Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscar Movie Marathon: The Review

"The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder." ~Alfred Hitchcock

Whew! Actually made it through all 5 movies yesterday without losing my eyeballs or falling asleep! The theater was almost full, so I wasn't the only crazy person, and everyone there was having a good time, being in the same boat and all. The staff even came in between movies and did trivia for prizes (no, I did not win any...)

So here's my roundup:

Milk - Wow. This movie was more amazing than I expected. Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in this country (San Francisco late 1970s). The whole movie is powerful, funny, and heartbreaking at the same time, since it's the story of a gay rights movement which really hasn't come all that far in the 30 years since. Very, very moving and GREAT acting (James Franco is great as Penn's lover). I'm pulling for Slumdog to win the Oscar, but this is a close second. And Sean Penn is just terrific.

The Reader - Um. Hmm? Not sure this one should be in the running for Best Picture. It's well-acted, but it isn't one of those movies that will stick with you for days. Plus it is incredibly depressing and beyond that, seemed to wander, especially in the second half. Kate Winslet plays a German woman who seduces a 16-year old boy...but he later finds out she's being put on trial for her actions as a Nazi guard years earlier. It seemed to have potential but didn't do it for me. The acting is good, though, and Kate Winslet has a good chance of getting the Oscar for Best Actress. She looks horrific - no makeup and she ages 40 years in the movie - I think the Academy likes that sort of thing.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Much better than I expected. Even though it's the longest (almost 3 hours), it didn't feel that way. The makeup (and the acting) of Brad Pitt is amazing, as he ages backwards from an old man to a teenager. And how is it possible that Brad Pitt can still look 19 in the right makeup?? Anyway, it's one of those sweeping life sagas, complete with a love story (his great love is played by Cate Blanchett), and it's quite moving. Sad, though, very very sad - especially at the end.

Slumdog Millionaire - Well, I've already seen this one, and it's still my favorite. I just love the originality, the acting, the story that is part-adventure, part true romance, and the fact that it exposes a world of violence and poverty that at least half our world lives in. I think this was the crowd favorite last night, too.

Frost/Nixon - If there's a dark horse in this Oscar race, it's gonna be this movie. Even though it was the last one of the night, and even though it has less action and more conversation and intellectual plotting, I was mesmerized from beginning to end. First, the story itself is fascinating: a playboy Australian talk show host gets an interview with Richard Nixon after he resigns the Presidency. The host is WAY in over his head, and Nixon is determined to exonerate his name, and so it's a battle of wills and personalities that is INCREDIBLY acted. These two actors played the same roles when it was on Broadway, and you can tell they've been living with these characters for a while. The subtleties of each give a terrific insight into what was happening in those months and years after Watergate (and I imagine this would be even more powerful for those who remember the time, as I don't). If you get a chance, rent this one - don't think because it doesn't have constant physical action that it isn't absolutely compelling. I wouldn't be surprised to see this one win, either.

So there you have it...I don't know if I'll actually stay up to watch the awards show tonight. I'm still pretty tired, and the show itself is so drawn out. But at least I can talk about the movies tomorrow!


Liz said...

Love the quote. Glad you had a good time. I'll be watching the Oscars but I enjoy the red carpet even more - love seeing who is wearing what.

Marianne Arkins said...


Why do movies have to be depressing to win an Oscar?


Mary Ricksen said...

Thanks for the reviews, I now understand what each movie is like, and know which one I want to see.
Great stuff Allie!

Allie Boniface said...

Goes back to the days of Greek drama, Marianne, when theater was considered cathartic. If you didn't feel emotionally spent at the end of a play, then it hadn't done its job.

Diane Craver said...

Thanks for each movie's description and what you thought - very helpful.

Marianne Arkins said...

I feel emotionally spent at the end of every day... I don't need a movie to make me so.

Greeks had tragedy AND comedy, remember... I lean to the happier side. But then, you knew that already.