T here are four very good reasons you should make time for "An Education." Reasons one through three are related. One, Casey Mulligan is up for best Actress in a Leading Role. Two, Nick Hornby is nominated for best Adapted Screenplay (based on the memoir by Lynn Barber). Three, "An Education" is up for Best Picture. Never mind that the wise Academy has expanded Best Picture to include half of the movies made last year.
Reason No. 4 is the amount of concession you can take into the movie with you for five or six dollars. Whether it's five or six dollars depends largely on how squared away the new kid behind the counter at the Gold Town Nickelodeon is. Every time I repeat it, I doubt it more, but I am relatively sure we came away with two bags of popcorn (one buttered, one not), two cans of juice, and a snickers bar for five bucks.
New owner Mark Ridgway has also added a couple of subtle improvements inside the theater itself. I remember folks being left without a pillow to pad their seat with at "March of the Penguins" several years ago; now, there are enough cushions at the Gold Town for everyone to have two if they wish. The Gold Town also has previews these days - relevant to the Gold Town. Ridgway told our group before they started, "it's a bit funky, but at least you'll know what's coming up." And other than the little Apple logo at the bottom corner of the screen (good ole' iMovie!), the funkiness was completely outweighed by the wonderful tailored feeling of the trailers. It feels as if someone has put together a trailer montage just for you, with information just for you. It feels that way, of course, because that is exactly what has happened.
At some point, the Gold Town will cease to be a well-kept secret gem in our lovely capital city. For the time being, though, it is what Michael Scott would call a win-win-win. The atmosphere is relaxed and intimate; the concessions are, if anything, too reasonable; the trailers are tailored to you and your fellow Gold Towners... oh, and then there's the outside possibility of being the first audience present when Ridgway starts a film exactly on schedule.
The fact that "An Education" is a charming coming-of-age comedy with lots of laughs and genuinely uplifting is just gravy. I wonder, in fact, if it's a story that's best seen on screen as I saw it - with very little knowledge of what it was all about. So, without getting into tedious detail, here's the gist of "An Education": Best Actress nominee Casey Mulligan plays 16-year-old Jenny in 1960s London. Jenny goes to an all girl school and is destined for Oxford University, especially if her nervous and doting father (Alfred Molina) has anything to say about it. Things go off course for Jenny when she meets a man (Peter Sarsgaard) named David; he offers her a ride home in the rain after school and while it seems innocent, the dude has to be at least 35. I kept waiting for that to be a concern for someone in the story other than Jenny's teachers, but in 1960s London I suppose parents were willing to over look the statutory situation if the man had means.
Jenny, indeed, gets "An Education." And you? You're in a double-pillowed chair, with your five bucks worth of concessions bounty, enjoying one of the perks of a small town like Juneau.
And getting one of the 36 Best Picture nominees off of your to-do list before the Oscars! A win-win-win.