Baseball Toaster Screen Jam
Grace Is the Word
2007-02-20 16:15
by Jon Weisman

At dinner the other day, I was telling a friend about a screening of a good movie I had just come from, called Amazing Grace. His response was, "If it's good, why is it coming out now?"

The question was completely valid. Oscar season focuses on movies that come out at the end of the year, and anything that comes out before early fall carries a potential stigma of not being among the best. That doesn't mean a good studio campaign can't make up the difference – see "Crash" or "Little Miss Sunshine" in recent history – but certainly many of us have been conditioned not to expect anything masterful in February.

While it probably won't contend for Best Picture honors, Amazing Grace is good, and its February 23 release has more to do with marking the 200th anniversary of a central plot point in its story, Britain's abolition of the slave trade, than any quality qualms. (Here's a Variety review that essentially dovetails with my feelings about the film.) That being said, it certainly would be nice if there could be more spreading of the film wealth throughout the year, rather than overwhelming us in the winter.

Fine performances are turned in by a cast including Ioan Gruffudd, Benedict Cumberbatch (what a great name), Michael Gambon and Albert Finney, who plays the repentant slave ship captain who penned the words of the renowned spiritual from which the movie takes its name.

2007-02-20 17:24:39
1.   Sospiro0
off topic but I'm responding to Bob in the last thread.

I am very, very, very pro-Vera Farmiga. She was the best part of the Departed.

2007-02-20 18:27:48
2.   Bob Timmermann
This movie sounds interesting. Sounds very Laemmle Theater bound.

Responding to a question from the last thread also, "Mutiny on the Bounty" won Best Picture in 1935 and nothing else. It's the only film to have done that.

2007-02-20 21:18:16
3.   jtrichey
Similarly, I just saw Breach, which is quite a quality movie. I don't think it will or should be Oscar worthy next year, but I do hope the Academy remembers Chris Cooper for best actor. He was fantastic as usual.
2007-02-20 22:16:13
4.   underdog
Any film that has both Albert Finney and Michael "The Singing Detective" Gambon in it already has me in the theater. It's true, February is often a dumping ground for crap (and look at some of the movies that have hit #1 at the box office the past few weeks to bear that out, sadly), but high quality movies do sneak in now and then - and sometimes good word of mouth keeps them in the eye for awhile. Anyway, definitely want to see this one.

Re: Breach - good movie, agree Cooper was fantastic. Now if only the same person who cast him had realized casting Ryan Philippe was a mistake and found someone better for that role (or if the script had focused more on Cooper), we'd be set.

2007-02-21 12:55:25
5.   Benaiah
Amazing Grace looks like the exactly type of movie I don't want to see. An ultimately redeming period piece that makes everyone feel good about something that is far too complicated to be explained in a 2 hour movie. But I haven't seen it, so what do I know.

P.S. I didn't think Last King of Scotland was all that great. A good performance, but a middling movie.

2007-02-21 16:37:02
6.   El Lay Dave
From the last thread 27, about Dreamgirls and Best Song nominations. I believe the category is for Best Original Song, thus the songs that were in the original musical play are not eligible. That is why it's not uncommon for a movie musical to write a new song that wasn't in the original production.
2007-02-21 16:37:32
7.   El Lay Dave
Oops, that should be 27, not a 27 with a useless link.
2007-02-21 16:46:50
8.   El Lay Dave
Jon Weisman hast promised good to me, his word my hope secures. I'll put Amazing Grace on the "consider seeing" list.
2007-02-21 17:20:18
9.   Greg Brock
Ioan Gruffudd giving a good performance would be quite spectacular. He's been pretty wooden in everthing I've seen of him.

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