We are HUGE movie fans in this family. Often, if we have a free weekend day or two, you can find us at one of the two movie theaters that are conveniently located within about six minutes of our house. Checking out a movie is an easy afternoon getaway, and one of our theaters even serves lunch and dinner in addition to popcorn and candy, so it’s a great way to spend date night.
I’m not sure if it’s because we’re just easy to please, because we let ourselves be carried away/entertained by what’s on the big screen rather than analyze every little thing in hopes of discovering plot holes or other mistakes, or because the movies on which we choose to spend our (pocketfuls of, OMG) money are truly wonderful, but we have picked very well in the past couple of months. Last month we enjoyed “Interstellar”, “Wild”, and “Unbroken”.
This weekend we saw two absolutely fantastic movies—one today and one yesterday—both of which I would recommend as required viewing for every American, and each of them having been treated very differently by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
—Don’t worry, there are no spoilers in this post.—
First, “American Sniper”. We saw this amazing film yesterday and it will stick with me for a long time. It stars a super-beefed up Bradley Cooper and a brunette Sienna Miller, and was directed by Clint Eastwood. The film tells the true story of Chris Kyle, the deadlist marksman in the history of the United States military, with 160 confirmed kills. There were impactful moments throughout the more-than-two-hours of this movie, but what stood out the most to me was the portrayal of the sacrifices—physical AND mental—that are made by not only the members of our military but also their spouses.
Image: Warner Bros.
Jim was in the Navy for ten years. He was on an aircraft carrier in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm and was in an extremely safe place compared to those on the front lines. Back in those days there was no email and there were no cell phones; we had to rely on the post office as well as occasional HAM radio calls. I’m not sure what’s better: being mostly ignorant about his daily goings-on as I was, or being able to stay connected as much as today’s military families are. My heart ached for Sienna Miller, who played Chris’ wife Taya, throughout the film.
Watching Chris’ story was heart-wrenching but eye-opening. The people who defend our country’s freedoms every day are superheroes.
“American Sniper” received six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor (Cooper), and Best Adapted Screenplay. Surprisingly, Clint Eastwood was snubbed in the Best Director category.
Today Jim and I saw “Selma”, the film about the fight FOR freedoms which begins with the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and tells the story of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery (Alabama) voting rights marches, led by Martin Luther King Jr. and other members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, along with John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Image: Paramount Pictures
Watching the film was very emotional for many reasons, especially in light of the recent events in Ferguson. It’s amazing to me that, as recently as fifty years ago, Black Americans did not have the right to vote. We have come so far in fifty years but at the same time we have so much further to go in order for everyone to be truly treated equally in this country. I believe that in order to move forward, we do need to take the time to look back at what once was.
My friend Alexandra wrote a much better summary of why you and your over-aged-thirteen kids should see this movie than I could have, so I’m linking it here. My favorite line? “These films are needed to capture and cast open the cost, which was high, of the story of Americans wanting to be accepted as Americans.” They are NEEDED. You NEED to go see this movie.
The movie, directed by Ava DuVernay and starring David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, and Oprah Winfrey (with appearances by the likes of Common, Martin Sheen, Cuba Gooding Jr. and many more!) was not looked on as favorably by the members of the Academy, who are 94% white and 76% men; it was only nominated for Best Picture and Best Song. That’s it. Deb Rox wrote a great call-to-action post over on BlogHer in which she implores you to support this movie by buying tickets to see it, especially this weekend as we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (I know that my theater has plenty of matinee showings tomorrow, with it being a national holiday. I bet yours does, too.)
Two great films, two important historical tales. It’s time for popcorn, you guys. Go see them.