February 28, 2011

The A-Word - 2010

Director: Lindsay Ellis

"Please do not assume my decision was easy." In the fall of 2009, Lindsay Ellis, a 26-year old graduate student went through the painful process of having an abortion. The A Word follows Ellis as she opens up to her family and organizations from both sides of the debate, in search of healing. This is not a film about the protests and debates wrapped up in religious views and political agenda, but rather a personal journey about one woman’s struggle to shed the stigma attached to abortion in hopes of starting a dialogue.

Anyone familiar with the face of Ellis before now likely knows her as the Nostalgia Chick, an online commenter of movies and television from the halcyon days of yore. However, this documentary short proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is destined to become a great name in the industry. Ellis is able to do something in 25 minutes that many filmmakers go a lifetime without accomplishing: sharing something extremely close to her heart with the huddled masses. And as promised, she does so with no slant whatsoever, a stunning accomplishment for a documentary related to such a controversial topic. Unlike many student films, the production value was also more than adequate, so nearly every facet of this short was dead-on. My only problem was that there simply wasn't enough; I would gladly watch a feature version of this, if indeed enough additional footage exists to make that a reality. I can't wait to see what Ellis's career has in store for eager audiences everywhere.

Anyone interested in further information about this film can either go to the director's blog (specifically this post) or the official site here.

February 23, 2011

Barney's Version - 2011

Director: Richard J. Lewis
Writer: Michael Konyves
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman, Rosamund Pike

"In the beginning, it's all briskets and blowjobs, ain't life grand, yadda yadda, but then real life happens." Told mostly through flashback, this film tells the story of cantankerous Canadian TV producer Barney Panofsky (Giamatti) throughout his three marriages--mostly the third--and unfortunate onset of dementia late in life.

Much like Casino Jack, this is one of those movies that has a really strong central performance, but other element are a bit lacking. Some story elements get introduced and dropped without much notice (including Barney's three friends that all mysteriously disappear after his second wedding). However, any discrepancy is overshadowed by the tour de force that is Giamatti, especially the chemistry with Hoffman as his father; the makeup is certainly NOT the only thing that should be Oscar-nominated. A-

2011 Academy Awards nominees

Bolded selections are who I expect to win; underlined selections are those I wish would win. I only made a prediction in the categories for which I did not see a majority of the films.

Best PictureBest Director
Best ActorBest Actress
Best Supporting ActorBest Supporting Actress
Best Writing – Original ScreenplayBest Writing – Adapted Screenplay
Best Animated FeatureBest Foreign Language Film
Best Documentary – FeatureBest Documentary – Short Subject
Best Live Action Short FilmBest Animated Short Film
Best Original ScoreBest Original Song
Best Sound EditingBest Sound Mixing
Best Art DirectionBest Cinematography
Best MakeupBest Costume Design
Best Film EditingBest Visual Effects