With that, I'm proud to announce that my first Xtra-Notes blog post is none other than The Help.
- "You is Smart. You is Kind. You is Important." Never has terrible grammar sounded so utterly good and so immaculately poetic (yes I weaved in immaculate and Madonna would be proud). At the intersection of a film seemingly set upon racism lies the underlying theme I believe--that we are in fact good enough. Maybe we aren't the best, the brightest, most brilliant, or in the best physical shape, but Aibileen proves to us all that we can FEEL important. A beautiful film is an inspiring one, which is precisely what The Help is above all else.
- As far as acting is concerned, Viola Davis might be the best African American actress working in Hollywood right now--PERIOD. Her work in Doubt alone made me a believer. She also has a supporting role in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close coming out this December. Davis IS Aibileen and she completely surrenders herself to the character. The Academy not giving her Oscar gold would be the equivalent of VH1 not reaching out to Lindsay Lohan to be a cast member on Celebrity Rehab. Stamp it! Viola Davis will be the Best Actress at this year's Academy Awards.
- The Help feels like a Spielberg "art" film. When Spielberg wants to win Oscar he makes these type of films (Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, The Color Purple, etc.) As such, The Help has the popular culture behind it with some of the critically acclaimed "street cred" the Academy requires. Spielberg probably wishes he could have sat in the director's chair on this one.
- The Help is far funnier than I thought it would be. The first time I saw it I think I took in the emotion versus the humor. Everything from "Shit-pie," to Celia "white-trash" Foote aids in an experience that balances the heavy, headier subjects (racism, abuse, etc.) with a healthy dose of laughter.
- I can't say enough about Celia Foote, played incredibly well by Jessica Chastain. Sure, Octavia Spencer's Minny Jackson is the more flamboyant role of the two, but Chastain grounds the hegemonic pressures of Jackson society with a performance that is heartbreaking and heart warming. Spencer will be nominated as Best Supporting Actress, while Chastain might go empty handed. Nonetheless, watch the film again Chastain's character is just as deserving.
- Equally deserving of Oscar praise is Bryce Dalls Howard. She takes MEAN to a whole new level. Though it's previously been hard for the Academy to vote for a villain, they have warmed up to idea recently with Mo'Nique in Precious (2009) and Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008). Nonetheless, Howard (great last name if you ask me) will probably be snubbed as both Spencer and Chastain will get the nod before her. Undoubtedly though, it's her performance that literally gives racism its face (cold sore and all). Without her there is no real risk, but rather an implied one. Bottom line: Davis, Spencer, and Chastain owe Howard at the very least a Slurpee on Oscar night.
Well, that was all for my first edition of Xtra-Notes... Feel free to leave your notes in the comments...