Saturday, November 14, 2009

Latest Oscar-winner seen: Room at the Top (1959)

This movie was not as depressing as I expected it to be. I mean I love the movies of the British New Wave so much: Saturday Night, Sunday Morning or The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner were so wonderful. I just loved their unique atmosphere with the smoking chimneys, the ugly houses and the workers. This movie was a bit light for me, although sometimes it was depressing as hell.
It's about an accountant (Laurence Harvey), who wants to be rich. Soon he starts going out with the girl of a rich factory owner but after all he falls in love with an older, married woman (played by Simone Signoret).
To tell the truth, I heard many times that only Laurence Harvey is leading and Signoret is more of supporting. Well, I think those who say that are wrong. My definition of lead: the character is crucial to the story and the actor carries the movie on his/her shoulders. Of course the story's main character is Harvey but Signoret, in my opinion is the co-lead.
Now enough about this. Let's start with the Oscar-winning screenplay: I think it did not deserve the win even though it's very good, I just feel that Anatomy of a Murder deserved to win much more. The directing is very good and worthy of the nomination.
And the performances (prepare, this is going to be long): Laurence Harvey gives a very charismatic lead performance, worthy of a nomination, but not a win. He's very good in some scenes, but I don't think this is the best of his (unfortunately not that long) career. I think his best movie was The Manchurian Candidate.
I've been so lucky lately with Best Actress performances. The 90 per cent of the actresses I saw lately deserved their awards. But in this case there's an exception: my expectations were very high considering the fact who won for this movie: Simone Signoret, one of the greatest actresses ever. She doesn't disappoint at all, oh no, she gives such a beautiful and subtle, yet powerful performance as the agining Alice Aisgill that she was worthy of all those awards she received for Room at the Top. In fact, she's my #8 winner in this category.
The supporting cast: Heather Sears gives a performance which is not worth mentioning because she pales in comparison with her brilliant co-stars. However the performance of Donald Wolfit is very strong and worth mentioning. Hermione Baddeley received a nomination for her very-very brief performance (3 minutes or so), which might just MIGHT have been worthy (well, if Thelma Ritter and Doris Day were nominated for Pillow Talk, than she deserved the nomination too).
Ok, this was a very good and enjoyable movie. Another member of the should-see list.
My grade: 8.5/10
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Jack Clayton); Best Actor (Laurence Harvey); Best Actress (Simone Signoret, WON); Best Supporting Actress (Hermione Baddeley); Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (WON)
My wins: Best Actress (Simone Signoret, one of the best winners ever)

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