Monday, March 29, 2010

March Film Festival Winners

SERIES: Major Film Festivals

First, a special award announcement.

The 24th American Cinematheque Award was presented to actor Matt Damon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA, Saturday, 27 March. He was not only honored for his acting and humanitarian efforts, he was roasted by some of his friends.

There were no awards at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C., as the festival is mainly for education. If you would like to know more, go here.

The most prominent film festival this month was 17th SXSW (South by Southwest), which included a music festival and an interactive conference, held in Austin, Texas. The festivities began 12 March and ran through the 21st.

There was the film conference and festival, the music conference and festival, and the interactive media conference. Here, we only follow the film festival.

As I write every year, the film awards have been presented at SWSW, not that you may hear about any of the winners this year. In case you really want to see, click the title of this post for the list.

MIAMI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, 5-14 March 2010, Miami, Florida

On awards night, Saturday, 13 March, at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, the festival was forced to turn away more than 250 film lovers clamoring for tickets to the sold-out, post-awards-ceremony screening of surprise Oscar® winner THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (El secreto de sus ojos, Argentina). You can read about that night and view the complete list of winners on the "Daily Wrap" blog by clicking here.

Some of the major awards were:

Grand Jury Prize:
LOLA, directed by Brillante Mendoza (France/Philippines, 2009)
(A $25,000 USD cash prize awarded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation)

Special Jury Mention 1:
MEDAL OF HONOR (Medalia de Onoare), directed by Calin Peter Netzer (Germany/Romania, 2009)

Special Jury Mention 2, and Audience Award:
NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT PERSIAN CATS (Kasi az gorbehaye irani khabar nadareh), directed by Bahman Ghobadi (Iran, 2009)


Grand Jury Prize:
TO THE SEA (Alamar), directed by Pedro González-Rubio (Mexico, 2009)
(A $25,000 USD cash prize awarded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation)

Audience Award:
UNDERTOW (Contracorriente) by Javier Fuentes-León (Peru/ Colombia/ France/ Germany, 2009)


ORDINARY PEOPLE, directed by Vladimir Perisic (France/ Switzerland/ Serbia/ Netherlands, 2009)

Special Mention:
MEDAL OF HONOR (Medalia de Onoare), directed by Calin Peter Netzer (Germany/Romania, 2009)

25th Guadalajara International Film Festival, 12-19 March 2010, Guadalajara, Mexico

The festival folks had taken down the English portion of the Website even before I could get there. Therefore, you can access the Spanish-only site here and use Google Translate (comes ready-to-use with the Mozilla Firefox Browser).

All prizes were awarded during the closing ceremony held at the Auditorio Telmex (Telmex Auditorium). The Colombian film PORTRAITS OF A SEA OF LIES, directed by Carlos Gaviria, and the Mexican film PERPETUUM MOBILE, directed by Nicolas Pereda, received the award for Best Feature Latin American Fiction Film and Best Fiction Feature Film, respectively.

The Rigobeto Mora Award for Best Mexican Documentary Animation went to MOON (Luna), directed by Raul and Rafael Cardenas. This was the first year for the award.

Also, the Latinofusión Prize for Distribution was given for the first time this year. The prizewinners were, PORTRAITS OF A SEA OF LIES in the Latin American category, and in the Mexican category, GOOD HERBS, directed by Maria Novaro.

Four of the Major Film Festivals in April are: Florida FF, Orlando, FL; Tribeca FF, NYC; On Location Memphis IFF, TN, and the San Francisco Film Festival. There will be information on Cannes in this series and in stand-alone posts beginning soon. Cannes opens 12 May and runs through the 23rd.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mimi Wraps the Oscars® 2010

The ratings for the 82nd Academy Awards® telecast, 7 March 2010, went up this year by 14 percent, totaling nearly 41 million viewers in the U.S. for the entire event, the highest in five years. Seems as though other award shows are also up this year.

Last month’s Super Bowl delivered the largest audience for any program on record (106.5 million), the Grammy Awards hit a six-year high (25.9 million), the American Music Awards drew its largest audience in seven years (14.2 million), while the CMAs and Golden Globes were up as well.

There have been various speculations as to why the Oscars® broadcast was so improved: 1. The Avatar effect; 2. Adding five more best-film nominations, which allowed for more variety in nominations; 3. This year's hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin (good choice); 4. The awards were slightly later than last year, giving the public more of a chance to see the nominated movies; and 5. The economy is bad and people have been staying home watching TV and DVDs, or going to the local movie theater for a night out. What better free entertainment than watching this Hollywood night of nights?

How it went:

The show was about three and one-half hours long. About 30 minutes of that overage was due to presenters and recipients making their way onstage. The females were especially slow in hitting their marks. No wonder, most were walking in spike heels, wearing constricting dresses with those fluffy trains, making the long walk from the wings to the front of the stage to hit their mark very time consuming.

It could go much faster with strategic placements in the sets, and spotlighting the presenter(s). Then, they could make that long walk forward while the honoree is winding through the crowd, the cameras cutting between the presenters and the honorees. This is television, so put the stage, lighting and cameras to better use, please!

Continuity in past shows of having the previous year's winner present an award was broken as "buddies" presented various awards. I think this was a detriment. I don't know about others, but I enjoy seeing the previous winners again. Besides, they received the Oscar, and they have earned the right to present to the following year's winners.

There was one exception I, and others liked. That was Barbra Streisand's grand moment presenting the award to the first female to win best director, Kathryn Bigelow. That was a special history-making moment and Babs was denied the much-deserved Oscar as director of YENTL (1983), so the exception was a nice surprise and added to the pleasures of the evening.

The other presenters did not add much. Enough with the "palsywalsy" presenter thingy, already! It was amazing how little the supposed friends enlightened us about that friend.

The Memorial video presentation was only three and half minutes long, and the images flipped too fast. It had a false start and Patrick Swayze almost got cut out. These people gave their lives to the film industry and they got less than five seconds each?

The list included David Carradine, Howard Zieff, Dom DeLuise, Army Archerd, Ron Silver, Brittany Murphy, Lou Jacobi, Simon Channing-Williams, Betsy Blair, Joseph Wiseman, Kathryn Grayson, Arthur Canton, Nat Boxer (sound) Roy E. Disney (brother of Walt), Horton Foote (writer) Budd Schulberg (writer) Michael Jackson, Natasha Richardson, and Patrick Swayze.

Critic Roger Ebert was the first to note on Twitter that actress Farrah Fawcett was omitted. Shortly, it came to life that so was Bea Arthur and Ed McMahon. Someone mentioned to me that my late friend Ricardo Montalban was missing. No. He died on 14 January last year and was included in last year's memorial. The dates run from telecast to telecast.

I found this quote on E! (Entertainment News) as to why Fawcett was omitted: Academy spokeswoman Leslie Unger told E! News: "No matter how carefully and how conscientiously people address who is included, there are people who just simply can't be."

Asked by E! News why Fawcett was skipped, but Michael Jackson, known mainly for his music, was included, Unger replied: "In any given year there will always be some people that other people think should have been included and that there's more justification for one person versus another. ... It is impossible to include everybody."

Unger didn't help matters with her allusive answer that made it sound as though Fawcett was not worthy of the honors. Why did she not simply say, "Farrah Fawcett's acting was mainly in television, not in movies."

Fawcett was by all accounts a lovely lady and very popular with television audiences, where she did most of her work. She was nominated for many awards, but never won a major one. Almost all of McMahon's and Arthur's work was in television, too. So, anyone disgruntled about these three being overlooked, please take it up with the other academy. You know, the one for television arts and sciences.

I do have four points that I wish to point out:
1. As there has been an uproar over who was remembered in the Memorial and who was not, if there are certain qualification for appearing in the segment, why doesn't the Academy set forth clear guidelines and explain them to the audience?

2. What the heck was that Oscar tribute to John Hughes, anyway? Why was he singled out to get such a memorial salute, and I believe it was the first I have ever seen. Was it an excuse to put Molly Ringwald and Matthew Broderick on camera as an attraction for the "Pretty in Pink" generation?

3. What was with those fluffy, messy debilitating trains so many of the women were wearing? Ladies, the Academy Awards is not your wedding, or the coronation of a queen.

4. What was with most of the ladies wearing their hair in buns stacked somewhere on their heads? Were they auditioning for Jersey Shore 2?

In all fairness to first-time producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman, it was above average for a first attempt. If they stick around, they might want to evaluate the writers, and hire some new ones. I thought the writing over-all, except for the hosts, was weak. Play no favorites, put more snap in the monologues and in the production techniques, and cut out those awkward "group" lineups. Whalah. Next year's show might possibly be marvelous!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mimi's Hits and Misses for Oscar® 2010

  And Mimi's hits and misses were:

There is a link on the right sidebar of this blog to the winners of the Oscar for the best of 2009, awarded at the 82nd Academy Awards television gala, 7 March 2010. It will remain there until the 83rd awards next year. Also, see the two previous posts below.

Here are the misses in my choices of 82nd Academy Award winners. I promised my readers that I would explain about the choices I made to win, and why I think I missed. I am doing this not to justify my choices, but to possibly help others who like to play the game, "Who Will Win?"

Thus, here goes. I abstained from choosing winners in any short-film categories because short films are not readily shown in theaters or issued on DVD. Obviously, I did not see any of them. That left 17 categories. Out of the 17, I missed 4, that is the best I have ever done.

However, two of those missed were awards that I hardly ever miss, Best Actress and Best Foreign Language Film. I was unable to see any of the nominated foreign language films because they were not shown in any near-by theaters and not yet released on DVD. Does anyone know a theater that is not in a big city and shows foreign language movies? I don't think so.

Regarding the Best Actress category. I was unable to see THE BLIND SIDE although Bullock won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Best Actress award, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' members usually vote the way SAG members vote. SAG members are the biggest voting block in the Academy.

I know all that, but I simply couldn't see Bullock over Streep. Since they never release vote tallies with any of these awards, I rationalized it may have been a close-win fluke. I forgot that real-live Academy members have remarked to me that they were going to vote for so-and-so for a certain award but a their guild chose another so-and-so; therefore, they were going to vote for the guild's choice. I'll remember that next time.

I have only seen two movies that Sandra Bullock is in, CRASH and MISS CONGENIALITY. I really liked CRASH and, like the best film winner this year, I was saying CRASH will win the best film Oscar, and everyone was asking, "What?" As far as Bullock being in CRASH, I never noticed, only discovering she is in it when I looked her up on the IMDb. I do remember seeing MISS CONGENIALITY. The movie is cute and funny. In it, Bullock is amusing to watch but her performance is no big whoop. I saw snippets of SPEED. Few acting chops there, either.

Sandra Bullock is popular with the current age group now the majority in the Academy. So, the award may have simply been because those voters like THE BLIND SIDE, and they like Sandra Bullock the lady. It would not be the first time this was the case. From all accounts she is extremely popular in the film community and a very likable person. I intend to see THE BLIND SIDE when I can get the DVD, and I promise to keep an open mind when I evaluate Sandra Bullock's performance against Meryl Streep's in JULIE & JULIA, which I have seen.

I also missed Art Direction because I really liked the art direction in SHERLOCK HOLMES. However, since that was the only nomination the movie received, I should have known better and gone for AVATAR. The art direction for AVATAR was very artistic and pleasing to the eyes. So, that miss goes down as an absolute strikeout.

Then, there was the win that came like a bolt out of the blue, Best Adapted Screenplay: PRECIOUS: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire by Geoffrey Fletcher. The Writer's Guild gave that one to Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, and I always vote the way the Writer's Guild goes. It works 99 percent of the time, but not this year.

You can scroll down to the previous posts to see the list of winners and my picks. If you would like to read a transcript of winners' acceptance speeches, as well as see the winners with all nominees, click the title of this post.

Monday, March 08, 2010

82nd Academy Award Winners 2010 for the Best of 2009

And the winners are:

The Oscar® statuettes were presented to the "best of 2009" at the 82nd Academy Awards® gala on Sunday, 7 March 2010, in the Kodak Theatre, Hollywood & Highland Center®, Hollywood, California. They were and televised live around the world by the ABC Television Network.

BEST PICTURE:THE HURT LOCKER, directed by Kathryn Bigelow;




ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Mo'Nique, PRECIOUS: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire;






FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (El Secreto de Sus Ojos) Argentina, directed by Juan José Campanella;

MUSIC (Original Score):
UP, Michael Giacchino

MUSIC (Original Song):"The Weary Kind" from CRAZY HEART - Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett;







WRITING (Adapted Screenplay): PRECIOUS, Geoffrey Fletcher;

WRITING (Original Screenplay): THE HURT LOCKER, Mike Boal.

For the Academy Official Site and list of all nominees, winners, and to read acceptance speeches, click title of this post.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Mimi's Picks for the Oscars®

AVATAR and THE HURT LOCKER lead with the most nominations for tonight's Academy Awards® TV gala with nine each. UP received five, including Best Animated Film and Best Motion Picture. The surprise nominations were THE BLIND SIDE for best picture and Sandra Bullock for best actress.

By now you probably know what to expect, who the hosts are for tonight, and have your voting list in hand [CLICK HERE], etc. Perhaps, you are waiting for the limousine that will take you to the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. If you are watching at home you will either be thoroughly engaged and rooting for your favorites, or you will watch without any expectations, simply enjoying the multi-million dollar spectacle unfolding on your television set, provided you have it tuned to ABC-TV.

Have you picked your favorites? I have picked mine, but not because I like the actor or actress better than anyone else, or I really liked a certain movie. Being raised in a movie theater, having about 55 college graduate hours in film history and criticism, and having seen hundreds of films of all types and from many countries, I'm analytical about my choices, but I am not going to write about that now.

First of all, I do not evaluate short films because they are not readily shown in theaters or issued on DVD. Here are my choices for the 82nd Academy Awards honoring the best Hollywood offered in 2009, minus short films:

Jeff Bridges, CRAZY HEART


Meryl Streep, JULIE & JULIA

Mo'Nique, PRECIOUS: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire

UP, Pete Docter



Kathryn Bigelow, THE HURT LOCKER


THE WHITE RIBBON, Germany [Second choice, AJAMI, Israel]

MUSIC (Original Score):
UP, Michael Giacchino

MUSIC (Original Song):
"The Weary Kind" from 'Crazy Heart' - Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

COSTUME DESIGN: [Abstaining because I saw none of these, but my heart goes with THE YOUNG VICTORIA.]

STAR TREK [MY favorite in this category didn't get a nomination, DISTRICT 9.]





WRITING (Adapted Screenplay):
UP IN THE AIR by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

WRITING (Original Screenplay):

Golden Razzie® "Winners" 2010

30th Annual Golden Raspberry "Winners"

Last night, Oscar® eve, the "Berry Bad Movies of 2009" were dis-honored during a gala at Hollywood's Barnsdall Gallery Theatre sponsored by The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation. The chosen ones received a gold-spray-painted "Razzie®" statuette designating them as being among last year's Worst Achievements in Film.

Sandra Bullock won two Razzie® awards. The first in the worst actress of 2009 category for her role in ALL ABOUT STEVE. The second with actor Bradley Cooper for the worst screen couple for ALL ABOUT STEVE, which also garnered a Worst Picture of 2009 nomination, but lost the Razzie to TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN. The TRANSFORMERS' screenplay was dis-honored as was its director Michael Bay.

Bullocks competition for worst actress were: Miley Cyrus (HANNAH MONTANNA: THE MOVIE), and Megan Fox (JENNIFER'S BODY, REVENGE OF THE FALLEN), Beyonce Knowles for OBSESSED and Sarah Jessica Parker for DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS?

The worst actor was a three-way tie of the Jonas brothers for JONAS BROTHERS: THE 3-D CONCERT EXPERIENCE. The worst supporting actress and actor statuettes went to Sienna Miller (G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA) and Billy Ray Cyrus (HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE), respectively.

Because 2009 marked the turn of a decade, the Foundation awarded three special awards: The worst picture, actress and actor of the decade. They went to the following, in order: BATTLEFIELD EARTH (won by a landslide), Paris Hilton (THE HOTTIE & THE NOTTIE, HOUSE OF WAX and REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA) and Eddie Murphy (ADVENTURES of PLUTO NASH, I SPY, IMAGINE THAT, MEET DAVE, NORBIT and SHOWTIME).

To see all the nominees click the tag "Razzie" at the bottom of this post for a previous post. To access the Foundations' official Website, click title of this post.

Friday, March 05, 2010

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Major Film Festivals in March

SERIES: Major Film Festivals

(Presented by Miami Film Society and Miami Dade College)
5 - 14 March 2010.
Miami, Florida
This festival showcases foreign film, especially Latin American, and other Spanish-language films. It also tips its hat to local and independent filmmakers.

Opening Film, LOOKING FOR ERIC, directed by Ken Loach, Guzman Center, 7:00 p.m., followed by Opening Night Party at Miami Dade College's Freedom Tower.

I apologize for the scant information, but their Website is not fully operational, and I had to re-activate my e-mail contacts. Tickets are available now at the Regal Cinema, South Beach. More information will be posted on the blog as I receive it.

This year, the D.C. festival has 56 venues, showing 155 films and expects 25,000+ filmgoers. The number of Environmental Film Festivals are growing as well as documentaries being made about the subject and feature films incorporating environmental issues into their storylines.

For general inquiries, please e-mail:, or visit the Official Web Site by clicking the title of this festival.

17th South by Southwest Film Festival
SXSW Week 2010: March 12-21
Interactive Media Conference: March 12-16
Film Conference and Festival: March 12-20
Music Conference and Festival: March 17-21
Austin Convention Center, Austin, Texas

Aaron Johnson in KICK-ASS

This festival started as a regional to showcase independent films, but has morphed into a well-attended festival that the world press also covers. Its reputation and attendance is almost in the same class as "the big boys" now.

Austin has chosen to pair the film festival with the annual music festival, and various other attractive venues, including interactive media. Founded in 1993 by alternative weekly Austin Chronicle editor Louis Black, publisher Nick Barbaro and music promoter Roland Swenson, who also created the gigantic annual March SXSW Music Conference in 1987, the SXSW Festival has developed its own identity by luring quality independent films and filmmakers.

Opening Night film is the World Premiere of KICK-ASS at the Paramount Theater, 7:00 p.m., followed by the opening night party at Buffalo Billiards at 10:00. The movie was directed by Matthew Vaughn, UK, and the cast includes Nicholas Cage.

Closing Night film is the North American premiere of directors Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas' AMERICAN: The Bill Hicks Story, screening 20 March at the Paramount Theater, North American premiere, 9:30 p.m. The true life story of the outlaw comic who tried to save the world. Three years in the making, using a stunning new animation technique, the movie brings the amazing tale of one of modern culture’s most iconic heroes to the big screen.

WINTER'S BONE the winner of both the Grand Jury Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting awards at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival will be showcased. WINTER'S BONE, directed by Debra Granik, is based on the novel by Missouri-based author, Daniel Woodrell. The movie, set in Southwest Missouri, also will be in competition at the Florida Film Festival, Orlando, 9 - 18 April.

And these three films aren't 1/4th of the new movies that will be making the circuit this year, many of them will be major award winners. See the full film lineup by clicking title of this post.

SXSW's YouTube site showcases films and musical performers.

25th Guadalajara International Film Festival
12 - 19 March 2010, Guadalajara, Mexico

This year, the Festival's guest country is France. Agnès Varda, French filmmaker, photographer, editor, composer, occasional actress and producer will receive a homage and be awarded the Silver Mayahuel. She plans to attend the festival.

Varda studied at the Sorbonne and the Louvre School. The first motion picture she directed was the 1954, LA POINTE COURTE. Her late husband was the French filmmaker Jacques Demy.

Of course, the main emphasis of the Festival is to showcase Mexican and other Spanish-language films. It will showcase over 250 films as part of its program in sections in and out of competition. The official sections in competition include feature fiction films and documentaries as well as short films. All the competition is reserved for films produced in Mexico and other Hispanic countries.

If you are looking for the Puerto Vallarta Festival, usually held at this time, it has moved to mid December to attract more "snowbirds."

Three of the Film Festivals in April: Florida FF, Orlando, FL; Tribeca FF, NYC; On Location Memphis IFF, TN. Use your American Express and you can order advance passes and tickets for Tribeca beginning 8 March.