The Fighter Melissa Leo & Christian Bale deliver heartbreaking performances that should garner Oscar nominations at minimum, though Oscar wins are decidedly in order. The film skips key moments in Micky Ward’s career in favor of key moments in Micky Ward’s life, and the film is a well executed biopic worthy of exorbitant ticket prices.
The Social Network Put Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher together and one expects brilliance. What was unexpexted was Jessie Eisenberg’s star turn as the creator of Facebook. He was excellent in “The Squid and the Whale” and “The Education of Charlie Banks” but he may have a legitimate shot at Best Actor for his work in “The Social Network”. Beware, this isn’t an action film, it is quite wordy and requires a lot of attention throughout, though it pays dividends in the end.
True Grit The Coen Brothers and Josh Brolin return to the American West after their hugely successful hit “No Country for Old Men”. Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon play convincing frontiersmen, and Hailee Steinfeld was phenomenal at the upstart cowgirl Mattie Ross. That said, while the performances were excellent, I found the film had problems with pacing and editing, and do not find it to be of the same caliber as previous Coen Brothers efforts.
127 Hours If anyone can make a film set almost entirely in a dark canyon interesting it is Danny Boyle. Best known for his work as director of “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Trainspotting”, “127 Hours” is a visually stunning film that announces James Franco as a legitimate dramatic leading man and contender for this year’s Best Actor award. There is a graphic scene featuring amputation, but the real heart wrenching moments come much earlier.
The American George Clooney plays an American hitman in Italy. Looking for a way out, he falls in love with an Italian prostitute and tries to escape his past transgressions. Is he successful? You’ll have to watch the film, but it was nice to see Clooney play it completely straight and finally look his age, though still quite handsome. Fans of the “Ocean’s Eleven” series will notice that “The American” is quite different in tone, but it’s still a worthwhile film with crisp dialogue and some exciting action sequences.
Black Swan Natalie Portman is phenomenal as the disturbed ballerina Nina Sayers. The film has moments of directorial brilliance, something I expected from Aronofsky after his work with “Requiem for a Dream”. The film is a fascinating commentary on the power of the human mind in the fulfillment of dreams, though I don’t see it winning Best Picture, as has been discussed. That said, it’s beautifully shot, and I can see it winning much deserved awards for cinematography.
Love and Other Drugs The trailer for “Love and Other Drugs” reminds us of “Jerry Maguire” and other Cameron Crowe films. Successful but lonely protagonist finds flawed love interest and they overcome the odds. The odds in “Love and Other Drugs” come in the form of Parkinson’s Disease. It’s a darker take on the young 20’s love story, and certainly more heartbreaking, but this is a great little film with wonderful performances by both Hathaway and Gyllenhaal.
The Kids are All Right Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore and Annette Bening team for a roller coaster ride that exposes an intriguing issue at the center of debate in our society. Ruffalo plays a free spirit who, after donating sperm 19 years prior, becomes a part of his progenie’s lives. The catch? The kids are raised by lesbian mothers. The film is brilliantly written, with witty banter and emotional scenes that tug at the heart strings.
Toy Story 3 Remember Up? Last year’s seemingly underdog animated film was nominated for Best Picture, ushering in a new age where live action no longer holds dominion over the Academy’s most coveted prize. All the usual suspects are back, with voices provided by the likes of Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, Joan Cusack and more. Like Up, I’m simply impressed that the story can keep both young and old interested, movies rarely win the hearts and minds of multiple demographics, but good ones do, and this one deserves credit.
The King’s Speech What can I say about this film? Simply put, it’s an utterly captivating movie that doesn’t woo the audience with special effects but rather with amazing dialogue, a quality story and one hell of a good performance by Colin Firth, (playing the stammer plagued King George VI). Helena Bonham Carter doesn’t disappoint as a very convincing Queen Elizabeth and in my opinion Geoffrey Rush deserves to be nominated for best supporting actor as the king’s speech therapist.