I said to myself that I needed to get over this dislike I have for the Oscars in general since Pan's Labyrinth got jipped. I had to get over it, let it go. Move on. So I decided to start watching some of the contenders this year. This week I needed to play a bit of catch up and I saw both True Grit & The King's Speech.
So... some reviews...
Movie: True Grit (Coen Bros)
Staring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin & Hailee Steinfeld
Thoughts: I loved it. I'm a fan of the Coen Brothers in general, loved No Country for Old Men and this one I liked better. I'm a Westerns lover as a whole, so this was right up my alley. The direction was phenomenal, the actors were on par, the script was great, cinematography etc. Excellent. I think this one is going to take the Oscar for Best Direction and Hailee Steinfeld totally has a chance of winning Best Supporting Actress, she definitely steals the film from right under these seasoned actors.
Jeff Bridges was perfection, as always, as Rooster - an old cowboy with a speech impediment (quite honestly I didn't understand half of what he was saying) and a sour outlook on life. His chemistry with Hailee was right on, he plays the classic grumpy man that is bothered by the inquisitive teen and thus changes his life in a heroic manner. He definitely gave The Duke a run for his money as Rooster. However, despite his awesome portrayal I do not believe Jeff will take home the Oscar for Best Actor. I think that is going to go in the direction of Colin Firth as I will explain later.
Matt Damon was awesome. I know a lot of people (critics) felt he was out of place but to me he was right in there. He was meant to stand out, he was meant to be awkward and he did just that. Matt plays a Texas Ranger who is all talk and little action until the end. He's got a thing for young teen girls and still manages to be endearing and a hero at the end. I loved everything about his portrayal from the lisp he's got to develop halfway through the film to his relationship with Mattie (can we say odd sexual tension?) to his animosity with Rooster and his overall opposite of the Rooster character. I cheered in the end and wished we saw more of him in the end.
Josh Brolin was perfect as this larger than life outlaw who when you finally meet him he's a dim-witted fellow.
Another one worth a mention was Barry Pepper as Lucky Ned was such a pleasant and welcomed surprise. Everything from his makeup to his little time on screen he really was the only one who Hailee couldn't steal the scene from.
And finally Hailee Steinfeld basically owns this film as an inquisitive, smart-mouthed teen who bites off more than she can chew. She's both precious, annoying, awe-inspiring and kick-ass in this her first film. I was supremely impressed by her talent that actresses twice her age wish they had. She keeps getting described in the film as ugly and plain but the truth is that as the film progresses you find her more and more impressive until she becomes this unexpected heroine. I adored her and really cant wait to see more of her. She knows how to play off the chemistry of the actors and outshine them. Have to give her credit for it.
Overall, the acting was awesome and if you remotely enjoy some historical westerns you will most likely love this film. Like I said, I see it taking the Oscar for Direction and Hailee will give Helena a run for her money as Best Supporting Actress.
Movie: The King's Speech
Staring: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter & Geoffrey Rush
Thoughts: This film is in most likelihood will take the Oscar for Best Film, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor/Actress. It's a great film but to me the best part is Colin Firth, Rush and believe it or not Timothy Spall (Harry Potter's Peper Pettigrew) as Winston Churchill. The entire cast was great but those are my favorite and let me point out that Helena was also fantastic as Queen Elizabeth, spot on.
Colin Firth plays King George VI 'Bertie', a man who had a horrible stutter which embarrassed his family to no end. He grew up with no friends, an isolated life and always thinking little of himself despite his position in life while his older brother (King Edward/Guy Pearce), the rightful King grew up handsome, famous, popular with the ladies and the people while Bertie grew up in the shadows and that horrible stutter. He's lucky enough to have Elizabeth who is extremely supportive and completely believes in his capability as a leader. Firth's portrayal of a lonely and reserved man who has never had any interaction with common folk is precious and you really want to put him in your pocket. He's completely devoted to his older brother and never wishes the throne upon himself. I think he just wanted a quiet life with his wife and daughters and be left alone yet when the time comes for it he steps up and fulfills his duty despite his own physical incapability. In comes Geoffrey Rush.
Rush plays a self-taught man who helps with speech impediments by going to the root of the problem; the psychosis. Through talking with the Prince he realizes that Bertie's problem really is psychological rather than physical and working through this and other hilarious methods he makes a King out of the man.
The saddest scene to me was when Bertie finally confesses about his childhood and how his nanny used to pinch him before he would be introduced daily to his parents so that his parents wouldn't want to interact with him and preferred Edward over him. My heart completely broke because he's singing and yet it's such a sad and lonely story about the most powerful man in the world. I also about died when he breaks down crying after his father dies and Elizabeth goes to him in the study and tells him that she knew he was going to be a good King and that she fell in love with his stutter. The scenes with Bertie and his daughters were also precious and I loved them.
Churchill was awesome despite only having like 4 scenes, I wanted to put him in my pocket and squeeze him.
The other scene that made me and my roommate melt into a puddle of happy goo was when Bertie meets Myrtle, the wife of the therapist... now for us fundamentalists we knew exactly what this meant. It was as if Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy had a sudden reunion. Jennifer Ehle has such a small role and it's such a small scene and one sentence that they say to one another but I still died. It's known that Jennifer and Colin had a relationship while filming Pride & Prejudice so this made it even more spectacular. =D
In the end, expect this film to win a lot more than people will give it credit for, it was a really great film.
Overall.. I enjoyed True Grit better. Mostly because it's more adventure and those are the types of films I'm attracted to. But see them both, you wont regret it :)