The Battle for an Oscar: The Help

Kobi Malamud ('12)/Eastside Radio Editor

In a year filled with countless sequels, book adaptations and 3-D remakes, Hollywood produced a record number of films completely devoid of any semblances of originality.  Still, several such films did, in fact, prove different, managing to not only succeed in box office sales, but to also win over the hearts and minds of fans and critics alike.  Joining the ranks of the finest films released this year, The Help stands aside eight other Best Picture nominees, several of which are also book adaptations.

Based upon Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling 2009 novel of the same name, the movie tells the story of three women in 1960s Mississippi who bravely come together to write a book, which details life from the perspectives of African-American house maids.

Emma Stone plays Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, an aspiring journalist who begins the secret writing with two hardworking house maids, Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer).  Collaboratively deciding to take a stand against the injustices projected upon the African-American community, the three set forth with the dangerous project in an attempt to combat the cruelty of the town whites and to try to expose the truth to society.

Each of the protagonists undergoes significant character development throughout the movie, finding lessons to be learned from one another as they ultimately form powerful bonds and friendships.

As a film, The Help no doubt provides viewers with an enjoyable, entertaining and particularly inspiring story.  The level of acting is phenomenal, as one can truly sympathize with the characters and feel their pain and sadness.  In addition, the film teaches numerous lessons about courage and perseverance along the way.

However, although it is possibly among the most moving of the Best Picture nominees, The Help simply does not stand a chance in taking home the top honor.  Its heartwarming plot, along with the powerful performances delivered by the cast, may be enough to secure awards for several of the actresses, but its standard storyline and production still cannot come close to the level of this year’s nominees with their top-notch filmmaking, unique style and immense amount of creative genius.

It seems, then, that if this film wants to win the big prize, it is sure going to need a lot of help.