Sunday, February 08, 2009

BAFTA Winners and Moments

The BAFTAs were once a shrug. Then a raised eyebrow. This year they were a scratched head. To me at least. So let me just speed through this. The last round of pre-Oscar winners. In other words, rehearsals for Oscar speeches. That's the only point.

Best Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Score & Sound (and more prizes later too)
Slumdog Millionaire
I wish there was a Best Craft Services Oscar so Slumdog Millionaire could win that one, too.

Best MakeUp, Visual Effects & Art Direction
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
I know there's been a lot of talk about Button going 0 for 13 at Oscar which would be a record but it's not going to happen. It should have an easy time in a couple of technical categories as it did here at BAFTA.

Carl Foreman Award
Steve McQueen Hunger
That is such an amazing movie and I happy that they recognized it in a small way. I still remember whole passages vividly. I hope it can make more than 2 dollars once they finally deign to release it properly around the world.


Introducing this award was the ridiculously lovely Thandie Newton who was introduced in exactly this way
recently attracted attention for her uncanny portrayal of Condoleeza Rice.
"attracted attention" heh. What a shrewdly diplomatic way to put it.

Original Screenplay Martin McDonagh In Bruges
Michael Sheen and David Frost (whom he played in Frost/Nixon) introduced this prize. How fun. I hope the Oscars get similarly frisky with their presenter pairings and choices.

Costume Design Michael O'Connor The Duchess
I imagine he'll be repeating this win at the Kodak (as will many of these winners come to think of it). He kissed his boyfriend. Awwww. I love that at awards shows.
Foreign Film I've Loved You So Long
Outstanding British Film Man on Wire
Rising Star (voted on by the public) Noel Clarke



Best Supporting Actress Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
James McAvoy (sigh) gave this one out. Heart. I hope we see Cruz repeat at the Oscars as I've said before. On the way up to the podium she grabbed Kate Winslet for a hug... And then Kate positively beamed with joy through Penélope's whole acceptance speech. I so want to understand the backstory here, don't you?

Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
I desperately hope that the Oscars will not follow or precede Ledger's win with the "In Memoriam" segment as SAG and BAFTA did. I understand the sweep since he was phenomenal in the movie but all of this "ooh, he's DEAD" fetishizing is so reductive. Quit proving to us that you only voted for him because he died. It's so cynical and disrespectful. Let's honor the greatness of the actor instead.

They weren't kidding around with their nickname the "Orange" Film Awards.
Or is that just my television? My god the set was garishly colored.

Best Actress Kate Winslet, The Reader
Kate has been under a lot of fire for her acceptance speeches this season and it's getting a little strange. Certainly many (one might even say "hundreds of people") before her have been worse at the "thank you"s when handed a statue. I think what's been happening is that a) she's the heir apparent to Meryl Streep in terms of nomination & statue pulling and anyone would suffer in comparison, speech-wise and b) she's been denied for so long that everyone who has ever had any interest in seeing her win has already imagined it too many times for the real thing to live up to their fantasy. I liked this speech: short, to the point, and genuinely happy for the honor.

Tribute to Terry Gilliam. Right on. Would Oscars ever honor someone that crazy? I guess the American equivalent might be a tribute honorary award for David Lynch?

Best Actor Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
This speech was a little like a rusty rehearsal embryonic version of his Golden Globe speech last month. Is Mickey Rourke time travelling? He'd be a great candidate for "do it all over again!" so good luck with that, Mickey. Two new bits for this speech though: One dedicating it to his late friend King Arthur himself, Richard Harris. The second was a hilarious bit about how brave Marisa Tomei was to take off her clothes and how much he liked looking at her do just that.


Best Director Danny Boyle Slumdog Millionaire
I wonder what's going to happen at the Oscars this year. It's SO suspenseful. On a less snarky note the speech was sincere and well spoken and there was a fun rousing "I love you Dad!" shout-out from his son in the crowd.

Best Picture Slumdog Millionaire
But more importantly: Angelina Jolie laughed in the banter intro! One might even say she giggled. Guffawed would be an overstatement. But she did seem genuinely amused by presenter Mick Jagger's joke that her brood should perform The Sound of Music on stage in a Movie Star / Rock Star Exchange Program.

She's been getting progressively more cheerful as we march towards Oscar. Will she eventually leap on chairs at the Kodak? That's what the last impossibly happy person did, right?

That's it.

P.S. I dread all the added weight the oft ridiculous BAFTAs will get after their sure to be excellent correlation to eventual Oscar wins this year. Do you?
*

66 comments:

m. said...

I thought Mickey's speech was heartfelt and amusing. Kate, on the other hand, continues to bore. And this time she seemed scared and just wanted to get off the stage.

Anonymous said...

Kate Winslet should be pulled from the stage with a giant hook to spare us from her continuous bore, bore, and more bore. Does she not have anything at all amusing to say.

NoNo said...

Aww...I think poor Kate was burned from the reception her speeches at the Golden Globes. Plus everyone thought that she was going to be this amazing speech giver a la Streep when we've hardly seen her win before. Hopefully, she gets something good on Oscar Night.

Now does anyone have any comments on the Grammy's or about how Chris Brown assaulted Rihanna!

adam k. said...

OK, the funny thing here that no one remembers is this: La Streep was NOT the greatest speech-giver either, back in her heyday. Her oscar speech for Sophie's Choice was nothing special. In fact, it was verging on corny, if I recall correctly. She's had decades to develop that ability. She only became awesome at it this past decade. It's something that can come only with being an old pro, being over the nerves, having nothing left to prove, and having built up the cred to say whatever the hell you want up there.

Please lay off Winslet. She's actually an above-average speechgiver, I'd say, until you compare her to 2000's-era Meryl Streep. I'd even go so far as to say Kate @ age 33 > Meryl @ age 33, in terms of the speeches.

Also, re: the "Orange" awards, I noticed while in London that the Brits have a thing about naming things after fruit. Phone service companies, clothing shops, etc. were often named Orange, Mango, Plum, and whatnot. Very strange. But rather endearing. Anyway, I'm not surprise this extends to film awards.

Also, I bet Kate felt bad for cockblocking Penelope in supporting all season and was probably hugging/cheering her with sentiment something to the effect of: "You go girl! You deserved it the whole time! I'm so glad I no longer have to feel guilty! You go rock it!"

gabrieloak said...

I hope if Kate wins at the Oscars she will let it all out and cry buckets. I think she should enlist the help of her friend Emma Thompsom for some quips though.

I hated Mickey Rourke's speech. It was something for some Las Vegas night club.

Katey said...

Thought on the Gilliam/Lynch connection: Do you think the only shot David Lynch has at an Oscar is an honorary one? As in, do you think his best filmmaking days are done? I'm inclined to think yes, given the focus on transcendental meditation and weather reports in recent years. Not that it makes me love him any less.

Kamikaze Camel said...

I so hope the Academy give David Lynch an honourary statue. He is a four-time nominee after all. I just worry that if he continues down the path of making movies like INLAND EMPIRE that the Academy will think they don't need to bother cause he obviously doesn't care (which I'm sure he doesn't, but it'd still be nice.)

I'm sure I'll be ripped apart for this, but...

The people complaining about Kate Winslet's speeches are sexist. Where they were when Forrest Whitaker was taking a nap on stage as his own personal version of a speech. Or when Jamie Foxx pulled the same dire routine out at every single awards show. Or why were people only focused on Russell Crowe having a fight with the BAFTA producer and not angry at him for giving a bad speech? The Whitaker one especially bugs me. His were the worst speeches I've ever heard and people just said he was being "heartfelt". ugh. Maybe they're also the same people who think Slumdog Millionaire is a heartwarming hymn to life or whatever.

In regards to the Winslet/Cruz thing, maybe Winslet's just happy that she doesn't have to deal with being awarded a fraudulent Oscar over the likes of Penelope come Feb 22 now that she's only nominated in the lead category.

Notluke said...

Also, re: the "Orange" awards, I noticed while in London that the Brits have a thing about naming things after fruit. Phone service companies, clothing shops, etc. were often named Orange, Mango, Plum, and whatnot. Very strange. But rather endearing. Anyway, I'm not surprise this extends to film awards.

Um. They are called "Orange", because Orange, the aforementioned phone service company, sponsors them.

The people complaining about Kate Winslet's speeches are sexist. Where they were when Forrest Whitaker was taking a nap on stage as his own personal version of a speech. Or when Jamie Foxx pulled the same dire routine out at every single awards show.

Great argument there. I guess you also just "proved" they are being racist.

Or why were people only focused on Russell Crowe having a fight with the BAFTA producer and not angry at him for giving a bad speech?

Okay, I get it, you are actually being facetious, yes? Because I can't believe you've just seriously implied giving bad speech is somehow a comparable offense to a physical attack and wonder aloud why would people consider the latter more shocking/interesting.

(I thought Crowe's were beautiful and moving BTW, but that's neither here nor there.)

jessica said...

actually 'Orange' is the name of the organization that sponsors the awards

Kurtis O said...

I don't get the Winslet speech hate. I thought she was to die for each time up there, especially during the Globe Best Actress win. Let the woman be confused, ball her eyes out, sing a song, whatever. She's earned it.

RobUK said...

My thoughts:

1) Bring back the erudite Stephen Fry, and the audience - both at home and in the flesh - might have a better time.

2) Kate stopped herself gushing because of the citicism she received from especially the British press. I'm a fan of dignity, and heaven knows she's a class act... but she should give herself permission to enjoy the moment more in the Kodk theatre.

3) Speaking of theatres, could the Opera House have possibly looked any more stunning?

4) Can someone please prod me awake if the Academy have an original thought in a few weeks' time? In theory, we COULD see a Milk sweep, Melissa Leo win, Marisa Tomei win, and Hellboy 2 win. We won't, but I'm just saying is all.

john said...

The reason behind the Winslet/Cruz hug is probably due to the fact that Winslet knew that she derserved it since she did take the Globe and Sage from her, that and the fact that they have the same agent too, Hylda Queally who is also the agent of Marion Cotllard and Cate Blanchett.

GeeB said...

Noel Clarke?
Noel bloody Clarke?
I despair. If he's the best 'Rising Star' we have then the industry is in big trouble.
And to misappropriate Obama's speech like that? What a w*nker!

Jack said...

Yeah, I'm embarrassed about the Noel Clarke thing too. I cringe at the thought of American viewers wanting to know who this hot new rising talent of the British Film Industry is now that he has been coronated by BAFTA, so they will actually feel the need to rent (if they even can) "Kidulthood" or "Adulthood". Not only would it be a waste of their time and money, but they would also think that any Brit who knows what they are talking about honestly thinks he is better than Rebecca Hall or Toby Kebble or Michael Fassbender.

Why the hell do they let the public vote on that award?

Iggy said...

I know sometimes there're so many comments, one can help but to skip some of them. But some days ago I posted a link to an interview with Cruz where she talked about Winslet. ;)

I don't have the link anymore, but among other topics, regarding Winslet she was asked about not having her in the same category as hers (for the Oscars). She explained that she and Winslet send messages congratulating each other every time one of them gets some award or nomination (I assume it's a txt thing).

She also explained that they got acquainted because they share(d) the same publicist (I don't recall if that was in the past or if they still share it) and so that's how they befriended. If you add to that, that they've been seeing each other during the whole awards season, it probably explains everything.

She also said Winslet is one of the most talented actresses there are right now.

Sorry, if some of this isn't fully accurate but I can't remember the exact words.

At some point my cinematical imagination also preferred to think they were arranging a "Diabolique-style" (?) plan to kill Weinstein for confronting them, but it seems reality is far more simple.

Dave said...

I was going to say, I remember hearing that Penny and Kate are like best friends now or something. That's possibly overstating the case, but I'd love it to be true, and I want to go along to their giggly luncheons. I'll just wait for the invite to come in the post, thanks girls.

I'm not sure on this "Brits <3 fruit" thing but other than Orange, which is named after a colour, I can't think of anything national that backs this up. [/serious face]

And on Noel Clarke: I was all resigned to Michael Cera winning, but now I see what a wonderful outcome that would've been (despite the obvious fact that he's not British, but then neither were Shia LeBeouf or Eva Green). I honestly didn't see Clarke as a possibility, because I thought everyone thought him as much a twat as I do.

P.S. I have my fingers crossed for a Melissa Leo win. Well, there's snow in England, anything can happen.

par3182 said...

if kate and penelope are bff salma hayek is going to go postal

Janice said...

WTF with the Kate-hate? Before the awards season she could do no wrong, everyone loved her, blah blah blah, it was her time (not to bash, I love her too) and now that she's actually winning awards it's snark snark snark? What is this, jealousy? Do try not to be so bitchy - she does deserve the attention, she's given great perfs and she's barely in her 30's, which means many more years of great perfs (in sometimes very weird movies) to go, and that's worth celebrating.

You go girl - don't listen to the bitches and be as happy, excited, emotional, whatever as you want. Be yourself and realize those who are bitching are never going to stand where you are right now.

Anonymous said...

I know everyone hates Kate's speeches, but the Oscar is not awarded to whoever will give the best acceptance speech.

Anonymous said...

IF it was then Penn would lose hard to Mickey

Kamikaze Camel said...

Again: WHO CARES? There have been plenty of far worse speech givers. Maybe it's just the Australian thing that we call "tall poppy syndrome". They like people when they do good work, but the moment they win some awards it's all "it's gone to her head!!!" or "she's acting like an idiot!!!" and "I'm so embarrassed that she's from my country!!!" etc etc.

Suomynona said...

It's not about giving a poor, incoherent or boring (or whatever) speech. At least not to me.

No, it's the disappointment at seeing someone I thought was quite level-headed and grounded and in possession of a good perspective on what matters and doesn't matter in the overall scheme of things being completely bowled over by a golden globe award of all things.

That doesn't affect the quality of her work one bit, but it has forced me to radically alter my perception of the person behind them. I had thought it was all about the work, but apparently there was also either a very strong desire for ego gratification or a desperate desire to be liked by perfect strangers. And I don't know which is worse.

Those aren't exactly crimes against humanity and hardly uncommon traits, but I just used to think she was better than that so I'm quite disappointed.

I'm sure she'll be able to live with that quite comfortably. After all I don't vote for any awards.

Chris Page said...

The BAFTAS are every bit as credible as the Oscars. Maybe it;s just American arrogance that leads to your denigration of them. And Noel Clarke is a genuine talent, and a very nice bloke. KidULTHOOD and AdULTHOOD are honest, brave depictions of life for working class kids in the inner city. Only middle class w***ers would say they weren't.

Jim T said...

I think her speech was great. She was more relaxed than ever. Actually, she was even more relaxed the first time she won a Bafta. I guess not winning for 13 years makes you apreciate it more.

NATHANIEL R said...

Chris... oy. the BAFTA longlists alone qualify them of deserving of denigration. Mamma Mia for acting ??? both of the Slumdog teenagers? Not to mention the obsessive pandering to American releases at the expense of their own triumphs (Hunger and Happy-Go-Lucky -- two of the most acclaimed pictures of the year -- relegated to side categories or nothing at all? so that we can have a movie about an American president and Ron Howard? Not to mention Changeling) I mean British film gets a side category? embarrassing. What would people say about the Oscars if they had a side category for Best American Film? I mean let's be honest here.

It's not about me being arrogant (If you've ever followed my own awards you'd see I'm far more open to other countries than Oscar itself is) it's me wishing the Bafta establishment would trust their own identity and not be just like every other group DESPERATE to predict the Oscars.

why else the date change to before the Oscars?

SORRY... i got carried away. I just have real problems with the BAFTA prizes each year. Though at least they don't shun James Bond the way the Oscars do so... points for that.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Suomynona, I suggest you take a moment to realise that Kate (and everyone else) are actually human beings and to be celebrated with the highest accolades is not something that everyone can just take in their stride. Jesus christ, maybe she did want the bloody award. Every single actor on the face of the earth wants an Oscar.

It "radically alters" you view of Winslet to see her get emotional at winning an award after so many many years of losing? How sad. But, as you say, she won't care one bit cause she's going to have all these awards and no snippy finger wavers can take them away.

(i'm in a bad mood, obviously)

ReX said...

All of "Slumdog Millionaire"'s wins were well-earned. Go get those Oscars!

Rourke, Winslet, Ledger, and Cruz. There's your Oscar winners.

Mick Jagger is the f-ing man. He even made dour "we are the world" Brangelina laugh at their own expense, which is like turning water into wine these days.

Nice show.

Suomynona said...

Camel,

The Golden Globes aren't the highest anything. They're a popularity contest / Oscar prediction show run by a random collection of nobodies.

And an Oscar (or a comparable award) should be seen as a nice thing, a pat on the back, a feather in the cap. Nothing more.
Many can't do that and especially for newcomers you can perhaps understand their overreacting.

But for a seasoned pro already at the very top of her profession? No, I don't like it one bit.
If ever there was an actor or actress who had the chance to credibly stand up and say: "It's an honor and I'm very flattered, but ultimately it's not what it's all about" it was her. She couldn't have done it before without risking accusations of being a sore loser, but here she really had the chance to "treat those two imposters just the same".
And she didn't.

Oh, well.

I guess I just resent the notion that winning an Oscar is the pinnacle of acting. It isn't! It has nothing at all to do with acting.

When an athlete wins an Olympic gold medal it really is what he's been working towards for many years. The ultimate ambition achieved. Tears on that podium I understand very well.

Acting is nothing like that and awards for it are but a sideshow.
Treating them as an end in itself demeans both the films and the work.

Anonymous said...

Kate and Penelope were tight b/c they realize that they're going to be the Oscar golden girls this year. There has to be some giddiness and excitement to that. It's too bad that it's for Kate Winslet's worst performance though (but on the bright side, it's for one of Penelope's best).

Mickey Rourke might actually win this damn thing. I thought for too long that he would run his mouth too much and lose the Oscar to Sean Penn, but now, it seems like the scale could really tip over in his favor. I'd prefer Penn or Langella to win, but I'll cheer right along with the rest of the world when Rourke wins and makes one of his crude acceptance speeches. The stuffy-ass Kodak needs a kick in the pants every once and awhile.

Anonymous said...

Forest Whitaker was just shy at speechgiving. It was a skill that he had to adapt to as the season progressed. And Jamie Foxx's speeches were all fine. It was schtick, but it was done beautifully, and the audience more than ate it up at every awards show. As for Kate Winslet, I loved her speeches at the Globes, so the backlash to that is bizarre and jarring. I think that too many people (and I'm including Americans and Brits in this generalization) have this antiquated conception of how refined British actors are supposed to act on stage, and when something's been built up like THE KATE WINSLET winning major awards, when she doesn't do it in a certain, regal way, she's raked over the coals for it. I don't think it's sexist though. If that had been Daniel Craig or James McAvoy or Jeremy Irons not "sticking to the script" as it were, they would be just as lambasted as Winslet.

J.L said...

I watched the red carpet at BBC World and every fifth minute they said something about Dev Patel. Slumdog Millionaire was a good film but it's not a masterpiece and will in 20 year or so be pretty forgotten.

Wild Pocahontas said...

Kate should start her Oscar speech saying "Do an Holocaust movie, and you win an Oscar" (this would make people laugh) or even more hilarious, "Huh, take that, Deborah Kerr!!!!", then she'll continue with the sad mention to Minghella and Pollack (just to make the audience clap) and she'll finish with the traditional mention to her kids-husband.

She should add some emotion, something like "Playing Hanna Schmitz rocked my world because I understood how important silence and secrets are" something like that.

Michael Clark said...

It mentioned in the Entertainment Weekly Oscar edition that Kate emailed Penelope a congratulatory email, and Penelope responded by sending an email saying "how I think she's so great." They're always talking at awards shows it seems.

I think Kate's ideal speech would begin something like this: "I've got a confession to make. Just after my guest appearance on Extras aired, Stephen Daldry called me up and said, "Do you want that Oscar?" And I said, "More than anything!" and he said, "I've got this Holocaust movie that's sure to get you the gold." And that's why I played Hanna Schmitz." Then she can say that she's only joking and gush into gracious thank yous as she's done before.

Rob said...

Na. Nate.

I can't agree. BAFTA was bashed before the date change that they just awarded prizes on the basis of what "should have won" at the Oscars.

Their longlists aren't perfect. But that's what happens when you allow 6000 people to vote. If AMPAS did the same, you'd get equally bad longlists.

At least BAFTA shares these lists.

Nothing wrong with a "British Film Award" because smaller films can't compete in that catergory. It's been there for years.

And I have never agreed that BAFTA want to 'predict' the Oscars. They are too independent minded with their choices for that - they pick what they like.

The screenplay prize would have gone to 'milk', Actor to Penn were they obsessed with that.

The date was changed simply because they were becoming irrelevant - and the awards season should end with the Academy Awards. Its a way to make them stand out a little.

Janice said...

The thing about actors (in general) is that they want applause, they want approval, they want to be liked (with rare exceptions) and are willing to go out onstage or on a movie screen in front of a lot of strangers and make fools of themselves if need be to get it. That's not to ignore the nobler aspects of the art, but there it is rock-bottom. To lambaste an actor for part of what makes them an actor in the first place (applause, approval) is silly.

Dale said...

In Bruges for an Oscar!
Great film!

bubba said...

I too am perplexed at the recent Kate backlash because she gave two amazing performances this year (not to mention many other unrecognized ones in the past), and she has always been gracious in her speeches to acknowledge the efforts of others. Personally, I vastly prefer this deference of humility than to a "ME ME ME" speech that is more entertaining. Overtime, I'm confident she will learn how to do both; but for now, she is doing just fine.

Matt said...

What is the consensus regarding Best Actor. Does Rourke now officially have the edge over Penn?

Matt said...

What is the consensus regarding Best Actor. Does Rourke now officially have the edge over Penn?

Suomynona said...

Applause and approval in the form of good reviews, happy customers, people wanting to work with your or employ you, etc. is something most actors would want. If you enter a profession you naturally want to be good at it and do good work and those things naturally follow from that.

A desperate longing for an Oscar? No, I really don't think that follows.

She might win one for The Reader this year, but does anyone think that's her best performance. Would it raise her standing as an actress? I'd say a definite no on both counts. So it's just vanity, I suppose.

YH said...

There's nothing at all wrong with wanting to be acknowledged for your work. Every actor wants to win an Oscar whether they fess up to it or not, and Kate Winslet's no different. I applaud her for saying, "f-ing a, I want an Oscar!" More should be that honest. It in no way lessens my regard of her as an amazingly talented and gifted actress. I wish her Oscar could have been anything other than that awful "The Reader" though, but I still love her, and she can't control what the Academy votes for. An Oscar is an Oscar in the end I guess.

NATHANIEL R said...

I'll never understand why The Reader is so hated. It's not perfect but you'd think it was Razzie worthy the way people tear into it. i don't get it.

and i agree that there's nothing wrong with wanting acknowledgement for you work. The only time that's a problem is if you want acknowledgement at the expense of everthing else. And I don't think Kate is exactly slumming to win prizes you know? So I approve of her desire to have a statue.

They all want one.

I still remember Laura Dern getting nominated for Rambling Rose and her telling the reporter on the red carpet that she knew a lot of people who felt superior to the awards fray that it's not about the art and etcetera... but she was still THRILLED to play dress up and was totally into being nominated. I liked that honesty.

gabrieloak said...

So it appears that the British papers approved of Kate's speech at the BAFTAs.

If she now wins the Oscar, I want her to give the most outrageous speech possible. I want her to cry and talk as long as she likes.

Wayne B. said...

adam k - you took the words out of my mouth re: Kate Winslet and the comparisons between her and Meryl Streep's speech-giving abilities. Well said, I wonder something about the people who are so quick to insult her: If you were voted Best of the Year by your fellow professionals, peers and respected members of your industry, what would your speech be like? Are they so sure their speeches would be awesome? Public speaking is one of the hardest things to do and I applaud anyone who has the guts to get up there onstage and who try to say something from their own heart/thoughts.

Arkaan said...

I haven't read all the comments (trying to tone down my Oscar obsession this year, and I won't deny that the Slumdog backlash has officially pissed me off), but Kamikaze, are you really suggesting that Russell Crowe assaulting someone is on the same level as giving a bad speech at an awards show? Seriously? I mean... what? Seriously?

Anonymous said...

As for The Reader, I'm sure most people hate it because of the fact that it took its spot away from The Dark Knight. Me, however, I saw the film way back in December before that happened, and I remember leaving the theater feeling cold (and not because it was December). I mean, it's a handsomely made film, and I understand its intentions, but my problem with The Reader is that I didn't care for the characters, and I didn't care what happened. I didn't feel hatred or sympathy for Hannah, or for Michael, because I just didn't care about them. The only scene I cared for was the scene with Ralph Fiennes and Lena Olin, and that's because I felt she elevated that scene beyond what was there, but the film felt cold and shallow to me, and while Kate Winslet did a good job, it feels to me like a case of "Right Actor, Wrong Film" if she wins this Oscar (you can find that term at incontention, I think it was John Foote who wrote that article).

By the way, I'm also sick of the Slumdog Millionaire backlash because I loved the film. Yes, parts about it bothered me, but while The Reader left me cold, Slumdog drew an honest applause out of me. I feel it's a classic Frank Capra story with a Mumbai setting and a Danny Boyle touch.

NATHANIEL R said...

If i won a bloggie i would probably be a mess. How pathetic is that? ;) so i'm not here to judge EXCEPT that I feel somewhere in there that actors SHOULD be better at this than anyone else.

Basically, I think it's shameful when actors don't rehearse their speeches... especially if there's a long build up to the win.

I know it was 8 years ago but I literally still have issues about Jennifer Connelly for that pathetically mousy pulling out the paper thing she kept doing in 2001. AWFUL. if you're job is to memorize lines and emote. Just do that when you win too.

Wayne B. said...

NATHANIEL, - I understand what you're saying, I wasn't thinking about how their job is to memorize and rehearse lines. I can't help but think that even with copious amounts of rehearsal in that intense moment of winning the mind must be twirling crazy. Even with months of preparation/expectation the emotions, feelings and memories that must be flashing through their head and heart. All those hard days, rejected auditions, blown scenes, dark nights of pain and doubt and now your name is called, you're the winner. The validation they must feel, that all of it was worth it, they've their moment and BOOOM you turn around, thousands of eyes on you, cameras and a mike, and everyone is applauding, then waiting on your next word. Sometimes people go blank and retreat into shyness and others rise above and pull through it. I just try and appreciate speeches like Connelly's for showing how human they really are, even though I was rooting for Mirren that year.
Maybe more actors should pursue on-stage work, getting used to the sensation of performing live. A little classical training never hurts. I'm predicting Winslet for the win but my inner lil' devil is hoping Streep does just so she'll bring the house down.

Davey said...

As for The Reader, I'm sure most people hate it because of the fact that it took its spot away from The Dark Knight.

That's a really convenient crutch to fall on with the hatred out there for "The Reader." Until you ask every person that hated "The Reader" why they hated it, and they flatout say it's b/c it was nominated for best picture over "The Dark Knight", it's a poor generalization to make. It can't be b/c the film's just shitty, or that its Metacritic score is 58 (which lets you know that critics think it's crap too), or that it hasn't even made $15 million dollars at the box office yet, or that the film's manipulative, trite, and poorly acted. No, it's b/c a bunch of Batman fanboys are bitter. I saw this film before the nominations too, and I didn't need anyone to tell me how "misunderstood" this film was. It was just bad all-around, and it's sad that Kate Winslet's going to win an Oscar for this performance.

NATHANIEL R said...

davey... you really want to throw box office into the argument? that's such a slippery slope to accepting all sorts of crazy things. i.e. Paul Blart Mall Cop is better than most Best Picture nominees.

you know?

i actually think it's a little weird that the metacritic score is so low on the Reader. I wonder how many of those reviews come from after the nomination?

Arkaan said...

I'm on Davey's side on this one. I saw it on a film bender last week (Milk, The Wrestler, Silent Light, The Class and it) and while I skipped most of the crap, I think The Reader is easily the worst film of the year. I'd love to hear a defense of it, frankly, because to me it manages to transform a complex examination of the German psyche into a horrible horrible film. Kate winning for this would be like Al Pacino winning for Scent of a Woman.

And I think it's fair to mention the box office if only because so many people didn't get the chance to actually see it.

And a number of critics hated The Reader before the nominations, so much so that screenwriter David Hare actually rebutted them in The Guardian.

Geeb said...

@ Chris:
We're getting into class-slagging over this? I suppose I'm middle-class because I can type, eh?
Whutevs, shugah. Being "nice", "honest" and "brave" does not a 'Rising Star' make. I hold my position that Noel Clarke is a shit actor; should not have won an award when being considered alongside those with whom he was and wouldn't if it hadn't been for his doltish, 'Doctor Who'-gleaned fanbase who were galvanised by cries of "ya dun kno i vote noel clark is a sik actor his a badman big up yaself" (n.b: direct quote, before we go further down the class alley - or even race. Ya wanna?)
That's what we get for giving The Great British Public free reign to vote for a prestigious award - for Cripes' sake, 'Dancing On Ice', 'Hollyoaks' and 'Big Brother' are among our TV hits - way to waste an award GBP!!

Davey said...

The only reason I mentioned box office for "The Reader" is b/c once again, it's showing that people aren't responding well to the film and it has poor word-of-mouth. I never once said that box office equals quality. When critics say it's crap, audiences don't want to see it, but here it is as a 5X Oscar nominee, something's wrong in the equation. And even if voters didn't like "The Dark Knight", there was far better choices out there to pick too -- like "Wall-E", "Rachel Getting Married", or "The Wrestler", just to name a few.

NATHANIEL R said...

well, i won't disagree with you there. There were better choices for sure.

I just think the film doesn't deserve the beat down it got. I think it's better than most of the nominees (not that that's saying much this year in a total BLAH field)

and to think...

they coulda had

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED
THE WRESTLER
WALL-E
MILK
THE DARK KNIGHT
IN BRUGES
HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

[sigh]

Davey said...

At least there we agree. But "The Reader" was wretched. I'm actually sort of surprised you went for it like you did, considering how you are about films.

bubba said...

I'm still surprised "The Reader" is provoking such dramatic criticisms of its suckage when there are many other (imo) overrated films like Curious Case and Slumdog. For one, The Reader sports a fantastic cast (Kate, David Kross, Lena Olin, Ralph) full of heartfelt performances; and for another, it had the guts to explore the issue of generational guilt in the form of a controversial love story without resorting to easy moral dualities and judgment. It's a complicated and flawed film for sure, but it is nowhere near as uninspiring and bad as some critics/posters seem to suggest.

Anonymous said...

I'll take "Slumdog" and "Benjamin Button" any day of the week over that "The Reader" nonsense. That film's so rotten on so many levels it's insulting.

NATHANIEL R said...

bubba, i agree. i do find the critiques of it very vague. I keep hearing INSULTING / AWFUL / TERRIBLE but i don't here why it's any of those things.

but yeah. definitely flawed and definitely didn't need to be a Best Picture nominee. but then none of them did other than MILK

Anonymous said...

- The timeline of events was very faulty, and David Hare shouldn't have been anywhere near an Oscar nomination for this dreck.

- The film should have been done in German with German actors.

- Kate Winslet overacted in scene after scene of hers, especially in the beginning of the film. The old age cake makeup was horrendous.

- The relationship between Hanna and Michael was never convincing, and the audience was led to believe that the horrors that she helped during the Holocaust pale in comparison to the shame of Hanna not being able to read.

If that's still too "vague" for you, then fine, you can have this piece of crap and praise it to the high heavens.

NATHANIEL R said...

anon -- thanks for more specifics. I do like to understand where people are coming from.

I can't really argue on the acting (it's a subjective thing judging acting but i thought she was terrific)

as for the shame of illiteracy. We are not always meant to feel the same way as a character in a film feels. I think people are often misled about this because so few films ever ask the audience to think about what they're seeing and maybe not relate to the main character. I didn't -- not for even one minute during this movie -- think that the writer, director or actors expected you to share Hanna's distorted views or her misdirected shame.

as for 'the film should have been done in German' claim. I agree that doing things in the language and country they take place in makes sense BUT i don't recall hearing this complaint when The Pianist wasn't in Polish and when Schindler's List starred an Irishman and two Brits... so I don't see how it's a fair complaint.

Either you're ok with films being in the wrong language or you're not.

I am ok with it.


(though i heartily agree it would be interesting to see a German take on the same material)

I guess i just don't understand why this film is targeted for a "wrong language" attack that literally happens every single year (and several times a year) in the cinema.

Anonymous said...

Well, I was one of those language police people, though I said that same thing about "Memoirs of a Geisha", "Schindler's List", "Quills", "Slumdog Millionaire", "The Pianist", and a host of others. We're definitely out there. Authenticity, people!

And sorry, no explanation will justify wrapping a half-baked illiteracy/love story angle as some kind of get-out-of-jail free card for Hanna's atrocities committed. It's lame and trite storytelling and should be called out whenever possible. "You helped kill all of these Jews, but the real tragedy in your life is that you can't READ!" Awww. That's Oprah-style feel-good nonsense that's not gonna fly.

Here is Slate calling "The Reader" "The Worst Holocaust Film Ever Made." They make the point far better than I could.

http://www.slate.com/id/2210804/

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Kate, any chance you can update the wins for her on the actress page with the Bafta and Chicago film critic award?

NATHANIEL R said...

how does the film ever excuse the atrocities though? I find this such a troubling critique of the movie because i never felt like the film excused Hanna's behavior.

i think Lena Olin in the finale more that swats that notion away.

do people think it excuses her behavior simply because she's played by an actress most people feel great warmth towards? or because she does gets out of jail (not free but after her life is essentially over)?

Anonymous said...

Yeah it does. It starts by Hanna sacrificing herself for the rest of the guards b/c of her "shame", then the whole point of Hanna going through learning how to read in jail, and her "savings" at the end that she wanted to give to the survivor. Lena Olin's character rejected it, but by that time, the redemption arc's completed for Hanna, trite visit to the church cemetary and all.

GeeB said...

Interestingly most of 'Slate' review, and the reviewer's loathing for the film, appears to be based on the certainty that "...The Reader... misrepresent[s] history by pretending the Germans—even those too young to fight—didn't know what was going on until... after the war".

As someone with relatives-in-law who lived less than 20 miles from Auschwitz during the war; who, at the risk of being shot, smuggled bread to prisoners being marched past their home; who fled their homes to escape the American bombings and whose relatives were interred in the aforementioned camp by the Russians I can attest that, unless they're all veeeery good liars, there is no misrepresentation.
Yes, people knew there were camps. Yes, people knew their neighbours and friends were disappearing into them but to suggest that everyone all over the country knew all details of the full horror of what was taking place is naive and more than a little insulting to what they lived through.

Surely we only have to look to recent history, and to the way our two nations were propagandised into allowing mass murder in our names and in the name of 'Anti-terrorism' to begin to have some empathy for, and understanding of, the impotence many people feel in these situations?

Did we 'allow' recent events? What were our options? Didn't we have full knowledge of the atrocities that were taking place? And yet what did we do about it?

Isn't it just possible that a person could have taken a job because it was their best personal option at the time? Isn't it just possible that that person either couldn't see, or even chose not to see, the bigger picture that they were a part of? Isn't it just possible that they might question their role later in life, investigate their recent history and want to make whatever reparation for it they could?

Just because one person's experience of history doesn't sit well with that which we have decided upon for ourselves doesn't make it any less honest or real. And just because the possibilities posed to us - the further we get from these events and the clearer/murkier they become - make us feel uncomfortable to question the role we might have played in similar circumstances, shouldn't make the consideration of those possibilities immoral or taboo.

By all means berate a film for its wooden acting, its illiteracy, its poor design, camerawork or directing, but for presenting possible explanations of past events and damning them as 'misrepresentations' is narrow-minded and lazy.

bubba said...

I'm going to attempt, like Nathaniel, to address some of these critiques of the films misrepresentations.

I also don't think The Reader excuses the crimes of Hanna. It's true that her illiteracy was the source of her shame and the main agency behind her actions, but it is important that we do not mistaken this shame for moral guilt. Certainly when Hanna "sacrifices" for her equally culpable compatriots, it stems from a selfish fear of embarrassment. Hanna's motivations are devoid of explicit moral thought (as exemplified by her court scenes); but as we see her character arc at the end, once she gets over her illiteracy, she is then finally capable of grasping the moral implications of her actions--and far from excusing them, she commits suicide.

The supporting characters also offer insight to these issues. One student aptly points out that guilt applies to hundreds of thousands, but only a few are called to answer for their crimes. Michael also cannot excuse Hanna (though he struggles, which I would argue is the predominant theme of the story: a generation plagued by shame and their complicated desire to reconcile that), and at one point near the end, he too questions whether Hanna has learned anything. And as Nathaniel pointed out already, Lena Olin's character swats the notion of Hanna's illiteracy as legitimized excuse.

It's not. And in the end, everyone pays.