February 07, 2010

MOVIES: The Blind Side (John Lee Hancock, 2009)

Finally caught up with this one, Sandra Bullock's breakthrough to awards-season recognition.

Bullock stars as Leigh Anne Tuohy, who takes into her home Michael Oher (Quintin Aaron), a student at her kids' school whose own home life is unstable at best. Michael turns out to be a star football player, and with the support of Leigh Anne and her family, winds up making it to college and, eventually, pro football.

The movie was a mildly surprising nominee for Best Picture this year, and I'm not convinced that it deserves the slot. To me, there are two things required for a movie to earn a Best Picture nomination: there needs to be at least one thing about the movie -- script, performance, technological acheivement -- that raises the movie above the average, and there should be no glaring weakness in the movie. I think The Blind Side fails on both counts.

What's special about the movie? Well, Bullock's performance is what's getting the attention, and there's certainly nothing wrong with it. But it's essentially a slightly more dramatic variation on her usual characters, a feisty, determined woman out to do the right thing. She's being rewarded, I think, because she's immensely popular in Hollywood, and this is really the first movie she's made that comes even close to having the gravitas that an Oscar movie requires.

As for the movie's glaring weakness, that would be Jae Head's insufferably grating performance as Leigh Anne's son, SJ. There was a time when this sort of shameless mugging was par for the course from child actors in Hollywood, but the bar has been raised in recent years by kids like the Fanning sisters, and Head's performance is painful to watch.

The Blind Side is a harmless enough movie, and if you're in the mood for this sort of old-fashioned uplifting, inspirational tale, this will fill the bill nicely. But a Best Picture nominee? That's going too far.


loretta ann said...

Keith, I totally agree with what you have to say about Blind Side. It wasn't even as good as they are saying it is, it was predictable every step of the way. The whole thing is a set up for Sandra Bullock to get an Oscar, but like many who've gone before her, she will have to deal with the Meryl. Not gonna happen. lorettaann

Keith said...

Oh, I think "set up" is a bit harsh, and I would bet that Bullock was just as surprised as anyone else when people began talking about the performance as an Oscar possibility. But now that she's made the list, I think she's going to win it.

It's true that there are "many who've gone before her" against Meryl, but y'know what? More often than not (waaaaay more often), Meryl's been on the short end of the stick, and she's going to be there again this year.