Precious – released January 29 Thoughts Before It s that time of the year again, as apparently the best movies of the year all sneak out vying for the modest golden statues – the Oscars. Last year we had the quite brilliant Brad Pitt and David Fincher d


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Precious - released January 29

Thoughts Before

It's that time of the year again, as apparently the 'best' movies of the year all sneak out vying for the modest golden statues - the Oscars.

Last year we had the quite brilliant Brad Pitt and David Fincher drama The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the Danny Boyle favourite Slumdog Millionaire and my personal favourite in Darren Aronfsky's brilliant The Wrestler.

So now it's time to go through the potentials for the 2010 Oscars, and on first look it's a little drab. This year it's ten nominees up for the big award, so this is going to be many reviews in trying to predict the prestigious Best Picture award.

Oddly it turns out I've already reviewed some of the potential contenders (though the nominations aren't officially released until later this month). Things like the brilliant Pixar animation Up and the wartime drama The Hurt Locker are all touted to have good odds on a win. And of course Avatar is currently favourite for the win, although it's flaws could befall it from the big one (and the fact it's pros are big but hugely limited).

For months, Precious has been talked about as a shoe-in for a collection of Oscars, with critics across the pond already raving about the unknown stars powerful performance.

I wonder how good this can be, with a director whose only experience before this was the terribly mediocre Cuba Gooding Jnr (how the mighty have fallen, after a brilliant Oscar winning performance in Jerry Maquire) vehicle Shadowboxer.

And let's not forget that Precious also co-stars the annoying pop mess Mariah Carey, whose only song I can stand is that one Christmas ditty and whose embarrassing acting career peaked with the laughable Glitter. Surely the casting director is crazy?

Based on some acclaimed book, this is the apparently gritty tale of a young mother in America. Unknown but this could work in its favour; she's big but is she any good?

Thoughts Afterwards

What a revelation!

With relatively low expectations at first, I watched the acting masterclass contained within the reel of Precious and got utterly sucked up in its quaint tale of one young woman's fight to live some kind of decent life in New York in a difficult transition period at the end of the eighties.

Claireece 'Precious' Jones' story begins as she is forced to leave school as news of her second pregnancy makes its way to her headteacher. As she returns home to her abusive, drunk mother she gets a buzzer message from downstairs about an 'alternative' education route she could take - her mother overhears, dismisses it and tells her that schooling and education won't help anyone in life (and that benefits will).

Precious defies this not-so brilliant advice and begins classes to get her reading and writing on track, whilst facing up to a life with two children (by her father) and a home-life that is difficult to perceive but is startlingly real in so many cases.

Comparison with last year's Oscar contender Doubt came to mind very slightly, both being showcases of fine acting all wrapped in a relatively simple but emotional story. Seriously, I was blown away by two of the performances and if this doesn't scoop the Oscars for them (although I've yet to see some of the other contenders of course) I'll be very surprised.

The biggest revelation is, of course, the first-time performance from newcomer Gabby Sidibe - surely an absolute star in the making.

This is a beautiful performance and deserves every single bit of credit that's coming her way. With a great personality off-screen too (when asked what acting experience she's had, she joked that she once appeared in a college movie) and is already touted to be huge (no cruel pun intended).

Her performance is so raw and honest, a narration too that is sometimes hard to understand thanks to the real accent and genuine distress she brings to only a voice. Nothing is played up, it's as it is and would be.

I felt for her terrible ordeals, rallied with her during confrontation and had my fist in the air during those rare moments of positivity.

A performance equally as powerful though, is of the horrifying mother of Precious, brilliantly played by American personality (I'm not quite sure what her day job is) Mo'Nique.

Her character exudes menace in every scene, that tenseness surrounded her character and I was always on edge as to how far this woman would go. An early scene sees her cruelly throw an object at her poor daughter and from then on I wondered if or when this obviously deranged woman would snap.

A closing scene, which I won't dwell on so as not to spoil it, is easily the best acting I've seen this year - an absolutely stunning piece of theatre acting that will hopefully bag her the Best Supporting Actress nod (possibly reclaiming some respect for actress awards at the Oscars after the horrifying decision not to award the marvellous Ellen Burstyn the win in 2001 for possibly the best performance by an actress this decade, as Sara Goldfarb in Requiem For A Dream).

The rest of the performances are superb as well, yes even Mariah (I really don't want to like her in this) Carey's relatively small role as a makeshift counsellor (but benefits worker) for Precious.

All in all this movie will be talked about for its cracking performances and a hard-hitting plot that is somehow filled with hope in a sea of despair. It's a drama that parents, teenagers, teachers... near anyone can relate to in some way.

Director Lee Daniels does splendidly with an inexperienced (on the whole) cast and the pitch perfect direction brings to life what it was like to be there in that time.

Will this snatch the Best Picture Oscar? I think this must be one of the strongest candidates and right now it's definitely my favourite for the award.

It has all of the elements an Oscar winner needs, doesn't rely on any stunts of gimmicks to entice the audience or critics - it's theatre-style cinema that both breaks your heart and reignites a light inside you that you may have forgotten was there.