Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kids Off The Couch: Get Ready For The Oscars!

Films that are Family Friendly

Plan a Party, Get Ready to Vote!

The Oscar nominations were announced this morning! It's time to do your homework to get ready for the 83rd Academy Awards, which will air live at 5:00 PM February 27 on ABC from the Kodak Theatre. Lead actor nominee James Franco and Anne Hathawaywill be the hosts in the Academy's bid to attract a younger generation to watch the show. We're devotees, so have a few suggestions for getting your youngsters interested in the telecast. Next week, when printable ballots have been created by the Academy, we'll send you a link so you can print them out for everyone in the family at your own Oscar party.

The Nominations: Here is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's official list of nominees. The King's Speech and True Grit led the way in number of nominations (12 for the film about King George VI's stammer and 10 for the Coen brothers' Western), and both are excellent films for everyone over 12. With Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story 3 in the running, it's a banner year for quality family films.

We wrote about True Grit a few weeks back on our blog, and are happy that local girl Hailee Steinfeld received a Best Supporting Actress nomination. The Coen brothers' film is beautifully written and directed and, though it contains some violence, is a classic tale of redemption with a 14 year-old heroine. We really love A King's Speechfor tweens and teens -- it carries a R rating merely for the obscenities uttered byColin Firth in exercises to rid himself of a stammer, and is otherwise a stirring drama about a man overcoming a disability. We loved the opportunity to talk about the lineage of British kings and the fascinating romance between The Duke of Windsor andWallis Simpson that the kids related to the Kate Middleton story.

2011 has been a great year for animated films and several were recognized by the Academy. Toy Story 3 made it into the Best Picture category, as well as the Animated Feature Film, along with How to Train Your Dragon, which received a second nomination for score. The Illusionist, a French film that is rated PG and geared more for adults, is still in some theaters around town (but not yet on DVD). We also admireTim Burton's 3D extravaganza, Alice in Wonderland, starring Mia Wasikowska who plays Lead Actress nominee Annette Bening's daughter in The Kids Are All Right.

Three other films that are worth watching with your teenagers are The Social Network, a perfectly made film about the creation of Facebook and the perils of success; the mind-bending Inception and a true story about a boxer starring Mark Walberg and Christian Bale, The Fighter. Black Swan is too adult and weird for most teens, we have found. As always, we grab any chance we can to discuss important issues with teenagers and these three films all offered ample opportunity - from Christian Bale's addictions to the privacy issues of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg's dizzying rise from Harvard undergrad to social network titan. Frankly, when we watched Inception it was the teenagers who had to explain it to us -- something they found highly entertaining!

See the Costumes from Nominated Films: The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising opens a great exhibit 19th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Designon February 8, showcasing all the costumes from the nominated films. It's a really fun excursion with kids, and we think the costumes will be particularly beautiful this year - the list of nominated designers is very impressive. Here is our Popcorn Adventure from a few years ago. If you venture downtown to FIDM, as it is known, grab lunch or some yummy pastries from Bottega Louie, located nearby.

The colorful costumes from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland were designed by Coleen Atwood, who has previously won Oscars for her work in Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha; Antonella Cannarozzi is nominated for I am Love, a luxuriously beautiful film set in Milan and full of sumptuous surfaces, including everything worn by Tilda Swinton. Jenny Beavan, who designed the clothing in The King's Speech, is a Brit who worked on many Merchant Ivory productions; Sandy Powell, who designed The Tempest, has previously won Oscars for Shakespeare in Love, The Aviator and Young Victoria. Mary Zophres, who designed True Grit, works frequently with the Coen brothers.

Cinematographers on View: The Academy's Exhibition space, on Wilshire in Beverly Hills, is currently showing photographs by Owen Roizman, a cinematographer himself, who turned the camera onto his friends and colleagues. Masters of the Close-Upopened this week and is on view through mid-April.