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marley_me1

Marley & Me

Film National Board Awards

Slumdog Millionaire

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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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oscar1

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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reader-still-1

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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frostnixonmovie

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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wrestler2

 

Rated R

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Starring Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Judah Friedlander, Ajay Naidu

Heidi’s Illustrious Rating: 4.5

Word of Warning: This is a movie for adults and the R rating is appropriate.

 

Complete with solid writing, a believable storyline and outstanding performances, I believe “The Wrestler” is one of the best movies of 2008. The movie opened in limited release, but with critical acclaim growing daily, it is now playing almost everywhere.

 

Read the rest of this review HERE.

 

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C2-GRAN_FR_C_^_FRIDAY

Rated R

Heidi’s Illustrious Rating: 4.5

Word of Warning: Language, racial slurs and violence – this one’s not for the kiddos or the easily offended.

 

Written, directed and starring an icon of our time, Clint Eastwood, “Gran Torino is one of the best movies of 2008 (it was in limited release during December, widely released in January). Clint Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a veteran of the Korean War and retiree from Ford Motors, living in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan.

 

Kowalski is a hard-as-nails, work-a-day man, who is emotionally distant from his two sons and their families. His wife has recently passed away and the neighborhood they have lived in for years has changed dramatically. His neighbors now represent various cultures, much different than his own and for the cantankerous, and at times, racist, Kowalski, it is almost more than he can take.

 

A conflict arises between Kowalski and his Hmong neighbors (many Hmong people fled to the United States from Vietnam, Thailand and Laos immediately after the Vietnam War). However, the conflict results in Kowalski inadvertently becoming involved in the lives of the two Hmong young people, brother and sister, Tao and Sue.

 

When a local gang begins relentlessly harassing Tao and Sue, Kowalski cannot simply stand by and watch; this time he intentionally becomes involved.

 

“Gran Torino” is much funnier than I had expected, and at times it is downright sad, but overall, it is one of the best movies of 2008, and I am hoping Eastwood finally takes home a Best Actor Oscar at the Academy Award on February 22.

 

 

***Also appearing in the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor

 

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