Archive for February 21st, 2009

Sam Juliano’s Prediction For “Best Picture” of 2009….

Sam’s Best Picture Prediction:With a leading 13 total nominations The Curious Case of Benjamin Button would under ordinary circumstances stand an excellent chance at taking the big prize. The film, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, is the kind of film that Oscar voters rally behind; it’s a sweeping emotional fantasy that is beautiful to look at, and it’s Alexander Desplat score is gorgeous. Yet, it appears that Button has no chance for the big prize, due to another film’s powerful grip on voters’ sensibilities. Still, it’s extremely likely the David Fincher-directed drama will draw the second most votes on this shortlist. As alluded to on the director’s thread, Frost/Nixon is a category “filler” and poses no threat of any kind.

It’s likely this Ron Howard adaptation of a successful Broadway play will finish dead last in the balloting. It’s placement in the top five has drawn much derision on internet blogs and truth be said, the animated gem Wall-E should have been here in Frost/Nixon’s place. Winner of the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Picture, Gus Van Sant’s biopic of the slain gay activist Harvey Milk entitled Milk has been a critic’s group’s darling since it’s release, and there’s a tiny fraction (and I mean miniscule) who are thinking it’s capable of pulling an upset, especially as a kind of “pay-back” for the unexpected loss of Brokeback Mountain in 2005, a decision that enraged the gay community and even those outside of it. Like several other films here in this category though, I feel it has no chance to win.

Stephen Daldry’s The Reader is a ravishing and moving drama that internet bloggers have had a ball railing against, (partially over dislike for the film’s executive producer Harvey Weinstein) but the film was gloriously vindicated weeks ago when one of the world’s most distinguished film scholars, the great David Thomson declared The Reader is easily the best film of 2008. Others in addition to Thomson have also praised it, but it has it’s share of enemies too. It’s Holocaust theme surely helped to propel the film to a very surprising nomination here in the big category, especially with the large Jewish vote in the Academy. That same vote gives the film a tiny shot at an upset, but similar to Milk, it simply won’t happen. Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire is as sure to win as any film in modern times. It’s a prohibitive favorite, and has previously been named Best Picture by more critics’ groups nationwide than any other film; it captured the Golden Globe for Best Picture Drama, it won the coveted Producer’s Guild Award; won the DGA for Boyle, and won the BAFTA two weeks ago from the British Academy. The feel-good movie has really struck a nerve with critics and audiences, and it’s win on Sunday night is simply a foregone conclusion.

[Sam Juliano’s Personal Choice: The Reader]
[Sam Juliano’s Predicted To Win:  Slumdog Millionaire]

[Alexander Coleman’s from over there at Coleman’s Corner in Cinema]

Best Picture Prediction: Although there have been theories about a Benjamin Button upset in recent days, the one film to win the Scripter, Golden Globe, Critics Choice Award, Screen Actors Guild for Best Ensemble (a dubious victory in the face of Milk and Doubt that demonstrates just how well-loved this film appears to be), the Ace Editing Award, the BAFTA Award, Cinema Audio Society, the Directors Guild Award and a host of other “precursors.”

It would be a shock of Brokeback Mountain proportions if Slumdog Millionaire were to somehow lose Best Picture–which means that it is a possibility. But estimating the Best Picture race makes it apparent that Slumdog Millionaire is easily the favorite for the Best Picture Oscar.

The Nominees:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

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by Allan Fish

Let’s be honest, it didn’t sound promising.  A TV reworking of a failed movie that even its writer had disowned.  The 1992 film with Kristy Swanson was a benchmark in mediocrity, so who would want to watch it all over again, played out in weekly instalments?  Amazingly enough, creator Joss Whedon got the Warner Bros network to listen and, when one show was cancelled mid run, Whedon’s baby was put in its place.  Needless to say it was somewhat rushed, and Whedon only ever expected to be making one season.  It lasted only 12 episodes, and few Buffy alumni would not admit it was the weakest series of the seven that would ensue, and yet there’s something faintly nostalgic about it.  Now, over a decade on, it seems impossible to think anyone other than Sarah Michelle Gellar would play the heroine.  Yet she wasn’t first choice – Katie Holmes turned it down and Gellar originally went for the role of Cordelia.  Thankfully, it worked out OK in the end.  And if Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon and Charisma Carpenter were way too old to play 16 year olds (22, 25 and 26 respectively when the show was first filmed), we forgave them.  We even forgave Anthony Head – a Stewart was placed in the middle of his name in the series due to a US Equity clash – the man from the Gold Blend ads, who likewise became a cult figure. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France 1955 31m) DVD1/2

Aka. Night and Fog

Who is responsible then?

d  Alain Resnais  Jean Cayrol  ph  Ghislain Cloquet, Sacha Vierny  ed  Alain Resnais  narrated by  Michel Bouquet

Nuit et Brouillard is a film that should be preserved for all time above nearly every other.  Just as the hell on earth of Nazi death camps stand as a ghostly memoriam of the atrocities committed under the Nazi regime, so does Resnais’ superbly subtle documentary.  Indeed, everyone who has understandably cried with horror and shame through Schindler’s List or, for those of braver constitutions, Shoah or the BBC’s Auschwitz, they should also see this film.  I’m sure Messieurs Spielberg and Lanzmann have. (more…)

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