I saw this film before Christmas, assuming it would be a celebrated film with award worthy performances and would gather tons of nominations this season.
Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep) is the head mistress at a Catholic school in 1964 Bronx, NY. She begins to suspect foul play when Father Brendan Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) takes a particular interest in the first black student to be enrolled in the school, Donald Miller (Joseph Foster). She enlists the help of her fellow nuns, including Sister James (Amy Adams), a wide-eyed young nun who is not as quick to jump to conclusions.
To be perfectly honest, this film bored me to tears. It’s completely over the top and dramatic with its intense score and quick dialogue. If these actors had taken the stage with this material I’m sure it would have been spectacular, but it simply doesn’t translate to this medium. There is so much build up that never actually goes anywhere and with no resolution this film left me feeling very empty. I’m not surprised that the Academy felt the need to honor such a high-powered cast, though I disagree. Additionally, I don’t see this film taking a single award home.
Best Actress – Meryl Streep
I love Meryl, I really do, but she is so over the top in this one. She plays her character to death with her thick Boston accent and overly judgmental scowl. We get it- you’re a strict Catholic nun. Thankfully, Kate Winslet’s beautiful performance in The Reader should prevail here.
Best Supporting Actor – Phillip Seymour Hoffman
A Philip Seymour Hoffman performance can go either way with me- I either love him or hate him. Usually when he’s a supporting actor he’s more tolerable, for instance last year I loved him in Charlie Wilson’s War. This year, however, he was just too much. We all know this category belongs to Heath Ledger, but there are others I would have rather seen with this nomination.
Best Supporting Actress – Amy Adams
Adams is still growing and developing as an actress, and I felt she brought a small breath of fresh air to this film. She’s a welcome change from the stuffy theater performances and actually looks as though she belongs on film and not on the stage. However, she’s not nearly as good as…
Best Supporting Actress – Viola Davis
This breakout performance got a lot of early buzz for the Oscar and with good reason. She has but one scene in this film, and it’s an intense one. Still, the material is more shocking than the actual performance- as the mother of the little boy in question, she takes a surprising stance on the matter at hand. With such a small role, and by splitting the vote with Amy Adams, I think this award will go to one of the other deserving nominees.
Best Adapted Screenplay
I’m very undecided in how I feel about this nomination. On the one hand, the dialogue is quick and smart, but on the other, I still felt as though I was watching a play and therefore it didn’t adapt very well. Either way, I don’t think it stands a chance against Slumdog, so I won’t waste much more time on it.