The Best Actor Race Heats Up (January 30, 2010)

crazy

What in the world is a discerning Oscar follower to do? Hot on the heels of my raves over George Clooney in Up in the Air, and Colin Firth in A Single Man, the decision as to who should walk away with the Best Actor trophy in March just became a whole lot more difficult. Jeff Bridges gives new meaning to the pat phrase, “the role he was born to play” with an unbelievable turn as “Bad” Blake in the amazing film Crazy Heart.

I was a huge Jeff Bridges fan growing up. My sister and I probably watched Starman (another Best Actor nominated performance) a hundred times as little girls. Of course, The Fabulous Baker Boys was another favorite. But in recent years, Bridges has slowed down his filmmaking pace, much the loss of a new generation of moviegoers who may not be familiar with any of his work.

That should change with the growing word of mouth and critical success ofCrazy Heart. Now mind you, I am no great fan of red states and the stereotypical musical and lifestyle tastes they embody. But this film is not at all political. Instead, it is an authentic, naked portrayal of a genius on the decline, as he fights to make his way back to the top. Featuring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Colin Ferrell (a revelation in his own right) in supporting roles, my only regret about the film is that Academy Award buzz swirls solely around Bridges. As you may be aware, Oscar voters are selecting ten films, rather than the usual five, for the Best Picture contest this year.Crazy Heart is easily one of the top films, so I am hoping for a surprise when announcements are read this week.

At the recommendation of one of our loyal blog followers, Sanjiv, I am definitely going to make it a point to watch 500 Days of Summer before finally declaring my own choice for the best film of 2009. Right now, I am simply high on the availability of so much great art at the multiplex.

See This Movie Immediately! (January 19, 2010)

up-in-the-air-movie

Bar none, best film of 2009, and not only because it is so “now” tapping into the modern scene of mass corporate layoffs and the soulless road warriors who hand them out. The movie is really that simple, and yet oh so much more. George Clooney, who never fails to be both hunky and and an amazing actor, is truly a revelation in this film.

I have yet to see Crazy Heart but hear Jeff Bridges presents a formidable challenge to Clooney for the Best Actor Oscar. I am going to make it a point to check that movie out next week so I can make a truly informed decision. But George is going to be tough to beat. I should also mention that I like Colin Firth in A Single Man as a possible dark horse spoiler.

But I digress. See Up in the Air. I realize America is enamored with Avatarat the moment (blah!) and doesn’t seem to have an appetite for much else. But I urge you to forget the blue people and check out this film: no special effects, no suspension of disbelief, no cliche happy endings. Just good old fashioned movie making. A beautiful, gorgeous piece of modern art.