If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Its Movie Superbowl time of the year again and I have frantically been catching up on the many movies that have been given unspeakable amounts of love from critics and fans alike. As I watch these films, I am mesmerized by the performances of so many actors and the other crewmembers that all have their part in their celluloid creations.
As your resident Couch Potato blogger, I’ve taken the liberty to fill you in on the nominations, along with the predictions, the criticisms, and of course the snubs (re: The Town). So pull back the curtains, bring back that LeRoy Brown (sorry for the obscure and unnecessary Queen song reference), and lets get the Oscar blog a–rollin’.
The ten–film lineup of nominees continues its resurgence. This year, we have some phenomenal films all vying for a place as the 2010 best movie, and one glaring omission as well (apparently, the academy can only nominate one beantown–set film per year). But there’s no turning back now and we have to accept what the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences gives us, or we don’t have to watch the big show.
Who will win and what will they win for come Oscar night? Can Jeremy Renner (The Town) shock the world and take the Best Supporting Actor award from Christian Bale. After all, Renner is the only representative of this year’s “how did the Academy miss this one,” film. Will the youth movement shock the world at the Oscars–can Hailee Steinfeld become the second youngest woman ever to win Best Supporting Actress? Will Jennifer Lawrence’s riveting performance in Winter’s Bone make her the youngest person ever to score Best Actress and thoroughly piss off Natalie Portman and everyone who saw Black Swan? Can co–host and Best Actor nominee, James Franco do the unthinkable and best Colin Firth’s portrayal of the King of England? Hopefully Franco and co–host Anne Hathaway will be far more entertaining than last year’s hosts.
Best Actor (James Franco)
Best Editing (Jon Harris)
Best Score (A.R. Rahman)
Best Song (“If I Rise,” by A.R. Rahman, Dido, and Rollo Armstrong)
Best Adapted Screenplay (Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy)
Best Chance–Best Editing for Harris
Biggest Snub–Danny Boyle for Best Director
James Franco delivers the quintessential tour - de- force performance as Aron Ralson.
Any film that predominately features one actor trapped in one place for nearly two hours has got to be breathtaking to garner the accolades that 127 Hours has garnered. The always affable and captivating Franco stars as Aron Ralston, a man who in May 2003 was trapped by a boulder in Butch Cassidy’s old hideout Robber's Roost for over five days. The biopic, like Ralston’s real life deals with triumph in the face of adversity and answers that age old question–death or live life without an arm.
Again a movie like this only works if it’s star is on their game, and Franco certainly is, unfortunately his performance comes in a year where Colin Firth has virtually won every acting award. His performance as Ralston is witty and gritty and real as we watch Franco descend into madness and ready himself for what he knows he has to do to free himself–amputate his own arm with the dullest knife ever. How Boyle was not nominated for Best Director is almost as beyond me as how Christopher Nolan routinely gets passed over in the category as well. Boyle takes what could have been a boring James Franco close–up (I’m sure the ladies wouldn’t have minded) and finds all kinds of interesting ways to film his star. Jon Harris’ editing should net an Oscar for putting together Ralston’s hallucination/imagination scenes alone.
Best Actress (Natalie Portman)
Best Cinematography (Matthew Libatique)
Best Director (Darren Aronofsky)
Best Editing (Andrew Weisblum)
Best Chance–Natalie Portman for Best Actress
Biggest Snub–Mila Kunis for Best Supporting Actress
What difference a few years and art forms worlds apart can make. In 2008, Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, a tale about a wash–up professional wrestler who it still gives it all for his fans and his art earned plenty of praise. However while some of the praise did come from critics, it mostly came from fans and wrestlers who knew the business and knew that Mickey Rourke’s performance wasn’t just Oscar worthy, it was worth the win. Here’s hoping Aronosky’s companion piece to The Wrestler, Black Swan gets the Oscar for Portman–her performance as Nina is the actress’ best since her debut in Leon. The poise she possesses during the dance sequences is the perfect compliment to the madness that her character experiences off–stage.
Speaking of dark and mad, I’m of the opinion that when a performer is so well known for their work in one genre (in this case, comedy), gives a performance as dark as Kunis’ Lily deserves at least a nomination. Perhaps the Academy figured she would just lose to Melissa Leo, anyway. Still the actress shows range worlds away from Jackie Burkhart of That 70’s Show. Another minor snub goes to Clint Mansell for his soundtrack that heavily borrows from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake score and distorts it in a way that only the Joker would love. Unfortunately the use of the ballet’s music makes it ineligible for Best Original Score.
Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale)
Best Supporting Actress (Amy Adams and Melissa Leo)
Best Director (David O. Russell)
Best Editing (Pamela Martin)
Best Original Screenplay (Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, story by Keith
Dorrington, Tamasy, and Johnson)
Biggest Snub–Mark Wahlberg for Best Actor
Brothers in pugilism - Bale and Wahlberg in The Fighter
The David O. Russell directed boxing biopic on the life of former Welterweight Champ, “Irish” Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg, in his third collaboration with the auteur). The Rocky meets Raging Bull rags–to–riches story tells a hard hitting tale of a dysfunctional family led by Melissa Leo’s drama queen matriarch Alice Ward, her seemingly endless supply of trashy daughters, and of course Christian Bale’s Dicky Eklund; Micky’s older brother, idol, former boxer and drug addict. The film takes the boxing drama and turns it on its ear. The movie’s name doesn’t describe Micky Ward the fighter in the ring, but Micky Ward, the fighter whose fighting for a better life for himself.
Christian Bale, after winning the Broadcast Film Critics and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting actor is also up for a SAG award in addition to Oscar. The actor is as amazing to watch, as you would expect from him. Bale is straight up one of the best actors of this generation or any other as he virtually disappears into and does whatever is needed of him to properly portray whichever role he takes on. As Dicky Eklund, Bale’s take on a drug–addled loser who desperately clings to his former local glory while glomming onto his brother’s rising star is just a sight to behold and a performance every film buff and aspiring actor should see. His Eklund is tragic, funny, pathetic, and redemptive–many times at the same moment. If he doesn’t win, Oscar seriously has issues with its voters. Unfortunately, for the film to win Best Picture, it will have be just like the scrappy fighter the film portrays, especially with the pack of nominated movies. Why Wahlberg wasn’t given the nod is beyond me. The usually rambunctious performer tones it down and plays Ward as a tortured soul, someone who knows his family brings him down, but they’re his family and he can’t turn them away.
Best Art Direction (Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, and Doug Mowat)
Best Cinematography (Wally Pfister)
Best Score (Hans Zimmer)
Best Sound Editing (Richard King)
Best Sound Mizing (Lora Hirschberf, Gary A. Rizzo, and Ed Novick)
Best Visual Effects (Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, and Peter Bebb)
Best Original Screenplay (Christopher Nolan)
Best Chance–Best Score, any and all technical awards
Biggest Snub–Christopher Nolan for Best Director
As much as I liked the film, am I the only one who was slightly under–whelmed by Christopher Nolan’s Bond/Matrix hybrid? Inception takes the grandiose idea of thought smugglers and twists it into what was certainly one of the best films of the summer, but without ten films in contention, Inception would not be anywhere near this race. Nolan’s absence in the Best Director category is astounding and his continued absence in the Best Director category is the most egregious offense in Oscar’s recent years. Memento, Insomnia, the bat–flicks, and now Inception?! Nolan is the director of our time, the director of the moment. Heck, Scorcese was at least nominated before he finally won. With the many realities Nolan weaves together, a viewer is only as disoriented as they’re supposed to be and that is a major accomplishment. What’s the Academy waiting to nominate this guy for–The Dark Knight Rises?!?!
As for the film’s technical nominations, the film is gorgeous to look at the ensuing mayhem of the movie deserves any and all of the techies that it’s nominated for. Inception’s soundtrack is a pulse–pounding, unnerving chorus of bangs, clangs, and somberness and completes the film…well, completely.
The Kids Are Alright:
Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo)
Best Actress (Annette Bening)
Best Original Screenplay (Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg)
Best Chance – Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg for Best Original Screenplay
Biggest Snub–Julianne Moore for Best Actress/Supporting Actress
No offense to Annette Benning or Mark Ruffalo, but neither of these fine actors are even the best actor in their own film, so how is it that the Academy recognizes their work but not Julianne Moores’? Honestly, did the Academy members even watch The Kids Are All Right? Aside from Natalie Portman and Hailee Steinfeld, Julianne Moore turns in one of the best performances of the year–male or female. It may not be the role of a lifetime, but Julianne Moore makes Jules a woman to empathize with, and dislike all at once.
As for the film itself–The Kids Are All Right will and should go down as one of the modern day classics that deal with unconventional families. The dramedy tells the tale of free–spirited, would–be design landscaper Jules, her wife Nic (Benning) and their two kids, Joni (carried by Nic and played by Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (whom Jules carried and portrayed by Josh Hutcherson). The seemingly have the perfect lesbian–raised family (albeit a kooky one), until the kids seek out their sperm donor, Paul (Ruffalo). The film’s true triumph is that the writers, director, and stars of the film portray these characters as real as they can be and doesn’t try to be all preachy about the film’s underlying issues. The Kids Are All Right is just a great quirky film about a new type of family, that happens to feature the performance of an under–appreciated Moore.