Monday, Feb. 16, 2009


There were the Frost-Nixon interviews in 1977, and then there was this docudrama: the most elaborate making-of docudrama a TV show ever had. No question that Ron Howard's movie is better than your standard DVD extra. For all its subtle distortions of the real Nixon and Frost (the ex-President didn't showboat so much, his interrogator wasn't exactly a flirtatious schoolgirl), the film gets at the seductive symbiosis, or mutual parasitism, of politicians and the media. Rod Blagojevich must wish some current Frost would pay him $600,000 to spill what's left of his guts. But the man The Daily Show calls "Scumdog Million-hairs" has a better chance of beating his rap than Frost/Nixon has of winning Best Picture. Odds of winning: infinity to 1

Director: Ron Howard

First he was Auteur Opie, who couldn't get Academy recognition no matter how many nominations his films received: nine for Apollo 13, nothing for him. Then, the first time he was nominated, he won (for A Beautiful Mind, which also took Best Picture). On Frost/Nixon, Howard smartly resisted inflating the stage drama; instead, he creates intimacy by keeping the camera tight on the two men: Nixon (Frank Langella), who distrusted the medium's powers of exposure and revelation; and Frost (Michael Sheen), who was already ready for his close-up. Still and all, it's not a movie, it's HBO. And, as honorable as Howard's work is here, there are four other directors worthier of the prize. Odds of winning: 50 to 1

See pictures of Ron Howard.

See TIME's top 10 films of 2008