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Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Hullabaloo


Saturday, February 26, 2011

 
Saturday Night At The Movies


Oscar Thoughts

by digby


Dennis is taking the week off, leaving us bereft of his invaluable insights just when we need him the most. (It's Oscar week-end fergawdsakes!) So .... I guess I'll have to try to fill his Pradas.

In my previous life I would have seen every movie nominated, already filled out my ballot and put a fairly good sized bet on the line. You see, if you work in Hollywood, the Oscars aren't really about the movies, although it helps if they got good reviews. The studios (and sometime individuals) spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a boatload of hype and advertising so if you read the trade papers and listen to the buzz you can usually figure out where the heat is and make a good bet. But that was a while ago. Now I rarely see films on the big screen and usually miss the hot movies until they make their way to the DVD release. And the sad truth is that I just don't watch as many movies as I used to. But here goes, from my meager knowledge of this year's Best Picture nominees:

Of the best picture nominations, I have seen Inception, The Kids Are Alright, The King's Speech, and The Social Network. I could kick myself for not seeing Black Swan yet because I am usually a big fan of Aronofsky, but I just haven't gotten to it. True Grit, The Fighter and Winter's Bone are on my list to see at the earliest opportunity. I'll probably skip Toy Story, even though I know it's supposed to be great, but I'm old and I've never much liked animation of any kind. (This is where being dead inside comes in.) I won't see 127 Hours because it sounds excruciating and life is short.

For me the best picture of the year (of those I saw) was Inception.(Oddly, according to this NY Times article, it is the choice of most non-Americans who participated in their poll. Go figure.) I just thought it was a fascinating meditation on the nature of reality, which in this day and age is something we should all spend a a little time contemplating. And it was a masterful cinematic achievement, far more interesting and creative than the usual 3D, digitized Gameboy movies. So for me, it's Best Picture.

But I also like the others. I thought The Kids are Alright featured the most interesting performance that I saw all year with Annette Benning's very subtle rendering, in which she managed to be recognizably gay without a moment of cliche or overt stereotype. Julianne Moore was also very good, but she was more of the lipstick lesbian in the couple and I don't think her role required quite the nuance of Benning's. As it turns out, a long term gay marriage has the same tensions of all marriage, albeit with some additional complications. But in the end, infidelity, insecurity, growing older --- it's all human, with all that that implies. So, for me, Benning gets the nod for Best Actress. The movie was really all in her face.

The Social Network was just great, and it's a very close call for me between it and Inception for Best Picture. The whole idea of who "owns" ideas is interesting and in this case it's all wrapped up in class and aspiration and jealousy. Plus the moody cinematography and music made Cambridge look like something out of the Spanish Inquisition, which was sort of fitting.

Finally, The King's Speech. Yes, I know everyone found it life changing, but I just thought it was a good, solid English hat movie. And there's nothing wrong with that! I love a good hat movie, especially one that features Helena Bonham Carter, who really knows how to wear one. Colin Firth was excellent as always, but for me, his great performance last year in A Single Man was the award winner. I expect he'll win. Everyone seems to think so and I can't argue with them. Most great actors finally win for characters with disabilities.

That's all I've got folks. I still haven't seen Precious, that's how out of it I am, so take this with a grain of salt. And feel free to weigh in with insults and derision in the comments.


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