Oscar misses its target, once more (but it’s not as bad as it sounds)

As I saw the nominations come out yesterday, I was thrilled by some but could’nt help to cringe at others. Overall, I’m not impressed. and here is me bitching about it.

What I think they blatently overlooked

Revolutionary road : How can you snub these performances by DiCaprio and Winslet ? In Winslet case, I can understand that the votes may have been split with The Reader. But Dicaprio’s snub is unacceptable and Brad Pitt’s nomination is undeserved. I would also put this in the best picture category. At least they recognized how good Michael Shannon was.

Batman Begins : Was a perfect example (same as Lord of the rings was) of how mainstream movies can be artsy, intelligent and brillantly directed. Total snub.

Rachel Getting Married : why the script was not nominated is shameful and shows a lack of perception, especially when Benjamin Button’s overlong, overboring and preformatted is nominated.

I’ve loved you so long (Il y a longtemps que je t’aime) : Kristin Scott Thomas delivered a top-3 performance this year. This one was for Kristen. As far as aching mothers go,  I liked Angelina’s performance in Changeling, it doesnt even compare to Scott Thomas’ turn in that film.

Happy Go lucky : Sally Hawkings was pure bliss in that film. Meryl’s spot was hers. Why they still give those nominations to Meryl Streep (that I love) is beyond me. And she never wins anymore.

Wall-E : to me, definetly was supposed to be in the BEST PICTURE category. It was a perfect film. But god forbid we take animation seriously.


What is overhyped

The Curious case of Benjamin Button : I will give the film credit for its fabulous yet classical technical approach. But other than that, it lacks heart and is deeply boring. And I hated Taraji P. Henson in it.

Slumdog Millionnaire : Yes, it’s fun. Yes, it’s remarquably filmed. Yes, it has an awesome soundtrack. but, seriously, this is not a great film. It’s a good film.  Hollywood always manages to overhype films so much. This one is going to win. and it’s going to be a shame. a small one though, because the film does have its merits.


and to end on a positive note, here’s a quick list of things they got right : anne hathaway, richard jenkins, frozen river, the class, milk, heath, michael shannon.


2008 Best Of – Film Edition


Rachel Getting Married (USA) (for anne hathaway. for jenny lumet’s flawless script, and inspired cinematography)
Entre les Murs (France) (for authenticity and the desire to generate a debate)
Wall-E (USA) (for being a perfect movie, and pixar’s best to date)
The Dark Knight (USA) (for making batman play out like Nietzche)
Up the Yangtze (Canada/China) (a truly compelling documentary)
La Graine et le Mulet (France) (for the most genuine characters this year)
The Edge of Heaven (Germany/Turkey) (for being true  to human emotions and confirming Fatih Akin’s supremacy)
The Band’s Visit (Israel) (for the sheer simplicity of its story and message).
Happy-Go-Lucky (UK) (for Mike Leigh vision, script and Sally Hawkins’ fantastic performance)
Changeling (USA) (for eastwood’s masterful directing, avoiding any superflousness and focusing on the characters)
Synecdoche, NY (USA) (for awaking the existential demons in me — and making me say “what the fuck@#!@” again at the movies)
Let The Right One In (Sweden) (for being original, moving and creepy at the same time — and having the creepiest scene featuring house-cats)

Update ( January 15) – New films added to the list
Revolutionary Road
Slumdog Millionnaire

NOTE : there are films I have yet to see and that could end up in this list : Slumdog Millionaire, Doubt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Milk, Frost/Nixon… If needed, I will post an update as soon as I have seen them, in early 2009.

ALSO : non-2008 releases that graced my eyes and ears

Delicatessen (France)
Some Kind of Monster
Into the Wild (USA)
4 minutes (Germany)
12 angry men (USA)
Network (USA)

A wedding you don’t want to miss…
October 23, 2008, 10:37 am
Filed under: Movies | Tags: , , , ,

Usually, at this time of year, the word buzz starts resurfacing as the Hollywood distributors release the ‘best films’ they have in stock, in hopes of getting their foot in the Oscar race.

This year, the first serious buzz we heard was about Anne Hathaway’s performance, in Rachel Getting Married. Of course, being the cynical guy I am, I was a bit apprehensive. However, I find myself in the peculiar situation of actually working for the distributor of that film, and am therefore a bit biased when I say : This film not only exceeds the buzz it’s getting, but it establishes (or should I say confirms) director Jonathan Demme as one of the great contemporary directors.

Borrowing from Altman, Dogma filmmaking and even a little from HBO-style filmmaking, Demme crafts a movie that is not only enjoyable, moving and gripping, but also real. REAL. How often do you hear that about a movie? I guess a lot. but rarely rightfully: the word is used loosely, but in this case, thanks to a fabulous cast, immaculate script and top-notch cinematography and camera work, you feel like you’re illegally thrown into these people’s lives and somehow they can’t see that you’re sitting in the living room with them. That’s an experience I would recommend to anyone who isn’t afraid of feeling a bit awkward, like a voyeur.

The film revolves around Kim (Hathaway, who gives the performance of her career… for now at least), a junkie ex-model who gets out of rehab to attend her sister’s wedding. There, the family scars will slowly unravel… But this is not your typical family reunion flick. The characters are as real and rich as it gets. Kim is despicable, irritating, narcissistic but yet we sympathize with her. Rachel is jealous, stubborn and a bit selfish, but we often understand her. and so on…. What I mean to say is that the characters are not stereotypically defined, and are a little more “normal”. The movie constantly asks you to reevaluate your perception of these people, as it slowly uncovers the underlying history (a tough one) of this family. Also, the film may have a lot of drama in it (and heavy drama that is) but it also knows that in life, you can easily jump from tears to laughter, and isn’t afraid to show it on screen.

Enough said. This film is amongst the year’s best and should not be missed by anyone who remotly likes cinema.