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Academy Awards preview

So much to catch up on, and it’s only September!
With all the major film festivals that have come and gone, we can now get a closer look at the contenders for next year’s Academy Awards. I’ve got to say, this year looks really good, with loads of my favourite directors…

* …starting with Danny Boyle, who in my opinion is criminally underrated. His new film is Slumdog Millionaire, and it made a real splash at Toronto, winning the festival’s prize and the audience award. It stars Skins‘ Dev Patel (who plays Anwar in the TV series). I’m confident that this film is as good as his previous ones; and top critics, such as Variety or The Hollywood Reporter have given it their higher praise. It’s satisfying indeed! Oh and if you haven’t seen Millions, you’ve missed the magic of Danny Boyle, a truly gifted filmmaker. He’s got the biggest heart you’ll ever see for a director.

* A fixture in the award season, Clint Eastwood has a new movie, Changeling, and it stars The Earth’s Biggest Movie Star (arguably), Angelina Jolie. The trailer has just been released (view here), and while buzz was positive at the Cannes Film Festival, I don’t really know what to make of it. They certainly went full-on dramatic for this trailer… the story sounds compelling enough; and Angelina Jolie’s performance seems to be of the same kind than the insanely good stuff she put out for A Mighty Heart so I’d say she is a pretty safe bet for Best Actress.

* Winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler is also getting a lot of praise, especially for the performance of its lead actor, Mickey Rourke. Todd McCarthy from Variety wrote that “Rourke creates a galvanizing, humorous, deeply moving portrait that instantly takes its place among the great, iconic screen performances” while David Ansen of Newsweek said that “to say this is a great comeback for an actor whose talent was exceeded only by his self-destructiveness is obvious”.  I think he’ll be one of the main contender for the Best Actor statuette..

* …closely followed by Richard Jenkins, whose performance in The Visitor got critics talking, especially because the film got the Grand Prize at the Deauville American Film Festival. Last time I saw him he was being shattering in Six Feet Under; and apparently he’s got a very funny supporting role in the Coen brothers’ latest, Burn After Reading.

The winning team at the Venice film festival: Ethan Coen, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, Joel Coen, Tilda Swinton and George Clooney

* Speaking of which, the latter has been performing really well at the box-office; it’s currently #1 at the American box-office, taking in $19million of dollars for its first weekend. Considering this is a Coen brothers film, it’s somewhat surprising -but never underestimate the power of George Clooney and Brad Pitt, ha. I suspect the latter might be up for Best Supporting Actor (a race that’s overshadowed by… Heath Ledger’s towering performance in The Dark Knight, of course), and so is John Malkovich. The film also stars Academy-Award winner Tilda Swinton and another Academy-Award winner, Frances McDormand. You can view the trailer here. A screenplay nomination for the Coen brothers is to be expected as well; a director’s one maybe less so.

* If I could nominate only one director to be on the nominees list though, then it’d undoubtedly be Christopher Nolan. I reckon it’s time he gets some serious recognition. I know Batman blah blah Hollywood blockbuster but if there’s one person who’s outside of all this, that can challenge stereotypes etc. then it’s him. The Academy understood the genius of Peter Jackson; it’s the exact same case here, so I want Chris to be one of the frontrunners in the Best Director race. Even if it’s a crowded category there, with not only Boyle and Aronofsky and perhaps Eastwood; and the following directors: Ron Howard, Baz Luhrmann, Joe Wright, Gus Van Sant, Sam Mendes; whose films I will discuss later on. Don’t get me wrong, I really LOVE all these directors but Christoper Nolan… At least a Screenplay nod then! And then there better be Best Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction, Sound Editing/Mixing, Visual Effects etc. nominations for the Dark Knight or the entire ceremony will lose its credibility, I swear.

* So yeah, all those heavyweight directors. Well let’s start with Ron Howard. His new film is Frost/Nixon, starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen in the two lead roles. They were already playing these parts ontage, in the play on which the film is based, penned by The Queen‘s screenwriter Peter Morgan. Morgan also wrote this adaptation; so expect a Screenplay nomination, and perhaps a couple of acting nods. The trailer has just been released and looks brillant.

* Baz Luhrmann’s Australia sounds like the kind of epic grand adventure/romance that might get a few awards, but there’s been no reviews or first echoes on it, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I really love the trailer (view here), and I hope it will live up to my expectations (it’s been seven years since Moulin Rouge!).

* Next is upcoming wizz Brit director Joe Wright. His new film, The Soloist, stars Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. Considering that Foxx is an Academy Award winner and that Robert Downey Jr. is really popular right now, ths one could prove to be a real success. Wright has never been personally nominated, but Pride and Prejudice and Atonement did get about a zillion nominations combined together, so it’s safe to assume the Academy won’t ignore him. Plus the trailer has just been released and it looks utterly heartbreaking. Check it out here.

* Aaaaaaaand then, there’s Gus Van Sant, and his triumphant return to “mainstream” cinema, with Milk, the story of Harvey Milk (which I’ve talked about in a previous post), starring Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco.. Yeah that’s an amazing cast. The trailer looks really good as well and I hope it will be a good film, although I’m not too worried because… it’s Gus Van Sant -I trust him loads, of course.

* Looking excruciatingly good (no pun intended) is Doubt, which is directed by someone I don’t know. But it stars Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams; and the trailer is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. Completely intriguing and yet captivating. Watch it here; it’s one of the best trailers I’ve seen in a long time. Also, look at all those names in the crew listing: music by Howard Shore, cinematography by Roger Deakins and editing by Dylan Tichenor. Wow.

* Alas no trailer but a brand new poster (view bigger) for Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road; Roger Deakins is also the cinematographer -and Thomas Newman the composer, of course. Speaking of which, his ninth nomination is almost guaranteed, either for this film or for Wall-E (which has a beautiful score that just can’t be ignored), so let’s hope HE’LL WIN THIS TIME. Erm. Anyway, no word yet on Revolutionary Road, as it hasn’t even been screened for any film festivals, but it’s a huge contender in all the main catagories. And to be honest the perspective of seeing Kate and Leo onscreen together again is uber-exciting!

* Wall-E is also a certified one for Best Animated Feature (duh), perhaps Original Screenplay and also for categories such as Sound Mixing and Editing, and Art Design.

Also among this season’s favourites are Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married; Courtney Hunt’s Frozen River ; Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker (Ralph Fiennes stars in this one; his performance in The Duchess is also getting noticed, and so is Keira Knightley’s). Let’s not forget wild card Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York (trailer has just gone up online –view here). Considering how American Gangster got completely ignored last year, it’s possible that Sir Ridley Scott, with Body of Lies, gets the cold shoulder again. But I really like the trailer (view here) and it’s Leonardo DiCaprio *and* Russell Crowe so… And finally, another film I really, really want to see and have very high expectations of: David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. In addition of having one of the most brillant teasers ever made, it’s based on a F. Scott Fitzgerald short story and… it’s David Fincher, so that’s good enough for me. Told you this year was going to be exciting!

Update: Trailer for Revolutionary Road right here. It looks SO GOOD!!

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It’s an update, please rejoice

Hello folks,
I’m writing this post from the lounge of my new house in Manchester, by the electric fire that’s warming up the room. On the screen is The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers -next Saturday will probably be the Return of the King. It’s still difficult for me to look at the LotR trilogy and recognise all the places -not that I’ve actually been to each of these, but just the general New Zealand feeling is… terrible. No matter how CGI-heavy the films are or how I look at it, it’s unmistakeably and definitely New Zealand; and I’ve felt so homesick for it for the past few months. Lately in the UK there’s been this massive marketing campaign for New Zealand tourism, supported by TV ads that I can’t help seeing everytime I turn on the telly. It turns my stomach around and makes me look away, every single time.

However, having moved out here in Manchester has been terrific, I have to say. I’m really happy it all worked out so well because I didn’t expect much, to be honest. But I love the new experience, it’s utterly different from everything I’ve known before and I’m learning loads everyday. Although I do have my moments missing being a student and carrying the weight of it all; sort of being here all by myself not knowing a single person. I mean, of course working fulltime was always going to be very different from being a student, but I just never thought about it before. That feeling of independence though, it’s almost priceless.

Today was Saturday so I went out to explore the city a little bit. The cathedral is enormous, and located right by the main shopping streets, where there’s all the trendy cafés and bars… This city is so full of contrasts. I also dropped by the art gallery -the contemporary section left me a bit confused, but the classics collection was really good. Nothing compared to the Louvre of course, but maybe my standards are a bit too high, haha. It sure is a great city to live in, Manchester, that, I won’t deny.

It’s been a bit funny lately though because I felt immediately at home, with my everyday routine of going to work etc; and yet I’m a total stranger to this city, to the Mancunian way of life, if there is such a thing. People here are so hip and are very into being stylish or very trendy. I’m completely outside of all of this. I haven’t been asking myself too many questions though, just been enjoying it so far. If I hadn’t been to New Zealand, I think I would have been in a state; but I’m not too scared anymore. And I know that if I’d stayed in Paris, I would have grown impatient and unhappy eventually (“and we’re forever unfulfilled; can’t think why”) -unless I had somthing worth holding onto, and I didn’t, so I left.

“It is an army bred for a single purpose: to destroy the world of men”. Hahahahahaha, aawww, Aragorn. I think The Two Towers might be my favourite of the trilogy.

Next post: going back to my movie ramblings with the lastest happenings in the awards race. What, did you think I was going to keep talking about me, myself and I? Hahahaha.

Edit: ALSO, I MET CHRIS MARTIN. And Jonny Buckland and Will Champion (and Albert Hammond Jr, lol). Report is at the Coldplaying Fans message board, here.

Yeah. Dreams do come true then!

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