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80th Annual Academy Award Winners


Tim Bradstreet
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Here is the official list of award winners from the 2008 Academy Awards.

 

1. Best Motion Picture of the Year - No Country for Old Men

2. Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - Daniel Day-Lewis

3. Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role - Marion Cotillard

4. Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role - Javier Bardem

5. Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Tilda Swinton

6. Best Achievement in Directing - Joel and Ethan Coen

 

7. Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen - Diablo Cody - Juno

8. Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published - Joel Coen, Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men

9. Best Achievement in Cinematography - Robert Elswit - There Will Be Blood

10. Best Achievement in Editing - Christopher Rouse - The Bourne Ultimatum

11. Best Achievement in Art Direction - Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

12. Best Achievement in Costume Design - Alexandra Byrne - Elizabeth: The Golden Age

13. Best Achievement in Makeup - Didier Lavergne, Jan Archibald - La Mome

14. Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score - Dario Marianelli - Atonement

15. Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song - Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová(“Falling Slowly” ) - Once

16. Best Achievement in Sound - Scott Millan, David Parker, Kirk Francis - The Bourne Ultimatum

17. Best Achievement in Sound Editing - Karen M. Baker, Per Hallberg - The Bourne Ultimatum

18. Best Achievement in Visual Effects - Michael L. Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris, Trevor Wood - The Golden Compass

19. Best Animated Feature Film of the Year - Brad Bird - Ratatouille

20. Best Foreign Language Film of the Year - Die Fälscher (Austria)

21. Best Documentary, Features - Alex Gibney, Eva Orner - Taxi to the Dark Side

22. Best Documentary, Short Subjects - Cynthia Wade, Vanessa Roth - Freeheld

23. Best Short Film, Animated - Suzie Templeton, Hugh Welchman - Peter & the Wolf

24. Best Short Film, Live Action - Philippe Pollet-Villard - Le Mozart des pickpockets

 

 

I have to say I would have loved it if George Clooney could have won for Michael Clayton but really, no one deserved it more than Daniel Day Lewis.

I wasn't shocked about really anything (Except for the conspicuous no-nomination for Jonny Greeenwood's score for There Will be Blood).

In recent years I've been mad because some of the winners were suspect in my book, like makeup wins, films or actors that didn't win that should have (in my opinion and the opinion of many others, most notably Shakespeare In Love winning over Saving Private Ryan, what? SIL was a damn good film. SPR was clearly best picture though.) I was very happy for Tilda Swinton, love her work.

 

Anyone you thought got overlooked?

 

- TB

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You know I thought Transformers would win for best sound editing. How can that be topped? There was a special on the news about Ethan Van der Ryn about how he has been nominated three time's for sound editing and never won. They had footage of his mother being interviewed stating that she used to tell her son that "By the time you win one, I'll be dead." Or something along those lines. She unfortunately passed away in 2006.

 

Overall I thought the award show was good. I wouldn't have changed many if any of the award winners to be frank.

 

Did anyone watch Harrison Ford on the Barbra Walters Special? If not.... SHAME ON YOU! He hasn't had an interview like that in 10 years.

 

 

 

-Raffi

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I have to say I would have loved it if George Clooney could have won for Michael Clayton but really, no one deserved it more than Daniel Day Lewis.

 

- TB

 

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. Just the fact that Clooney was nominated was hideous enough. Of course, I really don't have any strong feelings about Clooney's acting abilities, or lack thereof. :huh:

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Interesting opinion.

I thought Clooney was terrific in Michael Clayton.

It took me a very long time to warm to Clooney's film career but he's shown me something in recent years (maybe it was "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" that brought me around - and brought his game up several notches). I'm not necessarily a Clooney fan per se, BUT, I did think the film was a nice piece of work and Clooney's was the performance that drove it. Shame that Tom Wilkinson lost out, his performance was the real Oscar worthy turn in that film.

 

Still, everyone likes or dislikes people for whatever personal reasons. Maybe you don't buy his acting, fair enough. Perhaps you don't like HIM period.

I can't get on certain people's bandwagon's either. People will say, "How can you say that?" when I refer to some OBVIOUSLY talented person in a less than enthusiastic light that I myself cannot stand (95% of Mark Wahlberg's work - just one example). My best pal HATES an actress I adore, and every time he voices his opinion about it wrankles me. We'll never ALL agree.

 

- TB

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Happy that Swinton won, but thought they would have given it to Ruby Dee. Clooney should have won, but sometimes I think it gets real political when it comes to him. Was hoping for Depp though. Shocker in the Best Actress category, because I thought Blanchett was going to win. I knew the Coen brothers was going to rock all their categories, so no surprise there. Did not realize that Bardem's win made him the first Spanish actor to ever win an Oscar. Thrilled that Cody won Best Writing for Juno, great film. Happy that Bourne won some awards, because I thought it was a good film.

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Clooney is an odd case. I think in alot of ways he is highly overrated but in some ways not. I thought the way he directed Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind was pretty damn cool. But I liked him alot better when he wasn't getting all this sexiest man alive bullshit, he got a bit pigheaded then when it came to roles where as in the beginning he had From Dusk Till Dawn and Out Of Sight, etc. But Michael Clayton was pretty good.

I'd say his career took a turn about like Brad Pitt's career did. In the beginning Pitt had alot of good roles and great characters that he really molded himself into such as Se7en, Kalifornia, True Romance, 12 Monkeys and Interview With A Vampire then he went the other way besides films like Snatch and Fight Club. Just my opinion though.

 

Finally Daniel Day-Lewis gets some recognition. 'Bout damn time.

 

Wish There Will Be Blood could have won some more awards though. That was a damn good film. And Assassination Of Jesse James got left in the wind. I don't quite understand that. Feel bad that Lars & The Real Girl didn't get anything, that was a great lil gem.

 

JO

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Clooney has always been a fun actor. It wasn't until "O Brother" that I really took him seriously though. I think he's great! I am SO happy about "No Country" getting so much attention. Javier Bardem, in particular was a MUST!!!

 

I'm still not sure how "Golden Compass" beat out "Transformers" for visual effects though...

 

Frederic

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I'm still not sure how "Golden Compass" beat out "Transformers" for visual effects though...

 

Frederic

 

I was stunned over that one too... :blink:

 

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Interesting opinion.

I thought Clooney was terrific in Michael Clayton.

It took me a very long time to warm to Clooney's film career but he's shown me something in recent years (maybe it was "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" that brought me around - and brought his game up several notches). I'm not necessarily a Clooney fan per se, BUT, I did think the film was a nice piece of work and Clooney's was the performance that drove it. Shame that Tom Wilkinson lost out, his performance was the real Oscar worthy turn in that film.

 

Still, everyone likes or dislikes people for whatever personal reasons. Maybe you don't buy his acting, fair enough. Perhaps you don't like HIM period.

I can't get on certain people's bandwagon's either. People will say, "How can you say that?" when I refer to some OBVIOUSLY talented person in a less than enthusiastic light that I myself cannot stand (95% of Mark Wahlberg's work - just one example). My best pal HATES an actress I adore, and every time he voices his opinion about it wrankles me. We'll never ALL agree.

 

- TB

Thank you for your tactful response to my post. Perhaps I overstated. I heard the other day that 90% of directing is casting. And I think GC was well cast in the role of Michael Clayton. But, IMHO, he has never been able to show nuanced facial expressions that other good actors have, to express what his character is thinking and feeling. I haven't seen his entire body of work, but what I have seen has not impressed me.

I don't think my response to GC is for any personal reasons. He's an okay actor. I've seen so much better from so many others. But what do I know. I'm a watcher, not an actor.

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Heh, I never imagined I'd get a "I think I just threw up in my mouth a little" tossed my way over something I'd said . . .

And it's never a fun thing when it's not for the laugh of it.

But it just goes to show ya, we're all different in our likes and dislikes.

And halleluiah for that.

 

It's hard not to take stuff like that personally but before I get defensive about it I try to stop and remember, not everyone sees things the way I do.

And I couldn't blame you for why you think the way you do on the subject.

 

- TB

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Here's an interesting article about the lessons learned from the Oscars:

 

By Jocelyn Noveck, AP:

 

It happens after big football games, and it happens after the Oscars, too: the ritual Monday post-game analysis. And the first question to be pondered this year was why the 80th Academy Awards were a ratings dud.

 

Was it fallout from the recently ended writer's strike? A reflection of a somber and turbulent national mood? Nah. Likely it was just that tried-and-true Oscar rule that when there's a big, popular movie up for prizes, more people tune in. And when there isn't, they don't.

 

This year's best-picture winner, Joel and Ethan Coen's dark and disturbing "No Country for Old Men," was loved by critics, but its box office take, $64 million to date, pales in comparison to a film such as "The Bourne Ultimatum," with $224 million in grosses through October.

 

According to Nielsen ratings, Sunday's show was watched by 32 million viewers. The previous low was 33 million viewers in 2003, when "Chicago" won best picture. By contrast, in 1998, when "Titanic" won, more than 55 million people tuned in. (ABC noted in a statement that this year's ratings don't account for the increasing number of homes watching the show on digital video recorders.)

 

"It's so tied in to the best picture nominees," says Shari Anne Brill, senior vice president of the Carat media buying agency. "The more a movie has mass appeal, the more viewers will tune in."

 

So, the first of this year's Oscar lessons: NO BIG MOVIE MEANS NO BIG AUDIENCE. But does that mean the Academy should alter its choices to take such concerns into account? Heaven forbid, says film historian Leonard Maltin.

 

"Should they suddenly start nominating 'Spiderman 3' and 'Alvin and the Chipmunks'"? Maltin quips. "It's an awards ceremony that happens to be a TV show, and not the other way around. People need to remember that. I say, God bless the Academy for maintaining its standards."

 

As Maltin says, the Oscars is a lot more than a TV show. So, ratings aside, here are a couple other lessons to be gleaned from this year's ceremony, besides the crucial one that Javier Bardem really does have nice hair:

 

HOLLYWOOD IS A GLOBAL FAMILY

Much has been made of the international flavor of the four acting prizes, which went to two Brits (Daniel Day-Lewis and Tilda Swinton, a London-born Scotswoman), a Frenchwoman (Marion Cotillard) and a Spaniard (Bardem). For one film analyst, though, it's a natural development, and a sign that Hollywood is a global industry.

 

"It's always been more than national," says Robert Sklar, a professor of cinematic studies at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. "Maybe we're at a point where we can begin to think about the way American cinema has absorbed international personnel, ideas and stories and turned into a kind of world cinema."

 

He notes, though, that except for "La Vie en Rose," the Edith Piaf bio in which Cotillard stars, the roles these European winners play are American through and through: Day-Lewis' California oil man in "There Will Be Blood," Swinton's obsessive New York attorney in "Michael Clayton" and Bardem's chilling (and horrendously coifed) killer in "No Country."

 

DARK TIMES BREED DARK MOVIES

Is there a reason that the material this year was so desperately somber? As Jon Stewart quipped of "Juno," the one lighthearted film of the bunch, "Thank God for teen pregnancy!"

 

But film experts are split on whether it's a reflection of our national psyche, or merely a coincidence.

 

"The material has always been dark," says Richard Walter, screenwriting professor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. "People just forget. This is what drama has been, going back to Homer: blood lust, despair, jealousy." Not that Walter is a huge fan of this year's best picture winner, which he found ponderous. "I call it 'No Movie for Bored Men,'" he says.

 

But Sklar, the NYU professor, thinks it's wrong not to consider the mood of the nation — still at war, and at a crucial crossroads politically — when looking at the tenor of the movies Hollywood is producing. "It's a fascinating question, something that people like me think about all the time," he says. "It's plausible to think about how these films do speak to the current national mood."

 

TRY A LITTLE HUMILITY

This year's awards show may have been short on glitz, drama, excitement — but there were some standout moments, and they were the humble ones. Cotillard, who beat out presumed favorite Julie Christie, seemed so excited she could hardly speak in any language, and almost collapsed in presenter Forest Whitaker's arms. "That shock and joy was infectious," Maltin says.

 

And it was hard not to be moved by the giddy excitement that enveloped Glen Hansard, best song winner for "Falling Slowly" from the very-low-budget "Once." And even harder when his 19-year-old partner, Marketa Irglova, was granted a return visit to make her victory speech, which had been thwarted by the orchestra moments earlier. "Enjoy your moment," Stewart said generously as he ushered her onstage.

 

There were the freely flowing tears of short subject documentary winner Cynthia Wade when she accepted her award for "Freeheld: The Laurel Hester Story," about the struggles of a dying policewoman's quest for benefits for her partner.

 

And there was Bardem's dedication of his award to his mother, sitting in the audience, and the embrace the two shared back at their seats. And the joy of Diablo Cody, original screenplay winner for "Juno," who thanked her family for "loving me just the way I am."

 

OR A LITTLE RESTRAINT?

Then there was Ethan Coen, surely (and refreshingly) the least loquacious of all multiple Oscar winners. When he and brother Joel won the adapted screenplay award, Ethan's entire contribution at the podium was: "We, uh ... thank you very much." (Joel uttered only four sentences himself.)

 

Even better were Ethan's remarks upon winning the best director award.

 

"I don't have a lot to add to what I said earlier," he said.

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Heh, I never imagined I'd get a "I think I just threw up in my mouth a little" tossed my way over something I'd said . . .

And it's never a fun thing when it's not for the laugh of it.

But it just goes to show ya, we're all different in our likes and dislikes.

And halleluiah for that.

 

It's hard not to take stuff like that personally but before I get defensive about it I try to stop and remember, not everyone sees things the way I do.

And I couldn't blame you for why you think the way you do on the subject.

 

- TB

 

 

That's funny, Tim. I know what you mean too because I sometimes get so frustrated with people criticizing an actor/actress that I really like, and I just don't understand why they don't see things the way I do. But it's all subjective, and everyone sees things differently. I am constantly having to remind myself that we all have different likes and dislilkes and no one is right or wrong, we just have different opinions. On that I will concede and agree to disagree. It's just when someone starts trashing someone that I like, and doing it not based on their work or talent, but on a personal level, and for no reason other than that they can, that I really see red. I've actually gotten into some very heated arguments about people making stupid comments and making personal attacks against someone.

 

That said, I have to agree with skye a little bit. I like George Clooney a lot, but after seeing most of his movies, I've come to the conclusion that he is a sort of one-note actor. He uses the same speech patterns, the same cocky head tilt and swagger in almost every character he plays. There's only so many ways that you can play that head tilt that he does. Same thing goes for Matthew McConaughey. I like him, (mainly because he's a gorgeous hunk of man-candy) but his acting is boring because no matter what character he's playing, he's virtually the same in all of his roles. I was watching "Contact" last night, and if I hadn't known that it was a "serious" movie, he may has well have been in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days". Granted, he is funny in the romantic comedies, and he is pretty good in the serious roles, like "A Time to Kill", but when you watch him closely, he may as well be playing the same roles.

 

Now back to the topic. I didn't watch the Oscars, and I haven't seen any of the movies that were nominated, so I can't say that I was surprised or disappointed by the winners. But it was refreshing to see some upsets, like Marion Cotillard's win. Last year's run of Jennifer Hudson, Helen Mirren, and Forest Whitaker wins made all of the award shows that much more boring for me. And the interesting thing was that the four major acting awards went to non-US actors. That was the most shocking thing for me. It would have been nice to see Josh Brolin win for "No Country" but after his behavior at the SAGs, I would even have to think twice about that.

 

And did anyone see the creepy video of Gary Busey interrupting the Ryan Seacrest/Jennifer Garner red carpet interview and basically mauling her?? What was up with that??

 

Mediumfan

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I hope this site is a place for constructive criticism; I think it is from what I have read so far. Yes MediumFan, I did see Gary Busey on the Red Carpet and the look on Jennifer Garner's face was priceless. Never saw her lose her cool, so this was a special first for me... ;)

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Yes, the look on her face was priceless. But that was just weird. Anyway, I didn't mean to go off like that. I've just been on other boards where people just get mean and out of control. I wasn't being critical of anyone else's choices, just voicing my take on the topic that was mentioned.

 

Mediumfan

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That said, I have to agree with skye a little bit. I like George Clooney a lot, but after seeing most of his movies, I've come to the conclusion that he is a sort of one-note actor. He uses the same speech patterns, the same cocky head tilt and swagger in almost every character he plays. There's only so many ways that you can play that head tilt that he does. Same thing goes for Matthew McConaughey. I like him, (mainly because he's a gorgeous hunk of man-candy) but his acting is boring because no matter what character he's playing, he's virtually the same in all of his roles. I was watching "Contact" last night, and if I hadn't known that it was a "serious" movie, he may has well have been in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days". Granted, he is funny in the romantic comedies, and he is pretty good in the serious roles, like "A Time to Kill", but when you watch him closely, he may as well be playing the same roles.

Mediumfan

I agree. I like Matthew McConaughey. He's a cool dude but to me his best films were his early ones. To me A Time To Kill and Reign Of Fire are his best. He's getting pigeonholed and his acting and ability is basically goin' to waste. Hope he comes out of soon.

 

I hate when actors get to where they're in a different film but basically playing themselves. What the fuck is the point? I like actors with great range who change from role to role and you can't even believe that they did the other films before this because the performances are so different.

 

JO

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I think McConaughey is going unfortunately down the same route as Owen Wilson. Hate to say that, but it needs to be said. This ha ha, hee hee crap is wearing thin with me; I would rather wait for it to come out on cable then spend my hard earned dollars to see it. I feel like the movie industry is turning into the CGI capital of the world. I want grittiness back; I want an actor's performance to provoke thought and initiate change. I don't want the normal; I want the real. I want an actor to look at a script, rip it up and then give me his/her take on it. I don't want to run out of the movies saying WOW! amazing; I want to walk out and say hell yeah that was tight.

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I think McConaughey is going unfortunately down the same route as Owen Wilson. Hate to say that, but it needs to be said. This ha ha, hee hee crap is wearing thin with me; I would rather wait for it to come out on cable then spend my hard earned dollars to see it. I feel like the movie industry is turning into the CGI capital of the world. I want grittiness back; I want an actor's performance to provoke thought and initiate change. I don't want the normal; I want the real. I want an actor to look at a script, rip it up and then give me his/her take on it. I don't want to run out of the movies saying WOW! amazing; I want to walk out and say hell yeah that was tight.

Yeah. I know what you mean.

To me my favorite actors to watch have always been:

-Mickey Rourke

-Daniel Day-Lewis

-Sam Rockwell

-Gary Oldman

-Johnny Depp

-Tom Jane

-Christian Bale

-Al Pacino

-Robert De Niro

-Heath Ledger

-Jack Nicholson

-Christopher Walken

 

That's just me but everytime I see them they bring something different. I admit with the older actors they get to where they do films just for the hell of it but their early careers of that of solid gold.

 

JO

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Most underrated for me:

 

Thomas Jane

Mickey Rourke

Harry Dean Stanton

Don Cheadle

Vincent D'Onofrio

Alec Baldwin

Fred Ward

Wes Studi

Terry O'Quinn

Jeffrey Wright

Danny Huston

Ed Harris

Billy Bob Thornton

Gary Oldman

Benicio Del Toro

James Caviezel

Sam Neill

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I have to agree with skye a little bit. I like George Clooney a lot, but after seeing most of his movies, I've come to the conclusion that he is a sort of one-note actor. He uses the same speech patterns, the same cocky head tilt and swagger in almost every character he plays. There's only so many ways that you can play that head tilt that he does. Same thing goes for Matthew McConaughey. I like him, (mainly because he's a gorgeous hunk of man-candy) but his acting is boring because no matter what character he's playing, he's virtually the same in all of his roles. I was watching "Contact" last night, and if I hadn't known that it was a "serious" movie, he may has well have been in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days". Granted, he is funny in the romantic comedies, and he is pretty good in the serious roles, like "A Time to Kill", but when you watch him closely, he may as well be playing the same roles.

 

Mediumfan

 

 

Like I said before, I'm no huge Clooney fan. I did enjoy him on ER but when he made the jump into films I too had an assfull of his little ticks. "The cocky head tilt and swagger" is a great way to describe the very thing that bothered me because it seemed to permeate every performance he gave. Most notably for me, in Peacemaker, and his small turn in The Thin Red Line, but also everything previous. Then he did Three Kings which I thought he was cast well in. I thought he was real good. Then Fail Safe, also well cast. Then he did this little Coen Brother's movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou? And he did something I'd never seen him do . . . He became someone else.

Maybe it took the Coen Bros to raise his game, but from there on in I definitely noticed that the "The cocky head tilt and swagger" were all but gone and stripped away from his performances (at least in the films I've seen). Before the Coen's I'd had all I could take of "The cocky head tilt and swagger". I literally wanted to scream when he showed up at the end of The Thin Red Line and gave us the patented cocky-head-tilt-swagger. It was like I'd just seen this unforgettable film unfold in front of me and in walks George Clooney being Clooney! It was ghastly. So believe me when I say it took me a while to move beyond that. I honestly don't mind so much when an actor makes a living from playing himself (it was the cocky-head-tilt-swagger that made me want to slit my own wrists!). Some of my favorite actors made a LIVING out of playing themselves -

John Wayne, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Clint Eastwood, hell, Bruce Willis, etc . . . Now I don't necessarily put Clooney on a pedestal with those guys, but, I don't begrudge him that he isn't Philip Seymour Hoffman either. Given the right roles in the right films (as long as the cocky-head-tilt-swagger is not in attendance) I enjoy what Clooney DOES bring more often now than not. I've enjoyed practically everything he's done since the Coen Bros jumpstart, with the exception of some Oceans sequels. Bob Weinstein was recently quoted as saying this (and he said this to Jane) - Hanks is Jimmy Stewart, Clooney is Cary Grant, and you (Jane) are Gary Cooper.

That's quite a compliment to all three, but it also has a ring of truth to it. And Weinstein isn't the only one to make the Cary Grant/Clooney comparison.

Now take that with a grain of salt. There is only one Jimmy Stewart, one Cary Grant, and one Gary Cooper, but in the Hollywood of today this statement does have some resonance.

 

Anyway, I'm not out to change anyone's mind on the subject, I'm just talkin'.

 

- TB

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Bob Weinstein[/b] was recently quoted as saying this (and he said this to Jane) - Hanks is Jimmy Stewart, Clooney is Cary Grant, and you (Jane) are Gary Cooper.

That's quite a compliment to all three, but it also has a ring of truth to it. And Weinstein isn't the only one to make the Cary Grant/Clooney comparison.

Now take that with a grain of salt. There is only one Jimmy Stewart, one Cary Grant, and one Gary Cooper, but in the Hollywood of today this statement does have some resonance.

 

Anyway, I'm not out to change anyone's mind on the subject, I'm just talkin'.

 

- TB

That's a good observation. Jane always did remind me of Gary Cooper and I love that guy.

 

JO

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Favorite underrated actors -

 

1. Jeff Bridges

2. David Thewliss

3. Graham Greene

4. Christopher Plummer

5. Colm Feore

5. Paul Bettany

6. Christopher Eccleston

7. Charles Dance

8. F. Murray Abraham

9. Bob Peck

10. James Purefoy

11. Tchéky Karyo

12. Tobey Jones

13. Michael Wincott

14. Mark Addy

15. Danny Huston

 

- TB

 

 

 

 

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That's a good observation. Jane always did remind me of Gary Cooper and I love that guy.

 

JO

 

True; I always thought Jane reminded me of Steve McQueen and Glenn Ford. And I loved all of their performances, good, bad or indifferent.

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As long as we're on the subject of underrated actors I have to put out these two guys I really think have some acting chops:

 

-Joseph Gordon-Levitt - this kid is amazing and so talented.

 

-Ryan Gosling - True, most know who he is but haven't seen his work. His work in Lars And The Real Girl really surprised me. Too bad the film was overlooked. Which reminds me Tim, did you ever see Stay or The Believer after you said you'd check 'em out?

 

JO

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Had to comment on this - In RED

 

Here's an interesting article about the lessons learned from the Oscars:

 

By Jocelyn Noveck, AP:

 

It happens after big football games, and it happens after the Oscars, too: the ritual Monday post-game analysis. And the first question to be pondered this year was why the 80th Academy Awards were a ratings dud.

 

Was it fallout from the recently ended writer's strike? A reflection of a somber and turbulent national mood? Nah. Likely it was just that tried-and-true Oscar rule that when there's a big, popular movie up for prizes, more people tune in. And when there isn't, they don't.

 

This year's best-picture winner, Joel and Ethan Coen's dark and disturbing "No Country for Old Men," was loved by critics, but its box office take, $64 million to date, pales in comparison to a film such as "The Bourne Ultimatum," with $224 million in grosses through October.

 

Box Office should mean NOTHING in this equation. Films judged on their own merit, not box office.

 

According to Nielsen ratings, Sunday's show was watched by 32 million viewers. The previous low was 33 million viewers in 2003, when "Chicago" won best picture. By contrast, in 1998, when "Titanic" won, more than 55 million people tuned in. (ABC noted in a statement that this year's ratings don't account for the increasing number of homes watching the show on digital video recorders.)

 

This statistical analysis should be filed under "who gives a shit how many MILLION people watch the show".

It's an awards show for F sakes.

 

"It's so tied in to the best picture nominees," says Shari Anne Brill, senior vice president of the Carat media buying agency. "The more a movie has mass appeal, the more viewers will tune in."

 

Shocking analysis.

 

So, the first of this year's Oscar lessons: NO BIG MOVIE MEANS NO BIG AUDIENCE. But does that mean the Academy should alter its choices to take such concerns into account? Heaven forbid, says film historian Leonard Maltin.

 

"Should they suddenly start nominating 'Spiderman 3' and 'Alvin and the Chipmunks'"? Maltin quips. "It's an awards ceremony that happens to be a TV show, and not the other way around. People need to remember that. I say, God bless the Academy for maintaining its standards."

 

As Maltin says, the Oscars is a lot more than a TV show. So, ratings aside, here are a couple other lessons to be gleaned from this year's ceremony, besides the crucial one that Javier Bardem really does have nice hair:

 

Thank you Leonard Maltin.

 

"NO BIG MOVIE MEANS NO BIG AUDIENCE" This means nothing to me. I'll take "GREAT" movies over "BIG" movies every time, and with Oscar frontrunners No Country For Old Men, and There Will Be Blood, we definitely had some GREAT. Even if a billion Titanic fans don't agree.

 

HOLLYWOOD IS A GLOBAL FAMILY

Much has been made of the international flavor of the four acting prizes, which went to two Brits (Daniel Day-Lewis and Tilda Swinton, a London-born Scotswoman), a Frenchwoman (Marion Cotillard) and a Spaniard (Bardem). For one film analyst, though, it's a natural development, and a sign that Hollywood is a global industry.

 

"It's always been more than national," says Robert Sklar, a professor of cinematic studies at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. "Maybe we're at a point where we can begin to think about the way American cinema has absorbed international personnel, ideas and stories and turned into a kind of world cinema."

 

He notes, though, that except for "La Vie en Rose," the Edith Piaf bio in which Cotillard stars, the roles these European winners play are American through and through: Day-Lewis' California oil man in "There Will Be Blood," Swinton's obsessive New York attorney in "Michael Clayton" and Bardem's chilling (and horrendously coifed) killer in "No Country."

 

Christ, leave the coif alone! So what if he looked like a reject from a Jose Feliciano look alike contest? That hair shank was genius! And memorable. It was a great touch to add to this guy. And, uh, was Bardem's character American? I may be wrong about this but just because he was IN America doesn't necessarily make him American.

Did I miss something? I felt like he was a man out of place wherever he was. He was a fucking Alien being.

 

DARK TIMES BREED DARK MOVIES

Is there a reason that the material this year was so desperately somber? As Jon Stewart quipped of "Juno," the one lighthearted film of the bunch, "Thank God for teen pregnancy!"

 

But film experts are split on whether it's a reflection of our national psyche, or merely a coincidence.

 

. . . Oh God. Film experts are talking about this?

Some things really don't need to be analyzed.

 

"The material has always been dark," says Richard Walter, screenwriting professor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. "People just forget. This is what drama has been, going back to Homer: blood lust, despair, jealousy." Not that Walter is a huge fan of this year's best picture winner, which he found ponderous. "I call it 'No Movie for Bored Men,'" he says.

 

Well chalk one up for Richard Walter. Maybe he'd have been better warned to stay away if the film had been called "No Movie For Spoon-Fed, Uptight Assholes".

 

But Sklar, the NYU professor, thinks it's wrong not to consider the mood of the nation — still at war, and at a crucial crossroads politically — when looking at the tenor of the movies Hollywood is producing. "It's a fascinating question, something that people like me think about all the time," he says. "It's plausible to think about how these films do speak to the current national mood."

 

Some movies, but certainly not Hollywood as a whole. Let's try and remember that $ turns the wheels, not the pulse of our political climate. Spiderman 3, Transformers, Pirates 3, (this list could go on endlessly), these films are about ENTERTAINING our population so as to escape from such weighty issues. Speaking to the social mood I'm seeing it more like - Forget about real death, poverty, and disease for a few hours and enjoy your popcorn!

Sheesh.

 

TRY A LITTLE HUMILITY

This year's awards show may have been short on glitz, drama, excitement — but there were some standout moments, and they were the humble ones. Cotillard, who beat out presumed favorite Julie Christie, seemed so excited she could hardly speak in any language, and almost collapsed in presenter Forest Whitaker's arms. "That shock and joy was infectious," Maltin says.

 

And it was hard not to be moved by the giddy excitement that enveloped Glen Hansard, best song winner for "Falling Slowly" from the very-low-budget "Once." And even harder when his 19-year-old partner, Marketa Irglova, was granted a return visit to make her victory speech, which had been thwarted by the orchestra moments earlier. "Enjoy your moment," Stewart said generously as he ushered her onstage.

 

There were the freely flowing tears of short subject documentary winner Cynthia Wade when she accepted her award for "Freeheld: The Laurel Hester Story," about the struggles of a dying policewoman's quest for benefits for her partner.

 

And there was Bardem's dedication of his award to his mother, sitting in the audience, and the embrace the two shared back at their seats. And the joy of Diablo Cody, original screenplay winner for "Juno," who thanked her family for "loving me just the way I am."

 

This is why I watch it.

 

OR A LITTLE RESTRAINT?

Then there was Ethan Coen, surely (and refreshingly) the least loquacious of all multiple Oscar winners. When he and brother Joel won the adapted screenplay award, Ethan's entire contribution at the podium was: "We, uh ... thank you very much." (Joel uttered only four sentences himself.)

 

Even better were Ethan's remarks upon winning the best director award.

 

"I don't have a lot to add to what I said earlier," he said.

 

That cracked me up. Still, those dudes are Stuh-Range. Thank God Frances McDormand is around so those guys can lighten up once in a while ;)

She seemed 1000 times more excited then they for their wins, though I didn't take their introverted posture as anything but what it was.

 

- TB

 

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