Saturday, February 5, 2011

Our Annual Oscar Marathon: Inception, Black Swan, and True Grit

I used to ignore the Oscars. Ever since Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan, I've boycotted them. I felt that the voters were just too wrong in making that decision. Don't get me wrong, Shakespeare was a good movie, but best picture? I don't think so.

But, since being with K, we have had an annual Oscar tradition. Every year, we watch all of the Best Picture nominees and a few of the movies in other categories. Then we join our friends M&R to watch the telecast. We eat, drink, and talk about, debate, and argue over our favorites. And, of course, we run a little betting pool.

This year, I've decided to share my thoughts on the various films. Since I hate jackasses who spoil the ending for me, I'll be sure to write SPOILER ALERT in big letters for any movie that I might discuss the ending or any surprises.

I loved Christopher Nolan's Memento, so I had high hopes for this one. I was very disappointed. It was so bad, that K and I actually considered leaving the theater fifteen minutes in. But, we paid our money, so we stuck it out. It was just too convoluted, weird, confusing and pointless. I got the feeling that they thought of all of the cool special effects first, and then wrote a movie around them. If you haven't seen it, don't waste your time. If you have, my sympathies. If you saw it and enjoyed it, you must have been on some good drugs.

Black Swan
Great concept and good story with a terrific performance from Natalie Portman, but it falls short. The direction fails miserably. The look of the film kept changing throughout. It's as if the director couldn't decide on a style, so he tried many. Darren Aronwhateverthefuckhisnameis had a bad habit of following Natalie Portman around with a jiggling hand held camera. This technique worked to great effect in The Wrestler. Here, it's just annoying. the acting of the mother was OK, but besides her and Natalie, most of the characters were frightfully two dimensional. Everybody seems to be talking about the lesbian sex scene, but it wasn't real interesting. The follow up to it was great though. All in all, the movie fails. If you must see it, watch it for a stellar performance from Natalie Portman. She is all it has going for it.

Once again, a great film from the Coen brothers. I love westerns and this is the best I've seen in a while. The ending is a bit lame, but the Coen brothers have a bad habit of fucking up a great movie by saddling (western pun) it with a shitty ending. In what I think would have been a better ending, Rooster should have climbed back up the hill and started rolling a cigarette. Mattie should have taken it from him, rolled it herself, but instead of giving it to him, she should have smoked it herself. After all, she has just become an adult.

But, the ending is a minor quibble. My biggest complaint with the film, is the fact that Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin are given star billing, but the true star of the film is Haillee Steinfeld. She is in every damn scene, yet she is mention fifth in the credits. I suppose this is because she is a newcomer to Hollywood and has yet to pay her dues. Or, maybe it's because she's a 14 year old girl, and it's the men who get star billing. The film revolves around her, for christsakes. Even more irksome, is the fact that while Jeff Bridges has been nominated for best actor, she has been nominated for best supporting actress. Sorry, she is the film, and she deserves credit for that.

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