Those limited release movies always start to open everywhere else in January and February of the next year. So there’s always period of one or two weeks early in the year where I’m trying to cram in as many of these previously limited release films before the Oscars. While I still have a few left I’d like to see, I crammed last week full of 2009 movies.
The first one I saw was Tom Ford’s A Single Man. I knew going in that it was probably going to be a very stylish movie, and that it would probably make me want to watch Mad Men. The film was very stylish, but it was also an extremely emotional experience. The style actually lends itself to that. There’s a deep ache to the film and the story that is absolutely perfect for this despairing man. I am a HUGE Colin Firth fan. Not only do I think he’s a dreamboat, but I’ve also always thought that he’s a better actor than people give him credit for. In A Single Man, he proves it. It’s definitely the role of a lifetime. I imagine it can’t be easy for actors, once they start to get older, to start again, to take on a role that’s very much about getting older. First plays the role without any fear at all. It’s a brilliant performance.
The next night, my friends and I watched Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs OnDemand. It’s based on a children’s book that I adored growing up. My mother has problems with Hollywood adapting books like this and Where the Wild Things Are. She gets all pissed because she thinks that making a movie of it ruins a kid’s imagination. Whatever. This movie was awesome. It was easily one of the funniest movies from last year. I actually liked it more than Up (but not as much as Coraline). I love this trend in animated films, where the humor can work really well for the adults, too. This one was a bit of a surprise, and I highly recommend it. I can’t believe the Academy didn’t nominated it for Best Animated Feature. Shame on you, Academy.
The day after that, my friend and I went to see Crazy Heart. I was really excited to see it, but in the end I wasn’t blown away. Jeff Bridges’ performance is amazing, and I’m having a tough time choosing between him and Firth for Best Actor. While The Dude is still my favorite of his performances, this is neck and neck with Seabiscuit for my second favorite. Maggie Gyllenhaal is also incredible, and I’m so happy she was nominated for it. She’s been one of my favorite actresses since Secretary (which she totally deserved a nomination for) and this performance is perfect. Colin Farrell is also quite good, as is Robert Duvall. The performances are what make this movie. That’s the reason to see it, and they make the movie really good. But it’s slow moving and kind of dull in spots.
Finally, a week later, we saw The Messenger, another movie I was really looking forward to. And this one didn’t disappoint. In fact, I’d say it exceeded my expectations. It really is a heartwrenching movie, filmed with a bare honesty and acted to perfection. Woody Harrelson was nominated, and he was wonderful and completely deserves it. But I can’t believe Ben Foster isn’t receiving more attention for this film. His performance is phenomenal. Samantha Morton, who I always love, is also really great.