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lshap
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:54 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 12 May 2004 Posts: 4246 Location: Montreal
Even though he didn't see it, I think Gary nailed the reason why Avatar was a big puff of zeroes at the Oscars: A 200-million-dollar look with a $25 story. Academy voters may have flocked to see it like the rest of us, but they're apparently capable of distinguishing between a piece of great entertainment and a worthy Best Picture winner.
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inlareviewer
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:26 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 05 Jul 2004 Posts: 1896 Location: Lawrence, KS
At this juncture, it seems clear that the annual orgy of self-congratulative Industry indulgence called Oscar will never entirely be streamlined into submission. Still, overall, this observer found last night's show reasonably entertaining, albeit almost entirely predictable. It was, at least, tolerable in its attempted youth-skew, and largely about as forward-momentum as it will ever get until they start doing it all via closed-circuit Blackberries.

Contrary to much of the web (though not my employer's television critic), quite liked Baldwin and Martin, who struck a note pitched directly between Toastmaster's Roast and Prom Night at the outset, and generally juggled between those tones. Most appreciated the way both hosts kept things relatively moving (operative word being "relatively"). Now, bringing the 8 lead actor nominees on stage at the start was a good idea on paper, yet lent a vague International Kiwanis Conference Honorees air to the show, to which it repeatedly returned. Doogie Howser and Vegas showgirls was certainly an apt enough Industry in-jokey notion (the song itself, not so much, even as it deliberately skewered lame opening numbers it ended up being, why, a lame opening number. Thankfully, it was short).

However, chuckled out loud at Steve and Alec descending from the skies like reverse Grizabella/Old Deuteronomy, or sump'n. If only about half their patter came off, laden with far too many comments not only about Streep and Nazis but a missed opportunity in the Scowling Clooney business (imagine what either Billy Crystal or Whoopi Goldberg might have milked that for all night, in tandem with Bruce Vilanch), the other half at least kept the energy up. Martin's joke about the room being a mother-lode for Jew hunters was simultaneously eye-rolling and, as verified by colleagues covering on site, house-rocking. They generally kept things from getting too reverential, which I certainly enjoy, and the shot of them in the double slanket or snuggie or whatever made me howl through my beer burps.

So, for entirely the wrong reasons, did the street-dancer ballet to the nominated scores, another idea that seemed good on paper perhaps, but might as well have been a presentation at some dance scholarship festival. On the other hand, T Bone apart, couldn't have missed Best Song less, not since unsettling visions of Amy Adams and Kristen Chenowith from two years past still turn up when least expected. Frankly, have always thought it would be better to show us the song as used in the film, but then again, the Once pair or Santaoalla, etc., would not have been heard so memorably in their years, so maybe it needs to be on a year-by-year, case-by-case basis. Because this year's songs, at least as heard out of context, were of variable potential for electrifying performance results --- unless La Belle Marion was to do her striptease on the show, or Li'l Anika Noni and Randy Newman were going to get all Bayou-ey in a production number, or, of course, we got to hear from T Bone (who remains the berries).

The absence of Farrah and Henry Gibson from the In Memoriam section was a regrettable oversight, though Sweet Baby James doing John Lennon was instantly a vast improvement over Queen Latifah's never-ending "I'll Be Seeing You" last year. Conversely, rather did like the animated film star "interviews," and, in theory, the John Hughes tribute (Molly Ringwald skeered me just a little, Judd Nelson a little bit more, but my entire collegiate days came racing back with much throat-lumpage at the clips). Was less responsive to the horror movie montage (which elicited another demi-inaccuracy -- Exorcist the last horror/thriller-type picture to be nominated for major Oscars? Really? That surely came as a shock to the Silence of the Lambs clips in the mix).

Since it's gonna be nearly 4 hours long anyway, it probably would behoove AMPAS to not omit the honorary awards -- I for one would have loved to have heard what Roger Corman or Gordon Willis or Lauren Bacall had to say -- and certainly the Scary Orchestra was in selectively ruthless mode all night. A pet peeve of mine, almost as much as "I'd like to thank" or "I want to thank" instead of just "I thank" or "Thank you to." The show producers and Academy heads of state who make decisions on how many representatives of a multi-produced or engendered award should rethink that, because it's just plain embarrassing when all the ones you permitted get up on stage, only one of them gets to speak. And not just embarrassing for the person cut off by Big Loud Music -- embarrassing to AMPAS factions for not foreseeing that likely occurrence in the first place. Did I miss when they decided officially to eschew "And the Oscar goes to" for "And the winner is"? Don't really care one way or another, but it was a little disorienting, particularly when one or another of the later presenters did it the other way.

Was not entirely convinced that the way they handled the Best Picture montages was the way to go -- nor, indeed, that the much-vaunted expansion of the top prize slate yielded many results substantially different than from what the opened envelopes would have announced had only five pictures been tapped --though I did admire Chris Pine, just for looking like that, and also for having the moxie to introduce District 9. Was, however, grateful for the return of acting clips, at least the supphose categories, where the mini-montages gave a flavor of the performances. Less bowled over by the two lead acting segments. Bringing out close colleagues to hold forth on the nominees undoubtedly read well in the Kodak, and a couple of times paid off affectingly (Gabourey Sidibe in tears, I rest my case), but still veered dangerously close to telethon overkill on the small screen. Would rather have had more mini-montages, instead of a grand collage leading into a swath of encomiums, but that's just me.

Best presenting duo? Tina Fey and Robert Downey, Jr. in a snarky, witty walk. That screenplay presentational mode is the one returning aspect of last year's revisions that still works, and though Ben Stiller still isn't as funny as he thinks he is, the Na'vi drag for make-up was very brave (and it was good of him to acknowledge last year's untenable taking-of-focus from the cinematographers). Worst presenting duo: Oh, too many contenders to count, though Steve Carrell "subbing" for Jude Law with Ms. Diaz was acutely painful.

As for the recipients, well, when Precious taking adapted screenplay over Up in the Air, or The Secret in Their Eyes taking foreign language over White Ribbon or A Prophet, are, literally, the biggest upsets of the night, you just know you're in Business As Usualville. The instant Hurt Locker won for editing, the night's final award was a foregone conclusion, and so it proved. If La Bigelow seemed more nervous than she ought to have been, I very much liked what she actually said, twice, in fact, as I did screenwriter Boal (I don't know what Mrs. James Brolin would have said had a womyn NOT won the Racso, and am sure glad I didn't have to find out). Moreover, I started to cry at Up composer Michael Giacchino's heartfelt call to young people not to give up on their dreams, which was, with two exceptions (coming up shortly), my favorite speech of the night. Was a tad annoyed by the Cove co-prod holding up the text message placard after Fisher stopped Stevensing (because, unless one had seen the film, it wouldn't have a whole lot of meaning without an explanation), but it certainly set up them to hold forth on politics in the press room, which is exactly what they did.

To get back to those two exceptions, let me finally paraphrase Frank Morgan to Spencer Tracy the year of Boy's Town: I didn't see Blind Side, Sandra, but you certainly deserved an award for that acceptance, both funny and sincere, spontaneous, emotional and, SASSY partisanship inclusive, genuinely appreciative of the fellow nominees. Plus, that was hands-down one of the night's best gowns, sheer old-school elegance. Loved it. Similarly, dug Lloyd's Youngest rambling on about his family and career, because he didn't forget his Crazy Heart director or costars, nor, indeed, Any One Else He's Ever Worked With At Any Time In His Life. Easily wins this year's Greer Garson Exhaustive Comprehension Award. Good on him for taking his opportunity with such Jeffly bonhomie. Again, loved it.

Remembering to thank who most needed thanking didn't apply to either Precious recipient,(though screenwriter Fletcher was understandable in forgetting his director due to genuine surprise and overwhelm-ment, and The Oprah certainly made up for Lee Daniels omits later on). Am not quite sure what kind of a statement Mo'Nique intended to make though she obviously knew what she meant; her much-dissed Globules speech was toweringingly meaningful by comparison, and last night's Hattie McD. shoutout/fashion homage wear felt a shade more calculated than it didn't. Bemusing, to put it mildly. Herr Waltz, expectedly, could not have been more literate. Am a tad perplexed by the criticism his prepared acceptance is getting in Tinseltown today, because if ever a nominee whose name wasn't Jeff knew they were going to win, t'was he. If hardly as spontaneous-feeling in his prepared response as La Belle PenÚlope was in 2009 in the same slot, he gave compelling metaphor-speak.

The same could not be said for short documentary feature co-producer Elinor Burkett, whose interruption of colleague Roger Ross Williams' acceptance at first seemed a planned joke, and quickly descended into something akin to mental imbalance. And while Sandy Powell has no bigger fan of her work than I, and though I'm sure she meant to be really sincere with her This Is For The Little Costume Peeps remarks, I don't really need to see her again, at least not for a while. Been there, done that, and where the hell is the ever-overlooked Ann Roth?

And costumes brings us to the other great gowns, besides Sandra's -- La Belle PenÚlope's blood-red duchess satin oomph; Vera Dearest's Marchesa explosion of raspberry and rufflage; Gabby Sidibe's oh-so-blue expanse with the silver leafey things; Maggie Dearest's two-toned simplicity; Rachel McAdams' impressively endless silk chiffon Ellie Saab gown (not so crazy about the blue-and-grey pattern, which vaguely suggested the curtains at the Beverly Wilshire courtesy room); Diane Kruger's black-and-ivory Chanel with the ratty-edged camellias or whatever (which I initially didn't care for and then decided I did after all); J-Lo's pinkish, plushish, ultra-trained mermaid frock; Amanda Seyfried's immense ball gown (kept expecting her to leave a glass slipper on the stairs or sump'n); Sigornia's garnet-hued off-the-shoulder drape, vaulted time with decades to spare; and Mrs. Sam Mendes's Look Folks, I'm An Oscar! gilded form-fit. Also dug how Dame Helen combined style (ice-blue with beading) and comfort (not an oversized or overly ornate dress); and how Mrs. Gummer, sensibly knowing it was not her night, endearingly elected to leave her gown at home and just wear the ivory wraparound overcoat (and looked gorgeous doing so); and all the Precious wommyn wearing blue for Sapphire. However, what Tharlize Cheron was thinking with the hallucinogenic giant conical/sphericals coming from her chestral area, I'm sure I don't know; admired the concept of La Belle Carey and Zoe Saldana's hiked-front-hem/major train-age dresses more than the effect; and whomever told Mrs. Matthew Broderick that a loud gold windsock and enormous crushed-cruller hair with Cleopatra eyes was a striking Oscar look did her an enormous disservice. On the distaff side, loved Colin Firth in Tom Ford, also, Tom Ford in Tom Ford; Downey Jr.'s teal bow tie (it coordinated with his wife's gown), Mr. Bridges in whatever he was wearing; Jake, Jake, Be Still My Beating Gyllenheart, ditto; The Clooney (as ever), and Christopher Plummer, just because. As for hair, well, found Sandra's slicked-down locks the most idiomatic, Mrs. Mendes's Veronica Lake tumble the most traditional, Rachel's and Vera's upsweeps the classiest, Mrs. Gummer's forelock the kickiest and Gabby's deceptively casual megahair the most directly effective tonsorial efforts.

Ultimately, not a horrible show, nor a debacle -- though couldn't help but note Maestro Cameron got increasingly dour as the evening went on, and grew increasingly weary of the sad-eyed Jason Reitman/tight-jawed Tarentino shots -- that's just tacky on the part of the show's director, seems to me. Still, it didn't make me seek out the remote, even during commercials, all the way unto Mr. Rita Wilson foregoing naming the nominees for the final award (am told he'd been told to do so backstage). That phenom is in itself some sort of achievement, coming as it does from one who TiVoed this annual Entertainment Super Bowl out of lingering post-Crash pique for three years. Even so, when all is said and done, it didn't suck .... but I vastly preferred the Blanche ceremony. Which, come to think of it, is also Business As Usualville, and thank heavens for that. inla out.

Edited for SASSY clarification, Bridges correctionals and unaccountably omitted decalogal-nominations observation


Last edited by inlareviewer on Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:43 am; edited 9 times in total

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Joe Vitus
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:34 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 14498 Location: Houston
Inlare,

Not sure if you know the answer to this, but considering the behemoth Oscar has become, and the fact that almost no one outside the categories nominated care about them, why is the evening show not reduced to Picture/Director/Leading/Supporting and maybe Cinematography/Editing/Music? The rest moved to afternoons like so many of the other technical awards? Has this been seriously suggested and shot down?

(and thanks for the Judy answser, by the way)

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Befade
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:36 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 3637 Location: AZ
Inla......were you surprised at the lack of nods for Avatar?

(and disappointed in the absence of nods for A Single Man.......I was)

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Befade
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:39 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 3637 Location: AZ
Quote:
unique is unique


And Mo'Nique is Mo'Nique.

But of course NOT VERY Mo'Nique.

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Joe Vitus
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:49 pm Reply with quote
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I do not have exactly the same problem with "very unique." In theory the argument is right, but "unique" is so devalued at this point as an adjective (and it's not a development we can control) that "very unique" conveys its meaning to me. As far as I'm concerned, meaning is the gold-standard of English, with popular usage nose-to-nose in terms of greater importance.

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lshap
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:50 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 12 May 2004 Posts: 4246 Location: Montreal
Inla - Thanks for being you.
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inlareviewer
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:51 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 05 Jul 2004 Posts: 1896 Location: Lawrence, KS
Joe Vitus wrote:
Inlare,

Not sure if you know the answer to this, but considering the behemoth Oscar has become, and the fact that almost no one outside the categories nominated care about them, why is the evening show not reduced to Picture/Director/Leading/Supporting and maybe Cinematography/Editing/Music? The rest moved to afternoons like so many of the other technical awards? Has this been seriously suggested and shot down?

(and thanks for the Judy answser, by the way)
Because year in and year out, the board of governors puts the nix on wholescale slimming of the show, and yes, it has been seriously suggested and shot down (am still not sure how they managed to get rid of the honorary awards this year), and you're welcome.

Befade wrote:
Inla......were you surprised at the lack of nods for Avatar?

(and disappointed in the absence of nods for A Single Man.......I was)
Am ultimately not surprised by the lack of Avatar wins -- hint: The Actor's Branch is ambivalent, at best, about motion-capture acting and CGI replacing eventually making them irrelevant, and guess who is the single biggest voting bloc? Not to mention that, with all due respect, it was the film's visual scope and technology we'd never seen before, not the essential content of script or performances, and that, coupled with the necessitiy of seeing it in 3D --a plurality of AMPAS voters actually sitting in a theeyaytur with special glasses to judge a film? REALLY? I don't think so -- is what undid it in most categories. Not that it didn't arguably deserve more honors, just that it finally didn't shock me when it didn't receive them. Was more surprised by some of the possible Inglourious Basterds wins that didn't happen, and, of course, by the Up in the Air shut-out for adapted screenplay (literally the evening's biggest upset).

Of course I was disappointed by the absence of Single Man nods, made my peace with that long before last night -- screenplay, art direction and La Belle Julianne should have made the cut, not to mention cinematography -- as I did with the inevitability of Sandra Gets A Lifetime Achievement Award over more than one more astonishing performance, and she acknowledged that with such grace I couldn't help but love her. Meryl certainly did, oh, how she laughed. SASSY is an equal-opportunity beneficent order, after all.

lshap wrote:
Inla - Thanks for being you.

lshap, oh, my goodness, what a nice thing to say, backatcha. Wouldn't know what else to be, though sometimes I wonder, I do, I doooooo.


Last edited by inlareviewer on Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:54 am; edited 1 time in total

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lshap
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:09 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 12 May 2004 Posts: 4246 Location: Montreal
Joe Vitus wrote:
Inlare,

Not sure if you know the answer to this, but considering the behemoth Oscar has become, and the fact that almost no one outside the categories nominated care about them, why is the evening show not reduced to Picture/Director/Leading/Supporting and maybe Cinematography/Editing/Music? The rest moved to afternoons like so many of the other technical awards? Has this been seriously suggested and shot down?

(and thanks for the Judy answser, by the way)


Joe - Interesting subject for a round-table discussion. It probably has as much to do with decades of inertia, combined with the desire to represent the whole industry of cinema, and not just the fan mag celebrities. I'd guess if you eliminate the mole people from The Oscars - the no-names who make the documentaries, write the screenplays, create the sets and shoot the films - then it's an admission that The Academy is a tabloid, and its highest award no better than The People's Choice Award.

Also, who'd dress up for a 45-minute show?
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ehle64
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:17 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 7149 Location: NYC; US&A
from what I gathered today, Mo'Nique's "performance over politics" remark was about her option to not campaign for the Oscar. The Hattie McDaniel nod, while seemingly Halle Berry-ish, was due to the fact that someone from the McDaniel family sent her a Gardenia and a note the morning of the Oscars.

I really didn't like Vera's gown, er, uhm, Farmiga's not Wang's.

Great wrap-up as usual, luv. Ciao, inla!

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inlareviewer
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:31 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 05 Jul 2004 Posts: 1896 Location: Lawrence, KS
lshap wrote:


Joe - Interesting subject for a round-table discussion. It probably has as much to do with decades of inertia, combined with the desire to represent the whole industry of cinema, and not just the fan mag celebrities. I'd guess if you eliminate the mole people from The Oscars - the no-names who make the documentaries, write the screenplays, create the sets and shoot the films - then it's an admission that The Academy is a tabloid, and its highest award no better than The People's Choice Award.

Also, who'd dress up for a 45-minute show?


And then, there's that.

ehle64 wrote:
from what I gathered today, Mo'Nique's "performance over politics" remark was about her option to not campaign for the Oscar. The Hattie McDaniel nod, while seemingly Halle Berry-ish, was due to the fact that someone from the McDaniel family sent her a Gardenia and a note the morning of the Oscars.

I really didn't like Vera's gown, er, uhm, Farmiga's not Wang's.

Great wrap-up as usual, luv. Ciao, inla!
You're too kind. Heard about the McDaniel family gift on the Red Carpet, in which case, it might have been touching had she acknowledged THAT in her cryptic speech. As for the performance-vs-politics remark, here's the thing: If I were the Mortal Lock front-runner for an award, prevailing over all kinds of suggestions that I was a diva about appearing without being paid, and had a reputation for not taking the whole campaign thing seriously -- not that this is a bad thing in itself -- upon winning I suppose I might make a barely veiled jab at the various gossips and nags that had followed me all season -- but then again, I might elect to take the opportunity to score points about the need to expose parental abuse, for overcoming preconceived notions, for saluting the author of the novel, to say nothing of the director and my cast-mates? I dunno, it just seemed a descent into self-gratification at exactly the point where genuine gratitude and clear intent would have served me, the moment, the film and my real feelings far better. It caught me entirely off-guard, though, on the other hand, what the heck? Her award, her speech, that's the way it falls.

I can understand not liking Vera's gown, but it nontheless and somewhat unexpectedly quite sent me. It takes some major chutzpah to bring off aerodynamic fuschia with that much aplomb, tee-hee. And her hair was wonderful. She should do a period picture or sump'n.

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lshap
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:47 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 12 May 2004 Posts: 4246 Location: Montreal
My overall impression of 2009's films? I kinda agree with Jeremy that 2009 produced a nice-looking quilt of really good films, but nothing great. My quality meter never peaked beyond 'Really Good'.

The Hurt Locker is a 'really good' film, but I wonder what kind of staying power it'll have over the years. Having a lead character who is an emotionally-repressed war addict is a cool angle well-executed, but his distance from everyone in his life makes it harder to empathize with him, harder to remember him and harder to care about him. Intellectually, I loved the character's journey; emotionally, I feel neutral about him. And classic films are built on emotional connections.

Yeah, The Hurt Locker was probably the year's Best Picture, but that's only because the bar was set lower.

District 9 was also 'really good', maybe even 'really really good', but it got shoved aside by the relentless hyping of Hollywood's product. Still, I wonder if its razor sharp originality might give it a longer shelf life - literally - than The Hurt Locker.

Avatar will survive as a rental, but there's no inherent greatness beyond the effects.

Precious is a fine film with great performances, but a lot of its fuss was generated by its cache as the year's underdog, which is a real-life backstory you can't see onscreen. That cache started evaporating the moment the award for Best Actress went to Sandra Bullock.

2009 goes into the books as a good year for film, but it leaves us without the legacy of a memorable catchphrase or an iconic scene to remember it by.
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ehle64
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:44 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 7149 Location: NYC; US&A
inla -- all very good points and all worth taking into consideration.

methinks Vera F's gown was a bit reminiscent of an Avatar creation (plant/animal/???) -- hehehe

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jeremy
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:49 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 6794 Location: Derby, England and Hamilton, New Zealand (yes they are about 12,000 miles apart)
Quote:
...

2009 goes into the books as a good year for film, but it leaves us without the legacy of a memorable catchphrase or an iconic scene to remember it by.


There's a challenge.

Maybe if so-sure-of-himself Cameron had let a Stoppard or anyone with an ear for a well-turned phrase have a look at his script, Avatar could have risen a level.

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inlareviewer
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:50 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 05 Jul 2004 Posts: 1896 Location: Lawrence, KS
Well, let's see.

"That's a bingo!"
or
"I type with purpose."
or
"But it's a talking dog!"
or
"Happiness is not always the best way to be happy."
or
"If you never do anything, you never become anyone."
or
the final exchange of (500) Days of Summer
or(you really didn't think I'd omit it)
Julia Child's rapturous "Mrs. JOY?!?" upon meeting the celebrated cookbook scribe.

Images?

Jeremy Renner pulling on the wire and finding himself in the center of a bomb cluster
or
The downward tracking shot revealing Shosanna and family hiding under the floor in the first chapter of Inglourious Basterds
or
The shot of Julia Child laying down in their apartment and her feet stick out over the end of the bed
or
The balloon-borne house appearing above the urban sprawl in Up
or
the teacher's face in White Ribbon in reaction to the puritanical pastor taking umbrage with the inference we have all but arrived at concerning his offspring
or
Mary's searing face staring down at Precious over the bannister after the television drop
or
Single Man Colin Firth laying down in the snow next to his glassy-eyed dead lover
or
Woody Harrelson's helpless dissolve into bitter tears at the climax of The Messenger
or
George Clooney staring a goat into dropping dead (to be fair, the goat stole the shot)
or
Max eating opposite his yawning mom at the resolution of Where the Wild Things Are.

Speaking only for me, those linger still in memory, and there are others.


Last edited by inlareviewer on Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:52 pm; edited 2 times in total

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