Fact: Every summer since the year The Departed won the Academy Award for Best Picture, I try to watch as many of the season's Oscar-nominated films as time would permit.
Fact: Every summer since then, I've always missed a Best Picture contender for my "watched list" (meaning, either I've yet to see it, or I saw it some other time in the future). For the 79th, it's Letters from Iwo Jima; Michael Clayton for the 80th; Frost/Nixon for the 81st; and District 9 for the 82nd.
Fact: I strongly feel that A Serious Man should have won last year. And that Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man) was robbed of a spot in the Best Actor category, and Marion Cotillard (Nine) for Best Supporting Actress.
Fact: I still believe Doubt was the best film of the 81st season.
Fact: I've yet to lay my hands on a decent copy of True Grit, after which this year's marathon kicks off. In the meantime, an omnibus review of my recently consumed films.
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Meryl Streep learns the two-part harmony of a dial tone.
ADAPTATION (2002). One of the funniest 'intelligent films' I've ever come across with. Nicolas Cage was totally likable here (His Charlie was so messed up, and his Donald, so idiotically intellectual), and Meryl Streep played a totally human villain. Then, there's the screenplay, which is just a work of genius. An adaptation about an adaptation about an adaptation - at one point, you'd find it hard to distinguish reality from film. Charlie's voice-overs - his thoughts - showed exactly how we all mix our thoughts up and process them one after the other - rapid and random. Only Streep could have pulled off that scene where she got so high, she became so intrigued with the phone's dial tone. And what better way to kill the dumb villain off than by alligator ambush, right?
RIO (2011). I did not expect to like it a lot, but I did, and it's actually one of the few films that make a 3D viewing totally worth it. Who would've thought a story about clashing South American birds could make wonders? A very, very outstanding job, too, in the recreation of Rio de Janeiro - watch the film, head over to Google Images, and see how detailed the animation is. And whoever wrote the screenplay totally nailed it. "I'm Blu... like the cheese."
PINEAPPLE EXPRESS (2008). Seth Rogen and James Franco just made me develop a sort of appreciation for stoners. Their onscreen stoners were so well-acted, the nuances were finely tuned, they made marijuana addiction seem less of an evil. Overall, one of the funniest things to have played our TV... 'totally stoned, in a good way', I said in my Twitter account.
RED RIDING HOOD (2011). After leaving the theater, I was like, "What sort of joke was that?!" The entire film just came across as so stupid, it actually had me laughing. Tough skins, those people have, what with their sparse clothing in a snowy land. Amanda Seyfried, at least, was able to maintain her dignity. The rest of the cast did a totally comical job.
HOWL (2010). You either love it, or you hate it. I loved it. The animation was effectively both subdued and... well, animated. The juxtaposition of scenes and structuring of the entire movie was artistry in the very sense of the word. James Franco was not, even just for a minute onscreen, James Franco. It's not something I'd watch again, but one viewing left me with a satisfactory impression.
LOVE ACTUALLY (2003). Valentine's Day, only British, but with roughly the same amount of feel-good fun.