Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to actually see ANY of the movies up for "Best Picture" this year. This is no longer an unusual phenomenon for me, as the father of three small children. In fact, I only saw two movies this year ("Ratatouille" and "The Bourne Ultimatum") that warranted consideration by the Academy at all, and those were in lesser categories, such as sound and editing. The last time that I made a sincere effort to see the nominated films while they were still in the theater was probably 1989 when I was a freshman in college.
However, for the benefit of my loyal readers (and even disloyal ones), I will not let that deter me from reviewing these fine films, based exclusively on the title of the film and from photos or posters that I was able to cull from the internet. Keep in mind that I have NOT seen these movies, but I feel that these reviews are probably dead-on accurate:
"No Country for Old Men" – In this finely crafted epic dramedy, an unknown actor stars as a semi-depressed, out-of-work mechanic who is forced to wander the land with a compressor offering air for tires to unsuspecting travelers, much like those guys who want to clean your windshield for a few coins.
After experimenting with a rainbow afro wig, a mohawk, and a crew cut, he finds that his pageboy haircut helps him to garner the most tips from drivers. The title refers to the fact that he uses Grecian formula to maintain his youthful appearance. Also stars Gary Coleman as his hilarious sidekick.
The film ends with a raucous send-up of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World". Soundtrack by Elton John and Tim Rice.
"Juno" – Clearly, this is a family comedy with a sci-fi twist. As I recall from my extensive knowledge of astronomy, Juno is one of Jupiter's sixty-three moons, and the young girl pictured here with her parents (let's call her Sally) wants to be an astronaut. While everyone around her is condescending yet kind, the girl strongly wants to visit space, but is only able to do so in her dreams. This movie is a great combination of the best elements of "Curly Sue" and "Zathura". With Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman starring as Sally's youthful and cool parents, how can you go wrong? Soundtrack by Yanni.
"Atonement" – This film stars Keira Knightley along with a guy that I haven't heard of before. It is a boring period piece set in another country, and it likely involves lots of scenes of the countryside.
It drags on interminably until the third reel, when Rip Taylor makes a surprise appearance as Knightley's estranged father. This is the most poignant scene in the entire film, but it also leads to a series of plot twists and turns and a zany surprise ending. Soundtrack by the late Spike Jones.
"Michael Clayton" – Based on the tag line I saw on this poster, "Don't be at the Service of Others", this movie is clearly based on some of the agents and brokers that I have had the displeasure of working with over the years here in Austin.
Michael Clayton is actually an amalgam, rather than a specific person, but this film exposes real estate at its core.
Soundtrack by Willie Nelson and Britney Spears. Yes, really.
"There Will be Blood" – This film is a lighthearted sequel to 1992's "Far and Away" which starred Tom Cruise as a barefisted boxer. Daniel Day-Lewis portrays the aging pugilist with charm and grace. The story follows Day-Lewis as he trains and prepares for his final bout, this time with silent film star Buster Keaton. Inspiring? Oh, yes. In the photo here, you see the townspeople gathering to congratulate him on his knockout of Stephen Douglas a few minutes prior. Soundtrack by Bill Conti (who else?).
So, I hope you found this public service to be helpful. I look forward to reviewing each of the Grammy-nominated artists, although I haven't heard any of their music yet.