One of the challenges on my 40 by 40 list is to see all of the Academy Award Best Picture nominees. Well, for the first time in the history I actually managed to see all five of them. What's more, with a 10:15 am screening of Juno this morning, I squeaked in just under the wire.
So, with hours to go, I can make my bold proclamation for which film SHOULD win the Best Picture category. I am not even going to try guess how the crazy members of the Academy actually voted. Ever since Helen Hunt won Best Actress and Jack Nicholson won Best Actor for the execrable film As Good as it Gets over the far, far, far, more worthy Robert Duvall in The Apostle, Dustin Hoffman in Wag the Dog, Julie Christie in Afterglow and perhaps most of all Judi Dench in Mrs. Brown, I can't really trust their collective judgement. After many years of a multi-year boycott, I think they have somewhat redeemed themselves in recent years. But I still feel the bitter sting of that dark night in 1997. I digress.
Here is how I think the films stack up with the most deserving in the number one spot and the least deserving in the five spot.
1. No Country For Old Men.
Violent and gruesome, not usually my thing, but an excellent film. Scary, chilling, well-paced, fascinating. All of the actors in this movie are fantastic. Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin all deserve high praise, but so do bit actors like Gene Jones in the role of the gas station owner and Kelly MacDonald as Carla Jean Moss.
A literary costume drama, right up my alley. A fabulous movie. I found it captivating and clever, with some twists I didn't expect. I also appreciated that it didn't go for cheap emotion. Loved every minute of this film.
3. (Tie) Michael Clayton and Juno.
Both are very good films but don't necessarily seem Oscar-worthy. Of course if you compare them to that piece of crap As Good as it Gets discussed above, they are absolutely marvels of cinematic greatness. George Clooney seems incapable of making bad movies. I really enjoyed this film. I thought it was gripping and I thought Tilda Swinton was amazing. If she is up for an award she deserves to win for not over playing this character. Juno was leagues better than your average comedy but that bar is set so low these days that I think this one gets an Oscar nod because it reminded everyone that not every comedy has to dripping in treacle or be some cartoonish spoof of some 1970's stereotype.
5. If I could, I would place There Will be Blood in 87th place.
Perhaps there is some artistic merit to this yawner of a movie, but I wasn't able to identify what it would be. Man, I hated this movie. It was glacial in pace about two hours too long, and totally uncompelling in any way. The characters didn't inspire any kind of emotional reaction whatsoever. Not love, hate, compassion, pity...nothing. And it is no fault of the actors, although I do think that Daniel Day-Lewis sounded like he was pretending to be a newscaster or something, I never never quite got used to his voice and accent. If you haven't seen this one skip it. Or rent it as a cure for insomnia.
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