We watched our last movie this evening--The Hurt Locker. This movie has been the cause of quite a buzz--predictions of its director, Kathryn Bigelow, being the first woman to be named Best Director. The movie, also nominated for best picture, has a good chance to win. And Jeremy Renner has been nominated as best actor in the lead role of Sgt. William James.
The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds (misspelling intentional) are both war movies. The latter is Quentin Tarantino's magnum opus. He has worked on the script off and on since 1998, working and reworking the story.
The Hurt Locker is set in the very real war in Iraq, following a three man explosive ordnance disposal unit. At times, some of the situations seemed a bit of stretch--for example, the same men who disarms IEDs also are able snipers, then later go roving the countryside. But the war they are fighting is very real. Sgt. James is clearly hooked on adrenaline as he disarms bombs, facing down the prospect of death every time.
The versimilitude of the movie is stunning, with a music track that helpfully has a throbbing beat like a heart speeding up as the tension rises.
Inglourious Basterds, set during World War II, tells a completely fantastical tale of a unit (led by Aldo Raine played by Brad Pitt) of Jewish American soldiers who prey on Nazis, wiping out units save for one survivor who will tell the tale, thus instilling fear in the German soldiers. It also follows the career for an S.S. colonel Hans Landa (played with wonderful creepiness by Christoph Waltz) who specializes in hunting Jews.
While the tension in the movie is very real, the events depicted are not--nevertheless the tension is palpable. We see the persecution of the Jews through the eyes of young Shoshanna Dreyfus (played by Mélanie Laurent). She escapes from Colonel Landa only to encounter him later in her life.
There are too many twists and turns in this movie to try to tell you the story line of Inglourious Basterds--just see it for yourself.
Also see The Hurt Locker--even if you have to see it after the Academy Awards, when--if it wins as many awards as predicted--it will be showing everywhere.
OK--what are my PREFERENCES for the only categories we really care about? My picks in RED. Note, these are not predictions as to who will win (I have underlined these), and since we didn't see every movie, my voting is not fair. Hmmmmm--I think I have something in common with members of the Academy. (The whole list of nominees can be seen here.)
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Matt Damon, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Plummer, Stanley Tucci, Christoph Waltz
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Penélope Cruz, Vera Farmiga, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Anna Kendrick, Mo'Nique
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Colin Firth, Morgan Freeman, Jeremy Renner
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: Sandra Bullock, Helen Mirren, Carey Mulligan, Gabourey Sidibe, Meryl Streep
DIRECTOR: James Cameron--Avatar; Kathryn Bigelow--The Hurt Locker; Quentin Tarantino--Inglourious Basterds; Jason Reitman--Up in the Air; Lee Daniels--Precious
BEST PICTURE: Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air
Of all the movies that we saw in our mad rush to "get ready for Oscar," I enjoyed Crazy Heart, An Education and Up the most.
OK, now my brain and eyes can rest, and just enjoy the show tomorrow night.