Midnight In Paris: The Oscar’s Diamond In The Rough

Posted on March 17, 2012 by

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By Joseph Nawn

   With the 84th Academy Awards now over it becomes clear that 2011 was really a great year for movies. Films such as The Artist, Hugo, War Horse, Moneyball, and The Tree Of Life left audiences in awe and were justly awarded for their contributions to cinematic history. However, with movies like The Artist and Hugo virtually sweeping the Academy Awards some of the other films nominated got swept under the rug. Among them was the new Woody Allen film, Midnight In Paris.

Having been nominated for four Academy Awards in the areas of Best Art Direction, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture it only took home one Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. However, in my opinion the Academy chose the right film to be the victor in this category and the only other film nominated for Best Original Screenplay that would have even been able to contend with it would have been The Artist.

The film itself centers around its protagonist, Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), who is on vacation in Paris, France with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), and her family. Wilson’s character is a successful Hollywood writer who wants to try his hand at writing real literature. He continually romanticizes the past and idolizes, in particular, the 1920’s while his soon to be wife played by McAdams is to put in laymen’s terms the exact opposite. While attempting to find his way back to the hotel drunk one night Wilson sees an antique car pull up at midnight with a number of people telling him to get in the car. He does so and finds that he is in the 1920’s amongst some of his greatest idols such as Ernest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Salvador Dalí.

Not wanting to give too much away I will say that from this point on the real story unfolds. Through the help of some of his literary idols Wilson is able to find out more about himself and help change for the better throughout the film.

In addition to the very unique original screenplay the film also features an all-star cast that normally one would not expect. Some of the big names include Owen Wilson (The Darjeeling Limited, Zoolander), Rachel McAdams (Wedding Crashers, The Notebook), Adrien Brody (The Pianist), Marion Cottilard (Inception, La Vie En Rose), and Kathy Bates (Titanic, About Schmidt) and many more including the wife of the President of France Carla Bruni. Each of these stars and all of the lesser known actors involved in the film did a fantastic job at keeping the audience’s interest through acting that was nothing short of brilliant. However I must say that Marion Cottilard and Owen Wilson seemed to stand out more so in their roles and their chemistry on screen was captivating.

The film features a score by Stephane Wrembel who surprisingly had almost no experience in composing film scores. Allen seemed to have picked the right man for the job however, as this French-born jazz guitarist made an entirely fitting score that left the audience in a state of French ecstasy.

All-in-all I would give the film a 9 out of 10. The unique screenplay gives audiences almost a new kind of genre to enjoy that ends up being somewhere between romantic comedy and science fiction. The star-studded cast allows the audience to enjoy some of their favorite actors in a role that they normally aren’t used to seeing them in but nonetheless wholeheartedly enjoy. On top of all this the directing mixed with original score seems flawless and will undoubtedly be remembered as one of Woody Allen’s greatest films. So while you’re seeing films like The Artist and Hugo don’t forget some of the other films nominated. In my opinion Midnight In Paris is undoubtedly the most underrated gem of 2011 and I would recommend it to anyone who loves films or enjoys classic literature.

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