Monday, February 23, 2009

Another Year in Oscar

I didn't have any deep emotional investment in the Oscars, but I was glad to see Kate Winslet finally get an Oscar (for a role I have not yet seen) and pleased to see Heath Ledger's last performance rewarded. I continue to seem to be the only person who didn't like Wall-E, but its win for Best Animation was inevitable and nothing to fret over.

I still have not seen most of the films with the most Oscar "buzz" -- Milk, The Wrestler, Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Rachel Getting Married, Frozen River, Revolutionary Road. Sigh. I follow the movies?

I did have a slight investment in Best Documentary, where the two front-runners -- and the two I had seen -- were Man On Wire and Encounters at the End of the World.

I enjoyed both, but I was glad to see MOW edge out Encounters. The latter was just another vehicle for Werner Herzog to go to an exotic setting and find quirky things to film, with minimal concern for weaving it into anything coherent. Without question, Herzog has a gift for finding interest in the smallest and oddest places. Here's a nice passage from Encounters, which is undeniably appealing but at the same time leaves the viewer with a sense of "Yes, and ...?":

MOW, by contrast, did very nearly the reverse: it took an odd figure and his odd feat and turned it into a romance. It really puts you in the mind of the subject, Philippe Petit, and succeeds in taking us well past "Why would anyone be so crazy?"

If you have Netflix, you can watch Man On Wire right now.


larryniven said...


Milk was good, and I don't usually like biopics. James Franco eventually got to be a teensy bit fake, though.

The Wrestler was okay. Sort of badly written, but okay. I prefer Aronofsky's other stuff.

Slumdog was a very well-executed piece of fluff. Rather entertaining (M.I.A. on the soundtrack doesn't hurt) but not really all that substantive - it won those awards cause it was so foreign.

The Reader was entirely predictable, which for me is enough to dismiss it - Holocaust stuff does very little for me. I like Ralph Fiennes, though.

Rachel Getting Married was sort of like Garden State only nobody was as likable. And the music wasn't as good, obviously.

Revolutionary Road was hilarious, but it wasn't trying to be.

Didn't see the rest - if you decide to, good luck!

Dale said...

I hear ya, Larry. I *want* to see Milk, the Wrestler, Slumdog, and Revolutionary Road, the latter mostly because I'm reading the book. The others -- and really, all of these -- can wait for the rental, and even then, I might just let the opportunity pass for a good long while.

It really wasn't a great year in movies. Not terrible, but not great.

larryniven said...

Well, it helped that I have an uncle in the industry and I got to watch his screeners :-p

If you really want to watch something fun, go get In Bruges, and then get some of McDonagh's stuff out of your library.

Dale said...

I did see In Bruges and liked it. I didn't miss *everything*, it just seems that way. ;-)