For the first time in my life I was able to see all five films nominated for Best Picture before the Academy Awards. It took me seeing Aviator on last Saturday at 11:00 AM to accomplish the feat, but I got it done. I have already posted reviews on Sideways and Million Dollar Baby and since I don't want this post to be too long, I will post "mini-reviews" (said in Dr. Evil's voice) for the other three movies.
RAY: Unbelievable acting by Jamie Foxx!! I don't think anyone was surprised by the fact that he won best actor. There was really no point in the movie where I felt like I wasn't watching Ray Charles. Foxx was commanding. For those of us who were in the dark about Ray Charles' talent and brilliance, this movie opens us up to the magic of Ray Charles. The music in the movie is wonderful and I left the movie wishing that I had been a Ray Charles fan before his death. I find myself searching itunes regularly for Ray Charles songs now!
FINDING NEVERLAND: This is actually my favorite of all the Best Picture films. I am a sucker for cool cinematography and this movie has some great scenes. The movie is about J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, and his relationship with the family that inspired his tale. The movie captures the magic of children and living life to its fullest. It is a movie for dreamers and for those who don't ever want to grow up (see why I liked it!). Johnny Depp captures us again with his great acting and Kate Winslet and Dustin Hoffman (yes, Captain Hook, from Hook-brilliant casting) both do excellent jobs. But stealing many scenes is the young actor Freddie Highmore, who plays Peter Llewelyn Davies, the character Barrie names Peter Pan after. It is the most uplifting of all the movies and it is difficult to leave the theatre without tears in your eyes.
THE AVIATOR: This was probably the closest thing to an epic this year had to offer. Martin Scorsese (who I think got robbed of Best Director) creates a masterful timepiece tale of Howard Hughes. The airplane scenes that he depicts are amazingly accurate and make the movie come alive. The costumes and the cast of old school actors and actresses that intercept Hughes' life helps to bring the 20s, 30s and 40s come to life. Leonardo DiCaprio (who I don't enjoy--I hated Titanic--I think its one of the most overrated movies in history) does a masterful job. I have no idea what Howard Hughes was like in real life, but DiCaprio was brilliant in what Scorsese wanted to depict. Similarly to Foxx, I rarely felt like I was watching DiCaprio. He took command of the screen throughout the entire movie.
RECAP: While there was no clearly great movie for this years' Best Picture, I think it is one of the deepest years in a while. Sideways was not good, but the rest of the movies were excellent films and highly entertaining. They all had very powerful qualities (the story of Finding Neverland, the ethical questions and acting of Million Dollar Baby, and the great lead actors for Ray and The Aviator). I would definitely recommend these four movies for anyone who wants to see a good flick.