Awards Watch Archive for November, 2008

November 26

Ben Button pushes past Slumdog… and the Gurus pock some underdog contenders, lead by Richard Jenkins in The Visitor.

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Best Screenplay Chart

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Writer(s) – Film Comment Vicky Cristina Barcelona Milk – Rachel Getting Married – The Wrestler – Happy Go Lucky – – Che – W. – Gran Torino – Australia – Seven Pounds Changling – BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Writer(s) – Film Comment Slumdog Millionaire – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Doubt…

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Best Actress Chart

BEST ACTRESS Actress – Film Comment Meryl Streep – Doubt Cate Blanchett – Benjamin Button Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married Kristin Scott Thomas – I’ve Loved You So Long Kate Winslet – The Reader Kate Winslet – Revolutionary Road Nicole Kidman – Australia Sally Hawkins – Happy-Go-Lucky Michelle Williams – Wendy & Lucy Angelina…

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Best Actor Chart

BEST ACTOR Actor – Film Comment Sean Penn – Milk Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler Brad Pitt – Benjamin Button Benicio Del Toro – Che Hugh Jackman – Australia Josh Brolin – W. Richard Jenkins – The Visitor Will Smith – Seven Pounds Leonardo DiCaprio – Revolutionary Road Ralph Fiennes –…

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Best Director Chart

BEST DIRECTOR Director – Film Comment David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire Gus Van Sant – Milk Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon Baz Luhrmann – Australia Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight Steven Soderbergh – Che Jonathan Demme – Rachel Getting Married Clint Eastwood – Gran Torino Mike…

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Best Picture Chart

BEST PICTURE Picture Studio Director Stars Comment The Frontrunners (in alphabetical order – the mostly unseen) Nov 19 Slumdog Millionaire FxSch Boyle Patel Pinto Muscled Dec 19 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Par Fincher Pitt Some have seen it (not playing in Amsterdam), but verdict is still positive, but blurry Nov 26 Milk Focus…

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15 Weeks To Go, As The Season Turns

Last time we checked in on The Season, everyone was waiting for the last few films to grace us with their presence. And they have… and still… an odd silence… critics not sure just how far to stick their necks… But the ongoing theme of the entire season remains… that was okay/not bad/pretty good… This…

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November 19

In the first Gurus chart in the heat of the season, Slumdog tries to hold off Benjamin Button, the Supporting races seem locked in, and the battle for Best Actor goes 3 ways.

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Best Screenplay Chart

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Writer(s) – Film Comment Rachel Getting Married – Milk – The Wrestler – Vicky Cristina Barcelona Happy Go Lucky – – Gran Torino – Australia – Seven Pounds W. – Changling – BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Writer(s) – Film Comment Slumdog Millionaire – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Doubt – Frost/Nixon…

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Best Actress Chart

BEST ACTRESS Actress – Film Comment Meryl Streep – Doubt Cate Blanchett – Benjamin Button Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married Kristin Scott Thomas – I’ve Loved You So Long Kate Winslet – The Reader Kate Winslet – Revolutionary Road Nicole Kidman – Australia Sally Hawkins – Happy-Go-Lucky Michelle Williams – Wendy & Lucy Angelina…

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Best Actor Chart

BEST ACTOR Actor – Film Comment Sean Penn – Milk Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler Brad Pitt – Benjamin Button Benicio Del Toro – Che Hugh Jackman – Australia Josh Brolin – W. Leonardo DiCaprio – Revolutionary Road Richard Jenkins – The Visitor Will Smith – Seven Pounds Ralph Fiennes –…

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Best Director Chart

BEST DIRECTOR Director – Film Comment David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire Gus Van Sant – Milk Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon Baz Luhrmann – Australia Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight Steven Soderbergh – Che Jonathan Demme – Rachel Getting Married Clint Eastwood – Gran Torino Mike…

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16 Weeks To Go, High & Low

Around 12 years ago, Harry and Moriarty said, “Mr. Valenti, tear down that wall.” For the movie business, this was every bit as revolutionary – and maybe more so – than the Berlin Wall finally being pulled down. From the very beginning, the movie industry was about creating illusion, including the mythologies of the studio…

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Best Picture Chart

BEST PICTURE Picture Studio Director Stars Comment The Frontrunners (in alphabetical order – the mostly unseen) Nov 19 Slumdog Millionaire FxSch Boyle Patel Pinto Dec 19 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Par Fincher Pitt Nov 26 Milk Focus Van Sant Penn Brolin Dec 5 Frost/Nixon U Howard Langella Sheen Nov 26 Australia Fox Luhrmann…

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Best Screenplay Chart

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Writer(s) – Film Comment Rachel Getting Married – Milk – The Wrestler – Vicky Cristina Barcelona Happy Go Lucky – – Gran Torino – Defiance – Australia – Seven Pounds W. – Changling – BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Writer(s) – Film Comment Slumdog Millionaire – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Doubt…

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Best Actress Chart

BEST ACTRESS Actress – Film Comment Meryl Streep – Doubt The queen Cate Blanchett – Benjamin Button The princess Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married The next gen Kristin Scott Thomas – I’ve Loved You So Long The euro Kate Winslet – The Reader The great one… Kate Winslet – Revolutionary Road … who is…

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Best Actor Chart

BEST ACTOR Actor – Film Comment Sean Penn – Milk By this time next week, it will be clear. Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon Sock it to him? Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler Headlock. Brad Pitt – Benjamin Button Makes sense Hugh Jackman – Australia The only hero hero on tap. Benicio Del Toro – Che…

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Best Director Chart

BEST DIRECTOR Director – Film Comment David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire Gus Van Sant – Milk Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon Baz Luhrmann – Australia Clint Eastwood – Gran Torino Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight Steven Soderbergh – Che Jonathan Demme – Rachel Getting Married Stephen…

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Best Picture Chart

BEST PICTURE Picture Studio Director Stars Comment The Frontrunners (in alphabetical order – the mostly unseen) Nov 19 Slumdog Millionaire FxSch Boyle The Feel Good Movie-Movie Nov 26 Milk Focus Van Sant Penn Brolin Turns out not to be “just” a gay issue film, but a classic underdog biopic Dec 19 The Curious Case of…

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17 Weeks To Go, Four Months Suddenly Seems Like A Short Race

And now… awards season begins in earnest. Tick, tick, tick, tick… the last load of films will all be rolled out for media and awards voters within the next 4 weeks. And really, we’re down to five films already. Four of the “Five To Watch” are Oscar Insider movies. Two Kate Winslets (5 noms), one…

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Awards Watch

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin