Oscar Vault Monday – Midnight in Paris, 2011 (dir. Woody Allen)
I’ve written a lot about Woody Allen over the last few years and I’m sure I’ll be writing about him for many more years to come. He doesn’t always hit the mark, but when he does, he hits it better than just about anyone. Case in point: 2011’s smash hit Midnight In Paris. It may well be in my top five favorite of Woody Allen’s many films. Part of this has to do with my love of Paris in twenties (and the fact that pretty much everything mentioned in the film was something I studied in college) and partly because of the experience I had when I first saw it. I had just moved back to San Francisco (like, literally THAT DAY) and I went to see it with my roommate and one of my good friends (who was visiting from Florida!) and it had been raining and the showtime we wanted to go to was sold out so we had to wait an hour in the lobby and it was the most perfect experience I could have asked for. There’s a lot of things to write about with this film, but I’ve decided just to focus on a few facets of it that I really love. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning one: Best Art Direction, Best Original Screenplay (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture in 2011 were: The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse and winner The Artist.
Oscar Vault Monday – Milk, 2008 (dir. Gus Van Sant)
I don’t even know where to begin with this movie. I have so many feelings about it. And there is so much to say. There’s the actual history on which it is based. There’s the amazing ensemble cast, including Sean Penn’s Oscar-winning turn. There’s Dustin Lance Black’s amazing script, which also won an Oscar. But then there’s this anger I get when I watch it because I think about the fall of 2008. This film was released on November 26th, a few weeks after the 2008 election, which in California included the passage of Prop 8. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the film had been released earlier. Would it have had an impact? I just wish the studio had thought to try. When it did get released it played at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco for quite a while. That is where I first saw it (I’d just moved earlier in 2008 from Berkeley to San Francisco) and I’ve got to say it just made the whole election all the more bittersweet. Upon several revisits to this film I think this is the superior film from 2008 and it should have gone home with the big prize. But I can see why it didn’t. It’s a film about a very polarizing issue and Slumdog Millionaire was (marketed as) a feel-good film. In the long run I think Milk will be the film people will return to time and again. Milk was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning two: Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best Score, Best Original Screenplay (won), Best Supporting Actor Josh Brolin, Best Actor Sean Penn (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, The Reader and winner Slumdog Millionaire.