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On Movies: 'Red Carpet': Let the star-staring begin

The critics groups' citations, the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations, the Independent Spirit nods, the 2008 10-best lists - it's beginning to look a lot like awards season.

The critics groups' citations, the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations, the Independent Spirit nods, the 2008 10-best lists - it's beginning to look a lot like awards season.

What better time to pick up a copy of the gold-covered tome Red Carpet: 21 Years of Fame and Fashion (Welcome, $34.95, 532 pp.), a mammoth photo compendium of dolled-up, decked-out celebs parading past the paparazzi on their way into Oscar, Grammy, Golden Globe, Emmy and People's Choice awards ceremonies.

The work of veteran Hollywood photographer Frank Trapper, the book is a textless orgy of A-list and B-list glam, featuring the beaming mugs and betuxed and begowned bods of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Halle Berry, Cameron Diaz, Cate Blanchett, Will Smith, Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson, Steve Martin and Diane Keaton, Courtney Love, Susan Sarandon, Eddie Murphy, couples old (Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett), couples still-going (Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher), couples by genetics (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen).

It's like having your own curb-side spot right there where the limos pull up, only neatly packaged, without the noise, and plopped down on your coffee table. Gawk on!

More Kate. Speaking of red carpets and awards shows, the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild nominations have both decreed: Kate Winslet, lead-actress nominee for Revolutionary Road, and Kate Winslet, supporting-actress nominee for The Reader.

Never mind that the poster for The Reader features Winslet in three separate shots, that her name is above the title, and that her character - a lowly tram conductor accused of war crimes in post-WWII Germany - has more screen time that either of her male leads, David Cross and Ralph Fiennes. Rather than compete against herself in the lead category, somebody, somehow, decided to push her Reader role for the second-tier slot.

In an interview a few weeks back, Winslet said she wasn't campaigning for one over the other in terms of Academy Award placement. "I'm not backing a horse at all."

She did talk, though, about how, after 16 years in the business, acting hadn't gotten any easier.

"I've got to tell you, it gets harder," she says. "It really does. Not that I'm trying to prove anything - I just always want to get better, I want to be better at my job all the time, I don't want to rest on my laurels and say, 'OK, I have some experience, now surely I know how to do this.'

"Every character is different, every director is different. And what one director wants is quite different from another. . . . Honestly, I love it, but it's not easy, it's not flicking a switch. I can't just sort of stand up and do it. I need direction and guidance and help. And I love that, I love being told and taught, and I love listening and responding."

The Worst of '08. Next Sunday's A&E section will feature sage ruminations on the 10 best films of 2008, but let's get to a few of the year's crummiest pics on this, the penultimate Sunday. In alphabetical order, five of the sorriest cinematic offerings from these past 365 days are:

Australia, Baz Luhrmann's epic Down Under dud.

The Love Guru, Mike Myers' idea-free New Age parody.

My Blueberry Nights, Wong Kar Wai's treacly English-language romancer starring Jude Law and Norah Jones.

The Other Boleyn Girl, featuring a tumescent Henry Tudor (Eric Bana) chasing after Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman, and everybody working hard on their Brit-speak.

The Strangers, with Liv Tyler stalked and stabbed in a sicko psycho slasher pic.


Short subjects. Gangly, mild-mannered Juno and Superbad star Michael Cera is title-role-ing Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, an adaptation of the graphic novel series by Canadian cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley, about a 23-year-old Torontonian who has to battle the seven evil ex-boyfriends of the girl he loves. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (from Tarantino's Grindhouse entry, Death Proof) is girlfriend Ramona V. Flowers. British genre parodist Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) is directing, for Universal. . . . The French-language biopic of iconic '60s popmeister Serge Gainsbourg (think Beck with a Gauloise) is under way, with Britain's Lucy Gordon (Spider-Man 3) on board to play Gainsbourg's model/singer/partner Jane Birkin. Vie Heroique (Heroic Life) also stars Victoria's Secret model Laetitia Casta as Brigitte Bardot. Eric Elmosnino is Gainsbourg. . . . Production starts in February on The Book of Eli, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi western to star Denzel Washington, directed by brothers Albert and Allen Hughes. Gary Oldman's the villain, Max Payne's Mila Kunis the beautiful beauty. Warners will put it out - hopefully before the apocalypse - in early 2010.