Call me crazy, but the Oscar race is upon us.
In my opinion, both of the summer’s best movies star a single, wildly talented actress: Emma Stone. Crazy, Stupid, Love is a film of such subversive and world-weary genius that it’s hard to get your brain around. Here Stone is direct, refreshing and every bit Ryan Gosling’s match. All you want is more of her, which you can have, if you see the summer’s other best movie.
Last night I went to a screening of The Help and was completely blown away. It opens Friday and here’s the thing: the trailers don’t do it justice. The movie’s poster doesn’t help either. But trust me – neither should sway you.
When I was finally able to pull myself together and dab my (copious) tears enough to get up out of my seat, I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. Now, to preface, I’m one of those moviegoers who thrives on a big, enthusiastic house when I go see a film. There’s an energy I love, and thus nothing’s better than watching a truly awesome movie surrounded by people who are realizing precisely the same thing. Which is exactly why “Press Screenings” are about the least fun way to see a movie, because they’re populated entirely by journalists. Journalists in screenings never smile, they never laugh, and they always need to be somewhere else which means they’re constantly rushing in late and climbing over you, and then they elbow you on their way out because they have to be in their cars ASAP. I’ve noticed that they sigh a lot too; evidently they get bored easily. Although I’ve also noticed that at certain screenings, where there is free food, they tend to sigh less. But that’s irrelevant, because the fact is last night, at this Press Screening, everyone was as done in by the movie as I was. It’s that good. And that well made.
Nor should we forget that The Help is a little film – this is not Cowboys & Aliens or Transformers or anything even approximating big-budget fare. Plus, it’s tricky subject matter; whenever you get into issues of race (or religion, or creed, or anything near and dear to people that’s potentially divisive) advertising can be a nightmare. Nor are there huge marquis-shouting names in the film. Several of them, I am pretty sure, will be by the time this thing comes out in theaters and people see what a stupendously-made little movie it really is. I can safely say, without a scintilla of doubt that Viola Davis ( already nominated for Doubt a few years back) will absolutely get an Oscar nod here. Octavia Spencer and Allison Janney are also tremendous, and Emma Stone is understated, intelligent and just fabulous. I suspect that the movie itself will also get some serious Best Picture buzz too. So you might want to catch it as soon as it opens because in about seven months’ time everyone else will be talking about it – guaranteed.
Based on the bestselling book, The Help is set in Mississippi in the early 1960s. It’s the story of several African-American women who work as maids in a number of well-to-do white Southern homes. Emma Stone’s character has grown up here, only she’s just returned from college and has opted to head in an entirely different direction than her Junior League debutante chums. She’s also hellbent to enlist the help of The Help, and tries to convince the maids to let her interview them for a book she is writing. She thinks readers need to hear about these ladies’ lives – to get their perspective. This is naturally dangerous stuff, since Mississippi in the 1960’s was a hotbed of racial tension. All I’ll say is that two of the maids decide that maybe they should tell their stories – and the rest is just a really stunning and powerful film that you won’t want to miss.
1) Conan The Barbarian
2) Dirty Dancing
3) Red Dawn
4) Total Recall