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Oscars 2010

Posted by: Matthew Turner 08/03/2010 @ 16:06
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 71
Films seen this week: Motherland, Teen Patti, 24 City, Leaving, The Joneses, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Eyes Wide Open, How to Train Your Dragon, Fantastic Mr Fox (again), War, Inc.

Oscars and Razzies: The Results
So another awards season draws to a close, with what turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable Oscars with only one or two major fuck-ups (such as leaving Farrah Fawcett and Lionel Jeffries out of the Montage of the Dead and inexplicably failing to show clips for Best Cinematography when they'd shown clips for literally everything else). The Oscars in 2010 did indeed go the way they had been widely predicted to go (Bridges, Bullock, Waltz, Mo'Nique all duly collected their awards), although with Avatar and The Hurt Locker seemingly neck and neck for most of the night, there was a genuine sense of tension as it approached Best Director and Best Picture. In the end, Avatar had to console itself with technical awards (and a shedload of money), while The Hurt Locker made history by making Kathryn Bigelow the first ever female Best Director winner. As a side note, it was also a thrill to see My Good Friend Brian Geraghty joyously leaping around on stage in the background when The Hurt Locker won Best Picture.

Other than that, the ceremony was a lot of fun – Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin made a brilliant presenting team and delivered some terrific gags (“People who work with Meryl Streep all say the same thing: 'Boy can she act, and what's with all the Nazi memorabilia?'”), Ben Stiller introduced Best Make-Up dressed as a Na'avi, Martin and Baldwin did a very silly pre-filmed Paranormal Activity skit and even the excruciating tribute introductions for all the actors weren't as awkward as last year. There was also a fabulous John Hughes tribute that I recommend you go looking for on YouTube, particularly if you're a fan of The Breakfast Club. Of course, the other news of the weekend was the Razzies and Sandra Bullock gamely turned up to collect Worst Actress for All About Steve, delivering a very funny speech and becoming the first woman to win Best Actress and Worst Actress in the same weekend. On top of that, Transformers 2 was voted Worst Film, which proves that the Razzies are at least paying attention, though, as Bullock pointed out, the fact that they voted her and Bradley Cooper Worst Screen Couple sort of suggests that they didn't really watch the movie.

Films I'm Looking Forward To: Salt
This is yet another film I wasn't remotely aware of before last week, but at least I actually saw this trailer in a proper cinema, as I was waiting to see the excellent Exit Through the Gift Shop. (I also had to put my hands over my ears and go 'La la la la la' when the trailer for The Ghost came on, but that's another story). This looks like an enjoyable piece of nonsense with Angelina Jolie back in kick-ass action mode after Wanted. She plays Evelyn Salt, an FBI Agent who turns, unbeknownst to her, turns out to be a sleeper assassin and a Russian spy. Or does she? I'm a sucker for the old activated sleeper agent set-up and the hook at the beginning is really good. The film also co-stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Liev Schreiber, while director Phillip Noyce knows his way around an action sequence, so this could be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it, anyway. Opens here August 20th.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Only two new entries this week with both Neil Jordan's is-she-isn't-she mermaid drama Ondine (featuring a wonderful performance from Colin Farrell) and Banksy's brilliantly directed Exit Through the Gift Shop, which is part proper documentary and part elaborate hoax. Both films are well worth seeking out. I'm not actually sure whether Youth In Revolt is still in cinemas but I'm leaving it on the list because hardly anyone seems to have seen it and I feel it deserves more love. (Also, read the book). Elsewhere, we have interviews from the gigantic Alice in Wonderland clustercuss (to borrow an excellent joke from The Film School Rejects, including Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Burton and Anne Hathaway.

1. A Prophet
2. Ondine
3. Exit Through the Gift Shop
4. Crazy Heart
5. MicMacs
6. Ponyo
7. Up in the Air
8. The Princess and the Frog
9. Youth In Revolt
10. A Single Man

DVD of the Week: War, Inc. (out now, RRP £15.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is War, Inc., a political satire directed by Joshua Seftel and co-written-slash-co-produced by John Cusack. Set in a not-too-distant future, in which war has been outsourced to big business, John Cusack plays hitman Brand Hauser, who has to pose as a Trade Show Producer in Turaqistan in order to pull off his latest hit. As part of the job he also has to manage the wedding of an outrageous Middle Eastern popstar (Hilary Duff) and keep a sexy left wing reporter (Marisa Tomei) from getting too close. Dedicated readers of this blog (both of you) will remember that I featured the trailer for the film a while back and said that it looked a lot like an unofficial sequel to Grosse Pointe Blank. Well, that's just about true, if you squint a bit, in that John Cusack again plays a hitman (although not the same character), Joan Cusack again plays his assistant (although not nearly as well) and there's also a superb cameo from Dan Aykroyd as a Dick Cheney-like figure.

Unfortunately, the film's not quite as much fun as it sounds – it scores a lot of political points and there are some delightfully absurd moments (Hilary Duff dropping a scorpion down her pants, an enjoyably bonkers climax) as well as a couple of excellent fight scenes but the dialogue is disappointing and it's unforgivably slow for the first hour or so. That said, Cusack and Tomei make a good screen couple and the film has a performance from Hilary Duff that's either brilliant or terrible, depending on how much of a Hilary Duff fan you are. (Her spoof songs are good too). Extras include a 12 minute Behind the Scenes featurette.

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