Film Commentary Archives - Page 2 of 64 - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
26Feb/160

Clenching the Nomination – Spotlight

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Andrew discusses the scene in Tom McCarthy's Spotlight that he thinks secured the film's Best Picture nomination. You can check out all of our overall guesses on the major Oscar categories for 2016 here.

Clenching SpotlightThe emotional peak of Tom McCarthy's movies don't involve a lot of dialogue.  In The Station Agent it comes from indistinct muttering and stares, The Visitor peaked with passionate drum music and no words, and Win Win's came from silent comfort offered in a locker room.  This remains true in Spotlight, where the full ethical and emotional weight of the reporting team's investigation into the Catholic Church comes bearing down on the reporters.

The pivotal moment of Spotlight comes in the middle of its run-time.  The Spotlight team is huddled around a speakerphone, listening intently to a psychotherapist provide input on their investigation on sexual assault committed by priests.  McCarthy makes an interesting choice here, beginning with the shot on a closeup of the phone, then dollying back slowly to show one team member after another crowded around the camera.

26Feb/160

Clenching the Nomination – The Martian

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Andrew discusses the scene in Ridley Scott's The Martian that he thinks secured the film's Best Picture nomination. You can check out all of our overall guesses on the major Oscar categories for 2016 here.

Clenching The MartianScience as a popular subject has been making a roaring comeback over the last few years.  We have a whole slew of new television and internet personalities who love talking about science as much as they love entertaining.  The notes of condescension the horrific New Atheist movement brought to international discourse have been largely discarded in favor of friendly scientists.  There's a note of optimism around science and new discoveries I haven't felt in a long time, and it gives me hope that we are progressing in the right direction as a country.

The success of Ridley Scott's The Martian is more a byproduct of our "Yay for science!" moment than fuel for it.  It boasts a compelling and mostly solo performance from Matt Damon, a lot of science chat delivered by a slew of excellent character actors, and varied direction from Scott to keep the one performer focus fresh.  The most popular line, by far, to emerge from The Martian's success is when Mark Watney (Damon) says that, in order to survive, "I'm going to have to science the shit out of this."

It's an amusing line but reads, and is performed, more like a zinger to an internet audience than a declaration of the power of science.  The moment where The Martian really clicked in with me is a moment of humility communicated in a briefer line.  Roughly thirty minutes into The Martian, Watney has created a small farm in his cramped living quarters.  The labor which went into creating the farm goes through a number of stylistic turns from Scott.  Watney is seen as a glitch from the tracking issues of the Mars base cameras, he's filmed in a time lapsed states while he works on the farm, and - in a shot straight out of Looney Tunes - emerges smoking and scarred from his attempt to light hydrogen to produce water.

25Feb/160

Clenching the Nomination – Mad Max: Fury Road

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Ryan discusses the scene in George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road that he thinks secured the film's Best Picture nomination. You can check out all of our overall guesses on the major Oscar categories for 2016 here.

Clenching Fury RoadI felt like cheating with Mad Max: Fury Road and stating that the WHOLE movie as a single piece is the reason it was nominated.  I still believe that is the truth because it is amazing that the film, directed by a man in his 70’s, can move like this and still make total sense. It is a feat that should be celebrated that a 2-hour car chase movie also has character development, a clear plot and it is an adrenaline rush but it does and it is.

That would make me job too easy and this piece way too short.  I also wanted to say anytime the guitar player Doof Warrior showed up as a reason Fury Road was nominated for Best Picture, but that would have been if I was voting.  In the end, I think the scene that seals it for this movie is right after the 2nd act turn when the main characters are at their lowest point and decide to race back to the citadel.

25Feb/160

Clenching the Nomination – Bridge of Spies

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Andrew discusses the scene in Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies that he thinks secured the film's Best Picture nomination. You can check out all of our overall guesses on the major Oscar categories for 2016 here.

Clenching Bridge of SpiesDespite some back and forth from some hardcore cineastes about the quality of Steven Spielberg's artistry, he's remained one of the most consistently pleasing storytellers in cinema.  But since he and George Lucas each had a hand in bringing the '70s American renaissance of film to a close, there have always been detractors to his work.  For me, no director whose filmography contains Munich, Minority Report, and Schindler's List can be "playing it safe" or solely aiming to please.  Spielberg's been modest in his success, perhaps tempered by the reaction the cineastes gave him in the late '70s and early '80s, and continues to put out great work.

That's what makes the modest success Bridge of Spies so appealing.  It's got another fun Tom Hanks performance, a bit of the sly Americana critique Spielberg frequently inserts into his films, and a compelling plot that spirals out nicely.  For all the international shenanigans at the core of Bridge of Spies, the movie's mostly about two men whose codes of value must weather the storm of their respective webs of deception.  The scene which best encapsulates these different threads occurs well into the surprising third act of Bridge of Spies, and quietly reminded the Oscar voters just how good Spielberg can be.

24Feb/160

Clenching the Nomination – The Revenant

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Ryan discusses the scene in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's The Revenant that he thinks secured the film's Best Picture nomination. You can check out all of our overall guesses on the major Oscar categories for 2016 here.

Clenching The RevenantYesterday, I talked about Brooklyn and how the ending had to work to make the whole film successful.  With The Revenant, I am taking the opposite approach, and the scene that sealed the Best Picture nomination was from the beginning. The first long uncut shot of the fur trappers being attacked by the Native American tribe really set the table for the film. It showed the harsh world these people live in, show the stakes of Hugh Glass’ life (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and screamed to everyone that it was going to be a hell of a movie to look at.

Now I am making this much harder for myself by picking this scene because the one everyone talks about is the bear attack scene.  It is the centerpiece of the movie, sets the story into motion, and is technical marvel where it's hard to see the where the CG is used.  Yet, the scene was just the payoff to the first moments in the movie.  By the time that bear attacks, we already know that the environment that the characters are in is not a place that any sane person would not want to be within miles of and this is set up in the beginning.