2010 Oscar Predictions

WILL WIN are in bold 

SHOULD WIN (where i have an opinion) is underlined 

 Did Win are BIG 




MY SCORE: 17/24

well, the oscars have come and gone and i had an average go with my predictions this year. it wasn't my most impressive performance, but it wasn't awful either. where i messed up this year was with the shorts (animation, live action, documentary). normally i get at least one of those right and this time nothing. and then, missing both screenplay winners is just awful. but, i went  17/19 for the rest of the awards and a perfect on the top 6 categories which isn't bad.... so, how did you all do?

Best motion picture of the year
  • Avatar
  • The Blind Side
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • Up In the Air
Performance by an actress in a leading role
  • Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
  • Helen Mirren (The Last Station)
  • Carey Mulligan (An Education)
  • Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)
  • Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia)
Performance by an actor in a leading role
  • Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
  • George Clooney (Up In the Air)
  • Colin Firth (A Single Man)
  • Morgan Freeman (Invictus)
  • Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
  • Matt Damon (Invictus)
  • Woody Harrellson (The Messenger)
  • Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)
  • Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
  • Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
  • Penelope Cruz (Nine)
  • Vera Farmiga (Up In the Air)
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart)
  • Anna Kendrick (Up In the Air)
  • Mo'Nique (Precious)
Best animated feature film of the year
  • Coraline
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • The Secret of Kells
  • Up
Best Documentary Short Subject
  • China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
  • The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
  • The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”
  • Music by Prudence
  • Rabbit à la Berlin
Best Short Film (Animated)
  • French Roast
  • Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty
  • The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)
  • Logorama
  • A Matter of Loaf and Death
Best Short Film (Live Action)
  • The Door
  • Instead of Abracadabra
  • Kavi
  • Miracle Fish
  • The New Tenants
Achievement in art direction
  • Avatar
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
  • Nine
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Young Victoria
Achievement in cinematography
  • Avatar, Mauro Fiore
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Bruno Delbonnel
  • The Hurt Locker, Barry Ackroyd
  • Inglourious Basterds, Robert Richardson
  • The White Ribbon, Christian Berger
Achievement in costume design
  • Bright Star, Janet Patterson
  • Coco before Chanel, Catherine Leterrier
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Monique Prudhomme
  • Nine, Colleen Atwood
  • The Young Victoria, Sandy Powell
Achievement in directing
  • James Cameron (Avatar)
  • Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Lee Daniels (Precious)
  • Jason Reitman (Up In the Air)
Best documentary feature
  • Burma VJ
  • The Cove
  • Food, Inc.
  • The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
  • Which Way Home
  • Il Divo, Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
  • Star Trek, Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
  • The Young Victoria, Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore
Achievement in film editing
  • Avatar, Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
  • District 9, Julian Clarke
  • The Hurt Locker, Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
  • Inglourious Basterds, Sally Menke
  • Precious, Joe Klotz
Best foreign language film of the year
  • Ajami
  • El Secreto De Sus Ojos
  • The Milk of Sorrow
  • A Prophet
  • The White Ribbon
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
  • Avatar, James Horner
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox, Alexandre Desplat
  • The Hurt Locker, Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
  • Sherlock Holmes, Hans Zimmer
  • Up, Michael Giacchino
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
  • "Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • "Down in New Orleans" from The Princess and the Frog Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • "Loin de Paname" from Paris 36 Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
  • "Take It All" from Nine Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
  • "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" from Crazy Heart Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
Achievement in sound editing
  • Avatar, Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
  • The Hurt Locker, Paul N.J. Ottosson
  • Inglourious Basterds, Wylie Stateman
  • Star Trek, Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
  • Up, Michael Silvers and Tom Myers
Achievement in sound mixing
  • Avatar, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
  • The Hurt Locker, Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
  • Inglourious Basterds, Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
  • Star Trek, Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson
Achievement in visual effects
  • Avatar, Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
  • District 9, Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
  • Star Trek, Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton
Adapted screenplay
  • Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell (District 9)
  • Nick Hornby (An Education)
  • Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche (In the Loop)
  • Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious)
  • Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (Up In the Air)
Original screenplay
  • Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman (The Messenger)
  • Joel and Ethan Coen (A Serious Man)
  • Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy (Up)

Good Hair

Year: 2009

Writer: Lance Crouther & Paul Marchand (ghostwriter) & Chris Rock & Chuck Sklar & Jeff Stilson

Director: Jeff Stilson

Budget: ?

Gross: $1 727 486 (as of October 18th, 2009)


who ever thought a documentary about hair could cause controversy? well, that is what Good Hair has done. the new doc from chris rock and director jeff stilson, about the history and industry surrounding african americans and their hair, has been getting lots of praise and lots of flack.

i have some of both to give it. but i do think the controversy heaped on it is a little unjustified, and has more to do with peoples interpretations of the film - or the mear fact that the film is talking about its subject - rather then what the film is actually saying... which leads into some of my "flack", so i guess we are starting with the negatives...

the film does try to take a more reporting/journalism/down-the-middle approach to its subject then we have been used to in recent years with the documentary format. in the case of this film, this is both good and bad.

while i appreciated the ability to listen to the interviews without feeling like the film was pushing or angling everything one way or the other, i also felt like some of the more interesting and important issues that were brought up were also kind of skirted over.

the idea that black women spend so much time and money and effort trying to make their hair straighter and silkier and "whiter" is something that the film brings up, but then doesn't really attack or delve into. some of the interviews mention it, but it doesn't get the treatment it deserves. the same is true for some other ideas that get brought up. really, what the film feels like, is the beginning of a discussion.

chris rock is taking this secret of the black community and putting it out there and making us all talk about it. and in that way it is really working. not only did it lead to an interesting conversation between me and my friends on the walk home from the theatre, but oprah, tyra, the Today Show, essence magazine, etc... have all been talking about "good hair" and what it means.

the movie is funny and chris rock is a great person to take us on the journey of the film which will definitely open up many eyes to the industry that is african american hair. it will entertain and inform and, what it's most trying to do, will start an interesting and important discussion.

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Grizzly Man

Year: 2005

Writer/Director: Werner Herzog

Budget: ?

Gross: $3 174 085


timothy treadwell spent the last 13 years of his life living and camping among the grizzly bears in alaska for months at a time without any weapons. in october 2003 he and his girlfriend amie huguenard were killed by a bear...

treadwell also did a lot of video recording during the last years of his expeditions and what werner herzog had access to was over 100 hours of timothy's footage. from all that and with the addition of interviews he did, he made Grizzly Man. what i found so interesting about the film - besides timothy and what he did for all those years - was the film making itself.

with so much footage of timothy and the bears and the landscape you know there were probably 5 or 10 films that could have been made, and from a film lovers perspective i am always interested in the one that is - as well as the ones that weren't.

what herzog does is present us with timothy and also present us with an analysis of treadwell and a character study that comes across as accurate and fair. herzog injects himself into the film on numerous occasions with his narration and in person. in one scene he listens to the audio recording that was made, by chance, during the bear attack that killed tim and amie. he is obviously deeply effected by it and tells the woman (a friend and ex of treadwells) to never listen to it and to even destroy it.

i have to say that at first, when i heard herzog doing the narration and injecting his analysis into his interpretation of what he saw on all the footage and what he got from all the interviews, i wasn't sure if i liked it. i wasn't sure it was the right film making technique for the film. however, that unsureness disappeared real quick. there is a real sense that herzog understands tredwell, but the film never becomes about that - it always remains about timothy and the bears. about how this troubled man's life was changed by his time with the bears and how they were really the only thing he ever really cared about and the one thing - sadly and ironically - he was willing to die for.

herzog provides us with a pretty full look at his main character. the way you look at treadwell at the begining of the film will probably not be the same as the way you see him at the end. not that you will like him or dislike him more or less, but more that your understanding of him as a complete human being - and not just a quirky character - will be enhanced as the film progresses.

it was also interesting to see some of the footage through herzogs eyes as a filmmaker who has been making movies and telling stories for so many years. Herzog points out the numerous takes that treadwell would make for certain shots and various speaches/narrations tim would make to the camera (treadwell started filming his time with the grizzlys in the hopes that he could educate the world about the animals he so dearly loved).

herzog uses this footage and many of the "outtakes" to expand on is understanding of treadwell and also to make some interesting points about film making in general... at one point herzog points out a shot of treadwell finishing one of his speaches to the camera and then when the take was over just waiting in the field when all of a sudden there came, into the shot, some foxes that tim had befriended. it was a beautiful and genuine moment that herzog points out happened in the lingering time after the "shot/scene" was already over.... then to almost mirror that statement, herzog does the same thing in a scene he films of the coroner presenting treadwell's watch to his ex-girlfriend/friend/employee. when the presentation is over and both parties seem to be looking at the director, as if to say "is that okay? is it done?", but herzog keeps the cameras rolling and catches a genuine reaction and emotional moment from the woman.

the film had some good word of mouth back in 2005, and over $3 million gross isn't bad for a documentary. however, if you haven't seen it yet, this is one to check out.



Year: 2008

Writer & Director: James Toback

Budget: ?

Gross: $543 124 (as of May 21st, 2009)


kind of like Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired, i went into Tyson with the expectation that the film had, as its goal, to change my perception of its subject - in this case mike tyson. however, as with the polanski documentary, it expanded, rather than changed my opinion by presenting all the facts beyond the headlines and the late-night jokes.

at its core, the film is an interview with mike tyson. i like to call it "tyson on tyson", and because we never hear the questions asked, the film plays like an hour and a half monologue by tyson about his life and himself.

Tyson is a film about potential. tyson had the potential to be the greatest boxer of all time and every time he got close he fell back into his lifestyle of self-destruction. it was so frustrating to watch as he, twice, became the champion of the world and both times lost it, as if he hadn't learned the first time. i'm sure we all know people like this - if we ourselves aren't one - who have so much potential and opportunity and keep fucking up just when you think they have everything.

tyson is a much smarter man than he gets credit for and he is also quite self-reflective and insightful about who he is and why he has done the things he has done. i don't know if he has always been that way, or if that is something that he has discovered as he has gotten older, looking back on his life and how, and why, things went the way they did. he is also completely genuine and honest and it is that openness and candor that make this film so interesting.

all the juicy items are covered: his marriage to robin givens, the rape conviction, don king, the ear biting, etc... however, this film isn't about going through all of those items step by step and re-evaluating them, like Wanted And Desired was about doing so for the polanski case. in Tyson, some of those items get a lot more time then others and they are all part of the grander point of the film which is tyson himself in his own words.

like i said at the beginning of this discussion, my opinion of mike tyson has been expanded rather then changed.  i didn't come away from the film thinking that mike tyson was the greatest guy ever or that he has been completely misunderstood in every way and now i want to be his bff. rather, the film has put things into a greater perspective, creating, for my part, a more rounded view of the man. the film is mike tyson saying "this is who i am. this is where i come from. this is why i have done the things i have done. this is me. not the me from the headlines or from the funny one-liners. this is a complete view of myself as i see it."



Tupperware Year: 2004

Writer & Director: Laurie Kahn-Leavitt

Tupperware! played at a few film festivals but never got a theatrical release - in case you are wondering why you never heard of it. rather it made its broadcast debut on pbs' The American Experience television show (which is a great series by the way).

Tupperware! is a pretty standard documentary with a narrator, archival footage and personal interviews all weaved together. there is nothing wrong with that though, and for anyone interested in the subject it is informative and interesting.

i would describe the film as a "biography" of brownie wise and tupperware, but wise is the real focus of the film. brownie wise is the woman that took tupperware and made it the huge business it became by creating and marketing and getting the company to commit to selling its product through the famous "tupperware parties".

the film looks at the rise of the parties and talks to women who became sellers and managers, etc... and the business that became basically the template for any similar business-model in the future. if you, or anyone you know has been a part of a business that uses people as sellers and who then get more people to sell and grow the business then you are familiar with what brownie wise created.

today everyone knows tupperware, but with all the various knockoffs the stuff isn't as pervasive as it once was (the patent ran out in the 80s i think - only a short while after creator earl tupper passed away). however, this film provides a little history about the product (i would have liked more) and the woman that knew how to sell it.


2009 Oscar Predictions

 here i go again...

Will Win: Bold

Did Win: Big




MY SCORE: 19/24


"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"The Reader"
"Slumdog Millionaire"


Gus Van Sant ("Milk")
Ron Howard ("Frost/Nixon")
David Fincher ('Benjamin Button')
Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire")
Stephen Daldry ("The Reader")

Kate Winslet ("The Reader")
Angelina Jolie ("Changeling")
Melissa Leo "(Frozen River")
Anne Hathaway ("Rachel Getting Married"
Meryl Streep ("Doubt")

Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler")
Brad Pitt ("The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button")
Sean Penn ("Milk")
Frank Langella ("Frost/Nixon")
Richard Jenkins ("The Visitor")

Amy Adams ("Doubt")
Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona")
Viola Davis ("Doubt")
Marisa Tomei ("The Wrestler")
Taraji P Henson ('Benjamin Button')

Phillip Seymour Hoffman ("Doubt")
Michael Shannon ("Revolutionary Road"
Robert Downey Jr. ("Tropic Thunder")
Josh Brolin ("Milk")
Heath Ledger "(The Dark Knight")

"Waltz With Bashir" (Israel)
"Revanche" (Austria)
"The Class" (France)
"Der Baader Meinhof Komplex" (Germany)
"Departures" (Japan)

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Screenplay by Eric Roth, Screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
“Doubt” (Miramax), Written by John Patrick Shanley
“Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Screenplay by Peter Morgan
“The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Screenplay by David Hare
Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy

“Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Courtney Hunt
“Happy-Go-Lucky” (Miramax), Written by Mike Leigh
“In Bruges” (Focus Features), Written by Martin McDonagh
“Milk” (Focus Features), Written by Dustin Lance Black
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter

“Changeling” (Universal), Tom Stern
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Claudio Miranda
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Wally Pfister
“The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Chris Menges and Roger Deakins
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Anthony Dod Mantle

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lee Smith
“Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
“Milk” (Focus Features), Elliot Graham
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Chris Dickens

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.),Alexandre Desplat
“Defiance” (Paramount Vantage), James Newton Howard
“Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Elfman
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A.R. Rahman
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Thomas Newman 

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"The Duchess"
"Revolutionary Road"
"The Dark Knight"

“Australia” (20th Century Fox), Catherine Martin
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Jacqueline West
“The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Michael O’Connor
“Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Glicker
“Revolutionary Road”

“Down to Earth” from “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, Lyric by Peter Gabriel
“Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Gulzar
“O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music and Lyric by A.R. Rahman andMaya Arulpragasam

"Kung Fu Panda"

“The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)” (Cinema Guild), A Pandinlao Films Production, Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
“Encounters at the End of the World” (THINKFilm and Image Entertainment), A Creative Differences Production, Werner Herzog and Henry Kaiser
“The Garden” A Black Valley Films Production, Scott Hamilton Kennedy
“Man on Wire” (Magnolia Pictures), A Wall to Wall Production, James Marsh and Simon Chinn
“Trouble the Water” (Zeitgeist Films), An Elsewhere Films Production, Tia Lessin and Carl

"The Conscience of Nhem En"
      A Farallon Films Production    Steven Okazaki
"The Final Inch"
      A Vermilion Films Production    Irene Taylor Brodsky and Tom Grant
"Smile Pinki"
      A Principe Production    Megan Mylan

"The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306"
      A Rock Paper Scissors Production    Adam Pertofsky and Margaret Hyde

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Greg Cannom
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), John Caglione, Jr. and Conor O’Sullivan
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (Universal), Mike Elizalde and Thom Floutz

“La Maison en Petits Cubes” A Robot Communications Production, Kunio Kato
“Lavatory - Lovestory” A Melnitsa Animation Studio and CTB Film Company Production, Konstantin Bronzit
“Oktapodi” (Talantis Films) A Gobelins, L’école de l’image Production, Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand

“Presto” (Walt Disney) A Pixar Animation Studios Production, Doug Sweetland

“This Way Up”, A Nexus Production, Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes

“Auf der Strecke (On the Line)” (Hamburg Shortfilmagency), An Academy of Media Arts Cologne Production, Reto Caffi
“Manon on the Asphalt” (La Luna Productions), A La Luna Production, Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont
“New Boy” (Network Ireland Television), A Zanzibar Films Production, Steph Green and Tamara Anghie
“The Pig” An M & M Production, Tivi Magnusson and Dorte Høgh

“Spielzeugland (Toyland)” A Mephisto Film Production, Jochen Alexander Freydank


“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Richard King
“Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Tom Sayers
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
“Wanted” (Universal),Wylie Stateman


“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick

“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney),Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
“Wanted” (Universal), Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño and Petr Forejt

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin
“Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan

My Kid Could Paint That

My_kid_could_paint_that Year: 2007

Director: Amir Bar-Lev

Budget: ?

Gross: $231 274

back in 2005 the art world was all a buzz over marla olmstead.  she was being compared to the likes of jackson pollock and her paintings were selling for about 10-30 thousand dollars.  what makes this such an incredible story, is that she was only 4 years old at the time... now do i have your attention?

My Kid Could Paint That is an interesting film on multiple levels.  first, there is the story itself: what began as a film about this painting protege turned into a look at a family in question after a 60 Minutes report that basically accuses the father of having a little something to do with the paintings. director amir bar-lev couldn't have known that the 60 Minute piece was going to happen, but when it did, the film he is making changes, as he starts to have little doubts about the veracity of the kids work (he went into the making of the movie never doubting that).

second, the film is about modern art and how it is looked at and perceived by critics and the public.  how can images of squares or paint thrown on a canvas, etc... be art?  is it art?  how can you tell good modern art from bad modern art?  the idea that a four year old could paint that has always been the cry of those that don't believe in the truth of modern art and now here we have a situation where it actually was a four year old that painted it.

then in the midst of this film about modern art the film itself takes on a modern/post-modern role as it begins to effect and react to the story it is documenting.  bar-lev talks to us directly at times and in some wonderful moments is questioned, by those he is interviewing, about what he is trying to do with the film and what his goals are. the family even talks to him about how they have allowed him to stay and continue his film because they trust him.  which as a film maker must be a hard thing when you see your film taking a path that might not be completely positive towards those that are giving you such openness and trust.

besides the family bar-lev interviews collectors of marla's work, the gallery owner that 'discovered' marla, the newspaper reporter that was the first to write about marla and documented the family over many months, even the chief art critic for the new york times...

bar-lev couldn't have seen where this story was going to go when he first started filming the family, but watching the entire arc of the film is completely interesting from both a story and film making viewpoint.

the only thing i will say i don't quite understand is why no one ever asked marla if her dad helped her with the paintings.  not in the 60 Minutes piece nor in any of the footage in the documentary.  you would think that would be an obvious question wouldn't you?

in the end i have to say that while i am leaning one way, i am not 100% convinced either way on the question of did marla paint those painting by herself or not. however, the great thing about My Kid Could Paint That is that the film brings up more questions then just that one, so see it for yourself and answer the ones you can and ask some new ones.


Anytown, USA/The War Room

Anytown-usa Anytown, USA: Year: 2005, Director: Kristian Fraga

The-war-room The War Room: Year: 1993, Director: Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker, Budget: ?, Gross: $901 668

for almost two year leading up to the past elections in the united states the political campaign was front page news.  from the primaries through to the general election this was one of the most tightly fought and publicly engaging campaigns in recent memory.  now i don't know about you, but i have to admit some withdrawal feelings since november 5th when all was said and done.  sure there has been plenty of politics to deal with, but there is something about a campaign that i just find completely compelling.

so, with that in mind and with the historic inaugural just a few days away, i figured it would be a good time to check out two great documentaries that take you behind the political campaigns, and let us see them from the other side: The War Room and Anytown, USA.

The War Room takes us behind the 1992 bill clinton campaign for president and Anytown, USA gives us an insiders look at the race for mayor in bogota, new jersey in 2003.  two campaigns on two totally different scales, but when it comes to politics and power things are never really that different, be it the presidency of the country or the mayoralty of a town with a population of about 5000 people.

i love going behind the scenes in general.  i like seeing how something is made or created and what goes on that the public doesn't see, and these films do exactly that.  besides showing us that politics is politics no matter where you go, both films were interesting for me in two separate ways.

as for The War Room, i remember watching that campaign transpire.  i remember the clinton interview on 60 minutes and the sax playing on arsenio and the debates against bush and perot, etc... so for me this film was like taking me behind history to see all the events of the campaign, the ups and the downs, from inside the campaign, with much of the focus on the two primary architects of it all, james carville and george stephanopoulos.  i was watching the history that i remember, just from another side, which is a fascinating opportunity.

with Anytown USA i have to plead ignorance about the campaign when it took place.  which i would assume is acceptable since i don't live in bogota, new jersey.  so, for me this wasn't a retelling of an event that i already new about, but rather a first time telling of a mayoral campaign in which the incumbent republican mayor was legally blind and was running against a democrat and a blind write-in independent candidate.  yup, you read that right: two blind candidates. so, there is the kicker to it all, but in the end that feels more like a sidebar to the story, as the three way race develops and politics rules - if you thought local politics were all clean and friendly and nice then you will have your innocence broken after watching Anytown, USA...

both films are facsinating looks at two very different, yet not so differnet (somplaints about lies from the other side, campaign signs being torn down, etc...), political campaigns and both films will completely engage you with their stories and their characters as they move towards declaring a winner.


Best And Worst Of 2008

i kind of feel bad for 2008.  i mean, having to follow 2007 is like being an amateur comic at a comedy club and having chris rock pop in to do a set just before you go on - no matter how good your material is, it just isn't going to be as good...

2007 was one of the best years for movies in a long long time.  not only did you have two films, No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood, that i would not hesitate to call masterpieces, but then there was Juno, Eastern Promises, The Diving Bell And The Butterfly and Once which were all excellent films that all could have easily been 'best films of the year' almost any other year (check out the best and worst of 2007 lists)...

2008 however, turned out to be a good year all around, although up until the last couple months of the year, except for a few standouts, it wasn't looking like that was the case.  but, these last couple months have brought with them some quality films, and in the end i actually had a little bit of a hard time narrowing down my list.

and finally, i will mention, as i always do, the films that i haven't seen, as i put my lists together, that seem to be making other top lists: Seven Pounds, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, Australia, Ballast, The Class, Rachel Getting Married, Happy Go Lucky, Waltz With Bashir, W., The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Doubt, Paranoid Park, Baghead and My Winnipeg.

click the links for the written discussions and listen to the podcast to hear discussions about all the films on the lists, the ones that just missed, and more - with all that being said, let the listing begin...


1.  Slumdog Millionaire
2.   The Fall & The Class (Entre Les Murs)
3.   Vicky Cristina Barcelona
4.   The Dark Knight
5.   The Wrestler
6.   Milk
7.   Young People Fucking
8.   Man On Wire
9.   Tropic Thunder
10. Tell No One & Wendy And Lucy

don't forget (honorable mention): Teeth, The Wackness, Elegy, Frost/Nixon, Wall-E, Be Kind Rewind, Body Of Lies, Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired, Synecdoche New York,



if you want to read some short discussions on these crappy films, you can see a write-up on most of them at www.notgoodmovies.com 

1.   Righteous Kill
2.  Quantum Of Solace
3.   Jumper
4.   Vantage Point
5.   21
6.   Wanted
7.   The Day The Earth Stood Still
8.   The Incredible Hulk
9.   Untraceable
10. Burn After Reading

Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired

Roman_polanski_wanted_and_desired Year: 2008

Writer: Joe Bini, Peter G. Morgan, Marina Zenovich

Director: Marina Zenovich

Budget: ?

Gross: $59 192

everyone knows that roman polanski slept with an underage girl in 1977 and then fled to paris before sentencing where he has stayed ever since.  there is however a lot that most people don't know about the story, and that is where Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired comes in.

based on things i had heard my anticipation was that this film basically looked back on the story and exonerated polanski.  however, that is not the case.  there is no doubt, or at least very little, that polanski did drug and have sex with the girl, but what the film does - and does very well - is look at the entire story beyond that moment.

whenever a discussion of polanski and the incident comes up the conversation usually never gets past the sex with a 13-year-old stage.  not that that isn't a valid conversation to have, but what happened after is something you should be aware of as well.

the film looks at the court case and the judge and the attorneys and polanski himself and paints a picture of fame and desire and the law being used and distorted for personal and political reasons that polanski got caught up in the middle of.  i found it so interesting to get past the incident and discover what happened in the months and years proceeding it.  did you know that polanski actually plead guilty to one count? that he actually spend a couple months in prison? that there had been a deal in place that the judge took back his word on?  well, i didn't.

again, i am not saying what polanski did was okay, and i didn't feel that the film was saying that either.  Rather it is putting everything in context and trying to expose us to aspects of the case that aren't talked about or as well known.