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Archive for December, 2008

Special Thank You

I would like to thank the 1500 plus Robert Downey Jr. fans who keep clicking on the photo link. You got me to 3500 a mere fifteen days after I hit 2000. I love you people.

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Notice

I am off for the Holidays and don’t know when I’ll post again. Please leave comments and I’ll try my best to get some computer time to update. I would like to wish everyone a happy holiday season, and please be safe. And don’t forget to watch a lot of good movies, enjoy some classic television, and listen to some awesome music.

Palais

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Michael Phelps, the 2008 Summer Olympics

Seriously, it’s an achievement that transcends nationality. Eight gold medals in the pool, and the guy becomes an instant celebrity.

Kristy Yamaguchi, Dancing With the Stars

The spring season was far superior to the recent fall one, despite the telegraphed ending. There was no way Kristy could lose outright, as she had the poise, elegance, and flexibility engineered into her figure skater’s soul. But the touching back story presented made me shed a tear, and her beautiful family made me smile. No one deserved it more. And her dancing? Phenomenal.

Heath  Ledger as the Joker, The Dark Knight


I finally saw it people. And it blew me away. Never big on Batman ( I prefer Batman, though, to Superman, but the X-Men rock my universe), But Ledger’s deliciously over the top, yet oddly restrained mad man just made me smile, then I remembered what we lost, and the sadness can be all consumming.

Jim Parsons as Dr. Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory

3

An astonishing comic performance from start to finish, a man blessed with impeccable timing and a fastidiousness that puts Niles Crane and Felix Unger to shame. But most crucially is despite Sheldon’s arrogant and haughty demeanor, we adore him, mostly because he really doesn’t give a rat’s ass about social mores and conventions, but also because he is actually surprisingly sweet in his own geektastic way, as the Saturnalia miracle hug he gave Penny indicated. It’s enough for this reviewer to admit that, yeah, I have a bit of a crush. I would not, however, give him a healthy ovum to grow his own Leonard Nimoy. That borders on supervillain-esque. And yet, I like how supervillain-esque Sheldon is. Jim Parsons is a comedic gem, and damn it, he deserves that Emmy slot currently taken up by Charlie Sheen ( I know I’m digressing, but the Emmys voted the wrong Chuck Lorre comedy into the awards- The Big Bang Theory is far superior).

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10. My Winnipeg

Canadian oddball surrealist Guy Maddin creates a masterpiece about his hometown, leading me to believe that if you live in Winnipeg, you must think like this man. Astonishing visuals and a surprisingly warm feeling.

9. Standard Operating Procedure

Errol Morris takes on the current mindset that torture is okay because the ends justify the means. Or do they? Morris, the legendary documentarian, makes a strong case that maybe, just maybe, what happens in Iraq should not stay in Iraq, and that those who excuse the methods as necessary need to think about what is ultimately more important- humanity or being right.

8. In Bruges

A sleeper, this droll little film about two hit men in the titular Belgian city is honestly one of the most charming, funniest films of the entire year. And Colin Farrell is actually good in this one!

7. Wall-E

It’s brave to use silence in film. It’s braver still when you use it in an animated film designed to get kids thinking. Entire stretches of Wall-E have no dialogue. But visually, it makes an impact that no Pixar film has done since Toy Story.

6. Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist

So sue me, I love this joyful little film about two people connecting over music. Possibly because that’s how I meet everyone myself. Charming, funny, and perfectly shot. Kat Dennings is one of this years great discoveries.

5. Rachel Getting Married

This tragic tale of family and pain remains the one film that truly made me feel all year long. Anne Hathaway’s Kym is a revelation. Rarely have I wanted to be a part of such a family. But I really wanted to be there. Props to Bill Irwin’s devoted, broken father, and Debra Winger’s astringent, vicious mother.

4. Tropic Thunder

Yes, the plot is more confusing than a Joyce novel. But I enjoy Joyce. And the performances are as such as I didn’t care the film made no sense, particularly Robert Downey Jr.’s amazing performance as method man extraordinaire Kirk Lazarus, Matthew McConaughey’s surprisingly sharp turn as the world’s most devoted agent, and a stunning Tom Cruise cameo that made me forget I now hate him.

3. The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan has done the impossible- make an accessible superhero film that doesn’t distract from the mythology, but actually adds to it. Christian Bale is by far the best, most believable Bruce Wayne in cinema history, and Heath Ledger’s Joker is a villain for the ages.

2. Slumdog Millionaire

This delightfully charming film tells a story of class and achievement, hope and despair, and game shows. An Early front runner for best picture during this award season, it would have been my number one, if not the fact I had more fun and totally adore one other film more. No other list will have it at number one, but I can’t help myself.

1. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Jason Segel did the impossible- he took the Judd Apatow formula and made it sweeter, raunchier, and funnier. This charming little love story/ break up disaster tale balances the sad story of Peter with the destructive overtures the world throws at him. Mila Kunis shines as the girl he meets in Hawaii, Kristin Bell is a perfect bitch, and Russell Brand’s star making turn is the greasiest, funniest thing on the big screen all year.

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”It’s very simple. Scissors cuts paper, paper covers rock, rock crushes lizard, lizard poisons Spock, Spock smashes scissors, scissors decapitates lizard, lizard eats paper, paper disproves Spock, Spock vaporizes rock, and, as it always has, rock crushes scissors.”
—Sheldon (Jim Parsons), explaining his new game of Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock, on The Big Bang Theory

” I never have any normal fans.”

Dr. Spencer Reid ( Matthew Gray Gubler), lamenting the fact yet another serial killer is a fan of his work, on Criminal Minds

“I hate New York! I’m sorry, but it’s true! Today, I was walking around PriceCo. Have you been there? It’s huge! All the stores in New York are so cramped! Every time I turn around I knock something over. I’m like some huge monster that came out of the oceans to destroy bodegas! …I’m too big for New York, okay! I’m always trying to fit into cramped little subway seats, or duck under doorways that were built a hundred and fifty years ago. “Hey, people are bigger now! Build bigger doorways! What the hell is wrong with you?” …And it’s so loud. All the time. Yes, I know it’s the city that never sleeps, but guess what? I like to sleep! I’ve been tired for eight years! Tired and scared, with black and blue marks on my elbows from trying to fit into all these tiny elf doorways! New Jersey’s great! It’s got huge stores, and lawns, and you never have to carry a cup again! For the rest of your life! I’m not afraid to say it: I love New Jersey! ”

– Marshall ( Jason Segel), ranting after spending time at Stella’s New Jersey home, on How I Met Your Mother

” I can see Russia from my house.”

-Sarah Palin ( Tina Fey), giving a press conference with Hillary Clinton ( Amy Poehler), on  SNL

”I am Shiva the destroyer and your harbinger of doom for this evening.”—Kym (Anne Hathaway) in Rachel Getting Married

Penny: Sheldon, it’s me.
Sheldon: You’re in my bedroom.
Penny: I need your help.
Sheldon: People aren’t suppose to be in my bedroom.
Penny: Well, can we talk in the living room?
Sheldon: I’m not wearing any pajama bottoms.
Penny: Why?
Sheldon: I spilled grape juice.
Penny: Well, can’t you put on other pajamas?
Sheldon: I can’t put on other pajamas, these are my Monday  pajamas! Penny, people really aren’t supposed to be in my bedroom!

– Penny ( Kaley Cuoco) and Sheldon ( Jim Parsons), after she enter’s his room in the middle of the night for game playing advise, on The Big Bang Theory

Penny: I know this is none of my business, but I just… I have to ask — what’s Sheldon’s deal?
Leonard: What do you mean, “deal”?
Penny: You know, like, what’s his deal? Is it girls…? Guys…? Sock puppets…?

– Penny ( Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard ( Johnny Galecki), after witnessing a girl fawning over an oblivious Sheldon ( Jim Parsons), on The Big Bang Theory

Penny: Sorry the napkin’s dirty, he wiped his mouth with it.
Sheldon: I possess the DNA of Leonard Nimoy?!
Penny: Well…yeah, I guess. But look, he signed it!
Sheldon: Do you realize what this means?!?! All I need is a healthy ovum and I can grow my own Leonard Nimoy!
Penny: Okay, all I’m giving you is the napkin, Sheldon.

– Sheldon ( Jim Parsons) and Penny ( Kaley Cuoco), after Sheldon opens his Christmas gift, on The Big Bang Theory. This is followed by Sheldon giving her a half dozen gift baskets and the funniest hug in the history of television.

” I kissed a girl and I liked it/ the taste of her cherry chapstick.”

– Katy Perry ” I Kissed A Girl”

 “Denny is my best friend. I love him with all my heart. If I could yank that horrible disease out of his body, I would fight it and I would win. I would use every ounce of my strength and I would win, if I could — but I can’t.” 

– Alan Shore ( James Spader), in front of the Supreme Court, on Boston Legal

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Straight No Chaser:

Some Pogues:

The Killers, directed by Matthew Gray Gubler:

Do they Know It’s Christmas 1984:

John Lennon’s classic ” Happy Xmas ( War Is Over)”

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10.  The season nine premiere of CSI

I stopped watching after Tarantino made a mark and other shows popped up. But the news Gary Dourdan was leaving was enough to make me tune in and see the cast actually act for what seems like the first time in four seasons. Emotionally charged, and William Peterson reminding me that at one point, he was an awesome actor.

9. Flashpoint

Every once in a while, a Canadian television show gets it right. this is one of those occasions. The thrilling SWAT team drama dazzles with it’s complex moral dilemmas, and Hugh Dillon is amazing as the aging hot shot with a chip on his shoulder. And Toronto is fucking TORONTO!

8. Top Chef

Food. Reality show. Anthony Bourdain. Knives. I’m surprised that no one has died. And did I mention food?

7. American Idol Season 7

The talent was astonishing even if the show itself was not. The gaffes made by Paula and clearly biased Randy made the show more controversial, and the Davids made it more exciting than most hockey games.

6. Project Runway

Like Top Chef, only with fabric swatches, and Tim Gunn, who is my hero for being able to put up with Kenley as well as he did. And Kenley was the best villain on television this year.

5. Life On Mars

As someone who loved the original BBC series, I was sure I would hate what ABC would do. I don’t. On the contrary, it’s the only new show I love this year. P.S.- best supporting role this year to Michael Imperioli’s ‘stache.

4. House Season Finale Parts 1 & 2

The first part, ” House’s Head”, was more of House trying to self destruct while looking for answers, but the second part ” Wilson’s Heart” is probably the shows greatest emotional moment.

3. How I Met Your Mother

It just keeps getting funnier. Not to mention Barney is still scum, but he’s evolving scum. And Marshall is still sweet, but he’s working for a huge corporate entity. And Lily is still the trash talking kindergarten teacher, but is contemplating motherhood. Robin is still more guy than the guys, but she’s lost in a sea of self doubt. And Ted? Well, he’s still searching for the mother. Some things just do not change.

2. The Big Bang Theory

It started off odd with a sperm bank, but it found it’s stride and is now the most consistently funny sitcom on television. Jim Parsons as Sheldon is possibly the funniest character on television.

1. Criminal Minds

The show has quickly become the best police drama on television. Exquisite acting and well thought out story lines make for the best hour on TV.

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Reigning AI champ David Cook turns 26 today. So, a little DC for the gurls out there in the world.

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The nominees for the SAG awards were announced this morning. The complete list below. As per usual, my picks are in bold.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
RICHARD JENKINS / Walter Vale – “THE VISITOR” (Overture Films)
FRANK LANGELLA / Richard Nixon – “FROST/NIXON” (Universal Pictures)
SEAN PENN / Harvey Milk – “MILK” (Focus Features)
BRAD PITT / Benjamin Button – “THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON” (Paramount Pictures)
MICKEY ROURKE / Randy – “THE WRESTLER” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
ANNE HATHAWAY /Kym- RACHEL GETTING MARRIED” (Sony Pictures Classics
ANGELINA JOLIE / Christine Collins – “CHANGELING” (Universal Pictures)
MELISSA LEO / Ray Eddy – “FROZEN RIVER” (Sony Pictures Classics)
MERYL STREEP / Sister Aloysius Beauvier – “DOUBT” (Miramax Films)
KATE WINSLET / April Wheeler – “REVOLUTIONARY ROAD” (Paramount Vantage)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
JOSH BROLIN / Dan White – “MILK” (Focus Features)
ROBERT DOWNEY, JR. / Kirk Lazarus – “TROPIC THUNDER” (Paramount Pictures)
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN / Father Brendan Flynn – “DOUBT” (Miramax Films)
HEATH LEDGER / Joker – “THE DARK KNIGHT” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
DEV PATEL / Older Jamal – “SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
AMY ADAMS / Sister James – “DOUBT” (Miramax Flms)
PENÉLOPE CRUZ / Maria Elena – “VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA” (The Weinstein Company)
VIOLA DAVIS / Mrs. Miller – “DOUBT” (Miramax Films)
TARAJI P. HENSON / Queenie – “THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON” (Paramount Pictures)

KATE WINSLET / Hanna Schmitz – “THE READER” (The Weinstein Company)

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
DOUBT (Miramax)
FROST/NIXON (Universal Pictures)
MILK (Focus Features)
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount Pictures)


PRIMETIME TELEVISION


Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
RALPH FIENNES / Bernard Lafferty – “BERNARD AND DORIS” (HBO)
PAUL GIAMATTI / John Adams “JOHN ADAMS (HBO)
KEVIN SPACEY / Ron Klain – “RECOUNT” (HBO)
KIEFER SUTHERLAND / Jack Bauer – “24: REDEMPTION” (FOX)
TOM WILKINSON / Benjamin Franklin – “JOHN ADAMS” (HBO)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
LAURA DERN / Katherine Harris – “RECOUNT” (HBO)
LAURA LINNEY / Abigail Adams – “JOHN ADAMS” (HBO)
SHIRLEY MacLAINE / Coco Chanel – “COCO CHANEL” (Lifetime)
PHYLICIA RASHAD / Lena Younger – “A RAISIN IN THE SUN” (ABC)
SUSAN SARANDON / Doris Duke – “BERNARD AND DORIS” (HBO)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
MICHAEL C. HALL / Dexter Morgan – “DEXTER” (Showtime)
JON HAMM / Don Draper – “MAD MEN” (AMC)
HUGH LAURIE / Gregory House – “HOUSE” (FOX)
WILLIAM SHATNER / Denny Crane – “BOSTON LEGAL” (ABC)
JAMES SPADER / Alan Shore – “BOSTON LEGAL” (ABC)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
SALLY FIELD / Nora Walker – “BROTHERS & SISTERS” (ABC)
MARISKA HARGITAY / Det. Olivia Benson – “LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT” (NBC)
HOLLY HUNTER / Grace Hanadarko – “SAVING GRACE” (TNT)
ELISABETH MOSS / Peggy Olson – “MAD MEN” (AMC
KYRA SEDGWICK / Dep. Chief Brenda Johnson – “THE CLOSER” (TNT)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
ALEC BALDWIN / Jack Donaghy – “30 ROCK” (NBC)
STEVE CARELL / Michael Scott – “THE OFFICE” (NBC)
DAVID DUCHOVNY / Hank Moody – “CALIFORNICATION” (Showtime)
JEREMY PIVEN / Ari Gold – “ENTOURAGE” (HBO)
TONY SHALHOUB / Adrian Monk – “MONK” (USA)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE / Samantha Newly – “SAMANTHA WHO?” (ABC)
AMERICA FERRERA / Betty Suarez – “UGLY BETTY” (ABC)
TINA FEY / Liz Lemon – “30 ROCK” (NBC)
MARY-LOUISE PARKER / Nancy Botwin – “WEEDS” (Showtime)
TRACEY ULLMAN / Various Characters – “TRACEY ULLMAN’S STATE OF THE UNION” (Showtime)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
BOSTON LEGAL (ABC)
DEXTER (Showtime)
HOUSE (Fox)
MAD MEN (AMC)
THE CLOSER (TNT)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
30 ROCK (NBC)
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC)
ENTOURAGE (HBO)
THE  OFFICE (NBC)
WEEDS (Showtime)

SAG HONORS FOR STUNT ENSEMBLES


Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
THE DARK KNIGHT (Warner Bros. Pictures)
HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY (Universal Pictures)
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (Paramount Pictures)
IRON MAN (Paramount Pictures)
WANTED (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (NBC)
HEROES (NBC)
PRISON BREAK (FOX)
THE UNIT (CBS)
THE CLOSER (TNT)


LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Screen Actors Guild Awards 45th Annual Life Achievement Award
James Earl Jones

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Dave Karger, Entertainment Weekly’s divine Oscar Watchman, has put forth his theory on what films are the front runner for the Best Picture race come Oscar time. He also backs that up with some proof of his theory, although I’m convinced he needs to go back further, to at least the early 90s, to solidify his point. As it is, it looks as though Doubt and Revolutionary Road are both goners. But it also leaves us a pool of nine films to choose from. I think that the six in the first category are generally the strongest, but do not count out Slumdog Millionaire, which keeps winning all these Best Film prizes against heavy hitters like The Dark Knight.

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American Film Institutes Top Ten of 2008:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Frost/Nixon
Frozen River
Gran Torino
Iron Man
Milk
Wall-E
Wendy and Lucy
The Wrestler

The Boston Film Critics Circle ( runner-ups in brackets)

Film:WALL-E” and “Slumdog Millionaire” (“Milk”)
Director: Gus Van Sant “Milk” and “Paranoid Park” (Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan“Slumdog Millionaire”)
Foreign Language:Let the Right One In” (“Waltz with Bashir”)
Ensemble:Tropic Thunder” (“The Visitor”)
Actor: Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler” and Sean Penn in “Milk” (Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon” and Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor”)
Actress: Sally Hawkins in “Happy-Go-Lucky” (Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married”)
Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight” (Robert Downey, “Tropic Thunder”)
Supporting Actress: Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (Viola Davis “Doubt”)
Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, “Milk” (Mike Leigh “Happy Go Lucky”)
First Film: Martin McDonagh “In Bruges” (Courtney Hunt, “Frozen River”; Lance Hammer, “Ballast”)
Documentary:Man on Wire” (“Young@Heart”)
Cinematography: Christopher Doyle and Rain Kathy Li, “Paranoid Park” (Anthony Dod Mantle, “Slumdog Millionaire”)
Editing: Chris Dickens, “Slumdog Millionaire” (Gus Van Sant, “Paranoid Park”)
Animated Film: “WALL-E” (“Waltz with Bashir”)

Best Movie Series of 2008
The Complete Joseph Losey (HFA)
Minnelli’s Melodramas (HFA)
No Borders, No Limits: Nikkatsu Action & 60s Japan (Brattle)
Return to the Grindhouse (Brattle)
Unseen Noir (HFA)

Best Revival of 2008
Taking Off (The Films of Milos Forman, MFA)
Noon Wine (Sam Peckinpah, Blood Poet, HFA)
The Exiles (MFA)
Underworld (Somerville Theatre)
Lola Montes (Coolidge Corner)

Special Awards
The BSFC would like to commend Bo Smith on the occasion of his departure as film curator of the Museum of Fine Arts. In his more than two decades at the helm of the film program, Bo brought a remarkable collection of film series and film artists to Boston and had a strong hand in making it one of the leading cities in the country to view non-mainstream and especially foreign film.

Stefanie Lubkowski, who has recently left the Museum of Fine Arts film program after several years there, catered tirelessly to our needs as Film & Concerts Press Coordinator, and, as Friends of Film Coordinator, brought that program online by encouraging and disseminating feedback about their special sneak previews.

Kelly Teer, manager of the Museum of Fine Arts’ auditorium for film exhibition, put a welcoming human face on a cultural institution. Before relinquishing her post this past summer after an 8-year tenure, Ms. Teer never did less than make a difficult job look easy, always ensuring smooth operations, from the box-office straight on to your seat.

Joe Zina leaves the Boston film scene immensely richer than when he stepped into the post of Executive Director of the Coolidge Corner Theatre in 1998. With tireless energy and flair, he oversaw the theater’s physical upgrade, the launch of a $2.5 million capital campaign, the institution of the Coolidge Award, and the sustaining of the Coolidge as a beloved and necessary neighborhood cultural fixture.

To Paul Sherman, for researching, authoring, and self-distributing
an instantly indispensible, one-of-a-kind film history, “Big Screen Boston: From Mystery Street to the Departed and Beyond.” For the fascinating story of Boston filmmaking, from imported blockbusters to tiny, heartfelt independents, Sherman’s book is the place to look.

To the Harvard Film Archive’s Steve Livernash, the unofficial dean of Hub 35mm projectionists, for setting a sterling example of film projection as a serious, aesthetic calling, and for extending his job definition to include film preservation. Generations of filmmakers are indebted to Steve for taking time at work to patch and mend their prints, so that the films can be projected in the proper way.

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Holy Crap!

I hit two thousand hits today, for which I ust thank my devoted BBAC readers ( I love you gurls!) and that freaky night where I got two hundred hits from that Alphainventions thing ( I still don’t get it.) To put in perspective. I had a Blogger blog for three years and I hit two thousand hits shorty before I pulled it in May.  I’ve had this one for two and a half months.

Thanks to the devoted few ( I know who you are, I see your comments at the other place), and for those of you who pop in every once in a while, thanks to you as well. Don’t be afraid to tell me that my taste sucks or rocks.

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Five fiction, five non-fiction, ten great. These are not in order, because I simply cannot choose.

Beautiful Children ( Charles Bock)- an astonishing debut novel, set in Las Vegas, about a missing child, the seedy underbelly of America’s city of sin is a character in it’s own right. Stunning, searing prose makes a slightly leaden premise shine, and the mixed up teens that populate the novel are colorful and believable.

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination ( Elizabeth McCracken)- the loss of a baby prenatally at any stage is painful, but to lose on in stillbirth has got to be beyond anguishing. McCracken’s personal tale is alternately heartbreaking and touchingly funny, as she tries to put together her life after the loss of her baby. Devastating.

The Lazarus Project ( Aleksander Hemon)- the fears of immigrants and anarchists in early 20th century America meet with the search of self, as the steeped in the Balkans culture author creates a world in which everyone is suspicious and everything is crucial to being at peace with oneself.

Lush Life ( Richard Price)- Price is one of my Favorite authors, as he is a master of dialogue, and i appreciate dialogue above all else. This novel, set in post- 9/11 Lower East Side New York City, is astonishingly detailed and richly written. He does lose some of the plot as he feeds his bigger themes, but damn it, when has being a big idea guy been a bad thing?

My Revolutions ( Hari Kunzru)- a former 60s radical lives a quiet suburban life with his wife before memory and blackmail turns his world upside down. A marvelously written tale about idealism gone awry, and the life long consequences of action.

Netherland ( Joseph O’Neill)- Another New York City in a post 9/11 world novel, certainly, but this novel about class, displacement, transplants, and rootless lives makes for a great companion to Price’s novel.  But it’s more than that. It may be one of the great love stories of the decade.

Outliers: : The Story Of Success ( Malcolm Gladwell)-  I admit to finishing this book approximately fourteen hours ago. The famed writer of people and social structure has created a book that makes you go ” Huh. ” As he observes the habits of highly successful people, Gladwell reminds us that the obvious sometimes is the only thing that leads us to fulfill our dreams.

Pictures At A Revolution: Five Movies And the Birth of New Hollywood ( Mark Harris): 1939 may have been the pinnacle, but the year everything changed forever remains up to debate. The 70s has been used extensively, as has 1969, but Harris’ ruminations on 1967 may be the most compelling argument of them all, that the best picture nominees of 1967 ( The Graduate, In the Heat Of The Night, Bonnie And Clyde, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, and Dr. Doolittle) are the snapshot of the upcoming cinematic revolt.

The Post-American World ( Fareed Zakaria)- the famed pundit gives his views on a world in which the U.S. role will shrink, but as opposed to being a pessimist, he seems encouraged by the decentralization of power- as long as it goes right.

The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare And How It Changed America ( David Hajdu)- a painstaking history of how pop culture is apparently to blame for society’s ills ( some things never change…), this book is possibly my favorite of the year. The history of William
Gaines, who was the center of the controversy, leads us to the ultimate prize. After losing his comic book empire, he went counter culture and gave us MAD. Brilliantly told.

Would be on the list if not written by a friend: The Real McCain ( Cliff Schecter).

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25. Constatines ” Hard Feelings”

Canadian art-punks bring us a grinding, hard charging about the difficulty of emotions.

24. Ne-Yo ” Closer”

Usher’s heir apparent delivers on a R&B-hip hop jam that is smoother than creamy peanut butter.

23. T.I. ” Whatever You Like”

He’s such a generous guy, over trippy hio hop beats and a surprisingly warm chorus.

22. Jordin Sparks f. Chris Brown ” No Air”

Gorgeous, soaring vocal gymnastics by two teen sensations as they sing about the importance of oxygen, but the devastation of love.

21. Kings Of Leon ” Sex On Fire”

Southern gothic melodrama, with ringing guitars, as the Followills literally set things a flame.

20. Kid Rock ” All Summer Long”

Someone had the courage to do what I always thought about- put ” sweet Home Alabama” and ” Werewolves of London” together and see how similar they are. Add lyrics about partying and booze and sex, you have a classic summer jam.

19. Vampire Weekend ” Oxford Comma”

Bouncy African beats mixed with lyrics about sex and punctuation. I’m not joking.

18. Flo Rida ” Low”

Inescapable spring jam about Apple Bottom jeans and Reeboks with the straps.

17. Adele ” Chasing Pavements”

Soulful ruminations about being torn between love or happiness.

16. Kanye West ” Love Lockdown”

Autotune works for the master, and he creates a song about loss and love that is for the ages.

15. Rihanna ” Take A Bow”

“Disturbia” got the glory, but this song about kicking his ass to the curb remains her strongest single.

14. Sam Roberts ” Them Kids”

More folk country rock from the Canadian master of the guitar, with a charming SIMS inspired video mixed with 50s nostalgia.  A song about the fact kids don’t dance to rock and roll anymore.

13.  P!nk ” Sober”

” So What” maybe the typical hard rocking kiss off we expect from her, but Pink’s second single from her album is a more mature, honest song about divorce, alcohol, and love.

12. Katy Perry ” I Kissed A Girl”

Bouncy fun about same sex experiments and old fashioned button pushing. Not as jaw dropping as Jill Sobule’s track of the same name, but this grimy flirty track is a delight.

11. Estelle f. Kanye West ” American Boy”

Soulful British song stylist asking for a trip to NYC. Girl knows her shit. Discofied brilliance.

10.  Ting Tings ” Shut Up And Let Me Go”

Duo of punk inspired dance artists sing about how you are never gonna hit this again.

9. City And Colour ” Waiting…”

Quiet acoustic jam about waiting for the end of everything. Depression sounds almost peaceful.

8. David Cook ” Bar ba Sol”

Grinding punk guitar stylings mixed with lyrics about regretting the night before, where alcohol and possibly blonde skanks played a role in humiliation. Did I just say that?

7.  Billy Talent f. Rise Against ” Turn Your Back”

Two of the modern punk bands of note dress us down for ignoring the ecological disasters looming in the near future.

6. Duffy ” Mercy”

Sixties style pop soul with a Dusty vibe, and a girl with a voice grittier than gravel.

5. Hedley ” Old School”

Jacob Hoggard reminisces about setting tires on fire and the days where little mattered except getting wasted behind the old school.

4. Coldplay ” Violet Hill”

” Viva La Vida” has gotten all the glory, but this first single remains their grittiest, gungiest track. And the lyrics are mysteriously baroque and the vocals soar.

3. Metro Station ” Shake It”

Eighties inspired dance rock. God, how I’ve missed this stuff. Vaguely reminds me of Flock of Seagulls and Loverboy. Weird, but wonderful. And frickin’ catchy.

2. R.E.M. ” I’m Gonna D.J.”

Alt rock fore fathers come back to form with raging guitars and a plan for the end of days. I wanna be at that party.

1. M.I.A. ” Paper Planes”

I want to thank Seth Rogan and David Gordon Green for allowing this song to explode after the trailer for Pineapple Express introduced it to the world. Clash inspired guns and cash registers mixed with trip hop beats and the idea of exceeding what your borders permit. Stunning.

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20. David Cook David Cook

The mysteries of life. Idol winner’s first albums as a rule are supposed to suck hardcore. Except if you’re Kelly and manage to sneak ” Low” on yours.
Or Carrie and you luck out with ” Before He Cheats”. But David C. managed to do something surprising- delivering a rather cohesive ( more shocking considering the group think writing) rock album that was among the best rock albums of the year. ” Bar Ba Sol” is simply one of the best rock songs of 2008 period, and ” Light On” has grown on me significantly over the last several weeks.

19. Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago

I picked up this album simply because it has one of my daughter’s names in the title. I love it when I discover something in the process, though, of picking up crap stuff with my kids names on it. Spare acoustic tacks that feel like winter in Canada ( or Wisconsin, where it was recorded in a cabin), Justin Vernon’s elegant isolation remains bleak and unrelenting.

18. Ne Yo Year Of The Gentleman

I try to avoid flavor of the month hip hop soul stars. Couldn’t resist ” Closer”, though, and this album shows a maturing I didn’t expect.

17.  Gnarls Barkley The Odd Couple

It’s not as accessible or fun as St. Elsewhere, but I deign for people to tell me this album isn’t going to be regarded as a classic in ten years time.  Cee-Lo remains one of the most underrated singers in music, and Danger Mouse is a musical genius.

16. Billy Talent 666

A Live album from the St. Catherines punk purists with a matching DVD. They are fantabulous live, and they hit all the right notes and sing the hits as well as fan faves. ” Devil In A Midnight Mass” still remains scorching.

15. MGMT Oracular Spectacular

Experimental yet somehow classic, the Brooklyn duo create magic on their second full length album, and believe me when I say we are all better off to just buy it. Influenced by New Order and space rock that would make Bowie proud, I recommend just listening to ” Kids” and reminding yourself of happier times.

14. Adele 19

Duffy had the big hit, Amy the big headlines, and Leona the big benefactor ( Simon Cowell), but Adele has the big voice, and her songs are not written by frickin’ Jesse McCartney. Simply stunning.

13 Rise Against Appeal To Reason

More punk purists, this time with an decidedly Marxist lean. They are passionate and surprisingly successful- this album debuted at 3 on te Billboard charts.  Political and rocking.

12. Lil Wayne Tha Carter III

He’s a wordsmith that would make Eminem smile, and his prolific bootlegs and internet releases make him a tad over exposed, but he is quickly becoming the MC to listne to. ” Lollipop” is hook filled fun.

11. Coldplay Viva La Vida

Their previous album was so controlled, I wished for some imperfect note to remove the museum like quality. This album is messier, sonically more diverse, baroque and the punkiest we’ll ever hear them. Lyrically as pretentious as ever, at least it rocks harder. Which is still not much, granted.

10. Girl Talk Feed the Animals

Danger Mouse started the internet mash up, but Gregg Gillis perfected it. ” Set It Off” indeed. Brilliantly wacky.

9. Black Keys Attack and Release

Highly recommended to me by a good friend, I finally picked it up about three weeks ago and have been grooving ever since.  With Danger Mouse producing ( what, him agian?), the Akron duo create a world of spare, historical guitar noodling delta blues minimalism. And if that all seems to be contridictory, you’re right, but it works.

8. My Morning Jacket Evil Urges

Blow my mind, moutain men, why don’t you? The soul brothers of my beloved Flaming Lips, these guys mix a gorgeous falsetto, southern rock, space jams, and veiled political references . Why am I coming to them so frickin’ late? Someone? Anyone?

7. TV On The Radio Dear Science

Funk is awesome. Team it with apocolyptic lyrics and the general feeling of doom, you get this masterpiece of an album.

6.  Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend

I can see how people can hate this Ivy league, hyperliterate band with a fondness for Paul Simon’s Graceland and the solo work of Peter Gabriel ( who is namechecked in “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”). But I love the fact they can simply create gently African melodies while asking ” Who gives a fuck about an Oxford Comma?” More fun that it should be.

5. Kings Of Leon Only By the Night

They are becoming one of my new faves, as they take the best of Skynyrd and add some U2 and becomebetter. They always seemed inauthentic in their southern gothic style, but this album launches them out of parody and into the forefront of the Southern rock revolution happening right now. My Morning Jacket has competition…

4. City and Colour Bring Me Your Love

Dallas Green’s solo side project is quickly eclipsing his day job in Alexisonfire. This album, a natural evolution from Sometimes acoustic heartbreaks, is by far the best Canadian album this year ( no one comes close- sorry, Nickelback). All those comparisons to Neil Young’s Harvest are justified.

3. Kanye West 808s and Heartbreaks

The man is broken. His mama died tragically and his fiancee dumped his ass. He has put the bravado aside and created an emotional, adult album with little hip hop braggacio. Stunning and suprising.

2. R.E.M. Accelerate

Whether it’s the hugley catchy vocal hook of ” Supernatural Superserious” or the quiet rage that seeps into ” Houston”, the end of days grandstanding of ” I’m Gonna DJ” or the dressing down given in ” Living Well Is The Best Revenge”, this album says two things. R.E.M. is not fine, and you know what, they still have it.

1. Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue

It’s becoming clear to me Jenny Lewis can do no wrong. I adore Rilo Kiley, her day job band, but her solo work impresses the hell out of me. This album, simple, folksy, county, rock, psychedelic, often all at the same time, remains my favorite this year.

Worst of the year- Scarlett Johannsson Anywhere I Lay My Head

She can’t sing. Not in the charming way Tom Waits can’t sing. She lacks charm as a vocalist, and this album of Tom Waits covers offends the Tom Waits fan in me.

Biggest relief: GNR finally releases Chinese Democracy

Biggest disappointment: GNR’s Chinese Democracy. I’ll never be okay again. It made me cry. Not in a good way. Flashes of genius are overshadowed by an over produced mess.

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Actor Van Johnson: 1916-2008

Most people would recognize the face if not the name. Van Johnson was a huge star in the 40s and 50s. But like many of the era, he fell away from favor as acting styles changed and the grittier Method style became fashionable. He was actually a really good actor, and a teen heart throb before the idea became fashionable. He appeared in some lighter fare- In the Good Old Summertime with Judy Garland ( and a cameo by a toddler Liza Minelli, but I digress…), but I will remember him always as Lt. Steve Maryk, one of the lead mutineers in The Caine Mutiny. He would later go on to star across the country in regional and dinner theater productions, landing on Broadway a few times as well, and a specatcular career as a guest star on many of the best shows of the 70s and 80s. He had been out of commission for the better part of the 90s, popping up occasionally to talk about those greats he worked with on PBS and other documentaries about film history. He was one of the last to experience the real studio system, an underrated star and actor, and the film world just lost another great.

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Oscar Host Announced

Imagine my surprise while wandering about HuffPo today when I came across the news that Hugh Jackman was tapped as Oscar host. To those of us who actually watch the Tony Awards, this is awesome news, as Hugh’s previous hosting gigs were the theater honors. He can actually sing and dance, unlike some other previous hosts, but I hope that he only does in order to make fun of everyone. And he is frickin’ funny- I laughed out loud when watching the Tonys, I remember, although what made me laugh may be lost to the wind. I say brave, bold choice, Oscar. I applaud it.

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Every year this mythical group of foreign journalists who write about Hollywood deign to call up the press to announce this list of movies and actors and writers and directors they like and then a month later throw a deliciously over the top party with food and booze and hand out some knick knack. Last year they didn’t, as the writers, alas, were on strike. But this year…

Well, this year, I’m trying to figure out WTF is wrong with them. Where the hell is The Dark Knight? Christopher Nolan?  Come on, people.

Truth is, I still am trying to figure out whether the commerce of Hollywood should ever meet the true art of Hollywood, and the Golden Globes surprisingly went with the art in the nominees this year. In Bruges? Seriously, I love the movie, and the three leads were on my list of great performances before I cut it due to laziness. But three nominations? I thought maybe, MAYBE, Colin Farrell would sneak in, but really?

It was, however, to the detriment of my favorite movie this year, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which is nowhere to be found.

James Franco was going to be here, I was sure of it- for Milk. Josh Brolin is ( and the twenty minute I’ve seen of this film has a lot of Brolin in it, so I can say- wow, dude). But I truly did love his stoned slacker pot dealer in Pineapple Express, so whatever, man. I got me some F&G action on Golden Globe night. Just with Daniel, not Nick. Damn, I preferred Nick, always.

Kate The Great Winslet scores two more and god almighty, better win something. With Saint Meryl pulling in some surprising mixed reviews for Doubt, Penelope Cruz dominating the critics awards in the supporting category, Viola Davis’s Doubt role being called ten of the single greatest in recent screen history… Kate might sneak a win in the best actress category, but I’m still convinced The Reader is too flawed a film to make much impact come Oscar time.

The Mamma Mia nominations in Musical/Comedy were no suprise, as the film is an international smash in The Dark Knight proportions. $ 700 million? Not bad. Granted, I think the film itself is crap, though the music remains delightful. And Meryl was great. But with the sunny performance by Sally Hawkins garnering real buzz, I think she’s the one who’ll grab it from St. Meryl if the true mess that Mamma Mia is actually clicks in HFPA’s… okay, that was generous, even for me. HFPA has no brain.

Shocker ( but by all means, not undeserving at all, if you’ve seen it)- Tom Cruise’s nomination for Tropic Thunder. Robert Downey Jr., again, was expected ( he’s on my bloody list for this year, you know, and I said this was the better performance of the two). Also some smiles for the stars of Last Chance Harvey, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, who both scored nods for a film I had completely forgotten was coming ( and hence, have not seen). No love for Cate Blanchett in Benjamin Button, lost to a stunning Kristin Scott Thomas. Burn After Reading tops Sarah Marshall, Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express? I can’t fault the other three films and I already mentioned the sheer international phenom that is ABBA, but this Coen brothers production didn’t impress me and it seems any of those three soon to be classic comedies could easily replace it.

I also predict all music awards to go to Clint Eastwood. Because he’s Clint Eastwood and those are the noms he got this year ( no best actor- i’m going to have to pour my friend Rose a stiff one. She had him as a sure thing for Grand Torino. So do I- for music. Seriously. Who else should win it- Miley Cyrus?)

The television side of it is even more predictable. Except for the fact that the show HFPA got behind was True Blood. Buffy is a way better show about vampires, I’m sorry. But they also seem fond of In Treatment, with good reason- certain episodes were unbelievably fascinating. It doesn’t always work, and some of those patients were more annoying than necessary, but I was impressed. But as you know, without my beloved Criminal Minds on the list, and me still being ambivalent about three quarters of House M.D.‘s fourth season, my money’s on Mad Men, which is simply the best show on television right now.

Except for maybe 30 Rock, which started off strong this season ( season three- I’m still shocked it got this far. Silverman has got to be president of the Tina Fey fan club). I frankly think the wrong actress for Mad Men got nominated ( Elisabeth Moss, where are you?)

Love to Neil Patrick Harris, who must win. Because he’s that fucking brilliant. I’m just saying. ( okay, profanity may not be called for but- aw, fuck it).

It’s also safe to say John Adams will sweep the TV Movie/ Miniseries categories. Again, some things are sure bets, and sometimes, sure bets are deserving of their stature.

I have only one question about the TV nominees. Just one, and then I’ll leave and get on with my life.

Why the hell is Tony Shaloub nominated again for Monk? I’m with Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly- Jim Parsons seems to be a better choice. I also agree with Ken about Debra Messing/ Julia Louis Dreyfus.

And with that, all, I bid adieu. My picks are in the previous Golden Globes posts in bold. I sucked last year, so it’s best not to take my choices and bet on them. Just so you know.

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Commentary later, my picks highlighted, yadda yadda yadda.

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Dexter
House
In Treatment
Mad Men
True Blood

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY
30 Rock
Californication
Entourage
The Office
Weeds

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men

Hugh Laurie, House
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, The Tudors

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Sally Field, Brothers and Sisters
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU
January Jones, Mad Men
Anna Paquin, True Blood
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Kevin Connolly, Entourage
David Duchovny, Californication
Tony Shalhoub, Monk

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Debra Messing, The Starter Wife
Mary Louise-Parker, Weeds

BEST MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
A Raisin In the Sun
Bernard and Doris
Cranford
John Adams
Recount

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Ralph Fiennes, Bernard and Doris
Paul Giamatti, John Adams
Kevin Spacey, Recount
Kiefer Sutherland, 24: Redemption
Tom Wilkinson, Recount

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Judi Dench, Cranford
Catherine Keener, An American Crime
Laura Linney, John Adams
Shirley MacLaine, Coco Chanel
Susan Sarandon, Bernard and Doris

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Denis Leary, Recount
Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Blair Underwood, In Treatment
Tom Wilkinson, John Adams

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Eileen Atkins, Cranford
Laura Dern, Recount
Melissa George, In Treatment
Rachel Griffiths, Brothers and Sisters
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment

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As always, I have highlighted my picks for who I think will win. Commentary tonight.

BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
The Reader
Revolutionary Road
Slumdog Millionaire

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kristin Scott-Thomas, I’ve Loved You So Long
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road

BEST MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Burn After Reading
Happy-Go-Lucky
In Bruges
Mamma Mia!
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Javier Bardem, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Colin Farrell, In Bruges
James Franco, Pineapple Express
Brendan Gleeson, In Bruges
Dustin Hoffman, Last Chance Harvey

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Rebecca Hall, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
Frances McDormand, Burn After Reading
Meryl Streep, Mamma Mia!
Emma Thompson, Last Chance Harvey

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
Tom Cruise, Tropic Thunder
Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
Ralph Fiennes, The Duchess
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
Amy Adams, Doubt
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
Kate Winslet, The Reader

BEST DIRECTOR – MOTION PICTURE
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Stephen Daldry, The Reader
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Bolt
Kung Fu Panda
WALLE

BEST SCREENPLAY – MOTION PICTURE
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Doubt
Frost/Nixon
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Baader-Meinhof Complex (Germany)
Everlasting Moments (Sweden/Denmark)
Gomorrah (Italy)
I’ve Loved You So Long (France)
Waltz With Bashir (Israel)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – MOTION PICTURE
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Changeling
Defiance
Frost/Nixon
Slumdog Millionaire

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – MOTION PICTURE
”Down to Earth,” WALL-E
”Gran Torino,” Gran Torino
”I Thought I Lost You,” Bolt
”Once In a Lifetime,” Cadillac Records
”The Wrestler,” The Wrestler

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