Saturday, January 15, 2011

No picture entry about the best pictures of the year


The Golden Globes are tomorrow night and then the Academy Awards will be on in a bit more than a month.
I wanted to give some very top line impressions of what I think should happen. And predictions . . .
Black Swan, up for best picture, might win, and if it does I may have to throw up. I know that reasonably smart people liked this movie, but I thought it was a fucking travesty. I thought it was Showgirls bad. Laughable. Wretched. One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Really, I hated it. I’m not alone, but I’m in the minority. It’s a polarizing movie. And when I tell people who liked it that I didn’t like, they invariably say one thing: Don’t you like Darren Aronofsky? Yeah, I do, and that’s why it’s odd to me that he went down the stony end with this one.
Did you know he also produced The Fighter, also nominated for best picture (Golden Globe)? Now that’s a movie, and very interestingly it’s really about the very same theme: talented young person rising above the influence of psycho-mom to make it big. I LOVED The Fighter. It stayed with me. Christian Bale is the best thing in it—nominated for supporting actor, but he’s better than Wahlberg, who gives an okay performance but is nominated for best actor, Golden Globe; Bale nails the crackhead thing. And the mother, played by Melissa Leo, also nominated. Loved her. Hated her.  Loved to hate her. Amy Adams, also nominated: she’s better as a tough good hearted bitch with a thong an a tattoo than she is as a fairy princess. That’s for sure. And I nominate the ensemble case of the seven sisters for best supporting actress. These sisters—it’s a true story remember, no one could invent these harpies—move and speak, with a spot-on working class Massachusetts accent, as one unit of bad hair, bad manners, and bad teeth. One of the best moments in really terrific movie that is ultimately about brotherly love, not boxing, is when the Amy Adams character almost kicks all of their asses.
True Grit: loved the performance of the little girl, Hailee Steinfeld; she plus Jeff Bridges in the John Wayne role plus Matt Damon as a Texas Ranger are terrific in this Coen brothers flick. People say it’s not a typical Coen brothers movie, but one thing it does have is their signature sense of humor.
Acting awards may go to Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine—they’re both nominated, and I’ll be routing hard for Gosling. Michelle Williams is an indi/foreign press darling. Blue Valentine is a non-linear story about a woman falling out of love with her husband. And I ask you: how could anyone not love Ryan Gosling? Yes, he plays a big man child in this movie, and yes that would be annoying, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better portrayal of masculinity and sensitivity all wrapped up together so they are one and the same. “Men are more romantic than women,” he says. Yes. I would give it an award for cinematography too. It’s a devastating movie. I cried twice, once when the Ryan Gosling character is moving an old man into a nursing home. Ryan’s character Dean works for a moving company. He takes the time to make everything just right, every momento in place, because he really gets that this guy has had an interesting life, and this is his last stop, and because it was the most brilliant way the filmmaker could show rather than tell the audience that Dean is a caretaker of the most exalted kind (that is, not expecting a damn thing in return).
Two other noteworthy movies, the first nominated, the latter overlooked: The King’s Speech and Somewhere.
The Kings Speech is one of those little gem historical movies that doesn’t hit a false note, not unlike The Queen a few years ago. Like it or not, the royalty motif still plays a big role in our collective subconscious in general, and for Americans, we are still psychically drawn to our national mother: England, her kings and queens especially. In this movie Colin Firth (who I like more and more all the time and whom I’m adopting along with George Clooney as role models on how to age well), plays the accidental King George. His brother was supposed to be king, but he abdicated so he could spend his live with the American divorcee Wallis Simpson.  Who knew he was a stutterer. And who would have imagined that the drama of his overcoming this affliction would make such good cinema. The Brits make one kind of movie over and over: someone (or a group) works and works to rise from an affliction and then they triumph spectacularly. It’s Billy Elliot; it’s Fancy Boots; it’s Calendar Girls; it’s The Full Monty; it’s Little Voice; it’s Seabiscuit—oh wait that’s American—see we’re still copying them.
Somwhere, Sofia Coppola’s movie, is getting a lot of attention. I liked it, and I like Lost in Translation, but they are more like interest artifacts than really great films. But she’s considered an auteur in the European tradition. American’s want a bit more plot and can handle less style. She has a great eye, and Somewhere goes pretty deep, but I can’t say it moved me.
Also on my wish list, and let this be your guide to rentals / Netflix:
I Am Love—I loved this movie, perhaps, most of all this year.
The Kids are Alight.  Annette Benning and Julianne Moore as lesbian moms. But ignore all that. It’s about family. They’re both nominated for GGs, best actress.
Winter’s Bones. I would love Jennifer Lawrence to get a Best Actress Oscar nomination, but the competition is so tough with Moore, Williams, Benning, Portman, Kidman, Berry..
Inception: overrated. But nice effects. Nominated for best pic.
The Social Network. If it’s beats Black Swan I’ll be happy. It’s an altogether more honest piece of filmmaking.
Documentaries: good ones this year: Exit Through the Gift Shop and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, and Catfish—one of those will win the Oscar, I’m sure of it.
Here are the nominations.
It's late and I'm going to post this without pictures, or it won't get up before the Golden Globes tomorrow night. 

1 comment:

Ed Terpening said...

Did you hear the "Fresh Air" interviews for The Fighter? Really good stuff.

And I agree about Ryan Gosling. For myself, I am completely in love with him--how can anyone leave that guy! Haven't seen Blue Valentine yet, but it and Black Swan are at the top of my list.

Thanks for these recommendations, I'm going to watch "I am Love" tonight.