We saw the Oscar nominated film Doubt the other night. Normally, I like to see as many of the major Academy Award contenders before the awards show airs as it did a few weeks ago, but it’s usually not possible to see every single one in time. Even though it didn’t win any of the 5 Oscars for which it was nominated, the buzz that surrounded Doubt was so intriguing that we decided to check it out.
For a movie being based primarily on dialogue, it is very fast-paced. I was never bored, which is something I can’t say about a Good Will Hunting, an Oscar winning movie we watched last week. Good Will Hunting a long movie, so it took us two nights to watch it, and I fell asleep both nights during the movie. Not that it was a horrible movie; I don’t know much about it – I was sleeping!
Ok, back from the Oscar tangent, back to Doubt. This movie is based on a stage play, and the author of the play also wrote the screenplay and directed the film version; which I think is very important so nothing was lost in the translation between stage and screen. The story is compelling; it’s about a Catholic school in 1964 where the principal, a nun brilliantly portrayed by Meryl Streep, suspects the priest is having an inappropriate relationship with the school’s only African-American student. Amy Adams portrays Sister James, a naive freshman nun who is caught in the middle of the conflict. Amy Adams is one of the actors from this movie who was nominated for an Oscar, and it’s understandable when you see what a far cry Sister James is from Adams’ purse-selling ex-cheerleader Katy on The Office or the character Leslie Miller from her first film, the teen beauty pageant spoof Drop Dead Gorgeous from 1999. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was excellent in Doubt also; hardly recognizable from the 1990’s roles where I saw him previously in the movies Twister and Leap of Faith. It’s easy to see how Viola Davis received her Oscar nomination for Doubt as well – she had lines in just one scene in the entire movie, but her performance was excellent, however short on screen time. You win some and you lose some, which explains how those 3 actors walked away without their Academy Awards. Inexplicable, however, is how Meryl Streep did not win an Oscar for Doubt. True, I haven’t seen The Reader with Kate Winslet, the actress who won the Leading Actress Oscar instead of Meryl Streep. I did see Changeling with Angelina Jolie who was also nominated, and judging by the phenomenal performances of Streep and Jolie and the fact that Winslet was the winner, I might just have to see The Reader. I loved Angelina Jolie in Changeling, and I’m not usually a fan of hers, so that says something. I loved Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, but honestly, I used to think Hollywood had a strange habit of sucking up to Meryl Streep. How can she be THAT good, I would wonder… until I saw Doubt. She IS “that good”.
I can see where this movie would make an excellent stage play. But after seeing 4 of the most talented actors out there portraying the lead roles on the big screen, who would even want to be compared to that by staging a live theatrical production of Doubt?