Sunday, January 31, 2010

This Weekend at the Movies

The weekend before the Super Bowl is a strange one for sports fans. After keeping tabs with a competitive NFL season, it's tough to switch to another sport. That's especially true if you've paid too much attention to football. If Stanford and Cal were battling for the Pac-10 title, that would be easier. Also, there are the Sharks. They're doing great. I should turn my attention to them, since it would help me forget how the Sacramento Kings always collapse at the end.
At least it's easy for fans of Indianapolis and New Orleans. They're busy stocking up for the Super Bowl party they'll have. Then again, I have a big frozen pizza and Red Stripe beer ready to go. At least it would be cheaper than going to a bar to watch the game with mainstream light beer.
I do have five hours of 24 to get to, and maybe the Grammys. If I time it right, I can see the 3-D section that honors Michael Jackson.

Still, let's get to the title of this blog. I spent the weekend checking out two movies that will make their mark at the Academy Awards in just five weeks. Yesterday, I saw Avatar for the second time, but it was in Imax, and it was for free. One thing you can say about Imax: it makes any movie, good or not, good enough to stick around. I saw Transformers in Imax, which made it more watchable. I forget if it made Megan Fox sexier, but it wouldn't have worked for the sequel.
With Avatar, Imax made Pandora much more incredible. You have to hand it to James Cameron for revolutionizing movie-making with incredible 3-D effects. The story's not 3-D, though, but maybe 1.723-D. Same with Titanic, but when it presents grand, epic moments, it delivers well.
Titanic had the love story and the big moment when the boat hits hits the iceberg. Avatar also has the cheesy love story, but a lot of viewers must have thought "whoa" in their minds when they see Pandora's center of civilization, Hometree, destroyed by a corporate army. I thought Pearl Harbor, 9-11, and Katrina all rolled into one. Balance that with the planet's deity unleashing the power of nature, or basically very angry animals, and you have a movie that shouldn't be Best Picture, but still something important in movie history.
At least it hasn't dominated pop culture, aside from a few new parents naming their kids Jake or Neytiri. Still, the success of Avatar will convince other studios to prove that 3-D movies can also have good stories. The first example may likely be the next Harry Potter movie.

The other movie was Crazy Heart, or why Jeff Bridges will be winning the Big Lebowski. His portrayal of hard-living country singer Bad Blake is just great. You see a man who can really entertain a crowd, an old-fashioned country singer who is starting to fall apart. Bridges does a lot with his role. A lot of things he does will make you wince, but he needs a reason to clean up his act. That reason is Maggie Gyllenhall, who plays a reporter who's attracted to Blake, mainly because she's dated guys like that before. What surprised me is Colin Farrell does a good job playing Tommy Sweet, a singer that got his first break thanks to Blake. The movie does a nice job showing the difference between old-school country and the little-bit-too-corporate version. It's no wonder why Bridges has dominated the Best Actor awards so far.
It also makes you wonder if Christoph Waltz could beat Bridges if both were up for Best Actor at the Oscars. Bad Blake vs. Badder Landa. I'd vote for Waltz because he can make being soulless so charming.

So, Tuesday morning, we'lll see who will be the front-runners at the Academy Awards. I hear some predict Inglorious Basterds may get as many as ten nominations. Not bad for a movie that premiered at Comic-Con. Avatar should get that many, mainly for technical awards.

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