On Saturday, Ajay and I attended the Best Picture Showcase at AMC Northpark, which showed all five Best Picture nominees in one day. This was made possible by the kind people at AMC who let me take along someone with me.
All in all, it was a fairly enjoyable day; and outside of the fact that AMC let me go for free, I would’ve gladly paid to go see this. (You can’t beat $30 for an all day pass for five movies plus free snacks.)
In the interest of time and saving your Google Readers and whatnot, below here are my thoughts on each of the Best Pic nominees:
The Reader: Easily the most disappointing film of the day. Scott has a great post here on it and I can’t disagree with much he says. For a movie about German guilt post-Holocaust, there’s really not much guilt. Hannah Schmitz, the character accused of war crimes, is remorseful for very little. “The dead are still dead,” she tells Ralph Fiennes’ character. And Ralph Fiennes doesn’t do a lot of wallowing in guilt. He mainly feels sorry for himself and sorry for Hannah. Not much time is spent reflecting on the actual atrocities that happened which Hannah’s been convicted for. Michael’s own sense of personal shame at boinking a Nazi prevents him from doing the right thing and admitting a key piece of evidence during a trial.
It’s two hours of a combination of self-pity and stubborn refusal to own up to any sense of personal responsibility. When Michael’s finally taken to task at the end of the movie for being pretty much a self-centered jerk, it’s nothing the audience hasn’t been thinking for the previous two hours. I can see what the filmmakers intended for the message to be, but they missed the mark.
Frost/Nixon: Good, but not great. I do have to say that I’m personally really burned out on Nixon movies, myself, and this does little to offer up anything new to the Richard Nixon Cinematic Mythos. I liked Frank Langella and the rest of the cast, it’s just that the subject matter is really, really tired. And it was just kind of a decent film – not something I’d give an Oscar.
Slumdog Millionaire: I was so relieved that Piper over at Lazy Eye Theatre didn’t seem to think that Slumdog was the film equivalent of sunshine, rainbows and puppy dogs. Honestly, I thought I was the only one. To be frank, I liked the way the story was outlined and I liked the performances from all involved. What I felt was middling was the direction from Danny Boyle – fanboys, set your phasers to ‘stun’, I guess – which is just the same old bag of tricks from him. I would see certain shots and realize, “Oh, yeah, I’m watching a DANNY BOYLE film, that’s for sure”. He’s not a bad director, it’s just that this definitely isn’t the best Danny boy’s done, and I don’t think it was a Best Picture winner, for sure. Also – I really didn’t get the whole ‘feel-good’ aspect of it that other people seemed to get from the movie. A kiss at the end does not balance the two hours of brutality and poverty I witnessed before.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – More like “Give me an intermission for a bathroom break”. In serious need of editing, that’s for sure. Also, the film runs awkwardly; the beginning all the way up until about 1955 felt stilted at times and definitely slow as molasses. Once you hit the ’50’s, it hits a good stride and you don’t notice it anymore. Cate Blanchett and Taraji P. Henson were amazing. Brad Pitt – I hate to say it – was kind of cardboard-y.
Milk – easily the best film we saw that day. Everything ran smoothly and nothing felt slow. Sean Penn was an absolute knockout and I say that as someone who loathes Sean Penn. And talk about a talented group of supporting actors. Franco and the lot were really, really good. It was just a great movie all the way around and one that I personally felt was better than Slumdog, but that’s just me.
Did anyone else see any Best Picture nominees this year?
Also, I’ll have a couple of pictures up from the screening later on, if you’re interested.