01.22.09: my bologna has a first name

i can hardly describe the mellow yet formidable southern californian rage that churned around in me as local newscasters refused to give me word of the academy award nominations breaking this morning. yes yes, hillary clinton rolls into the state department, caroline kennedy won't be our next senator,* whatever. give me my movie news, ruffians!

i have a huge backlog of titles yet to see, so i'll spare you most of my predictions for now; instead, i'll comment on the few that are already under my belt. what have you seen so far, folks? any early calls, or strong feelings about what i should be sure to see?

as in previous years, films i've seen are asterisked.

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

i love brad pitt in david fincher movies (fight club might still my favorite movie of all time), but there wasn't a lot of acting for him to do in this one: he won't win.

best supporting actor

josh brolin - milk
robert downey jr. - tropic thunder*
philip seymour hoffman - doubt
heath ledger - the dark knight*
michael shannon - revolutionary road

can we talk about robert downey jr. as sherlock holmes? directed by guy ritchie, with jude law as watson? this has nothing to do with the oscars, of course, but it's so sacrilegious that i'm afraid i can't get behind RDJ winning anything ever again. also, heath ledger really was incredible.

best actress

anne hathaway - rachel getting married
angelina jolie - changeling
melissa leo - frozen river
meryl streep - doubt
kate winslet - the reader

i have a feeling that i'll like anne hathaway - that movie looks brutal in the best way - but who can say?

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

again, i think the benjamin button contender hasn't got a chance (though she was decent). marisa tomei, maybe? i'm on the fence about whether the prospect of seeing the wrestler excites me or makes me want to nap/die, but i have accepted that it needs to happen. i really like darren aronofsky (requiem for a dream was good, and i think pi was brillliant), so that's some consolation.

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*

danny boyle edges out david fincher for me; both are heavy on style, but boyle's is better suited to his material (fincher's made a forrest gump narrative slightly more interesting, but really, brad pitt's face did most of the heavy visual lifting in benjamin button).

best picture

the curious case of benjamin button*
the reader
slumdog millionaire*

it's not impossible to dislike slumdog millionaire, but i think it's impossible to get through it without liking something (i myself liked many things about it). early call: danny boyle's india for the win.

*i still say it's going to be cuomo, though there's a bit of wish fulfillment in that (joe's life would be simpler, and i would have more opportunities to say cuomoerotic, which is still my favorite fake word).


meg said...

Must sees:
Doubt (More interesting if you saw in on the boards, I did twice, once off-b'way, once on. I was after all, working for MTC. But it's a MUST SEE if you didn't see it on stage.)
Slumdog - but you've already seen it.

We saw Revolutionary Road, I loved it because I'm obsessed with the central question, and Kate Winslet, as ever. But it screams GIVE ME A OSCAR, so yeah. David hated it.

The Wrestler made me want to nap/die. I had to walk out at one point to avoid throwing up on the floor of the theatre. Awesome. Then afterwards I figured if life was this awful why live (ah,Aronofsky). David loved it.

Milk - see it for the gays, but it screams for an Oscar (you can see where wedding rings were purchased outside the window of his camera store).

Still to see:
Frost/Nixon (tomorrows date night. Very excited)
The Reader (read the book for my fav course in college on sociatal reaction to mass atrocities, very good read from that vantage point. And Kate! Naked!)

And for hunches, Viola Davis in doubt. Little part one of the best roles I've seen all year. Heath Ledger, again one of the best all year and he's dead? A sure thing.

Side notes: Happy Go Lucky - stab me in the eye. Wall-E? Should be best picture, what? Acadamy, what.

lauren said...

we will see doubt, but it gets a serious dishonorable mention from me first. my neighbor is a SAG member and usually gets a few screeners pre-awards season each year (and passes said screeners on to us); economic climate being what it is, i was hoping for a few titles we hadn't yet seen. we got the dark knight, a fine movie i don't need to see again for a bit, and a big, DVD-shaped packet from doubt that turned out to be piles of cardboard hype and NO MOVIE (just a line about how we should go see it). WTF, guys? it would've been cheaper to send a disc. boo.

we've been watching the frost/nixon interviews, and i predict that i'll think frank langella's seriously overacting (which, as joe notes, everyone does when they're playing nixon). actual nixon was crazy like a fox, but he played it pretty close to the vest, from what i've seen thus far.

much as i love cockroaches, i'm not sure i can bring myself to see wall-e. then again, it's a rental at this point, so...when joe's at work?

i think doubt and milk (the top of my list at the moment, steeped as we are in old san francisco politics; i'm still sad they never actualized that pink cloud in milk plaza) are first up this weekend.

jacob said...

of the films listed, megan and i have only seen "dark knight" (imax!) and "milk." for me, "milk" was a pretty straightforward biopic with very good acting, both penn and brolin. it hews pretty closely to "the life and times of harvey milk" documentary from 1984, so there weren't a lot of surprises, but it's still a solid movie.

i'm going to have to dissent from meg's negative review of "happy-go-lucky." these kinds of somewhat twee films can age poorly (see "you and me and everyone we know"), but sally hawkins is almost chaplin-esque in her emoting (in a good way, for me at least). it says something that i enjoyed the film even while seeing it in a tiny theater with terrible acoustics - her accent made the film almost unintelligible for the first few minutes before i got used to it - but her facial expressions (mugging if you're being uncharitable) were amusing to me.

and several of these movies just opened today in the providence area. looking forward to seeing "frost/nixon" and "the wrestler."

lauren said...

more on screeners, from things i bought that i love:

If you live in Hollywood, and are lucky enough to be in the Writers Guild or Screen Actors Guild, you get screeners. Screeners are DVDs of movies that you get in the mail that studios send you so you can vote for them for awards. All this is totally awesome, because you can be like “Wait guys, we don’t have to see Defiance at the Arclight, we can watch it for free at home.” (p.s. Daniel Craig plays more Jews than any person I’ve ever seen. Even Marc Feurstein is cast less as a Jew than this guy. I love it. ) Anyway, then you pop in the screener, which someone GAVE YOU so you hopefully can vote for it, and then before the movie starts, there’s this long list of threats against you. They’ve encoded the disc and can trace it back to you, and can sue you for tons of money if you let it out of your sight. Next, you have to break the cd in half when you’re finished with it. You have to violently destroy this cd or THEY WILL GET YOU INTO TROUBLE. I’m sorry, you sent ME this DVD, right? I didn’t ask for “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” to be sent to my house, and now if someone steals it, you’re going to sue me? Jesus Christ, you guys.

baby jo said...

i admit to seeing a screener of "the wrestler". arclight really is expensive.

anonymous said...

Back to freshman "compare and contrast": Rourke's wrestler whips De Niro's raging bull----, but Aronofsky can't hold a candle to Scorsese. A little less violence, a little more sophistication and scope allowed Rourke in character development, a little more refined sexuality, a little more artful visual and syntactic sense, and we might have had a real film. Still, like "Raging Bull," "The Wrestler" remains true: the man, the woman, the fight.

meg said...

Mmm. I love me some Arclight.

But really, and update. We saw Frost/Nixon and quite enjoyed it. David "Better than expected! More a character study, and less a documentary." For once we agreed.

I saw The Reader on my own, and enjoyed that as well. I read the novel for a course in college on how societies cope with the aftermath of mass atrocities, so I tend to think about the book from that perspective. I think in the end, the movie doesn't really push hard enough at the central question, and lets everyone off a too easily. That said, it attempts to tackle a really complicated question, and I give it points for that. Also, Kate is excellent (much better than in RR I thought) and I liked the kid. So worth seeing, and thought provoking at least. Though everyone who sees it should really read the book too, I think. It's a short easy read.

Also, both movies had really good art direction and cinematography, and my design lover geeked out about it. Soothing on the eyeballs if not on the soul.

Next up: movies I don't want to see very much, so hence, I will see at home for free.