The Oscar nominations come out, and I suddenly realize I saw NO movies last year. None.
Well, like, 20. But still.
This year seems wose than most, though. Ususally I've seen one or two of the nominees for Best Picture. I can make some sort of educated statement like, "Sideways? Seriously?" or "If Return of the King doesn't win this year, there's no justice in Hollywood."
This year? I've seen none of the Best Picture films. And, of the 53 films nominated for an award, I've seen eight:
Batman Begins (cinematography),
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (makeup, sound mixing, visual effects),
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (art direction),
March of the Penguins (documentary),
Pride and Prejudice (actress - really? must've been a bad year for leading ladies - , art direction, costume design, original score),
Walk the Line (actor, actress, editing, costmes, sound mixing),
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (animated feature),
and War of the Worlds (sound editing, sound mixing, visual effects).
When I saw the list, I vowed to do better. I am going to try to see as many Oscar-nominated movies as possible before the ceremony on March 5.
Last night, I took the first step with ...
Good Night, and Good Luck. (Best Picture, actor, director, original screenplay, cinematography, art direction)
Good Night, and Good Luck. is writer/director George Clooney's big arm-waving jumping-up-and-down cry to the American people, "Come on, guys, history is repeating itself RIGHT THE HELL NOW!" It is incredibly relevant; when Edward R. Murrow points out that "balanced journalism" doesn't mean reporting the wrong as equal to the right, he's speaking to journalists everywhere, in all times.
It's so freakishly apt that I want to go back and study Murrow's old speeches and broadcasts, to find out if the things he said were really so applicable to journalism in 2005 (such as when he berates a room full of reporters for allowing the media to be dominated by silly entertainment masquerading as news) - but I can easily believe that it all happened the way Clooney presents it. Watching the film - which makes much use of historical footage; possibly as much as half the film is actual clips of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communism hearings and Murrow's pieces for CBS - feels like watching history itself.
Of course, history often does not present itself in the form of a three-act arc of conflict, which may be why the pacing of Good Night, and Good Luck. feels off. The climax of the piece - the controversial broadcast where Murrow and producer Fred Friendly decide to go after McCarthy - comes fairly early, and the denouement is long. The footage of McCarthy and of Murrow's interview subjects is lengthy and sometimes repetitive. (Come to think of it, that could be a conscious nod to the films of the period, whose scenes I often feel end five seconds too late.)
But these problems slipped away once I left the theater, leaving me with memories of the striking dialogue and visuals that are going to make this film a classic. It deserves any awards it wins (um, not that I have anything to compare it to, really).