Girl Wins Boys Club Award

January 31, 2010 Sherry Coben

With her historic win, the narrative going into the Academy Awards gets a little trickier and a lot more fun. As everyone knows who cares, “Avatar” director James Cameron and Ms. Bigelow were once married. It’s like the perfect set-up for a Nancy Meyer rom-com. The other likely Oscar nominees — Jason Reitman, Lee Daniels, and Quentin Tarantino — go into the race as also-rans and bridesmaids, unburdened with the compelling domestic drama — Divorcee Twelve Million Grossing David Potentially Clobbers Her Ex-Box Office Goliath. No one’s betting on a big upset. After all, only six DGA winners have failed to repeat their wins on Oscar night. Forty-seven of the films that won the DGA prize went on to win best picture at the Academy Awards, and so the “Inglorious Basterds” momentum that seemed to be building at the SAG awards screeched to a sudden halt. “Avatar” has splintered every box office record in its path, but Cameron’s Golden Globes acceptance speech wasn’t terribly humble or eloquent; Bigelow’s at the Broadcast Film Critics was. These early awards season speeches are dry runs, virtual auditions. The industry tunes in and decides which player they want to represent them on the Big Night. Reitman’s consistently adorable and convincingly humble; they’ll surely give him a screenplay award. Tarantino is something of a loose cannon; if he dressed a little better, he’d probably have more of a chance. Hollywood is a giant high school, and the directors are running for class president. (The movie stars vie for prom king and queen.)
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Edge of Darkness (2010) -vs- The Brave One (2007)

January 30, 2010 Mark Sanchez

High stakes for Mel Gibson these days. As an actor he’s been off the screen.. and uncomfortably in the headlines.. the past half-dozen years. I’m not the only person wondering if audiences would remember Mel Gibson for what he said on screen.. or for what he said during a drunk driving arrest.
So here he comes in the remake of “Edge of Darkness.” This carefully chosen material calls out all the character elements that define Gibson’s screen work: emotional intensity, a violated sense of right and wrong, and few qualms about a violent response.
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When In Rome (2010) -vs- Roman Holiday (1953)

January 29, 2010 Sherry Coben

Featuring precious little Rome and a lot of Antic, “When In Rome” falls back on every exhausted (and exhausting) rom-com convention in the book. In Rome for her sister’s wedding, a career woman cynically steals coins from a fountain and unknowingly makes five strangers fall madly in love with her. Kristen Bell makes for an adorable lead who needs fresher and smarter material to reach her full rom-com heroine potential. Josh Duhamel stands tall as her love object, slightly less generic than the usual rom-com Ken doll. There’s not much standing in their way, no real obstacles, and therein lies the rub. The two meet semi-cute in the first ten minutes, and we know they’ll wind up together; nothing much happens in the middle to call their happy ending into question. There’s much ado about the nothing; pilfered coins, local legend, and enchanted suitors sound like more fun than they are.
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VOTE NOW: Writers Choose One of Their Own as Host!

January 28, 2010 Bryce Zabel

No one could ever call the Writers Guild Awards predictable. Even the most enthusiastic Avatar booster admits to having some issues with that film’s script (or at least, with the occasionally clumsy dialogue). The brilliantly scripted In the Loop makes for a glaring omission that can be explained; the film was not included in the list of candidates for nomination.
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An Education (2009) -vs- A Single Man (2009)

January 28, 2010 Sherry Coben

It’s 1962, stylishly retro and way cool. TV’s Mad Men have paved the cultural way for two more stellar entries in the Sex And The Sixties pantheon. With the swinging sixties looming right on the horizon, Los Angeles college literature professor George (Colin Firth) and sixteen year old suburban London student Jenny (Carey Mulligan) fumble their un-merry ways through the rough-and-tumble terrain of love, loss, secrets, and sexual experience. Both lead performances have stirred up considerable Academy Award buzz, but they’re unlikely to compete head to head anywhere but right here. Dewy Maiden with Distinct Audrey Hepburn Echoes takes on World-Weary Confirmed Bachelor with a Not-So-Secret Secret. The winner? A grateful arthouse (and beyond) audience.
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The Book of Eli (2010) -vs- The Road (2009)

January 27, 2010 Bryce Zabel

We men have a default for action. So when the apocalypse arrives, we don’t plan on hunkering down, or trying to plant new crops.

No, we will hit the road, even if we don’t know where we’re going and, believe me, we’re not asking directions. For us, the idea is to keep moving.

My own personal take on the apocalypse is that it won’t be awesome, and it won’t be like a movie. It will be grimy, and personal hygiene will suffer, but the reason it’s called the apocalypse is that life will get cruel, short, and random, leaving precious few lines of witty dialogue to speak, or elegantly-staged action sequences to unfold. […]

Bright Star (2009) -vs- Impromptu (1991)

January 26, 2010 Sherry Coben

Ah, consumption. That most romantic and cinematic of slow fades. Think Camille. Two wildly talented love objects with fatally bad lungs compete for this particular smackdown crown. It’s Frederic Chopin versus Bright Star John Keats in a death-baiting battle of ill-fated geniuses, fighting for every breath, playing fast and loose with history, and winning lovely lady hearts as they struggle for ours. I dare you to find two more gorgeous grandees, two saintlier objects of obsession in all filmdom. Go ahead. I’ll wait here.
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Legion (2010) -vs- Daybreakers (2010)

January 25, 2010 Mark Sanchez

“Legion,” just out, calls out the forces of heaven; in “Daybreakers,” the irresistible force comes from another place. Both strain story logic and borrow from better movies but sputter out the same question: Humans, how do you want to die?
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The Hurt Locker Defuses Top Award from the Producers Guild

January 24, 2010 Bryce Zabel

If you haven’t seen it, the film is about a bomb-defusing unit in Iraq, a job that comes with a guarantee of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when you go home. Although it won at the Critics’ Choice Awards, it lost ground when the Globes chose “Avatar” as best dramatic film and then SAG gave its film ensemble award to Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”
What’s it all mean? Well, for starters, this PGA award always gets looked at as an indicator for which way the wind’s blowing in the race for the Academy Award for best film. During the past two decades, a baker’s dozen (13) of previous PGA winners have gone on to win the best film Oscar. The last time they didn’t connect was when the producers gave “Little Miss Sunshine” the win while the film academy went with “The Departed.”
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