I caught two of the Oscar-winning movies this weekend, Happy Feet and The Departed. Happy Feet won Best Animated Feature, and of course The Departed won Best Picture.
Even though I hadn’t seen it at the time, I was mildly shocked that Happy Feet beat Cars, although I was totally underwhelmed with Cars. Like all Pixar movies, Cars looked great, but the middle hour of that movie should be marketed as a cure for insomnia. Happy Feet also looks great, and just packs a much more satisfying narrative punch. Sure, you have to endure Robin Williams, who voices not one but two characters, but overall Happy Feet was pretty darn good, I think. There’s a great 2001: A Space Odyssey moment, among other highlights.
I have no problem with The Departed winning Best Picture. The only other nominee I saw was Little Miss Sunshine, and although I really enjoyed that movie it just wasn’t good enough to overcome it playing against type for a Best Picture nominee. Very good, but not great. The main thing The Departed has going for it is incredible star power and a suspenseful plot that maintains forward momentum all the way to the very last scene, which I never saw coming but enjoyed a lot.
My only real criticism of the movie is with the music. Scorcese (or perhaps Howard Shore, who does the music) reaches back into the Classic Rock vault again to pull out nuggets like “Gimmie Shelter”. These types of choices usually work well, but it feels like Scorcese is rehashing some of the great moments from Goodfellas, just with different music. And I’m sorry, but the film pretty much takes place today, so music from today would seem to be a better choice. Sure, Nicholson’s character came of age back in the day, but the characters played by DiCaprio, Damon, and the unquantifiably sexy Vera Farmiga are all very much of today. Somebody needs to tell Scorcese that some music has been recorded after 1974.
But that’s a minor quibble; overall the film and director seem worthy of the honors bestowed upon them.
Similar to last year, I will reserve judgment overall until I see the other Best Picture nominees.