Saturday, January 28, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: Bridesmaids

Running Time: 125 minutes
Nominations: 2 (Best Supporting Actress: Melissa McCarthy; Best Original Screenplay)
Availability in the US: On DVD and Blu-ray
MPAA Rating: Rated R for some strong sexuality, and language throughout

Bridesmaids, the screenwriting debut of Saturday Night Live's Kristen Wiig, follows the story of out-of-work pastry chef Annie Walker (Wiig) whose best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) asks her to be maid of honor at Lillian's wedding. The trouble starts when Annie and fellow bridesmaid Helen start competing over who is a better friend to Lillian.

Bridesmaids is many things—raunchy, ridiculous, occasionally cringe-worthy— but Oscar-worthy is not one of them. For a film billed as the funniest of the year, I found real laughs to be few and far-between. Wiig's Annie was essentially a combination of traits from her SNL characters; the scene where Helen and Annie attempt to one-up each other at Lillian's engagement party feels like it would fit better as a skit on the show.

The two bright spots in the film are Annie's love interest, Officer Nathan Rhodes (Chris O'Dowd), whose kind and gentle humor offers a welcome contrast to the rest of the film, and Lillian's soon-to-be sister-in-law Megan (Melissa McCarthy). McCarthy is best known for lighthearted comedies like Gilmore Girls and Mike & Molly, so her gruff, rowdy, and deliciously dirty performance here is quite the revelation. Though McCarthy is not immune to some of the overall downfalls for the film—one scene in a dress shop comes to mind—her superior performance allows her to rise above the pack. McCarthy is the only actress taking her role seriously rather than milking it for laughs, and that's what makes her seriously funny.

Though she is the highlight of the film, McCarthy has little chance of actually winning the Oscar. Comedic roles are rarely recognized by the Academy, though the supporting categories are the occasional exception. Seeing as McCarthy is up against some tough contenders in much better films, I doubt she will be the victor. The film's nominated screenplay also seems unlikely to triumph since it is up against better (The Artist), timelier (Margin Call) and more critically acclaimed (Midnight in Paris) fare.

Grade: C-

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Oscar Nominations Announced!

There were a few surprises (Max von Sydow and Demián Bichir nominated, Michael Fassbender and Leonardo DiCaprio snubbed) and a few non-surprises (Meryl Streep earned her 17th career nomination). See the full list of nominees for the 84th Academy Awards, and check back at the blog later for analysis, trivia, and reviews of all the major nominated films.

If you don't already, make sure to follow us on Twitter (@OscarTrivia) and subscribe to our blog to get the latest Oscars news, buzz, updates, and reviews.

Live Tweeting the Nominations Announcement

Be sure to check out our live tweeting of the nominations announcement for the 84th Academy Awards at 5:30 AM PST/8:30 AM EST this morning (about seven and a half hours from now). If you're not already following us on Twitter, visit our page now (@OscarTrivia) to subscribe to our tweets!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nomination Predictions

With the announcement of this year's nominations just around the corner, it's time to make some predictions.

Best Picture

As you may be aware, rule changes for this year's Oscars mean that the Best Picture category will include anywhere from 5–10 nominees. This makes predicting this category a tad more difficult than in years past, but we'll give it a shot anyway. Most of the pre-Oscar awards have gone to The Descendants and The Artist, while there has been quite a bit of awards buzz around The Help and Hugo, so those four are pretty much locked in. The additional slot or slots are up for grabs; it's likely that War Horse will earn the fifth spot with critical favorite Midnight in Paris also making the cut. I'm expecting there to be seven nominees with the last nod up for grabs between Moneyball; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2; and maybe even Bridesmaids. Given Brad Pitt's likely nomination, I'd give the edge to Moneyball.

Best Director

Since 2009 the trouble in predicting this category has been deciding which Best Picture nominees to leave out. Only one film since 1932 has won Best Picture without its director earning a nod, so the strategy here is to take the films most likely to win Best Picture and guess their directors. This leaves us with Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Alexander Payne (The Descendants), and Martin Scorcese (Hugo) being shoo-ins. The fourth spot will most likely go to Steven Spielberg (War Horse) with the last spot going to Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris), Terrence Mallick (The Tree of Life), or—unlikely, but stranger things have happened—David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Best Actor

Locks: Bet on George Clooney (The Descendants), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), and Michael Fassbender (Shame).
Probables: Brad Pitt (Moneyball) and Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar) are pretty safe guesses...
Dark Horses: ...but look for Ryan Gosling (Drive or Ides of March) or Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy).

Best Actress

Locks: Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn) have won most of the early awards; Viola Davis (The Help) and Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs) have been getting all kinds of great buzz.
Maybes: The last nomination is up for grabs between Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), and Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene).

Best Supporting Actor

Locks: Christopher Plummer (Beginners) and Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
Probables: Albert Brooks (Drive), Armie Hammer (J. Edgar), and Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
Dark Horse: Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close)

Best Supporting Actress

Locks: Octavia Spencer (The Help) and Bérénice Bejo (The Artist)
Probables: Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) and Jessica Chastain (The Help)
Maybes: Carey Mulligan (Shame), Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs), and Shailene Woodley (The Descendants).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Check Out Our Awards Season Tracker

Having trouble making your nominations predictions ahead of next Tuesday's announcement (and too impatient to wait for our predictions this weekend)? Check out our exclusive Awards Season Tracker to see who has been nominated for and won all the key pre-Oscar awards this season.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Academy Launches Digital Experience

Today the Academy relaunched the Oscars Digital Experience, the interactive online home of the Academy Awards. The site features exclusive a blog, video content, and an interactive timeline. Launching soon will be a predictions game and several exclusive web series covering everything from the Best Picture nominees to red-carpet fashion.

At launch, the site featured this "behind the scenes" video with Billy Crystal:

New Site, Same Blog

Do not adjust your screen; we did this on purpose!

If you're a long-time reader of the blog (yes, I'm talking to both of you), you may have noticed some not-so-subtle changes around here in the last week. With this redesign, TheOscarsBlog is now a part of the newly launched Fear not, gentle readers; TheOscarsBlog will keep doing what it has always done: providing predictions, the latest news on the Oscars, reviews of all the nominated films, and that hint of snarky sarcasm you've all come to love (hate?).

Oh, and since you're reading this, feel free to check out the full site: Your #1 source for everything you could ever want to know—and probably some things you wish you could forget— about the Academy Awards.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Oscars Trailer

Today the Academy released a trailer for this year's Academy Awards. Beginning today and over the next month, the trailer will show in over 2,000 theaters nationwide. Produced in conjunction with Funny or Die, the trailer features a few recognizable faces, and it is definitely a bit different from the trailers of years past. Check it out and let me know what you think: