Thursday, January 27, 2005

Maria Full of Grace 

The Girl and I watched this on DVD, the first of our Oscar-nominated DVDs that are lined up on our Netflix queue. Newcomer Catalina Sandino Moreno has been nominated for Best Actress for her starring role as Maria, a 17-year-old Columbian who has been thrust into the role of primary supporter of her mother, sister and sister's toddler. Having quit her job as a thorn remover at a rose plantation, she is given an opportunity to be a mule - to smuggle drugs into the United States by swallowing large numbers of drug filled plastic "pellets."

We see Maria trying to deal with her lot in life while at the same time struggling to improve it, and balancing her loyalties to her own future and those of the people around her. Some of the early scenes of the plantation workers being bussed to work reminded me of Casa de los Babys, which took place in Mexico.

Moreno is very good in the role, and I'm glad the Academy once again went out of the mainstream for this nomination, but there's no way she'll win. I equate it to last year's nomination of young Keisha Castle-Hughes for her starring role in Whale Rider: a great recognition of the early work of a young actor, which hopefully will help open doors to many more opportunities, but she didn't stand a chance against Charlize Theron. Look for Castle-Hughes in the upcoming Revenge of the Sith.

Reality Check: The Girl in general studiously avoids subtitled films (Maria Full of Grace is in Spanish), but she didn't mind the subtitles in this one, and enjoyed the movie.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 1/27/2005 02:45:00 PM
Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Oscar Nominations 2005 

I watched the Oscar Noms with a friend in the office kitchen. How exciting!!! And the nominees are:

BEST PICTURE
THE AVIATOR
FINDING NEVERLAND
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
RAY
SIDEWAYS

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Annette Bening - BEING JULIA
Catalina Sandino Moreno - MARIA FULL OF GRACE
Imelda Staunton - VERA DRAKE
Hilary Swank - MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Kate Winslet - ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Cate Blanchett - THE AVIATOR
Laura Linney - KINSEY
Virginia Madsen - SIDEWAYS
Sophie Okonedo - HOTEL RWANDA
Natalie Portman - CLOSER

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Don Cheadle - HOTEL RWANDA
Johnny Depp - FINDING NEVERLAND
Leonardo DiCaprio - THE AVIATOR
Clint Eastwood - MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Jamie Foxx - RAY

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Alan Alda - THE AVIATOR
Thomas Haden Church - SIDEWAYS
Jamie Foxx - COLLATERAL
Morgan Freeman - MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Clive Owen - CLOSER

DIRECTING
THE AVIATOR
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
RAY
SIDEWAYS
VERA DRAKE

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
THE INCREDIBLES
SHARK TALE
SHREK 2

ART DIRECTION
THE AVIATOR
FINDING NEVERLAND
LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT

CINEMATOGRAPHY
THE AVIATOR
HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT

COSTUME DESIGN
THE AVIATOR
FINDING NEVERLAND
LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
RAY
TROY

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
BORN INTO BROTHELS
THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL
SUPER SIZE ME
TUPAC: RESURRECTION
TWIST OF FAITH

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
AUTISM IS A WORLD
THE CHILDREN OF LENINGRADSKY
HARDWOOD
MIGHTY TIMES: THE CHILDREN'S MARCH
SISTER ROSE'S PASSION

FILM EDITING
THE AVIATOR
COLLATERAL
FINDING NEVERLAND
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
RAY


FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
THE CHORUS
DOWNFALL
THE SEA INSIDE
YESTERDAY

MAKEUP
LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
THE SEA INSIDE

MUSIC (SCORE)
FINDING NEVERLAND
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
THE VILLAGE

MUSIC (SONG)
"Accidentally In Love" - SHREK 2
"Al Otro Lado Del Río" - THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
"Believe" - THE POLAR EXPRESS
"Learn To Be Lonely" - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
"Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)" - THE CHORUS

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
BIRTHDAY BOY
GOPHER BROKE
GUARD DOG
LORENZO
RYAN

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)
EVERYTHING IN THIS COUNTRY MUST
LITTLE TERRORIST
7:35 IN THE MORNING
TWO CARS, ONE NIGHT
WASP

SOUND EDITING
THE INCREDIBLES
THE POLAR EXPRESS
SPIDER-MAN 2

SOUND MIXING
THE AVIATOR
THE INCREDIBLES
THE POLAR EXPRESS
RAY
SPIDER-MAN 2

VISUAL EFFECTS
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
I, ROBOT
SPIDER-MAN 2

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
BEFORE SUNSET
FINDING NEVERLAND
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
SIDEWAYS

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
THE AVIATOR
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
HOTEL RWANDA
THE INCREDIBLES
VERA DRAKE

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 1/25/2005 09:19:00 AM
Friday, January 21, 2005

Million Dollar Baby 

We finally got to see this much praised film this past weekend, at its early release at the Lowes Boston Common (the most comfy and well-appointed theater in Boston). I haven't gotten around to writing about it until now, mostly because I couldn't come up with words that would appropriately convey the utter fabulosity of Million Dollar Baby and all those involved in the project.

Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood star in this story of a woman (Maggie) seeking to become a champion professional boxer, and the trainer (Frankie) she is trying to persuade to help her get there. Morgan Freeman plays a retired boxer (Eddie) who now works in Frankie's gym. Eddie also provides the narration that is the glue and universal translator of the story.

You may be thinking, "Why do we need yet another boxing movie? Haven't there been enough? Rags to riches, underdog fighting to the top, life lessons through physical brutality." To this I answer: You really need to see this movie, and see it at the theater. Don't wait for DVD release. Go to a big theater with a big screen and a good sound system, and pick a time when there will be a good sized crowd. This is one of those shows where everyone laughs, cries, sniffs, groans and winces as one, and where applause is apt to burst forth spontaneously.

The characters and the portrayals of them are complex and rich, with more layers than are worked through over the course of the 137 minutes. The story is nuanced and well-paced, and never lets you go.

Million Dollar Baby is raking in the awards and nominations, and I have no doubt that there will several more nominations come Tuesday morning when the Academy Award nominations are announced. I'm putting my money firmly on Hilary Swank to take home her second Best Actress Oscar.

Just spectacular. Go see it. Now.

Reality Check: The Girl absolutely loved it.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 1/21/2005 10:27:00 AM
Friday, January 14, 2005

Scheduling Reminder: Golden Globes 

Don't forget - the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will be holding the 62nd Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, which will be broadcast on NBC from 8-11 pm EST. I've managed to see many more nominated films since they were announced in December, but alas some haven't yet had their wide releases.

At least I'm confident I'll have seen the major award films by the time Sunday, February 27th rolls around and brings the Academy Awards on my favorite holiday of the year, Oscar Night. I'm counting the days until Million Dollar Baby is finally available for those of us in the masses to see. FYI - Oscar nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 25 at 8:30 am EST.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 1/14/2005 08:07:00 AM
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Critics' Choice Awards for 2004 

The Broadcast Film Critics Association yesterday announced the winners of their Critics' Choice Awards for 2004.

Best Picture: Sideways
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx - Ray
Best Actress: Hilary Swank - Million Dollar Baby
Best Supporting Actor: Thomas Haden Church - Sideways
Best Supporting Actress: Virginia Madsen - Sideways
Best Acting Ensemble: Sideways
Best Director: Martin Scorsese - The Aviator
Best Writer: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor - Sideways
Best Animated Feature: The Incredibles
Best Young Actor: Freddie Highmore - Finding Neverland
Best Young Actress: Emmy Rossum - The Phantom of the Opera
Best Popular Movie: Spider-Man 2
Best Family Film (live action): Finding Neverland
Best Picture Made for Television: The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
Best Documentary Feature: Fahrenheit 9/11
Best Foreign Language Film: The Sea Inside
Best Song: "Old Habits Die Hard", Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart - Alfie
Best Soundtrack: Ray
Best Composer: Howard Shore - The Aviator

The full breakdown of all nominees and how many votes were received by each (a very nice feature, by the way) can be found here.

I just can't get on board with the big ravings over Sideways. Overall I liked it, but many of the scenes just felt too drawn out and/or like poor attempts at being deep and intense. The Girl really didn't like it, and let me know partway through that in her opinion "this movie sucks." I'm fully on board with Martin Scorcese (Aviator) for Best Director.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 1/11/2005 09:34:00 AM