Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Class of 2010

The Oscar nominations were announced yesterday morning and in true movie nerd fashion, I had already seen all ten nominees for best picture. So my quest to see every nominee ever remains uninterrupted (though the total number seen just went up ten). Here's a quick commentary on this year's crop. Several are currently in my top ten of the year, which I'm still waiting to post until I see a few more contenders.

127 Hours - I haven't heard of anyone who went into this movie not knowing what happens. I keep wondering how it will be viewed a generation from now (over even in ten years) when new viewers can watch it cold. James Franco's acting nomination is well deserved and he's probably the only one who can upset Colin Firth.

Black Swan - The acting is great. The direction is great. The story is... okay. Portman should win, but in all other categories, this is an also-ran.

The Fighter - As of right now, this is my favorite movie of the year. Though I do have to confess that I don't consider this an exceptionally strong year. My top three from last year (500 Days of Summer, Inglourious Basterds, and Hurt Locker) would all rank ahead of it AND my top three from 2008 (The Dark Knight, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire) would all rank ahead of 500 Days of Summer. Okay, now it just sounds like I'm ragging on The Fighter, which is definitely not the case. The acting is great (see the three Oscar nominations and the two GG wins). The story is compelling. There is tons of fighting both verbal and physical in the ring and out yet the film contains no real villains. Even when you get mad at some of the characters, you still empathize with their motivations. That is a feat all too rarely pulled off in movies today.

Inception - For those of you keeping score at home, Christopher Nolan is working on a Kubrick-caliber batting average. He has directed seven movies and five of those are in the IMDb Top 250 (8 of Kubrick's 11 from 1956 until is death are in the Top 250... Spielberg sucks). Is Inception flawed? Sure. It is one of the most innovative movies of the last decade? You bet your ass it is. And it's always been my belief the point is to reward films that advance the art of film making. Unfortunately, Nolan is becoming something of a Jim Carrey with the Oscars. Despite having just earned his THIRD Director's Guild Nomination (Memento, Dark Knight) he has still yet to earn an Oscar nomination.

The Kids Are All Right - This was a good show, but so far from Oscar good that I find myself rooting against it. It's very well-done and entertaining, I just didn't think it was anything that special. If Annette Bening beats Portman for best actress I may just throw something heavy through something fragile, especially since it's Julianne Moore who really shines here.

The King's Speech - I've ranted before about most years having a token British nomination (The Queen, Atonement, and Gosford Park can all go suck a collective egg). So I went into The King's Speech more than a little apprehensive. I loved it. Colin Firth is starting to look like one of the safer bets to win gold next month and the movie leads the field with twelve nominations and may dethrone Social Network as the favorite heading in to Oscar night. The Fighter may have my vote out of the ten, but if it has to come down to King's Speech and Social Network, I'm behind King's Speech all the way.

The Social Network - Similar reaction for me as to The Kids Are All Right. It's really well done. I just don't think it's special enough for all the attentions it's receiving. That said, unlike Kids, I do currently have Social Network in my top ten and don't really disagree with any of its nominations. And I'll be rooting for Aaron Sorkin to pick up his first Oscar here.

Toy Story 3 - It should be obvious to everyone by now that Pixar long ago sold their souls to ensure that every movie they made would be great. That said, while I liked Up last year, I didn't think it deserved the best picture nomination. I have no such reservations about Toy Story 3. It probably stands behind only Return of the King on the list of greatest third installments of all-time.

True Grit - I loved this movie until the final 10-20 minutes. I guess I now understand how some people felt about No Country for Old Men. Also, can someone explain to me how Hailee Steinfeld is in the supporting category when she's in every scene in the entire film (I may be exaggerating, but not by much - I'd lay even money that she has more screen time than Jeff Bridges who is up for lead actor)?

Winter's Bone - This one was just a big swing and a miss for me. I did not like it. I almost shut it off thirty minutes in. It rang completely false to me. I don't claim to know their world and the book was written by someone who does know that world. But, living one state west of Missouri, I will claim to know that world better than a director from New York and a screenwriter from Seattle. And that may not even be the real problem. This is a dark, depressing thriller - fine. But there is not one break from it the entire time. I don't remember one laugh, one smile. I know they have it rough, but you still joke with your family at least 0.001% of the time.

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