Daniel Day Lewis Won an Oscar for This?

Saturday night last I encouraged my husband to choose the movie we would watch. We have a stack because the bookmobile doesn’t run during the Christmas break and we wanted to be prepared. We don’t watch television, but we are movie addicts.

Rob’s choice was There Will Be Blood. Critically acclaimed. Won a couple of Oscars. Historical, and we love historical.

But three hours later, not only have we not watched anything other than a lot of disconnected scenes- but thankfully sequential in a chronological way -that didn’t really tell a story, I learned almost nothing about the early wildcatting days in the U.S.

A terrible movie is bad enough, but when I watch period piece and learn nothing about the time period – my time has been more than wasted.

“I rubbed you nearly the whole movie,” Rob pointed out when I complained.

Well this was true. One of the best things about movie night in bed (as opposed to on the sofa where I assure you I wouldn’t have sat for 3 hours watching Mr. Lewis “dazzle” me with yet another character study disguised as a movie) is that I get my back and bum rubbed. A woman can endure much for a good rubbing down.

Rob was disappointed by the lack of story too but his Virgo nature just won’t let him quit.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were bored?”

“Because it’s better to just watch the whole dull mess than to watch you silently fret about not having finished watching an awful movie. You still aren’t over the fact that we didn’t finish Grosse Pointe Blank even though you have seen it before.”

“I was okay with not finishing The Other Boelyn Girl,” he countered. Another film that was an affront to the history teacher in me.

“That’s only because it was chick flickish.”

I could have headed the whole thing off before we’d even checked the movie out because I’d read a review by a book publisher whose blog I follow which summed it up neatly. No plot. But Rob had been wanting to see it for a while and I can’t feed him a steady diet of romantic comedies and widow movies. He needs the occasional man movie and well, Iron Man has a waiting list that stretches into the summer.

“I think I should pick the movies from now on,” I said.

“Did I ever tell you the story of the time I went to the video store to pick our films by myself?”

“You were never allowed to do that again, were you?”

He laughed because I know him too well.

“Nope, I came home with Judge Dredd and Species.”

In case you haven’t seen There Will Be Blood, it’s about an oilman in the early part of the 20th century in California. The story, such as it is, is episodically told and there is so little dialog I felt as though I was watching a silent film at times (probably I was supposed to – you know – because it was “art”). But the characters are an unlikable lot and Lewis “emotes” a lot. 

I know that film is also about the look. It’s a moving painting in a way. But without good story-telling, it might as well simply hang on a wall. Good films blend the visual with plot. This film was not that good.


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7 thoughts on “Daniel Day Lewis Won an Oscar for This?

  1. Actually I’m a huge Daniel Day-Lewis fan and also was disappointed in the film, but not for the same reason. As far as not learning anything, I feel that isn’t correct. We learned how rough it was to eek a living from hacking silver out of a hole deep in the earth, and how oil rigging was first developed. DDL doesn’t really “emote” all that much as you have stated. Rather it’s too subtle, IMO, until the very end when Plainview is losing his mind. I thought the last scene was actually fantastic in it’s over the top insanity. But not all movies are viewed the same by all people…….and that’s what makes the world go roun.

    I think it’s more that I didn’t learn anything about that particular area in that time period. The depiction of the early oil extraction was good but my husband is in the petrochemical field, so he clarified a lot of what I was seeing. I do count the subtle stuff as emoting. I just felt it was the DDL show, a character study and not a story. But you are right, interpretations will vary and that is as it should be.

  2. I’m sort of one of those people that has to sit and watch the whole, dumb thing. I’ve even done it with really, REALLY bad B-movies. I don’t know why. It’s a compulsion. If I’ve started it, I have to finish it, no matter how lousy the POS is.

  3. My Rob brought this one home, too. It wasn’t until your description of the 1920s oilman that I realized I had seen a part of it, too. Barely memorable, but there is a young boy in it, I think? I think I bailed on watching the bulk of it.

    BTW, how do you get your bum rubbed while in bed? Aren’t you lying on it?

    Per bum rubbing, I am on my side with my head on Rob’s shoulder. It’s a position that makes actual movie watching in a theatre my third choice with sofa at number two.

  4. We were disappointed in this film, too. I wonder about the politics with some of the Academy Awards when in my mind there were more deserving films and actors.

  5. A few things: It’s good to sit through bad movies because it gives you perspective. When you finally see a good movie, you realize just how good it is. I liked There Will Be Blood. I saw it in a theater, though. Not in bed. Does the venue make a difference? I think so. Must a period piece actually teach you something? Can it not merely entertain? That’s a lot to expect of every period piece ever filmed.

    I must learn. It’s the latent history teacher in me. And why can’t a period piece be entertaining AND enlightening? I don’t think that is asking too much. If fact I think it is the mark of a great story and a good film maker. Venue? Bed is number one for me.

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