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Reviews to the Oscars


So these past few weeks, since the nominees for best picture were released, I have taken it upon myself to watch all of them! I’m averaging about one every two days, but I’ve worked through 7/9 and only have The Artist and Hugo left to see. So leading up to the Oscars I thought it might be fun to have a short review of each film and my thoughts on the most likely to win, in my opinion. First, my credentials: I have none, but I am pleased to announce that for the past 5 years I have been correct in choosing which film will win the best picture, so I have a little experience, or luck.

The Descendants
George Clooney stars as Matt King, a well to do lawyer that is married with two children and living in Hawaii. The back story of the film is that his family’s descendants owned a large piece of the islands and the entire family is now deciding who to sell the land to, and the final decision comes down to Matt. The forefront of this story is that Matt King’s wife has accidentally landed in a coma and his two daughters are now his sole responsibility, whereas normally he was only the “back-up” parent. The film has a fairly simple story and deals heavily with the emotions and scenarios the character have to deal with, such as telling the family and dealing with the surprising news that Matt’s daughter tells him. Overall the story has some very funny elements and great acting; it drags a bit slow in the second half, and leaves a bit of an open ending, but ultimately a really great film about the dealings with family and life.


Based on a true story doesn’t always mean it will be a good film, sometime stories are just better as stories and not really being a fan of baseball, save a few really well done films such as “The Natural,” I wasn’t too excited to watch this film. The truth was that this film ended up being extremely entertaining and just an all-around great film; it was a story of triumph in the face of adversity and having faith in other people. Brad Pitt is excellent as usual in the title role and Jonah Hill is actually nominated for a supporting role, personally I couldn’t see it, but maybe they were just surprised that he wasn’t doing a comedy and decided to reward him for it. Either way the film delivers on almost every level, funny, light-hearted at times and yet also heavy at times.


War Horse
Based on a novel, then transformed into a play and now to a movie directed by Steven Spielberg, must be great, and the story of this film will appeal to the masses. The story follows a horse from birth, to belonging to a boy, who then sells to an Officer for the war effort and so on and so on like the Forrest Gump of horses affecting everyone the horse meets showing the community and love that all people have. The problem with this film for me was the lack of emotional connection to anything in the film. I didn’t really care what happened to the horse, the main character, the little girl, the family, or anyone else they introduced, perhaps because they were too two dimensional, maybe it was my fault and I didn’t give the movie enough of a chance, but this film was a 2 ½ hour movie that felt like 5. It went on and on and on, without having a single interesting segment, and the acting of almost all lead actors save the father and the first officer that buys the horse, was atrocious. I’m not sure why the film sat so poorly with me, it might have been because most of these other films were really, really well done and this one, without the special effects, had none of the emotionalism that I feel the play would have had. At least it was good to see that the list of nominees does in fact have a bottom.


Tree of Life
I’m going to jump right into why people won’t like this film, because it’s not a movie in the traditional sense, it’s more of a memory in film, a flashback to a simpler time paired with the present and the big bang. It’s not a bad film at all, it’s a bad movie, as a film it’s experimental and risk taking, beautiful and wonderful, it fills you with awe and has the overbearing message of love, but as a movie it’s out of sequence, pretentious, idiotic and has a nonsense ending. Whether you loved it or hated it, there were defiantly a lot of pretentious scenes added for some self-satisfying reason that director Terrence Malik probably wanted as a throw back to his own childhood. That is why I don’t think it should win best picture, was it fascinating, beautiful and memorizing? Yes. Was it entertaining? No. Whether you enjoyed it or not, everyone at the 2 ½ hour mark checked there watch. Even Sean Penn who starred in the film said that the film was the best script he’d ever read turned into a movie that he doesn’t understand. Either way it’s worth watching if only for the amazing cinematography and art direction, but don’t stay for the story, because you won’t find it.


The Help
A look at the African-American community in Mississippi in the late 60’s shows the racial tension and the ever-growing concern for equality. The film follows a young lady writing a novel showing the true voice of the help and what they see and how they’re treated. The film is entertaining and very good story of triumph, love, compassion and tolerance, in a time when there was none. The acting stands on top in this film, showcasing some truly evil characters as well as some that are just fascinating. There are some moments that are a little over the top and cliché but the overall tone of the film remains steady and true to the heart of the matter. My main issue with the film was just the recycled plot line; replace the main actress with any main Hollywood actor and the story of over-coming adversity becomes just a every other movie of the same archetype. Two years ago we saw the Blind Side in a similar situation, that’s not to say they’re not good movies but there is a difference between academy quality and Hallmark movie of the week. That being said this was not a Hallmark movie of the week; this defiantly does deserve to be in the top running for best picture as nearly all elements of this movie were spot on. It was Entertaining, full of heart and love and a great story of overcoming adversity; something that every human on earth at one time or another can relate to.


Extremely loud and incredibly close
Again, I’m going to jump right in, I hated this movie. Well not hated but I would never watch it again, I didn’t like the acting, story or direction and it was utterly unenjoyable as I watched it; so yes, I guess I hated it. The only saving grace of this film was Max von Sydow who was also nominated for best supporting actor for the role of the non-talking tenant at the main characters Grandmother’s house.  This film was yet another film that attempted to hijack the emotion from Sept.11 and did it, in my opinion, very unsuccessfully. Instead of showing the wider effect that Sept. 11th had and zeroing in on one child’s attempt to deal with it, they zeroed in and attempted to zoom out to show how it affected everyone after the fact. It really was a failed attempt in my opinion, all about a child who loses his father on Sept. 11 and after finding a key in a vase in his father’s closet, attempts to go on a search around New York to find the lock the key fits. He then starts to make friends in his quest for the lock and… know I’m just going stop there. This movie sucked. It really did and the acting of the main character was just atrocious, I really couldn’t stand him, and I found out after that he is a child genius who won on Jeopardy or something and then switched into acting. But he just really annoyed me, also did you know that this is the lowest rated movie ever to be nominated for best picture? It’s got a 43% on Rotten Tomato’s, so I’m not alone.


Midnight in Paris
When I saw Midnight in Paris I was transported to a world of comedy and love, romance and music a simpler time when movies were just altogether enjoyable. The film stars Owen Wilson in a much different role than we’re used to, as a writer from LA in Paris on Vacation with his well to do wife and her family. He becomes more and more distant from the family and his wife as every night after entering a taxi, is transported back to Paris in the 1920’s. It’s enchanting, it’s beautiful, it’s funny and light and I really, really enjoyed this movie. The acting is on the nose, the setting is so magical and more than anything it’s FRESH. I’m so tired of films that are re-using the same formula’s, world issues, or cliché lines and although, being a Woody Allen film, the main character acts suspiciously similar to how Woody Allen would, the story is fresh and simple. It’s timeless and nostalgic and just a great, great film. As of all the films I have left to watch this one is my current pick for best picture, so please check it out.



The Artist


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