08 December 2007

2008 Best Actress: Ellen Page in Juno

Juno is playing in very limited release right now (all of 7 theatres), but it should build sufficiently positive buzz to be found near you fairly soon.

It's one of them "quirky" family comedies, but it avoids the usual cliches and contains some amazing performances from a very strong cast.

Ellen Page deserves all the praise she is getting (just peruse a few of the reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes, the film is at 93% positive at the moment), and if she can overcome the Academy's reluctance to recognize comic performances should garner a nomination (especially considering most of the 'prestige' pictures this year have been drearily awful).

It's not a perfect picture, but it's an enjoyable picture, and it's a smart picture, without being full of itself. That's a rare commodity out of Hollywoodland lately, whether on TV, big-budget picture, or smaller 'indy' pic.

One interesting thing about the picture is the use of music. There's a lot of older music in the picture, older than the characters are, but it works as these aren't 'hip' teens, but kind of outcast freaks who are more likely to be into their own niche rather than what's current. That seems to be happening a lot with these kind of teen pics. In Superbad all the music was older than the principals as well. In some ways that reflects how fractured popular culture is today. It's not unreasonable to have a 15 or 17 year old into 70s funk, or 80s new romantic, or 60s garage, or 70s punk. It would be out of place if the whole school was listening to this stuff, but a few freaks can get away with listening to whatever they want. That's something that movies (and TV) used to get wrong all the time by trying to be 'current' with what teens would be listening to. Invariably, with the time from script to screen, the music choices for the 'kids' would usually be off by about 5 years or so, and in teen fandom terms, that's multiple generations of fads off. By reaching back more than 20 years, you avoid that problem, and you feed the nostalgia of the 30 and 40 somethings that will make up a good chunk of the audience for these pictures.

And Jason Reitman has already made as many really good pictures (2, Juno and Thank You For Smoking) as his dad has in the past 20 years (also 2, Dave and Ghostbusters II, and both of those were long, long ago, what the hell happened to Ivan Reitman, John Landis, and Harold Ramis as directors, anyway?).

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