AMC Theaters hosted all five Oscar Best Picture nominees on Saturday and I found myself sitting in the theater for about 13 hours. After that time, I find myself steadfast in which movie should win the Oscar.
It was a tough year with all the great films that came out and the Academy had to narrow its picks down to five -- "Babel," "Letters from Iwo Jima," "The Queen," "The Departed" and "Little Miss Sunshine." This is the category that no one is absolutely positive about.
I had seen three out of five of the movies prior to Saturday and wavered in my "official" decision. However, watching each one on the big screen for the first time or a second, there's no doubt in my mind: "The Queen" should pull out the win.
I know plenty of people are pulling for "The Departed," "Little Miss Sunshine" is the underdog, "Letters from Iwo Jima" has Clint Eastwood on its side and "Babel" has a great cast. "The Queen," on the other hand, has a lot more going for it -- the queen herself, Helen Mirren, a wonderful story and it's a movie that I can't get tired of.
So read forth, if you want a justification and to know my lengthy thought process.
If I were to rank the films in the order that I think they should win, it would be:
1. "The Queen"
2. "Little Miss Sunshine"
3. "The Departed"
5. "Letters from Iwo Jima"
"The Queen" came off as the most real story; it should since it was based on the events that followed Princess Diana's death. Mirren embodies Queen Elizabeth II, looks and personality. She makes the Queen someone other than a figurehead of state, she's a woman with emotions, a sarcastic nature and a heart. Director Stephen Frears and writer Peter Morgan created a story that humanized the royals, from the grief they felt to the snippy comments that would be thrown in here and there.
"The Queen" came off as a whole package rather than a story that I had questions about later on. It was enjoyable, pretty to look at and had both drama and comedy.
I love "Little Miss Sunshine," I declared it best movie of last summer. It could pull out a win as the little movie that could, but it doesn't seem like an Academy picture. It's one of the more enjoyable films, funny and happy at the same time, but it's the underdog nonetheless. It seems fit for all the indie award shows. That's the mindset of the Academy Awards. It's an elitest thing that puts movies like "Little Miss Sunshine" at a disadvantage. This year the Oscars seem to be less inclined to stick to its "high art only" awards, but still, "Little Miss Sunshine" is the longshot.
If I were to say which movie would give "The Queen" the biggest run for its money, even though I don't think it should, would be "The Departed." I can't give "The Departed" the win though. It has a fatal flaw that I just can't get past.
Leonardo Dicaprio's character gives his ex-psychologist slash girlfriend an envelope and tells her what to do with it if something happens to him. Ok, makes sense, but what happens with said envelope? Nothing. It gets put in a drawer and nothing happens. An entire scene is dedicated to it, and nothing happens. Sure, people can assume that she opens the envelope and what happens in the last scene is the result of it, but I don't buy it. The envelope was forgotten and, thus, loses my vote.
I won't give "The Departed" the Best Picture Oscar, but I give Martin Scorsese Best Director. He deserves it after all this time. If he loses again, he should just throw in his hat and be done with Hollywood. He's not being appreciated at the level he should be. Give him an award!
Although it has a standout cast, "Babel" shouldn't win. It's this year's "Crash," on the international level, and that movie already won Best Picture. I can understand the whole appeal of having stories that intertwine and not every character knows the other people involved. I found myself interested in only two storylines, Amelia's (played Adriana Barraza) and Chieko's (Rinko Kikuchi). Both women earned Supporting Actress nominations for good reasons. It was difficult to get into the other storylines, although, the other storylines are the ones that set off the entire movie.
I would call "Letters from Iwo Jima" a beautiful film, a piece of art, but there's only so much time a person can look at something like that. It tends to drag, the font used for the subtitles is distracting and hard to read at times and there are unnecessary flashbacks. Cut the movie down, gain a better focus and then it could be a winner. It deserved its nomination, but not a win. If I had been watching it at home, I don't think I'd be able to sit through the entire movie. I loved Ken Watanabe's performance, the story itself needed some work.
I agree that all the movies deserved a nomination, but now I'm leaning towards having "Letters from Iwo Jima" being nominated in the Foreign Film category. It's a borderline pick since Eastwood only directed and the screenplay is from Japan. If I were the Academy, I would have replaced "Iwo Jima" with "Dreamgirls." The snub of the musical turned movie doesn't make much sense to me, especially after seeing "Iwo Jima.
We'll see how my pick does today, but "The Queen" deserves to reign.
Originally from Des Plaines, Ill., Heather moved to Milwaukee to earn a B.A. in journalism from Marquette University. With a tongue-twisting last name like Leszczewicz, it's best to go into a career where people don't need to say your name often.
However, she's still sticking to some of her Illinoisan ways (she won't reform when it comes to things like pop, water fountain or ATM), though she's grown to enjoy her time in the Brew City.
Although her journalism career is still budding, Heather has had the chance for some once-in-a-lifetime interviews with celebrities like actor Vince Vaughn and actress Charlize Theron, director Cameron Crowe and singers Ben Kweller and Isaac Hanson of '90s brother boy band Hanson.
Heather's a self-proclaimed workaholic but loves her entertainment. She's a real television and movie fanatic, book nerd, music junkie, coffee addict and pop culture aficionado.