Saturday, January 31, 2009

"A SHOWCASE of Magnificent Acting"

That's what I had to say about "Doubt" in my original review. It's just too perfect that kitnkaboodle over at YouTube put together this hilarious video of Meryl's Best Actress SAG win for her role in the film. "World's Best Actress, come on down!" Funny stuff.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

JAI-HO! Or, How to Beat "Slumdog" Fatigue

Let me begin by saying that, for me, music may just be the most emotionally powerful thing about film. Pair a great piece of music with a great piece of filmmaking and you've magic; the kind of magic that can affect you -- or, at least, me -- in ways both unexpected and unforgettable. (Take last year's "Once" -- who wasn't in cinematic heaven when Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova performed "Falling Slowly" in the back of that instrument shop?)

Yesterday I burned myself a mix CD. Stumped for songs, I added to the track list "Jai-Ho," that jubilant, Oscar-nominated Bollywood tune that scores the end credits of "Slumdog Millionaire." I thought it silly at the time, especially since I'm so darn sick of hearing about the little-movie-that-could that's now become an awards-hungry behemoth. Then I went for a drive.

When the song started to play, its drums beating and strings strumming, I started to get chills. When the triumphant refrain kicked in, in a language I don't even understand, my eyes started to well up with tears (Roger Ebert recently announced/decided that such an emotional phenomenon is called "Elevation"). Because there, in the solace of my car, far away from all the awards chatter on TV and on the internet, I was able to relive all the wonders I loved about Danny Boyle's movie before it became a baity Oscar contender or a hot topic for blogger discussion. Though I wasn't extremely moved by the film, I was touched by its celebration of life, and one lively listen to "Jai-Ho" made it all come rushing back.

I still want "Milk" to win Best Picture. I'm still going to have trouble ever watching "Slumdog" again without feeling like I was programmed to do so by the status quo. I still think the movie's nomination from the Costume Designer's Guild and ensemble win from the Screen Actor's Guild are utterly ridiculous. But for about five fleeting minutes, I was able to once again appreciate the magic of this movie through the power of music.

I've posted it here so maybe you can do the same. Press play and close your eyes. Forget about all the hype and the awards surplus. Remember the time when "Slumdog Millionaire" was just a unique and energetic little gem. And then come back to reality.

Monday, January 26, 2009

SAG Award Winners!

"There's no such thing as Greatest Living Actress," says Greatest Living Actress Meryl Streep after winning the Screen Actor's Guild Award for Best Actress for "Doubt."

How could anyone not adore this woman? She didn't even wear a freakin' dress. Who else could get away with that? And who else could topple some seriously strong contenders and manage to deliver yet another straight-from-the-gut, off-the-cuff speech that both honors and entertains them all? Nobody kids, nobody.

Congratulations to Meryl Streep, my favorite winner from last night's awards and the fiery lead player from the most well acted film of 2008. And congrats to Kate Winslet, another SAG winner who, in a twist of categorical fate, will see to it that Meryl's win last night will likely be her last major award of the season. Really, could you ask for two better ladies to be sharing/duking it out for all these top prizes? Meryl was right -- it's a great year for "the girls."

Best Supporting Actress
Kate Winslet, "The Reader"

Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"

Best Actress
Meryl Streep, "Doubt"

Best Actor
Sean Penn, "Milk"

Best Ensemble
"Slumdog Millionaire"

Lifetime Achievement Award
James Earl Jones

*For a complete list of nominees and winners, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Write-In: 'Happy-Go-Lucky'

It was bound to happen. Any serious film buff couldn't have been all that surprised when it was announced on Jan. 22 that "The Dark Knight," a money-making child of a genre notoriously ignored by the Academy, would not be competing for Best Picture of 2008. But swapping it out for "The Reader?" An overtly sentimental and hardly remarkable melodrama that's better suited for Lifetime? That stung more than a little bit. If "TDK" had to go, and "Wall-E" never had a prayer to reach beyond Best Animated Feature, surely there were many films more deserving of top five consideration than Stephen Daldry's forced window-dressing of a fascinating Kate Winslet performance. My pick is a movie that was the source of Oscar's most horrifying snub -- "Happy-Go-Lucky," led by the can't-go-wrong Sally Hawkins.

One of the many over-lauded ads for "Slumdog Millionaire" features a quote from a critic calling it “the first great movie of the Obama era.” I'm sure this reviewer meant well, so I'm just gonna sidestep the obviousness of his somewhat offensive ethnic association and simply disagree. I'm also going to assume that he missed "Happy-Go-Lucky," Altman-esque Brit Mike Leigh's immensely refreshing humanistic comedy -- which is odd because the critic in question hails from the U.K. If there's one great '08 film that represents our new age of restored hope and triumph of spirit, it's this one, an airy but never air-headed frolic through the daily life of a common hero who's completely irrepressible and undaunted despite the odds.

If Barack Obama were given a sex change, skin pigmentation surgery, vocal coaching lessons, and a makeover courtesy of Cyndi Lauper and Patricia Field, he'd be Poppy, "Happy-Go-Lucky"'s bubbly commander-in-chief (played by newly-anointed superstar Sally Hawkins in one of the year's very best performances). Guided beautifully by Leigh's free-flowing writing and direction, she and the film she inhabits directly reflect the kind of unwaveringly positive frame of mind that everyone needs to adopt right now. Just like our new president, Poppy exhibits a steadfast, idealistic – and, at times, even unpopular – power that can inspire us all. She makes us believe: “Yes, she can!”

Friday, January 23, 2009

Poster Surgery

To: Christopher Nolan and company
Love, Your Movie Buddy

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Oscar 2009: Nominations Announcement and Prediction Scores

- Amy Adams, "Doubt"
- Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
- Viola Davis, "Doubt"
- Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
- Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler"
Your Movie Buddy's Score: 3/5

- Josh Brolin, "Milk"
- Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"
- Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
- Michael Shannon, "Revolutionary Road"
Your Movie Buddy's Score: 4/5

- Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"
- Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"
- Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"
- Meryl Streep, "Doubt"
- Kate Winslet, "The Reader"
Your Movie Buddy's Score: 3/5

- Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"
- Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"
- Sean Penn, "Milk"
- Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
- Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler"
Your Movie Buddy's Score: 4/5

- David Fincher, "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button"
- Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"
- Gus Van Sant, "Milk"
- Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"
- Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Your Movie Buddy's Score: 4/5

- "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
- "Frost/Nixon"
- "Milk"
- "The Reader"
- "Slumdog Millionaire"
Your Movie Buddy's Score: 4/5

*No Sally Hawkins!?! No "Dark Knight?!?" "The Reader" for Best Pic?!? Yes, I have some exclamations, but I don't have too many complaints (yet). I am glad that the Academy threw a few minor zingers in there (Amy Adams's nom completes the across the board recognition for the year's finest ensemble). And thank God that Freida Pinto talk is finally put to rest.
*For a complete list of all the nominees in every category, CLICK HERE.


I'm not sure how many movies I saw last year. I counted them about a month ago but I can't remember the total. I know it was quite a lot, enough that I can safely say that I devoted a massive chunk of my waking hours in 2008 to staring at a screen. But I didn't see everything. Sadly, I didn't see "27 Dresses," "88 Minutes," "Punisher: War Zone," or "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." Even more sadly (and more seriously), I didn't see the seemingly great titles below, which I've ranked in order of anticipation.

I know what you're thinking: "How can a critic not see everything and still compile a Top Ten list?!?" To which I say: "The end of the year is the end of the year, deadlines are deadlines, and I'm only one man, who's relatively new to the game, no less." Frankly, I don't know how anyone can actually see EVERYTHING -- there's so much material out there. I did my best and, if I do say so myself, confidently entered 2009 with a broad and impressive cross section of the cinematic year gone by. But, yes, some movies I really wanted to see slipped through the cracks. In the coming months, I'm gonna chase down and catch each one. And here's why:

*Honorable Mention: "Silent Light"
Because I made a film in college that also featured extended shots of natural light shining through trees. Apparently this one is better.

10. "Gomorra"

Because I'd like to see a film that bluntly and energetically depicts the gritty urban landscape of a foreign country and isn't called "Slumdog Millionaire."

9. "Tell No One"
Because it stars Marie-Josee Croze and it's supposed to be genuinely, breathlessly suspenseful. We'll see about that.

8. "The House Bunny"
Because I've loved Anna Faris for years and because anything that takes a worthless E! reality show and actually makes it funny is ace in my book.

7. "Synecdoche, New York"
Because that supporting cast of actresses is to die for and because I just wanna see what all the freakin' fuss is about.

6. "Wendy and Lucy"
Because I dig simplicity -- and dogs.

5. "A Christmas Tale"
Because French films are delectable and because by God, how often are there actually decent Christmas movies? Every "Four Christmases?"

4. "Let the Right One In"
Because a movie that's shot through a smoky filter and focuses on a relationship between two young people, one vampire, one not, has to be good. Right?

3. "Elegy"
Because the cast features two of my very favorite actors (Peter Sarsgaard, Patty Clarkson), two of everyone else's (Penelope Cruz, Ben Kingsley), and because it's directed by one of the folks who made "Paris Je T'aime" so darn lovely.

2. "Waltz with Bashir"
Because this year's cornucopia of live-action, war-themed films involving Jews did not deliver, and a hugely lauded animated documentary sounds like a helluva good alternative.

1. "Frozen River"
Because I love rich, female-driven dramas more than most, especially ones directed by females and starring females who finally get their well-deserved time in the spotlight. And because I have an unquenchable desire to see a movie about human trafficking that wasn't made for television and doesn't star Mira Sorvino.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mimi Leder Beat Us To It

Happy Inauguration Day, kids. Here's hoping that from this day forward, we can actually travel abroad - or even just to work - with some patriotic pride. In my reaction to this historic election/event, I've put very little emphasis on Obama's race, if only because it's the most obvious thing that makes this occasion so momentous. But let's face it -- the reality of America's first black president is enormous.

However, it's not the first time we've seen such a person on our TV screens, sitting dignified in the White House as he addresses the world. In 1998, director Mimi Leder ("Pay it Forward") cast Morgan Freeman as the Commander in Chief in her doomsday-by-comet blockbuster, "Deep Impact." I always remember this flick as the rather silly actioner that made me cry (which is fitting, because my eyes have welled up repeatedly throughout Obama's road to victory). Here's a clip of Freeman as Prez, which I'd imagine even Leder herself thought was just a stylistic choice, not a prophetic one that would see itself realized in only 10 years' time.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mickey Rourke is the New Jude Law

Kristin Scott Thomas said it at the Critics' Choice Awards (yeah, I watched 'em): Mickey Rourke is back on top. And she was right. The burly soon-to-be Oscar nominee is gonna be mighty busy in the next two years, lending his talents to at least six major movies.

In 2009, he'll star in two seemingly slick adaptations of two super-slick novels: John "Shakespeare in Love" Madden's take on Elmore Leonard's "Killshot" and Bret Easton Ellis' handling of his own "The Informers." In both films he plays a - tada! - tough guy.

In 2010, he'll reprise his role as Marv in "Sin City 2," match muscles with Jason Statham in "13" (not to be confused with that teen drama starring his "Wrestler" co-star and rumored - yuck - love interest, Evan Rachel Wood), become a comic book villain in "Iron Man 2," and reteam with his "Get Carter" buddy, Sly Stallone, for the Italian Stallion's latest directorial effort, "The Expendables." The latter, about a team of mercenaries on a murderous mission in South America, has a whale of a cast including Stallone, Statham, Jet Li, Ben Kingsley, Sandra Bullock, Forest Whitaker, and another '80s icon, Dolph Lundgren. With this many aging hotshots in the same room, "The Nondisposables" seems more appropriate.

Here are the newly released trailers for Rourke's '09 flicks:

and THE INFORMERS (warning, kids -- this one's Red Band)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thoughts on the BAFTA Nominations

What do I think about the recently announced British Academy Film Award Nominations? First of all, I think they'll have little effect on what ends up on the Oscar short lists, especially since AMPAS ballots have already been mailed. Beyond that, I think a lot of other things, of course.

I think it's good that a film that's not "Benjamin Button," "Slumdog," "Frost/Nixon," "Dark Knight," or "Milk" cracked their big top five, but I don't think "The Reader" was the right one to do it. I think the Brits are either trying to impress Americans by nominating Eastwood or the Clint Fever has just gone airborne and spread across the pond because "Changeling," while okay, was, comparitively, his worst movie since "Blood Work." I think I like their original screenplay nominees although I think I'm about sick of Jenny Lumet getting screwed. I think the adapted screenplay noms could be mirrored by the Academy but I'm still crossing my fingers for the brilliant words and nuances of "Doubt." I think "Film Not in the English Language" sounds ridiculous. I think Dev Patel really was a lead in "Slumdog" but I also think that makes him even less deserving of a nod given the competition. I think I've finally numbed myself to the prickliness of Angelina Jolie's endless recognition for one of the year's most overblown performaces -- oh!, I guess not. I think I love their supporting actor lineup. I think the fact that Freida Pinto beat out Viola Davis and Rosemarie DeWitt is absolutely insane. I think that if out of all the films in Britain they felt the need to select "Mamma Mia!" as one of their FIVE BEST, I won't be going to London anytime soon. Long story short, I think I'll be skipping this year's BAFTA telecast.


THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON Kathleen Kennedy / Frank Marshall / Ceán Chaffin
FROST/NIXON Tim Bevan / Eric Fellner / Brian Grazer / Ron Howard
MILK Dan Jinks / Bruce Cohen
THE READER Anthony Minghella / Sydney Pollack / Donna Gigliotti / Redmond Morris

CHANGELING Clint Eastwood
THE READER Stephen Daldry

BURN AFTER READING Joel Coen / Ethan Coen
CHANGELING J. Michael Straczynski
I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG Philippe Claudel
IN BRUGES Martin McDonagh
MILK Dustin Lance Black

FROST/NIXON Peter Morgan

THE BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX Bernard Eichinger / Uli Edel
GOMORRAH Domenico Procacci / Matteo Garrone
I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG Yves Marmion / Philippe Claudel
PERSEPOLIS Marc-Antoine Robert / Xavier Rigault / Marjane Satrapi / Vincent Parannaud
WALTZ WITH BASHIR Serge Lalou / Gerhard Meixner / Yael Nahl Ieli / Ari Folman

DEV PATEL Slumdog Millionaire
BRAD PITT The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

KATE WINSLET Revolutionary Road

ROBERT DOWNEY JR. Tropic Thunder
HEATH LEDGER The Dark Knight
BRAD PITT Burn After Reading

PENÉLOPE CRUZ Vicky Cristina Barcelona
FREIDA PINTO Slumdog Millionaire
TILDA SWINTON Burn After Reading

HUNGER Laura Hastings-Smith / Robin Gutch / Steve McQueen / Enda Walsh
IN BRUGES Graham Broadbent / Pete Czernin / Martin McDonagh
MAMMA MIA! Judy Craymer / Gary Goetzman / Phyllida Lloyd / Catherine Johnson
MAN ON WIRE Simon Chinn / James Marsh
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE Christian Colson / Danny Boyle / Simon Beaufoy

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Costume Design Contenders Suit Up

I'm not going to comment on the Academy's faithfully horrific Foreign Language film eligibility practices. Instead, here are the recently announced nominees from the Costume Designer's Guild, followed by my fearless Oscar nominee predictions.

Deborah Hopper for “Changeling”
Jacqueline West for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Michael O’Connor for “The Duchess”
Danny Glicker for “Milk”
Albert Wolsky for “Revolutionary Road”

Laura Jean Shannon and Rebecca Bentjen for “Iron Man”
Ann Roth for “Mamma Mia!”
Patricia Field for “Sex and the City”
Suttirat Larlarb for “Slumdog Millionaire”
Amy Westcott for “The Wrestler”

Isis Mussenden for “Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”
Lindy Hemming for “The Dark Knight”
Sanja Milkovic Hays for ” The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”

*"The Fall" didn't make the cut for excellence in fantasy film?!?!? Aside from art direction, where it will almost surely be snubbed, I thought this category was the only hope for Tarsem's vivid, dreamlike fantasia. Oh well.

Your Movie Buddy's predictions for the Best Costume Design Oscar nominees:
Deborah Hopper for “Changeling”
Jacqueline West for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Michael O’Connor for “The Duchess”
Albert Wolsky for “Revolutionary Road”
Patricia Field for “Sex and the City”

And, your winner:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Golden Globe Winners!

Congratulations to the adorable and magnificent Kate Winslet who, in a semi-stunning turn of events, nabbed both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress trophies at last night's Golden Globe Awards. The genuinely touched goddess even managed to give an unintentional jab to my current love/hate obsession: superdiva Angelina Jolie, whose name Winslet couldn't remember when acknowledging her fellow nominees (I believe her words were, "oh God, who's the other one?!?"). Priceless. She went on to give a tearful thanks to her two husbands: co-star and BFF Leo DiCaprio and actual hubby, "Revolutionary Road" director, Sam Mendes. What an extraordinary - to borrow a word that she used repeatedly - evening for an actress who's deserved these kinds of accolades for some time now (it even made me weep). Could the double win be repeated at the Oscars? If so, it'd be an Academy Awards first. Things just got a little more interesting...

Best Picture, Drama: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Picture, Comedy/Musical: Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Actor, Drama: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Best Actress, Drama: Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Best Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Foreign Language Film: Waltz With Bashir
Best Animated Feature: WALL·E
Best Actor, Musical/Comedy: Colin Farrell
Best Actress, Musical/Comedy: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
Best Original Score: A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millonaire
Best Original Song: Bruce Springsteen, The Wrestler
Cecil B. DeMille Award: Stephen Spielberg

*I don't cover television at this blog, so if you want those other winners, you'll have to CLICK HERE (Yeah, I'm totally serious). I can't end this post without offering a big congrats to both Sally Hawkins and surprise winner Colin Farrell, both of whom were deservedly recognized for their great work in two of the year's best films. Bravo, Hollywood Foreign Press.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

DGA, PGA, and WGA Announce Nominees

That's right, I'm hitting you with more acronyms and, this time, I mean business. The nominations for the 2008 awards from the Directors, Producers, and Writers Guilds of America were all announced this week, and they're the surest indicators of what the big Oscar races will look like. Not many surprises here, except maybe some inevitable snubs for original screenplay. Your Movie Buddy's Oscar nomination predictions are looking preeeetty good right about now, and January 22 can't come soon enough.

Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
Gus Van Sant, Milk

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, and Cean Chaffin)
The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, and Emma Thomas)
Frost/Nixon (Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, and Eric Fellner)
Milk (Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen)
Slumdog Millionaire (Christian Colson)

Man on Wire (Simon Chinn)
Standard Operating Procedure (Julie Bilson Ahlberg and Errol Morris)
Trouble the Water (Carl Deal and Tia Lessin)

Bolt (Clark Spencer)
Kung Fu Panda (Melissa Cobb)
Wall-E (Jim Morris)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Screenplay by Eric Roth; Screen Story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord; Based on the Short Story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures
The Dark Knight
Screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan; Story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer; Based on Characters Appearing in Comic Books Published by DC Comics; Batman Created by Bob Kane, Warner Bros. Pictures
Screenplay by John Patrick Shanley, Based on his Stage Play, Miramax Films
Screenplay by Peter Morgan, Based on his Stage Play, Universal Pictures
Slumdog Millionaire
Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy, Based on the Novel Q and A by Vikas Swarup, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Burn After Reading
Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, Focus Features
Written by Dustin Lance Black, Focus Features
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Written by Woody Allen, The Weinstein Company
The Visitor
Written by Tom McCarthy, Overture Films
The Wrestler
Written by Robert Siegel, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Oscar 2009: Final Nomination Predictions

This year, for my final Academy Awards nomination predix, I'm gonna keep the personal thoughts to a minimum. Let's just trim the fat and get down to business. Here's who and what I believe will be vying for the gold on February 22:


Penelope Cruz in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Viola Davis in "Doubt"
Rosemarie DeWitt in "Rachel Getting Married"
Marisa Tomei in "The Wrestler"
Kate Winslet in "The Reader"

*Brief thoughts: I'm a little biased here. I simply cannot drop the phenomenal Rosemarie DeWitt out of my top five picks in this category. Taraji Henson will likely slip in for her work in "Benjamin Button," but the slot belongs to DeWitt.


Josh Brolin in "Milk"
Robert Downey Jr. in "Tropic Thunder"
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Doubt"
Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight"
Dev Patel in "Slumdog Millionaire"

*Brief thoughts: I'm thinking this race is going to be an exact repeat of the SAG nominations. The only one who could topple the list is "Revolutionary Road"'s Michael Shannon, but no one seems to even be talking about the film apart from Winslet's tour de force. On that note...


Anne Hathaway in "Rachel Getting Married"
Sally Hawkins in "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Angelina Jolie in "Changeling"
Meryl Streep in "Doubt"
Kate Winslet in "Revolutionary Road"

*Brief thoughts: It really pains me to include Jolie in this list but it's not really about what I think. Her overacted perf. has nabbed Globe and SAG noms and she's a Golden Satellite winner. Sorry, Melissa Leo and Kristin Scott Thomas -- I feel your pain.


Clint Eastwood in "Gran Torino"
Richard Jenkins in "The Visitor"
Frank Langella in "Frost/Nixon"
Sean Penn in "Milk"
Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler"

*Brief thoughts: I believe that the veterans will dominate this category. The Academy loves Eastwood, Jenkins has mucho support, and there's no stopping the Langella/Penn/Rourke trifecta. Pitt may end up representing the (slightly) younger bracket, but his Benjamin Button was more of an f/x creation.


Danny Boyle for "Slumdog Millionaire"
David Fincher for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Ron Howard for "Frost/Nixon"
Christopher Nolan for "The Dark Knight"
Gus Van Sant for "Milk"

*Brief thoughts: This may well be the first year since 2005 that the directing race matches the picture race. The only other potential nominee is Andrew Stanton for "Wall-E," but that film will probably have to settle for nods for original screenplay and animated feature.


"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"The Dark Knight"
"Slumdog Millionaire"

*Brief thoughts: At this point, the only contender that could upset this lineup is "Doubt," which could make good on its title and wow the non-believers. However, it isn't likely, and "The Dark Knight" will probably land the fifth spot, rightfully receiving recognition as one of the defining films of 2008.

How close am I? We'll see on January 22 (a.k.a. Christmas), when the nominees for the 81st Annual Academy Awards are announced.

Want more Oscar prediction fun? Wanna check my accuracy record? To view my nomination guesses from last year, CLICK HERE.

The National Society of Film Critics Announces Winners

That's right, no acronym here and - obviously - no map point, either.

Here's another lovely push for Sally Hawkins, and lots of love for Leigh's film in general. But "Waltz with Bashir" getting Best Picture and "Man on Wire" getting Best Non-Fiction Film? I'm confused.

Just where is "WWB" going to end up if it sneaks into the nominations? Is it not the leading candidate for the obligatory prestigious foreign toon slot?

BEST PICTURE:“Waltz with Bashir,” directed by Ari Folman
BEST DIRECTOR: Mike Leigh, “Happy-Go-Lucky”
BEST ACTOR: Sean Penn, “Milk”
BEST ACTRESS: Sally Hawkins, “Happy-Go-Lucky”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Eddie Marsan, “Happy-Go-Lucky”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Hanna Schygulla, “The Edge of Heaven”
BEST SCREENPLAY: “Happy-Go-Lucky,” written by Mike Leigh
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: “Slumdog Millionaire,” Anthony Dod Mantle
BEST NON-FICTION FILM: “Man on Wire,” directed by James Marsh
BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM: “Razzle Dazzle,” directed by Ken Jacobs

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sister, Sister, Oh So Fair

...Why is there blood all over your hair?

In the spirit of "Doubt" and "Frost/Nixon," this weekend I indulged in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?," another ACTOR vs. ACTOR face-off. This one pins Bette Davis against Joan Crawford in pitch black comic/thriller fashion. It was my first time. What delectable scene-chewing in this film. What twisted fun.