February 16, 2004

Lost in Translation
In an attempt no be unbiased about our Oscar picks, we rented Lost in Translation and Seabiscuit. Melissa and I sat down to watch Lost in Translation after we put Matthew to bed, and we were amazed. It is the absolute opposite of Return of the King: There is hardly any action at all, the dialogue is minimalist and ordinary, and the story only affects two people. But the film's subtlety and the brilliant portrayal of quiet emptiness plays out right under the surface.

It reminds me of a review that someone gave a CD that I did with The UGA Accidentals: "I would really like to see these guys live, because I feel like I'm missing a good part of their performance." If you read the actor's lines for Lost in Translation, the script probably would not stand out from a college film class, but that's where this film's brilliance lies. In the words these people choose not to say, in the subtle chemistry between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansonn, in the deliberate pacing and even in the second-unit cinematography, the viewer is really able to get inside the character's heads and feel their emptiness. All the elements that cannot be written into a script are brought to light by director Sofia Coppola.

The scuttlebutt was that Sofia Coppola was only being considered because she was the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, and now that I've seen this film, I can put that rumor to bed. She is every bit the director that Peter Jackson is, though her style is totally different. So now I'm in a quandry about the Oscar for Best Director. Jackson showed us that even small people can affect great change on the world with Lord of the Rings, and Coppola showed us that the world and the small actions of two ordinary people can affect great change on just those two people.

At the risk of getting zero nookie from my wife, I revise my Oscar picks: Peter Jackson for Best Director and Lost in Translation for Best Picture.

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