May 24, 2013

the envelope, please - part one

My sister and Bing get caught up in
Tarantino's Django Unchained.
The 85th Annual Academy Awards came and went months ago, but I'm finally getting around to watch this year's nominees for best picture.

Back in the days when I worked at a movie theater, I'd see all of the nominees, typically before the awards ceremony. Granted, back in those days, there were only ever five nominees, and I watched them for free.

This week I officially made it past the halfway point, so I thought I'd share my impressions of the flicks I've seen thus far.

Today, I'll cover three of the movies and write about the others next week to keep this post from being longer than any of the movies.

This is the movie that won best picture, and as far as I can tell from the movies I've watched, it probably earned this award. But... this also makes it the second consecutive year that the best picture winner was a movie about Hollywood. In some regards it seems like the Academy patting itself on the back, but... I liked both The Artist and Argo, so I'm not going to read too deeply into this.

I was completely caught up in the story, so much that I spent a whole night researching the real life incidents that inspired this film.

As someone who developed a super mad crush on Ben Affleck back in his Armageddon days, it's impressive to see how he has developed into a real, grown-up actor/director/producer who makes some pretty damn good movies.

Django Unchained
This was the first Quentin Tarantino movie I'd watched since Inglorious Basterds, and I'll admit it took me about 20 minutes to get used to his trademark violence. Once I was back in the swing of things, I found myself truly enjoying this story.

Hands down, the best part of the movie was Christoph Waltz. The man is a stellar actor and his character was one of the most fascinating I've ever watched. He made a great leader and later friend to the title character.

Though this was a controversial film, and I can understand why, but I liked this film.

Les Misérables
It's probably best I waited to watch this in the privacy of my home, because I surely would've driven my fellow moviegoers nuts by singing along.

Growing up, my father played the original Broadway soundtrack all the time. In high school, I finally had an opportunity to see an off-Broadway version, and it was one of my favorite experiences.

During my three years of living out of a suitcase, the soundtrack was one of the CDs I took with me everywhere I went. On particularly rough days, I'd sing along to "I Dreamed a Dream" -- sometimes even sneaking out a few tears. (I've always been a little dramatic.)

I waited to see this one, because I was nervous about how the musical would translate to the screen. Overall, I was satisfied with the product. I like that they recorded the music live -- gave it an edgy feel.

Now for the casting. It was fine. I still don't know if I liked Anne Hathaway in this role. I'm not a hater by any means. I just really liked the Broadway original abetter.

Probably my favorite part of this movie was having Colm Wilkinson, the original Jean Valjean, play the part of Bishop of Digne. It would've been sad not to have him play a part in the movie of the musical he helped build. Sure he was only in it for about three minutes, but they were glorious minutes.

And Helena Bonham Carter was brilliant. She always manages to stun in everything. And I actually quite liked Sascha Baron Cohen as Thenardier.

Have any of you seen these movies? What were your thoughts?

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