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Friday, December 05, 2008

Award Season Has Officially Begun

The National Board of Review has released their winners, officially kick-starting Awards Season.

Slumdog Millionaire took the top prize, and 2 other major awards, David Fincher won for Benjamin Button, a film that also took home screenplay honors. Clint Eastwood won best actor for Gran Turino, which took home original screenplay, though it looks to me like Dirt Hary: Retirement, but maybe its the new Eastwood so its got to be deeper than it looks.

Michele Leo won a "Spotlight" award for Frozen River. But if she was a larger named actress she'd be the Oscar favorite right now.

Top Ten Films: (In alphabetical order) BURN AFTER READING, CHANGELING, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, THE DARK KNIGHT, DEFIANCE, FROST/NIXON, GRAN TORINO, MILK, WALL-E, THE WRESTLER

Whoa, hold on a sec. Does this not count Slumdog, or did it win yet not make it to the top 10? Surprised to see Doubt left off the list but early buzz is its this year's There Will Be Blood in terms of reception.

Top Five Foreign Language Films: (In alphabetical order) EDGE OF HEAVEN, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, ROMAN DE GUERRE, A SECRET, WALTZ WITH BASHIR

Also interesting, and this is always a problem with foreign films, that Mongol, which one the Oscar last year, won the NBR award this year.

Top Five Documentary Films (In alphabetical order) AMERICAN TEEN, THE BETRAYAL (NERAKHOON), DEAR ZACHARY, ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD, ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED,


What's so ironic is that of the NBR's top 5 docs, and I complain about the doc category every year in the Oscars, only The Betrayal is on the Oscar short list. In a year where the Oscars supposedly readjusted the process to "fix" the category, it looks like they've screwed up again. Also really happy to see Let The Right One here. Would love to see that nominated for an oscar.


And perhaps I should now address the dilemma of this years Oscars. Wall-E probably deserves it. The Dark Knight deserves to be nominated. Milk is the cause celebre. Oscars ratings have been down pretty steadily each year. Last year had the best crop of nominees since 1989 or 1980 but few people saw those films. This year, there are two major films that audiences and critics embraced, one of which is one of the all-time industry cash cows. Alternately, Oscar has been criticized the past few years for being too safe and not as politically aware as it once was. With all the controversy around prop 8, it would seem that Milk would help alleviate that problem.

Now, none of this is based on the merits of any of the films themselves. Purely politics. If Oscar goes with Milk it risks alienating whatever conservative to middle America audience it has by reinforcing their views of Hollywood as made up of activist liberals. If it goes with The Dark Knight it may be seen as ignoring more arguably real-life issues in order to boost its ratings. Right now, my sources have Benjamin Button as the favorite. Then again no one's seen the film yet, so it quickly disappear.

Everyone's wondering if a comic book film can get nominated. I think the bigger question is, can Oscar go one step further and de-ghettoize animated films by nominating Wall-E. I would say docs too, but that's just crazy talk. Foreign films occasionally break out of the ghetto, but only occasionally.

Speaking of Ghettoization here's the NBR"s top 10 Independent Films

  • FROZEN RIVER
  • IN BRUGES
  • IN SEARCH OF A MIDNIGHT KISS
  • MR. FOE
  • RACHEL GETTING MARRIED
  • SNOW ANGELS
  • SON OF RAMBOW
  • WENDY AND LUCY
  • VICKY CRISTINA BARCELON
  • THE VISITOR

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