Academy Awards Predictions: Part 2

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Best Art Direction
Donald Graham Burt / Victor J. Zolfo (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
*Revolutionary Road might give Button a fight, but wow, what a gorgeous film.

Best Cinematography
Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire)
*This is a  hard one to call. I loved Button and TDK, but the chaos of Slumdog blew me away. From early on in the film I was expecting to have a Bourne-style headache, but it was surprisingly smooth.

Best Film Editing
Chris Dickens (Slumdog Millionaire)
*The editing and the cinematography blended together so well; you couldn’t have one without the other.

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Best Costume Design
Michael O’Connor (The Duchess)
*Period pieces winning the award three times in a row? Probably. I wouldn’t mind seeing Revolutionary Road sneak in for the award.

Best Make-Up
Greg Cannom (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
*This is a toss-up between Button and TDK (*cough*Joker*cough*) Both are very deserving.

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Best Original Score
Alexandre Desplat (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
*Slumdog and WALL-E also have a pretty good shot at this. Desplat’s score was a great compantion for the film, from atmosphere to period.

Best Original Song
“Down to Earth” (Peter Gabriel) (WALL-E)
*Personally I would choose “O Saya” from Slumdog Millionaire, but I’m thinking there will be a Slumdog split vote on this one.

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Best Sound Mixing
Ben Burtt / Matthew Wood (WALL-E)

Best Sounding Editing
Ben Burtt / Matthew Wood (WALL-E)
*Hand down in my book. The sound was incredible in this film.

Best Visual Effects
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
*If this doesn’t win, I will be sorely disappointed. It needed some more work, but it was spectacular throughout.

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Academy Awards Predictions: Part 1

The following are my tentative predictions for the 2009 Academy Awards.

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Best Picture
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
*I’m being pretty risky with my picks this year, with the Slumdog train constantly picking up momentum, but this was such an incredible film. And winning would help make up for Zodiac not receiving one nomination last year.

Best Director
David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
*Even if Slumdog manages to take best picture over Button, Fincher still deserves the best director award. (Did I mention that Zodiac didn’t receive on enomination last year?)

Best Screenplay (Adapted)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Eric Roth)
*From what I’ve heard (Planning on reading the short story soon), Roth’s adaptation took the story to a whole nother level. It definitely has it’s Forrest Gump influences, but it’s still a great story.

Best Screenplay (Original)
In Bruges (Martin McDonagh)
*There’s a lot of good competition this year, so it’s a hard call to make. Relative newcomer McDonagh wrote a mighty fine script. The underdog award goes to him.

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Best Actor
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
*Just watch The Wrestler, already.

Best Actress
Kate Winslet (The Reader)
*I admit that I haven’t seen The Reader yet, but I plan doing so before the ceremony. Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep also have a decent chance here as well.

Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
*Especially in a year where there isn’t much competition in the supporting actor award (Why is Josh Brolin in there?), this is a lock.

Best Supporting Actress
Penélope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
*Again, haven’t seen it, but it should be coming in via NetFlix today. I wouldn’t mind seeing Amy Adams or Marisa Tomei taking the award, either.

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Best Animated Feature
WALL-E
*Grade A work from Pixar, from start to finish.

Best Documentary Feature
Man on Wire
*Totally took my breath away; kicking myself that I didn’t see this in the theater when I had the chance. It is nice to see Herzog nominated as well, though it’s not one of his best films. I still have to see the other three nominations.

Best Foreign Language Feature
Waltz With Bashir
*I’m picking this solely on the buzz. I haven’t seen any of the films in this category yet.

I’ll continue with the technical awards at a later date…

Sink the Titanic

According to Box Office Mojo, The Dark Knight is $125,445,189 away from becoming the largest grossing film domestically.

Get out there and watch it again.

2008 Oscar-Bait

Well, it’s been a good year at the movies so far. There are only a few films that I’m interested in seeing this Summer (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Pineapple Express, and Tropic Thunder)

My Top 5 for 2008 So Far:

1. The Dark Knight
2. Wall-E
3. American Teen
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
5. Iron Man

That said, I’m really looking forward to Oscar season this year. I have a feeling that the Academy Awards are going to be insane with competition. Last year was good, but this will probably be better. This afternoon I hunted down the upcoming films for the rest of the year.

My Top 11 Must-Sees:



The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Directed By: David Fincher
Starring: Brad Pitt / Cate Blanchett / Tilda Swinton

Zodiac was royally shafted at the Academy Awards this year. I thought it should have been nominated for picture, adapted screenplay, supporting actor (Robert Downey Jr) and visual effects. It probably wouldn’t have won any, but it should have had some recognition.

That said, I think Benjamin Button is going to get Fincher back in the game.


(Apple Trailers)

Burn After Reading
Directed By: Ethan Coen / Joel Coen
Starring: Brad Pitt / George Clooney / John Malkovich / Tilda Swinton / Frances McDormand

After the amazing No Country for Old Men last year, it looks like the Coens are back in action with a dark screwball comedy (their forte) with a great ensemble cast. It will be nice to see Frances McDormand in a Coen film again.


(Apple Trailers)

Revolutionary Road
Directed By: Sam Mendes
Starring: Leondardo DiCaprio / Kate Winslet / Kathy Bates

Looks like a Titanic cast reunion. Add in the director of American Beauty and Road to Perdition and you have an awesome combination.

The Soloist
Directed By: Joe Wright
Starring: Robert Downey Jr. / Jamie Foxx / Catharine Keener

Robert Downey Jr. has been in an insane number of films the last few years. That’s all.

Australia
Directed By: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Hugh Jackman / Nicole Kidman / David Wenham

Quite simply, this looks epic, and I do not want to miss seeing it on the silver screen. It may end up being the next Lawrence of Arabia for all we know. And you can’t go wrong with Hugh Jacman.


(Apple Trailers)

Appaloosa
Directed By: Ed Harris
Starring: Viggo Mortensen / Renée Zellweger / Jeremy Irons / Ed Harris

As long as it’s better than Hidalgo. Solid cast, and the amazing Ed Harris.

Lakeview Terrace
Directed By: Neil LaBute
Starring: Patrick Wilson / Kerry Washington / Samuel L. Jackson

What can I say? The preview sold me. This looks to be quite the tense film.


(Apple Trailers)

Body of Lies
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio / Russell Crowe

Since 2002, DiCaprio hasn’t disappionted me once as an actor. He just keeps plugging away. With 8 films in the next two years, he’s going to be a busy man. And to top it off, the preview reminded me a little bit of Michael Mann’s Heat, which is never a bad thing.

Doubt
Directed By: John Patrick Shanley
Starring: Meryl Streep / Philip Seymour Hoffman / Amy Adams

I’ve heard really good things about the Shanley’s play, which this is based on. And what a great cast.

The Reader
Directed By: Stephen Daldry
Starring: Kate Winslet / Ralph Fiennes

Defiance
Directed By: Edward Zwick
Starring: Daniel Craig / Liev Schreiber / Jamie Bell

You can’t go wrong with Edward Zwick.

What films are you looking forward to the most?

The Dark Knight is Awesome

The Dark Knight
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale / Heath Ledger / Gary Oldman / Aaron Eckhart
Rating:

(This is my spoiler-FREE review. I’ll probably write up a more in-depth review of it later)

Synopsis: Death, mayhem, and chaos swallow Gotham City as a war between good, evil, and what lies between takes place. Harvey Dent, the newly appointed D.A. of Gotham, must join forces with Batman in an ongoing initiative to root out the organized crime that permeates the city. Enter The Joker, a psychotic villian, with his own plans for Gotham.

Review: Watching The Dark Knight on an IMAX screen is an experience that I won’t soon forget. After driving by a minivan engulfed in flame on I-283 and having my GPS take me down a one-way street the wrong way, I finally made it to the showing. It was great listening to the pre-show buzz from the other people in line, hearing snatches of conversations. One that I found amusing went something like this:

“[Christian Bale] He was in Newsies”
“He was in SHAFT”
Silence.

And naturally, someone spoiled an important twist in the film. May the fleas of a thousand camels nest in your armpits, sir.

So anyways…The Dark Knight met and exceeded my expectations. Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker was outstanding, and Aaron Eckhart fit the politician role very well. No surprises there. 🙂 The Dark Knight is rated PG-13, but this is definitely not a film for the kiddies. I highly recommend checking this out, especially in IMAX if you get the chance.

Wow

Bubble Review

I wasn’t planning on posting anything until I watched The Dark Knight tomorrow afternoon [IMAX-Harrisburg-2:15 PM-“Han Shot First” tshirt], but I also wasn’t planning on watching Bubble

Bubble
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Debbie Doebereiner / Dustin James Ashley / Misty Wilkins
Rating:

Firstly, am I the only that constantly confuses Steven oderbergh with David Cronenberg? (At least I can spell their names properly) And secondly, the only Soderbergh films that I have seen previously are the Ocean’s films, Traffic, and The Good German (which I didn’t care for). I can see now that I definitely need to explore more of his earlier work. It’s not all George Clooney and heists. 🙂

I randomly picked up Bubble at the library a few days, thinking it was from the director of Eastern Promises and A History of Violence. With that in mind, I really wasn’t expecting the style of the film. About 20 minutes into it, I had to check the director on IMDb.

It’s quite an unusual film, more in the style of the Dogme 95 movement than anything else. I learned afterwards that the three main actors hadn’t acted before and the scrpt was improvised. This definitely makes sense, and I thought that it worked out very well. Everything about the film felt real and not forced. I was especially impressed with the subtelty.

There’s an alternate ending on the DVD, which personally I didn’t care for. I’m very glad that they didn’t use it, as it completely ruins the realistic quality of Bubble. I vastly prefer the ending that I did see. Everything isn’t wrapped up in a nice narrative box. There’s a lot to think about in terms of the characters and their motivations, and especially varying degrees of conflict. And of course, toss a little religion into the mix. 🙂

Bubble could almost be qualified as a short film, clocking in at 73 minutes. For me the length was perfect. With a film like this that doesn’t rely havily on professional actors and a developed script, I’m not sure how it would have fared with another half hour or so. The story was concise and intriguing.

I’m not going to summarize the film. I’d rather just recommend that you get a copy and watch it.