Well, tonight's the big Oscar night. I've been trying to see as many of the contenders as possible. I finally got to The Hurt Locker and it is deserving of the hype.
One could reduce the Oscar race for best picture down to left vs. right, Democrats vs. Republican. The environmental world under attack by an evil and militaristic corporation in Avatar will square off against the grim reality of war and what seems to be an ultra-realistic snapshot of Iraq in The Hurt Locker.
But really, there's no need to get political. Both films are worthy of the award, in what has been an unusually strong year for movies. If it were up to me, I would pick The Hangover as best movie, but seeing as comedy is ridiculously out-of-bounds for the Academy, that could never happen.
Suspense is the greatest attribute of The Hurt Locker. As the kids from Bravo Company work to diffuse bombs, Jeremy Renner as Sergeant First Class William James recklessly leads his crew. Death is, of course, all around, but he's the only one who doesn't seem to mind. This kind of work takes its toll on his fellow soldiers, such as the psychologically damaged Anthony Mackie and the physically shot Brian Geraghty. Renner is nominated for best actor and is wonderful for a relative newcomer (the only other film I've seen with him is 28 Days Later, in which he also plays a sergeant).
When Renner returns home, he admits to his infant son that there is only one thing he loves. Being on the battlefield diffusing bombs in his oversize space suit. And it's not long before he is back where he loves, in a situation where many soldiers become unhinged.
Curiously, the big stars (Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pearce, and Lost's Evangeline Lilly) all play unassuming bit parts.
While I'll be cheering on Avatar tonight, it will be reasonable if The Hurt Locker wins best picture.
****1/2 out of ***** stars