“Ah yes, the time of the year where I feel compelled to see a movie if there’s even a hint of an Oscar possibility. In this case, there’s Annette Bening in the best actress race and a few other longshot possibilities. However as some of the precursor awards have been falling into place, Bening’s chances have started slipping. Did I really wanna go see this still? There’s one thing that convinced me, which is that it was written and directed by Mike Mills. A few years ago, he was the writer/director behind Beginners, a film that still fills me with warm fuzzies to think about how moving and beautiful it is.
Beginners was written about Mills’ relationship with his father. 20th Century Women is about his mother. Bening’s Dorothea is a single mother in the 70’s trying to raise a teenage boy. She enlists her tenants a freespirited photographer (Greta Gerwig) and aimless contractor (Billy Crudup) as well as her son’s best friend (Elle Fanning) in helping her son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) grow up to be a good man. It sounds kinda hokey, thus my initial hesitation, but I found it rather enjoyable.
Once again Mills succeeds at painting a simple picture that still draws you in. Normally it bothers me when there isn’t much of a thru-story, but the characters were so strong and fully realized that I was perfectly content to just watch them play out their lives.
I hope that Bening stays in the Best Actress race. I think however that this point, the nomination is the victory (though if she does get it, then we can assess where I see her for the win). She had such poise and elegance and complete vulnerability. It was a beautiful portrait and Mike Mills’ mother should be proud of the character that she inspired. I also hafta say that I really liked Greta Gerwig. I usually find her extreme whimsy to be kinda annoying, but it suited her character here and worked well as a supporting character.
So even if this doesn’t end up being a contender this year, I don’t regret seeing the movie. I enjoyed it far more than I expected, and I really do hope that it gets some recognition this season.
20th Century Women – \m/ \m/ \m/”