Posts Tagged ‘Academy Awards’

Hooray! Sean Penn wins his second Oscar for his portrayal of gay rights activist, Harvey Milk.  A well-deserved award.  And a great speech.  He flat out cried for gay rights. Thank you, Mr. Penn.

“For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think it’s a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect on their great shame and their shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that support.  We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.”

Well done, Penn.  And thanks for the support.


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Congratulations to ‘Milk’ screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black,  for his Oscar win for Best Original Screenplay.  I’m so happy for him.  His acceptance speech was so inspiring and honest.  I’m glad he gave a plea for gay rights.  Here is what he had to say.

“When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life. It gave me the hope one day I could live my life openly as who I am and then maybe even I could even fall in love and one day get married.

I wanna thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally, across this great nation of ours. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk.”

Thank you, Dustin!

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I’m winging it on some of these, but it’s still fun.  Let’s see how many I get right.

Actor in a Leading Role

My pick: Sean Penn
Prediction: Sean Penn

Actor in a Supporting Role

My pick: Robert Downey Jr.
Prediction: Heath Ledger

Actress in a Leading Role

My pick: Kate Winslet
Prediction: Meryl Streep

Actress in a Supporting Role

My pick: Taraji P. Henson
Prediction: Penelope Cruz

Best Animated Feature

My pick: WALL-E
Prediction: WALL-E

Art Direction

My pick: The Dark Knight
Prediction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


My pick: Slumdog Millionaire
Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire

Costume Design

My pick: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Prediction: The Duchess


My pick: Danny Boyle
Prediction: Danny Boyle

Documentary Feature

My pick: Man on Wire
Prediction: Man on Wire

Film Editing

My pick: The Dark Knight
Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire

Foreign Language Film

My pick: ?
Prediction: Waltz with Bashir


My pick: The Dark Knight
Prediction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)

My pick: Thomas Newman (WALL-E)
Prediction: A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire)

Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)

My pick: “Down to Earth” from WALL-E
Prediction: “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire

Best Picture

My pick: Milk
Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire

Animated Short Film

My pick: Presto
Prediction: This Way Up

Live Action Short Film

My pick: ?
Prediction: The Pig

Sound Editing

My pick: The Dark Knight
Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire

Sound Mixing

My pick: Slumdog Millionaire
Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire

Visual Effects

My pick: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Prediction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Adapted Screenplay

My pick: Slumdog Millionaire
Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire

Original Screenplay

My pick: Milk
Prediction: In Bruges

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Hooray it’s Oscar Night.  I’m looking forward to see who will in each category.  But my favorite category is achievement in music written for motion pictures (original score).  I love film scores.  Every movie I watch I’m always listening for the music.  I know, I’m strange, but I think the film scores are so important and sometimes can either really kill a movie or add to it.  So what about this year’s nominees?

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Well, I thought Alexandre Desplat’s score for The Queen was much better. This movie, I thought, was so long and flat and unfortunately the music didn’t really help.  It’s beautiful score, the string and harp melodies were wonderful, but that’s it.  It was basically a two hour lullaby.  Wonderful to listen to, but nothing really note worthy.


How can you go wrong with Joshua Bell?  Bell is designated violinist for film, just like Yo-Yo Ma is the designated cellist.  I can’t really say much about the score because, well, I haven’t seen the movie.  All I can say is James Newton Howard is no stranger to Academy Award nominations (The Village, Michael Clayton).


This is a surprise score from Danny Elfman.  Yeah, Danny Elfman is known for his campy soundtracks, but he is also known for composing some beautiful pieces.  I thought Big Fish was a great score and Milk is another one of his greater works.  This was a well deserved nomination.  It was so haunting, yet strangely beautiful.  The piece during the main titles of the film is what I think got Elfman the nomination.  It’s a strange mix of string melodies, a piano, an electric guitar, and a saxophone, yet somehow it all fit.  The saxophone solo was the perfect instrument to feature.  It’s something that you don’t really hear in a film score, but Elfman proved the saxophone can be just as soft and beautiful.  A great soundtrack, it has some of the unique Elfman qualities that most people are used to hearing, but overall the score is very different from his previous works.

Slumdog Millionaire

O…Saya!  Well certainly, like the film, this is a clear standout from the rest.  A.R. Rahman is insanely talented.   He is a huge Bollywood composer and has sold over 100 million records.  At first I wasn’t sure about the music of this film, but after watching it, that is what made the film.  It’s so complex and unique and unlike anything I’m used to hearing.  This soundtrack grew on me, I loved how modern it sounded yet it incorporated styles and instruments from the traditional Indian film soundtracks.  One of the best tracks is the scene when the children are running away from the gangster.  The sitar player is amazing and it’s not the usual way a sitar is used.  Another great track is ‘Ringa Ringa’, which is a  typical Bollywood sounding track.  It’s so driving and fun and features the popular Indian singer Alka Yagnik.  This score is so rich and full of layers it’s impossible to not give it a nomination.


Thomas Newman never disappoints.  His is in his own genre.  I love his compositions.  Each of them are so different, yet it has that Thomas Newman signature sound to them.  WALL-E is no exception.  The score has a driving percussive feel, but manages to sound other worldly.  The harps and guitar beats mixed with the strings sound so beautiful.  Newman was the perfect fit to put music to outer space.  It’s a joy to hear all of these weird sounds and mixes put into lovely sounding score.  WALL-E is Newman’s tenth Academy Award nomination.  Two this year, one for the score and one for the song “Down to Earth.”  Maybe he’ll actually win an award this time.

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Hooray, the Oscars are coming up.  Yeah, whatever.  So what if I’m a nerd for watching the Oscars?  I just happen to be a fan a film and Hugh Jackman is hosting.  So, of course I’m going to be glued to the television set.  Hugh in High Definition–Glorious.

Anyway, I recently saw Milk and I just had to write about it.  I’m not sure how everyone else felt (I’m sure not like this), but I was an emotional wreck during this film.  Already from the start of the film, I got so emotional.  Watching the archival footage of police raiding gay bars set to a beautiful weeping saxophone solo was so moving to me.  The score and the saxophone solo piece was the perfect tone for the opening sequence.  A really sad but fitting opening for the film.

It was great to see gay characters in their element portrayed on screen.  Although, I think it would have been interesting to see the earlier stages of Milk’s life.  The closeted Milk, working in New York, like many other gay men afraid to disclose their sexual orientation out of fear of losing their job.  The film also seemed to avoid Milk’s personal past.  He had more than one ex-lover who suffered from depression and attempted suicide.

The film covers Milk’s effort to defeat Proposition 6 or the Briggs Initiative, proposed by the then state legislator John Briggs, that would have banned all gay and lesbians, and anyone who supported gay rights, from working in California’s public school.  Proposition 6 was also a part of a larger movement to strip rights away from all gay and lesbians.  Watching Anita Bryant and her ‘Save Our Children’ organization repeal local gay rights ordinances was so disheartening and frustrating.  It was sad to see these unfortunate events, after having recently watched the passage of Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban, pass in my home state of California.  Watching the film, I couldn’t help but remember how I felt the night before the election.  Just like the film, we were all so nervous and agitated and hoped for the best, while watching the results unveil.  Unfortunately, Proposition 8 didn’t have the same outcome as Proposition 6.  So, watching Proposition 6 get defeated on film, was a bit of a blow for me.

Overall, I’m happy to see these moments in history relive onscreen for today’s generation.  Sean Penn gave an amazing performance.  I thought his speeches were so believable and moving. He just seemed so natural leading the gay movement.  I thought the film’s score was beautiful and serene, but a bit haunting, which fit the political stage and struggles of the film.  All 8 Academy Award nominations are well deserved.  We’ll see if the film takes home any on Sunday night.

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