In the last few days I have managed to watch more of the films nominated in this years Oscars so I thought I would update my views on the nominations.
Director: Martin Scorsese
The sets are incredible with a labyrinthine feel to them. They just look so much fun to play in. The red, white and blue colour motif runs throughout the film in sets, costumes and lighting. The film has rich layers of sound and a very French feeling to the soundtrack. The same section of music is played at numerous points in the film. I have to say that they are all very English Parisians!
The fire that kills Jude Law (who incidentally is only in the film for about 15 minutes tops) is not one of the most believable special effects I have seen in recent years – could be due to watching a 3D movie in 2D but then it shouldn’t really have made any difference. In fact a number of the special effects are suspect (the clockwork mouse springs to mind).
Sacha Baron Cohen is very funny as the bumbling station inspector with a jumped up sense of importance. Solid performances from the entire cast although some well-known names underused, such as Christopher Lee, Richard Griffiths and Frances De la Tour.
The bookshop is exquisite but then I am a book lover and can easily see myself spending days exploring it. The automaton is beautiful – the level of detail that went into the clockwork is incredible. The archive footage of very early films really appeals to me as a film graduate and intercuts nicely with the narrative. However the references in the second half of the film, like to Melies and the Lumiere brothers may be lost to any one without any knowledge of the history of film. Indeed I was talking to my mum about those elements of the film and she confessed that I had lost her when I mentioned Melies and La Voyage dans la Lune. I enjoyed the film but I wasn’t blown away by it.
Director: Paul Feig
I have to confess that while I enjoyed Bridesmaids immensely I didn’t find it as laugh-out-loud funny as I was expecting it to be. By far the funniest character is Melissa McCarthy’s Megan and the Oscar nomination is well deserved. She is delightfully crude while at the same time being the sweet, caring and understanding presence needed within the film – the only one who realizes that Annie (Kristen Wiig) is having a really hard time and goes out of her way to help her.
Transformers: Dark Side Of The Moon
Director: Michael Bay
Once again the special effects were absolutely excellent – you totally believe that the Autobots and Decepticons are real despite it being a ridiculous premise (I love the Transformers films but you have to agree it really is). The sound editing and mixing is flawless and continues the unique sound from the previous Transformers films.
You can say what you like about Michael Bay (and Dr K does loudly and often!) but I like the Transformers movies. They don’t attempt to be anything other than what they are (which is robots hitting each other) in sublime detail with a surprisingly emotional centre and an excellent cast capably led by Shia LaBeouf (who is a brilliant young actor in my opinion!)
Director: Bennett Miller
Mark Kermode says “It’s a baseball film that isn’t about baseball” and I agree with him. You actually see very little baseball being played as it is more about trying to overcome the problem of money while trying to change the minds and attitudes of men very much set in their ways. It’s an interesting film that has been shot well.
Brad Pitt gives a quiet but powerful performance as Billy Beane, the general manager taking a risk to try to improve is team and in doing so helping a number of players, perhaps floundering in their careers, along the way. I’m not a Jonah Hill fan but I really enjoyed watching him in this film. He gives very straight and thoughtful performance with little humour but it works. And it’s a brilliant partnership between Pitt and Hill. I still think it is Clooney’s year however good Pitt’s performance is.
Director: Tate Taylor
So far my stand out film in the running for Best Picture. Emma Stone is spectacular as passionate Skeeter and should really have been nominated. I like to think that I would be one of the people who would stand up for what they believe in no matter what the climate and therefore connected strongly with Skeeter. Many of the women come off badly thanks in large part to their views, attitudes and treatment of ‘the help’, although their characters are demonstrative of the time the film is set. Viola Davies’ Aibileen is the heart of the film and the driving force behind it and not just because she narrates the film. Her performance is striking and emotional and her Best Actress nomination is well deserved.
I have said before that I’m not entirely sure any film should be allowed multiple nominations in a category and in some ways I still think that. I will say that both the performances by Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain, as Minny and Celia respectively, are both extremely strong. Minny is the perfect foil for Aibileen and forms a dynamic team with her, providing some hilarious moments. And her relationship with the naive Celia is rewarding to watch.
The costumes and sets are divine and so very much part of their time. Its a heartwarming film that made me smile, even while crying at the rather emotional ending, and it’s definitely one I will be recommending to others.
I still have a fair few films to watch before the Oscars so expect some more updates in the next few days.