Tag Archives: “Slumdog Millionaire”

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.

2009 Oscars #1

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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“The Wrestler”

Just watched Mickey Rourke and Bruce Springsteen pick up their well-deserved Golden Globes for “The Wrestler” and all I can say is…wow. These guys totally deserve any gold that comes their way this season, and if you haven’t seen “The Wrestler” yet, then get thee to a multiplex, amigos. This movie rocks!

Beautifully directed by Darren Aronofsky from a sweet, heartfelt script by Robert Siegel this movie truly soars. And while “Slumdog”, “Milk” and “Frost/Nixon” are still my top three, “The Wrestler” has made it a four-way race for our favorite movie of the year.

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This movie has more heart, humor and soul in it’s first ten minutes than “Benjamin Button” does in it’s entirety. Sorry, Benjamin, but it’s true. If you’re looking for a deeply-felt story about genuine love, loss and redemption, skip the bloated Brad Pitt-fest and see this instead!

Playing a battered and bruised pro-wrestler well past his prime, Mickey Rourke gives the performance of his life as Randy “The Ram” Robinson. Several critics have pointed out how Rourke’s real-life struggles and appearance give the movie an added heft, and that may be true, but I think that totally sells Rourke short.

I mean, sure, he looks like hell, but Rourke is not playing himself here, this is acting. And acting of the caliber I haven’t seen onscreen since, well, shit…I can’t even remember it’s been so long. Seriously, Rourke is so vital and alive in this movie that you’ll swear you’re watching a documentary.

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And the story…wow…I won’t ruin it for those of you who haven’t seen it, but this movie takes off in directions I never saw coming and never looks back. And lest you think “The Wrestler” is all about Rourke, the supporting women in this film kick some serious ass!

Marissa Tomei has never looked hotter — literally, she has some full-blown stripping scenes that are beyond realistic! — and her performance as a damaged stripper is so naturalistic that you’ll swear she’s been pole dancing her entire life. I know a lot of people still give her shit for winning the Oscar for “My Cousin Vinny”, but if there were any doubts about Tomei being a real actress, this movie will put them to rest forever.

Beneath all the sweat and the shimmery body paint, Tomei’s character not only gives Rourke something truly powerful to play off, but also steals your heart in every scene she’s in. Seriously, she’s incredible.

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And Evan Rachel Wood — who we adored on the vastly underrated “Once and Again” — delivers her most mature, nuanced performance to date as Rourke’s estranged daughter. Her scenes with Rourke will rip your heart out. Man alive, I was weeping like a baby a couple of times…beautiful stuff!

And when that Bruce Springsteen song kicks in at the end, holy crap, you just wanna die. This ain’t no tacked-on end credits song, this is a sad-ass rock ballad for the ages…and like the movie itself, it will stay with you for days. Amazing…

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“Batman” for Best Picture?

Don’t laugh, amigos…if there was ever a year a comic book movie could (and should) be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, this was it! And seeing how “The Dark Knight” just scored a Producer’s Guild of America nomination for Best Picture of 2008 — always a good omen going into Oscar season — the odds just got a little bit better for Bruce Wayne and company.

"The Dark Knight" poster

That’s right, despite a surprising snub by the Hollywood Foreign Press a couple of weeks back, “The Dark Knight” just became a front-runner in the very heated contest for an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. The late, great Heath Ledger was already kind of a given for a Supporting Actor nomination, but a big summer movie scoring a nod in a major category is pretty, well…major.

So, kudos to Christopher Nolan and the rest of the “Dark Knight” cast and crew for making things very interesting this award season. And in case you were wondering, the other films the PGA nominated for Best Picture were the very deserving: “Milk”, “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Frost/Nixon”, and for some reason, the God-awful “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”.

Yikes…I still don’t get why people love that movie so much. But Christine has already forseen “Button” picking up a Best Picture nomination from the Academy and she is rarely wrong about these things, so…who knows.

“Button” aside though, I am thrilled with the rest of the nominations — which represent almost all of our favorite movies this past year — and the TV and Documentary Feature nominations are just as worthy. To see a full list of the PGA nominees in every category, click here.

And as we near the award season home stretch…go, “Batman”!

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2009 Golden Globe Nominees

Barring any last-minute drama by the fractured Screen Actors Guild — who just announced that they are presenting a strike authorization vote to their membership on January 2nd — this year’s Golden Globe Awards should play out a little better than last year’s lame, strike-addled affair.

Seriously, ask anyone who sat through last year’s Golden Globe “press conference” and they’ll you that that thing was a total disaster. If I never have to sit through Mary Hart and the rest of those old leathery gasbags reading names off a list again, I’ll die a very happy man indeed. Yikes…

"Rachel Getting Married" #1

"Rachel Getting Married" #2

But…I digress. This year’s crop of nominees are a pretty cool bunch. Sure, there are way too many nods for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Burn After Reading” (which we both kinda loathed), but I was seriously stoked to see “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Frost/Nixon” and “Milk” sneak in there in some pretty major categories. Those movies rocked hard, so, congrats to everyone involved.

Was really bummed to see Rosemarie DeWitt overlooked for her heartbreaking turn as Globe-nominee Anne Hathaway’s sister in “Rachel Getting Married”. Sure, Hathaway had all the big, “crazy girl makes a scene” moments in the movie, but DeWitt, playing the good, normal sister, stole every scene she was in. So, this is a huge oversight in my book.

I was stoked to see James Franco nominated for “Pineapple Express”. We haven’t seen the movie yet, but he kicked ass in “Milk”, so I’m rooting for him! And to have practically the entire cast of “Vicki Cristina Barcelona” score acting nominations is kind of awesome too. Especially that dreamy Rebecca Hall, who is almost supernaturally hot in both “Vicki Cristina” and “Frost/Nixon”. Yowza!

Penelope Cruz in "Vicki Cristina Barcelona"

Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall in "Vicki Cristina Barcelona"

Seth Rogen and James Franco in "Pineapple Express"

But I think the thing I’m most upset about today is Anna Faris being totally shut out for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for  “The House Bunny”. Laugh if you must, but Faris was hilarious in the kind of role that category was made for! For shame, Hollywood Foreign Press, for shame…

And finally, speaking of “The House Bunny”, I’m also very glad to know that poor, beleaguered Rumer Willis will finally get to fulfill her long-delayed role as Miss Golden Globes at this year’s show. You go, Rumer!

To see a complete list of all this year’s nominees click here.

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“Slumdog Millionaire”

OK, I know I said I’d blog about all the fun stuff we did with Ginger over the last few days, but after seeing director Danny Boyle’s new movie “Slumdog Millionaire” at a screening last night, I had to blog about that first because, well…this movie is freaking incredible!

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Christine and I have been huge Danny Boyle fans for years — we have seen every feature he’s directed except for last year’s sci-fi epic “Sunshine” and his first big flick “Shallow Grave” — and while all of his movies have been amazing, I gotta tell ya, “Slumdog Millionaire” is arguably his finest moment as a filmmaker.

One of my favorite things about Boyle’s movies is the way they so effortlessly balance hysterical humor and totally gut-wrenching drama, and, trust me, the heartfelt, beautifully-crafted “Slumdog” has both is spades.

I don’t want to spoil too much by telling you what it’s about — you really have to experience this thing for yourself, preferably on a big screen! — but essentially the movie takes place during a frantic two-day period in the life of the titular Mumbai slumdog, Jamal Malik (an astonishing Dev Patel) as he appears as a contestant on India’s version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”.

As the drama of the game unfolds, the movie flashes back in time to fill in the hilarious, touching and often painful series of events that brought a penniless Indian street urchin to the hot seat of the biggest game show in the world.

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Like “Trainspotting” and his lesser-known “Millions”, Boyle’s “Slumdog” pulses with life and moves along at a breakneck speed with a soundtrack that will totally blow your mind. Seriously, we were looking for it online the minute we walked in the door. It’s not available yet, but, wow…it kicks ass!

And while the cast is uniformly excellent — no doubt due to the superb job done by his co-director, legendary Indian casting director, Loveleen Tandan — the non-pro child actors featured in the flashbacks will totally rip your heart out. I shit you not, amigos, these kids are incredible.

And with a sparkling, award-caliber script by “The Full Monty” scribe Simon Beaufoy, and breathtaking cinematography by frequent Boyle collaborator Anthony Dod Mantle, this movie truly soars above almost everything else we’ve seen so far this year.

But perhaps the highest praise came in the form of the crazy-loud cheers that arose from the crowd — at a screening no less! — during key moments in the film. Seriously, that shit never happens during award season, and with a crusty old Academy crowd? Never!

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So, if they dug the movie enough to cheer each of the actors names in the super cool closing credits (yep, they did that too!) just imagine how much you’ll love this movie. “Slumdog” opens in limited release today, so check it out!

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