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Slumdog Millionaire 
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Post Slumdog Millionaire
We just got around to watching Slumdog Millionaire. Good movie. Very good movie.

Best Picture? I don't think so. We have yet to watch most of the other contenders (and I think The Wrestler should have been on that list), but if SM is the best picture the others must be real disappointments.

I have a very cynical reason for believing it won. Remember, the Oscars(r)(tm)(dfwu) are the industry awarding prizes to itself. As with any other insider awards, you need to apply a heaping helping of yeah-so and use your most cynical interpretation when judging the outcome. (E.g., Halle Berry did not get BA for her histrionic performance in Monster's Ball; she got it as the available stand-in for all the women of color who got skipped over for truly outstanding performances over 70 years. A clue: whenever someone over-praises an unlikely woman's performance, you can be assured it includes scenery-chewing, dress-ripping histrionics and never a thoughtful, studied, nuanced performance. Oh, yeah, most recent examples include the actress's first screen nudity, too.)

Anyway. So why did SM win? Because the industry looked at a whole new genre they can exploit all to hell - the Bollywoodish crossover - and said a collective, "G'damn, we can make a fortune churning this stuff out for a few years, but we have to make it big big big colossal supercolossal!" And how to do that? Best pic, so let's go vote, guys (oh, and you dames, too.)

Bollywood is *immense*... in India. There has never been a successful release of one of those films here, because for all their aping of Hollywood, they're interwoven with a culture that is opaque, strange, even repellent to 'Murrican eyes. Bollywood can't make a successful American film (they've tried) because it kills the home box office.

But here comes Danny Boyle, who studied both his L.B. Mayer and his Baz Luhrmann, and found the sweet spot between Hollywood and Bollywood. The film was a success on its own merits. But success wasn't enough - the industry had to hammer the point home between the eyes of the lowing cows who line up for their derivative drivel. "Look, you schmucks, this is the BEST PICTURE IN THE WORLD!... so be sure to line right up for the next six 'sploits of it." (And by gosh and by Shiva, they will.)

I guess such behavior and shameless manipulation is better than, say, a feature film based on "Land of the Lost" or some other silly TV trash... but not much.

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Sun May 10, 2009 11:14 am
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Post Re: Slumdog Millionaire
James Gifford wrote:
We just got around to watching Slumdog Millionaire. Good movie. Very good movie.

Best Picture? I don't think so. We have yet to watch most of the other contenders (and I think The Wrestler should have been on that list), but if SM is the best picture the others must be real disappointments.


The only other nominee I saw was Frost/Nixon, and while I enjoyed the film, it did not seem to me to be any better than a number of original HBO productions. I had no desire to see any of the other films, but I did see Slumdog and thought it was a teriffic movie. So, I do think it was at least partially a matter of a very good film in a field of good to mediocre contenders.

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Sun May 10, 2009 5:00 pm
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Post Re: Slumdog Millionaire
Frost/Nixon is in the current pile of NF discs. I know Frank Langella's performance was outstanding but haven't heard much good about the film as a whole - at least, not Best Film good.

Benjamin Button is also there, and I've heard very good things about it.

I thought Sean Penn's performance in Milk was absolutely electrifying - he deserved that BA award (neck and neck with Mickey Rourke... but he had political winds at his back). But the film was just a good solid biopic, nothing outstanding, certainly not Best.

That leaves The Reader, which I will see sooner or later. I had mentally tabbed this as the likely winner because all too often the voters tend to reward the little movie among the BO giants, just to show that they Care.

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Sun May 10, 2009 6:41 pm
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Post Re: Slumdog Millionaire
James Gifford wrote:
Frost/Nixon is in the current pile of NF discs. I know Frank Langella's performance was outstanding but haven't heard much good about the film as a whole - at least, not Best Film good.

Benjamin Button is also there, and I've heard very good things about it.

I thought Sean Penn's performance in Milk was absolutely electrifying - he deserved that BA award (neck and neck with Mickey Rourke... but he had political winds at his back). But the film was just a good solid biopic, nothing outstanding, certainly not Best.

That leaves The Reader, which I will see sooner or later. I had mentally tabbed this as the likely winner because all too often the voters tend to reward the little movie among the BO giants, just to show that they Care.

I saw Milk and Frost/Nixon, and thought they were the best of a not very strong field, because of the performances. I couldn't work up any interest in Benjamin Button.


Sun May 10, 2009 7:40 pm
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Post Re: Slumdog Millionaire
Haven't seen SlumDog, but I did see several others. Sean Penn was incredible in "Milk." Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams were all phenomenal in "Doubt." Kate Winslet, though, i the "The Reader" was the best performance I saw all year. Ordinarily I like Ralph Fiennes, but I didn't care for him in "The Reader."

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Tue May 19, 2009 7:41 am
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Post Re: Slumdog Millionaire
MaxGriffin wrote:
Haven't seen SlumDog, but I did see several others. Sean Penn was incredible in "Milk." Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams were all phenomenal in "Doubt." Kate Winslet, though, i the "The Reader" was the best performance I saw all year. Ordinarily I like Ralph Fiennes, but I didn't care for him in "The Reader."
I don't really think Doubt was strong enough for a best picture nod.

Normally I will see anything with Philip Seymour Hoffman in it just on that fact alone, and am rarely disappointed. He was good, certainly, but it was a rather undemanding role for him.

Meryl Streep was good, but I wouldn't consider this an Oscar-caliber performance; perhaps this one was a little too mannered. OTOH, the brreadth and range she has been showing in the last couple of years is knock-your-socks-off astonishing -- from the Mama Mia souffle to Doubt, to The Hours, to the Lake Woebegone movie whose name escapes me. She threatens to displace Kate Hepburn in my mind as the actress of the century (don't ask which century)


Wed May 20, 2009 6:15 am
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Post Re: Slumdog Millionaire
Bill Patterson wrote:
I don't really think Doubt was strong enough for a best picture nod.

Normally I will see anything with Philip Seymour Hoffman in it just on that fact alone, and am rarely disappointed. He was good, certainly, but it was a rather undemanding role for him.

Meryl Streep was good, but I wouldn't consider this an Oscar-caliber performance; perhaps this one was a little too mannered. OTOH, the brreadth and range she has been showing in the last couple of years is knock-your-socks-off astonishing -- from the Mama Mia souffle to Doubt, to The Hours, to the Lake Woebegone movie whose name escapes me. She threatens to displace Kate Hepburn in my mind as the actress of the century (don't ask which century)


I agree that "Doubt" wasn't strong enough for "best picture." It was the ensemble cast that I found so powerful, rather like fitting the parts of a complex theorem together.

I, too, will see anything with Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Streep's versatility is amazing. I'm not sure she'd "displace" Hepburn, since they are quite different actors, but she's certainly in the select constellation of the most outstanding actors of the cinema. That appellation avoids a discussion of "which century..."

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Wed May 20, 2009 6:32 am
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Post Re: Slumdog Millionaire
Bill Patterson wrote:
...the brreadth and range she [Meryl Streep] has been showing in the last couple of years is knock-your-socks-off astonishing -- from the Mama Mia souffle to Doubt, to The Hours, to the Lake Woebegone movie whose name escapes me. She threatens to displace Kate Hepburn in my mind as the actress of the century (don't ask which century)


That was Altman's last film, A Prairie Home Companion.
As to replacing Hepburn, I'd rather wait till Streep retires to review the two bodies of work, but I think it's fair to say there has been no one else to compare to Kate.

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Wed May 20, 2009 6:48 am
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Post Re: Slumdog Millionaire
MaxGriffin wrote:
I, too, will see anything with Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Streep's versatility is amazing. I'm not sure she'd "displace" Hepburn, since they are quite different actors, but she's certainly in the select constellation of the most outstanding actors of the cinema. That appellation avoids a discussion of "which century..."


The basic difference between the two, of course, is that Streep is a character actor - she becomes the character in the script. When Kate Hepburn played a role, the character in the script became...Kate Hepburn. And that was always good enough for me.

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Wed May 20, 2009 11:24 am
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