Monday, January 30, 2012

"X-Men: First Class" Sequel Confirmed, Vaughn Returns as Director

Andrew: Hello readers! Today marks a first for our 8-day-old blog in that this will be the first posting we do where we will be talking about movie news. (And, to an extent I suppose, reporting on movie news. Even though we didn't really do any of the legwork. Hence the credit we'll give out!)

Earlier today, reported that 20th Century Fox has signed Production President Emma Watts to an extension that will keep her in that position until 2015. But you don't really care about that, and neither do we. What we DO care about is that Deadline buried a more interesting tidbit later in their article stating that "X-Men: First Class" director Matthew Vaughn has signed on to helm a sequel to last summer's installment of Fox's "X-Men" franchise!

Sarah, are you as excited about the news that there's going to be a sequel to "X-Men: First Class" as I am?

Sarah: I am! It's going to continue to be a really great way to jump-start the "X-Men" franchise and take a different look at the whole series. Kind of like what they did with the new Star Trek series (due out next summer *yay*), which was to grab a new audience to introduce to the same great stories. The last couple of times they have made "X-Men" movies (“X-2,” “X-Men: The Last Stand” and "X-Men Origins - Wolverine") they have not been very good in my opinion. So I like that they are changing the way people look at the franchise.

A: Ooooo...I don't mean to slow your roll there, hun, but if you didn't like “The Last Stand" then you might not like what else was in the story. Namely that Simon Kinberg will be the screenwriter for the next "X-Men" movie - and he was the screenwriter for "The Last Stand." That said, he was also the screenwriter for two of our favorite action movies of the last decade in "Sherlock Holmes" and "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," plus he was a producer on "First Class."

S: Hmm, I wouldn't say that those two were two of our favorites, but they’re good. And I wasn't aware that he didn't write the first "First Class." Maybe I will be a little nervous about the new one. I enjoyed "First Class" so much that I will be bummed if he doesn't keep the same standards as that last one. Now that I know what movies Kinberg has written, I believe that he carries an element of cheesiness in his films. There is always an undertone of silliness. Although the action in his films tend to be very good, there is a comedic element that I find hard to believe.

A: I wouldn't say that there's cheesiness in the movies he writes, but I'll say there's silliness in there. Comic relief, if you will. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But I share your hope that he maintains the standard of the last film. "First Class" is by far the best of the series and he WAS a producer on it. But I also think Matthew Vaughn’s return as director will have more of an impact on the quality of the film.

More than anything though, I'm excited for a sequel because it means we get to see Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy as Magneto and Professor Xavier again. I'm also excited because up until today there had been absolutely no noise about a sequel, considering "First Class" made $146 million domestically, which is about how much it cost to make. I'm thinking the $207 million it made internationally earned it a green light.

S: Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how the movie turns out. I will be excited to see the continuation of the rivalry between Xavier and Magneto and how they technically left on sad terms, not "I'm going to get you" terms. So it will be interesting to see what the catalyst is that finally drives them to good vs. evil.

A: I like the way you put that. I just like that we'll actually get to see Fassbender and McAvoy continue to grow those characters, not just the rivalry between them.

Ok readers! Have you seen "X-Men: First Class?" If so, let us know how you feel about a sequel; if you haven't, see it as soon as you can. We own it, so you know it gets our highest marks.

Tomorrow's Post: A day late, but we will do a little analysis on this past Sunday's Screen Actor's Guild Awards and what they mean for the Academy Awards race.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Interesting...Very Interesting: Our Review of "A Dangerous Method" (2011)

Directed By: David Cronenberg

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen

Synopsis: In the early 1900s, psychiatrist Carl Jung (Fassbender) is faced with a challenging new patient, a young woman named Sabina Spielrein (Knightley). Being an admirer of the famed Sigmund Freud (Mortensen), Jung is able to cure Sabina using Freud's controversial new "talking cure" method. The results of Jung's treatment go on to bring the three into a complicated web that will span several years. 


Andrew: Hello readers! Sarah and I saw "A Dangerous Method" this afternoon and I must say, even though we've only written a few reviews to this point, this will probably be the hardest one we've done. This was not your typical movie, was it, Sarah?

Sarah: This film was interesting because it was based on a play and a book, so you get a blend of film types. There is a very tight focus on the main characters (there are five, and to be honest there are no other characters in the film), while at the same time the movies spans the width of about 12 years. This makes the film a little hard to follow in my opinion. I was so focused on the characters that it was hard to follow a timeline.

A: It’s definitely shot like a play. There are very few settings that mainly consist of Jung's or Freud's office, Sabina's apartment…..and not much else. It's also incredibly talky, that can't be denied. You will either be very interested in the psychoanalysis the characters delve into, or you'll be bored to tears. There's no way around it. Because the movie is so focused on the characters, it means the actors have to do a great job of capturing your attention. Do you think they did that?

S: Oh, the characters caught my attention, no questions asked; almost to the point of awkwardness. There were times when I felt like I shouldn't be watching because it would be such an intimate conversation. All the cast members did their homework on their characters. So where you bored to tears? Did the story interest you at all?

A: There were moments that were a touch boring, but overall I was pretty interested in Jung and Freud's conversations. The two of them clearly had differing opinions about the school of psychiatry. Freud famously believed all psychological problems could be traced to some underlying sexual source, while Jung thought Freud was too close-minded and believed there were other, untouched aspects of psychology. The scenes between the two of them talking about that were particularly fascinating to me, but they might not be to some others. I think that's also a tribute to Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen's acting abilities, that just sitting and talking could keep me interested that much.

S: I would agree. I had a little bit of trouble keeping up with what they were talking about in their conversations. I wonder if that is because I am little gun-shy of psychology because I had such a rough time with that class in college. But anyway...I think the relationship between Jung and Spielrein needs to be touched on. They obviously develop a relationship that apparently is not unusual between psychiatry patients and doctors but it is interesting to note how they change during the relationship. They both seem to go back to their most basic instincts and revert to an unhealthy (by modern standards) state of mind. What do you think about it?

A: Well at the beginning of the movie, Spielrein is a complete mess. She's psychotic and clearly has an unhealthy connection between being punished/humiliated and arousal. When Jung finally cures her and they begin their relationship, it did amaze me how she would revert back to that psychosis, while Jung was finally giving in to his desires for her despite not believing in polygamy. 

And that actually brings me to the main thing I kept thinking as we left the theatre: the movie is really about Jung and how tortured he is by his love for Sabina and what he believes is the truth in psychiatry. You can see the pain in Fassbender's face with him being torn in the different directions of his relationship with Sabina, his relationship with Freud and with his marriage.

That said the best performance of the whole movie is Keira Knightly. Her performance as Sabina, particularly in the first third of the movie, is incredible. She's like a totally different person.

S: I agree with you. She stole the show and it is a shame she didn't get more accolades for the role. I know that you are having trouble with what the point of the movie was, so let me see if I can help a little. I think the point of the movie was to show that these men, whom the world holds in such high esteem for their contribution to medicine and life in general, really had base issues of their own. They are still considered to be such free thinkers of their time when in actuality, Freud and Jung were really trapped in their own minds. 

A: I really am having a hard time explaining how I really feel about this movie. So before we wrap it up, I just want to mention how I loved David Cronenberg's directing style and how distracted I was with the prosthetic nose on Viggo. I loved the times when two people were in the same shot (say Freud is in the forefront and Jung is in the background) but instead of one being in focus and the other out of focus, they were both in focus. It was unusual and to me it kept my attention switching between both actors, which I liked. And Viggo's nose just looked...fake. At times it worked, but I kept coming back to how the tip of his nose didn't move.

S: Very interesting about the focus shots. Wish I had noticed that! And the nose was bad, it just was. It was ONE prosthetic, just one. It should have been blended better, but oh well. 

OK, so what do you think overall? What is your rating for “A Dangerous Method?”

A: I did enjoy the movie, even if I kept wondering what the point of it was the entire time. But overall I'd have to say Netflix It.

S: Agreed, it’s not one that I would want to sit down and watch for pure entertainment but an interesting way to spend the afternoon.

(Out of Five)
Next Post: In the next few days, we may rent a movie that is in the Oscar race, with a review to follow. Otherwise keep checking Two Tickets For... for regular updates as we will begin posting on breaking movie news and giving our takes on it. As always, thank you for reading!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Silence Is Golden: Our Review of "The Artist" (2011)

Directed By: Michel Hazanavicius

Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell

Synopsis: In the late 1920s, silent movie megastar George Valentin (Dujardin) inadvertently discovers an up-and-coming actress, Penny Miller (Bejo). Soon after, the introduction of sound to motion pictures causes George to become obsolete, while Penny flourishes as the face of "talkies."


Andrew: Last night Sarah and I saw "The Artist" at our local AMC Theatres, mainly because this movie is the presumptive front-runner for the Best Picture Oscar. It won Golden Globes a couple of weeks ago for Best Picture - Musical or Comedy, Best Actor - Musical or Comedy for Jean Dujardin's performance, and it won Best Original Score. So, Sarah, do you think "The Artist" deserves the accolades it has been receiving?

Sarah: I do, and here’s why: It was new. It was different. When people go to movies nowadays they know what they are going to get. A story, famous actors and above all, dialogue! With this movie you get something totally different. The silence is golden in this film. 

For me, it was all about the nostalgia. I actually felt like a giddy girl back in the 20s and 30s going to the movies on a Friday night with my beau.

A: Well I wouldn't say that it was "new" per se, but it was definitely different. I completely agree on the nostalgia part. Right from the start with the opening credits it looked and felt exactly like an old RKO picture from the 1920s. Director Michel Hazanavicius nailed that aspect of the film. I mean, as soon as the opening credits started, the two of us started smiling.

S: I think that had to do with Jean Dujardin. He had this infectious smile that literally lit up the room. I believe that he deserves the Oscar that he will receive. I know that one thing you had trouble with was the simplicity of the storyline. Wanna talk about that?

A: Sure. One of the few negative things I have to say about "The Artist" is that it's an incredibly simple plot. I never felt a sense of urgency for George in his plight of losing his stardom as a silent film actor. It was almost too by the numbers. But honestly, as I sit here and write this review, I start thinking of the little things, the nuances in George's story and I think my immediate reaction last night was wrong.

I originally thought that they could have gone further with George being too proud to venture into talkies, but then I think about all the crap he has to go through (which I won't spoil here) and maybe I missed the original point. It comes off as a romance movie, but it’s really about a man who spirals down into nothingness and finally getting over his pride. It's all the bad things that happen that I sort of glossed over upon us leaving the theatre.

S: Wow, well that wasn't what I expected. I agree with you, it was all about the little nuances. The more I think about it, I think that the pride thing could have been played up a little more but it really was all about taking the viewer back to a simpler time in life.

A: Now, you’ve mentioned Dujardin's smile, which brings me to this question: I felt that Dujardin and Berenice Bejo were perfectly cast because they were the movie. What did you think of their performances?

S: I think that Dujardin perfectly embodied a 1920s silent film star; which is to say that he was perfectly cast for the role. I felt like Bejo was a little modern for the role, but she perfectly played a young starlet in love with a man from a different era. But let's be honest, the dog stole the show. He made me want to rush out and buy a little terrier! Reader, if you have a soft spot for well-trained animals in movies, then you will love this film! Way better than just another horse that can hit its mark.

A: The dog was cute, I want one just like him now, too. But let's focus on Dujardin, because he truly was the star of the show. Before we saw this movie I had no idea who would win the Oscar for Best Actor, but it's clear to me now that Dujardin should win in a landslide for these reasons:

·      He's French, but his enunciation of the English language was impeccable. I could read his lips perfectly. The 1920s-esque subtitles were almost unnecessary. (UPDATE: Right before editing this post, Sarah read a quote from Dujardin in our latest Entertainment Weekly, “Sometimes I acted in English, sometimes in French, and sometimes I was just speaking complete jibberish.” Okay, so maybe scratch that last point by me.)
·      He had to act primarily with his facial expressions because he's playing a silent movie star, and he nailed it. He contorted his face and mugged for the camera so much you could've sworn he really was a star in Old Hollywood. Especially his smile and his eyebrows. He looked so cool.
·      Last, but not least, while we were watching the movie I kept thinking, "He's doing a great job, but he has no dialogue." And I believed that he should be marked down because of that. But then I realized that yeah, you can't HEAR what he's saying, but that doesn't mean he wasn't speaking the dialogue while filming because he was! And that goes back to his enunciation. He had to speak the lines like you normally would to get the necessary emotions across, otherwise it would have rang false. But he nailed it. I totally forgot that he was French while watching the movie. That's a testiment to his acting ability. (UPDATE: Same as the last one. Looks like Clooney’s right back in it for me.)

S: I agree! His enunciation was amazing considering I have heard him speak and he seriously has a strong French accent. 
Now, since I have heard him speak I had a hard time not picturing him with a French accent. Bejo, on the other hand, I know she has a French accent but since I haven't heard her voice, all I could picture her with was as this Southern Californian girl with an American accent. Your typical “girl next door.” They were both impressive and I think they both deserve all the accolades that they have gotten.

A: Well we've talked about how the actors did in their non-speaking roles, but we've neglected the part of the movie you DO hear - the music. Personally I loved it. It was fun when it needed to be, it was dramatic when he needed to be, it just worked.

S: I agree for the most part. It was a little campy for me at times, but I think it was supposed to be. It was quaint and completely different from most blockbuster movies. 

All right readers, I know that I haven't given very much input on this review. I think this is a lesson to be learned that we need to write the review the night that we see the movie so that all the information is fresh and vibrant. Lesson learned and it will not happen again!

A: Good point. We were really chatty leaving the theatre and now we're both struggling to remember what we said! Let's wrap this review up then. What's our final rating for "The Artist?”

S: To get the full impact you need to need to See It In The Theatres! It will be great to have on our collection shelf one day but it’s not one that we pull out on a quiet evening to just watch for the sake of it.

(Out of Five)

Next Post: Hopefully we will see one of the following movies this weekend, with a review to follow: "The Grey," "Haywire," or "A Dangerous Method."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sarah's Review of "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" (2011)

Directed by: Stephen Daldry

Starring: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow

Sarah's Introduction: Grief. We’ve all experienced it; that all-consuming, gut-wrenching, lie-on-the-floor-because-nothing-in-the-world-makes-sense feeling. That is how “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” feels throughout the entire movie. A beautiful film, almost an homage to the great city of New York, that reaches down and rips all the feelings of that day almost ten and a half years ago and puts them back in front of your face. And the story! Ah, the story of this young boy holding himself together after losing the only person in the world who he thought understood him. There is a moment in the film where the boy, Oskar Schell, says "If the sun were to go out, it would take eight minutes for the darkness to reach the Earth." This is what Oskar is holding onto. His journey in the film centers on finding the one lock a key his father left him fits into, trying to stretch out his “last eight minutes” with his father.

I did not see this movie with Andrew. Instead I saw it with a friend, Kelley Miller. Not exactly the chick flick of the year, but it was a good crying movie. I didn't outright cry, but throughout most of the movie it felt like there was a weight on my chest. This movie is overwhelming at times, which I really think was the point. It’s meant to get you out of your comfort zone because the main character is out of his comfort zone.

Because Andrew didn’t see this movie with me, he’ll be interviewing me, of sorts. So, Andrew, what questions do you have for me about “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close?”

Andrew: Well in all honesty, if we stopped the review with only what you just wrote, I think it would be a darn good review! But since you asked, what I want to know first and foremost is how the acting was, especially the boy who plays Oskar.

S: The acting is actually really amazing. The little boy, played by Thomas Horn, really makes you feel an array of emotion, from anger to laughing in a matter of minutes. I actually think that Sandra Bullock should have gotten an Oscar nod for Supporting Actress. She’s actually the character that I felt the most emotion for. Max von Sydow gave a great performance as well and he deserved his Oscar nod.

A: Interesting to hear that you thought Sandra was more powerful than the other characters. What was it about Max von Sydow's performance that you think earned him his Best Supporting Actor nomination? Was there more to it than him barely speaking?

S: There was, but I'm not going to tell you because it is a key element of the story. And there is no “barely” speaking. He literally does not talk throughout the movie.

A: Ah. Well then the readers and I will just have to see for ourselves then, eh? Ok, tell me about Tom Hanks' performance. He seems to be such a pivotal part of the movie but from the looks of it, he's not really in it much. Am I wrong?

S: He’s actually in the whole thing. There are several flashbacks and references to him throughout the movie. But I’m actually going to switch topics here for a minute and mention something Kelley said about the film. She said, "If they took away the whole 9/11 part, you wouldn’t be left with a story that was really original," and I think she’s right. While it was a great movie, what brought up the emotion wasn’t the direct storyline but the fact that this tragedy that affected the entire country is in the forefront of the movie.

A: So do you think the filmmakers were pandering a bit? Going for the easy tug of the heartstring?

S: I think so. I'm not sure the country needs to have all the images brought up again. That's not to say that we don't need to be reminded everyday, but we don’t need to be reminded of the death and destruction, instead it should be the fact that it brought this nation closer together than it had since Pearl Harbor. This film did exploit 9/11 to bring more emotion into it and from my perspective, that's just not right.

A: Well then I only have one more question, which is a two-part question.
Director Stephen Daldry has some great movies to his name in "The Hours," "The
Reader," and "Billy Elliot." What were your thoughts on his directing
and do you feel this movie belongs up there with those other three
films? (Two of which were also nominated for Best Picture.)

S: The directing is really well done, so I can't fault him for that. The movie is easy to follow and it flows very nicely. And what can I say? Just because it's not my favorite movie of the year, doesn't mean it’s not an Oscar-worthy film. In my opinion, for Best Picture the Academy looks for films that make you think. Whether that is the right way to do it or not isn't up to me, so you kind of have to take their nominations with a grain of salt. The award is a great honor for the person winning it, but does not always reflect the true quality of the film.

A: Interesting point of view on the Oscars, hun. I'll be interested to
see what our reactions are after we see "The Artist" later this week.

Now the last thing for this review: your final rating. This is a perfect
opportunity to explain how we'll rate movies on our blog:

 - Must Buy = we love the movie so much it's guaranteed we'll buy it
when it comes out. This is our highest rating for a movie.
- See In Theatres = it's not quite a lock for us to buy, but you
should definitely see it in theatres as soon as you can.
- Good Afternoon at the Theatre = we enjoyed seeing it in the theatre,
but it's not imperative to do so.
- Netflix It = wait until it comes out on DVD and then rent it/Netflix it.
- Skip It = not worth your time or money, obviously.

So what does "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" get, my dear?

S: Good Afternoon at the Theater. I missed having my original movie buddy to see it with, but glad that I got to see it with a friend who we are turning into a true movie fan!

A: Agreed!

(Out of Five)

Tomorrow's Post: Our goal tomorrow is to see "The Artist" and
hopefully get the review up tomorrow night. Otherwise the review will
get up on Friday. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Our Reactions to the 84th Academy Awards Nominations

Andrew: The nominations for the 84th Academy Awards were announced today at 8:30am EST, and overall, Sarah, we did pretty well with our predictions. But there were some things that I got wrong or you got wrong. Shocking!
Sarah: Of course we got some wrong! That's the nature of the beast. Slightly surprised that Harry Potter didn't get nominated for Best Picture considering it would have been a combination win for the entire collection, but oh well. I wasn't too impressed with the line-up for Best Picture.  Of course they had the shoe-ins but they left out some important ones. What about “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?” Not even a Best Adapted Screenplay nom! It really goes to show that the Academy is lacking in range of their tastes. I was surprised that I got as many right as I did. I think it is safe to say that the Academy enjoys labors of love (“The Ides of March,” “Albert Nobbs”) and for that I can't really fault them.
A: If we're going to start off by talking about snubs, let's start with the acting categories. To me the biggest ones that stand out are Michael Fassbender not getting a Best Actor nom for "Shame" and Albert Brooks not getting a Best Supporting Actor nom for "Drive." Brooks had been splitting awards with Christopher Plummer left and right up until now, so his omission is pretty startling. I think Plummer has it wrapped up now. Otherwise I'm fairly okay with the acting categories. We saw "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and I think Gary Oldman deserves his nomination for his quiet performance. Oh! And it's also his first Oscar nomination! EVER! How does that happen???
S: Well he is from across the pond, so maybe that has something to do with it. I'm not sure. Even though I didn’t think she would get on the list, it is a bummer that Shailene Woodley didn't get a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. But she can be proud of the fact that she has been getting so much recognition for her work in “The Descendants.” Octavia Spencer will win that category, so I'm not even sure why they put anyone else in with her, but I digress. Best Actor was really no surprise. I will be seeing Max Von Sydow in “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” tonight, so I will give my opinion of that in tomorrow’s blog post and I’ll tell you if I thought it was “all that and a bag of chips." We haven’t seen “The Better Life” so I can’t comment on Damien Bichir getting a Best Actor nom. Meryl Streep was a lock for Best Actress, but I’m afraid she will get the shaft for the 17th time. I could be wrong, but she has steep competition this year!
A: Good point on Woodley, I do think she's the one Supporting Actress candidate who missed out, but her spot that I predicted instead went to Janet McTeer. (Which you called, good job!)
Another snub that absolutely KILLS me is in the Best Original Score category. Last year Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won for their score in "The Social Network,”  but this year they were left out for their work in "Dragon Tattoo." THE MUSIC IS THE BEST PART OF THAT MOVIE! How does John Williams get TWO noms and these guys get left out? Yeah, "War Horse" had a good score but it wasn't Williams' best effort, and actually was pretty heavy-handed. That's my biggest beef.
S: Oh you silly boy, I will give you one word as to why he got two nominations. Speilberg. Simple and sweet. Both his nominations were for Speilberg movies and he’s a big man in Hollywood. He holds a ton of clout, and John Williams is a dinosaur in the industry. While I don't believe it is fair, they both hold a ton of Oscar cred and the nominations were typical "Oscar" picks.
A: One last thing I want to comment on with the acting categories is I’m really glad Jonah Hill and Nick Nolte got nominated for Supporting Actor. I’m still upset Nolte is the only nomination “Warrior” got, but he definitely deserved his. Also, I’m surprised there were nine Best Picture nominees, what with the new formula. Essentially each movie had to receive five percent of all the first-place votes, and that tells me that the Best Picture race might actually be more widespread than we originally thought.
S: Even though we may not agree with all of the picks, it will still be an entertaining night sure to be filled with gorgeous gowns and funny lines provided by Billy Crystal.  
Ok readers, a new element we are going to add to the blog is that once a month we will post some of our favorite movie memories and today will be the first time we do that.
In keeping with Oscar winning films, I would have to say that my favorite movie memory was seeing “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” in theaters and being so moved by the music. I had always loved going to the movies before that, but the score to that movie was so perfectly done that it opened my ears to more than what was going on in front of my eyes. What about you, Andrew?
A: Well besides the obvious answer of any time we go to see a movie together being my favorite movie-going experience (*wink*) I have a few. But for this post the one that comes to mind is seeing "Inglourious Basterds" for the first time and gripping the arms of my chair during the opening scene where Christoph Waltz absolutely owns it, and again in the same movie during the bar scene, in which Michael Fassbender owned it. It was top-notch acting by all and great directing by Quentin Tarantino and it's one reason I thought it should have won the Best Picture Oscar two years ago.
S: My cheesy husband! I still need to see that movie. Ok! Tomorrow I will be posting my review of “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” here on the blog, so be on the look-out for that! And as the Academy Awards get closer on February 26th, we will go more in-depth on the individual major awards and predict who we think will win them. Thank you for reading!

Notes: How did we do on our predictions last night? We both went 27-for-35! Sarah nailed the Best Actress category, while I went 4-for-5 in four categories. For Best Picture we had 8 of the nominees on our list, but were wrong in putting “Dragon Tattoo” and “Bridesmaids” on there; while we didn’t have “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” on our list. Overall, not too bad!

Monday, January 23, 2012

And The Nominees Are...: Our Predictions for the 84th Academy Awards Nominations

Andrew: Hello readers! I know Sarah and I say at the top of this blog that we are going to focus on movie reviews, and for the most part that's true. But because we're avid movie lovers in general we also have a fascination with the awards shows for films, and that includes the Academy Awards. And wouldn't you know it, Sarah, but the nominations for this year's Academy Awards are being announced tomorrow! What timing!

Sarah: Perfect timing works for me! I will definitely be watching “Good Morning America” tomorrow to watch the nominations unfold. This year has been an interesting year in movies. For the most part, the "Oscar-worthy" films have really stood out among the crowd. And, actually, there were some that fell off the radar *cough* “Warrior” *cough* and that is a real shame. 

A: You're spot on with the real Oscar candidates standing out above the rest. The real problem comes with guessing which of the nominees really aren’t front-runners. And with that we're going to kick off our Oscar Nominations Predictions. Just so you know, we're only going to focus on the main six categories tonight: Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Best Lead Actor and Actress, Best Director and Best Picture. Sarah, want to take a stab at which five gentlemen you think will be the nominees for Best Supporting Actor?

S: My predictions for Best Supporting Actor are:

 - Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
 - Nick Nolte, “Warrior”
 - Armie Hammer, “J. Edgar”
 - Kenneth Branagh, “My Week With Marilyn”
 - Alan Rickman, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”

Plummer is a shoe-in, and I know it’s probably in my dreams, but I do think Rickman deserves the nom. Call me crazy but Rickman and Nolte were the only ones to bring me to tears this year.

A: I have a couple of the same ones as you, and a couple of different ones. The ones I agree with you on are Plummer, Nolte and Branagh. But I have to disagree with you on Hammer and Rickman. While I think they both did a great job, I think Jonah Hill will get recognized for his low-key job in "Moneyball" and that Albert Brooks will get recognized for his portrayal of a mob boss in the underrated "Drive."

S: Alright, I agree that Jonah could pull a sneak attack. I do love that we both have some young blood on the lists. I did not like Brooks in 'Drive' so I will have to leave it at that. Ok, Andrew, what about the Supporting Actresses?

A: For Supporting Actress my predictions are:

 - Shailene Woodley, "The Descendents”
 - Octavia Spencer, “The Help”
 - Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
 - Berenice Bejo, "The Artist"
 - Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”

Spencer’s been the front-runner for a while so she’s an easy choice, and Chastain has had a breakout year (yet I haven’t seen any of her films this year). I'm really hoping McCarthy gets the nom because she deserves it and because it’s for a comedic role.

S: I agree with all of them except I think that McCarthy will be replaced with Janet McTeer. I am reading really good things about her performance in “Albert Nobbs” as a powerful, swaggering cross-dresser. It will be interesting. The Academy may decide that Woodley is a little green to be up with the big girls. It‘s really a toss-up for many of these except Spencer. Best Actor?

A: While I am interested in all the other awards, Best Actor is actually the award I think is the tightest. My predictions:

 - George Clooney, "The Descendents"
 - Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
 - Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"
 - Leonardo DiCaprio, “J. Edgar”
 - Michael Fassbender, “Shame”

Clooney got to cry over an unfaithful wife in a coma, Dujardin is the star of a silent film in 2011 and Pitt played real-life Oakland A's GM Billy Beane - the Academy eats that stuff up. The last two spots are the tough ones to pick, and I'm going to guess the Academy goes for Leo's performance in "J. Edgar" even though I wasn't a fan, and (I hope) Michael Fassbender gets nominated for "Shame.” He had an awesome year all-around but will probably get a nod for playing a sex-addict.

S: For this one, you and I are exactly on the same page. I would love to see Fassbender get a nomination because he is the future of Hollywood. He gives a powerhouse performance in every one of his roles. Not looking over the fact that he is incredibly good looking (I'm only human, c'mon) he is able to take the movie that he is in to the next level of art.

Ok, enough fawning over him. It's time for my predictions for Best Actress.

 - Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
 - Viola Davis, “The Help”
 - Michelle Williams, “My Week with Marilyn”
 - Rooney Mara, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
 - Glenn Close, “Albert Nobbs”

Hands down, Streep will get a nomination and she should. The woman has been in more movies than most actors could shake a stick at and she's good at it. She should probably win too, but that's getting ahead of myself.  Automatic nominations also go to Davis and Williams. They both gave amazing performances in their roles playing such iconic women. Mara threw herself into creating her version of Lisbeth Salander and it is an amazing transformation. The last spot is a little hard for me to pick because I have been hearing amazing things about both Tilda Swinton and Glenn Close for their roles in “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and “Albert Nobbs,” respectively. My money would probably be on Glenn Close.

A: To make this short, I agree with 4 out of your 5 predictions. The only one I'm going to go differently on is I think Glenn Close misses out and Tilda Swinton gets in. We haven't seen either movie, so this is pure speculation, but there's just something about how Close LOOKS in "Albert Nobbs" that strikes me the wrong way. I don't buy it. I have nothing else to add on the Best Actress nominees, you said all that needed to be said. So let's move on to Best Director.

S: Oh man this is where my expertise fails. I'm not good at predicting. So for my amateur predictions I am going to say:

 - Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
 - Alexander Payne, “The Descendents”
 - Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”
 - David Fincher, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
 - Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris”

Hazanavicius, Payne and Scorsese will be automatic. The last one will probably go to Allen for “Midnight in Paris” but I was not as impressed with that movie as a lot of people. It was very creative and art nouveau but I'm not sure about it being this hard-core Oscar film.

Ok, now this last category is a tough one. Best Picture is tough because this year the Academy introduced a new formula for determining the number of nominees (a change from the ten nominees the past two years). Will it be five? Seven? Ten? We won’t get into the specific formula, so we will just give you our projected top ten and see where it goes tomorrow.

A: First, let me say that I actually agree with all of your Best Director guesses. Of the five, I think Fincher is most likely to get bumped, and probably for "The Help" director, Tate Taylor. If Fincher does get bumped, I’ll be ticked. He got jobbed last year when he didn’t win for “The Social Network,” but I digress.

For Best Picture, we'll just list our top ten and then guess where the cut-off will PROBABLY be. My top ten for the Best Picture nominees, in order, are:

1.) The Artist
2.) The Descendents
3.) Hugo
4.) The Help
5.) Midnight in Paris
6.) Bridesmaids
7.) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
8.) The Tree of Life
9.) War Horse
10.) Moneyball

And if I had to guess (and that's what we're doing here) I'll say the cut-off is at "Dragon Tattoo." I’m probably overestimating there, though. Sarah, what do you think?

S: I agree with your guesses for Best Picture. I hate the idea that “Bridesmaids” will get in that list. In my opinion, it was grossly overrated, emphasis on gross. But I understand that I am in the minority on that. Well, readers, we know that this was a very long-winded's the Oscars. It's the definition of long-winded!

A: And after all the writing, and after all that reading if anyone actual reads this, the Oscar nominations are tomorrow morning at 8:48 AM! So I'm sure we'll be immediately wrong on a number of these guesses. Thank you, reader, for giving us your time. And hopefully we weren't TOO long winded!

Tomorrow's post: We review the actual Oscar nominations and give our take on who made it and who didn't.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snowed In with Lycans and Kate Beckinsale: Our "Underworld: Awakening" (2012) review

Directed By: Måns Mårlind & Björn Stein   Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea and Michael Ealy

Synopsis: In "Underworld: Awakening," Selene, the vampire Death Dealer of the first two "Underworld" installments, escapes imprisonment after having been cryogenically frozen for 12-years. She wakes up to a world where humans have discovered the existence of the Vampires and Lycans and have eradicated the world of both species. From there Selene must discover what happened to her and her lover Michael.

Our Review:
Sarah: Ok, so as it turns out we didn't escape the winter warlock by moving to Connecticut and the first snow-storm of the New Year trampled our plans to go into New York City to visit friends. So what do you do when you can't brave the ice-glazed roads? See a movie of course! Andrew, did we make the right choice to go see "Underworld: Awakening?"

Andrew: Well, my dear, considering how quickly we had to make a decision, and we wanted something that was not only entertaining but also not depressing, I think we made an excellent choice. Since we couldn't go to Manhattan to see our friends I think a mindless popcorn movie was exactly what we needed. Am I wrong in calling "Underworld" a mindless popcorn movie?

S: No, that’s exactly what it was. The story line was simple and straight to the point. Selene wakes up after being frozen for 12 years and she's pissed! A killing rampage seems like the right course of action. It was probably the most violent of any of the "Underworld" films to date, but that, in my opinion was what made it so entertaining. Otherwise the plot would have been waaaaay too simple and would have made for a very short movie.

A: I 100% agree. The strength of the "Underworld" franchise has never been the plot, the script or the acting. What it lacks in those areas it more than makes up for in action and style. Plus Kate Beckinsale does an awesome job at owning her role of Selene, per usual. I’d also have to give some props to the CGI for the Lycans. They could have very easily been bad and made the Lycans look cheesy, but I thought it was quite impressive at some times.

S: The only thing that I am a little bit confused over is that the movie ends on a cliffhanger. Beckinsale has said publicly that she wouldn't make any more "Underworld” movies after this one, but now she will have to. I wish they had tightened up the ending a little bit more. I understand that it’s almost like a re-vamp (haha, pun) of the series, but lets tighten it up a little more. And I know what you're going to say "It's not about the storyline, Sarah," but you know me, I have to find a little fault in such a simple flick.

A: Actually I don't disagree with you on that point. With an action movie about the eternal battle between vampires and werewolves, there's a natural suspension of disbelief. But what I can't ignore is that after the big final battle, it doesn't just end abruptly, it ends with an "Oh yeah, remember this thing we totally didn't have in this movie? That's going to be the focus of our next one!" And THAT'S what was abrupt. It's really a small thing and it won't take away from the movie as a whole, but it did bug me. Real quick: is there anything else you did or did not like about this film?

S: Well, I guess we will just have to wait till the next one to see how the two align. No, there was really nothing else that I did or didn't like. It was a fun movie to fight the bummer of not getting to go into the city for the day. Probably won't buy it when it comes out to DVD, but was fun to see on the big screen!

A: Yeah, we definitely won't be buying it (which, for our readers, is our highest compliment for a movie), but it was an entertaining way to kill an unexpected afternoon off. Okay Sarah, so what's our final verdict on "Underworld: Awakening?"

S: Slow day? See it in theaters. Otherwise? Netflix it.

(Out of Five Clapboards)

Tomorrow's post: Academy Award nomination predictions and/or our review of "The Artist"