Author Topic: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon  (Read 25258 times)

Najemikon

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Re: American Beauty (1999) *****
« Reply #45 on: February 23, 2009, 09:26:35 PM »
American Beauty
5 out of 5

...
He’s helped in no short measures by Conrad Hall’s gorgeous award winning photography and Thomas Newman’s elegant score. It can be whimsical for the dream sequences and, like Shawshank, achingly moving (he lost to The Red Violin, which I haven’t seen, but must be superb).

Thomas Newman must be the most Oscar-nominated composer who never actually got one. I really like his work and I have bought some movies just because he did the score.

There are some sequences that truly earn the title phrase and justify Ricky’s (Wes Bentley) dreamy philosophies.

I agree. And those are the parts that still hold up well on repeat viewing, whereas I get more and annoyed with the exaggerated farce, especially the Bening character.

Thomas Newman not having an Oscar, while James Horner does (and for Titanic, too!), is one of the Academies great mistakes.

Much as I enjoy the scenes of the affair, Bening's performance was definitely starting to annoy me more this time. She seems like a caricature, whilst Spacey is so subtle. I thought her best moment by far was on the sofa ("There's a lot about me you don't know, Mr. Smarty Pants") and I wish she could have kept that smoothness throughout.


Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #46 on: February 23, 2009, 09:41:52 PM »
I had really hoped to be able to finish this marathon with my last couple of owned titles: Million Dollar Baby and Crash. The first I adore, as with most of Clint Eastwood's later films, he just has a wonderful touch at directing.

Crash, is controversial, but honestly I did think it was more deserving than Brokeback Mountain which confusingly is probably the better film. But while it was essentially a very good love story, Crash was trying to capture a snapshot of time and features Sandra Bullock in a pretty good performance outside of silly rom-coms.

I'll get around to them eventually and maybe some of the others I missed, plus one day, Slumdog Millionaire, I hope. I'll add them here whenever I do.


Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #47 on: March 15, 2009, 10:03:46 PM »
Thought I might as well keep this open now I can add this years winner! ;)

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #48 on: March 15, 2009, 10:08:24 PM »
2008
Slumdog Millionaire
5 out of 5




One question away from winning Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Jamal (Dev Patae) is aggressively questioned by police. How has he cheated? He must have. He’s from the slums. Jamal relates stories from his life in those slums, with his brother, Salim and a girl, Latika, who still haunts his memories.

Finally I have seen one of this year’s nominations for best film! That means I still can’t say for myself whether it deserved to win, but the others have got to be very good indeed for this is a wonderful film. A vibrant, romantic fantasy (and encompassing all the various meanings of those words) brilliantly delivered by director Danny Boyle with the similar passion he brought to Trainspotting.

There isn’t a lazy moment in the whole film. Every frame bursts with noise and colour. Even the subtitles are a bit radical! And the soundtrack is great as you'd expect from Boyle. It’s based on a book called Q&A by Vikas Swarup and I’m not sure if that is in chronological order, but the screenplay at least maintains a breakneck pace by framing events within events: Jamal defending himself in a police station; answering questions on the show; and flashbacks to his childhood, all linking beautifully together while all he actually wants is to find Latika.

It’s a lot of plates to keep spinning but it is never confusing and always enthralling. I suppose that if you don’t enjoy the film, you would think you could spot several weaknesses, like a contrived impossible premise or implausible conveniences, but this is a fantasy, a metaphor for human spirit and I loved it.

It isn’t all fantasy. The slums of Mumbai are very real and an awe inspiring sight. The first scenes include an incredible pursuit of the young Jamal and his friends through the narrow streets of the slums. Without the Who Wants to be a Millionaire bits, this would be a companion piece to City of God. I like the touches of humour and links to the UK (discussing Eastenders, or an Indian call centre taking calls from Scotland!).

The kids who play the young versions of the characters were actually from the slums and they were great, really throwing themselves into it. Their scenes have the biggest contrasts between funny and heartbreaking and they make you believe every moment. The adults are brilliant too, especially Dev Patel, who I know from the UK series Skins. That shows whole cast were amazing, so I can’t claim to have known he’d make it this far this fast, but he deserves his place on the big screen. It’s a very good performance. The older Latika, the girl he spends much of his life searching for, is played by the gorgeous Freida Pinto. I hear she’s in the running for a Bond girl part. She certainly has the looks and then some, but I hope it’s a substantial part because here she proves she is far more deserving than window dressing for Daniel Craig.

There was a lot of controversy following this film, including snotty insinuations that it seemed to get distribution through blind luck because it was a very small film. Well bollocks. It was always going to find an audience. I think most of it was sour grapes, because it’s one of the best films of last year.

Trailer
« Last Edit: March 15, 2009, 10:14:11 PM by Jon »

Touti

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #49 on: March 15, 2009, 10:17:31 PM »
I haven't seen the movie yet.  I don't know if I want to because to me the base of the story doesn't isn't credible.  For those who havent' heard these comments here's what Salman Rushdie had to say about it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/23/salman-rushdie-slumdog-fu_n_169068.html

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #50 on: March 15, 2009, 10:35:09 PM »
Then Salmon Rushdie goes on my list of people who probably didn't like the film, are looking for things wrong and are on their way back to Sainsbury's to return some grapes he bought because they're off... ;) It's A Wonderful Life features an angel who can traverse dimensions, but the premise and the conclusion are more important that the method. Just saying.

But actually I'm making excuses when there isn't one needed. He wasn't paying attention and could actually be dismissed as a bit thick...

Quote from: a thick bloke called Salmon Rushie
characters wind up at the Taj Mahal _ 1,000 miles from the previous scene.

I've only seen the film once. Maybe I'm wrong and have missed something and will apologise for calling him thick if so, but for now: The "previous scene" was one of several showing the young kids on trains, scamming the passengers in various ways. At one point they are almost caught and end up falling off the roof. They roll down a bank and when they get up... they're teenagers! A clever visual trick, implying a huge passing of time, the implication being they have spent years working the trains, or at least have kept coming back to them. Covering the whole of India would not have been implausible in such a conceit so finding themselves at the Taj Mahal? Doddle. And it leads to an intriguing moment where the two brothers are in awe of the building and have no idea what it is. Tourists know about the Taj Mahal, but the Indian children never knew it was there...

EDIT: Reading some of the comments on that link, I see others have problems with it too. Mainly, I think they're failing to see which parts of the film are supposed to be pure fantasy, or to give them more credit, they do understand, but don't agree it should be presented that way. Well, ok. I addressed that above and I think it's important to watch this as an ode to life, and its setting is secondary. However, one comment caught my attention though because they were very offended that Boyle was presenting "an American romance" in a country whose culture would never accept it. That's interesting, because it's kind of the point and I think the film and probably the book was well aware of the irony. These kids have been abandoned by their country, so why should they follow the rules? They had no chance of being accepted in an arranged marriage. The film showed several times how they were trapped.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2009, 10:46:10 PM by Jon »

Touti

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #51 on: March 15, 2009, 10:58:48 PM »
I can't really say anything until I've watched it.  Maybe I'll rent  :yucky: it sometime this week or next week-end.

Offline Achim

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #52 on: March 16, 2009, 06:00:26 AM »
Since when is Salmon Rushdie a trusted source of film criticism...? :headscratch:

Like, that "characters wind up at the Taj Mahal _ 1,000 miles from the previous scene" comment. What's supposed to mean for a film? Western films have that all the time and most people, even from the country where it was made, won't ever know. I remember seeing Moving Targets(?; spy film with Gene Hackman and Matt Dillon) where at some point they were running up the stairs of the train station in Hamburg, Germany, and when they turn around the corner at the top they suddenly are in Lübeck, Germany, some 50km away... :laugh:


Anyway, Jon, you point it's based on a book. Do you know if that book is supposed to be based on real events?

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #53 on: March 16, 2009, 02:44:58 PM »
I'm pretty sure it isn't true. It would be nice if it was, but it's more a sort of parable.

Funny you mentioning Moving Targets. I saw it start on TV last night! Just called Target though, I think. Probably a UK thing. Looked pretty good; like a forerunner of Bourne...

Offline Achim

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #54 on: March 16, 2009, 06:10:11 PM »
IMDb is your friend... So, yeah, Target is right.

I haven't seen Bourne, any (:-[), but I remember Target being a decent action flick as well.

richierich

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #55 on: March 16, 2009, 06:18:41 PM »
IMDb is your friend... So, yeah, Target is right.

I haven't seen Bourne, any (:-[),

 :o :o


Offline Achim

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #56 on: March 16, 2009, 06:22:04 PM »

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #57 on: March 16, 2009, 07:11:49 PM »
 ???

I'm really surprised, Achim! I would have thought you'd seen Bourne Identity at least. In fact, it's Jimmy isn't it? You're using Achim's login!  :tease:

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #58 on: March 17, 2009, 04:56:43 AM »
 :hysterical:

I've the first 2, not as good as the book (in fact they have absolutly nothing to do with the books) but a good time waster. The fact that Matt Damon and Brian Cox (the best Hannibal Lecter) are in them are certainly a + for me, but I can't watch them without pause (way too fast and headache inducing for me :laugh:).

Offline Achim

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #59 on: March 17, 2009, 05:13:57 AM »
I think I may have seen about 50% of the first film on HBO.

O.k., o.k. If even Jimmy owns the first 2 I shall place the first one on my wish list.