Beckett’s Mother: Beckett, what is that?
Beckett: That’s a fern.
Beckett’s Mother: That’s right. This is a fern. What’s that?
Beckett: That’s a cactus.
Beckett’s Mother: That’s a cactus. That’s right, and what is the plural of cactus?
Beckett’s Mother: That’s right! What is that?
Beckett’s Mother: That’s right! That’s a baby. This lady is about to have a baby. Any day now.
Verona De Tessant: Or in three months. Thank you.
Beckett’s Mother: Beckett, tell the nice lady what you know about babies. Go on, tell the nice people. . .Beckett! You’re being rude.
Beckett: Babies like to breathe, and they’re good at hiding it. I put a pillow over a baby. I thought she wasn’t breathing, but she was. She was sneaky, but I’ll try again.
We often hear about an actor’s range and praise them for working in a variety of genres, etc. Rarely, however, do we hear the same praise for directors. Sam Mendes is one of those directors who never does the same thing twice. His debut film, 1999’s American Beauty was a slice of life family drama. It went on to win five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. His second film, 2002’s Road To Perdition was a period crime drama. In 2005 he made the dark comedy/war drama Jarhead. Three years later was the 2008 literary adaptation/period drama Revolutionary Road, which he followed up less than six months later with the indie dramedy Away We Go. Each of these films is so different from the other, but what they all have in common is Mendes’ strong direction, resulting in a plethora of amazing, complicated, compelling performances.
At this point we’re pretty much set with the performances that will get nominated for the Oscars. There might be one or two surprise nominees – think Michael Shannon for Revolutionary Road last year – but other than that the nominees aren’t going to be much of a surprise.
I’d like to take a moment to discuss five performances that have been all but over looked this awards season. These are all performances that I loved instantly and are all featured in films I will probably return to again and again.
Here’s my list of my Top 15 movies of the year. I really loved movies this year and there was just no way I could do just a Top Ten this year. Granted, I haven’t seen a lot of the “end of the year oscar buzz” movies, so perhaps after I get to see them later in the year this list would change, but as it stands now, this is my list.
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Up in the Air
(runners-up: The Hurt Locker; Inglourious Basterds)
Best Achievement in Directing
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
(runner-up: John Hillcoat, The Road)