Thursday, February 26, 2009

Coraline ***1/2

Director: Henry Selick

Nowadays it is rare to go to the movies and wonder "how did they do that?", Henry Selick's beautiful stop motion, 3-D film does just that. Based on the novella by Neil Gaiman, the plot follows Coraline Jones, a girl who moves with her parents to an apartment complex in the gray Ashland, Oregon.
Neglected by her parents, she roams the house and discovers a little door covered by wallpaper. Upon finding the key she opens it only to reveal a bricked wall, but when the night comes the bricks are gone and Coraline finds path to an alternate world where he mother cooks for her and her father knows how to play the piano.
This "Other" world obviously comes with a price and Coraline soon finds out that eventually she has to choose what world she wants to stay in forever.
With an eerie, mythical mood, the film feels more based on Gothic literature and Lewis Carroll, than Disney fairy tales; therefore, it concentrates more on revealing, and unveiling, the world where it takes place, than in delivering a simple story.
Selick then takes great pleasure in the creation of two completely different worlds. One where fog is more common than sunshine and another where cotton candy comes out of cannons.
The rich detail in both worlds is what gives the film its charm. From the oily quality of fried bacon, to the Grand Guignol design of Coraline's actress neighbors, the film constantly makes us want to know what we'll see next.
A sequence set in a moonlit garden that is slowly populated by blooming flowers is breathtaking and a latter circus scene involving some cute rodents seems like the recreation of a vintage sideshow attraction.
Like Coraline, we are completely enthralled by this world.
So much in fact that we obviate the creepiness of the fact that people in the "Other" world have buttons instead of eyes and that practically almost Coraline wishes becomes true.
Selick then turns this notion upside down surprising us with a twist we don't see coming, at least not visually, giving the plot a sense of wholeness.
It's only when the elements get darker that we detect the duality in each of the things we saw before. How a bunch of cute little dogs with angel wings can as easily be seen as monstruous bats, how a pupal sac can resemble wrapped candy and how what was once a harmless room, now becomes a golden cage.
The characters in the film are not really that likable and Selick often makes us wonder who this film was made for exactly?
Coraline's parents may ignore her and spend more time working, but Coraline isn't so nice herself. She's always complaining and fails to see what her parents do for her.
The film may be too scary for small children who won't want to see a child ghost in 3D, but it's also disturbing for grownups because it suggests things animated films, or any other, rarely dare to say: that perhaps childhood is vastly overrated.
Even more suggesting that some people are just not fit to be parents and it's not their fault. It's not an accident that the tunnel that takes Coraline from one world to another at first resembles a return of sorts to the motherly womb, but as the film grows darker seems as endless and menacing as growing up.
That one of the characters is curiously named Wybourn is both darkly funny and sad, that his name is shortened to Wybie would get anyone on an existential roll.
Wrapped by Bruno Coulais' angelic like, Baroque score "Coraline" is safe proof that animation is turning more and more into the most mature, complex form of filmmaking.
One that has no trouble representing parallels with reality to the subconscious, or the beautiful to the macabre.

He's Just Not That Into You **

Director: Ken Kwapis
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore
Jennifer Connelly, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson
Ben Affleck, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Justin Long

When a film based on a book, based on the plot of an episode in a television series is made, you would think that this postmodernist basis would also be said film's axis or at least help it.
This romantic comedy however chooses to take the cliché path and delivers an old fashioned, trite plot with very modern intentions.
Several storylines involving the main actresses are intertwined as they all deal with a specific man who just isn't into them.
For Beth (Aniston) it's her boyfriend of seven years (Affleck) who has no intention of marrying her. In Gigi's (Goodwin) case she's so disappointed with men that she starts taking advice from a misogynist (Long). Anna (Johansson) is set on conquering a married man (Cooper) who's having trouble of his own with his wife (Connelly).
Then there's Mary (Barrymore) who is having trouble adjusting to the need of keeping up with all the possible ways of meeting people nowadays and who receives her advice from the men she works with, all of whom are gay.
Their stories, announced by title cards with phrases that explain their problems, are preceded by documentary like interviews with people (mostly unknown actors) who give the "every(wo)man" point of view before we get to see the big stars put on the show.
And in fact when the cast is so good as the one featured here, there's at least the satisfaction of watching them mingle onscreen.
The rest of the time they just blabber and move towards emotional realizations we've seen coming for ages.
That's perhaps the film's biggest problem; anyone can argue that the "rom-com" has become perhaps the most predictable of the genres, which is why it's also a known, but rarely accepted, fact that people don't come to them for advice of any sort of wisdom.
We come to see these movies because we want to escape our own realities. So a film that takes the extra step and tries to deliver a little bit extra should not comply and follow traditional genre rules which is exactly what happens here.
Some scenes are uncomfortable to watch, not because they ring emotionally, but because they are so forced that you can't laugh, be inspired or even entertained by them.
The screenplay is loaded with so many lazy symbolisms (a marriage coming apart while their home is being remodeled...just imagine all those deconstruction analogies you can come up with) that you wonder how people fail to see that this "chick flick" actually has no idea how to treat women.
Men who think female audiences are driven to anything involving romance will be hugely disappointed to learn that, when it comes to love, in fact female and male processes of thinking and perceiving information couldn't be more apart if they tried.
This doesn't mean that one is better than the other, they're just different and the film works when it grasps on to that and spices it up with some irony and tongue in cheek humor (Barrymore's monologue about how she must use eight different technologies to know if the guy is interested is brilliant!), but then the director comes and reduces these women to stereotypes we've seen in a million different movies.
Stereotypes nobody in the audience is going to want to take advice from. That the film ends with a character emphasizing what is arguably the most popular word in the current English language (it rhymes with "mope") is more than enough to know that for all its intentions the director works like the boyfriend who ignores his girl throughout the game, but then gives her a present expecting she'll forgive and forget.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Before I Have to Move On...

I promise this is the last Penélope picture I post this week, I found this one and I just loved her smile so much that I had to share with everyone else.
So, browsing through IMDB today I read the following news.
First of all, interesting that they're shooting this new film so little after the vastly underrated "Nothing But the Truth", which came and went with few, if no, notices in the rush of awards season.
Can it be a "Capote", "Infamous" situation? And if so could this put Naomi Watts in the game again? Watts is, again, a very underrated actress, she's been nominated for an Oscar one single time and arguably deserved nominations for "Mulholland Drive", "The Painted Veil" (although 2006 Best Actress was just too flawless...) and especially for "King Kong".
Kate Beckinsale got a few mentions for her masterful work in the Rod Lurie film, but the movie was just "inspired" by true events, while the Watts' project is the "real deal".
Awards people just love biopics so let's see how this goes.
And then Woody Allen with that cast!
If he gets Penélope to a place even as remotely as good as he did with "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" I'll probably explode from excitement.
OK now that awards season is over tomorrow we must resume "normal" writing, I had to give up on a big project I had for the whole year (an homage of sorts to the 70th anniversary of some of the greatest films ever made...) but I'll be sure to squeeze some of it at some point.
Tomorrow expect reviews for "Coraline" and "He's Just Not That Into You".

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Suck that up Meryl!"

If Meryl Streep isn't G-d then she fakes it very well.
Read my Oscar column by clicking on the picture or here.
Then come back and comment!

Fashion Column:
Oscar 08: Best Dressed
Oscars 08: Fashion Split Decisions
Oscars 08: Worst Dressed
Oscars 08: Fashion Tendencies

Oscars 08: Best Dressed

1. Penélope Cruz
The moment I saw her on the red carpet she just took my breath away.
I loved the way she looked like a bride or a queen about to be crowned and instantly knew her dress just had to be vintage.
I found out until much later that it indeed it was vintage and Balmain nonetheless. Watching how gracious and beautiful she was when she won the Oscar I had a sudden epiphany (at least fashion and Oscar wise).

'Nuff said.

2. Anne Hathaway
Shirley MacLaine herself said that we love Anne as a princess, and a modern one she was in her stunning Aramni Privé white dress with crystal appliqués. It would've been great to see her win if only to see the way she would've matched that gorgeous Swarovski curtain above the stage.
Her best accesory? As always her million dollar smile.

3. Marion Cotillard
Last year she rocked in an unexpected Gaultier mermaid dress, this year she rocks once more in black and blue Dior gown, with a Tinkerbell-ish top that gives path to a risqué skirt with almost transparent folds that makes the Oscar winner look like a punk princess.

4. Kate Winslet
The first time Oscar winner didn't stray too far from what she'd been doing all season long.
And too far is the key part here. Her Yves Saint Laurent dark blue and black dress looks like a variation on what she wore to the Golden Globes in January, with some extra black lace.
Classy and simple yes, but way too safe for an actress known for her wild characters.

5. Halle Berry
This is how you do black and gold Beyoncé...

6. Sarah Jessica Parker
Poor SJP has been cursed with fashion double duty. She played Carrie Bradshaw, a modern Holly Golightly inspired fashionista, for more than five years in "Sex and the City" and outside the show she became a fashion icon herself.
So she must juggle constantly and fend Carrie/Sarah comparisons. With her mint Dior she brings the two women together. The top with the NYC retro, deco art and unusual belt is all Carrie, but from the waist down, the delicate tulle and ample skirt are as deliciously sweet as only Parker can be.

7. Nicole Kidman
One could almost swear Nicole Kidman has worn this dress before (that baby blue YSL from 2004 which also included feathers if I can recall) but then again she rarely varies her column with a detail look.
She might've looked a bit uncomfortable on stage, but after a few seconds she was absolutely radiant.

8. Tilda Swinton
Once again wearing Lanvin (after last year's black ensemble which seemed to be made out of liquid silk) the iconic Tilda Swinton pushes the envelope by wearing two similar pieces in different colors. Her blonde hair and ruffly, folds recall both dandies and classic Greece and like nobody else she looks so damn comfortable in avant garde couture.
You either love or hate Swinton's style.
She obviously won't give a damn either way.

9. Marisa Tomei
The very deserving, and very very beautiful, Best Supporting Actress nominee had been making some of the craziest choices of the season (I was a big fan of her bright yellow SAG dress) and for the Oscars she shows off her quirkiness with a pleated tail that gives her Versace Atelier gown a little something extra, not too common, but not too outrageous.

10. Evan Rachel Wood
After her split from Marilyn Manson, the beautiful Wood, who had gone to the very dark side, has resurfaced like a princess. For the Oscars she was one of the many to wear creams and whites; her classic Elie Saab and simple jewelry make her look like Grace Kelly even when her unusual nail color suggests she's not that innocent.

Oscars 08: Fashion Split Decisions
Oscars 08: Worst Dressed
Oscars 08: Fashion Tendencies
Oscars 08: Post-Show Column

Oscars 08: Fashion Split Decision

Risks sometimes work, sometimes don't.
These three ladies' choices, like the nuns from the movie, still have me in doubt.

The lovely Amy Adams almost but vanishes in this too red gown by Carolina Herrera. She's always glamorous, but the color choice, and those weird black lines on the top, make her lack a certain something.

Wearing Rodarte, the goddess like Natalie Portman looks beautiful, then sorta cheap, then beautiful again, then sorta cheap and you get it...
Her hair and makeup are flawless, but the extremeness of the color make you dizzy while reminding you of Pepto. Both its sickness and its cure?

Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon (would you have included her in the Best Actress presentation? If so whom would you have replaced for her?) dons an asymmetrical black and blue Rodarte dress which evokes spirals, classic Givenchy and Elvira Mistress of the Dark.
When the blue part alone would've been very Nina Ricci, the black stripes of fabric on top seem like parts of another dress altogether.
Reese always wins with her personality and the dress only seemed odd after she was offscreen, but perhaps Kate and Laura Mulleavy's line isn't ready for mainstream TV wear yet.

Oscars 08: Best Dressed
Oscars 08: Worst Dressed
Oscars 08: Fashion Tendencies
Oscars 08: Post-Show Column

Oscars 08: Worst Dressed

1. Beyoncé Knowles
Looking like a prop from a kabuki interpretation of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast", Beyoncé's constricted dress screamed "paper lantern" while making her look more uncomfortable than whenever she is asked personal questions on interviews.
What's scarier is that this dress is from her own design house...

2. Miley Cyrus
One has to wonder how many fairies had to die so that Disney starlet Miley Cyrus could have this sparkling dress made. Too extravagant for her age and too princess-y for someone older, Miley is left in fashion limbo.

3. Amanda Seyfried
If the huge bow didn't work for Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman what made her think it would work for her? Kudos for the courage though.

4.Bridget Fonda
The pattern is as dizzying as it is boring.

5. Jessica Biel
How do you go and spoil a perfectly nice Prada column dress? By putting a knee length bib in front of it.

Oscars 08: Fashion Tendencies
Oscars 08: Best Dressed
Oscars 08: Fashion Split Decision
Oscars 08: Post-Show Column

Oscars 08: Fashion Tendencies

"Maybe they'd like to forget that..."
- the producers trying to convince comedic director John Sullivan (Joel McCrea) about not making a social themed film in "Sullivan's Travels".

Despite the recession, and unlike the year when the Iraq war started and everyone subdued everything, this year the stars all dressed up beautifully and highlighted everything that shone and dazzled.
It's surprising that this didn't come off as obscene, but rather as a delightful sort of escape, very much like stars did during the Great Depression. They were aware that the world was going to hell, but knew that reminding people of this when they craved entertainment was even worse.
So again we, oddly, can join in raising a glass to glamor.

Hell even Meryl Streep looked fantastic!

Changing her usual frumpy look for a sexy, gray Alberta Ferretti.

The looks that ruled the night included neutrals with sparkles (a la Renée Zellweger last year) which were donned by Jennifer Aniston, who looked beautiful (and complimented her look with an odd, but effective, hippie tress), Leslie Mann, Anne Hathaway whose dress was a marvel of worksmanship and the lovely Tina Fey who obviously, still, has no idea how sexy and beautiful she is and added unnecessary shoulder pads to hers'.

The rest of the ladies apparently agreed to don blue and black, together, especially in asymmeyrical, odd dresses.

Look which was effective for Best Actress winner Kate Winslet and previous winners Reese Witherspoon and Marion Cotillard kicked up a notch by donning quite risky designer gowns.

Best dressed men included:
Robert Pattinson (who never got rid of that "I know what you look like under your clothes" stare), Robert Downey Jr., who looked younger than ever (despite his Oompa Loompa tan) and Dominic Cooper

Oscars 08: Best Dressed
Oscars 08: Fashion Split Decision
Oscars 08: Worst Dressed
Oscars 08: Post-Show Column

I Just Couldn't Resist Not Posting This...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Oscar Class of 2009.

When all is said, done, and awarded, the truth is that the Oscars are still great because, taking Madge out of context, they make the people come together.
Be it the three billion who were watching tonight, or me and my friends, they always assure that for one night at least people coming from all different kinds of backgrounds get together, have fun, drinks and food while watching a show where almost nobody has seen the nominees and mlost of the time we never agree with the winners.
But whether it be the fact that Penélope Cruz's gorgeous speech got a couple of my friends teary eyed or that we all had a blast watching who was wearing what and fantasizing about what Jennifer Aniston could've thrown Angelina when she presented an award, they still guarantee a degree of communion, fun and love for the movies (especially those we want to see more after they win something...) that practically nothing else does.
I'll post my analysis of the show tomorrow, I've had too much sangría to bother tonight, but I'll mention some of the things I'm just dying to write about.
Like the fact, of course, and anyone who's visited this site will know, I was ecstatic after Penélope won! I was actually shaking with excitement (I thank the Academy for ridding me of my most awaited award very early in the night, because it gave me the chance to drink as much as I wanted for the three hours after it...).
I also loved Kate Winslet's win, she is the epitome of what an actress should be and while I'm not so sure I loved the show's new concept, they were still pretty great entertainment.
But back to the original subject of this post, most of all I want to thank all the people who've joined me this year; those who had to listen to my eternal Oscar rants when they wanted to talk about important stuff and those who actually take the time to come and read my crazy thoughts on cinema.
Without all of you, this would've never been so great.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Final Oscar Predictions.

Given how "Slumdog" spoiled the fun of predicting who'd win many (if not most) categories, this year the possible upsets lie in the acting races and some of the technical awards which I refuse to believe will go the Danny Boyle flick (in recession times a sweep would be too indulgent).
After re-watching the movie the other day, I couldn't help but feel a tad disappointed at how people have failed to see beyond the energy of the film.
Like the newly appointed American president, who I think should stop appearing everywhere (he's a politician not a rock star...why was he in my "Vogue" last month?) the movie's optimism has blinded everyone and people who at some point were "thinkers" have succumbed to the most childish kind of joy and have failed to see how obvious its manipulation devices are.
I don't want to sound like a sourpuss, although it might be too late for that, but I worry about what the hangover of this optimistic drunkenness will be like.
Then again I have to remember, we're just talking Oscars here...

Best Picture

Will win: "Slumdog Millionaire"
Should win: "The Reader"
Should have been nominated: "WALL-E"

Sadly, this one is practically a lock.
So unless the entire Academy suddenly realizes that "Slumdog" will not fix the recession, cure any form of cancer or banish poverty from the world, there's no way this movie can lose this award.
Weird that the most successful film, in award terms, is such an unexpected, almost bizarre choice. Even though a lot has been made about the way the Academy snubbed "genre" films, Boyle's hit might count as genre, sorta, as it includes some Bollywood-isms into its Dickensian narrative (I have a whole international genre theory, a la "Crouching Tiger" that might've worked if the movie wasn't such a lock at this point).
If there was any justice Stephen Daldry's severely underrated "The Reader" would sneak into voters' minds and take the big prize if only for the way it's being treated and also because it's by far the best picture of the bunch. Those who condemn it as "the Holocaust movie that stole Batman's spot" are merely reflections of the film's greater message about how easily we cast judgment to benefit ourselves.

Best Director

Will win: Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Should win: Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"
Should have been nominated: Andrew Stanton, "WALL-E"

Boyle infuses his films with an energy that is nothing short of wondruous, which is why this award is well deserved...but not for this film! Especially when the man has delivered much better work previously. Still, arguing why he shouldn't win won't make him lose and this is the one award this film could never ever lose.
Ron Howard's nomination is an insult and David Fincher actually would be a worthy winner, since it's not his fault the screenplay for his film sucked so much, because he did prove his cold approach gives a special something to the epic genre.
I'd vote for Stephen Daldry in a heartbeat, who actually does deserve all his nominations and with "The Reader" proves he's truly brilliant at transferring intellectually challenging ideas into images. He may scream "stock director" to so many (Weinstein haters mostly) but isn't it true that people like Victor Fleming and Michael Curtiz were also heavily bossed by their producers? And see the masterpieces they delivered...

Best Actor

Will win: Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler"
Should win: Rourke or Sean Penn, "Milk"
Should have been nominated: Leonardo DiCaprio, "Revolutionary Road"

If I ever wished for a tie at the Oscars it would be here. Bad boys Rourke and Penn deliver truly masterful performances in their respective films and if I'm leaning for Rourke is only because Penn won a few years ago, if the more deserving Bill Murray would've won that year, this would be a walk in the park for Penn, but I'm sure voters won't want to reward him again so soon (this rarely happens if your name doesn't rhyme with skank and you're in a Clint Eastwood movie) .
Especially not when they can vindicate Rourke, who nobody ever expected to resurface like this (even if he was the only good thin in "Sin City" a few years back), his work in this film goes beyond acting, which is why some people say he just played himself and might want to give the vote to Penn (again he doesn't just imitate Harvey Milk, he actually becomes this man, he's perfect!) but no, the Academy is rtaher corny most of the time and the ovation for Rourke would only be smaller in comparison to the other actor who will win in the Supporting category...

Best Actress

Will win: Kate Winslet, "The Reader"
Should win: Winslet
Should have been nominated: Kristin Scott Thomas, "I've Loved You So Long"

Best Actress and Supporting Actress were a complete mess until the Academy decided to remove Kate from one of the categories and upgrade the performance she'd been winning awards for in the other category. So this being "Kate Year" and all, there's no way she can lose this. It also helps, a lot, that she was just so perfect as Hanna Schmitz.
You leave the film without thinking of her as a Nazi, child abuser or criminal and this is all Winslet.
Anne Hathaway was amazing in "Rachel Getting Married" but the movie wasn't very loved by the Academy, Meryl Streep (who should win if only for the speech she will deliver) was incredible in "Doubt", but she's Streep, when isn't she incredible? And the film again wasn't really loved, but admired.
There's Jolie who like her man got into the race almost by default (their acting is so dull that they might actually play each other at some point) and Melissa Leo who is very likable, but whose movie wasn't really that good. Those upset rumors about her are almost ridiculous. So yeah Dustin Hoffman loves her, but everyone else loves Winslet and with her double whammy in this and the underrated "Revolutionary Road" should stop being bridesmaid once and for all.

Best Supporting Actor

Will win: Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
Should win: Josh Brolin, "Milk"
Should have been nominated: Bill Irwin, "Rachel Getting Married"

Ledger started the buzz by dying the day last year's nominations were announced (and he was mentioned a lot by Daniel Day Lewis in every award show last year too).
He sealed it when the movie opened.
The Academy won't resist rewarding a posthumous award after decades of not doing it, even if Brolin's performance as Dan White is chilling and the best in the category.
At least they didn't nominate Dev Patel...

Best Supporting Actress

Will win: Penélope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Should win: Cruz
Should have been nominated: Rosemarie DeWitt, "Rachel Getting Married"

Penélope Cruz gave the performance of the year in Woody Allen's ingenious, clever and sexy film about expatriates, threesomes and art and she's also won Best Supporting Actress awards from England and Spain's respective Academies (that never hurts huh Marion Cotillard?). Her María Elena is archetypal Woody (and he's gotten two actresses three wins in this category alone) and her line delivery is perfection, but Cruz goes beyond the Allen-esque and gives her character a more sordid background, that María Elena breaks your heart as much as she makes you laugh and even arouses you is testament to an actress at the top of her game. Now that Winslet has stopped getting her awards, Penélope should be the lock (the buzz started at Cannes last May and rightfully returned to her)...but there's talk of an upset from one of the "Doubt" women, especially Viola Davis who gives a superb performance in one single scene and even when this category loves limited roles, Davis hasn't been making too much noise (which might be sign of a sneak attack...).
This however is perhaps the best category, in terms of quality, out of the acting races and honestly almost any of the nominees would make a fantastic winner (except maybe Taraji P. Henson) with Penélope being the highlight of the night.

-Best Original Screenplay
Will win: Dustin Lance Black, "Milk"
Should win: Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, "WALL-E"
Should have been nominated: Woody Allen, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

This is perhaps the best shot at Oscar for "Milk" and even if the screenplay was flawed (the movie is mostly about ensemble and delivery) Black will get to kiss a man, if he's dating someone, before he goes up the podium to receive Oscar.
Too bad that animated films are rarely taken into consideration for the "big" awards, otherwise "WALL-E"'s magnificent storyline and even greater execution would nab this award.
Overall it's a great category, even if it's rather odd: a Mike "Improvisation" Leigh screenplay over the actress who made the film? A comedic thriller about two killers? No Woody for his greatest film in years?

-Best Adapted Screenplay
Will win: Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Should win: David Hare, "The Reader"
Should have been nominated: Justin Haythe, "Revolutionary Road"

If "Slumdog" doesn't deserve an award it's for its screenplay, which is so full of plot holes, implausibilities and plain under-writing that you feel its whole "it's written" theme was the screenwriter's method of self defense.
This should be David Hare's who with "The Reader" proves he's the go-to-guy for translating "impossible" books into movies.
He should've won this award for his layered, miraculous work in "The Hours" (a book that I never thought could be turned into a movie, much less a good one, just like when I read "The Reader").

-Best Animated Feature
Will win: "WALL-E"
Should win: "WALL-E"
Should have been nominated: "Waltz With Bashir"

"WALL-E" is so good that should also win Best Picture! Period.

-Best Foreign Language Film
Will win: "Waltz With Bashir"
Should win: "Revanche"
Should have been nominated: "Gomorrah"

The Academy hates this category and each year they try their best to nominate the worst offerings from other countries, perhaps in order to drive us to horrid blockbusters during the summer.
This year they left out the Italian masterpiece that is "Gomorrah", but also left a couple worthy candidates (I've yet to see them all, who has seen them all for that matter?) in the running, but Ari Folman's animated documentary will be a worthy choice, this award should go to Austria's best contender yet (that it won last year is a sorta sad thing, especially when they had this coming) which is a film so good that it's a surprise that they even nominated it.

-Best Documentary Feature
Will win: "Man on Wire"
Should win: "Man on Wire"
Should have been nominated: "Standard Operating Procedure"

Like "Slumdog" in Best Picture this one is a lock, it's won every single thing.
If, they went for something else here, we might be in for a big upset at the end of the night.

-Best Cinematography
Will win: Claudio Miranda, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Should win: Roger Deakins & Chris Menges, "The Reader"
Should have been nominated: Mandy Walker, "Australia"

The Academy likes nominating handheld stuff here ("City of God", "The Constant Gardener" and the brutally robbed "Children of Men") but it rarely, if ever, wins, so you have to wonder if the whole Academy is sure of what each category means. Do all of them know that cinematography includes camera moves and not just lighting?
Apparently, from their choices, they don't, which is why I don't see them rewarding "Slumdog" here. Think of "Benjamin Button" as this year's "Pan's Labyrinth". Not that it wouldn't be a worthy winner either way, Miranda's work with Fincher is spectacular in the best sense of the word and since cinematography screams "pretty" to Academy voters, they will prefer evoking the image of a ballet dancing Cate Blanchett, over a kid covered in shit.

-Best Art Direction
Will win: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Should win: "Changeling"
Should have been nominated: "Australia"

The longer the film, the more the art direction, the easier the choice.
Expect "Benjamin" to rule in the tech categories, where it does shine.

-Best Costume Design
Will win: "The Duchess"
Should win: "Australia"
Should have been nominated: "Sex and the City"

Usually understood as "Most Costumes" this category always favors period pieces with huge dresses, which is why the last two years alone prove they don't give a damn for how much the costumes contribute to the film as long as they look difficult to wear.

-Best Editing
Will win: "Slumdog Millionaire"
Should win: "Milk"
Should have been nominated: "WALL-E"

The less you can see in each frame usually means the better the editing, at least for Academy members who also relate this award to the eventual Best Picture winner and will easily favor "Slumdog" here.

-Best Music, Original Score
Will win: A.R Rahman, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Should win: Alexandre Desplat, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Should have been nominated: Nico Muhly, "The Reader"

It's pretty much a "Slumdog" world...and the score is energetic and very good, but...
If there was any justice, Alexandre Desplat would be collecting his third Oscar this year, arguably one of the greatest living composers his elegant pieces often end up adding an unexpected layer of classic sophistication to all the movies that feature them.
Can you imagine Scarlett Johansson being as seductive in "Girl With a Pearl Earring" without Desplat's themes? Do you see "The Queen" being so full of intrigue without his picaresque, slightly baroque score? And we shouldn't even go into the ones he's been snubbed for...
His work in "Benjamin Button" might be one of his finest yet and like the good part of the film (Fincher's direction and Miranda's tricky camera work) it's completely detached, haunting and effective.

-Best Music, Original Song
Will win: "Down to Earth" from "WALL-E"
Should win: "Down to Earth" from "WALL-E"
Should have been nominated: "All Dressed in Love" from "Sex and the City"

I see this category like this: on one side you have two "Slumdog" candidates and usually these cancel each other out right? Just see the two last years to prove this theory.
Plus it's in an unknown language (although this matters little to these people) and most won't know one song's title apart from the other.
But, it's "Slumdog" so it gets tricky...
But OK, then there's also the "WALL-E" song which not only is understandable, and gorgeous, but also talks about the planet and being green and what not (which got Melissa Etheridge her Oscar two years ago...).
There's also the fact that by rewarding this song they'd be giving out Oscars to the incomparable Peter Gabriel and the brilliant Thomas Newman who believe it or not has never won an Oscar.
They love getting overdues out of the way (see Randy Newman who, like his cousin, won unexpectedly for a Pixar movie) and if they can get two for one, it's even better so expect this one to trump Bollywood and the inevitable Dev Patel dance step.

-Best Makeup
Will win: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Should win: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Should have been nominated: N/A

Omg! It's Brad Pitt looking like he's twenty!
Omg! It's Cate Blanchett looking like she's a hundred!
How much was CGI, how much was makeup is something voters won't even stop to wonder about, giving this film one of its most deserved awards.

-Best Visual Effects
Will win: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Should win: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Should have been nominated: N/A

See above.

-Best Sound Mixing
Will win: "The Dark Knight"
Should win: "WALL-E"
Should have been nominated: "Iron Man"

They love loud movies and musicals here.
We've no musicals, except for the "Slumdog" credits sequence, so expect Batman, like Jason Bourne and King Kong to take this category by surprise.

-Best Sound Editing
Will win: "WALL-E"
Should win: "WALL-E"
Should have been nominated: N/A

Ben Burtt is a genius and "WALL-E" is perhaps his greatest achievement yet.
If voters find out what the difference between Sound Editing and Mixing is, both awards should go to "WALL-E".
Call this wishful thinking and see as "Slumdog" probably gets this...

-Best Documentary Short
Will win: "Smile Pinki"

-Best Short Film, Live Action
Will win: "On the Line"

-Best Short Film, Animated
Will win: "Presto"

As you can see I've got "Slumdog" for a "paltry" five wins on Oscar night and I honestly call this wishful thinking as most people are predicting a sweep (some might even suggest a tie in Best Song so that they can win all ten awards) but I honestly don't see that happening.
The Academy hasn't been in a sweep mood lately, "The Lord of the Rings" doesn't count, and in harsh economic times it'd be too indulgent not to "spread the wealth".
Whatever happens in the end, the show itself is promising to be something more exciting than we've seen in Academy history, so between Hugh, the fashion and whatever your drink of choice for your party will be, we can all at least try to have a good time.

The Academy Awards air February 22nd on ABC.

Almost Last Cruz Red Carpet Post of the Season.

May she win again tomorrow night!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Me Watching "Slumdog".

I'm obviously Joel McCrea...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Revanche ****

Director: Götz Spielmann
Cast: Johannes Krisch, Andreas Lust
Irina Potapenko, Ursula Strauss, Johannes Thanheiser

The central themes in "Revanche" can be compared to a folded piece of blank paper; no matter which half you're looking at they appear to be made out of the same, but the potential differences of what you could do with each halve are their real essence.
Alex (Krisch) is an ex-convict working as errand boy for a brothel owner (a creepy Hanno Poeschl) in Vienna. He's also having a secret affair with one of the prostitutes who work there, the Ukranian Tamara (Potapenko).
Trying to escape the sordid life he's leading, Alex figures out the safest choice would be a bankrobbery in the small rural town where his grandfather Hausner (Thanheiser) lives.
Convinced that nothing can go wrong he brings Tamara along for the ride and then things of course go wrong.
An unexpected death links the vengeful Alex to Robert (Lust) a local policeman with whom he shares more than he'd ever know.
Even if the setup of "Revanche" is the stuff noirish revenge thrillers are made of, Spielmann puts a sudden halt to pulpy expectations and creates an elegant, taut psychological piece that chooses to elongate the tension by extracting it from within the characters and not the situations.
At first we are led to think it might turn into an exploration of what settings do to people, "in the city you end up arrogant or a scoundrel" states Hausner as he proceeds to attach one of the labels to his grandson.
And in a way, this point of view works, if only in a superficial way. Vienna brings nothing but stress and economic troubles to Alex and Tamara, but the quietness of the country life isn't helpful to Robert either.
His wife Susanne (Strauss) can't conceive a baby and he'd rather work late at night than spend time with her in their empty home.
Perhaps the setting does help in determining what their priorities will be, family and money in this case, and while the plot would have us become convinced Alex and Robert stand at completely opposite extremes, it slowly reveals that they might be sides of the very same coin.
Carefully and brilliantly lensed by Martin Gschlacht, "Revanche" might perfectly spoil itself by the apt way in which it expresses itself through its images.
Most of the time the camera remains fixed, letting the characters walk in and out of the frame; which leads to some surprising moments of emotional outburst (aided grandly by a superb sound mixing) where the characters seem to be hiding from the audience.
When the camera does move, mostly in slow, precise pans and dolly movements as it follows people walking or vehicles along the road it's with a determined purpose.
One particular moment has the camera stop at what looks like a normal curve on a highway, if we look closer some of the trees give the impression of crosses, which depending of your intellectual or spiritual take will suggest either a religious checkpoint or simply evoke the word "crossroad".
When you see this spot again it will make sense depending under what light you examined it. Throughout most of the film Gschlacht seems to be dividing the screen in half; there is always a predominant element in one of the halves that pulls our attention to it, but after a while (cuts aren't that common in this film) we also start to notice the "lack" of something in the other half. Is it suggesting perhaps that Robert and Alex's stories are compliments of each another? Or that in fact all of the characters are seeking to fill an emptiness?
It's of great help that the performances from all the actors are splendid. Krisch who can be brutal and animalistic (recurring scenes where we see him chopping wood for his grandpa are scary) is also able to convey a disarming sweetness. His scenes with Potapenko are perfect examples as he proceeds from lustful lovemaking to protectiveness.
Lust is sensitive and enigmatic, his character is described by others as "athletic" and unbelievably it's in scenes where we see him running that his compromise to the character becomes more obvious, it's as if only when he's alone and in motion he can be himself.
Strauss embodies a maternality that forces the audience to reexamine what they believe about her and her character along with Thanheiser's moving grandfather give the film another layer related to faith and redemption.
After a morally condmenable act one character asks Susanne "what does your God say about this?" without hesitating she replies "He understands".
In another moment Hausner proclaims Alex was "born and bred a heathen" as he goes to church with Susanne. By grouping these two characters together it's as if Spielmann is declaring his plot will eventually steer towards a conversion of sorts as the lead men are forced to reach out to a force beyond them.
But this never happens, because Spielmann also makes sure that Alex and Robert have a different kind of force to lean on: fate.
"Why do I always get plagued with bad luck?" asks Alex, while Robert wonders why his life puts him in the situations he stands in, can it be some sort of cosmic comeuppance? Little do these characters ever know how alike they think.
What is in God's hands and what rests on ours' is perhaps the strongest idea in the film, which also studies the roles of men in this equation.
Robert can't give life while his job forces him to take it away. Alex can't reccur to "traditional" means of justice because he owes some penitences of his own.
They're both emasculated, one biologically, the other socially. Therefore wood chopping becomes more than an action, it's almost a symbol of castration.
"Revanche" never provides clear answers about anything, instead fascinated with parallels and unexplored possibilities, even the title has a double meaning as it can signify "revenge" or "a second chance".
It's ironic that a film that dives into ambiguity so much never takes a false step.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Christmas Tale ***1/2

Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Roussillon
Anne Consigny, Mathieu Amalric, Melvil Poupaud
Hippolyte Girardot, Emmanuelle Devos, Chiara Mastroianni
Laurent Capelluto, Emile Berling, Thomas Obled, Clément Obled

Junon Vuillard (a truly splendid Deneuve) has been diagnosed with a form of degenerative cancer, she needs a bone marrow transplant that might aid her or kill her.
Her husband Abel (Roussillon moving and warm) invites their whole family to come together for the first time in years and celebrate the holidays. But this brings trouble with the return of the prodigal son Henri (Amalric who is brilliant) who was banished years before by his older sister Elizabeth (Consigny) who's dealing with her son Paul's (Berling) suicide attempt.
There's also an uncomfortable love triangle between their youngest brother Ivan (Poupaud), his wife Sylvia (a sparkling Mastroianni) and their cousin Simon (Capelluto). Plus Henri's new girlfriend Faunia (Devos who injects the film with a delightful sort of selfaware humor) who is Jewish and refuses to participate in Christian celebrations.
With as much balls as patience, director Desplechin puts all these people under the same roof, along with their feuds, secrets, genetic troubles, illnesses and inner demons, for the space of four days with some brilliant, unexpected results.
"A Christmas Tale" could've easily turned into one of the following: the rehearsal for a reality show, one of those quirky dysfunctional family dramas that rely heavily on eccentricity or one of those sappy American dramas where forgiveness and enlightenment come to the melody of Bing Crosby.
What this film turns out to be is something quite different; an amalgam of sorts of film styles, self conscious references, acting methods, moods, colors and emotions, something that sounds chaotic but actually makes more sense than it should and feels right because it manages to represent the tension that arises whenever families come together.
Sometimes it feels as if Desplechin himself doesn't want for these people to solve their problems (which he probably never intended to do), because instead of uniting their themes, he stresses out how different they are.
Therefore Consigny's scenes, some of which involve an analyst, feel extracted from a Bergman play, Poupaud's have picaresque Truffaut strokes, Amalric's seem to be have been written by Moliére on steroids and a particular scene involving Devos and Deneuve practically screams Hitchcock.
He grabs them, splits them in unorthodox ways, puts them together like he wishes, breaks the fourth wall constantly and even has time to include flashbacks, shadow theater, a wonderful Angela Bassett reference, Charlton Heston shouting in French and an improvised play before dinner. How this odes to individuality play together beautifully like a choir is one of the many miracles in Desplechin's Christmas.

Friday, February 13, 2009

She'd Fool Anyone...

Kyoko - "...but isn't life disappointing?"

Noriko - "Yes it is!"

By the way she answers that with that smile you have to wonder if she was the Poppy of her time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Reader ****

Director: Stephen Daldry
Cast: Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross
Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Volker Bruch, Lena Olin

Exploring the notions of guilt, emotional restraint, literature and survival, Stephen Daldry's "The Reader" reaffirms the director's ability to deliver films that are capable of serving as erudite, if sometimes too cerebral, essays, emotional time bombs or both.
Mostly set in Germany, the plot centers on the life of Michael who as an older man (Fiennes) reflects on his past and remembers the summer when he was fifteen (played by Kross who is a true revelation) and met Hanna Schmitz (Winslet), a tram conductor in her mid thirties who in a way exerted great power over his entire life.
After she aided him when he got sick on his way home, the two began an affair during which he explored his blossoming sexuality with the older woman, who asked nothing in return but to have books read out loud for her.
One day when he goes to her apartment, Michael discovers that Hanna has disappeared; he sees her again almost ten years later when, as a law student, he attends a trial against Nazi criminals where Hanna is one of the accused.
Still hurt from the way she abandoned him years before and somewhat disgusted by the fact that he loved someone who might've murdered people in concentration camps, Michael comes to an ethical and moral dilemma when he realizes he has information that might change the course of Hanna's verdict.
But "The Reader" isn't half as easy to absorb as a synopsis would have it seem, its implications go deeper and touch on several levels of humanity and even the lack of it.
"The notion of secrecy is central to Western literature" exclaims one of Michael's professors, "you may say the whole idea of character is defined by people holding specific information which for various reasons, sometimes perverse sometimes noble, they are determined not to disclose."
Based on the brilliant book by Bernhard Schlink, the film adaptation is above all a fascinating ode to literature and how we write other people's roles in our own (his)story.
Not in a fantastic way, but as in the means we have of perceiving others. Hanna therefore switches from being "heroine" and "villain" to Michael who as a kid worships her, but during the trial seems to understand her strange behavior (even their sex life "first you read to me, then we make love" was like a regime of sorts) while abhorring her existence and their relationship.
During one chilling scene Michael learns how Hanna chose the people she'd sent off to kill; she'd usually go for young, vulnerable, sickly types who read out loud to her and actually thought they'd be safe as long as they stayed under her care. For the witnesses, the mere idea sounds perverse and evil, to Michael however it's even more affecting because he sees himself as those victims: in a way he played their very role.
Several situations within the film lead to various degrees of "reading" and none dare to proclaim they have an absolute truth.
Among these situations is the idea of Nazism itself, "The Reader" isn't about the Holocaust or good vs. evil within this context; it elevates itself in order to cast a wider net of possibilities.
Notice how there is nary a sign or symbol of Nazism in the entire movie, we never see a single swastika or any sort of extermination footage a la "Sophie's Choice". The only time we even see a concentration camp is when Michael visits one, but consider how if we didn't know the context it could appear to be an empty warehouse.
We never see Hanna wearing an SS uniform or killing anyone, but like Michael we're led to draw our own conclusions ignoring her "big" secret (a twist of sorts that is brilliantly underplayed by a masterful editing job) one that may not absolve or justify her, but definitely casts her under a different light.
In the film's most haunting moment, Hanna attends the day of the trial when she will be sentenced. She wears a dark suit and tie that give the illusion of a severe uniform; upon entering the room she is welcomed by cries of "Nazi!" and boos from the crowd, who in her sober dress choice detect perverse defiance. Their case of imaginary Nazi imagery is only more affecting because it serves as a bleak metaphor for what has remained the "elephant in the room" for entire generations and a whole country.
It's been made a standard of sorts by the media to assume that Jews were the only victims of the Holocaust, and while their extermination is one of the darkest pages in history, little has been made about the consequences it had on others, least of all Germans.
Touching the subject of German Holocaust guilt is certainly quite uncommon and doing so by using a highly sexual, seemingly shallow analogy might not be the easiest choice, but by reducing two extremes to just people, the film is able to encompass more than it appears to be doing.
This is anchored by the sublime performance by Kate Winslet who doesn't care if the audience likes Hanna or not as long as she remains true to herself.
The actress, known for her colorful performances usually playing rebellious characters, gives Hanna an affecting, pragmatic dignity.
When she engages in the affair with Michael, she doesn't allow her to ask if what she's doing is right, for Hanna sex is something natural and sometimes she hints at vulnerability by the fact that her detachment is perhaps the only way she knows of providing love.
In the trial scenes, where Hanna only speaks when questioned, Winslet's eyes are filled with rage, confusion and despair; but the cold, commanding way in which she delivers her lines offer something quite different.
When confronted by the judge about her actions while working for the SS, she asks "what would you have done?", for Hanna the question is logical, for those listening to her it's the justification of a monster. Winslet turns her character into an unkowing seductress who remains ignorant of her effect on people, not because she plays the fool, but precisely because she allows others to project themselves into her.
It's remarkable that by film's end it's almost impossible to describe Hanna, because calling her a martyr, victim, villain, criminal, monster or any other adjective would be reducing her to an archetype and to do so would imply that you're also limiting the events she was involved in to a cliché situation with just two possible outcomes and instantly recognizable motives.
By making Hanna Schmitz someone you could actually love Winslet delivers one of the greatest performances of her career.
It's not an accident then that the film doesn't highlight the May/December nature of Hanna and Michael's affair (age of consent in Germany is much lower than 18), most of the audience after all will choose to understand this is wrong, or will they?
The movie daringly pushes the audience to ask themselves who are they to condemn and to judge. Why is one crime bigger than another? Why are some people more vulnerable than others? Was Hanna being a patriot by serving the SS? Who makes up the rules for things that happen after wars? What exactly makes Hanna guiltier than Michael?
"How do you know when you've no idea what it means?" asks Michael to Hanna after she declares a line in Greek to be beautiful. This simple truth can also be applied to the larger shape of things.
Not so surprisingly as it approaches its end the film seems to return to its literary source by becoming cyclical (Michael becoming as impenetrable as Hanna). It almost ends where it starts, offering more questions than answers.
As the older Michael, infused with a sterile conviction and guilt by Fiennes, approaches a Holocaust survivor (a superbly complex Olin who shines in one scene) you sense there is still a disconnection with the past and present (which might be hard to fathom for some viewers but actually plays a significant role in creating the whole mood of the film, while enhancing the theory of German survivor guilt).
It should result ironic that this woman, who wrote the book that helped convict Hanna, seems to have no grasp of the fact that she also might have aided in the imparting of injustice.
Perhaps another film would've attached these scenes with facile, didactic resolutions and moral compromises, "The Reader" doesn't even try, instead offering yet another intellectual dilemma by forcing us to wonder if lives can ever be summed up by words.

Go See This Now!

Paul Blart: Mall Cop *1/2

Director: Kevin Carr
Cast: Kevin James, Keir O'Donnell, Jayma Mays
Raini Rodríguez, Shirley Knight, Bobby Cannavale

There is something deeply likable about Kevin James; he looks like the kind, nice guy who would help an old lady cross the street and then go back to his unbelievably good looking wife (like he did on his TV show for several years).
However his kind of "root for the underdog" comedy has come to lose its punch because it lacks sincerity, anyone watching this movie knows for sure that before the credits roll, James' character will have become a hero, perhaps not because of his skills, but because he headlines the movie.
And there's nothing wrong with that of course if you have that mindset while watching it. James plays Paul Blart, a single dad who failed the police exam due to hypoglycemia and works at the mall where he takes his job way more seriously than any of the other people in the security staff.
He sets his eyes on a new employee (the lovely Anna Faris-esque Mays) and finds the perfect time to impress her when the mall is attacked by a band of thieves who take her, among others, as hostage.
Using his mall knowledge, which everyone else took for granted and some improbable plot machinations, he takes on the villains overcoming fears, all sorts of obstacles and rescuing the damsel.
The thing with the film is that even if the rescue portion of the plot is inventive, the whole thing lacks punch. Paul is a too likable hero who sometimes seems to be a praisal of mediocrity instead of a likable, believable human being.
And then when you take into consideration the fact that world economy is leading to unemployment, paranoia and fear which could turn mall/hostage situations into reality, the idea of someone like Blart looking after us is more scary than funny.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Pink Panther 2 *1/2

Director: Harald Zwart
Cast: Steve Martin, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer
Alfred Molina, Aishwarya Rai, Andy García, Lily Tomlin
Jeremy Irons, John Cleese

The sequel to 2006's film has Martin reprise his role as Inspector Jacques Clouseau, the least efficient police member in France who somehow lands a spot among a "dream team" assembled to find "The Tornado"; a mysterious thief who has reappeared after a decade long absence and is stealing notorious national treasures.
Clouseau's biggest worry is of course that he might steal the title diamond (which in the film is the worthiest treasure in all of France) and the plot consists of their investigation which Jacques constantly interrupts with his misadventures.
A few things are given for granted upon watching this film, first is the fact that Steve Martin is arguably one of the greatest comedic geniuses in history who can travel from sophisticated, clever existentialism to more "mainstream", slapstick, plain silly comedy.
The second is that Jacques Clouseau is one of the funniest characters ever made, the mere idea of Peter Sellers or the frustrated cartoon version makes anyone chuckle.
The third one is that any cast that includes Martin, Irons, García, Molina, Irons, Tomlin and Cleese must be up to something good, it sounds more like a Coppola movie than a comedy...
But if you're counting on all of those things to work, there is where this movie will let you down. Most of the gags are forced; a romantic triangle between García, the luminous Mortimer and Martin comes off looking as awkward and unnecessary and there's only so far as Martin can go with his "hamburger" pronunciation skit and Clouseau's, as well as the other characters', effects on the story can be smelled miles away, a recurring line where Molina's character bets he'll do something weird if Clouseau is wrong pays off in all the wrong ways, because you know in a "Pink Panther" movie he eventually will become the hero.
In the same way the film is usually saved by the audience's hope that something will happen, Martin's little mustache is often enough to elicit giggles, that then turn into nervous chuckles while you wait for the payoff.
The big laughs never really come, but by the time you realize that the lights have turned on and you're on your way out of the theater.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Harvey Girls.

Hooray for Penélope! (Click on the picture to see the video and links to the other speeches)
She got her first major award for her role in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" and her Audrey Hepburn redux look just blew me away. I now take back all the meh comments I did in the previous post. The lovely Kate Winslet got Best Actress for "The Reader" and if there is justice, both of them will translate as winners for Oscar.
Now what I really enjoyed is how happy they both looked, now they're out of each other's way they look so ecstatic winning awards.
Notice how Penélope effusively hugs Kate on her way up to the podium, after all they both are on the Weinstein team and all throughout her speech Kate just glows for Penélope.
In a recent interview Cruz said “Kate and I have become very close even though we have only met three times. Everyone likes to think there’s rivalry between us but that’s not true.”
Perhaps even she knew her category fraud was stealing away from Cruz's thunder, anyways I'm thrilled for both of them, who cares if Weinstein shaped Winslet's performance for Oscar win when she's so damn good!
Now I'll go see the Grammys, be pissed off at yet another Academy and let go of my movie thoughts for the night.
May M.I.A, Coldplay, Madge and Radiohead come out triumphant...

A Quickie Through the Orange Carpet.

Since I've no BBC or SKY or something that airs the BAFTAs, the next best thing I'm left with, while waiting for the results is fashion.
I've noticed the stars usually tone it down for these awards, they all wear sober, rather usual dresses in dark colors or go the entire opposite way and "dress up" (last year's Marion Cotillard mini-feathered-sequin creation was a breath of fresh air and a bold choice that looked good despite its riskiness).
As usual this time everyone wore black, it was expected of Meryl, but even Angelina Jolie donned the color, at least this time her dress has shape, not like those weird moo-moo/toga things she's been wearing in like forever.
Anyways without further ado, here are the loveliest women I saw:

Did you really think I wasn't going to include her?
Her hair is perfection (and very "Broken Embraces") and while I'm not fully loving the velvety black, she looks gorgeous.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed so that she has her first big award moment of the season tonight.
Go Penélope!

Freida Pinto is a beautiful woman and she knows it, but if she doesn't she should log on to the internet and watch how we all talk about her (skipping the acting parts of course). A vision in pink she forces me to wonder is there any color she won't look like a vision in?

Even the lovely Marisa Tomei got into the "Slumdog" groove...
But her sari is nothing short of majestic.
And I just realized the three women I chose are all Best Supporting Actress nominees grrr.
I wouldn't be completely offended if Marisa won, next to Penélope she's the one I'm rooting for.
And last I checked the ceremony was turning into a "Benjamin" "Slumdog" lovefest.