Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Author(s): Alex / Daniel
Location: Washington State / Ohio


Directed by Milos Forman
Adapted to the screen by John Logan
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Principal Cast:

Hank Azaria (The Proprietor)
Neil Patrick Harris (The Balladeer)
Michael Cerveris (John Wilkes Booth)
Paul Giamatti (Charles Guiteau)
Bebe Neuwirth (Sara Jane Moore)
Toni Collette (Lynnette "Squeaky" Fromme)
Jack Black (John Hinckley, Jr.)
Patrick Wilson (Leon Czolgosz)
Robert Downey Jr. (Samuel Byck)
Antonio Bandaras (Giuseppe Zangara)
Alan Cumming (Lee Harvey Oswald)

Tagline: “Everybody's Got the Right”

Synopsis: "Assassins" opens in a classic American fairground shooting gallery. The Proprietor of the shooting gallery sings "Everybody's Got the Right" as the assassins enter one by one. The assassins are John Wilkes Booth, Charles Guiteau, Sara Jane Moore, Lynnette "Squeaky" Fromme, John Hinckley, Jr., Leon Czolgosz, Samuel Byck, and Giuseppe Zangara. The Proprietor says that all of their problems will disappear by killing a president. The Proprietor hands out guns to each one as they walk up to the gallery. John Wilkes Booth enters last, but then leaves abruptly as he crys "Sic Semper Tyrannis!" and shoots President Abraham Lincoln.

The Balladeer, the omniscient musical narrator, reads from Booth's diary and explains that Booth only wanted to become a legend and that is why he shot the president. Later, the male assassins are in a bar as Byck enters to ask if anyone has seen President Richard Nixon. At the bar, Zangara exclaims that he wants to become the US Ambassador to France. Czolgosz and Hinckley are about to start a fight until Booth stops them. Meanwhile, Fromme and Moore are smoking joints in a park as Fromme tells Moore of her love for Charles Manson. Moore tells Fromme that she is an FBI informant and suffers from amnesia, although this is not true. They practice with their guns by shooting at a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket. Fromme hits the bucket while Moore doesn't even come close. The next day, Fromme and Hinckley are in Hinckley's college dorm talking about their love interests: Manson and Jodie Foster. Fromme makes fun of Hinckley for loving a woman he has never met and he throws her out. During that same day, Guiteau meets Moore as he attempts to teach her how to shoot a gun correctly and he also attempts to flirt with her. The two find Czolgosz as they sing about a gun's impact on the world. Byck sits on a park bench and is writing a letter to Leonard Bernstein. While writing, he discovers that he is ignored by the world. Byck wants to be noticed and make a difference, so he decides to assassinate President Richard Nixon. Fromme and Moore meet once again and this time talk of assassinating President Gerald Ford.

The Balladeer and The Proprietor narrate the following attempts through song with the assassins joining in. One day after being at the bar, Zangara had attempted to assassinate President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Zangara is put into the electric chair and executed. After devising his plan, Byck heads to the airport to hijack a plane. On the radio, we hear that his attempt on Nixon's life was a failure and in a twist of irony, he didn't even delay Nixon's schedule. Booth hangs himself so he does not fall in the hands of the police. Czolgosz goes to the World Fair to shake hands with President McKinley. Once it is his turn to shake hands with the president, he pulls out his gun. After being denied a kiss by Moore, Guiteau goes to the train station to ask President James Garfield if he can be the US Ambassador to France. After Garfield says no, Guiteau pulls out his gun. Guiteau gladly walks to the gallows where he is hanged. Fromme and Moore go to find Ford. Dressed as a nun, Fromme gets her chance first. Her gun doesn't go off. Moore's turn was next, but she dropped her bullets everywhere. Oblivious to what was going on around him, President Ford tried to help Moore pick up her bullets. Moore resulted to throwing her bullets at Ford which was, of course, a failure. Lastly, Hinckley attempts to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, but does not succeed. Out of the eight assassins, four fail and four succeed. The Balladeer and The Proprietor now tell all the assassins, living or dead, that their actions didn't solve any problems and that if they want to solve their problems, they must follow the American Dream. The assassins refused this idea because assassinating the president was their American Dream. Now, all of the assassins assemble on the sixth floor of a building in Texas. They see a young man named Lee Harvey Oswald about to commit suicide. Booth tells him that if he really wants to solve his problems, that he should kill the president. Oswald looks out of the window and see President John Fitzgerald Kennedy driving by. Booth hands him a gun.

Back at the fairground where the film started, the assassins and now Oswald restate their motto, "Everybody's Got the Right" and fire their guns at the camera to close the film.

What the press would say:

After the wave of movie musicals lately, I figured that Milos Forman's new film "Assassins" wouldn't stand out and would fall in the category that "Rent" and "The Producers" ended up in. I was completely wrong. Based on Stephen Sondheim's hit musical, "Assassins" follows the infamous assassins (and would-be assassins) of American History. This isn't your typical story line. The film shows all of the assassins interact with each other (no matter what the time period) and then shows all of assassinations, or attempted assassinations. Some of the musical is fiction but there still is lots of history in the film. The Balladeer and The Proprietor are played by Neil Patrick Harris (reprising his Broadway role) and Hank Azaria, respectively. The Balladeer acts as a narrator. The Proprietor is the instigator. Harris plays The Balladeer as the angel on your left shoulder and Azaria plays The Proprietor as the devil on your right. They are both magnificent as Harris sings his heart out and Azaria plays evil while pretending to be good. If I were to pick one that was better, it would have to be Hank Azaria. Azaria's great voice and his conniving character make him a key player in this year's Best Actor race. Michael Cerveris returns to his Tony Award-winning role as John Wilkes Booth. Cerveris starts the fun of "Assassins" as he shouts out "Sic Semper Tyrannus!" at the end of the first number and the show's signature number: "Everybody's Got the Right". Cerveris is top notch and after winning the Broadcast Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor, he starts this awards season off with a bang (no pun intended). However, Cerveris was not the only winner of the BFCA this year. He tied with his costar Paul Giamatti who plays Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President James Garfield. Giamatti is great, but it is one major scene that has put him on the awards circuit this year. In the number "The Ballad of Guiteau", Guiteau is walking up the steps to the gallows to be hanged. But that doesn't phase him at all of being a bad thing. He sings about heaven and the goodness of God. You truly believe Giamatti as he sings (who knew he could sing?) his way to a Best Supporting Actor nomination. The two women of the cast, Bebe Neuwirth and Toni Collette, are so much fun to watch. Neuwirth plays Sara Jane Moore, the would-be assassin of President Gerald Ford. Her part is the main comic relief of the film. Whether it be attempting to shoot a gun at a bucket of chicken or when she tells Toni Collette's character about herself (what she tells her is completely false), Neuwirth is amazing to watch. But not only does Neuwirth display comedy, but she also plays drama when she drops her bullets all over the groud when she was about to assassinate Ford. This is a comical scene, but you actually feel sorry for Moore as she scrambles on the ground to pick up her bullets. I guess the reason why Moore was my favorite character is because Neuwirth just makes it incredible. Toni Collette plays Charles Manson's muse Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, the other woman accused of attempting to assassinate Gerald Ford. Fromme, or "Squeaky" as she is referred to, is also a great role and Collette plays her to perfection. Collette is so much fun to watch as a pot-smoking, crazy, and devoted maniac. "Assassins" is a joy to watch and the musical numbers are very impressive. The singing is amazing, the acting is phenomenal, and the direction is outstanding. "Assassins" is the best movie musical in the last ten years. To say that this film has a good chance of taking the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and the Academy Awards by storm is not true. Expect a cyclone.

Best Picture
Best Director: Milos Forman
Best Actor Hank Azaria
Best Actor: Neil Patrick Harris (Golden Globes only)
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Cerveris
Best Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti
Best Supporting Actress: Bebe Neuwirth
Best Supporting Actress: Toni Collette
Best Adapted Screenplay: John Logan
Best Costume Design
Best Cinematography

Barely Standing

Author(s): George
Location: Atlanta

“Barely Standing"

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Written by: Terry George
Music by: Philip Glass

Principal Cast:

Malcolm David Kelly as Tom
Alex Pettyfer as Michael
Minka Kelly as Anne
Phyllis Somerville as Ms. Washington
Jake Gyllenhaal as Mr. Arnold
Daniel Radcliffe as Mark

Tagline: "Nobody Sees Me... Nobody Cares"

Synopsis: Tom is a regular kid, in a regular high school, in a regular town, in a regular world. He is not the most popular kid at school and doesn't even have a cell phone or iPod. He is a quiet freshman and speaks only to his one friend, Michael. Michael is very popular and is only hanging around Tom to make Tom feel better which only brings Tom into a deeper depression. His life in school is based on three rules before he speaks or does anything. What will they think? What will they say? What will they do?

He is on the tennis team to his father's deep disappointment and is fairly good, but not amazing. He even has a crush on a beautiful senior, Anne. He is to afraid to say anything because he doesn't know what people will say about him. His real passion is movies. He absolutely loves them. He love musicals even more. One of his favorites is MOULIN ROUGE, which he knows every song and sings them to himself. He really has a good singing voice, but is to scared about what people will think to try out for school plays. He also doesn't talk about how much movie trivia he knows to people, fearing they will not like him.

In school he is pretty smart, but his parents want him to do all the "smart" classes to get ahead. He just can't seem to keep up though, and is always having to do extra work to stay in the class. Once he catches up, he's bogged down by the textbooks and he is always tired. There is only one problem. He wants to let go. To say what he wants without fear of what they will think. To be the one who is able to keep up, not fall behind. He is to angry to keep silent. To angry to keep running like this and to sad to do anything about it.

Once his teacher, Mr. Arnold sees this, he sends him to counseling lessons with Ms. Washington who is always trying to get answers out of Tom. His counselor is patient, but Tom is not. Why should this woman suddenly be able to look into my life, he wonders. Why should I care what she says? What makes her so special so that she can look into my life and give me analysis on my behavior! His counseling room starts to look like a prison and Tom can't bear it any longer. He wants to scream, to break something, to yell at the world. But he still has the nagging question in the back of his mind. What will they think? So he just stays.

That day at tennis practice, the team starts to talk about their favorite movies. Mark, the oldest senior and an enemy of Tom's, brings up MOULIN ROUGE. They say they love it and start trying to sing the songs. Tom looks up and sees them. This is his chance, he says. This his shot to break. To not care what people will think of him. He's tired. He's tired of the textbooks bringing him down, his parents bringing him down, his teachers bringing him down, everyone ignoring him, and he's barely standing. Barely able to keep up. He wants so badly to sing the last part of "Come What May" from the film and he is still thinking about what will people say. Then, finally, with all his courage, he booms out with his beautiful voice: "Come What May, I Will Love You 'Till My Dying Day!"

He's beaming at the sky, and is happy for the first time in a long time. He doesn't care about what people will say, or what they will think. Because now he's happy. Because now, he's standing tall...

What the press would say:

Steven Soderbergh is not known for teen drams, but it should go on to his resume. Barely Standing is a true look into the life of an average high schooler. It is not the glossed over version of it, like in High School Musical, but a place where not everyone comes out on top. Malcolm David Kelly proves he can act remarkably, and is truly amazing as the depression-stricken Tom. He really is the only character in the film with development but other people like Pettyfer and especially Somervill provide good performances. The whole film takes place at the school, and Tom's feeling about his parents are expressed to Pettyfer and thoughts of screaming and what people will think are echoed in his head. The screenplay is the driving force of the film, making heart-breakingly original and true. George provides a script with so much depth, that you would swear this was actually happening. Maybe it is. Maybe there is a kid in high school just like Tom. I bet there is somewhere. Barely Standing is strikingly original, and what could have been a documentary study on the way teenagers think, comes out as an amazing portrait of one adolescent kid trying to find himself...

Best Picture
Best Actor (Kelly)
Best Supporting Actress (Somerville)
Best Director (Soderbergh)
Best Screenplay (George)
Best Score

Beeville, Texas

Author(s): Jamie Madden
Location: Melbourne, Australia

“Beeville, Texas"

Directed by Alexander Payne
Written by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor
Produced by Paul Thomas Anderson
Original Score by Rolfe Kent

Principal Cast:

John Cusack as Jeremy Middleton
Annette Bening as Prudence Heart
Jennifer Tilly as Ariana Feelgood
Joan Cusack as Victoria R. Wiltman

Tagline: "Hypocrisy, insolence, absurdity and capitalism = sex ed in Beeville, Texas"

Synopsis: Jeremy Middleton is an unsuccessful documentary filmmaker, who is sent on a final attempt to revive his already lackluster career. His assignment takes him into Beeville, Texas, where he meets with two rival sexual education programs. The first group is ironically named SACKS (The Sexually Abstinent Catholic Kids Sanctum.) SACKS (founded by devout evangelist and NRA spokesperson Prudence Heart) provides a sanctuary for those teenagers who wish to live in harmony in their society without exploiting their bodies through premature ungodly acts of sexuality. The second and much more controversial group is SLUTT (The Sexually Liberated and United Teachers of Texas) founded by Ariana Feelgood. The SLUTT program aims to educate teens and pre-teens on the joys and pleasures of unselfish acts of sexual liberation, in a dream of a utopian open-minded god loving society.

When Principal of Beeville High, Victoria R. Wiltman is suddenly beheaded in a freak archery accident, vice-principal Prudence Heart, receives the promotion of principal, where upon some immediate changes are noticed. All junk food is banned from the cafeteria, a daily prayer is spoken during the daily assembly and the schools funding of sexual education triples, thus creating a surplus of sex ed classes and a totalitarian regime, similar to Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Jeremy’s documentary then switches focus to Ariana and SLUTT’s fight to emancipate and expel the power crazy, gun touting Prudence and SACK, for deplorable actions of treachery and corrupting the innocent minds of the impressionable pubescent youth of Beeville, Texas.

What the press would say:

Alexander Payne returns to high school in this humorously, witty and amusingly original creation of feuding sexual education programs. Payne’s “Beeville, Texas” is not only a story of hilarious proportions, but also features a strong social commentary, ranging from issues of religion, sex, authority, politics and rivalry. Annette Bening and Jennifer Tilly are a flawless match made in heaven, providing unbelievable chemistry, rarely seen on screen. John Cusack offers some sly witty banter, as well as Joan Cusack as the Principal. Rolfe Kent supplies a brilliantly comical score that deserves a long deserved win, as well as for Bening’s performance. However, it is Payne and Jim Taylor’s script that is the heart and soul of the film, highlighted by the Oscar worthy performances. All together a astonishing portray of school sexual education.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION (Comedy/Musical categories for GG)

Best Picture
Best Director
Best Original Screenplay
Best Original Score
Best Actress (Bening, Tilly)
Best Actor (Cusack)
Best Supporting Actress (Cusack)
Best Costume Design

Bright Lights, Sinly City

Author(s): Josh P.
Location: Chicago, IL

“Bright Lights, Sinly City"

Directed by Brian De Palma
Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino
Story by Brian De Palma and Quentin Tarantino
Produced by Lawrence Bender and Brian De Palma
Executive Producers: Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Barry Mendel
Cinematography by Robert Richardson
Edited by Sally Menke
Original Music by Alexandre Desplat

Principal Cast:

Matthew Goode (William Levin)
William Hurt (Charles Levin)
Geena Davis (Barbara Levin)
Michelle Williams (Anna Darsky)
David Morse (Detective John Patley)
Quentin Tarantino (James Beckins)
Michael Biehn (Michael Simmons)
Lukas Haas (Bobby Hendricks)
Christina Ricci (Estelle Marries)

Tagline: "Taking a gamble always has high stakes"

Synopsis: Las Vegas provides an entertaining hot spot where powerful men and women gather in the most notorious spot in the country. Here, on the outskirts of the city, is another one of the many casinos: Sinly City. Every day, hundreds of people come here to spend their money and the casino head Charles Levin (Hurt) is a witness to it all. Also a witness is his son William (Goode). Charles wants a bright future for his son and his fianceé (Williams) away from the deadly attraction of Las Vegas. He wants them to travel out west where his brother, William’s uncle, has a stable job for him in California. William is intruiged by this but isn’t quite taken. Ever since he was young, he wanted to learn more about the casino business that his father helped build, but his father has kept him out of the major loop while his curiosity has continued to grow.

One night, William takes a late night cruise on the notorious streets to fill a sexual need that he has managed to keep quite from his family. While riding along in a rented car, he stumbles upon a pequliar site. On a street corner, he witnesses the head police detective his father employes at the casino (Morse) talking to a strange man (Tarantino). He has noticed this strange man at the casino for many years but never took it upon himself to find out more. He then sees the two men get into a vehicle and drive away. Intrigued, he follows them.

What he finds is that he is led to a secret meeting place in a rundown bar. When he enters, he finds something surprising. Inside are the detective, the mysterious man now named James Beckins and Michael Simmons (Biehn), one of the most notorious drug runners in the city who has built up the reputation of being unmercifully cruel and untouched by police. It is quite a shock to William for him to find out that Simmons and his father have had an unofficial relationship ever since the beginning of his casino days: Simmons uses part of his money from drug running to fund the operations of the casino and his father uses his influence to keep the police off of his trail, aided by having one of the most influential police detectives on the payroll.

However, Will is not turned off by this; he is excited. He wants to now help Simmons because he sees that something exciting has now come out of his father’s business. Simmons agrees and uses him, Beckins and another runner (Haas) to help increase the profits. Will even starts to find a new love interest in one of Simmons’s throw away junkie girls (Ricci). Still, Will does not do the best job of concealing his double life. He disappears for days at a time, starts using the drugs more and more, and when word gets back to his father that something might be going on, Charles starts to act. Disgusted with the way everything has gone, he takes the ultimate risk and turns on Simmons and Pately. Both men are arrested with information provided by an annonomyous tip, and Will is sent to rehab. However the legions still loyal to Simmons have one last card to play. One of them ends up assassinating Charles on the casino floor. At his funeral, Will is reminded of the terrible events that have unfolded and how the bright lights did not cover the deadly sins.

What the press would say:

When one thinks of “Oscar material”, the name Brian De Palma might not immediately jump to mind, but here he certainly delivers an impressive turn. The high fashion life of Las Vegas goes perfectly with De Palma’s sensibilities, as he masterfully creates a highly stylized world drenched in a dark overtone of drugs and death. This is the perfect genre for him to work in and his use of the quick edits, swooping cinematography and fast pace make for just the right note for this film. Quentin Tarantino, a long time fan of De Palma’s work, also provides a fast, intelligent screenplay that plays both to the usual talk heavy dialouge as well as exploring deeper aspects of a high stakes world. Matthew Goode breaks out as a serious leading man in this role. He has proven supporting status in films like The Lookout and Match Point but here he truly shows the fascination this character has from the discovery of a new side of living wild to the ultimate crash he feels at the film’s tragic end. While many people in the ensemble excel, it is Michael Biehn and William Hurt who are standouts. Hurt masters the concerned father who is looking out for the misguided son and Biehn absolutely nails as the cruel villian who is both entertaining to watch and so lovely to hate. Quick-paced editing from Sally Menke, glorious and sweeping cinematography from Robert Richardson, and the quirky original score from Alexandre Desplat (mixed with some oldies from Tarantino’s collection) only add to the sheer enjoyment of this piece. The campaign consideration:

Best Picture
Best Director: Brian De Palma
Best Actor: Matthew Goode
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Biehn
Best Supporting Actor: William Hurt
Best Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino (screenplay/story), Brian De Palama (story)
Best Art Direction
Best Cinematography
Best Film Editing


Author(s): Michael
Location: Oklahoma


Directed by Christopher Guest
Written by Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, and B.J. Novak

Principal Cast:

Christopher Guest- Wadsworth
Catherine O’Hara- Mrs. Peacock
Rachael Harris- Mrs. White
Ed Begley Jr. - Mr. Green
Parker Posey- Miss Scarlett
Eugene Levy- Colonel Mustard
Harry Shearer- Professor Plum
Jennifer Coolidge- Yvette (The Maid)
Michael Hitchcock- Mr. Boddy
Christopher Moynihan- The Motorist
Fred Willard- The Chief/ Evangelist
John Michael Higgins- The Cop
Carrie Aizley- The Singing Telegram Girl
Jane Lynch- The Cook

Tagline: "Communism is just a red herring!"


Synopsis: We all know the game and everyone has their favorite character. We all know our favorite weapon, and we all know our favorite room. But, what most of us don’t know is the real story of these 6 individuals and that night at the Boddy mansion…

It’s 1950 and a certain Mr. Boddy has called together of all of the people he is blackmailing for a new “arrangement.” This brings together the wife of a senator (Mrs. Peacock), the runner of a call girl service (Miss Scarlett), and even a closeted homosexual working with the state department (Mr. Green). Some are suspected of killing their husbands (Mrs. White), selling radio parts during World War II (Colonel Mustard), and having taken advantage of their lady patients (Professor Plum). Upon arriving each guest is greeted by Wadsworth (The Butler) and taken to the library to have champagne. Once they have all arrived they are taken to the Dining Room to dine of course, and during that time they slowly get acquainted with one another. Soon they find out that some way or another they are linked through Washington D.C. and assume that that is why they are all there. Then, the doorbell rings and Mr. Boddy arrives at what is supposed to be his mansion. He sits down to the table and seems to be very friendly with the maid, Yvette. Disgusted at his relations with the maid and wondering what they are really doing there, all of the guests decide to adjourn to the Study for coffee and brandy.

Once in the study and all settled in, Wadsworth unveils that all of the guests are being blackmailed. Following that statement, he goes around the room and unveils the dirty secrets for which each of the guests, except Mr. Boddy, is being blackmailed for. All in confusion now, they then want to know why Mr. Boddy was left out. Wadsworth then informs them that he was the one blackmailing them. It is then that Mr. Boddy notifies the group that he has presents for all of them. The presents happen to be, a revolver, a lead pipe, a candlestick, a wrench, a rope, and a knife. Then, Mr. Boddy tells then that they should kill Wadsworth in order to get the key, unlock the front door, leave, and pretend it never happened. However, when Mr. Boddy turns off the lights so that whoever wants to can kill Wadsworth, a thud is heard, the gun is fired, and suddenly Mrs. Peacock turns the light back on to find, that Mr. Boddy is dead.

From that point on there will be 5 more murders at the Boddy Mansion that will occur during, hilarity, suspense, chaos, and the next 45 minutes until the police arrive. The problem is all 6 murders have to be solved before the police come.

What the press would say:

Nowadays in Hollywood, filmmakers are remaking films left and right simply because there is a lack of originality. So when I heard the news that the 1985 cult classic “Clue” was being remade, I was immediately disgruntled even after hearing that Christopher Guest and his usual crew would be making the film. However I came away from the film extremely happy that it was as good as it was. Christopher Guest shied away from the way he normally directs his movies, by actually giving the actors a script to work with. The film is still improvised a great deal, but you can’t really tell because the dialogue flows so well and is so witty. The film is very much in the spirit of the original film, but it really works because the ensemble does extremely well, but Guest’s directing still shines through. In many ways this film is very different from his other films because it has a lot darker of a tone especially with the Mr. Boddy scenes, but I really liked it because even then, that distinct Guest feeling still shined through. I hate to really claim that one performance was better than another because it truly is an ensemble piece of work that is cast perfectly. Catherine O’Hara is fantastic as Mrs. Peacock and gives an excellent comedic performance. Rachael Harris, who is extremely underrated, rises to the spotlight in this movie and really is the star. She has a great deadpan kind of humor in the film that is hilarious, if anyone in the cast deserves any sort of recognition it is her. Rachael does a unbelievable job and is just hilarious. Harry Shearer offers a lot of good zingers as well, and is really really good. Ed Begley Jr. does a great job and he may seem a bit old for the role, but he a truly great job. Parker Posey gives another juicy performance that is side-splitting humor, and Eugene Levy gave a fine performance as well. Christopher Guest really rose to the occasion and took over a role that was perfectly performed by Tim Curry and does a great job and made the character his own.

Overall, this film really is something to see, and should not be overlooked in any category in any kind of awards show. Hopefully, this incredible movie will reach a broader audience than the 1985 version. A truly great film that everyone needs to go see!

For Your Consideration:

Best Picture
Best Director- Christopher Guest
Best Supporting Actor- Eugene Levy
Best Supporting Actor- Ed Begley Jr.
Best Supporting Actor- Harry Shearer
Best Supporting Actor- Christopher Guest
Best Supporting Actress- Rachael Harris
Best Supporting Actress- Catherine O’Hara
Best Supporting Actress- Parker Posey
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Editing
Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design

Cold Welcome

Author(s): Al
Location: New York

“Cold Welcome"

Directed by David Fincher
Written by Daniel Futterman

Principal Cast:

Sam Aronson: Jake Gyllenhaal
Anne Aronson: Faye Dunaway
Lisa Mendel: Zooey Deschanel
Benny: John C. Reilly
Walter Finch: Chris Cooper
Allan Holt: Stanley Tucci
Michael Woodworth: Kurt Russell
Nora Mendel: Sally Field
Cara Feldman: Rashida Jones
Frank Aronson: Gene Hackman

Tagline: "What happens when you're forced to return to a life you thought you'd left behind?"

Synopsis: Sam Aronson is finally happy with his life. He's got a successful career as a P.I. in New York City, a funny and cute girlfriend Cara, and a good apartment. But one day he gets a fateful call; his mother, telling him that his father Frank, who he had always been on bad terms with, has been murdered. Sam will now have to return to the life he wanted so desperately to leave behind: the sleepy small town in Michigan were he grew up-and always wanted to escape from.

The inept police, headed up by Walter Finch, determines that Frank's probable murderer was Benny, one of Frank's mentally unstable underlings at the store he owned. But Sam suspects otherwise. He decides to return home to try and solve his father's murder. When he returns, he finds his usually calm and understanding mother in a state of dementia and denial. He also comes across his high school sweetheart, Lisa, who stayed in Michigan to care for her sick mother, but occasionally longs for something more. She reluctantly agrees to help him with the case.

While researching his death, Sam finds out more about his father than he ever knew. An obnoxious representative for a big-box store, Allan Holt, had been fighting with Frank for years over trying to buy his land. He also comes across an old college friend of Frank's, Michael Woodworth, who had been financially supporting the family for years but had become irate and constantly threatening Frank to repay him. Sam has suspicions about these two men, and decides to investigate them further. Meanwhile, Sam is reconnecting with his mother and helping her out of her depression.

As he spends more and more time in his sleepy hometown, he discovers things about his family that he never knew, and rekindles his relationship with Lisa. But when he is anonymously threatened over the phone, he wonders if he should stay on the case and avenge the father he barely knew… or return to New York and spend the rest of his live thinking of what could have been.

What the press would say:

At first glance, "Cold Welcome" seems like just another small-town/murder film. It seems formulaic, maybe downright boring. But look beyond its surface and the film isn't about a murder being solved: it's about rediscovering youth, facing a troubled past, and relationships both familial and adversarial. Masterfully directed by David Fincher, who made "Zodiac" dark and interesting, "Cold Welcome" tells the story of a yuppie who returns to his small hometown to solve his father's murder. While the movie does have dark overtones and a melancholy premise, it's really a character drama-about the conflicted Sam and the people who surround him. Fincher directs the film with an almost sepia-tinged feel, weaving an intimate setting around his characters. We never learn anything before Sam does-it's almost as if the film is all through his eyes. As Sam pieces together Frank's murder, we do too. Dan Futterman's script is witty and clever, but the real high point of the film is the acting. Jake Gyllenhaal, the lead, shows depth and range as Sam, a brooding yuppie who does not want to return to the life he left behind. He's showing real capacity here. Faye Dunaway, in a remarkable comeback, works wonders as Sam's earnest mother, shaken by her husband's death. Her eyes convey so many emotions at once, it's almost hard to keep up. Zooey Deschanel, a good actress who doesn't get many good roles, shines as Sam's counterpart. She is visibly hurt by his abandonment and is almost depressing, but she shows glimpses of light beneath her tough exterior that show us Lisa's true colors. Gene Hackman, seen only through flashbacks, does a lot with a limited role. Admittedly, as Sam's dead father, he IS the heart and soul of the movie. Stanley Tucci, Kurt Russell, and Chris Cooper also give great performances in villainous, yet somehow sympathetic roles. John C. Reilly, as the mentally unstable prime suspect, is amazing. He exhibits method acting at its best: completely inhabiting the character and laying himself bare for the camera, Reilly makes every word powerful, every syllable quake, every face filled with meaning. Playing the mentally disabled is hard, but he pulls it off brilliantly.

"Cold Welcome" won't change your life. And it's not the greatest anything. But it's an inherently human, well made picture. And that's all it has to be. Well written and directed, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of conscious thought in their moviegoing experience.

Best Picture-AMPAS
Best Picture (Drama)-HFPA
Best Ensemble-SAG
Best Director-David Fincher
Best Original Screenplay-Dan Futterman
Best Actor-Jake Gyllenhaal
Best Supporting Actor-Gene Hackman
Best Supporting Actor-John C. Reilly
Best Supporting Actor-Stanley Tucci
Best Supporting Actress-Faye Dunaway
Best Supporting Actress-Zooey Deschanel

Diary of a Sociopath

Author(s): Sergio
Location: Spain

“Diary of a Sociopath"

Written and Directed by Alexander Payne
David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf and Marc Turtletaub, Producers
Music by Rolfe Kent

Principal Cast:

Paul Giamatti (Henry Gray)
Jon Heder (Gus)
Evan Rachel Wood (Morgana)
Tony Collette (Deborah)
Harry Dean Stanton (Deborah’s Husband)
Frances Conroy (Ms. Rose)
Maura Tierney (Mary Jane)
Stanley Tucci (Lawyer)

Tagline: “My name is Henry and I am a sociopath.”

Synopsis: Henry Gray hates everybody in a pathological way. He lives in NY and the only physical person he talks with is his owner Ms Rose. He hates his job as a civil servant and, of course, he hates his colleagues too. He considers this world sucks and he can’t find sense in anything. His only illusion in life is a blog he’s created, in which he writes about how he feels day after day, expressing all his frustration. His dedication to the blog turns an obsession and he cannot wait to be at home, so he dedicates the working hours in the office to write on it and to read the comments. His boss finds out by a spiteful worker and Henry is moved to a department with no internet access.

Henry has to drive to Jacksonville because his sister Deborah is going to get married for the third time and he will be the godfather. Deborah works in an elders’ residence, she is pregnant of twins and asks him for a big favour. Her son Gus is studying his first year in Columbia University and she asks him for bringing Gus with him to the wedding. Henry had avoided seeing his nephew in all this year and he doesn’t like the idea at all, but he has no chance. So he buys a portable computer with Wifi and he picks up his almost unknown nephew.

During the trip, Henry shows himself as a silent and antisocial person meanwhile Gus doesn’t stop talking about everything and that make sick to his uncle. Gus has been a freak all his life but, since he is in the University, he wants to experiment all he can because his hormones are over-excited. To pass the night Henry looks for a motel with internet connection but he doesn’t find any. Henry forces his nephew to have the portable computer switched on to find a wifi zone. Gus thinks his uncle is a pervert. Finally they stay in a motel with no internet and with just one bed for both. Henry decides to sleep in the car after the sounds recital and sample of piercings and tattoos of his nephew.

Henry passes the following day with a great anxiety and neck pain. Gus convinces his uncle to drive and, when Henry gets slept, Gus crashes the car against a van. The van is led by Morgana, a learner driver, and after a great discussion with Henry she takes them to a mechanical workshop. Unexpectedly they have to stay in the village until they arrange the car, so they have to stay in a motel. The wedding is the following day and Deborah warns his brother that they have to be there in time or she will kill them. Gus gets a date with Morgana and hours later Henry receives a call from Gus asking for help. They were having sex in Morgana's car and they get hooked by their genital piercings. Henry can’t believe his own eyes and takes them to the hospital. While the operation, Henry sees the opportunity to get into an administration office where there is a computer with internet. A nurse sees him and calls security. Henry passes the night in prison. In the morning Morgana pays the bail, in gratefulness for his help. The car is not arranged yet and they have to get to the wedding before midday. Gus confesses to his uncle that he and Morgana have married in the hospital’s chapel because they have understood the incident as a sign. Morgana offers her car and the three come rightly in time for the wedding.

During the wedding Henry meets with his first secret love, Mary Jane. He thinks he has the strength to finally say something to her, but now she is married and Henry feels frustrated. Henry hears a conversation in which Mary Jane talks with some friends about a ridiculous blog called "Diary of a Sociopath" she found once by chance. They all laugh about some of the stories she tells. Henry finds a silent support in his sister Deborah, the only one able to understand him. Suddenly Henry receives a call from a lawyer in NY. Ms Rose is dead and she has left all her fortune to him, her money, her building. Henry gets shocked and gets it as a big irony, and like the perfect way to end an unsubstantial cycle in his life.

Henry is in Ms Rose’s burial. She had been like a mother for him and he feels a great unexpected emptiness inside. Gus and Morgana are beside him, they seem happy together. Henry realizes he has to begin his real life for once.

What the press would say:

Henry Gray is one of these persons that we would cross in our life and whom we would do the most minimal case. He is a person who passes unnoticed in life and from whom we would move away because of his antipathy. Alexander Payne wrote this script with Paul Giamatti in mind. Payne was not conceiving the film without him. Paul Giamatti plays this role in a magisterial way, providing it of a great realism because initially we hate him and then we go understanding his acts and getting closer. Henry Gray becomes real by Giamatti's wonderful work. But the history doesn’t make sense without the contraposition of his extrovert and crazy nephew Jon Heder and this awkward and absent-minded young woman, with hippy parents, that believes in the signs Evan Rachel Wood. They both play their roles in a passionate and touching way. Tony Collette is perfect, like always, and plays a funny and full of shades character, who is employed at an elders' residence and who always falls in love with very old men.

This is a very entertaining movie and, in occasions, reflexive as well. Flood, satirical, with black humour, irony and sarcasm. With big doses of social critique and without false morality. An atypical movie, praised by the public and the critics. A story, simple in appearance, which turns out to be a thesis about how we relate to the others. You will leave the theatre completely overloaded, full of energy, wanting to live and to fill your life with lots of experiences, no matter how they will be.


Best Picture
Best Director: Alexander Payne
Best Original Screenplay: Alexander Payne
Best Leading Actor: Paul Giamatti
Best Supporting Actor: Jon Heder
Best Supporting Actress: Evan Rachel Wood
Best Supporting Actress: Tony Collette