Oscarthon: Best Picture- Precious

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

Part 7: Precious: Based On The Novel "Push" by Sapphire

Was It Any Good?

It was certainly quite the acting showcase, if nothing else. Gabourey Sidibe more than earns a lead actress nomination, and nearly every scene Mo'Nique is in leads to one of those patented Oscar Moments that pave the way to an unstoppable awards run.

Lee Daniels sets a sort of frenetic early pace that really makes it seem like the second half of the film is dragging, but I can see why Precious: Based on that film "Push" that had Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning earned an editing nomination over Up In The Air.

The story itself is almot pathologically relentless- it got to the point where (spoiler) after the late revelation that Precious also has AIDS I was kind of throwing up my hands. What is this, "RENT"? It might have been less of an extreme pile-up if Daniels hadn't made the travails of the beginning so thoroughly in our faces. Between the fluttering images, rapid Requiem For A Dream-style edits, and horror-film flashbacks, it's hard to have anything left for the home stretch.

Would I See It Again?

I'm going to abstain- even the dramas that leave me utterly speechless are things I'm unlikely to watch again. I'm glad I watched it, but I don't think I missed much the first time around.

The thing is, Precious: Based on the "Push" Sign Often Seen On Doors wants to have it several ways at once: powerful character drama, light-hearted coming of age story, and wry social commentary (Precious has several fantasy sequences of being a model or movie star that jar with the rest of the movie).

What Did It Acheive?

A best picture nomination is no small feat for an indie movie about uncomfortable subjects (and we all know that Precious: Based on the song "Push" by Matchbox Twenty is one of the five "real" nominees).

Time will tell if it launches careers, but it certainly has one Oscar in the bag as of yesterday.

Will I Remember It Years From Now?

I'll certainly carry the viewing experience longer than most other films, and I'm always happy with clunky titles.

I mean, Precious: Based on a Tie in the Game Of Blackjack is the best title since The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford!

One more note: Paula Patton plays a pretty standard heart-of-gold teacher very well, but the real supporting turn I was impressed with? Mariah Carey summons up a gravelly voice and an odd wig and puts in a few great scenes as a prickly social worker. She wasn't all that likeable, but she seemed like a real person that wanted to help. The movie ends with a key confrontation scene between the two leads, but Carey's mediating presence in that scene is important.

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