Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lincoln (2012)

**Seen on December 29th, 2012**

As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves[imdb]

Nominated for 12 Oscars:
Best Picture
Best Director: Steven Spielberg
Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis 
Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones
Best Supporting Actress: Sally Field
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Cinematography
Best Original Score
Best Editing
Best Production Design
Best Costume Design
Best Sound Mixing

Had Lincoln won Best Picture, it would've been one of the less fortunate winners, but still a much better film than Argo. After the nominations' announcement, Lincoln was considered the front-runner, but it slowly lost its track. That connects to the actual film only in the way that it wasn't a complete success for everybody. I, for one, didn't like it at times, so I am stuck somewhere in the middle. In a film relying so much on acting, what attracted me most about it was the technical aspect: the cinematography, the original score and the production design range from beautiful to gorgeous. Spielberg is behind it all, so you know it will be visually engaging film. And I also admire the intentions of the project, and the magnitude of it all. I think the screenplay has flaws, but I can easily notice how difficult it must've been to write such an impressive piece.
Spielberg's directing is fine, just as subtle as the film demands it. And the acting... well,... people look at DDL's performance like it was the Second coming... it's not. He is definitely in the zone, gives a good performance, but I didn't find anything mindblowing about it. He carries the big speeches nicely, but the entire performance lacks energy - is it his fault? More likely the screenplay's, but it made me less involved in the story. I would've went for a more dynamic approach, this just felt lifeless at times. Tommy Lee Jones does well with what he has, while Sally Field is partly the opposite of DDL's performance - because her role is so limited in screentime, I felt she pushed too hard once too many times, in the way Sally Field often decides to portray neurosis. There were a lot of good small performances, and Hal Holbrook stood out for me.
My rating for the film: 7.5/10. It bored me at times, so I just couldn't give it more. The pace was killing it a bit.

Frankenweenie (2012)

**Seen on December 27th, 2012**

Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences. [imdb]

Nominated for 1 Oscar:
Best Animated Feature

I've never seen Corpse Bride, so I had no idea, no precedent of knowing what Tim Burton can do with animation. I didn't hate Dark Shadows, but I did hate Alice in Wonderland, so my love story with Burton hasn't been on a high note lately. Frankenweenie I don't love, but I respect the project, the work put into it, because you can tell the passion of its author.
It's flaw is that it gets a bit predictable, and I can see how it was more suited for a short-form feature / animation. Even so, I smiled my way through it, because it's charming, and also a bit scary (depending on how/when you see it) and I appreciate quite a lot this special technique of animation. Nice score, classic pace.
My rating for the film: 7.5/10. There's always room for better, but quite a worthy nomination.

Flight (2012)

**Seen on December 25th, 2012**

An airline pilot saves almost all his passengers on his malfunctioning airliner which eventually crashed, but an investigation into the accident reveals something troubling. [imdb]

Nominated for 2 Oscars:

Best Actor: Denzel Washington
Best Original Screenplay

It's not that I have to go back so far in my memory to remember Flight, it's just that's it's that kind of commercial thin story that made me roll my eyes more than once as the film was progressing. The part that involves the crash of the plane is nicely put together. The story of the man is interesting & it has potential. But the way that it's all written on paper, the emotions, the reactions, that doesn't succeed and it's the screenplay's fault.

Worst part: the screenplay itself got nominated (!) and no need for me to underline how little it deserves to be there. The ending alone, by that I mean literally the final scene(s), is ridiculous with a happy ending that feels oh-so-fake. Denzel gives an ok performance, but in such a strong year for leading actors and actors in general, this was not a performance worthy to make it to the final line-up. The film however is totally watchable, but I have little respect for it other that some technical stuff.

My rating for the film: 5.5/10. Kelly Reilly's performance is quite a mess.