UPDATE -- MORE NEW FAVORITE FILMS OF 2007...SO FAR!!!! 


I've been busy watching movies after movies after movies! It's cramming session time, and I need to watch as much awards-worthy flick before the year ends, so I'm informed when making my Oscar predictions, or choosing the Critics Choice awards (NOMINATIONS WILL GO OUT DEC. 11TH).

For a complete list of my favorite films of 2007 so far, click here.

Last week, I watched two wonderful films that truly inspired me, and one of them made me cry buckets!

Here are two new additions to my list:

"THE KITE RUNNER" -- A reader named Lindsey sent me this last week:

"Where's The Kite Runner on your list? This screenplay adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's best-selling novel is definitely worthy of Oscar buzz."

I stand corrected Miss Lindsey, I did enjoy "The Kite Runner." There were times I felt the film was rushed, and there's a little melodramatic twist towards the end, BUT NO MATTER -- "The Kite Runner" is blessed with having two great child actors (AHMAD KHAN MAHMIDZADA AND ZEKERIA EBRAHIMI), and the back story of Hassan will really break your heart! I also enjoyed the kite scenes (the swooping cinematography by Roberto Schaeffer), and after watching the flick, I read the last few pages of the book (written by Khaled Hossein) aloud, and it tore my heart away.

"LARS AND THE REAL GIRL" -- The premise is off-putting -- A man buys a sex doll for companion. But get past that, and you will see Ryan Gosling's brilliant performance as a guy, who momentarily suffers delusion, and sees a sex doll as a romantic companion. I also love how a small, tight-knit, religious community gathers together in support of Lars. This is the kind of religious folks I'd hang out with!

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"BLOOD" SPILLS AT THE LOS ANGELES FILM CRITICS 


The Los Angeles Film Critics pick "There Will Be Blood" for Best Picture of the year. The runner up was "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly."

This is shaping up to be a very interesting awards season. There's not one clear front-runner, and each award-giving body is giving love to different movies.

The Gotham Awards honored "Into the Wild," while the National Board of Review gave "No Country for Old Men" its best film award. The Bob Dylan inspired flick, "I'm Not There" dominated the Independent Spirit Film Awards.

Let's take a look at the rest of the winners from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA).

Other award winners are:

DIRECTOR: Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"

Runner-up: Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

(I AGREE...BUT WHERE'S COEN BROTHERS AND "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN"?)

ACTRESS: Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en Rose"

Runner-up: Anamaria Marinca, “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”

(GREAT, GREAT CHOICE!!!)

ACTOR: Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”

Runner-up: Frank Langella, “Starting Out in the Evening”

(VERY INTERESTING CHOICE!!!)


SCREENPLAY: "The Savages" by Tamara Jenkins

Runner-up: “There Will Be Blood” by Paul Thomas Anderson

(YES! MISS TAMARA'S SCREENPLAY IS WITTY AND HEART-BREAKING AT THE SAME TIME)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone" and “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”

Runner-up: Cate Blanchett, "I’m Not There"

(YUP, I PICKED MISS AMY TOO!)


SUPPORTING ACTOR: Vlad Ivanov, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days"

Runner-up: Hal Holbrook, “Into the Wild"

(SEE...WHERE'S MY JAVIER BARDEM?)


FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" directed by Cristian Mungiu

Runner-up: "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" directed by Julian Schnabel

(LET'S SEE, IF THE DIVING BELL IS A RUNNER UP FOR BEST PICTURE, SHOULDN'T IT BE A FRONT RUNNER FOR ITS CATEGORY? I LOVE "4 MONTHS THOUGH)

DOCUMENTARY/NON-FICTION FILM: "No End in Sight" directed by Charles Ferguson

Runner-up: "Sicko“ directed by Michael Moore

(NOW, THIS IS A SUPER GREAT CHOICE!)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jack Fisk, "There Will Be Blood"

Runner-up: Dante Ferretti, "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

(AGREE!)

ANIMATION: (tie) “Ratatouille" (Brad Bird) and “Persepolis” (Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi)

(YES!)

MUSIC: Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, “Once"

Runner-up: Jonny Greenwood, "There Will Be Blood”

(YES AGAIN!)


CINEMATOGRAPHY: Janusz Kaminski, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

Runner-up: Robert Elswit, “There Will Be Blood"

(WOW...ALTHOUGH, DON'T FORGET "THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES" AND "SWEENEY TODD" WERE BOTH SPLENDIDLY SHOT AS WELL!!!)

NEW GENERATION: Sarah Polley, “Away From Her”

(MISS SARAH'S VERY IMPRESSIVE DIRECTING DEBUT!!!)


CAREER ACHIEVEMENT: Sidney Lumet (previously announced)

(CONGRATULATIONS MISTER SIDNEY)

INDEPENDENT/EXPERIMENTAL: “Colossal Youth” directed by Pedro Costa

(GO FOR IT MISTER PEDRO!!!)


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"THE GOLDEN COMPASS" POINTS TOWARDS SO-SO BOX-OFFICE WEEKEND 


Many box-office analysts are calling "The Golden Compass'" $26M take disappointing. With the film's reported $180M budget, it's going to take a long, long time before it can recoup its money.

So, should we not expect to see the last two sequels of this book-to-film adaptation?

Meanwhile, "Juno" and "Atonement" receive healthy box-office takes. "Juno" averages $60,016 per cinema in just seven theaters (total $420,113), and "Atonement" opens at $25,528 per showing in 32 theaters (total $816,883).

Here's the complete list of the top 10 box-office films for week of Dec. 7th.

1. "The Golden Compass," $26 million, DOMESTIC TOTAL: $26M

2. "Enchanted," $10.7 million, DOMESTIC TOTAL: $83.8 million.

3. "This Christmas," $5 million, DOMESTIC TOTAL: $42.7 million.

4. "Fred Claus," $4.6 million, DOMESTIC TOTAL: $65.5 million.

5. "Beowulf," $4.4 million, DOMESTIC TOTAL: $76 million.

6. "No Country for Old Men," $4.2 million, DOMESTIC TOTAL: $28.8 million.

7. "August Rush," $3.5 million, DOMESTIC TOTAL: $25 million.


8. "Hitman," $3.4 million, DOMESTIC TOTAL: $35.8 million.


9. "Awake," $3.3 million, DOMESTIC TOTAL: $10.7 million.

10. "Bee Movie," $2.6 million, DOMESTIC TOTAL: $121 million.


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MANNY MANIA -- THE BEST OF THE BEST 2007 -- SPOTLIGHT ON YOUNG TALENT 


Here it is, my first ever Manny Mania!!!

In this awards-giving season, let's take a look back at the best of the best of 2007.

Let's shine the spotlight on BEST YOUNG TALENT, ACTORS AND ACTRESSES UNDER 21!!!

Here they are, in order of importance!

BEST YOUNG ACTRESS (UNDER 21)


ELLEN PAIGE -- "JUNO" -- Not only is "Juno" one of the smartest films of the year, it also boasts a great script, and a great ensemble, headed by the 20-year old Miss Page! She was exhilarating in "Hard Candy" but she's finally getting her dues in "Juno." I won't be surprised if she gets nominated for Best Actress Oscar.

SAOIRSE RONAN -- "ATONEMENT" -- Great name but hard to spell (SAOIRSE PRONOUNCED SEER-SHA), Miss Saoirse is the focal point of "Atonement." Playing a young, creative thinker, Ronan seems to pull the camera with her, as she walks briskly around the palatial compound in the opening scene of "Atonement." Without her, the film would have had a hard time connecting all the necessary dots. As a result, "Atonement" is one of the best films of 2007.

NIKKI BLONSKY “HAIRSPRAY” – Miss Nikki surprised the heck out of us in “Hairspray.” This newcomer was one of the thousands of people who auditioned for the part of Tracy Turnblad. The former Cold Stone Creamery worker is now melting everyone’s hearts. And she can sing out loud too!

ANNASOPHIA ROBB "BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA" – Released early this year, it’s easy to overlook this children’s classic gem. I love the book and the author ( watch my review ), and Miss Annasophia made me cry!

DAKOTA BLUE RICHARDS “THE GOLDEN COMPASS” – Miss Dakota is faced with a daunting task to inject heart to an otherwise cold film ( watch my review ). But she succeeded, and she’s the main reason to watch this controversial movie.

BEST YOUNG ACTOR (UNDER 21)


MICHAEL CERA “JUNO” – Cera was great in “Superbad” and he showed his range in “Juno.” There’s one key scene in the movie, where Ellen Page breaks his heart, and Cera showed great acting without going overboard!

ED SANDERS “SWEENEY TODD” – Sanders is one of the best elements in this musical! He spars with Johnny Depp in key scenes, and he has a great, character-redeeming plot point in the end. Great melancholy voice too!

AHMAD KHAN MAHMIDZADA AND ZEKERIA EBRAHIMI – “THE KITE RUNNER” – The film is faced with controversy because of the rape scenes in the movie. Apparently, Afghanistans frown upon rape and they denigrate the victims (this is sad, sad, sad), and in the movie, there’s a rape scene involving boys, so Paramount moved the opening date of the film, and tried to relocate the boys to a friendlier country (will United States work?). Still, both young leads showed tour-de-force performance, in a good film by Marc Forster (“Finding Neverland,” “Monster’s Ball”). Based on the best-selling novel by Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini.

JOSH HUTCHERSON “BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA” – Like his co-star Annasophia Robb, Hutcherson shines in this Disney feature. His acting anchors the realism element of this fantasy tale. Watch my review and interviews with the cast and the author , Katherine Paterson (I asked her to autograph the book for me saying “never forget to imagine Manny”).

THE MOST CONSISTENT YOUNG TALENT AWARD GOES TO:


KRISTEN STEWART – She shines even in so-so flicks (“The Messengers”), in overcrowded movies (“In the Land of Women”), and in really great films (“Into the Wild”). She’s a rising star to look out for bearing a treasure chest of acting talent!

SPECIAL MENTION – THE “KNOCKED UP” KIDS


Who doesn’t remember, or pay attention to the lovable, adorable kids in “ Knocked Up ”? Besides the funny script, and comedic talents of the cast, the kids shine, playing the children of Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (incidentally, the kids are Iris and Maude Apatow , children of “Knocked Up” creator and comedic genius, Judd Apatow and…Miss Leslie Mann).

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THE CONTROVERSIAL "THE GOLDEN COMPASS" -- WATCH MY REVIEW!!! 


"The Golden Compass" navigates to theaters near you. But is it a good movie? Let me point you to the right direction!

And no, the film doesn't denigrate Christianity. It teaches kids to be thinkers! Is that wrong?



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