Sunday, December 28, 2014

Archive: December, 2009

POSTED: Tuesday, December 22, 2009, 11:12 AM
Jeff Bridges for best actor? Gabourey Sibide for best actress? Avatar, best film?
 
Over the past week or two, with the announcements of the Golden Globe nominations, the Independent Spirit Award candidates and the year-end best lists from the National Board of Review (whoever they are), the AFI and key critics organizations (New York’s, Los Angeles’, Kalamazoo, Michigan’s), the contenders for the 2010 Oscars are beginning to take shape.
 
Even though Crazy Heart won’t open here until some time in the new decade, Bridges’ performance as Bad Blake, an over-the-hill, alcoholic country music star, has deservedly put the four-time Oscar-nominee at the top of the list for a best actor prize. (It’s a beautifully crafted turn, and Bridges does his own singing -- of tunes written by T-Bone Burnett.) The plus-size newcomer Sibide is building momentum for a best actress slot for her starring role in Lee Daniels’ Precious. And James Cameron’s epic sci-fi gorilla Avatar could bring Titanic’s King of the World back on the Academy Awards ceremony stage for another best director Oscar. Other titles, and names, to look for: The Hurt Locker, Up In the Air, Up, Fantastic Mr.Fox, George Clooney, Meryl Streep (again), Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria) and Carey Mulligan (An Education).
 
Nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, February 2. The ceremony is Sunday, March 7.
POSTED: Wednesday, December 9, 2009, 5:16 PM

The ten best movies of the last ten years?

The lists are flying left and right as the Oughts wind down, or wind up, and I’m not proud -- I’ll add my catalog of essential titles to the deliberations. Culling from my year-end best-of lists (and adding one glaring omission – how could I have overlooked the title responsible for the decade’s ultimate movie catchphrase, “I drink your milkshake”?), and revisiting work by the likes of the Andersons (Wes and Paul Thomas), the Coens (Joel and Ethan),  Clint Eastwood and Ang Lee (all with multiple contenders over the last decade), I’ve got the list down to the requisite ten.
 
Here goes (alphabetically):
 
Amelie (2001), with Audrey Tautou as a playing-with-fate café waitress, from the impossibly inventive director Jean-Pierre Jeunet
 
Brokeback Mountain (2005), the heartbreaking gay cowboy love story, with a sad, searing performance from the late Heath Ledger
 
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (2004): Even with Jim Carrey in the lead, this is great stuff -- a trippy, goofball study of love and memory, steeped in melancholy
 
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Wes Anderson makes stop-motion animation magic, and offers a witty but profound take on the nature of -- well, human nature. Not to mention the nature of well-dressed, well-spoken foxes, badgers and moles, too. For kids, for adults, for everyone.
 
Into the Wild (2007), Sean Penn directs this Great American road movie, a beautiful tragedy about the need for human connection, and what happens when the quest for solitude turns dark and dire
 
Michael Clayton (2007), George Clooney stars in Tony Gilroy’s endlessly satisfying legal thriller/existential drama (really – it’s been on HBO heavy rotation forever, and never disappoints)
 
Million Dollar Baby (2004), Hilary Swank’s Oscar-winning femme fight flick, with the sage Clint Eastwood guiding her both onscreen and from behind the camera
 
Sideways (2004), an oenophilic road movie and bittersweet romance, with Paul Giamatti as the tortured writer/Merlot hater. Smart, funny, sublime
 
Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Danny Boyle’s whirling Hindi fable about love and destiny, good fortune and cold cruelty, the hardships of life – and the happiness it can bring. (Especially when everybody in the cast starts boogieing crazily as the end credits roll)
 
There Will Be Blood (2007) Daniel Day Lewis is unforgettable as a money-mad oil prospector in Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic about greed, God and going off the deep end in your own private bowling alley
POSTED: Wednesday, December 2, 2009, 2:46 PM

The New Year Parade, Tom Quinn’s heart-stirring independent feature set in the world of Mummery and detailing the impact of divorce on one South Philly family, is like the little engine that could. Debuting at the 2008 Slamdance Festival, where it won the Grand Jury narrative prize, The New Year Parade has hung in there, garnering plaudits at major festivals over the past year and enjoying strong notices during its theatrical runs in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and other markets.

And on Tuesday, Quinn’s labor of love was there next to Big Fan, Humpday, So Yong Kim’s Treeless Mountain and Tariq Tapa’s Zero Bridge as a nominee for the Independent Spirit Awards’ John Cassavetes prize -- given to the best feature made for under $500,000. (Quinn’s was made for way under that.)

“I'm a bit stunned and a little freaked out by the whole thing, and of course, thrilled,” Quinn reported via email. And now the Philadelphia filmmaker (a big Cassavetes fan, by the way) has to figure out how to pay for his trip to Los Angeles, where the Independent Spirit Awards are handed out on March 5, the same weekend as the 2010 Oscars.
About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays, and his blog, On Movies Online, can be found here. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Steven Rea's previous blog posts can be found here. Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Reach Steven at srea@phillynews.com.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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