Most of the time being nominated for an Oscar is an exceptionally good thing. Your box office will go up, the reputation of your director and stars will be vastly improved and you go down in the annals of history. But, on the flip side, you also get held to a higher standard by your audiences. They don’t just go in thinking ‘I am going to watch a movie about x and y’, they go in thinking ‘I am going to watch a movie about x and y and it is probably going to be really good because it is nominated for several Oscars’. And, alas, this is – for me – why Silver Linings Playbook only gets 3 M&Ms.
If I had gone into this – perfectly decent – film with no prior knowledge that it was up for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress (as well as others), I probably would have gone for a higher rating. Not a five, definitely, but maybe closer to a four. But because I was measuring this against the standard of film I expect to be Oscar nominated, it fell far shorter. As I said though – it is a perfectly decent film. It tells the story of Pat (Bradley Cooper) – a man who has just been released from a psychiatric institution (where he was being treated for bi-polar) after a violent incident involving his wife and another man. Pat is trying to get back into a routine and win his wife back – and is surrounded by some pretty flamboyant characters in the form of his friends and parents. The ‘crazy’ quotient goes up when he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) – a widow who is recovering from the death of her husband. The two – rather implausibly – end up forming a partnership to compete in a dance contest. Yes, I said dance contest.
The performances here are very good – but I wouldn’t go so far as to rave about them. Bradley Cooper is very good as Pat – and shows abilities that he hasn’t previously demonstrated. So – for Bradley Cooper – it was good. But Oscar worthy? No way. I am a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan – and she should have got some Oscar love for her brilliant turn in Winter’s Bone a few years back, but she was pipped by Natalie Portman. She is great here – but no greater than she has been in say, The Hunger Games. I won’t be gutted if she wins, as I said she is great, but Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty was on another level. The supporting cast were good – Robert De Niro in particularly great form (and in a decent film for a change). But I think they all suffered from my main gripe about the movie – which was the tone. At times it was a farce. There were moments of high comedy. Moments of serious and deep drama. But the problem I found was I was never sure whether it was a moment I should be laughing or crying about. So I remained kind of neutral throughout. Other films (Little Miss Sunshine springs to mind) have managed to balance this light vs dark tone really well – but here the blurring of the lines was just a little too confusing for me as an audience member.
I love a good rom com, but unfortunately this just didn’t really do it for me. A shame – as the performances were good from the two leads and it tackled an important and difficult topic. But the Oscar hype, in this blogger’s opinion anyway, is unwarranted.
M&Ms from me: 3.
Oscars it should win: none
Oscars it might win: Best Actress (it is also a long shot for Best Film – if the Academy go super conservative, but I doubt it).
Next up: my Oscar roundup later this week, where I put my blogging reputation on the line with my final picks of what will triumph, and what will be robbed, at Feb 24th’s Oscars (Note: I have previously stated that I won’t be seeing Django Unchained (not a Quentin Tarantino fan), can’t see Beasts of the Southern Wild (missed it at cinemas) and probably won’t see Amour. So that is it for my Oscar movie reviews).