Movie Review ~ The Impossible

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The Facts:

Synopsis: An account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time.

Stars: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast

Director: J.A. Bayona

Rated: PG-13

Running Length: 114 minutes

Trailer Review: Here

TMMM Score: (6/10)

Review:   It took me a while, but about an hour into The Impossible I finally figured out what was bugging me so much about it.  Going in I had read various critics call out the film for telling the story of an affluent white family that are impacted 2004 tsunami in Thailand that had a final death toll close to 300,000.  Though the story is true, it is curious that the filmmakers focused on tourists staying at a deluxe coastal resort who seemingly only have to worry about if they will continue to live in Japan or go back to England after their Christmas holiday. 

I was prepared to have that gnaw at me and it did…a bit.  What frustrated me more than that was a conspicuous lack of any real minority presence that wasn’t reduced to a patronizing savior role introduced to help the in-need family be reunited and on the first plane back to Singapore.  In truth, the film appears so white-washed, I would have thought it was a Nancy Meyers directed film.  Seriously, go back and watch The Holiday, It’s Complicated, and Something’s Gotta Give and let me know if you see any minority character with a substantial speaking role.

These two drawbacks are unfortunate because The Impossible is not a bad film, per se.  It’s well made, buoyed by a gripping pace and committed performances that aide in creating some respectable moments.  Director Bayona was at the helm for the classy and creepy Spanish film The Orphanage and he brings the same emotional undercurrent to The ImpossibleThe Orphanage was billed as a horror thriller but what is really was was a suspense drama delivered with a firm grip.  Bayona doesn’t let The Impossible get away from him either, skillfully navigating a Reader’s Digest Drama in Real Life situation to a moving tale of survival against the odds.

Watts and McGregor may not have enough screen time together to create the kind of chemistry that would have given their struggles a little extra oomph, but luckily they share the screen with some talented kids that go through the wringer with them.  While Watts received an Oscar nomination for her work, it’s McGregor who should have received the praise.  Watts is solid, no doubt, but she’s absent for long stretches of the film…so much so that I forgot about her storyline several times.  Holland is their oldest boy and though the other two tots are uncommonly strong actors it’s Holland that steals the show out from under them all.  Geraldine Chaplin also shows up for a brief but powerful cameo that showcases screenwriter Sergio G. Sanchez’s way with words.

I find it hard to outright recommend The Impossible based on some of the hang-ups I had with it outlined above.  There are at least 300,000 ways the story could have been told and I’m sure sometime in the future maybe a film will be crafted that focuses on the people that called this place home and were left to pick up the pieces after the tsunami raged through.  As for the family at the center of The Impossible…I wonder if they ever did decide on England or Japan.

2013 Oscar Nominations – Predictions

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Forget Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are now officially in my favorite holiday season…Awards Season.  This Sunday are the Golden Globe Awards and you can click HERE for a full listing of nominees.   I enjoy the Golden Globes for what they are…the slightly tipsy foreign exchange student to the Oscars.  A few weeks later on January 27th the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards are given out and these are enjoyable because they are only given for performance categories and are voted on by the true peers of the nominees/winners.  That’s true somewhat for the Oscars but there’s something about the SAG Awards that make them feel like a valued win and not a popularity contest.  The day before the Oscars are the Spirit Awards given out to independent films from the past year.  If you’ve never watched these awards I highly encourage it…they are very much like the films they celebrate…independent and rough around the edges.

All of these are merely appetizers for the Academy Awards which will be given out on February 24, 2013.  Sure to be a lavish affair (even if they are being hosted by the mostly funny but ego-centric Seth McFarlane, Ted), I’ve yet to miss an Academy Awards telecast or the live announcement of the official nominees.

Before the nominations are announced at 7:38 am tomorrow morning, let me go out on a limb and give my predictions as to what is going to be up for major awards and who is going to wake up an Oscar nominee.

Best Picture

Ever since the field was changed from 5 nominees to a possible 10, this one is always hard to predict…so let me start with five nominees and then go up from there….

Lincoln
Zero Dark Thirty
Argo
Les
Misérables
Silver Linings Playbook

Life of Pi

Moonrise Kingdom

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Django Unchained

Amour

Close Calls – While The Master was a huge buzz film before it was released, its actual reception was so chilly I’m not sure it will earn a place on the list. 

If there’s any justice… Skyfall will be the first James Bond film to be nominated for Best Picture.  One of the best films of the year and most definitely the best Bond film ever produced, this was a full serving of entertainment with more to it than just cool cars and spy adventures.

Best Director

Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Ben Affleck, Argo
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Tom Hooper, Les Misérables

Close Calls – With The Life of Pi sitting just outside the top five Best Picture nominees, director Ang Lee may have a tough time locking down a nomination.

If there’s any justice… Actually, this list is pretty complete.

Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Denzel Washington, Flight
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

Close Calls – Again, The Master is popping up as a close call…but potential Best Actor nominee Joaquin Phoenix is such a puzzle in and of himself, he may have hurt his chances at a nomination by starring in an equally puzzling film.

If there’s any justice… Poor Richard Gere…he just can’t catch a break.  Though he could possibly unseat Jackman, his work in Arbitage probably will go un-nominated.

Best Actress

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Close Calls – Helen Mirren is also being mentioned in this category…and while she was wonderful in Hitchcock the film itself wasn’t well liked.  I think there are enough women who did great work in better films that should wind up with a nomination.

If there’s any justice… PLEASE let Quvenzhane Wallis be nominated!  If anyone should go from this list it’s Watts…I’ve heard her film is strong as is her performance but let’s have the youngest ever nominee (Wallis) up against the oldest ever nominee (Emmanuelle Riva, Amour)

Best Supporting Actor

Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Alan Arkin, Argo
Javier Bardem, Skyfall

Close Calls – Leonardo DiCaprio may miss the boat on this, his work in Django Unchained was better than his last five films but he’s in good company with his co-stars Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson…both of whom could wind up here.  Bardem might be the one to miss the mark if DiCaprio love fills the hearts of voters…but I wouldn’t count out Bardem’s recent surge of support.

If there’s any justice… Tom Cruise would get some love for putting it all out there in Rock of Ages.  Yes, the film was a total mess but his performance is still one of the most memorable (in a good way) for me at the end of the year.  It’s never going to happen but I had to go on record saying he deserves it.

Best Supporting Actress

Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Sally Field, Lincoln
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Amy Adams, The Master
Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Close Calls – I haven’t seen The Paperboy but boy is Nicole Kidman getting surprising recognition for her steamy work.  Though it came and went pretty fast, Kidman may just pop up here, replacing Adams or Smith.

If there’s any justice… the Supporting categories are always where Oscar tends to throw a few nice curveballs so here’s hoping that Brit Kelly Reilly scores her first nomination for her haunting work alongside Denzel Washington in Flight.  Director Robert Zemeckis could have cast any Hollywood female for the role but he made a killer choice by going with Reilly.