Thursday, February 7, 2008

JB's Oscar pick: best picture

As a fairly serious movie nerd, I always enjoy the academy award season, if not only for the healthy discussions of all things movie-related.
Like most years, I've seen most of the movies in the major categories.
I went to see "Michael Clayton" to finish off the best picture candidates.
For once, I think all five of the best pic noms are actually all good movies.
Clayton was a solid story with a great cast. One of the weak points was Clooney's performance. While he was good in the lead role, I feel like I've seen him perform much better in other movies. He was better than a lot of actors out there, but it seemed like a sub-par performance from an actor who has proved he is capable of more.
"Juno" was a lot of fun. Funny, thought provoking script. Quality acting from some often underrated actors (including J.K. Simmons as Juno's father in a simultaneously amusing and touching performance and Jason Bateman whom I love from Arrested Development). There were a lot of minor flaws throughout the movie, like some awkward dialogue early on, that don't detract from the enjoyability of the film, but which I would consider serious enough to not deem it best-picture worthy.
"Atonement" had the makings of being a profound and intense epic love story. The cast all pulled though with some of the best performances I've seen each of them in. The story was compelling and kept me wrapped up in a movie that seemed a little slow at points, but kept rolling along. All the build up seemed rushed into a hasty final act that was forced and a let down.
"No Country For Old Men" was nearly perfect. A few minor flaws that involve anachronisms that are barely noticed as you watch didn't take away from anything. A unique story with some impressive performances, especially Javier Bardem, drive a long, involved plot with a sparse soundscape to a fevered plateau that makes it one of the best movies I've ever seen, let alone just in 2007.
"There Will Be Blood" brought another level to filmmaking. Daniel Day-Lewis is always strong, but this might be the finest performance of his already impressive career. This period piece takes you into the depths of the oil rush and gives a stunning portrayal of every aspect of life as both ends of society effected by the industry are pushed farther apart. While I'm not a fan of some of his work, Paul Thomas Anderson shows how good a talented filmmaker can be when he has a script that is perfect and a cast that cannot miss.
If I were voting for the best picture oscar, it would be hard to pick, but "There Will Be Blood" would just edge out "No Country For Old Men," even though my heart would be with the Coen brothers because of their perfect record for amazing films. "There Will Be Blood" was full on perfection. Nothing bad could be said about it. So I would call it the best picture because every aspect of the film was spot on. Personally though, I would happy to see it go to either Blood or No Country.

--John Berry, Online Editor

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