Sunday, February 26, 2012

The obligatory oscar post

Last year I had published just 1 (yep... One...) post on this blog. That was because I just couldn't not make my obligatory oscar post. With that sort of history, and my recent claim about reviving my blog, there is really no way out this time either. So, here goes... as usual a hurried post, but an oscar post nevertheless.

Only writing about the categories about what I have any opinion one way or another. Bold is for "probably going to win", italics are for "my choice among the ones I have seen" while * means "still have to see this movie".

Best Picture: The Artist, (The Descendants or Hugo could also win.. though The Artist is the frontrunner), Hugo (Loved it!), *Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Best Lead Actor: Jean Dujardin (though I won't be surprised if Clooney wins... I'll actually be pleasantly surprised if Oldman wins, but perhaps that's not going to happen). *A Better Life

Best Lead Actress: Viola Davis (Streep might win it too.. I haven't seen 3 movies here, so no strong opinion anyway) *The Iron Lady, *My Week With Marilyn,  *Albert Nobbs

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer (I'm not sure if she is really the frontrunner, but she really elevated The Help by her performance.) *Albert Nobbs, *Bridesmaids

Best Director: Hugo (Perhaps The Artist is the frontrunner.. but i don't know... maybe they WILL give it to Scorsese.. if the do, I'll be happy.. I actually will also be pleasantly surprised if Terrence Malick gets it for The Tree of Life, but that is probably not going to happen)

Original Screenplay: A Separation (I don't know who will win. haven't seen Bridesmaids, and I didn't think Margin Call was THAT good.. any of the others won't be a big surprise but I REALLY want A separation to win, as you might've guessed by my last post :) ) *Bridesmaids

Adapted Screenplay: Moneyball (perhaps this will go to The Descendants, and I won't mind that too much. Though Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was pretty good too) *The Ides of March

Cinematography: All beautiful movies here! But I prefer The Tree of Life and War Horse  over others. Maybe they'll give it to The Tree of Life.. or perhaps it is going to be the day of The Artist.

Original Score: The Artist had to breathe through its score, and it was really good. Though all the other contenders were really good too.

Foreign Language Film: A Separation (though I haven't seen any of the others.. still, a movie will have to be awesome to beat A Separation, and that can only be good! Another great movie to see! But I really do think that is probably not going to happen.) *In Darkness, *Footnote, *Bullhead, *Monsieur Lazhar

Animated Feature: Rango (not seen 3 of the contenders, but I'll be surprised if Puss in Boots beats Rango.. and mildly surprised if even Kung Fu Panda 2 wins.. no idea about the other two. They might actually be good enough to win) *Chico & Rita, *A Cat in Paris

Live Action Short: No personal favorites really. All were nice. Though perhaps Tuba Atlantic and The Shore might be more 'oscar like' and might win.

Animated Short: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (Though Pixar's La Luna was pretty cute too, and might win.. all the other 3 were nice enough actually.. but TFFBOMMLessmore (phew!) was easily my favorite among all 5. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Separation

I had almost completely given up on my blogs. Every once in a while something would make me think of writing a post, but the more time a blog is dead, stronger is the reason that is needed to revive it. After a while, almost nothing seems strong enough. Not even year-end lists. I actually did make a "best hindi songs of 2011" for my own amusement, but even that didn't get me to finally publish something here.

And then, I saw "A Separation".

I saw it on 18th (my birthday), but waited for some days because a) I wanted to give myself some time so that the initial euphoria can die down and b) GG has been asking me to start blogging again, so now this can also count as her birthday gift! :P (Happy B'day GG!) :)

Anyway, for those of you who don't know about this movie, A Separation is an Iranian movie about a couple in contemporary Iran and some extraordinary circumstances that they find themselves in. You can see the trailer below, and it will tell you enough about the movie's plot and genre etc for you to decide whether this sounds like something that you'd want to see.

I was quite looking forward to this movie because it was easily the best reviewed movie of the year (95 on metacritic! no. 1 on Roger Ebert's year-end list..). The trailer increased that excitement. This was obviously the kind of movie that I normally like. When we found out that it is releasing in St Louis the day before my birthday, we really didn't have to think twice about what we were going to do to celebrate my birthday - Go and see if "A Separation" really is as good as we were hoping it to be.

It was. It really was. A lot of times when I go to see a movie with high expectations, there is a danger of me underrating it just because it didn't live upto the expectations. This movie not only lived up to them, it surpassed them. I was quite excited after watching "Hugo" recently, and "Black Swan" last year, but I really don't remember feeling THIS good about a movie after watching it for the first time since, probably, "The Lives of Others".

The movie is quite verbose. And completely devoid of any background score (which made me think of Satyajit Rai.. apparently he didn't like using music to guide and enhance emotions in movies.. a sign of inadequate storytelling skills). If you look at the trailer, it essentially seems to be about a family's troubles. Perhaps a tragic family drama, one would think. But it is really about much more than that. At times, it plays like a mystery and keeps you hooked because you want to know what the truth is. Then again, it raises Rashomon-like questions about truth itself. About morality. About letter and spirit of the law. About right and wrong and most things that are neither. And it touches you because you really do care about all of these characters. You think about those big questions BECAUSE they impact the lives of these people who really are trying to do their best given the situation they are in. The overall feel of the movie also made me think of Dekalog. Perhaps because while the movie is about big questions, it never feels that way because those things are translated so incredibly well into the lives of simple, ordinary people with seemingly simple lives.

It really is a triumph of storytelling and performances. If the trailer makes this movie seems anything like the sort of movie that you like to watch, then DO NOT miss it whenever you get an opportunity to see it.