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Oscar Nominees 2010

I know I am totally behind on my analysis of this year’s Oscar Nominations — my friend James calls me the king of day old new lately — but Greta is about midway through her first winter cold, and, wow, what an all-consuming adventure that has been. Seriously, I’ve never seen so much snot…

And, ironically enough, that kinda describes how I feel about this year’s crop of nominees. I mean, there were a few cool surprises (Maggie Gyllenhaal earning her first nod for “Crazy Heart” and the always-deserving Jeremy Renner pulling an upset Best Actor nod for “The Hurt Locker”) but overall, most of the big award-magnet movies this year left me pretty cold.

“Up in the Air” was a total snooze, I really dug the ladies in that movie — both of whom scored well-deserved Supporting Actress nods — but I kinda hated George Clooney’s character and the too-cool glibness of the script sealed my hatred of the film. Same thing with “Precious”. Mo’Nique and Gabourey Sidibe were fantastic and deserve every award that comes their way, but the movie itself was a glorified (if R-rated) after-school special. Snooze…

The Coen Brother’s latest outing “A Serious Man” was another one of their crazy, impenetrable disappointments. Seriously, does anyone know what the hell that movie is about? I sure don’t, and I’ve watched parts of it twice! The fact that this shiny turd of a movie scored a Best Screenplay nod and a Best Picture nomination makes me think the Academy sees the brother’s names on the ballot every year and just checks them off out of habit. I mean, come on, guys, you don’t  have to nominate EVERY movie they make! Urgh…

Now, with my least favorite nominess out of the way, let me get to the movies I did love. “Inglorious Basterds” was freaking amazing. Not only did it look great, but the cast rocked — the insanely-good Christoph Waltz is a lock to win Best Supporting Actor and he totally deserves it! — and the script was incredible. Tense, dramatic and funny as hell, “Basterds” is probably Tarantino’s best movie so far, and being a QT fan from way back, that is really saying something.

Also loved Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side” and was thrilled to see the movie recognized in the Best Picture category as well. I told Christine after we saw it that if there was any justice in the world, “The Blind Side” would be nominated for Best Picture, and, well, I guess justice ruled supreme on Tuesday. I kid you not, amigos, this is one the best Hollywood movies in years, so, congrats to everyone involved.

Also very glad to see Jeff Bridges in the race again for “Crazy Heart”. Bridges has served his time, and unless Renner pulls a major Adrien Brody-style upset, he is totally gonna win Best Actor this year. Bridges didn’t just play that character, he WAS that character. Awesome, awesome work!

Scoring her 16th nomination this year, Meryl Streep positively soared as Julia Child in “Julie & Julia”, and is probably the only genuine competition Sandra Bullock has in the Best Actress race. I’m hoping for another tie, but, barring that…it’s gonna be a squeaker.

Glad to see the Academy finally giving sci-fi some respect this year as well. I haven’t seen “District 9” yet, but the fact that a little indie geekfest like that scored so many nods — including those for Best Picture and Screenplay! — is very exciting for a sci-fi geek like me! Go, aliens!

And speaking of sci-fi, I gotta hand it to nutty old James Cameron, man, “Avatar” was incredible. Unlike the rest of the world, I hadn’t seen the movie until last night, and I was completely blown away.

I was so prepared to hate those freaky, blue bastards, but, wow, was I wrong. “Avatar” has more heart and soul in it’s weakest parts than several of the other nominees combined. And the effects? Gorgeous! Trust me, you have never seen anything like this movie before, and though it will face some stiff competition from “The Hurt Locker” in most of the major categories, I have a feeling “Avatar” will break the sci-fi curse by winning Best Picture. Yep, it’s that good.

Ooo…also very excited to see Stanley Tucci finally joining the Oscar Nominee club with his creepy turn as a murderous pedophile in “The Lovely Bones”. I really loved the movie and even though it was pretty much shut out everywhere else, was very glad to hear Tucci’s named called on Tuesday morning. Same thing with Tucci’s fellow first-time nominee, Christopher Plummer.

Yes, you read that correctly…Captain Von Trapp himself has never been nominated for an Oscar. Shocking, huh? And, even though I hear “The Last Station” is a total snoozefest, I gotta say, rock on Mr. Edelweiss!

And finally, though I have yet to see it, I was very pleased to see “An Education” score not only a Best Picture nomination, but also a Screenplay nod for Nick Hornby! Hornby is one of my favorite novelist, so, I’m guessing the script rocks. But either way, kudos to you, Señor Hornby!

To see the complete printable list of this year’s Oscar Nominees, click here. And, as always, dying to hear what you guys think of the nominated movies and such, so, fire away!

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2010 Golden Globe Nominees

With Greta teething like crazy, no one in our household has been getting much sleep lately. So, since I was still awake at 4:30AM this morning, I figured I may as well stay up to watch the Golden Globe Nominations at 5:00AM. I mean, what’s another half hour at that point, huh?

Well, apparently the Hollywood Foreign Press is as punctual as I am, because, even though their website said the nominations would begin at 5:00AM PST, they didn’t actually get to the good stuff till 5:37AM!! And trust me, trying to stay awake for those last 37 minutes sucked ass. Jesus, get it together, HFPA!

Anyway, there weren’t a whole lot of surprises this year on the movie side, except for the near total snubs of “The Lovely Bones”, “The Road” and “Where The Wild Things Are” — but it was cool to see three of our favorite actors (Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep and Matt Damon) score double nominations and, seriously, anytime Julianne Moore is nominated for an award is a happy day in my book. Now if she could actually win something sometime I’d be even happier!

Also glad to see Tarantino back in the thick of things with “Inglourious Basterds” raking up all kinds of Globes love, and though we haven’t watched our screener of “Up In The Air” yet, I am already in love with the movie from the trailers, so, kudos to Clooney and company on that front too. It was also very cool to see “Avatar” do so well and a smaller movie like “District 9” score a coveted screenplay nomination. Wow…who knew the HFPA dug Sci Fi? Awesome!

But the big news of the day was on the TV front where Fox’s “Glee” very-deservedly cleaned freaking house with three acting nominations and a nod for Best Television Series Musical or Comedy. Hooray! After years of kicking ass in everything she does, Jane Lynch is finally nominated for an award! Coolness! Go-to character actresses like Alison Janney better watch their backs in the years to come, because the white-hot Lynch is on a roll, baby!

Also very happy to see “Big Love” score a few well-deserved nominations (go, Chloë Sevigny!) and we were very excited to see two of our favorite new shows, “Modern Family” and “The Good Wife” score some nods. Rock on, newbies!

My only complaint today are the three nominations for Lifetime’s God-awful “Georgia O’Keefe” biopic. That movie really, really sucked. Not only did it totally squander the considerable talents of it’s two lead actors, Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons, but it was so damn boring that it made Lifetime’s epic 2008 train wreck, “Coco Chanel” look interesting. And yes, I actually Tivo-ed (and watched!!) both of those lame-ass movies. Yikes…

But at the end of the day, the big story at this year’s Globes — which air on NBC on January 17th — isn’t gonna be about the nominees at all. I mean, with Ricky Gervais hosting and the booze flowing freely, who really cares who wins?

To see a full list of this year’s nominees, click here.

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Wolverine at the Oscars…

OK, I know this mini-review of the big night is a couple of days too late, but I gotta say that, surprisingly, Hugh Jackman did not totally suck as host of the Oscars. The opening number was actually pretty funny and he tried his damnedest to keep a very bloated telecast light and lively, but, any way you look at it, that second big dance number was a total train wreck.

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First off, Beyoncé needs to simmer. Seriously, she should go into hiding for the rest of the year, America has had enough of her. And if the bitch sings “At Last” one more time, I swear to God, Etta James is gonna have to get in line to beat her down. Enough with that already! Yikes…

The most annoying  thing about that colosally over-produced number — aside from the fact that it serves as further proof that Baz Luhrmann has just plain lost his mind — was that most of the songs they “celebrated” were never even nominated for Oscars. So, what was the whole thing about? The return of the musical? What, because there were three big musicals released last year? Please…that was such a stretch.

I was also really annoyed with the clips they played this year too, those comedy and action scenes were kinda cool, but, seriously, sometimes it felt like we were watching the freaking MTV Movie Awards: “And now, Will Smith will present the award for Best Kiss.” Y’all are the Oscars, OK? You do not need to pander to kids with a bunch of clips from movies that most of your craggy-old membership has never even seen. Aside from being a total time-filler, it’s just lame…

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And though I am so down with most of the winners — especially all the Oscar gold for “Slumdog” and the “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto” quoting Japanese dude! — I have to admit that those creepy induction ceremonies with the past acting winners were just plain scary. Yes, it was great to see some of the old timers out there onstage, but, wow…that whole circle of five shit was freaky.

We kept joking that they were gonna give the winner a chalice of blood to drink from at the end of it all: “Welcome to the club. Now drink from the blood of Oscar and live forever…” Ahh!

Of course, being the Oscar nerd that I am, I went back later and re-watched each of the acting award presentations to see if maybe I missed something. I mean, were we just overreacting when we laughed through most of them? And guess what, we weren’t. That shit was crazy. Well-intentioned and very sweet sometimes, but still straight-up crazy.

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I’ll write another post soon about the super cool Oscar-themed food we had at our party, but for now, here’s hoping the Academy works out the major kinks from this year’s show in time for next year’s bash.

Oh yeah, and I HATED the Ben Stiller as Joaquin Phoenix bit. I think Stiller stopped being funny like, ten years ago, but when he kept on mugging for the cameras as the clips from the nominated films played behind him, seriously, I wanted to kill the dude. That is just plain rude, man. Even hot-ass co-presenter, Queen Amidala, looked embarrassed…

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But like I said, overall, a pretty decent show. I was pleased. Dying to hear what you guys thought of the big night, so comment away…

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Oscar Nominees 2009

Came home from Slamdance with a wicked cold, so, forgive me ahead of time if I don’t over-analyze this year’s Oscar nominees. It’s not that I’m not excited about them — because there are some really cool movies in the running this year –but having slept on the couch last night to avoid getting Christine sick, I am definitely not at my finest.

That said, if I had to describe this year’s crop of nominees in two words, I would call 2009 the year of the working actor. And with longtime journeyman actors like Frank Langella (“Frost/Nixon”), Richard Jenkins (“The Visitor”), Melissa Leo (“Frozen River”), Tarija P. Henson (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), Viola Davis (“Doubt”) and even Josh Brolin (“Milk”) for that matter, all scoring first-time nominations, the acting categories have never been stronger.

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Sure, some big stars snuck in there as well — Sean Penn for “Milk”, Meryl Streep for “Doubt”, Robert Downey Jr. for “Tropic Thunder” and the Oscar “it” couple du jour, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt scoring nods for their work in “Changeling” and “Benjamin Button” respectively. But the big story today is all about the old-school character actors.

And how refreshing is that? I mean, shit, Richard Jenkins has wracked up a whopping 82 onscreen credits since 1974, Leo has 78, Langella has 77, and Josh Brolin has been in 42 movies since his memorable debut in “The Goonies”. So, congrats to the “old-timers” of all ages…you guys have served your time and are totally due for some major gold!

Also surprised to see Kate Winslet nominated in the Best Actress category for her searing performance in “The Reader”. Till now, her “Reader” role has been relegated to the Best Supporting Actress category, with her role in “Revolutionary Road” taking the higher honor. I have always thought she was much better in “The Reader”, so, glad to see her pick up a nod for that performance instead.

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Oh, and speaking of “Revolutionary Road” — which fared far worse in the nomination count than I think anyone expected — the biggest surprise for me was the Best Supporting Actor nomination for Michael Shannon. Playing the deeply-troubled grown son of Kathy Bates, Shannon ignites every scene he’s in. Seriously, “Road” would have been a hell of a lot more boring without him. Very, very happy to see him pick up his first Oscar nomination today. Yay!

And though I agree with most of the Adapted Screenplay nominations, I gotta tell ya, the Original Screenplay category is kind of crazy this year. I’m not saying any of these movies are bad, but, wow, even the most experienced Oscar prognosticator couldn’t have guessed that this bunch of scripts would pick up nods. I mean, we’ve only seen one of the nominated films in this category…and we see everything! Ha!

On the directing front, happy to see Danny Boyle pick up his first directing nomination for “Slumdog Millionaire” and even though I hated “Benjamin Button” — and hate even more the fact that it scored 13 nominations…yikes! — I do love me some David Fincher, so, kudos to him for finally making the cut!

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Also kind of shocked that the Academy bucked the award-season trend by not awarding “The Dark Knight” a nod for Best Picture — giving the “wild card” fifth slot to “The Reader” instead. I guess Christopher Nolan and company will have to settle for their raft of technical nominations to go with the expected posthumous Supporting Actor nomination for Heath Ledger.

And while I was sad to see “Rachel Getting Married” and “The Wrestler” fail to pick up nominations in the Original Screenplay and Best Original Song categories, I was very happy to see the actors from both films pick up some very deserving nominations. So, yay!

Below is a list of most of the nominees in most of the major categories, to see the full list of nominated films, click here. And, as always, love to hear what you guys think of this year’s nominees…so, comment away!

BEST PICTURE

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“Frost/Nixon”

“Milk”

“The Reader”

“Slumdog Millionaire”

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”

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”

BEST ACTRESS

Anne Hathaway – “Rachel Getting Married”

Angelina Jolie – “Changeling”

Melissa Leo – “Frozen River”

Meryl Streep – “Doubt”

Kate Winslet – “The Reader”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Josh Brolin – “Milk”

Robert Downey Jr. – “Tropic Thunder”

Philip Seymour Hoffman – “Doubt”

Heath Ledger – “The Dark Knight”

Michael Shannon – “Revolutionary Road”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams – “Doubt”

Penélope Cruz – “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”

Viola Davis – “Doubt”

Taraji P. Henson – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Marisa Tomei – “The Wrestler”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Courtney Hunt – “Frozen River”

Mike Leigh – “Happy-Go-Lucky”

Martin McDonagh – “In Bruges”

Dustin Lance Black – “Milk”

Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter – “WALL-E”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Eric Roth and Robin Swicord – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

John Patrick Shanley – “Doubt”

Peter Morgan – “Frost/Nixon”

David Hare – “The Reader”

Simon Beaufoy – “Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST ANIMATED FILM

“Bolt”

“Kung Fu Panda”

“WALL-E”

BEST FOREIGN FILM

“The Baader Meinhof Complex” – Germany

“The Class” – France

“Departures” – Japan

“Revanche” – Austria

“Waltz with Bashir” – Israel

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Alexandre Desplat

“Defiance” – James Newton Howard

“Milk” – Danny Elfman

“Slumdog Millionaire” – A.R. Rahman

“WALL-E” – Thomas Newman

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Down to Earth” – “WALL-E”

“Jai Ho” – “Slumdog Millionaire”

“O Saya” – “Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

“Changeling” – Tom Stern

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Claudio Miranda

“The Dark Knight” – Wally Pfister

“The Reader” – Chris Menges and Roger Deakins

“Slumdog Millionaire” – Anthony Dod Mantle

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

“Australia” – Catherine Martin

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Jacqueline West

“The Duchess” – Michael O’Connor

“Milk” – Danny Glicker

“Revolutionary Road” – Albert Wolsky

BEST ART DIRECTION

“Changeling”

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“The Dark Knight”

“The Duchess”

“Revolutionary Road”

BEST MAKE-UP

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“The Dark Knight”

“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”

BEST EDITING

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“The Dark Knight”

“Frost/Nixon”

“Milk”

“Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

“The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)”

“Encounters at the End of the World”

“The Garden”

“Man on Wire”

“Trouble the Water”

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“Frost/Nixon”

Saw this bad-ass movie over the long weekend and all I can say is…wow, Ron Howard rocks, baby! As a director I have loathed (“The Da Vinci Code”) just as many of his movies as I have loved (“Cinderella Man”) over the years, but with “Frost/Nixon” it’s like Opie has finally found his voice as a serious director. And man, what a thrill!

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I have to admit, as much as I was looking forward to seeing this movie, I was also a little skeptical that a film based on a Tony-winning play about a legendary television interview between David Frost and Richard Nixon would be, I dunno, kind of stagy and plodding. But, man alive, was I wrong!

In opening up his play for the movie, writer Peter Morgan, as he did so beautifully with “The Queen” and “The Last King of Scotland” has made politics absolutely riveting. And when you couple his crackerjack script with Howard’s whiz-bang directing and the towering performances of Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost, well…how can you lose?

Seriously, in lesser hands, “Frost/Nixon” could have been a tedious series of close-ups and cramped interiors, but this movie could not be more cinematic. Big, open, sweeping, the camera is everywhere all at once and with Hans Zimmer’s incredible, slow-build score leading the way, the film has a sense of drama that is just breathtaking.

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And the fact that the production filmed in many of the real-life locales only ads to the gravitas. I can only imagine how much that helped the actors bury themselves in their roles, because bury they do, amigos!

Reprising his Tony-winning performance, Langella doesn’t exactly look like Nixon, but man, he has the strange tics and sad sack mannerisms down pat. And Tony-nominee Sheen — who, if you ask me, was robbed of a Supporting Oscar nod for his stellar turn as Tony Blaire in “The Queen” — more than holds his own as a man finding his voice as a journalist during the course of the interviews.

But perhaps even more exciting than the leads are the amazing supporting performances by Kevin Bacon as Nixon loyalist Jack Brennan, and Sam Rockwell and Oliver Platt as Frost’s hard-working researchers, James Reston Jr. and Bob Zelnick, respectively.

All working at the top of their game, the three workhorse actors lend “Frost/Nixon” a boxing movie element that is entirely unexpected. And watching them quickly move in to clean up the figuriative blood when Frost and Nixon have finished a “round” before the camera is beyond awesome.

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In fact, Howard structures the entire movie like one big showdown, and though it might sound a bit heavy-handed, it works like gangbusters. Yes, I said gangbusters…sorry, but it really is that good.

“Frost/Nixon” opens nationwide this weekend, so, check it out! And if you’re interested in seeing the real life “Frost/Nixon: Watergate Interviews” for yourself, they have just been re-released on DVD as well. Cool, huh? I can’t wait to see how they compare to the movie!

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