The Ides Of March

YEAR: 2011

WRITER:George Clooney

DIRECTOR:George Clooney

BUDGET: ?

GROSS: $3,450,000 (as of October 7th, 2011)

 

a couple years ago, after the box office failure of a few films, all the talk was about the death of smart, adult fare. how, no one was going to see these movies and studios were going to stop making them. well, i guess george clooney didn't get the memo, because The Ides Of March is a smart, adult film and a really good one at that!

while i wouldn't call myself a political junkie (what's a step below "junkie?"), i do enjoy politics. actually, i enjoy it and am often very frustrated by it as well. but all that to say a good political thriller is always something that will intrigue me. but notice the word "good" in that last sentence.

the problem with some political thrillers is that they feel the need to really push the "thrill" part and to do so they end up getting convoluted and going to far: a murder and a cover-up and then a leak leads to another murder which brings in a secret uncovered from many years ago, etc... The Ides Of March doesn't fall into that trap.

the film takes us into the world of this campaign and in there we understand how high the stakes are and how important everything is to those involved. and given that, even a small (and believable) transgression can take on large importance and thrills and cause characters to change their views of things and act in ways they might not have otherwise (we don't need two murders and a secret organization to keep us interested or believing).

it also helps that the film is populated by great performances from all involved (clooney, gosling, giamatti, seymour hoffman, evan rachel wood, jeffrey wright marisa tomei). the film is filled with about six or seven one-on-one scenes between these various actors/actresses that had me transfixed to the screen. the performances and the writing create a palpable tension whether it be flirty or suspenseful or confrontational.

and let us not forget the direction here. clooney is quietly becoming on of the better directors out there. with this film, Good Night And Good Luck and Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind (i haven't seen Leatherheads) clooney has shows a real vision specific to each film in how he wants to tell the story and how he wants it to look. and with The Ides Of March he found in phedon papmichael a cinematographer to realize it beautifully.

i know the political thing will turn some people off. but, just to say... you dont have to be a political junkie or even a step below junkie to understand or enjoy this movie. so, don't let that hold you back.

2011 Oscar Predictions

 

WILL WIN are in bold

DID WIN are  big

MY SCORE: 18/24

despite anne hathaway's efforts and enthusiasm, the 2011 academy awards will go down as one of the worst i have ever seen. not because of who won or lost, but i'm talking the show itself.

besides the funny put-the-hosts-in-the-movies opening, there was barely a laugh or moment of excitement to be found (except when i won the pool i was in of course). the remixed songs was fun and the bob hope part was nice (although, seeing billy crystal out there to introduce it just made it more obvious what a great host he was and how anne and james just couldn't match up). but other than that the show was pretty dull.

as for my predictions: i did ok this year. 18/24 isn't bad and i did get 2/3 in the shorts categories which is where many pools are often won or lost. however, there were a few categories that, looking back, i'm not sure what i was thinking. i think i got a little too into the idea that The King's Speech wave would sweep up other categories that i missed, the now-obvious, Alice In Wonderland in art direction and costume design. and those of you who listened to the prediction episode of the podcast know how close i was to going with the winners in editing, documentary feature and foreign film (but, alas i didn't). so 18/24 it is. one better than last year and my second best showing since i started doing the podcast. how did you all do?

 

BEST PICTURE
The King's Speech
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The Fighter

 

 BEST DIRECTOR
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams , The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
Christian Bale , The Fighter
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo , The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

BEST ACTRESS
Natalie Portman , Black Swan
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Nicole Kidman , Rabbit Hole
Michelle Williams , Blue Valentine

BEST ACTOR
Javier Bardem , Biutiful
Jeff Bridges , True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth , The King's Speech
James Franco , 127 Hours

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Another Year , Mike Leigh
The Fighter , Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, and Keith Dorrington
Inception , Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right , Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
The King's Speech , David Seidler

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
127 Hours , Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network , Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 , Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich
True Grit , Joel and Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone , Debra Granik and Anne Rossellini

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Biutiful
Dogtooth
In a Better World
Incendies
Outside the Law

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Inception
The King's Speech
True Grit

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Black Swan
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King's Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Gasland
Inside Job
Restrepo
Waste Land

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING
Andrew Weisblum, Black Swan
Pamela Martin, The Fighter
Tariq Anwar, The King's Speech
Jon Harris, 127 Hours
Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, The Social Network

ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP
Adrien Morot, Barney's Version
Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng, The Way Back
Rick Baker and Dave Elsey, The Wolfman

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
John Powell, How to Train Your Dragon
Hans Zimmer, Inception
Alexandre Desplat, The King's Speech
A.R. Rahman, 127 Hours
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Coming Home” from Country Strong, Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
“I See the Light” from Tangled, Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
“If I Rise” from 127 Hours, Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
“We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3, Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Day & Night
The Gruffalo
Let's Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
Inception
Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit
Unstoppable

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
Inception
The King’s Speech
Salt
The Social Network
True Grit

ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Hereafter
Inception
Iron Man 2

Deliver Us From Evil

YEAR: 2006

WRITER: Amy Berg

DIRECTOR: Amy Berg

BUDGET: ?

GROSS: $196,585

 

over the last years a lot as come to light about the problems in the catholic church, that have been going on for decades, of priests molesting children and the church hierarchy basically covering it up. Deliver Us From Evil is an excellent documentary about exactly that.

the film's center piece is an interview with father oliver o'grady. and his story is a perfect microcosm of the huge problem that went on for so many years in the catholic church. juxtaposed with the o'grady interview and story are interviews with some of the families and children, now grown, that he betrayed.

o'grady is completely candid in the film as he talks about all the horrible things he did to the children of his various parishes. he talks frankly about how he ingratiated himself into their families and used his position of trust among faithful catholics to abuse their children. it isn't easy to listen to. but what made me just as angry watching the film, is the institutionalized protection he got from the church hierarchy as his superiors - in this case mostly cardinal mahony - did everything he could to sweep o'grady under the rug and away from view so that it wouldn't effect his chances of becoming cardinal - putting politics and power ahead of the children and justice (obviously it worked, since he did become cardinal).

the film shows how father o'grady was moved from one parish to the next (pretty much all within 50 or so miles of each other). and in one incredible move, mahony placed him in a really out of the way parish to keep him out of view of Rome. however, the parish was so out of the way that o'grady didn't have any superiors near by. he was basically running the show on his own. can you fucking believe it?!!

our hero of the story - besides the families that have spoken out - is father thomas doyle who reaches out to families and has spoken out against these horrible abuses and the way they weren't dealt with (and in so doing has been almost black listed and kept from advancing in his career).

the film is really well directed and is something that everyone should see regardless of faith. Deliver Us From Evil isn't an attack on religion or faith but on those that use the institution to do evil and those that know about it and do nothing.

2010 Oscar Predictions

WILL WIN are in bold 

SHOULD WIN (where i have an opinion) is underlined 

 Did Win are BIG 

 

 

 

MY SCORE: 17/24

well, the oscars have come and gone and i had an average go with my predictions this year. it wasn't my most impressive performance, but it wasn't awful either. where i messed up this year was with the shorts (animation, live action, documentary). normally i get at least one of those right and this time nothing. and then, missing both screenplay winners is just awful. but, i went  17/19 for the rest of the awards and a perfect on the top 6 categories which isn't bad.... so, how did you all do?

Best motion picture of the year
  • Avatar
  • The Blind Side
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • Up In the Air
Performance by an actress in a leading role
  • Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
  • Helen Mirren (The Last Station)
  • Carey Mulligan (An Education)
  • Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)
  • Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia)
Performance by an actor in a leading role
  • Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
  • George Clooney (Up In the Air)
  • Colin Firth (A Single Man)
  • Morgan Freeman (Invictus)
  • Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
  • Matt Damon (Invictus)
  • Woody Harrellson (The Messenger)
  • Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)
  • Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
  • Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
  • Penelope Cruz (Nine)
  • Vera Farmiga (Up In the Air)
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart)
  • Anna Kendrick (Up In the Air)
  • Mo'Nique (Precious)
Best animated feature film of the year
  • Coraline
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • The Secret of Kells
  • Up
Best Documentary Short Subject
  • China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
  • The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
  • The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”
  • Music by Prudence
  • Rabbit à la Berlin
Best Short Film (Animated)
  • French Roast
  • Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty
  • The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)
  • Logorama
  • A Matter of Loaf and Death
Best Short Film (Live Action)
  • The Door
  • Instead of Abracadabra
  • Kavi
  • Miracle Fish
  • The New Tenants
Achievement in art direction
  • Avatar
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
  • Nine
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Young Victoria
Achievement in cinematography
  • Avatar, Mauro Fiore
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Bruno Delbonnel
  • The Hurt Locker, Barry Ackroyd
  • Inglourious Basterds, Robert Richardson
  • The White Ribbon, Christian Berger
Achievement in costume design
  • Bright Star, Janet Patterson
  • Coco before Chanel, Catherine Leterrier
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Monique Prudhomme
  • Nine, Colleen Atwood
  • The Young Victoria, Sandy Powell
Achievement in directing
  • James Cameron (Avatar)
  • Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Lee Daniels (Precious)
  • Jason Reitman (Up In the Air)
Best documentary feature
  • Burma VJ
  • The Cove
  • Food, Inc.
  • The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
  • Which Way Home
ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP
  • Il Divo, Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
  • Star Trek, Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
  • The Young Victoria, Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore
Achievement in film editing
  • Avatar, Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
  • District 9, Julian Clarke
  • The Hurt Locker, Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
  • Inglourious Basterds, Sally Menke
  • Precious, Joe Klotz
Best foreign language film of the year
  • Ajami
  • El Secreto De Sus Ojos
  • The Milk of Sorrow
  • A Prophet
  • The White Ribbon
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
  • Avatar, James Horner
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox, Alexandre Desplat
  • The Hurt Locker, Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
  • Sherlock Holmes, Hans Zimmer
  • Up, Michael Giacchino
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
  • "Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • "Down in New Orleans" from The Princess and the Frog Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • "Loin de Paname" from Paris 36 Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
  • "Take It All" from Nine Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
  • "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" from Crazy Heart Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
Achievement in sound editing
  • Avatar, Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
  • The Hurt Locker, Paul N.J. Ottosson
  • Inglourious Basterds, Wylie Stateman
  • Star Trek, Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
  • Up, Michael Silvers and Tom Myers
Achievement in sound mixing
  • Avatar, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
  • The Hurt Locker, Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
  • Inglourious Basterds, Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
  • Star Trek, Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson
Achievement in visual effects
  • Avatar, Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
  • District 9, Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
  • Star Trek, Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton
Adapted screenplay
  • Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell (District 9)
  • Nick Hornby (An Education)
  • Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche (In the Loop)
  • Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious)
  • Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (Up In the Air)
Original screenplay
  • Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman (The Messenger)
  • Joel and Ethan Coen (A Serious Man)
  • Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy (Up)

Anytown, USA/The War Room

Anytown-usa Anytown, USA: Year: 2005, Director: Kristian Fraga

The-war-room The War Room: Year: 1993, Director: Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker, Budget: ?, Gross: $901 668

for almost two year leading up to the past elections in the united states the political campaign was front page news.  from the primaries through to the general election this was one of the most tightly fought and publicly engaging campaigns in recent memory.  now i don't know about you, but i have to admit some withdrawal feelings since november 5th when all was said and done.  sure there has been plenty of politics to deal with, but there is something about a campaign that i just find completely compelling.

so, with that in mind and with the historic inaugural just a few days away, i figured it would be a good time to check out two great documentaries that take you behind the political campaigns, and let us see them from the other side: The War Room and Anytown, USA.

The War Room takes us behind the 1992 bill clinton campaign for president and Anytown, USA gives us an insiders look at the race for mayor in bogota, new jersey in 2003.  two campaigns on two totally different scales, but when it comes to politics and power things are never really that different, be it the presidency of the country or the mayoralty of a town with a population of about 5000 people.

i love going behind the scenes in general.  i like seeing how something is made or created and what goes on that the public doesn't see, and these films do exactly that.  besides showing us that politics is politics no matter where you go, both films were interesting for me in two separate ways.

as for The War Room, i remember watching that campaign transpire.  i remember the clinton interview on 60 minutes and the sax playing on arsenio and the debates against bush and perot, etc... so for me this film was like taking me behind history to see all the events of the campaign, the ups and the downs, from inside the campaign, with much of the focus on the two primary architects of it all, james carville and george stephanopoulos.  i was watching the history that i remember, just from another side, which is a fascinating opportunity.

with Anytown USA i have to plead ignorance about the campaign when it took place.  which i would assume is acceptable since i don't live in bogota, new jersey.  so, for me this wasn't a retelling of an event that i already new about, but rather a first time telling of a mayoral campaign in which the incumbent republican mayor was legally blind and was running against a democrat and a blind write-in independent candidate.  yup, you read that right: two blind candidates. so, there is the kicker to it all, but in the end that feels more like a sidebar to the story, as the three way race develops and politics rules - if you thought local politics were all clean and friendly and nice then you will have your innocence broken after watching Anytown, USA...

both films are facsinating looks at two very different, yet not so differnet (somplaints about lies from the other side, campaign signs being torn down, etc...), political campaigns and both films will completely engage you with their stories and their characters as they move towards declaring a winner.

best and worst of 2006

everyone does one, so here are my top 10 best and worst films of 2006 - remember that the list is obviously only based on the films i have seen up to this point - (some of the films that i have not yet seen as i put this list together include: Pan's Labyrinth, Volver, Apocalypto, The Last King Of Scotland, Flags Of Our Fathers, Letters From Iwo Jima, Half Nelson, The Science Of Sleep, The Queen) - feel free to comment and post your lists

Don't Forget (best)                                            Forget  (worst)

1) Brick                                                              1) Black Dahlia
2) The Departed                                                2) All The Kings Men
3) Little Miss Sunshine                                       3) Ultraviolet
4) The Prestige                                                  4) Alpha Dog
5) Little Children                                                5) Art School Confidential
6) Borat                                                             6) Oh In Ohio
7) The Lives Of Others                                       7) V For Vendetta
8) Dave Chappell's Block Party                           8) Bobby
9) United 93                                                       9) Mission Impossible 3
10) Perfume: the story of a murderer               10) Miami Vice

11)Lady In The Water

don't forget (honorable mention): Hard Candy, Tristam Shandy, Thank You For Smoking, Nacho Libre, Children Of Men, The Road To Guantanamo, An  Inconvenient Truth, 13 Tzameti