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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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Best Actress
Sally Hawkins
Happy-Go-Lucky
Best Screenplay
Jenny Lumet
Rachel Getting Married
Best Cinematographer
Anthony Dod Mantle
Slumdog Millionaire
Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin
Milk
Best Animated Film
WALL-E
Best Director
Mike Leigh
Happy-Go-Lucky
Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best First Film
Courtney Hunt
Frozen River
Best Foreign Film
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
Best Actor
Sean Penn
Milk
Best Non-Fiction Film (Documentary)
Man on Wire
Best Picture
Milk

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The Critics Choice Nominees:

BEST PICTURE
CHANGELING
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
THE DARK KNIGHT
DOUBT
FROST/NIXON
MILK
THE READER
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
WALL-E
THE WRESTLER

BEST ACTOR
CLINT EASTWOOD – GRAN TORINO
RICHARD JENKINS – THE VISITOR
FRANK LANGELLA – FROST/NIXON
SEAN PENN – MILK
BRAD PITT – THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
MICKEY ROURKE – THE WRESTLER

BEST ACTRESS
KATE BECKINSALE – NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
CATE BLANCHETT – THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
ANNE HATHAWAY – RACHEL GETTING MARRIED
ANGELINA JOLIE – CHANGELING
MELISSA LEO – FROZEN RIVER
MERYL STREEP – DOUBT

SUPPORTING ACTOR
JOSH BROLIN – MILK
ROBERT DOWNEY JR. – TROPIC THUNDER
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN – DOUBT
HEATH LEDGER – THE DARK KNIGHT
JAMES FRANCO – MILK

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
PENELOPE CRUZ – VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
VIOLA DAVIS – DOUBT
VERA FARMIGA – NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
TARAJI P. HENSON – THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
MARISA TOMEI – THE WRESTLER
KATE WINSLET – THE READER

ACTING ENSEMBLE
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
THE DARK KNIGHT
DOUBT
MILK
RACHEL GETTING MARRIED

BEST DIRECTOR
DANNY BOYLE – SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
DAVID FINCHER – THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
RON HOWARD – FROST/NIXON
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN – THE DARK KNIGHT
GUS VAN SANT – MILK

BEST WRITER (ORIGINAL/ADAPTED)
SIMON BEAUFOY – SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
DUSTIN LANCE BLACK – MILK
PETER MORGAN – FROST/NIXON
ERIC ROTH – THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY – DOUBT

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
BOLT
KUNG FU PANDA
MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA
WALL-E
WALTZ WITH BASHIR

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
DAKOTA FANNING – THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES
DAVID KROSS – THE READER
DEV PATEL – SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
BRANDON WALTERS – AUSTRALIA

BEST ACTION MOVIE
THE DARK KNIGHT
INDIANA JONES & THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL
IRON MAN
QUANTUM OF SOLACE
WANTED

BEST COMEDY
BURN AFTER READING
FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL
ROLE MODELS
TROPIC THUNDER
VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
A CHRISTMAS TALE
GOMORRAH
I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
MONGOL
WALTZ WITH BASHIR

BEST DOCUMENTARY
I.O.U.S.A.
MAN ON WIRE
ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED & DESIRED
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE
YOUNG @HEART

BEST SONG
ANOTHER WAY TO DIE (JACK WHITE & ALICIA KEYS) – QUANTUM OF SOLACE
DOWN TO EARTH (PETER GABRIEL) – WALL-E
I THOUGHT I LOST YOU (MILEY CYRUS & JOHN TRAVOLTA) – BOLT
JAIHO (SUKWINDER SINGH) – SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
THE WRESTLER (BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN) – THE WRESTLER

BEST COMPOSER
ALEXANDRE DESPLAT – THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
CLINT EASTWOOD – CHANGELING
DANNY ELFMAN – MILK
HANS ZIMMER/JAMES NEWTON HOWARD – THE DARK KNIGHT
A.H. RAHMAN – SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

( Those in bold are my predictions on who will win.)

And the DC Critics winners:

Best Film
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire

Best Actor
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Best Actress
Meryl Streep, Doubt

Best Ensemble
Doubt

Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Best Supporting Actress
Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married

Best Breakthrough Performance
Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire

Best Adapted Screenplay
Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire

Best Original Screenplay
Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married

Best Animated Feature
Wall-E

Best Foreign Language Film
Let The Right One In

Best Documentary
Man On Wire

And Los Angeles Film Critics…

Best Picture: Wall-E

Runner Up: The Dark Knight

DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire

Runner-up: Christopher Nolan, “The Dark Knight

ACTRESS: Sally Hawkins, “Happy-Go-Lucky

Runner-up: Melissa Leo, “Frozen River

ACTOR: Sean Penn, “Milk

Runner-up: Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler

SCREENPLAY: Mike Leigh, “Happy-Go-Lucky

Runner-up: Charlie Kaufman, “Synecdoche, New York

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Elegy

Runner-up: Viola Davis, “Doubt

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight

Runner-up: Eddie Marsan, “Happy-Go-Lucky

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “Still Life“ directed by Jia Zhangke

Runner-up: “The Class” directed by Laurent Cantet

DOCUMENTARY/NON-FICTION FILM: “Man on Wire” directed by James Marsh

Runner-up: “Waltz with Bashir” directed by Ari Folman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Friedberg, “Synecdoche, New York

Runner-up: Nathan Crowley, “The Dark Knight

ANIMATION: “Waltz with Bashir

MUSIC/SCORE: A.R. Rahman, “Slumdog Millionaire

Runner-up: Alexandre Desplat, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Yu Lik Wai, “Still Life

Runner-up: Anthony Dod Mantle, “Slumdog Millionaire

NEW GENERATION: Steve McQueen, “Hunger

CAREER ACHIEVEMENT:  John Calley (previously announced)

DOUGLAS E. EDWARDS INDEPENDENT/EXPERIMENTAL FILM/VIDEO: James Benning, “RR
and “Casting a Glance

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Today, the National Board of Review released it’s annual top ten list of films, and it’s award winners in various categories. Surprisingly, the British indie Slumdog Millionaire captured best film, with awards also going to it’s writing and lead Dev Patel for breakthrough performance. Other multiple winners include the films Gran Torino, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Doubt, and Frozen River, with single shout outs to Oscar faves Milk and Rachel Getting Married. The top ten list is a good balance between highbrow art flick snob and mainstream  tastes. But Burn After Reading? That’s the left field choice the NBR make every year. Reliable as ever, guys, thanks.

The complete lists:

Best Film: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Director: David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Actor: Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino
Best Actress: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Best Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, Milk
Best Supporting Actress: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best Foreign Language Film: Mongol
Best Documentary: Man on Wire
Best Animated Feature: Wall-E
Best Ensemble Cast: Doubt
Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire
Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: Viola Davis, Doubt
Best Directorial Debut: Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
Best Original Screenplay: Nick Schenk, Gran Torino
Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire and Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Spotlight Award: Melissa Leo, Frozen River and Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
The BVLGARI Award for NBR Freedom of Expression: Trumbo

Top Ten Films:
Burn After Reading
Changeling
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Defiance
Frost/Nixon
Gran Torino
Milk
Wall-E
The Wrestler

Top Five Foreign Language Films:
Edge of Heaven
Let the Right One In
Roman de Gare
A Secret
Waltz with Bashir

Top Five Documentary Films:
American Teen
The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
Dear Zachary
Encounters at the End of the World
Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

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Do you like movies? Do you love them with a passion  known as geektastically so? Do you want to listen to amazing music, and read amazing text? Then travel on to Internet Archive. I was perusing one day earlier this year and came across a lot of Keaton and Chaplin. No surprise they were there, as these movies, now nearing the century old mark, would seem to have lapsed into the public domain. The archive specializes in public domain ( and therefore, completely legal) media. I found there Salt of the Earth, the classic movie made by the Hollywood Ten ( specifically, Biberman), and while the quality sucks ass, it remains a vibrant and vital film.

How freakin’ amazing is that? Also there- Night Of the Living Dead, Reefer Madness, The 39 Steps, Shadow Of A Doubt… apparently, Patricia Hitchcock allowed the copyright to lapse on a few of her dad’s films… But go, and see if you can find a lost gem. I sure did.

(more…)

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Roger Ebert is my hero.

If my massive collection of Italian neo realism wasn’t the first clue, or the fact that The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg is my favorite film the second clue, I am kind of almost a big a movie geek as my Dylan and Waits obsessed music collection will let me be. I watch way too many movies, a massive achievement when  you realize how much TV I watch in a week ( less surprising when you realize I sleep for four hours a night because I’m re-watching some Hitchcock film on TCM for the trillionth time- usually Strangers On A Train).  Ebert brought me to many films I never would have considered watching based on my first instinct, simply because as good as my instinct is, his is better. I have hated the movies he’s hated 99% of the time, and loved the ones he loves about 75% of the time ( the rest are mutually respectful WTF moments).

Ebert has won a Pulitzer for film criticism. I don’t know if film critics regularly win Pulitzers. I will never win a Pulitzer, and my writing doesn’t suck. Even if I were as great as Ebert with the turn of a phrase, I’d still be writing five line reviews for some cheap ass weekly somewhere. Why? Because I have an inability to keep my mouth shut about extraneous matters, and therefore, I ramble. Ebert doesn’t ramble. He’s precise. I love him because I envy that very thing.

Last week, Ebert deigned to post a review of a film called Tru Loved. The film automatically gets a point knocked off from my scale simply because I hate cutesy titles like that. So it currently sits at a A review, because I haven’t seen it.

Ebert saw it. Sorta.

He saw about eight minutes. Then he walked out.

He posted his review, which was pretty scathing. Then he dropped the news of his departure and apparently created a bit of a firestorm. The pro and anti Ebert factions came out in droves, but there were valid points mixed in between the arguments, Namely- if you are paid to review something, isn’t walking out poor taste and actually fraud?

Fraud may be taking it too far, but I see the point. If I’m paid to review a movie, I should sit through it or not write the review if I don’t make it, for whatever reason.

On the other hand, I’m against wasting my time. I’m against wasting other peoples time. If I think an album is so bad it should never be heard by the ears of humans, I’d say so, and I’d tell them exactly why, and where I stopped listening before I shoved the pencils in my ears. And I listen to the Butthole Surfers religiously, so you know it’d have to be heinous for me to refuse to even finish listening.

In the end, reading his review, I came to the conclusion that in fact, he was actually brave to do what he did. His trepidations and other thoughts can be found on his blog,

but I encourage to read the comments as well. He responds on ocassion, and they are so worth the read.

I’ve only once in my life refused to finish listening to an album. It was an album by The Clash, shockingly enough, and it was called Cut The Crap. I cried for an hour after the first track because I wanted to know what the hell happened to my favorite band.

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