Currently browsing the "Oscar nominees" tag.

Toni Erdmann

This father-daughter dramedy/farce from German director Maren Ade may clock in at 162 minutes, but I never got bored and it certainly didn’t drag. The film starts with a familiar premise, but doesn’t go to the sentimental or obvious places you’re expecting. It pits Ines (Sandra Hüller), an über-focused young corporate consultant, against her semi-retired dad Winfried (Peter Simonischek) who just loves a good gag or practical joke. He drops in for an unannounced visit with Ines and tries to get her to loosen up and have a life, and all she wants is for him to go home so she can get back to business. Though it does lead to a happy ending, the journey is full of absurd scenes and uncomfortable moments.

The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza)

One of the five films nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, The Great Beauty is an amazingly wonderful dip into the pool of modern Roman decadence. The story is told from the perspective of Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), a journalist who turns 65 at the beginning of the film, and who despite being known for his great first novel decades earlier, is still searching for his inspiration for a second. The film owes a great debt to Fellini. You cannot help but think of La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2, but Jep is much more world weary than Marcello, and the movie is much more than mere homage. It has some of the most striking imagery of any recent film. And if you love Rome, this is a must see!

The Oscar nominated Animated Shorts

It is rare that I have gotten to see all the Oscar shorts ahead of (or even after) the awards were given out. Wouldn’t it be nice if they brought back the short before the feature? Yes, I know they are mostly made either in film school or as a calling card to get a leg up in the industry or some accolades for a country that never gets mentioned at the Academy Awards, but it is a lovely form, begging a different set of storytelling skills from the long-form flick. Anyway, just sayin’ I’d like to see them in a theater, on a big screen.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Three of the most popular books of 2008-2010 were Stieg Larssen’s Millennium Trilogy. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book and there is already one great movie of it in the original Swedish. (Here is my review of that one.) But now we have the David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network) prettied-up American version. I could just about recycle my first review for the new one, but there are a few differences. It is in English. Daniel Craig is hotter than Michael Nyqvist. And Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth is a great deal less insular and a lot more one-dimensional than Noomi Rapace’s.

Another Year

Animal Kingdom

Out in the jungle, the strongest creatures prevail by preying on the weakest. In the gritty drama Animal Kingdom, this dynamic is played out within a tight knit family of bank robbers and drug dealers in mid-1980s Melbourne. At the top of the food chain here is mama lion Janine Cody, played for all her ferociousness by 2011 Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver.

Seriously, A Serious Man?

Seriously? That’s what I thought when I heard the Coen Brothers film announced as an Oscar nominee for best picture. It’s out on DVD now and I have to admit I saw it a while ago but I struggled with my review because all I wanted to say about it was “I hated it.” I can’t help but think that if anybody but Joel and Ethan Coen (Academy darlings that they are) had made this movie, it would never have been nominated for an Academy Award.