The Oscars receive a lot of fire for their lack of substantial film, poor presentation as an awards show, and biased Academy selections. I disagree 100%. I absolutely love the Oscars. They fire me up to see new films, enlighten my scope for Foreign Language films, and encourage me to formulate my own opinions. Every year, I try to see all the nominated films, familiarize myself with the nominated actors/resses, and make my own guesses. This year's lot contained some gems, which you MUST see. Take to heart my recommendations. Appreciate each film for the intended way. Watch the movie how the director created it, not how Hollywood has taught you to perceive good entertainment. There are few happy endings, few moral characters, and little English, but each was deserving in its nomination, and most, in their win.
VOLVER: MUST-SEE (Pedro Almodovar) Phenomenal. Emotional. Beautiful. Cruz comes across as I have never appreciated her before. The storyline is not a typical American one, but engulfs your soul into the a mother/daughter/family intimacy. I loved it. Most beautiful scene- Cruz (lip) sings a song her mother taught her, amidst a film-crew wrap-party painted with vibrant colors, elated spirits, and an overwhelming sense of emotion.
PAN'S LABYRINTH: PHENOMENAL (Guillermo del Toro) This was my favorite Oscar Nominee. I was pleasantly surprised by the plot, the characters, and the creativity that went into the characters. Pan's voice is hypnotic. The character's are inspiring. It is Alice in Wonderland for the grown-up. To spar the negative reviews: NO, this is not a children's movie. No one proclaimed it to be. There is death, dying, war, and torture. It IS in Spanish, so understand you'll be reading subtitles. But get over subtitles. Film in Spanish is the most beautiful way to hear a script. You may feel overwhelmed in the beginning, but five minutes in until the end, you'll have forgotten you were reading the lines flying through your head.
NOTES ON A SCANDAL: MUST-SEE (Richard Eyre) Cate Blanchett rocks this film. Once again, not a traditional American plot, so don't watch with a closed mind. Let yourself be touched by these characters, and you'll be blown away by their magnitude.
DEPARTED: MUST-SEE (Martin Scorsese) Forget they're using the "F-Bomb" so often, otherwise you'll miss this incredible Boston-mafiesque story. Pay attention as well. It's a tricky plot. But see it. Vera Farmiga is incredible. Leo surpasses expectations again, and Jack continues to please (although looks worse than ever).
HALF NELSON: MUST MUST-SEE(Ryan Fleck) Touching. This movie really touched my heart. I can't think of a less cheesy way to put it. All "Notebook" haters, do not discard Gosling's performance in this one. The story is about two people, of opposite backgrounds, learning to love themselves through loving each other. But platonic love. There is no pedophile story here. A young girl helps her teacher see he can do better, while he encourages the same for her. There are drugs.There is sex. But its depicted in a way to educate and illustrate the genuine struggles involved with life on the hard road. It breaks your heart; but in a realistic way, that makes you clutch your heart rather than wipe your tears.
HAPPY FEET: MUST-SEE (George Miller) This was the best animation film, (although MONSTER HOUSE and CARS were must-sees as well). A sweet story that enlightens children and adults of global issues. The environmental issues were just right in their intensity. And Mumble's voice is to cute to hate. The music provides laughter and chills, and the animation is often more realistic than cartoon. Don't forget Robin Williams makes an appearance and brings his famed humor to the screen,making this flick irresistible.