31 January 2009

César Nominees 2009

The nominees for this year's Césars, better known as the French equivalent to the Academy Awards, were announced over a week ago, and for some reason I'm only just now getting a chance to go over them. A French copaine of mine tells me that, similar to several of my favorite Gallic films (Betty Blue, anything by Assayas), the French don't seem to care much for Laurent Cantet's The Class, even though it won the Palme d'Or, was France's official submission for the Oscars and is apparently nominated in several categories at the Césars. Obviously, I haven't seen most of the year's nominees, but I think it's a bit criminal to have ignored both Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Devos for A Christmas Tale in favor of Jean-Paul Roussillon and Anne Cosigny. I'd put my money on Guillaume Depardieu for best actor, à la Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. You can see the full awards via the Alternative Film Guide, and the ceremony will be held on 27 February. The nominees are as follows:

Meilleur film français [Best French Film]

Entre les murs [The Class] - dir. Laurent Cantet
Il y a longtemps que je t'aime [I've Loved You So Long] - dir. Philippe Claudel
Mesrine (Mesrine: L'instinct de mort; Mesrine: L'ennemi public n° 1) - dir. Jean-François Richet
Paris - dir. Cédric Klapisch
Le premier jour du reste de ta vie [The First Day of the Rest of Your Life] - dir. Rémi Bezançon
Séraphine - dir. Martin Provost
Un conte de Noël [A Christmas Tale] - dir. Arnaud Desplechin

Meilleur réalisateur [Best Director]

Rémi Bezançon - Mesrine
Laurent Cantet - Entre les murs
Arnaud Desplechin - Un conte de Noël
Martin Provost - Séraphine
Jean-François Richet - Mesrine

Meilleur acteur [Best Actor]

Vincent Cassel - Mesrine
François-Xavier Demaison - Coluche, l'histoire d'un mec
Guillaume Depardieu - Versailles
Albert Dupontel - Deux jours à tuer
Jacques Gamblin - Le premier jour du reste de ta vie

Meilleure actrice [Best Actress]

Catherine Frot - Le crime est notre affaire
Yolande Moreau - Séraphine
Kristin Scott Thomas - Il y a longtemps que je t'aime
Tilda Swinton - Julia
Sylvia Testud - Sagan

Meilleur acteur dans un second rôle [Supporting Actor]

Benjamin Biolay - Stella
Claude Rich - Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera
Jean-Paul Roussillon - Un conte de Noël
Pierre Vaneck - Deux jours à tuer
Roschdy Zem - La fille de Monaco

Meilleure actrice dans un second rôle [Supporting Actress]

Jeanne Balibar - Sagan
Anne Consigny - Un conte de Noël
Edith Scob - L'heure d'été
Karin Viard - Paris
Elsa Zylberstein - Il y a longtemps que je t'aime

Meilleur premier film [Best First Film]

Home - dir. Ursula Meier
Il y a longtemps que je t'aime - dir. Philippe Claudel
Mascarades - dir. Lyes Salem
Pour elle - dir. Fred Cavayé
Versailles - dir. Pierre Schoeller

Meilleur scénario original [Original Screenplay]

Séraphine - Marc Abdelnour, Martin Provost
Le premier jour du reste de ta vie - Rémi Bezançon
Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis [Welcome to the Sticks] - Dany Boon, Alexandre Charlot, Franck Magnier
Il y a longtemps que je t'aime - Philippe Claudel
Un conte de Noël - Arnaud Desplechin, Emmanuel Bourdieu

Meilleur scénario adaptation [Adapted Screenplay]

Deux jours à tuer - Eric Assous, Jérôme Beaujour, Jean Becker, François d'Épenoux
Le crime est notre affaire - François Caviglioli, Pascal Thomas
Entre les murs - François Bégaudeau, Robin Campillo, Laurent Cantet
Mesrine - Abdel Raouf Dafri, Jean-François Richet
La belle personne - Christophe Honoré, Gilles Taurand

Meilleure photographie [Best Cinematography]

Séraphine - Laurent Brunet
Mesrine - Robert Gantz
Un conte de Noël - Eric Gautier
Home - Agnès Godard
Faubourg 36 [Paris 36] - Tom Stern

Meilleur film étranger [Best Foreign Film]

Eldorado - dir. Bouli Lanners - Belgium
Gomorra [Gomorrah] - dir. Matteo Garrone - Italy
Into the Wild - dir. Sean Penn - USA
Le silence de Lorna [Lorna's Silence] - dir. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne - Belgium
There Will Be Blood - dir. Paul Thomas Anderson - USA
Two Lovers - dir. James Gray - USA
Valse avec Bashir [Waltz with Bashir] - dir. Ari Folman - Israel

Meilleur film documentaire [Best Documentary]

Elle s'appelle Sabine [Her Name Is Sabine] - dir. Sandrine Bonnaire
J'irai dormir à Hollywood [Hollywood, I'll Sleep over Tonight] - dir. Antoine de Maximy
Les plages d'Agnès [The Beaches of Agnès] - dir. Agnès Varda
Tabarly - dir. Pierre Marcel
La vie moderne [Modern Life] - dir. Raymond Depardon

Meilleur espoir masculin [Best Male Newcomer]

Ralph Amoussou - Aide-toi, le ciel t’aidera
Laurent Capelluto - Un conte de Noël
Marc-André Grondin - Le premier jour du reste de ta vie
Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet - La belle personne
Pio Marmai - Le premier jour du reste de ta vie

Meilleure espoir féminin [Best Female Newcomer]

Marilou Berry - Vilaine
Louise Bourgoin - La fille de Monaco
Anaïs Demoustier - Les grandes personnes
Déborah François - Le premier jour du reste de ta vie
Léa Seydoux - La belle personne

Meilleur court métrage [Best Short Film]

Les miettes - dir. Pierre Pinaud
Les paradis perdus - dir. Hélier Cisterne
Skhizein - dir. Jérémy Clapin
Taxi Wala - dir. Lola Frederich
Une leçon particulière - dir. Raphaël Chevènement

30 January 2009

2009 Notebook: Vol 3

I'm thinking that I may create a database somewhere online to keep track of my 2009 viewings, but as it stands now, my nose is like Niagara Falls, my ear like a fucking church bell and I'm still waiting for the antibiotics to kick in. Here's the last 10 films I've seen, all of which will be spoken about in more depth at a later date. All I'll say now is that Żuławski's Possession officially placed itself onto that list of my all-time favorites. January is a good month to resort to some of your old faithfuls (Muriel's Wedding, ha!), especially when your December was not only jam-packed with film watching, but jam-packed with films like Revolutionary Road, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Gran Torino. All of us deserve a month off (at least).

Brilliant! (?)

La vie nouvelle [A New Life] - dir. Philippe Grandrieux - France - 2002 - N/A - with Zachary Knighton, Anna Mouglalis, Marc Barbé, Zsolt Nagy, Raoul Dantec, Vladimir Zintov

Not Brilliant!

Via Appia - dir. Jochen Hick - Germany - 1990 - Strand Releasing - with Peter Senner, Guilherme de Pádua, Yves Jansen


The Dead Girl - dir. Karen Moncrieff - USA - 2006 - First Look - with Brittany Murphy, Toni Collette, Rose Byrne, Mary Beth Hurt, Marcia Gay Harden, Kerry Washington, Nick Searcy, Giovanni Ribisi, Mary Steenburgen, James Franco, Piper Laurie, Josh Brolin, Bruce Davison

Happiness - dir. Todd Solondz - USA - 1998 - Lionsgate - with Jane Adams, Dylan Baker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lara Flynn Boyle, Cynthia Stevenson, Ben Gazzara, Louise Lasser, Rufus Read, Camryn Manheim, Jon Lovitz, Jared Harris, Marla Maples, Evan Silverberg, Dan Moran, Molly Shannon

Muriel's Wedding - dir. P.J. Hogan - Australia/France - 1994 - Miramax - with Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, Bill Hunter, Jeanie Drynan, Gennie Nevinson, Matt Day, Daniel Lapaine, Sophie Lee, Roz Hammond, Belinda Jarrett, Pippa Grandison, Gabby Millgate, Daniel Wyllie

Palindromes - dir. Todd Solondz - USA - 2004 - Wellspring (R.I.P.) - with Emani Sledge, Valerie Shusterov, Hannah Freiman, Rachel Corr, Will Denton, Sharon Wilkins, Shayna Levine, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ellen Barkin, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Matthew Faber, Debra Monk, Alexander Brickel, Richard Masur, Robert Agri, Richard Riehle, John Gemberling

Possession - dir. Andrzej Żuławski - France/West Germany - 1981 - Blue Underground - with Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill, Heinz Bennett, Margit Carstensen, Michael Hogben, Johanna Hofer

Red Road - dir. Andrea Arnold - UK/Denmark - 2006 - Tartan Films (R.I.P.) - with Kate Dickie, Tony Curran, Martin Compston, Nathalie Press, Paul Higgins

Storytelling - dir. Todd Solondz - USA - 2001 - Fine Line Features (R.I.P.) - with Mark Webber, Selma Blair, Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Robert Wisdom, Leo Fitzpatrick, Julie Hagerty, Jonathan Osser, Lupe Ontiveros, Noah Fleiss, Aleksa Palladino, Franka Potente, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Xander Berkeley

Welcome to the Dollhouse - dir. Todd Solondz - USA - 1995 - Sony Pictures Classics - with Heather Matarazoo, Angela Pietropinto, Brendan Sexton III, Matthew Faber, Eric Mabius, Daria Kalinina, Bill Buell, Dimitri DeFresco

28 January 2009

Imagine Me in Gwyneth Paltrow's Oscar Dress

Andrew Grant over at Like Anna Karina's Sweater was kind enough to bestow the Premio Dardos award to my site yesterday and needless to say, I'm extremely flattered. The award was given to him by Glenn Kenny. The Award is as follows:

"The Dardos Award is given for recognition of cultural, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the web.

The rules are: 1) Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog. 2) Pass the award to another 5 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know that they have been selected for this award."

I will be doing the Haley Joel Osmont thing with the award in the next coming days. Thanks again, Andrew!

27 January 2009

Because pedophiles love children...

I just rewatched all of Todd Solondz's films, for better or worse, over the past week, and though I posted about his new film's cast earlier and that it was an intended sequel to Happiness, I was unaware that Forgiveness will also feature all of the same characters, played by new actors. This is what the IMDb lists:

Shirley Henderson as Joy (Jane Adams)
Ally Sheedy as Helen (Lara Flynn Boyle)
Allison Janney as Trish (Cynthia Stevenson)
Ciarán Hinds as Bill (Dylan Baker)
Michael K. Williams as Allen (Philip Seymour Hoffman) !!!
Paul Reubens as Andy (Jon Lovitz) !!!!
Renée Taylor as Mona (Louise Lasser)
Chane't Johnson as Kristina (Camryn Manheim)

It looks like Ben Gazzara's character Lenny won't be in it and that Charlotte Rampling and Gaby Hoffmann will be playing new characters (the kids are all different too, by the way) and Paris Hilton doesn't have a character name listed yet. I can only hope that Forgiveness is Happiness good and not Palindromes bad. Look for it to open at one of the big film festivals later this year, and I'll be writing more about revisiting Solondz's films later on.

26 January 2009

Don't get them panties in a bunch!

I'm almost sure this is erroneous news, but DVDRama.com is claiming that Ingmar Bergman's elusive, never-released-to-DVD English-language film The Touch [Beröringen], starring Elliott Gould, Bibi Andersson and Max von Sydow, is coming to DVD in March in France. I'm nearly positive that this is a mistake as Amazon.fr lists a completely different film with the title Le lien for a 24 March release date. However, this just begs the question as to why the powers that be are keeping us from seeing Elliott Gould act in a Bergman film. So, like I said, don't get those panties or false hopes up.

More DVDs for April/May

Your two favorite Oscar contenders (Slumdog Millionaire, The Reader) have set DVD release dates in the US. Slumdog will hit shelves on 31 March and The Reader on 14 April (although the website I originally found that from no longer lists a date, so don't expect that to stick). I've heard conflicting reports that Milk will either drop on 3 or 17 March; I'll let you know when it's officially announced. Small Oscar correction: I originally said that Japan's foreign language nominee Departures was without distributor, but actually Regent Releasing has the rights to it.

On the sleazy side of things, Hens Tooth Video will be releasing Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders on 7 April. Shriek Show is releasing Gorman Bechard's Psychos in Love on 28 April. Dark Sky Films will be releasing John Peyser's The Centerfold Girls on 28 April. And hold back your excitement for Warner to release another edition of Billy Jack on 19 May. They will also have the western Catlow, which stars Yul Brynner, Leonard Nimoy and Richard Crenna, on the same date.

PeaceArch is releasing JCVD on 28 April. Sony is apparently skipping a theatrical release for Fabrice Du Welz's (Calvaire) new film Vinyan, which stars Emmanuelle Béart and Rufus Sewell; the disc will street on 7 April in the US and 1 April in France. Montery Home Video will have Avi Nesher's The Secrets, which stars Fanny Ardant, out on 7 April. Also from Israel, VCI is releasing Moshé Mizrahi's I Love You Rosa, which was in competition at Cannes in 1972 and nominated for a Best Foreign Oscar the following year.

Universal is releasing Cecil B. DeMille's Cleopatra from 1934 with Claudette Colbert in the title role. In addition to Cleopatra, Universal will have a box-set of six "Pre-Code Hollywood" films which includes George Abbott's The Cheat, Dorothy Arzner's Merrily We Go to Hell with the wonderful Sylvia Sidney and Cary Grant in a small role, William A. Seiter's Hot Saturday with Grant and Nancy Carroll, Alexander Hall and George Somnes' Torch Singer with Colbert, Mitchell Leisen's murder/mystery/musical Murder at the Vanities and Erle C. Kenton's Search for Beauty with Ida Lupino. Both street on 7 April.

Magnolia will be releasing Franck Vestiel's Eden Log, with Clovis Cornillac, and Robert Celestino's Yonkers Joe, with Chazz Palmenteri, Christine Lahti, Linus Roache and Roma Maffia, on 19 May. PBS will have the documentary I.O.U.S.A. on 7 April. Kino has the documentary Kike Like Me on 21 April, and Facets will be releasing Julien Duvivier's Au bonheur des dammes on 28 April.

And finally, Soda Pictures in the UK is releasing Duane Hopkins' Better Things on DVD on 27 April. A quote on the box describes it as "The Dardenne brothers meet Lynne Ramsay," which is as much of a recommendation that I can think of for me. Anyone heard anything about it?

25 January 2009


I wasn't sure if I was going to continue my annual Fin de cinema awards, but with the Oscars looking to be a bore-and-a-half, I've decided that I will. Look for them in the next coming weeks when I hand out the coveted "Macy Gray Award," as well as the "Vincent Gallo Award." I haven't even rounded up the nominees yet, but as soon as my nose quits feeling like Steve Nicks' circa 1977, I'll be on it. As for last year's big winners, you can revisit them here. You can also check out Reverse Shot's Two Cents for 2008, which is rather similar to my own awards. They're on target with most of their mentions, especially poor Rosario Dawson and their blasts on I've Loved You So Long and Natalie Portman (although I think they're completely offbase on The Edge of Heaven...).

Weekend Awards

Really? Lee Daniels' Push won 3 awards at Sundance this year including an acting prize for Mo'nique? Golly, it must have been a lousy year in Utah... but on the plus side, it turns out there were films I wanted to see at the festival after skimming over the titles and shrugging my shoulders. The two are: Alexis Dos Santos' Unmade Beds and Ondi Timoder's We Live in Public. In other news, the SAGs were announced with Sean Penn, Meryl Streep, Heath Ledger and Kate Winslet as the winners.

22 January 2009

Bitch List: Oscar Nomination Edition

Now that I've had to time to ponder the Oscar nominations instead of debating whether or not I'm going to continue watching Lost or not after the grave irritations last night, I've decided to express my thoughts on the whole shebang. The biggest upset, as many others have concurred, is the Academy's snub of Sally Hawkins for Happy-Go-Lucky, easily the finest performance of all the Best Actress hopefuls and one of the few that actually carried the film. What's worse is that it looks like Angelina Jolie in Changeling was the substitute, which only leads me to imagine they thought it would be cute to see both Brad Pitt and Jolie nominated in the same year, despite both being undeserving. At least Pitt was forgettable; Jolie, on the other hand, was sort of a disaster, though working in Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry-in-red-lipstick mode, I suppose it wasn't solely her fault. If the Academy was going for "cute" factor, wouldn't it have been more appealing to nominate Heath Ledger's ex-wife Michelle Williams for Wendy & Lucy? And, if we want "cute" to turn into "dead sexy," how about delivering that Oscar to Penélope Cruz, especially considering she'll be handed the award by her co-star and beau Javier Bardem, who won last year for No Country for Old Men? It'll be just like the Adrien Brody/Halle Berry kiss, only without Adrien Brody and Halle Berry!

For the first time in a long, long while, the foreign language category wasn't a total sham, which proves that, even if Gomorrah was overlooked, the new policy for the category might actually be working in the favor of people who know good cinema. We'll have to hold our our applause until the award is officially given out as the winner is often tough to predict. Waltz with Bashir is the obvious frontrunner, but you know I'm rooting for The Class, which was my favorite film of 2008. I wouldn't be too sad if Revanche took home the trophy either though I suspect the film might be too dark and without pressing social interest to the voters. I've read excellent things about Japan's Departures, so it looks like The Baader Meinhof Complex is the "one of these things is not like the other," garnering pretty terrible reviews around Europe and among those in the US who've actually seen it.

No Revolutionary Road? Thank Christ! Michael Shannon was the only thing salvagable in that mess, and even though the Oscar voters can't resist a Kate Winslet weepie, they chose The Reader over Revolutionary Road. I still haven't seen The Reader, but how could it be worse than Road? How?

Best Picture and Director nominees lining up is always a total bore, even if it's clear that the guy whose film isn't up for best picture won't ever win (see David Lynch, Julian Schnabel)... but this gets me to ol' Benjamin Button. While you know I was pleased that Revolutionary Road was the big shut-out of the year (or maybe The Dark Knight, depending on who you ask), Benjamin Button probably should have been. It's the second-least-interesting film Fincher has directed (hello Panic Room!), and the fact that it bares more than just a passing resemblance to one of the shittiest Best Picture winners of the 90s doesn't help this cause. Pitt's boring, Blanchett's miscast and for such a strange premise for a film and from a director as good as Fincher, it doesn't take a lot of risks. I guess risk-taking isn't a favorite pasttime of the Academy.

If Woody Allen was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for Match Point, there's no discernable reason why Vicky Cristina Barcelona was missing from this year's list. It's his most vibrant and winning film in years, but I've spoken enough about my affinity with the film. However, it wasn't competition that kept it away; only one of the Best Picture dullards was based on an "original screenplay," even though it's a "biopic." So where was Woody?

I'm still a bit miffed that Dear Zachary wasn't even shortlisted for the documentaries, but as usual, the doc nominations were the most assure of the whole list. I'll be happy to see Man on Wire take the fall (fuck, I didn't even realize the pun when I was typing that), particularly if it's for Werner Herzog, who received his first nomination for Encounters at the End of the World after being brutally overlooked for Grizzly Man.

With such a weak year for "respectable" Hollywood cinema, 2008 should have been the year "independent" and foreign cinema stormed the podium. The Class, Gomorrah, Waltz with Bashir, Let the Right One In, Tell No One and A Christmas Tale could have easily (or maybe not) emerged as nominees in the directing or screenwriting categories, but no dice. I often forget that the Oscars are just a way for Hollywood to pass along HJs to one another, because if that weren't the case, each of these films should have made some showing if only to prove to Hollywood that we aren't buying what they're (usually) selling.

No Clint Eastwood? It's about time.

So here's the point where I make my early predictions. I'm pretty sure that the director/picture wins will be split, though I can't decide precisely how. Milk and Slumdog Millionaire look like the big picks as Hollywood loves to be "political," and Milk is considerably more deserving than Brokeback Mountain (even if Mountain losing did allow for the worst film in Academy history to take the top prize). As for Actress, I can't even entertain the possibility of Jolie winning or I might lose that Qdoba burrito I just ate. Winslet is probably your best bet as she's still got that empty place on her mantle. Mickey Rourke is the likely frontrunner for the Actor race, although, other than Pitt, I was impressed with all the contenders. There'll be speculation up till Oscar night as to whether Heath Ledger will receive his tribute or not, even though I thought he should have won for Mountain. My night will be crushed if Cruz leaves empty-handed.

As last year was the first time I've ever seen all of the films nominated in the big categories (Picture, Director, Actors, Actresses, Screeplays, Animated Film), it'll be a lot easier this year to repeat that, as I only have to see Frozen River, Doubt, The Reader, Bolt and Kung-fu Panda. The likelihood that I'll catch The Baader Meinhof Complex or Departures before Oscar night is slim. Anyway, we'll see how pissed we all get come 22 March.

And the loser is...

...obviously IFC Films, who, more than any other studio out there, had the finest crop of films in American theatres and walked away with zero Oscar nominations. It probably doesn't help that a bulk of their films weren't in the English language... and the ones that were (Filth and Wisdom, Nights and Weekends) didn't have an ice cube's chance in hell to be nominated. When the big blow of Gomorrah being left out of the foreign language short-list, their only hopes at a score in that category came from Jan Troell's Everlasting Moments, which looks like a giant bore but possibly the sort of bore the people who vote for foreign-language film would go for. I suppose not, as it wasn't among the five nominees this morning, and strangely, the as-of-yet-unpurchased-and-critcally-bashed Baader Meinhof Complex was. The push I heard the company was making for both Gomorrah and Hunger, an English language film that's too visually and narratively experimental to get recognized by the Academy, in the bigger categories (Director and Adapted Screenplay for Gomorrah, Actor for Hunger) didn't pay off either, even though, with so many of the studio's Oscar hopefuls failing to resonate with critics, this would have been the year to do so. Maybe the Independent Spirits, a ceremony more likely to award the challenging work that IFC Films put out in 2008 (Sangre de mi sangre, Gomorrah, Hunger and The Secret of the Grain are all nominated), will show them they love they deserve. It's a thankless job.

Oscar Noms 2009

Oh my! Where did The Reader come from? The Oscar nominations were announced a few minutes ago... without Sally Hawkins, without Woody Allen, without Jenny Lumet, without Revolutionary Road (!!!) and without a Best Picture nod for The Dark Knight, with the surprise nominee The Reader taking its place. Surprises (sort of): Richard Jenkins for The Visitor, Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road, Melissa Leo for Frozen River. I'm sure you'll be able to find the big list around the Internet.

Thanks to Peter Knegt, here are the big awards.

21 January 2009

The Razzzzzzzzzzzies 2009

The Razzie nominations are in, and as usual, they're pretty boring. Lots of disgust is being scattered around some usual (though deserving) contenders: Paris Hilton, those twits that make the "_____ Movies," Uwe Boll, Jessica Alba and The Love Guru. At least The Happening showed up a few times. Let's just hope the Oscar nominations tomorrow morning are a bit more surprising.