It seems a bit presumptuous to review a movie that has just received the Academy Award for Best Picture. Sadly, I did not see this one until a couple of days after the Academy Awards ceremony. This review will instead focus on what I feel made it a good choice for the Academy Award.
First area of discussion is the direction. While I am not sure if he should have won, Ben Affleck definitely should have been nominated. Affleck’s directing choices made this movie what it is. The choice to film it as if it was being filmed in 1979-1981 was brilliant. This gave the movie a feel of realism that today’s cameras would have missed. I liked the inclusion of the 70s/80s style Warner Bros logo; that one touch helped establish the look and feel of the movie. Affleck went for as close to reality as he could get in casting and cinematography. I did like the inclusion of the side-by-side comparisons of cast and scenes to real-life documents that played through the closing credits – it reinforces the attention to detail that Affleck put into making this story come to life.
Casting was also key to this movie working. Several known character actors and names appear throughout the movie and deliver each time. Affleck faced a daunting challenge in not letting any of these actors run away with the movie while getting the most out of their performances. Directors wanting an example of how to work with a large ensemble and producing a good product should have this as one their top 5 examples.
My advice: See it on the big screen if you can to get a good feel for the cinematography – if you choose to see it at home, that is fine – just make sure to see it…