Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Haven't seen all of the Oscar nominees yet? Then,read the book!

If you're like me,a major league Oscar junkie,you're looking at the list of Best Picture contenders and sighing about the fact that you have not seen one of these films so far(and none of them are available on DVD at the moment). What is a movie lover to do about such a predicament,beside running out to the nearest multiplex that is?

Well,if you're unable to catch any of them,or any of the other potential Oscar winners at a theater near you,the next best thing to do is read the books upon many of them were based on. Fortunately,there is plenty to choose from and with the writers' strike still under way,a great way to spend some of your primetime hours in the evening instead of vegging out during Deal or No Deal and L&O reruns.

A good place to start is with OIL!,the Upton Sinclair novel that Paul Thomas Anderson used to create There Will Be Blood which has several Oscar noms under it's belt,including one for Daniel Day-Lewis for his leading man antics as driven oil tycoon Daniel Plainview.

OIL! might seem like something off of a required reading list but some of the topics touched upon in the plot-capitalism,ambition,the role of religion in modern society-are still very much in play today and may even give us a interesting perspective on what we're going thru right now. I intend to tackle this one myself and will let you know what I make of it in a future review.

I have read Atonement,way before the film version was released,and can strongly recommend it to those who haven't yet had the pleasure. It was the first book of Ian McEwan's that I read and it was actually an impulse buy.

I found it at an airport bookstore in England(still prefer the Brit cover art to the rather bleak blackness of the original US paperback edition)and figured "OK,let me see what all the fuss is about!" One of my better unplanned choices,I have to say.

Not everyone can say that they've read the books on which one of the Best Animated Film nominees is based on-odd bragging rights,to be sure. I did read both the first Persepolis and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return separately but now,future readers of this lively graphic memoir will be able to have the entire autobiographical saga in one complete volume.

No Country For Old Men is another big contender in the Oscar race,with Javier Bardem pretty much a shoo-in for the Best Supporting Actor win(bad guys in films usually have a better chance at getting the Best Supporting awards,from what I've seen. Kevin Spacey for The Usual Suspects,Benicio Del Toro for Traffic-the only exception I can think of is Denzel Washington for Training Day).

Haven't read the Cormac McCarthy novel on which the movie comes from,but if it's as chilling as The Road was,the book should be one hell of a read.

One of more surprising Best Supporting Actor nods was given to Casey Affleck for The Assassination of the outlaw Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford. Affleck is the hitman of the title and this stirring adaptation of Ron Hansen's imagings of the final days of a notorious American legend was one of this fall's two Western revival films(the other,3:10 To Yuma,picked up a few technical noms).

Affleck also did well in another movie based on a book that could've gotten him a Best Actor nom as well,for Gone Baby Gone,written by Dennis Lehane who just had his amazing novel Mystic River become a major Oscar player a couple of years ago.

Gone Baby Gone did get Affleck's co-star Amy Ryan a Best Supporting Actress nomination(too bad his brother Ben didn't get another screenplay nomination for his co-adaptation work here or a shot at Best Director). Looks like reading helps the Affleck clan out alot in making good decisions about what films to make. A few other Hollywood starlets out there should follow their lead.

You might also want to read up on a few past Oscar winning films. I suspect that many people will either finally get to,or reread,Anne Proulx's Brokeback Mountain(which was robbed of a Best Picture Oscar)as well as watch the breathtakingly beautiful movie version of her tale of unfulfilled love,now that the sad news about the untimely death of Heath Ledger. It's truly a crying shame that such a brilliant talent should be taken just as his star was on the rise.

Brokeback Mountain is a fine film for any actor to have done and a good way to appreciate his cinematic legacy. Ah,Heath,we hardly knew ye:

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