Evaluating the nominees.

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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby ITALIANO » Sun Feb 28, 2016 7:15 am

Sonic Youth wrote:
ITALIANO wrote:BEST PICTURE
1. Spotlight. It definitely hasn't the bite - or the urgency - of similar movies made in the 70s which it has been wrongly compared with. And you don't feel the "emotional context" - they talk about it, but you dont feel it. But the story is interesting, it touches a number of relevant issues (some of those even too quickly), and the cast is generally well-directed.


I give up. When Marco and Magilla AND the National Society of Film Critics band together to declare Spotlight the best movie of the year - or at least, the best nominated movie - I have no choice but to second-guess my critical faculties. I'll try it again... certainly in a few days, if it wins Best Picture tomorrow night.

However... "similar movies made in the 70s which it has been wrongly compared with." Please elaborate, because I thought that was exactly the tradition and the aesthetic McCarthy was aiming for. And if that's the case, is it really unfair to (at least partly) compare the film on those terms?



Of course one is free to compare a movie to anything - even a cauliflower. No, what I actually meant is that those - and there have been many, even in Italy - who think that Spotlight is up there with All The President's Men and movies of the same kind (and the same era) are wrong. For many reasons, some of which I can't easily explain in English. But basically what Pakula (and Francesco Rosi, and all the others) did, and Tom McCarthy doesn't, is creating a context, an almost palpable context - even after so many years, you watch those movies and you "feel" the spirit of the time (and of the place). In the best of those movies, that feeling becomes almost suffocating. I didn't find this in Spotlight - or I should say, I found it in the script, in the words some characters say, but not in the movie itself. There's a lack of "climate" about it.

I honestly didn't know which of the eight movies I should put at number 1. In the end, I decided I'd choose the most honest one - the one which, in a year of failed expectations, had given me what I was waiting for. There were two: Spotlight and Mad Max Fury Road (which was as bad as I thought it's be). I simply picked the one which had content.

There's probably another, more subconscious reason. Boston, as portrayed in this movie, is a bit like Italy - a place where the influence of the Catholic church is still, sadly, pervasive and corrupting (the real-life cardinal now lives in Rome, in one of its major cathedrals). I could easily "get" what this movie is about, and for example I can't say the same about The Big Short.

But I know that it's not a masterpiece.

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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby Sonic Youth » Sat Feb 27, 2016 3:14 pm

ITALIANO wrote:BEST PICTURE
1. Spotlight. It definitely hasn't the bite - or the urgency - of similar movies made in the 70s which it has been wrongly compared with. And you don't feel the "emotional context" - they talk about it, but you dont feel it. But the story is interesting, it touches a number of relevant issues (some of those even too quickly), and the cast is generally well-directed.


I give up. When Marco and Magilla AND the National Society of Film Critics band together to declare Spotlight the best movie of the year - or at least, the best nominated movie - I have no choice but to second-guess my critical faculties. I'll try it again... certainly in a few days, if it wins Best Picture tomorrow night.

However... "similar movies made in the 70s which it has been wrongly compared with." Please elaborate, because I thought that was exactly the tradition and the aesthetic McCarthy was aiming for. And if that's the case, is it really unfair to (at least partly) compare the film on those terms?
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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Feb 27, 2016 11:58 am

anonymous1980 wrote:
ITALIANO wrote:5. George Miller. A good, efficient technician, surrounded, I am sure, by even better and more efficient technicians. But this isn't enough to make a movie A MOVIE.


I would argue that his film is cinema in its PUREST form. A *movie* in its truest sense of the word.


Oh mamma. It IS a movie - I know that it is. It's just not A MOVIE. A work of art.

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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Feb 27, 2016 11:46 am

ITALIANO wrote:5. George Miller. A good, efficient technician, surrounded, I am sure, by even better and more efficient technicians. But this isn't enough to make a movie A MOVIE.


I would argue that his film is cinema in its PUREST form. A *movie* in its truest sense of the word.

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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Feb 27, 2016 9:19 am

As I said before, it has been tougher than usual - but I've finally made it: even this time I have seen all the movies nominated in the six major categories. And while it's not like in the recent past there haven't been terrible films even in the Best Picture race (remember The Blind Side? Seabiscuit? I certainly wish I wouldn't), Best Picture this year is one of the worst ever. I can't find anything truly impressive there - so of course making a list in order of preference is quite complicated. Anyway...

BEST PICTURE
1. Spotlight. It definitely hasn't the bite - or the urgency - of similar movies made in the 70s which it has been wrongly compared with. And you don't feel the "emotional context" - they talk about it, but you dont feel it. But the story is interesting, it touches a number of relevant issues (some of those even too quickly), and the cast is generally well-directed.
2. Brooklyn. A "little" movie made with grace and sympathy, and about themes which may be more important than they seem at first sight. I'm not sure that I especially like its glowing look, and it ultimately might be too "soft" for my tastes, but it's quite pleasant and even unusually perceptive at times.
3. The Big Short. It tries a bit too hard to be "brilliant", but in such a year I don't find it necessarily a bad thing. Its energy is a welcome relief from such a lethargic slate, the actors are well-used and it's about things I (wrongly) have never been much interested in and didn't know much about, so in a way I can say that I learned something. It doesn't happen often at the movies anymore.
4. The Martian. Definitely not my kind of movie, but a good and not idiotic example of THAT kind.
5. Room. I liked its mood, and the fact that it's seen from the point of view of the child - and not the typical child we see in American movies. But narratively it goes from the unrealistic (the escape plan) to the forced (the attempted suicide) to the psychologically banal (the grandfather refusing to talk to the child - only in America, really!).
6. Bridge of Spies. A movie I wished I'd like more. As far as films of this type go, it's not The Spy Who Came In from the Cold.
7. The Revenant. The problem is - it's not as epic as it wants to be. It's a (simple, too simple) revenge story which Italian B-cinema (or C-cinema) of the 60s used to make with much less money and, I'd say, more content (though sub-textually, of course).
8. Mad Max Fury Road. I surrender.

BEST DIRECTOR
1. Adam McKay. Ok, we got it - you are smart. But in a year so lacking in strong individual traits, even excess can be good.
2. Lenny Abrahamson. I liked him better than his movie - does the best he can with a flawed script.
3. Tom McCarthy. Discreet to the point of being invisible. But smooth and unobtrusive - he can certainly tell a story.
4. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Big, Latin, "grand" - but size isn't everything, it's the way you use it.
5. George Miller. A good, efficient technician, surrounded, I am sure, by even better and more efficient technicians. But this isn't enough to make a movie A MOVIE.

BEST ACTOR
1. Michael Fassbender. The (weak, soulless) script damages the movie itself - but one can't deny that his role is strong and showy, and that he does it justice. I can't say that I know much more about Jobs the man than I did before, but this isn't his fault.
2. Bryan Cranston. He acts too much, but at least he acts.
3. Matt Damon. He makes acting seems easy, which is something I like but which rarely gets prizes. A nice turn.
4. Leonardo Di Caprio. Charisma isn't enough when you haven't a character to play. Despite all the physical efforts, the performance is basically lazy.
5. Eddie Redmayne. Maria Schell's acting also was mostly about smiles, but at least she was beautiful.

BEST ACTRESS
1. Cate Blanchett. Great character, great performance, and movie-star radiance. Rare - and not just in this year.
2. Charlotte Rampling. In real life, I've been once at the receiving end of her famous, austere look. It's more pleasant in movies, and THIS movie uses it very well. She's clearly a master in the art of close-ups.
3. Saoirse Ronan. I'm not sure that she's already a very good or an extremely expressive actress, but she carries her movie with empathy and gracefulness.
4. Brie Larson. From a performance so universally praised I expected a bit more, frankly. Many other young actresses - if well-directed - could have done as well as she has. I won't be desperate when she wins her Oscar though.
5. Jennifer Lawrence. Dreadful, irritating movie, absolutely unremarkable performance.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Mark Rylance. Reserved and subtle. A solid, professional turn - and for once you FEEL that there's a very good actor behind it.
2. Christian Bale. Better here than in the movie he won an Oscar for.
3. Mark Ruffalo. Too intense for the part he has to play. He's an obviously talented actor, but he still has to find his signature role.
4. Tom Hardy. A one-note performance - that it's intentionally one-note doesn't make it better.
5. Sylvester Stallone. Anyone else giving such a performance in such a movie would go unnoticed.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Rooney Mara. Except for the fact that she's a lead, by far the best in this race.
2. Jennifer Jason Leigh. She seems to enjoy acting in a way she rarely seemed to do when she was younger. And we viewers share her joy. It may not be enough to call it a "great" turn, but it sure works.
3. Kate Winslet. I should check, but this might be her best (or second-best) Oscar-nominated performance ever. Still not enough to make her a winner by my standards, but in case she wins I will be pleased.
4. Alicia Vikander. She's not exactly bad, but her role and the movie she's in would prevent anyone from really giving a great performance.
5. Rachel McAdams. She's everywhere in this movie, and she's competent maybe - but the role just isn't the most interesting or complex ever.

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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby Uri » Sun Feb 07, 2016 1:29 am

Bog wrote:I suppose the reason I took umbrage with the comment was I jumped to a (possibly very incorrect) conclusion Uri does not simply wait until nomination day, run out, access the nominated films, view them, then critique them (mostly negatively). My assumption is, like most of us, he has seen most, maybe not all, of them throughout the season/year...compares his rankings to what the now concrete Oscar list is, and them proceeds to letter grade. Yes, ultimately I can't imagine Uri is a part of this community for any reason different from any other regular poster...

I do apologize for being incorrect in my reading...but I sure do find it peculiar for multiple people to question someone's presence here simply because we were given a pretty piss poor slate of films and he calls them as he sees them.


Since my cinema going habits became such a hot topic, let me clarify. I’m afraid I have been watching practically all of these films in the last few weeks. A lot of it has to with the very simple reason that apart from 3 films (I did see the Martian in “real time”, I missed Steve Jobs when it was on theaters here and I avoided Mad Max), all of these films were just released here lately – this is why I started posting these posts in the first place, since many times I’m not able to discuss Oscar films with the rest of you North Americans. And since I prefer watching films on the big screen, this was my time to do it. Did I made the effort to catch up with all the nominate film once they were nominated? Sure. Would I skip any of them had they not? Probably Joy. And certainly Creed (but I did cheat here, since I watched it online. Couldn’t bring myself to actually go out and see it). And Trumbo has not opened here yet, so I watched it online too, since I gathered that Lawrence of Arabia it’s not, and it turned out I was right – it was like a moldy made for tv which they used to make in the ‘70s (oh, how I loved those Moviola films, or the one with Tova Fledshuh(!) as Katherine Hepburn). I’m rambling.

Is it the best way to watch Oscar films? No. Did sometimes the individual impact each film makes happen to mush with that of other ones? Yes. Is it bad? Yes and no. As I said about Brooklyn, rushing into coming up with snappy remarks was not that fortunate. But the film itself did stay with me and I believe I would, eventually judge it right. But this condense viewing does at times offers overall insights, presents connections and trends – observing the way cinematic clichés are being used/abused was made clearer by Watching The Hateful Eight so closely to The Danish Girl. But anyway, most of the times I do want to enjoy and appreciate the films I’m about to see. (Ok, not necessarily films by Tom Hopper or David O. Russell – I do expect them to be tedious and they never disappoint me).

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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby Bog » Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:42 pm

anonymous1980 wrote:
Bog wrote:
anonymous1980 wrote:It's clear that most of the films nominated every year are not to your taste. Why even bother doing it?


This comment has a smidge of the air of "oh Bridge of Spies was nominated and Carol wasn't?...the former must be a better film!"


That isn't what I meant at all. Unless Uri makes his living as a film critic or a culture writer, I don't think he has any obligation to see the Oscar-nominated films since year after year since he dislikes or at most lukewarm to most of them. That's perfectly fine. It's his opinion. But since it''s clear that most films Oscar pays attention to year after year is not to his liking, why bother?.


I suppose the reason I took umbrage with the comment was I jumped to a (possibly very incorrect) conclusion Uri does not simply wait until nomination day, run out, access the nominated films, view them, then critique them (mostly negatively). My assumption is, like most of us, he has seen most, maybe not all, of them throughout the season/year...compares his rankings to what the now concrete Oscar list is, and them proceeds to letter grade. Yes, ultimately I can't imagine Uri is a part of this community for any reason different from any other regular poster...

I do apologize for being incorrect in my reading...but I sure do find it peculiar for multiple people to question someone's presence here simply because we were given a pretty piss poor slate of films and he calls them as he sees them.

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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby Okri » Sat Feb 06, 2016 1:19 pm

ITALIANO wrote:
Okri wrote:
Uri's mostly negative thoughts, while always fun to read, paint a picture of an institution that he really has no time for. Which is fine, but why bother engaging then?


Okri, we (including Uri) are free to do whatever we want - sorry. Plus, only in America, I guess, we are supposed to only write about (or to only be interested in) things we approve of or we agree with. Certainly not in Europe. And especially when you are interested in an institution, or a cultural phenomenon, for decades, you don't stop dealing with it when it starts making choices you find objectionable. That would be moody - and childish. You simply go on - with a more critical approach maybe, and certainly with less passion. We also have a rational side, thank God - and analyzing doesn't mean approving of (actually, it means often the opposite). So why should Uri stop? Because Okri and anonymous say so? It's just crazy...


Uri, if you're interpretation my comments echoes Italiano, I do apologize. That certainly isn't anything near what I meant and will endeavour to be clearer in the future.

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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Feb 06, 2016 10:10 am

Uri wrote:
Big Magilla wrote:It was hardly a celebration of Americana.


I was referring to Hanks riding on a train in Berlin, passing the newly built wall, seeing people who try to climb over it being shot and then mimicking that scene, having him on a train in NY, seeing children playfully climbing a fence, free as birds. The brutal treatment of the captivated American pilot by the Russians as opposed to the vip treatment the Rylance’s character is getting from the American (they call him Mr. Abel!). It’s Abel telling Donovan of the two possible scenarios of being treated by one’s own comrades on the bridge. Guess who gets the hug and how’s shoved into the backseat of the car.

Maybe the Coens wrote this somewhat tongue in cheek, but I didn’t detect any sense of irony from the way it was presented onscreen by Spielberg.

You may have been thinking of that, but the only smiling woman on a train I noticed was the woman reading her tabloid newspaper on the subway at the end of the movie and looking up and realizing Donovan was the man on the front page.

Those climbing the wall scenes and the hug/no hug scene may have been taken from Donovan's 1964 book, I don't know. Nor do I know how much of the screenplay was written by Matt Charman and tweaked by the Coens. The film's coda does say that Abel was reunited with his wife and daughter and in fact he was well respected within Russia until his death a year after Donovan. He died of lung cancer in 1971 at the age of 68. It would have been nice if they had added that, but I took the film as a celebration of Donovan, not the U.S. which in the depiction of most of the other American players was not very flattering.
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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby Uri » Sat Feb 06, 2016 9:13 am

flipp525 wrote:I fee like Brooklyn would've been one of Damien's favorites this year. Or, at least, Ronan's performance.


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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby flipp525 » Sat Feb 06, 2016 8:47 am

I feel like Brooklyn would've been one of Damien's favorites this year. Or, at least, Ronan's performance.
Last edited by flipp525 on Sat Feb 06, 2016 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby Uri » Sat Feb 06, 2016 8:11 am

On a brighter note – Magilla, our honorable Mayor of Irishville – I’d like to apologize, for I feel I was too harsh on Brooklyn. It was the last film I saw, so my comments were somewhat rushed.

After thinking about it, I find it has more bite to it – as other people have said, its core is that latter part in Ireland, and what I find especially intriguing was the notion that Eilis was seriously contemplating committing bigamy, since she compartmentalized the Ireland existence versus the American as if one realm didn’t fully exist once she was in the other place. Very interesting. And it paints Eilis with moral complexity (hence her being a future swinger. Sorry, I couldn’t help it).

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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby Uri » Sat Feb 06, 2016 7:47 am

Big Magilla wrote:It was hardly a celebration of Americana.


I was referring to Hanks riding on a train in Berlin, passing the newly built wall, seeing people who try to climb over it being shot and then mimicking that scene, having him on a train in NY, seeing children playfully climbing a fence, free as birds. The brutal treatment of the captivated American pilot by the Russians as opposed to the vip treatment the Rylance’s character is getting from the American (they call him Mr. Abel!). It’s Abel telling Donovan of the two possible scenarios of being treated by one’s own comrades on the bridge. Guess who gets the hug and how’s shoved into the backseat of the car.

Maybe the Coens wrote this somewhat tongue in cheek, but I didn’t detect any sense of irony from the way it was presented onscreen by Spielberg.

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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Feb 06, 2016 6:40 am

Okri wrote:
Uri's mostly negative thoughts, while always fun to read, paint a picture of an institution that he really has no time for. Which is fine, but why bother engaging then?


Okri, we (including Uri) are free to do whatever we want - sorry. Plus, only in America, I guess, we are supposed to only write about (or to only be interested in) things we approve of or we agree with. Certainly not in Europe. And especially when you are interested in an institution, or a cultural phenomenon, for decades, you don't stop dealing with it when it starts making choices you find objectionable. That would be moody - and childish. You simply go on - with a more critical approach maybe, and certainly with less passion. We also have a rational side, thank God - and analyzing doesn't mean approving of (actually, it means often the opposite). So why should Uri stop? Because Okri and anonymous say so? It's just crazy...

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Re: Evaluating the nominees.

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Feb 06, 2016 6:26 am

anonymous1980 wrote: I generally like most of the Oscar-nominated films.


Well... I mean... anonymous, you are certainly a great person and everything... but honestly, it's not like your reviews reveal an especially personal approach to movies... You follow what the majority says, let's face it. I don't say that you shouldn't do this (and actually I find your opinions interesting: in one minute I get to know what the main general view on a movie is), so don't get me wrong... But you should also learn that the majority isn't always right, and that sometimes - strange as it may seem to you - hearing a different voice can be healthy rather than annoying.


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