Tanel Toom’s The Confession and Michael Creagh’s The Crush, a kids-with-killer-instincts double bill from the British Isles, were ruled out early by the four of us who watched all the nominees in this category. The former, seemingly made with My First Michael Haneke® tracing paper, features one more odious plot twist than the latter, but if it’s infinitely less reprehensible than The Crush in the end, it’s because it has a fantastic lead performance from Lewis Howlett, a guilt-ridden cherub of a boy worried about making his first confession, to counterbalance the considerably less accomplished turn by the portly, carrot-topped Joe Eales, a wee Phillip Seymour Hoffman who exits the film in a fashion that may gratify more than it shocks. A rather contrived take on how Catholic guilt takes root in young lives, The Confession is handsomely made and, unlike The Crush, more than just a fucked-up stunt, but we’ve made the mistake before of picking the most self-serious nominee in the bunch and calling it a day.
Witness (#1–10 of 2)
Now that Martin Scorsese has his long-elusive Oscar (never the final arbiter of talent, though those with talent rarely appear displeased to win one), is Peter Weir now our best living director—or, at least, the most nominated—yet to take home the gold statue? One of the forerunners of modern Australian cinema, now internationally acclaimed, Weir is nevertheless rarely mentioned in the same breath as Malick, De Palma or others among his peers. The reasons for this can be argued (and I have a few ideas that I get into below); but comparatively lacking in enthusiasts does not negate a remarkable body of work, as rich and varied as one could hope for from a filmmaker.