Category Archives: michael giacchino

Oscar Thoughts and Predictions 2010

First up on the agenda is the wild number of films up for the best Picture Oscar. The Academy is rather transparent in this ploy. Open it up to some super-popular blockbusters and maybe more folks will be interested, root for their favorites and tune in. Ratings equal money, awards for accomplishments be damned – this is America after all.

No matter how many hope for their favorite ‘popular’ movie, it’s probably not going to win. That’s just not how the Academy works, thankfully. It’s how their publicity people work, but not the Academy. Yeah, Up and Avatar are in the mix, but no one’s voting for them over The Hurt Locker or Precious, trust me.

And there are important oversights this year. Most notable is Sam Rockwell with his acting tour de force in Moon. Oh yeah, I forgot, with rare exception, the Oscars are only for films that came out in the last two months of the year. Oh well, the ‘rules’ eliminated that one, but what about Anthony Mackie in The Hurt Locker? He acts the ass off Jeremy Renner who is nominated.

And I bet Julia Roberts is steaming that Sandra Bullock cleaned up this year with roles that Roberts turned down, and may even win an Oscar for one. I really hope Julia is on hand for candid reaction shots Sunday night.

Nothing for Watchmen. Wow. I’m really surprised, especially after the way the Academy kissed the butt of one of the worst superhero movies ever, The Dark Knight last year. You’d think they’d have a little something for one of the best. And speaking of genre films – where was Ponyo? Not in foreign or animated. Damn.

Well, enough rambling and bitching. Here are my picks – and let’s keep in mind, these are who I think will win, not who should win…

Best animated film – As much as I’d like to see The Princess and the Frog take it, it’s Up all the way. It’s easily one of the best films in some time. Of course, had Ponyo been here, it would have won.

Best documentary – I think the politically correct Academy will bow to the Health Nazis this year and give it to Food, Inc.

Best song – This one depends on other awards I think. If Jeff Bridges doesn’t get best actor, they’ll give it to “The Weary Kind” to make up for it. And if Up doesn’t get best animated it will take the song here, probably with “Down in New Orleans.” My bet is “New Orleans.”

Best original score – I’m a huge Michael Giacchino fan so my heart leans toward his score for Up but I also think Hans Zimmer’s Sherlock Holmes blows it away. Why wasn’t Giacchino’s Star Trek nominated? That was the best soundtrack of the year easily.

And as much as I’m tempted to pull a Bill Murray from the classic days of “Saturday Night Live,” I do think these categories matter…

Best supporting actor – This is between Christoph Waltz’ chilling Nazi in Inglourious Basterds and the ever-talented Stanley Tucci. I think the Academy will count Tarantino against Waltz and give it to Tucci. Not the way it should be, but the way it will be.

Best supporting actress – No question, if we can’t have the Nazi villain as a winner, we’ll take the evil mother. Mo’Nique is a definite here.

Best actress – I think that Gabourey Sidibe has good odds, but I also think this may be Sandra Bullock’s year.

Best actor – It’s between Jeremy Renner and Jeff Bridges, although it might go to Morgan Freeman for body of work. Renner is young and it’s about time for Bridges. My money is on Jeff Bridges.

Best picture – The Hurt Locker. It’s a hell of a film, powerful, well acted, and brilliantly shot. Kathryn Bigelow deserves it.

Best director – James Cameron, for Avatar. It’s a hard call, but he’ll get it for advancements in film and special effects. But then again, if that were actually how things worked, the Wachowski brothers are owed a few direction Oscars for Speed Racer and the Matrix trilogy. But who says these things are fair. And if I’m right on these first two awards, it should be a happy night in the Cameron/Bigelow household.

There you go, folks, place your bets. See you late Sunday night!

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Up

There’s not really a lot I can say about this one other than wow. Up isn’t my favorite movie so far this year, but it’s right ‘up’ there with Star Trek and Watchmen, and that’s just a matter of my own personal taste, not quality. Trust me, Up is easily the best movie so far this year.

My only quibble might be that it’s not as family or kid-friendly as it might seem from the commercials and previews. There is much much more to this tale than an old man in a flying house lifted by balloons. It’s high adventure, it’s great fun – and it has its dark moments. For every Skunk and Flower there has to be the hunter that kills Bambi’s mom. Up has its share. This is not a bad thing, but it should serve as a heads ‘up’ to parents and others too sensitive or politically correct. Me, I thought the film was wonderful.

There is an amazing and heart-wrenching and nearly wordless sequence early on detailing the life of the main character and his wife that I believe is some of the best cinematic storytelling ever, period, on a par with what Orson Welles did in the 1940s or Steven Spielberg in the 1970s. It’s beautiful. This is not just any summer film, folks. And the score is by Michael Giacchino, quickly becoming my favorite all-time composer. Highly recommended.

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Star Trek – The New Frontier

Star Trek ~ There are numerous reasons why a major entertainment franchise would be rebooted. Perhaps it’s been forgotten a generation ago. Maybe the last film in the series did comparatively horrible at the box office to previous entries. Perhaps the last television attempt was on a flailing network and was badly promoted – and in some cases dissed by supposed fans of the franchise. For Star Trek, coming up on its 43rd anniversary, can count all of those reasons and more for its current reboot in theatres in just a week or so.

The powers that be have brought in J.J. Abrams, of “Alias,” “Lost” and Cloverfield to helm this eleven Trek film, with an all-new cast in a prequel/sequel/reimagining/reboot (yes, it is all of those things) to the original TV series. Trailers have brought nothing but controversy for Trek fans and interest in viewers with no Trek in their past. Surely, this flick will be a rite of passage.

Before I go any further, be warned that this is a spoiler-rich review. I saw the film nearly two weeks ago and have been trying to write a spoilerless review. It’s just not possible to do, and address the things I want to address – so if you continue reading, consider yourself warned.

The flick begins with a bang, and the rollercoaster hardly stops from there on, which is a marked difference from Trek. The Treks before this have seemed pretentiously talky, so much so that is considered to be the way it should be – a point made by Trekkies when they haven’t liked films with ‘too much action,’ like Nemesis, the last movie in the series that may have helped kill the franchise. And that’s a point I’d like to bring up to the hardcore ‘fans’ out there – Paramount did not nearly kill the franchise – you did by not supporting it. I think this is the main reason this new film was made for the mainstream younger audience -and not those hardcore fans- to save the franchise.

And that’s not to say that this new film is not for the fans. The writers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, have taken great care to keep continuity and canon high on their priority list – despite the time travel alternate divergence mindgames that go on. They not only play by the rules, but they also get to play by theirs as well. There are moments, little nods, like the red shirt phenomenon, Admiral Archer’s beagle, Kirk eating an apple during the Kobayashi Maru, Sulu’s fencing, McCoy’s signature catchphrases, and the timelost old Spock doing to young Scotty what the timelost old Scotty himself does to a young 20th century engineer in The Voyage Home, that are just brilliant. And although they are brief, I love the scenes of Kirk and Spock as boys. Beautiful, just beautiful.

The cast is near perfect. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, but twenty minutes into the flick I had forgotten about the original cast and was seeing the new faces as the characters. Chris Pine plays William Shatner as Kirk (rather than just William Shatner, which probably would have been disastrous) just as Zachary Quinto does Nimoy as Spock. Each though brings their own flavor to the part – a bit of James Dean for young Kirk and an alien outsider vibe to young Spock. Karl Urban is the perfect McCoy. That particular bit of inspired casting is a gift from God. I may have to wonder if DeForrest Kelley is his father, it’s so close.

The rest of the cast is rounded out well with the always entertaining Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho doing a wonderful intimidating impression of George Takei doing Sulu in the original series, as opposed to Takei’s more satiric take of recent years thanks to his coming out and participation with the Howard Stern programs, and the highlight of the cast has got to be Zoe Saldana as Uhura – finally claiming the spotlight the character should have had decades ago. Zoe is an actress to watch for the future.

Conversely, Anton Yelchin who plays Chekov, is quite annoying, and one of the lowlights of the film. I have to wonder however if this is on purpose. If memory serves when the Beatle-esque character first appeared in the second season of the original series many fans hated him just as they did that other ratings bump Seven-of-Nine decades later in “Voyager.” Maybe we’re supposed to hate him?

It should be noted that it’s not all wine and roses though. Along with Chekov there were other elements that didn’t win me over. Star Wars is alive an well in the film. Things like the great Tatooine-ish bar scene and fight in which Uhura is introduced and Kirk looking at the Academy training center shaped like a starship work well, but it goes too far in the Hoth scene with Cloverfield’s cousin – thankfully it’s a brief departure. I also didn’t care much for Kirk’s allergy, but again, very brief. I’m torn by the slug scene. is it a rip-off or an homage to the similar scene in Wrath of Khan?

The special effects are great. I like the new warp effect but no so keen on the new transporter effect. The music is amazing. Much like the powerful score of Tyler Bates in Watchmen, the music of Michael Giacchino more than makes this movie as great as it is. He dabbles in Philip Glass, brings on the Akira Ifukube, and even retunes a bit of the original Alexander Courage. I can’t say enough about this score, other than I bought it, and for a soundtrack for me, that’s saying a lot.

All that said, I think this new Star Trek will not only reignite the franchise, but will be the first summer blockbuster of the year, if not the summer blockbuster of the year. It’s fresh, it’s accessible, and it’s exciting. And Trekkies will hate it.

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Godzilla Meets Blair Witch


It’s 1-18-08, and Cloverfield is finally here, and my initial impression is ‘Godzilla meets Blair Witch,’ and that’s a good thing. The flick combines the best elements of each concept.

The beauty of this film was really before it even opened. The ability to keep a secret -the image of the monster, as well as the plot- such big secrets in this internet age, especially when much of the hype was generated via the internet (mostly through an ARG), is a frigging miracle.

First off, dispelling rumors that have at this point been long dispelled, at least by folks who are online. It’s not Godzilla. Like I’ve been telling everyone who’s asked, their resident G-fan, it’s not Godzilla. It’s just not. Toho has the meanest and most litigious lawyers on the planet and there’s no way they’re letting Americans near their baby any time soon.

It’s also not Cthulhu, even though most of the Lovecraftian mythos is in the public domain, and as much as I’d like to see some of those wonderful dark creatures onscreen using some CGI – it’s just not. Although, based on the hype, maybe J.J. Abrams could be convinced to do so in the future.

And thank god it’s not Godzilla, because then I can let my radar down, and not worry about what has been changed or trashed regarding one of my favorite properties. Even though it’s not Godzilla, I’m still a hardcore kaiju eiga fan so I had to see this. Been waiting on this bad boy for months, and I was not disappointed.

The film revolves around a giant monster attack on New York City and rather than take the traditional path, the tale is told using a portable hand-held camcorder in the midst of the destruction. This gives a traumatic and horrific, up close and personal edge to the events. And of course will probably be responsible for multiple cases of motion sickness in theatres on a worldwide scale, but no worries, I predict folks will be so engaged by the flick they won’t notice.

The characters are pretty simple cookie cutter fare and a subtle but simple love story lies beneath the action as Rob has to rescue Beth from monster central. Over and above that I have to pick T.J. Miller as Hud, the voice behind the camera for most of the movie, and his unrequited crush Marlena, played by Lizzy Caplan as the clear breakout stars here. The real humor, beauty and pizazz of the flick lie with them, and the monster of course.

I loved this movie, and was so glad that a film with such hype actually turned out to be worth it. Get to the theatre early for the Star Trek teaser (also by Abrams) and stay ’til the end credits to hear the luscious Akira Ifukube-inspired score by Michael Giacchino.

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