Sunday, January 25, 2009

Steven Soderbergh Talks About "Che"

(Photo by Omar P.L. Moore/ Copyright 2009.)
Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh recently talked to me about his latest film "Che". Definitely a wonderfully insightful and revealing conversation, which is chronicled in today's Sunday Popcorn Profile on this blog's companion website,

The feature story is also posted here.

Brief audio excerpts of the conversation will be posted within the next day or two, so stay tuned.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Today's Oscar Nominations, Digested

So I've had an hour or two to digest this morning's Oscar nominations for the films of 2008.

Generally speaking, no real surprises: The best film of 2008, "Slumdog Millionaire", did very well with ten nominations, but the sheer number of bouquets tossed at "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button" was indeed curious. Thirteen Oscar nominations. Wow. Only "Titanic" and "Ben Hur", if I'm not mistaken, received the same or more, although there are other nominated films that have escaped my mind.

Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei (both for "The Wrestler") and Viola Davis ("Doubt") were all expected, as was Kate Winslet, although she was nominated in the lead role for "The Reader", which was always a lead role (The HFPA got that one wrong, I'm afraid) -- and not "Revolutionary Road", which for my money was a slightly better performance by the newest bridesmaid of Oscartown. As well as those mentioned in this paragrpah I was particularly pleased that Richard Jenkins was recognized for "The Visitor", which should have earned more nominations. Mr. Jenkins embodied the character of Walter Vale so well. "Milk" did well -- best picture, best director, best original screenplay, best actor (Sean Penn), best supporting actor (Josh Brolin), but James Franco should have joined them.

I love Robert Downey Jr.'s work and while I am happy for him I had mixed (at best) feelings about the Academy saluting his work in "Tropic Thunder", although he did it very well, don't get me wrong, deftly tiptoeing into and out of the racist stereotypical waters of blackface. The cavalier nature of his role as "Iron Man" was far better.

With its eight nominations "The Dark Knight", to be re-released in IMAX and 35mm in North America tomorrow, was snubbed out of best picture and best director nominations. How on earth does a film gain nominations for best cinematography, editing, art direction, sound editing, sound mixing, make up, visual effects and not receive nominations for best picture and best director? It simply doesn't make sense. Ah well. Politics, politics for sure. There always is. At least Heath Ledger was nominated for his towering pillar of menace, The Joker. Mr. Ledger will no doubt be awarded the Oscar posthumously exactly one month from today.

Clint Eastwood came up relatively empty this morning ("Gran Torino") but "Changeling" did garner three nominations, including one for Angelina Jolie. The one surprise was "Frost/Nixon", with best picture and best director nods. The film, which had an excellent performance from Frank Langella (as usual for him) was good, but not that good.

Full 81st Annual Academy Award nominations report here

Pre-nomination announcement advice for the Academy, who didn't really need it today

The Popcorn Reel Ten Best Films of 2008

Popcorn Reel YouTube Channel

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Blog Reel Is Back In Business!

New Year, New Look, New Address.

The Blog Reel is back!

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