Friday, February 22, 2013

An Oscar Voter's Brutally Honest Ballot

One director shares his choices, calling "Argo" a "whole lot of nothing," saying "Django Unchained" is "Tarantino masturbating" and passing on "Amour" because "there's only so much diaper-changing I can tolerate."

by Anonymous, as told to Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter
February 20, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cool Black's Oscar Picks 2013

By Dankwa Brooks AKA Cool Black

For the first time in my recollection I have seen ALL of the films nominated for "Best Picture". Quite a feat since there are NINE this year. I have also seen several other films that I thought would get nominated so I have seen a majority of the entire Oscar nominated categories.

Since I have seen the majority of the nominated films (I will ONLY bold in red the correlating nominations that I have NOT seen.)

My pick will be under “Cool Black’s Oscar Pick:” These are NOT who I think WILL win; it’s who I think SHOULD win based on my opinion and those who know me, know I am quite discerning. While I do think some films were "omitted" I'll vote by the nominations as selected by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Every year I try to keep my Oscar picks as general as possible and try not to get to into the technical categories, but this year there are some I must mention and give my vote to. For the first time I’ll tell you who should get the Oscar for Production Design, Costume and Visual Effects.  

And now...the awards.

As a screenwriter two of my favorite categories are the two screenwriting ones. For the record:
The Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay is the Academy Award for the best script not based upon previously published material and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source (usually a novel, play, or short story but also sometimes another film). All sequels are automatically considered adaptations by this standard (since the sequel must be based on the original story).

This year what are usually the clear cut choices for me, the screenwriting awards, are the hardest.

(Adapted Screenplay)

Chris Terrio, adapted from the books The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez and The Great Escape by Joshuah Bearman

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, adapted from the play Juicy and Delicious by Lucy Alibar

Life of Pi
David Magee adapted from the book of the same name.

Tony Kushner adapted from the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Silver Linings Playbook
David O. Russell adapted from the book of the same name.

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild. The little I know about the play is it’s as abstract and fantastical as the film ‘Beasts’ and I thought they did a wonderful job at transforming that for the screen.

(Original Screenplay)

Michael Haneke for Amour 

Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained 

John Gatins for Flight 

Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for Moonrise Kingdom 

Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: Michael Haneke for Amour. While I liked the screenplays for Flight and Zero Dark Thirty, I thought the screenplay for Amour was wholly original and dealt with a subject not explored on the screen and depicted it with honesty and strength. 



ArgoWilliam Goldenberg
Life of PiTim Squyres
LincolnMichael Kahn
Silver Linings PlaybookJay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
Zero Dark ThirtyDylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: TIE William Goldenberg for Argo and … William Goldenberg again this time with Dylan Tichenor for Zero Dark Thirty. Both films had excellent climaxes and much of that was due to the editing in those climatic scenes. 

(Build and or design sets for the film)

Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer for Anna Karenina
Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent & Simon Bright for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Eve Stewart & Anna Lynch-Robinson for Les Misérables
David Gropman & Anna Pinnock for Life of Pi
Rick Carter & Jim Erickson for Lincoln

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: Eve Stewart & Anna Lynch-Robinson for Les MisérablesEven though I didn't see Anna Karenina and The Hobbit, the sets in Les Misérables were just outstanding especially the very last scene in the film.


Anna Karenina – Jacqueline Durran
Les MisérablesPaco Delgado
LincolnJoanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman Colleen Atwood

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick:  Colleen Atwood for Snow White and the Huntsman. While the costumes in Les Misérables were really great Chalize Theron’s costumes in SWATH were outstanding. 

(The special, often computer generated, effects for a film) 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, and R. Christopher White

Life of Pi Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, and Donald R. Elliott

Marvel's The Avengers Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, and Dan Sudick

PrometheusRichard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley, and Martin Hill

Snow White and the HuntsmanCedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould, and Michael Dawson

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: Life of PiBill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, and Donald R. Elliott. This was a hard category because the visual effects in The Avengers, Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman were all really great, but I had to pick the film with the most outstanding computer generated tiger I have ever seen. Without the great work on the tiger (a main character) the movie would have failed. 


Seamus McGarvey for Anna Karenina
Robert Richardson for Django Unchained
Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi
Janusz Kamiński for Lincoln
Roger Deakins for Skyfall

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick:  Roger Deakins for Skyfall. Some of the most stunning visuals and shots that I’ve seen in any picture 2012. Life of Pi had stunning visuals as well, but most of them were CGI, computer-generated imagery. The visuals in Skyfall were practical…or so they seemed. In any case great work by Mr. Deakins.



Alan Arkin in Argo 
Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook 
Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master
Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln  
Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln. I've seen all of these nominated performances and while all worthy, Tommy Lee Jones was outstanding in Lincoln and one of the best things about the film!  


Amy Adams in The Master
Sally Field in Lincoln
Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables
Helen Hunt in The Sessions
Jacki Weaver in Silver Linings Playbook

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: Helen Hunt in The Sessions. I've seen all of these nominated performances as well and again while all worthy, Helen Hunt gave a brave and nurturing performance in the film.

Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln 
Hugh Jackman, in Les Miserables 
Joaquin Phoenix in The Master
Denzel Washington in Flight

Cool Black’s Oscar PickJoaquin Phoenix in The Master. Daniel Day-Lewis was great as ever in Lincoln, Hugh Jackman, gave the performance of his life in Les Miserables and Denzel Washington gave one of his best performances in years in Flight, but it was Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in The Master that was just phenomenal. 

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva in Amour 
Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts in The Impossible

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: Emmanuelle Riva in Amour. Jessica Chastain was really great in Zero Dark Thirty and carried the whole picture; Jennifer Lawrence was great as ever in Silver Linings Playbook and one of the best things about the film, and Quvenzhané Wallis…she was truly remarkable at such a young age. I really loved her performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild, but if there was a better performance by an “Actress in a Leading Role” than Emmanuelle Riva in Amour in cinema 2012—I haven’t seen it. 



Michael Haneke for Amour
Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild
Ang Lee for Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: As I've seen all of these films I can say that all of these directors are worthy of their nominations. 

Michael Haneke did a really great job at conveying the love and angst of the couple in the middle of an adverse situation that many face as they get older. 

Ang Lee did a really great job at converting what many though was an in-adaptable book into a spiritual, visual delight. 

Steven Spielberg brought all of his cinematic mastery to capture the historical period piece and political dealings of Lincoln

David O. Russell did a great job of capturing mental illness and making it funny without turning it into satire or buffoonery in Silver Linings Playbook.

My PICK though has to be Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild. Zeitlin composed a cinematic feat that was touching, emotional and magical. 


Producers: Margaret Menegoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka and Michael Katz

Producers: Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, and George Clooney

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Producers: Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, and Michael Gottwald

Django Unchained
Producers: Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, and Pilar Savone

Les Misérables
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, and Cameron Mackintosh

Life of Pi
Producers: Gil Netter, Ang Lee, and David Womark

Producers: Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy

Silver Linings Playbook
Producers: Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, and Jonathan Gordon

Zero Dark Thirty
Producers: Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow, and Megan Ellison

Cool Black’s Oscar PickWhile all these pictures, save for one, deserved to nominated for Best Picture, I have to mention: 

Amour, a searing yet veritable film about love. A wonderfully composed story about adversity among a couple that does not sugarcoat it. 

Argo was a fantastic tale of suspense based on real life events that will have you on the edge of your seat until pretty much the end.

Les Misérables was an ornately orchestrated musical with some really great performances and songs.

Life of Pi while a visual delight was also in the end a very spiritual story of survival.

Silver Linings Playbook was a funny love story that dealt with mental illness in a way that did not make light of it or make it overwhelming. 

Zero Dark Thirty breaks down a lot of the politics it took to track down Osama bin Laden and by the end, the action packed way they got him.

My PICK for BEST PICTURE goes to Beasts of the Southern Wild

I’ve also picked Beasts of the Southern Wild as my favorite film of 2012 and this is what I said 
My favorite film of 2012 had to have been the one that moved me the most. Watching this film was a reminder of the power of cinema to me. A phenomenal film.
That pretty much summed it up why I think its Best Picture.

So that’s it, my picks this year. As always looking forward to the ceremony!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hatfields & McCoys - The Cool Black Review

Kevin Costner (left) and Bill Paxton (right) as their characters in Hatfields & McCoys

I liked Hatfields & McCoys, a good old fashion tale of revenge. This feud proves that war is war no matter what scale it’s waged on. While it got a little melodramatic at times this was a good miniseries especially if you like westerns. 
Hatfields & McCoys is a three-part 2012 television miniseries based on the Hatfield–McCoy feud produced by History channel. Each episode aired for two hours on May 28, 29, and 30, 2012 and starred Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as the chief Hatfield & McCoy respectfully. 
The entire cast of characters, and there were an entire cast of characters on both sides of the feud were really good, replete with their country twang, but Kevin Costner did an outstanding job as the chief Hatfield “William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield”

Apart from the story I was amazed at the total authenticity of the miniseries. The miniseries had really great direction by Kevin Reynolds and outstanding cinematography by Arthur Reinhart, outdoor cinematography—in the woods—day and night! (For the record it’s kind of hard to balance light outside especially at night)

I also have to mention the other components of the crew that lead to the miniseries’ authenticity. Production Design by Derek R. Hill, Art Direction by Serban Porupca and John B. Vertrees, Set Decoration by Sally Black, Costume Design by Karri Hutchinson and the 11 people in Makeup. 

These were the grungiest country folk you ever seen in your life, but it was due to their rural lives of the 1800s. Because of the great work of the people I mentioned above you were transported to that time of the 1800s and believed every second of it. Without their painstaking authenticity the miniseries wouldn't have been as good as it was.