Miami is one of 14 cities in the U.S. that will get a special sneak preview of There Will Blood tomorrow (Dec. 29) at midnight. The movie, which opens in regular release on Jan. 11, will be shown at the Regal South Beach. Here's a cool little video invitation for the special screenings, put together by the filmmakers especially for you.
My annual Herald Movie Yearbook, in which I take one last look back at the year in movies, is running this Friday. The complete list will appear in the Weekend section, but here's a little preview:
Worst timing: Dreamgirls' Eddie Murphy, once favored to win the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, went home empty-handed in part for starring in the lowbrow Norbit, released mere weeks before Oscar night.
Most touching line of dialogue: "It's for me." - the German secret service police agent in The Lives of Others played by the late Ulrich Muhe, who passed away this summer at age 54 from stomach cancer.
Most unnerving moment: "Before I kill you, I'm going to throw your baby out the window." - the Zodiac killer to a stranded motorist (Ione Skye) riding in his car with her child on her lap in David Fincher's Zodiac.
I'm a little late to the party with this bit of news, but the Florida Film Critics Circle is the latest critics' group to anoint No Country For Old Men as the year's best movie.
Here is the complete list of winners announced Friday, voted on by film critics and writers from around the Sunshine State:
Best Picture: No Country For Old Men
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Best Actress: Ellen Page, Juno
Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Best Directors: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men
Best Screenplay: Diablo Cody, Juno
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, No Country For Old Men and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Best Documentary: No End in Sight
Best Foreign-Language Film: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Best Animated Film: Ratatouille
Pauline Kael Breakout Award: Ellen Page, Juno
Best Original Songs: Once
1) No Country for Old Men: Joel and Ethan Coen did away with any kind of musical score for their adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel about the erosion of the basic values and humanity that America was built upon. The film's prevailing quiet was by turns suspenseful, eerie, nerve-racking and, ultimately, devastatingly sad -- a silent cry of despair. A masterpiece.
2) There Will Be Blood: Director Paul Thomas Anderson's grand, mad epic about the spiraling war between a driven oil baron (Daniel Day-Lewis) and an equally driven preacher (Paul Dano) in early 20th century California has the sweep and grandeur of a John Ford western, along with the wonderful strangeness of Anderson's previous films (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love). The performance by Day-Lewis stands alongside Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire and Robert De Niro in Raging Bull as one of the greatest of all time. (Opens in South Florida on Jan. 11)
3) The Lives of Others: The debut of 33-year-old German writer-director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck had the wisdom and insight of a film made by a filmmaker twice his age, a poised and entrancing examination of the things that we may not necessarily need to survive -- art, intellectual curiosity, compassion, tolerance, love -- but make us better human beings for embracing.
4) Before the Devil Knows You're Dead: It would be easy to describe this thriller by 83-year-old Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon) as cynical or nihilistic. But only a deeply moral filmmaker could have made this story about two brothers (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke) planning a perfect heist leave you so utterly shaken and broken.
5) Michael Clayton: Channeling the 1970s-era vibe of The Conversation and Network, this legal drama about a fixer (George Clooney) trying to keep a high-profile case from spinning out of control was no mere Grisham knock-off. The directorial debut of screenwriter Tony Gilroy illustrated -- within the context of a dynamic, intelligent thriller -- the fate that awaits a society that surrenders to the money-is-everything credo.
6) No End in Sight: Charles Ferguson's accessible, comprehensive documentary about the events leading up to America's involvement in the Iraq War should have been required viewing -- not because it's so lucid and informational, but simply because it was such a thoroughly compelling movie. Do yourself a favor and watch it on DVD.
7) The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: No film this year celebrated life more vibrantly or eloquently than Julian Schnabel's visually enrapturing, inspiring drama, based on the true story of the French magazine editor (played by Mathieu Almaric) who had to relearn everything he thought he knew after suffering a crippling stroke at age 42. (Opens Tuesday.)
8) American Gangster: Ridley Scott toned down his trademark glossy style and gave center stage to his actors for this fact-based drama about a self-made Harlem drug kingpin (Denzel Washington) and the undercover cop on his trail (Russell Crowe). As good as The French Connection and Serpico -- which says a lot.
9) The Bourne Ultimatum: Director Paul Greengrass' final chapter in the Jason Bourne trilogy was a summer action picture distilled to its purest, hardest, most thrilling essence -- a breathtaking display of contemporary filmmaking in which a shoot-em-up becomes art.
10) Zodiac: I liked David Fincher's re-creation of the decades-long search for the notorious San Francisco serial killer well enough the first time around. But like many of Stanley Kubrick's movies, it wasn't until my second viewing that the depth of the film's accomplishments -- and the bravery of its dense, intricate, yet near-plotless structure -- really sunk in. The director's cut being released on DVD on Jan. 8 is superior to the theatrical version.
Honorable mentions: Atonement, Away From Her, Death Proof (aka the second half of Grindhouse), Hot Fuzz, Knocked Up, Juno, Once, Ratatouille, Superbad, Sweeney Todd.
If you've watched Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl on Blu-ray disc, you might have felt something was a little off - like Orlando Bloom's head being missing in certain scenes, or shots that focused on Johnny Depp's feet when they should have focused on his face.
The Walt Disney Co. has acknowledged that the transfer on the disc was accidentally misframed. Even better, they're doing something about it. Just call 1-800-723-4763 and Disney will mail you a replacement disc free of charge. You'll need to have your copy of the film in your hands, since they will ask you to read them certain numbers off the disc. If you're phone-phobic, or if you get a busy signal, you can do it online here.
It's very cool - and highly unusual - for a company of Disney's size to take care of a screw-up so quickly and easily. Now if only they had a program where they could magically turn the two Pirates sequels into good movies...
The Southeastern Film Critics Association, one of the excellent critic groups I belong to, has voted No Country For Old Men the best picture of 2007. The movie also won Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay (for Joel and Ethan Coen) and Best Supporting Actor (for Javier Bardem).
Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor for There Will Be Blood, Julie Christie won Best Actress for Away From Her, and Amy Ryan was named Best Supporting Actress for Gone Baby Gone. I am happy to say that the winners reflect my votes exactly, with the exception of the Supporting Actress category (I voted for Cate Blanchett in I'm Not There, who was the runner-up in the category; she lost by one measly point).
SEFCA is comprised of more than 40 film journalists and critics from the southeastern U.S. Here is the complete list of the 2007 winners and runners-up, including the winner of the Wyatt Award, given each year to the film that best represents the South.
BEST PICTURE 1. No Country for Old Men 2. There Will Be Blood 3. Atonement 4. Juno 5. Michael Clayton 6. Zodiac 7. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford 8. Gone Baby Gone 9. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly 10. Into the Wild BEST ACTOR Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood * Runner-up: George Clooney - Michael Clayton BEST ACTRESS Julie Christie - Away from Her * Runner-up: Ellen Page - Juno BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men * Runner-up: Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone * Runner-up: Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There BEST DIRECTOR Joel & Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men * Runner-up: Joe Wright - Atonement BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Diablo Cody - Juno * Runner-up: Tamara Jenkins - The Savages BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Joel & Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men * Runner-up: Christopher Hampton - Atonement BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (France) * Runner-up: La vie en rose (France) BEST DOCUMENTARY No End in Sight * Runner-up: Sicko BEST ANIMATED FEATURE Ratatouille * Runner-up: The Simpsons Movie WYATT AWARD Waitress * Runner-up: Black Snake Moan
1. No Country for Old Men
2. There Will Be Blood
5. Michael Clayton
7. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
8. Gone Baby Gone
9. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
10. Into the Wild
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
* Runner-up: George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Julie Christie - Away from Her
* Runner-up: Ellen Page - Juno
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
* Runner-up: Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
* Runner-up: Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There
Joel & Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men
* Runner-up: Joe Wright - Atonement
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Diablo Cody - Juno
* Runner-up: Tamara Jenkins - The Savages
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Joel & Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men
* Runner-up: Christopher Hampton - Atonement
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (France)
* Runner-up: La vie en rose (France)
No End in Sight
* Runner-up: Sicko
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
* Runner-up: The Simpsons Movie
* Runner-up: Black Snake Moan
I love Ang Lee's The Ice Storm and have always wished it would get a proper DVD release that would give the movie the respect it deserves. The only one available, which has cluttered store cutout bins everywhere for years, is rather anemic (OK, pathetic).
The tony folks at the Criterion Collection - the best publishers of special edition DVDs in the known universe - apparently agree, since they have announced a two-disc set of the film for March. The set will feature a new transfer of the movie, audio commentary with Lee and producer James Schamus, deleted scenes and retrospective interviews with the cast members, although not Tobey Maguire. Guess Spider-Man was just too busy.
The New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association have announced their choices for the best accomplishments in film in 2007, and as usual, the two groups awarded their biggest honors to two different films.
The East Coasters went with Joel and Ethan Coen's No Country For Old Men, giving it the awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (for Javier Bardem).
The West Coasters, meanwhile, settled on Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, which won the prizes for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (for Daniel Day-Lewis) and Best Production Design.
The New Yorkers didn't exactly ignore Blood: They, too, named Day-Lewis Best Actor and gave the Best Cinematography trophy to Blood's Robert Elswit. Being an East Coaster myself, I have to agree with the NYFCC. I have two movies left to see before finalizing my year-end top 10 and voting in the critics' groups that I belong to (OK, it's really three movies, but my expectations are different for that one).
But while I suspect No Country For Old Men will still be my favorite movie of the year by the end of the week, There Will Be Blood is the one I'd be most eager to sit down and watch again right now - not only for Day-Lewis' performance, which I'd describe as one of the all-time great feats of movie acting, but also for the film itself, which is the kind of thing you want to savor and digest and think about over an extended period of time.
There Will Be Blood is a great, strange, visionary, unsettling epic, and anyone who has even a passing interest in movies will cherish the admittedly challenging experience of watching it. Paramount Vantage is not planning to release Blood in South Florida until January 11, so local audiences will have to wait a little longer than New York and L.A.. Mark your calendar - and prepare yourself.
The NBR is known for often making some odd choices, but this year, it's hard to argue with the bulk of their picks. Here's a rundown of their major awards:
Best Film: No Country For Old Men
Best Director: Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd
Best Actor: George Clooney, Michael Clayton Best Actress: Julie Christie, Away From Her Best Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Best Actor: George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Best Actress: Julie Christie, Away From Her
Best Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Best Ensemble Cast: No Country For Old Men
Best Directorial Debut: Ben Affleck, Gone Baby Gone
Best Original Screenplay (tie): Diablo Cody, Juno and Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl
Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men
Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: Emile Hirsch, Into The Wild
Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: Ellen Page, Juno
Best Foreign Film: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Best Documentary: Body of War
Best Animated Feature: Ratatouille