Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New 4 minute behind the scenes look at "Watchmen" (2009)

Watchmen Exclusive

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - REVIEW


Director David Fincher has been moving on an interesting path lately. His first noteworthy films, like Se7en and Fight Club, were long "epic" tales, yet they had a certain focus on their characters so as to ellicit really memorable performances (particularly Ed Norton, Brad Pitt, and Helena Bonham Carter in Fight Club). Recently, this trend has changed, in favor of films that yield better overall products than performances (2007's woefully overlooked Zodiac, which succeeded due to its writing and directing, and not its performances, which were just "good"). The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is indeed quite curious, because it is much more of a story than an actors' piece, even though it appeared to be full of meaty roles. Benjamin Button is born in 1917, on the eve of the end of World War I, but is born with features/health issues in line with that of a dying man in his eighties. His father, horrified, abandons him on the stoop of an old folks home in New Orleans, where Benjamin comes under care of the home's head nurse, Queenie (Boston Legal season 4's Taraji P. Henson). As Benjamin begins to age backwards, he grows stronger, and eventually meets young Daisy Fuller (later played by Cate Blanchett). Surely such a story had all the potential to be overly sentimental, and Fincher and screenwriter Eric Roth (who also wrote Forrest Gump) had plenty of opportunities to shamelessly tug at our heart strings, but they choose not too. Several scenes where we learn of a death of a character go by without making a huge impact. Sometimes, it's in the moments you wouldn't expect (my eyes got watery when Benjamin, mentally 5 but outwardly 80 grabbed Queenie's hand late at night to ask what was wrong with him). What's really surprising about the film though, is the pacing more than the tone. Fincher's film's usually have an undercurrent of twisted cyncism or darkness, which isn't present here. The constant sense of tension and dread (ala Zodiac) is gone as well. For someone who's a big fan of Fincher's work, I was surprised by the lack of energy with which the first segment of the film moved; not brisk by any means, and occaisionally meandering. And while some of it does come back later to help bring the story full circle, I couldn't help but feel that the first hour or so could've been tightened just a bit. That said, when the movie hits its stride, it soars as entertainment, comedy, and dark drama, all of which is enhanced by Claudio Miranda's lovely cinematography and Alexandre Desplat's delicate score. Special mention should also go to the special effects and make up departments for aging the cast members so gracefully. Performances however, are an entirely different matter. No one is bad or a "weak link", but it's hard to really heap praise on anyone, despite the enormous talent of the cast. It's a shame that a project that has "Oscar" written all over it couldn't have boasted stronger performances from Pitt (who really is a very good actor) and Blanchett (one of the best of her generation). The other problem comes from the story's use of flashback. Instead of a straight narrative, we're told the story in segments as Daisy, on her deathbed as Hurricane Katrina heads toward New Orleans, is read Benjamin's journal by her daughter Caroline (Julia Ormond). At times it can be frustrating when the beautifully lit past suddenly jumps back to the present. That said, transforming F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story into a sprawling 3 hour movie was no easy task, and it's mostly a success. It's just not Fincher's magnum opus, like many of his fans hyped it up to be.

Grade: C+

Nominations: I'm no longer ranking these, as it spoils the fun when it comes time to announce my favorites of the year. That, and I'm having trouble deciding how much I like this movie. Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Make up

Number of 2008 films seen: 50

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A message to writers/journalists/bloggers everywhere...


I know I'm probably not the best person to go on a rant about grammar. I catch ludicrous mistakes on here all the time, and there are most likely errors in this very post. However, when I make mistakes like "they're house" instead of "their house", it's usually an accident that I fix as I soon as I find it. For many, unfortunately, this is not the case. So, not to sound like some insufferable English teacher, but I feel like I have to at least sound off on some of the grammatical errors that simply drive me over the edge. Now no one can say that I didn't try.

1) Their vs They're vs There
  • It's actually REALLY simple. Their is possesive, they're is a contraction meaning "they are", and there is a reference to location. Some examples to drive home the point....
  • I want to burn that copy of "Twilight" sitting on that table over there.
  • I can't believe they're reading "Twilight"; I thought their tastes were much more refined.
2) Good vs Well
  • Nothing irritates me more than to sit down in my high school's cafeteria (pardon, dining hall) than to hear one of my friends brag about how he, "felt like I did really good on the pop quiz."
  • For starters, the words differ in function. Good is an adjective, and well is generally an adverb. So...
  • I did really well on the in-class essay in AP English (which, if you have my teacher, is still grammatically correct, but none-the-less a lie).
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a really good movie (yes, yes it is).
  • However, well can be used as an adjective: I don't feel well today.
3) A history/historic/historically vs An history/historic/historically
  • Did I say that errors in good vs well bothered me? Those mistakes are nothing compared to the sudden RAGE I feel when I see an error here. Why? Because it isn't just an error made by average Joe's. I've seen errors in high quality publications. I was recently horrified by Anne Thompson's review of "Benjamin Button" in Variety, wherin Ms. Thompson declared the film, "an historic acheivment." 
  • NO. NO. NO. NO.
  • "But wait!" you say, "We say 'an hour' and that's correct, right?" 
  • Yes, it is correct to say "an hour", but that's because English pronunciation all but drops the "h". The "h" never changes the fact that "hour" is pronounced identically to "our", which begins with a vowel, therefore making "an hour" correct. Though the "h" in "history" may not be where the main stress of the word falls, it is still crucial to the word, and, being a consonant, very much requires a damn "a".
  • Still not convinced? Helium, a well respected website that focuses a lot on languages has this to offer:
  • Should the "h-" sound be pronounced with breath, or without? Is it simply a matter of opinion?

    The answer, coincidentally, is a historic one (not an historic one). Like many words in the English language, "history" is derived from French. The French language does not pronounce the "h-" sound at all it is, in essence, swallowed. For many of the words beginning with the letter "h" that English commandeers from French, the French pronunciation is respected: "honour" (Fr. "honneur"), "honest" (Fr. "honnete"), "heir" (Fr. "hair"), and "hour" (Fr. "heure") to name but a few. However, there are also many h-words taken from French in which English has changed the pronunciation of the "h": "hideous" (Fr. "hideux"), "horror" (Fr. "horreur"), "hotel" (Fr. "hotel"), and, of course, "history" (Fr. "histoire"). The words that retain the French pronunciation of "h" still begin with a vowel sound in English, and the article "an" should be used: an hour, an honest woman, etc. For those words that English modifies the pronunciation of, thereby breathing the "h-" and creating a consonant sound, the article "a" should be used: a horror movie, a hideous man, etc. It would sound ridiculous if we heard somebody say, "I have an history test tomorrow", because English changes the pronunciation to a breathed "h-" sound. Therefore, we can safely reason that the English adjective "historical" should be constructed from the English noun "history", breathed "h" and all, and thus take the article "a".

Two new photos from "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" (2009)


Apparently my cat thinks he's a dog....

Monday, December 29, 2008

Doubt - REVIEW


"Doubt" and "Frost/Nixon" both faced a big challenge this year. Both had to overcome their stage roots and reinvent themselves as competent movies, and had to structure themselves so that they did not feel limited like they were on stage. So the first question that would pop into many heads would be, "well which one does it better?" The answer?: hard to say. Frost/Nixon probably succeeds better in blending in more as a movie, but Doubt manages to be a better showcase for actors, despite its small scale (99% of the scenes take place somewhere on the campus of St. Nicholas Catholic School in the Bronx). While Frost/Nixon maintained its two key cast members (Sheen and Langella), Doubt threw out everyone (including Cherry Jones, who won a Tony for the role of Sister Aloysious) and replaced them with big names. Not having seen the stage play, I can't comment on who is better in each role, but I can say that the four principle actors are all very strong, and if the stage cast is better than them, they must have been truly phenomenal. Doubt is the type of movie that is buoyed by its writing and its actors, all of whom are in top form. Had it not been for them, the movie could have sunk into total mediocrity, due to the use of dialogue as the driving force of action. The story opens in the Bronx at (or at least around) the school, most likely just before the completion of the Vatican II Council (one excerpt of a Mass shows the priest facing away from the congregation and speaking in Latin, as opposed to English). At its core is a mostly unfounded charge of inappropriate relations between parish priest Fr. Flynn (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and the school's first black student. Bringing this charge is young nun Sister James (Amy Adams) and she takes said charge to her immediate superior, Sister Aloysious (Meryl Streep, shot so intimdatingly  as to make her appear to be hovering like a vulture in every scene). From there, the story consists of nothing but confrontation after confrontation, and each one adds another layer of fascinating ambiguity to the question of "did he or didn't he?" Perhaps what works best about the screenplay is that it never gives you the answer, and leaves it up to you (and there's plenty of evidence for both sides, along with plenty of red herrings). Adding to the mystery of it all is a little background knowledge. Any time the show is staged, the director informs the actor playing Fr. Flynn of whether or not he actually is guilty. No one else knows, not even the other cast members. Knowing this, it becomes even more interesting: what did director/writer John Patrick Shanley tell Mr. Hoffman? Hoffman, for one, had me worried initially, because I had a hard time picturing him as someone who would be able to pull of the ambiguity of the character, but he does, and does it damn well. Whether it's an expression on his, or someone else's face, he'll have you flipping between "aha! He did it!" and "aha! he's innocent!" the entire way through. Acting as a perfect sparring partner is Streep as Sister Aloysious, a woman who, despite her tough exterior, is never made out to be a one-note villain who sits in her lair and hisses. Everyone is given a well rounded portrait, sometimes directly, and other times through carefully written dialogue that answers questions, but also asks five more. Then there's Viola Davis as the Mrs. Miller (the child's mother), who only has one twelve minute scene, and uses it to prove how to make the most out of limited screen time. As her confrontation with Aloysious escalates, the scene becomes electrifying, mostly thanks to Davis' ability to hold her own against the formidable Streep. Amy Adams, though a talented actress, is probably the weakest link, though it's more of the script's fault than hers. Apparently Sister James had a small role in the play, and it was actually expanded for the screen, so there was never as much for Adams to work with, even though she does it very well. The script also succeeds in the quality of its dialogue, which can be nuanced, explosive, and even quite funny. Where the film missteps is more in its pacing. The set up leading to Sister James' charges feels slightly sluggish, even if it is necessary to set up the characters and environment. However, once the action starts going, the film increasingly picks up steam, and the wry humor of the first half gives way to increasingly explosive dialogue, which the actors never hold back. Rarely has full blown shouting been so layered. Is there another ensemble this year that can top this one for sheer dramatic force? I doubt it.

Grade: B+/A-

Nominations: Best Actress - Meryl Streep(#1 WINNER), Best Actor - Phillip Seymour Hoffman(#3), Best Supporting Actress - Viola Davis(#2), Best Adapted Screenplay(#1 WINNER)

Number of 2008 films seen: 49

Top 10 of the Year:
  1. Slumdog Millionaire
  2. The Dark Knight
  3. Australia
  4. WALL-E
  5. In Bruges
  6. Doubt
  7. Frost/Nixon
  8. Burn After Reading
  9. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  10. The Fall

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Valkyrie - REVIEW


Many historical events, World War II in particular, have leant themselves particularly well to Hollywood films, in spite of audience knowledge of the general outcome of events. This is the chief problem of Bryan Singer's "Valkyrie", which never manages to engage the viewer enough so that there's any genuine tension. Because we know that Hitler has to survive the assassination attempt made by Col. Stauffenburg (Tom Cruise), and because we're never drawn deeply enough into the mindsets of the characters, we're never once left wondering, "well...maybe Hitler won't make it after all!" That's not to say that "Valkyrie" is a bad film, but it's nothing special either. It drifts languidly in a state of constant averageness, never ridiculous, but never gripping, or compelling either. Opening in northern Africa, we're introduced to Col. Stauffenberg, only minutes before an attack by British planes that leaves him horribly wounded (and therefore makes the sight of Tom Cruise wearing an eye patch tolerable). Once he's safe back in Berlin, apparently his first thought is, "hey, I want to find out if any other army members want to take out the Fuhrer too!", and off we go. From there he makes allies with Col. Olbrect (Bill Nighy) and a host of other talented British actors, all speaking with British accents, while Cruise hisses on and on in a flat American manner. And then there's Hitler himself, Stauffenberg's wife (Carice Van Houten), and several head Nazi members, all of whom speak in semi-German accents. Obviously continuity wasn't the biggest concern on the set (although, in fairness, having to listen to Cruise attempt a German or British accent could have been horrible). Apparently, neither was expressiveness, seeing as characters rarely change facial expressions (and no, it isn't because they're being "subtle"). But the biggest folly of all, as I mentioned earlier, is that Singer and company never delve into the mindsets of the men who tried to kill Hitler. We never learn exactly why they feel this motivation to take him out, except for being repeatedly told, "this war isn't being run the way I wanted it to be run". In that case, you almost want to root for Hitler, because his would-be assassins sometimes sound like a bunch of jealous, insecure whiners, and no one wants to root for a whiner. Film's first half somewhat drags, even though it's necessary for the overall set up, but even so, needed some trimming. Production values are great, and special mention should be given to the sound team, for providing explosions crisp enough to shake you in your seat (this should be be a bad sign that I'm forced to go out of my way to compliment the sound editors/mixers). Overall, a noble effort that squanders a great cast and fascinating story by deciding to settle for little more than mediocrity.

Grade: C

Nominations: none

Number of 2008 films seen: 48

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Trouble for "Watchmen"/ Legal issues could delay release

Source: Entertainment Weekly & Hollywood Insider

You know how Santa Claus gives lumps of coal on Christmas Eve to those who’ve been very, very naughty? Well, so do judges. In a twist befitting the comic book in question, the judge presiding over the legal battle for distribution rights to Watchmen found in favor of Fox. The bottom line: Warner Bros. had absolutely no right to roll film on Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons superhero classic. As fans wait to see if the ruling will prevent the film from being released as scheduled on March 3, Fox and Warner Bros. are waiting to see if the court will determine how much Fox should get for being so wronged -- unless the studios decide to settle the matter themselves.

The ruling comes as a surprise to Hollywood observers, mostly because no one expected the judge would issue this ruling at all. The conventional wisdom was that Warner Bros. and Fox would settle privately, and the rightness and wrongness of the situation would never be officially called. Moreover, on Dec. 16, the judge set a Jan. 20 trial date for the dispute, saying he had no intention of fulfilling the request of both parties to issue a summary judgment. Why? Because, he said, the darn thing was just too complicated!

But on Christmas Eve, Judge Gary Allen Feess reversed course and issued a ruling that was clear and decisive. Why did he change his mind? Because Fox and Warner Bros. asked him to. In the wake of Feess’ Dec. 16 edict, both studios pressed him to reconsider and issue a summary judgment, saying that settling this thing between them was all but impossible because they needed his guidance on interpreting an old contract between Fox and Watchmen producer Larry Gordon. That paper appears to indicate the following: Fox has always had the right to distribute a Watchmen movie; anytime Gordon put together a new version of a Watchmen movie (which is to say, develop a new script or snag a new director for the film), he had to offer Fox the chance to produce and distribute it; if Fox passed on the project, Gordon had the right to purchase Fox’s interest in Watchmen and take the project elsewhere.

More details on the ruling and what it means after the jump...

In his ruling, Feess concludes that Gordon never properly presented Fox with the option to produce and distribute the version of Watchmen developed by director Zack Snyder. He also makes it clear that neither Gordon nor Warner Bros. had bought out Fox’s interest before Warner Bros. went into production. Indeed, Feess’ ruling includes a rather sarcastic footnote blasting Gordon for his conduct in resolving this dispute. In section 3, Feess remarks that during Gordon’s deposition, the producer claimed he couldn’t properly recollect his contract with Fox. Feess seems so dismissive of Gordon’s allegedly faulty memory, he makes the following side ruling: Should Gordon suddenly remember some salient bit of information that could now help Warner Bros.’ cause, he should go back to conveniently forgetting about it. “[T]he court will not, during the remainder of this case, receive any evidence from Gordon that attempts to contradict any aspect of this Court’s ruling on the copyright issues under discussion.”

Feess' plainspoken declaration that Fox has always been in the right on this matter should represent vindication for the studio. Since Fox filed its lawsuit earlier this year, Watchmen fans and entertainment bloggers (including myself) have questioned why Fox waited until Snyder wrapped production before laying claim to the movie. Our questioning, of course, rested on two assumptions: 1. There was no way Gordon and Warner Bros. could have been so dim as to shoot a movie they had no right to make; and 2. If Fox was so possessive of Watchmen, how come it didn't try harder to stop Warner Bros. from wasting millions and millions of dollars on a movie it had no right to make? But as EW subsequently reported, Fox’s lawyers did contact Warner Bros. prior to Watchmen's production with the goal of resolving the matter and allowing Warner Bros. to roll film with a clear conscience -- albeit one purchased, no doubt, at great expense.

Nonetheless, fanboy vitriol toward Fox for daring to meddle with a movie they have long wanted to see continues to this very day. Just check out aint-it-cool-news' report on Fox's victory; the site's message boards are currently chockablock with choice, colorful words aimed at Fox and its top exec, Tom Rothman, who has become an unpopular figure because of Fox’s spotty track record with genre material under his leadership. Yes, many of them have been huge hits (X-Men; X-Men 3; I, Robot; Fantastic Four), but many of them haven’t (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Daredevil, Elektra, The Day The Earth Stood Still), and with few exceptions (most notably, X-Men 2), none of them have made the hardcore sci-fi/comic book fans very happy due to the studio’s penchant for short running times, stingy budgets, and adaptation choices designed to make the material more mainstream-friendly. For them, Fox’s desire to lay claim to Watchmen gives them an excuse to vent. Some fans have even been calling for a boycott of Fox’s Wolverine next summer if the lawsuit should effectively delay Watchmen’s release indefinitely.

But does any of this really have anything to do with Watchmen? Absolutely not. With Feess’ decision, Fox’s lawsuit -- and its victory -- should be seen as an important move that really benefits all of Hollywood, as it affirms copyright laws that protect all studios. Fox deserves a break on Watchmen; according to Feess, their beef with Warner Bros. has always been legit.

How much will being right ultimately be worth to Fox? Perhaps a lot; perhaps nothing at all. Warner Bros. has been asking Feess to make one more crucial ruling in this case. The judge articulates the studio's request like this: “[T]o summarily adjudicate the issue of a contractual cap on the amount of compensatory damages to which Fox is entitled.” Now, I am no lawyer, but here’s how I might rephrase Warner Bros.’ position: “Let’s pretend for a moment that Fox is right in this matter. Judge, could you help us decide a fair price for Fox’s rights? Because we can't.” Perhaps all along, Warner Bros. has been gambling/banking that the judge will "adjudicate" a relatively affordable price for Fox's rights, or at least put a price tag on it that's much lower than the one Fox has been putting on it. As Feess has said that a longer version of his Christmas Eve ruling is forthcoming, perhaps the question of value will be determined at that time.

In the meantime, there are anxieties, questions, and theories: Will Warner Bros. appeal? If it does, Watchmen’s release could be held up by months. If Warner Bros. doesn’t appeal, what will Fox get in return? A cash payout per Gordon’s original contract? A cash payout plus penalties? A share of Watchmen’s total revenues? Might Warner Bros. settle the lawsuit by selling or ceding the film to Fox? If Fox got control of Watchmen, would they release Snyder’s film in its current 2 hour 30 minute form, or would they order him to (gulp) trim it or (double gulp) make changes?

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Spirit - REVIEW


Seeing as it's almost midnight, I'll forgo any sort of broad statement before moving on to the specifics. Let's just get this over with, because the more I have to think about this piece of crap, the more frustrated I'm going to become. "The Spirit" is Frank Miller's (writer of graphic novels like Sin City and 300) directorial debut, and it shows, painfully so. Neither Miller nor his editing team seem to have any sense of how to pace of film, giving this adaptation of Will Eisner's comic series a shapeless, almost incoherent plot. Story threads and characters seem more like rejected ideas, as opposed to fleshed out, rounded ideas (ie: well, this character would be kind of cool, and here's a few interesting traits...and...oops, that won't work - these are the sorts of things that make up the ENTIRE DAMN MOVIE). Wasting a good (if not great) cast is perhaps Miller's greatest crime; there are brief, split-second moments where we can see a character's (and therefore, actor's) potential, but then it fades, and the actors suddenly seem bored, as though they just showed up for the damn paycheck. Gabriel Macht as the Spirit seems like he could have pulled off the mix of noir-ish detective/comedic womanizer that the Spirit is, but he's undermined by the inept script, which forces him to spend a lot of time boring us to death with a completely uninteresting (and repetitive) inner monologue. Eva Mendes seems to be trying as hard as she can to be the sexy-bad-but-sort-of-good-girl, but again, the script sabotages a role that should have been a cakewalk for her. Scarlett Johannson shows some of those split second glimpses of "getting it right" as the dry, sarcastic assistant to the villain, but mostly she just sounds bored out of her mind. And of course, there's the Octopus, played by good 'ole Samuel L. Motherf**kin' Jackson. Whether it's Jackson's own bizarre acting style or the damn script again, this has to be one of the most mystifying, over the top, bat-sh*t-insane performances of this, or any decade. Though occaisionally it works for some of the off-beat (intentional) comedy (a scene where the Octopus stares at a creepy creation of his own), it often seems way out of place, as though Jackson is pushing beyond noir-tongue-in-cheek, and going all the way into self-parody territory. Take this "priceless" exchange for example:

Octopus: *sneaks up behind the Spirit during a fight*

The Spirit: *looks around*

Octopus: *emerges from behind holding...a toilet. Yes. A toilet.*

The Spirit: ar-

*WHAM!!*

The Spirit: *in pain*  oooooooohhooo....

Octopus: What's the matter Spirit? TOILETS ARE ALWAYS FUNNY!!!!

No, I'm not making this up. And this is only within the first 15 minutes of the movie, which plods along almost aimlessly for 1 hour and 45 minutes. However, it's not a total bust. Bill Pope's cinematography works well to capture the cartoonishness of the whole story, while also providing lush lighting, and David Newman's score is, well...effective, though not necessarily groundbreaking. The last little nugget of gold (well...bronze anyway) in this garbage heap is the underused role of a rookie woman cop, who proves to be quite the quick learner. Several quips and little moments (including one where, after barely a week on the force, she whips out a massive laser gun that she built herself) involving this character come closest to capturing the tone that Miller and crew were probably aiming for. It's a shame that they missed their target by such a wide margin...

Grade: D+

Nominations: none

Number of 2008 films seen: 47

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cincinnati Critics Awards

Best Film: The Wrestler
Best Direction: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Lead Actor: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Best Lead Actress: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Best Supporting Actress: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
Best Animated Film: Wall-E
Best Documentary Feature: Man on Wire
Best Foreign-Language Film: Let the Right One In
Best Screenplay: Milk

Who got a boost?:

  • The Wrestler for Best Picture. Despite rave reviews, it's been a virtual no-show in terms of top honors until now.
  • Danny Boyle for Best Director. This is the third (maybe fourth) time that Slumdog Millionaire failed to win Picture yet Boyle still won director. Impressive.
  • Mickey Rourke for Best Actor.
  • Milk for Best (original) Screenplay.
  • Marisa Tomei for Supporting Actress. She came in late in the game, and ever since has been picking up trophy after trophy.

Who got snubbed?:

  • Revolutionary Road.
  • Doubt.
  • The Dark Knight for Best Picutre/director.

Who's becoming a lock?:

  • Danny Boyle for Director.
  • Ledger for Supporting Actor (though this is nothing new).
  • WALL-E for Animated Film.
  • Let the Right One In for Foreign Language Film (although I thought the same thing about Pan's Labyrinth...and we all know how that turned out...).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

AP Entertainer of the Year: Tina Fey.


They really couldn't have picked anyone more deserving for this year.

Source: YahooNews

NEW YORK - Tina Fey is the entertainer of the year? You betcha.

Fey was voted The Associated Press' Entertainer of the Year, an annual honor chosen by newspaper editors and broadcast producers across the country. Fey was selected by AP members as the performer who had the greatest impact on culture and entertainment in 2008.

The 38-year-old comedian bested runner-up Robert Downey Jr ., whose comeback was capped with the blockbuster smash "Iron Man," and the third-place vote-getter, Heath Ledger , who posthumously wowed audiences as the Joker in " The Dark Knight ."

But it was Fey who most impressed voters largely with her indelible impression of Gov. Sarah Palin on " Saturday Night Live ." Her cameos on her old show (where she had been a head writer until 2006) helped drive the show to record ratings and eventually drew an appearance from Palin herself.

"Tina Fey is such an obvious choice," said Sharon Eberson, entertainment editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "She gave us funny when we really needed it and, in a year when women in politics were making huge strides, Fey stood out in the world of entertainment."

Fey's 2008 was a full year, though.

She also starred for the first time on the big screen in " Baby Mama " (which grossed $60 million at the box office) and won three Emmys for her critically lauded NBC sitcom " 30 Rock ," which she created, stars in and writes. In the comedy series category, she won for best lead actress and best writing, and shared in the award for best comedy series.

"She simultaneously entertained us with her wit and put a mirror up to the nation during the election and made us think about what was going on," said Scott Shive, assistant features editor at the Lexington Herald-Leader. "She is the epitome of the smart kid coming out on top for once."

As soon as Palin was chosen as Sen. John McCain 's running mate , conjecture mounted that the similar-looking Fey would have to return to "SNL" to play her.

In an interview earlier this fall, Fey recalled watching early TV coverage of Palin: "That was the first time I thought, `Well, I kinda do look like her. I'd better really listen to how this lady talks.'"

Fey debuted the impression on the "SNL" season premiere and a sensation quickly followed. She made four more pre-election appearances as Palin on the late-night satire.

"From the winks to the nods to the accent, she nailed it," said Marc Bona, assistant entertainment editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland. "And she did so at a time when it seemed the whole country was tuned in — both to the presidential race as well as ' Saturday Night Live .'"

Her Palin impression has benefited "30 Rock," too. The show premiered its fourth season to 8.5 million viewers, a million more than last year's opener.

Recently, she was also nominated for a Golden Globe (for best performance by an actress in a TV series, comedy or musical), as well as a Screen Actors Guild award .

"The ` SNL ' stuff has certainly changed things for me," Fey said in October. "A lot more people seem to know who I am."

Last year's AP Entertainer of the Year also went to a comedian whose satire blended in with politics: Stephen Colbert .

Oklahoma Film Critics Awards

Top Ten Films (listed alphabetically): 

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


Best Film of 2008: Slumdog Millionaire 

Best Director(s): Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire 

Best First Feature: Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York 

Best Actress: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky 

Best Actor: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler 

Best Supporting Actress: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler 

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight 

Best Documentary: Man on Wire, dir. James Marsh 

Best Foreign Film: Let the Right One In, dir. Tomas Alfredson 

Best Animated Film: WALL-E 

Obviously Worst Film: The Love Guru 

Not-So-Obviously Worst Film: Mamma Mia! 

Best Screenplay(Original): TIE - Robert D. Siegel, The Wrestler & Dustin Lance Black, Milk 

Best Screenplay(Adaptation): Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire (Vikas Swarup, novelist)

Who got a boost?:
  • Sally Hawkins for Best Actress. The Screen Actors Guild snub hurt her chances, but she's still a major contender in the Oscar race.
  • Mickey Rourke for Best Actor. Closing in on Sean Penn in terms of the number of critics awards. The Golden Globes and the SAGs will determine who's truly in the lead.
  • Let the Right One In for Foreign Language Film.
  • Marisa Tomei for Best Supporting Actress.
Who got snubbed?:
  • Revolutionary Road in all categories.
  • Waltz With Bashir.
  • The Cast of Doubt.
Who is becoming a lock?:
  • Slumdog Millionaire for Picture and Director.
  • Heath Ledger for Supporting Actor.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Apparently....

blog readability test

Movie Reviews

For Your Consideration ad for Kirk Lazarus



Priceless.

Trailer for "New York, I Love You"




Whether or not New York will offer the same amount of charm as Paris did in "Paris Je'taime" remains to be seen, but this could be another low key charmer. Hopefully there are only a few more cities to "Love", because this could become the independent version of a Hollywood franchise (next thing you know it's: El Paso, I Love You!)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Frost/Nixon - REVIEW


Stage-to-screen adaptations are tricky projects to pull of successfully, and Frost/Nixon was surely no exception to the rule. While plays should often reap the countless benefits of Hollywood magic (the power of the close-up, full sets, etc...), they still have to be able to over come their own, well, "staginess". Long monologues that work well on Broadway don't always cut it on the big screen, and the relatively small scale of dialogue driven pieces such as Frost/Nixon can be off-putting when they're in a medium that is often used for stories that are BIG (ie: this year's "Australia"). In spite of these challenges, Ron Howard's adaptation of Peter Morgan's Tony-winning play is mostly a success that is lucky to be bolstered by two excellent performances at its center. Taking on the real-life David-Frost-Richard-Nixon interviews after Nixon's resignation was a big challenge, and the film pulls it off all while maintaining a sense of class, and never becoming a showcase for cheap shots at Nixon and the Watergate scandal. In fact, in the context of the film, there are rarely opportunities to actually hate Nixon, and there are brief moments where you might feel, just for a fleeting moment, the tiniest bit of sympathy for him, thanks to Frank Langella's portrayal, and Peter Morgan's (relatively) unbiased screenplay (adapted from his own play). It actually helps, rather than hinders, the film in that Langella's resemblance to Nixon is minimal at best. He doesn't have to rely on makeup to make his performance work, but instead in his facial expressions, attitude, and voice. However, with all of the praise directed at Langella, it's been easy for the press to completely pass over his equally impressive co-star, Michael Sheen, who plays David Frost. Though given the less flashy role, Mr. Sheen (who was previously seen as Tony Blair in "The Queen") handles the role with subtlety, but it still given chances to shine (ie: a brief speech where he encourages his team to not give up after a day of interviewing where Nixon dominated him). The part where Frost/Nixon suffers then, is not in its directing, certainly not its acting, but instead in its inability to completely overcome its stage origins. There are moments that, though well acted, feel as though they should have ended five minutes earlier, such as in a riveting scene where Nixon directly calls Frost for a late night chat. It allows Langella to really turn up the power in his performance, but there were several moments when I was tempted to say, "and...CUT to the next scene". These sorts of monologues, though infrequent, can be somewhat awkward, despite the talented people reciting them. The film also misses the mark in its set up. The whole reason for the movie is to dramatically re-enact the interviews, and once we get there, it's electrifying. The problem however, is that the set up takes too long, and, while never boring, sometimes feels shallow. We are never given truly deep insight into the research/preparation for the interviews, and as a result, a lot of it feels like it should have been edited tighter, or left out all together. That said, this is still a well directed effort, and I ought to give mention to the cinematography, which at times is purposely grainy so as to almost blend in with the archival footage shown at the beginning of the film. Howard's direction is devoid of pretense or flash, and simply sits back and let the actors play their parts, which is a good thing, because they all, especially the two leads, do it so damn well.

Grade: B+

Nominations: Best Actor - Frank Langella(#1 WINNER), Best Actor - Michael Sheen(#2), Best Adapted Screenplay(#3)

Number of 2008 Films Seen: 46

Final poster for "Doubt"

Much better than the boring original. The facial expressions on the three leads are fantastic.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

EDIT: NEW PICTURE First look at Helen McCrory as Narcissa Malfoy in "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" (2009)



I still think someone more "glamourous" like Naomi Watts or Nicole Kidman (who, along with Jason Isaacs as Mr. Malfoy, would make the ultimate Ice King and Queen) would have been better, but she looks good enough. I love Helena Bonham Carter's ever-deranged expression more than anything though.

P.S. Whenever I think of Narcissa Malfoy, the first image that pops into my head is this....

Friday, December 19, 2008

Utah Film Critics Awards (do these things ever stop!?)

Best Picture
The Dark Knight
(runner-up: Rachel Getting Married)

Best Achievement in Directing
Andrew Stanton, WALL-E
(runner-up: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight)

Best Lead Performance by an Actor
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
(runners-up: Richard Jenkins, The Visitor; Sean Penn, Milk)

Best Lead Performance by an Actress
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
(runner-up: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married)

Best Supporting Performance by an Actor
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
(no runner-up)

Best Supporting Performance by an Actress
Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married
(runners-up: Frances McDormand, Burn After Reading; Misty Upham, Frozen River; Evan Rachel Wood, The Wrestler)

Best Screenplay
Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married
(runner-up: Robert Siegel, The Wrestler)

Best Documentary Feature
Man on Wire
(runners-up: Encounters at the End of the World; Waltz with Bashir)

Best Non-English Language Feature
Let the Right One In
(runner-up: Waltz with Bashir)

Best Animated Feature
WALL-E
(runner-up: Kung Fu Panda)

Who got a boost?:
  • The Dark Knight for Best Picture.
  • Rosemarie DeWitt for Best Supporting Actress.
  • Melissa Leo for Best Actress.
  • Rachel Getting Married for Best Original Screenplay.
  • Mickey Rourke for Best Actor.
Who got snubbed?:
  • The cast of Revolutionary Road. DiCaprio has yet to collect a single award, and is in danger off falling out of the race completely.
  • Waltz With Bashir for Best Documentary or Foreign Language Film (though I think I read somewhere that it isn't eligible for the Documentary Oscar.....)

Detroit Film Critics Winners

Best Film: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE 
Also nominated: THE DARK KNIGHT, FROST/NIXON, WALL-E, THE WRESTLER 

Best Director: Danny Boyle, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE 
Also nominated: 
Darren Aronofsky, THE WRESTLER 
Ron Howard, FROST/NIXON 
Christopher Nolan, THE DARK KNIGHT 
Andrew Stanton, WALL-E 

Best Actor: Mickey Rourke, THE WRESTLER 
Also nominated: 
Josh Brolin, W 
Leonardo DiCaprio, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD 
Frank Langella, FROST/NIXON 
Sean Penn, MILK 

Best Actress: Kate Winslet, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD 
Also nominated: 
Anne Hathaway, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED 
Sally Hawkins, HAPPY-GO-LUCKY 
Melissa Leo, FROZEN RIVER 
Meryl Streep, DOUBT 

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, THE DARK KNIGHT 
Also nominated: 
Robert Downey Jr., TROPIC THUNDER 
James Franco, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS 
Eddie Marsan, HAPPY-GO-LUCKY 
Michael Shannon, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD 

Best Supporting Actress: Marisa Tomei, THE WRESTLER 
Also nominated: 
Amy Adams, DOUBT 
Elizabeth Banks, W 
Penelope Cruz, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA 
Rosemarie DeWitt, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED 

Best Ensemble: FROST/NIXON 
Also nominated: 
BURN AFTER READING 
RACHEL GETTING MARRIED 
REVOLUTIONARY ROAD 
TROPIC THUNDER 

Best Newcomer: Martin McDonagh, writer/director, IN BRUGES 
Also nominated: 
Rosemarie DeWitt, actress, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED 
Rebecca Hall, actress, FROST/NIXON and VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA 
Danny McBride, actor, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS 
Dev Patel, actor, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE 
Catinca Untaru, actress, THE FALL 

Who got a boost?:
  • Kate Winslet for Best Actress.
  • Marisa Tomei for Best Supporting Actress.
  • Mickey Rourke for Best Actor.
Who got snubbed?:
  • Angelina Jolie for Best Actress.
Who's close to becoming a Lock?:
  • Slumdog Millionaire for Best Picture.
  • Heath Ledger for Best Supporting Actor.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire - REVIEW


NOTE: I'll try and add more to this review tomorrow. I'm still trying to process my thoughts on it so I can express myself better.

Slumdog Millionaire will do many things for audiences on an emotional level. It will captivate them, thrill them, make them sad, make them laugh a bit, and most interestingly, make them care about "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" again (although I don't expect the American version to suddenly experience a ratings spike). In his latest directorial outing, genre-master Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, Sunshine) moves beyond gritty horror stories and epic science fiction yarns, and turns to one of the world's most chaotic countries in the world: India. Jamal Malik is a contestant on the Indian version of "Millionaire", and as the opening text informs us: "He is one question away from 20 million rupees. How did he do it? (A) He cheated, (B) He's a genius, (C), He's a liar, (D) it is written...". Once this is established, we're thrust into the sprawling flashback/flashforward narrative that covers just about all of Jamal's life leading up to his current situation. What could have been a tedious back-and-forth story is instead a marvelous, exhilarating, electric journey that showcases India and its people in their worst and best lights. Cinematography and editing are spectacular, and A.R. Rahman's score pulses with life, while the mostly young cast create characters that we care about. To spoil too much of this enchanting fantasy would be criminal, so instead let me offer this piece of advice: stop what you're doing, and go see this wonderful gem of a film.

Grade: A/A+

Nominations: Best Picture(#1 WINNER), Best Director - Danny Boyle(#1 WINNER), Best Supporting Actor - Dev Patel(# ??), Best Adapted Screenplay(#1 WINNER), Best Cinematography(#1 WINNER), Best Art Direction(#2), Best Original Score - A.R. Rahman(#1 WINNER).

Number of 2008 films seen: 45

Las Vegas Film Critics Awards

Picture: 
“Frost/Nixon 

Actor: 
Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon” 

Actress: 
Kate Winslet, “Revolutionary Road,” “The Reader” 

Supporting Actor: 
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight” 

Supporting Actress: 
Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler” 

Director: 
Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon” 

Screenplay (Original or Adapted) : 
Peter Morgan, “Frost/Nixon” 

Cinematography: 
Claudio Miranda, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” 

Film Editing: 
Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill, “Frost/Nixon” 

Score: 
James Newton Howard, “Defiance” 

Song: 
“Another Way to Die,” “Quantum of Solace” 

Family Film: 
“The Spiderwick Chronicles” 

Documentary: 
“Man on Wire” 

Animated Film: 
“Wall-E” 

Foreign Film: 
“Mongol” (Russia) 

Costume Design: 
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” 

Art Direction: 
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” 

Visual Effects: 
“Iron Man” 

Youth in Film: 
David Kross, “The Reader” 

Who got a boost?:
  • Frost/Nixon. It seems to be getting better reception than this year's other high profile stage-to-screen adaptation (Doubt), but it had yet to pick up any significant wins until now.
  • Iron Man for visual effects.
  • Benjamin Button in the artistic categories.
  • Frank Langella for Best Actor.
  • Kate Winslet for Best Actress.
Who got snubbed?:
  • Slumdog Millionaire, though I doubt that this is a significant blow to its Best Picture chances.
  • Penelope Cruz for Supporting Actress. So long to the front-runner status. The race is now wide open.
  • Australia in the artistic categories.
  • Leonardo Di Caprio for Best Actor.
  • Sally Hawkins for Best Actress.

Tim Robbins joins "Iron Man 2"


Source: Latino Review/ComicBookMovie.com

The role of Howard Stark, founder of Stark 
Industries and Father of Tony (a.k.a. Iron Man), may have been given to actor/activist Tim Robbins, best known for his putrescent escape through a poop pipe in Stephen King's Shawshank Redemption

This brings up the question of why Jon Favreau dumped Gerard Sanders, who previously appeared in the part. CBM believes that it is because father Stark will be involved in an important storyline which will introduce the super soldier Captain America, and set-up two other Marvel movies, namely The Avengers and The First Avenger: Captain America

Also, some previous rumors of other Avengers have been confirmed by Latino Review's source. Hawkeye and Black Widow are mentioned as definitely having parts in Iron Man II.

Florida Critics Awards

Picture: Slumdog Millionaire 
Actor: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler 
Actress: Melissa Leo, Frozen River 
Supp. Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight 
Supp. Actress: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler 
Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire 
Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire 
Cinematography: Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight 
Foreign Language: Let The Right One In 
Animated Feature: Wall*E 
Documentary: Man On Wire 
Breakout: Martin McDonagh, writer/director of “In Bruges” 
Golden Orange: Dick Morris/Sarasota Film Society

Who got a boost?:
  • Melissa Leo for Best Actress. Being a runner up or nominee was fine and all, but actually winning something is a whole different story.
  • Slumdog Millionaire for Picture, director, and adapted screenplay.
  • Let the Right One In for Foreign Language Film
  • Mickey Rourke for Best Actor.
  • Marisa Tomei for Best Supporting Actress.
Who got snubbed?:
  • eh. No one in particular.

Baz Luhrmann has found his next project: The Great Gatsby






Source: Deadline Hollywood

He just paid tribute to his home country in the epic Australia, but director Baz Luhrmann is landing next on Long Island. Yes, it's true: I can report that Baz Luhrmann's next project is definitely The Great Gatsby for 20th Century Fox. The Aussie filmmaker recently purchased rights to the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic and my favorite book, which is set primarily on the lush North Shore (aka the Gold Coast) where I grew up in East Egg. Thankfully, Baz should wipe away memories of that 1974 abomination directed by Harold Ross with Robert Redford and the horribly miscast Mia Farrow. My insiders confirm that Luhrmann is actively searching for a young actress to portray his Daisy, Jay Gatsby’s unrequited love.

Trailer for "The Red Baron" (2009)

Screen Actor's Guild Nominees


MOTION PICTURE
Actor
Richard Jenkins - The Visitor
Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn - Milk
Brad Pitt - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler

Actress
Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie - Changeling
Melissa Leo - Frozen River
Meryl Streep - Doubt
Kate Winslet - Revolutionary Road

Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin - Milk
Robert Downey, Jr. - Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
Dev Patel - Slumdog Millionaire

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

Ensemble Cast
Doubt
Frost/Nixon
Milk
Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Stunt Ensemble
The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Iron Man
Wanted

PRIMETIME TELEVISION
Actor in a television movie or miniseries
Ralph Fiennes - Bernard and Doris
Paul Giamatti - John Adams
Kevin Spacey - Recount
Kiefer Sutherland - 24: Redemption
Tom Wilkinson - John Adams

Actress in a television movie or miniseries
Laura Dern - Recount
Laura Linney - John Adams
Shirley Maclaine - Coco Chanel
Phylicia Rashad - A Raisin in the Sun
Susan Sarandon - Bernard And Doris

Actor in a drama series
Michael C. Hall - Dexter
Jon Hamm - Mad Men
Hugh Laurie - House
William Shatner - Boston Legal
James Spader - Boston Legal

Actress in a drama series
Sally Field - Brothers & Sisters
Mariska Hargitay - Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Holly Hunter - Saving Grace
Elisabeth Moss - Mad Men
Kyra Sedgwick - The Closer

Actor in a comedy series
Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock
Steve Carell - The Office
David Duchovny - Californication
Jeremy Piven - Entourage
Tony Shalhoub - Monk

Actress in a comedy series
Christina Applegate - Samantha Who?
America Ferrera - Ugly Betty
Tina Fey - 30 Rock
Mary-Louise Parker - Weeds
Tracey Ullman - Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union

Ensemble in a drama Series
Boston Legal
Dexter
House
Mad Men
The Closer

Ensemble in a comedy series
30 Rock
Desperate Housewives
Entourage
The Office
Weeds

Stunt ensemble
Friday Night Lights
Heroes
Prison Break
The Unit
The Closer

Life achievement award
James Earl Jones


Who got a boost?:

  • Kate Winslet in Actress and Supporting Actress.
  • Brad Pitt for Best Actor.
  • Richard Jenkins for Best Actor. Damn, I was hoping his performance would have been forgotten by now.
  • Angelina Jolie. The fact that she got in over Sally Hawkins is disgusting.
  • Taraji P. Henson for Best Supporting Actress.
  • Dev Patel for Best Supporting Actor.
  • Melissa Leo for Best Actress.
Who got snubbed?:
  • Marisa Tomei for Best Supporting Actress.
  • Ralph Fiennes for Supporting Actor.
  • Colin Farrell for Best Actor.
  • In Bruges for anything....
  • Cate Blanchett for Best Actress.
  • Kristin Scott Thomas for Best Actress.

Chicago Film Critics Award WINNERS

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

Who got a boost?:
  • Kate Winslet for Best Supporting Actress. After erroneously being named the winner in the Lead Actress category in several cities (for a role that is clearly supporting), she finally earns a category appropriate award.
  • WALL-E for Best Picture.
  • Danny Boyle for Best Director. This is the 2nd or 3rd time that he's won the award and his film hasn't won Best Picture. That's pretty damn impressive.
  • WALL-E for Best Original Screenplay
  • WALL-E for Original Score
  • Mickey Rourke for Best Actor. Finally, a Best Actor win that isn't a tie with Sean Penn.
Who got snubbed?:
  • Revolutionary Road. It's getting strong reviews, but maybe it's the type of film that is deserving of lots of nominations, but not necessarily WINS.
  • Doubt in the acting department.
  • Penelope Cruz. It seems like her precursor awards have just dried up. Oh well, at this point she's still in the lead for Supporting Actress.
  • The Dark Knight for Best Picture. The fact that it didn't pull off any major wins from the city where it was filmed seems...odd.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Houston Film Critics Awards

BEST PICTURE: THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
BEST DIRECTOR: DANNY BOYLE, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: SEAN PENN, MILK
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: ANNE HATHAWAY, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: HEATH LEDGER, THE DARK KNIGHT
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: VIOLA DAVIS, DOUBT
BEST ENSEMBLE CAST: DOUBT
BEST SCREENPLAY: SIMON BEAUFOY, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
BEST ANIMATED FILM: WALL-E
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: CLAUDIO MIRANDA, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: MAN ON WIRE
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: MONGOL
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA BY TERENCE BLANCHARD
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: DOWN TO EARTH FROM WALL-E
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMA: ANDREA GROVER AND THE AURORA PICTURE SHOW
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM PROGRAMMING: MARIAN LUNTZ AND THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS HOUSTON’S FILM DEPARTMENT


Who got a boost?:
  • Viola Davis for Best Supporting Actress. This is becoming a close race between Davis, Cruz, and Tomei.
  • Anne Hathaway for Best Actress. Now clearly in second place in terms of critics awards (behind Hawkins).
  • Benjamin Button for Best Picture.
  • Danny Boyle for Best Director. Even when Slumdog lost out on Picture, he still won the directing award, which shows that people obviously think his direction is pretty special, and not just a "well it's the best film of the year, so that means we also award the director, right?" award.
  • Sean Penn. Light years ahead of all of his competition, even Rourke.
Who got snubbed?:
  • Revolutionary Road.
  • The Reader.

Dallas-Fort Worth Critics Awards

Top Ten Films of 2008

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
MILK
THE DARK KNIGHT
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
THE WRESTLER
THE VISITOR
FROST/NIXON
DOUBT
WALL-E
HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Best Film: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

Best Director: Danny Boyle, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

Best Actor: Sean Penn, MILK

Best Actress: Anne Hathaway, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED.

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, THE DARK KNIGHT.

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, DOUBT.

Best Foreign Language Film: TELL NO ONE

Best Documentary: MAN ON WIRE

Best Animated Film: WALL-E

Best Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, MILK

Best Cinematography: Wally Pfister,THE DARK KNIGHT

WENDY AND LUCY won the Russell Smith Award, named for the late Dallas Morning News film critic. The honor is given annually to the best low-budget or cutting-edge independent film.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wonderfully offbeat/eerie poster for "Coraline" (2009) Click for a larger version

Austin Film Critics Awards

Top 10 Films: 

1) "The Dark Knight 
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" 

Picture: 
"The Dark Knight" 

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: 
Charlie Kaufman, "Synecdoche, New York 

Adapted Screenplay: 
"The Dark Knight," Jonthan Nolan & Christopher Nolan 

Cinematography: 
"The Fall," Colin Watkinson 

Original Score: 
"The Dark Knight," James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer 

Foreign Language Film: 
"Let the Right One In" ("Låt den rätte komma in") (Sweden) 

Documentary Film: 
"Man on Wire" 

Animated Feature: 
"Wall*E" 

Breakthrough Artist Award: 
Danny McBride, Pineapple Express/The Foot Fist Way/Tropic Thunder 

First Film: 
Nacho Vigalondo, "Timecrimes" ("Los Cronocrímenes") 

Austin Film: 
"Crawford" 

Who got a boost?:
  • The Dark Knight. These are its first awards for picture, director, and adapted screenplay.
  • Taraji P. Henson for Best Supporting Actress. She had lots of buzz when Benjamin Button's trailer was released back in May, but it fell apart. This shows that she shouldn't be counted out yet.
  • Synecdoche New York for Best Original Screenplay.
  • The Fall for cinematography. One of the most beautiful films that no one saw is finally getting its due. Good.
  • Let the Right One In for Foreign Language Film.
  • Man on Wire for Documentary. Seriously, what award hasn't it won?
  • Anne Hathaway for Best Actress.
  • Gran Torino and Frost/Nixon. A spot at the bottom of a Top 10 list is only a small boost, but it's still a boost.
Who got snubbed?:
  • Revolutionary Road on all fronts.
  • Doubt on all fronts.
  • The Reader.
  • Kate Winslet's chances at finally winning an Oscar.

Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Winners

Best Picture 
Slumdog Millionaire 

Top Ten Films of 2008 (in alphabetical order) 
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 
The Dark Knight 
Frost/Nixon 
In Bruges 
Milk 
The Reader 
Slumdog Millionaire 
The Visitor 
Wall-E 
The Wrestler 

Best Director 
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role 
Sean Penn, Milk 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role 
Meryl Streep, Doubt 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role 
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role 
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler 

Best Acting Ensemble 
The cast of Milk 

Best screenplay written directly for the screen 
In Bruges 

Best screenplay adapted from another medium 
Slumdog Millionaire 

Best Live Action Family Film 
High School Musical 3: Senior Year 

Best Overlooked Film 
In Bruges 

Best Animated Film 
Wall-E 

Best Foreign Language Film 
Let the Right One In 

Best Documentary 
Man on Wire 

Best Original Song 
“The Wrestler” from The Wrestler 

Best Original Score 
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 

Best Cinematography 
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 

Best Film Editing 
Slumdog Millionaire 

Best Production Design 
The Dark Knight 

Best Costume Design 
The Duchess 

Best Visual Effects 
The Dark Knight 

Best Stunts 
The Dark Knight 

Breakout on Camera 
Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire 

Breakout Behind the Camera 
Martin McDonagh, In Bruges 

Best Performance by a Youth - Male 
Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Slumdog Millionaire 

Best Performance by a Youth - Female 
Dakota Fanning, Secret Life of Bees 

Who got a boost?:
  • Marisa Tomei. Slowly but surely she's catching up to Penelope Cruz.
  • In Bruges. A spot on the Top 10 list, a Breakout award, and most importantly, an Original Screenplay award; these are huge boost for early release, which seemed doomed to be completely overlooked.
  • Meryl Streep for Best Actress.
Who got snubbed?:
  • Revolutionary Road.
  • Australia for artistic and technical awards.
  • Iron Man for Visual Effects.

San Diego Critics Awards

Best Film: Slumdog Millionaire 
  • Runner-up: The Dark Knight 
Best Foreign Language Film: Let the Right One In 
Best Documentary: Man on Wire 
Best Animated Film: WALL-E 
Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire 
Best Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader 
Best Actor: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler 
Best Supporting Actress: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler 
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight 
Best Original Screenplay: Tom McCarthy, The Visitor 
Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire 
Best Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire 
Best Production Design: Donald Graham Burt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 
Best Editing: Chris Dickens, Slumdog Millionaire 
Best Score: A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire 
Best Ensemble Performance: Frost/Nixon 
Body of Work for 2008: Richard Jenkins for The Visitor, Burn After Reading, Step Brothers, and The Tale of Despereaux 

Who got a boost?:
  • Mickey Rourke for Best Actor. After several ties with Sean Penn, this is his second stand-alone win in the category.
  • Kate Winslet.
  • Marisa Tomei.
Who got snubbed?:
  • Doubt
  • Revolutionary Road
The awards are all starting to run together now that Slumdog Millionaire has taken the lead.

Monday, December 15, 2008

San Francisco Critics Award Winners

Best Picture: Milk

Best Foreign Language Film: Let the Right One In

Best Documentary: My Winnipeg

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 Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, Milk

Best Adapted Screenplay: Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon

Best Cinematography: Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight

Who got a boost?:
  • Marisa Tomei for Best Supporting Actress. It was one thing for her to grab the crucial Globe nomination, but for her to actually win an award is a great shot in the arm for her awards campaign.
  • Rourke and Penn for Best Actor. The Best Actor seems to be between these two veterans. Sorry Frank Langella.
  • Sally Hawkins for Best Actress. She has, far and away, the most awards and seems to be gaining tremendous momentum. What's truly amazing is that, in a year filled with heavy dramatic performances (especially for women), a performance in a comedy (albeit one with some serious moments) is sweeping the precursors.
  • Milk for Picture, Director, and Screenplay.
  • The Dark Knight for Cinematography.
  • Frost/Nixon for Adapted Screenplay.
Who got snubbed?:
  • Doubt in all categories.
  • Revolutionary Road.
  • The Reader.
  • Slumdog Millionaire (although this is hardly a set back considering how well it's been doing).

Even more!: St. Louis Critics Awards

BEST PICTURE
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

BEST ACTOR
Sean Penn (Milk)

BEST ACTRESS
Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis (Doubt)

BEST DIRECTOR
Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Slumdog Millionaire - U.K./U.S.A/India

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Man On Wire

BEST COMEDY
Burn After Reading

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Wall-E

MOST ORIGINAL, INNOVATIVE OR CREATIVE FILM
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Mandy Walker (Australia)

BEST SCREENPLAY (ORIGINAL OR ADAPTED)
Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon)

BEST MUSIC (SOUNDTRACK OR SCORE, ORIGINAL OR ADAPTED)
The Visitor

BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS
The Dark Knight

Who got a boost?:
  • Danny Boyle for Best Director. Both he and his film are basically the front runners. It really is the "little film that could" of the year.
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for Best Picture.
  • Kate Winslet for Best Actress.
  • Viola Davis for Best Supporting Actress.
  • Sean Penn for Best Actor. He's clearly the front runner for the award, and the Oscar nomination is a sure bet, but the Academy may not be ready to give him a second statue so soon.
  • Frost/Nixon for screenplay
  • Australia for cinematography
Who got snubbed?:
  • Meryl Streep, who has yet to collect another award.
  • Waltz With Bashir

They just don't stop: Southeastern Film Critics Awards

BEST PICTURE
1. Milk
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 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 DIRECTOR
Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire
* Runner-up: Gus Van Sant - Milk

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

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

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
Let the Right One In (Sweden)
* Runner-up: I've Loved You So Long (France)

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Man on Wire
* Runner-up: Young@Heart

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
WALL-E
* Runner-up: Kung Fu Panda

WYATT AWARD
Shotgun Stories
* Runner-up: The Order of Myths

Who got a boost?:
  • Danny Boyle for Best Director. The fact that he was able to win the award despite his film's loss in the Best Picture category is a good sign.
  • Milk for Best Picture. Another great recovery from the snub by the Golden Globes.
  • Let the Right One In for Foreign Language Film.
  • Anne Hathaway. She was really starting to lag, but this is proof that she's still a strong contender.
  • Kate Winslet for Best Actress. However, it's odd that she was given best actress for The Reader, in a role that the studio behind the film considers supporting.
  • Slumdog Millionaire for Adapted Screenplay.
Who got snubbed?:
  • Benjamin Button for Adapted Screenplay.