Tuesday, December 28, 2010

For Your Consideration

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sent out their ballots to members yesterday. They will nominate their fellow actors, directors, writers, and craftspeople for the Oscars.

Who knows if they can be swayed in their decision making? All I know is that I am not the one to sway them. But, I can damn well put my thoughts out into the universe.

I tried to avoid naming films here that I will be talking about for the next several weeks because that would get monotonous for you and for me. However, every one of these films deserves a second look or a first look.

For your consideration:

Best Picture -- I’m Still Here

Much derided upon its release as a deceitful, deplorable gimmick, the film stands as a record of unparalleled dedication to the craft of acting and filmmaking. The reality is not the point. The point is that director Casey Affleck and star Joaquin Phoenix dedicated two years of their real lives to pulling off a magnificent magic trick of a film. This is a truly special achievement that has not been fully appreciated and may not be for a long time.

Best Director -- Tim Heatherington and Sebastian Junger for Restrepo

With a platoon of American troops, they walked into the most dangerous place in the world, filmed it, and brought it back for the world to see. Some have criticized the film for not taking a point of view, but that is precisely the film’s strength. The viewer must decide for himself whether the war that Heatherington and Junger are reporting is good or right or fair. The filmmakers show courage both by embedding themselves with the troops and by trusting their images over any message.

Best Supporting Actress -- Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

As Ramona Flowers, Winstead is called upon to be the dream girl of every geek, nerd, and gamer in the world. She’s smart, sarcastic, cool, and perfect for the hero (us). Except that she is a real person, with real problems and a sad, unfortunate past. What makes Winstead’s performance so great is that she perfectly evokes the been-there-done-that-and-left sadness that makes Flowers such a fully realized foil for Pilgrim. The movie does not work without her.

Cinematography -- Newton Thomas Sigel for Leap Year

This is a slight romantic comedy about which the lead actor stated he only showed up for the pay day. No one could blame the crew for phoning it in as well. It is a credit to Sigel that he did not. So, despite the fluffy plot and “clever misunderstandings,” the countrysides, vistas, and castles look gorgeous on screen. Lit beautifully and shot beautifully, Sigel deserved a better story on which to hang his considerable gifts.

Art Direction/Set Design -- Aline Bonetto for Micmacs

Most will remember Jeanne-Pierre Jeunet for his work on Amelie (also designed by Bonetto). Like most of his films, Micmacs takes place in a world that exists only in imagination; however, that world is so well rendered that it takes on an air of absolute realism because the feelings and the sensations are real. Bonetto’s sense of color and texture brings Jeunet’s world to life.

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