Sunday, February 22, 2009


This is going to be short, because I do need to study at some point this afternoon.  But I just wanted to give a quick summary of Oscar Quest 2009 and offer my predictions for tonight's awards.  Here's a rundown of all the nominated movies I've seen.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. 
I liked this movie a lot.  It's not perfect; the first half seemed to drag on endlessly, but it picked up a lot in the second half.  Cate Blanchett never ceases to amaze me, and the special effects and makeup in this film were astounding.  I almost kept forgetting to pay attention to the movie, I was so busy trying to figure out how they made Brad Pitt into a 5-foot tall, 80 year old man.  Another one of its merits is that unlike a lot of other Oscar picks, I think it's a movie almost everyone would enjoy.  It's sad but happy all at the same time, and it doesn't leave you with a depressed feeling the way a lot of movies do.  The way the story was told reminded me a lot of Big Fish, which is another movie I love.  This got the most nominations out of any film this year, and while I don't think it's the best picture of the year, it definitely deserves to be recognized.  

This is my #2 pick for Best Picture, although I don't think it will win.  I went in expecting a politically charged biography/documentary and came out surprised.  Instead of being centered around history and politics and the state of a nation, the movie played out much more as the story of two men - both uncertain, both flawed, and both standing up for what they believe, however right or wrong it may have been.  Both actors provided insightful, practically flawless performances.  Even if you know nothing about Nixon (like me), I think you'll be surprised at how much you like this movie.  

I wrote a lot about this in a post a few weeks back. I'm going to predict that this will win for Best Picture.  It's a great movie and very well made, but I don't think it deserves the award.  I can't quite put my finger on why.  I think part of me feels that art should be art, and when its purpose is to promote a political or social agenda (regardless of what that agenda is) it loses something that makes it intrinsically beautiful.  I hesitate to make this statement, because I don't want anyone to think that I am opposed to the message in Milk (quite the contrary) or any other film that tells a story.  These movies are wonderful and they have their place.  I just don't think this one constitutes the best film of the year.  

The Reader. 
This was my absolute favorite of all the movies I saw in preparation for O.Q.'09.  The story is beautiful and creative, the acting is excellent, and the cinematography is subtle but perfect.  It's very sad, and I understand that some people don't like that; there is also a lot of sexual content at the beginning, so consider yourself warned.  It's absolutely beautiful, though, and I would see it again in a heartbeat.  My pick for Best Picture, hands down. (Although the Academy probably won't agree)  

Slumdog Millionaire. 
This movie has won about 38749382743 awards.  It's great.  The cinematography is amazing, the soundtrack is perfect, and the story is touching (albeit a tad predictable).  I would definitely watch this one again.  However, I'm not sure I understand why it's winning absolutely everything it can get its hands on.  I'm not complaining because it's a fabulous movie, but to me it wasn't significantly better than any of the other contenders.

Revolutionary Road.
"Sad" is not an adequate word to describe this film.  "Terrifying" might be more accurate.  After I walked out of the theatre, I felt physically sick to my stomach, it had affected me so much.  If you prefer happy endings (or happy beginnings or happy middles), this is not the film for you to see.  I'm still in shock that neither Kate Winslet nor Leonardo DiCaprio got nominated for their roles in this film, because the intensity of the performances both of them gave is unrivaled by anything else I have seen in recent years.  If I could write-in my own Academy Awards, both of them would win without any question.  

I'm a little disappointed that this didn't get a Best Picture nod, but I think I can see why.  While it's not on the epic scale of Benjamin Button, doesn't have the social implications of Milk, or the camera action of Slumdog, it's a poignant story told exceedingly well by an astounding cast.  It's almost directly based on a play (the playwright adapted his own script for the film version) and as a theatre lover I think that is part of why I loved it so much.  The cinematography is minimalistic, and it almost views more like a play than a movie in that the acting is what stands out the most.  Fittingly, though, it got four acting nominations: Meryl Streep for Best Actress, PSH for Supporting Actor (how on earth do they determine supporting vs. leading roles? who knows), and Amy Adams and Viola Davis are both nominated in the Supporting Actress category.  I wish them all the best of luck.

Animated short films:
"Lavatory-Lovestory."  ADORABLE.  I sincerely hope this wins.  
"Presto."  I love Pixar.  This is the short that played at the beginning of WALL-E (which I still haven't seen!).
"This Way Up."  I didn't really understand this one - I thought it was really weird.
"Oktapodi."  The shortest of the four, this is a cute and silly story of two squids (I think) that will definitely make you smile.  


Caleb said...

I feel somewhat vindicated in knowing that you found Slumdog Millionaire predictable. I was tired of feeling heartless.

allison said...

Caleb: Haha. No, you aren't heartless. I mean, I think I liked the movie more than you did but it just didn't seem like a Best Picture to me at all. Weird.

Erin said...

Good job on seeing all the movies!
I haven't seen any of them, and really wish that wasn't the case.
And I can't believe you haven't seen Wall-E. It is amazing!

Neal said...

I just wanted to comment on your Milk category. There is something in nearly all art that has political (or social) aspirations, implications, or complications, and I think they are inextricably linked. It's the whole art and life mirror question again: which one reflects the other, or do they both reflect each other? I think it's the latter. I won't write an essay, just a point I wanted to make.