This is the second of three posts I’ve planned on the Oscar nominees for best picture. It has taken a while to watch all nine. We finally finished last night with a showing of “The Artist.” It is such an obscurely released film that we had to drive almost 45 minutes just to find a theater that was showing it. Right now I am giving initial reactions to the last four films. You can read my summary of the other five at my post WATCHING BEST PICTURE NOMINEES. Sometime next week, probably Monday, I am going to post my third collection of observations in which I pick a winner and speak about the group as a whole.
The Artist–This is the film most people think will win. I can see why. Not only is it creative, but the plot, acting, and editing are delightful. By creative I am referring to the radical employment of being both a nearly silent movie and in black and white. The beautiful part of the movie going experience is that once this film drags you in, you forget both that the rainbow is absent and that there is little sound. The theater we saw it in showed it in 35 MM. Now, as I watched the film, I could hear the reel in the background. It is a sound I haven’t heard in a while and I wondered, and still wonder, was that the actual reel in the theater or was that a sound effect because, it made the watching experience so much richer.
Hugo–This is my wife’s pick to win and my youngest daughter had read the book in the school library. Hugo is a great film for families and the cast is, from top to bottom, stellar. The two children, particularly Asa Butterfield as Hugo, carry their weight well opposite such titans as Ben Kingsley and Christopher “Count Dooku” Lee. Even Sacha Baron Cohen, whom I normally detest, did great. The movie was disciplined in its storytelling and measured in its movements. Bravo Martin Scorsese.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close–Again, this is another great film, but It is not in the same category as the above two. I’ll give more details in my next post, but for now, it is just not there. The boy, Thomas Horn, is really good but he gets lost in the bigness of the story. A movie that has this many moving parts needs to convince me that I am in a dream world (like Hugo does) or convince me that somehow this whole situation, as absurd as it seems, is plausible (As War Horse does). Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close do neither. It is a good film, but not good enough.
The Descendants–Let me go positive before I go negative. On the positive; the people portrayed in the film remind me so much of real people. The George Clooney character, I’ve met that guy. His marriage is a disaster and his kids are out of control and if something were to go terribly wrong, he’d have no idea of where to even start–emotionally, physically, or spiritually. That teenage daughter of his and her pothead boyfriend are people I often see at church. That is the positive side of The Descendants–it touches reality. The negatives of the film are that the editing is lose and stringy and the plot is plodding. This film somehow makes a devastating boat crash, marital infidelity, terminal illness, wayward children, and rich real estate developers boring.