When the Oscar noms came out at the end of last month there weren’t really any surprises as far as I was concerned. 2010 wasn’t exactly the greatest year for cinema and it kind of shows as none of the nominations really stands head and shoulders above the crowd. There was good work and performances to be sure, but nothing Earth shatteringly great.
Here’s a look at this year’s nominees for Best Picture:
The Academy’s ten Best Picture nomination experiment moves into it’s second year, and as last year, by virtue of nominating some mainstream films it may in fact lure in viewers despite the fact that all Hollywood buzz points to a two horse race between The King’s Speech and The Social Network. I have to agree, these are the best two films of last year that I saw. In my forthcoming ‘Best of 2010’ post, I have these two at the top of the list and both are going back and forth as my number one.
With The King’s Speech you have two really great performances by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush as King George VI and his speech therapist (respectively). Even though Firth plays a king, his circumstance is ultimately relatable to us commoners–he has trouble with public speaking. On the other side of the coin you have a story that’s as old as time, but yet so relevant to today’s generation in The Social Network. Jesse Eisenberg heads up some pretty good performances backed by some stellar directing and writing (David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin respectively) that takes on a journey of inspiration, jealousy, greed, betrayal, and more. Just another day on The Facebook I guess.
As for the other nominees, don’t get me wrong, there are some pretty great films in here, it’s just that they don’t stand as high as our first two. Here’s a few quick thoughts on the rest of the nominees that I did see:
Black Swan: Awesome performance demonstrating madness by Natelie Portman which really gets under your skin by showing you how someone loses their grip on reality.
The Fighter: A good all around film, but I think it’s just that, a film that’s pretty decent all around. While Christian Bale’s performance is noteworthy, there’s nothing overly exciting about this film. Would I recommend you go see it? Definitely. I could recommend this movie to anyone. However I wasn’t totally sucked in or enthralled by the fight story.
Inception: It’s the summer studio tentpole that defined a summer. Christopher Nolan’s Inception definitely incepted the minds of moviegoers this summer and was an awesome sight to behold. However, awesome movies with great effects need to be better to nab Oscar.
The Kids Are All Right: The indie darling that critics loved that I’m not sure the rest of America saw. There’s a ton of great performances in this film between Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo; while on the whole everyone in this film makes it feel as if they could be a family just like yours. I don’t know, I don’t have any complaints, but I don’t have too much high praise either.
Toy Story 3: Was this film overly sentimental towards the end? Yes, there’s no denying that. However, Pixar did it again and actually made me believe that they would do something I thought would never happen in a Disney released Pixar film (sorry no spoilers here). The danger that Woody, Buzz, and the gang feel is all real and that’s what sucked me in and made me enjoy the story.
True Grit: The Coen Brothers biggest commercial hit is definitely an entertaining ride and a worthy edition to the Western genre. However, while I did enjoy it, I didn’t feel as if it was classic Coen Brothers work. I’m not saying I’m an aficionado of the Coens, but it did reminded me of when indie musical groups you love start doing more mainstream work–it sounds kind of the same, but a little different.
Winter’s Bone: I wanted more from this film. More story, more explanation, more time for the film to play out. However, like most of the characters in the film, it just didn’t give me what I was looking for. John Hawkes and Jennifer Lawrence give stellar performances to be sure, but just as the film was really starting to go somewhere, it ended.
We’ll just have to tune in on Oscar night to see who wins.
(127 Hours not viewed)