The Oscars: May the Best Picture Win
For us movie fans, this past Tuesday was a big day. The nominations for the 83rd Academy Awards were announced. There are many awards presented every year: the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild, the Directors Guild, Producers Guild, and Writers Guild. Critics choose their favorites, too. There are even “awards” for the worst movies of the year, the Razzies, which sometimes overlap the other awards. But nothing matches the Oscars for recognition and excitement.
There are ten films nominated for Best Picture. Some you’ve probably seen, others you intend to see, and a couple might have escaped your notice when they were released. So far, I’ve seen four of the nominated movies but have plans to see at least three more before the Awards broadcast on Sunday, February 27, on ABC.
As I often do, I began comparing these movies, looking for similarities. This year I found the most common theme to be family. The people with whom we share the most – and sometimes, the least. Whether related by blood or by choice, they can influence our emotions and actions. The other thing many of the movies have in common is struggle. The fight to overcome tremendous odds to survive, to be the best, to defeat insecurities and misgivings, and, finally, to win.
The competition is fierce this year. May the Best Picture win.
- Black Swan – Natalie Portman plays Nina Sayers, a ballerina driven by ambition and a desire for perfection as she prepares to star in Swan Lake. But is she pushing herself too hard and too far? Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder, and Vincent Cassel also star.
- The Fighter – Based on the true story of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), his brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), the expectations of family and friends, and the tough world of professional boxing. Melissa Leo and Amy Adams also star.
- Inception – Christopher Nolan continues his exploration of mind and emotion in this film. A combination of science fiction, action-adventure, and thriller, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy, and Cillian Murphy. Director-writer Nolan takes them and us on a journey of dreams and desires. It’ll make you think twice about falling asleep on an airplane.
- The Kids are All Right – A comedy starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo, this is a look at a modern, all –American family. It defies the stereotype and shows that a family isn’t so easily defined these days. The only sure thing is love.
- The King’s Speech – Colin Firth stars in the movie based on the true story of King George VI of Britain. Set in the mid-1930s, it is partly the story of how he ascended the throne when his brother abdicated. But it is more about how the king overcame his stutter through the support of his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) and his speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) and went on to lead a country on the brink of World War II.
- 127 Hours – This harrowing tale of survival is based on the real-life experience of Aron Ralston, played by James Franco. In 2003, while canyoneering alone, Aron fell and was trapped by a boulder, miles from anyone else. As the hours passed, Aron began to realize there was only one way out.
- The Social Network – Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher bring us the story of the creation of Facebook. Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield portray Facebook founders Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, in a movie about making friends and enemies – and a LOT of money. Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, and Rooney Mara also star.
- Toy Story 3 – The last chapter of the story we love. As Andy gets ready to leave for college, his toys, led by Woody and Buzz Lightyear, begin to worry about their own future. Will they remain together or be separated? Or be consigned to the attic and never played with again? A rare animated nominee for Best Picture, the roles of Woody and Buzz are voiced by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. A movie that makes you want to find your old toys and play with them again.
- True Grit -- Mattie Ross is a strong, independent young woman, out to bring her father’s murderer to justice. To that end, she enlists the help of Marshal Rooster Cogburn and Texas Ranger LaBouef to track down the very dangerous Tom Chaney. The Coen Brothers give us a new take on the Charles Portis western novel. Veteran actors Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper star, but newcomer Hailee Steinfeld holds her own as Mattie.
Winter’s Bone -- A drama/mystery set among the impoverished people of Kentucky. The story of a teenage girl’s desperate search for her missing father and her deep love for her family. Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes lead a cast that also includes Sheryl Lee.
Of course, most of these films also have nominations in other categories, particularly acting. I’ll be covering the acting categories in my next entry.