Best achievement in movies I did or didn't care about
I wasn't a great moviegoer in 2007, and I have yet to catch up with many of the Oscar-nominated films.
In fact, I've seen only six. And, frankly, the two "biggest" left me feeling a little chilly.
Few very well-made movies have made less of a lasting impression on me than No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood.
I don't demand a happy ending, but I do like, y'know, character arcs and just a little more understanding of the human condition along with my popcorn. Rich cinematography, bravura acting, and the muted-if-epic presence of directors whose work I've absolutely loved before don't, for me, make up for a deficit of storytelling and meaning.
More gainfully chilly was Charles Ferguson's No End in Sight, which bypassed the usual gating question of whether the U.S. invasion of Iraq was justified, and focused on how very not well the occupation was handled. Whereas Michael Moore's movies incite through entertainment, irony, and well-placed moments of poignancy, No End plants you in the cancer ward that is Bush and Rumsfeld's war. Slow-burn, sad, and true. Yet there is a character arc: the painful realization of smart, well-meaning, senior bureaucrats that the fuck-up is simply bigger than they are.
Speaking of being stuck in a ward, there is Julian Schnabel's captivating The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. The journey is somehow both existential and deeply passionate.
Possibly my favorite film of the year was Once, where an Irish busker and a Czech emigré make, as they say, beautiful music together. A gritty-yet-buoyant indie, international musical without (dare I say it?) a false note.
Yet, one movie towers above the rest, and that is Sicko by, of course, the aforementioned Mr. Moore.
As a corrective to the hubris it generally takes to make movies, most filmmakers come to realize sooner or later that their work isn't really going to change the world. This movie just may have, as a well-timed, well-placed defibrillator on the topic of Universal Healthcare for America.
I look forward to catching up with Juno, Michael Clayton, Gone Baby Gone, and others, in hopes that there are still Hollywood (or indie-Hollywood) fictional feature films that move me. Anyone seen those or others worth a look?