Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Written by Erin Cresside Wilson
Directed by Atom Egoyan
Starring Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried

Catherine Stewart: I don’t know whether I should be relieved or just go hang myself.

Atom Egoyan is one of Canada’s most celebrated auteur filmmakers but you would never know it from watching his latest, CHLOE. I thought the hyper-sexualized erotic thriller went out in the ‘90’s but Egoyan seems bent on bringing it back with this remake of the 2004 Anne Fontaine (COCO AVANT CHANEL) film, NATHALIE. He also seems bent on proving that Toronto, where the film takes place, is just as stylish as New York City, but he may just end up ruining his reputation for being talented and insightful at the same time.

Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) is the first person we meet. She is pulling up her stockings, presumably getting dressed after an intimate encounter, or on her way to one, from the look of her under garments. She thinks to herself about how much attention must be paid to detail in her line of work. As she continues on about sexual needs and how to anticipate them, it becomes explicitly clear what line of work that really is. The words that come out of her mouth are sharp and meant to be shocking. Only we’ve met this girl plenty of times already and she has nothing new to say. She’s just pretty when she says it.

We next meet Catherine and David Stewart (Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson). They are a well-to-do couple who have been together for many years and have an adolescent son living with them. They are surrounded by excess and yet she’s miserable and he doesn’t care. She suspects he’s having an affair; he flirts shamelessly in front of her. They can’t even work together when it comes to dealing with their own son. It should be no surprise then that instead of confronting her husband when she suspects him of having an affair that she hires a prostitute to trap him so that she can know for a fact. Enter Chloe and exit all sense of suspense and surprise.

Let alone that rich, white people bringing problems upon themselves is hardly something an audience can sympathize with, Egoyan is also overtly obvious with all of his other intentions as well. I understand that he wants to open the discussion about sexual politics and the increasing disconnected nature of our modern society but I don’t need scene after scene of Seyfried talking dirty to Moore about her husband or a breakup on web cam to get those points. And while Seyfried does her best to remain hauntingly distant and neutral throughout to mask her deep-rooted emotional issues, it is still pretty clear every step of the way what is coming next. CHLOE is a thriller without any thrills, sexual or otherwise. Toronto looks good though.

For a previous interview with Atom Egoyan, regarding his 2009 film, ADORATION, click the title.

For an interview with Steven Soderbergh about THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE, a much better insight into the life of a high-priced escort, again, click the title.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Black Sheep presents Blu-Tuesday

Two giant holiday releases from last year make their way to homes everywhere this week.  It should be a pretty insane sales week, what with these titles and Easter coming up this weekend.  The reigning sales champ is THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON.  The set sold 4 million plus units in its first week of release, 17% of which came from BD sales.  Somehow though, on the rental side of the board, the whiny little vampire folk only managed a second place debut.  Second place is none too shabby considering the film only came out on the Saturday of that week, giving it only two days to qualify.  Still, it lost the crown to DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS?  That's got to be a pain in the neck

Here are this week's biggest BD releases ...

The good folks at Warner Bros. sent me over a copy of this Guy Ritchie hit from 2009.  I caught the SHERLOCK HOLMES in theatres and, at the time, thought it was somewhat overly complicated but still a good thrill ride nonetheless.  Holmes is supposed to be some sort of super detective genius and, while his genius as channeled through the further genius of Robert Downey Jr., provides wit so quick, it can be tricky to keep up with, it also alienates the viewer from figuring out any part of the mystery themselves.  I like to have a fighting chance as someone watching to figure out what is going on.  Still, in my living room, the exquisite sets and art direction are something to behold and the thrills are still there.  BD extras include a full picture in picture tour from Ritchie and look for Downey Jr. himself to join in a community screening of the film through BD live options, this Thursday, April 1, at 9:00 PM, EST.

Every time I have to type the word "squeakquel", I want to vomit a little.  This juggernaut of a family film did even better business than its predecessor and not surprisingly will be followed up with a third film in 3D.  I'm not sure what the appeal is for children.  This isn't exactly a well-known brand to this generation, or at least it wasn't before the first film came out.  Yet still, the kids seem to be eating up just as quick as these little rodents are eating up their own poo.  BD extras, so you can be sure to really get your chipmunk on, include plenty of interactive games and sing-a-long's for your kids to drive you insane with all throughout Easter weekend.

Now this is where my money is going this week.  Lone Scherfig's Oscar-nominated film is an elegant and tasteful experience but it is also a telling lesson that all should learn.  I intend to learn my lesson again in my Sunday best with tea and scones just to make sure I do it right.  I should be careful though; I don't want to give the impression that AN EDUCATION is a snotty film.  It is quite the opposite.  The brilliant cast, led by the enchanting Carey Mulligan, paint a beautiful portrait of what it was like to be a girl in 1960's Britain.  Author, Nick Hornby's first screenplay is so subtle and so insightful that you don't even realize how much you're being schooled until it's done.  You will not want to miss this class.  BD extras include commentary with director, Scherfug, Mulligan and co-star, Peter Saarsgard.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Black Sheep @ The Box Office

I met a guy last week who was really keen on seeing HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON.  No, it was not the 3D element that was calling to him, as it did to millions of people this weekend.  No, he just really digs dragons.  With the positive reviews, both from critics and audiences alike for this Dreamworks animation, I'm pretty sure he won't be the only one digging on dragons for very long.

Between HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON and ALICE IN WONDERLAND following in second place, 3D pictures continue to command the dollar of the movie going audience.  There isn't enough room for three 3D titles in the Top 10 this weekend though.  The biggest box office success of all time, AVATAR, exits the Top 10 for the first time in its 15 weeks of release.  Its disappearance from the public consciousness will only be temporary though as the film will be made available to purchase within the next month.

As HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON basks in the warm, soothing bubbles of its own great success - one of the Top 10 March debuts in history - HOT TUB TIME MACHINE had to wait in line to get in.  The buzz for this time travel comedy has been boiling over -  I promise, I'll stop - in recent weeks and most were expecting a surprisingly large gross this weekend .. which wouldn't really make it a surprise, mind you.  The insider buzz didn't spread though and this Steve Pink film had to settle for third place.

A few Top 10 titles managed solid holds this week, suggesting repeat business and good word of mouth later in the run.  I tried to warn you guys but yet THE BOUNTY HUNTER managed a reasonable drop of only 40% this weekend.  If you missed it last weekend, you really should have just let it go.  I want to see a much steeper decline next week, alright?  Meanwhile, SHUTTER ISLAND and SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUE managed even better declines of less than 40%.

Below the Top 10, Noah Baumbach's GREENBERG, starring Ben Stiller, added 178 screens for a grand total of 181, and saw an increase of nearly 800%.  It pulled in a solid average of just under $6K and has made $1.2 million in two limited weeks.  On less screens, it managed to pull in more than Canadian filmmaker, Atom Egoyan's latest thriller, CHLOE.  The Toronto-based love triangle debuted in 13th place this week, with a total of just over $1 million on 350 screens.  Some of that money is mine as I saw the film on Friday.  The Black Sheep review is coming in the next week.

NEXT WEEK: Next Saturday is my birthday.  Every year on my birthday weekend, there is nothing but garbage released in theatres .. or at least what I presume to be garbage or movies that completely disinterest me.  This year is no different whatsoever.  On Wednesday, hoping to score some early Easter money, the Miley Cyrus movie, THE LAST SONG, opens on 2500 screens.  The Tyler Perry sequel, WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO? opens on 2000 screens on Friday.  There are a few indie sprinklings here and there but the big guy in town with be CLASH OF THE TITANS, roaring on to 3600 screens, with a bunch of them being 3D.  Of those three, which do you think I have no interest in and which do you think I think look like garbage?  Happy birthday to me, indeed.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Written and Directed by Noah Baumbach
Starring Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans and Jennifer Jason Leigh

Florence: Hurt people hurt people.

Noah Baumbach, the Oscar-nominated writer and director of THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, has a knack for creating characters that are troubled and difficult to be around. His fascination with giving a voice to those no one wants to hear, shows his immense sympathy as a writer and director, but it also means that his characters are not easy to endure for two hours straight. In his latest film, GREENBERG, he gives us another gem of a man – complicated, broken and the kind you would desperately avoid if you could.

Ben Stiller is this man, one Roger Greenberg. Fresh from his time in a mental hospital for a nervous breakdown, Greenberg has left the comforts of New York City to do nothing for a while at his brother’s place in Los Angeles. While in the city, he meets up with buddies and ex-girlfriends from his rock star youth days but not because he wants to. He does so because it is a lot easier than forming any new relationships in his life. The supporting cast - Rhys Ifans and Jennifer Jason Leigh representing the old and Greta Gerwig charmingly representing the new - struggle too but the way they handle themselves only further shows how little dealing Greenerg is actually doing. Still that naïve, failed rocker, he has not progressed past his glory days and he is quickly realizing that they weren’t so glorious to begin with.

Stiller doesn’t have to try very hard to be unlikable but he still does the depth of Greenberg’s sorrow justice all the same. Successfully capturing a character that is so narcissistic and oblivious not an easy feat. The more successful you are though, the more you run the risk of alienating everyone watching. You want to like Greenberg; you can tell the people around him want to like him; but until he actually considers liking himself, there isn’t a lot to like about him. Fortunately for him, at least Baumbach still has his back, and fortunately for us, Baumbach still has ours too.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Black Sheep's Blu-Tuesday

What a crazy day for the buying public it is .. myself included. I'm going to have to dig into my sofa cushions because there are just way too many things to buy today. I know I won't be able to resist when I walk past so either I just don't walk past or I give in now and just accept my fate. This could mean that by the end of the day, the following items will find their way to my already crowded shelves.

I was fortunate enough to catch these two great Pixar films back to back and in 3D when Disney re-released them last fall. Both films are looking fantastic so many years later and, although you can feel the concessions Pixar would have had to make at the time to appease Disney, you can also see the great promise of Pixar that was made then but has been fulfilled time and time again. Extras on the first time BD releases are as plentiful as any Pixar release, including commentaries, elaborate behind the scenes features and sneak peaks at TOY STORY 3

I just finished the fourth season of LOST last night so I'm looking forward to taking a small break from the island and getting back to the good old traditional values of the great men and women and MAD MEN. I don't know much about the third season but if it is anywhere near as stylish, subtle and suggestive as the first two seasons, there is no way I can be disappointed. I wonder if Don will try to quit smoking.

Ordinarily, when I enjoy a film as much as I enjoyed this one by Wes Anderson, I tend to see it more than once on the big screen. That was just not possible in this case so I am very much looking forward to my second viewing of this film in the comfort of my home. I cannot wait to devour the gorgeous imagery and delight in the magical tale that is told with such smooth flair. Extras promise to give plenty of insight into the process that brought this classic Roald Dahl tale to life. Click here for the original Black Sheep review.


See Sandra Bullock's Oscar winning performance in THE BLIND SIDE.

George Clooney and Ewan McGregor spend some time with farm animals in THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman play while Tobey Maguire is away in BROTHERS.

Criterion gives us Terrence Malick's DAYS OF HEAVEN, Nicholas Ray's BIGGER THAN LIFE and Akira Kurosawa's YOJIMBO on this the 100th anniversary of his date of birth.

And finally, Hollywood classic, THE AFRICAN QUEEN, has been packaged in a commemorative box set.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Black Sheep @ The Box Office

ALICE IN WONDERLAND continues to dominate the spring box office but the spring box office bestows it's riches upon a number of other films regardless. Tim Burton's biggest career hit dropped off a respectable 45% in its third week and continues to rule internationally as well, with a grand global total of $565 million so far.

The runner-up spot was fought for all weekend. The Jennifer Aniston-Gerard Butler dud, THE BOUNTY HUNTER, opened second behind ALICE IN WONDERLAND on Friday but the family crowd push throughout the weekend helped DIARY OF A WIMPY KID overtake the supposed romantic comedy for a number two finish. Final results may vary when the final numbers come in on Monday but my money is still on the kid flick.

Past that, there was very little love for the REPO MEN remake, starring Forest Whittaker and Jude Law. Buzzed about Sundance Joan Jett biopic, THE RUNAWAYS, starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning pulled in a disappointing $3300 per screen average on 244 screens. Roman Polanski's latest, GHOST WRITER, expanded as successfully as possible considering its rough start with a 71% increase after adding 595 screens. The film's total gross now stands at just under $7 million with a reported budget of $45 million. Providing hope though, art house success Noah Baumbach's latest, GREENBERG, pulling in over $120K, on just three screens, with an average of $40K. The Black Sheep review will be coming later this week.

NEXT WEEK: The much-hyped, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, will be cracking it up on 2750 screens. 3D animated offering, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, will be exploding out of 3000 screens. And Atom Egoyan's latest, CHLOE, hits the limited scene.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Written by Sarah Thorp
Directed by Andy Tennant
Starring Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler and Christine Baranski

Jennifer Aniston is looking a little tired these days. Fortunately for her though, the attempted humour in her latest starring vehicle, THE BOUNTY HUNTER, is infinitely more unoriginal than she is, so you don’t necessarily notice her worry lines so much.

I don’t really blame her for worrying though. There is no way she could have been making this movie and thinking it was actually going to turn out well. I’m sure it sounded great when somebody pitched it to her. It’s Aniston and romantic comedy hunk, Gerard Butler, playing exes on the run. He, being the aforementioned bounty hunter, is giddily tracking down his ex because she skipped her court appearance for a traffic accident involving a police officer. Before they know it, they’re mixed up in a major undercover police operation that could get them killed. And, now this is the clincher, while they’re stuck together in this crazy impossible scenario, this old flame of theirs has the chance to be reignited again. Clearly, with all this deliberate and obvious set up, hijinks should ensue. Instead, scene after repetitive scene followed with not a trace of laughter to be had.

In order to catch a criminal, an effort must be made. In order to entertain people at a movie, an equal effort must be made. Between Butler barely trying to mask his accent and director, Andy Tennant, barely focusing on anything other than Aniston’s back side, it seems pretty fair to say that the only real effort being made in this film is Aniston running around in ridiculously high heels all the time. I’m sure if she was wearing more sensible footwear, she would have ran right off the set.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Written by Geoffrey Fletcher
Directed by Lee Daniels

I saw PRECIOUS twice in theatres and when I sat down to watch it again from the comfort of my own couch, I felt almost like I had never seen it before. It was surreal. The film came with so much hype attached to it upon its theatrical release and is such a powerhouse of difficult yet necessary imagery that perhaps it was just too much to take in when I first saw it. With awards season now behind us though, it is possible to watch PRECIOUS with a degree of expectation removed. What I saw this time was an insightful and inspired piece of filmmaking.

I realize that only furthers the hype for the film but inviting PRECIOUS into your home is a cathartic experience. One might think it difficult to identify with an obese 16-year-old African-American girl who is pregnant for the second time by her biological father and who struggles to learn to read while her mother drills how stupid she is into her at every opportunity. There is a universal appeal to PRECIOUS though and it was one for me that only showed itself when I could be alone with the movie at home. Yes, Precious (the title character played by the revelatory, Gabourey Sidibe) is everything I just said but she is also just a person who wants to be someone and wants to be heard but doesn’t know how to make that happen and doesn’t it believe it even could. Everyone can identify with that to some extent.

Making PRECIOUS was clearly an equally precious experience for all involved, as is evident in the bonus material on the BD release. Not only does it look incredibly sharp but a sensitive director commentary from Lee Daniels and a number of featurettes about how the film was made really showcase how important PRECIOUS truly is.




Written and Directed by Pedro Almodovar

If you’ve fallen before, it is easy to fall again and again for Pedro Almodovar. His works are always sumptuous and sincerely passionate, with strong female characters braving through emotional turmoil. His latest, BROKEN BEMBRACES, is certainly no different in terms of tone but Almodovar becomes his own worst enemy as he dives head first into a complicated plot that he barely manages to get out of.

Almodovar muse, Penelope Cruz, is a the top of her game, which is only more impressive when you consider that her character is essentially comprised of three different women. She is an actress playing a part in a movie but she also pretends when she comes home and plays the part of a doting wife to a controlling man she doesn’t love. The only time she can be herself is when she is in the arms of the director who is shooting the movie she is in. There is more than enough to work with there but Almodovar shoots in another ex-lover as well as troubled offspring and we haven’t even started talking about the movie within the movie within the movie. Almodovar is pushing himself visually but in order to get through to the other side of his own plot, he has to force some lengthy sequences that slow the film down significantly.

I was actually quite taken with BROKEN EMBRACES when I first saw it but I lost some interest the second time around and the BD extras, including a new short film from the director, did little to get that interest back. This is definitely not the film you want to use to introduce Almodovar to your friends. The traditional Almodovar tone is still intact and fans will forgive but unfortunately they may also forget.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Black Sheep @ The Box Office

And Black Sheep returns to the box office after a long and arduous awards season. Arduous might be a bit of a stretch but I'm in a bit of a dramatic mood today so just roll with it. It would have been great to come back last weekend to celebrate the phenomenal success of ALICE IN WONDERLAND but there were those pesky Oscars last weekend. Instead, we're here to see the Tim Burton film cross the $200 million mark in only its second weekend. In fact, at ten days to cross, it is the 11th fastest film in history to accomplish the feat, just a few million shy of AVATAR's same pace. I'm not suggesting that we should expect AVATAR size business here but it's only about $40 million shy of surpassing BATMAN as Burton's most successful film.

Four other films debuted in the Top 10 this weekend but none made any sort of significant dent. Leading the charge was the Paul Greengrass / Matt Damon pairing, GREEN ZONE. Pulling in an average of less than $5K per screen means it will be a big stretch for this one to make back any of its reported $100 million budget. Stealing third place from Robert Pattinson is Canadian boy, Jay Baruchel's headlining act, SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUE. The lighter fare brought in a light gross but one that improved over teen romance, REMEMBER ME as the weekend went on. Subsequently, the Pattinson vehicle had to settle for fourth, proving lack of interest in the star past his turn in the "Twilight" movies. Opening in sixth place was the Fox Searchlight title, OUR FAMILY WEDDING. Essentially, with ALICE IN WONDERLAND monopolizing the global business these past two weekends, little interest is being generated for anything else.

Speaking of little interest, although the Oscar telecast last Sunday was the highest rated since 2005, most of the films that took home awards were no longer playing in theatres. Best Picture winner, THE HURT LOCKER, was rereleased in 75 new theatres and took in about $825K, allowing the film to actually make back its reported budget. DVD/BD sales saw great increases but this is the lowest grossing Best Picture winner in Oscar history and that is not about to change. Meanwhile, if it had won, AVATAR would have been the highest grossing Best Picture winner and it suffered another scant 18% decline this week. CRAZY HEART, starring Best Actor winner, Jeff Bridges, slipped just 6% and THE BLIND SIDE, starring Best Actress winner, Sandra Bullock, saw a bum of 24% seventeen weeks into its run for a grand total of $252 million.

NEXT WEEK: Big week people ... THE BOUNTY HUNTER, starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, hits 3000 screens. On 3100 screens, family hopeful, DIARY OF A WIMPY KID opens. Jude Law and Forest Whitaker are REPO MEN on 2400 screens. Sundance film, THE RUNAWAYS, with Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett hits 225 screens. And the latest film by one of my favorite directors, Noah Baumbach, GREENBERG, starts its limited run on 3 screens.


Saturday, March 13, 2010


Written by Brian Helgeland
Directed Paul Greengrass
Starring Matt Damon, Amy Ryan and Greg Kinnear

Freddy: It is not up to you to decide what happens here.

GREEN ZONE marks the third time actor, Matt Damon, has worked with director, Paul Greengrass. Their previous work on the second and third “Bourne” films must have been pretty mind blowing because Damon has since vowed never to reprise the role that brought him international fame unless Greengrass is at the helm. This action pairing is a new Hollywood powerhouse or at least that’s what Damon and Greengrass would like to think and what the studio is selling. Just like the weapons of mass destruction that are being sought out in the movie though, these claims are based on false intelligence.

Perhaps if Greengrass had not kept Damon running up and down dark alleys all the time, he might have been able to see that the premise of GREEN ZONE had already been brought to light years ago. Damon plays Miller, an army chief on mission to locate WMD’s in the weeks following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Shockingly enough, he does not find any and Miller, being the super soldier that he is, figures out that there must be something wrong with the intelligence if he keeps coming up empty handed. He then decides to take matters, and by matters I mean the entire Iraq war, into his own hands and figure out why the U.S. is there to begin with. You may not believe this but the conspiracy involves the C.I.A., the press and the American government.

Maybe if Greengrass hadn’t given instruction to the entire cast to yell at the top of their lungs most of the way through the film, he would have heard how dated the script was. How is accusing the American government on film of fabricating reasons to invade Iraq innovative at all? I almost wanted to laugh at how serious GREEN ZONE takes itself, as if it truly believes it is making a brave point. The laughter stopped pretty quick though and then turned to anger. This is not a brave point. This is exploitation of a now mainstream acceptance of how America duped the world. Brave would have been saying this years ago. Pretending to be brave is just plain cowardly.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Black Sheep Live @ The Oscars

Evening Black Sheepers .. Sitting here, drinkin' my G&T and about to feast on much yumminess and much extravagance. I'll be updating the winners all night and tweeting live with whatever musings come to my or any of my party guest's minds. If you're not already following, here is the link:

Three awards so far and three great choices. Sure I would have liked to see a Fantastic Mr. Fox upset but an Up win is still a great thing. I'm also loving how they are actually honouring the nominted films and performers for their actual work. Even Martin and Baldwin and just going on about movies they love. This is what the Oscar's should be about.

Here are the winners so far:



THE WEARY KIND from CRAZY HEART by Ryan Bingham and T. Bone Burnett

I actually got the chance to catch the animated and live action shorts this year and I decided to vote what I thought should win rather than what was predicted to see how I would do. I was wrong on both counts. Just wait until I am a voting member.





PRECIOUS by Geoffrey Fletcher

Mo'nique in PRECIOUS









Is it true what they say about the picture winning Film Editing going on to win Best Picture?


Jeff Bridges in CRAZY HEART

Sandra Bullock in THE BLIND SIDE

Kathryn Bigelow for THE HURT LOCKER


There you have it. folks. THE HURT LOCKER takes five out of nine awards and Oscar gets it right this year. A classy affair this evening. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am now zonked though. Good night!

Black Sheep Talks Oscar

Morning all. Yesterday I was on a radio show in Montreal entitled, Arts Week, to discuss the Academy Awards. Here is the audio from that broadcast. Click the link and it will download a file to your computer, which you can then listen to on your media player. The show runs an hour long but my first segment starts at 17 minutes in and my second smaller bit starts at 39:35.

Here is the radio link.

Black Sheep will be live Tweeting the Oscars tonight so if you have not yet subscribed to Black Sheep's Twitter page, now would be the time to do it. Click here.

Enjoy the radio show and enjoy the Academy Awards!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The 2009 Mouton d'Or Awards

Awards season has been particularly long this year with the Vancouver Olympics pushing the end date into March but the time has finally arrrived. It is now time to reveal the 2009 Mouton d'Or Awards!

2009 was a great year in film and with so many personal changes in my own life scattered throughout the year, it is wonderful to have so many standout films to associate with them. That said, it was not a year where any one film ultimately stood out past the others and this is reflected in the Mouton d'Or winners here today. The love has been spread pretty equally, with all the major nominees each picking up at least one award.

As this is the second time I actually write this piece because my computer shut down before I was able to save any of this yesterday, I suggest getting straight to it before I lose it all once again. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 2009 Mouton d'Or Awards!


This first award was not an easy decision. It came down to two films at the end and while I could not have been more impressed with STAR TREK, there was something even more other worldly about Neill Blomkamp's DISTRICT 9 that had me completely transported to that version of Earth. DISTRICT 9 gets better every time I see it and it was by far, the most exhilerating time I had in theatres all year.


Each of these five films was a unique experience for me when I saw them and each one reminded me how much I like smaller movies that accomplish bigger things than they probably thought they could. Kathryn Bigelow's THE HURT LOCKER is the perfect example of how you can go into something with little resources but a well thought out plan and come out with something mind blowing. THE HURT LOCKER is the technical success of the year!


Fine, you're right. Richard Kelley's THE BOX was not originally nominated in this category. Let me assure you though that this only speaks further to how horrible it truly is. Had I caught this film in theatres last year as I was originally scheduled to, it most certainly would have been included amongst these nominees. Timing should not stop me from declaring what a dreadful mess this movie is though. From the very beginning, it is one ludicrous decision after another and it never recovers. An interesting hypothetical does not a good movie make.


DISTRICT 9 did not make the graphic as it received the least number of votes in this category. The remaining nominees all split their votes almost equally. Quentin Tarantino's INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS however, easily doubled the next highest vote-getter. This is the second year for this category and I've got to say you guys made the right choice once again. It may not have been shortlisted for my top films of the year but there is no denying how incredible this film is. Good choice, readers! I love you guys!

Marion Cotillard in NINE
Vera Farmiga in UP IN THE AIR
Anna Kendrick in UP IN THE AIR
Mo'Nique in PRECIOUS
Julianne Moore in A SINGLE MAN

Mo'Nique is a monster in PRECIOUS as a mother who is continuing the cycle of abuse that she has suffered her whole life with her daughter. Her turn is so ferocious that every other nominee here, though great, could not come close to the intensity Mo'Nique captured here. She has earned herself great credit and shown a side of her talents that I'm not sure anyone saw coming. Mo'Nique has created an iconic screen villain.

Matt Damon in INVICTUS
Alfred Molina in AN EDUCATION
Christopher Plummer in THE LAST STATION
Stanley Tucci in THE LOVELY BONES

This category has been locked up all year and that is in part due to a lack of competition. Christoph Waltz exploded off the screen in Quentin Tarantino's INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS and everyone has been talking about him since. Nobody even knew who he was before this. Well, Tarantino must have. There was no more hilarious moment in film this year then when Waltz bursts into hysterical laughter at the sound of Brad Pitt's ridiculous Italian accent.


I had the opportunity to catch Spike Jonze's WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE a second time this week and I was once again blown away by the visual style. Not only do you have the starkly realistic look applied to such a fantastical story but you also have these gorgeous, mammoth monsters. It was imaginative and yes, wild, but it was the fact that it all looked believable that made it unforgettable.


I am a huge Michael Giacchino fan. He is one of today's most incredible composers and the score he created for UP is some of his finest work. He captures the feel of flying through the air but is sure to ground the incredible story in some very real moments. When you leave the movie, you will leave humming his tunes.


This award has always been called the Trevor Adams Animated Feature Award and this is the first year that I have removed his name from the title. The award was originally named after Trevor, a great friend of mine, because he single handedly showed me a side of animated film that I had not yet seen. The reason his name has been removed now is because I cannot see him getting on board with voting Wes Anderson's FANTASTIC MR. FOX over a Pixar feature. Still, Anderson created something truly marvelous to behold and I hope that it finds a wider audience as the years go by.


There is one movie I saw this year that constantly makes me beam with happiness. That movie is (500) DAYS OF SUMMER. It isn't perfect and the tone isn't always right but this modern exploration of relationships is the closest thing I've seen to the real thing since ANNIE HALL. It breaks my heart but gives me hope all at once. With everything I went through personally this year, it's wonderful to remember that love isn't perfect but beautiful while it lasts. And it will forever remind me of one guy.


One movie this year taught me some very important lessons about life, love and what it means to be a girl. That movie was AN EDUCATION and Nick Hornby's brilliant screenplay captures the nuances of where a girl's life could go with such subtlety and grace. His words are so carefully chosen and so eloquent that they resonate moments after they're uttered.

Helen Mirren in THE LAST STATION
Carey Mulligan in AN EDUCATION
Maya Rudolph in AWAY WE GO
Gabourey Sidibe in PRECIOUS
Meryl Streep in JULIE & JULIA

I cannot understand why all of the awards buzz has been handed out to Streep and Bullock when there are such powerful performances from newcomers, Mulligan and Sidibe. I have to favour Sidibe though because I actually met her this past year. She was the complete opposite of her character in Lee Daniels's PRECIOUS, which gave me mad respect for her. It also further exposed the same ignorance inside of me that the film did.

Jeff Bridges in CRAZY HEART
George Clooney in UP IN THE AIR
Colin Firth in A SINGLE MAN
Morgan Freeman in INVICTUS
Michael Stuhlbarg in A SERIOUS MAN

I have to say that I have never really been a big Colin Firth fan but to watch him in Tom Ford's A SINGLE MAN is almost to see him for the first time. The weight with which he carries the character of George is so dense that it is impossible not to give him your entire heart. As beautiful as the entire film is, it is Firth's performance that makes the whole thing memorable.

Kathyn Bigelow for THE HURT LOCKER
James Cameron for AVATAR
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for A SERIOUS MAN
Lee Daniels for PRECIOUS
Jason Reitman for UP IN THE AIR

Jason Reitman just knows what he's doing. After just three films, he has proven that he can tackle almost anything. His sensitivity is moving but still he tells his story with such class and frankness that you cannot help respect him for all that he's done. He tapped in to a contemporary sensibility that is rarely achieved in film in such a quick and effective manner. He will surely grow a great deal more as his career progress.

And finally, without any further ado, I am pleased to present the 2009 Mouton d'or for Best Picture ...


There you have it, folks. Another great year for film; another great year for Black Sheep. Thank you for all your continued support and thank you for celebrating the 2009 Mouton d'Or Awards. I was happy to have you.