The most surprising thing about "The Martian" is how relaxed and funny it is.
A splendid time was guaranteed for all as Roger Ebert emerged at last from months of recuperation and into the public spotlight for Ebertfest 2007. Ebert is still recovering from surgical complications that beset him last summer, but his infectious energy and enthusiasm remain undiminished. Meanwhile, the audience greeted Ebert's film choices with relish, but reserved their greatest affection for the man himself. Here's a look at the ins and outs of the 9th Annual Roger Ebert Overlooked Film Festival -- onstage and behind the scenes....
April 25 - 29
The cops-and-mobsters thriller "The Departed," which director Martin Scorsese described as the first movie he's ever done with a plot, took the jackpot prize at the Academy Awards last night. For Scorsese, this was supposed to be a genre picture, not Oscar-bait like "The Aviator" and "Gangs of New York," but it turns out that, even at the Oscars, sometimes you can come out ahead when you don't look like you're trying so hard.
Complete list of winners at the 79th annual Academy Awards, presented Sunday night at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.
Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, who's still recovering from surgery, is watching the Oscars from home this year — for the first time in decades. But of course, he's still there in spirit on the red carpet. In the meantime, some observations:
In a year when the Academy Award nominations are more diverse and international than ever before, it's anyone's guess who will win best picture. "Dreamgirls" garnered more nominations than any other movie, but was passed over for both picture and director.
Oscar is growing more diverse and international by the year. This year's Academy Award nominations, announced Tuesday, contain a few titles that most moviegoers haven't seen and some they haven't heard of. That's perhaps an indication that the Academy voters, who once went mostly for big names, are doing their homework and seeing the pictures.
Last summer, according to most industry prognosticators, this whole Oscar race thing was supposed to be all over already. Before its release, Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers" was widely expected to be greeted with flowers and statuettes. The combination of Eastwood and Paul Haggis (screenwriter of the last two Best Picture winners, Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" and Haggis's "Crash") made the Red Carpet look like a cakewalk. "Letters from Iwo Jima" wasn't even on the release schedule for 2006, so as not to interfere with "Flags"' Oscar chances. Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," on the other hand, was cheered as a "return to his (generic) roots, " a straight-up commercial cops-and-crooks movie to follow up his prestige-picture Oscar bids, "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator," but not something seriously For Your Consideration.
The peppy musical "Dreamgirls" led Academy Awards contenders Tuesday with eight nominations, but surprisingly was shut out in the best picture category for which it had been considered a potential front-runner. The sweeping ensemble drama "Babel" was close behind with seven, including best picture and acting honors for two newcomers to U.S. audiences, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi.
The complete list of the 79th Annual Academy Award nominations were announced Tuesday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, Calif.