Tonight’s the night! We’ll be spending time with **Arlene & Jason** with the Oscar’s in the background. Here are the last two movies that round out the ten nominated films for Best Picture in addition to my complete list of predictions (with an idea of which films I think really deserve the award). This marks a milestone for us – the first year we’ve watched every single Best Picture nominee! Enjoy, Mari & Paul
It seems fitting to round out the ten nominees with two bio pics. The first, 127 Hours, a superb translation of the incredible story of Aron Ralston, the climber forced to amputate part of his right arm using only a pocket knife and makeshift tourniquet. Director Danny Boyle (of Slumdog Millionaire fame—one of my all time favorite movies) expertly weaves this harrowing tale that he adapted from Ralston‘s own memoir, Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Danny Boyle introduces flashbacks and fast-paced editing to spice up the action as we follow Aron (James Franco) through one of the most excruciating experiences I have ever witnessed on film.
I can’t say enough about this movie. It’s the only one that made me cry—hard—and to me it demonstrates everything that our contemporary cinema has to offer. The inspired editing from the very first frame sets up a beautiful dichotomy in split screen between Aron alone, preparing for his fateful hike, and shots overflowing with active people (marathoners, the running of the bulls, soccer stadiums). This opening sets the pace for the rest of the film while also setting up a striking contrast not just of a solitary man verses a group of people but of thriving populated scenery against the vast desert context we will experience for the remaining 90% of the film.
The beauty of 127 Hours is that the audience pretty much already knows the story about “the hiker who cut his arm off” but few of us know about the particulars or really much about the man behind this headline. Knowing the punchline before the joke in this case actually ratchets up the drama for the first portion of the film as the viewer continually wonders when the fateful accident will occur. The drama is palpable and at one point I was cringing through several scenes as I waited for it to happen. When it finally does it is still a shock and I, for one, felt like I was going through a faint echo of Aron‘s thought process as he tries to figure out what to do next.
Danny Boyle gives Franco and the viewers enough breathing room for the rest of the story to unfold organically and as real as I could possibly imagine it might. In an interview (I can’t recall where) the real Aron explains that the film is as factually accurate as possible. In addition, he explained, whenever the filmmakers took liberties it was in service of portraying his very real feelings and emotions.
I can’t think of a better actor to carry all of this out than James Franco. I believe he deserves the Oscar for the sheer ability to carry this film as a near one-man show but alas, I don’t think it’s in the cards for him (see my picks of likely winners are below).
The Fighter is another bio-pic starring Mark Wahlberg as Micky Ward, Christian Bale as his brother Dicky Eklund, Melissa Leo as Micky & Dicky’s mother Alice, and Amy Adams as Micky’s girlfriend Charlene Fleming. The drama in this film focuses on the dysfunctional family surrounding struggling boxer “Irish” Micky Ward from Lowell, Massachusetts and his unlikely rise as an amateur boxer.
The town of Lowell should be credited as another of the main characters and it has been widely reported that most of the extras were cast from the area. Having grown up in Massachusetts myself, I can say that this is one of the most spot-on recreations of Massachusetts characters and of course the Baahston accent.
Christian Bale is deservedly the front runner for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Dicky, a drug addict and former boxer himself who now trains and mentors his brother. Like several of the films up for Best Picture this year, the negative influence of family is a strong theme throughout this drama. Although the anticipation is less than in 127 Hours (is it possible to have more anticipation?) the viewer is also on the edge of their seat waiting for Micky’s next big success or even his next big failure. Will his family bring him down or help to propel him to victory and bigger paydays as a fighter?
In the end, Micky must fight to bring together the two strong influences in his life: the new training team keeping him on the straight and narrow including his new girlfriend Charlene, and his self-distructive and selfish mother and brother, whose motivations for Micky’s career are put into question.
While this film definitely deserves to be up for Best Picture Oscar I can’t see it going all the way, however, I predict Christian Bale will take home the golden statue for his intense transformation into the complex and magnetic personality that is Dicky Eklund.
And the Oscar goes to…(my predictions)
The King’s Speech
Tom Hooper (should be David Fincher)
Colin Firth (should be James Franco)
Melissa Leo (should be Hailee Steinfeld)
The King’s Speech (but I love The Kids Are All Right)
The Social Network
The Social Network
127 Hours (toss up with Toy Story 3)
Toy Story 3 (is there really any contest here?)
Alice in Wonderland (didn’t see but I can imagine…)
Barney’s Version (total guess)
The King’s Speech (could also be Inception)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (toss up with Inside Job)
Killing in the Name (total guess though heard good things)
The Social Network (should be 127 Hours)
Biutiful (didn’t see but heard good things)
Day & Night (total guess)
Live Action Short
Wish 143 (total guess)