Sarah 37, Death Race 19; 17 of 24 categories completed
I liked it more than I'd expected to, but the guiding structural principle — the three plot strands that converge at the end — felt like a workshop exercise. The Marie strand is markedly less interesting than the others, but it's more that, generally, it's going around the block to get to the house next door.
Hereafter features another solid, lived-in performance from Matt Damon, though, which invests you in the outcome and de-cheeses the proceedings to a significant extent. The reading he does with Marcus (Frankie or George McLaren; IMDb is unclear) is wonderful, not least because Damon has to carry the scene — the McLaren twin on duty for that sequence is good elsewhere, but not up to the task of believable crying. Damon is doing what he always does: giving you the entire character, not just the two or three loudest notes. He's not afraid to let George have a sense of humor or a grumpy moment or any other trait that a "has second sight" character brief wouldn't suggest right away. It's why his character in the Ocean's movies is so funny, it's why his Mr. Ripley is so squicky, it's why the anti-Semite he plays in School Ties, somewhat cartoonish on paper, is loathsome and pitiable. When you look at the Damon roster of characters, for the most part, it's not characters. It's recognizable guys.
Bryce Dallas Howard is also quite good here. The Melanie character, while deftly pitched by both actress and script, is a skinned knee with bangs, standing too close, not catching the snap, and it's cringe-tastic, but the movie makes a couple of unexpectedly smart choices with that subplot.
It has some nice work in it, but again, there's the static feeling of an assignment. The pacing is inconsistent, stately here and abrupt there, and it could have lost a few of the more predictable Marie scenes. It's up for Best Visual Effects, and I doubt it wins, but I imagine the nomination is for the tsunami sequence, which is gripping. (Could have done without the floating teddy bear, though. We get it, Clint.)
Tags: Bryce Dallas Howard Clint Eastwood Frankie or George McLaren Hereafter Matt Damon movies Oscars 2011 Death Race