Monday, January 7, 2008

To Clarify...

I've seen a lot of amazing films lately. Seriously, 2007 was the best year for movies in a long time. So, while I've been watching all these films and writing super-gushy reviews of them (and as my reviews seem to be getting longer and longer), I'm afraid my love for Juno has been lost in the shuffle. I want to make this abundantly clear - Juno is my favorite film of the year, and I think it's also the best (not always the same thing).

I've never made a "Best Of" list before, so this year I'm taking it really seriously. I'm choosing 20 and trying to order them. That means I've been rewatching some to figure out where I want to place them. All of the films on the list have 4 and a half or 5 star ratings, so it gets tricky. In my review of Waitress, I compared it a lot to Juno. I just rewatched Waitress. I still love it, and I think it's a perfect film. It gets the same rating as Juno. I just fear my review for Juno didn't come across as enthusiastically. Don't get me wrong - my feelings for Waitress haven't changed. My initial euphoric reaction in the review is it. It's not fair to subject it to my weird movie guilt.

I saw Juno again in the theater a few days ago. I loved it even more on a second viewing. For me, it's so far above and beyond most things I've seen this year and in many years that it's ridiculous. I'm talking filmmaking techniques, screenwriting, acting, music and, most importantly, my personal reaction to it. Wait...let me back this train up for a minute. I've been having a cinematic crisis about Juno and No Country for Old Men. I proposed that Juno is the best film of the year at the beginning of this post. I don't want to seem wishy-washy, but I think if I'm just talking about the BEST film, they're equal. They're both the best of the year. In my review of No Country for Old Men, I said that it was technically the best made film of the year, so it might even be the better film, the more exemplary, impressive cinematic achievement. It probably is. In fact, I know it is. And I would say that No Country for Old Men should win the Best Picure Oscar over Juno. But they're so different that it's ridiculous to compare. I love them both! Like I said, they're both the best of the year. What pushes Juno to number one on my list is my assessment of it as my "favorite" film of the year and my emotional attachment to it.

I really do feel so much like Juno, and I saw it at a really critical point in my life, and it has such a special place in my heart. I'm touched by tons of movies, but there are few that have moved me as deeply as Juno. It's just in a class of its own. I really got that on my second viewing of Waitress. I felt guilty for not praising Juno more when it has affected my life so much. Waitress is very similar to Juno, but in the end, it's no Juno. There is no other Juno.

But that's not a bad thing! It's not like I'm saying every movie HAS to aspire to being Juno. Waitress was conceived and released long before Juno. And I don't want to set some crazy measurement standard by which every film's worth is judged based on its comparison to Juno. That's insane. I don't even really know what I'm saying, but I felt like something needed to be said. How can you really compare films anyway? What makes something better? Is there "better" when it comes to great films, or is there just "different"? I gave Waitress 5 stars, and it deserves it. But when I was watching it the second time, I just had my comparisons to Juno in mind, and when I was finished, I was reminded that Juno is, by far, my favorite of the two films. Maybe that's not fair to Waitress - I don't want to seem like I'm shortchanging it now. I guess I just realized that Waitress might not be as high on my list as I originally thought (yesterday, so very long ago). That doesn't make it any less perfect. It's still a masterpiece. Incidentally, I also rewatched After the Wedding tonight, and I like that more than Waitress, too. But so what? What does it really mean? They're all phenomenal, extraordinary, totally unique pieces of filmmaking. As far as I'm concerned, I'm the winner in it all. I'm just seeing tons of kick-ass films, and there's nothing wrong with that. So if my biggest film dilemma is - "Which one of these many, many great films is the greatest?" - I can't complain.

This is why awards are preposterous. It's so impossible to compare films and performances and everything. You're forced to say something is better, when it really just might be a different kind of awesome. I mean, is it fair to put Ellen Page against Marion Cotillard? Probably not. But in the case of Juno - yes, I absolutely think it's the best film of the year. And yes, it is definitely my favorite. I guess that means I'm saying it's better than Waitress. So be it. There are so many 5 star ratings on my list that I have to order it based on personal preference. I have to play favorites.

Back to the original point of this post, Juno has rocked my world. It has moved, inspired, and changed me. I'm different, and better, for having seen it. I plan on seeing it at least a couple more times before it leaves theaters. I love, love, love, love, love, love it. Times infinity, plus one. There. So, I hope my enthusiasm for Juno is a little more apparent now. When it comes to films, Juno is boss. It is the cheese to my macaroni.

Oh, by the way, I now think Ellen Page should win the Best Actress Oscar if she's nominated, no matter who she's up against. Even Marion Cotillard. Shocking, huh? I know, I'm stunned myself.

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