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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This Academy Spells Quality, "O-S-C-A-R."

Well, it's that time of year again, when jolly old Oscar leaps to the forefront of Hollywood's line of sight just long enough to obscure the massive egos craving his cold, golden attentions. That also means it's time for the annual tradition where I review the Academy's nominees for Best Picture. As usual, they are slightly more eccentric than one would expect. That's greatness for you, I suppose.

Atonement - This is the story of Robbie (James McAvoy) a young actor, trapped in a Hollywood historical drama having nothing to do with Jane Austen. Despondent, he seeks solace in the willing arms of Cecelia (Keira Knightley), who is on the rebound from a bad breakup with Simon and Garfunkel. Together, they are called up to military service in World War II, Robbie as an infantryman, and Cecelia as the service technician for a squadron of Vaught Corsairs.

Whilst Cecelia is handling the lube jobs for half of Britain's aviators, Robbie unexpectedly wins the war in 1942 when he accidentally manages to lob a hand-grenade into Adolf Hitler's port-a-loo. The German High Command (Richard Attenborough), stunned at this major setback a full two years before D-Day, decides to have Robbie stand in for the little psycho. Robbie at first refuses, until he receives a "Dear John" letter from Cecelia, who has run away with the 1st Canadian Infantry Division (Saracens).

The war continues, many people are blown to bits in extreme slow-motion, and slowly but surely Robbie manages to grow a weed of a Chaplin moustache. Eventually, Cecelia and the Canadian 1st Infantry reach Berlin a full 6 months before the Russians. Confronted with his massive guilt complex, his ex-lover, and her twenty thousand boyfriends, he completes the atonement of the title by stabbing Von Ribbentrop in the gut with a shiv. Together, he, Cecelia, and the Canadians, all disguised as Eva Braun, escape to Switzerland and form a chocolatier collective.

Juno - The story of a young woman named Juno (Ellen Page) who unexpectedly becomes preganant after a spending a fortnight on an American college fraternity row. Uncertain as to whom the father is or whether in fact he was an actual student or just someone hanging around for free beer, she devises a cunning plan to secure the future of her unborn child.

Unfortunately, this cunning plan fails when she is unable to obtain the necessary tools, including a Vaught Corsair, a nuclear fusion reactor and a small black hole. Instead she puts the baby up on the black market, selling her progeny for a pack of Ultra-Light smokes and half a case of Zima.

Twenty years later, her son, Zippy (Alec Baldwin), now the President of Coors Brewing, tracks her down in Los Angeles, where she has parlayed her sad story as an unwed mother into a regular guest spot on Dr. Phil. Zippy, enraged at the way his mother has been exploited and confused by her claims that his father is Bobcat Goldthwait, attacks Dr. Phil in an Indiana cornfield in a biplane. Dr. Phil escapes by the skin of his moustache, Zippy is institutionalised, and Juno writes a tell-all book about the events which makes Oprah's Book Club List.

Michael Clayton - George Clooney returns to the silver screen after an absence of nearly twelve seconds to star in this cracking original thriller from Warner Brothers about a soulless barrister who faces a crisis of conscience. Michael Clayton (Clooney) works in a prestigious New York law firm, Clooney, Pitt, and Damon, where he "fixes" cases by drowning the opposing witnesses in legal documents and Mountain Dew Game Fuel.

After his latest case goes awry when his star witness is bombarded by a Junckers Ju 290 (Bet you thought I was going to write Vaught Corsair), Clayton determines that he will have his revenge on the Luftwaffe, which is when this taut courtroom drama surprisingly veers off into a World War II film.

Fortunately, just before the Battle of the Bulge, Clayton is talked to his senses by an overworked Keira Knightley and returns to the courtroom to face his greatest nemisis, legal genius Arthur Edens (Ruth Buzzi). Edens, noted for making his closing arguments from the horizontal stabiliser of a Vaught Corsair (Ha!), continually flusters Clayton's attempts to win the case, until Clayton luckily notices that Edens is sitting on an old container of TNT, left over from Wile Coyote's (Julia Roberts) studio stock. Clayton blows the case, along with Edens, wide open, wins the trial, and gets the girl (Carl Reiner).

No Country for Old Men - The Coen Brothers' latest foray into the world of crime, madness, and unceasingly brutal violence with an entertaining edge revolves around the fortunes of a psychotic man with a suitcase full of money and a nail gun with an unlimited ammunition cheat code.

Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is out conducting his daily serial killing prep activities when he stumbles upon a suitcase containing $1 billion U.S., all in quarters. As he is quite mad, Anton believes the loot to be a small bear named Roscoe, whom he becomes rather taken with. Anton and Roscoe are soon pursued by Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), who believes the suitcase full of quarters to be his estranged wife Jean Tom Bell (Vanna White). Ed pursues Anton, Roscoe, and Jean across the hellish wasteland that is West Texas, specifically downtown Lubbock.

Soon, they are all pursued by Mickey Rooney, who, invigorated by his athletic turn in Night at the Museum, and firmly convinced that the suitcase full of money is Judy Garland, flies a Vaught Corsair right through the front window of a Phoenix, Arizona Starbucks.

With Mickey safely several hundred miles away, Anton confronts Ed Tom, and his nephews Huey Tom, Louie Tom, and Dewey Tom, in a bloodbath that can only be described as "Caligulian." Amazingly, everyone is killed, including several people in the front three rows of the preview cinema. Despite this, Roscoe and Jean Tom Bell escape and are married in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator (Sandra "Tom" Bullock).

There Will Be Blood - Daniel Day Lewis plays a plucky down-and-out prospector named Jed who strikes oil whilst shooting at some food and overnight becomes the leader of a multimillion dollar petroleum company with both Dick Cheney and Hugo Chavez on the Board of Directors.

Shortly after Dick and Hugo strangle each other with garottes, Jed travels to Hollywood where he purchases a mansion (Terry Wogan) and outmanoeuvres an annoying banker named Drysdale (Ken Lay) and his sexually ambigious secretary, Jane Hathaway (Flipper).

Realising that yet another Beverly Hillbillies spoof is a comedic cul-de-sac, Jed changes his name to "Spike" and takes a Vaught Corsair to the Himalayas to "clear his head" and to also attempt to photograph the legendary Yeti. After six months of practice photography with Nepalese courtesans and Robin Williams, Spike, who has since changed his name to "Hef," finally gets his chance to photograph the great Abominable Snowman at a Cold Stone Creamery in Kathmandu. Unfortunately, distracted by the incessant pummeling the Yeti delivers to his bean, he forgets to take off the lens cap, load the camera with film, and, for a period of at least 120 seconds, to breathe properly.

In hospital, Hef, now called "Rosamunde," is so impressed with the efficiency of the blood transfusion team, that he declares that he will dedicate his life to the perservation of blood products. Unfortunately, the transfusion team (Pauly Shore) has filled Rosamunde, now called "Lefty," with Heinz 57 Steak Sauce, which, while highly tasty, proves of little use in the complex task of transporting oxygen and nutrients to Lefty's vital organs. Lefty, now referred to as "Stinky," is cremated and his ashes scattered to the winds (Jeremy Clarkson).


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