Juno—20th Century Fox (Blu-ray)
I think most people would say that Juno was the dark horse of the Oscar race this year. It was loved by critics and audiences (based on its nice haul) and was probably the most popular of the Best Picture nominees. I didn't get the chance to see it in theaters but I was excited to finally get to watch it. Honestly, it didn't meet my expectations. The film was solid, of that there is no doubt, but it left me puzzled on the Best Picture nod. For one the film as a whole isn't much different from a lot of the “indie” comedies we see all the time. The story isn't anything new, the acting is good but again nothing new, and honestly I found most of the dialogue contrived. It was almost like they were trying to be too witty most of the film, which comes off as annoying for me. I love the heart of the film, I connected a lot with the end and the idea of losing your child, but I guess I wasn't as affected by the entire picture as the Academy was.
This was a runaway hit for Fox last year and they've given it a first rate transfer on Blu-ray. We haven't been seeing as many films from Fox's Searchlight division and I'm hoping the success of Sunshine and this film on Blu-ray will give them the confidence to release more from the line. This is a very detailed transfer and I was impressed with how good the dimension of the image was. The film never has a flat look at all. Contrast is exceptional which lends to the depth of image. Colors are bit cooked at times, which could be intentional, and lend to a slightly stylistic look at times. Fine film grain is preserved nicely, but I did notice some traces of what looked like noise reduction being applied at times. This was mostly evident in facial features, which looked slightly pasty at times. This was a brief occurrence though and overall I thought this was a great looking Blu-ray transfer.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack was typical for a release in this genre. The soundstage is a nice balance of ambience and the occasion indie rock tune, which added to the playful nature of the film. Dialogue always sounded natural and I didn’t notice any strain at all. Imaging in the main soundstage was very natural and the spatial quality of the mix was decent enough.
Fox has included quite a few supplements for this one. Like most of the recent Fox releases there is a second DVD included with a downloadable copy of the film for an iPod or PC playback. For the feature there is an audio commentary and a collection of behind the scenes features with interviews. A nice collection of deleted scenes and outtakes are also included.
As a whole I really enjoyed Juno. The film has a lot of moving themes and the characters are great. While I may not see eye to eye with the Academy, I can understand its popularity. Fox has done a great job with the presentation and features on this one making it a no brainer for fans of the film, or curious viewers like me.