2013 Movie Blitz: Part VII

June 30, 2014 in Movie Reviews, Reviews

I know I saw no more 2013 movie blitzes, but I lied. So here’s another one with some high profile flicks.

The Butler (2013)

TheButler

The natural inclination is to assume that The Butler is the black Forrest Gump — a simple unassuming man who happens to be a bystander in major historical events that shaped the world.

But that’s not really fair. For starters, The Butler is a “true story”, apparently, as it is loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen, a real-life African-American butler who worked for the White House for 34 years. Here he is renamed Cecil Gaines and is played by Forest Whitaker. Secondly, most of the film is focused on the civil rights movement in the 1960s, contrasting Cecil’s desire to just “do his job” at the White House against his son Louis’s (David Oyelowo) active involvement. Thirdly, The Butler is nothing like Forrest Gump in that it is a serious drama almost devoid of humor. And lastly, The Butler stars Oprah!

The film is directed by Lee Daniels, who was at the helm of the award-winning Precious back in 2009. That was a small budget, personal drama, whereas this is an ambitious epic filled with major Hollywood stars, though the general feel of the films are largely similar. In other words, it is engaging, never really dull, but never superior entertainment. And depending on your perspective, you may find it either emotionally satisfying or too obviously manipulative. 

I have heard mixed reviews about the film, which reflects my feelings toward it. The performances are brilliant — there is no doubt about that and I don’t think anyone expected anything less with this cast. That said, I found the casting a little bit jarring. With the exception of the little known David Oyelowo, just about everyone else is a recognizable star. You have Mariah Carey playing Cecil’s mother in a small cameo, Terrence Howard as a neighbour, Cuba Gooding Jr and Lenny Kravitz as co-workers, and a whole bunch of big names playing American presidents — Robin Williams is Eisenhower, James Marston is JFK, Liev Schreiber is Lyndon Johnson, John Cusack is Richard Nixon, and strangely, Alan Rickman is Ronald Reagan. That doesn’t even include all the other recognisable names such as Jane Fonda, Minka Kelly, Vanessa Redgrave, Alex Pettyfer, and so forth. And of course, there’s Oprah, who is an excellent actress but too…Oprah…to avoid being a distraction.

It was interesting watching the historical events unfold, though if you are not American, and in particular African-American, the emotional impact may be less powerful. More importantly, Cecil Gaines was not a particularly charming protagonist — he had his moments, but by and large he was a very muted, restrained man, and anytime he did something out of the ordinary it felt overly sentimental. I’m not saying there wasn’t any subtlety, though the nuances definitely could have been handled better. The relationship that drove the movie, that between father and son, was executed well, but I think the film undercuts itself with too much obviously intentional melodrama that audiences who know what they’re in for will easily see through. 

3 stars out of 5

The Counselor (2013)

The Counselor

The Counselor is one of those WTF movies where there are a lot of big names attached and you can’t figure out why. It’s based on an original screenplay by Cormick McCarthy, whose novels have been adapted into solid films such as No Country for Old Men and The Road. It’s directed by the legendary ridley Scott and features an all star cast including Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt. But the film — and I have to be honest here — is crap.

Fassbender plays eponymous Counseler, a lawyer of some sort who gets in over his head when he becomes involved in a drug deal with Mexican cartels. The film features a lot of conversations that appeared to have no direct relation to the plot, and they speak in ways that make you feel like there is some big mystery involved when things are actually very straightforward and simple. It is also a film that fancies itself as a bit of an erotic thriller — there is some raunchy pillow talk between Fassbender and his in-film girlfriend Cruz, and Cameron Diaz makes love to a car. Yes, you read that correctly.

It is quite a violent film, though there is really only one scene that made me a little squirmish. People who hate Brad Pitt should love it.

My main problem with this movie is that it tries too hard to create an atmosphere it does not deserve. The makers of the movie talk about things such as greed, primal instincts and dealing with the consequences of our choices, but at the end of the day it’s just about a guy who gets into a drug deal, things go wrong and shit happens. Except not a whole lot actually happens. For all the talking and acting, it is shocking how little action and suspense there is.

So despite the big names and the solid performances, The Counselor has to be one of the year’s biggest disappointments. We know Cormick McCarthy can be brilliant, but this is him at his pretentious worst.

1.75 stars out of 5

The Way Way Back (2013)

way_way_back

A film that should have gotten way more buzz than it did. Coming of age films aren’t what they used to be, which is why The Way Way Back is such a refreshing and yet nostalgic breath of fresh air.

Liam James is quite the revelation as 14-year-old Duncan, and awkward, withdrawn and humorless teenager who reluctantly goes on a summer holiday to a small seaside town with his mother (Toni Collette), her boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell), and his typical teenage daughter (Steph Ramsey). 

Being the way that he is, Duncan naturally hates it there as everyone else seems to be having the time of their lives without him. But then he meets two people who change his life. The first is the pretty older daughter of a neighbour, played by AnnaSophia Robb, who seems to be more intrigued by Duncan’s odd personality than hanging out with other popular girls her age. The second is the manager of the local water park, played by Sam Rockwell, a carefree dude who is full of fun and jokes but appears to be stuck permanently in a state of arrested development.

Before long Duncan begins working at the water park and gets to know a whole host of quirky, oddball characters. While he struggles at home dealing with his family life, he begins coming out of his shell at work where everything seems to flourish for him.

At first glance this is the type of film we all feel like we have seen before, but there is just something about it that works. 

My guess starts with the immensely likable characters who all have their own quirks and are believable despite not being developed to perfection. Duncan, to be brutally honest, comes across initially as a potential mass shooting waiting to happen, but then we fall in love with his innocence and naivete. He makes you want to root for him, and that’s very important.

Rockwell is also brilliant as the lovable larrikin, the type of big brother we all wished we had. Even Steve Carell is brilliant playing against type as the douche bag villain who is not necessarily a terrible guy but whose judgmental attitude and selfish motivations we instantly recognize.

Additionally they are a bunch of scene stealing minor characters, from Allison Janney’s talkative neighbour and Toni Collette conflicted mother to Maya Rudolph’s  frustrated water park employee. All of them are memorable in their own way.

While there is nothing remarkable about it, The Way Way Back is a delight. It’s sweet, funny, heartfelt and powered by great characters and performances. It’s a pleasant surprise and one of my underrated hits of 2013.

4 stars out of 5

Drinking Buddies (2013)

drinking-buddies-poster

I heard about Drinking Buddies through word-of-mouth. It’s an indie film with Hollywood stars; an exploration of workplace relationships that relies predominantly on improvised dialogue.

Olivia Wilde stars as Kate, a pretty girl who is mutually attracted to her co-worker Luke (Jake Johnson) at a Chicago brewery. Unfortunately for both of them, they are each involved in a relationship with someone else. For Kate, it’s a casual boyfriend (Ron Livingston), but for Like, it’s a little more serious with his steady girlfriend (Anna Kendrick).

The strength of Drinking Buddies lies in the performances, which feel very natural (probably because of all the improv), and as a result the relationships also come across as genuine.

It’s an interesting premise, one most of us who have worked closely with others in a group environment can relate to, and in this case everything is accentuated because their inhibitions are lowered by the constant presence of alcohol.

It asks us what the boundaries are in a supposed “platonic” relationship between co-workers. It’s one thing to be attracted to someone, but it’s another when it comes out to acting out forbidden desires. What is the line and what constitutes crossing it?

My main gripe with the film. and the primary reason I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to, was that I couldn’t bring myself to like either Kate or Luke, in particular Kate.

Without giving too much away, I was uncomfortable with the way they acted around each other, and, without revealing how far things go, I felt they crossed a lot of lines even early on.

I kept feeling like they kind of deserved each other, but I wasn’t rooting for them to be together because I didn’t care for them. By contrast, I developed much more sympathy for their significant others, even though they arguably crossed more lines than Kate and Luke.

Still, this was a well-made, well-performed drama that tackles some complex and thought-provoking issues. I just wish I liked it more.

2.5 stars out of 5

Thoughts on the Oscars: Winners, Losers and everything else

February 23, 2009 in Entertainment

oscar1The 81st Academy Awards ceremony finally took place last night.  Here are just some of my thoughts on it.

The Ceremony

It was…surprisingly not that much different to previous years despite all the talk of a toned-down version due to the global financial meltdown (though Hugh Jackman did make a joke about it).  A few subtle differences in the presentation and sets, but most of it still involved ascertaining who was with who and who was wearing who and what; a musical medley and some jokes to kick things off; predictable winners and long, emotional acceptance speeches.  Hollywood pats its back for another year well done.

That being said, I still enjoyed it.  It’s not often that you get to see all the biggest stars in one place, and see them not as their characters but for who they really are.  Sometimes, through their reactions (to winning and losing) and their acceptance speeches, you get to see a side of them you don’t normally see.  I think this year’s was one of the best we’ve had in a while.

The Host

A big reason was the host.  Hugh Jackman did an excellent job.  It sounded like a strange choice at the beginning, but he really showed off his multiple talents, from singing and dancing to joking and hosting.  He seemed reasonably relaxed given the occasion and gave it his all.  However, if you’re used to seeing him as Wolverine, he might look a little awkward doing all these things you’re not used to seeing.  His job was to host and he did that by not being too dominant and leaving most of the attention to the nominees and winners.  He was classy, and that’s important to the Oscars.

The opening number was awesome.  I’m not sure if anyone can ever top the Billy Crystal classics, but Jackman’s might be the closest we’ll ever get.

[NB: Not sure how long this will last before they take it down]

The Highlights

As usual, they had some clips in between.  Most were pretty standard, but they did have clips on genres, such as romance and comedy.  I thought the highlight of the night, apart from Jackman’s number (above), was the comedy clip presented by Pineapple Express, with Seth Rogen and James Franco.  Man, Seth Rogen has lost a lot of weight, probably in preparation for his Green Hornet role.  And James Franco was just sensational.  I really thought he should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor rather instead of Robert Downey Jr for Tropic Thunder.  Check it out soon.

 

[NB: Poor quality and might get taken down soon, but it’s the best I can get]

Apart from that, there was a little song and dance number with Hugh and Beyonce and the leads of High School Musical and Mamma Mia!  Personally it didn’t do much for me but there wasn’t really anything wrong with it.

The Winners and Losers

Despite reading everywhere that there were going to be some ‘surprises’ this year at the Oscars, when it came to predicting the winners, there weren’t many surprises at all, especially in the major categories.  As expected, Slumdog Millionaire absolutely dominated, winning 8 of its 10 nominations including Best Picture and Best Director for Danny Boyle.  Also expected was the disappointment for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which, despite leading with 13 nominations, came away with just 3 wins.

Below is the total list of winners and how they compared with my predictions (and some thoughts). 

Best Picture

Winner: Slumdog Millionaire

My Pick: Slumdog Millionaire

Thoughts: A foregone conclusion by the time the last award of the night rolled around.  I don’t think there was one person in the audience that expected anyone else.  This just about completes a sweep of all the major awards for Slumdog Millionaire this year.  Was it deserving?  Probably yes.  Were there better films?  Absolutely.

Best Director

Winner: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)

My Pick: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)

Thoughts: Another one that was well in the bag even before the ceremony began.  Boyle’s acceptance speech was okay, nothing special.

Best Actor

Winner: Sean Penn (Milk)

My Pick: Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)

Thoughts: I thought based on merit, Penn and Rourke were neck and neck.  But I felt Rourke would take it out because Penn won not that long ago for Mystic River, and he’s the type of actor that will continue to be nominated as long as he’s acting.  Rourke on the other hand, was one of those heart-warming, comeback stories.  His character’s journey was very similar to that of his own.  I thought that may have struck a chord with the voters, but apparently not.  I think Penn won because: (1) he was truly brilliant and deserving; (2) the Academy likes portrayals of real people (especially in the last few years: Ray, Capote, The Last King of Scotland); and (3) Mickey Rourke must have really pissed off a lot of people.  Penn’s acceptance speech was gracious and genuine.  Some have criticised him for the slightly controversial comments about equal rights for homosexuals (eg marriage), but he probably would have been criticised too had he not said it.

Best Actress

Winner: Kate Winslet (The Reader)

My Pick: Kate Winslet (The Reader)

Thoughts: It was Kate’s time, and I was so glad to see her win after so many disappointments.  Some may say she was probably better in Revolutionary Road, but I don’t think she cares.  Congratulations!

Best Supporting Actor

Winner: Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)

My Pick: Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)

Thoughts: Since everyone expected this, it didn’t turn out to be the emotional affair one may have pictured a few months ago around the time the nominations were announced.  The acceptance speech given by Heath’s father and sister was relatively subdued.  Still, a great achievement, and his performance as The Joker will go down in history as one of the greatest.

Best Suporting Actress

Winner: Penelope Cruz (Vicki Cristina Barcelona)

My Pick: Penelope Cruz (Vicki Cristina Barcelona)

Thoughts: This category is usually seen as the most wide open, but as usual, the favourite prevailed.  While I thought she was good in the role, I didn’t feel it was worthy of the win, especially againt the other nominees in the group.  Personally I would have preferred Amy Adams or Taraji P Henson.

Best Original Screenplay

Winner: Milk

My Pick: In Bruges

Thoughts: Milk was the favourite but I expected an upset here with In Bruges, which had some early momentum that was quickly lost.  Should have known better than to best against the favourites.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Winner: Slumdog Millionaire

My Pick: Slumdog Millionaire

Thoughts: When one film has the momentum at the Oscars, they tend to sweep all the awards, irrespective of whether it was truly deserving.  In this case I think you could make a strong case for the winner, but I felt it was pretty borderline.  Any of the other nominees would have been worthy winners.

Cinematography

Winner: Slumdog Millionaire

My Pick: Slumdog Millionaire

Thoughts: Another one that goes with being the most popular film at the Oscars.

Editing

Winner: Slumdog Millionaire

My Pick: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Thoughts: I should have gone with the favourite, but I thought maybe the voters had a kittle sympathy for Button because it was sure to be pummeled by Slumdog in all the categories where both films were nominated.  I was wrong.

Art Direction

Winner: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

My Pick: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Thoughts: As I said, if Slumdog wasn’t nominated, and Button was, then Button would win.  I was right this time.

Costume Design

Winner: The Duchess

My Pick: The Duchess

Thoughts: The heavy favourite.  The film wasn’t known for much else.

Makeup

Winner: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

My Pick: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Thoughts: Well deserved win here.  The makeup was truly amazing.  Also because Slumdog wasn’t nominated, or else it might have been in trouble.

Visual Effects

Winner: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

My Pick: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Thoughts: Definitely a well-deserved win.  The most amazing special effects I’ve seen, probably ever!

Original Score

Winner: Slumdog Millionaire

My Pick: Slumdog Millionaire

Thoughts: Would have been good to see another winner here, but Slumdog was like a tornado this year, sweeping everything in its path.  I wonder whether the voters really paid attention to the particular category or whether they just went with the flow and voted everything Slumdog.

Original Song

Winner: Slumdog Millionaire

My Pick: Slumdog Millionaire

Thoughts: With 2 songs compared to WALL-E‘s one, this isn’t a surprise.  It’s the nominations that puzzled me.  I didn’t even know Slumdog had 2 songs, and I’m sure there are loads and loads of songs out there that could and should have been nominated.  I personally thought the theme song in Gran Torino (by Clint Eastwood) was awesome and at least deserved a nomination if not a win.

Sound

Winner: Slumdog Millionaire

My Pick: Slumdog Millionaire

Thoughts: Typical.

Sound Editing

Winner: The Dark Knight

My Pick: The Dark Knight

Thoughts: Very gald they got this one right because it was deserving.  And good to see one that Slumdog didn’t bag.

Animated Feature Film

Winner: WALL-E

My Pick: WALL-E

Thoughts: Possibly the most obvious choice of them all except for all of Slumdog’s wins.  Many thought WALL-E was a masterpiece and should have been in the Best Picture category.  I disagree, but it was certainly better than Kung Fu Panda.

Other winners

Best Foreign Language Film: Okuribito (Japan)

Best Feature Documentary: Man On Wire

Best Short Documentary: Smile Pinki

Best Short Animated Film: La Maison en petits cubes

Best Short Live Action Film: Spielzeugland

Thoughts: I did a prediction for these when the nominations were first announced, but they were just guesses because I hadn’t (and still haven’t) seen any of them, so I don’t think it’s entirely fair to make predictions on that basis.  Nevertheless, I managed to get Man On Wire (because I had heard of it) and Spielzeugland (because it sounded cool) correct.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My official predictions (which didn’t include documentaries, short films, foreign film, etc) did pretty well.  I came away with 16 correct guesses out of 19 categories.  If you include the other categories which I pretty much randomly guessed at the start, I got 18 out of 24.  The frightening thing is that it would not have been that hard to guess ALL of them, and I’m sure plenty of people did.  Just shows how predictable everything still is. 

Maybe a change in the voting system wouldn’t be such a bad idea?  It gets a bit boring when we all know who will win and it’s all driven by publicity and promotion rather than purely on merit.  But then again Meryl Streep might win every year and that would make it even more boring.

Predicting Oscars 09: who should win and who will

February 21, 2009 in Entertainment

oscarI’m excited.

The ceremony for the 81st Academy Awards is finally about to take place.  I’ve finally managed to see most of the nominated films for the major catgories that are available to me (see reviews here, here and here).  While I initially predicted the winners and losers when the nominations first came out (here and here), the landscape has changed a little and I feel that now, since I’ve seen most of the films, I can also comment on who deserves to win.

So for tomorrow night, here’s who should win and who will (only categories with films I’ve seen).  If there is an asterick (*) next to a nominee it means I have not seen that film (so my views do not include it).

Best Picture

slumdog-millionaire1Nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire

Who should win: All great movies.  Based on my ratings and reviews of the films, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Reader scored the highest marks, but I would give the nod to Button.  I just thought it was such an unusual and memorable film.  Though not quite as good, it had a certain Forrest Gump-feel to it (probably because of the same writer).

Who will win: Slumdog Millionaire has been tipped all along and there won’t be anything standing in its way come Oscar night.  There is a teeny little chance for an improbable upset by Button (which had the most nominations) but I can’t see any of the scandals derailing what should be a glorious night for Slumdog.  Especially now that all the child actors are coming to the ceremony (albeit after the voting).

Best Director

boyleNominees: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), Stephen Daldry (The Reader), David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon) Gus Van Sant (Milk)

Who should win: A very difficult one to pick because I feel they all did terrific jobs in their respective films.  If I had to pick one I’d have to go with Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire was just that little bit more extraordinary than the others, and the way he pieced it all together was absolutely masterful.

Who will win: Danny Boyle.  No doubt about it.

Best Actor

rourkeNominees: Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)*, Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon), Sean Penn (Milk), Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)

Who should win: A coin-toss between Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke.  I saw The Wrestler first and thought Rourke was a lock based on his emotional, nuanced performance, not to mention his amazing physical resemblance to a real-life wrestler.  You felt his physical pain in the ring, you felt his emotional pain outside of it.  It was the performance of a lifetime.  But then I saw Milk and Sean Penn’s performance just blew me away.  Yes, he was playing a real-life character, but man did he do it well.  You honestly believed he was the inspirational Harvey Milk.  Too hard for me to choose.

Who will win: Mickey Rourke.  He’s the sentimental favourite and Penn has already got one (for Mystic River).  The only way Rourke can lose is if he really pissed off as many people in the industry as he claims (and judging from his BAFTA acceptance speech I can kind of see how it might be possible).

Best Actress

kate-winslet-golden-globes-2009-best-actressNominees: Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Angelina Jolie (Changeling), Melissa Leo (Frozen River)*, Meryl Streep (Doubt), Kate Winslet (The Reader)

Who should win: Really tough choice.  I think as far as the performance is concerned, Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway are all very deserving (Jolie was very good but not quite there).  But based on the difficulty of the roles they had to play I would give Kate Winslet the edge.  Her character was so important to what The Reader was trying to tell and she played each phase of Hanna Schmitz’s life wonderfully.

Who will win: Kate Winslet.  It’s her time.  Streep is consistently this good so she won’t stand out as much, whereas Hathaway is young and she’ll have plenty of chances (plus her role is less sensational).

Best Supporting Actor

ledgerNominees: Josh Brolin (Milk), Robert Downey Jr (Tropic Thunder), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt), Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight), Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)

Who should win: Heath Ledger.  As terrific as Hoffman was in Doubt and Shannon was in Revolutionary Road, Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight will forever be remembered as one of the great ones.  I still remember when he was first cast as the Joker and plenty of people scoffed at the idea that he could pull it off (even after Brokeback Mountain).  No one is denying that he was the right man for the role now.

Who will win: Heath Ledger.  All the major awards leading up to the Oscars indicate he will win.  I honestly believe he deserves it, even if he were still alive today – the performance was that mesmerizing.  The fact that he’s not around anymore just about locks it in.

Best Supporting Actress

cruzNominees: Amy Adams (Doubt), Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Viola Davis (Doubt), Taraji P Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler)

Who should win: The ones that stood out for me were Amy Adams and Taraji P Henson.  Marisa Tomei was wonderful in The Wrestler but I liked the other two more.  Viola Davis was barely in Doubt, though she made great use of her limited screen time.  Penelope Cruz was good but I didn’t think the performance was Oscar-worthy – or maybe I just didn’t like the character.

Who will win: Penelope Cruz.  In this case, I think the least deserving will win.  She’s the most well-known of the group and her role was different and explosive.  Plus all the focus has been on her leading up to the Oscars.  I hope she doesn’t win but I think she will.

Best Original Screenplay

in-brugesNominees: Frozen River*, Happy-Go-Lucky*, In Bruges, Milk, WALL-E

Who should win: Having only seen 3 of the 5 nominees, I don’t feel sufficiently equipped to judge this one.  Out of the 3 films I did see, they were all very good, but probably In Bruges stood out as just being somewhat special.

Who will win: In Bruges has taken a lot of the lead-up awards, but WALL-E is also a favourite because it manages to do so much with so little dialogue.  I’m going with In Bruges but won’t be surprised in WALL-E took it out.  Note I originally picked Milk, but that was before I saw most of the films.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Doubt, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire

Who should win: “Adapted” screenplay is thrown around a little loosely because some of the scripts I’m sure barely resemble the original source.  Nevertheless, I thought the adaptation of The Reader was sensational, dealing with the majority of the themes and events perfectly in Bernhard Schlink’s novel.

Who will win: Originally picked Doubt but after seeing the film I felt the adaptation could have been better.  I have a feeling this award will be lumped with the bunch of awards that Slumdog Millionaire will win on the night.

Cinematography

Nominees: Changeling, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire

Who should win: Another tough one.  I’m don’t have any technical specialty so this is based purely on what I thought looked best.  And using that criterion, I thought Changeling was particularly memorable, though Slumdog Millionaire’s eye-opening portrayal of Mumbai was also impressive.

Who will win: Slumdog to bag another one.

Editing

Nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire

Who should win: Another technical one, but I liked the work in Button, where editing was particularly important.

Who will win: This might be one of those sympathy awards given to Button, which, despite all its nominations, continues to be beaten by Slumdog.  I hope so because I think in this case it deserves the award.

Art Direction

benjamin-button1Nominees: Changeling, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, The Duchess*, Revoluntionary Road

Who should win: I thought the Art Direction in Changeling was the best, though The Dark Knight was pretty cool too.

Who will win: A category where Slumdog was not nominated?  Chalk this one up to Button because when the two films go head to head, it’s going to lose out most times.

Makeup

Nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Who should win: No contest – the make-up in Button was just ridiculous.  Sure, Hellboy II was good, but we had seen it all in the first film.

Who will win: Button.  The make-up had to be seen to be believed – especially the old Cate Blanchett.

Visual Effects

buttonNominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Iron Man

Who should win: Another no contest in favour of Button.  As goods as the effects were in the two superhero films, the effects in Button were the best I’ve ever seen.  Freakishly amazing.

Who will win: See above.  Button all the way.  It cannot not win.

Costume Design

Nominees: Australia*, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Duchess*, Milk, Revoluntionary Road

Who should win: Only seen 3 of the 5 films, so not qualified.  Though from what I’ve seen of the other 2, The Duchess looked great.

Who will win: The Duchess had won the earlier awards so I look for the trend to continue.

Music (Original Score)

Nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Defiance*, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, WALL-E

Who should win: To be honest I can’t really remember much of the music in any of the films – except the Bollywood music in Slumdog.

Who will win: Slumdog, just because it’s the favourite to win.

Music (Original Song)

slumdogNominees: Slumdog Millionaire (twice), WALL-E

Who should win: Slumdog – one of the songs was pretty good.

Who will win: Slumdog – it has a 2 in 3 chance anyway.

Sound

Nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Slumdog Millionaire, WALL-E

Who should win: The sound in The Dark Knight stood out for me amongst the nominees.  It was probably the Batcycle.

Who will win: Slumdog.

Sound Editing

the-dark-knightNominees: The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Slumdog Millionaire, WALL-E, Wanted

Who should win: Now this I remember pretty well, and The Dark Knight was phenomenal.

Who will win: The Dark Knight.  I hope it gets this one – and Slumdog can’t just win them all.

Animated Film

walleNominees: Bolt*, Kung Fu Panda, WALL-E

Who should win: Not a big fan of animated films but WALL-E wasn’t too bad.  Kung Fu Panda was pretty ordinary and Bolt (which I haven’t seen) didn’t look too crash hot either.

Who will win: WALL-E – pretty much a lock. 

BAFTA Winners!

February 8, 2009 in Entertainment

bafta20logo

The winners of the last major film award ceremony before the Academy Awards, the BAFTA Awards (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), have just been announced!

I must say there weren’t many surprises, if any.  The big winner was of course Slumdog Millionaire, which came away with 7 awards (including Best Film) out of 11 nominations.  Danny Boyle, Kate Winslet and Heath Ledger also continued their strong runs to now look like certainties at the Oscars next month.

Full list of winners below.

Best Film: Slumdog Millionare

Best Actor: Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)

Best Actress: Kate Winslet (The Reader)

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)

Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)

Best Director: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)

Best British Film: Man on Wire

Best Original Screenplay: Martin McDonagh (In Bruges)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire)

Best Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire)

Best Editing: Chris Dickens (Slumdog Millionaire)

Best Production Design: Donald Grahan Burt, Victor J Zolfo (The Curious Case of Bejamin Button)

Best Costume Design: Michael O’Connor (The Duchess)

Best Make Up/Hair: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Best Film Music: AR Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire)

Best Sound: Slumdog Millionaire

Best Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Best Non-English Film: Il y a longtemps que je t’aime

Best Animated Feature Film: Wall-E

Orange Rising Star Award: Noel Clarke

Most Promising Newcomer: Steven McQueen (Hunger)

Best Short Animation: Wallace and Gromit in ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death

Best Short Film: September

 
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