Sunday, February 17, 2008

Barone Picks the Oscars

My lazy ass finished just in time to pick the Oscars. I'm only doing this for the categories I care about and my choices are all curvy.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Away From Her
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood

This is easy. It was the best movie of the year and the script had to play some role in it right?

Writing (Original Screenplay)

Lars and the Real Girl
Michael Clayton
The Savages

Thats 2 easy ones in a row. Screenplay of the year. There's that damn Ratatouille, I'm trying not to be all snide about a Pixar film getting a screenplay nomination but its real hard.


The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood

My first choice would be Into the Wild because it was fricking beautiful but no luck. I'll settle for There Will be Blood because after Daniel Day-Lewis it was the best thing going for it.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There)
Ruby Dee (American Gangster)
Saoirse Ronan (Atonement)
Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)

Its hard not to go with Beadie from The Wire or Tilda but I have to give Cate at least one statue this year.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)
Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War)
Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild)
Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)

Not even up for discussion.


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood

Hopefully, this will be the Coen brothers year.

Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age)
Julie Christie (Away From Her)
Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
Laura Linney (The Savages)
Ellen Page (Juno)

The only category where I have no business picking one since all I've seen is Juno but the hell with that Ellen Page deserves it.

Actor in a Leading Role

George Clooney (Michael Clayton)
Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)
Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)

Damnit! I'm giving this to Clooney. So what if I waxed all poetic about Day-Lewis in my There Will be Blood review. Clooney was off the charts in Michael Clayton and I just liked that movie more.

Best Picture

Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men

There Will be Blood

Well, what was the point of listing all the movies during the year if I didn't want my #1 movie to get the Oscar?

The Final 2007 List

  1. No Country for Old Men
  2. Juno
  3. Michael Clayton
  4. Into the Wild
  5. Zodiac
  6. Gone Baby Gone
  7. Eastern Promises
  8. There Will Be Blood
  9. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  10. Atonement
  11. The Bourne Ultimatum
  12. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  13. Charlie Wilson's War
  14. The Lookout
  15. American Gangster
  16. 3:10 to Yuma
  17. In the Valley of Elah
  18. Talk to Me
  19. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  20. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
  21. Before the Devil Knows Your Dead
  22. Breach
  23. Hot Fuzz
  24. 300
  25. Grindhouse
  26. The Kingdom
  27. Stardust
  28. Superbad
  29. Reign Over Me
  30. Hairspray
  31. Rescue Dawn
  32. I Am Legend
  33. Black Snake Moan
  34. Ocean's Thirteen
  35. Enchanted
  36. The Great Debaters
  37. The Simpsons Movie
  38. The Golden Compass
  39. The Brave One
  40. I'm Not There
  41. Live Free or Die Hard
  42. We Own the Night
  43. Mr. Brooks
  44. Spider-Man 3
  45. 30 Days of Night
  46. Rendition
  47. The Darjeeling Limited
  48. DOA: Dead or Alive
  49. Transformers
  50. Beowulf
  51. Smokin' Aces
  52. Shooter
  53. 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
  54. National Treasure: Book of Secrets
  55. Halloween
  56. The Mist
  57. Blades of Glory
  58. Shoot 'Em Up
  59. Resident Evil: Extinction
  60. Reno 911!: Miami
  61. The Condemned
  62. Ghost Rider
  63. Fred Claus
  64. Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
  65. Pathfinder

I moved things around for the final countdown. Mainly I wanted to have Bourne be the first movie outside the top 10, Harry Potter and Pirates inside the top 20, and everything outside of the top 50 should be ignored. All in all, 2007 was probably the best year that I have chronicled in my very limited time as a chronicler.

There Will Be Blood

And we finally have reached the last review for 2007. Screw you, I know its halfway through February but to be honest I have no idea how I was able to finish this at all. Every year I have to wait nearly a month until that final universally acclaimed movie shows up around here. This time around it was There Will Be Blood. Even though I will not be rating it as the best of movie of the year, it was definitely worth the wait. It just looked incredible and I do not have enough words of praise for Daniel Day-Lewis.

There Will Be Blood is a film where it is less about the plot and more about the character. This is the story of Daniel Plainview; his rise to power and his descent into damn near madness. Plainview is another in a long line of Day-Lewis immersions into character. With each decision he makes, you can see the level of contempt he has for everything and everyone around him. Although the story is a little long and kind of ends abruptly, the life of Plainview is so engrossing that I have very little criticism for the movie. I feel that is kind of unfair to judge other actors against Day-Lewis. His work is startling here; he has the ability to terrify me with just a stare. Maybe that’s more about me being a wuss. I can accept that.

There’s not much to say about the rest of There Will Be Blood. Everyone else just gets bulldozed by Day-Lewis. Paul Dano tries to overact enough to be noticed but all he is able to accomplish is to make me laugh. When he was “preaching” I didn’t know what to think, it was so hilariously over-the-top. And it just got worse from there. I was thankful when the bowling alley scene finally occurred.

One last note, this was a thing of beauty. Just nothingness for as far as the eye can see. I likes me some nothingness. Especially when it is accompanied by strange music.

Let's wrap this up so I can finally close 2007. There Will Be Blood; good. Daniel Day-Lewis: great. At least see this once just to experience Daniel Plainview.

9 out of 10

Sunday, February 3, 2008

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Honestly, how much time do I need to spend on National Treasure: Book of Secrets? It’s the sequel to a movie based on hidden civil war treasure and freemasons and secret Benjamin Franklin inventions and whatever the hell else happened the first time around. This was the same exact movie, with the same exact ridiculousness. Well maybe more ridiculousness but I am unsure if that makes it worse or better.

Um, Gates’s ancestor may have conspired in the killing of President Lincoln and Ben Gates cannot let that stand. So he gets the gang back together and embarks on another wild goose chase with barely decipherable clues leading to even more barely decipherable clues leading to treasure. That’s yer story. But since this is a sequel we need to add some nonsense in the interim between the two movies, so Cage and Kruger split up for no reason whatsoever just so there can be some tension when they meet up this time around. Gates’s little buddy lost all his money to the IRS so he is desperate enough to do something stupid. And for whatever reason Gates’ mom and dad haven’t spoken in decades so we can get even more tension. TENSION. Ahh sweet blockbuster how cookie cutter can you get.

This time around we find out that there is actually zero police presence in England. You can have a high-speed chase go for as long as you want without worrying about a pesky bobby showing up to ruin your fun. Its also possible to kidnap the President if you force the United States government into having a party in a place of your choosing. Finally, there is a entire city made of gold underneath Mt. Rushmore just chilling. Plus the Native Americans who built the place constructed an entrance that stood up for centuries even though it seemed to be a couple sticks of wood holding up boulders. God, these movies are stupid.

The problem I have with the National Treasure franchise is that it is not dumb on a level of Alien vs. Predator so I can't even get mad at it. Instead you get a vanilla blockbuster that is completely inoffensive. Is that a recommendation?

5 out of 10

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

I’m out of energy. 2007 was a long year so I need to just write these last few reviews and put the damn thing to bed. Before the Devil Knows Your Dead was a phenomenal movie that definitely flew in under the radar. It had a big name cast, famous director, and the always-reliable heist storyline but it still never really became a box office success. Even with that the case, it still gets high marks from me.

Although Before the Devil Knows Your Dead would be classified as a heist film, it takes a couple of unexpected turns. First its brothers robbing their own parents, throw in that one of the brothers is a secret heroin addict, and you end with a nice and depressing conclusion. Sidney Lumet keeps everything fresh by splintering the time line and replaying sections of the story from different characters point of views. So you get to hear the other-side of phone conversations later on or discover what someone was doing when they were missing from an important scene. This allowed for Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, and Albert Finney’s characters to all have their arcs fleshed out and make their choices that much more meaningful.

You cannot go wrong with a heist story. Now Before the Devil Knows Your Dead isn’t exactly Ocean’s Eleven, it is much more depressing than happy go lucky. Even with the darker turn of events it is still difficult to turn your eyes away. There is never a point in the movie where the thieves are in control. Hoffman’s character constantly thinks that he is in control of the situation but he is deluding himself. As for Hawke, Hank has never been in control of any part of his life. This robbery held the promise of fixing many of his problems but it just made things worse. It’s fascinating to watch the 2 brothers scramble to pick up the pieces of their lives after the failed heist. And the ending more than lived up to my expectations as everything kept spiraling to this conclusion that I was wondering if the creators had the guts to go through with.

All of the performances were on the money. 2007 was a packed year for Philip Seymour Hoffman so I wouldn’t call this his best work but it was definitely well worth the price of admission. Ethan Hawke seems to be at his best when his character is desperate and over his head. He just reeks of panic throughout the movie. Albert Finney is amazing as the heartbroken father looking for closure. And finally Marisa Tomei is very much naked, very much a lot. I have nothing to add to that. Wait I forgot to mention Beadie pops up as Hank’s ex. Amy Ryan had a nice year.

Let's wrap this up. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead was sweet and should have been seen by a larger audience. Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of the best actors working today and solidified that statement with his work in 2007. Hooray and let's move on.

9 out of 10