10 for ’10 – Worst Predictions

23 12 2010

Catch up with the idea behind this series here.

We can’t be right all the time, unfortunately.  I’m among the guilty people on this planet who make stupid predictions every once in a while, and I made them often with conviction.  Now that the year is over, here’s a look back at some of my worst predictions in chronological order – and with 2011 up ahead, I’m laughing at these predictions.

January

“… if there is a breakout hit in [January], my bet is on [‘Leap Year’].”

What To Look Forward To in … January 2010

Well, this didn’t turn out so well.  In the first weekend of 2010, “Leap Year” opened to $9 million on its way to a total haul of only $25 million, ending up among the bottom half of January grossers.  On the bright side, it did manage to recoup its production budget!

“Could Kristen Bell become a breakout romantic comedy star with ‘When in Rome?’ … I have a feeling that this could surprise people and a new start could be born.”

What To Look Forward To in … January 2010

When in Rome” only grossed about $32 million in its whole run, or in Leyman’s terms, what “Avatar” grossed in its 7th weekend.  As for Kristen Bell, she still hasn’t hit it big; “You Again” grossed even less in September.

April

 

“I’m waiting for tomorrow – ‘Clash of the Titans,’ baby!”

Shameless Advertisement #11 – April 2010

Talk about a bust.  “Clash of the Titans” was a huge disappointment as I was really eagerly anticipating it.  As I wrote in my review, “My eyes might have seen in three dimensions, but my brain saw a movie that only had one.  Given how deeply rooted in mythology the story is, I had very high expectations for ‘Clash of the Titans.’  Unfortunately … it fails on all levels.”

May

“[Best Supporting Actor]  LOVES villians … It is also a category that likes to reward actors (usually veterans) who are overdue for a trophy … By these two characteristics, Rourke would appear to have a great shot.”

Oscar Moment: “Iron Man 2″

It’s funny because while I wasn’t a fan of “Iron Man 2,” I actually thought Rourke was the worst part of the movie, and there I was writing about his awards chances!  As I said in my review, “It’s hard to believe from watching ‘Iron Man 2′ that Mickey Rourke was being heralded as an Oscar nominee just 18 months ago.  When we aren’t waiting for him to say a word, his Whiplash seems to be nothing more than an unkind Russian stereotype.”  Clearly I liked “The Wrestler” too much …

“If ‘The Dark Knight’ was part of the reason that the Oscars moved to ten nominees, then they are still looking for that popcorn flick with enough brain to atone for their horrifying omission.  ‘Robin Hood‘ could be that movie.”

Oscar Moment: “Robin Hood”

Clearly I forgot about a little movie called “Inception” that was gearing up for release.

August

“Don’t be surprised if [‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’] is an out-of-nowhere smash hit.”

What To Look Forward To in … August 2010

Despite massive love from the bloggers, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” became a high-profile flop over the summer, earning just $10 million in fifth place its opening weekend on its way to just over $30 million cumulatively.  Ouch.

October

“I think the premise alone [of ‘The Social Network’] draws in $80 million in revenue, but the fact that it’s going to be really good will increase its total take to somewhere in the range of $120-150 million.  I’m hardly a box office analyst, I know, yet I feel pretty confident making this financial prediction.”

Oscar Moment: “The Social Network”

Perhaps I overestimated the box office potential of “The Social Network” earlier this year.  The Facebook movie drew in a respectable but not great $23 million in its opening weekend and displayed strong legs to power itself to $91 million (and still counting slowly).  So I was a little bit off on it setting the box office on fire.  But to my credit, I was dead-on about it being the Best Picture frontrunner all those months ago.

“I think [‘Hereafter’] could be a very powerful movie …”

What To Look Forward To in … October 2010

Hereafter” was a pretty big disappointment for me in 2010.  I wrote in my review, “In hyperlink cinema, one might say there exists a formula that the final product is equal to the sum of its parts.  However, Eastwood’s ‘Hereafter’ in total feels like less.”  Too bad, it could have been something good.

November

“To save the weekend, there’s Rachel McAdams in ‘Morning Glory!’  As if she’s not enough, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton are on board for this drama-comedy mix that doesn’t seem to favor any genre over the other.  What a great surprise awaits us!”

What To Look Forward To in … November 2010

Rachel McAdams may have won me over with her incredibly good looks, but she sure didn’t win me over with her 2010 movie selection.  “Morning Glory” was incredibly cliched and forgettable, and it was hardly a breath of fresh air in November like I had imagined it would be.  It was recycled air, like the gross kind on a plane.

December

“… ‘How Do You Know‘ is still unseen, but I’m getting good vibes.  Probably stupid to put it on my list [of predicted Best Picture nominees] instead of ‘Another Year,’ but I’m going gutsy.”

Oscar Moment: November Predictions

How do you know when a movie won’t get a Best Picture nomination?  When despite being directed by an Academy Award-winning filmmaker, it can’t even muster up a single Golden Globe nomination and movies like “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Tourist” can.  If my hunch back then somehow winds up being right, I think a whole lot of people will give up Oscar guessing as a hobby.





“Hereafter” Poll Results

15 11 2010

Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter” fell out of the top 10 at the box office this Sunday after spending only three weeks among Hollywood’s top earners.  With only $31 million in the bank and running out of steam quickly, what does this mean for the movie’s Oscar chances?

After the 49% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes spelled doom, the movie needed some box office support if it was going to have a clear shot at Best Picture – support that didn’t really materialize.  Before these developments came about, I asked in my Oscar Moment on “Hereafter” if we were looking at a Best Picture nominee.

The results were split right down the middle.  50% said yes, and 50% said no out of a voter yield of 4.  If I had the splitting vote, I’d probably say no given how the movie really has nothing going for it other than the fact that it’s directed by Clint Eastwood.  However, according to a report from The Odds, “Hereafter” may not be dead in the water:

“…from what I hear, Eastwood’s drama – three interlocking tales of people around the world affected by death or near-death experiences, with Cecile de France and Matt Damon – was very well-received by an AMPAS crowd that I’m told filled as much as 85 percent of the 1,000-seat Goldwyn.  One Academy member who was at the screening said the reaction to the film was ‘terrific,’ with sustained applause at the end of the film. Others concurred, but thought the attendance might have been a bit overstated.”

So we’ll just have to see what lies ahead for “Hereafter’ in the Oscar season.  It surely has an uphill battle ahead.





REVIEW: Hereafter

4 11 2010

It’s interesting to see the growth of the “hyperlink cinema” filmmaking style over the past decade.  In an age where we often feel so isolated and alone, living out just our own story, these movies that manage to intertwine multiple apparently unrelated storylines fill us with a sense that we actually are connected with everyone in the world around us.

The latest entry in this style comes from writer Peter Morgan (“Frost/Nixon”) and director Clint Eastwood, “Hereafter,” a musing on the nature of life and death in modern times.  Eastwood, who has made a name directing gritty movies, would seem to be the last person to take on such a project.  Yet at 80, his age and experience give the movie an overarching sense of peace and placidity.

In one sense, “Hereafter” is more focused than more sprawling movies like “Crash” and “Traffic,” which attempt to weave together what feels like dozens of characters in the course of two hours.  Morgan gets us well acquainted with three principal figures spread across three countries.

George Lonengan, played with composure by Matt Damon, has the ability to talk to the departed but struggles to maintain control over their intrusion into the way he lives his life.  There’s the age-old “gift vs. curse” dialectic haunting him as well, and it has forced him to resign himself to factory labor in San Francisco.

Marie, a subtly affecting Cecile de France, makes contact with the hereafter when she nearly drowns in the 2004 Indonesian tsunami.  Her experience sticks with her when she goes back to her job as a news anchor in Paris, and it’s obvious to everyone around her that she has something more than mere survivor’s guilt.  Trying to move on but unable to let go of her experience, her views of what awaits us after death lock her into a “faith vs. reason” debate that has accompanied countless discussions of heaven.

In London, a touching and hard-hitting story of mourning arises after death separates Jason and Marcus (Frankie and George McLaren), leaving the latter feeling left behind and alone.  With a mother addicted to drugs, he feels he has nowhere to turn to but the supernatural.  Whether Marcus seeks companionship or closure is left much to the audience’s imagination, but no matter what the goal is, it’s an emotional journey.

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Oscar Moment: “Hereafter”

5 10 2010

There was once a time when a Clint Eastwood movie being released meant instant Oscar attention and presumed to have nearly automatic entry into the Best Picture category.  Wait, that was just in 2008.  After picking up his second Best Picture/Best Director combo package for “Million Dollar Baby” in 2004 and nominations for “Letters from Iwo Jima” in 2006, the Academy has been cold as ice to the 80-year-old legendary filmmaker.

Is it a sort of backlash to Eastwood?  Have they simply had enough of him?  Or have his last three movies just really not been that good?

I personally don’t think he will ever win again, simply because twice is nice – and enough.  However, he can still have some horses in the race; they just aren’t in it for the win.  If Clint Eastwood directs one of the ten best movies of the year, they can’t be denied a spot simply by virtue of being directed by Eastwood.

So where does that put us with “Hereafter?”  We’ve hit the pedigree, which is kind of a toss-up as to whether it will hurt or help come awards season.  As of now, all we have to work with is critical reaction and looking at how the Academy has reacted historically to similar movies.

Eastwood’s latest directorial venture debuted last month at the Toronto Film Festival to a very polarized reaction.  Some critics seemed to really like it.  Roger Ebert went to bat in a big way for the movie:

“Clint Eastwood’s ‘Hereafter’ considers the possibility of an afterlife with tenderness, beauty and a gentle tact. I was surprised how enthralling I found it. I don’t believe in woo-woo, but there’s no woo-woo anywhere to be seen. It doesn’t even properly suppose an afterlife, but only the possibility of consciousness after apparent death … it is made with the reserve, the reluctance to take obvious emotional shortcuts, that is a hallmark of Eastwood as a filmmaker. This is the film of a man at peace. He has nothing to prove except his care for the story.”

Other critics, however, were not impressed.  Many called it the worst movie Eastwood has ever directed.  Some used words like uneven” while others just went straight to “trash.”  But according to Kris Tapley of In Contention, this may not be entirely bad.

“… even among the appreciators, Peter Morgan’s script may come together in a rather unsatisfying manner in the third act.  But words like “facile,” “cliche” and “manipulative” describe many, many former Oscar nominees and winners, so we should keep an eye on it.  To be perfectly honest, it sounds like a contender now more than ever.”

As I have said many times before, critical tastes do not determine Best Picture.  They didn’t love “The Blind Side,” and it still got in.  They didn’t lavish praise on “The Reader,” and it still got in.  While critics can shape Academy taste, they do not define it.  The Academy is not a group of critics; it is a group of filmmakers.  The fact that it has gotten a polarizing reaction thus far is not necessarily bad.  Several of last year’s Best Picture nominees had their fair share of detractors, such as “Avatar,” “Inglourious Basterds,” and even “Precious.”

And while on the subject of Academy tastes, speaking to the dead is a concept that they have readily embraced in the past.  Both “Ghost” and “The Sixth Sense” received Best Picture nominations.  But according to Dave Karger of Entertainment Weekly, “Hereafter” reminds him more of “Babel” because of the movie’s three inter-connecting storylines.  “Babel” received nominations for Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay in 2006.  I could see Eastwood’s latest taking a similar trajectory.  I’m not expecting it to win (Eastwood has already won here twice), but it would be a nice inclusion on the shortlist.

Beyond the movie itself, I think Matt Damon can also be seriously considered in the Best Actor category.  He received his first acting nomination last year for “Invictus,” a collaboration with Eastwood, and he also has a nice Oscar sitting on his mantle for writing “Good Will Hunting.”  But with Damon also being an apparent scene-stealer in the much more Academy friendly “True Grit,” Warner Bros. may choose to campaign him harder there.

He stands a better chance in Best Supporting Actor, which has yet to be formed, than in Best Actor, which many people have narrowed down to Firth, Franco, Eisenberg, Duvall, and Bridges with Wahlberg and Gosling as strong outside shots.

There’s also a chance that Peter Morgan’s original script could make it in the field since he has been nominated before.  I don’t think much else from the movie has much of a shot, even the visual effects which make a tsunami look pretty good.

To close, I want to quote the wonderful review by Sasha Stone of Awards Daily.  While she was not a huge fan of the movie, she still states that it is one of Eastwood’s best and puts it all into perspective quite nicely.

“In his later years, he is ruminating on bigger questions, like what it means to be alive, to be killed, to be loved – to die, and to mourn … ‘Hereafter’ fits in to a triptych of films that meditate on childhood and loss: Mystic River, Changeling and now, ‘Hereafter’ … it isn’t the flavor of the month, but it is quintessentially Eastwood … at 80 years old, Eastwood remains a visionary.”

Since the idea of death is something especially pertinent to someone at the end of his life like Eastwood is, perhaps the emotional impact on the voters will prompt them to show some gratitude to a man who has been an outstanding contributor to the cinematic way.

BEST BETS FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Picture

OTHER POSSIBLE NOMINATIONS: Best Director, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay





What To Look Forward To in … October 2010

18 09 2010

In less than two weeks, we are headed into October.  More quality fall entertainment, more Oscar contenders.  But really, “The Social Network” leads off the month and it’s all downhill from there.  Sorry, every other movie coming out in my month of birth.  AND PLEASE TAKE THE POLL AT THE END … I blanked and left it off for a few days, but please vote!

October 1

I’ve stated twice that I’m dying to see “The Social Network,” and I’ve predicted it twice now to win Best Picture.  I’m counting on a great movie, and I’m planning on catching the first showing after school on Friday.

“Let Me In” reminds us of a time when vampires were still scary, not sexy.  Chloe Moretz (best known as Hit Girl) plays the blood-sucking child in question in this remake of the 2008 foreign horror flick “Let the Right One In.”  I think subtitles make anything creepier, but Hollywood sees English-language versions as a way to make things more accessible.

I love the book “Freakonomics,” and I think the documentary montage without any particular focus is a perfect complement to the bestseller.  If it’s anything like the book, it will be fascinating and incredibly thought-provoking.  It’s an interesting tactic to put it on iTunes before releasing it in theaters, and I’ve been asking myself whether or not I should wait for the big screen.

And on another note, poor Renee Zellweger has dropped so low as to start doing low-brow horror like “Case 39.”  To think she won an Oscar just 7 years ago…

October 8

Ugh, “Secretariat.”  Inspirational sports movies now give me an averse reaction.  And there’s also more gross horror in 3D with “My Soul to Take.”  Way to sell your soul, Wes Craven.  With the only other wide release being a corny Josh Duhamel-Katherine Heigl romantic comedy, “Life as We Know It,” it looks like I may be seeing “The Social Network” for a second time.

On the indie side of things, I’ll be happy to see some of the offerings.  For example, I’m sure “Inside Job” will be an illuminating (and probably slanted) view of what really went down with the economic meltdown in 2008.

“Stone” looks intense, much like “Brothers” appealed to me this time last year.  With an impressive cast of Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton (Milla Jovovich to a lesser degree as well), it could be a pretty good under-the-radar movie.

Tamara Drewe” has been playing at a lot of film festivals this year to mixed/positive reviews, most of the praise going not to director Stephen Frears but to leading lady Gemma Arterton.  “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” has also been playing film festivals recently albeit to much less success.  Despite the widespread acclaim the filmmakers’ past two movies, “Half Nelson” and “Sugar,” have received, this just hasn’t caught on.  “Nowhere Boy,” the story of John Lennon, premiered at Toronto this week, but I didn’t hear anything about it.  No news is NOT good news at a festival.

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