LOVE, and we've looked at the films nominated for Best Picture about AMERICAN HISTORY. So, we guess it's time to look at the straggler films, the films that don't really fall into any category. We were thinking of calling them ‘Magical Realist’ films, because most of them employ magical elements within a realistic framework. One has pig-monsters as big as a house, the other has a house for two that's no bigger than a boat, and a third has truly terrible singing from Russell Crowe. The third is probably the most magical, because, as someone once said, nothing is more magical than singing! (Just because that person was Hitler doesn't mean that it isn't true)
Story: We've already reviewed this film, so let's make this quick. Some guy (Hugh Jackman) steals some bread, and then some stupid guy (Russell Crowe) tries to find him for like twenty years because of a misplaced sense of justice. Then, the French Revolution happens, and almost everyone dies. Some people fall in love, but it rarely works out. Helena Bonham Carter shows everyone up.
Pros: Anne Hathaway is really good as Fantine, but she's (Spoiler Alert) dead after like twenty minutes. Then, the whole film falls apart. Also, Jackman is really good, and dude can pull a boat like a boss. Also, live singing was an interesting experiment.
Cons: There's a lot to like, but it's the faults that really stand out. Crowe is really bad at singing, and his efforts to be good at singing make him bad at acting. While Hugh Jackman is really good, and carries the film well, sometimes his vascular face is more frightening than endearing. Also, on the director front, Tom Hooper has made a film that feels both overdone and too simple. There's nothing grand or large about it, but all of the emotions are overplayed. It's an infuriating mix - set sail for mediocrity!
When looking at these three films, what stands out (more than the magic and the boats) is the fact that they live or die based on the strength of solo performances. In Beasts, Wallis excels at carrying a whole movie. In Life of Pi, the lead actor isn't great at selling large moments and isn't given time to rest in the smaller moments. In Les Mis, Fantine carries a film to her death and then Jackman has to pick up the slack, which he does admirably enough but not too successfully. So, thems the breaks.