Now, before all you readers out there scoff at me and wonder how someone can call themselves an entertainment editor if they haven’t seen the Departed, which by the way is a very rude thing to do, I HAVE seen the Departed. My goal while writing these Best Picture posts is not to watch all of the Best Picture winners I haven’t seen but to watch and review every Best Picture winner. That means I am re-watching the ones that I have already seen and I am glad I decided to do so. I forgot what an outstanding movie The Departed is until I watched it again, remembering why it earned director Martin Scorsese his first Best Director win.
Another film with a fairly complex plot that can be stripped down and explain at its most basic in a paragraph. Ultimately the story revolves around two men, both going undercover and eventually tasked to find one another. The film takes place in Boston crime scene which is run by the Irish-American mobster Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). The film opens with Costello enlisting the help of a young boy, obviously meaning to take the boy under his wing. The film then jumps into the future showing the boy, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), graduating from the Police Academy. Graduating opposite Sullivan is Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), a young man who grew up in a world of crime and has decided to try and change his fate. Sullivan eventually gets accepted into the Special Investigations Unit, where he acts as a mole for Frank Costello. Quickly flagged by Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Staff Sergeant Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) as a man comfortable around crime, they enlist Costigan to infiltrate Costello’s operation as an undercover agent. As both Costigan and Sullivan delve deeper and deeper into their own fake identities, they are each giving opposite tasks. First Sullivan is just to be Costello’s eyes and ears in the police force and Costigan is tasked to try and bring down Costello’s operation from the inside. As both make mistakes and suspicions arise, Costigan is eventually asked to find the rat in the police force while Sullivan is ordered to find the rat in Costello’s gang. The two end up having to hunt each other.
While watching this film, I found it absolutely impossible to pick a best performance. Each time I had decided on an actor, another stepped on screen to change my mind. No matter how big or small the role, everybody came ready to prove their brilliance. Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin fit in perfectly as the head of the local undercover unit and head of an FBI task force respectively. Wahlberg played alongside Sheen, a ruthless asshole helping run Costigan’s undercover mission. Vera Farmiga stars as one of the only main, female characters in the film, playing the psychiatrist Madolyn. While Sullivan meets Madolyn one day in the elevator and the two start a long relationship together, Costigan is assigned to talk to Madolyn as a part of his fake firing so he could go undercover. The two eventually form an oddly inappropriate relationship that leads to Madoyln remaining in both the main character’s lives.
The three main characters of the film command the screen with the skill expected of such veteran actors. Nicholson embodies the rough and tough gangster, giving the man an almost bipolar personality. Controlling a gang of rough and tough mobsters, played by an intimitading crew of actors, Costello can be happy one moment and the next be brutally torturing a member of his crew. Damon and DiCaprio mirror each other perfectly through the film, playing two spies doing the same task for different sides. While Costigan begins in chaos, fighting through it to get a foothold in Costello’s gang, Damen seems to be perfectly in control in the film’s start. Costigan harnesses the increasing chaos around him to allow him to survive his time undercover while Damen’s loses his calm composure and lets his job and life spiral wildly out of control.
The Departed didn’t just win the 2006 Oscar for Best Motion Picture, it also delivered Scorsese his first win for Best Director. Already nominated for Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York and the Aviator, Scorsese finally beat out his competition and earned the well-deserved win. The Departed had to battle a number of different great films for title of best picture. Beating out Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine and the Queen, I can honestly say that the Departed deserved the win in 2006. With amazing performances and a soundtrack to die for, I give this Best Picture Winner a 10 out 10 and, if you can stomach a fair amount of brutal violence, would recommend it to any movie lover.
Alright, I have officially mulled over the nominees long enough to finally make my Oscar predictions. I am far from fulfilling my goal of posting about every nomination and for that I apologize but I have seen the majority of the nominees. The following post looks at each of what I call the Big 6 categories at the Oscars. Within each category I am going to list the movie or role that I think will win and the movie or role that I think should win. The “will win” choices will be based off my research (how the public and critics have reacted to the film) and past award winners (what won this year’s SAG, Golden Globe, ect.). The “should win” choices are the movies and roles that I would vote for to win. Critics and the public may not agree with me but my “should win” picks are what I believe to be the best in that category this year.
Best Supporting Actress
- Will Win: Octavia Spencer in the Help. A brilliant performance in the Help earned her an Oscar nomination as well as a Golden Globe in the same category. If you’ve read the book, Minnie is a fairly iconic character but Spencer does a great job bringing her to life.
- Should Win: Jessica Chastain in the Help. Octavia Spencer gave a truly outstanding performance in this film but I believe that Jessica Chastain’s performance was even better. I do believe that Octavia Spencer deserves all of the praise and acknowledgement that she is receiving but Chastain deserves the award. Not to be cynical or rude but the only reason I don’t think she will win it because, as one of my good friends so eloquently put it, they are not going to give the award to the white girl from the Help over the black girl from the Help. Though I hope Chastain gets the award, I would be very happy if either of them won.
Best Supporting Actor
- Will Win: Christopher Plummer in the Beginners. Not only was his performance great but the public and the critics seem to favor Mr. Plummer this year.
- Should Win: Christopher Plummer in the Beginners. As much as I would like to cast my vote for Jonah Hill, his performance was not quite Oscar winning. He deserved the nomination but no the win. I really believe that, given the nominees, Plummer has the strongest, most Oscar worthy performance.
- Will Win: Jean Dujardin in the Artist. Words, or lack thereof, cannot hold this man back. Bringing to life a character trapped in a world with no words, Dujardin has managed to charm audiences and critics alike.
- Should Win: Jean Dujardin in the Artist. This is the final category that the “should win” and the “will win” choices match up. Dujardin gives an outstanding performance that beyond a doubt deserves to win him the 2012 Best Actor Oscar.
- Will Win: Meryl Streep in the Iron Lady. Judging by reviews and critics, Meryl Street will be the year’s Best Actress.
- Should Win: Rooney Mara in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. My mind is boogled, BOOGLES, that Rooney Mara has not swept the awards this season. I was absolutely awestruck by Mara’s portrayal of the dark, damaged Lisbeth Salander. There is no doubt in my mind that she deserves the Oscar win this year.
- Will Win: Martin Scorsese for Hugo. Marty (man I wish I was on a first name basis with Scorsese) has proven his directorial skills time and time again. This time, he captures the audiences heart by bring the novel Hugo Cabret to life.
- Should Win: Michel Hazanavicius for the Artist. Hazanavicius used every tool at his disposal brilliantly to creature the Artist. I do not think Hazanavicius should win because he chose to direct a silent film; in fact that choice could have easily been his downfall. I think Hazanavicius should win because he directed a truly amazing film. He not only used every tool at his disposal but he managed to make the lack of sound a positive aspect of the film rather than allowing it to become a cheap gimmick.
- Will Win: The Descendants. With the collection of performances, reviews and support this film has received, I think (much to my dismay) it may edge out the Artist for Best Picture.
- Should Win: The Artist. I mean no disrespect to the Descendants, it is an outstanding film, I just think the Artist is better. In my review of the Artist, I called it a dense film and I meant that as the highest compliment. There is not a wasted aspect of the film, everything words towards building the story and the characters. The film was enthralling from beginning to end and has Best Picture written all over it.
There you have it, what I think is going to win and what I think should win. I hope that most of my “will win” picks are incorrect and that I am much more accurate with my “should win” choices. Let me know what you think of my choices and tune in this Sunday to see if I was right.