Tag Archive: benjamin button


Best Picture

 

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Here are the nominees for Best Picture of the Year…

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Milk
  • The Reader
  • Slumdog Millionaire

What could happen:  Somebody could look at me with a straight face and tell me how The Dark Knight wasn’t one of the five best films to come out in the past 12 months!  OK, now that I got that off my chest, let’s look at what else could happen.  The Reader and Frost/Nixon; anchored by Academy Award nominated performances, but no real chance of winning the Big One.  Milk?  I loved Penn’s performance and thought the movie was well made overall.  Does the Academy still have guilt over picking Crash over Brokeback Mountain a few years back?  Wait, let me rephrase that, does the Academy have guilt for picking Crash over Brokeback Mountain a few years back?  Honestly don’t know the answer to that one.  Benjamin Button?  I’m not the first one to mention this, but from behind the scenes credits to character archetypes to love/hate relationship, this movie shares a lot in common with Forrest Gump.  But unless I’m mistaken, Forrest Gump kicked Pulp Fiction to the curb, so it wouldn’t be the first time this type of movie won out.  The counter to that argument though, is that an even bigger crowd pleaser has been the front runner throughout awards season, Slumdog Millionaire.

What should happen:  If I had a vote, it’d be going to either Milk or Slumdog.  Film geek that I am, my first question is always, ‘Which picture will still be as watchable in five years, if not longer?’  Since The Dark Knight isn’t nominated (OK, OK, I’m sorry about that.  I’m really done this time) that knocked out the other three films nominated for me personally. The (very good) problem is, I think I could make case for either of the two films left.  For an ‘outsider’ like myself, Milk was both an entertaining and informative introduction to the life of Harvey Milk and a snapshot of the fight for gay rights in California in the 70s (which also turned out to be extremely timely for those of us who watch this play out in the Golden State today).  At the time I saw Slumdog, it was one of those ‘word of mouth’ films that I heard so many good things about I was positive it couldn’t be that good.  When I came out of the theater, the first film that I thought it reminded me of was Singin In the Rain.   Like my favorite musical, it was just one of those simple stories told so well that I was aware almost from frame one how much I was just enjoying myself watching the story play out.  I have no idea how many thousands of movies I’ve watched at this point, but that is beyond rare for me personally.

Who I’m cheering for:  This has been a little bit of a weird season watching who wins what award from what group, but it will be a mild surprise if Slumdog doesn’t complete its frontrunner status and take home Best Picture. 

Well, I guess you know what I’ll be watching Sunday night…

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Best Actor

 

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Here are the nominees for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture:

  • Richard Jenkins in ‘The Visitor’
  • Frank Langella in ‘Frost/Nixon’
  • Sean Penn in ‘Milk’
  • Brad Pitt in ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
  • Mickey Rourke in ‘The Wrestler’

What Could Happen:  This is probably, probably a two man race.  Sean Penn has won quite a few awards for his performance as Harvey Milk, and he’s won an Oscar in recent memory (Mystic River, probably my favorite Clint Eastwood film).  In the other corner is Mickey Rourke, this year’s ‘feel good/comeback’ story, for his performance in The Wrestler.  Another performance I enjoyed immensely by the way.  The irony in this category though…

What Should Happen:  is my favorite Lead Actor performance listed here is the one put in by Frank Langella playing Richard Nixon.  Frost/Nixon wasn’t a film I was dying to see, but once I got into it, I was immediately drawn in by Langella’s performance.  He’s already won a Tony for playing the same role, but that shouldn’t take away from how well he transitioned his performance from stage to screen. 

Who I’m Cheering For:  I’m sure I’m one of many who wouldn’t mind seeing a win from Penn, Langella, or Rourke.  Penn proved (again) how he can disappear into a character and make it his own; Langella took one of the most unpopular Presidents in American history, and made him a sympathetic flawed human being; and Rourke famously drew from his own career missteps to portray a past his glory days legend trying to stay relevant in a young man’s game.  If I have to choose among the three, I’ll roll with Penn.  From the outside looking in, the character he played seems the least like ‘Sean Penn’ or the characters I normally associate with him (i.e. super machismo man’s man).

 

 

Best Supporting Actress

 

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Here are the nominees for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:

  • Amy Adams in ‘Doubt’
  • Penelope Cruz in ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’
  • Viola Davis in ‘Doubt’
  • Taraji P. Henson in ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
  • Marisa Tomei in ‘The Wrestler’

What may happen:  The people who love ‘Doubt’ may split the vote between Viola Davis and Amy Adams, opening the door for one of the other three ladies.  It’s also possible (but less likely) that voters may want a ‘sister’ to win and split votes between Taraji and Viola.  Either way, it doesn’t look good for Viola Davis (who did a hell of a job in a few scenes, worth checking out).

Who will probably win: Hmmmmmm.  This is usually the ‘unpredictable’ category.  I could see a case for Penelope or Taraji, but it would be ‘Oscar-style’ to give Marisa Tomei a second Oscar (to prove the first one wasn’t an ‘accident’ – classic urban legend, look it up if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

Who I’ll be cheering for:  Taraji.  ‘Benjamin Button’ wasn’t my favorite movie this year, but not because I didn’t enjoy Taraji’s performance.  The sister can act man, and she added a lot to what was probably written as a one-note character.  And you know she’d give a hell of a speech if given the chance.

 

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In no particular order…

I overlooked Viola Davis (Doubt) during the Golden Globes, so let me start by saying I’m glad that sister got nominated.  But I’m really, really happy for Taraji P. Henson.  She’s moving up quickly and she more than deserves the attention.

I usually don’t cover documentaries in my predictions, but I checked out this flick called Man On Wire last week and really enjoyed it.  I see it’s up for Best Documentary and suggest it if you haven’t seen it.  It’s the story of this French kid who dreamed of tightrope walking between the Twin Towers, and ended up doing it in the 70s.  It reminded of one of my favorite movie lines (from Vanilla Sky), “What is life if not the pursuit of a dream?”

I don’t even think I’ve even verbalized this to my partner in crime, but one of my ‘super duper’ Hollywood dreams would be to host the Oscars one day.  It’s a thankless job, the biggest stage in town on the biggest night (a perfect marriage with my ambitious side).  And it’s a short list of ‘us’ who’s ever had the chance: Sammy, Richard Pryor (as co-hosts), Chris Rock, and of course Whoopi.  You have to be comfortable in a tux, you have to be acceptable to the mainstream, and you have to keep the show moving.  Who knows, maybe our new president made that dream a little more realistic for me someday.

The Dark Knight got eight nominations, including one for Heath for Best Supporting Actor.  But no Best Picture nomination, no nomination for Christopher Nolan for Best Director.  Eh, moving on…

I’ve got a few more movies to see, but I won’t be reviewing them here on the blog.  For now all I can say is stay tuned…

My Golden Globe Pics

 

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Alright gang, the Globes is this weekend, and as you can probably guess, I’ve seen almost every nominated film and performance.  Here are my picks for the film categories:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Comedy or Musical

I could make a case for Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia (the biggest hit) or Emma Thompson in Last Chance Harvey  (solid as always), but I’m going with Frances McDormand in Burn After Reading.  With Clooney, Pitt, and Malkovich all hamming it up, McDormand brought the comedy more through mannerisms and behavior than over the top theatrics.  Well played.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy or Musical

Not even his best work this year in my opinion, but I’m going with James Franco in Pineapple Express.  I’ve said this before, but at a pretty young age he’s shown a) range, b) he takes his craft seriously, and c) no real love affair with being a ‘celebrity.’  My kind of actor.

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

If this were the People’s Choice Awards I’d easily choose Mamma Mia, but instead I’m taking Burn After Reading.  A tightly written genre piece by the Coen brothers, that’s pedigree enough without the all star cast. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

At this point, we know Penelope Cruz can be more than a pretty face.  Doubt is a good movie, but I keep hearing it’s better on the stage where it originated.  Call me biased, but I say Kate Winslet for the Reader.  With all due respect to the other four actresses in this category (and I admire and respect all of them, they were great), I feel with some rewriting Kate Winslet could play the characters that they’re nominated for.  But watch the Reader, no one else on this list could play that role but Winslet.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

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I think you and I are destined to do this forever.  (sigh…)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Jolie, Streep, Winslet…there are some heavyweights in this category.  I’d cast my vote for Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married.  She’s been around so I don’t want to use the word ‘breakthrough’, but she definitely wasn’t playing the glamour girl in this role.  The Globes are more of the ‘feel good’ awards, and the timing would be perfect.  Speaking of feel good…

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Frank Langella is my dark horse here for Frost/Nixon, and in my opinion, Sean Penn as Harvey Milk was the best performance of the year.  But this is a ‘who I think will win’ column, and all signs point to Mickey Rourke for the Wrestler.  I didn’t bring as much of his past into the theatre with me as most people, but I still thought it was a great performance.  Now I’m hearing he’ll co-star in Iron Man 2.  Got to love Hollywood…

Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Motion Picture – Drama

If you want to see a fun, politics free, well crafted movie, Slumdog Millionaire is the way to go.  Written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Danny Boyle, Slumdog is way, WAY lighter than its competition (Frost/Nixon, Benjamin Button, Reader, Revolutionary Road).  And the way things are in the real world right now, that lightness is the perfect tonic.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is nominated for several Golden Globes, including Best Screenplay, Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director (for David Fincher), and Best Actor (Brad Pitt).  With that pedigree, you can rest assured Benjamin Button is one of the surefire Oscar picks for this year.  The story is about an ‘odd’ man named Benjamin Button who ages in reverse; he’s born as a withered newborn and regresses into youth.  The effects are impressive, but I’ll focus on the performances:

Taraji P. Henson: Playing Benjamin’s adoptive mother Queenie, Taraji (hopefully) is starting to get some of the crossover respect she rightfully deserves.  She was named one of Variety’s “10 Actors to Watch” this year, but if you’ve seen Baby Boy, Talk to Me, or Hustle and Flow to name a few, you’ve known for awhile the sister can act.  She hasn’t had a true ‘headliner’ role just yet, but somebody smart will give her the chance.

Cate Blanchett: She’s already got an Oscar to back it up, but a quick recap of her recent roles, shall we?  A convincing Katherine Hepburn (the Aviator), a convincing Bob Dylan (I’m Not There), and in this film she goes from playing a young ballerina in her 20s to a dying woman on her deathbed, with all the various ages in between.  I’m personally more of a Kate Winslet fan, but this woman right here is why Kate doesn’t have an Oscar.  For my money I’d say she’s the most talented actor in the game right now, male or female.

Brad Pitt:  More than ever, I’d say to succeed in this Industry you have to know how to play to your strengths and know your ‘brand’ (this message brought to you by malikaziz.com).  Is Brad Pitt one of the best actors in the game today?  Eh…  Is he one of, if not the best movie star in the world today?  Well, you tell me.  Paparazzi target?  (Check.)  Movie star girlfriend? (Check.)  ‘Good guy’ image? (Check.)  In Benjamin Button, Pitt plays the title character as more of an observer to his life instead of a catalyst.  He uses a slight Southern accent, but not strong enough to be distracting.  Can Brad play over the top?  Sure (the slightly underrated Snatch, Exhibit A.)  But playing to his strengths means playing to his looks and not trying to do too much.  I don’t know if he was the Best Actor of 2008, but I won’t complain too loud if he does end up winning. 

The movie runs 3 hours, and was written by the same guy who wrote Forrest Gump.  As I was watching this, that movie came to mind more than a few times.  If you’re looking for a traditional ‘David Fincher’ film (Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac), um, you might want to sit this one out.  But it’s a nice family film, a decent holiday film. When Hollywood does big budget right.  Overall, PROPS for this one from me.