Friday, February 3, 2012

Archive Report: Oscar Edition. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)
Director: Stephen Daldry
Writers: Eric Roth (Screenplay); Jonathan Safran Foer (Novel)
Starring: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max Von Sydow, Jeffrey Wright, Viola Davis, John Goodman
Rating: PG-13
My rating: 5 (out of 5) stars

Hello readers! It's been a little while. I've been working more recently on catching up on my two new favorite shows: AMC's The Walking Dead, and USA's Psych, rather than watching movies to write about. But I saw this one about two weeks ago with my girlfriend and I thought, since the Oscars are soon, it might make for an interesting read (and be a little more relevant than some of the other stuff I write), as well as give me something new to do (I've spent the last two weeks with 80 plus episodes of Psych). But I digress.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close recently received two Oscar nominations, one for best picture. I have to say that, even when I wasn't (at first) sure what to think of the film, I agree with it's nomination for sure. I haven't seen many of the nominees but this one has all the tools to be competitive with the rest.

Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Cast Away) stars in this movie as Thomas Schell, husband to Linda Schell (Sandra Bullock; Miss Congeniality, The Blind Side) and father to young, unique, socially awkward Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn, who gained previous fame only from Kids Week on Jeopardy!). Thomas seems to be the only one to understand his son, who has been tested for autism but the tests were "inconclusive". Thomas has set up a "scavenger hunt" of sorts for his son to find "the sixth boro" of New York City.

Tragedy strikes when September 11th, 2001 arrives, and Thomas is in a meeting on a high level of the World Trade Center.

Linda and Oskar are mourning for awhile, though Oskar has a hard time dealing with his grief. Eventually, Oskar finds something in his dad's closet that leads him to believe that his hunt is not over, and he goes on a long journey to find someone who might know anything about this item, or his father.

Oskar's Grandmother (Zoe Caldwell; Lilo & Stitch) plays a big role in his life, and the man renting her apartment (Max Von Sydow; Shutter Island, Robin Hood; 2011 Oscar Nominee for Best Supporting Actor), whom she is secretive about, ends up following him along on his journey for awhile.

It's hard to tell about the plot without giving too much away, so I'll just skip right ahead to what I thought of it...

For the most part, this movie is what I expected. There were a lot of moving moments, awkward encounters, and great acting from all the main and supporting cast members. This movie moved beyond my expectations with its delivery of said moments. You expect an emotional build to a tear-jerking ending, and instead receive a deflating, realistic one. I wasn't sure how I felt about it at first, but upon further reflection I realized just how effective and realistic it was. The powerful, tear-jerking moments that one expects upon seeing the trailer, are still there and very (moving a grown man to tears) powerful.

Max Von Sydow is deserving of his Oscar Nomination, and so is this movie. All the acting is brilliant and the writing is, too. Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock were exceptional, and Thomas Horn grows on you constantly throughout the film. There were notable minor roles played by Jeffrey Wright (Quantum of Solace), Viola Davis (The Help) and John Goodman (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) which were also done beautifully.

I don't give out 5 out of 5 stars to just anything, but I really think this one is something special. Definitely go see it if you have a chance.

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