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Willing to be manipulated

February 21, 2010
tags: ,

I made a decision a few weeks ago that I would try to see as many Oscar-nominated films this year as I could. The reasons being… as noted earlier, I went through a period around the holidays where I didn’t see any movies for about 5 weeks, and wanted to force myself to sit and watch some films. Also, I just wanted to do something different.

So far, I haven’t done a great job. I’ve seen a grand total of nine films – including two that were nominated only for Best Makeup – but that’s still nine more than I watched before last year’s Oscars (which I also didn’t watch).

I even went out to the theatre for the first time in several months, and saw, in succession, the three worst trailers I’ve ever seen – a new Clash Of The Titans film, a new Miley Cyrus film, and a new Adam Sandler film. Apparently, this is going to be a lean spring for movies.

The two most recent films I’ve seen are Julie & Julia and The Blind Side. Both feature a Best Actress nominee; both are based on true stories. Both are shallow, manipulative pieces of schmaltz; and I enjoyed both of them.

The question is, did I enjoy them in spite of their manipulative schmaltz, or because of it? It’s one of the hardest questions to answer when watching a film that you know you should rip apart afterwards – but in the case of Julie & Julia, all you want to do is go out and buy a lot of butter. And in the case of The Blind Side, I think the entire film was engineered with the purpose of trying to make grown men cry. I don’t know if that’s a noble filmmaking cause; there aren’t too many films that can do that. The Blind Side should make grown men misty, if not entirely tearful, and I appreciated the effort.

Or maybe my personal life has hit a spot where I’m quite willing to be manipulated by well-acted schmaltz with high production values. Perhaps a future Me will have a crustier outside and look back on these films with scorn.

(such was my experience with Forrest Gump, which I enjoyed quite a lot when I saw it in the theatre – the first film I saw in my first year of university with my new roommates. Three years later, when I had wrapped up my Film Studies degree and was a hardened, cynical moviegoer, I was less impressed. When I actually paid close attention to the dialogue, I thought it kinda sucked. But that was ten years ago; perhaps it’s time to give Forrest yet another viewing.)

Anyways, some early Oscar picks:

Best Picture

Out of the ten nominees, I’ve seen The Blind Side and Up. I guess I’ll choose Up, though the Pixar films tend to be overrated. It’s good, but I had the same experience watching it that I had with Wall-E: the first 15 minutes are incredibly great, but the rest is not at the same level. It’s not bad, but a little disappointing when you spend the final hour of a film waiting for it to get back what it lost.

Best Actress

In addition to Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side and Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia, I’ve seen Helen Mirren in The Last Station. Bullock seems to be the favourite, and that’s fine by me. Streep and Mirren are good, but they’re both let down by their screenwriters, and their characters are almost supporting characters. At least Bullock really carries the film.

Best Supporting Actor

I’ve only seen Christopher Plummer in The Last Station. It’s a fine performance by a great actor in a crappy movie. I’ll definitely watch Inglourious Basterds sometime soon; unfortunately, I don’t think The Messenger has even been released in Canada yet.

Best Makeup

Oddly, I’ve seen 2/3 of the nominees, Star Trek and Il divo. I would have to vote for the Il divo crew, who turned this guy into this.

Star Trek was good, but I’ve already forgotten what the villain looked like.

Best Animated Short

I’ve seen Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty and Logorama. The latter appears to be getting lots of buzz, though I thought it ran out of ideas real fast. Both have impressive animation, but there has to be a better film out there.

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