Here's how it goes. You see a trailer a good four months before the movie will ever be here. Hmm. Great cast. Looks intense. Looks emotional. Maybe this on has a chance.
By the eighth time you've seen the trailer, not to mention the ads on TV, you're already wearying of a movie you haven't seen. Then the reviews are good, not great. A couple of friends say good, not great. Maybe, you say, I'll just take a pass.
I'm glad I didn't pass on "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," a drama about a boy on an impossible but determined quest after his father dies in the Twin Towers on Sept. 11. It is one of those movies that loses some punch if you've seen the trailers and ads a hundred times -- hard to avoid -- but it's still enjoyable. Its story line is no more improbable than, say, "Forrest Gump," which is deeply and fictionally rooted in real events. Yes, it requires some suspension of disbelief, but then it either works or it doesn't. I thought it was fine.
The young star, Thomas Horn, brings us a character with a strong personality and not a few issues, but his intensity - his need to know the unknowable - drives the story. Max von Sydow has been nominated for best supporting actor (in a role with no lines), and he's very good. I'm no fan usually, but Sandra Bullock does very well in a weepy role. Tom Hanks is fine, as well, but there's not that much of him, Viola Davis -- did I mention that I'm a huge fan? -- and Jeffrey Wright are both quite good in key roles.
This is one of the nine movies nominated for best picture, and although I would vote for two or three others ahead of it, I can understand why it's said to have a small but fervent core of supporters with the Academy. We'll see. Not much seems all that certain at this point. Some winners might surprise us.