D.C. critics chime in, ‘Slumdog’ reigns

Posted by · 10:11 pm · December 7th, 2008

Rubiana Ali in Slumdog MillionaireI was totally out to lunch on this today.  “Slumdog Millionaire” continues to dominate while Heath Ledger wins his second award (after that AFI gong earlier in the week).  “Doubt” pulls down another ensemble win while truly astounding group performances from films such as “Synecdoche, New York,” “Gomorrah” and, indeed, “Slumdog Millionaire” continue to be ignored.  And Mickey Rourke picks up his first critics’ citation.

The winners:

Best Film: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Director: Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Actor: Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”
Best Actress: Meryl Streep, “Doubt”
Best Ensemble: “Doubt”
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Best Supporting Actress: Rosemarie DeWitt, “Rachel Getting Married”
Best Breakthrough Performance: Dev Patel, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Original Screenplay: Jenny Lumet, “Rachel Getting Married”
Best Animated Feature: “WALL-E”
Best Foreign Language Film: “Let The Right One In”
Best Documentary: “Man On Wire”
Best Art Direction: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Sasha Stone has some historical perspective over at Awards Daily.

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33 responses so far

  • 1 12-07-2008 at 10:20 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Kris, do you think that with Slumdog’s recent awards success that it has dethroned Benjamin Button as the film to beat this season, or is it still too soon to say that?

  • 2 12-07-2008 at 10:56 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I thoguht that as soon as I saw Button, actually.

  • 3 12-07-2008 at 10:57 pm

    James said...

    Rosemarie DeWitt ♥.

    Frankly, that’s all I can focus on.

  • 4 12-07-2008 at 10:58 pm

    James said...

    ^P.S. I hope this continues at least thrice more, so those pesky Debra Winger predictions can be laid to rest….

  • 5 12-08-2008 at 12:20 am

    Brian Kinsley said...

    Winger < DeWitt. I don’t understand why anyone would prefer the other.

  • 6 12-08-2008 at 12:28 am

    Rob Scheer said...

    Why can’t both be rewarded? I personally can’t make up my mind who’s better. DeWitt’s character has more time to be defined, but Winger is at least as impressive by doing so much with so little, giving us an all-encompassing view of this woman with the vaguest of facial expressions and subtle line readings.

    Oh, and is the lack of “Milk” and “Revolutionary Road” love surprising to anyone else?

  • 7 12-08-2008 at 1:34 am

    The InSneider said...

    Rob, no, because of those films were problematic for me and felt like they justmissed their intended marks. And Kris, everyone’s entitled to their opinion but are you insinuating that the cast of Doubt isn’t worthy of the ensemble award because they’re completely deserving. In fact, I think this list is pretty great. I’m loving the Rachel love as well.

  • 8 12-08-2008 at 1:46 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Considering I think Streep was borderline bad and chewed a lot of unnecessary scenery, Philip Seymour Hoffman seemed to have no idea how to tackle his character, and Amy Adams wasn’t called on to do much (though is fine enough in the part), then yeah, I’m not just insinuating, I’m saying it: the “Doubt” ensemble does not deserve this award.

    And any talk of Winger this year has been, in my view, silly. She was absolutely terrible in the part. Her “Oscar clip” scene is laugh-out-loud bad and not near the authenticity Demme and company thought it would be, while the film itself isn’t worth much beyond high marks for DeWitt and a pat on the back for Anne Hathaway. It’s quickly over-taking “WALL-E” for designation as the year’s most overrated.

    My two cents.

  • 9 12-08-2008 at 3:27 am

    James said...

    Brian–Good on you. How someone could prefer Winger just standing there to DeWitt’s Rachel unwillingly exhuming painful memories is beyond me.

    Rob–No, she’s nowhere near “as impressive”. Winger was just a reactionary character, who exchanged dialogue opposite Hathaway, DeWitt, and Irwin to make them all look even better. DeWitt, on the other hand, was somehow able to convey Rachel’s selfishness and desire to be in the spotlight (and take it away from Kym), while also displaying warmth, compassion, and so much more. In fact, I’m with Tapley and various others I forget at the moment that DeWitt stole the movie for me.

    Kris–I’m more excited to see Doubt now with all of the mixed reactions. I’m pleased to know that Streep’s stock has plummeted a bit (though I wouldn’t say disappeared, nom-wise–a little too irrash at this point), as I had doubts all along about her winning again and Hoffman getting a nom, period. I wonder if the latter will be left off….Could be just the opening needed for Shannon on my predix (or Franco for yours, but I know where you stand there).

    And I completely agree here about Winger. The “You were good to him!” rant rang false. This ain’t the ’80s and she shouldn’t get nominated for slugging and cockblocking her daughter from cigarettes. No.

    Here’s my debate question: Whether or not Winger gets nominated, whose nomination would be worse?: Hers or Ruby Dee’s.

    This should be enlightening.

  • 10 12-08-2008 at 4:45 am

    McGuff said...

    This will be long. I apologize.

    I have a problem with “Rachel Getting Married” having awards success. There, I said it. The reason, of course, is precedence. If “SherryBaby” was shut out of awards season in 2006, a year with a solid-but-not-spectacular slate of movies, there’s no way that “Rachel Getting Married” should get Oscar talk in 2008. Not enough separates the two movies, and for a critical organization to honor “Rachel” after not mentioning “SherryBaby” in 2006, is just hypocritical. Witness:

    In both films, a female recovering drug addict has just been released from (different types of) rehabilitation. Both return to their families, flanked most significantly by a hot-and-cold relationship with a sibling. Both females are desperate for affection; neither takes long to get busy.

    There are differences in the movies, of course, but even those are borne out of similarities. Fathers play different roles in the two films — both eccentric roles borne from complete opposite motivations. Children play the largest role in shaping both lead characters, but in “Rachel,” the child in question is never on screen.

    As for the particulars of who is better in these varied roles, well, I think that’s a personal decision. I know I prefer Rosemarie DeWitt to Brad William Henke, and I know I don’t like what Bill Irwin did with his character, at all. Debra Winger provides a character that “SherryBaby” doesn’t have an answer for, though perhaps that’s the role Giancarlo Esposito provides. The real question is Maggie Gyllenhaal vs. Anne Hathaway. And if anything, I just can’t imagine either winning an award that the other doesn’t/didn’t.

    But to be frank, I can’t think of two character arcs that have been more similar in recent history. And while both are inexpensive indie films, “Rachel Getting Married” is enjoying much greater success … the result of which, I’m sure, is the hyperbolic difference in the familiarity critics have with the two directors — “Rachel” has been seen as a return to form for critical favorite Jonathan Demme, while “SherryBaby” merely offered a newcomer in Laurie Collyer.

    If nothing else, it sure makes me wonder what Collyer thinks of Jenny Lumet’s script, if not the slew of awards Demme’s movie is about to collect. I know what I do.

  • 11 12-08-2008 at 5:01 am

    Rob Scheer said...

    Is anyone able to talk with any sort of nuance on here, and not just jump to absurd extremes and plant their feet definitively?

    Winger was “absolutely terrible”? Come the fuck on.

    We can just definitively say Winger wasn’t as impressive as DeWitt because she’s playing a more reactionary character? What if someone was more impressed with her doing so much with so little, and giving us tiny moments that subtly hint at the sort of mother she’s always been and how she’s shaped her daughters? No qualifiers, or “I thought…” or “I disagree”? Just if someone thinks she’s better, then, ‘No,’ they’re just wrong?

    Oh, and “Rachel Getting Married” is a much, much better film than “Sherrybaby.” Just because a film is “grittier” doesn’t automatically make it superior.

  • 12 12-08-2008 at 5:42 am

    James said...

    I see what you’re saying Rob, but then I suppose “in my eyes” (and countless others), they can’t judge a performance too well. Plus, everyone who is making a fuss is excited only because it’s Winger. Had it been any other actress, and not a former star’s return to screen after several years off, it would’ve been easily overlooked. All she was, was a prop.

    I second the SherryBaby comment though. That was mediocre, driven by a great performance. In RGM, there was a handful of excellent work.

  • 13 12-08-2008 at 6:38 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I’m right with Kris here — “Rachel” is rapidly becoming the year’s most overrated film for me. Stylish, diverting and well-acted by some, but hampered by an awfully glib, self-satisfied script that rarely takes its conflicts into unexpected directions.

    And I’m sorry, but, while I like Winger enormously as an actress, I agree that she is dreadful here. I blame Demme more than her though — she seems to have no idea what her motivations are in her “big scene”.

  • 14 12-08-2008 at 6:59 am

    nyla said...

    don’t they also have nominees?

  • 15 12-08-2008 at 7:01 am

    James said...

    I think you’re thinking of Chicago, possibly =).

  • 16 12-08-2008 at 7:03 am

    Liz said...

    I really liked “Rachel Getting Married,” but I definitely agree with those who thought Debra Winger was terrible. I kind of agree with Steve that people seem to be so excited that it’s DEBRA WINGER!!!! that the performance gets a pass.

    I also just saw “Happy-Go-Lucky.” Excellent. Will definitely be one of my favorites of the year. Both Sally Hawkins and Eddie Marsan absolutely deserve noms.

  • 17 12-08-2008 at 7:04 am

    James said...

    “I kind of agree with ***Steve*** that people seem to be so excited that it’s DEBRA WINGER!!!! that the performance gets a pass.”

    James =(.

  • 18 12-08-2008 at 7:25 am

    Liz said...

    D’oh. Don’t know what I was looking at. Sorry James.

  • 19 12-08-2008 at 7:27 am

    Silencio said...

    I go back and forth about Winger’s “big scene”. But I pretty much support it. I felt the emotion, and thought about that scene a good deal afterward.

    I feel RGM seems overrated because ppl are making extra effort to praise it since it seems to be under the radar. I think the direction and acting were better than the writing, though that was pretty good too. Rosemarie Dewitt and Bill Irwin were my favorite, though I’m grateful to Roger Ebert for pointing my attention to Anna Deveare Smith, too.

  • 20 12-08-2008 at 9:55 am

    James said...

    All is well, Liz ^_^.

  • 21 12-08-2008 at 10:30 am

    Jeremy said...

    I don’t see what makes Rachel any better than Pieces of April. It’s this year’s ugly, uncomfortable, poorly shot, family drama with one or two histrionic scenes, starring an undertalented ingenue.

    Thing is, no one’s as good as Clarkson managed to be in that. I am baffled.

  • 22 12-08-2008 at 10:39 am

    Adam said...

    That last comparison makes sense to me. Pieces of April may be unremarkable, but Rachel Getting Married is nothing short of excruciating. It makes me want to cry and drive my car into a tree.

  • 23 12-08-2008 at 11:06 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Rob: You can’t talk with nuanc about a role and a performance with absoutely NO nuance. So, yeah, she was terrible. The character seemed so imbalanced and without any reason, the leap to overreaction had no basis in any reality, truth’s or the film’s, and Winger had no handle whatsoever on the role.

    So, yeah, she was “absolutely terrible.” Sorry if you wanted a dissertation.

    And let me side with Guy. It’s Demme’s fault as much as Winger’s. He did not do right by her in this performance. Maybe there was “nuance” in the performacne, but he didn’t cut it into the film.

  • 24 12-08-2008 at 11:25 am

    The InSneider said...

    I wasn’t high on Winger either (didn’t understand what all the buzz was about – it might have even been better without her) but if I was going to give an ensemble award to a movie besides Doubt, it’s probably be the “overrated” Rachel Getting Married. And while the performances in Synecdoche, New York were all very strong, Kris, I would never in a million years give that cast a Best Ensemble award because the movie, um… sucked ass. A pretentious piece of shit you couldn’t pay me to watch again. But… I’m glad it has its fans so Charlie can sleep at night.

  • 25 12-08-2008 at 11:40 am

    Jeremy said...

    Vicki Cristina Barcelona would be an obvious choice for Best Ensemble.

    Bardem’s better in that than in NCFOM, Hall is a revelation, Scarlett segues nicely into the fold, and Cruz is rightfully a front-runner.

  • 26 12-08-2008 at 12:04 pm

    Agent69 said...

    Ewwwwwwwww at Meryl Streep win.

  • 27 12-08-2008 at 12:27 pm

    Aaron said...

    I agree with Jeremy that Vicky Cristina Barcelona deserves some Best Ensemble awards. It’s such an excellent movie with wonderful performances (yes, even Scarlett, I actually liked her in this one).

    And I actually really enjoyed Rachel Getting Married! I thought it was an absolutely brilliant movie about the cracks and flaws of American life. But yet again, that’s the great thing about film…not everyone has to like…I, for one, HATED lost in translation and will NEVER see what the fuss about that movie was. BAH!!!

    And I agree with the fact that Winger should not be nominated above DeWitt. I would be a little angry about that. But I did think Debra Winger gave a very good little performance. I thought she really underplayed it very well—everything about her performance was incredibly distant (which it should be)–every little nod, fake smile, and hesitant gesture (I’m thinking of the scene where she unwillingly puts her hand on everyone else’s to cut the wedding cake), illuminates the distance the woman feels with her family. Her “screaming” scene–I guess you could call it–was a lot more effective than people are giving credit. I thought it was incredibly powerful for the woman releases all the hurt, resentment, anger she feels toward her daughter Rachel. It was very cathartic almost. But, through all this, I agree with those that have said DeWitt nearly stole the whole movie. Like Sigourney Weaver said about her, “the best thing to say about (DeWitt) as that she doesn’t even give a performance”…so true…this woman’s incredible in the title role—matching Hathaway step by step and maybe even surpassing…

    …sorry for the long post…

  • 28 12-08-2008 at 12:29 pm

    Aaron said...

    o and btw Sherrybaby was a TERRIBLE film. There was a reason that one never caught on….dreadful…

  • 29 12-08-2008 at 3:03 pm

    Patrick said...

    Go Streep, go Ledger.

  • 30 12-08-2008 at 4:02 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Who said it was poorly shot? Maybe it wasn’t shot in the conventional flashy, highbrow style of many more prestigious films, but how in the world was it poorly shot? It provided some of the most unique, lyrical, authentic, and immersive cinematography I’ve seen the whole year. Really brought you in there.

  • 31 12-09-2008 at 12:02 am

    lulu8888 said...

    Aaron, I mostly agree with your assessment on RGM. But, why are so many people ignoring or hating on Hathaway’s incredible performance in this film. I loved how she didn’t make the character too flashy, charismatic and melodramatic. Also, I was very moved & mesmerized on the way Anne meticulously underplayed her character, so the audience can see her scars, complexity, and loneliness. Her performance still haunts me.

    I still want Mr. Bill Irwin to get some award love. He is astonishing in RGM.

  • 32 12-09-2008 at 12:50 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Can someone explain the love for Bill Irwin’s performance to me? I’m not being snarky … I’m genuinely interested to read an explanation, because the performance did zilch for me.

  • 33 12-09-2008 at 4:00 am

    Andrew L. said...

    He’s brought several laughs. The dishwashing scene is kind of “oscar clip”-ish (despite being a dishwashing scene).

    Can’t say he gave the best supporting role of the year, but amusing nevertheless.