Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Most Underrated Film of 2011

Now for the reason I started this blog. If you haven't yet seen Drive, starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan (as well as featuring a slew of other notable actors such as Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks, and Albert Brooks), do yourself a favor and check it out. However, I'll offer a few words of advice I wish I'd had when I saw it for the first time. While there is plenty of action in Drive, I would hardly consider it an action movie. I would consider it mostly a slower-paced, deliberate drama, but the dramatic scenes are in my opinion what make the entire movie.

It is easy to walk into Drive expecting the Fast and the Furious 6, and should that be the case you'll likely walk out less than satisfied. There are two main driving scenes, and while handled fantastically, it might make the name of the film seem a little misleading.

On to the reasons I adore this film, it of course has to begin with Ryan Gosling. While many likely wrote him off after he appeared in the Notebook as a ladies man, one dimensional actor forever doomed to a life of typecasting in romantic comedies, he has proven recently to be a legitimate actor, and one that deserves to be on everyone's radars. His role in Drive could be considered fairly minimalistic (during many of the scenes he speaks either little, or not at all). Where Gosling really succeeds though, is in his conveyance of emotions without requiring words. I'll make every effort to avoid any spoilers on this blog, as it is my honest hope that people will read this, and go out and check it out after hearing my opinions. There are numerous scenes where Ryan Gosling, without words, conveys more emotion than most actors out there today.

From this:                                                                  To This:

Also of note is Carey Mulligan, who prior to this film has not made too big of a splash. I do hope that this changes in the future, and perhaps her role in 2012's The Great Gatsby will signal that change. Her performance, like Gosling's, is minimalistic overall. Where Mulligan impressed me most though, was in the believability of her character. You can sympathize with her plight, and watching her begin her friendship with Gosling is truly a thing of beauty. A simple scene where they drive to a creek and skip rocks along the surface of the water really cements the level of acting present in Drive. Of course, some of this must be attributed to Gosling, as the relationship would not exist without him, but I give Mulligan much credit as an actress and look forward to seeing her soon.

The supporting actors are no slouchers either, with especially notable performances from Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks. Though most of the supporting cast (perhaps with the exception of Brooks) has very little screen time, the actors all provide noteworthy performances and help bring the story to life.

On to my favorite aspect of movies to discuss is the cinematography and sound editing. Drive's one nomination this year was for sound editing, and Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis certainly earned this nomination. Every second of the movie has the perfect sound to go along with it. This might be silence in some scenes, a synth-pop tune while driving in another, muffled songs from a nextdoor party, or the roaring engines and gunshots during the action scenes. I literally found myself muttering out loud "this music is amazing" at least a dozen times throughout the film. Also important to the overall product is the fantastic cinematography. Camera angles are not too experimental (like you might see in breaking bad), but the framing of the actors is nearly perfect in every scene. Especially noteworthy are scenes that take place during the nighttime, whether they be the numerous driving scenes, or one of the final scenes of the movie during a very memorable confrontation.

Now I'll admit, Drive might not be underrated in the minds of most Americans, as I've seen it listed high on many people's lists. It also boasts an impressive score on IMDB. Where I am most disappointed is in the lack of recognition by the academy. As I said earlier, the only nomination was in the sound editing category. The fact that Gosling didn't even garner a nomination I feel is unbelievable. I will be honest though, I have not yet seen many of the movies whose actors did earn Actor in a Leading Role, so I cannot pass on unbiased judgement, and that is not the purpose of this blog. I don't have time to see everything that comes out, so all I can offer is my opinion based on what I have seen. I find it hard to imagine a more underrepresented film in the 84th Academy Awards.


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