Thursday, January 15, 2009


Okay, please raise your hand if you love going to movies (I know some of you mentally raised an arm). If so, you are like me. I absolutely love this time of the year because this is when many of the film studios release their Oscar hopeful movies (I call them their "heavy hitters"). The submission deadline for a film to be considered for an award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is in the beginning of December (in this seasons case, December 3). Since the studios evidently don't trust the Academy members to have long memories, they save most of their Oscar hopefuls to be in theaters right around the submission deadline and after, to drum up support while the Academy members are watching the films to decide which films to nominate, and eventually, reward. The bottom line to all of this is that the true winners of this whole situation is the movie lover (I like to use the phrase "cinemanaic" myself)!

Now, admittedly, I have been terrible this year at getting to see all the movies that I wanted to. I still haven't seen Milk, a film by Gus van Sant chronicling the uplifting yet tragic story of San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, or Slumdog Millionaire, the darling of some film festivals based on the novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup. These are two flicks that are on my list to see before they exit the theaters. Another is Doubt (based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by John Patrick Shanley), a picture that tackles the age-old themes of religion, authority, and morality.

Occupying the absolute top of the list of movies I'd like to see, however, is the Wrestler. This work seems fascinating to me as it sheds light onto the human side of the generally bombastic and showy world of professional wrestling. Mickey Rourke plays Randy "the Ram" Robinson who was a star in the wrestling world twenty years ago, but is now working through an independent wrestling circuit. Forced to reassess his life after he has a heart attack, he tries to balance his desire to re-connect with his estranged daughter and romantic attraction to an exotic dancer with the allure of the sport that he has always loved. Incidentally, Rourke won the Best Actor in a Drama prize at the Golden Globe Awards. In the sense that a picture is worth a thousand words, please see the trailer for this film linked to the title above.

Now, of the movies I have been able to see so far, one of my favorites has been Gran Torino. It portrays Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski, a Korean War veteran who has recently lost his wife of many years. As his neighborhood is becoming more and more multicultural he must deal with his many prejudices, especially when he catches a Hmong boy trying to steal his 1971 Ford Gran Torino. This film is an excellent character study and extremely engaging, Eastwood does an terrific job in this role, which he says is his last acting role.

These films don't promise to be in the theaters for much longer, so keep in mind that you can always be able to get them from the library when they are released on DVD (presumably within the next few months). Have you seen any terrific movies lately? Let us know about them!

Also, the Oscar nominees will be announced next Thursday morning, January 22. Remember to keep an eye out for them.


Anonymous said...

Wonder if any of the movies that make the Oscar nominee list will be from early 2008? I can't remember anything from that time! Regarding Slumdog Millionaire - if one doesn't have time to read the book, listen to it. The audiobook was completely engaging.

Linda K, said...

I plan to see the new movies too, only I usually wait until they're out on DVD, then I get them at the library. It's too cold outside, too noisy in the theaters (I hate sitting near someone crunching nachos and slurping a giant coke)and the ticket price is more than I'm willing to pay for a movie I may not like. I consider myself a movie lover, just not an AMC or Loews theater lover.

Anonymous said...

I've seen most of the movies you listed, except for The Wrestler, which is on my "to see" list. And I LOVED Gran Torino, so much that I'm tempted to stop strangers in the street to talk about it. I thought it cinematically perfect and the story really inspiring -- how someone who is deeply prejudiced can react positively to an individual member of the group, sort of the opposite of loving people in general in the abstract, but not doing much to show it on the individual level. And, the scene during the credits is one of my all-time favorite visual memories. So, why no Oscar nominations? Am I so wrong?

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