I’m Curious but have Doubt about The Spirit of a Seven Pound Slumdog Wrestler Getting Married on Revolutionary Road by Nixon The Reader in his Gran Torino

After reexamining the Golden Globe nominations, I realized that there are a ridiculous number of potentially great films coming out in the next month which I would love to see, as well as a few I should have by now. I will probably wind seeing most after New Year’s but before the Academy Awards.

Here are those which top my must-see list:

  1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  2. Doubt
  3. Frost/Nixon
  4. Gran Torino
  5. Rachel Getting Married
  6. The Reader
  7. Revolutionary Road
  8. Seven Pounds
  9. Slumdog Millionaire
  10. The Spirit
  11. The Wrestler

Thus far, the only Oscar-worthy movies I’ve seen this year are The Dark Knight, Milk and Wall E. I am on the fence about Changeling, although I do think that Clint Eastwood is one hell of a director.

For those of you who share my interest in the major film awards, I highly recommend that you visit and bookmark The Envelope, the LA Times’ extensive awards buzz blog.
Am I forgetting any pending releases?

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Good Grief, Golden Globes (Nomination Analysis)

I would like to start by stating that at least in my eyes, the Golden Globes are not as significant as the Emmys are for television and Oscars are for film. It is worth noting that the foreign press are the voting committee for the Globes, whereas those who create the films are the ones who determine the Academy Award nominations.

Every year around this time I tend to bemoan many of the major award nominations, and the 2008 Golden Globe nods are no exception. I find the separation of the film and acting categories (drama and comedy or musical) to be odd and unnecessary.

I have not had the opportunity to see many of the films yet, as most have only debuted in limited release. Those with an asterisk denote my personal choice in each category; who I want to win vs. who I think will win.



  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button *

  • Frost/Nixon

  • The Reader

  • Revolutionary Road

  • Slumdog Millionaire

I have not seen any of these yet and find it infuriating that Milk is not included.


  • Danny Boyle: Slumdog Millionaire

  • Stephen Daldry: The Reader

  • David Fincher Button: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button *

  • Ron Howard: Frost/Nixon

  • Sam Mendes: Revolutionary Road

My top choice is Gus Van Sant (for Milk), and he was not nominated. I simply do not understand this omission either.


  • Anne Hathaway: Rachel Getting Married

  • Angelina Jolie: Changeling

  • Meryl Streep: Doubt

  • Kristin Scott Thomas: I’ve Loved You So Long

  • Kate Winslet: Revolutionary Road *

This is her year. That Winslet is nominated in both acting categories for two films gives me great hope that the same may hold true for the Oscars, and she might finally make it to the podium this time.


  • Amy Adams: Doubt

  • Penelope Cruz: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

  • Viola Davis: Doubt

  • Marisa Tomei: The Wrestler

  • Kate Winslet: The Reader

I have heard the buzz around Tomei’s and Davis’ performances, so I wouldn’t be surprised if either won.


  • Leonardo Dicaprio: Revolutionary Road

  • Franky Langella: Frost/Nixon

  • Sean Penn: Milk *

  • Brad Pitt: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

  • Mickey Rourke: The Wrestler

Slam dunk.


  • Tom Cruise: Tropic Thunder

  • Robert Downey Jr.: Tropic Thunder

  • Ralph Fiennes: The Duchess

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman: Doubt

  • Heath Ledger: The Dark Knight

An obvious and deserving choice. I was slightly amused by Cruise’s performance, but by no means does he belong among this company and in category.


  • Burn After Reading

  • Happy-Go-Lucky

  • In Bruges

  • Mamma Mia! *

  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona

I was not very impressed with Burn After Reading and could not get through In Bruges. None of these will make the cut with regard to the Oscars and Best Picture.


  • Rebecca Hall: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

  • Sally Hawkins: Happy-Go-Lucky

  • Frances McDormand: Burn After Reading

  • Meryl Streep: Mamma Mia!

  • Emma Thompson: Last Chance Harvey *

Although I think Streep deserves it for taking a rare career risk and doing so with such joy and success, I am leaning toward a sentimental win for both Thompson and Hoffman (see below).


  • Javier Bardem: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

  • Colin Farrell: In Bruges

  • James Franco: Pineapple Express

  • Brendan Gleeson: In Bruges

  • Dustin Hoffman: Last Chance Harvey *


  • Bolt

  • Kung Fu Panda

  • Wall-E *

My second favorite Pixar film of all time, behind Monsters Inc.


Best Drama

  • Dexter
  • House
  • In Treatment
  • Mad Men *
  • True Blood

I believe Dexter is the better show overall, but Mad Men’s second season was nothing short of spectacular. That being said, I am outraged that In Treatment and True Blood are nominated and Lost is not. I really enjoy True Blood but it stumbled out of the gate and certainly did not have a flawless first season. I am not a fan of In Treatment and remain baffled by its many nods this year.  Lost, on the other hand, emerged from the writers strike as one of the most consistent, well produced and written series on television (network or cable).

Best Actor: Drama

  • Gabriel Byrne: In Treatment
  • Michael C. Hall: Dexter *
  • Jon Hamm: Mad Men
  • Hugh Laurie: House
  • Jonathan Rhys Meyers: The Tudors

Hall’s Dexter is one of the most eerily calm and charming serial killers in the history of television. Hamm is great, but his silent, subtle style does not compare.

Best Actress: Drama

  • Sally Field: Brothers & Sisters
  • Mariska Hargitay: Law and Order: SVU
  • January Jones: Mad Men *
  • Anna Paquin: True Blood
  • Kyra Sedgwick: The Closer

This was Betty Draper’s season and Jones’ year for sure.

Best Musical/Comedy

  • 30 Rock *
  • Californication
  • Entourage
  • The Office
  • Weeds

I truly don’t think there is a more entertaining half hour on TV. Weeds is my runner up, but this season was not as sublime.  The Office has lost a little steam, and blew it by letting Amy Ryan go.

Best Actor: Musical/Comedy

  • Alec Baldwin: 30 Rock *
  • Steve Carell: The Office
  • Kevin Connolly: Entourage
  • David Duchovny: Californication
  • Tony Shalhoub: Monk

Scratching head at all but Baldwin and Carell.

Best Actress: Musical/Comedy

  • Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
  • America Ferrera: Ugly Betty
  • Tina Fey: 30 Rock *
  • Debra Messing: The Starter Wife
  • Mary-Louise Parker: Weeds

This is the strongest category, in my opinion. And frankly, it’s refreshing not to see any Housewives. Fey is fantastic, but so are Parker and Applegate. I wish that they’d move Weeds into the Drama category, however.

Best Mini-Series 

  • A Raisin in the Sun
  • Bernard and Doris
  • Cranford
  • John Adams *
  • Recount

Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture

  • Ralph Fiennes: Bernard and Doris
  • Paul Giamatti: John Adams
  • Kevin Spacey: Recount *
  • Kiefer Sutherland: 24: Redemption
  • Tom Wilkinson: Recount

We need Spacey back on the big screen…in better films. I loved John Adams but never quite agreed with the casting of Giamatti.

Best Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture

  • Judi Dench: Cranford
  • Catherine Keener: An American Crime
  • Laura Linney: John Adams *
  • Shirley MacLaine: Coco Chanel
  • Susan Sarandon: Bernard and Doris

Linney’s performance was borderline perfection. However, Keener is phenomenal in An American Crime…a very disturbing film that I was able to see at Sundance in 2007.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Neil Patrick Harris: How I Met Your Mother
  • Denis Leary: Recount
  • Jeremy Piven: Entourage *
  • Blair Underwood: In Treatment
  • Tom Wilkinson: John Adams

I wish I watched HIMYM. Piven is the only reason I still tune in to Entourage.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Eileen Atkins: Cranford
  • Laura Dern: Recount
  • Melissa George: In Treatment
  • Rachel Griffiths: Brothers and Sisters *
  • Dianne Wiest: In Treatment

I have been a fan of Griffiths since Muriel’s Wedding and Six Feet Under. She really shines on B&S. Laura Dern’s turn as Katherine Harris in Recount is a very close second.

So…any thoughts of your own about the nominations that you’d care to share? I’m sure that I’ll attempt to live-blog the Golden Globes when they air on January 11, so stay tuned!

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Holy Hiphopopotamus! Flight of the Conchords Returns

Not only is the hysterical HBO series Flight of the Conchords returning for a second season on January 18, now is your chance to enter their Lip Dub Fantasterpiece contest.  Create an original video of yourself lip syncing to the Conchords’ song ‘Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros,’ and upload it on that site; the winning video will air on HBO.

If you haven’t tuned in to this very funny show, you’re in for quite an experience. The series follows the social exploits and failures of New Zealand friends Bret and Jermaine as they break into clever little tunes about their experiences living and performing in NYC. It is certainly one of the more unique shows on the air these days, a refreshing change of pace from standard sitcoms and network fare.

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Wii Are the World

Christmas has arrived early this year in the JOpinionated household! A lovely new Wii and Wii Fit were delivered on Hanukkah Harry’s handlebars (my version of a sled w/reindeer), even though that holiday doesn’t begin for a few weeks either.

We’ve named the new system Wiibert. She is interactive and far cheaper than a gym membership…although I strongly disagree with her assessment of my body mass index.  So far I am enjoying the balance, strengthening and yoga exercises, and my very competitive better half is mastering all sports games and just about everything else.

I made a deal with the Wii (what? she’s my personal trainer) – I will work out one time for every blog entry I post from here on out, alternating between the couch and the balance board. That sounds fair, right?

By the way, if you have any recommendations for games, please let me know!

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Penn + Van Sant = Oscar MILK

Last night I had the opportunity to see Milk at the historic Castro Theatre in San Francisco; what a phenomenal film and an unbelievably moving experience. It was quite surreal to be sitting in the very theatre that features so prominently on screen, in the exact location where the movie was filmed and where Harvey Milk lived and worked.

The Castro Theatre is a San Francisco landmark, the most iconic locale in the Castro district. As shown in the photo above, they were showing a montage of Milk photos before the screening, accompanied by an organist on a Wurlitzer (a tradition since 1979). I can’t imagine seeing Milk in any other theater in the world, and feel fortunate to have done so among those who either lived during that politically turbulent time or recognize and respect the significance that Milk has had on their city.

On a personal note…in 1996, my first apartment in SF was a short walking block from this theatre, and the film’s neighborhood accuracies produced many goosebumps and smiles of recognition.

I stand behind my predictions and thoughts about Milk from this post back in October.  I don’t have to wait for Oscar nominations to be announced; it will earn nods for Best Picture, Best Actor (Sean Penn), Best Director (Gus Van Sant) and Original Screenplay (Dustin Lance Black).

Milk is the most socially relevant film in recent memory, an educational and heartbreaking look back at the political rise of SF Supervisor Harvey Milk in the 1970′s. To be frank, it should have been released before November 4; I truly believe that this movie could have altered the outcome of Proposition 8 in California. The parallels to Proposition 6 thirty years ago are uncanny, and Milk’s leadership to help defeat that measure illuminates the fact that we do not have the powerful voice and direction of such a person today.

Sean Penn is absolutely astounding and accurate in his portrayal of Milk. He embodies the spirit and personality of the man with great ease and joy. We’re all familiar with Penn’s intensity, anger and passion on screen, but as Milk…it was unusual to witness such mirth in his eyes and performance. Before you jump to remind me about or defend Fast Times at Ridgemont High, know that it does not count or compare in my book; it was only Penn’s second film and before he developed into one of our finest actors.

To me, Penn as Milk is on par with Ledger as The Joker. Those two actors in those two roles may prove to be among the most impressive in cinematic history (or at least for 2008).

Josh Brolin, James Franco, Victor Garber and Emile Hirsch round out a very strong supporting cast, and I was amused by out actor Denis O’Hare’s role as conservative state senator John Briggs.

I have always appreciated Gus Van Sant’s style and films, but until now my favorites have been To Die For (1995) and Good Will Hunting (1997). His direction of Milk was brilliant, seamlessly intermingling archival footage with the new. It was as if we were watching a mesmerizing documentary, narrated by the ghost of Harvey Milk.

Do I recommend Milk? In a heartbeat. It is not a ‘gay’ film or a message movie; Milk is a touching historical biography that every teenager and adult in every small town and major city needs to see.

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