Thursday, February 26, 2009

Slumdog Pussycat

So the "Slumdog" phenomenon has finally spread to the world of American pop music, proving that Danny Boyle's rags-to-riches engine truly can't be stopped, even after sweeping its ultimate destination of the Academy Awards. The Pussycat Dolls have released a remix to A.R. Rahman's Oscar-winning Bollywood anthem, "Jai-Ho," tossing in some sexy-yet-basically-subject-irrelevant lyrics and plenty of exotic-sounding "ah-ah-ah-ah-ah" vocal tricks.

From what I've heard (you know, the word on the street kinda' thing), the Dolls have been getting a lot of heat for messing with - what many believe to be - a good thing, and for further commercializing what's already been ingrained in our collective consciousness: "Slumdog Millionaire" is the most utterly amazing movie af the decade (*falls asleep*).

I, hailing from the camp that declares such a superlative to be highly untrue, am surprised with myself because...I love the song. Up-tempo and ultra-fun, it marries two of my favorite things: movies and useless Top 40 trash. I'm crazy about Nicole Humdinger-or-whatever's voodoo chanting and the beat, paired with the ladies' old-school harmony, makes me want to search for the nearest subway platorm.

I couldn't find any official music video, but hear's the song, paired with some of "the most utterly amazing scenes of the decade":

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscars 2009 - Winners and Post-Show Highlights

As expected, "Slumdog" danced away with nearly all the awards for which it was nominated, and the lovely Ms. Winslet finally snagged her first golden boy, but, for me, the real stars of Sunday's show were Bill Condon and Larry Mark, the producers of the finest Oscar telecast I've ever seen. From the set design to the absolutely awe-inspiring presentations of the acting categories, it truly was a night to remember. Here are some of Your Movie Buddy's highlights:

Dustin Lance Black wins Best Original Screenplay
Probably my favorite win of the night. So well deserved and such a Cinderella story for this cute and talented guy (his speech wasn't too shabby either).

Daniel Craig and SJP present Art Direction, Makeup, and Costume Design.
Nice touch having the sharply-dressed James Bond and Carrie Bradshaw hand out these trophies. And the stage dressing during this bit was especially eye-catching.

A. R. Rahman does double duty. The "Slumdog" maestro claimed the award for Best Original Score then ran back out on stage to perform "Jai-Ho" only seconds later. I wasn't even aware he was the man behind the voice in this catchy tune.

Sid Ganis nixes the speech. The Academy prez saves us all from a yawn-inducing, obligatory address and simply waves at the crowd from his seat. I think I speak for everyone when I say: "Thanks, Sid."

Queen Latifah sings "I'll Be Seeing You." The soulful star reminded us of her multiple gifts by crooning the classic number during the In Memoriam segment. Many people hated this; I thought it was beautiful.

Sean Penn wins Best Actor. This was a pleasant surprise, as was Penn's hearfelt, decidedly democratic speech. I didn't think it was possible to like this actor more than I already did. Extra points for mentioning "the picketers down the street."

The incredibly energetic Hugh Jackman. Who needs jokes when you've got an inventive, funny and highly entertaining song-and-dance number?

The Women in White
. A beautiful retread of 2008's Ladies in Red, these four goddesses were the best-dressed of the evening, with Anne Hathaway coming out on top for the second year in a row.

Those uber-exciting actor-to-actor presentations. I was in starstruck heaven, and the lead actor lineup was especially impressive (save Adrien Brody, who felt a bit like he was poking his head in, like he's doing above).

...And this adorably bittersweet photo.

For all the winners, go to (I scored 19/24 on my predix!!). See you next year, kids. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Indie Spirit Award Winners!

Still the best way to get pumped up for the Oscars, the Independent Spirit Awards ceremony took place today, and featured all the usual drinks, dirt-cheap sets and debauchery. Well, maybe the debauchery was a little more abundant than usual, courtesy of one Mickey Rourke. The censor-free broadcast allowed the Best Lead Actor winner to, well, be himself, resulting in an all-stops-pulled speech that made his other acceptance spiels this season seem tame. I'd imagine the the execs over at ABC are plenty nervous right now, repeatedly checking to make sure their BLEEP devices are working properly.

Best Feature: Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler
Best Director: Tom McCarthy, The Visitor
Best Actor: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Best Actress: Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Best Supporting Actor: James Franco, Milk
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best Screenplay: Woody Allen, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best First Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Best First Feature: Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York
John Cassavetes Award: In Search of a Midnight Kiss
Best Cinematography: Maryse Alberti, The Wrestler
Best Foreign Language Film: The Class
Best Documentary: Man on Wire
Someone to Watch Award: Lynn Shelton, My Effortless Brilliance
Piaget Producers Award: Heather Ray, Frozen River
Truer Than Fiction: Margaret Brown, The Order of Myths
Robert Altman Ensemble Award: Synecdoche, New York

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Oscar 2009 - Winner Predictions

Who's going to win at Sunday's Academy Awards? Marisa? Meryl? Mickey? “Milk?” Get out your ballots, ladies and gentlemen, because these are my final predictions for who will – and who should – emerge victorious on Hollywood's biggest night.

- Amy Adams, “Doubt”
- Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
- Viola Davis, “Doubt”
- Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
- Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler”

Will win: Penelope Cruz
Should win: Viola Davis

With predicted front-runner Kate Winslet bumped to lead status for her work in “The Reader,” early favorite Cruz – who's already nabbed seven critics' awards – has returned to the front lines as the likeliest winner in this category (and it doesn't hurt that she's up for a role in a Woody Allen film; his movies have a history of guiding their supporting ladies to Oscar gold). Cruz is pure dynamite in “Vicky Cristina,” but first-time nominee Davis, who holds her own against 15-time nominee (!) Meryl Streep in one of the year's most powerful scenes, gives a shockingly courageous performance that lingers in the memory.

- Josh Brolin, “Milk”
- Robert Downey Jr., “Tropic Thunder”
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt”
- Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
- Michael Shannon, “Revolutionary Road”

Will win: Heath Ledger
Should win: Heath Ledger

2008 was a tough year to be a standout actor in a supporting role. No matter how great the performance, none stood out more than the late Ledger's now iconic interpretation of Batman's maniacal arch-nemesis. There's not much to say that hasn't already been said – Ledger can't lose. Only one question remains: who will accept the award?

- Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”
- Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”
- Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”
- Meryl Streep, “Doubt”
- Kate Winslet, “The Reader”

Will win: Kate Winslet
Should win: Anne Hathaway

The powers that be have seen to it that Winslet – who, at 33, is now the youngest actor ever to receive six nominations – ends up in the winner's circle on Feb. 22. Despite her many invitations to the Kodak Theatre, the Berkshire-born chameleon has never garnered a trophy. And since her Golden Globe, Critics' Choice and SAG Award-winning performance in “The Reader” was moved from supporting to lead by the Academy (knocking out her even more shattering lead turn in “Revolutionary Road”), it's safe to assume they'll seize this one opportunity to finally reward her. I adore Winslet, but she's great every time out, and her work in “The Reader” isn't her best. Hathaway, however, blows the doors off of “Rachel,” and she's admitted herself that she may never get a role this rich again.

- Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor”
- Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”
- Sean Penn, “Milk”
- Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
- Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”

Will win: Mickey Rourke
Should win: Sean Penn

Speaking of once-in-a-lifetime roles, Rourke gets his in Darren Aronofsky's “The Wrestler,” a bruised and brutal character study that casts the '80s icon as a man not unlike himself: a washed-up former star seeking redemption. Rourke is the comeback kid of the year, emerging from a career slump to deliver a performance that's layered, human and achingly true. In the other corner is Penn, Rourke's strongest competition, who somehow manages to top his already astonishing body of work. As Harvey Milk, Penn shows us a new side of himself – a softer, lighter side – and digs so deep into the soul of his martyred character, it's near-impossible to believe he's the same guy who gives inappropriate speeches and used to punch photographers.

- Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
- Stephen Daldry, “The Reader”
- David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
- Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon”
- Gus Van Sant, “Milk”

Will win: Danny Boyle
Should win: Danny Boyle

Child actor-exploitation rumors be damned – Boyle works magic in “Slumdog,” a movie that's been overpraised in many areas, but certainly not directing. Fincher, an atmospheric master, may have achieved the year's most impressive technical triumph, but Boyle does something better: he breathes vibrant, energetic life into an already lively screenplay and balances the dueling tones of hope and despair with impeccable grace. “Slumdog” may have its detractors – myself included – but, if for nothing else, Boyle deserves a heap of credit for turning an exotic take on a Dickensian fable – with no name actors, mind you – into the most popular film in America.

- “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
- “Frost/Nixon”
- “Milk”
- “The Reader”
- “Slumdog Millionaire”

Will win: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Should win: “Milk”

There are whispers of uber-producer Harvey Weinstein seeking a Best Picture upset win for “The Reader,” but I'm not buying it. “Slumdog” has been gobbling up every award in sight – including four Golden Globes, a Producers' Guild award, a SAG Ensemble award and over 25 (!) critics' awards – and still seems plenty hungry. This little-movie-that-could has become a behemoth that can't be stopped, not even by “Milk,” a superior film that boasts a better cast, a far stronger emotional sweep, the year's best male performance, best original screenplay, and most powerful singular image (hint: it comes at the end). And, not that a Best Picture must, but “Milk” has more socio-political relevance than any other film in the running. Here's hoping that Academy voters kept America's presidential election in mind when they cast their ballots for Movie Decision: 2008.

Best Original Screenplay: "Milk" (Dustin Lance Black)
Best Adapted Screenplay: "Slumdog Millionaire" (Simon Beaufoy)
Best Documentary Feature: "Man on Wire"
Best Documentary Short: "The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306"
Best Animated Feature: "WALL-E"
Best Animated Short: "Presto"
Best Live Action Short: "Spielzeugland (Toyland)"
Best Foreign Language Film: "Waltz with Bashir"
Best Cinematography: "Slumdog Millionaire" (Anthony Dod Mantle)
Best Film Editing: "Slumdog Millionaire"
Best Art Direction: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Best Costume Design: "The Duchess"
Best Makeup: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Best Visual Effects: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Best Sound Efffects Editing: "The Dark Knight"
Best Sound Mixing: "The Dark Knight"
Best Original Score: "Slumdog Millionaire" (A.R. Rahman)
Best Original Song: "Jai-Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire" (A.R. Rahman and Gulzar)

I've Been Wondering...

...just how much dough is Entertainment Weekly collecting from Summit Entertainment/Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight" empire? Half the box-office take? First they covered the popularity of the book, then they went nutso over the movie, now they've got another cover story promoting a book about the movie. What should we expect when "New Moon" hits theaters this fall? A garlic-scented magazine with fur and bite marks?

In all fairness, three of the covers above are separate versions of the same "collector's edition" issue, but that's still a whole lot of coverage for one topic, no? One need only flip to EW's back, "Bullseye" page to know that there are A LOT more stories in Hollywood than a certain teenage vampire romance (like -- ahem -- Oscar, who is now a two-time EW loser after Obama snagged top billing on the nominations announcement issue).

Seriously, when have two actors' faces been featured so prominently and frequently on the front of the same publication? (Okay, okay, Brangelina and cheesy tabloids not included.) Why do I complain? Because I love EW and I know they're better than this. Stop the obsessions -- which also include "Lost" and Tina Fey -- and give us loyal readers something new.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Anyone who lives near New York or Philadelphia knows that today was the WINDIEST day since...well, let's just say I can't remember the last time I had to move a small tree out of the street so it didn't impale my parked car. Here's hoping no one suffered any vehicular or bodily harm via tree, debris, or animal on this gust-filled Thursday.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Extras! Extras!

Since just about everyone's been talking about this anyway, and since Kate Winslet is gaining more Oscar momentum by the minute, here's easy access to Mrs. Sam Mendes's hilarious and prophetic guest spot on Ricky Gervais's "Extras" from 2005. I forgot how funny this was -- almost as delectable as Winslet's tuneful turn in '06's "Romance and Cigarettes" (which deserved a Golden Globe nod, at the very least). Enjoy:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

BAFTA Winners!

I know I said I wouldn't be watching the telecast of the BAFTA Awards...I mean, the British Academy Film Awards...I mean, the Orange British Academy Film Awards (very indecisive, those Brits!) but, come on, who am I kidding? I live for this stuff. Anything even smells like Oscar and I'm sold.

Anyway, as expected, the lovely Ms. Winslet added a Best Actress BAFTA to the long list of accolades she's received this season for her lead/supporting/whatever performance as Hanna Schmitz in "The Reader." Kate's acceptance speech this evening was much more cool and collected than her glorious, tear-filled response to her double Golden Globe win last month. We'll see how she handles receiving the Oscar on Feb. 22 because, at this point, I think we can all agree it's hers to lose.

The BAFTA Winners:
BEST PICTURE: "Slumdog Millionaire"
BEST DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"
BEST ACTRESS: Kate Winslet, "The Reader"
BEST ACTOR: Micky Rourke, "The Wrestler"
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
BRITISH FILM: "Man on Wire"
CARL FOREMAN AWARD: Steve McQueen, "Hunger"
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Martin McDonagh, "In Bruges"
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire"
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Anthony Dod Mantle, "Slumdog Millionaire"
VISUAL EFFECTS: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
MAKEUP and HAIR: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
PRODUCTION DESIGN: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
SCORE: AR Rahman, "Slumdog Millionaire"
SOUND: "Slumdog Millionaire"
EDITING: "Slumdog Millionaire"
COSTUMES: "The Duchess"
RISING STAR: Noel Clarke
SHORT ANIMATION: "Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death"

Saturday, February 7, 2009

When PUSH Comes to Hollywood

Since I saw Dakota Fanning's sci-fi thriller "Push" on Thursday, I've been trying like hell to figure out what the movie is even about. Saving the world, as usual? I guess. It really doesn't matter. The movie has problems long before one begins digesting its cleesecloth plot. Far more interesting -- without even having seen it -- is "Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire," the multiple Sundance award-winning hit from Philly director Lee Daniels.

I know very little about this film but what I've heard is provocative enough to send it flying to the top of my must-see list. Here's the gist: an overweight black girl from the Harlem projects ("Precious," above) is a sex slave to her mother (an already Oscar buzz-worthy Mo'Nique), pregnant with her father's child for the second time (!), illiterate, and HIV-positive (!!). Like, whoa. The movie is apparently about her redemption and ability to rise above impossible odds. Call me twisted, but I can't remember the last time I was so immediately hooked by a synopsis.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Glaring Contest

Hey, fanboys! Your Movie Buddy is curious: which of these three stern-faced 2009 blockbusters are you anticipating most? (For me, the answer is, VERY surprisingly, "Star Trek.")