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Stupid work getting in the way of this.  Seems like every year people say it was a bad year for the Best Actress category, which is generally hogwash, and  I especially don’t really think it is true this year.  Sure, maybe my list for Best Actor possibilities was longer, but I’m fairly certain the next five women off the list would have still made a very strong category.

1. Patricia Clarkson, Blind Date

Nobody does sullen and deadpan like Ms. Clarkson.  Just no one.  And here, to pull off that underlying sadness while playing a variety of personalities, well, it was pretty perfect.

2. Zooey Deschanel, (500) Days of Summer

I swear, it wasn’t intentional to have my top two actors and actresses match up.  Maybe it is fitting, though.  It was pretty fascinating to see Deschanel’s character morph from The One to a biatch and all phases in between, at least through Gordon-Levitt’s eyes.  Sure, the role was right in Deschanel’s wheelhouse, but she still knocked it out of the park.

3. Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria

To me, at least, a monarch at a young age is a fascinating topic.  And here, a terribly difficult role to play, as Victoria learned to play the political game while going through adolescence.  Which is insane.  I mean, think about Adventureland, only if instead of learning to survive on his own, Jesse Eisenberg had to rule a friggin’ country.  And I think Blunt didn’t get a nomination here for exactly that reason.  The Academy wasn’t comfortable with a ruler who showed such humanity.

4.  Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

I think I may have discussed her elsewhere, but wowza.  When going through the best actress nominees this year, I’d be stunned if voters didn’t take at least a second to think about writing in her name. [Edit: To clarify, I meant choosing her as the nominee they think should win.]

5.  Carey Mulligan, An Education

It isn’t just that I fell madly in love with Ms. Mulligan after the film, it is that I can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with her.  I think she took a weak script and ran with it something fierce, and with many other actresses, this film gets shut out of Oscar completely.

Just off the ballot: Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia) and Tilda Swinton (Julia).  And not just because that’s funny.

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I’ll say that going in, there is a general caveat that all of these animated shorts are supposed to be fantastical and take viewers to imaginary worlds where Michelin Men talk and the Grim Reaper is real. But I still think that they need to follow the rules of the world that the animators have created. To the extent that the short film  is successful at that largely defines how much I enjoyment I get from it.

French Roast

Jared: Not a strong way to start off the animated shorts. While there was a certain old-fashioned sense of humor to which I related, this short depicting a businessman who can’t pay his bill really wasn’t that funny, and it definitely was trying to be a comic film. The “twists” weren’t unexpected and also didn’t really add anything. The short wasn’t awful, I may have chuckled a few times, but wasn’t anything special.

Brian: An odd little story that had some amusing physical humor, French Toast didn’t make all that much sense to me. There was too much going on for such a short film — between the cop, the waiter, the bum, the snooty espresso drinker, the old woman, the wanted poster — nothing really stuck as one conceit worth highlighting. I did like how they played with the use of the cafe’s mirrors and glass doors — where all the reflections combined for a fascinating optical illusion — but it was still likely my least favorite of the batch.

The Lady and the Reaper

Jared: There seemed to be a collective gasp from the audience when Antonio Banderas’ name appeared in the credits as a producer, which was a little odd. The short starts out a little sad, focusing on a little old lady who lost her beloved husband and who now lives alone. She passes away in her sleep, and then…well…hilarity ensues. I guess I’d call it the closest thing to a modern Looney Tunes I’ve seen, but whatever it was, I laughed almost nonstop. Just about everything in the short worked, and worked well. Somehow, it’s sense of humor careened from Marx Brothers to Edward Gorey, relentless trying to top itself. Best thing I saw all night.

Brian: One of my top two of the bunch — and I agree with Jared, this seemed like a Looney Tunes sketch of the best kind. Batty, engaging, and even touching at times — the short hit all the right notes. It even had many of the small side-jokes emblematic of the Pixar films; the three-headed poodle acting as Cerberus was brilliant.

A Matter of Loaf and Death

Jared: At this point, any Nick Park creation is going to come with higher expectations, unfair or not. And unfortunately, while impressively clocking in at about a half-hour run time, this short failed to reach those expectations, though it was still decent. Many of the familiar tropes were there, same sense of humor, same dynamic between Wallace and Gromit. And it was funny at times, with some great puns littered throughout the short. But too often it felt like a retread of a sitcom. I didn’t think the other characters worked particularly well, plus they meant less time was devoted to Wallace and Gromit’s relationship, never a good thing.

Brian: I agree with most of what Jared said — it lacked the inventiveness of their other work and I didn’t sense their imaginitive spirit. Nick Park put in the same old jokes without a new twist, and while its to his credit that he kept my attention for 30 minutes, I couldn’t help but just think “meh” while watching the credits.

Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty

Jared: A fractured fairly tale of a bitter grandma telling a bedtime story to her frightened granddaughter, this is a one-joke short. The joke is fairly funny, but the film desperately needed a further developed sense of humor. Because while it was it pretty entertaining, the joke was wearing thin well before the end and with even one more source of humor, it could have been something special.

Brian: Dammit Jared, I want to stop agreeing with you. I felt as though I was watching a bizarre SNL animated sketch: one joke and a very well done joke at that. (Oh wait, maybe it isn’t like SNL…) I found the animation to be probably one of the more interesting of the batch — a twist on the picture storybooks we grew up with, but beyond that — it was one joke that just never died.

Logorama

Jared: Simply put, the idea behind this short (which basically depicts a world in which everything, person, place, building, car, everything is a logo) is pretty brilliant. The execution felt indifferent. There’s sort of a police action movie in there, with a car chase, hostages, and a standoff. Then it becomes a disaster movie of sort. I’d imagine there’s a message in there somewhere, but I have no clue what it is. Some people in the audience seemed to have fun picking out all the logos, and the integration of some of them was pretty ingenious. But I didn’t find the short to be interesting at all.

Brian: Yes! A disagreement! I thought this was a great idea that fell off the rails in the third act when it tried to get political — and I don’t like my cartoons to be political, goshdarnit. Throughout the short, my eyes were darting all around the screen looking for each and every joke placed by the animators. This was easily the most ambitious of the bunch, I place it as the other of the top two merely for its audacity. I guess I would be among that “some in the audience” group Jared mentioned.

BRIAN: Will win: Wallace and Gromit; Should win: The Lady and the Reaper

JARED: Ditto. Will Win: Wallace and Gromit; Should win: The Lady and the Reaper

For the first time ever, I watched the Oscar nominated shorts because I felt that I hadn’t found enough categories to grouch about, so I might as well add two more. Overall I was much more intrigued and entertained by the animated shorts, but discussion of those will come later. First, the live action shorts that were uneven, not especially moving or involving, with a the comedic entries outshining the serious ones. I’ll kick things off with my reactions then Jared will follow up for all five. Listed in the order as shown at E St. Cinema:

Jared: I’d break the live action shorts into two distinct categories.  Three of them deal with easily identifiable human tragedies.  The other two are bizarre comedies where violence plays at least a tangential role.  Guess we know what the Academy was looking for.

Kavi

Brian:
I recall that when Slumdog Millionaire came out, was praised, and then ran into the predictable backlash, the term “poverty porn” was thrown around. Merited or not, I was reminded of the term again when watching Kavi, the story of an enslaved laborer at an Indian brick-making shop. With his father indebted to an EVIL, EVIL MAN, Kavi must sublimate his curiosities and desire for school and cricket and instead toil non-stop turning over clay bricks. I was interested in seeing how each film used the “short” form, but was generally bored with what Kavi offered. The story was slight and predictable and the characters were broadly drawn. Considering the subject, I am surprised that I wasn’t more affected by the content. Still, considering that Gregg Helvey made this film for his MFA thesis at USC film school, it’s a rather impressive showing.

Jared: Chock full of familiar characters, Kavi feels like the third draft of a very good short.  The characters have shading just past cartoonish, but not quite to the point of being interesting.  Most of the main scenes work, but the auxiliary ones (e.g. Kavi’s garden) feel incomplete.  And while the topic of modern slavery is certainly important, the short itself doesn’t seem to have any particular point.  Obviously slavery being bad is a point, but if that’s the entire point of the film, it seems a documentary is more in order.  Because as is, the short feels a little trite.

The New Tenants

Brian: This ranks as one of my favorites of the bunch — and if all the Grouches saw the shorts, I’d wager that consensus would form around The New Tenants, an absurdly dark comedy featuring Kevin Corrigan and Vincent D’Onofrio. The gist of the film is that a gay couple (played by Jamie Harrold and David Rakoff) have recently moved into an apartment that was the site of a gruesome murder — and they are visited by a variety of characters — all of whom have unfinished business with the previous tenant. I liked the funny script and the acting was generally strong. Perhaps it was a little too weird for my liking — and dark comedies aren’t my favorite comedies — but I thought that — more than the other shorts — it was the right length for the story that was told.

Jared: My favorite live action short, anyone who has seen a trailer for a Danish movie recently will have no trouble placing this one’s origins in Denmark.  I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to describe this film’s level of weirdness, but actually it is quite obvious: the film kinda makes Vincent D’Onofrio seems normal.  The short certainly has its flaws, of course.  It relies a little too much on long monologues and immediate reactions to them (though the first one is priceless).  Some of the dialogue felt a little off, and the film may not be as weird as it thinks it is.  But the insanity is generally well-paced and consistently off-the-wall engrossing.   Overall, this dark, funny, bizarre short is a gem.

Miracle Fish
Brian: Easily my least favorite in the bunch, this story of a lonely, bullied kid who wakes up from a nap to find his school eerily deserted is ambitious, but in the end pointless. It may have been well-produced as a film, but the payoff/twist is unearned. Its hard for me to talk too much more without spoiling the short film, but even the title was a red herring that didn’t fit well with the thematically confusing story.

Jared: This short felt like it had shocking twists for the sake of shocking twists. The turns didn’t fit into the story and they didn’t serve any larger purpose. Like with Kavi, just because a film references some great tragedy doesn’t make the movie tragic.  The big twist felt a little cheap, to be honest. It is a shame, because certain parts of the short felt fairly strong, for example, I thought it did a good job establishing the main character’s isolation. But the story just tripped all over itself.

The Door
Brian: I’m a sucker for historical fiction in movies — so this depressing story of a family evacuating Chernobyl, and a father’s return to the condemned house to pick up one last item — was another of my favorites. In just a few minutes, I felt as though I learned more about this family unit than I did about the one in Kavi. And yet, even though it focused on this one family, I also managed to get a sense of the enormity of the Chernobyl disaster. This was the short I think did the best job of handling the limitations and advantages of the form.

Jared: To me, this one didn’t feel like a cohesive unit at all.  It felt like they plucked out a few scenes of a movie and tinkered with the order some.  It was depressing, sure, but I felt that the short was a little restrained.  I mean, goodness, there shouldn’t be anything much more depressing than parents burying their daughter as a result of fallout from Chernobyl.  That’s got Russian nihilism written all over it.  Instead, I was relatively unmoved.  Maybe mostly because the film never really got around to its punchline.

Instead of Abracadabra


Brian: Napoleon Dynamite-lite. Funny at the time, but the more I stew over it the less I remember and or care about it. By far the best part of the short was the parents of the 25-year-old amateur magician. Living at home with his sights on the nurse next door, the magician has his funny parts, but its his mom and dad, especially the former, who steal the show. Her maternal and easy-going nature is undeterred by a trick gone wrong and serves as a humorous balance to the stock-character father, embarrassed by his son but loving nonetheless. With a predictable script, I give credit to the actors behind the roles, but even their efforts couldn’t push this short to excellence.

Jared: I see the comparison to Napoleon Dynamite, but I’d generally disagree, and not just because that film is a blight on humanity matched by very few.  Here’s the thing about this short.  There’s one really funny moment, just a classic.  There’s maybe three or four pretty humorous bits.  And the rest ranges from filler to vaguely annoying.  Is that enough?  I dunno, maybe for a nomination.  I’d be seriously concerned about expanding it to a full-length feature. I think it may be comedies like this, with little real lasting value, that somehow make the Academy unable to nomination any comedies at all.  Also, I’ve spent about fifteen minutes trying to find something listing the song from the end credits, but have had no luck, so if anyone happens to know it, I’d appreciate the info.

BRIAN:

Should win the Oscar: The New Tenants
Will win the OscarKavi

JARED:

Should win the Oscar: The New Tenants

Will win the Oscar: Miracle Fish

Let’s talk Crazy Heart because we haven’t had much to say about it yet. But there’s a reason for that: there’s nothing interesting to discuss.

If there’s one word to use to describe the film it’s “superficial.” The story is just really thin. And the main reason is that it falls into one of my most-hated pitfalls in that the main relationship just doesn’t feel right.

Jeff Bridges is Bad Blake, a washed up country star doing the bar and bowling alley circuit in middle America. Maggie Gyllenhaal is Jean, a journalist and single mother who interviews him at one of his stops. They fall for each other, he wrestles his demons, etc…

Blake’s an interesting enough character but Jean is not particularly well-developed. And from what we know about both there’s no reason to believe these two characters would fall for each other. They also fall in love so quickly!

“You’re cute. Will you sleep with me?”

“You’re an old drunk so… yes.”

*night passes*

“So we’re in love now?”

“Agreed”

*handshake*

It’s a fine movie but I didn’t think it was particularly special. And, truth be told, Jeff Bridges didn’t blow me away either. He’s still the best part of the movie. He’ll win his Best Actor Oscar and that will be good for him. Gyllenhaal’s Supporting nod feels weak to me, but that might have to do with the weakness of her character. With material that made better use of her earnest expressions and Southern accent, perhaps the performance would have done more for me.

Really Crazy Heart needs to win Best Song, and I suspect it will. The writing of the song is a major plotline with the big performance coming in circumstances that I would call pretty perfect. And it’s a darn good song.

Actually, “The Weary Kind” is so good it diminishes the rest of the songs in the movie, which are generally standard country tunes that don’t particularly stand out. I knew “The Weary Kind” going in and expected a certain musical tone and those expectations were not met. Again, not bad, but underwhelming.

So that’s that. I imagine we won’t be talking about Crazy Heart much more.

Admission time: I haven’t thought about the Oscars in more than a week. I haven’t read any movie news, I haven’t written a post, I haven’t even seen a movie. Why? The Winter Olympics, of course! And I know I’m not alone, judging by the amount of curling talk Jared and I have been doing.

But this blog has been silent, which got me to thinking about finding any damn thing to write about something to connect these two February passions.

So here we go: What if Oscar movies were Winter Olympic sports?

The Blind Side = Figure Skating: Liked by those who don’t like real sports/sports movies.

A Serious Man = Curling. Engrossing but tough to figure out.

Inglourious Basterds = Snowboarding: Flashy and entertaining

Avatar = Bobsled: Very technological and travels down a well-worn track.

Up = Ski Jumping: Short, sweet, and pretty.

Up in the Air = Short Track. Your life/race standing can be upended at any moment.

The Hurt Locker = Hockey. Burly men with lots of equipment bust some heads.

These are a big stretch you say? Yeah, well, shut up.

John’s a good man and got this up before the nominees were announced.  I’m gonna see how many categories I can get through before Oscars.  Now, I’ve seen probably more 2009 movies than I should have, but I’m still slogging my way through some, so between that and the game theory of the ballot, I reserve the right to have my best of 2009 list look a little different, though ballots are due when ballots are due.

1.  Stanley Tucci, Blind Date

A remake of the same-named Theo van Gogh film, Blind Date slipped into a few theaters rather quietly, and I have no idea how it came across my radar.  Little more than Tucci, Patricia Clarkson, and a single room, it blurs the line between film and staged play.  Revolving around a husband and a wife who set up blind dates with each other as they deal with a tragedy, the role requires tremendous range and depth, and I can’t really imagine too many actors pulling it off successfully.

2.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (500) Days of Summer

He’ll have turned 30 around next year’s Oscars, so maybe he’ll finally be old enough for some Academy love.  He’s certainly built an impressive resume.  The male lead in a romantic comedy of this sort is difficult to play, in my opinion.  It is very easy to veer off into sheer whininess, but Gordon-Levitt is eminently relatable.

3. Sharlto Copley, District 9

In traditional hands, this role is played by someone like Vin Diesel.  Which would have been interesting, sure.  But instead, one of the most unlikeliest action heroes turned in something quite memorable.

4.  Daniel Day-Lewis, Nine

The movie wasn’t great, sure.  But Daniel Day-Lewis was his usual crazy impressive self.  If he had been billed as, say, Baniel Bay-Kewis, I would have had absolutely no idea that this actor was the same one who played Daniel Plainview.  His ability to morph from role to role is just staggering.

5.  Colin Firth, A Single Man

Another performance hampered by a subpar film.  It tickled me pink to see Colin Firth get a nod, because he’s been so consistently great.  Given about as much to work with as Jeff Bridges, for example, Firth creates a much more textured character, one who felt more like a real person than a caricature.

Just off the ballot: Michael Sheen (The Damned United) and Patton Oswalt (Big Fan)

You’d think record snowfall in DC would give the Grouches little to do but write lots of brilliant posts. But you would be wrong, not that we have particularly good reasons.

So let me just chime in for a moment and note that The Lovely Bones is absolutely terrible. Thanks!

We made our Oscar nomination picks on Monday and the results are in! And, just like in our Golden Globes pool, we have a tie.

In the Big Eight categories, Brian and Jared tied with 39 while John got 37 (out of 45). We completely whiffed on several nominees: Penelope Cruz for Supporting Actress, The Blind Side for Picture, The Messenger for Original Screenplay, and In the Loop for Adapted Screenplay.

On the plus side, Brian boldly predicted Maggie Gyllenhaal for Supporting Actress and was rewarded. Going with Helen Mirren in the fifth spot wasn’t a particularly bold choice, but it also wasn’t obvious, and it gave Jared a perfect slate for Best Actress.

For the entire list of nominees, Jared and John tied at 78 (out of 105). We ended up choosing the exact same slate of nominees for several of the categories, making the competition close if a little boring.

John was one off from perfection for Cinematographpy and  Sound Mixing while picking three correct Original Songs. Jared did well to pick correctly all but one in the Costume and Original Score catgories.

Maybe our Oscar pool will finally be able to declare a definitive winner!

Well this morning the Official Mistress of the Golden Grouches (c), Anne Hathaway, announced the nominations — and there were few surprises among the acting nods, a couple shockers in the Best Picture, but overall things went according to plan. Nonetheless, we still pulled together our thoughts for a short post.

Brian: My biggest disappointment is that with Penelope Cruz’ nomination, I now have to see Nine, something that I had been avoiding doing. No real desire to see it at all, but it can’t be nearly as bad as Lovely Bones, which fortunately, did indeed garner Stanley Tucci a nomination. It would have been tragic had we had to sit through that dreck for no reason whatsoever.

With the best pictures, I was quite happy to see District 9 get the nod there and in screenplay — I held out hope for director until getting slapped in the face by Lee Daniels name being read. As Jared says below, Blind Side is the only real WTF here, and even that it’s rather pointless since it has no shot at winning. This batch of nominations also has me quite excited to see A Serious Man when it comes out on DVD next week.

Other thoughts: disappointed that Damon got nominated for the wrong role and left Molina in the dust. Happy to see Moore get snubbed for A Single Man as her role was more or less the same as Susan Sarandon’s in Lovely Bones and was less funny. I had forgotten all about In the Loop until John started his well-deserved campaign for it, and I’m happy that John got something to gloat about. By far my biggest disappointment though was Marvin Hamlisch getting crapola for The Informant. His score was such an integral character in the great movie that it deserved to win the award, not just the nod.

Looking forward to stewing over these races in the “should win” discussions — especially the screenplays. Lots to ponder. And I think the 10 films for best picture was a wild success — good job…academy?

Adam: Editor’s Note: Adam did not submit anything so I wrote it for him. Inglorious Basterds: Yay. If only It’s Complicated were nominated, then I could make fun of Brian more. I’ll find other ways.

Jared, via iPhone in the DFW airport: Most surprising to me is the relative lack of true surprises. There were some, of course, but I’d guess most Oscar prognosticators did pretty well, especially if they stayed conservative.

People will hate on The Blind Side, and sure, it probably isn’t a top ten film. However, in my opinion it is miles better than Crazy Heart, Invictus, and The Messenger, all of which now appear to have been viable contenders. Like, it just isn’t close at all. So while I would have preferred Star Trek, The Hangover, or In The Loop, I can settle for the middle ground.

I’ve heard people claim this is the wrong year for ten nominees. But you know what? This a very strong lineup, and for me, stacks up against much of this decade’s best picture groups. And really, assuming the expansion got District 9 and Up into the group, I’m fully prepared to call it a success.

I’m a little surprised we didn’t see something crazy in Supporting Actress. Sorta seems like the Academy threw its collective hands in the air and gave up. There was definitely room for another film to have made a play here. No Basterds is a surprise, I guess, but there seemed a very unWeinstein-like unfocused campaign.

Finally, the screenplay categories were a general success. My efforts to not jinx them went mostly rewarded. In the Loop getting a nomination is such a good thing. But, of course, the one nomination I really really wanted to see, (500) Days of Summer, missed. Probably at the hands of The Messenger, which I interpret as a direct, intentional, personal slap in my face.

John: Before going to bed last night I nearly made a quick post amending my earlier “biggest hopes” declarations. But I decided not to and both of those hopes came true!

I had been surprised at the amount of In the Loop predictions prognosticators were making yesterday, which gave me hope for an Adapted Screenplay nomination, whereas before I thought of it as only a longshot. But then it happened! It was my big fist pump moment of the morning. It really has made my day.

My other hope was that Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs would get left off the Animated Feature slate in favor of some of the more interesting films that came out this year. When Coraline was announced first (nominees are announced alphabetically) it was obvious this wish had come true and it was fun to see what would take its spot. The Secret of Kells is an interesting choice, although not the one I would make.

A few other quick thoughts:

  • A boring slate of acting nominees. Very by the numbers. Penelope Cruz was a surprise, but only because her long-presumed nomination seemed derailed by Nine‘s failure.
  • No Avatar in Original Screenplay. Not a problem for most of the Grouches, but interesting that such a juggernaut would miss. 500 Days of Summer also missed and that had seemed like the indie that would break out in a writing category. I suspect not being in the picture for Best Picture hurt it.
  • Hooray for Invictus not making Best Picture even though it appears to be supplanted by the awful The Blind Side.
  • No Makeup nod for District 9 despite the film’s heavy use of prosthetics. Instead the aging makeup for Il Divo and the hairstyles of The Young Victoria get in, along side Star Trek.
  • No Score nod for The Informant! excludes that gem of a film completely.
  • I’m generally happy with the Best Song slate. Thankfully “See You” from Avatar was left off.

Like you could live on nomination day without my thoughts on this year’s crop of Original Songs!

Rather than writing a small blurb on each of eligible songs this year (there are only so many adjectives for “bland”) I thought I’d pretend to be a part of the Music branch and nominate as if I had a ballot.

63 songs qualified this year. Voters screen three minute clips of each eligible song as it appears in the movie. I understand the idea since you’d ideally like to consider the song as a piece of a film. But clips have the effect of taking the song out of context – undermining their effect – and undervaluing final credits songs. A good final credits song can be perfect for a film as you sit and contemplate what you’ve just seen; think last year’s title track from The Wrestler. That’s lost in a clip screening like this.

Voters give each song a score between 6 and 10 with half votes allowed. A song must average an 8.25 score to qualify for nomination; there is no further guidance for what each score should mean. I take it to mean I should score 8.5 or above any song I think is worth of nomination.

The Best

“The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart: 10. Sort of the point of the entire film.

“Smoke Without Fire” from An Education: 10. I love Duffy’s smoky voice. Could be hurt by its placement on the end credits even though it’s perfect there.

Depression Era” from That Evening Sun: 10. Nice, stripped down, folksy tune from Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers fame.

Down in New Orleans” from The Princess and the Frog: 9.5. Terrifically catchy bluesy song from Dr. John. Best of the film.

Only You” from The Young Victoria: 9.5. I have a terrific soft spot for Sinead O’Connor.

Hideaway” and “All Is Love” from Where the Wild Things Are: 9 and 9. I love me some Karen O and I love me some non-professional choir singers.

The Good

Somebody Else” from Crazy Heart: 8. Jeff Bridges pulls out his twangy country singing voice.

When You Find Me” from Adam: 8.5. There’s literally nothing interesting about Joshua Radin but the duet here makes it work.

“Fly Farm Blues” from It Might Get Loud: 9. I love Jack White and I love the idea that a song he was challenged to create in ten minutes for a documentary could get nominated. Polish up the vocals and this is awesome.

The Other Contenders

You Got Me Wrapped Around Your Little Finger” from An Education: 7. Lounge-y. Not for me.

Cinema Italiano” from Nine: 8. Kind of not good but also kind of appealing, at least when it gets fast. A lot of film lingo in the lyrics, which is funny.

Take it All” from Nine: 7.5. Marion Cotillard can sing.

(I Want to) Come Home” from Everybody’s Fine: 7. Bland Paul McCartney.

The other songs from The Princess and the Frog aren’t as good as “Down in New Orleans.” “Almost There” (7) is a likely nominee but too simplistic after a nice intro. “Ma Belle Evangeline” (7.5) is admittedly the best love song I’ve ever heard a Cajun firefly sing. “Never Knew I Needed” (6.5) is the Ne-Yo song I never knew I needed.

The Funny

Dove of Peace” from Bruno: 7. Fake celebrity benefit song gets an extra .5 since it’d be funny performed on the Oscar telecast

Stu’s Song” from The Hangover: 8.5. Amusing!

Other Father Song” from Coraline: 8. Crazy short! Yes that’s the whole thing. The problem with short catchy songs is they get stuck in your head.

Petey’s Song” from Fantastic Mr Fox: 7. Even Jarvis Cocker is sub-par in this movie. Wouldn’t mind seeing a nice banjo tune on the telecast though

The Schmaltzy

I See You” from Avatar: 6. No. Even worse than “My Heart Will Go On.”

Invictus 9,000 Days” and “Colorblind” from Invictus: 6.5 and 6. No and no. “Colorblind” may be the worst of the bunch. And god, so literal! Perfect for a Clint Eastwood film.

Winter” from Brothers: 6. U2 makes schmaltzy crap? Who knew! And again so literal!

God Bless Us Everyone” from Disney’s A Christmas Carol: 8.5. Maybe it’s just Andrea Bocelli’s voice but I think this could make a nice standard Christmas carol.

The Different

I Bring What I Love” from Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love: 6. Youssou Ndour wrote a song for a documentary about himself?

Innocent Child” and “Let Freedom Reign” from Skin: 6.5 and 7. A little bit better African music

Loin de Paname” from Paris 36: 6.5. The winner of a “make a song that sounds French” contest. Yes there are accordians.

Un Boquete de Violettes” from New York, I Love You: 7.5. Opera. Kinda of bizarre especially after Paris, je t’aime had such a great song.

“We Are the Children of the World” and “We Love Violence” from The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus: 6.5 and 7. I can’t say it better than New York Magazine: “We Are the Children of the World” is a mockery of celebrity charity, sung by urchins at a glittery A-list benefit. “We Love Violence” is a rowdy celebration of police brutality shouted out by vicious police officers, who conclude their ditty with spectacular flatulence.

The Hannah Montana

Hannah Montana The Movie qualified five songs just to torment me. Let’s get this over with

Back to Tennessee“: 6. Nice they let Billy Ray have a song. Awful.

Butterfly Fly Away“: 6. Awful.

Don’t Walk Away“: 6. Awful.

You’ll Always Find Your Way Back Home“: 6. Awful.

“Hoedown Throwdown”: 7. This is a square dance rap. Yes, you read that right. It goes into the “so awful it’s kind of catchy” territory! SO BAD YOU MUST WATCH! BOOM BOOM CLAP!

The Awful

The Word is Love” from Oy Vey! My Son is Gay!: 6. If I didn’t know better I’d say this is a joke video. Also features a horrifying Bruce Vilanch.

New Divide” from Transformers 2: 6. Transformers + Linkin Park = awful.

Possibility” from New Moon: 6. I can’t get over how bad this song is. I don’t know who you are Lykke Li, but you are on notice.

Na Na” from Couples Retreat: 6.5. What AR Rahman does after winning his Oscars for Slumdog Millionaire.

Blanco” from Fast and Furious: 6.5. To be fair reggaeton can only be so good.

One Day” from Post Grad: 6. Jack Savoretti wishes he was Jack Johnson. So that he could be mediocre instead of awful.

AyAyAyAy” from The Maid: 6. I don’t do slow hispanic tunes.

Legendary” from Tyson: 6. Bad Nas song.

“Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea” from Ponyo: 6. Available in Japanese and English (the latter with a little Jonas and a little Cyrus!). Monumentally irritating!

The Boring

Raining Sunshine” from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: 6.5. Is Miranda Cosgrove ever not boring?

Being Bad” from Duplicity: 6.5. Is this a cha-cha?

Forget Me” from I Love You, Beth Cooper: 6.5. Acoustic version is a little better.

“My One and Only” from My One and Only: 6.5. Did you know Kevin and Bacon and Renee Zellweger did a movie together this year? Anyway, lounge-y and bad.

“Brothers in Arms” from Brothers at War: 6. I had been wondering what the guy from Five for Fighting was up to. Or not. Whatever.

Here” from Shrink: 6. I like Jackson Browne but this is a snoozer.

If You’re Wondering” from The Lightkeeper: 6.5. Yet another female crooner.

Through the Trees” from Jennifer’s Body: 6.5. This band, Low Shoulder, has a future entertaining teens and irritating me.

“Trust Me” from The Informant!: 6. More crooning. Still love the movie.’

“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Old Dogs: 6.5. Bryan Adams needs to go away.

The Ineligible But I Wish They Weren’t!

I Can See in Color” from Precious: 9.5. Mary J Blige brings it!

Help Yourself” from Up in the Air: 9.5. Sad Brad brings it! Whoever he is. Good song but it also works very well in the film.

Final Tally

That’s 58 of the 63 songs reviewed; the others I couldn’t find. Average score: 6.9. Yikes! I rated eleven 8.5 or higher, indicative of being worthy of nomination in my eyes. Now what bland, derivative songs will the Academy choose?

February 2010
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