I’ll be starting my annual countdown just a little bit late this year as there are a few more 2012 movies I want to make sure to see. Anyone have any movies I should absolutely make sure to see before I call it a year?
I thought Fast & Furious 6 was pretty fantastic. The hyperbolic bombast led to a sense of ridiculous fun all too often forgotten in summer blockbusters. I’ve got plenty of thoughts on the film, but as the opening credits rolled, I came to a surprising realization. (Caution: one minor spoiler below.)
Guess how many people from the film are proud Spirit Award nominees?
This swaggiest of Hollywood sequels contains at least four!
Director Justin Lin was nominated for the John Cassevetes award for Better Luck Tomorrow. He lost to the team behind The Station Agent, a film I find quite wonderful.
Michelle Rodriguez won Best Debut Performance for her role in Girlfight. Other nominees included Rory Culkin, Mike White, and the simply amazing Emmy Rossum.
John Ortiz returns to the franchise in this installment. He was nominated for the truly horrible Jack Goes Boating, losing out to John Hawkes’s performance in Winter’s Bone.
And Thure Lindhardt was up for Best Male Lead in the most recent Spirit Awards for his turn in Keep the Lights On, also losing out to John Hawkes (The Sessions).
Now that you’ve read the pick by pick breakdown of our fantasy Cannes draft, let’s see what everyone’s strategy and thoughts were:
I struggled throughout with balancing what I actually thought could be good with what I felt the Frenchies at Cannes would actually think was good. I’m generally really pleased with my slate and with one lone exception, and presuming they turn out to be halfway decent, would be interested in seeing them. I used IonCinema’s countdown as my guide for these picks.
Team Name: The Long and Winding Refn
Going into the draft, my strategy was to lean towards the buzzworthy and Francophone. I wanted films from directors who seemed to be veterans of the film festival circuit, and perhaps due for a win or two. All told, I’m a little worried that I drafted with too strong an American bias, passing up great native performances for movies that belong more to this continent either in content or in casting. That said, I am happy with many of the movies in terms of their PR campaign and ability to seize the moment, and I look forward to the competition to find out if they are able to capitalize.
Earning admission to walk the Croisette is already the mark of a certain quality, so I was looking for things that set the films apart. I grabbed the only female- and African-helmed movies in competition, for example. Not sure I loved having last pick. I don’t mind my first-rounder, but picking on the end means I really couldn’t try to game the draft too much. I had a sneaking suspicion that Grisgris would have fallen back to me in round 3, for example, but didn’t make sense to risk it. I would be remiss if I didn’t link to Neil Young’s Cannes odds, which broke a tie or two for me. Ian also points out IonCinema’s two sets of odds, from Blake Williams and Nicholas Bell. And Guy Lodge’s series at InContention has been fantastic, and if it had a set link, I’d use it.
After the rousing success of fantasy Sundance, we are back with fantasy Cannes – Cannestasy as Ian so cleverly puts it. Point values are:
5 points – Palm d’Or
4 points – Grand Prix and Prize of Un Certain Regard
3 points – Jury Prize
2 Points – Director (including Camera d’Or), Actor, and Actress awards
1 Point – All other awards, including Palm Dog (which goes to the best dog in a film. Duh.)
The festival starts May 15th. You can find the list of films here, though I’ll note the list changed slightly during our draft (which, like all good drafts, was snaking). The awards are largely limited to the Competition and Un Certain Regard categories, so we only drafted movies in those programs.
Ian and Gavin joined in with Brian, John, and yours truly. And everyone was kind enough to contribute some thoughts about their picks. Except Gavin, who stayed silent in honor of Adam. To the draft!
Gavin – The Past (trailer)
Brian – Inside Llewyn Davis (trailer)
Going with an American film with my top pick was a huge risk, especially one that is distinctly American in setting, but the Coen brothers have had success at Cannes in the past. It also looks good and has strong buzz. I strongly considered Only God Forgives, but was sorely disappointed by Drive and really have no desire to see it. Since the stakes in this contest are so high, I wanted to be able to root for my films.
John – Like Father, Like Son
I steered away from big-name directors. After that, I just picked whatever seemed artsy fartsy but still approachable. I used Neil Young’s Cannes odds page as a guide. This family drama fit all the criteria.
Ian – Only God Forgives (trailer)
My first pick, may have been an early pick, but I actually had it even higher, at the top of the board. I don’t see nearly the amount of movies as the rest of my leaguemates, so I didn’t know much about the content of Drive. However, I do know a little bit about the hype cycle, and it seems to me from the outside that both Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling are ready to explode if Only God Forgives lives up to its pre-festival billing. They seem to be at a precipice for success, and I’d be surprised if the movie, director, and star aren’t all in contention for major awards. I also see a lot of the indie awards potentially headed their way, if these associations look to stay on trend. And hey, maybe it could win the Palm Dog.
Jared – The Immigrant
Cannes appears to be the only place that loves James Gray. But man, do they love themselves some James Gray, as this film is Gray’s fourth Palm d’Or nomination. Originally titled Lowlife, the film is set in 1920 New York, with Marion Cotillard playing a Polish immigrant who becomes a prostitute at the hands of Jeremy Renner and then falling in love with magician Joaquin Phoenix. The film has been buzzing, Gray seems a good candidate to step forward and reach his awards potential, and the cast should be strong play here as well.
Jared – Grisgris
Director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s prior effort, A Screaming Man, was nominated for the Palm d’Or in 2010 and won the Jury Prize. This one tells the story of a paralyzed man who dreams of being a dancer only to get involved with gasoline smugglers. Awards bait. The film is, I believe, the only one in competition with an African pedigree (the director is from Chad), which I think could help set it apart.
Ian – Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian
Could do similarly well, although there’s no way that title is making it to the States. Arnaud Desplechin is an auteur who’s been out of the game for a while, and who has frequently shown at Cannes without winning to date. If he isn’t due himself, then the jury could also see fit to throw a bauble Benicio del Toro’s way, since del Toro has reached the point of his career where every performance demands attention. The story appears to be structured as a two-hander with Mathieu Amalric, which sounds as though it has the ability to be arty, intense, and actor-driven. Also, there’s a chance that Benicio del Toro’s character has a faithful dog by his side.
John – Young & Beautiful (trailer)
“A contemporary portrait of a teenage girl, in four seasons and four songs.” Sounds appropriately artsy with an interesting conceit but not necessarily overly experimental. Plus Francois Ozon seems to have the requisite pedigree to win. Maybe one of the actresses can pick up an award.
Brian – Heli (clip)
Perhaps a reach, but the plot intrigued me (drug cartels, police corruption, sex espionage and a disappeared father)… FATHERS AND SONS, guys. And director Amat Escalante has had huge success with his first two films. Borrowing a page from fantasy football, where 3rd year wide receivers are always worth keeping an eye on, I figured the same held true for filmmakers. Also, really wanted Ian’s pick (Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian) to fall to me.
Gavin – Nebraska
Gavin – A Touch of Sin (trailer)
Brian – Blue is the Warmest Color
This felt the most Cannes-baity for me. A sexually confused15-year-old French girl? Sure, sounds like a winner to me.
John – The Great Beauty (trailer)
Only thing I read about it says it looks a little like “Tree of Life,” which could be good or bad.
Ian – Michael Kohlhaas
Wasn’t a movie I was expecting to draft (I was hoping that Blue is the Warmest Color would slip), but again, I’m betting on a hot actor, in this case, Mads Mikkelsen, to make this movie’s case to the jury. Mikkelsen has been the best reviewed part of several recent projects, won the prize just last year for The Hunt, and is certainly the most compelling reason to watch Hannibal, so maybe placing him in a sweeping historical epic will create movie magic. I’d also trust Denis Lavant to give a knockout performance, and perhaps the jury may wish to make up for blanking last year’s visionary Holy Motors. Also, I see horses in the still photo from the film, so perhaps there is room for a dog as well?
Jared – A Castle in Italy
This film is the only one competing for the Palm directed by a woman. So, you know, girl power! Director Tedeschi won a Special Jury Prize six years ago for her last directorial effort, but she’s actually been quite busy in the meantime, as acting is her day job. Details about the plot are still trickling out, but it appears to be about a well-off Italian family who sells their home.
Jared – Only Lovers Left Alive
Oh, you know, just your typical arthouse vampire flick. Writer/director Jim Jarmusch has been nominated for the Palm a whopping six times without coming away with the big prize, so by the due theory, he should be hitting any time now. Plus it is tough to ignore a cast led by white hot actors Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, and Mia Wasikowska.
Ian – Fruitvale Station (trailer)
I picked this first off the board from the Un certain regard category after it carried me to victory recently in the Sundance fantasy draft. Most of the comments I made then still hold true, especially after it was received so well. Now, the movie, already a festival favorite, has the weight of Harvey Weinstein thrown behind it, which is certainly no negative when it comes to awards. Michael B. Jordan, in particular, now has to be considered an Oscar contender, and certainly a Spirit Award lock. I do wonder somewhat whether an American tearjerker will play well with a more experimental French-based jury, but I look to last year’s Sundance darling, Beasts of the Southern Wild, for inspiration. Beasts cleaned up in the non-competition jury prizes, although that movie is literally and figuratively fantastic and daring while Fruitvale Station appears to be more earthbound. Even so, I think it’s possible that Oscar owned a dog.
John – Omar
Middle East. Dramatic moral ambiguity. Figured I’d move to Un Certain Regard instead of slumming at the bottom of the main lineup
Brian – Venus in Fur
Considering I contemplated picking this with my first pick, I was shocked he fell this far. The French love Roman Polanski, for all of his horrifying glory. My team name will most definitely play off this…but my main theory as to why this fell to me: it’s a two person film that doesn’t sound very captivating. And one of the actors is Polanski’s wife. Could be instantly forgettable…which may make it even more Cannes-worthy.
Gavin – Borgman (trailer)
Gavin – Behind the Candelabra (trailer)
Brian – The Bastards
At this point I almost wholly deferred to IONCinema. Claire Denis is in their words, “one of the best directors working today.” Her debut film, Chocolat (no not that one), got her nominated for Best Director at Cannes. I figured it was a good try for a second chance.
John – My Sweet Pepper Land
Middle East. Dramatic moral ambiguity.
Ian – The Bling Ring (trailer)
Is a pet pick, of course, and risky as heck considering that the great Marie Antoinette got booed out of Cannes. In between that time, however, Sofia Coppola directed Somewhere, which is probably one of the top five films of this century, and she seems to have developed a mastery of subject and craft. (An aside, but since I have the floor: how great would Sofia Coppola’s The Great Gatsby have been? I love Sofia’s movies for the same reason that I love Fitzgerald’s books, and I’d have been fascinated to see the marriage of the two.) Emma Watson also seems like an actor in line to start being taken seriously and awarded as such. It might be a stretch to imagine a “frivolous” feminine and feminist subject such as this one actually making a case for itself at Cannes for serious hardware, but this film is opening the Un certain regard competition, and I am hopeful that a jury will one day recognize her for an unparalleled body of work. Also, I know for sure that Paris Hilton owns a dog.
Jared – Wakolda
This film is based on the true story of a family in Argentina who unknowingly lives with Josef Mengele and a girl who falls in love with him. Can you imagine if Jerry Springer could pull a reveal like that on his show? I’m counting it as that awards baitiest of awards bait, a Holocaust movie. Writer-director Lucia Puenzo achieved some acclaim (including a Cannes’s critics prize) for her freshman effort, XXY. Also, I kinda was hoping the Claire Denis movie would fall.
Jared – L’image manquante
The synopsis on the Cannes page of this Cambodian-French production is nearly unintelligible, which I think is a good sign. Writer-director Rithy Panh was nominated for the Palm nineteen years ago and more recently won an award there for his documentary S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine.
Ian – Straw Shield (trailer)
I definitely had no intention of taking this movie, which seems like pulpy genre fare mixed in with far more high-minded cinema, but the allure of taking a film In Competition this late in the draft was too great. I’m not particularly hopeful with this one, but Takashi Miike seems to have a scattershot reputation, and this film could be at the high end of the bell curve, having already exceeded expectations by being selected in the first place. There’s also an excellent probability of a dog appearing in this film.
John – Sarah Prefers to Run (trailer)
Could capitalize if the jury wants to award a quirky indie.
Brian – Grand Central (clip)
I picked it for all the same reasons as Blue. It’s French, it’s about young love — it even stars the same young ingenue. Add in some political commentary about the nuclear industry, and sure why the heck not at this point.
Gavin – Bends
Gavin – Miele (trailer)
Brian – L’Inconnu du lac
More French love. The synopsis from IONCinema: In this love story, two men meet in a nudist resort on the banks of a lake, but one of them is a murderer.
John – Rising
Just trying to avoid any Jim Jarmusch or 4 hour-plus Filipino films
Ian – La jaula de oro
This is a total shot in the dark, and I had difficulty finding any information about the movie at all. Left to rely mostly on the country of origin, my reasoning is that Mexico has become tremendously fertile ground for great films, whereas for the Filipino movies, merely being selected may be its own reward at this point in its industry. (James Franco is American, but is also Franco.) And politically, there aren’t many more relevant stories right now in this climate than the insanity that is border crossing and American immigration policy. The lack of information about the movie may also mean that it is entirely about a dog.
Jared – As I Lay Dying (trailer)
I think we can all agree that James Franco has pretty much turned into the worst, but as someone who owns Whatever It Takes on DVD, I had to take this one. Plus, you know “Danny McBride – Cannes actor” has a nice ring to it. I haven’t read the book since high school, but it does seem like it has potentially to be rather interestingly done, in the hands of a confident director. I also think the casting of Beth Grant as Addie is inspired.
Undrafted - Manuscripts Don’t Burn (directed by Mohammed Rasoulof, this movie was on the list, then off, and now appears to be back on again), Death March (directed by Adolfo Alix, Jr.), and Norte, The End of History (directed by Lav Diaz).
Here’s a quick round-up of what we think should win tonight. Follow along to see what Oscar gets right! (Hint: use the “John” column)
|Animated Feature||Wreck-It Ralph||Brave|
|Makeup and Hairstyling||Les Miserables|
|Production Design||Anna Karenina|
|Score||Life of Pi|
|Sound Editing||Django Unchained|
|Sound Mixing||Les Miserables|
|Visual Effects||Life of Pi|
I’ve kind of run out of time here. Oh well. I won’t go into any reasoning. Just assume I’m right. If I had an Oscar ballot, here is what I’d submit (voters rank their choices 1-9):
3. Life of Pi
4. Zero Dark Thirty
6. Beasts of the Southern Wild
7. Les Miserables
9. Silver Linings Playbook
The Oscars are quickly approaching. Because we’ve spent the time to see the nominees and because we’re really smart (and I, at least, have impeccable taste), we’re telling you what should win in all the categories.
The nominees are:
- Michael Haneke, Amour
- Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Ang Lee, Life of Pi
- Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
- David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
I don’t get what people see in David O. Russell’s direction. I feel like the whole world has gone crazy. I mean, it wasn’t as bad here as in The Fighter, but that’s the lowest of bars. To his credit, he presumably had some role in coaxing great performances out of Lawrence and Cooper, and one of the first non-mailed in one from De Niro in ages. So there’s that.
There’s lots of stuff going on in Beasts of the Southern Wild. And it is technically pretty impressive. So props to Benh Zeitlin for that, but when a ninety minute movie feels like it is twice that long, I’m going to dock the director, even taking the script into consideration.
I found Amour mostly forgettable. It wasn’t quite as terrible as I was expecting, so tip of the hat to Michael Haneke for that. The film started out pretty strong. Opening up on the audience shot was fascinating. And I thought the scene with the running faucet was very well-executed.
Life of Pi has some of the smallest scenes of Oscar contenders (much of the film takes place on a lifeboat, after all) but also some of the largest (the shipwreck, that crazy island). Ang Lee superbly executes this wide range of cinematic effort. When a book that many said was unfilmable ends up looking this great, you have to applaud the work of the director.
Lost in all the hubbub surrounding the omissions in this category is the fact that Steven Spielberg turns in another fantastic effort. He wrangles a massive cast of supporting characters while still always highlight the main one, creating a riveting movie out of a Congressional vote. I’m going through a number of scenes in my head at the moment, and they are all differently memorable and nearly perfectly shot.
Should have been here: I’d keep Spielberg. Ben Affleck, Argo and Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty, obviously. And then I’d throw in Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises and Robert Zemeckis, Flight.
The more I think about Silver Linings Playbook the more I dislike it and it is Russell’s project through and through. The tone is especially off. Meanwhile, those who love Amour likely do so based heavily on Haneke’s direction. But I was underwhelmed for the same reason. For me, it’s just too sparse.
The other three movies have their directors’ fingerprints all over them. Isn’t the best adjective for Lincoln “Spielbergian?” Exquisite production elements, powerful John Williams score, and a lack of subtlety. Beasts of the Southern Wild and Life of Pi are more directors’ showcases. Zeitlin has such a neat vision for Beasts with the music, surrealism, and bayou shantytown grunge. It didn’t always work for me, but I love the vision and it probably doesn’t work at all without it. Indie film is full of gritty poverty realism and Zeitlin tries something with much more imagination.
But Ang Lee is my winner. Life of Pi is all vision. Think of what goes into this film: spectacular visuals, spiritual and surreal elements, and long periods of time with one character alone at sea. This movie lives and dies on how it’s realized and Lee nails it.
Should have been here: Speaking of directorial showcases, how about Django Unchained? This is Tarantino through and through (and is also a better movie than all those that were nominated).
The nominees are:
- Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Django Unchained
- Les Miserables
- Life of Pi
- Silver Linings Playbook
- Zero Dark Thirty
A few days ago I was discussing the Oscars with some co-workers and we started talking about the Best Picture category. As I ran through the nominees, we talked about which movies they’d seen (not many), what Amour was about (my description did not exactly inspire them to go out and see it), and whether or not the Academy had nominated Argo (my co-worker was, of course, thinking about Affleck’s snub for director). The conversation served as a good reminder that it is important to keep the Oscar race in perspective, I think. But also the weird duality between personal and public preference. The fact that someone may have only seen one nominee and be passionately rooting for it isn’t wrong (well, OK, it kind of is). And whether or not the Academy ends up on my favorite is completely irrelevant to how much I enjoyed it.
I’ve written about all of these movies at length the past few weeks, and I don’t really love repeating myself, so I’ll try to briefly recap my thoughts on the films as I step through them in order of my personal preference.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is shaping up to be my least favorite movie of the year. It didn’t make any sense and wasn’t fun to watch. In fact, it was unbearable to watch. I’ve been working on understanding how and why people do like the film, especially in terms of differentiating it from both other arthouse fare as well as films with a more traditional narrative structure. Still not there yet.
Les Miserables is shaping up to be my second least favorite movie of the year. It was a very weird experience watching it in a packed theater. A combination of that trainwreck feeling where I couldn’t look away from the atrocity and befuddlement at how people seemed so engrossed. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a director singlehandedly torpedo a movie the way that Hooper did here. Kind of impressive, actually. And I guess on some level I can appreciate that he was willing to take such a risk. But that’s the thing about risks. Sometimes they don’t pay off.
Amour is a tough watch. I’m sure it feels honest or true or however else people who like the movie would describe it. I left the theater unconvinced that it was a story worth two hours of my time. The comparison may not be entirely fair, but I think the opening montage in Up is a tremendously more powerful and engaging way of exploring similar themes.
I wanted to love Silver Linings Playbook. And I think there may be a great movie in there somewhere. One where David O. Russell stays far far away. The film is an inconsistent mishmash of ideas, themes, and characters hiding behind a Hollywood-friendly concept of mental illness. Incredibly winning performances by Lawrence and Cooper save the film, and the film does improve significantly in the second half when Russell is more focused on the dance competition.
I liked Life of Pi way more than I was expecting. But that might be because way more of the movie was more than just a guy in a boat with a tiger. Because really, those scenes (along with the framing device) were the weak parts of the film. When Lee and Magee got to explore bigger environs, they seemed to explode with creativity, and who knows, maybe it is because they felt so constrained by the smaller scenes.
There were four Best Picture movies I really enjoyed this year. Which was a pleasant surprise. Django Unchained was clever, funny, and bloody. So everything I’d expect a Tarantino film to be. As I’ve mentioned, I still think he needs an editor or a running time constraint or something. Especially if it limits the homages and in-jokes and creates a more streamlined movie.
Lincoln is a solid movie. Bestowed with a broad title, it features a rather focused story and rather sprawling cast of characters. It boasts strong acting performances and a generally interesting, well-paced plot. Spielberg and Kushner almost pull the film off flawlessly, but ultimately there are just too many characters and subplots to do so.
I’ll take the last 30-45 minutes of Zero Dark Thirty against 30-45 minutes from just about any other film this year. Or any other year, really. The raid is absolutely fantastic. Some of the most thrilling, edge of my seat scenes I’ve ever seen. Perhaps necessarily, though, the first part of the movie doesn’t really hold a candle to the last part.
I’m not tagging along with the presumptive front-runner,you can go back and check my top fives, I’ve been touting Argo since I saw it. It is extremely taut, which makes the laughs all the bigger. It may not be the perfect thriller, but it is the closest to perfection we’ve seen in some time. The climactic sequence is the only one from this year that can compare to Zero Dark Thirty’s raid. But everything leading up to the daring escape was just a little bit more engrossing. The bureaucracy was more captivating. Everything surrounding building the fake film was fascinating. And once Affleck shows up in Iran, everything gets incredibly tense. I wouldn’t say I have Argo as a blowout over the three movies I have beneath it, but it is my clear favorite in this year’s crop of nominees.
The Oscars are quickly approaching. Because we’ve spent the time to see the nominees and because we’re really smart (and I, at least, have impeccable taste), we’re telling you what should win in all the categories.
The nominees are:
- Michael Haneke, Amour
- Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
- John Gatins, Flight
- Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
- Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
This is another tough category for me. It contains a number of films I admire but trying to pick the best writing achievement from them is a hard proposition.
Amour is at the bottom of the pile for me. For those that love the movie, what do they love? The story? The dialogue? The character arcs? No, it’s probably the performances, the shot choices, the pace, and Haneke’s visual style. So vote for him for Best Director.
The problem with Zero Dark Thirty is not torture, per se. All the political hand-wringing about whether it condones torture is overblown. I don’t think it has any duty to explicitly show the downsides of torture (though it is pretty explicit about its horrors). But I think it may have been a better movie if it had. I found the story to be distressingly linear. The key to finding Bin Laden gets discovered very early in the film and much of the rest of the story relentlessly follows that lead, overly simplifying a fascinatingly complex process. Yesterday, Jeff Wells published a response from someone connected to ZDT to yet another editorial about the film. He argues that the film does show the inefficiencies of torture and the years of false starts, but cites literally two lines of dialogue to back that up. I just think the film could have been richer; the film mostly left me with a desire to read a book on the subject to get a more complete view of it. One other script quibble I have is that the film diverts to show literally every major terror attack after 9/11, presumably to add some explosions to the film.
Django Unchained is my favorite film in this category. My favorite film nominated in any category, in fact. Tarantino has made an immensely entertaining film, which is a compliment coming from me as someone who has never fully been on the Tarantino bandwagon. But while I enjoyed the story and the dialogue, all the other elements are what make it so great. The shots, the music, the visual flourishes. There’s no doubt Tarantino “authored” this movie’s success, but in the sense that I’d vote for him for Best Director. (Plus the story tends to meander a bit. People say he needs an editor to cut down on bloated runtime but I think he needs some help tightening up the scripts as well.) I could say the similar things about Moonrise Kingdom. Interesting characters and story but non-script elements make it special.
This leaves Flight, which I think is the movie whose success is most fueled by its script. It takes a story about alcoholism in a creative and compelling direction. Whip Whitaker is a fantastic and complex character. The script also injects some levity into the story, keeping it from getting too bogged down in dreariness. Denzel Washington’s performance and a harrowingly-realized plane crash are other important elements, but a lot of the film’s success started on the page.
Still, if I’m being honest, I’m rooting for Django or Moonrise so that one of them can win something.
What should have been here? I really had high hopes for Looper and it’s a shame it didn’t make it.
I get on Wes Anderson’s case a lot and I don’t regret any of it. However, his script with Roman Coppola for Moonrise Kingdom does have a lot of sweet moments. The quirkiness gets in the way of everything, but underneath is a touching story of first love and adolescence and being an adult and lots more interesting stuff.
The events of Amour are…”mundane” might be the wrong word, but they are largely commonplace. Which isn’t necessarily an obstacle to making an engaging movie, but throughout Michael Haneke’s whole script I felt like I was watching someone’s home videos. I understand that’s an appealing quality for some people, but I didn’t see the point.
The next three are among my favorite original screenplays of the year. Mark Boal’s script is part procedural and part action thriller. Perhaps unsurprisingly I prefer the latter. The first part of the movie is less remarkable, but it slowly builds to an epic climax. Boal seems really in his element writing tense war action, and maybe a little less confident in the investigation side of things.
I still maintain that Quentin Tarantino would benefit from an editor of some sort to tighten up and slim down his films. But not too much, because there’s a lot of fantastic stuff in there. Tarantino has an absolutely wicked sense of comic relief, the scene with the hoods may be one of the funniest of the year. But like the gruesome shootout at the end (which may be one of the best showdowns of the year), I question how they fit into the movie as a whole.
I was absolutely thrilled to see John Gatins get a nomination here. I thought he had two major roadblocks in his way: the fantastic crash sequence and the stellar work of Denzel Washington. Both of which, of course, stem from the fantastic screenplay. The story is well-plotted and the main character is fascinating. From hotel bed of sin to plane crash to hospital to farm to hearing, the film is always riveting, exquisitely paced, and thought-provoking.
Should have been here: I’d keep Boal, Tarantino, and Gatins. And I’d throw in David Wain and Ken Marino, Wanderlust and Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild, Ted.