The Academy Awards are rapidly approaching. This is an event I’m always excited to watch, even if it’s controlled by so much politics and sometimes the ceremony is a genuine snooze fest. It’s still fun because it has the veneer of respectability. The Golden Globes are decided by a small amount of people who seem easily open to influence or bribes. The Grammys have so many oddly fractured categories it’s hard to keep track of them all. Not to mention you rarely walk away from them feeling that the right people won. The Tonys award some great talent, and that charming NPH has been doing a bang-up job hosting awards shows, but unless you live in New York it’s unlikely you’ve actually seen any of the shows being celebrated. It’s hard to root for a team you can never watch. So, sports fans have the Superbowl, I have the Oscars.
If Side Effects truly does end up being Steven Soderbergh’s final theatrical release (as he claims to have retired), no one can blame him for swinging for the fences. The director has worn many different hats in his twenty-plus years in the business, releasing films at a breakneck speed and moving seamlessly from genre to genre. Side Effects, then, makes for a suitable career capper, as its mood and intentions change drastically from one reveal to the next. Not in the mood for diatribes on the dangers of big-time pharmaceutical companies? Wait twenty minutes and hold on tight.
So, as much as I love movies (and I LOVE them), I don’t actually watch many new ones. I tend to view films when I feel like it, and my interest has little to do with release schedules. I do go to the theater, but not that often, and usually to see older stuff. (Also, I was sick for a really long time last year and didn’t get out much.) My top 10 for 2012 list is a little different than most because it’s what I watched in 2012—not what came out. The only rule: it cannot be something I have seen before. (Otherwise it would just be all Hitchcock and John Carpenter.) Runners up include In Name Only (1939), Ball of Fire (1941), Public Speaking (2010), Sound of my Voice (2011), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), Magic Mike (2012), 2 Days in New York (2012), Three Godfathers (1936), and Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011). There is one movie that I saw, The Gatekeepers (2012), that would have made the list pretty near the top, but it is not being released for a while, so I’m leaving a space for it on next year’s list.
What is in a look, a stare, or a knowing glance? What is an emotion? Ideally in film, emotions should be expressed in actions, since it’s a medium of moving pictures and all. However, over the decades directors have struggled to define the actor’s interior sense without words to do some of the heavy lifting. A long time ago, in the 1920s and before, sound and words were not taken for granted. The silent film era is still considered one of the most important, not only because they were the ones who were still making all the rules, but because they had to work within their limitations. Besides the obvious technological disadvantages, the actors had to come up with ways of showing emotion and moving a scene along with just their actions and expressions. Some of these now-silly acting techniques were acquired by overly melodramatic theater and have since been seen as a dated way to build a character. But perhaps there is something to be said for being able to get a scene from point A to point B without ever saying a word.
Moneyball (2011) is a sports film…well…not really. Yes, it’s based around baseball, but it’s not necessarily about the sport itself. It’s more about what goes on behind the scenes: what happens behind closed doors amongst the people who decide which players will go out and play on the field. We see the wheeling and dealing of the upper management, between the owners, general managers, and coaches, and how they work (or don’t work) together to create a winning ball club. Centered on the Oakland Athletics during the summer of 2002, the film deals with a manager who, with the loss of some key players and with very little money to work with, has to come up with a new scheme to save the team and his own job. It’s an underdog story, but told through a different perspective.
Another Top 5 segment from The MacGuffin. This time Brandi and Allen share their top 5 non-actors turned actors.
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I have to say, when I sat down to write this article, I had a little trouble figuring out how to begin. Thinking about it for a moment, I had to chuckle at the irony, seeing that this review is in regard to Limitless (2011), the newest film starring Bradley Cooper. In it, he plays a writer who starts off having writer’s block for his entire life—he can begin just about anything but finishes nothing. His life is made up of a series of false starts and rare accomplishments. That is, until he gets the ultimate gift: the ability to do anything that his heart desires, climbing his way up the social ladder with very little to no effort. Now, I think most of us can agree that the great things in life are seldom handed to us, and if they are, others want to know how they can make it easy too. That’s when things can get a little interesting.
John and Brandi sit down to share their thoughts following the 2011 Academy Awards. They discuss the winners, the losers, and the show itself.