THE VERDICT – Best Motion Picture: 1988

At last! After almost three months of struggling with my blog and with my school works, here I am to present the verdict.

# 1 and # 2 were sure things, I had sudden change of feelings with #3 and # 4, and # 5 was a sure one.

You can just click on the titles for their profiles.

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5. Mississippi Burning

It’s a well-accomplished film with some fine performances and startling scenes that will surely overwhelm a viewer, but it suffers from its undertones that are obviously too political. It comes as a dated propaganda, but still fine, film.

Best Scene: KKK attack after a prayer meeting
Best Performance: Gene Hackman as Anderson

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4. The Accidental Tourist

It’s a heartwrenching story of grief and sorrow that is not for everyone’s taste. Its pace may keep viewers away from this film, but William Hurt’s internalized turn as the grieving father is a thing to be cherished. Maybe it’s too proper to be daring or to be something new, but it’s really good.

Best Scene: The final scene, waiting for a taxi cab
Best Performance: William Hurt as Macon Leary

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3. Rain Man

It’s a very simple story, but equipped with brilliant performances that are guaranteed to tug your hearts. It’s one of those cases there simplicity is beauty. The power of it lies on its honesty in the subject matter.

Best Scene: The kitchen fire scene
Best Performance: Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbitt

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2. Dangerous Liaisons

A fabulous, smart, and thrillingly executed game of lust and betrayal. With its topnotch acting from its cast, a smartly-handled direction, and a screenplay for the ages, this is an unmissable work of art a genius can only make.

Best Scene: The ending, wiping off the face of the manipulator
Best Performance: Glenn Close as Marquise de Merteuil

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1. Working Girl

Well, I just need to go against the wave of hate against this film: this is a beautifully crafted film that lives on a truthful but fun truth of the business trade. It’s not lightweight, it speaks of an intelligent but accessible side of the business, and it’s an inspiring take with everything going with it: skillful direction, wonderful cast, masterful screenplay, and brilliance.

Best Scene: Which one? I can’t choose! Maybe the opening credits, soaring with the spirit of hope in the tune of “Let The River Run”
Best Performance: Melanie Griffith as Tess McGill

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Except for the sudden change of my preference, changing the 3rd and the 4th, it’s what I really expected. Except for Mississippi Burning, I can say that it was quite a strong year.

I haven’t seen much that year, but here is my personal ballot:

The Accidental Tourist
Dangerous Liaisons
Married to the Mob
Rain Man
Working Girl

Rain Man had the biggest chances of winning, so no surprises, really. This is how I see what happened in the voting:

1. Rain Man (big winner)

(big margin)

2. Dangerous Liaisons (the missing Best Director nom is backstabbing)

3. Mississippi Burning (political films do well with Oscars)

4. Working Girl (the light part of the roster; could have attracted some fans)

5. The Accidental Tourist ( I think people then are just afraid to tell how bored they were with this film)

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What’s you pick? Do you agree with the Academy, or with me, or you have a different choice?

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Note: I am prepared for the next year since September, gosh! I need
to catch up.

Best Picture Profile: Rain Man

Directed by: Barry Levinson

Company: United Artists

Runtime: 133 minutes

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Charlie Babbitt, an on-the-go car dealer, is living in the fast lane. However, his father suddenly dies, leaving him to act to get his share of the inheritance. He wants to have it all. But what was left for him? An old classy car and a flower bed. Where’s the rest? It’s to be given to his brother Ray, who happens to be an autistic savant.

This annoys the hell out of him, since he thinks that Ray wouldn’t do anything with the riches since he is autistic. In his desperation to get his fair share, he kidnaps him and brings them in a crazy road trip where Charlie loses his girlfriend over a fight over Ray, among others.

In this crazy trip, he slowly builds up a relationship with him that he did not expect. Charlie started to care for Ray. It even comes to a point where he becomes selfless and cares for both of their sake. He forgets that he is kidnapping Ray, and he also uses him to play card games in Las Vegas since he knows it.

Ray had his first kiss, and he had his first dance with his brother Charlie. Now, Charlie could already get his part of inheritance, as the lawyer said, but he doesn’t care for it anymore. Charlie only wants the custody of Ray, but he couldn’t decide whether he would go back to his house or stay with his brother Charlie. In the end, Ray goes back to his home, and Charlie promises  to visit him soon.

I never expected that I would really like this since I remember feeling cold after watching this for the first time.

It carries such emotional resonance to everyone and to me especially because it’s a very simple story and yet, the whole relationship between Charlie and Ray is so well built-up that, in the end, you forget that Charlie kidnapped Ray. I can connect personally to it, but the important thing is it speaks the universal language of unexpected love.

Director Barry Levinson does quite a good job holding this movie together. It’s really close to being a TV movie, but he makes very slick moves to create such compelling results,  making it cinematic. The moves at a very well-decided pace that we don’t get bored and at the same time, we have enough time to establish the connection between us and Charlie and Ray. I

t’s really very simple, especially in the direction. But Levinson makes it sure that don’t get dragged around either by the pace or the sentimentality the story carries. I’m not sure it it was really anything revolutionary, but the direction really fits the movie.

As for me, there are a lot of well-directed scenes, building up the tension, humor, and drama. But for me, it’s the simple scene of Charlie and Ray going to the psychiatrist. It’s a normal scene, no music, not much I guess, just talking. And when the doctor is observing Ray, we have this reaction shot at Charlie, zooming in at his face. You may consider it a very small and unimportant shot, but it gives us the feeling that Charlie observes Ray in a level that hadn’t done before. He is getting close to Ray. He starts to understand him. The emotional connection between the two starts to tighten as Charlie is already willing to relate with Ray.

The screenplay also serves the movie with the best it can. It’s a really challenging work, I guess since it should be something people can relate, people think that it’s something different even though the film is very recent, it should give us a emotional look at autism and its effect to relationships without being over-sentimental, and most importantly, it should capture the setting of a cinema movie and not TV movie.

The line between cinema movie and TV movie is very hard to define when we have this kind of stories. And in some points of the movie, it did tend to almost cross over to the line, but it eventually catches up and gives us  real cinema. Anyway, let’s clear things: what is wrong with a TV movie? There are some really excellent TV movies? Well, they lack the emotional punch of cinema, and the production tends to be rushed, mediocre, and, well, forgettable. What made Rain Man cinema is that it was relaxed, very good, and memorable.

The screenplay lives up to the challenge of the story that is really quite hard to make because of the big chances that it could go wrong since it’s a dangerous story to tell. To have an autistic character as a lead character means extra care from the screenplay, and it could just result into two things: schmaltzy or effective. It was really effective; I don’t get the hate for the movie because it’s really accomplished.

The cinematography is efficient, the editing flawless, the sound accomplished, the costumes wonderful. The music is really good, since it evokes the feeling of the turbulent relationship between the two. Even though these technical parts really feel dated, it helps us to have such personal atmosphere that could be built by these technical parts.

Dustin Hoffman is indeed brilliant as Ray Babbitt. His performance is a really a dangerous one since it has a lot of tics in it that it is already calculated but it should not feel that it’s all overdone.I know that it’s a love-or-hate performance, but even if I don’t think he was really the best that year, he still gave us one of the most accomplished performances that year. The way he moves, the way he walks, the way he speaks can only be done by someone who really knows he craft of acting realistically. And the movie really benefited from Hoffman’s surprisingly affecting performance.

The deft characterization he applies throughout the length of the movie is a thing to remember from the movie. From the first moment he arrives to the farewell scene with Cruise in the train station, it’s an all the way gripping performance by Hoffman. His experience really helped him in making the character seem so real but seem so different. It’s an intelligent performance by Hoffman, and it’s a true showcase of a real actor’s range.

So, when you remember Rain Man, the first thing that pops into your mind is Dustin Hoffman, who happens to be a sort of co-lead, though he is really suited for a lead. People tend to forget Tom Cruise who injects such sensitivity and, at the same time, toughness as the real lead of the film.

He is the start of the film, and he is the end of the film. He’s a no-nonsense, business-minded, mature 80’s yuppie here, and I know that. There’s no false impression that he makes in the film because he really has the biggest character arc in the film, and much important character arc than Hoffman’s. Hoffman could have a showier and much more noticeable character as he was unusual, but Cruise serves as the sturdy foundation of the film.

He doesn’t have any showy scenes, maybe except for some scenes where he is really agitated with Ray, having some yells, but it’s a really subtle turn from Cruise. He’s playing an appealing character, he’s cool, and he has an autistic brother. If you’ll look at that, it may look like that he doesn’t do much acting, and he’s always on the background since the spotlight’s on Hoffman, but Cruise holds his own in his scenes.

The thing about his character is that he manipulates the proceedings, but his brother gets the attention. The thing with Cruise’s performance is that he was able to do a very tricky thing with Charlie Babbitt – he doesn’t let himself be overshadowed by Hoffman nor he overshadow Hoffman. He creates a team with him, and he makes equal impact with Hoffman.

In this part, I could say that I favor Cruise’s performance over Hoffman’s because he was able to build the backbone of the film without letting himself be overpowered. This year could have been his year. Maybe the studio was ust afraid to face the truth that the two leads of the film are just two of the best actors of the year, so they didn’t even push Cruise for campaign.

Both Cruise and Hoffman make a wonderful acting duo that was able to reach the zenith of the film’s success, and that is because of the incomparable charisma and chemistry they bring on screen. Both give great performances, but they are also brothers in the film.  And I believe it because they were able to show dimensions of the story that no other actor can do. I mean, there are some better actors, Cruise is no Brando, but Cruise brought something special in this film that no other actor can, same with Hoffman.

And that leads us to the best scene of the film. It’s when Ray was in the kitchen. And did some wrong things, leading to the oven having a fire. He doesn’t know what to do. The fire alarm started ringing, Charlie came down running, protecting Ray. He tries to calm Ray down, but he is still in panic attack. And amidst all of that, there is this deafening silence, with a quiet musical score slowly building the tension of the scene.

It’s fantastic. It achieved an unspeakable level of control. I mean it holds your breath, it takes you to the place, it feel like you’re in Ray’s mind. You don’t know what’s going on Ray’s mind. He’s in panic, shouting, but he is enveloped with this silence, this feeling of being trapped. And Charlie came. He tries to help him to ease his anxiety, but he doesn’t easily use it. It’s going to be my favorite scene from this movie.

But let’s look at this point: why am I praising the film mostly with its performances? Because the drive of the film are the performances. We don’t know where to lead. It’s all unpredictable, but we are able to trust with the performances. So I don’t mind the flaws. And when you focus on the performances, you know you’re not watching TV, you are watching cinema.

What we have here is a simple and direct, maybe slightly dated, film but in the hands of two great actors, we are able to have this glimpse in autism. The production may not fully impress you, because this film is not for all.

But it’s a film of subtlety and heart without the oversentimentality.

For this, the movie gets:

What are your thoughts, dear reader?

A Note Before I Start Posting Again

I am terribly terribly sorry for those who I am still keeping in reading the last profile of 1988, Rain Man. Terrible things stopped me from doing so: my former blog where my draft is saved was unexplainably deleted, my computer crashed and waited for almost a week, and totally busy with my school work.

Now, there is going to be a long weekend because of a break so hopefully, I can finish 1988 already and move on with the next year.

Again, I am totally sorry for the inconvenience of waiting.

Sincerely yours,

Malcolm Gunderson

2010 Oscars Predictions (10-18-10)

3/4 this year, there are already films which are being considered to be contenders for the Academy Awards. And we still have 2 more months, which, incidentally, is where most Oscar contenders crowd. So, here is the predictions for the main categories with heir status.

The color scheme:

Green – lock, totally secure

Pink– more or less, it’s safe

Red – has a chance, but still in the mix

Blue – longshot, but who could say? These shouldn’t be ignored!

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Note: I have seen none of these.

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Best Motion Picture

Pretty crowded year. We have films from wide variety of genres, from comedy to drama to sci-fi to suspense to action to epic to indie to mainstream films to films that I’m not yet sure if they’re still going to be released this year. So, here it is:

  1. The Social Network – It has the steam, the timing was right, could sustain the heat till the awards season, David Fincher’s time, very well-loved.
  2. Inception – If we’re saying Chris Nolan, we are talking about critically-acclaimed blockbuster films and this is no exception. The buzz is still there , and it’s a blockbuster flick that they could take seriously.
  3. The King’s Speech – It’s a costume drama, armored with Academy Award-nominated/winning actors, it’s epic, it’s the Weinsteins, so more or less, it’s a shoo-in. And the Toronto acclaim mean something.
  4. The Kids Are All Right – It may feel small, but it has a totally strong critical support, leads are totally respected, and waiting for their Oscars, and it’s with a sensitive issue.
  5. 127 Hours – It’s a one-man show, but the support is strong, and it has Danny Boyle, who incidentally, is someone they loved two years ago. Plus, true story.
  6. Toy Story 3 – Automatic slot for the animation branch in the best picture category. Pixar reign still continues. Total love for it. And the fact that they need to honor the whole trilogy!
  7. True Grit – I hated the original adaptation. But who couldn’t trust the Coen Bros? A Serious Man is something I didn’t like that much, but it’s very accomplished. Jeff Bridges + Coen Bros = OSCAR? Maybe.
  8. The Fighter – If memory serves, they could reminesce their love for Rocky and Million Dollar Baby and remember how much they value boxing movies (if not love them).
  9. Winter’s Bone – Could carry the indie flag this year. Jennifer Lawrence has positive traction, so is her movie. Critics love it, and it’s a sort of story that they have special attraction with, protecting the land story.
  10. The Way Back – Looks like an epic story. And it is epic. Actors there have good reputation, and Peter Weir, who incidentally is someone they loved before. But will the detractors affect the steam it has?
  11. Another Year – Costume drama. Actors have good reputation and Lesley Manville is showing well with her raves. It could carry the film to having Best Picture.
  12. Secretariat – Remember when they nominated Seabiscuit and The Blind Side? Now, if the Academy members remember that, then expect to see this as a BP nominee.
  13. Black Swan – It may come as too weird and polarizing to the members. But if the members would remember the fact that Aronofsky hadn’t been nominated yet and if they want to try something weird…..
  14. Rabbit Hole – Where is it? No release date yet, but it’s already exciting people. Maybe Kidman could gain the love she had with the media before with this. (Why do the media hate her, seriously?)
  15. Animal Kingdom – Strong critical support, but it’s from Australia (Hollywood only has a love affair with UK). But if they wouldn’t care the limited release and the foreign issue, who could say…..
  16. Made in Dagenham – The British representative this year, though not the only British movie here. It resembles An Education for me. It’s also the female-driven film in this list. It’s small, but quite nice.
  17. Love and Other Drugs – Maybe not an Oscary film, but the actors can give a fight, and it has some serious issues that might give the film the important feeling. Can Oscars accept a true rom-com in the field?
  18. The Town – It’s an action film which is a real no-no with the Academy, but with the strong critical reception, and the fact that Ben Affleck is someone they owe since 2007, could it go sneak in the race to 10?
  19. Get Low – It had it showing at the earlier part of the year, and it really had some raves. But it started to lose its steam halfway this year. Can it give itself a rebirth of the buzz?
  20. The Tourist – The most commercial film in this, except for Inception. It has two BIG stars (and I’m saying, BIG), but it’s action and probably too commercial for the Academy to notice it. But if it goes right…….

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Best Lead Actor

Pretty crowded category. But maybe not as crowded as last year. Anyway, let’s see. Here it is:

  1. James Franco (127 Hours) – He has the advantage of having a one-man show, and previous snubs, critical acclaim in career, and a film that does well. Could this be the perfect formula for Oscar?
  2. Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) – He is already in the age bracket where they mostly give the Oscar to. And has an anticipated movie. And remember that he was totally snubbed last year?
  3. Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) – He’s probably too young. But as the critical streak of the movie continues, he could develop a bigger following. And he himself is praised.
  4. Javier Bardem (Biutiful) – Sometimes, they would just want to nominate in this category from a foreign language film. And he has the Cannes for Best Actor. Sometimes, it helps. Sometimes, no.
  5. Jeff Bridges (True Grit) – Maybe he’s drunk again. Maybe, they’re going to love him again. But does it happen twice in a row? Only if you’re Tom Hanks. But if they think that once is not enough, then Oscar again.
  6. Robert Duvall (Get Low)
  7. Paul Giamatti (Barney’s Version)
  8. Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter)

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Best Lead Actress

I’m really glad that this year’s a lot more crowded than last year. Sad because Meryl’s not here, but anyway, all 8 could shuffle. Add Hilary Swank  (Conviction) and Diane Lane (Secretariat) as 9th and 10th contender, who could still sneak in the race even if the race is already stiff. Here it is:

  1. Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right) – It’s her time, and she’s in a strongly supported film.  But two leads? Oscars doesn’t know that since 1991. But if they’re going to choose one, it’s Bening.
  2. Lesley Manville (Another Year) – People are suggesting she’s borderline. But who cares? Her film and her performance are having the buzz. But remember, they might suddenly place her in the supporting.
  3. Natalie Portman (Black Swan) – The movie caused people to be divided, but her performance uniformally receives acclaim. And they loved her before. Remember 2004?
  4. Anne Hathaway (Love and Other Drugs) – She’s in a not so Oscary film, but she has one. You may not know why, but her performance could cause the steam, even if her film wouldn’t.
  5. Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole) – Grieving mother? Oscar is most likely its counterpart. And it’s time for Kidman to have something that she lost from the Hollywood for the past years – love.
  6. Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right) – Overdue for a win, strong film, but TWO LEADS. And people will most likely go with Bening if they’re going to choose one. But who knows?
  7. Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) – If her film will attract a lot of supporters, this would surely be in. Honestly, it’s the competition that could kick her out of the competition.
  8. Sally Hawkins (Made in Dagenham) – The notorious Happy-Go-Lucky snub still rings a bell, and maybe they will pay her with this. If her movie could gain such buzz, she could pull a Carey Mulligan this year.

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Best Supporting Actor

I have my personal bets already, even if I haven’t seen any of them. The Social Network guys could make a lock, if the film would maintain the steam. Just like Up in the Air last year. Here it is:

  1. Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech) – When was the last time they showed their love for Rush? With a co-lead status and a showy part, he is most likely to enter here.
  2. Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right) – If the producers will give the same importance they have on the campaign with the ladies to him, it might happen.
  3. Justin Timerlake (The Social Network) – From what I have heard, he has the showy part. Even then, what would the effect be if you’re a singer who can really act in an acclaimed movie? Most likely, an Oscar.
  4. Christian Bale (The Fighter) – Oh, it’s showy! They may consider the effort on the weight loss, and they have ignored him for quite some time.
  5. Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) – He seems to have a longer screentime than Timberlake but he’s younger. You know the trade. But will the Academy give him the award before he becomes Spiderman?
  6. Ed Harris (The Way Back)
  7. Josh Brolin (True Grit)
  8. Bill Murray (Get Low)

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Best Supporting Actress

Unlike last year, when we have automatic three locks, this year, it’s totally open. I won’t comment to each of the girls because I completely don’t have any idea. Here it is:

  1. Helena Bonham-Carter (The King’s Speech)
  2. Miranda Richardson (Made in Dagenham)
  3. Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)
  4. Amy Adams (The Fighter)
  5. Sissy Spacek (Get Low)
  6. Dianne Weist (Rabbit Hole)
  7. Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
  8. Barbara Hershey (Black Swan)

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I’ll update this from time to time. I’m just very excited!

From the author, Malcolm Gunderson

Hi, this is Malcolm Gunderson of The Final Oscar.

You see, this is the new THE FINAL OSCAR.

Why?

Because I just made a new blog because my account has been suspended for a reason that is totally unknown to me. So, this would be a mere continuation of the blog, it’s just so happened that this is a new blog.

1988 will continue, and the Best Picture Project will continue. I’m still going to review films in an another blog which I will make, but continuing the performance reviews is something I’m thinking twice because that’s the blog where I got suspended. Anyway, don’t worry.

For now, I’d try to work on Rain Man but I’d be busy this season with the upcoming awards season. So, we’ll be quite busy.

And I am not a poser in any way, I’m just going to continue the posts in the blog. I am MALCOLM GUNDERSON.

So, there you go.

Sorry for the inconvenience, guys.

Malcolm Gunderson