Oscar Movies

I’ve seen almost all of the movies nominated for Best Picture this year, so here are my thoughts on them. I don’t know or care much about  what the actual academy looks for in a best picture, so I’m not going to speculate or make any predictions, I’m just going to talk about MY opinions. I have not seen Django Unchained or Amour, and I probably won’t see them.

This movie was gripping to the max. I was engrossed the whole time, and definitely felt like I was there. I also hadn’t known anything about the events that it was based on (The Iran Hostage Crisis and the Canadian Caper), so I really appreciated learning about them. After seeing the movie, I read about the true events (as they are of course a bit different from what is portrayed in the movie), and I was glad to have been introduced to this part of history.

No. Just, no. Reeeallly did not like this movie. Not only was it unpleasant to watch and poorly crafted (I don’t know much about film-making, but I like a movie that feels tight and honed, and this was not), but it also did the opposite of what I think it was meant to do. I believe that it was intended to present a way of viewing life that people like myself (white, middle class people) do not often hold, and to encourage us to see it as valid. For example, the way that these people live could often be considered irresponsible and selfish. I think that the filmmakers wanted us to view it from a more sympathetic angle and to accept it as an equally valid way of living. BUT. It did the opposite for me. It presented a view of the world that I had barely been aware of before, and that I now have very little tolerance for. They WERE leading irresponsible and selfish lives. And yes, that IS a value judgement, and I don’t care. The little girl was very cute though. Is she an amazing actress? I don’t know. She was very believable in this movie, but with child actors, you never know if it’s the child herself or the director/other factors. So I’d have to see her in something else.

Again, no. Okay, I am a HUGE Les Miserables fan. I have seen the show many times (I stopped counting around 20), have the whole thing memorized, I’ve read the book, you get it. I’m one of those people who feels that Les Miz BELONGS TO ME. So there’s your disclaimer. Here’s the most diplomatic thing I can say about this movie: Mr. Hooper, if you don’t like this musical, then don’t make the musical!

It seems that the director liked the story of Les Miz, but not the Broadway show. I believe this because of the choices that he made. He put in quite a few elements from the book, which is all well and good, but they often conflict with the plot of the musical. It would have been fine if he had stuck with just showing Gavroche’s elephant home, or Fantine getting her teeth pulled (both from the book, not from the musical), but when you have Eponine bringing a letter TO Marius rather than FROM Marius (the former being from the book, the latter being from the musical), it changes the entire character of Eponine. Both versions of her character are valid, but as a fan of the musical, and as someone who just paid a ticket to see the movie MUSICAL, I want to watch the MUSICAL version of Eponine, not the BOOK version. This is just ONE example. Many times, choices were made to incorporate the book that simply did not work with the format of the musical (i.e. the battle scenes didn’t have the right dynamics).

But the most important choice that the director made was in his casting. Now, a lot has been said about Russell Crowe. And yes, I agree, he was a very poor choice. He can’t sing. But I’ll go further and say that NONE of the lead actors (aside from Samantha Barks, who has played Eponine many times on stage) were good enough to have been cast. For Hollywood actors, they can sing pretty well. But this is a Broadway musical. It should be sung by Broadway actors. Hugh Jackman’s voice has an old-goat quality to it, Anne Hathaway simply does not have the power or purity of tone, Eddie Redmayne can’t do vibrato without vibrating his whole head. I actually thought Amanda Seyfried was just fine (granted, this could be because Cosette is not the most dynamic of characters). You might accuse me of thinking that NO ONE is good enough to be cast in “my baby”, but that is just not true! Any of the actors who have played these characters on Broadway (or really any actors who actually have the ability to sing LIKE Broadway actors) would have been great. Tom Hooper just chose to fill his movie with famous people. Which is understandable, since he wants to make money. And they were good enough to make him money, but not good enough to do justice to this work.

Don’t even get me started on all the changes (and additions!) he made to the actual music….

As I’ve said in an earlier post, this movie was beautiful but agonizing. I love animals, and animals were in pain or distress throughout the entire movie, so it was very difficult for me to watch. The twist at the end was interesting and heartbreaking. Didn’t make me believe in God though. 🙂

It was a fine movie, but nothing that I wouldn’t expect to see on a History channel special. I feel weird leaving it at that, since there’s been so much acclaim for this movie. But…what else can I say?

Really liked this movie. As everyone is saying, it’s a realistic, sympathetic portrayal of mental illness. The performances were great (and who doesn’t love Jennifer Lawrence?), the love story was sweet. One thing that will always bug me, though, is the dance competition. It was not believable, which is especially odd in a movie that is so nuanced and realistic. Ways this should/could have been fixed: a) Their routine could have been more conventional (many of their steps/moves would have been considered non-regulation, if not offensive to the competition itself). b) The other dancers could have received different scores/been less professional. If this competition consists of all professional dancers, then Pat and Tiffany would not have even been allowed on the stage. If the competition is for lower-level dancers, then they fit in, but then we need to see more dancers at their level. c) The only other way to make this believable would be to *SPOILER ALERT* not have Pat and Tiffany receive an average score. Based on what it looked like, in real life, their routine really should have gotten them removed from the competition. So that’s just a small thing that nags at me, but like I said, I thought the movie as a whole was great.

This movie was exactly as I expected. I had heard that the torture scenes are pretty bad, but I expected to disagree with that. I have a bit of a dark-streak, so I see a lot of disturbing things in movies. As a consequence, I’m used to brushing it off when people warn me about something disturbing in a movie. And this was no exception. So anyway, it was a pretty good movie. Kept me interested, I learned a bit. Not as engrossing as Argo, though. Speaking of Argo, I felt from watching both Zero and Argo that someone was pushing this whole “America, rah! rah!” thing. Like I could totally see some government person needing support for some big thing that’s gonna happen soon, so he backed these two “America is great and powerful!” movies to gain momentum from the people. I’m not actually this much of a conspiracy theorist, but I just got a quick whiff of that. Like the people need a little pick-me-up, so let’s make some patriotic movies.

So that’s it! I welcome other people’s opinions too.

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0 thoughts on “Oscar Movies

  1. I definitely do not recommend seeing “Amour”. I like your overall analysis, but disagree with a few of your points. Specifically, I think “Beasts of the Southern Wild” was a film about death and the little girl’s initiation into the grown up world instead of a representation of the poor people in New Orleans. I think that when viewed in this way it appears to be a very well made film. The reason why it isn’t necessarily a “tight” film is because it is Benh’s first feature film. Is “Argo” your pick for Best Picture?

    Check out my “Amour” Review so you don’t have to see it if you want: http://vlizz.com/2013/02/01/amour-review-michael-hanekes-emotionless-death-observation/

    1. Thanks- your review validates why I’m not interested in seeing Amour. I just don’t like spending my free time immersing myself in unhappiness.

      About Beasts- I knew it was his first film, and I saw his interview on the Colbert Report and found him to be really likable, so I wouldn’t want to talk much about the actual quality of the film (also because I don’t know much about film making). It was just the actual content of the film that I didn’t like. I disliked the characters, it was wholly unpleasant for seemingly no reason. I’d love to hear more about your perspective about its relation to death. If you wrote a review about it, I’d be interested in reading that. At this point, I can’t see how the movie is about anything but what I said.

      Yep, I guess I would say that if I were the academy, I’d pick Argo. But I am admittedly fairly pedestrian in my opinions about movies, so I gravitate toward movies because they are “fun” or “entertaining.” I have no delusions about that 🙂

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