It may seem like blasphemy to some to say that there was a movie more deserving than Toy Story 3 to take home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, but I’ll hold to it that The Illusionist was that film. Based on an unfilmed script by comic master Jacques Tati (viewings of at least Mr. Hulot’s Holiday and his masterpiece Mon Oncle before seeing this (and just in general) are recommended), Sylvain Chomet’s marvelous, fanciful, and ultimately emotionally devastating tale of a stage magician trying to grasp the last remnants of success in a world that has begun to ignore him and his craft. After meeting a young girl who believes his illusions are real magic, the magician must provide for two. There’s no actual dialogue, only the hustle and bustle of colorful characters and backgrounds in long shots and takes. It’s a wonderful film. My review is here. Available on DVD/Blu-ray Combo.
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams elevate this story of marriage falling apart. Blue Valentine shows Dean and Cindy at their relative high and their lowest low with nothing in between. While co-writer/director Derek Cianfrance offers broad strokes of circumstance, Gosling and Williams create full-blooded characters with distinct histories. Intercutting back and forth between the ideal and reality, the screenplay is missing the progression between the two. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Believing that the romantic leads would be better off without each other is instant death for a romantic comedy, and such is the case with No Strings Attached. Adam (Ashton Kutcher) and Emma (Natalie Portman) decide to have a non-relationship based on sex that suspiciously resembles a regular, old relationship. He’s a bland, frat-boy type, except when he’s a hopeless romantic, and she’s got baggage of the obnoxious variety. A happy ending would be them finding someone else. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.