Synopsis: Beginners explores the hilarity, confusion, and surprises of love through the evolving consciousness of Oliver (Ewan McGregor). Oliver meets the irreverent and unpredictable Anna (Mélanie Laurent) only months after his father Hal Fields (Christopher Plummer) has passed away. This new love floods Oliver with memories of his father, who, following the death of his wife of 45 years, came out of the closet at age 75 to live a full, energized, and wonderfully tumultuous gay life – which included a younger boyfriend. The upheavals of Hal’s new honesty, by turns funny and moving, brought father and son closer than they’d ever been able to be. Now Oliver endeavors to love Anna with all the bravery, humor, and hope that his father taught him. At once deeply personal and universal, Beginners was inspired by director Mike Mills’ own father and is meant in turn to inspire everyone weighing their chances and choices in life and love.
My Take: One of my favorite films, it made my Best of Films of 2011 list in the Drama category. This is what I had to say in the explanation:
“I was drawn in by Mike Mills’ story of his father’s coming out after the death of his mother that he brings to the screen so thoughtfully. Christopher Plummer is a frontrunner for supporting actor for the major awards [he goes on to win the Oscar] and he definitely deserves it. For me, this film is also Ewan McGregor’s reemergence as an actor to watch for his touching portrayal of a man who carries a sadness with him only exacerbated by the death of his parents.”
Okay, so the nominations for the 2011 Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced today. Being the cinephile that I am, I have a couple of comments on the nominations in the movie categories:
1. Best ensemble cast (The Artist, Bridesmaids, The Descendants, The Help, Midnight in Paris): I’ve seen the majority of these films and my money is on Bridesmaids. I didn’t really want to see this when it came out (I contend that the trailer is not funny in the least) but this movie got me at the opening scene (hello, John Hamm). It has both appealed to the masses as well as the critics, and the casting in this ensemble was dead on. Runner up for me is The Help for the female bond the actors fostered on screen in this very important story.
2. Best actor (Demian Bichir, A Better Life, George Clooney, The Descendants, Leo DiCaprio, J Edgar, Jean Dujardin, The Artist, Brad Pitt, Moneyball). This could go either way. There are alot of favorites and repeat offenders in this category including Clooney, Pitt, and DiCaprio. Also there is alot of buzz around Dujardin. I can’t call this one but I do have one question. No Joseph Gordon-Levitt for 50/50? Or Ryan Gosling for Drive?
3. Best actress (Glenn Closs, Albert Nobbs, Viola Davis, The Help, Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady, Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk about Kevin, Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn). If Viola Davis doesn’t sweep this category at all the upcoming awards shows, people need to get their head examined. Meryl Streep, beware.
4. Best supporting actor (Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn, Armie Hammer, J Edgar, Jonah Hill, Moneyball, Nick Nolte, Warrior, Christopher Plummer, Beginners). I loved Beginners, probably my favorite film this year, so I’m really pulling for Christopher Plummer getting this. And I think he has a great chance. But I hope that this sheds light on this underrated gem of a movie.
5. Best supporting actress (Berenice Bejo, The Artist, Jessica Chastain, The Help, Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids, Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs, Octavia Spencer, The Help). Two words - Melissa McCarthy. When she threw her leg up and slapped her thigh on the airplane, I always died. If she was running for president I would vote for her.