Sunday, December 10, 2006

COM: Blogarithmic #184

Film awards season is coming up, some news below. Because of last year's gangrene fiasco and other life-changing moments, i never posted my best of lists for 2005. So far this year, for various reasons, some directly related to three weeks in the hospital, i've managed to see about 210 movies, with my hopes up for seeing quite a few more before the end of the month, being, as it were, a "holiday season". Some of that is dependent on my scheduling and finishing about a dozen films of my own that i keep trying to get out (though, i actually did finish one yesterday and was passing out copies today!). Still, much work yet to be done. Anyway, back to my line of thought. Despite the number of films i've seen this year the best thing i saw is still the first thing i saw this year -- The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada -- a film i liked then, watched again last week and still like, and think ought to be considered for "best" film somewhere though i have yet to see it mentioned. On the other hand, of all the things being mentioned, it's the only thing i've seen besides Borat (which i thought was hilarious, but was not in the category of things i usually think about when i think of "best" picture, kind of like i felt about Fahrenheit 9/11). So, when the end of the year rolls around i hope to make a two-year combined list of bests i've seen during that (rich for me) time period. And i'll update my sidebar recs then too.

‘Borat,’ ‘Iwo Jima’ among honored films
AFI, LA critics pick favorite movies of year
The Associated Press, Updated: 7:18 p.m. CT Dec 10, 2006
LOS ANGELES - Clint Eastwood’s “Letters From Iwo Jima,” the second of his two World War II sagas this year, was picked as the top movie of 2006 Sunday by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

Set for release Dec. 20, “Letters From Iwo Jima” stars Ken Watanabe and chronicles the battle from the perspective of Japanese soldiers defending the island against U.S. troops. The film comes just two months after Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers,” which centers on the U.S. troops depicted in the legendary photo of the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima.

The runner-up for best picture was “The Queen,” a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family in crisis after the death of Princess Diana in 1997. “The Queen” earned the group’s honors for best actress for Helen Mirren, supporting actor for Michael Sheen and screenplay for Peter Morgan.

The New York Film Critics Online Awards on Sunday also were dominated by “The Queen,” which earned five honors: best picture, best actress for Mirren, supporting actor for Sheen, director for Stephen Frears and screenplay for Morgan.

Also Sunday, the American Film Institute released its picks for the year’s top-10 movies, including “Letters From Iwo Jima,” the musical “Dreamgirls,” the Sept. 11 drama “United 93” and the outrageous comedy “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”

The Los Angeles critics group split its best-actor prize between Sacha Baron Cohen, who reprised his television character as a Kazakh journalist observing America in “Borat,” and Forest Whitaker, who plays Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland.”

The supporting-actress honor went to Luminita Gheorghiu for “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu,” a Romanian film about an elderly man quietly fading away as he’s shuffled from hospital to hospital over the course of one night.

Paul Greengrass was named best director for “United 93,” with Eastwood the runner-up.

Among other honors from the Los Angeles critics: animated film, “Happy Feet,” documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth” and foreign-language film, “The Lives of Others.”

The flurry of film honors come at the start of Hollywood’s long season leading up to the Academy Awards on Feb. 25. Critics picks often differ substantially from the films that ultimately triumph at the Oscars, though they do give a boost to the prospects of some films.

The New York Film Critics Circle releases its 2006 honors Monday, while nominations for the Golden Globes, the biggest Hollywood prizes before the Oscars, are announced Thursday.

The AFI’s top-10 list also included the ensemble story “Babel,” the fashion-world satire “The Devil Wears Prada,” the gritty classroom drama “Half Nelson,” the animated penguin romp “Happy Feet,” the bank-heist thriller “Inside Man,” and the road-trip tale “Little Miss Sunshine.”

The AFI does not rank its picks for best films of the year. The list was chosen by a panel of 13 filmmakers, critics, scholars and AFI trustees.

A separate AFI panel picked the group’s top-10 television shows of the year: “Battlestar Galactica,” “Dexter,” “Elizabeth I,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Heroes,” “The Office,” “South Park,” “24,” “The West Wing” and “The Wire.”

The films and shows will be honored at an AFI luncheon in Los Angeles on Jan. 12. The Los Angeles critics awards will be presented Jan. 14.

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