Ledger, "Slumdog" and Streep should dominate
The Golden Globes have a special place in my heart.
No, it's not all those HFPA screenings filled with an international smorgasbord of perfumes and colognes I endured working in worldwide theatrical for Fox (that just caused allergy problems later on). See, back when I had time to organize such endeavors, I used to hold an annual Golden Globes party. I mean, anyone can have an Oscar or Super Bowl party, but this is the only night when the worlds of television and movies come together as one. And while certainly an odd pairing, it creates a bizarre kitschiness of A and C-level stars crossing paths in ways that just shouldn't be allowed, but must be celebrated!
Plus, as many of you are so keenly aware, the show itself has a party atmosphere to it that is hard to hide on TV (not that NBC wants to anymore) and there's something fun about watching your favorite star try to present or accept an award after having few too many vodka tonics from that open bar in the back of the room.
And in the context of awards season, the Globes actually can claim some influence this year (it's true!). The past few shows found the Globes airing after Oscar ballots were due, but this year the glorious HFPA will be able to claim they swayed last minute voters who waited until the 5 PM Monday deadline. That's a subject to wax about post-Oscar nods, but until then here are some predictions for Sunday night's spectacle.
BEST MOTION PICTURE, DRAMA
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"Slumdog Millionaire" – WINNER
Breakdown: It would be a big surprise for "Button" to beat "Millionaire" out for this one. The crowd pleaser should easily take this one home.
Streep and Hathaway tie, Ledger, Penn also winners
Ah, there is nothing like the magic of the Broadcast Film Critic's Association and the bigger and better Critic's Choice Awards. As the first major awards show of the season (no the People's Choice Award’s doesn't count) it seemed like a good idea to sit in front of the TV with an East Coast feed and, um, react.
Please, add your comments to the party. We can all pretend we're in Santa Monica too!
5:55 PM PST
Have you had enough of Sam Rubin yet? I hear there a lot of "last minute A-list arrivals" on the way.
5:56 PM PST
Big star no. 1! Jason Alexander.
(Well, it turns out there were lots of relevant stars on the pre-show, but I was enroute and missed them.)
6:00 PM PST
Alexander kicks off the show spending 10 minutes embarrassing Clint Eastwood, Mickey Rourke, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Oh, and he justifies the existence of the Broadcast Critic's because if not, we'd have to endure...his mother. Who also happens to be the president of the Boca Raton Mickey Rourke fan club. Hey, he was available, right?
6:10 PM PST
Josh Brolin and Kate Beckinsale look might fine, although the set behind them looks like Jonathan Adler designed it and that might not be a good thing.
Best Comedy Winner: "Tropic Thunder"
Accepting is Ben Stiller, who finally gets an award from an organization other than MTV. He's also growing his hair out. Interesting.
6:15 PM PST
Amanda Bynes and Corbin Bleu, two actors I can guarantee you won't be anywhere near the Oscar stage as presenters next month (or nominees for that matter), are here to present the Best Acting Ensemble Award.
(Geez, I haven't seen this many clips on an awards show since 1993. The BFCA members spend way too much time watching those EPK's.)
Best Acting Ensemble Winner: "Milk"
Josh Brolin wins an award! Where is Sean Penn? Shouldn't he be up at the mike? Why is he hiding? Is Emile Hirsch making a pirate movie (or a retro porn movie)? Nice.
Backstage interviews with whatshername from MTV. Awkward. Emile and Brolin excuses the rest of the cast for not coming up on stage and then Hirsch is forced to give a serious response about making a movie about Harvey Milk. Sell it baby!
6:23 PM PST
Common and Eva Longoria Parker are here to tell us: there’s a house band. Rooney.
Best Young Actor/Actress: Dev Patel, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Somewhere all the Searchlight publicists are cheering and jumping up and down, but...Dev isn't there! But his beautiful co-star is and this certainly doesn't hurt for his underdog shot at a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Where is Dev?
6:26 PM PST
Stop. Are they putting member's review comments over clips? Doe these people have no shame? (Why am I even asking?) I wanna see their quotes for "Fool's Gold" and "Meet Dave." Is Shawn Edwards in the house?
6:35 PM PST
Best Action Movie: "The Dark Knight"
Chris Nolan gives an OK speech. Let's be honest, he isn't he most charismatic fellow and never has been, but it's nice to see some recognition for his work in his hands instead of just those Warner Bros. checks (not that he's complaining)
Not much of a surprise as Howard and Van Sant make it five
Yawn, that’s it?
Yes, there was little excitement today as the Director’s Guild of America announced their five nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2008.
Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Lowdown: Still has the inside track to win the Oscar in this same category (right now at least).
David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Lowdown: The challenger who is coming on strong, but may have a better shot at winning here amongst his peers than on Oscar night.
Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon”
Lowdown: Happy to be here. Happy to give his fine flick more recognition than it can use at the box office (now back to editing “Angels and Demons”).
Christopher Nolan, “The Dark Knight”
Lowdown: Could be a surprise winner either here or on Oscar night, but at this point the recognition is the win.
Gus Van Sant, “Milk”
Lowdown: Another sign the movie will make the final five. Focus is no doubt breathing easier with each passing day.
So, that’s about it. Globes this Sunday, Oscar ballots due the next day with nominees on the 22nd.
Will we have surprises? At this point, it doesn't appear that we will.
Until Oscar night itself of course.
Look for live blogging of the Critic's Choice Awards tonight
What a day.
I get my first official HitFix comment (“Idiot boy”) for not remembering “WALL-E” was ineligible for a WGA nomination (I’m so glad you cared enough to post! And then apologize!).
Mickey Rourke continues his insane comeback by jumping aboard “Iron Man 2”*
*Dear Jon Favreau, please change the title of this flick to “Iron Man: When Whiplash Attacks” or “Iron Man II,” but whatever you do, please save us from the tacky no. “2.” You avoided “Swingers 2” and gave us “Made” instead. No reason you can’t do the same here.
McKellen gets all randy on the first day of TCAs.
“Watchmen” legal dispute seems to have a deadline (we think).
“Twilight” nation is at peace knowing Taylor Lautner has another five years before he’s starring on Sci-Fi network TV movies.
Tori Spelling is finally returning to the new “90210” (not that anyone cares anymore).
I sat through a truly horrible January release that made me want to see another horrible January release four times in a row to wash my mouth of it.
Oh, and the People’s Choice Awards were announced tonight. Whoopee. A show with categories almost as embarrassing as the American Music Awards or the MTV Movie Awards (at least they are trying to be funny). But, if you really care, here are the winners.
'Wrestler,' 'Milk' and 'Button' also solidify Oscar hopes in Screenplay categories
The Writer’s Guild of America announced the nominees for the 2008 WGA Awards. Without further ado, some reaction…
“Burn After Reading,” Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Lowdown: Um, really? Everybody loves the Coens I guess.
“Milk,” Written by Dustin Lance Black
Lowdown: Weak year, but congrats Mr. Black. You’re well on your way to an Oscar nod. West Hollywood may not be able to contain your ego any longer.
“Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” Written by Woody Allen
Lowdown: Master got his mojo back this summer and his peers didn’t forget.
“The Visitor,” Written by Tom McCarthy
Lowdown: Richard Jenkins is still a question mark for the Best Actor race, so this is most likely where the Academy will reward the well-respected Overture indie.
“The Wrestler,” Written by Robert Siegel
Lowdown: Good sign for the Oscars. Most likely in at this point.
Missing: Not a good sign for Pixar’s “WALL-E” if the writer’s couldn’t find room for it in a seriously weak year for this category. (Update: As noted by succinct HitFix member Hoffmry, "WALL-E" was not eligible for this award. Whoopsie! It's then pretty likely that the Coen's won't receive the same love they got here from the Academy.)
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Screenplay by Eric Roth; Screen Story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
Lowdown: Not a surprise. Has a good shot at winning both here and at the Oscars.
“The Dark Knight,” Screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan; Story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer
Lowdown. More relief for the Bat Team. Another sign the Best Picture nod is a clear lock at this point.
“Doubt,” Screenplay by John Patrick Shanley
Lowdown: Honestly a surprise. Has it really transcended its stage roots? Another win for Rudin and 42 West.
“Frost/Nixon,” Screenplay by Peter Morgan
Lowdown: Deserved and expected.
“Slumdog Millionaire,” Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy
Lowdown: The people’s choice. Should duke it out with “Button” in the winner’s circle.
Missing: Another dire sign for “Revolutionary Road.” The DreamWorks/Paramount Vantage flick may have to be satisfied with only acting recognition on Oscar Sunday.
“Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story,” Written by Stefan Forbes and Noland Walker
“Chicago 10,” Written by Brett Morgen
“Fuel,” Written by Johnny O'Hara
“Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson,” Screenplay by Alex Gibney
“Waltz with Bashir,” Written by Ari Folman
Earlier today, the American Society of Cinematographers announced their year-end award nominees. The finalists are:
Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC (“Revolutionary Road” and “The Reader”)
Anthony Dod Mantle, BSC (“Slumdog Millionaire”)
Chris Menges, ASC, BSC (“The Reader”)
Claudio Miranda (“The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button”)
Wally Pfister, ASC (“The Dark Knight”)
Of course, the rarity here is that “The Reader” received multiple nominations because the film needed to use two different DP’s during the course of production. If you hadn’t heard, Deakins was the originally cinematographer of the film. Unfortunately, when Nicole Kidman had to drop out of the title role because of pregnancy, the film went on hiatus until Kate Winslet came on board. During that time Deakins moved on to “Revolutionary Road” and Chris Menges came on board. All’s well that ends well and don’t look for this to happen on Oscar nomination morning.
In fact, the only question is whether Harris Savides, who expertly handled Gus Van Sant’s “Milk,” will receive his first Oscar nod instead of (most likely) Chris Menges.
More to come tomorrow with DGA nods on the way. Who’s in and who’s out?
'Dark Knight,' 'Reader' and 'Tropic Thunder' also make the bakeoff
Taps over at InContention has the exclusive breakdown of the seven finalists for the Academy’s Best Makeup award. Like the Visual Effects contenders, each contender will present to the branch members at a “bake off.” The members will then vote on the final three nominees who will be announced on the omring of Thursday, January 22.
The finalists are:
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Lowdown: Lock to make the final three. Has an excellent chance of winning unless there is some sort of backlash because of all the CG facial work in the picture.
“The Dark Knight”
Lowdown: Are they really not going to nominate the team that reinvented the iconic look of the Joker? Seriously?
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”
Lowdown: Serious contender, especially since so much makeup was involved in the look of numerous new characters.
Lowdown: While the old age work on Winslet here is more impressive than Blanchett’s later years in "Button,' it would be a major surprise to see it nominated.
“Synecdoche, New York”
Lowdown: Impressive work, but is it flashy enough to make the final cut?
Lowdown: Another strong candidate. Why the work on Ben Stiller for going full retard in “Simple Jack” alone…
Lowdown: Not sure there is enough here for this indie to break into the final three.
As Taps notes, the only surprises not to make this list are “W.,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” and “Frost/Nixon.” I’d also add “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” to that list, although it appears besides the bean counters, everyone else in town wants to forget it ever happened.
'Hellboy II,' 'Dark Knight' and 'Australia' also still alive
Ah, the fun stuff.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the seven remaining candidates in the running for the Visual Effects Oscar today and, as usual, there were a few surprises in the mix. The films that still have a shot of one of three nominations are:
“Australia,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Dark Knight,” “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” “Iron Man,” “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” and “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.”
It hasn’t been a banner year for special effects in general, but a few of these finalists are a result of the special effect house politicing and voting blocs that resulted in last year’s embarrassing win for “The Golden Compass” (please people, let’s avoid that this year, O.K.?) Like the Best Song category for the music branch, each candidate will be allowed to show 15-minute excerpts in a “bake off” for the Academy’s Visual Effect Branch that will occur on Thursday, Jan. 15. The members will then vote to nominate the final three nominees.
Here’s a rundown on each film’s chances:
Lowdown: Lots of landscape and period recreation work, but when compared to “Button,” hard to imagine it getting in.
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Lowdown: A lock. The production is selling itself on the work done to transfer Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett’s performances onto other actors of varying ages. It’s a legit contender to win.
“The Dark Knight”
Lowdown: Fanboys don’t want to hear it, but hard to see this one making the cut. Almost all the effects in the film are practical. It’s unclear how it even got this far.
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”
Lowdown: Impecably and artistically rendered, Guillermo Del Toro’s baby has a shot for sure.
Lowdown: Pretty safe to make the final three. ILM’s wizardry of bringing Iron Man to life flying through the air is hard to ignore and has been wowing audiences since it first appeared as test footage at Comic-Con in the summer of 2007.
“Journey to the Center of the Earth”
Lowdown: Dear God, No! Pt. 1.
“The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”
Lowdown: Dear God, No! Pt. 2.
Who’s missing? Well, the notable omissions include all that CG spice from “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “Hancock,” “Eagle Eye,” “Jumper,” “The Incredible Hulk” (ouch), “Jumper,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys.”
(You caught me. Just kidding on that last one, but had to see if you were still paying attention.)
The complete list of nominees for the 81st Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 22, 2009, at the ungodly hour of 5:30 a.m. PT at the Academy’s classy Samuel Goldwyn Theater. And the whole HitFix team will be there to give you the lowdown of what it all means for the big dance.
'Frost/Nixon' only PGA nod that could get knocked out
Breathe easy geeks. “The Dark Knight” is in.
Like the SAG Award nominations last month, the industry plays close attention to anytime the guilds start dolling out their annual awards. Why you ask? Because many of them are actually in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well. By placing Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed commercial blockbuster in its top five, the Producers sent a shot out across the bow that the picture is worth of serious Oscar consideration (something SAG failed to do by not including it as one of its Best Ensemble nominees).
So, while Christopher Nolan can smile this morning (and will no doubt have a wider grin when he receives a Director’s Guild nomination later this week), there are no doubt disappointed filmmakers and producers around town. It appears today’s announcement makes their Oscar chances of slipping into the big dance even slighter.
It was widely believed even before the holidays that “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Frost/Nixon” were locks. Those willing to take a bigger chance, including this prognosticator, put “The Dark Night” into that same category for reasons to numerous to recap here. The question was the fifth slot and, for the moment, appears to be “Milk’s” to loose.
The Gus Van Sant biopic received glowing reviews (seriously, it’s good, but not that good) and Sean Penn has been the winner of a number of key critics awards. However, its box office performance has been somewhat disappointing. No one is saying it should do “Brokeback Mountain” numbers, that’s ridiculous. And yet, when “Doubt,” “Gran Torino” and “Slumdog” are comparatively either leaving you in their dust or about to, that can’t be good. Still, with this nomination and the Best Ensemble nod from SAG last month, it’s hard to imagine any picture knocking “Milk” out of the running at this point. And that’s very bad news for “Revolutionary Road” and “Doubt.”
The only solace “Road” and “Doubt” producer Scott Rudin can take today, besides the fact he has a glistening best picture statue for “No Country for Old Men” in his living room or office, is that both films will be fixtures at the show with numerous acting and writing nominations.
Numerous industry types also continue to proclaim that “WALL-E” can sneak in as a best picture nominee, but don’t buy it. It might have made the animated category for PGA, but when there already is a Best Animated Feature category, it’s hard for voters to justify slotting it with the live action releases.
So, all is set right? No need to watch the nomination announcement on the 22nd.
One of the three has a week to surprise and knock off the tepid box office performer “Frost/Nixon” Yes, awards consultants, your Variety and LA Times ad are standing by.
Sean Penn, Sally Hawkins and 'Man on Wire' also recognized
As originally reported by Indiewire, the National Society of Film Critics announced the year-end awards on Saturday. At this point, with only eight days until Oscar ballots are due, the awards are basically a last minute addition to trade ads. And considering the pile of screeners most members sat through over the holidays, it’s hard to imagine this amounting to much, but debating whether the organization should vote earlier to have more of an impact on Awards Season will be tabled for another time. Instead, here’s some initial reaction to each of the winners.
BEST PICTURE: "Waltz with Bashir," directed by Ari Folman
Lowdown: Unconventional choice, but considering the events of the past few weeks in Gaza, incredibly timely. Could the current world situation find voters ignoring their “WALL-E” love and picking this stunning picture instead? Curious.
BEST DIRECTOR and SCREENPLAY: Mike Leigh, "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Lowdown: Considering how weak this category is this year, the previously nominated Leigh has an excellent chance of adding a sixth nod to his coffers.
BEST NON-FICTION FILM: "Man on Wire," directed by James Marsh
Lowdown: Is there any chance “Wire” won’t win Best Documentary?
BEST ACTOR: Sean Penn, "Milk"
Lowdown: He’s a lock to get the Oscar nod, question is whether he’s really the frontrunner or not. The SAG results will provide a big hint.
BEST ACTRESS: Sally Hawkins, "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Lowdown: Another nice critic’s award for Hawkins. She’ll have a blast at the Globes, but it remains to be seen if she can crack Oscar’s ladies club.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Eddie Marsan, "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Lowdown: Great working actor. Had fun chatting with him on the set of “Sherlock Holmes” (he plays Inspector Lestrade), but as great as he is in “Happy” it would be stunning to hear his name Oscar nominee morning.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Hanna Schygulla, "The Edge of Heaven"
Lowdown: Haven’t seen this Foreign Film contender yet, so I have no idea who this woman is, but I’m sure she’s very happy today.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: "Slumdog Millionaire," Anthony Dod Mantle
Lowdown: The Cinematographer’s Guild (ACE) nods will tell the tale for Oscar, but it would be surprising not to see him at the big dance.
BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM: "Razzle Dazzle," directed by Ken Jacobs
Lowdown: This movie was supposedly released in 2007, but who’s counting when it’s “experimental”? As a graduate of Cal Arts film program that was as far from Hollywood as you can get, glad one group is recognizing the art filmmakers out there.
Monday gets a lot more exciting with the announcement of the Producer’s Guild Association nominees. Yay.
Are Academy members smart enough to figure this out?
“Supposed” texts from Mickey Rourke trashing his good friend Sean Penn’s performance in “Milk”? Critics upset with their quotes being misrepresented in Oscar ads? Those are today’s Oscar controversies? Ha! I’ve got a real humdinger for you. One that doesn’t affect this year’s race, but 2009’s. (Wait, or is that 2010’s? I always get confused…) Anyway, while no doubt known to the studios in question, this drama came to light after this year’s movie previews hit the net.
Now, it’s rare that Hollywood studios don’t work out movie titles before production begins. In fact, that’s one of the unknown benefits of being a member of the MPAA, they make sure everyone plays fair in such matters (or they make you play fair). However, two movies with the same title, but spelled differently, are heading for release later this year: Focus Feature’s CG animated flick “9” and the Weinstein Company’s expected last gasp, “Nine.”
Normally, this wouldn’t matter much except for one thing: “Nine” is a total Oscar bait flick. Meaning? Although it’s filled with big names like Nicole Kidman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench and Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson, the musical’s box office performance is highly dependent on Awards Season love and, just about a year from now, Oscar nominations to drive its second wave of revenue. And yet, when the list of possible Oscar nominees appear on voter’s doorsteps (known as the Reminder List of Eligible Releases), do you know what title will be at the top of the list? “9.” No, not Harvey's hope for "Chicago Deux," but the post-apocalyptic animated flick that has online geeks buzzing. See, the nominee list members receive is alphabetical, but numbered titles appear first and there is little doubt that “9” will be a part of that list as well. Because unless Focus changes the title, there is no way it won't appear. And, yes, members have to write in their top five best picture nominees in order of preference, but every theatrical release is placed on the reminder list they receive from the Academy. Sounds dicey for Harvey, huh?
At this point, you’re no doubt thinking, “C’mon Ellwood, Academy members aren’t that dumb. They are smart enough to know the difference between the two movies. They can figure this out.” Really? Are you sure? Does the phrase “Roberto Benigni, Oscar-winner” mean anything to you?
I rest my case.
(Unknown fact: Anytime that travesty is uttered in the world, Ian McKellen and Nick Nolte receive soul-crunching shivers down their backs.)
Bizarrely, unlike their days at Miramax, the Weinstein’s have little leverage these days to get Focus to change "9's" title. With “Inglorious Basterds” their only other potential moneymaker in 2009, Harvey’s cinematic operations aren’t much of anything these days. Plus, without the benefits of being an official associate of the MPAA, they can’t make their case that Focus (an actual member through parent company Universal Studios) change the title since “Nine” is based on a well-established 1982 Broadway musical. What incentive does Focus have? After half the crap the Weinstein’s have pulled in this town, who'd want to help them? (Can I see a show of hands? Anyone? In the back row maybe?)
But who knows, maybe “9” will make it even more interesting by slipping into next year’s Oscar race based on its own merits. Wouldn’t that make it even more fun? Then again, it won't matter anyway, because every theatrical release is on that list.
Update: It looks like Glenn Dunks of Stale Popcorn already noticed the "9" vs. "Nine" title confusion in November, but he really didn't factor in the Oscar issue. Thanks to Taps at In Contention for spreading the word.