Monday, December 22, 2008

Film: Florida Film Critics' best of 2008 (and my rebuttals)

Ayush Mahesh Khedekar in a scene
from Slumdog Millionaire.

By Hap Erstein

’Tis the season . . . For year-end film awards from critics’ groups, like the Florida Film Critics Circle, which I belong to and vote in, now representing
Palm Beach ArtsPaper.

All such groups like to believe that they are a bellwether of the Oscars and FFCC at least did select what became the Academy Award-winning best picture for the past two years (
No Country for Old Men and The Departed). This year, the group went for Danny Boyle inventive rags-to-riches tale in Mumbai, India, Slumdog Millionaire, as the top picture.

That’s fine with me, though my vote went to
Milk, the biography of slain gay San Francisco city official Harvey Milk.

Here are the rest of the group’s top vote-getters and, in parentheses, my choices:

Best actor: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler (My choice: Sean Penn, Milk)

Best actress: Melissa Leo, Frozen River (Kristin Scott Thomas, I’ve Loved You So Long)

* Best supporting actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight (Agreed)

Best supporting actress: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler (Viola Davis, Doubt)

Best director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire (Gus Van Sant, Milk)

Best screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire (Dustin Lance Black, Milk)

Best cinematography: Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight (Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire)

Best foreign-language film: Let The Right One In (I’ve Loved You For So Long)

Best animated feature: Wall*E (Agreed)

Best documentary: Man on Wire (Agreed)

* Pauline Kael Breakout Award: Martin McDonagh, writer/director of In Bruges (Agreed)

Golden Orange Award (for outstanding contribution to film in Florida): Dick Morris of Sarasota Film Society (Abstained)

On the whole, I liked the group’s choices, especially when they agreed with mine. I don’t have nearly the enthusiasm of the group for
The Wrestler, a both brutal and maudlin yarn about a broken-down wrestler trying for a comeback.

But on the other hand, I am pleased that Melissa Leo was singled out for her performance as a desperate mother trying to keep her family together in
Frozen River. It is dark and downbeat and played locally for about a minute. Do seek it out on DVD. She and Thomas are in such small, but worthy films that the Academy usually ignores.

Next week, I will be posting my 10 Best List for 2008, but you already know that the top spot goes to

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