Oscarthon: Best Picture- An Education

A ten part series on the Best Picture nominees, structured around four basic questions.

Part 4: An Education

Was It Any Good?

I'd give it a solid three stars. A remarkable ensemble cast gets lots of mileage from Nick Hornby's script- a script that's decidely unhornbian, really.

Alfred Molina, Olivia Williams, Peter Saarsgard, Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike all put in memorable turns around Carey Mulligan's powerful lead performance. Emma Thompson even pops up for three scenes as the school headmistress.

Lone Sherfig's direction is solid, if not visually memorable. I did enjoy the score by the appropriately-named Paul Englishby.

Would I See It Again?

Probably not, though I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to avoid it. That's not necessarily a knock against the film- well realized coming of age stories just don't make up a large part of my dvd library, except for the Harry Potter series.

Maybe if I were more of an Anglophile I'd want a copy of it for the period setting, the vintage cars and old teacups and school uniforms. There's a certain Londonness to it that you have to admire- constant rain, a grey palette, a longing for Paris that everyone seems to share (or at least everyone we're supposed to like).


What Did It Acheive?

Primarily it launched Carey Mulligan to stardom, and perhaps elevated Nick Hornby to legit screenwriter status, but the latter was seemingly inevitable. And fans of "Bleak House" tell me so was the former.

It also snuck into the Best Picture race, of course, thanks to the new Rule of Ten, giving it three nominations and the ability to slap it on the DVD case in deceiving font sizes (e. g. "3 Academy Award nominations including BEST PICTURE").

Will I Remember It Years From Now?

A vague sense, I'm sure- though exact quotes are already slipping from my mind. I'm probably being unfair to how straight it was played: Nick Hornby is an idol of mine, and his work led to certain witty expectations.

One of the things I liked best about it sort of hurts it in this regard- it seemed real. The girl and her parents, the mature way people dealt with each other- even late film revelations are handled with a minimum of dramatic "Oscar scene" moments. Which is great, but not earth shattering. As much as I resent plot twists and "For Your Consideration" freakouts for the sake of themselves, they do stick in the mind a little better than things that could actually happen to people. Does that make any sense?

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