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  • Lance Mannion
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Chris The Cop


Sorry you're sick and grumpy. I don't know if you're wrong when you say these films aren't as good as anything in the 70s, but I have no stake in the nominees either. I've heard Melissa Leo was good in her role and I've liked her since Homicide, but I've also heard the police are portrayed in a negative light in that movie and of course, we can't have that.


I've been checking here off and on all day to see your Oscar post. Springsteen's song from The Wrestler shouldn't have been omitted, and Wall-E got stiffed for Best Picture. Boo!


Gee, Lance, I think the obit leveling effect is just exactly right for such an overwhelmingly collaborative art, and I think all the professionals in the hall know and appreciate that.

I loved the way they presented the best actor awards. All those gracious moments.

I suspect Penn won for embodying Milk in a way that drove Milk's old friends from the set in awe-full tears. It was more like channeling than acting.

Feel better!

velvet goldmine

I haven't heard any mention of this today, so maybe I dreamed it, but wasn't it awkward during the Best Actor award when Michael Douglas told Frank Langella that his Nixon made any other interpretation irrelevant (I'm paraphrasing), and Anthony Hopkins was standing, like, five feet away? If I didn't mishear it, how could that have been anything but a deliberate, terribly unkind (and untrue) slam? Anybody else catch that?

Mike Schilling

Also, this eulogizing the nominees by past winners has a bit of the attending one's own funeral feel to it.

Richard Jenkins was in Stepbrothers, Burn After Reading, and The Visitor last year. Now that's an actor's resume.

An odd juxtaposition, given what Jenkins is probably best known for.

They are issue movies and character movies, with lots of dialog and lots of acting. Movie stars are almost always at their most unbearable when they are acting.

Amen to that. Penn as Harvey Milk was horrifying. A hollowed out shell of mannerisms, CGI-like in their near-perfectly sexless, soulless execution.


Kit Stolz

Strongly disagree that Heath Ledger would not have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor if he had not passed away. The claim can't be proven or disproven, but I think the depth of admiration for Ledger's performance is shown by the fact that Jack Nicholson complained about it. Once upon a time, Nicholson played the same character, and impressed with it -- but everyone forgot what he did after they saw Ledger's version of The Joker, which surely will go down in film history as one of the greatest of villains.


Go see "Milk" before you trash it. It was an unexpectedly great film and I was actually expecting to dislike it going in. It's also an oddly happy one, in that one of its main stories is of a 40-year-old who realizes he hasn't done anything worthwhile in his life and who decides to reinvent himself. And in eight years, boy, does he ever...

Ken Houghton

"rock and roll has been all downhill since Buddy Holly died."

Well, you got that right.

I had velvet goldmine's reaction to the Langella/Nixon comment—then again, I still prefer Dan Hedaya's version of The Penultimate Republican President as the only one that made sense. (As with Langella [judging by the stage version], he's only lucid when his senses are impaired.)

The Visitor is the best movie I saw last year, but I missed Wall-E. My wife appears to agree with linkmeister, and she was rooting for "Little Q&A" all night.


Wall-E wuz robbed.

Bob Westal

Chris the Cop -- I recently reviewed "Frozen River" and, unless I'm forgetting something, the portrayal of the police isn't all that negative -- I'd call it realistic. There's a definite implication of possible racial profiling (sorry, but I'd be surprised if it were otherwise in a tiny upstate New York town), but considering this is a movie where the main characters are all on the wrong side of the law and mostly (though far from entirely) sympathetic, Michael O'Keefe's policeman is not portrayed as a villain, but just a guy with a job to do and a certain amount of power to do it. When push he comes to shove, he's anything but mean.


re: Kit Stoltz

If that was directed at me, why yes I did see MILK and yes I am old enough to remember who Harvey really was.

What I saw in MILK was a star vehicle. A [fatuous] straight actor trumpeting his oh so careful reproduction of videotaped clips of American history. No more. No personal committment. No chemistry. No heart. And, naturally, no sex!

Every encounter Penn has with any other man is acted as a cariacature, a rote performance devoid of emotional weight. Certainly devoid of chemistry. Did you feel presence in any of them? Did you believe the character cared for them, or for himself? Did you feel tension, conflict.. anything?

Penn takes no emotional risks here -- does not reach, portrays nothing that could genuinely alarm or even push the comfort level of the audience. Lots of shots of arms-over-shoulders, dark bars and hallways, sexless flirting, smooching, and rolling about are used instead as a copout, standing in for the heat that isnt there.

How did his Harvey move you, compared to Ledger and Gyllenhall's performances in Brokeback Mountain?

Hell, how moved were you by Penn compared to Brolin's Dan White? Now THERE was the emotional committment. You buy every moment of Dan's personal torment, his confusion, rage, all of it.

God knows I saw no humility here. No question in Penns mind that he felt he had every right to portray Harvey without himself having tried to live as a gay man. Instead his film says to us: "after all, gays are 'just like us', right? So why bother?"

So then what was the point of making this movie, exactly, other than to celebrate Penn's ego?

What, as the audience, do we know now about the essential beauty, humanity, the difference of the gay american man's experience that we did not know before seeing this film?

How on earth does that honor Harvey?

This plastic performance gives zero honor to Harvey as a gay man. Offers no knew knowledge to the audience. No real meaning, no insight into what makes up this character's life experience. It evidences no belief that his gay life has any intrinsic interest, offers any new insight into the human condition.

It was something like seeing the MLK story cast in blackface. Offensive, appalling, sad, utterly missing the point of filmmaking in the first place.

Contrast this with the performances Swank delivered in Boys Dont Cry or Huffman in Transamerica. Those actors fled their own comfort zones, living full time in character for at least three months running, much to the discomfiture of their respective spouses. And the payoff was there for the audience to see.

Penn was clearly very proud of his mynah bird performance. And well he should have been, had the character in question been Gollum, and not Harvey Milk.

Chris The Cop

Bob W. - it was meant to be a (obviously not universally funny) joke, a throwaway line, nothing more, nothing less.

Bob Westal

Chris, I actually got that, but only up to a point I guess. Mistook joking for "joking on the square" I guess. Maybe it's me coming from L.A.; police people really are pretty sensitive out here for fairly obvious historical reasons.

Kevin Wolf

Lance, I'm waaayy behind in commenting on any of this, but here goes:

I saw most of the movies nominated and, I gotta tell ya, overall it was a weak year. Despite Zach's comments above, I thought Milk offered the most. I thought Penn was terrific and the movie had a lot to say about things in the wake of the recent Prop 8. The personal, "romantic" portions were indeed less than they might have been but it's frankly a political movie more than anything, and I think it strongly makes its points, which are all too relevant today.

I enjoyed Doubt, despite the actory-ness of it; in fact, Streep's performance is really very funny, I think, without ruining the dramatic idea behind the movie - but it's far from a great movie.

Slumdog, Oscar favorite though it was, left me cold overall. It's clearly not a bad movie and there's things to like within it, but the pattern of game show Q&A followed by flashback, over and over, just made me wish the thing was done already. It may just be personal taste with me on this one; like the fact that I despise the program Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and in this movie it's a major part of the plot.

Benjamin Button is impressive technically, but like many fables (esp. out of Hollywood) it's too cutesy. And the voice over? Why add all the "sage comments about Life" when the plot is surely a clear enough signal what the film is all about? David Fincher's Zodiac was one of last year's best pictures, yet he gets 13 noms this year for this silliness.

And I agree about Frost/Nixon. I mean, Ron Howard. I ask you. Langella may not have been the best Nixon ever but I liked his ability to put over what a canny guy Nixon was, even as he was fading into history as "the president who resigned." Aside from that, there's no there there.

Ledger's win was a given. It's the only truly good thing in the movie. In case you can't tell, no, I'm not a fan of Dark Knight. I didn't hate it, but by the end I thought, Do I really need this?

I liked The Wrestler and I like Mickey Rourke in it. Nothing great story-wise (of course he's a fuck up and he's estranged from his daughter and all the usual underdog drama stuff) but Rourke absolutely throws himself (literally) into the role and the wrestling milieu is perfectly, grungily recreated.

I look forward to seeing WALL-E and The Visitor. I've seen Gran Torino (yawn) and will likely skip Changeling entirely. I really must do a post on recent movies. (Or any post at all.)

Re the Oscar telecast itself, I was asleep in bed by 9:30. Never saw a minute of it.

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