Awards Derby Finale: Oscars & Razzies

Here’s the last draw of awards for this season of movies. Let’s see if perennial favorite “Slumdog Millionaire” will take its victory to an Oscar finish.


For the past few weeks, “Slumdog Millionaire” haters are multiplying. Surely, the backlash can be felt by the world over. The Danny Boyle-directed film is criticized for being a ‘fairy tale’, conveniently bailing its way out of its storyline conflicts by surrendering itself to an infallible element that is called ‘destiny’. Well, there are many other criticisms that have arisen lately that are like roadblocks to the film’s Oscar aspirations. But it did not stop our underdog-turned-frontrunner from bagging the top plum. Come Oscar night, “Slumdog Millionaire” came home with 8 trophies out of its 10 nominations. What a sweep!
Best Picture – Slumdog Millionaire
Best Director – Danny Boyle
Best Adapted Screenplay – Simon Beaufoy
Best Sound Mixing
Best Original Score
Best Cinematography
Best Editing

If you know how to count, that is 7 awards right there. The other one is for Best Original Song for “Jai Ho”. I love the Bollywood-inspired dance number at the end of “Slumdog Millioanire” and the song sure is catchy. But Oscar-worthy? I’m not digging that immensely. I would go for Peter Gabriel’s “Down to Earth” (from “Wall-E”) on any given Sunday.

Best Original Song – Jai Ho (Slumdog Millionaire)

The 81st Academy Awards did not have a lot surprise victors this year. The winners were more or less what everyone has predicted, except for the Best Actor. Not undermining Sean Penn’s performance as Harvey Milk (hands down, he was great and he is my bet), everyone thought the comeback of Mickey Rourke wouldn’t be complete without a golden statue. So everyone, including Penn himself, was surprised when Rourke’s name was not called as the Best Actor.

Best Actor – Sean Penn (Milk)

I read an article saying that Kate Winslet made a joke after receiving her award backstage that she has perfected the ‘losing face’ in case she will not be named Best Actress this year. She added that she got better with it in time. Imagine five nods and no win. Well, not anymore. Winslet turned herself from an Academy Award ‘multi-nominee’ to an Academy Award winner. Ah, finally!
Best Actress – Kate Winslet (The Reader)

Best Supporting Actress and Actor, predictable. All you need is psychosis and you’ll be marching out with an Oscar on one hand.
Best Supporting Actor – Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Best Supporting Actress – Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)

I think “Wall-E” deserves more recognition than just being named as the Best Animated Feature. Imagine the ingenuity behind it. The Chaplin-esque 15-minute intro, the robot love story, the satire on technology, and many more. It is nothing short of brilliant. I believe it deserves a Best Picture nomination (kick “The Reader” out of the list) and a Best Original Screenplay award.

Best Animated Feature Film – Wall-E
Best Original Screenplay – Dustin Lance Black (Milk)

Of all the five nominees in the Best Foreign Language Film category, only one did not make as much noise as the other four and only one do not have a Tomatometer rating in Rotten Tomatoes. So it comes as a surprise that Austria’s “Revanche”, Germany’s “The Baader Meinhof Complex”, France’s “The Class” (Cannes Palme d’Or winner), and Israel’s “Waltz With Bashir” (everyone’s bet) did not take home the prize.

Best Foreign Language Film – Departures (Japan)

And here’s the rest of the winners:
Best Sound Editing – The Dark Knight
Best Make-up – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Visual Effects – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Art Direction – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Costume Design – The Duchess
Best Documentary Feature – Man on Wire

For the complete list of nominees, visit:


I don’t think I need to waste my precious time doing commentaries on bad films. It’s bad enough that I have to mention them (I don’t know why I’m doing this), so just browse through the list of winners. And suck it up!

Worst Picture – The Love Guru
Worst Actor – Mike Myers (The Love Guru )
Worst Actress – Paris Hilton (The Hottie and the Nottie)
Worst Supporting Actor – Pierce Brosnan (Mamma Mia!)
Worst Supporting Actress – Paris Hilton (Repo! The Genetic Opera) Worst Screen Couple – Paris Hilton and either Christine Lakin or Joel David Moore (The Hottie and the Nottie)
Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off, or Sequel – Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull
Worst Director – Uwe Boll (1968: Tunnel Rats, In The Name of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, and Postal)
Worst Screenplay –Mike Myers & Graham Gordy (The Love Guru)
Worst Career Achievement – Uwe Boll

For the complete list of nominees, visit:

The Year in Pixels and Kernels: Most Commented/Viewed Movie Reviews

Here’s the second part of my ‘Year in Review’ special. Among the 118 movie reviews I’ve seen from January 2008 to February 2009, six emerged as the Most Commented and Viewed. And here they are:


5 – Ang Tanging Ina Nyong Lahat (29 comments)

After seeing the number of comments and hits this review has received, I realized that it doesn’t matter whether the movie is good or not and whether my review is positive or negative. For the post to enjoy considerable attention in cyberspace, the film I’m reviewing should be POPULAR. It’s that simple.

Deramas and del Rosario stick to the formula that made its predecessor a runaway blockbuster hit, combining a hefty dose of comedic stunts and a hint of family drama just enough to wet our hankies. The film could have experimented a bit to shake things up. But as it is, it is good to know that the charm of de las Alas and Domingo hasn’t worn off one bit.

4 – 100 (32 comments)

With my nonstop plugging and support for the theatrical release of “100”, I guess my Multiply contacts got excited and finally took notice of this wonderful film. So when I reposted my Cinemalaya review for “100” (with a few modifications on the first paragraph), the post garnered 32 comments. Sabi nga ni Celes: “100, 100%”.

The comedic performances of Dizon and Domingo are impressive. It feels as if there is a laughter conductor on screen signaling the audience to laugh in unison. The humor is sharp but never slapstick, getting its inspiration on slice-of-life comedy and pop culture references.

3 – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (33 comments)

Interesting concept. Check. Special effects. Check. Epic length. Check. Oscar-baiting film. Check. A-list actors. Check, check, check. You can be assured a film with these characteristics will generate buzz.

The film’s emotional touch point is the much-anticipated consummation of Benjamin and Daisy’s love story. They have all those chances to be together, but for a long time, they were merely counting missed opportunities. But when the timing was right, they finally met in the middle and caught up with each other. However, let truth be told of the ephemeral nature of life and the capriciousness of fate.

2 – My Sassy Girl (46 comments)

I guess my Multiply contacts were just as surprised as I am to find out that I actually liked this “My Sassy Girl” remake. The US remake may be a modest hit compared to the original Korean franchise. (Well, at lead here in RP.) Everyone is still anxious to find out if Hollywood made an adaptation mess for the nth time.

“My Sassy Girl” may seem like a senseless dating spree between a sadistic girl and a totally clueless guy, but it is not. It explores the depth of human nature by showing caricatures of two extreme personalities using quirky scenarios and colorful verbose.

1 – Slumdog Millionaire (52 comments)

The underdog film that eventually became the frontrunner this awards season. This is not yet shown in the Philippines (and perhaps it will never be), but people who know a thing or two about movies are talking about it nonstop. And did my glorification to “Slumdog Millionaire” help? Well, everyone I know (except Gerard) say the same thing. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser.

To label “Slumdog Millionaire” as a simple love story would be an unqualified insult to Simon Beaufoy’s sweeping and tightly-penned screenplay that utilized Mumbai as a central character in itself. We see the shanty houses as they turn into skyscrapers. We take a glimpse at the harrowing criminal underworld abundant with cold-blooded murders, greed, brutality, and exploitation. The expose on the roundabouts of the Third World life gives the film an undeniable social resonance.


5 – My Sassy Girl (108 views)

4 – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (118 views)

3 – Slumdog Millionaire (124 views)

2 – For the First Time (158 views)

Among the five most viewed blogs, this is the only one that didn’t get as much comments as the rest. Wanna know why? Here’s my theory: Everyone is secretly in love with this blockbuster. They love KC. They love Richard. They love the movie. They believe it should win a FAMAS award. But no one wants to admit it. And so, nobody wants to refute the harsh commentaries I made on Star Cinema’s worst (un)romantic film of the year. Now, that says a lot about its whopping 158 views and meager 9 comments.

I usually allot my second paragraph to brisk through the movie’s synopsis. But this time, I wouldn’t attempt to insult you and pretend that “For the First Time” has a story, because it has none – no story, no conflict, no sense. Everything is made up and the movie expects us to be swayed by its repugnant artificiality.

1 – Ang Tanging Ina Nyong Lahat (160 views)

My top 20 films of the year. Which is better? The Dark Knight or Wall-E? Jay or 100? Slumdog Millionaire or The Curious Case of Benjamin Button? And the worse is yet to come. Which films will join For the First Time in the Hall of Shame? Meet the Spartans? Kulam? Or When Love Begins?

The Year in Pixels and Kernels: Most Commented/Viewed Blogs

I'm cross-posting this from my Multiply site. From January 1, 2008 to February 17, 2009, I’ve posted a total of 86 blogs and 118 movie reviews – a feat that I may not be able to surpass this coming year. That translates to hundreds, even thousands, of hours spent in front of the computer blogging and surfing the Internet. So that explains my occasional bouts with headache and what could be a carpal tunnel syndrome. Nevertheless, I had fun doing this and I feel elated to find out that people here in Multiply actually read my shit. And so, I browsed through all of my blogs and movie reviews for 2008-2009 to see which posts received the most views and most comments. Here is the honor roll:


5 – Oscar Snubs and Surprises (23 comments)

Instead of merely posting the nominees for the 81st Academy Awards, I’ve decided to include my rants and raves on the surprise nominees and the occasional snubs of the Oscar voters.

But this Oscar’s biggest surprise involves Kate Winslet. She may have won a Golden Globe for her intense portrayal as April Wheeler in “Revolutionary Road”, but Oscar doesn’t seem to give her any credit for it. Instead, the 5-time Oscar nominee nabs a Best Actress nod for her role in “The Reader”, where she recently won Best Supporting Actress in the Golden Globes.


4 – 977 Words (23 comments)

The title refers to the number of words I used to describe myself using the third person point of view in this blog. We all should plead guilty of writing too much about ourselves. If narcissism is a crime punishable by death, I’ll be among the convicted lined up for the deathrow.

He hates labels. He is a bad ass, a dork, a nerd, a rebel, a know-it-all, a braggart, an ordinary person who doesn’t want to be called ‘ordinary’. He is a walking irony. His life is a melodramatic sitcom.


3 – The 8 Best Movie Posters of ’08 (24 comments)

As a fanatic moviegoer, I also developed an infatuation with movie posters. So with the help of,, and Yahoo! Movies, I was able to compile my list of the best posters of 2008.

1. Funny Games, dir. Michael Haneke
Naomi Watts’ headshot screams of utter torture and that’s exactly what’s in store in this US remake to feed the viewers’ sadistic fantasies.


2 – “Slumdog Millionaire” leads Golden Globe winners, Kate Winslet nabs two acting trophies (25 comments)

Here comes a lazy blog. I merely re-posted the list of Golden Globe winners, decorated it with pictures, christened it with a title worthy to be a showbiz magazine headline, and voila! 25 comments!


1 – 8 Hottest Philippine Magazine Covers of 2008 (38 comments)

It took me weeks to populate this list but I’m glad I did it because it was sure worth it. My friends in Multiply commented about my rankings and debated on Katrina Halili’s awkward Maxim pose.

8. Katrina Halili, Maxim
The bejeweled brassiere served as her ticket to the list. But admit it, Katrina Halili is such a hot property that she could wear just about anything (and that includes a sushi underwear) and will still look hot. However, something doesn’t look right in this photo. Could it be the smirk? The neckline? The hip? Or are my eyes just fooling m? Iis this really Katrina Halili or is this a drag queen?



5 – My ‘Professional’ Bio-Note (81 views)

Here I go again writing about myself. This time around, I was asked by the section editor of Philippine Entertainment Portal ( to write a three-paragraph bio-note in three hours. The idea is that she will publish parts of it at the end of the movie reviews I contribute for PEP.

Despite the fact that his first love is writing, Fidan did not pursue creative writing or journalism in college. He wants to get rich, and writers don’t get rich. Instead, he obtained a degree in Business Administration from the University of Santo Tomas wherein he graduated with Latin honors, leading to a career in the corporate world as a Management Trainee under JG Summit. At night, he takes off his business attire and wears his writer self. Indeed, first love never dies.


4 – The 8 Best Movie Posters of ’08 (95 views)

3. Zack and Miri Make a Porno, dir. Kevin Smith
All you need to see to understand why I like this poster are those two heads right at the bottom. Now, think green. Now you know why this particular poster was banned in the United States.


3 – FHM Philippines’ 100 Sexiest Women of the World (98 views)

This is actually more of a teaser (so that people would buy the FHM July issue) than a blog. Tricky, tricky world of marketing. I don’t even know why I did this in the first place. Obviously, it’s not a part of my job description, but perhaps it is a labor of love.


2 – 7 Weird Degrees to Pursue in College (114 views)

I wrote this for Bounce Magazine but the Editor-in-Chief asked me to re-do the article for reasons I dare not elaborate. I thought this feature is witty, semi-comical, and utterly satirical. It was great article to begin with, so I refused to change any part of it. That’s why, it wasn’t published, and instead a lame replacement from another Thomasian took its place. Bitterness.

In school, we have seen all sorts of weirdos. There are DOTA freaks, homosexual ROTC officers, ultra-blond cheerleaders, cross-eyed nerds, wrist-cutting emo’s, retards, and Koreans. But if you think the only thing that can be weird in school are the students, then think again. Escalating the definition of weirdness to new heights are several colleges and universities that have inculcated some pretty peculiar courses in their curricula. Here’s a look at 7 weird degrees currently being offered in the country. Mind you, all of these are legit!


1 – 8 Hottest Philippine Magazine Covers of 2008 (170 views)

Most commented and most viewed. And its lead over the second placer is by a mile. That does it for me, I’ll write another one like this for 2009.

1. Anne Curtis, Rouge
With its bold editorial choices as well as saucy covers, Rouge is a magazine tour-de-force in the making. The team behind Rouge knows how to deliver sexy without being offensive and cheap looking. This magazine cover is a testament that a model doesn’t have to show too much skin to be sexy and she doesn’t have to look slutty to be hot. This MMFF Best Actress has never looked this good.


MY FAVORITE BLOG: 20 Films to Watch in Cinemanila

I was dead bored one afternoon and Dekada Cinemanila is fast approaching, so I’ve decided to Google every single film slated to be shown on the said filmfest. Using their synopses and accolades, I wrote my ‘definitive‘ list of films to watch during the biggest international film festival in the country today. Now, this is what I call a labor of love.

Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone (Japan)
The Gist: The first of four films released in the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy based on the original anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Why You Should See It: Let’s all relive those anime marathons on the AXN channel. I know “Neon Genesis Evangelion” is one of our childhood addictions that forced mommy to impose a TV curfew.


The most commented/viewed movie reviews posted in my Multiply site, my pick for the best films of the year, and the worst films I’ve seen this year.

Review: Vicky Cristina Barcelona (3/5)

Boasting of beautiful Spanish locales where art thrives in full splendor, the film’s central characters are two American girlfriends (Rebecca Hall as Vicky and Scarlet Johansson as Cristina) who get mesmerized by the same painter (Javier Bardem as Juan Antonio). To add icing on the cake, the painter’s neurotic and violent ex-wife (Penelope Cruz as Maria Elena) spirals in and out of his crazy affairs. Along the way, they dance the mĂ©nage-a-trois tango and compare notes on romance. Although the film encourages us to take that leap of faith and break out of our hopeless, by-the-book ideals about love and commitment, it echoes a feeling of melancholia and loss.

Notable Citations:
Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical (Golden Globes)
Penelope Cruz, Best Supporting Actress nominee (Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTA)

My favorite line from the film:
“Only unfulfilled love can be romantic.”

Review: The Dark Knight (4/5)

“The Dark Knight” is not the typical action blockbuster. The ubiquitous explosion and morbidity is present here and there. However, this movie pales in comparison with the turbulence and visual firecrackers of the likes of “Wanted”, but it invested its precious 152-minute running time in something more meaningful.

What I commend about the movie is its allegorical undertones. The Joker’s anarchic mentality is a product of his disbelief in humanity – humanity as in mankind and humanity as in man’s ability to act as human. It also explores the possibility that everyone can be a villain: The Joker, Harvey Dent (AKA Two-Face), Batman, Jim Gordon, and even you and me. The mentality of this psychotic can be likened to Jigsaw of the “Saw” franchise in testing the mores of people luring them to kill one another in an attempt to save their own ass.

Does Heath Ledger deserve a posthumous Oscar nomination for his role as The Joker? He does. I would like to dislodge everyone’s doubt that this hype is just brought about by his death. It is not. He delivers beyond what we expected of The Joker, which is groomed after Jack Nicholson’s portrayal in 1989’s “Batman”. Forgive me for being wordy and redundant, Heath is so freakin’ freaky, goosebumps-inspiring all the way. He steals every scene he is in. He is in the ranks of Anton Chigurh (“No Country For Old Men”) as an untouchable villain I wouldn’t want to cross paths with ever.

Half of the credit in the credibility of The Joker as a believable character goes to Ledger’s maniacal performance, while the other half goes to the writing. There is no other villain in superhero movies or in soap operas as principled as him. He is oozing with passion to eradicate the rules that surround our very existence by breaking the government into fragments. This passion soon turns into an addiction. The Joker is addicted to chaos that he crosses all acknowledged grounds bordering sanity. And in this wild ride, we are shown how self-destructing addiction can become. Like a communicable disease, The Joker’s addiction infects everyone including the most unlikely men, those with upright conviction. This addiction does not only pertain to chemical substances injected in our veins. This is the heedless need for greater power, more money, and total control. Batman also falls prey to The Joker’s sadomasochistic trap. The former becomes addicted to banish The Joker. And in a fist-fight confrontation, The Joker attempts to corrupt our hero’s mores that he, himself, almost turned into a villain.

Although submerged in a gamut of moral and ethical gray, Christopher Nolan’s darker reanimation of the Batman franchise (sequel to “Batman Begins”) is an affirmation of our humanity.

Review: Revolutionary Road (3/5)

Aside from the stellar turn of the film’s ‘Titanic’ superstars, this film’s gift lies in its incriminating dissection of the American dream. Couples get married, settle down, and raise their kids. Daddy goes to work while mommy takes care of the household. But is this ideal set-up mandatory in every home? Even if it is mandatory, are couples happy living inside the parameters of roles and labels that society assigned to them? This is the arduous task of “Revolutionary Road”. It takes a resolute look at every husband and wife’s dilemma.

The couple sits on the opposite ends of the personality gamut. Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a conformist and is content of what life has to offer, but April (Kate Winslet) is headstrong and rebellious. Torn between leading the life they really want and living one that is expected of them, they realize that something is missing in their idyllic predisposition. Being the risk-taker, April is faced with issues of breaking free and following her heart’s desire without neglecting her familial responsibilities. Soon enough, this puts a rift on the seemingly perfect Wheeler Family.

“Revolutionary Road” is a dark drama that explodes with raw emotions. The script is flawlessly written. The leads throw their lines eloquently. Whenever Frank and April fight, their scathing words bruise deeper than any punch or physical torture. Their lashes of tongue whip us causing acute emotional pain. Elevating the level of drama are the intense performances of Kate and Leo. In “Revolutionary Road”, the two gave their most impressive acting performances to date.

The film’s ending will either shock you or leave you cold. But it is undeniable that the truths presented right before you will linger for days.


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