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May 27, 2008

A class act


There's always something so comforting about a Sydney Pollack movie. Not that it won't address social issues or offer some challenges. It's just that we feel like we're in good hands when we settle in to watch. We know he's going to take care of us, the viewer, and give us a satisfying experience.

So rare in these days of massive buildup and abject disappointment that surround many big-budget projects.

For that and many other reasons, we're saddened by the death yesterday of 73-year-old Pollack, an Oscar winner for the timeless classic "Out of Africa" whose films have collectively snagged 48 Oscar nominations and actor nods for such A-listers as Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange.

He made commercial films, no cringing necessary.

Pollack, a true multi-hyphenate who directed, produced and acted for two-plus decades, made a memorable appearance in last year's incisive "Michael Clayton," delivering some of the best biting lines in the movie, which he also produced. Again, seeing him reassured us that this would be a quality film. Nothing to worry about here. We still think it was one of the most underrated of the year, despite its seven Oscar nominations and the much-deserved win for Tilda Swinton.

We're looking forward to the inevitable Pollack movie marathon on cable, hopefully as soon as possible. Because if one's not organized soon, we'll mount one of our own that will include (but not be limited to) "Three Days of the Condor," "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and, of course, "Tootsie."



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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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