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The Help

by on December 6, 2011
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I would not be surprised to see “The Help” get a raft of Academy Award nominations. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer seem like locks in the Best Supporting Actress Category, playing African-American maids struggling with racism and oppression in 1960s Mississippi. And Bryce Dallas Howard might just slide in there, too, as the catty queen bee of the white social establishment.

Emma Stone also has a shot at a Best Actress nomination. She plays “Skeeter” Phelan, the recently graduated college woman and aspiring journalist who takes it upon herself to write about “the help” — black women who essentially raise the children of white well-to-do families only to be rewarded with condescension and Jim Crow status quo when those young ones grow up into adults.

For that matter, writer/director Tate Taylor does a smart job translating the phenomenally popular book by Kathryn Stockett to the screen, taking syrupy chick-flick material and turning it into a moving and surprisingly funny portrait of Southern womanhood in all its gritty glory and brittle pettiness. An Oscar nomination might just be in his future as well.

Heck, for that matter, why not a Best Picture nod for “The Help”? How many other films have grabbed audiences this year like this one, leaving them rolling in the aisles and with tears on their cheeks? It’s sure to be a big hit on video.

One disappointing note is that video extras are rather on the lean side. The DVD version comes only with a few deleted scenes and a music video for “The Living Proof” by Mary J. Blige.

Upgrade to the Blu-ray, and you add a few more deleted scenes, along with two featurettes — a making-of documentary and a tribute to real-life maids of Mississippi.

Film: 4.5 Yaps
Extras: 3 Yaps