Monday, April 4, 2011

Best Picture Project 3, Driving Miss Daisy

Well look at that, we are already on post three of our Best Picture Project! This is going to take a while. Anyways, next week we will be talking about No Country for Old Men, in case you are trying to keep up. This link will take you to a special page with all our BPP posts all in one place. How wonderful technology is.

Driving Miss Daisy,1989

This is certainly a movie I would have never seen if not for our Best Picture Project. I knew very little about this film, but while looking it up on Netflix (it was on Instant Play… HECK YES!), I saw that Morgan Freeman was in it. I have always agreed to the notion that “you can’t go wrong with Morgan Freeman,” and this movie was certainly no exception.

(SPOILERS AHEAD… if you like to be completely surprised, stop reading, go to your Netflix account and add Driving Miss Daisy to your cue now! Seriously do it!)

The film revolves around an elderly, Jewish woman, Daisy, played by Jessica Tandy, and her hired (against her will) African American driver, Hoke (Freeman). At the beginning of the movie, Daisy could be described as a high maintenance, grouchy, old woman, but we see that she is a truly caring individual as the film progresses. Throughout the movie, Daisy slowly begins to open up to Hoke, and the two form an incredible friendship that transcends the line of class and race. Perhaps the most impacting scene of their relationship is where Daisy realizes that Hoke cannot read, and she ends up teaching him.

The movie does a fantastic job of showing the time-line progression. It never really says the year, but shows that time has passed through calendar shots, upgraded cars, clothing styles and current events (like the civil rights movement) going on. Several years pass through and with each year, you really see the strong bond that Hoke and Daisy have. As someone who has dealt with a grandparent suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, the end of the movie was particularly hard for me to watch. After a spell of confusion more than likely effected by her dementia, you really see how much Hoke cares for Daisy. Once she is calmed, Daisy turns to Hoke and tells him that he is her “best friend.” It is just such a MOVING moment in the film. (I already cried during the aforementioned reading scene), but this totally brought on the water works (first BPP movie so far to make me cry!). Later as the years pass, we see that Daisy has been put into a care facility. When Hoke, who is shown to be quite aged himself (so much so that his granddaughter is now driving him), visits Daisy at the facility, it seems at first that she is not lucid. But, in a quick moment Daisy tells her son that Hoke came to visit her and the two go on to have one of their typical conversations and the movie ends. This was a perfect ending to me as it truly showed the depth of their friendship. I also was relieved they didn’t take the cliché route and end with either Hoke or Daisy dying.

Overall acting in this movie was top notch. Freeman and Tandy were amazing and even Dan Aykroyd pulled off a phenomenal performance. I love Aykroyd, but I never thought of him as a “serious” actor until now seeing how the movies I know him from include Ghostbusters and My Girl.

So to conclude, Driving Miss Daisy was well deserving of its Best Picture win. I am so pleased that the husband and I began this project, otherwise I would never have seen such a remarkable, touching film.

The Wife-

I’m having some trouble writing about this one. Don’t get me wrong it’s a fine film worthy of all praise and awards. It’s just not to kind of movie I usually watch and try to break down. But I guess that’s the point of this whole project, right? Sometimes we might miss stuff that truly moves us just because the film isn’t our normal thing. The Wife touched on most of the main story points, so I’m not going to bore you with repetition. But I do need to start somewhere, instead of this asinine stalling.

 I seem to remember one of my college professors remarking while teaching a popular culture film class that "I liked this movie. It was good!" was the worst thing you could ever say about a movie. "How descriptive!" I have vowed to never use it. Well guess what? Driving Miss Daisy was good and I liked it. Why? Well the acting was top notch. If I had money I'd pay Morgan Freeman to come to my house and read me bed time stories every night. His voice is just awesome. Before this film, I don't think I had seen Jessica Tandy play in anything else. She is very good as well. Although, how hard is it to play a grumpy old person; I do it every day! Where is my Oscar? The story was heart warming, original and I think based in some truth. The older the movies get the more I notice the huge difference in pace in older movies compared to today's almost strobe light films. "Wait, you mean they aren't going to cut from close up, back to far shot, then to super close up on eyes and back in under five seconds?" Some people may have problems with this, I love it. I can't wait to get even older movies that hold scene without a cut for minutes!

I'm off topic. So does this movie deserve the Best Picture honor? Yes, I suppose it does. I went back and looked at what else was nominated, and I only recognized two other films from that year and I haven't seen either. I guess that counts for something that even before seeing Driving Miss Daisy I'd at least heard of it before.

Hobo Dan-

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