Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lars and the Real Girl redux, thoughts on awards season

I've enjoyed reading the review of Lars and the Real Girl, which have been decidedly mixed. All of them are fair. I almost feel that this is a movie you make a decision about before you go in. If the film does x, y, and z, I'll like it, you tell yourself. If it does a, b, and c, I'll despise it. When the film does half of x, b, z, and c, once, but not the way you expected, then you have to ask yourself two questions, did I like the movie, and how is that connected to the film's quality? Because liking a movie and thinking it's good are not the same thing. Far from it, really. I knew, going into Lars, that as long as Lars didn't do anything crude to the sex doll, I'd love it because Ryan Gosling has got skills that go on for miles and the script isn't based on a Nicholas Sparks book. The movie lived up to its end of the bargain. Was it awfully contrived? Sure! Was I waiting for Ryan Gosling to crack out of the strange and tenuous shell of this deeply off character at every moment, so much so that it was distracting? Absolutely. Did I still think it was a fine movie and that the main cast did a superb job? You better believe it. Emily Mortimer and Paul Schneider really shine, if I didn't say so before, and while this isn't Ryan's best performance (still The Believer), he owns every scene. I can't imagine anyone else pulling it off. Joseph Gordon-Levitt could probably come close. No one else. Do you know how hard it is to pull off a lovable tenderness that is both mentally-disturbed and enduringly goofy at the same time, heartbreaking and yet far from maudlin? No one can do it! Tom Hanks can't do it (though I guess people think he did in Forrest Gump -- whatev). Jim Carrey can't do it. Bill Murray can't do it. Jimmy Stewart was the last guy, as far as I can tell, and while he was genius, he wasn't as subtle.

Judging from the trailers, I have some thoughts on nominations. I get the feeling No Country for Old Men is going to get nods for Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem. Michael Clayton will for George Clooney and Tom Wilkinson (probably Tilda Swinton, too). Charlie Wilson's War for picture. Ryan maybe for Lars (I'd love Paul Schneider, too, but Best Supporting Actor is always a tough category), definitely a Globe. Maybe something for Eastern Promises and Viggo. Once for the Globes (musical category).

I have a really good feeling about John Cusack for Grace is Gone. Keri Russell will definitely get a Globe nod for Waitress (comedy, musical). I can't make guesses about 3:10 to Yuma and The Assassination of.... I'm sure there's a nomination in there between the two. I just don't know what it is. Probably Denzel for American Gangster. Cate Blanchett, supporting for I'm Not There. Juno, Atonement, and plenty of other films will probably be on those lists, but right now, having seen only Waitress, Lars, and Michael Clayton, these are the ones I feel pretty confident about.

As much as I enjoyed Darjeeling and the performances, I doubt it will get any cast nods (if I had to champion any, I'd push Adrien, but not too hard), but it could get a Globe nod for musical/comedy (probably the easiest category -- what would the others be? Lars, Waitress, Juno, Once, maybe I'm Not There -- if it's musical, maybe Hairspray??).

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In summing up, I wish I had some kind of affirmative message to leave you with. I don't. Would you take two negative messages?
-- Woody Allen