Saturday, January 31, 2009

Top 25 Most Anticipated 2009 Releases: Part One [25-10]

I'm just taking a break from the filmic year of 2008, having been both bemused and nonplussed by most of it, and nearly all of those films we're supposed to love. Therefore, this is a kind of rally of positivity for 2009's lineup, which features Atom Egoyan, Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Polley, and thus should be fabulous. Here is the first part of my most anticipated 2009 films:

25. Untitled James L. Brooks Film
Director: James L. Brooks
Starring: Reese Witherspoon
Release Date: December

Reese Witherspoon doing a Brooks film? My idea of heaven. There's no telling whether this will be a Broadcast News or a Spanglish, but the prospect of La Witherspoon with a good comic role is mouth-watering.


Whatever Works
Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson
Release Date: TBA

Woody Allen films may have lost their gloss but you've got to think that he has another masterpiece in him somewhere. It'll be interesting to see if his penchant for getting Actresses nominated at Oscar extends to Evan Rachel Wood.


A Woman of No Importance
Director: Bruce Beresford
Starring: Annette Bening, Sienna Miller, Sean Bean
Release Date: TBA
Myriad Pictures

It sounds like I'm counting down 2009's Leading Actress hopefuls. Beresford has similarly got a good record in that regard (3 noms/1 win), and has directed a Best Picture winner, after all. It's a great role for Bening, and the film is an adaptation of an Oscar Wilde play. Done well, it could be great.


22. Agora
Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Starring: Rachel Weisz
Release Date: December

Rachel Weisz as a philosopher in Ancient Egypt who falls in love with a slave. Very intriguing. Amenabar is a very capable Director, but I do wonder how on earth they're going to market it. The costumes should be luscious.


21. All Good Things
Director: Andrew Jarecki
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Frank Langella
Release Date: July
The Weinstein Co.

A detective begins to unravel a missing-persons case that looks to spell doom -- and quite possibly death -- for the heir to a New York real estate dynasty. Ooooh! Sounds juicy. Good cast too, and Jarecki was oscar-nominated for Capturing the Friedmans.

Certified Copy
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Starring: Juliette Binoche, William Shimell
Release Date: TBA

Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry is one of my favourite films, and Juliette Binoche could do with a good role. She plays the object of a writer's affection and the film seems like a rather tentative romance.


19. Where the Wild Things Are
Director: Spike Jonze
Starring: Catherine Keener, Benicio Del Toro, Forest Whitaker, Michelle Williams
Release Date: October
Warner Bros

A completely legendary book gets the filmic treatment by a Director that does not work enough. Speaking of which, his ex-wife needs to get to work. We're running out of filmmakers to rely on these days.

Anyway, cute animals, Catherine Keener. Sold.


18. Leaves of Grass
Director: Tim Blake Nelson
Starring: Edward Norton, Susan Sarandon, Richard Dreyfuss
Release Date: TBA

The "leaves of grass" are indeed drugs. Edward Norton plays twins. Richard Dreyfuss is the local drug lord. Tim Blake Nelson's O was incredibly underrated. Crazy fun.


The Road
Director: John Hillcoat
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron
Release Date: TBA
Dimension, The Weinstein Co.

It's tiresome waiting for this film to finally open, but the anticipation is somehow still there. I think it's those dreamy stills + the supposed pedigree of McCarthy's book.


16. Shutter Island/Ashecliffe
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leo Di Caprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Max Von Sydow, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley
Release Date: October

Does anyone know which of these is the actual title? If they're still deciding then surely Shutter Island is the most interesting and dramatic? But whatever. A U.S. marshall (Di Caprio) searching for an insane escaped murderess (Emily Mortimer/Michelle Williams). A packed cast.

15. Forgiveness
Director: Todd Solondz
Starring: Shirley Henderson, Ally Sheedy, Allison Janney, Charlotte Rampling, Paris Hilton (!)
Release Date: TBA

Talk about Welcome to the Doll House. Paris Hilton in a film with Charlotte Rampling. Fabulously mental. I like Solondz.


Public Enemies
Director: Michael Mann
Starring: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Billy Crudup
Release: July

Michael Mann and Johnny Depp do gangster. If this wasn't July I'd definitely pencil Depp in for the Oscars. Marion Cotillard trying to prove she's not a one-hit wonder. Christian Bale getting out of that suit. Billy Crudup's still around. Who knew?


13. Shanghai
Director: Mikael Hafstrom
Starring John Cusack, Li Gong, Ken Watanbe, Rinko Kikuchi
Release Date: September
The Weinstein Co.

I didn't like 1408, which teamed Hafstrom and Cusack, but this looks rather gorgeous. A '40s period piece which revolves around an American expat who returns to Shanghai in the months before Pearl Harbour. The asian contingent looks promising.


Inglorious Basterds
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger
Release Date: August

Tarantino can't put a foot wrong in my eyes. Brad Pitt must have been doing something good with that moustache (that isn't a Brangelina sex comment by the way).


11. Jennifer’s Body
Director: Karyn Kusama
Starring: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried
Written by Diablo Cody
Release Date: September
20th Century Fox

Diablo Cody's second screenplay and the director of the very good Girlfight in 2000. A newly possessed cheerleader turns into a killer who specializes in offing her male classmates. Sounds quite feminist, and definitely entertaining.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

SAG Predictions & Reaction


I got 4/5 in my predictions.

Slumdog walked away with one of Acting's highest honours (I'll refrain), Sean Penn won for being more awardable than Mickey Rourke (interesting battle, though), and Ledger et Winslet repeated their fraudulent Globe wins. Thankfully, Meryl Streep won the Actress prize, and typically provided the most entertaining speech of the night.

Does this change anything? Not much. As soon as BAFTA chime in I'll review all the races and make some final predix. Until then, I'll leave you with some totally cringeworthy red carpet footage. Is it any wonder that Brangelina blanked E! at the Globes after this shambolic interview, featuring some total gossip girl-style obsession and certainly no mention of Changeling at all?

Here were my predictions:-

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

I generally find that the choices by the Actor's Guild are more conservative, so I expect Penn to win, although it's still all to play for on Feb 22.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Why not? Halle Berry won this in 2001 (and went on to strike gold with Oscar) when the Actress category didn't feature an obvious winner. Winslet has the Oscar already but this could go to anyone.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

This is even more nailed on than the Globes.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

It would be funny if Viola Davis won (which she very well could) -- if only to see the media dramatise a Winslet loss and suggest she's not gonna get the Golden Guy after all.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

It's enough of an ensemble to get away with winning this award. Doubt has a shot because of the 4 Oscar nominations but, well, you can't argue with momentum.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Post-Nomination Ray of Light Realisation

*and I feeeeeeeel....*

I don't have to see Gran Torino :-)

Oscar Nominations & Reaction

The Oscar Nominations have been announced and they are..... worse than I expected. No Dark Knight or Wall-E. The Academy fell for the December pictures hook, line and sinker. No Sally Hawkins, as I feared. Kate Winslet nominated in the right category but that all but kills any possibility for a surprise on Oscar night. Argh!

My overall prediction score was 66/97 (67%). The nominations are:-

Performance by an actor in a leading role

* Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor” (Overture Films)
* Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon” (Universal)
* Sean Penn in “Milk” (Focus Features)
* Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
* Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)

Prediction Score: 4/5, but I'm pleased.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

* Josh Brolin in “Milk” (Focus Features)
* Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder” (DreamWorks, Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
* Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt” (Miramax)
* Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.)
* Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage)

Prediction Score: 4/5 - Where the hell did Michael Shannon come from?

Performance by an actress in a leading role

* Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married” (Sony Pictures Classics)
* Angelina Jolie in “Changeling” (Universal)
* Melissa Leo in “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics)
* Meryl Streep in “Doubt” (Miramax)
* Kate Winslet in “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company)

Prediction Score: 3/5 - Winslet for the wrong film. Sally.. *sob*

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

* Amy Adams in “Doubt” (Miramax)
* Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (The Weinstein Company)
* Viola Davis in “Doubt” (Miramax)
* Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
* Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)

Prediction Score: 4/5 - For a moment I didn't realise who was snubbed.

Best animated feature film of the year

* “Bolt” (Walt Disney), Chris Williams and Byron Howard
* “Kung Fu Panda” (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount), John Stevenson and Mark Osborne
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Andrew Stanton

Prediction Score: 2/3 - Looks like I'm gonna have to see Bolt.

Achievement in art direction

* “Changeling” (Universal), Art Direction: James J. Murakami, Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt, Set Decoration: Victor J. Zolfo
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Nathan Crowley, Set Decoration: Peter Lando
* “The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Art Direction: Michael Carlin, Set Decoration: Rebecca Alleway
* “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Art Direction: Kristi Zea, Set Decoration: Debra Schutt

Prediction Score: 3/5

Achievement in cinematography

* “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

Prediction Score: 2/5

Achievement in costume design

* “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” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Albert Wolsky

Prediction Score: 3/5

Achievement in directing

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Fincher
* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Ron Howard
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Gus Van Sant
* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Stephen Daldry
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Danny Boyle

Prediction Score: 4/5

Best documentary feature

* “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 Deal

Prediction Score: 2/5

Best documentary short subject

* “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

Achievement in film editing

* “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

Prediction Score: 4/5

Best foreign language film of the year

* “The Baader Meinhof Complex” A Constantin Film Production, Germany
* “The Class” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Haut et Court Production, France
* “Departures” (Regent Releasing), A Departures Film Partners Production, Japan
* “Revanche” (Janus Films), A Prisma Film/Fernseh Production, Austria
* “Waltz with Bashir” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Bridgit Folman Film Gang Production, Israel

Prediction Score: 4/5

Achievement in makeup

* “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

Prediction Score: 2/3

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

* “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

Prediction Score: 3/5

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

* “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

Prediction Score: 3/3 - Where the hell is The Wrestler?

Best motion picture of the year

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), A Kennedy/Marshall Production, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), A Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment and Working Title Production,Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Eric Fellner, Producers
* “Milk” (Focus Features), A Groundswell and Jinks/Cohen Company Production, Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, Producers
* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), A Mirage Enterprises and Neunte Babelsberg Film GmbH Production, Nominees to be determined
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A Celador Films Production,Christian Colson, Producer

Prediction Score: 3/5. Meh.

Best animated short film

* “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

Best live action short film

* “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

Achievement in sound editing

* “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

Prediction Score: 3/5 - Wanted. Interesting...

Achievement in sound mixing

* “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

Prediction Score: 3/5

Achievement in visual effects

* “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

Prediction Score: 3/3

Adapted screenplay

* “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

Prediction Score: 5/5

Original screenplay

* “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

Prediction Score: 2/5

Hottest Track: Empire of the Sun - Walking on a Dream

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Oh How I'll Miss The Nominations After Tomorrow

You have to wonder whether members of awards bodies have time at Christmas and New Year to do anything else but tick boxes? Yet more nominations have been disclosed, by the BRITS (British equivalent of the Grammys) and the Razzies, which are usually quite fun.


Girls Aloud, Kings of Leon, M.I.A, MGMT and Beck = Gorgeous

Coldplay, Katy Perry, Radiohead (sorry Thom but In Rainbows wasn't amazing), and Scouting For Girls = Wrong


The Happening, The Hottie and the Nottie, Jessica Alba = Right On

Verne Troyer = Not On. Don't pick on anyone smaller than you.

Early Hawks Blogathon: Scarface (1932)

This post is part of the Early Howard Hawks Blogathon over at Only the Cinema. Enjoy and check out the interesting posts there.

Firstly I'm gonna list the Howard Hawks films that I have seen, and then I'm gonna start discussing Scarface, which I caught the other day. Incidentally, I like all of these films, although I'd say that they get worse throughout the chronological list:-

Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
His Girl Friday (1940)
To Have and Have Not (1944)
I Was a Male War Bride (1949)
Monkey Business (1952)

It's incredibly poignant that Scarface should end with a closeup of the slogan "The World Is Yours", a statement displayed on the lit sign of a travel company. Howard Hawks' 1932 original tells the story of a man who thought the world was his, Tony Camonte, played here by Paul Muni and later most famously by Al Pacino. It's clear throughout the 90-minute wave of death and corruption that Tony has an obsession with obtaining more and more power, respect, authority -- he seems most proud of his "possessions" (guns, women, bulletproof vehicles, steel window covers), which collectively encourage him to buy into his own invincible aura. The aforementioned slogan takes pride of place in view of Tony's apartment and, as far as he's concerned, he owns that as well. In fact, he owns the world. Hence the slogan.

But this isn't the only reason why the slogan emerges as one of the most resonant features of Scarface, a film that Howard Hawks frames with messages in order to hammer a point home about crime and social problems in post-depression era America. It begins with a preface about these problems, and as such proceeds to address them, but the lingering directness and clear purpose of its style did surprise me as the Hawks films that I've seen feel a lot freer in theme. The screwball comedy was to an extent formulaic but I suppose a lot easier to manage, given the responsibility that Scarface seems to pose as both a spectacle and a statement. Tying in with that idea is the IMDB listing of The Shame of a Nation as an alternatively used title for the film, which brazenly wraps both the drama and the message into one.

The plot itself is very repetitive; that familiar pattern of brotherhood, betrayal, and death rearing its ugly head on more than one occasion, much like we've come to expect from imitations such as The Godfather etc. Scarface isn't as together, grand, or epic in scope as Coppola's film (this was 1932, so really, how could it be?) b
ut the legacy it has created is plain for all to see. Having said that (and in part because of such imitations) it often feels a little too predictable and melodramatic, and the absence of sound for large pockets does hurt the effect of Scarface and make its violent sequences feel more cheeky than pulpy. Still, the stolid rules about blood etc. on screen makes the film often feel more visually enthralling in that it forces Hawks to think of new ways to capture death. Much to do with light and shade (like silent films), but you can't really beat a good silhouette murder, can you? There's just something wonderfully gothic and clever about watching someone's shadow disappear.

Amongst all the burly men vying for control Tony has a couple of women to consider. His mother, whom we actually don't see a lot of (and he doesn't seem that bothered about her, honestly), his 18 year-old sister Cesca, whom he is fiercely protective of, and love interest Poppy, who begins the film romantically involved with Tony's boss but switches allegiances when it's clear who the top dog is going to be. By far the most interesting of these relationships is his love for Cesca, which extends to turfing her out of every social event she dares to attend, giving
her money to stay away from men, and murdering those men that she does take a fancy to. Although never overtly addressed (again, this is 1932) there's a hint of incestuousness on the part of Tony, as he seems to revere her and keep her to himself in a way that perhaps surpasses brotherly love. In one heated scene she accuses him of not treating her like a sister and "more like a...". If we're supposed to fill in the blank, my vote goes to "mistress", or something of that ilk. It feels it to me anyway. But regardless of their tempestuous relationship a scene towards the end demonstrates their affection for each other, and reminded me a lot of Bonnie and Clyde.

Hawks wants a little too desperately at times for us (or 30's America) to see the world's failures. Sometimes it's distracting but largely it's more than a preface and a closing remark. We're encouraged to see the world through Tony's eyes; expansive, a commodity, rather than looking on at his actions and shaking our heads in disapproval. If Scarface was all about the message then Muni's leading man wouldn't feel so close-to-the-heart and irretrievable. He wants the world to do what Tony can't -- wake up before it's past the point of no return.

Predicted Nomination Totals

12 Nominations
Slumdog Millionaire

11 Nominations
The Dark Knight

10 Nominations
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

7 Nominations

5 Nominations

4 Nominations
The Wrestler

3 Nominations
Iron Man
Revolutionary Road

2 Nominations
Rachel Getting Married
The Reader
Tropic Thunder
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Waltz With Bashir

1 Nomination
The Duchess
Gran Torino
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Kung Fu Panda
Quantum of Solace
The Visitor

**Final** Oscar Predictions Part 3: The Big Six


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire

Alternate: Milk

Three of the biggest precursor bodies for this category, the PGA, DGA and ACE, all went for Button, Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Slumdog, and Milk. So naturally I'm going against that.

Call me crazy but I think Wall-E may have managed to surpass the Animated Feature tag this year. The Incredibles came pretty close in 2004, but it didn't have the support that Wall-E has, or the critics awards that mark it as a viable candidate.


Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard - Frost/Nixon
Christopher Nolan - The Dark Knight
Gus Van Sant - Milk

Alternate: Andrew Stanton - Wall-E

The favourite five. I may be brave enough to pick the lil' robot but I daren't go for Stanton. Even though he totally deserves it.

Actress in a Leading Role

Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married
Sally Hawkins - Happy-Go-Lucky
Angelina Jolie - Changeling
Meryl Streep - Doubt
Kate Winslet - Revolutionary Road

Alternate: Melissa Leo - Frozen River

Even after the Globe win I'm terrified that Sally Hawkins is going to lose out here. Missing SAG and BFCA is really bad, but this category has been pretty competitive and still doesn't have a frontrunner. Well, maybe Winslet, but if she wins in Supporting for The Reader then who knows, right? Still, a Winslet/Reader inclusion here is very possible and would certainly kill off the competition. Melissa Leo will get a lot of votes but enough? We'll see.

Actor in a Leading Role

Clint Eastwood - Gran Torino
Richard Jenkins - The Visitor
Frank Langella - Frost Nixon
Sean Penn - Milk
Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler

Alternate: Brad Pitt - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Brad Pitt feels even more of a "movie star" now than he did a decade ago, and so even with Globe and SAG it isn't a done deal. It might not matter but I think an Eastwood inclusion here is likely and if it's tight I'd always go with the veteran performers in this category. Think of the Emile Hirsch/Ryan Gosling snubs last year. I know Brad is in his forties now but the other five are damn OLD.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams - Doubt
Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis - Doubt
Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler
Kate Winslet - The Reader

Alternate: Taraji P. Henson - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

There seems to be a general indifference towards Amy Adams' performance in Doubt, but she got the Globe, SAG, and BAFTA nominations, and this is the acting category most likely to feature two performers from the same film. I'd say that she's the most shakiest though, since Marisa Tomei's late critics surge (coupled with good feeling for the film) makes her seem pretty much in.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Josh Brolin - Milk
Robert Downey Jnr - Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
Dev Patel - Slumdog Millionaire

Alternate: Eddie Marsan - Happy-Go-Lucky

This looks dead-on to me. Unless Dev Patel splits his votes between lead and supporting and ends up with nothing. But for that to happen would take somebody else to emerge from a sparse, precursor-deprived pack of men, headed (I suspect) by the volatile Eddy Marsan.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

**Final** Oscar Predictions Part 2: Screenplays, Animated etc.

Original Screenplay

Rachel Getting Married
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
The Wrestler

Alternate: The Visitor

If we're going on popularity of the films this seems like the five. Happy Go Lucky definitely has fans but isn't strong enough to predict above others that missed a WGA nomination.

Adapted Screenplay

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Alternate: Revolutionary Road

I'm really confident about these five since the weakest one of these, The Reader, seems to be trundling along nicely and its major competition, Revolutionary Road, doesn't. The Dark Knight could make it but I maybe think this is the only place where it can't shrug off comic book bias.

Animated Feature

Kung Fu Panda
Waltz With Bashir

Alternate: Bolt

Because of how people view animated films I think that Waltz With Bashir is in a bit of a shaky position. It does have an excellent critical showing though, so I'll leave it. Interestingly, I think if it isn't nominated here it's definitely going to win the Foreign award, whereas if it's nominated for both it could lose out altogether.

Foreign Film

The Baader-Meinhof Complex - Germany
The Class - France
Everlasting Moments - Sweden
Revanche - Austria
Waltz With Bashir - Israel

Alternate: Canada - Necessities of Life

I'd say Israel and Austria are strongest, and they're a fan of the Swedish director's work so that has to bode well for his entry. France have an unprecedented history with this category so I'm picking them, even though the film isn't very traditional. As for the final spot, The Baader Meinhof Complex is harsh -- both visually and thematically -- but it's largely good, and I haven't a clue about the others.

Documentary Feature

Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh
Man on Wire
Pray the Devil Back to Hell
Standard Operating Procedure
Trouble the Water

Alternate: Encounters at the End of the World

Well Man on Wire is the only lock, but Trouble the Water is about Hurricane Katrina, Standard Operating Procedure is about the mistreatment of suspected terrorists (appropriate since the new president wants to get rid of the Guantanamo Bay facility), Blessed is about the holocaust, and Pray the Devil is about Liberian peace with added feminist oomph. Major, major bait at play here.

The legendary Werner Herzog is my alternate but his doc is much less Oscary than most of the shortlist.

**Final** Oscar Predictions Part 1: Techs & Music

Alright, here we go. I haven't really been keeping up with the techs during awards season so I've had to do same major research. Still, you can do research until you're blue in the face. You never really know.

Here are my picks:-

Art Direction

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire

Alternate: The Reader

It seems wrong to include something that was shut out of the Art Directors' guild nominations, however much I want to believe that the gorgeous work in Australia will grab one of these spots. Slumdog was at its ultimate peak when ballots went out and so I expect it to pick up tech nominations like this one. The Reader seems like a rather traditional and obvious pick for this category but it didn't get ADG either so I'm not gonna include it.

Costume Design

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Duchess
Revolutionary Road
Slumdog Millionaire

Alternate: Australia

Similarly, these all featured in the Costume Designers Guild nominations. Changeling's make up is one of the few things I admired about it. The Duchess draws a lot of attention to its costumes, as one would expect of a British costume drama. All five of these are either rich, clean, or colourful. Australia is all three, but it didn't get the CDG, so hmph.

Make Up

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Tropic Thunder

Alternate: Synechdoche, New York

Of the seven contenders for this award you'd have to say Benjamin Button is the obvious pick for the nomination and win, given the major age gimmick. The Reader also has this, but isn't particularly special, and there isn't a great deal of old Kate in the film. Hellboy is a definite option but I fancy that it might be ousted in the fantasy stakes by Heath's joker-face in The Dark Knight. And I've gone for Tropic Thunder in the final spot, because of the nominations for Click and Norbit in recent years. I'm not necessarily saying that the makeup department has a habit of nominating bad films, I'm referring to the fat-suit pattern, which could mean Tom Cruise's cameo is popular with them. I haven't seen much evidence of Synechdoche, but I fancy that of all the shortlisted films this one will be the least watched, though I do have it as an alternate.


The Dark Knight
Revolutionary Road
Slumdog Millionaire

Alternate: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Sometimes the cinematographers get wacky and fun. Last year was a boring, uniform example of people agreeing all awards season, but apart from The Dark Knight and the revered Slumdog nothing seems particularly assured this year. I'd expect Roger Deakins to make it for at least one of his two efforts for The Reader (shared with Chris Menges) and Revolutionary Road, and I fancy the latter is a bit more flash. I've gone for Australia, because it is so in-your-face (rather like Phantom of the Opera and The Illusionist were) that it's sure to have fans -- even if support for the film itself is distinctly lacking. Defiance is here because Edward Zwick films tend to pick up something somewhere, and although this film doesn't have the possibility of an Acting nomination as Blood Diamond and The Last Samurai did, it's a recent release that made NBR.

Film Editing

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire

Alternate: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Editing historically matches Picture, which would seem to be backed up this year by the fact that the ACE noms match the PGA/DGA/Favourite Five for the main award. But as I'm not going for that five, I'm sticking Defiance in there (co-incidentally in an act of defiance) for similar reasons to the Cinematography prediction.

Visual Effects

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Iron Man

Alternate: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Since The Dark Knight appears to have transcended the label of summer blockbuster, Iron Man fills that void pretty well, especially since it got similarly impressive reviews. It also has better effects, if you ask me. But anyway yeah... there's a 15-film shortlist but these three look good.

Sound Mixing

The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Slumdog Millionaire

Alternate: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

A mixture of war/action and uplifting sentiment.

Sound Editing

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Quantum of Solace

Alternate: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

The loudest, plus Wall-E. Animated films do well here.

Original Score

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Slumdog Millionaire

Alternate: Milk

John Williams is god to them. The rest are great.

Original Song

Bolt - "I Thought I Lost You"
Slumdog Millionaire - "Jaiho"
Slumdog Millionaire - "O Saya
"Wall-E - "Down to Earth
"The Wrestler - "The Wrestler"

Alternate: Gran Torino - "Gran Torino"

The usual suspects plus another bone for the dog.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Treading On Thin Ice

Frozen River
Directed by Courtney Hunt
Starring: Melissa Leo, Misty Upham, Michael O'Keefe, Charlie McDermott
Grade: C+

As well as being a picturesque and predictably frosty setting for Courtney Hunt's debut project Frozen River is also its title, presumably chosen for its simplicity and metaphoric value (fragility, danger, an ever-changing state). It isn't a far-reaching metaphor, since Melissa Leo's Ray Eddy teeters tentatively on the brink of both poverty and crime before plunging herself fearlessly into the latter. As a working-class American mother-of-two living near the border between New York and Quebec, Ray is dirt-poor and thoroughly miserable, the film opening with a shot of her tear-streaked face despairing over just where the money to pay the next bill is gonna come from. Melissa Leo (I'll get this out of the way) is very good, fulfilling most of what's asked of her muddled character valiantly, effective even in the vast amount of close-ups she's subjected to and amidst serious character inconsistencies.

Ray is drawn into criminal activity through Lila (Misty Upham), a Mohawk woman in need of a car to ferry immigrants from Canada to the U.S. Their relationship, as it turns out, becomes the vessel for the film's insightful knowledge of working-class social and racial attitude (as well as Ray's character arc) which is undoubtedly the most valuable part of Frozen River. Their initial encounters lack trust and are packed with racial tension (mostly stemming from Ray herself) and the awkward silences between them are often filled with the two women nervous, unsure, introspectively judging each other. They are linked at first by a flimsy desire to do the "best" for their kids (Lila has a baby boy she does not have access to), but as the women become first partners, and finally friends, it's clear that their predicaments are inextricably tied.

Frozen River is so effective in its early stages because of Hunt's accurate awareness of this kind of life and its enveloping stranglehold, leading to the re-percussions of crime and punishment. Ray isn't necessarily stupid, as she very well could have been written, but nor does she show any real wisdom or demonstration of what her life has taught her so far. Like many people with her troubles she lives in a dolorous world, and as such is ignorant and quite incapable of stepping back and realising why things aren't getting any better. Her long-term goal is to get a house in a very tacky-looking estate resembling something you'd see an advert for on daytime TV, and she's evidently still paying off an exgravagant widescreen television she doesn't really need -- especially when she can't even afford to feed her children properly. This woman's approach towards family and money feels incredibly honest, and as such the poverty-stricken setting doesn't seem the cliche it often can be in films of this nature.

It's all predominantly about the shaping of Ray's character and is thankfully without much revelation and self-reflection, despite the use of a dramatic plot device which threatens to do so and altogether cheapens Frozen River substantially. I won't go into too much detail, but it's a biblical "Is the baby dead?" revelation we saw similarly, and fairly recently, in last year's Eastern Promises. As well as being a pretty lame way of chronicling Ray's disregard for immigrants or the reason why they want to emigrate in the first place, it's also redundant, in that it bizarrely gets ignored for the rest of the film, or at least doesn't effect anything Ray does after that. It could be intentional; as in her character is so immersed in her own circumstance that even such a mammoth blatantly symbolic event cannot deter her from being a criminal for one last night, but even so, why bother in the first place?

Hunt does a great job of balancing the selfishness and selflessness of Ray for long periods of this film but finally loses it in a quite ridiculous finale that appears to want to establish her as a traditional heroine despite going to great lengths to distance her from 'familiar repressed woman bites back' sensationalism, à la Charlize Theron in North Country. It's brave resting your entire film on one person, but Frozen River is finally shown up for being selfish in its portrayal of a woman that admirably never once purports to be a Florence Nightingale or Joan of Arc but regrettably becomes one anyway.

BAFTA: Slumming It

And so it seems BAFTA, our English filmic representative, has even lost its snobbish ability to rise above media frenzy and commercialism in their nominations, which were revealed this morning. Aside from the Animated Feature category they've released a bland, middle-of-the-road nominees list, which sadly includes Dev Patel. I say "sadly" both because this performance is clearly nowhere near special, or even effective, and because I really like the guy, who is sure to now receive a ton of semi-justified backlash. Still, there's hope in the fact that Keira Knightley got Globe recognition and missed out with SAG and BAFTA, only to grab a coveted spot in the Oscar final five. Let's hope Sally Hawkins similarly succeeds.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Before Cary and Katharine

Later on this week I'll be taking part in Only the Cinema's Early Hawks Blogathon, which wants contributions about Howard Hawks' work prior to his 1938 masterpiece Bringing Up Baby. I must admit that I haven't seen any of his films pre-'38, but I've managed to get a hold of Scarface and intend to watch it this week. If you haven't heard about it please check it out. The event lasts two weeks so there's plenty of time to get a post together.

Golden Globe Reaction

The first time I was able to watch the Globes live, and it was a great night. Loving a lot of the winners, the fashion was great (Kyra Sedgwick, Frieda Pinto, Laura Linney, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway), and the speeches were even better. Here are the winners and my reaction:-

Best Picture, Drama: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Director:
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Original Score: A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millonaire

Reaction: Not since Return of the King in 2003 (a flimsy filmic year in itself) has a flick seemed so nailed on for Best Picture this early on. Unless something drastic happens (i.e. the heavens cave in, Dev Patel murders somebody, or there's major Bush-style vote-rigging) then Slumdog is on its way to huge success -- both in terms of awardage and box-office. Its wins for Screenplay and Score highlight that it probably won by a landslide here, if only since it managed to deprive Clint Eastwood of a Globe for the first time in god knows how long.

Best Picture, Comedy Musical: Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best Actor, Musical/Comedy: Colin Farrell, In Bruges
Best Actress, Musical/Comedy: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky

Reaction: Yeeehaa! Two of my favourite performances this year rewarded. Colin and Sally dearly deserve these Globes and gave honest (if a little profound) speeches that showed both were overjoyed. Although Colin was understandably a little more surprised at the win. Vicky Cristina Barcelona probably edged the others since it is a Woody Allen film after all. I don't love the film but it's a lot better than anything else he's done lately, excepting Match Point.

Best Actor, Drama: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Reaction: The Globes were perhaps more unashamedly media-orientated than ever last night, and these wins probably demonstrate that most, but I'm pretty sure there aren't an army of people complaining at Rourke and Ledger getting their due. It seems pretty apparent that Ledger's going all the way to Oscar; completely deserving (if a Leading performance in my book) and rather perverse in the sense that the role is so edgy, sinister, and downright scary that his clips feel almost like an anti-sentiment. Rourke, on the other hand, needed this Globe to resurrect a horn-locked battle with Sean Penn that was threatening to turn into a milk-stained whitewash. Still, I'm doubtful about whether Rourke can claim the Actor's vote given his dodgy history, and the fact that he isn't in a biopic.

Best Actress, Drama: Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
Best Supporting Actress:
Kate Winslet, The Reader

Reaction: Well doesn't this blow everything wide open? I know this is the Hollywood Foreign Press, not the academy, but the level of support for Kate Winslet in winning both of her categories suggests that these performances are held in extremely high regard. I was contemplating even a double-snub for Winslet just a couple of weeks ago. Now, could it be that she becomes the only person to win two Acting Oscars in the same night? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think it's happened before.

If anything, it's a major sanctioning of Winslet as Supporting in The Reader, which I'd argue makes it very unlikely that she'll split many votes category-wise. Hathaway/Hawkins/Jolie/Streep/Winslet looks a good bet for Oscar at the moment, despite Melissa Leo's SAG nom. Whoever wins the SAG will probably be favourite for the Golden Guy, but if it isn't Winslet then maybe anyone's got a shot?

Best Foreign Language Film: Waltz With Bashir
Best Animated Feature:
Best Original Song:
Bruce Springsteen, The Wrestler

Reaction: Probably the easiest ones to predict. Wall-E and Bruce Springsteen cannot be derailed. Waltz With Bashir will most likely make the Oscar shortlist (although they're notorious for snubbing critical faves lately) but has it got enough overall appeal to win? I'm dubious.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Golden Globe Predictions

Best Motion Picture - Drama
Slumdog Millionaire

Even though Rev Road is the most media-friendly option this just has so much support.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married

I'm beginning to think she's going to win Globe and SAG and lose the Oscar. It could end up being a major free-for-all for the golden guy. I'm actually torn between who I want to win this Globe. I've only seen Jolie and Scott-Thomas and wasn't fussed about either. Meryl doesn't need another one but I can't help remembering the wonderful speech she gave the other year.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Sean Penn - Milk

I think it's a done deal. Globe/SAG/Oscar, thank you very much.

Best Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy
Happy Go Lucky

Could go anywhere -- including Mamma Mia. Yikes!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Sally Hawkins - Happy Go Lucky

Surely. Even though she's an unknown Hawkins is the only Oscar player of the five.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy
Colin Farrell - In Bruges

I don't have a clue so I picked my favourite. It could happen.

Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona

I think it's her or Winslet.

Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight


Best Animated Feature Film

Duh x2.

Best Foreign Language Film
Waltz With Bashir

They could go for I've Loved You So Long but I'm feeling like this is the more likely option, given its growing cult-style popularity.

Best Director - Motion Picture
Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire

They might split Pic and Dir between the Dog and Button but I'm still predicting Danny.

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture

The most blatantly written. They prefer Adapted.

Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Slumdog Millionaire


Best Original Song - Motion Picture
"The Wrestler" - The Wrestler

This or Clint. Or Wall-E. Ok, so I don't know.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Endless Love

Is this the best thing to come out of reality television?

A Well Earned Break (Link)

As you'll have been able to tell my posting has been few-and-far-between since the festive period began. Most of this involved heavy consumption of Stella Artois (will my stomach ever be the same? :'( ) and when the New Year began I was forced to confront the dreaded reality of Uni assignments. I'm currently wrestling (although 'cuddling' seems a more apt description) with a 2,500-word write-up on the treatment of life and death in animation. It's mainly Disney, with a little bit of Burton thrown in there for the macabre segment. Needless to say, this is taking up a lot of my time at the moment, so for the next week or so things are gonna stay relatively vacant -- apart from Golden Globe predictions and reaction of course!

I never got around to writing a review of Changeling, and likely won't. After seeing Courtney Hunt's Frozen River online this week I feel more compelled to write about its squandering of social knowledge in greater depth. As I've said though, it ain't gonna happen for at least a week. I've also seen Che: Part One, Vicky Cristina Barcelona (online again - don't judge), Man on Wire, and The Reader, which is probably my favourite of all those mentioned in this paragraph, though it does have its fair share of problems. I was actually really surprised to find that the screening of it I went to was packed. I could tell a good few liked it, too.

Anyway, let me link you to a few entertaining pieces, if you haven't seen them already...

And the Winner is..: New Oscar predictions. Gran Torino in 6th for Best Picture?

Awards Daily: All the details on the guilds this week (DGA announce later today). Boy, didn't The Dark Knight need that PGA nom? Where's the Wall-E love, people? I hear Stanton is ineligible so it looks like it's gonna have to cling on to critical and audience popularity if it's gonna make it.

BBC: The Times' writer James Christopher puts forward the notion of BANNING the biopic. Imagine if that happened. Would we get more original films creeping into AMPAS territory, or an even bigger influx of novel adaptations in the December crowd? An interesting thought. Oh and try to ignore the fact that he doesn't like Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich. It took me a while to get past it but I succeeded.

: Top Ten Rentals/Revivals of 2008, and it includes Gone With the Wind. Adoration does not fulfill my feelings for this epic masterpiece.

Film Experience Blog: Ever fallen asleep at the cinema?

In Contention:
The BAFTA Foreign Language nominations. Pretty standard. I'm happy for Waltz With Bashir and Baader-Meinhof (
despite its problems). I'm cooling on the Scott-Thomas flick a lot.

Mainly Movies: Hitchcock is the new guest oeuvre! Why does everyone love Notorious by the way? I love Hitch but I wasn't fussed by that one at all.

Enjoy! Back to the grind!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Olivia Thirlby in The Wackness (2008)

This is part of StinkyLulu's now-legendary Supporting Actress Blogathon. Enjoy.

Josh Peck was the kid that got pushed overboard (and don't pretend you didn't cheer when it happened) in Mean Creek. He was a big lad, but The Wackness, a story of predictably very wacky goings-on, sees him as Luke, a fairly thin drug-pusher in an early-90's era hip-hop-obsessed New York. Very often films with such malevolent and apparently braindead characters follow a similar formula, which usually involves said characters achieving relativity and forming some sort of reluctant mini-cult by the end of it. The Wackness has a lot of that "How can you be timid and so blunt?" relativity but understands its own kind by making each character appear dependent upon being liked and appreciated.

Olivia Thirlby serves as the love interest to Josh Peck's drug-ravaged and numb-brained non-entity, and one questions, initially, how she could be intrigued by someone as dull, socially-awkward and utterly different to her as Luke essentially is. Thirlby, who featured somewhat in last year's mega-hit Juno, was the title character's best friend, trusted to throw her two cents in but keep the boat afloat. In The Wackness, Thirlby's Stephanie, placid, easy, eager as she may first seem, rocks several of our male characters' boats but waltzes off into the distance a la Natalie Portman in Closer; troubled, even regretful, but forever and preferably a figure of desire.

When a man loves you, you know. A lot of men are set up so that naturally such gestures of honesty feel painful and often desperate -- at least in my experience. Thirlby reacts to Luke's declaration of love with such disdain. Not because she's disgusted by him, or love, or commitment, but rather fiercely devoted to a generation and social movement that wanted to shrug off commitment, and assertive with the knowledge that she is so much more evolved as a person than he is. At that age you do tend to pick the easier option, and so Thirlby effectively acts as the heartbreaking wake-up call to a very confused and unconventional protagonist.

What's great about the film, and her performance, is that you can imagine this story being told from other people's perspectives with the same vigour: through the eyes of Ben Kingsley's stoner, crisis-ridden doctor, and through Thirlby's teenage bombshell. She identifies with us by putting Luke as the centre of her curiosity, then dispenses with him in the intolerable way we might adopt if he wasn't the centre of The Wackness' cinematic braindead world. This braindead world is often worth exploring, but her performance, a fluctuating charming one, feels like an unexpected dose of CPR; to someone that doesn't want to be resucitated and something that doesn't need resucitating.