When I heard writer/director Adam McKay was doing a movie with Christian Bale (TERMINATOR SALVATION) playing Dick Cheney, I couldn’t picture what that would be, but I assumed I would love it. The former Saturday Night Live writer has much more experience in beloved Will Ferrell comedies than in Serious Important Movies, but I enjoyed THE BIG SHORT‘s novel and audacious attempt to make entertainment out of explaining the early 2000s housing bubble. Many worship ANCHORMAN or STEP BROTHERS, but for me it’s TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY that makes me laugh no matter which part I rewatch for the one-thousandth time on cable. Maybe people don’t think of it this, way, but to me it’s the best pop culture portrait of what was going on in our country during the Bush years. So I figured McKay had good instincts about this stuff. (read the rest of this shit…)
Posts Tagged ‘best picture nominees’
THE FAVOURITE is the best picture nominated latest from director Yorgos Lanthimos, who I know from THE LOBSTER. I’m behind on this guy because I still haven’t even seen DOGTOOTH, let alone THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER, but I get the feeling this is the least weird of his movies. It’s also the only one he doesn’t have a writing credit on, instead using a script by newcomer Deborah Davis (her first produced screenplay, even though she wrote the first draft 20 years ago!) and Australian TV writer Tony McNamara. It’s a historical costume drama about palace intrigue, nothing conceptually crazy going on here, but it has a distinctive off-kilter feel and biting humor not always beholden to things people would’ve said at the time. (read the rest of this shit…)
Of all the stories we tell over and over, “coming of age” might be the most universal. I don’t care who you are, as long as you live to be a certain age, at some point you’re gonna come of some of that age. And when you see some fictional (or, let’s be honest, usually semi-autobiographical) character’s age coming of you can compare and contrast to your experiences. You see echoes of your own life, revive emotions that were so potent at the time, now faded, learn about other people who had it different. So I have not specifically experienced being a girl in a private school in Sacramento in the oughts, and I definitely have no personal understanding of how it feels to be someone who could identify a song as Dave Mathews and have an emotional response to it that involves embarrassment, nostalgia and personal meaning*, but I can also see those things on screen and have them feel familiar and real and relatable.
(*I did see him in public one time and I could tell he was famous by the women who started gathering around him but I had to ask somebody else who he was) (read the rest of this shit…)
HACKSAW RIDGE is a twisted, uninhabitable mass of rock with a steep edge and riddled with secret caves, one of which is home to 2×4-carrying WWF legend “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. But there is no movie about that so until then we’ll have to make do with director Mel Gibson (APOCALYPTO)’s identically titled HACKSAW RIDGE, the best-picture-nominated movie based on the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN), the only WWII Medal of Honor recipient who was a conscientious objector. See, he wanted to do his part to fight Hitler, but he didn’t believe in killing or even touching a gun, so he went as a medic and was really fucking good at saving people’s lives. A reverse AMERICAN SNIPER.
I wonder if he traveled through time if he would kill Baby Hitler, or just try to give first aid to other babies fighting against Baby Hitler? It really makes you think.
The first half or so is before he goes to war. We see him as a little shit, constantly running and climbing and getting in violent scraps with his brother Hal, with no intervention from his drunk asshole dad (Hugo Weaving, BABE), a WWI veteran. Desmond could easily turn into the town bully, but maybe it’s his intense devotion to the family’s Ten Commandments poster that ensures he’s a big dork by the time he grows into Garfield. On one INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE style conveniently fateful day he discovers the two other loves of his life, because he 1) rushes to heroic action in administering a tourniquet and getting an injured person to a hospital where 2) he spots a beautiful nurse (Teresa Palmer, POINT BREAK remake) and decides he will marry her.
But not until his first furlough, because shortly after successfully wooing her he announces that he has to enlist. (read the rest of this shit…)
LION is one of those movies I never heard anybody talk about, but the Weinstein Company somehow got it a best picture nomination. That’s okay – it’s a well made movie and a powerful story, the kind of thing you go to this time of year and you cry and you’re uplifted and in this case I feel no shame about it. It’s based on the memoir of Saroo Brierley, who when he was a dirt poor peasant kid in India got very lost and never found his way back for 25 years.
Sunny Pawar as 5-year-old Saroo is one of those situations like past best picture nominees ROOM or BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD where a director (Australian TV guy making his feature debut Garth Davis) gets an almost supernaturally good performance out of a tiny little kid. Raised by a single mother (Priyanka Bose, JOHNNY GADDAAR) whose job is moving rocks, Saroo and his brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) go out in the day and find ways to scrounge up a little something, like they hop a train to steal coal to sell to buy two little baggies of milk.
The disaster comes when Guddu leaves Saroo at a train station while he goes to do something he says is only for bigger kids. Saroo falls asleep and is scared when he wakes up and his brother’s still not back. Looking for him he slips onto a train which, to his terror, starts moving before he can get off. It’s an empty train so he ends up trapped and traveling for days, finally getting off somewhere where they don’t speak Bengali. The feeling of helplessness is overwhelming. He’s in this terrible situation and he can’t even tell anyone. They just think he’s an annoying kid blocking them from the ticket window. They push him out of the way. (read the rest of this shit…)
As you may have noticed, this week I’m doing some leading-up-to-the-Oscars-on-Sunday reviews. This one here completes my best-picture-nominees checklist, and then I’m gonna do a few less acclaimed previous movies from some of the nominees or people involved with the nominated films.
I know, I know. The Oscars don’t mean anything, blah blah blah. You know, the Super Bowl doesn’t prove who the best football player is either, but I don’t begrudge football fans for enjoying watching it. I like watching the Oscars every year and rooting for movies I like and against ones that I don’t like. I have no illusions about it being real important or an accurate scientific measurement of artistic worth or anything stupid like that, so skip the condescending lecture this year. I’ll just re-read the ones I got last year and the year before and the year before and repeat if desired.
The fact is I have fun watching the Oscars and I like to see all of the best picture nominees beforehand. As a non-professional critic and with the up-to-10-nominees they have now this is somewhat of an achievement, I think, and it forces me to watch some things I normally wouldn’t get around to. Before the nominations came out I was hoping the not-great buzz on LES MISERABLES would spare me having to sit through it, but no dice. So a couple weekends ago I saw AMOUR and the next weekend I capped it off with a Miserable Sunday.
Hollywood is always trying to shove these movies down our throats that are just about a bunch of Hollywood bullshit, like a kid and his talking horse use teleportation to win the Super Bowl, or there’s a serial killer holding a fighting tournament in the sewers to prove his love for a girl, or whatever all these popular movies are now, I would never watch them so I wouldn’t know. But it’s all super heroes and comics books and nothing for the rest of us. What about the grown ups who don’t want to see IRON SPIDER RISES PART 32 or STAR WARS IN THE DARKNESS, we just want to see a nice movie about a French couple in their 80s being miserable in their apartment as the wife becomes increasingly mentally and physically debilitated and the husband has to feed and bathe her and they’re both completely tormented by pain and boredom and we watch in long, static shots as they cry and look off into the distance and agonizingly wait for the sweet comfort of death? No wonder there’s all this piracy and video games, if Hollywood won’t deliver what the people really want. For what we want we gotta go to Michael Haneke.
(read the rest of this shit…)