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Best Picture!

So, with the Oscars coming up, I made sure to see all five of the Best Picture films.

Here are my thoughts, without spoilers.

I thought this movie had beautiful cinematography, and Saoirse Ronan, the young girl who plays young Briony Tallis, who's been nominated for Best Supporting, definitely deserves the nomination, although the little girl who plays young Lola is exceptional in her tiny role. Keira Knightley was very good in a role that breaks out of her usual 'type' and James McAvoy was very good as well.

I didn't feel like the main "twist" of the story, which is more effective in a written novel, works very well in a movie. The last five minutes seem like a tacked-on afterthought and it's not as powerful. While it was a good romantic drama, I don't think like it broke any new ground and I was a bit surprised to see it nominated.

Juno was an outstanding, really outstanding comedy, and I remember walking out of the film being truly impressed with Ellen Paige's performance in this movie-- seeing an actress that young who can navigate so smoothly between comedic and serious, heavy dramatic performance is really refreshing and I was pleased to see her nominated. Best picture? Compared to Atonement and Michael Clayton, yes, because it was a very refreshing twist on a teen comedy with excellent writing that tackled a lot of Serious Issues without ever being preachy or making moral judgments. Compared to No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood? I don't even think it's in the same league.

While I am a big fan of Tilda Swinton, after seeing this, I was surprised at the supporting nomination for her in what is a good job in a fairly bland role. Tom Wilkinson was the highlight of this movie-- George Clooney was good, but he was playing a typical George Clooney role and didn't do anything outstanding or anything we've never seen from him before. Wilkinson definitely deserved the supporting nomination and in a year that didn't have Javier Bardem, I'd expect him to take this one. The movie was worth seeing for Tom Wilkinson, but other than that, I found this movie to be pretty typical popcorny suspense and not really something I'd expect to win a role. Shoddy editing to cover up for a lack of real tension does not add tension, and the attempt at creating dissonance in the timeline just plain didn't work in this film.

I love the Coen Brothers and I felt like this was an excellent addition to their CV. I felt like this movie made some really important statements about the direction of film and audiences in contemporary America and why the Western died as a genre at the end of the last century. Does it offer up any explanations for why it's slowly coming back? http://www.livejournal.com/update.bml
Post an Entry I'm not sure. But I thought this was a truly fabulous movie. However, I also felt like it wasn't so accessible to a mainstream audience to necessarily be a Best Picture; I'm not sure. The highlight of this film is definitely Bardem's supporting role, and he's my pick for that award, which might be the most competitive category this year.

I tend to have a love-hate relationship with PT Anderson's work-- I love his characters, hate his pacing and stories (or lack thereof, which is usually the problem for me). There Will Be Blood felt like the movie where he finally got it right. Every single element in this film was perfect for me-- the soundtrack, with its dramatic and discordant swells reminiscent of old silent films, was chilling, and Daniel Day-Lewis should be able to pocket the Oscar right now for an absolutely brilliant, brilliant role. I was surprised Paul Dano wasn't nominated for his equally creepy and sympathetic character, but like I said, it is probably the most competitive category this year. The sweeping scenery, the feeling of desperation that the entire film evokes is wonderful, and while I feel like my personal favorite this year is No Country, I think that this is definitely a more universally powerful film that manages to use an important contemporary issue and look at its history in this country through a fictional tale, so this is my pick to win.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 7th, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
I love the Coen Brothers as well and desperately wish to see No Country, but it's a bit difficult for me to get out. How would you say it stacks up against their other films?
Feb. 7th, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
It's definitely my favorite of the movies up for best picture, and probably one of the most important movies of recent years, from a film geek perspective. The only reason it's not my pick for Best Movie is because I think that There Will Be Blood is a bit more timely and more accessible to a regular audience. Javier Bardem, who plays the villain, is absolutely in-freaking-credible.

My other favorite Coen brothers movies are Barton Fink and O Brother, Where Art Thou? I think it's probably as groundbreaking as O Brother, in that it completely messes with ideas of archetype and legend, but not in the same way O Brother does, because it's mainly focused on doing it within the realm of film genres. I liked it much better than The Man Who Wasn't There, which is probably the closest thing to this they've tried to do in the past, but I felt like No Country was much more successful. It doesn't have nearly as much of the offbeat comedic feeling that you get even from some of their thrillers, though. Even the funny bits in this are uncomfortably funny and a bit chilling.

I posted a really long post of my reactions to it here if you want more!
Feb. 7th, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you!

My absolute favorite is Barton Fink, which to me makes perfect use of their absurdism (though really one can see it in all their films.) I'm rather disappointed that there do not seem to be more funny bits that are just funny in this one. (Leg in a wood chipper? Classic.) Still, seeing a really stellar performance will be worth the price of admission alone, and from all I have heard Javier Bardem really deserves to take the award. My guess is he will, but that the film won't win best picture.
Feb. 7th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
I'll just copy and paste my spoiler-free reactions on the ones I've seen from my journal, since I just posted them a few days ago...

Juno: It was cute, I enjoyed it, but I don't know if I'd really watch it again. I think my expectations were too high - I expected to LOVE it, but I felt like the dialogue was way too forced and unrealistic and although I liked the story, I tend to favor movies where things either blow up a lot or the comedy is more refined. The acting was great, though, and like I said, I liked it for what it was. Also, I'm basically guaranteed to like any movie that Allison Janney was in, and she certainly didn't let me down in this. Love, love, love her.

No Country for Old Men: Ok. So, this movie is definitely amazingly well-done. It's smart, it's interesting, and it has something to say. However, I would certainly never call it "fun to watch." In my opinion, the film isn't really about the plot, it's about what does and does not happen in the plot. If that makes sense. It's trying to convey a message about modern America, about the West, and about the classic Western genre of film. At least, that's what I got from it. The ending is jarring, but it certainly gets a point across. Oh, and it has quite possibly the scariest villain I've seen in a long time.

There Will Be Blood: This movie actually reminded me a lot of No Country for Old Men, which I wasn't expecting. I also wasn't expecting it to be so entirely depressing. As we left the theatre, my friend said to me, "I don't think I liked a single character in that movie." It's really interesting to watch a film in which you're not really rooting for anyone. The actors are all INCREDIBLE and really make the film, which is really a piece which is more about what is done than what is said. Daniel Day Lewis is one of my all-time favorite actors, and if you liked him in this movie and haven't seen Gangs of New York, I definitely recommend that you remedy that situation.
Feb. 7th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
That was probably the thing I liked best in There Will Be Blood. The fact that scenes went like this:

DDL: *Does something*
Tea: You asshole!
Paul Dano: *Does something*
Tea: You asshole!
Feb. 7th, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
Hahaha, yeah, it really made the impression upon me that it doesn't matter how many nice things you say - if you do douchebaggery things, it makes you a douchebag.
Feb. 7th, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC)
I have no idea why Paul Dano wasn't nominated. He was outstanding. :D The mise-en-scene for the ending was perfection. I'm so loving this movie.
Feb. 7th, 2008 10:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Other than the fact that I hated every moment of it, I feel the same way about Juno as far as Ellen Page's performance was. I was shocked to see it nominated for best picture.

TWBB is my hope to win, but I think that No Country will get it.

The long takes in Blood were stunning. It's good to see an American movie that doesn't look like it was edited by a hyperactive 12 year old. The scene with the derrick on fire is one of the most intense things I've seen in a long time.
Feb. 7th, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you.
The only reason I think No Country might get it over TWBB is because the Coens are kinda due. I think No Country was a more interesting film, but TWBB was stunning.
Feb. 8th, 2008 03:38 am (UTC)
I have only seen Juno and Atonement, but i agree with you spot on about the last few minutes of Atonement. I just thought it was so strangely done. It really did seem like an afterthought.

I loved Juno, but I'm surprised it's up for a nomination for best picture. It was super an all, but it doesn't seem like the kind of movie they usually pick, which is good I guess!

Now, I really should go see the others!
Feb. 8th, 2008 04:49 am (UTC)
The last five minutes seem like a tacked-on afterthought and it's not as powerful. While it was a good romantic drama, I don't think like it broke any new ground and I was a bit surprised to see it nominated.

So it's quite true to the book then? Those are four hours of my life I'll never get back!
Feb. 8th, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)
Fairly so. If you didn't like the book, I'm not sure how you'll feel about the movie. Some of the early sequences where Briony thinks she's seeing something different from what actually happened are very well done on film.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )