Saturday, February 20, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Julie & Julia

Number of Nominations: 1 (Best Actress - Meryl Streep)
Availability in the US: DVD, Blu-ray

Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, co-nominees last year for Doubt, shine once again in this lighthearted true story. Julie & Julia tells the story of two women in two different times and places: Julia Child (nominee Meryl Streep) in Paris in 1949, and Julie Powell (Amy Adams) in 2002 New York City. Child's life is glamorous―married to a diplomat, taking classes in Paris―while Powell lives the banal life of a civil servant in NYC after 9/11. As the story weaves back and forth between Paris and New York, we see Child writing drafts of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Powell trying to cook her way through it in a year, while blogging about her efforts. The two women, though very different, share a love for writing and for cooking. They both have wonderfully supportive husbands and friends, and both face major setbacks in their respective journeys.

Meryl Streep doesn't just play Julia Child, she channels her. Anyone who has ever seen Child (or for that matter Dan Akroyd's classic SNL impression of her) is bound to be struck by how realistic her portrayal is. Steep's Child isn't merely an impression, though; she packs an emotional punch as she faces the challenges of learning to cook and trying to get published.

As always, Meryl Streep turned in an Oscar-worthy performance in Julie & Julia, but she's got some stiff competition to beat if she's going to win the actual award. This is Streep's 15th Oscar nomination―before she came along, the record for acting nominations was 12, held for decades by Katherine Hepburn―and she shows no signs of slowing down. Though Streep has only won two Oscars (to Hepburn's four) she is seen by many as having already been well recognized by the Academy. Though I don't think it is impossible that she will win again at some point, no one can say she's not been given her due.

On the whole, Julie & Julia is a fun and entertaining film, made compelling by the strength of its two lead actresses.

Grade: A

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