Sunday, January 27, 2008

Popcorn: Juno

If you've been reading my blogs since the beginning (i.e., college) you know I love the Oscars. Love them. Am sort of obsessed with them. :) And this year, even if there may not be a "show", is no different, so I have begun the annual trek to see all of the nominated pictures, but this year I am also going to try to see all the nominees for the acting awards as well, which makes the list substantially longer.

I have already seen Ratatouille (up for Best Animated Feature), and I am watching La Vie En Rose at home, which has netted Marian Cottilard a nomination for Best Actress. Yesterday I saw my first Best Picture Nominee--Juno--with my parents.

Ellen Page (Hard Candy) stars as Juno MacGuff, a 17 year old Minnesota teenager who gets pregnant after sleeping with her boyfriend, Paulie (Michael Cera). At first, sh visits an abortion clinic, but the attitude of the receptionist, along with running into a classmate protesting outside the clinic, makes her consider adoption. She and her best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby) scan the papers for parents, finally settling on Vanessa and Mark Loring, a young, wealthy couple. After Juno breaks the news to her parents (JK Simmons and a superb Allison Janney), she and her father go to meet the family and arrange fro an open adoption.

As the pregnancy progresses, Juno spends more time hanging out with Mark and sharing their mutual love of music. She also becomes closer to Vanessa, whose desperation to be a mother touches Juno. She wants a "perfect" family for her baby, but as the film progresses, we see that Mark and Vanessa may not be this family after all.

Ellen Page gives an authentic, nuanced and extremely funny portrayal of a teenager who wants to the do the right thing by her baby but is also trying to be a "normal" high school kid. Oliva Thirlby and Michael Cera hit just the right notes are her bubbly best friend and the somewhat shy, bumbling boyfriend. Page's nomination for best actress is truly deserved.

Director Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking) directs another ensemble cast in a quirky take on modern America with an indie guitar soundtrack, unusual cinematography, and a fantastic cast.

One nitpicky note: Mark asks Juno how she got her name, and she says her father named her after Zeus' wife. Zeus' wife is Hera, and they are from Greek mythology. Juno is Jove's wife, in Roman mythology. Yes, a picky English Major note. :)

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