By Anaita Sabhikhi
This year’s Oscars are being touted as one of the most boring ever…even before they’ve taken place. For starters, the movies that have been nominated were not very popular with mainstream audiences with the exception of Juno.
Also, there is that problematic little thing called the writers strike. While the Golden Globes were reduced to an embarrassing press conference, the representatives of the Academy Awards are adamant that the preparations are going on in full swing and the ceremony will be conducted as per schedule. High profile actors though, have said that they would be unwilling to cross picket lines putting the ball back in the writers court. If they picket, rest assured there won’t be a ceremony though that is unlikely and some sort of comprise is expected to be reached within time.
Regardless, for movie buffs everywhere, let’s take a closer look at the five films nominated for Best Picture.
Atonement: based on the book by Ian McEwan had everything right on paper – a good story, an excellent cast and the team up of Keira Knightley and Joe Wright that gave us Pride and Prejudice. Even though the camerawork is handsomely done and the dialogue very British, it fails to impress. The love story, which forms the crux, is unconvincing and the war scenes are poorly done with every set looking too much like a movie set. There is one shot, over 5 minutes long, spanning the beach where the defeated army is recuperating. It is supposed to make you go WOW. Instead you say thank god for the cut. Mention must be made of the music score by Dario Marianelli which is written into the script with the eerie click of the typewriter in the opening of the movie, setting the tone for the clever mixing of sound and dialogue.
Juno: is the underdog. (If there was one) The movie which was shot in just 20 days has quick sure fire dialogue and Ellen Page fits the character defining her rapidly changing generation so well, that Juno is much more than just heart warming and funny. With its quirky take on underground music and the Canadian towns providing a subtle backdrop, this movie has won audiences over everywhere. Will it win though? Unlikely.
There Will be Blood: is about a misanthropic oilman Daniel Plainview in the relentless pursuit of wealth. This story, about family, greed, religion and oil, has everyone talking about the performance by Daniel Day-Lewis making him the favourite to win the Best Actor Award.
Michael Clayton has the Oscar darling George Clooney in the title role. Set in the high power corporate law world of New York, Michael Clayton plays a fixer who’s called into a law firm to stop it from suffering a breakdown. This movie was very well received by critics and Time magazine’s Richard Schickel ranked the film #1 in the Top 10 Movies of 2007, calling it “a morally alert, persuasively realistic and increasingly suspenseful melodrama, impeccably acted and handsomely staged.” Whew! Just for that, it must be worth your time.
No Country for Old Men is the front runner for the golden statue and this movie has a lot more violence than last year’s winner ‘The Departed.’ It’s a must avoid for the easily spooked and ones with no stomach for blood and gore. The script based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel follows it almost scene by scene. The camera work is extremely tight and discloses exactly what the book describes; West Texas at it’s most unassuming – open trucks, men with cowboy hats, empty desert landscape and lots and lots of killing. The Coen brothers who must surely win the Oscar for Best Director, have taken the book and made it theirs alone, lowering the novel’s philosophical twists and highlighting its dark humour.