We interrupt my Oscars summary for a special news report.


Des Partridge (recently retired movie guru from The Courier Mail) is reporting at The Regent Cinemas in the Queen Street mall will close on June 15.  This is a very sad day for Brisbane.  It’s one of Brisbane’s oldest running cinemas.  Here’s a picture showing the Regent and looking down the Queen Street mall from the mid 1960s -


It confirms what I suspected in that last year’s BIFF was the lucky last for The Regent.  I’ll start working on a tribute piece but I can think of many happy memories from that great theatre.


Oscar Betting


On with the show and yes, my 8 year streak of Oscar gambling success has come to an end.  This day is going from bad to worse.


To be honest, I’m not too phased.  I got great odds which is all you can ask for.  I had $100 on Hurt Locker at the Golden Globes (at odds of $5.50) and Avatar won.  I had $500 on Avatar at the Oscars (at odds of $3.00) and Hurt Locker won.  That’s the way it goes sometimes.  With a few other speculative bets on the Globes and Oscars also going down the drain, I finished the year with a loss of $830.  Ah well.  Let’s see how that looks on the scoreboard…


1996 – profit of $750 – won on Susan Saranadon

1997 – profit of $300 (cumulative $1,050) – won on Frances McDormand

1998 – loss of $250 (cumulative $800)

1999 – loss of $250 (cumulative $550)

2000 – profit of $620 (cumulative $1,170) – won on Kevin Spacey and Michael Caine

2001 – loss of $190 (cumulative $980) – won on director Steven Soderbergh

2002 – profit of $480 (cumulative $1,460) – won on Halle Berry

2003 – profit of $275 (cumulative $1,735) – won on Catherine Zeta-Jones and Adrian Brody

2004 – profit of $150 (cumulative $1,875) – won on Sean Penn

2005 – profit of $214 (cumulative $2,089) – won on Hilary Swank

2006 – profit of $350 (cumulative $2,439) – won on Reese Witherspoon

2007 – profit of $1,463 (cumulative $3,912) – won on Murphy at Globes, Arkin & West Bank Story at Oscars

2008 – profit of $268 (cumulative $4,280) – won on Tilda Swinton and the Coen brothers

2009 – profit of $253 (cumulative $4,533) – won on Mickey Rourke & Kate Winslet at Globes, Winslet at Oscars

2010 – loss of $830 (cumulative $3,703)


I’m still up $3,703 in career earnings so I have no right to complain.  I’ll refocus next year and start the streak once again.


Oscar Competition


It was my 10th Annual Oscars competition this year and I had a nice total of 58 entrants.  Thanks to everyone for giving it a crack.


I tried to pick some tricky upset categories although there weren’t as many as I hoped.  Peter Black won this year with a score of 4 out of 5.  There were a few tied on that score but Peter guessed the age spot on – Tom Hanks presented the best picture statuette and is currently 53 years of age.


Those who also scored 4 out of 5 were – Damara McAndrew (just one off the correct age), Peter Taggart, Chris Hodge, Ben Harlum, Simon Miraudo, Lee Watson and Nicole Sawyer.


Curiously, the 8 people who scored 4 out of 5 all correctly picked best picture, actress, costume and score. None correctly “guessed” the documentary short subject category.


Those on 3 out of 5 were – Glenn Hampson, Peter Timms, Scott Sues, Adam Conwell, Sue Aitken, Nigel Bridgeman, Joseph Ferguson, Matt Smith, Shannon Molloy and Jane Furey.  Most of these slipped up on the best picture category (as well as best documentary short subject).


Special mentions have to go with Scott Sues, Shannon Molloy and Yvette Atkins.  They were the lucky 3 (out of the 58 entrants) to correctly pick the documentary short subject category.


To quickly recap, the correct entries for the competition were:


Best Picture:  The Hurt Locker (26 out of 58 got correct)

Best Actress:  Sandra Bullock (41 out of 58 got correct)

Best Score:  Up (22 out of 58 got correct)

Best Costume Design:  The Young Victoria (26 out of 58 got correct)
Best Documentary Short Subject:  Music By Prudence (3 out of 58 got correct)


There were 4 people who managed to score 0 out of 5 (which is actually pretty impressive) but I better not mention by name…


Oscar Ceremony


On the whole, I was pleased with the ceremony.  It came it at right on 3 hours and 30 minutes which is a good length.  My quick positives and negatives:




Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin’s introduction.  Martin is still the best Oscars host going around.  Great to see them poke fun at everyone.
 - The longer clips of the supporting actors and actresses – really showed the breadth of their roles.
 -Continuing on from last year, the detailed introductions of the best actors and actresses.  The people they got to do these intros were all well selected (unlike last year).
 -The way that the 10 films were introduced for best picture.  Again, with a worthy person to introduce.
 -The presentation of the animated film category and the interviews with the “stars” of each film.
 -The performances of the best songs being booted off the show.  No big loss for me.  There’s usually only one or two which are any good.
 -The set – I liked it a lot.  Great layering of the stage.


The Neil Patrick Harris musical number to kick things off.  Sound quality not good.  Could hardly make out what he was singing.
 -The lack of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin in the show.  After the intro, they disappeared.
 -The speed at which Tom Hanks read the best picture Oscar winner.  Um, shouldn’t he have gone through the nominees and producer’s names?
 -Some of the presenters seemed nervous / unprepared.  Their jokes didn’t zing like in past years.  Ben Stiller was good though in his Na’vi make-up.
 -Barbara Streisand “grandstanding” with her presentation of the best director Oscar to Kathryn Bigelow.  What a loser.
 -The lack of great speeches.  No one really knocked one out of the ballpark.  Not enough emotion sadly.  Maybe this was because most went as planned?
 -The lack of money in my wallet.


That’s about all I can think of without mentioning winners.  So let’s get to that now…


Oscar Winners


These lucky folk took home Oscars in the major categories:


Best Picture – The Hurt Locker

Best Director – Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)

Best Actor – Jeff Bridges (Cray Heart)

Best Actress – Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)

Best Supporting Actor – Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Best Supporting Actress – Mo’nique (Precious)

Best Original Screenplay – The Hurt Locker

Best Adapted Screenplay – Precious

Best Animated Film – Up

Best Foreign Language Film – The Secret In Their Eyes (Argentina)


Hurt Locker Conquers Avatar


Well, I’ve been saying that The Hurt Locker has been going to win since it won the Producer’s and Director’s Guild Awards and that has come to fruition.


I’m still struggling to accept it.  Avatar is a film that has reinvigorated people’s love of movies.  The box-office totals it has put up are obscene.  Now I know box-office doesn’t mean everything (ala Alice In Wonderland’s ridiculous $116m opening weekend – that’s another story) but it’s Avatar’s longevity at the box-office which talks in my opinion.  No film since Titanic has spent seven consecutive weeks atop the box-office charts in the U.S.  If the film was bad, trust me, it would out of the top 10 within a matter of weeks.  Word of mouth spreads like wildfire.


Now again, this doesn’t mean the film is Oscar worthy but I come back to my original review and describe it as a stunning, breathtaking adventure.  Just because it’s science fiction doesn’t make it any less of a film than say, a war flick or drama flick.  And yet, Avatar has fallen victim to the Academy’s mantra that science fiction and comedy films aren’t worthy of the top prize.  It’s just how it is.  I saw it twice and loved it just as much the second time.  It’s got all the elements of a wonderful movie.


Not everyone agrees.  We took talkback calls on 612ABC this morning with most very vocal in their support for The Hurt Locker over Avatar.  You can listen to the podcast of the show on the ABC Breakfast Blog by clicking here.


Anyway, what’s done is done.  Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win the best director Oscar and I admit, the direction is the best part of The Hurt Locker.  That’s two years in a row though (after Slumdog Millionaire) where I’ve felt underwhelmed by the best picture selection.


Hurt Locker finished with 6 wins and Avatar went home with 3 wins.  Other films with multiple wins were Precious, Up and Crazy Heart.


And The Oscar Goes To Sandra Bullock


I guess the other talking point is Sandra Bullock.  I wrote a blog a month ago about all the bad movies she’s made.  If you’d have said to me twelve months ago that Sandra Bullock would win an Academy Award next year, I’d have laughed in your face (with probably a little spittle coming out too).


That opinion wouldn’t have changed during the year.  The Proposal and All About Steve (which she won the Razzie for yesterday) were both ghastly.  Along came The Blind Side.  I liked it.  I liked Bullock in it.  The best thing she’s ever done.


I’ve also enjoyed Bullock on the awards circuit this year.  She speaks well and has a great sense of humour.  She followed in Halle Berry’s footsteps by accepting her Razzie for The Blind Side in person.


That said, she didn’t deserve to win.  Carey Mulligan and Gabourey Sidibe were both better in my eyes.  I had a late hunch that Sidibe might win after Precious upset Up In The Air for best adapted screenplay.  Not so.  Bullock’s performance certainly wasn’t the worst to win an Oscar but I’d have voted against her.




Anyone who follows the Oscars on a regular basis hopes for a few surprises.  It’s always nice to see the shocked look on someone’s face as their name is read and they start walking to the stage.  There were too big upsets which stood out for me.


Firstly, Precious winning best adapted screenplay over Up In The Air.  This one came out of left field.  Up In The Air had won almost every award in this category.  It won the BAFTA, the Golden Globe and the Writers’ Guild Award.  Precious hadn’t won a thing (except for the Independent Spirit Award).  Yet, Precious took the Oscar and a stunned Geoffrey Fletcher (writer) gave a nice speech on stage.  I feel bad for Jason Reitman (Up In The Air) – I thought his time had come after 3 great scripts in a row – Thank You For Smoking, Juno and now Up In The Air.


Secondly, The Secret In Their Eyes from Argentina won for best foreign language film.  I don’t know many people who saw this coming.  Most fancied A Prophet and The White Ribbon which had dominated lead up awards.  This can be a tricky category as only those Academy members who see all 5 nominated films can vote.  It doesn’t take too many votes to win and I guess Argentina’s entry won them over.  It’s the second time that Argentina has won (after taking the prize in 1985 for The Official Story).  Rolling Stones columnist Peter Travers summed it up best – “The Argentine film beating A Prophet and White Ribbon for best foreign film officially marks this category as nuts.


One of the more interesting moments of the Oscars came when Music For Prudence won best documentary short subject.  You can view the award being presented here.  You could definitely sense tension between the two winners.  There’s a good reason for that and you can read more here.


The unseen categories (documentary short subject, short film live action, short film animated) didn’t go as I’d hoped.  I bombed out there and went 0 for 3.  I managed 17 out of 21 for the remaining categories missing only actress, adapted screenplay, foreign language and cinematography.  So I guess that’s a pretty good result for me – 17 out of 24 in total.  I still wish I was wrong about Avatar.


Other Thoughts


This was the first time I’ve watched the Oscars live and it was great to be able to do so.  Tired I was of covering my ears at work and trying to avoid hearing any spoilers on the way home.  It was also great on Twitter – following the random thoughts of others on the web.  There was plenty of mud slinging and a lot of Avatar bashing.


@scrivenersfancy came up with the best Oscar zingers.  I won’t even try to match his sense of humour in this blog but if you’d like a few laughs, here are a sample of his offerings…


Is Barbra thinking 'If only "The Mirror Had Two Faces" had been in 3D'?
 - I'm sorry, is someone putting the Razzies to air by mistake?  (following Sandra Bullock’s win)
 - I was in the next room. Did 'Dante's Cove' just win an Oscar?  (following the win of The Cove for best documentary)
 -Thankfully James Taylor didn't die before the end of the montage.  (as Mr Taylor played during the in memoriam tribute)
 -Thank God they didn't let Roger Corman or Lauren Bacall make a speech. I really need to hear what Miley Cyrus has to say.
 -Maybe if Tarantino had spelt the title right, he might have won the writing prize.
 -Sounds to me like Randy Newman has been nominated 16 times for the same song.
 -Someone give an award to whoever pulled the plug on Richard Wilkins!


Also worth a read is this blog from Peter Taggart who compares the Oscars to a Parents & Citizens Association meeting.


I do love the Oscars.  They’re a great way to promote the medium of cinema and to honour those who have achieved the best (or close to it) in their respective fields.  The feeling that one must have when their name is read and the walk to the stage (while their “theme” music is playing) must be amazing.  I’m guessing most of guests are pretty drunk right now and so on that note, I bid you farewell.  We’ll do it all again next year!


The time has come once again.  The 2010 Oscars are just a week away.  I’ve rambled on about my love for the Academy Awards too many times so I won’t repeat myself.  It’s just exciting to see a bunch of great films and performances honoured.  Hopefully they’re ones I approve of.


Don’t forget to enter my 10th Annual Oscars competition.  I have selected 5 of the more wide-open categories below (some trickier than others) and everyone is invited to pick who they think will be the winner.  You can enter through the front page of my website.


Now yes, I have gambled on the Oscars yet again this year.  Just two bests.  The first was $500 on Avatar to win best picture at odds of $3.  I got very good odds because I backed it in early January before the Golden Globe Awards.  Unfortunately, The Hurt Locker has picked up huge momentum in the meantime and looks like winning.  The second is a roughie - $80 on Carey Mulligan to win best actress at odds of $11.  I don’t think she’ll win but after snatching the BAFTA (where she had home field advantage), she may yet have a chance if there’s a vote split between Streep and Bullock.  That said, my 8 year winning streak looks set to come to an end.  I am up just over $4,533 for the past 15 years so I’m not complaining.  Fingers are crossed a little tighter this year though.


The ceremony kicks off at 11am next Monday and for the first time ever, I’ve taken the day off work to watch it live.  Back when Channel 9 only showed a delayed telecast, I used to have to hide somewhere so as not to hear the results.  Thankfully those days are behind us.  I can’t wait and you’ll be able to follow my thoughts on Twitter – - on the day.  A full blog wrap will follow as well as details of my competition winners.


There is much to discuss so here’s my 2010 form guide with details on who I think will win.  Enjoy!


Best Motion Picture of the Year

The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up in the Air


Ok, I’m going with The Hurt Locker.  It’s won the British Academy Award, the Director’s Guild Award (the most important of all lead up awards) and the Producer’s Guild Award.  It’s also won the majority of critics prizes.  This has been talked about as a “David v. Goliath” race over the past 2 months.  Can a film which made $12m defeat a film which will make in excess of $700m?  The answer looks like being yes.  The strange thing is that now The Hurt Locker is the Goliath in this race with Avatar being David.  Avatar still has a chance but I can’t say it’s a strong one.  Inglourious Basterds is the only other film with any sliver of a hope.  It won the best ensemble award at the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards and could sneak home in a Crash-like upset.   Matt’s Pick:  The Hurt Locker.


Best Achievement in Directing

James Cameron, Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Lee Daniels, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Kathryn Bigelow has this one in the bag.  She’s about to make history and become the first woman to ever win the Oscar for best director.  Only 3 women have been previously nominated in this category which is astonishing.  I don’t know the answer to this question but it’s worth debating if you’re tired by this part of the ceremony – has the fact that The Hurt Locker is directed helped its chances?  Are people giving it extra praise and attention because it’s directed by a woman?  I don’t know the answer to those questions but I do know Bigelow will win this Oscar.  Matt’s Pick:  Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

With The Hurt Locker sweeping many guild awards, Jeremy Renner isn’t without hope here.  However, I’m confident that 5-time nominee Jeff Bridges will break his duck and finally win an Academy Award.  He’s a highly regarded actor who has made some great speeches along the way.  This is his time to shine.   Matt’s Pick:  Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart.


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Most of the acting races look fairly predictable but if there’s going to be a surprise, it’ll be in the best actress category.  Meryl Streep was the early favourite.  Yes, she’s won twice before but her last victory was in 1983.  She’s had 11 consecutive losses since that time.  Streep is well overdue and this looked to be her year.  Along came Sandra Bullock.  She won the Golden Globe and then the ever important Screen Actors Guild Award.  This makes her the favourite.  But let’s not be too hasty.  The Guild win was significant but did they give it to Bullock only because Streep won in that category two years ago (for Doubt)?  It’s possible and if so, the Oscars may be a different story.  How much love is there for Bullock within the much smaller Academy?  Let’s not rule out Carey Mulligan either.  She won the BAFTA and there are a lot of people who are members of both the American and British Academies.  But did she win mainly because she’s British and was on home turf?  That seems more likely but don’t rule out a Mulligan victory – particularly if Streep and Bullock split their votes.  I need to tip at least one upset so I’m going with Mulligan.  Matt’s Pick:  Carey Mulligan, An Education


Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

And the Oscar goes to Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds.  I hope he’s got room in his house for his Oscar statue.  Given that he’s won 10,000 other awards this season, I have my doubts.  Matt’s Pick:  Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds.


Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire

The same thing can be said of Mo’Nique.  When the same actor wins every single award, it makes you wonder if they ever run out of speech material.  Do they just say the same thing at every awards show?  Or do they save up their best material for the Oscars?  We’ll find out soon when Mo’Nique steps to the stage.   Matt’s Pick:  Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire.


Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

District 9
An Education
In the Loop
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Up in the Air

Academy voters tend to spread their support in the major categories.  Up In The Air won’t be winning any other categories but as one of the more popular best picture nominees, it’s strongly tipped to win this category.  Many see its script as its strongest asset and it’s won a bunch of awards to date.  I think it’s a deserved win.  Matt’s Pick:  Up in the Air.


Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The Messenger
A Serious Man

This is a tricky one.  The Hurt Locker is the frontrunner given it will win best picture and best director.  But let’s not forget the brilliant writing of Quentin Tarantino in Inglourious Basterds.  Tarantino has won in this category before – back in 1995 for Pulp Fiction – but I don’t know if too many voters will remember this.  Now comes the part of my form guide where I have to make my biggest decision.  When it comes to the Academy Awards, there are two possibilities – (1) the Oscars will be shared around, or (2) one film will sweep most categories even if it doesn’t deserve it.  Slumdog Millionaire did this last year (8 Oscars, really?).  If I tip Hurt Locker here, I’ve got to lean towards it in the technically categories too.  It pains me to say it (because I think Avatar is a better film) but yes, I think a Hurt Locker sweep is on the cards.  It won a lot of awards at the BAFTAs (not so easy for an American film) so I don’t see how it won’t happen back home.  Matt’s Pick:  The Hurt Locker.


Best Achievement in Editing

District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire

The editing award is an interesting one as it’s often the barometer for the best picture Oscar.  It is either won by a big action film (e.g. Speed, The Matrix, The Bourne Ultimatum) or the film which goes on to win the best picture Oscar.  I don’t think I can pick anything else here but The Hurt Locker.  Matt’s Pick:  The Hurt Locker.


Best Achievement in Cinematography

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The White Ribbon

I’m getting angry now.  I feel I’m in another position where I have to pick The Hurt Locker over Avatar.  The White Ribbon took the guild award (in somewhat of an upset) but I think it has little chance against the Avatar v. Hurt Locker battle.  I see voters being anti-Avatar in this category (unnecessarily I believe) because of its reliance on visual effects.  Sigh.   Matt’s Pick:  The Hurt Locker.


Best Achievement in Art Direction


The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Sherlock Holmes
The Young Victoria

Now, this is interesting.  No Hurt Locker here.  Were the voters not impressed by the military uniforms?  The good news is that it’s someone else’s turn to win.  But which film?  Avatar looks to be the favourite as it’s the only best picture nominee in the list.  Hmmm, this is tricky though.  Will there also be a voter backlash against Avatar because they don’t believe the sets are real?  The Guild was shared between Avatar, Hurt Locker and Sherlock Holmes.  Does this mean Holmes has a realistic chance here?  It did make a lot of money – something that Nine, Parnassus and Young Victoria did not.  Tricky, tricky, tricky.  It’s definitely between these two films but which one?  Avatar won the BAFTA so I’ll give it my preference. Yay Avatar!   Matt’s Pick:  Avatar.


Best Achievement in Costume Design

Bright Star
Coco Before Chanel
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Young Victoria

Now this is where it gets really interesting.  I’ve deliberately selected this category in my pick the Oscars competition because there’s no Hurt Locker and no Avatar.  In fact, none of these films made much money at all the box-office.  How many voters have actually seen them?  The Academy tends to favour historical dramas in his category (The Duchess, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Marie Antoinette) but that doesn’t rule any of these five films out.  The Young Victoria won the BAFTA and the Costume Designers Guild Award so it’s earned my selection.  Matt’s Pick:  The Young Victoria.


Best Achievement in Makeup

Il Divo
Star Trek
The Young Victoria

What an odd category.  Just three films – an Italian film which no one will have heard of, a sci-fi action blockbuster which made oodles at the box-office, and a period piece film also nominated in the costume design category.  Interesting indeed.  It’s got to be between Star Trek and The Young Victoria.  Given it’s popularity, I’ll lean towards Star Trek but I think it’ll be a close race.   Matt’s Pick:  Star Trek.


Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Hurt Locker
Sherlock Holmes

This is one of my favourite categories.  I have a collection of close to 200 film scores.  My favourite for this year is the score for A Single Man but sadly it’s not nominated.  The Hurt Locker inclusion surprises me.  Given all the action, I don’t even remember it having much of a score.  Perhaps I’m wrong.  It does show much support for the film though (which I’ve alluded to earlier).  Avatar is probably the favourite but composer James Horner has won before (for Titanic).  Disney films tend to do well in this category which gives Up a strong chance.  I don’t know if I agree with their choice but yes, I do think Up will sneak home.  Matt’s Pick:  Up.


Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Almost There from The Princess and the Frog
Down in New Orleans from The Princess and the Frog
Loin de Paname from Paris 36
Take It All from Nine
The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart


The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart is a beautiful song and surely it must win here.  The two noms for The Princess & The Frog all but eliminate its chances (votes will be split).  Paris 36 would seem unlikely (it’s foreign language and this is its only nomination) and Nine was so poorly received by both the public and critics.   Matt’s Pick:  The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart.


Best Achievement in Sound

The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Two choices – Avatar or The Hurt Locker.  I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again – The Hurt Locker sweep is on the cards.   Matt’s Pick:  The Hurt Locker.


Best Achievement in Sound Editing

The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek

Ditto.  And let’s be honest – how does a normal Academy member (who is entitled to vote just like anyone else) distinguish between sound and sound editing?  Beats me.   Matt’s Pick:  The Hurt Locker


Best Achievement in Visual Effects

District 9
Star Trek


The easiest category of the night.   Matt’s Pick:  Avatar.


Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Fantastic Mr Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells

I’d like to see Fantastic Mr. Fox spring an upset but let’s be honest, Up is the only best picture nominee in this list so how could it lose?  Bonus points at any Oscars party goes to anyone who has actually seen The Secret Of Kells.   Matt’s Pick:  Up.


Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Ajami (Israel)
El Secreto de Sus Ojos (Argentina)
The Milk of Sorrow (Peru)
The Prophet (France)
The White Ribbon (Germany)

You have two choices here.  France and Germany have been pitted against each other once again.  Will it be The Prophet (which won the BAFTA and the runner-up award at the Cannes Film Festival)?  Or will it be The White Ribbon (which won the Golden Globe, the European Film Award and the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival).  I’ve seen A Prophet and think it’s overrated so I’m going with The White Ribbon.  Upsets can happen in this category though because to be able to vote, you must have gone to special screenings to prove that you saw the film.  I guess they don’t trust the likes of George Clooney and Julia Roberts when they say they checked out El Secreto de Sus Ojos at their local multiplex.  Matt’s Pick:  The White Ribbon.


Best Documentary, Features

Burma VJ
The Cove
Food, Inc.
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Which Way Home

Documentaries are becoming more and more prominent each year in cinemas.  Gone are the days when this category was the perfect time for a toilet break.  Recent winners included Man On Wire, An Inconvenient Truth, March Of The Penguins and Fog Of War.  They’re often better than the films which take home the best picture Oscar.  I have issues with the film but The Cove has won the lion’s share of best documentary awards to date.  I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t win here.  Matt’s Pick:  The Cove.


Best Documentary, Short Subjects

China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant
Music by Prudence
Rabbit à la Berlin

Now this is the part where you can go to the bathroom.  It’ll take them long enough just to read through the list of nominees – such long titles!  I don’t know which film to pick.  Your guess is as good as mine.  Given the significance of the global financial crisis in America, let’s go with The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant.  Matt’s Pick:  The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant.


Best Short Film, Animated

French Roast
Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty
The Lady and the Reaper
A Matter of Loaf and Death

Let’s hope they get these categories out of the way early.  I’m sure they’ll get some young stars (e.g. Miley Cyrus, Zach Efron, Taylor Lautner) to present so that the audience won’t be switching channels.  A Matter Of Loaf and Death is a new Wallace & Gromit short from Nick Park.  Wallace & Gromit films won in this category back in 1994 and 1996.  They also won best animated film in 2006.  The Yanks seem to love them so I dare not tip against them.   Matt’s Pick:  A Matter of Loaf and Death.


Best Short Film, Live Action

The Door
Instead of Abracadabra
Miracle Fish
The New Tenants

Last… and most certainly least.  I believe in the importance of short films but this is one category which doesn’t interest me at the Oscars.  There’s no chance to see them (well, some are available on Youtube) and I don’t care much about who wins.  There is an Australian connection this year though with Sydney-born Luke Doolan nominated for Miracle Fish.  He’s done amazingly well to get this far so let’s hope the “miracle” continues.  Go the Aussies!   Matt’s Pick:  Miracle Fish.


That’s it from me.  Let’s hope it’s a great Oscars and that Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin do a super job as hosts.  A few upsets would be nice too.  Go Avatar!


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!