This past Saturday, my friend Ben and I each ponied up the $30 and made the trek to Easton Town Center in Columbus to attend the AMC Theaters Best Picture Showcase. 12 hours, 5 films. We started at 11am with Michael Clayton, and No Country For Old Men wrapped up just after 11pm. Obviously, at this point we know which of these films walked away with awards, but I still wanted to do a recap of the day. We hustle down to the small food court downstairs and must decide: Sbarro or Panda Express? We both really want Panda Express, but decide pizza and breadsticks would probably be easier to eat in a darkened theater. Naturally, others sitting near us purchase Panda Express, and the glorious aroma of cheap Chinese food mocks us. Did you know that: * Sandra Bullock lived in Germany until she was 12? * Meryl Streep was almost a lawyer, but overslept and missed her law school interview? * Marilyn Monroe was an avid reader, leaving behind a library of hundreds of books? And that's a wrap! -Buck
I thought about taking a camera with me, but decided against it in the end. I do have a couple shots of the swanky pass they gave everyone. I thought the little mini-posters were a neat touch. Apologies for the fuzziness of the second photo. I couldn’t get it to focus properly, but you get the idea.
Tom Wilkinson kicks this one off with a fantastic monologue that made me want to hand him an Oscar based on that alone. He’s great, as is Clooney. The film is really a slow burn, culminating in a crowd-pleaser of an ending that made it a great choice to start the day. This is the first thing I’ve seen Tony Gilroy do aside from writing the Bourne films, and I’m eager to see what he brings us in the future. B+
Brief break for bathroom and popcorn. A nerdy theater employee named Jared welcomes everyone and asks a couple of Oscar trivia questions. It’s rather poorly thought-out though, as people simply shout out their answers. Winners get some manner of prize package. I don’t know what was in those. The two they gave away later in the day were a Juno mug and the Atonement novel. There's a reporter from The Columbus Dispatch talking to a group of guys behind us from Dayton. She asks if she can check in with them after each movie to get their opinions on how the day is going. After hearing one of the boneheaded comments one makes following There Will Be Blood, I decide she's interviewing the wrong people.
There Will Be Blood
Daniel Day-Lewis deserved that Oscar. The film is an interesting one. I know I liked it, but I can’t decide if it was solely due to Day-Lewis’ performance or not. Either way, I find myself thinking about it a lot, and visiting this site to read discussion threads about some of the more interesting elements of the film. Technically, it’s quite an achievement, and while I don’t think it will end up in my collection, I will definitely be watching it again in the future. A-
Break. As we exit the theater, Ben points to the man who's been sitting two seats down from him and declares, "I hate that guy." Who, the big, somewhat effeminate man who's showing off his movie-buff pretentiousness to the group he's with? The one who's seen all 5 of these movies already, but decided to spend $30 to show his friends (and everyone in the immediate vicinity) he knows how great they are? Can't imagine why you'd hate him.
This was the one film out of these five that, if I were adding to my Blockbuster queue, I probably would have skipped. British period romances are a hard sell with me. But I’m glad I got to see it, as I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. The first twenty minutes or so are quite funny, with a comedy of errors and miscommunication that we weren’t expecting. And then the movie switches to drama. It’s well-done, and the much-talked about 5 ½-minute tracking shot of the evacuation of Dunkirk during WWII is nothing short of breathtaking. Still, despite good performances from McAvoy, Knightley, and Saoirse Ronan as the younger Briony, kind of a down ending. Definitely time for a comedy. B+
Break for popcorn and soda. I briefly consider a beer, but decide it would probably taste like ass when coupled with the popcorn, and I desperately need something salty after gorging on Twizzlers and Whoppers. We've also been treated to the same "Before they were stars" pre-show trivia before every movie.
Given the quickness of the dialogue and obscure nature of some of the references, it was like a weird hybrid of Arrested Development and Gilmore Girls. Very funny, though. Ellen Page was great, and I absolutely loved J.K. Simmons as her father. There’s really no weak link in the cast, and I’ll give Diablo Cody credit for not making it completely predictable. There are some touches thrown in with the prospective adoptive parents of Juno’s baby that I didn’t see coming. But in the end, was it Best Picture worthy? I don't think so. There were other films that were, frankly, better. David Fincher's Zodiac or American Gangster, or maybe Once, for instance (Seriously, if you haven't seen Once, go out and rent it. A terrific little film). And while I haven't seen them yet, the buzz around The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, La Vie En Rose, and Into the Wild made me surprised they weren't nominated in this category. That's not meant as a slight to Juno though, because it's a great little movie. Heck, it's the only one of the night that got applause at the end, though I think that was mostly because we’d all been so depressed after Atonement. A-
Last bathroom break before the Coens have a chance to redeem themselves after The Ladykillers. In line for a soda refill, I bounce on my heels to maintain bloodflow in my legs. I ask Ben, "Can you feel it yet?" He responds, "You mean the fact that we've spent the entire day sitting on our asses, literally doing nothing?" "Pretty much." Surprisingly, our butts are not numb. Kudos on the comfortable seats, AMC!
No Country For Old Men
What to say that hasn’t been said already? It’s a great film. So many people complain about the abruptness of the ending, but it makes perfect sense. Especially if you actually listened to Tommy Lee Jones’ opening narration. The ending dovetails that perfectly. What more did you people want? Everyone involved is great. Jones gives a great world-weary performance, and I was disappointed that Josh Brolin wasn’t nominated, as his performance drives much of the film. And, of course, Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh, one of the best screen villains to come along in a long time. A great way to end the evening. A
We finish out the night with a run through the McDonald's drive-thru to get some food in our stomachs that isn't popcorn or pure sugar. I declare No Country my favorite of the night, with Michael Clayton a close second. Ben decides he liked There Will Be Blood the most, because of the third-act insanity. Naturally, part of the drive home consists of us coming up with wacky variations on the "I drink your milkshake!" line.
We hustle down to the small food court downstairs and must decide: Sbarro or Panda Express? We both really want Panda Express, but decide pizza and breadsticks would probably be easier to eat in a darkened theater. Naturally, others sitting near us purchase Panda Express, and the glorious aroma of cheap Chinese food mocks us.
Did you know that:
* Sandra Bullock lived in Germany until she was 12?
* Meryl Streep was almost a lawyer, but overslept and missed her law school interview?
* Marilyn Monroe was an avid reader, leaving behind a library of hundreds of books?
And that's a wrap!