As the Oscar season and the prerequisite onslaught of Best Picture candidates fast approaches, I've found that 2005 could prove to be a particularly good one for the movie scene.
Last evening I saw A History of Violence, David Cronenberg's latest movie, starring Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello. I came away quite impressed with the film. Not only was it well acted - Mortensen was convincing as a quiet family man with a troubled past - but the direction was superb. Cronenberg is to be lauded for creating an interesting pace which features intense barrages of violence breaking up a taught, albeit gradual, exposition. Playing Tom Stall, Mortensen is the highlight of the film. His quiet demeanor and acting skills juxtapose nicely with the grim and foreboding showdowns, as well as with ominous gangster Carl Fogerty, played with eerie confidence by Ed Harris. With the exception of an awkward sex scene in the second half, not one sequence nor exchange of dialogue is wasted. Every harsh development and the drastic consquences they have on the small, rural Indiana family are treated in a concise manner which contributes to the overall effect of the story. A History of Violence is a good start to the Oscar season, and necessary viewing for those who enjoy criminal dramas with mysterious characters.
(4 stars out of 5)
Fresh off the satisfaction from taking in Violence, I am looking forward to the next possible great movie of the season, Capote, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. In what early buzz from festival screenings have as an Osacr-worthy and career-defining role for Hoffman, Capote is a period piece which delves into author Truman Capote's experiences in writing a non-fictional novel concerning the murders of well-known members of a Kansas family (with Catherine Keener playing his friend Harper Lee, the author of my favorite work of fiction, To Kill a Mockingbird). The official website can be found here; it does a very nice job of presenting the plot and approach to the material with nice graphics, media, and other accoutrements one might expect at a site backed by a huge movie studio. Hopefully the movie will live up to the word of mouth preceeding it.
Coming on the heels of The Constant Gardener and Violence, movies like Capote, if indeed Oscar-caliber, could signal a strong year culminating in the Awards season.