And the Award for Pretending To Know About Movies goes to...

It’s almost the end of a vacation week so now it means that I have go back to work on the projects and homework I’ve procrastinated it on (as usual). But how horrible is it that this week coincides with Oscar week? While I should be thinking about the Treaty of Versailles for European History, I’ve might’ve been thinking a lot of about who and what the Oscar winners are going to be come Sunday night. (But I love movies and Oscar sunday is basically my family’s Superbowl, so I guess it makes sense that I love procrastinating with thinking about the Oscars.) 

I put together a list of predictions for the categories I’m looking forward to seeing the most. So here we go- the predictions for the 84th Academy Awards.......*drumroll*: 

Best Visual Effects and/or Best Makeup, Harry Potter
I think one of these awards will go to Deathly Hallows Part 2 just so the Academy will say that they gave Harry at least one award. Otherwise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes will win Visual Effects and the Iron Lady will win Best Makeup.

Best Art Direction, Hugo
I think it can go either way: Harry or Hugo. I think Harry deserves it because Stuart Craig & Co has been almost always consistent for eight films, and they really just should give Harry Potter a technical award already. But Hollywood ADORES Hugo to death and the sets, the lighting, and subtle CGI are magnificently done. Plus, they recreate 1920‘s Paris! Everyone loves Paris!  

Best Original Score, The Artist
Since The Artist is a silent film and all, the music takes a bigger role in the film than usual (and I have a hard time resisting getting up to tap dance whenever I hear this track.) But don’t worry Howard Shore! If it’s any consolation to you, The Flying Scribble award for Best Score will go to your score.

Best Animated Feature Short, La Luna
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris is quite charming, but I think they'll give it to La Luna as a consolation prize for (gasp!) not giving Pixar a nomination in the Animated Feature category.

Best Adapted Screenplay, The Descendants 
This *might* be the only award it’ll get this Sunday.

Best Original Screenplay, Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen + Paris = Oscar gold, or so they say. 

Best Animated Feature, Rango
If I wrote this on Jan 24th when the nominations came out, there would’ve been a lot of exclamation points and bolded words in this category, but it’s been almost a month and I’ve almost gotten over the heartbreak that is Tintin not getting nominated*. But of course, even if it did, the award would’ve (rightfully) went to Rango because it’s just a quirky homage to western film (plus Johnny Depp)! 

Best Actress/Actor in a Supporting Role, Octavia Spencer & Christopher Plummer for the Help & the Beginners respectively 
They’ve been sweeping every other award so I don’t see why the Academy will decide to not let them end their award sweeping on a high...unless they truly are evil. 

Best Actress, Viola Davis for the Help
If Viola Davis won, I think it'll be ok for Meryl Streep because she’ll probably get nominated next year, and the year after next, and the year after that. 

Best Actor, Jean Dujardin for the Artist 
First: YAY Gary Oldman for getting nominated! 
Second: Jean won the Screen Actors Guild award,  and don’t the awards usually predict correctly 99% of the time who’s going to to get the acting awards?

Best Director, Michel Hazanavicius for the Artist
It takes a lot of guts and a lot of faith in his film to make a black & white film decades after Hollywood stopped making black & white films.
Runner up: Martin Scorcese for Hugo.

Best Film, The Artist 
Cuz it’s The Artist, yo. That is all. 

So that’s it-all my Oscar picks for the year twenty-eleven. Even if I don’t get my work done, at least I can say to everyone that I predicted at least some of the winners out the 14 categories correctly. 

(Oh, umm, before I end this post I guess I should mention that the only films I’ve seen out of all nominated ones were Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Hugo, Tintin, Rango, and the Iron Lady. Heh.)

*I think I’m mostly sad that the dvd’s not going to have the Nominated for Best Animated Feature title slapped on to its cover because you know...WETA sorta deserves it. The transitions, people. The transitions between scenes! They're amazing.**
**Why Academy, why?!! 


Mush Pot!

mush pot
1. a compilation of reviews of everything Nonie has been wanting to review for the past couple of months whether it be tv, books, or films.

Legend by Marie Lu
It’s a great thriller.  The plot is fast-paced and the references to Les Mis were abundant, thus making the book pretty good. The only problem was that I wish it was just a bit longer to get to know the characters more and to stretch out the storyline a bit. Everything just felt so sudden, especially the romance and the events leading up to the climax. 

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
All I can say is that, to me, it’s worth the hype. But um, maybe it was too perfect? Something feels off, but I just can’t place my finger on it. 

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
If there was an award for publishing like the Emmys called the Storybook Guild Awards* and there was a “BEST ENSEMBLE” category, Saving Francesca would get nominated and rightfully win it. The cast of characters is the best thing about this book. Each and everyone has a purpose and they’re real; they’re all people I’d see walking in the hallways at school. And Melina Marchetta has a gift for dialogue. Nothing felt out of place in this story. Now, the story itself is dark but it’s also cute. It also plays like a romantic comedy but at its heart is a story of a struggling family. It’s everything wrapped up into one and to me it was perfect. 

Fire by Kristin Cashore
It started out as a really well-written, engaging fantasy, and ended up more like a large scale fantasy soap opera (but still super well-written) because SPOILER ALERT, no one’s parents were who they seemed to be. But still, Kristin Cashore and publishers, can Bitterblue come out like tomorrow? Or at least next week? May 1st is 68 days away. Drats.  

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Oh the gore! Oh the descriptions of mangled human corpses! I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it and I don’t exactly know why. Okay, so maybe I couldn’t finish because the first six pages...scared me. I definitely recommend this if you’re a fan of Zombie stories and/or the Walking Dead and you need something else to quench your thirst for tales of the undead. I promise to myself that I will finish this book someday..as soon as I learn to remember that everything in the book is fiction. 

*Hopefully, the award will also have a better name. 

Downton Abbey

What I’m looking forward to in season 3 the most (in order of importance to me): 1. Branson’s first family dinner at Downton, and 2. the portrayal of the roaring twenties

P.S. Dear Julian Fellowes, Please give Sybil and Branson a proper storyline next season because they were two of my favorite characters in Season 1 but you turned Branson creepy in the middle of the season 2 and they were both sadly underused. Also, would it be possible for you to send me a copy of the scripts of season 3? I promise I won’t share them with anyone except maybe a friend or two.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris
This 2012 Oscar-nominated animated short is impeccably animated and enchanting. Also, it's about the power of stories so it’s basically impossible for me to not like it. But wait...Why I am reviewing this when you can watch it for yourself?! Vimeo's being weird and not letting me embed, but you can check out the short here.

I’ve been in the midst of love/hate relationship with this film since last November. It’s worth seeing because the art direction is truly, madly, deeply gorgeous- the sets, the costumes, the cinematography, and the subtle graphics. The actors are just nailed their roles (especially Asa Butterfield as Hugo and Sacha Baron Cohen as the Station Inspector). Throw in Howard Shore's score and everything worked like clockwork (hehe haw haw). I think what's bothering me so much is that the film felt like it was split up into two parts. Part 1 feels like Hugo, and part 2 feels like George Méliès: the Biopic. Not that it matters since Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars and the film’s been picking up tons of awards and nominations this year (all of them deserved though!).

Oh, and the marketing lied. The ads made it seem like a magical, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory-esque  film but I honestly don’t think any person under 12 will like it because the story takes its time to unravel. When I went to the theater, I think I was the youngest person there (and it was packed). It’s a children’s movie for adults.

The Illusionist
It's artsy, quiet, and also the most depressing and grimace-inducing animated movie I've ever seen (figures since the film's about being alone and growing up). It had a really unique animation style. I can't quite explain it, but it felt like the 2D was layered. It just simply POPs out at you.

The Boy With the Striped Pajamas
I remembered why I stay away from movies and books about WWII when the end credits started rolling. Textbooks and WWII research projects are gut-wrenching enough for me. AND SORT OF SPOILER ALERT, the last couple of scenes of this film were just numbing. Oh, and it didn't help at all that it was about two children (one of whom is played by Asa Butterfield, by the way).

Attack the Block
If I had to pick a favorite film out of everything I saw last year, I’d probably pick this one. Attack the Block is one of the best alien invasion movies EVER. It’s simply clever, funny, brisk, and unsentimental yet surprisingly poignant. The aliens were creepy, the techno background score rocked, and the final scene put a smile on my face. Yep, it’s pretty much flawless and I seriously cannot overhype this movie enough. Disclaimer: The movie’s about a street gang and they do stuff that street gangs are known to do, so the movie really deserves the R Rating.

Coming soon to this blog near you: 2012 Oscar Predictions! And perhaps a Downton Abbey season finale recap. Woo-hoo?


Tintin and His Ginger Quiff

(cue dramatic John Williams music)

In a world before Hiccup and Toothless...

Harry and Hedwig....

and Sam Gamgee and Bill the Pony, there was...

Tintin, the Belgian reporter and his brilliant fox terrier Snowy out to save the world from evil bad guys in a series of comics written by the amazing artist, Hergé aka George Remi. There’s no shortage of globe-trotting, slapstick comedy, dangerous villains, and crazy (but funnily plausible enough) adventures with a colorful cast of characters in these books. 

The Adventures of Tintin are greatest comic books series ever written. Seriously. (Although I should tell you, I might have a slight disadvantage picking the best of the best of comic books seeing as Tintin are the only comic books I read. Heh) In these intelligent, layered, well-researched, beautifully drawn, satirical books, Tintin and Snowy travel the world and deal with everything from Al Capone to South American revolutions to Eastern European politics to sunken treasure to horrible Opera singers to the excess of the Soviet Union. And oh yeah, they go to the moon. THE MOON. Twenty years before the real first lunar landing. These books have EVERYTHING except romance and provide a wonderful snapshot of the 20th century. 

There's a reason why some people want the series to be called the Adventures of Tintin and Snowy

And the film just last Sunday won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature. Er, I *may* have teared up a bit when they announced it. (Umm, ahem, yes, I know I shouldn't take these film award shows waayyy too seriously...but I mean, it's TINTIN!)

But however wonderful that award is, the award is a Golden Globe and that’s the issue: The Golden Globes are given by foreign journalists, the keyword there being foreign. The movie has been overlooked (*cough* BOMBED *cough*) critically and box office-wise on this side of the world, obviously because Tintin is indubitably and unapologetically European. (I bet you my bowl of Cheerios that the Oscar's going to Rango.) Belgian or not, no childhood hero of mine should have to suffer through this embarrassment, so here here are six reasons why you should go running to see it now!

(1) It’s visually stunning. Pulling a Chris Traeger (from Parks & Recreation), I’ll say that’s it LITERALLY the most gorgeous animated feature I’ve seen. It is brilliant- no PHENOMENAL animation and use of motion capture. It’s jaw-dropping and I almost fell out my chair while watching it with my 3D glasses on. I remember when the first sneak peek pictures came out my brother and I went around the house in a rampage that Spielberg and Jackson were going to ruin our favorite childhood hero’s story. We went into the theater sweating, begging Spielberg that everything will go alright (because we have a telepathic link with Spielberg obviously), and two hours later we were able to wipe the sweat off our brows while walking out because it did. Thank you animators at WETA digital. 

This was LITERALLY my pose for the entire two hours sans Snowy.
 (via markeeto)

(2) The story’s just infectious with its energy. It’s an adventure story: a classic, quaint, smart early 20th century adventure story. This is Indiana Jones decades before Indiana Jones came to life. It starts quietly enough: Tintin’s enjoying an afternoon walking around a flea market and he happens to find a model ship of The Unicorn. From there the story jumps forward and never stops as Tintin heads out to find the secret of The Unicorn before the villains do. It’s exhilarating and I haven't had this much fun watching a film in a loonng time.

(3) Cinematography and transitions. It’s an animated film so it’s probably a bit easier getting the cameras around everything but hey, credit is due where credit is due. The filmmakers have to think creatively about where to place the cameras, right? And they do. The camera sweeps all throughout the film, following Tintin's escapades through windows, on the streets of Brussels, in the Moroccan town of Bagghar, and etc, so so so beautifully. And the transitions. Holy. Cheesecakes. WHEN TINTIN AND CAPTAIN HADDOCK SHAKE HANDS, THE CAMERA ZOOMS IN AND THE HANDS TURN INTO SAND DUNES. WHO THINKS OF TRANSITIONS LIKE THAT?!?! And The Unicorn BURSTING through the sand. And the chase sequence. AHHH. The way Tintin turns the motorcycle handles around to use them and a wire as a zipline. AHHH again. I might get a heart attack just getting too excited about it. 

I LITERALLY cannot wait for all the behind the scenes special features the blu-ray's going to bring. (via)

(4) Tintin’s introduction scene rocks. That is all. And his gravity-defying quiff got a special scene (psst..the scene involves mirrors).

The biggest issue with the film that American critics seem to be having with the film (besides the mo-cap) is Tintin himself. Everyone seems to want a backstory for him. After reading each book countless times, I can say that he just doesn’t have one. He’s meant to be enigmatic. I don't think I've realized this until I came back from the film, but the biggest mystery in the entire series of mysteries is Tintin. From what we the readers know, he has no parents or family to speak of besides Snowy. He doesn’t have much of a life outside of being a reporter, no determinate age (I always thought he was in his late teens/early twenties), and we don’t know what the deal with his name is (is Tintin a pseudonym for his journalistic activities or what?!), but that’s okay. Hergé gives us everything we need to know about him: 

Tintin's a ginger, quiffed reporter whose signature outfit consists of a beige trench-coat, a blue sweater, and brown plus fours. He’s whipsmart, adventurous, eager, innocent-ish but calculating, dynamic, and ridiculously good-looking for an animated character. He also knows the meaning of truly packing a punch. 

And Jamie Bell captured him very well. The mannerisms, the expressions and the tone he gives to Tintin are perfect. The rest of the actors (Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, etc) nailed their roles as Captain Haddock and Thompson & Thomson respectively. And Daniel Craig was surprisingly sinister as the bad guy. 

Real Tintin is wondering how and why motion-capture Tintin looks better than he does...

... while motion-capture Tintin has just noticed that his quiff is fashionably triangular instead of rectangular like in the books. 
(via brokensunday)

(5) It will make you smile. It made me smile and I’m pretty sure there’s at least one smile-inducing scene for everyone (and OF COURSE it will because the screenplay was written by the hilarious and witty British writing trio Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish). One of my favorite scenes is when Tintin’s trying to figure out why everyone’s after his model ship of The Unicorn, and a grin comes on his face and he says, “...And I know where I’ll find the answer...the library!” I'm sorry everyone. I tried to but I couldn't stop myself from awwwing. It was too adorable. How many characters do you see these days exclaiming enthusiastically that they need to go the library to get information besides Hermione?

(6) It’s a lovely tribute to Hergé. Hergé's the artist who's inspired everyone from Walt Disney to Brad Bird. If you pick up a book after seeing the movie (hopefully!), you’ll see that there are little details the filmmakers sprinkled throughout to show their love and appreciation for Hergé's world: Tintin’s apartment had red armchairs and a desk next to the window; Tintin gets knocked out numerous times (I assure you that I’m not a sadist! Hergé has Tintin getting clubbed or hit with a brick or rake or wine bottle or something almost all the time. It just won't be Tintin without those scenes); there are guns and aeroplanes; Snowy saves the day plenty of times; Captain Haddock can swear colorfully and the bad guys are refreshingly old-fashioned. Though some might disagree with me, even though it’s not animated in the traditional sense, the art and design of everything is still very Hergé. There is nothing out of place here, except for a few lapses of reality but I’m not even going to go there.

So yeah, in conclusion, GO SEE The Adventures of Tintin! And thank you Spielberg,  Peter Jackson, WETA, the writers, Jamie Bell and the rest of the cast for not being afraid to bring out their inner Tintin nerd while making this film. As the cartoon series Tintin would strangely say, “YAHOOO!” 

"I LITERALLY cannot wait until Steve lets me stop doing all this publicity stuff."
 -Jamie Bell