The King’s Speech: A BAFTA breakdown

Posted on February 17, 2011. Filed under: Movies to see before you die, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , |

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a lack of awards chatter on the blog this year.  This is for two reasons. Firstly, having written posts the last two years I’m not sure there’s anything new I can bring to the party when it comes to debating the differences in the British and American voting systems; and secondly, I’ve been completely useless at getting to the cinema since I started my new degree and so have seen very few of the nominated films

Last night however, I finally managed to get myself to Leicester Square again for a long overdue appointment with The King’s Speech. As one of the last people in the universe to see this film, I thought rather than write you a straight review repeating what everyone has already said about how this really is a groundbreaking piece of cinema, I’d break it down in terms of last week’s BAFTA sweep, with one eye on the coming Oscars at the same time.  Kind of two birds with one stone.

Best Film (and Outstanding British Film)

Well, this one is a bit of a no brainer.  The King’s Speech is not a film I would ordinarily seek out, but the trailers caught my eye and once the critics started going insane about it I knew I had to get to the cinema.  I think the best thing about this film is the way it focusses a very down to Earth problem in an impossibly ostentatious setting.  Not being able to express yourself is one of the most frustrating feelings, and combatting that as someone who is supposed to speak for the nation is a very strong starting point for a story.  It could have worked just as well as a film about a normal man with a stammer, but the fact that he is a kind of second-choice King brings a grounded humanity to the character which has the audience really rooting for him.  It’s a testament to both the direction and the performances (more on that later) that we can feel a connection with a family who are as far removed from the common man in the cinema as you can possibly get.

An undeniably deserving BAFTA win, but I’m not sure it’ll repeat the success at the Oscars.  I’d like it to, but I have a feeling True Grit or The Social Network might take it.

Original Screenplay

It’s a very British screenplay: filled with emotion but in an incredibly understated way that suits the tone of the film perfectly.  There are some, now infamous, scenes which will probably stick in the collective memory for a long time, but some of the more subtle moments are what gives this film its class.  Two particular moments for me were when Bertie (if Lionel can call him that so can I!) is coming to terms with the fact that he’s going to become King, and the final scene where he delivers his speech.  That last movement is so wrought with tension it shows just how much we’ve invested in the characters.

As far as the Oscars go, I can’t call this one.

Original Music-Alexandre Desplat

I’d spotted this win before I went so I was keeping one ear on the music while I watched.  It’s a gracefully understated score, with simple piano and strings mirroring the drama in a totally non-invasive way.  I’m definitely going to have a listen to it again now that I’ve seen the film to properly admire the work that went into it. He’s in with a shot at the Oscars, but Zimmer might just beat him to it.

Supporting Actor-Geoffrey Rush

For me, Rush very nearly steals the film out from underneath Firth.  He is instantly likeable and wonderfully down to Earth.  His complete lack of reverence for the monarch is fantastic, and r elatable in our increasingly non-royalist culture.

I went in expecting to see a knock out performance from Firth, but Rush really surprised me.  I shouldn’t have been shocked really, he’s always good in eveerything he does.  I really hope he gets the recognition he deserves at the Oscars.  If he doesn’t I think it might go to Bale.

Supporting Actress-Helena Bonham-Carter

I can go either way with Helena Bonham-Carter.  I’m never quite sure what I think of her but she tends to be better than I expect her to be.  That’s definitely true in this case. She gives an very strong performance with just the right amount of dry wit and tenderness.  I think she’s got serious competition from Hailee Steinfeld at the Oscars but I’m glad she got the British award for a classically British character.

Leading Actor-Colin Firth

Well, this is what everyone is talking about isn’t it?  In the last few years, Colin Firth has remembered that he is an actor and a very good one at that.  He’s finally got out from under the shadow of the RomComs and Mr Darcy and started making films where he gets to play someone other than the uptight Englishman.

His portrayal of King George feels like it is coming from someone who really knows the man.  He shows both the sensitivity and the strength in his character as well as capturing the exasperation of someone who has a lot to say but cannot say it.  It’s a very respectful depiction, but it’s fearless enough to show him as a human being rather than an untouchable.

He’s in with a very good chance at the Oscars. And I really hope he wins, because he deserves it.


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“I think I’m gonna have a heart attack and die from not surprised!”

Posted on March 8, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , |

The winners are announced then, and while I wouldn’t have predicted a sweep from The Hurt Locker initially, after the BAFTAs and the continued hyping by the media it wasn’t exactly shocking when it came away with another 6 awards. The Best Original Screenplay one intrigues me most of all, since there’s rumblings of a law suit from a soldier who says they’ve stolen his story. Not so original then.

Deperate to inject some drama, the news reports were most excited by the fact that Kathryn Bigelow is James Cameron’s ex-wife, with feminists counting a win for the team. I’m sure Jim is at home right now weeping into his $2.5billion.

As for the other winners, the Brits were in with much less of a shot across the pond and it’s no surprise that Jeff Bridges got the Best Actor award.  Sandra Bullock on the other hand…I guess I’ll have to see the film to get it, ‘cos at the moment I just don’t. Especially against Mulligan and Sidibe.

The morning TV was citing a win for Christopher Waltz as a surprise, but again following the BAFTAs it seemed pretty obvious. Same goes for Mo’Nique…and the more I read throught the winners, the more obvious they seem.

So why didn’t I predict all of these back when the nominations were announced? Simple, I hadn’t seen the BAFTAs yet.

A while ago I wrote a post about the differences in the nominations between the BAFTAs and The Oscars, but when it comes down to it, the winners are always very similar. The greatest variation is always in the Best Actor/Actress category, with each nation favouring home grown talent.

The Oscars is the wrap party of the award season, but its later timing means that the winners tend to seem a foregone conclusion by the time we actually hear who they are. Kinda takes the drama out of it to be honest. It’s not even a surprise that Avatar only took home effects awards, because in the end, the effects were the major achievement of the film, and even if the media want some kind of outrage there, I think most people would agree that it took away the awards it deserved.  I’m still not sure what I would have given Best Film to, but I wont restart The Hurt Locker debate.

And the winners are:

BEST PICTURE

The Hurt Locker

BEST DIRECTOR

Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)

BEST ACTOR

Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)

BEST ACTRESS

Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Mo’Nique (Precious)

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

El Secreto de Sus Ojos – The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentina)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker)

BEST ANIMATION

Up

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire)

BEST ART DIRECTION

Avatar

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Avatar

BEST SOUND MIXING

The Hurt Locker

BEST SOUND EDITING

The Hurt Locker

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

The Weary Kind (theme from Crazy Heart) from Crazy Heart by Ryan Bingham, T Bone Burnett

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Up (Michael Giacchino)

BEST COSTUMES

The Young Victoria

BEST FILM EDITING

The Hurt Locker

BEST MAKE-UP
Star Trek
BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Logorama

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

The New Tenants

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Avatar

**Bonus points if you can place the quote**

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The Oscars are coming

Posted on March 5, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , |

Hey everyone.

I’m not going to write much about the Oscars, mainly because I’m away this weekend and will miss the big show, but I will try and get something up early next week.

I set out some predictions earlier when I was comparing with the BAFTAs, but if you want a more informed opinion (and to read my rambling comments about where I think they’re heading now that I’ve seen the BAFTAS) then head over to Saam’s blog.

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BAFTAs vs Oscars

Posted on February 4, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Nominations are out for two of the biggest award cermonies on each side of the pond and I’m sure the designers are already getting over excited. There’s always a few interesting differences between the choices which highlight some taste variations between us Brits and our cousins across the Atlantic so I thought it might be worth taking a look.  So far the biggest difference I’ve noticed is that all the Academy awards have ridiculously over the top names. I mean what the hell is “achievement in music written for motion picture?”  What’s wrong with Best Original Score?  That and the fact that we haven’t had some of the Oscar movies released over hear yet.
My movie hit count is appalling this year, so most of my opinions here are based on hearsay, gossip, rumour and psychic ability, just so you know 😉

Going through all the awards would take me way to long so I’m just doing the biggies. No offence to all you make up artists, editors and short film makers out there.

Best Movie

BAFTA:
Avatar
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Precious
Up in the Air

Oscar:
Avatar
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire (The Americans love to use that full title)
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

No surprises that Avatar, Up in the Air and Precious make it onto both lists. I’m thinking it’s a shoe in for Avatar. There’s a lot more nominees for the Academy, including Up, which interestingly makes it onto the list for Best Film as well as Best Animated. Not often that a cartoon breaks through, and it’s well deserving of it’s nomination. It wont win this category though.

Best Actor
BAFTA:
Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
George Clooney (Up in the Air)
Colin Firth (A Single Man)
Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
Andy Serkis (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll)

Oscar:
Jeff Bridges
George Clooney
Colin Firth
Morgan Freeman(Invictus)
Jeremy Renner

Poor Andy Serkis. Never gets awards from the Academy, despite being robbed outrageously at the Oscars back in 02/03. OK, so Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll isn’t out in the US. And a biopic about Ian Drury isn’t exactly going to capture the Yankee imagination but he has to win an Oscar some day!
Other than that the only difference is Invictus which is only just coming out over here. As for predictions, I’ve got my fingers crossed for Andy over here, I’m not sure about America but ‘m thinking wither Renner or Freeman.

Best Actress
BAFTA:
Carey Mulligan (An Education)
Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones)
Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)
Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)
Audrey Tautou (Coco Before Chanel)

Oscar:
Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
Helen Mirren (The Last Station)
Carey Mulligan
Gabourey Sidibe
Meryl Streep

I think my feelings for Sandra Bullock have been made quite clear so I’m gonna gloss over that one.
I reckon Sidibe has got both here from what I’m hearing about her performance. If not possibly Mulligan over here because An Education got a lot of very positive reviews.

Supporting Actor
BAFTA:
Alec Baldwin (It’s Complicated)
Christian McKay (Me and Orson Welles)
Alfred Molina (An Education)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Oscar:
Matt Damon (Invictus)
Woody Harrelson (The Messenger)
Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)
Stanley Tucci
Christoph Waltz

Quite a few differences here. I’m wondering if Christian McKay might win over here. Gotta say I’m shocked that Alec Bladwin is in there since everything I’ve heard about that movie is bad. I don’t think Matt damon is going to win an Oscar, but I’m not sure who is…

Supporting Actress
BAFTA:
Anne-Marie Duff (Nowhere Boy)
Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air)
Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air)
Mo’Nique (Precious)
Kristin Scott Thomas (Nowhere Boy)

Oscar:
Penélope Cruz (Nine)
Vera Farmiga
Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart)
Anna Kendrick
Mo’Nique

Again, I’m thinking Precious is taking this one. Two nominatons for Up in the Air from the Brits suggest one of those might get it if Mo’Nique doesn’t. Possibly an Oscar for Penelope Cruz…but I think she’s already had one right?

Best Director
BAFTA:
James Cameron (Avatar)
Neill Blomkamp (District 9)
Lone Scherfig (An Education)
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)

Oscar:
James Cameron
Kathryn Bigelow
Quentin Tarantino
Lee Daniels (Precious)
Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)

Another unsurprising list. I think James Cameron will probably get the Oscar, and is quite likely to get the BAFTA too, but he might just be pipped by someone like Blomkamp.  No BAFTA nod for Precious….

Animation
BAFTA:
Coraline
Fantastic Mr Fox
Up

Oscar:
Coraline
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells
Up

The Princess and the Frog is only just coming out over here so that explains it’s absence from the BAFTA list. Although I’m not sure it’s Oscar material from the few clips I’ve seen. Probably quite good, and about time Disney had a black heroine, but maybe that’s more the reason it’s getting nominated.  I would like Up to win both.

Music
BAFTA:
Avatar (James Horner)
Crazy Heart (T-Bone Burnett, Stephen Bruton)
Fantastic Mr Fox (Alexandre Desplat)
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (Chaz Jankel)
Up (Michael Giacchino)

Oscar:
James Horner
Alexandre Desplat
The Hurt Locker (Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders)
Sherlock Holmes (Hans Zimmer)
Up

I do remember the music from Up being particularly good, and it’s taken a Globe already. Strangely, the score for Avatar left no impression on me and as someone who usually notices these kind of things that suggests it wasn’t that amazing.  Having not seen the other films I can’t comment. The nominations seem to vary quite a bit between countries, but the same few films are popping up again and again.

Cinematography
BAFTA:
Avatar
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The Road

Oscar:
Avatar
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The White Ribbon

This one really has to be Avatar. The whole point of that film is the cinematography and special effects.  Interesting choice of Harry Potter by the Academy while once again over here we give a nod to District 9 which seems so far to be missing out across the pond.

Special visual effects
BAFTA:
Avatar
District 9
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Star Trek

Oscar:
Avatar
District 9
Star Trek

Avatar has this one all tied up.  I thoguth the effects were really good in Star Trek but apparently BAFTA don’t agree with me.

And that’s all folks. Let me know your thoughts on the nominations.  I’m thinking if Avatar doesn’t sweep then we’ll be seeing big wins from Precious and The Hurt Locker in both ceremonies and Inglourious in America.

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And The Oscar Goes To:

Posted on February 23, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

It’s afternoon, my bad. Got distracted helping a friend with an election campaign and then I was being a spare pair of hands for someone else, maybe I shuld say no more….

Here’s the winners from last night, I didn’t actually do too bad with my predictionsOscar

Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire

Well guessing this right wasn’t exactly hard.  Brilliant to have a British film top the Oscars. 🙂

Best Director: Danny Boyle

I changed my prediction, stupidly. But after the BAFTAs it was clear Boyle had it.

Best Actor: Sean Penn

Didn’t predict this one but Milk is turning out to be a must see.  Penn’s second statue after Mystic River in ’03, somehow it always seemed unlikely the Academy would follow BAFTA and give it to Rourke.

Best Actress: Kate Winslet

Fantastic news that Kate finally gets her Oscar. Another hit for the Brits.

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger

This one was never in doubt. The second actor to win a posthumous Oscar after Peter Finch in ’77. I still maintain he should have had one for Brokeback Mountain.

Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz

Mirroring the BAFTAs, I hadn’t heard much about Vicky Cristina Barcelona when the nominations came in but the buzz is growing.

Best Original Screenplay: Milk

I had it as Wall-E, many others had it down as In Bruges, but that’s the Oscars for you!

Best Adapted Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire

Check!

Best Animated Feature: Wall-E

Right again 😉

Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire

Beating Benjamin, yet again.

Visual Effects: Benjamin Button

Well, Slumdog couldn’t take them all.

Original Score and Orignal Song: Slumdog Millionaire

I was wrong it got both.

So there you are, Slumdog got 8 in the end to add to its 7 BAFTAs, while poor Benjamin only came away with 3.  So no one has yet beaten the joint record of Lord of the Rings, Titanic and Ben Hur for 11 in one night.  No huge shocks, I haven’t yet seen the footage to see if Kate cried, but I’m guessing she did.  A great year for British cinema.

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Tonight’s the Night!

Posted on February 22, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , |

Yep, tonight we find out the answer to that all important question: Who are you wearing?

But besides that, there’s also a little award ceremony.  Once again I’ve managed to put myself away from a computer at the critical moment, but I’ll get the winners list up ASAP.  If not tonight then tomorrow morning.

In true British style, we’re already coming up with excuses for why we haven’t won; the favourite being the Academy always favour their own, but after 6 nominations I think this is finally Kate’s year.

Benjamin Button has equalled the record of Lord of the Rings and Chicago for 13 nominations, but I don’t think it’ll beat LOTR‘s 11 award record with competition like Slumdog Millionairre.

I guess we’ll find out tonight….

*Of course, most of it doesn’t get going stateside until I intend to be fast asleep…so tomorrow morning more likely.*

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And the BAFTA goes to…

Posted on February 9, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

As promised, I’m back with a full list of the winners (‘cos who needs to write their dissertation presentation?)

I’m always going to miss Stephen Fry as host, but Jonathon Ross did a decent job, and kept Stephen’s game of getting a random word into the show via a twitter vote.  Unfortunately I missed that bit when I was travelling but I’ll try and find it later.  Just goes to show that twitter really is taking over the world…

The BAFTAs are a pretty good indicator of who’ll be taking home the Oscars, and I think some of my earlier predictions are a bit off now that I think about it.  Here’s last night’s results:

Best Film: Slumdog Millionaire

No surprises there, it’ll get the Oscar too. (Somebody take me to the cinema so I can back this claim up having actually seen it!)

Best Actor: Mickey Rourke

As I said last night, this one shocked me, but I’m hearing nothing but good things about The Wrestler.  He is nominated for the Oscar but I still don’t quite see him winning it.  Something’s telling me Brad Pitt will get it, but Rourke’s in with a chance…

Best Actress: Kate Winslet

Well this one was obvious wasn’t it?  You can’t not win when you’re nominated twice.  Incidentally, she got it for The Reader rather than Revolutionary Road which I have on good authority is the most boring film ever.

Best Director: Danny Boyle

Continuing Slumdog’s sweep.  He’s a dead cert for the Oscar I reckon

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger

Of course.

Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz

Vicky Cristina Barcelona has only just come to my attention but I’m intrigued.

Best Music: AR Rahman-Slumdog Millionaire

In the little clips we got from the Noms, this was the only one that caught my attention.  Might change my mind on my Oscar prediction based on that.

Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle-Slumdog Millionaire

That sweep just keeps going…

Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy-Slumdog Millionaire

And going…

Best Original Screenplay: Martin McDonagh-In Bruges

I really wanted to see this despite bad reviews, now I want to see it more!

Best Animated Feature: Wall-E

Had to be didn’t it?

Visual Effects: Eric Barba, Craig Barron, Nathan McGuinness, Edson Williams-Benjamin Button

Again, it’s hard ot argue with that one.  I completely take back my stupid prediction for the Oscars (I really wasn’t paying attention) Button is way ahead of the pack.

Academy Fellowship: Terry Gilliam

I wasn’t expecting this, but as soon as you watch that reel of all his movies you know he deserves it.

That’s not quite all of them, but it’s the biggies.  Slumdog finished with 7 masks, and we can expect a repeat performance at the Oscars.  I don’t think there’ll be much difference in the winner’s either, but I may well be eating those words in a couple of weeks.  In the interests of fairness, I wont go and change my predictions from a couple of weeks ago, but the BAFTAs have changed my mind on a couple of them.

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Oscar Nominations 2009 Announced!

Posted on January 22, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

It’s that time of year again. Here’s the nominations for this year’s Oscars (thanks to Oscar.com) and who I think will win. Time to find out how psychic I actually am….

Best picture

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Frost/Nixon

Milk

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

It’s gotta be Slumdog.

Best director

Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire

Stephen Daldry – The Reader

David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon

Gus Van Sant – Milk

It’s between Slumdog and Benjamin Button I think. Probably Slumdog. Actually I’ve changed my mind. Button.

Best actor

Richard Jenkins – The Visitor

Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon

Sean Penn – Milk

Brad Pitt – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler

I’ll come back to this when I’ve had a think…Maybe Brad Pitt but I haven’t seen it.

Best actress

Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married

Angelina Jolie – Changeling

Melissa Leo – Frozen River

Meryl Streep – Doubt

Kate Winslet – The Reader

It’s tipped to be either Winslet or Hathaway. I think its Winslet’s year after the Golden Globes.

Best supporting actress

Amy Adams – Doubt

Penelope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Viola Davis – Doubt

Taraji P Henson – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler

I’m gonna go with Benjamin Button as I’m predicting a sweep.

Best supporting actor

Josh Brolin – Milk

Robert Downey Jr – Tropic Thunder

Philip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt

Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight

Michael Shannon – Revolutionary Road

Ledger, no question.

Best foreign language film

Revanche – Austria

The Class – France

The Baader Meinhof Complex – Germany

Departures – Japan

Waltz With Bashir – Israel

I’m not gonna know I’m afraid. Psychic guess says The Class.

Best animated feature film

Bolt

Kung Fu Panda

Wall-E

Wall-E for sure.

Best adapted screenplay

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Doubt

Frost/Nixon

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog.

Best original screenplay

Happy-Go-Lucky

Milk

Wall-E

In Bruges

Frozen River

I reckon Wall-E

So there you go folks.  I guess we’ll find out on 22nd Feb.

*Update*

In my hurry to blog this before anyone else, I missed some of the smaller categories, but having got some of them up I reckon I’ve got time to go back…

Cinematography

(A subject of much debate on this blog)

Changeling

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

The Reader

Slumdog Millionairre

Having only seen one of the nominations (sad isn’t it?) I can’t call it. I’m guessing Button.

Music (score)

My favourite

Defiance

Milk

Slumdog Millionairre

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Wall-E

I’ve only seen Wall-E and the music in that wasn’t groundbreaking…Slumdog or Benjamin Button. Incidentally, Slumdog is double nominated for best song (against Wall-E). It’s bound to win that so I don’t think it’ll win this.

Visual Effects

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Iron Man

I think Dark Knight

It’s probably going to be a sweep by Slumdog Millionairre and Benjamin Button (which has 13 nominations).  Button will get the most overall.


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