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The 81st Academy Award Nominations: The Big Show Goes Small

Posted by goldwriting on January 22, 2009

oscarDo you know how long I have been waiting to duel with someone. Seriously! I have the sword and everything.

For movie fanatics all over the world, this is the morning we wipe our crusted eyelids, roll clumsily out of bed and collapse on the couch to see the live announcement of the Academy Award nominations. It is more than a testament to the passion we have for cinema, it is a statement of how much we want to quickly and violently debate the fairness of the Academy’s choices. So, let the debate begin…

Best Motion Picture of the Year

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button



The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire (deserves to win, most likely winner)

What can anyone do to stop the steamrolling power of the Slumdog? Pretty much nothing. Sweeping every category it was nominated in at the Golden Globes, Slumdog has all the momentum and all the passion of an Oscar winner. It’s uplifting, full of hope and adversity, and overall everything the Academy voters love to rally around. When it wins for Best Picture it will also help paint the picture of the Academy as a more international accepting body of voters. I give great credit to Benjamin Button and Frost/Nixon for both being incredible films, but I don’t see them climbing over Slumdog for a win. Milk to me is over-nominated and I would have gladly let this one go in favor of The Dark Knight or Revolutionary Road. My disappointment over the snubbing of The Dark Knight isn’t truly due to thinking it would win the category, but because it would have given some validation to the comic book genre and really helped to boost the idea that these are not just costumed vigilantes on a violence bender, they are incredibly complex and moving stories available to be enjoyed by adults as well as kids. As for The Reader, Ricky Gervais must have been right when he told Kate Winslet at the Golden Globes, “See, just do the Holocaust movie and awards just come rolling in.”

Best Achievement in Directing

David Fincher: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Ron Howard: Frost/Nixon

Gus Van Sant: Milk

Stephen Daldry: The Reader

Danny Boyle: Slumdog Millionaire (deserves to win, most likely winner)

This is the first time since 1944 where there is an exact match between the Best Picture category and the Best Director. Commonly the two awards go hand-in-hand, but there is usually one oddball or mismatch between them. Not this year and my feelings remain pretty much the same from the previous category. Danny Boyle will walk away the winner.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Richard Jenkins: The Visitor (deserves to win)

Frank Langella: Frost/Nixon

Sean Penn: Milk

Brad Pitt: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Mickey Rourke: The Wrestler (most likely winner)

Now here is some excitement and tension for the night. The inclusion of dark horse Richard Jenkins throws a distinct wrench in the celebratory plans of Mickey Rourke, who took the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama. Jenkins hands down deserves the nomination and I am pulling for him to win. All these performances were incredibly strong, which could split the voting and leave Jenkins available for the sneak attack. The big money is on Rourke because of his Cinderella-esque return to the limelight, but I’m personally hedging my bets and putting some small change on Jenkins. Sean Penn can proudly stand here as the one thing I agree with in terms of nominations for Milk. He was the lightning rod for this film and it all hinged on his stellar performance. Langella and Pitt both were terrific, but the momentum and buzz are not behind them this year.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Josh Brolin: Milk

Robert Downey Jr.: Tropic Thunder

Philip Seymour Hoffman: Doubt

Heath Ledger: The Dark Knight (deserves to win, most likely winner)

Michael Shannon: Revolutionary Road

I was thinking about just leaving this area with one word, “Duh”, but that would steal my opportunity to praise and shout for the nomination of Michael Shannon. He was the most outstanding and powerful part of Revolutionary Road and I am thrilled he got the nod here. Yet, with that said, let me now return to my previous thought…


Ledger takes this.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Anne Hathaway: Rachel Getting Married (deserves to win)

Angelina Jolie: Changeling

Melissa Leo: Frozen River

Meryl Streep: Doubt

Kate Winslet: The Reader (most likely winner)

Who is Melissa Leo and what is this film, Frozen River? Pulling a repectful Jenkins-like move, Leo throws this semi-strong category into a whirl. Hathaway and Winslet are the two obvious front runners, with Hathaway almost sure to take the Independent Spirit Award the night before the Oscars and Winslet still fanning herself off after the double grab at the Golden Globes for both her roles this year. Holocaust subject matter aside, I think Hathaway was stronger in her role as an ex-junkie struggling with reintegrating herself into her own family, where as if Winslet had been nominated for Revolutionary Road instead of The Reader I would be more inclined to begrudgingly hand it to her. Streep can’t be totally counted out, especially since all four of the main actors from Doubt got nominations, but I think she will fall by the wayside here. Maybe when she lands there, she can bring Jolie a drink, she’s been down there all year.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams: Doubt

Penelope Cruz: Vicky Christina Barcelona

Viola Davis: Doubt

Taraji P. Henson: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Marisa Tomei: The Wrestler (deserves to win, most likely winner)

Even though Vicky Christina Barcelona took home the Golden Globe for Best Comedy, I think Penelope is the only one is this category you can count out of the running. The two Doubt women, Davis and Adams, were both sensational, but they might end up splitting that audience in half. This leaves Henson and Tomei to battle it out, with Tomei a touch ahead since I think she only lost out on the Globe because she was battling Winslet on her night-of-all-nights. If Henson pulls it out here, she will most likely be one of very few of the thirteen nominations for Button that will result in a win.

Best Animated Film of the Year


Kung Fu Panda

Wall-E (deserves to win, most likely winner)

I’m still baffled by all the acclaim for Bolt, but it really doesn’t matter this year. Wall-E lost out on a Best Picture nod most likely because everyone just wanted to give it this award and be done with it. Plan on Pixar walking away once again, proud of its tiny trashman.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Eric Roth: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

John Patrick Shanley: Doubt

Peter Morgan: Frost/Nixon

David Hare: The Reader

Simon Beaufoy: Slumdog Millionaire (deserves to win, most likely winner)

There’s a good chance Slumdog will continue its reign here, but it’s a strong category so anything could really happen. The Reader has pulled in lots of support and you can count on a huge studio push for the win, but the rest of the pack are no slouches either. Shanley wrote the play for Doubt as well as the screenplay and he was already heaped with acclaim for the stage version (surprisingly, the same holds true for Morgan with Frost/Nixon). Hare succeeded greatly with taking an incredibly minute starting point, a much loved, but much thinner short story, so his skill and credit comes from the expansion and illumination of tale we are lucky to not have missed. Anyone’s game, but I’ll lean towards the Bollywood train based on sheer momentum.

Best Original Screenplay

Courtney Hunt: Frozen River

Mike Leigh: Happy-Go-Lucky

Martin McDonagh: In Bruges

Dustin Lance Black: Milk

Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon: Wall-E (deserves to win, most likely winner)

Again, this is a category where Milk really doesn’t fit. I don’t see it as an original story since it was a biopic and mostly a dramatization of the documentary, The Life and Times of Harvey Milk. It’s a good film, but not what I consider an original story. Then there’s that mystery movie, Frozen River, once again. I really need to see this. Wall-E deserves writing acclaim without a doubt since the first twenty minutes were done beautifully with virtually no dialogue at all. That’s talent, people. Happy-Go-Lucky and In Bruges are getting more acclaim since both movies had their main actors recognized with Golden Globes this year, but I think this one will still end in the incredibly cute storage bin of our friend, Wall-E.

Best Achievement in Art Direction


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (deserves to win, most likely winner)

The Dark Knight

The Duchess

Revolutionary Road

The Duchess is a period drama and those tend to do well in this category. As for the rest, they are all incredibly picturesque and beautifully designed films, ranging from the aging, earthy tones of Button to the stark and stunning colors of Road, any of these films deserves the accolade on this night. Just for the sake of picking a winner, I’ll toss my tiny iota of support behind Button. (Sorry, Dark Knight, I still love you.)

Best Achievement in Cinematography


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire (deserves to win, most likely winner)

Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish the difference between Best Art Direction, which is how the film and its universe looks, and Best Cinematography, which is how the film is shot, which in turn show you how the universe looks. It’s a fine line, but this year I think the inventiveness of movement and pacing coupled with the saturated colors of India are going to bring Slumdog yet one more statue for the night.

Best Achievement in Costume Design


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (deserves to win, most likely to win)

The Duchess


Revolutionary Road

Except for The Duchess, these are all dramas set in fairly contemporary time periods, so the costume design was more about complementing the world and environment, whereas in Duchess gets to really show off the fashions of its 18th century era; big hair pieces, huge dresses and rib-crushing corsets. I’ll lean towards Button due it sheer volume of nominations and its clarity of vision inside the entire project, but this is truly a toss-up.

Best Documentary Feature

The Betrayal

Encounters at the End of the World

The Garden

Man on Wire (most likely to win)

Trouble the Water

I can’t put “deserves to win” here since I have seen absolutely none of these. I love documentaries, but I happen to miss this grouping completely. I’ve heard amazing things about Man on Wire from both friends and industry readings, so I’ll go with that one.

Best Documentary Short Subject

The Conscience of Nhem En

The Final Inch

Smile Pinki

– The Witness – From the Balcony of Room 306

Umm…[tries to read tea leaves]…uh…The Witness? Yeah, that’ll win.

Best Achievement in Film Editing

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Frost/Nixon (deserves to win)


Slumdog Millionaire (most likely winner)

Although the editing in Slumdog was sensational, I am happy to announce I think there is actually a better choice in this category. Frost/Nixon tackled a nearly yawn-inducing subject, one last interview with an old and broken man, and turned into a harrowing, sweat-filled ride towed along by brilliant pacing. Do I think it will actually win, nope, but it most certainly gets my vote for most deserving.

Best Foreign Language Film

The Baader Meinhof Complex

The Class



Waltz with Bashir (most likely winner)

Bashir took home the Globe and you can expect it will do the same here. Nothing but praise has been heaped on this oddly animated drama and I am itching for my chance to witness it myself.

Best Achievement in Makeup

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (most likely to win)

The Dark Knight

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (deserves to win)

The real choice here is what you find more impressive, making something look incredibly realistic with a mixture of CGI and practical makeup or making something fantastical come to life with prosthetics and makeup? The former would give you Button as the winner and the latter would give you Hellboy II, while the only makeup worth celebrating in Dark Knight is the insanely creepy and dripping face of the Joker. I would like to see Hellboy win here for the amazing work not only on the main character, but also the underworld villain Prince Nuada and his sister, Princess Nuala.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)

Alexander Desplat: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

James Newton Howard: Defiance

Danny Elfman: Milk

A.H. Rahman: Slumdog Millionaire (deserves to win, most likely winner)

Thomas Newman: Wall-E

While this might be the happiest group of characters Danny Elfman ever scored for, I think he will lose and quickly return to his gothic roots. Slumdog has a good chance due to its unique international flavor and the Golden Globe A.H. Rahman is already carrying, but the other three are very much in the running.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)

Peter Gabriel: “Down to Earth” from Wall-E (most likely winner)

Gulzar: “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire (deserves to win)

– A.R. Rahman, Maya Arulpragasam: “O Saya” from Slumdog Millionaire

There is a distinct lack of the man commonly referred to as “The Boss”! Why Bruce Springsteen didn’t get a nomination for the Golden Globe winning song he wrote and performed for The Wrestler is beyond me. Also surprising is the exclusion of Academy golden oldie, Clint Eastwood, and his warbling diddy for Gran Torino. With those two oddly out of the limelight, Gabriel could indeed walk away with it for his heartwarming tune, but Gulzar’s tune is the ending credits number and backs up a huge Bollywood dance number, which helps lift the audience to their feet after all the yearning and struggling they just witnessed. I’m going to put my mark there, while internally wishing I could actually dance like that.

Best Animated Short Film

La Maison en Petits Cubes

Lavatory – Lovestory


Presto (most likely winner)

This Way Up

Presto is the only one I have seen since it was shown before Wall-E in the theater, but the whole thing is done with no dialogue and is gut-wrenchingly funny. Plus, it’s a Pixar joint, so just give it the gold and be happy they want to make more.

Best Live Action Short Film

Auf der Strecke (On the Line)

Mannon on the Asphalt (most likely winner)

New Boy

The Pig

Spielzeugland (Toyland)

I’ll go with Mannon on the Asphalt because it makes me think of a montage of skateboarders faceplanting.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

The Dark Knight (deserves to win, most likely winner)

Iron Man

Slumdog Millionaire



The fact Wanted can now call itself an Academy Award nominated film just tickles me. There was some great sound work by all the nominees in this category, but here I will lovingly and joyously put my ballot into the box of Dark Knight. From the sounds of the jet engine of the Batmobile to the bone-crushing thud of Ledger’s head hitting the interrogation room table, this was a symphony of audio accomplishment.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight (deserves to win)

Slumdog Millionaire (most likely winner)



Evidently Iron Man didn’t mix as well as they edited. Odd. Anyway, I’d still like to see Dark Knight get this, but I think the voting block might split this one up. There might still be enough uber-love for Slumdog to pull this one through for them as well.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (deserves to win, most likely winner)

The Dark Knight

Iron Man

This is the one category where Button truly deserves to win, hands down. The character of Benjamin was so incredible and adorable, I couldn’t felt any more sympathy and yearning for him if he were sitting right in front of me. The only reason it worked was the sheer realism of this aged and decrepit child, so without any reservations, this one goes to them.

If you made it all the way down here, thanks once again for reading and I would love to hear your thoughts. Tell me I’m right, tell me I’m wrong, make me believe I missed out on something truly great or just let me know what you thought of that box of Raisinets you got at the movies (Were yours stale? Mine were last time, but I can’t stop getting them).
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Beat Dropping Macs to Baz’s Outback Epic: A day in the life of…(5/20)

Posted by goldwriting on May 19, 2008

1 – You think you have time on your hands, check out this music video made completely using the Mac desktop and programs. [via swissmiss]

2 – Fraggle Rock: The Live Action Musical, man that just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Off the bat you might think this is a crazy idea, but when Iron Man, Narnia, Inidana Jones and Wall-E prove complete and utter dominance over the box office, we can see why family films are the “green” way to go. All I really want to see in this is the Fraggles eat some Doozer buildings, which causes the Doozers to begin a Che-like revolution against their furry, multi-colored oppressors. Now that’s comedy. [via Variety]

3 – Watch the video attached to this page, then go outside and light up. I dare you. [via JoshSpear]

4 – This is generally how I feel about Monday mornings. [via Garfield Minus Garfield]

5 – Jonah Hill has been on a wild ride these past few years. Stealing scenes and winning over comedy critics in many of Judd Apatow’s recent hits, like Knocked Up, Superbad and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but now he’s making a step I could never have seen coming. He is reportedly heading up the project, and writing the script, for a silver screen version of 21 Jump Street. I’m not one to knock the show, it brought us Johnny Depp, Dustin Nguyen and Peter Deluise, not to mention a killer theme song by actress/star Holly Robinson Peete, but I don’t know if this is something that translates well. Narc’ing in high schools and busting pot rings might not hold the weight. Yet, if there is a Booker cameo by Richard Grieco, or if he actually turns out to be the villain, now we’re talking gold. [via FilmDrunk]

6 – This six minutes of stop motion animation must have taken months, but it’s worth years. [via GorillaMask via Liquid Generation]

7 – Foamy is back and this time I only have one word to say: cow-mouflage. [via ill will press]

8 – Have you ever wondered what “the good times” looked like? Check out this news video and learn. Pay close attention to the crawler on the bottom of the screen. [via swissmiss]

9 – Just in case you were wondering where Wile E. Coyote got all those neat gadgets, most of which he almost killed himself trying to use, here you go: The Online ACME Catalog. [via GorillaMask]

10 – It’s been years since we heard the beginning of this project, but we have finally got our first taste of Baz Luhrmann’s next epic film, Australia. Mmmmm, tastes like quality movie making to me. [via ComingSoon]

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Daily Musings 3/7

Posted by goldwriting on March 7, 2008

1 – If you think you can come up with a limerick better than “There once was a man from Nantucket…”, take your rhyming skills over to this online listing of voted on limericks. [thanks, Erin]

2 – I’m honestly frightened if this is what they are doing all day over in Russia. We are all doomed. [via Pandachute]

3 – Only a few more of these Touhou videos exist, so enjoy them slowly, like a nice tasty plate of chocolate chip cookie dough.

4 – Don’t call it a comeback! It’s official, the entire main cast of The Fast and the Furious is back for the fourth installment of the speed racing franchise. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker were the first to sign back on, but quietly Jordanna Brewster attached herself to the project and now they have announced the triumphant return of Michelle Rodriguez, after her stint in the poke for drunk driving and various other offenses. My Friday just officially became AWESOME! [via FilmDrunk]

5 – As you all know I am on the Obamamania train, but I will say here and now that if this kid was running for President, I would vote for him in a heartbeat. This took major courage to do in front of his entire congregation and I only wish I had thought of it myself during that all-too-built-up ceremony. Why do people seem to get stupider as they get older? [via CollegeHumor]

6 – Last month I had a link in my Charity of the Month section to Autism Speaks, a wonderful charity that donates time, money and services to the growing number of people with this condition. One of the main issues for people who have the more intense forms of Autism is their lack of coherent communication with the outside world. Now, as shown in this news report from the UK, the internet has once again placed itself as a link between one group looking to be properly understood and the rest of the world. [via William Gibson]

7 – If you have about ten minutes, you can be led down on of the most hilarious trails of gun-toting fantasy to be found online. Please take a moment and learn the trials and tribulations of the Mall Ninja!

8 – Here’s the newest Iron Man poster. Is it just me or does Jeff Bridges look like really pissed off version of Patrick Stewart?


9 – Can someone please draw up a prescription for cartoon Prozac and send it to Jon Arbuckle c/o Garfield Minus Garfield. Thanks, I would feel much better about his personal safety.


10 – I think a bill should be passed requiring every customer service rep or cold calling operator to have a chart plastered over there phone detailing the difference in time zones. This measure will hopefully curb the prevalence of idiots who forget that even though they are at work at 9:45am in Washington DC, the person they are trying to reach in Los Angeles is still softly in bed at 6:45am, enjoying the last fleeting moments of a dream where he was going to go free climbing outside a broken down dorm building. Grrrr…(yes, you are right in thinking this actually happened to me this morning).

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Daily Musings 2/29

Posted by goldwriting on February 29, 2008

1 – Let’s start off the day big:


Signed, sealed, delivered. I’m yours, Iron Man. [via Dave]

2 – There is Hollywood wrangling going in the back rooms recently over the fate of the TV hospital of hilarity, Scrubs. The show is produced by ABC Studios and aired by NBC, but the show is said to be in its seventh and final season right now. ABC is rumored to not want to let the show disappear and deals are possibly being given via secret handshake to bring the show over to ABC after this season is over. Evidently the whole cast in on board with the idea of continuing, including leading man Zach Braff who will live on under a contract that makes him one of the highest paid actors on television. NBC claims they have all the rights to whatever the show does and where ever the show goes per a first look deal with ABC Studios and I seriously doubt they will let the ratings earner slip over to Alphabet City. NBC should just send over their new American Gladiators to the ABC network offices. This will all be settled right quick. [via Coming Soon]

3 – Prince Harry did actually go to the front lines in Iraq and fight with his countrymen, but now since the world media has deemed it necessary for us all to know that, Harry is being pulled out for fear his unit will now be targeted specifically to eliminate him. Once again, the news media proves it thinks more about ratings and scooping everyone else than about the safety of those they report about. I bite my thumb at you! [via CNN]

4 – Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is planning to spin-off the character of Cleveland into his own show. I thought I would have more to say about this since I am a huge Family Guy fan, but I really have no idea where that show would go. Somehow I sense lots of socially irreverent humor about him being black, but that’s just a wild guess. [via ComingSoon]

5 – A screenwriter trying to find yet another way to subvert the system and use someone else’s idea for their own benefit has written a sequel to Juno and posted it up on eBay for any studios or producer to bid on. UPDATE: I tried to find this mysterious screenplay so I could laugh at the audacity of the writer, but it is nowhere to be found on eBay anymore. Ah well, the seller probably took it down because they were getting so many bids on it and it was getting in their way of stealing someone else’s work and writing There Will Be More Blood. [via Starpulse]

6 – I’m a fan of tattoos, got four myself, and I can attest to the myth that they are addicting, but this the line has to be drawn somewhere and I feel pretty confident in saying tattooing your eyeball is stepping over that line. [via Asylum]

7 – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls is set to premier at the Cannes Film Festival on May 18. No matter how great the film is, no matter how nostalgic I get watching it, I am still going to hate that title. Both Steven and George deserve a swift kick in the jimmy. [via ComingSoon]

8 – Office dare for the Day: Ask your boss if you can leave for the day to attend the Adult Novelties Expo. (wait, this is a dare? I mean that sounds like a perfectly legit reason for an extended lunch break)

9 – If you haven’t been keeping up with this amazing blog, start now and make each day just a little bit funnier and more demented: [via Garfield minus Garfield]


10 – To round off the morning, here’s another Touhou video, making fun of my favorite PSA commercial of all time:

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