Oscar Talk: The Town

I first saw a preview for The Town along with a preview of The Social Network. The theater manager introduced the trailers as the movies that were currently getting the most Oscar buzz, and to me, both trailers did that buzz justice.

The Social Network is going to clean up at the Academy Awards on Sunday–it’s the film I have my fingers crossed for. But what happened to all that hype for The Town, Ben Affleck? I can’t help but feel bad for the poor guy. He’s had his hand in some critical successes–Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone–but people still sort of laugh when they talk about Ben Affleck.

The Town was nominated for only one Academy Award (Jeremy Renner for Best Supporting Actor), but this movie really had quality all the way around. Affleck and Renner gave strong performances, but so did Rebecca Hall as Affleck’s girlfriend, Mad Men’s Jon Hamm as the FBI agent hellbent on taking the crew down, and (surprisingly) Blake Lively as Renner’s trashy sister and Affleck’s former love interest. The screenplay, which Affleck co-wrote, is adapted from the novel The Prince of Thieves. The story is compelling and the dialogue is good. Affleck was praised for his direction–many said The Town showed he has true confidence as a director now.

So why no Oscar love? The movie is really enjoyable. There are no glaring problems with it or things that don’t sit well with me. Its main problem, maybe its only problem, is that it is not unique. Heist movies, mafia movies, crime movies have all been done before, and this movie does not take care to sidestep the cliches. There is nothing about this movie that makes you step back. It has no wow factor.

Sorry, Ben Affleck. Get Matt Damon to help you write the screenplay next time.

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