81st Ceremony


From Rolling Stone via Firstshowing.net comes the bitchin’ new acid flashback poster for Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock. As RS points out, the graphics recall Wes Wilson‘s designs for San Fransisco’s Filmore. Funky and far out, man. Fuckin’ A.

We’re gonna need a MONTAGE! Oscar gets its first TV spot … AND it’s no longer on youtube. ABC in stealth mode has posted an interview with Hugh Jackman on its On the Red Carpet site, so feast on this instead!

This is guest host bebe again! Leave it to me to mess up.

Host Jon Cryer will take over duties now that Carl Reiner has taken ill. The DGAs will be held tonight, with drinks and chatter at around 6:30pm and the awards ceremony at 8pm. We’ll do our usual game of trolling the news sites for photos of the nominees and then Danny Boyle after he wins. It’s always fun to do the Yahoo news photos guessing game to figure out who’s got the winner’s plaque as opposed to the nominee’s plaque.

Prediction: Danny Boyle
No Guts, No Glory: David Fincher

In the weirdest Oscar year ever, Kung-Fu Panda swept the Annie Awards and Wall-E, a film that holds the record for the most nominated categories for an animated film at the Oscars, goes home empty-handed.

No joke, read it and weep, as Variety’s Peter Debruge reports:

Fifteen-category victory marks a coup for DreamWorks Animation, which hasn’t seen one of its CG features take the Annies’ top prize since 2002 (though they did share the stage with Aardman three years back for stop-motion “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”), especially since the show has correctly forecast the Academy’s taste all but once since the Oscars introduced its feature animation category.

Well guess what, Annies, get ready for number two.¬† Perhaps they did this because of Pixar burn-out but it’s rather self-hating I’d say to give a sweep to Kung-Fu Panda after a film like Wall-e has broken new ground with the general population. This is not to discount Kung-Fu Panda for being good, it is good, it just isn’t one of the best. films. of. the. year.

A travesty.


Simon Beaufoy declares his love for Jamie Lee Curtis as he accepts yet another award for Slumdog Millionaire.  Curtis was the host and did a bang up job, per the live webcast we all watched.

Tom O’Neil finds two people out there who actually think someone else could win the DGA tomorrow night:

Well, Gold Derby decided to pursue the point anyway and pooled predix from lots of pundits, who back Boyle by a landslide, that’s true. But I found a few brave (crazy?) souls who dare to stray. They include Bob Tourtellotte (Reuters), Kevin Lewin (World Entertainment News Network) and, well, me. All of us believe Fincher will take this. I even think Christopher Nolan (who’s not nominated at the Oscars) has a shot. After all, there were a few notable cases of previous Oscar snubees actually claiming the DGA trophy: Ron Howard (“Apollo 13”) and Steven Spielberg (“The Color Purple”).

I never said that a director not nominated for an Oscar could win the DGA – that has happened. But it has never happened that a director whose film wasn’t nominated for Best Picture actually wins the DGA. Here’s the other “problem” with Boyle versus the other guys. No one can compete, or has even really tried competing, with Danny Boyle’s charm on camera. He is unpretentious, funny, likable and shows up all the time. The only other director who comes close to him in this regard is Ron Howard. I love Mr. Fincher and Mr. Van Sant but they aren’t exactly the most affable guys on the block. Much of the Slumdog phenom, by the way, in case you all haven’t noticed, is how surprised and happy they all look when they win. Did you happen to catch the look on Danny Boyle’s face when Slumdog won the SAG? He put his head in his hands, shook his head in shock and amazement. That kind of stuff makes voters feel good about what they’re doing. Just a notion but one that is, I think, semi-worth pursuing as an actual thought.


The Reader is like the English Patient. Old age makeup, great sex scenes, World War II, Harvey Weinstein, redemption, suffering.

This occurred to me today as I was contemplating who might win the Scripter. Is The Reader still coming up from the outside, or is, as NY Times’ Michael Cieply suggests, Benjamin Button the potential spoiler?¬† This subject has been bandied about in our comments for quite some time now, though the consensus seems to be that it’s either Milk or Benjamin Button to upset. The way I look at it is this. This same rule, by the way, applied to the year The Departed won. You have your obvious frontrunner. Then you have little splinter groups that don’t like the frontrunner and so what is next on their list? Benjamin Button is the obvious choice, with 13 nominations. But what if it isn’t. The Reader was clearly beloved enough to make a last minute show at the Oscars and not like Atonement, which made it with no director nod, not like Munich, which started out strong, then was a disappointment but ultimately made it anyway: The Reader succeeded despite the critics mostly panning it. That is some serious Academy love there.
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Thanks to Pierre for sending this our way – Ms. Winslet talks about kids, acting and Oscar – worth a look. It’s from the site, Movies.ie. They have plenty more where that came from.


The USC Scripter awards are being held tonight here in Los Angeles and they are doing one thing differently this year – they are announcing the winner at the actual event. The nominees are:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Iron Man
The Reader
Revolutionary Road

Slumdog Millionaire

I’d say they all had a shot here but Slumdog is probably the favorite to win this and the WGA and the Oscar, unless something derails it. Benjamin Button has a really good chance, as it’s (loosely) adapted from an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story. And of course, The Reader could win here and start picking up big in this category – if it is going to win anywhere it could be for screenplay. Still, I pity anyone who must go up against Slumdog for anything.

This weekend, Saturday night, the DGA Awards will honor Danny Boyle, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Ron Howard and Gus Van Sant. There probably isn’t much to write about here as Boyle has this one in the bag. He has it so much in the bag, in fact, that I don’t even think I’ll run predictions because what would be the point.

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What if there were no such thing as “Slumdog Millionaire,” if it had fallen into a life of limbo, as seemed likely for a time before Warner Brothers farmed it out to Fox Searchlight? We can assume another film would be in the mix – “Revolutionary Road,” “The Dark Knight” or “Doubt” – but who would be in the frontrunner position?

In other words, is it writ that “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” with its near-record 13 nominations, would take down best picture, or would the others have a shot? Put less delicately, what is your second choice for the first-ranked honor in motion pictures?

I agree that Doubt would probably be in the mix. It’s difficult to imagine what film would have taken Slumdog’s slot, though. The only other “feelgood” movie that was getting heat was Wall-E but once Slumdog entered the race, that was the end of the that. What do you all think? Head on over to the Carpetbagger.


One hopes that anyone who loves movies can move beyond this idea that they have to be validated by the Academy to remain in our hearts – those 6,000 people can only pick five. In looking over this video, three films stand out to me: The Dark Knight, Tropic Thunder and Benjamin Button – but there were so many good ones, albeit not Oscar-appropriate. The film is made by Ben Zuk.

Knighthawk News has an interesting article about art direction, with a bit history. Actually, the site has a lot of great columns on the history of the Academy Awards worth checking out:

It used to be quite common for films to get an Art Direction nomination and nothing else, but that has been less common since they did away with the separation of Color and Black-and-White in 1967. Since then, it is just as likely that a nominee get 2 nominations (for Art Direction and Costume Design), than to just get Art Direction.

You could get lost over there at Knighthawk News. I especially liked this article about Oscar’s defunct categories, like Best Comedy Direction.

With 29 points (I had to correct the form, which wasn’t picking up some of the points) but Mario is still the winner. Mario got all five Best Picture nominees correct.

Mario Saez from Spain (email me, Mario!)

Runners up (26):
Frank Harrison, USA
Jojo Cruz Ferreira, Portugal
Lucia, Italy
mark mercado, USA
Michael Lewis, USA
Patrick Larimer, USA
Steve Hummel, Canada
Steve Smith, USA
Tomo, Albania

More after the cut.
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Charlie Rose recently had a conversation with David Denby of The New Yorker and A.O Scott of The New York Times. They discussed the recent Oscar nominations.  Whether you agree with them or not, it was a fascinating discussion. Someone please give these guys a weekly show!

I just wished there was at least one televison show out there with intelligent film critique. It’s too bad Charlie only does this once a year.

More often than not in the last few years,  I tend to agree more with A. O Scott than with David Denby.  If you are interested in what they had to say you can catch it here .

The Academy released a statement today with the names of the producers involved with The Reader who will be credited with the Oscar should the film pick up a surprise win:

Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, Donna Gigliotti and Redmond Morris.

Because four producers were listed on the credits form submitted for Oscar® consideration and Academy rules allow for only three producers – except in “a rare and extraordinary circumstance” – to be nominated and potentially receive Oscar statuettes, a meeting of the executive committee was necessary. In the end, the committee determined that the circumstances of “The Reader” – in which the two original producers (Minghella and Pollack) both died partway through the process – met its definition of “rare and extraordinary” and that all four submitted individuals should be named as nominees.

The Gran Torino story is really interesting. Why before the nominations dropped, a few people were talking up Gran Torino’s chances. We were pretty devoted to it being The Reader if any were to upset but there were a great many who suspected the Clint movie would have done something. It might have if there had been just a little more time for the story to gain traction. Here is S. James Snyder writing for TIME:

This year’s Oscar story lines have already been etched in stone ‚Äî Mickey Rourke as the comeback kid, Slumdog Millionaire as the art-house wunderkind, Milk as the timely social commentary (released three weeks after Proposition 8 passed in California). Yet while the critics have been fussing over wrestlers and Mumbai quiz shows, audiences have been flocking to Gran Torino ‚Äî an Oscar outcast that’s been doing laps around the competition at the box office. At some point this week, the Clint Eastwood drama will pass the $100 million mark, easily surpassing the box-office receipts brought in by not only some of the Oscar front-runners (Slumdog Millionaire now totals $56 million, Milk $21 million) but also Eastwood’s last Oscar winner, Million Dollar Baby.

“It’s an amazing story that no one’s really talking about,” says Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst with Hollywood.com. “For a movie starring a 78-year-old to have a $29 million opening weekend in wide release, and in the process to beat out the likes of Anne Hathaway in Bride Wars, I don’t know if I’ve seen that before … It’s a testament to how people still feel about Clint Eastwood.”

Robert Downey, Jr. and Brad Pitt crush on Mickey Rourke — and really, it’s true: he inspired a whole generation of actors:


Newsweek’s full story.

brad pitt on googling himself
on what they look for in a director
their favorite performances ever
hathaway on handheld performances


If there is one theme that weaves through the five Best Actress nominees this year is their own judgment, how they use it and where it gets them.  Meryl, Angelina, Melissa, Kate, Ann.

Thematically, this is a constant in the five roles, but the truth is that the Oscar race isn’t just about the person or the part or the film; it is about the story. And each of these women has a story this year. Kate Winslet is the brilliant young actress with many nominations but no wins who turned in two of her best performances this year.¬† It looked like she would be a double nominee and if she had been, she might have lost the lead actress prize and won in supporting. But the Academy went another way and decided to give her the big win for this part, ignoring the brilliant, inside out performance in Revolutionary Road (probably an oversight that will not be looked upon well in the years to come — she deserved to be nominated for both).

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Gee, you think?

From the Hollywood Reporter:

“Milk,” from Focus Features, the specialty division of Universal Pictures, was included in GLAAD’s outstanding film in wide release category. It will compete with Miramax’s “Brideshead Revisited,” Columbia’s “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” Warner Bros.’ “RocknRolla” and the Weinstein Co.’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

It looks like Guy Rithie has been vindicated.

Variety has the full list, after the cut:

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