I'm not a fan of the Oscars. I was once, a long time ago, when I didn't realize that they were a bunch of political crap and really didn't reflect the state of the movie industry and were just a marketing device for the studios. But still I've always tried to see the best picture nominees. This year is no exception. So far, we’ve seen 2 of them: Crash and Capote. I’m going to try to give you all my personal reviews of the films as I see them. To catch you up, I’m going to start with the 2 I’ve seen so far.
Before I do, I want to let you know an interesting fact. 4 of the 5 films this year were independents (Munich wasn’t) and that’s pretty impressive. It tells you something that you should already know when even the studio back slapping machine can’t find studio films to nominate. But we all know the studios just don’t get it. They think that films are all about big actors, big special effects, big budgets. How moronic that they don’t know that the only thing that really counts is the script and the story it tells.
Ok, so here are my quick reviews. I’ll start with the film I saw first, Crash. I saw this film when it came out at the recommendation of a friend. Overall I thought it was a pretty well made film. The acting was ok across the board with pretty excellent performances from Don Cheadle, Matt Dillan, Terrence Howard, Thandie Newton and Ludacris (yes I’m serious). The film was totally engaging and entertaining. I liked how the story was told in pieces and how the characters lives crossed paths. In a lot of ways (some that I can’t really put my finger on) I feel like this film was inspired by one of my favorites of all time : Magnolia. With all that said, you would think that I liked this movie. I didn’t and I’ll tell you why. I hate when I’m preached to and this film preached to me like I was a 10 year old about something that most of us already should know by now : racism is alive today and we should all be aware of it. Fucking duh man! I sort of feel that this film is nominated because the academy has been trying to suck up to blacks lately and this is the perfect way to say to them.. yes, we get it, we are an overly white/racist society and we’re sorry (I’m speaking as the Academy, not as the country).
So on to Capote. I saw this yesterday. Before the film I knew practically nothing about the man and after the film I thought I had a much better understanding of who he was. This was a good thing. Making films about writers is always a bit hard since usually their lives aren’t that interesting. Choosing the period that they did to give us a glimpse of Capote was an obvious choice and a good one. The film was highly entertaining throughout and I never fell out of the films grasp (well, not true, at once point in the back row someone was making a ton of noise with a plastic bag.. inconsiderate fuck!). Anyway the acting was superb. I thought Catherine Keener was wonderful as she always is, the killers were played quite well, but of course I’m going to tell you that PS Hoffman was fucking incredible. Not once did I see him as anyone else than Capote. He just became him (not that I knew Capote, but the fact that I didn’t see anyone else including Hoffman himself convinced me that he was someone and that can only be Capote). At only one point in the film did I think of anyone else when I saw him and that was one point when it was a close-up of his face and his eyes, I remembered him as Phil Parma in (tada) Magnolia.. his eyes were (obviously) the same and the shot was similar and the way he played Phil is so etched on my mind. Anyway, the film itself was practically perfect. Overall it was understated in a lot of ways which I find simply beautiful. And I mean that not only in a cinematographical way but in all ways (script, acting, tone, music, etc.). It wasn’t nominated for sound but it should have been. There were some wonderfully subtle sounds like a woman knocking on a door or a voice in a phone that were so low that you could barely hear them yet they were perfectly audible. There was never a time when I couldn’t hear something that was important yet nothing stood out as being too loud. It was pretty incredible.
But I said almost perfect and I will tell you why I said that. There were two technical reasons. First was the score. The music was really cliché and just seemed so annoying to me, but of course I got used to it and forgot about it. Second was a big one (to me) and it really pissed me off. You all are going to laugh at me, but there was a close-up of Capote on the telephone and the receiver had a modular connector in it! This film was set in 1960, there were no modular phone jacks then! How hard would it have been to find a non modular phone? Just jarring to me! Anyway, the film made up for those two little mistakes and is my top choice so far for the Oscar but I hope something is better because Capote doesn’t deserve to win at all. The main reason I say that is that the movie didn’t move me at all. Sure it was great and sure it was well made, but I really feel like I could have not seen it and my life would have been the same and that’s not a good thing for an Oscar caliber film.