Okay, now we can talk about the Oscars…

…Because the somewhat mysterious organization that mysteriously somehow sets the stage and begins the momentum for the awards season, the National Board of Review, has given its awards. Perhaps not so unexpectedly, the big winner appears to be “The Social Network” which earned awards for Best Picture, Best Director (David Fincher), Best Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin), and, most interestingly, earned a Best Actor nod for Jessie Eisenberg, making him suddenly something of a frontrunner for Best Actor, which is not to say that the award makes him some kind of a sure thing.

Jessie Eisenberg and I'm not sure who in

At 27, if Eisenberg does wins for his thoroughly on-target performance, he’ll be the youngest winner in that category yet, beating 29 year-old Adrien Brody for “The Pianist.” Still, he’ll likely be facing stiff competition from 50 year-old Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”), 70 something Robert Duvall (“Get Low“), 30 something co-host James Franco (“127 Hours“) and, perhaps, 60 something Jeff Bridges (“True Grit,” a bit less stiff since he won last year and Oscar likes to spread the love around).

The Best Actress prize was equally interesting. Lesley Manville won for her extraordinary work in the upcoming “Another Year.” I’ve seen (and will be reviewing here), the latest from Mike Leigh. There’s no doubt that Manville did an absolutely remarkable job but her supremely needy, depressed, alcoholic character is often irritating to the point of distraction, on purpose. It hits closer to home because I think most of have known or have actually been (hopefully temporarily) people very much like her. Still, sometimes people tend to blame actors for playing characters they dislike or are made uncomfortable by. Regardless, she’s been noticed. At the press day, I half-jokingly suggested to Ms. Manville that she should work on her American accent.

Jacki Weaver's back in Another heretofore far from world-famed actress who might consider studying up on U.S. dialects is Australian veteran performer Jacki Weaver. She was nominated for her magnetically squirm-inducing crime grandma in the effective thriller, “Animal Kingdom.” It’s the first time she’s been in a film to make a splash stateside since Peter Weir’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock” back before Jesse Eisenberg and James Franco were yet born.

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The “Buried” teaser trailer — don’t expect an eyeful

When I was in UCLA’s film school, sometime in the antediluvian celluloid era, the most grueling and rewarding class was “Project 1” in which all students were forced to become the auteurs of their own Super-8 epic. Just to make things a little extra tough, we were also forced to use 16mm sound in combination with the 8mm picture, which, trust me, created nightmarish problems regarding syncing sound to picture that essentially turned post-production into a cinematic hazing ritual. As we students expressed our frustration, inevitably someone would come up with same silly/sick joke about doing a film “from the point of view of Helen Keller” — i.e., complete silence and no visuals — or, a bit less minimalistically, “from the point of view of Stevie Wonder.”

Well, eventually, one of my friends did make a film that was close to the latter, with some clever dialogue which I won’t try to reconstruct here. Ever since then, I don’t remember anyone trying to make anything quite so minimal, that is until now….

This comes via Pete Sciretta at /Film who really seems to think that this film, which takes place entirely in the coffin and is most definitely not for the seriously claustrophobic, is terrific. Now, I’m definitely a fan of moves that take place in relatively confined spaces. “Rear Window” is one of my all-time favorite films, but I imagine there have to be limits. However, if I actually enjoy watching “Buried,” rather than merely enduring it, that will be an achievement that will force me to take director writer Chris Sparling, director Rodrigo Cortés and star Ryan Reynolds very seriously.

  

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