Well, some time ago I wrote that I was back and as you can see, I was jumping the gun a bit. I’m getting better each day, but I still can’t push my luck. Lately, I’ve been busier than usual at work, so I’m still searching for the right balance.
What’s hard is, this is my favorite time of year…OSCARS!
Yes folks, this is my Superbowl. Sunday is my day, I do not make plans, I do not make dinner, it’s all Oscars, all day. Since movie watching doesn’t hurt my arms or neck, I did manage to see all nine Best Picture nominated films. My goal was to take the nine days leading up to The Oscars and write a review for each. Since the telecast has started, that’s obviously never going to happen. Maybe the best way to get back into the swing of these is to give my reviews in a nutshell, sit back, enjoy the show and then let’s try to get back to regular posting soon.
I saw Beasts of the Southern Wild in the summertime. I heard great buzz about this film and its young star Quvenzhane Wallis. While this film was visually stunning and the young star certainly earned her Best Actress nomination, this is the type of film that is somewhat wasted on a simple moviegoer like me. Much like last year’s, Tree of Life, I appreciate the artistry and effort to do something different, but I can’t help but feel a little dumb when I see these kinds of films. Some of the content really does go over my head. I often have foreign and independent films high on my watch list, but a film like Beasts of the Southern Wild is best appreciated by those with a more sophisticated film palate than mine.
Les Miserables was a film I had hesitation about. I have a long love/hate relationship with musicals. Films like The Wizard of Oz and West Side Story are some of my all-time favorite films, but then films like Moulin Rouge, I can’t make it past 5 minutes! Les Miz was a risk for me because I don’t mind when characters sing an actual song, I despise sing songy lines of simple conversation and actions. This film had to work hard to win me over and it did. The opening scene blew me away visually. This is a film that should be seen in the theater. Not only are the visuals best enjoyed on the big screen, it’s a favor to yourself to be in a sequestered setting. This movie is long and it feels long, but since you’re in the theater, you have no choice but to give yourself over completely. As far as the knocks the actors received for their singing ability, I will say this. I felt the point of this project was to hire actors who could sing, not the other way around. I respect this decision that this was being adapted into a movie not simply filming a stage production. Everyone who signed on to this took such a chance and singing live and in the moment had to be so scary for all involved. So, do I wish Russell Crowe had a more commanding voice? Sure I do, but it took a lot of guts to do what he did. As for Anne Hathaway, she continues to “bring it” in roles people think she won’t be able to pull off. I think she’ll win tonight and all I can say for those who felt she desecrated “I Dreamed A Dream” with all her crying, it worked on me. It was gut-wrenchingly emotional and I felt completely destroyed when she was done. I wanted reach into the screen and save her.
I remember seeing a trailer for Silver Linings Playbook and thinking that Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence will probably want this film to be quickly forgotten. Honestly, these days you’re not even guaranteed a movie is good because Robert DeNiro is in it, that man makes a lot of crap! So what a pleasant surprise it was to get a film with strong writing and acting performances. Once in while a feel good movie works. This one does because of the pull no punches character development which is beautifully executed by superb acting performances. It’s no surprise that this is the only nominated film that snagged nods in all the acting categories. I think Lawrence really has a shot here and I don’t think her Golden Globe exclamation of, “I beat Meryl!” will hurt her one bit.
To be perfectly honest, the only reason I saw Amour is because it was one of the Best Picture nominees. I have nothing against subtitles or foreign films, however this subject matter was depressing. If making you feel completely deflated and hopeless is what the director was trying to achieve, then mission accomplished. Now, I will say this film was brave it how it dealt with aging and illness. This was, arguably, the most vividly honest film to deal with challenges of growing old and caring for those we love. That is why this film is nominated, but what a downer!
I’m a fan of Quentin Tarantino and Pulp Fiction is one of my all-time favorite films. My level of excitement was already pretty high for Django Unchained and boy did it deliver! I’m not a fan of gore, yet Tarantino always delivers a huge bloodfest and I love every minute of it! Jamie Foxx was made for the role of Django and he brought the maximum level of cool needed to pull off Taratino’s outrageous storylines. The real gem here though is Christoph Waltz. He was so complex, funny and badass cool. If he manages to wrangle the win away from Tommy Lee Jones, it will be my loudest yell of the evening.
You can yell at me but even though I write a movie blog, I never saw The Hurt Locker, okay smack my hand. I just never felt in the right mood to sit with that subject matter for two hours. I did break down though and see Zero Dark Thirty. Riveting and emotional for sure, but I feel as if something was missing because of our lack of knowledge. Jessica Chastain turned in a wonderful performance, as she always does, but she was so limited in what she could do with her character because we are not allowed to know these people as real people. As much as a liked this film, I felt a distance from it.
This was not the case with the wonderful Argo. This shows the different time can make. Whereas the subject of Zero Dark Thirty may still have been too fresh for a film adaptation, the de-classified records for Argo seemed to scream to be made into a film. Ben Affleck really knows his way around as a director not to mention how many fine character actors he peppered this film with. You can’t imagine how great it was for me to see Bryan Cranston and Philip Baker Hall in the same scene. As a Seinfeld maniac I couldn’t even hear what they were saying because I was thinking, “Oh my God, Bookman, The Library Cop and Tim Whatley, DDS are in the same room!” This movie was so intense, yet fun. To know this was a true story really added to the enjoyment. It was great to know what some people will put on the line to do what’s right. I think Lincoln is a lock for Best Picture, but I have to say, I would not be shocked to see this one pull it out of left field.
Life of Pi was a pleasant surprise. So many films this year proved how important it is to still see movies in the theater. Life of Pi was a visual treat and lent itself great to the revived and trendy 3-D format. When it seems like so many films are in 3-D just because they can be, for this film, it actually added a special quality. To feel as if you too where trapped on the boat with the Bengal tiger really helped you buy into the film. I loved the overall message and I have to say Ang Lee did have one of the toughest director challenges this year.
Lastly, Lincoln was a collaboration of A-listers: Spielberg, Day-Lewis, Field, Jones and the most wonderful movie music maker of all time, John Williams. Why this movie garnered the most nominations is because it accomplished the task of taking someone who is an iconic legend and making him a very real, relatable person. My honey since the 80’s, Daniel Day-Lewis deserves the Oscar for bringing Abraham Lincoln to life. This movie really has no action and may be boring to those not interested in this part of history, however you would do yourself a disservice to miss this wonderfully executed biopic. I started crying in the opening scene. There were so many beautiful tiny moments that you felt to your core. I think this will walk away with the Best Picture award. Although some may think it’s because it’s tailor made for awards, not true. This is an example of the wonderful magic movies can give us. Taking us back to the Civil War Era and making us feel everything that was on the line was a monumental feet and it delivered.
This is going out a bit late. It was quite a task when I haven’t posted in so long, but hey everyone….enjoy the Oscars!