Tag Archives: frost/nixon

81st Oscar Nominations are Here! My Predictions and Reactions

I can’t believe I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to hear them announced live. I haven’t seen this side of morning since…never. Here are nominees in some of the major categories (winners will be announced Feb. 22):

Best Picture

Best Actor

  • Richard Jenkins—The Visitor
  • Frank Langella—Frost/Nixon
  • Sean Penn—Milk
  • Brad Pitt—The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Mickey Rourke—The Wrestler

Best Actress

Best Supporting Actor

  • Josh Brolin—Milk
  • Robert Downey Jr.—Tropic Thunder
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman—Doubt
  • Heath Ledger—The Dark Knight
  • Michael Shannon—Revolutionary Road

Best Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams—Doubt
  • Penelope Cruz—Vicky Christina Barcelona
  • Viola Davis—Doubt
  • Taraji P. Henson—The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Marisa Tomei—The Wrestler

Best Director

  • David Fincher—The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Ron Howard—Frost/Nixon
  • Gus Van Sant—Milk
  • Stephen Daldry—The Reader
  • Danny Boyle—Slumdog Millionaire

You can see the complete list of nominees here.

Didn’t expect Kate Winslet to be nominated for Best Actress for The Reader, though it only reinforces my belief she’ll win this category.

Revolutionary RoadOverall, I agreed with most of the nominations. LOVED that Michael Shannon got a nod for Revolutionary Road. He was exceptional. The Supporting Actor category is ridiculously jampacked with really strong contenders. Last December, I picked Josh Brolin and I’m holding on to that for now, but Shannon just made this category impossible to handicap, Heath Ledger aside.

2008_tropic_thunder_034I also loved Robert Downey Jr.’s performance so I refuse to consider it a “surprise” nomination (the live audience at the announcements ceremony gasped loudly then chuckled). There’s precedence for a great comedic performance to be nominated in this category: Kevin Kline for A Fish Called Wanda and he won. RDJ’s feat as “the dude who played the dude who played a black man” in Tropic Thunder was astounding. He completely transformed himself into two different characters—even in the brief moments when he wasn’t “black” in the movie, he was a platinum blond, blue-eyed Australian guy and there wasn’t a hint of RDJ in either guise.

Loved that In Bruges got a Best Original Screenplay nomination for Martin McDonagh. I’ll stop shoving that movie down your throats now.

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Loved that WALL•E was nominated for Best Animated Picture though it could well contend for Best Picture, period. Then again, it’s sure to win in the animated category. It also received a Best Original Screenplay nod for Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter and I wouldn’t count them out but I think Dustin Lance Black will take it for Milk.

Other categories I’m calling (I already predicted acting winners last month): Best Director—Danny Boyle, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture—Slumdog Millionaire. I also think the film’s A.R. Rahman will take Best Score and one of the Best Songs, and Anthony Dod Mantle will win for Slumdog‘s cinematography. When Mantle talked about shooting in Mumbai among the crush of people, running after children, trying to keep everyone from looking at the cameras, I’m amazed he managed to pull it off.

E!’s movie critic Ben Lyons, who annoys me because he can’t even get titles right (at the Globes, he said “Welcome to the Golden Globe” at one point and then called Meryl Streep’s next movie Julia & Julie when it’s actually Julie & Julia), said right before the announcements that he thought Clint Eastwood would get a Best Actor nom for Gran Torino. I was vigorously shaking my head because I couldn’t disagree more. Eastwood squinted and growled like a junkyard dog throughout the movie and I thought it was ridiculous. I kept thinking, “I get it, you’re a tough guy, stop with the overly indicating.” I’m glad Richard Jenkins got nominated instead for his funny, sweet performance but was disappointed to see Michael Sheen omitted from this category for Frost/Nixon. He was just as good as Langella.

What did you think of the noms? Any mentions really excited you? Any egregious omissions? Leave me a comment. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts but right now, it’s roughly 6:30 and I’m amazed my brain is even functioning at all.

Nixon Trivia Question for Script Giveaway

If you’re on my subscribers list and are among the first 5 people to answer the following correctly, I’ll email you a copy of the Frost/Nixon script, written by Peter Morgan and adapted from his same-titled play. The movie opens in limited release this Friday, December 5.

Here’s the question:

Richard Nixon’s first scandal happened in the 1950s when he was the V.P. candidate on Ike’s ticket. He was accused of being secretly funded by a group of California businessmen. To address these charges, Nixon went on live TV to make his famous “Checkers” speech, which was scheduled after what popular show?

Review of FROST/NIXON and Script Giveaway

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When I told a few friends I was going to a screening of Frost/Nixon, they all asked, “Why?” I said, “Because I think it looks interesting.” They said, “Ugh, it’s two men talking. Boooooring.”

I’m happy to say it isn’t dull as dirt. Frank Langella, Michael Sheen and director Ron Howard make the film crackle with tension. Richard Nixon and David Frost’s duel is just a more verbal version of Jim Braddock and Max Baer’s fight from Howard’s Cinderella Man. Like that boxing match, you have a heavyweight sparring with an underdog who proves to be much more pit bull than anyone expected.

2008_frost_nixon_001A quick montage at the start of the movie fills in anyone who’s been living on Mars on the Watergate scandal and fallout, including Nixon’s resignation and Ford’s pardon. We see Frost watching the televised resignation speech, practically drooling over the audience it garnered. He decides to woo Nixon for an interview strictly for ratings at first. Soon, pressure mounts from his peers for him to elicit an apology from the former president. But Nixon is a formidable opponent, trained in public speaking and how to be “presidential” while Frost is disdainfully referred to by some as “just a talk-show host.” We see Frost training for his big fight by immersing himself in the minutiae of Nixon’s life while struggling to land financial backers for his show (Nixon’s fee alone was $600,000). This all leads up to the movie’s main event on April 22, 1977—the final day of interviews during which Frost would pin Nixon into a corner about his shady Watergate dealings.

Langella brings Nixon roaring back to life and thankfully does so without prosthetics. He relies on his talent to portray a man too proud to say sorry but too burdened if he didn’t. The actor does use that familiar guttural voice which calls to mind all the Nixon (and Jimmy Stewart) impressions I’ve ever heard. But it’s not Langella’s fault Nixon sounded like that and after a while I got used to it.

2008_frost_nixon_002Sheen’s performance, though, is my favorite in the film. As he readies his slingshot for his Goliathan opponent, we can see the insecurity and vulnerability beneath the perennial grin and slick TV-host veneer. Sheen actually made me wonder at times if Frost would be up to the task though I already knew the outcome. Universal Pictures has decided to submit both actors for Best Actor Academy-Award consideration and I hope Langella doesn’t overpower Sheen, who has the less showy but more difficult role.

Among the solid supporting cast, Kevin Bacon, as Nixon’s steely Chief of Staff Jack Brennan, was a head above the rest for me. You might be quick to label him a jerk until you glimpse the heart beating beneath the surface. Bacon made me feel that of the millions who were disappointed and hurt by Nixon’s Watergate involvement, Brennan was the one who took it hardest.

In bringing Frost/Nixon to the screen, writer Peter Morgan (who also wrote the play) and Howard were successful where John Patrick Shanley was less so with Doubt—opening up a play to make it more cinematic. Doubt the movie comes across like a filmed play (see my review here), but Howard said in the Q & A I attended that he was determined to have Sheen and Langella break the rhythm of the stage dialogue they’d already performed many times in London and on Broadway. He also employs a faux documentary style with lots of cross-cutting between scenes and interviews and archival news footage. Howard can sometimes be too safe for me but he does really sharp work here, taking a story whose ending is already familiar to a whole generation and making it compelling and fresh again.

(Limited Release, December 5)

Rating: Good

SCRIPT GIVEAWAY: On Wednesday, December 3, at noon PT, I’ll be giving away Frost/Nixon scripts. At that time, I’ll post a trivia question about Nixon and the first 5 subscribers who leave the correct answer in the comments section will be emailed a PDF version of the script. You have to be a subscriber to be eligible so even if you’re the first person to leave the correct answer but you’re not on the list, you will not get a script. I never spam so if you haven’t subscribed but want to participate in future giveaways, do it now!