The Best Movie Of Last Year Is One You've Never Heard Of (Unless You're French)
The Oscars are my favorite holiday; I love everything about them. I love the pomp and circumstance, I love the clothes, the civility, when the ingenue finds that “perfect” dress the press can’t stop talking about, the gracious winner’s speeches, watching people who have worked for years and years finally have their day in the sun. I love that.
I am generally pretty good about seeing all the films that are nominated. Some years, I really root for a particular movie; some years, I root for a performance. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I’m a sucker for magic, the supernatural and all things period piece. I just don’t enjoy movies where a) children are in peril (we don’t ever Need To Talk About Kevin) b) one last score is about to go wrong c) horror movies d) musicals (I have an irrational fear of them).
In saying that, I have to admit off the top that I have not, nor will I ever, see Les Mis. Any enticement Eddie Redmayne might have offered was cancelled out by Russell Crowe singing live.
I just saw Django Unchained. It was as you’d expect from Tarantino: violent and a little silly. Argo was pretty good, but I feel like Affleck caved to the studios to Raise The Stakes! in the end of the film, changing it from a quietly intense piece to a little bit Die Hard. The Silver Linings Playbook was really good. Jennifer Lawrence is so darn adorable and I pretty much love her in everything, even though I feel like she was a little young to be playing this part. I can just imagine every actress over 30 gritting their teeth as they watched the 22-year-old “grieving” for her dead husband. The Master was very, very long and intense. Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, Quartet had all the elements of the type of movie I love – England, Dumbledore, Maggie Smith and cranky old people – but the storytelling fell short. I enjoyed the slow(er) pace of Lincoln. Daniel Day Lewis is, as ever, a marvel.
But the true gem of last year was the sparkling, hilarious, tightly written, spot-on film, The Intouchables.
Never heard of this movie? Don’t worry, I hadn’t either. I only saw it because my father pretty much told me he’d never talk to me again unless I watched it. My first thought upon hearing of the premise was like, Oh, God, no. A quadriplegic hires an African ex-con to be his caretaker. IN FRENCH. As a rule I can’t stand French movies, mostly because they don’t ever really end. They just stop and you are supposed to guess what happens. Not so with this film. It has a proper beginning, middle and end and it made me belly laugh, it was so funny. Yes, a quadriplegic hires a black man right out of jail, but only because he doesn’t want to be pitied. He knows that this particular kind of man cannot feel sorry for him because regardless of his circumstances, all he can see is the disabled man’s money, which he has a lot of. The ex-convict in question, though basically homeless, doesn’t want the job, only the man’s signature so he can prove he did at least look for work and then go on welfare.
But, the bathroom in the caretaker’s quarters is so opulent and the money is so good that only a fool would turn down the offer. The ex-con is anything but a fool. What follows is a heartfelt, deeply satisfying film about two people who bring out the best in one another. It is funny without being silly. It is emotional without being overly sentimental. I loved this movie. And the best part? It’s based on a true story AND it’s the second highest grossing French film of all time. You might have a hard time finding this (there are a few places online) but I promise you won’t be disappointed when you do. Not convinced? Watch the trailer here.
I’m just doing a quick podcast this week at the Heatley Cliff, where I am talking about the next season of the show. But come on over.
Featured image from the Unation Blog’s review.