Friday, March 05, 2010

The Best Picture

For no real reason, here are my thoughts on the 409 ten flicks nominated for Best Picture. For your consideration:


You know, looking back, Avatar wasn't a bad movie. Problem is, it wasn't a good one. If it wins Best Picture (and I'm running pretty even odds between it and Hurt Locker that it'll do it), it might be the most mediocre flick to receive said award since...well, I'll say Gladiator, but truth be told, Oscar runs half and half on rewarding mediocrity....

Avatar was extremely pretty. Don't get me wrong. I was impressed by what they did, and was glad even that I spent the extra money to see it on the IMAX screen when I did.

But here's the deal. We've all seen the story. The three that hit closest to home for me were Pocahantas & Dances with Wolves with a little bit of Iron Giant thrown in there just for kicks. It's a template story that doesn't deviate much from the general template. On top of it, the dialog was completely wooden, and no character or performance did anything to endear itself to me.

The downfall of Avatar, in my view, is that I'd have gotten the same experience if I'd put on headphones and listened to my Mp3 player while watching. (Much can be same for my experience watching Alice in Wonderland earlier today, but that's not a 2009 flick, and if it should be miracle be nominated next year, I'll have much to say on it).

The Blind Side

I haven't seen it, and I'm not really chomping at the bit to see it. Nobody in the flick really jumps out at me, this despite Sandra Bullock getting nominated for everything short of Miss Universe for the movie. I suppose I will see it one day.

District 9

I liked District 9 a lot, and was very pleased to see it nominated. It's an extremely accessible flick, and it's just grotesque enough that the Flannery O'Connor fan in me was psyched as hell to watch it. Fun, smart and doesn't beat you over the head with its message.

An Education

Didn't see it, though I gave it some thought wandering by the Bijou in Chattanooga. I'll see it eventually.

The Hurt Locker

My pick for Best Picture. Just an impressive piece. It's easy for a war flick to leave you shell-shocked, but this one left me keyed up for the entire run. I left the theater last fall wanting to go back to see it again....
Inglourious Basterds

My second favorite flick of the bunch, and probably the one I had the most fun with. Just a friggin' comic book of a movie. And even knowing it wasn't the action flick they chose to advertise it as, it still took me 20 minutes or so of movie to realize that it's just a romp. It appealed to me very much for the same reason pro wrestling's just an overblown revenge story. There's enough grotesque irony in here to keep me coming back.


Decent enough flick, I guess. It may have been the day I watched it, but it just didn't do a whole lot for me. Both Gibourey Sidibe and MoNique did great jobs, but there's something I'd like you to consider: It's likely neither was playing a role that far from how they are in real life.

Which means that should MoNique read this? I can never come within 30 yards of her, because she'll whip the shit out of me in a fight.

A Serious Man

You know, I go back and forth on A Serious Man, and today, I've lumped it in with Barton Fink. I say that, because I recognize the quality of the flick, and it's one that warrants another viewing or two, just so that I can digest a couple more of my thoughts on it.

On the whole, it was good. But the movie wasn't much fun, somehow. And life is awfully short. My nagging concerns, mainly concerning Judaism, and whether maybe there was a joke I wasn't getting, would probably better be served by answering them over beers at the pub, than sitting down with the movie again. Let me say that if that's the case, I'm completely cool with my not getting it. Trust me, there are a lot of things that go way beyond my ass.

(The alternative to Barton Fink, by the way, is Fargo. I haven't seen Barton Fink again since I first watched it 12 years ago or so. I might not need to sit down with this one, either. I was a bit the same with Fargo. I hated Fargo when I saw it, but have grown to love it over time. There are certain things in A Serious Man that make me think it may grow on me over time, as well).

Like I said, it's a well put together flick, smartly written and snappily delivered. I recognize that quality. It's what's on the pizza, sometimes, that matters.


Look, Pixar does quality work, day in, day out. I liked Up very much. It absolutely deserves a good close look in the category.

But Up wasn't even my favorite animated flick last year. Coraline beats it by a country mile, for my money.

And I don't want that to sound like I'm pooping on Up. Up is a well-done flick from a group of people who deserve all the praise in the world for making the highest quality movies for more than 15 years now. (People, I should say, who actually throw in wonderful performances, strong writing and superb dialog to go along with all their technical achievement...check out all the junk that Pixar's done since 1995, Mr. Cameron, and then we'll talk about whose cartoon is the very best in the world).

Up absolutely deserves consideration on this list, and I'd put it on my personal top 10 of 2009.

Under Coraline.

Up in the Air

I haven't seen Up in the Air, and I don't really have a lot of interest in seeing Up in the Air.

Did anybody else have the problem I did? I'd go to look at movie showtimes on Yahoo or some other site, and I'd see the title "Up in the Air" and have No Frigging Clue what the movie was, even after seeing commercials for it time and time again?

So, upon a good close look, it looks like a flick about a guy who doesn't have a home, unless it's travelling, and has taken no time whatsoever to get close to people. And this movie looks like a heartbreaking (possibly heartwarming, or both) story of what happens when he lets that happens. I get the feeling that I've seen that movie before, and it was a lot more interesting when it took the path Fight Club did.

So, to finish those, I think Hurt Locker is the strongest flick of the ten, though in the long run, it'll have to compete with Inglourious Basterds and District 9 for the title My Favorite Movie of 2009.


I liked Crazy Heart VERY much, for the music, and strong performances from Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhall (who's bugged me in past roles, because I've long felt she's reading lines as opposed to acting). I dug how that movie was put together, and it's a shame it isn't getting more attention, beyond to the (deserved) praise for Jeff Bridges' work as Bad Blake.

Coraline is a trip, though I wonder if it loses something for Academy voters who screen these things at home. Of all the movies that have utilized the 3D technology of late, I think Coraline and Up are neck and neck for flicks that did it the least annoyingly. Plus, Coraline appeals much to my fan of the gruesome. (It might be my favorite Neil Gaiman book,, or American Gods, but I suppose that's neither here nor there).

I enjoyed The Road very much. But then, I'm a sucker for flicks where everything gets destroyed, or everything has already been destroyed. I've not gone and looked for critical pieces on it, but I felt like it's a flick that deserves some attention.

And can I just throw some love out there for The Hangover? You know, comedies get shit on, but it's one of the better put together movies out there. There is a vision that Todd Phillips had, a goal that he meant to achieve, and he did so astoundingly well. You can't say that what he did is any less of an achievement than what the folks who did Precious or (dare I say it, without having seen it) The Blind Side did. The same goes for performances: You can't tell me that Zach Galifianakis screaming that there are Skittles in his bag & that his buddies are now part of his wolfpack to make you laugh (and doing it without a nod of irony at any point) is any less of an achievement than Jeff Bridges being pathetic & panicky at losing a kid, and making you the viewer tense up because of it in Crazy Heart.

Not to compare the performances. Or, isn't that what you have to do with those five guys nominated in dramas?

Yeah. It's all silly. Mostly stuff to talk about over a beer, I guess.

Anyway. There was a lot in 2009 that I didn't see, that I wanted to. The three listed above, I guess. I never got to see Where the Wild Things Are, though it just came out on DVD. The Fantastic Mr. Fox, as well (and given what's been said by people I trust, there's a good chance I'll like it better than Up, as well). Work and real life being what it is, I just didn't have time.

As for individual performances? I liked Crazy Heart a lot, and Jeff Bridges wouldn't bother me at all if he won Best Actor. Jeremy Renner (and just about everybody) in Hurt Locker is strong, too. I haven't seen any of the other three movies for which Morgan Freeman, George Clooney and Colin Firth are nominated.

I have seen only Gidourey Sidibe in Precious. I've always liked Helen Mirren, though.

Christoph Waltz absolutely makes Inglourious Basterds, and the opening scene in the Farmhouse may end up in my favorite scenes in movies, ever. My friend Rachel describes him as her favorite German actor. It was the first time I remember running across him, but I've definitely noted him for future viewing.

I've previously noted my thoughts on Maggie Gyllenhall, but MoNique is fucking scary in Precious. I'd give the Oscar to her, if only because I don't want her going crazy in that room, and potentially hurting Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.

As for Director? Kathryn Bigelow has something on her hands to be very proud of, with The Hurt Locker, and I'll be rooting for her. Quentin did a fine job with his romp in Basterds.

If Jim Cameron wins for Avatar? We riot. We have an entire set of categories for technical achievement. Making a very pretty flick on a simple template and wooden dialog does not make you the Best Director.

Anyway. Them's my thoughts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical. ........................................

5:06 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home