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Mitch Cyrus

hurt-lockerThe final film to look at in this week’s review of the major contenders is the one that is currently considered the favorite, “The Hurt Locker”.  That this film is in this position is quite a story in itself.  The movie only made $12 million at the box office, which would make it the lowest grossing film to ever win Best Picture.  That would make it a true “David Vs Goliath” story as everyone knows how many bajillion dollars “Avatar” has raked in over the past three months.

The other bit of side drama is the competition for Best Director between James Cameron and the director of “The Hurt Locker”, Kathryn Bigelow, who just so happens to be James Cameron’s ex-wife.

So with that as the background, let’s look at the movie itself.

As noted numerous times in my columns, movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been box office poison.  The general public just doesn’t want to go out and see them, even if they are not films that would be considered either “pro-war” or “anti-war”.  This is a shame, as there have been a couple of pretty decent films that have come out on the subject.  “In the Valley of Elah” is one of them, and this is another.  But while “In the Valley of Elah” is predominately a mystery set in the U.S. with the wars serving only as background, “The Hurt Locker” puts you right in the middle of the action, and rarely focuses on anything else.


Mitch Cyrus

For those of you expecting to see my weekly recap of Monday's episode of "24" in this time slot, I regret to say that you are going to have to wait a few days.  It's not that the Oscar coverage has gotten in the way, it's just that technical difficulties have found me in San Francisco on a business trip, and unable to even WATCH Monday's episode until I get back home to my trusty DVR.  Our apologies for the delay.

That being said, let's look back at another of the prime contenders for the title of Best Picture.  "Inglourious Basterds" is a film that has seemingly created a new category; Historical Revenge Fantasy.  It is unlike any movie you've seen before, and one that I must admit that I liked even better the second time around, because I was no longer waisting time trying to clear my head from the "What the Hell?" moments.

I am also under the opinion that this movie may just sneak in and win Best Picture, due to the fact that "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" are going to be splitting the votes nearly evenly, and therefore this picture is the one that will be voted for by many people who find neither of those two as worthy enough for the crown.  We shall see on Sunday.  Now to the review itself


Mitch Cyrus

As we continue our look at the contenders for Best Picture, we come to the $700 million elephant in the room, James Cameron's mega-blockbuster "Avatar".  This film has blown past the former all-time box office champion "Titanic", which not coincidentily was also made by Cameron, and is also a lightning rod for controversy, as "Titanic" is now regarded by many critics and fans as one of the least deserving films ever to win "Best Picture".  Will "Avatar" follow in those footsteps?  And does it deserve all of the love and all of the hate it's been getting?  If you read my review from earlier, you'll know my opinion.  If not, you get a chance to hear it now.

For those of you who have very little time to spare this week, I'll make it simple for you and give you a one-word review of James Cameron's "Avatar":


This movie goes right up there with 1993's  "Jurassic Park" as films that simply blow you away entertainment-wise with new technologies that create visuals you never thought possible on the big screen.  And now in the last month of the last year of the decade, we have a movie that I feel will go down as something that will be remembered and talked about for the next generation.


Mitch Cyrus

UpInTheAirWe continue our run-up to Oscar week by looking back at "Up in the Air".  This film was the early favorite of critics as the Best Picture of the year, but has seemingly ran out of steam against the much talked about David vs Goliath battle between "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker".  Which is a shame, as I still personally feel that this is the best movie of the year.  George Clooney is also deserving of Best Actor award that he'll probably lose to Jeff Bridges, and Vera Farminga and Anna Kendrick will split their votes for Best Supporting Actress, allowing Moniqu'e to easily win the award.

Awards aside, this movie comes out next Tuesday to DVD, and I will certainly add it to my collection the very first day, and will enjoy watching it again and again.  It is that good, and that relevant to the world we live in today. 

Expectations are the worst thing in the life of a movie critic.  Despite my "attempts" at remaining neutral, I almost always go into a film with my expectations pre-set.  Often, it is to prepare myself to be disappointed, so that I can concentrate a little more on acting, character development, and chemistry...things that can often make a mediocre movie much better".  The worst is when I go in with very high expectations...movies that are already being touted as "serious Oscar contenders".  Too often, these movies fall flat in my book.  Maybe it was because my expectations were unrealistic; "Million Dollar Baby", "No Country for Old Men", and "Milk" fall into that category.  Other times, the movie just isn't that good...after which I get really snippy about my disappointment.  "Atonement" and "The Reader" are two recent examples of that.


Mitch Cyrus

blind_sideThe Oscars will be broadcast next Sunday night, and as is our tradition at TheClevelandFan, we will be looking at the film vying for the title of Best Picture.  We start with "The Blind Side", the surprise hit of the year and one of the highest grossing football films of all time.  While this "feel good" film is one of six films that will be content with just being nominated, it may not be shut out of the major awards, as Sandra Bullock is the favorite to win Best Actress for her role as the spunky, real life Leigh Anne Touhy.

Just three years ago, Michael Lewis wrote a very unique and very successful book about football entitled "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game".  The book focused primarily on two very distinct topics, one of which was a very technical analysis of the changes to the game of football over the last three decades, starting with the arrival in the NFL of Lawrence Taylor.  Taylor's dominant play from the outside linebacker position, particularly as a pass rusher attacking the left side of the offense, led to a fundamental shift in offensive line play.  In order to protect the highly valued (and highly paid) quarterbacks, teams needed a new type of player...a left tackle that could counter the new style of pass rushers; behemoths who were blessed with incredible strength, incredible quickness, and incredible finesse.  These protectors of the quarterback's "blind side" have evolved to the point that they are often the second highest paid players on NFL teams.


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