Monday, January 29, 2007

Oscar Update

So, after a weekend of cramming in video rentals whenever possible, I've now seen 12 nominated films. Granted, two are animated features and three are animated shorts, but if they've been nominated, they all count. This weekend's viewing included Little Matchgirl, Maestro, No Time for Nuts, Devil Wears Prada, Jesus Camp, Water, Little Miss Sunshine and Borat, and my conclusion after this first weekend marathon is that I'm old and cranky.

Now, direct to you from The Office of Redundancy Office,
is my opinionated opinion on the weekend films:

Little Matchgirl
Animated short. You can buy it on iTunes for $1.99 but if you bought the 2-DVD reissue of Little Mermaid it's already on there. So best check with that youngster in your life BEFORE you plunk down $1.99 like an idiot and buy something you already own. It's a well-done feature with some interesting art-work, especially the overall color of the entire piece. However, it still smacks of Disney and I don't think it will win.

Animated short. TinyTuna proclaimed it "creeped her out" and I was sitting there thinking it was a little odd until the last 5 seconds of the piece, at which point I fell over laughing. I don't think it will win either, but the payoff was awfully clever.

No Time for Nuts
Animated short featuring "Scrat" that little squirrel guy from the Ice Age movies. Continued gags with Scrat trying to get (and keep) an acorn. Now he has a time machine. Humorous but nothing overly special here.

Devil Wears Prada
Nominations for Meryl Streep (Best Actress) and for Costume Design. TinyTuna kept saying the movie was "awesome" and I think it was...for a 12 year old. I didn't dislike it, and I thought Meryl Streep did a very good job. But really, the whole thing was quite fluffy, and when it finished I thought, "Eh. OK, I guess." Call it a decent rental film or date film, but overall it's like Lever 2000: it just sort of washes over you and then it runs down the drain. You're grateful you have it, but you know it has no lasting power and you'll just have to do it all again tomorrow.

Jesus Camp
Nominated for Best Feature Documentary. Creeeeeeepy! It was disturbing to see how malleable kids can be. It was also fascinating to read that aside from the former Rev. Ted Haggard (of the "no I didn' I didn' I didn't....ooops, yes I did), everyone in the film was quite pleased with the outcome. I suppose the hallmark of a good documentary is that at the end of the film each side is satisfied that it got their particular point across and it's the other guy that's wrong. I, of course, will not be sending TinyTuna to Jesus Camp, but let me tell you, if they ever came up with a Jesus Sez Make Your Bed and Clean Your Room Camp and got the same results, she'd be there in a heartbeat. Amen!

Nominated for Best Foreign Film. This was quite good. It takes placed in India in 1938, and examines the lives of widows, who are looked at as untouchables once their husbands die, and are sent to live a life of chastity and poverty. The film was directed by a woman, and between her gender and the subject matter, getting this film made at all was a minor miracle. I'm thinking if people are that mad, you know you've hit a nerve with a good film. Good for her. Excellent movie.

Little Miss Sunshine
Nominated for a bucket of things, including Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Best Film and Original Screenplay. Well... I wanted to love this film. I really did. In the end, it was just quirky. It wasn't particularly funny (there were a few moments, but nothing huge), it was just quirky. And it seemed to be quirky just for the sake of saying, "look how independant film and quirky I can be!" Quirky is ok, but if there isn't any substance behind the quirk, it's like a big bag of cotton candy, which I do not like, Sam-I-Am. And did I mention I really, really wanted to like this movie?

Nominated for Adapted Screenplay. Well, I held out few hopes for this one. There were random clever Guffman-type moments where I chuckled, but it seemed like every 10 minutes someone realized they were getting too clever and yelled, WE NEED MORE RAUNCHY BATHROOM HUMOR and at that point the entire film went down the toilet. Pun intended. Keep the character, lose the 17-year old crude-isms, and it might be really good. Of course, the chances of that happening are slim and none, because nothing says big box office receipts like 17 year old raunchy humor.

And that's the weekend report. I sure hope the quality of whatever comes next takes a drastic upwards turn. The nicest thing I can say about this opening salvo of films is that all of them were under two hours, so it didn't prolong the agony. Otherwise, this was not an auspicious start to Oscar season.

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