Monday, December 07, 2009

DC Flies Clooney Skies

Last year the DC Film Critics Association gave Slumdog millions (of prizes). This year they express their desire to fly George Clooney's friendly skies. I'm not here to judge (well not in this particular sentence) as I'm totally in love with Up in the Air, too. But then I just saw it and am still fanning myself from the heat coming off of Clooney & Farmiga. I need a little distance and a cold shower before I commit to any "best!" notions. Thankfully I allow myself that. Most organizations do not. Hence the hasty decision making.

I didn't share their nominees with you yesterday because I found them vaguely embarrassing, like the assembled journos all just came in late and frazzled having left their notes on the Metrorail. Instead of thinking it through they scribbled the names of Oscar buzz du jour types and called it a day. My point is this: I am scared of these people that think The Blind Side is better written than [insert name of a dozen films of high and low profiles here]. The only thing that's making that movie glow is Sandra Bullock's charisma, which even when surprisingly and purposefully buttoned down, is pretty damn shiny. The writers didn't write that. Bullock brings that with her when she reports to work.

Film Up in the Air
Director Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Actor George Clooney, Up in the Air
Supporting Actress Mo'Nique, Precious
Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Adapted Screenplay Up in the Air
Original Screenplay Inglourious Basterds
Breakthrough Performance Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Animated Film Up
Foreign Film Sin Nombre
Documentary Food, Inc
Art Direction Nine

These awards mostly seem like Oscar winner predictions and as such they're pretty very good... I could see all of that happening or nearly. But you know my feeling about using your awards to predict: Two different things! Two different things that should never be mixed!

Why is this beautiful: set, lighting, or Day-Lewis silhouette? You decide.

And on that note I have to both give and takeaway: I think John Myhre's work on Nine is gorgeous BUT (there's always a but with me. I'm so difficult!) one does have to wonder how many Oscars and other prizes John Myhre can collect simply dressing up theatrical stages (Dreamgirls, Chicago, Nine). I do think his work on Nine trumps his other features including the ones that don't take place on a stage (Elizabeth, Memoirs of a Geisha) [tangent] or aren't supposed to. I definitely think Geisha looks like it takes place on a stage and it shouldn't... I thought it was the least deserving of the nominees that year so of course it won. Here's who shoulda been nominated in 2005 [/tangent] ...but this many prizes for dressing up stages? It seems to me like the cinematographer is the one doing the work when the movie takes place on stage. Am I right or am I missing something? Either is possible.


Robert Hamer said...

To be fair, it takes a lot longer than even the two months that AMPAS allows itself to determine what is "best." I've always believed that whether or not its a good or even great film can be determined within the first viewing, but to "rank" them takes a long time and some serious perspective. Hell, I'm still flip-flopping on There Will Be Blood vs. No Country for Old Men. Why oh why did two of my favorite American directors release masterworks in the same year?


Robert, that's very true.

and i still flipflop on those two as well. gripping films both. I think i'm comfortable with my decision at the time (There Will Be Blood) but sometimes i think since No Country feels so much more rewatchable that maybe I erred.

Unknown said...

I need a little distance and a cold shower before I commit to any "best!" notions. Thankfully I allow myself that. Most organizations do not. Hence the hasty decision making."

B-more and DC critics were treated to Up in the Air screenings back in October. We've had plenty of time to let it all sink in thanks very much.


oh c'mon Adam. You KNOW that critics organizations vote too soon. They all want to get in early. I'm still waiting on my AVATAR screening and I'm supposed to vote for BFCA like the day after I see it.

it's ridonculous this time frame.

Chase Kahn said...

It took me two viewings to see the brilliance of "Up in the Air" (mostly because I honestly expected a different kind of thing the first time and the theater experience was horrid) but I think it's brilliant, perceptive, timely, keen, insightful, honest, personal, etc.

I came to see the film's title as not only a description of Ryan Bingham, but of a nation wallowing in unpredictability and unfulfillment - it's really a Billy Wilder/Preston Sturges-like masterwork.

Although I'm sensing the populace rejecting it. The first time that I saw it with four other people (part of the bad theater experience I referenced earlier) all of them turned their nose to it.

Then, today, when I saw it again, one guy said to the other one, "what did you think?" and this gentlemen gave it the wobbly hand, "it was okay." Then the questioner replied, "I hated it. It was all talk."

adam k. said...

Really? I still feel comfortable in my decision that Once was better than either of those two, tiny budget or no. It's the only one I truly fell in love with, and the only one I ever had the urge to watch multiple times (even though I did end up seeing No Country twice, and will most likely see Blood again, too, to clarify my feelings).

But which is #2 and which is #3? Decisions...

Nat, I'm so glad you loved Up in the Air, too. I think it might actually be my favorite film this year so far, so I'll be elated if it actually wins best pic. It FEELS like it will. It absolutely does.

I didn't even think I liked it much at first - I find Reitman's glossy style offputting - but it's one of those films that just keeps getting better and better and better throughout, and by the end, you realize you weren't even really supposed to like the beginning.

This is THE performance George Clooney will be remembered for; I'm certain of it. And I fell hard for Vera... one of those cases where I didn't particularly love an actress beforehand, despite being familiar with her work, and now after the film, I'm obsessed. Did you see her in Breaking and Entering? She's a hoot in a TOTALLY different kind of role.

This is not to take anything away from Anna Kendrick, who was awesome as well, but I actually loved her perf least of the three. All three deserve nods, no doubt. I wouldn't even mind Clooney winning. It'll be quite a race between him, Bridges and Firth. Shame he already won for Syriana...

adam k. said...

Nat, you're a BFCA member???

HA! The irony!

How are you a broadcast critic, may I ask? Just curious.

Chase Kahn said...

2007 was the year of the decade. I'd actually go like this:

1. "There Will Be Blood"
2. "Zodiac"
3. "Assassination of Jesse James"
4. "No Country for Old Men"

And don't forget about "Eastern Promises", "Control", and "I'm Not There".

I was even crazy about "Atonement" (despite the Oscar-bait backlash factor) and "Sweeney Todd" and "Michael Clayton" was like John Grisham meets Alan J. Pakula 70's paranoia. Awesome, awesome year.


Adam -- their membership includes online critics with substantial audiences or something like that (and they've always loved Oscar types as you know).


Chase... yeah, good strong year. My favorite lineup of Best Picture nominees in MANY MANY MANY years. I like all five pictures a lot which almost never happens. 2001's Best Picture lineup was so spectacular (even better) but for A BEAUTIFUL MIND and that spoiled it. So 2007's Best Picture lineup is super super super.

adam k. said...

Oh, and Nat, since you're accepting FYC's:

Up in the Air for BEST CASTING.

Clooney in the PERFECT role for him, Vera gets to be unexpectedly scorching, sly and amazing, Anna in a role apparently written for her, Bateman also great as the very picture of corporate soullessness, JK Simmons in a brilliant cameo (FYC!), and the inspired touch of using real people for the fired employees (they were uneven in their effect, but what a great idea).

adam k. said...

Will you share your ballot with us? Or is it basically the same as the film bitch awards?

Alison Flynn said...

Add me to the list of people who flip-flop between There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men. Both movies are so great and they're two of my favorites of that year, but I can't decide which one tops the other. I think No Country was just a tighter, more 'perfect' movie whereas TWBB had its flaws. But even with its flaws TWBB was so daring and the stuff that worked was just knockout phenomenal. And of course DDL was amazing. :D

Chase Kahn said...

I think you have to give "There Will Be Blood" the edge for its avant-garde, misanthropic, Kubrickian overtones.

I love The Coen Brothers and I love "No Country for Old Men", but I think we can all agree that that film pretty much echoed the earlier work of the Coens, which isn't an idictment in the least, but when looking at the place that P.T. Anderson was coming from, basically a ensemble drama director coming out of nowhere with that - it was something extraordinary.

Plus, Johnny Greenwood's score on "There Will Be Blood" cannot be stressed enough - it's a perfect evocation of greed and corruption and that turn-of-the-century, oil-spun malice - it gives me chills.

kent said...

nathaniel, would you consider vera farmiga's role in UP IN THE AIR lead or supporting? there's been some debate on that as well.

adam k. said...


Kris Tapley is now predicting Vera in supporting, which he would never do if she were still in lead mode, so maybe the studio has come to their senses.


@Kent. 100% supporting. She's missing for big chunks of the movie and it's really about Clooney in every way.

she's much less of a lead than Marion Cotillard in NINE though I also think Cotillard is supporting. In a way "Nine" is about Cotillard but she's in so little of it and it's "about" her in such a vague way that I don't feel at all comfortable calling her a lead.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

2007 was the best year of the decade only insofar as it was the year with the most critically acclaimed movies centred around white, American, heterosexual, middle-aged (or nearing-middle-age), aggressive, earnest men. The 'men' aspect is probably the key. A critical champ naturally lacks a certain legitimacy if it has a woman for a protagonist (or even a co-protagonist).

And yet unquestionably the best film of 2007 was Romanian and entirely about women.

Chase Kahn said...

Y Kant - '4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days' didn't release near me until February of '08, but otherwise, I completely agree with you - phenomenal film.

gabrieloak said...

I have no trouble deciding which is better: There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men. I thought both were overrated and I can't decide which I disliked more. Probably There Will Be Blood because it was 10X more pretentious.

Chase K. mentioned Zodiac and Eastern Promises. I thought both were very good movies. So I'm not adverse to darkness in cinema.

gabrieloak said...

I thought Up in the Air was delightful but I did find that during the last third the script started falling apart, sometime around the wedding. The writing stopped being as sharp and surprising as the rest of the film. I think it probably has the Best Picture Oscar in the bag. I don't see The Hurt Locker, Precious or Invictus beating it. BAFTA may go for another film, though. We shall see.

Glenn Dunks said...

Maybe my understanding of Stanley Kubrick is wrong, but I saw nothing Kubrickian in There Will Be Blood. Birth was probably the film that owed the most of Kubrick from the decade. Although that just off of the top of my head.

Nevertheless, No Country for Old Men is by far preferred by me. I liked There Will Be Blood well enough, but I wasn't in the cheer squad. No Country only made my top 10 at #7 though so...

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

@Nat - Point. 'Avatar' doesn't screen until the 10th, but I do believe it will be last un-seen opening for DC critics. We Baltimorons (wear it loud and proud!) usually experience a 3-week layover from DC premieres, though this isn't always the case for press-only events held specifically to generate positive critical acclaim.