05 March 2010

A Second Look at Two Best Picture/Best Actress Nominees

I went back and revisited An Education and Precious last week to refresh my memory. I still don't understand why Tilda Swinton wasn't nominated for Best Actress. Whatever.

The first time I saw An Education I loved it for the most part but I thought the ending kind of ruined it a little bit. This time I was less mesmerized and electrified throughout the movie but I also found it more even. I felt like I watched it more as a serious movie this time, slight though it may perhaps be, and I also appreciated the ending better. I think both of these movies have in common that they largely succeed on the strength of the performances of the actors though this one has better writing, better cinematography, and higher production values. I mean, I know we all get tired of these coming of age stories sometimes but I liked it. I don't know how to talk about this in terms of the Best Picture Oscar because the nominees for this and most categories this year are so ridiculous it's hard to take them seriously. My choice for Best Picture would be Avatar. Second place would go to A Serious Man and I'd probably give An Education the bronze. For the actress award I'd vote for Meryl Streep but Carey Mulligan would be my second choice. I kind of feel like both Mulligan and Sidibe are too young. I don't know what they can do. She was great in this movie. Maybe Gabourey was better but I'm not sure. One of the things I really liked about this movie was the supporting cast. Brenda Blethyn does her thing without overdoing it, like she sometimes lovably can. Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike are great as David's friends. Peter Sarsgard plays this role with such a great blend of charm and sliminess. It's not a movie I'm likely to return back to over the years but it's certainly well put together. B+

I guess I'd put Precious in third place for Best Actress and fourth place for Best Picture. The film is really powerful. The performances by Mo'Nique and Gabourey Sidibe are riveting. It's just that the writing isn't so great and some of the other characters, including the teacher, are kind of hollow. B

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