Archive for February, 2009

This year’s Academy Awards show did not disappoint, nor did it provide many surprises. “Slumdog Millionaire,” nominated for ten Oscars, walked away with six, including Best Picture and Best Director. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” won only three Oscars, including Art Direction, Visual Effects and Makeup. Ron Howard’s critically acclaimed “Frost/Nixon,” and “Doubt” were both shut out.

Kate Winslet finally won Best Actress for “The Reader,” after having been nominated six times without a win. Winslet was in a talented field of women, which included Meryl Streep who has been nominated a record fifteen times.

Mickey Rourke, the sentimental favorite for Best Actor in “The Wrestler,” was taken down by five-time Academy Award nominee, Sean Penn. Penn won for his portray of Harvey Milk in the film “Milk.” It was his second Oscar. Penn’s acceptance speech included the line “I know I sometimes make it hard to appreciate me…” A truer line was never spoken, but the rest of his acceptance speech, though highly political, was delivered with enough eloquence to make me like it and him.

Other winners included, Penelope Cruz for Best Supporting Actress in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” and Health Ledger for Best Supporting Actor (posthumously) for “The Dark Knight.” Ledger’s parents and sister accepted the award on the late actor’s behalf while the camera panned the audience for tears.

There were a few flubs, including a curtain that opened late, a few botched lines and a few bad celebrity pairings. Sarah Jessica Parker and Daniel Craig were an odd couple. They presented Best Costume Design, which went to “The Duchess.” Parker’s dress looked straight out of Disney’s princess wardrobe, or something you might find on a pastry tray, while Craig just looked uncomfortable. The best celebrity pairing was Tina Fey and Steve Martin, who had the audience in stitches for their entire monologue.

Many bloggers were uncertain about the choice of Hugh Jackman as host of the 81st Academy Awards, but the former stage star held his own, even in his song and dance number with Beyonce Knoll. Best Original Score and Best Song went to “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The documentary “Man on Wire,” won Best Documentary, and the film’s star, high wire walker Philippe Petit, provided a little unscripted entertainment by magically making a coin disappear and balancing the Oscar on his chin.

Old Hollywood glamour seemed to be the theme of the night, from stage design to fashion. This year introduced a new format that featured such stars as Sophia Loren as presenters, which added to the old fashion feel of the show. The princess cut dress was popular with many including Angelina Jolie and Penelope Cruz. The one-shoulder look was worn elegantly by Kate Winslet, but looked a little frumpy on Freida Pinto. There were a few fashion messes, including Sarah Jessica Parker’s exploded cream puff dress and Reese Witherspoon’s modern art disaster.

My pick for best dressed would have to be Amy Adams, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Doubt.” Adams, a redhead, chose to be daring by wearing a red satin gown. In another nod to “old” Hollywood, many of the men, including Brad Pitt wore bow ties.


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Motion Picture: “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Actor: Sean Penn, “Milk.”

Actress: Kate Winslet, “The Reader.”

Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight.”

Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

Director: Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Foreign Film: “Departures,” Japan.

Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, “Milk.”

Animated Feature Film: “WALL-E.”

Art Direction: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

Cinematography: “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Sound Mixing: “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Sound Editing: “The Dark Knight.”

Original Score: “Slumdog Millionaire,” A.R. Rahman.

Original Song: “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire,” A.R. Rahman and Gulzar.

Costume: “The Duchess.”

Documentary Feature: “Man on Wire.”

Documentary (short subject): “Smile Pinki.”

Film Editing: “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Makeup: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

Animated Short Film: “La Maison en Petits Cubes.”

Live Action Short Film: “Spielzeugland (Toyland).”

Visual Effects: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

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From gowns to speeches, I am crazy about the Academy Awards.  I sit rapt through the red carpet show, the award ceremony and the follow-up best and worst dressed shows that will follow all week. Obviously, I look forward to the Academy Awards, and they are finally here.

Here are my illustrious predictions:

Documentary Feature – The Betrayal (Nerakhoon), Encounters at the End of the World, Garden, Man on Wire, Trouble the Waters

Who I like:  Man on Wire

Who will win:  Man on Wire

Actress in a Supporting Role – Amy Adams (Doubt), Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Viola Davis (Doubt), Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Maris Tomei (The Wrestler)

Who I like:  Marissa Tomei

Who will win: Taraji P. Henson

Actor in a Supporting Role – Josh Brolin (Milk), Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder), Philip Seymore Hoffman (Doubt), Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight), Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)

Who I like:  Robert Downey Jr.

Who will win:  Heath Ledger

Actress in a Leading Role – Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Angelina Jolie (Changeling), Melissa Leo (Frozen River), Meryl Streep (Doubt), Kate Winslet (The Reader)

Who I like:  Meryl Streep – Streep carries this film. 

Who will win:  Kate Winslet – It is Winslet’s year and I believe she will walk away with the little golden statue.

Actor in a Leading Role– Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon), Sean Penn (Milk), Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button),  Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)

Who I like:  Mickey Rourke – Rourke somehow makes this character lovable despite his many flaws.

Who will win:  Sean Penn – I think this film was well-timed and I do not believe the Academy is ready to give the ultimate award to Rourke.

Adapted Screenplay– The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Doubt, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire

Who I like:  Slumdog Millionaire

Who will win:  Slumdog Millionaire

Original Screenplay– Frozen River, Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges, Milk, WALL-E

Who I like:  In Bruges

Who will win:  Milk

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

Who I like:  Danny Boyle

Who will win:  Ron Howard – This may be a stretch, but I have a hunch about this one.

Best Picture– The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire

Who I like:  Slumdog Millionaire

Who will win: Slumdog Millionaire

Note:  I think Milk could be the upset, but I’m still going with Slumdog to win it all.

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Rated PG13

Directed by Henry Selick

Starring Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Ian McShane

Heidi’s Illustrious Rating: 3.75

Word of Warning: It may be a “cartoon,” but parents should heed the PG13 rating, this movie will be very frightening for young children.


Based on a best-selling children’s book, “Coraline,” by Neil Gaiman, is the story of an only child whose parents have recently moved into a big country house. It’s an odd place, with an assortment of odd neighbors. There is also a little locked door in the living room, which appears to have once led somewhere, but now opens to a wall a bricks.


Read the rest of this review HERE.

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Rated R

Directed by Stephen Daldry

Starring Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross, Hannah Herzprung, Karoline Herfurth

Heidi’s Illustrious Rating: 3

Word of Warning: Graphic sex scenes, this one is not for those who blush easily.


I’ve been watching previews of this movie for month and I really wanted to like “The Reader.” It was recently nominated for an Oscar in the Best Picture category, and Winslet snagged a nomination for Best Actress, as well as a win at the Golden Globes. After the nominations, I thought I’d love it, but I have now seen “The Reader,” I have mixed feelings abou the movie. 

Read the rest of this review HERE.


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Rated R

Directed by Ron Howard

Starring Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Toby Jones, Matthew MadFayden

Heidi’s Illustrious Rating: 3.5

Word of Warning: The R rating is entirely to a few four-letter words. Other than those words, it would have been a PG movie.


Good performance throughout the movie, in addition to the historical significance of the event, makes “Frost/Nixon” worth watching, but I do not feel it merits an Academy Award, but it is up for Best Picture.


Read the rest of this review HERE.

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