Tag Archives: kathryn bigelow

My Favorite Scene: Zero Dark Thirty (2012) “Bring Me People To Kill!”

After Kathryn Bigelow gets Detroit out this week, following The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, the woman really needs to mellow out and make a movie about animated ducks or something.  She is possibly the most INTENSE director about unflinchingly taking on controversial, contemporary issues working today, and my first sentence was flippant, because we need someone doing that.  Hollywood doesn’t really finance many message pictures anymore, any issue pictures, and that’s what Bigelow brings to the table.

Zero Dark Thirty is a controversial movie for a lot of reasons, not the least of which the graphic torture depicted (which happened), but also because it was made so soon after the killing of Osama bin Laden.  The “War of Terror” is so frustrating because it isn’t traditional warfare.  Our enemies don’t wear uniforms, adhere to a country, or even a single doctrine.  It’s more a war against a sick madness and how do you fight that?  The hunt for bin Laden was so important to Americans because he was the face.  He was the uniform, the symbol, the figurehead.  There are a lot of powerful scenes in the film but I like this meeting at the beginning with Mark Strong (tremendously underrated actor) painting the picture of frustration of the American people that this man had eluded the largest manhunt in history for a decade and sets the stage for everything to come.

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty

Detroit Trailer #2 (2017) “I Need You to Survive the Night”

A police raid in Detroit in 1967 results in one of the largest and most intense riots in United States history, leading to the federalization of the Michigan National Guard and the involvement of two Airborne Divisons of the United States Army.

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, you’d think director Kathryn Bigelow would want to make a comedy or a film about ducks, but instead it looks like she’s shining a light on another controversial subject.  That’s not a criticism.  Hollywood doesn’t take risks with films that might offend or challenge people very often.  After tackling the Second Gulf War and the hunt for Osama bin-Laden, Bigelow now highlights a forgotten chapter from one of America’s darkest periods.  The phrase “we live in racially charged times” could be applied to literally any decade of American history, but the 1960s were probably the most frightening and volatile.  Bigelow highlights the 1967 race riots in Detroit, and the film will vie with The Dark Tower for primacy during the first weekend in August.  Starring John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Will Poulter, and Algee Smith, Detroit opens in theaters August 4, 2017.
Theatrical Poster for Detroit

My Favorite Scene: The Hurt Locker (2008) “Secondary Devices”

The Hurt Locker is a film I feel I need to go back and revisit.  It had been so built up by the time I saw it in 2008 that I don’t know that anything could have matched the hype.  Enough time has passed now that I think it’s worth going back and checking it out again.  The first time through, though, there was one scene that had me; HAD ME.  For lack of a better term, I’m calling it “The Secondary Devices” scene, because that’s the moment, when he pulls up all the other bombs, that the tension in the scene shot past 11 somewhere on its way to googleplex.  Expertly acted by Jeremy Renner and directed by Kathryn Bigelow (who, in just two films, has made herself a director that commands your attention) this scene was the best from the Academy Awards’ Best Picture that year.

Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Oscar Week: My Personal Oscars

Renaissance Film Awards
Renaissance Film Awards

The first iteration of this blog dates back more than a decade to when I just used to mass email a list of cool stuff I’d found out to a bunch of my friends.  I called it the Renaissance News.  I’ve let that mostly fall by the wayside in this current iteration, but every year around Oscar time, I do the Renaissance Film Awards (or Rennys as they are known in the business), which are basically my personal Oscars.  It is a dictatorial process; subjective to my tastes and it follows the Oscar categories with a few exceptions.  I have an ensemble cast award like the SAG Awards.  I do not have the documentary or short film awards or-as I like to call them-the part of the broadcast for snack making.  I also, to my shame, have not seen any foreign language films this year, so I’ll update the draft when I get around to that.  These are this year’s nominees and winners, probably the most widespread dispersion in the eleven or so years I’ve done this.  There was an abundance of riches this year.  So here they are: this year’s Rennys.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Argo
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Life of Pi
Lincoln
The Silver Linings Playbook
WINNER: ARGO

Best Original Screenplay
The Dark Knight Rises
Django Unchained
Looper
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Seven Psychopaths
WINNER: LOOPER

Best Visual Effects
The Avengers
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Life of Pi
Prometheus
WINNER: THE LIFE OF PI

Best Sound Mixing
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Looper
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty
WINNER: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

Best Sound Editing
Argo
The Avengers
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Zero Dark Thirty
WINNER: ZERO DARK THIRTY

Best Song
“Safe and Sound” by Taylor Swift, The Hunger Games
“Skyfall” by Adele, Skyfall
“Song of the Lonely Mountain” by Neil Flynn, The Hobbit: AUJ
“Too Old To Die Young” by Brother Dege, Django Unchained
“Touch the Sky” by Julie Fowlis, Brave
WINNER: “SKYFALL” BY ADELE, SKYFALL

Best Score
Alexandre Desplat, Zero Dark Thirty
Michael Dyana, The Life of Pi
Thomas Newman, Skyfall
Howard Shore, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Hans Zimmer, The Dark Knight Rises
WINNER: HOWARD SHORE, THE HOBBIT: AUJ

Best Animated Feature
Brave
Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph
WINNER: BRAVE

Best Makeup
The Avengers
Django Unchained
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Impossible
Lincoln
WINNER: LINCOLN

Best Film Editing
Argo
The Dark Knight Rises
Looper
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty
WINNER: ARGO

Best Costumes
The Avengers
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hunger Games
Les Miserables
WINNER: THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

Best Art Direction
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
The Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall
WINNER: THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

Best Cinematography
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
The Life of Pi
Skyfall
WINNER: SKYFALL

Best Ensemble Cast
Argo
The Avengers
The Dark Knight Rises
Django Unchained
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
WINNER: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

Best Supporting Actress
Judi Dench, Skyfall
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Jackie Weaver, The Silver Linings Playbook
WINNER: ANNE HATHAWAY, LES MISERABLES

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, Argo
Javier Bardem, Skyfall
Robert DeNiro, The Silver Linings Playbook
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Andy Serkis, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
WINNER: JAVIER BARDEM, SKYFALL

Best Actress
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Keira Knightley, Seeking a Friend at the End of the World
Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games
Jennifer Lawrence, The Silver Linings Playbook
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
WINNER: JESSICA CHASTAIN, ZERO DARK THIRTY

Best Actor
Tom Holland, The Impossible
Joseph Gordon Levitt, Looper
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Denzel Washington, Flight
WINNER: DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, LINCOLN

Best Director
Ben Affleck, Argo
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Ang Lee, The Life of Pi
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises
WINNER: BEN AFFLECK, ARGO

Best Picture
Argo
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Looper
Zero Dark Thirty
WINNER: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

TDKR and The Hobbit rotate in my mind daily (with Argo not far behind).  I changed my mind between when I did my Top 10 earlier this month and now.  What settled it for me was that a spectacular finale trumped a fantastic beginning .  No film won more than three awards.  It was a triumphant year for movies and some of these were even nominated by that show that will be on Sunday.  What films got your personal Oscars this year?