The movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is titled incorrectly. The movie should have been named Extremely Good and Incredibly Moving. With a well deserved Academy Award nomination for ‘Best Picture’, this is clearly one of the top 5 movies of the year. In fact, I could make a good argument that this was the best movie of the year and I have seen 8 of the nine ‘Best Picture’ nominees.
In the last few weeks, I saw some terrible reviews for this movie, but I wanted to see for myself. I am glad I did. I don’t know what movie they were watching but this story touched me like no other movie I saw this year. While I was happy that the Academy recognized this picture, I am still shaking my head wondering how they overlooked 14 year old, Thomas Horn’s performance for a ‘Best Actor’ nomination.
Producer Scott Rudin, saw Horn win $31,000 on Jeopardy’s Kids Week and was so impressed by his demeanor that he offered him an audition for the lead role of Oscar Schell. In his first acting role, Horn is on the screen for almost the entire movie. There is a great supporting cast including Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock. Max von Sydow, Viola Davis, John Goodman and others. While these parts were performed beautifully they are relatively small and there is no doubt that the star of this movie is Thomas Horn. His performance was mesmerizing. It was the best acting performance by a young actor since Haley Joel Osment in Sixth Sense.
When I look at some of the ‘Best Actor’ performances that were nominated this year I have to wonder. While I love Brad Pitt and clearly enjoyed the movie Money Ball there is no way that performance deserves an Academy Award nomination. I want to make sure that I don’t overlook the strong performances of other cast members, including Sandra Bullock and Viola Davis who have some fine moments.The Academy also recognized the fine performance of Max von Sydow as the ‘Renter’, and rewarded that performance with a ‘Best Supporting Actor’ nomination.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was adapted by the novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer. In the advertisements for the movie, they say that this isn’t a movie about 09/11 and they are absolutely right. It is a moving story about a nine year old boy, Oskar Schell, (Thomas Horn) who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and how he deals with the sudden death of his father Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks), who dies when he is trapped on the 105th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Scenes from 09/11 will forever evoke a strong emotional response from the audience and the film opens with a body that appears to be falling from the sky and you immediately make the connection that the body is one of many who jumped from the World Trade Center on that fateful day. Thomas Schell had a special connection with his son and prior to his death. They often played scavenger hunt games that give Oskar the task of finding ordinary objects throughout New York City. Thomas intended those games as a learning experience for his son and a way for Thomas to become more social. A year after his death, while exploring his father’s closet, Oskar finds a blue vase with a key in an envelope. Oskar wonders what this key is for and in an effort to keep the memory of his father alive, vows to find the lock that the key will open. Oskar spends the next few months on an incredible journey trying to find the lock, and on this journey uncovers family secrets, heals lost relationships, and more importantly finds himself.
It is a touching journey that shouldn’t be missed and will remain with you long after the movie has ended. Don’t believe the negative reviews, find out for yourself what makes this movie so special.