Deadline‘s Michael Fleming is reporting that Steven Spielberg is delaying the start of Robopocalypse, the science-fiction action spectacular that was going to roll in March-April. Spielberg “isn’t dropping out of the movie” Fleming explains, “[but] he didn’t want to rush an expensive film.” I for one am glad the the Academy is liberal-minded enough not to regard Robopocalypse as Spielberg’s Norbit. The narrow view would be “what Best Picture winner goes out the morning after the Oscars and digs into a big effing robot movie?” But the Academy is better than that.
Here are my votes for tomorrow night’s Critics Choice Awards, which happens at Santa Monica’s Barker Hangar at 5 pm, and and airs at 8pm Pacific/Eastern on the CW. The whole world will be there. I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle the pitch-black depression that will sink in once Lincoln starts winning, but I guess I can muddle through.
Best Picture: Zero Dark Thirty. Best Actor: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook. Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook. Best Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook. Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables.
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty. Best Original Screenplay: Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty. Best Adapted Screenplay: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook. Best Cinematography: The Master, Mihai Malaimare Jr.
Best Young Actor/Actress: Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild. Best Acting Ensemble: Silver Linings Playbook.
Best Art Direction: Anna Karenina — Sarah Greenwood/Production Designer, Katie Spencer/Set Decorator. Best Editing, Zero Dark Thirty — William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor. Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran. Best Makeup: Les Miserables. Best Visual Effects: The Dark Knight Rises. Best Animated Feature: Frankenweenie.
Best Action Movie: Skyfall. Best Actor in an Action Movie: Christian Bale, The Dark Knight Rises. Best Actress in an Action Movie: Gina Carano, Haywire.
Best Comedy: Silver Linings Playbook. Best Actor in a Comedy: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook. Best Actress in a Comedy: Jennifer Lawrence,, Silver Linings Playbook.
Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie: Looper. Best Foreign Language Film: Amour. Best Documentary Feature: West of Memphis. Best Song: “Skyfall” – performed by Adele/written by Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth. Best Score: Argo, Alexandre Desplat.
I’m going to a BFCA pre-party this evening between 6 pm and 8 pm.
I know less and less about who I am, or who anybody else is.
I don’t even know what the CW is. I never click on it, I mean. I don’t give a shit. But it’s apparently offered by Time Warner.
Last May I speculated that Ruben Fleischer‘s Gangster Squad would be a low-grade L.A. version of Brian De Palma‘s The Untouchables. It had to bring in the under-35s, who hate yesteryear environments that aren’t familiar and video-gamey, and that meant going downmarket. On 1.4, having read Michael Cieply’s assessment of the film, I expressed concern that it might turn out “a little dumber and more primitive” than expected.
Well, I saw Gangster Squad last night and it’s primitive, all right. Primitive like a smart, well-trained ape. It’s loutish, cocky, smirking and swaggering. I brought a digital bullet-counter to the screening, and I can report that 478,446 bullets are fired in Gangster Squad. Early on some faceless stooge gets torn into two pieces and is then eaten by coyotes. And yet — this is the odd part — Fleischer’s film is half-intelligent. The first part is stupidly effective, and that always takes a little brains.
Fleischer’s pulpy, strutting direction and Will Beall‘s blunt, pared-down screenplay combine to create a hunk of mythical fantasy video-game bullshit machismo period porn, but the first act of Gangster Squad is not moronic, and for a while I was mildly entertained. It felt like it was channeling the spirit of Roger Corman‘s Machine Gun Kelly (’58) or Don Siegel‘s Baby Face Nelson (57) but with more throttle and brass-knuckles style, and with a heftier budget.
But then it gets weighed down by repetition — every decision by each and every character is flamboyant and basic and gorilla-crude — and then the standard desire to out-blast the last action shoot-em-up kicks in, and Gangster Squad just goes whacko and smacko and sluggo, and then it machine-guns itself to death.
On 1.4 I accurately speculated that “as Robert Downey, Jr.‘s version of Sherlock Holmes is to the older, more traditional versions played by Basil Rathbone, Robert Stephens or Nicol Wiliamson, Gangster Squad is to The Untouchables, Public Enemies, L.A. Confidential and Mulholland Falls.”
You know what else Gangster Squad isn’t as good as? Barry Levinson‘s Bugsy (’91). Similar period, L.A. gangsters (including Mickey Cohen), and five or six times better. I watched the first hour of this award-winning 1991 film when I got home last night. Gangster Squad is the oafish kid hanging out in the back alley who wants to be Bugsy, but he doesn’t have the right moves because he isn’t smart or assured enough.
But there are some good things in it.
Josh Brolin does a good solid job as a steady, square-jawed cop hero, Sgt. John O’Mara. Nothing miraculous but he holds his own and then some. Brolin has often been better than the material he’s working with, and is always up to the challenge.
Sean Penn‘s performance as gangster Mickey Cohen is cartoonishly venal, but at the same time darkly amusing. His behavior is so exaggerated that he’s only a couple of steps removed from Al Pacino‘s performance as Big Boy Caprice in Dick Tracy.
There’s a longish, Scorsese-styled tracking shot that follows Ryan Gosling (Brolin’s womanizing, two-fisted colleague) as he approaches Slapsy Maxie’s (5665 Wilshire Blvd, now the site of an Office Depot) and follows him through the door and into the foyer and then the main dining room, and it stays with him until he sits down and begins a conversation with a costar. A couple of minutes long, and no cuts.
Having never seenThe Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 (and being determined to never watch it), I’ve nothing to say about Bill Condon‘s film taking 11 Golden Raspberry Award nominations. Nor did I see two other Worst Pic nominees, Eddie Murphy‘s A Thousand Words and The Ooggieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure. I have a pretty good nose for avodiing this stuff. I did see Adam Sandler‘s That’s My Boy, however.
Nominating Barbra Streisand as Worst Actress for her performance in The Guilt Trip is bullshit. She was inoffensively fine in that film.
Other Worst Actress nominees are Katherine Heigl, One for the Money; Kristen Stewart, Snow White and the Huntsman and Breaking Dawn — Part 2; Tyler Perry in Madea’s Witness Protection; and Milla Jovovich for Resident Evil: Retribution.
Honestly? I think Jane Fonda deserves a Worst Actress nomination for her performance in Peace, Love and Misunderstanding, although this was mostly due to the dialogue she was stuck with. Ditto Nicole Kidman for her acting in The Paperboy.
The cast of Battleship was nominated for a Worst Screen Ensemble prize.
A mention again for HE’s worst of 2012: 1. The Paperboy; 2. Peace, Love and Misunderstanding; 3. Twixt; 4. Red Dawn; 5. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter; 6. Butter; 7. Taken 2; 8. The Odd Life of Timothy Green; 9. The Expendables 2; 10. Red Lights; 11. The Magic of Belle Isle; 12. High School; 13. Prometheus; 14. What To Expect When You’re Expecting; 15. Darling Companion; 16. John Carter, 17. Django Unchained; 18. The Hunger Games; 19. W.E.; 20. Red Tails; 21. Contraband; 22. Atlas Shrugged, Part II (didn’t see it, heard it stunk).
The American Society of Cinematograhers announced today the creation of a special new ASC award category, one that honors the profound influence of Janusz Kaminski‘s hazy, milky-white, alien-floodlight scheme — the “Milky” award. Starting next year the cinematographer whose work has most earnestly reflected or followed Kaminski-style capturings will receive this honor. The recipient will be determined by special committee.
In other news the 2012 ASC Outstanding Achievement nominations were announced today. Kaminski was, of course, nominated for his work on Lincoln. Roger Deakins for Skyfall, Seamus McGarvey for Anna Karenina (my favorite). Danny Cohen for Les Miserables. Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi.
I respectfully disagree with the exclusion of Zero Dark Thirty‘s Greig Fraser.
Zero Dark Thirty is far and away the most tradecrafty, most eyes-wide-open, most culturally attuned film of 2012, a flick that slowly marinates in the obsessive vein of Zodiac but pays off like a popcorn thriller in a scrupulous, real-world way. It may not be the most clear-cut or heart-warming, but it’s the best. And of all the Best Picture nominees that will be ceremoniously nominated tomorrow morning Silver Linings Playbook is the most romantically endearing, finely honed, psychologically alert family-and-friends screwball dramedy to come along in ages.
These two judgments are certain and eternal, and your great-grandchildren will respect you if you vote for them between now and the ballot deadline.
A question for those who come from an industry family and whose grandfather or great-grandfather was one of those Academy members who decided that The Life of Emile Zola would win the Best Picture Oscar of 1937: how do you honestly feel about that? Comme ci comme ca? A little bit puzzled?
The likelihood that 19 hours from now Lincoln will be officially become the most Oscar-nominated film of 2012 means only that the Academy’s traditionalists felt obliged to submit to the slumbering default mentality that said “who are we as a nation if a major year-end effort about the US of A’s greatest President, directed by our richest and most successful director-producer with a highly focused, fully-inhabited performance by the great Daniel Day Lewis, isn’t passionately embraced?”
This was all but assured the minute that the project was officially green-lighted in 2011. Everyone knew DDL would hit at least a triple, and that the film would probably benefit from Spielberg’s white-knuckled fear of making another Amistad. As it turned out (and with the help of DDL and Tony Kushner‘s screenplay) he avoided that fate. Lincoln is a good film as far as it goes.
But don’t get carried away here. Don’t submit to the chorus. All “important” biopics about major spiritual-historical figures must be celebrated in their native culture. There are always one or two films that win a lot of nominations, and that needn’t mean a lot in itself (although it can). The Academy’s slumbering class feels lazily obliged to submit to this instinct by showering nomination-praise, and they…well, they’re sitting in front of their computers or at their kitchen tables, filling out the form and asking their kids and friends and domestic employees what to choose, and they don’t where else to turn except to Lincoln and Les Miserables, but some of the husbands have a little problem with the Hooper.
It’s a slog and a frayed pageant, and I am going to labor mightily not to feel too depressed when the inevitable happens.
There’s one thing that has to be corrected tomorrow morning, and that’s yesterday’s DGA nominations. With Les Miz helmer Tom Hooper having been shafted this morning for a BAFTA Best Director nom (and Spielberg, also, not being nominated by the British!), the failure of the DGA to nominate Silver Linings Playbook‘s David O. Russell has to be counter-balanced by the Academy. And no Best Director nomination for Quentin Tarantino either! I’m serious here. That can’t happen.
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