Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Movie Review: There Will Be Blood and Juno

Well, it's that time of year again! Where my mom, brother and I try to cram in as many Oscar-nominated movies as possible before the ceremony. You know, so we can be disgusted with IMPUNITY when none of the winners are deserving. (Are you hearing me, JULIA ROBERTS?! You have Ms. Ellen Burstyn's Oscar and I'd like for you to give it back to her. Thanks.) It's fun times. So, here we have two movies that are nominated for Best Picture, Director, Screenplays and assorted acting awards.

First, There Will Be Blood. I saw this movie like, three weeks ago. I STILL don't know what I thought of it. It ended and I literally sat there for a minute, staring at the screen and then went, "Huh." BW LOVED it and was shocked that I didn't share that opinion. I...didn't DISLIKE it. I'm still not sure if I liked it. It's an accomplishment, to be sure. It was well-directed and shot. It was well-written. It was AWESOMELY acted. Daniel Day-Lewis totally deserves his like, millionth nomination. Paul Dano (who played the older brother in Little Miss Sunshine) was also great. And he's really young and totally going head-to-head with Day-Lewis and I was impressed. The movie has some interesting things to say about greed and capitalism and oil and how the pursuit of it has apparently ALWAYS led to ruin and woe and I still...huh. That's pretty much all I can say about it. It'll probably win at least one of the big ones: Actor, Picture or Director. HOWEVER. It's totally irritating that a technicality led to the score being disqualified for a nomination. The score was BRILLIANT. It was like another character in the movie. I think one of the guys from Radiohead did it? Yeah, amazing job. Really.

Ok, then, we have Juno. I've been looking forward to seeing this movie for months. Yeah, saw it. Overrated. I'm sad to say. It's kind of a like a guy your friends set you up with, in movie form. You're really excited, you hope it goes well...but, eh. He's a really nice guy, he's got a good heart, but he's trying too hard and you just aren't into it. It's like that. Juno is funny and clever and has some unique characters, but it's just wasn't as awesome as I'd hoped it would be. And that's totally my own fault.

BUT. There are some great performances here. I adore Ellen Page, she rocked in Hard Candy, which is a great, creepy movie that everyone with a strong stomach should see ONCE. (Has anyone been able to sit through Hard Candy twice? If so, I salute you! And fear you, a little.) She's really good as Juno, our mouthy heroine. Page is good at showing us Juno's vulnerabilities, which she hides behind quips and ironic detachment. Um. I don't relate to that at all or anything. (Something of concern: I apparently dress JUST LIKE a pregnant, fictional 16-year old. Even my mom commented on it. Hoodies, layered t-shirts, jeans and Chuck Taylors. Um.) I love the girl who plays Juno's best friend Leah. She's a total hoot and has some great lines. And their vibe together is very teenager-best-friends. It's sweet.

And there are MANY actors from now-sadly-cancelled-television-shows-that-I-loved: Allison Janney from The West Wing as Juno's practical stepmom. She's great, as usual. She's always had a gift for doing a lot with a small role. For further evidence of this, see her performances in American Beauty and The Hours.* Then we have Michael Cera and Jason Bateman from the dearly lamented by me, Mame, EGT and BW Arrested Development. These two are always awesome and hilarious and they are no different in Juno. Sadly, they do not have a scene together. J.K. Simmons plays Juno's dad and he's loving, twinkly and sweet. Whenever I see Simmons being NICE in a role, it always freaks me out, because no matter WHAT, I will always remember him best as Vern Schillinger, the meanest, evillest motherfucker from OZ. He raped everyone! He had someone's child murdered! He had his own son killed! DAMN. It's very impressive that Simmons can play that role and then switch gears completely! And for my money, the best performance in the movie is Jennifer Garner's. (She was Sydney Bristow on Alias! Sadly, there's no roundhouse kicking here.) She plays the potential adoptive mother of Juno's baby, a woman who desperately wants a child of her own. Garner does a beautiful job of showing us Vanessa's layers of emotion: her desire for a child, her fear of getting too attached, hope, longing and stubbornness. It's a really lovely performance. Ellen Page got a nomination as Best Actress, but it's really shame that Jennifer Garner didn't get a Supporting nomination. She deserved it.

So, next up: Michael Clayton and Persepolis!

*EVERY. TIME. I think of The Hours, I CRACK UP. You see, my stepdad used to attend these frantic, Pre-Oscar movie outings with us. Until the year we went to see Adaptation and The Hours in one weekend. I think we broke him. He launched into a rant in the lobby after seeing The Hours about how he didn't know WHAT the hell was wrong with us and that he was NEVER going to see a movie we'd picked out ever AGAIN and GODDAMN were we weird. *sigh* It was fun.

1 comment:

Bea's mom said...

Great reviews-like a walk down memory lane especially about Bryan's rant. I can't wait for "Sweeney Todd"