Oscar-nominated short films for 2014

Posted by barb on Mar 2, 2014 in Movies

For the past several years, Andrew and I have been going to see the Oscar(tm)-nominated short films at our local theater (well, it’s not exactly local anymore, since we moved to the other side of the Beltway…). So, this year, when the program showed up at Cinema Arts Theatre, we made a plan to trek over to Fairfax for the day and catch both the animated and live-action programs.

Here’s my take on this year’s crop.

Spoiler Alert I’m probably going to give away some of the plots/turning points in these shorts, so go see the films first, before reading!

Animated shorts

Get a Horse [Clip]

This was a Disney short, and starts out in the old black and white, small screen format. Suddenly, a couple characters break through the screen and find themselves in 3D color. The film continues with the characters popping into and out of the screen – into 3D color then back to flat, black and white.

It felt like this concept had been done before, many times. In fact, it seemed vaguely like Day and Night from Disney Pixar, which was nominated in 2010.

If this one wins, it will be because of the sentimentality of the old-style Mickey Mouse.

Mr. Hublot [Trailers]

Mr. Hublot is an OCD single man living in a steampunk-inspired future with tons of retro-looking automation. One day, he sees an abandoned robot-dog, and he can’t get this little guy out of his mind.

This one was my favorite. Though the story was predictable, with the ending set up fairly obviously in the opening shots, the story was uplifting…and the puppy was cute. And the animation style was straight-forward and fun to look at.

Feral [Trailer]

This one was about a feral child picked up in the woods. While there was a story present, the main driver of this piece is the watercolor-style animation.

Personally, I find this type of animation hard to look at, but I can appreciate the beauty that others must find in it. This one may win, just because the style sets it apart from the others and makes it seem more “arty”, which often attracts the Oscar voters.

Possessions [IMDB]

Bizarre story based on the old Japanese idea that if possessions are old enough, they begin to possess a soul that can taunt people. A “fixer of all things” is caught in the woods during a storm and stumbles into an old house. All night the objects in the house taunt him int fixing them.

Room on the Broom [Trailer]

Going in to today’s movies, we were both hoping there wouldn’t be yet another Gruffalo short…well there wasn’t, but Room on the Broom was from the same team and author. It is based on a children’s book, so the film was cute, as were the Gruffalo shorts, but not terribly substantive or interesting beyond the cuteness.

My prediction is that Feral will win, because of the animation style more than anything. We’ll see tonight!

Live-action shorts

Helium [Trailer]

The live-action program started with this, a sentimental piece about a hospital janitor trying to comfort a dying child with tales of the world of Helium, a more-fun alternative to Heaven. It was cute and sad and sentimental – everything that we come to expect from the live-action shorts. Sigh. From the moment it started #150; in a hospital with a sick child – we knew exactly where it would end.

The Voorman Problem [Trailer]

What do you do when a prisoner proclaims to be a god? And, when that prisoner convinces the entire prison population that he’s a god? Send in a psychologist of course. This short shows us what happens next.

One of few comedies that we’ve seen in all the live-action shorts we’ve seen over the years, this one was fun and extremely well-done with just a few short scenes.

Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) [Trailer]

This short captures the day a woman’s decides to take her kids and leave her abusive husband. I found myself drawn in almost immediately, and continued to be engaged throughout the entire piece. The danger for this woman felt very real, and the urgency carried through every moment of the piece.

This one could win tonight, and I would heartily support that win.

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me) [Trailer]

Set in Africa, this piece follows a pair of Spanish aid workers who are kidnapped by a group of child soldiers. The acting was not great – perhaps because the actors were working in English, which was clearly not their first language. However, even if the acting was great, I would have been disengaged from the beginning. I know that child soldiers are a real problem in parts of the world, and I do know that their plight needs to be brought out to the public…it just seems that there are other ways to do it. Or maybe not. I know it’s complicated.

If this one wins tonight, it will be due to the subject matter, not the film itself.

Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) [Trailer]

A very short (7 minute) comedy about a family late getting ready to attend a wedding. So many unexpected moments, and I may have laughed out loud. I doubt it will win, but this was my favorite.

I’m guessing that either That Wasn’t Me or Just Before Losing Everything will win tonight. It’s so hard for comedies to win these awards, though those were probably my favorite in this program.


2010 Movie Project I & J Movies

Posted by barb on Sep 28, 2010 in Movies
  • The Incredibles – This is what movie-making should be all about. A favorite when it was in the theater, and a favorite today.
  • Independence Day – I don’t care how cheesy or cliche everyone says this is, I still like it. Maybe it’s Will Smith…maybe Brent Spiner in Area 51…maybe just the whole over-the-top-ness of it all.
  • Indiana Jones 1-4 – My favorite will always be “The Last Crusade”, because of when I first saw it. But, I have to say that “Temple of Doom” is not as bad as I’ve made it out to be in my mind. Not the strongest of them, but not as bad, either. And I don’t care what anyone else says, I liked the latest one, too. Cheesy? Duh…but if you tell me that “Raidiers” or “Last Crusade” aren’t cheesy, then you’d be a liar.
  • I, Robot – Yes, more Will Smith…so sue me. Yes, more cheesy scifi…again, sue me. I happen to enjoy watching it…and him.
  • Iron Man – Proof that Robert Downey Jr. may be redeemable. This is one of the superhero movies that actually works, even for a non-comic-book-reader like me.
  • Judgement: The Court Martial of William Calley – Ugh. This was supposed to have Harrison Ford in it, which is why I have it, but I only made it about 30 minutes in, before he showed up. The movie looks like a 70s TV show (which it might have been…at least a TV special?), and was essentially just a slow, plodding courtroom scene.
  • Just Like Heaven – Another romantic comedy, not my favorite, but one that I’ll watch occasionally.



2010 Movie Project G & H Movies

Posted by barb on Aug 28, 2010 in Movies

I didn’t exactly power through these…must pick up my pace if I’m going to finish by the end of the year!

  • Galaxy Quest – Sorry, I still love this movie. I thought it might lose its appeal, especially since I’m not quite the Trekker that I used to be, but it reminds of the days when I was more of a sci fi geek.
  • Gladiator – Beautiful, artistic movie about a former Roman general reduced to life as a Gladiator, bent on revenge. Not sure how often I’ll want to watch this, but I shouldn’t be afraid of it (as I was this time around: I put it off for a good long time), because I really do like it.
  • The Golden Compass – I wish this had done better at the box office, because I’d love to see the other books made into movies (no, I haven’t read them yet, but I will at some point). I actually quite liked this one, even if it was obvious that parts were compressed in translating the book to a movie.
  • Good Will Hunting – any movie that features combinatorics is a-o-k with me. Love movies that feature smart people as smart people relating to the world.
  • Hairspray – Not the musical; the original. I refuse to watch the musical…some things just don’t need to be re-made. I still believe that after re-watching.
  • Hanover Street – This is another of my Harrison Ford movies. It was an odd WWII love story where a married woman falls in love with an officer. Her husband gets tapped to do a spy job, watched over by the officer. It was so-so, but not a favorite movie.
  • Harry Potter 1-6 – Love, love, love. I could watching these again and again without getting bored.
  • Hercules – This is the Disney animated version of Hercules. The animation style is much different from most Disney movies, and its refreshing to see such a difference every once in a while. It’s also refreshing to have a main character who is not a princess.
  • History of the World Part I – Ahhh Mel Brooks. Throw in the kitchen sink, and everything else in the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, and the bedroom. Still, I can’t dislike this movie, not matter how “80s” it feels…that, and I love quick-time harch!
  • Hitch – Yum…Will Smith and romantic comedy. Another that I can watch over and over…love it every time, but I won’t admit to crying when they finally get together.
  • The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Slick version of the Douglas Adams classic. Quirky, as befits the book, so it’s fun to watch, if a little weird.
  • Hollywood Homicide – It’s nice to see Harrison Ford embracing a little comedy. This isn’t the strongest film, but it’s fun to watch.
  • Hot Fuzz – Big-town cop gets relegated to a small town where there’s never any crime…well except for the serial killings that have been hidden. Add in some British comedy and the cast of “Shaun of the Dead”, and you’ve got a fun movie. Just as fun on a second viewing.
  • How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days – Another of my favorite romantic comedies; a women’s magazine writer is looking for a guy to “lose” in 10 days using age-old bad relationship tricks, but gets pitted against an advertising man trying to win a bet that he can get any woman to fall in love with him.



2010 Movie Project E & F Movies

Posted by barb on Aug 20, 2010 in Movies

I’m definitely falling behind on the movie project, though I finished the E & F movies a long time ago and have just been too lazy to write them up. So, here goes.

  • Eagle Eye – Okay, this is not great cinema, but it’s a fun, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of action flick.
  • El Dorado – One of the few non-Disney animated flicks that I’ve liked…I’m usually opposed to animated movies that have to advertise their star voices, but this was one that I liked. Still do, and I love the music, too.
  • Enchanted – A fun take on the “princess” movies – I particularly love the scene where Giselle summons rats and pigeons to clean out Robert’s apartment.
  • Enemy of the State – The earlier version of Eagle Eye, I suppose. I love me my Will Smith, so can always watch this.
  • Ever After – The ultimate girly flick re-telling of the cinderella story. I could watch this every day.
  • Fantasia – This one has a special place in my heart – Andrew and I went to see this in the theater on our first date. The Firebird Suite is always a favorite.
  • Finding Nemo – I hadn’t actually watched this one since it was in the theaters, and I wasn’t really looking forward to it…can’t say why not. And after watching it, I really can’t say why not. Loved it the second time around.
  • Firewall – Part of my Harrison Ford collection. I can’t say its one of my favorites, but I can always watch him kick some butt.
  • Force 10 from Navarone – Another of my Harrison Ford collection…I had never seen this one. It’s a war flick, a genre I’m not terribly up on. I found some of the music to be disconnected to the action – for example a happy, peppy tune when they’re being captured or detained or something. Can’t say I liked this one much, but I’ll keep it as part of the HF collection.
  • Frantic – Yet another Harrison Ford movie. I didn’t remember much of it from my original viewing (when it was in theaters), so didn’t have many expectations going it. Not a bad thriller, though more low-key than more recent ones.



2010 Movie Project C & D Movies

Posted by barb on Apr 11, 2010 in Movies

Finally watched all of our C and D movies (didn’t help that we bought some new movies a couple weeks ago at a Blockbuster that’s closing its doors – many of the new movies were C and D movies, d’oh!)

Here’s the rundown:

  • Casa de los Babys – This was really Andrew’s movie, but I wanted to see it. It’s the story of several women waiting in South America to adopt babies. A moving drama, but I can’t see myself watching it again.
  • Catch Me If You Can – This one is fun, and I enjoyed watching it again. Based on a true story of a young man who successfully conned millions before his 19th birthday impersonating an airline pilot, doctor, and lawyer.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – This is the re-make with Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. Love this one almost as much as the original. The oopma loompas creep me out less, and just make me laugh.
  • Charlie’s Angels – Okay, so not great drama or comedy, but a fun action flick. Totally fun watching chicks kick ass.
  • Cinderlla – Classic Disney. Haven’t watched this in forever. Glad to get a chance to see it again.
  • Clerks – Had forgotten how much I liked this one; I wasn’t really looking forward to watching it this time, but really enjoyed it.
  • Contact – I know a lot of people don’t like this; it’s not as good as the book. However, I was at Tech when it was filmed, so I have fond memories of the excitement that was on campus and in town. Frankly I like it.
  • Coraline – This was just as fun the second time…not much more to say.
  • Crossing Over – I had never even heard of this one until we saw it at the Blockbuster that was closing. It stars Harrison Ford as an immigration officer, and tells the stories of several immigrants, immigration officials, and an immigration lawyer. It was quite good, and I’m not sure why it didn’t get more attention when it was out.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – I probably will get my geek card revoked for this, but I’m just not enamored of “kung fu” dramas. It was okay the second time; though I think I was more absorbed in it the first time in the theater. Don’t really need to see it again.
  • The Cutting Edge – Two words: “toe pick”!
  • Dead Poets Society – Watched this numerous times at Tech; still as powerful and speaks to me even more than a decade later.
  • The Devil’s Own – I hadn’t seen this in the theater, and had meant to watch it many times since. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn’t exactly it. Having said that, it was quite good, with Brad Pitt as a IRA terrorist and Harrison Ford as police officer. Not sure how often I’ll watch it, but it was very good.
  • District 9 – Saw this in the theater, too. Wow, what great movie. And what a surprise. A spaceship stalled over Johannesburg 20 years ago. In this mock documentary, the 1.2 million aliens are being moved from the make-shift ghetto that was created for them in Johannesburg to a new facility outside of the city limits.
  • Don Knotts Collection – This is a collection of 4 movies: The Relucatant Astronaut, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Shakiest Gun in the West, and The Love God?. I mainly got it to see the first two again, since I hadn’t seen the last two. However, I really enjoyed Gun and Love God a lot…maybe even more than the other two. Probably will send this collection on my Mom.
  • Down With Love – Love, love, love, love, love this movie. That’s all I want to say.



2010 Movie Project A & B Movies

Posted by barb on Feb 27, 2010 in Movies

We have a lot of DVDs in our house…not scary-numbers, but a lot. We have a 4-shelf case full of movies and a 5-shelf case full of TV shows. I have my favorites, and when I go to watch something, it’s usually one of my favorites because those are the ones that catch my eye on the shelf. That means I have a lot of DVDs that I haven’t watched in a long time (a few that I haven’t actually watched at all).

So, I’ve decided that in 2010 I’m going to try to watch ALL of the DVD movies (all of mine, that is…I don’t have to watch the ones that Andrew bought, though I can if I want to try them). We have approximately 200 DVD movies — so in theory I need to watch about 16-17 per month. Oh, and I’m going to watch them in alphabetical order, so I can’t skip ahead to my favorites and leave all the others for later (when I might not watch them at all). (Okay, there’s a little lee-way with the strict order, because Andrew wants to watch some of them, and I don’t want to wait for him necessarily before moving on.)

So far I’ve finished pretty much all of the A-D movies (still have Crouching Tiger, which Andrew wants to watch, and still have a couple of Don Knotts movies, because I couldn’t watch them all in a row).

Here’s the run down of the As and Bs:

  • Across the Universe – I hadn’t seen this in the theater…it was Andrew’s movie, but I wanted to see it. Found it so-so — story was not exactly strong, music was fine, but I’d rather hear the Beatles versions of the songs. Probably won’t watch this again
  • Aladdin – A classic, but I haven’t seen it in a while. While some of the jokes are a bit dated (I knew they wouldn’t age well even when I first saw the movie), the movie is still a lot of fun to watch.
  • Amazon Women on the Moon – I got hooked on this at Tech, and I wondered if I’d still like it now. Definitely still like it now – made me laugh!
  • Anastasia – Not bad, not great account of the Grand Dutchess Anastasia. Enjoyed it again, but not a favorite.
  • The Aristocats – Hadn’t seen this since Kirsten got it when it was re-released in the mid-90s. Classic Disney faire. Definitely a 60s flick, but a lot of fun.
  • Atlantis – I’ve always loved stories of Atlantis. This one is no different.
  • Batman Begins – Have to say I love the Dark Knight take on the series.
  • Batman Forever – Sorry, this one has a special place in my heart…and there’s just something about Val Kilmer in a tux…Yum.
  • Beauty and the Beast – More classic Disney – love the story.
  • Being John Malkovich – I had forgotten most of the plot of this one, so it was fun to see it again.
  • Big Fish – Another one where I had forgotten much of the story — tall tales at their best.
  • Blade Runner – Classic Harrison Ford and sci-fi…’nuff said.
  • Bride and Prejudice – hadn’t seen this one. Turns out I’m not a huge fan of the story, but loved the colorful Bollywood-style
  • Bridget Jones’ Diary – ah, Bridget Jones. Classic girly flick (yes same basic story as Bride and Prejudice, but better disguised, I guess).

I’ve watched more, but will leave those for another post later.



Movie Meme

Posted by barb on Jan 5, 2009 in Memes, Etc., Movies

Via Terminal Degree.

Apparently, if you’ve seen more than 85, you have no life. There are 238 films on this list. Put x’s next to the films you’ve seen, add them up, change the header adding your number, and click post at the bottom. Have fun.

(x) Rocky Horror Picture Show
(x) Grease
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest
(x) Boondock Saints
(x) Fight Club
(x) Starsky and Hutch
(x) Neverending Story
(x) Blazing Saddles
() Airplane
Total so far: 9

Read more…




Posted by barb on Jul 25, 2006 in Movies

I’ve been seeing preview for Scoop, a new Woody Allen movie. I like Woody Allen, for the most part. Scoop also stars Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson. I like Hugh Jackman. He’s rather cute in addition to being able to act. The dilema? I hate Scarlett Johansson. Ghost World? It was middling. Lost in Translation? Hated it (I want my 2-hours back). Girl with a Pearl Earring? Middling, bordering on boring. The Island? Actually, it was okay (not great cinema, but I didn’t expect that), but it also had Ewan McGregor in it (yum).

So, do I go under the assumption that Wood Allen and Hugh Jackman will nullify the mindnumbing performaces of Scarlett Johansson? Or do I finally learn my lesson and skip it?



Weekend Movies

Posted by barb on Nov 13, 2005 in Movies

Went to a couple movies this weekend:

  • Dreamer
    3/5 stars
    Cute feel-good movie, though no surprises if you’ve seen the trailers
    [IMDB link for Dreamer]
  • Good Night, and Good Luck.
    4/5 stars
    As Andrew said after the moive, “TV was sure different back then.”

    In 1953, Edward R. Murrow, a respected CBS newsman, chose to broadcast a couple shows dealing with Senator McCarthy and his communism witch-hunt. Needless to say, at that time it was dangerous for anyone to speak out against McCarthy, and there were lost of white knuckles in the CBS newsroom.

    The film was very well done, and one of the first with George Clooney where I felt that he wasn’t just recycling Dr. Ross from ER.
    [IMDB link for Good Night, and Good Luck]

We also spent our evenings this weekend re-watching the Harry Potter movies – I am sooooo looking forward to The Goblet of Fire next weekend!!



Mega Movie Round-up

Posted by barb on Oct 18, 2005 in Movies

More for myself than anyone else, here’s the movies I’ve seen over the last month, but not blogged:

  • Must Love Dogs
    3/5 stars
    Cute romantic comedy. Not much else to it, though.

    [IMDB link for Must Love Dogs]

  • A Sidewalk Astronomer
    3.5/5 stars
    This documentary did not get a wide distribution (and, in fact, is only available to theaters on DVD). It is about John Dobson. Dobson, for those of you unfamiliar with amateur astronomy, invented a widely used mount for telescopes that is simple for anyone to construct. This mount allowed almost anyone to build larger and larger telescopes without putting out large sums of cash (I remember being at a star party with Melissa and being invited by a drunken telescope owner to climb a ladder to look through his telescope). Dobson is revered by amateur astronomers for this accoplishment.

    Dobson has also brought astronomy to the sidewalks of San Francisco. He brings a telescope to a street corner, points it toward the moon or planets or, during the day with a appropriate filter, the sun. Then he invites people to look through the telescope. Some people look and leave, while others choose to look and learn (fewer of the latter than former, unfortunately).

    I don’t want to diminish the accomplishments of Dobson – both the telescope mount and the outreach are incredible achievements. The film, however, goes on to show Dobson lecturing on his view of cosmology. He’s a steady state guy &#150 the universe has always been, with no beginning. Sigh. In his cosmology, Dobson is a crack-pot. Oh well, two out of three isn’t bad.

    [IMDB link for A Sidewalk Astronomer]

  • Top Hat
    3.5/5 stars
    Cheeky comedy featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. One night when Astaire demonstrates his moves in a hotel room for the producer of his next show, an annoyed downstairs neighbor, Rogers, complains. The two immediately hit it off, but complications arise as Rogers belives that Astaire is the married producer rather than a single dancer.

    [IMDB link for Top Hat]

  • Just Like Heaven
    3/5 stars
    Cute romantic comedy. Reese Witherspoon is upset when Mark Ruffalo moves into her fully-furnished apartment. However, there’s not much she can do about it, since she appears to be a ghost, and only Ruffalo can see her.

    [IMDB link for Just Like heaven]

  • Serenity
    3.5/5 stars
    I’m not a Firefly fan, but went along to this with Andrew and a couple who recently moved to the area, all of whom were Firefly fans. It was fine, as far as sci-fi flicks are concerned – better than much of the crap that’s come out recently – but Joss Whedon is not a god to me.

    [IMDB link for Serenity]

  • Swing Time
    2/5 stars
    Another in the series of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies that the local theater is playing. As usual, plot is secondary to music and dancing; however, this one had even less plot than normal, and it seemed to have less dancing. Astaire plays a lucky dancer who goes to the city to earn a fortune in order to gain the blessing to wed the woman he loves. While in the city, however, he stumbles into Rogers, and falls for her.

    [IMDB link for Swing Time]

  • Proof
    4/5 stars
    Excellent film! Gwyenneth Paltrow’s character is a math student who drops out to care for her ailing father, Anthony Hopkins, who was a brilliant mathematician before falling ill. We join the story after Hopkins’ character has died, but see the dynamic that grew between father and daughter. More, though, is that this film shows math and mathematicians in a realisitc light. (Yes, they really do talk like that &#150 like physicists, they’re geeks!)

    [IMDB link for Proof]

  • The Matrix: Revolutions
    0.5/5 stars
    Total waste of time.

    [IMDB link for Matrix: Revolutions]

  • Bend it Like Beckham
    3/5 stars
    Cute flick about an Indian girl who wants to play soccer against her parents’ wishes.

    [IMDB link for Bend It Like Beckham]

  • Secret Window
    2.5/5 stars
    Predictable thriller about an author confronted by a pschotic fan claiming the author plagiarized his work.

    [IMDB link for Secret Window]


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