Tag Archive: Helen Mirren


It was a short and busy month, so I wasn’t able to watch as many films as I’d like.

Yes, even with the Oscars … in which I was supremely disappointed.  The statuettes were awarded pretty fairly, I thought, but the ceremony itself was for sh*t. Truly. The hosts were awful (and I like them both otherwise, so I won’t use a stronger expletive), the montages were uninspired, and the presentation of the lifetime achievements was abysmal. I have always had the Pollyanna attitude to see the annual Academy Awards gala as a magical night of dreams come true in recognition of film-making achievement.  But the suits and marketing execs are taking all the fun out of it, and this year I finally found myself siding with my infinitely more cynical friends who have poo-pooed the Oscars for years. So, I’ll just cross my fingers that next year it gets better again.

In the meantime, the few films I did see in the past month were memorable, for the most part. Here are some more movies to add to the February report card.

Film Grade Comment
The King’s Speech(2010)  A-
Now we know this film won the Best Picture Academy Award … and one for Best Actor, and Writing, and Directing. It is a very well-made film, but I personally did not think it was the bee’s knees of this year’s crop of nominees.  But that does not detract from the fact that this movie is very much worth seeing, with superb performances from Colin Firth and especially (I thought) Geoffrey Rush. It would be an A or even an A+ were it not for the sterilized and sorely detail-lacking snapshot of the challenging era in which it takes place.
RED(2010)  B-
RED stands for “Retired Extremely Dangerous,” and the REDsters are Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren. With a stellar cast like that (plus Mary-Louise Parker), I expected more.  There are some terrific gags, lots of things blowing up, and a bunch of shoot-outs – but incredibly the story still drags, and the sometimes the camera lingers on the “knowing expressions” of the characters … ugh.  I believe the treacly feel is due to the directing, which makes sense with Robert Schwentke (The Time Traveler’s Wife) at the helm.
Animal Kingdom(2010)  B+
If you don’t mind watching the ultimate trailer-trash-living-turned-murderous, this Aussie gem is the epitome of gritty thrillers. Marvelously menacing and memorable performances from the entire “criminal family” as well as good-guy cop Guy Pierce. The movie plods a bit in some places, and the demeanors of the characters – while appropriate – make it a bit difficult to relate to them. But upon reflection, it’s a film that crawls under your skin and makes an impression.

As always, let me know what you though of these flicks, if you saw them!

And the Winner Is…

It’s Academy Awards day.  Guess you know what this movie freak will be watching this evening. 

Stephen King, in his Entertainment Weekly column, made the excellent point that it’s the films we movie-lovers like to watch, not the goofy award shows—and I agree.  But for me, the spectacle of the Oscars has been a long-time institution connected to the film industry, and for good or ill, decisions made here about the year’s best influence upcoming projects, careers, and theater runs for months and years to come. So, like King, I’ll be watching with some snacks on tap, and I won’t be falling asleep before the end!

Everyone and his second cousin makes Oscar-winner predictions, so it feels rather silly to add to that melee, but I promised I would chime in, even though I have waited until the last minute to do so.  I don’t really want to predict as much as offer a few comments and some sincere hopes—most of which are not news to those who have talked to me over the past couple of months.

Best Picture

The commercial favorite is, of course, Avatar, and I do think chances are very good that this entertaining and technically advanced film will win.  I won’t be heartbroken (or surprised) if it does win, as it is wildly entertaining and groundbreaking in some ways for its effects.  However, it doesn’t have the depth of story that I’d like to see triumph.  What does? My personal favorite is District 9 for overall storyline and performances plus its genius combination of genres, and eye-popping action and effects on a small budget. People have argued that it won’t win because it’s a science-fiction movie … so, what is Avatar?

I’d also be quite pleased if The Hurt Locker took home the Best Picture statuette. It is deserving for its amazing performances, flawless pacing, fantastic cinematography, and more. The subject matter may be a bit narrow for the top prize, though many are hoping that if the film can’t take Best Picture, Kathryn Bigelow will snag Best Director (I’d love for that to happen especially if Avatar gets Best Pic!).

I’ve watched all three of these movies twice now, and I can say unequivocally that one of them should win. Any other choice from the ridiculous ten-strong category will be a travesty.

Actors

Unfortunately, I have not seen some of the films that feature the Best Actor nominees, so I’m all good with frontrunner Jeff Bridges winning.  I also haven’t seen some of the Best Actress performances, but I pray and hope that a serious actor like Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep takes it.  I like Sandra Bullock, especially in fun movies, but she is just not of the same caliber as many of the nominees. Neither are the films in which she appears, including this year’s The Blind Side. I’ve always said I’m no film snob, but I’m feeling like a bit of one in this case. Nonetheless, I will be sorely disappointed if the Razzies winner (or rather, loser) also takes home and Oscar.

Other Categories

There are not many categories this year that I feel very strongly about, so it will just be fun to watch who and what wins. There’s one exception, though.  For Animated Feature, I’m fervently hoping that Up, which I failed to see why everyone liked so much, doesn’t win.  My favorite of those animated films I’ve seen is Coraline (hooray, Neil Gaiman!), but I fear it may be too dark to prevail in its category.

Well, that’s it for me. Everyone have fun at your Oscar parties, or watching in the comfort of your easy chair, of ignoring the festivities altogether.  I’ll be back in a day or two with some reflections after the fact.

Cheers!

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