Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
:: Frost/Nixon (Dec. 5)
--- Reviews are pretty good so far, but I'm not anticipating an overwhelming response -- at least not enough for a Best Picture nomination. I also wonder about Langella's nomination: Will it be seen as a been there, done that performance ('Nixon' came out only 13 years ago) or was he really that good on Broadway?)
:: The Reader (Dec. 10)
---The Weinsteins were adamant about getting this released in time for Oscar consideration. But now it's saddled by major category confusion. How will it affect Kate's other Dec. release, 'Revolutionary Road'?
:: Che (Dec. 12)
--- I don't know how I'll ever make it through this 4-hour journey. I'm guessing voters are thinking the same thing.
:: Doubt (Dec. 12)
--- There's still 'Doubt' surrounding this one, for lack of a better pun. Meryl's 3rd Oscar seems less likely with each review.
:: Gran Torino (Dec. 12)
--- Every Oscar blogger's worst nightmare? If all this "Clint has never won an acting Oscar!" talk keeps up then definitely, yes.
:: The Wrestler (Dec. 17)
--- Mickey Rourke finally joins the race with admittedly high expectations. Will he deliver?
:: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Dec. 25)
--- Buzz is starting to peak just at the right time so maybe it will win Best Picture after all. Still, I'm skeptical.
:: Last Chance Harvey (Dec. 25)
--- Looks adorable. But it also looks like it'll never go beyond the Golden Globes.
:: Revolutionary Road (Dec. 26)
--- Its three principle actors (Leo, Kate and Michael Shannon) seem poised for nominations. But will the movie's subject matter be too dark for Best Picture?
That's 9 movies to look out for, and I haven't even included the likes of 'Seven Pounds' (ugh) and 'The Brothers Bloom' (shrug). Expect things to stay very busy over the next 4 weeks.
And now for the poll ...
But for a movie this epic, it's also very disappointing.
'Australia' starts off as any Baz Lurhmann movie would: flashy titles, intro summary on speed, quirky performances. But once the film actually settles down it goes from hyperactive and cartoonish to slightly boring. And I felt that was the first misstep in this long and winding journey. It starts off nice and silly (Hugh Jackman posing like a statue while he bathes; Nicole Kidman shouting "WELL DONE!") but that wide-eyed, "OMG I'm seeing a MOVIE!" energy fades rather quickly, so when Kidman and Jackman get together all you can do is shrug your shoulders and accept it.
Perhaps this is because 'Australia' simply tries to tell too much. In between make out sessions, there's a battle over a child; a blackmailing enemy; a long journey on horseback; World War II. And there's never really a balance between any of this, energy wise. Some parts are really good (bookends), while others aren't simply average (the beginning of Act 2), so even though the movie finishes really strong it's hard to find yourself clapping in victory.
But on the plus side, Nicole Kidman gives a terrific performance. She plays the comedy bits to her strength, and gets a number of good laughs without ever going over the top. She's also very good when the film takes a more serious turn, and her chemistry with Hugh Jackman is almost too good to be true.
Jackman, meanwhile, is convincing as the rugged Drover. Sometimes his presence fades in and out, and I remember wanting more from him. But on the whole, he's charming, sexy and a good match for Nicole Kidman.
I'm assuming most of you got the chance to see 'Australia' this weekend. If so, what did you think? Is it an epic masterpiece or were you disappointed like I was?
Friday, November 28, 2008
I've heard that Australia did pretty poorly at the box office, which I kind of expected to happen all year long. I'm not sure why they released it over Thanksgiving, although I must admit a lot of my friends said they wanted to see it.
Milk, meanwhile, purportedly did very well (can anyone find the official #s for me?) so I think it's definitely in for Picture. Yay!
What about you: What are you seeing this weekend?
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Normally, I'd be a little more subtle about it. But I feel like Harvey Milk would want me to openly declare my love for it - or anything - so I will. ;)
The biggest reason why the movie works so well is, of course, Sean Penn's performance. It's a little jarring to see how good he is here. I say that mostly because, as much as I love him, lately he's had a penchant for hamming it up (see: Mystic River).
But in this movie we see a side to him that we haven't witnessed in a long, long time -- perhaps since 'Dead Man Walking.' And it's a bit hard for me to explain it. Yes, he scene steals, particularly in a number of rousing speeches that infuse the story with the same kind of hope and message that Harvey himself once spread. But he's also restrained and intimate at times, and Penn is able to bring out the internal struggle Milk faced through it all. It's a very complex and humanized portrayal of this man; Penn's best performance, and he deserves the Oscar.
But the reason 'Milk' also works is because everything that surrounds Sean Penn is up to par. You can't rave Penn without also raving the ensemble, which boasts good performances from Emile Hirsch to James Franco (adorable) to Josh Brolin. The latter isn't in it as much as I thought he would, but he has one scene toward the end that stands out as one of the film's best -- and darkest. I will discuss it later when more of you have seen the movie.
And what's especially good about the movie is that it doesn't really feel like a standard biopic on the whole. Even the building blocks at the beginning have a place in the story, so you're not watching the pic thinking "Oh, they're just showing me this to fill in some space."
I'll be here to discuss the film more as the season goes on and more of you see it. But I encourage everyone to see it when they can -- and take your friends, too; gay or straight. This is one movie that everyone should go out and support.
On a side note, today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Harvey Milk. RIP.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
-Last minute Oscar rush
---I know most people like to see Oscar movies spread throughout the year but this year I'm ready for the 5-week crunch. Revolutionary Road; Milk; Doubt; The Wrestler; Benjamin Button. It's like Christmas every week!
-Rachel Getting Married and Happy-Go-Lucky
---Two indie gems in an otherwise slow year
---because he was terrific in 'Pineapple Express' and I'm guessing he'll be just as good in 'Milk,' which I'll be seeing this afternoon (review tomorrow, time permitting).
---two Oscar possibilities in one year? It's every fanboy's dream.
What about you: What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Note: my internet was down last night and I *think* it was still down before I left the apt. this morning. Hopefully it'll be back up when I get home.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- I've had my doubts all year long but if the movie makes people cry then it's definitely one to watch. Voters often find it tough to resist a good weepie ... even if today's Academy has been voting differently the past couple of years.
The Dark Knight
- I know some people still think it's impossible for a super-hero movie to get nominated but think of the buzz it's generated this year: incredible reviews, record breaking box office numbers, Heath Ledger ... how can they ignore it?
- As I've said before this is the right movie at the right time. It's sure to get people talking and into the theaters, especailly now that Penn is getting such incredible reviews.
- This has been - and remains - one of the year's biggest question marks. Some critics are calling it flawed, while others are raving both the movie and the lead performances by Leo and Kate. And it's those two performances which I think will push 'Revolutionary Road' through. If they're really as good as people are saying then voters might have to vote it, even if it is flawed. Think Atonement ... I guess.
- Best Actor may not be as locked up as I thought it was, but even if Rourke doesn't win the Oscar I still think 'The Wrestler' can make it in here. It has two big things going for it (besides Rourke): 1.) amazing reviews and 2.) the indie factor. Oscar has been very kind to smaller, grittier films and this one has both apparently.
As for the sixth spot, I guess I could give it to 'Slumdog Millionaire' but I don't buy its Oscar chances here (it's already in theaters, and who is actually talking about it?). I do think Boyle has a legit shot at a Best Director nomination, which he'll probably get. The reviews are good enough for that to happen.
There's also 'The Reader,' which could make it in here based on it subject matter and ostensible weep factor. Or 'Doubt,' I suppose, but that's looking less and less likely by the day.
'Australia,' meanwhile, may just be for us bloggers to enjoy.
What about you guys: What are you predicting for Best Picture and Director?
Button is an Oscar movie with a capital O, with jaw-dropping production values, a soaring romance, and terrific performances, particularly from supporting-actress candidate Taraji P. Henson as Benjamin's de facto mother.
Even if Brad Pitt doesn't make it into the tough Best Actor race (the likes of Clint Eastwood and Leonardo DiCaprio may squeeze him out), I still can see Button racking up as many as 11 nominations, which could very well be the highest tally for any film this year. Once the film opens on Christmas day, I guarantee we'll all be talking about one thing: whether or not Benjamin Button made you sob.
And so does Awards Daily's Sasha Stone:
I did not feel a detachment to it at all and I fully expected to. I didn’t think that Fincher could pull off something overly sentimental. I thought it would be a few steps removed and all about the effects and the gimmick. It turns out, though, that this film is about the human experience. It’s about, as Roth and Fincher said, the people who make dents in you, who impact your life. Most of those who teach Benjamin about life are women, older women who have the benefit of wisdom. His life is shaped by them, which is probably the reason I fell so hard for the film. Too often women get the short shrift in films. They aren’t given the credit they’re due as whole human beings. I was touched by the female presence in this film and quite moved by it, I must say.
This all may sound a little hyperbolic but I trust Dave Karger when it comes to Oscar. What do you think?
Friday, November 21, 2008
Not only because it looks awful but I just have too much work to do regarding predictions updates. I think I have a good idea of how Best Picture and Director will go down but I might mull over it a little more ... just in case any new reviews of 'Australia' come in.
I'll get Screenplay predix up for you by tomorrow evening.
In the meantime: What are you watching this weekend?
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I feel pretty good, but not great about this update. I'm starting to agree with others that Kristin Scott Thomas will get nominated for 'I've Loved You So Long.' It's a terrific performance in an otherwise average movie, and it's the type of difficult role that seems to have the right people talking.
Kate Winslet is also looking pretty good based on the first few reviews of 'Revolutionary Road.' So is Meryl Streep for 'Doubt,' although talk of a 3rd Oscar win seems to be dwindling by the hour.
After that things start to get a little tricky. Even though I dropped Angelina from my predix I have a sneaking suspicion she might get nominated after all. Her performance has way too much Oscar bait in it to go completely unnoticed. But then again, voters did snub 'A Mighty Heart' last year, which was a pretty big surprise.
So what does that mean for my two favorites, Anne Hathaway and Sally Hawkins? Will they both earn nods? Or will Angelina steal their thunder with all of her incessant and mundane Oscar clips?
Also, since Hugh Jackman was just named Sexiest Man Alive by PEOPLE, what to make of Nicole Kidman? Will she finally get another nomination or will voters have no idea what to do with 'Australia'?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Kate is back in for The Reader. The lead vs. supporting argument intrigues me but I really got the impression that she was supporting based on the trailer. She may be the focus of the movie but I'm guessing she's not in the movie for a good portion of it (I haven't read the book, so avoid spoilers if you can).
Nothing else of note in this update. Viola Davis continues to look strong, as does Marisa Tomei ... assuming The Wrestler does as well as I think it might. Taraji P. Henson is a bigger question mark but I'll hold out for now. And then of course there's Penelope Cruz, who is all set for a nomination. A win also seems like a possibility, but it's still very, very, very early.
What about you: What are your Best Supporting Actress predix?
Monday, November 17, 2008
Things should pick up next week, so I figured now would be a good time for everyone to post their personal FYCs -- just in case voters actually read my blog (it's highly unlikely, but I like to think positive).
I only have a few FYCs, and they are:
Rebecca Hall: Best Actress, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Penelope Cruz is getting all the buzz for this flick but I was partial to Rebecca Hall's charmingly uptight performance. I enjoyed watching her character come out of its shell, and there were certain moments where she stole the show -- which was an amazing feat considering she was the least famous of the 4 principal actors. Plus: whoda thunk she was British?
Gary Oldman: Best Supporting Actor, The Dark Knight
This is a similar case to Rebecca Hall in that Oldman's performance was overshadowed by his co-star's (Heath Ledger). But as scene stealing as Heath was I took more to Oldman's quiet presence. He was the one I cared most about, and whenever he was on screen I became that much more involved in the movie. Of course, he'll never be nominated -- even Heath's buzz is unprecedented -- but it's a nice thought nonetheless.
Debra Winger: Best Supporting Actress, Rachel Getting Married
I loved everything about Rachel Getting Married but Debra Winger's performance destroyed me. She's barely in the movie (intentionally, I believe, and all for the better) but I tell you: That final scene she has with Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt is enough to leave you sobbing for days. A comeback nomination for Winger would surely make my year.
Sadly, I haven't seen any performances of note in the Best Actor category. Am I forgetting someone? I haven't seen "The Visitor" yet, but beyond that I'm totally blanking.
Also: it should be noted that none of these performances are guaranteed to make my year-end ballot (well, Winger and Oldman probably will ... spoilers! ;) )
In any event: What films and performances would you love to see nominated this year?
Either way, this is slightly disconcerting news as far as Best Picture goes. But Leo and Kate are still looking good for nominations -- and so is Michael Shannon. Could he be this year's Jackie Earle Haley? Discuss!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Nothing major to note in this update. I've added Clint Eastwood for "Gran Torino," which looks like it'll go over well with the older voting crowd (blargh).
I've also added Ralph Fiennes for "The Reader" and Dustin Hoffman for "Last Chance Harvey"; the former because I think it could be a big contender, and the latter because the movie looks really cute.
More updates to come. In the meantime: What do your Best Actor predix look like?
But I could just be biased this time around, because I really, really, really did not like "Changeling."
What do you guys think: Will Angelina get a nod this year or will someone else take her place ... again?
Friday, November 14, 2008
Much to update this weekend, including predix. I believe there were leaked reviews of 'Curious Case' and 'Revolutionary Road' but I haven't even had time to check. Blech.
What are you watching this weekend?
Monday, November 10, 2008
1.) Is it time to let go of 'Australia'?
---Part of me says wait it out. It's opening in a couple weeks, and it probably makes sense to just watch and see how it does at the box office. I actually know a lot of people who want to see it, so maybe it won't bomb after all.
Still ... I can't stop thinking about a couple other contenders, which leads me to question number two:
2.) What to make of 'Slumdog Millionaire' and 'The Reader'?
---I feel confident predicting Milk and The Wrestler right now. I'm starting to warm up to 'Benjamin Button,' too, mostly because time is running out for other movies to overthrow it. But what of 'Slumdog'? It has good reviews already, and a November release is prime for building buzz into December. Should I admit defeat and throw it into my predix? I think it looks schmaltzy and terrible, but as we know, the Academy sometimes loves that.
And what to make of 'The Reader'? The Weinsteins were very adamant about getting this flick into the 2008 race. So does that mean it's really good, or are we just looking at a nomination/possible win for Kate Winslet? I ask because a friend once told me Kate would win the next time she was in a Best Picture nominee. Am I being too hopeful?
Thursday, November 06, 2008
The film’s one iffy element, oddly enough, is Streep. This master screen actor, who applies a slight New Yawk accent to her phrasings, takes the vocal low road here as opposed to the more forceful approach of Cherry Jones in her riveting Broadway turn. By ostensibly underplaying the role’s villainy, however, Streep overdoes the melodrama, thereby turning Sister Aloysius into more of a stock figure than she ultimately seemed onstage. Every little tic, gesture and facial mannerism seems maximized by the effort expended to minimalize them, to diminished returns in the cause of creating a three-dimensional character. While the dramatic scenes still register with notable force, it’s a disconcerting, unsatisfying performance from a thesp who most of the time rings true.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER review.
What do you guys think? Is it time for us to doubt "Doubt," too?
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Check out this clip from the Hollywood Reporter:
"Milk," written by Dustin Lance Black and directed by Gus Van Sant, is the first great film to look at civil rights from the perspective of the gay movement. The subject, of course, is the late, charismatic San Francisco gay activist and politician of the 1970s, Harvey Milk, played with extraordinary depth and wisdom by Sean Penn. "Milk" resists bumper-sticker identifications: Yes, it's a biopic, a love story, a civil rights movie and sharp political and social commentary. But it transcends any single genre as a very human document that touches first and foremost on the need to give people hope.
Variety's review HERE.
What do you think of the reviews? Is 'Milk' a threat for Best Picture? Will Sean Penn challenge Mickey Rourke for Best Actor? Discuss now.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Part of me still wonders if it'll get in for Best Picture. So far it looks like it won't be as stage-bound as I feared. What do you think?
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Nothing of interest opens this weekend, although I did just get back from "I've Loved You So Long." Pretty good movie with a weak screenplay and a good performance by Kristin Scott Thomas is my verdict. I'm not sold on the Oscar buzz but maybe?
In any event, while you're around be sure to check out the trailer for The Reader. It looks like the Weinsteins are gonna push this one big time given how fast the trailer came out. I think it looks really good, but I'll let you all be the judge: