03 February 2012

Midnight in Paris

There were many great movies snubbed by this year’s Academy Awards. I could go off on a rant for pages and pages. Instead, I thought I would rent Woody Allen’s four time nominated film, Midnight in Paris. It picked up nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Art Direction. Like many of Woody Allen’s films lately, Midnight in Paris has a cast as deep as any assembled by Soderbergh. This includes Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Adrien Brody, Alison Pill, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hiddleston and Kathy Bates.

Midnight in Paris follows Hollywood writer and wannabe novelist Gil (Wilson), as he accompanies his fiancée Ines (McAdams) and future in-laws on a trip to Paris. Gil is nostalgic about Paris in the 1920s, but Ines does not share his love. While at dinner, one of Ines’s old college friends shows up with his wife. Paul (Sheen) is a know-it-all, and is painfully obvious about it. Gil quickly finds ways to be at odds with Paul whenever he can. Equally as fast, he finds a way to avoid going dancing that night.

That evening, Gil stumbles upon a taxi that turns out to be a time machine (that couldn’t hit 88mph if was going downhill with a strong wind at its back). Gil winds up spending the evening with F. Scott Fitzgerald (Hiddleston) and his wife Zelda (Pill) at a party. Then, he finishes off the evening with a nightcap at a bar with Ernest Hemmingway (Corey Stoll). Once Gil leaves the bar, he reenters the here and now, and the bar returns to the Laundromat it is. Gil returns the next night and the next and he meets various other famous people from history, including Gertrude Stein (Bates), Salvador Dali (Brody) and Pablo Picasso.

Woody Allen’s writing is nominated for the fifteenth time and his directing receives a seventh nomination. What can I say? The Academy loves Woody Allen. Midnight in Paris is a fun, enchanting film. It is funny and entertaining. It is original in its screenplay, and is poised to take that trophy. The only competition in that category is Bridesmaids. If J.C. Chandor gets it for that horrific hunk of shit that was Margin Call, what little faith I have left in the Academy would be forever lost.

As a whole, I do not think that Midnight in Paris has a shot in the Best Picture race. I have a hard time believing that the best picture of the year would not have at least one of the sixteen acting nominations. I am not saying it has to win one, but Midnight in Paris did not even get nominated for one. The last Best Picture to win with no acting nominations was LOTR: The Return on the King. Ian McKellan got a token nod for the first of the trilogy, but that was the only acting one in the trilogy’s thirty nominations.

Even with such a deep and talented cast, only two actors gave standout performances. Midnight in Paris proved to me that Owen Wilson may actually not suck as an actor. He was quite enjoyable in this roll. If anyone was going to get a token nomination for this film it would be Corey Stoll. I wish that Stoll’s Hemmingway had more scenes. He was brilliant and hilarious. Kathy Bates was good, but nothing spectacular. Rachel McAdams was a loathsome character. That was a nice spin on her usual nice girl persona.

Midnight in Paris is well worth the $1.20 Redbox rental ($1.50 if you want the Blu-Ray). It is a well paced 95 minute film that will leave a smile on your face. Come Oscar night, it should win for one of its four nominations. It is the best Woody Allen film since Match Point back in 2005.

Rating: 8/10

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