so as you know from reading yesterday’s 12 of 12, i saw ‘there will be blood’, the new paul thomas anderson (boogie nights, magnolia) film.  and today i saw ‘atonement’.  i love awards season!

‘there will be blood’ is a harrowing, dramatic film – with a capitol “f”.  and while daniel day-lewis is deservedly receiving his share of the praise for what can only be called on of the best performances of this (or any) year, my love of this film lies solely in the hands of paul dano playing the preacher eli sunday.  i saw dano years ago in a little indy called l.i.e. (short for long island expressway) and didn’t really think much of him.  then he popped up in last years darkly comic ‘little miss sunshine’ and, while i liked his sullen mute teenage performance, i still didn’t think much.  until now that is.  dano not only holds his own against day-lewis, but raises the bar so high, it’ll be interesting to see what he does next.

special note should be given to jonny greenwood who re-invents what movie music can be with his electrifying, atonal “wrong noted” score.  appearing in only 33 minutes of the film, the music (and silence) here becomes another character – one that advances (and holds back) the brutality of the film.  brilliant!

‘atonement’, of course is the romantic war epic based on ian mcewan’s novel of the same name.  i’ve not read it (historical romantic war epic’s seem to play better on the screen for me; see ‘the english patient’) – but i hear it was quite the bear of a read. 

the film is lush, harrowing (in a completely different way than ‘blood’) stunningly acted.  spanning the better part of the 20th century (1935 – current) and the great war, the film feels grand and intimate all at the same time.   of course there’s ton’s of oscar buzz here, and some of it justified – james mcavoy is simply impeccable in his portrayal of a lover falsely accused of rape while keira knightly gives the performance of her career here.   but the film belongs to saoirse ronan as the 13 year old accuser and vanessa redgrave (the adult version of accuser).  both performances are simply seamless and stunning. 

end of the day for me, the film was wonderful but forgettable.  i don’t know that this will stick with me long term, but it was certainly a wonderful film ‘in the moment’.  though you should see it for the performances.   it will remind you that past those pirate movies, keira can actually act, and ronan & mcavoy are faces to watch.

‘no country for old men’ is still my choice of best picture.