Archive | 10:30 am

Bring It On

23 Jan

Whoa. That’s my biggest reaction to the Oscar nominations this morning. More specifically:

* No Dreamgirls for Best Picture? That’s a huge shock, because everyone thought it was a lock to win. This opens the field up completely, and now I’d say it’s a 4-way race (The Queen doesn’t really have a shot). But what’s odd is that Dreamgirls still has the most noms of any movie (eight) — including three in the Best Song category. That’s the coolest of all, because it means Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy may all sing. That would make for some fantastic television.

* Leo nominated for Blood Diamond and not The Departed. It’s because he thought he’d get a Best Supporting Actor nom for The Departed, and Warner Brothers campaigned thusly. Now he’s shot himself in the foot because he’s much better in Departed and doesn’t really have a shot to win for Blood Diamond. Then again, Forest Whitaker’s a lock to win anyway, so this is all moot.

* Ryan Gosling nominated for Best Actor. This is great. He is so good in Half Nelson. But I’m bummed that Sacha Baron Cohen didn’t get a nom for Borat. My view is that Will Smith took his spot; had Pursuit of Happyness come out any earlier in the year, the spot would have been Cohen’s.

* Whitaker vs O’Toole. If Peter O’Toole wins, it’ll be because of sentiment. He’s old; he plays an old guy. It’s sort of like Abigail Breslin. She’s good and all, but she’s playing a cute kid. How hard can that be? (Says the guy who couldn’t act, so he started writing reviews.) Not that I’ve seen Forest Whitaker’s movie (or O’Toole’s, for that matter), but that seems like a much more challenging role for him.

* Paul Greengrass nominated for Best Director. Even though United 93 didn’t make the Best Picture cut, I’m glad the movie was recognized here.

* Jennifer Hudson nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Hey, have I ever mentioned that I interviewed her for Continental? (Just kidding.)

* Mark Wahlberg nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Really? That one I don’t get. But more importantly, so who has the better back story this year: Jennifer Hudson, former contestant on American Idol, or Mark Wahlberg, formerly Marky Mark, former Calvin Klein underwear model?

* My predictions: Departed for Best Pic; Scorsese for Best Director; Mirren, Whitaker, Hudson, and Murphy in the acting categories; Departed for Adapted Screenplay and Little Miss Sunshine for Original Screenplay; “Listen” for Best Song; and Happy Feet for Animated Film.

Those are my quick reactions. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the nominations. I like that, aside from the four acting categories and Best Director, things are pretty wide open. And now I definitely need to see Babel (I still have no interest in seeing Letters from Iwo Jima). With Ellen Degeneres hosting, this could be a great show. I can’t wait.

Not Such a Great Catch

23 Jan

The trailer for Jennifer Garner’s latest film, Catch and Release, doesn’t exactly promise a very good movie.

So the good news is that the trailer gets it partly wrong.

For example, Catch is not a fun, cutesy romantic comedy about a woman getting over the death of her fiancee by falling in love with his best friend. Instead, it’s a rather serious film about a woman whose fiancee dies just days before the wedding, and who, in dealing with her grief, learns surprising things about him and herself.

Alright, fine, she does also fall in love with his best friend, but she does it reluctantly.

And even better, that’s not really the crux of the movie.

So I guess the film’s surprising depth is what redeems it from being a typical January throw-away.

Still, let’s not go too far with praise here. While the romance doesn’t feel totally forced, it does feel unrealistic. And Kevin Smith, playing a role probably meant for Jack Black, should probably stick to films he writes and directs, where he usually plays a character named Silent Bob.

Overall, the screenplay (by Susannah Grant, who also wrote Erin Brockovich and In Her Shoes, and who makes her directorial debut here) could have used some pruning; the generally likable cast helps a great deal to overcome its limitations.

Still, I just didn’t get into the story enough and found certain plot details predictable or unnecessary.

And Jennifer Garner just isn’t given enough opportunities to smile. When she does, it basically makes the movie worth watching — as does the scene where she’s wearing her wedding dress.

Catch earns points for being better than expected, but loses some for just not being compelling enough. So, I’m giving it a B–.

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