Again, I apologize for the different font styles and sizes. I seriously have no idea how to tame this blog; I'm more used to my LiveJournal!
Director: Marc Forster
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Peter Boyle, Heath Ledger
Best Actress - Halle Berry (won)
Best Original Screenplay - Milo Addica and Will Rokos (lost to Julian Fellowes for Gosford Park)
Monster's Ball and Boys Don't Cry are similar in some ways because they're both small movies that won Oscars for Best Lead Actress and both movies are difficult to watch and deal with some heavy stuff. In this film you'll find racism, graphic sex scenes, parents abusing their children (physically and emotionally), and three emotional death scenes of pivotal characters within the first half hour, and yet, compared to Boys Don't Cry, Monster's Ball is like a walk in the park. That's not to say this is an easy movie to watch, far from it, but honestly, if I was given a choice between the two, I'd rather watch this one just because Boys Don't Cry was so emotionally raw and it's hard watching know that it's based on a true story, whereas Monster's Ball is a piece of fiction.
There are a lot of people out there who say they can't believe Halle Berry has an Oscar; that she didn't deserve to win it for this movie. Me? I think the majority of the movies she's been in have been really, really bad and I do think she's a craptastic actress, but with the right director and right script, like she had in this movie, she can be quite good. So I do think her Oscar was deserved. Did politics play a role in her winning? Well, yes, of course they did. She's the first black woman to win an Oscar for a lead role. Her Oscar win made history. (Her speech, while rightfully emotionally, began to get a little ridiculous when she thanked friggin' Oprah. Had Obama been POTUS in '02, you can bet she would have thanked him. :::rolls eyes:::)
I'm always baffled when people put Halle in the category of "women who won Oscars by making themselves ugly" like Charlize Theron in Monster or Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry (well, she wasn't ugly, just not feminine). Okay, Halle may not wear make-up and her character may not be glamourous, but c'mon, she's still gorgeous in the movie.
While Berry did deserve her Oscar and rocked the hell out of the movie, however there is one scene that just makes me cringe. It's the one where she and Thornton are both drunk and she starts going off about her son who has just died and about how fat he was. She was painfully overacting in that scene. And that sex scene? Blech...I'm sure Billy Bob is a nice (albeit weird) guy and he's a good actor, but he's so skeevy-looking! Seriously, that has got to be one of the most graphic sex scenes I've ever seen in a movie. It was very uncomfortable and awkward to watch, but at least it wasn't a rape scene like in Boys Don't Cry.
Halle and William Robert are both great (drunk sex scene aside) in the movie and they have a great supporting cast to, uh, support them. Peter Boyle, who we all knew as Ray's dad on Everybody Love's Raymond played Thornton's racist father and you just automatically hold your breath when he and Berry meet for the first time, neither of them knowing about the other. Heath Ledger played Thornton's son and this was the first really serious role that he did and showed that he was quite capable of being a future Oscar nominee/winner. Even though his screentime is very limited, you can't help but feel for his character and your heart just breaks for him especially during the scene where he asks his father if he loves him. It was very hard for me to watch the last scene with him; it was hard enough watching it before. One of my favorite scenes is when he comforts P. Diddy/ Puff Daddy whatever the hell you want to call him who plays Halle's husband who's executed in the prison Thornton works at as a prison guard. I also have to give props to Sean Combs, as he's credited in the movie. He did a pretty good job, you know, for Puffy. And Coronjii Calhoun, in his only role to date as Halle's son was also great in his small but pivotal role. I remember Halle saying in an interview how guilty she felt when she had to scream and hit him (yeah, no kidding, I'd feel horrible too), but when they were done filming, he'd go back to being a normal, happy kid.
This is truly an actor's movie. No special effects here.