Tag Archive: simon beaufoy

Dir. Danny Boyle
(2010, R, 94 min)
★ ★ ★

Danny Boyle is an effective filmmaker who perhaps knows a little too well that he’s an effective filmmaker. Sometimes his effects veer into self-consciousness. That is the case in 127 Hours, his followup to his Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire. It’s a film that demands the guiding hand of a strong and confident director, taking place as it does in a single setting for most of its running time: the canyon where adventuring hiker Aron Ralston was trapped for nearly a week in 2003 before amputating his own arm to escape. Boyle’s flourishes work when they evoke Ralston’s mental state, but did we really need POV shots from inside his water bottle?

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Nominees: Frozen River; Happy-Go-Lucky; In Bruges; Milk; WALL-E

The cast of 'Milk'
Winner: Milk
A category with little suspense. Dustin Lance Black’s screenplay for Milk just won the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) Award. It’s the only WGA nominee also nominated for an Oscar. Most important, Milk is the only original screenplay this year nominated for Best Picture. If there is a dark horse, it’s WALL-E, which was ineligible for the original screenplay category at WGA. But despite several nominations this decade, no animated film has won an Oscar for writing, and if WALL-E couldn’t overcome Academy bias to get into Best Picture, it likely won’t prevail here.

Nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Doubt; Frost/Nixon; The Reader; Slumdog Millionaire

'Slumdog Millionaire'
Winner: Slumdog Millionaire
Almost a foregone conclusion. Slumdog seems to have unstoppable momentum in this Oscar race. It won the Golden Globe for Best Picture, and it was honored by the Producers’ Guild (PGA), Directors’ Guild (DGA), and Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay, based on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup, was awarded by WGA. It’s close to a slam dunk.

Academy Award statuette

As the late-year Oscar rush continues, here are a few of the year’s worthiest contenders the Motion Picture Academy has probably missed.

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“Slumdog Millionaire”

Dev Patel and Anil Kapoor, from

Dir. Danny Boyle
(R) ★ ★ ★

Slumdog Millionaire is rated R, but it’s not an R movie. To my eyes, it’s clearly a PG-13. The language is tame. The sexuality is virtually non-existent. The themes are mature, but the treatment is not exploitive. There is violence, but none of it is graphic. Part of the film takes place in an Indian call center; perhaps during this economic crisis the MPAA is now taking a hard line against depictions of outsourcing.

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Dir. Bharat Nalluri
(PG-13) ★ ★ ★ ★

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day comes as a surprise. It is a romantic farce, set in the 1930s and styled as if from the era, but it becomes something richer. Director Bharat Nalluri, working from a fine screenplay by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy, based on a novel by Winifred Watson, digs deep into the material to reveal an undercurrent of sadness and the foreboding of a nation on the eve of its entry into World War II. Underneath the comically mannered performances and romantic entanglements, this is a film about class, about loss, about gender, and yes, about love.

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