So this is maybe something of a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence: I think the Oscar committee got it right. My favorite movie of 2006 remains Idiocracy, but The Departed is amazing enough that I'll agree with that "Best Picture" bit. Granted, I didn't see the movie it was based on, Infernal Affairs, starring Tony Leung, and I'm sure that had its charms and that if I had seen it The Departed might not gleam as it did.
But for a suspense drama- I just kept on eating Doritos. Not to stay awake, but as a compulsion that just kind of developed as I got into it. Like the idea of a popcorn movie. Kind of an awesome premise. There's one moment where a twist comes that's kind of unforeseen, and I actually felt let down, because it seemed to negate the perfect symmetry of the dramatic tension, but then it doesn't matter at all almost instantaneously.
It's kind of a dad movie, in that Oscar-winning way of being really tightly well-done crime genre drama stuff. My tastes might run more towards some Michel Gondry Science Of Sleep whimsy parade, in general. But yeah, I just thought this worked really well. It's the type of movie that has Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, and Jack Nicholson in it, but I like all those dudes. I felt it, I went along with it. The jokes worked.
It seems like I would like Pan's Labyrinth more, because that's a bit closer to fun times. But no- I thought the stuff that worked best there was the more serious historic drama stuff, with the monsters all ugly CGI. It also didn't really integrate the parts enough for me- It became too easy to read the fantasy stuff as literal fantasy. It never becomes magical realism, and the closest it gets is just having characters exhibit magical thinking. It's no The Science Of Sleep. It does seem likely that it is better than every other Guillermo Del Toro movie, but does anyone really care about that guy?
The Prestige works a bit better, in its slow progression from historical fiction that's kind of ridiculous in its premise to full-blown fucking ridiculous elements. That just feels a lot like a Batman Begins companion piece to me. Although- First movie I'd ever seen Hugh Jackman in, and he's pretty insufferable and not really all that fun to watch. I actually don't think I like any of the actors in that movie, in terms of them being fun to watch on their own. Some have just earned some goodwill from other movies. Oh wait- David Bowie as Nikola Tesla. But that's not really an awesome performance or anything.