Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Roger Ebert picks his winners

Roger Ebert has picked his winners in each Oscar race of the evening. And here are his choices and some of his reasons why:


"I was truly shaken by how deeply I was moved by the closing shot of the candlelight parade down San Francisco's Castro Street, the memorial to the murdered Harvey Milk, who had started here and become the nation's first openly gay public official. They were marching not only for the spirit of Harvey Milk. They were marching for all the lives he touched— including a closeted Mormon teenager named Dustin Lance Black, who later would write this screenplay. They were marching for pain in the past, and hope in the future. Of the five nominees, "Milk" was far and away my personal leader in Elevation. I think it worked because Gus Van Sant's direction, Sean Penn's performance and Black's screenplay earned the right to that final shot. It didn't exploit it, it deserved it."


"It is routinely said that "The Wrestler" is Rourke's "comeback performance." It is not only that. It is his comeback on his own terms, as a full-force, heedless, passionate physical actor, with strong undercurrents of tenderness, loneliness, and need. He did a lot of his own wrestling in the film, including a scene where he deliberately cuts himself, and he was painfully honest in the scenes with women. What you see is a man with what he knows is the role of his lifetime, and willing (I am convinced) to die for it. Rourke gives simply the best performance of the year."


"What a complete performance, evoking a woman's life in a time of economic hardship. The most timely of films, but that isn't reason enough. I was struck by how intensely determined she was to make the payments, support her two children, carry on after her abandonment by a gambling husband, and still maintain rules and goals around the house. This was a heroic woman. There is no strain, no going for effects. Leo plays very close to the bone, closer to the soul. She does what she does because her kids can't live on breakfast cereal and Tang. She is never pathetic. She is resourceful. She trusts herself. She's trying to raise good kids. I cared deeply for her, I even loved the character."


"He transformed the character of the Joker, who we thought we knew so well, into a suffering, haunted being, stripped of all emotion except for ruthless self-pity. His role as the Joker is not performed to entertain himself, but as a necessary acting-out of turmoil. Its function as a deliberate performance is underlined by his makeup, deliberately cruder and messier than previous Jokers, as if he slops it on with anger. His laugh is maniacal. Curiously, I found I pitied him, was moved by his cry for help. And yes, perhaps I was moved, after all, by the knowledge that this would be Heath Ledger's last performance. You can't watch the movie without thinking that. And it is so brave, so exhausting, so giving of self, so willing to give voice to the Joker's pain, that it reached me deeply."


"She walks into "Doubt," which is a great film to begin with, and stuns us with a scene that portrays an entire reality outside the closed world of the school. It's said she "steals" the scene with Streep. Not so. If she had, it would have been an acting error. She plays the scene with Streep, head-to-head. I can't find any authoritative source saying how long the sequence goes on. Some say five minutes, some 10, some 15. Viola Davis is a great actor. If she is ever given a leading role in a movie, she will come to full glory, as she has on the stage. It is extraordinary that all four lead performances in "Doubt" were nominated. I suspect if Davis had not been the film's catalyst, none might have been. In a way, you want to follow her out of the film, and go home with her and into the next movie."

good choices Roger!

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