You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Me and Orson Welles’ category.

73. Big Fan

I’m not entirely certain there’s a huge crossover between cineastes and sports fans, but as someone in the middle of that Venn diagram, I was looking forward to this film, which stars Patton Oswalt and was directed by Robert D. Siegel.  Oswalt was a revelation and deserved, I felt, to at least be in the Oscar discussion.  His character felt very fresh, even if much of the plot was exceedingly familiar.  The film is pretty dark, which sometimes led it to be a little opaque.  The ending was certainly interesting, not sure anyone could claim they saw it coming.

72. Trucker

There was roughly a week last year where Michelle Monaghan received some Oscar buzz for this role, so on my queue it went.  I tend to have strong reactions to her roles, I adored her in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, thought she was a cipher in Gone Baby Gone.  I absolutely do think she could have entered the Oscar conversation with a few more scenes written for her (well, and a larger distributor wouldn’t have hurt).  The story is a little sparse, occasionally too much so.  I did think the reversal of traditional gender roles was used pretty effectively.  Also, let’s take a second to appreciate Nathan Fillion, who’s every bit as amazing as you’d expect him to be.  In a just world he would have at least been mentioned in supporting actor talks.

71. Year One

Seems like I may have rated this one a little bit higher than I expected, I’m sure that’s in no way related to Gavin calling that this film would be a huge dud.  Saw this one with Matt, Jess, and their new baby Grace.  Who I guess isn’t so new any more!  I’m not entirely certain what went wrong here.  The cast is solid, with tons of cool cameos.  It was directed and co-written by comedy legend Harold Ramis and co-written by The Office scribes…wait a second.  Did anyone else see this season of The Office?  Suddenly it all makes a little more sense.

70. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant

I think there are many extra challenges to adapting a series (as opposed to a standalone novel).  One pitfall this film fell into was the desire to establish a franchise without laying the groundwork for one.  Much of the film felt like a giant prologue for stories to come.  Which, hey, may work great in a TV pilot.  John C. Reilly was his usual great self and Salma Hayek was the hottest bearded lady since Rebecca Romijn in Dirty Work.  Orlando Jones shows up, I think he continues to be criminally underused.

69. Me and Orson Welles

I’ve said it before, but there’s absolutely no good reason Matt Damon gets a nom for Invictus and Christian McKay get bupkis.  I refuse to believe anyone could watch the two films and choose Damon.  The thing is, I can’t even come up with a compelling argument as to how it could happen.  I mean, sure, Hollywood loves them some Clint Eastwood movies, that’s fine.  But Christian McKay is playing Orson freakin’ Welles.  Which tells me no one saw this movie.  Kinda like my theater, which included John and two other people.  Zac Efron acquits himself nicely, I think, and Claire Danes reminds us that she should have had a better career.  Eddie Marsan was a nice casting choice, as was Zoe Kazan who was in like everything I saw during one two week stretch.

68. 9

The second film on the list from the infamous Bengie’s drive-in triple feature.  Undeniably cool-looking, the film is about as far away from that other Nine as possible.  The apocalyptic steampunk feel is quite vivid.  I think we all agreed afterward that the film’s style could be described as “cool.”  But we all also agreed that the story needed some work.  Which is the big difference between Pixar and all other animation studios.  A case could be made that 9 was more aesthetically exciting than some of Pixar’s work.  But Pixar’s scripts are almost universally top-notch, which just wasn’t the case here.  Of course, that’s a pretty unfair bar to be trying to reach.

67. Sunshine Cleaning

There’s a lot of good stuff here, but it ultimately feels like a rough draft of a film.  To echo John, the subplot with Mary Lynn Raskjub is almost entire irrelevant and Alan Arkin’s character never escapes his character from Little Miss Sunshine.  Emily Blunt’s character never really gets well-defined, though she’s solid.  And Amy Adams has proven quite proficient at playing the eternal optimist who faced a giant moment of self-doubt at a pivotal point.   I also thought the film seemed a lot like a TV pilot.  I could definitely envision the continuing adventures of the crew.  And again to echo John, Clifton Collins, Jr. is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters actors.

66. State of Play

As I’m sure Brian would be happy to tell you, the DC geography in this one is…questionable.  But Russell Crowe does go into Ben’s Chili Bowl, so I’ve got no problems with it.  The resounding word that comes to mind when I think of this film is “average.”  It is an average conspiracy theory thriller with average characters and average intrigue.  The cast is quite stellar, I think you get down a dozen names before you get to underused Oscar nominee Viola Davis.  Rachel McAdams deserves to have better roles, I think.  Mirren got to have a little fun, but her character didn’t have nearly enough screen time for anything meaningful.  I’ve had the miniseries on my queue forever, I can see how the additional time would help flesh out the conspiracy theory plot.

65. Invictus

You can read all our thoughts on this Oscar nominee by clicking the link on the sidebar (or, to save you the energy, here).  I’ve spent a lot of time bringing this movie down, so I want to make it clear that I actually think it is a good movie, and I don’t have anything bad to say about the performances.  But it is an Oscar movie by pedigree and subject, not by actual merit.  I think John’s talked about the film’s spirit, and I agree.  If I were making a movie about the feel good can-do spirit of togetherness, I’d probably head directly to Clint Eastwood.  And then have my butt handed to me for being so presumptuous.  One thing I must continue to emphasize is how poorly the rugby scenes were shot.  They were made to seem almost incidental to the story.

64. Love Happens

I have absolutely no idea how I would have marketed this film.  So I can’t blame them for pitching it as a romantic comedy. The movie has many of the trappings of a romantic comedy: two attractive leads (Aaron Eckhart and Jennifer Aniston) each with a spunky best friend (Dan Fogler and Judy Greer) and a few other interesting characters (John Carroll Lynch and Martin Sheen).  But the movie is something else.  Something deeper and sadder.  Really, it is one of the better looks at grief I’ve seen.  The lack of definable genre was generally freeing, but at times it felt like the filmmakers themselves had lost sight of what the film was supposed to be.

Oscar nominations will be announced on February 2.  We’re counting down to the big day by offering some hard-hitting analysis and incisive opinions on the toughest questions surrounding the nominees.  All of us have our favorite films and performances currently on the bubble.  And we all have spent long periods of time spewing invective at the films and performances that will keep our favorites out.  What inclusion or exclusion on Tuesday will disappoint you?

John: Out With The Old, In With The Old?

On Tuesday, Invictus is likely to end up with nominations for Best Picture, Actor, and Supporting Actor. It’s not a bad movie and in fact has an irresistible spirit that partially overcomes some of its flaws. And Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon turn in fine performances, though they do not reach the level required for nominations in my humble opinion.

But what disappoints me is how unimaginative these nominations will be. Invictus is an epitome of Oscar bait: schlocky, a plot that superficially tackles difficult social issues, and directed by Clint Eastwood. With an expanded slate of ten Best Picture nominations, if we’re going to have mediocre nominees let’s at least make them interesting and not just the same old stuff. The sort of narrow vision that rewards films like this year after year is tiresome.

Plus the Freeman/Damon nomination combo will likely put the kibosh on Damon’s chances to be nominated for a much better performance in The Informant!, the performance of the year in fact. Freeman will slip into the fourth or fifth spot for Actor, denying Damon, while Damon’s own popularity in Supporting Actor for Invictus will erode his support for Lead. These perennial safety nominations are usually worth an eye-roll but now they’re actively undermining my own preferences! Gah!

Brian: Give Him The Idol, Or He’ll Throw You The Whip

Like John, and its pretty scary to write those words, I saw a lot to enjoy in An Education, and a few things to nitpick on (too long, etc..), but my adoration of the film begins with Alfred Molina as Carey Mulligan’s father. His bombast was great comic relief and his scene later trying to comfort Mulligan is one of the best in the movie. Viewed in the modern context, his views on the roles of a wife/daughter were abhorrent enough that you couldn’t even see why his wife would have married him, but it is to Molina’s credit that they were played of as buffonery instead of malicious disrespect. While I hope (and deep down think) that he will get recognized for the role, I’m going for the reverse jinx here and saying that he will be ignored. And if the Academy had any cojones, they would take a page from the American Latino Media Awards and nominate him for his role in Pink Panther 2 as well.

One other predicted disappointment I’ll make note of: Both Star Trek and District 9 fail to get nominated, clearing the way for Avatar to lock up the nerd/blockbuster-loving/visual-effects vote and coasting to a Best Picture nod, which would disappoint everyone this side of John (which is everyone). With those two in the mix, the outlook for a Hurt Locker or even an Up in the Air win becomes much more likely (albeit less than I’d like.)

Jared: Would Like To Make It Perfectly Clear That He Has Nothing Against Mr. Eastwood And Means No Disrespect.  About Anything.  Ever.

I’ve got a few gripes here, so I figure I’ll lay them all out and maybe I’ll get lucky and one will hit, like last year (with The Reader).  In the Best Picture race, the one film that really is going to cheese me off is Invictus, exactly the opposite of the type of film the expansion is supposed to help, I think.  Did anyone love this movie?  If you want to like it, that’s fine, whatever.  But just like Frost/Nixon, this film will be largely forgotten a year from now.  Heck, I’d wager the movie is largely forgotten right now.  It is just stunning to me that anyone who has seen at least a dozen movies this year could count the film as one of the year’s best.  If a film like The Messenger gets in, I’ll be sad, but at least I can understand how it inspires reverence.  With Invictus, I think people are confusing an inspiring story with a well-told one.

For Best Actor, I’m increasingly realizing I’m alone here, but I think Daniel Day-Lewis is getting lost in shuffle, thanks to the mediocrity that is Nine.  Well, and we also probably take him for granted at this point, since he keeps turning in larger than life performances over and over again.  Putting the movie aside, Day-Lewis is mesmerizing as director Guido Contini as he balances all the women in his life with putting together a new movie.  Any success the film has may well be directly attributed to him.  (Well, OK, Judi Dench is pretty cool, and Penelope Cruz’s dance didn’t hurt.)  The transformation Day-Lewis undergoes from role to role is just staggering.

Finally, if you want to have a debate over how much “acting” goes into mimicking someone famous, that’s fine.  But if you want Morgan Freeman and Meryl Streep to get nods, you have to want Christian McKay to get one as well, for playing the titular character in Me and Orson Welles (that would be Orson, not Me).  It really is as simple as that, for me.  His Welles is a whirlwind of a character, dominating his screen time, as any Welles should.  And he left an impression every much as vivid as Freeman or Streep, if not moreso.

Adam: The Academy Should Be Full Of Basterds

This is actually a pretty easy category for me. My favorite film of the year was Inglourious Basterds and it will also easily cause the biggest disappointment for me. While last year’s snub of Dark Knight for Best Picture and the little love for In Bruges caused me anguish, this year I believe my front-runner will get the nominations it deserves. Unfortunately, this triumph will be bittersweet and tempered by the fact that it will not win for Picture, Director, or Writing (I hope, at this point, that Waltz is a lock for Supporting Actor – not sure if I will be able to continue to watch the Oscars if he doesn’t). While my love for all things Tarantino biases my opinion, I don’t think it can be denied that he writes one hell’va script. To the point that even Jason Reitman gave him props at the Golden Globes saying he was still waiting for Tarantino’s name to be called instead of his own. Since I won’t be able to be unbiased, I’ll leave my ranting there and forgo the reasons Picture and Director should go to him as well.

Needless to say, the lack of a win in these categories will definitely be the biggest disappointment for me this year.

Random thoughts here.

George Clooney plays a character named Ryan Bingham in Up in the Air.

The singer/songwriter who composed “The Weary Kind,” a likely Best Original Song nominee for Crazy Heart is named Ryan Bingham.

Zoe Kazan plays a character named Gabby Adler in It’s Complicated (second from right).

Zoe Kazan plays a character named Gretta Adler in Me and Orson Welles (left).

January 2021