Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Right Stuff

It's true...I lost nearly a week of movies, and I have no idea how I'm going to make it up. Our school has this ill-placed week-long break stuck in the middle of February, and my family used the first part of it to go skiing in Breckenridge. I learned two things: that I'm not destined to be a skiier, and that next time I should pack a couple DVDs to save myself from late night cable. My whole body is sore from countless awkward falls into the powder, and I really can't stand to see one more episode of a poorly written cookie cutter crime drama.
Anyway, the point is that I lost a lot of time and I'm just about to lose some more. Tomorrow I leave for North Carolina, and Friday, I jet off to Washington DC and don't return home until Sunday. How am I going to recover all these days of missed movies? I guess I'll have to double up this summer...

Sunday, February 27th is just four short days away...and I'm almost counting down the seconds. It's the biggest day of the year if you ask me...more exciting than Christmas and more meaningful than my birthday. That's right, this Sunday night marks the eve of the Oscar ceremony, a night when cinematic history will be written. I anticipate a lively and entertaining broadcast, as Anne Hathaway and my future husband James Franco are slated to host the event. The Academy better have made some wise choices, because there will be one angry kid out there if JFranc (like the nickname??) and 127 Hours go home empty-handed. I've listed them before, but in the name of simplicity, here are the nominees for Best Picture:

1. Inception Mind-blowing. How else can you describe it? This one achieves a rare double victory, pleasing the pickiest of critics and exploding into a box office success all at once. Though I'm skeptical that it has a chance amidst all these other attention-grabbers, I'd say Inception can still dream of gold (get it...dream?!).

2. The Fighter Still haven't seen it! I know, I know, I'm a major slacker. This one just didn't look all that good to me in the commercials. I just feel like the tough-Boston-down-on-his-luck guy thing has been way over done, and so has the whole boxing thing. I mean, we have The Departed (2006) (amazing flick) and Million Dollar Baby (2004) (still need to see this one!) what do we need The Fighter for?? Maybe just to see Christian Bale slim down to cancer-victim size.

3. Toy Story 3 Love it! But it won't win in this category...I'm 99% sure (though I'm just as sure it will take the cake in the Animated Feature category). This one really hit home for me because I'm also going to college in the fall, and I feel just like Andy, giving up my childhood and driving off into the sunset...I definitely needed the tissue box to make it to the closing credits.

4. Black Swan Interesting. Very interesting. I found it both haunting and wildly entertaining, and ended up heading back to the theater more than once to really digest this one. It's a very original piece of work, with brilliant cinematography and directing (though Darren Aronofsky is no Danny Boyle). Natalie Portman deserves the Oscar for throwing herself into this twisted ballet world.

5. True Grit Haven't seen this one either! If I had to base my opinions on those of my friends, though, this one isn't winning anything.

6. 127 Hours I can't say enough good things about this movie. This one is my favorite for sure. If you haven't seen it, GO NOW! I'm still reeling over the fact that Danny Boyle didn't get a director's nod for his highly original work here, and I will be reeling if JFranc doesn't win his Oscar (though he will find some tough competition in Collin Firth).

7. The Kids Are All Right So I haven't seen this one either...but from what I've heard and read, it's not that great of a film. It's only nominated because of its progressive subject matter...or at least, that's what I've gathered. I'll get around to seeing it eventually (it's on my list!) and have some sort of opinion to share.

8. The Social Network's alright. Quirky, cute, a little shocking sometimes...but Best Picture material? I don't think so. But although I don't think it's worthy of the golden man, The Academy may very well think it is come Sunday night. I guess we'll see.

9. Winter's Bone Ok, you got me...I didn't see this one either. So I'm not exactly qualified to be making all of these predictions. But here's another one I'm going to make anyway: The Academy won't be throwing this dog a bone (another pun?? I'm on fire tonight!). These Sundance-born indies still don't seem to have the wattage that a major studio film like Inception has.

10. The King's Speech I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this movie is overrated!! I'm not saying it's not good, because it is, but it's not the best of the bunch by any stretch (and I haven't even seen the whole bunch yet!). Still, if I was a bettin man, I'd say the odds are very much stacked in this one's favor.

So there you have it, a round-up of my current opinions as we head into the final days before the Oscars. It'll be a real nail-biter waiting to hear the verdict on these movies, with the top contenders (in my mind) being The Social Network, The King's Speech, Inception (maybe), and (I know it's probably just a pipe dream, but I'm gonna keep on dreaming) 127 Hours. The others, I think, are not nearly as likely to win. We'll see on Sunday night which film has the right stuff to become number one.

Now for the challenge, something I've been putting off lately. I watched American Beauty (1999) tonight and found it very...interesting. Despite being laden with graphic language and occasionally obscene images, the film felt poetic and graceful all the way through. Kevin Spacey, ever the acting savant, puts up a fantastic performance as a confused, aimless middle-aged man, and Annette Benning, a current nominee whose fate will be decided Sunday night, shines in her also-nominated turn as a repressed wife on the edge. Chris Cooper also surprises in his gritty portrayal of the homophobic neighbor. A twisted, sordid take on the American family deserving of pensive analysis.

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