Sunday, February 22, 2009

They Make Movies: The 2009 Academy Awards

I'm writing this now because I know I won't be able to write anything that requires a serious amount of time during the week. I still have a billion things in the inner portals of my mind that I can't remember as of now, but I will proceed with my mini review of the Oscar ceremony anyway.

I've always adored the glitz and glamour of the annual Oscar ceremony. The fashion, the awards, the sheer exhilaration of it all, the celebration of a rewarding artistic medium, the performances--it's just a wondrous sight to behold. And I still have to see some of those movies. Now I absolutely have to see Slumdog Millionaire, despite how corny and schmaltzy the premise sounds.

For me, this year's fashion standouts were Amy Adams in her gorgeous red dress and Taraji P. Henson in her lovely white dress. Both Adams and Henson had delightfully fancy jewelry to accompany their remarkable dresses. (I might showcase my favorite dresses from the ceremony later in the week when I find better quality pictures.)

I loved both musical numbers. Hugh Jackman was a rather fun host. Loved seeing Anne Hathaway (whoa, that voice!) and Beyonce rocking that stage. (But Zanessa? Meh.) Queen Latifah was wonderful, but the "In Memoriam" tribute was kind of awful, with the camera just going all over the place in the most annoying manner possible.

But really, I got a little sick of medleys in the "I don't want to hear another one for a very long time" kind of way.

I didn't care for the five past winners from the acting categories reading cue cards--I mean, praising the nominees before handing out the actual award. During that time, I just kept thinking to myself, "Why can't they just hand out the damn award now?" It doesn't help that the actors didn't seem very enthusiastic about showering those praises. It kind of made me wonder whether or not the actors actually saw the performances they were praising on stage since all of those speeches felt forced. I understand that it's nice for the nominees to get specially recognized for their work and have the spotlight on them for a while, but it resulted in this never-ending drag that made all that jazz slightly less entertaining.

But Kate Winslet won! Finally... Despite the negative criticism about her performance being the least-deserved out of all her past Oscar nominations, I still feel that Winslet's portrayal of Hanna in The Reader is a grand work of excellence. I definitely believe that Winslet's performance in The Reader is superior than her previously nominated performances in Sense and Sensibility and Titanic.

Then Robert De Niro appeared! I was too excited about the fact that he's on my TV screen and barely heard what he said about Sean Penn. I'm a terrible person, I know. But I hadn't seen a De Niro film in ages so I admit, I kind of missed him.

The icing on the cake was when Steven Spielberg presented the Best Picture award. My Spielberg fangirliness kind of came out that moment in a really weird, absurd way. I was saying things like, "Spielberg should win Best Director like, every single year." Well, probably except this year, but that's not my point.

The ceremony didn't really have any surprises so it really did get kind of boring as the evening dragged on. Everyone who I expected to win, won, maybe except for Sean Penn. I guess like everyone else, I expected Mickey Rourke to take the Best Actor award, but Penn was definitely number two on the list. I don't really know what to say since I haven't seen either performances, but it's all about the statistics when it comes to guessing the winner, right?

Despite how pretty the set looked, the entire ceremony felt a little sloppy, though. Lots of obvious cue card readings. Lots of sloppy montages. Lots of in-your-face loud background music. It did feel a little bit like a party, just not a very elegant, well-planned one. But there were fun moments, especially the song-and-dance moments that I somewhat enjoyed and Jack Black's little joke about betting on Pixar. Then again, it still didn't beat the 2007 Oscar ceremony (hosted by Ellen DeGeneres), which was probably the most glamorous and elegant Oscar ceremony I had seen so far in my lifetime.

The 2009 Oscars was just disappointing and unimpressive, although there were some sparks of potential around the edges.

There's always next year...and the year after that...

Head over to IMDb to view a full list of winners from tonight's ceremony. Feel free to discuss the Oscars. I would love to hear what you all thought about the ceremony!

By the way, I really want to see Departures (Best Foreign Film winner). Has anyone seen it? Is it any good?

Rating of Ceremony: **1/2 (out of four)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Gallery of My Favorite Cinematic Couples

I'm glad to announce that I'm still well and alive. And I do remember that I own a film blog.

To celebrate this wonderful holiday of love and expensive chocolates on my blog, I decided to make a little gallery of my favorite cinematic couples (in no particular order). So here I go...

Perhaps one of the most romantic moments in film...ever. Short, sweet, and amazingly memorable.

I don't care what happened in the books. I'm delusional: Harry and Hermione forever. And it helps that Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson have incredible chemistry.

The best romantic comedy ever made. Gregory Peck (sigh) and Audrey Hepburn shines brighter than ever in that gorgeous Roman backdrop.

Jo and Laurie are my favorite literary couple and I am convinced my life would have been much better if Jo just accepted Laurie's marriage proposal! That said, Winona Ryder and Christian Bale's performances and chemistry makes me even more frustrated and annoyed that Jo and Laurie don't end up together.

How can any list of this sort be complete without the immortal Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler?

This is a very unconventional choice, but I've always found the relationship between Michael Corleone and Kay Adams quite fascinating. The farther Michael moves away from Kay, emotionally and physically, the farther away he is from his American Dream. Al Pacino and Diane Keaton (in one of the most underrated performances ever) portray the dynamics between the two wonderfully.

Unrequited love...sigh.

One of the sweetest couples ever. One boy, one special boy...sigh. Bobby Rydell and Ann-Margret are adorably irresistible.

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan proves the power of predictably cutsey, cheesy charm.

"You hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you!" Then comes the famous line...


I hope you enjoyed this gallery. Feel free to discuss and bring up your own personal favorites. Next time, I'll aim for something a little more substantial.