Saturday, February 28, 2009

30 Days 'til NYC: 12 Angry Men

In anticipation for my trip to New York City I will be counting down with some of my NYC movies (and even some that I don't like just for a change of pace). Hope you all enjoy.


I guess this is what they call "classicism", right? The sort of "good story, well told" argument is perfect for Sidney Lumet's 12 Angry Men, with its interesting twist of the courtroom drama. I really respond to movies like this, actually. Simple films that revolve around well-written dialogue being performed well by good hard-working actors. I really don't ask for that much when it comes to movies, do I? The story can be as simple as twelve men (perhaps they're angry, just for a lark) sitting in a room deciding the fate of a man on trial for murder. And yet this movie is far more exciting, thrilling and inspiring than whatever gets classed as any of those adjectives these days.

Don't Drop the S.O.A.P.

Do you remember S.O.A.P.? I sure do. Oh man, do I ever! They had that completely and utterly BRILLIANT pop song "This is How We Party" back in 1998 from their album S.O.A.P. (Not Like Other Girls). As far as I'm aware that's been their own album, it also housed another hit called "Ladidi Ladida", which is very good too. The album sleeve (left) for the album is kinda one of the best ever, no? Love the movie poster motif, obviously, with track listing as credits block and the "Presenting Heidi and Line in a RAMBAMS Production" pre-title tag. A motif that is carried along into the videos.

"This is How We Party" and "Ladidi Ladida" for your viewing/listening pleasure.

Wikipedia tells me they released a second album in 2000, but it was only a hit in their native Denmark.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Batter Up!


No reason for this other than that y'all have been nice lately and I haven't posted anything about Jake in a very long time. I don't even have a tag for him, so does that mean I've never posted about him? NEVER? That's strange, but entirely believable since I got a bit sick of him a while back when all he was doing was hanging around with idiots like Matthew Maconoughonoughonougheyeghey and that cyclist dude who had sex with Kate Hudson. Boring.

31 Days 'til NYC: Birth

In anticipation for my trip to New York City I will be counting down with some of my NYC movies (and even some that I don't like just for a change of pace). Hope you all enjoy.


Jonathan Glazer's Birth is such an amazing movie. Words sometimes escape me when the subject of this movie comes up. Luckily for me the subject of this movie rarely comes up. Luckily for my incapacitated brain functions, bad for movie-loving brain functions. Alas, whenever I can summon up words to discuss it they always tend to be defensive. I can never quite understand the vitriol thrown towards this movie. Was it because Nicole Kidman - giving the best performance of her career - was not only using her clout and her talent to get auteur(ish?) directors' projects off the ground instead of making obvious Oscar-bait films, but also having baths with kids? Was it because the film was channeling both Stanley Kubrick and Roman Polanski and that's just not on for by certain people?

I can understand finding the politics behind it quite silly and the general level of oddity that the movie encompasses was the very first hurdle, but something else happened to a lot of people watching this movie. Very similar to the recent release of The Reader. Bad? Fine. I won't agree with you, but that's your right. But to go about saying it ranks as one of the worst of its given year and that it's disgusting and awful in every single way? Something's fishy there! And how anyone can fault the two-minute long Opera shot is baffling. JUST BAFFLING! (I'm looking at you Richard Roeper.)

Or was it merely because Anne Heche's crazy eyes just freaked them the hell out? I'll never know. Lord knows that my dear Celestia has been known to bring out bile in people. Their loss, really.

My, What a Big Floating Head You Have

This is the poster for the new James Bogle movie Closed for Winter. In case you can't tell, it stars Natalie Imbruglia and her giant floating head.

STELLAAAAA!


[src]

Thursday, February 26, 2009

An Inconceivable Truth

I'm very much on the record in my belief that An Inconvenient Truth is an awful awful movie. Didn't learn anything in that movie that I couldn't have gotten off of Wikipedia, and at least that way I wouldn't have wasted $7 on the DVD (a DVD of a freakin' POWERPOINT presentation? Ugh. I'll never get over that movie, I swear).

Nevertheless, I understand that many people thought it was great and, well, good for them, however, if I ever needed further proof that Davis Guggenheim deserved a good year or two in film school before he won an Oscar (an Oscar for directing a freakin' POWERPOINT presentation?) it was this news that he will be directing the Melrose Place pilot episode.

As if the TV execs didn't learn from the complete and utter disaster that was the 90210 reboot, the idea of a Melrose Place for the new decade is just going to confirm this new remaking TV series trend won't last too much longer, I'm sure. Unfortunately, television is in a very-unironic phase right now so I don't see how it will work. Hurray then that the man who turned a freakin' POWERPOINT presentation into such a scintillating movie-watching experience is on the job! It'll go like gangbusters.

This Week on Australian Screens

Cinema Releases for the Week 26/02/09

The Combination - New Australian film by actor David Field (Ghosts... of the Civil Dead) that is targeting itself at less arthouse audiences (it's only screening on one Melbourne cinema, the rest are suburban) and more on young people who have abandoned Australian cinema because it's "not about them".

Flash of Genius - I honestly can't believe a movie about the man that invented wiper blades exists. REALLY!

Last Chance Harvey - I am fairly certain that this movie that stars Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson (bless Emma Thompson) will be a huge hit with ladies of "a certain age" down here who tend to make all these adult-skewering films into hits. Ladies in Lavender, anyone?

The Unborn - Needless to say, I think we all know who the creative force behind the new Batman movies really is and it's not David S Goyer.

W. - Oliver Stone neuters himself some more.

DVD Releases for the Week 26/02/09

Body of Lies - Leonardo DiCaprio/Russell Crowe/Ridley Scott misfire.

Burn After Reading - The Coen Brothers' exceptional comedy of idiots.

Finding Amanda - I feel like I've mentioned this movie before... but I wouldn't know why.

Henry Pool Is Here - Luke Wilson's career baffles me. It really does!

Max Payne - Why does this movie exist?

The Women - Apparently a disaster in every regard. Such a shame.

No TV Screenings to list for you this week, although I would like to point out that ABC2 is screening All That Jazz on Saturday night at 8.30. It is the best movie I have ever seen and it'll take a lot to beat for me. I saw an ad for it last night when waiting for Spicks & Specks and, hilariously, they use "All That Jazz" as performed by Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago. Oh, there may be confused people in the audience at some point asking "where's the song?!?" Silly people, they would be.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Year in Advance Oscar Predictions

Oh yes! I generally start thinking about these when the current race gets predictable and boring. Needless to say, the possibilities for 2010 have already crossed my mind. Major props yet again to Kris at InContention for providing a veritable smorgasbord of contenders. And while many of my predictions mirror his, I'm not merely copying.

As you'll notice I am not predicting Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island to be a Best Picture nominee. And that's because if it does get a nomination then that will be four straight Best Picture nominees for the man and not even Clint Eastwood (who I am predicting - *sigh*) has achieved that. Not sure who has, if anyone. Probably someone like John Ford "back in the day".

I really want to be brave and predict Pixar's latest, Up, for Best Picture. Sort of as a culmination of the past two years of extensive buzz added to the fact Up is about an old codger like half of the Academy and it is apparently quite moving and maybe the old farts who deemed a movie about a robot not worthy will actually respond to this one better. But... then I think that Coraline will win Best Animated Feaure due to it being "very good" (apparently), plus Pixar fatigue and through their love of claymation and, as witnessed by their multiple nominations of Hayao Miyazaki, they like rewarding animators who hit it big before the category was made (Henry Sellick directed The Nightmare Before Christmas after all). So... I decided no.

That's all a very long roundabout way of saying: It's going to be more of the same.


BEST PICTURE
An Education
The Informant
Nine
Taking Woodstock
"Untitled Nelson Mandela Project"


BEST DIRECTOR
Lee Daniels, Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire
Clint Eastwood, "Untitled Nelson Mandela Project"
Ang Lee, Finding Woodstock
Rob Marshall, Nine
Lone Scherfig, An Education


Normally I'm not one to jump on festival hype bandwagon, but two things make we lean towards An Education and Precious (previously titled Push). The former is a period film so it has a leg up in that department, and it's director - whilst female - is foreign and... well, that helps. Plus, since Jason Reitman's Juno nomination I don't see why it couldn't land here. Also: They love England. As for Precious... I don't know. I'm just thinking that movie will hit it BIG with critics.

Also: After a couple of misses in 2008 will the Academy embrace Clint Eastwood again? Whatever...

BEST ACTOR
Matt Damon, The Informant
Johnny Depp, Public Enemies
Colin Farrell, Ondine or Triage
Morgan Freeman, "Untitled Nelson Mandela Project"
John Malkovich, Disgrace

Am I crazy for not predcting Daniel Day-Lewis? Just like Scorsese, they've nominated him a lot lately. I'm betting his singing won't cut it (just a fraction).

BEST ACTRESS
Brenda Blethyn, London River
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Michelle Pfeiffer, Cheri
Hilary Swank, Amelia
Emily Watson, Within the Whirlwind

Can I just point out that this year's Best Actress category is looking very thin at this early stage and that I fully expect two of these spots to DEFINITELY WITHOUT A DOUBT be given to something we haven't even heard of yet.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Billy Crudup, Public Enemies
Matt Damon, "Untitled Nelson Mandela Movie"
Alfred Molina, An Education
Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road
Max Von Sydow, Shutter Island


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Penelope Cruz, Nine
Judi Dench, Nine
Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire
Emily Mortimer, Shutter Island
Imelda Staunton, Taking Woodstock

It hurt to not include Patricia Clarkson for either Whatever Works (Woody Allen!) or Shutter Island, but... I can see Nine taking two spots and I figured Taking Woodstock had to get something. Plus, I'm on record for both Mortimer and Mo'Nique.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Richard Curtis, The Boat that Rocked
Pedro Almodovar, Broken Embraces (or some other foreign title we haven't heard about yet)
Judd Apatow, Funny People
Rachid Bouchareb, London River
Bob Peterson, Up

Is it odd that I've predicted a movie called London River to get Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay nominations, the same two nominations that Frozen River got this year? FREAKY!

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Nick Hornby, An Education
Damien Paul, Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire
Laeta Kalogridis, Steven Knight, Shutter Island
James Schamus, Taking Woodstock
Anthony Peckham, "Untitled Nelson Mandela Project"

Can Anthony Minghella get a second posthumous Oscar nomination for Nine. I'm currently not betting on it, but it is Harvey Weinstein after all so I'm sure he'll try!


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Stuart Dryburgh, Amelia
Rodrigo Prieto, Broken Embraces
Dion Beebe, Nine
Javier Aguirresarobe, The Road
Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life


BEST ART DIRECTION
Stephanie Carroll & Gordon Sim, Amelia
Anastasia Masaro, Caroline Smith & Shane Vieau, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus
John Myhre & Gordon Sim, Nine
Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer, Sherlock Holmes
David Gropman & Ellen Christiansen, Taking Woodstock

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Janet Patterson, Bright Star
Unknown, Coco Avant Chanel
Monique Prudhomme, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Unknown, Nine
Sandy Powell, The Tempest

Now here is where it gets a bit tricky. I am going on a theory that Colleen Atwood (the seven-time Oscar nominee and two-time winner) is the costume designer for Nine, even though it is not listed on IMDb. Rob Marshall has assembled the same cinematographer and the same art direction crew for his two films, Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha, so I don't know why now would be any different. So that is why I am not predicting Atwood for Public Enemies. Ugh, confused yet? And considering two of Janet Patterson's three Oscar nominations come from Jane Campion films (and all are within the same era) I think she has a great shot. And if you consider that all three of Julie Taymor's movies (that'd be Titus, Frida and Across the Universe) have received costume nominations I think The Tempest has as good a shot as any. Dr Parnassus is a major contender too, I feel.


BEST EDITING
Stephen Mirrione, The Informant
Unknown, Nine
Thelma Schoonmaker, Shutter Island
Tim Squyres, Taking Woodstock
Joel Cox & Gary Roach, "Untitled Nelson Mandela Project"



BEST MAKE-UP
Nine
The Tempest
The Wolf Man




BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Alexandre Desplat, Cheri
Marvin Hamlisch, The Informant
Elliot Goldenthal, Public Enemies
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, The Road
Michael Giacchino, Up



BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Nine
Nine
The Princess and the Frog
The Princess and the Frog
Up



BEST SOUND
Avatar
Green Zone
Nine
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Up



BEST SOUND EDITING
Avatar
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
The Informant
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Up




BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Avatar
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen




BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Coraline
Monsters Vs Aliens
Ponyo on the Cliff
The Princess and the Frog
Up



BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Canada
France
South Africa
Spain
Switzerland

Monday, February 23, 2009

Some Thoughts on That Awards Show

Yes, today were the 81st Academy Awards and I am very happy. Oh, sure, the Slumdog Millionaire sweep is ridiculous and utterly absurd, but I'm not as actively annoyed by it as I may have been if the show itself wasn't so well produced. Bill Condon did a bang up job when it came to the way it was set up. The stage and the theatre in general looked great. Wonderful colours and use of space, as opposed to the garish emptiness that usually plague them. The Oscars don't need 50ft tall Oscar statues, revolving staircases to nowhere and so much space it takes five minutes to walk across stage to the microphone. I also liked the way the categories flowed together, using the same people and so on. There was a great rhythm to it that only got lost a few times throughout the show.

And then there is Hugh Jackman, who worked a treat. Thankfully the revolving door of comedians slowed down and they let in a true professional entertainer. I hope the Academy keep this team together for next year's ceremony. Keep Jackman, especially, and turn him into something to rely on when all else looks worrisome. No surprises in the winners? You'll tune in to see Jackman. Worried about a dreaded sweep by a movie you don't like? You'll tune in to see Jackman. He was underused at times, but overall he was great. His opening song and dance routine was great - the part about The Reader was particularly hilarious, "The Reader / I haven't seen The Reader" - and even the sure-to-be-maligned Baz Luhrmann piece half way through was nice. Although the "Dancing Queen" stuff was a bit much. Did anybody even notice the Efron/Hudgins/Seyfried/Cooper stuff on stage?

It was great to FINALLY watch an Oscar telecast that was in love with MODERN movies. I don't mind watching movie montages if they're about the year they're there to celebrate, but we don't need yet another montage of Best Picture winners, nor do we need a montage showing off the numerous ways trees have been utilised in cinema or whatever other wacky theme the producers could come up with. Sure, the animation one was useless - showing Space Chimps and Star Wars: Clone Wars, but not Waltz with Bashir or $9.99? - and the comedy one just proved what a dire year for Hollywood comedy 2008 was. Although I did love the Franco/Rogen pair up laughing at Doubt and The Reader. That was funnier than the depressing sight of The Love Guru and Don't Mess With the Zohan on an Oscar telecast. They had no place being there. Why not just show The Hottie and the Nottie?


In regards to the presenting, they were on to another winner. At first the history of Oscar winners presenting the current winner made me unsure, but by the time the lead categories came around it had clicked and it was actually quite moving. It's nice to see actors really express their love for their craft instead of just reading poorly-scripted auto cues (I'm looking at you Zac Efron and Alicia Keys). I also thought it was quite funny how many references to the lack of people seeing the movies. I counted about five jokes, the best was still the weird spandex-clad Reader dancers in the opening dance number. Nobody had seen the movie to tell them it was about the Holocaust (in general) and not a science fiction gym movie. Brilliant stuff.

My favourite non-award moment was Janusz Kaminski's "Suck it Anthony Dod Mantle!" moment on stage with James Franco and Seth Rogen. I wonder who he voted for? Philippe Petit balancing an Oscar on his chin was great too, although considering the man walked a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers in New York, it was probably a piece o' cake. The worst moment was that dreadful medley of Best Original Song nominees. AR Rahman brutally destroying his own songs, turning them into a ghastly mess. John Legend meanwhile is not fit to even be in the same room as Peter Gabriel let alone sing one of his songs. And that moment at the end where Rahman and Legend just warbled over one another like two cat-fighting divas? Excruciating.

Onto the winners though and... well, I guess I'm happy. Obviously I would have preferred Slumdog Millionaire didn't sweep - it won Picture, Director, Screenplay and five technical categories - but even in those wins there are positives to be found. That a man so instrumental in the success of Dogme '95 has now won a Best Cinematography Oscar is quite hilarious, really. And I just hope that Danny Boyle royally screws with all his new-found fans and makes something like Trainspotting, Shallow Grave or a horror title like 28 Days Later.

Sidebar:
Sean Penn really is ridiculously good looking when he scrubs himself up. Really.



The acting wins were all very good though. I'm glad Kate Winslet finally has her Oscar now - and a Lead one at that - and can now just go back to making movies and not have everyone expecting it to be the second coming of Christ. The Heath Ledger moment was beautiful, so glad he won. Also super excited for Academy Award-Winner Penelope Cruz. Excellent stuff there.

I was really glad Sean Penn won, too. As I've said before, I'm not emotionally invested in Mickey Rourke's comeback since I was never around for his initial out of fame. The best speech of the evening, however, went to Penn's Milk writer Dustin Lance Blank. I got choked up, I admit. Emotional and wonderful moment. In fact, I found a lot of the speeches quite fine. Nothing particularly embarrassing and only some of the tech-men from Benjamin Button had boring speeches, which can be excused. I really wish Wall-E had won more than just Best Animated Feature though. That one really stuff. At least it lost Sound Editing to The Dark Knight and not, heaven forbid, Slumdog.


All in all it was a great afternoon watching the awards. Sure, the winners were predictable as hell - I tried for some upsets, alas I failed in all of them - but it was the best show I've seen, probably, since I started watching them. Great energy, great stage, some great winners and a general celebration of cinema in 2008. Case closed.

COMING SOON: When I have time I plan to do a fashion... thing (Angelina as Vampira! That's a biopic I want to see) and predictions for NEXT year's awards. Oh yes. I start early (and then forget them until around January). But who knows when I'll have the time, to be honest.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Final Oscar Predictions

Don't worry about the datestamp. The awards are still a good twelve hours away and for the first time in the history of television (...er) they are actually airing here live! Usually we have to wait until 8.30 and by that stage I've had to avoid the winners with varying levels of success. Although nothing will ever trump the time when the network spoiled Halle Berry's Best Actress win mere minutes before it aired. Silly goats.

I am wondering what the show will bring up. I so hope Hugh Jackman doesn't embarrass himself. And I hope they don't throw him under the bus when the ratings continue to slide further into the gutter. Especially since the reason is quite obvious: The Dark Knight. But enough people have discussed that at length so I'm not going to. Let's just get this over and done with, okay.

BEST PICTURE
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
Milk
The Reader
Slumdog Millionair

WILL WIN: Slumdog Millionaire
SHOULD WIN: Milk
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Frozen River

BEST DIRECTOR
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant, Milk
Stephen Daldry, The Reader
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire

WILL WIN: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
SHOULD WIN: Gus Van Sant, Milk
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Courtney Hunt, Frozen River

BEST ACTOR
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

WILL WIN: Sean Penn, Milk
SHOULD WIN: Sean Penn, Milk
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Colin Farrell, In Bruges

I'm guessing Penn because a) he plays a real person and b) Rourke reminds me of Nick Nolte in 1998. Troubled actor in career best turn loses out to vibrant socially important piece. In this case I actually think Penn deserves it. Alas, I wasn't around for Rourke's career rise and fall so his comeback isn't really that important to me. Hence, a whole lot of the oomph of his campaign is lost on me.

BEST ACTRESS
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, The Reader

WILL WIN: Kate Winslet, The Reader
SHOULD WIN: Melissa Leo, Frozen River
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Anna Faris, The House Bunny (er, I am not joking)

Yet again Kate Winslet gives an excellent performance... and yet there is just someone better above her, which is the way it has been for every one of her six nominations except for one. Although in that one year - 2004 for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - she wouldn't win my Gold UMA. Poor Kate.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey Jr, Tropic Thunder
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road

WILL WIN: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SHOULD WIN: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: James Franco and Emile Hirsch, Milk

I feel sorry for whoever it is that, in some travesty, steals this statue away from Ledger. That. Would. Be. Awkward.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, Doubt
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler

WILL WIN: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
SHOULD WIN: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Lena Olin, The Reader

PLEASE, Academy! Give the statue to Pene. It's so rare that you get the chance to give an Oscar to somebody who is not only at the true peak of their career, but also for a role that is totally deserving and one that nobody would begrudge. Don't make the same mistake with Penelope that you have done with so many and take her for granted by giving her nominations and then wondering why, in twenty years, why she doesn't have a statue.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky
Martin McDonough, In Bruges
Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon & Pete Docter, Wall-E

WILL WIN: Wall-E
SHOULD WIN: umm... they're all so good! I'll be happy with any.
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Woody Allen, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

I'm choosing Wall-E... no real reason as to why I think it'll trump Milk, just... 'cause.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Eric Roth & Robin Swicord, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley, Doubt
Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon
David Hare, The Reader
Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire

WILL WIN: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
SHOULD WIN: David Hare, The Reader
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Gus Van Sant, Paranoid Park

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Tom Stern, Changeling
Claudio Miranda, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight
Chris Menges & Roger Deakins, The Reader
Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire

WILL WIN: Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight
SHOULD WIN: Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Mandy Walker, Australia

It is foolhardy to not predict Slumdog in everything it's nominated for, but... I just don't want to.

BEST ART DIRECTION
James J. Murakami (art director); Gary Fettis (set decorator), Changeling
Donald Graham Burt (art director); Victor J. Zolfo (set decorator), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Nathan Crowley (art director); Peter Lando (set decorator), The Dark Knight
Michael Carlin (I) (art director); Rebecca Alleway (set decorator), The Duchess
Kristi Zea (art director); Debra Schutt (set decorator), Revolutionary Road

WILL WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
SHOULD WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Catherine Martin, Speed Racer

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Catherine Martin, Australia
Jacqueline West, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Michael O'Connor, The Duchess
Danny Glicker, Milk
Albert Wolsky, Revolutionary Road

WILL WIN: Jacqueline West, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
SHOULD WIN: Catherine Martin, Australia
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Patricia Field, Sex and the City: The Movie

I'm going with Button over the more traditional Duchess duds. I just think voters will think the movie with 13 nominations probably deserves this more than the movie whose costumes have been rewarded the past two years under different names (Marie Antoinette and Elizabeth: The Golden Age). Plus, it sorta does deserve it. Would be great if they could pull a Marie Antoinette and give the prize to a movie that nobody apparently likes (hah!) in the form of Australia.

BEST EDITING
Richard King, The Dark Knight
Lee Smith, The Dark Knight
Mike Hill & Daniel Hanley, Frost/Nixon
Elliot Graham, Milk
Chris Dickins, Slumdog Millionaire

WILL WIN: Chris Dickins, Slumdog Millionaire
SHOULD WIN: Elliot Graham, Milk
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: I'm content with this group. The four contenders I would choose to possibly be inserted in were not eligible.

BEST MAKE-UP
Greg Cannom, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Caglione Jr & Conor O'Sullivan, The Dark Knight
Mike Elizalde & Thomas Floutz, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

WILL WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
SHOULD WIN: I'll say The Dark Knight
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: The Wrestler

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Alexandre Desplat, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
James Newton Howard, Defiance
Danny Elfman, Milk
AR Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
Thomas Newman, Wall-E

WILL WIN: AR Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
SHOULD WIN: Thomas Newman, Wall-E
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Nico Muhly, The Reader

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
"Down to Earth", Wall-E
"Jai Ho", Slumdog Millionaire
"O...Saya", Slumdog Millionaire

WILL WIN: "Jai Ho"
SHOULD WIN: "O... Saya"
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: "The Wrestler", The Wrestler - duh

BEST SOUND MIXING
David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce & Mark Weingarten, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ed Novick, Lora Hirschberg & Gary Rizzo, The Dark Knight
Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke & Resul Pookutty, Slumdog Millionaire
Tom Myers, Michael Semanick & Ben Burtt, Wall-E
Chris Jenkins, Frank A. MontaƱo & Petr Forejt, Wanted

WILL WIN: Slumdog Millionaire
SHOULD WIN: Wall-E
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Paranoid Park

I had totally forgotten Wanted had ever been released, let alone was a two-time Oscar nominee.

BEST SOUND EDITING
Richard King, The Dark Knight
Frank E. Eulner & Christopher Boyes, Iron Man
Tom Sayers, Slumdog Millionaire
Ben Burtt & Matthew Wood, Wall-E
Wylie Stateman, Wanted

WILL WIN: Wall-E
SHOULD WIN: Wall-E
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Australia

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton & Craig Barron, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Timothy Webber & Paul J. Franklin, The Dark Knight
John Nelson, Ben Snow, Daniel Sudick & Shane Mahan, Iron Man

WILL WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
SHOULD WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Speed Racer

Isn't it the rule that if there is a Best Picture contender (ie; a movie defined as "good") then it wins this category? I think so. AND WHERE IS SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE? :P

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Bolt
Kung-Fu Panda
Wall-E

WILL WIN: Wall-E
SHOULD WIN: Wall-E
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: N/A

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Baader Meinhoff Complex (Germany)
The Class (France)
Departures (Japan)
Ravanche (Australia)
Waltz with Bashir (Israel)

WILL WIN: The Class (but Waltz with Bashir is the "obvious" choice)
SHOULD WIN: N/A
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Up the Yangtze

BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM
The Betrayal - Nerakhoon
Encounters at the End of the World
The Garden
Man On Wire
Trouble the Water

WILL WIN: Man on Wire
SHOULD WIN: N/A
SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER: Up the Yangtze

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
The Conscience of Nhem En
The Final Inch
Smile Pinki
The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306

WILL WIN: The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Maison en petits cubes, La
Ubornaya istoriya - lyubovnaya istoriya
Oktapodi
Presto
This Way Up

WILL WIN: Maison en petits cubes, La

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
Auf der Strecke
Manon sur le bitume
New Boy
Grisen
Spielzeugland

WILL WIN: Spielzeugland

~-~

And that's that. We'll see how I go later today, shall we?

"Wanna wrestle?"

Saturday, February 21, 2009

National Day of Mourning

I'm not sure I quite get the idea of a "national day of mourning" since nothing brings out the compassion in people quite like the bushfire tragedy right here in my home state and anyone with a heard has been mourning the loss of these people and places since it began two weeks ago. But, a day of mourning it is and who am I to put blogging about the Oscars (or what have you) ahead of that? You may very well see my Oscar predictions pop up towards the end of the night, but for the majority of today I think the blog will stay quiet.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Now Presenting: The AMAZING Pet Shop boys

How fuckin' EPIC is this?



Oh man, The Pet Shop Boys are brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. This performance at the Brit Awards this past week is just out of this world amazing, isn't it? A medley of a whole bunch of their hits from "West End Girls" to "I'm With Stupid" to "It's a Sin" and so on. Of course, Lady GaGa and her travelling circus had to show up and potentially ruin things. Did you know she doesn't know who Girls Aloud are? POP BLASPHEMY! Someone needs to tell her that she is not Dusty Springfield and should never try, mmkay?! Ugh. That "avant garde" shit is odd. And, to be honest, just placing your robot arm in a weird pose doesn't actually make you avant guard. It just makes you weird.

The performance as a whole, however, is still brilliant.

Dead (f)o(u)r Alive


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Slumdog Costume-aire

Let it be known that Suttirat Anne Larlab won the Costume Design Guild's prize for Excellence in Costume Design (Contemporary) and beat the follow contenders:

Iron Man (Laura Jean Shannon and Rebecca Bentjen)
Mamma Mia! (Ann Roth)
Sex and the City: The Movie (Patricia Field)
The Wrestler (Amy Westcott)

While I can understand Iron Man and The Wrestler being passed over somewhat (although the latter was definitely superior to Slumdog - that green jacket!) I actually do continue to find it bizarre that a movie like Slumdog Millionaire, as loved as it is, could be seen as having better costume design as Sex and the City: The Movie or Mamma Mia! Yes, the latter is hated by many but at least the costumes were fun and fit the movie to a tee and I've already spoken of the former.

And then you have to realise that they didn't even bother to nominate Jacqueline Durran's character-defining work on Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky, Sonia Grande's bright and summery details for Vicky Cristina Barcelona or, yes, Mona May's funny House Bunny work. Hell, what about Catherine Marie Thomas and her duds for 27 Dresses especially since the costumes were such an integral part of the film. And, technically, I don't even see how The Dark Knight classifies as "fantasy" (a category that it won) when it's clearly a contemporary costume piece. Apart from the Batsuit itself what is there that is fantastical about it? The outfit that The Joker wears is hardly that far removed from general modern day fashion.

Thankfully the contemporary television category went to Ugly Betty. Ya know, a contemporary piece that actually has a costume designer that plays a major part to the film's success. Unlike Larlarb who I can't imagine really had much input outside of "you look really good in yellow!"

In the period category The Duchess won, which is fine and all, but seems like a waste if the Academy also give it the prize since they've awarded that movie for two years in a row under different names (Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Marie Antoinette) so it would be nice to see Jacqueline West (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) or Catherine Martin (Australia) take home the Oscar for a little something different. I hardly think Albert Wolsky (Revolutionary Road) and Danny Glicker (Milk) have much chance to take home the statue so they should be happy with their nominations.

Basically it was all one big fuck up from the get go.

This Week on Australian Screens

Cinema Releases for the Week 18/02/09

Frozen River - Courtney Hunt's two time Oscar-nominated movie is screening exclusively at Nova here in Melbourne and, surely, some other places around the country. Do yourself a favour and please please please go and see it! It's excellent. It's the most organic and original thriller I've seen in a while and, smartly, you barely even realise it's a "thriller" until it's all over and you notice your pulse has skyrocketed. Seriously, it's the best film of 2008 that I have seen.

The International - I didn't even know this Clive Owen/Naomi Watts thriller (ahem, read above) was being released this week. How odd.

Passengers - Poor Anne Hathaway! Just a week after her triumphant (apparently, I have yet to see it) Rachel Getting Married gets released so too does this borderline direct-to-DVD affair get a release. The one with the really bad poster designs.

The Reader - I am a Stephen Daldry fan. I am also a Kate Winslet fan. I am going to see this later today. I probably could have held off until later, but since it got nominated for Best Picture and since I really really wanted to see it beforehand I'm going to get to it ASAP.

Zach and Miri Make a Porno - I saw this a few months ago and like a lot of Kevin Smith movies it was going alright until the weird sentimentality kicked in and it all turned to shite. Nevertheless, my affection for Seth Rogan continues on it's merry way. Why is that, I wonder? Elizabeth Banks is kind of wonderful too, but she's let down by the atrocious final act.

DVD Releases for the Week 18/02/09

Babylon AD - Hilariously being released as a "Harder Cut" on DVD, whatever that is, despite being listed as three minutes SHORTER. This now infamous movie stars Vin Diesel and Michelle Yeoh (for some reason). Poor Mathieu Kassovitz. Maybe this'll make him go back to France and make another La Haine instead of crap like this or Gothika. Just maybe... Although if they ever release the 160 MINUTE VERSION I could perhaps feign interest.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay - More high-larious (see what I did there?) antics from the pot smoking fellas.

My Best Friend's Girl - Dane Cook. Kate Hudson. The dude from American Pie. That's all you need to know. No wonder Hudson is taking a year off from making movies. She probably just realised how bad they have all been (except the upcoming Nine, hopefully).

The Tender Hook - Oh man, how bad is this movie? Answer: Very. I was initially merely nonplussed by the whole affair, but things have changed. Like discovering it was made for $7mil+. Which, since nobody will ever see this movie who doesn't live in Australia, is like Titanic looking like The Blair Witch Project as a comparative.

TV Screenings for the Week 18/02/09

19/02/09, L'Idole (2002), SBS, 11.10PM - I wanted to see this way back when it was released, but then I forgot all about it and never kept up with what was being released on DVD when. Stars Leelee Sobieski and is directed by Samantha Lang who made the stunning Aussie film The Well.

21/02/09, The Last Picture Show (1971), ABC2, 8.30PM - Fantastic Peter Dogdanovich movie starring Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybil Shepherd, Ellen Burstyn and, in their Oscar winning performances, Cloris Leachman and Ben Johnson.

22/12/09, Twin Sisters (2002), SBS, 9.30PM - Dutch movie that was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, set during WWII (naturally).

24/02/09, The Times of Harvey Milk (1984), SBS, 10.00PM - If you watch only one movie this week then make it this one! It is so very very good!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lily! Allen! Is! Number! One!

Something is right with the world because Lily Allen's It's Not Me, It's You debuted at #1 on the ARIA chart yesterday. If it weren't only February I would probably be harping on and on about it being the album of the year. Alas, even I can't go that far. Nevertheless, congrats to Lily. She totally deserved this.

This is my second favourite track off the album, "Back to the Start". Nothing quite beats "Everyone's At It", does it?

When Bad Posters Strike: Hannah Montana: The Movie

Look, I don't go about my day seeking to find movie posters with the same crappy design aesthetic. They literally just appear in my Facebook inbox (thanks to James Henry, THANKS A LOT). It's actually quite disheartening to know that people think I am so predictable.

Alas, I am.

When I saw this poster for Hannah Montana: The Movie is literally screamed. Thankfully my flat mate wasn't home at the time. This is just so god damn maddening. Can't these designers who get paid a pretty penny to design the images that sell us movies come up with something at least a tiny bit original. Is that just so hard? It's so dispiriting to see this same movie poster recreated over and over and over and over and over (and over) again. It really is.


And not just the wretched stripey disease that is infecting more and more lazy key art designers by the day, but there's also the fact that it also acts as a lazy way of designing the soundtrack album cover. And then there's the tacky cross-promotion tag line, which might as well read "go by The Best of Both Worlds on DVD now" and the strange horse riding backdrop that looks like an old painted poster (never a bad thing, but out of place here).

Also, I hate the fringe. Especially with those eyebrows. Oh lordy.

Nevertheless, it could be worse. It's certainly better than that dreadful poster for Jonas Brothers: The 3D Experience. That one will be hard to top.

Of All The Movies In All The World...

I was in Readings on Lygon St this past Sunday and whilst perusing through the sales section I came across a book. A book that horrified me so deeply that a shudder shook through me to my very core. "WHY?!?" I screamed. "Oh all the movies to release a book about, why..."

Miss Potter, of course!


And if you would like to purchase The Making of Miss Potter: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion by Garth Pearce then you can do so at Amazon (alas, with different art work).

If you can't quite make out how much the sticker says this (priceless, I would think) luminary tome is worth, it is going for $14.95. Considering there was a book on queer cinema poster art going for just a dollar more, I think you can tell which book I would have preferred to purchase.




Sunday, February 15, 2009

Before/After

Here are two photographs I took of the Melbourne skyline on my mobile phone from my bedroom window yesterday (Sunday) at around 7pm. This is what it normally looks like when I look out my window. Lovely, isn't it? Click them to view them much larger.



However, here is what it looked like just seven hours earlier.



And it's basically the same today. Still, not was bad as it was on Friday when the sky was this revolting yellowy brown colour and the smell was, at times, overpowering. There are people walking around with face masks on! Crazy.