Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Critics' Awards, Men In Black III & Other News In Film

The Tree of Life from director Terrence Malick has won the San Francisco Critic's Awards for both Best Picture and Best Director as well as Best Cinematography this past Sunday when American film critics started their voting for best films in preparation for the Oscars. Gary Oldman wins the Best Actor award for his work in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with Tilda Swinton taking the award for Best Actress in We Need To Talk About Kevin. My personal favorite, J.C. Chandor, won the award for Best Original Sceenplay for Margin Call and the award for Best Adapted Screenplay went to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
The Screen Actors Guild Awards have been announced; why is this important? No film has won the Oscar for Best Picture without having been nominated first by the SAG; leading the pack is The Help (my review is: The Help: Of Chocolate Pies), The Artist, Bridesmaids, The Descendants and Midnight in Paris; left out of nominations were Hugo (which is getting a surge in popularity so this is a bad sign for Scorsese), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, War Horse, The Ides of March and Extremely Loud and Incredibly  Close. What is all the lack in consensus? Is this typical? Somewhat, but it really reflects one, the quantity of  great films made this year and two, the different groups choices say more about them and the reflections they choose as being timely than anything else; only one film will get the Oscar for Best Picture, and everyone thinks it should go to a different picture.
For example, . . .
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association gave their Best Picture award to The Descendants starring George Clooney with The Tree of Life winning for Best Director. Michael Fassbinder won Best Actor of the year for his work in A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre, Shame, and X-Men: First Class (Michael Shannon is the runner-up with his work in Take Shelter). Jessica Chastain won the Best Supporting Actress of the year award for her work in  The Help, The Debt, Coriolanus, Take Shelter and The Tree of Life.
The Boston Society of Film Critics has voted The Artist the Best Film of 2011 and Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe wins Best Actress from the group for My Week With Marilyn. Likewise, The New York Online Critics named The Artist for both Best Picture and Best Director with Best Actor going to Michael Shannon of Take Shelter and Meryl Streep receiving the Best Actress award for The Iron Lady. The award for Best Screenplay goes to The Descendants.
The American Film Institute announced its list of Ten Best US Releases of 2011: The Descendants, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Help, J. Edgar, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse and Bridesmaids.  
The Producers' Guild of America will be awarding Angelina Jolie's In the Land of Blood and Honey the prestigious Stanley Kramer award in January; it has been speculated that it's due to Jolie's super-stardom status and people just wanting to see her, but people also say the film is very good: they filmed in 41 days with no rehearsals and the two stars, Rade Serbedzija and Zana Marjanovic, lived through the war. The Stanley Kramer award was created to "honor a motion picture, producer or other individual, whose achievement or contribution illuminates provocative social issues in an accessible and elevating fashion." I will be getting to this one this month.
I just saw Take Shelter which was excellent, strange, but excellent. It's the kind of movie that, after you've seen the end, you want to go and watch the entire film again. I will be posting on it, I will just like a couple of days to process some of the scenes. I will be posting on Young Sherlock Holmes this week as well as Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes in anticipation for Game of Shadows being released this Friday.
This was released just today, Men In Black III:
Why does this look interesting?
Again, just as in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Anonymous, this is about fraud, specifically, that someone is not who they say they are. The prevalence of aliens, again, suggests that something in this world has become alien to us; which may prove to be our very selves. On the other hand, Batman seems to be going in the opposite direction with the legends of Bane and Batman being resurrected (Bane supposedly "breaks the bat" by breaking Batman's back over his knee) and there is quite the publicity suggesting that we'll see this happening.
This is the new poster released for the third and final Batman installation, The Dark Knight Rises. In the poster, we see Bane (Tom Hardy) walking away from the crushed mask of Batman. I am having a lot of thoughts about this, but I think I will keep them to myself, for now. Director Christopher Nolan's secrecy on the set of this film is getting a lot of publicity (perhaps not since Citizen Kane has a director taken such precautions to protect a film) and I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Nolan is throwing us a scarecrow that isn't really going to happen in the film, but can be justified on the basis of whetting our appetites. We'll see what happens.
Speaking of things which have become alien to us, this is the trailer for Another Earth which has already been released in France but doesn't seem to have plans for release anywhere else:
Another Earth reminds me Men In Black III because it could be ourselves which is becoming alien to us;as in The Skin I Live In, we can't trust our identity to just our physical appearance, we are more than that. This seems to be Hollywood's attempt, finally, to start a real conversation about the reality of the soul and what our soul is regarding our identity.
2011 has been a splendid year for Belgium in film (The Artist) and they seem to be following closely on its heels with The Well Digger's Daughter that has already been released but is just now starting to reach the shores of the UK:
What's interesting about this is the father's close relationship to his daughter, and then him saying, towards the end of the trailer, that he has lost her. The imagery of "digging a well" is very spiritual because, not only is water necessary to life, but Grace (which water usually symbolizes) is also essential to life, so it's not really about digging for water, rather, digging for Grace which will maintain the spiritual life. If I get news that this is being released in the U.S. (or, if you get news, let me know) or when it comes out on DVD, I will be watching this one.
Who's in the mood for Maggie Smith, Judi Dench or Tom Wilkinson?
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, scheduled for release in March 2012 gives us an interesting twist. We usually don't think of Brits being "aliens," but these poor travelers are certainly experiencing being "aliens in an alien land," and there are a few "in-between the lines" items that I will be looking for in this one, if I get to see it. Like Another Earth, this involves a journey, and it's a journey to find out who you are by going to another place. Why does it work that way? It's like in The Shining, when we are amongst things which are unfamiliar to us, we gravitate towards that which is familiar and it literally helps us to find things which we normally take for granted because, in the familiar setting, it's too familiar and only the backdrop of a different color will aid us in finding out what we couldn't see before. 
Lastly, I just want to make sure that everyone saw this intriguing trailer for Mysteries of Lisbon which was released last year but critics are just now getting to see it; how did that happen? Your guess is as good as mine.
Again, this is a crisis of identity, in which our actions are forming part of our identity (who was it that had sexual intercourse which produced the young orphan we are following?). It's not just that he wants to know who his parents are, but this generation represented by this film, wants to know where it came from, who are its historical parents, what events in history worked together to produce the world we are living in today? I can hardly wait to see this.
Lots of posts will be made this week; I know this is a busy time for everyone so I really appreciate you taking time to stop by! Thanks and I hope you are enjoying a blessed Advent Season!
God Bless!