Monday, February 28, 2011

Academy Award Winners

It was a big "spread the wealth" kind of night at the Academy Awards as no one film dominated with The King's Speech and Inception getting the most wins with four a piece. It was also a largely predictable night as most of the expected winners won. The biggest upset might be Tom Hooper's win over David Fincher for Best Director though if you want to sound hip, make sure to let everyone you know how upset you were over the loss of Banksy and his documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop.

The winners are as follows:

Best Picture: The King's Speech
Best Director: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Best Lead Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Best Lead Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Best Original Screenplay: The King's Speech
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Best Foreign Language Film: In A Better World, Denmark
Best Original Score: The Social Network
Best Original Song: We Belong Together, Toy Story 3
Best Editing: The Social Network
Best Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland
Best Cinematography: Inception
Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
Best Makeup: The Wolfman
Best Documentary: Inside Job
Best Documentary Short: Strangers No More
Best Animated Short: The Lost Thing
Best Live Action Short: God of Love
Best Sound Editing: Inception
Best Sound Mixing: Inception
Best Visual Effects: Inception

4 - The King's Speech, Inception
3 - The Social Network
2 - The Fighter, Toy Story 3, Alice in Wonderland
1 - Black Swan, In A Better World, Inside Job, The Wolfman, Strangers No More, The Lost Thing, God of Love

Again, the night belonged to The King's Speech winning Picture, Director, Actor, and Original Screenplay. Inception got the same amount of wins, but all of them were technical awards. The Social Network walked home with Adapted Screenplay, Editing, and Score. The latter meant that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are now Oscar winners! As expected, Colin Firth and Natalie Portman won the lead acting prizes while The Fighter's Christian Bale and Melissa Leo took home supporting.

The show itself had many great and fun moments, such as Kirk Douglas' impromptu teasing of the supporting actress nominees or the great opening--both the Best Picture montage and the Hathaway-Franco skits--but for the most part it all seemed a bit messy. Most of it had to do with the way the show was structured with the flow not feeling natural. A lot of presenters also went off-the-script which had varying degrees of success. As for the young hosts, Anne Hathaway showed great energy and enthusiasm which helped carry the show especially with her co-host James Franco looking exhausted/stoned and often missing cues.

My predictions didn't really pan out this year as I only did 15/24 (62.5%) which was worse than last year. I particularly was unsuccessful with the three shorts categories, but since I only saw 1 out of the 15 films nominated, I guess I shouldn't be too shocked. Until next year!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Final Thoughts Before the Oscars

In approximately ten hours, awards season will come to a close with the announcement of the Best Picture of the year from the Academy Awards. Before that happens, I just want to take a look back and see what has happened to get us to this point.

When The Social Network won the National Board of Review, one couldn't have imagined that it would then dominate awards season all the way through the Golden Globes. The amazing thing about its romp was David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin, director and writer respectively, also getting the majority of prizes and accolades. For a short while, it became THE front-runner, THE film to beat, THE film to tap into the zeitgeist. Everyone and everyone was talking about this film.

But then the industry and the guilds spoke up and they halted the historic sweep Network was making by giving the British film The King's Speech some love. And what love did they give it as the film notched major guild wins for its producer, director, and ensemble. Effectively stealing the crown from The Social Network as the front-runner for Oscar glory, the film also received the most Oscar nominations with 12 over Network's 8. The question still seemingly being asked by many then was What the hell happened? Many weighed in. The Social Network is too cold, its main character is unlikable, it was winning too much. The King's Speech is the safer choice, the type of movie the industry usually embraces, the Weinsteins are back, everyone's an Anglophile. We'll probably never get down to the real reason The King's Speech was able to win over the industry over The Social Network, but it is worth noting that audiences really went for it as well tallying up over $114 million in the box office and counting. And just for extra measure, it also expectantly swept at the BAFTAs.

The King's Speech-Social Network melee this awards season made it difficult for other films to get noticed. With that said, almost everyone had an easy time predicting the eventual ten Best Picture nominees as the same 11 or so films kept popping up everywhere this awards season and unlike last year or even in previous years with just five nominees, there were no stinkers in the bunch in terms of industry support and critical love. In fact the lowest-rated Best Picture nominee on Rotten Tomatoes got a score of 89, which is just astounding.

Toy Story 3 was the highest-grossing film of the year as well as the first animated film to hit $1 billion worldwide. It's no surprise that Pixar, with its 11th film, has a stranglehold once again at Best Animated Feature. Amidst a sea of sequels, remakes, and animated film that dominated the top of the box office this year, Inception was the original film that really caught the public's eye garnering nearly $300 million for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight follow-up. Nolan's snub as director though was met with lots of fury on the blogosphere, but he didn't walk away this awards season empty-handed as his expository and mind-bending screenplay took home a WGA prize. The real box office success stories this year, however, went to True Grit and Black Swan which, to date, have made over $167 million and $103 million respectively giving its directors their highest grossing films by a wide margin. The fact that a Coen-Brother Western and an Aronofsky ballet thriller mindfuck could get that much money was not at all predicted. The latter also dominated at this year's Spirit Awards.

The acting categories seemed to have a bit of drama and suspense this year even though there are clear favorites in each category if you looked at who has won what this awards season. Colin Firth is probably the one person who has the least to worry about since his biggest competitions, Jesse Eisenberg and James Franco, are both young and probably splitting votes. Plus his loss to fellow nominee Jeff Bridges last year only supports his win this year. Natalie Portman has also dominated this season the same way Firth has, probably even more so, especially in light of her recent engagement and pregnancy news. And yet, like last year's Bullock-Streep, many are still hoping the veteran actress, this time Annette Bening, can pull out a win.

The supporting categories are a bit more tumultuous. Even though The Fighter's Christian Bale and Melissa Leo are expected to knockdown the competition, both have The King's Speech beloved actors Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter on their heels and if the latter duo's film sweep, it can happen. It's even more precarious for Leo since she's also competing with co-star Amy Adams and breakthrough actress Hailee Steinfeld, who is probably her biggest competition. All of this and the fact that neither Bale nor Leo are exactly beloved in the industry has many thinking the Academy might go another way.

Speaking of actors, though, the Academy biggest move this year, to keep the ceremony fresh and perhaps to court younger viewers, was to pick James Franco and Anne Hathaway to host. It's hard to guess what these two will bring to the ceremony, but I find myself really looking forward to the whole thing. I've loved the various commercials of them training and prepping for the big night. At the very least, they will instill a lot of energy, as these two are nothing less than workhorses.

This year I had a very difficult time predicting the below-the-line categories since they could all easily go to The King's Speech if a sweep-year happens or to Inception if they go for the big-budget film or to a bunch of different films if they actually take the time to think about how they are voting. I do want to give a quick shout-out to Banksy and his wonderful documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop for bringing some much-needed levity this season. I'm crossing all of my fingers for the film to film and/or for Banksy to "crash" the Oscars in any way he could.

Finally, I just want to say that despite all the craziness that ALWAYS happens during awards season, I think it was generally a good year. I think it was easier for me to take a more distant outlook than in recent years because my top two films got a total of 1 nomination (compare that to the tally of nominations/wins of my recent top films such as District 9, Slumdog Millionaire, and Atonement). I'm still smarting over the Ryan Gosling snub as well as the lack of love for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World in the technical categories, but it just goes to show you, the Academy can't tell you which film you're going to fall in love with. Take that to heart and see you next year!

Related links:
Click here to see my official predictions.
Click here to see my own personal ballot.
Click here to see my initial thoughts on the Oscar nominations.
Click here to see all my posts on "Awards Season."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Spirit Awards Winners

The Spirit Awards is one of the last awards ceremony before the big kahuna that is the Academy Awards which takes place tomorrow. To see the entire list of nominees, click here.

As for the winners, they are as follows:

Best Feature: Black Swan
Best Director: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Best Actor: James Franco, 127 Hours
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Supporting Actor: John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
Best Supporting Actress: Dale Dickey, Winter’s Bone
Best Screenplay: The Kids Are All Right
Best First Feature: Get Low
Best First Screenplay: Tiny Furniture
Best Foreign Film: The King’s Speech
Best Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop
Best Cinematography: Black Swan
John Cassavetes Award: Daddy Longlegs
Robert Altman Award: Please Give
Piaget Producers Award: Anish Savjani, Meek’s Cutoff
Someone to Watch Award: Mike Ott, Littlerock
Truer Than Fiction Award: Jeff Malmberg, Marwencol

Sweeping all four of the awards it was nominated for, Oscar Best Picture nominee Black Swan was the night's biggest winner. It was a well-deserved note of recognition for a film which had been mostly overshadowed by Oscar front-runners The King's Speech and The Social Network as well as by more populist films such as Inception, Toy Story 3, and True Grit throughout awards season. Natalie Portman continued her dominant run even with the added pressure of having every single fellow Best Actress Oscar nominees on the ballot with her.

Despite leading with 7 nominations, Winter's Bone only managed two wins, both for its worthy supporting players Dale Dickey and Oscar nominee John Hawkes. The night was actually full of Oscar nominees winning such as James Franco for Actor, The Kids Are All Right for Screenplay, Exit Through the Gift Shop for Documentary, and even The King's Speech for Foreign Film. The first two winners benefited from the absence of awards season juggernauts Colin Firth and Aaron Sorkin.

In terms of the Academy Awards, expect only Portman to repeat her award victory here though don't be surprised to see increasingly popular pick Exit Through the Gift Shop to "surprise" in the seemingly 5-way race for Documentary.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wednesday TV Report: Love Hurts

As per usual, only have two shows on Wednesday and they're only half-hour sitcoms. These two episodes could've very well been aired during Valentine's Day with the focus on relationships, new and old.

Modern Family - I actually found this episode really well-paced and structured and of course laugh-out-loud funny, so you know, par for the course. There were lots of things happening the episode--Claire/Phil's fight and Phil not knowing what it as about, Claire's orgasmic tendencies when getting massaged at the mall, Gloria's tone-deaf karaoke singing, Cam-Luke party planning duo, Haley pretending to work and Alex trying to catch her. Everything was just delightful.

Mr. Sunshine - This show still needs A LOT of work, but it's the first episode where I actually found more than half of it funny. I'm talking about the insane double date story line which really was hilarious thanks to Matthew Perry's crazy assistant and equally crazy sister. But then there's everything else and... no. Just no. I miss Cougar Town a lot.

Speaking of Cougar Town, have you been checking out the hilarious web videos up on Vulture featuring the cast and crew? If not, click here for the first and here for the second.

Oscars 2011 Highlights In Advance!

Stole this from Nathaniel, but just found the whole thing really hilarious not to put on my own blog. It pretty much skewers, though not in any real malicious or mean way, the Academy Awards and this year's nominees.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday TV Report: Drunken Glee, Tense V, & America Debuts

Some drunken fun, a little bit of war maneuvering, and yes, even Jesus. Just your normal Tuesday night of TV...

- While the episode at times was a little too PSA regarding the whole underage drinking thing, which in its defense couldn't really be helped on a teen show such as this, I actually liked it as a whole. It was great seeing the cast away from the school and this includes Shuester and Beiste's fun night at the local honky tonk bar. And can I just say how much I've loving the addition Dot Marie Jones this year and her character's friendship with Will? The kids had a party at Rachel's house complete with Blaine who went sans his Dalton uniform and hair gel to great results. His rendition of "Don't You Want Me" with Rachel was my favorite performance of the night, though props to Heather Morris who broke it down as "Ke Dollar Sign Ha" near the end. We even got a Kurt/Burt moment and I appreciate how their scene didn't fall into melodrama as previous times. Not really invested on the Will/Emma relationship, but then again I hardly care about Will/anything really.

V - One of the things I love that they've been doing this season is showing us how Tyler and Lisa are on diverging paths. He's becoming a bit colder, wanting to distance himself from his emotions while she's slowly but surely embracing hers. Metaphorically, he's basically turning into a V while she's turning more human. I just find it really fascinating. It was also great to see the Fifth Column actually get its shit together after the massacre from last episode, but maybe I'm a little biased since Elizabeth Mitchell being a BAMF is kind of a given for me. Learning more about the V's plans was also nice and needed so the audience didn't feel as if they've been strung along, so great plot movement on that. But I'm looking forward to the day Joshua actually regains his memory again. Not liking him act as Anna's spy.

The Good Wife - No development on Will/Alicia this week after last week's frustrating "resolution," but this cast is so deep, it was okay that they weren't the focus again. Loved seeing Alan Cumming and America Ferrera together and though they are certainly an odd pair, I was left wanting more. Also great seeing Diane let loose a little bit in this episode with her on-and-off, but passionate relationship with McVeigh. There was also a bit of a tease regarding Kalinda's husband as "someone" kept calling her. Oh and there was a random storyline about Grace being all into Jesus now. It looks like the whole Derrick storyline is going to come to a head next week and all I can say is FINALLY.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Oscar Predictions

The ballots were due today and tabulating those votes either already began or will happen in full force tomorrow. Either way, determining who will take the big prizes just got that much closer.

Many people are probably tired of the race, but I think this year it's actually been quite a nail-biter. There's still not a consensus on what will happen with Picture/Director and those supporting acting categories aren't as locked as more recent years. Then you have the technical categories which seem to diverge in many directions and, well, next thing you know there's actually some genuine suspense leading up to the ceremony.

I've already posted my own personal ballot i.e. who I want to win. So now I'd like to offer up my predictions. For reference, I went 16/24 (67%) last year despite it being dubbed as a "predictable year" so take the following predictions with a grain of salt. You'll also see why after you look at my tally of wins below.

Best Picture: The King's Speech
Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Lead Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Best Lead Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Best Original Screenplay: Inception
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Best Foreign Language Film: In A Better World, Denmark
Best Original Score: The King's Speech
Best Original Song: We Belong Together, Toy Story 3
Best Editing: The Social Network
Best Art Direction: Inception
Best Cinematography: True Grit
Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
Best Makeup: The Wolfman
Best Documentary: Inside Job
Best Documentary Short: Poster Girl
Best Animated Short: Day & Night
Best Live Action Short: Wish 143
Best Sound Editing: Inception
Best Sound Mixing: Inception
Best Visual Effects: Inception

Tally: 5 - Inception; 3 - The King's Speech, The Social Network; 2- True Grit, Toy Story 3; 1 - Black Swan, The Fighter, In A Better World, Alice in Wonderland, The Wolfman, Inside Job, Poster Girl, Day & Night, Wish 143

My predicted tally of wins look incredibly messed up. Do I really think Inception will win the most trophies that night? Will The Social Network really only win three Oscars especially considering how big those wins would be? Could The King's Speech really win Picture, but only get a total of 3 measly wins? My gut is saying NO NO NO to all of these questions and yet... I'm predicting it. Que sera.

Monday TV Report: Good Mother, Bad Love, & Thrilling Castle

Doing a catch-up TV Report post for the past few weeks have been draining in terms of memory so I'm kicking myself into doing these daily again. First up, Monday!

How I Met Your Mother - Opening the episode into the future probably elevated my expectations for the episode, so I was a bit letdown that it wasn't as epic as I imagined. One of the things I've been loving this season though is the Marshall/Lily story line of trying to get a baby especially now in light of Marshall's father's death and Marshall's identity crisis at work. Great work for Jason Segel this whole season and this couple really has been the MVP this season. I'm not disliking this whole Robin/Barney/Nora deal and at least I find it way more interesting than the Ted/Zoey/The Captain triangle, but what is the point of this? It's clear Robin and Barney still have feelings for each other, but how casual and relaxed they've both been in regards to Barney crushing on Nora is unsettling. There's got to be more on this. Finally, was this episode done to write off Wendy the Waitress as she finds her true love? If so, that's sad. I already miss Marshall's law school buddy as he's now a perpetually shirtless werewolf in True Blood.

Mad Love
- Well, it was better than the dreadful pilot, but it still wasn't good. I'm not really feeling the chemistry between Clarke and Biggs' characters and don't get me started on the "sidekicks" played by Greer and Labine. Even though I find them slightly more interesting than the two leads, their contentious relationship and interactions feel absolutely forced, but I could've handwaved that if their various clashes were entertaining, but they are not. One moment I smiled was when I saw Martin Starr from the dearly departed Freaks and Geeks and Party Down play a creepy neighbor. Also you know my interest is down when I don't even bother to learn character names. Eek.

Greek - Lots of developments that brings a bunch of things back to status quo as the show revs up for its last few episodes. The whole subplot of Dale pledging Omega Chi has thankfully come to an end with the usual friendships still intact while it looks like Ashley's relationship with the professor has a definite expiration date. All of this and Evan is back to being an immense douchebag. It is interesting that the writers are yet again dipping into this well AT THE SAME TIME as they are hinting at Evan/Casey. Was there no other direction they could've given the character or did they need this contrivance to make the Casey/Cappie endgame sweeter? It's unsettling especially since we also get scenes where Evan expresses how much he misses/loves Rebecca and it's all just weird. Finally, if Omega Chi/Gamma Psi/Dale weren't responsible for Kappa Tau's problems, WHO IS IT? Could it be the person who appeared in the promos? Don't think so, but if not then that raises more questions, doesn't it?

Castle - I only remembered that this was going to be a special two-part episode when Castle and Beckett went to the warehouse and they were exposed to radioactive materials. The scene with them in quarantine was exquisitely done and the scenes AFTER that from Castle sending his mom/daughter out of harm's way to Adrian Pasdar's rough interrogation of the mother in front of Beckett were even more affective. I really have been loving the most recent episodes delving more into Castle as a real person and I think at this point of the show's run, it's necessary. Plus I also think Castle is really good with these 2-episode events. And, I almost forgot, Serenity shout-out for the win!

Any TV last night for you?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Amazing Race 18: Unfinished Business

Subtitled "Unfinished Business," my favorite reality TV show is back and this year its cast are teams from recent seasons who, for one reason or another, just didn't quite win. It's actually a bit refreshing already knowing all of the teams making it easier for me to know who to root for or against.

The premiere was full of twists and turns from the get-go as the teams had to find something for Phil before he could give them their very first clue. The last team got an automatic U-Turn penalty, but those who got the clue first were unlucky to get the plane that got detoured due to a medical emergency. Once they all landed in their first destination (Sydney, Australia), they had to swim with sharks, solve a nautical puzzle, and ride a skiff. Seemed many people had trouble with the puzzle and most resorted to forming alliances and/or outright cheating. Unfortunately, one team was still hard at work with it while the others checked-in with Phil. Fortunately for them, the leg wasn't over as Phil sent the rest of the teams on their way.

Now my quick thoughts/impressions on the 11 teams from this season in the order of their check-in:

Gary & Mallory (Father/Daughter) - They came from the most recent season and my love for them hasn't faded. They're adorable together and with this strong first showing, they mean business.

Amanda & Kris (Engaged) - They're one of two teams that I barely have any recollections of. Pretty sure I didn't like them, but they weren't even memorably evil or anything. I'm personally hoping their U-Turn trips them up early.

Kisha & Jen (Sisters) - I think I was a bit neutral to them. I think personality-wise I liked them, but they ran such an uninspired race. Let's see if they can improve.

Zev & Justin (Best Friends) - Zev's Asperger's and their genial relationship made them fan-favorites and I'm one of them. They were eliminated their season due to a lost passport. I expect big things from this team.

Flight Time & Big Easy (Harlem Globetrotters) - Personality-wise, they are a hoot and a half and should bring lots of fun this season, but they're not one of the teams I'm rooting for (or against!).

Jaime & Cara (NFL Cheerleaders) - Didn't like them last time they raced and I liked them less now if that's even possible. Can't believe they were asked back.

Margie & Luke (Mother/Son) - I dreaded the inevitability of them being asked back, but I'm going to bear it. Just don't ask me to like it. Really just didn't like this team at all.

Ron & Christina (Father/Daughter) - Their relationship reminds me so much of my own relationship with my parents and so with that said, I wish her all the luck in the world.

Mel & Mike (Father/Son) - This team was one of my favorites, but they really didn't run an enjoyable race and their age is going to work against them.

Kent & Vyxsin (Dating Goths) - My feelings for them fluctuated wildly episode to episode, but a part of me is secretly rooting for them? To be determined.

Jet & Cord (Cowboy Brothers) - This is the team I'll be rooting for until they get eliminated which could be as early as next week if they don't get it together quickly! Love them too much.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

TV Report: 2/14-2/18

Just a few quick thoughts on some of the shows I watched this past week...

How I Met Your Mother - Even though they failed at handling the Barney/Robin relationship last season, I'm still hoping they are the endgame so I'm not too worried about them suddenly giving Barney a love interest. Plus Robin was so chill about it that frankly it was refreshing. With that said, before the girl, Robin/Barney were supposed to spend Valentine's Day together playing laser tag. Say it with me, AWWW. Though my favorite part of the episode revolved around Lily's frustration with Marshall not being able to move on and Marshall finally learning how to. Dare I say that these two really have been the MVPs these season?

Mad Love - I'm sorry did I fall asleep and see a less funny version of How I Met Your Mother, because that's exactly what it felt like watching this new show. I really like the actors here, but the pilot was ridiculously uninteresting. I'm going to give this show lots of chances since I usually just turn off my TV after HIMYM anyways, but it needs to get better fast.

Greek - Haven't talked about this show much, but it's pretty much just a guilty pleasure and I'm just enjoying its last season. But just have to commend the cast for handling that fun and intense episode with all of them holed up in a bar to celebrate Calvin's birthday enabling them all to air out every little drama the group may have.

Castle - Like most episodes of this show, I *love* it as I watch, but quickly forget about it after. For this episode though it was hard to forget because we really got to see Castle get invested emotionally with the case. There was one point, early on, when I thought I had solved the case. The show proved me wrong though. And even if they're just going out for a quick drink in the afternoon, Beckett/Castle are still doing so during Valentine's Day. Say it with me now, AWWWW.

Glee - All of the Bieber stuff was a bit nauseating to be honest, but everything else wasn't so bad. I was thrilled Mercedes and Rachel had a diva-off by singing "Take Me or Leave Me" and was also very happy they covered My Chemical Romance's "Sing" and sang it well. The plot was not memorable, but what else is new?

V - Haven't mentioned it in the past because I am a fan, but the dialogue in this show is often times atrocious. With that said, who was listening to them when this episode had torture, explosions, gun fight, and everything in between. Elizabeth Mitchell had to do A LOT in this episode and like always she pulled it off expertly. Her final war cry in the end gave me goosebumps.

The Good Wife - I am so upset that Will lied to Alicia after it took her ALL THIS TIME to work up the nerve to confront him about the missing voicemail! But really why talk about that when we could instead talk about Kalinda who had a flirtatious dinner with a female fed then played sexual poker (or Russian roulette?) with Blake ending with her knocking him down with a bat. But Blake had the last laugh and gave us something to chew on in the meantime, he called her HUSBAND? What does this mean?! Show, stop being so good, please.

Modern Family - I'm actually not a huge fan of guest stars in this show especially if there are more than one. I just think the family is wacky enough and almost all of the best episodes this series has had to offer contain no guest stars. This episode didn't change my mind in that regard, but still lots of quality stuff like Luke trying to be cute, Cam's need to bring out his inner Fizbo (and his fight with the princess), and drunk Gloria is always good.

Mr. Sunshine - If the best part about the episode was Nick Jonas acting like an asshole then this show has a huge problem. I don't know what to say really.

Big Bang Theory - Quick confession, after the first commercial break I dozed off. I'm pretty sure it wasn't because of the episode and more because I was exhausted. Of course I also then watched most of NBC's shows that night AFTER my quick nap, so I dont know what to say.

Community - This was a mixed episode for me in that I find the Pierce's character completely intolerable and his mere presence actually lessens my enjoyment to the show. With that said, everyone else, with their storylines, dialogue, actions, whatever, were brilliant from Britta's explanabrag to Abed's documentary to Donald Glover proving he's the MVP of this show with his reaction to meeting Levar Burton. His tearful rendition of the Reading Rainbow theme song was sheer comedic genius. Oh and there's the Firefly shout out which made my heart grow three sizes bigger. Good one.

The Office - I'm a fair-weather fan of this show so I wasn't that invested in seeing Michael's movie that he's supposedly been working on since S2 so I actually thought the episode sucked with the exception of seeing old characters come back, which was great fun and frankly a highly creative way to bring those people back for Carrell's swan song season.

Parks & Recreation - Ben Wyatt, you're a beautiful human disaster and I love you for it. It's been great seeing Adam Scott play mostly the straight man for these past few episodes, but letting his crazy side go here was much needed and he did it perfectly and without compromising his character. It was also really nice to see Andy/April get together finally in the end of this episode. I expect more cuteness from them from now on!

30 Rock - To be honest, I only really enjoyed the last few minutes of the episode when Liz was putting together the whole plan of them helping her to move on after her breakup with Carol. Other than that, I actually didn't feel much about the episode.

Grey's Anatomy - It was a Meredith-centric episode and I didn't hate it. In fact, I very much liked it. Maybe because the episode was so tight or maybe it's because I have come to realization that my hate for Meredith dissipated a season or so ago. Or all of the above.

Fringe - I'll handwave the deus ex machina ending especially since (a) they had to do that and (b) it might be important to this season's endgame. All of the Peter/Olivia stuff obviously interests me, so nothing in regards to that changed with this episode. But I really do like how slowly but surely, our Walter and our world are transforming into Walternate and the alternate world. I mean Walter was THIS close to quarantining a building! The promos for next week also got me way too excited!

My plan for this 3-day weekend is to finish the entire series of Friday Night Lights which I only started watching last Thursday. I'm two episodes away from finishing the third season. After that it's only 26 episodes and that's totally doable.

Friday, February 18, 2011

My Personal Oscar Ballot

Oscar pundits and bloggers make it their raison d'etre to predict, analyze, and most often times complain about the nominations and the eventual winners. Almost all of them, however, are not Oscar voters, but I bet they all wish they were. I'm no different and so with a little more than a week until the big day, here is what I would do if I was given ballot to fill out.

Note: For Best Picture, Academy voters are asked to rank their choices from 1 to 10. For the other categories, they are only ask to pick their choice of winner. Also, these are NOT my predictions, but rather my picks if I was an Academy member voting in the privacy on my own home.

Best Picture
1 - The Social Network
2 - Black Swan
3 - Inception
4 - Toy Story 3
5 - 127 Hours
6 - The King's Speech
7 - True Grit
8 - The Fighter
9 - The Kids Are All Right
10 - Winter's Bone

Best Director: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Best Lead Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Best Lead Actress: Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Best Original Screenplay: Inception
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Best Foreign Language Film: In A Better World, Denmark
Best Original Score: How to Train Your Dragon
Best Original Song: "If I Rise," 127 Hours
Best Editing: Black Swan
Best Art Direction: Inception
Best Cinematography: True Grit
Best Costume Design: I Am Love
Best Makeup: The Way Back
Best Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop
Best Documentary Short: The Warriors of Qiugang
Best Animated Short: Day & Night
Best Live Action Short: Wish 143
Best Sound Editing: Inception
Best Sound Mixing: The King's Speech
Best Visual Effects: Inception

I'm a fan of spreading the wealth and I did notice that I chose a different film for each of the big six categories (picture, director, acting). With that said, it was Inception who got the most wins (4) despite not getting any big win unless you count its win for its screenplay. Other multiple winners include The Social Network, The King's Speech, Black Swan, and True Grit. Another oddity I've discovered is as much as I'm rooting for Natalie Portman and David Fincher, I didn't vote for them choosing instead to champion my second favorites who are severe underdogs.

Monday, February 14, 2011

You Always Hurt the Ones You Love

You always hurt the ones you love, / The one you shouldn't hurt at all. / You always take the sweetest rose, / And crush it until the petals fall.

You always break the kindest heart, / With a hasty word you can't recall. / And if I broke your heart last night, It's because I love you most of all.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

BAFTA Winners

Even though the awards are time-delayed not only in America, which is to be expected, but also in Great Britain, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) handed out their annual film awards tonight and told us who won live via twitter. Got to love technology.

The winners are below:

Best Film: The King's Speech
Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech
Best Supporting Actress: Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Best Original Screenplay: The King's Speech
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Best British Film: The King's Speech
Best Foreign Language Film: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Best Film Editing: The Social Network
Best Cinematography: True Grit
Best Production Design: Inception
Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
Best Makeup & Hair: Alice in Wonderland
Best Music: The King's Speech
Best Sound: Inception
Best Special Visual Effects: Inception
Best Short Film: Until the River Runs Red
Best Animated Short: The Eagleman Stag
Best British Debut: Chris Morris, Four Lions
Orange Rising Star: Tom Hardy

The big winner of the night was not shocking as very British film The King's Speech swept up a leading 7 wins including both Best Film and Best British film, only the 6th film in its history to win both awards. Speech also won three of the four acting awards with wins for Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, and Geoffrey Rush. Firth wins his second BAFTA in a row and along with Best Actress winner Natalie Portman are heavily favored to repeat at the Oscars. Increasingly becoming this year's award season runner-up, The Social Network managed to claim 3 wins including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Inception also won 3 awards, mostly tech, and not including the win for its star Tom Hardy getting the Orange Rising Star vote from the public.

What does this tell us about the Oscars? Well The King's Speech is the film to beat although that's been obvious since it won its first guild award over The Social Network. The latter film can take solace in winning at least two Oscars for its director and writer. Colin Firth and Natalie Portman should probably get their speeches ready, but Christian Bale and Melissa Leo shouldn't count their eggs before they hatch. Yes, both have dominated the awards season so far, but they aren't really universally loved and have some baggage. Supporting Actress especially is tricky with four actresses having almost an equal chance to win. Finally, Inception should get more than a few tech wins except for Best Cinematography as Roger Deakins will finally win his first for his work on True Grit.

TV Report: 1/31-2/11

February sweeps are upon us and for the most part I've been enjoying many of the episodes that my regular shows have been doling out recently. Oh and didn't a big football game happen as well? First of all, I didn't get a chance to see everything I had wanted to see. Missed the most recent episodes of Grey's Anatomy and Supernatural mostly due to lack of time and not because I didn't want to see them. Onwards...

Chuck - The episode from two weeks ago acted as the defacto finale if they didn't get the back nine and it showed as it featured the take down of Volkoff, Ellie's labor, and that final scene with Chuck/Sarah. While it felt totally rushed, it still really worked for me and for this reason, I've decided to take a break from the rest of the season, at least for a little while, to let that episode simmer a bit.

How I Met Your Mother - Last week's brilliant phone-tag episode which featured various members of the cast calling Marshall to update him on Ted/Zoey while he stays at home amazingly did a lot to make Zoey matter to the audience. It was so good, I didn't notice they played with the color coordination of their wardrobe to CLUE characters and Katy Perry wasn't half bad as well!

Glee - Have to give them an A+ for effort for that Super Bowl episode with the highlight being some movement on the Karofksy redemption arc. Without that, the episode wasn't that special. A better episode was their Valentine's Day episode which was a less flashy and quieter episode that focused on the kids, which is usually when Glee gets it right.

V - The show is not long for this world, but it's been so intense, I'm hoping the season (series?) finale is just one insane war. My favorite part is still Anna and Erica being BAMFs, but liking Ryan being a mole, Erica's old partner investigating her, and some movement on the story of Tyler being "special" to the Vs.

The Good Wife - When is this show not ever brilliant? Two weeks ago focused on the upcoming elections as Wendy took it to Alicia, Eli took it to Becca, and the state's attorney office took it to Kalinda. This week was all about the reappearance of the wonderful lawyer played by Michael J. Fox. This time, Alica was able to take it to him. All of this as a million other awesome things are going on including Will/Diane partnering up to take out Bond.

Modern Family - Another adorable Valentine's Day episode from this show. The biggest laughs obviously came from the Dunphy's trying to re-ignite last year's flame and failing spectacularly, but kudos to the Gloria/Jay storyline showing us how much of an MVP Sofia Vergara is this season. Also enjoyed Mitchell/Cam's story if only to see both be smug and fawning for attention.

Cougar Town - It had its last episode until April two weeks ago to make room for Matthew Perry's new show and while I thought the episode itself was good, it wasn't a good episode for its viewers to MISS it terribly during its hiatus. It's already renewed, but they should've planned a bigger episode to go out on.

Mr. Sunshine - Speaking of, this was okay. I was a bit distracted so I supposed I should rewatch, but for now I'll keep watching. It was reminiscent to the first episodes of Community and Cougar Town, scattered but funny at parts. It's definitely a work in progress like those two shows were until they became AWESOME, so I have some hope. Though, yes, seeing Alison Janney throw a kid at axe-wielding clowns made me laugh more than it should have.

Community - They did a Dungeons & Dragons episode and it was epic. The fact that most of it took place in one room and it still felt epic is such a credit to this show. Then last week, it was vintage Community with the cast split up a bit to have their own Valentine's Day experiences and rather than feeling disconnected, it all worked. Was Jeff's saccharine final words out of place, maybe, but I enjoyed it. The one worrying element the past few episodes have been Pierce, but it looks like there's a working arc for him, so I'll reserve judgment until we reach its end.

Big Bang Theory - The episode two weeks ago with Sheldon getting acting lessons from Penny was funny in parts, but I liked last week's episode more with Sheldon forcing Leonard to whore himself out to a rich benefactor.

The Office - It's all about Michael and Holly. Two weeks ago in a surreal episode of the show Michael gets lost and Holly finds him because they are so in tuned with each other. This was also the moment they realize they should be together now. Last week's episode took it to the extreme as they couldn't get their hands off one another making everyone else uncomfortable. They declare their love love for one another and decide to move in. Not really invested in the show, but I think this is just so nice for Steve Carrell as he exits the show.

Parks & Recreation - The Time Capsule episode was good, but mostly to see the crazy town hall meetings back. The Twilight jokes were good too. But I loved last week's Ron and Tammy (Part Two!) episode because real-life couple Megan Mullaly and Nick Offerman really goes balls out in their interactions with one another. All of this plus Ron in cornrows wearing a kimono. Oh and throughout all of this there's so many Ben/Leslie moments, I was just dying from the adorableness of it all.

30 Rock - To be honest, it's difficult for me to remember what happened two weeks ago. I think it was when Liz pretended to be pregnant. Clearly the episode didn't leave me any lasting impression. But this week's episode was fantastic. I actually never liked Carol with Liz (much preferred her with Wesley), but this episode really made me like them together. Of course ironically enough this is also the episode they fought and broke up. Jack and Avery's quest to have an American baby as she goes into labor in Canada was inspired stuff as well.

Fringe - Finally, but definitely not least THIS SHOW IS OFF THE WALLS INSANE AND AMAZING. I could go on and on about the super disgusting Freaks of the Week (boneless victims! bugs and beatles!), but it's all about the triangle Peter/Oliva/Fauxlivia. Two weeks ago we find out that the fate of the two universe hangs on whoever Peter chooses to end up with, but to find out that he still had feelings for Fauxlivia is a dagger especially to Olivia who is still pretty damn traumatize by the whole thing. Fauxlivia, on the other hand, we see this week struggling with her REAL feelings for Peter and now that she is pregnant with his child things have gone from OH SHIT to OMG OMG OMG OMG. This is a show that's closer to being cancelled than not and it's a terrible shame.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

End-Of-Year: Top 10 Favorite Films of 2010

Took a little longer than I had planned, but without further a due, here are my ten favorite films of 2010. In a year (or even a few weeks), maybe I'll feel a bit differently, but for now this is how it all shook out. If you want to see the rest of the top 25 films of 2010, click here.

10. Agora - Always a fan of films where the central character is an historical woman way ahead of her times going against the tide by being her own person and Hypathia as played beautifully by Rachel Weisz is one such woman. Her steadfast will to learn and understand the universe amidst political and religious turmoil was inspiring. Playing opposite here is her slave as played by Max Minghella who struggles between his devotion to her and his freedom. Their journeys were fascinating to watch unfold amidst all of the upheavals of the times all leading up to that magnificent and heart-wrenching ending.

9. 127 Hours - As a huge fan of Slumdog Millionaire and Danny Boyle in general, I was counting down the days for his next feature film and with 127 Hours he delivered another great one. The film is pretty much a one-man show with James Franco playing real-life person Aron Ralston and his amazing ordeal of being stuck down a canyon for a grueling 127 hours. Boyle's frenetic style, which I'm a fan of, helps the movie never get stagnant, but it was Franco who really shouldered the whole film with his wonderful performance. The pièce de résistance was definitely the "cutting off the arm" scene which was as exhilarating and riveting as I had expected it to be, but I was also damn impressed by the gorgeous and breathtaking locale shots of Utah.

8. A Prophet - This film is nearly three hours long and yet I remembered thinking when I finished it that it was probably the fastest 3-hrs I've spent watching a film. Not sure why this movie was so watchable to me since it's a pretty hardcore prison drama. I'll attribute some of it to its great lead actor Tahar Rahim who was brilliant in showing us the journey of a man who went from a small-time crook to a full-fledged master criminal all the while maintaining sympathetic to the audience. It's an incredibly difficult role, but when done right, like it was here, you couldn't look away.

7. Easy A - I wanted to watch this movie because it had a few of my favorite veteran actors such as Lisa Kudrow, Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson and while those two latter actors DO steal the show as the easy-going cool parents, it was relative newcomer Emma Stone who was the breakout star of the film, and really the year. The success of the film as a John Hughes-inspired teen-style high school comedy was squarely put on Stone's shoulders and she carried the film spectacularly with her unassuming yet charismatic presence. The film itself had plenty of laughs and heart to fill its 92 minutes of running time.

6. Toy Story 3 - I knew it was going to be "one of those movies" when I started tearing up as soon as Randy Newman's score started playing and I supposed a lot of people probably had a similar reaction. For this film, it really was about saying goodbye to these characters who we first met more than 15 years ago, which also makes me feel incredibly old. It was the big theme of the film as Andy had to say also bid adieu to his toys because he was off to college. Of course before that happened some bits of hilarity (daycare!) and horror (incinerator!) had to happen, but every emotion the film elicited was sincerely earned.

5. Inception - I still remember this past summer when I couldn't get the film out of my head. And why not? This was certainly an ambitious and smart film and I applaud Christopher Nolan for always going there with all of his movies. The story itself is actually not that complicated to follow, but it is still such an intricately layered film, literally and metaphorically, that every viewing brings forth something new. The cast, which was my pick for Best Ensemble, is beyond words and they needed to be in order to keep up with Nolan's story. I'm still debating the ending with friends of mine to this day, so I just can't seem to get this film out of my head.

4. Black Swan - Even though I fully expected the unexpected with this film, especially with Darren Aronofsky at the helm, I wasn't fully prepared for his thrilling and sometimes disturbing vision of a ballerina going absolutely out of her mind in quest of perfection. You could tell that Natalie Portman underwent immense emotional and physical transformations to magnificently pull off this role, so kudos to her. And though I singled out the visionary direction and the inspired lead, the whole surreal film came together wonderfully in a sort of mindfuck kind of way and I just loved it all.

3. The Social Network - Even though it's not my #1 film and it's probably going to lose the Oscar to The King's Speech, in a lot of ways this is probably the film of 2010. A lot of it has to do with its subject matter i.e. the founding of Facebook, but also because it's plainly an amazing movie. From its writing, directing, and acting, almost every element of the film was top-notch. Why *I* like the film though was because in the heart of it all, it was about two friends, wonderfully played by Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield, whose friendship was challenged while they were building something together that would literally change the world. It's that relationship that makes this movie so worthwhile even in years to come.

2. Blue Valentine - This was probably my most anticipated film last year and so of course it was released on the very last week of the year. The wait was worth it though as the film delivered on every level in no small part due to its two incredible leads fantastically played by Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. Both displayed a wide range of emotions as the film went back and forth from their initial courtship to their relationship's eventual collapse. Saying both had chemistry would be terribly simplifying it since I believe they inhabited their characters so fully and so realistically that it almost hurt watching their relationship crumble.

1. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - As a huge Edgar Wright fanboy (loved Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz unequivocally), me loving this film was a no-brainer, but what was easily my favorite summer film somehow coalesced itself into my favorite film of the year. It's definitely the most unique film I saw this year. Most of that was Wright's full commitment to the video game aesthetics ever-present in the film that perfectly complemented its graphic novel origins. The relatively young cast is immensely talented especially Kieran Culkin who played my favorite character, Scott's gay roommate Wallace Wells. It's not a perfect film, but it is my favorite and I'm just totally in lesbian with it.

And that's it! At least for now. For the rest of my top 25 list, click here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Writers Guild Awards Nolan & Sorkin

For the moment, The King's Speech guild domination was halted by the Writers Guild which deemed the film ineligible. This benefited Inception's screenwriter, Christopher Nolan, who actually picked up most critics awards for writing this season, second only to Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network. Both writers expectantly picked up the win.

The other winners are:

Original Screenplay: Christopher Nolan, Inception
Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Documentary Screenplay: Charles Ferguson, Inside Job

TV Drama Series: Mad Men
TV Comedy Series: Modern Family
New TV Series: Boardwalk Empire

View the complete list of winners here.

Don't have much to say about the TV winners. They all deserved it, but it's all a bit boring/safe and thus who cares?

Back to the movies, look for Sorkin to repeat his dominance throughout awards season at the Academy Awards in a few weeks. It's probably the lockiest of any of the awards of the night. For original screenplay, it'll be a tough fight between Nolan and The King's Speech's screenwriter David Seidler. The former should win, but the latter could get swept up with a possible Speech sweep.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wicked Good Time

When I posted a few of my favorite films from last year yesterday, I said I'd have my top ten today. Unfortunately, yesterday was a bit busier than expected so you'll have to wait one more day. But speaking of being busy yesterday...

I had every intention of staying at home, but a friend wanted to hang out in the city (New York City for the unawares). We tried to get rush tickets for The Importance of Being Earnest, but unfortunately they didn't have them for that day. My memory is hazy regarding the plot, but I saw the film only five years ago in college and remembered absolutely loving it.

We decided to try for Wicked's lottery, but with its popularity, we had very little hope and indeed we didn't get it. We rushed over to do the lottery for American Idiot next and also didn't win, but since we both wanted to see Melissa Etheridge in her one-week engagement, we decided to buy partial view tickets. I was fine with that since I had already seen the musical a couple months back. Etheridge was fantastic and her guttural voice and sharp shrieks worked perfectly for the St. Jimmy role. As for the cast, they were again phenomenal and I'm hoping the rumor that Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day pursuing opportunities to adapt this into a feature film happens. Yes, the plot needs to be more substantial, but I think it can work ala Julie Taymor's Across the Universe. In fact, why not hire Taymor? Well at least after she deals with Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

After grabbing some insanely decadent hot chocolate at The City Bakery, we tried the lottery for Wicked again. Of course with it being the night showing, there were more people wanting tickets and we were so discouraged we hung out in the back so as to make a quick getaway. It was for naught, however, as I heard my name being called. Fast forward to us seating in the second row of Wicked and let me tell you the stage was just amazing to behold with its steampunk quality complete with a robotic dragon high above the audience's heads which billowed smoke at the beginning of the musical. I've listened to the soundtrack countless of times, but the actual play really filled it many holes which I was too lazy to fill via wikipedia or actually reading the book the musical was based on.

But I said on twitter last night, it was all just breathtaking. From the singing, the production, the costume... THE COSTUME. They are magnificent. It's hard to pick a favorite, but Elphaba's final dress, though mostly black, was so intricate it looked like a work of art. And just so I remember down the line, I saw it with Teal Wicks playing Elphaba, Katie Rose Clarke as Glinda, and Kyle Dean Massey playing Fiyero. They were all pretty damn good.

Now what's taking the movie version so long? Is it a matter of the producers worrying that a movie version would hurt the massively successful Broadway version? I think that's hogwash and they really should strike while the iron is hot. As far as I know there's no Wicked movie in production at the moment, but there are a bunch of other Oz-related films in the pipeline so we won't lack for that. The most high profile of them all is Disney's The Great And Powerful which tells the Oz story from the eyes of the Wizard. Directed by Sam Raimi and slated for a 2013 release, it's currently having trouble finding the actor to play its lead. Robert Downey, Jr. was originally cast, but was then replaced by Johnny Depp, who then turned it down and now the rumor mill is saying James Franco is being considered the role.

Whatever man, though now that I think about it... Franco as Scarecrow, Depp as Tin Man, and Downey Jr. as Cowardly Lion. Genius. Someone greenlight that movie!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

End-Of-Year: Favorite Films #11-25

This was a long time coming, but last year I didn't post my top films until the middle of February, so based on that I'm actually a bit ahead of schedule. Unlike last year as well, instead of building up to my top films by doing postings on the worst films and the "in-between" films, I'm going to start off with my Top 25 right away (#11-25 now and top 10 tomorrow). Maybe down the line, I'll do a quick post ranking all of the 83 films (12 more than I saw since my nominations) that came out in 2010.

Without further a due...

25. Nowhere Boy
- Even though I've not been a fan of Aaron Johnson, he does solid work here as the young John Lennon. As expected though he gets upstaged by the awesome work being done by Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne Marie Duff and even Thomas Sangster, who plays the young Paul McCartney, steals his scenes. With that said, the whole film is packaged beautifully and with lots of heart.

24. The Kids Are All Right - Truth be told, I was left a bit cold by the film when I first saw it. After some time, I've come to warm up to it a bit, but for me I just wasn't enamored by the adult characters as much as I was with the kids, who unfortunately, weren't the focus as the title would have you believe. Still, solid work from all involved!

23. Shutter Island - It was the mind-bending movie of the year before Black Swan and Inception came into the scene and Martin Scorsese delivered a great one with great work from Leonardo DiCaprio and the rest of the talented ensemble. Fantastic atmosphere, and at least to me, a thoroughly thought-provoking ending.

22. Date Night - This was my first film of the year and the combination of Tina Fey and Steve Carrell proved wonderful. Did they play Liz Lemon and Michael Scott as a married couple? Yes, but so what, doesn't that sound AMAZING? Shout out to first-time Oscar nominees Mila Kunis and James Franco with their bit role.

21. I Am Love - An impeccably gorgeous movie from beginning to end headlined by yet another wonderful leading performance from Tilda Swinton. It's the type of film that begs to be seen again if only for its breathtaking beauty, but the drama that unfolds within this aristocratic Italian family is also damn delicious.

20. Somewhere
- I actually tried to lower my expectation for this film especially since the trailer looked uber pretentious. I, however, ended up really enjoying the film, even with its plot as light as it is, mostly due to the charms of Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning as father and daughter. Oh, but the strippers were totally the highlight.

19. City Island - The film made me nostalgic for the summer days in my youth I spent in City Island with family. And this film is all about family with some great performances from Julianna Margulies and Andy Garcia. It's the kind of small film that never gets any attention, but really should get some. Just a lovely yarn about family and following one's dream.

18. The Ghost Writer - It's one of those films where I didn't really have any expectations and the beginning was a bit slow. Not to mention I wasn't really into some of the characters, but Ewan McGregor was a solid lead and Olivia Williams was radiant. You are somehow swept into this world that you hardly notice the movie ending, until you do and you reflect on how awesome it was.

17. Patrik Age 1.5 - A sweet Swedish flick about two guys adopting a baby boy, but due to clerical error actually adopted a homophobic teenager. Of course it all ends happily and rainbows, but the journey was well worth it and is my highest rated gay film of the year!

16. The Fighter - I was going to open this up by saying I don't really like boxing films, but I loved Rocky and Million Dollar Baby so go figure. This film, like those two, was very good punctuated by amazing performances from Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, and Melissa Leo. In fact it was the relationship of all of these people with each other that really elevated the film.

15. True Grit
- Not a big Western fan so I was a bit apprehensive at first before I saw this film. But somehow the Coen brothers made probably their most accessible film to date with a fantastic debut performance by Hailee Steinfeld which is like my new hero, or at least her character Mattie Ross. Such a quality film that I wouldn't mind watching again at this minute.

14. Never Let Me Go - This was such a deliberately paced film that packed such an emotional wallop that I literally was unprepared for. Three of Britain's most talented actors working right now--Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield--really sold the emotions required from them (mostly heartbreak, lonliness, confusion, and anger) acting as the viewer's guideposts in the dystopian world of the film.

13. How to Train Your Dragon - Brilliant visuals and a fantastic score aside (they really were amazing), this film was breathtaking also for its simple message of being true to who you are and keeping an open mind. The friendship between Toothless and Hiccup is one of my favorites this year in film and end of the film made me all teary.

12. Exit Through the Gift Shop - Such an irreverent and fun documentary from none other that street artist legend Banksy. Who knows how "real" this is, but it was still chock full of information and was probably in turn the most interesting film I saw this year.

11. The King's Speech - Right now, it's the Oscar front-runner, and I can't really complain. It has a phenomenal cast who pretty much knocks it out of the park with a classic story of our hero overcoming his struggles in the end. It was all the more effective for me because I have suffered through lifelong stuttering problems and Colin Firth really was aces in that aspect of the role.

Tomorrow my top 10 list and maybe I can finally focus on 2011!