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Non-Review Review: Gladiator

My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.

– Maximus sums up the plot in case you were sleeping for the first hour and a half

The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who defied an emperor. Striking story!

– Commodus also reiterates the plot in case you weren’t paying attention

I think a lot of the appeal of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator rested on the fact we hadn’t seen a film quite like this in over a generation. In the years since we’ve witnessed a rejuvenated genre, with historical epics becoming more and more common. It’s easy to forget the impact of the Ridley Scott’s swords-and-sandals epic in the wake of films like King Arthur, Robin Hood or even Kingdom of Heaven – let alone 300 or shows like Spartacus: Blood & Sand. And yet, even after all these big all-action historical endeavours, there’s still something special about Gladiator.

It's the eye of the tiger...

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Best Picture Poster Porn…

Here’s a little treat to get you in the mood for this evening’s festivities. BAFTA hired artist Tavis Coburn to basically design retro-style posters for their own awards – you know, like Turner Classic Movies did last summer. Since there’s significant overlap between the Oscars shortlist and the BAFTA shortlist, it’s a nice way to get yourself geared up for an interesting night. It’s a shame there isn’t an Inglourious Basterds poster, as that movie is arguably the best suited to a retro reimagining, but I guess the recent charity redesigns will have to do.

The posters are below. Click for bigger versions.

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Has the Email Controversy Hurt The Hurt Locker’s Chances?

Well, balloting is official closed. The deadline has passed and, by the time you read this, counting will more than likely be under way. It’s been an interesting Oscar season, and – since this is my last post before the ceremony – I should probably make some sort of generic observation about the competition. In truth, the acting races seem to have been sewn up since before nominations were even announced, but it looks like there’s a genuine race on for the Best Picture Oscar. In the interest of objective journalism (okay, blogging), I should concede that I have a €10 bet with my brother on the race. He expects Avatar to win because (and I quote) “it looks awesome”. I was backing The Hurt Locker, but part of me wonders if the anti-Avatar fiasco means that I should just give him the tenner now and be done.

Chartier attempts to defuse the situation...

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Reaction to the Best Picture Oscar Nominations…

Well, it’s been a week since the nominations were announced. I think I’m as adjusted as I’ll ever be to this year’s crop of Oscar contenders. Am I happy? Relatively. Am I delighted? No. Am I as filled with disappointment and rage as I was last year? Not nearly. Does this mean we can judge the ten horse race a success? I’m not so sure. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the worse of this year’s nominations, snubs and just inexplicable nods. I’ll be taking a look at the acting nominations later in the week, because this post just ballooned. Rather fitting given the expansion of the category, no?

Let the speculating and analysis and moaning begin...

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And The Oscar Nominees Are…

The Oscar nominees have just been announced. In the next few hours, in-depth analysis from all manner of sources will take place and discussions will begin on whether the conversion of the Best Picture Oscar to a ten horse race has made the nomination phase anymore exciting. I don’t think it has – we’ve all been talking about the big five like it were any other year – Up In The Air, Inglourious Basterds, Avatar, The Hurt Locker and Precious – and that doesn’t really seem to have changed. However, there’s been a whole heap of discussion about the remaining places on the list. Though that doesn’t exactly ‘shake up the Oscar race’. Once we get a taste for how the Oscars choose the next five (and I suspect it will be on the same basis as the first five), picking ten will seem as simple as picking five did. But I digress. Nominees and  preliminary analysis below. Note I’ll probably offer a more in-depth look at the race tomorrow.

It's that time of year again...

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Does Avatar Deserve the Best Picture Oscar?

Last week, I posted about the inevitable post-Oscar analysis we would see if James Cameron took home the Oscar for Avatar. I bemoaned the possibility that this would be sold as the moment the Academy re-engaged with mainstream culture, observing that they would only give it to him because he was James Cameron, not because of the box office numbers or the fact the film had resonated with the public. Those who read this blog with any regularity will know that I’m not the biggest fan of the film, I have several huge problems with it, but I feel the need to clarify my position on Avatar. I don’t think that it doesn’t deserve to win – and yes, that’s a double negative. I wouldn’t feel robbed if James Cameron got another little gold statuette. I can even concede that Avatar  might have earned it.

James Cameron is probably going to need a bigger Oscar cabinet...

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Non-Review Review: The Silence of the Lambs

A modern classic. The finest portrayal of one the greatest villains ever created. Only the third film to win all of the “big five” Oscars. The first horror film to win the Best Picture Oscar. The movie which kickstarted Hollywood’s grim fascination with gory and sexually frustrated serial killers and those who hunt them. The movie which energised an ageing veteran’s career and confirmed one of Hollywood’s youngest female actors as one of its greatest stars. One of the most often referenced and quoted movies ever made.

It’s pretty good.

I bet his favourite book is To Serve Man...

I bet his favourite book is To Serve Man...

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