I’m going to tell myself that it’s okay that I’m nearly four weeks late with my top movies list by saying this isn’t a top movies list, it’s an Oscar’s list. The Oscar’s are still relevant, unlike 2007, who was a dick of a year anyway. Let’s forget that asshole and move on to award season. Yay!
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE Jonny Greenwood – There Will Be Blood
This is not because of my Radiohead bias. Legitimately, the music made this movie the masterpiece that it is. Individual scenes were transformed from mere images into full-fledged stories. Each scene, with its particular piece of score, became it’s own movie within a movie. The sequence when the drill goes up in flames, with its rattling percussion slowing building, increasing with volume, nearly caused a blood vessel to burst in my brain. Greenwood’s score was the perfect fit for Daniel Plainview. It adds to his mystery. Nothing against Daniel Day-Lewis, as you’ll see in a bit, he’s fantastic, but without this music, his performance wouldn’t have been complete.
It was hard just to pick one song from this movie. Honestly, the whole soundtrack gets me a little weepy. If anything, this movie proves the power of song. They took a simple little story: boy meets girl, boy and girl sing songs together, find themselves again, and turned it into the heartswelling tale of the year. When Glen and Marketa first sit at the piano and connect over this song, the movie was golden from then on. The scenes in between the songs were just filler, really. Nothing against them, but they weren’t the point of the film. We were to see this relationship grow through the connection of song. And I will admit, I misted up on several occasions. No tears came out, though. You know, because I’m only partially dead inside. And, again, my bias and love for Glen Hansard and The Frames has nothing to do with this choice. For serious, these were the best songs in any movie this year.
She wins for one reason: I had no idea that this was the same person from Trainspotting and Girl in the Cafe. I couldn’t stinking believe it when I saw her name in the credits. She completely transformed herself for this movie. The accent was flawless, and she played the only innocent character in the whole film to perfection. You felt for her, wished her husband would return safely to her, even though you knew deep down that he wouldn’t. And her final scene with Javier Bardem completed the film, at least for me it did. It spoke volumes for both of their characters: she accepted her fate with grace, and he continued on his path as a soul-less monster. Without her, the movie may not have contained any compassion. She was necessary. Plus, it was nice to have flashbacks to her nude scene in Trainspotting. Thanks for the memories, Kelly. And, yes, I realize I could have gone with mammeries there, but I’m growing up, slowly.
Top 10, maybe even 5, All-Time Bad Guy. Hands down. From the moment in the above picture, you knew this was a guy not to be effed with. Despite his Little Boy Blue haircut, Bardem looked and sounded like the ultimate sociopath. If Javier the actor walked past me in the street, I think I would pass out, but only after peeing myself and finding God. I haven’t seen a performance like this since maybe Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. One of those times were an actor can never be viewed the same again. He will always be that character, and no matter what role he plays (He could be Jesus, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus all at once), you’ll still be strangely scared of him. You just dont know, maybe Jesooth Claus will shoot you in the forehead with a cattlegun. Be on your toes. But my point is this, Anton Chigurh is an incredible character, played to utter perfection by Javier Bardem. Call it, friend-o.
I’ve been saying this for years, but I really think that comedy is much more difficult to pull off than drama. No offense, sexy ladies out there, but it’s especially true for women. Year after year, how many truly memorable comedic performances by females are there? One, maybe two? Of course, only three or four men a year do something fantastic, but still, that ratio is pretty low. So I think when someone really nails a character, a funny, realistic character, they should be given their due. Juno was my favorite comedy this year, and only because of Ellen Page. She was picture perfect, hitting all the right spots with her one liners, creating a teenager that actually acts like a teenager. She was mature and childlike, all at the same time. Pretty much your standard 16 year old, except, you know, full of baby. I know the Best Actress winner most years goes to serious tales of woe and loss, but I just think it would be a mistake to look past her. Any old French girl could shave her eyebrows and sing like Edith Piaf, I’m telling you. Let’s go with Page in ’08.
Day-Lewis’ Daniel Plainview is a memorable character in a different way than Bardem’s Anton Chigurh. Simply put, Plainview is not simple. He’s tough to get a grasp on, unlike Chigurh, who appears to be nothing more than unstoppable evil. Plainview has moments of sheer lunacy, but then there are other times when he’s sweet natured, gentle, especially with his son. You want to cheer for him, until he shoots people in the head and says lines like “You’re nothing but a bastard in a basket.” This very easily could have been an absurd character, especially if it fell into the wrong hands. It could have been way over the top and unbelievable, like if it had been given to someone like John Travolta, or whoever else was in Wild Hogs. I read somewhere that the movie never would have been made if Day-Lewis hadn’t accepted the role. I think this is very fitting. From his peculiar accent, to the specific limp, his way of threatening others with a smile or a cold glare, all of it is pure Daniel Day-Lewis. Along with Paul Thomas Anderson’s words, he created something unique and puzzling. At first, I didn’t know what to think about him OR the movie, but that may have been their intent all along. Neither person really likes cookie cutter films, which leads us to……
I really wanted to give this to the Coen Brothers, because their film had a pacing and level of suspense that I hadn’t witnessed in a long time. From start to finish, their movie was pure gold. But I must admit that Anderson had more personal touches in his film. He wrote the screenplay himself, although it was adapted from a novel, but it was a loose adaptation. The two really have little in common. His strange characters are all his, and he gave more of his own macabre sense of humor here and there as well. The Coens’ adapation from Cormac McCarthy’s novel was much, much more entune with the book. Yes, the pacing and editing was all them, but still, it wasn’t that far off from the book, dialogue and all. Credit has to be given to Anderson for his epic vision. “Epic vision,” who am I, Larry King? I should be ashamed of myself. I hate hyperbole, almost more than slightly relaxed-bole. Anyway, just for the pure scope of the film, from top to bottom, PTA put together an odd masterpiece. You may love it, you may hate it, but that just means he succeeded.
I suppose over the course of these silly “awards,” I’ve already said all there is to say about how much I love this movie. We’ve covered the genius of Bardem, Kelly McDonald, and the Coen Brothers, but what we’ve left out is Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin. This was an ensemble piece, most definitely, but not just with actors. Combined with the cinematography, showing the absolute beauty of the landscapes, the actors were then given a place to bring everything to the table. Josh Brolin rarely said anything, but still conveyed so much. That’s something I never thought I’d say about the eldest Goonie. Tommy Lee Jones, well, he was Tommy Lee Jones, and that’s never a bad thing. He plays that role so well that it would be a shame to see him do anything else. You can feel the loss in his eyes at the end of the film, the fact that he’s been beaten down over the years by the awfulness of the world. I didn’t realize how big of a role he had in the film until that scene. I think the moment that I realized that I completely loved this movie was when the rest of the people in the theater went “What the fuck?” I love those moments. If you haven’t seen the film, you’ll know what I’m talking about when you do. It was a huge turn that nobody should have expected. It was then that you understood that the movie wasn’t about the chase, or the final outcome. Instead, it showed what drives people to do the awful things that they do. This wasn’t a good guy/bad guy film. Hell, I’m not sure there even was a good guy. There was no clear cut winner here, just realism, and I don’t think that’s what most people are looking for. Not that I’m better than you or anything. We’re all awesome, I’m just a different kind of awesome. Yay, we all win!