When I went to Sundance this year I thought that the programming of a movie then called Push was a BS move calculated to get Mariah Carey and thus a bunch of paparazzi to Park City. Then I heard from Greg Ellwood of HitFix.com that the movie was dynamite, and braving a screening myself I found that Greg was underselling it. Push, now called Precious, is a heartbreaking, shattering movie that is unafraid to go to the darkest places possible, but never feels like it’s wallowing (read my Sundance review here).
Precious won the jury award and the audience award at Sundance. This past week it also won the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival (there are no jury awards at TIFF), making it possibly the first film to ever win both. And as Roger Ebert points out, this makes Precious a serious front-runner for the Oscars.
I’m excited at the prospect. This is a real life story, one that is about a world most Oscar voters will never truly know, but without being exploitative. The movie is certainly a weepie, but it never feels sentimentally obvious; in fact this is likely the only Oprah-approved movie you’ll ever see that will gutpunch you as hard as Requiem for a Dream. This also means that Mo’Nique probably a lock for Best Supporting Actress. You may find that shocking, but she’s the Evil Queen to Hans Landa’s Evil King this year. Also a strong possibility for an award is Gabourey (Gabby) Sidibe, the unknown actress who plays the lead.
This is something to be excited about. Precious isn’t standard Hollywood Oscar bullshit. This is a movie that’s unique and tough and honest. Seeing it begin the long awards season march is exhilarating to any real film fan.