And the Oscar goes to...

As has happened before, my end of year wrap up sort of ran out of steam because I was pretty busy over the break. At least two artists still to write about, so look out for that sometime in the near-to-mid. Today, I thought I'd write a little bit about some of the films being bandied about as the Awards Buzz picks up.

The first one I saw, a couple of months back, was Rachel Getting Married. Though a lot of things were incongruous in the film, like the Indian theme of the wedding, I thought it was rather good. Although Anne Hathaway got all the plaudits, Rosemarie DeWitt's role as Rachel was less traditionally nuts, and therefore meant more to me. Also, since I am not responsible for choosing Oscar categories (...yet?), I would propose that "Best Supporting Actor that is a member of the band TV on the Radio" be awarded to this film.

Although it was only very loosely based upon the wonderful book, I loved Slumdog Millionaire. I went to an advance screening in Orlando, where I sat next to an older Indian couple, and we chatted in Hindi before the film started. The lady was impressed that Mr. India appeared in the movie, but the gentleman sounded disappointed that no famous Bollywood actresses were involved. Anyway, the film is ace - the opening chase scene through the slum is incredible, there are laughs, the ending is corny but appropriate, and it's almost perfect. My only, major, gripe - at the end, over the credits, there's a massive dance routine on the train platform, and that made me so mad. The whole film does SO WELL in making Indian films look more serious, as they're usually seen in the west as being silly and full of arbitrary dancing. So they avoided all the stereotypes for the whole film and then pandered at the end. Ugh. But seeing the young Jamal and Lathika dance was pretty cute. Also, if we're talking about Best Original Song nominations, how fucking amazing would it be to see 'O...Saya' performed at the Oscars? A.R. Rahman is the man.

Was looking forward to Frost/Nixon because I'm interested in history, and especially Watergate and all that jazz. Plus, the cast was pretty solid. Watched it, and it was good - well put together, well acted (esp. Frank Langella) and well, that's about it. Seemed like an Awards film, y'know? Didn't move me or make me think after it ended. Competent but nothing special. Although the use of 'I Feel Love' towards the end was completely unexpected. "Cheeseburgers".

On the other hand, Milk succeeded in actually connecting. It was moving, I did care, and yet it was very enjoyable. May have started dancing a little when 'Queen Bitch' comes on. Penn, Franco, Hirsch and Brolin all are great. It's a shame that Prop 8, etc, show that we haven't come all that far since then.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: I hate to go with the flow, but I feel like it was a film more to be admired than loved. Technically, it was amazing. The scope and scale are amazing. I am repeatedly assured by my better half that Brad Pitt - when he's on that motorcycle - looks more than amazing. But did it mean anything? The way it's framed, around Hurricane Katrina, doesn't do much, and it definitely drags in the final hour. Fincher for direction maybe? It did have more laughs than any of us could have expected - that was a nice plus.

Should mention a couple of older films (i.e. from the summer) that are still in contention. Watched Wall-E for the fourth time yesterday, and it's still lovely and moving and hilarious. And The Dark Knight, the biggest thing to ever happen to anyone at any time ever, is still running lukewarm, but Heath Ledger's apparent lock on the Best Supporting Actor award seems pretty fair. Man on Wire is great and should win everything including best foreign language film but you already knew that.

I am yet to see The Wrestler, though last night on Monday Night Raw, I was surprised to see that Goldust is still kicking it. Remember when he feuded with Val Venis? No? Why the hell do I?

There are some other films, which get mentioned a lot in these circles. There are a couple of movies about Nazis, one of them being The Reader, or as Patton Oswalt called it, "I FUCKED ILLITERATE HITLER BY PROXY." Once I found out that the film wasn't about Google's bonza RSS suite, I wasn't interested. Like Kate Winslet's other awards-tip, Revolutionary Road, I don't care - sorry! Seen the trailers, both films look technically sturdy, but... blarg. Apparently, the latter is not Titanic 2 after all. And I want Kate Winslet off of Titanic to win her Oscar. One day.

What's left? Can't get past Eastwood's delivery of "Get... off... my... lawn!" to see Gran Torino, something about Doubt makes me not interested, and I haven't seen, but would rather like to see, Vicky Christina Barcelona and The Visitor.

Fun Fact: This post took ten hours to complete, during which time I drove from Orlando to Gainesville to discover that my room smelt of rotten meat.


Lauren said...

I think I just drooled a little when thinking about him on the motorcycle...

What?! You have Anne Hathaway!

Matthew said...

Agreed. Milk succeeded in cementing my cynicism concerning the ability of people to just get over

More importantly, if I see a Gran Torino trailer one more time, I'm going to finger-gun Clint Eastwood into a Dateline-caliber nursing home. Bedsores and stolen pills, asshole!

Jim said...

The Wrestler is excellent. I do however like wrestling, so that might help (yeah I know, almost 30 and still watch wrestling, I'm terribly sad).

Fun fact - Val Venis just got fired from WWE the other day.

lee said...

we watched The Visitor on video. It had some good acting and pleasing moments, and resolved itself well ... but its still a bit too much of a 'Magical Black Man, 2008 Version' for my tastes.

I also would love to see R deWitt get tapped for supporting, and i think she has a nom. chance. Bill Irwin would be even more deserved, I think ... America's greatest clown ftw!

Slumdog has grown on me in retrospect, although at the time, i had a hard time shaking off the 'why am i not just watching a Bollywood movie' sensation. I think there were better movies last year, but it's the one I most want to see win the Oscar (of likely nominees.)

Also in the consensus re: Benjamin Nuttin' ... Loved Ebert's review there: "WHAT IS THIS IN AID OF?"

Anonymous said...

You know, I've read criticism here and there about Doubt, mostly focusing on the current irrelevance of the whole "Catholic priest touching boys" sort of thing, since it's all so overexposed nowadays. But as a former altar boy (who never put out), and as someone who really enjoyed the film, I'd have to disagree with said criticism.

Really, the alleged incident is more of a MacGuffin than anything, feeding more into a cultural critique handled in a way kind of reminiscent of Mad Men. I thought it was fairly obvious that the underlying conflict had more to do with issues of the priest's personal 'identity' and related religious politics.

Anyway, I guess I'm just saying that contrary to how "Acting-Tour-De-Force"-ey the whole thing comes off in the trailer, it's actually a well made film that doesn't hit you in the face with trite nonsense. I thought about it a lot after leaving the theater...


paddysat said...

The Visitor is good. Not great. Worth a view but don't go out of your way. It is no Station Agent (which I think is beautiful) but it is great to see Richard Jenkins in a starring role.

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