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February 27, 2007
The Joker and Two-Face at the Independent Spirits

Eckhart has also revealed, FYI, that Harvey will become Two-Face in the new film, "The Dark Knight." For the longest time that aspect of the story was rumored to happen at the beginning of the third film.



Why Jack Was Bald

This just occured to me, and it seems so obvious that someone somewhere might have already put two and two together, but isn't Jack Nicholson playing a terminally ill cancer patient alongside Morgan Freeman in "The Bucket List?" THAT makes sense...

Is it just me?

Does "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" look pretty badass or what??

Paramount isn't taking a moment's rest...

Two big press releases in the inbox this morning, one about "The Long Way," Bill Monahan's project for Martin Scorsese and producer Mick Jagger which has been covered elsewhere, the other for the new "Star Trek" film, set to be directed by...brace yourself...J.J. Abrams.

February 26, 2007
Haggis and Moresco's "The Black Donnellys"

I'm 19 minutes in and I'm already bored silly. I was bored silly 9 minutes in even. It seems so...derivitive.

Well, that's okay. One more show I don't have to watch. And I'm *this* close to dumping the laugh riot that is "Lost" (oh how the mighty fall), while "Jericho" isn't ringing my bell like it once was. The only thing I look forward to with anticipation is "Friday Night Lights" (best show on television) and "The Office" (which will be gone for a while).

But...one word: "ENTOURAGE." Bring it on.

Congrats to Gerard

For tying at #2 amongst Oscar prognosticators.

Regarding the year in advance

I found out earlier this week that James Mangold's remake "3:10 to Yuma" was pulled back from 2008 and into 2007 once again by Lionsgate, so it is not represented throughout the contenders listings, charts, etc. But...whatever. I'll deal with that later. Just FYI, I'm well aware.

Winner Predictions?! WTF?!

That's right, as a companion to this year's year in advance Oscar article, I've lept head-long off the deep end and actually decided I'd try to predict the winners a full 365 days before next year's Oscar telecast.

What exactly is wrong with me? God only knows, but it feels good to get all these thoughts out in the open. Kind of a deep cleansing before the post-Oscar vacation months where you'd better believe, the last thing on my mind will be little golden statues.

So, here's an appalingly offensive early, early...early look at how I think the Oscars could shape up next year. Expect each and every one of these predictions to be wrong. Swear by it, in fact.

So long for now:

Best Picture: "The Kite Runner"
Best Director: Marc Forster, "The Kite Runner"
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, "Reservation Road"
Best Actress: Vanessa Redgrave, "Evening"
Best Supporting Actor: Philip Bosco, "The Savages"
Best Supporting Actress: Helena Bonham Carter, "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Sreet"
Best Adapted Screenplay: "The Kite Runner"
Best Original Screenplay: "Michael Clayton"
Best Animated Feature: "Ratatouille"
Best Art Direction: "His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass"
Best Cinematography: "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Best Costume Design: "The Golden Age"
Best Film Editing: "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Best Makeup: "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Best Music - Original Score: "The Kite Runner"
Best Music - Original Song: "Ratatouille"
Best Sound Editing: "Beowulf"
Best Sound Mixing: "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Best Visual Effects: "Spider-Man 3"

Last note of the night...

Yeah, so I dropped the ball like a true champ on Best Picture. But I'm happy to have made some of the upset calls, including leading the charge on Alan Arkin back when the nominations landed. Lots of folks eventually followed suit on that, and it all paid off.

I nailed the Mellissa Etheridge song, expecting the same group who rocked out to Bob Dylan and Eminem in recent years to keep their buzz going.

And I guess David Carr and I began thinking "The Lives of Others" would trump "Pan's Labyrinth" in Best Foreign Film around the same time, so I'm happy sharing that brain space with the Carpetbagger.

All in all, some nice gets, some steep misses, but really, this was a tough ceremony to get a hold of. All things considered, I'm glad it's over.

Moving on to year in advance stuff in the morning and Gerard's "Tech Support" wrap-up soon enough. Good night, and I hope you enjoyed the show.

Apologies, Michael

I guess you were right. If they couldn't even give the fucker Best Cinematography, I guess there's no way you could have squeezed a Best Pic nomination out of 'em.


February 25, 2007
A Beautiful Thing
Live Blogging the 79th


9:08 PM: FUCK YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!

And it looks like Jack is presenting Best Pic again.

8:56 PM: Couldn't thank your husband?

8:44 PM: If "The Departed" wins Best Pic, I will be ECSTATIC. Much deserved editing win for Thelma, and we know at least one more (making it three) is coming the film's way.

8:39 PM: For a Michael Mann project, that look at visions of America in cinema was pretty damn slight and lacking any sense of creativity. Hmph, maybe he didn't care enough to take it seriously. The Academy didn't invite him back to the board of governors after all...and that, like, never happens.

8:30 PM: This is just a big ole' liberal fuck fest. I love it.

8:27 PM: Okay, the "Dreamgirls" number was the best part of the night. Very, VERY cool. Nice work, Bill.

8:22 PM: JHud is gonna pop outta that dress...

8:15 PM: Big congrats, Michael. Inspirational to screenwriters, whether "Little Miss Sunshine" is loved on whole or in specific quarters.

In other news, these shadow things are fucking STUPID.

8:08 PM: I think "Babel" just won Best Picture.

8:01 PM: Fuckin' BRAVO!!!

7:59 PM: No idea what he's saying but I could watch him talk like that all night long.

7:52 PM: I love how Clint gets a little nervous at the Oscars every year, presenting or accepting. It cracks me up. He's just a "dude," after all. Anyway, THIS is the most deserved "Oscar" we're going to see all night long. Morricone is God's gift to music and the cinema.

7:36 PM: Much as I dislike the film and don't consider her performance the cat's pajamas, I really believe Jennifer Hudson's wonderment this season. But damn...get to Jennifer Holiday a LITTLE quicker in your acceptance speech, girl.

7:31 PM: Cate Blanchett was shocked, but I wasn't. I'm telling you, the people who vote in that branch do NOT like fantasy.

7:24 PM: Ken Watanabe looks like a fucking GOD.

7:13 PM: Sigh, well, a little technical difficulty on the main page, now the whole thing is listed in one big entry. Anyway...

I KNEW, KNEW, KNEW!!! something was going to come and steal that cinematography award. UGH!!! Bullshit.

6:45 PM: Honestly, I didn't like ANY of the animated feature nominees. But...whatever. Sorry for John Lasseter. Funny that the animated categories provided upsets so far.

6:38 PM: Now THAT was a hilarious bit. Come on, Al. PLEASE!

6:24 PM: Even though he read it, that was fucking beautiful. Good on you, Alan.

6:20 PM: What the fuck, why can't people just SPEAK FROM THE HEART!? It's not that hard.

6:16 PM: What a sedate ceremony. And jeez, way to fuck up Alan Robert Murray's name AND the fact that he was a nominee. Sigh...

6:12 PM: Starting to get a "Babel" feeling. Hmm...

6:07 PM: What's the thing about the order of the clips again? The last one shown is the winner? Or that's the way it's turned out the last few years?

Also, can't believe "The Little Matchgirl" lost. Bogus. I fell asleep during "The Danish Poet." And Ari Sandel, way to OBVIOUSLY REHEARSE AND REGURGITATE YOUR SPEECH. Your film still blows. Same for it's empty "themes."

5:55 PM: Sigh...

5:49 PM: 1 for 1. You know, Maggie might work out in "The Dark Knight."

5:43 PM: That Gore joked slayed. Probably the best Oscar joke in YEARS.

5:40 PM: Holy shit! Jack is BALD!!!

5:36 PM: Winners posted at the main page. Rattling off thoughts here.

Errol Morris's film was hilarious. It's a great way to wrap up a lot of faces I've encountered throughout the season. Personal fave: Peter Morgan. Always funny. "Any sexual thought about the Queen is treasonous."


EDIT (1:10PM): Good lord, Finke is now losing her shit over what she calls "hair splitting" in the worst "I WAS right about such and such" post I've ever seen. Seriously...who really gives a fuck about ANY of this?

EARLIER: Looks like a lot of Nikki Finke's "surprises" and "spoilers" were WRONG. Credibility can take only so many hits...

Andy Trudeau wraps up his look at the Best Original Score nominees

Check it out.

One more, where it all began...
Few times have I outright wept in a film...

And those notes had a lot to do with it:

You know you're famous when...

The Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas:

February 24, 2007
"People scare better when they're dying."
Best Picture Presenter?

The Independent Spirit Awards are starting up about now, but they bore me. So I thought I'd do a little research on the Best Picture presenters and see what kind of trends we come across. Here are the presenters of the last 25 Best Picture Oscars:

2005: Jack Nicholson ("Crash")
2004: Babara Streisand ("Million Dollar Baby")
2003: Steven Spielberg ("The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King")
2002: Kirk Douglas and Michael Douglas ("Chicago")
2001: Tom Hanks ("A Beautiful Mind")
2000: Michael Douglas ("Gladiator")
1999: Clint Eastwood ("American Beauty")
1998: Harrison Ford ("Shakespeare in Love")
1997: Sean Connery ("Titanic")
1996: Al Pacino ("The English Patient")
1995: Sidney Poitier ("Braveheart")
1994: Robert De Niro and Al Pacino ("Forrest Gump")
1993: Harrison Ford ("Schindler's List")
1992: Jack Nicholson ("Unforgiven")
1991: Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor ("The Silence of the Lambs")
1990: Barbara Streisand ("Dances with Wolves")
1989: Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson ("Driving Miss Daisy")
1988: Cher ("Rain Man")
1987: Eddie Murphy ("The Last Emperor")
1986: Dustin Hoffman ("Platoon")
1985: John Huston and Akira Kurosawa ("Out of Africa")
1984: Lawrence Olivier ("Amadeus")
1983: Frank Capra ("Terms of Endearment")
1982: Carol Burnett ("Gandhi")
1981: Loretta Young ("Chariots of Fire")

So right off the bat, Spielberg/"Rings," Douglases/"Chicago" and Hanks/"Mind" stand out as interesting couplings. I recall Michael Douglas being visibly pissed when "Gladiator" won and a slight look of confusion on Harrison Ford's face when "Shakespearte in Love" beat "Saving Private Ryan."

What is striking is how dominated this listing is by white power players, almost all male actors. The presenters that would fit that bill this year are Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson, John Travolta and Tom Cruise. Maybe they'll be willing to bump Leonardo DiCaprio or George Clooney up to that status. Cruise will probably give Sherry Lansing her award, but maybe Meryl Streep or Barbara Streisand (again) could step up. Jodie Foster? Gulp...Al Gore?

Anyway, interesting to look back, nonetheless. Too bad you don't see something as cool as Kurosawa giving out awards anymore.

Best moment of the season...

Anne Thompson is my hero. Let me count the ways.

There was a wonderful little gathering tonight at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Westwood for Ennio Morricone, this year's recipient of the Honorary Oscar. Frankly, the guy has deserved award after award for some of the best film music in cinematic history, but this will have to do. Shaking his hand was good enough for me. But "Man with the Harmonica" playing over the sound system throughout the evening was comforting to say the least.

But why is Ms. Thompson my hero? Seriously, if you're at a party, and Anne is your friend (and she has a drink or two in her), you couldn't ask for a better scenario. Long story short, Clint Eastwood showed up. I wanted to make his acquaintance. Before I know it, Anne is shuffling me along with her up the stairs to a somewhat private room including Eastwood, Morricone and a lot of press. God bless her.

She introduces me to Mr. Eastwood as, essentially, the guy who is predicting his film to win Best Picture. Clint and I had some fun back and forth for about five minutes, talking about everything from "The Departed" to "Once Upon a Time in the West," but regardless, meeting this icon has become the highlight of my time here in LA since I moved here over a year and a half ago. However frail he may surprisingly seem when you're faced with him, he still has that Eastwood face. It was totally surreal.

I don't typically get star struck,...but Jesus. I was silly putty. Thank you, Anne. You rock my world.

Otherwise, I happened to randomly bump into Geza Toth, Oscar nomianted for his delightful animated short "Maestro." He has a good head on his shoulders, is apparently taking some meetings while in town and, if we're lucky, maybe he'll be working in the animated feature world before long. Though I'm in love with "The Little Matchgirl," "Maestro" is just the sort of film that could slip past the two Disney giants and sneak a win. Let's see what happens.

(By the way, watching Anne interrogate Morricone through his translator like a true journalist is fun and educational times indeed. I'm looking forward to whatever piece she writes concerning his creation of "The Ecstasy of Gold.")

February 23, 2007
Gerard's Final Predictions

Yes, here we go. I'm sort of a coward and playing it safe for the most part. But maybe that's the denoument we'll receive to a wacky year?

I already put my thoughts on the tech categories on the table yesterday. I'll just add that I fully expect to get Original Score wrong. But no matter what I'd predict there, I'd expect to get it wrong.

Actress and Supporting Actress really aren't worth discussing as far as I'm concerned. Adapted Screenplay and Director seem to have been set for "The Departed" for quite some time. Original Screenplay is somewhat more open, I will concede, but it appears that "Little Miss Sunshine" inspires more passion, despite my preference for the critically acclaimed screenplay of "The Queen."

Truth be told, I'm getting a last minute O'Toole vibe but everytime I've had this hunch all season, nothing has come to fruition. And my instinct tells me Arkin will pull it off but given that Murphy has literally been my prediction for eleven months, I'm not going to backtrack now.

As for Best Picture, I've been toying with the possibilities for weeks. You don't need me to tell you that cases can be made for any of the nominees. But fundamentally "The Departed," though obviously not a typical Best Picture winner, has ultimately struck me as the one that makes the most sense as triumphing come the end of the night. It seems to have the package of mainstream appeal, cross-branch appeal, the right other nominations and the right other categories in which to emerge victorious.

Though it goes without saying that I could make equally plausible cases for victories by "Babel" or "Little Miss Sunshine." It'll be exciting; we won't know until the envelope is open.

"The Queen" is the sort of typical compromise choice but despite being my pick, I'm doubtful that many people feel passionately enough to vote for it. "Letters from Iwo Jima" would truly surprise me; I simply don't think it's had enough time to build. But hey...a win still wouldn't floor me.

So with 56 hours to go, here's where I place my bets...

Best Picture: "The Departed" (alt. "Babel")
Best Director: Martin Scorsese, "The Departed" (alt. Clint Eastwood, "Letters from Iwo Jima")
Best Actor: Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland" (alt. Peter O'Toole, "Venus")
Best Actress: Helen Mirren, "The Queen" (alt. Meryl Streep, "The Devil Wears Prada"...as if)
Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy, "Dreamgirls" (alt. Alan Arkin, "Little Miss Sunshine")
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls" (alt. Abigail Breslin, "Little Miss Sunshine")
Best Adapted Screenplay: "The Departed" (alt. "Children of Men")
Best Original Screenplay: "Little Miss Sunshine" (alt. "The Queen")
Best Art Direction: "Pan's Labyrinth" (alt. "Dreamgirls")
Best Cinematography: "Children of Men" (alt. "Pan's Labyrinth")
Best Costume Design: "Dreamgirls" (alt. "Curse of the Golden Flower")
Best Film Editing: "The Departed" (alt. "Babel")
Best Makeup: "Pan's Labyrinth" (alt. "Apocalypto")
Best Music - Original Score: "The Queen" (alt. "Notes on a Scandal")
Best Music - Original Song: 'I Need to Wake Up' from "An Inconvenient Truth" (alt. 'Listen' from "Dreamgirls")
Best Sound Editing: "Letters from Iwo Jima" (alt. "Flags of Our Fathers")
Best Sound Mixing: "Dreamgirls" (alt. "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"...but really, the difference between #2 and #5 is very small in my opinon)
Best Visual Effects: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (alt. "Superman Returns")
Best Animated Feature: "Cars" (alt. "Happy Feet")
Best Foreign-Language Feature: "Pan's Labyrinth" (alt. "The Lives of Others")
Best Documentary Feature: "An Inconvenient Truth" (alt. "Deliver Us from Evil")
Best Documentary, Short Subject: "The Blood of Yingzhou District" (alt. ""Recycled Life")
Best Short Film, Animated: "The Little Matchgirl" (alt. "Lifted")
Best Short Film, Live Action: "West Bank Story" (alt. "Helmer & Son")

Final Winner Predictions

The column.

I'm fully prepared to eat crow on this one, but it's a year flimsy enough to shoot for the moon.

Gerard offered his final tech predictions yesterday, and should follow suit with his full listing here at The Blog sometime later today. As for me:

Best Picture: "Letters from Iwo Jima" (alt. "Little Miss Sunshine")
Best Director: Martin Scorsese, "The Departed" (alt. Clint Eastwood)
Best Actor: Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland" (alt. Peter O'Toole)
Best Actress: Helen Mirren, "The Queen" (alt. Meryl Streep)
Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin, "Little Miss Sunshine" (alt. Eddie Murphy)
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls" (alt. Abigail Breslin)
Best Adapted Screenplay: "The Departed" (alt. "Borat")
Best Original Screenplay: "Little Miss Sunshine" (alt. "The Queen")
Best Art Direction: "Pan's Labyrinth" (alt. "Dreamgirls")
Best Cinematography: "Children of Men" (alt. "Pan's Labyrinth")
Best Costume Design: "Dreamgirls" (alt. "Curse of the Golden Flower")
Best Film Editing: "Babel" (alt. "The Departed")
Best Makeup: "Pan's Labyrinth" (alt. "Apocalypto")
Best Music, Original Score: "The Queen" (alt. "Pan's Labyrinth")
Best Music, Original Song: "An Inconvenient Truth" (alt. "Cars")
Best Sound: "Dreamgirls" (alt. "Flags of Our Fathers")
Best Sound Editing: "Letters from Iwo Jima" (alt. "Flags of Our Fathers")
Best Visual Effects: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (alt. "Superman Returns")
Best Animated Feature Film: "Cars" (alt. "Happy Feet")
Best Foreign Language Film: "The Lives of Others" (alt. "Pan's Labyrinth")
Best Documentary, Feature: "An Inconvenient Truth" (alt. "Deliver Us from Evil")
Best Documentary, Short Subject: "Recycled Life" (alt. "The Blood of Yingzhou District")
Best Short Film, Animated: "The Little Matchgirl" (alt. "Lifted")
Best Short Film, Live Action: "West Bank Story" (alt. "The Saviour")

And now, we wait.


February 22, 2007
To Blog or not to Blog?

Does anyone really care whether I Blog the Oscars or not? I can't decide whether I should subject both myself and the readership to that kind of madness. Either/or, really. I know message boards crash and some sites don't have commenting options, so maybe it'd be beneficial for those who want to chat it up.

Post-Oscars Goings On

Final predicitons come tomorrow, the awards re on Sunday, year in advance predictions hit Monday, and then it's over! I feel it important to indicate, however, that in the months directly following the ceremony, activity will be limited here at In Contention, if existent at all.

I will be taking an extended vacation, taking in fifty states on a much-anticipated road trip. I might log some thoughts here at The Blog here and there, but most likely, it'll be a wasteland. We'll likely pick the ball back up in July and start this whole mess over again, but I thought it important to let the readership know what to expect.

Gerard may keep the discussion alive here on The Blog if he so wishes, but I wouldn't begrudge him abandoning ship for a while either. This time of year is so taxing, after all.

In any case...three more days!

February 21, 2007
Do yourself a favor

And see "Maestro" on YouTube. I did so yesterday and whenever I think about it, a huge smile comes to my face. And, even more impressive, it does not wear thin on repeat viewings.

I still prefer "The Little Matchgirl" but "Maestro" would make a VERY fine winner.

February 19, 2007
The Wide Open Races

By my count:

Picture, Original Screenplay, Costume Design, Original Score, Original Song, Short Film (Animated), Sound Editing, Sound Mixing.

Should be an interesting night.

February 18, 2007
And now everything is clear

"The Departed" and "Babel" have TIED for the ACE. Crazy. Gotta love this year's Oscar race.

The ACE win for "Dreamgirls" is not surprising in the slightest while "Children of Men" triumphing at the ASC is even less so (yet still extremely deserved).

That Animated Category (Part II)

I made a similar rant a while back but seriously...

Pixar is a fantastic studio but "Cars" is very middling. "Happy Feet" is grating and meandering (great music aside). And while I give "Monster House" kudos for being different from seemingly all the CGI movies we are bombarded with, it's very uneven and pretty haywire - and not in a good way.

I really wish this category would be dumped, even if I'm curious to see how Groening and Bird perform this year.

Those Guilds

Thursday I'll dive into the effect that the ADG, CDG and CAS had on the Oscar race but for now I'll just say this: my initial reaction is one of a considerable deal of surprise.

"Dreamgirls" taking the CAS is expected. The competition all had major strikes against it. "Pan's Labyrinth"'s Eugenio Caballero and Lula Huete taking the ADG and CDG awards for Fantasy can't be considered surprises either. It's also nice to see Peter Lamont deservedly take the ADG for Contemporary despite being on a film with no Oscar nominations.

But Consolata Boyle ("The Queen") beating out guild favourite Patricia Field ("The Devil Wears Prada") is a considerable upset as far as I'm concerned.

Though it's "Curse of the Golden Flower" taking not only Costume Design (over the likes of Sharen Davis and Milena Canonero) but also Art Direction (where it isn't even Oscar-nominated) that is the true shocker. I didn't think enough people would have seen or appreciated the film. I suppose Sony really does know how to handle their foreign titles. Even if I consider this work to be WAY over-the-top, these wins are impressive.

Tonight we have the ASC, where "Children of Men" and Lubezki should triumph with ease (watch out for "The Black Dahlia" and Zsigmond as a dark horse, though) and the ACE. Cases could be made for any of "United 93," "Babel" and "The Departed" in the Drama category; the winner will likely take the Oscar. Logically one would think "Dreamgirls" takes Musical or Comedy but "Little Miss Sunshine" love paying off in a victory here would not stun me at all.

February 17, 2007
Most Difficult to Predict

What do you reckon is the hardest category to predict...one where cases could be made for all the contenders? Many will shout back "Best Picture" (and I'll concede it's quite fun) but to me it's really Original Score. Ironically, this was also the case for the nominations.

I'll get into why I think this in more detail on Thursday's column but I honestly feel cases could be made for all five nominees. And with "The Painted Veil" and "The Fountain" out of the running, I'd honestly be satisfied with all five of them as well.

Vegas, baby.

I'm taking in an extended weekend off the strip, so activity will be few and far between. FYI.

February 15, 2007
Aaron Eckhart is Harvey Dent! Fuck yeah!

Thanks to Mr. Gittes who posted this in the comments section. The Hollywood Reporter has the news.

NOW we're talkin'!!!

February 14, 2007
My single favorite part of the Oscar season...

I've listened to Andy Trudeau's analysis of the Original Score nominees on NPR since the 2001 season, and each and every year, it's a delight. Take a listen to part one of this year's look.

February 13, 2007
"Goya's Ghosts" finally lands domestic distribution.

According to The Hollywood Reporter. The lucky distrib: Samuel Goldwyn Films. Sayonara.

We still have two more weeks left in this season. But, as usual, the year in advance column will land the day after the Oscars.

So apparently Maggie Gyllenhaal is confirmed for "The Dark Knight"

And, I mean, I really wish they'd just write Rachel Dawes out of the script rather than recast. This world has a wealth of love interests for the Caped Crusader. But I dig the casting decision regardless. Too bad she wasn't there from the start.

February 12, 2007
Out of a Hat

So I've gotten so bored with the suspense around this year's five-horse Best Picture race that today, in full and total lameness and boredom, I decided I'd pull from a hat, and whatever I pulled, I'd predict it.

I really wish it WASN'T "Letters from Iwo Jima" that I pulled, but there it is. I guess I'm sticking with it to the bitter end.

La dee da.

"Sunshine" and "Departed" win WGA

And for some reason...I just don't care. Awards fatigue, maybe.

But the band I saw tonight kicked ass.

February 11, 2007
Fellowship. Damn right.
Forest Whitaker's BAFTA acceptance speech...

...was definitely the best I've seen him give all season. It seems he's finally calmed down a bit.

I'm watching the BAFTAs and...

Eva Green's hair just scared the living feces out of me.

February 10, 2007

I personally know three people who voted for or plan to vote for "Letters from Iwo Jima" for Best Picture. Another is on the fence between "The Departed" and "Iwo Jima," looking like the latter.

Additionally I know someone...who knows two other people...who voted for "Iwo."

On top of this, one of my four claims "Little Miss Sunshine" is the talk of the actors (big branch, that - and we could have guessed as much given the SAG). He/she seems convinced the little yellow bus has it in the bag.

What does all of this mean? Nothing. I'm just bored. But I do think it is important to realize that voters will be taking their vote seriously this year. No one is going to think a vote for the film they REALLY want to win is a throw away, because all five horses are in definitive play. Whatever wins Best Picture will be voted as such from a place of passion.

Column on Monday.

David's lunch with Guillermo Arriaga

I'm loving these now. And Guillermo is a treat. I spoke to him again a few weeks back at the Four Seasonss and should be cobbling together a profile in due time, but in the meantime, here's Poland's interogation.

February 09, 2007
The Queen gets NASTY

This is hilarious, and definitely NOT work safe.

February 08, 2007
R.I.P. Anna Nicole Smith


"It's just one fucking thing after another."

A great line from "The History Boys," but also applicable to the current meandering season of "Lost." I just caught up with last night's episode and, seriously...these people have no idea where this story is heading. That was the worst episode of the series.

Three Amigos Minus One

So this Sofitel Three Amigos event last night was great. Lots of names, lots of inter-studio shenanigans, lots of drinking, lots of eating.

Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu grabbed the mic for a quick song, offered their apologies for Alfonso Cuaron's absense (get well soon), then blended back into the crowd of admirers. Ron Pearlman turned out, as would be expected, but so did Gina Gershon, Rosanna Arquette, Benicio del Toro, Catherine O'Hara, an interesting array of celebs, really.

And I managed to get a "we'll see" out of Aaron Eckart regarding his potential casting in "The Dark Knight" later in the evening at the bar. "We'll see" is well and good, but "Where did you hear that?" really raised my eyebrow. I think it's the best rumored casting for the Harvey Dent role we've come across since Liev Schreiber, so here's hoping Nolan lands him for the part.

How did this turn into a "Dark Knight" post? Oh, right - I'm a Batman dork.

Anyway, this was a first, three studios pulling together to put on an event like this. It was nice talking to the celebs, but really, meeting and greeting a lot of the peripheral nominees was the real treat. Of course, it's always a pleasure to speak with Adriana Barraza, her supportive husband in tow. I had a chance to chat with Stephen Mirrione on nominations morning via telephone, but it was cool bumping into him and co-nominee Douglas Crise and talking further. Chivo Lubezki was of course lurking about (and he suddenly reminds me of Alexandre Desplat for some reason), as was Guillermo Navarro. Gustavo Santaolalla was swamped with admirers, and I never did see Guillermo Arriaga, but I think he was around.

All in all, a unique event. Guillermo del Toro is such a big kid, it was awesome finally meeting him face to face. But you won't catch him thinking about the Oscars too heavily. He's just looking for a good time, after all. When he pointed to a lamp shade and said "I'm going to get drunk and wear that fucking thing," I thought I was going to spit out my crabcake. That's my kind of guy!

February 07, 2007
An Evening of Words and Notes

Fox Searchlight, 42 West and Chasen & Company really put on a classy event last night at the Skirball Cultural Center here in Los Angeles for the Oscar nominated "Notes on a Scandal." It was called "An Evening of Words and Notes" and featured nominees Philip Glass and Patrick Marber, as well as novelist Zoe Heller.

The proceedings were eloquently moderated by Creative Screenwriting's Jeff Goldsmith and included the reading of passages from the novel (by Heller) followed by readings of the same sequences from the script (by Marber). Glass would chime in from time to time with his ponderings regarding building the characters represented on the screen through musical composition.

It's really a delight to watch Glass cut loose, idiosyncracies and all, on the his creative processes. He hopped over to the piano from time to time to elaborate points, but the real treat of the night was the final reading, which included Mr. Glass's acting debut - in the role of 15 year old student Steven Connoly, of course.

To boot, Marber reads material with a rousing grandeur. Seeing him go back and forth with Ms. Heller was an absolute treat. And as you can imagine, Marber discussing the decisions he made in the adaptation process, reasoning behind certain changes, etc., made for captivating conversation for any fellow writer. The best line of the night, however, had to come from Heller as she initially pulled out her novel for the first reading. Regarding Marber's notes decorating the margins (it was his working copy of the book), Heller was amused by the words "What's the point?" scribbled next to more than a few passages.

Such is the process of adaptation. Amping up the drama here, withholding information there. It really is an interesting transition from page to screen and a deserving nomination for Marber. It was, of course, great chatting with him once more, however briefly.

The whole gang was nice enough to stick around afterward and sign copies of the novel, screenplay and soundtrack for the crowd. Not to mention all those apple-shaped candles going around (Searchlight has cornered the trinket market this year). Glass, however, had to slip out early and catch a flight.

A well-organized, classy evening on the whole. This is an Oscar campaign.

February 06, 2007
A Twist of Irony

If you looked at the group photo of nominees from yesterday's luncheon, you'll notice that Alexandre Desplat and Greg P. Russell were paired beside each other. They were also paired together here.

What are the odds?

The week that matters...

Clint Eastwood, Jennifer Hudson, Mark Wahlberg and Penelope Cruz are all scheduled for "The Tonight Show" this week. Nothing on Letterman. Didn't check daytime.

February 05, 2007
Poland talks to Jackie Earle Haley

A great segment of "Lumnch with David." Great time of year. It's such a joy talking to nominees, and this is a great idea, to record one of these casual meet and greets:

Okaaaay, that was stupid...

Yeah, the first few hours of this season of "24" rocked, but the last few shows are leaving that slight vomit taste in my mouth. Who's writing this stuff? STRETCH!


Everyone's probably read this now.

Greed. And bullshit. Two choice words to sum it up.

I got a letter back in the Oscar Central days, but things were, of course, different, considering I wasn't making money on the site back then. But jeez, the Academy would do well to be so associated with Sasha.

Fuckers. Fight the power!

No lessons learned?

In today's Variety, a giant two page spread: "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Filming Begins Februrary 5, 2007."

Yes, that's today. Fit with a credits listing at the bottom, a logo image - it was damn near a poster. The only cast member credited that can't be seen on IMDb at the moment is Christopher Lee.

Now, I understand, of course, the need to drum up some interest in something. But this, again, is Paramount. We all know how loudly they banged last year - and throughout. And we all know how that turned out. That's all I'm saying.

If the press is given a set visit later this month, we know we're in for trouble.

Year in advance Oscar predictions will land the day after the Oscars, FYI.

February 03, 2007
Promoting "The Number 23"

Got this odd email this afternoon - but all the "23's" were omitted:

Man convicted after girlfriend's fatal 23-story fall

The Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania

The man who told police he dangled his girlfriend by her wrists before she fell 23 stories to her death during drunken horseplay was convicted Friday of involuntary manslaughter.

Kevin P. Eckenrode, 26, was acquitted of the more serious crime of third-degree murder in the Feb. 25 death of Rachel Kozlusky, 23, who fell from his apartment window after they had been drinking heavily for hours.

Eckenrode faces up to five years in prison, although a prosecutor said a sentence of three to 12 months is more likely under sentencing guidelines.

Eckenrode and his lawyer, William Costopoulos, exchanged brief nods after the jury announced the verdict, and Costopoulos said he was "very pleased."

"It's been hard on him, it's been hard on his mother and it's been hard on the family," Costopoulos said afterward. He said Eckenrode did not want to go to trial but could not accept a murder conviction.

Costopoulos had argued Kozlusky was extremely drunk and had taken too great a risk.

The prosecutor argued Eckenrode's stories to police were inconsistent.

Jennifer Storm, director of the local victim and witness assistance program, said Kozlusky's family found the verdict acceptable.

"'Not guilty' today would have been devastating," she said.

Charting the buzz as it comes around the bend...

1. "Letters from Iwo Jima"
2. "The Queen"
3. "Little Miss Sunshine"
4. "Babel"
5. "The Departed"

Column on Monday.

February 02, 2007

I know, I know. But it's just a lazy week, at least as far as writing goes. That doesn't mean I don't have material coming. Phone conversation with Gustavo Santaolalla this morning. Coffee with Adriana Barraza this afternoon (she looks lovely and in a new way every time I see her). Finishing up the pieces on "The Queen" and "Babel" for the coming weeks. Meanwhile, face time with Patrick Marber and Alfonso Cuaron at the top of the week. A "Three Amigos" gathering. A "Notes on a Scandal" event with nominees Marber, Philip Glass and novelist Zoe Heller. Lots to chew on.

We'll be back to normal with a new Oscar column Monday. But the Gurus of Gold are back up and running at Movie City News for those foaming at the mouth.

Harvey Dent and the DGA

The Directors Guild announces tomorrow (Scorsese can't lose this...can he?), but the only thing I really care about is the movement on "The Dark Knight" casting. It seems Aaron Eckart is in the mix to potentially play Harvey Dent (but I still think whoever gets the job will come out of left field, like Ledger did), while Emily Blunt and Maggie Gyllenhaal are possibilities to replace Katie Holmes in the Rachel Dawes character.

This aspect of the scenario is a nightmare to me. I hope it doesn't prove that the brothers Nolan are relying on that character because they can't inject a love story otherwise. There's plenty of material to draw from here. And I mean, jeez, you jumped the bullet losing Holmes. Just write the character out of the script, don't recast!!

February 01, 2007
"War" on the mind

You know, the more I watch it, the more I think about it - Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds" is not only one of the best films of 2005, but the most terrifying film of the last decade. Seriously. And I'm SO fine being alone on this.