FILM FORUM: Oscars Edition #5
You make a great point about the difference between a good filmmaker and a great auteur. One can certainly seen the Apatow crew running that risk, especially since all the films are similar not only in tone and style but also in ensemble. Seth Rogan was everywhere last year and it’s clear he isn’t going anywhere soon. Same with Micheal Cera (although I hope the rumored Arrested Development movie comes to fruition).
Since you mentioned it, The Darjeerling Limited sucked. Wes Anderson needs to give it a rest. The best piece of work he’s done in seven years was an American Express commercial. And if I never again see a bearded, morose Bill Murry — we get it, Bill, you can act; now go back to being funny — or watch another slow motion montage set to an obscure song by some semipopular indie band from Austria — corduroy and bad haircuts doesn’t mean you’re that sort of un-hip hip that confuses all the people over 37 — then I won’t say my world will burn any less brightly. I think I could get by without those things.
Speaking of ensemble casts, did you see I’m Not There? The best female performance this year was Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan. She stole the movie and was strong enough that even the terrible final sequence with Richard Gere didn’t ruin the film. With her Oscar nomination for Elizabeth: The Golden Age she has a chance to sweep the female acting Oscars, which has never happened before. That would be quite a feat, but I don’t see it happening.
How’s this for a clunky transition: Amy Ryan, another female actor, is nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Gone Baby Gone, a move with 3.5 good-to-great performances that was on the whole awfully disappointing (and not just because I went to the Chicago premier and suffered through Ben Affleck not sucking in a way I thought he was going to suck during his post-film Q&A. Seriously, the dude seemed pretty nice and thoughtful, even if he rolled in late and with a posse of 15 people.) What was terrible about Gone Baby Gone, a movie that was received by critics far better than I ever thought possible? How about the ending. How about the hitch in the middle that made the film feel like a crooked tree branch. But seriously: How about the ending? When the lights came up I was slack-jawed in bewilderment that this was an adaptation of the same author who wrote Mystic River. Could the ending really be that bad? Answer: yes. Casey Affleck was solid and any movie that features cast members from The Wire is never going to go down as a total failure. But still...
Since we’ve touched on a few supporting actor/actress performances so far why not go all the way and list our two favorites? I’ve already handed the Supporting Actress award to Blanchett. For Supporting Actor I have to give it Javier Bardem. As much as I want to give the nod to Philip Seymour Hoffman for Charlie Wilson’s War, there is just nothing particularly memorable about what he did. Yes, he was funny and typically outstanding in his own PSH sort of way, but other than when he flips out in the office can you name me two other memorable scenes? (OK, one other scene. He was great in the office scene with Hanks when he delivers the bottle of scotch.) Bardem stays with you long after the credits roll. That’s a sign of something and in a year when there are a number of viable candidates I’m giving it to the guy I still think about (but not in that way).
Sehban Zaidi is a Chicago-based filmmaker