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The Oscars

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The Oscars

Postby Jedd the Jedi » Thu Feb 12, 2009 5:39 am

It's awards season in Hollywood and the UK, and the grandaddy of all those is coming up on February 22-that's right, the Oscars. This is the thread to discuss all things to do with the Oscars, particularly this year's nominees and later winners. You're also welcome to discuss former Oscar winners.

Here are this year's Best Picture Nominees

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Cean Chaffin
Frost/Nixon - Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Eric Fellner
Milk - Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen
The Reader - Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, Redmond Morris, Donna Gigliotti
Slumdog Millionaire - Christian Colson

I think Slumdog Millionaire is the clear frontrunner but I'd much rather The Curious Case of Benjamin Button take home the golden statuette. I think Slumdog Millionaire is a little overrated, lovely as it is, but Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a tad more visually exciting.

And since we're all geeks at heart, Best Visual Effects runners

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton, Craig Barron
The Dark Knight – Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber, Paul Franklin
Iron Man – John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick, Shane Mahan

Personally, I think Iron Man should take this one since Benjamin Button relied mainly on prosthetic effects and The Dark Knight's visual effects were not meant to be so obvious. Of course, the latter could well win for the Two-Face effects alone.

And of course, Heath Ledger is in the running for Best Supporting Actor. You might have some favourite movies you never knew were Best Pictures, and some fun facts you never knew:

Gladiator (2000)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)-Only fantasy film and threequel to win Best Picture
Schindler's List (1993)-Only black and white film to take Best Picture since 1960
Beauty and the Beast (1991)-Only animated film to take Best Picture
Shakespeare in Love (1998)-Last comedy to win Best Picture
Titanic (1997)-First Best Picture winner to be produced, directed, written, and edited by the same person (James Cameron)

Anyone who has anything to say and anything to add, please come and do so.

Once again, please, please don't lock this.
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Re: The Oscars Thread

Postby SamuraiMoose » Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:03 am

After seeing both "Milk" and "Slumdog Millionaire", I can honestly say that I hope Milk wins Best Picture. EVERYTHING was so well done; the acting, editing, pacing, and the source material was translated so well. Sean Penn was magnificent in it, and I really hope he wins Best Actor.

I still find it hilarious that Robert Downey Jr was nominated for his role in Tropic Thunder. Heath Ledger is the frontrunner for Supporting Actor, but I would laugh if Downey Jr wins.
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Re: The Oscars Thread

Postby Andi » Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:30 am

I haven't seen any of the Best Picture nominated movies yet, but at least 3 of them look really interesting and promising.
My alarm clock is already set for the night of the nights. Can't wait :-) One night in the year where I do not need any sleep at all (Oscars start around 2am and run till about 6 to 7am in my time zone).
Looking forward to see Hugh Jackman as host. Really sad that Billy Crystal doesn't do it anymore.
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Re: The Oscars Thread

Postby Masta' Bo » Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:46 am

I liked "The Curious Case of B. Button", but seriously? Brad Pitt, best actor? Never. I enjoyed the film whilst Benjamin was still a boy/very old man, and Brad Pitt kinda didn't offer much when he came in. There wasn't a really good plot, and it dragged on. Seriously, if you want to make someone's [fictional]life interesting, you have to write a good story. It was a subpar story, though I did enjoy the visual effects and the overall feel of the movie. Now, Forrest Gump was a well written and humorous life story that did not insist, so much, upon itself. In my mind, TDK, be it a comic book film or not, should have been nominated. It had a gripping plot and memorable characters. Oh well.
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Re: The Oscars

Postby Solo » Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:02 pm

Handy link for all the lazy sods half interested like me: http://www.oscar.com/nominees/?pn=nominees

Personally, I think the choices for best picture suck, and I hope WALL-E wipes the floor everywhere it can.
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Re: The Oscars

Postby Master Fetty » Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:10 pm

I'm a bit saddened that Frost/Nixon, despite garnering a load of nominations, has been overlooked as both a contender and a winner in the other big movie ceremonies. It is an absolutley spectacular film with great performances and beautifully shot to boot. And there is that ever-present ability Sheen has to just draw your eye whenever he appears. Here's hoping for a set of surprise wins.
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Re: The Oscars

Postby Jettbacca » Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:09 pm

I'm gonna bet all in with Heath Ledger and Mickey Rourke for the actors. I have not seen any of the best picture nominees but I think Slumdog Millionare will win.
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Re: The Oscars

Postby BigBenKenobi » Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:29 pm

Well, I only saw a few of the nominated movies. Those being Frost/Nixon, Milk, and The Dark Knight. I can honestly say they were all really awesome movies. I've got some hopes on which movies I think should win, but I'll just waut and see what happens.
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Re: The Oscars

Postby Big C » Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:49 pm

Jedd the Jedi wrote:Once again, please, please don't lock this.


Why would we lock this? Image
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Re: The Oscars

Postby Solo » Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:07 pm

Because it was originally, and needlessly, titled "The Oscars Thread" - automatically giving off a LOCK ME vibe. I removed that, and the first line about begging for it not to be locked. I didn't catch that last line though.

Look, people: saying things like "I hope this doesn't get locked" just makes us think it should be. So give it a rest. ;)
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Re: The Oscars

Postby TheBohrok » Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:36 pm

Jedd the Jedi wrote:Beauty and the Beast (1991)-Only animated film to take Best Picture

Actually, it's the only animated film to be nominated for best picture. It lost to Silence of the Lambs.

This year, the only thing I really care about is Wall-E. It got snubbed completely at the Annies, which has mirrored the Academy Awards for Best Animated Picture every time but once. I hope this year the Academy is different.
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Re: The Oscars

Postby Flynn » Thu Feb 12, 2009 9:26 pm

Well, considering it's only competition for Best Animated Picture is Kung Fu Panda and Bolt, I'd say we don't have to worry. ;)

I haven't seen any of the Best Picture nominees, but my family is planning on seeing all but The Reader (Because it sounds weird) and Milk (Because my parents hate Sean Penn to the point they can't stand anything he's in).
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Re: The Oscars

Postby Jedd the Jedi » Thu Feb 12, 2009 10:08 pm

Ah, but Don, everyone wants to lock everything nowadays, so I definitely wanted to ensure this didn't suffer that same fate. Thanks for the responses, everyone, I really appreciate it that this is becoming a very decent discussion. Personally, I think it's an injustice that there are five nominees for "major" categories such as Best Picture and Best Actress, but only three for "smaller" awards like Animated Feature, Visual Effects and Film Editing. I think everyone should be given a fair chance and that the Academy was very lazy in nominating Bolt and Kung Fu Panda (what in the world!?) as competition to WALL-E when British Awards ceremonies had more worthy (in my opinion at least) contenders such as foreign animated films like the animated documentary Waltz With Bashir. WALL-E is a shoo-in, but it sort of dampens the effect as it looks as if it had no real competition. Also, the Academy tends to be biased towards American films in major awards, so I hope Slumdog Millionaire is not overlooked. Don, I think it's not fair to generalise that all the Best Picture contenders this year "suck". Frost/Nixon and Milk were innovative and thought-provoking docu-dramas that are still applicable to today's politics, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a groundbreaking film with beautiful visuals and an entertaining "hook" (I refuse to call it a gimmick), The Reader explores post-war Germany and how the environment of the time affected personal relationships, something we've never seen, and Slumdog Millionaire takes the interesting premise of a down-and-out teenager winning a trivia gameshow, setting it against a vibrant cultural backdrop as well. They're all winners in their own right. However, it seems a little sad to me that almost all Best Pictures that have won in the past have been rated R and above. I'm not saying children should enjoy high-brow drama, but at least making it more accessible would help the film reach a wider demographic instead of simply garnering awards. Now, I'm not saying this because I'm a "kid" (I've seen my fair share of R-rated films, and not just gross-out comedies either). So, do chew on that.
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Re: The Oscars

Postby thepatient » Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:14 pm

I burned out on the Oscars a long time ago. The major categories are cool. Even though you have to hear about it for the next week on the news anyways, it just gets boring with all of these people patting themselves on the back. It drives me crazy when they get in to the more specific categories…

“And the winner for the best supporting actor who was filmed on a Tuesday, indoors, on a slightly rainy day, in the morning and is in a scene about trains going into a tunnel goes to…” :|
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Re: The Oscars

Postby Master Fetty » Sat Feb 14, 2009 4:50 pm

Well I saw Ben Button today (to a packed cinema I might add). It was good and the ending is certainly moving. It was nice to see how they dealed with his later life, which was pretty much ignored in the trailers. The tone was quite harsh at first - the 1920s America, followed by grimness, a return to 'classic' America and then more industrial, but the after effect of it makes it feel very real. The ending was extremely moving. I won't spoil it (those who've seen it may question what can be spoiled, but wait and see), but it nearly brought me to tears.
And I'd just like to raise how the whole jumping over huge periods of time reminded me greatly of Citizen Kane - one actor playing a character so convincingly throughout that you're unsure just when we're seeing them at their true age.

It's just a shame its nearly an hour too long. I admit some films can survive that epic length (Dark Knight is the most recent example, with Titanic being the best over all). Here, however, the film was severly crippled by it - not only because you can feel yourself being bored to death in the second act (when the novelty of the whole concept has worn off, but we're yet to reach Ben having to come to terms that his de-aging will have huge effects on other), but because when you come out of the cinema, you feel like you should have come out an hour before.

It is that one problem that cripples the film severly, robbing it of the greatness that some people claim it to have.

So Frost/Nixon still remains my favourite of the best picture nominated films. Perhaps seeing Slumdog next week will change my mind...
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Re: The Oscars

Postby Jedd the Jedi » Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:19 am

Hi everyone, I just saw Slumdog Millionaire on Saturday. It's one of the best films I've seen in a long time. I shall not dawdle any further and present you with my movie review.

Movie Review 15/2/09

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
2008

Starring: Dev Patel, Frieda Pinto, Anil Kapoor
Directed by: Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan
Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures and Pathé

How is it that a small, unassuming British film set in India with a cast where the only stars are unfamiliar to Western audiences and with no big studio backing is in the running for 10 Academy Awards, film’s highest accolades, including Best Picture?

A. The acting talent is unusually good
B. The creative and technical teams are geniuses
C. The Academy was feeling kinder than usual this year
D. It is written.

I’ll leave the answer to that question for the end of this review, you can take as long as you like, but you’ll have to decide on a final answer to lock in.

It is not everyday that a film with all the qualities listed above gets nominate for this many Oscars, let alone Best Picture. The film faces heady competition in the shape of films headlined by established Hollywood stars such as Brad Pitt and Mickey Rourke and British films do not usually receive consideration for the Best Picture. Therefore, there is something special about this gem of a film.

Jamal Malik (Patel) is a call center “chai-wallah”, or tea boy, who participates as a contestant in the game show Kaun Banega Crorepati, the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? in order to find his lost childhood sweetheart Latika (Pinto). Inexplicably answering the questions posed to him correctly, the show’s smarmy host Prem Kumar (Bollywood star Kapoor) has him arrested on suspicion of cheating. Tortured and then interrogated by the Police Inspector (Irfan Khan) and his dim lackey Constable Srivinas (Saurabh Shukla), Jamal tells the story of incidences in his life that taught him the answer to each question.

The film comprises a series of flashbacks depicting how a young Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar) and his conniving and largely disloyal older brother Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail) eke out a living in the slums of Mumbai. They operate an outhouse latrine from which Jamal, desperate for the autograph of his hero Amitabh Bachchan, has to escape when his brother locks him in. One stormy evening, Jamal spots a girl standing in the rain and his older brother reluctantly lets her into their makeshift shelter, thus helping Jamal meet the love of his life Latika (Rubina Ali).

Their adventures take a less innocent turn when the three children are taken in by Maman (Ankur Vikal), the treacherous leader of a “begging syndicate” which uses children to bring in the money, mutilating them so they can bring in more. Discovering the ugly truth, Salim mounts a daring escape for the three children. Salim and Jamal manage to get onto a train, but Latika is left behind, spurring a lifelong desire in Jamal to find her.

Spanning the following years, the two brothers live atop and in-between rickety train cars, stealing food from the galley and hawking goods to travellers. They “graduate” to stealing tourists’ shoes and masquerading as tour guides at the Taj Mahal. In one particularly humourous sequence, Jamal describes the world heritage site as a “five star hotel” built by Emperor Shah Jahan for Queen Mumtaz Mahal and says the Queen died in a “traffic accident”.

After some years, Jamal ( Tannay Chheda) finally convinces Salim (Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala) to go with him back to Mumbai to find Latika (Tanvi Ganesh Lokar). They have a frightening encounter with Maman and experience the lethal power of firearms, which eventually helps Jamal answer a question regarding the inventor of the revolver. Reunited, the trio take up residence in an abandoned hotel. However, Salim kicks Jamal out in order to claim Latika as his own and ends up getting involved with mobster Javed (Mahesh Manjrekar), eventually becoming one of his high-ranking lieutenants.

Now their grown incarnations, the brothers have a bittersweet reunion and Salim (Madhhur Mittal) eventually facilitates the escape of Latika, sold as a wife to Javed. Jamal returns to the studio to answer the last question. A heart-stopping sequence has Jamal use his “phone-a-friend” option and has Latika rushing to the ringing cell phone given to her by Salim.

The film has so many good points it would be impossible to list them all in one review. While it is far from perfect, Slumdog Millionaire is emotionally affecting on so many levels; I have almost never found myself so drawn into the world of a film, and an exceptionally well-crafted world at that. Part of the reason is that I was a contestant on the Singaporean version of the gameshow as a nine-year-old. I took home S$1000 (which to a nine-year old was a very handsome, if not drop-dead gorgeous, sum), if you really must know, but that’s besides the point.

The film is based on the award-winning novel Q and A by Indian diplomat and novelist Vikas Swarup. The story takes all the classic elements movie audiences have grown to know and, in some cases, love, such as the victory of the underdog, the rise from rags to riches, the long-lost childhood sweetheart and sibling rivalry and tension. However, director Danny Boyle of such revolutionary British films as Trainspotting (1996), 28 Days Later (2002) and Sunshine (2007) and ever the visionary, turns these conventions on their heads. He is also helped by the cultural aptitude of co-director Loveleen Tandan who makes obscure elements of Indian culture and history accessible to western audiences. The very intelligent thing that the filmmakers do is to take a typical Bollywood formula and trim off the excess for western audiences. For example, while characters do not break into spontaneous song and dance amid intense scenes, there is still a big ole-fashioned dance sequence during the credits.

Ultimately, the story is very character-driven so the quality of the acting is crucial to the success of the film. Thankfully, nearly all the actors flesh out their characters with emotion and believability, not once are there exagerrated gestures or forced lines noticeable onscreen. I realized that the personality of each of the characters is conveyed in just the faces of the actors alone: Dev Patel’s constantly clueless look belying someone who happens to know all the answers, Anil Kapoor easily communicating the slyness and charm of Prem Kumar, Frieda Pinto’s constantly worried expression portraying Latika as a hapless damsel-in-distress and Ankur Vikal’s evil smile as Maman just…creepy.

Special credit has to be given to the child actors who, despite being completely untrained and literally plucked off the streets and out of the real slums by Loveleen Tandan (who was also the casting director), display natural skill far beyond their years. There is also a remarkable consistency in the characterization of Jamal, Salim and Latika, even though each character is portrayed by three different actors.

However, it is the only star Anil Kapoor who ultimately steals the show with his nuanced portrayal of gameshow host Prem Kumar. He is obviously not rooting for Jamal, no matter how likeable the seemingly clueless “chai-wallah” appears. This rift between the slimy host and the street-smart contestant eventually develops into a veritable game of wits, this conveyed during some of the very best moments of the film. Kapoor wisely avoids overplaying the stereotype even though his Prem is a stock character. Despite the controlled environment of the Millionaire studio, Kapoor plays Prem with such dangerous unpredictability you never know how he might strike at the “slumdog” contestant next.

The atmosphere of the film is extremely magnetic, the smoky, over-populated Mumbai slums in stark contrast to the slick Millionaire studio and the hectic, modern atmosphere of the call center. The film has been blamed for exoticising or glamourising or even commercialising life in the slums, but I whole-heartedly disagree. I think that the filmmakers have strived to bring out all the different facets of life in India and while I’ve never been there myself, have to say that I was convinced that the film’s portrayal was fairly close to the real India. The slums look repulsive yet strangely beautiful and the cinematography alone makes one unable to help feeling a tinge of guilt looking at the ghastly living conditions, especially considering the relatively priveleged Singaporean lifestyle. Director of Photography Anthony Dod Mantle certainly deserves his Academy Award nomination for the many artistically-framed yet unpretentious scenes, as well as kinetic shaky-camera moments which he wisely does not overuse.

Having a television gameshow as the main plot point, the film brilliantly splices the format TV audiences would see (with closeups of the host and cotestant and the questions at the bottom of the screen) with behind-the-scenes footage of the inner workings of the set, including scenes of the producers in the control room. One particularly ingenious sequence has the movie camera pan directly behind the TV camera on set, producing a tense and eerily hynotising effect.

The air of the film is helped by the score by renowned Indian composer A.R. Rahman, also nominated for an Oscar. The kinetic, thumping music propels the film during its most intense moments. Of course, the memorable music of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? composed by by Keith and Matthew Strachan provide the tension during the studio scenes as well.

However, I feel the biggest contributor to Slumdog Millionaire’s success is the writing of Simon Beaufoy, famous for penning The Full Monty (1997). The scribe manages to seamlessly weave (pun not intended) the separate narratives from Jamal’s life into one cohesive story. All the acting and technical flair of the cast and crew would come to nought had it not been for Beaufoy’s remarkable interpretation of the original novel. Having a specific story behind the answer for the seemingly unrelated quiz questions is an ingenious storytelling device and one that the film rides on for its entire length.

So, back to the question I asked at the start of this review. I feel the answer should be the non-existent “all of the above”, but should I have to choose strictly I would say D. It is Written…very well. The resounding applause in the packed movie theatre I saw the film in is testament to that.

4.5/5 STARS

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Re: The Oscars

Postby Jettbacca » Sun Feb 22, 2009 4:56 pm

Well, tonight's the night! I can't wait! Only an hour and a half!
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Re: The Oscars

Postby BigBenKenobi » Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:51 pm

Yes it is :D . I for one am pretty curious to see which films will take home Oscars. I don't think I'll watch the entire thing though...it's a school night, I'm kinda tired, and I'll be able to see all the results tomorrow.
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Re: The Oscars

Postby Darth Vaultous » Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:59 pm

Well I'm glad to see that Wall-E won Best Animated Picture and that Heath Ledger won Best Supporting Actor. :)
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Re: The Oscars

Postby theJudeAbides » Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:25 pm

I'm sorry, but lack of Dark Knight and/or Iron Man being, at the very least, nominated for best picture = epic fail.
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