I've finally seen all 5 of the best picture nominees, and I have to say, it's bullshit. The top 5 best films of the year that I've seen so far were actually:
1. Synechdoche, New York
2. The Dark Knight
3. The Wrestler
4. Rachel Getting Married
5. Revolutionary Road
Nevertheless. This is my opinion of the 5 films that were nominated. I should probably warn you that I give away the entire premise of The Reader. The rest are safe to read whether you've seen the films or not.
1. The Reader
I suspect I should take up my grievances with the novel rather than the film, because it's the story itself that sucks. There are really three separate themes running through the piece, and they are:
a.) What is the nature of an individual's responsibility for crimes committed during the holocaust?
b.) The Kate Winslet character loves literature, but never learned to read. She is put in a position whereby she can save herself from life imprisonment by exposing her illiteracy on trial. She's so humiliated by her illiteracy that she prefers instead to suck it up and go to jail. What's up with that?
c.) Is it okay for an older woman to sleep with a high school aged kid? I've been told the creepiness factor of this was more played up in the book than the movie, but it really didn't seem like a big deal to me in the film. Then again, I'm not the target market for this kind of moral outrage.
I guess my problem is this. Point A, B, and C have nothing to do with each other, but they dance around one another as though they do, like some grand point is being made, but it just seemed like a lot of smoke and mirrors. More fundamentally, I just find it really implausible that a woman who's so wonderfully entranced by the world of literature wouldn't at some point suck it up and learn how to read. (Before the whole life imprisonment thing, that is.) Call me crazy.
2. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Look, I know I can't shut up about how much I hated this movie, but let me explain further. The real fundamental problem with the film is that a man aging backwards is not a particularly fascinating or interesting thing. The story plays with this idea that Benjamin is doomed to a life of loneliness because everyone will grow up and die around him, but like, big fucking deal. People grow up and die around me too. It's true that for the first and last 15 or so years of his life things are a little weird for him, but for the middle 50 years of life, things move along swimmingly. So he can't really raise a child or have a conventional marriage. Neither can Harvey Milk, but at least Harvey has a good personality. It would actually be pretty sweet to get old age out of the way and then grow younger. The point is, the whole idea is a manufactured sentiment. The film is really beautiful, and they spent millions of dollars on beautiful actors and crazy sets and special effects, but for what? They could have produced ten great scripts for the money wasted on this piece of shit film, and I get very emotional about these sorts of things, thank you very much.
P.S. I'm very happy to see I'm not the only one who saw the ridiculous parallels between Button and Forrest Gump, and I'm sincerely hoping the point has been illuminated enough to spoil any shot it once had at winning Oscars.
3. Slumdog Millionaire
This movie is pretty good and it will win, but I'm just not all that psyched about it. It was entertaining, but I'm too cynical for romances involving 18 year olds. The million dollars is going to tear them apart and they're totally going to break up.
This movie broke my heart in twang. I don't know if my hippy sentiments have been made clear, cuz sometimes I make fun of the gays and stuff, but it's all in good fun. They mean everything to me and their struggle for basic freedoms fucking sucks and Harvey Milk's story was incredibly (dare I use such a cliche) inspiring. My only real problem with it is that my head and heart are really hard on biopics. I think it's difficult to do them without following a predictable formula and having them sag in the second act, but nevertheless. The performances are great, it has a wonderful script, Gus Van Sant is cool, can't ask for anything more. It's a close second to...
I was shocked, shocked to discover that I found this to be the best film of the 5 nominees. I avoided seeing it. I didn't think I would like it - don't ask me why. Ron Howard kind of hurt my feelings when he charmed me with A Beautiful Mind, because then I read the book it was based on and realized the movie is a long, glorified lie. Ron Howard and I have been fighting ever since, but I totally digress.
Frost/Nixon is completely compelling. The script is great, the format is wonderful, I loved the cinematography, the acting was superb, and on and on. It's not in my top 5 just because it didn't give me quite the visceral reaction I require, but that's not really it's fault. It had the exactly correct scale for the historical event it depicted, which is really only marginally historical. Side note: Kevin Bacon plays Nixon's assistant or something, and he is fantastic. Kevin Bacon is more than the subject of a fun parlor game I'm completely awesome at. He's never given a bad performance and I think he's wonderful. Just throwing that out there. Dude doesn't get enough love. Sam Rockwell is boss too.
I would talk more about the Oscars but there's a contest involved and I can't give away my tricks of the trade until afterward. Also no one cares.
Interview with Author Erik Marshall
4 months ago