2008 Oscar: Predictions, Wrap-Up and Comments

 

 

  • Picture: No Country for Old Men
  • Directing: The Coen Brothers
  • Actor: Daniel Day Lewis
  • Actress: Ellen Page, Juno Marion Cotillard, La Vi en Rose
  • Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem, No Country
  • Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
  • Original Screenplay: Diablo Cooties, Juno
  • Adapted Screenplay: The Coen Brothers, No Country
  • Cinematography: No Country Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood
  • Editing: No Country Christopher Rouse, Bourne Ultimatum
  • Score: Atonement (go Dario!)
  • Sound: No Country Bourne Ultimatum
  • Sound Editing: No Country Bourne Ultimatum
  • Visual Effects: Transformers Golden Compas (where that come from?)
  • Art Direction: Sweeny Todd
  • Costume: Sweeny Todd The Golden Age
  • Makeup: La Vi en Rose
  • Song: Once
  • Foreign Film: The Counterfeiters
  • Animated Film: Ratatouille
  • Documentary: No End In Sight A Taxi To Nowhere (wha?)
  • Live Action Short: The Tonto Woman Mozart des pickpockets, Le
  • Animated Short: I Meet The Walrus Peter & the Wolf
  • Documentary Short: Salim Baba Freeheld

Results: Okay, I did great in the top eight (tied my personal best of 7/8, woot) but, uh, not so much overall, receiving just 12 out of 24 for a stinky .500 batting average. Glad I called Tilda Swinton (and glad she won) but that’s about it. No Country didn’t sweep like I thought (losing in the sound and cinematography categories). Glad a film that dark and bleak could win the top prize. Time will treat that film well. It’s a classic.

The biggest surprises of the night, though, came in the most random categories. That Morzart film won, Peter and the Wolf over the Walrus movie, Golden Age wining over Sweeny Todd and, while we’re on golden, Golden Compass beat out Transformers. NOBODY could have called those.

And, finally, I like how the ceremony was underproduced. After the strike ended Kates and co. didn’t throw up too many haphazard sections. A few dumb montages (Bee montage?) and those horrible Enchanted songs were hard to put up with but, really, that’s about it. Even John Stewart dialed it down… though perhaps a bit too much. Whatever, it’s over and now I can concentrate on films from this year. Well, after I figure out the worst from last year that is.

  • Best Moment of the Oscars: Eathen Cohen saying “uh… thanks” at his screenplay win then, when winning for picture, said something like “last time I didn’t get to say much so… uh, thanks.”
  • Favorite Win: Tilda Swinton, the music of Atonement and the song from Once.
  • Best Dressed: F-you! 

On to the Predictions….

In what has to be the most exciting and vibrant Oscar season ever, the Academy has finally shed its rickety oldness in order to celebrate morbid newness. The gay hating Brokeback days seem like a century ago. From corporate corruption, to oil savagery, to the nature of murder, that the slate of nominees are mostly “dark” is a living reflection of where cinema, and the world, is at right now and I’m glad the Oscars have finally figured out how to be relevant. We’re right there in the mud and we love it there. Also of note, this has got to be the first time in my lifetime that all Best Picture nominees landed a spot in my personal top twenty (the year of Return of the King, Mystic River, Lost In Translation and Master and Commander came closest —all but one was in my top five and that one cracked the top ten!— but then the horrible Seabiscuit had to spoil that party). I don’t know if that means the films were better this year or if my taste grew worse but it’s an amazing feeling not to loathe the frontrunner as I did last year with The Departed and the year before with Crash. If and when No Country wins, it will be one of the best Best Picture winners in my lifetime. Now that’s reason to watch.

Note: predictions in bold while my preferences are listed with a smiley. Also, feel free to jump in with your picks (at the very least in the top eight categories).

BEST PICTURE

  • Atonement
  • Juno
  • Michael Clayton
  • No Country for Old Men
  • There Will Be Blood😆

Will Win:
No.
Country.
For.
Old.
Men.
That’s all there is to it. Strange how I’m rooting against that fantastic film. Don’t know, the film doesn’t hold up as a masterpiece but it’s sure good. Made even better by the fact that this normally aberrant, fringe crime movie is a frontrunner for anything as far as the institution goes. The only upset here would be the (more hyped than No Country) Juno IMO but that film is too divisive to mount any challenge to the Coens long due Best Pic win. All the talk about Michael Clayton having a chance is just that, talk; as is the whole debate that Atonement possibly winning due to all the British voters (I know a Golden Globe and BAFTA is a solid indication but the film has no oomph).
Should Win: There Will Be Blood. Der. The best film of the year if you ask any film geek. As with No Country, I’m amazed that this atypical and truly iconoclastic work was embraced by a more mainstream crowd. Usually films like this go un-nominated. While that didn’t happen, There Will Be Blood will go unrewarded.
Should Have Been Nominated: Realistically, I wish Zodiac got some support. I mean, it’s not like the Academy didn’t take chances with offbeat films this year. So why not with Fincher’s film. The answer is right there: it’s a FINCHER film.
Please Don’t Give This To: For the first time ever I have nothing to say in this category. The feeling is weird. I’m sure it will pass.

BEST ACTOR

  • George Clooney, Michael Clayton
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood😆
  • Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
  • Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
  • Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises

Will Win: Daniel Day Lewis. Damn right! Everyone is saying what I fear… which is, this will be TWBB only win. ::Sigh:: well at least it’s a big one. I mean, look, DDL is instrumental in this films quality and success. He didn’t make the film, but he sure did fill it in.
Should Win: Yay, I’m in step with my preference. This is the best performance of the year. No debating that so let’s just move on.
Should Have Been Nominated: Everyone seemed to miss the fact that Kurt Russell was fantastic in the road ragging Death Proof. The actor is as due as an unpaid speeding ticket.
Please Don’t Give This To: Jones (for associating himself with Paul Haggis) and Depp (for getting nominated for breathing).

BEST ACTRESS

  • Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age😆
  • Julie Christie, Away From Her
  • Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
  • Laura Linney, The Savages
  • Ellen Page, Juno

Will Win: Hum, I’m going with Julie Christie because these kinds of performances are Oscar Bait-y. The minor upset could come from either Cotillard or Page. Both very new and come with their share of supporters but, lets face it, none have allheizmers.
Should Win: Don’t get on me about this but I’d give this one to Blanchett. Why? Because she should have gotten it for the first Elizabeth! Sure, The Golden Age sucks but Blanchett is unrivaled and her talent in films like this are expected at this point. I also have a fondness for Cotillard and while La Vie en Rose also semi-sucks as a film, she carries it just like Blanchette.
Should Have Been Nominated: Angelina Jolie. Haha, just kidding. Kate Dickie in the little seen Scottish surveillance drama Red Road is the performance that stayed with me all year.
Please Don’t Give This To: Julie Christie. I have a long standing dislike for films about sick people. From an acting and writing standpoint, it’s just too easy. Besides, while Christie does a fine enough job in the film (exactly what the part requires I guess) she’s not what the film’s about. It’s about her husband dealing with the loss of a loved one who is still alive. Gordon Pinsent, the real lead of that movie, does all the heavy lifting.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  • Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War😆
  • Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
  • Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton

Will Win: (to be left blank because it’s so obvious)
Should Win: My feeling is that this should have been Hoffman’s first Oscar win. His indignant CIA guy makes for great fun and a wild performance that makes a so-so film bearable. The kind of performance where you’re hoping for Hoffman to appear as soon as possible and, when he does, you’re thinking about what’s next.
Should Have Been Nominated: Vincent Cassell from Eastern Promises. He blew me………….away.
Please Don’t Give This To: Actually, as much as I admire the film, Wilkinson’s performance is decent and all but for my money not handled well by the screenplay, which sidelines the rogue lawyer before he is able to bring closure to the story. Also, Holbrook is the sentimental choice and all but, really, the dude’s just playing old, not to mention just plain old.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There
  • Ruby Dee, American Gangster
  • Saoirse Ronan, Atonement😆
  • Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
  • Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Will Win: Probably the hardest category of the night to pick. It can be narrowed down but not super logically. Scratch Saoirse Ronan for her performance because, surprisingly, not enough people are talking about her in Atonement. After getting over my grief for that oversight I realize that leaves a whopping four with a good shot. On a personal level I will narrow it down one more, which I shouldn’t do because it’s an emotional response, but I can’t imagine Ruby Dee will win this even though she has a good shot (more on that below). Okay, so now we have Blanchett, Ryan and Swinton. Somehow, it appears that Blanchett is looking a bit iffy the longer this is drawn out (can’t imagine why, she was great) and Ryan just doesn’t seem to have an upset in her … which is ironic cuz she’s plays upset pretty well in Gone Baby Gone. So, out of my retarded deduction I’m going with Swinton.
Should Win: The one that’s going to loose. Ronan! What a fantastic performance. The young brat manages to upstage World War 2 for God’s sake! But, really, I’d be thrilled if either Blanchett or Swinton got this award. Esp. Swinton, an actress I have long been in love with, Narnia lameness aside.
Should Have Been Nominated: Lindsey Lohan’s limb losing, stripper doppelganger in I Know Who Killed Me. It doesn’t get any worse than that, which, as a fan of bad, is a good!
Please Don’t Give This To: Dee is most certainly in the running. Um: why? Why nominate such a short and, while serviceable, forgettable performance. Look, I happened to enjoy American Gangster but I certainly didn’t come out of it thinking, gee, that Dee blew me away. That’s because it didn’t! This is, like, a sympathy vote or something? I have no idea how Dee got this far in the contest while still having a chance but I have to believe that logic and taste will prevailed when voters actually get around to watching her three frickin minutes of screen time.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood😆
  • Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
  • Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
  • Jason Reitman, Juno
  • Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Will Win: Do we even need to speculate? Sure Schnabel has a chance (and for good reason) but let’s not even go there. The Coens will win and that’s fine because it will be cool to see co-directors win an Oscar for the first time ever.
Should Win: Again, the Coens are awesome but they suffer from the fatal flaw of not being named Paul Thomas Anderson.
Should Have Been Nominated: David Fincher. How could anybody miss that obvious choice? Watch Zodiac again, it’s an amazing piece of filmmaking. Meticulous and able to focus on micro details (even shots of paper attain a hypnotic lure) as well as macro time sweeping period coolness.
Please Don’t Give This To: Jason Reitman. The fact that he got in over Atonement’s Joe Wright sickens me. Seriously, anybody with a film school degree could have directed Juno. Few could have made Atonement. And while Juno is a tiny bit better in many respects, it is surely not the better directed picture. Not even close.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Brad Bird, Ratatouille
  • Diablo Cody, Juno
  • Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton😆
  • Tamara Jenkins, The Savages
  • Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl

Will Win: (grits teeth) Honest to blog, the Stripper will win for Juno. I don’t know about you but I have a love/hate relationship with the words of that film. Half of me, then, is cool with a win for Diablo. The other half thinks she’s just a really lucky blogger with a calculated gimmick of a persona.
Should Win: I’m torn between Ratatouille and Clayton. I’m going with Clayton however for its sublime subtlety even despite its third act issues.
Should Have Been Nominated: I think original and I think The Host. No film last year captured the imagination through humor and monstrous horror.
Please Don’t Give This To: Thank god that piece of indie poop Lars and his skanky real girl nonsense is DOA on Oscar night cuz if it had a shot I would have a shoot too, a shot-gun.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood😆
  • Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
  • Christopher Hampton, Atonement
  • Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Sarah Polley, Away From Her

Will Win: What?! Diving Bell might win this??? I can’t believe my ears so I’m going with the safe bet and saying the Coens will win their second writing Oscar.
Should Win: Paul. Thomas. Anderson. That’s all there is to it. The Academy won’t give Anderson director or producer so why not award his visionary script? It’s easily the best of the bunch because Anderson though outside the box (or page as it were) and completely reimagined the source material.
Should Have Been Nominated: Vanderbilt’s Zodiac script cuts deep.
Please Don’t Give This To: I’m a bit worried that Diving Bell is looking sparkly this far into the race. I love the film but the screenplay is not what we celebrate about it. It’s a guy thinking to himself as nurses are shouting the alphabet at him.

The Rest

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  • Persepolis
  • Ratatouille😆
  • Surf’s Up

Will Win: Easy, Ratatoulle.
Should Win: For the first time in this new category’s history I actually want a Pixar film to win.
Should Have Been Nominated: Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Why? Because, as the theme song says, it’s number one in the hood, G.
Please Don’t Give This To: Surf’s Up (humph, like it has a chance—Happy Feet this is not).

BEST ART DIRECTION

  • American Gangster
  • Atonement
  • The Golden Compass
  • Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo, Sweeney Todd😆
  • There Will Be Blood

Will Win: Sweeny Todd will win. Dante Ferretti is a total favorite.
Should Win: And it should! At least the film got something right.
Should Have Been Nominated: No contest. The best dressed set of the year is Sunshine for the intelligence, practicality and visionary layout of the space station. This is not a random sci-fi design.
Please Don’t Give This To: Dreamgirls. Oh, wait, that was last year.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • The Assassination of Jesse James…
  • Atonement😆
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Roger Deakins, No Country for Old Men
  • There Will Be Blood

Will Win: Very hard to call. I’m not buying the logic that Deakins will cancel himself out as he was nominated against himself in Assassination. Like anyone is going to vote for that film (though its best feature is it’s cinematography)
Should Win: Atonement for the quality of the intimate individual shots and breathtaking scope of the large ones. But the DPs on all films are worthy to tell the truth.
Should Have Been Nominated: Zodiac. (catching a theme here?)
Please Don’t Give This To: None. All have earned the right to be here. What a strong year for visuals!

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • Across the Universe
  • Jacqueline Durran, Atonement
  • Elizabeth: The Golden Age
  • La Vie en Rose
  • Sweeney Todd😆

Will Win: Most say Sweeny Todd will get a win for costumes but I’m betting on Atonement. It needs to win something after all.
Should Win: Sweeny Todd.
Should Have Been Nominated: That’s a trick question because if I answer it means I’m… um, you know: a Broadway fan.
Please Don’t Give This To: Speaking of Broadway, the horrid Across the Universe.

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • No End in Sight😆
  • Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
  • Sicko
  • Taxi to the Dark Side
  • War/Dance

Will Win: No End has it’s Oscar in sight. God, I suck.
Should Win: In a bad year for documentaries, No End In Sight stands as the best and most socially relevant. It’s not well made, it’s just well spoken.
Should Have Been Nominated: King of Kong (I guess).
Please Don’t Give This To: I would say Sicko but I haven’t seen it.

BEST EDITING

  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Into the Wild
  • No Country for Old Men😆
  • There Will Be Blood

Will Win: Not sure why everyone is getting all worked up over Bourne. Sure it’s a wonderfully put-together film but so were the other two. How about we celebrate Greengrass while we’re at it. So I’m playing it safe by saying that the film to win Best Picture will also be the one to nab Best Editing. Seems logical.
Should Win: Actually I’m going with No Country on this one.
Should Have Been Nominated: Redacted first for its innovation. The editing was the movie! Next is Zodiac. The surefooted editing gave that film its contemplative, historic and anything but breezy edge.
Please Don’t Give This To: Into the Wild. Overrated.

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM

  • Beaufort (Israel)😆
  • The Counterfeiters (Austria)
  • Katyn (Poland)
  • Mongol (Kazakhstan)
  • 12 (Russia)

Will Win: The worst slot of Foreign Language nominees ever. Who will win? Who cares? If pressed to guess I’ll go with the Counterfeiters for the simple reason that it’s about the holocaust.
Should Win: Israel needs an Oscar over some BS Austria guilt deflecting see-Jews-were-in-on-it-too! film.
Should Have Been Nominated: Where to start? I know, how about anything other than what’s here. 4 Months, 3 Weeks is the most notorious snub.
Please Don’t Give This To: Anybody! Grr.

BEST MAKEUP

  • La Vie en Rose
  • Norbit
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End😆

Will Win: There’s two things voters love. Old people makeup and fat people makeup. The fact that the abomination Norbit got nominated is a shame and people hate Pirates too much to give it some love so the Rose gets this laud by default.
Should Win: Pirates. Depp had, like, ten eyes!
Should Have Been Nominated: My powdered ass. Hell, how should I know?
Please Don’t Give This To: Norbit

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • Dario Marianelli, Atonement😆
  • The Kite Runner
  • Michael Clayton
  • Ratatouille
  • 3:10 to Yuma

Will Win: Praise be to God, Atonement! Click-clack.
Should Win: Atonement, sucka! I’m a huge fan of Dario’s work. He’s the best new composer out there. Piano scores are making a big comeback and that’s fantastic.
Should Have Been Nominated: Don’t get me started on Johnny Greenwood’s snub. It shows that this category needs to be revamped. And, really, why give 3:10 to Yuma a nom rather than Nick Cave’s work in The Assassination of Jesse James?
Please Don’t Give This To: James Newton Howard. The guy gets nominated too much and, honestly, does anyone really remember the score to Michael Clayton anyways?

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  • ”Falling Slowly,” Once😆
  • ”Happy Working Song,” Enchanted
  • ”Raise It Up,” August Rush
  • ”So Close,” Enchanted
  • ”That’s How You Know,” Enchanted

Will Win: Yeah, like Enchanted needed three nominations. Does that mean a split? It did with the thrice nominated Dreamgirls last year so Once will get its Oscar, once.
Should Win: Once. The song stands out and because it’s the only decent movie nominated in this category.
Should Have Been Nominated: The “I like your booty but I’m not gay” song from Aqua Teen. I’m serious.
Please Don’t Give This To: August Rush. Out of principal.

BEST SOUND EDITING

  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • No Country for Old Men😆
  • Ratatouille
  • There Will Be Blood
  • Transformers

Will Win: Waaaaaa, I’ve been nominated 20 times without a win, Kevin O’Connell says. Better than never being nominated at all like the rest of us, douche!
Should Win: No Country. Why? Because you don’t even realize there isn’t music until after it’s over. Brave and brilliant to rely solely on sound design but the gamble paid off with a creepy and memorable atmosphere. Love it.
Should Have Been Nominated: Zodiac. A lot is going on this movie that we can only hear. I get shivers just thinking about it.
Please Don’t Give This To: Transformers. Feeling sorry for a rich sound guy is like feeling sorry for a someone’s pet monkey (I have no idea what that means).

BEST SOUND MIXING

  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • No Country for Old Men😆
  • Ratatouille
  • 3:10 to Yuma
  • Transformers

Will Win: A win for sound editing means a win for mixing. No Country will win because people will remember Bardem’s footsteps in the hotel. How could they forget?
Should Win: Again, No Country. It’s all sound!
Should Have Been Nominated: Again, again, again: Zodiac.
Please Don’t Give This To: Transformers. It sucks when big budget films win (see also: Bay’s Pearl Harbor) just because they’re louder

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • The Golden Compass
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End😆
  • Transformers

Will Win: Transformers.
Should Win: Pirates. CGI helped this film stand as the best Pirates of the trilogy. The only good one to date actually. The effects helped take the fantasy to another level. I still remember the underwater escape.
Should Have Been Nominated: Old skool, Lawnmower Man-esq CGI is making a comeback so I’d go with Aqua Teen for their mind blowingly blocky CGI stuff. “you can’t stop time Lincoln, hahaha”
Please Don’t Give This To: Transfoirmers. The CGI robot stuff is ironically the worst thing about a film named Transformers. It just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the world that Bay created.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

  • Freeheld
  • La Corona (The Crown)
  • Salim Baba
  • Sari’s Mother

Will Win: Um, one’s about AIDS so… that’s kind of automatic.
Please Don’t Give This To: Barak Obama. The guy seems to be wining everything and I wouldn’t be surprised if they just randomly gave him one.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT

  • I Met the Walrus
  • Madame Tutli-Putli
  • Meme Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)
  • My Love (Moya Lyubov)
  • Peter & the Wolf

Will Win: I Met the Walrus, though it’s mean to talk about Oprah that way.
Please Don’t Give This To: I’ll die if My Love gets this. Just kidding.

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT

  • At Night
  • Il Supplente (The Substitute)
  • Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)
  • Tanghi Argentini
  • The Tonto Woman😆

Will Win: The Tonto Woman. Because anything connected to Elmore Leonard should win. This was adapted from a short story and so was 3:10 to Yuma so maybe voters will feel sorry for leaving Yuma out and reward this other Leonard film.
Should Have Been Nominated: I’m telling you, the short film feature on Inland Empire where David Lynch cooks is brilliant. But nobody listens.

Review: The Signal

The cerebral (cortex) horror film “The Signal” is proof that a production doesn’t need a big budget or stars to blow your mind. It needs an idea. Quite simply, the film is about a wonky signal that, one night, invades minds as well as the very nature and fidelity of reality. This is the second time I’ve seen “The Signal” and each time I’m hit with is the notion that everything I see in this perception-based thriller must be questioned. If this well tuned “Signal” must be reduced to a classification then let it be said that it is a bit of a zombie movie, a bit of a mass media satire, a bit of “rage” movie a la “28 Days Later” and a big ole riff on Steven King’s magnificent cellphone zombie novel titled “Cell.” In other words, it’s everything “Diary of the Dead” tries to be, minus the horror-reducing auteurist calculations.

Similar to “Diary of the Dead,” “The Signal” opens with a wink to the audience as low budget b-horror movie is interrupted by a strange, swirling signal that practically hypnotizes the audience too. This mystery signal of unknown origins has begun its deadly transmission and on the night to end all nights, humanity falls victim to the “panic, paranoia, rage, extreme suggestibility…” caused by all televisions and cell phones. Here is a horror film in which the media is the monster. Somehow, that feels right. This strange, penetrating signal is able to transmit, then transmutate our image obsessed civilization into a brainless horde. Through its characters, the film watches with fascination as mankind devolves into his primal id self, transforming, as the protagonist notes, “edicate into anarchy.”

Written and directed by David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry (a threefer!), “The Signal” radiates with frenetic zest. Their transmission is anything but static. The film is told in chapters and, taking on different sections, each director adds a fresh new take on both new narrative events and events we’ve seen earlier, albeit from a different perspective. Pretty soon, each take on reality blurs the plot to the point of dizziness. All stories dance around a love triangle of survivors that may or may not be infected themselves. The basic grabber is that the girl (Robin Acker) everyone is after is trapped in some airport terminal as two men, one her crazy even before the signal boyfriend, and the other, the more sensitive “there for you” guy pal, do everything in their power to “get to her.” What will that accomplish in the grand scheme of things? Nothing but when the world’s gone to hell you got to do something to keep your mind occupied. From social evasions to gruesome beheadings, the lengths these men go to would be hilarious if it wasn’t so scary. It’s romantic and it’s a comedy but this is anything but a Matthew McConaughey rom-com. It’s a zom-com! The violence comes quick and comes nasty and randomness in which man bites man is where the absurd humor comes in.

The shifting point-of-view/point-askew shaky reality plot device gives the production the freedom to explore its concept with as much deadpan fun as dead seriousness. In that sense, “The Signal” is America’s answer to England’s “28 Days Later” with as many laughs as that country’s “Shaun of the Dead.” Bonus! And since I’m all about trying to spot “The Signal’s” many possible influences, the film intellectually plays out in the vein of David Cronenberg’s postmodern classic “Videodrone” in that it presents a thinly veiled diatribe against the relentless nature of mass media that, like the “infected” characters in this movie, invents new digitally inscribed realities rather than projecting them as they are. This challenging film seems to be saying that while we ALL may be infected by the signal, we just need to find a way to tune out the ubiquitous “noise” of pop culture. There’s no way to eradicate it, we just need to learn how to mediate it. “This Signal” is not just one of the best films to come out of fruitful slate of zombie films but one of the best of the year, period.

Grade: A-

Review: Diary of the Dead

Seeking to return to his trailblazing indie days, George A. Romero has made an unorthodox fictional documentary titled “Diary of the Dead.” Shot with a low budget brio, the rough and self-aware “Diary” is about a film crew that attempts to navigate a zombie apocalypse. The hook of Romero’s story is that the crew seeks to “shoot the dead” with cameras instead of bullets. “Diary” is a film seen entirely through the point of view of said camera and, thus, locates the new trend of real-time horror movies started by “Cloverfield” just a few weeks ago. “Cloverfield” may have been released first but Romero has been sitting on “Diary” for quite some time so I credit him with this trend. Most importantly, the filmmaker has clearly tapped into this Age of Youtube we live (and watch) in and regardless of what I personally feel about his new work, its ability to capture the zeitgeist vis-à-vis with his zombie series must be noted.

Flame On

Jumper Review

What’s Good: Having always been interesting in quantum tunneling (it is not theoretically impossible for matter to move anywhere in the universe), I like how, instead of time travel, this is a fantasy film about spatial travel. The premise is a solid one.
What’s Not: But the film doesn’t jump beyond the premise. It touches upon some mythology issues (the history of the jumpers and those chasing them) but is ultimately uninterested in developing them. Like, this character can go anywhere and all he does is sit atop the sphinx in his lawn chair. Speaking of undeveloped, Rachael Bilson is about as interesting as a doorknob.

This fantasy film has been brought to you by Doug Liman of “Swingers,” “Go,” “Bourne Identity” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” fame. The commonality is that Liman makes films about cocky people as well as films about characters who possess enormous undercurrents of power… and are cocky about it. “Jumper” finds both traits and zaps them into its young and dumb protagonist, a rouge brat played by Haden Christensen with mommy issues and a proclivity for, oh nothing, tweaking the time and space continuum. Kids these days. As a painfully protracted prologue tells us, every since he was a teen David Rice as been able to jumps through self-perpetuated wormholes that can take him to anyplace he imagines. As we come to find out, David uses his power to attain wealth by cosmically tunneling into bank vaults and impressing girls. We, on the other hand, are rendered powerless to jump the hell out of the theater (sorry, every lame critic is required by law to used that bad line). C+

Flame On

Indivdual Awards For 2007

Director

  1. Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
  2. Bong Joon-ho, The Host
  3. David Fincher, Zodiac
  4. Edgar Wright, Hot Fuzz
  5. Joe Wright, Atonement

Performances of the Year

  1. Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood (best actor)
  2. Robert Carlyle, 28 Weeks Later
  3. Kurt Russell, Death Proof
  4. Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises
  5. Kate Dickie, Red Road (best actress)
  6. John Cusack, 1408
  7. Dallas Roberts, 3:10 To Yuma (best supporting actor)
  8. Christian Bale, Rescue Dawn/I’m Not There/3:10 to Yuma
  9. Kate Blanchette, Golden Age/I’m Not There/Hot Fuzz
  10. Saoirse Ronan, Atonement (best supporting actress)
  11. Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood
  12. Vincent Cassel, Eastern Promises
  13. Chris Evans, Sunshine
  14. Russell Crowe, American Gangster and 3:10 to Yuma
  15. George Clooney, Michael Clayton

For Full List…
Flame On