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127 Hours
I had such mixed emotions when this movie came out. On the one hand, I was so excited to see it because the trailer looked incredible and I have an undying love for all things James Franco. But on the other hand, I was seriously scared, the way I used to get when I was a kid and was next in line for the front seat of a scary looking roller coaster. I wasn’t sure how well I’d handle the material that had people passing out at early screenings.

127 Hours is the true story of adventurous thrill seeker Aron Ralston, who spent 5 days with his right arm pinned under a boulder in Utah. This movie seemed to boil down to one important question- can James Franco carry a movie almost completely alone? The answer is a resounding yes. Franco’s performance is engaging and incredible. As Aron, his time trapped is spent alternating between being incredibly resourceful and daydreaming about all the things he should have done (for instance, tell someone where he went) that would have changed things. However, I think the film suffers because the end is known. Every moment spent with Aron as he’s trapped is coupled with a level of anxiety, waiting for what is to come. There is a daydream sequence where it begins to rain and Aron’s boulder is lifted away, freeing him and allowing him to escape. But we know the whole time this isn’t real- this isn’t how the story ends. The anxiety that sets in while waiting for the inevitable end result is so overwhelming that when the end does come, it’s a huge relief. It’s an incredible story, but the film remains distinctly average. The whole time I felt as though any moment it would push into being as amazing as it’s lead actor and as inspiring as its source material, but it couldn’t quite clear that hurdle.

Ever since the Academy implemented it’s 10 Best Picture slots, I like to look at selections and determine if I think they’d have been nominated in a 5 Best Picture year. This movie would not have been; it’s definite bottom 5 material. While it boasted a fantastic performance, it just couldn’t build off of that to make the film into something memorable as well. Because it doesn’t do it’s inspiring source material as much justice as expected, I don’t think it’s a strong contender in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.

As for Best Actor, in another year, James Franco might be a frontrunner. His performance as Aron is the best thing about this film. Unfortunately, he has some steep competition and as a first time nominee, he likely won’t take the award home.

The music, both Original Score and Original Song, evoke touching images and match Aron’s spirit and emotion throughout the film. But despite being inspirational, neither are unique enough to stand out amongst the contenders.

One thing the film does get right is its energy, and that is conveyed best through the editing. It’s music video-like beginning captures Aron’s liveliness, and as the film wears on, we are brought in and out of Aron’s thoughts and mind. There are big players in the Best Editing category this year, but the Academy could choose to honor the film here.

Posted on February 15th, 2011 by Jess | Comments Off on Best Picture Nominee: 127 Hours
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Best Original Score
I love film scores- they can evoke not just moments from the film, but the emotions as well.  The best film scores will stick with you, so years to come when you hear a snippet you can still pinpoint the movie.  If you can’t recall the scores from the nominees, iTunes is a great place to listen to the samples and remember (I had to with a few of the entries this year).

127 Hours
Danny Boyle always chooses his music well and while I couldn’t remember the score exactly offhand, a second listen was all I needed to remember how fantastic it was.  It captured Aron’s energy and emotions throughout the film.  It slows down for a rare, sweet moment of sun for Aron, then picks up for the dream sequence and during the final scene to convey the anxiety and urgency he is feeling.

How to Train Your Dragon
This had a great score, with a sweeping and epic theme, like so many great family movies before it.  With it’s fairy tale, action packed style it reminds me of Hercules, with a little bit of Celtic music thrown in to capture the viking’s spirit.  It’s truly grandiose and spectacular, but nothing original.

Now this score was both original AND epic.  No second listen was necessary to remember the booming, intimidating notes of this summer movie’s theme.  Borrowing and slowing down an Edith Piaf tune to weave through the score conveys the tragic romance that lies at the heart of the film.

The King’s Speech
A second listen on iTunes reminded me of this films both touching and, at times, playful score.  But the piece of music I remembered most from this film was actually not part of the original score, but a Beethoven symphony that is played as King George delivers his speech.

The Social Network
This score stuck with me like no other did this year.  From the soft, singular piano notes that play as we see beauty shots of Harvard’s campus, paired with the deep, booming notes warning of the conflict to come, to the faster, electronic music that plays as we are introduced to the final clubs, every note was executed perfectly.  It’s so creative and a breath of fresh air to a category where sometimes the nominees can all start to sound alike.

What Will Win:

The Social Network.  In just three solid notes, you are whisked back to a Harvard dorm room, Jesse Eisenberg’s face illuminated by the soft glow of his computer as his fingers clack away on his keyboard.  Plus, the Academy will think they’re being hip by awarding Trent Reznor an Oscar (Remember Three 6 Mafia?)

What Should Win:

The Social NetworkInception and 127 Hours are close runners up this year, but while their scores are just great, Reznor’s score is iconic.

Posted on February 14th, 2011 by Jess | Comments Off on 2011 Oscars: Best Original Score
Filed Under Entertainment

This morning at 5:30 am et, the Oscar nominations were announced! Here they are…

Best Supporting Actor

  • Christian Bale (The Fighter)
  • John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
  • Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right)
  • Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
  • Jeremy Renner (The Town)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams (The Fighter)
  • Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech)
  • Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
  • Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)
  • Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)

Best Actor

  • James Franco (127 Hours)
  • Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
  • Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
  • Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
  • Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)

Best Actress

  • Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
  • Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
  • Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
  • Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)

Best Animated Film

  • The Illusionist
  • Toy Story 3
  • How to Train Your Dragon

Best Director

  • Darren Aronofsky
  • David O. Russell
  • Tom Hooper
  • David Fincher
  • Joel & Ethan Coen

Best Picture

  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • The King’s Speech
  • 127 Hours
  • The Social Network
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter’s Bone

Continue reading for more categories…

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