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November 24, 2008

Escape to 'Australia'


Expectations were rather muted, since we're less than 100% enthusiastic about Baz Luhrmann. Don't even try to explain "Moulin Rouge" to us -- it's been done, with no success; we still hate it. But we were very high on his "Romeo + Juliet."

But "Australia"?

All those rumblings in recent weeks about fights over the ending, last-minute switcheroos, somebody important dies, no, scratch that in favor of keeping one of the main characters alive and well and hence creating The Happy Ending. It was all too much attention to inner workings that, especially for a sweeping romance, we just didn't want to think about. It kills the buzz, you know? Early reviews didn't help that much either.

Happy to report, dear readers, that a screening this afternoon made quite an impression. A good one. Not sure we'd go full Oprah, but we were pleasantly surprised.

"Australia" is epic and beautiful to look at, it's involving and appealing. Awards bait? Golden Globes, possibly. Oscars? Technical categories, sure. But picture? Naw. A nomination for Oscar owner Nicole Kidman? We don't see any acting nods, unless that darling little newcomer Brandon Walters has a shot. We could get behind that.

As some critics have noted, it's the kind of movie that Hollywood rarely makes anymore, which should give adult women a reason to hit the multiplex instead of the mall this weekend. It's an escape, and who couldn't use that right about now?



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Drew Williams

I went to see "Australia" today and absolutely loved the entire 160 plus minutes. I hope it gets some Academy love, and in a weaker actress year, Nicole might actually would have a chance at a nod. More than half the critics that are giving this film a good review are also praising Nicole and some are saying it is her best work in years. I do hope Brandon Walters somehow makes the cut in the supporting category.

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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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