Friday, February 22, 2008

Time for the Bellamy -- um, Academy -- Awards

For 11 years now my friend Jason Bellamy, a fellow fantasy baseball nerd and a generous member of last year's "Team Mark" poker backers, has been putting an incredible amount of work into his other avocation, the movies.

I'd venture that Jason sees more flicks than most readers of M&M combined, and in a decidedly un-lucrative labor of love he has closed out every year by compiling a booklet of his thoughts on the year's films, including his picks for best picture and a number of other categories. These he dispenses by mail, complete with sealed envelopes containing the winners, as the "Bellamy Awards."

A few weeks ago, prompted he says by the encouragement of his friends, Jason launched a film blog, The Cooler Cinema, that I can tell will be one of my favorite movie sites. We don't always agree -- he liked "Juno" more than I did; I liked and he disliked the ending of "Atonement" -- but he's a thoughtful, engaging critic and I often find myself reassessing a picture after reading his take.

The blog's off to a good start, inviting participation from a small contingent of readers, and this week, in advance of Sunday's Oscars telecast, Jason reprinted his 2007 reviews of the best-picture nominees: "Atonement," "Juno," "Michael Clayton," "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood."

Unlike a lot of film sites, The Cooler doesn't attempt to predict the Oscar winners, or even lobby for his favorites (although readers of the January Bellamy Awards booklet know where he stands). He just offers his thoughts and invites discussion. Coolio.

In a bit of Oscar preparation here, I took the girls tonight to see "Juno." (Michelle was working; she and I saw it together already.) All four of us enjoyed it: endearing characters, tremendous acting, quirky and memorable writing. We're also thinking about seeing "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" this weekend. And my ex, Greta, a member of the Screen Actors Guild, loaned me her screener-copy DVDs of several nominated films, so I may still get to see "Away from Her," with Julie Christie's Oscar-nominated performance, before Sunday night. Very nice.

We all love the Oscars around here. Our big plan is a family pizza-making and award-watching party Sunday evening.

Before the movie tonight I asked the girls their picks for the big awards. They weren't identical, but they were all combinations of "Sweeney Todd," "Atonement" and "Across the Universe" in every category.

We'll see.

For a professional's predictions, check out "The Carpetbagger," the New York Times' correspondent David Carr, who seems pretty plugged in.

Your thoughts?


freda said...

I checked it out, its a good site, thanks.

Rita said...

Oh, the joys of M&M!

The days just disappear into cyber-space. Great entertainment and enlightenment, Mark.

I love Bellamy's Cooler Cinema. His critiques show a lot of skill. I must say I was glad to see you disagree with his opinion of the ending of Atonement. I re-read the book ending, after seeing the movie, and I considered the movie ending genius.

Your week-end sounds perfect. I'm looking forward to Oscars tomorrow night.

Rita said...

P.S. Sooooo happy that Carpetbagger selected Marion Cotiillard as best actress for La Vie en Rose. Such an amazing performance.

Janice said...

Oscars come on too late for the eastern time zone, I've never made through the show

Jason Bellamy said...

Mark: Thanks for the plug. I'm flattered.

"M&M" readers, consider this a personal invitation to visit "The Cooler" anytime you'd like and to leave comments.

And don't feel you have to know me to let me know what a moron I am. Trust me, I can take it. And I'll be craving some debate as the blog moves forward.

But staying in the now...
Tonight "The Cooler" will be live-blogging the Oscars. Feel free to stop on by, at least in the segment of the program where Jessica Alba tells us how she hosted the techie awards and really, truly enjoyed herself.

Here's your ticket...

And here's to the movies!

freda said...

I don't keep up with the Oscars, but I am glad to see that Marion Cotillard was selected for best actress, she was brilliant, loved the movie. I loved Edith Piaf. thanks for the info Rita. also thanks to Jason, love your site.

freda said...

and now for something completely different;
I finally left the work (on the house and condo here and in Maryland) and went downtown (New Orleans) to have brunch with a friend. We went to the Veranda, in the Inter Continental Hotel, they have a champagne jazz brunch on Sundays, it was fantastic, I recommend it to all visitors, good jazz, great food, the champagne flows, that's the way New Orleans should be, the way it was before Katrina. Now I am watching Idol, because there isn't anything els on, and I just want to veg for a while.

Mark said...

We watched "Away From Her" last night. Really good movie -- emotional and moving without being overwrought or weepy -- and Julie Christie's performance really is remarkable.

My guess is that it's not showy enough and the movie wasn't popular enough for her to win best actress, but it certainly would be justified if she did.

It feels like it's between her and Marion. Either would be an excellent choice.

Anyway, I recommend "Away From Her" if you get a chance to see it.