Friday, January 30, 2009

"Slumdog Millionaire" Wins the Scripter

The USC Scripter award, which honors both the screenwriter and the author of the source material has gone to Simon Beaufoy, who based his Slumdog Millionaire screenplay on the book Q&A by Vikas Swarup. This is all well and good (and totally expected), but I maintain that this is just not a very good script. I'm sorry, but Slumdog suceeds - and barely suceeds at that - by sheer force of Danny Boyle's stylish direction. Bring on the DGA tomorrow night.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stream: Neko Case - "People Got A Lotta Nerve"

I haven't been as enamored with Neko Case's shift away from alt-country in recent years as a lot of people have, but with her upcoming album Middle Cyclone just over the horizon, she seems to be tipping her hand a bit and more fully inhabiting the role as pop songwriter. That crazy album cover was the first glaring hint, and now first single "People Got A Lotta Nerve" drives the point home even further. The instantly catchy hook ("I'm a man man man man man man eater, but you're still suprised-prised-prised when I eat you") is just tongue-in-cheek enough to work, and it's over and done with quick enough that it leaves me anticipating the full-length more than I thought I would be at this point. So yeah, mission accomplished.

And hey, I love animals too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Break Up Your Band - The Essentials #2: The Jesus Lizard - "Goat"

"To steal a pretty intense image from a certain cinematic oil man, The Jesus Lizard slithered out of their mother’s filth. The quartet of David Yow, Duane Denison, David Wm. Sims and Mac McNeilly were the bastard children of Chicago stalwarts Rapeman and Scratch Acid. After the sickening burnout of both those groups in the late 80s, self-destructive Scratch Acid front man David Yow recruited two of his former band mates, dumped a drum machine into the mix and dubbed themselves The Jesus Lizard, sowing the seeds for one of the most cancerous American rock bands of the last quarter century." [Continue Reading]

Music Review: Antony & the Johnsons - The Crying Light (***)

"Considering Antony Hegarty’s obsession with transformation – whether that be psychically or emotionally – it only seems right that he has charted a unique path for his idiosyncratic voice across a full-spectrum of modern music. His embryonic debut with the Johnsons didn’t do much to separate him from the legions of underground New York chamber-pop androgynies, let alone his stylistic forbear Scott Walker (or more recently, Rufus Wainwright). It was his mesmerizing 2005 sophomore album I Am a Bird Now, coupled with his subsequent collaborations with a wide-variety of genre-pushers, that finally announced Hegarty as one of this generations most fascinating anomalies". [Continue Reading]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Newsweek's Oscar Roundtable

As is their now-yearly routine, Newsweek has gathered a handful of this year's Oscar nominated actors for a comfortable, off-the-cuff round table discussion, in which they discuss everything from their favorite performances to their inspirations to, um, boners (gotta love Rourke). Sadly these were taped before the actual nominations, so now Newsweek have added insult to injury for the ridiculously snubbed Happy-Go-Lucky star Sally Hawkins. (thanks to Awardsdaily for the tip-off)

Star Rating Revision/Feeds

Since I've started Stereo Sanctity I've always use the 5-star system for evaluating film and music. I usually like to have a little space to maneuver within the star ratings, but now I've gone ahead and actually caved to the prevailing 4-star trends. From now on all reviews will be out of 4-stars. I've broken down the grading criteria at the very bottom of the page, so scroll down if you want to see the ins and outs.

Also, there are a bevy of feeds now listed below in the right column, for those of you who'd like to follow Stereo Sanctity that way. I know it's been a long time coming, but what are you gonna do?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

2008 SAG Award Winners

I'm way behind on these, but that's one of the few disadvantages of living on the west coast. Slumdog keeps on trucking. No alarms and no surprises.

Ensemble Cast: Slumdog Millionaire
Lead Actress: Meryl Streep, Doubt
Lead Actor: Sean Penn, Milk
Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Lifetime Achievement Award: James Earl Jones

Lead Actress, Comedy Series: Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Lead Actor, Comedy Series: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Ensemble Cast, Comedy Series: 30 Rock
Lead Acress, Drama Series: Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Lead Actor, Drama Series: Hugh Laurie, House
Ensemble Cast, Drama Series: Mad Men
Lead Actress, Miniseries: Laura Linney, John Adams
Lead Actor, Miniseries: Paul Giamatti, John Adams

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Quick SAG Predictions

Here's how I think tomorrow's SAG awards will go down. Just for the record.

Best Actor: Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
Best Actress: Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married) - this actually probably goes to Streep because of familiarity, but I'll go out on a limb in hopes that Winslet siphons some votes away from Streep.
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet (The Reader)
Best Ensemble: Doubt

Friday, January 23, 2009

David Berman (Silver Jews) Giving Up Music?

Well, this is certainly depressing. Assuming it is true, one of my all-time favorite songwriters is hanging it up after nearly 20 years and 6 wonderful records. Just last year Berman and his Silver Jews released the supremely underrated Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, his most hopeful and light-hearted record to date. If this is indeed the last we hear from Berman musically, he has left us with one of the most indelible catalogues in modern music. I've already got a new Break Up Your Band column in the works for next week at iRO (if you missed the first entry, you can read it here), but you can already pencil in the next column as a look at the Jews and their landmark 1998 record American Water.
"Chalk lines around my body
Like the shoreline of a lake
Your laughter made me nervous
It made your body shake too hard

Now there's a lot of things that I'm gonna miss
Like thunder down country and the way water drips
When you're running for the door in the rain
Read the metro section...See my name

No I didn't really want to die
I only want to die in your eyes
Grant me one last wish
Life should mean a lot less than this
Grant me one last wish
Life should mean a lot less than this"

- David Berman ("How to Rent a Room")

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Congrats to "The Reader"... have now officially usurped Crash as the most hated modern film nominated by the Academy (those fanboys can be a tough crowd). With Harvey Weinstein seemingly pulling the strings from behind the scenes, it really does feel like the late 90s all over again today. Many contribute this sea-change to Barack Obama and the election, with friendlier, less confrontational nominees being singled-out this morning. Not that The Reader doesn't touch on some heavy issues (it is being billed as somewhat of a holocaust movie after all, although I didn't quite see it that way - at least not fully), but coming after back-to-back years of The Departed and No Country for Old Men - and not to mention fellow nominees like Babel and There Will Be Blood - this year's slate of nominees came as a splash of cold water to the face. Lest we forget, the Academy isn't cool. The sad part is we didn't see it coming. (pic from Incontention via Awards Daily)

Oscar Predictions Sidebar Updated

I'm still reeling from today's horrifying nominations, but I've went ahead and updated the predictions sidebar anyway. If nothing else, the Academy has made it much easier to predict certain categories. For those of you too lazy to scroll down the page, here are my predicted winners in the main categories as of this moment.

Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Director: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Actor: Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
Best Actress: Kate Winslet (The Reader)
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (Doubt)
Best Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black (Milk)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire)

2008 Academy Awards Nominations!!!

Let's lay it all out shall we. The hits, the misses, the wtf's?

- After months of speculation, the Academy shows their true colors and snubs The Dark Knight for Best Picture, Director and Screenplay. This will be a hard one to live down, even for AMPAS.

- Prestige picture (read: mind numbing) The Reader ends up overtaking The Dark Knight, becoming what has to be the lowest grossing Best Picture nominee to date (not to mention the film's appalling Metacritic score). Kind of ironic, but sad more than anything else. Stephen Daldry has now made 3 films and has scored best director nominations for each, with two of the films getting into the Best Pic race.

- Kate Winslet did in fact make the jump to Lead Actress for The Reader (a possibility I have frequently alluded to), a film the Academy apparently liked enough to bestow many nominations upon (who are these people who threw #1 votes at this film? Apparently Harvey Weinstein still has major pull). As a result she was left out for her better work in Revolutionary Road. The silver lining? She has just won herself that elusive first Oscar.

- I've been saying for months that Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road would be too dark for the Academy, and that was certainly the case this morning. The film received just 3 nods, one for Art Direction, one for Costumes Design and one for supporting actor Michael Shannon, who thankfully bumped Slumdog's overrated Dev Patel out of contention. Years down the line this is another film that the Academy will look foolish for not embracing.

- No Clint Eastwood! Not for actor (which was expected), and not for picture or director (less expected but a galloping dark horse the last couple weeks). Thank god the Academy saw Gran Torino for the funny but ridiculous entertainment that it truly is. Changeling is still far superior in my opinion.

- My heart breaks most for Sally Hawkins this morning. She was by no means a lock, and granted this was a tough year for lead actresses, but nonetheless this stings a bit. I am glad however that Melissa Leo was singled out.

- With Kate Winslet in supporting, the Academy decided to double nod the supporting actresses of Doubt (Amy Adams and Viola Davis), which I didn't think would happen. This is now a race between Davis and Penelope Cruz for the statuette.

- I knew the original screenplay race could turn into a potential mess, and indeed it did. I certainly wasn't expecting a screenplay nod for Frozen River (though I'm not complaining), while In Bruges also came as a surprise, although I had a feeling it had an outside shot here. I'm equally surprised Woody Allen missed out on his 15th screenwriting nod, but I highly doubt he is losing sleep over it. And I maintain that Wall-E doesn't have much of a script at all.

- The highly acclaimed Waltz with Bashir unexpectedly missed out on an Animated film nod, though it has a strong shot at the documentary prize.

- And lastly, where is Bruce Springsteen?! Two Slumdog songs and no love for Bruce's extremely affecting "The Wrestler". Boo.

I'm updating these as they roll in:

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"The Reader"
"Slumdog Millionaire"

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

Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"
Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"
Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”
Meryl Streep, "Doubt"
Kate Winslet, "The Reader"

Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"
Clint Eastwood, "Changeling"
David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"

Josh Brolin, "Milk"
Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"
Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
Michael Shannon, “Revolutionary Road”

Amy Adams, "Doubt"
Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Viola Davis, "Doubt"
Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler"

Original Screenplay
Frozen River
In Bruges

Adapted Screenplay
Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Foreign Language Film
Baader Meinhoff
The Class
Waltz with Bashir

Animated Film
Kung Fu Panda

(Thanks to Awards Daily for the rest of these)

Achievement in Art direction

*“Changeling” (Universal), Art Direction: James J. Murakami, Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
*“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt, Set Decoration: Victor J. Zolfo
*“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Nathan Crowley, Set Decoration: Peter Lando
*“The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Art Direction: Michael Carlin, Set Decoration: Rebecca Alleway
*“Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Art Direction: Kristi Zea, Set Decoration: Debra Schutt

Achievement in cinematography

* “Changeling” (Universal), Tom Stern
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Claudio Miranda
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Wally Pfister
* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Chris Menges and Roger Deakins
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Anthony Dod Mantle

Achievement in costume design

* “Australia” (20th Century Fox), Catherine Martin
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Jacqueline West
* “The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Michael O’Connor
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Glicker
* “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Albert Wolsky

Best documentary feature

* “The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)” (Cinema Guild), A Pandinlao Films Production, Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
* “Encounters at the End of the World” (THINKFilm and Image Entertainment), A Creative Differences Production, Werner Herzog and Henry Kaiser
* “The Garden” A Black Valley Films Production, Scott Hamilton Kennedy
* “Man on Wire” (Magnolia Pictures), A Wall to Wall Production, James Marsh and Simon Chinn
* “Trouble the Water” (Zeitgeist Films), An Elsewhere Films Production, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal

Best documentary short subject

* “The Conscience of Nhem En” A Farallon Films Production, Steven Okazaki
* “The Final Inch” A Vermilion Films Production, Irene Taylor Brodsky and Tom Grant
* “Smile Pinki” A Principe Production, Megan Mylan
* “The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306” A Rock Paper Scissors Production, Adam Pertofsky and Margaret Hyde

Achievement in film editing

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lee Smith
* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Elliot Graham
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Chris Dickens

Best foreign language film of the year

* “The Baader Meinhof Complex” A Constantin Film Production, Germany
* “The Class” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Haut et Court Production, France
* “Departures” (Regent Releasing), A Departures Film Partners Production, Japan
* “Revanche” (Janus Films), A Prisma Film/Fernseh Production, Austria
* “Waltz with Bashir” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Bridgit Folman Film Gang Production, Israel

Achievement in makeup

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Greg Cannom
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), John Caglione, Jr. and Conor O’Sullivan
* “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (Universal), Mike Elizalde and Thom Floutz

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.),Alexandre Desplat
* “Defiance” (Paramount Vantage), James Newton Howard
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Elfman
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A.R. Rahman
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Thomas Newman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

* “Down to Earth” from “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, Lyric by Peter Gabriel
* “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Gulzar
* “O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music and Lyric by A.R. Rahman andMaya Arulpragasam

Best animated short film

* “La Maison en Petits Cubes” A Robot Communications Production, Kunio Kato
* “Lavatory - Lovestory” A Melnitsa Animation Studio and CTB Film Company Production, Konstantin Bronzit
* “Oktapodi” (Talantis Films) A Gobelins, L’école de l’image Production, Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand
* “Presto” (Walt Disney) A Pixar Animation Studios Production, Doug Sweetland
* “This Way Up”, A Nexus Production, Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes

Best live action short film

* “Auf der Strecke (On the Line)” (Hamburg Shortfilmagency), An Academy of Media Arts Cologne Production, Reto Caffi
* “Manon on the Asphalt” (La Luna Productions), A La Luna Production, Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont
* “New Boy” (Network Ireland Television), A Zanzibar Films Production, Steph Green and Tamara Anghie
* “The Pig” An M & M Production, Tivi Magnusson and Dorte Høgh
* “Spielzeugland (Toyland)” A Mephisto Film Production, Jochen Alexander Freydank

Achievement in sound editing

* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Richard King
* “Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Tom Sayers
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
* “Wanted” (Universal),Wylie Stateman

Achievement in sound mixing

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney),Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
* “Wanted” (Universal), Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño and Petr Forejt

Achievement in visual effects

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin
* “Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Final Oscar Predictions (2008)

I'm finally going out on the proverbial limb after months of pontificating here at Stereo Sanctity and in the monthly Chasing Gold columns over at In Review Online. But I've now narrowed the fields and put a lot of extra thought into just who might snag these elusive honors. And if history has taught us anything, I'm gonna be dead wrong. Have a look:

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Gump

My biggest problem with The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons is Eric Roth's script. The flashback structure/crutch irks me the most, but this amusing youtube clip shines a light on the myriad other overlaps between the film and Roth's Oscar-winning Forest Gump. (Incontention via Hollywood Elsewhere)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fox Searchlight Videos: Wrestling Legends Discuss The Wrestler

These have been floating around the web for a few days now, but I thought I'd point them out for those of you who missed them. It's very interesting to hear what wrestlers within the industry think about Darren Aronofsky's brilliant new film The Wrestler. Here Fox Searchlight sits down with 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper, Brutus 'The Barber" Beefcake, Lex Luger, Diamond Dallas Page and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (all personal favorites except for maybe Luger) to chat about the movie. Very informative and insightful reactions from all involved. And in case you missed it, the one and only Mick Foley weighed in on the film a few weeks back. (Incontention via Fox Searchlight)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Popmatters' Top 20 Male & Female Performances of 2008

Popmatters kicked off their annual year-end film week on Monday, which in the past few days saw such lists as the Top 10 Guilty Pleasures of '08 and the Top 30 DVDs of the Year, among other lists. Today however, we get to the good stuff. The staff writers (which, full disclosure, does include me) spent the holidays voting on their favorite performances of the year, which the site has now tabulated into separate lists of the Top 20 Male and Female Performances of the year. I wrote the blurb for Mickey Rourke's devastating performance in The Wrestler, the #4 male pick. I didn't get the opportunity to write about any of the women unfortunately, but I will say I have no problem with any of the collective choices except for the inclusion of Thandie Newton's turn in W., which would probably get my vote for the year's worst performance. This is a democratic process though, and that is how the votes came out. Here are the top tens.

1. Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
2. Sean Penn - Milk
3. Robert Downey Jr. - Tropic Thunder
4. Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler
5. Michael Shannon - Revolutionary Road
6. Josh Brolin - W.
7. Robert Downey Jr. - Iron Man
8. Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
9. Mathieu Amalric - A Christmas Tale
10. Michael Sheen - Frost/Nixon
The Complete List

1. Sally Hawkins - Happy-Go-Lucky
2. Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married
3. Melissa Leo - Frozen River
4. Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler
5. Kate Winslet - Revolutionary Road
6. Michelle Williams - Wendy and Lucy
7. Ann Savage - My Winnipeg
8. Dianne Wiest - Synecdoche, New York
9. Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona
10. Angelina Jolie - Changeling
The Complete List

2008 BAFTA Nominations

I'm not gonna go in-depth here, as I don't feel the BAFTAs have much overall effect on the Oscars (The Pianist notwithstanding). Instead, here are some things that jumped out at me:

- The Sally Hawkins omission is a blatant snub not only to her fine work in Happy-Go-Lucky, but also to Mike Leigh's wonderful film, which is almost a love-letter Britain yet received not a single nomination. Truly egregious.

- The Reader's fast rising status here and at the Globes may indeed carry over to a screenplay nod at the Oscars (to go along with the requisite Winslet nod). I don't however expect the trend to repeat itself in the top categories. There just isn't enough time to build on the momentum.

- The BAFTAs represent some of the only love Eastwood's underrated Changeling has received thus far, and that's a welcome change of pace. If Gran Torino does in fact pull off some last second, high-profile Oscar nods, in the years to come we may wonder why his other '08 venture wasn't equally rewarded.

- The Slumdog love-fest has risen to a sickening degree, as BAFTA has honored Freida friggin' Pinto for Supporting Actress, one of the most cardboard performances of the year.

- And the Brits still manage to feel the love from BAFTA despite the group's goal at worldwide appeal, as Tilda Swinton grabs an inexplicable Supporting nod away from many much more deserving American contenders.

So yeah, business as usual at the BAFTAs. Here are the nominations.
(via Incontention)

Best Film
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Reader”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

Best British Film
“In Bruges”
“Mamma Mia!”
“Man on Wire”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Director
Clint Eastwood, “Changeling”
David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon”
Stephen Daldry, “The Reader”
Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Actor
Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”
Dev Patel, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Sean Penn, “Milk”
Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”

Best Actress
Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”
Kristin Scott Thomas, “I’ve Loved You So Long”
Meryl Streep, “Doubt”
Kate Winslet, “The Reader”
Kate Winslet, “Revolutionary Road”

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Downey Jr, “Tropic Thunder”
Brendan Gleeson, “In Bruges”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt”
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Brad Pitt, “Burn After Reading”

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, “Doubt”
Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Freida Pinto, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Tilda Swinton, “Burn After Reading”
Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler”

Best Original Screenplay
Joel and Ethan Coen, “Burn After Reading”
J. Michael Straczynski, “Changeling”
Martin McDonagh, “In Bruges”
Philippe Claudel, “I’ve Loved You So Long”
Dustin Lance Black, “Milk”

Best Adapted Screenplay
Eric Roth, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Peter Morgan, “Frost/Nixon”
David Hare, “The Reader”
Justin Haythe, “Revolutionary Road”
Simon Beaufoy, “Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Foreign Language Film
“The Baader Meinhof Complex”
“I’ve Loved You So Long”
“Waltz With Bashir”

Best Animated Feature
“Waltz With Bashir”

Best Production Design
“Changeling” (James Murakami; Gary Fettis)
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Donald Graham Burt; Victor Zolfo)
“The Dark Knight” (Nathan Crowley; Peter Lando)
“Revolutionary Road” (Kristi Zea; Debra Schutt)
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Mark Digby; Michelle Day)

Best Cinematography
“Changeling” (Tom Stern)
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Claudio Miranda)
“The Dark Knight” (Wally Pfister)
“The Reader” (Chris Menges; Roger Deakins)
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Anthony Dod Mantle)

Best Costume Design
“Changeling” (Deborah Hopper)
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Jacqueline West)
“The Dark Knight” (Lindy Hemming)
“The Duchess” (Michael O’Connor)
“Revolutionary Road” (Albert Wolsky)

Best Film Editing
“Changeling” (Joel Cox; Gary D. Roach)
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Kirk Baxter; Angus Wall)
“The Dark Knight” (Lee Smith)
“Frost/Nixon” (Mike Hill; Dan Hanley)
“In Bruges” (Jon Gregory)
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Chris Dickens)

Best Makeup & Hair
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“The Duchess”

Best Music
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Alexandre Desplat)
“The Dark Knight” (Hans Zimmer; James Newton Howard)
“Mamma Mia!” (Benny Andersson; Bjorn Ulvaeus)
“Slumdog Millionaire” (A.R. Rahman)
“WALL-E” (Thomas Newman)

Best Sound
“The Dark Knight”
“Quantum of Solace”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Visual Effects
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crustal Skull”
“Iron Man”
“Quantum of Solace”

Carl Foreman Award (for debut British writers, directors and producers)
Simon Chinn (producer), “Man on Wire”
Judy Craymer (producer), “Mamma Mia!”
Garth Jennings (writer), “Son of Rambow”
Steve McQueen, (writer/director), “Hunger”
Solon Papadopoulos and Roy Boulter (producers), “Of Time and the City”

Orange Rising Star Award (announced earlier; voted by the public)
Michael Cera
Noel Clarke
Michael Fassbender
Rebecca Hall
Toby Kebbell

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Stream: Fever Ray - "If I Had a Heart" (Fuck Buttons Remix)

"If I Had a Heart", the lead-off track from the excellent self-titled debut album from Fever Ray (solo project of The Knife singer Karin Dreijer Andersson), is a spooky minimal electro-noir track with atmosphere so thick you'd need a cleaver to slice through it. Avant-noise fetishists Fuck Buttons have taken the liberty of dropping a remix of the track just as the album became available for download this past Tuesday (it'll physically show up on the 7" single for the track next month). So it sounds more or less exactly as you'd expect coming from these two artists, and it'd be real hard to top the original, but along with "Bright Tomorrow" this may be the most single-ready track Fuck Buttons have attached their name to thus far. Stream it over at Stereogum.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

InRO Feature: Albums We Missed

Here's a good example of how Stereo Sanctity will look going forward for the foreseeable future. Albums We Missed is a feature I put together for In Review Online (my boy Sam thought of that nifty title though), which highlights some records that the site never got around to covering in 2008. All these reviews were written by me and previously published on Stereo Sanctity, but they look awfully spiffy at the newly redesigned IRO. Check it out.

Changes afoot at Stereo Sanctity

If you've consistently been following Stereo Sanctity over the last few months you've probably noticed that I've been stretching myself a little thin across two other websites in addition to this blog. As things began to really take shape over at In Review Online in particular, I've decided to give myself over more fully to concentrating my efforts and various writing pursuits on them.

Last year around this time I announced that I would be adding music reviews to Stereo Sanctity, in hopes of complimenting my film writing. Things went well; I wrote around 200 reviews over that span. It's all become a little tiring however, and now starting in 2009, I won't be giving over reviews for every single album I listen to - at least not here. Instead, most of my record reviews will be available to read at IRO. I plan then on using Stereo Sanctity as more of a hub for my various reviews. So I will still post here like normal when I have a new review out there in the interweb, but it will be available as a link to the particular site that the review happens to appear on (this will be the procedure for my Popmatters writing as well). Most of my posting on Stereo Sanctity then will be given over to things like song streams, personal commentary of the worlds of film and music and, of course, full-fledged film reviews, although I'm sure a few of those will make there way onto IRO as well.

So basically nothing much will change on your end, except that now when you visit Stereo Sanctity you can more easily access all my reviews and featured columns through one central location. Despite all this, updating should stay on a daily (or near daily) frequency here on SS, but with a wider range of topics touched on, as I won't feel limited to just music/film reviews and the like. In any case, I'll go ahead and test it out for a while, and if it doesn't work out, I can always go back to bombarding you readers with 4-5 record reviews per week. And of course, any sort of feedback could help the process along as well.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Simply Amazing

The highlight of last nights Golden Globes had to have been when Tina Fey, when excepting her award for Actress in a Comedy Series, called out real life fans (or non-fans really) who post at Dianefan gets the brunt of smack-down, and the folks over at have parsed the archives for her (?) most scathing comments. Here's Tom O'Neil questioning Tina about the incident on 2 separate occasions. The whole thing is rather hilarious as Tina breaks down the 4th wall. If you missed out on what happen, O'Neil recaps the events here.

2008 ACE Eddie Nominees

The all-important American Cinema Editors released their nominees today, and the consensus has now cemented to a groan-inducing level. I can't really imagine any film knocking out any of these five drama nominees when the Academy announces on the 22nd. Here are the film nominees. You can check out all the TV nominees and the rest over at AwardsDaily.



The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Angus Wall & Kirk Baxter

The Dark Knight
Lee Smith, A.C.E.

Mike Hill, A.C.E. & Dan Hanley, A.C.E.

Elliot Graham

Slumdog Millionaire
Chris Dickens


In Bruges
Jon Gregory, A.C.E.

Mama Mia
Leslie Walker

Tropic Thunder
Greg Hayden

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Alisa Lepselter

Stephen Schaffer

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Stream: Grouper - "False Horizon"

Liz Harris' great 2008 record Dragging a Dead Deer Up A Hill was one of the most slept-on releases of last year. Only a few weeks removed from my '08 round-up and I'm already kicking myself for not finding room for the record on my top ten. I did however get to sneak it onto my "Next Ten" selections over at In Review Online. Anyway, that was then, this is now. "False Horizon" is a new song from an upcoming split 7" from Grouper and City Center. It was recorded around the same time as Dead Deer and from the sound of things it certainly could have been included on that album. The same ghostly ambiance seeps it's way through the fuzz. Very beautiful stuff. Take a listen over at her Myspace. (via Gorilla vs. Bear)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The 2nd Annual Stereo Sanctity Film Awards

It becomes a tiring award season with the same names continually popping up at every ceremony. A little diversity would go a long way, but that's rarely the case. I will give the Academy credit though, as a good deal of these picks are probably going to show up on nomination morning. What follows then are my personal picks for the best of film in 2008. Or in other words, if I had a ballot, this is how I would cast my vote. These are ranked in order of preference, with the winner mark in red. I've stuck with 5 nominees in the main categories and 3 in the techs. Enjoy.

Best Picture

The Wrestler
The Dark Knight

Synecdoche, New York

Snow Angels


Best Director
Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler)
Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight)
Charlie Kaufman (Synecdoche, New York)
Jonathan Demme (Rachel Getting Married)
David Gordon Green (Snow Angels)

Best Actor
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
Sean Penn (Milk)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road)
Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)
Benicio Del Toro (Che)

Best Actress
Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)
Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road)
Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky)
Michelle Williams (Wendy and Lucy)

Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
Eddie Marsan (Happy-Go-Lucky)
Brad Pitt (Burn After Reading)

Best Supporting Actress
Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler)
Viola Davis (Doubt)
Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married)
Kate Winslet (The Reader)
Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)

Best Original Screenplay
Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married)
Charlie Kaufman (Synecdoche, New York)
Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky)
Robert Siegel (The Wrestler)
Woody Allen (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)

Best Adapted Screenplay
John Patrick Shanley (Doubt)
David Gordon Green (Snow Angels)
Christopher & Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight)
Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road)
John Ajvide Lindqvist (Let the Right One In)

Best Editing
Slumdog Millionaire
The Dark Knight
The Wrestler

Best Cinematography
Claudio Miranda (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Wally Pfister (The Dark Knight)
Hoyte Van Hoytema (Let the Right One In)

Best Art Direction
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight

Synecdoche, New York

Best Costume Design
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Revolutionary Road


Best Original Score
Jon Brion (Synecdoche, New York)
James Newton Howard, Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight)
Alexandre Desplat (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

Best Makeup
Synecdoche, New York
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Tropic Thunder

Best Foreign Language Film
Let the Right One In
Flight of the Red Balloon
I've Loved You So Long

Best Documentary Feature
Man on Wire
Encounters at the End of the World
Waltz With Bashir

Best Original Song
"The Wrestler" (Bruce Springsteen - The Wrestler)
"Little Person" (Jon Brion - Synecdoche, New York)

"Jaiho" (AR Rahmen - Slumdog Millionaire)

Best Animated Film
Waltz With Bashir
Kung Fu Panda

The Wrestler, The Dark Knight - 7
Synecdoche, New York, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - 6
Rachel Getting Married, Revolutionary Road - 4
Happy-Go-Lucky, Snow Angels, Let the Right One In - 3

2008 Golden Globe Predictions

In case you're interested, my predictions for the 2008 Golden Globe awards are up over at In Review Online.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Directors Guild of America Nominees!

And that does it. Here are your..........sorry, I dosed off there for a sec...five Best Picture nominees. The directing race still may hold a surprise, with one of these gentlemen missing the cut. I'd say Ron Howard and Gus Van Sant are the weakest right now, with Darren Aronofsky and Mike Leigh nipping at their heels. I'll offer my final predictions the night before the AMPAS announces.

(via Incontention)

David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Christopher Nolan, “The Dark Knight”
Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon”
Gus Van Sant, “Milk”
Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Writers Guild of America Nominees!

Let's jump right in shall we. First off, The Dark Knight has now scored it's third (!) guild nod of the week. If it grabs the DGA tomorrow, you can take it to the bank for a Best Picture nod. The rest of the adapted nominees went more or less as planned in my opinion. I never thought The Reader could truly score here, at least not with that tiresome courtroom drama grafted onto it's back half. Revolutionary Road has to be considered the most prominent omission, although I've been saying for a while that I didn't feel it would register within the industry. In a few years, we may scratch our heads as to why the film wasn't singled-out more, but this year I expect it to be overlook from here on out. It's just to polarizing a film, and awards are always about group-think and consensus.

The original screenplay category threw a few curve balls though. Burn After Reading is fairly shocking in my eyes, although the WGA does have a history of nominating comedies (personally, I would have liked to see Tropic Thunder instead). Next up there is The Wrestler, which has earned a well-deserved first mention from a major guild. The film sitting on the cusp of major contention I feel. The film's best shot remains in the Best Director category though, yet this nod has only added to the momentum. I'm also glad to see The Visitor sneak in here, but at the expense of the highly touted Rachel Getting Married comes as quite the surprise. Jonathan Demme's film has taken a bit a of a hit today, but the Academy always switches out a few of the WGA choices, and I still have a strong feeling that the Oscar will come down to Milk or Rachel Getting Married when it's all said and done. The water is slowly clearing and tomorrow's DGA nods should reward our patience with an increased focus on the race.

Best Adapted Screenplay

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Eric Roth; based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
“The Dark Knight” (Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan; based on characters appearing in DC Comics)
“Doubt” (John Patrick Shanley; based on his play)
“Frost/Nixon” (Peter Morgan; based on his play)
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Simon Beaufoy; based on the novel “Q&A” by Vikas Swarup)

Best Original Screenplay
“Burn After Reading” (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
“Milk” (Dustin Lance Black)
“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (Woody Allen)
“The Visitor” (Thomas McCarthy)
“The Wrestler” (Robert D. Siegel)

In Review Online's Best of 2008 Film/Music Lists

In Review Online, the up-and-coming website which I contribute to, has published their annual Best-of lists for the year 2008. I contributed my picks and thoughts to the music portion, as well as fellow writer Lukas Suveg. You may recognize some of the write-ups if you caught my year-end list here at SS, but I did throw in a few new blurbs for those interested.

On the film side of things, site editor Sam C. Mac contributes his typically idiosyncratic list of the best films of the year, joined by Luke Gorham (who happens to write the monthly Chasing Gold column with me, a new one of which should be up within the week I'd assume).

Anyway, take a look and bookmark the site if you haven't already.

Awards Daily: "The Wrestler" Featurette

"I'm very proud of the movie. I think it's the hardest movie I've ever made. I think it's the best movie I've ever made."

Well if nothing else, it is certainly the best movie of 2008.

(via Awardsdaily)

American Society of Cinematographers Nominees

The big news with this morning's ASC nominees is that The Dark Knight moved into a slot ahead of presumed nominee Milk. Hopefully this is just the first of the coming tech guilds that recognize the myriad achievements of Chris Nolan's new-classic.

Roger Deakins somewhat unexpectedly picked up two nominations (or 1 1/2 I guess) here as well. It would be just his luck if he again received 2 nods from the Academy, only to split his own vote, as he did last year with No Country and The Assassination of Jesse James. Other than that, Wally Pfister and Anthony Dod Mantle were shoo-ins here, so no big changes in the front runners in my view. Here are the nominees (via Awardsdaily):

Roger Deakins, Revolutionary Road
Roger Deakins & Chris Menges, The Reader
Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire
Claudio Miranda, Benjamin Button
Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Producers Guild of America Nominees!

Here are this year's nominees from the PGA. This is the first of this week's make-or-break slate of nominations. The DGA and WGA to follow in the coming days.

(via Incontention)

Motion Picture
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Ceán Chaffin, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall)
“The Dark Knight” (Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Emma Thomas)
“Frost/Nixon” (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard)
“Milk” (Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks, Michael London)
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Christian Colson, Paul Ritchie)

“Kung Fu Panda”

“Man on Wire”
“Trouble the Water”
“Standard Operating Procedure”