Saturday, May 24, 2008


With awards announcements coming tomorrow, here are my quick guesses as to the Cannes anointees:

PALME D'OR Gomorrah, Italy
JURY PRIZE Waltz with Bashir, Israel
These are the three movies I can't see not winding up here, for reasons of overall critical and audience response, proclivities of the jurors, and contemporary political relevance. Maybe Che could make a run in here, or either The Class or A Christmas Tale could work into the GJP or Jury Prize slots, but otherwise, I'm feeling pretty good about this group.

DIRECTOR Steven Soderbergh, Che
(alt. Arnaud Desplechin, A Christmas Tale)

ACTRESS Martina Gusman, Leonera/Lion's Den
(alt. Arta Dobroshi, Lorna's Silence)
Sure, Angelina could spoil, but I'd be surprised

ACTOR Benicio Del Toro, Che
(alt. Tony Servillo, Il Divo)

SCREENPLAY E. Bourdieu and A. Desplechin, A Christmas Tale
(alt. Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York)

TECHNICAL GRAND PRIZE Mychael Danna/score, Adoration
(alt. César Charlone/cinematography, Blindness)

FIPRESCI PRIZE Gomorrah, Italy
(alt. Three Monkeys, Turkey)
The international critics' prize, as likely to coincide with the Palme as to endorse a solid competition fave that isn't otherwise a contender (the last three winners were 4 Months..., Climates, and Caché)

(alt. Gomorrah, Italy)
The clerical/social justice prize, though not narrowly defined, and not always awarded (omitted last year, and conferred upon Babel, Caché, and The Motorcycle Diaries in the three years preceding)

COMPETITION FILMS IN THE ORDER I'M EAGER TO SEE THEM The Headless Woman; Synecdoche, New York; Che; Two Lovers; 24 City; Gomorrah; A Christmas Tale; The Changeling/The Exchange; Waltz with Bashir; The Frontier of Dawn; Blindness; The Class/Entre les murs; Lorna's Silence; Serbis; Il Divo; Lion's Den; Three Monkeys; Adoration; Linha de Passe; My Magic; Delta; Palermo Shooting

Photo from Gomorrah, © 2008 Fandango/Rai Films

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Blogger Agustin said...

I'm so happy to hear Lucrecia Martel is well liked. You don't hear that very often, even in my country, even at my film school...
I'm so glad she is realeasing the movie in just 2 weeks!!!!

5:13 PM, May 24, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Agustin: I'm happy to see a new name in the comments, and rest assured, Lucrecia Martel is high in my firmament. The Holy Girl was one of my top ten films of 2005, and I'm looking forward to teaching it in my Contemporary Women Filmmakers course next year.

5:42 PM, May 24, 2008  
Blogger Yaseen Ali said...

Just out of curiosity Nick, what films/directors will be included in your "Women Filmmakers" course outline?

2:10 AM, May 25, 2008  
Blogger Glenn said...

I'm pulling for 24 City.

10:06 AM, May 25, 2008  
Blogger Hayden said...

With any luck, Angelina Jolie won't come within several feet of that Best Actress prize, and not for her baby bump. I adored the IFC review that likely exposed her probable histrionics, but I, of course, have yet to actually see the film.

Hopefully, there will be enough powerhouse, unforgettable, lead actress performances this year to shut her out of the Oscar race again. If I have to endure an acceptance speech from that woman, I think I might give up on the Academy forever.

10:14 AM, May 25, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Yaseen Ali: When I initially offered it as a mini-course last summer, I included Jane Campion (one film), Samira Makhmalbaf (two films), Catherine Breillat (two films), Kathryn Bigelow (one film), and Kimberly Peirce (one film). In the expanded version for next winter, I am probably dropping Peirce (I teach Boys Don't Cry so often, it's really starting to get to me), and I'm certainly adding in Martel and Lynne Ramsay. With a little extra room still to fill, I'm considering Sofia Coppola, Claire Denis, Moufida Tlatli, Jennifer Dworkin, Mary Harron, Lynne Stopkewich, Deepa Mehta, Julie Talen, and Julie Dash. Obviously too big a list for one class, but they're all possibilities. (I know you're a big Mira Nair fan, and I have got to see Salaam Bombay at some point to think about including her.)

@Glenn: I'd be happy with that result, largely because it would finally get my off my a** to see a Jia film.

@Hayden: But how do you really feel? I'll really be surprised if we have to worry about this. I'm more and more dubious about this film the more I read, especially since the script sounds like promising material. And I hate the new title.

11:32 AM, May 25, 2008  
Blogger Hayden said...

I don't know though. It is Eastwood, after all, and he has a way of making the Academy pay attention to his actors. We'll see. And I apologize for my boldness. I only get that way when it comes to Naomi Watts and Angelina Jolie.

By the way, I adore your review for Watts in 21 Grams.

6:31 PM, May 25, 2008  
Blogger Sam Brooks said...

I'm disappointed that Angelina Jolie didn't win, but the Cannes more often than not pick the right winner, so I'm just going to sit back and wait until I can see the lady who did win over her. If that film ever comes out here, that is. On Jolie; I think an Oscar nomination is inevitable this year. Not only is she working with Eastwood, but that snub last year would help her chances this year. And she's probably going to be good, too!

On the rest of the festival, I'm interested to see a fair few of the films, but the rest are a little obscure for me; but I'd still really like to see them.

And I love that you might teach Lynne Ramsay. I'm a huge fan of Morvern Callar and I'm very interested to see what she does with her next film, an adaptation of We Need To Talk About Kevin. Very, very interested about that one.

9:26 PM, May 25, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Hayden: No apologies necessary! I appreciate a strong opinion. And I totally get actor-allergies. You should see me when I get near John Turturro. And thanks for the compliment about the Watts write-up.

@Brooke: I just wish they'd gotten it right with Jolie this year so we didn't have to look forward to a compensation nomination. And it is too bad that we always have to ask after the Cannes announcements, "Will I ever see this?" I'm still waiting on Secret Sunshine, which won Best Actress last year and was directed by the filmmaker of my second-favorite U.S. release in a very, very good year.

10:38 PM, May 25, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

(P.S. @Both of You: You're quite kind to make no mention of my dismal predictions.)

10:38 PM, May 25, 2008  
Blogger Yaseen Ali said...

I'm surprised that you only included one Campion film, since you've remained a vocal supporter of hers post-Piano when the critics suddenly turned a collective cold shoulder. (On a related note, I'm so glad that you like In the Cut too, because most people go out of their way to vent how much they despise it.)

I've only seen two Makhmalbaf films (her segment in 11'09"01 - perhaps the highlight of the entire film for me - and At Five in the Afternoon), and I'm really looking forward to The Apple (if I can find it!)

Do give Salaam Bombay a try - Monsoon Wedding aside, it's regarded as her best work. I'm especially cheery right now, because I was able to meet her yesterday (see blog for evidence!) I can now understand how you felt coming face-to-face with Laura Linney and Todd Haynes. ;)

BTW, how disturbed are you that Nuri Bilge Ceylan won Best Director? If I remember correctly, you walked out of Climates, which I would have done too, if I wasn't attending a sold-out screening (my exit options were limited).

11:33 PM, May 25, 2008  
Blogger Sam Brooks said...

Just a little Jolie rant (because she's one of my favourite actresses. Call it a holdover from preteen hormones): I've never seen an actress so openly disliked that I've never seen to be openly bad. As poorly constructed as that sentence was, what I mean is that she ends up being more disliked than actresses who are genuinely bad. It just baffles me, especially for somebody who seems to elevate any movie she is in (even complete tripe such as Alexander and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.)

And don't worry. I only predicted Best Actress and I lost quite soundly on that. I can never predict Cannes, and I never try to! Just be pleased at the results which are generally pretty good.

I feel for you not being able to see Secret Sunshine; one of my favourite movies of last year with an amazing performance within. Is there any slated release on US shores yet?

11:48 PM, May 25, 2008  
Blogger tim r said...

I don't like to out-gripe, but forget Secret Sunshine -- we didn't even get Oasis! I must track it down on DVD...

5:48 AM, May 26, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Yaseen Ali: Well, I do get to teach Portrait in my Henry James course, and I do show one short film apiece by Campion (Peel) and by Makhmalbaf (the 11'09"01 bit), so I get a little more Jane in there than I'm admitting, and more Samira. (The Apple is wonderful, but Blackboards, for me, is the real stunner.) And as for Ceylan, I am torn between exactly the trepidation you describe (and you remember correctly about my allergic reaction to the first half of Climates) and the hope that I really will "get" him at some point. But I did hear something in one of the reviews about Ceylan using extreme weather again to underscore emotional states and thought, Are we really so excited about this guy?

@Brooke: To me, Angelina is Sharon Stone: always watchable and so compelling that "bad" is almost never the right word, though I do think both women are capable of incongruity with their material—and for all her inarguable charisma, I didn't really think she did all that much for those movies you mention. But I do admire her, as an actor and a person. I agree that a lot of the vitriol she receives seems oddly over-proportioned, but as someone with plenty of unreasonable attachments and dislikes among actors, I can't cast the first stone in that discussion.

@Tim: Oy. Indeed, hie thee to a DVD. If Brooke, who I believe is another Brit, has seen them, they've gotta be around. (And: gripe all you want!)

9:16 AM, May 26, 2008  
Blogger Glenn Dunks said...

Nick, have you seen the works of Ana Kokkinos? I'm personally not a fan (not even of Head On), but she's definitely... unique. Book of Revelation would be particularly hilarious to screen for a bunch of American students. Tom Long and his willy on show for an hour and a half surrounded by hooded women with dildos.

I wanna see Secret Sunshine too. Alas, it hasn't been released here either. I was lucky to see Jia's Still Life at a film fest and loved it. I can only hope 24 City - despite it's non-showing at the awards - appears down the line at a festival, considering SL has never had a proper release here.

On the matter of Jolie... I'm not a fan. I think it's great what she does on a humanitarean level, but I generally just don't respond to her as an actress and I'm as sick of looking at her as I am sick of looking at Paris, Britney or whoever has a reality show on MTV. I thought she was great in A Mighty Heart though, although I wouldn't have nominated her.

I don't think The Changeling will go anywhere very far with Oscar though. It's like everybody seems to have forgotten that after Unforgiven he made Blood Work and Absolute Power and True Crime and Goodnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, ya know? He can't go on getting nominated every time he makes a movie. And considering Changeling is about kidnapped children in the 1920s? ...I'm skeptical.

11:09 AM, May 26, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@KC: I've only seen Head On among Kokkinos' films, and I wasn't wild about it, though I appreciated the specificity of its cultural point of view (Greek Australians).

Still Life played here for two weeks, and I was desperate to see it, but just like so much else since I doubled my teaching load in January, it fell by the wayside of my job schedule. I have a really low batting average for 2008. If you leave out the film festival, I haven't been inside a theater since late March or early April.

I would love to see Jolie use more of the tact and diplomatic restraint, even the gentleness that often comes through in her personal appearances in the service of more performances. Her casting rarely allows for this, but it's one of the most interesting things she can do as a performer, is play a little bit against the intensity of The Face. (I'm not expecting to like Wanted all that much.)

4:26 PM, May 26, 2008  
Blogger Sam Brooks said...

Not quite from Britland, but from the humble oasis of New Zealand. Home of The Piano! (Not Lord of the Rings, sorry.)

And I understand what you mean by unreasonable attachments and dislikes among actors; in the cases of Alex Pettyfer (a pretty actor who has yet to show his talent) and Hillary Swank (who I just can't get into as an actress) respectively.

It's just a personal thing, I guess!

11:53 PM, May 26, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Brooke: How did I get turned around with that? Do I blame that Saoirse posting avatar you had for so long? I promise that I am so not one of those Americans - unlike, say, Jack Palance - who can't tell a Kiwi from an Aussie from a Brit. My sister-in-law is from NZ and she would kill me.

11:59 PM, May 26, 2008  
Blogger Sam Brooks said...

I never had a Saoirse avatar, Mr. Nick! Prior to this fantabulous little thing, I had a blank space. I don't blame you for thinking I'm British, though. Even via the interwebs, it's hard to tell.

It's Kiwi all the way though!

3:57 AM, May 28, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Brooke: Jesus. Seriously. What could I even say at this point? I do know who you are. I have not completely lost my mind. Or if I am, maybe I can look like Julie Christie while I do it.

11:15 PM, May 28, 2008  

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