The Last King of Scotland stars Forest Whitaker in probably one of the most memorable Oscar wins in recent memory. Whitaker plays Ugandan General Idi Amin, in a fictional tale inspired by the real life regime Amin instituted in the country, a regime that (according to the film) killed more than 300,000 Ugandans. Amin is generally infamous today as a dictator and warlord, and general all-around despot, and this film does an okay job of capturing that on screen. What the film really captures is the story (again, fictional) of Nicholas Garrigan, played by James McAvoy, how he becomes involved in Amin’s regime, and how he would eventually try and find a way out.
Whitaker is in complete command of this film. His booming presence explodes onto the screen for every second he appears; I found myself smiling uncontrollably whenever his bombastic persona would make itself known. I can see how easy a decision it was for the Academy to give the Best Actor Oscar to Whitaker; this is a performance larger than life, one to be remembered for years to come, and I’m sure the Academy wanted to cement his status for all time. The film was occasionally kind of on-the-nose about how we should feel and react to certain situations, mostly thanks to the score, which swelled and ebbed with the events of the film so obviously you might roll your eyes at it by the end portions. I didn’t fault it much, though; it was effective, if a bit ham-handed, and the rest of the film follows suit in this regard.
I’m not really sure if The Last King of Scotland deserved its spot on the list, and evidently the editors were on the same page, as its place didn’t last long. There’s too much pomposity with how the film runs itself, especially with the score being as manipulative and larger than life as it was, but it was still entertaining, and pretty much the perfect length for what it should be, though the construction of the three-part narrative may be a bit skewed in one direction. I enjoyed this, at the very least, especially thanks to Whitaker; I just wanted to throw up a couple warnings for some people in case they’re looking for reasons to dislike this one. See this mostly for Whitaker, but do try and see it at least.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10