A quick round up of Oscar nominated movies, FWIW.
The Hurt Locker:
The opening of the movie is a very shaky low-fi footage from robotic camera, giving it an ordinary documentary feel. But from the moment the first bomb went off, in what would be the signature shot of the movie – super slomo, the movie was so engrossing that one forgot about everything else. The creeping tension – for even scenes with 2 dialogues and no action lasting several minutes, is of high quality. When any day can be the last day of your life, people become edgy/ careless, and bare out their dark sides – “he is trying to be a hero, but is being stupid. he will get us all killed. why dont we just kill him? accidents happen all the time” or the reckless sides, removing protective gear while trying to diffuse a car bomb saying “there is enough powder here to send us all to jesus, so i might as well go in comfort” etc.
Choosing the cereal scene, and the completely unexpected, totally genuine ‘lessons-for-life’ to the infant about keeping passions in life, leading to the end of the movie is just brilliant. It may not win Best Picture or Director due to other popular entries, but the movie is a lesson on how to write a screenplay. And certainly can win the original screenplay category. Or if the academy grows some sense before voting, best director as well. It was pleasing to see Renner getting a best actor nomination for an unpolished, true to the last bit performance. Intense, and a must watch.
Up in the Air:
It is impossible to imagine anyone other that Clooney playing the role of Ryan Bingham. What Tom Cruise used to do, or what Brad Pitt tried, Clooney has just mastered (from Ocean’s 11 to Michael Clayton and now Up in the Air). He takes to these cool, savvy, suit-clad, tongue in cheek, 40-something characters like a duck to water.
Up in the Air is about a professional who makes a living out of firing people, and always on the move, up in the air. Since he is a frequent traveller, he keeps his luggage and life very light (“last year I travelled for 322 days of the year, which meant that I spent 43 miserable days at home”, or “if life is a backpack, and it is on fire, what would you save from it?”). His seemingly shallow world is seemingly rocked when technology tends to take his job. Excellent supporting cast as well – both supporting actresses got nominated, along with script (probably win as well) and direction. The best part about the movie is that it doesnt do an oh-so-predictable “Jerry Maguire” all-izz-well-ending and embrace reality. Must watch.
The Blind Side:
Certainly not a best picture candidate, and will pale away in front of a Hurt Locker, or without Sandra Bullock. Frankly, I am not a fan of Bullock. Somehow her on screen presence always irritated me, regardless of the role (Chris Waltz’s SS Colonel in Inglorious B was irritating, or if someone recall the preachy lady from The Mist, but those are written so). Take Urmila; she was good in Rangeela, and that’s it. Or like Aishwarya Rai in Hum Dil De Chuke and nothing else.
Anyways, Sandra Bullock’s only other watchable movies – for me – were Speed and Crash, both for entirely different reasons. And I will go on one limb and say that this movie is watchable just for Sandra Bullock’s acting. She was amazing. It could be because so much was stacked against her, that we get very very pleasantly surprised by her performance in this movie – about a white family fostering a black boy and supports him on his way to big leagues. Will she win? Possibly, due to sentiments.
If somebody can stop Sandra Bullock from winning the best actress, it will be Carey Mulligan. The fact that she is unknown or it is a less known British movie doesnt help her, but she was outstanding in the most fresh coming of age movie in a long time. And without doubt some of the best dialogues written for a movie after last year’s Doubt. The movie is all about Carey, a 16 year old school girl in mid 60’s in a convent in England and about her ‘hands-on’ education of life. The ending is one of the most intriguing one in recent times, without looking to complete the entire circle – a good sign of believing in the imaginative capabilities of the audience. Studios cannot do such a thing, only a British indy can.
Most original alien movie in 30 years since Ridley Scot’s Alien. Must watch for excellent script, subtle undertones and realistic movie making (unheard of in sci-fi; while we are at it, let me also recommend Moon, another brilliant sci-fi movie from last year). Must watch, but since it went against the US norms of Alien movies, it has no chance of winning any biggies. Reviewed before.
Reviewed before, another must watch. Some parts are quite a stretch, but the concept of chasing a dream in a house is certainly the adventure ride of the year. And add to that outstanding, touching music score and some amazing montage on story telling in the beginning of the movie. Coraline (another must watch, somewhat an animated take on Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind) might give it a run, but should win best animated feature.
Much has been written about Tarantino’s “best master piece” yet, and for many it may have fallen short of the expectations from a QT movie. But given the nomination for lesser movies like Blind Side, I am not surprised Inglorious got a nod into best picture, and best original screenplay.
Havent watched A Serious Man, Precious, or Avatar. I plan to catch on the first two, I am not sure if I want to watch Avatar though.