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Bridge of Spies: Cold Bore
By Alex Carrigan
*Editor's Note: This article is part of a series written by Alex Carrigan about this year's Academy Award nominated films. To see the rules for this challenge and to find other articles related to it, go to this page.
Something interesting happened once I finished Bridge of Spies. I left my room once it ended to go into my kitchen and make some tea. In the living room, my roommate was watching Song of the Sea, an Irish animated film from 2014 that was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the last Academy Awards. I came in for the last ten minutes of that film, and although I only vaguely knew what the story was about from reading about the movie last year, I was able to go along with the story. It was very visually impressive, with a great blend of hand drawn animation, music, atmosphere, and emotional resonance. I even found myself tearing up during this.
I was also at this moment that I realized the last ten minutes of a movie I just walked into were a lot more visually appealing and emotionally gripping than the 141 minute Steven Spielberg period drama I just watched. That's when everything changed for me.
Bridge of Spies is a historical drama about lawyer James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) and several cases he's involved in from 1957-1960. Donovan was tasked to defend a Soviet spy, and later had to handle negotiations to trade the same spy for an American pilot the Soviet Union was holding. The film follows Donovan as he handles these cases, trying to stay true to his beliefs in justice and law in the face of Cold War aggression and conflict from both sides.
I thought I had trouble getting through Brooklyn yesterday, but Bridge of Spies ended up being even more of a slog to get through. I may have given Brooklyn a hard time for getting its plot going and for not doing too much with its story, but the film had a more artistic eye to it and a more intriguing central role. Saoirse Ronan carried Brooklyn, and the actress showed how far ahead of her age group she is and how successful she'll be down the line.
I didn't get anything like that from Bridge of Spies. I got a standard Tom Hanks central role that can be traded with any of his performances in the last twenty years. I got a story that was entirely predictable, even if you didn't know it was based on a true story. I got a script that, while written by decent writers (the Coen Brothers!), didn't have a lot of charm or thought behind it. It was a very by-the-note period drama. It felt like Spielberg and company were only trying to reach the minimum amount of effort to get award season buzz, and it was eaten up.
Bridge of Spies has six nominations, and I don't even think it could win a single one. There wasn't anything bad with how their Production Design or Original Screenplay were done, but they also don't really stand out compared to the other nominees. Probably the one thing it could win is Supporting Actor for Mark Rylance, and I doubt that's likely. I really don't see it winning Best Picture, which is probably why it falls to the very bottom of my ranking.
Overall, Bridge of Spies isn't a bad movie, but it's not a very good one. It's almost textbook Oscar bait with how everything was played out. It feels like one of those movies that exists to be only watched in classrooms when a teacher wants to shorthand history lessons. But even then, there are so many better movies to watch that deal with the Cold War, like The Third Man or Dr. Strangelove, and those films aren't even by-the-numbers recounts of real events. There's really no reason to watch this movie, not even for the Oscar race. It's just not worth the time, and it's certainly not worth the accolades.
2nd: Mad Max: Fury Road
3rd: The Revenant
4th: The Martian
6th: Bridge of Spies
Tomorrow: I depend on The Big Short to pull me out of this rut and make me actually understand the 2008 financial crisis. Seriously, I don't get it.
#Real #BridgeOfSpies #AlexCarrigan #OscarChallenge #AcademyAwards #Film #MoviesMoveMe
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