Movie: Bridge of Spies
I like Cold War spy stories, and this one was . . . okay. It was way too determined to be a feel-good movie for my taste, undercutting its own most interesting points in its need to show that if Tom Hanks is just earnest and American enough, everything will work out. There were a ton of moral ambiguities that were hinted at and then quickly papered over. Most of the acting was decent, but the writing was weak at times, the pacing was weird, and the whole thing just didn't hang together very well. However, the movie DID do a good job of setting the scene and historical context, and I really liked the way it showed how shocked people were by the idea of the Berlin Wall, which is now so obvious and well-known in retrospect.
Availability: Still in a few theaters, or coming out on DVD/Blu-Ray/digital download on February 2nd.
Best Picture: No. As I said, this was okay, but not great - maybe not even good - and there were many stronger movies this year.
Actor in a Supporting Role: Mark Rylance always does a masterful job with what he's given, though this was not his best role. I wouldn't be upset if he won.
Music (Original Score): Meh. It was okay, if overwrought at times.
Production Design: This is the one category in which I really felt this deserved a nomination. The New York sets were good but the East German ones were really impressive and felt very real and immersive and detailed.
Sound Mixing: Uh, maybe. Sound mixing tends to only stick out to me when it's bad, unless I'm particularly watching for it, and I'd forgotten this was nominated in this category so I wasn't. It was fine!
Writing (Original Screenplay): Nooo. There were some sort of unexpectedly funny moments, enough that when the Coens' writing credit appeared I thought "Ohhh, that explains it," but a lot of the earnest stuff - which was the majority of the movie - was just clunky. There were a lot of points that never really resolved or went anywhere, including some of the aforementioned jokes: I expected something to come of Donovan's daughter dating his associate, or for it at least to be mentioned later, but no, it was just a cheap funny moment at the beginning. We never see what happens to Pryor after he's released; the interesting ambiguities about Abel's and Powers' fates in the movie itself are immediately undercut by the historical note about their real lives.