Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reacting to the Oscar® Nominations

Like any faithful movie addict, I got up early this morning to watch the televised announcements of the 81st Annual Academy Award nominations. And, as usual, I’m happy about some of the nods as well as surprised by others and disappointed concerning worthy candidates who didn’t make the final lists.

In the Best Picture category, I’m delighted to see Slumdog Millionaire among the five competing films. The four other movies are downers, but Slumdog focuses on the triumph of an underdog while offering viewers adventure, suspense and romance. I hope it wins the Oscar! And I feel the same way about WALL-E being nominated as Best Animated Picture. It should definitely end up as the winner of this category.

Nominations for Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) and for Angelina Jolie (Changeling) in the Best Lead acting categories also pleased me. Jenkins delivered a deeply felt, low-key performance that deserves recognition, and Jolie simply transformed herself into a single mother who is frantic when her young son goes missing. Robert Downey Jr. receiving a nod for his very funny work in Tropic Thunder makes me smile, but he has no chance of a win against Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight.

The biggest surprise to me came when 13 nominations were handed out for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a gloomy film I found extremely difficult to watch. More surprises? Sally Hawkins (Happy-G0-Lucky) missing in the Best Actress list and Clint Eastwood snubbed as Best Actor for Gran Torino. I thought they were shoo-ins to be nominated.

I am very sad that so many of my favorites failed to earn nominations this year. Why no love for Michelle Williams in Wendy and Lucy? Or for Frances McDormand in Burn After Reading? Or for Brad Pitt also in Burn After Reading? Although included in the Best Actor noms for Benjamin Button, Pitt gave a much better performance as the goofy gym guy in that hilarious dark comedy from the Coen Brothers. But my biggest disappointment of all came as I realized my favorite 2008 movie, Mamma Mia, had been shut out completely.

Despite these disappointments, I look forward to viewing the televised 81st Annual Academy Awards Ceremony scheduled for Sunday, February 22.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Big Night for Kate and Slumdog

I always watch the televised Golden Globes Awards show from beginning to end – and last night was no exception. As usual, the evening included some surprises. Kate Winslet’s win in two categories was not expected, especially considering the strong competition for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Kate seemed surprised also – and her acceptance speeches reflected that. She even said, “I’m sorry!” when arriving on stage for her second award. Surprised or not, I’m sure Kate’s brilliant work in Revolutionary Road and The Reader deserve recognition.

And talking about surprises, who thought Slumdog Millionaire would take away four Golden Globes and win Best Picture over Doubt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Frost/Nixon? But I’m very happy it did. Slumdog is a unique film with all the best dramatic elements movies can offer, including romance, adventure, suspense, and triumph of an underdog.

The posthumous award given to Heath Ledger for his amazing portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight was a sure thing as soon as the nominations came out – as was the WALL-E win for Best Animated Film. If you’re a gambler, don’t bet against Ledger or WALL-E in the upcoming Oscar race.

Colin Farrell, who won for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy (In Bruges), delivered the most thoughtful and articulate acceptance speech while Sally Hawkins gave the worst speech I’ve ever heard in accepting her award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy (Happy-Go-Lucky).

Glamour definitely filled the air last night at the Golden Globes. Most of the stars looked great, and my favorite, Johnny Depp (be still my heart), actually showed up to present one of the awards.

Next up? The 2009 Academy Awards! As a confirmed movie addict, I can hardly wait.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

As a film critic, here are my New Year’s resolutions for 2009:

1. Be nicer to Penelope Cruz. During 2008, this busy actress earned considerable acclaim for her work in Elegy and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, so I hope to see these two movies – and maybe even rave about her for a change.

2. See more foreign language films. After watching Let the Right One In, a haunting Swedish vampire film, I can’t help wondering how many other terrific films from different areas of the world I’m missing.

3. Stop complaining about so many bad movies. Why? Because these flicks make us appreciate excellent films even more.

4. Be more objective about Johnny Depp, Hugh Jackman and Antonio Banderas. Hey, I’m only human. This will be the most difficult resolution to keep, but I’ll try.

Happy New Year, movie fans!

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