I guess I'm coming to this post a wee late, as the Oscar winners have already been announced, but oh, well. Last week I attended the first half of the best picture showcase, which showed four movies: War Horse, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and The Descendants (click to read part I). Yesterday, I spent another whole day in the movie theater in order to watch the last five of the movies nominated for best picture.
Movie #5 - Hugo
A young orphaned boy lives inside the walls of the train station and keeps the clocks wound, while trying to finish fixing the automaton his father had been working on before he died. Along the way he discovers secrets and uncovers mysteries. It's a whimsical movie, very much from a child's point of view, and I loved it the second time as much as I did the first.
Movie #6 - The Help
A young woman, looking for inspiration for her work as a writer, decides to interview black maids in Jackson MI, in order to allow them to tell their side. I had already seen this movie, and I kinda love it, even if it does present aspects of Hollywood's ongoing issues with race. Viola Davis is fantastic, truly amazing in the way she brings depth to every scene, every moment she's in on screen. It's kinda corny to say, I laughed and I cried, but that's exactly what I did.
Movie #7 - Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
After his father dies, a young boy goes on a search through New York to find the lock that fits the key his father left behind. Along the way, he meets and connects with tons of people who are moved by his search. I wept, serious heavy tears while watching this movie, though I'm a weeper at movies. That's just me. I cry easily.
However, the movie started off really slow. It was hard to connect or care about the characters right away, and the voice offer narration was really clunky and awkward in the beginning. At one point, the kid says in voice over that he's going to go open the closet door, and then he walks over and opens the closet door, which is just a lazy waste of narration. It got better (hence my tears), but even so, there are still some major oddities about this movie, character behaviors that are a hard time to accept, especially in the adults. So, while I wept and I liked this movie to a degree, I certainly didn't love it.
Movie #8 - The Artist
A '20s silent film star falls apart when talkies overtake silent films, making him irrelevant. The movie is filmed in the style of classic silent films, almost entirely without sound with cut screens of text to represent the dialog. I say almost without sound, as there are few moments where the director allowed sound to enter the film to clever and brilliant effect. The Artist is really incredible, and I was pleasantly surprised at how charming, funny, and genuinely entertaining it was.
Movie #9 - Midnight in Paris
A man is traveling in Paris with his fiancee. He'd in love with the romantic allure of Paris, especially with Paris as he imagined it was the 1920s. As he's wandering the streets, he discovers that at midnight each night he can find his way into the past era he adores. This was clever and hilarious, and is definitely my favorite Woody Allen movie. I am absolutely in love with all the writers and artists (I won't tell you who, as discovering is part of the fun) the main character meets in his journeys through time. Loved it.
* * * *
I can't say I'm surprised that The Artist won best picture. It's creative enough in format and is really a great movie, though Midnight in Paris and Hugo are my personal favorites.
As for the rest of the winners, I'm disappointed that Viola Davis didn't win best actress. Yes, Meryl Streep did an amazing bit of acting in The Iron Lady, but she's won so many awards before, and in terms of merit, Davis was at least her equal in her performance.
The only other category that elicited a strong reaction from me was best song, because I am absolutely stoked that "Man or Muppet" won. Finding that out makes me deliriously happy.
Andrea Blythe's blog about writing, reading, and everything else
- Best Picture Showcase - Part II