In an otherwise deadly dull movie year, some great ones slid into
contention before the December deadline. The
nominees for Best Picture clearly deserve the praise that is coming their way.
THE AVIATOR - Howard Hughes,
both the man and his eccentric visions, get intriguing treatment by director
Martin Scorsese and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
Billionaire, test pilot, producer, and escort of movie stars, Hughes went
from high profile glamour to sick seclusion. The movie is colorful and fast - a big, glossy Hollywood
entertainment based on an even bigger central character.
FINDING NEVERLAND – This is
a breathtaking view of the imagination of J.M. Barrie. Barrie, who created Peter Pan from the threads of his
friendship with a British widow and her family, believed mightily in play as the
path to happiness. Johnny Depp,
Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, and a magical little guy named Freddie Highmore
will step into your heart.
KINSEY – Alfred Kinsey moved
from the academic purity of an obscure professorship to the notoriety of
becoming the first to study and publish pioneering research on the sex habits of
Americans. As he walks the delicate
line between human emotions and biological behavior, his colleagues begin to see
him more as an oddball than a scientist. Laura
Linney and Liam Neeson are outstanding, with Neeson deserving the nomination he
did not get.
MILLION DOLLAR BABY – Clint
Eastwood’s direction and the performances of Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman
lift this movie above all the others. This
team of three pays close attention to the small acts of loyalty and devotion
that fuel transcendent friendship. They
have made a beautiful film that moves the audience slowly to absolute silence.
Listen, please, to the score Clint Eastwood has written.
It is quiet and perfect.
RAY – This story of Ray Charles’ slow climb through
racism, drugs, and womanizing has a harrowing dark side.
Charles came this close to being destroyed by his heroin habit, but he
made it and followed up with decades of success as the “Genius of Soul.”
Jamie Foxx paints a strong portrait of Charles’ talent and his weaknesses.
the actors and actresses who were nominated, some were marvelous, especially
Annette Bening in her sparkling creation of a British actress who never
interrupts her life’s performance. Johnny
Depp creates a lovely J.M. Barrie for our fantasies; Leonardo Di Caprio shows
that he is once again taking his profession as seriously as he did before he was
derailed by “Titanic;” Clive
Owen reaches a spectacular height of human cruelty in “Closer.”
And so a year that
seemed like one of the worst in recent memory, made up for it with late year
releases. Hollywood’s tendency to
bore us for eleven months only to dazzle us in December is surely a problem that
could be solved.
My choices: Best Picture: “Million Dollar Baby”. Best Actor: Johnny Depp. Best Actress: Hilary Swank. Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman. Best Supporting Actress: Laura Linney. Best Director: Clint Eastwood.
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