Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: The Hurt Locker

82nd Academy Awards Honors “The Hurt Locker”

The 82nd Academy Awards were broadcast to millions on Sunday, March 7, 2010, and history was made. The first woman won the Best Director Award, Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” and the Best Picture of the Year was an upset: “The Hurt Locker,” a little-seen film about bomb defusers, starring Jeremy Renner.

“Avatar” won 3 Oscars, when all was said and done, one for Visual Effects, one for Cinematography and one for Art Direction. “The Hurt Locker,” meanwhile, raked in the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow), Original Screenplay (Mark Boal), Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Mixing.

After those two gorillas in the jungle, the numbers dropped off rapidly: only “Crazy Heart” (with 2) and “Crazy Heart” and “Precious” with 2 apiece challenged for awards this night.

The evening opened with a lame song-and-dance number by Neil Patrick Harris, who had actually been good in this role on an earlier awards show. Neil Patrick Harris sang a song whose message whose message was “No One Wants to Do It Alone.” This is true, and is probably why Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin shared hosting duties for the 82nd annual Oscars. I was disappointed in their performance, as they are both so funny and quick-witted, individually, but their scripted stuff was somewhat weak…although not as weak as Kathy Ireland’s red carpet interviewing. None of the people doing the red carpet interviews this year impressed, least of all Kathy, Sherry from “The View” or the editor of “People” magazine (I think). I never thought I’d say it, but give us back Joan and Melissa Rivers. Army Archerd just died, so he’s definitely out. What about somebody like Mario Lopez or Joan Hart or, really, just about anybody but this trio.

The winners this night were as follows:

Best Picture: “The Hurt Locker”

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow (first woman director to win)

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges (for “Crazy Heart”)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:  Mo’Nique in “Precious”

Best Animated Feature Film:  “Up”

Best Original Screenplay:  “The Hurt Locker” by Mark Boal

Best Adapted Screenplay:  “Precious”, Geoffrey Fletcher

Best Foreign Language Film:  “The Secret in Their eyes” (Argentina)

Best Original Score:  “Up” (Michael Giacchino)

Best Original Song:  “The Weary King” from “Crazy Heart

Best Art Direction:  “Avatar”

Best Cinematography:  “Avatar” by Mario Fiore

Best Costume Design:  “The Young Victoria” (Sandy Powell)

Best Documentary Feature:  “The Cove”

Best Documentary Short Subject:  “Music by Prudence”

Best Film Editing:  “The Hurt Locker” (Bob Murawksi and Chris Innis)

Best Makeup:  “Star Trek”

Best Animated Short Film:  “Logarama” (French, 16 mins.)

Best Live Action Short Film:  “The New Tenants”

Best Sound Editing:  “The Hurt Locker”

Best Sound Mixing:  “The Hurt Locker”

Best Visual Effects:  “Avatar”

Sandra Bullock’s acceptance speech was the most affecting of the night, for me, as she said, “To that trailblazer who allowed me to have this extraordinary opportunity—and to my lover, Meryl Streep.” Sandra also referenced a time when George Clooney had thrown her into a swimming pool and almost choked up during her acceptance speech. I also enjoyed Mo’Nique pointing out that, at least in her case, the award was truly given for the performance. I agree with that, having seen all the nominated performances, but it didn’t hurt any that Oprah got behind the film Big Time, so that somewhat contradicts Mo’Nique’s comment that politics was not a factor in her win. (She also shared TMI during her Barbara Walters interview, telling the world that she does not shave her legs and has an open marriage with her spouse.)

The evening ended on as always-hurried note, with the dynamic duo of Steve Martin and Alec Baldin signing off very quickly.

Most of the winners were not a surprise, with Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock and Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique winning, as expected.

The Best Films of the Years 2000 – 2009

I’ve gone back to the year 2000 and attempted to highlight the Best Films of the Decade, with the decade starting in 2000. [This means, of course, that I’m one year short of 10 years of films, since 2010 has just begun.]

The criterion, for me, in listing my Best Films was whether I enjoyed them the most at the theater. Sometimes, the most heavily promoted films are not really that enjoyable. There are some “Best Picture of the Year” nominees that leave you completely cold after you have spent time watching them, so much so that you wonder, “How did THAT get nominated as Best ________________?” (Fill in the blank here). You may appreciate the achievement of a film like, for instance, “The Queen,” but did you really enjoy it that much, acting expertise aside?

Also, will this film hold up over the years? There are some films that were “hot” movies of that year, but the year was so weak that to name them as the “best” is simply to acknowledge that they were the best of a not-so-banner year.

I am not a huge fan of animated films, but some made my list. I like humor, but it should be somewhat witty, avoid formulaic situations, and not be so lowbrow that every vehicle in the parking lot is a truck with a gun rack, a rebel flag and a NASCAR sticker on view.

While acknowledging that Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy represented a huge achievement, the films were not as faithful to the books as purists would have liked, and, quite frankly, I was pretty bored throughout. (I looked down the row and my sister-in-law was asleep, although she later denied this.) The same is true of all the Harry Potter movies, for me. And, more recently, the “Twilight” films, representing, as they do, a teen phenomenon, are going to fall into the same category.

Some years were, of course, better than others, and that is why many Honorable Mention(s) follow some of the Ten Best lists. Other years have no Honorable Mentions at all. I’m not trying to suggest that your list of the Ten Best Movies of the Decade (to date) will match mine, but at least you’ll have a referent point for (maybe) picking a few from the past 9 years that you night have missed.  I should also note that the films are listed in no particular order.


Best Films of 2000:

“High Fidelity”



“Almost Famous”

“Cast Away”

“Erin Brockovich”


“Wonder Boys”


“Meet the Parents”/”Galaxy Quest”

Best Films of 2001:

“A Beautiful Mind”

“Lord of the Rings”

“Mulholland Drive”

“Black Hawk Down”


“Training Day”

“Monster’s Ball”

“In the Bedroom”


“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”

Best Films of 2002:

“About A Boy”

“About Schmidt”


“Bourne Identity”

“Bowling for Columbine”

“Minority Report”

“The Pianist”


“Rabbit-proof Fence”

“Spider-Man 2”

Best Films of 2003:

“The Fog of War” (documentary)

“Mystic River”

“Cold Mountain”

“In America”


“City of God”


“House of Sand and Fog”

“Under the Tuscan Sun”

“Pieces of April”

(*Honorable mention to “Finding Nemo,” “Master & Commander,” “Thirteen,” “The Cooler,” “Bad Santa,” “Lost in Translation,” “The Last Samurai,” “Calendar Girls,” “Love, Actually.”)

Best Films of 2004:

“The Aviator”

“Hotel Rwanda”

“Million Dollar Baby”



“Fahrenheit 9/11”



“The Sea inside”


(*Honorable mention to “The Manchurian Candidate,” “The Notebook,” “Mean Girls,” “Super Size Me”)

Best Films of 2005:


“Brokeback Mountain”

“A History of Violence”



“Batman Begins”

“Cinderella Man”

“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”

“Good Night, and Good Luck”

“Walk the Line”

(*Honorable mention to “King Kong,” “Jarhead,” “Match Point,” “Transamerica,” “North Country,” “March of the Penguins” and “Munich.”)

Best Films of 2006:

“Last King of Scotland”

“The Departed”

“Little Miss Sunshine”

“Pan’s Labyrinth”

“United 93”

“Flags of Our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima”

“Casino Royale”



“Thank You for Smoking”

(*Honorable mention to “V for Vendetta,” “Blood Diamond,”  “Cars,” “Monster House,” “An Inconvenient Truth” (documentary), “The Queen,” “Babel,”
”Hollywoodland,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing” (documentary), “Who Killed the Electric Car” (documentary), “Children of Men,” “Little Children,” “A Scanner Darkly”)

Best Films of 2007:

“Michael Clayton”

“No Country for Old Men”

“Away from Her”


“In the Valley of Elah”

“Eastern Promises”

“American Gangster’

“Knocked Up”

“Charlie Wilson’s War”

“The Bourne Ultimatum”

(*Honorable Mention:  “The Savages,” “Gone Baby Gone,” “Waitress,” “Atonement,” “La Vie En Rose,” “The Diving Bell & the Butterfly,” “Elizabeth, the Golden Age.”)

Best Films of 2008:

“The Reader”

“Batman: The Dark Knight”

“Iron Man”

“Gran Torino”

“Slumdog Millionaire”


“The Wrestler”

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”



(*Honorable Mention:  “Burn After Reading,” “In Bruges,” “Frozen River,” “The Visitor,” “Tropic Thunder,” “3:10 to Yuma,” “Bourne Ultimatum,” “The Bucket List.”

Best Films of 2009:

“Up in the Air”

“The Hurt Locker”

“The Informant”


“500 Days of Summer”


“Red Cliff”



“The Messenger”

(*Honorable Mention to “Star Trek,” “The Hangover,” “2012,” “Public Enemies,” “I Love You, Man,” and “Jennifer’s Body”)

The Ten Best Movies of 2009

ChicagoOvercoat1-002The Ten Best Movies of the Year 2009…or any year…are always difficult to pick, even if you have been doing your homework and attending film festivals (Chicago, Toronto) in order to be able to see those that are most-lauded. The best of the best always seem to hit the Quad Cities late or not at all. [I remember having to drive to Iowa City to see Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway” in 1994, which limped into town months late.]


The films I’m going to point out have not necessarily played the Quad Cities yet. In some cases, that is because they haven’t been officially released yet.  I hope they will arrive in town soon. Film festivals give you a chance to get an “advance peek” at a few and to hear about them from the actors, directors and producers themselves.


Please note:  These are in no particular order.


“The Hurt Locker” – Director Kathryn Bigelow took newcomer Jeremy Renner, an unknown (surrounded by a cast of unknowns) who plays a hell-bent-for-leather bomb defuser in 2004 Baghdad, and delivers a film that is one of the year’s best. Intense. Riveting.


‘Up in the Air” – Jason Reitman directs George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick in a film about a man who travels the world firing people and collecting frequent flyer miles. As the “New York Times” put it, Clooney and Farmiga are voted “the couple most likely to have an argument and get off on it.” I have a vested interest in seeing the film do well. The music for the film was selected by Rick Clark, my daughter’s mentor in Nashville for three years of her college classes in Music Business at Belmont University and she often assisted him with his selection(s) and with his Sirius radio show. (Clark also advised on the music for “Juno”). A sure-fire Oscar contender.


“The Informant” – Matt Damon played two strong roles this year, and this one, as a midwestern mid-level employee of ADM who turns informant for the F.B.I. was terrific. His turn in “Invictus” (a Clint Eastwood-directed film with Morgan Freeman undoubtedly bound for Oscar nominations) as a soccer player helping Nelson Mandela bring South Africa kicking and screaming into the post-apartheid period will undoubtedly score big in March as well. [Since the latter hasn’t played here yet, just remember, on March 7th: “I told you so.”]


“Up” – Films with the word “up” in the title did well in 2009. (Next year “down”?) This is the Pixar animated film about the widower who attaches balloons to his house and goes…well…up…with a young stowaway aboard. I saw it in 3D in a theater on Sunset Boulevard with a live Disney show preceding it; the film’s a touching bit of animated magic.


500 Days of Summer” – I was on my way to a showing of “The Cove” (a likely nominee for Best Documentary Oscar dealing with the trapping and killing of dolphins) and stumbled into the wrong theater. I stayed to see this romantic comedy. Joseph Gordon-Leavitt and Zooey Deschanel are young lovers, but the film’s ultimate message seems to be that there IS more than one perfect “love” for us if we just keep an open mind and a positive outlook. The “breaking-into-dance” scene, alone, makes it one of the more imaginative film treatments at the movies this year.


“Precious” – Undeniably gut-wrenching. Haven’t seen a film more depressing since “The Hours” or “Angela’s Ashes,” but it is powerful stuff. Oprah is promoting it Big Time, and it’s bound to garner nominations, probably for its unknown star, Gabriel Gabby Sidibe and others. Strong performances from Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz contribute and the film has generated major Oscar buzz. [Tickets in Chicago, where it premiered, went for $50, minimum].


Red Cliff – This is a film by the great John Woo. I wandered in not expecting much and found a film that makes “Braveheart,” “Spartacus” and “The Gladiator,” all rolled into one, look like a square dance. Back in top form after years of trying to fit into the Hollywood studio cookie-cooker mold with films like “Mission Impossible II “ and “Face/Off”, Woo returns to his native land and does this ancient Chinese story proud. (see www.weeklywilson.com and/or www.associatedcontent.com for complete review). It’s very long, and, yes, it has sub-titles, but it’s really a breath-taking film achievement.


“An Education” – Peter Svaarsgard’s film about a May-December romance is garnering much buzz for the female lead, Carey Mulligan as Jenny. (For those who care, Ms. Mulligan is supposedly Shia LeBouef’s off-screen girlfriend of the moment).


2012:  Sure, it’s CG generated, but it’s terrific audience fun. The actors are less important than the special effects, but John Cusack, Amanda Peet and Woody Harrelson don’t disappoint in this film about the end of the world in 2012. Woody Harrelson, this year alone, played Charlie Frost in 2012, Tallahassee in the fun flick “Zombieland” (they’re already making “Zombieland 2”, and Captain Tony Stone in “The Messenger.”


Toss-Up: “Brothers” and/or “The Messenger”: These films have similarities. Saw “The Messenger” in Chicago, with Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster. Foster was there, in person, answering questions after the screening. “The Messenger,” like John Irving’s novel “A Prayer for Owen Meany” deals with the soldiers who must give the bad news of the death of a loved one to military families. Co-starring as the woman getting the bad news is the Oscar-nominated Samantha Morton, who was so good in “Minority Report” and as Sarah in the 2002 film “In America.” “Brothers,” starring Jake Gylenhall, Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman, explores the damage to the psyche that war creates. Jake and Tobey are brothers, one a screw-up, one a war hero. Fine performances, also, from Sam Shepherd as Hank Cahill, the father who always favored Tobey, and Mare Winningham as Elsie Cahill. The little girls are great. Taylor Geare as Maggie Cahill melts your heart in her scenes, and her little sister Cassie, played by Carrie Mulligan, is good as well. When Tobey returns from having been a POW (briefly) in Afghanistan, he cannot get it out of his head that his brother (Jake Gylenhall) and his wife (Natalie Portman) have been sleeping together. He is also consumed with guilt over his actions while held prisoner and something’s got to give. He comes home a totally different individual than when he left. Problems ensue Tobey McGuire turns in a riveting Ocar-caliber performance, the best of his career. The movie was filmed in New Mexico.


Honorable Mention:  I loved “Jennifer’s Body,” despite the gore, the new film scripted by Diablo Cody (of “Juno”) starring Megan Fox. Haven’t seen “Coraline” but hear it’s a likely nominee come March in some categories. Likewise, haven’t had a child to take with me to “Where the Wild Things Are.” Looking forward to “The Road” (Not yet released) – which looks like it will make a better film vehicle for Viggo Mortenson than the Cormac McCarthy book was a read, as it takes us into post-Apcalyptic America. “Avator’ (James Cameron returns on 12/18). I liked “Public Enemies” with Johnny Depp, Marion Cotillard and Christian Bale in a Michael Mann-directed crime romance, because Johnny finally looked more like “People” magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” than he has in many of his screen outings. Also good: “Star Trek” with Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine and Eric Bana, “I Love You, Man” with surprisingly fresh performances from Paul Rudd and Jason Segel as buddies who bond, and the year’s most-watched comedy, “The Hangover,” good stupid fun in the “Animal House” tradition. I’m still waiting to see “Shutter Island,” the Martin Scorsese-directed film with Leonardo DeCaprio. (Where did it go?) Likewise, want to see “The Invention of Lying” (Ricky Gervais) and Sam Mendes’ “Away We Go.” (So many movies; so little time.)


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