(image courtesy of AMC Entertainment)
For the fourth year, AMC Entertaiment presents the Best Picture Showcase. I had the pleasure of taking in last year’s event, which featured five of the films nominated for Best Motion Picture for the 2009 Oscars. The moment that event wrapped up, I immediately began looking forward to this year’s presentation. With 10 films getting the nod for the Best Motion Picture race, AMC decided to split them into back-to-back Saturdays leading up to the Oscars on Sunday, March 7th. I took in the first Saturday along with my partner in crime & resident movie geek Jeff Smith, and enjoyed conversation inbetween movies with Bryan Truta of 105.1 Jack FM (thank you, sir!). With that said, here are the five movies we watched, and my thoughts on each one.
I remember going to the movies a while back – it may have been to see Coraline. At that time, I saw a trailer for Avatar and I thought to myself, “This looks… interesting?”. After its release in December, I followed the stats week-by-week and watched the earnings for Avatar continue to grow. I haven’t had a chance to go out to movies much over recent years (due to an old work schedule that has since changed), so I never got around to forcing myself to go see it. Now I’m legitimately questioning why I didn’t. The 3D experience made it very fun, and perhaps it’s the kid in me who still enjoys going into Spencer’s Gifts, but the colors throughout the film (especially in the forest scenes) really brought life to it. I can’t deny the credits of a movie that not only keeps me “into it” and not bored at all for close to three hours, but also manages to capture my emotion throughout – from smiles and snickers to sadness and moist eyes. The score complemented the film well in many places, and that will always stand out to me.
Up In The Air:
Jason Reitman did a fine job with this, and I’m not just saying that as a St. Louis native who got plenty of view of both the inside and outside of Lambert St. Louis Intl. Airport as well as several shots in downtown STL. A friend of mine, Shane Adams, commented that Anna Kendrick arguably stole the show with her role as Natalie Keener. I would find that hard to argue, even if I wanted to. Her on-screen chemistry with George Clooney (Ryan Bingham) didn’t feel forced, nor did Clooney’s with Vera Farmiga (Alex Goran). Plenty of good lines, and a quality plot led by a solid performer. I really like UITA and think it has some strong legs.
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire:
This one was tough to watch, I won’t lie. I do think that Mo’Nique has a strong run at best supporting actress, but that might be the only thing I really see coming out of this one (although Lenny Kravitz playing a male nurse got a good chuckle out of me). The fewer movies Mariah Carey appears in, the better.
The Blind Side:
I’d been looking forward to seeing The Blind Side since I saw trailers for it last year. For never having been a fan of Tim McGraw, I didn’t mind him at all in his role as Sean Tuohy. TBS is truly a feel-good movie (as well as a biopic), but I finished this one with the feeling that it has the feel of an ABC after-school special or a Lifetime original movie rather than a legitimate contender for Best Motion Picture. I enjoyed it as much as I was hoping I would, but I don’t see it being at the top of the list.
Two words: Quentin Tarantino. When you hear that name, several things come to mind. Good screenplay. Plenty of action. Copious amounts of violence and/or blood. Basterds lived up to all of that and then some. Despite being a 2+ hour movie, there wasn’t a moment where I felt like the film was dragging or causing me to lose interest. Plenty of stereotypes, but they’re played out well. Arguably, the one thing I personally enjoyed most out of IB was the buildup to the climax of the film. You knew it was coming, all the details were worked out. it was just a matter of getting there. Then, with Shosanna Dreyfus (aka Emmanuelle Mimieux) being taken out of the picture, there was a moment of questioning whether or not the fourth spool in the film was already in place and ready to show, or if the entire plan was ruined.
Out of these five films, I have to go with Inglorious Basterds. Hands down. If I had to rank them, I would go:
1) Inglorious Basterds
3) Up In The Air
4) The Blind Side
Coming up this Saturday (March 6th) will be the remaining five films up for Best Motion Picture: Up, A Serious Man, The Hurt Locker, An Education and District 9. I’ll follow up with another blog entry summarizing my thoughts on those five movies, and my opinion of the Best Motion Picture winner, next week.