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The Rise and Fall of Advanced Social Journalism during the Early Twenty-First Century

Chris Nolan is a fine filmmaker who should be rewarded for his artistic achievement

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…and other critiques of the ’09 Oscar nods.

Apparently an African American is now the President of the United States of America but not surprisingly my interests are elsewhere – on Hollywood. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their 2009 nominations and the winners will be broadcast on the 22nd of February. My beefs with this year’s picks go all the way from the big boy – best picture – down to favourite score.

2008’s movies, I believe, pale greatly in comparison to 2007. There was a solid junk of truly entertaining and cinematic films produced that year and The Academy did a pretty decent job of recognizing (at least with mostly nominations) the film achievements of P.T. Anderson (although I would argue There Will Be Blood is better than No Country for Old Men), The Coen Brothers as well as the creators of Michael Clayton. However in ’07 they did leave out some fantastically unique films – Zodiac, The Savages, The Darjeeling Limited and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead being the best among them.

As we enter a new year I look back on 2008 and see it as a period of blockbusters. Indiana Jones and The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, Ironman, Hulk and Quantum of Solace were all big hits at the box office and theatrically entertaining movies. However, the film that was not only the highest grossing movie of the year but second only to Titanic in total US gross in the history of motion pictures is, of course, The Dark Knight.

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Director/Producer/Writer Christopher Nolan broke down countless barriers that go along with the many genres that the Batman sequel is a part of. Firstly, it is probably the only widely excepted sequel, besides The Godfather Part Two, that is better than the first. Secondly, never has an action movie had such a great cast (Aaron Eckhart and Christian Bale need mention here because Heath Ledger’s justified attention has over-shadowed their parts). Thirdly, it proved that a comic book movie could be more that just a summer blockbuster – it can be an intellectually profound piece of cinema. In fact, The Dark Knight’s greatest achievement is that it is one of the few films to have the distinction of being a huge hit as well as respected cinema.

Unfortunately the Liberal Hollywood Elite has very short memories. As many of you know The Academy rarely recognizes films with a release date prior to October of the year in question. The movie that esteemed film critic Richard Roeper called “a near masterpiece” received no major nominations outside of Best-Supporting Actor. Even James Newton Howard & Hans Zimmer’s outstanding score was not garnered with a nod. The Dark Knight soundtrack, like the movie itself, has a memorable and engrossing feeling that is equally stimulating when listened to separately from the film. Chris Nolan for Directing Achievement, as well as Best Picture has been pushed aside for the likes of Ron Howard and Frost/Nixon. This is an academy that gave not only Best-Picture nominations for all three Lord of Rings movies but voted The Return of the King the best motion picture of 2003. Don’t get me wrong I am fan of the Lord of Rings series but I think most people would agree that there are shots and scenes in The Dark Knight that are on a much higher level than anything in the whole Middle Earth series.

One of probable reasons for the recognition of Lord of Rings was its’ presence at the box-office. The Academy reacted partly to the response the movie got from the public at large. I would argue this same reasoning was responsible for Titanic’s achievement for Best Picture in ’97. Remember that the same year Titanic won we saw both L.A. Confidential and Good Will Hunting being left in the dust. And in the year of King The Academy chose Peter Jackson over Sophia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. Maybe the mentioned losers were too “arty” for the Oscars. But The Dark Knight didn’t even get nominated for Best Picture/Director and it is arguably better than most of the big Oscar picks this year.

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I have seen four of the five movies currently nominated for Best Picture – excluding The Reader. All I would say are at least good but none are truly great. Frost/Nixon is hugely overrated, although an interesting story and great performance by the actor playing Nixon, Ron Howard’s mockumentary style is distracting and unnecessary. Slumdog Millionaire has great cinematography and a heart-warming story but it does not lead up to expectations. Benjamin Button is visually stimulating but dull in parts. Gus Van Sant’s Milk is probably the only one that comes close to being excellent. The Academy also left out acclaimed films Revolutionary Road and The Wrestler. Sam Mendes’ new Kate & Leo pic, although not fantastic, is one of my favourite movies of the year. Even though Winslet and DeCaprio were nominated for Golden Globes, both did not get much-deserved Oscar nods. I think Leo DeCaprio is starting to become a “Tom Cruise” type character – no matter how good he is in a movie nobody wants to give him the credit he deserves.

One move I agree with The Academy on was actor Michael Shannon nomination for a supporting role in Rev Road. However, this is the most crowded category this year: my man PSH for Doubt, Josh Brolin for Milk (what the fuck happened to W? Great movie!), for some reason Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder and Heath are all nominated for non-leading roles. I don’t understand the reason for RDJr’s nomination – if they wanted to give it to a comedic role it should definitely go to Mr. Gucci by Gucci himself – James Franco. Anyone who has every bought drugs will tell you his role in Pineapple Express was right on the money. And furthermore he was fan-flippin-tastic as Sean Penn’s love interest in Milk.

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In short, I think Slumdog is going get for it for Director/Picture and you’re going to see a lot of smiling faces on stage. Lead actor will go to Mickey Rourke, who was good but I lean more towards Sean Penn when it comes down to it. Leading lady I can’t say because I’ve only seen Doubt but I’d say the odds are on either Streep/Winslet. Supporting man is justifiably going to The Joker himself. Supporting lady is a toss up and I think they are all lovely. The screenplay awards I have no idea, maybe BB or Slumdog for adapted. And I’m almost certain The Dark Knight will win the other SEVEN awards it’s nominated for…hint…hint – it’s a good fucking movie!

This year The Academy especially left out a lot of good movies and good artists even considering it was a slow season as far as films go. TDK – best movie of the year, Doubt, Rev Road, Milk & The Wrestler honourable mentions but nowhere near the Caped Crusader.

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Written by shanedantimo

January 27, 2009 at 5:55 am

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