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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sandra Bullock Wins An Oscar or The Romantic Comedy Defense

When Sean Penn announced in his "I am still in character but not really" voice that Sandra Bullock had won best actress at this years Oscars, I began to scream and jump and even shed a few tears. Now, I know what your thinking: she must have had two many jello shaped Oscar shots, but no....I was truly, genuinely happy to see this woman stand up on stage and deliver a humble and heartfelt acceptance speech.

Why the excitement? Well, the answer is two fold:
a).Sandra Bullock is a nice, normal and relatable person
b). Sandra Bullock has made a career out of being in romantic comedies: Hope Floats, Practical Magic, and Miss Congeniality and she does not apologize for it.

Let me elaborate my points.

Most people in the entertainment industry are so harsh on romantic comedies. Most RC's are released from April through August, which is generally considered the "off- season" of movie releases. I think these movies are set up to fail and it is somewhat tragic. I liked "Valentine's Day", the latest Gary Marshall creation (stop rolling your eyes). And now I would like to.......... hold on to your hats........... compare elements of "The Hurt Locker" (best picture winner) with Gary Marshall's all star, block buster film "Valentine's Day" to further my thesis.

Are you ready? Ok remember I am talking about elements and individual scenes. I AM NOT COMAPARING THESE FILMS IN THEIR ENTIRETY.

The Hurt Locker follows the lives of three soldiers as they fight for their country in the Iraq War. It is a touching film that I believe is one of the first truthful and openly honest American directed films about the Iraq War. Staff Sergent William James (Jeremy Renner's character) deals with the lifelong torment of being a soldier.

In "Valentine's Day", Julia Roberts plays Captain Kate Hazeltine. She is a soldier returning home from Iraq for only 24 hours to see her one true Valentine: her son Edison. We get to know and love Edison through a series of mis-adventures as he tries to tell his teacher that he is in love with her. At the end of the film, it is late and Kate finally gets home to find Edison asleep in his bed. She gently wakes him up and they embrace. Kate's pain is revealed and the result is a simple yet cathartic scene. The essence of this moment can easily be compared with the connection that Staff Sergent William James has with one of the local boys on the base who ends up being killed. Both scenes are effective in showing the reality of the devastation of war on a human being. Even if it's just for a moment.

Is everyone OK?
Just checking....:)

Romantic comedies are hard to make? Any movies is hard to make. They take time, money and man power. Is a movie that has a nice story with a happy ending untruthful and exaggerated? Or have we all just become Cynical Cathy's. There are a lot of harsh realities in the world that film makers must and should pay attention too, but why can we not at least respect movies (you don't have to like them) that indulge in the lighter aspects of life.

For me this is the brilliance of Sandra Bullocks career, she is the girl that you could invite over, pop on some jams and watch re-runs of Dancing With the Stars (not that I have ever done that). Even more comforting than other girl next door types in Hollywood: Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel and Jennifer Garner, Sandra Bullock gives us a sense of release and ease. This mostly due to her ability to stay out of the headlines. I know she is not perfect and stories are written about her, but we forgive and love her for honesty and kindness.

The Blind Side should not have been nominated for an best picture and I don't think that Sandra Bullocks performance deserved best actress, but she won and we are all happy she did. I think the academy was reminded that anyone can be be a winner and that is why we love the movies. Anything is possible, and in this time of economic downfall and war it is nice to sometimes stop and remember that, even if the reminder is a Sandra Bullock movie.

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