Sunday, February 27, 2005

I've gotta do this wrap quickly, because the Oscars start in half an hour (as of this writing).

Michael Radford's take on William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice isn't a great film, but it's very good. Lynn Collins gives a stunning breakthrough peformance as Portia (in a role that's not easy), but the real draw here is Al Pacino. He gives an utterly masterful performance as Shylock in what could have been either very scenery-chewing or very phoned-in. Pacino is neither, but is so nuanced, bringing out every drop of tragedy in Shakespeare's moneylender. Not only is this one of Pacino's finest performances - ever - it's the finest lead acting of 2004, hands down. Yeah, I said it: Pacino should have been nominated for Best Actor, and he should be winning tonight. A-

Maria Full of Grace isn't a great film, either, but it's also very good. Joshua Marston won the IFP award last night for best First Feature, and I'm not sure he didn't deserve it. Catalina Sandino Moreno is a very deserving nominee for Best Actress for her screen debut, a performance that's very subtle and incredibly moving. She plays a young and pregnant Colombian woman who, to make the money she can't at home, agrees to work as a drug mule to New York City, carrying 62 rubber pellets full of cocaine in her stomach on a transcontinental flight. It's a very moving film and a very intense one as well, and is out on DVD, so you've got no excuse not to see it. A-

And then there's the film which has become the front-runner for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor, and deserves a sum total of none of those awards: Million Dollar Baby. It's good, yes, but I'm not sure I'd call it very good - and it's certainly not excellent nor in any way the Best Picture of the year. Clint Eastwood is a good director capable of brilliance (Unforgiven, of course), but he doesn't reach it here. This is a very manipulative piece of emotional tearjerking which includes some very good performances, foremost among them Hilary Swank. She should be nominated, but she shouldn't win. Morgan Freeman gives us nothing in his performance we've not already seen, and Clint's Best Actor nom - especially considering Paul Giamatti was snubbed again - is a bit absurd. The script is very good, and I liked Clint's own score quite a bit. But this is not one for the ages. B

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?