Okay. There's only a week left. Oscar mode is in full swing. I will undoubtedly make a Predictions list because it's just what I do. I want to start, however, by highlighting one of this year's Best Picture Nominees (my personal favorite, actually). It didn't do too well at the Golden Globes, but maybe the Academy knows better.
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
Right off the bat, this movie shines because it provides a perfect divide between the Precious' fantasy world and the sharp edge of reality, a theme repeated over and over throughout the bulk of the film. The opening sets the precedence for the excitement that occurs for the rest of the movie, and I loved how the opening colors and vibrant soft images of Precious' imagination immediately contrast with both the muted oranges of her home and sickly greens of her high school.
The use of color was not the only thing that stood out for me as an effective method of showing the distinct differences in Precious' personalities (her outward projected personality of being indifferent and her inward personality of caring deeply about herself and her children). I found the characters surrounding Precious to all be some sort of reflection of what she wants out life- Ms. Rain and her loving, homogenous relationship, Mrs. Weiss and her stable job, and of course Nurse John being a light skinned male (Precious asserts that she desires a light-skinned boyfriend). Each of Precious' encounters with her mother is contrasted with her encounters with the other people in the films until both worlds and personalities melt into a breakdown when Precious discovers she's HIV positive.
It goes without saying that Mo'Nique totally deserved her Golden Globe, and completely deserves an Oscar. The last scene with her in the welfare office gave me chills the first time I saw it. I also can't imagine tossing a baby (even if it is just a doll, which it had to be, I'm sure) onto a couch with no regard to its well being. I know a lot of people are referring to her performance as a gimmick, something the Academy has to vote for out of sympathy for the character (a sort of "vote for her if you have any heart at all" type of deal), but frankly I think that's bullshit. I think people didn't expect that performance out of a comedian and therefore gave her a lot of press because she was a comedian first. That being said, I think she deserves an Oscar even more because of that.
But I digress- I'm here to discuss the film itself, which is a gem among a year full of high budget blockbusters. The amount of realism in this movie astounded me despite its heavy, melodramatic content. I found myself totally engrossed in Precious' world and could imagine the entire plot as if it were happening in another part of the country at that moment, somewhere where I was not. I think that's the magic in this film- Precious is a character who is timeless, whose struggles with self worth and abuse could be happening to anyone, at any point in time. This movie exists within a small bubble of a serious issue, and for a couple hours you can enter that bubble, and come out of it a newly enlightened person.
My one criticism with this film is the ending scene. I fully appreciated Mo'Niques powerful end monologue, but I didn't understand the need for her to come to the welfare office. Precious had obviously been living on her own for a while, so the only explanation I can think of for that scene was that Mrs. Weiss wanted to act as a mediator for Precious and her mother and resolve their issues. If that's the case, I can't imagine why a welfare worker would want to do that, although maybe that's the point of implying that she and Precious became close with their sessions. The defining line of the movie, however, comes when Precious says, "You're nice and all, but you can't handle any of this."
Overall, I would give this 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. It's that good. Is it worthy of Best Picture? I certainly think so, although I could easily be happy with a lot of the others on the list of ten. We'll just have to see what happens.
The Movie Mistress