This man’s going to win an Oscar, I’m calling it.
As far as the race for best picture goes, 2007 is becoming one of the most exciting years in recent memory, with maybe 15 films in strong contention. Over the last two days I’ve watched several major Oscar contenders including No Country For Old Men, Into the Wild, and American Gangster, all of which are currently in theatres.
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen; starring Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem):
The new film from the Coen brothers is simply amazing. Though their last few films have been slight misfires (Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty), No Country For Old Men is easily one of the Coen’s best alongside Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Blood Simple, and Raising Arizona, which essentially means that this is their best film of the last 10 years, at least. It’s incredibly tense, beautifully shot, genuinely terrifying, wildly unpredictable, and features some pitch-perfect acting (Javier Bardem will be nominated for this, no contest). The Coen’s have struck gold.
AMERICAN GANGSTER (Directed by Ridley Scott; starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe):
What frustrates me the most about American Gangster is that Denzel Washington is playing the EXACT same character he’s played so many times before, especially in Training Day. Yes, he plays it well, but it’s time for something new. That statement could also be applied to the film as a whole. American Gangster takes no risks and ultimately feels like just another gangster flick, even if it is better than most.
With The Departed winning last year, I doubt this has a chance at many nominations.
INTO THE WILD (Written and directed by Sean Penn; starring Emile Hirsh):
Being somewhat of a nature freak, I’m a bit biased here, but I loved Into the Wild. It has its moments of pure cheese, such as when main character Chris McCandless/Alex Supertramp stands atop a mountain, arms outstretched (a la “I’m the king of the World!”), with the camera circling him over and over, faster and faster just as in great works like Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open” video. However, other than those rare scenes, Into the Wild is pretty damn good.
Sean Penn has always gone for the most intensley moving work he can find, and this is quite the heart-wrenching story he’d love. Emile Hirsh, who plays Chris, does a great job with making the many moments of silent forest-wandering exciting and memorable. Penn also formats the movie so the solidarity is balanced well with the dialogue and the interactions with the many unique characters Chris comes across.