February 25, 2008

Unlikely Oscar Winners and Poll Results

For the first time in a couple of years, the Cinecultist did not spend the Oscars at home, by ourselves, live blogging. This plan had its pros and cons. Attending an Oscar party means extra tasty treats for the commercial breaks and more people to potentially throw out witty quips about the celebrities' fashion choices but also more distracting chit chat over good acceptance speeches. CC is embarrassed to admit, we even shushed one of our friends—not a proud moment. All in all it was a fun night and we're certainly glad the writer's strike was resolved in enough time to have a pretty normal telecast. Although, jeez, did there need to be that many montages? It was montagalicious up in there. We almost expected to see a montage of the montages over the final credits, it was so self-congratulatory.

Favorite moments from the three plus hour show for Cinecultist included Tilda Swinton's crack about George Clooney wearing the nippled bat suit on the set of Michael Clayton, Jon Stewart's reintroduction of Marketa Irglova so she could give her acceptance speech for best song, and James McAvoy subtle flirting with Josh Brolin during one of the scripted introductions. We saw that look between them! A new bro-mance is born!

As for the official Cinecultist Oscar Pool, our winner is Martin X, who got 15 our of the 24 categories correct. Well done, Martin! Please email CC your info and whether you'd like a drink or some random DVDs from the Cinecultist vault as your prize. Thanks to everyone who entered, we all got a few at least. More than half of us predicted best picture, and there were lots of accurate best actor, best director(s) and best supporting actor votes. Yet only two people thought Marion Cotillard would take home best actress and one lone voice was rooting for Tilda. Also no one accurately chose the Best Documentary Feature, Taxi to the Dark Side. It's currently in theaters now, so as penance we should all go see it. The best foreign language winner The Counterfeiters is also playing now in New York and Los Angeles. It looks intriguing, as does that entry from Kazakhstan Mongol. Cinecultist totally didn't know Kazakhstan had a national cinema, that's awesome. Mongol comes out in June and stars the wonderful Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano as Genghis, so it's definitely on our To See list.

Posted by karen at 11:13 AM | Oscar race, poll results | Comments (0)

February 21, 2008

Montage Homage

Cinecultist has said it for a long time, Josh Horowitz is like the coolest person we've ever met. And he doesn't even have to try. Now thanks to the magic of editing in the above MTV.com clip, little pregnant Juno tells him so too. Though, Josh on Ellen Page is a little harsh: "She's like Abigail Breslin with the mouth of Dennis Miller." Ha.

Man, we miss working with this guy. He puts the fun back into movie fanaticism.

Posted by karen at 9:00 AM | MTV, Oscar race | Comments (0)

February 10, 2008

Chatting with NYT's Break Through Amy Ryan

Amy Ryan, flanked by John Ashton and Ed Harris, as Helene in Gone Baby Gone.

On Friday night the New York Times magazine hosted a conversation between editor Lynn Hirschberg and two of their featured subjects (and Oscar nominees) in this week's story on Breaking Through actresses Ellen Page and Amy Ryan, as well as Juno director Jason Reitman. After the fascinating hour and a half conversation, which featured discussions of their work in Juno and Gone Baby Gone as well as a cameo from portfolio photographer Ryan McGinley, Cinecultist had the opportunity to speak one on one with Amy in the green room. The critically lauded (she was nominated for two Tonys and now the best supporting Oscar nod) down-to-earth stage and screen actor couldn't have been nicer—she even complimented CC on our favorite earrings.

It’s so great to meet you because I’ve been talking about your performance ever since I saw it.
Oh, gosh. Thank you.

Something I thought that was interesting that you brought up in the talk tonight was that in your theater career, and then again in your movie career, you’ve had these breakthroughs and I wondered if there was anything that you thought was similar about these two moments?
It is similar to what Ellen was saying about when you read a script and it’s somewhat inexplicable, but your body is just propelling you forward [to do the project]. I think the common thread is that when I first read Uncle Vanya and actually Streetcar, these two plays, I thought 'I have to play these parts.' And when I read Capote, I knew this was a role I had to play, Marie Dewey. I just had to. It was the complexity of her being star struck in tandem with her neighbors just being murdered. What does that feel like, to be this person? I wanted to figure that out. And then with Helene [in Gone Baby Gone], how do you play a drug addict who is considering the fame and also wondering if her daughter is alive or dead, just trying to survive?

So it’s more about the chance to play a certain role rather than, 'Now the world will know me and I’ll have a chance to be famous?'
No, never had that. I remember when I was a kid seeing a play with a famous actress in it and I remember saying to my mom, ‘I hope I’m good before I’m famous.’ Because when you’re famous people will tell you you’re good.

I’m glad this has happened later in my life because I know I’m good at some things, but there’s going to be a lot of things that I know I’m shitty at. At least I know what I know now. Because I wasn’t as smart as Ellen, I keep having to remind myself of her age! She’s a phenomenal, grounded, intelligent person. Man, this girl is impressive. [Ed note. Up close Ellen Page is also very, very tiny. So much sardonic for such a little package.]

I know!
Because I didn’t have that, so I’m glad that it happened later in life.

And do you think being a New York actress, and being based here, is about that too?
For me it is. First of all there’s nothing like coming back home to New York where any other block you walk down, someone’s story is bigger than your own. You’re not the star. You’re not the center of attention. Everyone has a drama on each new block. Also after drama school I didn’t go back into training, I just started training by watching behavior in the streets and the subways. In that sense I need New York, I need that. I think it’s the balance of life.

Do you have a favorite place to watch movies in New York?
I watch movies on my wall now in my house, because I have a projector. But to go to the movies, nothing beats the Zeigfeld. You feel like you’ve stepped back in time. You feel like you have to get dressed up to go to the movies there. I also really appreciate—even though I do think the screens are too small—but I love a rainy day with no plans and you walk by the Angelika. They always have something interesting and worth seeing. I do wish their screens were a little bigger but that’s New York real estate.

Posted by karen at 10:34 PM | Amy Ryan, NYT, Oscar race | Comments (0)

January 29, 2008

Dudes, Oscar Pool!

Matthew Baldwin over at the excellent blog Defective Yeti has created an Academy Awards ballot function and we've set up an official Cinecultist Oscar Pool. Log in*, pick your favorites (at random if you like, sometimes these awards are total crap shoots) and then they'll be emailed to CC. After the awards are announced, we'll tabulate the winner. It'll be fun! Yay, betting! And as a further incentive the top dog will get a mailing of random DVDs from the Cinecultist's collection or a congratulatory drink, whichever you prefer. Plus bragging rights, of course.

The Oscars will air, in some form or another, on February 24 at 5 pm PST. If you need some more professional handicapping, you can check out EW's coverage.

If the above DY link doesn't work, you can search for our pool under #4042.

Posted by karen at 5:01 PM | betting, Oscar race | Comments (0)

January 13, 2008

Blargh, An Hour with Billy Bush. Painful

Some of our favorite performances of the year are getting Golden Globes right now, but Cinecultist is sitting through an hour with Billy Bush and the crack reporting team from Access Hollywood to find out the results. Congrats to Tina Fey, Cate Blanchett, Longford, Jon Hamm and Mad Men, Glenn Close, Extras and La Vie En Rose's Marion Cotillard, who Billy astutely pointed out is more attractive in real life than she was as Edith Piaf. Thanks Billy boy for the freakin' newsflash. Gawd, Cinecultist loathes him. So. So. Much.

Full results are available on the Hollywood Foreign Press site. Read our previous coverage of Longford, Mad Men and Extras. Add them all to your Netflix queue.

December 21, 2007

More Awards, Best of Lists and Such

The Ah-ctors (aka the Screen Actors Guild) weighed in on their favorite films of the year, and like Cinecultist enjoyed Into the Wild's performances giving the ensemble cast a nomination, among others.

IndieWire's Critics Poll (a spin off on the now defunct Village Voice poll edited by Dennis Lim) is also out now. Our colleagues liked There Will Be Blood, Zodiac and No Country For Old Men as their top three. Cinecultist was not surprised to see Syndromes and a Century also near the top of the list. We know quite a few of the folks in the voting pool and they tend to go nutso for those obscure Thai films about memory and loss. We also now apparently need to find a way to see Secret Sunshine, a Korean movie they named the best undistributed film of the year.

Also, Cinecultist wants to mention we have such a burgeoning crush on Michael Cera. One of his next movies, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist just finished shooting here in New York, and according to the Longstockings is a great teen book. Maybe we'll add it to the winter vacation reading pile.

Posted by karen at 1:23 PM | indieWire, Michael Cera, SAG | Comments (0)

December 18, 2007

Looking Back on 2007, Viewing-Wise

The Cinecultist has been slightly under the weather lately, so while trying to take it easy this weekend we constructed our top 10 list for 2007. Now granted, CC still have two weeks worth of screenings we could (and probably will) try to cram in, so bear that in mind when you analyze our choices. Looking back it's been a strong year for drama, full of dysfunctional families, cultural malaise and senseless violence at the movies. But, CC still managed to toss a musical comedy, a Western and a summer action blockbuster on the pile. Because basically that's how we roll, viewing taste-wise.

After the jump, we also listed the rest of the movies we saw this year divided into the categories stuff we liked, stuff that we are now indifferent to and stuff that is just painful to recall. When you watch this many movies in a year (nearly two a week, on average! and that's not counting dvds or repertory), sometimes you have to sit through utter garbage. But if Cinecultist didn't suffer a little, we know we'd never discover the hidden gems, those little features that make this delightful obsession all worth while.

1. No Country for Old Men
2. There Will Be Blood
3. The Savages $ @
4. Michael Clayton @
5. The Bourne Ultimatum @
6. The Wind that Shakes the Barley
7. Enchanted $ @
8. I’m Not There
9. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford $
10. Zodiac $
(special award) 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (saw this year, but comes out in January and it’s amazing.) @

$ = paid money to see
@ = didn’t watch alone

Saw and Enjoyed
Catch and Release. Jennifer Garner at a grieving granola chick in the Pacific Northwest kind of hit a cord for us.

The Lives of Others. East Berlin was not a happy place but this is a great movie.

The Namesake. Kal Penn rewards us for our long term support of Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. $ @

Blades of Glory. Funnier than you’d expect a one-note comedy about ice skating should be.

Black Book. Only Paul Verhoeven would dare make Nazis sexy.

The TV Set. If you’re lovin’ Juno, give Reitman’s other fellow second generation director Jake Kasdan's feature from this year a go.

Year of the Dog. How much do you love Peter Sarsgaard’s asexual vegetarian dog rescuer?

Hot Fuzz. Simon Pegg makes darn funny movies.

Waitress. $ The affection for Kerry Russell is not unfounded.

Fay Grim. Hal Hartley still makes movies that make us think.

Once. Bringing back the musical, one busking Irishman at a time.

Knocked Up. CC laughed until it hurt during our screening but we got tired of the over-enthusiasm and subsequent backlash against this movie.

La Vie en Rose. Marion Cottilard is a revelation in this one.

A Mighty Heart. @ Just pretend this isn’t an Angelina Jolie movie.

Broken English. This is how neurotic real New York single women are.

Ratatouille. $ Paris, this is my town baby.

Rescue Dawn. Christian Bale, you are the man. Steve Zahn isn’t too shabby either.

Sunshine. Like Solaris and 2001 but with Michelle Yeoh in it.

Exiled. Bad ass Asian gangsters but with a Western twist.

3:10 to Yuma. @ Better than we expected for a nouveau Western with Russell Crowe.

Into the Wild. Sean Penn brings out lots of great quiet performances and some gorgeous scenery.

My Kid Could Paint That. Quite well edited, and we’re not just saying that because we’re friends with the editor.

Lars and the Real Girl. $ @ Ryan Gosling does it again.

Gone Baby Gone. @ Amy Ryan is our favorite new discovery of the year.

Persopolis. A good, woman-centric story about life in a part of the world we want to know more about.

Juno. $ Ellen Page is great though the script has some overly cutesy moments to it.

Sat Through
The Water Horse
The Kite Runner
Alvin and the Chipmunks
The Golden Compass
Southland Tales $ @
Margot at the Wedding @
Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
Lions for Lambs
Bee Movie
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
The Darjeeling Limited
Transformers (saw on an airplane, okay?)
Sydney White
The Jane Austen Book Club $
The Brave One
December Boys
I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
The Nanny Diaries
Mr. Bean’s Holiday
Super Bad @
The Invasion
The Last Legion $
Becoming Jane
El Cantante $
No Reservations
Goya’s Ghosts $ @
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix $ @
License to Wed
You Kill Me
Ocean’s Thirteen $ @
Mr. Brooks @
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End $
The Wendell Baker Story
Home of the Brave
The Ex
Paris, je t’aime
Private Fears in Public Places
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters
The Host
300 @
Avenue Montaigne
Music and Lyrics
Blood and Chocolate @
God Grew Tired of Us
Run, Fat Boy, Run (comes out next year)
The 11th Hour
Hannah Takes the Stairs
Great World of Sound $ @
Dans Paris
Day Night Day Night @
East of Havana
The Wayward Cloud @
Tears of the Black Tiger

Want/Need to See Before the Oscars
Sweeney Todd
Charlie Wilson’s War
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Eastern Promises
Away From Her

Painful. Utterly Painful. That’s 2 Hours of Our Life We’ll Never Get Back
Because I Said So. Worst Mandy Moore movie ever. And that’s saying something. $ @
Exterminating Angels. This was an art house French film that was actually porn, but not in a good way.
Evening. Dear god, the cheesy flash back-induced pain. It still hurts.

December 14, 2007

There Will Be Blood at the Golden Globe Announcements

Watching the announcements of the Golden Globe nominations yesterday, Cinecultist was struck by the sheer inappropriateness of Quentin Tarantino as an announcer. Dude, it may have been too early in the morning for you to get a stylist to comb your hair but seriously, keep your opinions to yourself. We don't want any of your mini-commentary, jeez. See the full video for yourself but at the announcement of Diablo Cody's nomination for her Juno script he cheered (1:35) then every time he mentioned Paul Thomas Anderson's movie, he said the title in an increasingly more ridiculous voice (:45, :03). A cross between a circus barker and a wrestling match announcer, CC couldn't decide if snarky QT was offering homage or mockery. "There Will Be Blooooood!" Though of course, Cinecultist is now compelled to also say that movie name in that very same voice every time we use it.

Maybe QT is just miffed that PTA beat him to the punch on that excellent title. Although if Tarantino ever named one of his movies There Will Be Blood, the obvious response from his fans would have to be, "really? well, duh."

February 25, 2007

Academy Award Predictions for '07

With only an hour and a half to go until the 79th annual Academy Awards get under way, (be sure to check out our liveblogging with fellows Gothamists Jen Chung and Margaret Harper) the Cinecultist looked over the nominees and offers up our predictions in the major categories. How cloudy is the crystal ball this year? Only time and the envelopes will tell but CC has a good feeling about our ability to peer into the minds of the tried and true Oscar voters.

Supporting Actress:
Could it be anyone besides Jennifer Hudson?
No, it couldn't. And she lost it at the podium thanking her grandmother and God.

Supporting Actor:
Two months ago CC would've said Eddie Murphy was the shoo-in but now with the Norbet factor, we're going to go Mark Wahlberg.
And it goes to the old guy, Alan Arkin.

Foreign Language Film:
Pan's Labyrinth seems to have the traction.
Wow, totally suprised that the Academy liked The Lives of Others best, though CC thought it was great too.

Animated Feature:
We loved Monster House but we bet Oscar will prefer Cars.
Totally wrong on this one, they loved Happy Feet.

Writing (Adapted):
How we wish it could be Children of Men but we're going to go with The Departed.
The Departed it is.

Writing (Original):
Could it be anything besides The Queen?
Oy, it's Little Miss Sunshine written by Matthew Broderick's former assistant.

Documentary Feature:
Here's the moment where Al Gore announces his candidacy in '08 as he clutches the statue for An Inconvenient Truth in his hot little hand.
No surprise "my fellow Americans," it's Truth for the win.

Gawd, CC loves Helen Mirren, as will Oscar, even though she's won every other award she's been nominated for this season.
Right again and lovely Helen brings her purse up to the stage to accept her statue.

Forest Whitaker because he's too scary not to get it.
Hooray for Forest, he really deserves it.

Best Director:
Everyone agrees that this will be Marty's year for The Departed.
And it is. Who's cuter than Martin Scorsese? Nobody.

Best Picture:
It's all about Babel baby.
Wow, at this point [12:15 freakin' a.m.!] we're almost too tired to care that it went to The Departed instead.

Whew, swami Cinecultist is tired now. We're popping out now to stock up on some extra diet Coke and conciliatory/celebratory frozen yogurt for after the telecast. We'll be updating this post as the results come in.

Posted by karen at 6:26 PM | Oscar race | Comments (0)

January 24, 2007

Dude, So Called It

Okay, so Cinecultist didn't get around to blogging yesterday about the Oscar nominations because well, could they have been more predictable? Seriously, CC walked out of both The Queen and The Last King of Scotland and declared Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker the winners right then and there. Don't believe us? Ask our grandmother and editor at Radar respectively, CC called each with the breathless news.

But Little Miss Sunshine for a Best Picture of the Year nom? Are you kidding? This movie is so beyond overrated, and CC's been saying it to anyone who will listen since we saw it at last year's Sundance series at BAM. Lame attempts at quirk, precocious little child actress, dysfunctional families are SO fascinating, blah blah blah. Even the idea of the Little Indie That Could is just so overplayed, we're bored even blogging about it.

Three movies that we would point out to the more discerning viewer who wants to pick and choose among the flicks lauded this year by the Academy (but will probably loose in their respective categories):

- Please see Iraq In Fragments, the nominee for best documentary which will loose to An Inconvenient Truth. Al Gore and his return to public life by scaring us with global warming is nice and all, but this documentary about life on the ground in Iraq will open your eyes to a whole new world. It's stunning.

- Please see Half Nelson, which contains Ryan Gosling's spectacular best actor nominated performance that will loose to Whitaker. As the drug addicted school teacher bonding with his Brooklyn student, Gosling is a revelation, and we're not just saying that because we know a few people who worked on the production two summers ago.

- Please see The Lives of Others, the nominee for best foreign language film which will loose to Pan's Labyrinth. A German movie about life in East Berlin during the reign of the secret police during the '80s, it's a quite riveting thriller about being an artist under a totalitarian regime. It doesn't hit American theaters until Feb. 9, so put it in the calendar or write yourself a post-it or something.

Posted by karen at 4:39 PM |