The Mount Holyoke News: Little Miss Sunshine

 

With the Oscars just beginning, there is one movie on every Academy voters radar: the indie comedy, Little Miss Sunshine.

Released back in July and still playing, the film is the story of a dysfunctional family’s three day road trip in a VW bus to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. It quickly won over audiences.

During the weekend of August 23, the movie nearly matched its production budget of $8 million, earning the number three spot at the box office. As of October 15, Little Miss Sunshine’s total domestic revenue is over $56 million.

The movie has begun to collect major critical prizes as well, receiving the Audience Award at the San Sebastián International Film Festival and the Grand Prize at the Deauville Film Festival. (Crash won the top prize the Deauville Film Festival last year; it went on to win the Best Picture Academy Award.)

Why all the love for this indie black comedy?

To put it simply, the film has everything to offer. From an endearing plotline and lovable characters to a wildly humourous screenplay and great performances, it is a perfect movie experience.

Little Miss Sunshine has one secret weapon; 10-year-old Abigail Breslin. Playing 7-year-old Olive with a big smile, big glasses and a huge heart, Breslin is currently campaigning for a Best Supporting Actress nomination. Perhaps, in light of Keisha Castle-Hughes nomination for Whale Rider in 2002, child actors are being considered for lead categories she even has a shot at a Best Actress nomination.

If you haven’t made time for this movie yet, do so. Lucky for us, Little Miss Sunshine is showing right across Route 116 at Tower Theaters.

Published: The Mount Holyoke News, reprinted with permission
November 2, 2006

Review: The Departed (2006)

Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed

The Academy Awards may be only five months away, yet there is already a guaranteed Best Picture contender.

The Departed is director Martin Scorcese’s latest feature and it (thankfully) returns to what Scorcese does best: dark, action packed, crime dramas.

Based on the 2002 Hong Kong film, Infernal Affairs, The Departed follows Boston crime boss Frank Costello, played by Jack Nicholson. The Massachusetts State Police and FBI are desperate to bring down Costello’s reign. They place Billy Costigan (a remarkable Leonardo DiCaprio) undercover without knowing that Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a Costello protégé, has been rising to the top of the state police all along. Both sides quickly learn that the enemy has infiltrated their system and the film climaxes in a bloody mess.

Mark Whalberg, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson, and Alec Baldwin round out the cast in this stellar picture.

Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the witty and sinister Costello sometimes strays from the films’ principal ideas of violence, corruption, deception, and loyalty. Nevertheless, Nicholson delivers an unforgettable and notable performance.

The Departed’s greatest achievement, however, comes at the hands of Leonardo DiCaprio. Starring in his third Scorsese feature, DiCaprio delivers his best and most intriguing performance to date. DiCaprio molds his character until all vulnerability and strength has been removed, leaving him empty and distraught.

The Departed is, without a doubt, the year’s best release thus far. With sharp direction, great music, and perfect characterizations, Martin Scorcese creates a captivating motion picture and proves once again why he is the greatest American director.

Published: The Mount Holyoke News
October 12, 2006

Updated October 11, 2010