Archive | February 3, 2011

Best Picture Nominee One

This will be the first year that I have the chance to watch all of the Best Picture Academy Award Nominees so I thought I’d challenge myself to review the films as I watch them. The complete list of 10 Nominees (doubled since 2009) is:

Black Swan * Inception * True GritThe Social Network * Toy Story 3 * The Kids Are All Right * The King’s Speech * Winter’s Bone * The Fighter * 127 Hours

Enjoy the first installment. Mari

Black Swan

In short – I was blown away by Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller. Watching the film I was also extremely proud of Screenwriter *Mark Heyman* fellow Brown University and College Hill Independent Alum!

Yes, it’s perpetuating some negative stereotypes of ballet dancers but more than anything the film demonstrates the sheer will and power of young women and men who bring their bodies to the limit for their art. I’ve always had an enormous amount of respect for the physicality of dancers but in this piece the audience also gets a look into the psychological demands placed on these young artists in a thrilling and exciting way.

Visually, Black Swan translates the story’s kinetic energy through jump cuts, reflections, and the manifestation of hallucinations while focusing on the interplay between light and shadow. Dance studios and backstage areas (especially after night fall) serve as the perfect backdrop for this dark story and the filmmakers weave references to birds and animals into the narrative expertly.

Flawless performances by a slew of strong females: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, and Winona Ryder ground this work in addition to stellar performances by their male leads: Vincent Cassel and Benjamin Millepied (Ms. Portman’s fiance). A lot has been said of Ms. Portman’s physical transformation into a ballet dancer but it is her ability to transform before the viewer’s eyes from a self conscious yet driven understudy into the fierce leading lady that she is that truly impressed me.

Costumes play a large role in this picture thanks to a collaboration between Costume Designer Amy Westcott and the sisters behind the Rodarte label: Laura and Kate Mulleavy. Apparently there has been some controversy over credit for the costumes on the film but nonetheless the piece is elevated by the additional visual art the viewer experiences through the meticulous and lush costumes.

Watch a New York Times video featuring the Mulleavy sisters HERE.

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