A Movie Miscellany

The Oscars are on Sunday and of course, I'll be watching. Every year, I tend to wonder why - the Golden Globes are so much more fun - but for a person who is mad about the movies, it's a command performance. Since the ANI (Accursed Neck Injury) has apparently meant a permanent departure from watching movies in the theatres, I haven't seen all of the nominees for best picture the way I used to, but in honour of this evening of glamour, recognition, painful tributes and endless speeches, today's post will be about recent rentals, starting with a smattering of nominated movies.

Little Miss Sunshine. Dysfunctional family on a road trip. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Nonetheless, it's a charmer. Greg Kinnear is turning out to be a great character actor in a leading man's body, Toni Collette is always wonderful (for a very Australian movie, watch her in Japanese Story), Steve Carell is becoming one of my favourite actors (I expected The 40-Year-Old Virgin to be abysmal dreck, but it's sweet and very, very funny and he's wonderful in Anchorman). And the kid's awesome.

The Devil Wears Prada. Without Meryl Streep, it would have been utterly forgettable. But because of Meryl Streep, it was fantastic. I am in awe of her. Still think Helen Mirren will win Best Actress, though.

The Departed. I'm going to confess something: I know Martin Scorsese is supposedly a genius, but for a long time, his movies have left me less than enthused. However, after watching The Departed, I'm on the bandwagon. This was an absolutely brilliant film, with absolutely brilliant performances.

Cache. A movie exploring how you live with guilt, this is very French, very ambiguous, very much about sparking dialogue and thinking. And I loved it. Instead of spoonfeeding the audience with the appropriate reaction, this one leaves it to you to make up your mind. Watch the interview with the director on the special features - incredibly thought-provoking, felt like a philosophy class. I love movies that assume you have a basic level of intelligence.

The Illusionist. A lovely story, beautifully told, the sepia-toned palette adding to the period feel. It was interesting to watch two actors of incredible calibre choosing different ways of being Austrian. Edward Norton speaks his lines in English with a hint of a German accent, whereas Paul Giamatti speaks English with the cadence of German. I want to see this one again - I kept getting pulled out of the story by trying to figure out what was happening. My fault, not the movie's.

Snakes On A Plane. A lot of fun. Not so bad it's good the way Anaconda was, but nonetheless, a good ride.

In Her Shoes. I've been looking at this one for a while, thinking it sounded rather fluffy, but given my above-mentioned love of Toni Collette, I knew I'd get it once it moved to the cheaper racks. And it's an unexpected treasure. It has a lot to say about the relationship between sisters, between friends and about finding out who you are. I should’ve known Toni wouldn't work in crap.

The Wicker Man. I adore the original – it’s one of those movies that people have either never heard of or they love its campy thrills. Given that, this one was on shaky ground before I start watching it, but I tried to approach it with an open mind. It's fairly agonizing - the script sucks, there are inconsistencies, the acting's really not great (Nicholas Cage, Oscar winner - this, Ghostrider, what happened to your career, dude?). I also loved Neil LaBute unflinching look at sexual politics and men at their worst in In the Company of Men. However, now that I’ve seen his version of a classic, I wonder if maybe he just really doesn’t like women. Stay far, far away.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop. One of the most enjoyable movie experiences I’ve had in a long time, Bon Cop, Bad Cop is a gritty (and very funny) Canadian thriller about two cops – one from Ontario, one from Montreal – who are forced to partner up to catch a killer. Quintessentially Canadian (even down to the killer’s motive), it’s hugely enjoyable when you know of the rivalries and issues between English and French Canada, but even without the “inside” knowledge, it’s excellent. It’s exciting, a nailbiter and incredibly funny. I hope they make a sequel.

(will you look at all that linking? Hey - it's for the Oscars. What better reason to namedrop?)

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