Oscars 2009

Hey, did you guys know the Oscars are on Sunday night?

Calm down, calm down. It’s just an awards ceremony. Just take a deep breath.

Well, as some of you may recall, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to watch the Best Pic noms before the Oscars start. However, it seems that most of these movies didn’t even premiere until December, which would have entailed lots and lots of cash spent on movie tickets in a time of my life where I do not have cash aplenty.

I did the best I could, and I resolve to be better prepared for next year’s awards.

That being said, here’s my take on what I *did* get to see, although I am still having trouble picking and All Time Fave. Probably because I am a very indiscriminate movie watcher. I’d give them all awards, I tell you.

I. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

My impressions: Completely captivating. Ever seen a 3 hour movie where you took your time in the bathroom because, well, you’re getting a little tired of staring at a screen? This is not one of those 3 hour movies.

The high points: Obviously the CGI and makeup and other hiiiii-technicaaaaal elements were top notch. The boy and I loved the decadent New Orleans setting. And it was a real romantic tearjerker, if you like that kind of thing.

The lows: A little obtuse at times – still didn’t get that whole thing with the clockmaker – and afterward, I came to realize exactly how Over The Top the movie was. I guess that’s what you gotta do when you’re aiming for a blockbuster, but it just felt like the directors were sitting around going LET’S! MAKE! THE! BEST! MOST! EPIC! MOVIE! EVER! Think Titanic without the Real Life Tragedy aspect, or Forrest Gump without some of the charm.

Best Pic? I think it has a good chance, but again, I kind of like a little more subtlety – give the underdogs a chance. Brad Pitt for Best Actor? Exactly how can Brad Pitt win when his character was completely CGI’d for half the movie? Not that I have anything against his performance or anything, but come on! Taraji P. Henson for Supporting Actress? I liked her performance, but I don’t think her character had much weight in this film, so I don’t see her as a contender.

II. Frost/Nixon

My impressions: I enjoyed this movie, although I did find my attention drifting at times… but by the time the interviews started, I was riveted. I really liked the faux documentary feel, complete with talking heads, and was so very impressed with Frank Langella’s performance.

The high points: The film was a good balance between serious suspense (are these guys REALLY going to go broke on a crap interview?) and goofy, Underdog almost-comedy. The acting was excellent and the parts well-cast.

The low points: The boy left obviously feeling “eh” about it, which is a pretty good indicator that the movie had little redeeming popular interest (which I think is actually important for a movie – even if it’s the most finely made piece of art, I don’t care unless anyone actually wants to see it) and I’ve heard rumor that the plot wasn’t *exactly* historically accurate.

Best Pic? Would be a huge upset. I don’t think the movie has the balls to stand up to the competition, really. Frank Langella, Best Actor? I’ll be rooting for him. That man WAS Richard Nixon as far as I’m concerned. Although I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing Sean Penn in Milk or Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler so maybe I’m totally off.

III. Slumdog Millonaire

My impressions: Love, love, loved it. Although the previews made it seem a LOT crazier than it was, I wasn’t disappointed in the least. Very innovative, interesting film without feeling like an innovative, interesting film, if you know what I mean.

The high points: The love story was completely believable without the EPIC quality of some aforementioned romantic plot lines – I really felt alongside the main characters. The cinematography, imho, was great – the vibrant locales were almost as compelling as the story.

The low points: Hmm… can I think of any? Well, ah, I guess this one’s getting a lot of hype. Which means, of course, that it must really, secretly suck, right?

Best Pic? No acting nods for this film, so I think this one might be a shoo-in…. although I spose Best Director is still on the table, too.

IV. The Visitor

My impressions: I found this movie very tender and quiet, and kind of wished it was a book and not a movie. Richard Jenkin’s character is unusual, he’s a lonely, anti-social professor with a lot of issues – but he comes off as so pained and innocent that you feel sympathy, even though you suspect he might not deserve it.

The high points: The screenplay explores a number of real life conflicts in America that I don’t think people acknowledge – do people really sit around and think about immigration law and how brutal and unforgiving it can be? And the musical element of the movie adds great dimension, I think.

The low points: Not really a lot of impact here. You walk into the movie and leave pretty much the same. And the ending, I thought, was needlessly bleak. Maybe I’m just too much of an optimist these days šŸ™‚

Richard Jenkins for Best Actor? His performance was so subtle, I think, that he will be overlooked.

V. Frozen River

My impressions: This movie sucked me in more than I expected – movies on DVD tend to bore me/put me to sleep – but this one I actually finished in one day! Shock! Anyway, I really liked it. The story had a good mix of family drama (when Dad runs off with the money intended for their new double-wide, it puts Ray and her two boys in a real tough place) and action-y suspense (when Ray gets involved in the smuggling of illegal aliens on a Mohawk reservation, driving her car over the frozen St. Laurence River, it’s pretty inevitable that there will be gunshots and police chases).

The high points: Loved the slips between steady shots and a more shaky, documentary-like camera style. And let me say that this is the first movie with a family-driven plotline that included a teenager that wasn’t surly, angry, and actually loved his brother and parents? Ray’s teenage son really made the movie for me. However, Melissa Leo held her own, putting a really fresh take on the Erin Brockovich-mom role of martyr/mom/doing what she has to do to keep her family safe.

The low points: It is REALLY bleak. I spose it all works out in the end (SORT OF), but it’s not happy enough to make up for all the gray and ice, the gloom and can anything REALLY GO ANY WORSE kind of plot.

Melissa Leo for Best Actress? Hmmm… I’m not sure her work here was THAT good, and if I’d seen Rachel Getting Married I’d probably say otherwise (I have a real big soft spot for Anne Hathaway), but I think she deserves the nom, if not the win.

VI. The Dark Knight

My impressions: Wow, it’s been a long time since I saw this one, but I recall being impressed. I recall wondering why it was so dang long, but being otherwise engaged… and I have been known to fall asleep in super hero movies, sooooo that’s saying something šŸ™‚

The highs: What kind of a SEQUEL totally outdoes the original? I loved all the plot twists, the last minute turnarounds, and the dark-dark-DARK ambiance of Gotham City.

The lows: Again, it was a little bit… um… excessively long.

Heath Ledger for Best Supporting Actor? Um, yeah. I think he’s going to win AND I think he deserves it. First of all, Big Summer Blockbusters NEVER get anywhere critically, so the fact that his performance transcended that bias gives him a leg up. Also, he was a supporting actor, VILLIAN who completely stole the movie. Batman who? Oh yeah, and he died.

So who are you rooting for? Any I missed that will just blow my opinions out of the water?


2 Comments to “Oscars 2009”

  1. Oh I love the Oscars. Nothing like watching people get all dressed up and give tearful acceptance speeches.

    I think you’re right about Heath Ledger. He deserves that award. What an amazing performance from what is being categorized as a “Supporting Role.” Dude, that was the role in the movie.

    • I think Mr. Ledger has been getting a lot of (posthumous) crap for the nomination – like he’s the sympathy vote… but whatevs, he rocked that movie HARD.

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