Talk about saving the best for last.
This is a phenomenal movie. I knew absolutely nothing about it before we went, and I'm so glad that was the case. Lyn had heard just a crumb of the premise, but wasn't sure if what she had heard was accurate. For both of us, the revelations were delicious! It reminded both of us of The English Patient, but with a much more intriguing (and interesting) storyline. And the brief but mesmerizing appearance by Vanessa Redgrave was the icing on the cake. Watching her face as she delivered a gut-wrenching monologue at the end of the film was worth the cost of the ticket.
Everything at every level was superior--cast, direction, cinematography, storyline, scope, performances. Everything. And the score! I've never heard a typewriter used as a musical instrument before, but it happens in the first five minutes of the film, and it was brilliant. My only complaint about the film would be some confusion regarding the war scenes. (Turns out it was the aftermath of the Battle of Dunkirk, but that wasn't set up for the audience at all. You'd have to be a real history buff to figure it out as the film rolled.)
The young actress Saoirse Ronan did a remarkable job as the jealous, "scorned" younger sister. She definitely deserved her nomination for best supporting actress. James McAvoy and Keira Knightly were equally brilliant, but their roles were more "ensemble" than "leading," so they didn't really qualify for anything--unfortunately.
So, after my Oscar Movie Weekend Marathon, here are my votes:
- Best Direction - Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood (would be Joe Wright for Atonement if he were nominated)
- Best Actor - Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
- Best Actress - Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age) - a guess! [Learned afterward that Elizabeth: The Golden Age was pretty much a stinker of a movie. Thus, my guess is pretty much a "wasted vote."]
- Best Supporting Actor - Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton) or Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) A toss-up
- Best Supporting Actress - hmmmm tough one... Tilda Swinton was awfully good in Michael Clayton; as I mentioned earlier, Saoirse Ronan was remarkable in Atonement. Again, a toss-up for me.
- Best Score: Dario Marianelli (Atonement)
- Best Screenplays: Christopher Hampton (Atonement - Adaptation); Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton - original)
- Cinematography: Seamus McGarvey (Atonement) or Robert Elswit (There Will Be Blood)
- BEST PICTURE: Atonement -- Definitely! Second choice would be There Will Be Blood
According to Entertainment Weekly's "handicapping," the odds are all over No Country For Old Men being the big winner this year. We'll just have to wait and see.