Awaking to the beauty of movies

Most would agree I’m a night owl. I don’t much like going to bed and I like getting out of bed before 11 a.m. even less.

Most would agree I’m a night owl. I don’t much like going to bed and I like getting out of bed before 11 a.m. even less.

Fortunately, if there’s a good reason, I’ll spring from bed with ease. In an age of journalistic uncertainty, simply being employed is a successful career, but once you’re in, there’s a lot of hard work. I don’t know what my future holds journalistically, but for the moment, I have a job I really like and get to walk into the office with enthusiasm each morning at (gasp!) 9 a.m.

On Thursday, my zeal for another great profession will cause me to hop out of bed like a popcorn kernel and be seated in fron of the TV at 5:30 a.m. What is the reason for this late-night carouser to wake up at a time two hours later than he frequently goes to bed on a Friday night? It is the same thing which has led me to do so for 11 years. At the crack of dawn on Thursday, after months of buzz and speculation and the presentation of lesser, albeit still prestigious accolades, we will all finally know which films and individuals are nominated for the zenith of prizes in cinema, an Academy Award.

Even though I inhale movie reviews by fellow journalists every Friday and cough up enough money in tickets each year to send someone to college for, well, a month (tuition seems to rise as often as the sun) I am not an academy member. Still, I like to think I am, so here are some of my nominees.

No movie this year left me with more to think about than “The Reader” the story of a man struggling to make sense of his feelings for his first love after discovering her appaling secret. Kate Winslet deservedly received one of her two Golden Globes for her role as the woman who played a powerfully positive role in the young man’s life, yet also caused unspeakable horror to others. It is a bold, and enveloping exploration on love, decisions, truth and consequences.

Another Winslet film garnering much praise is “Revolutionary Road” a cynical look at crushed dreams lying beneath the facade of 1950s suburban affluence. One of the most emotionally revealing performances of the year is given here by Leonardo DiCaprio, who should get a Best Actor nomination. In the role he is charged with portraying a man who is seen as mature, then juvenile, ambitious yet complacent, attracted to success while being burdened by it, and finally as a man so emotionally torn open at one point he is simultaneously angry and heartbroken, shouting at his wife between wimpers and tears. This is acting at its most honest.

While no James Bond film was ever nominated for a “major” Oscar, some entries in the series were licensed to kill the competition in smaller categories, winning statues for sound and visual effects categories. Two years ago, I submitted my desire for the opening song to “Casino Royale” to be nominated, only to be shut down. Again, for your consideration, I would love for “Another Way to Die,” the opening song from “Quantum of Solace” (my favorite film this year) to be an original song nominee. The first duet in the franchise, this song represents Bond in every way. A great Bond song is never one you would listen to on its own. It must be paired with the movie, the way 007 would pair a bottle of ’61 Bollinger with beluga caviar. The song not only sounds like a James Bond theme but includes lyrics performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys which accurately reflect the character.

On a final note, while the Oscars recoginze the best of the previous year, it’s always touching when the show pauses to remember the ones who contributed to the movies who have passed on. While I don’t believe any one person is better than another, I hope the academy recognizes author Michael Crichton. While on a personal level he helped me through a lot of boring days in middle school by providing reading material between and sometimes during classes, his novels inspired several movies including the sublime “Jurassic Park.” He also directly contributing to film by writing and directing such movies as “The Great Train Robbery,” adapted from his own novel.

The “In Memoriam” segment is, I feel, more inspiring than somber, because while the ones who contributed their talents for audiences’ enjoyment or enlightenment are gone, their performances, screenplays, and all other aspects of filmmaking last forever for future generations to enjoy.

There is still time to experience many of 2008’s best films in the theater before the Oscars, which air Feb. 22, so I encourage you to experience them.

I’ll see you then on the red carpet.

OK, I’m kidding. I actually watch the show from my couch.

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