This is the second part of a three part series here at The Rock dedicated to previewing the Best Picture category at the 84th Academy Awards. If you missed Part 1, click here. Part 3 will be posted this Friday. Hope you enjoy!
Midnight in Paris:
One thing this movie taught me is that I certainly don’t read as much as I should. I’m sure there were plenty of references to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway that went right over my head, which is pretty much why I had such a problem with this movie.
The premise of Midnight in Paris is that a writer (Owen Wilson) is on a vacation in Paris with his fiancé (Rachel McAdams) and her parents. His fiancé’s annoying, stuck-up friends also happen to be there. While McAdams’ character passes the time with her friends and parents, Wilson’s character, Gil, roams the streets of Paris looking to get away from people he can’t stand, including his wife, and stumbles upon some sort of time warp that sends him to the past. There he meets important artists and writers from history like Hemingway and Picasso. It’s basically Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure for artsy-fartsy people.
The only thing that is interesting in this movie is the relationship that Gil has with his wife and the drama that comes with it. From the get go it’s obvious that these two don’t have much in common (and that McAdams’ character is extremely unlikeable). Other than that there isn’t much that kept my attention in this movie.
The scenes were lackluster and the some dialogue might as well have been gibberish to me but where this movie really failed was that it felt as though it had to spell out its point. Owen Wilson literally goes through an entire explanation of the movie’s theme on his last trip trough time. It assumed that just because it had some unique references, I wouldn’t be able to figure out the themes and lessons it was trying to teach (which I was able to do by the way). Just like it’s characters, the movie gave a very stuck-up, elitist vibe that I didn’t appreciate.
Oscar Chances: Who knows? I don’t think it should win but maybe I don’t understand the Academy just like Woody Allen didn’t think I’d understand his movie.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close:
This film hasn’t gotten much love from critics and while there are some defects within Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, it deserves a lot more respect.
The protagonist is a boy who loses his father during the 9/11 attacks and the film shows how he copes with his father’s death while giving us flashbacks of the events that took place during that tragic day. The problem with the main character is that he may seem a little abrasive, and it isn’t because he just lost his father, it’s just part of the character’s personality. He is extremely intelligent but lacks in social skills.
While this personality may be a little off-putting, it could be essential to the story. Oskar Shell, played by newcomer Thomas Horn, finds a key in his dad’s jacket and goes around meeting every person with the last name ‘Black’ in New York City in order to find what the key opens. In a way it’s important that he has this personality so that he can overcome it when he meets all of the different New Yorkers.
9/11 is certainly still a delicate subject but Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close does a commendable job providing an emotional and moving take on the effects of the attacks. It shows that even though this event ripped many people apart, they also brought so many more people together.
Oscar Chances: Should be a contender but its chances aren’t too good because of critics views and lack of other nominations.
The Help easily reaches the broadest audience out of the six reviewed movies thus far. Between its inspiring story and outstanding acting, The Help shows why it’s definitely worthy of an Oscar nomination.
The best part of this film is easily the acting. Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer are all very deserving of their nominations. Even those not nominated give great performances that come across a very believable and relatable, the latter of which gave problems to the two movies above. Their strong performances help give this film the mass appeal that it was able to achieve.
The dilemma The Help faces is that it covers a topic that we’ve seen many times before. Now, that isn’t to say that it isn’t an important topic or that it doesn’t do a good job of conveying its message against inequality, but I also wouldn’t say that it does a particularly better job than other movies covering this topic either. It tries to find a unique way of retelling a story that has, for the most part, been done before.
Oscar Chances: Even though I really enjoyed this movie and loved the performances, I don’t think it has enough to pull off a win.
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