Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oklahoma Film Critics


PICTURE: Slumdog Millionaire

Top Ten:
-The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
-The Dark Knight
-Doubt
-Frost/Nixon
-Happy-Go-Lucky
-Milk
-Rachel Getting Married
-WALL-E
-The Wrestler

DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
ACTOR: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
ACTRESS: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: The Wrestler- Robert Siegel
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Slumdog Millionaire- Simon Beaufoy
FOREIGN FILM: Let the Right One In
ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E
DOCUMENTARY: Man on Wire
FIRST FEATURE: Synecdoche, New York
WORST FILM: The Love Guru
NOT SO OBVIOUSLY WORST FILM: Mamma Mia!

St. Louis Film Critics

PICTURE: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
ACTOR: Sean Penn, Milk
ACTRESS: Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Viola Davis, Doubt
SCREENPLAY: Slumdog Millionaire- Simon Beaufoy
FOREIGN FILM: Slumdog Millionaire ?
DOCUMENTARY: Man on Wire
ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E
COMEDY: Burn After Reading
MOST ORIGINAL FILM: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Australia- Mandy Walker
MUSIC: The Visitor
VISUAL EFFECTS: The Dark Knight

Sunday, December 21, 2008

San Francisco Film Critics Circle

BEST PICTURE
Milk

BEST DIRECTOR
Gus Van Sant, Milk

BEST ACTOR (tie)
Sean Penn, Milk
and
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

BEST ACTRESS
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Let the Right One In

BEST DOCUMENTARY
My Winnipeg

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
The Dark Knight- Wally Pfister

San Diego Film Critics Society

PICTURE: Slumdog Millionaire
runner-up: The Dark Knight

DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
ACTOR: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
ACTRESS: Kate Winslet, The Reader
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: The Visitor- Thomas McCarthy
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Slumdog Millionaire- Simon Beaufoy
ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E
FOREIGN FILM: Let the Right One In
DOCUMENTARY: Man on Wire
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Slumdog Millionaire- Anthony Dod Mantle
PRODUCTION DESIGN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button- Donald Graham Burt
FILM EDITING: Slumdog Millionaire- Chris Dickens
SCORE: Slumdog Millionaire- A.R. Rahman
ENSEMBLE: Frost/Nixon
BODY OF WORK: Richard Jenkins- The Visitor; Burn After Reading; Step Brothers; The Tale of Despereaux

Phoenix Film Critics Society


PICTURE
Slumdog Millionaire

Top 10:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button The Dark Knight Frost/Nixon In Bruges Milk The Reader The Visitor WALL-E The Wrestler

DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
ACTOR: Sean Penn, Milk
ACTRESS: Meryl Streep, Doubt
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
ENSEMBLE: Milk
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: In Bruges- Martin McDonagh
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Slumdog Millionaire- Simon Beaufoy
ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E
FOREIGN FILM: Let the Right One In
DOCUMENTARY: Man on Wire
ORIGINAL SONG: The Wrester- "The Wrestler" (Bruce Springsteen)
ORIGINAL SCORE: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button- Alexander Desplat
CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button- Claudio Miranda
PRODUCTION DESIGN: The Dark Knight
COSTUME DESIGN: The Duchess
FILM EDITING: Slumdog Millionaire
STUNTS: The Dark Knight
VISUAL EFFECTS: The Dark Knight
BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire
BREAKTHROUGH FILMMAKER: Martin McDonagh, In Bruges
CHILD PERFORMANCES: Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Slumdog Millionaire; Dakota Fanning, The Secret Life of Bees
LIVE ACTION FAMILY FILM: High School Musical 3
MOST OVERLOOKED FILM: In Bruges

Austin Film Critics

PICTURE: The Dark Knight

Top 10:
2. Slumdog Millionaire
3. Milk
4. Synecdoche, New York
5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
6. The Wrestler
7. WALL-E
8. Frost/Nixon
9. Let the Right One In
10. Gran Torino

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
ACTOR: Sean Penn, Milk
ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Synecdoche, New York- Charlie Kaufman
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Dark Knight- Christopher Nolan & Jonathon Nolan
CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Fall- Colin Watkinson
ORIGINAL SCORE: The Dark Knight- James Newton Howard & Hans Zimmer
FOREIGN FILM: Let the Right One In
ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E
DOCUMENTARY: Man on Wire
BREAKTHROUGH: Danny McBride, The Foot Fist Way; Pineapple Express; Tropic Thunder

Detroit Film Critics


PICTURE: Slumdog Millionaire
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
ACTOR: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
ACTRESS: Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
ENSEMBLE: Frost/Nixon
BREAKTHROUGH: Martin McDonagh, In Bruges

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Toronto Film Critics Association

BEST PICTURE
Wendy & Lucy
runners-up: Rachel Getting Married; WALL-E

BEST DIRECTOR
Jonathon Demme, Rachel Getting Married
runners-up: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire; Andrew Stanton, WALL-E

BEST ACTOR
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
runners-up: Sean Penn, Milk; Jean Claude Van Damme, JCVD (never thought I'd ever type that name)

BEST ACTRESS
Michelle Williams, Wendy & Lucy
runners-up: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married; Meryl Streep, Doubt

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
runners-up: Josh Brolin, Milk; Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married
runner-up: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Viola Davis, Doubt

BEST SCREENPLAY
Rachel Getting Married- Jenny Lumet
runners-up: Doubt- John Patrick Shanley; Frost/Nixon- Peter Morgan

BEST FIRST FEATURE
Ballast
runners-up: The Band's Visit; Frozen River

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
WALL-E
runners-up: Kung Fu Panda; Persepolis; Waltz With Bashir

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Let the Right One In
runners-up: The Class; I've Loved You So Much; A Christmas Tale

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Man on Wire
runners-up: Standard Operating Procedure; Up the Yangtze

Houston Film Critics Society

PICTURE: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
ACTOR: Sean Penn, Milk
ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Viola Davis, Doubt
ENSEMBLE: Doubt
SCREENPLAY: Slumdog Millionaire- Simon Beaufoy
ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E
DOCUMENTARY: Man on Wire
FOREIGN FILM: Mongol
CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button- Claudio Miranda
ORIGINAL SCORE: Miracle at St. Anna- Terrence Blanchard
ORIGINAL SONG: WALL-E- "Down to Earth"

Dallas-Ft. Worth Film Critics Association

BEST PICTURE
Slumdog Millionaire

Top Ten:
2. Milk
3. The Dark Knight
4. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
5. The Wrestler
6. The Visitor
7. Frost/Nixon
8. Doubt
9. WALL-E
10. Happy-Go-Lucky

BEST DIRECTOR
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
runners-up: David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight; Gus Van Sant, Milk; Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon

BEST ACTOR
Sean Penn, Milk
runners-up: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler; Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon; Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Richard Jenkins, The Visitor

BEST ACTRESS

Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
runners-up: Meryl Streep, Doubt; Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky; Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long; Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
runners-up: Josh Brolin, Milk; Eddie Marsan, Happy-Go-Lucky; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt; Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis, Doubt
runners-up: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler; Taraji P. Hensen, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married

BEST SCREENPLAY
Milk- Dustin Lance Black
runner-up: Slumdog Millionaire- Simon Beaufoy

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Tell No One
runners-up: Waltz With Bashir; Let the Right One In; I've Loved You So Long; Gomorrah

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Man on Wire
runners-up: Waltz With Bashir; Young@Heart; Standard Operating Procedure; Dear Zachary

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
WALL-E
runner-up: Kung Fu Panda

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
The Dark Knight- Wally Phister
runner-up:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button- Claudio Miranda

RUSSELL SMITH AWARD:
Wendy & Lucy

Is anybody else getting tired of Slumdog Millionaire-- I'm just saying, I liked the film and all-- a few nods here and there for sure-- but the buckets it's receiving. Please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks this is way overrated. PLEASE SOMEONE!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chicago Film Critics Association

PICTURE: WALL-E
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
ACTOR: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Kate Winslet, The Reader
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: WALL-E- Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Slumdog Millionaire- Simon Beaufoy
FOREIGN FILM: Let the Right One In
DOCUMENTARY: Man on Wire
ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E
CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Dark Knight- Wally Pfister
ORIGINAL SCORE: WALL-E- Thomas Newman
MOST PROMISING PERFORMER: Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire
MOST PROMISING FILMMAKER: Tomas Alfredson, Let the Right One In

Florida Film Critics Circle

PICTURE: Slumdog Millionaire
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
ACTOR: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
ACTRESS: Melissa Leo, Frozen River
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
SCREENPLAY: Slumdog Millionaire- Simon Beaufoy
CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Dark Knight- Wally Pfister
FOREIGN FILM: Let the Right One In
ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E
DOCUMENTARY: Man on Wire
BREAKTHROUGH: Martin McDonagh, In Bruges

Las Vegas Film Critics Society

PICTURE: Frost/Nixon
DIRECTOR: Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
ACTOR: Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
ACTRESS: Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road & The Reader
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SUPPORTNG ACTRESS: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
SCREENPLAY: Frost/Nixon- Peter Morgan
DOCUMENTARY: Man on Wire
ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E
FOREIGN FILM: Mongol
CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button- Claudio Miranda
FILM EDITING: Frost/Nixon- Daniel P. Hanley & Mike Hill
COSTUME DESIGN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
ART DIRECTION: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
SCORE: Defiance- James Newton Howard
SONG: Quantum of Solace- "Another Way to Die"
VISUAL EFFECTS: Iron Man
FAMILY FILM: The Spiderwick Chronicles
YOUTH IN FILM AWARD: David Kross, The Reader

Utah Film Critics Association


BEST PICTURE
The Dark Knight
runner-up: Rachel Getting Married

BEST DIRECTOR
Andrew Stanton, WALL-E
runner-up: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight

BEST ACTOR
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
runners-up: Richard Jenkins, The Visitor; Sean Penn, Milk

BEST ACTRESS
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
runner-up: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married
runners-up: Frances McDormand, Burn After Reading; Missy Upham, Frozen River; Evan Rachel Wood, The Wrestler

BEST SCREENPLAY
Rachel Getting Married- Jenny Lumet
runner-up: The Wrestler- Robert Siegel

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Man on Wire
runners-up: Encounters at the End of the World; Waltz With Bashir

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Let the Right One In
runner-up: Waltz With Bashir

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
WALL-E
runner-up: Kung Fu Panda

Screen Actors Guild Nominations


BEST ENSEMBLE
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Doubt
Frost/Nixon

Milk

Slumdog Millionaire


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

BEST ACTRESS
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, Doubt
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Kate Winslet, The Reader

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Southeastern Film Critics Association

BEST PICTURE: Milk

The Top Ten:
2. Slumdog Millionaire
3. WALL-E
4. The Dark Knight
5. The Wrestler
6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
7. The Reader
8. The Visitor
9. Frost/Nixon
10. Revolutionary Road

BEST DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
runner-up: Gus Van Sant, Milk

BEST ACTOR: Sean Penn, Milk
runner-up: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

BEST ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
runner-up: Kate Winslet, The Reader

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
runner-up: Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
runner-up: Viola Davis, Doubt

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Milk- Dustin Lance Black
runner-up: The Wrestler- Robert D. Siegel

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Slumdog Millionaire- Simon Beaufoy
runner-up: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button- Eric Roth & Robin Swicord

BEST FOREIGN FILM: Let the Right One In
runner-up: I've Loved You So Long

BEST DOCUMENTARY: Man on Wire
runner-up: Young@Heart

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E
runner-up: Kung Fu Panda

Golden Satellites Award Winners


BEST PICTURE (Drama)
Slumdog Millionaire

BEST PICTURE (Musical or Comedy)
Happy-Go-Lucky

BEST DIRECTOR
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire

BEST ACTOR (Drama)
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor

BEST ACTRESS (Drama)
Angelina Jolie, Changeling

BEST ACTOR (Musical or Comedy)
Ricky Gervais, Ghost Town

BEST ACTRESS (Musical or Comedy)
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Visitor- Thomas McCarthy

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Frost/Nixon- Peter Morgan

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Gomorrah

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
WALL-E

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Man on Wire
and
Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Slumdog Millionaire- A.R. Rahman

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
"Another Way to Die"- Quantum of Solace

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Australia- Mandy Walker

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Australia- Catherine Martin, Ian Gracie, Karen Murphy & Beverly Dunn

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
The Duchess- Michael O'Connor

BEST FILM EDITING
Iron Man- Dan Lebental

BEST SOUND
The Dark Knight

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Australia

Monday, December 15, 2008

New York Film Critics Online


BEST PICTURE: Slumdog Millionaire
BEST DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
BEST ACTOR: Sean Penn, Milk
BEST ACTRESS: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
BEST SCREENPLAY: Slumdog Millionaire- Simon Beaufoy
BEST FOREIGN FILM: 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
BEST DOCUMENTARY: Man on Wire
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E
BEST SCORE: Slumdog Millionaire- A.R. Rahman
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY- Slumdog Millionaire- Anthony Dod Mantle
BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
BEST DIRECTORIAL DEBUT: Martin McDonagh, In Bruges
BEST ENSEMBLE: Milk

Anbody else getting bored with these choices-- everything being Slumdog this and Slumdog that-- I can't possibly be the only person who thought the film was overrated (more on that later.)

AFI Top Ten of 2009


  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Frozen River
  • Gran Torino
  • Iron Man
  • Milk
  • WALL-E
  • Wendy & Lucy
  • The Wrestler

Boston Film Critics Society

BEST PICTURE: WALL-E and Slumdog Millionaire (tie)
BEST DIRECTOR: Gus Van Sant, Milk and Paranoid Park
BEST ACTOR: Sean Penn, Milk and Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
BEST ACTRESS: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
BEST SCREENPLAY: Milk- Dustin Lance Black
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY- Paranoid Park- Christopher Doyle & Rain Kathy Li
BEST DOCUMENTARY: Man on Wire
BEST FOREIGN FILM: Let the Right One In
BEST ANIMATED FILM: WALL-E
BEST FILM EDITING: Slumdog Millionaire- Chris Dickens
BEST NEW FILMMAKER: Martin McDonagh, In Bruges
BEST ENSEMBLE: Tropic Thunder

Such a fickle group those Bostonians, with various ties going on, but I'm all for the WALL-
E choice-- could it be that after the Los Angeles Film Critics and now Boston that lovable robot in the best movie of the year could potentially be a Best Picture candidate-- please, please, please!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New York Film Critics Circle

PICTURE: Milk
DIRECTOR: Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky
ACTOR: Sean Penn, Milk
ACTRESS: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Josh Brolin, Milk
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
SCREENPLAY: Rachel Getting Married- Jenny Lumet
ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E
FOREIGN FILM: 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
FIRST FILM: Frozen River- Courtney Hunt
DOCUMENTARY: Man on Wire
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Slumdog Millionaire- Anthony Dod Mantle

Los Angeles Film Critics Association

BEST PICTURE
WALL-E
runner-up: The Dark Knight

BEST DIRECTOR
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
runner-up: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight

BEST ACTOR
Sean Penn, Milk
runner-up: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

BEST ACTRESS
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
runner-up: Melissa Leo, Frozen River

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
runner-up: Eddie Marsan, Happy-Go-Lucky

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
runner-up: Viola Davis, Doubt

BEST SCREENPLAY
Happy-Go-Lucky- Mike Leigh
runner-up: Synecdoche, New York- Charlie Kaufman

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Still Life
runner-up: The Class

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Man on Wire
runner-up: Waltz with Bashir

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Waltz with Bashir

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Still Life- Yu Lik Wai
runner-up: Slumdog Millionaire- Anthony Dod Mantle

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Synecdoche, New York- Mark Friedberg
runner-up: The Dark Knight- Nathan Crowley

BEST SCORE
Slumdog Millionaire- A.R. Rahman
runner-up: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button- Alexander Desplat

NEW GENERATION AWARD
Steve McQueen, Hunger

I praise the LA film critics for their bold and worthy selection of WALL-E as best picture-- it's a real shame now that most animated features are ghettoized in only one category. This is far and away the first critics group of the season that seems to have avoided group-think mentality. YAY!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Washington D.C. Film Critics Association










BEST PICTURE
: Slumdog Millionaire
BEST DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
BEST ACTOR: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
BEST ACTRESS: Meryl Streep, Doubt
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married
BEST ENSEMBLE: Doubt
BREAKTRHOUGH PERFORMANCE: Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Rachel Getting Married- Jenny Lumet
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Slumdog Millionaire- Simon Beaufoy
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E
BEST DOCUMENTARY: Man on Fire
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Let the Right One In
BEST ART DIRECTION: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Thursday, December 4, 2008

National Board of Review

BEST PICTURE
Slumdog Millionaire

Top Ten Films of 2008:

Burn After Reading
Changeling
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Defiance
Frost/Nixon
Gran Torino
Milk
WALL-E
The Wrestler

BEST DIRECTOR

David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


BEST ACTOR

Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino

BEST ACTRESS
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Josh Brolin, Milk

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
Doubt

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Gran Torino- Nick Schenk

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button- Eric Roth
and
Slumdog Millionaire- Simon Beaufoy

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCES
Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire (male)
Viola Davis, Doubt (female)

BEST DIRECTORIAL DEBUT
Courtney Hunt, Frozen River

SPOTLIGHT AWARD
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Melissa Leo, Frozen River

BEST ANIMATED FILM
WALL-E

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Mongol

Top Five Foreign Films of 2008:
The Edge of Heaven
Let the Right One In
Roman de Gare
A Secret
Waltz With Bashir

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Man on Wire

Top Five Documentaries of 2008:
American Teen
The Betrayal
Dear Zachary
Encounters at the End of the World
Roman Polanski: Wanted & Desired

Top 10 Independent Films of 2008:
Frozen River
In Bruges
In Search of a Midnight Kiss
Mr. Foe
Rachel Getting Married
Snow Angels
Son of Rambow
Wendy & Lucy
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
The Visitor

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Milk

With accessible, but rousing direction from Gus Van Sant, a crisply informative and moving original script from Dustin Lance Black, and a terrific star turn by Sean Penn, Milk is an all too rare biographical film that not only feels achingly authentic, yet also completely relevant. Based on the true tale of slain politico Harvey Milk, a kind of funny looking New Yorker, who became the first openly gay man elected into major public office. Centering on the last eight years of his life, Milk, the movie vividly re-creates late 1970s San Francisco. And while nailing the period, there's a stark relevance to the story, easily making the first great mainstream film to center around the gay rights struggle. It's also an achievement for director Van Sant, after several years making arty, highly idiosyncratic films like Gerry, Elephant and Last Days. Milk is easily his most accessible film since Good Will Hunting while mixing the artfulness of his more avant-garde pieces in his oeuvre.

The film opens with Milk's move to San Francisco in the mid-1970s with his lover Scott Smith (James Franco.) Right away there's a contrast to the perception of liberal San Fran-- a sharp divide between the open gays and hippie counter culture crowd and the more conservative Irish Catholic residing in the Castro. The film explores the burgeoning activist forming in Milk, as he and his cohorts start to transform the Castro into the mecca of gay culture it's become, which leads to his campaigning to city supervisor. In true American Dream spirit, Milk lost the race three times in a row, but kept fighting and historically won the fourth time in 1978, after reshaping his persona from middle aged hippie\bathhouse visitor to a finely dressed man in a three piece suit. Milk greatly benefited the fourth time from the redrawing the district lines, which basically meant the only voters he had to win over were the gays and hippies. The district line reshaping also helped out fellow supervisor Dan White (Josh Brolin), a conservative Irish Catholic former fireman.

Once in office, Milk chronicles the initiatives that he personally championed-- a gay rights act in San Francisco, a doggie-poop ordinance that Milk created as a nice piece of free publicity, and the big one-- the fight over Prop. 6, or the Briggs Initiative. Created by Senator John Briggs (Denis O'Hare), and championed in the era of Anita Bryant (who like Joseph McCarthy in Good Night, and Good Luck is played by herself), Prop. 6 stated that any openly gay California public teacher would be terminated from their job. Against the odds, and thanks in part to Milk's charming aplomb, Prop. 6 lost. The film focuses back and fourth between this and the at odds relationship between Milk and White, and close knit group of activists in Milk's corner played quite well by Emile Hirsh, Emily Pill and Joseph Cross.

Van Sant and team smartly fashion the informative history with a great sense of urgency-- the interweaving of archival footage feels authentic, while artistic-- props go to cinematographer Harris Savides, and the production team for refashioning 70s era San Francisco. And yet the power of Milk is also the timelessness, in these days of Prop. 8-- we're still fighting what pioneers like Milk help to carve out. All of this is great material for Sean Penn, who is outstanding in the title role. Always an intense, formidable actor, Penn subsides slightly allowing Milk a moving sense of vulnerability-- it's easily the actor's most moving performance in ages. He contorts his voice to Milk's fey tone, but powerfully channels his power and magnitude. One gets the sense that others would follow when you spoke. The only real stumble in the film is the closing chapters of Milk's personal life; once his great love Scott leaves him, he starts a romance with an unstable Mexican named Jack (Diego Luna), which feels underdeveloped. This is notable because the the rapport between Penn and Franco is undeniably moving-- Franco is easily the warmest presence in the film.

There's something special about Milk, a love letter to a little known piece of California history, that in it's sadness and disparity, a hopeful optimism permeates that is inspiring. And that Gus Van Sant has crafted such an artful and soulful, unapologetically gay (the opening scene is a sweet interlude between Penn and Franco) depiction of his life confirms the capacity and emotional impact of such a story. The closing scene is easily one of the most powerfully moving sequences I've ever seen, and having seen real footage of said sequence in the 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, that's saying something. A

Friday, October 10, 2008

Choke; Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist




CHOKE
Sam Rockwell plays Victor Mancini in this adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel. He's a sex addict\con man (his con is going to restaurants and purposely choking himself in an effort to be saved by by standing good samaritans) who works as a historical re-enactor at a Colonial Williamsburg-type theme park to pay for his mother's (Anjelica Huston) medical bills. That's an earful, and at time the film succumbs a bit too much to it's quirky exposition. But at it's core-- Choke is actually a sweetly warped romantic comedy, between Victor and Paige (Kelly McDonald), his mother's doctor. The setback is that sex-addicted Victor can't seem to rise to the occasion for Paige because perhaps for the first time there's actual feelings attached. Writer\director Clark Gregg (who also appears as a nit-picky historical re-enactor) has a lot of fun keeping the energy and demented sense of play addling Victor's sexual problems and in handling the tricky relationship between him and his Alzheimer's afflicted mother harboring a buried secret. In a sense Victor is the least complicated character in Choke (even Paige is holding out in a funky twist I didn't expect), but Rockwell is perfect for the role. There's few actors who ooze a sense of raunchy charm almost instantly, and he anchors the film (even in it's rockier moments) with a sense of intelligence and smugness. I never read the original novel and have heard many quibbles of adaptation issues and less than stellar reviews, but I found Choke to be a pleasant and diverting dirty-minded fable. B


NICK & NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST
In 2003, filmmaker Peter Sollett made his directorial debut with Raising Victor Vargas a joyful teen romantic comedy with a real sense of character and an uniquely honest but sweet depiction of a Bronx upbringing. Now Sollett is back with another teenage romance set in the same city chronicling a chance encounter between two ironic music geeks on a search for a phantom band. The budget is higher, and Michael Cera and Kat Dennings (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) play the young budding musically obsessed, irony infused could-be lovers. While Nick & Norah doesn't really have the same sense of arrival that Raising Victor Vargas had, it's still a notch better the usual need-to-get-laid of teen romances. Nick (Cera), whose the only straight member of his band, is hurting bad over a bad break-up of a serious be-yotch, and Norah (Dennings), whose in a quasi-something with a guy painfully wrong for her, meet cute in a New York club, which lead to a night long dance of words between the awkward-stammering (a Cera specialty) and verbose apathy-- at times it feels a high school production written by Woody Allen, but every so often the film has a Before Sunrise-type feel to it. There's lots of barriers on the way, including the two exes who appear out of nowhere, and Norah's drunk friend (a game Ari Graynor, who fulfills the necessary gross out scenes perquisite), who disappears. But there's a sweetness and a fair mindedness to Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist that wins out, a sweet chemistry between Cera and Dennings, whose Jewishness is admirably no big deal, and gay supporting characters who aren't just there for fabulous punchlines. B

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Late Summer Goodies



BURN AFTER READING
After No Country For Old Men, there was bound to be a setback from the brothers Coen, but those crafty genre-shifting clever than thou siblings have concocted a funny absurdest caper that proves a worthy antidote to dreary world of Cormac McCarthy. Burn After Reading, easily the Coen's most successful comedy since The Big Lebowski is nifty, strange little ditty, it's easily the cutest film they've ever done, despite all the violence in the second half-- it Coen-lite, but after proving their superior worth last year, it's refreshing. Centered around a scorned, middle weight CIA agent (John Malkovich) whose CD containing bits of a hopeful memoir turn up in a local Washington area gym winds up in the hands of dim instructor (Brad Pitt) and an image-weary, online dating obsessive (Frances McDormand), the two then in turn try and blackmail the agent in hopes of cash leading down a convoluted story muddled by the CIA agent's icy wife (Tilda Swinton) and her "male"- stress (George Clooney), Whew! It never quite makes sense and yet it does, and the lunacy becomes quite becoming. The joy of this strange brand of comedy that the Coen Brothers stage comes from the fact that each of the ensemble members is shaded just enough that an entire movie could easily be centered around any of them. Malkovich, that strange bald ball of Method is always interesting, never more so here than when he utters the word "memoir." Pitt is quite adorable in his first Coen role, playing dumb so earnestly-- he's easily the most likable character. McDormand, in a role that seems a little sick especially when you think her husband Joel wrote and directed this, as always is fetching, and a jolly counterpoint to the icy but ravishing Swinton. It's only Clooney who never quite jelled for me-- in a film where everyone is deadpan, he's just a clown-- he's biggest laugh in the movie (I won't spoil it) is funny, but nonsensical. But the ever generous Coens redeem with regular great supporting roles for Richard Jenkins and J.K. Simmons. Burn After Reading is a total lark and is a bit slow in the first half, but a diverting little ditty of screwball comedy. B


VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
Woody Allen goes to Spain for the first time and the results are quite beautiful. Nothing can compare to his '70s gems, but this first one of the last decade seems to come the closest. Vicky Cristina Barcelona has a lightness, a romanticism, and a warmness one may have thought Allen lost a long time ago. The story or travelogue follows two young American girls spending the summer in the Barcelona. Vicky (Rebecca Hall-- you might remember her in The Prestige) is a studious uptight gal about to married to a professional type (Chris Messina, currently creeping out innocent moviegoers with a small role in Towelhead) readying her rational and conventional step into adulthood. Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) is a free wheeling adventurer trading men and career options on a whim, trying to find suits her, while probably more interested in the hunt than the result. Both gals on the outset are archetypes, but both actresses invest such vivid intelligence and longing into their roles that are by turns surprising and sexy and funny. Johansson is quite good more or less playing a kinkier version of her character in Lost in Translation. Along the way they meet suave painter Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) who whisks the girls on a weekend getaway. At first, especially to Vicky, he comes across as a typical Latin lothario, but Bardem brings such an authentic tenderness to the role, it's convincing when both girls fall for him. There's a fourth main character too, and she arrives about halfway through-- Juan Antonio's tragic ex-wife Maria Elena (played with mad gusto by a never better Penelope Cruz,) and she changes the film, but keeps the rhythm going, if that makes any sense. Allen's latest is sensuous and lovely in a way most romantic comedies never are-- this is in fact a romantic comedy in which there really isn't any happy ending, but evocative nonetheless. My only quibble with the film was the vacuous narration that never added anything that wasn't already expressed by the actors working at the top of their respective games. A-

Monday, September 22, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Doubt Trailer

Directed by John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck)

Stars: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis.

Meryl looks good...Oscar number 3? The source material won pretty much theater prize known including a Pulitzer, can the film expand that without being too stagey?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Towelhead

Towelhead, written and directed by American Beauty scribe Alan Ball, is one of the most uncomfortable to watch movies, ever. The movie begins achingly squirm-inducing and manages to top itself scene after scene. Based on the novel by Alicia Erican, Towelhead centers around Jasira (Summer Bishil), a 13-year-old Lebanese American girl. After a disturbing incident gets her kicked out of her mother's (Maria Bello) place, Jasira moves in with her father Rifait (Peter Macdissi), residing in suburban Texas. So you think it's going to be another dissection of the messed-up suburban American values, like American Beauty, but Towelhead goes in far more disturbing terrain, exploring the racial and sexual intensity of this shy, conflicted teenage girl. This is far and away the heaviest film I've seen so far this year, and often times the most powerful as well, one that's bound to have a wide array of opinions. I personally respect the film and have a generally positive opinion of it, but still almost walked out a couple times. It's the kind of the film that demands an open mind, and will likely lead to discussion.

Upon arrival in Texas, Jasira already strikes the derision of her difficult to please father, the ridicule of her classmates not accustom to her skin tone, and the fancy of neighbor Travis Vuoso (oily played by Aaron Eckhart, in a role that could really only be played by him.) What's amazing is that in a film that seems so ripe for melodrama and tonal shifts, from awkward humor to piercing tragedy, the film plays it pretty straight, making the drama even more powerful. Much of the credit should go to Bishil, who in an extremely demanding role, keeps her performance composed and subtle. She's expressive, but economical in it, slowly revealing a layer to her character, without any of the histrionics that a film like this could easily fall from.

I going to go into a huge description of Towelhead because much of the power, icky power of the film probably is far more affecting with the a clear head, but it's a very heady movie. Sometimes intolerably so. There's the sexual factor in the film that's not-quite-explicit, but trying to watch, the racial tensions, in this film, no one is innocent and the prejudices come out of everyone. It's fortunate that Ball's scathing prose is handed to very gifted actors. Eckhart, Macdissi and Bello play fairly repellent people, but shade their characters subtly that while not enough to quite redeem them, at the very least humanize them. Toni Collette's character on the other hand is really the moral center of a film lacking one, and while Collette role (as Jazira's kindly and forgiving neighbor) is well played, it seems almost a like a flaw to the story that she comes across so saintly.

So, in the end there's a sort of respect I have for Towelhead, along with the need to take a very long shower to cleanse. And while I handily agree that many people will hate this movie, it's a film that's difficult to champion and fully praise, which will no doubt do little to upswing the current lack of popular independent films in the marketplace. Towelhead is being distributed by the now-defunct specialty arm of Warner Bros., and probably won't be the farewell ending they desired. But for those audiences looking for a film that challenges and provokes you in a way no other currently out can, here's the alternative. B+

Changeling Trailer

The debut trailer of Clint Eastwood's latest-- looks very Oscary, and like a possible good role for Angelina Jolie. The tired music in the background distracts me however.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Venice Film Festival Winners

GOLDEN LION (Best Picture)
The Wrestler
Darren Aronofsky's latest film starring Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood won the top prize.

BEST DIRECTOR
Aleksei German, Paper Soldier

BEST ACTOR
Silvio Orlando, Il

BEST ACTRESS
Dominique Blanc, L'Autre

BEST YOUNG ACTOR (Marcello Mastroianni Award)
Jennifer Lawrence, The Burning Plain

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
Teza

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Milk Trailer

This looks fantastic. An important subject, an esteemed director in Gus Van Sant, a great cast, a remarkable, yet sad story in the human history. For those interested there's a terrific 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, which won the documentary Oscar in it's day.

Friday, August 29, 2008

My Only Sports Entry Ever!

It's been five days since the Closing Ceremonies in Beijing, and I'm starting my four year withdrawal period (I don't particularly care for the Winter Games.) I love the Olympics, love them to a point that clearly beyond obsessive. The idealism, the pageantry, the grace and the controversies of the Games entertain, emblazon, irritate, and in ravage me. Nothing reduces me to putty more so than hearing the national anthem of whatever country (even the four times they showed a non-US winner.) A sense of national pride and just plain decency plays in my head-- the fact that the Games this year are directly followed by the party conventions makes the transition from elation to bitterness much harsher. The great thing about the Olympics, or the at least the great ideal of the Olympics is that for two weeks every four years, the world chills out, puts bickering (justified or otherwise) on the back burner and comes together-- swims, twirls, runs, etc., all decided by skill and talent, not bullying. Of course these are just ideals, but the grand 29th Olympiad in Beijing came pretty close to a gold standard.

There was a random tragedy-- the day after Chinese bred Zhang Yimou's (director of and House of Flying Daggers and Hero) grand Opening Ceremony in the strangely modern yet beautifully and appropriately epic track and field venue called the Bird's Nest-- where the United States' men's volleyball coach's family was randomly and fatally attacked. That's unsettling, but the unexpected gold medal victory of men's volleyball team proved even more layered and poignant toward the end of the Games because of it-- I was seriously crying my eyes out. Yet besides that and the never ending debate of the real ages of the female Chinese gymnasts (I stand back from that one sense gymnastics is one of my favorite events that never ceases from being the most dramatic of sports-- the judging issues, age concerns, drama, drama, drama-- I love it), the focus of the Beijing Games were squarely where they should have been-- on the Games themselves.

And they were illuminating; the first week of competition in the igloo like Water Cube housed the swimming events as world records fell and Michael Phelps became to most dominant person athlete ever. I got irritated at the never-ending analysis and booty kissing of Phelps, but the accomplishment is still mind-blowing (8 gold medals in 8 days-- eight being the lucky number of the Beijing Games) and the composure and humility exhibited by Phelps made all the human interest stories bearable. However, other swimmers were grand as well, without the fanfare, including Athens mainstays Natalie Coughlan and Aaron Piersol preserving a place in history and Jason Lezaik's triumphant relay swims (that first one left me breathless), and 41-year-old Dara Torres silver medal glory in the 50 meter. The awe factor was huge. Swimming concludes in the first week of competition and about that point the sad fact that the Games, my current obsession were half over lingered til the end, and permeates today.

Also in the Water Cube was the diving competition (one of the favorite), and the Chinese dynasty (as NBC kept referring to) was fully in charge winning seven of the eight gold medals. The only upset was Matthew Mitcham of Australia winning the 10 meter platform in a stunning surprise. Mitcham came into Beijing with much ado since before the Games her come out of the closet, becoming the only opening gay man in these Olympics. NBC received quite a bit of flak for denying him the human interest story (their favorite time filler) on him, and generally ignoring what was an incredible feat-- that last dive of his amazing, where he scored upwards of 100 points, a diving rarity. While I believe more attention should have been paid to his accomplishment, I think the lack of coverage from NBC probably had more to do with him being Australian, not American, not his sexual orientation, but perhaps that's just from the hopeless optimism the Games give me.

The gymnastics this year was compelling for the right reasons mostly, besides a newly instated scoring system that at least to an untrained eye like myself seems unfair to the athletes and a shift from the grace the sport always support to tricks of fancy for a higher score. But pride overcomes all nastiness and tension and the US mens team wins bronze and womens team wins silver-- the Chinese regime won double gold, but after all the analysis of the their treatment of the their gymnasts, I just kind of feel sorry for them, whatever age they really are. The dominant players were Nastia Liukin (that grace, that uneven bars tie, but most importantly and deservedly the all around champion, yay!) and Shawn Johnson (the plucky smiling powerhouse and thrice silver medalist finally got her deserved gold on the balance beam, yay!) and Jonathan Horton (silver medalist on high bar and constant team spirit- yay!) Whatever becomes of the Chinese women, the United States were terrific. (Tears roll down my face-- it's all over.)

Those were favorite highlights, but there was so much to gush about at the Beijing Games-- just tried to soak it all up and I've finally absorbed it all. The minor disappointment of some of the track races (wow Jamaica!), though we rebounded nicely in the 400 meter races and relays, the decathlon champ in Bryan Clay (the first for the US since 1996), the power and dominance of Misty May and Kerri Walsh in beach volleyball (the first team to defend and win at two consecutive Olympics), the great team sports display- triumphing in basketball (men and women), soccer (women), volleyball (men and silver for women), water polo (silver for both-- in amazing upsets.) Wow!

And so now the Games are over, and I have my memories that will soon fade, but this was a spectacular show. All the conflict and worries on China's part (pollution, human rights issues, crazy strain on their athletes) were deflected by the dynamic spectacle they provided. And while I'm writing these five days after the end has likely already put this in the realm of irrelevance, these Games as all of them were special and historic, and I needed to express that in words in order to move on. And that concludes my likely first and last post in the field of sports. See you in London.
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