Well, I am back from vacation and the business in my life has just continued. I know I promised you a full Oscar rundown post, but vacations and work got the best of me. Here is a somewhat brief rundown of the movies so you can at least get my basic views of what will go down tonight.
Let me start off by saying that I genuinely liked all ten movies nominated. Sure, there have been years where all the movies ranged from good to decent, but this is the first time that I have really liked all the movies since the first year I made the effort to see all the movies nominated before the awards show. That year was 1997 when I enjoyed Titanic, As Good As It Gets, L.A. Confidential (which SHOULD have won), The Full Monty, and Good Will Hunting.
So, with that in mind, it makes it tough to rank the ten movies in order of preference because that means putting movies I liked on the bottom of a list. But, it has to be done so here we go. Keep in mind, this is NOT the order in which I believe the movies are deserving of the Best Picture award. This is simply the order in which I enjoyed the movies. So here we go with very brief reviews...
10. Winter's Bone - It is tough putting a movie you like in the bottom spot, but it had to happen to someone. It is even harder for me to put this in the bottom because it had two VERY good performances. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing in the lead role and I really felt her pain and struggle in trying to find her father while dealing with the shady characters around town. And John Hawkes in the supporting role was AMAZING. He truly deserves the supporting actor nomination that he received and is unlucky to get nominated in such a tough year full of outstanding performances. Not bad for a guy who, until this movie, was best known to me as liquor store clerk, Pete Bottoms, from my favorite film, From Dusk til Dawn!
9. Toy Story 3 - Pixar really did it again with another outstanding movie. The thing is though, I don't know if I would consider this one any better than the first two Toy Story films and certainly not better than Up from last year. The movie is a touching movie about growing up and moving on and it provided plenty of laughs to keep me entertained. But as for getting nominated for Best Picture, I am still not sure why it is getting so much love and in some cases, what people think should WIN the award. Again, don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I would have preferred if something else like The Town had taken its place.
8. 127 Hours - What a great one man show by James Franco. He put on an outstanding performance and is truly coming into his own as a top actor in the industry. I would have never predicted that when Jess and I used to be glued to the TV watching him on Freaks and Geeks. And visually, the movie is gorgeous, no doubt aided by the beautiful location in was filmed in. In the end though, I found myself waiting for the arm cutting scene and just wanted them to get to it, even if it signaled the end of the movie. Still, a very good movie about an amazing experience.
7. The Kids Are Alright - Now we are getting down to the truly difficult in the ranking of films. This movie only makes in to #7 and I LOVED it. With outstanding performances, great humor, and enough dilemmas to make you question what you would do if in the same situation of the characters, this movie really touched me. As Jess and I have discussed, it really did a great job of portraying just how awkward a meeting like this would be in real life. The faces and uncomfortable silences were so genuine and believable, no doubt aided by the great performances. I especially liked Mark Ruffalo in this film, but again, he is in that tough Supporting Actor class where the competition is more fierce than ever. I actually felt very sorry for him and found him to be the most likable character in the bunch. I really liked this film.
6. The Social Network - Now you are asking me to choose between my children! Wow, I never imagined this movie would be all the way down at #6. I mean, I loved this film and the writing on it may be the best out of all the nominees. The acting is top-notch (Timberlake can actually act!) and the story is full of so much humor, drama, and intrigue, it is easy to see why this is one of the front runners. It's a wonderful film. I also love the dark look the film had. Overall, this movie is just outstanding and it annoys me when I hear people say that they don't want to see it because "...a movie about Facebook is dumb." It is SO much more than that and the film could have been about any start up company. Top-class.
5. The Fighter - A feel good sports film that really delivers. In fact, this is my favorite sports film since Miracle. It is a wonderful story than is taken to a top level film by its wonderful performances. I have never seen Christian Bale do better. He literally WAS the character his role was based on as evidenced by the footage during the credits. If he ends up winning tonight, which I think he will, he truly deserves it. Leo and Adams were also amazing in the supporting female roles and Walhberg had one of his best performances as well. Everyone likes a good feel-good sports movie and this one took it to another level as it is much more than just a sports film. Much more.
4. Inception - Hard to believe that a movie that I rated a 10/10 back when I saw it would only make it to number 4 on my list. I mean, I LOVED this movie. Visually, this movie is something that needs to be seen to understand and the story and complexity of it (even if it may be based on a Scooge McDuck comic) are just beyond belief. The first half of the movie with the planning of the heist is full of intrigue and when the second half rolls around with the actual heist, I found myself on the edge of my seat the entire time. And that ending, that final scene, was one of the best I, personally, have ever experienced. A truly entertaining science fiction film.
3. True Grit - There really is something magical about a good Western film. Not any Western film, but a truly good one. This easily falls into the category. Although I have, unfortunately, never seen the original and have nothing to base it on, I feel like this was a perfect Western. The performances by Bridges and Steinfeld were absolutely outstanding and there was not one single moment in this film where I was bored or ready for them to move on. I am guessing the film was about two hours long and when the ending did come, it felt like one of the quickest two hours in recent memory. I wanted more and couldn't believe we were already at the end of the adventure.
2. The King's Speech - This was the last of the films that I saw (just saw it last night), and I almost saved the best for last. This is a truly outstanding film. For one, the performances are simply out of this world. Firth truly deserves the Oscar he is going to win tonight and Rush, while I don't feel he deserves it over Bale in The Fighter, also put in a top notch performance. The thing with Rush is, he is SO good, it almost looks effortless for him, like he isn't even acting but just being himself. I am still not sure why Carter was nominated for this film however as, while she was good, didn't think she did QUITE enough to warrant a nomination. Storyline-wise, I was drawn in from the beginning, an achievement for a simple film about a guy trying to get over his stutter. But it felt like a good sports film in terms of feel good achievement. At the end of the film when he is delivering his speech to the nation, I felt as on edge as I have with any good sports film. It was that great of a feel-good moment. A truly remarkable piece of filmmaking. And by the way, this is probably winning tonight.
1. Black Swan - Beautiful. Honestly, I could end the review there. That is a one work description of the film that totally gets the point across of how I feel about this film. I came out of this movie drained because it takes so much out of you. Portman was at her all-time best and makes this movie what it is, but the other supporting performances were also superb. The movie really messes with your mind and although it is obvious that so many of the visuals are simply symbolism and not what is actually happening, the film still oozes with WTF moments that both amaze and creep you out at the same time. And it all leads up to the finale which is one of the most beautiful scenes and endings that I have ever seen put on film. The music, the performance, and the story all came to a head that ended in a denouement that left me absolutely breathless and almost tired. It was just that powerful and has to be seen to believed.
And with that, there is my BRIEF Oscar rundown for tonight. When I started this post, I had every intention to predict every winner for each category, but I have gone on long enough. Jess and I always compete so I will simply let you know later how I did as I usually do pretty well. If you are still reading at this point, thanks for sticking along and ignoring any typos because at this point, I am not going back and proofreading this monster!