I was going to post this yesterday, but the Heath Ledger tragedy took priority and somehow talking about the Oscar race after his death seemed a little weird. I have to say that while I’m not enthused with this year’s selections, I agree with most of them. The only rant that I would have is Atonement and Michael Clayton Best Picture? Really? Does Cate Blanchett have blackmail material on the voters? She’s the new Tom Hanks, if she farts on screen she’ll get an Oscar Nomination. I hate Cate Blanchett, but I will admit she was strong in Elizabeth – in all her pasty face glory. Those were two of the worst films that I have seen all year. Love to see Juno got love. Atonement for best musical score? Are these people tone deaf? It was like nails on a chalkboard. I DESPISED the music in Atonement. Enchanted had THREE songs nominated and only one from Once? They couldn’t give Eddie Vedder a nod for his song from Into The Wild? Really? I liked Enchanted, didn’t love it and think it’s a tad overrated, but I thought the music was AWFUL and not that movie’s strong point. Where’s King of Kong for best Documentary? For those that care, here is the complete list.
Generally, I don’t report news like this on the site because I don’t have anything to say when someone dies. Especially someone that I don’t know. But I feel that I must comment on the death of Heath Ledger. He was probably one of my top 5 favorite actors. I loved everything that he’s done, he was always interesting, charismatic and made really good choices. Even when he wasn’t the star of a film and just part of an ensemble cast. Where most young stars play it safe, he took chances and his body of work was really diverse. Heath was found dead in a New York City apartment today. I’m not going to speculate on the cause of death. His talent will be missed.
Heath Ledger always enjoyed acting in school plays, and was usually cast in the lead. At the age of 10 he volunteered with a local theater company, and at 16 he landed his first professional role in Blackrock, a dead-serious Australian movie about rape and its aftermath. At 17 he played a gay cyclist on Sweat, a down-under TV series about elite athletes. He said he wanted that role because there were so few gays on television, he figured he could get some attention if he did the role justice. And he did. On the strength of Sweat, he was offered Roar, an action-adventure series for America’s Fox TV in 1997, with a pre-Felicity Keri Russell as the princess who loved him. True to the show’s title, Ledger, playing a fifth-century Celtic prince seeking vengeance for his brother’s murder, would roar before going into battle, but the show went out with a whimper in less than two months.
He was still virtually unknown in America when he played a young lad with a shady past wooing Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You, based on Shakespeare‘s Taming of the Shrew. In The Patriot he played Mel Gibson‘s son, kidnapped by the British. In A Knight’s Tale, very loosely based on Geoffrey Chaucer‘s The Knight’s Tale, Ledger swashbuckled and jousted with Rufus Sewell and established himself as a rising star. In Monster’s Ball he played Billy Bob Thornton‘s vomiting, suicidal son, in Lords of Dogtown he played the surf shop owner who took skateboarding to the extreme, and in Brokeback Mountain he played the manly ranch hand who herds sheep with Jake Gyllenhaal. He met his fiancé, Michelle Williams, on the set of Brokeback Mountain, and Gyllenhaal is their daughter’s godfather.
It’s a good thing that Cloverfield is only eighty minutes long [not including closing credits] – otherwise I might not have been able to leave the theatre afterward! As it was, I felt like I had been through an actual wringer when the lights came up.
Iron Man is one of the top 15 movies I’m looking forward to this year. I will say that I’m mixed on the first trailer. All of the Tony Stark bits were right on target. Exactly what I want and expect from an Iron Man film. But the in armor stuff with the planes at the end of the trailer looked terrible. I’m holding out hope that the movie will rock. Of course a big film like this has a video game attached. I watched the demo at Comic-Con and it looks gorgeous. Here are some brand new sceenshots from the game.
We have news on the video game for the Spiderwick Chronicles, including a ton of new screen shots. Players can choose to play as ANY of the three Grace children; each possessing unique abilities crucial to combating hordes of Goblins, hunting and capturing Faerie creatures and solving puzzles to successfully complete each mission. Players may also adventure through special tasks in the Spiderwick Estate as Thimbletack, the tiny Brownie who helps the Grace kids throughout their journey. Equipped with context sensitive controls for attacks and environment interaction, the game includes several combat elements, along with a creature collection component that allows players to log objects found during the journey into the Field Guide, earning the player new abilities, quest solutions or unlockable items.
Paul Thomas Anderson tends to make long, odd films that take a unique look at some aspect of its subject – hence a film about the porn business is really about family, for example – and There Will Be Blood is about many things, not all of them obvious.
Uwe Boll makes bad movies based on videogames – each more ambitious and each a more spectacular failure. Until now. In the Name of the King is Boll’s most ambitious film to date, but it is merely a failure – not a spectacular one.
I used to be one of those people who hated creating top 10 lists each year. I always found it kind of trite and cliche. Now find it an interesting exercise to see if I can remember even a third of the movies I saw, much less come up with a top ten list. This has been one of those years where nothing really excited me enough to attend a screening. So I probably only saw about 150 movies this year. Out of that short list here are my top 10 films of 2007. Followed by a quick parting shot at the worst.
10) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
The first two Pirates films are two of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t do the full walk-out because I had my Niece and Nephew with me. So I wondered the theater for 40 minutes and when I came back, they were still on that damn Island. I loathed everything about that film – especially Captain Jack Sparrow. A little of him goes a very long way. So needless to say I wasn’t looking forward to sitting through the 3rd and final installment, but something amazing happened, I loved Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. I thought the story worked really well, the set pieces were gorgeous, I didn’t find Sparrow as annoying – because he was used sparingly. It wasn’t as gross and slimy as the 2nd one and most of all everything made sense.
Picking ten films as the best of the year is difficult when you don’t get to see everything [and, frankly, even with every studio providing press screenings of every film, no one critic can see everything released in a given year]. So, then, out of the far too many movies I saw in 2007, these are the ten that most impressed me in one way or another.
Every year, I see way more movies than one would think healthy. Most of them are pleasant enough timewasters that entertain enough to be worth my hard-earned cash [yes, I have to pay for the bulk of my movies – some studios still haven’t figured out that Eclipse is not going to go away overnight]. Some, of course, are brilliant and provoke thought long after viewing. Others are of sufficient lack that I don’t just want my money back, I want my two hours [plus travel and waiting-in-line time] back. Here are the worst offenders [and be ready to flame me – some of these are on a lot of top ten lists].
The writers of National Treasure: Book of Secrets clearly spent more time on the film’s puzzle and action sequences than on character development. True, the puzzle and action sequences are worth seeing, but even the Indiana Jones pictures [which are a huge influence here] had more character.