Saturday, 24 February 2007

Obsessing Over Oscars

It’s that time of year, the time movie fans either love or loathe. Yes, Oscar walks among us again.

Often at this time I indulge in a bit of navel gazing about why I am so interested in the Oscars. The ceremony itself is usually bloated, smug and features a horribly teary acceptance speech by the best actress, and I seldom agree with their choice of best picture. Crash beating Brokeback Mountain still makes me grind my teeth.

To be fair to the Academy, they have been getting more diverse and less mainstream with their choices of films in recent years. This year the nominees are the most multicultural ever.

Fundamentally though, why should movie fans give a damn what Hollywood thinks the best in the last year of cinema was? You already know what you like and what you don’t.

I guess it comes down to the fact that, as a lover of movies, it’s nice to see them celebrated. It’s also a great excuse to go see a lot of good films, and yell at the tv when your favourites miss out.

Below are my pics for the likely Oscar winners, and who I’d pick in the various categories. Bear in mind that as usual I’ve not seen some of the heavyweight contenders, such as ‘Notes from a Scandal’ and ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’.

The nominees are here:

By all means let us know what were your favourites!

Best Picture

Likely winner: Man, this is really hard to pick this year. All the contenders have won earlier awards, none of them is really dominating things, and they're all excellent. I’ll pick the feel-good factor of Little Miss Sunshine.

Tane’s top five:

Little Miss Sunshine
Letters From Iwo Jima
United 93
The Departed

Honourable mentions:

The Queen
Out of the Blue
Children of Men
Russian Dolls
The Squid and the Whale
Superman Returns
Flags of Our Fathers
Happy Feet

Lauren’s top five:

United 93
The Departed
Little Miss Sunshine
The Prestige

Honourable mentions:

Letters From Iwo Jima
The Queen
Superman Returns
Russian Dolls
Out of the Blue
The Devil Wears Prada
The Squid and the Whale

Best Director

Likely winner:
Surely, surely, Martin Scorsese will get his long overdue Oscar this year. Even if The Departed doesn’t get Best Picture, the momentum is there for him to get one of those unofficial lifetime achievement awards the sentimental folks in Academy bestow from time to time.

Tane’s best director: Paul Greengrass, United 93. With no major performances to drive it, if any movie’s success can be put down to a director’s skills, it was this one.

Best Actor:

Likely Winner: Forest Whitaker, who played Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, has swept all awards before him.

Tane’s best actors: Whitaker. My nominees would also include Matt Damon from The Departed, Leonardo Di Caprio and Djimon Honsou for Blood Diamond, and Heath Ledger in Candy. Honourable mentions to Sacha Baron Cohen from Borat, Daniel Craig from Casino Royale, Ken Watanabe and Kazunari Ninomiya from Letters From Iwo Jima and Mathew Sunderland from Out of the Blue.

Best Actress

Likely Winner: Helen Mirren, Her Majesty in The Queen, has been as dominant as Whitaker.

Tane’s best actress: Mirren. I’ve not seen any of the other nominees though. Abby Cornish in Candy and Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls were also outstanding, and Sarala from Water delivered perhaps the child actor performance of the year.

Best Supporting Actor

Likely Winner: Eddie Murphy, as troubled soul star Jimmy Early in Dreamgirls.

Tane’s pick: The supporting actor/actress nominations often bug me, as so often someone gets nominated (Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind comes to mind) who is clearly a lead, simply because the studio thinks they’re more likely to win in that category. Djimon Honsou comes into that category this year.
My pick would be Murphy. My other nominees would be Alan Arkin and Steve Carell from Little Miss Sunshine, Michael Caine in Children of Men, and Adam Beach in Flags of Our Fathers.

Best Supporting Actress

Likely Winner: Jennifer Hudson from Dreamgirls, though she’s clearly the film’s lead actress.

Tane’s pick: Rinko Kikuchi from Babel. Other nominees: Adriana Barazza, also from Babel, Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine, and Seema Biswas and Kulbhushan Kharbanda from Water.

Best Original Screenplay

Likely Winner: This could be an early indicator of the winning film – I’ll go with Little Miss Sunshine

Tane’s pick: Babel. Nominees: The Queen, Little Miss Sunshine, Russian Dolls and Out of the Blue.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Likely Winner: It’s a bizarre nomination, as it was a largely improvised film, but I think Borat might take this.

Tane’s pick: The Departed. Nominees: The Prestige, Candy, Children of Men, Letters From Iwo Jima.

Best Cinematography

Likely Winner: Children of Men

Tane’s pick: Apocalypto

Best Art Direction

Likely Winner: Dreamgirls

Tane’s pick: Dreamgirls


Likely Winner: Cripes, editing’s such a fundamental part of a film I always find it hard to judge it. I’ll take a stab and go the Academy liking the interwoven stories of Babel.

Tane’s pick: United 93


Likely Winner: Dreamgirls

Tane’s pick: Apocalypto


Likely Winner: ?

Tane’s pick: Apocalypto


Likely Winner: I Love You I Do, from Dreamgirls

Tane’s pick: Patience, from Dreamgirls


Likely Winner: Apocalypto

Tane’s pick: Apocalypto

Visual Effects

Likely Winner: Superman Returns

Tane’s pick: Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest


Likely Winner: Flags of Our Fathers

Tane’s pick: Flags of Our Fathers

Animated Film, Documentary, Foreign Film

Off all the films that would fit into these categories, I've have only seen Happy Feet, An Inconvenient Truth and Water, so I can’t really comment. Cars is tipped to win animated, An Inconvenient Truth is sure to get documentary and Pan’s Labyrinth was thought to be close to landing a regular Best Picture nomination, so it’ll win Foreign Film.

Sound Editing

Too technical for me!

Party pics! (Lauren)

Last night, a number of us went out for dinner to have a few drinks to celebrate the my birthday, as well as Sarah's and Jay's. As for the actual details of the evening, what goes on tour stays on tour, right? (Naturally, I was dignified and a model citizen the entire night) But, for those of you that couldn't make it, here are some photos of what was a largely fun evening. And the bits that were less fun, were certainly memorable.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Best gig of '07 - so far at least (Lauren)

Last night we went to see Goldenhorse play at Bodega. Bodega is a great venue - just the right amount of space, good beer, and plenty of amusing graffiti in the bathroom. Class. I'm certain that there is a linguistics or sociology doctorate just waiting to be written about bathroom graffiti, if it hasn't been already. Bathroom graffiti also makes me wonder - who actually carries vivid pens around with them in order to scrawl that Kenny has the hottest abs in Wellington? But I digress ...

It was a great gig, especially as I hadn't seen any live music for way too long. There weren't too many people there so lots of dancing space, and Goldenhorse themselves performed really well. Less polished that the last time I saw them in 2005, but much more relaxed and fun. Kirsten Morrell (the lead singer) wore an especially funky red dress, and one of the funnier parts of the evening was watching a line-up of guys drooling up at her from the front row. Including a certain gay man who shall remain nameless.

Today has been a fabulous Sunday - some lying in the sun action, some going to the beach action (Titahi Bay beach today - I won't even start about the graffiti there), and some eating nice food action. Tane also got a lot of watching the cricket action too, and apparently it was a very exciting game. Either that, or he was randomly yelping about something else while we were driving around in the car this afternoon...

Ngaire left another year at Med School at Otago today, although not before this photo could be taken of me and my three blisters:

Ahhh. Weekends. Lauren happy.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

The Best River Ever (and poker) (Lauren)

Last Sunday, Tane and I went to the Best River Ever. It was so splendid, it deserves capital letters. The river was somewhere near Otaki, on the nice bush side rather than the bad-ass-homie side. I had never even heard of the place before Geremy from work told me about it, and doubt we would have found it on our own had Geremy and his fiancée Sarah hadn’t driven us there.

The river was perfect – swift bits, calm bits, deep bits and bits so shallow you couldn’t move in without going “ow ow ow ow”. The best part? Rocks for jumping off! I have a fantastic sequence of photos of Tane jumping off that are too good not to share, especially one of him mid-air with a look on his face that is a funny mix of terror, exhilaration and pure surprise that the water below is getting closer at an alarming rate. Unfortunately I don’t have them now, but watch this space!

In other news, I have discovered the joys of poker! Earlier in the week my three sisters and I played a game with our boyfriends that lasted for hours. It was a great night, although I sadly lost the $5 I paid to play. Evan won in the end, despite attempts by Ngaire to throw him off course by playing Britney Spears. At least Erin came second, or else it might have been embarrassing that the other three Keenan girls were eliminated well before their boyfriends were, me included. I clearly have a long way to go until I can go to Montenegro and beat wealthy baddies a la' James Bond. Pity.

Monday, 5 February 2007

Staying in a trailer park and other cool stuff (Lauren)

A couple of nights ago, Tane woke me up by jumping up and down and slapping his belt against the wall. It took me a little while to translate his angry muttering and realise that "rassin frassin SLAP moshrassin frassin bloody SLAP rassin frassin" was Tane-speak for "I am currently attempting to commit mosquito-cide as the noise of it buzzing is irritating me". I would have been perplexed by the whole deal had the belt incident not been concrete evidence that HURRAH! SUMMER IS HERE!

This weekend, Tane and I enjoyed some of the summer in the Manawatu and Wairarapa. It was grand - the sun was shining, the cows were mooing, and there were even more windmills along the ranges than last time I was in the Manawatu. I assume that they breed while I am away.

Our impetus for going to that part of the country was Mae and Jake's wedding, held at a lifestyle block near Feilding that belonged to Jake's folks. The wedding was fabulous - Mae looked stunning, and we had a blast.

Me, Bonnie, Mae, Ginny and Sarah
The highlights? Seeing how happy the bride and groom were, the most porn-star "you may now kiss the bride" kiss that I have ever seen, hilarious conversations about llamas, and plates at the reception that you could eat. Apparently they were made of potatoes. Mmmm. Plate. Another highlight was seeing Tane and Ashley prance around the lawn with the flower girls' baskets. They had to have this photo taken afterward to reassert their masculinity.

Tane and Ashley

And it wouldn't have been a proper stay in Feilding had we not stayed in a trailer park surrounded by cows. As Tane said, it was a pity that we had left our banjo at home.

The way home from Feilding the next day was equally as cool. Tane and I jumped in the Rambler, and set off to find the town called Tane in the Wairarapa. Tane had visions of taking photos of himself posing in front of a "Welcome to Tane" sign I think. And fair enough too - if I discovered a town called Lauren, I'd be there with bells on. After a couple of hours of dirt roads and mucho windiness, Tane consulted the map only to discover that Tane had already driven through Tane. Sad.
Lucky we found Castlepoint instead. Castlepoint is a beach about an hour from Masterton. At first glance it is fairly mediocre - a bland beach, its only saving grace being an impressive lighthouse. Once you wander around the corner from the main beach, though, Castle Rock makes the trip worthwhile. My parents made me climb Castle Rock when I was about 15, and have only recently been forgiven. Tane and I didn't have the energy to attempt Castle Rock yesterday, but did scale some rock faces and found ourselves swimming in the path of an arrogant, fast, and dangerous fishing boat. The climb up to the lighthouse was pretty refreshing as well, as was enjoying the sun perched on some rocks that appeared to be made of long-dead crabs.

We got back into Wellington quite late last night, and am still feeling a little drained - hence the warbled entry. Lucky that tomorrow is Waitangi Day and the forecast is good. Yay!
P.S. It is Wai-TANGI day, not Wai-TANGY day. Grrrr.