Saturday, February 21, 2009
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button- $123.2
Slumdog Millionaire- $92.0
The Reader- $21.0
All very ho hum-- that's what happens when boring movies get anointed "best" status-- nothing! I say this with the exception of Milk, a very fine film that unfortunately was never really able to break out of the art house-- why not-- damn you suburbs (it really is like Revolutionary Road in there, isn't it?)
And in certain piece of "fuck you" to the Academy, last week The Dark Knight broke a billion dollars in it's worldwide box office receipts, and now can claim the the fourth spot of highest grossing motion pictures in history.
DIRECTOR: Tom McCarthy, The Visitor
ACTOR: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
ACTRESS: Melissa Leo, Frozen River
SUPPORTING ACTOR: James Franco, Milk (yay!)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
SCREENPLAY: Vicky Cristina Barcelona- Woody Allen
FIRST SCREENPLAY: Milk- Dustin Lance Black
JOHN CASSAVETTES AWARD: In Search of a Midnight Kiss
FOREIGN FILM: The Class
DOCUMENTARY: Man on Wire
CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Wrestler- Marysi Alberti
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD (Ensemble): Synecdoche, New York
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Contemporary Film: Slumdog Millionaire
Period Film: The Duchess
Fantasy Film: The Dark Knight
So here's the deal-- Slumdog Millionaire has swept the critics awards, wons ever guild award-- when will this madness stop...that's all I'm asking! It's a good movie, but stop! Must it win everything...
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
AMERICAN CINEMA EDITORS (A biggie for Best Picture-- doesn't matter anymore)
Drama: Slumdog Millionaire
Musical or Comedy: WALL-E
Documentary: Man on Wire
ART DIRECTORS GUILD
Period Film: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button- Donald Graham Burt
Fantasy Film: The Dark Knight- Nathan Crowley
Contemporary Film: Slumdog Millionaire- Mark Digby
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CINEMATOGRAPHERS
Slumdog Millionaire- Anthony Dod Mantle
CINEMA AUDIO SOCIETY
Slumdog! Slumdog! Slumdog! Blah! Blah! Blah!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Doubt-- love posters that ditch big stars for striking design.
The Dark Knight-- simply perfect.
Milk-- conventional but noteworthy.
The Wrestler-- totally iconic-- Rourke's damaged body is buried in gold.
Monday, February 9, 2009
In alphabetical order:
17 Photos of Isabel (Don Roos)
Stars Lisa Kudrow and Natalie Portman
The latest from Roos (The Opposite of Sex, Happy Endings) details a relationship between a women and her stepson. As a big fan of Roos' past work he is known to give great roles to his leading ladies-- Kudrow is definitely his muse, and Happy Endings featured a superb role for Maggie Gyllenhaal-- so I'll check this one out for expected greatness from Kudrow and Portman, who seems a natural fit for Roos' funny\sad\biting creations.
opens June 2009
500 Days of Summer (Marc Webb)
Stars Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zooey Deschanel
A hit at this years Sundance Film Festival, this looks like it could be a strong little odd love story-like movie. Bring it on!
FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES, open July 24
Adventureland (Greg Mottola)
Stars Jessie Eisenberg (The Squid & the Whale), Martin Starr, Kristen Kiig, Bill Hader, and the Twilight chick.
I love the line in the trailer -- "We do the the work of pathetic, lazy morons," (it really hits home), but here comes a coming of age tale set in an amusement part circa 1987 from the guy who brought us Superbad. I was a bit disappointed with that one, but this looks promising, and I'm all for Eisenberg getting more work, and Wiig making more movies (she's my current favorite on "Saturday Night Live.")
MIRAMAX FILMS, opens March 27
All Good Things (Andrew Jarecki)
Stars Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Frank Langella and Kristen Wiig.
I know next to nothing about this-- it involves some sort of missing persons investigation-- but and greatly anticipating the feature debut of Jarecki who made the amazing documentary Capturing the Friedmans, one of the most captivating family stories ever to told...ever, just thinking about it again gives me the chills. But considering the cast, I'll be there.
THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY, opens July 24
Away We Go (Sam Mendes)
Stars John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Catherine O'Hara, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Allison Janney, and several more actors I love.
With Revolutionary Road (which should really have come with a complimentary prescription to Xanax) still fresh in the brain, I'm a bit leery to follow Mendes anywhere for a while, but this one's a comedy-- a road movie in fact, about an expectant couple (Krasinski and Rudolph) travelling the US to find a perfect place to raise there family. Seems like it might be a fresh break from Mendes' typical brand of doom. Plus there's the added benefit of several actors whom I'd travel anywhere with. I'm game!
FOCUS FEATURES, open June 5
Brothers (Jim Sheridan)
Stars Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Natalie Portman
This is a remake of the of Suzanne Bier's much acclaimed Danish film about a relationship between a soldier lost in Afghanistan, his brother and his wife. Looks like this one might be a Oscar bait style movie (Sheridan's been there before), but I'm curious for a chance for these three actors to possibly raise there games in a rich drama.
MGM, no release date yet
Funny People (Judd Apatow)
Stars Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, and Jason Schwartzman.
Apatow directing his third film, enough said, I'm there-- but this one seems to have a bit more heft to it, we shall see. It centers on a comedian discovering a inoperable health problem. Will it work? Curious about the Bana casting, I'm guessing he really digged that Munich reference in Knocked Up.
COLUMBIA PICTURES, opens July 31
Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince (Peter Yates)
Stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes and Michael Gambon.
As long as it's been to deny it, or shield it, I've become a Potter fan slowly, but fervently. And well director Peter Yates is returning after the sublime and dark Order of the Phoenix. I'll see it immediately.
WARNER BROS., opens July 17
I Love You, Man (John Hamburg)
Stars Paul Rudd and Jason Siegel.
The first film to really concentrate on "bromance." While this one might easily be the most disasterous of this list, I'm already sold on the chemistry between Rudd and Siegel.
DREAMWORKS PICTURES, opens March 20
I Love You Phillip Morris (Glenn Ficarra & John Requa)
Stars Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Rodrigo Santoro, and Leslie Mann.
A gay prision love story from the makers of Bad Santa...I'm there in a heartbeat. Reaction at Sundance (where the film premiered) was mixed, but just from reading about it, I totally see cult potential here. Nice to see Carrey go a little darker, after a couple of years of staleness. McGregor and Mann are welcome additions to any cast, so I'm pretty much sold.
No distributor and release date yet, but I'm hopeful this one will make it out this year.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Terry Gilliam)
Stars Heath Ledger, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, Johnny Depp and Christopher Plummer.
Really more of a curiosity piece than anything else, but I have to be there for the last celluloid imagery of Heath Ledger.
LIONS GATE FILMS, no release date yet
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
This one says it'll be out in August (according to IMDb), but I'm not convinced it be there then, what with Tarantino at the helm. But for obvious reasons, I'll be checking this one out...when Tarantino has anything new, I'm there. With a cast that's totally gonzo-- Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Samm Levine, Daniel Bruhl, Cloris Leachman, Mike Myers, and it goes on and on-- I already convinced this will be the most interesting and hotly discussing and disected movie of the year.
UNIVERSAL PICTURES/THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY, opens August 21
Public Enemies (Michael Mann)
Stars Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Channing Tatum, Marion Cotillard and Billy Crudup.
So the greatest crime drama director is tackling one of the greatest crime drama stories in history, John Dillinger, played by Depp. For the eye candy of the period, the ferocity Mann is renowned for, and a cast to salivate for, this one could be gold. The only problem I see is that this one seems like a fall movie, not a summer movie-- hopefully it won't get lost the brain freeze July typically offers.
UNIVERSAL PICTURES, opens July 1
Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese)
Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams and Patricia Clarkson.
Set in the 1950s this is a crime drama based on a novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River) with a stellar cast and Scorsese at the helm-- of course I want it. Hopefully his Departed mojo is still kicking.
PARAMOUNT PICTURES, opens October 9
Sunshine Cleaning (Christina Jeffs)
Stars Amy Adams, Emily Blunt and Alan Arkin.
Debuted at last year's Sundance Film Festival, this one looks very Little Miss Sunshine-inspired, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Sisters Adams and Blunt upstart a company cleaning up after dead people. Looks affable and cute, but hopefully a smaller scaled project will bring out the best in Adams (seriously in need of a Junebug reburst) and Blunt, sadly largely ignored since delighting in The Devil Wears Prada.
OVERTURE PICTURES, opens March 13
Taking Woodstock (Ang Lee)
Stars Demetri Martin, Emile Hirsch, Imelda Staunton, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Paul Dano.
While the subject of Woodstock has been movie fodder before, I will remain true to Ang Lee forever (even in wake of Lust, Caution) and the unexpected turns of one of the most gifted directors working today.
FOCUS FEATURES, opens August 14
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
Stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn.
Centering on a family in the 1950s, the plot is almost irrelevant as it's by Malick, the maker of only 4 previous films (Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line and The New World) is one of the best American auteurs ever. Such visual poetry, such incredible, indelible portraits of American life...I can't wait. I can't wait. I know next to nothing about this particular one, but I don't care...I need my Malick fix. NOW!
NO DISTRIBUTOR YET, release date pending... Malick takes his time.
Watchmen (Zach Synder)
Stars Billy Crudup, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Ackerman and Patrick Wilson.
Well, this is actually the strangest one on my list-- I'm not the comic book geek obsessed (SORRY!), and I wasn't drawn to the first trailer (properly placed in front of The Dark Knight), but the second trailer kind of the got to me a little bit. The opening orchestration instantly made me think of The Godfather for some reason, and perhaps in the wake of the greatest superhero movie ever (think!), I'm hopeful the wave continues with this intriguing one.
WARNER BROS., opens March 9
Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze)
Stars Catherine Keener and Max Records
One of my favorite childhood books comes to life in auteur Jonze's tricked out, allegedly troubled, live action-hybrid adaptation. I can't wait-- even if it's an outright disaster.
COLUMBIA PICTURES, opens October 16
Up (Peter Docter & Bob Petersen)
voices of the Edward Asner, Delroy Lindo, John Ratzenberger and Christopher Plummer.
This is Pixar's next film, where ever they go, I'm there, 'nuff said.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
PICTURE: Slumdog Millionaire
BRITISH FILM: Man on Wire
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
ACTOR: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler (link to his great speech here.)
ACTRESS: Kate Winslet, The Reader
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: In Bruges- Martin McDonagh
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Slumdog Millionaire- Simon Beaufoy
ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E
FOREIGN FILM: I've Loved You So Long
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Slumdog Millionaire- Anthony Dod Mantle
SCORE: Slumdog Millionaire- A.R. Rahman
FILM EDITING: Slumdog Millionaire- Chris Dickens
COSTUME DESIGN: The Duchess
PRODUCTION DESIGN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
SOUND: Slumdog Millionaire
MAKEUP & HAIR: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
VISUAL EFFECTS: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
CARL FOREMAN AWARD: Steve McQueen, Hunger
Milk- written by Dustin Lance Black
Slumdog Millionaire- written by Simon Beaufoy
Waltz With Bashir- written by Ari Foreman
Expected choices, but yay Milk- win the Oscar NOW!
Friday, February 6, 2009
The teaser of a nifty looking oddity that premiered to much applause at this years Sundance Film Festival. I like the old school narration of this teaser mixed with a very modern looking visual style. Hopefully this will be more Little Miss Sunshine than Garden State in the scale of Sundance transfers. Fox Searchlight is releasing it (that seems right on) and Levitt and Deschanel's presences are always welcome.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
FILM: The Wrestler
BRITISH FILM: Slumdog Millionaire
DIRECTOR: David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
BRITISH DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
ACTOR: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
ACTRESS: Kate Winslet, The Reader & Revolutionary Road
BRITISH ACTOR: Michael Fassbender, Hunger
BRITISH ACTRESS: Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long
BRITISH SUPPORTING ACTOR: Eddie Marsan, Happy-Go-Lucky
BRITISH SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Tilda Swinton, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
SCREENWRITER: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
FOREIGN FILM: Waltz With Bashir
BREAKTHROUGH BRITISH FILMMAKER: Steve McQueen, Hunger
Monday, February 2, 2009
I apologize in advance for pointed rants about this one. Here are the
most painful snubs for me to bear this year...it was a doozy.
The Fall for Art Direction and Costume Design
While the film itself wasn't the greatest (though Lee Pace nails his part of a morphine crazed Hollywood stuntman), the visual quality of the film was a real beaut. Director Tarsem created a crazy, dizzy world that was a phenomenal artistic achievement. Showy for sure, but why not go all out. The Academy unfortunately preferred the muted tones of Changeling and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button instead.
Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler for Direction
In a filmography that includes depressing anarchic snapshots of life like Pi and Requiem For a Dream, The Wrestler is certainly the most humanistic of his work-- also the most heartbreaking. In what could have been a generic tale of redemption in someone else's hands becomes a quietly revelatory and moving piece of art. Mickey Rourke's incredible comeback performance got a nomination (deservedly), but what of man who staged it. The Academy has yet to acknowledge Mr. Aronofsky personally, but then again they never paid attention to David Fincher (an equally unflinching, detailed director) until he sucumbed to typical Oscar catnip.
James Franco in Milk (or Pineapple Express)
What a year did Mr. Franco have- two wonderfully unexpected performances, and yet despite a Golden Globe comedy nod (for Pineapple) and Critics Choice nomination (for Milk), he mostly got the shaft. This is not unexpected necessarily, but still not right in my book. Not only did he expand his career with these marvelous turns, but surprised with his great sense of ease for
comedy. The warmth exhibited in these two movies makes me forget the last couple of years of forgettable movies. And yet nothing...boo, especially this year where best supporting actor was a mixed bag.
Jonathon Demme, Rachel Getting Married for Direction
In the 1980s before Mr. Demme has one an Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs, he was honing his craft on small comedy-dramas like Married to the Mob, Something Wild, Swing Shift and Melvin and Howard. On first observation they might have appeared smallish, but they were all memorable humanistic stories with a free floating structure and a fine sense or character-- as well as luminous showcases for actresses like Michelle Pfieffer, Melanie Griffith, and Mary Steenburgen. It's been a long time since Demme has made a film so intimate and felt before, and that's part of what makes Rachel Getting Married such a remarkable thing-- his returned with one of most joyous ventures yet, again with a fine showcases for one of the best ensembles of the year, but of course Ron Howard broke new ground too. (Didn't he?)
Vicky Christina Barcelona for Original Screenplay
C'mon Academy members! True Original Screenplay was pretty strong this year (a rarity), but this one is a lot better than In Bruges. You've never had a problem honoring Woody Allen in the past, but when the master comes up with something worthy, but deny him. Sure he probably wouldn't show up (Woody has notoriously rejected the Academy salivation in the past), but he's an American treasure, and this was one of strongest films in years.
Rosemarie DeWitt in Rachel Getting Married
As I am delighted Anne Hathaway got nominated for her terrific performance, I'm still confounded how DeWitt got so shamefully overlooked this entire season. Most of the thrill of Rachel Getting Married is the complex volley between DeWitt and Hathaway-- both actresses
coaxed such deeply felt everything from each other. There's anger and shouting (great for Oscar clips), but also warmth and silliness. And the great thing about is how authentic it all felt. It's great for Hathaway, but wheres the love for Rachel herself.
WALL-E for Picture
I knew it wasn't going to happen, but I wish to dream in a perfectly idealized world for a second, where a film as powerful and entertaining and popular as this one could for some dasterdly reason get a birth to top award. Beauty and the Beast is the only animated film to do so, and I believe it's time for another...one day! The unfortunate thing is that I know the love for this one will out last the Academy support of middling films like Frost/Nixon and The Reader, as evident by there hideous box office-- even being nominated hasn't made anybody want to see them. HA!
Bruce Springsteen's "The Wrestler," for Original Song
This one was just plain wrong. What's the deal with the Song category this year-- three nominations (two for Slumdog, one for WALL-E) and no love for The Boss. It's a crime-- this one is actually a great song by itself, but it's also a deeply felt song perfectly insynch with the beautiful film it's set against. Yes, Bruce has an Oscar already (for "Streets of Philadelphia" from Philadelphia, 1993), but that's never bothered them before-- during the early 90s the Disney teams won every year for a while. This is a plain travesty. The song was eligible, what no one listened? I thought the new song rules implemented in the last year were meant to eliminated multiple songs for one film, was supposed to make the field stronger, not weaker. What? Why? Boo! Shameful! Then again the Academy is again notorious for making bad decisions in the music categories (last years painful omisision of Jonny Greenwood's amazing score in There Will Be Blood brings to mind.)
The Dark Knight for Picture
And the most painful one, but of course. This one is just appalling on all levels. For a film of such widespread support everywhere else--those eight other nominations indicate it's broad Academy appeal, but to miss out on the big one to middlebrow nonsense that no one will bother to remember tomorrow is an outright travesty. It's not just that I personally found The Dark Knight to be a great movie (which I do), but the fact that this was a big (HUGE) film adored almost universally for the second it opened to record breaking box office. Forget about the comic book nerds-- critics loved it, the general public spent hard earned cash on it several times (even during these recession days), the film nerds loved it, the elitist film nerds loved it. And what's wrong with breaking the mold for this Godfather, Part II of superhero flicks. The real pain may come on Oscar night itself, when the ratings plummet to there worst on record. I'll be watching, because it's in my blood, but I won't blame the ones that tune out, for the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have clearly already tuned out to the very obvious pleas of movie fans everywhere.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
and the winners are:
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Ari Foreman, Waltz With Bashir
and it's official-- this boring Academy year is decided-- Slumdog Millionaire wins...everything. With this win, a prime indicator of the best picture race, Slumdog adds to it's GLOBE, PGA, SAG ENSEMBLE, CRITICS CHOICE, and plentiful critic's prizes. Very boring...blah. Slumdog also won the USC Scriptor award for best adapted screenplay.