As we (thankfully!) come to the end of the summer movie season, we can now look forward to the last third of the year when almost all movies of any substance are released.
As usual, the first 8 months of the year produced some very slim pickings when it comes to quality movies that might make it onto the list of the ten films that will be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.
For me, the year’s only true standout (home run) film so far is The Tree of Life. Terrence Malick’s mind-blowingly original and poignantfilm is certainly going to be on my nominating ballot. The film is so majestically and subjectively emotional that seeing it feels more like a deeply personal and spiritual experience than it is the viewing of a film. One gets the sense that each one of us in the theater embarks on our own internal journey during the film and, as such, we experience the images on the screen in a completely individual manner. Contrary to some other reviews, while the style of the film is indeed groundbreaking and dazzling, there most definitely is a story at the core of The Tree of Life. In it, Brad Pitt plays the father of three young boys growing up in Waco, Texas in the 1950s. His relationship with his sons (and his wife, played with great humanity and compassion by Jessica Chastain) is one of extreme complexity, love, strict discipline, affection, reproach, fear, respect, and rebellion. Mr. Pitt’s performance in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button firmly established him as brilliant actor. Now, in The Tree of Life, Mr. Pitt has elevated his craft to a new league of brilliance as he gives one of the most nuanced, frightening, evocative, and haunting portrayals of a father in recent memory.
Oscar nominations for the film itself, Mr. Malick’s direction, Mr. Pitt, and several tech categories like editing and cinematography seem likely.
Other than The Tree of Life, I think there were 3 other notable films so far this year, none of which are certain even to be remembered at Oscar time but which I found to be solid “doubles”, to use baseball parlance.
Coming Wednesday: those 3 films.
What are your favorite films so far this year?