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Great Movie Moments – The Social Network: You have the minimum amount

the-social-network-Jesse-Eisenberg

Sometimes, a movie has a scene in it that transcends the movie itself.  The Social Network has one of those scenes, and this is it.  The “You have the minimum amount” is one of these Great Movie MomentsRead the rest of this entry

2011 Oscar Picks for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards

academy awards oscar statue

"I still can't believe Return of the King won best picture over Mystic River in 03."

The 83rd Annual Academy Awards are tomorrow (February 27th, 2011), and despite not having seen every movie that’s nominated, I’m going to make some picks anyway.  Given that I haven’t seen everything, I’m just picking between the movies I have seen and will indicate the movies I have not seen with a strikethrough the title, so Toy Story 3 will look like this:  Toy Story 3.  I’ll indicate my pick by setting the title of the movie to bold, so Inception will look like this:  Inception.  Yeah, I say Inception because you’re going to see me pick that movie a lot, so if you didn’t like Inception, you might take serious issue with this post!

Best Picture
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Yeah, I’m going with Inception.  Inception is the most original movie I’ve seen in some time, and it messed with my mind a little bit – what more can you ask for?  Everything was great about this movie; I wouldn’t change a thing:  the performances, directing, cinematography, music… just awesome.  I can say the same for The King’s Speech, but as much as I loved that movie, I kinda feel like I’ve seen that movie before.  I’m really sorry I didn’t get a chance to see Black Swan, but I’m kinda under the impression that if you’ve seen one Darren Aronofsky movie about a character on a downward spiral, you’ve seen them all.  I will get to it though; LOVE that Natalie Portman!  I have no idea what True Grit is doing on this list.  It was an OK movie, but I’m shocked at how much praise it’s got from the Academy:  10 nominations?  10?  I have no idea what movie they watched…  and it’s a remake, and yes, like Scarface, it’s superior to the original, but there is nothing special about this movie except for the unlikely performance in a leading role by a young actress.

Director
Darren Aronofsky Black Swan
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen True Grit
David Fincher The Social Network
Tom Hooper The King’s Speech
David O. Russell The Fighter

Uhm… where’s Christopher Nolan?  Inception didn’t direct itself, did it?  How can you nominate a movie for best picture and then snub the director?  I know it was bound to happen with 10 best picture nominees and only 5 best director nominees (that makes sense how?), but really, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen get nominated for True Grit, a movie that could have directed itself and Christopher Nolan doesn’t?  What the hell is that shiz?  This is totally weak.  I decided to go with David Fincher because The Social Network looked like a difficult movie to direct due to it’s nonlinear format and having Armie Hammer play both of the Winklevoss twins…  Frankly, I just kinda threw a dart and picked The Social Network because I’m so disappointed Christopher Nolan isn’t here.

Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem Biutiful
Jeff Bridges True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg The Social Network
Colin Firth The King’s Speech
James Franco 127 Hours

I’m sure James Franco is deserving of an award for his role in 127 Hours, during which I understand he’s on screen for virtually every frame of the film and often by himself, but I still haven’t seen this movie.  I had a hard time picking between Jesse Eisenberg and Colin Firth, but I think I finally settled on Mr. Firth because not only was he brilliant in The King’s Speech, but I was annoyed he didn’t get the accolades he deserved for his role in A Single Man.  The man is a genius and he should get an award every year!  The best part of The Social Network was the performances, so it’s hard not to pick Mr. Eisenberg, but whatever – I think he’ll get another chance.  (Note:  there was a tiny bit of, “I don’t want to sleep on the couch tonight” that went into picking Mr. Firth, but not enough that it cost Mr. Eisenberg my pick – it was close, though.)

Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman Black Swan
Michelle Williams Blue Valentine

Still haven’t seen any of these movies.  My fault.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld True Grit
Jacki Weaver Animal Kingdom

This was a tough decision!  It’s hard not to pick Hailee Steinfeld, given that she had so much more screen time than the other ladies, but that’s because she was the lead in True Grit.  I don’t understand why the Academy allows producers to submit folks for awards that they clearly don’t qualify for.  This makes no sense, “I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”  I was close to picking Helena Bonham Carter, who is a brilliant in everything, but I decided to go with Amy Adams.  Ms. Adams completely changed my opinion of who she was and what she was capable of with this one role, and I won’t forget it.  And I was particularly pleased that she looked like a real person in this movie and not a air-brushed, one dimensional love interested.  This was a tough decision!

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale The Fighter
John Hawkes Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner The Town
Mark Ruffalo The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush The King’s Speech

This was also a tough decision, and I only had to pick between Christian Bale and Geoffrey Rush, but I had to go with Mr. Bale, who is great in everything, and although I’ve seen him play a variety of roles, he really blew my mind in The Fighter.

Original Screenplay
Another Year Mike Leigh
Inception Christopher Nolan
The Fighter Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson
The Kids Are All Right Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech David Seidler

Again, Inception was awesome…  The King’s Speech and History was based on actual events… not very original!

Adapted Screenplay
127 Hours Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 Michael Arndt
True Grit Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Winter’s Bone Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini

Uhm… True Grit, I guess.  My understanding is that the only story about Facebook that is less accurate than The Social Network is the book it was based on, The Accidental Billionaires, which I understand Aaron Sorkin didn’t bother to read until right before he completed the screenplay.

Foreign Language Film
Biutiful Mexico
Dogtooth Greece
In a Better World Denmark
Incendies Canada
Outside the Law Algeria

Sorry, I’m always about a year behind on this category.

Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

No Despicable Me?  What the hell happened?  Sure, it might have been a little predictable, but then, so was The King’s Speech… or True Grit, or most of the movies nominated for best picture, so I don’t know why Despicable Me doesn’t get any love.

Original Score
127 Hours
How to Train Your Dragon
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

Really, The Social Network’s boring ass score of chords and whole notes by Trent Reznor (and somebody else, I forget who) was good enough to make the list of top five scores of the year?  Garbage.  I don’t remember anything about The King’s Speech score, but I liked the Inception score a lot, so this was a no brainer for me.

Original Song
Coming Home Country Strong
I See the Light Tangled
If I Rise 127 Hours
We Belong Together Toy Story 3

Here’s a rare category where you can just go to YouTube and listen to the songs, which is what I did because I didn’t see any of these movies, so I’m listening to them out of context, but whatever.  Here are my thoughts after listening to each song once:  they’re all boring as hell.  Even We Belong Together from Toy Story 3, which maybe be the only song in the group to be a bit upbeat (yeah, a song called “If I Rise” isn’t upbeat at all – how did that happen?  Sounds like a kick ass Gospel song,but nope), but We Belong Together was written by Randy Newman, and, well… if you didn’t already know, all Randy Newman songs sound basically the same, and they all suck.  So, I’m not picking any of these songs.  Instead, I’ll refer you to the 1971 winner, The Theme from Shaft by Issac Hayes.  Can you dig it?

Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Inception
The King’s Speech
True Grit

I flipped through Alice in Wonderland, but didn’t actually watch the movie, but I didn’t see anything special here… in fact, it looked like CG at it’s worst… the movie looked like they filmed the entire thing in a studio and the movie was worse for it.  The King’s Speech is up for Art Direction?  It was a period piece, it’s not like they were making shiz up…  as was True Grit, so I don’t get that selection, either.  I think I have to go with Inception again, which had truly inspired art direction… Harry Potter is a close second, particularly for the sequence that took place at the Ministry of Magic.

Cinematography
Black Swan
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Uhm, yeah, Inception.  Easily.  I won’t waste your time explaining why.  The Social Network is on here?  Are you serious?  What, for that shot during the rowing race?  Whatever.

Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King’s Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

Wish I’d seen this movie I Am Love, so I could have yelled at the screen, “No, I am love!”  But yeah…  picking costume design award between two period pieces… I’ll go with… uhm… [flipping coin] heads – I mean, The Kings Speech.

Makeup
Barney’s Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman

Sorry, didn’t see any of these movies.

Documentary Feature
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Gasland
Inside Job
Restrepo
Waste Land

Sorry, didn’t see any of these documentaries.

Sound Mixing
Inception
Salt
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Again, Inception, easily – the other choices called for significantly less mixing, so this is a poor mix of choices.  And without seeing it, I guarantee you Salt had twice as much mixing to be done than Speech, Network or Grit.

Sound Editing
Inception
Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit
Unstoppable

I’m going with Inception again – a lot more sound editing than True Grit, so not really fair.

Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Hereafter
Inception
Iron Man 2

The effects I saw from Alice in Wonderland were pretty shizzy, but whatever.  I’ll go with Harry Potter on this one – Harry probably should have been up for cinematography, too – that movie was beautiful.

Film Editing
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech

The Social Network

Really, no Inception?    I bet 127 hours was a pain in the ass to edit – they must of cut the shiz out of that movie to make it move nicely with James Franco being the only character on screen for the majority of the film and stuck in one place.  Crazy.  So I’ll throw my dart and hit…  The Social Network, due to it’s nonlinear story format.  I was considering The Fighter for the cutting of the fight scenes, but whatever.

Short Film, Animated
Day & Night Teddy Newton
Let’s Pollute Geefwee Boedoe
Madagascar, a Journey Diary Bastien Dubois
The Gruffalo Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
The Lost Thing Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann

Sorry, I didn’t see any of these short animated films.

Short Film, Live Action
God of Love Luke Matheny
Na Wewe Ivan Goldschmidt
The Confession Tanel Toom
The Crush Michael Creagh
Wish 143 Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Sorry, I didn’t see any of these short live action films.

Documentary Short Subject
Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

Sorry, I didn’t see any of these documentary short subject films.  What the hell does that mean, anyway… short subject?  Don’t they mean ‘short’ in duration?  What the hell subject is short?  Pomeranians?

Thanks for checking out my Oscar picks, it was fun for me!

Bradley Whitford: From Bad Guy To Smart Guy

bradley whitfordYou know who I really like that doesn’t get enough play?  Bradley Whitford.  You know who I mean?  He was Josh Lyman on The West Wing, but that’s not where I first saw him.  Way back when 1987’s Adventures in Babysitting came to TV, Whitford was playing Mike Todwell, the bad guy – and this is where he got type cast for some time.  Think about any old movies you’ve seen Whitford in; remember Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise?  Also came out in 1987, also features Whitford as a bad guy.  And you know what?  He’s awesome at it.  It’s not like Ben Affleck’s early career as a baddie (Dazed and Confused, Mallrats) – Aflleck is huge and looks like he can kick your ass in those movies, where as Whitford is playing the asshole and doing a great job at it.  Then, in 1995’s Billy Madison, who’s playing the bad guy?  Yep, it’s Bradley Whitford again, doing that awesome weasel laugh!  Just awesome, I love this guy!

Jump over to 1999 and boom – it’s West Wing time and now Whitford is playing the role he’s probably best known for:  Josh Lyman, an adviser to the President!  He’s a good guy and he’s awesome, delivering his lines (it helps that they’re good lines, probably written by Aaron Sorkin) with impeccable timing.  Maybe it’s not fair to say, “just like that,” but just like that, I had forgotten who Whitford was every time I saw him and accepted him against type.  It’s that easy, because he’s that good.

Bradley Whitford is awesome.  He’s a character actor, the ultimate supporting guy, and he deserves more play.  Too bad Sorkin couldn’t find a spot for him in The Social Network – he deserves the exposure.  Hey, if anyone is looking for somebody to play a character in their flick and want an actor who can do smart, funny, whitty and asshole all at the same time, give Bradley Whitford a call – he’s the man!

The Social Network movie review

Tom from MySpace complains, “Where’s my effing movie?!?”

If The Social Network is anything, it’s a showcase for performance.  Outside of Jesse Eisenberg, I hadn’t really seen any of the peeps in this movie do anything, but everybody delivers a great performance:  Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Erica Albright…  very impressive cast.  The dialogue was really snappy, but then, what else would you expect form Aaron Sorkin?

It’s hard to know what to say about this movie – it’s a really good movie, that much is clear – and when a movie is based on fact and isn’t necessarily a work of fiction, this can make it difficult to create the sort of drama that I expect in terms of an overall arc.

spoiler alert

 

 

The movie doesn’t offer much in the way of a conclusion… consider:  The movie is a story about Mark Zuckerberg, and we meet him when his girlfriend is breaking up with him, so he events a website that ranks girls against each other (and farm animals?) and everyone is mad at him.  Seems like he’s in a bad situation.  Then he meets Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss (twins played by Armie Hammer – everybody who made this happen did a great job, by the way) who were impressed by Zuckerberg’s website and want him to program their idea for a social networking site…  I think it’s called Harvard Connection or something like that.  Zuckerberg’s character asks them what makes this different than MySpace or Friendster or any of it’s competitors (which I think is a great point about Facebook itself, but I’ll get back to that later), and the idea is exclusivity – you must have a Harvard email address to join.  Zuckerberg agrees to create the site, but doesn’t.  He spends his time creating his own social networking site and sends the Winklevosses (Winklevi?) endless emails that he’s too busy to meet with them to work on their site.  Finally, when he is inspired to add a relationship status feature, he puts his own site, TheFacebook.com live.  Obviously, the Winklevosses find out about TheFacebook when it’s all the rage on Harvard’s campus and in the student newspaper (The Crimson) and they are mad and send a cease and desist letter, which  Zuckerberg ignores and Eduardo freaks out, and things seem bad…

(I just need to stop for a moment and talk about how adding the relationship status is supposed to be an epiphany moment for Mark’s character – it’s kind of silly.  Like ‘relationship status’ is one of the great ideas of the twenty-first century or something.)

I have no intention of summarizing the entire movie, but what I’m trying to say here (admittedly, I’m not doing a good job) is that the characters always seem to be a bad place.  As I mentioned in my drama post, the main character should have a conflict that drives the story and introduces all of the characters (act 1), he gets into the worst possible situation (act 2) and then he gets out (act 3).  The problem is, the Zuckerburg character never really gets out of his bad situation – at least not in a satisfying way.  Let’s break it down:

  • ACT 1:  Mark’s girlfriend breaks up with him and he creates Facebook, but the movie is moving back and forth through time, so we’re all seeing the deliberations of the big law suit – so it’s also sort of act 2.
  • ACT 2: Facebook is blowing up into a phenomenon on college campuses, but Sean Parker gets arrested and embarrasses the company, and embarrassing the company seems to be something that Mark desperately wants to avoid.
  • ACT 3:  Some text books comes up on the screen and tells the results of the lawsuit.  Mark sends a friend request to the girl that dumped him at the beginning of the movie and waits to see if she accepts it.

This isn’t what I’d call a satisfying third act for the audience, but that’s how the movie ends.  Now if this is how the story really goes, the film makers are constrained by the real life narrative, and that’s cool.  In any case, it’s still an OK movie:  good dialogue, better performances,  just not a great ending…. OK, maybe it’s a little pretentious, but it’s worth a watch.

My Rating: 3.8 out of 5

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