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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscars 2009

For those of you interested, we're batting about average at Chez Loebrich South with about 75% correctly guessed. Thank you Academy, it was a great show, good night!

Best Picture - Slumdog Millionaire
Yes! Whew! I was still scared of a split.

Hey, Lucy, I miss you! Wish you were here so we could compare notes over coffee in the newsroom tomorrow!

Best Actor - Sean Penn, Milk

Wow! The Academy hates him, he's too much of a "troublemaker" for them. His performance was brilliant, his message necessary, and, as surprised as I am, I am completely thrilled.

So why didn't they do this Legends presentation with Best Director? I can list a bunch of powerhouse folks I'd have loved to have seen up there....

Best Actress - Kate Winslet, The Reader

Yes! This was a splendid performance in a powerful movie.

Sophia Loren is still danged gorgeous! Classy.

Best Director - Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire

Yes! I was so scared this wouldn't happen. I'm still scared there's gonna be a split....

Classy. Bravo, bravissimo.

OK, if she's gonna sing, I'll let it go...'caue it's classy.

Oh, man! My dear Queen Latifah gets stuck introducing the Death Reel?

Bruce has been following the stats on Awards Daily for weeks. He's totally into handicapping the awards. He's so cute.

Foreign Language Film - Departures
Well, this is unexpected! We hadn't actually managed to see any of the nominees this year, but we were expecting Waltz With Bashir -- which looks like a brilliantly animated movie -- to take this one.

Original Song - "Jai Ho" Slumdog Millionaire

Well, I think I owe my coworker Dave a cookie. I was sure Slumdog was going to split the vote with two songs nominated in this category. Besides, so often the Original Song winner comes from the Best Animated Feature, especially if it's Disney or Pixar. Oh well, I don't mind. Slumdog was great fun and the song is pretty cool, too.

Wow! I am loving the Original Song performances! You know, overall the production values on this Oscar broadcast have been superb.

Original Score - Slumdog Millionaire
Wow. I actually didn't expect this one to go this way. Don't get me wrong, I'm rooting for Slumdog, but I love Danny Elfman...maybe he'll make another movie with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp...oh, the trifecta!

Film Editing - Slumdog Millionaire
Bruce is concerned that Slumdog won't sweep because it lost Sound Editing to The Dark Knight. :-(

Sound Mixing - Slumdog Millionaire
Bruce is funny. He's started saying, "anything but Benjamin Button." Sounds like me the year Titanic was up for everything. :-)

Sound Editing - The Dark Knight
Yay! This was a great movie, definitely in my top 5 this year, glad to see it winning more than just the expected.

Visual Effects - Benjamin Button

This is a bummer, actually. The Dark Knight and Iron Man were up in this, too. Another category full of deserving nominees. Wish I'd liked Benjamin Button more.

I love Will Smith! Too bad he didn't have a chance to write and perform a rap number for the Oscars!

OK, that's going to be one of the images in the paper tomorrow -- Philippe Petit balancing the Oscar on his chin!

Supporting Actor - Heath Ledger

Didn't we tell you this was a lock? It was also one of the most brilliant performances of the year, heartily deserving of a nomination and an award. It's really awful that the ending wasn't as happy as we'd all have liked it to be.

OK, I'm loving this, but where's my girlfriend Queen Latifah?

Hmm, I've got a great idea for the next X-Men movie (after the one this May)...anybody else see a remake of, say, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers cast with the students of Professor X's school? Or, maybe, as they're doing now, Grease.... :-)

Cinematography - Slumdog Millionaire


Does anybody know if Cate Blanchett actually did her own dancing in Benjamin Button? I tried to figure that out on IMdB, but couldn't.

Makeup - Benjamin Button

Well, you know, prosthetic aging makeup is usually an Academy shoe-in. Actually, this seemed like the toughest category to me with Dark Knight and Hellboy II as the other nominees.

Not to speak too soon, but is anybody else impressed with clip at which this broadcast is progressing?

Costume Design - The Duchess
Well, duh. It's a costume drama, and a darn pretty one at that.

Art Direction - Benjamin Button

Wow. Has the sweep begun? (I hope not...although it was a pretty movie.)

That was too cute -- the Japanese man who won for Animated Short saying "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto" :-)

Animated Feature - Wall-E
Well, duh. I realized that I hadn't listed this in our predictions below, but, well..duh. (Bolt was cute, too, though.)

Adapted Screenplay - Slumdog Millionaire
Yay! Has the sweep begun?

Original Screenplay - Milk

This was a surprise. It was a great movie, as I said before it's the right story at the right time, I just wasn't expecting it to win screenplay.

UPDATE 8:53pm: OK, this screenplay intro is hilarious!

Supporting Actress - Penelope Cruz

Yay! We called this one and we're glad it went this way because she really was good. Also, we're liking this having the past winners announce the awards. That was really touching. Looking forward to seeing how the rest of them play out.

UPDATE 8:33pm: Yay! Welcome back, Opening Musical Number! Nobody could've done it better than Handsome Hugh!

UPDATE 8:27pm: So, do you suppose Lou Horvitz is going to win another Emmy for directing the Oscars? Looks like they've got a pretty ambitious show planned. Stay tuned!

UPDATE 8:20pm: That was the best intro to the Price Waterhouse guys I've ever seen!! Plus I love the fashion commentary about what they're wearing! Yay, Price Waterhouse and the winning envelopes!

UPDATE 8:10pm: That is SO cool that they've got the ENTIRE CAST of Slumdog! Guess it's not like graduation where you only get like 4 tickets!

UPDATE 8:02pm: So, now it's onto ABC's coverage. Hey, Wayne -- I've got my popcorn and "E's and 3's"!

UPDATE 7:58pm: I love Robert Downey, Jr. I haven't seen Tropic Thunder, but I have always liked him as an actor. Did you see Iron Man? He literally rocked in that -- although Chaplin remains my favorite role from him. Ooh, he says they're working on a sequel to Iron Man. As a Marvel girl, I appreciate that, too.

UPDATE 7:55pm: Did I miss my boyfriend Johnny? I haven't seen him up the hotness factor yet....

UPDATE 7:38pm: So who had TOTALLY AMAZINGLY BURNING HOT in the pool for how Brad and Angelina would look? Because you were SO right - whoa!

UPDATE 7:36pm: I would be remiss if I did not mention how much I also adore Queen Latifah - so gorgeous and so talented and so awesomely cool! Can't wait to hear her sing later.

UPDATE 7:34pm: I am watching Ron Howard be interviewed right now. He has been in my Top 10 Favorite Directors for years, and not just because he looks a little like my dad. :-)

The stars are arriving on Red Carpet Way, the crazy "fluff packages" and interviews are all over E! Entertainment Television, we're having our traditional steak and Coppola wine with popcorn and M&M's waiting in the kitchen, it's the big night at Chez Loebrich South -- Happy Oscars!


Best Picture: Bruce - Slumdog Millionaire, Katy - Slumdog Millionaire, but I'd be happy if Milk won, too, just so long as Benjamin Button doesn't.

Best Director: Bruce - Danny Boyle (Slumdog), Katy - Danny Boyle (Slumdog), but I'd be happy if Dad's "twin brother" Ron Howard won, too.

Best Actor: Bruce - Mickey Rourke, Katy - Mickey Rourke

Best Actress: Bruce - Kate Winslet (The Reader), but he'd love it if Anne Hathaway won, Katy - Kate Winslet, but I could see Meryl Streep pulling it out, too.

Best Supporting Actor: Bruce - Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight), Katy - Heath Ledger, but Bruce doesn't think it's as much of a lock as I do.

Best Supporting Actress: Bruce - Penelope Cruzy (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Katy - Penelope Cruz, but this is a tough one.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Nominated for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing (somebody please tell me which of those is foley work?!), Wanted is the story of an unhappy man whose life takes a sudden turn when a beautiful assassin enters the picture. In a matter of moments, Wesley learns he is the son of a professional assassin and a legacy member into their guild. Ditching his miserable life as an account manager with an unfaithful girlfriend and a two-timing best friend, he takes up with the assassin's guild and learns to be a killer. The lessons and insights he gains turn his life around.

This movie was a lot of fun. It had great humor in addition to an interesting plot and fabulous special effects. We saw this with our friends Ken and Cathy and we all had a good time and liked the film even more than we expected to.

Moms, no. Shoot-em-ups are definitely not your style, even funny ones.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Duchess

Nominated for Art Direction and Costume Design, The Duchess is the true story of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and her troubled marriage and political aspirations.

As you'd guess from the nominations, this is a beautiful movie. When it started, it was very slow and we were concerned that it wouldn't get better, but it did. The trials and tribulations of the main character were interesting in their complexity, but the performances were pretty standard and the costuming and the sets really were the best part overall. It was also interesting to get a bit of a peek at some royal history (Georgiana's brother is an ancestor of Princess Diana).

Our opinion of this film is that it was okay. My mom might enjoy it for the royal angle, but there's a lot of tension and mean husbands and things like that.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Frozen River

Nominated for Best Actress (Melissa Leo) and Original Screenplay, Frozen River is the story of a woman trying to support her family on limited means in upstate New York. When her husband walks out and takes the family's savings, she takes the desperate option of supplementing her meager paycheck by helping smuggle immigrants into the country from Canada. Her partner is a Mohawk named Lila who has been making a living this way for a while. The two women eventually bond over the similarities of the situation.

OK, I've liked Melissa Leo for years, and she was good in this movie, but I wasn't overwhelmed by the performance. In fact, I thought the actor playing her teenage son was the best performer in the movie. The plot is very basic and the other characters, as with Changeling, are fairly stereotypical.

Moms, this is definitely not up your alley. Other readers, choose as you like, I'm rather lukewarm about this one.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Visitor

Nominated for Best Actor (Richard Jenkins), The Visitor is the story of a college professor and the impact some unexpected friends have on his life. Walter has been living in Connecticut and teaching at the university for 20+ years. His late wife was a concert pianist and he has been searching to bring the music back into his life since her death. One day he is sent to New York City to present a paper at a conference because his co-author has been put on bed-rest for a pregnancy. He goes reluctantly and lets himself into the apartment he owns in the city -- where his wife would stay when she was performing and recording. Walter has not been to the apartment since his wife passed away, although he has maintained the lease. Much to his surprise, someone in the building has rented his apartment out to a young immigrant couple -- Tarek and Zainab. Despite the initial awkwardness of their situation, a friendship blossoms between the trio and changes all their lives.

This was a really good movie with some fine performances. Jenkins' nomination is well-deserved, to be sure. The characters, their development and their interaction are what make this film worthwhile.

Moms, maybe. There is definitely tension, but very little actual violence, and it is a moving story.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Nominated for Best Actress (Angelina Jolie), Cinematography, and Art Direction, Changeling is the true story of Christine Collins and her search for Walter, her missing son. Walter disappeared in 1928 on a day when Christine was called into work to cover for a sick coworker. Five months later the police recover a boy matching Walter's description, but he is not her son. Without the benefit of modern forensics, and needing good press, the police insist the boy is Walter despite Christine's protests. Instead, she is considered insane and committed to a mental institution under the pretext that she is an unfit mother for not accepting this boy. When she is proven right, with the aid of a local minister and other experts, the police department is put on trial. At the same time, a man who frequently kidnapped and killed missing children is also standing trial for his crimes -- one of which may be Walter's murder.

Well, the movie is gorgeous -- which you would expect with Art Direction and Cinematography nods -- and so is Angelina, who also proves (again) that she is not just a pretty face, but also a fine actress. But that's about it. The movie is very predictable and, because it's based on a true story, it doesn't actually have any resolution. Bruce said that, while Angelina's character was well fleshed-out and played, everyone and everything else seemed like stereotypes and caricatures. That's a pretty apt description. I was disappointed. I had high hopes for this film when it originally came out and was sorry I'd missed it in the theater, but it didn't live up to my expectations.

Moms, sorry, but "separation of mothers and children" automatically puts a movie in your "no" column.

Monday, February 16, 2009

In Bruges

Nominated for Original Screenplay, In Bruges is the story of two hit-men sent to the Belgian city to await orders for their next job. While waiting, they take in some sights and happen upon a film crew shooting a movie. The younger hit-man introduces himself to a pretty girl with the crew and makes a date. Throughout their time in town the two men feel very out of place, trying to appear normal despite an unusual career, as they wait in the charming "old-timey" town that is Bruges, Belgium. When their next assignment comes, it is not what they were expecting.

Despite what you would think from that synopsis, this movie is hilarious! The coincidences upon coincidences that happen as these two men cross paths with other people in Bruges, and as parts of their own pasts are revealed, are so intricately clever. The performances are brilliant -- you'd expect no less from Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, and Ralph Fiennes -- and the story is definitely worthy of its nomination.

We didn't know what to expect going into this film, but we got was a fabulous dark farce that is exactly the type of comic movie we love. This one is definitely in my top 5 movies of the year, it's that good. It was also fun for me to watch because I've been to Bruges -- at Christmas, even, which is when the movie takes place -- so I enjoyed seeing the city again and I could relate to many of the things the main characters were doing.

Moms, sorry, this is way to violent for you, but non-squeamish readers up for a great romp in Belgium (where we know what they put on their fries and I've actually bought some that way from a street vendor in Bruges) should make check out this film!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Penelope Cruz), Vicky Cristina Barcelona is the story of two American women and their summer in Spain. Vicky is working on a graduate thesis which would benefit from first-hand study in Spain and she happens to have a distant relative, Judy, who lives in Barcelona. Judy and her husband, Mark, invite Vicky to come for the summer so she can finish her paper before her fall wedding to fiance, Doug. Vicky brings her best friend, Cristina, an artistic dreamer who has just made a short film, but is still trying to figure out what she wants to do in life. One night after an art gala, the girls meet Juan Antonio, a painter who recently broke up with his wife in a messy tabloid scandal, and there is instant chemistry - both the good and the bad kind.

The movie follows the two girls, and the companions in their outer circle, through their summer of discovery. All sorts of hijinks ensue. In the end, everyone learns something about who they are and who they want to be.

Penelope Cruz plays Juan Antonio's troubled ex-wife. She is amazing in the film! She totally nails the role of high-strung, off-balance love of Juan Antonio's life. She is at once flamboyant, crazy, scary, tender, and sheltered. Her character is the sounding-board and the mirror from which the other characters gain their insights and develop in their own right. Definitely a nomination-worthy turn.

It's probably also worth noting that everything in this movie is gorgeous. The actors, the scenery, the shots...a visual treat.

We did not want to see this when it first came out, even though it's a Woody Allen film. I thought it was just going to be a bunch of dumb people having sex in Spain. Turns out that was just a minor point to the movie and actually performances and plot rose way above it. We were both more than pleasantly surprised.

Moms, mom could probably see this and might enjoy it since it's in Spain and parts of it are actually in long as she keeps in mind that there is casual sex. Bruce's mom probably wouldn't be all that interested in the film, though.

Kung Fu Panda

Nominated for Best Animated Feature, Kung Fu Panda is the story of Po, a panda who is fascinated with kung fu, and how that changes his life. When it is revealed that the kung fu masters must choose who will be the Dragon Warrior in order to defend their home from enemies, Po is unexpectedly thrown into the midst of the situation by being chosen. He must overcome his own difficulties and learn kung fu in a very short time in order to protect his home. In the end, he learns something about himself as well.

This is a pretty typical movie. The plot is exactly what you'd expect, the jokes are exactly what you'd expect, the ending is exactly what you'd expect, etc.. That said, it's a cute film. It's not an animation masterpiece, but it's a fun movie to watch.

Moms, maybe. There's a lot of martial arts fighting, but it's all decide.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

We took a break from our Annual Oscar Push to catch something a little more "traditional" for us during a nice evening out with friends.

Set several hundred years in the past, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is a prequel to the other two films in the series -- Underworld and Underworld: Evolution. The movie tells the story of Lucian, the first of the genetically-engineered (bred, not bitten) werewolves. He and his kin were created by Victor, ruling-elder of a vampire coven, to serve as the vampires' slaves and protectors. Lucian eventually leads his brethren to rise up against their vampire masters.

This creation myth was originally told in Underworld, as a back-story, and is fleshed out here in its own film. So, if you've seen the first one, you know exactly what's going to happen. However, it was fun to see anyway. Lots of cgi action, vampires and werewolves fighting, dark and rainy vistas, etc.. A terrific way to spend Friday The 13th with friends!

(As an aside, it was also interesting to note that the actor playing Lucian is the same guy who plays Sir David Frost in Frost/Nixon. That's a broad repertoire, eh?)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Nominated for Make-Up, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is the story of how Hellboy, Liz, Abe, and new team member Johann Krauss take on Prince Nuada as he attempts to raise the titular Golden Army. As you can probably also guess, it's a sequel.

I wanted to see this movie when it first came out -- because I am almost always up for a comic book adaptation film and I enjoyed the first one -- but our friends all poo-pooed the idea thinking the film would be dumb. Well, it's no art film or epic drama, but Hellboy II is cute and fun. Oh yeah, and the make-up is darned good, you would expect. (In fact, this is probably the tightest category this year!)

Moms, although it is funny and does have a happy ending of sorts, probably not. Anybody else up for renting a "popcorn flick," check it out!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Wrestler

Nominated for Best Actor (Mickey Rourke) and Best Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei), The Wrestler is the story of an aging professional wrestler trying to come to grips with his life on the verge of "has-been-dom." He finds a kindred spirit in a stripper at the local bar he frequents and their friendship helps him move forward despite the setbacks of ill-health and self-doubt.

There are some really intense moments in this movie, but there are great performances to go along with it. There's a lot of humor and a lot of humanity, too. If we were watching this in film class back at K College, Professor Bogart (really, I took film from Dr. Bogart!) would have asked us to interpret the ending, but I think it's best left up to the viewer's own interpretation. I was left wondering whether my prediction from yesterday would actually come to pass, because Rourke's performance really is terrific and the Academy may well decide that the Golden Globe wasn't enough on its own.

Moms, uh, no, sorry. You really don't want to see grown men in tights beating each other up.


Nominated for Original Score, Defiance is the true story of a group of Jewish brothers who escaped the slaughter of their village in Belarus, established a camp in the woods, and eventually saved 1200 people from the Holocaust.

Daniel Craig steps away from his role as Bond to play the eldest brother here. There are several good performances and some amazing cinematography mixed in with the moving story. Oddly, the soundtrack seemed predictable to me; ironic since that's what earned an Oscar nod for the film. Anyway, a local paper gave this movie a bad wasn't that bad. Sure, you pretty much know what's going to happen, there's a lot of historical fact to support your own second-guessing of the plot anyway, but it is still a film worth watching.

Except for our mothers, of course, I mean, come on, it's about the Holocaust, definitely not one for you, moms.


Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Frank Langella), Best Director (Ron Howard), Adapted Screenplay, and Editing, Frost/Nixon is the story of Sir David Frost's famous post-Watergate television interviews with former President Richard Nixon. Based on the stage play, the movie recreates the time and circumstances surrounding the interviews as well as the tapings themselves.

I had really high hopes going into this film and I was not disappointed! Ron Howard has been one of my favorite directors for years and this movie certainly shows his skill -- the pacing is masterful, the shot choices great, and above all, the performances are spectacular. In fact, it's the brilliant acting that really sells the film. Langella's portrayal of Nixon is truly amazing -- definitely Oscar-worthy. Throughout the movie I just kept thinking, "THIS is how it's done."

Moms, make your own call here. It wasn't a great time in history, but it sure is a good movie.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Brad Pitt), Best Supporting Actress (Taraji P. Henson), Best Director (David Fincher), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup, Visual Effects, Editing, Sound Mixing, and Original Score, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the most nominated movie of the year. Based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the film follows the titular Benjamin through his odd life which has him aging backwards, born as an old man and slowly growing younger. He experiences the world from his unique perspective meeting and connecting with people, many of whom become extremely important to him, along the way.

OK, folks, my description of this movie is, "it's better than Titanic." The two movies are a lot alike -- they're beautiful, they've got great effects and talented actors, there's a deep and lasting love story beneath the rest of the plot, there's great tragedy and tension -- but they're cotton candy movies. Sweet, pretty, but not substantive. Sure, I cried at some points in the movie (and I bawled during Titanic), but afterward I was left thinking "okay, that's done." The plot is really predictable (during Titanic I was actually quoting dialog before the characters even said it, which I didn't do here) and the pacing is terrible. The film is SO long and moves SO slowly. There were parts I liked -- good acting, some great cinematography -- but all in all I didn't think it was all that and a bag of chips.

Moms, probably not. In addition to the tension and trauma, Benjamin serves in World War II and sees violent action.

Rachel Getting Married

Nominated for Best Actress (Anne Hathaway), Rachel Getting Married is the story of Kym, who returns home from a stint in rehab in order to attend her sister Rachel's wedding. Kym's drug addiction has been the proverbial thorn in the family's side for more years than they can remember. It has overshadowed Rachel's development all her life by making her older sister the focus of all the family's attention. In addition, Kym's addiction was directly responsible for the death of their little brother and indirectly responsible for their parents' subsequent divorce. This big specter, and the way each person reacts to it, overshadows everything in the days leading up to Rachel's wedding until, as is inevitable, it all comes to a head.

Shot with a lot of hand-held camera work that draws you into the scene, and filled with top-notch performances from the entire cast, this film is an uncomfortable tour de force. The situation is so painful, but so real. It's as if you know these people, live with these people, and all you want is to grab them and get them to really talk to each other. It's a dramatic, intense, touching, and very well done movie.

Sorry, Moms, this is another one that you two probably should not see. Other readers, however, especially those intrigued by the concept of Best Actress Nominee Anne Hathaway, should totally check this one out.


Nominated for Best Animated Feature, Bolt is the story of a girl and her dog...who just happen to be the stars of a popular kids TV show. When Bolt, who believes the TV show to be real, accidentally gets out of the studio and gets lost, he embarks on a continent-spanning quest to be reunited with "his person." Along the way he makes new friends and discovers who he really is and where he belongs in the world.

This film is so cute and such fun! The story is heartwarming and charming with some funny moments mixed in. Sure, there's some tension as Bolt works his way across the country, and as the manipulating agent tries to get Penny to go on with a new dog in Bolt's place, but the movie is so well done that you don't really mind. We had the additional bonus of seeing this movie in 3-D, which was great fun, but the plot stands up well enough on its own that the big screen and the 3-D effects are not necessary to enjoy the film.

Oh, and guess what? Moms, you CAN see this one and you probably should, it's really fun!


Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Sean Penn), Best Supporting Actor (Josh Brolin), Best Director (Gus Van Sant), Original Screenplay, Costume Design, Editing, and Original Score, Milk is the true story of Harvey Milk, California's first openly-gay elected official, who strove to be the change he wanted to see in the world.

In 1978, I was 10 years-old and totally wrapped up in Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. I wasn't very aware of national or world events (although intergalactic ones were right up my alley!). Anyway, my point is that, while I had a general knowledge of the story, I didn't know a lot of details. What I do know is that this is one darned good film. Not only well-acted and put together, but also the right story at the right time -- a message that the world really needs to hear...and absorb.

(Not one for our moms, however.)