Thursday, December 16, 2010

Screen Actors Guild nominations announced

As the countdown to the Oscars continues, the Screen Actors Guild has announced their nominations. Topping the list is The King's Speech and The Fighter with four nominations each, followed by Black Swan with three.

Best Ensemble nominations went to Black Swan, The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, and The Social Network. While the category is the actors' equivalent of Best Picture, it's a rough gauge of the Oscar's top nominations because so many films may be driven by a solo performance, writing, directing, or other production values.

Best Actor nominations went to Jeff Bridges for True Grit, Robert Duvall for Get Low, Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network, Colin Firth for The King's Speech, and James Franco for 127 Hours. Best Actress nominations went to Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right, Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole, Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone, Natalie Portman for Black Swan, and Hilary Swank for Conviction.

Check out the full list of nominees.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The movies of 2010 ... in six minutes

Youtube user Genrocks has created an absolutely brilliant six-minute video mashup of over 200 films released in 2010. Check it out:

The films clips are from, in order:

01. Iron Man 2; 02. The Social Network; 03. Saw 3D; 04. TRON: Legacy; 05. Never Let Me Go; 06. Legion; 07. The Book of Eli; 08. Easy A; 09. The Runaways; 10. Farewell; 11. Kick-Ass; 12. Jonah Hex; 13. Harry Brown; 14. The Sorceror’s Apprentice; 15. Percy Jackson & The Olympics: The Lightning Thief; 16. Despicable Me; 17. Stone; 18. Dinner For Schmucks; 19. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1; 20. Hereafter; 21. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; 22. Black Swan; 23. Howl; 24. Faster; 25. Casino Jack; 26. Casino Jack and the United States of Money; 27. Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, and Rebel; 28. Waiting for Superman; 29. Inception; 30. Resident Evil: Afterlife; 31. The Town; 32. The Expendables; 33. The A-Team; 34. The American; 35. The Concert; 36. The Tempest; 37. Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang; 38. The Tourist; 39. Metropia; 40. Burlesque; 41. Love Ranch; 42. Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer; 43. The Warrior’s Way; 44. Twelve; 45. Going The Distance; 46. Chain Letter; 47. Catfish; 48. Machete; 49. Step Up 3D; 50. Devil; 51. Clash of the Titans; 52. Countdown to Zero; 53. Jackass 3D; 54. Alice in Wonderland; 55. Buried; 56. Red; 57. Mesrine; 58. Predators; 59. MacGruber; 60. Robin Hood; 61. Green Zone; 62. The Way Back; 63. Due Date; 64. Daybreakers; 65. Knight and Day; 66. Heartbreaker; 67. The Karate Kid; 68. Secretariat; 69. Middle Men; 70. Repo Men; 71. Hot Tub Time Machine; 72. All Good Things; 73. Skyline; 74. Animal Kingdom; 75. Fair Game; 76. Paper Man; 77. Eclipse; 78. Megamind; 79. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; 80. True Grit; 81. Accidents Happen; 82. Date Night; 83. Perrier’s Bounty; 84. Killers; 85. How To Train Your Dragon; 86. The Other Guys; 87. Unstoppable; 88. Leap Year; 89. Cop Out; 90. When In Rome; 91. Centurion; 92. Salt; 93. Takers; 94. Barney’s Version; 95. Diary of a Wimpy Kid; 96. The Winning Season; 97. Just Wright; 98. Legendary; 99. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest; 100. Ong Bak 3; 101. Rogues Gallery; 102. Defendor; 103. District 13: Ultimatum; 104. Conviction; 105. The Losers; 106. The Disappearance of Alice Creed; 107. Brooklyn’s Finest; 108. Wild Target; 109. Four Lions; 110. The King’s Speech; 111. Boogie Woogie; 112. 127 Hours; 113. Somewhere; 114. Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll; 115. Letters to Juliet; 116. The Kids are All Right; 117. Sex and the City 2; 118. Vampires Suck; 119. Love and Other Drugs; 120. Life As We Know It; 121. Blue Valentine; 122. Jolene; 123. The Extra Man; 124. The Last Song; 125. Our Family Wedding; 126. Morning Glory; 127. Greenberg; 128. Remember Me; 129. Please Give; 130. Certified Copy; 131. The Last Exorcism; 132. Peacock; 133. Flipped; 134. Cemetery Junction; 135. I Love You Phillip Morris; 136. Toy Story 3; 137. The Romantics; 138. Welcome to the Rileys; 139. I’m Still Here; 140. Get Him To The Greek; 141. The Yellow Handkerchief; 142. The Greatest; 143. The Virginity Hit; 144. Furry Vengeance; 145. Eat Pray Love; 146. Don McKay; 147. Solitary Man; 148. Cyrus; 149. Case 39; 150. Dear John; 151. The Good Guy; 152. Jack Goes Boating; 153. You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger; 154. Leaves of Grass; 155. How Do You Know; 156. Death at a Funeral; 157. Tamara Drewe; 158. The Killer Inside Me; 159. The Back-Up Plan; 160. Another Year; 161. Great Directors; 162. The Ghost Writer; 163. Splice; 164. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale; 165. The Wolfman; 166. Piranha; 167. A Nightmare on Elm Street; 168. Charlie St. Cloud; 169. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time; 170. Biutiful; 171. The Lovely Bones; 172. Monsters; 173. Cairo Time; 174. The Crazies; 175. Valhalla Rising; 176. Ondine; 177. It’s Kind Of A Funny Story; 178. Stolen Lives; 179. Creation; 180. Chloe; 181. The Debt; 182. Princess Ka’iulani; 183. Like Dandelion Dust; 184. Shutter Island; 185. Inhale; 186. Heartless; 187. Rabbit Hole; 188. Let Me In; 189. Hemingway’s Garden of Eden; 190. The Fighter; 191. From Paris With Love; 192. Shrek Forever After; 193. The Next Three Days; 194. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole; 195. Spring Fever; 196. Stonewall Uprising; 197. Smash His Camera; 198. My Soul To Take; 199. Life During Wartime; 200. The Joneses; 201. Mr. Nobody; 202. The Good Heart; 203. The Lottery; 204. Leaving; 205. Night Catches Us; 206. Nowhere Boy; 207. Babies; 208. Barry Munday; 209. Tooth Fairy; 210. Yogi Bear; 211. The Borrowers; 212. You Again; 213. Standing Ovation; 214. Soul Kitchen; 215. Multiple Sarcasms; 216. The Nutcracker in 3D; 217. The Last Airbender; 218. Youth in Revolt; 219. Edge of Darkness; 220. Last Night; 221. Extraordinary Measures; 222. Ramona and Beezus; 223. Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore; 224. Alpha and Omega; 225. Tangled; 226. Marmaduke; 227. Grown Ups; 228. Inside Job; 229. Gulliver’s Travels; 230. The Spy Next Door; 231. The Dry Land; 232. Tiny Furniture; 233. La mission; 234. City Island; 235. Letters to God; 236. She’s Out of My League; 237. Lottery Ticket; 238. Wonderful World; 239. The Infidel; 240. Holy Rollers; 241. Why Did I Get Married Too?; 242. Paranormal Activity 2; 243. Frozen; 244. The Switch; 245. Finding Bliss; 246. Made in Dagenham; 247. For Colored Girls; 248. Crazy on the Outside; 249. The Last Station; 250. The Bounty Hunter; 251. I’m Here; 252. I Am Love; 253. Red Hill; 254. Country Strong; 255. Peepli Live; 256. Oceans; 257. Sanctum; 258. Little Fockers; 259. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work; 260. Exit Through The Gift Shop; 261. Winter’s Bone; 262. Get Low; 263. Fish Tank; 264. Valentine’s Day; 265. The Tillman Story; 266. The Company Men; 267. Tales from Earthsea; 268. Spoken Word; 269. To Save A Life; 270. Hubble 3D;

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"The King's Speech" leads Golden Globes nominations

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced their nominations for the 68th annual Golden Globes awards, and The King's Speech leads with seven nominations, including Best Drama and Colin Firth for Best Actor.

Additional Best Drama nominations went to Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, and The Social Network. Best Comedy/Musical nominations went to Alice in Wonderland, Burlesque, The Kids Are All Right, Red, and The Tourist.

In addition to Colin Firth's Best Acting nod, additional Best Actor in a Drama nominations went to Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network, James Franco for 127 Hours, Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine, and MarkWahlberg for The Fighter. Best Actress in a Drama nominations went to Halle Berry for Frankie and Alice, Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole, Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone, Natalie Portman for Black Swan, and Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine.

Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical nominations went to Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right, Anne Hathaway for Love and Other Drugs, Angelina Jolie for The Tourist, Julianne Moore for The Kids Are All Right, and Emma Stone for Easy A. Best Acting nods went to Johnny Depp for Alice in Wonderland, Johnny Depp for The Tourist, Paul Giamatti for Barney's Version, Jake Gyllenhaal for Love and Other Drugs, and Kevin Spacey for Casino Jack.

You can find the complete list of Golden Globe nominees on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's website.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Critics Choice Awards

Natalie Portman's film Black Swan topped the Broadcast Film Critics Association's Critics' Choice Awards nominations, with a record 12 nominations including one for Best Picture. Additional nominations for the film included Portman for Best Actress and Mila Kunis for Supporting Actress, as well as additional nominations for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and more.

The King's Speech and True Grit each received 11 nominations. Inception received 10 nominations. The Social Network received nine, including Jesse Eisenberg's first Best Actor nomination for a film that has cemented his acting creds.

The BFCA represents 250 film critics in the United States and Canada working in television, radio, and online media. In their press release announcing the nominations, they claim their awards are the best predictors of Oscar winners:

Historically, the Critics' Choice Movie Awards are the most accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations. All four major acting category winners at the Academy Awards in 2010 were first Critics' Choice Movie Awards winners in the same categories and were present at the January 15, 2010 ceremony to graciously give their first acceptance speeches of the awards season.

We shall see if their track record holds true. Check out the full list of nominations on their site.

Los Angeles Film Critics Awards 2010

The end of the year holiday season also brings the beginning of the year's movie awards season, and one of the first out of the gate is the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, which just announced their winners for films released in 2010.

Topping the list is The Social Network, the film about the founding of Facebook. In addition to being named Best Picture for 2010, it also won Best Screenplay and tied for both Best Director and Best Music Score.

The award for Best Actor went to Colin Firth for The King's Speech, while Kim Hye-Ja won Best Actress for Mother. Supporting Actor went to Niels Arestrup for The Prophet, and Supporting Actress went to Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom.

Check out all of the winners and runners up on the Los Angeles Film Critics 2010 Awards page.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Movie Reviews: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

An epic of epic epicness.

Michael Cera manages to turn his always delightful hapless-in-love persona into an action hero in this big screen adaptation of Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novels when he discovers, after starting to fall for a new girl, that he must defeat her seven evil exes in order to win her heart.

The film itself is presented as part video game, part graphic novel, a clever approach that helps rather than hinders the final film. Anything less might have made the film seem like it was taking itself too seriously. The ensemble cast in wonderful (including Cosmo fave and now Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick). The cinematography and effects are good. But even so, something dragged with the script. Something felt lacking. I wish I could put my finger about what it was, but I really can't. All I really have, in the end, is a feeling. In the end, I felt satisfied but a little underwhelmed after all the hype. Still recommended, but I'm glad I waited for video.

My Grade: B

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Movie Reviews: Let Me In

Innocence dies. Abby doesn't.

A young boy who is the victim of bullies befriends a neighbor girl who is a vampire.

I went to this film with friends expecting the typical horror/thriller vampire film. I was delighted to find that it was more of an artistic drama with suspenseful elements than a traditional horror film.

Let me begin by saying that I have not seen the original Swedish film, nor have I read the book on which the films are based. But I am not such a purist that demands that nothing ever be remade. Sir Patrick Stewart once said in an interview, after co-starring in HBO's remake of the classic film The Lion in Winter, that great scripts deserved to be remade, just as there are dozens of remakes and restagings of Shakespeare's plays. Directors and actors should have an opportunity to bring their interpretations to great roles. And we've found in the United States that remakes can introduce a film to an audience too young for the original or too impatient to read subtitles. I believe audiences can appreciate multiple iterations of a film.

A film like this shouldn't be over-discussed for fear of spoilers. But let me just say that the camera work is amazing, with shots taken at unexpected angles or with unexpected parts of the frame out of focus. Some may find those elements a little too artsy, but I loved it and felt it added to the director's interpretation.

Kodi Smit-McPhee, the young actor who plays the protagonist, Owen, is an absolutely amazing actor, as his co-star, Chloe Moretz. They may very well both make my Best Actor/Actress lists. It will certainly top my list for Best Myster/Suspense/Horror/Thriller, very like for Best Cinematography (if the category survives), and very likely make my list for Best Drama as well.

My Grade: A

Friday, September 24, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Movie Reviews: Vampires Suck

Some sagas just won't die.

Directed by: Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer

Written by: Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer

Starring: Jenn Proske, Matt Lanter, Diedrich Bader, Chris Riggi, Ken Jeong, Anneliese van der Pol

In this spoof of vampire movies, Becca moves to the Pacific Northwest, where she becomes torn between her love for a vampire and a werewolf.

I am in general a fan of movies that parody genre films, though none of Friedberg and Selzer's other films (Scary Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie, and so forth) quite live up to the classic Not Another Teen Movie, which was not one of theirs.

But Vampires Suck was absolutely dreadful. I've finally found a 2010 film worst than Legion.

I'll admit that I saw it by accident. I had several hours to kill waiting for a prescription to be filled, so I walked to the closest movie theater. This was the only movie that I didn't have to wait two hours for. But even so, I genuinely tried to like it. Alas, there was simply nothing funny about it.

It's hard to even characterize it as a parody of the vampire genre. It is, instead, simply a parody of the first two Twilight films, almost a frame-by-frame retelling of them, with only the barest of references to The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The films they are parodying were dreadful to begin with, but I finally found a film is even worse than the Twilight films themselves.

Twilight fans will hate that it's making fun of their franchise; Twilight foes will hate that it's too similar. No one will like this film. No one.

This is probably the harshest review I've ever written about anything. I'm not sorry. The tagline "some sagas just won't die" is sadly apt.

My grade: F

Trailers: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Part one of the seventh book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is scheduled to come to the silver screen in November of 2010, with part two being released in July of 2011.

When the first film was released, it was overshadowed at the Cosmique Movie Awards by Peter Jackson's translation of one of the seminal fantasy franchises of all time: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. And the next two Harry Potter films were naturally also overshadowed by the second and third Lord of the Rings films.

It wasn't until the 2005 awards that a Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, would win a Cosmo for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Film. The series is getting darker now, and without a Lord of the Rings film to compete against, will the Deathly Hallows resonate with Cosmo voters?

Check out the trailer to see for yourself:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Movie Reviews: Piranha 3D

There's something in the water.

Directed by: Alexandre Aja

Written by: Pete Goldfinger & Josh Stolberg

Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames, Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd, Eli Roth, Jerry O'Connell, Steven R. McQueen, Jessica Szohr, Kelly Brook, Riley Steele, Adam Scott, Ricardo Chavira

When an underwater tremor opens a cavern filled with pre-historic man-eating piranhas just as a desert lake is about to celebrate spring break, a group of locals and tourists must work together struggle to survive the fanged fish.

Begin by accepting this movie for what it is. It is not Sophie's Choice. It's not even Jaws (despite a cameo homage by Richard Dreyfuss -- and the fact that he gets top billing for such a small cameo speaks volumes). With an Oscar winner (Dreyfuss) and nominee (Elizabeth Shue), one might have been tempted to expect more, but you only have to glance at the trailers (or even the poster) to immediately lower your expectations. It's a cheesy T&A horror film with so much female T&A that it could easily be mistaken for something filmed for Cinemax.

Nevertheless, as cheesy thriller films go, it's passably enjoyable in that vein. Yes, the male T&A is virtually nonexistent while the female T&A is so nonstop that a purveyor of lesbian porn for a straight male audience could hardly have added more. The suspense is hardly suspenseful, but the jump scenes, while entirely predictable, were nevertheless jumpy.

Halfway through this movie, I began to lament that not enough people had died. I needn't have worried; within moments, the mayhem had become so exaggerated that I couldn't stop giggling.

The cast for the most part do a good job with shaky material. Shue plays the small-town sheriff trying to protect spring breakers from a then-unidentified menace in the water. Steven R. McQueen (The Vampire Diaries) plays her son who, in perhaps my biggest complaint of the film, remains extremely overdressed in board shorts as other female co-stars expose their breasts, vaginas, and what they ate for lunch (or ... what ate them for lunch). Jerry O'Connell appropriately overacts as a sort of Girls Gone Wild-esque soft core porn producer, while Christopher Lloyd inappropriately overacts to the point of irritation.

Bear in mind that my grade mitigates for what the film strives for. Had it aimed higher, the grade would have been lower.

My grade: C-

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Movie Reviews: Shutter Island

Someone is missing.

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Written by: Laeta Kalogridis (screenplay); Dennis Lehane (novel)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams
U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner (Mark Ruffalo) must investigate the disappearance of a female inmate from Shutter Island, an institution for the criminally insane.
We need to be careful with films like this to avoid providing too many spoilers, and that can make a review challenging. Let it suffice to say that while Leonardo DiCaprio is a great actor and Martin Scorsese is a great director, there's a reason this film was released so early in the year, long before the Oscar-bait season: the twists just aren't that twisty.
Still, the acting is excellent and worth considering. It might not make Best Drama, depending what comes later in the year, but it could well make it in the Thriller category. It's "Historical" only in the sense that it takes place in an identifiable time period, but is not based on true events, but for many voters that might be sufficient. And it could even be considered for "Best Use of (Gratuitous?) Nudity," though the male nudity, while full frontal, is fleeting and hardly sexy.

My grade: B

Movie Reviews: Legion

When the last angel falls, the fight for mankind begins.

Directed by: Scott Charles Stewart

Written by: Peter Schink and Scott Charles Stewart

Starring: Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palicki, Willa Holland, Kate Walsh, Kevin Durand, Charles S. Dutton, Dennis Quaid, Jon Tenney

When God first tried to destroy mankind, he used a flood. This time he's sending ... angels?


This has to be one of the dumbest movies I've ever seen. It feels like it was originally written to be about demons attacking mankind but then some subsequent scriptwriter thought he'd be clever and switch it up a bit. I realize now that it's based on a comic book, so the premise didn't change overly much. Somehow that makes it even worse. I can't imagine how the premise alone got green-lighted.

If I end up seeing five films that are actually worse than this and knock it off the Worst Films of 2010 list, it will be a very bad year indeed. But I doubt it's possible to find five worse films this year.

My grade: D-

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Movie Reviews: Hot Tub Time Machine

Kick some past

Directed by: Steve Pink

Written by: Josh Heald, Sean Anders, John Morris

Starring: John Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, Ron Corddy, Sebastian Stan, Lyndsy Fonseca, Crispin Glover, Chevy Chase

Four friends, depressed about the direction of their lives, revisit an old, favorite vacation spot and find themselves whisked back to 1986 with the potential to rewrite history.

John Cusack has starred in some great films. This is not one of them.

To be honest, I sort of went to this movie by accident. It was circumstantial. I was a little depressed and also needed to kill a lot of time out of the house, and I decided a comedic movie was the best way to do so. I had a gift card I wanted to use, which limited the theaters I could go to, and this film happened to be playing at the right theater and at the right time.

My expectations going into it were very low, but I'm pleased to report that it was better than I was expecting. Not that it's actually a great film, but I had set my expectations suitably low and therefore was lightly amused for 90 minutes.

The premise is somewhat silly (hot tub goes on the fritz because of a banned Russian energy drink?), and the hijinks in the past ... well, it's safe to say that the trailer probably covered the best of them. It's hard to imagine pushing this for any of the positive awards. But I guess that depends on how the year turns out.

My grade: C

Hall of Fame Spotlight: Dustin Hoffman

At the first Cosmique Movie Awards, when all of the categories were for lifetime achievements, Dustin Hoffman was a surprise win for Best Actor of All Time, and the first inductee in the Best Actors Hall of Fame.

The prolific actor of such great films as All the President's Men, Kramer vs. Kramer, Tootsie, and Rain Man, competed against a number of other favorite actors, including Cary Grant, Jack Nicholson, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, and Donald Sutherland. Grant and Stewart were inducted into the Hall of Fame at the second and third awards respectively.

Despite Hoffman's appeal to Cosmo voters and his ongoing acting career, his first award represents his sole nomination at the Cosmique Movie Awards.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hall of Fame Spotlight: Katharine Hepburn

At our very first Cosmique Movie Awards in 2001, we chose to make every category a lifetime achievement award, with nominees available from any year. Three of those categories were intended to be Hall of Fame Awards, with new inductees added each year. We've already mentioned that The Wizard of Oz was inducted as the very first Best Films of All Time Hall of Famer.

The very first inductee into the Best Actresses of All Time Hall of Fame was the indomitable Katharine Hepburn. At the time, she had achieved more Academy Award nominations (twelve) than any other actress, a milestone subsequently surpassed by future Hall of Famer Meryl Streep.

At the first awards, Katharine was also nominated for Best Individual Performance by an Actress of All Time for her portrayal of Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter, but lost to Rosalind Russell for her titular performance in Auntie Mame. The Lion in Winter was also nominated for Best One Liner or Camp Quote in Movie History for a line she utters: "Of course he has a knife - we all have knives. It's the twelfth century and we're all barbarians!"

Perhaps another sign of the Cosmo's love of Katharine can be gleaned from the 2004 supporting actress win by Cate Blanchett for her spot-on portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator. Blanchett also won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for the performance.

In her lifetime and even afterwards, Katharine Hepburn is one of the most celebrated actresses of all time. She's won four Academy Awards (twelve nominations), two BAFTA Awards (five nominations), an Emmy Award (five nominations), four Golden Globe nominations, the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, two Golden Laurel Awards (four nominations), two People's Choice Awards, an American Comedy Lifetime Achievement Award, and was named Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year in 1958.

Movie Reviews: Clash of the Titans (2010)

Between gods and men, the clash begins.

Directed by: Louis Letterrier

Written by: Travis Beacham, Phil Hay, and Matt Manfredi (2010 screenplay); Beverley Cross (1981 screenplay)

Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Feinnes, Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton, Alexa Davalos

After surviving being cast to sea as an infant only to watch his adoptive father be killed by Hades, the demigod Perseus, son of Zeus, embarks on a quest to rescue Andromeda from the Kraken and avenge the death of his family. The tale loosely -- very loosely -- intermingles many different stories from Greek mythology.

The 2010 remake of the somewhat more campy 1981 film of the same name follows the general outline of the original, but with significant plot differences that will keep it fresh for fans of the original. That said, "fresh" doesn't always mean "better" or even "good." The film suffers from a lack of character development, a horrible score, and especially from a surprisingly weak script.

I've never quibbled (over-much, at least) with the liberties that either script took with the Greek myths it lifts from. Perseus is indeed cast into the sea, but (as is common in Greek mythology), it was due to fears of a prophesy rather than jealousy. Perseus does, indeed, slay the Medusa in order to save Andromeda from a sea creature after receiving advice from three Gray Sisters (misnamed the Norns in the film) who share one eye. But other elements come from other myths. The scorpions are lifted from the myth of Orion. The winged horse Pegasus is only ridden in Bellerophon's myth and only makes a cameo in Perseus' story (it is born from Medusa's blood when Perseus slays her). Perseus instead flies with the aid of Hermes' winged sandals. Io (who in her own myth is turned into a cow by Zeus to hide her from Hera's wrath) never appears in Perseus' tale. And two elements never appear in any Greek myths. Calibos is a pure invention that may draw from Shakespeare's Caliban from "The Tempest." And while Andromeda is beset by a sea creature, it is named Cetus; the name for the Kraken comes from Scandinavian mythology.

But none of these changes are that material. It's an original tale that draws loosely from multiple mythological tales and can be enjoyed in that light. Where it suffers is from its failure to make the audience truly care about most of the characters. Sam Worthington (perhaps best remembered as the hero in Avatar) gives some life and humanity to Perseus, but even his characterization is a little too stilted to make us care that much about his fate. And as a special effects film, there's nothing truly epic film that makes it stand out from predecessors in its genres. The effects are nice but not particularly innovative, and there's nothing in the film that will make it go down as a classic. Fun summer popcorn film, but ultimately rentable.

My grade: B-

Movie Reviews: Toy Story 3

No toy gets left behind.

Directed by: Lee Unkrich

Written by: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich (story); Michael Arndt (screenplay)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris, John Morris, Jodi Benson, Laurie Metcalf

When the toys are accidentally donated to a day care center as Andy is about to leave for college, it's up to Woody to convince the other toys to escape and try to return.

It's been 15 years since the original "Toy Story" and 11 since its only other sequel ... but it was well worth the wait for "Toy Story 3."

"Toy Story 3" retains the freshness and innovation that has been Pixar's hallmark since their very first film, the first "Toy Story." Some of the older toys are now gone (like Bo Peep, originally voiced by Annie Potts), but most of the remaining cast are back, including Tom Hanks as Woody, Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, and even John Morris, the original Andy, as now-17-year-old Andy.

Like many successful children's films, the writing has layers of nuance that will allow adults to enjoy it in ways that children won't catch. That makes it a great cross-over film. When I went, at least half of the audience were adults without children in tow. But while it's a great film for adults, it's a bit dark and scary for young children. I might hesitate to bring a child under the age of 7 to see this. And yes, I cried. Twice.

My grade: A

Monday, July 26, 2010

The ultimate movie of 2010?

We're halfway through the summer of 2010. What's shaping up to be the ultimate movie?

The folks at Screen Rant have their own take on it with this mash-up trailer blending bits and pieces from the trailers of this year's summer releases:

I stumbled across this simply because I felt someone had to have done something like it. Sure enough, someone had -- in fact, many people have. Here's someone else's take on the same idea:

What's your favorite film of the summer so far?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Movie Reviews: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

You have a very important date.

Directed by: Tim Burton

Written by: Linda Woolverton (screenplay); Lewis Carroll (books)

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman

In this latest collaboration between director Tim Burton, his muse Johnny Depp, and his wife Helena Bonham Carter, Alice is now a 19-year old woman who stumbles back into Wonderland and is thrust into a war between the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and the White Queen (Anne Hathaway).

There are many things about this latest Tim Burton film that are brilliant. The film is truly a visual feast, sumptuous to the eyes, and had it been released ten years ago it would have been hailed as a masterpiece.

But visual effects are no longer enough to sustain a film for audiences already exposed to films like "The Lord of the Rings" and "Avatar," and the movie sadly falls short in other key elements. The script does provide a much-need plot and structure absent from Lewis Carroll's original "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" stories, which were part of a genre called literary nonsense in which characters traipsed from adventure to adventure without rhyme or reason. But while the plot -- the conflict between the White Queen deposed by her sister, the Red Queen -- is engaging, it is nevertheless overly long and sags a bit. Johnny Depp, a perennial favorite among Cosmo voters, doesn't bring enough "newness" to the role of the Mad Hatter to sufficiently distinguish it from many of his other wacky roles. Anne Hathaway, an actress we've adored in "Ella Enchanted" and "Brokeback Mountain," is delightful as the White Queen, but her deliberately overly-theatrical mannerisms eventually become a little annoying.

The other actors are all fine (Alan Rickman's voice could seduce me simply reading the phone book), but two stood out for me. The first is Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat. Oh, sure, I've always had a fondness for that character, but there was something indescribable about Fry's portrayal that was so delightful. (And it's not because I love Fry, which I do; I didn't recognize his voice and had to look up the credits on IMDB afterwards.) And the second, and most important, was Helena Bonham Carter, who was spot-on brilliant as the Red Queen. She will certainly make my list for Best Villain of 2010, and quite possibly make my list for other acting categories as well.

My grade: B

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Most popular Cosmo actor is ... Ian Somerhalder?

The most popular actor on the Cosmique Movie Awards website, based on keywords bringing people to the site and the most trafficked pages, isn't Hall of Fame winners like Katharine Hepburn or Cary Grant. It isn't frequent nominees like Cate Blanchett or Ian McKellan.

The most popular actor on the Cosmo site is Ian Somerhalder, nominated in 2002 for Actor's Character You Would Most Like to be Intimate With for his performance in The Rules of Attraction.

The film was a bit of a sleeper; the Cosmos only nominated it for one other award (Best Cinematography or Art Direction, no doubt for the split-screen scene that included James Van der Beek on the toilet). And it was Ian's sole nomination ever for the Cosmo Awards.

But now, following his short-lived role on Lost and his teen-favorite role on TV's The Vampire Diaries, he's riding a new wave of popularity that driving folks to our website, no doubt amongst many others.

For the record, Natalie Portman and Halle Barry are also very popular.

One more photo of Ian Somerhalder, this time from The Rules of Attraction:

The Wizard of Oz

As we introduce new readers to the Cosmique Movie Awards, we want to profile some of the big winners from the past.

Our first awards in 2001 we all Lifetime Achievement awards, and the top award for Best Film of All Time was also inducted into our Best Films Hall of Fame. The first winner, and inductee, went to The Wizard of Oz, the 1939 classic musical starring Judy Garland. Its success probably speaks volumes about the Cosmo voters.

The Wizard of Oz beat out a number of other great films, including All About Eve, Chinatown, A Letter to Three Wives, and Nashville. It was also nominated for three other lifetime achievement awards, winning all of them, including:

The Best Movie Musical award was shared with Singin' in the Rain, while Best Film Villain was shared with both Glenn Close for Dangerous Liaisons and Anthony Hopkins for Silence of the Lambs.

Welcome to the Cosmique Movie Awards blog!

In 2001, a bunch of friends -- many who were part of the Cosmique Krewe of Colour, a private Mardi Gras krewe in the San Francisco Bay Area -- decided at an Academy Awards party to have our own movie awards. Ballots were handed out for attendees to vote on their favorite movies, performances, performers, characters, and movie scenes. As this was the inaugural year for the awards, we decided that a fair amount of catching up was needed, so the nominations that first year were open to films of all time, rather than those released that calendar year.

Categories ranged from the serious (like Best Movie of All Time) to the rediculous (like Most Surprising Performance by an Actor or Actress That You Never Thought Was Very Good, but They Really Surprised You With This Particularly Good Performance). We likened it to blending the gravitas of the Academy Awards with the irreverence of the MTV Movie Awards.

Subsequent years have focused on films released the previous calendar year (with the exception of a few lifetime achievement awards each year).

Since the first year, membership has grown to scores of members. The membership list is kept confidential and admission is by invitation only. Members of the Academy come from all walks of life, but share a certain sensibility. Most of the members (but not all) are in San Francisco. They are disproportionately (but by no means exclusively) gay, lesbian, or bisexual. They are primarily (though not completely) disassociated with the film industry, except as fans. Membership is restricted, but there are no membership fees. Members are not expected to see all of the potential or actual nominees, though many make a point of doing so. The Cosmos operate under the philosophy that what we choose to honor is as much about what draws us to the cinemas as it is about what we liked when we got there.

Each year, the Cosmique Movie Academy's Board of Governors selects the categories that will be used that year. This may include creating new categories or, in rare instances, retiring others. Each year, another film, actor, and actress is inducted into the Hall of Fame. In some years, additional lifetime achievement categories may also be offered from time to time, usually as a special one-time-only award. But most of the awards are dedicated to films and performances from the previous calendar year.

After the awards celebrating films from 2006, the awards went dormant for a time. We're back! We're ready to celebrate the films of 2010, so head out to the theater and keep notes! And we're hoping to recruit more like-minded voters.