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“Benjamin Button” Tops Oscar Picks

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Authored by Jon Mercer in Movies and Television 
Published on 01-28-2009

The 81st annual Academy Awards have a lot of good films to choose from this year. So many, in fact, that it is very hard to pick a favorite. There are blockbuster, big budget films, like “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, and there are low budget independent films like “Slumdog Millionaire”. These are two very different films with very different production and casts, but they are both extremely good within their respective genres.

Let’s briefly compare the two films: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is a $150 million film made by Paramount Pictures, and starring Brad Pitt. The story, which is very intriguing, is about a man who ages backwards. The film has gotten thirteen Academy Award nominations, including ones for best picture and best director.

On the other end of the spectrum we have “Slumdog Millionaire.” This picture was made for a relatively paltry $15 million by Fox Searchlight, and features an unknown lead actor. It is also partly subtitled, as the movie features dialogue in both English and Hindi. Despite its shoestring budget, the film has made quite an impression on critics and film lovers alike. It received eleven Academy Award nominations including ones for best picture and best director.

These are the Academy’s two top nominated films and though they are worlds apart, they are equally great films in their own way.

There were also some political films this year: Ron Howard’s “Frost/Nixon” from Universal Pictures, and “Milk” from Focus Features are two political films that caught the academy’s attention. Both films are nominated for best picture. “Milk”, which also received a best actor nomination for Sean Penn, was virtually ignored by the Golden Globes, but received an astounding eight nominations for Academy Awards.

“Milk” is a movie with a strong political leaning, and it’s a bit different from anything out right now. The story is about the struggle for gay rights in California, but the film has other agendas as well, and quickly takes you into territory you may not have been expecting when you purchased your ticket.

The biggest underdog of this year’s Grammies is probably “The Reader,” produced by the Weinstein Company. “The Reader” is a WWII holocaust film about a German woman with a dark secret. The film flew right past big budget blockbusters like “The Dark Knight” for the best picture nominee, and also received nominations for best actress, Kate Winslet, and best direction, Stephen Daldry. “The Reader” also received nominations for best adapted screenplay and best cinematography.

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