2009 Oscar Preview

Although many foresaw this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Picture, not everybody has seen these films. Inferno gives you a quick breakdown of the nominees.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Adapted from the 1920’s story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a romantic drama that tells the life story of a man who ages backwards.

Brad Pitt plays the role of Benjamin Button, who is born in New Orleans in 1918 as a man with the physical limitations of an 85 year old.

The film, which is told in flashbacks by an elder Daisy (Cate Blanchett) on her deathbed, centers around the unusual relationship of Benjamin and Daisy whose lives repeatedly cross paths whilst aging in different directions. The film, which at points feels very similar to Forrest Gump (also written by Eric Roth), is visually stunning, but ends up being rather predictable and uninteresting.

While grabbing the most Oscar nominations this year, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button seems to have stripped the short story of most of its magic and left audiences wondering what could’ve been.
2.5 / 4 stars

Director Ron Howard brings to the screen a historical drama depicting the battle between former President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) and David Frost (Martin Sheen), a popular British television satirist. Based on the stageplay, the film focuses on the period following Nixon’s resignation when he agrees to have four 90-minute interviews conducted by David Frost.

Frost takes a huge financial risk by agreeing to pay $600,000 for the interviews, in hopes of getting some huge admission from Nixon regarding the Watergate scandal, which at the time still remained somewhat of a mystery to the American people.

Whereas, the Nixon administration saw this as an easy way to make a solid last impression and enforce his positive accomplishments while in office. These conflicting motives and excellent acting make for a captivating and engaging battle of wits.
3 / 4 stars.

Milk is the remarkable biographical film of Harvey Milk, who in 1977 became the first openly gay man to be voted into office in America.

Sean Penn makes an extraordinary performance as Harvey Milk, who after turning 40 years old, moves to San Francisco with his partner Scott Smith (James Franco) after deciding he needs more purpose in his life.

He ends up becoming a human rights activist and an outspoken advocate of change, dealing mostly with the gay rights movement.

Milk eventually becomes an elected official who attempts to work with another elected supervisor, Dan White (Josh Brolin) to further his political agenda, which in turn ends up conflicting with his own.

The fantastic cast involved, specifically Sean Penn, makes Milk one of the must-see movies of the year.
3.5 / 4 stars

The Reader
Based on the novel, The Reader is a drama, which tells the story of German lawyer Michael Berg, who has an affair with an older woman, named Hanna Schmitz, (Kate Winslet), while a teenager in late 1950s Germany.

Much of their relationship centers around making love and literature, specifically Michael reading novels to Hanna. Suddenly, Hanna disappears and Michael finds himself at law school nearly a decade later.

He ends up crossing paths with her again, when she is suddenly on trial for her crimes as an S.S guard in Aushwitz.

Michael becomes torn, when he realizes he has a piece of information about her that can potentially save her, that however, she deliberately does not reveal.

The Reader is a very complex and interesting film, but ends up falling flat and can be dull at points.

Kate Winslet makes an incredible performance chronicling nearly four decades in Hanna Schmitz’s life.
2.5 / 4 stars

Slumdog Millionaire
One of the most popular and talked about movies of the year, Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of an Indian “slumdog” named Jamal Malik who has landed a spot on the hit television series “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” Jamal ends up doing so well on the show, that the producers alert the police and have him interrogated in suspicion of cheating.

While the interrogation is taking place, the powerful story of Jamal’s life is told by flashbacks, going through how he knew every answer on the show, which in turn end up being chapters of his life.

The flashbacks show his childhood in the intense slums of Mumbai and chronicle his entire life up to the present.

But as the story progresses, audience soon discover why Jamal, a teenager with no desire for riches, is on the show in the first place.

A near perfect job done by director Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire will almost certainly be taking home this year’s Oscar for best picture.
3.5 / 4 stars.