Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Awards season already? Get in the Spirit

It does seem awfully early for this, but two groups have just launched the opening salvos in kudos season, with the Spirit Awards announcing its nominations and the Gothams simply skipping right to the winners.

My first thought in looking at the Spirit Best Feature nominees was a bit of depression that I haven't actually seen any of them, but that will change soon with a trip to NYC set for the end of the year. My next two thoughts were "how in the world did 'A Mighty Heart' end up here?" and then "Juno," a movie which I've plugged rather shamelessly here for what seems like three years, will probably be the winner, if Todd Haynes isn't crowned the king.

Of the movies I have seen, I'm really happy to see the love for "Rocket Science," easily one of my favorite movies of 2007. Jeffrey Blitz certainly deserves the directing recognition, and Anna Kendrick is a worthy nominee for best supporting actress (though I'd imagine Jennifer Jason Leigh, who more than holds her own against Nicole Kidman in "Margot at the Wedding," will take this one home.) And, of course, huzzah to the nomination of the late Adrienne Shelly for her screenplay for the simply enchanting "Waitress."

And finally, though I passed up the opportunity to do so when I first saw it, let me be a very much minority voice of dissent in opposition to Michael Moore's "Sicko" (which doesn't appear until the Gothams segment, but bear with me.) I've been a Moore supporter from the beginning, but this was, to me, probably his worst movie. If he had spent a lot less time gallivanting around Europe to brag about their free health care and instead focused on the very real problem of Americans who do have some form of insurance and yet routinely get denied care, he would have made a much more powerful film.

But enough venting from me. Here are the Spirit nomination highlights, and you can read the whole list here:

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" - Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Jon Kilik
"I’m Not There" - Producers: Christine Vachon, John Sloss, John Goldwyn, James D. Stern
"Juno" - Producers: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Mason Novick, Russell Smith
"A Mighty Heart" - Producers: Dede Gardner, Andrew Eaton, Brad Pitt
"Paranoid Park" - Producers: Neil Kopp, David Cress

"2 Days in Paris" - Director: Julie Delpy; Producers: Julie Delpy, Christophe Mazodier, Thierry Potok
"Great World of Sound" - Director: Craig Zobel; Producers: Melissa Palmer, David Gordon Green, Richard Wright, Craig Zobel
"The Lookout" - Director: Scott Frank; Producers: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Laurence Mark, Walter Parkes
"Rocket Science" - Director: Jeffrey Blitz; Producers: Effie T. Brown, Sean Welch
"Vanaja" - Director: Rajnesh Domalpalli; Producer: Latha R. Domalapalli

Todd Haynes - "I’m Not There"
Tamara Jenkins - "The Savages"
Jason Reitman - "Juno"
Julian Schnabel - "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Gus Van Sant - "Paranoid Park"

Pedro Castaneda - "August Evening"
Don Cheadle - "Talk To Me"
Philip Seymour Hoffman - "The Savages"
Frank Langella - "Starting Out in the Evening"
Tony Leung - "Lust, Caution"

Angelina Jolie - "A Mighty Heart"
Sienna Miller - "Interview"
Ellen Page - "Juno"
Parker Posey - "Broken English"
Tang Wei - "Lust, Caution"

Chiwetel Ejiofor - "Talk To Me"
Marcus Carl Franklin - "I’m Not There"
Kene Holliday - "Great World of Sound"
Irrfan Khan - "The Namesake"
Steve Zahn - "Rescue Dawn"

Cate Blanchett - "I’m Not There"
Anna Kendrick - "Rocket Science"
Jennifer Jason Leigh - "Margot at the Wedding"
Tamara Podemski - "Four Sheets to the Wind"
Marisa Tomei - "Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead"

Ronald Harwood - "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Tamara Jenkins - "The Savages"
Fred Parnes & Andrew Wagner - "Starting Out in the Evening"
Adrienne Shelly - "Waitress"
Mike White - "Year of the Dog"

Jeffrey Blitz - "Rocket Science"
Zoe Cassavetes - "Broken English"
Diablo Cody - "Juno"
Kelly Masterson - "Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead"
John Orloff - "A Mighty Heart"

"Crazy Love" - Director: Dan Klores
"Lake of Fire" - Director: Tony Kaye
"Manufactured Landscapes" - Director: Jennifer Baichwal
"The Monastery" - Director: Pernille Rose Grønkjær
"The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair" - Directors: Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker

'Into the Wild' tops Gotham Awards

Though I stand by my difficulties with the character of Christopher McCandless (in a fit of pique, I believe I called him a spoiled brat), I'm still very happy to see Sean Penn's ambitious and very challenging movie getting awards season love.

"Into the Wild" won best feature honors Tuesday at the 17th Gotham Awards.
The Gothams, given by the Independent Feature Project, go to winners in six categories. "Sicko," which I lashed into a bit earlier, took home the doco prize.

The ensemble cast award was shared by "Talk to Me" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." The latter, by the way, was a flick I just really couldn't get into, though it is indeed packed with top-shelf actors at the top of their game (and a very welcome return by Marisa Tomei too.)

Ellen Page, in what will hopefully be her launching pad to a best actress Oscar nomination, won for breakthrough actor in "Juno." Breakthrough director honors went to Craig Zobel for "Great World of Sound." "Frownland" won the cheekily named award, Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.

Six already-announced tributes were handed out to Roger Ebert, Javier Bardem, Mira Nair (huzzah!!!), production designer Mark Friedberg, IFC Entertainment president Jonathan Sehring and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Has Scorsese finally picked his next movie?

After spending a little down time (and why not?) chumming around with the Rolling Stones, it seems Martin Scorsese's finally ready to commit to his next feature film.

I was hoping he would turn to the children's novel "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," which is rapidly moving up my to-read list (Jonathan Safran Foer's "Everything Is Illuminated" is my current read), but I suppose you can't go too wrong in tapping the work of Dennis Lehane. Leonardo DiCaprio (shocker!) and now Mark Ruffalo are set to star in Scorsese's "Shutter Island," based on Lehane's 2004 novel.

Ruffalo will play U.S. Marshal Chuck Aule, who travels with his new partner (DiCaprio) to the Massachusetts island in 1954. As they investigate the disappearance of a patient from a hospital for the criminally insane, they encounter a web of lies, a hurricane and a deadly inmate riot that leaves them trapped on the island.

Sounds like uber-cool stuff to me, and it's certainly nice to see Mr. Scorsese finally working again.

A banner week on DVD:

The Namesake: I was hoping the Macon Film Guild would make this Mira Nair movie its December selection (but "Once," showing Dec. 9 at the Douglass Theatre, is certainly a worthy choice too) so I would get to see it on the big screen, but at least I can finally see it at all on DVD. It seems like this came out in theaters years ago, and I simply adore Mira Nair, so the first thing I'm doing after finishing this is moving her to the top of my Netflix queue.

Waitress: As I start to think about which 10 movies might make it into my Best of 2007 list, I've thought a lot about this sweet little movie from Adrienne Shelly. Sure, it's lighter than air, but you get Felicity, Sheriff Andy and Captain Mal in this bittersweet romance, so how much more can you really ask for?

Bender's Big Score This is the first of what will be a fairly remarkable four movies based on the late but much-loved (especially by me) TV show "Futurama." Planet Express is threatened with a hostile takeover and Bender falls into the hands of criminals who use him to fulfill their schemes.

Paprika: I'm a sucker for intelligent animated movies made for adults, so this one is a natural. As far as I can tell, the wild plot centers on a machine that allows therapists to read people's dreams, and what happens after it gets stolen.

Indy's not really all that old

Well, maybe he is, but judging from this photo of Harrison Ford and Shia LaBoeuf on the set of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" he's at least not yet approaching embarrassing himself like Stallone soon will in yet another "Rambo" movie. You can count "Indy" as the blockbuster I'm most excited for next summer, even more so than "The Dark Knight." Enjoy, and have an entirely bearable Wednesday.


jeremy said...

Eeek let me warn you first! Paprika sucks! I mean, its gorgeous, sure, but beyond that, its about as insipid as Perfect Blue.
So will there even be an Oscar broadcast this year? I mean, if writers are on strike. Then SAG's supposed to strike.
As for the Independent Spirit awards, I personally feel that Christine Vachon is a saint and should be sainted at this year's ceremony.
(Oh, and Christine if you happen to find this comment, please contact me about producing a script I have--and ask Todd to direct, thanks.)

Reel Fanatic said...

I have serious doubts anyone beyond the geekiest kind of people (and I mean that in the kindest possible way, Jeremy) ever read what I bother to scribble down here .. As for the Oscars, I hadn't thought about that, but it would indeed seem the ceremony would be in jeopardy (though I really think it will be resolved by the end of this year) ... and thanks for the warning on Paprika!

Bob said...

You forgot to mention the 3-Disc "Hot Fuzz" (with 5 commentaries!) and "Hot Rod," a movie which I know we both enjoyed. "The Namesake" is very good though and I'll give "Waitress" a rent soon.

Divinity said...

My brother got to see Gus Van Sant in person last week while doing some extra work. I'll have to let him know about this list.

More and more with Moore (:P), I think he goes more for entertainment value than for really solid commentary. I know you read my mini-review on Sicko but I went back and found my comment on my friend Steven's blog which was a more timely reaction to the film:
"As for the movie itself as a movie (rather than a commentary), I found it a little on the long side. Usually, Moore films engross me completely but, as I mentioned to Brendan afterwards, my squeamishness about injury sounds (like that guy's shoulder popping out) and what I found to be an intrusive soundtrack prevented me from focussing well on the narrative (?) being told. I thought the Cuban scenes were the most emotionally exploitive which, with some film-makers, I resent but with Moore, I've come to expect and usually respect as one of his best-wielded weapons (since logic and even-handedness ain't). Irony and humour work well for him too. But I'm easily led that way. Brendan's the voice of reason in pointing out the downsides of life in France and Cuba, which I thought looked pretty awesome."
His review of it incorporates his own experiences with the American health care system and I thought it was a really insightful look at Moore's work and worth a read if you get the chance.

Reel Fanatic said...

The only reason I didn't mention the "Hot Fuzz" set is that I already bought the cheapo edition when it first came out, Bob, but you're certainly right that this one is loaded with more than enough extras to reward those who were more patient

And I have to say, Divinity, that I agree with your assessment that cinematically "Sicko" was indeed a little on the long side, and as I made pretty clear, I would have cut some of the many scenes from France and Great Britain ... As for the Cuba trip that came at the end, I was certainly glad to see those people get the care they needed, but the whole thing just felt like a stunt that kind of cheapened his overall message

Marina said...

The list of Spirit Awards nominees this year looks really good. I still have a few to watch but I feel confident that my picks are pretty good.

I'm still a bit upset that I missed "Into the Wild" when it played here. Now that I actually have a little time to see it, it's gone. *sigh*

Ellen Page - the firecracker is lit and this girl is on the way to the top. I'm also rooting for the Oscar nom.

I had heard here and there that it was a slow week for DVD's but I have to agree with you, it's a great week. Between "Paprika" and "The Namesake"'s going to get a little pricey.

* (asterisk) said...

Oh, no, not DiCaprio in "Shutter Island". For the love of God, why?!

Great book...

Reel Fanatic said...

I haven't read the book, Mr. *, but I have to say I think DiCaprio has been getting better with each role, and Mark Ruffalo is easily one of my favorite actors, so I think this will turn out to be pretty cool

Eric said...

RF Check out the Photo Essay over at Wired for some cool shots from the upcoming Futurama releases

Reel Fanatic said...

I certainly will Eric .. thanks for the head's up!

Mercurie said...

I hate to say it, but I haven't seen any of the nominees for the Spirit awards either. But then, living in a rural area, I didn't have much chance to do so--I don't like driving 30 miles to see a movie!

Tony Tanti said...

I agree with you about Into the Wild.

Here's why I'm not excited about Indiana Jones. Apparenlty Spielberg liked Darabont's script but Lucas didn't so Lucas scrapped in and wrote the script himself.

We've seen what happens when Lucas writes without help (Star Wars 1-3), so I don't have high hopes for Indy 4.

Reel Fanatic said...

That's very distressing news indeed, Tony ... Lucas is easily as egotistical and more than he's made out to be on South Park and elsewhere