Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Nominees, Pt. 2

I did it! I have seen all 10 Oscar Best Picture Nominees! When AMC offered its showcase of the nominees, I jumped at the chance to cross every film off my list. Last weekend, I wrote about the first five movies shown. The above picture shows the five up this weekend. I had seen two of them before this weekend ("Up In The Air" and "Inglourious Basterds"). Here are my thoughts on these five films.


An Education
This was the only movie I knew absolutely nothing about. I have no problem blindly watching a movie. Sometimes, I think it's better not to know what a movie is about. I find I'm often surprised by how much I like it. That was the case with this one. Carey Mulligan is nominated for an Oscar for her performance in this. She plays a teenager whose father wants her to get into Oxford. She wants to study English and live in Paris. Then comes Peter Sarsgaard's character - an older, mysterious and experienced man. They fall in love. Her real education begins with this man. Like many teenagers, she thinks she has life all figured out. She considers changing what she believed she wanted to be a part of her man's life. When it all falls apart, she goes back to what she always wanted. I smiled through much of this film. A true sign I loved it: I came right home and downloaded the quirky foreign soundtrack! The more I think about this movie, the more I love it. Also, if any of you know of a time machine that will allow me to travel back to 1960s London, please let me know!

The Hurt Locker
When this movie came out, I thought, "Great. Another war movie." So, I skipped it, weekend after weekend, often choosing lighter films. I wish I would not have done that. This movie is absolutely worth seeing! I was super excited to see Guy Pearce in the beginning of this movie. As much as I love him, I cannot imagine this film not being carried by Jeremy Renner. He is crazy. War crazy. I would never in a million years want to defuse bombs for a living. Anyone who likes handling things that go BOOM! can keep that job. I'll watch from a distance with my hands over my eyes. I'm sure that in the years to come, there will be many more movies to explore the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I hope they handle them with the same care as Kathryn Bigelow. To say I was blown away by this film would be cliche. But I was moved by this. I'll root for this one tonight!

Up In The Air
FULL DISCLOSURE: I love George Clooney. That said, I also love his movie choices. To play a guy with an awful job (flying from city to city to lay off often unsuspecting employees) and still be likable - well, that takes talent! Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga are also amazing in this. Kendrick plays an eager co-worker of Clooney's. She does high-strung well. And Farmiga - how have I never seen her before this? She becomes more than just a hook-up for Clooney's character. I have to admit, seeing Clooney play a guy who has no attachments wasn't hard for me to imagine (hello, Mr. Bachelor). But willing him to open up and consider a different path (or flight, as a good portion of this movie is in an airport) was worth every second. I only wish I had the miles his character has - to travel the world and not pay a dime? Yes, please!

The Blind Side
This was another movie I resisted. I don't really have a good reason. I just never made this a priority, despite the rave reviews from friends. Plus, even though it's based on a true story, it just seemed too good to be true. Seeing Quinton Aaron as the (literally) larger than life kid who desperately needs a family hooked me from the beginning. This may surprise you, but I really do have a special place in my heart for kids who are on their own - even if they have a home. Every kid needs someone to tell him/her that there is a better world for them. There is no limit to what each child can accomplish! There. I feel better! This super-sized kid with a heart of gold melts many. This movie takes on racism and the education system (two things that nearly kept this kid from succeeding). I know there is much more to this story than was in the movie, but I hope it does more than make people feel good. I hope it inspires more people to recognize the potential in kids and encourage them to follow their dreams - no matter how big they are.

Inglorious Basterds
I am hot and cold with Quentin Tarantino. Loved "Reservoir Dogs." Loved "Pulp Fiction." Did not love "From Dusk Till Dawn." Liked "Jackie Brown." Didn't care for "Kill Bill." I was cautiously optimistic about this one. Brad Pitt is the big name in this movie. But Christoph Waltz steals this film! I was not only amazed by his ability to speak many languages, but his ability to charm while slaughter - wow! If he does not win an Oscar for this performance, I'd be surprised. For a movie about killing Nazis, this did not feel as violent as I would have thought. Don't get me wrong, there is bloodshed in this movie. But at no point did I say, "Enough!" Perhaps that's because I know the history here. Still, this is one of Tarantino's best films. I'd like to see it win Best Picture, but I won't hold my breath.
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