February 2012: Award Season
Jolene (Dan Ireland, 2008)
I’m pretty sure the entire world already knows about how much I absolutely adore Jessica Chastain, but sitting down and watching this performance made my heart grow ten sizes larger so I could fit the rest of my love. It’s a damn fine character study, and while many might find the movie a little aimless, I found it worked well and didn’t take away from the character’s development. It also just happens to feature one of the most tastefully filmed stripping scenes I’ve ever seen, so you should all just go ahead and give it a shot. You’ll either love it or hate it, but at least you’ll get to see Jessica Chastain’s chameleon-like performance — changing her image from scene to scene.
Tuba Atlantic (Hallvar Witzø, 2010)
Let me start by saying that of all the Oscar nominees this year for short film, this was honestly robbed of the award. It’s the perfect balance of comedy and drama in a heart-warming tale that’s well worth the watch. Both of the leads give great performances and the story is really engaging and provides plenty of laughs for everyone. Had it been up to popular vote, this would have easily stolen the Academy Award.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (William Joyce & Brandon Oldenburg, 2011)
One of the most well-deserving Academy Award winners I’ve seen in a long time. I smiled a lot and I maybe even cried quite a bit. Now that you’re all likely judging me, I’ll just go ahead and say that I think this is what animation should strive to be. Yes, it’s a bit stuck in the past, but why shouldn’t some things be? In a world that’s trying so hard to move forward and leave the past behind, this nostalgia for literature is just something that hits the heart hard. Beautiful animation, touching story, and appropriate for every age.
The Death and Return of Superman (Max Landis, 2011)
Juan, is this really the third short film you include in here? Is it also seriously one of the best shorts you’ve ever seen? Hell yes it is. It’s got a collection of actors that you’ll definitely know (see: Elijah Wood, Mandy Moore, and more — I won’t spoil too many cameos) parodying actual DC characters in the most hilarious ways you can imagine. After watching it about five times, I was still laughing and that’s a pretty impressive feat to achieve with a short film. I enjoyed it so much that even though I’m against found-footage films, I’m actually curious to watch Chronicle only because Max Landis wrote it (although it still really just looks like a low-budget Akira remake).
Detachment (Tony Kaye, 2012)
I have been waiting way too long for another Tony Kaye feature and when I first saw the trailer for Detachment, I was pumped as can be. As you can tell from my rating of it on the previous page, it did not disappoint in the slightest. Brody’s performance was sublime, and while the supporting cast is a colorful one, the two that stand out the most are definitely James Caan and Lucy Liu. Even Bryan Cranston’s two minutes of screen time stand out pretty well. For a first time screenplay, one doesn’t expect something that goes as deep as Detachment does, but I honestly wish it would get a huge adaptation into an HBO miniseries of some sort because it deserves even more time to dive into these characters. Let’s see where he goes with his next film: Attachment (which is completely different).
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That’s all for February. I know it’s a bit late, but hopefully I’ll get some pretty great ones in during the rest of the month of March. Feel free to throw out some recommendations or tell me if any films I listed might have sparked your interest!