As I sat in a Toronto hotel room and watched those first images of 9/11 playing over and over again, there was an eerie mixture of fact and fiction. Television showed panic in the streets, as people ran screaming toward the cameras. Behind them, the unthinkable: the vast towers crumbling in fire and smoke, and clouds of debris filling the canyons of the streets.
"35 Shots of Rum". Two couples live across the hall in the same Paris apartment building. Neither couple is "together." Gabrielle and Noe have the vibes of roommates, but the way Lionel and Josephine love one another, it's a small shock when she calls him "papa." Lionel (Alex Descas) is a train engineer. Jo (Mati Diop) works in a music store. Gabrielle (Nicole Dogue) drives her own taxi. Noe (Gregoire Colin) claims only his much-loved cat is preventing him from moving to Brazil.
Fifty years ago, the Palme d'Or winner at Cannes was Fellini's "La Dolce Vita." More every year I realize that it was the film of my lifetime. But indulge me while I list some more titles.
The other entries in the official competition included "Ballad of a Soldier," by Grigori Chukhrai; "Lady with a Dog," by Iosif Kheifits; "Home from the Hill," by Vincente Minnelli; "The Virgin Spring," by Ingmar Bergman;" "Kagi," by Kon Ichikawa; "L'Avventura," by Michelangelo Antonioni; "Le Trou," by Jacques Becker; "Never on Sunday," by Jules Dassin; "Sons and Lovers," by Jack Cardiff; "The Savage Innocents," by Nicholas Ray, and "The Young One," by Luis Bunuel.
And many more. But I am not here at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival to mourn the present and praise the past.
Q. In your review of "The Simpsons Movie," you mention that it is already voted as the 166th best film of all time on the Internet Movie Database and ask, "Do you suppose somehow the ballot box got stuffed by 'Simpsons' fans who didn't even need to see the movie to know it was a masterpiece? D'oh!" Likewise, readers of your own Web site on the morning of the film's release already gave it a four-star rating. Don't you think these are merely fans of the movie showing their contempt for you and all other reviewers, and in fact for any but their own opinions?
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Roger Ebert is pretty darned good when it comes to predicting the Oscar winners. (I, on the other hand, have never, ever won an Oscar pool. I'm terrible at it.) This year, he also agrees with most of the choices he thinks the Academy is going to make. So, what do you think? Visit RogerEbert.com, vote for your personal favorites, and enter the Outguess Ebert contest to predict the winners. You won't win an Oscar, but you could win one of seven trips to Mexico, or a copy of Ebert's "Movie Yearbook 2007." (Unless you live in Florida, where you are disenfranchised from participating in the contest because of your own laws. Maybe it's Katherine Harris's fault, I don't know.)
An excerpt from Ebert's Best Picture prognostication: Martin Scorsese has made better films than "The Departed," but then he has never made a bad film. The prospect of a great young director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, winning his first Oscar is matched by the possibility that Scorsese will win a much-delayed one. With the loss of Robert Altman, is any active director more senior and better than Clint Eastwood? And what a pure, stark war movie he has made in "Letters From Iwo Jima." His conception is so original -- two movies (the other is "Flags of Our Fathers"), one in English, one in Japanese. Both considering the same battle, both detached, low-key, lacking in action cliches.
No movie is harder to make, in a technical sense, than a comedy. But what a priceless one Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have made in "Little Miss Sunshine." It has this combination of the transgressive and the risk-taking of this particular American genre, with Alan Arkin leading the parade as a vulgar but family-loving grandpa.
And what an achievement from Stephen Frears in "The Queen," where Helen Mirren bares everything in an original closeup that asserts she "is" the Queen, not an imitator, but an embodiment.
And yet Oscar voters often prefer serious, big-themed subjects of the kind seen in "Babel," a powerful group of international stories in which the secret human connections only gradually unfold. But the big upset could be "Little Miss Sunshine" because it touched something deep in the American psyche, and had people identifying with this odd family who pulls together when it matters the most.
Prediction: "Babel"Preference: "Babel"
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.
CANNES, France –- All rumors about the prizes at Cannes are essentially worthless. Why don’t I know this? I could make up my own and do just about as well. It is apparently true that Sam Jackson told somebody there were going to be “big surprises” when the awards were announced, and there were; never before has a jury honored the casts of two films with ensemble acting awards, and certainly no one predicted that Ken Loach’s “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” would win the Palme d’Or. When it did, there was much agreement, and, yes, much surprise.
CANNES, France – It probably won’t happen this way, but wouldn’t everyone be pleased if Gerard Depardieu won the best actor award at Cannes this year. The festival’s awards are given out Sunday night (12:30 p.m. CDT), and Depardieu received a tumultuous ovation Friday as the star of “Quand j’etais Chanteur,” or “The Singer.” Depardieu’s character reminded many audience members of the actor himself: A beefy middle-aged artist still slugging away at a job he loves, smoking too much, adamantly on the wagon, given new hope by his feelings for a much younger woman (Cecile De France). “I’ve been written off a lot of times,” he tells her, “but I always bounce back.”
CANNES, France – Like any good bookie, Derek Malcolm carries his odds in his head. He revises them after every screening of a film in the official competition. Wednesday morning, the odds got a little longer for Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette,” which is tipped as a front-runner for the Palme d’Or.