Thursday, February 11, 2016

Best Picture Shenanigans: The Revenant, Room, Anomalisa, and other Stuff

I'm back with more movie shenanigans. Let's get down to it.

The Revenant- There's only one good thing about this movie: Leo is finally going to get his Oscar. Honestly, every frame of this evaporated from my head the moment it was over. It felt like a bunch of shock and awe and suspiciously CGI  bears with no substance. Leo turns in a great performance (what's new), but unfortunately that can only elevate this vapid film making so far. Maybe it's just not my thing, but considering my rapport with Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu (A cool guy, but who also failed to win me over with Birdman), I'm shocked at how surprised I am that I didn't like it.
Will it Win?: It's looking like it is somewhat neck and neck with Spotlight, the latter having the edge to beat it out.

Room- Oh my God, this movie broke my heart into a thousand pieces, in the best way. Alternately harshly dark and impossibly hopeful, Room hits all the right notes in this strange tale of freedom. Brie Larson is knock out, bringing the skills she displayed in wonderful indie work Short Term 12 and turning them up to eleven while still keeping her feet on the ground. Jacob Tremblay shows remarkable skillz for someone of his age (kid is like nine!), and the cinematography, screenplay, and direction are the excellent groundwork for the story. Don't miss it. But know that it will be a little claustrophobic for some peeps.
Will it Win?: Definitely not, but that doesn't mean anything when your movie is this good.

Anomalisa- Most educated film watchers will know that Charlie Kauffman is an acquired taste. He makes really weird meta movies that are just too much to take in for a lot of people. I'm kind of in the middle of this theory. I enjoyed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, probably his most accessible work, and have tried wading through others, but just found they weren't to my taste. So in giving Anomalisa, a very adult oriented stop motion film, a shot, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel. Well, I definitely fall on the other end of the Kauffman spectrum. I didn't even finish this. So pretentious, boring, unfunny, with only occasional glimmers of good stuff. This movie is weirdly immature for something that is supposedly so sophisticated. And David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh both do their best, and Leigh gets the best bit with a weirdly melancholic version of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", but honestly, this movie sucks. As our good friend Shirley from Community one said, Charlie, some of us have to go to work in the morning.
It stands a chance at Best Animated Feature, but watch out for Inside Out, a tour de force technically and a return  to form story-wise for Pixar.

Brooklyn- I don't consider myself one for sappy romance films, and luckily, Brooklyn does romance without the sappy and syrupy trapping of every other romantic endeavor of the last couple of years in film. It is so charming, well done, full of great performances and heart, the saccharine silliness of Nicholas Sparks is, thank God, miles away. Saoirse Ronan has long been one of my favorite actresses (her work in Hanna, Atonement, and The Grand Budapest Hotel are all awesome), but she really gets the chance to carry a movie with dramatic heft here, and pulls it off splendidly. Beautiful cinematography, and the costume design is to die for. A perfect period piece. Brava!
Will it Win: Definitely could be considered a dark horse, but don't expect it to.

Joy - David O Russell, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert DeNiro in the same movie? Haven't we seen this before? The answer is yes. But I liked this one much better than the weirdly off American Hustle. J Law does her feisty acting thing, in a role that she is honestly completely miscast in. But that doesn't mean she isn't going to try her hardest to prove that she is right for it. Once again, Bradley Cooper walks away with it and Robert DeNiro rounds it off perfectly. Not bad, but not up to par with the brilliantly done Silver Linings Playbook.
JLaw definitely doesn't have anything on Brie Larson this Best Actress race.

The Martian- Ridley Scott is back in space, and back in form for this excellent foray into once again saving Matt Damon from death. (How much money have we spent on saving Monsieur Damon? A lot, someone calculated it). Anyway, the script is perfectly taut with just the right amount of humor, and wonderful performances all around from the cast, although Matt Damon truly proves his skillz, carrying the movie by himself for large stretches of time. The determination and human spirit of the film make for a great space exploration piece, both of the actual space and the human condition (oh yeah, I just whipped out the human condition, you know it's good).
Will it Win?: Probably not, but it's definitely not the worst choice nominated, and very well worth the watch.

I still haven't gotten around to Carol and the Danish Girl (rehearsals for Legally Blonde + Southern movie theaters + me not having any money = bad timing), but that about rounds up most of the movies I planned on seeing for the Oscars. I'll be back with a full report on the broadcast and all that jazz. Also, some movie reviews might pop up in between, and I'll definitely back with a writeup on the upcoming Grammys (HAMILTON).