The week of the Academy Awards are over. After all the build-up, I remember again why the awards are so fleeting, and how much of a "meat-parade" they are. I have to admit, I stole the "meat-parade" bit from George C. Scott, which is what he called the Academy Awards when he refused his Best Actor award in 1971. This year, the ceremony couldn't have been more overblown, with a broadway style show led by host, Hugh Jackman. Although I have to praise Jackman's song and dance abilities, the whole thing seemed a little too inappropriate given the current state of the economy. Like Benjamin Button, some of the musical numbers just seemed to drag on. Although I was pleased with most of the outcome, by the end of it, I realized I just didn't care.
This year so far, I am all over two movies that left me with a sense of cinematic hope.
Although it opened two months ago, it wasn't until January I finally saw Slumdog Millionaire. Although I am not as familiar with all his work, director Danny Boyle did Trainspotting in 1996, which is one of my favorite movies. Slumdog is a marvelous movie, filmed more like a blood and sweat independent film, rather than a big budget Hollywood polish. I don't mean to sound too biased, but there are times when I am more in favor of the indie style. Come to think of it, most films looked like that in the days before the digital age.
The story of Slumdog reads like a modern-day fairy tale, with a traditional good vs. evil plot. And I mean this in the best way possible. We get a slimey representation of India and its various battles, notably the slums vs. the economy, and the uneducated vs. the educated, and (more realistically) religious conflict. I love this movie, because it is a gratifying story, portrayed with sweat and dirt, and mixed with glitter.
Next up is Coraline. I've seen it only once, and I make it a point to write a proper review after seeing it twice. But I need to be careful financially, so I can't make too many trips to the cinemas. But after one viewing, I was already blown away by how beautiful the movie was. It is full of charm, stunning design work, and a grand mix of chaos and atmosphere. Obviously the right hands were involved in this, and the result is one that doesn't suffer from a transparent script, and doesn't become too predictable. A big kudos to Henry Selick, whose skills as a director are in terrific form with this film.
The film is solid, and is so far, the best film of the year. I know it is early to say that, but I can say it with honesty. I just feel its a shame the movie had to be released in February, when a lot of attention is usually paid to the Oscar nominations. Still, the movie seems to be doing good business, though it still has catching up to do at the box-office.
Now we have a whole new year of new films to look forward to.