I just attended the AMC's 2009 Best Picture Showcase out in The OC, where all 5 of the Best Picture nominees were shown back-to-back in one day at 97 AMC theater locations throughout the country for one ticket price of $30.
Since I had seen all the films except Frost/Nixon, I just headed to that particular showing. I was given a souvenir lanyard, with artwork and info on the five nominated films and also received a large popcorn with unlimited refills, which would have come in handy if I was there the whole day like most of the people there.
I wasn't expecting Frost/Nixon to be as good as it ended up being. The trailer didn't do it justice. I thought the film was going to be just the TV interviews, but it was more behind the scenes and featured other talented cast members like Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell and Oliver Platt. Plus, Best Actor nominee Frank Langella's performance as Nixon was uncanny and It reminded me a little of Good Night, and Good Luck in its focus on a jounalism-era event, however, I liked the style of this film more. Overall, it was like watching a really good candid 60 minutes with some comedy mixed in.
Below are my thoughts on each of the other Best Picture Nominees:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button The long title is like an omen to how long this film was going to be at 166 minutes. It wasn’t the length though that bothered me, it was the overall build up to nothing. I just felt let down by this film. I like how it started, interesting concept and the plot kept moving and then it just stalled, yet kept driving its audience along for the ride. Yes, Brad Pitt did a good job talking gravelly and not looking so perfect, but eh. Actually, that’s how I felt about this film—“eh.” I had people argue though that it was a beautiful love story, but I didn’t find it all that romantic and that the relationship was pretty shallow and depressing. As I said before, I liked the beginning of the film before the romance even started. Overall, I thought it was over indulgent and at times boring. Can’t help but feel Forrest Gump, which did win best picture in 1994, did a much better job telling a similar and a more interesting story.
Milk A good political bio picture, it enlightened me on who Harvey Milk was in the first place and easily had my support in his fight for equal rights for gay citizens in San Francisco. The acting was strong as was the late 70s early 80s film coloring, props and overall time capsule look. Although I enjoyed this film and thought it was definitely a must watch, I don’t think it was the best picture of 2008 or anything that special to warrant that particular distinction.
The Reader This was an unexpected surprise for me. I didn’t know much about the film when I walked into the theater outside of Kate Winslet was starring in it, but I really liked the many different layers of love, hate, revenge and suffering. The film takes place Post-WWII Germany and starts off as a love story between a 15-year-old boy and much older woman (Kate). Nearly a decade after the affair came to a mysterious end, the boy now turned law student re-encounters his former lover as she defends herself in a war-crime trial. I wasn’t expecting the trial portion and the change in direction the film took, although it was evident that “something” was brewing. Overall, the film shows you how much love can affect you, hurt you and cloud your judgment and decisions. Kate also did a wonderful job playing the complicated and stern character, she has my vote for Best Actress.
Slumdog Millionaire Now here is a romance, drama, spectacle, biopic and more. Everything a Best Picture winner should be. Final answer. I must say I wasn’t interested in seeing this British film until the groundswell of buzz and awards escalated it to new heights. I then feared my expectations would be too high, but I was captured right from the start and enjoyed the emotional ride. I wasn't alone as the entire movie theater stayed in their seats until midway through the credits not the typical rush to the exit and to their car.