Category Archives: Marion Cotillard

Inception: A Cinematic Dream

The modern American blockbuster is without a doubt a hive of deplorable, inarticulate nonsense. In the past few years we’ve been “treated” to films like “Transformers,” “Twilight” and “2012.” These are event films – movies only meant to earn money by offering big budget effects and supposed escapism. It’s hard to say American audiences deserve a masterpiece blockbuster after spending so much money on garbage like this but this summer delivered the first major film of the decade with Christopher Nolan’s “Inception.” The film has a wonderful case of classic cinematic ambiguity – something that has been thrown away by even the most artful users of its design (Martin Scorsese, we all saw “Shutter Island” – you can do better).

The film has a very intricate plot, involving a dream thief or “extractor” named Cobb (Leonardo Dicaprio, in a role characteristically similar to his in “Shutter Island” but acceptably so because the character is much more deeply written and performed less extravagantly than in Scorsese’s flick) who, with a team of highly trained individuals including his partner-in-crime Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), will remove a simple thought or idea from someone by kidnapping them and then tapping into their dream. Cobb is hired by Saito (Ken Watanabe) to perform inception – the seemingly impossible act of planting an idea in one’s head unconsciously (so that the receiver of said idea is unaware they are the victim of inception). Cobb hires a new team including Ariadne (Ellen Page), Eames (Tom Hardy) and Yusuf (Dileep Rao) to research their target, Robert Fisher Jr. (Cillian Murphy), whom Saito wants to dismantle his dying father’s company. The team enters Fisher’s dream, but Cobb’s daunting past and inability to control his malicious dead wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) from entering the dream turns the mission upside down.

The film is the third in a series of modern films about the dream. The first was the groundbreaking 1999 film “The Matrix” directed by the Wachowskis and the second was Michel Gondry’s mind-erasing low budget feature “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” The Matrix was a cunning film, using the sleeping human mind as a metaphor for the many different ways we are unconsciously controlled by the world sociologically both by government and the media. The characters’ stasis resulted in their ability to control their environment based on their understanding of its rules and of their “programming.” In “Eternal Sunshine,” Gondry portrayed the effects of memory erasure and through both his directing style, Ellen Kuras’ underrated cinematography, Charlie Kaufman’s script, Jon Brion’s score and the performances of Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, he was able to show the unconscious psychological effects of dreaming and by its process that we make life decisions.

Nolan’s film feels like a lurid dream after a marathon of those two films. In “Inception,” Nolan uses the ambiguity of his ending (an open ending that questions whether or not Cobb has been dreaming the whole time) to create the mood and metaphors of his film. Is Cobb dreaming or not? In fact, are we dreaming? It is in this sense that Nolan is being compared to Kubrick in the way that “2001: A Space Odyssey” is able to break the barrier from questioning the film to questioning one’s own existence. Nolan performs inception through the act of making this film – by placing a simple thought into his audience’s mind, therefore changing the way we think about the possibilities of how we decode cinema. Last year, James Cameron successfully duped audiences all over the world into thinking he had created the new “2001: A Space Odyssey” with his unnervingly boring and useless “Avatar” (he even told Charlie Rose this was his intention), but little did he know that Nolan would beat him artistically by a long shot. “Inception” will last, “Avatar” will not.

Nolan has been getting compared to Kubrick, and for good reason. In films like “Eternal Sunshine” and Cronenberg’s “Naked Lunch” – the cinematography works with the concept of the film. In “Eternal Sunshine,” the camera is often set up in such an unorthodox way that it feels like you’re in a dream. The films feel like dreams or hallucinations because they are filmed as such, with characters often changing point of view. It breaks the classical style of cinematography in a way that we are able to delve into the concept of the film. This is Nolan’s fifth film working with cinematographer Wally Pfister, who has always done an excellent job (his work on the Batman films in terms of their looks are impeccable and quite similar to Frank Miller’s comic style). In “Inception,” Pfister does not stray from his particular style of shooting. At first glance this could seem to be the film’s only problem – but it isn’t. Interestingly, this is where one can begin to question the ending of the film. Is the cinematography of the world we see within the dreams the same as the real world because the real world is a dream world? The beauty of “Inception” is its ambiguity and that the viewer has the choice in how they want to the film to end.

What’s interesting about Nolan’s film making style is that he doesn’t have Kubrick’s misanthropy – his style both works on a level that transcends the modern blockbuster in terms of the audience’s thought process and also in a way that embraces current trends through action sequences and big name stars. Nolan doesn’t have Kubrick’s madness and is working in a time where one’s artistic intentions must be held back if one has monetary expectations to fulfill. Thus his films will never be as consummately ambiguous but he really seems to be the only one who’s trying. Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” had the makings of being a modern day version of Jack Clayton’s unabashedly ambiguous “The Innocents” starring Deborah Kerr (which happens to be one of Marty’s favorites) but his adherence to the source material stunted what could have been his best work in years.

Nolan does take a leap of faith in the fact that these people are so incredibly able to control their dreams. Very few dreams allow the sleeper to keep such a focus on one idea, let alone completely several missions. We could assume that the devices that put Cobb and his team to sleep allow them to work at a different level of consciousness, but that is never addressed. When Page’s character Ariadne joins the team, she is almost immediately able to work seamlessly in the dream state. Again, this could lend itself to the concept of the ending of the film as the introduction to the film’s ambiguity. The team’s unbelievable ability to work within the dream could be a dream itself – conjured up by Cobb’s father (played by Michael Caine). Caine’s few scenes in the film – specifically placed – add another level of intrigue as to whether or not Cobb is in control.

There are several more reasons why the film works on so many levels. First of all, the music transcends the film world into the real world. In the film, Cobb and Arthur use Edith Piaf’s “Non Je Ne Regrette Rien” (translated roughly to “I regret nothing”) to alert themselves that soon they’ll wake into either the real world or another level of dreaming (if they’ve set themselves up to dream within a dream). A few years back, Cotillard won an Academy Award for playing Piaf in the biopic “La Vie En Rose.” Interestingly, Mal (Cotillard’s character) is a character whom Cobb feels great regret for and in his dreams it is her appearance that is the first sign of danger in the mission at hand. This motif is Nolan’s indication of the transcendent potential of film itself. Also interesting is Hans Zimmer’s score for the film. It consists of very loud and deep horns that rise up very similarly to John Williams’ “Jaws” theme. However, their similarity to the rousing open notes of Piaf’s number is eerily allusive. In fact, there’s a comparison that’s been floating on the internet that undoubtedly proves this determination.

Another interesting aspect of the film is its use of computer generated effects. Nolan is infamous for being very anti-CGI and in “Inception” he utilizes them in a very particular way. The effects are far from perfect, and like the camera effects used in “Eternal Sunshine,” they mirror the concept of the dream style cinematography. Visions within one’s dream are not entirely perfect and neither are the special effects of the film. They seem detached – like an unfinished thought.

The characters of the film are also essential, and the performances of the actors only rectify their necessity to the concept. Dicaprio is in top form – Cobb is probably his best role to date – not too understated, but still mysterious. Leo’s a master of the conflicted in that he never overacts. Dicaprio portrays Cobb on two main levels – one that is absolutely in control and the other that shows a distance, which may suggest that he in fact is not in control. Cobb is a very distressed man, who holds all of his secrets within. When Ariadne lets them out, all hell breaks loose. Page also creates a distance to her character – like someone thought up in a dream but that may also be more aware than the film initially suggests. Ariadne is hired as the “architect” of Fisher’s dream but soon becomes more interested in finding out what Cobb’s been hiding. It almost seems as if she has an alternate motive, in that she could be the one trying to attempt inception on him. That and her mysterious connection to Caine’s character are also conjecture toward Nolan’s big cinematic question.

Hardy and Gordon-Levitt are also superb in the film. While the performances of Dicaprio and Page are excellent – it’s these two who sort of ground Cobb and Ariadne’s laboriousness with a subtle sense of humor. Even Murphy’s performance is crucial – playing the same kind of familiar distance to Page and Dicaprio (in certain parts, such as the Hoth-like mountain base sequence, he seems to fit in the process just fine). It’s also apparent that Nolan, in his casting decisions, is very concerned with having only good-looking people in his films.

For all the reasons that the ending of “Inception” is seemingly explained by certain aspects, there is a major aspect of the film that denies the concept that Cobb is dreaming the entire film. The film goes out of its way to over-explain the rules of dream extracting. Both Cobb, Arthur and Eames have to educate the very new Ariadne on the guidelines of how they do what they do and how her job as architect is the most essential. She is tasked with learning how to make the impossible possible, through maze-making lessons with Arthur in which he teaches her how to construct Escher-like structures (an artist whose work strongly influences the film – to understand Escher is the first step in being able to conceptualize the film). Most of these scenes feature only Arthur and Ariadne. They are the few scenes in the film that do not feature Cobb at all. In all of best films of this sub-genre of the ambiguous film, the character whose sanity is questioned, such as Kerr’s Miss Giddens in “The Innocents” and Peter Weller’s Bill Lee in “Naked Lunch,” is in the film at all times. It is entirely shot in their character’s point of view. If Ariadne and Arthur were in on a conspiracy then it would be apparent in their interactions away from Cobb.

We also learn that Cobb’s inability to let go of his deceased wife becomes extremely problematic in the dream extracting process. However, it is never really a problem in the so-called real world. Within the real world, Cobb has Yusuf conduct dream tests on him so that he can try to keep Mal trapped within his dreams so they can’t infect the others’ during the missions. While Ariadne’s obsession with freeing Mal from Cobb seems almost too intense to not be intentional, it seems as though she’s so out of the loop that it would appear impossible for her to be the wiser. However this could all be controlled by a greater power and the only way to get Cobb to free himself is to make himself think he’s in a dream. Again, Both Page and Dicaprio’s performances subtly steer into both territories of the real and of the concept.

There is one small scene that is so ostensibly vague that it must be considered against all other arguments. After the first major sequence, we find Cobb sitting in a hotel room speaking on the phone with his children. The conversation is awkward, mostly about how Cobb isn’t sure if he’ll ever return home and that Mal is in fact dead. On the first level of the film, it appears to be a very heartfelt scene of a father trying to reach out to his children. If you look deeper within the concept of Nolan’s ending, the scene could imply it’s all part of Cobb’s dream – an insinuation of the control he may be under. However, the scene ends with Cobb twirling Mal’s spinning top (known as his “totem,” one of the main motifs of the film) and putting a gun to his head. If the top teeters and falls this means that he is in fact in the real world. If it continues to perfectly spin, he knows he’s in a dream. Cobb puts the gun to his head and then puts it down when he sees the top fall. It’s as if he subconsciously knows he may be in a dream. This suggests that he may in fact be more in control than Nolan is letting on through his concept. It could also infer that after the final spin of the top at the end of the film that it indeed does fall and Cobb has finally come home both mentally and physically.

“Inception” is a rare film for our times. It’s a high concept, Kubrick-style film disguised as a major Hollywood action thriller. Like a Kubrick film, it will split many audiences – but if the box office numbers are any indication of the film’s artistic success, it’s obvious that people might be ready for a little ambiguity in their local multiplex. Heck, even the porn version (“Insertion,” anyone?) of the movie would be more interesting than most of the shlock event movies that we are bombarded with every summer. This could be a major step forward in terms of left-brained film making in modern American cinema – a symptom that things could be looking brighter for a brand new era of young directors. Directors like Marc Webb (“(500) Days of Summer”) and Neill Blomkamp (“District 9”) proved that there’s still artistic talent that is eager to step up to the plate. However, Nolan goes a step further – into territory no one expected. He might be the best thing we’ll get to our Kubrick – if he doesn’t go crazy.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Christopher Nolan, Ellen Page, Inception, Leonardo Dicaprio, Marion Cotillard

The 80th Annual Academy Awards

It’s a good night… a good night… The biggest win of the night for me personally was Marion Cotillard’s win for “La Vie En Rose” and I’m very happy that fellow movie nerd Diablo Cody got the gold. “No Country For Old Men” was the biggest winner of the night, not my first choice, but it is a deserving film and I’m glad that it will now get a bigger audience. Tilda Swinton, one of my favorite actresses, was an upset winner for “Michael Clayton” but her speech made up for it. The win for “Once” was also very touching and I hope that film and its soundtrack gets more attention (it’s truly the little film that did this year). A great year for film, a great Oscar ceremony. Bring Jon Stewart back, he’s perfect.

For anyone who watched the pre-show extravaganza, WHY WAS GARY BUSEY THERE? Somebody got out of his harness…

Also, no American acting winners… that makes me strangely happy.

I am a little bugged that the show didn’t bring up all the living acting winners like I had said it would. The show only had two weeks of preparation, so I guess they had a lot of things they had to miss on. Also: the in memoriam list was slightly disappointing… no Brad Renfro or Sonny Bupp.

Well, next year we’ll be giving Heath his posthumous award for “The Dark Knight”… 🙂

Here’s the winners:

Best Picture

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

Best Director

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

Best Actor

* George Clooney – Michael Clayton
* Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood
* Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
* Tommy Lee Jones – In the Valley of Elah
* Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises

Best Actress

* Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
* Julie Christie – Away from Her
* Marion Cotillard – La Vie en Rose (La môme)
* Laura Linney – The Savages
* Ellen Page – Juno

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

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

Best Original Screenplay

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

Best Adapted Screenplay

* Atonement – Christopher Hampton, from Atonement, novel by Ian McEwan
* Away from Her – Sarah Polley, from “The Bear Came over the Mountain”, short story by Alice Munro
* The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Ronald Harwood, from Le scaphandre et le papillon, memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby
* No Country for Old Men – Joel and Ethan Coen, from No Country for Old Men, novel by Cormac McCarthy
* There Will Be Blood – Paul Thomas Anderson, from Oil!, novel by Upton Sinclair

Best Animated Feature

* Persepolis
* Ratatouille
* Surf’s Up

Best Animated Short

* I Met the Walrus
* Madame Tutli-Putli
* Even Pigeons Go To Heaven
* My Love
* Peter and the Wolf

Best Art Direction

* Arthur Max and Beth Rubino – American Gangster
* Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer – Atonement
* Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock – The Golden Compass
* Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
* Jack Fisk and Jim Erickson – There Will Be Blood

Best Cinematography

* Roger Deakins – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
* Seamus McGarvey – Atonement
* Janusz Kaminski – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
* Roger Deakins – No Country for Old Men
* Robert Elswit – There Will Be Blood

Best Costume Design

* Albert Wolsky – Across the Universe
* Jacqueline Durran – Atonement
* Alexandra Byrne – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
* Marit Allen – La Vie en Rose
* Colleen Atwood – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Best Documentary Feature

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

Best Documentary Short

* Freeheld
* La Corona
* Salim Baba
* Sari’s Mother

Best Film Editing

* Christopher Rouse – The Bourne Ultimatum
* Juliette Welfling – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
* Jay Cassidy – Into the Wild
* Roderick Jaynes – No Country for Old Men
* Dylan Tichenor – There Will Be Blood

Best Foreign Language Film

* Beaufort (Israel) in Hebrew
* The Counterfeiters (Austria) in German
* Katyń (Poland) in Polish
* Mongol (Kazakhstan) in Mongolian
* 12 (Russia) in Russian

Best Live Action Short

* At Night
* The Substitute
* The Mozart of Pickpockets
* Tanghi Argentini
* The Tonto Woman

Best Makeup

* Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald – La Vie en Rose
* Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji – Norbit
* Ve Neill and Martin Samuel – Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Best Original Score

* Dario Marianelli – Atonement
* Alberto Iglesias – The Kite Runner
* James Newton Howard – Michael Clayton
* Michael Giacchino – Ratatouille
* Marco Beltrami – 3:10 to Yuma

Best Original Song

* Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova – “Falling Slowly” from Once
* Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz – “Happy Working Song” from Enchanted
* Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz – “So Close” from Enchanted
* Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz – “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted
* Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas – “Raise It Up” from August Rush

Best Sound Editing

* Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg – The Bourne Ultimatum
* Skip Lievsay – No Country for Old Men
* Randy Thom and Michael Silvers – Ratatouille
* Matthew Wood – There Will Be Blood
* Ethan van Der Ryn and Mike Hopkins – Transformers

Best Sound Mixing

* Scott Millan, David Parker, and Kirk Francis – The Bourne Ultimatum
* Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, and Peter Kurland – No Country for Old Men
* Randy Thom, Michael Semanick, and Doc Kane – Ratatouille
* Paul Massey, David Giammarco, and Jim Steube – 3:10 to Yuma
* Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell, and Peter J. Devlin – Transformers

Kevin O’Connell increased his record number of nominations to 20 in the Best Sound Mixing category. He is still without a win.

Best Visual Effects

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

See you next year Jon Stewart… I hope… (if not Zach Galifianakis will be fine).

2 Comments

Filed under Daniel Day-Lewis, Diablo Cody, Javier Bardem, Jon Stewart, Juno, La Vie En Rose, Marion Cotillard, Michael Clayton, No Country For Old Men, Once, oscars, There Will Be Blood, Tilda Swinton

Oscar Preview

Amid months of controversy and an atrocious Golden Globes show – all attributed to the writer’s strike, the validity and the actual chances of an Academy Awards show seemed very hazy. The strike finally ended last Wednesday, and a sigh of relief was heard from movie fans around the country when the Oscar ceremony was officially re-ignited.

This year’s show is guaranteed to be very interesting. Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central is set to host for the second time in his career (his first hosting job was one of the best in recent Oscar history). There are certainly going to be plenty of jokes concerning the strike and its posthumous results, and it’s safe to say that that Stewart will not disappoint. Hopefully he’ll employ his fellow “Daily Show” cohorts and even the great Stephen Colbert for the show.

A big reason to watch the show is the fact that it is in its eightieth year. For every decade that the show has been aired, it is traditional to bring every living acting winner up to the stage in a grand exposition. It’s a very emotionally exciting event and we’ll get a rare chance to see the stars of yesteryear such as Luise Rainer (Oscar’s oldest winning actress) back on that glorious stage. Another honoree of the night will be famed art director Robert F. Boyle, who did the production design for classics like “The Birds” and “North By Northwest.” Boyle will be receiving the Academy Honorary Award.

As for the films up for the gold, there is a plethora of great cinematic achievement. “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country For Old Men” are leading the nominations with eight each, and with both of the films gaining a huge momentum it is very hard to determine who will own the night. On the other side of that momentum, “Atonement” has been on the decline after a slew of losses and general public disinterest.

Smaller films like “Juno” and “The Savages” also have a few chances to win some statues and it’s good to see the underdogs get their due. No matter what, this year’s Academy Awards broadcast is not a show to be missed by any movie fan.

Best Actor:
Daniel Day-Lewis (“There Will Be Blood”) is the standout performer in this group, and there’s no way that he’ll be beaten in this category. Johnny Depp was delightfully evil as the protagonist in “Sweeney Todd” and he deserves a statue but not this year. The other fellow noms including George Clooney for his charming yet flawed title character in “Michael Clayton,” Viggo Mortensen as the sickly cool Russian mob driver in “Eastern Promises,” and Tommy Lee Jones (“In the Valley of Elah”) were at the top of their game this year (although Jones should have been up for “No Country For Old Men” and not “Elah”). There is no question with this category; the Academy will go for the biggest show of the year and it will be Day-Lewis.

Who Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”
Who Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”
Snubbed: Ryan Gosling, “Lars and The Real Girl”

Best Actress:
The Academy loves to award the older nominees in this category and Julie Christie’s performance in the drama “Away From Her” will most likely bring her a second win (her last was in 1965 for “Darling”). Christie’s many wins up until the point have unfortunately overshadowed the tour de force performance by Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf in the French epic “La Vie En Rose.” Ellen Page was also adorably terrific and surprisingly mature in “Juno” and Laura Linney was quite affecting in the indie dramedy “The Savages” but this is not their year. As for Cate Blanchett who has become the first actress to be nominated twice for the same role for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”, she has a better chance in the supporting category.

Who Should Win: Marion Cotillard, “La Vie En Rose”
Who Will Win: Julie Christie, “Away From Her”
Snubbed: Keri Russell, “Waitress”

Best Supporting Actor:
No other performance this year has been as chillingly intense as Javier Bardem’s impressive role as the psychotic Anton Chigurh in “No Country For Old Men.” His fellow nominees also delivered strong performances such as the poignant Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild”, Casey Affleck’s brooding intensity in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”, and the transcendent achievement of Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton.” Phillip Seymour Hoffman was delightful and showed his range in “Charlie Wilson’s War”, but he was much better in “The Savages.” Nevertheless, Bardem is a shoo-in for this category and he deserves it.

Who Should Win: Javier Bardem, “No Country For Old Men”
Who Will Win: Javier Bardem, “No Country For Old Men”
Snubbed: Ben Foster, “3:10 to Yuma”

Best Supporting Actress:
Will it be the Academy favorite Cate Blanchett, who delivered a subtle yet powerful performance as Jude Quinn a.k.a. Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There” or will it be the stunningly realistic performance from Amy Ryan as the drug addled Boston mom who’s lost her daughter in “Gone Baby Gone?” Blanchett’s got the prestige and she certainly deserves a second statue (she got her first a few years ago for “The Aviator”) but Ryan has won a lot of critics’ awards and could possibly take the prize. However, the other three nominees also have a really good chance of winning. Thirteen-year-old Saorsie Ronan was splendid in “Atonement,” octogenarian Ruby Dee has a big chance after winning the SAG award for “American Gangster,” and Tilda Swinton could possibly pull an upset for her role in “Michael Clayton.” It’s most certainly the tightest race in any Oscar category this year.

Who Should Win: Cate Blanchett, “I’m Not There”
Who Will Win: Amy Ryan, “Gone Baby Gone”
Snubbed: Vera Farmiga, “Joshua”

Best Original Screenplay:
“Juno” has become both a critical and commercial success because of one woman: Diablo Cody. Her script for the indie film connects with people because of its unique dialogue and its genuine warmth. It’s a standout debut and she is completely worthy of any award Hollywood can give out. The other scripts including Nancy Oliver’s “Lars and the Real Girl,” Tony Gilroy’s “Michael Clayton,” Brad Bird’s “Ratatouille,” and Tamara Jenkins “The Savages” were all inspired and justifiably nominated but none were as impressive in their expression as Diablo Cody.

Who Should Win: “Juno” by Diablo Cody
Who Will Win: “Juno” by Diablo Cody
Snubbed: “The Darjeeling Limited” by Wes Anderson

Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Coen Brothers’ return to form came this year with “No Country For Old Men” and it is apparent that this success will lead them to gold. However, the real scribe who deserves the award in this category is Ronald Harwood. He took from both Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir and from interviews with the late French Elle editor’s hospital staff to pen the emotion filled script for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” Paul Thomas Anderson’s script for “There Will Be Blood” was unmistakably strong, as was Sarah Polley’s “Away From Her” and Christopher Hampton’s “Atonement” but they lacked the power of the heart-wrenching “Diving Bell.”

Who Should Win: “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” by Ronald Harwood
Who Will Win: “No Country for Old Men” by Joel and Ethan Coen
Snubbed: “Gone Baby Gone” by Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard

Best Director:
For sheer exhibition of showmanship and vision, this coveted award should go to Paul Thomas Anderson, who brought us the modern day “Citizen Kane” with his epic “There Will Be Blood.” Unfortunately, the Academy loves a comeback and the Coen Brothers could nab a double win for Best Director with their accomplished “No Country For Old Men.” Also, don’t count out artist/director Julian Schnabel for his wondrous portrait of life with “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” or Tony Gilroy for the cool Mamet-style direction of “Michael Clayton.” There could also be a surprise rush of love for Jason Reitman’s “Juno,” a film that wouldn’t have been what it was without his flair for comedy.

Who Should Win: Paul Thomas Anderson, “There Will Be Blood”
Who Will Win: Joel and Ethan Coen, “No Country For Old Men”
Snubbed: John Carney, “Once”

Best Picture:
It’s a tight race between the artistically brilliant “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country For Old Men.” The latter film is more accessible to a wider audience and has been racking up multiple awards, although “Blood” can’t be counted out due to its incredible style and power. “Atonement” could always be the surprise upset win (reminiscent of “Shakespeare in Love” beating “Saving Private Ryan” in 1999) but it’s lost a lot of momentum since the lackluster Golden Globes “ceremony.” “Michael Clayton” was terrific, but it’s just lucky to be nominated. As for the indie darling “Juno”, it was the certainly one of the best films of the year but is it the most deserving of its company in this group?

Who Should Win: “There Will Be Blood”
Who Will Win: “No Country For Old Men”
Snubbed: “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

The 80th Annual Academy Awards will air on Sunday Feb. 24 at 8:00 P.M.

Originally published in Framingham State College’s The Gatepost

3 Comments

Filed under Cate Blanchett, Daniel Day-Lewis, Diablo Cody, Javier Bardem, Jon Stewart, Juno, La Vie En Rose, Marion Cotillard, No Country For Old Men, oscars, The Savages, There Will Be Blood, Tilda Swinton

BAFTA Winners!

American films dominated the BAFTA awards this year, and I’m happy to see that Marion Cotillard is winning more and more awards. She’s the most deserving nominee in any category this year who might not win the big award on the 24th. I hope the Academy realizes this too.

Also, good job England… “The Lives of Others”… really? Wasn’t that up for a bunch of awards last year? It’s a undeniably great film, but let’s give “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” the chance it deserves.

Best Film

Atonement

* American Gangster
* The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen)
* No Country For Old Men
* There Will Be Blood

Best British Film

This is England

* Atonement
* The Bourne Ultimatum
* Control
* Eastern Promises

Best Foreign Language Film

The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen), Germany

* The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon), France/USA
* The Kite Runner, USA
* La Vie en Rose (La môme), France
* Lust, Caution (Se, jie), Hong Kong/Taiwan

Best Director

Ethan Coen and Joel Coen – No Country For Old Men

* Joe Wright – Atonement
* Paul Greengrass – The Bourne Ultimatum
* Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck – The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen)
* Paul Thomas Anderson – There Will Be Blood

Best Leading Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood

* George Clooney – Michael Clayton
* James McAvoy – Atonement
* Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises
* Ulrich Mühe – The Lives of Others

Best Leading Actress

Marion Cotillard – La Vie en Rose (La môme)

* Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
* Julie Christie – Away From Her
* Keira Knightley – Atonement
* Ellen Page – Juno

Best Supporting Actor

Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men

* Paul Dano – There Will Be Blood
* Tommy Lee Jones – No Country for Old Men
* Philip Seymour Hoffman – Charlie Wilson’s War
* Tom Wilkinson – Michael Clayton

Best Supporting Actress

Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton

* Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There
* Kelly MacDonald – No Country for Old Men
* Samantha Morton – Control
* Saoirse Ronan – Atonement

Best Animated Feature

Ratatouille

* Shrek the Third
* The Simpsons Movie

Best Screenplay – Adapted

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon) – Ronald Harwood

* Atonement – Christopher Hampton
* The Kite Runner – David Benioff
* No Country for Old Men – Ethan and Joel Coen
* There Will Be Blood – Paul Thomas Anderson

Best Screenplay – Original

Juno – Diablo Cody

* American Gangster – Steven Zaillian
* The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) – Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
* Michael Clayton – Tony Gilroy
* This Is England – Shane Meadows

Best Music

La Vie en Rose (La môme) – Christopher Gunning

* American Gangster – Marc Streitenfeld
* Atonement – Dario Marianelli
* The Kite Runner – Alberto Iglesias
* There Will Be Blood – Jonny Greenwood

Best Cinematography

No Country for Old Men – Roger Deakins

* American Gangster – Harris Savides
* Atonement – Seamus McGarvey
* The Bourne Ultimatum – Oliver Wood
* There Will Be Blood – Robert Elswit

Best Editing

The Bourne Ultimatum – Christopher Rouse

* American Gangster – Pietro Scalia
* Atonement – Paul Tothill
* Michael Clayton – John Gilroy
* No Country for Old Men – Roderick Jaynes

Best Production Design

Atonement – Sarah Greenwood/Katie Spencer

* Elizabeth: The Golden Age – Guy Hendrix Dyas/Richard Roberts
* Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Stuart Craig/Stephenie McMillan
* There Will Be Blood – Jack Fisk/Jim Erickson
* La Vie en Rose (La môme) – Olivier Raoux/Stanislas Reydellet

Best Costume Design

La Vie en Rose (La môme) – Marit Allen

* Atonement – Jacqueline Durran
* Elizabeth: The Golden Age – Alexandra Byrne
* Lust, Caution (Se, jie) – Pan Lai
* Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – Colleen Atwood

Best Sound

The Bourne Ultimatum – Kirk Francis/Scott Millan/Dave Parker/Karen Baker Landers/Per Hallberg

* Atonement – Danny Hambrook/Paul Hamblin/Catherine Hodgson/Becki Ponting
* No Country for Old Men – Peter Kurland/Skip Lievsay/Craig Berkey/Greg Orloff
* There Will Be Blood – Christopher Scarabosio/Matthew Wood/John Pritchett/Michael Semanick/Tom Johnson
* La Vie en Rose (La môme) – Laurent Zeilig/Pascal Villard/Jean-Paul Hurier/Marc Doisne

Best Special Visual Effects

The Golden Compass – Michael Fink/Bill Westenhofer/Ben Morris/Trevor Woods

* The Bourne Ultimatum – Peter Chiang/Charlie Noble/Mattias Lindahl/Joss Williams
* Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Tim Burke/John Richardson/Emma Norton/Chris Shaw
* Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – John Knoll/Charles Gibson/Hal Hickel/John Frazier
* Spider-Man 3 – Scott Stokdyk/Peter Nofz/Kee-Suk Ken Hahn/John Frazier/Spencer Cook

Best Make-Up & Hair

La Vie en Rose (La môme) – Jan Archibald/Didier Lavergne

* Atonement – Ivana Primorac
* Elizabeth: The Golden Age – Jenny Shircore
* Hairspray – Judi Cooper Sealy/Jordan Samuel
* Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – Ivana Primorac/Peter Owen

Best Short Animation

The Pearce Sisters – Jo Allen/Luis Cook

* Head Over Heels – Osbert Parker/Fiona Pitkin/Ian Gouldstone
* The Crumblegiant – Pearse Moore/John McCloskey

Best Short Film

Dog Altogether – Diarmid Scrimshaw/Paddy Considine

* Hesitation – Julien Berlan/Michelle Eastwood/Virginia Gilbert
* The One and Only Herb McGwyer Plays Wallis Island – Charlie Henderson/James Griffiths/Tim Key/Tom Basden
* Soft – Jane Hooks/Simon Ellis
* The Stronger – Dan McCulloch/Lia Williams/Frank McGuinness

Carl Foreman award for special achievement by a British director, writer or producer in their first feature film

Matt Greenhalgh – Control (writer)

* Chris Atkins – Taking Liberties (director/writer)
* Mia Bays – Scott Walker: 30 Century Man (producer)
* Sarah Gavron – Brick Lane (director)
* Andrew Piddington – The Killing of John Lennon (director/writer)

The Orange Rising Star Award (voted for by the public)

Shia LaBeouf

* Sienna Miller
* Ellen Page
* Sam Riley
* Tang Wei

1 Comment

Filed under Atonement, BAFTA, Daniel Day-Lewis, Diablo Cody, Javier Bardem, Marion Cotillard, No Country For Old Men, Shia Labeouf, The Lives of Others, Tilda Swinton