27 Days of Oscar: Day 10, progress and disappointment



Last night, after a pretty wonderful dinner with my soon to be (sigh) ex roommate, I made the decision to skip the screening/q&a of "Dirty Wars," knowing I could watch it on Netflix, and make it an early night.  It proved to be the absolute best decision I could make.

I can recall going back several years watching an Oscar nominated documentary about our wars in the middle east in the early hours of the morning.  A few years back it was "Restrepo."  Last year it was the remarkable "The Invisible War" and this year it was "Dirty Wars."

"Dirty Wars" tells the story of Jeremy Scahill, a investigative journalist initially trying to expose secret raids in the middle east.  The film is interesting because at times it is shot like a feature, for dramatic effect, and the cinematography is quite beautifully dark and somber.  The director, Rick Rawley films Scahill almost like the star of a thriller...without the action components...showing him on talk shows, interacting with congressmen.  It's borderline exciting.  Then suddenly we get to the death of Bin Laden and everything he has tried to expose is made public.  Briefly we have the opportunity for an interesting question...Is keeping these undercover raids secret truly bad thing...if the secrets lead to the deaths of the people who killed thousands on 9/11?  But it is never asked...instead the story shifts focus to the death of a 16 year old son of an al Qaeda leader, with close ups of children accompanied by very dramatic (and a bit manipulative) music. The film ended and I felt quite cheated. I was almost able to forgive the way Rawley portrayed Scahill, as this journalistic hero...but the final act was just too heavy handed.  It is rare that I'm this disappointed by a film nominated in this category...which led me to read some reviews on "DW."  There were a few people on my side, but it is quite acclaimed.  In my opinion the fact that "Dirty Wars" got nominated instead of "Blackfish" and "Stories We Tell" is a travesty...at least in Oscar proportions.

After finishing "Dirty Wars" I had intended to watch "The Lone Ranger" so I could delve into the Visual Effects category, but with low expectations I simply couldn't go down that route.  Not yet.  I decided to go back to the Animated Feature category.  I found "The Croods" almost unwatchable and as an uncle, a little insulting and entirely primitive (pun intended), but I really loved both "Frozen" (which I need to see again) and "Ernest and Celestine." Left to see was "The Wind Rises" (going to a screening at Disney Studios on Tuesday night!) and "Despicable Me: 2." I absolutely adored "Despicable Me" and had the pleasure of interviewing Pharrell who is back with a wonderful song "Happy," also nominated for an Oscar.  "Despicable Me: 2" is exactly what I expected.  Not quite as wonderful as the first film, but wonderful, witty fun with lots of laughs.


It's going to be a pretty busy weekend for me, but the Oscar watching doesn't end.  I need to go back to the Foreign Films so I can finish my piece on them by next week.  Which means another early morning tomorrow with either "The Hunt," "Broken Circle Breakdown" or "The Great Beauty."

Alas, progress!

The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
The Croods

Dirty Wars
Despicable Me 2
Cutie and the Boxer
The Square
The Wind Rises
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
The Great Beauty (Italy)
The Hunt (Denmark)

The Grandmaster
Prisoners
The Invisible Woman
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
The Book Thief
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger
Lone Survivor

Shorts:

CaveDigger
Facing Fear
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
Feral
Mr. Hublot
Possessions
Room on the Broom
Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)
Avant Que e Tour Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
Helium
Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
The Voorman Problem

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