Sunday, January 15, 2006

Cinderella Man

Award shows are one of my odd obsessions. However, I am actually particular about them; I only go for the "high class" shows. That means that I could care less about the Nick Teen Choice Awards and I prefer the Grammy's to the Billboard Awards. I have been watching the Academy Awards for as long as I can remember. They are an "event" for me. I read up on all the latest predictions, and I usually join or start a betting pool, which I usually win or split. (I know, I know. I am such a loser) Since I got my own car, I have also tried to see as many of the nominated (or I think should be nominated) pictures before the actual ceremony.

This last task has proved pretty daunting since I moved to Germany. The majority of the movies in the running this year have not even been released over here yet! Before my American Christmas Extravaganza I made a list of about seven movies that I wanted to see before the awards season kicked into high gear. I got to see ONE! My lone flick was "Walk the Line," which was pretty good. Reese Witherspoon is totally going to get an Oscar nomination. The other movies I wanted to see were NOT EVEN PLAYING in Summerville, SC (they include Munich, Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Syriana, Good Night and Good Luck; hmm . . . is it really any wonder that these were not playing in my parents' southern suburbs?)

This weekend the German and I rented some DVD's and I tried to catch up on my list (the Golden Globes are tomorrow! A girl needs to do some catching up!). So, we got Cinderella Man.
It was . . . Okay. Actually, good but not great. I would give it 3 out of 4 stars. Paul Giamatti was his usual fantastic self. I loved the scene were he is trying to negotiate the fight. On the outside he is all swagger, but his eyes betray his desperation. I think he will win tomorrow and get an Oscar nomination. I agree with a lot of critics that could be considered a "do over," which so often happens with the Academy. That is, "We made such a bone head error last year by not recognizing you for Sideways (awesome movie!), please take this trophy as our apology."

Russell Crowe was also good but not award great. I think Joaquin Phoenix was better in Walk the Line. I think the best actor Oscar will come down to those two and Heath Ledger for Brokeback and Philip Seymour Hoffmann for Capote. Because of all the "buzz" (God I hate that word sometimes) for Brokeback, I think Ledger has the edge, but can the academy forgive 10 Things I Hate About You (actually not a terrible movie) or A Knight's Tale (which was terrible!). I have liked Hoffmann for years and I am dying to see Capote, and the clip and trailer I saw on Yahoo, make me REALLY like his performance. On the other hand, I left Walk the Line thinking about Phoenix for days. Maybe it is because he was so hot . . .

Anyway, there is an interesting end note to our Cinderella Man screening. When I teach American politics, the topic of political culture and culture comes up a lot. I realized that Cinderella Man is a good example of those values important in American culture. Notably, that anyone can make something of themselves if they work hard enough (and use their head as a punching bag). The concept of individualism runs heavy in this movie. It is sometimes at odds with the main characters feelings about the government. Crowe's character mentions FDR several times and thinks that it is good that a government can "help a man when he is down." So, although he seems to appreciate some sort of social programs, you had best pay it back when you can. I was not sure what cultural image trumps in this movie. Or maybe I am reading to much into it . . . Although I try to reflect on films and NOT let myself be emotionally manipulated, there were two scenes when I totally cried (when he promises not to send his son away and when the neighbor is buried) and I leaked a little at the end. I could not help myself. That is when I realized that my attachment to American culture runs deep. On the other hand, I also cried when I saw Seabiscuit. I know, I know. If you did not think that I was a loser before, you are thinking it now.

I am going to write my blog while watching the Golden Globes tomorrow! It will probably make no sense because I will be writing between the hours of 2:00am and 5:00am. Just love that time difference.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Walk the Line: I don't know if you realize what a HUGE Johnny Cash fan I am (I have his lyrics tattooed on my arm for goodness sakes!) and so went into this movie really excited. I think Joaquin was a genius and by far the best thing in the movie. It actually became a bit of an obsession with me and I saw it 5 times. Yeah, I know. Add me to the loser roster. Reese was good but I thought it was more of a supporting role. I think it will come down to Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin for the Oscar. I would give it to Joaquin simply because he had a more difficult task. He took on an icon whereas PSH took on a personality. But I think the Academy will go for PSH just because of his stellar body of work.

Munich While not Spielberg's masterpiece, it is the perfect movie to see and then have coffee and discuss afetrwards. The acting was excellent and you definitely leave with an understanding of the human toll of terrorism. I'm fascinated by the Munich Massacre and Israel's reaction so this was a movie I was very much looking forward to seeing. The script had some weak points and I wanted a little more resolution but then I suppose not having any semblance of closure is rather the point.

Brokeback Mountain Absolutely everyone recommended this to me. I really liked it but I didn't go all gaga. The acting is very good, especially Ledger but I was actually more interested in the female characters. Still, it is nice that this film has proven there is an audience for a good movie, that just happens to have gay characters. I'm still trying to decide how much I liked this one and how much of my reaction was due to hype:-)

Syriana This film was fantastic and confusing and challenging and links together at the end in the most horrifically perfect way. My friend hated it and said it bored her to tears but I think the ending more than makes up for any slow spots. Getting gas after seeing this movie is a guilty experience.

Good Night and Good Luck Again big dork but I've read a lot about this period in news and this film just got everything right. It really makes you yearn for that period of optimism. It is hard to even fathom in this era of 24 hour news and sound bites.

CapoteThis movie was just ridiculous! Everything was amazing and I plan to pimp this to friends once it comes out on DVD. I went because 1 )I love capote; 2)In Cold Blood is one of my fave reads and 3)Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a mad genius. Out of all the films, I'd check this one out first.

OMG this is the longest post ever. Sorry but when it comes to movies I'm an addict. I'm so glad that you too are an awards whore. I'm also embarrassed to say I totally stay in the loop on celebrity drivel. Check out this blog for the best scoop ever!