Near Dark. #41 on my Facebook Fave Fifty list. Review is there. 9/10.
The Red Balloon. A short (34 minutes) that picked up an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (beating out La Strada, among others). There is something appealing about a film that wins a “non-short subject” Oscar while running about 1/3 the length of Booty Call (I wonder if this is the first time those two movies have been mentioned in the same review). The Red Balloon works on more than one level … kids can enjoy the fantasy of a boy and his pet balloon, while more symbol-minded critics can note the Christian parallels. (And I can compare The Red Balloon to Booty Call.) It’s a charming film with unexpected toughness that is defeated in favor of a happy ending. #471 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the Top 1000 films of all time. 8/10.
The Rapture. #40 on my Facebook list. 10/10.
The King’s Speech. I had expectations coming into this one: that I wouldn’t love it, but that it wouldn’t suck. And that turned out to be accurate, although in the end, I liked it more than I expected. It’s one of those movies seemingly designed to win Oscars … tony production about British royalty, focused on a hero with a disability. It delivers (it won 4 Oscars), and that’s the expected. But Colin Firth does wonders with his part, making me believe his prince/duke/king was a real person, and getting across his despair over stuttering without being overbearing in an Oscar-winning way. Which is to say he deserved the Oscar he eventually won. #162 on the TSPDT list of the top 250 films of the 21st century. 7/10.
Juno. I’m using this in the class I’m teaching this semester, so I gave it a second look, and liked it just as much this time around. Diablo Cody doesn’t surprise me anymore, since she isn’t coming out of nowhere like she was when the film was released. We’ve had the chance to see/hear Cody’s idea of cool teenagerdom on United States of Tara, and if her writing annoys you, there’s no way you’ll like Juno. But Cody does something interesting here. She loads up the first part of the movie with so many Codyisms it will make even a fan like me think “silencio.” But that style of witticism gradually grows into a deeper character study, where almost every character is treated with respect, and by the end, it’s clear Cody deserved her Oscar. Ellen Page’s work is Oscar-worthy as well, although her competition was too tough to beat (Marion Cotillard won for La Vie en Rose). And J.K. Simmons offers his usual excellence in a supporting role, although no matter how many times he does it, I can never get his Schillinger from Oz out of my head. 8/10.