Watching the beautiful and brilliant film The Help this weekend, I was a sniveling crying mess. That is when I wasn’t laughing like a crazy person or entranced by the luminous and fantastic performances. You see this film based on the best seller by Kathryn Stockett is a must see and by far the best movie of 2011 thus far. Sure this year hasn’t given us too many awards worthy films (aside from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Beginners and Crazy Stupid Love), but irregardless, The Help is bound to be a big Oscar player at year’s end.
The film follows Skeeter (Emma Stone) as she travels home from college to Jackson Mississippi in the early 60′s hoping to become a writer. She sets out to write a book on the experiences of the black maids of her town and the white families they work for. Through the stories of the stoic Aibileene (Viola Davis) and the sassy Minny (Octavia Spencer) and their peers, the film explores what it was really like in the South during the volatile Civil Rights era. And boy does the film deliver. It’s at times hilarious and heartfelt while also harrowing and heartbreaking. The cast is extraordinary led by the Oscar worthy performances of Davis and Spencer who breathe hard worn life into these three-dimensional brave and determined women who are fighting for a better life for their children and themselves. Davis is simply awe-inspiring. With the subtlest of reactions, she could move you to tears. Her strength and conviction are unparalleled and Spencer is a revelation. While she throws off many of the films best one liners (along with a hysterical Sissy Spacek as an older Southern woman fighting dementia and her daughter played with an extreme villainy that is simply horrifying and perfectly executed by Bryce Dallas Howard), she also embodies the abuse that was so unfortunately common at the time. However, she does it with grace and dignity. The other revelatory performance comes from 2011 “It Girl” Jessica Chastain (Tree Of Life, Coriolanus, The Debt) who plays a shunned white trash wife who battles for her own standing in the community. Simply incredible… In fact, I’ll say it again the whole cast was just wonderful with Emma Stone giving her most fully realized performance to date and Allison Janney as her mother delivering a tricky role with ease. (I don’t want to spoil anything for you there). Plus Oscar nominee Cicely Tyson is tremendous in it as well. In fact, you could fill up the whole Oscar Supporting Actress category with women from this film and clearly it will be a front-runner for the SAG Ensemble Award.
So, just where will it stand at the Oscars? Here’s where I think it will be recognized….
Definite Oscar nominations:
Best Actress: Viola Davis (she could go Supporting though)
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer
Best Costume Design
Best Original Song: “The Living Proof”- Mary J. Blige & Thomas Newman (performed by Blige)
Best Original Score
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain
Best Art Direction
Dark Horse but Deserving Nominations:
Best Supporting Actress: Bryce Dallas Howard, Cicely Tyson, Sissy Spacek, Allison Janney
Best Actress: Emma Stone
Best Director: Tate Taylor
I cant recommend this uplifting and empowering and educational film enough. If you have a heart, you will love it. Go see it today and watch for the Awards to start rolling in. Grade: A+
And here’s the trailer for The Help: