In next week’s issue, I’ll have my huge Oscars form guide and details on how you can enter my 10th annual Pick The Oscars contest.  Which 5 categories will I choose this year?  They certainly won’t be any of the acting categories which seem all but locked in.


I thought I’d use this blog to catch up on a few little things which I’ve neglected to mention over the past few weeks.




The last piece of the Oscar jigsaw was fitted into place with this morning’s BAFTA Awards.  The British tend to favour their own but it was still nice to see the wins of Colin Firth (for A Single Man) and Carey Mulligan (for An Education).  I’m utterly convinced that Mulligan gave a better performance than Streep and Bullock but it won’t count for much at the Oscars.  I can always hope for a surprise.


Best supporting actor and supporting actress went to Christoph Waltz and Mo’nique respectively.  Both have plans to extend their homes to accommodate the 15 million awards that they’ve won over the past 2 months.


And yes, The Hurt Locker juggernaut rolls on with its win in the best picture category.  It’s now the clear favourite.  Centrebet has it listed at $1.75 with Avatar at $2.00.  I expect it to shorten further in the coming days.  The race is run as far as I’m concerned – The Hurt Locker has the Oscar in the bag.


Oscars – Special Screenings


Quite a few of the Oscar best picture nominees are currently showing in cinemas but a few opened during the middle of 2009.


Dendy Portside are putting on special screenings over the next two weeks for those nominees you might have missed.  They are for District 9 (Mar 6, Mar 7), Inglourious Basterds (Mar 6, Mar 7), A Serious Man (Feb 24, Mar 3) and Up (Feb 27, Feb 28).  You can find out more info on the Dendy website.


Having seen The Blind Side over the weekend, I’ve now chalked up all of the best picture nominees.  If I were an Academy member, my votes using the new preferential voting system would be:


1. Avatar, 2. An Education, 3. Up In The Air, 4. A Serious Man, 5. District 9, 6. The Hurt Locker, 7. Precious, 8. The Blind Side, 9. Up, 10. Inglourious Basterds.


I know that sounds harsh putting Inglourious Basterds in the 10th slot but I actually thought all of this year’s nominees were pretty good and there were just a few issues I had with Basterds (relating to the ending) that don’t sit well with me.


Avatar - $100m In Australia!


On 12 February 2010, Avatar passed the $100m mark in Australia.  Many people thought it would be big but I don’t think many thought it would be THIS BIG.  To put it into perspective, here are the top 5 films of all time at the Australian box-office…


1.     Avatar (2009) - $102.6m

2.     Titanic (1997) - $57.6m

3.     Shrek 2 (2004) - $50.3m

4.     Lord Of The Rings; The Return Of The King - $49.3m

5.     Crocodile Dundee (1986) - $47.7m


Prior to Avatar, just 2 films had cracked the $50m barrier.  So aside from Titanic, Avatar can now say that it has more than double the box-office of every single film ever released in Australia.  It has obliterated the previous record and when it finally finishes up, it’ll set a new benchmark that will seem unattainable.  It’s been a great few months to be a cinema owner.


Brisbane International Film Festival


Still no news on a venue but the Brisbane International Film Festival has been confirmed for November 4-14 this year.  This is the first time it’s moved away from its traditional July to August period and it should give the festival a fresh feel.  All those scarves and jumpers I bought last year will be of no use this time around.  It’ll be interesting to see if the new dates attract a better list of films and marquee guests.  Time will tell.


French Film Festival


Outside of BIFF, one of the biggest film festivals of the year is the French Film Festival.  This year’s dates are March 17 to 31 and it will be hosted by the Palace Centro and Barracks.


There will be over 40 new French films in 6 distinctive sections.  Micmacs, the new film from director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie), will launch the festival on its Opening Night.  Jeunet will be in Australia to promote the film but sadly won’t be coming to Brisbane.


You can check out the program by visiting the festival website at  Tickets are already on sale with most films costing $16 for adults.




Last but not least, I caught my first play of 2010 on Saturday night.  I know the story of Hamlet pretty well but I still struggle with Shakespearean dialect when it’s delivered at breakneck speed.  Some of the contemporary elements were also a little too modern for my liking.  They’re the only qualms I can think of.


The play was very good with Toby Schmitz strong in the leading role.  I really liked the opening minute – where the theatre was plunged into darkness (I couldn’t even see the person in front of me) and a loud, thundering soundtrack could be heard.  It’s on at the La Boite theatre for the next few weeks so be sure to check it out.  Next on the menu is The Little Dog Laughed – tickets booked for March 12.


It’s been a long, tiring week and I’m pretty spent right now.


But I do something very exciting this morning.  I had a chance to interview rising Aussie star Mia Wasikowska, star of the upcoming Alice In Wonderland movie.  I’ve been watching her over the past few weeks on the In Treatment television series and I can assure you all that she has a bright future.


Thanks must go to Spencer Howson and the 612 ABC team for organising the interview.  You can listen to it here on the ABC Breakfast Blog or download it directly from my website here.


Incidentally, I now have all my ABC spots for 2010 podcasted and you can download them from the front page of my website.  If you’re too lazy to read my reviews, now you can just listen to them!


But for those without sound (and to help get a few more Google hits), here’s an abbreviated transcript (without all the ums and ahs) of what Mia had to say…



Matt:  We’ve had so many great actors come out of this country but a lot of them never quite make it in Hollywood but now, she’s only 20 years of age but you’ll be hearing a lot over the next few years from Mia Wasikowska.  She started out five years ago on All Saints, appeared in a few Aussie films like Suburban Mayhem and Rogue and I first noticed her in a brilliant HBO drama called In Treatment, which you’ve got to see, of course now she’s the lead actress in a Tim Burton movie – Alice In Wonderland - with an incredible cast and a $250m budget!  Mia, thanks for joining us here on 612ABC this morning.


Mia:  Yeah, thank you for having me.


Matt:  You’ve got to tell me Mia – how did all of this happen?  How did a girl from Canberra end up with a dream role in Alice In Wonderland?


Mia:  When I was about 14 or 15 I became very interested in film and sought out how I could be a part of it.  I ended up joining an agency in Sydney and then going out for auditions and that’s how it began.


Spencer:  Did you audition for this role or are you at a stage where they come to you?


Mia:  No, I auditioned for Alice.  I sent off a video audition in February 2008 and then towards the end of the year ended up doing another couple of auditions with Tim and that’s how I got the role.


Matt:  The first time I saw this title I thought ok, it’s an adaptation of Alice and Wonderland but I’ve heard it’s not quite so.  What exactly is the film about?


Mia:  Well in this film, Alice is 19 and she’s returning to Wonderland and she’s at a different stage in her life than the Alice in the storybooks.  It’s sort of her journey back to Wonderland and finding herself amongst all these crazy characters.


Matt:  Working with Tim Burton… I think he’s such a great director but all his films are so quirky like Edward Scissorhands and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.  I keep thinking he must have the most warped sense of humour but what’s he actually like to work with?


Mia:  He’s such a wonderful person.  A really lovely guy.  As an actor you feel a lot of trust from him and he’s very collaborative and open to suggestions and ideas and it’s really nice to work with someone who’s like that.  He has such a creative energy that he’s always pouring into his work.


Matt:  So much of this film has been put together with digital effects and of course it’s being released in 3D in some cinemas.  What sort of challenges does that throw up working with so many special effects?


Mia:  It’s a very strange way to make a film.  It was three months of green screen and every scene you see me in with an animated character, it obviously wasn’t there, so I was looking at a tennis ball or sticky tape or a cardboard cut-out.  It presents you with its own set of challenges making a film that way.


Spencer:  What about the 3D thing? Are you conscious of that when you’re filming the movie?


Mia:  Sometimes.  It just becomes quite technical and sometimes it changes the way that you shoot a scene but it wasn’t too intrusive.


Spencer:  It wasn’t filmed with 3D cameras this one, was it?


Mia:  Yeah, that’s right.  The 3D was in post production so yeah, it wasn’t too hard.


Matt:  Have you had a chance to see the finished film yet?  How it’s all come together…


Mia:  I haven’t actually.  I’ll be excited to see what it looks like.


Matt:  Is there one of those big gala premieres somewhere that you get to get dressed up and go to?


Mia:  Yes, in a couple of weeks, in London so that should be exciting.


Matt:  A London premiere… exciting!  Do you have to go all over the world over the next month to help promote the film?


Mia:  We’ve been doing press in different cities but there aren’t so many screenings – I believe that’s the only one… in London.


Spencer:  I’ve wondered about that.  You haven’t seen the film yet but you sort of get the impression there’ll be the London premiere, the Disneyland premiere, the Sydney premiere… and by the end of it the last thing you’d want to do would be to see the film one more time.


Mia:  Yes, I know, I know.  This is kind of unusual in that way.


Spencer:  Do you still live in Australia, Mia?


Mia:  Yes, I do.  I still live at home with my family.


Spencer:  Is that right?  With mum and dad?


Mia:  Yes, I do.  But I’m not there very often but as soon as I finish work I kind of run back home.


Spencer:  Because you’ve got a slight American accent I think.  I don’t mean to insult but I’m just pointing out the elephant in the room.  Is it because you spend a lot of time with Americans?


Mia:  I guess so.  I’ve been on and off there since I was about 16 so, I’ve spent a lot of time there.


Matt:  I’ve seen Mia in In Treatment and of course you have a beautiful American accent in that TV series.


Spencer:  Can we just talk about that for a moment?  I know we’re here to talk about Alice but Matthew’s been going on about this In Treatment show.  He’s been watching episode after episode.  I’ve never seen it.


Matt:  Every episode – I call it like a Quentin Tarantino movie without the violence.  It’s like a 30 minute conversation set completely in one room.  Did they film it all in one shoot or does it take a long time to put that together?


Mia:  Well each episode was shot over two days.  It was about a 25 page script so we’d shoot 10 pages one day and then maybe 12 to 15 the next.  Each day was cut into two halves so at the beginning of the day we’d do maybe 5 pages so yeah, it was wonderful.  It was the most fun I’ve ever had with a character and I really loved the experimental nature of it.


Spencer:  It’s set in a psychiatrists surgery, is it?


Matt:  An office, yes.


Spencer:  Has it been on the telly here?


Mia:  I believe it might have been on a cable channel here.  It has such a select audience but I would love it to come here on a wider scale.


Matt:  Don’t worry Spencer, I’ll let you the DVDs.


Spencer:  Ok, good, excellent.  Well we should let you go because you’ve got lots of other people to talk to but March the 4th I believe is the release date.


Matt:  One day before the U.S. too.


Mia:  Ooo yeah. That’s right.


Spencer:  Ah, is that so.  We’re really leading edge here aren’t we.  The last episode of Flash Forward went on the television here before it went on the TV in the States as well.  Who’d have thunk?  Here in little old Australia.  Well, lovely to have you on the show this morning.


Mia:  Thanks for having me.



That’s it from me for another 7 days.  By the way, it’s a wonderful week of movies it is with Crazy Heart, The Hurt Locker and Shutter Island.  You really must see them all!  Good night!

Sandra Bullock


When it comes to movies, it seems there’s no actress I dislike more than Sandra Bullock.  I have gone through 14 years of reviews and categorised her movies by grading – good (A+ to A-), average (B+ to B-) and bad (C to C-).  Here are the results:



Average – Infamous, Crash, Two Weeks Notice, Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood, In Love And War, A Time To Kill, Two If By Sea

Bad – All About Steve, The Proposal, Premonition, The Lake House, Miss Congeniality 2, Murder By Numbers, Miss Congeniality, 28 Days, Forces Of Nature, Practical Magic, Hope Floats, Speed 2


Of the 19 Bullock films I’ve seen, there were 12 which I strongly didn’t like.  There wasn’t a single film which I gave a good review.


Now, of course, I’ve never met Sandra Bullock and have nothing against her personally.  I’m sure I’d be star struck if I was ever lucky enough to meet her.  I just hate her taste in movies.  She’s made some really bad decisions throughout the last decade of her career.


And guess what?  Bullock herself agrees!  Here’s an extract from her speech at the Screen Actors Guild Awards this year…


“I am Sandra Bullock and I am actor.  And I am so proud to say that in a room full of faces that have inspired me, and allowed me six years ago to say I’m going to stop working because I wasn’t doing good work.  And audition again.  And you say good-bye to the money and you say good-bye to all the things that you became comfortable with.  And in 2006, I sat in this room with a little film called Crash and I got to look at the people who got me here.  So the Screen Actors Guild, thank you so much.”


That was a classy speech.  The way that Bullock has handled herself throughout the award season this year has been tremendous.  She’s quick on her feet (unlike Drew Barrymore) and she’s delivered some heartfelt speeches.  There’s a part of me that wants to see her win the Oscar next month.  I love comeback stories and this one would be right up there (which is why I was so gutted when Sean Penn beat Mickey Rourke last year). 


But the point I want to make in this week’s blog is that’s “ok” not to like a certain actor, actress or film.  We all have different tastes – and these tastes define who we are as people.  I’ve made plenty of jokes over the years about how much I dislike romantic comedies and Sandra Bullock movies (there’s often an overlap).  I’m not being mean spirited (or at least I’m not intending to be).  I’m just revealing what my taste in movies is like.


If we all liked the same stuff, the world would be a pretty boring place.  The reason we often become friends with people is because we share common interests.  I’ve got a small circle of friends who love Coen brothers movies (as do I).  We quotes lines to each other and compare our favourites.  I know others who HATE Coen brothers movies.  That’s ok – they’re find to do so.  I admit the Coen’s have a very warped sense of humour.  There’s a line I always use – “to each their own”.


And yes, there are millions of people in this world who love Sandra Bullock.  Miss Congeniality made $106m in 2000.  Two Weeks Notice made $93m in 2002. The Proposal made $163m last year.  The Blind Side, currently in release, has turned out to be her biggest yet.  Despite going head-to-head with Avatar, it has made a phenomenal $239m in the United States to date.


Now, we’ve reached the crossroads.  The Blind Side is being released in Australia on Feb 25 and I’m hoping to catch a preview of it next week.  Is Bullock’s performance as good as people say?  Is it Oscar worthy?  Or are they over-hyping her performance?  Do they think her performance is “great” only because they’re comparing it to her past works?  Should Carey Mulligan or Meryl Streep win instead?


I try to see all films with an open mind and I suddenly find myself very excited about The Blind Side.  The fact that it scored an upset best picture nomination at the Oscars also has be intrigued.  After years of frustration, can my mind me changed on Sandra Bullock?  I’ll find out very soon!




Last week, Titanic’s 12 year record atop the all-time box-office chart in the United States came to an end.  I’ve loved that record.  It’s amazing that a film could stay on top for so long.  $600m was always going to be a tough record to beat.


Just as amazing is the fact that the film which beat Titanic was James Cameron’s next film – Avatar.  Say what you will about Cameron, but his films connect with audiences.  The numbers speak for themselves in that regard.


Avatar’s total in the United States is now $630m from 8 weeks and it’s still going strong.  It took in another $23.6m on the weekend alone.  Where will it stop?  It’s possible it could finish up with around $750m.


It gets better here in Australia.  As of Sunday night, it had taken in $98.3m.  It’s still number one after 8 weeks and by a considerable margin.  It took $3.9m over the last four days.  Mel Gibson’s Edge Of Darkness was next best with a paltry (in comparison) $1.4m.  Avatar will certainly pass the $100m mark in Oz in the next few days.


Again, keep in mind that the second highest grossing film in Australian history was Titanic with $57.6m back in 1997.  Not only has Avatar beaten the long standing record here in Australia – it could quite possibly double it!


Now I know people throw in the higher 3D ticket price and inflation arguments and yes, they’re true.  If you want to be picky, Gone With The Wind’s inflation adjusted total of $1.5 billion in the United States makes it the “biggest film of all time”.  Still, times change.  There are lot more ways in which people can spend their money now in comparison to 1939.  Avatar deserves a place in box-office history and it’s well deserved. 


Oscar Odds


Current odds per Centrebet for the best picture Oscar are as follows – Avatar = $1.52, The Hurt Locker = $2.50, rest = no chance.


I think this is exceptional good odds for The Hurt Locker.  As I mentioned last week, it’s won all the lead up awards and the majority of Oscar pundits are tipping it to win – see here.  There aren’t many lead up awards left but perhaps the British Academy Awards might tell us something.  I’m kind of hoping for Avatar (given the $500 Oscar bet I placed a month ago) but I don’t know if the British Academy will support it as much as their American counterparts.  Fingers crossed.


The Hurt Locker


To finish this week, good news for those looking to see The Hurt Locker.  The release date has been brought forward from Feb 25 to Feb 18 and there are advance screenings from this weekend (Feb 12 to Feb 14).  I’ve been frustrated by my inability to be able to see this film but the timing might work out well – I’m sure there will be plenty of Australians keen to see what all the hype is about and I’m sure it’ll do well at the local box-office.

It’s one of my favourite nights of the year.  After months of speculation, the Academy Award nominations have been revealed.  Before we get to that, here’s some quick other news…


Director’s Guild Award


Over the weekend, director Kathryn Bigelow won the best director award from the Director’s Guild.  This is big news.  This award is the BIGGEST precursor to the Academy Awards.  Since the Director’s Guild first gave out their prize in 1948, an amazing 55 out of 61 have gone on to win the Oscar for best director.  The last time it didn’t happen was in 2002 (when Roman Polanski for The Pianist won the Oscar over Rob Marshall for Chicago).


Does this mean Bigelow will win the best director Oscar?  It sure looks likely.


Now, let’s go one more step.  The film which wins best director often wins best picture.  This has happened 59 times in the Oscar’s 81 year history.  Hmmm, this has me worried.  I’ve got $500 on Avatar to win best picture but I think I’m in trouble.  How can a film which made just $12m at the U.S. box-office and hasn’t even been released in Australia defeat the highest grossing movie of all time (which people are still talking about)???  It’s going to be interesting.


Most pundits are still tipping Avatar and Centrebet has it listed as the favourite but there’s a long way to run in this race.  Watch this space.


Razzie Awards


Each year, on the day before the Oscar nominations, the Golden Raspberry Foundation announces their nominees for the worst films and performers of the year.  You can view a full list of the “lucky” nominees here -


I have to admit that I hated all 5 of the worst film nominees – All About Steve, G.I. Joe, Land Of The Lost, Old Dogs and Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.  Of these, G.I. Joe was my worst film of 2009 and All About Steve my 3rd worst film.  A shame that 2012 couldn’t sneak a nomination but ah well, can’t win them all.


If you go through the nominees, you’ll find there’s a special section this year honouring the worst of the decade.  The films nominated were Battlefield Earth, Freddy Got Fingered, Gigli, I Know Who Killed Me and Swept Away.  Hard to say which film will take out that category – they’re all so bad!


The winners will be announced on March 6 - the day before the Oscars ceremony.  Hopefully someone’s game enough to accept their award (like good sport Halle Berry did a few years go -


Oscar Nominations!!!


Ok, let’s not waste any more time.  It’s late but I’m buzzing with energy!


Before I get to my off-the-cuff commentary, here are the nominees in the major categories:


Best Picture – Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up In The Air


Best Director – James Cameron (Avatar), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds), Lee Daniels (Precious), Jason Reitman (Up In The Air)


Best Actor – Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), George Clooney (Up In The Air), Colin Firth (A Single Man), Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)


Best Actress – Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)


Best Supporting Actor – Matt Damon (Invictus), Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Christopher Plummer (The Last Station), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)


Best Supporting Actress – Penelope Cruz (Nine), Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air), Mo’nique (Precious)


Best Original Screenplay – The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, The Messenger, A Serious Man, Up


Best Adapted Screenplay – District 9, An Education, In The Loop, Precious, Up In The Air


Best Animated Feature – Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess & The Frog, The Secret Of Kells, Up


Best Foreign Language Film – A Prophet (France), The White Ribbon (Germany), The Milk Of Sorrow (Peru), The Secret In Their Eyes (Argentina), Ajami (Israel)


Hurt Locker v Avatar


Leading the pack with 9 nominations each are Avatar and The Hurt Locker.  I now see it as a two horse race for best picture.


The advantage has to be with The Hurt Locker.  For such a small film to receive so many nominations is a big deal.  Further, Avatar didn’t receive a screenplay nomination (and The Hurt Locker did).  Hurt Locker being nominated for best score is also a surprise.


I am extremely annoyed given I backed Hurt Locker to win the Golden Globe (which Avatar won) and now find myself having backed Avatar to win the Oscar (which Hurt Locker is now favoured to win).  Such is life I guess.


I think Avatar is an exceptional film but find myself in a tricky position given that I’m yet to see The Hurt Locker.  I don’t know which one would get my vote.


Inglourious Basterds was next best with 8 nominations.  Up In The Air and Precious earned 6 each.


Surprise Inclusions


The Blind Side getting a nomination was the big surprise in the expanded best picture category.  It’s made a lot of money and this must vault Sandra Bullock to favouritism in the best actress category.  People like this movie.  Nice to see A Serious Man, District 9 and An Education also amongst the best pic nominees.


Amongst the acting categories, Maggie Gyllenhaal was a shock nominee for Crazy Heart.  I guess she’s riding on the back of Jeff Bridges (who will win for best actress) but it’s still an overdue nomination.  She’s been great in so many movies including The Dark Knight and Donnie Darko.  I was kind of surprised to see last year’s winner Penelope Cruz also nominated for best supporting actress.  Nine has been savaged by critics and this was its only nomination in the major categories (it received 3 more in technical categories).


For best animated film, The Secret Of Kells came out of nowhere to get a nomination.  I haven’t even heard of it so don’t ask me anything else.


There seems to be good support for The Messenger.  It missed out on a best picture nomination but it earned Woody Harrelson his second Oscar nom and it also picked up a screenplay nomination.  It was also interesting to see In The Loop (with all its profanity) pick up a screenplay nomination of its own.


I don’t know a lot about the short film categories but Sydney born Luke Doolan (just 30 years of age) earned an Oscar nomination for his short film, Miracle Fish.


Surprise Omissions


In general, the news wasn’t too exciting for us Aussies.  Samson & Delilah missed out on a best foreign language film nomination.  Bright Star earned just a single nom – for best costume design.


Invictus also fell by the wayside.  Yes it earned a best actor and best supporting actor nomination (both questionable if you ask me) but that’s it.  No best picture nomination.  No screenplay nomination.  I was also saddened to see 500 Days Of Summer shut out from the screenplay nominations.


Amongst the best picture contenders, Star Trek missed out along with The Hangover (the Golden Globe winner for comedy).  Star Trek wasn’t a shoo-in to be nominated but it has received 4 nominations in the technical categories which shows love.


Ok, that’s it from me.  The Oscars are held on March 7 (around lunchtime on March 8 here in Brisbane) and there’ll be a lot of talk in the meantime.  I’ll put together my annual Oscar competition (now in its 10th year) and you’ll be able to enter soon.


I wish you all sweet and pleasant dreams!