Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What movies will get the Oscar nom's?; also, new documentary on DADT appears

Fox News tells us that the 2008 Oscar nominations are due tomorrow (Jan. 22), so I’ll make a few predictions. No real surprises.

For best picture, my picks are

"Revolutionary Road" (Paramount Vantage/Dreamworks, dir. Sam Mendes, USA). (Don’t mix it up with “Reservation Road”, the year before, which is also good). This movie is almost like a 50s stage play for AP English, but I love the concepts and issues, and the part of the “mentally ill” character, as well as the mom Kathy Bates who intervenes in the troubled couple played by Di Caprio and Winslet.

"Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight, dir. Danny Boyle, UK/India). Fox stole this improbable indie blockbuster away from Warner Brothers. With a low budget, Boyle gives a panoramic view of modern Mumbai and makes Dev Patel into the new role model. Can an eighteen-year-old really win best actor? No doubt. Boyle gets one of the nominations for direction. I guess right now, this wins “best picture” but my mind could change.

"Milk" (Focus, dir. Gus Van Sant, USA) A stunning chronology of gay life in the 70s, culminating in tragedy in San Francisco in 1978. I don’t know why I don’t see Bryan Singer on the list for “The Mayor of Castro Street.” Sean Penn could get the nod for best actor.

"The Reader" (TWC, dir. Stephen Daldry, UK/Germany) A curious post-Holocaust story with a disturbing plot twist, and another stunning young actor, David Kross.

"Frost / Nixon" (Universal, dir. Ron Howard, USA) Michael Sheen stuns as David Frost who traps Richard Nixon (“If the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”) Sheen could get best actor.

All of these except the last are considered “independent film” releases.

In the documentary area, I wanted to mention HBO’s “The Boys from Baghdad High” (dir. Ivan O’Mahoney and Laura Winter, UK) with revelations about what it is like to go to school in Iraq.

There’s no LGBT area as such, but I want to mention four LGBT films (besides "Milk") as really important:

"Ask Not" (Persistent Visions, dir. Jonny Simmons) as a rather matter-of-fact video documentary in small aspect (4:3) about the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuals. It may gain more traction given Obama’s presidency.
But it’s hardly the last word in film (there has been “Serving in Silence, and “Any Mother’s Son” and “Soldier Girl”). I think Hollywood could consider some bigger projects now, like Joe Steffan’s 1992 book “Honor Bound” about the US Naval Academy in the 1980s.

"We’re All Angels" (Telekenitic, dir. Robert Nunez) about gay gospel singers Jason Warner and De Marco, with a lot of exploration of psychological polarities in a male couple.

"Were the World Mine" (Speak, dir. Tom Gustafson), a subtle gay musical (a bit on the model of the HSM films), filmed on location in Chicago, with a lot of layered Shakespeare fantasy and comedy intermixed. Tanner Cohen dominates the film as another important young actor, with the same sort of energy as you see with Zac Efron in the HSM films.

"Save Me" (First Run Features, dir. Robert Cary). A big looking indie gay film (Cinemascope, taking advantage of New Mexico scenery) about a love story that unfolds in an “ex-gay” camp, but told with great subtlety.

Jan. 22

Check here after 8:30 AM EST for the 2008 nominees. I see that I am 80% right. The Oscars nominated "Benjamin Button" instead of "Revolutionary Road". Brad Pitt is also nominated for best actor; Leonardo Di Caprio is not (I thought he would be; I don't think he was for "Titanic" either). Stephen Daldry is on the list for Best Director.

Update: Jan 22

There is a second major documentary on the "don't ask don't tell" policy. It is called simply "Tell" and is directed by Tom Murray. The caption is "more than soldiers, fighters & patriots". There is a trailer that shows some soldiers and former SLDN head Dixon Osburn. The link is here. The DVD can be ordered through PayPal. The AOL contact is TJoeMurray.

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