Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Jason Reitman’

Oscar Post-Mortem

March 8, 2010 2 comments

The Hurt Locker was the big winner of the night, taking in 6 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. Kathryn Bigelow made history by becoming the first female director to win the Best Director trophy. The film is great, and deserving of all awards it received. Avatar had to settle for 3 awards, leaving James Cameron to cry on his billions of dollars.

There were no surprises when it came to the acting winners. Bridges won Best Actor, Mo’Nique took home Best Supporting Actress. Unfortunately Sandra Bullock won Best Actress for the horrible film The Blind Side. I will say that her speech was better than her actual performance in the film. I’m glad that Christoph Waltz won Best Supporting Actor for his amazing performance, but I’m sad that Inglourious Basterds lost out in every other category it was nominated in.

Speaking of losers, Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner lost Best Adapted Screenplay to Precious. That was the only real surprise of the night. I have to say I’m kind of glad Reitman lost. This lost should humble him. Perhaps the controversy surrounding him trying to deny Turner script credit hurt the film, which ended up winning nothing.

The producers of the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic did a horrible job at producing this year’s broadcast, which was only saved by the humor of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. Martin and Baldwin have great chemistry and they were effective in adding humor in-between the categories. Love the shot of the two of them in Snuggies and the Paranormal Activity spoof. The two were great at playing off each other.

The telecast felt long, tedious and lacked the fun of last year’s ceremony. Shankman and Mechanic should never be allowed back. Their horrible additions to the show included having Neil Patrick Harris open the show with a terrible song and dance number that brought the show to a halt.  I’m sick of him; we get it, he’s gay, funny, can sing and dance, we don’t need to see him on every fucking awards show. The other terrible idea was to have dancers interpret the best score nominees.

The tribute to John Hughes was another bonehead idea from the shows producers. John Hughes didn’t deserve any special memorial tribute. Billy Wilder, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Ingmar Bergman, and other real greats of cinema never got their own special tribute when they passed. To add insult to injury, the three honorary Oscar winners, Lauren Bacall, Gordon Willis, and Roger Corman didn’t get honored on the broadcast. Bacall and Corman weren’t even up on the stage when they were acknowledged during the ceremony. The crowd awkwardly didn’t know where to look to acknowledge them.

I also have to blame the director of the night’s broadcast, Hamish Hamilton. There were terrible cuts to people who looked bored shitless. Clooney looked like he wanted to get the hell out of there. There were too many shots of empty seats, and jerky camera movements. For an example of how horrible the direction was, when Kathryn Bigelow wins a historic Oscar for Best Director, the camera cuts away to a wide shot before we can see her interact with her ex-husband, James Cameron, who just lost to his ex-wife and was sitting right behind her. We wanted to see Cameron put on a fake smile and pretend to be happy for her!

Last year’s broadcast had the great idea of having the acting nominees introduced by a past winner of the category. This year they kept the general idea, but only dragged it out. First they showed clips from each nominees film, then they had friends of the nominees come out and praise each of them and then last year’s acting winner came out and announced the winner. This was overkill. It dragged on way too long.

The entire ceremony had an awkward feeling to it. It didn’t have the fun, or excitement of last year’s broadcast, which was produced by Bill Condon and Larry Mark. What the fuck were they thinking bringing out Tyler Perry to present Best Editing? Many of the presenters kept screwing up their simple banter. Other terrible moments came when the orchestra would play people off early, like Louie Psihoyos, the director of The Cove.

I’m a fan of the Oscars, and if I found the ceremony awful, I can only imagine how the rest of America was feeling.

Here is the list of the night’s winners:

  • Best Picture: “The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro
  • Best Director: “The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow
  • Best Actor: Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”
  • Best Actress: Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”
  • Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”
  • Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique in “Precious”
  • Best Original Screenplay: “The Hurt Locker” Written by Mark Boal
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: “Precious” Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
  • Best Foreign Language: “The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)” Argentina
  • Best Animated Film: “Up” Pete Docter
  • Best Documentary: “The Cove” Louie Psihoyos and Fisher Stevens
  • Best Cinematography: “Avatar” Mauro Fiore
  • Best Art Direction: Avatar” Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg, Kim Sinclair
  • Best Costumes: “The Young Victoria” Sandy Powell
  • Best Editing: “The Hurt Locker” Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
  • Best Score: “Up” Michael Giacchino
  • Best Song: The Weary Kind”(Crazy Heart) Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
  • Best Makeup: “Star Trek” Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
  • Best Visual Effects: “Avatar” Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham, Andrew R. Jones
  • Best Sound Editing: “The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson
  • Best Sound Mixing: “The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
  • Best Animated Short: “Logorama” Nicolas Schmerkin
  • Best Live Action Short: “The New Tenants” Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson
  • Best Documentary Short: “Music by Prudence” Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett
Advertisements

Clooney, Reitman & Crew Deliver an Outstanding Film with Up in the Air

December 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Up in the Air

With this film director Jason Reitman I think cements his status as possibly one of our great future directors. With each successive film Reitman has grown as a filmmaker. I didn’t care for his debut, “Thank You For Smoking,” but I really enjoyed his follow-up “Juno.” I think “Up in the Air” is without a doubt his best film. The writing, direction, and the cast, is a step above the rest.

Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, is a man whose job is to fire people. Companies from around the country hire him to come to their company and fire their employees. He is an expert at it. Watching him fire people is like watching a fine artist at work. All this traveling requires that Bingham essentially live in the air. On the rare occasion when he returns to his apartment we see it is lonely and empty. Traveling is his life and he loves it. He has no use for an ordinary life. Along his travels he encounters two women who challenge his life. One of them is a female version of himself, Alex, played by Vera Farmiga. The other is a young employee at his company, Natalie, played by Anna Kendrick, who Bingham takes on the road to show her the ropes.

2009 has been a standout year for Clooney. He was the best thing in “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” and his voice work was fantastic in “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” With this film Clooney ends the year with another strong performance. He is completely charming, but doesn’t rely on it to carry the role. We get to see a real vulnerability behind all his charm and good looks. There is one great scene where we see Clooney at work. He fires J.K. Simmons with such sincerity that it had me thinking that I wouldn’t mind being fired by Clooney.

The two female leads are also strong. Vera Farmiga finally gets a chance to shine. I love the scenes between her and Clooney. When the two of them go at with the dialogue it reminded me a bit of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell going at it in “His Girl Friday.” Anna Kendrick is completely engaging as the hot-shot newcomer who threatens Clooney’s way of life. There is a great scene where the two go at it for the first time and the cutting back and forth between the two reminds you of two boxers going at it. Kendrick puts up a tough persona, but we are able to see cracks in her hard armor.

The screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, based on the novel by Walter Kerns, is terrific. There are a number of great one liners. The dialogue and the way the actors deliver the lines is delightful to hear.

The film mirrors the real life economic downturn that is facing the country today. Reitman uses real life out of work employees in the film. When I first heard of this, I wasn’t sure how this element would be incorporated into the picture. But Reitman blends the unemployed into the film in a nice, non intrusive way.

Just when the film reaches a level of sentimentality, the film pulls the rug out of the audience and Clooney. I kind of did see this event coming just when it was about to happen. A lesser filmmaker would have possibly went for the easy way out. I really liked the ambiguity of the ending. Where does the man in the air go now? The more I thought about the film afterwards, the more in stature the film grew.

I think Roger Ebert sums it up best about Reitman during his review of this film. He “makes smart, edgy mainstream films. That’s harder than making smart, edgy indies.” Reitman is a real talent, who has a knack for balancing humor and drama to produce a fully satisfying picture.

4 Stars