Every Slumdog Has Its Day
Our Seventh Annual Kinda Sorta Salute to The Oscars
The Dark Knight massively raked in more than $530 million at the box office last year. Thus far, Slumdog Millionaire has emerged as the 2008 awards season's most loved movie. In the former, a billionaire vigilante gives citizens and moviegoers the hero/villain it wants and needs. In the latter, an adorable young man's hard-scrabble existence provides him with the life experience necessary to win cash and a girl's love. Welcome to recession moviegoing, where we passively permit the ultra-rich to protect us and, during a time when far too many of us feel lucky to have whatever job that is barely paying the bills, hope that a period of having not now might eventually lead to a better tomorrow.
Perhaps that's why Slumdog has emerged the odds-on favorite to continue its awards good fortune this Sunday night at the 81st annual Academy Awards--it's the best picture nominee offering this past election year's most coveted commodity: hope. Yes, a hope stimulus package is proving hard to come by, but at least it looks forward instead of backward, as do the cast-in-cinematic-amber The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the shadows of a different plagued administration in Frost/Nixon, the horrible tragedy of Milk, and the something-about-collaboration-with-Nazis of The Reader. Yes, we may all have to fight to survive, but at least Slumdog offers a glimmer of something optimistic in that struggle--all in bright, Bollywood colors with a peppy soundtrack to boot.
City Paper's seventh-annual Alties try to split the difference, recognizing the 2008 movies that didn't try to sell moviegoers stylized versions of the past or an idealized promise. These movies aimed much lower or at different targets, looking to inform or merely to entertain. Some, of course, were absolute stinkers, but as Slumdog has taught us, sometimes even the most dire out there end up on top.
Best Awesomeness: Iron Man. Glaze: "He listens to Suicidal Tendencies, dude."
Best Dance Movie: Planet B-Boy.
Best Kids Movie: WALL-E.
Best Documentary: Up the Yangtze.
Best Documentary People Actually Saw: Standard Operating Procedure.
Best Prescient Comedy: Tina Fey stars as a successful woman with baby issues in Baby Mama mere months before doing a different version of the same as Sarah Palin.
Best Zipless Suck: Twilight.
Best Unbearable Whimsy: Be Kind Rewind.
Best Affluent People Suffering: Rachel Getting Married.
Best Law & Order Episode: The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
Best It's the Economy, Stupid: Chop Shop.
Best Fuck the Economy: Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
Please, Don't Do That Again: Righteous Kill.
Best Actor Forced to Do Crap in a Hollywood Movie: Don Cheadle, Traitor.
Best Actress Forced to Do Crap in a Hollywood Movie: Joan Allen, Death Race. Glaze: "Who knows, maybe she's always felt she could do something special with the line 'OK, cocksucker. Fuck with me, and we'll see who shits on the sidewalk.'"
Best Ensemble Forced to do Crap in a Hollywood Movie: W. McCabe: "Ellen Burstyn's Barbara Bush at least had some pithy life, but Elizabeth Banks looked like she was dying for a crude joke as Laura Bush, Richard Dreyfuss looked like he was only asked to eat to be Dick Cheney, and poor Thandie Newton was forced to play Condoleezza Rice with her face puckered and slightly twitching, as if she chased a pound of limes with a fistful of Adderall."
Best Cameos: The Dark Knight (Cillian Murphy, Nicky Katt, Michael Jai White, William Fichtner, Tiny Lister).
Best Dan Hedaya: Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon.
Best Performance by Someone Who's Not Taken Seriously as an Actor: Jean-Claude Van Damme as washed-up action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme, JCVD.
Best Performance by Someone Who's Not Taken Seriously as an Actress: Asia Argento, The Last Mistress.
Best Performance by an Artificial Life Form: Jennifer Connelly trying to be human, The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Best Graceful Aging On-Screen: Kim Cattrall, Sex And The City. Glaze: "Not only for her bullet-proof MILFitude but because any actress that can weather Porky's, Mannequin, and Police Academy and yet come out even classier toward the 'end' of her career must be doing something right."
Best Ungraceful Aging On-Screen: Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan thrashing their jiggly butts through one 'musical' number after another, Mamma Mia!
Best What-He-Never-Does: James Franco as a blissed-out stoner goofball, Pineapple Express. Glaze: "Somehow the scraggly moustache, Guatemala hippie pants, greasy hair, and 4:20 grin makes him a billion times sexier than his usual sad puppy/James Dean-lite routine."
Best I Just Wanted to Destroy Something Beautiful: Jared Leto needlessly packing on the method-acting pounds to become a bloated, dough-faced Mark Chapman for the completely forgettable Chapter 27.
Best Technology Porn: Body of Lies.
Best Product Placement: Pornography, Zack and Miri Make a Porno. McCabe: "Yes, porn is exploitative and sinful, but it can also bring two very loving people together."
Best Hair: Danny McBride's afro-mullet hybrid, Pineapple Express. McCabe: "So hot, Kanye West rocked it at the Grammys."
Best Ice-Cold Blonde: Samuel L. Jackson, Jumper.
Best Male Pattern Baldness: Jason Statham, The Bank Job.
Best Candy-colored Tangerine Flake Streamline Babies: Speed Racer.
Best Sex Scene: the montage of Russell Brand and a poodle-channeling Kristen Bell going at it, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Best Gratuitous Nudity: Matthew Goode and Ben Whishaw's we're-not-gay-we're-merely-heirs-to-the-staggeringly-oblivious-homoerotic-traditions-of-British-aristocracy poolside and bathtub frolicking, Brideshead Revisited.
Best Bush: James Adomian, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.
Best Gotcha: Kate Winslet's sex scenes, The Reader. Johnson: "Before we know she was a Nazi prison guard, it's the best guilty pleasure since the sex scenes in Schindler's List."
Best Ass-Kicking Jews: Defiance.
Best Vanity Fair Article: Savage Grace
Best CCD Class for Dummies: Seven Pounds. McCabe: "What happens when penitence object lessons take steroids."
Best Cat Attack: The CGI-feline swarm destroying an elderly Swedish vampire's face, Let the Right One In.
Best Death: A marauding plant thing dies and turns an urban street into a verdant forest, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army.
Best BFG: The eight-gauge shotgun Viggo Mortensen's character totes, Appaloosa.
Best Unconscionable Violence: Rambo. McCabe: "Gorier than most slasher flicks."
The Crispin Hellion Glover What Is It? Award for Passing Off Onscreen Personal Obsessions as Art: Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York. ?
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