"Milk," "Benjamin Button" Lead Nominations for the 14th Annual Critics Choice Awards 

Yay! "Milk" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," two of my favorite films this year lead the pack with eight nominations for the 14th Annual Critics Choice Awards!

Yours truly is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, which is the award-giving body of the Critics Choice. Yes, I was busy Sunday writing down my nominations. Sunday was our deadline.

Here's the rest of the press release...I'm so excited!

Milk received nominations for Best Picture, a Best Actor nod for Sean Penn, two Best Supporting Actor nominations for James Franco and Josh Brolin, Best Director for Gus Van Sant, Best Writer for Dustin Lance Black, and Best Composer for Danny Elfman.

The eight nominations for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button are for Best Picture, a Best Actor nomination for Brad Pitt, Best Actress for Cate Blanchett, Best Supporting Actress for Taraji P. Henson, Best Acting Ensemble, Best Director for David Fincher, Best Writer for Eric Roth, and Best Composer for Alexandre Desplat.

The Dark Knight, Doubt and Slumdog Millionaire all tied with six nominations, each including a Best Picture nod. Clint Eastwood received a Best Actor nomination for Gran Torino and a Best Composer
nomination for Changeling, which added two nominations for Best Picture and Best Actress (Angelina Jolie).

The BFCA, the largest film critics’ organization with more than 200 members in the United States and Canada, representing television, radio and online critics, selected nominees in each of the 17 categories. The Critics’ Choice Awards were created by the BFCA to recognize excellence in cinematic achievement. Eligible films were
released in 2008. The accounting firm of Gregory A. Mogab tallied the written ballots.

Historically, the Critics’ Choice Awards are the most accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations.

SET YOUR TIVO NOW! The winners will be announced at the Critics’ Choice Awards gala on Thursday, January 8, 2009 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. VH1 will again broadcast this year’s ceremony Live at 9:00 PM (ET/PT).


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DVD Kisses: The Latest DVD Release for Tuesday, 12/09/08 

"The Dark Knight" -- Run and grab your DVD or Blu-Ray copy of this Christopher Nolan film! One of the year's best!

"Horton Hears a Who" -- Another great animated film. The simple message still rings true -- a person's a person no matter how small.

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" -- Before you watch Keanu as Klaatu, watch the original film that's making its foray to Blu-Ray for the very first time.

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Catherine Hardwicke Says Goodbye to "Twilight" Franchise! 

OMG X 10! Director Catherine Hardwicke better get use to helming cardboard cutups of his "Twilight" leads like the one shown above because she's no longer attached to the franchise!

After being crowned the first female director to have a film open huge at the box-office ($70.6 million opening), Hardwicke said goodbye to Summit Entertainment and the franchise!

Here's what happened in bulleted form:

*** Both Summit and Hardwicke revealed that the production company's plans to rush the second installment, "New Moon," as one of the reasons for the split.

*** Hardwicke, apparently stinging from all the negative criticisms from critics, yes, including me, wanted more time to work on the script by Melissa Rosenberg.

*** Hardwicke formally passed on the project Saturday.

*** Summit is supposed to be looking for a new director WHILE waiting for Hardwicke's answer.

*** According to Variety, Summit and Hardwicke couldn't agree on how to handle the second book. Why? It's more about giant werewolves than vampires, PLUS, Edward (Robert Pattinson) is pretty much not in the story the whole time because he leaves Bella (Kristen Stewart) in order to save her. But of course, Team Edward must be satisfied, hence, Rosenberg created a plot device to bring in more of the teenage vampire.

Miss Hardwicke said goodbye via Variety:

"I am sorry that due to timing I will not have the opportunity to direct 'New Moon,'" said Hardwicke. "Directing 'Twilight' has been one of the great experiences of my life, and I am grateful to the fans for their passionate support of the film. I wish everyone at Summit the best with the sequel -- it is a great story."

Okay, I adore Hardwicke, but as I've said before, I think her best film is still her first, the brilliant "Thirteen." And that one has a great script!

So maybe, just maybe, what about Miss Rosenberg? Does Summit really think that Rosenberg is the scribe du jour for the franchise? Should they also try other takes on the script from other scriptwriters?

Look, you may not like Hardwicke, heck, you may even hate the leads -- Pattinson and Stewart -- but a great film always start with a great script, first and foremost!

So while we're in the re-shuffling of the "Twilight" franchise, I suggest, let's look for other scriptwriters as well! Let's start fresh, and perhaps, save this franchise before it becomes bad.

The "Twilight" series gets deeper and darker as the story progresses, so taking a cue from the super-successful and far more superior "Harry Potter" franchise, let's experiment with the script and the direction, and movie magic will follow!

NOTE: "Harry Potter" has an intelligent scribe behind it, Steve Kloves, who wrote the screenplay of all the "Potter" films except for one, last year's "Order of the Phoenix," and that film wasn't as good as the other later "Potter" movies. So Kloves was able to delve into J.K. Rowling's world, I'm still not sure Rosenberg really gets "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer. Just a thought!

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Washington DC Critics Salute "Slumdog Millionaire" 

Uh-oh, it's shaping up to be an unpredictable Oscar season!

Last year, "No Country for Old Men" took the top prize from most Critics award-giving bodies. On the road to Oscar 2008, we all could predict, easily I might add, that the Coen Brothers' masterpiece would be the clear winner.

This year? So far, "Slumdog Millionaire" is emerging to be the top contender, but "Frozen River" is not too far behind. There are just too many great films to put your bet on one solid flick!

Indeed, "Slumdog Millionaire" was the big winner at the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) awards, winning 4 including Best Film of 2008, Best Director for Danny Boyle, Best Breakthrough Performance for Dev Patel and Best Adapted Screenplay for Simon Beaufoy.

Mickey Rourke's performance in "The Wrestler" awarded him the Best Actor prize, while Meryl Streep's turn as a strict nun gave her her first WAFCA award for "Doubt."

One thing's for certain though, Heath Ledger will dominate the Best Supporting Actor category in most award-giving bodies. The late actor won that category at the WAFCA, while Rosemarie DeWitt won Best Supporting Actress for "Rachel Getting Married" from Sony Pictures Classics.

Wanna see the list of the winners? Click Read More and better start your tally sheets! Read More...

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My Favorite Films This Year...So Far!!! 

Okay, for all those hyper-negative talks about 2008 as not a good year for movies? Think again! This year is full of films with hope (“Milk”), passion (“The Wrestler”), heroism (“The Dark Knight”) and undying love (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”).

2008 is almost over, but I’m still not done catching up on upcoming releases, so this list is still a work-in-progress.

Some are Oscar-baits (“Frost/Nixon”), some are summer popcorn flicks (“Hellboy 2: The Golden Army”), and some are even scary movies (“The Strangers”).

But all the films in this list captured my imagination, my fears, and my hopes.

Before the year is over, I will narrow down this list. Off to the chopping block we go! And that breaks my heart, for it’s like throwing a great movie to give in for the year-end tradition of the Top 10 list.

We’ll talk about that later. For now, please see these movies on cable, on DVD, in theaters near you now, or coming soon!

Click Read More to see my list.

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