Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

David Elliott Guesses the Oscars

In Cedar Rapids, Ed Helms learns that life can be more than cheese and warm socks.
In Cedar Rapids, Ed Helms learns that life can be more than cheese and warm socks.

As a prophet, I am a dubious Nostradamus. But I will guess the Oscars. This is an itch that must be scratched.

My regard for “the Academy” is much like that of nominee Melissa Leo (The Fighter) in her recent remark, “This entire awards process, to some degree, is about pimping yourself out.” That sounds sensible, given Oscar’s history, but it may have damaged Leo’s chance for a prize next Sunday.

Perhaps some of her voters have fled (please!) to my favorite, Helena Bonham Carter of The King’s Speech. To quote wise old Blaise Pascal, “The heart has its reasons,” and the fair Helena nailed down my loyalty simply by the regal but motherly way she said, “Very good, archbishop.” For humor and sense, we will not see a better acceptance speech than hers at the BAFTAs (British awards).

For the 83rd Oscars, my choices of likely winners are set in bold. Those marked (X) are the ones I would vote for (in one group I split my vote):


MOVIE

Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech (X), 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone.


DIRECTOR

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan; Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit; David Fincher, The Social Network; Tom Hooper (X), The King’s Speech; David O. Russell, The Social Network.


ACTOR

Javier Bardem, Biutiful; Jeff Bridges, True Grit; Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network; Colin Firth (X), The King’s Speech; James Franco, 127 Hours.


ACTRESS

Annette Bening (X), The Kids Are All Right; Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole; Jennifer Lawrence (X), Winter’s Bone; Natalie Portman, Black Swan; Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine.


SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christian Bale, The Fighter; John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone; Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right; Geoffrey Rush (X), The King’s Speech.


SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams, The Fighter; Helena Bonham Carter (X), The King’s Speech; Melissa Leo, The Fighter; Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit; Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom.


I’d be delighted if Exit Through the Gift Shop is crowned best feature documentary, Madagascar: Carnet de Voyage wins as animated short, God of Love rules among live-action shorts, David Seidler is honored for writing The King’s Speech, Roger Deakins takes the cinematography prize for True Grit, and Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini share the adapted story award for Winter’s Bone.

Back in the trenches:


Cedar Rapids

Sometimes crude gags only stain the screen, as with No Strings Attached. In Cedar Rapids, they add up to comedy. How do you make a funny film about a convention of insurance salesmen? If you cannot enlist Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis, Preston Sturges, Terry Southern, Stanley Elkin, Tom Wolfe, or Christopher Buckley, you would do well to settle for Phil Johnston’s script, directed by Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt, Chuck & Buck). It is expertly cast and so Midwestern that your popcorn should come on a cob.

Ed Helms plays Tim Lippe, the kind of cheerful doof that Eddie Bracken once acted for Sturges. Despite regular sex with the veteran schoolteacher (Sigourney Weaver) he has adored since boyhood, Tim is essentially a virgin. He loves selling insurance in a small town and is sent to the annual convention in “big” Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Ordered by his boss to win a top award, Tim finds that the big wheel (Kurtwood Smith) is a Bible-thumping hypocrite. A black roommate (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) is a major growth lesson for the almost insanely Caucasian Tim. The rival (John C. Reilly) whom Tim has been told to avoid is a loud, preening vulgarian but then something more.

Arteta doesn’t overdo the Heartland banalities, and the women (Weaver, Anne Heche as a sharp conventioneer, Alia Shawkat as a wry prostitute) are sexy fun without becoming raunchy doodles. Helms slightly cartoons the Howdy Doody aspects of Tim, who finds that life can be more than cheese, warm socks, and actuarial tables, yet when he turns “O Holy Night” into an insurance anthem, it’s weirdly moving. Reilly has his best party-pig moments since Boogie Nights. Whitlock, a bankroll of nuances, redeems a clunky roadhouse sequence in an unexpected way (and, in character, credits his love of The Wire, on which the actor has appeared).

Cedar Rapids is often like a Christopher Guest comedy, yet less satirically rigged. It is adult in such an amusingly impish way that some crassness is not offensive. Finally, after 67 years, insurance salesmen escape the long, dark shadow of Double Indemnity.

★★★


Even the Rain

The chopper hauling a huge cross must be a nod to the helicoptered Christ in La Dolce Vita. More-esoteric cinephiles may notice ghostly traces of Dennis Hopper’s South American fiasco, The Last Movie. Nobody with a brain can miss the human, honorable, but obvious points of Even the Rain. Icíar Bollaín’s movie is about a film being shot among the Quechua peoples of Bolivia, a film about Columbus’s first impact on the Caribbean tribes. But the modern, Andean natives are soon in revolt against their water rights being “privatized” (looted) by multinational firms.

The director who feels driven to use Bolivia is played by Gael García Bernal, who famously played Che Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries (Guevara, even more famously, died in Bolivia). His producer is a hard realist (big, bald Luis Tosar), and it is Tosar who gets the most crucial actions with an Indian radical (film newcomer Juan Carlos Aduviri), vividly cast as main martyr of the movie-in-the-movie.

Bollaín’s film has its heart, and some art, in the right place. It is also like a term-paper keeping a train schedule. Ideas arrive on parallel rails: global firms are the new conquistadors; coveted gold is now water (no mention, I believe, of Bolivian silver); liberal, artistic conscience now subs for that of fabled Catholic priests; the highlanders represent all the hemisphere’s slaughtered victims (no mention of the chief culprit: disease). And the plot then turns on the fate of one child. This movie’s hooks are humane, but they are still hooks.

★★


Unknown

Unknown about Unknown: why anyone bothered. Liam Neeson comes to Berlin with his wife (January Jones). An accident slams him into a brief coma, and he awakens with spotty amnesia, his identity (and wife) stolen. He hustles through a trashy plot that is like a John le Carré thriller reduced to pencil smudges for the dullest fans of Steven Seagal: dumb surprises, chases, smash-ups, clues of limited use.

Jaume Collet-Serra, fresh from music videos, directed in the style of no-style (alas, not Zen). The suspense is just a more hyper-active coma, taking down Diane Kruger, Frank Langella, Aidan Quinn, and Sebastian Koch. A former East German police agent (Bruno Ganz) is credibly touching and exits memorably.



Cold Weather

There is chat about Sherlock Holmes and also some debt to Alfred Hitchcock. There is the tautness of a wee budget stretched. Dialogue lands midway between David Lynch and Jim Jarmusch. An enjoyable cast of unknowns (Cris Lankenau, Raúl Castillo, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Robyn Rikoon) deserves to be known. Their context is Cold Weather, a shaggy-dog mystery with a frisky tail. Aaron Katz seems to direct even the weather: chill, wet, gray, furthering slacker moods that cook some menacing possibilities.

The weather is in Portland, Oregon, and their chamber of commerce may not love the iron skies, cheap motels, dull apartments, and an ice factory in zones where tourism would be futile. The plot is all neo-noir zigs and furtive zags, with nibbles of romance and the slum-along hipsterism of mumblecore cinema. Katz knows how to tone and tease it, and Andrew Reed’s photography relishes the underbelly of Portland.

★★

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Ellen Sturgis Hooper: cited as the most gifted of the Transcendentalist Movement

Ralph Waldo Emerson often commissioned her to write verse for The Dial
Next Article

Nathan Fletcher, wife Lorena Gonzalez, and Ben Hueso roll in dough

Faulconer turns off police access to hidden cameras
In Cedar Rapids, Ed Helms learns that life can be more than cheese and warm socks.
In Cedar Rapids, Ed Helms learns that life can be more than cheese and warm socks.

As a prophet, I am a dubious Nostradamus. But I will guess the Oscars. This is an itch that must be scratched.

My regard for “the Academy” is much like that of nominee Melissa Leo (The Fighter) in her recent remark, “This entire awards process, to some degree, is about pimping yourself out.” That sounds sensible, given Oscar’s history, but it may have damaged Leo’s chance for a prize next Sunday.

Perhaps some of her voters have fled (please!) to my favorite, Helena Bonham Carter of The King’s Speech. To quote wise old Blaise Pascal, “The heart has its reasons,” and the fair Helena nailed down my loyalty simply by the regal but motherly way she said, “Very good, archbishop.” For humor and sense, we will not see a better acceptance speech than hers at the BAFTAs (British awards).

For the 83rd Oscars, my choices of likely winners are set in bold. Those marked (X) are the ones I would vote for (in one group I split my vote):


MOVIE

Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech (X), 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone.


DIRECTOR

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan; Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit; David Fincher, The Social Network; Tom Hooper (X), The King’s Speech; David O. Russell, The Social Network.


ACTOR

Javier Bardem, Biutiful; Jeff Bridges, True Grit; Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network; Colin Firth (X), The King’s Speech; James Franco, 127 Hours.


ACTRESS

Annette Bening (X), The Kids Are All Right; Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole; Jennifer Lawrence (X), Winter’s Bone; Natalie Portman, Black Swan; Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine.


SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christian Bale, The Fighter; John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone; Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right; Geoffrey Rush (X), The King’s Speech.


SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams, The Fighter; Helena Bonham Carter (X), The King’s Speech; Melissa Leo, The Fighter; Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit; Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom.


I’d be delighted if Exit Through the Gift Shop is crowned best feature documentary, Madagascar: Carnet de Voyage wins as animated short, God of Love rules among live-action shorts, David Seidler is honored for writing The King’s Speech, Roger Deakins takes the cinematography prize for True Grit, and Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini share the adapted story award for Winter’s Bone.

Back in the trenches:


Cedar Rapids

Sometimes crude gags only stain the screen, as with No Strings Attached. In Cedar Rapids, they add up to comedy. How do you make a funny film about a convention of insurance salesmen? If you cannot enlist Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis, Preston Sturges, Terry Southern, Stanley Elkin, Tom Wolfe, or Christopher Buckley, you would do well to settle for Phil Johnston’s script, directed by Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt, Chuck & Buck). It is expertly cast and so Midwestern that your popcorn should come on a cob.

Ed Helms plays Tim Lippe, the kind of cheerful doof that Eddie Bracken once acted for Sturges. Despite regular sex with the veteran schoolteacher (Sigourney Weaver) he has adored since boyhood, Tim is essentially a virgin. He loves selling insurance in a small town and is sent to the annual convention in “big” Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Ordered by his boss to win a top award, Tim finds that the big wheel (Kurtwood Smith) is a Bible-thumping hypocrite. A black roommate (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) is a major growth lesson for the almost insanely Caucasian Tim. The rival (John C. Reilly) whom Tim has been told to avoid is a loud, preening vulgarian but then something more.

Arteta doesn’t overdo the Heartland banalities, and the women (Weaver, Anne Heche as a sharp conventioneer, Alia Shawkat as a wry prostitute) are sexy fun without becoming raunchy doodles. Helms slightly cartoons the Howdy Doody aspects of Tim, who finds that life can be more than cheese, warm socks, and actuarial tables, yet when he turns “O Holy Night” into an insurance anthem, it’s weirdly moving. Reilly has his best party-pig moments since Boogie Nights. Whitlock, a bankroll of nuances, redeems a clunky roadhouse sequence in an unexpected way (and, in character, credits his love of The Wire, on which the actor has appeared).

Cedar Rapids is often like a Christopher Guest comedy, yet less satirically rigged. It is adult in such an amusingly impish way that some crassness is not offensive. Finally, after 67 years, insurance salesmen escape the long, dark shadow of Double Indemnity.

★★★


Even the Rain

The chopper hauling a huge cross must be a nod to the helicoptered Christ in La Dolce Vita. More-esoteric cinephiles may notice ghostly traces of Dennis Hopper’s South American fiasco, The Last Movie. Nobody with a brain can miss the human, honorable, but obvious points of Even the Rain. Icíar Bollaín’s movie is about a film being shot among the Quechua peoples of Bolivia, a film about Columbus’s first impact on the Caribbean tribes. But the modern, Andean natives are soon in revolt against their water rights being “privatized” (looted) by multinational firms.

The director who feels driven to use Bolivia is played by Gael García Bernal, who famously played Che Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries (Guevara, even more famously, died in Bolivia). His producer is a hard realist (big, bald Luis Tosar), and it is Tosar who gets the most crucial actions with an Indian radical (film newcomer Juan Carlos Aduviri), vividly cast as main martyr of the movie-in-the-movie.

Bollaín’s film has its heart, and some art, in the right place. It is also like a term-paper keeping a train schedule. Ideas arrive on parallel rails: global firms are the new conquistadors; coveted gold is now water (no mention, I believe, of Bolivian silver); liberal, artistic conscience now subs for that of fabled Catholic priests; the highlanders represent all the hemisphere’s slaughtered victims (no mention of the chief culprit: disease). And the plot then turns on the fate of one child. This movie’s hooks are humane, but they are still hooks.

★★


Unknown

Unknown about Unknown: why anyone bothered. Liam Neeson comes to Berlin with his wife (January Jones). An accident slams him into a brief coma, and he awakens with spotty amnesia, his identity (and wife) stolen. He hustles through a trashy plot that is like a John le Carré thriller reduced to pencil smudges for the dullest fans of Steven Seagal: dumb surprises, chases, smash-ups, clues of limited use.

Jaume Collet-Serra, fresh from music videos, directed in the style of no-style (alas, not Zen). The suspense is just a more hyper-active coma, taking down Diane Kruger, Frank Langella, Aidan Quinn, and Sebastian Koch. A former East German police agent (Bruno Ganz) is credibly touching and exits memorably.



Cold Weather

There is chat about Sherlock Holmes and also some debt to Alfred Hitchcock. There is the tautness of a wee budget stretched. Dialogue lands midway between David Lynch and Jim Jarmusch. An enjoyable cast of unknowns (Cris Lankenau, Raúl Castillo, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Robyn Rikoon) deserves to be known. Their context is Cold Weather, a shaggy-dog mystery with a frisky tail. Aaron Katz seems to direct even the weather: chill, wet, gray, furthering slacker moods that cook some menacing possibilities.

The weather is in Portland, Oregon, and their chamber of commerce may not love the iron skies, cheap motels, dull apartments, and an ice factory in zones where tourism would be futile. The plot is all neo-noir zigs and furtive zags, with nibbles of romance and the slum-along hipsterism of mumblecore cinema. Katz knows how to tone and tease it, and Andrew Reed’s photography relishes the underbelly of Portland.

★★

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Claudia Gomez‘s sound showers with Trio Gadjo and Besos de Coco

“Playing again has lifted everyone’s spirits.”
Next Article

One or two puffs for the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health

And so starts the procession of questions.
Comments
1

WHAT DID HELENA CARTER DO THAT DESERVED NOMINATION?

Feb. 28, 2011

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close