A Slice of Fried Gold

More movie stuff? Come on now!

Monday, December 22, 2008

God, this movie business has got to go. Lately it's been Oscar this, Oscar that. What is this? I used to talk about things that weren't purely movies. Hell, from time to time, I'd actually talk about things that involve me besides what I happen to be watching at the time.

I can't help it though, I totally get sucked into Oscar season, and with everything ramping up, it's impossible for me to not jump headfirst in, ingesting each movie and pondering my feelings towards it. With that said, I've said a number of times already that it's been a disappointing season, with contenders like Australia and Milk both disappointing me. It was beginning to look like 2008 was not going to be a great year, and that Wall E, the Dark Knight, and In Bruges were not going to have any buddies in the "great movies from 2008" club.

Well that was shot down by Slumdog Millionaire, the new masterwork from Danny Boyle.

Now, tonight we have Frost/Nixon, a film (you could almost describe it as a study/dramatic retelling that is incredibly play like, which is unsurprising given it's origin as a play) that delves into the unlikely interview that took place between British talk show host David Frost and the as of then recently resigned President Richard Nixon. While the structure itself seems as if it would lay credence to the film being technically sharp with a bore at its core (my bad for rhyming), I'm happy to say that I was riveted the whole way through.

There are a number of reasons why, but you have to start with Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost. I have to admit, after watching Sheen portray Frost, I immediately want to search out other roles he's done. He's remarkably charming, incredibly smooth, and a damn fine actor. The fact that Langella is getting all of the accolades is a shame.

Except it isn't, because his performance really is a tour de force. He manages to make his Nixon believable, forgiveable, despicable, and pitiable all at once. The man he portrays is like a wounded tiger, casually unfurling in a lurch, prepared to jump all over the clearly overmatched Frost at one point, then pulling back and seeming to be wounded and really just looking for some help. His character is an absolute enigma, sort of like the actual Nixon.

Ron Howard really proves himself as an actors' director in this, getting bravura performances from the primary duo, and supurb performances as well from Kevin Bacon and the holy trinity of Sam Rockwell, Oliver Platt (hysterical as always), and Matthew MacFadyen as Frost's investigative team. His direction is assured, well structured, and reliant upon the gripping script that Peter Morgan culled from his critically ravished play. As it should have been.

While I love Wall E and Slumdog Millionaire far more (as those are movies that led with their hearts more than anything), I know with my head that Frost/Nixon is a lock for an Oscar nomination, and I really feel it has to be the front runner for Best Picture at this point. All signs point to it, and frankly, I don't see anything wrong with it. It's a stunner for sure.

I'm starting to think 2008 wasn't such a bad year for movies after all.


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