Movie Ratings – Part IX

Posted: February 2, 2009 in tv & movies

For part 9 in my movie ratings series, I’ve gone against the grain a little.  I actually really like every movie I’m writing about today.  I almost always throw in a dud or two, just because it feels more balanced.  And, since I’ve not posted a movie rating since October, I’ve certainly seem some duds (which I’ll write about later).  But today, it just didn’t feel right. 

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  I’m starting to wonder…when Brad Pitt is 60, will he still look 30?  He has to be the most consistently younger-than-his-age looking man who’s ever lived.  Moving on.  This is certainly not the best movie I’ve ever seen.  But it’s certainly one of the most creative.  Anytime you can watch a 3 hour movie, and walk away not feeling like it was 3 hours, that’s a good thing.  My Rating:  If you have a curious case of Academy Award Nominated Movie-itis, then give this one a shot.

Wall E.  This rating is way overdue.  Wall E has already made it to DVD, but I’ve been fortunate enough to see it twice in the theater and once on DVD, and it continues to amaze.  I’m both shocked and angry that this movie didn’t get a Best Picture nominee…and I mean in the big boy category, not in the animated flicks.  The simple fact that you have sit with a 4 year old, and watch a 2 hour movie that has maybe 20 minutes of actual dialogue, and have that 4 year old be totally enthralled….well, that’s true movie magic.  My Rating:  Maybe the best movie of 2008, regardless of category.

Traitor.  I’m guessing this has not been a highly watched movie.  Don Cheadle is an amazing actor, but doesn’t seem to be a big draw when he’s the leading man.  He seems much more natural in great supporting roles (Ocean’s Eleven, Traffic, and Out of Sight come to mind).  But both in Hotel Rwanda and in Traitor, Cheadle proves he’s more than a supporting man.  Ultimately, Traitor makes you question your faith, your resolve, and your dedication to your beliefs and values.  It makes you ask yourself how far you would go for a cause you believe in.  My Rating:  You could pass this movie over in the Blockbuster aisle without even realizing it’s there…instead…stop, rent it, and watch it.

Michael Clayton.  It’s just a recipe for a good movie.  Great cast, intricate plot, twists and turns, moments of agonizing decision, gut checks, betrayal, you name it.  It was almost impossible for this movie to not be great.  Which it was.  George Clooney shines in a more contemporary role.  Tilda Swinton, one of the plainest looking people on the big screen, commands attention in every scene.  Tom Wilkinson is as great as always.  And the ending is superb.  My Rating:  Um, tough one here, huh?  See it!

V for Vendetta.  First…no, I didn’t just see V for Vendetta for the first time.  My friend Scott owns it.  I was at his home recently, and decided to borrow it, since I’d not seen it for a couple of years.  And, as before, it was so incredibly good that I wouldn’t help but to add it to my ratings list.  I think this may be the only movie ever that I could actually watch with my eyes closed, hearing only the dialogue, and still walk away loving it.  It’s clever, thoughtful, poetic, intriguing, enigmatic, powerful.  It’s main character wears a mask, yet you completely feel his emotions like they were written on his face.  A masterpiece.  My Rating:  It’s STILL not quite Braveheart, but this is a movie I’ll continue to watch for years to come.

  1. jeph says:

    I agree with all of those (except I’m not as strong on V). But, I must write a rant:

    You can’t have an animated movie get an Academy Award. You just can’t. If you wanted to, you could make a flawless movie with animation. Get Scorcese, Spielberg, and any number of amazing screen writers together and you can completely bypass real live acting. It’s much easier to put together a flawless “face” shot or emotional scene when you can erase it and do it differently. Acting is much more difficult than drawing. Animation imitates the real stuff. And because it often can be a spectacular carbon copy, it’s hard not to fall in love (name your disney movie or pixar or whatever here).

    That said, Wall-E was FANTASTIC. It truly might have been the best movie of the year. But the academy awards are for actors. Not artists who get to spend over 4 years (on average) per movie getting it right before it goes to public consumption. So, I can’t root for Wall-E getting a nod no matter how much I like it because, on principle, it belongs somewhere else. If not, Beauty and The Beast, Nemo, and Monsters Inc. all got robbed.

    Rant over! 🙂

  2. Michael says:

    Here is your BraveHeart film competition.
    “…and bewm goes the dynamite.”

  3. Jason says:

    Jeph – excellent point – I have a hard time counterarguing that.

    Michael – zombies-as-best-friend movies are truly a lost genre. People just don’t appreciate them anymore.

  4. Greg Adkins says:

    I would have to disagree with Jeph’s point. If we’re talking about acting then yes, I would say that Wall-E should not be nominated for best actor, nor should Eve be nominated for best actress… but we’re not just talking about acting, we’re talking about filmmaking.

    To say that WallE was somehow less of an artistic achievement because it was animated really isn’t fair because it goes way beyond acting. What made WallE (and most pixar movies) so amazing is first, the storytelling. Those movies all have outstanding screenplays… those are written by real people… just like live action movies. To somehow suggest that the art of an animator and the art of an actor aren’t really on the same level isn’t fair. Is music greater than dance? Writing novels greater than painting? It’s all art, just different kinds.

    I for one was pissed that Wall E wasn’t nominated for best picture… it most certainly deserved to be… it was without a doubt the best movie I saw this year.

    Of course for me, the Academy awards are a lot like the Heisman Trophy post Manning getting screwed… I don’t give them too much credit. They are like indie-rock snobs who stop liking a band as soon as it gets popular. There’s no way that The Dark Knight shouldn’t have been nominated for best picture. Go stop 10 people on the street and ask them the best movie of the year and I bet 7 of them would say The Dark Knight… heck, do that anywhere in the US and I bet that’s what they would say. And the academy didn’t even nominate it… I guess just because it was popular must mean that it’s not “artsy” enough to be best picture. That’s crap. Not taking anything away from the other nominees, most of which I haven’t seen (so I guess I don’t know what I’m talking about) but come on… does anyone think The Dark Knight shouldn’t be in the conversation of the year’s best movies?

  5. jeph says:

    Greg is wrong about the Oscars. Right about the Heisman (except for the last two years).

    Nuff said. 🙂

  6. Greg Adkins says:

    I’m wrong about the Dark Knight? No way.

  7. jeph says:

    Well, about the Dark Knight, I agree with you. But the other stuff was crap. 🙂

  8. Jason says:

    I’m torn between two great thinkers and two most viable arguments, and in an effort to make this comment sound like an exert from a Donald Miller book, I’ll just keep using commas instead of periods, my train of thought running to a neverending destination, and I can see the validity in both points, but a conclusionary decision seems necessary, so I must stick with my original gut reaction, and say that Wall E should have nominated for Best Picture.

  9. Greg Adkins says:

    Booya! It’s 2-1. Sorry Jeph… I get where you’re going but the idea that Scorcese will start using computer animated Leonardo Dicaprio in his movies if Wall E were to win best picture is a little far fetched.

    Pixar movies are every bit as deserving as any other film… in my mind perhaps even more so. The fact that the academy continues to overlook them because they are in the best animated category is a travesty. Last year I would have argued that Ratatouille deserved to be nominated. It was the best reviewed movie of the year… you couldn’t find a critic who didn’t absolutely love that movie.

  10. jeph says:

    yeah…but no. it would be a travesty if wall-e beat out dark knight, milk, slumdog, bbutton, or the reader.

    i just agree with the academy to reserve the two top honors for live action movies. if you give in to awarding an animated film with best picture, you’re telling me that one day, maybe 20 years from now, they won’t be pressured to awarding a fictional character with best actor? dude(s)…that’s down the road unless we simply say ‘nuh-uh’.

    again, wall-e was great. my daughter ate it up. which is amazing since there was no dialogue for a while. and i simply was taken by it. but the point is this: the academy of ACTORS should claim the top awards because live action is where the hard work is. you can’t take 4 years to make a live action like you do with an animated pic. an animated pic is so completely different from a live action pic (yes, similar in lots of ways, but mostly different), that i just can’t see the two competing.

    it’s like giving the ‘best drummer’ award to the guy from def leopard because his band had a couple big hits that year. or better yet, giving a painter competing with a singer/songwriter the award for most creative concept. it’s apples and oranges.

    it’s not about whether we like it or not, it’s about the nature of things. and i see all your points. and i’m tempted to agree. but i just can’t.

    besides…you dye your hair. well, one of you does. jason…i’m not sure if i can catch you on anything. wait, nevermind. you’re reading the twilight series. AND YOU LOVE IT. a friend (a singer in my praise band) gave me the first book to read and i started to…but simply could not keep going. it’s a 400 page goth version of dawson’s creek mixed with a little steel magnolias mixed with a douche commercial. so…got ya.

  11. Jason says:

    Ouch. Jeff, I gotta give it up, that was pretty harsh. Never before in my life, and hopefully never again, will anything I do be compared favorably to a douche commercial.

  12. Greg says:

    okay, that was hilarious. Jason got owned on his own blog.

  13. Michael says:


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