks appreciating the overlooked and showcasing sometimes obscure films, performances and technical mastery. It’s also kinda fun to watch the surprises without being asked who you’re wearing on a red carpet.

Awards are currently being unveiled daily until March 4.

First, a tip of the hat to the winner of the Muriel for Best Supporting Actor:

  1. Albert Brooks, Drive. [Award capsule by James Frazier]
  2. Christopher Plummer, Beginners.
  3. Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life.

Full results of voting here.

We’re off to a rousing start. Not sure about 7 votes for Viggo Mortensen in A Dangerous Method, but I’ll admit that he has a nice beard in the film.

My ballot:

1. John C. Reilly, Terri
Not to tip my hand on future awards [read: totally doing just that], 2011 was the year I became convinced that John C. Reilly could walk on water. Oh I know he can’t, but he could make you believe that he could. Or maybe, just maybe, he really can. Daily. Twice on Sundays.

In Terri, Reilly portrays Mr. Fitzgerald, a high school vice principal hellbent on intervening on misfit or miscreant students like the title character, who struggles with his appearance and his home life. In the school hallways, Fitzgerald’s a watchdog disciplinarian, but behind his office door with Terri, he exudes compassion mixed with outright juvenile dorkiness. He discovers Terri to be mature beyond his years, and subsequently, begins to  treat Terri as an equal, a friend, even a guide. Because essentially, Fitzgerald is just as flawed, an adult among children, despised and alienated by them. Reilly naturally personifies director/writer Azazel Jacobs’ central theme about realizing your nature, and embracing it for life.

The rest of my ballot:

2. Albert Brooks, Drive
3. Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
4. Christopher Plummer, Beginners
5. Denden, Cold Fish

Underrated:

Goat, La quattro volte; Matthew Lillard, The Descendants; Simon Pegg, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol; Mark Strong, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Stanley Tucci, Captain America: The First Avenger

Muriels Wrap-up

This post features links-a-plenty, but it’s the only way I’ll be able to go back and relive some of the great writing that goes into the revelation that is the Muriel Awards. Par for the course, there were surprises, but our little collective made some bold, intelligent choices.

Best Feature Film:

1. The Social Network
2. True Grit
3. (tie) Dogtooth
3. (tie) Toy Story 3
5. (tie) The Ghost Writer
5. (tie) Winter’s Bone
7. Carlos
8. Exit Through the Gift Shop
9. Black Swan
10. Mother

Other movies receiving #1 votes:

12. Everyone Else 14. A Prophet 18. Another Year 20. Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl 26. October Country 27. White Material 30. (tie) Lourdes 35. Father of My Children 39. Vincere 42. (tie) The Strange Case of Angelica 42. (tie) Please Give 56. Waste Land

My ballot:
1. Toy Story 3 2. A Prophet 3. Another Year 4. True Grit 5. Restrepo 6. The Kids Are All Right 7. White Material 8. The Social Network 9. The King’s Speech 10. Bluebeard

Best Lead Performance, Male

1. Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
2. Édgar Ramírez, Carlos
3. Tahar Rahim, A Prophet

My ballot:
1. James Franco, 127 Hours 2. Édgar Ramírez, Carlos 3. Tahar Rahim, A Prophet 4. Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network 5. Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Best Lead Performance, Female

1. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
2. Natalie Portman, Black Swan
3. Kim Hye-ja, Mother

My ballot:
1. Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right 2. Lesley Manville, Another Year 3. Kim Hye-ja, Mother 4. Isabelle Huppert, White Material 5. Emelie Dequenne, The Girl on the Train

Best Supporting Performance, Male

1. John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
2. Christian Bale, The Fighter
3. Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

My ballot:
1. John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone 2. Niels Arestrup, A Prophet 3. Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right 4. Matt Damon, True Grit 5. Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Best Supporting Performance, Female

1. Greta Gerwig, Greenberg
2. Olivia Williams, The Ghost Writer
3. Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

My ballot:
1. Dianne Wiest, Rabbit Hole 2. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit 3. Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right 4. Olivia Williams, The Ghost Writer 5. Sandra Oh, Rabbit Hole

Best Direction

1. David Fincher, The Social Network
2. Olivier Assayas, Carlos
3. Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit

My ballot:
1. Lee Unkrich, Toy Story 3 2. Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit 3. Jacques Audiard, A Prophet 4. Mike Leigh, Another Year 5. Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right

Best Screenplay

1. Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
2. Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit
3. Yorgos Lanthimos, Dogtooth

My ballot:
1. David Seidler, The King’s Speech 2. Mike Leigh, Another Year 3. Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg, The Kids Are All Right 4. Michael Arndt, Toy Story 3 5. Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit

Best Cinematography

1. Roger Deakins, True Grit
2. Robert Richardson, Shutter Island
3. Jeff Crenonweth, The Social Network

My ballot:
1. Wally Pfister, Inception 2. Matthew Libatique, Black Swan 3. Anthony Dod Mantle, Enrique Chediak, 127 Hours 4. Robert Richardson, Shutter Island 5. Marcel Zyskind, The Killer Inside Me

Best Editing

1. Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall, The Social Network
2. Lee Smith, Inception
3. Jonathan Amis & Paul Machliss, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

My ballot:
1. Susan Littenberg, And Everything Is Going Fine 2. Lee Smith, Inception 3. Andrew Weisblum, Black Swan 4. Michael Levine, Restrepo 5. Hervé de Luze, The Ghost Writer

Best Music (Original, Adapted or Compiled)

  1. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, The Social Network
  2. Nigel Godrich, score with additional music by Steve Price, music supervisor Kathy Nelson, songs by Beck Hansen and others, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
  3. Hans Zimmer, Inception

My ballot:
1. Daft Punk, TRON: Legacy 2. Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, The Social Network 3. Alexandre Desplat, The Ghost Writer 4. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World 5. Carlos

Best Cinematic Moment

1. In the incinerator, Toy Story 3
2. “Burning for You”, Let Me In
3. Nina Sayers IS the Black Swan, Black Swan

My ballot:
1. Facing the furnace, Toy Story 3 2. Zero-gravity hallway fight, Inception 3. Initiation, A Prophet 4. Sitting for a portrait, Catfish 5. Transformation into Black Swan, Black Swan 6. Rancher rant/“I need a day off”, Sweetgrass 7. Refresh ad infinitum, The Social Network 8. Dance sequence, Dogtooth 9. Bank robbery gone wrong, The Town 10. Gunfight at George and Martha’s house, The Book of Eli

Best Cinematic Breakthrough

  1. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
  2. Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
  3. Banksy, Exit through the Gift Shop

My ballot:
1. Giorgos Lanthimos, Dogtooth 2. Tahar Rahim, A Prophet 3. Katie Jarvis, Fish Tank 4. Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey, The Secret of Kells 5. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Best Body of Work

1. Leonardo DiCaprio, Shutter Island and Inception
2. Mark Ruffalo, Shutter Island and The Kids Are All Right
3. Manoel de Oliveira, director, Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl and The Strange Case of Angelica

My ballot:
1. James Franco, 127 Hours, Howl, and Date Night 2. Julianne Moore, Chloe and The Kids Are All Right 3. Harris Savides, cinematographer, Somewhere and Greenberg 4. Michelle Williams, Shutter Island and Blue Valentine 5. Mark Ruffalo, Shutter Island, The Kids Are All Right and Date Night

Best Ensemble Performance

1. The Social Network
2. True Grit
3. Carlos

My ballot:
1. The Kids Are All Right 2. True Grit 3. The Social Network 4. Another Year 5. The King’s Speech

Best Web-Based Criticism (no past winners)

  1. AV Club
  2. The Man Who Viewed Too Much (Mike D’Angelo)
  3. Slant Magazine

My ballot:
1. AV Club 2. Not Coming to a Theater Near You 3. Jonathan Rosenbaum 4. The Projectionist (David Edelstein) 5. Sounds, Images

10th Anniversary Award, Best Feature Film 2000

1. In the Mood for Love
2. Memento
3. Yi Yi

My ballot:
1. In the Mood for Love 2. Memento 3. Almost Famous 4. Chicken Run 5. Traffic

25th Anniversary Award, Best Feature Film 1985

1. Brazil
2. Ran
3. After Hours

My ballot:
1. Lost in America 2. Ran 3. Brazil 4. After Hours 5. The Purple Rose of Cairo

50th Anniversary Award, Best Feature Film 1960

1. Psycho
2. The Apartment
3. Breathless

My ballot:
1. La Dolce Vita 2. The Apartment 3. Breathless 4. Psycho 5. L’Avventura

Special Award: Best Film of the 1950s

1. Vertigo
2. Rear Window
3. The Searchers

My ballot:
1. Rear Window 2. Seven Samurai 3. The 400 Blows 4. All About Eve 5. Wild Strawberries 6. Singin’ in the Rain 7. The Earrings of Madame de…  8. Paths of Glory 9. The Searchers 10. Los Olvidados

Kicking off the Muriel Awards

2011 Muriel Awards

I’d like to thank the Academy, er, Steve Carlson of Down Inside You’re Dirty and Paul Clark of Silly Hats Only for inviting me again to participate in the only film awards that matter: the fifth annual Muriel Awards. The awards, named in honor of Paul’s beloved guinea pig (RIP Muriel), feature film lovers and critics across the Web and celebrate the best in film from 2010, as well as much movie geekery along the way.

Daily category awards will be handed out through March 6 at the Muriel community blog, Our Science Is Too Tight. If film is your thing, why not follow along for a fun few weeks? It’s gotta be better than this year’s Golden Globes. Click the banner on the right to head straight over.

Today, we kick it off with a bang, in which you can scoff at my defense of a somewhat surprising — and completely overwhelming — upset in the Best Supporting Actor category.

Muriels: If I ran the Muriels

This year’s Muriels have been put to bed, so you no longer have to worry about any 2009 film awards, unless you’re dying to see what designer Sandra Bullock will be wearing to the Oscars.

So, now I can finally speak my mind without fear of oppression by those blowhards/proprietors of the Muriel Awards, Steve Carlson and Paul Clark. I’ll finally reveal my full 2009 ballot, and detail the awards as they SHOULD HAVE RIGHTFULLY GONE if only everyone thought just like me.

Best Film: Sita Sings the Blues.

Synopsis as posted during the Muriel Awards.

Watch the entire movie online for free thanks to Creative Commons licensing at sitasingstheblues.com.

Best Actor: Sam Rockwell, Moon.

Rockwell plays an Everyman (somewhat literally) with a lonely job stuck out on the moon. Rockwell appeared in darn near every scene, and is ultimately watchable and believable as our narrator throughout this throwback sci-fi film.

Best Actress: Tilda Swinton, Julia.

Swinton as a blackout drunk and a calculating kidnapper = OWNAGE. If I didn’t give her this award, she’d probably drive me over with a tank and snatch it.

More after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry

Muriels: Countdown to Best Picture

Image courtesy of Craig Kennedy of Living in Cinema.

Today is the day that the Muriel Awards for Best Picture of 2009 gets announced. And it’s being celebrated with a countdown – Casey Kasem style – of every picture that received a #1 vote from the panel, including yours truly.

Updates every half-hour today  until Best Film of 2009 is revealed at Steve Carlson’s Tumblr.

Final tallies will be posted shortly thereafter at murielawards.org, where the last three years’ results are currently listed.

On a personal note (which is odd for a blog, don’t you think?), I was more than honored to participate in this annual cine-geek-a-thon this year. Three cheers for Muriel! Long may you graze!

Muriels: Best Female Performance of the Decade

As pulled from the flick: This is the girl.

Read daily vote results from now until Best Film of 2009 is revealed on February 28 at Steve Carlson’s Tumblr.

Final tallies will be posted shortly thereafter at murielawards.org, where the last three years’ results are currently listed.

Muriels: Best Male Performance of the Decade

Draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaainage!

Read daily vote results from now until Best Film of 2009 is revealed on February 28 at Steve Carlson’s Tumblr.

Final tallies will be posted shortly thereafter at murielawards.org, where the last three years’ results are currently listed.

Muriels: Best film of the decade

Image courtesy Craig Kennedy of Living in Cinema.

Our mascot, Muriel, is one picky filmgoer, and proves it again with the award for best film of the 2000s.

No, it’s not the Tarantino. It’s the mind-bending Lynch.

It’s always fun to look back at the year (and now the decade), and I am proud to participate with the awarding of the Muriels again this year.

Even though I’ve never met any of my fellow voters in person, I’m saddened about the loss of one of co-founder Paul Clark’s other guinea pigs. RIP Charlotte.

As always, read daily vote results from now until Best Film of 2009 is revealed on February 28 at Steve Carlson’s Tumblr.

Final tallies will be posted shortly thereafter at murielawards.org, where the last three years’ results are currently listed.