Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Winners 83rd Academy Awards

It's Oscar Night once again and Hollywood is concentrated on the intersection of Highland Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard.  I am excitedly awaiting the results of this years hotly contested awards ceremony since this year's nominees represent some of the best new filmmakers and actors of this new generation (almost half of the acting nominees are younger than 40 years old).

Price Waterhouse Coopers with the results

Anne Hathaway and James Franco Hosting the event

I made my own predictions for this years race on the blog entry below: Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Cinematography, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor (and Supporting Actor) and Best Actress (and Supporting Actress).

Here are the actual Winners:

Best Picture - "The King's Speech" (I was in different continent altogether:))
Best Director - Tom Hooper for "The King's Speech" (missed that by a mile)
Best Cinematographer - Wally Pfister for "Inception" (on the money)
Best Original Screenplay - David Seidler for "The King's Speech" (on the money)
Best Actor - Colin Firth for "The King's Speech" (on the money... slam dunk!)
Best Actress - Natalie Portman for "Black Swan" (on the money... yeah baby!)
Best Supporting Actor - Christian Bale for "The Fighter" (on the money)
Best Supporting Actress - Melissa Leo for "The Fighter"

Here are the winners from the other notable categories:

Lifetime Achievement Awards - Eli Wallach, Jean-Luc Goddard, Kevin Brownstow and Francis Ford Coppola (yeah Jean-Luc, Francis and Eli... I am a great fan)
Best Art Direction - "Alice in Wonderland"
Best Editing - "The Social Network"
Best Animated Feature - "Toy Story 3"
Best Adapted Screenplay - "The Social Network"
Best Foreign Language Film - "In A Better World"
Best Visual Effects - "Inception" (on the money)
Best Original Score - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for "The Social Network" (yeah Trent!)
Best Sound Mix - "Inception"
Best Sound Editing - "Inception"
Best Costume Design - Collen Atwood for "Alice in Wonderland"
Best Documentary - "Inside Job"

All in all, my picks were on the money... I missed out on three out of nine, 1/3 -- not bad. I guess I just have a totally different perspective on what a good movie is.  I definitely think that "Black Swan" and "127 Hours" are both better movies than "The King's Speech" from an artistic perspective and that Darren Aronofsky or Chris Nolan should have won for Directing because directing is also about "vision." Oh well, at least I got my radar straight when it comes to the technical aspects of Acting, Cinematography, Writing and Visual Effects!

It's party time, Hollywood.

--Pictures from Reuters and AP.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Oscar Picks

Although I watch the Academy Awards almost every year, I am ecstatic about this year's race because the films competing against each other are extraordinarily good.  Almost all of the movies nominated for "Best Picture" are what most people would consider "Art House Films" -- my preferred genre.

This year's line-up also represents some of my favorite directors in contemporary cinema -- Darren Aronofsky, David Fincher, the Coen Brothers, Danny Boyle, David O. Russell and Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu.  These talented filmmakers are some of the best and brightest of this new generation.

I thought it might be fun to predict the winners four days prior to the actual event to see whether or not I am even close to the Hollywood consensus.

Best Picture:  Black Swan

In my opinion, "Black Swan" and "127 Hours" should tie for Best Picture.  But there can only be one "Best."

I fell in love with both movies for opposite reasons.  I thought "Black Swan" was brilliant because it is complex and abstract in the best tradition of Antonioni.  "127 Hours" was fantastic because it is unbelievably simple and direct, yet flawlessly executed by Danny Boyle.

I picked "Black Swan" over "127 Hours" because I desperately believe that Darren Aronofsky needs to win for this film.  Not only did he masterfully direct his actors (specially Natalie Portman) in each of their challenging roles, he also managed to create a compeling film about Ballet... an achievement in itself!

But in the end, I have a very strong feeling that "Inception" will win.

Darren Aronofsky with Natalie Portman on the set

Best Director:  Darren Aronofsky

I think that Darren finally deserves to win the trophy for Directing.  Don't you?  We better hand him one quick... he just agreed to direct "Wolverine."  If he does not get an Oscar for this movie, he might just keep doing commercially viable films from now on.  Remember the brilliance of Francis Ford Coppola before "Peggy Sue Got Married?"  Enough said.

But I have a strong feeling that this Oscar will end up with Chris Nolan.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Douglas Kirkland Receives ASC Presidents Award

Douglas and I

Tonight, for the first time in the history of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), it is honoring a "Still Photographer" for his contribution to the art of cinema -- the great Douglas Kirkland.

I am thrilled about the award because I have been a Kirkland fan eversince I was a teenager (imagining all those photo sessions with beautiful actresses and models), also because I am both a photographer and a cinematographer at the same time.

Douglas is a photographer's photographer.  He has an impeccable eye, a great imagination, exquisite craftsmanship and unflappable professionalism. In a career spanning almost 60 years, he has worked on more than 160 movies and has photographed countless celebrities and world leaders. Douglas' portfolio is a virtual "who's who" of cinema, media and world affairs in the last half century. The question to ask is "not who he has photographed" but "who he hasn't."

If I was asked to name just one photographer that inspires me and influences my work directly, I would name Doug Kirkland. He is a portrait photographer first and formost, because he genuinely loves people and it shows through in his work. This (I believe) is one of the most important secrets to his success.  

Douglas and Francoise

The other important secret to success is his wife of 43 years, Francoise.  I have seldom seen a relationship and partnership as tight as their marriage. Francoise is always supporting and assisting him in all he does.  They really know the essence of "sharing a life together." I am lucky to be similarly blessed with my wife Anne, and I certainly would not be able to do what I am doing or eventually get where I want to go, without her help and support.

Congratulations to you both! You both deserve this prestigious honor and may you have many more successes to celebrate in the years to come.

--photos courtesy of Life Magazine.