Before I get into today’s blog, I want to make sure everyone is on the same page first.
Be sure to read this article over at EntertainmentWeekly.com. It’s the same article about Ben Stiller’s new movie Tropic Thunder that’s being referenced in the strip.
To save a little time, here’s the photo that’s causing the controversy:
In the movie, Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black play spoiled actors making a Vietnam war film. Downey Jr. plays a method actor so serious about his craft, he surgically alters himself to look African American when he finds out the role he was originally hired to portray was written with a black actor in mind. Stiller and Downey Jr. aren’t making fun of African Americans. They ARE making fun of ridiculous actors. Personally, I think it sounds hilarious, especially if Downey Jr. plays it completely straight.
Of course, there are going to be some people out there who will reduce this down to it’s bare element – a white man in black makeup – and be offended. These people are looking for something to offend them. If you can’t see the potential for satire in this, you don’t see very many movies.
That said, is it bad that when I saw that picture that I thought Robert Downey Jr. looked like Don Cheadle? While we’re at it, I think Jack Black there in the background kind of looks like Philip Seymour Hoffman. If you kind of squint, Ben Stiller sort of looks like Tom Cruise.
Incidentally, I didn’t mean to imply that The Wayan Brothers making White Chicks was in any way equal to the decades of minstrel shows that depicted African American’s as lazy simpletons – reinforcing racist attitudes that still survive to this day. But rather it’s meant to reflect that blackface or minstrelsy is all but a dead art form all but abolished except for use in satire by a society that has is trying to shed the casual racism of our predecessors. The fact that The Wayans Brothers are able to pitch and sell a movie featuring them as white women speaks directly to how far black America has come. I don’t mean to assign to much importance to White Chicks (it was an awful movie, after all), but can you imagine a film like that being made 50 years ago? Even 30 years ago? Probably not.
Don’t forget about actors like Eddie Murphy, who has portrayed white characters in films like Coming to America and on Saturday Night Live. There is a latitude to how race is portrayed and by whom that didn’t exist before. Race baiting used to be a one way street. Look how much we’ve grown! ;-D
I don’t want to get overtly political about it. But when it came down to trying to write a joke about College Road Trip and Tropic Thunder, I went for Tropic Thunder.
What do you guys think about this controversy. Is it that big of a deal? Does it have the potential to blow up in everyone’s faces? Let me know!
Until then, I hope everyone has a great weekend. See you here on Monday!
I’m probably going to make this worse, but here it goes.
I got into a pretty intense argument with someone in my LiveJournal feed regarding Friday’s comic and the entire issue of whether or not Tropic Thunder and Robert Downey Jr. in make up is racist.
I guess I can say it’s given me a lot to think about. As a white guy from the Midwest, I’ll fully own up to the fact that I am not the most well-versed person there is in regards to the subtleties and politics of racism. I just try to treat others as I’d want to be treated and go about my daily life.
Looking over Friday’s comic and the blog post, I realize that I may not have made the best case for myself. I already explained that, obviously, White Chicks doesn’t make up for minstrel shows, institutionalized racism and 400 years of oppression. But I was making an exaggeration for comedic effect and sometimes that doesn’t always work out the way you planned it.
So, if anyone was offended, all I can say is that I’m sorry.
It’s probably best if I leave it at that.
For those either old enough to remember or for those with access to Nick At Nite, The Cone of Silence is actually a reference to the 1965 television show Get Smart.
(and that’s an old version of The Cone – the more commonly recognized version was kind of two domes that hovered over a desk, but this was the only picture I could find)
I suppose, to that end, it would have made more sense to use Tom’s literal interpretation of The Cone in reference to June’s big screen remake of Get Smart starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway – not Iron Man.
Yeah, I’ll have to take a mulligan on that one. I guess I just got it in my head that it would be funny for Tom to yell into a megaphone labeled “SILENCE” and call it The Cone of Silence. I didn’t completely think it through.
Still, the genesis for today’s strip came from an authentic place. I am in lockdown over Iron Man.
Joe and I have talked about this a lot. He’s actually the one that stated he was entering lockdown first. After the release of the second trailer, he didn’t want more information poluting his enjoyment of the film when it comes out May 2. I understood where he was coming from, but didn’t share the same opinion until a recent clip of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark showed up online featuring him testing out the Iron Man suit with a unique inside-the-helmet perspective.
I didn’t watch the clip! I resisted! I only know what it’s about from the stills I saw and the description I read. Yeah… that’s not much of a lockdown. BUT I DIDN’T WATCH THE CLIP! That has to count for something, right?
Watching trailers are one thing, but I worry a little bit when it comes to watching these clips out of context. At this point, my expectations for Iron Man are sky-high. I don’t want anything casting a shadow of a doubt before I go and see the movie in theaters.
This is not how I typically operate. Normally I devour every piece of information about a movie that I can get my hands on. Unfortunately, what usually happens is that I go to see the movie and am let down because I know about 20% of the plot. There are no surprises. I sabotage myself like this all the time. Consider it hazards of the job.
But the stakes are too high for Iron Man. So no more Iron Man content before the movie comes out! (please note that doesn’t mean there won’t be more Iron Man comics!)
Thanks for swinging by the site today, folks! See you again on Friday!
Long-time readers of this site are probably aware that I’ve been waiting for the film adaptation of Iron Man since it was announced in 2006. In many ways, I’ve been waiting for it my whole life.
I remember quite vividly where my infatuation with Iron Man began – at a truck stop on I-35.
I was 10 years old, traveling with my parents on a weekend get away to Kansas City. We pulled over at a truck stop to stretch our legs and pick up some snacks. Looking through the magazine rack, I saw the cover to Iron Man #218 peeking through. A man in a metal suit diving underwater. “Mom? Will you buy this for me?”
For the rest of that drive, I was glued to that book. I flipped through it over and over. I knew nothing about Iron Man at that point, but the concept of this high-tech man in shining armor struck me immediately and I haven’t really looked back since.
Over the years, my affinity for the character grew largely in part to his look and evolution, but also for the character flaws that are a staple of all Marvel characters.
Tony Stark, more than most, exemplifies this mold of the flawed hero. An alcoholic, a womanizer, a reckless risk-taker, a weapons designer and war profiteer. On paper, there’s not much to admire. But it’s how Stark overcame those flaws to become Iron Man that makes him one of the most emotionally rich characters in the Marvel universe.
Fortunately, all of these elements translate beautifully into Jon Favreau’s big screen version of Iron Man thanks, in large part, to his talented cast and the expert performance of Robert Downey Jr.
Downey Jr. plays Stark with his trademark detached charm. With a glass of bourbon in his hand, he jokes and kids – but all of it masks a profound disinterest and boredom with the fame and success his genius brought him. It’s not until a fateful trip to Afghanistan that Stark’s view of reality comes crashing down around him.
After demonstrating the destructive force of a newly designed missile to military brass, his convoy is attacked by insurgents armed with weapons of his own design. Mortally wounded, he is kidnapped, but kept alive by his attackers who employ another captured scientist named Yinsen to install an electromagnet into Stark’s chest to keep shrapnel from entering his heart and killing him.
Seeing first-hand the human toll of his weapons, Stark upgrades his power source and sets out to build a bulletproof suit of armor to aid in his escape. While the build up is slow, the unveiling of the Mark I armor is especially brutal and you get a real sense of the clunky, ground-shaking power of the crude design.
Back home, Stark immediately announces the end of weapons manufacturing days. As the value of his company plummets, Stark holes up in the basement garage of his cliffside Malibu home and begins to refine the suit that led to his salvation.
The second act of the film deals almost exclusively in this refinement, and it’s a joy to watch. Iron Man isn’t a hero who is delivered his power by circumstance. He literally builds it from the ground up. So it’s interesting to watch the process. After a serious of tests, when Stark decides to take the fight to the warlords who held him captive and destroy their weapons depot, the movie kicks into high gear.
Meanwhile, at home, Stark’s business partner (played with a “trust me” grin from a bald and bearded Jeff Bridges) tries to wrestle control of the company away and introduces the threat of the hulking Iron Monger to Stark’s Golden Avenger.
That’s a lot of exposition and, if anything, it’s Iron Man’s biggest hinderance. Origin stories are typically laborious and die-hard fans are left chomping at the bit for more superhero action while the rest of the audience catches up.
Iron Man is redeemed from this common pitfall thanks to the effervescent pop of its principal cast. Watching them all on screen together instantly brings credibility to the piece.
Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. There is no question about it. He understands the folly of ego and the valor in redemption. As his adversary, Bridges is a credible threat – as ruthless as Stark is brilliant and barely keeping his a seething torrent of angry and resentment in check.
Terrance Howard as Stark’s friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes plays an excellent straight man to Downey Jr’s wisecracks and Gweneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts matches wits round by round with Stark and is more winning and enjoyable in this performance than she has been in years!
If I have a complaint about the film it’s that the final confrontation isn’t as long as I would like. Also, Iron Man heads into battle at half power. I understand why the filmmakers did this in order for Stark to overcome the odds, use his brain instead of his brawn and come out on top looking like the hero… but there is a more satisfying display of the armor’s power at the end of the second act that feels much more cathartic.
Still, leave the audience wanting more, right? It’s probably a big reason I plan on seeing the film a second time. Not just to see more action, but to process everything more thoroughly. After 5 months in cold storage, Hollywood has awoke with a bright and bold action movie. It was like a feast and I was absorbing all of it. Now that I know where some of the punches land, it will be easier to go back and watch the film a little more relaxed.
As a reviewer, I’ve probably diminished my credibility when it comes to Iron Man. Even if the movie had been terrible, I probably still would have recommended it. So some of you might take what I say with a giant boulder of salt.
But the further away I get from it, the more I appreciate the simple elegance of it. Iron Man delivers in the ways that a big summer action movie should. It’s shot with a sense of urgency and impact, the set design is gorgeous, the performances are entertaining and the effects work is jaw-dropping.
After a crippling lack luster first quarter, Iron Man is the movie we’ve all been waiting for and it more than lives up to the hype.
Back in March I did a comic about Tropic Thunder when the first teaser image was released and received some pretty harsh criticism for it.
Last Friday I did a comic about Pineapple Express partnered with a bit about annoying people in movie theaters and was criticized for that one, too.
When Tropic Thunder came around again and there were news reports of advocacy groups representing the mentally handicapped picketing the premiere (they object to the film’s repeated use of the word "retard"), I knew I was setting myself up to put my foot in my mouth once again. So I decided to beat my critics to the punch and have my characters silence me before they could.
I don’t feel like I’m kowtowing to the vocal minority by editing myself in this way. Truthfully, the reaction of these critics played only a very small role in my decision.
Basically, I decided that when it comes to matters of race, gender, disabilities or any other sensitive subject, I’m simply not intelligent enough to create comics that tackle the issues in a constructive way. Invariably, I am always left to explain myself and what the comics actually mean. And, frankly, I think I’m doing a piss-poor job representing myself to you, the audience.
I don’t consider myself to be racist, sexist or discriminatory in any way. I don’t harbor ANY ill will toward anyone because of superficial differences.
However, I will admit to being ignorant and not often understanding the complicated facets of a given issue. As a white guy in my 30’s, I’m not often forced to approach things any differently. I try to remain open to different points of view. But in my attempts to learn and eliminate my ignorance, I believe intent and context are shoved to side and what’s left is an irresponsible cartoonist left to explain himself to angry readers.
You have to understand the kind of guy I am. I’m not the kind of guy who seeks to offend anyone. I don’t get off on making people uncomfortable. And while I like to comment on controversy, I don’t like to be the center of it because that’s not the kind of attention I want to attract.
I know some of you will read this blog and think to yourself "What’s wrong with those comics? I thought they were funny!" If so, thank you. Sorry for wasting your time with this entry.
But, like I said, I’m starting to cultivate a reputation that is in conflict with who I really am and what I really feel as a person and I seek to reverse that course.
I want Theater Hopper to be a positive experience for everyone who reads it and I think I am setting up road blocks in regards to reaching that goal by making jokes that really have nothing to do with movies directly. So, moving forward, I think it’s best for me to stick to what I know and resist the temptation to make an easy joke that might end up offending someone unintentionally.
With that said, the controversy surrounding Tropic Thunder will not be enough to keep me from seeing it. But, at the same time, the controversy is not what attracts me to the film, either. As I perceive it, the movie is about the self-centeredness of actors and the bloated entitlement of big-budget Hollywood films and I think the subject matter is always ripe for parody. I feel sorry for anyone who might be legitimately offended by certain aspects of the film, but I’ve decided to reserve judgment and see the film first. That’s really the best I can do.
Moving on, I wanted to let you know that response to the donation drive for my crashed hard drive has been strong out of the gate and I want to thank everyone who has donated so far! Right now I’m trying to respond to the e-mails and get started on the initial batch of custom artwork. If I haven’t contacted you already, you’ll be hearing from me soon.
To help keep people up to date on our progress, I will be uploading a progress bar to the homepage with a rough estimate of the money we need to cover the data recovery process. With luck, I’ll be hearing from my representative at OnTrack Data Recovery today. So keep your fingers crossed!
Thanks again to those who have donated and for those of you who haven’t, click here to learn more about the drive and what your donation can get you. Custom art all around!
Even if you’re not able to meet the minimum donation amount for custom art, please consider other ways you can help spread the word. Link to Theater Hopper through forums, web sites and social bookmarking sites like Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon or del.icio.us, buy advertising on the site or buy merchandise from our store. Every little bit helps!
If you have suggestions for other ways we can raise money, please e-mail me and let me know. I’m entertaining all ideas!
That about does it for me. Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you here on Friday!
As any regular reader of the site knows, I’m very much “in the tank” as far as Iron Man is concerned. My affinity for the character and his history have fascinated me most of my life. When the movie came roaring out of the gate at the start of the blockbuster season in May, it was (to my relief) a solidly executed, fantastically detailed, humorous and exciting exploration into the birth of Iron Man and his inventor Tony Stark.
My opinion of the film has not changed since I reviewed the theatrical release in May. If anything, my opinion of it has only grown stronger. True, The Dark Knight may have bested Iron Man in box office, fan and critical approval – but was it fun? Could you sit down and watch the grim and gritty tale of Gotham’s protector over and over again or would it be too exhausting. For my money, Iron Man was the movie of 2008.
To that end, what can be said about the release of Iron Man on DVD? Plenty, as it turns out.
If you’re thinking about buying the standard wide screen edition of the film (and if you were planning on buying the full-screen edition, you can leave right now), shell out the extra bucks and get the ultimate 2-disc edition. When they call it “ultimate,” they’re not kidding. There are nearly 4 hours of extras on this bad boy and hardly any of them disappoint.
There are your boilerplate deleted or expanded scenes, and, for the most part, you can see why they were cut. There are more than a few extended scenes that take place at Andrews Air Force Base that don’t add much to the narrative. You kind of get the feeling that they were just appreciative to the Department of Defense for giving them access and they wanted to capture as much as possible before they were kicked off the base.
There are other scenes that were filmed that put a different spin on things. For example, a scene where Tony organizes a party in Dubai to put him closer to the insurgents who captured him when he flies in with the Mark III suit and destroys their weapons depot. Returning from his encounter with the two jets, badly damaged from battle, Pepper discovers Tony in the armor helmet off and enjoying a scotch while the other party-goers sleep it off. Not as funny as the “Admit it – this isn’t the worst thing you’ve caught me doing” line from the original movie, and it’s easy to see why these scenes were cut.
On the second disc, there is an an exhaustive 7-part documentary called “I Am Iron Man” the reveals the making-of process with more detail than I can seem to recall from a full-scale Hollywood action movie. They show nearly everything from concept to competition. They show a great deal of the pre-production work, the concept art, story pitch sessions with the Marvel editorial brain trust, the body casting sessions for star Robert Downey Jr., the effects development, sound development, putting the suit on, taking the suit off… everything. Some might find this amount of depth grueling. I loved every minute of it. I never been this happy watching DVD extras in my life. Admittedly, it’s a lot to process in one sitting. I had to step away from it and come back at a few different points. But for anyone who is interested in the movie-making process even in a general sense, this documentary will be of value to them.
Fun fact: Director Jon Favreau lost over 70-pounds during production on the film to play the part of Happy Hogan. Most telling, he talked about adjustments that needed to be made to his wardrobe as well as his wigs! He basically admits he was a fat head at the start of production.
But I digress.
Additional features on the disc include a second 6-part documentary called “History of the Hero” which chronicles the evolution of the character in the comic books over the last 45 years. It not only does a good job of bringing viewers unfamiliar with the comics up to speed, but it puts some of the larger story points of the movie into context as well as set the stage for areas of the character’s history that are sure to be covered in subsequent movie sequels.
The featurette “Wired: The Visual Effects of Iron Man” does an excellent job of highlighting the artists behind Iron Man’s near-seamless digital effects work. There’s even an extended portion of the piece dedicated to the development of Tony Stark’s inside-the-helmet view or HUD – Head’s Up Display.
The filmmakers had a considerable challenge showcasing Robert Downey Jr. in the armor when his face and expressions can’t be seen. The development of the HUD was a brilliant solution. Not only did it bring you inside the armor, but it lent emotional weight to all of the armor sequences by allowing us to feel what Tony feels, his exhilaration, his fear, his struggle. The amount of detail that went into the tactical display of information inside the HUD will astound you. Most of those scenes only show up for a fraction of a second in the movie. But every piece of information you see has a purpose and it is a great example of the love and attention to detail all of the crew members put in on this film.
The producers aren’t without a sense of humor, though. They also included The Onion’s parody news clip “Wildly Popular Iron Man Trailer to be Adapted into Full Length Film,” which was a welcome surprise.
There are still more extras to be found on the disc, including Robert Downey Jr’s screen test, a scene breakdown between Downey Jr. and Jeff Bridges and still galleries containing over 175 photos. But going into it at this point would be overkill.
Obviously I’m recommending this DVD as highly as I can. There are a few different bonus editions of the film floating around depending on where you shop. Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy all have collector’s editions of the ultimate 2-disc set with bonuses including the pilot to the upcoming animated Iron Man: Armored Avengers, a helmet-shaped DVD case and mini-bust of Iron Man respectively. Whichever one you choose to go with is totally up to you. What counts is the DVD inside – and this is one of the biggest bangs for you buck that you’re likely to get all year.
I normally wince at doing comics about “industry news” because I think most people won’t have the background information needed to get the joke. Thus, I feel compelled to establish the situation with some kind of long-winded exposition. Hence, the super-wide first panel with Jared giving us the lowdown.
Truthfully, I’m completely tapped in terms of commentary for upcoming movies like Saw V and Pride and Glory.
Incidentally, this is the article Jared is talking about regarding Paramount’s decision to push back The Soloist from November to March.
I guess I kind of misrepresented things in the comic because Paramount didn’t bump The Soloist from November explicitly to support a Best Supporting Actor campaign for Robert Downey Jr.’s performance in Tropic Thunder. That was more of a by-product of the situation. Paramount was pressured by its parent company to cut 4th quarter costs and The Soloist was easiest to move. So, really, it’s all about money – as it often is.
I’m thinking it’s somewhat misguided on Paramount’s part to finance a campaign for RDJ’s role in Tropic Thunder. Not just because comedies typically do not fare well during awards season, but also because of the controversy of putting an A-list actor in black face for nearly 2 hours.
Look, the film ruffled a few feathers, but they managed to pull it off. No one walked away from it sustaining any permanent damage to their careers. Just let the thing flourish on DVD and let sleeping dogs lie. The less said about this, the better. Quit trying to take advantage of RDJ’s resurgence in 2008. Yes, it’s a crime that the man hasn’t been nominated for anything since Chaplin, but Tropic Thunder is not the film to break that streak. All things in due time.
Switching gears, I wanted to talk about Monday’s strip and the wave of e-mails I received about having a mid-life crisis at 30. It was surprising how many people wrote in to express the same misgivings about getting old. One reader sent me a couple of links detailing The Quarter-Life Crisis and the astrologers theory of Saturn’s Return.
I guess I was familiar with the idea of a quarter-life crisis from a lyric in John Mayer song. Of course, there’s also that album from No Doubt called Return of Saturn, so I guess I’m kind of of familiar with that as well. I just never made the connection between these ideas and my own station in life.
Weird how I know about these things through my exposure to pop music.
Anyway, it was nice to get e-mails from people answering the question “Is it possible to have a mid-life crisis at 30?” and agreeing with it. A lot of you have been there or could sympathize with the feeling and that was reassuring. So… thanks!
I don’t know why I felt the need to share that beyond how I find it interesting what topics will generate a response from you guys. Makes me feel good you’re reading the blogs!
That does it for me today. Have a great Wednesday!
Yeah! Ha, ha, ha! Take THAT People’s Choice Awards! I hope you packed a lunch because I just took you to school!
Okay, so… maybe The People’s Choice Awards really isn’t that big of a deal. Still, it beats having to talk about another Saw movie for the fifth year in a row!
This strip is a continuation of Tom’s insistence of a Best Actor nod for Robert Downey Jr.’s performance in Iron Man from Wednesday’s comic. I didn’t really envision more than one strip when I wrote the first one until my friend Joe asked me if there was going to be a longer storyline.
I mean, I guess I could see where the punchline for Wednesday’s comic kind of set things, but I’m seriously just flying by the seat of my pants, here. I could probably do another strip on Monday. It depends what you guys think. Do you guys want to see where this goes or do you want me to do a strip about Zach and Miri Make A Porno? Halloween is next week. Should I do a Halloween strip instead? Send me an e-mail and tell me what you think!
Nothing much to talk about this weekend, movie-wise. Saw V is going dominate and that’s that. *YAWN* Personally, I’m kind of interested in seeing Pride and Glory. I know I shouldn’t be, though. It looks like such typical tough guy police corruption boilerplate. Like Joe said during The Triple Feature on Monday, it looks like We Own The Night: Part 2. Nevermind this movie has been on the shelf for 8 months after being completed. That’s typical a bad sign.
But still, I’m almost always interested in what either Ed Norton or Colin Farrell do and I think a pairing of the two actors is long overdue. Farrell experienced some over-exposure a few years back and I guess it led him to treatment for his alcoholism. I’m interested to see how that has affected his acting and intensity. Plus, it’s directed by Gavin O’Connor, which I’m sure means nothing to you. But he also directed the Kurt Russell Olympic hockey movie Miracle a few years back and I thought he did a really great job with that movie. It’s one of those films I quietly appreciate because I’m not typically interested in sports movies. What can I say? That one got to me.
At any rate, I might try to sneak out and see it this weekend if I’ve got nothing else going on.
That’s all for today. Thanks for checking the site and I hope you have a great weekend! See you here on Monday!
RockNRollaI wanted to say thank to the people who sent me e-mails last week in response to my call for feedback. I had asked people for their thoughts on either continuing the Tom-tries-to-get-Robert-Downey-Jr.-an-Oscar-nomination storyline or if I should move on to greener pastures and focus on the upcoming Halloween holiday or Kevin Smith’s new film, Zach and Miri Make A Porno.
The cross-section of feedback was interesting. It was pretty much split even between people who wanted to see what direction the RDJ storyline would go versus people that wanted Halloween hijinks. Most telling, however, was the number of people thanking me for not doing a Saw V strip. I guess I’m not the only person who thinks the franchise is suffering from overexposure. Then again, it looks like we’re in the minority. Saw V pulled in over $30 million this weekend.
What Saw V didn’t do was dominate the box office like I predicted last week. I had totally forgotten about High School Musical 3 coming out last week. But then, why would I remember it? I’m not a 15 year-old girl.
At any rate, you can see that I’m moving toward some Halloween goodness this week, so stay tuned for more. I think the expectation is that Tom is going to run around in his Iron Man gear for the third time this year. Don’t count on it. Some of the other feedback I received was "Enough with the Iron Man stuff, already!" I don’t exactly plan on avoiding it, but you’ll have to hang around to see what twist I put on it.
That’s it for today. Be sure to tune in to The Triple Feature podcast live tonight at 9:00 PM CST at TalkShoe.com. No doubt we’ll be talking about Saw V, perhaps Guy Ritchie’s film RockNRolla and more. Be there with your questions and if you have the capacity to call in, we might put you on the air with us!
Talk to you then!
I kind of cheated a little bit on the backgrounds for today’s comic. They’re screen captures from Tony’s garage in Iron Man. I had a hard time grabbing them. I would scan the frames for the shots I needed, but then go back and start watching scenes from the movie. Total time suck!
As you may or may not know, the 2009 Oscar nominations were announced yesterday and Robert Downey Jr. being nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Tropic Thunder stuck out the most to me across a field of otherwise safe choices.
Obviously RDJ won’t win, citing the Academy’s aversion to comedic performances. If anything, it’s a tip of the hat to the comeback year Downey Jr. has had and they certainly couldn’t nominate him for Iron Man for fear of losing complete credibility.
I was a little surprised that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button racked up 13 nominations and even more surprised that it earned nominations in the Big 5 – Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director and Adapted Screenplay. Seriously – I thought interest had wained on this thing. Everyone I’ve talked to says it’s an exhaustive slog to get through and nothing much happens.
But, statistically, it’s the front-runner. So I suppose I will have to check it out.
I guess I was also surprised that The Wrestler was no nominated for Best Picture. Almost everyone I talk to seems to love that movie. Meanwhile, The Reader made the cut despite critics taking it to task for being a bit of a mess (aside from Kate Winslet’s performance, of course).
Any while we’re talking about the Best Picture nominations, I’m personally disappointed that Wall-E couldn’t bust out of the Best Animated Feature Film ghetto and lock down a Best Picture nomination. One of the most critically adored and respected film’s in Pixar’s history and it’s been relegated second-class citizenship. If the Academy had not created the Best Animated Feature Film category, Wall-E would have been a contender for sure. If the Academy saw fit to nominate Beauty and The Beast for Best Picture nearly 20 years ago, surely Wall-E could compete.
Interesting that there was no gold watch nomination for Clint Eastwood and his contributions to Gran Torino. Going into nominations, I thought buzz was building on that one. I guess not.
Of course, everyone is talking about Heath Ledger being nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his revolutionary turn as The Joker in The Dark Knight. But I don’t think he’ll win. The Dark Knight was conspicuously shut out of any other major category. The highest grossing film of the year – one of the highest grossing since Titanic and no recognition with a Best Picture or Best Director nomination? Sure it cleaned up with 7 nominations in the technical categories, but c’mon!
Ultimately, I think Nathaniel R. from The Film Experience hit the nail on the head with his Oscar nominations talking points posted yesterday. I found this by way of Jeffery Wells over at Hollywood Elsewhere:
The Oscar’s will be broadcast February 22 on ABC. For your reference, here is a list of the most prominent 2009 Oscar nominations:
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Richard Jenkins–The Visitor
Brad Pitt–The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke–The Wrestler
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Robert Downey Jr.–Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman–Doubt
Heath Ledger–The Dark Knight
Michael Shannon–Revolutionary Road
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Anne Hathaway–Rachel Getting Married
Melissa Leo–Frozen River
Kate Winslet–The Reader
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Penelope Cruz–Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Taraji Henson–The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei–The Wrestler
David Fincher–The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Gus Van Sant–Milk
Stephen Daldry–The Reader
Danny Boyle–Slumdog Millionaire
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Eric Roth–The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley–Doubt
David Hare–The Reader
Simon Beaufoy–Slumdog Millionaire
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Kung Fu Panda
BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
So, what’s your take? Is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button worthy of 13 nominations? Who films or performances do you think were ignored? What are your predictions for who will take home the little golden man?
Leave your comments below!