FILM FORUM: Oscars Edition #2

Read Edition #1


I think any conversation I have about the Oscars should be prefaced with the statement “Halle Berry? Really? Really?” Or perhaps a more fitting: “Crash? Are you being bloody serious?” Or “Tita?” Actually I could do this for a while. That being said I actually watch the Academy Awards every year so…

Best Picture:

I didn’t go watch Atonement either. Parity and balance are wonderful things. Nothing against Jane-Austen-Follow-Up-Oscar-Bait-Epics, but I’ve just not been in that sort of mood lately.

You should really watch There Will be Blood. As trite as this sounds, Daniel Day Lewis is beyond description through any of the adjectives I have at my disposal. What I loved most about Paul Thomas’ latest offering was how it felt. I don’t mean emotionally. But rather every granule of sand, every drop of oil, was tangible. The score, cinematography, acting, and direction complimented each other. It’s a rare thing and one definitely worth experiencing. I know you haven’t watched it yet, so I’m going to keep my reservations about the conclusion close to vest. I will say that the end tempered my excitement for the film in its entirety.

I’m a bit fed up with the Judd Apatow brand of hipster humor. The lack of wit or conceit matched with the ridiculously formulaic approach to film making sort of turned me of comedies for a while. I don’t know if it’s unfair of me to lump Juno is with these films, but I did and now it’s like creamed corn to me — nauseating. That being said, if you told me it was two hours of someone taking a bat to Michael Cera’s face then I’d rush over to the theatre.

I definitely share you enthusiasm for Eastern Promises. The tone of the film is spot on and my brother and I walked around for weeks afterwards slapping our index and middle fingers against our jugulars.

When I hit 26 in November I began to feel a bit vechio and the age I think has made me appreciate the journey more and place less value in the finale. Unless the finale is a bit of a disappointment tainting the journey (refer back to ‘Blood) I mention this because it left No Country for Old Men feeling very close to perfection for me. Bardem’s performance would be the best of the year if it wasn’t for Day-Lewis’ turn. But more than that I loved watching Kelly McDonald again. I fancied her ever since Trainspotting — “Too young for what?” — and I thought she was wonderfully measured in No Country.

That being said, I think Michael Clayton was the best film of the year. Like you the film crept up on me. I’d liken the experience to walking by a jasmine tree, the visual beauty of the moment is satisfying but it is the enchanting smell that lingers that is truly enchanting. And there was a humanity in the protagonist, an endearing helplessness. To strip power away from a performance and yet have it be commanding is a rare skill and requires a director and actor at his best.

I will mention a film that most people will reckon has no place on the list of Oscars: The Bourne Ultimatum. It was one of the best action films I’ve ever seen. Exciting, engaging, and yet it didn’t ooze of testosterone. The best of series in my opinion. The moment when Matt Damon wraps torn cloth around his palms to scale a glass coated wall I was sold. Even Julia Stiles couldn’t ruin the film for me — and I have more of a bat-to-face reaction to her than to Michael Cera. The physical negotiation through the crowded London terminal was visually operatic (haven’t been that impressed with spatial direction since Black Hawk Down) and for me Bourne should have been on this list.

I can’t understand why a film that has clear heft on so many levels can’t be considered for best picture, but then I remind my self “James Cameron? James Cameron…? Bloody Muppet!”


Sehban Zaidi is a Chicago-based filmmaker. 


~ by Scottie Ferguson on February 15, 2008.

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