In the days leading up to the Oscars, Sentimental Movie Marathon will take a look at each of the Best Picture Nominees. This is OSCAR BONANZA: TOO MUCH FILM IN YO’ FACE. Let us revisit An Education, a swell movie!
1. WHAT IS AN EDUCATION?
As discussed on this very blog (this one!), An Education is a coming-of-age-tale focused on Carey Mulligan’s Jenny. She has to deal with familial pressure, school pressure, the expectations of her friends, scrutiny from Oxford, and even Peter Sarsgaard’s mature desire for her young snatch (too far, I am sorry). The whole scenario also takes place in the early 1960’s, before BEATLE-MANIA and after the Great War, but contemporaneous to Audrey Hepburn haircuts. A strong cast is anchored by the young and bright Carey Mulligan, who is rewarded for her role with this
2. WHAT DOES AN EDUCATION HAVE GOING FOR IT?
Lots of stuff! First and foremost, Carey Mulligan is delightful. A delight! While it seems that Hollywood has reduced teenaged girls to either objects of desire or trying-hard-to-be-quirky caricatures, Mulligan bucks all that with an earnest and natural portrayal of a young woman at a formative stage in her life. While innocence is lost, it is not lost in an over-the-top fashion. The audience gets to know Jenny as a clever, open-minded, and real person, and she does not drop those characteristics during the trying moments of the film.
Even though Jenny is the central character, the rest of the cast does not falter in their roles. Alfred Molina, Emma Thompson, Peter Sarsgaard, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams, and Dominic Cooper never slack. In creating the film’s reality, Mulligan’s performance may not have worked if all those around her did not play their parts with the same sincerity and focus. Gold stars all around!
Plus, it’s a period piece set in the 1960’s which is all the rage cough*Mad Men*cough.
3. WHAT WILL TURN AN EDUCATION INTO AN OSCAR LOSER?
In a vacuum, An Education works very well as the story of a girl growing up. In reference to the other movies this year, An Education and Jenny’s story seems almost trivial. The general air of happiness and positivity that mark An Education stand in stark contrast to the dark realities of Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire. While they are very different films, the commonalities (stories from another time, incredible performances from lead actresses) emphasize the differences in a way that reflects poorly on An Education‘s levity.
The chances of An Education may also suffer because it is the least identifiable of any of the ten Best Picture nominees. Since it was not as widely released as the other films, An Education loses some of the buzz that the other contenders have.
4. WILL I TOTALLY LOSE MY SHIT IF AN EDUCATION WINS?
I think An Education is a deserving nominee. It winning the Best Picture award would probably be the biggest shock of any of the nominees winning. I mean, if the genre nominees won, I could see a bunch of shock, but I think An Education‘s absence of OSCAR STORYLINE DRAMA makes it the most unlikely nominee. If it won, I would be all for it. Good job, An Education. Let’s have celebratory Oscar tea, because Britain!