jane austen + sci-fi: whaddaya think?

There are currently three projects on the way that fuse Pride & Prejudice (one of my most sacred cows) with sci-fi... basically zombies or aliens wreaking havoc on Jane Austen's most beloved cast of characters.

Do me a favor: read one or two (or all) of the following articles, then let me know what you think by answering the poll on the right.
  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS

four thoughts on the 81st oscars

  1. I got 6 out of 8 of my predictions ("who will win") correctly. That's a heck of a lot better than I did last year! (Captain Crash slaughtered me, and his movie knowledge is about on the same level of my rugby knowledge.) I missed two categories: Best Supporting Actress, which was pretty much a toss-up anyway, and Best Actor, which was probably close, but I did list Sean Penn as my pick who should win. So I'm going to claim it as a modest victory.

  2. I've heard some back and forth on this, but I fall solidly in the camp that loved Sunday night's show. We are so on the right track here. A few of the musical numbers seemed to start out a bit awkwardly, but always ended spectacularly. The structure of the show actually made sense (imagine that!), and I loved, loved, loved the idea of having previous winners pay tribute to each of the acting nominees. For the first time, the Academy put some weight behind the cliché that "it's an honor just to be nominated." I'd like to see this same idea implemented for some of the other categories (directing, writing), but I know that might be a little much.

  3. I've gotta soapbox it for a second. Rant alert. I am getting so tired of hearing people talk about how boring the Oscars is, how it doesn't make for good TV, how the awards are not in touch with the masses, and how they should just not televise some of the less-than-sexy awards (Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, etc.) If you agree with all that, I'm going to talk directly to you for a second: Get over yourself. The Oscars do not exist to entertain you. It's not about the TV production, and it's much bigger than what you choose to watch on one Sunday night a year. The movie-making process is a gargantuan undertaking, and most of the really hard workers are already relegated to an untelevised "Scientific and Technical Awards Banquet". We only have a few, major-as-hell technical awards at the televised Oscars, and you can suck it up and sit through the award that goes to the guy that labored for months making your movies just perfect. We do not need our Oscars to be dumbed down.

    If it weren't for the Academy Awards, our film industry would be completely money-driven, as opposed to mostly money-driven. We'd lose all the art, in favor of a money-making machine. The Oscars, other awards, and the acclaim that go with them, are why little movies like Frozen River and The Visitor even have the chance to exist. If it were not for that, do you think studio executives would spend a dime on a production that wouldn't appeal to the masses? Remember, these are the same masses that helped Beverly Hills Chihuahua stay at #1 at the box office for a week last October. I don't want the Oscars to relate to those masses!!! OK, I'm calm now. But just one more thing. Remember 1984? Remember the Fiction Department, with the computer-generated plots, characters, and storylines? Take away our way to honor the art within film, and see how long it takes to get there. I'm just saying.

  4. Finally, to end this post on a bit of a lighter note, I give you Pistola Whipped and her favorite Oscar moment, which was...

    "...when Jennifer Aniston was presenting with Jack Black and the camera cut away for an Angelina Jolie close-up. Her fake laughing should have stopped the ceremony so the producers could have grabbed the trophy from Penelope Cruz's hands and awarded it to Jolie. That was truly legendary acting. Her best ever."
...Click here for the rest of this tasty post.
  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS

nayana's 2009 oscar picks

As of last night, I've finally done it! I've had the chance to screen every movie that's nominated for a major Academy Award this year. And so, here you go: my Oscar picks for 2009.

Best Picture

Nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ~ Frost/Nixon ~ Milk ~ Slumdog Millionaire ~ The Reader

Who will win: Slumdog Millionaire. It's an underdog that's not under anything anymore. It's got 10 nominations overall, and has largely swept the awards circuit, getting major awards from BAFTA, the Golden Globes, the National Board of Review, the Producers Guild, the Screen Actors Guild, and the Writers Guild, among others. Plus, it's a great flick. This won't break my heart.

Who should win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Despite everything I just said, Benjamin Button was the film that captured my heart this year. I've heard a lot of people deride this movie as slow, weird, the second Forrest Gump... whatever. It was beautiful, and it touched me. That plus Cate Blanchett is all I need for a Best Picture. Besides, it didn't end with jazz hands. WTF, Slumdog?

Best Director

Nominees: David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ~ Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon ~ Gus Van Sant for Milk ~ Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire ~ Stephen Daldry for The Reader

Who will win: Danny Boyle. Besides the fact that Oscar likes to give Best Director and Best Picture to the same film, Boyle really did do a fantastic job with this one. On the other hand, it's cool that Stephen Daldry has gotten his third nomination...for his third film! No other director of at least three films has ever been nominated by the Academy for his entire body of work. Even so, Daldry will have to be happy with that. The Oscar goes to Boyle.

Who should win: David Fincher. Everything fit so well together in this movie: the flow of the story, the performance of the actors, the special effects, the overall feel. It was seamless, and for that I give credit to Fincher.

Best Actor

Nominees: Richard Jenkins for The Visitor ~ Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon ~ Sean Penn for Milk ~ Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ~ Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler

Who will win: Mickey Rourke. Everyone loves a comeback. And I'm thinking a lot of people just want to see what he'll do at the podium when he wins.

Who should win: Sean Penn. In all honesty, I think Sean Penn is kind of a tool. He's one of those people who takes himself way too seriously. But he can act. And he did a great job acquainting us with the flawed, brilliant, trailblazing Harvey Milk. Though I'm not a fan of his, Sean Penn did his job, and he deserves to be rewarded for it.

Best Actress

Nominees: Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married ~ Angelina Jolie for Changeling ~ Melissa Leo for Frozen River ~ Meryl Streep for Doubt ~ Kate Winslet for The Reader

Who will win: Kate Winslet. She's been previously nominated for her acting five times, and has yet to win an Oscar. Besides, her performance was brilliant, conflicted, and moving. I'll be happy for her.

Who should win: Angelina Jolie. I have similar feelings for Ms. Jolie as I do for Sean Penn: not a big fan of her personally, but I can't deny her acting ability. She knocked me on my ass in Changeling. By the way, I'd also be thrilled if Anne Hathaway took this one home. Her performance was powerful, touching, and (it may seem weird to say this about an Oscar nominee) underrated.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Josh Brolin for Milk ~ Robert Downey, Jr. for Tropic Thunder ~ Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt ~ Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight ~ Michael Shannon for Revolutionary Road

Who will win: Heath Ledger. It was an astounding, buzzed-about performance before Ledger's tragic death, and when he passed on, it became legendary. Voters will want to give him the Oscar he should have received for Brokeback Mountain.

Who should win: Heath Ledger. OK, I'll go along with that.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Amy Adams for Doubt ~ Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona ~ Viola Davis for Doubt ~ Taraji P. Henson for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ~ Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler

Who will win: Viola Davis. She's a long-respected theater actress, and she blew our minds with just one scene. She managed to take a position which was unthinkable and make it relatable.

Who should win: Amy Adams. Same movie, not as flashy... but perfect. Plus, I gotta root for my hometown girl.

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Courtney Hunt for Frozen River ~ Mike Leigh for Happy-Go-Lucky ~ Martin McDonagh for In Bruges ~ Dustin Lance Black for Milk ~ Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, and Pete Docter for WALL-E

Who will win: Dustin Lance Black. The Academy won't want Milk to go home empty-handed, and Best Actor is not necessarily a lock for Sean Penn.

Who should win: Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, and Pete Docter. A story almost without dialogue that moved audiences so profoundly; this hasn't happened since The Red Balloon.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: Eric Roth and Robin Swicord for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ~ John Patrick Shanley for Doubt ~ Peter Morgan for Frost/Nixon ~ David Hare for The Reader ~ Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire

Who will win: Simon Beaufoy. Slumdog'll sweep it.

Who should win: David Hare. I was a fan of the book, The Reader, and Hare didn't make me hate the film. It's a rare achievement (adapted screenwriting is harder than anything most of us will ever do), and it should be rewarded.

Best Animated Film

Nominees: Bolt ~ Kung Fu Panda ~ WALL-E

Who will win: WALL-E. Pixar has never made a bad film; in fact, they seem to get better and better. This romantic, touching fable deserves an Oscar sweep.

Who should win: WALL-E.

So, there you have it. Tune in Sunday night to see how it all unfolds... and then come back here next week to see me gloat... or, more likely, take my lumps.
...Click here for the rest of this tasty post.
  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS

LAMB devours the oscars: best actress

Note: this post was part of an annual feature at the LAMB entitled "LAMB Devours The Oscars". Each day one blogger discussed one category of the Academy Awards. To read more of the entries, click here.

As I've complained ad nauseum on The Center Seat, I've been a very bad film geek this year. I'll spare you the gory details, but life has conspired... and I've actually had to make a conscious effort to see all the 2009 Oscar films. But still, I thought I was doing pretty well... until Fletch assigned me Best Actress, a category in which I had, at that point, seen only one of the nominated films!

Actually, it was a good thing. I got off my booty and went to the theater (and, in one case, Blockbuster), and now I can hold my head up in the LAMB's distinguished company. So, here we go.

Melissa Leo, Frozen River

This was a gripping story about a recently single mother who resorts to border smuggling to pay the bills--and it's the Canadian border. Cool twist, right? We're saturated with Mexico border stories, so this was refreshing. And I have to say... maybe it was the snowy backdrop, or the northern accent, or the raw desperation to keep her head above water, but I saw a lot of people I know in Melissa Leo's character. She's real, frank, unadorned, the anti-glamour-puss. Of course a lot of the credit for that must be shared with the person who created the character: screenwriter Courtney Hunt, who is also nominated.

Leo is fairly unknown; a quick perusal of her IMDB page reveals lots of guest stints on Law & Order and CSI, and roles in various obscure films, perhaps the least obscure of which is Mr. Woodcock. Did you see that one? Yeah, me neither.

I'm actually really cool with Leo's obscurity. How great would it be if relative unknowns were nominated at every Academy Awards? Of course she doesn't have a chance in hell, but it'll be nice to see her there Sunday night.

Meryl Streep - Doubt

Meryl Streep has gotten fifteen Academy Award nominations. Fifteen. That's more than any other actor or actress in the history of the Oscars. I'm sure there's a chair somewhere in the Kodak Theatre with Meryl's ass-print permanently molded onto the seat.

Still, it shouldn't be a surprise. Girlfriend can act. Overall, Doubt was a bit depressing for me (it's the story of a priest who may or may not have misbehaved with one of his school's young male students), but it was one of those movies that seemed custom-built as a showcase for great acting. And, naturally, Streep didn't disappoint. She portrayed a harsh, militant nun who suspected the priest of wrongdoing and did all she could to prove herself right. That character had so much potential to be flat and uncomplicated, but Streep gave her flashes of humanity, with a fleeting look of uncertainty or a slight shaking of the hands. This is one case in which the actress seems to have made the character who she was. But, fairly or not, that's what we've come to expect of Meryl Streep. Anything less than perfection in her would be a disappointment. Kind of a tough place to put her in, huh? Whatever. She's got fifteen Oscar nominations.

Kate Winslet - The Reader

I came to this movie with the distinct disadvantage of having read the book. We all know that books tend to far surpass their movie adaptations. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this movie, with its raw sexuality and complicated morality.

It's hard to think of a more complicated, conflicted character to challenge Kate Winslet. In this movie, she played an illiterate Nazi war criminal who has an affair with a 16-year-old boy. It's kind of Summer of '42-meets-Judgment at Nuremberg-meets-...I don't know... a Lifetime movie about illiteracy. Of course Winslet pulls it off. She is somehow able to portray vulnerability and pride simultaneously, but perhaps her greatest feat is that we forget about Kate Winslet and instead become wholly absorbed in the story. This is a case, in contrast to Doubt, in which the acting is merely a part of the experience of the film.

Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married

This is it. We are officially no longer allowed to dismiss Anne Hathaway as Princess Mia. I think we all suspected she was awesome (how much ass did she kick in Brokeback?) but now, there it is in black and white. She is a contender for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

It wasn't just handed to her either. In a film which was sometimes difficult to watch, Hathaway delivered a stunning performance as a recovering addict trying to fit in with her family upon her return from rehab. She's the classic black sheep, but the issues go deeper than that. In fact, the myriad issues of this textbook dysfunctional family explode at perhaps the worst possible time: the days surrounding the wedding of the "good" sister.

I have never seen Anne Hathaway like this. She knocked me on my ass. Frankly, she would absolutely get my vote for this particular Oscar, if it had not been for the final contender in this category...

Angelina Jolie - Changeling

I get a lot of flak from people I respect (Pistola, I'm talking to you) about my professional regard for Ms. Jolie. In this case, it's sometimes hard to distinguish feelings about Jolie's personal choices from judgment of her acting ability. Many people dismiss her as a skank/homewrecker/baby factory/whatever, and I'm not necessarily arguing with that. But I have always been a fan of Angelina Jolie the actress. From her first major role as a doomed supermodel in Gia, to her Oscar-winning turn as a sociopathic mental patient in Girl, Interrupted, to her heartbreaking portrayal of her own friend Marianne Pearl in A Mighty Heart, to this most recent role as a bereaved mother in Changeling, Angelina Jolie is a devastating actress. Her work speaks for itself.

I was shaking after I saw Changeling... Jolie is heartbreaking as a mother who tirelessly fights to find her lost son, even angering police and being thrown in a mental institution in the process. Of course she's a great actress, but she brought something outstanding to this particular role. We all know, regardless of our personal feelings for her, that she loves her kids. In addition, she lost her own mother shortly before starting filming on Changeling. Perhaps it was this personal experience that allowed her to lay herself open on screen in such a raw way.

I am going to unabashedly throw my full support behind Angelina Jolie for this Oscar. But the truth is, no matter who wins this year, we can't lose. The Academy has nominated five outstanding actresses, and whoever wins will do so because of merit, and not because of pity, or politics, or "it's about time", as in certain previous years (Halle Berry, I'm looking at you.)
...Click here for the rest of this tasty post.
  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS
Copyright © 2008-2010 The Center Seat
Free WordPress Themes designed by EZwpthemes
Converted by Theme Craft
Powered by Blogger Templates