There's still time, right? Can I squeeze one more movie in before tonight's show? Last week I handed over my Oscar ballot (still humming on my victory from last year) for my work pool convinced that my toonie might as well be lost for good. For some reason, I'm not as excited as I normally am about the Academy Awards. And while I'm enamoured as the rest of the world with the sweetness that is Slumdog Millionaire, the rest of the performances (from what I've seen) are kind of meh.
Actresses everywhere must be clamouring to work with Stephen Daldry. He led Nicole Kidman to her underwhelming The Hours performance that won her statuette and now the same kind of ultra-serious, aided by makeup and dowdiness, performance will enable Kate Winselt to win (if I'm predicting correctly). She should have won for Little Children, she was excellent in that film, but when set against the powerhouse that was Coutillard and La Vie en Rose, you can see why she didn't. This year, the Academy's making it right, even perhaps if it shouldn't -- I mean neither film, The Reader nor Revolutionary Road, is really up to scratch in terms of the best in film for 2008, regardless of what a powerhouse Winset was in either role.
The Wrestler vs Milk. It's a hard one. And one that'll probably bring down my ballot. I adored Milk and even though the story telling was conventional, truly feel it's one of the film's that should be celebrated. The supporting performances are excellent, both James Franco and Josh Brolin deserve nominations, even wins, and neither will get it (Franco wasn't even nominated even though he's now won the Spirit Award) because the steam-rolling, ham-boning (I know, do not speak ill of the dead, I know) Joker will reign supreme. It's not that I didn't enjoy Ledger's performance in the Batman film, it's more the defeat around the reasons why everyone's still talking about it, more about his life and how it ended than his acting. It's one of the same reasons why Mickey Rourke will win, or at least I'm betting that he'll win, not necessarily because Ram was the role of a lifetime, but because it was the role that came around in this point in his career. If I were the Academy, I'd be handing the Oscar over to Richard Jenkins or Sean Penn, but I don't think that'll happen tonight.
I'm babbling, I know. But after watching a pile of movies over the last little while, it's really discouraging to feel that so many are mediocre. I enjoyed The Wrestler (more than my RRHB) and I enjoyed The Reader, but they're kind of like excellent community theatre when placed next to the Maria Callas-calibre showing of some of the pictures from last year, like the aforementioned La Vie en Rose. In fact, the movie I've liked the most over the past few weeks is Ghost Town with Ricky Gervais, sweet, funny, smart, engaging -- all the qualities I look for in a picture. Don't even get me started on Revolutionary Road and how the much the picture ruins the book. That's a different post. But, I will end by saying that I'm going to cheer on Slumdog Millionaire, because the heart in that film, regardless of the fairly typical love story, and its somewhat original, magical storytelling, kept me thinking for days afterward.