The man has a ridiculous amount of work ahead, but with the faith of the nation behind him, I hope and expect to see great things from our 44th President. So congrats to the entire Obama family, and here's hoping the next 4-8 years will be ones of peace and a better market!
Since I didn't have a chance to get out my full reviews of The Reader and Doubt in a timely manner, let me give you the short and sweet on both of them:
The Reader - The Reader ends up telling a story which hasn't been addressed before. On the surface, it's a film about a young boy who has an affair with a much older woman, only to find out years later that she is on trial for committing Nazi war crimes. But on further inspection, it's a story about the first generation after the Holocaust, and how they did or did not deal with the sins of their family, friends and country. As a boy in the film says, "Everyone knew." How do you move past the horror and forgive? How do you love people who committed such heinous crimes? The ultimate message of the film is that love is an uncontrollable force, no matter how hard you try to fight it. The most stand-out aspect of the film has to be the performance of David Kross. German-born newcomer Kross, leaps off the screen with hypnotic vivacity... yeah, that's right, I said hypnotic vivacity. At only 19, he's already able to show his range, even within the confines of one role. I was amazed at how much I liked him and his character right from the start. Kate Winslet gives a beautiful performance too (better than her Revolutionary Road one), but she is still upstaged by her young male counterpart. I am still baffled as to why he hasn't been nominated for anything... Ray Fiennes has a relatively small role in the film as the adult version of Michael Berg (Kross). His performance feels too withheld at first, but as the film progresses, you feel he plays the part exactly as he should. Major kudos to all involved, especially the two beloved producers who we lost this year, Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella.
I think the film will definitely see some Oscar glory, I only wish that some of it could have been bestowed on David Kross.
Doubt - The play turned film has now been nominated for 5 Oscars, 4 in the acting categories and one for best writing. At first, I was disappointed that it was not up for best picture, but then realized the strength of the film really does lie completely in the acting, and that Doubt ends up in the categories where it most belongs. The sweet and naive Amy Adams, the strong and hopeless Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and the incomparable Meryl Streep all come together to give some of the best performances of their career. Well... that may be a bit much, but they do play some incredible characters, who are sure to stay with you long after the movie ends. Set in the mid 1960's, the film deals with themes of religion, segregation/integration, morality, sexuality and authority. You do not need to leave the theater knowing exactly what occurred in this small Bronx Catholic school, but you do leave with a sense of faith and belief, be it entrusted to one character, or the other. Meryl Streep needs no further praise from me, a lowly blogger, but suffice it to say, she rocked this part and played every moment to perfection. Amy Adams continues to give me reasons to love her with her signature sweetness and depth of character, Just as you begin to have her pegged in the role one way, she surprises you. Hoffman is perfectly suited to the film version of the play, giving the audience plenty of reasons to both doubt and trust his character. His facial expressions are some of the best in the film.
So if you can't tell already, without a doubt, I loved the film, and I'll be sending vibes of good faith its way come February 22, Oscar night.
So it's that time of year again. And as my friend pointed out to me. the 2009 Oscar nominations (also go here for apple's list complete with links to trailer, soundtracks, etc.), which were announced on the 22nd, actually came out on the day Heath Ledger died one year ago... I'm not saying it means anything, but it is a little weird. There are two things I can say with absolute certainty about this year's Academy Awards. First, Ledger will take home posthumous Oscar gold for best supporting actor in The Dark Knight, and everyone knows it. Second, Wall-E will win for best full-length animated feature. Also Slumdog Millionaire better take home best score! Other than that, it's any one's game.
As I have said before, this was a relatively weak year for film, but some of the best movies I saw were blatantly ignored. While Anne Hathaway is nominated for best actress, Rachel Getting Married, my favorite film of the year, is not anywhere to be found. Also snubbed was Happy-Go-Lucky (no nom for Sally Hawkins... for shame), and The Dark Knight, which for sure should have been in the best pic category. Clint Eastwood was also not featured this year, despite releasing 2 films. While Angelina Jolie is nominated for Changling, I doubt she'll win, and they didn't even acknowledge Gran Torino. But don't feel too bad for Clint yet, the man has already been honored more than Jesus. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button leads the pack with an absolutely ridiculous 13 nominations... CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHAT PEOPLE SEE IN THIS MOVIE?! He's Brad Pitt, he's old, he's young, who cares? He doesn't act people! He speaks with a southern drawl and he ages, backwards... that's the movie. Since this has been the year of Slumdog at all the other award shows, it stands to reason that it will likely take home best pic. While I very much enjoyed the film, (mostly the third quarter of it and especially the music), I can't say I'll be happy if it wins best picture. It just wasn't, and Danny Boyle has done better. The two big mystery races are for best actor and actress... Will it be new kid on the block, Anne Hathaway, or often overlooked brilliant standby, Kate Winslet? Will it be veteran Sean Penn, or comeback king, Mickey Rourke? Who knows, but I'll be watching, score card in one hand, mimosa in the other.