A First Look At This Year's Oscar Contenders
- Written by Matthew Toomey
I caught New Moon last Wednesday night and posted my review not long after. The film has been discussed to death by everyone so I don’t think there’s a lot more I can add now. I gave it a B- grading – it’s ok but nothing special. Other critics have been a lot more scathing.
What I do want to comment on is the incredible box-office debut. New Moon opened with $140m in the United States – the 3rd biggest in history. In Australia, it earned $16m in its first four days – THE biggest in history.
Wow. When you think of all the great films which have been made, this is currently the biggest in terms of bums on seats in Australia. I know there’s inflation to factor in but it’s still staggering. Will the next film be even bigger or will the gloss start to wear off? We’re fickle people…
Award Season Preview
Each November, I’m usually an excited moviegoer. Why? Well the Academy Awards are usually held in late February / early March and in the three months prior, all the major studios release their “prestige” movies. Instead of super-heroes and special effects, we get movies with realistic storylines and quality acting. I know that doesn’t please some people but it definitely pleases me!
Last year at this time, I listed 10 films which would be in contention. Lo and behold, the 5 best picture nominees came from this list. I say this not to brag but when it comes to award season, it’s usually fairly predictable how things will turn out. The Academy tends to favour certain directors and stars and the intense marketing machine helps too.
This year is a little different though. For the first time since the 1940s, there are going to be 10 nominees for best picture. This doesn’t mean that all of these films will have a chance at winning the best picture prize. Each year, there are always 2 or 3 films that stand out and I’m sure this year will be no exception. The other contenders will be going through their paces… happy just to be nominated.
Now there are a small number of films already released this year which may have a shot at a best picture nominee. These would include An Education, Inglourious Basterds, A Serious Man, Star Trek, Up and District 9.
But those films you need to keep a close eye on over the next few months are as follows – in order of release date:
Release Date In Australia: 17 December 2009
Director: James Cameron (Titanic)
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver
Plot Overview Per IMDB: In the future, Jake, a paraplegic war veteran, is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Na'vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. Those from Earth find themselves at odds with each other and the local culture.
The Lovely Bones
Release Date In Australia: 26 December 2009
Director: Peter Jackson (The Lord Of The Rings)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Saoirse Ronan
Plot Overview Per IMDB: Based on the best selling book by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones is the story of a 14-year-old girl from suburban Pennsylvania who is murdered by her neighbor. She tells the story from Heaven, showing the lives of the people around her and how they have changed all while attempting to get someone to find her lost body.
Release Date In Australia: 26 December 2009
Director: Jane Campion (The Piano)
Starring: Ben Whishaw, Abbie Cornish, Kerry Fox, Paul Schneider
Plot Overview Per IMDB: The drama based on the three-year romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, which was cut short by Keats' untimely death at age 25.
Release Date In Australia: 1 January 2010
Director: Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give)
Starring: Meryl Streep, John Krasinski, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Hunter Parrish, Rita Wilson
Plot Overview Per IMDB: A romantic comedy in which two men vie for the affection of a woman.
Up In The Air
Release Date In Australia: 7 January 2010
Director: Jason Reitman (Juno)
Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman, Anna Kendrick, Danny McBride
Plot Overview Per IMDB: Ryan Bingham is a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he's met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams.
The Last Station
Release Date In Australia: 14 January 2010
Director: Michael Hoffman (The Emperor’s Club)
Starring: James McAvoy, Christopher Plummer, Paul Giamatti, Helen Mirren, Anne-Marie Duff, Kerry Condon
Plot Overview Per IMDB: A historical drama that illustrates Russian author Leo Tolstoy's struggle to balance fame and wealth with his commitment to a life devoid of material things.
Release Date In Australia: 21 January 2010
Director: Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby)
Starring: Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman
Plot Overview Per IMDB: A look at life for Nelson Mandela after the fall of apartheid in South Africa during his first term as president when campaigned to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup event as an opportunity to unite his countrymen.
Release Date In Australia: 21 January 2010
Director: Rob Marshall (Chicago)
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Judy Dench, Sophia Loren
Plot Overview Per IMDB: Famous film director Guido Contini struggles to find harmony in his professional and personal lives, as he engages in dramatic relationships with his wife, his mistress, his muse, his agent, and his mother.
Release Date In Australia: 28 January 2010
Director: John Hillcoat (The Proposition)
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, Molly Parker
Plot Overview Per IMDB: A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Their destination is the warmer south, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing: just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless cannibalistic bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a rusting shopping cart of scavenged food--and each other.
The Hurt Locker
Release Date In Australia: 4 February 2010
Director: Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break)
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse
Plot Overview Per IMDB: Iraq. Forced to play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse in the chaos of war, an elite Army bomb squad unit must come together in a city where everyone is a potential enemy and every object could be a deadly bomb.
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
Release Date In Australia: 4 February 2010
Director: Lee Daniels (Shadowboxer)
Starring: Gabourey ‘Gabby’ Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Paula Patton
Plot Overview Per IMDB: Claireece Precious Jones endures unimaginable hardships in her young life. Abused by her mother, raped by her father, she grows up poor, angry, illiterate, fat, unloved and generally unnoticed. So what better way to learn about her than through her own, halting dialect.
A Single Man
Release Date In Australia: 25 February 2010
Director: Tom Ford
Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, Nicholas Hoult, Ginnifer Goodwin
Plot Overview Per IMDB: A story that centers on an English professor who, after the sudden death of his partner tries to go about his typical day in Los Angeles.
Release Date In Australia: TBA
Director: Jim Sheridan (In The Name Of The Father)
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Sam Shepard, Mare Winningham
Plot Overview Per IMDB: A young man comforts his older brother's wife and children after he goes missing in Afghanistan. Based on Susanne Bier's film, "Brothers".
Release Date In Australia: TBA
Director: Scott Cooper
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Colin Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Duvall
Plot Overview Per IMDB: Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is a broken-down, hard-living country music singer who's had way too many marriages, far too many years on the road and one too many drinks way too many times. And yet, Bad can’t help but reach for salvation with the help of Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a journalist who discovers the real man behind the musician.
It’s an exciting list if you ask me. I was going to list the films in order of my level of interest but I just couldn’t decide which I wanted to see most.
So with all that said, let me run through the 10 films that I think will be nominated for next year’s Oscars:
An Education, Up, Avatar, The Lovely Bones, Up In The Air, Invictus, Nine, The Hurt Locker, Precious and A Single Man.
Matt’s Best Of The Decade – Romance
My least favourite type of a movie is a romantic comedy. I usually find them formulaic and predictable. I also struggle to see chemistry between the two leading characters. Romantic dramas are more my thing – there’s time for character development and actual emotion.
Almost every film contains an element of romance somewhere and so the pool of films I could draw from to pick my favourites is quite wide. But my choices for the two best of the decade are:
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (released in 2004) – full review is here.
Lost In Translation (released in 2003) - full review is here.
Eternal Sunshine is one of the most beautifully creative films that you could ever imagine. It was written by Charlie Kaufman, who penned Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. Why I highlight this film in this genre is because it’s a reverse romance. Two people fall out of love and then fall back in love through the “memory erasure” process (see the film if you need this explained). It stars Kate Winslet (my favourite actress of the decade without question) and the underrated Jim Carrey. This film will only get better with age.
Lost In Translation is a different type of romance. Some may not even call it that. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson meet in Tokyo and spend a few days together. They don’t kiss, they don’t say I love you. But there’s some connection between them. Something a little more than an ordinary friendship. They know deep down that they’ll never see each other again after they both leave Japan. It’s simply one of those special moments that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.
If you haven’t seen these two films yet, please do so!!! They’re just too good.
Honourable mentions go to Once, Brokeback Mountain, Moulin Rouge, 500 Days Of Summer, Elegy, Before Sunset, The Notebook, Something’s Gotta Give, Kissing Jessica Stein and Little Manhattan.
Next week, we’ll be taking about a genre for which there can never be universal agreement - comedies.
A Stitch In Time Saves Nine... Or Confusing Movie Titles
- Written by Matthew Toomey
I’m going to keep things short this time. In next week’s issue, I’ll go through my award season preview and talk about the films which will be vying for the big prizes.
A Single Man
I posted it on my Facebook and Twitter sites a few weeks back but the trailer for A Single Man is the best I’ve seen all year. You can view it at - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eafJ4jvf-sY.
Confusing Movie Titles
I don’t know how these situations pop up. You’d think that one of the filmmakers would back down.
I’ve just mentioned A Single Man but out this week is the new Coen brothers movie, A Serious Man. Thankfully these two movies are being released a few months apart but I’ve been getting them confused already when talking about them.
If you think that’s bad, next month a film is being released called 9. It’s a post apocalyptic animated film with voices including Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly and Elijah Wood. Just one month later, is a new musical from director Rob Marshall (Chicago) called Nine. It stars Daniel Day Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench and Sophia Loren. What about that cast for a musical!
Anyway, my question this week is why??? Two films are going to be in cinemas at the same time with the exact same title. A stitch in time could have saved Nine. J
I had a few people pass on some kind words for my blog last week on the role of a film critic. Thanks for that.
Funnily enough, I receive a standard feedback form from the Queensland Theatre Company asking me for my thoughts on the show. I felt like just sending them by blog instead. But I filled it out diligently and scored it well.
I’m planning on seeing their last show for the year, Toy Symphony, in the next few weeks. Just need to round up a team of those interested.
Matt’s Best Of The Decade – Documentaries
This decade has been huge for documentaries. When I started reviewing in the mid 90s, you’d be lucky if you saw one documentary in a movie theatre. I can remember seeing Hoop Dreams at the old Myer Centre Cinemas (man, they were bad) in 1996.
How times have changed. It seems the new way of getting your message across isn’t through the Discovery Channel or 60 Minutes, its through the medium of cinema. Michael Moore has led the craze. Bowling For Columbine set a record in 2002 my grossing $21m at the U.S. box-office. Moore smashed his own record 2 years later when Fahrenheit 9/11 (which I saw in London) grossed $119m. Outstanding.
So far this year, I’ve seen 15 documentaries in a movie theatre. I saw 19 last year. In comparison, I saw a total of just 12 between 2000 and 2004.
Whilst I am a fan of Michael Moore’s works, my two picks for the best documentaries of the decade are:
Spellbound (released in 2003) – full review is here.
The Corporation (released in 2004) - full review is here.
I can remember seeing Spellbound on a Saturday afternoon after a French class (a fad which lasted a total of 5 weeks). It was incredible. It was about the national spelling bee competition in the United States and it focused on eight kids who made it through to the final. This was edge of your seat stuff. More suspenseful than a horror film. 13-year-olds were trying to spell impossible words – one mistake and they’re eliminated. All the study, the hard work, adds up to nothing.
The Corporation was equally compelling and focused on a subject close to my heart – the way in which corporations make ridiculous amounts of money and whether they help the world, or hinder it. You’d say this was ahead of its time also because the recent global financial crisis has come about largely as a result of corporate greed and risk-taking over the past few years. It’s one of those films that not only provides entertainment but it can change the way that you live your life. That’s powerful stuff.
Honourable mentions go to Bowling For Columbine, Capturing The Friedmans, Fahrenheit 9/11, My Flesh & Blood, The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill, An Inconvenient Truth, The Fog Of War, DiG!, Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, Forbidden Lies, Deliver Us From Evil, American Teen and Man On Wire.
Next week, I’ve got two very odd choices in my quest to find the best romance films. It will take some explaining.
What Is The Point Of Being A Critic?
- Written by Matthew Toomey
This week’s blog has turned out to be bigger than my Olympic Games tribute last year so let’s get to it…
I’m mentioning this as it leads into my discussion for the week.
The Crucible is the current production from the Queensland Theatre Company. It opened a week and a half ago and a review from opening night was posted on the website of the Brisbane Times by Katherine Feeney (otherwise known as CityKat). Her review was scathing. Feeney said “powerful moments of fragile vulnerability are drowned out by yawning dullness”, “moments of high drama seem contrived and uncomfortable” and “the audience is left with awkward embarrassment”. You can read her full review here.
I first picked up on the review through Brett Debritz’s website. You can see his own thoughts on the matter at: http://www.debritz.net/node/2039.
What’s interesting though are the comments from the public which have been posted on the Brisbane Times website in response to Feeney’s article. Here’s a sample…
“The review reminds me of something an academic who couldnt otherwise get a job in the real world would write. You know, the sort of people that want everyone to think they are smart because of their oh so laa-dee-dah intellectual prose. There is this phenomenon called "Plain English" now luvvy, suggest you try it some day because these days, everyone just thinks youre a, well, wanker ;)”
“I am quite familiar with the play, and was thrilled with the freshness, modernity and texture of the production. So it seemed for much of the opening night crowd. I don't know where your "awkward embarrassment" was. You wield a big stick KF. I think that whooshing sound might be you missing your mark.”
“I was there on opening night and what I saw was a brilliant, heart-breaking and refreshing production of what is one of my favourite plays of all time. What Brisbane needs is better critics who review the show they watched. Not the one they wanted to.”
“Oh nonsense! At best this scrap of pretentious reviewing is at best naive, and at worst just plain ignorant. Sorry, get an experienced reviewer or one that can present a balanced view if you want to be taken seriously by those who know their theatre.”
After the savage attack back on Feeney, a few then came to her defence…
“I can't help but agree with the reviewer. I saw this production early into its run and was extremely disappointed”
“I thank this reviewer for their bravery to not hop on the bandwagon and to tell it how she saw it.”
“It really troubles me City Kat, for the very crime of disagreeing with the overall (and rather self-congratulatory) consensus that this production was "a triumph", and (eek!) not being a 'legitimate' theatre reviewer is being pillorised online - on this discussion thread as well as others. My god. I reckon that back in Salem it is these people who'd be screaming 'witch witch'. Is going against the majority still enough to get you hanged in this day and age?”
I’d been keen to see the play but the controversy tipped me over the edge and ensured that I would. I struggled to round up my usual posse of friends so I saw it on my own at the Saturday matinee in a packed theatre.
I really liked it. I’m no theatre critic (although it would be cool) and I’ve only seen two other productions this year, but I am familiar with the story. I saw a cinematic version of The Crucible in 1997. It starred Daniel Day Lewis, Joan Allen and Winona Ryder and earned an A grading.
Arthur Miller’s story is timeless if you ask me and I enjoyed the way it was presented on stage by the QTC. There were some very intense scenes and a few light hearted moments to mix things up. I loved the set and lighting also.
If you want to see what all the fuss is about, The Crucible is still on until November 14 at the Playhouse (a very nice theatre I might add). You can find out more at http://www.qldtheatreco.com.au/.
I’m also excited about next year’s QTC program – including The Little Dog Laughed, Fat Pig and The Clean House. My conversion from the big screen to the live stage will continue…
A Critic’s Role?
This debate regarding The Crucible has left me thinking – what is the role of a critic? I think it’s easy to articulate to summing it up in four simple points…
Point 1: Promotion
I’ve never seen a film which was unanimously liked or disliked. We’re all different people and we’re all going to take something different away from a film. Even if two moviegoers are similar, they may still see a film differently based on the mood they’re in at the time. For example, it’s tough to get excited about a film if you’re tired or have had a long day at work.
So I do see my role as important in terms of “promotion”. Through my website and though the ABC, I try to get people interested in going to the movies. It’s that simple. There are some awesome ways for the people of Brisbane to experience an art form (movies, plays, musicals, concerts) but they often don’t know they’re on.
Point 2: Expanding Horizons
Everyone always knows when a big blockbuster is showing. The stars appear on television talk shows and magazine covers. Posters adorn bus stations and the insides of movie theatres. Trailers and other advertisements dominate the smaller screen. I speak of films like Transformers, Star Trek and the upcoming New Moon.
I’ve said this numerous times before but my review of these films is meaningless. I could give New Moon an F-grading (please note I haven’t seen it yet – I’ve got a preview next week) but I don’t think it would stop a single person from seeing it. In this regard, there’s not a lot I can do as a critic. My promotion of the film serves little purpose since everyone knows its out anyway.
I prefer telling people about a smaller film that’s currently in movie theatres which has received little-to-no advertising. I like to promote low-budget Australian films which blossoming stars. I like to get people to film festivals as a way of opening their eyes – so many movies are made and yet we find ourselves drawn to the big action blockbusters through the manipulation of the media and Hollywood studios.
I hope that my positive reviews of some smaller, unheralded films have served a purpose and expanded people’s movie-going horizons.
Point 3: Offer Insight
I sometimes slip up on this point (especially for films I don’t like) but a good review should offer insight. Given that a critic sees so many films, they should be able to pick up on details which others may not. When I watch Margaret and David on At The Movies (two incredibly experienced critics), they often say something which leaves me thinking “you know, they’re right, I can’t believe I didn’t realise that.”
It’s like anything in life – we learn through experience. If I spoke to a leading theatre critic following The Crucible, then I’m sure I would have listened intently. This is a person who has seen countless performances and would likely have good taste.
In my own movie reviews, I try to include titbits of information and quotes from actors/directors which readers might find interesting. This can be particularly so after someone has seen a movie. You can then read back on a review and think – “ah, I didn’t know that’s what the direction was trying to achieve.”
Point 4: Generate Discussion!
The above three points all lead into what I think is the most important – generating discussion. Disagreeing about a movie can be really fun. I’ve had plenty of chats this year regarding Transformers. It was a film I didn’t like for reasons which can you read in my own review. But I’ve spent a lot of time debating its merits with other people – some who liked it and others who didn’t. There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s great to talk about, to interact with people.
After I saw Capitalism: A Love Story, I had lunch with two friends and we debated it for a solid hour. I have another friend who loves the movie Swordfish (I hated it) and we stir each other up about it whenever we get the chance. When I saw 25 Down (the theatrical show covered in another of my blogs), I went to dinner with friends afterwards and we broke it down in great detail.
Discussing our favourite movies, songs, books, plays, musicals, artists… it’s part of the richness of life. It explains who we are and what we stand for. I love it.
Having gone through all of that, perhaps I should be grateful to CityKat. I disliked her opinion but it inspired me to go see The Crucible even more. There you go.
Matt’s Best Of The Decade – Musicals & Action/Adventure
My fingers are sore so let’s quickly get to part 4 of my best of the decade series. This week, I’m looking at musicals and action/adventure films – two very different genres.
We’ll start with musicals and whilst there aren’t a lot of them to choose from, there were two clear standouts…
Moulin Rouge (released in 2001) – full review is here.
Chicago (released in 2003) - full review is here.
I do love a good musical and these two were exceptional. The great thing too with a musical is you can watch it again and again and again. The songs are forever imprinted in your brain. Honourable mentions in this category go to Mamma Mia, Hairspray and High School Musical 3.
Action/adventure films are my least favourite genre (well, aside from romantic comedies). I find so many of them formulaic and predictable. The plot is often underdeveloped. The best of the bunch though were:
The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (released in 2001) – full review is here.
Batman Begins (released in 2005) – full review is here.
I loved all of the Rings films but it’s the first one I consider the best. Batman Begins was an iconic movie as far as I’m concerned – director Christopher Nolan proved that you can take a dead franchise and reinvigorate it. The same thing happened this year with Star Trek. My honourable mentions are Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Gladiator, Spider Man, Snakes Of A Plane, Death Proof, King Kong, Master & Commander and Apocalypto.
Next week, we’ll look at the documentaries.
Over and out.
Australian Cinema: Me, A Choc-Top & An Empty Theatre
- Written by Matthew Toomey
I must start this week’s issue by saying another well done to Spencer Howson and his crew at 612ABC. The latest radio ratings were announced today and they’re on top once again – narrow victors over Nova 106.9 in the morning time slot. Should I disclose that you can hear me on Spencer’s program at 6:50am every Thursday morning? No, I don’t think I will.
Into The Shadows
On Saturday night, I went to see Into The Shadows at the Palace Barracks Cinemas. The film is a new documentary which looks at a lot of the problems with the Australian film industry. It talks about how difficult it is to obtain funding. It looks at how many Australian films which do get made are “gloomy” and unmarketable. It discusses how the major chains (Hoyts, Greater Union) stifle competition and make life difficult for independent cinema.
A key point it does make is how the public doesn’t support Australian cinema. I think it was the 2007 year (from memory) where the box-office takings for Aussie films made up just 4% of our domestic box-office. We spent more than 70% of our money watching American films.
It was an interesting doco but the irony comes in the fact that I was the only one sitting in the cinema. That’s right – it was just me, a butterscotch choc-top and an empty cinema. I can tell you now that this film will make next-to-nothing. It’s a shame but that’s reality.
I’m not going to get into a long-winded debate about the current merits of the Australian film industry. It’s a topic I’ve covered before and I do my best to promote great local product. This year has been an exceptionally good year. I know Margaret and David on At The Movies (without a doubt our most well known critics) also flog any Aussie film they can.
Unfortunately, our culture is heavily influenced by the Americans. We watch their television shows, we buy their music and yes, we watch their films. Don’t get me wrong – there is some good stuff that has come from the United States. However, I am POSITIVE that they aren’t the “be all and end all” of creativity. There are other countries who have equally gifted artists. Yet for whatever reason, we get sucked in by the great American marketing machines and spend our dollars watching Transformers and Harry Potter.
I don’t have an answer but I do encourage everyone to expand their horizons – and not just watching something because Entertainment Tonight tells you to.
Last week, the nominations were revealed for the 2009 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards. I was very disappointed this year by the change in voting. Non-industry AFI members (such as myself) are now no longer able to vote for the best picture category. This is something I have done for over 10 years and it has always given me pleasure. There is a new audience award category but it’s just not the same.
Anyway, I must point out my disgust to see that Baz Lurhmann’s Australia was overlooked for a best picture nomination. The film has made $37m here in Australia – the second highest grossing local production of all time (behind Crocodile Dundee). To put that into perspective, only 5 other Aussie films have made more than $10m locally in the past decade. I know that not everyone was a fan of the film but that massive box-office shows how popular it was and I think the majority of people did find it entertaining.
Instead, the 6 films nominated for best film this year are Balibo, Beautiful Kate, Blessed, Mao’s Last Dancer, Mary & Max and Samson & Delilah. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Samson & Delilah will win and it’s a worthy choice. That said, I’m miffed at how some of the other nominees (without naming names) snuck in at the expense of Australia.
Another problem with the awards is that you see the same films nominated again and again throughout all the categories. It’s the same as the Oscars too.
Look, that’s enough of my ranting in that regard. The award winners will be revealed in December and you can view the full list of nominees here.
Matt’s Best Of The Decade – Thrillers
Now it’s time for part 3 of my best of the decade series. We’re looking at a more familiar genre this week – thrillers.
I need to point out that there a lot of films which cross genres. Many thrillers could just as easily be classed as a drama. I had my trouble myself trying to split my own short-list of films between thrillers and dramas. It gets even harder when you start looking at the romantic or comedy genres.
Anyway, it was a tough choice once again but the two films which I’ve settled upon this week are…
Donnie Darko (released in 2002) – full review is here.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (released in 2000) - full review is here.
Donnie Darko is a heck of a motion picture. It’s got some really stylish stuff. I loved the montage at the start of the film to “Head Over Heels” by Tears For Fears. Just as amazing was the final sequence set to “Mad World” by Gary Jules. The story is complex and you’ve got to keep on your toes. I’ve seen it several times and not even I am convinced I fully understand it. The film also boasts one of the best individual scenes in a movie – the part where Jake Gyllenhaal confronts Patrick Swayze at an open forum. I went through this scene a few weeks ago in my blog and I laughed so hard when I saw it for the first time.
The Talented Mr. Ripley is in my opinion, the best film from the late director Anthony Minghella. Minghella will be more remembered though for The English Patient, which swept the Oscars in 1996. I’ve read the novel on which The Talented Mr. Ripley is based and this is one of those rare instances where the full essence of the book (and maybe even more) comes through on screen. It’s always been a benchmark for me on how to adapt a great novel. Matt Damon’s character is incredibly complex – he is insecure but incredibly cunning at the same time. He shares some wonderful sequences with Philip Seymour Hoffman (my favourite actor of the last decade). It also has a great film score from Gabriel Yared (the soundtrack is in my collection) and ends on a perfect note.
Honourable mentions this week (which will get a certificate of commendation from me in the mail) go to Mulholland Drive (which will be mentioned again very soon), Hidden, Memento, The Pledge, Insomnia, The Mothman Prophecies, 28 Days Later, Mystic River, Notes On A Scandal, The Others, Collateral, The Bourne Supremacy, Wolf Creek, Let The Right One In, Duplicity and State Of Play.
Next week, we’ll look at the action/adventure genre. I’ll also sneakily mention my favourite musicals.