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Friday, February 17, 2012

10 fun stats to help you win your Oscar Picks Pool

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Inspired by Best Picture nominee Moneyball, Oscarologist Alan Eskew has assembled some numbers and statistics to help you score on Oscar Night. Rather, 10 reasons Moneyball won’t win at The Academy Awards.

1. The Best Director winner has almost always walked with the Directors Guild of America prize a few weeks before. There are only 6 exceptions.

2. The Oscar for Best Director has matched Best Picture 74% of the time over the past 83 years.

3. Meryl Streep has now been nominated for 17 Oscars. She gets on base but she hasn’t been a good pick for game players - this iron lady has won just 2. It’s been 29 years, and 5 sitting U.S. Presidents since she actually won.

4. The foreign film that was playing at the Angelika Dallas during the week of the Oscars has won Best Foreign Language Film for 6 of the past 7 years.

5. In the past 30 years, all but 6 Best Picture winners were released after October.

6. Period movies have won Best Costume for 17 of the past 20 years.  Exceptions were Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Dracula, and last year’s Alice in Wonderland.

7. Only 1 silent film has won Best Picture, so far. Wings in 1927.

8. The loudest movie takes Best Sound Editing, period. Speed, Pearl Harbor, Bourne Ultimatum and even the recent King Kong have actually won Oscars. Otherwise, war films do well. In the past 20 years, there have been 7 war films that won. Or 8 if you think Lord of the Rings: Twin Towers is a war film.

9. It’s a fun show, but don’t use The Golden Globes as a guide for your Oscar Night picks. In the past 7 years, only 1 of the Golden Globe winners for Best Picture (they have 2 chances each year) matched the Academy’s Best Picture winner (Slumdog Millionaire, 2008).

10. Your odds on picking Best Original Song are 50/50. There are just 2 songs. 

Good luck!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hugo


Academy Award-wining director Martin Scorsese has created a family film based off the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret and it’s exactly what you’d expect. This is not your typical fast-paced kid 3-D flick so it's likely that young kids will be bored. Yeah, for a film where every scene seems to contains a clock, it has a mostly plodding pace.

But as an adult, it’s an alluring film to watch in 3-D from the opening sequence (a whirlwind dash from the Paris skyline through a crowded bus station) to an homage to the Lumiere brothers' 1897 film Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, where audiences flinched in horror as a train appeared to be headed right at them.

Hugo is about a boy, a magician and a mystery, but it is also very much an expression of the filmmaker’s love of cinema. And it’s truly one for the movie house - this one isn’t going to be as much fun on DVD.

Simply put: Scorsese tries a family-friendly 3-D movie and delivers, like clockwork. More about magic than magical, but very much what you’d expect from Scorsese.
 
Award potential: Nominated for more Academy Awards (11) than any other films this year. A front-runner for director and many technical awards.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks plus glasses.
See this in 3-D, on the big screen.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Contraband


Mark Wahlberg convincingly plays a former smuggler who is pulled back into his life of crime when the brother of his wife (Kate Beckinsale) gets caught up in a botched drug deal.

Not surprisingly, this “one last deal” doesn’t go as expected, which sets up a fasted-paced thriller. Although the plot quickly reaches preposterous levels, this is a solid, B-movie fun. I was entertained until an absurd ending that seemed to go against everything before it.
 

Simply put: Contraband delivers the goods in a slow movie month

Award potential: No way. This is just a (good) B-movie.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The 5 movies you need to see before Oscar Night


The Artist
These are the two words you’ll hear all Oscar Night. But The Artist is more than an artsy film, it's a crowd-pleaser and it makes a great date night at the movies. The Weinstein film is a contender in 10 categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Art Direction, Original Screenplay, Costume Design, Film Editing, Original Score) and a front-runner for Best Picture, Best Score and more. 

Hugo  
Martin Scorsese's first family film honors the thing Hollywood loves the most — Hollywood. It received more Oscar nominations than any other film (11). Hugo could take the top prize and probably will take Best Director, but most likely it will snipe a lot of the small ones. How you feel about this one will help you determine those deep picks on your Oscar Pool. 

The Descendants
Garnering five nominations (Best Directing, Best Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Picture), Alexander Payne’s touching tale of a family’s transformation is a front-runner for Best Actor (Aloha George Clooney!) and it has a strong chance of taking the other 4 categories.

My Week With Marilyn
War Horse, nominated for six Oscars, will probably win just one (Best Cinematography), so I’m suggesting you catch this sweet lil' film instead. Michelle Williams (Marilyn Monroe) and Kenneth Branagh (Sir Lawrence Olivier) aren’t front-runners to win, but in a year when the top movies all honor classic Hollywood, these two are your least surprising surprises.  

A Separation
Looking to impress everyone on Oscar Night? This little-seen Iranian film is the one to beat for Best Foreign Film, and it has an astonishingly positive 99% rating on rottentomatoes.com.



  
BONUS: The 5 you can see at home

The Help
Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer should clean up on Oscar night. Their SAG acceptance speeches sealed the deal in January.
Moneyball
No big awards for this polarizer since people think it either fell flat or was a home run. I thought it was brilliant. But Aaron Sorkin has a good chance at scoring Best Adapted Screenplay.

Midnight In Paris
This comedy has nominations for Best Picture, Best Directing, Art Direction and Best Original Screenplay. Expect a win for Woody Allen’s screenplay.
Beginners
You can pick sure-thing Christopher Plummer as Best Supporting Actor without even seeing this film, but this comedy with Ewan McGregor is worth a rental.

Bridesmaids
I should probably recommend Tree of Life, nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography. But I don't want you to hate me. Just watch Bridesmaids again. There won't be any Oscars passed out for this, but Melissa McCarthy will be all over Oscar night - climbin' it like a tree.

Friday, February 3, 2012

War Horse

The first World War was the final war in which horses figured much at all. In War Horse, World War I is experienced through the journey of a thoroughbred horse named Joey. After Joey is forcefully taken from the owner who tames and trains him, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, a master at onscreen warfare, this film is an unabashed epic throwback. The cinematography is reminiscent of one you might find in a John Ford Western. And the sunsets seem to be pulled from Gone With the Wind. All of this matches beautifully with John Williams' sweeping score.

The Spielberg magic works well for a big sentimental children's tale like this – a story that depends on an amazing set of coincidences. 

In the first of many memorable sequences, the horse's first owner Albert (Jeremy Irvine) trains Joey to pull a plough. Spielberg takes that simple setup and turns it into an unforgettable, stirring moment.

Simply put: A big, magical melodrama with Spielberg at the helm.

Award potential: Spielberg deserved a nomination for never losing control of the multiple storylines. Nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture, I don't see many wins for War Horse. Best Cinematography is your strongest bet.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.