Tuesday, May 04, 2010

best films: #21: ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)

Previously ranked and blogged at #33
One of the great confusions of my Oscar-viewing lifetime: how on earth, though it was clearly a strong year for film, did so much about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind get overlooked for the 2004 Academy Awards? Yes, it managed to deservedly win the Best Original Screenplay award (how is Charlie Kaufman such a genius?!), and its stand-out performer was rightfully nominated in the Best Actress category - though Kate Winslet was notoriously snubbed in favor of a second Swank victory - but what of the rest of the film? Aside from the Oscars, please explain how Hotel Rwanda's miniscule cast (in which Don Cheadle and Sophie Okenedo were the only redeeming parts) managed to outdo Eternal Sunshine for a Best Ensemble nod at the Screen Actors Guild Awards? Ranting aside, though, it should be noted that this film is one of the most uniquely wonderful and impeccably acted films ever made. Michel Gondry brings the quirk with some restraint; sure, the flick is loaded with obscure scene changes and memory sequences, but it's not going overboard with the "quirk for the sake of quirk" aspect, which I detest. On top of that, Winslet delivers one of her best performances alongside co-star Jim Carrey, who, on the other hand, delivers his hands-down greatest performance. And to think he hardly makes a facial contortion for the duration! The supporting cast is a great line-up working at its best - Kirsten Dunst and Mark Ruffalo stand out in particular for me, as their "baked" scene is one of my favorites. So I will likely remain baffled for years to come as to how four mediocre movies made it into the Best Picture lineup when Eternal Sunshine (and Closer and Being Julia and The Incredibles and the best Harry Potter entry to date) was in the mix. Brilliantly written, subtly and expertly acted, and beautifully staged, it is.

Standout Performance: Though I would like to give special recognition to Carrey's shockingly nuanced nod as Joel, Winslet's Clementine is quirky/beautiful and is as fully realized as each and every hair coloring choice.

6 comments:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Ah Luke. We're really on the same wavelength, I was just trying to finish up a review for this for MY own list of favourites.

Luke said...

Oh good - let the gushing over Kaufman's masterpiece continue! :)

Robert said...

Hooray! I love this movie and you're so right, it was SNUBBED. Kate Winslet is wonderful, I think this is my second favorite performance of hers, after Little Children. It's really a genius film.

Simon said...

This is, like, my Desert Island movie, this is so good! I find it detestable Carrey was ignored. Detestable!

Castor said...

Poor Jim Carrey getting no love for his amazing work in this. Love this movie as you probably well know so enough said.

Luke said...

Ah, thank you all for your solidarity in this. Let's now collectively write the Academy to protest this and many other missed opportunities. Huzza! :)