“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Okay, here’s another Oscar nominee for 4 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress. The story is seemingly based around Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of the Louisiana bayou in an area called “the Bathtub”. The story follows Hushpuppy (played by Quvenzhané Wallis, whom at age 9 is the youngest Oscar nominee ever) and she learns some very strange school lessons, survival tips from her alcoholic father Wink, and ultimately learns to stand for herself and “be the Man”. It is part fantasy and part reality, which can be odd at times, but at other times it makes this film exceptionally beautiful.
“Beasts” comes at you with this sort of whimsical narrative about living free. It features poverty on an extraordinary level and characters that seem so real that I hardly noticed they were actors. I suppose my issue with this film is based on exactly that. With acting this good, why throw in the fantastical elements? It breaks the flow of the film and casts a net of confusion over the audience. At one point in the movie, my wife and I looked at each other, put the film on pause, and wondered why giant pigs were wandering the countryside and eating each other? (Watch the movie and see if that part gives you pause as well.) I dislike films that break the illusion and remind you that it is just a movie. I also dislike movies where I fail to understand what exactly they are saying. In this case, giant prehistoric boars apparently must bear witness to Hushpuppy standing up for herself and taking command of her life. At least, I think so…
It is this confusion that I find odd, namely because it is nominated for such prestigious awards. 3 of the Big 5 nominations does “Beasts” have now. Of course, “Black Swan” was nominated along those lines as well. It makes me wonder just how this film will fare on Sunday night. My prediction: 0 wins. I don’t understand why it was nominated as such, other than all other films simply failed to live up to the Academy’s expectations. It certainly will not win against “Lincoln” for Best Picture or against David O. Russell for Best Director.
As for young Quvenzhané Wallis, she is delightful. She brings this serious side to an impoverished youth’s tale, and I believed her 100%. Her capability in this is significant – obviously, since she was nominated for an Oscar! However, I think she won’t win simply because she is too young. Giving such an award to someone so young is something I disagree with. Let her win something less prestigious. I’m sorry but Oscars are what actors wait their whole life for. At age 9, she hasn’t had to wait for much. Oh, and by the by, this is her first movie. She has a piece of Oscar history to her name now, so let that be enough. Also, Wallis is going up against some mighty talent (ahem, Jennifer Lawrence wins!) in this category anyway.
Regardless, I think “Beasts” is an interesting film. It was a bit confusing and it broke the illusion, but it was still a fascinating story to watch unfold. Although a kid is featured in this movie, the material is far too adult for any viewers of a similar age. The film has a slow pace and very little in the way of excitement. Still, it is oddly entertaining.
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.