Sunday’s Oscar nominees reflect a solid year in film

On the slopes, locals are enjoying a bit more space on their favourite runs now that the holiday rush is over. And in the movie biz, folks have been gearing up for awards season. I haven’t had a chance to take advantage of either a quiet turn down Runaway Lane, or to view the entire list of great films nominated for Oscars and Golden Globes, but I have managed to see a few buzz worthy performances. And based on what I’ve seen, I can tell you that this is a solid year in film, indeed. This month’s Rave Reviews turns on to 50/50 and Midnight in Paris.

Seth Rogen isn’t one of my favourite actors. I know, I know. He’s a B.C. boy, and he likes to stay true to his roots by dropping references about 49th and Oak into his scripts. But he’s such a . . . dude. There’s no other way to describe it. So when I saw that he was supporting Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 50/50, I was a little disappointed. The film’s based on writer Will Reiser’s real life battle with cancer. Gordon-Levitt plays a fictional version of Reiser, and Rogen is his onscreen best friend, Kyle. I prepared to be underwhelmed, but the things that I normally can’t stand about Rogen were what made him so awkwardly charming in this role. Rogen and Gordon-Levitt have a fabulous dynamic as best friends facing a life-or-death fight. The understated back-and-forth between their characters is part of the reason the film is so believable. I was disappointed to see that Reiser didn’t get an Oscar nod for best original screenplay, but with or without award nominations, the film is still a sincere look at a real-life drama faced by individuals every day.

I also took a fantastic romp through 1920s Paris in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. The story follows author Gil (Owen Wilson) whose late night walks through the streets of Paris land him in the era of Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso. Gil can’t believe his luck, having found several of his cultural idols hobnobbing together all in one place (and time). His nostalgia for the era leads Gil to idealize his experiences, particularly his whirlwind romance with the stunning Adriana (Marion Cotillard). But when Adriana herself decides the “now” of the 1920s is boring and wishes to go back in time herself to the 1890s, the “Golden Age of Paris”, Gil recognizes his nostalgia for what it is. I enjoyed this film from beginning to end—its opening montage of the streets of Paris puts you in just the right mood for the rest of the film, and its romantic end leaves you charmed. Nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, Midnight in Paris will be one to watch for at this year’s awards.

Whether you watched the films that made it to the Oscar list as they came out, or saved them up for the season, I encourage you to take in a few of the great films nominated for Oscars this year.

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