I know a lot of the time people just try to predict who will win, without really thinking about which film deserves it once the Academy gets in there and starts meddling with our heads regarding what is "good" and what is not... so I'm not going to do that. But I mean, come on, we all know it's going to be a tight (not really) competition between The King's Speech and The Social Network.
Oh, and if I'm just throwing it out there, one of my favorite films of 2010 was Kick-Ass... though I guess I can understand why that wasn't nominated.
And so, here is my rundown of what I thought of each of the nominees (and eventually, who I would like to see win, regardless of who I think will receive the honor).
It seems a little ambitious to take on a film that focuses on a man stuck in a cavern alone for 5 days straight, doesn't it? Well, if anyone would be able to make that interesting, it would be Danny Boyle. I have a big respect for Boyle as a director, and he definitely brought 127 Hours to life in a beautiful way. His landscape shots are stunning, and he has a great visual sensitivity, albeit, sometimes he kind of overdoes it with the effects. Regardless of this, there is never any attention draw away from the most incredible aspect of this movie, which is the story of Aaron Ralston itself. When Aaron was liberated in the film, there were just so many feelings flooding to me, I didn't know what to think. The only thing I could think was, "Wow." I can't even imagine what that experience must have been like.
James Franco puts on a splendid performance, though when it comes down to it, it wasn't the most demanding of roles. The gore involved in the film that many people were nervous about witnessing is very real, and definitely adds to an understanding of how grueling Ralston's experience must have been. Overall, this is an interesting film, and it was good to take in the incredible story of Aaron Ralston's experience, though I certainly don't believe it's for everyone.
The one word I would use to describe this film is "interesting". I know I've made posts about the whole plot of "maybe I'm the one that's been crazy all along" that is typically used in film, and this film somewhat used it. It was just presented in a different way, once again. Darren Aronofsky's filming style is quite unusual and innovative, though I can't quite get a handle on all that shaky-cam he uses. Arguably, it adds to the overall confusing, chaotic sense of the film, but to me it almost makes me feel a little nauseous when watching that on a big screen.
On of the most positive aspects of this film comes in the form of Natalie Portman's portrayal of Nina, which is probably one of her most dramatic film roles to date, as well as the character of Nina's mother played by Barbara Hershey. That woman seriously made my skin crawl, and I know a lot of people really wanted Mila Kunis to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress in her role as Lily, but I would have like to see Hershey nominated for her chilling work in Black Swan. As well, the filming of the ballet scenes, especially during the end performance of the movie were phenomenally done. One specifically that also involved some stunning visual effects was when Nina was performing and slowly grew wings during the course of the dance.
Overall, this movie was a lot more disturbing that I thought it was going to be, and it was very different from anything I have ever seen, and in that way unique. I just can't help but feel like the overall idea behind the film was a tad pretentious. Maybe it was profound in some respects, but I almost feel like Aronofsky bit off a bit more than he could chew with this one, as some of the most interesting ideas that the film brought up were overshadowed by the overall "obsession of the artist trying to be perfect, driving them to insanity" theme. I can't help but roll my eyes a little bit at that idea, though I don't know why it turns me off so much.
I'm not going to lie, I actually really enjoyed this film, but when I think about it, despite being based on a true story, it never really breaks itself out of the sports-movie cliches, does it? You know, the has-been trying to make a comeback? The almost too old for the sport up-and-comer, winning it big? And, you know, other cliches among those lines.
The filming in The Fighter was nothing spectacular, but the one aspect that I found incredibly good was the acting of the supporting cast. Sure, Mark Walhberg had one of the most believable Boston accents in the film, but his role was very downplayed and subtle amongst the strong work of the rest of the cast. Not only the intensely adept performances by Christian Bale and Melissa Leo stood out, but also the supporting cast of women that played Micky Ward's sisters. They were almost created as a caricature, but despite this were still a both a very humorous and influential presence in the film.
Oh Inception. What do we say about you? To be honest, I saw this movie quite a while after it came out, and so many of my friends saw it before I did, hyping it up to the extremes. When I finally saw it, because of all that buildup, I was slightly disappointed. To be fair, it was definitely an ingenious twist that most of the action took place in the mind, but all in all wasn't it just an over-elaborate heist? Granted, they were placing something in the mind rather than taking it out, but regardless, it was largely based on the heist-film premise. I do, however, agree with many people saying that the acting in the film was incredibly well done. Oscar worthy? Mmm, maybe not. I've definitely seen better work from both Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard, who many people feel were snubbed for Academy Award nominations.
The one thing that makes this film stand apart from all the others is it's technical aspects in art direction, cinematography, and visual effects. The pure precision it took to create some of those layered dream-sequences was just astounding, and the entire movie looked incredibly pristine and put-together. Do I think Inception was the best film of 2010? No, but it was up there, and definitely deserves any award it wins related to sound and visual elements.
The Kid's Are All Right
I was intrigued by this film as it looked like it would be pretty quirky and fun, though sadly I have yet to see it. I am a fan of Annette Bening, so her performance was likely strong in this film, and it's always interesting to see a not-so conventional dynamic of relationships and family on screen. I also find Mark Ruffalo very good in most of the roles he performs, so that was likely another strong aspect of this film, though I have heard from some people that a lot of aspects in this film are somewhat cheesy or overstated. I suppose I will just have to see this film before I can really know if I like it or not.
The King's Speech
Although I'm only 19, I really wanted to see this movie, and when I went, the average age of the rest of the filmgoing audience was about... 50? Regardless, I enjoyed this movie, but recognize that it isn't really for everyone. I think there has to be a certain amount of interest in the subject for a veiwer to really appreciate the story and difficulty it would take to bring a story based on the ability to speak well to life.
To me, one of the strongest aspects of The King's Speech was in the acting abilities of the main cast, including Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, and Guy Pierce. They really did well in their parts, suiting the timeframe in which the film is set. As well, they were able to bring a certain humor to the film, all the while maintaining the serious overall mood. As well, in terms of filming the scenes were shot very crisp and clean, though lacking a certain ingenuity behind them. There were a few pacing issues within the film, that made certain parts seem to drag on unnecessarily long, though if you are really interested in the story and the history of it, you will stick out these slower-paced sections. As I mentioned before, a film like this is definitely not for everyone, but I certainly liked seeing it.
The Social Network
A lot of people I know had mixed reviews about this one, but I personally thought The Social Network was a well-done film. Sure, some might argue that I'm just jumping on the critic's bandwagon with this one, but in all honesty, the story presented in the film is just so relevant to society today. And let's get one thing straight, the movie is not about Facebook itself. It is a story about the implications of business and relationships surrounding a genius invention, as well as the power of influence in the corporate world, greed, loyalty, and the sacrifices we make to get ahead. The fact that the story surrounded the creation of Facebook is just another aspect that allows the film to be relevant today, due to Facebook's large impact on relationships in modern society.
In addition to the impact of the story line, the writing of this film, done by Aaron Sorkin, was fresh, quick, and hyper-literate (if not a tad pretentious). The acting used to pull off these lines was equally impressive, as Jesse Eisenberg just nailed the snarky, quick wit of Zuckerberg, and Andrew Garfield brought the most subtle hints of pain and emotion to a film built mostly on cold-as-ice relationships. Furthermore, the filming style used was primarily dark and golden-coloured, adding a deep warmth to the dark, dorm-room setting wherein this invention took place. In great contrast, the trial scenes with bright, white and blue lighting gave almost a surgical, disconnected feeling to the conflict between Saverin and Zuckerberg, showing that the friendship wass entirely lost, and their new focus was entirely on business.
The downfalls I might see in this film are that the ending was trying to bring in the "lost love" connection that was totally unnecessary, as well as the dialogue being slightly high-and-mighty on a few occasions.
Toy Story 3
To me, this was an incredibly enjoyable film, both for children and adults. Those toys really captured our hearts all those years ago, and I'm sure I'm not the only one that wondered what would happen to them once Andy grew up. Not only was the story fun and unique, but when you look at the animation quality of the first Toy Story film compared to this one, the progression is just incredible. The animation of the human characters has especially become better over the past ten years.
Although I really enjoyed Toy Story 3, I wouldn't say it is the best film Pixar has ever made, and if there has ever been an animated film that I would have liked to have seen win Best Picture, it would have been Up, which was nominated last year.
This is another of the best picture nominees that I have not seen, though it did intrigue me. It looks like it will be a pretty clean looking western, but still pretty hard-hitting. At the same time, however, I find the Coen Brothers very hit and miss with their films... I mean, I loved Fargo, but ever since then they haven't really been able to rise to the same level again (in my own personal opinion). I do however think that Jeff Bridges is a fine actor and so his performance is likely worth seeing, though in all honesty I don't want him to win Best Actor this year, as I was also rooting for Colin Firth last year, and Bridges took the honor. In essence, I can't really say as I want to see this film win, as it looks like it has potential to be intriguing, but at the same time, would anyone have even paid that much attention to it had it not been directed by the Coen Brothers? Or would they have just thought of it as another modern Western?
This is the last of the three nominated films that I have yet to see. I have read about it and seen the trailer, and it looks relatively gritty and intense, so I think it is probably pretty promising. Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes are both nominated for this movie as well, which must mean that the acting is pretty decent in the movie, but as it is now, I can't make a very good analysis of the film, due to not having seen it.
So at the end of all that, the movie I would most like to see win Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards Ceremony is: The Social Network.
I know, I know, I'm probably getting a few eye-rolls right now, but compared to everything else that I have seen (and also considering my age/generation), I found that film one of the most enjoyable and well-made.
And now I leave it up to everyone else: What would you like to see win the Oscar for Best Picture on February 27th?